Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My Next Race: Cooper Norcross Run the Bridge 10K

Hey!  I have missed you guys!  It's been another short hiatus here at Run With No Regrets, but as always, it's for good reason! 

PE Exam Almost Here!

I mentioned in my Fall Plans post that I'm preparing for my Professional Engineering exam.  And let me tell you, that takes up a TON of time.  I am constantly reading over concepts, working on practice problems and exams, and organizing my notes.  It's an open book exam, so you're allowed to bring everything but the kitchen sink! It's coming up on October 24, so I'm getting to crunch time!  My emotions right now are all over the place:  from intense stress (with the headache to match), to motivation, to complete hopelessness...there's never enough time to do everything I need to do!

BUT, I'm doing my best to stay strong and keep a positive attitude.  This exam means a lot to me and no matter what happens, I don't want to say I went into it unprepared.  So for that reason, I won't be blogging much until that monkey is off my back!

Just a handful of all my study materials! 
Workout Progress

In my last post I talked about the types of workouts I want to do since I'm done half marathon training.  Well, it hasn't been going exactly to plan.  I'm still doing lunchtime cardio kickboxing 1-2 times a week, but my running on the weekends has been nonexistent.  I am doing more yoga though (and still hurting from Saturday!), and I'm looking to squeeze in a run or 2 during the week at lunch. I can really tell that I'm losing my overall strength and flexibility, yuck!

Getting ready for yoga

My First Guest Post!  

I am so excited to share that I have written my very first guest post!  One of the things that I love about blogging is the opportunity to connect with other bloggers who are so kind and helpful.  I have been blog friends with Amanda from Eat Hard Work Hard for awhile now, and I jumped at the opportunity to write for her while she's away.

Please check out my post on Why You Need a Dietitian over at her blog!  When my time frees up, I will be working on writing more posts along this vein; providing healthy tips based on my experiences! 

City Fit Girls Ambassadorship

For the past few months I've been a City Fit Girls Ambassador and it's been an AMAZING experience.  I've met some very cool young ladies who are passionate about health and fitness, and it's been such an encouraging experience as we motivate and encourage each other on Instagram and at events. The FitRetreat in August was a blast, and now we've even got our own apparel

Well now I'm pleased to announce that the Ambassador Program is open again!  While originally based in Philly, City Fit Girls is nationwide!  Check out the website and apply!  Any questions, just ask! 

I feel like I'm part of a movement!   Once my schedule opens up, I look forward to joining in on the CFG weekly group runs.  I never run with girls so I'm really excited about it!  

Run the Bridge 10K

Finally I'm getting to the main event, the Run the Bridge 10K.  I've just signed up for this race taking place on November 2, my 3rd attempt at running a 10K (I have had a bit of a 10K curse...don't ask!)  The race goes across the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, so it should be pretty intense!  I'm trying to get a few friends to join me.

Since I've never run a 10K I don't feel any pressure to finish within a certain time.  I'm starting to go for short runs at lunch during the week; it was great to slap on my Nike+ watch again after so long! Hopefully I can do a decent job at the race!  Any tips for running a successful 10K?

First real run post-half marathon!

Well, I'm glad I was able to check in briefly.  Hope everything is great in your world!  Tell me what's been going on! 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Life After the Half Marathon: What's Next?

Hey there!  It's the start of another week...why can't the weekends last a little bit longer?  Hopefully you were able to make the most of it.  

Now that the Rock and Roll Philly Half Marathon is over, I am trying to figure out what the heck to do with my life when it comes to running and fitness!  Training for the race brought so much structure to my fitness life and kept me consistent.  I'm actually sad that it's all over.   Now that I don't have a training plan, what do I do to keep in running shape?

Getting Back to Basics

For me, it's all about having the right balance.  Being "injury-prone", it is essential that I make sure that I'm doing the right things to keep my body strong, healthy, and in balance.  It's important not to focus on one area too much while neglecting others.  


While it would be awesome to keep up a 3-4 day a week running schedule, it's just not possible for me right now.  I've been a Saturday morning runner for ages, but when I was training I was surprised to learn how much I enjoy running on Sundays.  I'd like to keep doing longer runs on Saturdays  and have 2-4 mile runs on Sundays.  Running during the week is just not an option for me until this exam is over!  


This is definitely an area that I need to work on.  I have so many exercises from my running coach and physical therapists that I could write a book!  I plan to get back to using the Nike Training Club app on my phone and following some of the 15 or 30 minute workouts.  Not only do I want to work on my lower body (squats and lunges anyone?), I want to start adding some weights.  I'm thinking of squeezing this in on mornings before work every couple of days.  I did 10 push ups Monday morning and it was a struggle...not good!  


I love yoga!  Since focusing on running these past few months,  I have only practiced a handful of times, which really makes me sad!  With all of the stress of studying for the PE, I definitely need yoga back in my life!  Not to mention yoga is great for core strength, flexibility, and balance.  I'm hoping to get back to those 10:30 am classes at the studio on Sundays, and possibly do one half hour class at home on during the week.  

Upcoming Races?  

While not the cheapest way, the best way for me to stay motivated to run is to sign up for a race.  So I am thinking about what kind of races I want to do in the next few months.  Here are some of the events I'm pondering:  

Workouts for the Week:

Monday 9/22:  The day after the half marathon: Are you kidding?  Rest! My whole body was aching!  Hips, glutes, calves, hamstrings, FEET!  

Tuesday 9/23:  Another day of rest.  Things felt a lot better but I knew I'd be back to normal by Wednesday.  

Wednesday 9/24:  Core and More Class.  It was fun as always, but for some reason all that jumping was a little hard on my calves and I felt a bit fatigued.  I didn't have any muscle soreness at this point.    

Thursday 9/25:  A rainy day, and a lazy day.  

Friday 9/26:  Busy day of studying and errands.  I'd like to think I got in at least 10,000 steps! 

Saturday 9/27:  Planned to go for a run but instead got my hair did...which took several hours!  Not that I'm complaining!  

Sunday 9/28:  Bret and I finally went for our run.  It was more of a run/walk/hike around Forbidden Drive.  We just love it over there, but it was surprisingly hot and humid which made things uncomfortable.  Still, we made it to 5 miles and avoided lots of horse poop and mountain bikers.  

Loving it out on the trails

How do you adjust to life after training for a big race?  Any good races in the Philly or DC/Maryland area that you recommend?  

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Rock and Roll Philly Half Marathon Recap

Hey, hey!  Several days have passed, and I've finally processed everything from last Sunday's half marathon, and I can't wait to tell you ALL about it.  As you may know, for the past few months I've dedicated a majority of my blogging to chronicling my training for the Rock and Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon.  It was a LOT of work, but overall, I had a great training experience.  I made the investment to hire a Running Coach, followed the plan, and let the chips fall where they may!

The Night Before

Saturday was the day of the Rock and Roll 5K.  But that was all over pretty early in the morning.  For the rest of the day I tried to rest as much as possible, then I spent a few hours studying for my PE exam.  My Core and More class instructor, Elga, was celebrating her birthday that night and she invited me to come by her house for a party/jam session.  So I drove over there, listened to some live music out in the backyard, and enjoyed some tasty deviled eggs, beans and rice, and a little fried chicken!  I didn't stay out super late, but I didn't get to bed until 11 pm or so.  

Race Morning

The alarm was once again set to 6:00 am and I ate the same breakfast of toast and strawberry preserves.  My clothes were already laid out so I was fully dressed and just hanging out for awhile.  I got an early text from my sister saying that she wasn't going to be able to come to see me run.  She had just gotten back from a conference out of state the night before, and she still would have had to drive 2+ hours to get to me.  So naturally, I was crushed.  Then I tried to find a way for her to get live text alerts during the race, but signups were closed 1 hour before the race start.  Bummer.

I was feeling pretty down, but then I got another text from my friend Tom, who has been a running buddy of mine for years now.  He said he would be out on the course, which was great to hear!  Before I knew it, it was time to head out to the race.  

Before the madness
The Starting Line

I slowly moseyed myself out the door to get to the race start.  The weather outside was a little warmer than the day before, but it was VERY humid and overcast.  After doing a few dynamic stretches and hearing the National Anthem (with a band rehearsing in the background---eek!), Bret and I headed over to my corral.  I was in corral 17, which was towards the back but still not all the way at the end.  Bret hung out with me for awhile then hopped out, but as we started to move up, he would walk alongside and snap some pictures.  He really pumped me up for the race and I started to get's finally happening!

But no, it's not happening just yet.  We're still a long, long way from the starting line.  The race started at 8, and at 8:30, we're still not at the start?! There aren't even 20,000 runners in this race!  I don't know what the holdup was, but eventually, I finally crossed the start and began the race!   

Couldn't wait to get the starting line!
And We're Off Again!

Miles 1 to 5:

While I was waiting in the corral, I kept telling myself over and over, "Go slow, go slow".  Coach Kristy advised me to start at an 11 minute pace.  So as we finally got going, I knew I had to stay in control and stick to the plan.  The only trouble is that my Nike+ watch is completely unreliable for giving me instantaneous pace.  So I had to do it the old fashioned way and estimate my pace by the time posted at each mile marker.

Even though I ran this race 3 years ago, the beginning of the course felt only vaguely familiar.  I barely remembered running past the Liberty Bell the first time.  I had a pretty awesome memory of running under the Friendship Arch in Chinatown back in 2011, but we definitely did not do that this time.  I guess they changed the course?  What a bummer!  

It didn't even take a mile in to be covered in sweat.  It was so humid that my arm band for my cellphone kept slipping off as I tried to listen to music.  Kristy advised me to take water at all the stations due to the forecast.  So glad I did.

I was happy to see Tom twice while I was on the course!  The first time he spotted me first (as always) on Market, but the second time I saw him on Arch and got a high five.  Every little bit helps.    

I was feeling really good and could feel myself speeding up, but before I knew it we were leaving downtown and heading down the Parkway down to the loop.  I saw Bret on my way down and gave him a little smooch.  

Splits:  11:10, 10:48, 10:36, 10:23, 10:55

Miles 5 to 10:

As I ran on Kelly Drive it was actually kind of fun; I was still feeling good pace-wise but I knew that I had a long boring stretch ahead of me.  Normally when I run on Kelly Drive it's on the trail, but for the race we were running on the road, so that was a nice change of pace. 

From miles 6 to 10 I was supposed to run a 10:30 pace, so I was definitely in the right zone.  It felt great to be among so many runners.  As we approached the East Falls Bridge we had some fun music and dancing in the streets to entertain us.  Lots of spectators were cheering us on.  

Splits:  10:36, 10:40, 10:36, 10:40, 10:31

Miles 10 to 13.1:

I was really ready for this race to be over.  Despite the cheering, once we passed the East Falls Bridge, I was done.  Normally, I like running down MLK drive because I don't do it often.  But in this case, I just ran this course the day before, so I was a little bit over it!  Lots of people were walking around me, and it was hard to ignore them and keep going as fast as I could.  I also had an old man on the race scold me for breathing heavily, which really threw me off.  I was trying to focus so that I could try to get up to that 10 minute pace for the last 3 miles...unfortunately he got in my head and I couldn't find my rhythm.

But thankfully at mile 12 there was Bret!  He told me I was in the final stretch and ran on the sidewalk with me for a few bursts!  He gave me the gas I needed to get to the end.  Thanks baby!    

Splits:  10:41, 10:10, 9:48


I promised myself that when I saw the finish line that I would run strong.  At my last half, the Philadelphia Half Marathon in 2012, I had a pathetic finish...I practically walked across.  That wasn't happening this time.  While the photos look ugly (take my word for it), I gritted my teeth and ran my heart out to the finish.  I didn't care what my watch said, but I will tell you what it said: 13.29 miles,  2:20:14.  My official time was 2:20:10.  

Overall I felt very confident as I ran the race.  My pace was consistent, the humidity didn't bother me too much (minus some heavy breathing), fueling worked like a charm, and I stayed hydrated.  While I didn't shed any tears during the course, my heart was full of pride as I could see that all the hard work was worth it.  I couldn't have been happier.

Me and my 3 medals! 
After the Race

Once I crossed the finish I was all out of sorts, even more than the day before.  I had to beg someone to hand me a medal, and then I grabbed a water and wandered aimlessly through the photographers, protein bars, energy drinks, chocolate milk, bananas....nothing made sense.  As I made my way out and back into the running festival area, there was Bret.  He hugged me and said how proud he was of me.  Of course I felt pretty slimy and gross from the hours of sweat shed on the course.  

My feet were absolutely killing me and my knees were quite a bit sore, but hey, I did just run over 13 miles! I brought some flip flops with me so I could change out of my Adidas.  Yay for finally finding the right running shoes for me (another journey in itself)! This was their final hurrah after over 250 miles of running together.  

Because I did the Remix Challenge, I had to get my 3rd medal.  Being obnoxious for a change, I brought along my 5K medal so that I could walk around and wear all 3 that I earned that weekend!  It was a nice moment of pride for me, haha.  

I was hoping to see James after the race again and possibly some other runners I know, but it was too chaotic to even try.  We skedaddled out of there.

Post-Race Libations

Brunch was always going to be on the agenda, it was just a matter of figuring out where to go.  Since it was my choice, I selected the Cedar Point Bar and Kitchen, located in "the heart of Fishtown".  It's our kind of place: rustic atmosphere, great food, great beer, and lots of hipsters.  I ordered the French toast special which was somehow stuffed with blue cheese, apples and walnuts.  And of course turkey bacon on the side.  I really loved the Belgian beer that I had too.  Breakfast of champions! 

Amazing French toast and beer! 


So I have a lot of thoughts about the race and everything, so I'm going to go with my trusted bullet points:

  • There was great energy the entire weekend from all of the runners.
  • The hydration stations were perfectly placed.  Whenever I was in need, they were there.
  • The featured band was really good!  I never heard of Rusted Root, but they had a nice groove.
  • The medals are GORGEOUS!  They captured the spirit of Philadelphia without being too corny.
  • The T-Shirts are also gorgeous!  Maybe I'll wear them on a run this weekend!
  • The course is boring.  Philly runners know that any race you do is likely to be on Kelly Drive, MLK Drive, or the entire Schuylkill River loop.  Yes, it's pretty, but it's nothing new.      
  • The bands and cheerleaders along the course just weren't into it.  There was a cute little band at the East Falls Bridge but I wanted more!  
  • Some of the volunteers handing out water weren't wearing plastic gloves.  Since I've done that job recently, I know it's law.  So....ew.  
  • Feeling more like a customer than a runner.  I'm sorry, but it has to be said.  There was way too much corporate sponsorship and kowtowing to elite athletes with the Rock and Roll franchise.  We're all runners and should all be appreciated.  Everywhere you turned they were trying to sell you registration for the 5K was over $65!  
In a nutshell:  I had 2 great races and I'm very proud of my performance.  But I will never run a 5K and half marathon in the same weekend ever again!  I am definitely "retiring" from Rock and Roll Philly but am curious to see if I would sign up for an RnR in another city.  I'm glad and so grateful that everything went well.    


Last and not least, I want to thank everyone, and I mean everyone, who was part of my half marathon journey.  My sister dedicated an amazing Facebook post to me and was able to get over 100 likes, sending positive energy that I carried through the race and didn't even know.  Thank you for the support!    #jjfit!  I had a couple of great training runs with my running buddies Mark and Tom, and they have always been a huge support to me.  Coach Kristy was AMAZING, she really changed my whole viewpoint on how to train for a race.  I really didn't think "going slow" would help me go faster, yet I was able to maintain a 10:33 average pace!  I also had my first lessons in speedwork and tapering, which all made a difference.

The blogging and running community has been amazing.  All of you who read and follow Run With No Regrets encouraged me the entire way.  Remember that rough training week I had?  You guys talked me off the ledge!  And everyone who follows me at runwithnoregrets on Instagram is so amazing. 

And FINALLY, I want to give a huge shoutout to my boyfriend Bret.  He really is an amazing person and he was my rock throughout the whole training experience.  He was the one out there with me on my 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 mile runs.  Thank goodness I'm dating a runner!  He wore a goofy hydration belt for me on Kelly Drive, held my Clif Shots for me on Forbidden Drive, helped me when I could barely walk after the race.  The list goes on and on.  

Me, my man, and my medals

So now it's all over!  Have you ever run a Rock and Roll Race?  How was your experience?    

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Rock and Roll Philly 5K Race Recap

Hey, happy Wednesday!  I've been resting my body for the past few days but I've been bursting to share my recaps of the Rock and Roll Philly 5K and Half Marathon!  First up, the 5K! 

5K Starting Line

Rock and Roll Philly 5K

The Rock and Roll Half Marathon has been going on in Philly for a few years, but this year marked the inaugural 5K event which took place last Saturday, September 20.  The course was an out and back on MLK Drive along the Schuylkill River, a popular spot for races in the area.   

As I mentioned in my race goals post, I wasn't planning on racing this race.  That sounds silly, doesn't it?  I really wanted to run for fun and get a couple of nice medals.  So the night before, I went out to dinner with an old friend from college, and I didn't stress about a thing!

Race Morning

I woke up at 6 am and prepared some toast and strawberry preserves for breakfast.  The race started at 8 am.  I felt pretty relaxed and we headed over to the start around 7:30-ish.  There was a good amount of people participating in the race and the weather was clear and in the mid-60's.  Good running weather for sure.

Selfie at the starting line

And We're Off

I lined up pretty far back in the queue.  Why?  I have no idea.  An old lady pushed to get in front of me near the starting line, only to discover that she was power walking the entire race.  I ended up being in the back with all of the walkers!  Not that there's anything wrong with that! I've never lined up at the very front of a race, but I do have to say that it is a very different vantage point when you're bringing up the rear.  It wasn't long that I was on the course before I already saw the winners heading towards the finish...we cheered them on as they ran their insanely fast 4 minute miles.  

I really enjoyed taking it easy though.  I listened to some Passion Pit on Amazon Prime as I made my way down the drive.  I could really take in what was going on around me.   There were lots of Black Girls Run members and I even saw two guys wearing Black Men Run shirts.  Spiderman was there too and he was doing great!  Oh, and I almost got spit on.  That was a close one. I glanced at my Nike+ watch occasionally and saw that I was running around a 10 minute pace.  I really didn't want to go that fast, but sometimes when I feel good running, I go with it.  I knew it would be all over soon enough and didn't think I'd do any major damage.      


Finally we're getting near the end and you have to come up this steep hill under the Spring Garden Bridge and make your way to the close but so far!  Thankfully I was feeling good and started "sprinting" to the end.  And there was Bret's smiling face cheering me on.  I raised my hands in victory and that was that!  I couldn't have been happier.  Official time:  30:38! 

Great morning for a run!

After the Race

Oh boy, was I winded!  I couldn't figure out who was handing out the medals, haha.  As I was in a daze with my bottle of water I saw my friend Jim who had also finished, and was running the Rock and Roll Half, his first, the next day.  We caught up a bit and talked about race and pacing strategies.  We took a picture and wished each other luck for the Half Marathon.

Then as we were finishing up a couple of guys asked Jim if he could take a picture for them.  It was the Pavement Runner!  Haha, a running blogger celebrity!  I was definitely geeked out as I said, "Hey, you're the Pavement Runner" LOL.  But I actually kept my cool and we got a nice picture together, shown below!

Hey it's the Pavement Runner!

Breakfast Feast 

After taking a couple of pictures, I didn't linger much longer in the race area.  I had no desire to drink Michelob beer, even free Michelob, especially before 9 am, sorry!  Yes, I am a beer snob.  Bret promised that he would make me a special breakfast so we went home and he started cooking!  While I waited, I did a lengthy stretching routine, foam rolling, hip and calf stretching and foot rolling.  My quads were really feeling it....I guess that's because I pushed myself a lot harder than I planned!  Then I started to worry...wait, I have to run 13.1 tomorrow!  I hope I didn't bite off more than I could chew!  But at least I knew I could enjoy pumpkin pancakes, raspberries, pineapple, and a yummy egg, mushroom and veggie hash.  Thanks Bret! 

Breakfast of champions! 

The Rock and Roll Philly 5K was pretty nice!  The race was well organized and I had a fun time.  The finisher's medal is absolutely gorgeous, which makes a routine run a little bit more special.  The weekend was off to a great start!  Next up I'll be recapping the Half Marathon!  
If you had any races last weekend how did it go?  Have you ever run a little too fast on a "fun" race?    

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Race Goals for the Rock and Roll Philly 5K and Half Marathon

In just 3 short days, the Rock and Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon will be OVER.  Madness!  I have gone through 11 weeks of training for my first half marathon since November 2012...what an emotional experience!

The many faces of half marathon training

I'm grateful to say that training has gone really well.  While I had one week where my mileage was short, I did all of my speedwork, plenty of long runs, and my fueling routine is on lock!  I'm really proud of myself and for the first time in ages, I'm injury-free.  I guess what I'm saying is, I'm ready to race! 

Saturday morning is the 5K, and 24 hours later is the half marathon.  This is my first time running two races in the same weekend.  It's going to be insane, but in my excitement/nervousness, I know I have to stay in control, and keep my goals at the forefront.  So here they are!

5K Goals:

I signed up for this Rock and Roll 5K for a few reasons: 1.) It's the first 5K they've done in Philly, 2.), It's a course I've run many times,  and 3.) I'll get 2 medals as part of the Remix Challenge for running the 5K and half back to back!

My last 5K was an extraordinary (for me) 27 minutes finishing time, and there's no way I'm going to touch that this time.  This is purely going to be a run "for fun".  No racing, just taking it easy.  My focus is all on the half. 

Half Marathon Goals:

So with that said, my goals were crafted by my running coach, Kristy.  I've been doing most of my runs at an 11 to 11.5 minute pace, but have gradually introduced speedwork so that I know how to push my body to the limit.  Here's my strategy, as prescribed by Coach Kristy:

  • Miles 1-6:  Run at 11 minute pace
  • Miles 6-10:  Run at 10:30 pace
  • Miles 10-13.1:  Run at 10 minute pace 
I've never done a specific racing strategy like this before, so I'm definitely nervous.  But I have to trust my coach!  Since I put myself in the 2:20 corral, I shouldn't have to worry about starting out too fast.   

A Special Race

Here are a couple of pictures of me 3 years ago at the 2011 Rock and Roll Philly Half Marathon, my very first half.  This race is very sentimental for me; this was when I truly realized my love for running.  It's the only race I've had where tears of joy streaming down my face!

Me in action back in 2011

Terrible posing, but I was supposed to look badass here lol

I hope that no matter what happens on Sunday, that I can say that I'm proud of what I accomplished.  If I PR, great!  If I don't, that's great too!  Look how far I'm come.  I can't wait to tell you how it goes!

Are you going to be at the Philly 5K or Half?  Let me know, I'd love to meet up!  Do you have a race that means a lot to you?    

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