Archive for the ‘ Races ’ Category

Firecrack 4-miler

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I’m so EXCITED! I officially signed up for my first race after my injury. It’s the Firecracker 4-miler in Cranford, NJ. Guaranteed to be, well, a blast! 🙂

The race boast tree lined streets and bike trails complete with water stations and a USATF certified course. The festivities don’t stop with the end of the race though. There’s an after party with refreshments, balloons, popcorn, music and face painting. A perfect gathering for the whole family! Best part? Entrants not only get a commemorative race t-shirt, but a Firecracker pint glass as well!  I can’t wait! 🙂

Happy running, my friends! 😀

Are You a Fan of Fad Runs?

Color_RunThere is a new breed of racing running rampant around the country. Tough Mudder, Spartan, Mud Run, Zombie Chases, Color Runs, and now Electric Runs (think neon lights and glow sticks). Bored with running a 5k? Not interested in a PR? Want to entice your non-running buddies into joining your uber-fun relay team? Don’t worry! There’s a whole slew of new, exciting races just for you! At least that’s what the organizers of these new races would like you to think and get you to sign up for these runs. More expensive than their same-distance counterparts, these new fun runs are filled with anything and everything that might keep your attention. And if your interested in obstacles and entertainment more than running, then you’ve come to the right place.

I’m personally not a fan of these new fad runs. I like to run in races. That’s it. Run. No bells and whistles, no undead hunting me down, no sprays of color exploding in my face. I’m glad that these runs get people out and active. What I don’t like is the danger element involved in the obstacle-centered ones like the mud runs and their counterparts. While the risk of injury is minimum, it’s still a definite factor. More and more reports are coming out of people being seriously hurt or killed during these runs. The most recent report was of a man who drowned in one of the obstacles at a Tough Mudder in West Virginia in April. It sounds like negligence on the part of both the race organizers and those they hired to man the stations, but here’s the article so you can judge for yourselves. On a more personal note, a friend of mine recently signed up for a run that was supposed to be just a fun run with some friends. She returned with her elbows and knees bruised and bloodied due to the army crawls under low hanging wires. Problem was the ground was littered with small stones that dug into her arms and legs as she maneuvered through the obstacles. She didn’t want to complete some obstacles but because of the mass of people pushing around and behind her felt forced to do so.

While I don’t think all these new fad runs are dangerous, I think that because of their popularity race officials should be more aware of the potential injuries or dangerous situations that might occur and prepare accordingly. And if you love these runs – great! It’s always fun to find new, exciting challenges that get you and your friends running.

Happy running! 🙂

Beer + Running

beerracesPeople everywhere are discovering the joys of running. And beer. With the number of running participants growing exponentially in the past few years, it’s easy to find a race to enter every weekend of the year. Creating new race themes also seems to be in vogue, so with craft beer on the rise around the country, pairing the two seems like the next logical step.

Some of my favorite races are the ones that incorporate beer into them. I’ve gotten pint glasses from a half marathon and a four-miler that I’ve run. I still feel a sense of pride every time I pull them out of the cabinet to use. Local pubs and bars often sponsor races and discounted pints after the race. And while I’m not a fan of running and drinking at the same time – I’d rather enjoy my frosty brew as a post-race reward – beer races are growing in popularity. There’s even a website devoted to beer races – willrunforbeer.com. Then there’s the Beer Mile where participants must follow strict rules regarding chugging beers in between running laps around a track.

Have fun finding your next beer race. Happy running and remember to drink responsibly! 😀

 

(Note: The illustration was created by artist John Hendrix for Peter Sagal’s article in the September 2012 issue of Runner’s World.)

Intermediate Running

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A fellow blogger recently wrote about being classified as a beginning runner despite having run for close to a year. Said blogger also lamented about how there isn’t much information or support out there for people in between newbie running and those running longer (half marathons and beyond) distances.

So, Geek Fitness, this is for you.

What do you do if  you’ve been running for a while and can run for prolonged periods, but aren’t quite at the point where you can, or want to, run longer distances? You’re happily running between these two categories and want support but can’t find it.

While there are plenty of resources involving intermediate training programs for longer races like half or full marathons, finding information for those running on an intermediate level can indeed be tricky. When I searched online and in various running books for any resources under the label of “intermediate running” I couldn’t find anything! Then I started thinking, what makes a runner fall into the intermediate category? Is it running more than twice a week? Or is it running at a certain pace? Is it when you’re ready to introduce hill or interval training into your routines? Or is it when you are ready to train for a 10k or another longer race? Because every person, and thus every runner, is different, then those questions are unique to each individual runner. And when you can answer that question, you’ll  start to find there are many resources out there that will provide support for intermediate runners.

As I can’t answer that question for anyone else except myself, I’ll do just that. I actually consider myself, happily, to be an intermediate runner still despite having run for about ten years and having half marathons, 10ks, and many 5ks under my belt. The reason I place myself in that category is because I don’t run intervals, do speedwork, extensive hill training, or time my splits, nor do I want to. I don’t know my 5k PR and don’t feel bad about having no desire to ever run a marathon. I love running and I love reading about running and learning how to become a stronger runner, so I find topics that will help me do just that. So I started searching for articles and online resources for things that would help me improve as an intermediate runner like strength training exercises for runners, how to train safely without injury (still have a while before I master that one!), and the best way I can build my mileage each week. I can find like minds on websites like dailymile.com and by following my favorite running blogs like another mother runner.

I realized, thanks Geek Fitness, that there’s a lot of topics out there for intermediate runners, like myself, it just depends on what you’re interested in and where you want to go as a runner.

Happy running! 😀

Running a Half Marathon

halfmarathonMarc Parent, author of the Newbie Chronicles in the Runner’s World magazine, wrote an article for the February 2013 issue documenting his first half marathon running experience. For years Parent has been writing about his experiences in becoming a runner and growing to love it. I love his article as I could relate to many of his stories. When I first began running I never dreamed that I would run in any race let alone a half marathon. It wasn’t that I was unfit, but when it came to prolonged cardio activities I definitely had a lot of room for improvement. (I’ll post about my first running experience in a near future post.)

My first half marathon wasn’t anything like Parent’s experience. I ran in the Delaware Half Marathon, my first, in 2009. A combination of my naivety and the circumstances of the day made for a rough run. Since I was coming in from out of town, a friend who was running in the same race offered to pick up my race packet the day before and give it to me before the race. Except for some reason she took out the bib number and subsequently forgot it at her apartment. Which meant I had to run around the morning of to try and obtain a new number, something that baffled the race volunteers – guess that doesn’t happen very often. By the time I finally got a new bib number a light drizzle had begun to fall. No problem I thought. I’d run in the rain before and wasn’t worried about it affected my ability to run or finish the race.

By the time I lined up at the start, the rain had begun to come down with more intensity. At the official’s signal I took off – way too fast. I pounded out the first few miles, waving happily to my girlfriend who later said she couldn’t believe how quickly I ran past her at the three-mile mark. By that time it was pouring and I was soaked through and through. The course wasn’t particularly difficult, but I soon realized how ill-prepared I was for this half-marathon. Around mile 6 I got a cramp in my side so painful that I was forced to walk for the next half mile. Eventually I was able to run once more, but at a much slower pace. My intention had always been to just finish the race as it was my first half marathon, so I didn’t worry about my pace focusing instead on the finish line.

Around mile 11 I hit the dreaded wall. My legs were had tightened and I had hit the bottom of my reserves. I ran/walked the last couple of miles and managed to move past the pain to cross the finish line. I don’t even remember my time. I just remember the feeling of euphoria and relief at crossing through the finishing gate. Despite the less than stellar run, I felt like I could conquer the world. And I knew I wanted to run another half marathon, only next time I’d be more prepared. 🙂

(Note: I ran in the Philadelphia Half Marathon in 2011 and loved every minute of it. I had trained well and finished with a time of 2:06. My goal for the half marathon, yet to be determined, this year is to break 2 hours.)

Happy running!

 

Happy New Running Year!

Resolution Run 2013 logo

Happy New Year! It’s officially 2013 and no matter how you chose to ring in the new year, today is a great day to start building those good habits and positive changes that you hoped to establish when that final calendar page turned.

Today I’m starting my new year with a 5k Resolution Run. When you enter, you can write a short sentence of your resolution for 2013 and the race organizers print out all the resolutions for people to read. Some are inspiring, some funny, some serious, but all look forward to what could be a reality in the year to come. It’s one of my favorite races of the year not just because of the resolutions but because it’s so well organized, has a great running course through neighborhoods where sleepy families come out to their driveways to cheer the runners on, you receive a hooded sweatshirt instead of the traditional t-shirt, and it sets the tone for building those good new year’s habits.

Happy Running New Year! 😀

 

Running Toward the New Year

Male Runner in Snow   2013 is fast approaching and with it a fresh page on the calendar. While I’m a big proponent of making year-long resolutions as it easier for me to stick to goals if I make and follow through with them throughout the year, there is one special running goal I have for 2013. Run at least one race each month for the entire year.

I’ve thought about accomplishing this goal for a while, but haven’t been able to follow through due to various circumstances. 2013 is going to be the year.

Lately, my free time has been spent searching online for races in my area for each month of 2013. I’d like to run shorter races each month culminating in a half marathon or marathon next fall. Not only will the shorter races be fun, but they will help prepare me while I’m training for my longer race in the fall.

I’m sure I’ll set additional running goals, but this is my primary one. Do you have any running or fitness goals for the new year?

Happy running! 😀

Gifts for the Runner in Your Life

 The holidays are a great time to find that special gift for the runner in your life. But what to get them? Gift cards are perfect for runners to be able to pick out exactly what kind of gear they want, because, let’s be honest, you probably don’t want to grab clothes or shoes without knowing exactly what your runner is comfortable wearing, but below are a few favorites that fit any runner.

Road ID – This is one of my favorite running accessories. Road IDs come in bracelets, necklaces, shoe tags and in various materials. Mine is fabric and although it’s a bracelet I often wear it looped through my shoelaces. Your name, address, and important numbers or allergies can be inscribed on the tag. Even if you always run on populated roads in daylight, there’s always that unaccounted for X factor that makes this a great running addition for that extra peace of mind.

Running jewelry – There are a great number of necklaces, bracelets, and other jewelry items that any runner would love. They vary in style and price to suit a wide range of tastes. My favorite place to buy unique gifts such as this is Etsy.com.

 

 

   Race shirt quilt – If you’re not particularly crafty or don’t have access, or the time, to sew one yourself, there are several companies that offer their services. After so many races, runners either have closets filled with t-shirts that probably remain unworn for most of the year or they have to choose their favorites and donate or give away the others. This is a perfect way to save those shirts and have something a runner can continue to enjoy for years to come.

 

 

Stick Traveler Roller Massager – I would love to have one of these for those pesky knots in my calves that aren’t as easy to get out with a larger roller. These are a great way to get out knots, increase blood flow, and improve flexibility.

 

 

 

 

 Trigger Point Roller – I have one of these and absolutely love it. I used to have one of the old school foam rollers and it just wasn’t enough support and quickly bowed in the middle after a few weeks of use. This roller is way more durable. I’ve had it for a couple of years and it looks the same as the day I got it. The hard plastic interior is embraced by padding on the outside that are meant to mimic hands and fingers, massaging those aching muscles and tight ligaments with perfect pressure. I used to deal with IT band pain and by using this roller every day, it quickly disappeared – when nothing else helped!

 

 

Happy running! 🙂

Banding Together – Runners and All

  Thousands of runners were disappointed by the eleventh hour cancellation of the NYC Marathon due to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Having trained for months, made travel arrangements, and making sure every piece of running gear had been meticulously chosen, it’s no wonder.

I live in NJ and see firsthand every day the destruction that the hurricane meted out in the NJ/NY area. I lost power for six days and was welcomed the morning after the hurricane hit with sixty-foot trees strewn across the roads, houses, and yards. Telephone poles snapped in half with live power lines dangling precariously in every direction. And I had it lucky. Some people in my area still don’t have power because the damage is so extensive and I know of one family a few miles down the road that had their house sheared in two by a fallen tree.

I’d see disasters on the news, but it was the first time I’d ever experienced one firsthand. I hope never to again…

NY was hit just as hard with transit systems being shut down for days and flooding and loss of power in many areas. Even with all this I understand why Mayor Bloomberg wanted to still hold the race. Events such as the epic and historic NYC Marathon have a way of bringing people together in times of crisis; rallying the troops for a common good. But I think it was a better idea to cancel it.With the marathon happening only days after the hurricane hit and the city still reeling from the impact, it seemed like a misappropriation of resources (generators, water, volunteers, etc.) when so many people lost so much.

But the cool thing in the face of all that happened is the way many runners rallied, after what I’m sure was disappointing news about the cancellation. Hundreds of runners jumped on the Staten Island ferry with backpacks loaded with supplies and ran around the island distributing goods and helping hands. For me it was truly amazing to hear stories such as this because to me that’s at the heart of what running is all about. Yes, there are many reasons why people lace up, but, as the growing quantity of running charities can prove, it’s about community. Helping each other. Supporting each other through the ups and downs even if it’s just with an encouraging word or a listening ear. So to see these runners take something disappointing and turn it around to still make their experiences meaningful, well, it makes me proud to say that I’m a runner.

Happy running, friends! 🙂

Fav Fall Races

  Although I enjoy running in all seasons, fall is by far my favorite. Everything smells great, the air is cooler (but not yet freezing), and I just feel invigorated by all the colors that come with the changing season. And with each fall comes a whole slew of great races one can participate in.

While I’m sure there are many races near you, you can’t throw a stone and not hit a 5k these days, these are some of the more notable ones I’ve found.

Runner’s World Half & Festival, October 19-21 – This the first, hopefully annual since I can’t participate in this one this year, running weekend and festival hosted by Runner’s World. Located in Bethlehem, PA, it’s seems destined to be a huge success. Running favs and authors such as Dean Karnazes, Kristin Armstrong, Matt Long, Bart Yasso and Marc Parent will be in attendance. Not only can runners enjoy a 5k, 10k, half-marathon or all three for the hat trick, but there will be movies shown, seminars, speakers and the quintessential pasta dinner. All perfect ingredients for what I’m sure will be a fabulous running weekend.

Baltimore Running Festival, October 13 – Another East Coast running extravaganza, this running festival is very popular. Every entrant gets a sweet Under Armour race shirt, plus entry to the celebration following the race which features live music, activities, food and drink. Enter the 5k, half, or full or register for the Maryland Double, runners who participate in a half or full in both the Baltimore and Frederick Running Festivals. Finishers of the Double receive a really cool looking medal that, for a nominal fee, can be engraved with your name and times at the finish. Cool!

Seattle 5k Beer Running Tour, September 9 – With an onslaught of what I deem kitschy races – zombies, paint throwing, warrior, mud, nude, costumed – I have to say that this would be one I would participate in. More laid back with stops at quirky sights around Seattle, this running tour (they don’t call it a race), begins and ends at the Fremont Brewery where free brews will be distributed upon finishing. And since having a cold beer at the end of my long weekend runs is definitely one of my running incentives, I’d happily participate in this brew happy event.

Run Rabbit Run, September 14 & 15 – For those of you who are very ambitious I haven’t forgotten you! This trail run through Steamboat Springs, CO, features a 50-mile run Sept. 14 and a 100-mile run Sept. 15. Otherwise known as ultrarunning, for those of you who, like me, are content to run somewhat shorter distances, these races are often a combination of trail and road running with aid stations along the route. To top it all off, this is the caveat that is featured on the website: A word of warning: These are not beginner’s runs.  You might find the uphills and downhills fairly steep. You may find there’s a lot of them.  You will spend a lot of time at an altitude of nearly two miles. There may be snow. There may be rain. It may sleet, or be wet, or windy, or then again, it may be hot. There may be wild animals out there, some of them a lot bigger and scarier than a rabbit. Yikes! Think I’ll be a cheerleader for any runs like that!

Happy running! 😀