Thatcher Park Trail Festival 10k Race Recap 8/25/19

My first trail race was a half marathon. Yes, chocolate was involved. Of course. My next trail race? A 5k. Kind of on a whim, the day after a long run, mostly because it was a beautiful day.

The next year I was getting close to my 18 mile road race, and I didn’t want to do a trail race so close to that race; there also was no longer a 5k option.

This year there are no big goal races on the horizon. Yet. The weather was beautiful again. Another friend would also be there. I signed up. I’ve been running trails here and there all summer with friends, but not really a lot — rarely more than once a week, and not every week.

Skirt Meetup

Getting There & Hanging Out
It’s a bit over 30 minutes to get to Thatcher Park so I arrived at 7:30, an hour before the race. I parked, grabbed my bag, thanked the weather Gods for the beautiful weather, and started walking over to packet pick up, just a short distance away. I chatted with a couple of runners doing the 50k (30 mile) option.

I quickly ran into someone I knew by the bathrooms, but she had just finished with them and I needed to use them. We chatted a bit before parting ways. I picked up my packet, which included my parking ticket (it’s $6 to park), and then had to walk back to the car to put the parking ticket in the car.

I left my bag in the pavilion, which is one of the things I love about this race, that you don’t have to continually go back and forth to your car if you have stuff you need with you before the race, although there is no official bag drop because it’s a pretty low key race, as trail races tend to be.

I ran into another friend, a fellow Skirt Sports Ambassador, but I was waiting on a third friend (another Skirt Sports Ambassador). We were just about to take our selfie when she finally appeared so we were able to get the three of us together.

I’d downloaded a mediation and something to listen to as I walked around before the race, knowing I’d be there early as usual, but I actually never had time.

I was glad to have company during the long stretches we didn’t see anyone . . . or a flag

The weather & dressing
There was a lot of hot, humid weather lately, but the morning started out a cool mid 50F temp, so I really waffled on what to wear. The park is also a higher elevation, so it’s always cool there.

I chose Skirt Sports Supergirl Tank and Lioness Skirt. I really debated about wearing the long sleeve Cool It Top, since that’s what I’ve been running trails in all summer. I needed the extra pockets in my Supergirl Tank for my water bottles, though.

I had never worn the Lioness Skirt for a race, or anything much over 4 miles. I’d never worn that particular Lioness Skirt, either. Turned out it was the perfect outfit for me, for this day, for this race.

Plenty of roots

My Race Plan
2 simple goals:

  • Finish
  • Don’t fall

So how’d that work for me?

  1. Mile 1: 12:15. Significantly faster than the first mile of the 5k two years ago, and basically the same route.
  2. Mile 2: 18:44. Significantly slower than the second mile of the 5k two years ago. My bad for not looking at the elevation chart. I thought it would be somewhat flat like the 5k. It was not. The largest hill in the 5k was 66 ft. This mile had a hill that was 154 ft — which I know doesn’t sound like much, but throw in lots of rocks, roots, and mud, and it was tough! I ran with one of my Skirt Sports Ambassdor friends here for a while, but eventually she took off. I decided right here to make it a fun run and I stopped to take a lot of photos.
  3. Mile 3: 16:07. I believe this is where my friend caught up with me; she’d started slightly behind me, but she was racing. Although she agreed to stop and take a photo at Hang Glide Cliff here. This was an out and back to Hang Glide Cliff, and it seemed to go on forever.
  4. Mile 4: 14:05. This was a relatively flat mile (only a 66 ft hill, LOL!), with some wider paths, but still plenty of mud, rocks, and roots. It wasn’t really a super muddy race, but there were plenty of mud pits to go around — or through, I’m guessing, if you’re really into trails. We mostly went around.
  5. Mile 5: 14:42. This mile had a fairly good net drop, and yet we slowed down. Not sure why. Probably because we were getting tired! We traded on and off being in front. There was also some very narrow single track here.
  6. Mile 6: 12:03. Headed back to the finish, mostly just grass, so I was able to pick up some speed. It might have been faster if I hadn’t kept going in the wrong direction towards the very end (luckily my friend kept correcting me).
  7. Last .33: 10:53. Sort of sprinting to the end.
Mostly dry trails, except for the multiple mud pits

1:31:37 — Official Time
14:45 Average Pace
76 out of 82

Yes, it tasted as good as it looked!

Was the race well run?
If you’re into trail running, this is an awesome little festival. There are four distances:

  • 10k
  • Half Marathon
  • Marathon
  • 50k
The lovely Hang Glide Cliff. Yes, Hang Gliders take off from here though I haven’t seen it!

The first time I ran the 5k I also volunteered after — there’s a really nice spread at the aid stations. They ask you when you register what your projected finish time is. This was my first trail 10k (although not my first trail race), so I took a guess and was almost right — considering I wasn’t expecting so many hills, I guess I guessed well.

I don’t know why they want to know your estimated finish time. Since there are people running anywhere from 10k to 50k, the 10k runners can take their time if they want to. One woman did, indeed, walk it — slowly, but she is older than me and coming back from battling Lyme disease. My hat’s off to her! She always volunteers at races, too.

All the races start together. The first half marathoner finished just shortly after my friend and I finished the 10k . . . The trails are extremely well marked — there are some long distances where you won’t see any flags, but seriously, I didn’t go wrong until the very end (apparently I did something similar at the 5k, too).

You used to get socks; this year we got a picnic blanket that folds up into its own little case. Personally I prefer the socks, because they’re useful (although not really as running socks, but I often wear them in the fall when walking the dogs).

There’s a really nice spread afterwards, too. I stayed this year, since I had some friends to hang out with. All sorts of different sandwiches (including vegetarian and vegan options). Chips, fruit, bread, peanut butter (some of that also available for pre-race fueling). This year there was a cake from Bountiful Bread, one of the sponsors, and it was worth every calorific bite — even if I only ran 10k!

I debated about those sunglasses. I didn’t need them much, but was glad I had them in the end.

Final Thoughts
I wouldn’t run this race in bad weather, but I’ve been blessed with great weather the two times I have run it. I wasn’t that inspired by the 5k course, but I have to say that even though the 10k was much tougher, it was also much more scenic. It’s a pretty park and there were runners who came from my home town, over an hour away — it’s worth it, I promise you!

There are more trail races here around Halloween — I’ve always wanted to do one of them, but the weather is almost always bad. I’m a fair weather trail runner (except for my trail half, which was in WA state and drizzling and cool for most of the race). Maybe 2019 will be the year for the Squirrely Six!


Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup


Dodge the Deer 5k Race Recap 6/23/19

I have only run three trail races. My first was a half marathon — go big or go home, right? Dodge the Deer, a very family-oriented day  out at a local park with our local running group, Albany Running Exchange, includes a couple of kiddy races and a trail 5k and has been on my radar a long time.

Historically it’s been in April, which historically is not-so-great weather in these parts. I am a fair weather trail runner, even if my trail half was cool, rainy, and muddy (you can read about it here).

However, Sunday was a gorgeous day. There is also a cookout/potluck following the race. I tried to convince a few friends to go, but didn’t have any luck. Other friends that might have gone were out of town. So I headed out by myself — the first time in a long time that I went to a race without knowing that someone I knew would also be there.

I would have gotten the race socks (from past years) if they had had my size; you could choose one thing from any of these — I like that!

Packet Pickup
If I’d registered before it closed online, I could have saved $5, oh well. I registered day of, which meant getting there really early — like an hour and a half before the race. The race is in a nice park, though, and it was a beautiful day. Getting there so early meant I got parking close to the activities and could go back and forth multiple times.

I was surprised I could pay with a credit card; I’d expected to have to pay cash. I was also surprised that despite day-of registration, I was still able to pick out one piece of swag from the variety they had (mostly from old races). I wanted to get the race socks, but they were only L & XL — so I got ARE socks (the running group that puts this race on) instead.

The Famous Dodge the Deer — even being very BOTP I was able to outrun him

I went back & forth to the real bathrooms a bunch of times (because I was there so early and so well hydrated). I also sat in the shade on a picnic bench listening to “Marathon Woman”, our running group’s next book club (I use that term loosely) pick.

I chatted with a couple with their dog there, a woman who had driven in 2 hours from MA to run this race — she’s the one I asked to take my photo before the race — and someone I recognized from our Wed night group runs.

It wasn’t super technical, but there were still plenty of roots out there! And shade, thankfully.

My Race Plan
Have fun. Stay uninjured. That’s all she wrote. Happy to say I met my goals. Despite the fact that my Garmin and the official race results tallied almost perfectly, the mile splits were way off. Yes, your results included your mile splits — a nice touch. So I’m reporting them with O for Official time and G for my Garmin time.

So how’d that work for me?

  1. Mile 1: 11:40 O/11:16 G. Very weird. There’s no mat to cross, but there is a Start sign and a line on the path. Did I start my watch too early? Too late? Just weird. The first mile felt pretty good.
  2. Mile 2: 11:06 O/11:33 G. I was definitely surprised by my time the first mile. I’m usually pretty darn slow on trails. Despite the nice shady paths, I was already feeling tired!
  3. Mile 3: 12:45 O/12:13 G. I am still running without walk breaks, except for a short one at the end of each mile to drink water (which I definitely needed with the 10 am start). I thought to myself “don’t walk in the middle of this mile” but I think you can guess what happened.
  4. Last .14: 9:49 G. I was, quite literally, neck and neck with this older woman coming into the finish chute. Which helped me to push faster. She was 72, it turned out, and I didn’t want her beating me! We crossed at the same exact time.

36:26 — Official Time (36:25 Garmin)
11:44 — Average Pace (11:37 Garmin)
4 out of 7? in my AG
196 out of 236 runners

I’ve run one trail half (which was considerably slower and also much more difficult), and one other trail 5k a couple of years ago. And that one was 42:25. 6 minutes slower!

I don’t really remember if the course at my first trail 5k was that much tougher, but I don’t think it was. It was even a cooler day, I remember that distinctly! I had run a long run (maybe 9 miles?) the day before. I had no idea what that finish time was going into this race, so a much faster finish time was a pleasant surprise.

I wasn’t at all surprised to find myself so far to the BOTP, but was pleasantly surprised to find myself in the middle of the pack for my age group. I think there was about 3 minutes between me and the woman who placed third, so even without that extra walk break the last mile I don’t think I would have placed. No problem, I was extremely surprised to see I came in fourth — when I saw that I actually wondered if there were only four women in my AG, LOL!

Actually, the person who won my AG had a 23:46 time — there are some speedy older trail runners out there!

Even with my Cool It Skirt and towel, and the shade, it was a hot race!

The weather & dressing
A late 10 am start and temps already hovering around 70, it was a hot one even with all the shade. Good practice for my Fourth of July race, which will most likely have similar conditions (but start a little earlier).

There just has to be a story behind this costume, although I never got it. Apparently he is the Race Director’s father.

I wore my Cool It Skirt and Racecation Tank from Skirt Sports. I also wore my cooling scarf, which this time I dosed more thoroughly with water beforehand (last race I didn’t really get it wet enough).

Despite the claims of a very non-technical trail, I  wore my Saucony Peregrines and I’m glad I did. I am willing to bet you that my finish time would have been slower had I worn my regular running shoes.

Was the race well run?
This is such a great family-friendly event. Low key as most trail races are. Races for the kids. I had fun cheering them on as I was sitting on the picnic table before my race! Some of the kids were seriously speedy, too, but they were all so cute.

I had never been to this park but had no trouble finding the race. There was no one directing parking, but it seemed to work out okay. There are real bathrooms (which I always love). Registration was easy, I was happy I could use a credit card, results were posted quickly, there was a nice spread afterwards — and a cookout I didn’t stay for.

The one bone I have to pick is with the description of the trails:

The Dodge the Deer 5K (and Kids Races) are on the safest and most enjoyable trails around. It’s basically an unpaved road with easy footing and no hills. If you think of rocks, roots, and other gnarly things when you think of trail running – you’re thinking of places that aren’t Schodack Island State Park. 🙂

Okay, I guess they weren’t that technical because normally my trail running pace is a lot slower. Still, there were plenty of roots and while it wasn’t super hilly, it definitely wasn’t completely flat either — I guess it was flat as trail races go. I wasn’t the only person who thought this.

One last bone: I don’t really think there’s anything they can do about this, but several people were complaining that there were no water stops. Where would you have put them? I always carry water with me, and I’d even remembered to freeze half the night before so I had cool water the whole race. It might be nice to mention on the Website that there will be no water available during the race, though.

Would I run this race again? If the weather is nice, I absolutely would.


Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup


Solo not so Solo running: 6/17-23 WRD

We’re still getting plenty of rain — it rained almost every day this week (except today) but boy with the arrival of Summer it sure warmed up in a hurry. Another good week of running, and even a short trail race thrown in today for fun. The first time in many years that I headed out to knowing no one, but I still managed to find someone I knew slightly and chat with a variety of people at this family friendly race — finally got to try out Dodge the Deer.


Joining Kim @ Kimrunsonthefly and Deborah @ Confessionsofamotherrunner and just sharing running, “training”, and staying active.


And linking up with Jenn @ Runswithpugs, Brandi @ Funnerrunner, Anna Louise @ Graciouswarriorprincess, Briana @ Matsmilesmedals, Meghan @ Meghanonthemove, and Elizabeth @ Trainwithbainfor RIOTS(running is our therapy)

Workouts update

  • Monday:  Back Yoga (30 min), 4 Miles Easy, PB Toning (20 min)
  • Tuesday:  Yoga (30 min), took mom to dr’s tests
  • Wednesday: 3 miles easy with 7 x 20 sec strides, Yoga (40 min)
  • Thursday: Dogwalk, Yoga (45 min), PB ST (10 min)
  • Friday: 5 mile long-ish run
  • Saturday: Dogwalk, Yoga (45 min)
  • Sunday: Dodge the Deer 5k, Yoga (30 min), hopefully some ST, I need it . . .

Mileage: 15.1 (-3.1)

JY = Jasyoga
PB = Killer B
TM = Treadmill
YFR = Yoga for Runners*
WU = warmup
CD = cooldown
SB = Stationary Bike
YFPR = Yoga for Pain Relief
YTU = Yoga Tune Up Lower Body*

*Disclaimer: Amazon affiliate links; I will make a small amount of money if you buy through these links

Running Updates

Run past here many times, but first time I really paused to look at the pretty scene

Another beautiful Monday! What’s up with that? Don’t get too jealous, it poured on Sunday, and Tuesday is supposed to be rainy and I have a long day in the car. Tackled the long hill near my neighborhood again. Downhill going out, uphill coming back. There were multiple stops for crossing the road, traffic lights, and trying to get photos of the hill. All in all a nice strong run though.

Stretching with chair pose post run

Tuesday was predictably exhausting, so I’d already decided to give myself grace and not run if I didn’t feel like it. Except I did! And so, so happy that I did. I was trying to decide whether or not to do hill repeats, or 400s, but didn’t really feel like pushing hard.

I decided instead to do an easy run through my neighborhood, tackling multiple small hills, then end with strides. It was a really strong run for me and happy for the cloud cover that kept things relatively cool (and a nice little compliment I share below).

Looks so pretty, but darn sun made it so humid

In an effort to miss the cool rain, I waited to long to get out there. The first 3 miles were still overcast and strong and consistent. The last 2 miles were consistent, too, actually — but a lot slower. The humidity had risen and the sun was trying to peak out. Happy that I had decided on just 5 because I was ready to be done. Shoulda gotten out earlier & gotten wet!

Through the nice shady trails at Dodge the Deer

I tried to convince friends to come to this trail race with me, but many were traveling or had prior plans. I’ll recap it in a while, but suffice it to say that it was a beautiful day to race (if a tad late start at 10 am on a warm day), and even though I went knowing no one, I still found people to chat with. Runners are the best!

Favorites of the week
So I’m doing my strides in front of my house, which is at the top of a small hill — it may be cheating but I enjoy it. A woman was walking by, and she was like “didn’t you just run by me?”.

So I said yes, and we got to chatting. Talking about running (which she doesn’t although she wants to, my guess is she’s quite a few years older than me), dogs, cats, etc. As we parted she told me how great I looked and that I didn’t look a day over 40 — I happen to be 57. I guess she couldn’t see the gray hair under the visor!

But wait, there’s more! Later when I was walking the dogs, I saw what I believe to be her house — I asked which house she came from. That’s the house that, many years ago, I’d been walking the dogs when someone drove away, then backed up . . . and asked me not to let my dogs go on his lawn in the future; although they actually hadn’t done anything.

Apparently they’d had a dog at one time, but he doesn’t want another one. She was so nice . . . he so wasn’t!

Do you go to races alone a lot, or do you always go in a group?

Would you do hill repeats and speed work if you weren’t seriously training for something? 

Last compliment you got: and go __________? 

Thatcher Trail Festival 5k Race Recap 8/27/17

I had had my eye on the 5k in the Thatcher Park Trail Running Festival for months — but I only wanted to run it if the weather was nice. Especially since I ran 9 miles the day before the race.


A great day and place to run!
And lucky me, it was just a beautiful weekend to run. A brief word about the scenic quality: quite a bit of the race also takes place on singletrack through dense woods (some of it on the Long Path), and that’s not quite as pretty to me.

A couple of friends came to cheer me in and we all volunteered afterward, too. This is kind of a long recap for a mere 5k, but I talk a bit about volunteering and the difference between trail runners and road runners, too.


Getting There & Hanging Out
I headed out bright and early on Sunday morning to Thatcher Park, which is a bit over 30 minutes from our home. We walked around there about six weeks previously with the dogs, which gave me a little idea of the lay of the land (it’s a larger park with many different parking areas) and what I might expect from running a trail race there.

I got there when I expected to, around 7:30 (the race starts at 8:30), and the way to the parking lot was well marked and the volunteers were on hand to show you where to park.

Packet Pickup was easy peasy and there are real bathrooms right by the pavilion — always a treat.

I had thought I’d walk back to my car to get my stuff, but when I saw lots of runners toting bags, I decided to just take it with me, and I left it in the pavilion. I also attended the volunteer meeting, since I was volunteering after the race, and met the woman I’d be manning the aid station with.


Great views
The weather & dressing
After a series of hot, humid days, some beautiful weather blew in midweek and it was a gorgeous day for a race — although a bit chilly in the morning, and I had a throaway sweatshirt on; I didn’t have to throw it away, either, as I just left it with my bag in the pavilion.


I wore a Skirtsports Cascade skirt and Exhale Bra Top. While it was cool enough when I arrived, but 8:30 it was getting warmer, and this outfit worked out great.

My Race Plan
I had run 9 miles the day before, so this was my recovery run and I seriously did not have a plan. But Rachel @ Runningonhappy was whispering in my ear, so I did a .9 mile warmup run (to make it an even 4 miles for the day).

My goal was simply to finish injury free.

Almost immediate bottleneck


So how’d that work for me?

  1. Mile 1: 13:42. You start out on the grass, a little on a paved path as you turn (although you could still run on grass if you wanted to), and there was an immediate bottleneck getting through some trees where it came to a complete standstill. Luckily, I wasn’t racing. Most of the first mile was fairly non-techinal, open, and on grass with some nice views as you come towards Hailes Cave (where I would be manning the aid station later).
  2. Mile 2: 15:17. Much of this mile was on very technical singletrack through the woods — lots of roots and rocks and I walked a great deal. There were also several portions with mud the width of the path, which I wasn’t counting on at all due to our dry week.
  3. Mile 3: 12:40. Coming out of the woods — finally! — and I felt like I could run again. Some grass, some gravel, but far fewer roots and rocks. I almost missed the slight turn towards the left at the end — it was marked well, but if the girl in front of me hadn’t turned, I might have kept going straight.
  4. Last .08: 9:15. In that last little bit I was really trying to beat the same girl that helped me not miss that last turn. I saw some of my running buddies as I came into the finish chute, and in the end, I did manage to beat her. She was about 15 years younger than me; yes, that made me happy. And I think I can also credit her with that last mile being the fastest — nothing like a little healthy competition!

Nicer views than most road races

42:25 — Official Time
13:40 Average Pace

Was the race well run?
Extremely.  Everything was well marked, although sometimes in the woods there was a long time between flags and since I was mostly by myself, I’d begin to wonder if I was going the wrong way.

There’s also a club day via a local running club. They do games (I was out volunteering) and grill hot dogs and hamburgers. Despite the fact that we didn’t get there until 1:30, after our volunteering stint was done, they were still grilling hot dogs and hamburgers (but the rest of the pickings were kind of slim).

They thought of pretty much everything

A word about volunteering
Running buddy J decided to volunteer at the race since the forecast was good and they were still looking for volunteers. Since I’d never volunteered, either, I decided I’d sign up too. The 5k wasn’t going to take long; there’s a 10k, 15, half and full marathon, and 50k too! All races start at the same time, so obviously some runners were out there for many hours.

Unfortunately my friend and I got different assignments, but she had another friend with her, which made me happy, and I was with a mother and her son at an aid station. I won’t lie: because of the various races and the way runners spread out, there was a lot of down time and it was pretty boring at times. On the other hand, the runners doing the longer races often stopped to chat for a bit, which was fun.

Runners & volunteers got socks instead of tees
Trail races are a very different beast than road races. Runners are much more likely to do things like stop and chat you up as you refill their water bottles or whatever else they need; unlike road racers who are usually just focused on finishing.

I did, however, nosh a bit too much on the goodies at the table. They weren’t even that great, I’d brought my own snacks, but three hours of mostly just standing around with nothing to do . . .

Anyway, yes, I would volunteer again. And if the weather is nice, I’d run again. In fact, if the weather’s nice, I have plans for a trail race the end of October.

I’m linking up with with MCM Mama Runs, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and My No Guilt Life for the Tuesdays on the Run linkup.


This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup


5 Beliefs I’ve Conquered


One of the most amazing things about running is the way it builds your confidence. How it teaches you that you can do hard things; things you never thought you could do. I still remember that I couldn’t believe I could run a mile — me! The girl who avoided running if at all possible growing up.


Today I am joining up with the  Friday Five 2.0  from Fairytales & Fitness and Rachel @ Running on Happy and sharing five beliefs running has helped me conquer.

And faster in the heat than I thought I could be

I can’t run hard in heat
I have believed this for years. And I have hot half after hot half that just reinforced that belief.

Until I ran Craft Classic Phoenix (read about it here). While I didn’t PR that particular race, it was the best I’d ever run in the heat . . . at that point.

At least this day, I conquered the humidity for a PR

I can’t PR in the heat and humidity
After running Craft Classic Phoenix, I just assumed that it was the dry heat in Phoenix that helped me run so well, even on a very hilly course. In fact, I assumed that Panama City Beach wouldn’t be a PR, because FL is always humid, right? Wrong! I got lucky and the weather was just right for that race and it was flat.

Going into the Best Damn Race New Orleans, I trained hard, but assumed it wouldn’t be a PR — despite the flat course, it was forecast to be hot and humid. As I kept telling my coach, Rachel @ Runningonhappy, I suck at humidity.

Wrong! Or at least wrong for me that day. And it was definitely hot & humid! Read that race review here.

You had me at chocolate . . .

I can’t run a trail half marathon
I’ve done a few races with just a portion on trails — dry, non technical trails for the most part. I run on trails very occasionally. So when I got the idea into my head to run a trail half marathon — with very little time to actually train on trails — yeah, it was scary. But . . . chocolate.

Some of my long training runs had me running at a pace that would mean finishing with the time limit questionable, and boy, did I question myself. Luckily, those runs were also on very hot days, and the one saving grace was that I picked a trail half near Seattle — heat would not be a factor; but mud would be. It was called Mud and Chocolate after all (read about it here).

I’m pretty sure most of my halfs will be road races, but if I find a trail race that calls to me, I wouldn’t hesitate to sign up for another one.

I can’t run a race relying on the aid stations only
I have run far too many races where aid stations would out of something, and often that ended up derailing my race. I need my hydration!

I won’t lie: the first time I ran a half relying on the aid stations, it was because I’d forgotten my water bottle. I felt so light! So free! Although I have done it since, most of the time, I really prefer to carry my own water. And now I prefer to carry it in my hydration vest (read about that here).

I can’t run a good race at elevation
Running in Sedona before Craft Classic Phoenix was my first introduction to running at elevation. Sedona is about 4000 feet. It was also trails. And hilly. It was hard, but so fun! The race itself was in Phoenix, though, and that is just a mere 1000 feet (although still higher than my 300 feet above sea level home city).

So when the Utah Valley Half Marathon offered me a free race entry, I won’t lie, the thought of starting a race at about 5000 feet was daunting. But hey, I’d get to visit Utah (I had never been), meet up with new bloggers, and the race was mostly downhill.

The race was tough, but somehow I managed to PR the mostly (but not completely) downhill course. The elevation made it seem a lot harder than I think it actually was.

The only way to grow is to challenge yourself.
— Ashley Tisdale

Try it, you’ll like it
I am not an adrenaline junkie and I tend to be rather cautious about most things. Just the fact that I ran 3 halfs in 3 months was definitely more of a challenge than I usually take on! Heck, essentially I’ve run 5 halfs in 6 months if you go back to October of 2016.

I will probably always have to battle with myself over things that scare me, and sometimes I won’t win, but I do know that I am glad that I challenged these five beliefs.

Once you just open yourself up and try, win or lose, your world becomes a larger place.
–Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy

So let me know in the comments:

What beliefs have you challenged (doesn’t have to be running-related)?

How did challenging those beliefs help you grow?

What’s your next big challenge?

5 Things that got me through . . .


. . .  My first trail race

I love you free spirits who just go out and run. I’m a girl scout; I believe in preparation! Maybe that’s why I’m not usually super nervous before a race. I was a little nervous before this past half (read the recap here), but chatting with Skirtsisters before the start took my mind off of it.


Today I am joining up with the  Friday Five 2.0  from Fairytales & Fitness and Rachel @ Running on Happy and sharing five things that helped me run a successful first trail half.

Still gushing over the hydration pack

Hydration Pack
This is obviously beating a dead horse, since I devoted last week’s Friday Five (read it here) to the subject. Most runners didn’t seem to be carrying water at all. And yes, it was a very chilly day. I need my hydration and I just love my hydration pack and am glad I finally tried one! And then another . . .

A similar one from Amazon (affiliate link) here.

They were so cute before they got all muddy!

Dirty Girl Gaiters
Do you need gaiters to run a trail race? Of course not. Will they help? Obviously, I think they do.

Where I ran in training had several very sandy patches — like running in the unpacked sand on a beach. I would get home and empty what felt like the entire trail from my shoes. My feet would be dirty despite my socks.

The first time I ran with gaiters only a tiny trickle of sand needed to be drained from my shoes. I was immediately sold.

Gaiters cover the bottom of your legs and part of your shoes, and their purpose is to keep all that trail debris out of your shoes. Unfortunately, since I had to return my trail shoes, I now have to dig out the velcro (wherever that might be) to attach gaiters to my new trail shoes (when I buy them).

The good news is that they since they send along more than enough, I don’t have to buy new velcro — assuming I can find the leftovers.

You can buy your Dirty Girl Gaiters (not an affiliate link, although they are available on Amazon) here.

Love these compression socks!

Mudgear Compression Socks
I think I may have found the perfect cold weather compression socks. One of the reasons I run in compression sleeves instead of compression socks is I hate that tightness around my toes — it feels like they’re being squished together — and the fact that there’s so little padding.

Mudgear targets the OCR and Tough Mudder crowds. It’s mildly compressive around your lower legs, but the feet are regular socks and nicely padded. I bought a medium, but I will say that they actually felt a bit too loose around my toes. I wonder if the small might be a better fit for me?

They got wet . . . again, and again, and again . . . yet they would dry out between dunkings and I didn’t get blisters.

Get your Mudgear Compression socks from Amazon (affiliate link) here

No, of course, this is not something you need for a trail race. If I hadn’t taped both knees, though, there might have been a lot more pain, a lot more walking, and it might even have derailed my UT half. Rocktape rocks; no joke!

You can buy Rocktape (Amazon Affiliate link) here.

Honeystinger Waffles
My race started at 9 am. We left at 7:30 because it’s a half hour drive and we knew parking would be limited (we could have left a little later). I ate my normal prerace breakfast of overnight oats at my usual time, around 6 am.

I know lots of runners run half marathons on very little fuel. What can I say, I like to eat, and I know that with 3 hours between breakfast and the start of the race, I needed a little somthin’ somethin’ — Honeystinger Waffle to the rescue!

You can buy them here (I’m a Honeystinger Ambassador, but I don’t make any money off of your purchase — just sharing the love here).

So let me know in the comments:

Do you need a prerace snack if breakfast was several hours prior?

Have you ever attempted a race that pushed you outside your comfort zone — if yes, which one and why?

Would you try a tough mudder or OCR race (me: no thank you! The trail race was enough tough mud for me!)?

Disclaimer: I am an Ambassador for both Skirtsports and Honeystinger. I make no money from the links in this post, and I was not provided any items for free. The opinions expressed in this post are my own.

5 Reasons I Love a Hydration Vest

When it comes with hydrating during a race, I think I’ve almost tried it all. I wrote about the first five ways I’ve tried hydrating here. At one time or another they were all my favorites. But then something about them annoyed me, and I moved on.

My most recent half marathon was a trail race, and there was only one aid station for each 4+ mile loop. Maybe you can run without water for 4+ miles, but I knew I needed something more.



Today I am joining up with the  Friday Five 2.0  from Fairytales & Fitness and Rachel @ Running on Happy to talk about 5 reasons I love my hydration pack.

I can carry more water
Like way more water. And it really helped me in training for my trail half, as I ended up running on some very hot days. There were times I had about 50 ounces of water in the bladder; the most I can carry with a handheld bottle is 20 ounces, and the most I’ve carried with a fuelbelt was thirty.

I can put ice cubes in to keep the water cool
It is much easier to put ice cubes into than water bottles due to the larger opening.

The only drawback is the water in the drinking tube will heat up because it’s exposed to the elements, so sometimes you’ll get a little warm water until you reach the water from the bladder.

Apparently some people keep their bladder half filled in the freezer, which also helps to kill bacteria (darn things are difficult to dry out, I found out) — I didn’t try this, and I rarely have a whole lot of room in my freezers anyway.

I never had to stop at an aid station at all

It feels lighter
To me it feels much, much lighter than any other way I’ve tried to carry water. Not everyone feels that way — I chatted with a friend who tried one and to her it felt heavy.

It frees up some space in my pockets
I am able to put my phone in the zippered pocket in back. And a small first aid kit. No water bottles in my pockets.

I have plenty of space for food in my pockets!

It frees up my arms
One of my big problems with both a fuel belt and a handheld bottle, although for years I happily used both, is that it effects my arm swing. The bottles on the fuel belt always seemed to get in my the way of my arms, and of course carrying a bottle in your hand definitely effects your arm swing.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one who liked it — Bandit kept photobombing me!

So let me know in the comments:

Favorite way to hydrate during a race?

Could you race 4+ miles before an aid stop?

Do you ever find yourself running out of pocket space? No matter how many pockets I have, it never seems to be enough!