FAAP Fall Classic 10k

I haven’t posted in awhile. My apologies but I needed a break. From running, from training, from thinking so hard about it all. So what did I do with my two weeks? Nothing. I didn’t run. I didn’t work out. I ate anything I wanted. I drank some beer and wine. After about 12 days of living a normal American lifestyle I’d had enough.

I started with the P90X plyo DVD followed by a 3 mile run the next day. Apparently that was too much. My legs were super sore yesterday and still complaining this morning. But Shane was excited for this event so we were on our way at 6:45am. I chose my INKnBURN denim shorts and leaf ’em sports bra under our Team Brunazzi shirts. Shoes were Altra Superiors with the rock guard removed. We dropped off the kids with Shane’s sister to play with their cousin and then headed to North Park.

We picked up our shirts and bibs and then talked to the other runners and our friends from the timing service. Shane decided we should do a warm up so we headed up the road a ways and immediately my legs complained. After a short distance I gave up and headed back to await the coming torture. I also discovered my Garmin decided to discharge its battery and shut down so I would be running ‘blind’.

Shane pre-race
This race is held by the Filipino American Association of Pittsburgh so there was a hand-carved gong to get us going. The race director recognized Shane and I and offered a greeting before launching into the course description and markings. After that the medical director gave a short word on not pushing too hard and respecting your limitations. I admit I snickered that a 5k/10k had a medical director so maybe I only got what I deserved.
The 10k started 10 minutes before the 5k and at the sound of the gong I went hard. I knew we would move from road to trail quickly and I wanted to be in position before we bottle necked. Suddenly I realized I was ahead of Shane and all the other women. I pulled back and about 5-7 more people blew by me. Shane shouted, “You’re running 6:15 pace. Slow down!” I should have listened.
I pulled back a little bit as we hit the trail and settled into the chase pack. My legs hurt but I knew I was refreshed from the recent rest and wanted to see if they would shake out. I started to worry when I was looking for the 1 mile water stop long before we actually hit it. Feeling like you’ve run way over a mile at only 0.75 is not a good sign. Without a Garmin I figure I went out too hard. I probably ran a 7:45 first mile. Oops.
The next two miles were a blur of pain as my lungs and legs began to burn. I kept pushing knowing that I should be able to place well since it was decently technical trail and a short distance. I couldn’t get any decent pace on the uphills (I’ve had this happen a LOT recently) and I was overheating. I whipped off my shirt, not caring that my bib was on it.
As we approached some volunteers pointing to a turn I thought, “We must be over halfway now.” Nope, they shouted, “2.8 miles. Almost halfway!” I wanted to die. I decided to pull back for a mile and see if I could recover enough to push hard to the end. A few men passed me and a woman I know, Natalie, caught me and ran with me for awhile. We chatted and I relaxed into it for a bit until we hit a long uphill. I let my friend go and silently berated myself as I walked up.
The last couple miles another runner I know, Mike, caught me and basically stayed on my tail with another man. We were all suffering and didn’t chat much except for when we came to two forks in a row that were unmarked. We made our best guesses based on the general direction we needed to head and hoped for the best. Thankfully we came upon another volunteer about a quarter mile later. I quickly told him about the unmarked forks but I guess he didn’t say anything because I found out a lot of people got lost there, including the leaders.
As I pounded down a hill a volunteer shouted that there was a downed tree at the bottom to watch out for. A man bolted past me, ignoring the warning, and caught his feet on the tree taking a pretty awful digger. But he got up and kept running so he must have been okay. I took the time to walk to the tree and step over and lost the man in the process. As I ran up an access road I heard another set of feet approaching. I figured it was Mike but a quick glance over my shoulder told me differently. A woman passed me and quickly gapped me. I didn’t care in the least by that point.
As we headed back towards the start I knew there was a field and then one last road section to the finish line. Two more women approached from the rear and I gathered enough dignity to push hard enough to ensure my lead. I tried to catch the woman who had passed me on the way to the finish but I didn’t have enough of a kick. I dragged myself across the line in 1:05:15 for 27th overall and 9th woman.
I crossed the line, handed over my bib tag after some fumbling with my shirt, and then stumbled to the grass where I promptly collapsed. I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath. I was hot and then cold and not sweating. I chugged the remainder of my water between gasps and stared at the swirling tree branches over my head. I was slightly amused by how I must appear to the other runners. Out of shape? Not a trail runner? Inexperienced? I mused that the medical director would be showing up to give me a speech any second. Only it was just a fellow runner and a volunteer who came to my aid. After a few minutes of listening to them debate whether I should stay laying down or get up and walk I dragged myself to my feet and into the port-o-john to hide. After about 10 minutes I felt almost normal although a little wobbly. I swallowed my pride and rejoined the festivities outside.
While waiting for results the FAAP put out Filipino food but I couldn’t even look at it. I grabbed a banana and hunkered in the corner to watch the dancers do their performance.


Filipino dancers
As I watched my strength returned. I just wanted to go home but Shane had finished in 7th place in about 55 minutes and earned 1st in his age group so we waited. I was shocked when I was called for 3rd in my age group. I absolutely felt my performance was undeserving of anything. I also learned the first woman had finished in 55-something. On a good day I probably could have smashed this course and gotten an overall award. That’s going to drive me in regaining my fitness in the coming weeks for sure. In the end I’m just glad I got a run in and got out on the trails even if it was an embarrassing performance.


Close up of the bamboo award



Boston Harvest 2013

This story starts with last year’s Boston Harvest 5k. Shane has been working around the clock since about 3 days after the 2012 race ended to make this year’s version bigger and better. He added a 10k option and got more sponsors, more donations, more door prizes, and just more everything. The goal this year was to have 300 participants. Thanks to an estimated 800 man-hours we reached, and possibly exceeded, this goal.

Friday night we packed up the kids and sent them off to Shane’s parents for the night. Then we frantically packed vehicles and double checked mile markers and signs. We had caught a teenager stealing the handmade scarecrow mile markers from the trail so we had to check every last detail ten times over to be sure everything was perfect. Shane picked up cookies, cake, chips, and made Gatorade while I made parking signs and buckets for door prize drawings.

Parking signs
My car
Shane’s car
Handmade mile markers
By the time we made it to bed Friday night I had no idea how we would make it through race morning. However, we were up and moving shortly after 5am and we got everything set up right on schedule. We never could have done it without all of our wonderful volunteers. They erected tents, set up tables, registered runners, handed out packets, and generally turned chaos into calm.
Food table
Cake with a certain child’s fingerprints
At 9am we were ready to launch the 10k runners. I was originally registered for the 10k but I developed a bad cold in the days leading up to the race and I didn’t want to be MIA for over an hour so I dropped to the 5k. As the 10k began I rushed to set up the awards table, food table, and door prizes for the runners upon their return. A short 15 minutes later it was my turn to toe the line.
Big Beaver Big Dawgs
As we took off I tried to hold back. I was breathing okay and I began to hope I might do okay despite my cold. I was running with our friend’s son and we put down a 7:40 mile. I felt fine and wasn’t even breathing hard. I started to get excited but I guess it was premature. As we approached the turn around I began to feel my chest tighten up. I kept pushing but quickly went from congestion to pain so I pulled way back. My friend’s son kept up the strong pace while I struggled to breathe coming in at 8:30 for mile 2. In mile 3 I began to assume I was going to have to walk. I really eased up and trotted while a few men passed me. As soon as a woman passed me I pulled it together and sped up again. I managed to fend off all of the other approaching women. Mile 3 ticked off in 8:48. I held steady for the last .12 miles and just crossed before the next woman.
Waving to our amazing photographer, Jesse Meyers
My chip didn’t register as I crossed the mat and I forgot to stop my Garmin so my time is off. But the official results are listed as 25:54 for 24th overall, 7th woman, and 1st in my age group. I’ll take that for being sick, up all night, and stressed all morning!
Boston Harvest swag
As soon as I finished I stumbled up to the finish area to get back to work. My mom and the other volunteers had set out the door prizes and drawn bib numbers while the races were happening so I spent the next half hour handing out 130 prizes to the lucky winners. Meanwhile Shane was getting the official results printed out and the clown and Kona Ice truck entertained the kids. Unfortunately, our scheduled band did not show up so the adults were less entertained.
Lulu the Clown was a hit again
As soon as the results were available we handed out plaques plus gift certificates to the top 3 men and women in each race plus the top master man and woman. The top 3 men and women in each 5 year age group each received a medal. Every kid got a finisher medal on top of being eligible for an age group award. And there was a midpack award for each race as well. Our hope was that everyone would go home with something between awards and door prizes.
Age group awards
Kids’ medals
Midpack awards
Overall awards
Even the dogs got medals
It began to rain as we started the awards ceremony. Thankfully it stayed at a light drizzle until we were just finishing cleaning up. Everyone except our most loyal volunteers and friends had left by the time it really poured. We quickly broke down the tents and cheap vanity tables and cleaned up the garbage and signs. Before we knew it the ballfield looked like we had never been there and the trail was empty. We were left with 3 vehicles to unload in a downpour but it didn’t put a damper on what turned out to be a really great day!
There is no official total yet but we feel confident we exceeded the $4,000+ we raised for Rex’s fight against Batten’s Disease last year. As soon as the final bills (port-o-john rentals, timing fees, etc) are paid and the final registration check comes in we will be able to give Rex and his family the proceeds from the race. Seeing Rex’s face light up at the race made it worth all the time and effort and frustration. He is such a sweetheart!
Rex and his family and friends
Overall, I don’t think we could have asked for a better day. The course was dead on accurate, the weather was great until the very end, the volunteers were amazing, the participants were cheerful and patient, and everything just went according to plan. We are so blessed to be part of such an amazing community and running family!

I am Not an Athlete

When I started running just 5 short years ago I wanted to be lean and defined and ‘athletic’. I wanted the body and the attitude that went with it. I assumed that once I completed the Couch to 5k program I would feel like an athlete and be well on my way to looking like one too.

Then I finished my first 5k in 29:59 and realized that I am not fast in any sense of the word. I didn’t have an excuse for not being able to beat that mark for a long time. I wasn’t overweight. I quit smoking. I followed training plans. But I was still slow.

After my first half marathon
I convinced myself that I must be a distance runner. You know, all slow twitch. So I set my sights on a half marathon and finished in 2:29. I was still slow and I still looked exactly the same. The pattern continued and I tried the marathon, the 50k, the 50 mile. And the results were the same. I finished in the back of the pack, sometimes even dead last.
Shane and I after my first ultra in 2009
Every distance I tried I succeeded in finishing but it was never good enough. When I failed at 100 miles it was a real shock. When I failed a second time I was doubly convinced that I must not be cut out for it. So I hired a coach and gave training my all and finally ‘succeeded’ on my third try. I thought for sure that NOW I would feel like an athlete.
Well, the truth is, I don’t. I still finished at the back of the pack. I didn’t do anything impressive. All I did was endure. That’s all I’ve ever done; Hold on until the finish line is in sight and then heave myself across. I still don’t look any different. I still don’t feel any different.
I’m not saying running hasn’t given me anything or changed my life. I am more confident because I feel more comfortable in my skin. But it’s still the same skin. And I have made tons of great friends and travelled and gotten to experience many great things. But I’m still just me. I am still just average and I’m still scatter-brained and eccentric.
The Pretty Muddy experience
I don’t know what it will take to convince me that I’m ‘good enough’. Obviously, distance wasn’t the answer. I’m not sure there IS an answer. Maybe that’s the telltale sign of a competitor. Maybe I’m overly competitive. Maybe I’m just insane. In the end, all I know is that I still want to be better. The question now is what kind of better? And I think the answer is speed.
Boston Harvest 5k 2012
I want to consider myself fast. I want to take a podium spot because I ran a great race, not because the fast women were somewhere else that day. I want to be able to dream of Boston. I want to be in the front waves of my next marathon. I’m not sure how I’ll get there or what it will take but I plan to find out. And I can only hope that the same initiative and drive that got me over 100 miles will push me to new race times as well. At least now I have a base to build on!
When did you feel like an athlete? What are your favorite speed workouts or training plans?

A Sordid Tale

If you noticed, my last post was taken down after a day. If you didn’t notice… well that’s okay too.

I feel like I’m living in a bad reality TV show, maybe a daytime soap. Things like this just don’t happen in real life, right? Before I get ahead of myself, let me just start at the beginning.

A little over 2 years ago Shane and I went to a volunteer clean up for a conservation area near our home. We spent an entire day mending and painting fences, signs, and benches. We cut apart fallen trees to clear the trails and picked up litter. It was at this event that we met the president of the Mon-Yough Trail Council (MYTC) and pitched our idea for a race on the trail.

Fast forward a few months and our dream became a reality. Team Brunazzi teamed up with the MYTC to create what is now known as the Boston Trail 5k & Half Marathon. About this time Shane and I began experiencing our first ‘trolls’ but we quickly realized it was just one person who seemed bound and determined to find ways into our lives.

Since the first year of this race Shane and I have been targeted by this person. Fake Facebook accounts pop up and add us as friends or ‘like’ our event pages and then start complaining about the event or trying to sabotage our relationships with other community-minded people. We realize the pages are fakes when this happens (and the name on the account was never a registered participant at the event, etc). In the past we have always reacted by ‘unfriending’ the account and moving on.

Now a line has been crossed. This person created a Facebook page for the Mon-Yough Trail Council after last year’s race. No one realized it was not created by the MYTC and the Brunazzi family and many of our friends ‘liked’ the page. The page pretended to be the real MYTC for almost a year, posting about upcoming events, council meetings, and the like.

At one point the page sent Shane a message asking him to submit an article for the MYTC newsletter. Shane spent hours writing and rewriting his article and then sent it off to the trail council by snail mail. Because he sent it to the true MYTC the article was published (without them questioning why he sent it) and we never questioned that the page that asked Shane to write it was legitimate.

This false sense of security in the false MYTC page almost cost us our relationship with the council. A few days ago Shane created an event page for the Boston Trail race and began inviting friends and family to attend. A few hours later the supposed ‘vice president’ of the MYTC used the Facebook page to ask us to take down the event page stating that we couldn’t advertise the race because it’s ‘not ours’ and their sponsor wouldn’t like it.

Shane apologized and took down the event page but questioned why free publicity was suddenly frowned upon. In years past we have bought banners and signs (with our own funds) to promote the race and never been asked to take them down. The response was that Shane and I are ‘arrogant’ and use the race to promote ourselves instead of the MYTC and should leave the race to the professionals. We quickly retaliated by asking our friends and family NOT to attend the race. Of course we were angry, justifiably so, but we were also wrong.

The next day I spoke with the true MYTC board members and learned that the Facebook page was false. We were stunned to say the least. For over a year we had been duped and sabotaged unknowingly. This person managed to set it up to look like the real MYTC by asking Shane to submit the article which was then published. They posted about every event and meeting diligently just like the true council would. Never once did we doubt the authenticity of the page, until it almost ruined an outstanding event.

We quickly apologized to everyone for the mix up and took down our posts about it. This led to the next deception. The person behind all of this obviously had access to Shane and I’s personal Facebook pages. The messages we received referred to posts we had made on our private accounts so we began to hunt for ‘suspect’ friends. We unfriended dozens of pages and people simply because they didn’t have mutual friends or we didn’t know them on any personal level. We began to feel a little more secure in our online world again but it was short lived.

You may remember Shane and I’s first ‘Team Brunazzi’ event, the Boston Harvest 5k, from last year. It benefits a little boy, named Rex, in our community who suffers from Batten’s Disease. We had the pleasure of meeting many family members and friends of Rex at the event and some of them became our Facebook friends too. One of these ‘people’ claimed to be Rex’s grandmother.

For the last year ‘she’ has been privy to our private Facebook pages and all of our posts. ‘She’ has commented on our events and ‘updated’ us on Rex. But today we found out ‘she’ is not real. We spoke to Rex’s family and mentioned this ‘grandmother’ and quickly realized it’s another fake page. The Brunazzi stalker strikes again.

Right now we are just blown away by the length of time, the amount of planning that went into the fake MYTC and ‘grandmother’ pages, and the amount of hate that must be behind such an effort. So I hope you will forgive us if we are not as active or open as we would normally be online. Until the investigation into these matters is completed and the person behind it is facing legal consequences we won’t be very trusting.

Not to fear, however, there will still be race reports, running pictures, and some product reviews coming up. There just will be no updates on our personal or charitable lives. We need to protect ourselves, our children, and our events. I’m sure you understand!

Thank you and love you! <3 p=””>

Random Thoughts and Such

I really don’t have too much to write about right now. As evidenced by the lack of posts lately. I have random snippets of information that I feel might be of interest, however.

Remember how I checked the calibration on our treadmill and it is way off? Well I have scheduled an appointment for Monday to have our treadmill checked over, calibrated, and any problems diagnosed. We will then have the option of buying any parts that have worn out and either install them ourselves or have them installed during a second visit. I’ll keep you posted on how that all works out. I think I’ll do some research into treadmill maintenance that will hopefully prevent us from getting into this situation again.

Next awesome thing…. Shane and I are adding a second race to our resumes. On August 11, 2013 at 7am runners can meet on the Yough River Trail in Elizabeth Township, PA for a 4 or 10 mile run. It will be called the P&LE Express in honor of the railroad that used to run through here. The Greater Pittsburgh Road Runners will be the sponsor and cost will be $3 for non-members and $1 for members. No shirts, no medals, etc. Just run and be timed for cheap!

The old railroad logo
Our second annual Boston Harvest 5k will be on September 21, 2013. This year we will also be adding a 10k option. The 5k will start at 9am and the 10k will start at 9:15am. Cost is $15 or $10 for kids under 15 and seniors over 59. Late registration will be $5 extra. Last year we were able to raise over $4,000 for Rex Timko of Forward Township. Rex has Batten’s Disease which is a life limiting disease that causes mental impairment, seizures, loss of sight, speech and motor skills. All proceeds go to Rex and his family. For more infomation on Rex visit www.rallyforrex.com. We are also still in need of sponsors and donations to cover the costs of insurance, permits, and awards. If you know of a company that may be interested in sponsoring please emailTeamBrunazzi@gmail.com.

Lastly, I’m still continuing with Graston treatments and a few people have asked me how to find a Graston practitioner. You can search for one here. As a word of caution, make sure you don’t ‘suck it up’ if the force is actually painful. I learned this thanks to an aggressive treatment on my quadriceps tendon that led to a huge bruise that’s hung around for two weeks now!

Lesson Learned. Speak up if it hurts!
I guess that’s all for now. Work is picking back up, I’m still working through my ACSM CPT classes (over halfway!), I need to go take a CPR/AED class, and I am still running like a mad woman! I finished January with a PR 190.8 miles! So if you find yourself wondering why I haven’t posted it’s probably because I’m out on a road or trail (or hopefully our treadmill again soon!).
How was your January? Did you let the winter weather keep you from running? Did you workout indoors in other ways?

Stronger By The Minute

The last couple weeks have been really hard! And that’s not a complaint. In fact, I’m ecstatic. I am tougher than I realized. I’ve been taking my weaknesses and working on making them strengths. I’ve been putting in miles when I’d rather sleep, watch TV, eat something, or play with my kids. Maybe I won’t always be a back/middle of the pack runner?

For example, I did speed work today. A one mile warm up, 20 x 1 minute at 7:30 pace with 1 minute recovery job between repeats, and 1 mile cool down. I would have preferred a 2 mile warm up and cool down but the little one was out of patience early on today. And running for 20 minutes total at faster than 5k pace was daunting! In the end I finished with 10k at 9:40 average pace. That in itself is not that impressive but the fact that I wanted to die (or slow down) after 4 repeats yet I still finished 20 is! By 15 I realized something. It didn’t feel quite so awful anymore. My legs and lungs were developing a rhythm. The recovery jogs now felt awkward and out of sync rather than the repeats. It was odd and kind of inspiring. By the end of the 20th interval I felt like I could do more. I didn’t really want to but I knew I *could*!

I spend a lot of time in my home gym and on my treadmill and one thing that’s really helping me is gathering inspirational memorabilia. We have two displays in the basement like this. The first is a Bill Rodgers signed print. He won the Boston Marathon FOUR times! It really helps to look at that and think that what I’m doing doesn’t even compare to what he must have been running. It also helps to remember that even the fastest and strongest runners have moments of weakness. At the bottom it says, “To be a winner means preparing not just one day, one month, or even one year – but for a lifetime.” I may not be better tomorrow or next week but you bet I will be next month and next year!

Someday I will see the Boston finish line!
The second display is Shane and I’s autographed ‘cards’ from elite athletes. It really helps me to remember that I have met Shalane Flanagan and Amy Yoder-Begley and they are real women. They have aches and pains and bad days. They like junk food and don’t have superhuman willpower any more than the rest of us do. They just set their sights on a goal and then make choices that make those goals possible. Whether that goal is a 4:29:59 marathon or a world record, it’s a great lesson in perseverance for everyone.
I’ll never be a world-class athlete but there’s no reason I can’t be better than last year or last race! And I’ll keep imagining that day when I qualify for Boston or finish my first one hundred or age group at a major race. Because I knowone day I will achieve anything I put the work into.

Randoms, Running and WOD’s

Since signing up for Burning River 100 I have been focused on getting into training and finally finishing my first hundred. I have been plotting with an amazing ultra beast and my CrossFit coach. I’ve been having salad at night in front of the TV instead of M&M’s (those come later) and I’m drinking more water than I ever knew I could hold. (Glad hubby pays the sewage bill!)

This week is my first week of real training since Marshall University Marathon. I was so excited (and I still am) but I forgot how much real training sucks too. It’s been a fun couple days mentally readjusting to not being able to easily walk up and down stairs or get up from the couch. And it’s not even a ton of mileage yet either!

Today I took it easy and ran my prescribed mileage at recovery pace. And then I hit CrossFit for some more torture training. This was the WOD I was given by my coach:

I didn’t push super hard. I wasn’t out of breath when it was over. I focused on slow and steady but still my legs wanted to rip themselves off and club me with my Altra shoes. As you can see I only managed 8 rounds + 2/3 of a 9th round. I really can’t wait to get into shape where a 30-ish mile week and two CrossFit WOD’s don’t total me. Instead of being upset I’m just going to use it to fuel my fire. By July this won’t even be worth doing as a WOD, maybe not even as a warm up.

In other news, Christmas is bearing down on us (which also means I’ll be another year older, you can send presents). Most of my shopping is done and everything that’s here is wrapped. Even the Christmas cards went out already. I’m pretty proud of myself! But what I’m really ashamed proud of is this:

My poor Lily has been walking around shivering in our drafty old house. She is always on my lap or under a blanket or trying to cuddle with our other dog. I finally took pity on her and bought her Dachshund pajamas. Yes, there are companies that make extra long clothes just for weiner dogs. And yes, I am now one of THOSE people. My dog wears clothes….

In other (odd) news, I’m not racing this weekend. Shane has signed up for at least one 5k and may do a 5k/10k combo race the next day. It’s really weird for me to say no to (THREE!) races but I know I need to put in my long run and then rest up for next week. Eyes on the prize and all that jazz… What’s cool is that I might be able to be a spectator and cheering squad for once!? Never gotten to cheer on Shane in a race before. Maybe Sunday could be the first!

Nerve Check

Last month I had the amazing experience of meeting Shalane Flanagan during the Runner’s World Hat Trick. Getting to Q&A an Olympic marathoner has to be one of the coolest things I’ve had the pleasure of checking off my bucket list (even if I didn’t know I should have put it on there!). I promised to get up the videos of the session and I finally am! I’m only about 5 weeks late so hush!

The first video I wanted to share is Shalane talking about her pre-race nerves and how they affected her throughout highschool and college and how she uses them to push herself now. After the video I’ll talk more about my own experiences with keeping pre-race jitters in check but for now here’s the good stuff:

Now, if you’re still here, let’s talk about me! Every person is different but from my own experience I know that race day nerves can ruin a performance. My first marathon was an absolute disaster and a big part of it was nerves. My stomach went sour in the days leading up to the race and I let all the fears, excitement and anxiety get the better of me. I had the worst race of my life and a miserable couple days on either side of it to boot.

So what can you do? The answer is to focus on what you can control.

Have you done the training? If the answer is no then maybe you should reevaluate your goals or even drop down to a shorter distance. But if the answer is yes then you should feel secure in your ability.

Is your goal realistic? We all have the desire to blow our last time out of the water or get a medal. Evaluate your training and races leading up to your goal race. Do the times and paces that you ran indicate your goal is attainable? Note: I didn’t say easy, just within reason. Again, if not, reset your goals. If yes, try to relax and trust in your training.

I was extremely nervous meeting Shalane for the first time!

Do you have a plan? Have you figured out what your splits should be at each mile or certain interval (5k, 10k, half, etc)? Do you know when you are going to take a GU or a Shot Blok and when you plan to drink? For my PR marathon I had everything planned: 52 minutes per 5 miles and GU or 2 Shot Bloks every 5th mile. I carried a handheld and drank to thirst. Knowing that I had everything I needed in my SPIbelt and that I wasn’t depending on luck, the course aid stations, or last minute decisions really eased my mind.

Check the weather the day before and lay out your clothes, your drop bag (if you’re using one), your (charged!) Garmin and iPod, your GU’s/Shot Bloks/whatevers, and anything else you will need to take with you. Having everything right in front of you when you wake up will make it easier to remember your plans and you won’t leave the house wondering if you forgot something important.

Lastly, eat your normal breakfast even if you have to eat it earlier than usual. If you ate a bagel with peanut butter and coffee before long runs then eat that before your race. Think about how long it usually takes you to feel ready to run after your meals and allow at least that much time between your breakfast and your race.

You may not be entirely relaxed and confident, but as long as you know there’s nothing else within your control, it will be easier to trust in your training and have an enjoyable day.

What are your favorite pre-race rituals? Do you have any superstitions or good luck charms? How do you keep your nerves at bay? 

Two Thirds Crazy

Saturday was the day that the real challenge began at the Runner’s World Half & Festival! This was the day that we had to practice our restraint and run the 5k and the 10k at a pace that wouldn’t leave us hobbled for the half on Sunday. As we all know, I am not good at restraint! (And if you are curious, you can find day 1 here and day 2 here)

The morning began with an early wake up call. I ate very little and then met Katie of Katie Runs This in the lobby to catch our shuttle to the expo. We dropped our bags at the gear check and wandered around chatting with the other runners.

Katie and I pre-race
Wouldn’t you know we ran into more of our running idols! I’m still surprised I didn’t suffer a heart attack this weekend! Dean Karnazes was hanging out with Bart Yasso at the starting line. Bart introduced us (again… I met Dean previously on his 50 states tour) and Dean graciously agreed to pose for photos with us. I also ran into the Altra Zero Drop crew again. I seriously love those guys!
Dean and I
Altra Zero Drop crazies
All too soon it was time to line up. I decided I just wanted to stay under 30 minutes and then we were off. The first mile I was right on target with a 9:30-ish. The second mile I started to warm up and my legs began to pick it up of their own accord. I saw low-8’s on my Garmin and made a conscious effort to pull it back. I knew that attacking the hills of Bethlehem at near-PR pace would really hurt later! Third mile was in the low-9’s and then I just kicked it into the finish. My official time was 27:49. I still remember not too long ago when that would have been a PR and now it’s just a steady state-type run!
5k done! One down, two to go!
After I finished I wandered around a bit to stay warm until the 10k began. I watched some runners finish and then I checked my medal into my bag and headed for the 10k corrals. Once again I put myself farther back than I really wanted to in an attempt to be conservative. I have NEVER run a 10k before! They just aren’t a popular distance around here I guess. So I wanted to race but I also didn’t want to ruin my experience for the half marathon in the morning. I settled on aiming for just under an hour finish.
The gun went off and we all shuffled forward. Soon enough I was running side by side with Amanda of Run To The Finish and we settled into a 9:30-ish pace. For the first half we ran and chatted and stayed conservative. In the second half my legs once again decided they didn’t want any part of easy or conservative and sped up. It was probably a good thing because I came across the line in exactly 59:30! Exactly where I wanted to be!
Two races down, One to go!
I went to gear check and picked up my bag and jacket before I walked back to the finish shoot to cheer in my friends. As I cheered in runners I looked up and just happened to see Kelly of Slipping Slowly Into Pain! Some of you might know him better as Lace_up on the Runner’s World forums. We’ve been talking about meeting up forever and it just never happened so I was beyond thrilled to see him not 15 feet away. I ran around the fences and to the other side of the chute to say hello. It turns out his wife, Jo, was also running so I had the pleasure of meeting them both!
Jo, Kelly, and I
After we parted ways I went back to the hotel and showered and changed before heading back to the expo to enjoy the festival. The first thing I did was get the rest of my books signed, of course! I was able to get Bart Yasso, Mark Remy, and Matt Long to sign my copies of their works.
Mark Remy made me a little runner drawing!
Bart Yasso rounded out the autographs in my Big Book of Marathon Training
Look at how thrilled I was that Matt Long signed my book!

Matt and I

After getting all of the autographs I’ve ever dreamed of, Katie and I headed off to the Run Chat Tweet Up. If you don’t know what Run Chat is then you need to get on Twitter (if you’re not already there!) and start using the hashtag #runchat every second and fourth Sunday of the month to talk shop with a huge community of runners! After the tweet up I got to spend some time chatting with Scott and Dave, the creators of Run Chat. Super nice guys and pretty awesome runners as well!
Scott (@iRunnerBlog), Me (@runbanshee), Dave (@RunningBecause)
My Jeep now sports a #runchat sticker
I wandered back to the expo just in time to see Shalane again. We goofed off with the Runner’s World cover photos for a bit before I became too hungry to hang out any longer.
I cracked up for this one!
Katie and I decided that meat and beer was on the menu so we headed to a restaurant for wings, mozzarella sticks, spring rolls, chicken tenders, queso and this:
After a little bit of down time at the hotel we had one more appointment for fun and games. A pasta dinner was served in the ArtsQuest building and I ate with Golden Harper of Altra Zero Drop and had the chance to ask him lots of questions, both running/shoe related and otherwise. Once again I was amazed by the knowledge and desire to educate all of the Altra team exudes.
SteelStacks at Bethlehem
The nightcap was a speech by Matt Long about his accident, recovery, and what he’s been up to since his book was published. Katie and I grabbed a beer and settled in for an amazing presentation. It was extremely hard to keep our eyes open after such a long and exciting day but it was worth it nonetheless!
Matt Long

Two races down, one to go!

I Can Die Happy Now

If this weekend is anything like today then I’ve reached the pinnacle of my running career. Just take me now so I can die happy lord! The Runner’s World 5k, 10k, and half marathon are here and I am just unbelievably excited!

I drove 5 hours to Bethlehem, PA today and arrived at my hotel around 3PM. I checked in and was immediately presented with a STELLAR schwag bag. It has it all plus some vouchers for freebies at the expo and backstage passes for a few of the tents and demos. Runner’s World and FitFluential really hooked us up!

At 5PM an AMAZING (am I using enough superlatives yet?!) luxury bus pulled up and whisked us off to Runner’s World headquarters. I thoroughly enjoyed the leather seats and bar stocked with bottled water (what else for a group of fitness freaks). I got to chat with many of the bloggers I’ve admired and worked with but never met face to face before. I’ve never enjoyed a 30 minute drive so much in my life!

Snakes on a Plane Bloggers on a Bus
Runner’s World HQ
We arrived at RW HQ just in time to greet the editors and then sit down for a fully catered meal of amazing local and organic foods. There were veggie burgers, real burgers, hot dogs, salad, pasta salad, potato salad, and plenty of desserts. I gorged myself while I gossiped with the other bloggers and the RW staff members. I got the low down on the courses for the 5k, 10k, and half this weekend. I ate a lot, learned a lot, and laughed a lot. This was exactly how race weekend should kick off!
It didn’t take long to demolish the buffet
Hanging out with a blurry Amby Burfoot
Running legend, Bart Yasso
Editor at Large, Mark Remy
Once we had all eaten our fill it was time for our clinic with Altra Zero Drop shoes. These shoes are already in my arsenal as I use the Intuition 1.0 as my every day, casual shoe. But I never turn down a chance to try something new. I tried on the new Intuition and was thrilled that they’re now PINK! However, I was wowed by the Superior. It’s a light weight, neutral trail shoe with a removable rock plate. I chose to go with the Superior instead of the updated Intuition 1.5. Tomorrow the Altra guys promised to let me try out a pair of the Lone Peaks as well. Either way I’m going home with kickass new trail running shoes from Altra!
L to R: Provisioness (stability), Intuition (neutral), Intuition, Superior (trail), Intuition
After everyone was fitted we headed off for a tour of the Runner’s World Headquarters. I got to see where all the magic happens, from photographers to editing to Bart Yasso’s office. I even got to eat some of a giant Brooks chocolate egg!
Bart Yasso’s office door

Picture in Bart’s office (There’s no “I” in team, but there’s an ass in Yasso)

Giant Brooks Egg

Eating the egg

Men’s Health covers from different countries

Apparently Men’s Health Brazil is a little more risque than the US version

Rave Run pics

Runner’s World covers

After the tour ended we gathered in the RW lawn for some s’mores over a small fire. RW’s Laura Beachy tells us that tomorrow’s going to be even more amazing but right now I just can’t imagine how! It’s going to be super hard to go back to real life after this weekend!
Apparently bloggers become possessed when toasting marshmallows late at night

Runner’s World Festival

Today marked day 2 (find day 1 here) of the Runner’s World festival for the bloggers covering this FIRST TIME event. I still am blown away that Runner’s World has never had its own race before! For an inaugural event I have to say they are knocking it out of the park!

Today started with an easy shake out run with Bart Yasso in our new Altra Zero Drop shoes. We did roughly 3.8 miles and covered a little of the 5k, 10k, and half marathon courses that I’ll be running this weekend. I took advantage of the presence of Craig and Golden from Altra to talk shop. I think we ran through all of the ultras on my bucket list plus ones I’d never even heard of! The Altra guys aren’t just shoe geeks, they are full on hardcore running freaks! I think I might be in love! (Shhhh!)

After our rainy-but-fun run
After the run we were treated to some dry clothes from Free Motion apparel. I ended up wearing the jacket all day! It is absolutely incredible with soft material, attractive styling and thumb holes! I would seriously cut thumb holes in all of my clothing if I wasn’t afraid of screwing up my favorite pieces. We also were able to enjoy another delicious (and healthy) breakfast. I haven’t eaten this well since I became a mom! I think I might be a little spoiled by the end of this weekend.
Free Motion gear
Fruit, bagels, coffe, and water… YUM!
Once our body temperature returned to something resembling normal again we were once again hanging with the Altra crew. This time Golden Harper gave us some tips on running form and helped us figure out what we were doing wrong. We had a question and answer session on the Altra shoes and why zero drop (not necessarily minimalist) is helpful to runners who want to perfect their form. It was all really interesting and I can’t wait to work on my posture so Golden won’t have anything to pick on next time I run into him!
Altra form clinic
Working on our form barefoot
Watching the video of my form
After we finished dissecting our form we moved onto a seminar with ICON and their new iFit app. We learned a lot about what they are planning to introduce and the capabilities of their products. I just downloaded my copy of the iFit app so you’ll have to give me a few days to really figure it out. All I can say for sure is that it has the potential to be one of the best apps for fitness freaks ever invented!
iFit seminar
After the iFit Q&A session the blogger group was taken to another building in the ArtQuest complex. Surprise, surprise! Shalane Flanagan was waiting to answer our questions and personally greet each one of us. She was extremely down to earth and honest and even a little shy. Shalane has a habit of twisting her hair as she talks that just reminds you how human the ‘Assassin in compression socks’ actually is. I got some great video of her answers to several questions and I can’t wait to share them as soon as I get them uploaded!
Shalane and I. I look like an amazon next to her!
I got her autograph!
Shalane and the media group
After Shalane had graciously signed autographs for everyone in the media group and answered all of our questions two big names in Runner’s World joined us. Jen Van Allen, co-author of the Big Book of Marathon and Half Marathon Training, and Megan, the Social Media genius behind RW’s Twitter page, answered our questions and talked about Runner’s World’s first race and how they choose stories and articles. It was all really interesting and lots of fun to talk about the stories that struck a chord with us and ask more about them. Then it was time for my favorite part of the day! Lunch!
After lunch at the hotel (turkey wrap, pasta salad, salad, water, and cookies) it was time to go back to the expo to get our shopping on! I can say one thing for the FitFluential crew… We can sure clean out a running expo! I came back with a new stick, two more books, three shirts, a hat, and a running skirt!
I should have brought another bag to get this all home!
I also had the insanely good luck of getting two of my three books autographed. Jen Van Allen, Amby Burfoot, and David Willey all wrote kind words of inspiration inside the covers of their respective works. I haven’t even read the books yet but they’re already my new favorites!

Before we left the expo for dinner, I had the opportunity to get my picture taken for the cover of Runner’s World. Well, not for real but I can pretend. Actually once you see the photo you’ll see that I suck at pretending. My fake run looks more like I’m about to knock someone out. Maybe I should take up boxing?
Why is this arrown pointing at everyone’s crotch?!
After my brush with fame we headed out to the Bethlehem Brew Works for dinner and socializing. I had fish tacos and a pumpkin ale. Both were amazing but the food didn’t survive long enough to get it’s picture taken. Twenty-six hungry runners don’t take long to demolish good grub! It was delicious and I would highly recommend it if you’re ever on this side of PA.
Carb Loading
Now I must try to sleep because tomorrow begins the true craziness! 5k and 10k in the morning and then a half marathon on Sunday! Bring on the Hat Trick!