Race Reports: Fetch & Pounce 5k NJ and Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon

1 10 2017

On September 16 and 17, I ran my 19th half-marathon and completed states number 36 and 37 in the quest to race (any distance) in all 50.  Overall, the experience was okay.  It wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad either.  The races would have been more fun if the temperature was cooler, and the experience would have been more enjoyable if travel back and forth had been easier as well as parking in Philly cheaper.  But I’m glad I did it, and will always remember the weekend.

I flew into Philadelphia and went straight to packet pickup on Friday, got my stuff and then headed towards North New Brunswick NJ after eating an absolutely excellent grass-fed burger at the BurgerFi across from the convention center.  The 60 mile drive in the dark that followed was an adventure in construction, poor signage, unyielding fellow drivers and wrong turns, but eventually I picked up my 5k packet and then found the hotel.

Opening my packets, I found the 5k goody bag to be among the best I have ever received because it contained mostly dog and cat products.  The Fetch & Pounce race is held to benefit the Karma Cat and Zen Dog Rescue Society, and since all of my animals are rescues I was definitely happy to support them.  The race started near a dog park and circled a lovely local nature preserve a couple of times before finishing near the field house.  I had told myself I was going to walk, but then once I got started and it was so hot and sunny out I went ahead and jogged it.  I didn’t want to run all out because I hoped to be preserving my energy for the half marathon the following day.  So my stats are unimpressive but my dogs and cats were happy to see me when I got home with gifts.

Fetch Pounce

Back in Philly, I wanted to get a cheese steak and go to see the Liberty Bell after checking in to that hotel but parking was expensive everywhere downtown and when I decided to go ahead and walk, it started raining.  So I ended up eating Chinese dim sum by the hotel instead and got to bed early.

Like all Rock ‘n’ Roll events, the Philadelphia half marathon was crowded as well as star-studded.  Galen Rupp was running and I happened to see him streak past me as I was shuffling to the start line in my corral.  Of course, I didn’t get my phone out of my sports bra in time to take a picture but at least I laid eyes on someone who is about to be very famous in the world of running.  And, like when I did the same race once as Deena Kastor, I can tell people forever “I ran with Galen Rupp once.”

Philly Runners Take Off

In researching everything I could about this race as we often do when we’re excitedly getting ready to run, I found the words “fast and flat” on the event’s website in no less than five different places.  So in my mind’s eye, I was envisioning myself streaking along towards the horizon leaving my past finishing times in the dust.  Um, it wasn’t really flat though.  Some of it was definitely uphill and some pitched definitely downward but a lot of the time as I was slogging along in the 82 degree heat hoping to find something easier about my journey, I kept finding the road rising ahead of me instead of seeming level.  After the race, I looked up the actual course elevation:

Philly course map

I’m aware the elevation change was not much in terms of feet, but it wasn’t exactly flat either.  Anyway, that’s really my only gripe about the race itself.  It was hot out (but thankfully overcast) and my hope of flatness was continuously dashed step after step after sweaty plodding step.  Course entertainment was great, as always. The course was pleasantly scenic as we wound through various neighborhoods, past the infamously haunted Eastern State Penitentiary and along the Schuylkill River in Fairmount Park.  And the motivational signs were inspiring.


Eventually I crossed the finish line in front of the Rocky Steps, not with the PR from a “fast and flat” course I’d been hoping for, but happy to be done nonetheless.

Philly Finish

So I grabbed a medal, had water and some snacks, then began my walk back to the hotel just as as Big Head Todd and the Monsters were finishing their show as headliners for this race.

This was my third “5k then a half on consecutive days” weekend, and I’m still not sure how I feel about it.  The first time, the 5k was at night and I got to bed late.  The second time was this past summer at high altitude, and I know that slowed me down.  And this time there was the heat.  I guess I’ll keep trying until I get it right because it’s certainly an efficient way to race in two states and only pay for one trip.

Here are the not-so-great numbers that illustrate how I slowed down as I went:

Philly Stats

Philly medal

But that’s the usual story of life at the back of the pack anyway.  I’m always slow, sometimes not-so slow and some times slower than others.  One of these days I’ll surprise everyone and come in under 3 hours in a race that’s not completely downhill.  One of these days for sure.

Fall Season Training Weeks 6 and 7: the penultimate taper

18 09 2017

IMG_2773.JPGI can’t say I did much the past couple of weeks prior to this weekend. Labor Day came and went, and the weather turned chilly.  The first red leaves began to show on the trees as the realization slowly dawned that summer is fairly well over.  I rarely welcome this time of year because it signals the end of everything I love: blue skies and greenery, a garden full of vegetables, and endless roads stretching into the distance beckoning me to come and run them.  Here in Northern Illinois the cold months can be quite brutal so at the first hint of winter’s return, a bit of heaviness descends on my mood and I need to make a mental adjustment.

Fall Weeks 6 and 7That’s pretty much what happened the last two weeks.  I kept up with running, stretching and cardio but had to do more yoga to keep myself peaceful, and thus neglected the weight training I should have done.  My right shoulder is still in healing mode anyway, although it is about 95% better now, so it was probably the right thing to do.

IMG_2800 (1)

Not quite able to get the heart rate up that day.  Still bummed and too tired.

The week of September 10 was also taper time for my first fall half, which I will fully report about next time, the Rock’n’Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon.  I’m waiting for all the stats and pictures to show up since it just happened yesterday, and they’re not available yet.


Foggy morning last Wednesday!

My mood is getting better because I’ve begun meditating in the morning with the Headspace app, and I have also started preparing for my winter training project.  Last year, I did a 5 month muscle building program from November to April and got really strong.  This year, I went a little crazy and signed up for a Spartan Sprint in March which I will be training for starting in November.  It is going to require a lot of work because I have never done about half the stuff they will expect of me, so I’m really in over my head again.  But that’s okay.  Planning something new, exciting and slightly scary will help chase away the winter blues by giving me a new goal to strive for instead of moping around and eating while we’re all snowbound for months up here.

And that’s about the latest from these parts at this moment.  I’ll come back with race reports for the Fetch & Pounce 5k in New Jersey on Saturday as well as the Rock’n’Roll Philadelphia half-marathon on Sunday of this past weekend after all the photos are available.

In the meantime, Live Long and Prosper.Untitled



Fall Season Training Week 5 of 10

3 09 2017

This has been an ordinary week with nothing special to report.  I took a couple of days off after Fort2Base to rest my lower body and let it recuperate from the surprising effort it mustered on Sunday.

Fall Week 5

Monday – I did the 40:00 Active Isolated Stretch DVD again, and felt like I really needed it.  My quads and hamstrings were both tight and a little sore.  The right ankle tendons were grumbling but I have since managed to silence them.

Tuesday – I had a lot of stuff to catch up on at home so I did several hours of housecleaning and then gardening outdoors in the vegetable garden, followed by cooking and freezing everything harvested.  I was on my feet a lot and ended up with 10,000 steps even without any formal exercise.

Fall Week 5 Steps

Wednesday – A 30:00 Fast Finish run was on the agenda.  The weather was quite pleasantly cool and I took it easy, running at the bottom of the heart rate range, despite the urge to really haul butt.  It had a 5:00 Zone 3 finish at the end and I was able to push it then.  A 12 hour work shift followed and I did not get 10,000 steps.

Thursday – I tried a Boot Camp DVD I had not done before and discovered it was not exactly what I expected.  Instead of the usual cardio and weights segments alternated in quick succession, this was pretty much all cardio.  For purposes of this training program, I need metabolic/circuit/interval types that employ cardio and weights because I need (1) to keep my heart rate consistently elevated even when my feet aren’t moving and (2) the added benefit of some strength training.   It was another 12 hour work day.

Friday – Another Fast Finish run, this one 45:00, with a 10 minute Zone 3 finish was this day’s training effort.  It went well and I really enjoyed it.  I did do quite a bit of stretching afterwards.

Fall Week 5 Run Stats

Saturday – What a lovely fall day it was!  With early morning temps in the 40s, I found myself wishing I could run. But it was a cross-training day so I opted instead for Cathe Friedrich’s Athletic Training DVD, which featured lots of cardio, weights, core and a nice stretch at the end.  Then I let my younger dog Abby drag me around the neighborhood, so I got some steps in too.

Overall, I feel fully prepared for the races I have coming up and at this point only need to keep readiness at its peak while simultaneously avoiding injury.  Sleep was good most of the week at around 8 hours on average, but I’m finding it hard to wake up in the dark so I pretty much have to force myself out of bed at 5:00 on work days.  Caloric intake has been fairly well in control with protein staying around 120 grams daily and carbs coming from mostly fresh fruits and vegetables.   So even my often dicey nutrition is okay at this moment.  I always drink lots of water, and that has continued.

Two weeks remain before Rock-n-Roll Philly, and I’m starting to get excited now.  I wanna run up the Rocky Steps and yell “Yo Adrian!” LOL

See ya next week!

Fall Season Training Week 4 of 10 plus a day

29 08 2017

Last week, I found myself once again battling tendon overuse trouble in the right ankle area.  I did all the running I had planned but ditched both weights days in order to do some rope stretches with the Active Isolated Stretch DVD from Phil and Jim Wharton which has rehabbed ankles, calves and Achilles troubles for me many times in the past.  Between the extra rest and flexibility that substitution bestowed and going back to wearing my Hokas, I was able to give a pretty decent effort for this past Sunday’s 11.5 mile Fort to Base race.


Fort 2 Base, which goes from Fort Sheridan – the Army base – to Great Lakes Naval Station is one that I’ve been eyeing for years but have not run yet because of the heat we usually have in August.  I was always afraid to venture “10 Nautical Miles” as they call it (which is just about 11.5 miles of running) in potentially extreme temperatures and sun.  But after having survived the full marathon in blistering 86 degree heat with full sun at high altitude last October, I decided no race is ever gonna kill me so I might as well finally do this one.  And was it ever awesome!


First of all it was a cool and overcast day, more fall-like than summer, and then even started to rain after I finished running and was heading back to the shuttles.  So the weather couldn’t have been better.  My new nutrition strategy of eating Nabisco sugar wafer cookies instead of gels and other sticky stuff worked perfectly.  (BTW, sugar wafers in a baggie hold up much better in a sports bra than all that other stuff does.  LOL)

Mile 10The scenery was gorgeous every step of the way, and seeing all soldiers and sailors gave me such a patriotic glow inside.  Pretty much everything about it infused me with energy and I ended up running faster (13:37 pace) than I have ever done in a race over 10 miles.  Around the 9 mile mark as I was getting tired, I fell in with the 13:30/mile pace group and they kept me going at a point when I would have ordinarily given myself permission to slack off.  It was a wonderful event that I would love to do again someday.

F2B Stats

Being one of the slowbees, my usual late arrival at the after party meant the pizza had all been eaten by the faster people and their families, so I can’t comment on that. But I did get a chance to eat some Mashed Potato Chocolate Cupcakes from the Wisconsin Spudmobile, and they were surprisingly tasty.  There was also a Navy band rocking out some impressive rhythm and blues as well as a big Army truck with soldiers posing for pictures with runners and children.  For an non-alcohol party, it was lots of fun.


So that was the highlight of my week.  I am now back to continued prehab/rehab of these old raggedy tendons which must yet propel me through two half marathons in the next 6 weeks.  And I’m sure they will, as long as I stay true to the massive amounts of stretching that needs to be done and keep my runs to three a week with strength-training and low impact cardio in between.

And that’s it for now.  See ya next week…


Fall Season Training Weeks 2 and 3 of 10

23 08 2017

OK, so I know I said I would check in weekly in order to make myself accountable to the legions of people clamoring to read my every word (insert laugh emoji here) regarding my commitment to follow a well-rounded training plan for fall running season.  Because I tend to overdo the parts I like and conveniently run out of time for the less fun stuff in any training regimen, I really do need someone looking over my shoulder and going “hey! what about that?  when ya gonna do it? huh?”  And that’s you!  Thanks for the help.

This is how things went over the last couple of weeks (workdays are shaded in grey):
Fall Weeks 2 and 3 Summary
Obviously, I failed to do all the stretching I had pledged to do.  I am fairly consistent with the 12 minute morning yoga, stretch or yoga/stretch combo videos.  I don’t really like the pre-run drills but I’m doing the dumb things about half the time.  It’s the post-workout stuff that I am struggling with.  A lot of the time I’m starving, thirsty or exhausted and the rest of the time I have something else to do right away so I postpone them until later, and then they don’t happen at all.  I will try to do better!  Especially since I’m having some twinges in my right ankle tendons and that is a direct result of inflexibility in the rest of the posterior kinetic chain.  In fact, yesterday I skipped a non-running cardio workout in favor of doing 40:00 of Active Isolated Stretching with the Phil and Jim Wharton DVD.

My favorite recent run was the 10 Mile Speed Play Run from the PEAR program that I use.  It is part of the 80/20 Running plan they have and consists of a typical 10 mile Long Run but has little quarter mile speed bursts all through it.  When it’s hot, humid and sunny out, it takes a lot out of you to do these but I felt like it made me a better runner.

August 10 miler

The PEAR Program cut out on me at 9.3 miles but Garmin captured it all.

Other than that, there is not a whole lot of noteworthy stuff to report.  My right ankle is trying to bother me but I’m pre-habbing it.  My right shoulder went wonky for about a week after I threw the ball in the back yard for the dog about a dozen times too many, but it’s coming back to normal slowly.  I’m not stretching enough, but promise once again to do better.  I’m eating too much, and will try to do better but can’t make any promises.  And life goes on.

See ya next week!

Fall Season Training Week 1 of 10

7 08 2017

Or to be Star Trekkie about it, I should be dictating:  “Athlete’s Log Star Date 2017.5996”  since today we are 219/365 into 2017.  I guess.  Honestly I don’t know how they come up with those star dates.  Gene Roddenberry had an answer for it that had to do with shifts in time, speed and warp so I don’t know how it would work on Earth.


Fall Week 1 SummaryI got through the first week of training relatively well.  Unlike the running world who put Saturday and Sunday at the end of a week, my weeks always start on Sunday.  I did Andrew Kastor’s 400 meter repeats workout from PEAR that day before I went to work. I copied my pace from GarminConnect under the description of the run below.  There was a very long warm up and cool down so the overall pace was not terribly impressive but I really pushed it during the 400s which did take me out of my comfort zone like it was supposed to.

4x400s on July 30

Monday, I did Cathe Friedrich’s Supercuts DVD which is a metabolic workout and contains cardio/weights segments in rapid succession with little rest in between.  It got my heart rate way up there in the 160s just like running intervals would but did not require any pounding on the pavement because of the swift movements with 8 lb. weights incorporating upper and lower body at the same time.  And I had quite the DOMS in my legs and butt for a couple of days.  So that was good.

Tuesday brought a 50:00 tempo run from the Matt Fitzgerald 80/20 plan on my PEAR app.  I got a very late start because I had to clean the house first, so it was already 2:00 pm and hot when I set out.  The peak portion of the run was supposed to put my heart rate in Zone 3 (preferably by speed) but I ended up going slower to keep it from climbing into Zone 4 because of the temps having boosted it quite a bit.  So it was not effective speed training but I got it done.  I used a 2:30/0:30 Run/Walk because of weather conditions as well.


And I did employ the grueling foam roll torture device afterwards. It hurt like hell which I guess means it was good for me and I need it.

Wednesday, I tried to do the Jordan Metzl Iron Strength DVD despite the comedy of errors that represents my life some days.  I got a late start because of crappy sleep thanks to my younger dog who decided to start barking at 4:30 a.m.  Then I lounged in bed longer than I should have after that trying unsuccessfully to get back to sleep.  Following that, my computer gave me fits and I wasn’t able to queue up the workout until I fooled with restarting and running diagnostics for 20 minutes.  Then the dogs got on the yoga mat with me during my morning stretch.  Then they wanted out.  Then they wanted back in.  Then I ran out of time because I had to go to work.  So I only got 20 minutes of that workout done because of two happy knuckleheads who had other plans for me.


Along came Thursday and another run before work.  Requisite stretching and drills complete, I did 45:00 Short Intervals —  or as I nicknamed them “Walk, Jog, Haul Ass” Intervals  —  comprised of a minute in heart rate Zone 5 (which is basically impossible for me to reach in a mere 60 seconds) followed by a two minute recovery jog during which I would walk the first minute and then jog the second.  It was a very effective workout because I really did haul ass like the Devil was chasing me until I thought my heart would burst, and that felt good.


On Friday I finally got the Jordan Metzl DVD done almost in its entirety.  By the time he got to the 3 minutes of planks at the end I was spent and gave up.  I know, I know!  I said I’d do planks.  But I didn’t.  I was too worn out from burpees, mountain climbers and all the other draconian feats he put me through.  I’ll do them next time.  I swear.

UntitledSaturday brought more dog-inspired delays and I finally set out on the week’s long run at almost 9 am when it was already 70, sunny and pretty much windless.   I managed 8.5 slow sweaty miles (carrying not one but two 16 ounce water bottles) and then called it quits.  Ideally I’d like to have done another mile but I just didn’t have it in me.

Afterwards, I should have done a 15:00 foam roll masochism fest but I didn’t have time.  Our dishwasher had died the night before and I needed to head to the Home Depot to get another one.  Then there was lunch at Chili’s with a beer (just one though), and after that a nap.  So I only rate my performance 9/10 for last week’s effort.  I really will try to do better this week.  I’ll do all the stretching and I won’t skip any planks that come up.

Really.  I mean that.





The next mission, and one forgotten detail.

31 07 2017

In my last post about June races, I mentioned the Denver/Cheyenne running weekend but forgot to talk about the 5k I ran in Cheyenne the day before the Revel Rockies half.

UntitledSo Wyoming turned out to be the 34th state I’ve raced in when I did the Cheyenne Greenway Foundation’s “Spring into Green 5k” on June 10, 2017.  The race took place at Cahill Park and coincided with the ribbon-cutting of an accessible playground for people of all ages and abilities.  I thought this was incredibly neat!  The playground has not only slides and other standard amenities for kids but also has an outdoor elliptical, pull up bar and a bench where you could hook your feet at the end and do abs.  I don’t go to parks much except to run but I’ve never seen anything like this before, and I found it quite brilliant.  The place was swarming with runners and  ribbon-cutting attendees, so I didn’t get a good picture of it but I found this one with a Google search:


Pretty cool, eh?  The elliptical and the bench are on the lower right.  The pull-up thingie is out of frame further right.  To be able to take the kids to the park, get on the elliptical and crank out some crunches at the same time  —  free of charge  —  gives nobody any excuse to be unfit. And they have a 2k running loop around the park as well.  Very nice.  I did okay in the race too.  They recorded my time at 39:03 which is faster than me and my rarely-accurate Garmin clocking and was pretty impressive for the over-5000 foot jump in altitude, if I must say so myself.  I posted my usual collage below:

Cheyenne Collage

It was a fun event on a cool morning and I appreciated the chance to squeeze in an extra state on the day before my first half-marathon of the year.  Another thing that was an unexpected bonus was that the Kiwanis club sponsored a pancake breakfast before the 5k during the ribbon-cutting for the playground and continued serving until well after the race was over.  So there was a lot of nice food there the whole time.  I don’t often worry about eating before a 5k because they’re so short, but it was a nice perk anyway and the whole event was a fun way to begin my first running trip of the year.

And speaking of running trips….

I started the next phase of training this week for my fall half-marathon season.  I have Rock’n’Roll Philadelphia on September 17 (with a 5k in New Jersey the day before) and Run Crazy Horse in South Dakota on October 8.  I ended up getting rained out of my half last week and so my every-2-week-long-mileage scheme has taken a hit.  Because I work Friday/Saturday/Sunday every other week, I can only do a really long run every 2 weeks.  Starting work at 8:00 a.m. means 5 miles or less on work days (and five is even a stretch for old slow-moving Me) since I’m not somebody who gets up before dawn to run.  5:00 is as early as I can manage it on an ordinary day, and that means running about an hour or so is the best I’ll ever do.  I mean, unless I win a big lottery or something and take up the life of a lady of leisure.  But I doubt that’s gonna happen any time soon.

So given the confines of this life of a working woman, I have worked out a 6 day per week plan to maintain and enhance race-readiness according to the new book I referenced in the previous post “Train Smart, Run Forever” along Matt Fitzgerald’s “80-20 Running” which I’ve used before.  Like I said initially, I do more weight lifting than the typical runner’s training plan includes and I like it that way so I have adapted it accordingly.  But this new method calls for a lot more stretching than I’ve ever done and that will be the challenge.  Since neglecting flexibility work is how I’ve always been injured (I guess you’d call that “training dumb”), it makes sense to aim for 100% compliance with a plan that advertises itself as “training smart”.  And to ensure that I do, I will make myself accountable to the dozen or so people who read this blog by putting all down here and reporting on a much more regular basis than I have for the last 9 years.

Here is the basic framework.  My work schedule is a two week block that repeats itself into infinity and those days are shaded blue with work hours noted above each.  UntitledRuns during the week will flux per the Fitzgerald training plan between tempo, interval, fast finish, speedplay etc.  The Metabolic and Boot Camp type DVDs are also variable.  I have lots of those, all around 45-55 minutes and mostly by Cathe Friedrich, which are strenuous enough to count as vigorous cardio.  I’ve used the Jordan Metzl DVD before and it includes stuff I hate like burpees and mountain climbers, but it does yield results and is “runner specific”. The 10-12 minute AM yoga/stretch will also vary between runner’s yoga DVD/MP4s I’ve used over the years from Runner’s World and Greg McMillan.  Yoga Only Day will get filled with whatever full-length yoga I feel like doing that day (and I have dozens of those too).  Of course the workouts will get shifted around as things come up but I will do the best I can to stick to this outline for the next 10 weeks.  And I will check in here weekly to report my progress.  I generally work out 5-6 days a week anyway, so that’s not an issue.  Sticking to all that stretching is where I need supervision.  And the stupid burpees.  Oh and the planks too.  Ugh!  I hate that shit.  The only plank I’ve ever liked was the one Worf was walking at the start of Star Trek: Generations. 😀

But I digress…

I ran 4 miles yesterday before work (having taken a rest day the day before) and am off to do a metabolic DVD right now (Cathe Friedrich’s XTrain Supercuts).  I will finish out the week and be back to report on Sunday or so.