Saturday, November 21, 2015

Lewisburg Sprint Tri & Keystone State Olympic Tri

Wow.  Time has really gotten away from me again.  These races were back in August.  I'm certain the details will not be the best at this point, but I'll do my best.
Lewisburg Sprint Tri 
So the Lewisburg Sprint Tri was held Saturday, August 8th.  This is a 300 yard pool swim, 15 mile bike ride, and 3.25 mile run.  I competed in it last year as my first ever triathlon, and this year it would only be my second. I managed to improve my overall time from last year's 1:35:38 to an overall time of 1:28:57.  Not bad, right?! Here are my individual sport times for last year and this year:
2014- swim 10:24 (7/9) bike 57:06 (3/9) run 27 (3/9) Total time- 1:35:38 (3/9)
2015- swim 8:22 (8/12) bike 52:50 (3/12) run 26:47 (2/12) Total time- 1:28:57 (3/12)

I feel like I worked really hard and earned that improvement.  I also have to give a HUGE shout out to my Team Taper friends.  These people are so amazingly kind and encouraging and helpful.  Being still so very new to the sport, I feel lucky to have them in my life.

Keystone State Triathlon
I decided early on in the year that I wanted to try out the next distance in triathlon, the olympic.  I searched for one toward the end of the season that wasn't too far away.  This one fit the bill.  Held at Gifford Pinchot State Park in Lewisberry, PA on Sunday, August 30th, it offered super sprint tri, sprint tri, sprint du, and olympic races, as well as relay options.  The olympic would include a 0.9 mile lake swim, 27 mile (3- nine mile loops) bike, and a 6.2 mile run (two 5k lollipops).  I learned last year that I have anxiety in open water.  It's not a fear I'm conscious of, meaning I get in the water feeling completely fine.  But as I swim I notice I can't breathe, and no matter how I try to catch my breath, it snowballs until I find myself treading water or floating on my back gasping for air.

It. Is. Awful.

While training I had one (yes, only one) successful OWS where I did not panic.  The two swims I had immediately prior to Keystone were horrendous.  I had serious doubts about getting into the lake on race day.  I voiced my fears to a lot of friends and got a lot of opinions back.  The one that resonated with me came from my friend Stephanie.  She said, "I think you can do it.  What if you drop to the sprint and have no problems?  I think you'll be more disappointed that you didn't try than if you do try and fail."  She had a point.

So on race day, I arrived just hoping for the best.  There is a song from Building 429 called Impossible. Here are its lyrics: 
you can rise above the typical and be anything but usual 
we know we know we know there is no such thing as impossible
and nothing is unreachable when we trust the god of miracles
we know we know we know there is no such thing as impossible

we were never given the spirit of fear
only the power of love
we'll keep on running and not grow weak his strength is more than enough
we know we know we know there is no such thing as impossible

I found myself swimming and breathing with NO FEAR for the entire 0.9 mile swim all the while with this song repeating in my head.  I couldn't believe it.  I still can't believe it.  I exited the water and made my way to transition with a dumb grin on my face because I had done it.  Sure, I still had 33.2 miles to cover, but as far as I was concerned, the hardest part was over.  Swim time- 33:33 T1- 2:40

The bike is a nine mile loop that you have to do three times.  There is a great downhill (that thanks to my friend, Dennis, I got to practice on), but there is also a pretty awful uphill.  It was on my second time up that hill that my chain popped off.  Not only did it pop off, but it got jammed next to the frame.  I had to get off my bike, flip it over, and really work to get it loose.  I had sweat rolling in my eyes and grease all over the dang place.  But eventually I got it right and in the end I don't think I lost that much time.  I caught up to my friend Barb near the end of the last loop.  It was nice to get some encouraging words from her.  Bike time- 1:39:09 T2- 1:47

The run is on a trail by the lake through the woods.  Its a lollipop that you have to do twice.  I hated the beginning section because it was these big stones that are okay to walk on, but no fun for running.  Fortunately, it was a very short section.  Otherwise, it was a nice run.  I was certainly tired and I did walk up some small hills but only allowed it during climbs.  I got to the finish feeling amazing.
Run time- 53:47

Total time- 3:10:57

I placed 36/74 overall, 9/20 women, 1/3 in my AG.  This race was my first olympic, my first open water race, so I have nothing to compare it to.  So that being said, I wasn't that impressed.  The volunteers at registration were good.  But there was no aid on the bike course at all.  There were volunteers who were supportive and encouraging, but how about a bit of water?  There wasn't an aid station near transition either.  In fact, there was only one aid station in the entire race and it was positioned in the run.  This one, lonely aid station was out of water by the time I got on my second loop.  This race was in August.  Its hot in August.  And I've been moving for three hours now.  When I got back to the finish I learned there were no finisher medals, so that was kinda a bummer.  Since this was a first for me it was a big deal.  Fortunately, I placed so I still got one.  What was much, much worse was that there was no water at the finish.  


No water at a race?!  In August, no less!!  How could this be?!?!  They had to realize they were running low.  Why didn't someone run out for some more?!  A stranger saw my desperation and generously gave me his bottle.  It was a great day for me and a nice venue, but seriously, something like no water for the athletes will turn people away from ever coming back.  After all, I did pay $100 to participate in this race.  Water should be supplied.  But I digress.....  

Once again I am grateful to my friends in Team Taper.  Without their support, I don't know that I would have had the courage to try.  And because of their awesome encouragement, I registered for a half Ironman.  I'll be racing Timberman 70.3 in August 2016.  I'm freaking out a little, but I know I can do it with a little help from my friends.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

North! To Alaska!!!

Last year in May my best friend moved to Sitka..... that's in Alaska.  When she left my house (in Pennsylvania) to continue her Cape Cod to AK trek I was so heartbroken.  We've had to hug and say 'see ya later' many times, but this time was especially hard because our next get together was not yet determined.  Furthermore, I would no longer be able to take a long weekend and drive to see her.  Getting to Alaska would take a lot of planning, time off work, cash, etc.  So watching her drive away was exceptionally hard.

I met Crystal at our husbands' first duty station, USCG Station Oak Island.  It didn't take too long before she and Joe were family.  Its not often that people like them come into your lives.  When they do, you treasure them.

My husband only served four years in the Coast Guard and then we moved home.  Crystal and Joe would move to other east coast places and we could visit with relative ease.  So even though Alaska would greatly limit the frequency of our visits, I was happy for Joe in this opportunity to advance his career and excited for all the adventures that Crystal would surely be able to experience.

In October of last year Alaska Airlines had a sale, supposedly the lowest prices of the year.  Now was my chance!  Crystal and I feverishly made our plans and I purchased the tickets..... for June 2015.  It was still going to be a wait, and over a year would have passed until I got to see my friend.  But at least I knew when that would be.

As she shared pictures of her Alaskan Adventures I kept a checklist of all the things I wanted to do and see while we visited.  One thing was clear, we were going to be busy!  So now our trip has come and gone with so many adventures and memories made.  I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.....
All ready to fly!

Really amazing bear sanctuary that rescues orphaned cubs.

Medvejie Pre-Party!

Medvejie Scenery- you'll see amazing views of nature (and mountain rescue heavily armed!)

I want to ride my bicycle!

Harbor Mountain- my favorite hike of the trip!

Verstovia (aka Vitruvious in my mind)- my 2nd favorite hike

Shooting Range Fun!

Awsesome fishing trip- thank God for scopalomine!

Herring Cove Hike

Indian River Hike

Our last sunset

Only Fools Run at Midnight 5k

Our last morning we went to Totem Park and got to check out the tide pools.

After our morning at Totem Park (with delicious coffee from Fish Eye Coffee) it was time to get ready to board our flight.  Again, it was with a very heavy heart because we didn't have next time figured out.  Fortunately that problem has been resolved and another trip is booked!  I'll be visiting Crystal in Kansas City later this year.

Our Alaskan Adventure was one I will never forget.  The majestic beauty of the island, the hospitality of the locals, and the laughter shared with best friends have all been indelibly fixed in my memory..... especially the laughter.  


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Rothrock Trail Challenge 2015

The 7th Annual (my first) Rothrock Trail Challenge was held on Saturday, June 6th at the Tussey Ski Area in Boalsburg, PA.  This race is part of both the LaSportiva Mountain Cup Series and the Trailrunner Magazine's Trophy Series.  The race's website states that "Our course is designed to reward those who have trained and to punish those who haven't."
RTC Elevation Profile

I was really concerned about the start of the race and voiced that fear publicly.  Friends said not to worry about the beginning but to worry about this part, or that part, or the end.  So then I just worried about the whole thing.  Ha!  But, I left there that day feeling that I had found a new favorite.  This race is beautiful, challenging, well-organized, and fun!
Sayard, Dennis, and Myself post-race

Certainly not my fastest performance, I finished 215/386 overall, 24/51 in my AG (F30-39) with a time of 4:29:49.  That's a 15:41/pace.  I was actually quite pleased because I was just hoping to come under 5 hours!
Don't ya just love trail grit?!
Photos courtesy of See PA Run and Amey Johnson

I'm not going to write a full race recap because honestly I waited too long to remember the details.  But I will say this, I will do this race again in the future without hesitation.  What I loved about it the most was that my body would be pushed to the limit on a climb, or a descent, or a really rocky portion of trail and just when I thought I could go no further, the trail would change and give me something different.  The beauty of the trail and the woods toward the end of the race erased the pain of the previous four hours before I even crossed the finish line.
Just keep climbing!

Once across the finish line we were treated to some lunch.  I grabbed some pizza, a chocolate milk, and a ginger ale.  An ice cream truck came as well and I would have loved to have some but just worried my stomach wouldn't handle it.

I often wonder if trail races are all like this no matter where you go, or if I've just been fortunate to live in an area that has races like these.  What I mean is, when I go to these things, it feels like a family reunion.  You get to catch up with friends, eat a bunch of food, maybe drink a beer, and just have a really great time.  Whatever the case may be, Rothrock is an outstanding time and I cannot wait to go back.
Good times, great people!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Chief Wetona 2015

The 2nd Annual Chief Wetona Challenge was held on Sunday, May 17th in Mt. Pisgah State Park in Troy, PA.  In addition to the seven mile course, a half marathon distance was also added this year.  I opted for the short course though because I ran a marathon two weeks before, and two weeks before that was Hyner.  My friend Amy and I traveled to the race together.  Amy has been known as "Buff Fitness Girl" in previous blog posts of mine.  One day I hope to be as fit and fast as she is.  We got pretty mixed up on our way to the race and didn't have a whole lot of time to spare once we finally arrived.  We got our stuff, used the restrooms, and warmed up before the pre-race announcements.

I ran this race last year, so I'll spare you my blow-by-blow, but below is a course description for the short course from fellow trail runner, Brian Kunkle.
The Chief Wetona Challenge, named for a native American significant to the area, is a two loop course.  The first loop begins just below the parking area, following the lake for a few hundred yards (with the lake on your right), before ducking in into the woods and climbing back up to the level of the parking area.  After crossing a small foot bridge the course climbs a short but steep, grassy hill up to the park's nature centre.  The few hundred feet of elevation gained is quickly lost on a rocky, but fast and wide descent back to lake level.  From there the course circumnavigates the lake on mostly rolling trail, putting runners back at the start line in under three miles.  The short climb from the beginning of the race feels twice as long as it does the first time around.  About half way around the lake the 2nd loop diverges from the first, hanging a left, rather than keeping right, and ventures off into even muddier territory.  The majority of the 7 mile race's 1,000ft of climbing comes in the second loop.  The trail wanders up muddy double track and grassy paths cut through open fields before climbing the "Haymaker" trail to the course's highest point at around mile 6.  Once atop "Haymaker" the course follows a farm access road back down the hill, before veering to the right and sloshing its way down a drenched power line cut.
Don't forget ladies- Fit is the New Skinny

I didn't run the long course myself, but I did hear of several folks getting lost.  Race director, John Johnson, was very apologetic and open to suggestions on how to ensure that it doesn't happen again next year.  But as my friend Sayard said, "that's just a part of the sport!"
Betsy, Cathy, Sayard, and Myself post-race

I finished the 7+ mile race in 1:09:22 with a 9:36/pace.  I was 17th of 95 overall and 2nd of 19 in my age group (F30-39).  My friend Amy finished first in our age group with a time of 1:06:14!
Amy being amazing!!

I love this race.  I love the trails and I love the park.  I love the people and I love  the food. Seriously, what more can I say?!  Join us next year!
D-O-N-E !!!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Team CJ at River Towns 2015

After a successful inaugural running in 2014 I knew I'd want to organize Team CJ again for another race and fundraising event.  Last year we raised about $7500.  Proceeds were donated to the Operation Jack Autism Foundation and the Geisinger Autism & Developmental Medicine Institute (ADMI). With race director Bob Stoudt's blessing, I decided to bring the team back to River Towns Half & Full Marathon on May 2, 2015.  The team grew to thirty-three runners strong, seven for the full marathon and 26 for the half marathon.

Marathoners- Jared, Jenn, Janell, Glen, Erin (not pictured- Adrian & James)

Half Marathoners- Erica, Kelli, Christa, Brenda, Steph, Krista, Shelby, Penny, Ali, Greta, Shannon,
Kevin, Brandi, Tina, Kelly, Maggie, Justin, Kristen, Julie
(not pictured- Don, Tammy, Jen, Julia, Michelle, Ed, Casey)
I am still absolutely amazed by this group of people.  Just like last year, I didn't know everybody on the team.  Friends recruited their friends and the team just grew.  Regrettably I didn't get to meet everyone by the end of the day, but I hope everyone knows how grateful I am to each of you.  We raised a total of $8717!  That's over $1000 more than in our inaugural running!  You are an amazing bunch and I'm so fortunate to have you in my life, if only for one day.  I loved seeing the blue shirts out there along the race course and hearing of friendships forming along the run.  I love everything about doing this!

There are some really noteworthy things I need to share.

~Jenn and Erin ran their first marathon with Team CJ this year (and Erin her first half marathon with the team in 2014!)
Erin crossing that finish line!

~Jared used the marathon as a training run for his first 100k, and "accidentally" PR'd his marathon!
Jared cruising!

~Shannon took First Woman Overall for the Half Marathon!

~Krista took Second Woman Overall for the Half Marathon!
Places 2nd while setting a new PR!!!

~"CJ" isn't the only autistic child for which we run.  Current statistics are 1 in 68, so many of the team know someone.  For example, meet Landon's Entourage!

Our gracious host, RD Bob Stoudt, has already invited us back for next year.  In fact, he's extended an invitation for two of MARC's races, the hilariously fun Humdinger as well as River Towns Half & Full Marathon.  Those details will be worked out later this year.  For now, know that the Humdinger is an early March race and River Towns is early May.

More pressing is what Team CJ is doing this fall.  We're going to be running the Runner's World Half & Festival!!!  And yes, I'm talking about Runner's World the magazine!  This is a fun filled weekend in Bethlehem, PA October 16-18.  Friday is an expo, Saturday is a 5k and 10k, and Sunday is the half marathon.  Team CJ teammates will have the option to run the 5k, 10k, Five & Dime (5k & 10k), Half Marathon, or the Hat Trick (all three races!)  Interested???  Or know someone else who might be?  Contact me!!!
Join the fun this fall!

So finally, I just want to say one more thank you.  You all have inspired and encouraged me and lifted me up.  Your acts of kindness give me such hope for the future and fill my heart with gratitude.  It may have been just a race to you, but it means so much more than that to me.  Thank you.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Hyner View Trail Challenge 25k

The 10th Annual Hyner View Trail Challenge 25k & 50k was held on Saturday, April 18th.  It was my first try at Hyner and I was nervous!  Standing at the starting line, all I could think was, "Man, I wish I had run more hill repeats."  Check out the elevation profile and you'll understand why.

But there are only three "hills!"
From the race website- "The course is set up to challenge each individual both mentally and physically. There are three major climbs and three major descents over a course filled with vistas, stream crossings, and single track paths. The HVTC is part of Trailrunner Magazine's Trophy Series and is the 2nd race in the Central Pa Trophy Series."

Where's Waldo?
I'll give you a hint- top right corner.
The 50k started at 8am and the 25k kicked off at 9am.  I was standing in a sea of about 1000 people and each one of us knew about the bottleneck that was about to happen.  So everyone sprints like heck across the bridge trying to get a better position and then we all come to a screeching halt once we reach the trail.

Go!  Sprint!  Screeeech!!!
After walking a really pleasant single track (Thank you, Bottleneck!) you start up Humble Hill to the race's namesake, Hyner View.  I enjoyed this climb of the race most of all. 

Things are about to get real.
It was at the bottom of Humble Hill that I ran into Brian Kunkle.  He and I had officially met once before, but this was the first time we chatted.  He writes a good blog of his own that you can check out by following the link.  I hung with him to the top of Hyner View where he disappeared down the other side and I never saw him again.  Downhill and I are still working on our relationship.

The view is stunning and the photo does it no justice.
The first descent really wasn't all that bad.  It was the next climb that had me hating life.  I know this is going to sound ridiculous, but I almost didn't realize I was climbing because of all the rocks and creek crossings.  I was actually happy when I reached the climb called "S.O.B." because I knew I was officially out of that rock nightmare.  The S.O.B. is a butt-ugly climb where you quit literally have to claw your way to the top because it is that steep.

Photos courtesy
Perhaps the worst thing about the S.O.B. is that you think you are done climbing, but take another look at the elevation profile, you actually continue to run at an incline on a jeep road for a little bit longer before beginning your final descent.  The last descent was a beautiful run, and I would have enjoyed it a whole lot more if my quads would have not been on fire.
Almost home.
Eventually you reach the road and cross the bridge once more.  I refused to walk, even though my legs were toasted.  As a cruel joke the course finishes on one last hill, but then you can celebrate at one of the best post-race parties around!  Or, like me, find a nice patch of grass to lay down in and focus on not hurling.

Smiling because the man handing out water to finishers was wearing a CJ's Resolution Challenge shirt!
My thought bubble would read, " Don't throw up.  Don't throw up.  Don't throw up."
A bit about the race- it was amazingly well organized from registration through post-race party.  Parking was no big deal, packet pick up was easy, finding porta-johns was not a problem, and getting to the start was just a short walk across the road.  The course was well marked and groomed.  The three aid stations were well stocked and manned by super volunteers.  The post-race party seemed like it would have been a blast, had I not been warding off puking.  
I finished my first try at Hyner with a 4:14:02, a 15:18/pace.  I placed 24/141 in my AG (F 30-39) and 269/1003 overall (includes hikers.)  I was unable to walk normally for about five days, thanks to some burned up quadriceps.  If you had asked me at the finish line if I'd be back next year you would have gotten a resounding, "Hell no!"  But if you ask me today, you'd find out I can't wait to return.
Photos courtesy of See PA Run. Thanks, Bo!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Autism Awareness 5k 2015

On Sunday, April 12th I had the pleasure of running in the 3rd Annual Autism Awareness 5k.  I ran this race last year as well.  Each year since its inception the course has been at a different location, and I think they may have found a winner this year.  It starts near the track at Bucknell University and is a double loop around campus.
My hubby is such a good sport!
Also new this year was the addition of fun family activities.  So my husband brought the kids to play while I ran.  There was a DJ playing fun music, including many Disney favorites!  There was also dancing, face painting, and bubbles (my kids' favorite!)
Dancing Queen!
My fellow autism mom, Kristen, was running again this year too, and I hoped just to keep her in sight for a chance of getting a new 5k PR.  I'd have to beat my 23:09.  I ran a pretty good race, but didn't manage a PR.  While I don't have an official time, my Garmin gave me a 23:11.  So close, bummer, right?!  But there was a heck of a hill and it had to be run twice, so perhaps on a flatter course I'll stand a chance.
9th Overall, 4th Female Overall
The event was organized by Bucknell's BRAIN Club with help from a few of ADMI's Advisory Council members.  Proceeds from the race would benefit ADMI.  I feel like this is one heck of an event that will only keep getting better.  Runners and walkers and strollers welcome!
Perhaps the best part about the day is the feeling of belonging.  I feel that many people there had a connection to autism.  Its so nice to find a place where you can let loose and relax.
We run for CJ!