Friday, September 25, 2015

The Road to the Hershey Half- 3 weeks to train

April 2015- Completed my first 10K, and survived with no major injuries! Meaning, I had shin splints for a while, but they have for the most part gone away. My grandmother passed the day after, and while grieving her passing, my heart was not into running, or really moving at all, but I forced myself to get up and go to work.

Roger and I started talking about the Hershey Half Marathon, and jokingly I mentioned that it could be split up, because they offer a relay option. He could do half and I could do half. We laughing agree to split it. It would still be finisher medals for both, Hershey In the Dark tickets for both and tshirts for both. We left it at that and continued eating our French toast.

May 2015. I had 3 5Ks runs that month, Kat’s Angels, Kennett Run, and the Color Run. I kept up with some of my 10K training, but wasn’t overly worried. I started doing more weights and yoga, and again Roger and I talked about the Hershey half. I don’t know why we are not capable of being serious about this, but again, jokingly I said “So, which half are you doing of the Hershey Half?” at which he answered “Half? I say we do the whole race, and we do it together!” I laughed and said “Yeah right, I do not see myself running 13.1 miles…” and he said “We just have to train, we have all summer”.

After that conversation, anytime I would go near any fatty or sweet, he would say to me “that’s not half marathon food”. It got to be annoying! So when I finally agreed to the training, and doing the Hershey Half, the very first thing I said to Roger was “I do not ever want to hear you say again ‘that’s not Half marathon food’”. We signed up.

June 2015- Let the long runs begin. We started doing longer runs, Roger… who has become my coach and running partner… suggested increasing by 10% each week. He has completed 3 half marathons, and is one person who can for the most part keep up with me and my refusal to ever sit down. When I first met him, he swore to me that he was done with running, that he would at most do a 5K, but never longer than that. We did the Color Run together and He followed me to many 5Ks last year, in the heat and humidity, and snow and the rain, the cold and the snow. This year, he finally got tired of being an observer and has joined me for 3 5Ks and 1 10K this year. I am very proud of him!

Roger has also has talked me through weight training, and track exercise. We had done weight training before, and I want to admit that I have had a difficult time with the track exercises, they seem so silly and I feel completely ridiculous. I always do them, but almost always hate them.

But this track exercises have helped me, they have helped me a lot. I have improved my running speed by a lot. This year my best 5K time has been 25.30! Never in my life did I think I could run a 5K in that time. Before that I was averaging my best times at 27.30.

June was longer and longer runs. We hit 7 miles, we outgrew Wildwood Park, and had to find other places to run further distances. We started running in Hershey, the Jonathan Eshenaur Memorial Trail.

July 2015- We ran 9 miles! Training kept going. Running, weight training, log runs, cross training, track exercises. All done during the heat of July, only once we overslept, and we still did some running at Wildwood. That was a fun run!  It was blazing hot and humid, which gave me a new appreciation for summers in PA.

August 2015- Who would have ever thought I could *run* 10 miles! Looking at my Fitbit history, that was about how much distance I could cover in 3 active days! And now I can say that I ran/jogged/walked 10 miles!

In August I started running in the Harrisburg River front trails, which are crowded with lots of runners, and I love it!

Slightly increased from 10 miles. Hershey half drawing closer and closer.

I completed 10K, with better time than my Hershey 10K. And I’m still working on track exercises, weights and zumba. Trying to find time to add Yoga. 

September 2015


September is almost over!! Where did it go? This month has gone by really fast. I was supposed to increase my running by a lot, but between soccer practice, work and work, I have been slacking. I completed a 12.6 miles long run. I did stop a couple of times, but I still completed it! and keep telling myself that 12.6 is only .50 more to the half marathon distance.

3.5 weeks to go. Roger and I are doing a training 15K run… it’s not an official run, but maybe we can call it the Ana and Roger are Crazy 15K. Roger has promised medals and tshirts. We’ll see how that turns out.




Thursday, September 24, 2015

Bird in Hand 5K

Date of the race: September 11, 2015
Time: 6:30 pm
Weather: 72, sunny, slightly humid.
Fee: Registered the week before $30
Shirt: Navy blue tech shirt, pretty sweet shirt! I might even wear it.
Goodie bag: one whoopee pie, a couple of coupons and a pretty hilarious exercise block.
Lots and lots of portable toilets.
I want to say first that I was green with envy for those doing the half marathon! I have been training for the Hershey Half all summer, according to my Map My Run, I’ve logged over 200 miles of Runs, including races, training and hikes, so I felt that I would have been ready for the half! I’m glad I didn’t run in, because I was nowhere near ready, and I hope all the runners had a fantastic race!
I have been excited for the 5K for months! I knew I would not do the half from the beginning, but also knew that I would be there at least to have the opportunity to meet Christopher McDougall, since he would be there to promote his new book. My sister told me that she couldn’t wait for the race to be over, so I could stop talking about it.
I made several mistakes during the day, leading up to the run, mostly food mistakes, which I am still learning from. I’ll stack up the things that were against my run: 1. I had to work that day, from 8-2:30, I left work early to go to the race, 2. I ate lunch late, and wasn’t happy with it. 3. I didn’t eat a strong breakfast. 4. We arrived 1 hour later than we had planned; we were driving from Harrisburg to Bird in Hand, which on a good day takes 1 hour, but 1.45 hours on a Friday. I had planned to eat my bagel and find a small something to add to it, but got in so late that I had to eat my bagel as we were going to the Half Marathon expo tent, to get ready to start running. But I was feeling good and happy, so didn’t pay much attention to it.
Roger did the race with me, because he has wanted to beat his 5K time all summer. So, we got there and went over to meet Christopher McDougall, author of the book Born to Run. I read his book last summer, and it inspired me to run more. Whenever I am struggling in a run, I tell myself “I was born to run, I was born to run” over and over. It’s my race mantra. I asked him for a picture with me, and completely panicked after that and forgot to tell him how much I loved his book! I can be very socially awkward sometimes. He was really nice, and super friendly to everybody. I feel so lucky to have had the chance to meet him. Some people get excited to meet celebrities, I get excited to meet book authors.
The excitement could be felt through the entire crowd, from all people around, the runners, the spectators, and volunteers. It was electrifying!
As the 5K race was about to start, the hot air balloons were launched, the view of the balloons was spectacular! I have not seen so many hot air balloons up in the air at the same time, so close to me! it was an amazing experience. The runners included Amish men and women, and/ or Mennonite men and women. This is my second time running in Lancaster and I find it amazing to see the Amish men and Women run in their regular clothes. Men in long black plants and sneakers, women on their long skirts. Here I am complaining of the weather, wearing my tech shorts, and tech shirt, and the Amish are running circles around me in their traditional clothing. I still have a lot to learn.  

The race started exactly at 6:30; there were pacers from the start to the end. I placed myself towards the end of the 8min/ mile pacer, knowing my best average has been 8.05. I should have known better! The other races were under different conditions, on early Saturday mornings. Race started, we were running along the farms. This is one of me most beautiful running routes I have ran. The Amish families were out looking at the race, the corn fields were all around us, we ran through a corn field and along the road. I’m pretty sure I remember seeing a group of Amish men in a horse harvesting a field, but I might be imagining things, because around this time my running started to get sloppy.
I stared to feel really tired, so I slowed down, and then started feeling more tired, so I stopped. This was around mile 1.2; I walked for a tiny bit and was passed by a big group of runners. I picked up running again, and got water at the half way water station, which was staffed by Amish children. I got a cup from an adorable girl.
I had a quick sip of water, and then kept on running, and my real problems started. The water combined with the bagel I ate before the run, made my stomach feel big and bloated. A few steps later, I got stiches on both sides of my stomach. I stopped again. I walked a few more steps, as a ton more runners passed me. This was completely unlike me! Other than The Color Run, in which it is IMPOSSIBLE to run from the start, because of all the walkers, I had not stopped at any other runs, not even the 2 10Ks I had done. But this time I was stopping because my stomach was cramping! I walked and tried to pick up running again, it was no use! By then, my legs started to feel really tired, my entire body started to feel tired. I must have looked like I was really struggling, because a Mennonite girl came by me, grabbed my shoulder and told me “You go this!” I said thank you as she flew by me took a few deep breaths and started running again, only about 1.2 miles to go.

I kept that pace until the end, crossing the finish line at 27.30. I was completely out of breath and panting deeply. I kept walking to try to ease my breathing. I felt a little defeated, and tired. I don’t feel like that after run, I normally feel energized and happy. I shook it off and went to take pictures of Roger at the finish line. He finished at 31.24. He also wasn’t happy. He said that he also got side
stiches and couldn’t keep on running, had to stop.
We both felt pretty defeated, so we made promises to train a lot harder, no more whining and go all out with running. That only lasted about a week.
We got the spaghetti dinner, because we had planned it. The food was amazing! We had the salad, breadsticks made from a piece of heaven, pasta and pizza. We ate a lot, despite having said we were not hungry. We hadn’t eaten that much in a long time! We made a note to ourselves, when we go back for the Half and 5K next year, we are definitely getting the pasta dinner.

While we were eating lots of other runners and volunteers talked to us, everybody was very friendly! This has to be one of the most interactive and social race I have done.
I spotted two local runners I follow on Instagram, I knew from their post they would be running the half marathon, and they had posted that they were at the pasta and bonfire that night. After much debating inside my head, I walked over to say hi and wish them luck in their race. They were both super nice… even though I looked crazy and was all stinky from the 5K.

After we ate, and walked around a little, we were able to look back and appreciate everything we had experienced that night. We go to meet, talk to, shake hands with and take a picture with Christopher McDougall, an experience I would have never thought possible. We ran through a beautiful and truly unique route, that we would have never had the opportunity to run, we saw the hot air balloon launch, which had been amazing, we had the most delicious pasta and breadsticks from heaven! And we only had a small taste of the race, since the half marathon was not until the next day. So overall, it was an amazing night, and we were fortunate to have the opportunity to be there. We were definitely coming back next year for the 5K and the Half marathon.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Memories of Hiking the Falls in Ricketts Glen Park – June 2014

Back in the spring of 2014 Roger and I looked at the 13 places to Visit in Pennsylvania article we found in Penn Live. One place that caught our eye was The Ganoga Falls in Ricketts Glen State Park. He kept begging for us to go, but I kept rolling my eyes at him and thinking it was too far to drive, and at the time, I wasn’t sure what the hike would be like or if the drive would be worth the hike, but he kept insisting and I agreed to go. I’m pretty sure it was because there was no zumba at Art in Motion that weekend. Looking back, I was pretty negative about the idea of the trip, and how I regret not having gone sooner. These are some of the things I remember about it, it has been one of the best trips we took last year.

Early that morning we packed some water, some Kind Bars and I also packed a yogurt. No, we had no idea what we were doing, how long the trail was, or how long it would take us to hike it. We only knew that the hike was difficult and muddy, but we didn’t look up how long it would take to hike it. Roger didn’t even bring a backpack, only his sweater. The drive took us a little over 2.5 hours, we made a few bathroom and food stops.

When we arrived to the park, used the bathroom, grabbed a map and headed to the falls. We thought this would take a couple of hours and when we would be heading back home to pick up dinner. So we walked slow and easy, snacking and taking pictures, enjoying the beautiful waterfalls. The hiking was somewhat difficult, some of the trails around the falls were very small, the steps were wet, muddy and steep, but the surroundings were breathtakingly beautiful. Most of the hike was going down, with little climbing.

We saw the first 5 falls and were ready to head back, when we realized that the biggest fall, the one we had come to see, Ganoga Falls, was in the opposite directions we had gone, and about 1.5 miles from where we were at. So we sat down and reviewed our plan, we could turn around and go home, and miss the biggest waterfall, the reason for the trip, or to speed up, skip pictures of the next 7 or so falls and make it up to Ganoga in 30 minutes. We picked the second option.
So we started walking, almost running downhill to the middle of the trail, bumped into a lot of people by accident, it seemed the closer we got to Ganoga, the more people we saw. After 15 minutes of speed hiking, we were sweating, out of breath and hot, but we pushed on… only stopping a couple of times, once to review the map, another to get a picture of an awesome waterfall and a couple sips of water.

When we arrived to Ganoga falls, we knew it was all worth it. The fall was a beautiful tall fall, we were at the bottom looking up at it, and the view was amazing. There were a lot of other people at Ganoga, families, groups of friends, professional photographers, all of us admiring the beauty of nature. We stayed at Ganoga, catching our breath, drinking water and enjoying the magnificent view. 

After catching our breath, we walked around the fall a little, we were able to walk closer to the fall, so close we could feel the spray of the water. Some people were even trying to climb as high as they could to get closer.

The view was breathtaking, I took tons of pictures, and wanted to capture as much as I could of the entire scene, the noise of the water falling, the quiet of the trees, the rumblings of people around us. I took a short video to try to preserve this memory.
After about 40 minutes of ogling at the Ganoga, we started our hike back, mostly an uphill climb. After Ganoga, there were a few smaller falls and as we were very tired from our rush to get to Ganoga, we took it easy and slow. It was about 2 miles hike back to the car with some difficult climbs.

By the time we got back we were really hungry and really thirsty. We left and got some very well deserved Wendy’s burgers.

Some tips I gave my sisters when they went to hike the falls.

·         Bring water, 2 bottles per person.

·         Bring snacks, I highly recommend some type of granola, nut, or protein bar.

·         Wear layers, and have a long sleeve shirt, even if you go in the summer. Temps are cooler up in the mountain.

·         Very important! Wear sneakers, preferable hiking sneakers. The hike is difficult; some paths are narrow and muddy.

·         Bring a picnic, or a sandwich. The hike is long, so I would not recommend brining a cooler on the hike, but definitely some food and snacks.

·         Eat before going. Again, long and difficult hike.

·         Use the bathroom before starting the hike. I know I said to bring water, but know that there are no other bathrooms other than the ones in the parking lots, which are FAR from the hiking trail.

·         Take pictures, but enjoy the surroundings. The scenery in the park, like many parks in Pennsylvania is beautiful, I sometimes get caught up on wanting to capture all of it, that I lose track of enjoying the moment.

·         And as always, take only pictures, leave only footprints.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Off the training Schedule


Aah!! It has been a long week, a wonderful weekend, but exhausting. I’m out of sync with my half marathon training and it’s beginning to stress me out a little. Here is how I came off the plan, and how I hope to correct it soon.

Saturday Aug 29

I did my 10K- and got firs place female. It was awesome. I was a little tired, but rested most of the rest of Saturday and was ready to run 6 more miles on Sunday.

Sunday Aug 30

I was feeling good, and rested. All ready to run 6 miles. But I made a mistake. I wore shoes that I hadn’t worn in a few runs, and I only wore one pair of socks, after having been wearing two pairs of socks, to prevent blisters… a big investment on socks is needed soon. \

I was feeling really good, considering that I had ran 6 miles the day before, and then my left toe started to feel tingly and painful. I stopped. I had the exact same experience at the Color Run in Philadelphia in 2014, and ignored it then. And the ball of my toe was never the same again, to this day I can’t wear high heels for longer than 3 minutes. I stopped, and went to get my other pair of socks, hoping it will fix the pain. It didn’t. I ran about 1 .5 miles, then got desperate and took off my sneakers. I just kept thinking, I can’t have any injuries, not this close to the Half Marathon, I can’t have my left toe with issues too! I ran barefoot for about half a mile. Then I just walked. I put on my shoes again, but they were still bothering me. I was up by Shipoke and saw Roger coming along the river. I climbed down and told him about the shoes and that I wanted to throw the sneakers down the river… but I have a rule against littering. I ran another half mile without sneakers and only on my socks. I completed 3 miles.

We went hiking for 5 miles after the failed attempt at running.

Tuesday Sept 1st

My son has soccer practice on Tuesdays from 6:30-7:30, and I chose zumba, because zumba makes me super happy. Did weight training and rested.

Wednesday Sept 2

Turns out… I’m a huge chicken and don’t like running in the dark. I did a 2 mile fartlek, but it was dark and that scared me, so I was done by 7:40.  1 hour of zumba. 30 min of weight training.

Thursday Sept 3rd – Rest day

Picked up my son, went to soccer practice and rested.

Friday Sept 4th- half ass day

I was planned to go to heavy yoga at Art In Motion Fitness with Denise, who is awesome and always pushes me, but got a call late Thursday night that my sister wanted to come over and get breakfast and lunch with me. I couldn’t pass it up, she rarely ever visits exclusively with me. I ran 1 mile while waiting for her to arrive, skipped yoga and zumba.

Saturday, Sept 5- Dutch Wonderland day

I enjoyed the last of the heat at Dutch Wonderland with my son.  We walked around the park, did rides, played in the water, and ate a hot dog and fries…. Which I should not, but it was the best choice in food at Dutch Wonderland, in my opinion anyway. This was exhausting!

Sunday Sept 6- I don’t want to talk about Sunday

Sundays are my long run days; I was scheduled to run 10.4 miles. I had my son, and knew he would be with me for the entire holiday, so I had planned to at 10:00 am, while Roger watched him. But plans changed. I was tired from the trip the day before, I was dehydrated and hungry. By the time we were to leave for City Island, I had a hard time convincing my son to leave with me…. Most of the time, it takes a lot of sweet talking and negotiating especially when it involves doing something that does not include playing or buying him toys.

I came up with a crazy idea later that day, I wanted to get my son a bike, so that we could go to the park later, and have him ride his bike, while I ran. We spent the rest of the day between Target and Toys ‘R Us checking bikes. Finally picked up the bike and went to the park to run. Did 3 miles.

Monday – Color Run with Brother

I agreed to do the Color Run in Penn State with my younger brother, 3 weeks ago. His first official run! My family has slowly learned that I will go almost anywhere if they say "lets do this run" to me. He said he wanted to beat my time, and I let him. I know I can run 3 miles in 27 minutes, but with the amount of people at the color run, the getting up super early to drive to PSU, I made the decision that it was not worth the extra effort to run faster. The run ended up being 3.4 miles, instead of the typical 3 miles of the color run. It was fun, my son got to get some color on himself during the color throws, and whole package of gold color on me. I loved how much fun he had!

Tuesday – Thursday: I had said it before, I have a weird custody schedule and only run when my son is with his father, this week with the holiday change, I had my son for an entire week, but still managed to run 7.8 miles of the 15 I had to do this week.

Now the trick will be to figure out how to get back to the long distances. I was supposed to be doing 11 miles this Sunday, the trick will be to get there without feeling like I will die. So tonight I will run the Bird In Hand 5K. And either Saturday or Sunday as far as I can get to 11 miles… I’m hoping for 10.





Wednesday, September 02, 2015

The Day I won 1st Place Female

The Day I won 1st Place Female

Race: Ninja 10K

Where: Harrisburg PA, City Island.

Weather conditions- Sunny, and humid. Temperature : 72.

Organizer: US Road Running

Shirt : Red tech Ninja shirt

Number of runners – 23

Part of our training for the Hershey half includes a 10K, so I picked the Ninja 10K  in Harrisburg, because it was giving out finisher medals. It seems that at some point, collecting shirts and bibs is not enough.

So early Saturday morning, we went to get our bibs and shirts, and then headed to get some food. The 5K started at 8:00 am and the 10K at 9:10 am. It seemed weird that the 10K would be the last to start, and so late, but we just went with it.

As the time was getting closer to the run, we didn’t see many other people getting close to the start line. I didn’t think anything of it, I was excited and nervous, and ready to just start running, it was getting hot!

We started at exactly 9:10, and all 23 of us took off running. At first it was a little strange to be at the front of the group, I have done lots of runs, the smallest one being the Irish Jig Jog 5K at which the fastest runners took off flying. We were all huddling behind the man with the yellow shirt, who was wearing a video camera on his head. Right about .10 of a mile, I knew I needed to start running faster and passed him slowly on the left side. About 30 seconds later, a man wearing a gray shirt passed me.

We went down by the river and ran. For me, the first mile is always the longest of the entire race. I can be running my long run day of 10 miles and the first mile still feels as if it lasted 25 minutes. The bike pacer seemed to be bored at the slow pace we were going. I have been training for the half marathon for 3 months now, but my pace is still at 8.45 – 9:30. No leaping speeds here !

The feeling of being at the front of a race was very strange! I kept thinking, ‘There is no way that I’m at the front, this must be a dream…. Am I in another person’s reality? What is happening?” but I kept my pace and kept moving. At around mile 2, I had a magical moment! I was running and only thinking of running and I was transported to a magical place, where I was just floating and happy. It didn’t feel like I was running, I wasn’t hot, or trying to catch my breath, my body was only magically moving through time and space. It was fantastic!

The river path ended shortly before mile 2, at which point we moved up to Front  Street. We ran at my usual Sunday Morning route. It was around this point that I started to wonder about the water stations and where there would be one. I was not going to stop at a water fountain, that would mess up my pace and time.

We ran past Wiconisco Street, and I saw a water cooler, provided by Fleetfeet Mechanicsburg, as indicated in the cooler. But I would have to stop, pour my water and dump the cup. Stupidly I kept hoping that there would be a water stop, and that somebody would hand me a cup of water. Nothing.

There were a lot of other runners in the route we took, who were not in the race. And a lot were very supportive of me, and some kept telling me “You go get him!”, “ Stay strong”, “ You got this!”, “ You go get him girl!”. It was all so wonderful, I tried to breathlessly tried to say Thank you as I kept moving.

The turnaround point was at Division Street, there was another water cooler, which also required me to stop pour water and dump the cup. But I kept going. No time to stop. Shortly after this point, The man in the gray shirt started walking. I kept running.

I found Roger at the Fleet Feet Water cooler; he was in what looked like his second cup when he crossed the road to give me a high five. AT that point I wish I would have snatched the cup of water in his hand. But instead I kept going.

Shortly after 3.5 miles we went back to the river trail, and left Front Street. At this point I started to feel a little tired, but told myself to just keep moving and keep running. I slowed down a little, without stopping. I wasn’t struggling, just felt thirsty and my legs were feeling tired. I started to tell myself that if I kept going, I would win first place overall and could finally tell my son that I had won a race. I got a little too confident and started running a bit faster, then slower because I was tired. I had my headphones on, and I kept trying to focus on the music.

It was at around mile 4.5 that the man in the yellow shirt passed me. I kept up with his pace for about .25 of a mile and then realized that I didn’t have it in me to keep his pace, and slowed down again. I felt defeated, then only to remind myself that I was still in the top 2! And that I still had 1.7 miles to go. I started to tell myself that I would still be first place female.

I ran up the ramp going to the Market Street Bridge and I was very happy to know the bridge was the last of the run. I kept running. About .20 miles from me, I saw the man in the yellow shirt cross the finish line. I sprinted the last .05 miles and crossed the finish line. The organizers let me cross the finish ribbon, it was awesome! I got my water, got my medal and was super excited to be done.

The man on the yellow shirt came and shook my hand and congratulate me, I congratulated him too. He said that I kept a good pace the whole run.  I waited for Roger to finish so I could take pictures at the finish line.

The medal was bigger than I had expected, it was very nice with a spinning circle on top! I liked that as we crossed the finish line, the announcer would say our name, and our time. I didn’t hear mine, but heard Roger’s. That was one of my favorite things of the run.

When the race was done, a few of the other runners came and congratulated me on my finish, it felt wonderful!

The group of runners was very small, so I didn’t win because I am a fast runner, but because I was one of the few runners. Maybe I shouldn’t try to take my “First Female” win away from myself, after all, a 10K with 2000 people and a 10K with 23 people is still a 10K. I’m proud of myself to keeping a good pace and finishing my run, and I’m happy to be able to report to my son that I have won a race!