Monday, October 17, 2016

Pittsburgh Penguins 6.6K

The Pittsburgh Penguins 6.6K is a race that has been on my list to run ever since I moved back to Pittsburgh two years ago. Every October something prevented me from running except this year! I registered Brad and I a few weeks before the race and was super excited when my friend Lindsey decided to run too. 

{Photo from the race website}

On Friday afternoon we headed out to Wexford to grab our race shirts and bibs. The race provided multiple times/locations throughout Pittsburgh to pick up packets, including on race day. I think it's great when races attempt to accomodate all runners' schedules and I have learned to appreciate this perk with my busy lifestyle. 

An email was sent a few days before packet pick-up with a virtual goodie bag. I absolutely love when races do this because virtual bags are environmentally friendly and don't include things I would typically just throw away when I get home. This email included great coupons from ProCompression, Reebok, Fleet Feet Pittsburgh, and True Runner. We headed into the Health and Wellness Pavillion and easily picked up our bib, timing chip, and t-shirt. There were plenty of friendly volunteers to prevent long wait times so we were in and out within minutes. 


I personally love the t-shirts. Brad wished they were yellow but those were reserved for the walkers. 

I also love timing chips unique to races. I collect them and wish more events did their timing this way with a race specific design.


Race morning was an early one (aren't they all?). Lindsey met at our place and around 6:45am we drove the 5 minutes to get downtown. I love living so close to the city!

Parking was convenient at a garage between the start/finish line. We got there with enough time to snap a few pictures and make a bathroom stop. 


I looooved the course! We all did actually. I run a lot of races in Pittsburgh and this course was much different because it took runners across the Smithfield Street Bridge, onto back roads in the Southside, across the 10th St. Bridge, and through the Armstrong Tunnels leading back to PPG Paints Arena. 

{Photo from the race website}

Best part, high-fiving Mario Lemieux as we crossed the finish line!!


I've realized during my last few races a few things I have been doing wrong when running. I really don't care how fast I run a race, but I also haven't pushed myself to full potential. Brad and I have literally been practicing longer strides and picking up the pace a bit. It's been working and thankfully Brad and Lindsey helped me push the pace during this race. I fell apart during the last mile but overall ended up with a 10:02/mile pace which is the fastest race I've run in AWHILE! It felt so good :) 


After we got our medals (and bananas!) we admired the Stanley Cup and had waffles for breakfast at Waffles Incaffeinted off Carson Street. Perfect little Sunday Runday in the burgh!


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

My First Ragnar Trail Relay

Back in 2012 I was asked to join a Ragnar Relay team in the Adirondacks and then I ran again in 2013 for Cape Cod. Those two experiences were placed in my life when I needed a boost with running motivation. Earlier this month, after a 6 month running "funk" I ran my first Ragnar Trail Relay in New Jersey for the NYRR's! Another  life-changing experience!


If you love trail running, camping, the outdoors, and friends, run one!! We ended up with crazy cold and wet weather, but still had a blast! Here is a view of our campsite before other tents arrived:


Our start time was around 9:30am and each runner runs 3 different loops. A red (longest), yellow, and green (shortest) loop. I was on a team with 6 other runners so we had to come together and pick up the extra legs. I volunteered for an additional night run which brought my total mileage for the weekend to 21.5 muddy, wet miles. The next two photos are from the red loop which was my final run of the weekend.



Those trails are no joke, especially in the dark! One tip, if you plan to run one of these, bring an extra headlamp or bright flashlight. I was able to see so much better at night using a seocnd light. 

One of the things I loved about this race was that we had a home base. During the traditional Ragnar Relay everyone lives in a van and you honestly don't sleep much. We all were able to get a few hours of sleep in our tents between runs which was a great bonus. I also love that Ragnar Village has so many things to do: Bonfires, Salomon shoe trials, goodies, food, massage, and so much more! You can also hang out near the transition areas with your team to cheer on all of your teammates! 

Was I sore at the end of this weekend? YES! Was my heart full of adventure and friendship? ABSOLUTELY! I wish I could afford to run them all the time!


Did I mention the unique medals? Not only do they open beer botttles, but all of the medals placed together create a Ragnar message on the back that always connect you to your team. Love!