Runners World Festival Half Marathon (1:24.17)

The recap for the actual race begins the night before. A couple two doors down fought the entire night.  From about 11 pm to 5 am, they screamed at each other and slammed doors.  I’m not sure if I was more frustrated or impressed by their fighting stamina. I woke up around 4:45 to another fight and couldn’t fall back asleep.  I was glad this wasn’t going on during a goal race and just decided to wake up.

After waking up and relaxing, I walked to the race at 7.  Runners World changed the bag check this year, and it was over half a mile, away.  By the time Ty and I realized this, it was too late for me.  I couldn’t drop a bag off, go to the restroom and get to the race on time.  I also didn’t care to be delayered that far in advance before the race or run in my racing flats to the start.  So I took a risk and stashed my bag in the bushes.  It’s not something I advise, but I made it to the start on time.  (Yes, I thought about what a poor decision that was for half of the race.  My shoes and cell phone are both replaceable, but it would have been a costly replacement).

The race went off right at 8. After the November Project workout as well as 5k the day before, I didn’t have high hopes for an amazing time.  Plus, I’m not in the fitness I would like after my ankle injury. Last year I ran a 1:28 and my goal was to run faster than that.

The only thing I remembered about the course from last year was it was hilly for the first 10 miles, and the last three were downhill.  It’s a tough and challenging course, but it’s set up pretty well.  

The first mile went by fast.  I was running in a pack of people, and we hit the first mile in 6:22.  I thought it would be one of my fastest miles since it was downhill.

I noticed three women in front of me, and I focused on them.  One of the women was the overall winner of the 5k the day before.  The second mile went downhill.  I passed a few men and hit the second mile in 6:27.

Runners World half marathon photos me runnning

During the third mile, we climbed, and I ran close to another woman.  She passed me on the uphill, and I would pass her on the downhill.  She had such great form climbing the hills, and I tried to mimic her.  It was like she was climbing hundreds of feet effortlessly. I was in awe, and we hit the third mile in 6:33.

The fourth and fifth mile went by without any notice.  I was bouncing around and running with a pack.  I guessed I was moving places anywhere from 3-5th.  There was a pretty large pack of us! I ran mile 4 at 6:31 and mile 5 at 6:30.

I knew mile 6 was going to be a steep climb and it didn’t disappoint.  I focused on making it to the halfway point.  I ran a 6:49 mile but I wasn’t fading, and the pack did about the same.

Runners World half marathon photos me runnning

Finally, around the halfway point, someone shouted 3,4,5th female.  There was a potential podium finisher in our pack (which actually it was another woman who outkicked us all!).  It didn’t necessarily motivate me to run any harder, but it was nice to know where we were.  I realized at the halfway point; I didn’t feel too bad.  I wasn’t fading, and my splits were direct responses to hills. I had a feeling I might finish well.

I hit the halfway point in 42:34.  It would equate to a 1:25.08 half.  I made the goal of breaking 1:26 which wasn’t based on anything but feeling good.

I knew one of my friends was passing water out around mile 8 so I just focused on that.  By this point, I was running in the same pack consisting of myself, two women and a male.  It kept me motivated and pushed me to keep moving.  After a turn around mile 9, I also noticed there were about four other women 10 seconds behind.

I hit the ten-mile point in about 1:05 and I desperately wanted to break 1:26.  This was when I began pushing the pace.  I knew the last 5k was a lot of downhill, so I was going to take advantage of it. I rarely have downhill advantage over any racer, but I began pushing and broke away from the females.  The male and I progressed together.

Around mile 11, we went over the bridge and a new woman passed me like I was standing still.  I knew at that very moment; she had clutched 3rd.  I did not have the leg turnover or speed and I knew if it came down to the last .1, she would easily outkick me.  I did, however, attempt to keep up and mile 11 was the fastest mile I’ve ever run during a half marathon (5:58).  It was also partially downhill.

Runners World half marathon photos me runnning

The final two miles were spent by myself.  I just focused on the end.  The last mile is the same last mile the 5k uses.  I just kept wanting to see the finishers line.  Around mile 13, I saw Erica Sara and her son which motivated me.

I crossed the finish line in 1:24.17 and I was both ecstatic and shocked.  That is my third fastest half marathon (Behind my PR at Carlsbad and Atlantic City 2014).  I still cannot believe I ran that well given the circumstances and I do believe it sets me up for a great rest of the year.

Runners World half marathon photos me runnning

Course Elevation Profile: 

Runners World half marathon elevation profile


Runners world festival half marathon splits


I’m extremely proud of this time.  It’s my third fastest half in non-ideal circumstances.  I’m excited to see where the rest of fall and winter takes me.

Other Runers World Festival Posts: 
Runners World Festival Activities
5k (18:41)

Questions for you:
Do you run downhills or uphills better?
When was the last time you surprised yourself?

Runners World Festival 5k (18:41)

I went into the Runners World 5k in nonideal conditions.  As I mentioned in my training log, we did a November Project workout the day before and my legs did not feel fresh.  I don’t regret doing the workout but it was more strenuous than I would have preferred.

While warming up, my legs felt November Project.  More specifically, my quads felt fatigued.  It almost felt as if I had raced the day before.  I reminded myself: I’ve done back to back races before and done well, so I tried to get myself into that mentality.

Since I ran the 5k last year, I knew the course.  I knew it was challenging and it was one of the more hilly 5ks I’ve done. I knew I wouldn’t PR, but I was looking to run hard.

At the start line, there were a lot of fast women.  I was excited and nervous.  The air horn went off and all of a sudden we were off.  It was a crowded first 400 meters, and I was elbow to elbow with a lot of people.  I saw five ladies take off like missiles and I knew they were much faster.  I placed third last year but suspected that was not happening (and it didn’t!)

The first mile felt like it took a lot longer than it should.  I was running in a large pack and we ran a 6:16.

Honestly, I was extremely discouraged.

I thought my race was done.  My goal was to be around 18:56 (the time I ran last year).  I spent the next mile sulking and wondering what went wrong but I also tried to regroup and refocus.  Often times, things seem 100 times worse when you are in the moment.  During mile 2, I saw my Runners World Festival team partner, Jason, who was killing it.  He also ran the 5k/10k and half.

As went over the bridge,  I saw a lot of familiar faces which motivated me and allowed to refocus and change my attitude.  It’s a running race, not life or death.  I ran the second mile in 5:45.  Looking back, the elevation profile makes complete sense with splits.  My time makes sense, but nothing makes sense when you are actually running.

After hitting the second mile in 12:01, I made it my goal to power to the end.

I wanted a course PR, and I knew if I didn’t run a 6:30ish mile I could do that.  So I focused on the end.  I also knew the final mile had a small uphill too.  I remember the second place woman passing me effortlessly there last year.  There weren’t any females around me, but there were plenty of men. Runners World Festival

After the hill, I cruised down and towards the finishers shoot.  Around 2.9, I saw the clock ticking 17:30.  I stared at the 3-mile clock until I passed it.  Then I stared at the finishers clock.  I didn’t want to view the clocks, but I couldn’t look away from them either.

Finishing the 5k

Thanks Ty for the photo

I heard them announce me name as: “All the way on her toes, Hollie, crosses as fourth place female”.  I laughed because I am, after all, FueledbyLOLZ…I can only laugh in real life.


I’m extremely pleased with the race.  I was faster than last year even though I was much more sore from November project.  It’s my fastest time on an accurate course (I ran an 18:58 two weeks ago, and a 6 min paced 3.3 miles three weeks ago).  Plus the course is difficult. I am proud of myself for regrouping and refocusing in the race.

Elevation Profile:

Runners World 5k elevation profile

Other Runners World Festival Posts: 
Activities during the Runners World Festival
Training Log

Question for you: Have you ever mentally checked out of a race or activity? 

Runner’s World Festival

I’m not sure where I wanted to start my Runners World Festival Recap.

Do I start with the races? The events? The food? As luck would have it, I’m haven’t finished writing the race recaps so events it is!  I thought about adding the events and food together, but it was too long.  So more posts for you.

As you might recall, I was an influencer for the Runner’s World Festival last year, and I was invited back again this year too.  When they asked, I was extremely excited.  I had already planned to come up for at least the half marathon.

Thinking out loud, To be honest, the entire weekend is one of my favorite events of the year!

The Crowd…

The Energy…

The Runners World Staff…

Plus Bethlehem is only about 60 miles from my house (but anywhere from 1.5-2.5 drive because of Philadelphia traffic).  I arrived at Bethlehem the Thursday before the race.  We went to a BBQ hosted by Runner’s World with plenty of delicious food.

We were then split up into teams to compete in the “Altra” Olympics.  (Altra is the shoe company that sponsors the Runners World Festival).

My partner, this time, was Jason from SaltyRuns.  I already knew Jason well and we chatted back in May.  He gave me advice on my most recent fracture.  Jason is a great guy, and his blog is extremely informative about running related topics: anywhere from shoes to injuries to marathoning!

We had a fun task to create our own country flag, complete with a name and motto.  Being the cleaver people we are we chose:

“Salty Lolz,” Run Hard, Laugh Harder.  

Jason and I

To be honest, I’m not all that creative, and I was extremely proud of this.

After that, we retired for the night and were up bright and early for a Pop-up November Project.  Before Friday, I had never done a November Project Workout.  I kind of knew about it (read: I knew it was hard and intense).  I was nervous to do a workout!

November Project

So I was trying something new and strenuous) before race day.

Fellow blogger, Ty and I
Fellow blogger, Ty and I
November Project Super Secret Meeting Runners World
Creeping on the famous ladies from “Super Secret Meeting” (It’s hilarious if you’ve never watched their videos)

A new workout was not in the actual game plan and I will say, I was sore for the rest of the weekend. It was a great workout and there is a Philadelphia Chapter.  I think I’ll save it for the weeks I’m not racing.

November Project
November Project, Brogan, said: “Be Serious” and I was just awkward…

I don’t regret doing it and it was a lot of fun.  I can see why it draws hundreds in the Boston area.

After the November Project,  we had a gait analysis from Altra founder, Golden.  He helped with form and had great advice for techniques when you’re tired. Of course, he talked about his running shoe brand, Altra too.  We carry Altras at work, so it was beneficial knowledge for me to have for work too.

Altra Founder Golden

For those who don’t know, Altra is a “zero drop” foot shaped shoe brand.  Last year, I reviewed the Altra Paradigm.  This year I’m currently trying out a pair of Altra Torin 2.5s.

Altra Founder Golden

We had an excellent lunch using recipes from “Run Fast, Eat Slow.”  I’m sure most in the Running World are familiar with Shalane’s new book. We were given a copy, and I’ve made a few recipes at home myself that I do like.

The beet hummus and pita chips are delicious...
The beet hummus and pita chips are delicious…

We also got to be part of the new launch for Dean Karnazes book: Road to Sparta.  It was so new; I was the first person he signed the book for.  I’ve dug into the book already myself. Karnazes recreates the very first journey and the birth of the marathon.  To recreate it, he even goes without modern day sports nutrition (energy gels, Gatorade, etc. basically ).  He was telling us how he lived on figs and olives throughout the entire process.  He basically ran and ate figs for 26 hours straight (in costume too!).  I would definitely recommend picking up a copy.  I’m just over halfway through, and I’ve enjoyed it!

Back to meeting Dean: 

Road to Sparta Dean Karnazes.

I pretty much sounded like a gargled mess.  Typical of me since I am incredibly awkward in real life…  (You have to own it though).

Road to Sparta Dean Karnazes.

After lunch, we were off on our own.  To be honest, it was only 1 pm, and I was exhausted.  It was nice to relax and prepare for the races.  As I mentioned on Instagram, I ran an 18:41 5k and 1:24.17 half marathon.  I was surprised with the half marathon time since it was a hilly course and I had raced the day before.

Questions for you:

Have you ever done a November Project Workout?

Have you ever met a writer or celebrity?  Are you as awkward as I am? 

Training: Marathons and Dragons

Last week was an interesting week for me.  As many people know, I’m entertaining the idea of a winter marathon.  I haven’t run a marathon since the Phoenix Full in February of 2015, and I’ve only run full marathons.  Neither marathon has been great or made me love the distance. I’m also not entirely sure I’m ready, but I’m putting in a few longer runs in the next two weeks to see how I feel.img_1686

Putting in long runs means extra rest days, and for the next couple of weeks, I’ll probably run five days versus 6.

Monday: Easy Run  
Tuesday: OFF PT/ART
Wednesday: Long Run (17.75 miles)  
Thursday: OFF PT/ART
Friday: Easy Run with a friend  
Saturday: Dragon Run 5k (18:58)  
Sunday: Jakes Place 5k (2.8 miles) 17:11  

I never have much to say about my easy runs.  I think that’s natural.  I had a great time running with a friend on Friday though!Thoughts:

Long Run:

The only goal of this run was to finish injury free.  I had no time or pace goal, and in fact, it was my longest run in almost 18 months.  Nothing hurt or ached during the run, and I finished feeling satisfied.  I’m not confident in running any further right now, but I’m sure I’ll build confidence by running longer again.

Dragon Run 5k (18:58)

A few kids came into work discussing the race and told me last week to do it. Since it was a 5-minute drive to work afterwords, I had too.  Long story short, my legs were sore after my 17+ miler, but they didn’t feel terrible.  I was outkicked by five boys in the final .05 (who probably didn’t want to get chicked), and they pulled me right under 19.

Jakes Play 5k (2.8 miles) 17:11

This was supposed to be an actual 5k, but it wasn’t.  I would love to tell you I randomly PRed by a minute but the course was about .25-.3 short.  I wasn’t in the mood to run, but two of my very good friends were running so I decided to go anyways.  Plus, the race fundraised for “Jakes Place,” a local playground/park for special needs children.  I have used that bathroom several times on runs, and I wanted to support the cause.

I ran the first mile in 6:16 and the second in 5:58.  My average pace for the entire race was 6:06 so my guess is I would have run between 19-19:10 for a full 5k.  While I’m disappointed in the race, it happens.  I race so many 5ks, some being long (like last week), some being short so it all balances out.


Training wise, my week was great.  As I mentioned, I’m at a cross roads of deciding what I want to do.  Train for a marathon?  Continue working on speed?   The next two weeks will definitely play a decision in that.

This was definitely a defining week for me.  While I’m still not 100% sure about marathoning again, I am entertaining the idea more than I have in a very long time.  My goal for my third marathon would be too make it to the start and finish line healthy.  I’m still not entirely comfortable with the distance, and I don’t think adding a time goal would be appropriate.  My goal for the marathon would be to both start and finish injury free.

Questions for you:

Do you consider yourself to have a good finish line kick?

Do you love or hate the marathon?  Or are you indifferent?

Rotary 5k (19:41)

On Saturday I ran the Rotary 5k.  I ran it in 2015 after spending a night at the Air Force Ball.  Needless to say, I was out late and wasn’t “prepared” to run the race last year.  Last year, I ran a 20:12 which I was happy with.  This year my only goal was to beat that time.

When I arrived at the race on Saturday, it was windy and somewhat cold.  I warmed up, and my legs didn’t feel good or bad.  They felt sore from the RnR Philadelphia Half Marathon but other than that I felt fine.

The race started, and I immediately found myself as fourth overall and 1st woman.  I stayed there the entire race, and there was no one 20 seconds in front or behind me.  It makes for a very boring race recap, but that is how some races go.  Heck, I don’t even have any race photos.

The first mile was both windy and hilly.  There are a few minor hills, and we were running into the headwind.  They closed down the road, but we were running close to several cars.  My legs felt decent.  I was surprised to run the first mile in 6:16 which wasn’t as fast the Flying Fish 5k two weeks ago.

During the second mile, we went into a neighborhood.  The course is out and back, and I nearly got lost in the middle mile.  Luckily, a police officer directed me in the correct direction.  At the turnaround, I saw I was still fourth overall, and the three males in front were quite far ahead battling it out.  We turned the corner, and I began seeing other racers behind going in the opposite direction.  There were a lot of high schoolers, and it was motivating to see them out running (considering I couldn’t even run a mile in high school?).  I hit the second mile in 6:27.

During the third mile, I just focused on finishing.  There were a lot of hills and turns.  The course was well marked and even though I had no sight of any other racers, I was confident I was going in the right direction.  (To be honest, I couldn’t remember the course at all).

Finally, we wrapped around the high school and headed towards the finish line.  I crossed the third mile in 6:27 and the finish line in 19:40.


I was happy with my results.  My time was 30 seconds faster than last year on the same course.  (Although this year I had not been out late the night before😉.  I don’t have any complaints.  Some race recaps are more boring than others, but that is what happens when you run the race so frequently.

Questions for you:

Have you ever raced alone?

Do you run the same races each year?

Workouts: Recovery and a 5k

Is it that time already for another training log?

Last week flew by for me!

As most people know, I ran Rock n Roll VA Beach the weekend before last.  It drastically affected my training week because I spent the majority of the week recovering from the race.

I spent most of the week recovering and doing easy runs, but I’m doing easy runs throughout the week anyways right now.  There is no sense in doing another workout when I am racing pretty regularly. Hopefully, in a few weeks, I’ll feel comfortable enough to add a speed workout on top of racing too.

Monday: Easy 45 minutes Core (15 mins)
Tuesday: Easy 60 minutes ART release session
Wednesday: Easy 60 minutes
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Easy 45 minutes Core
Saturday: Flying Fish 6k (19:35)
Sunday: Easy 90 minutes
Easy Runs:

There is never much to say about them.  They are easy, boring and injury free.  To be honest, the half marathon took a lot out of me.  My calves are still tighter than normal.  It’s to be expected because it was my longest run, race, and sustained effort in quite a while.  In fact, I hadn’t raced a half since the April Fools half marathon in early April.

Flying Fish 5k (19:35):


For the last few months, I’ve been excited about the Flying Fish 5k.  The race starts and is sponsored by the Flying Fish Brewery.  My work put on a group run with Flying Fish about three weeks ago, and I had been excited to race the rest of the month.

However, during the last week, my legs were clearly very tight, and the weather became a big factor.  I had already signed up for the sold-out race, so I decided to gut it out.  I ended up surprising myself with my fastest 5k time post injury by 30 seconds.  The race itself was well put together and a lot of fun.  If you are NJ/Philadelphia local, I recommend it.

I plan to keep trucking along and to recover.  I’m happy with how my recovery is going.  As I said last week, I wouldn’t classify myself in the injured stage anymore.  I would classify myself in the recovered but getting back into shape stage.  This might be the hardest stage to be in because you want to make goals for the next training cycle but you have no idea how fast you will “get back into shape”.

Posts from last week:
The Time I Saw A Bear While Hiking
A Timeline of my Ankle Injury

Questions for you:
Have you ever done a brewery race?
What is the hottest weather you’ve run in?

RnR VA Beach (1:29.46)

I’ve run Rock N Roll VA Beach twice before (2013 and 2015 ).  Despite being injured for most of the summer, I had high hopes I would be able to run in 2016 too.

Even if it meant forgoing my pride and running faster than a PR, I set earlier in the year. 

Even if it meant my only goal was “to finish.” 

As luck would have it, I hadn’t had any pain in my foot for several weeks.  I decided to use RnR to test my fitness and foot at the half marathon distance.  I was confident with my training that my foot would be fine, but I had no idea what kind of time I would run. That being said, if it hurt anyway, I would have stopped too.

So with that, I toed the line on Sunday.  My PR allowed me to have an F bib, and I was F5.  Never in my wildest dreams would I think I would end up as fifth female, and my only goal was to finish.  Since I grew up in VA Beach and half of my friends still live there, I felt like the race was a reunion.  I saw a lot of my close friends including well-known blogger Kris L (who ended up as second overall).  As I told my dad, I never seemed to stop talking during the race.  I high-fived little kids; I shouted to my friends spectating and talked to fellow racers.

The hurricane and high winds caused the race to have a few modifications such as fewer course structures like the mile markers, as well as the start and finish line overhead.  They could have blown out to sea…but at least the race was on.  The mile on the sand the day before was cancelled due to the hurricane and travel advisory.

I reminded myself everyone was dealing with the weather.  Luck hasn’t been on my side for racing weather this year, so I’ve let that one go…It wasn’t as windy as the April Fools half and it wasn’t as rainy as the Shamrock or Broad Street so I called it a “good” weather day.

 Roll Virginia Beach results
Before the race. We ended up all making the top 5

The race went off, and I decided to run on my own.  I didn’t want to feel pressured by a pace group.  (There was both a 1:25 and 1:32).  My legs were stiff, but I felt pretty good. My friend, Greg, ran close by and said he was going to try and run below 1:30.  As much as I wanted to stay with him, I wasn’t sure if that was in my realm of possibilities.  We chatted for about two miles.  We ran each at 6:42 and 6:48.

I had mixed feelings during the first mile.  I’ve run three 5ks now, all around the 6:30 pace.  12 seconds per mile slower but four times the distance didn’t seem like my brightest idea…but I was running on how I felt for the day.

During the third mile, I began to realize this was much longer than the few 5ks I recently ran.  As we ran through the third mile, the 5kers turned off.  I hit the 5k in 21:27.

The next few miles went without much notice.  There was the wind but it wasn’t unmanageable.  I found myself running in a pack of men.  At the time I had no idea what place I was in and honestly I didn’t care.

I was constantly reevaluating my foot.  Nothing hurt and that was all right by me.  Somewhere between mile 3-4, I waved to someone and bumped my watch into split mode.  I had no idea how to fix it, so I ran the rest of the race relatively blind to pace and time.  I could do simple math based on timing to figure out approximately where I was at.  My mile markers beeped at the .3.

 Roll Virginia Beach results

Around mile 5, I started running with a guy named Brett who is training for his second marathon.  We chatted for several miles, and they went by quickly.  I also noticed two females about a quarter of a mile in front.  I wanted to catch them but didn’t know how my endurance would hold up in the final miles…would it be another repeat of bombing Shamrock?  That race is a memory I never want to remember.

We hit the halfway point in 44:46.  At that point, my lofty goal was to break 1:30.  I did know since the winds were coming from the north, it would be a strong headwind for the final two miles.  I opted not to think very far ahead.

During mile 7, I faded.  I found myself disconnected from the race and in the negative zone.  Looking at my Garmin now; I ran about a 7 min mile.

As I saw I was reeling the two women in, I began to feel rejuvenated.  I reminded the race was already halfway over, and I could do it.  We went on the base, and the course went in a giant U.  I could see the racers out ahead, and I could see the top women several minutes ahead.

I caught both women and as I left the base mentally preparing for the final four miles.  I hit mile ten around 1:08:30 and thought, “I could still be on track to break 1:30.”

There is a mini out and back on the course, and we saw racers running between 2-3 hour marathons.  They were cheering, and it was motivating for us.  I tried to cheer for everyone I knew too.

A man came up behind me and said, he had wanted to catch my green CEPs for a while…I didn’t know what to say so I said, “they were like little beacons”.  He ran by me, and I was the one chasing him for the remainder of the race.

Mile 11 always seems to be the hardest mile for me in a half.  At mile 11, the race is almost over but then again, not really.  We went over a small bridge, and it got to be windy. I put on my sunglasses to keep sand out of my eyes (and to hide the pain).  The lack of speed work, training and endurance began catching me.  My foot, however, felt fine.

 Roll Virginia Beach results

We came down the bridge, clicked through mile 12 and by the time I knew it we were running the final mile on the boardwalk.  The final mile was extremely windy and lonesome.  Sand was whipping around.  I had been unsure whether I wanted to wear my sunglasses but they proved to be helpful to keep sand out of my eyes.

 Roll Virginia Beach results

I was running the straight away by myself with spectators around.  Honestly, I was jealous.  I wanted to stand around in a hoodie and with coffee too.  Since it was too windy for the typical finishers line, you didn’t know when the finish was coming.  You felt like it would never come.  The only thing that signalled the race was over was a timing mat.  When I finally saw the outline of a finishers mat, I decided to hammer out what I believe was the last quarter of a mile.

 Roll Virginia Beach results

I saw the clock ticking into the 1:29s and I had no idea if I would be under 1:30. I don’t know why I was so concerned, but I gave it everything I had and crossed in 1:29.46.  I finished triumphal.  I was fifth female overall.

Roll Virginia Beach results

After crossing I felt extremely happy.  I finished the race injury free, and exeeded any time goals I had for myself. I’m not in the fitness I was earlier in the year but I know with both time and effort, I’ll get back there eventually.  I’m proud that I ran a smart race and able to run consistently as well.

 Roll Virginia Beach results

It was great to see so many friends as well as family on course.

Questions for you:

Have you ever run a Rock n’ Race?  

Have you ever had a race cancelled?