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. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Rock n Roll Brooklyn Race Review

Rock n Roll Brooklyn 
Brooklyn, NY
October 10, 2015

   Half Marathon 13345


I had no idea when I registered for this race things would line up as they did.

   I am the person who registers for races as soon as they open. The early bird pricing really helps and I like to have my calendar planned and full. I set goals every year and while I play the number game I'm always fully aware that any thing can happen so I don't get to attached to any plan. This year I knew I would need something else after my first ultra so the goal was to hit 40 half marathons in the year I turned 40.   

  As luck would have it Rock n Roll Brooklyn would be number 40. Why was I lucky that this was the goal race? 

 (1) My PIC (running partner in crime) Alicia Delano was also running it.
 (2) I had just secured a partnership with RnR and the 100 Half Marathons Club
 (3) Our member Jim Diego would be singing the National Anthem         
 (4) My running slump of extremely slow times was finally turning around

Video credit- Jim Diego 

I was also grateful to be running close to home and looking forward to seeing more friends. What I didn't realize was even with the race being in Brooklyn I'd have to leave at 3:30AM. That's earlier than I've left for races 3 hours way.

   Alica and I have traveled together for many races and thankfully we are both early birds. It's not suppose to be stressful right?  After driving around a bit we found a free parking spot about 1.5m from the start. We walked a bit and met up with Gigi and more friends. We are all extremely lucky to have Jeff  hold our things so we can avoid the back check. RnR seemed to plan a bit poorly for the baggage because while they had plenty of trucks with no lines they were located way to far from the start. That defeats the purpose if you still have to walk far in the cold. 

     We then made our way into the corrals to find there were only four porta potties per corral and none in the last few corrals.  How could such an experienced racing company make this error? Talking with other runners who have run several events with RnR they had never experienced this before.  Thankfully the race started very late so we made it to the start on time. I did hear stories of runners starting 45 minutes late due to bathroom lines. What gives RnR?  

  We took off and I fell into my rhythm. It was great to feel my body moving as it had remembered. Yes thing still hurt. The knee that's been bugging me kept reminding me of all the miles I've run in the pursuit of my goals. Numbness in my foot would continually build an become so painful I'd have to stop and shake it out every 2-3 miles. However I felt my endurance was back and I was moving much faster than I had for the past 5 months. Apparently those ultras I ran had changed my mind set, taken their toll and slowed me way down.  I didn't mind for awhile but it is time to reset.

   The course offered some nice points of interest, sporadic areas of spectators and a band or two. Water and Gatorade was available often enough. 

While not my fastest half marathon I finished in a time I hadn't seen in along time.  That list mile was extremely difficult on an emotional level. It was finally here the 40th finish line this year. Part of me wanted to just stop and not cross it knowing this journey would be over. I'd have to set a new goal. Then I laughed and remembered I already have another goal and place so run baby run. 

This year is not even and I have no intention to stop running half marathons. Let's see how far I can take this.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Paine to Pain Half Marathon Review

Paine to Pain Trail Half Marathon
New Rochelle, NY
October 4, 2015

 Half Marathon 699


Don't listen to the weather man when deciding if you want to show up at your scheduled race.

   The week leading up to this race threatened us with heavy rain and winds as hurricane Joaquin  was tracked along the east coast. I was so grateful I had a trail race planned because unlike road races they don't back down from bad weather and neither do I.  Sure the trails may be riddled with mud, puddles and slippery rocks. The wind may push against me and the rain may sting my skin but I'll be fine. That which we work harder for is more rewarding.  

There is nothing like running in the trails 

   If you have never run in trails I encourage you to do so. Paine to Pain is the perfect race for you to see what trail running is really about. The trail has a bit of everything. There are catwalks, stream crossings, tunnels and scrambling over rocks.   The less challenging stretches give a chance to run free and clear your mind. 

   The race director will greet you with a bit of history and share runners stories. You become part of the Paine to Pain family. The well organized event has grown to a 6 wave start. This alleviates crowding in the trails. Each wave is set off with a greeting form the RD and a musket shot sends runners on their way. 

   The morning was cool with temps around 52 degrees. No rain in sight with about 15 mph winds. Perfect running weather. It would be a good day in the trials. With over 24 hrs to dry out I expected the course would be in good shape. Truth be told I was a bit disappointed. Had the weather gone as the forecast predicted earlier in the week this would have been an epic day leaving us all with great stories to tell.     

  The volunteers along the course are a great group of friendly people who will cheer you on giving you a boost of energy.  Thank You! 

  There are a few street crossing but have no worries as they are each manned by three or more people controlling traffic. Have you ever had traffic stopped for you? I mean just you, not a crowd of runners just you a single runner. Have you ever had that police officer put himself in front of a car that doesn't seem to be slowing down. I have! Please thank each and every officer you see when racing. 

  The sun began to peek through the trees around mile 8 and the cool light breeze rustled the leaves. The smell of autumn air filled the trails. Ahhh yes it was a perfect day in the woods.

  Paine to Paine does a terrific job with this event. Plenty of porta parties at the start. A bag check is conveniently placed just feet from the starting line then brought to the finish. There are even showers!
We received a nice tech shirt water bottle and very awesome spinner medal. 

  I would just suggest that the finish line food and vendors stay set up a bit longer. This race stated a 3 hour cut off. I came in just under that and everything was already packed up.  That is very disappointing for the slower folks and extremely disheartening to those first time half marathoner.

  That said I have to recognize the Rd Eric for leaving the mat in place while many people passed that  3hr cut off.  The results show several over that time and I'm sure they are more than grateful. As a mid pack runner who has fallen into the back many times for various reasons I can assure you we all work just as hard. The stories of triumph and perseverance are never more greater then in that of these runners.