Tuesday, November 17, 2015

After the Leaves Have Fallen Half Marathon Review

After the Leaves Have Fallen Half Marathon 
November 8, 2015
Minnewaska State Park Preserve 
Gardiner, NY

  Half Marathon 300

Winning Time:

I found a gem close to home

   I will say it now, this is the most beautiful race I've in in the US. The price tag is a mere $15. Yes that is a 1 and 5.  Try to find a half marathon for this price is nearly impossible.  If you have not run off road you are truly missing out. 

Accompanied by a group of teammates from the Northport Running Club. We drove the 2 hours for an escape to the peaceful trails. As you approach the race site the view opens to the Shawangunk Ridge. That will be your host for 13.1 miles on foot.

photo credit http://mtnscenicbyway.org/ridge.html

The race offers an early start for anyone who feels they may need over 2:45 to complete the course. A good amount of runners took advantage of the opportunity to start early including myself.  There is over 1000 feet of elevation gain and it is a race you want to slow down a bit and enjoy. 

We were briefed about the race and how to make sure we stay on course. Then you are sent off to complete a short loop close to the staging area before starting the climb. It is just impossible to care about the effort it takes to get to the top. As you approach the views peak out from behind the trees. Each one opens up a bit more revealing serenity, peace and beauty.

photo credit Ed Marian 

photo credit Ed Marian

The view at the top is breathtaking. I wanted to climb out on one of these rocks and just sit there for a few hours.

photo credit Ed Marian 

The trip down the mountain is exhilarating. The hardest part is behind you and the trail is not done presenting you with gifts. Each mile has a feel of it's own. The remaining miles take you around a calm pristine lake. A few steep downhills have you feeling like a child as you fly down them around bends filled with rejuvenation. 

It's one of those races you wish never ended. As all good things do however the finish line approaches. There is a spread of goodies including hot soup, wraps and cookies.   

Shawangunk Runners does an amazing job with this race and I can not wait to return. Easily one of the best races I've run.   


Monday, November 16, 2015

Pacebands Product Review

I got my groove back thanks to Pacebands!   

   This year was to be a year of pushing limits and seeing how far I could go. The goal was to run further than ever before. After that I wanted to see how many half marathon races I could complete in 2015. At the onset of training I knew I'd have to stop making the clock the priority. If I was to complete a 53k  I'd have to make it about the miles. If I was to run one or two half marathons every weekend there surely would be times I'd have to slow it down.
   I reset my mind, changed my thinking and completed that 53k. A few months later my feet crossed a 50k finish line and on the day I got my groove back at my 50th half marathon of 2015 Pacebands was on my wrist.  

  I contacted Pacebands for a partnership with the 100 Half Marathons Club.  They gratuitously worked with me to provide the club's members with an exclusive discount and suggested they send me a band to try and review. I was a bit reluctant because I haven't worried  much about my pace since I started training for that ultra over a year ago. I decided to go with the 2:15 half marathon band, a number I haven't seen in some time but hopefully achievable.  From the minute I placed that order the mental gears switched.  

 My opinions on this product are my own. I have not been paid for a review.        

My Paceband arrived and things got real. I wore it for the next couple races to see how it felt and if it was easy to read. It gave me a sense of accountability. Right there on my wrist I couldn't escape those splits. Try to look away and ignore it if you want but even this mentally tough runner couldn't forget that those numbers were there waiting for me match them. 

The silicone band is light weight and felt comfortable on my wrist. If not for those darn numbers I'd forget I was even wearing it.  I placed it just above my watch. It held up perfect even during a rainy half marathon. 

Pacebands offers several colors and has an abundant amount of times for the 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon distance.  I think it'd be great to add a few bands with different goal times to my gear pile. Hilly course...pull out the 2:40 or hot and humid...pull out the 2:30. Maybe I'm just out there to enjoy myself and go for the 3:00 band. 
So how did I do when I tried to hit that 2:15 goal? I have to tell you I tried my best to hit that number exactly so I could provide the perfect review. Each mile I was off just a bit..well like about a minute or so.

  This was the result

See I told you Pacebands helped me get my groove back. It gave me a reason to think about the clock again.  Should I have held back a bit to match the band's numbers? Maybe but you have to know yourself and the course. This was my 90th lifetime half marathon. I trusted myself to stay with the slightly higher pace.   This is a superior product worth the price.  Really can you put a price tag on meeting and surpassing your goal?  

Thank you Gretchen at Pacebands for sending me a band to try. Also thank you to the Pacebands company for supporting the 100 Half Marathons Club and being a part of our journey.   

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Faxon Law Madison Half Marathon Review

Faxon Law Madison Half Marathon 
Hammonasset Beach State Park, CT
October 31, 2015

  Half Marathon 1018


Winning Time: 

An invigorating race

Arriving early as I always do parking was a breeze just a few steps to the staging area at the beach. I grabbed my Bib and walked along the beach a bit. The beach bathrooms were open as well as a few additional porta potties. Take note that if you arrive late you will need to park further way and take the provided shuttle bus. My early arrival was handsomely rewarded with a nice sunrise.

The course offered nice changes from park roads to the greenway trail and town roads. The change in scenery is a great opportunity to readjust and change your thinking. I use this as a reset button. If I'm tired and the course takes a turn of the trail and opens to an ocean view then it's a whole new race. It's refreshing, take a deep breath, adjust and get back on pace. If I'm hurting, let that go at the next change and mentally start over. This is a great way to break the race up into smaller manageable pieces. 


JB Sports executed a well managed event. Aid stations were frequent enough and stocked. Runner safety was evident with great traffic control in place. Plenty of post race goodies including some delicious hot chowder 

A band was jamming  keeping the post race beach party going

Taking place on Halloween with the cool crisp coastal breeze this race just makes you feel refreshed and alive.

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Reservoir Run Race Review

The Reservoir Run
Weston, CT
October 25, 2015

  Half Marathon 276


Winning Time:

Go fast enough to get there but slow enough too see -Jimmy Buffet

Take each race as it comes and adjust to the opportunity put before you. Every race has something different to offer. On this day I was given the beauty of fall foliage, nature and peace. As we walked up to the school the kindest gentle mannered volunteers welcomed us. They held signs that read "how can I help you". Their calm approach set the tone for a relaxing morning. In all my races I've never seen an event where every volunteer was so calm as if they've done it a thousand times. I felt as if my participation in the race was greatly appreciated. That counts for something in my book. 
I took a minute to introduce myself to Race Director Phyllis. It was only fitting that I did so given that we had exchanged many emails since I was forced to miss this race last year due to that stress fracture. We then spoke again with regards to working with the 100 Hundred Marathons Club. Phyllis generously offered club members a discount on the race. Thank you. This helps members reach their goals.

  The Reservoir run offers a challenging but beautiful course. Set during fall just a week before Halloween it is the perfect time to run. A small field of runners especially in the mid to back of the back allowed me to really enjoy my surroundings. A chance to take it all in.  Could you go run on your own, not pay an entry fee and get the same thing? Well not if you want these cute motivational signs along the way. What about the aid stations with several people catering to your needs. Water gatorade what would you like?  You'd be surprised how much these signs mean! When you've reached the top of that big hill and see this. YOU BETTER BELIEVE I CAN!

  Even running slow and alone for the majority of the race I was treated as if I was a first class athlete at each intersection.  It is clear they value every person that runs this race. 

Apologies for the blurry raindrops on the camera during parts of this video  This amature vidoegrapher forget to wipe them off. Too busy enjoying my run.


   The Weston High school allowed us to use their facilities. Nice clean bathrooms and cafeteria to enjoy our post race goodies.  Vegetarian subs cookies and fruit hit the spot. How about the Taco Loco truck giving out Chips N Salsa and quesadillas? Yummy!

This is a race worth returning to every year.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Haunted Half Marathon Review

Haunted Half Marathon
Pequannock, NJ
October 24, 2015 

   Half marathon 214
Winning time:

Wow that was fast!

    It's been a very long time since I've run a flat and fast course. Just chilly enough temps with a great course through quiet residential neighborhoods made this race one to run, really run. Guess it was time to get serious again and dare I say, think about the clock. This past year my running has been about everything but the clock so it was interesting to push harder this time. Still couldn't make it all about that so I did strap on the GoPro and take some time to talk to other runners. I just can't help myself. The people are the best part of running these events. I'd trade ticks tocks on the clock any day for taking the time to interact. 

   Arriving early as we always do parking was quick and easy. Real bathrooms were available close  to the car. The start was just a short walk through the park. Runners gathered donning their costumes. We were quickly briefed and set on our way.   


    Water stops were available often enough. Some had the cutest little kids proudly holding that cup of water as high as their little arms could reach. Future runners maybe? We can only hope. I encourage you to thank them, smile at them and give them a high five. Inspire these little minds to do great things. Leave a positive lasting impression. 

  The course was clearly marked. Intersections and traffic perfectly controlled and secure. Go ahead and focus on your form and breathing with no fear of being plowed down by some careless driver. Don't tell but I may have even used music during this race. 

   It was not a PR for me but the fastest time I've seen in 2015...I'll take it! Our teammate Dean from the  Northport Running Club  placed in his age group so we had the chance to hang around chatting with other runners. What a terrific bunch of runners that attend this race. These smaller races are always more intimate.  It tends to feel like a big family versus getting lost in the crowd. It makes a huge difference in a race when I can hear & see the race director. I want to run the races where the race director's passion for executing a race the runners will love is as deep as my passion for running it. 

   Race Director Greg did a fantastic job with this event. This was suppose to be a 2014 event for me until I was sidelined with a stress fracture. At that time Greg was very responsive to emails and seemed to care more about me getting better to return to running then he did about the race entry fee and made it possible for me to attend this year. There are not many RD's like this out there. You definitely will not find them in the overpriced huge races so choose wisely my friends.      

Friday, October 23, 2015

Halloween Half Marathon Review

Halloween Half Marathon
Superhero Events
Morristown, NJ
October 18, 2015

  Half Marathon 1203


Winning Time:

It was one of those feel good days 

    Still fighting off a cold and a bit sore from the half marathon the day before I set out in the early morning on my solo trip to this race. These little adventures are my reset button. It's a chance to do things at my pace and on my own time. I get to really focus on the crowd and the vibe of the race.  

    I arrived super early to the pleasant Morristown easily grabbing a parking spot on the residential streets. There is also a parking garage close by so no worries about finding a spot. Then took the very short walk to the staging area and was greeted by super cheery smiling volunteers. I felt bad for them because it was so cold. An unexpected 32 degrees took us all by surprise. How lucky the runners were to receive their totally awesome long sleeve tech shirt. It has to be one of my favorite race shirts! Yeah sure there is that whole superstitious taboo thing about "should you were the race shirt the day of the race" but when it's cold and people aren't prepared that goes out the window.

 The DJ was pumping out some great Halloween music getting the crowd  excited ...sorry neighbors.  
Gear check was working double time to get the bags loaded into the van to be carted to the finish line. It was a tough job for them as everyone waited to the last second to strip those layers down. With it located just steps form the starting line it was super convenient. BONUS!!! 
  I never noticed a long line for the many porta-potties. Woohoo fantastic. Everything we needed contained right there in that parking lot and staged perfectly 

   It was so much fun checking out everyone's Halloween race attire The starting area was full of color and giddy adults tapping back into childhood. We were sent off into the streets to find our pace and rhythm. Runner safety was very visible with great traffic control and police patrolling the course. Even one riding a motorcycle through the entire distance. Sometimes you don't realize how comforting it is to know you are being taken care off. EMS were staged along the way as well. 

  The course was nice residential streets and along opens fields. The feel of fall resonated from the changing leaves and halloween decorations on porches. As we approached the final miles the course turned into a beautiful park. Ahhhhh now this is home. A winding leaf covered asphalt path through the woods was the home stretch. The perfect way to finish up this race.     

  As I crossed the finish line I reminded myself that this is why I persist. This is why I don't back out of races no matter how bad I'm feeling. You just never know what the day will bring until you are out there running. Be adoptive, adjust your pace and enjoy the journey. 

  The finish area had plenty of goodies. Oh  I should mention water along the course was readily available. No issues at all there. My checked bag was securely waiting for me and I easily hopped back on the bus to the car. 

  Superhero events did a great job with this race and I'll be returning next year. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

SoNo Half Marathon Review

SoNo Half Marathon
Norwalk, CT
October 17, 2015

   Half Marathon 971


All I could think was Urban Trail Running?

   I had been very excited for this inaugural race and registered back in December. I just love watching a race develop and grow. It's interesting to see what the race directors can achieve and how far they are willing to go with it.  As with anything the only limits are the ones you impose on yourself.  

  A steady stream of posts were made with new vendors and sponsors. More benefits for runners came through and I thought..oh this is going to be a great race. Clearly the RD's were attacking this full force from every angle. 

  Walking up to the staging area things seemed to be flowing smoothly. We easily grabbed our Bibs from friendly volunteers. There were enough porta potties. A bag check was located very close to the start/finish area with no line. Quick easy bag checks really make my day!!!! To be able to take a jacket off 15 minutes before the start and have it just steps away when you finish before you catch a chill is a huge plus.  

  After a few announcements and on time we were sent on our way.  After crossing the bridge and upon entering the town we were greeted by a large cheering crowd with a DJ pumping out the beats. Perfect to get the feet really moving and set the pace. 

    The course had a bit of everything which was perfect for keeping the boredom away. Unfortunately there were several areas of very bad traffic which had has running on the sidewalks. That's when the thought popped into my head..urban trail running. It became of game of jumping over curbs, dodging cars  and bystanders. Being a person who lets nothing get the way of my goals I embraced it.  Hey it won't be a fast fun but it'll be fun and I'll get to see this town. 
  All fun and games until a police officer put himself between me and a car.  It was a very busy intersection and a self absorbed driver who nearly hit me. That officer jumped on that car and banged on her windows so hard I thought they would break. Startled I could barely get the words "thank you" out of my mouth. You must know I don't wear headphones when I'm running. There is too much to be missed with music blaring in my ears. The sights and sounds of a race are what makes it so special. It's these moments among many that bring a race to life and give it meaning.

I'd never hear these people cheering if I had my ears stuffed. Nor would I hear the conversion of the runner next to me who is running their first half  marathon. The stories and friends I make along the course are what keeps me going back. 

  As we left the town the scenery changed and things felt calm.  Like a change of seasons the quite open landscape was a welcome site. It  was a chance to relax the breathing and once again, settle in.


 We received  a nice tech shirt, medal and pint glass.  SoNo has acknowledged the traffic problem with open roads and plans to make improvements next year.  As an inaugural event it was the only problem I found. Runner safety needs to become the first priority.  I have no doubt with all the effort they put into the event it will be addressed. I plan to return and make this an event I run every year. I have to admit I found it fun ( except almost getting hit by a car but I'm the nut who will run just about anything in any conditions. Most of the time I don't care at all about the clock.   Can't wait to see it grow.