Alaska Road Trip Day 4: Whitecourt AB to…

Hi everyone!  I don’t have time to post but things have been CRAZY over here.  Yesterday our trip was cut short due to excessive snow on the roads in the Canadian Rockies.  We had to spend the night in a random inn in a small “town” and we are about to head out to hopefully keep going north!  We will be trying to get to Watson Lake in the Yukon but who even knows at this point!  We are safe and I will provide a better trip report as soon as I can!  For now, I leave you with my calm sounding trip report over on Bearly Alaskan (my mom doesn’t need to panic so it sounds so positive over there) and this picture of what it looks like to be driving through the snowy Canadian Rockies in late April!  At least, this is how it looked before we started having to drive through deep snow on the road and fearing for our lives.  Let’s hope we will have smoother driving today!

IMG_0191

Alaska Road Trip Day 3: Minot, ND to Whitecourt, AB!

Hi everyone!  It’s been another super long day of travel – the longest one on our trip!  When we woke up in North Dakota I had no idea what to expect since we’d spent the last 5 hours of day 2 driving in the dark.  Well it turns out that North Dakota (as well as Saskatchewan!) is prairie!  Everything we saw was either flat or tiny rolling hills, and it was all yellow.  There was barely anything green all day!  I’ve never seen anything like it before so I actually really enjoyed the views.  It’s something I might not ever see again!

north dakota

Confession time:  I really had no idea what “rural” meant until we drove on the prairie.  I’ve been to some pretty remote places before, but nothing like what I saw today!  There were so many areas where you couldn’t see anything for miles and then you’d see one little farm way out there and it just kind of blew my mind that someone could live so far away from other people!  I think I’m too social to be able to do that   :)  Also, this made for some interesting moments where I needed to use the bathroom and couldn’t find one for a while!  And it’s not like you can pull over and do it real quick, there are no trees!  We quickly learned to go to the bathroom and get gas for our car whenever the opportunity came up!  We did drive through 3 cities today, but most of it was wide open prairie.  Tomorrow we are supposedly going to drive through the Canadian Rockies which is really exciting!!!!  As interesting as this new landscape was, I am really excited to finally get to some big mountains!

It’s too late for me to dig around in my car for my phone cord so I can upload all my pictures, and this hotel won’t let me get wifi to work on my phone, so that is the only picture I can show you today since I uploaded it to Facebook back in the US!  I’ll have to upload the rest tomorrow when I figure out how to get around using any phone data in Canada.  Super short post since not much happened today, but along with the official details over on Bearly Alaskan here’s what went on today:

Cups of coffee:  3 again.  Which was more terrifying today because bathrooms were very limited out there!

Number of naps:  4, and each time I woke up the scenery looked the same so I didn’t feel so bad about sleeping through it.

Scariest moment:  Going through the Canadian border crossing!  I was terrified that we were going to get denied for some reason.  It didn’t help that the first question we were asked was “What is your plate number” and we both totally froze and forgot it!  We did get asked to come in to the immigration office for a little questioning by an officer but after he determined that we weren’t lying about anything we were on our way.  I think they asked us in there because there was literally nothing else for them to be doing.  It was such a small crossing and there was only 1 other car there!

Most embarrassing moment:  Having no idea why the speed limit was so high.  FYI:  that 100 means 100 km per hour, not miles.  Also, gas was so “cheap” because it’s in liters, not gallons.

Best food:  Tim Horton’s iced coffee!  It tastes just like Dunkin Donuts!

Hopefully I’ll be able to do a massive photo upload tomorrow!  In the mean time, google image search “Saskatchewan” for views from today’s trip!  And we are looking forward to only driving 10 hours tomorrow, that might mean that I can have time to go running tomorrow and won’t be so sleep deprived?  I can only hope!

Have you ever been to the prairie?  Have you ever been to Canada and had trouble using the metric system?

 

Alaska Road Trip Day 2: Mikwaukee WI to Minot ND!

Hi everyone! I’m coming to you guys from North Dakota! Day #2 of our Alaska road trip is over and it was a loooong day! We decided that hanging out with my sister for the morning was a better idea than getting on the road early, so we didn’t get to our hotel until 3:00 am! We are tired but YOLO, right? Plus it was so nice visiting my sister and getting to hang out at Lake Michigan in the nice weather!

20140421-231047.jpgLake Michigan!

20140421-231145.jpgMy workout for the day was climbing back up those steps to the car!

20140421-231207.jpgSo happy I got to see my sister even for a few hours!

Once again, you can find a more detailed trip report over on Bearly Alaskan, but here’s all the info I left out over there:

Cups of coffee: 3. Yep, long day!

Best food I ate all day: cheese curds! This was on my food bucket list and I’m so glad I finally was able to try them out! They were so yummy!!!!

20140421-231252.jpg

Best song on the radio: Wild Wild West by Will Smith. Lots of car dancing and “wiki-wiki-Wild West!” singing ;)

Coolest thing we did: crossed the Mississippi River! It’s small up in Minnesota but I still loved it! I’ve never seen it before so that was another bucket list item for me!

20140421-231338.jpg

Biggest surprise: the fact that Minnesota does in fact have an insane amount of lakes. I counted until it got too dark to see anymore and got up to 108! That was actually a fun way to pass the time!

Weirdest thing we saw:  Most of Wisconsin is flat, but there were some areas that had random steep tiny hills and weird rock formations.  I have no idea what these things are called or why they were there, so that was an interesting turn of events on our trip!

20140421-231231.jpgWhat is this thing?  Everything around it was flat!

Best convo:

Me: “I wonder why Minnesota has so many lakes?”
Andrew: “Well when Paul Bunyan and Babe walked through here it was raining and their footprints filled up with water.”
Me: “Oh yeah, how could I forget…”

20140421-231327.jpgOne of many, many lakes in Minnesota!

Now that day #2 is over I’m feeling better about everything and starting to get excited about the rest of our trip! We are 1/3 of the way done which is crazy. I also am getting really sick of flat farmland. Sorry Midwestern peeps, but you guys need to throw in something fun for me to look at! Although it was cool being able to see so many stars at night since we were so far from any cities. Tomorrow we are entering Canada and I am really looking forward to some new sights, including mountains!!!

What is your favorite old school 90s song to jam out to? Do you have a food bucket list, and if so what is on it?  Do you believe in Paul Bunyan?

 

Alaska Road Trip Day 1: Reading PA to Milwaukee WI!

Hi everyone! Yesterday was a loooong day. It was official moving day! We drove from Reading PA to Milwaukee WI! Seriously it was one of the longest road trips we’ve ever done in one day! The worst part was saying goodbye to my parents. My mom was crying of course, but my dad was also crying really hard which I did not expect. He couldn’t even watch us drive away. All of a sudden it hit me that I’m moving so far away and I took it really hard. In fact, I spent most of yesterday crying on and off throughout the day. It was hard for me to remember why I’m doing this when all I can see is how sad I’m making my family. But hopefully I start feeling better as the week goes on. If anyone has any tips for coping with these sad moving feelings let me know!

20140420-231532.jpgOur Jeep and trailer with all of our stuff!  So crazy that it’s finally happening!

I had been dreading yesterday because I knew it would be hard to say goodbye. I also knew it was going to be one of the more boring legs of the trip. No offense to anyone who lives in the Midwest, but the scenery gets abut boring after a while and there are no fun distractions along the way until you hit Chicago. I’m clearly more of a mountain girl! Today we will be visiting my sister in Milwaukee for a bit and then heading out to North Dakota! I’ve never driven past Milwaukee so I’m excited to be driving through new territory!

20140420-231611.jpgOhio is flat!  Andrew said I should definitely run a race here  :)

If you are interested in reading my current trip report check it out over on Bearly Alaskan here! I have a bunch of trip stats over there, but here are a few more that you might be interested in:

Miles ran today: 0. But I did spend hours crying, I’m sure that burned some calories!

Best thing I ate today: Grilled Stickies at Eat N Park!

20140420-231550.jpg

Cups of coffee: 2. I’m really going to miss Wawa!

Best car convo: Andrew clearly was trying to cheer me up so he asked me what marathon I would like to run if I ever choose to run one. I decided it would probably be Philly since it’s always going to feel like home to me!

Have you ever made a huge move like this? How did you deal with the sucky parts? If you could run any marathon in the US which would you choose?

I’m Moving This Weekend!

Oh man guys, I am moving this weekend!  Tomorrow we’ll be packing up the car and then early Sunday morning we will be on our way to Seward, AK!  We’ll get there on April 28th.  My apartment is a hot mess, I’m stressed and I haven’t run since my 10k last Sunday.  I’m not exactly the happiest girl on earth right now.  I just can’t wait to get past this annoying packing/saying goodbye part and finally start on our big adventure!  In order to keep this blog focused on my running life I’ve decided to make a second blog!  The new one will be shared with my friends and family and will mostly be pictures and some fun stories about our life in Alaska.  I’ll be posting a lot of the same stuff over here, but if you want more info about what it’s like to live in Alaska check out me and Andrew’s new blog:  Bearly Alaskan.  We’ve only got one post so far but once we start driving it’s going to be full of crazy stuff!  And yes, the title is a pun on Andrew’s hebrew name (strong bear) and the fact that we call ourselves bears all the time.  Plus we will have bears in our neighborhood up there!

Since I’m currently surrounded by piles of stuff I never knew I owned but now need to either pack or throw away, I think I’m going to fill the rest of this post with things I’ve recently been able to cross off my Philly Bucket List.  I’m going to miss Philly but after getting stuck in traffic a few times this week I know I’m making the right choice in leaving  :)  I’ll still miss this stuff though:

Rehoboth Beach with my amazing coworkers!  We called out and spent the day eating donuts, shopping, and hanging out on the beach.

20140418-000804.jpgDonuts at the Fractured Prune

20140418-000835.jpgThese girls are so awesome and I’m going to miss them like crazy!

20140418-001030.jpgThe beach is so pretty when there aren’t any people there!

20140418-001003.jpgBeach selfie!

Magic Gardens in South Philly!  There are a ton of these mosaic buildings in Philly, but this is the main part where the artist spent most of his time working.  It was really amazing!

 

 

20140418-001107.jpg

 

20140418-001223.jpgAndrew trying to blend in!

20140418-001126.jpg <3

20140418-001243.jpg

Ricketts Glen State Park!  This is my favorite place to go hiking in PA and I’m going to miss it!  The trail is 7.2 miles round trip and you can see 21 waterfalls on the hike!  We could only go up one side of the trail due to excessive snow and ice on the other side, but we still had a great time!

20140418-001326.jpgThe trail is on the left – you can see how steep and narrow it is, so you can imagine it was hard to get through the sections covered in snow and ice!

20140418-001401.jpg

 

20140418-001527.jpg

 

20140418-001441.jpgThe white stuff to the right of Andrew was ice!  There were cool “ice waterfalls” everywhere!

I’m glad I was able to go to these places one last time before the move!  Especially Ricketts Glen – it got me so excited for all the hiking we’ll be doing up in Alaska!  Over the next few days I’ll be busy, but I will start road trip updates on Monday!  And hopefully once we’re on the road I’ll find time to go running at our hotels at night so that I can stay sane!

What are your weekend plans?  Any hiking involved since the weather is going to be pretty nice?  Also, tell me the one place you would really miss if you moved somewhere new!

 

My Summer/Fall Racing Schedule!

Hi everyone!  As my time in PA draws to a close I’ve been thinking ahead to my future as a runner in Alaska.  Many people assume I won’t be able to run, but I plan on running all summer (hello no humidity!) and I’m figuring out some goal races to keep me motivated throughout the summer.  Plus, I signed up for 14 in 2014 (see my 14 in 2014 page for a list of races I’ve already run!) and I plan on fully meeting that goal with as few virtual races as possible!

I haven’t officially registered for any races in Alaska yet, but I did register for 2  races in the fall!  Our contract with our employer in Seward ends on September 14, and my MOH/BFF is getting married on October 4 and I’m a bridesmaid!  So we decided that shortly after finishing up in Seward we will fly back to Philly for a few weeks to visit family before her wedding.  And then I found out about this:

beat the blerch

If you’re wondering what the Blerch is, go here now and educate yourself.  We all have one!  Anyways, as soon as I found out about it I was moping around the house grumbling about how I wish I could be there for the inaugural race and how much fun it will be (the aid stations will be equipped with cake, nutella, and magical purple drink!  And people in Blerch suits will be running around!) and my husband said, “Why not try to register?  We can go visit my dad in Seattle for a few days and then you can run it”.  So with the approval of my non-runner husband I struggled through the crazy registration process, complete with a crashed race website and tons of stress, and eventually got in for the half marathon right before the race sold out in only 29 minutes!  Then there was tons of drama which can be seen on the event’s Facebook page.  The organizer decided to add another day since the 2,000 person limit filled up so fast, and the people who got in on Sunday were pretty upset that they were now running race #2!  Luckily he opened up the option to choose which day you want to run, and I’m now running the actual inaugural half marathon on Saturday, September 20th.  I’m so excited to meet The Oatmeal in person and get him to sign his new running book for me!  Oh and there will be Nutella, so obviously I’m super pumped about that!

I’m also running another race during our time in the lower 48!  On October 5th I will be running the inaugural Yuengling Oktoberfest 5k in Bethlehem, PA!

oktoberfest5k

 

I’m mostly excited for this race because I’ll be running it with a bunch of amazing ladies that I will simply refer to as “The Junebugs”.  We all became BFFs while planning our June 2013 weddings and we’ve stayed in touch ever since!  I can’t wait to meet them all in person!  Especially since we will be running together and then celebrating with a ton of free beer!  Bethlehem is hilly but I’ve always had fun racing there so I’m looking forward to this race!

As far as Alaska races go, here’s my very tentative list of possible races:

  • Her Tern Women’s Half Marathon:  When I first realized we were truly moving to Alaska I found this half marathon on the Skinny Raven Sports website (the local running store) and it was the first thing that got me excited about running in AK.  It’s only open to 1,000 women and one man, so it’s nice and small.  It also takes place on paved trails throughout Anchorage so the scenery will be beautiful, and the weather should be great since it’s at the end of July!  Plus all the finishers get to attend a female-centered expo the day before the race, get a Brooks gift card with their packet, and instead of medals you get really pretty bracelets!  I’m kind of a medal whore but I like the idea of being able to wear my “medal” all the time in bracelet form.  The price is high (much lower than Disney Princess, but still pretty high) so I haven’t registered yet, but I did get approved to take those days off so I really don’t know what I’m waiting for!  I chose this one over the other big Anchorage half marathons since I figured it’s a nice, low key way to get into running in AK.  I can run the Mayor’s Midnight Sun Half Marathon next summer!  Or maybe even the marathon?  :)
  • Anchorage Salmon Run:  This is just a 5k that takes place on May 3rd.  That’s our first weekend after starting our jobs, so while I know we’ll be tired and possibly stressed I also know we’ll be in Anchorage getting all the supplies we need for living in Seward so I might as well run this race too!  It’s one of the few Saturdays I’ll have off all summer so that’s why I’m super tempted to register for this one!  Plus it has such an Alaskan name that I can’t refuse!  My one reservation is that it snowed for this race last year…yep, in May.  Welcome to Alaska racing!
  • The Alaska 10k Classic:  I’ll need to request off work for this one, but it sounds like a great race and should fit into my training schedule pretty well since it’s at the beginning of August.  I also heard it’s mostly downhill, so you know I want to be there!

I’ll definitely keep you all updated when I finally register for these races.  I’m excited to have the opportunity to race in Alaska but I guess it still hasn’t hit me that I’ll be there in a little over 1 week!  I feel like registering is silly since I still don’t feel like we’re actually moving up there!  I really do need to start registering for races now that we’re getting so close to moving day (Saturday!!!!).

What races are you running this summer/fall?  Anyone else as obsessed with the Blerch as I am?

Try New Things Tuesday: Running “Naked”

Hi everyone!  It’s time for another installment of Try New Things Tuesday!

trynewthingstuesday

This week’s new thing is running “naked”.  Not that kind of naked, people!  I’m talking about running without a watch or other timing device.  As you saw in my Hershey 10k recap, I had to run the race without my trusty watch.  While that’s something I’ve been thinking about trying for a while, I was kind of accidentally pushed into it sooner than I thought!

Many bloggers out there have spoken about their experiences running without their Garmin, and while the idea initially shocked me I started to realize that this was something I should probably try soon.  If I’m going to be honest here, I am kind of addicted to my Garmin, especially during races.  I love seeing my paces per mile and analyzing how I did based on how I felt.  But after last weekend’s Hot Chocolate 5k I’ve been seriously thinking about how my pace and PR goals can sometimes mess with my mind.  I have no idea how I would have done in that race without my Garmin, but I can honestly say that after seeing that mile #1 was 9:40 and realizing that I probably couldn’t pick up the pace enough to PR I started to feel sick and really talked myself out of even trying to run faster.  I finished that race with a stomach ache, low spirits, and a finish time that was 2 seconds away from my “C” goal for the race (sub-30:00).  I know that seeing my slow pace in mile #1 is what triggered my downfall and I know that it’s happened in many races before.  In fact, even though I got a 19 minute PR in the Love Run Half a few weeks ago I did actually talk myself out of speeding up at the end because I was already PRing, why push it?

So when I realized on Sunday that I had left my Garmin in my gym bag at my parent’s house I was scared but also kind of curious to see how I would do without a watch.  I knew that it would probably drive me crazy to run on feel alone but that I didn’t really have a choice right now.  Mile 1 was probably the toughest without a watch because I really try not to go out too fast and at that point I had no idea how fast I was going.  I could hear all the watches around me beeping when we hit 1 mile and I tried to spy on other people but no one was really talking about their pace.  I pushed myself hard through the halfway point and even though I usually never take water breaks in shorter races I realized that I really needed some water!  I would usually stress about my time in the water stops but since I didn’t have mile splits to analyze I decided that I wouldn’t stress about lost time.  I also heard a few people talking about their time at the 5k mark and it was in the high 9:00/mile range so that helped me feel confident that I was on track.

20140413-234530.jpgAndrew caught me (in the white shirt) after the first water stop – notice my lime green Garmin is not with me!

Running based on feel was tricky in Hershey Park because there were so many hills and my stomach was starting to hurt.  I wanted to slow down but knowing that I had no idea how fast/slow I was going kept me running as hard as I could.  I did look at my wrist a few times at the end of the race out of habit, which convinced me that this was a good idea!  I could tell my body was trying to quit on me and find excuses to run slower but without knowing my pace I couldn’t use that excuse to slow down!  I instead focused on picking people off and trying to see how many people I could pass at the end of the race.  There was one woman that I’d been battling it out with all race – I would pass her, she would pass me – but she was wearing a “Baby on board” shirt and I felt weird passing a pregnant woman for some reason.  At the end I just didn’t care and ran past her into the stadium.  I have to say that I had one of the strongest finishes ever and gave everything I had when crossing the finish line!  Even when I saw the time on the clock!

 

20140415-002233.jpg

 

You can’t see it in the picture, but my clock time was over 1:04.  Which would not have been a PR.  I was definitely worried as I grabbed my post-race food and medal, but as you saw in yesterday’s post I not only PRed but ran over 6 minutes faster than last year’s Hershey 10k!  I’m not sure if the PR was related to running without my Garmin, but I can honestly say that I felt much more relaxed and calm during the race and my focus was more about enjoying my surroundings and less on killing myself to make up some time in the last mile.  I think it definitely helped!

So what did I think about running without my Garmin?  Overall I give it a 5 out of 5!

  • The biggest drawback is that it was scary!  It’s so hard to run without it when you’ve run with it for so long.  It’s almost like an addiction – I felt like I was going to go crazy without it on my wrist!
  • After I got into a rhythm I felt much better about running without a Garmin, but mile 1 was hard.
  • It felt nice to not be stressed out about time, especially at the end when I was struggling so much.
  • I missed analyzing my mile splits after the race, but I know I did a great job and that’s all that matters!
  • I enjoyed focusing more on the run and less on my time.  I usually feel sick and worried about my time at the end of races, but in this race I just really wanted to finish so I could see my time so it was a different focus!
  • I always forget to pause my Garmin after the finish line anyways, so one less thing to worry about!

Would I do it again?  Absolutely!  I think my next 5k (whenever that is!) will be done without a watch to see if it makes any difference.  I feel that in longer races I rely on my Garmin to tell me if I’m going too fast and helps prevent burnout early in the race, but on my shorter races my Garmin stresses me out about PRing and makes me doubt myself.  I would never run a half without my Garmin but I think I might run the shorter races without it!

20130909-194800.jpgSorry Garmin, your days of 3 mile runs are over!  PS check out my shoes – this pic is old!

Do you ever take breaks from your Garmin?  If you’ve recently tried running “naked” how did you like it?  Did it help improve your race time?

Race Recap: Hershey 10k

Hi everyone!  I had a fabulous weekend which was mostly stress-free despite the face that we are moving to Alaska in less than a week!  We have so much to do but we still managed to have a bit of fun.  Friday was my last day of work which was really sad and difficult, so we celebrated with a happy hour at Frankford Hall.  Saturday Andrew and I spent all day hiking at Ricketts Glen State Park (look for a future post on that!) and hung out with two of my best friends ever.  And then on Sunday I had the Hershey 10k followed by a going away party that my parents threw for us!  It was a really great weekend!

The Hershey 10k has a special place in my heart because when I ran that race last year it was the first time that I ever felt like a “real runner”.  It was my longest distance at the time (and my only race longer than a 5k), the largest race I’d run so far, and the only race where there were people cheering for me and other runners!  I have such good memories of that race and remember how proud I was when I finished way earlier than planned in 1:08:44.  So when registration opened up for this year’s 10k, I signed up right away!

20140413-234709.jpgHershey Park makes for a really awesome race course!

My life has been pretty hectic lately and with a full schedule of races, packing, and planning my big move I felt really overwhelmed and stressed out before this race.  Since my half marathon 2 weeks ago I’ve only run twice, so I wasn’t feeling super confident about my abilities in this race.  I also kind of vaguely remembered that there were a lot of hills inside Hershey Park, so I figured a PR might not happen.  And the day before the race I hiked 7 miles up and down a very steep mountain and then had fried food and beer before getting only 5 hours of sleep.  So understandably on race morning I felt pretty awful and didn’t really want to run, but I sucked it up and headed out at 6:00 am for the race.

20140413-234658.jpgHersheypark Stadium

When we pulled up I was surprised because there seemed to be a lot more people than last year (turns out there were the same amount) and the finish line was in a runners only section so my husband couldn’t hang out with me until the race started like he usually does.  With 10 minutes until race time I realized to my horror that I had forgotten my Garmin at home!  I was in shock but there wasn’t much I could do about it at that point.  In fact, I’ve been reading a lot of race recaps of runners who run without a watch and how they are able to run faster because they’re less focused on numbers.  So I figured that since I didn’t have a choice in the matter I would just embrace running without a watch!

After high fiving the Reese’s guy at the start line I was off!  The course starts outside the stadium and goes through the Giant Center parking lot, down Hersheypark Drive, past the outlets, and finally spends about 2 miles in Hershey Park before finishing in the stadium.  I knew the course from last year and felt confident I could keep up a good pace before hitting the hills in Hershey Park.  I pushed myself pretty hard in the first mile but was feeling pretty good.  We kept going up little hills and I kept thinking “That’s got to be the last one for a while!” before running into another hill!  I seriously don’t remember all those hills from last time.  Near the halfway point I got to high five Andrew and stop for a bit of water before heading up the loooooong gradual hill that is Hersheypark Drive.  I literally checked my wrist to see what my halfway split was and had to laugh because I’d forgot that I wasn’t wearing a watch!  Many people around me were making comments about their pace and I was able to gather that I was running in the high 9:00/mile range which was good news.  Everything was going well until we entered Hershey Park.  I started feeling dizzy and my stomach hurt, and had to stop for water before pushing on.  The park is made up of very short but very steep hills and each one was a mental struggle for me.  I could feel myself slowing down and I had to use mental tricks to keep going (such as telling myself that even though my stomach hurt, my legs didn’t hurt at all so I could keep going).  When we hit the 9k mark I tried going faster even though I could see a long hill up to the stadium where the finish line was.  I can proudly say that I pushed hard at the end and went as fast as I could for my stadium finish!

20140413-234553.jpg

After getting my medal, water, and a lunch box filled with fruit, chocolate, and a cookie, I headed out onto the field to find Andrew.  He very patiently waited with me in a long line to see my results (since I didn’t have them on my watch like I usually do!) and I literally screamed when I saw that I’d run the race in 1:02:27 which is a new PR!  That totally gave me more energy and I was very excited to celebrate this race at Chocolate World!

20140413-234606.jpg

 

20140413-234642.jpgThis is honestly why I run.  I’m kind of obsessed with milkshakes!

What I liked about the race:

  • The fact that it’s in Hershey AKA the sweetest place on earth!  Everything in that town is somehow related to chocolate (if you don’t believe me, google “street lights in Hershey” to see what they’re shaped like!) and chocolate is my favorite!
  • The swag this year was the same exact shirt as last year…but it was a tech shirt instead of cotton!  I love long sleeved tech shirts from races and this one will get used again for sure!  We also got cute little lunch boxes filled with chocolate so I think they did a great job hooking us up!
  • While some of the course is spent in parking lots and on the road, I loved the scenery and especially loved running in Hershey Park and finishing in Hersheypark Stadium!  And after all the highway running at the Disney Princess Half I can’t ever complain about running on a highway again!
  • There were instant results after the race for people like me who didn’t have a watch
  • There were quite a few Hershey characters including the Reeses/Hershey Kiss guys and Coco the Hershey Bears mascot!
  • Chocolate World is like 10 feet away, and post-race chocolate peanut butter milkshakes are the perfect thing to drink after a race like that!
  • There were lots of spectators cheering us on and even some employees cheering us on in Hershey Park!

What I didn’t like about the race:

  • It was crowded at times, especially on the small walkways in Hershey Park.
  • The race started at 7:30 which is really early for me!
  • Only about half the runners got bananas in their post-race lunch boxes – the other half got apples.  Guess which one I got  :(
  • There were no typical post-race snacks like bagels, and after eating all the sugary stuff in my lunch box I was feeling pretty sick so I think a more normal food option would have been nice.
  • It was a pretty hilly course!  Clearly I should have done some extra hill training before this race!

Overall I would definitely run this race again!  How can you go wrong with a chocolate themed race that runs through an amusement park?  I wish I could be home to run the Hershey Half Marathon in October (chocolate aid stations!!!) because I really do love running in Hershey, even with all those hills!

20140413-234630.jpg

What’s the most unique race course you’ve ever run?  Have you ever refueled after a race with a milkshake?

 

 

Running Like A Tourist: Philly Bucket List Run!

Hi everyone!  I’m glad you enjoyed getting to know a little more about my life yesterday.  Now for some more details on that awesome run I had on Tuesday!  As you are all well aware, I ran my first half marathon in February and then ran my second half marathon 5 weeks later.  Training for such a long time really started to get to me in the end, and running was not as fun as it used to be.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time I just went out for a run and didn’t stress over making a time/distance goal.  So I was desperately in need of a relaxing, fun run.

So on Tuesday my plan was to meet up with other runners at Philadelphia Runner in University City for a short fun run with Shack Track and Field.  All runners get a free drink after the run at Shake Shack, and you know I’ll do anything for a free milkshake!  So I headed into the city to try to make the run at 7:00 pm.  There were just 2 problems:  traffic and parking.  And I now have a massive jeep that makes parking suck even more!  So when 7:00 rolled around and I was still desperately driving around looking for parking I started to get upset.  Here I was wasting gas money and precious time that I could be speeding packing with nothing to show for it.  I starting driving back home when I randomly thought “Well what about running on the Schyulkill River Trail?”.  I was driving over the bridge and noticed tons of runners on the trail below me.  I then noticed a massive parking spot on the side of the bridge.  It was practically meant to be!  So after calling my husband to tell him about my change in plans, I started off on what ended up being one of the most fun runs I’ve ever done!

20140410-000649.jpgLooking down at the Schyulkill River Trail from the bridge!

Before I leave Philly there are tons of places I want to see again before we leave, and the fastest way to do that is while running!  So I had thought up a really awesome Philly Bucket List running route that would take me past all my favorite places in Philly.  While it was a bit late in the day to do the entire route, I decided I could probably knock about half of those items off my list and even without someone running with me I could still take selfies at all my favorite places!  So here’s the results of my Philly bucket list selfie run:

 

20140410-001153.jpgStop #1:  The Art Museum steps AKA the Rocky Steps!  I have never run these before and thought it would be really hard (there are a lot of steps!) but was happy to learn that it was really fun to run up to the top and it wasn’t tough at all!

20140410-001129.jpgThe view from the top!

20140410-001144.jpgCherry blossoms on the side of the Art Museum!  I love spring!

20140410-001203.jpgStop #2:  the Rocky statue!  I got tired of waiting in line so I just took a selfie with Rocky and some random fans

20140410-001214.jpgRunning into the city.  This was the route we took during the Love Run Half, but it was too foggy to see the buildings during that race!

20140410-001318.jpgStop #3:  City Hall!  It was impossible to take a selfie of it without cutting William Penn out of the picture!

20140410-001537.jpgStop #4:  Love Park!  Worst selfie ever but hey, it’s harder than it looks.  Also my hair was a hot mess at this point.

20140410-001328.jpgRunning back towards my car!

20140410-001337.jpgBack at the start!  The river looks so much prettier at night!

20140410-001403.jpgMy Jeep deserves some selfie love too!  Notice the sweet new 13.1 magnet!

The entire run including time for selfies, waiting in line for pictures with Rocky, and all the millions of traffic lights took 1 hour to complete.  I only ran about 3.5 miles (I forgot to turn Run Keeper off and started driving around which added to my total distance ran!) but it was the best 3.5 miles ever!  I didn’t care about my pace or my finishing time goals or even how far I was running.  I just ran.  I ran fast on the long stretches of sidewalk and slow around all the touristy spots.  I people watched while I waited for traffic lights to change.  My brain didn’t think one negative thing the entire time and it felt so good!  And bonus perk:  my new shoes officially rock!  Nothing on my lower body hurt during this run and I give my new shoes all the credit!

20140410-003441.jpg

After running I realized I was starving and totally forgot to eat dinner, so I headed over to Shake Shack to eat the dinner I’d planned on eating with the Shack Track and Field runners.  If you’ve never had their cheeseburgers and milkshakes you are seriously missing out!  No pictures of that because I ate that thing so fast!  Overall it was a perfect run with a really happy ending.  And for the record, after my run I was able to find a parking spot right in front of Shake Shack.  I guess everything really does happen for a reason!  And hopefully next week I’ll be able to finish my Philly Bucket List run with all the places I want to run in Old City!

Have you ever done a touristy run around the city?  Do you take running selfies?  Are you as addicted to Shake Shack as I am?

A Day In the Life Of Kristen K.

Hi everyone!  As you know, it’s my last week at my current job since I’m moving next week!  Right now I work at a nonprofit that helps high school students find and keep jobs.  I’m a job coach (or an “Employment Training Specialist” as my business card states!) which means that I help students apply for jobs, learn how to interview, and then help support them when they find jobs or internships.  I also help them travel to and from work on public transportation and also help negotiate social situations for students who need assistance.  I have my own caseload but work with about 20 different students and each day varies.  I’ve been there for over two and a half years and it’s blowing my mind that I’ll be done working there on Friday.  I love my job (even though there have been some ups and downs lately) and decided I wanted to do one of those “A day in the life” posts that I see all the time on other blogs.  You guys have read about my after-work life, now it’s time to see what a typical day looks like before I start a whole new life up in Alaska!  So here is a recap of yesterday aka a typical day in the life of Kristen K!

6:30 – My alarm goes off and I hit snooze a bunch of times.  I hate waking up in the dark!  I finally turn off my alarm and check my email in bed before forcing myself to get up.

7:00 – Get ready for work.  Today I’m low maintenance because it’s the Phillies Home Opener and I’m rocking my Phillies shirt!

7:30 – Check my work email again, respond to emails, and write a summary report.  I have no pictures of anything that happened before I left the house because ain’t nobody got time for that.

8:00-8:30 – Drive to our suburban office.  Check email again.  Get a text from student #1, who has extreme anxiety issues.  She wants to confirm that I’ll be at the trolley stop by the office waiting for her, so I leave the office early to make sure she won’t get there before me!

20140409-010939.jpg

8:40-12:30 – I meet student #1 at the trolley stop and she leads the way to the bus stop.  She has a long travel route!  On the bus we talk about the latest episodes of Teen Mom 2 which is our favorite subject.  I’m clearly a teenager in a 26 year old body.  At work I sit a few feet away from her as she inputs data into a library computer system.  Student #1 is awesome at her job but needs a job coach for situations that cause anxiety, such as making a mistake with her work.  Today she has an awesome shift!  We travel back to the trolley stop and she heads home…while I head to Wawa for some coffee!

20140409-010957.jpgThe greatest place on earth!

12:30-1:00 – Answer emails, talk to coworkers about how my students have been doing recently.  I also quickly eat my lunch because I don’t actually get a lunch break at this job!

20140409-011148.jpg

1:00-2:10 – I sign out the office car and drive up to student #2, who goes to school up in Glenside.  It’s such a long drive from the office but at least I get to drive by Arcadia University, which is where I got my Masters degree!

2:10-5:00 – I drive student #2 to his job at a hotel where cancer patients can stay for free while receiving treatment at a nearby hospital.  Student #2 does janitorial work and needs much more support than most of my students.  Today he vacuumed and dusted everything ahead of schedule and did not need too much assistance from me, which is honestly not typical but I’ll take it!  He’s a huge Phillies fan so I tried to get him home in time to catch most of the Home Opener.

zac picSorry for the creepy face covering, but I didn’t want to share his picture!  I did want to share our awesome Phillies shirts though!  He wears a Phillies shirt almost every day!

5:00-7:00 – Drive back to the office to drop off the office car.  I’m tired and sick of driving but figure that I can make it into the city in time to catch the Shack Track and Field group run that’s happening at 7:00 at Shake Shack, so I rush home to change and then drive over to University City.

7:00-9:00 – I get stuck in traffic and miss the start of the group run, so I decide to run around Philly on my own.  More details will be in tomorrow’s post, but let’s just say that I had an awesome run!  After getting in an hour of cardio I headed to Shake Shack anyways since I’d been craving one of their burgers all day!  I also grab a chocolate PB milkshake for the drive home.

20140409-011116.jpgView from the top of the Art Museum aka Rocky steps!

9:00-12:00 – I take a shower and catch up on Facebook and my favorite blogs.  I also wrote this lovely post that you’re reading now  :)

12:00 – Bedtime!

So there you have it!  I don’t get much sleep and never seem to have a free moment (and I never realized how much time I actually spend driving around, oh man!) but I love being busy and wouldn’t have it any other way!  I’ll make sure to do another one of these posts when I’m living in Alaska so I can see how much of a difference it is living there!

Have you ever done one of these posts?  What’s your typical day like?