Race ReCap: The Hard Cider Run

So, another race in the books, this one is a fun run with Mrs. Standsonthings – The Hard Cider Run.  This is an awesomely challenging race in Adam’s County at the amazing Hauser Estate Winery, home of Jack’s Hard Cider.

This year the race started off on an overcast, windy and humid day. We packed for humid 80 degree temps, but were slightly unprepared for the rain and chilly breeze. The rain was coming down at a steady pace earlier in the morning and email and Facebook were buzzing with news about postponing the event. We decided to make a quick stop and grab disposable ponchos while in town before trekking over to the event.   However the ponchos proved unnecessary, Mother Nature decided to cooperate and lifted the rain just in time for things to kick off as planned. 

The course varied slightly this year from last year, and I noticed from the very beginning we didn’t have to run up such a steep incline to run alongside the woods. The trail was about 50ft from the wood line and much more level providing a nice spot to turn up the heat. 

I have to admit I’m jealous of my wife- last year we finished around the 41-42 minute mark (stopping to eat a donut at every mile) and I know she trained for the event. This year, with no training she shaved 3 minutes off her finish time and rounded out the course in 38 mins. Pretty good for having minimal prep. 

Whenever I do a fun run with the Mrs, I choose to stay with her- I could take off and go for a new PR, but the whole point of us doing this event is to just have fun together. Although at the very last leg, Mrs. Standsonthings decided to let me “go” and I decided on an all out sprint at the very end. 

All in all, it was a great race and a wonderful day!

Training Ruts are for Losers

I’ve got some catching up to do. First things first, let’s talk Training Ruts and how to break them – mostly because I’m in one, I’m a loser. ¬†More importantly I need to break out of it and ditch this loser status. ¬†It would help to establish what leads us down the path of a training rut? Maybe it’s the lack of progress that slips us up (I know this is a major factor in my training), maybe it’s lack of motivation? The mornings are my preferred times for training, but it’s been really hard to leave my comfortable bed – and as I lay there knowing I should be running, it all goes away as soon as I close my eyes. Just another 15 minutes.

So what’s your downfall? Mine is a combination platter of the slight lack of progress and motivation.

On Lack of Progress
I love technology, and I love my running tech, I know I’m not the only one guilty of this – but for the love of God give it a rest! ¬†I was glued to my fitness tracking Garmin, if I didn’t get my steps I became cranky, irritable, and would load myself up with doubt. ¬†If my run time was falling behind, or my heart-rates were out of control it would lead me further down the rabbit hole. ¬†So what did I do? ¬†I left my Garmin on (physically on my wrist), and let the battery run out. It was painful and as my Garmin gasped for power and alerted me that it’s battery was low as I pressed on without it. ¬†Can I tell you something? ¬†After about a week of not being constantly reminded of how many steps I took, or any metrics from my workouts, I found myself de-stressing.

But seriously though, I charged up my forerunner after the week and it was like a breath of fresh air.  I still apologize to it now and again.

On Motivation
It’s easy to give into temptation of just laying in that comfortable¬†bed, or saying “I just don’t have time for this today”, or coming up with an excuse not to train. ¬†Excuses are easy, your Lizard Brain (more on this later) doesn’t want you to train. Here’s how you can beat the lizard brain.

Step 1:
Just Do it (picture 
Shia LaBeouf yelling in your ear).
Sounds easy and cliche, but when you are thinking of excuses to not train – take this moment to recognize these excuses and make a mental note that these excuses are negative thoughts. Not only are these thoughts negative, but they aren’t productive. Just Do it. ¬†Force yourself to be productive, get moving. ¬†As soon as your lizard brain rears its head, beat is back with the willpower to just do it. ¬†Bonus points if you run in Nike Shoes.

Step 2:
Change it up and Make it Fun.
If you find yourself slogging through the miles in agony, time to re-think your training. ¬†Make it a point to change things up – I get into a rut where I run everyday on the same treadmill, at the same time, listening to the same songs. ¬†I’m putting myself to sleep just thinking about it. ¬†Time to add in some cross-training or *gasp* taking the run outside. ¬†If you are entered in an off-road race with hills and obstacles, then train off-road on hills and obstacles – what’s the treadmill preparing you for?

Real life example: The Hot Chocolate 15K, in Philadelphia, is relatively flat so the treadmill is perfect for training for this race.  On the other hand the Hard Cider Run is off-road, through the hills and fields of a local winery, the course weaves in and out of the orchards Рnothing a treadmill can prepare you for.  By the way, shameless plug for the $5 OFF discount code for the Hard Cider Run РKENNYB5

Also, if you haven’t done a Virtual Race before, I suggest giving one a try. ¬†There are a TON of virtual race apps out there (we use US Road Running), but all of them are pretty straight-forward. You can register for a race, record your times via the app and receive some cool swag. I’ve done 4 virtual races this year and found they were perfect for making some of my longer training runs fun.

Step 3:
Reward Yourself.

Seriously. ¬†After my morning training session I come home and make the biggest, peanut butteriest, plant-powered-proteiniest, thickest, super smoothiest protein smoothie in the entire world. ¬†I use this super smoothie as a reward for getting up and training and putting in the work. ¬†On the days I don’t train, I don’t deserve such a reward, so I just have a bland smoothie that makes me sad. ¬†Okay, not really, but I don’t reward myself for hitting the snooze.

Annnnd like I mentioned above, if Virtual Races sound cool to you, maybe some of the Virtual Run Metals and Swag can be used as a reward for all your work.

Anyway, enough of me yammering on. I just need to get up, just do it, and then reward myself for being such an amazing athlete.

Garden Spot Village Half Marathon

Well, here it is, my Race Recap of the Garden Spot Village Half Marathon – and I have two words for anyone considering this race: THOSE HILLS! Yes, oh my God, now I’m saying it too.

When I told people I was racing in the Garden Spot Half Marathon, everyone said the same thing; “watch out for those hills”. I heard that so much so, that whenever I told people which race I was signed up for – I would interrupt them and yes, “yes, I know, hills – but I ran the Hershey Half and dealt with my share of hills”. ¬†I was confident I had trained well and was prepared. ¬†However I learned, confidence only gets you so far.

First off, let me start by saying Garden Spot Village (GSV) does a race right. The venue is perfect, the accomidations Рawesome, the staff and support Рout of this world.  My hat is off to GSV for putting together such an awesome event. I enjoyed every detail before the race, I enjoyed every mile during the race, and I thought post-race recovery was done right.  Kudos to their entire team and sponsors.

Now, let’s get down to business and talk racing. I woke up bright and early the day of the race and had a decent breakfast protein shake (Vega Vanilla and Greens, Banana, Quick Oats, Cocoa Nibs, Maca Powder, and Peanut Butter). After taking the pooch out for a walk I came home and donned my running gear.

Typical of my pre-race ritual, I arrived early.  In fact, I was the first runner to pull up to the empty parking lot at 5:55am.  The parking lot attendants clapped and yelped and told me to park anywhere I wanted.

Arrive Early: Check.
Score Amazing Parking: Check.

I waited in my car, meditated, rested my mind – it was hard since I was pumped¬†up and ready to go. ¬†I waited until about 40 mins before the start of the race to emerge from my car and hit the porta-john before flocking over to the tents and excitement. Not that these are excuses, but I had two¬†setbacks I feel like I could¬†have avoided had I done¬†better preparing on my part. I did arrive early and I made sure to use the facilities when I got there, but I forgot to make one last pit stop before the race started. I wanted to make sure I was hydrated so that extra bottle of water in my belly would come back to haunt me. When the race started I immediately had to pee… ugh, not how I wanted to spend the next few miles. ¬†Every two miles GSV had setup a water station and bathrooms, and of course, the first stop was already occupied. Other than having to pee, I felt pretty good, I was breathing a little heavier than I would have liked, but this was a race after all and I will keeping a good pace of 9:30 min/mile among the crowd.

Miles 1 – 4 are pretty uneventful, aside from having to pee the course was proving to be somewhat hilly and challenging, but nothing I couldn’t manage. As I wrapped up mile 5 into 6¬†and feeling good coming down a huge monster¬†hill it dawned on me that I was going to be turning around at some point and running right back up the monster I just traversed. At this point my body was not pleased with my bathroom choices and forced me to stop at the next water station to empty what felt like a gallon of water – and of course there was a little wait so this added more time to the clock.

Once I exited the porta-john I thought I saw the turn-around and my spirits instantly lifted. ¬†I popped some Honey Stinger snacks into my mouth and enjoyed the sugary high they brought. ¬†My joy was very (very) short lived once I realized that what I saw was not the turnaround, but another hilly drop ahead, with the realization that the second leg of the race was mostly uphill. I made it to the turn around and starting noticing that evil voice in my head telling me to just walk for a few minutes to catch my breath before the hillclimb from hell started. ¬†I did my best to ignore this voice – my average pace was right around 9:45 – 10:00 min/mile and the thought of beating my 2:14:00 finish was in sight… or so I thought.

Mile 7 was the kiss of death, I hit that first steep hill and slugged my way up it. I quicken my pace but then used what energy I had and gradually ended up slowing down faster than I expected. Walking, my own personal no-no. My pace went from 9:53, to 11:26, to 16:00 min/mile and I hit the 9 mile mark with a lap time of 14:24 min/mile.

More Honey Stingers. Check.
More Nuun Water. Check

From that point on my moral hit rock bottom, I tried to quicken my pace to at least finish with my¬†same personal best of 2:14:00, but with each slow step the goal grew further and further. ¬†I finished in 2 hours, 27 minutes, and 40 seconds – 13 minutes longer than my personal best. I wasn’t upset, but I wasn’t happy with that time.

So what did I learn? First and foremost – Not all half marathons are the same! And you can never be too prepared – next year I intend on beating my time as this was not where I thought I would end. ¬†I left that race saying “never again” only to find myself saying “next year” a few days later. GSV Half Marathon is no joke, train for hills… serious hills. ¬†Also, I’m not sure carrying my own water was necessary – with water and Gatorade stations every 2 miles, what was I saving myself by toting that extra weight? Next year, I need to ditch carrying so much stuff. ¬†Pee, pee, pee – make sure you pee right before you race even if you have to force it, bathroom breaks kill me. Oh and arriving 2 and a half hours before the event started was awesome – but being so close to home, it was a little overkill, next year an hour extra should suffice.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to the Hershey Half this fall, and I intend on beating my 2:14:00 finish – at least I know there won’t be the same hills as GSV. Now, back to training – The Hard Cider run is just two weeks away!