The Disney Not-Half Marathon

Right after the Marine Corps Marathon, my friend told me my birthday trip to Florida wasn’ t happening. Long story short, I was heartbroken. Then, a month later, when I should have been flying to Florida, Disney opened extra spots for the Disney World Half Marathon. My best friend had an extra spot in her room. Done. Deal sealed. I’m there. And that’s how the adventure started….

Starting on Monday I started weather stalking, and it didn’t look good in terms of rain. Come Wednesday, there were forecasts of lightning. But nothing was getting me down. I’d been dreaming of this race since high school. I’m going to Disney, darn it!

We made it!!
We made it!!

Friday morning I started the day off with a 3 mile sunrise shake out run in the All-Star resort area. I wore a skirt and it was glorious! I did burpees at the different resorts and was in heaven. Lurking in my mind was the impending doom that was to be the next morning, but at least I got in a few good Florida miles.

Where I stayed on my first Disney visit, 19 years ago!
Where I stayed on my first Disney visit, 19 years ago!

After breakfast (MICKEY WAFFLESSSS) and waiting for the bus, we were off to the expo! There was quite a line for our bibs, but it went pretty quickly. I loved the variety of vendors but I surprisingly didn’t get that much. I picked up a couple of Sweaty Bands, some new Nuun flavors, and a tank top to *hopefully* wear the next day. We were also given a luggage tag that was a replica of our medal with our bib. There were constant announcements being made regarding Disney monitoring the weather – as if we weren’t. There was lightning forecased for the morning, with it clearing after the race was to be over. I knew what was going to happen, but I hoped it wasn’t going to be true.

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Beth and I made our way over to Disney Springs for the rest of the afternoon. We did some shopping, I got pooped on by a bird, we drank lots of water. The four of us had a good dinner, complete with irish dancers and a local beer. We received more notices from Disney, that they were watching the weather. After waiting an eternity to get a bus back to the hotel, I started looking at comments on the RunDisney posts. I sadly saw signs that people were posting pictures of. Signs in lobbies that were saying that the race was “delayed”. Then a sign that said it was “cancelled”. Maybe the sign was fake? Right? Wrong. Around 7:15, we got the notice.

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YOU APOLOGIZE FOR ANY INCONVENIENCE????

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I was heartbroken, everyone was. A trip to Disney is not an easy, or cheap affair. We spent #somuchmoney on just the race. However, you can’t stop weather and lightning is no joke. Disney was a class act and offered refunds. Yes, refunds. Four options. A ($180) Disney gift card, 2 one-day park hopper tickets ($340 value), deferral to a race in the next 2 years, or spots in the marathon on Sunday.  I so seriously considered running the marathon, but it seemed risky with the upcoming NJ Marathon. I knew then that I was coming back the next year, so I took the gift card, knowing I can use it on a hotel. I was wary about a deferral, wondering how Disney was going to handle the mass amounts of people trying to get into races that always sell out.

Despite being ready for bed, we went out for a drink at the Boardwalk, but ended up at the Swan. It was awesome seeing the people were already out, getting their 13.1 miles in. But our “lemonade” was already happening. When we got back, the storm rolled in, and boy was it bad. I stayed up for a while, pondering what to do the next day. Do I wait in line for my refund? Run with people running outside in the rain/lightning? Or spend a full day at the parks. Knowing I lost my trip in December, I decided to get my refund over email and my medal in the mail and hit the parks!

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It was seriously a great day. I was there early enough that the castle was open for the race that was supposed to happen, and I got to stroll through it. While the girls I was with went to the expo, I did my favorite rides at Magic Kingdom, met some characters, and did plenty of walking. I met up with them at Epcot, and while they went to dinner (I wasn’t hungry) I walked around the world and had a few drinks, because why not? We ended up back at Magic Kingdom for more rides and Wishes. All in all, I got in my half marathon – 13.6 miles of walking and tons of fun.

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The sun finally came out but it was cold and I did not bring appropriate clothes! Had to buy a sweatshirt!

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Sunday consisted of more Mickey waffles, more Disney Springs, and some (chilly) drinks by the pool. Actually, sitting by the pool was the most fun we had all weekend!!! Despite the cancelled race, we still had fun, and I’m thankful I was able to join Beth and her friends on this girls getaway weekend.

Not pictured: hoodie and jacket.
Not pictured: hoodie and jacket.
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Back to the airport we go.

I have no regrets about not running on Saturday. I think it’s great how the running community got together to run, but I was at DISNEY. I got a full day of walking at the parks and ran my 13.1 miles as a training run this past weekend. I was seriously so sore on Sunday from the walking! I’m already looking forward to next year. Registration for next year opens on Valentine’s Day and I’m planning to sign up for the Goofy Challenge! (13.1 +26.2). If a race gets cancelled next year, I’m done, but I have to try again.

 

Were you affected by the Disney Half Marathon cancellation? Did you go out and run anyways?

Do you run races in adverse weather? Heat, cold, rain, yes. But lightning, heck no.

My first Runner Box!

When I arrived home from Florida (post up tomorrow!), I was more than happy to arrive to my first Runner Box. After a cancelled race (spoiler alert), what more could a runner want than a box full of goodies?

First off…what is a Runner Box? From their website: “RunnerBox is a subscription based box for runners, triathletes and other active people. It’s a mini shoebox filled with running products, mailed to your front door. It has everything from energy products, gels, chews, protein shakes/supplements, nutrition bars, skincare, to safety products and other fun accessories! Some products will be brand new (but personally tested) on the market, and some will be tried and true favorites. With so many products coming out on the market, leave the trials and testing to us, we’ll search out the best and send them to you!”. There are boxes for runners, cyclists, and triathletes. Additionally, you can subscribe to the boxes, give them as gifts, or get one for a specific event!

First of all, I love how pretty it was packaged all up! There was one item that didn’t fit in the box, which was nicely placed on top of it.

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There were so many goodies. These are just a few I really liked/are interested in!

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Banza mac and cheese!’s pasta made out of chickpeas, meaning it’s loaded with protein and fiber. I’ve see Banza at Wegman’s before, but I haven’t tried it yet. ItThis is a perfect way to sample it. I haven’t tried it yet. I plan to make it this week and share it with my roomies to see what they think!

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Despite loving chia, I’m not a mango fan. I passed these along to my boyfriend, who liked them. He said they were “just like granola” and a “good little snack”. I’d take his word for it – I swear I didn’t pay him to say nice things. If I see these around in a different flavor I will definitely try them!

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Despite how unhealthy most energy drinks are, I’m a sucker for a cold Red Bull. I was so excited to see this Runa “clean” energy drink. I had it the other afternoon – I was exhausted after getting up at 4:30 for November Project and working from home on a “ice” day. I can’t say I loved this, but I would get it again. It’s unsweetened, which leaves the lime flavor pretty strong, for me. I did feel a bit of a jolt, as if I had a couple of cups of coffee. I would try it again!

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Hot Shot is a drink that is meant to improve performance and prevent muscle cramps. With Shalane Flanagan as a fan, I’m willing to give it a try! I don’t normally cramp up much, but I plan to use it tomorrow before a speed workout. I’ll be sharing how I liked it on Instagram!

My Runner Box included more than just this – fingerless gloves, granola bars, and tea, to name a few! It also had coupons for some of the products. I love how the Runner Box is a way to sample products that you may not otherwise think to try. I’m not sure if I’d subscribe myself, as in terms of food/nutriton I’m very picky. If I’m looking for a gift for an athletic friend, I think the Runner Box is a great option!

Disclaimer: I received a XYZ to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Do you receive any subscription boxes? I’m always eyeing my roommate’s Stitch Fix, and I keep meaning to try Nature Box and the Jamberry Style Box.

Are you picky about running foods/nutrition? I don’t eat anything with dates, coconut/mango/pineapple, nor do I like mint!

NJ Marathon Training + The First Three Weeks

Surprise! Actually, it’s a surprise I’m writing too. I’ve been meaning to pop in, and this day off/sick day is the perfect opportunity. The first three weeks of my training for the New Jersey Marathon (save $5  off the full/half/relay with the code 17njmBibRave) are complete. I thought I’d share how I’m training for the race, in case anyone is curious!

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– Jeff Galloway intervals: Running using run/walk intervals has kept me running healthy for 7 months now. While it took some time to get used to, I do actually enjoy the intervals. On easy/super easy days, I run 60 seconds, walk 30 seconds. On medium-effort days or days when I’m doing more race pace running, I’ll run 1:30 or 2:00 and walk :30 seconds. This plays along with my next point…

– Heart rate based paces: I also have been using heart rate as an important piece of my training since June. It tells me how hard my heart is working, and helps me recover more quickly. I no longer come in dying from runs, and I don’t spend my days completely drained. I use the Garmin zones (which I set manually for my age/weight/activity level) and stay in certain zones for certain runs. Super easy runs are in zone 3 (135-155), easy runs are in the lower level of zone 4 (155-168), and moderate/hard runs are at the top edge of zone 4 and zone 5 (168+). This is especially helpful after hard days and when keeping it super easy during the first half of a long run. I always try to keep the first half at SEE, then bump it up to EE/moderate for the second half.

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This was an easy effort (EE) run. Guess I took it a little too easy!

– November Project: NP is my one day a week I let myself run whatever pace, and I also get in strength training. Last training cycle I went almost every week. Right now I’m going every other week, due to work demands and other conflicts. I’m hoping after February I can go every week again!

 

– My own training plan: I loved working with a coach last fall, but when things got crazy with work, I felt bad for not following my plan completely. I feel that I’ve run long enough that I can make a decent plan on my own, especially since I’m not gunning for a certain time (but yes, a PR). I’m able to consider races I have planned, and switch runs around for work and boyfriend/friend time. I’m aiming for 5 running days a week, but I’ll be happy with 4 too.

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So, how’s it going??

So far, not as planned. My first week involved last-minute changed travel plans, and a trip down the stairs on New Year’s Eve that left me in a lot of pain (before I started indulging, thank you :P). My second week involved a cancelled race, and therefore, skipped long run. The third week was an improvement

Week 1: 2 runs: 5.3 + 10 mi, 15.3 mi total (Tripped on my skirt fell down the stairs on my a$$ after 10 miles. So much pain.)

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Week 2: 4 runs: 4.14 + 3.15 + 4.14  + 3 mi, 14.43 mi total (Disney Half Marathon CANCELED, but walked 13.6 miles that day)

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Week 3: 

Monday: Off

Tuesday: 4 miles (treadmill) with hill intervals. 3 intervals at super easy effort (SEE), then three with hills at 2, 3, 4%.

Wednesday: 2 miles at November Project with strength training and stairs, 2 miles after.

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Click for photo cred.

Thursday: It would have been a perfect day to run, so sad I couldn’t get out!

Friday: 3.75 miles with my roommate on the hills around our house!

Saturday: Off – I had planned to run, but was nervous about too much of a mileage leap between two weeks.

Sunday: 13.1 miles – the inaugural (and only) Cockeysville Disney World Half Marathon. Now I’ll feel like I “earned” my medal when it comes in the mail.

Medal shaped luggage tag, haha.
Medal shaped luggage tag, haha.

Weekly total: 24.85 miles <– much happier to be here, finally.

Total this training cycle: 54.58 miles

Despite only running 4 days this week, I feel much better after this week. I was legit worried about making it 13 miles, but it wasn’t an issue. Planning for 5 days and a 15 mile long run for week 4, hoping I can get it all in!

What’s one of your challenges of getting your runs in? 

How are you training for your next race?

 

 

2017 Race Preview + Discount Codes

With a new year comes a new race season! I’m excited to already have races planned for almost the whole year with a big spring race season. I can’t wait to run new races in new places, while also working in some of my favorites.

January 7th: Walt Disney World Half Marathon! I got a last minute entry when RunDisney opened up extra spots on my birthday. I can’t wait for a girls weekend and for a PR in FUN during the race’s 20th running.

February 4th: Little Patuxtent Trail Half Marathon, Columbia MD. My first trail race in 2.5 years  is going to be interesting. I could be running on trails, snow covered trails, or ice covered trails. This will be a slow one, but a great experience!

March 12th: Shamrock 5K, Baltimore, MD. The first race in the B3 series, which my roommate is also running! I’m helping her train and it’s going to be an interesting run and after-party, sandwiched between a 17-miler and 18-miler.

April 8th: Sole of the City 10K, Baltimore, MD. The second race in the B3 series. This is a fast course which could be a PR, if it wasn’t during the peak week of my marathon training and the day before my last 20 miler. This one will be slow and steady.

April 30thNew Jersey Marathon, Long Branch, NJ. After getting the opportunity to run this race with Bib Rave as a Bib Rave Pro I knew this was the race “to be” for my second marathon. A flat race and *hopefully* perfect spring weather will bring me to my second 26.2 finish line and *hopefully* a little (or big!) PR.

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June 3rd: Zooma Annapolis 10K or Half Marathon. I loved the 10K last year and I’m so excited to be back as an ambassador once again. What distance I’ll do will depend on how recovery from the NJ Marathon goes. Registration is open now and you can save 10% with the code SAMANTHA2017.

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June 25th: Baltimore Women’s Classic 5KI really enjoyed this race last year – it’s a great little jaunt around Federal Hill and truly a great day for running in Baltimore. I struggled with the last mile of this in 2016, so I hope I can improve in 2017.

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July 4th: 4 on the 4th. I’ll be in NH for the 4th of July, so I’m headed back to the 4 on the 4th in Bridgeton, Maine. I ran this a few years ago and had a great time!

July 8th: Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon. This is why I’m heading North in July. This will be a challenging, potentially HOT race. It will also be an absolutely beautiful course with great beer and pizza at the end. I love that registration is low and you can choose to purchase a shirt, hat, and/or pint glass! (I ordered the hat and pint glass!). Portland, Maine is an amazing place and this is a great racecation in the making!

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September 2nd: Charles St. 12 – The 3rd race in the B3 series. I ran this in 2014 and had a horrible, terrible race. This year I’m seeking straight up revenge on this course.

Pain train for 8/12 miles. NOT THIS YEAR.
Pain train for 8/12 miles and a 12 mile time slower than ANY of my half marathons. NOT THIS YEAR.

September 10th: Parks Half Marathon: This one isn’t a definite yet, but I ran the race in 2016 (didn’t recap on here) and LOVED it. If I’m not back this year, it’s because of a packed September.

September 18th: Rock N Roll Philadelphia – My first Rock N Roll race! This was on my list for 2016 but I just couldn’t swing it with marathon training and other commitments. I’m excited to see if the RNR races are as great as everyone says they are!

Past this, I’m an open book. I’m unsure if there’s a fall marathon in my future, or if I may go for the Goofy Challenge at Disney in January 2018. If there’s a marathon, I have a big decision to make. Do I go for MCM again, meaning I can’t run the Baltimore half (same weekend) and potentially should try to run the 17.75K? Or do I enter my name for NYC, or do a smaller race like Richmond or Steamtown? I think this will become more clear as I go through this training cycle and experience my first Run Disney weekend.

Final 2016 reflections, early 2017 goals

In the past couple of months, I’ve had a great time running for fun and reflecting on my first marathon training cycle, which defined my year in running. As I mentioned in my last post, I was super proud of a couple of late-season PR’s but I had trouble grappling the goals that I had surpassed (or almost surpassed).

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All in all, I have learned what I got out of running in 2016. Not bigger leg muscles, more confidence, or a bigger love for the sport. I got tough, became persistent, and developed some grit. “Grit: firmness of character; indomitable spirit” (Dictionary.com)

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Digging into the hill at mile 26 of the Marine Corps Marathon. 

I’ve developed the grit to get out of bed when it’s hot/dark/my boyfriend gets to sleep for 3 more hours. I’ve realized that when a 16 mile long run starts sucking at mile 4, it’s time to dig a little deeper instead of just turning around. I was determined enough to run healthy that I slowed down so much that at times, it was painful (but it worked). I’ve realized what it means to race. To truly race is so mental and it’s going to hurt, but it’s not going to kill me. It’s all the grit.

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The painful marathon finish and 2 PR’s weren’t luck, they were the result of the grit I’ve finally discovered in me. I’m a much tougher runner than I was a year ago, and I love running more because of it.


So….what’s next for 2017 now? I have races on the docket, now just to set a few goals for myself. Last year I tried to set smaller monthly goals, which I’ll continue to do as well, but I also want to make some yearly ones.

  1. To run 1,000 miles!  – I will end 2016 around 930 miles, knowing if I didn’t have the spring hip injury, I would have met 1,000. I will be happy to reach that next year, knowing that if I’m healthy, I can do it.
  2. To run a marathon – by myself. I was happy to have a running partner during Marine Corps, but I fear my race would have been different if I ran the first half differently. I’m excited for the mental challenge of running on my own.
  3. PR in one distance – I’m not focusing on anything in particular, but one can’t not set a PR goal, right?
  4. Run 2 sub-2:15 half marathons – I’d like to think I can become consistent at this speed after setting a new PR of 2:09 with no other sub 2:15’s under my belt (former PR: 2:15:35) and actually learning to “race”.
  5. Get back to blogging, reading blogs, and communicating with readers and ambassador groups more regularly! (I’ve become so horrible at it!)

What has been your biggest gain from your year in running? What are some of your goals for 2016?

 

Running in 2017: What’s next?

This week I finally got my running “mojo” back. It’s hard to say I lost it after three great race experiences, but the motivation to put in the training again simply wasn’t there. After a group run at Fleet Feet and some solo nighttime runs, I’m back in the saddle but unsure of where to go.

I first set the goal of running a marathon in high school. 7 years later, I achieved that goal after putting in tons of hard work.

In 2015 I set the goal of running a sub 1:00 10K, and this year I set the goal of a 2:10 13.1. I came within 20 seconds of a 1:00 10K (1:00:20 officially, watch hit 6.2 at 59:17) and had an out of this world half (for me) that I never expected. I set these goals realistically, but when I changed how I was training I threw speed out the window to run injury free.

I’m definitely NOT complaining about meeting these goals, not at all. I’m just saying I don’t know where to go now. I knew I was capable of a marathon, but the thought of the pressure I know I’ll put on myself to PR my next one scares me. After “slow” training paces for months, I had no idea I was capable of my other “fast” races and what’s scary is I don’t know if I can run those times again. After 2 years of work, injury, work, injury, work, I finally saw improvement. Finally. But I’m afraid it’ll be another 2 years before I see any more.

While nervous, I’m excited to keep that train rolling. After the marathon I found it hard to keep running on with the intervals, especially at the 60:30 I did during a majority of my runs. It seemed so daunting and slow. But for some reason it worked. Going back to those intervals for the first time this week made me realize it. I can get perfectly in shape with a majority of easy effort, 60:30 ratio runs and then go out and race my little heart out.

In terms of times, I have none set, yet. I will set some light ones because I believe in concrete goals. However, like I ran my last three races, my main goal is just fun. It took me a long time but I finally truly did realize that fun is what makes the difference at races for me, not stress.

Race wise, the first half of 2017 is largely planned out, with one big race on the horizon (**spoilerMARATHON#2spoiler**)! Coupon codes will be added here for some soon, otherwise keep a look out on my instagram (where I’m trying to post more regularly again…TRYING).

2/4: Little Patuxtent Trail 13.1, Columbia, MD

3/12: Kelly St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock 5K, Baltimore, MD (Part of B3 series)

4/8: Sole of the City 10K, Baltimore, MD (Part of B3 series)

4/30: New Jersey Marathon, Oceanside, NJ

7/8: Shipyard Old Port 13.1, Portland, ME

 

 

2016 Running in Review

I feel like these “look back” posts always creep up on us, while realistically, we all know the end of the year is here. I love this time of the year as a runner – looking back on the year and forming goals for the year ahead. By the time 2016 is over I will have put in almost 900 miles, as opposed to about 675 in 2015. I’ve run the healthiest I’ve ever ran *knock on wood* and finally saw some improvements.

January-March: I put in two months of training in preparation for the Half at the Hamptons. Most miles were completed on the treadmill in the twilight zone that is otherwise known as a New Hampshire winter. January was great however February was plagued with a flare-up of my ITB syndrome and the beginning stages of a weird hip/quad injury. I finished the Half at the Hamptons in 2:19:35, running a very consistent race and meeting all the goals I set!

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April-May: After March’s half, took it easy before my second half of the year. My ITB problems subsided, but my hips/quads were all kinds of messed up (from sitting in child sized chairs, I believe, as it still bothers me at work sometimes). I ran the Vermont Half Marathon Unplugged again, which I should have DNS’ed. It was a horrible experience and taught me to listen to my body. I took the next 5 weeks off to heal and to focus on finishing my Master’s program. I slowly returned to running when I moved to Maryland, enjoying a 5K with one of my best friends.

June: In June, I considered myself almost fully back from my hip/quad injury. It still felt wonky at times, but I was managing. I began running using Jeff Galloway intervals and by following a loose “heart rate” plan. I was able to build my miles back up in time to start marathon training. June included two fun races with friends, the Zooma Annapolis 10K  (1:04:30) and Baltimore Women’s Classic 5K (29:30).

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July – September: July started with a 4 mile race, my last race for a while. After that I started marathon training with a coach. She truly led me though a great training cycle that I followed as closely as I could – very well during the summer, but struggled once I started my full-time job. I continued running with intervals and with prescribed heart rate zones, which I attribute to my running injury free. I was seriously loving running in a new way. I ran the Parks Half Marathon (2:22:xx) in early September and finished off the month with my first 20 miler -a huge feat!

2016 Parks Half Marathon - Photo by Dan Reichmann, MCRRC

October was THE month. A second 20 miler, my 10th half marathon, and my first marathon. I killed my 20 miler. I had a good Baltimore Half Marathon  (my last long run) on a hard course and set a course PR (2:25:11). (Actually, at first I thought I didn’t beat last year’s time. But I DID and realized it when I went through last year’s recap and remembering I started my watch late. I need to edit my 2016 recap!). The Marine Corps Marathon was a bittersweet experience, with many ups and downs. No matter how it went, nothing can take the pride away of finishing my first marathon!

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November-December: These two months have been full of recovery and running when I want to. There has been a lack of any structure to my runs and I’ve just done what has felt good. Unexpectedly, I set a big 10K PR at the Annapolis Running Classic  (1:00:20) and a huge 13.1 PR at the Race 13.1 Half Marathon (2:09:05). I have one race left for the year, a 5 miler on Saturday. Like the last two races I just plan to have fun, and if I have a good day I’ll maybe push myself a little. It’s my first 5 mile race, so it will be an automatic PR.

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2 weeks. 2 races. 0 expectations. 2 goals and PR’s CRUSHED.

In 2016 I completed 1 marathon, 5 half marathons, 2 10K’s, and 5 races shorter than 10K. In just 6 weeks I set 3 PR’s (+1 more if you count this next race)! Part of me is a little stumped about where I should set my sights yet, but I’m also very optimistic about what 2017 will hold!

What were some of your running highlights this year? What was your favorite race?