River Valley Trail Run 15k

RVR15

August 15th, 2015

Time 2:06:44.2 14:05/m

For the first time, in a long time, I was super nervous about attending this race. River Valley Run was my first rugged trail run and I was ballsy enough to register for the longest distance, the 15k. The only trail I’ve ever trained on is the NCR Trail, which is like running on cotton balls compared to the dirt hills I had endured in this race.

There were three adult races to choose from: the 5k on pavement, the 10k trail run and the first RVR 15k trail run. Of course my sister (Ahem… who showed up hungover) chose the 15k, so I decided to run it with her. The morning weather was absolutely perfect and it had been months since I had experienced running in anything cooler than 70º.

RVR Start Line

PROS…

LOTS OF HILLS…

…tons and tons and tons and tons… This could be a “Con” if you dislike a challenge; however, I’m currently preparing for the Baltimore Marathon, so I found this to be valuable within my training program…

RVR Hills

…I ran up this hill, not down it.

HEAVILY SHADED…

…with this downhill run being the only exception…

RVR Sun

…the rest of the race had been entirely shaded, even within open fields…

RVR Shade

NOT ONE, BUT TWO RIVERS TO RUN THROUGH…

The majority of the race was along side a river, hence, the name “River” Valley Run…

RVR River Next

…but I was surprised to see that we would be running through it twice!

RVR River

I also liked that, during the first initial run through, I could choose whether I’d like to run through the river or walk over a small foot bridge. The second run through, I had no choice though, but it was extremely refreshing!

TONS OF VOLUNTEERS…

It seemed like there had been a volunteer around every bend and at the top of every hill! I absolutely loved this, because it seemed like without any, it would be very difficult to navigate the trail, making it pretty simple to get lost.

BEAUTIFUL SCENERY…

…Please, see for yourself…

RVR Pretty

Lastly, CHICK-FIL-A AT THE FINISH LINE!

…and not only bagels, but bagels with cream cheese! I ate them too fast to take a pic, but the race provided Chick-fil-A breakfast crispy chicken sandwiches on buttery biscuits 🙂

CONS…

SAFETY…

It is very likely that more than a handful of people became injured during this race. I witnessed a few myself and, honestly, I have no idea how I came out of there without falling or rolling an ankle. If you are currently training for a big race, it may be too much of a risk to sign up for this one.

SPACE…

As you can see, in reference to my above chip time, I’m a pretty steady & slow runner. This caused somewhat of an annoyance to the elites who began the 10k shortly after we began our 15k. I was sure to stay out of the way while the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, even 4th and 5th place runners of the 10k came rolling through; however, there were so many more thereafter, yelling “TO THE LEFT!”. Well, in this race, there is no left nor right. There is just the single-file trail… so if you’d like to beat your own PR, this may not be the race to sign-up for. I had to stop numerous times in order to ensure my ankles were still in tact after people running up on them.

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTLY…

On a rating level of 1 to 10 for difficulty, this was at about a 15. I’m glad I had some years under my belt, but I’m still going to opt out for the 10k if I ever choose to register again. 9.3 miles is just too much for trying a dirt, trail run for the first time.

Overall, it was another accomplishment proven to myself… It was a difficult race, but the feeling of pride is so much stronger when knowing how much I truly fought to run across that finish line. Plus, I must’ve had a ton of fun…

‪#‎RUNVR2015
‪#‎RUNVR2015

‪#‎RUNVR2015

The Proof is in the pictures people!!

Oh yeah, and I placed #5 in my female age group… but then realized that there were only 7 female 20-29 year olds; therefore, I was not 5th from first… I was 3rd from last.


Thanks for reading! Be sure to stop back shortly to see how my Baltimore Marathon Training is going!

Advertisements

THE GETTYSBURG MARATHON

1450

Here it is! …What I had prepared for alllll winter long… The reason why I ran in negative degree wind chills… The day I thought about, during each & every run, since I had registered for the marathon… My first marathon ever. I use to think that the only explanation for anyone to run 26.2 miles is because they’re crazy- They must be crazy! …and here I am.

Saturday, April 25th 2015:

Since Gettysburg is about 1.5 hours away from Baltimore, MD, we decided to head up the day before and check-in to the Courtyard Gettysburg Marriott. The hotel information had been provided to us through the Gettysburg Marathon site and the hospitality was so nice! The hotel even had an indoor pool, which could’ve really worked in my favor, in order to help me stretch; however, not realizing this, I didn’t even think to bring my bathing suit.

Although, we did do some sight seeing!

1426

1425

…and ate at My Brothers Pizza for lunch! I tell you this because, if you’re ever in town, this is a MUST EAT-Delicious comfort food to reward yourself after training all winter long!

Packet pick-up was directly next door to the Hotel and was very quick, which also gave me an idea of how small the marathon was going to be. The shirts were not what I had hoped for, but I tend to be spoiled by the Under Armour swag, which is always sponsored within Baltimore City Races.

That evening, the Appalachian Brewing Company, Which is also right next to the Hotel, had been offering a pasta buffet dinner at $17.00 per person-Carb overload! The pasta was pretty dry, but we didn’t arrive to the buffet until it had been sitting out for 2-hours, so that was our fault.

Before heading to bed I made sure to lay my entire outfit out, charge my Nike+ Sportswatch & Beats Earbuds, do a little bit of foam rolling, pack a Clif Bar & a Honey Stinger into my Flip Belt, and purchase two bottles of water from the lobby. Not an expensive sport at all, right? 😉

Sunday, April 26th 2015:

The morning of the marathon I woke up after a great nights rest- I didn’t even press the snooze button! My Husband had been planning on driving us to the starting line; however, shuttle buses had been provided to drive everyone from the hotel to the starting line. Once in the lobby, I met up with my friend, Becky, who was set to run her first 10-Miler. We grabbed some free coffee and hopped right on that free bus 🙂

The race didn’t have many participants in it (Turned out to be 335 total). A majority seemed to be elite runners, since the marathon is a qualifying event for the Boston Marathon, and many had sponsors on their shirts. I was also surprised to see that the roads weren’t blocked off. Again, spoiled from the blocked off Baltimore races… But I was happy to find that the weather was perfect. It was suppose to rain; however, instead it was slightly windy and the temps started in the high 30s, then crept up to the low 60s that afternoon.

1434

1436

All of the girls I had been training with all winter were there and we all started together. We were able to chit chat until about mile 17 where I had to make the switch to my Beats Earbuds because I was starting to feel exhausted. I think this had something to do with seeing my husband & Becky on the sidelines cheering me on. My husband had met Becky at the finish line, after her 10-Miler, and they both grabbed a spectator shuttle to mile 15 where they gave me more water. After seeing them I just wanted to be finished and hang out with them!

Although I carried a bottle of water with me the entire time (Yes, I do this every time.), there were volunteer stations every two miles. Every single volunteer station had water, Gatorade, GU and porta potties! …Something you do not see in Baltimore races.

I felt tired, but great; however, I’ve never been so happy in my life as when I saw mile 20…

1438

At mile 23 I started crying. Yep. I was in the middle of a road, going through a corn field, with no one else around me for at least a quarter of a mile, and I started crying. Everyone I’ve spoken to, who had previously ran a marathon, said that I would hit a wall and want to stop… but I wasn’t crying because I wanted to stop. They were happy tears for making it to mile 23! I remember thinking to myself that if I made it to mile 23, there was no way I wouldn’t make it to completing my first marathon.

At mile 26 I could see the spectators at the top of the hill and I lost it. I started running super fast, just to get to the finish line and cried my eyes out the entire time…

finish line

Even after all of my efforts through training, I still could not grasp the fact that I had just completed a FULL marathon.

Afterwards I logged into my social media accounts to see all of the support from so many of my friends… and my husband had been live tweeting the entire time!

Scotts Tweets

A bunch of us decided to give Appalachian Brewing Company a second try for lunch,  and their main menu was pretty good! Plus, we needed to celebrate with some beers 🙂

Surprisingly, I wasn’t exhausted, but very sunburned. I did some more foam rolling and took an hour nap, then made it back out for dinner at The Pub Restaurant– Another delicious menu!

1441 1443

1444

Monday, April 27th 2015:

The next morning is when the real pangs of hunger came. I felt very sore- looked like I was pregnant or just came out of surgery when I tried to walk. Taking off of work the day after my marathon was a great choice. I did some more foam rolling, of course, and rested all day except when heading out to do a 4-mile walk with my gals 😉

Overall, the experience was one of the best weekends in my life and it could not have gone any better. That weekend will forever be a contender with my wedding weekend, as the best in my life. I can’t remember much of how I dealt with life before I started running, but all I know is that I now NEED it in my life.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:

Scho SmileMy Sister, Jen-Your journey has inspired everything in me to start my own.. but it could never compare to what you have accomplished. You are my idol, not because you are my sister, but because you have achieved great obstacles. Without you finding your own story, I cannot say I would’ve found my own. If I find myself ever doubting my abilities, I think back to your accomplishments and realize that I cannot say no.

1449My Husband, Scott-I love you. I cannot express enough how much your support has helped me achieve this milestone. Since day one, you’ve attempted to be at every race. If I needed a ride to the starting line, you were waking up at 6 am on your day off. At the finish line, you were always there with a Gatorade or flowers and, afterwards, you were always willing to order the entire menu for lunch… For that, I thank you tremendously. As I’ve always said, I could’ve never married anyone with lesser of an appetite than you.

1431Becky-I took so much pride in watching your your new profound love for running. I’ve watched you go from one accomplishment to the next, just as my sister had with me. I hope that all of my unstoppable babbles about running have helped you get through those tough miles. Runner or no runner you’re by far one of the strongest people I know.

westminster galsMy Gettysburg Marathon Training Team, Jen, Nicole and Lisa– During those freezing weekends, I don’t know if I could’ve finished my runs alone! Half of the time I had forgotten I had been running for hours because our conversations made the runs go by so fast. I must say, it has been very difficult this summer without our Saturday meetings!

Week 14: Gettysburg Marathon Training

Week 14

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015: 4.2 Miles

Thursday, March 26th, 2015: 7 Miles

Saturday, March 28th, 2015: 20 Miles

In the beginning of Week 14, I woke up with the onset of a head cold. On Tuesday, I really wanted to take it easy, since the cold pretty much drained any energy I had left after a long work day… but I do live by the statement that running cures all, so I ran anyway. It was really nice out and I was super excited to see the fountains running…

1304

Another sign of the beginning of Spring!

On Thursday morning, I could not sleep in to save my life (Maybe another side effect of cold symptoms), so I decided to complete my run in the dark before heading to work. By the time the sun finally came up, it was still pretty cloudy out; however, running in the a.m. is still always better than running after work!

1308

“They” say if you can complete 20 miles during one run, you can complete a marathon…

Well this season’s marathon training sure did fly by! 20 miles ALREADY?!

On Saturday morning, I met up with the fellow running gals, at Ashland Parking Lot in Hunt Valley, to do 10 miles up on the NCR Trail and 10 miles straight back. Of course my head cold kicked in full force the morning of AND it was beginning to snow- Not too much though… just lightly enough to annoy the crap out of us.

1325

1318

To our surprise, there was a half marathon taking place within the same part of the trail we were running on!

1333

People were cheering us on and reaching to give us water & Gatorade at rest stations. Of course we didn’t steal any freebies; however, we didn’t try to explain ourselves to the spectators who had been cheering for us either 😉

At first I was really relieved that we were completing our 20-miler on an all flat trail, but I’ve recently (surprisingly) came to the conclusion that I actually prefer to run on hills versus an all flat terrain. When it comes to running long distances, towards the end I tend to notice every little annoying piece of gravel or uneven payment. Because of this, I think it’s best for me to stick to shorter trail runs.

Around mile 15, I started to feel drastically tired and the same pain, within my thigh muscles that I had experiencing the week before, had returned. In the end, I was so happy to complete the run and found it so hard to believe that, in a few weeks, I would have to complete that same 20-miler PLUS a 10k… but I also felt proud- I told myself that if I could run 20 miles, with a head cold, while snowing, then this marathon thing might not be such a bad idea.

My sister & I showed up to the NCR Trail in our matching running tights… Christmas gifts from Mom 🙂

Matching Tights

For the rest of the day I ate everything in sight and went to bed at 8pm!


Thanks for reading! Be sure to stop over to the main event-The Gettysburg Marathon!!

Em

Week 13: Gettysburg Marathon Training

Week 13

Thursday, March 19th, 2015: 8 Miles

Saturday, March 21st, 2015: 14.3 Miles

I began Week 13 with tightness in every muscle of my legs, so I took a few days off during the work week in order to recuperate for my long weekend runs. I did, however, replace my short runs with long walks with friends in order to stretch my leg muscles.

Thursday evening I jumped back into running and ended up completing my fastest 10k without even realizing it! Thank god for my ol’ faithful Nike+ SportsWatch for informing me 😉 I was also able to get all 8 miles in before the sun went down…

B4 Sun Down

…which is a first for the year 2015.

Runner or Photographer?

I took soooo many pics during Saturday’s long run. Since I had anticipated on completing my 20-miler the following Saturday, I really wanted to be able to enjoy my last long run in Baltimore, without feeling the need to focus solely on the finish line. I had originally set out to do 13 miles, but ended up completing 14 since it was such a nice day out.

I ran Downtown and up through Mount Vernon

Downtown Mount Vernon

…back down and over into Fells Point

Fells1

Fells2

…Around Harbor East

HarborEast

…Back to Locust Point to run through Silo Point

Silo

…and finish up at Fort McHenry

Fort1

Fort2

I told you I took a lot of pics 😉


Thanks for reading and please be sure to stop by next week for Week 14: Gettysburg Marathon Training to read all about my first 20-Miler!

Em

Week 12: Gettysburg Marathon Training

Week 12

Monday, March 9th, 2015: 5.02 Miles-Perfect Weather Conditions

Thursday, March 12th, 2015: 8 Miles

Friday, March 13th, 2015: 4.2 Miles

Sunday, March 15th, 2015: 18.4 Miles-Windy Conditions

The sunrise was fun while it lasted…

Daylight Savings Time came along on Sunday, March 3rd… which meant no more sunlight before work, so I switched back to running in the evenings, which played out well because the sun is starting to set later. Plus, the sunrise will creep back up to 6:30 a.m. in due time.

The weather finally broke on Monday and it was AMAZING! …clear skies and 55° made for perfect running weather. The best part was that I didn’t need to bundle up in heavy clothes anymore!

apparel 5 miles

…much like having zero ice on the pavement, the lack of winter clothing made my pace a bit quicker.

There were tons of runners out that evening, a majority wearing last year’s Baltimore Running Festival shirts, reminding me of brighter days ahead. The weather was so nice that I even went for a 5 mile walk afterwards with friends… Another plus about great weather is that I can count on walking with friends on my days off from running.

This evening made me realize how proud of myself I truly am for sticking with exercise throughout the entire winter. I state constantly that I chose the worst winter in Baltimore history to train for a marathon; however, the fact that I kept up with running in the cold made me feel invincible.

After taking two rest days in between, I was able to get 8 miles in on Thursday- I felt tired… Still, I was relieved that the weather was nice enough for me to be able to run outside and not have to run on a treadmill. The harbor water was finally melted and back to normal…

sunset 3

I also started to feel extreme tightness in my thighs & calves from training for so long- I can’t say I didn’t see that coming though.

Since my weekend run wasn’t scheduled until Sunday morning, I had anticipated on going directly out to happy hour after work on Friday; however, the weather app was calling for storms beginning at 8 p.m. and lasting until Saturday evening. Desiring to get in a quick run before being stuck inside for the next 24 hours, I headed out for a little over 4 miles.

Bringing the Gals to BMORE…

Since we already accidentally ran our first 18-miler in Westminster (Week 10: Gettysburg Marathon Training), the girls decided to head down to Baltimore for our 2nd 18-miler. During the week leading up to Sunday, I mapped out our route and, I have to say, I am quite surprised that the route ended up being so accurate! I had them running all over town- Started our first half running from Locust Point to Druid Hill Park

Druid Hill Park

Running back down & around through Fells Point, Pier 5 and finishing with a lap around Fort McHenry

Fells..Pier 5

Overall we covered 18.4 miles. I felt very different from the last 18-miler afterwards- No pains at all! …which actually turned out to be surprising being that it was crazy windy that day. The wind didn’t affect us during the first half, since we were in between tall buildings, but it really affected us towards the end when we were in the open areas of the Inner Harbor and Fort McHenry. Even our abs were sore the next day from bracing ourselves from the wind… I found it super funny that the temps finally started to warm up, but the wind made it 15° colder… We can’t catch a break! Again, worst winter ever to train for a marathon… but I’ll take it if this means that race day will be perfect 🙂

Good news is that we completed our run way earlier than our last 18-miler! (Maybe because the wind was pushing us along most of the time.) I also made a personal agreement with myself to take it easy during my upcoming week since my legs were becoming so tight.


Thanks for reading and please be sure to stop by next week for Week 13: Gettysburg Marathon Training!

Em

Week 11: Gettysburg Marathon Training

Week 11

Monday, March 2nd, 2015: 5.02 Miles

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015: 4 Miles-Treadmill

Saturday, March 7th, 2015: 12.02 Miles

When leaving work Monday evening, I really didn’t feel like running; however, I always like to complete a run on Mondays… just in case something comes up further along in the week. Within the first 30 seconds out the door, I felt so happy I talked myself into making it out. The run changed my mood entirely and what a difference it makes when there’s no ice on the ground! I ended up running super fast. In addition, the sunset was gorgeous that night and the harbor was still frozen over- Although the winter season is pretty harsh for runners, I can’t ever remember a summer night when the sunset is that beautiful… and all the snow made it even prettier!

sunset 1 sunset 2

Tuesday came with windy conditions so me and my electric blues headed to the gym straight from work…

gym

Good News: It ended up being my last treadmill run of the season!!

Bad News: The “Lady Golds” room was full so I had to run on one of the downstairs treadmills and for some reason I LOATHE the downstairs… I can’t even explain why! It’s just so crazy to me how the change in scenery, placement and lighting can mess with my mood when running on the treadmill… I also didn’t eat my typical afternoon snack, so by the time I arrived at the gym I was starving. I am a very cranky person when I’m hungraay.

That time you asked your friend to run with you just so you could talk her ear off about running the entire time…

I was only scheduled to run 12 miles on Saturday and the Westminster gals were all planning to use their at home treadmills, so I completed my long run in the city. My friend, Becky, recently signed up for the Gettysburg 10 Miler, so while she only anticipated her long run to be around 4-5 miles, I suggested we run the beginning together then split up… it worked out perfectly! We ran the first two miles together and then she headed back home.

By the time we split up, I was down the Baltimore Inner Harbor and I was literally the only one there- it was so creepy!

frozen harbor forzen harbor 2

frozen harbor 3

I felt tired that morning because I had been running at a quicker pace than I normally do during my long runs… I sometimes find that when I have a 11-12 miler scheduled, I try to rush it, which is a bad thing. 11-12 miles is still a pretty long distance still, but since I typically have to run much further on the weekends, I tend to classify 12 miles as being “short”… 12 miles is not short.

Switching my normal routine up, I ended my run at Fort McHenry since it wasn’t open to the public until 9 a.m…. I thought it was so cute that the geese were sitting out on the ice…

ducks

Even the geese have had enough of this weather!

Afterwards I rewarded myself with one of my favorite breakfasts from Sam’s Bagels- The Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company‘s Southern Pecan Coffee is the best! (Don’t worry… nachos are coming soon!)

Sams


Thanks for reading and please be sure to stop by next week for Week 12: Gettysburg Marathon Training!

Em

Week 10: Gettysburg Marathon Training

Week 10

Monday, February 23rd, 2015: 7.96 Miles-Icy Conditions

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015: 3.2 Miles

Thursday, February 26th, 2015: 4 Miles-Treadmill

Saturday, February 28th, 2015: 18.02 Miles-Trip to Westminster, MD

Week 10 began with me feeling a bit guilty about skipping over my 11-miler. By the time Monday came around, the snow began to melt but temperatures were still in the 20s. Many areas of the snow had turned into ice. Since I hadn’t completed a long run the previous weekend, I left the house Monday evening anticipating to run as close to 11 miles as I possibly could. I wanted to complete at least 9 to 10 Miles; however, what usually is my 9 mile route eventually turned into 7.5 miles… I had to skip some side routes, due to ice, and found myself pausing my Nike+ SportsWatch every time I had to come to a stop and walk over snow & ice…. Because of this, I ended up adding in some other side streets, towards the end, but the best I could do that night was 7.96 miles. The best part of my run definitely was when I ran down to the Baltimore Inner Harbor only to realize that it was completely iced over- I’ve lived in this city my entire life and cannot remember the last time I saw the water like this!

frozen harbor 1 frozen harbor 2

After resting for a day, I woke up Wednesday morning to go out for a 5k before work. Although I really prefer morning runs over evening runs after a full day of work, I was really tired Wednesday morning. The sunrise was still beautiful as always, but I just couldn’t get myself to go any further than a 5k… Isn’t it funny how, on some mornings, 16 miles can be an easy run and then some mornings a 5k can be difficult to run?

Thursday I went to the gym and ran 4 miles on the treadmill. That is all…

I’m so bitter about still having to run on the treadmill. I AM happy to say though- The New Years Resolutioners are finally gone! It was nice to having of the equipment to myself…. even though I did my same routine as always 😉

By the time Saturday rolled around, I was so excited to head up to Westminster, MD and meet up with my sister and two more gals running the Gettysburg Marathon. I was even more excited that we planned our long run on Saturday versus Sunday, because Saturday was the last day of February and I really wanted to add more miles within the month on Nike+. #RunnerProblems

The morning run began at a temperature of 10° F and only grew as warm as 18° F, making it my coldest long run yet. Around miles 12 to 13, I started feeling sharp pains on the outside of my thighs, which had been a first for me while running. I mentioned the pain to some of the other girls and they replied that they had felt the same also so I’m assuming it may have been due to the length of time we had been out in the crazy cold weather. My sister also mentioned that I may need to incorporate some lower body strength training into my routine as well.

The route was much different than my last Westminster run, but it was still very nice. This week we included some of the downtown/Main Street area, as well as the the airport, into our routine. I have to admit- It’s nice to not have any idea where you’re at. Every turn is a surprise! The other three girls are pretty familiar with the area, so during most of the run they just direct me where to go… but when running 4+ days a week, for 18 weeks straight, a change of scenery is so nice to have…

We were only suppose to complete 17 miles that day; however, my sister estimated the miles incorrectly on the map and we ended up getting in a little over 18 miles! Although it was tiring, I was so proud of us. My sister kept apologizing but we would have eventually had to run 18 miles anyway, right? After all, as much as we don’t like to admit to it, we are training to run 26.2 miles.

Water jugs froze shut and I almost went through an entire pack of tissues to blow my nose, but we got it done…

Westminster1 westminster2

Here’s our happy smiles once finally back at our cars…

westminster gals


Thanks for reading and please be sure to stop by next week for Week 11: Gettysburg Marathon Training!

Em