Life Randoms

Whenever I feel like I’ve gotten behind on blogging and don’t feel like playing catch up writing individual entries on each topic, I find it just easier to do a quick sum up of each item.  Here we go…

Chicago TripCancelled.  The Saturday morning we were due to leave I was changing clothes and received a text notifying us that our flight was cancelled due to something traffic control related (I forget the wording) and we were booked on flight later that evening.  To say I was crushed was an understatement; I think I was so stunned that I couldn’t even cry.  I hadn’t seen my high school best friend, Alecia, and her husband, Ryan, since we went on our New England/Canada cruise with them last year.  I called United Airlines to find out if we could get a full refund if we cancelled or a partial refund if we took the later flight.  I was told we could get a full refund to cancel, but I would have to inquire at the customer service desk at the airport about a partial refund.  I nicely explained that I wasn’t going to drive an hour to the airport just to ask.  I really still wanted to go, but if we took the later flight we wouldn’t arrive until almost 6:30pm, essentially giving us an evening, a day and a morning to spend in Chicago.  Jason and I talked it over and agreed that it wasn’t worth the over $700 we spent on airline tickets.  We chose to cancel.  Alecia and Ryan were disappointed as well but understood, and we had a fun speaker phone chat among the four of us.  We’re hoping to reschedule for the spring and possibly do a longer weekend out there.  Here’s hoping airfare drops by then as I looked up a long weekend in December and it would cost over $800.

Personal TrainingUnder consideration.  I keep toying with the idea of getting certified as a personal trainer, possibly as a group fitness instructor.  Overall my job isn’t bad (I have awesome benefits), but I think it would be fun to have as a side job especially if it means I could go part time at my current job.  I just feel that sitting eight hours a day wreaks havoc on my body, and I have to do so much additional strength work and foam rolling to keep my body in its best running shape.  Jason has come across two different youth strength and conditioning positions that would be of high interest to me and pay decently.  I’m going to explore the options more this winter.  Jason and I are also looking into getting non-member passes to the York Jewish Community Center to take some classes so I could get a feel of what it’d be like to work in that type of environment.  I wouldn’t act on anything until after spring track season would end if I do decide to act upon this interest.

TrackNot too far away.  I went to a cross country meet last week and talked with our head track coach (his son was competing) and apparently he wants to start off season practices twice a week in November.  Last year we started in December.  I’m not a huge fan of the idea mostly because I burned out by the end of last season, and I don’t know that starting earlier will help with that.  That said, myself and the one other coach did mention we’d like to only be at practice twice a week this winter instead of three times if we can manage it.  I am excited to work with my kids again, I’m just being a tad selfish with my time in not wanting to start in November.

VolleyballAlmost finished.  I line judge my last volleyball game this coming Thursday.  The girls have had a great season so far, and if they advance in districts I may try to go see them play.  Last Thursday saw some very intense matches, and I was reminded of why I only line judge and don’t referee.  My skin just isn’t thick enough to have fans/parents/coaches yelling about my calls.  Once in awhile I have someone yell about a call I make (I just say if the ball is in or out when it hits near the line), but it’s never that often or that drastic.

Glow in the GroveSuccessful but short.  Jason actually decided Friday afternoon he wanted to run it with me so I quickly got his running gear together and filled out a registration form and check.  I picked him up after work and we arrived with time to spare.  I was out for “revenge” as last year I felt robbed by the first place overall female not being pulled from my age group thus depriving me of an award.  Originally I wanted to go for a lifetime 5k best, but recovering from the Hands on House half marathon took longer than expected, so I nixed that goal.  We were told the course was slightly changed.  Due to recent rains/flooding part of the rail trail couldn’t be used, so we would be turning around sooner than the previous year and would run a little part of a road out and back instead.  I assumed that meant it was still a full 5k.  Jason and I ran well the entire race and were trying to determine at the turn around if I was the first female – a downfall to running in the dark, it was hard to see faces.  It was fun having him alongside and sometimes ahead of me as there would’ve been portions I would’ve ran alone had he not been there.  With around a quarter mile to go (so I thought) I pulled away from him.  I was approaching the finish and saw a low 22 showing and thought “Am I breaking my high school 5k time?”  I heard someone call out “First female” and I clicked stop on my Garmin as I crossed the line.  The course was 2.83 miles and I ran it in 22:21.  Jason wasn’t far behind me.  We were both bummed it wasn’t a full 5k.  I did receive a nice medal and snack bag at least for winning my age group.  Again I wish they would pull the top overall male and female out (I did make that suggestion last year) as I likely preventing another person from placing, but I’m not the race director.  Not as many people ran this year as last year, so I’m hoping they do continue to have it.  It’s a fun event and they give out great shirts.

How has everyone else’s lives been going?  Have you ever had a trip cancelled?  Have you contemplated career changes recently?

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Running Reflections

Tomorrow will be one week since I ran the Hands on House Half Marathon.  I think I can finally say I’ve fully mentally decompressed since the race.  That was somewhat of an odd process for me to go through as typically I run a race and have fully processed it either that day or the next.  Here is a breakdown of the various thoughts I had:

Post Race Thoughts

I was so glad to be finished the half marathon when I crossed the line.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so physically and mentally ready to be done a race; I was ready for it to be over before mile 11 even began.  Besides just feeling completely spent, I was emotionally down.  I didn’t anticipate the last 3.1 miles to feel the way they did or to be ran as slowly as they were.

I have always been known for a strong kick to the finish.  In high school I knew that in a cross country meet I would outkick anyone in a final sprint.  I attributed it to my sprinters’ training in track (I was a hurdler) and that it was in my heart and soul to finish that way.  During my cross country seasons I don’t recall any race that I was ever beat within the last 100m.  I carried that mentality with me throughout my road races.  While I may not have always been able to fully sprint to the finish, I’ve always been able to at least pick up the pace and/or lengthen my stride to finish harder.  Not being able to finish that way last Saturday was a blow to my self esteem.  It made me question my training, my race strategy and myself as a runner in general.

My saving grace was placing in my age group.  It was totally unexpected and definitely made all the suffering worth it.  Even though I had ran a half marathon personal best, improving by 6 minutes from the Blue-Gray Half Marathon, I didn’t feel like I accomplished anything until my name was called to receive my award.  When I viewed the overall results later that day and saw how well I placed overall and among all the females that furthered my sense of accomplishment.

Thoughts Through the Week

Despite feeling that I accomplished something I was still not satisfied with my race performance.  I reviewed my mile splits several times, not something I tend to do.  I was trying to wrap my head around my slowing down.  I think the concept of negative splits was too engrained in my mind and that fueled my disappointment.  I hadn’t physically felt like I went out too hard, I was comfortable with my pace.

That massive downhill was a real unexpected blow to me.  I’m not sure if I should have ran it differently, I certainly wasn’t flying down the hill, but it tore my legs up so much.  I would’ve taken another decent uphill in that race than to have ran that downhill.  It freaked me out mentally.  I feel like I should watch some videos of downhill running and learn how to best prepare in case I ever face that type of downhill again.

I had a massage Tuesday after work and expected to really feel the effects in my legs from the half.  Surprisingly my hamstrings and calves were not as bad as I expected and even my therapist was impressed.  Oddly enough she had to spend more time working on a knot in my upper left trapezius area, a spot that I did feel from time to time during the half despite shaking out my arms regularly.  Darn desk job I suppose.  The massage gave me a lot of time to truly relax and think about the race, and I think it helped begin the “coming to terms” portion of the process.

Wed. I went for an easy 3 mile run.  My legs were a tad heavy but felt ok overall.  It felt good just to be moving.  It was also nice to just run without a real focus on time or distance.

Final Thoughts

I began to think of my race in terms of how I would’ve talked to one of my athletes about it had he or she ran it.  I have finally come to appreciate just how big of an improvement 6 minutes was.  I am so much stronger this year than this time last year.  Although I’ve been told it and know it to be true, I realize that using my energy throughout the race in the way that I did was much better than being able to kick it hard to the finish line.  All my long runs throughout training were decent and I never really had any bad days, so it’s ok that I had a “bad” few miles during the race.  Everyone has their bad times and at least mine didn’t inhibit me from running a great time or earning an award.

In analyzing what might’ve caused me to not finish as strong as I would’ve liked, I think there would be two driving factors:

1 – I raced hard in a short span of time leading up to the half.  The Quarterback Club 5k and White Rose 5 Miler were great events.  I’m glad I ran them because they were a good self esteem boost and proved to me how much strength and speed I had gained.  However, running both the same month as the half just wasn’t great planning.  I don’t think I’ll be racing three times in one month again, or if I do I won’t be racing as hard as I did.

2 – In running the White Rose 5 miler I sacrificed running one last long run two weeks before the half.  Although I did run 10 miles the day after the race, it just wasn’t the same.  15 miles in two days does not equate to the endurance challenge of running 13-14 miles.  I was physically beat up after doing it, probably more so than if I had just ran a long run, and I don’t think I mentally benefitted from it.  I had questioned several times if I should sign up for the five miler and that should’ve been a red flag that it wasn’t the best idea.  I partially blame the enticement of earning a free shirt for running all 3 of the 717 Series races.  I can’t say for sure whether running my last long run three weeks before the half instead of two is what harmed me the most, but future training plans will stick to running the last long run two weeks in advance of a half marathon.

As I was in the last mile of the race I had negative thoughts of “Why am I doing this?” and “I’m not doing this again”.  Even before I knew I had placed in my age group that mentality had gone away.  I know why I did it, why I do it and why I’ll continue to do it.  Running is part of my identity.  If I’m asked “Tell me about yourself” one of the first things I say is that I’m a runner.  While that doesn’t likely mean much to someone who isn’t a runner, I know the running community understands what that means.

Every race is an adventure, a challenge and a learning experience.  I’m grateful for the lessons taught to me by the Hands on House Half Marathon.  They will serve to improve me both as a person and an athlete.  Here’s to humbling races and great performances, even if they take a few days to fully appreciate!

 

 

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Hands on House Half Marathon

This past Saturday I ran the Hands on House Half Marathon in Lancaster.  I had talked my running buddy, Armand, into running it as well because my dad had plans and Todd was running a marathon in New Hampshire the next day.  We arrived plenty early which resulted in a good parking spot.  The event also featured a 5k and 10k event, each with its own packet pick up tent which kept things very organized.  Our goodie bags included very nice long sleeved tech t’s, a pair of socks as well as the usual coupons and ads.  There were plenty of port-a-potties and hand washing stations available.

My original goal time was a 1:55.  I ran a 1:59 in the Blue-Gray Half Marathon last October and had been running strong all summer and racing well, so I considered that to be a reasonable goal.  Todd felt I could run faster than that, but I figured anything faster would just be a bonus.

All the runners lined up at the same time with the half marathon starting first followed by the 10k and the 5k.  Armand and I started somewhat close to the front since we weren’t exactly sure where the half marathon runners ended and the 10k runners began.  The weather was superb particularly after an especially hot, humid and rainy summer.  Rain was my biggest fear as race day approached; I can handle running in 90 degree temps but am absolutely miserable running in soaked shoes.  Armand joked that I probably didn’t need my sunglasses given the clouds at the start, but I told him that they were part of my outfit.  They would come in handy later in the race as the sun did eventually appear.

The majority of the course was ran on back country roads and past farms; my preferred type of scenery for running.  I knew the course for almost the first four miles thanks to a long run with the group in July.  I started out at a solid pace with my first mile at 8:23.  My second mile would prove to be my fastest at 7:52 which looking back was probably a tad too fast, but I was feeling fine at the time.  The next two miles stayed under 8:30 pace and the fifth mile clocked an 8:49 due to a small hill.

The sixth mile saw my sub 8:30 pace return as we descended down a rather long hill.  The original course had been changed due to a footbridge under water.  This meant rather than cross a covered bridge and continue onward, we would be turning around after the bridge and climbing back up the hill.  It was very hard to not get mentally psyched out watching other runners pushing up the hill as I was almost free falling down it.  I had heard about another hill later in the course and was hoping the first one wouldn’t burn me out too much.

After utilizing the water station before the covered bridge, reaching the turn around point and seeing Armand not too far behind me, I made the decision to pop a Honey Stinger chew in my mouth.  Physically I did not feel that I was sweating enough to need it, but mentally it became a distraction for me as I began the ascent.  I kept playing with it in my mouth and focusing on that rather than thinking about the length of the hill.  The hill was twofold with the first section being very steep.  In my head I began singing “Put one foot in front of the other” from the old children’s Christmas movie “Santa Clause is Coming to Town”.  I’ve done that on training runs and it seems to help.  The second portion of the hill felt much easier as it became more shallow.  Surprisingly the hill didn’t feel as long climbing up it as it had felt running down it.

The next decent hill came within the next mile and although not as long, felt a bit tougher given my legs hadn’t fully recovered from the first one.  Ironically it was on the road with the farm that has the tiny house Jason and I stayed in earlier in Sept.  The hills resulted in times of 9:20 (slowest of my splits) and 9:07 for miles 7 and 8.  I thought the hardest parts were finished and that I could go on cruise control for the remainder of the race.

Unfortunately that proved to be wrong when I began a descent down the steepest, curviest hill I have ever ran in my life.  I kept my arms out to my sides and my fingers spread to keep control of the free fall.  I don’t consider myself to be a strong downhill runner and that hill proved me right.  The top of my left foot kept slamming into the top of my shoe and my hamstrings and calves were screaming at me.  I was grateful to finally reach the bottom of the hill and have a short flat section to run before climbing a small hill again.

Mentally miles 8 to 9 and 9 to 10 are usually my most difficult when training.  Those are the miles I tend to just get bored.  After getting ripped apart by the downhill all I could focus on was getting to mile 10.  In my mind mile 10 would make it all better because then I only had a 5k left to run.  Mile 10 is where I realized I could break 2 hours in the Blue-Gray Half Marathon and I became stronger and more determined.  Mile 10 was going to be where I refreshed and finished strong.

At an 8:41, mile 10 was not my saving grace.  Nor was mile 11 at an 8:44.  Even with Armand catching me and running alongside me I was spent.  I had already looked at my overall time on my Garmin and knew even if I slowed to 10 min mile pace I would still hit my 1:55 goal time.  I think knowing that just fueled my mental laziness.  I was grasping at straws trying to find some sort of motivation to push harder and wondering how on Earth people run full marathons.  At one point I saw a small van with passengers in wheelchairs.  I thought to myself “You need to run hard because they can’t enjoy running”.  That motivated me for maybe a quarter mile before I resorted back to the mentality of just finishing the race.  Mile 12 was a 9:14.

The final 1.1 miles was just about finishing.  At one point I thought I would vomit, something I’ve never done during or after a run.  Armand knew I was beat and I encouraged him to go as we approached the final downhill turn into the finish line.  He finished a few seconds ahead of me.  My chip time was 1:53:16.

HandsonHouseHalf

No smiling across the line like I did at the Blue-Gray half marathon, I was just grateful to be finished

I felt nauseous again after finishing, but fortunately did not have to sit due to being lightheaded like I did after the Blue-Gray half marathon.  Armand and I got some fruit and water and walked back to the car.  He wanted to run a cool down and though I usually don’t join (I do “stretch downs”) I attempted to go with him.  My quads could barely move and I shuffled along for a bit until he went to finish on his own and I made my way back to the car.  I was never so happy to change from my running sneakers into my New Balance sandals.

Armand and I headed over to the awards area and realized there was a laptop setup where people could enter their bib numbers and get a little printout of their results.  I entered mine and saw under division it read “3”.  I was slightly confused, not thinking there was any way I could have placed.  Armand’s read “3” as well so we stuck around to find out the results.

All the mental anguish and physical defeat I had felt during the last three miles of the race were vanquished when my name was read off as 3rd place in the 30-34 age group.  I was surprised, happy and felt accomplished.  There was actually an error in calculating the oldest age group, and Armand had won the 70+ category.  We proudly collected our growler awards; I initially thought they had root beer in them since I saw a homemade root beer for sale stand along the course.  They turned out to be empty, but were still neat awards.

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Armand and me showing off our awards

My final results:

Chip Time 01:53:16.5
Gun Time 01:53:24.8
Overall Finish 63 / 270
Gender Finish 19 / 156
Age Group Finish 3 / 24

Average Pace 8:38/mile

I am still mentally processing the race itself and will likely have a follow up post at some point with my thoughts.  I know I ran a really great time, but I’m just not used to finishing a race with no kick or at minimum feeling strong.  In general though the race was extremely well organized from the check in to the aid stations to the awards.  The course was beautiful and challenging.  I’m glad I chose it and would certainly consider it again in the future.

 

 

 

 

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Panic Week

The Hands on House half marathon I’m running is on Sept. 29th.  That makes next week my taper week.  In turn this week became “Panic Week”.

Let’s start off with the fact that I ran 10 miles on Sunday following a very solid race performance on Saturday in the White Rose 5 miler.  Normally I would’ve made the long run two weeks before the half my longest run, but with having the race scheduled it disrupted my original plan.  I ran somewhere between 13 and 14 miles the previous Saturday upon returning home from our tiny house trip.  I’m not one to add on miles before or after a race, so I figured running 10 miles on Sunday would still make for a solid long run weekend.  I contemplated running on the rail trail, but wanting one final challenge of sorts I instead ran to the high school, completed the Wildcat 10k course, and ran home.  I felt fine during the run and took it fairly easy.

Monday I felt a bit sore, so I did a DailyBurn yoga workout consisting of mostly forward folds to help stretch out my hamstrings.  I line judged a volleyball game that night as well which I figured helped my legs to be using them rather than to spend the evening on the couch.

I originally planned to do a short run on Tuesday, but my legs felt like pure crap.  The DOMS hit full force.  I’m convinced that running a hard 5 miles on Saturday followed by a hilly 10 miles on Sunday was much harder on my body than running nearly 14 miles.  I took the day off from all exercise.

Wednesday I spent most of the day in the office.  Many times this summer I have struggled to have good runs after being in the office.  I attribute this to a difference in temperature mostly.  Sitting in air conditioning all day is not my forte, and I find it makes me feel super hot upon leaving the building even if the outside temperature isn’t that hot.   I met Todd and Armand for our group run that evening and from the start did not feel the greatest.  My legs still didn’t feel fully recovered from the weekend, my stomach felt off (most likely from eating 2 pieces of chocolate chip cake in the office – another reason I hate going in there, I end up eating foods I shouldn’t), my uterus was cranky (yay being a female runner) and worst, a spot right at the top of my left hamstring kept twinging.  I could deal with the first few issues and write them off, but the hamstring freaked me out.

I’ve been blessed to run and race injury free for quite some time since figuring out the source of my knee pain the other year.  A twinge of something here or there usually is just a reminder that I need to foam roll a bit more.  Instead of writing off the hamstring as that though, my brain went into overdrive worrying about injuring myself within a week of the half marathon.  I was paranoid to pick up the pace at all during the run, babying my leg the whole time even though the twinging would come and go and never reached the actual point of pain.

We ran 6 miles and they were all super slow times.  The fastest was a 9:15 and the course we ran wasn’t all that challenging.  Todd chalked it up to us having all raced hard over the weekend, and us racing a good bit in general lately and not fully recovering.

Yesterday I was in the office most of the day again.  After running crappy Wed. night I wanted to complete another yoga workout after work.  When I got home though I literally had no energy for it.  All I wanted was a nap, but instead I visited my parents before line judging another volleyball game.  I arrived home at a decent time so I foam rolled a bit before bed.  My legs, particularly my knees, felt a little odd.  I rubbed doTERRA’s Deep Blue all over my legs before bed hoping it would help.  Throughout the night I woke up with my knees feeling achy.  This is not a common occurrence for me, and it wasn’t helping with my concerns over injury before the half marathon.

Today my legs are feeling alright.  I’m speculating that the knee pain likely stemmed from wearing dress shoes to work for two days in a row.  Two days at the office is a rarity for me, and although they weren’t high heels (I look like a newborn calf trying to walk in those), they were still at least an inch high of a chunk heel.  This afternoon I completed both a short standing mobility workout and a 30 minute yoga hip openers workout.  I also did a full foam rolling session after the workouts.

Tomorrow is my last “long” run before the half.  Originally I planned to do 7 miles and have it include at least one good hill.  I have since altered my plan to be 6 miles on the rail trail.  As Todd put it on Wed. “the horse is in the barn” so to speak, and anything I do in the next week isn’t going to improve my performance in the half.  I just need to stay loose and rested.  I’m slightly nervous to run tomorrow as I don’t want the hamstring to flare up again.  I really believe it was a fluke, but I’m not sure what caused it therefore I can’t rule out it being an underlying issue.

I don’t remember having a panic week last year before the Blue-Gray Half Marathon.  I think I was just so psyched to run and confident.  Up until this week I had plenty of confidence particularly with my great race times lately.  Now I’m trying to not psyche myself out in the coming days.  Fingers crossed for a good run tomorrow to help put me mentally back on track!

Do you mentally freak out leading up to a big race?  What do you like to do during your taper week to feel ready to race?

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White Rose 5 Miler

I’ve often wondered why 5 mile races seem so elusive in the road racing realm.  I find them to be a fun distance – more challenging than a 5k but not as demanding as training for a half marathon.  I know there are 10ks as well, but having a nice even distance to race, none of this point something tacked onto the end, makes for easier pacing.

If my memory and Athlinks serve correct, I only ever ran the White Rose 5 Miler in 2006.  Back then it was part of the Wellspan Running Series, was held in November, and had a slightly different course.  Originally I had no plans to race it this year given its date fell two weeks before my half marathon.  Once I found out I could get a free shirt by running the EBACC 5k, Quarterback Club 5k and White Rose 5 Miler though I was game.

As much as I enjoy the 5 mile distance I struggled in knowing the best race strategy to employ.  I knew I couldn’t go out as hard as I did in the Quarterback Club 5k.  My two main running buddies wouldn’t be good pacers; one is a lot faster than me and one is somewhat slower.  I knew I could break 45 minutes and felt breaking 40 minutes might be a stretch goal, so I set a reasonable goal of running around 42 minutes.

I ventured into the city after my doctor’s appointment Friday evening for the packet pickup.  This was my only critique in the post-race survey sent out this week.  While the White Rose Bar & Grill played host venue to the race I don’t think having packet pickup inside the restaurant during its primary dinner hours was the best choice.  I thought it was going to be outside of the restaurant and was confused upon my arrival, seeing no stands setup.  I also was unsure if I was allowed to park in the lot that I did given I rarely venture into the city and most lots read “private parking”.  After navigating through restaurant patrons I found the pickup area.  The restaurant was having pre-race pasta specials as well as a “rum runner” drink special, but I was happy to leave once I got my packet.

Saturday morning I parked in a nearby parking garage after learning there is no charge to use them on weekends.  Upon exiting I saw Todd arriving so I waited for him to get parked and we headed down the block to the White Rose.  We joined up with Armand for a warmup run.  The humidity was less than pleasant, but the overcast skies kept the temperature from drastically rising.

I lined up closer to the front than I normally would, but given the size of the crowd I didn’t want to get trapped early in the race.  A cannon start like the one at the Quarterback 5k sent us off into the city.  I went out at a somewhat comfortable pace, but not too easy.

Years ago I would never truly “race” until the final mile of a race, no matter what the distance.  I’m sure that is common for most novice runners as I saw plenty of it as a jr high cross country coach years ago.  There is a subtle fear of dying out if one tries too hard early in a race.  I think I have matured as a runner to understand that it’s more important to push throughout a whole race rather than be able to kick it to the finish line with a final sprint.  I felt as if I actually raced all 5 miles, passing people when I could and pushing parts of the course when needed.

I know I tend to detail races by each mile, but I’d rather keep this entry a bit shorter and summarized.  My mile splits were as follows: 7:42, 8:01, 7:47, 8:16 and 7:17.  The first mile had a youth drum line playing along the course which was fun.  The second mile had a minor hill and the fourth mile had a decently steep hill.  It helped that it was alongside a park with a lake, water features are always a nice distraction.  I did struggle to recover after it on the downhill as my legs felt fine, but the humidity was making it hard to refocus my breathing.  There was a bagpiper playing after the fourth mile which was a nice distraction.

I don’t think anyone passed me after the second mile, and I continued to pick off people as I went.  There was a woman in a pink tank top who I trailed for a good portion of the race.  I closed the gap a bit going up the hill, but did not pass her until the last half mile.  The straightaway to the finish felt incredibly long and reminded me of the high school cross country course for the county meet; you could see the finish for close to a quarter mile in advance but it never felt as if it got any closer even if you picked up your pace.  After striding out as hard as I could (there was no sprinting across the line) I finished with a time of 39:03.

I was quite pleased with breaking 40 minutes.  Unsure if I placed in my age group I hung out with Todd and Armand at the after party.  Our bibs had tear away tickets good for one beverage and one sandwich.  Normally these parties only have beer as an option, but this one contained a hard cider which was a nice change.  I only drank about half the bottle as I’m not one to drink in the morning, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity given it was free.  I also tried a chicken salad sandwich for the first time and liked it more than I expected.

Finally the awards ceremony began.  The top 5 men and women were each awarded money prizes.  The age groups were in 5 year age ranges which usually increase my odds of placing over the 10 year groupings.  I happily accepted my 3rd place award, a running cap that said “award winner”.  I only have one hat, so I found this to be a useful award instead of the standard trophy or medal.

Overall the race was well organized with a great course and competition and unique perks afterwards.  I look forward to running it again next year.

 

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CCL Chasing Coral Event

As Hurricane Florence begins battering the East Coast in what will certainly prove to be a historical weather event, it seemed somewhat fitting if not ironic that I spent Wednesday evening attending my first Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) outreach event.

Our local chapter partnered with York College (where I graduated from in 2009) to co-sponsor a showing of the documentary Chasing Coral.  I had watched the film in the past on Netflix as well as Chasing Ice.  The visuals of the movie are stunning with an array of colors and up close views of coral reefs most of us can only dream about seeing in person.  The technology tweaks needed for the underwater cameras show how innovate people can be when challenges arise.  The struggles of the filming and diving team members both logistically and personally pull at your emotions.  The transformation of beautiful, living coral to bleached white graveyards is sobering.

The documentary drives home the point that climate change is affecting all areas of the Earth, even those that don’t regularly cross our minds like under the sea.  It stresses the urgency of finding solutions to combat climate change without “the world is ending” paranoia.  It is not a documentary that one could watch and then simply go about his or her day without thinking about what was just viewed.

I joined Citizens Climate Lobby about a year and a half ago after viewing a film at York College and realizing I had to do more than just educate myself about climate change.  I had to try to be part of a solution.  In a similar situation I was approached by a young college student after the documentary thanking us for hosting the event.  She couldn’t believe what was happening the oceans and how much she didn’t know about it.  She said she was going to tell her whole class the next day that they need to watch the film.  The effect Chasing Coral had on her was so profound and in her I saw myself – someone who received a “wake up call” and was changed.  I provided her with information about CCL from our event table and encouraged her to call in on a Wednesday evening for the organization’s introduction call.

There were roughly 50 people in attendance for the event including members of our CCL chapter.  A few asked questions following the documentary, but I know many students were there likely as part of a class requirement.  If just that one girl now feels compelled to help tackle climate change though then I will say that our evening was a success.

Have you seen Chasing Coral?  Is climate change an issue of concern for you?

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Tiny House Trip

As a child I was fascinated by the idea of living in small spaces well before the tiny house movement came to fruition.  Every summer when my family stayed in a motel in Ocean City I thought about how neat it would be to live there permanently.  Growing up I shared a bedroom with my younger sister and used to think about ways that the bathroom could be converted to enable me to have my own room.

Imagine my excitement when Jason and I discovered that there was a tiny house near Lititz that we could stay in through AirBnB.  We had driven through Lititz in the past to visit his dad and stepmom, and I had often heard of how great of a small town it was.  Although the town is only about a 40-45 minute drive from our house, we booked two nights in the tiny house to get a better feel of what it would be like to live in one.

Originally we were going to visit the Landis Valley Museum on Thursday then check into the tiny house.  With a heat advisory looming for the day we changed our minds and decided to head directly to Lititz.  I had done some research in advance and found Lititz Springs Park was conveniently located near most of the restaurants and shops.  We chose not to visit the Visitor’s Center though I’ve read it’s good to do so.

Our first stop along Main Street was for lunch at Bulls Head Public House.  We arrived shortly after it opened which proved to be a good thing as it was beginning to fill up quickly as we departed.  We sat at the bar and admired the vintage decor.  The bartender was very friendly and attentive to all patrons, a tricky task to manage given there is no actual waitstaff and all orders are placed at the bar.  From what I understand this is a common practice in England, but as I’ve never visited I’m  unable to confirm.  I tried a blood orange cider that was very refreshing on a hot day, and Jason enjoyed an English beer.  Sticking to the theme of the restaurant I ordered the fish and chips and he ordered the Shepard’s pie.  We were both impressed by the quality of the food.

After lunch we ventured down Main Street to explore the shops.  We passed other people who we could tell were tourists as well, and I overheard one woman say she was part of a bus trip group from Connecticut.  There were lots of older houses and buildings to admire and many had listed on them the date they were built.  Jason’s favorite shop was Zest! which offered an array of kitchen items.  We left there with a new mustard sauce, a Mexican seasoning and a “whiskey and tobacco” scented candle.  Wandering in and out of the air conditioned shops helped keep us cool on such a hot afternoon.  We also found refreshment in buying frozen drinks at Cafe Chocolate.  As it neared 3pm we decided to leave and go check into the tiny house.

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The tiny house was located on a family’s farmland down a separate gravel driveway from their own driveway.  It certainly provided privacy though we had to be cautious to not pass the driveway off the main road.  Pictures do not do the tiny house justice in terms of its charm and size.  It was wider than I anticipated and Jason, being 6 ft tall, was equally impressed with how much room it had.  There was no TV or WiFi, but I did pack books, a word search and a crossword puzzle book to prevent boredom at night.  We ventured into nearby Rothsville to get pizza for dinner from Caruso’s.  Upon our return Jason built a fire in the firepit and we had a very relaxing evening.

On Friday morning we headed back into Lititz and ate a very delicious breakfast at Tomato Pie Cafe.  We ventured back into Lititz Springs Park to watch the ducks and explore the park.  We then explored a few shops along N Broad St and made sure to pick up goodies from Wilbur Chocolate.  Venturing down Main Street once more we visited some shops we missed the previous day.  A school group was taking a picture in front of Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery, but we chose to not enter.

We had made plans the previous evening to meet Jason’s dad and stepmom at the Green Dragon Farmer’s Market, so we headed back to the tiny house before driving to Ephrata.  It had been years since I visited Green Dragon, so it was fun to explore it again.  I purchased stuffed pretzel logs for lunch, a ham and cheese for me and a steak and cheese for Jason.  It was hard to resist all the homemade baked goods for sale.  Visiting in the afternoon seemed to be a better option as it wasn’t as crowded as we were told it is in the morning. We watched part of an auction as well.

After saying our goodbyes Jason and I drove back into Lititz for dinner.  We were going to try JoBoys Brew Pub or Appalachian Brewing Company, but after having such a wonderful breakfast experience, we went to Tomato Pie Cafe again.  They offered a pick two option similar to Panera which enabled us to try a total of four sandwiches.  Jason also ordered a green smoothie which was very good.  It began to rain as we were leaving, so we went back to the tiny house for the night.

We returned home early Saturday morning after dropping off some goodies at my parents’ house.  Our trip was a fun getaway and a reminder that sometimes you don’t have to wander far from home to find unique places.  It also reinforced our interest in tiny houses and we’re already considering a trip to another one next year.

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