Race Recap: NJ Half Half Marathon May 1, 2016

IMG_7918So this past Sunday I headed down to the Jersey Shore to run the NJ Half Marathon.  The weeks leading up to the race we were having pretty good weather in NY, so I had my cute little shorts and tank top ready to go for the race.  That plan went right out the window because it was cool and rainy out.  I woke up at the crack of dawn race morning.  Well actually before the crack of dawn since it was 3:30am.  The race started at 7:30am so we wanted to give ourselves enough time to get from NY to NJ and get settled in for the race.  Being that it was so early traffic was non existent so we had a nice ride down to the shore.

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The crew in the corrals before the race

The race start was at Monmouth Park Racetrack; like literally inside the park.  We got there pretty much at the start of the race, so I had to hustle to get to the trucks to check my bag before they pulled off.  I should have packed a full change of clothes, but I just had a shirt, and my umbrella inside the bag which I was so happy that I packed it because I really needed it after the race!

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Obligatory pre-race group selfie

This race had a stagger start, and I thought it was pretty slow going.  I mostly race in NY and most of our races have a lot of people.  I didn’t think this race was particularly that large and the stagger start was really not needed.  It just left us more time to play around and take pictures!

 

Dawn's First Marathon!

Dawn’s First Marathon!

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Allison Dancing, yeah we had way too much time on our hands!

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Allison, Deb, Janis

I was feeling pretty good the first 5 miles of the race.  A little too good because although it was raining and cool I was hot.  I unzipped my jacket some which was a mistake because as it started to rain more my shirt underneath my jacket became wet, and I started to get cold.  I almost took my jacket off because I was so hot, but I was happy that I didn’t.  So I kept a pretty good pace up until the 50 minute mark when I stopped to take in nutrition.  At this point I walked a little while I ate and drank.

FullSizeRender(3)As you can see, as the race goes on, my splits increase.  I felt fine endurance wise, but from mile 6 on I was cold, and my feet were soggy so my natural reaction was just to slow down.  I started taking it easy and taking in gatorade at every water stop.  I will say although there were people around me the entire race it was very lonely out there, and quiet.  I don’t think I’ve been at a more quieter race before.  The course was pretty basic. Mostly through residential neighborhoods, so other than the occasional view of mini mansion it was a pretty boring course.  It was virtually flat except for 2 overpasses, so if you are looking to PR or try to BQ this marathon is the perfect place to do it.

My official race time was 02:21:52.  Not the time I wanted, but considering my lack of training I’m pretty happy with it.  Post race there was lots to grab.  They gave out towels, water, gatorade, pretzels, and my favorite salt water taffy.  The one thing they were missing was foil.  It was wet and cold out there, and some people were in shorts and tanks, so something to wrap up in would have been nice.  I looked at the images of last years race and it looked sunny and warm, so I’m sure having foil was not on the race directors radar this year.

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Soaked at the finishline with my crooked hat!

Would I recommend this race? Yes and no.  Yes because it is a flat course and if you are looking to set a record this is the place to do it.  The medal is nice, and there are good post race refreshments.  No because it just wasn’t all that fun for me.  The water stations were not predictable but pretty random.  Who reads the athlete guide right?  I’m so use to having the option of liquids every mile that when it isn’t there it annoys me.  The post race shuttle location was horrible.  It was at least half a mile, maybe more from the finishline.  Then once the bus dropped us off back at the start we had to walk another half a mile back to our car.  For those that just ran a marathon that is a lot of walking, and painful at that.  The Race Directors really need to work on those logistics.

Until next time!

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Race Recap: Publix Georgia Half Marathon March 20, 2016

Hiya…it’s been a while!! I know I always say that! Anywho I’ve been up to lots of fun stuff so I haven’t been chronicling my fitness escapades like I should, but I am back to business now.

A couple weeks ago I headed down to Georgia to do the Publix Half Marathon, and I’ll tell you it was certainly a memorable weekend.  Atlanta is practically a second home to me now since my mother moved there, so I’ve made the two and a half hour flight many times and it is a breeze.

We got in early Friday morning, and as much as I love Atlanta, I hate the Atlanta airport.  All the walking and hoping on a train, then waiting for luggage that always takes forever, it really just poops you out.  Then on top of that we rented as car which was a whole other journey.  I don’t think we got out of the airport until 2hrs after our flight landed.    So after making a few stops we headed to my moms house.  After settling in we went to get a mani/pedi because of course we didn’t have sense enough to get one while in NY.  After all the getting up early I was beyond exhausted.  We got back to the house and I wanted to take a nap, but of course I couldn’t sleep; and we had an event to go to that night!  I went to Deb probably around 9 or 10 and told her I didn’t want to go out.  She said but you told X you would be there…I said I surely did and chucked it up and got ready, and I am glad I did because we had a ball.

Deb and I with Michael Martinez, founder of RunFam

So the weekend was called Runners All-Star Weekend.  We went to a white party Friday night hosted by Run Fam.  The party was at 595 North Event Center which is a warehouse type building; it was really nice.  The vibe of the party was very cool, and it was nice to meet so many people that I interact with on Facebook on a daily basis.

 

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Me

Deb

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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The whole NYC crew

I took tons more pictures, but we would be here all day if I posted them all.

On Saturday we attended Heather King’s day party, and that was also a blast.  I had the opportunity to chat more and meet lots of new people in a day time setting.  The Meet and Greet Day Party was held at 255 Tapas Lounge in Atlanta.  I really enjoyed the atmosphere of this place.  The food was delicious, and the drinks were nice and strong!

 

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I finally got a chance to meet Mr. BTA himself!

Me and Tony Brown, founder of Black Triathletes Association.

Me and Tony Brown, founder of Black Triathletes Association.

Me, Michael Martinez-Founder of RunFam, & Deb

Me, Michael Martinez-Founder of RunFam, & Deb

On Saturday we headed over to the expo to pick up our race bibs.  The expo was held at the Georgia World Congress Center which is huge.  I’ve been there before for an event and didn’t realize how massive the place was until this day.  I am not exaggerating, from the time we walked in the place, to get to the location were the expo was we walked at least a mile.  I looked down at my watch and saw I had 2000 more steps and couldn’t believe it.  The expo was extremely underwhelming.  I left my Honey Stinger Energy Chews at home so I was on a mission to buy some at the expo.  There was not one vendor there that sold nutrition.  When we first walked in there was a Mizuno (the race apparel sponsor) shop with race gear and very little nutrition.  After walking around the entire expo and finding no vendors with nutrition I was pissed!  I had to walk back to the Mizuno shop and buy sports beans (which taste disgusting) because the only option was energy gels which I just cannot stomach.

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One good thing about the expo was I saw this cute Georgia Marathon hoody, but I didn’t want to pay $65 for it.  After the race they were marked down to $50….score!

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On to race day:  The race started at 7am, so we had to get up at the crack of dawn to get to downtown Atlanta before the streets closed.  The race start and finish were just outside of Olympic Centennial Park.  There were plenty of port-a-potty’s set up so using them was a breeze.  Now bag check was a friggin mess.  The lines were like 100 people long.  I am really spoiled with our NY races because bag check is a breeze.  I really don’t understand why the lines were so long, and why it was taking the volunteers so long to get bags checked.  There needs to be an overhaul of this system for next years race, because it did not work well.

Pre-race it's still dark out!

Pre-race it’s still dark out!

 

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My obligatory pre-race selfie!

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Waiting in the start corrals

So this was the HARDEST half that I have ever done.  Yes I heard the horror stories about the hills beforehand, but I never expected to get what I did.  This was my first time running rolling hills.  In NY we have hills here and there, but no rolling hills.  The hills were never ending!  As soon as you went up one and down another, here comes another one!  The first 3 miles of the race I felt OK.  There were hills of course, but I didn’t think it was too bad and thought OK I can do this.

At mile 4 of the race, we ran by Dr. Martin Luther’s King Jr.’s church Ebenezer Baptist Church.  I decided to stop and take a few pictures of this historic site.

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The original church

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Newer larger church across the street

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And my blurry while running pics

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As I was running up the block I was looking for Dr. Kings home.  I was on the left side of the street which was the wrong side.  I thought I saw it but wasn’t sure so I just kept running.  I asked someone after the race where it was and I indeed missed it!  Next time I’m in Atlanta I think I will finally go on the tour of his home.

 

IMG_7382Mile 7 is when I really started to feel the burn of the hills, and I just said F it and starting walking up them.  Since I started taking my running seriously I stopped walking during races.  Well not completely, I still walk the water stations.  If I do stop to get liquids it is usually no more than 30 secs…a minute max but that’s pushing it.  At this point I was so over the up and down that I just walked as fast as I could to get to the top.  Sometimes I tried to run, but I felt like I could walk faster than my attempt at running so I just walked them.  Almost everyone around me was walking as well, or trying uneventfully to run them.  It is very discouraging when you get this far into a half and you have to start walking.  I saw my goal time slipping away from me minute by minute, so my new goal was to just get to the finish line.

The post race swag was great.  They gave at out green throw away jackets as soon as you crossed the finish.  There was full bottles of chocolate milk which I drank right down and took 2 for the road.  Bananas, snack boxes, powerade, and I’m sure plenty things I do not remember.  A con for the race for me besides the hills was the Powerade.  I am use to Gatorade Endurance formula.  This is what I train with, and this is what we get at mostly all NY races.  I’ve drank powerade before, but the regular store bought kind.  Not sure what formula they provided along the course, but it tasted disgusting and had a wretched after taste.  I took it at the first station and skipped all the rest.  This led to minor cramping in my quads in the later miles.

Overall I had a fantastic time this  weekend.  Although this was the most difficult half I have done, I will and am going to do it again.  Next year I think I’ll actually put some training in for it because this year my mile count heading into this race was non existent, and I will bring my own liquids!

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Publix Georgia Half Marathon Medal

Publix Georgia Half Marathon Medal

For anyone thinking of doing the Publix Half don’t let the hills scare you.  We get complacent in our running once we reach certain milestones, so it is nice to challenge yourself every once in a while.

Until next time!

 

Race Recap: NYRR Staten Island Half Marathon October 11, 2015

IMG_4790Hellooooo!!! I know I’ve been MIA for a while, but hey sometimes life gets in the way!  Couple that with the non-stop marathon training I’ve been doing this summer and it has surely been a doosey!  I haven’t been racing that much other than completing NYRR’s 9+1 program which will guarantee me entry into the 2016 NYC Marathon, which I doubt I’ll be doing, but never say never!  I’m in taper mode right now, so no more super weekend long runs, and basically I’m just maintaining until the big dance on November 1st.

This past Sunday I ran for the 2nd time in Staten Island.  I remember last year after leaving I said I was never going back there again, and low and behold I was back there again!  I remember last year as soon as I got out of the car I said out loud “what the heck is that smell!” I mean Staten Island (SI) was funky!  This year however, I didn’t smell anything weird so SI redeemed itself in my book, and the race was already off to a good start.  This year NYRR changed the course route.  Last year it was an out and back, so the exact route we ran out, we turned around and ran the same way back.  This year however that all changed.

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Walking to our coral

The walk to the start was incredibly long.  Race Central is in Richmond County Bank Ballpark which was home to the Staten Island Yankees.  We exit the stadium underground and proceed up the stairs, and out to the corals.  Now this race is massive, so there are people everywhere.  I felt as though we walked at least a half a mile just to get to our coral.

SIHalfI was feeling really good at the start of the race.  My plan going in was to keep my pace in the 9’s.  I didn’t have a set pace of high 9’s or low 9’s but to just stay under 10 the entire race.  I accomplished that goal for the first 5 miles of the race.  At mile 6 I stopped to get some gatorade, and take in some nutrition so my pace that mile was 10:09.  When I look back and think on this I do the same thing every single race.  Instead of picking up my pace  in mile 5 so I do not loose precious time on my mile 6 nutrition, I always maintain the same pace.  Some day soon I will master this and get my pacing right; practice makes perfect.  Anywho, I took in my stingers and gatorade, and the course turned onto some type of weird brick walk way.  As I’m running I think this is strange.  It was not a comfortable run and all, and I hoped it would be over soon.  It was, but it only got worse.  We ended up running on the boardwalk.  This was not a smooth boardwalk at IMG_4821all.  It was rickety and almost unstable.  I almost felt like at any moment it was going to collapse with the number of people that were running on it.  I’ve never run on a boardwalk so this was something new to me.  Miles 8-9 was absolute torture for me, and as much as I tried I just could not go any faster.  I really began to get discouraged at that point, because I was making such good time and it just all almost came to a screeching halt.  When we finally exited the boardwalk after 2 miles I was overjoyed!  I didn’t care what else was on the horizon.  As I round a mini hill, and come around a bend I encounter the biggest hill I’ve ever seen!  I mean the thing was massive and this picture just does not do it justice.  It was a great scenic route though running under the Verazzano Bridge.  As I’m attempting to run up the hill I realize that I was losing the battle so I started to walk it.  Everyone around me was walking so I thought what the heck!  There was a guy running next to me and he was running so slow I patted him on the shoulder and said just walk it out man, you’ll get up this thing much faster.  He laughed and said you’re right!

IMG_4814Once we made it up that hill we ran into Fort Wadsworth Park.  I have to say it was a really beautiful route, and it made me forget about the massive hill I just climbed.  By mile 10 I stopped for some gatorade and just tried to regroup so that I could finish strong.  Once I was there I said you have 5k to go, finish strong.  Mile 11 went well, mile 12 I stopped for more gatorade, and I don’t know what the heck happened during mile 13.  All I know is that I ran the most difficult half marathon course I have ever ran, and I did it in the fastest time that I’ve ever ran 13.1.  I was shocked and extremely pleased with the end result.  I always say that yes running is physical, but it is an extreme mental game as well.  I can tell myself to keep going and push through, and somehow I get it done.  My ultimate goal now is to do a sub 2hr half marathon.  I don’t care if it is 1:59:59, as long as I finish in under 2hrs.  I know it won’t happen this year since I don’t have any more half’s planned (well just 1), but this is my 1 running goal that I am shooting for in 2016.

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Why do we kiss and bite medals again?

Overall I really enjoyed this race.  I read many comments about people complaining about the hills, and all I can say is suck it up.  You knew you were running Staten Island, and you knew it was hilly, so just be happy that you were able to complete 13.1 on such a hard course.  New Yorkers run in Central Park so we are use to running hills.  Complaining about this course was unnecessary.  I liked the race, but an hour plus to get there, and 3hrs to get off SI and home is enough for me to say this is the last time I’ll be doing it.

My next big race is the NYC Marathon on November 1st.  Be sure to follow me on my social media platforms as I’ll be vlogging, and periscoping from the expo, and other events I’ll be attending marathon weekend.

http://facebook.com/str8kim

http://twitter.com/str8kim

http://instagram.com/str8kim

https://www.periscope.tv/str8kim

#RUNon

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I’m taking Nike’s time over my official race time of 2:11 since I ran the course long!

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Last Year Vs. This Year

Race Recap: Long Island Half Marathon May 3, 2015

This past Sunday I ran the half marathon (13.1 miles) at the Long Island Marathon.  When I woke up I checked the weather and it was a bit on the cooler side, but would warm up later, so I grabbed a sweater just in case I was a little cold in the morning.  I ended up not using the sweater at all since it warmed up pretty quickly.

This race is close to home so getting there is a breeze, but the parking situation is a mess!  The race starts in one place and ends in another which is a logistical nightmare for a runner.  I parked my car in Eisenhower park because that was where the finish line was, but this meant that I had to trek like a mile and a half to the start.  Additionally I had to get to the park super early (6:45am) just to make sure I was able to get in since there were road closures starting at 7am.  The race didn’t start until 8am so it was a bit of a waiting game.  I’m happy that I at least got to wait in my car so that I wasn’t freezing my buns off!  Oftentimes we have to stand around in the cold waiting for a race to start and trust me it is not fun at all!

After making it to the start with my coffee in hand I was able to snap a few pics.  Of course my obligatory deuces up photo….can’t leave home without it!  You can see the mob of people behind me, and trust me that is a very small snap shot of the number of people out there…it was really a huge race!IMG_0509

 

With my buddy Deb.  No she is not frowning, but we were facing directly into the sun.  Not sure how I kept a straight face with this one.  How do you like our RUNtheSol tanks?? Cute huh!  Check out http://RUNtheSol.com for more details.

Me and Deb

 

 

 

Wanda, Me, & Deb

So once the race started I was feeling really good.  I know I wanted to keep my pace in the 9’s so that I could maintain it throughout the whole race.  My goal was sub 2:30 which is probably more like a 10 minute pace, but I wanted the extra wiggle room just in case I conked out in the end (which I did), so in the 9’s I went.  I was chugging along and even had a running buddy the first 10k.  I didn’t stop at any of the water stops because I don’t usually need any until mile 6 so I stuck with that plan.  Once I got to mile 6 I was a little under 60 mins…I believe 58 minutes, so I knew it was time to take in some fuel.  This was my mistake.  I stopped at the mile 6 for water and to take my honey stinger energy chews.  I sipped, popped 6 stingers all while walking.  Now don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with walking the water stops.  Sometimes it can give you that bit of rest you need to keep going, but in my instance it really slowed me down tremendously.  I felt like I lost all of my momentum after that first small walk…and by small I mean like 20-30 seconds.  After that I could not get my pace below 10.  I was constantly hovering around 10:30, sometimes lower.  No matter how much I tried to move faster my legs just would not cooperate.  Sometimes when I though I was moving faster I would look down at my watch and be at an 11 pace!  I really though I was in the twilight zone because it just made absolutely no sense! I just could not fully control my body.

LIHalfMarathonThere was one part of the race where we were running on the Wantagh Parkway, and it was like zombies running on the highway.  It was eerily quiet except for the patter of runners feet.  At that point I wish I had some music to listen too!! This was also the never ending hill climb.  Somewhere between mile 9 and 10 I was just thinking to myself will this hill ever end.  It was the longest gradual incline I think I’ve ever ran!  As you can see after mile 6 my per minute mile really increased.  I’ll have to work on that for my next half in 10 days.

I blew my sub 2:30 time out of the water with a time of 2:15 which I was really happy about.  I was looking at my watch often those last few miles because I knew I was slowing down, but I knew I was still making pretty good time.  Once I crossed the finish line I just thought to my self wow, you did much better than expected!

There were a few freebies at this race.  You can see my gratis #LoveSnapple shades below.  They had a booth at the finishline and were giving away canvas goody bags with t-shirts, glasses, and stickers.

There was also a beer pit.  There was tons of free beer.  Why someone would want to drink beer at 10:30 in the morning I have no idea, but more power to you!  I think the registration fee was worth it in the free beer alone!

Yes I love my headbands….my collection is getting OOC!

My 13.1 headband

 

After race selfie #RUNtheSol

 

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RUNtheSol crew

Next stop #BrooklynHalf

Race Recap: NYRR Five-Borough Series: Staten Island Half October 12, 2014

IMG_7268Sunday I completed my 5th of 9 races to get guaranteed entry into the 2015 NYC Marathon, and it surely was a doosey!  I’m probably not the first New Yorker to never have ventured to Staten Island because lets face it, if you don’t know someone who lives there, or like minor league baseball there really is no reason to go there is it?? Staten Islanders please clue me in.  So my first time to Staten Island was definitely a memorable one, and I don’t know that it is exactly a good memory.  Fall in New York, the weather can be hit or miss.  2 weeks ago at the Bronx 10 mile it was hot and we were sweating bullets, and Sunday it was chilly and I barely broke a sweat.  Granted when I got going the weather was perfect, but waiting around for the race to start I was freezing my britches off.

The race started right outside Richmond County Bank Ball Park, home of the Staten Island Yankees.  From my understanding (and I have very little of baseball) this is a minor league team, and little brother to the Yankees that play in the Bronx.  The stadium was beautiful and sits right on the water so the views were great.IMG_7233  If you squint you can see a view of the site of the new World Trade Center behind me.  We got to Staten Island pretty early like 6:30 a.m. because the main road in would be closed for the race, and we wanted to find a good parking spot which we were lucky enough to find a block from the stadium.  There were 9,537 finishers in this race, and 4,472 of them were women, so you can imagine the line for the bathroom.  We got there right on time because about 15 minutes later the line was 30+ people long.  Sometimes arriving early has its advantages!

Fast forward to the race start at 8:30am.  I’d say the first couple miles were pretty flat and I was very comfortable.  But after that came the hills.  And I mean hills and hills!  This was an out and back course, so if you went down a hill on the way out, you had to climb that hill on the way back.Hills  You can get an idea of the hill action in this pic.  These hills were really non-stop.  Some small, some very large.  Somewhere between mile 9-11 there was a monster hill, and as I am slowly trekking up it my left ankle starts to get a twinge, and I’m thinking hmmmm this is a pain I’ve never felt before, so I walked up the remainder of that hill to see if I would feel better which I did thank goodness.Splits  The first half of the race I felt pretty good.  I’d even say up to mile 9 I was feeling awesome, and then I hit the wall.  Runners know what that wall is.  Having run a maximum of 10 miles to date, and clocking very little mileage for the past two weeks, I expected that wall to come sooner or later.  Thank goodness it came later because I definitely would not have made it through if it came any sooner.  At mile 8 you can see my time increased, that was because at this water station there was powerade gels.  I don’t eat these, but I grabbed a few to try later.  I was trying to squeeze those suckers into my belt, and it took longer than planned so that mile was slow.  Mile 9 I picked it back up, but by mile 10 there was the wall.  My body was just telling me to stop.  My thighs were burning, the bottom of my feet were aching, I still felt that twinge in my ankle, but surprising my knee that I had ITB Syndrome on was ok.  At this point I started walking.  I am so happy that my buddy TarniaIMG_7235 was with me the entire race, and I screwed up her time (sorry Tarnia), but she really pulled me through those last 3 miles.  She calls me her rabbit because she use to follow me around the track, but now she is my rabbit.  So thankful to her.  BGR LI is truly a sisterhood, and we take that no women left behind moto seriously!  Those last 3 miles were super hard, and slow, but I made it through thankfully!  The race ended inside the stadium which was nice.  As soon as I crossed the finishline I made a beeline to the medical tent to get some ice for my knee and ankle.  I was a little sore the next 36hrs, but I am feeling much better today.  I think the ice and an Epsom salt bath afterwards really helped.

Some pics from the day:

Stole this from Dawn, her pre-race selfie’s rockIMG_7259The whole BGR LI crewIMG_7260Me post race with my medal on the fieldIMG_7251A close up of the medal…I think it rocksIMG_7273

I think the Staten Island Half will probably be a one and done for me.  The traffic to get out was horrendous and it took us 2.5hrs to get home.  Coupled with the hills it is going to be really hard to get me back to that boro!

I have a much needed race break this weekend, so I’ll probably spend the next week and a half in the pool and rest my feet.  This double race weekend really wore me out.  I have learned my lesson to not only check my calendar the day of a race to see if I am free, but to check the day before and after as well.  No more jam packed race weekends for me!!! Happy Tuesday!