Syracuse Half Marathon

Sometimes it’s just not your day to race. You have to be okay with this, put a smile on your face, and make the most of your experience. When you have the chance to run, you take it.

Waking up Sunday morning to the sound of howling wind and snow plows only added to the reasons I was not ready to race. But racing is what I love so I went through my usual routine before heading out to meet up with some friends and head downtown for the 2nd annual Syracuse Half Marathon. I was prepared for the cold weather that we were experiencing – that was in the forecast. What I wasn’t expecting was the snow shower that quickly covered the roads.

Photo courtesy of Joel Capolongo

Photo courtesy of Joel Capolongo

I realized that this is month 5 of racing in the snow – the weather that rolled in wasn’t something that should throw me off or take me by surprise. So why I would neglect to bring proper footwear further shows that my head was not in the game. It’s Syracuse – I’ve lived there for 8 years – I should know that snow is never out of the question. As much as I love my inov-8 Road-X-Treme 118’s, with the tread of a ballet slipper they were not the shoe for Sunday’s conditions. On dry or even wet roads they are awesome, but throw some snow and/or ice into the mix and you may as well be running on an oiled slip and slide!

After a brief attempt at a warm-up I realized that this was going to be an issue and lined up at the start hoping that conditions would rapidly improve, or there would be adequate salt on the road giving me a spot with some traction. When the gun went off I started in a controlled fashion. Yes it was slick and there didn’t seem to be any spots on the road that were not affected. I noticed how tense I was running in anticipation of each step. The power I was attempting to obtain from every stride was being met by instability as my foot slid in random directions. I hit the first mile at 6:17 and was not surprised. The steady climb up James Street felt like twice the effort, but I heard this was the main “climb” on the course so all I had to do was get past it. Once this changed over to a downhill that’s where I really started to struggle. At each slippery footfall I started to feel twinges in my knees, which started a chain reaction up my leg. After a short time my quad became so tight I thought I pulled it.

I had to slow down, which does not come easy to me mentally. I told myself that I couldn’t give up over challenging conditions and discomfort. But then I also told myself that ignoring the kinds of issues I was feeling is exactly how I’ve gotten myself into trouble in the past. This conversation in my head didn’t last much longer. Right around the 5k mark there was another slight downhill – I had another big slip, sending another shooting pain from the inside of my knee up through my hip, and I decided that this race was not worth the chance of a setback. I would finish, but I wouldn’t “race”.

This race wasn’t just for me – it was another Strong Hearts Run Club event – I also had committed teammates tackling the course. I waited along with some spectators cheering for my friends and teammates as they ran by. I decided to finish this race with teammate Kate – what better way to enjoy a 10 mile run than with a friend who has so much passion, energy, and true compassion.

Races tend to be lonely for me. I’m in the zone – focusing on the task at hand. And other than thanking volunteers along the way, I rarely interact with anyone. What a pleasure it was to run with Kate! We had wonderful conversations and I didn’t even notice the miles ticking by as I was enjoying the company during one of my favorite activities. I can’t say I remember much about the course after that first 5k – I was in the zone, but a different kind of zone. I was sharing an enjoyable experience with someone I admire and taking in what was happening around me. When the sun came out there were sections along the course that were no longer snow-covered, just wet. I was happy to stay right where I was. Kate and I motivated each other over these 10 miles and crossed the finish line together with smiles on our faces.

When I picked up my bib in the morning I commented to the volunteer that 5 is my lucky number. And although my race didn’t go as planned, I can definitely say that lucky number 5 didn’t let me down – I had an amazing time at the Syracuse Half Marathon! And now it was time to celebrate with my teammates by enjoying the well-earned Strong Hearts post-race meal 🙂

My decision to pull back and run instead of race was the best decision I could’ve made. The drive home was painful but once arriving home I iced my ankle and knee and I was back to normal training the next day. Not only did I save myself from possibly hurting something, but I also ran a wonderful 13.1 miles with someone I am honored to call my friend. It wasn’t my day to race, but although there are plenty of opportunities to race, there aren’t enough opportunities on my calendar to run with my friends!

Next up is a 10-miler this weekend. I’m hoping that these snowy races are behind me for the year, but you better believe I’ll be bringing a back-up pair of inov-8’s – just in case!

Tipp Hill Shamrock Run

shamrock runAs the 2014 season approaches, I best be getting in the habit of providing race reports! The Tipp Hill Shamrock Run has always been a favorite of mine. Not only is Tipp Hill a very vibrant and welcoming neighborhood to run through, but the race is also a great early season “tune-up” to check in with your fitness level. While this was not my first race of 2014, the snow-covered roads at the Chilly Chili 5k in January made it difficult to gauge your current race ability.

I have not run the Tipp Hill Shamrock Run since 2009 – pre-injury. I’m also far behind on my run training this year. My few attempts at “speed work” on the treadmill have not felt productive. These factors left me unsure of how I would run at this race and therefore I didn’t put much thought into a goal. In the back of my mind I threw the number 25:00 out there just so I would have something to shoot for. One thing I knew is that based upon my feelings of unpreparedness along with the hills that the course traverses, it was going to hurt. I just kept telling myself “it’s only 4 miles. You can push yourself for 4 miles.”

Strong Hearts Run Club pre-race, with a few missing

Strong Hearts Run Club pre-race, with a few missing

This was another race for the Strong Hearts Run Club – a team of highly motivated, inspirational, and compassionate runners. The team is building momentum as spring nears and I’m always very excited to join forces with such an awesome group. And with over 3500 finishers at this race I got to see so many of my non-run club Syracuse friends which is always an added bonus!

Considering the challenging winter we’ve had the weather on race morning was exceptional. The roads were wet but not snow-covered and the temps were as mild as we could hope for. I was able to run a short warm-up before lining up at the start. I know that over the years this race has grown more competitive, and wow what a lineup on display!
tipp hill start

The gun went off and I had my usual motive – go out hard and hold on for dear life. (disclaimer: do as I say not as I do!). I knew this was not the time, nor the race, to pace with the front runners. But as usual I wanted to be the lead female from the start so I placed myself there and tried to settle in. When I hit the mile mark at 5:25 that all too familiar feeling of oh shit hit me and I reminded myself “only 3 more miles of this.” The hills on this course are not anything insane, but when I’ve been chained to the treadmill all winter I definitely noticed them more than I wanted to. Which meant that on the downhills I pushed hard – harder than I would’ve pushed had this been a longer race. I apologized to my quads as I did this…

Photo courtesy of Mike "Rideabike" Lillis

Photo courtesy of Mike “Rideabike” Lillis

“Hold on for dear life” over the next 3 miles is all I could muster. Since I’ve run this race previously and have lived in Tipp Hill I am familiar with the roads. There were no surprises – just the will to succeed. The main thing I noticed about my running is how horrible my form was. This was a product of not feeling comfortable at this pace. When I am the front runner I depend on the spectators to clue me in on where my competition is. I do not like to look back. Throughout the race people were cheering me on as the first female, but I also heard plenty of “go ladies” shouted. Which meant someone was hot on my tail. You hit mile 3 on Coleridge Ave before you make the turn into the park for the final loop. It’s a sharp turn into the park so I used that spot to sneak a peek at who was behind me. Yep, she was right there. And I swear my legs were spewing curse words at me by this point. Nothing hurts worse than getting passed in the last mile for 2nd place, so it was time to focus. I’ve run the loop around this park so many times I could probably do it blindfolded. So I pushed hard and started my sorry excuse for a kick right where I wanted to. I never looked back – I had confidence in my ability to finish stronger. But boy did I just slip in under the wire! I crossed the line at 25:00 on the dot, with the 2nd female coming in at 25:07.

Photo courtesy of Mike "Rideabike" Lillis

Photo courtesy of Mike “Rideabike” Lillis

Overall the race was a success and I got exactly what I wanted out of it. I always love having such strong competition keeping me on my toes. It was also cool to finally race in the inov-8 Road-X-Treme 118’s again – they’ve been in hibernation all winter and oh how I’ve missed them!
Tipp Hill shoe
The Strong Hearts Run Club put out some awesome times. The dedication these runners have is showing with some major improvements all around! There was only one thing left to do – celebrate our accomplishments and our camaraderie at Strong Hearts Café 🙂

Next up for the crew – Syracuse Half Marathon on March 23rd! I hope to see many familiar faces there as well! But I better get back to training…I already feel unprepared…again 🙂

Coming Attractions for 2014

It’s been way too long since I have checked in, so let me just fast forward to where I am now and what lies ahead for 2014!

The big news is that I have moved to New Paltz, NY as of February 1st! 🙂

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Lancaster County is a wonderful place. I was lucky to have ridden through the beautiful countryside, run on some of the most amazing trails, and make many wonderful friends. So why leave? Sometimes you just feel stuck, and that is what I was experiencing. It was time to move on and create new amazing adventures. Most of you who know me well know that I can’t sit still for too long. So I followed my heart and it led me to where I am today! I have many fond memories of my time in Lancaster, and I will be returning often to revisit some of my favorite places (and people of course).

New Paltz – I had visited the area a few times in the past 6 months and it was not hard to fall in love with this place. Located near the Catskills, it is home to the Shawangunk Ridge which includes the Mohonk Preserve and Minnewaska State Park Preserve. This means bunches and bunches of trails to run on which makes me squeal like a little girl 🙂 With the 20+ inches of snow that landed over the past week I haven’t had the opportunity to get out on the bike and explore, but from driving the area I know that my bike and I will spend hours together – a big smile on my face the whole time. Hurry up Spring!! With a gym, a pool, and multiple vegan food stores and restaurants within walking distance, I’d say I hit the jackpot!

Beauty surrounds New Paltz

Beauty surrounds New Paltz

New Paltz is also home to the infamous SOS Triathlon and American Zofingen Duathlon. And it’s also not far from Escarpment. To any of my friends who are planning to do any of these races, want a weekend training somewhere new and exciting, or just want to visit me – you are more than welcome 🙂

A look ahead at my race plans – I am very excited about the progression of my 2014 race schedule. Here is a sneak preview:

1) I have a number of road races on the calendar where I will join my favorite crew – Strong Hearts Run Club. Every time we race together I meet new awesome people that I am honored to call my friends. We have created a community that is both full of positivity and motivation. Join us on Facebook to keep track of our events, and hopefully you can join us at one of them!

Strong Hearts to the Front!

Strong Hearts to the Front!

2) Team Strong Hearts Vegan Power is coming back in 2014 – bigger and badder! We are currently fielding teams for Cape Cod Ragnar Relay and Adirondacks Ragnar Relay. We made quite the impact last year and it was our maiden voyage. In 2014 we plan to step it up a notch as we share our message: For the animals, for the earth, for your health. Go Vegan! If you are a vegan who loves to run, check out the video below to get a taste of our adventures. And get in touch if you want to join us in 2014!
ragnar crew

3) Duathlon Worlds takes place early in the season this year. Although duathlon wasn’t my focus in 2013 and I did not attend the National Championship, I competed in 3 duathlons which placed me 1st in the national rankings for the 35-39 Age Group. This *should* qualify me to attend this year’s World Championship in Pontevedra, Spain. Hopefully I will have the opportunity to race for Team USA again this year!

4) Racing short course early in the year allows for a nice transition to longer course racing. I plan to compete at Ironman 70.3 Syracuse again this year. Last year’s heat got the best of me on this awesome course so I want to redeem myself in 2014. If all goes well I would like to earn a slot to the Ironman 70.3 World Championship – another race where I need to redeem myself 🙂 This year the Championship is in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec and I have heard nothing but great reviews of that location.

5) Next I will increase the volume steadily for my final phase. 2013 brought me much success in trail racing and I plan to continue that streak this year with various trail races scattered throughout my calendar. After tackling my first 50k without properly training for it, this year I plan to race Blues Cruise again to take a nice chunk off my time. The big goal for 2014 is to race the JFK 50 Mile Run in November to round out my season. I’m really looking forward not only to the training, but experiencing such a legendary event.

Wait…there’s more – I am very excited that I will be a part of Team Inov-8 again in 2014! My loyalty to the Inov-8 line is unwavering – since first trying their shoes in 2012 I knew they were the perfect match for me. And since then my love affair with the brand has been blossoming. Tri shoes, road shoes, trail shoes, off-trail shoes, fitness shoes – they have it all! Each and every pair I own has a distinct purpose in my arsenal, and each and every pair puts energy into my step as soon as I slip them on. On top of that they have an expanding line of apparel and packs which continue to impress me. Inov-8 knows what an athlete needs to perform at their best and they deliver an exceptional product that not only outperforms the competition, but also provides a level of comfort which is crucial. I can’t wait to try their newest addition to the family, the Tri-X-Treme 245.
tri shoeCheck out what Inov-8 has to offer – you may find your new true love. If you have questions about any of their products or about natural running in general don’t be afraid to ask 🙂

I couldn’t be more excited about what lies ahead this season. And I hope to cross paths with all of you during this year’s adventures. Until then, I better get to training!

50k Debut – Blues Cruise Race Report

BC logo

Sunday morning I was awoken by my alarm at 5:15 am. I felt the effects of the previous day’s events hitting me pretty hard and thought an extra hour or two of sleep would be just the cure. But with as many excuses people were giving me to bag today’s race, I was not about to back out due to a little too much partying. What can I say – it’s October in PA! I had my breakfast of 1 banana, and 2 pinole-chia muffins, and settled onto the couch to get whatever additional rest I could before heading to Blue Marsh Lake for my first 50k.

Very cool 1 loop course around Blue Marsh Lake

Very cool 1 loop course around Blue Marsh Lake

Arriving at the race site it seemed like a perfect day for the race. The temps were warm but not too warm, and the overcast skies appeared to be keeping the heat we were promised at bay for the time-being. Overall I felt a sense of calm. This time there was no pressure – I was not being urged to beat a certain set of twins, or anyone for that matter. I was in brand new territory. I hadn’t run over 20 miles since 2007, and have never run longer than a marathon distance. I also never prepared a training plan for this event. I figured my body could handle the distance – I just wasn’t sure how well and at what speed. Time to find out! I had set an aggressive goal of 4:15, putting me at about an 8:12 pace. Let’s face it, pressure aside, I still wanted to win, and this was the time I decided I needed to obtain that win.

The First 10 miles
I lined up in the front at the start line – even though I didn’t know what I was in for I just can’t help myself. I figured I’d follow the flow since there were surely others up front who knew what they were doing. I was happy with the relaxed pace at which we started, and when I looked down to see that it was 6:27 I was even happier to feel that this pace was easy. Before long we were onto the trails and I settled in behind 2 guys. After the first mile I had every urge to pass them at this relaxed pace, but actually exercised some common sense and decided that there was no reason to go my usual “balls out” at this point. I told myself for the first of many times that day “it’s going to be a LONG day.” I was very conservative on any uphill sections, and equally careful on the descents, actually allowing a gap to form in an attempt to save my quads for the later stages. I was feeling very confident during these first 10 miles, and my average pace was 7:29. Great start to the day!

The Second 10 miles
At about mile 10 we turned into a very familiar area to me – cutting behind my old stomping grounds at Blue Marsh Ski Area. That’s when we were greeted with a 19.8% climb that quickly reduced my pace. The trails on this course were not very technical, but the prior day’s heavy rains late in the evening ensured that the trails were blanketed in wet leaves. I decided to race in my inov-8 Trailroc 150’s, and I made the perfect choice for these trails and conditions. Did I really forget how much I loved this shoe? I fell in love with them all over again. For my first time running this distance it sure was a relief to not even notice my feet! I appreciated the light-weight minimalist feel over the miles. The contoured fit kept my foot snug in place so there was no friction or hot spots. And the aggressive outsole provided excellent traction over the varied terrain throughout the course. Whether descending on dry loose trails or climbing up the slick leaf-covered hills they provided me with the perfect amount of grip to keep me confident, and upright 🙂

Photo courtesy of Brad Bansner

Photo courtesy of Brad Bansner

During those 2nd ten miles I realized that this was going to turn into a race of survival for me. My pace average slowed to 9:01 over this section and I had a feeling it was only going to get tougher. At this point I was mostly alone, and although I was enjoying some beautiful views and scenery, I was wishing I had some company. One competitor and I had been going back and forth through the whole race. At about mile 15 I stopped to tie my shoe and he stopped to introduce himself as Mike and shake my hand. This felt so odd to me to do during a race, but I had to remind myself that we were only nearing the halfway point and still had a long way to go! I was happy to have made a new friend on that lonely day!

The Last 11 miles
The aid stations along the course are part of what makes this event a huge success. Not only are they stocked with any kind of fun fuel your heart could desire, but the volunteers are all runners themselves so they know the deal. To top it off, they have a competition for best aid station, so you know they are going above and beyond to make your race an enjoyable one! As the day wore on I found it harder to pick my favorite – each one I arrived at was a welcome distraction to my mounting exhaustion. I think the later aid stations had the advantage because the more tired you were, the more excited you were to see them! At every aid station throughout the day I grabbed 2 cups of water – 1 to dump over me and one to drink. I had 64 ounces of water in my pack, but with the climbing heat and humidity I wanted to save that. At 3 of the later stations I was even drinking Gatorade – I felt those wonderful salt crusties on my face and figured I better start replacing some electrolytes.

Fun aid stations

Fun aid stations

During these last 11 miles I couldn’t help but think I was going to be passed. I had led from the start and as usual had no clue how large my gap was. As welcoming as the aid stations were, I was hoping that there weren’t many left. Whomever was chasing me had the advantage of hearing how far ahead I was at every stop – how I was looking, etc. If she knew she had been closing the gap on me, and that I was hurting and slowing down, this could fuel her race. I had to push these thoughts out of my head and press on.

My goal earlier in the race was to hit the halfway point just under 2 hours. I missed that mark by 5 minutes, and now realized that my initial goal of 4:15 was far out of reach. I changed it to 4:30. My pace for the last 11 miles had slowed to 9:42. I had a mysterious pain in my right knee which was causing me to slow down and alter my stride on each descent, where this late in the race I should’ve been using them to my advantage. I was fading fast as the final miles seemed to drag on forever. With about 2.5 miles to go my calves started seizing and even the smallest incline felt like a mountain. I realized that in my stubbornness I only took in enough nutrition for 4 hours of racing – like only eating that much would somehow make me run faster to finish in a time that wouldn’t warrant one last gel 😉

Then I did what you never do. I looked back. Not once or twice, but at least 10 times during those last 2 miles. I couldn’t shake the thought that I was going to be passed. I felt so close to the finish, but this was how bad I was hurting. I emerged from the trails to see my Aunt Vera standing there – excited to see me and running alongside me as the finish line neared. I crossed the finish line in 4:30:16. Good enough for 1st overall female and 8th overall.

Happy to be finished!

Happy to be finished!

Sore was the only way to describe how I felt after finishing. My legs were aching and I couldn’t seem to give them any relief for a good 1/2 hour after I finished. A testament to my lack of training for this distance. But I was happy with my result for my first 50k, and I am already looking forward to the next one armed with the knowledge and experience I gained this time around.

I was sold on Blues Cruise as being a great first-time 50k. I would have to agree! The organization, the course, the volunteers – all top-notch. The Pagoda Pacers are an amazing group that not only make every single person feel appreciated and special, but they also know how to throw a damn good party! I’m happy to have my first 50k under my belt 🙂
BC awards

Who you calling a Half-Wit?

half-wit logo
Ron Horn of Pretzel City Sports claims you must be a Half-Wit in order to run this race. I say you’re a Half-Wit if you don’t! Sure it’s tough and I definitely did my share of cursing and questioning my sanity a few times during those 13 miles, but I will definitely be back next year! The fact that I chose to do this race 4 weeks out from 70.3 Worlds…now that calls into question my level of intelligence. Yes, this is the time of year where trail running and racing is equivalent to a crazy night out on the town for me. I really want to do it, but I know the possible setbacks that may occur from my actions 🙂 This year has been slightly different. Although I’m not hitting the trails quite as often as I would like to, the lure of doing some amazing trail races that Southern PA has to offer is just too strong to ignore. The good news – I made it through the trails no worse for the wear!

I decided to stay in Oley the night before the race so that I could ride my bike to and from the race for a good warm-up and cool-down. It was a great idea – I left the house with sunny skies and 63 degree temps and made my way to the Liederkranz. It is mostly an uphill ride, but I had time to take it slow and enjoy the morning. The last climb up to the race start was the only time I questioned my decision to take an “easy” ride to the site. 5 minutes out of the saddle and I could feel the love from the 4 days of intense training I inflicted on my body during my mini “vacation”. But I figured this was perfect training – tire out some sore legs and then tack on a 1/2 marathon.

One of many things I love about trail racing is that I rarely feel nervous. I always believe I am out of my league since trail running is not my main sport, so I don’t put too much pressure on myself. That’s such a nice way to go into a race! At the start line we were asked to repeat the Moronic Oath in true Pretzel City Sports fashion, then we were off! Utilizing my less-than-brilliant racing strategy, it was time to go out hard to get a good gap, then try like hell to hold on for dear life. Will I ever learn?

Questioning our intelligence - photo courtesy of Helene Horn

Questioning our intelligence – photo courtesy of Helene Horn

The first 3 miles I can say I wasn’t really enjoying myself. My heart rate was high and my legs felt heavy. But right on cue, Magic Mile #3 hit and I suddenly felt settled and in my groove. It also helped that soon after was a long descent. I actually said out loud “I’m having the best time ever!” I often talk to myself when I think there is no one close enough to hear me… I decided to wear my inov-8 Mudclaw 265’s. This shoe is a beast, and is built for rough terrain. I never raced in them, but thought this course would be the perfect test to see how they would treat me. I definitely made the right choice!

inov-8 Mudclaw 250 - ready to conquer all terrain

inov-8 Mudclaw 250 – ready to conquer all terrain

The Mudclaws have the perfect amount of cushion to them and superior protection. But best of all was the support and grip. I was able to fly down the long descents and even close some gaps on men in front of me where I would normally take the more cautious approach. I truly love the line-up that inov-8 provides – they have a shoe for every course condition.

Soon after mile 6 it was time to climb the “128 Steps from Hell”. I actually enjoyed these beat-up, overgrown hunks of rock heading straight up the mountain. But once I got to the top, I was questioning what happened to the feeling I had at mile 3… Every climb from that point on felt tougher and tougher. On the steeper ascents, I had every urge to hike and give my legs a break. Then I would remind myself that there are women behind me that actually know how to pace a trail race and are probably closing in on me. After having the lead from the start, I didn’t want to give it up without a fight. I was happy to come across the alternate beverage aid station, knowing that I was getting closer to the finish. As I approached they asked if I wanted water or beer. Call me a lightweight, but I wanted to finish that race with my stomach contents intact. With 2 miles to go, I started to feel strong again and picked up the pace as I made my way to the finish. I didn’t beat the course record (yes of course, I checked that out before-hand) but I was able to take the overall with only 9 men finishing ahead of me. It was one of my most pathetic finishes ever – I’m sure to the crowd it appeared as if I had powered my way to the finish with some alternate beverages as I stumbled in.

Photo courtesy of Derek Schultz

Photo courtesy of Derek Schultz

Thank you to inov-8 for providing me with the best trail running shoes on the market! And a special thank you to Derek Schultz for cheering me on at various points throughout the race. Thank you to the Liederkranz for an excellent job hosting a great after-party. Great job as always by Pretzel City Sports in hosting the most memorable races around! See you at the next one!

Stubmling my way through French Creek State Park

I have been slowly letting people in on a dirty little secret. I have a new temptation. Are you sitting down? Good. I have been considering running an ultra in the next year. There I said it – I put it out there for all to see. So now I can be held accountable 😉 I love running on trails. It’s peaceful, beautiful, and it takes me back to my childhood days of running through the woods behind my house on Skyline Drive. No worries, no stress, just you and mother nature. I don’t have to worry about cars, pace, or mile splits. It’s truly relaxing. Once my season starts I put trail running on the back burner. I don’t always fit it into my schedule, and quite frankly I just worry about hurting myself on rugged terrain. But isn’t this time of the year the best time to hit the trails?

French Creek State Park

French Creek State Park

This new desire prompted me to run the Double Trouble 30k this past weekend at French Creek State Park. Yes 30k is far from an “ultra” distance, but it is the longest trail race I’ve done. And I wasn’t quite sure how to approach it. Pacing is not exactly my strong suit. Do I know how to pace? Yes. Do I always use my head and practice pacing during a race? That’s a big fat NO. And with the Double Trouble race having both a 15k and 30k (1 or 2 loop) option, I feared that I would get caught up in the pacing of the 15k runners and pay for it dearly on the 2nd loop.

Although I was planning to run this race for the training, the experience, and most importantly – the fun, I checked last year’s results to get an idea of what kind of pace I should be aiming for. Can’t take the roadie out of me! I had a plan in place, and I had a goal of 2:50 for my finishing time. It’s great lining up at a start and not being nervous. I knew it was going to be a rough day but this race was not one of those “take off from the gun” type of races and it was nice to feel relaxed. There were 2 start lines – 1 for the 15k runners and the other for the 30k. After some back and forth taunting facilitated by Pretzel City Sports’ always-entertaining Ron Horn, we were off! The 15k and 30k runners merged onto the trail and I immediately felt the need to get up to the front of both packs prior to reaching the single track.

So much for not getting caught up in the pace of the 15k runners! Before we hit the single track I got myself into the 3rd position and decided this was a great place to settle in. At 2.5 miles I moved into 2nd place, and at mile 3 I passed the 1st female and decided this is where I needed to stay. I just can’t help myself sometimes… But I was feeling great – I felt strong, smooth and full of energy. I was ahead of my goal pace and before I knew it I was coming back into the park. I finished my first loop under 1:20 and was ready to tackle the 2nd loop.

French Creek State Park - a sample of the terrain

French Creek State Park – a sample of the terrain

I didn’t get far into loop 2 before I felt the fatigue. The miles that were ticking away so easily during the first loop were now feeling so far away – a clear reminder that I was not prepared for this race. I have not run that distance, and definitely not that length of time, since my pre-injury days. I was also alone the entire time. During the first loop I had a guy running with me for the first 8 miles. This always helps to push me. Since he knew how to pace, he took off on the 2nd loop never to be seen by me again. I was looking at my mile splits and was very disappointed in how much slower they were. Every time I slowed down I reminded myself that there were likely much smarter women behind me who paced properly, and they would likely catch me if I let up. I focused on meeting my time goal, and achieved that crossing the finish line at 2:49:00 on the dot. I was the 1st overall female for the day and 5th overall. I managed to stay upright although there were a few close calls… Today my foot is still feeling the pain that my repeated poor footing inflicted upon it. Luckily I wore my inov-8 Trailroc 150’s for great traction and a lightweight feel as I maneuvered across the rocks and roots. It was a great race on beautiful trails and I’m definitely ready to tackle the next distance – with a little more preparation of course 😉

inov-8 trailroc 150

inov-8 trailroc 150

Running Shoe Rivalry

I have recently been placed in a very tough spot. One that I didn’t expect to ever encounter. I’m in love with 2 different running shoes. Last year I was lucky enough to discover my favorite running shoe – the Inov-8 Bare-X Lite 150’s. There are many reasons I fell in love with this shoe: SUPER-light, compact, one-piece upper, slim fit…but best of all is the lacing system, which makes them the perfect transition shoe for multisport events. They’re so easy to slip on – right out of the box. No need to buy triathlon-specific laces. They feel great, they look great, and they perform great – what’s not to love? Our love affair blossomed as these shoes led me to victory in France. I hadn’t worn them all winter, and then broke them out in March for the Cary Classic Duathlon. Slipping them on before the race reminded me how much I love these shoes – when I wear them I just want to run – FAST!

Recently I acquired a pair of Inov-8 Road-X-Treme 118’s. When I opened the box it was love at first sight. The style and colors are enough to catch your eye, but the slim profile, light weight, and super-breathable upper made them even more appealing. Then I noticed the tongue design – it is integrated on one side and open on the other. Brilliant! I slipped them on and they felt even better than I imagined. That glove-like feel is just one of many things I love about the Inov-8 line. This shoe felt like it was made specifically for me 😉 What I love best about the tongue design is how I can cinch the laces nice and tight – snug around my foot. But there is no bunching of the tongue or shifting of the tongue like I’ve encountered in other racing shoes. Laces flapping around drive me absolutely bananas, so I love that the open side of the tongue is the perfect place to stash them. I couldn’t wait to put these bad boys to the test!

And that’s what I did last weekend. Track workout Saturday followed by the Valley Forge Revolutionary 5 mile race on Sunday. Just as I expected – the shoes were built for speed! They felt so natural – almost like wearing nothing! I placed 4th overall and ran a PR against a tough field of talented and decorated women. A Serbian middle-distance runner who qualified for the 2012 Olympics in the 1500, a bronze medalist in the 10,000 meter at the 2012 British Olympic Trials, and Keystone Track Club’s Katie O’Regan who just ran sub-3:00 at Boston less than a week prior to this race. Fierce!

Turns out there is room in my heart for two loves – there’s no reason for a rivalry. Both shoes have a place in my racing toolbox. The Bare X-Lite 150’s will continue to be my multisport shoe, and the Road-X-Treme 118’s will serve me well for track workouts and running races.


Bare-X Lite 150 vs. Road-X-Treme 118