Friday, August 22, 2014

Eugene Half Marathon: Expo

At the end of July, I headed west to do the Eugene Half and check another state off the list.  But before you can run the half, you must head to the expo!  The expo was held at University of Oregon's arena.

We went to the expo early and wanted to get it done first thing, arriving about 5 minutes before it opened.  Unfortunately, they were a bit delayed (the shirts hadn't arrived yet), so we got to spend some extra time waiting. 

Eventually, we did head in.  It was well organized with number pick-up right at the front.  A quick check of number assignments and I picked up my number and gear check bag.  Time to head to the main floor! 

The vendors were housed on the floor of the arena.  There weren't a ton of vendors, but a good variety.  You had your standard races and gear (gu's, body glide, etc).  The race shirts and official merchandise was all the way at the end, so we walked all the way through to get that first.  When we got there, we realized the shirts hadn't arrived yet (which was the hold up to open the expo). 

Since we were there, we figured we should look at the official merchandise now and then head back into the full expo.  I liked a couple of pieces of official merchandise but it all said "Eugene Marathon" and since I was only doing the half, decided not to get anything.  While we were looking, the race shirts arrived!  Perfect timing!

I really like the race shirt - it's a soft Nike drifit shirt with a really cute design!

Once we got our shirts, we headed back to the expo starting at the beginning.  Our first stop was the Oregon Track Club booth.  Even though I'm not a member, I still wanted a shirt.  I figured it was a perfect souvenir of a running trip to Oregon.  They also had a $1 bin which some old race shirts (which I picked one up for as a throwaway) and some awesome 80s styled bags.  I have no need for it, but it was only a $1!  I couldn't resist!

Most amazing bag ever.

Next, we made a stop at the Picky Bars booth.  I've been wanting to try them since they are gluten free (and that makes my stomach feel better).  They were really good!  But the best part was my total fangirl moment when I met pro runner Lauren Fleshman.  She and her husband created Picky Bars and she runs for Oiselle (I love their clothing!).  She was super nice and even posed for a photo with me.  You know what made me like her even more?  I tagged her in the photo on Instagram and she even commented!  Love that she took the time to do that. 

After that we wondered through the rest of the booths, checking out races and seeing what freebie's there were.  I also picked up a cute (non-running) shirt from Run Pretty Far.  They had a bunch of cute sayings and I got one perfect for Wine and Dine weekend.


Despite our best effort to not stay too long, we ended up being there for close to 1.5 hours so it was time to head back to the hotel. 

Up next, the race!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Grandma's Marathon: Travel and Logistics

We are finally coming to the end of my Grandma posts - thanks for sticking with me!  This post is really only useful if you are planning on doing Grandma's someday.  When I was doing research for Grandma's, I didn't find a ton of info on the travel logistics.  So I thought I would pay it forward to someone else who is doing Grandma's and share my knowledge.

Let's start with the most important thing (after registering of course) - the hotel.  As you might imagine, Duluth is a small town and hotels are limited.  First piece of advice (and possibly the most important) - book your hotel as EARLY as possible.  As I said, there are limited hotels and the longer you wait, the less ideal your hotel could be.

The website does a good job of updating the current availabilities, but there are still a lot of options.  The list of hotels they provide (via the website) has a bunch of different areas to choose from. 

My recommendation?  Pick one of the downtown Duluth or Canal Park hotels.  Yes, they will be more expensive but they will be within walking distance to the expo and finish line.  I stayed at the Holiday Inn Downtown Duluth and it was perfect for me.  It is connected to the expo via the walkway and was only a 10 minute walk from the finish.  They also cater to those doing the race with a snack table with banana's, juice and pretzels in the lobby.  Plus, when I got to my room they provided complimentary bottles of water and granola bars.  It was really nice!

The race is a point to point so they bus you out to the start.  It's important to consider the pickup point of the bus when booking your hotel.  It's going to be early so you don't want to have to walk a ton.  Luckily for me, the Holiday Inn is a shuttle bus stop, so it was right in front of the hotel.  Very easy on race morning. 

Once you make your hotel decision (again, book early, I cannot stress that enough!), the next decision is how to get there.  You can't fly direct there from the east coast - it's a really tiny airport.  Your options are to fly through another midwest airport and connect.  Flying from New York, my layover airport choices were Detroit or Minneapolis. 

I decided to fly through Detroit on the way there and Minneapolis on the way back.  I did it because it was cheaper, but if I had to do it again, I would fly through Minneapolis on the way there.  Why?  Well, you never know what weather is going to do and if my flight from Detroit couldn't get out (or I missed my connection due to delays) there was no other way for me to get to Duluth.  It was too far to drive, so I'd be screwed.  At least in Minneapolis you could rent a car (it's about 2 hours away).  It ended up working out for me, but I would have liked to not have the stress.

Of course, you can also fly to Minneapolis and either drive or take a shuttle service from there.  I personally didn't want to sit in a car for 2 hours, so I flew to Duluth. 

If you do decide to fly, check with your hotel about an airport shuttle.  Mine had a one and it took me back and forth which was really nice as well.

These are the most important items to consider if you are planning to head to Duluth for Grandma's.  If you are doing it and have other questions, feel free to email me at and I'll answer the best I can!

Oh, one last item... book your hotel as early as possible!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Grandma's Marathon: Post Race Party

The Grandma's fun doesn't stop when you cross the finish line!  They have a whole post race festival set up for you!

When you get your finisher's t-shirt, they also give you a drink ticket for the festival.  Upon getting my heat sheet, I made my way over to the baggage.  They had it well organized and it was easy to get my stuff.  I changed out of my sweaty top into the race shirt and started to head towards the festival.

However, it was still pretty chilly and as I walked, I started to get really cold.  The heat sheet helped, but not enough.  Since I wasn't prepared for the cold, I hadn't brought any post race gear.  I made my way to the merchandise tent and picked up some Grandma's branded yoga pants. 

Outside of the fact I needed the warmer pants, they are actually really comfortable!  I have been wearing them a lot since then.

Once I was warmer (and managed to change to without issue in a port-a-potty), I headed to the beer table.  They had several beers available and I choose a Goose Island 312 to drink and set off in search of chairs. 

They had a big tent set up and under it there were bands playing and chairs.  They also had chairs outside in the tent to sit at.  I managed to snag a chair and sat to listen to music and enjoy my beer.  It gave me some time to return texts and check in with everyone. 

After my first beer was empty, I needed a refill (post race hydration is important!), but it was getting much more crowded and I was afraid my chair would get stolen.  I asked the group behind me if they would watch it and they happily agreed!

I went and got my beer and came back to my chair.  The group had kept my chair for me and invited me to hang with them; I ended up staying with them for the rest of the afternoon.  They were so friendly and from the area.  They had done the half marathon. 

We all chatted about the race and life and the afternoon (and several beers) passed quickly.  After a bit, we all got up to go dancing!  My legs were definitely stiff, but believe it or not, the dancing helped.  It was so much fun!

Dancing fools (photo courtesy of my new friends Leah)
After a while, I did decide to make my way back to the hotel (which was about a 10 minute walk) to show and recover, but not before becoming Facebook friends with my new pals (who were so nice and even told me to come back next year to do the half and invited me to stay with them!).

Even though I was tired, sweaty and sore, I was so glad I stayed for the after party. It was a lot of fun and I made some new friends.  If you ever do Grandma's, I recommend you stay for the post race party!

The marathon's namesake!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Two on Tuesday

I finally got a FitBit.  I'd been thinking about getting one for almost a year and I finally did it.  Now that I have, I love it!  I can't believe I waited so long to get one!  I am obsessed with hitting my 10,000 steps every day.  On run days, it is not a problem at all; but on none run days it does take some effort.  I go for a walk at lunch or get off the subway a stop earlier.  I am pretty active, but it's still a good reminder.

Surprisingly, most of the Tinker Bell races are still open a week later (as of writing this: Tinker Bell Half, Pixie Dust Challenge, Neverland 5K).  It's a much slower sell out than normal for Tink (or lately, any runDisney races).  I think it's a combination of things - Mother's Day Weekend, college graduations, more runDisney races in general.  It worked out well for me - I actually ended up registering for the Neverland 5K over the weekend.  Even though it's super early (5 am!) and 4 early mornings (flight, 5K, 10K, Half), I am still excited for it.  This one starts on Main Street in Disneyland and ends on Paradise Pier - which is really the whole reason I signed up.  Should be a really good time - I can't wait for May now!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Training recap week of 8/11 (Dumbo Double Dare Week 3)

This week was a lot of running - felt great though!  Last week of back to back long runs and I felt really strong on Day 2.  I didn't do as much PiYo this week, only 2 days.  I've been trying to run 5 days and do PiYo 6 days and I've come to the realization that that was just too much.  The PiYo workouts are short but intense.  I think it's been draining me more than I realized, so I've decided to only do it on cross training days and short run days.  It's really great core work so I want to keep it up, just scaled back a bit.

Sunday's run was at the Battle of Brooklyn 10M.  I did this run last year and really enjoyed it, so was happy to go back again.  It was a good time again!

Scheduled: PiYo Hardcore on the Floor
Actual: PiYo Hardcore on the Floor

Scheduled: 4 miles easy
Actual: 4.08 mi, 38:50, 9:31 pace

Scheduled: 6 miles easy
Actual: 6.03 mi, 58:57, 9:46 pace

Scheduled: 4 miles easy
Actual: 4.00 mi, 39:57, 9:56 pace + PiYo Define: Lower Body

Scheduled: Rest
Actual: Rest

Scheduled: 8 miles easy
Actual: 10.00 mi, 1:40:14, 10:02 pace

It was another weekend of Summer Streets  (the last weekend!) and I was feeling good so I did a couple of extra miles.  I am sure it's a lot of work (and expensive for the City) but I wish they could do Summer Streets more often - they are such a nice break from the park.

Scheduled: Battle of Brooklyn 10M
Actual: 10.05 mi, 1:35:31, 9:30 pace

Total miles: 34.17
Total August miles: 73.47
Miles until goal (1,250): 412.41

Friday, August 15, 2014

Book Club Friday: Winds of Salem

Happy Friday!  I don't know about you all, but this was a loooong week for me.  I've been reading up a storm lately, so it's time for another Book Club Friday.

Synposis (from Goodreads):
Freya Beauchamp is trapped in 1692, in Salem of all places, with no recollection of her past. A powerful enemy spell has sent her spiraling away so that she is separated by centuries from her mother, Joanna, and sister, Ingrid. This is not good news for a twenty-first-century witch. Not to mention the immediate threat she faces from the wealthy and influential Putnam family. When little Annie Putnam is one of the first to make accusations of witchcraft, her landowner father jumps at the opportunity to consolidate his power and expand his holdings in Puritan Salem Town. If Freya is caught using magic, she will be forced to relive the witch trials, and this time, her immortality will be in question. Meanwhile, twenty-first-century North Hampton has its own snares. Joanna and Norm consult the Oracle for advice, and Freddie and his pixie allies search for a missing totem that could reopen the passages of time and help bring his sister home. When Ingrid bumps into an old flame, she finds that her new love for Detective Matt Noble is in doubt. Moving between past and present, with dizzying plot twists and page-turning suspense, Winds of Salem is sure to bewitch fans old and new.

My thoughts:
I really liked the first two books in this series and while I enjoyed this book, I didn't like it as much as I liked the first two.  I thought this one moved a bit slower and it bounced between several narrators which took a bit to get used too.  It wrapped up most of the plot lines, so not sure if the series is continuing or not (it might just be a trilogy).  I wish they had spend more time on the Salem portion and the trials as I find that part of our history very fascinating.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Race Recap: Grandma's Half Marathon

Grandma's Marathon
June 21, 204

State: #17, Minnesota
Marathon #11

This post is a long time coming - but here it is!  6 weeks later and I'm still having trouble processing it.  I am going to admit now, I don't have too much details on the actual racing portion.  I was so focused on my pace that I zoned everything else out (literally, it's a big blank spot).  But here is what I do remember!

The race started at a reasonable time, 7:45, but since it's a point to point, I still had to be on a bus by 6:15am.  Fortunately, my hotel was one of the shuttle bus stops so I just had to go down to the front.  Nice and easy!  There wasn't too much of a line for bus and I was able to board with minimal wait.  The bus ride took about 45 minutes but since it was cold and misty out, I was happy to be inside.

Once we got to the start, I finished my pre-race set up (eating my powergel chews and filling my handheld bottle) and then checked my gear.  Gear check was pretty simple - they had everything color coded and lots of volunteers to help.

Hanging out by baggage check

After checking my gear, I went for one last bathroom run.  They had a good number of port-o-potty's so the line wasn't too crazy.  By the time I got out of the bathroom, there was only about 5 minutes to the start so I made my way to the start.

The start area was pretty open, no corrals, just estimated pace signs.  I lined up near where I thought I would be.

The temperature was definitely colder than I had expected so I was happy I had bought my throwaway gear the day before.  It was lightly misting and there was a strong headwind (always fun to run into).  There was also some really bad fog - I could only see about .25-.50 mi in front of me.

The race started a few minutes after the scheduled time (7:45) and then it was really low key.  I didn't even hear a horn sounding the start.  Suddenly everyone was moving so I assumed it started. 

I planned on starting at a 9:00ish pace and then dropping in the second half.  My plan didn't go quite as well as I wanted, but I was still pleased with it.  You'll see in the paces below, I was a little all over the place in terms of pace.

I kept my throwaway gear on for about the first 6 miles.  It was pretty chilly out and even at 6, I didn't want to get rid of them, but they were pretty wet from the rain so they weren't doing much good for me.

The course was mostly flat with a some rolling hills.  The hills weren't huge, but given the head wind, they felt really big.  The scenery along the course was pretty.  I'm sure if it hadn't been foggy, the view of the lake would have been beautiful but the fog prevented that view.  There was one big hill at 21 and I definitely felt it at 21.  My legs were burning! 

I honestly don't have too much to say about most of the course.  I was really so focused on my pace and each mile, that I was completely zoned out.  There are not a ton of spectators along the course, but those that were out where great.  Personally, I don't mind the lack of spectators but I know that can be a big issue for some people.

I will say, I do remember there being event alert flags that said "Risk of Hypothermia".  That was definitely a first for me.  In the second half, it had stopped raining and started to warm up so the flags went to green for good conditions.

As we got closer to Duluth the spectators increased.  Running through downtown Duluth starting around mile 24 was great.  It's a very cute downtown and I knew I was reaching the end.

I had started calculating my finishing time at about mile 20 and knew that I would be close to PR'ing.  Once I hit 24, I realized that I would PR and had to hold myself back from full on crying.  Those last miles were pretty painful as I pushed to the finish.

Passing the 26 mile marker and turning the corner to the finish line was very emotional.  I was drained from battling the weather and the pace.  I hadn't been sure I would be PR this race (I really wanted too, but you never know how a race would go) and there was my PR in site.  I gave it my all for the last .2 and raised my hands high as I crossed the finish line (with tears running down my face).

In that moment, I was overcome with emotion.  So much time and effort had all been placed into this one race.  It felt great to see my hard work come to fruition.  When they put the medal around my neck, I went a little weak in the legs (although that could have come from the effort put into the race).

I also got my finisher's t-shirt and drink ticket and made my way through the chute.  I got a heat sheet which was key because it was still cold out.  Once that was done, I walked very slowly to get my gear and spend some time at the Finisher's Party.  More on the Finisher's party in another post!

Garmin Splits

Official: 26.2 mi, 3:54:08, 8:57 pace
Garmin: 26.41 mi, 3:54:09, 8:52 pace

Proud owner of a new PR!
Ain't it pretty?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Grandma's Marathon - Expo Recap

Now that work has calmed down and life has returned to normal, time to get back to some race recaps!  Starting with the expo for Grandma's Marathon.

The expo was held in the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center.  It was located about a 10 minute walk from my hotel via the Sky Bridge, which was so nice because it was a lot colder then I expected - only in the high 50's (and it felt cold!).

The way to the expo was well marked and easy enough to find.

Lots of signs marking the way

The space the expo was in wasn't huge, so it did get pretty crowded. 

Lots of people... not a lot of space

The number pickup was at the back (so you had to walk through the expo to get to it).  I decided to go and get my number first and then work my way back.

Number pickup was pretty simple, they had the half and full broken out and then broken out by men and women.  T-shirts were given at the finish line, so it was just a number pick up.  There was no line when I went so it was really easy!

No line!
After number pickup, I made my way through the rest of the expo.  Since the weather was cooler than I expected, I stopped and picked up a throw away long sleeve shirt and some gloves.  I was definitely glad to have them the next day!

After picking up my throw away gear, I headed for the official merchandise.  Something I love about small races - they have a great selection of gear and at reasonable prices!  This race didn't have an official clothing provider, the gear sponsor was an embroidery company so they use pieces from other retailers and added the race logo to it. 

I really don't need running gear but I can't resist race clothing, so I picked up a rain coat instead.  It is a lightweight maroon Eddie Bauer rain jacket with a hood with the logo on it.

This will definitely be put to good use and I love that it is Eddie Bauer so I know it's a quality item (and it was only $45 which I LOVE). 

I also picked up a pin and a mug.  I love getting the pins to add to my medals and the mug is so adorable.  I've been drinking my coffee out of it almost every morning.  It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

The lighthouse is my favorite part

After the official merchandise, I wandered a bit through the rest of the expo.  Did some sampling and window shopping, but managed to resist buying anything else. 

I didn't stay too long at the expo as I really didn't want to be on my feet a long time.  I headed back to the hotel to rest, but not before stopping for one last photo!

I look pretty calm for someone about to run a marathon
Up next - the race!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Two on Tuesday

My schedule for 2015 is starting to fill up.  Princess registration was last month (opened and closed in a couple of hours) and I'm in for the Glass Slipper Challenge again.  My mom, cousin and aunt are all coming back again (my mom for the 10K and cousin for the half) - and our group has grown!  My sister-in-law is doing the 10K and 2 other cousins-in-law are doing the half!  Plus, I think some other cousins are going to come and cheer.  Should be a good time!

In case you missed it, Tinkerbell is also getting a challenge in 2015 - the Pixie Dust Challenge.  I loved the inaugural Tinkerbell Half (still one of my favorite races of all time), so there was no way I could miss the inaugural Pixie Dust Challenge.  She is my favorite character after all!  Race registration opens today noon and is expected to fill quickly (the spots for the Challenge for annual pass holders sold out in 15 minutes last week).  Fortunately, I am an annual pass holder so I was able to register last week and I was able to get in before it sold out.  There is a big group of us going so it should be a good time. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Training recap week of 8/4 (Dumbo Double Dare Week 2)

This week was really solid in terms of running - got a total of 6 days in!  I didn't do so great with PiYo though as much as I wanted too.  I somehow lost my will to get up early (I usually do my PiYo in the AM and run in the evening).  Oh well, hopefully this week I'll do better!

My weekend run schedule got a little bit switched around this week as my mom was in town on Saturday and Sunday so I knew I wouldn't be able to do my long run on Sunday (this was a back to back week).  We had a great time - went to see the musical Newsies on Saturday night.  I love the movie version and very much enjoyed the show!  I think it's going on a national tour soon, so if it comes to your town, I recommend seeing it!

Scheduled: Rest
Actual: 2.52 mi, 30:00, 11:54 pace

Even though it was a rest day, I attended a workout at the new Reebok FitHub in the city.  Olympian Carrie Tollefson was there to lead the run.  It was a fun time!

Scheduled: 4 miles easy
Actual: 3.07 mi, 32:18, 10:31 pace

My legs were feeling a little tired and since I ran the night before, I cut this one a little short.

Scheduled: 6 miles easy
Actual: 6.01 mi, 58:02, 9:40 pace

Scheduled: 4 miles easy
Actual: Rest

Moved this run to Friday to get my back to back in.

Scheduled: Rest
Actual: 4.08 mi, 42:17, 10:22 pace

Scheduled: 4 miles easy
Actual: 12.00 mi, 2:00:40, 10:03 pace

Was supposed to do this on Sunday, but switched it since my mom was in.  Enjoyed week 2 of Summer Streets by running through Lower Manhattan and doing a bridge run (Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges).

Scheduled: 12 miles easy
Actual: 4.20 mi, 40:48, 9:42 pace

Total miles: 31.87
Total August miles: 39.30
Miles until goal (1,250): 446.58