Hill…I mean, Hershey Half Marathon

The weekend started out a little crazy. That’s kind of status quo in a house with young children with sports and activities though, right?  My daughter had her exercise class in the morning and she had already missed the previous one, and since she loves it so much, I didn’t want her to miss another.  The hubby dropped her off so I could get stuff ready for the weekend because, for some reason, I thought it would be o.k. to save everything for the morning we were leaving!  Luckily, my older son didn’t have a soccer game (well, he did, but not until the evening so he was missing it).

I had to go to Target to grab some last-minute items (something else I shouldn’t have waited on). I got my stuff at Target and then picked my daughter up from her class and then it was a mad dash getting the kids ready and finishing up with packing.  The kids didn’t know where we were going so everything was also being done kind of on the down-low.  We pulled out of the driveway about 45 minutes later than I had wanted to.

The drive from Jersey to Hershey, PA was torture for me.  There was a bunch of traffic and we had left later than I had wanted.  The Expo/packet pick-up was until 5:00 but I was just so anxious!  We arrived at 3:45 so I had plenty of time to get my stuff and get the two older kids their shirts and bibs (with my wonderful hubby’s help) for the Fun Run that was taking place at 5:15.

It was starting to rain but by the time the kids were lined up for the Fun Run, the rain had stopped.  The kids were excited and it was so cute!  My son had sought out a boy while we were waiting under a tree in the rain before the race and talked to him the whole time and managed to line up next to him at the race 🙂  My daughter was just glad that the distance wasn’t as long as the Daughter Dash she had run the week before!

IMG_9678_2 IMG_9682_2 IMG_9683_2 IMG_9690_2 IMG_9692_2 IMG_9693_2 IMG_9699_2 IMG_9700_2 IMG_9703_2 IMG_9705_2

Next up, Chocolate World for dinner and then the Chocolate Factory ride.  Our park tickets, which we got two for free from the half marathon, were also good for the last 2.5 hours the park was open that night.  We were undecided and my feet were already hurting from walking/standing around the Expo and Fun Run and Chocolate World.  Then, it started to pour.  We decided to just go to the hotel so I could get to sleep!

I slept pretty well, which I usually don’t do the night before a race, and I awoke at 5:40am.  The plan was to get myself out of the room by 6:20 but that turned into more like 6:30…and I woke up the baby and my daughter.  My hubby texted me later on that he had a non-sleeping girl and toddler in bed with him…oops!

I’ve never seen such a line-up of cars going into a race.  I’ve done bigger races but I guess I always get there super early or I stay over and I’m walking to the start line.  Again, I was anxious that I hadn’t left when I wanted and was so worried I wouldn’t get into the park before they closed the road!  Of course, I made it in 🙂  I parked right near a restroom in the parking lot and, when I was ready, I ran/walked to the start area to keep myself warm.  I was very happy I had gone with the long-sleeve shirt!

Everything is all ready to go the night before!

Everything is all ready to go the night before!

Hubby snaps a pic before I leave :)

Hubby snaps a pic before I leave 🙂

On my way over to the starting area.

On my way over to the starting area.

I didn’t have to stand around and wait too long before it was time for the race to start, although, it seemed like a long time because I was cold.  Once it was time, the sun was out and it didn’t take me too long to warm up some.  The announcer for the race said there were 5,000 runners/walkers.  I feared it would take a while to finally cross over the start mat but it only took a few minutes and I was off!

I had mixed feelings.  As some of you may recall, I’m still recovering from a toe “injury”.  It’s called turf toe and it will most likely be an ongoing issue and I’m supposed to stay away from hills.  I found a video on how to tape my toe and it has helped…and I now tape both big toes because it is affecting the other foot now, too 😛  I was so nervous because I knew this was a hilly course and the last half I had done was Rock ‘n’ Roll Philly which hadn’t been a great run for me.  On the other hand, I had just done the Perfect 10 a week before and, yes, the race had made me sore like I hadn’t been in a long time, but I really kicked butt and ran my fastest 10 miles…not really too many hills, though.  I hadn’t been training on hills because I was supposed to stay away.  In the back of my mind, I wanted to beat my time from my first half marathon but I didn’t know how the hills would treat me.  I definitely wanted to beat my time from Philly and I figured, even if I had to walk most of the hills, that would still be possible.

A lot is a blur but I’ll try to recap some.  We started out running around the parking lot of Hersheypark and the Giant Center before heading down a road and through a small opening in a back gate to Hersheypark itself.  Now, for those that have been to Hersheypark, you know that even that has a lot of hills!  Running in the park was fun though 🙂  It was cool to run by all the rides thinking that I’d be going on some of them later in the afternoon and running by runners going the other way (I never quite understood how that happened because it was a part that I don’t remember running but I think maybe they were runners doing the relay).  Running in the park was a bit difficult though.  It was tight in areas and people couldn’t quite decide which big planter sections with big trees and plants to go between because there would be 2 or 3 in a section.

Course map with elevations.

Course map with elevations.

Then, there was the run through the town and Milton Hershey School area.  Yup, more hills!  Every time I turned a corner, I swear there was another hill.  There were also spectators yelling that we were almost to the top of the hill, though, and running through the school area was fun because tons of kids were lining the streets giving high-fives!

Somewhere along the course.

Somewhere along the course.

Things started becoming kind of fuzzy from like mile 8 to mile 12.5.  Around mile 9 I actually started questioning myself and why I was doing this.  I was by myself, nobody I knew was running and this course was really messing with my mind!  There was the section behind Chocolate World.  Yup, let’s throw in another big hill!  At mile 11 there was a chocolate aid station, which was a mini Hershey bar, which I took and stowed away because I knew I couldn’t get down a chocolate bar.  Right after the chocolate aid station there was a really big hill and a guy behind me chanting over and over, “hills are awesome…I eat hills for breakfast” and I muttered, “hills suck!”  Towards the end, I thought it might be possible to beat my time from my first half marathon in Atlantic City (a very flat course) but when I finished with this hill I was really tired.  I almost walked that hill, but I’m proud to say, I didn’t walk any of the hills…no walking at all 🙂

We made our way back into the parking lot and it started to seem like the never-ending 13.1 miles!  There was a long stretch in front of the stadium with a lot of crowd support.  I had really started picking up the pace with hopes of still setting a PR but it started making me feel a bit queasy and then we just kept going!  I was hoping my watch was off.  It seemed like we should be finishing…but we just kept going!  We went back around to the back of the stadium and then into the stadium and then the finish line still seemed so far away.  After running around 1/3 or more of the track, I crossed the finish!!!  No PR but much better than my last half marathon.  I collected my medal, water and little cooler bag of goodies and then nothing.  I was proud of myself for running the entire thing with all of those hills but my family was back at the hotel waiting on me to get back and shower so we could go to the park and ride rides (and walk more hills).



Would I run this race again?  I really don’t think so.  It was well-organized with very friendly volunteers and the two free tickets to the park were a nice perk (although, I was very disappointed that they didn’t have the 13.1 sticker with the Hershey kiss as the “.” in the bag this year).  Maybe I’d do it again to prove something to myself but I am just now able to walk down a flight of stairs and feel normal…4 days later 😉


Race Weekend: Part Three

Well, this past Sunday marked one week since the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half…and I celebrated with a PR at the Cape May Winery 5k!  I’ll write more on that later though.  It’s time for the third and last installment about my weekend in Philly.  It’s time for the part about the RACE!

My alarm was set for 5:30 and, boy, was that a tough one.  Now, I have been known to get up at 3:45am to run at 4:30.  I didn’t sleep well though.  I usually don’t sleep well before a race so that wasn’t a big surprise and once I had like 10 minutes to get going I was good.  Gotta love adrenaline!

The plan was to leave around 6:30 to head over to another hotel where everyone from the running club I’m in, Southern Ocean Ladies Running Club, was meeting.  Hmmmm…what to do with myself for an hour?  Glad I got up at 5:30 though.  Time to get my contacts in (ouch), get dressed, use my spiky massage ball on my injured foot to wake it up and get it feeling better, get dressed and prepare my breakfast.  I ate an English muffin with Pocket Fuel Chunky Coconut Cherry almond butter and a banana while we were walking over to the other hotel.

The walk over was a chilly one!  Glad I had bought the arm sleeves the day before at the Expo!  Our hotel lobby was full of runners but the hotel we were meeting at was much bigger, and when my best friend and I entered the lobby, it was a sea of runners.  It made me happy 🙂  I searched out the ladies from Southern Ocean Ladies Running Club and we all stood around chatting for a bit before getting together for a big group photo.  Then, it was time to walk over to where the race was starting to get in our starting corrals.  So many runners!

Southern Ocean Ladies Running Club

Southern Ocean Ladies Running Club

The race started at 8am and my bestie (that always makes me think of Amy Farrah Fowler and Penny from Big Bang Theory…but I digress) and I were back in corral 15.  I was nervous that we’d be standing in the chilly air for like 30 minutes, but once the sun came over the tall buildings, it was warm and glorious!  It didn’t take too long to get to the start, either.  There was so much energy that it made time pass quickly and we were off and running at about 8:20.  They counted down each corral, which amped up the excitement.  I’m glad I stuck with corral 15 and didn’t try to move up because I needed to start out slowly with my toe injury and being that the last long training run I had done was 10 miles 4 weeks prior to the race!

Corral 15 getting ready to start!

Corral 15 getting ready to start!

It was corral 15’s turn and we were off and running!!!  I just kept telling myself not to get caught up in the excitement and just take it easy, take it all in, run a smart race.  I started out with my bestie, a running friend of hers’ and a friend of her friend (did you follow?).  We all shared a room together and they were very nice and it was fun to share a room and run a bit together in the race.

We took the first mile nice and easy but my mouth was dry.  I would later realize that it was from taking Immodium before the race.  I didn’t want to drink the little bit of water I had on me.  The sun was beating down on us and I was glad I was in a running skirt and sleeveless shirt and that I could just push my arm sleeves down.  The sun was making us all thirsty and we were seeking out the shady sides of the street and anxiously awaiting that first water stop!  We approached…water gone!?  We were shocked!  This big of a race and the water was already gone?  I think I took a tiny sip from my water bottle.


We ran on, continued taking in the sites, seeking shade and looking for that next water table.  The next stop was Gatorade…sticky, yellow Gatorade, which I splashed all over my leg and arm and chin (I don’t normally do the whole running/drinking from cups).  We continued and complained about the overly-sweet Gatorade and the fact that you could hear everyone’s shoes sticking to the pavement from it.  We eventually came upon some water but the water tables continued to be a bit of a problem.  Luckily, this was my only real issue with the race as a whole.

I continued running with my bestie and her running friend until about mile 5, I think.  Then, I started feeling very sluggish and there were little twinges in my toe here and there.  Nothing I couldn’t handle but since I hadn’t done much training in the last month, I wanted to slow down and not injure myself further.  It was tough thinking about running 8 miles on my own but I was hoping to see some girls from the club along the way and I figured there were plenty of runners to watch, to listen in on during their amusing conversations, to be inspired by and plenty of beautiful scenery to see and bands to listen to.  The final thing was my only other small complaint about this race.  Being that it’s a part of the Rock ‘n’ Roll series, I expected a lot more bands!

I made it to mile 8.  During the race, I wasn’t too thrilled about this.  My injured toe started hurting, and actually, my other toe and foot started hurting a lot.  I was constantly saying to myself, “make it to mile 9 walking and then run some…make it to mile 9.5 and then you can start walking again…make it to mile 10 and run a little.”  I had this inner dialogue the last 5.1 miles!  I ran as much as my feet and my exhausted body would allow at a time, which sometimes wasn’t a whole lot.  I wanted to finish strong though!

As you can see, after mile 8, things slowed down a lot!




  Avg Pace


























































I saw very few injured people on the sidelines along the way.  I saw plenty of people stretching up against trees and on the ground and I started to join them around mile 10.  I was still really enjoying the scenery and I had wanted to run through Fairmount Park and along the Schuylkill River and by Boathouse Row!  Plus, being that I was walking a lot through this part of the race, I was able to snap some pictures with my phone 🙂

They had some fun signs along the way.  This was one of my faves!

They had some fun signs along the way. This was one of my faves!

Boathouse Row

Boathouse Row


Fairmount Water Works

When I reached mile 12.5, I really wanted to start pushing.  Of course, they threw a hill in right towards the end.  Great.  I really don’t remember what I did with that hill.  I think I walked/half-ran.  Then, about 25 feet from the finish, I saw a man lying on the ground off to the side with medics around him.  At this point I was running my heart out and I was so sad for him!  He was SO close…I wanted him to crawl to the finish and be taken care of after he crossed!  I hope he was o.k.!

I ran through the finish, got my medal, smiled for the camera, heard my bestie yell for me, we both smiled for the camera…I was happy!  For the last 5.1 miles of Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia, I wasn’t so happy.  I beat myself up a little.  I tried to tell myself it was for the best so I didn’t further injure myself and that I have other races coming up.  When you see so many running past you, though, it’s hard to stay positive.  Around mile 10, though, I started estimating when I could finish.  I had gone into the race thinking it might take me 3 hrs. but at mile 10 I realized that 2 ½ hours might be possible.  At mile 12, I realized I might possibly have a chance at finishing under 2:30 and when I crossed the finish in 2:29:40, I was proud…I was happy!


Philadelphia Museum of Art…or, the “Rocky Steps” 🙂

photo-70 photo-67 photo-66

Race Weekend: Part Two

If you missed Part One, you can check it out here: Race Weekend: Part One

Saturday, September 14, 2013

My best friend, Evette, and I headed to Philly in the morning.  We wanted time to settle into the hotel, eat lunch and get to the Expo to pick up our packets and have time for fun and shopping at the Expo!  We stayed right near the Convention Center where the Expo was being held.  While trying to get the the hotel (man, there are a lot of ONE WAY streets in Philly), we were stopped at a light and I snapped this picture of City Hall.  I used this building often as a reference point!  I was so unprepared because of all the nerves I had been feeling about my foot and running the race…before leaving the house I realized I couldn’t even remember where I had made dinner reservations for us.


After a couple circles, we arrived at the hotel, checked in and went up to the room to eat the lunches we had brought.  Ahhhh, wonderful carb loading peanut butter & jelly and pretzels 🙂  Then, we were off to the Expo!  I had never been to an Expo because the first half marathon I did didn’t have one.  I was excited because I heard this was a good one!  It did not disappoint!  We had fun, got our free loot and bought some things.  This was Evette’s first half marathon so she got a decal for her car and she got really great earphones because hers always fall out.  She got them from Auria and the guy custom fit them for her and they seem like they’ll work really well.  I thought I would buy a lot but I only bought arm sleeves from Running Skirts.  All of their stuff was 50% off!


Here are some pictures of the fun stuff we did at the Expo 🙂



My bestie, Evette (on the right) and one of my SOL sisters racing up the mountain 🙂

Our "chocolate milk" mustaches!  They had a couple different products for recovering after the race, including my fave, Rockin' Refuel!

Our “chocolate milk” mustaches! They had a couple different products for recovering after the race, including my fave, Rockin’ Refuel!

It was time to get back to our room and rest up a bit before making the 11 block trek to dinner (it could have been more because, again, I hadn’t really planned out the route).  We ate at Bridgid’s, an adorable little bar/restaurant at the end of a street lined with cute, colorful row houses.  Evette had a pulled pork sandwich that looked delicious!  I didn’t think my nervous stomach could handle much so I had their salad special and added grilled chicken.  I did eat two pieces of their yummy bread to add in some carbs 😉


Plus, I had half a soft pretzel and Teddy Grahams when we got back to the room.  All of the walking may have been a mistake because my feet were tired…oh well!

We all discussed what time we were getting up (we were staying with a girl Evette runs with, Sam, and her friend…they were very nice and great roommates), had some laughs, and then went to sleep…or tried.

I was only going to make this a two part series but I think I’m going to save race day for part three!  Stay tuned…

Race Weekend: Part One


I keep walking away from my laptop.  I keep going back-and-forth with this entry.  Write it?  Don’t?  What do I say?  I’ve decided that the best for me is to just sit here and type away and just let it all flow through my fingertips.

This will be my second half marathon.  I’ve run a few 5k’s, a half relay with my best friend, Evette, a 5 miler, a 10k and a half.  For my first 5k, I was a little bit nervous but it was more excited nerves.  By the time I got to my first half marathon, I had the 5k’s and the 10k under my running belt and I felt like I had learned from them and had trained hard for the half and I was ready.  I was excited the night before and the morning of but when people asked if I was nervous, I didn’t really feel that I was.  I was prepared, I had a time in mind, but I was there to run the race and just do the best I could.  The excitement increased to a bit of nerves at the starting line but I was ready to go!

Fast forward to now and the half I will be running in 2 days.  I was super excited for this race!  We’ve driven into Philly a couple times and when I became a runner and we drove past the Schuylkill River, I said to my husband, “that would be so pretty to run around!”  Then, the opportunity presented itself when I saw the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half.  I asked my best friend, Evette, to run it with me and it will be her first half.  Training was going great and I was getting stronger and faster and I was confident that I could run it faster than my first half!  Then, I injured my toe and my foot has been all messed up.

I am back to running but I haven’t gone far and I’m certainly not as fast as I was.  Do I think this will be a good race?  No.  I have decided that I need to just go into it knowing that it won’t be my best though and just enjoy the experience and be there for my bestie and the 40+ women from the running club I belong to that are running it…that’s right…over 40 of us!  If I have to walk most of it then so be it.  It will be fun just being there with everyone!

The nerves really crept up on me this morning though!  I decided to run 3 miles this morning.  The plan called for me to rest but I haven’t run much in my new shoes and I felt like I needed to get in another short run to see how everything was going.  I woke up this morning and I was a bundle of nerves!  I went to eat a piece of toast with some Pocket Fuel Coconut Cherry Almond Butter.  After a couple bites, I looked at my husband and said, “I think I’m gonna be sick!”  He asked why and I told him I’m that I’m so nervous and he said, “you’ll do great!”  I wish I had his confidence in me.

Tomorrow will be fun shopping at the Expo and having dinner with Evette.  I don’t know what Sunday morning will bring.  I hope that I will be excited and I can keep all of the bad thoughts away and enjoy myself.  I’m actually sitting here wondering if I should even wear my Garmin.  My pace getting slower has become a big mental thing for me and I’m constantly looking at it.  Should I just go on feeling for this one?

One Year Running Anniversary


Tomorrow marks one year since I started running.  Well, I ran a little before, but August 26, 2012 was the first time I went fast enough that the app I was using said, “ran” instead of “walked”.  It was 1.6 miles and it took 21 minutes and my best friend was by my side encouraging me.  Our families were vacationing together in Rehoboth Beach, DE and she really helped me to start adding in more running than walking.  I have enjoyed running more and more ever since!

As I typed the above paragraph, all I could think to myself was that I should commemorate one year of running with a run.  Alas, this won’t be the case.  This runner girl is sidelined.  It hurts to type.  Something is wrong with my foot.  What?  I don’t know.  I could go to a doctor and find out but I’m in denial…I want to remain in the dark and pretend it’s just not happening!  Within the next 2 months, I am signed up for 5 races – a 5K in my hometown being put on by the fire department, Philly Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, a 5K at a winery in Cape May, The Perfect 10 and Hershey Half Marathon.

If you’re a runner and you’ve ever been sidelined due to an injury or illness, you feel my pain.  I’ve only missed one long run.  My last run was just 3 days ago.  It wasn’t a good run though.  Normally, I finish a run feeling great…accomplished.  This time, I was worried, sad and defeated.  This is how I have felt since that run.  I keep telling myself to just keep resting, to give it plenty of time, that the next run will go fine…and if it doesn’t, then off to see a doctor I will go.

Then, more fear sets in.  What is wrong?  What if whatever it is means I can’t run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half?  It is my best friend’s first half marathon.  I asked her to sign up for it – I have to be there!  I also belong to a running club, Southern Ocean Ladies Running Club (SOL), filled with wonderful women who I have come to consider more than just runners.  When you meet for a run at 4:30am, twice a week, and pretty early on a Sunday morning for the long run, it’s hard not to form bonds with these women, because fellow runners are the only ones that can truly understand all that you go through with training.  They are strong, dedicated, inspiring, amazing women who I admire and so many of them are also running in Philly (and a lot of the other races I’m doing).  I feel like my foot is letting a lot of people down.

I see all of these posts on Facebook and all of these pictures on Instagram of runners I follow.  It seems as though all I’ve been able to do, from my couch with my foot up and my laptop next to me, is read about running and about foot problems (never a good idea to read about an ailment on the internet).  I’m so proud of all the accomplishments I see from people.  Those running their first half, their first full marathon, or they’re experienced with races and are reaching for new goals for themselves and setting new PR’s.  I’m jealous though.  I want to run those 12 miles.  I want to continue on the road I was on – getting stronger and faster.  Up pops another fear…when I return to running I’ll have to slow things down again.  I have only run one half marathon and I wanted to go for a PR in Philly.  I have run several 5K’s but not since I have become a better runner…I wanted to kick butt in the 5K in my hometown this upcoming weekend but now I will either have to skip it or take it easy.

Running is hard.  Nobody ever claimed it was easy.  Running is rewarding.  Nobody ever claimed it was going to be all good runs and PR’s, though.  Running has made me a stronger person and, although I may feel weak right now, I love running!



**Update: 9/3/2013**  I went to see a podiatrist and he said that my joint at the base of my big toe is inflamed and he thinks the other pains I’m feeling are due to overcompensating for it.  I have a ridiculously high arch (already knew that), toes that hyper-extend back, rigid feet and tight calves.  I have done some research since the appointment and I’m pretty sure I have turf toe (he may have said that but my head was kind of spinning).  He said I won’t be able to do Philly Rock ‘n’ Roll but I felt he was saying it more from a training standpoint and not being able to get my mileage back up in time.  I’ll walk half of it if I need to.  I’ve accepted it won’t be my best half.

I went to a new running store, Runner’s High, and the guy there was awesome.  I tried out my new shoes yesterday morning and my toe started hurting a little after 2 miles.  I really thought I’d be o.k.!  I’m going to try one more run but, otherwise, I think I’m going to be taking it easy until Philly.