underarmour killington 25k
Underarmour Killington 25k (3:20)

The Underarmour Killington 25k was the hardest race I’ve ever run.  Yes, I’ve run a couple of marathons and yes I ran the Copper Mountain 25k last month at 9000 feet elevation, but Killington was harder.  For me anyway.  It was also the longest time running on my feet.  I’ve hiked longer, but never run that long.

Even though there were challenging portions, I enjoyed the heck out of it. When I finished the Killington race, I wasn’t 100% sure I would run it again, but after a few days, I do believe I would go back.  My reasoning for thinking about not rerunning it is straightforward: there are a lot of very steep downhills, and I do think it’s easy to injure yourself.  That being said I enjoyed it and thought the race was fun.

The drive from NJ to Vermont was uneventful, but it did take a lot longer than I anticipated.  I got there shortly before the race packet pickup ended the night before. You could pick up packets the same day, but I wasn’t sure how the morning before would play out. I wanted to be ready the night before.

The morning of the race, I ended up driving about 15 minutes down the road to get coffee because nowhere was open beforehand.  Last month at Copper, one of the places opened early which was nice.  It ate up some time, but I was up before my alarm anyway.

I got to the race start around 7 am, chatted with Allie, and by the time I knew it we were off. underarmour killington 25k

I was wrapping my mind around actually racing and the challenge it would be.  I didn’t have pressure to race hard, PR, and time was pretty much irrelevant because unless you run the course, it’s hard to fully explain every twist, knee-deep mud puddle, and 40% decline.

I was just at the race for me. I have a whole separate post about my lack of racing this summer, but I actually think it’s been good for me.

The race started, and the first mile was downhill.  I started way in the back because people kept passing me.  I don’t run downhills well at all, and I was being passed left and right.  Around mile 1.5, we started a serious climb.

The roles reversed, and I was passing people as if they were standing still.  I’m sure people just thought I started late but I was cruising by people (cruising being somewhere around 12 min miles).  I hit mile 2 around 12 minutes and was happy.

underarmour killington 25k

The next few miles climbed, and climbed, and also climbed.  It was very rocky like the Appalachians.  It was also extremely steep, and the inclines were anywhere between 20-40%.  After going for 40% for probably half a mile, 20% incline felt like a cakewalk.

I hit mile 5 around an hour.  I thought perhaps finishing 3 hours again would be doable, but the course kept getting more and more challenging.  So as the race progressed, it became clear I would only reach 3 hours if we ran on the roads.

The next few miles went between extreme uphill and extreme downhill.  It was either 20+% grade in one direction.  A few parts went off course and weren’t groomed.  You were just physically climbing up a mountain in knee-high grass.  I traded sports with a woman named Nancy and we got to chatting for a while (she ultimately left me in the dust the final downhill mile).

Underarmour killington 25k

Between 6-7 miles, we hit a peak with gorgeous views below.  All I could think about after reaching the peak was that eventually we would go down and there would be more downhill.  I took a second to admire the views and the top of the gondola.

Around 15k, I stopped at an aid station and went for skittles.  At Copper, I decided I wanted Red Bull, but at Killington, skittles appealed to me.  They were fine, and I had no stomach issues.

underarmour killington 25k

I took my second gel at mile 10.  I had gone back and forth between one gel per hour, but instead of taking it at 2 hours I decided to eat skittles and take the gel about 10 minutes later.

The next 5 miles were grueling, and I wanted nothing more to be done.  I like running, but the race was challenging me both mentally and physically.  I had no plans to quit, but I was exhausted.  The woman I was running with, Nancy, and I concluded we had about one more hour of running.

The next mile went up the side of a mountain.  It wasn’t an actual trail, but we just went up the side.  We climbed for a while longer, and around mile 11 we went downhill for a bit.  As we went downhill many people popped out of nowhere and passed me.  They gained minutes on me because I took the downhill nice and easy.

One male went charging the downhill and fell face first into a giant mud pit.  It was kind of comical because he was okay.  I just repeated to myself: make it out of here healthy Hollie.  Take it easy, no one cares about your time.  It was true, and I logged miles between 15-18 minutes.

The downhill wasn’t a smooth, rolling downhill.  It was going downhill on rocky terrain at anywhere between 20-40% incline.  My quads were screaming.

Then around mile 12-14ish, we went back uphill.  All I could think was, why are we going uphill…we should almost be done.  What is going on?  I had no bearings of the where we were in relevance to the finish line.

Finally, a pack of three dudes caught me.  They had gotten lost somewhere on the course so they sailed right by.  I looked down and 15 feet in front of me, the course as flat.

Was it flat forever?  Were we almost done?  One more mile of flat?  I started to really charge.  My quads were screaming, and I felt like I was at PRing pace.  I looked down to realize I was at 12-minute pace.  I laughed and just repeated one more mile.

All of a sudden, I could see the finish line.  It was coming so soon.  I was yearning for it.  I felt like I was in slow motion.  Someone yelled go Hollie, and I crossed.  I was done.  That was it.  I felt like I had accomplished the world.

underarmour killington 25k

I had a great time.  The course challenged me in ways running has never challenged me.  It was as mentally challenging to keep going as physically.

underarmour killington elevation chart

I like the trails, and I would do the race again.  For the fall, I plan to stick to the roads and chase some road PRs.

Questions for you:

What is the hardest race you’ve done?

Are you a better uphill or downhill runner? 

underarmour Horizon BPF shoe review
Under Armour Horizon BPF Trail Running Shoe Review

Under Armour Horizon BPF Trail Running Shoe

Recently, I tried the Under Armour Horizon BPF Trail shoe.  Between the Under Armour Trail Horizon BPF and Under Armour Sonic, it has been my first time logging significant mileage in an Under Armour shoe.

I’ve wanted to try both the street shoes: the Bandit as well as the Sonic.  Anyway, at the Copper Mountain Trail race, I tried the Under Armour Horizon BPF Trail Running Shoe on and thought they felt very comfortable.  As poor of an idea as it was, after my initial try on, I thought they were extremely comfortable, and I raced in them.  They felt great, and as most people know, I had a good race.  So yes, my first time running in the shoe was the Copper Mountain 25k.  The Under Armour Horizon BPF Trail Running Shoe did well and I would 100% wear them again for the race.  It is definitely not something I recommend with any shoe, but they felt great and I couldn’t be more pleased.  I also recently raced the Killington 25k and they were just as good.

underarmour Horizon BPF shoe review

Under Armour Horizon BPF Trail Running Shoe Quick Facts:

Weight: 8.1 ounces

Heel to toe drop: 7mm drop

Under Armour Horizon BPF Trail Running Shoe Fit:

I typically wear between a women’s size 10-11 wide.  I found the women’s 11 to be the most comfortable on my foot.  It’s relatively true to size.

The mesh upper of the Under Armour Horizon BPF Trail Running Shoe is durable and is breathable.  Since the primary function of the Under Armour Horizon BPF Trail Running Shoe is a trail running shoe, it also provides a lot of protection from rocks and trail debris.  The great part is it’s waterproof which came in handy when I was plowing through mud puddles in Killington. I also appreciate that it’s quick drying and fast for shedding mud. (I ran through so much mud at Killington).

underarmour Horizon BPF shoe review

Under Armour Horizon BPF Trail Running Shoe Ride:

The outsole of the Under Armour Horizon BPF Trail Running Shoe has a high-traction rubber which is actually designed by Michelin rubber tires.  So yes, the same rubber your tires have, your shoes have.  The Michelin OC outsole compound and cast PU support provide traction on every part of the trail.

Most people know I’m incredibly clumsy and I found the Under Armour Horizon BPF Trail Running Shoe to grip every part of the trail.  I never felt as though there was a surface I couldn’t handle.  I found the rubber extremely helpful for Killington and I’m not sure how well I would have done with something less aggressive.

But the shoe is not all rubber! The Under Armour Horizon BPF Trail Running Shoe also has optimal cushioning and is both soft and lightweight. It is not as rigid as many trail running shoes and provides plenty of cushion during your run.  I like the shoe because it’s soft and relatively light for a trail shoe, with plenty of traction.  The lightweight EVA midsole makes it much easier to run (in my opinion). Plus there are rock plates to get the rocks from creeping in.

underarmour Horizon BPF shoe review

Under Armour Horizon BPF Trail Running Shoe Conclusion:

Right now, Under Armour Horizon BPF Trail Running Shoe is my favorite trail running shoe.  I also own the Brooks Cascadia which I find better for hiking but the Under Armour Horizon BPF Trail Running Shoe better for running on trails.  If you are looking for a good, sturdy trail shoe, I would definitely look into this shoe.  It will probably stay my primary trail racing shoe (when I do trails).


Questions for you:
Do you run trails?  What is your favorite trail shoe?
Have you tried the Under Armour Horizon BPF Trail Running Shoe? 

Training: Workouts and Trails

Another week of training down?

I received constructive feedback about how boring my training logs had become.  When the majority of your blog is about running, I guess that is never good.   So I thought I would dive more in depth into my logs each week.  I don’t get paid to blog about my training but if it helps someone else then fabulous.  Or if you’re like me, and nosy, than also equally as fabulous.  I’m not a coach and not being coached.

One reason I have blogged less and less about training is that a lot of people don’t read posts. With the rise of instagram runners, a lot of blogs including my personal favorites have died off.  We all have lives and like I said on Wednesday, it doesn’t bother me but I don’t ever plan to become an instagrammer that writes a novel with each photo.   That being said, I have nothing to hide and as someone who works in run specialty, I do know half of my readers are people I “know in real life” so lying and hiding life would be weird.

On another running note, I will say I have decided on a fall race and once I have things set in stone I will share.

Monday: Easy 3 miles running
Tuesday: 10 Miles easy with Alexis
Wednesday: 3X1 mile 6:30 pace (warmup 2/cool down 2)
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Easy 60 minutes running
Saturday: Killington 25k (3:20)
Sunday: Rest

Easy Runs:

I run easy and usually either run without a watch on a route I already know (such as 3 miles).  I just put it on timer mode and run for X amount of minutes.  I have no idea pace or distance on the timed runs, but I typically average the miles to be about 9 minute miles.  They are usually boring, uneventful, and I just leave and go for run.

Wednesday: 3X1 mile (averaging 6:30 pace) with ½ mile jog (no stopping)

I would have liked this workout to be closer to 6:15 pace but my body didn’t have it.  I could tell I was tired but I had read something Sara Hall posted about: it wasn’t the easy workouts that made us stronger but the hard workouts that we didn’t feel great.  I’m not  taking stop breaks and just jogging through (very easy) because I do plan to build fitness for longer races (IE: not a 5 or 10k).

To be clear, I didn’t feel “injury bad” but more just tired, and my legs were heavy.  We all have those days and it’s nothing to cry or be ashamed about. The weather was more humid than it has been but I was happy to get the workout done.  Of course, it stinks for a workout not to go perfectly, but I’m not devastated.

While 400s are still just my favorite workout, I don’t want to find myself too stale by doing them all of the time.  I am the person that could do the same workout week after week and not get bored of it.  Swimming the mile in college gave me the “ability” to stay mindless…but I know it’s important to mix it up.

Killington 25k: (3:20):

Killington is known as the “Beast of the East” and I can see why.  I was over 20 minutes slower at Killington than running the 25k in Colorado at 9000 feet of elevation.  The terrain is much different and there is no way to compare.  It was the physical task I’ve ever done and the terrain was either 40% incline or decline.  There were sections of the race that became “only” 20% incline and I thought I was getting a nice break.

underarmour killington elevation chart

I am a terrible downhill runner.  It’s something I know I could get better with practice, but right now it’s very weak for me.  I was passed by dozens of people on downhills, only to pass them on the uphill.  Trail running has taught me, if I ran a “just uphill race”, I would probably do pretty good at it.  For me, the hardest part was going down a short decline around 13.5 that we ended up running through almost knee deep mud.  Luckily, I didn’t injure myself but I can tell you…my quads are very very sore.

I am proud of my accomplishment.  I run, walked, crawled, jogged, climbed, to the finish line and I couldn’t have asked anymore from myself.  Running the two trail races has taught me a lot about myself and I am so glad I decided to run both this year!

Posts from the Week:

Getting Lost at Shark River Park

Differences of Collagen Peptides and Gelatin

Running Isn’t Everything

Questions for you:

What is the hardest race you’ve run?

Do you have any fall goal races?

Queen city diner allentown
Queen City Diner (Allentown, PA)

Queen City Diner (Allentown, Pa)

Recently I was in the Allentown area.  As I mentioned on my hiking at Hickory Run post, I wanted to get through Philadelphia area traffic early.  It also left me with plenty of time to try a new diner.

Queen city diner allentown

Queen City Diner Atmosphere: B

The outside of the Queen City Diner is that of a typical diner.  There isn’t a lot about the Queen City Diner that is unusual, but it is old, metallic, and shiny.  The inside resembles the quintessential diner with plenty of booths, tables, and even a salad bar.

Queen city diner allentown

Getting inside the Queen City Diner was difficult because many people were congregated and waiting in the doorway.

Queen City Diner Allentown PA

Queen City Diner Coffee: A

The coffee at the Queen City Diner was good.  One thing I appreciated was the fact they left a pitcher of coffee so I could manually refill it myself.  That ended up being great because the waitress didn’t come around much.

Queen City Diner Allentown PA

Queen City Diner Food: B

The Queen City Diner menu has everything you would typically want in a diner.  There are plenty of breakfast, lunch, and dinner options.  Since it was around lunchtime, I decided to order an omelet.  It came with both hashbrowns and toast.  The omelet itself was good and was stuffed with plenty of filling.  The toast took an extra 10 minutes to come out after the food, which was frustrating.

Queen City Diner Allentown PA

Queen City Diner Service: D

To preface the waitress was nice but food took entirely too long to come out.  I think we were in the diner for over an hour.  When the food came out, it came out at different times.  One of my “pet peeves” is when food comes out at very different times.  I dislike when I get my food 15 minutes before someone else or vice versa.  The entire diner just seemed disorganized.

Queen City Diner Price: $

For my omelet and coffee, the cost was $10.

Overall Thoughts/Summary of the Queen City Diner:

The Queen City Diner wasn’t the worst diner I’ve been too, but not the best either.  The problem was the disorganization with food orders and the waiting time.  I would come back to see if I just hit it at a wrong time.

Atmosphere: B

Coffee: A

Food: B

Service: D

Price: $8-15

Overall: C

You Can See All Diner Reviews Here.

Questions for you:

Do you have a restaurant “pet peeve”?

What is your favorite type of omelet? 

Galaxy Diner Rahway NJ
Galaxy Diner and Cafe (Rahway)

Galaxy Diner and Cafe (Rahway, NJ)

Recently I was at the Galaxy Diner in Rahway, NJ.  Danielle and I needed a spot to meet that as somewhat close to Newark, and Rahway was a good stop.  Reading the reviews of Yelp, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Galaxy Diner and Cafe (Rahway) Atmosphere: A
When we arrived to the Galaxy Diner and Cafe, the hostess was friendly and quickly sat us at a booth near the back.  The exterior of the Galaxy Diner and Cafe is metallic, shiny, and as picture perfect as you expect a diner to be.  The inside has plenty of booths, tables, and a full-length bar.  We were lucky to snag a booth on the weekend.

Galaxy Diner and Cafe (Rahway) Coffee: B
The coffee was decent but nothing to write home about.  I liked it, and the waitress refilled it a few times.

Galaxy Diner Rahway NJ

Galaxy Diner and Cafe (Rahway) Food: A
The Galaxy Diner and Cafe (Rahway) menu has everything you expect a diner to have.  There are plenty of breakfast, lunch, and dinner specials.  There is even a salad bar filled with more than the average bar: beets, grape leaves, bean salad…the list is endless.  I was craving french fries but changed my mind last second. I wanted to make use of the salad bar, so I decided to order the Soulvanki special.  It came with a shish kabob of pork on top of rice as well as pita bread.  It also came with soup, and I ordered chicken noodle.

I don’t even know where to start with all of the food I ordered.  Everything on the salad bar was fresh, and I thought of any restaurant salad bars, it was one of the better ones I’ve had.

I ate some of the soup, which was decent, but I had so much food already.

Galaxy Diner Rahway NJ

The Shishkabob had gyro meat as well as grilled vegetables.  It was cooked perfectly as well.  Honestly, it was one of the better diner meals I’ve had in a while.

Galaxy Diner Rahway NJ

Galaxy Diner and Cafe (Rahway) Service: B
The waitress was nice but forgot about us.  After we finished our meal, it was another 20 minutes before she came back.  That was fine, as Danielle and I always have plenty to talk about.

Galaxy Diner and Cafe (Rahway) Cost: $
For all of my food, plus coffee it was $16.

Overall Thoughts/Would I Come Back to the Galaxy Diner and Cafe (Rahway):
I really enjoyed the Galaxy Diner and Cafe and had a good experience.  It is one of my more favorite diners in the area, and I would go back.  The salad bar is excellent and definitely one of the better restaurant salad bars.

Atmosphere: A
Coffee: B
Food: A
Service: B
Cost: $10-20
Overall: A

You Can See all 206 Diners Here.

Questions for you:
Where is your favorite salad bar?
Do you like grilled vegetables or prefer raw? 


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