Springettsbury 10k – Year 2

The week leading up to the Springettsbury 10k certainly proved interesting.  On Sunday I wore shorts while I ran 9.5 miles in very spring-like weather.

On Tuesday I went to the high school before track practice to run.  I was going to run 3-4 miles, but during the first mile some random desire to run a speed workout came over me.  I can only assume it was due to a combo of gorgeous weather yet again, and the fact that I would be making the track kids run a hard workout as well.  After a mile warmup I ran four 400s on the track.  I didn’t time my recovery in between each, but I ran 1:30, 1:34, 1:33, 1:33 splits then ran a mile cool down.  I was quite pleased with my consistency in the 400s given I never do speed work.  My legs felt like I could run forever, but the heavy, gasping breathing at the end of each loop reminded me of why I should do more of those workouts.

On Wednesday I fell in the living room on our ceramic tile floor.  I can only figure that my pants caught under my moccasin and I slipped on them.  My right buttock took the brunt of the fall but my right ankle also turned.  My first thought was “Oh no I race on Saturday!” followed by “This really hurts”.  I stayed down for about a minute before getting to my feet.  I had to ice my butt twice just to be able to sit remotely normal while working.  It remained very tender the rest of the week, so I chose to complete yoga and upper body workouts instead of trying for another run before the race.

Saturday morning’s weather was a stark contrast from the beginning of the week.  Sustained winds of 10-15 mph with gusts up to 30 mph with feel like temps of teens were not my ideal racing conditions.  I immediately ruled out my reach goal of a sub 50 and went with my regular goal of a 52.  During my warmup the fierce head wind caused me to put on a second pair of gloves, something I never did in a race.  I also added my light windbreaker jacket to my Under Armour cold gear long sleeved top and half zip.

Although I knew the course from the previous year, my running group had pre-ran the course two weeks earlier.  This really helped prepare me mentally for the first two miles of hills.  My splits were 8:17 and 8:34 respectively.  The wind was a crosswind for most of it, and by the third mile I had already removed my extra pair of gloves.  The third mile split was a 7:59 thanks in part to a long downhill.

I felt twinges in my right buttock at times, but it was never actual pain.  I was proud of my ability to free fall down the short, steep downhill leading into a turn to the dirt road.  I took water at the water stop feeling like it would help later in the race.  A girl I had began watching through the third mile and dubbed “Purple girl” pulled farther ahead of me because of this, but I didn’t want to try to close the gap on her too early in the race.  I hit 8 mins flat for the fourth mile split which surprised me given I was running into a head wind at times.

I felt really wore out during the fifth mile.  My quads ached in a way that they don’t normally during a race, and I could only figure it was due to battling the wind.  Mentally I was just over running at that point and wanted to be finished.  I was glad to have ran in the wind a few weeks ago that inspired my tips post as that did help me mentally in some regards as well as physically by putting petroleum jelly on my face that morning.  Despite my less than stellar mindset and somewhat tired quads I only slowed to a 8:08 at the five mile mark.

At this point the course transitioned into a development and the winds were mostly blocked by houses offering a much needed reprieve.  I’m not sure if I was that happy to be out of a headwind or if I got my own second wind, but I really started to pick up my pace.  I passed a girl who had passed me in the previous mile and started working on reeling in “Purple girl”.  I didn’t think she was in my age group, but I treated her as if she was just in case.  I was gaining ground on her when I turned into an apartment complex and was inconvenienced by a car that prevented me from crossing over sooner.  It was driving nearly my same pace for several feet before I finally got ahead of it.  This messed with me mentally, making me feel as if I had expended extra energy and I worried I wouldn’t catch “Purple girl”.

I reached the parking lot and 6 mile mark in a 7:28, proof of how much I had picked up during the sixth mile.  I rounded the final corner but didn’t want to “go” until I could see the finish line.  As soon as I saw it I went and passed “Purple girl” and another woman, partially afraid they would give chase and make me work even harder.  The entire final stretch felt so long and I kept repeating in my head “This is why you ran the 400s, this is why you ran the 400s”.  I crossed the finish line in a 49:03.

Looking back on the race I still can’t wrap my head around how I could run that fast (7:54/mile avg pace) in those conditions.  It certainly took its toll on me as I required an hour nap later in the day.  I’m really proud of how I ran and ended up being the 8th overall female.  I finished 3rd in my age group and am now tied for second in my age group for the entire series.  I am hoping to secure second place for good at the final race in March.


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Running Q & A

In an effort to get to know more about fellow runners who follow my blog as well as divulge more about myself as a runner I’m posing the following questions with my answers.  Feel free to copy any/all the questions into the comments section and post your answers as well!

Do you remember your first race?

I consider 2 races to be my “first”.  The actual first one would be the 400m dash I ran in 4th grade as part of an elementary school track meet.  I remember my parents driving past the high school track in advance of the meet and thinking that one lap didn’t look very far.  I ran the race and promptly cried after because I felt as though I couldn’t breathe.  I can’t remember if I placed or not.

The other race I consider my “first” race would be my very first 5k.  It was the River Run in Wrightsville in May 2003.  I was in average shape coming off track season, but being a sprinter/hurdler I had no distance base and running the race would be my test if I could handle running cross country.  It was a light rain and I ended up way overdressed and overheated within the first mile.  The highlight was passing my dad up the final (and only) hill and beating him.  I have never beaten him in a race since that day.

What do you consider to be the hardest distance to train for and/or race?

I think the half marathon is the hardest distance to train for because it requires so many weeks to get a solid base and you have to keep up the consistency of running.  You also have to keep increasing the long run mileage.  Not to mention I feel like I want to eat nonstop while training for a half marathon and I get bored of eating.  Granted I have yet to train for a marathon, but I would imagine that’s even harder.

I think the hardest distance to race is the 5 miler.  It’s probably my favorite distance to race, but I always have to remind myself I can’t go out as hard as in a 5k.  It’s always a challenge to figure out how hard to push as I don’t want to push too early and burn out, but I also don’t want to wait too late and have too much left at the finish.  I think it’s also challenging because it’s not a common race distance so I don’t get to practice racing it as often.

What is your ideal race course?

Back country roads with rolling hills.  I prefer this for aesthetic purposes as well as it closely matches with my typical training routes.  Rolling hills allow for a change up in my leg muscles that keep my hips from tightening (super flat courses make me ache) and while I can handle tough hills, I prefer rolling ones because I can recover faster.  I run a lot of my long runs alone and these type of races usually don’t draw the huge crowds that city runs do.  This means there are sections of the race I can run by myself and I prefer that.  I have only ran 3 half marathons to date but I would say the Blue-Gray half marathon in Gettysburg is my “perfect” course so far.

What is one stereotypical runner behavior you perform?

After years of training without a watch I now find I can’t run without my Garmin.  If I finish a run and it’s almost to the next quarter mile (Ex I ran 5.90 miles) I have to jog around until the watch hits exactly on the quarter mile.

What is one weird/unusual thing you do as a runner that most other runners don’t?

I complete the majority of my runs wearing boys’ mesh basketball shorts.  For years they were the only type of shorts I wore to run.  I’ve always found them comfier particularly in hot and humid weather when I want to go commando.  I do now have UnderArmour running shorts that I wear for my longest runs while training for half marathons and use for racing, but I still run in my other shorts most of the time.



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Tips for Running in Winter Winds

Coaching off season track practices twice a week and some rather nasty cold weather recently has caused my usual three runs a week to become two runs a week.  I’m hoping to soon increase this back to three, but another major cold spell due to arrive later this week may prevent that.  That said I have been tackling some hilly courses on my runs and managed 6.5 miles last Friday afternoon.  The temperatures were in the low 30s but with sustained winds of 15-20 mph and gusts up to 30 mph.  In the past I would’ve been deterred enough by the wind to stay indoors, but I knew I needed to get a quality run in that day.  I managed a semi-decent, albeit slow run, thanks in part to the following:

1. Chapstick.  I finally picked up a tube the other week and have actually been remembering to wear it.  It prevents the cracked, sore lips that make my mouth feel dry on runs.

2.  Petroleum jelly.  My skin is very fair and I flush easily.  This means when I suffer wind burn my face stays red for quite a long time.  It dawned on me Friday afternoon to apply some petroleum jelly to my nose, cheeks and forehead before running.  My skin felt better moisturized even after the run, and my usual redness did not persist into the evening.

3.  Windbreaker pants.  I’m not sure if the type of Adidas windbreaker pants I wear even exist anymore.  I own several pairs that were purchased while I was in high school and have been blessed to be able to still fit in them.  While I don’t enjoy wearing two layers of pants to run, by layering them over my leggings I’m assured to stay warm and winter winds do not penetrate to chill my legs.

4.  Staying in town.  I began my run with a quarter mile through the cemetery by my house which was a very rough start.  A strong crosswind made me second guess wanting to run that day.  Fortunately when I returned to the alley and had buildings to block some of the wind the run became a lot more tolerable.

5.  Utilizing the woods.  Much like the buildings in town, the woods on either side of a rural road I ran ensured the winds were kept at bay.  I did encounter a nasty head wind upon turning on another road with an open field to one side, but pushed through and was soon back in town.

I recommend anyone who is wanting to brave the winter winds to keep running, try the above tips.  By preparing in advance physically with appropriate clothing and skin care, and mentally with a well planned route, a windy run can be a challenging but manageable experience.

Do you let windy days keep you from running outside?  What other tips do you have for surviving winter’s winds?

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5 Mortgage Payoff Tips

The end of November Jason and I accomplished a big financial goal of paying off our mortgage.  This was the last debt we owed after I paid off my 2005 Chevy Cobalt in 2013 and my last student loan in March 2015.  Becoming debt free has always been a high priority for us.

We bought the house the end of July 2015 for 87k with a mortgage of $56,500.  I include these figures because I realize that 1 – the majority of people’s houses cost well over 87k and 2 – not everyone has a large of a down payment like we did.  I also want to mention that our house was not a “fixer upper” as I know those tend to be a lot cheaper.  Neither of us are handy enough or enjoy home projects enough to undertake that challenge.

Instead it is a smaller house of 1008 square feet on a 4900 square foot lot.  It is a 2 bedroom, 1 bath with a small kitchen, laundry room, hall with closet, large living/dining room and large attic.  It also came with a small shed and a fenced in yard.  For the two of us it is more than enough room and while I’ve always preferred eat in kitchens, I’ve learned to improvise when more space is needed.  I would encourage anyone looking to buy a home to consider buying smaller.  It will cost less initially and save money in utility bills.  It also requires less cleaning and limits the number of random items purchased to decorate.

With many people resolving to spend less and save more in the new year I’m going to offer a few tips we utilized to pay our house off in less than 3.5 years and achieve financial freedom.

1 – Pay more than your mortgage payment requires as often as possible.  Nearly every month since buying the house we made an additional payment.  In March 2018 we made it a goal to pay an extra $1400 a month minimum.  Some months we came up a little short, but other months we were able to pay even more.  This decreased the amount of interest owed and assured more money was going to the principal.  Even a payment as small as $50 a month can make a difference and ensure a mortgage doesn’t require 30 years to pay off.

2 – Put any “extra” money towards the house.  This can include bonuses, money from side jobs, tax refunds, etc.  I coach track and line judge volleyball games and the money earned from those went towards paying down the mortgage.  Jason picked up extra “on call” shifts whenever he could to increase his paychecks and pay more on the house as well.

3 – Limit eating out.  I feel like this tip is offered all the time on money saving articles, but it really is a huge way to save money.  There were some months where Jason and I only ate out once at a restaurant.  Sometimes we would treat ourselves by just going out for a shared appetizer and drink or picking up a pizza.  We also chose to eat out for breakfast instead of dinner if we wanted to eat out since it was a cheaper meal.  The best plan to stop eating out calls for cooking at home and meal planning which is a subject for another blog.

4 – Cut the cable cord.  Last spring our Comcast package lost a few of our favorite channels.  We took this as an opportunity to explore other options.  Jason found Philo and for $16 a month we receive 43 channels, some of which we didn’t even receive with our Comcast package such as HGTV.  I will advise a streaming device is needed for the service.  We already had a Roku because we had Netflix.  We also bought a cheap indoor antenna to receive local channels.  We had to retain Comcast’s internet services as my work’s VPN network cannot run on satellite internet, but we reduced our Comcast bill from around $120 to $75 a month by cutting out TV.

5 – Break the consumerism mentality.  I’ve come to realize this is a big challenge for most people as consumerism is ingrained in the brain.  It requires a change in mindset and philosophy towards buying “stuff”.  I recommend reading about simplicity and minimalism.  While it’s not needed to go to the extreme of these concepts, the overall principals are very applicable.  Once the desire to buy unneeded items (clothes, electronics, etc) is overcome, the extra money saved can be put towards paying off the mortgage.

What are your favorite money saving tips?  Does being in debt bother you and if so, do you pay extra to get out of debt faster?


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Indian Rock 10k – Year 2

Similar to the John Rudy 5 miler, this was actually my first year of running the Indian Rock 10k.  Last year I deemed the weather too dangerous due to snow and ice and also hadn’t felt the greatest.  Also like the 5 miler the race was ran on the York Rail Trail though a different portion.

It was also my first race running as a member of the Flying Feet racing team.  I asked Les, an older guy who I’ve known for years and who I couldn’t beat most of the summer, at the start of the series how someone gets on the racing team.  He jokingly told me if I beat him that he would talk to the owner of Flying Feet for me.  After beating him three races in a row, he kept his promise and I picked up racing shirts and singlets this past week.

Yesterday morning was very cold with feel like temps barely above 20*.  The saving grace was that there was no wind.  I wore several layers for my warm up run with my dad, but thanks to the awesomeness of Under Armour’s cold gear, I was able to take off my windbreaker pants to run in just my leggings.  I like to think that I’ve finally gotten the hang of figuring out how to dress for cold weather races.

Dad and I hung out with the majority of the runners in the elementary school until 5 minutes before race time.  I figured keeping warm for as long as possible would help my hands and face, the two body parts that felt bitterly cold after the warm up.  At 9am we took off from the parking lot down a slight grade and across the road to the rail trail.

I went out faster than I did in the last race.  Even doing that my dad only stayed with me for about a quarter mile before he took off from me.  I ended up running beside a woman who I ran near in the last race.  I need to find out her name because we’ve talked in the past and enjoy pacing next to each other particularly because we’re in different age groups.  The first mile was a 7:40, twenty seconds faster than last race.

The race was ran on a portion of the rail trail that I have ran often.  Oddly enough despite running faster and having plenty of people around me, it seemed to take a long time to get to the second mile.  Dad and I have often discussed how the rail trail is mentally deceptive in that way; you feel as if you’ve ran for a long distance but really haven’t.

My high school assistant cross country coach cheered me on as I passed by him as his wife was running the race.  I skipped the water station and hit the second mile in 8:06.  I kept an eye out for any ice during the third mile as the race director warned us there might be a few spots.  Fortunately the one mud-turned-ice spot we were able to go around.  The lead runners began passing us on their return and I was able to distract myself mentally by watching them.  Likewise once I reached the turn around point I watched those still heading out the trail.  It never ceases to amaze me how many people of all shapes and sizes and fitness levels come out to run the winter series.

I utilized the water station on the way back, but only took a bit once I realized there were some tiny pieces of ice in it.  I was decently warm by this point, but didn’t want to chill myself.

After placing third in the last race part of me kept focusing on every female in front of me, wondering if the woman who beat me by four seconds was ahead of me.  I knew I was running fairly comfortable and needed to work.  I began trying to catch as many females as possible without increasing my pace too much.  With 1.5 miles to go I was feeling very good and decided to pick up my pace.  I was hoping my pacing partner would choose to go with me, but I realized there was still a lot of race to be ran and normally I wouldn’t have even started a pick up that early if I hadn’t felt so good.  Unfortunately she didn’t, but I had plenty of people to work on catching.  I didn’t count how many people I passed, but it seemed to be more than I usually do that late in a race.

With less than a quarter mile to go I turned off the trail and started striding harder to cross the road.  I pushed up the only “hill” into the school parking lot and across the finish line.  I finished in 48:48 and placed third in my age group.  A different woman had placed second; I had beaten the one who beat me in the last race, so I’m currently still ranked second in my age group overall for the series.  I have to miss the next race due to taking my track kids to an invitational, but I should have enough points accrued to not lose my position.  After that it’ll be two races remaining!


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2018 – Finding New in the Old

The weekend before Christmas through New Year’s Day seemed to pass so quickly.  Making new recipes, spending time with family, Jason and I each battling the stomach virus and racing the John Rudy 5 Miler meant I didn’t really take time to reflect on 2018 and post about it until now.  In looking at the year as a whole I realized there was an underlying theme throughout most of it – I found a lot of new in the old.

In 2018 I found a new appreciation for non-fiction books.  This took my old love of reading into a new world.  It began when I read Damian Echols’ biography, Life After Death.  Suddenly people’s individual stories became as interesting to me as the historical fiction and fantasy based books I had always loved.  I was not good about keeping track of all the books I read, but George Carlin’s “Last Words” stood out as did Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential“.

Jason and I traveled to Ocean City, Maryland again in 2018 as I’ve done every year since I was born except 2013 due to taking our first cruise.  Rainy weather caused us to discover a new nearby town to explore, Berlin.  We chose to take my parents to Lake Tobias Wildlife Park for my dad’s birthday, a place that we’ve known about for years but had never visited.  We took a long time interest of ours, tiny houses, and created a new adventure by actually staying in one.  We not only loved the tiny house, but the town of Lititz that we visited while staying in it.  We are still finding new stores to explore when we venture there.

I found a lot of new in the old related to running this past year.  An old Reebok jacket that I’ve had since college, possibly even high school, obtained a new purpose.  It was always just a casual lightweight jacket to wear in the spring.  It has now become my go to running jacket for windy or rainy conditions.  I’ve come a long way in learning how to dress for the conditions compared to last year when I first signed up for the York Winter Series.  I still wear plenty of old clothing including running tights I wore in high school, but I have since added Under Armour cold gear items including new tights and a long sleeved top my mom bought me for Christmas.

I ran more races in the past year than I’ve ran since I was in college.  Some of those races were old in terms of I ran the courses in the past, but because it had been so many years and because I am a different athlete now, they felt new again.  This included the EBACC and Quarterback Club 5ks.  The White Rose 5 Miler was an old race with a new course.  Those 3 old races combined to form a new series, the 717 Series.  I trained on a lot of my usual routes, but for a new half marathon – Hands on House.

If I were to summarize running in 2018 with one word it would be strong.  I was fortunate to run injury free all year and the majority of my runs were good ones.  Every race I finished faster than my goal time and continually surprised myself.  My self confidence grew as did my mind-body connection.  I learned to appreciate active recovery days and the benefits of regular foam rolling.

For 2019 I’m working to finish in the top 3 of my age group in the winter series.  I’m trying to incorporate at least one lower body strength workout into my week.  My running group has been talking about running a half marathon the first weekend in May.  I have been focused on staying consistent in my training and including a run longer than 6 miles now and again to be ready to train for that half.  I have a goal of breaking my high school 5k personal record.  I want to run the Hershey half marathon in the fall.  Running goals aside, I would like to keep to my goal of writing at least one blog a week.  I have been able to manage this for a month now, so I’m hoping the habit sticks even through the chaos of track season.  Jason and I plan to visit Ocean City and Berlin again and also New Orleans, a new trip for us.  I look forward to continuing old enjoyments while having new experiences.

Was anything old made new for you in 2018?  What are your running goals for 2019?  Do you have any travel plans set yet for the new year?  Do you have any good book recommendations?




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John Rudy 5 Miler – Year 2

Yesterday was the John Rudy 5 miler, a winter series race that was cancelled in 2017 due to the weather.  Given it is still my second year running the series though I’m going to continue titling the races as such.

I did not know if I would be healthy enough to run the race.  A stomach virus attacked Jason the afternoon of Christmas Eve.  I made a quick trip to the store for Pepto, Gatorade, saltless pretzels and chicken noodle soup.  He recovered well enough to attend Christmas Day dinner at my parents’ house.  A little after 10pm on Christmas I found myself in the bathroom.  And after 11pm.  And after midnight.  This continued until roughly 4am despite the fact that I had only been producing stomach bile for the last few hours.  It never ceases to amaze me how our bodies seem to hate us when we’re forced to vomit.

I had emailed my manager after midnight to advise that I would not be able to cover the reception desk in the office as previously scheduled, but that I would still work from home as I did not wish to lose my holiday pay.  I pushed myself through 7 hours of work on 2.5 hours of sleep before falling onto the couch for a nap.  Thursday my stomach was still sensitive but I managed to eat more and overall was feeling better.  On Friday I felt that a head cold was starting as I could only breathe out of one side of my nose.  I had some back and forth texting with Todd over whether or not I would run and of course he understood my predicament but as my friend and the race director, he was strongly enjoying me to try.

I woke around 6:30am on Saturday feeling well rested and breathing decently though there was still some nasal congestion.  I was grateful that the cold hadn’t fully settled in my head or sinuses.  The sun was shining and it felt quite warm except for when the wind blew.  I was committed to racing, but set no goal time as I planned to run based on how I felt.

I arrived fairly early to the park and helped my dad with directing the cars where to park.  I contemplated removing my leggings as it was feeling even warmer, but some chilly winds began blowing and I decided to remain dressed as I was and added my gloves.  Dad and I ran a short warmup and joined a growing group by the northern extension of the York Heritage Rail Trail.  I told dad to not stay back with me as he had the past two races, but to go ahead as I was going to start out easy and see how I felt.  I had blown my nose several times that morning and was hoping I would be able to breathe without much difficulty.

At 9am the race started and we headed south on the trail.  Despite the trail not being very wide there was no jostling as we all settled in fairly quickly.  I pushed a bit on the first grade and opened up on the opposing downhill.  I settled in near a woman who been talking to dad before the race and who I knew was not in my age group.  The first mile was finished in 8 minutes which I found decent since I was still finding my comfort level.

Todd had forewarned of some potential mud on the course due to heavy rains the previous day, but the wind and sun had dried up most of it.  There was one spot that we went off the trail to avoid a mess and had to run through a bit of mud, but it was nothing compared to what I had dealt with over the summer in my half marathon training.  I finished my second mile in 8:10 which was fine as well.

A little past the two mile marker I began watching the lead runners return.  This part of the trail was also one of my favorite parts as it ran alongside a creek and had some woods and was very scenic.  I cheered on dad as he passed, encouraged him to close in on the group ahead of him and called out the time on my Garmin.  I reached the turn around cone and our running friend Scott who I gave a thumbs up.  I cheered on a few other runners before hitting the third mile in 8:07.

I was feeling fairly good despite not running for five days or exercising for four.  My legs felt strong though my nasal congestion was making breathing a tad challenging.  I pushed up the bridge as it was one of the few “hills” in the course and saw Les, an older local runner, not far in front of me.  I spent many races over the summer trying to catch him and managed to beat him at the Spring Valley and Wildcat races.  I was going to wait until the last mile to try pass him, but found myself running a bit faster and closing the gap.  He was encouraging as I came upon him and told me to go after the few girls ahead of us.  We crossed the fourth mile together as I clocked a 7:58.

I caught the woman who I had paced off of earlier in the race and told her great job.  I worked the final long grade and passed two or three runners.  With about a half mile to go I started to feel a tad ill and overheated and partially regretted not taking water at the aid station.  I pushed on knowing there wasn’t much left to run and crossed back into John Rudy park.  The final stretch mirrored that of my high school country cross country course; it’s deceiving in making runners think the finish line is closer than it is.  I was cautious to not being pushing too soon, but when I heard dad cheering my name I did begin to stride harder.  I felt rather winded crossing the finish line, but was very impressed to have broken 40 and ran a 39:47.

I finished third in my age group, four seconds behind the second place girl who I have beaten every race thus far, but given my health I wasn’t too disappointed since I originally thought I’d run well over 40 minutes.  I’m grateful to have felt well enough to run and to run as great as I did.  The race was reinforcement that while missing workouts tends to make us feel out of shape, we retain our overall fitness a lot more than we think we do.  That being said I am looking forward to getting back to running regularly and completing some longer runs again.  Here’s to finishing our the series strong in 2019!

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