Running the Firecracker 8K in Southampton, New York on Sunday, July 6 was an impromptu decision. Sometimes those last-minute races I throw in the calendar are the best. Without time to worry and hand-wring, I just shrug my shoulders with a, “Here goes something.”
Phil and I were vacationing at a friend’s house in Southampton on Long Island’s southern oceanfront beach territory for the holiday weekend. We logged a run on the beach in deep sand two days before and did calisthenics by the pool the day before.
Beach run! (RunKarlaRun.com)
But like we do just about everywhere we go, we checked RunningInTheUSA.com to see if there were any races nearby. Wouldn’t you know it? The start was less than a mile from the house.
Heartbreak Hill Half medals. (Photo: Grace Donnelly)
The Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Half & Festival from June 5-8, 2014 in Newton and Boston, Massachusetts felt a lot like running camp. But the titular half-marathon lived up to its name: it was a bit heartbreaky and a bit hilly. And I loved almost every minute of it.
Taking the Heartbreak Hill Half seriously. (Photo: @myEPevents, Inc)
I attended the race courtesy of Runner’s World as part of their official blogger crew. (They covered my race entries, dorm room and some meals. I covered my transportation to and from Boston and other meals.)
The race was a chance to run along the most famous section of Boston Marathon course. For Boston Marathon qualifiers and hopefuls, it was a chance to test their legs on the storied climb. For runners like me—for whom qualifying for Boston is a distant “someday” dream—it was a chance to know exactly what all those faster runners are talking about when they dismiss Heartbreak Hill as “not that bad” or confirm its notoriety as “brutal.” I’ve heard the hill described both ways and was excited to find out for myself.
Roughly 6,700 finishers from 47 U.S. states ran in the 5K, 10K, half-marathon, kids’ run and dog run at the weekend. Exactly 3,074 runners finished the half-marathon; 1,838 completed the 10K; 1,565 crossed the line in the 5K, and 69 doggies finished the Eukanuba Dog Run.
The post-race festival. (Photo: Brita Meng Outzen)
There’s too much for me to cover in one post, so I’ll share all my doings at the race over the next few weeks. I already covered the Runner’s World 5K, Expo, Festival programming, on-campus accommodations and blogger crew in Race Report: Runner’s World 5K at Heartbreak Hill Half.
Seven years ago to the day, I toed the line in my very first race. My raceiversary reminds me how far I’ve come: from a totally clueless newbie in cotton socks to an intermediate runner with seven marathons under my race belt. Running beginners, take heart.
On April 29, 2007, I remember being incredibly nervous as I readied for my first race ever, with 5,720 other runners lining up in New York City’s Central Park. I’d being running casually for two years already, so I’d run those hills countless times. But I still didn’t know what to expect from a “race.” It was New York Road Runners’ Run as One TGL Classic. I pushed myself as hard as I could and finished the 4-miler in 46:19 at an 11:34 pace.
Seven years later, I’m amazed by how far I’ve come. My 4-mile personal best is 34:38 at an 8:40 pace. I clawed my way from the back of the pack to the middle to the front of the middle. My half-marathon personal best is 19:18 faster than the national median time of 2:19:48 for women.
And I’m still getting faster.
I hear from running beginners a lot. Having started running from scratch after battling a bone tumor in my leg for a decade, I know what it’s like to hit the pavement and be instantly out of breath. But I also know that by sticking with it, I just kept getting better and running just kept getting easier.
So I thought I’d share some cold, hard stats about just how far I’ve come as a runner. Here’s a comparison between my race times from 2007 and now. The moral of the story: If I can do it, anyone can.
My first 1 miler at the Norway Run. (Photo: brightroom)
Inspiration For Running Beginners
My first race, April 29, 2007
4 miles then: 46:19 at 11:34 pace
4 miles now: 34:38 at 8:40 pace
At a 2013 track workout
My first 3-miler/5K, May 22, 2007
3 miles then: 32:17 at 10:45 pace
3 miles now: 23:22 at 7:47 pace
At the 2013 Wild Dog Triathlon
My first 10K, June 9, 2007
6.2 miles then: 1:11:20 at 11:30 pace
6.2 miles now: 54:09 at 8:44 pace
At a 2013 track workout
My first 1-miler, October 6, 2007
1.7 miles then: 16:14 at 9:32 pace
1 mile now: 6:46 at 6:46 pace
At the 2011 Fifth Avenue Mile (I haven’t raced a mile since then!)
Crossing the finish line of my first marathon. (Photo: brightroom)
My first marathon, November 4, 2007
26.2 miles then: 5:54:25 at 13:31 pace
26.2 miles now: 4:28:06 at 10:14 pace
Finishing Run For The Parks in Central Park. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)
Regular readers know I host On The Run, New York Road Runners’ Web and TV show about running. It’s a job I genuinely love that has one flaw: I don’t get to run any of the races I cover for the show. It’s OK. I’ve run most of NYRR’s major events in the past: TCS New York City Marathon, NYC Half, Brooklyn Half, Staten Island Half, Fifth Avenue Mile, the list goes on.
Thankfully, NYRR puts on dozens of other races throughout the year. I’ve done a New York Road Runner’s 4-mile run in April every year since 2007, except 2012. It’s traditionally my first fitness test of the year. Basically, this one is my annual wake-up call.
Stretching in Central Park after my 6-miler on Saturday. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)
First, I’m lucky to call Central Park home turf. The day before the race, I logged 6 miles, much of them through the park. After a winter of hiding out on the treadmill and running errands on the city streets, Central Park kicked my butt. It’s both an unusually beautiful and challenging place to run.
My splits at this race were a case in point. Mile 1 is uphill and (and pretty crowded): I ran 9:20. Slow for me. Too slow. Mile 2 is mostly flat: I ran 8:39. Mile 3 is a series of three hills: I ran 9:01. Mile 4 is largely downhill: I ran 8:35. Read the rest of this entry →
Minnie Mouse presides over the Walt Disney World 10K. (Photo: runDisney)
The Walt Disney World 10K on Friday, January 10, 2014 was the second of four races at the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend: the 5K, 10K, half-marathon and marathon.
runDisney invited me to be their guest at the race. Some 7,000 runners were completing all four races as part of the Dopey Challenge. Another 3,000 runners, like me, were just along for the ride.
It was the inaugural Walt Disney World 10K with a brand new race patron and medal: Minnie Mouse.
I can’t believe Minnie is only just now getting her own race. (UPDATE: A few readers have pointed out that Minnie Mouse used to host a Women Run the World 15K, known as the Minnie Marathon, that was eventually replaced by Disney’s Princess Half Marathon in 2009. Glad this isn’t Minnie’s first race!)
Going into the Walt Disney World 10K I had just two letters on my mind: PR. I desperately wanted to break 54 minutes and my personal best of 54:09. I was well trained and ready to run. But I had four things working against me come race day.
“I want adventure in the great wide somewhere!” Me too, Belle!
It’s a tale as old as time: wearing Disney running costumes to races. OK, maybe it’s not a tale as old as time, but for me it does go back to the 2012 Tinker Bell Half Marathon, where I donned my first of many Disney running costumes and emerged a changed woman.
But it also means choosing one carefully. No wigs, no hats, no elaborate accessories, and, most importantly, I need to have my hair pulled back. Cinderella was perfect because she wore her hair in a bun to the ball. I almost always wear my hair in a bun when I race.
So I finally settled on the perfect Disney gal to guide me to a new running frontier: Beauty and the Beast’s Belle. Read the rest of this entry →
We’re nearly a week into 2014 and my first three races of the year—the Disney Family Fun Run 5K, Walt Disney World 10K and Walt Disney World Half Marathon—are already upon us.
I guess it’s finally time to write down my running goals for 2014.
When I look at them, one thing comes to mind: I’m a Maverick. I want to go faster. In 2013, I made the realization I’m a Speed Demon, not an Endurance Monster. I love speed workouts. I hate long runs. I run a 6:46 mile, but have struggled to break 2 hours in the half-marathon. Speed, not distance, has been good to me. So I’m giving into that for 2014.
But let’s see how I did on my 2013 goals, first.
Running Goals For 2013
1. Get even faster
SUCCESS! I make this goal every year because it works for me. Last year I wrote: “In 2013, I’m going to try to knock out a 5K and 10K PR.” Done and done. I knocked out the following personal records in 2013: Read the rest of this entry →
As tempting as it would be to tackle the marathon or, even more, the Dopey Challenge, I’m “just” going to run every other race that weekend instead. That’s right, I’ll be tackling the Disney Family Fun Run 5K, Walt Disney World 10K and Walt Disney World Half Marathon on three consecutive days. Read the rest of this entry →
So far, I’ve been surprised by how easy it’s been. But much of my first week was a “vacation” week, away from my desk and cavorting with family. So it was relatively easy to make time to run every day.
Now that I’m home and back behind the computer, things are getting real. Yesterday, I squeezed in one measly mile on the treadmill sandwiched between work and an evening trip to the grocery store because I had zero, and I mean, zero, zilch, nada food in my kitchen.
I know that not every day is going to be great. Those 1-miles days are essentially my days off. But I was surprised by how laborious that 1-mile felt. Here’s hoping today is better!
Runner’s World Holiday Running Streak Week 1
Wednesday, Nov. 27: 6.50 miles
I started strong one day earlier than the official start on Thanksgiving Day with six miles and six hill repeats thrown in. Bam! It felt amazing.
Thursday, Nov. 28: 2.15 miles
I wanted to run more but this was all I had time for before it was time to start cooking for the big Thanksgiving feast. But I was still riding a high from the day before. Read the rest of this entry →
Great T-Shirt design at the Trot Off Your Turkey 5K. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)
The Trot Off Your Turkey 5K in Barrington, R.I., in Saturday, November 30 was, I’m amazed to say, my very first Turkey Trot in seven years of racing.
It was a fantastic local event with 637 runners in the 5K and 229 in the 1.5-mile run/walk. I loved everything about this race, from the flat course and bountiful post-race spread to the great T-shirt design and warm, community vibe.
It was 28 degrees at the start, so my husband, Phil, and I bundled up for a brisk run on a cloudless, blue-sky day.
A food drive and raffle raised money for TapIn, an all-volunteer, outreach program that provides food, clothing, household goods, transportation and other services to local residents in need.
The main event was a fundraiser for St. Luke’s School, where the race was held. Bib pick-up and the raffle were inside the school gym, which I very much appreciated since it was so cold outside. Read the rest of this entry →
The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 20, 2013 was my seventh marathon in as many years. Put on by Canada Running Series, the entire event was top-notch with a flat course around Canada’s largest city.
Hugging much of the city’s waterfront, the course is known as a fast, but sometimes windy, race.
But this year, runners couldn’t have asked for more ideal weather. The temperature at the start hovered around 40 degrees Fahrenheit, warming up to 55 later in the day. Clear skies brought plenty of sunshine, and wind was negligible. It was a perfect day to run a marathon.
More than 20,000 runners tackled races at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon: 3,655 runners finished the marathon, 10,094 finished the half-marathon, and 6,493 finished the 5K. Runners came from every Canadian province, more than 40 U.S. states, and 60 countries around the world. I heard runners speaking a myriad of languages, and heard even more end their sentences with, “Eh?” Only in Canada. Read the rest of this entry →
But I’m not just running the race. I’m also taking part in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon Media Challenge, a race-within-a-race where reporters, editors, producers, photographers and assorted media folk face off against each other for charity. I’m running on behalf of the Sarcoma Cancer Foundation of Canada in memory of my cousin, Laura, who died last year from a sarcoma cancer.
The Hamza family won Best Dressed Costume in the 5K. (Photo: Canada Running Series)
It’s all part of the Scotiabank Charity Challenge, an initiative that raised $4.3 million for 181 charities in 2012.
The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon hosts 25,000 runners from over 60 countries for the event’s three race distances: the marathon, half-marathon and 5K.
The marathon course is known as a flat and fast, but sometimes windy, run around Canada’s largest city, with 150,000 spectators cheering runners on.
Whatsmore, more than one-quarter of the race’s runners register to support one of the event’s 180 official charities partners.
Stephane Hetherington won Best DressedCostume in the marathon and a Guinness World Record for fastest marathon in a superhero costume. (Photo: Canada Running Series)
Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon Charity Challenge
The Scotiabank Charity Challenge has lots of competitions to encourage people to raise money.
Charities can earn bonus money for placing in the top three in each of these categories: most participants, most money raised, most money per participant raised. It’s an extra incentive Scotiabank gives charities to get as many runners as they can out on the course.
But that’s just the beginning of the challenge.
Perhaps the most fun is the Best Dressed Costume contest. Runners can win extra money for their charity of choice by taking home the best-dressed prize. Scotiabank donates $5,000 to the costume winners’ charity picks. Read the rest of this entry →
View of Manhattan from Newport Town Square. (Photo: Phil Hospod)
Direct Edge Newport Liberty Half Marathon
Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Direct Edge Newport Liberty Half Marathon is a low-frills event in Jersey City, N.J. with 2,700 runners and a gorgeous course.
When I say gorgeous, I mean gorgeous. As the website claims, this is easily the most beautiful half marathon course in New York City’s metro area. I’ve run the NYC Half, Brooklyn Half, Staten Island Half and Yonkers Half. While they all have their charms—run through Times Square at the NYC Half, finish on the Coney Island Boardwalk in Brooklyn, watch FDNY fire boats perform a water salute in Staten Island, and take in cliff high views of the Hudson River in Yonkers—the Newport Liberty Half Marathon offers more breathtaking views mile for mile than any other NYC area race I’ve done. Read the rest of this entry →
The Wild Dog Triathlon on August 11, 2013 in the charming town of Bristol, Rhode Island did not disappoint with a gorgeous course and great organization. I’ve long been a fan of the state known as “Little Rhody.” It’s one of my favorite summer vacation getaways. I’ve run a small handful of races there—the UnitedHealthcare Providence Half Marathon and two local 5Ks.
But the Wild Dog Triathlon was my first multi-sport event in Rhode Island, and it has to be the most scenic of the bunch I’ve done. With a swim in the warm waters of Narragansett Bay, a looped bike course around the dazzling Colt State Park, and an out-and-back run entirely along the water, this is a race I’d happily do again.
Bristol Harbor at morning. (Photo: Phil Hospod)
Bristol, Rhode Island
The town of Bristol recalls many a fictional, but picturesque New England hamlet like Stars Hollow, Conn., of “Gilmore Girls” fame or Cabot Cove, Maine from “Murder She Wrote.” There’s also a touch of Quahog, R.I. from “The Family Guy.” How cute is Rhode Island and Narragansett Bay? They’ve served as the backdrop for idyllic films like Moonrise Kingdom, Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, and Dan In Real Life, not to mention many a Farrelly brothers’ movie like There’s Something About Mary and Dumb and Dumber. The Big Blue Bug? It’s actually mounted on the roof of a building in Rhode Island.
But Bristol is the real deal. The town is most famous for its 4th of July parade, the oldest in the U.S., dating back to 1785. The double-yellow line that marks two-way traffic on most streets isn’t yellow at all in Bristol. Along the parade-route, it’s red, white and blue year-round.
But that’s only part of Bristol’s charm. Throw in a town common with an actual white gazebo (take that Stars Hollow), a bustling downtown on the waterfront, a 14-mile bike path that goes all the way to Providence, and an embarrassment of museums, grand old mansions, and public-access green spaces like Colt State Park and Mount Hope Farm. Simply, Bristol is a perfect place for a summer retreat…or a triathlon.
The men of wave 1 wait for the start. (Photo: Phil Hospod)
Wild Dog Triathlon
The race was exceedingly well organized. Registration and packet pick-up was a breeze, the race started on time, and the courses were well-marked. Read the rest of this entry →
Previous installments have looked at Sleeping Beauty as the runner who needs to take a few weeks off even if she doesn’t want to, and Alice in Wonderland as the newbie runner who has fallen down the running rabbit hole.
This week, we’re working hard with my favorite runDisney Princess and one who suits Disney’s Princess Half Marathon perfectly…Cinderella Read the rest of this entry →
I’m not the fastest runner and I’m not the slowest, but I am a running nerd. A journalist by trade, I love to research, read, learn and cogitate. So stick with me. Like all good nerds, I’ll do the homework and share it. But the running is up to you!