Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Top Ten Reasons Why I Loved the Runner's World Half and Festival

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of participating in the Runner's World Half and Festival.  Here are my top ten reasons of why I loved it:

10. The timing of it worked out perfectly in my training for the Philadelphia Marathon (Nov.23) and for the Another Mother Runner 13.Fun Challenge.

9.  The different race distances made it accessible to family members as well. My son, age 13, decided since he was coming with me that he would run the 5k on Saturday.
Mother-son bonding weekend.

8. The option of race day pickup for racing bibs.  I wanted to get there Friday night, but wasn't entirely sure I would make it to the expo in time.  Knowing that I could pick up my number on Saturday was great. This is rare in running events, but much appreciated.

7.  Runner's World Half and Festival app for my smartphone.  This was a free app that allowed me to check the schedule quickly, keep updated on weather, and look up results after the race.

6. Bethlehem, PA: What a beautiful city.  I had never been here before, and the setting was perfect, especially at this time of year for a road race.  I loved running over the Fahy Bridge and enjoying the beautiful Lehigh river, as well as some of the quaint neighborhoods that we had the pleasure of running through.  I also enjoyed the restaurants, especially Bethlehem Brew Works, where I enjoyed spicy fish tacos and a delicious oatmeal stout.

5.  Free seminars offered Saturday afternoon.  I attended Women's Running with a panel of women, including Tish Hamilton and My Life on the Run with Bart Yasso.  I also attended Course Strategy: How to Run the RW Half, which was especially helpful.  Having the route explained ahead of time really helped me to prepare my strategy the day before. It was a hilly course, and it was nice to be prepared mentally.
Tish Hamilton

Race director of the weekend events, Bart Yasso.

Editor-in-Chief David Willey

4.  Getting to meet some of the people from Runner's World in person. I have been reading Runner's World for at least 14 years, just a short time after I first started running.  Through social media, especially twitter, I have enjoyed getting to "know" them.  They were all so friendly at the seminars, and even on the race course. 

3. This was one of the most organized, runner-friendly races I have experienced.  From the emails I received before the race, all the way to the finish area, everything went exceptionally smoothly.  There were plenty of helpful volunteers, no lines at gear check, clean bathrooms and porta potty's, and a nice warm venue for my son to wait while I ran.  I stayed at the Hyatt hotel, which was only a 5 minute drive away, and offered special rates for the race.  There was always plenty of parking, as I went back and forth all 3 days.  An added bonus was having Bart Yasso greeting the runners at the finish line and calling out our names. How cool is that?

2.  Reuniting with some of my Another Mother Runner Ragnar teammates.  Karyn and Joan were able to come for the weekend as well, and we all stayed at the Hyatt.  We had fun catching up and supporting each other at the races.
Mother Runners Karyn, myself, and Joan

And the number one reason I love the Runner's World Half and Festival...........

 The Hat Trick.  What a fun challenge this was! I would encourage people to sign up for this, rather than just one of the races.  It allows you to really enjoy the entire weekend race experience.  It includes a 5k on Saturday at 8am, followed by the 10k at 9:30.  On Sunday morning, you line up to run the Half Marathon.  I decided to use the 5k as a warm up, with some strides at the end.  I pushed a bit on the 10k, and came close to setting a PR.  The biggest surprise was achieving a PR in the Half Marathon, on a quite hilly course! I came away from this weekend feeling very well trained and strong for the Philadelphia Marathon on Nov.23.

Elevation chart from Strava from the 1/2 marathon course. I loved the downhills!
Some nice hardware earned in this challenge! Plus, a hat, t-shirt and pair of socks! And of course, a shiny new PR! Sweet.

So, if you're looking for a fun weekend, and a great challenge, sign up for the 2015 Runner's World Half and Festival. Registration is already open: Come on, I know you want to try the Hat Trick!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Feeling of Being on a Team

The last few months have been a whirlwind of working, getting the kids started with school, and supporting my husband with a transition into a new job.  I am finally sitting down to blog about the amazing experience I had this summer at Oiselle Birdcamp. 
  As a volée member of Oiselle, I had the opportunity to travel to Bend, Oregon this August to attend a special camp, dubbed "Birdcamp".  Activities that were planned included running (of course), yoga, hiking, group sessions with information about nutrition, training, goal setting and general fun and bonding.
  I am not going to go into many details related to our daily agenda, as I feel some of my team members did such a nice job summarizing the activities that we experienced. If you would like those details, you can see them here (from my fellow Canadian team member, Leana), here (from Regina, an "online" friend before camp and now one IRL) and here (from the Oiselle web site with some beautiful photos from the week). 
  What I took away mostly from the experience was the feeling of being part of a TEAM.  I had never experienced this type of connection before.  As a less than athletic kid, I was never part of a sports team, unless you count my brief stint on a youth bowling team.
I am the one second from the left, not even looking at the camera. Don't you love the overalls? Tres chic.
  Growing up in the early 70's, I never really felt that I was encouraged to participate in sports.  Yes, there were sports activities built into our school experience, but unless you showed an exceptional talent for it, you were not encouraged to keep trying to get better. 
  I played the piano, participated in Girl Guides, 4H (the homemaking kind, not the show your cow kind), and eventually played the flute in the high school band.  I was not a runner, and our small high school didn't even have a cross country team. (Well, truthfully, it may have, I just never paid any attention to the sport activities).  I do know it had a hockey team. Hockey was and is everything there.  I also remember going to football games. Running events, not so much.
  So, fast forward to 2012 when I was accepted to join the Oiselle team.  To say that I was shocked that they had accepted me would be an understatement.  I was thrilled, and I am still giddy with excitement when I think about the fact that I am a part of such an inspiring, powerful group of women. 
  It is very difficult for me to express in words what Birdcamp meant to me.  To have the opportunity to be around like minded women who really "get you" is an almost disarming sensation.  I felt completely included, and appreciated for the contribution that I make to this team. 
  As a 44 year old wife and mom of 3 kids who tends to feel like an awkward teenager in social situations at times, this feeling of inclusion was huge!
 From the leadership team of Sally Bergesen,(CEO) Sarah Lesko(Head of Corporate Development and the super organizer of Birdcamp) and Kristin Metcalf (Team Manager), through the elite runners that attended camp (known as Haute Volée), including the incredible Lauren Fleshman, and with all my fellow volée members, I felt complete acceptance and appreciation.  This is a team made up of women of all different ages, from different backgrounds, with different athletic abilities.  Although we are different, we all share the drive to perform better (not only in running, but in all that we do), to train hard, and to not settle for any less.  Add to this the sisterhood of sport that we encourage and we emulate on our team and in our communities.  I have never experienced this type of atmosphere before with a large group of women. It was refreshing and encouraging, and it clearly comes from the leadership team of Oiselle.
  The leadership team even took the time to meet with some of us to discuss where the team is going as this company continues to grow in leaps and bounds.  I feel that since this is a company founded and led by women, and for women, it moves and develops quite differently than many other companies.  For me, as a team member, I appreciate the differences, and as a result, I feel valued and very optimistic for the future of this company. 
 I may not be the fastest runner, but I am always striving for my best, in training and on race day.  I hope that my passion for running can also inspire others to work to their full potential. Thank you to Oiselle for giving me Wings to Fly!