Wow, I just realized it’s been weeks since my last post. And October has been such a busy month for running– shame on me for not keeping you in the loop!! Life has been so crazy the past few weeks, and I haven’t had much time to write!! Here’s a brief update of what I’ve been up to the past few weeks…
- One week after my horrific half marathon in Johnstown, PA, I ran a 5K and got a PR!! Wahoo!! Each October, my friends and I run an out-and-back 5K on a local bike trail. The 5K is always held on the weekend when, in my opinion, the beautiful bright colors of the area’s fall foliage are at their peak. The race was much warmer this year (high 50-s I’d guess) than in the past (high 30-s I’d guess) and the sun was shining– so it was perfect fall running weather. Since this is most likely one of my last 5K’s of the year, I was determined to PR, and I was thrilled when I did. My finish time ended up being 24:57– almost an entire minute faster than my previous PR! I also won first in my age group. Granted, I was the only one in my age group (this is a small race), but I still feel like I have bragging rights. =) The 5K is also held during the small town’s annual buckwheat festival– so we run our 3.1 miles then head over to the all-you-can-eat buckwheat supper!! I can never let that calorie deficit sit for too long.
- The following weekend, I went on a mini-road trip to Gettysburg, PA with my boyfriend, my brother, my bestest running friend Emily, and her husband. My boyfriend and I went to Gettysburg on vacation this summer and we loved it, so when we heard that a half marathon was held there in October, “we” (i.e. “I”) immediately planned to go back. We packed up the camper and left Friday night to make a fun-filled weekend out of the race. If you aren’t familiar with the Gettysburg Blue Gray Half, you MUST check it out. The race, of course, has a Civil War theme where you choose to run for either the North or the South. All of the runners on whichever “team” wins gets a commemorative mug!! The race shirts are also colored blue or gray depending on which side you choose to run for. Also, the age group winners in both the half marathon and 5K (yes, there’s a 5K too) get FRESH BAKED APPLE PIES as an award. What race can beat that?!
On Friday night we lit a campfire and relaxed with a few beverages. On Saturday, we woke up early, had a filling breakfast, and headed out on our bicycles to explore the battlefields. If you ever go to Gettysburg and want to do your own tour of the battlefields– the bicycle is a great way to go. 24 (I believe) miles of paved, rolling-hill, slow-moving-traffic roads to bike on. You get a great workout and a great view of the scenery.
In the afternoon, we headed to packet pickup to get our bibs and race shirts. Me, my brother, and Emily were running the half marathon. My boyfriend and Emily’s husband were running the 5K. Because we chose to run for the North, our half marathon shirts were long-sleeved blue tech shirts. I was super impressed with their quality! There was no race expo per-say, but the local running store was set up to sell at packet pickup, which made it really convenient for people needing last-minute items before the race.
After packet pickup, we carbo-loaded at O’Rourkes Eatery– a delicious Irish pub right in the heart of Gettysburg. My boyfriend and I ate here on our first trip to Gettysburg and were glad to return.
The race started at 9 a.m. on Sunday morning. Since it was a relatively-small race (the half was capped at 1,000 runners and the 5K was capped at 500) and we were staying so close to the start, we didn’t leave the campground until 8 a.m. and still had plenty of time to check our bags and hit the porta-potties before the gun went off.
It was a perfectly sunny, chilly fall day– not too hot and not too cold. Great running weather! The race itself was beautiful. 13.1 miles of pavement winding through the farmlands of rural Gettysburg. To some people, that might not sound very appealing– but for a small-town country girl like me, I was in heaven. The course was never crowded with the exception of maybe the first .25 miles, and it consisted of flat areas with rolling hills here-and-there. Nothing too extreme. The volunteers did a fantastic job and the spectators, though few and far between, we extremely supportive & encouraging.
Because I may or may not have eaten wayyy too much the night before, I uncomfortably carried a “food baby” for the first few miles of the race. I was worried that my food baby might eventually turn into full-blown stomach cramps/side stitches, so I didn’t move too swiftly at the beginning of the race. Luckily, by mile 5 my stomach pain subsided, and I was moving easily-breezily along.
Around mile 8 or 9, my energy levels started zapping and my legs began to feel heavy. Right around there, we ran past Gettysburg High School, which was the one spot in the course populated with whooping, yelling spectators. For me, this crowd support almost seemed strategically placed– it occurred right at a point where I needed the extra motivation!! I popped a few Honey Stingers and pushed forward with a little more energy than before.
At the mile 10 water station, I turned off my headphones and stopped for a drink of water. I wasn’t wearing a GPS and the miles didn’t have timing clocks, so I had no idea what my finish time might be. While I was drinking/walking, I overheard a woman tell her friend that we were currently at an 8:40 pace. What?!? When I overheard that, I knew I would PR if I could just bust out another 5K at my current pace.
So, I pushed through the last three point one miles (which, for me, are always the toughest) at a pace which was probably actually faster than I had been running for the first ten miles. When I saw the finish line (which was at the top of a hill, eww!), I knew I had finally achieved my goal of a sub-2-hour half marathon. My finish time ended up being 1:58:28. A PR by more than two minutes!! I was so excited!
The post race refreshments consisted of all sorts of deliciousness, from ginormous bagels to deli sub sandwiches. Very impressive! After grabbing some snacks and the commemorative mug we won from running on the “winning” side, we took off for lunch at Ruby Tuesday’s then took off for home. Everything about our weekend, from the camping fun to the half marathon, made for such a great weekend. We are definitely planning on going back next year to do this half again!!
Well, there you have it. That’s what I’ve been up to in October!! I have a few races in November then am planning to focus on cross-training until full marathon training starts at the end of December.