Monday, February 10, 2014

Race Reviews (4 of them) with a Side of Biking

I have once again been remiss in posting, but the good news is I have four races under my belt for 2014 already to tell you about. Just 26 more to go!

Race #1: New Year's Eve 5k

As the name suggests, this race takes place on New Year's Eve, but starts right at midnight - so it was my first official race of 2014! There was an open bar and buffet at a bar by the ballpark leading up to the start of the race, and then we headed out into the cold to run a 5k through the parking lot. The course itself was pretty boring. What made this one special (besides being at midnight) was the NYE fireworks display going off right overhead while we were running. It was pretty awesome to get to watch fireworks for the duration of the race. It was quite chilly so I was highly motivated to finish quickly and pulled in a new PR (by a few seconds). One of my awesome co-workers joined me for this one, which made it all the more awesome. It was really a great way to start out the year and my 30 for 30 challenge!

Race #2: 38th The "Mayor's" Icicle Ten Miler (1/12/14)

With winter weather in full-swing (and a good dose of laziness) I was woefully under-prepared for this one. My steadfast running buddy and her partner do this one nearly every year and invited me along, so I was able to hitch a ride with them and had a buddy to run with. It's a smaller race, but has been growing. This one is in Wilmington, out of the Central YMCA, which is quite nice. Packet pickup is indoors, along with use of the locker rooms. Indoor bathrooms are definitely a plus, especially in January! We took dry clothes and were able to shower and change afterwards, which helped warm us up and made the trip home more pleasant. The course is fairly hilly, and neither of us were as fit as we would've liked so it was one of our slower 10 milers. But we made it through, and got to enjoy brunch at a nearby pub/restaurant where the after-party takes place before heading home.

Race #3: Shiver by the River #3 (2/2/14)

I had intended to run the Lehigh Valley Road Runners Superbowl 10k but it sold out before I registered. Oops! I also considered a 5k in West Chester on Saturday, which is about a 30 minute drive from home, but I joined a fun run at City Sports for the unveiling of the new Brooks shoe at 11pm the night before and it made for quite a late night. Totally worth it, but I didn't make it out of bed in time to get out there. So, I made the drive out to Reading for the third of the four race Shiver by the River series. The series is also on the smaller side, and pretty low-key, but nicely organized. I appreciate that the start is at 11am also, because it is a 1 1/2 hour drive out there. Also, it's only $15 per race, or $40 for the entire series. There is a 5k and 10k option, just two loops instead of one. I was tempted to just do the 5k (another chilly day and I still haven't been training regularly), but I figured I had to justify the long drive and stuck it out for the 10k. I wasn't aiming for a particular time since I'd been running irregularly, so I went a little slower than I perhaps could've, although not quite as slow as intended.

Race #4: Feel the Love Couples 5k (2/8/14)

This one took place in the Philadelphia Navy Yard, put on by the Bryn Mawr Racing Co. Of course the proximity to Valentine's Day makes the theme fairly obvious. This is the first time I had done this particular race. It's a twist on your average 5k: the awards are based on a "couple" team, and each person runs the loop in opposite directions. You get to see each other a few times along the course this way, and the awards are based on your combined time as a couple. You can sign up with your partner, or ask to be paired with someone, or just run as a loner (but then  you're not eligible for prizes). It was pretty cute. Another unusual feature is the fact that it started at 3:30pm. Given that it takes place in February and was pretty chilly even at this hour, I have no complaints about this, but it was definitely a departure from the normal race start times in the early morning. If you're not a morning person (like me), this is a pretty great race. Also, this one had the cutest race shirt of the year so far, and was quite affordable at $20 advance. The course wasn't the most scenic, but there was a nice stretch along the water where we got to see some of the huge ships docked out there. It's advertised as being "flat and fast", and it was indeed quite flat. I had a nice surprise with this one too, when I saw my running buddies at bib pickup before the race (the same ones I went to Wilmington with). I wasn't expecting company for this one, but they'd gotten an entry given to them at the last moment and ended up coming. So I once again had a running buddy, which was a great bonus that made it more enjoyable.

And that brings you up-to-date on my 2014 races. Next up, the Frostbite 5 miler on Feb. 22nd!

I think I'm off to a pretty good start, I just need to get back in my groove with running regularly. We've had quite the winter with lots of snow and ice and bitter cold temperatures, so I have found it challenging to get out the door to go run. I could hit the treadmill instead, but that comes with the logistical challenges of getting to the gym in the morning before work, or keeping my evening schedule clear so I can get there afterward (and keeping my motivation up). We just got even more snow this evening, and more bitter cold temps forecasted for the week, so winter is showing no signs of mercy just yet. Spring can't come soon enough! 

To switch things up a bit (and avoid the cold), I joined the T3 triathlon club's indoor "Biking for Breakfast" event today. Now, I don't actually do triathlons, so I'm a bit of a poser (although I openly admit this). I might venture into the world of duathlons one day, if I can get a decent bike. And figure out how to ride without sitting and walking hurting for the next 2 days. Okay, it hurts right now, and I'm anticipating it will take a couple of days to go away. I definitely see the utility of the padded shorts. 

That aside, it was a good workout and a fun crowd. The club really is a great group of people, and we had awesome volunteers cooking pancakes and waffles for us too. I brought a vegan and gluten-free waffle batter that they kindly cooked up for me, so I even had a yummy breakfast awaiting me when I got off the bike. Philadelphia Bikesmith, who hosted us, was awesome and set both me and my brother-in-law up on bikes and trainers for the workout. It was an all-around good time. In part due to this awesome event, I decided to go ahead and renew my club membership. I didn't feel like I made great use of it last year, but the board is really on fire this year. Since I'm considering dabbling in the world of biking in the near future, and they've been doing a great job cranking out awesome events, I think it's going to be totally worth it this year.

On that note, I need to get some sleep! I'd love to hear if anyone has tips on how to bike more comfortably, or favorite cold weather workout motivation!

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