Thursday, January 29, 2015

2nd Annual CJ's Resolution Challenge

The 2nd Annual CJ's Resolution Challenge has come and gone and I'd like to finally take some time to remember everything about the day that made it so special.  
And as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.   
Race Prep!
2015 CJ's- RC Revolution Runners
RC Revolution Runners

RC Revolution Runners
RC Revolution Runners
RC Revolution Runners
Team RWB takes on CJ's!
2nd Annual CJ's Resolution Challenge
Kids take on CJ's!!!

Last Man Standing 2015
(All photos courtesy of Bo Hagaman of See PA Run!)
The race grew quite a bit this year from 77 participants in 2014 to 124 this year.  Enough growth that we'll be working with Integrity Sports (PA Runners) to chip time our 2016 race! We also added a virtual option for out-of-towners that had 43 participants across 15 different states plus Germany!  We raised over $8300 to support the Operation Jack Autism Foundation and Geisinger's Autism & Developmental Medicine Institute. 

I feel we got great positive feedback and encouragement to keep coming back.  Below are my favorite comments.

Sean M. - Awesome job by everyone involved with CJ's Resolution Challenge today...especially the hardy volunteers who stood out in the beautiful weather all day! Can't wait until next year! Great seeing familiar faces today! First class event, first class volunteers, and first class soup!

Eve-Marie - This was awesome . The sleet added to the fun. Friendly runners and volunteers. The course was wonderful. Could not have asked for a better outcome to event. The fire and hot soup was a plus.

Chris V. - Great race for an awesome cause. Highly recommend it, and will definitely do it again.

Janine G. - Really fun format, great food. Really enjoyed this race the last two years. The format allows for a wide range of participation, and is also a great way to get in some long training miles in safety and relative comfort given the typical weather in January.

Carla C. - This was so much fun! The weather was a challenge but it added to the adventure. Great event!

Kimarie - Loved CJ's Challenge! Beautiful location, friendly and supportive runners and well managed race! Food was great too! :)

Darcy I. - Great event ! 1st year I did Last Man Standing. 2nd year RC Revolutions. Both times I had a blast. Can't wait for the 3rd one !!!

Jay M. - Had a great time at this event. Original, challenging, well supported and all for a great cause!

As the race director, I work really hard to make my vision of this event a reality.  So comments like these make me so happy that I could burst!  I think the race format is great, I've called it customize-able because it truly is.  If participants want to walk a lap and then hang out by the fire they are welcome to do so.  If you want to come and run hard for over twenty miles, you are welcome to do that too!  I think the fundraising is going well with lots of room to grow.  And the autism awareness part of the event became a little more evident this year with representatives from not only ADMI and Operation Jack, but also ASERT Autism Resources and Verbal Beginnings, LLC.

I am overjoyed with this year's event and I am just so grateful to every single person who came to participate, who helped me spread the word, who stressed out with me during planning, who happily volunteered to cook, play music, or volunteer in anyway.  It takes so many people playing so many different roles to bring it together and I could never do it without you.  

Special thanks to the Mid Penn Trailblazers, PA Runners, Nittany Valley Running Club, Penn-York Valley Running Club, Team Taper, and Team RWB for their support of this race and for spreading the word.

Thanks to Dee and Ruth for the delicious soup.  Thanks to Kevin and Brandi for the use of their heaters and generator.  Thank you to the Steve and the Bucknell Crew team for lending their tent.  Thanks to Corey for making some really nice signs for the event.  Thanks to everyone who donated and bid for our basket auction.  Thanks to all our sponsors, especially Inside Track- Lewisburg, Blaise Alexander Ford, Boop's Welding, Chicadee Hand Crafted Jewelry, and Andre from A. W. Entertainment.

Thank you to Sam for your unending support of this race and for believing in it before I did.  Thank you to Megan and Dr. Challman for supporting the race and for representing ADMI.  Thanks to Erin for being present for Cullen and sharing what ABA Therapy is all about.  Thanks to Megan from ASERT Autism Resources for sharing what's available in PA for those affected by autism.  

And thank you to my mom, my right hand through it all.

I love putting on this race, and I hope to do it for many years.  
Thank you!!!
"CJ," the big guy that sparked a movement!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

2014 Year in Review

Before moving on to the new year, I must take a little time to reflect on 2014.  I set some hefty goals for myself and want to review those now.  
  • Run another 15 races this year ~ YES!  Brought in fourteen races in 2014 plus my first ever triathlon and the Santa's Seven Miler Fun Run.   
    Santa's Seven Miler 2014!
  • Sub 3:50 marathon (with my BFF Crystal) ~ MISSED.  Both my marathons were bummers this year at over four hours.  On the plus side, I did get to run most of my third marathon with Crystal. 
  • Sub 1:45 half marathon ~ MISSED.  But I did get a new half marathon PR.
  • Sub 2:30 Dam Half ~ YES! 2:28:16
  • Sub 23 minute 5k ~ MISSED. Although if my 5k in April had actually measured out to 3.1 miles it would have been a PR. And I do think sub-23.
  • Between my own and my family's efforts, raise a grand total of $17,500 for autism ~ YES! I don't have an exact figure, but we have raised well over $20,000.  Can you believe it?!?!?!
  • Cheer Aaron on as he rocks his first marathon this year ~ The Mount Nittany Marathon was the first and only race I went to as spectator and I got to say, I had so much fun!   

Many missed goals there.  I think of my running anniversary as September 2012, even though I had run off and on before then.  I guess that's just because that is the first time I ever trained and ran with real purpose.  So 2013 I set a lot of PRs and made a lot of progress, and all that progress slowed down quite a bit in 2014.  Maybe I set my sights a little too high or maybe I didn't put forth enough effort.  I'm not really sure.  But when I look back at the year I'm still really proud of all I accomplished, despite not meeting many goals.

So of what am I most proud?  Well, I'm proud that I competed in my first triathlon.  I'm proud of my daughter for running her first fun run, and of Cullen for doing his second one.  I'm thrilled to have been part of all this autism awareness and advocacy.  I'm glad I didn't quit at Philly when that's all I could think about.  I'm blown away that my feet carried me 1,545 miles over 365 days.  2014 was a really great year and I have so much for which to be thankful.  
River Towns, Frosty 5k, Humdinger, Pace to a Pint

Philly, Wetonah, Smith's Knob, De-Feet 10k, Dam Half, ADMI 5k, Sick Trail,
NVHM, LARA Tri, Dandelion, Tussey

I'm grateful for the life I live.  I am wildly blessed and I know this.  So what's in store for 2015?  Well, I guess I might as well throw down some goals now.  
~ Run 1600 miles
~ Compete in olympic distance triathlon
~ Sub 3:50 marathon
~ Sub 1:45 half marathon
~ Sub 23 5k (I just can't let these speedy goals go)
~ Compete in 15 races for the year. (Seems like a good number!)
~ Take Team CJ to a spring and fall race.
~ Start the groundwork for creating my own autism foundation
~ I'd also really like to do a half Ironman, a 50k, run all the Tussey Teasers, and complete the Trophy Series.  But seriously, there is just not enough time.  

It will be interesting to see how much I can do.  But I'd rather set lofty goals and fail than set conservative goals that when reached don't really feel like accomplishments.  So farewell 2014 and welcome 2015!  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tussey mOUnTaiNBACK Relay & Nittany Valley Half Marathon

If you know me at all, you know it pains me to write my blog out of sequence.  I made an exception for the Philly Marathon because it helped me get over that disappointment.  So even though I really want to write about CJ's, I must wrap up some of the highlights of 2014.  So first, from October 19th, the Tussey mOUnTaiNBACK 50 Mile Relay and Ultramarathon.  This is such a cool event that I had kind of heard of but never really paid attention to until my tri-team, Team Taper, decided to take a few teams.  You can run it solo as an ultra, or team up with other runners for a team of two through eight.  My team, Ciao Belle!, consisted of myself, Barb, and Sayard.  My hubs was on a team called We're Tapering with Dennis and Ed.  Our final team had six runners, Kelley, Lisa, Elizabeth, Jim, Laurel, and Michelle and called themselves MMMmmmGood.  This was only my second relay, and I am a big fan!  They are such fun!!!  My first was the 100 on 100 in Vermont, and I loved it.  If you ever need another teammate for your team, think of me!

Team Ciao Belle! ready to go!
So my husband's team had been picking on my team quite a bit in the month leading up to the race.  All in good fun, but they really lit a fire under each of us.  Their team order was Dennis, Aaron, Ed and our team was Sayard, me, and Barb.  Dennis arrived at T1 before Sayard and I panicked a little!  Aaron took off down the hill and around the bend before Sayard arrived.  So I took off as quick as I could.  Once I got around the bend I caught a glimpse of Aaron's orange shirt, and I knew it, I was going to catch him.  Our first leg was four miles, and I didn't catch him until about halfway through, but I caught him, passed him, and put distance between us.  Once done I looked at my watch and realized I had run an average pace of 6:36!!!!!  Say what!?  The entire leg was downhill, but still!

Sayard having way too much fun!
Barb kept distance between our two teams but we still didn't have a commanding lead, so all during my next leg I was afraid Aaron would catch me.  This leg was also completely downhill and only 3.4 miles long.  My average pace for this one was 7:19.  Again I say to you, say what?!  By my third leg we had worked more space between us and the boys, and I was starting to get tired, but I still ran the 4.3 downhill miles with a 7:55 pace.  For my last leg we had a pretty good lead over those boys (hee hee), but man I was dog tired.  And this was my longest and an almost all uphill leg, ouch!  I walked the worst of it and was majorly slow with an average pace of 10:23 for the 5.3 miles.  I was so happy to be done!

My legs were 2, 5, 8, and 11....glad I didn't have 6!

The boys finished in 7:12:18 with an average pace of 8:39/M, 6th out of ten in their division.  And how did we stack up?  We placed first of three in our division with a time of 6:38:05, an average pace of 7:58/M!  Afterwards we enjoyed a meal and a few laughs together.  Such a fun, fun day!

Team Taper at Tussey!
Next up, the Nittany Valley Half Marathon on December 7th.  I had run the Philadelphia Marathon on 11/23 and it was a major disappointment for me.  Running this half was a last minute decision.  I knew my friend Shelley was planning on running it, so I got in touch with her the day before the race to see if I could tag along.  Luckily, they had a spot in their car for me!  So I met up with Joel, Shelley, and Tricia to ride along to State College together.  It was cold and very windy that morning. My half marathon PR was 1:49:08, and I had no plans whatsoever on trying to beat that this day.  I thought I'd just be happy to sub-2 due to the cold and the fact that I had run Philly two weeks prior.  At the start I made a conscious effort not to try to keep up with Tricia and Shelley, because they are both faster than I am.  
Start of the 31st Annual NVHM!
I felt really good and warmed up pretty quickly.  I was listening to music, something I never do anymore unless on the treadmill, but I felt there was safety in numbers.  I mentally broke the race down into shorter segments and just focused on getting 5k, then 10k, then 10 miles, then the last 5k.  I didn't bother looking at my watch because I just didn't want to feel any pressure.  However, at the ten mile point I just had to know and I took a peek.  I realized I could PR!  I knew that the last 1.25 miles were up, but I still thought I could do it. 
I just felt like running!

NVHM Elevation Profile
The final hill was seriously not that bad.  I think what's hard about it is that you think you've reached the top, but you have to turn left and keep climbing.  Then you think you've reached the top again, but again you have to turn left and keep on climbing!  Fortunately, Shelley had given me a heads-up on that so I was prepared.  So I did in fact eek in a new half marathon PR with a 1:48:43, average pace of 8:18.  I even placed!  I got third of thirty-three in my AG (F30-34), and overall I was 158/533.  This race felt like redemption from my poor performance at Philly.  It reminded me that no matter how we train or how we prepare, everyone has bad days.  Those lows have to be felt so you can truly appreciate the highs.