Thoughts During a 20 Miler

A few weeks ago, I ran my first 20 miler in almost two years.  The last 20 miles I ran was during the Phoenix Marathon in February of 2015.

Thoughts during a 20 miler

After deciding marathons weren’t for me and taking 18 months to enjoy 5ks, I entertained the idea of the marathon (see past tense there).  Heck, at this rate I might entertain the idea until I’m 70.

So two weeks ago now, I set out with my friend, Angela to attempt 20 miles.  Our only goal was to get 20 miles done.  Thinking out loud, there was no pace or time goal.  Heck, I could slog 20-minute miles for the last few and be happy it was done.  Luckily, Angela was the same way (or at least pretended).  Angela is currently training for the Philly full in just under one month.

So with that…we were off!

The first few miles went by easily.  Of course they did, I’ve run 3 miles in almost all of my training runs.  We caught up chatting, amusing about life and our day.  It was humid but not too bad.  17 more didn’t feel too bad.

Around mile 3, I bumped my watch and set the mile markers off.  From mile 3 until the end, I didn’t know what our pace was…my only reasoning for even having a Garmin was for it to beep the majestic 20 miles!

Mile 4, I began to realize we still had 16 to go.  Omg…16…

Mile 5, I passed by my old house.  Luckily I didn’t see my previous landlords.  I think running by gave me some sort of weird energy to run faster.

At mile 6, I said: “we must be at mile 6 because I always need a bathroom stop”.  I drink so much water in the morning; I almost always have to go to the bathroom around 6 miles.  I don’t want even to think about running when pregnant…I probably won’t. I will stop every half mile.

Mile 7 and 8, made me realize we still had a long way to go.  I began questioning myself.  Would I make it to 20?  Despite taking a rest day, I still felt achy.

At mile 10, I realized: “Oh my stars,” we haven’t even gotten to the “hard part” yet.  The first 10 miles are supposed to be easy….right?  Well easy to some I guess…

Mile 11, 12 and 13 all went around a giant river.  It was easier to stay motivated because there were several friendly faces out.  Part of the path was blocked off because they were chopping down a tree.

How dare they chop down trees and block the path for runners?  What are they thinking…the nerve.

At mile 13.1, I felt accomplished. We ran a half marathon.  Is the running done?

We could quit now…minus we were no closer than 6 miles from my house with no cell phone.  Not the smartest idea to make a giant loop with no cell phone….then again running 20 miles is also not the smartest idea.

At miles 14 and 15, I began focusing.  It began the countdown of “Only 6 miles to go…only 5”.  We hit “Jakes Place” (the playground that is benefited from the race I recently did) around mile 16.

Four miles…you can do this.

Angela is much more well trained than I, and she glided effortlessly.  OMFG, why can’t I have your 20-mile perfection?

Right, because I’ve chosen to run 5ks for the last two years…

Mile 17 entered the neighborhood with multi-million dollar houses.  I wonder if I can get a few chauffeurs just to drive me home.

Only 5k left…you can do this…I remember saying to Angela: “so much happens in a 5k…let alone running 17 miles beforehand”.

During Mile 18, I began looking for the Turkey Squad.  Several turkeys hide and linger in my neighborhood.  My goal is to avoid them.  I petrified of geese and turkeys.  The absolute last thing I want to do is see them at mile 18…or 19…or ever.

Mile 19: They came out of nowhere.  The turkey squad was there.  I do not have time for turkeys, especially at mile 19.  I had no energy anyways, but the extra energy I did have was spent crossing the road and staying as far away as possible.

The last mile was the final countdown.  I was in the twilight zone.  By this point, we knew “only ten more minutes”.  Only 9…only 8.5…7.5…

Then all of a sudden, we found ourselves at 19.8.  While I’m not typically a “to the Garmin” person, I needed the trivial .2 to complete my oh so accurate GPS 20 miler anyways.  After circling a culdesac, we finished.

While I felt accomplished, I didn’t feel like I was ready or wanting to run a marathon.  Honestly, I don’t think I would have been able to run much further.

At least we look happy?
At least we look happy?

While it was a fun run and it was great to catch up with friends, it did seal the deal that I’m not training for another marathon soon.  I’m enjoying much shorter events.

Question for you: What was the last long run you did?


You Know You’re a Runner When…

I’ve been working at the Running Store for over two years now.  I’ve probably seen every kind of foot type and gait you can imagine.

I’ve even  written several running shoe related posts (if you ever have a question, just ask):
Losing Toenails: The Runners Rite of Passage?
What to Expect at a Running Store
How to Find the Perfect Pair of Running Shoes

I blog about running; I work at a running store, and I run myself.  Heck, I’m not even an elite runner, but a good portion of my life is influenced by running.  Of course, a good portion is not but that is not what I choose to blog about🙂.

So perhaps you’re walking around the world and you see someone you think you could share your hobby of running.  How do you know?  How can you tell?  Those bright speciality running shoes?  That vintage race t-shirt? 

You know You’re a Runner When:

You’re Shoes May Cost $120+, but a single pair of socks costs about $12+…hey, blister free running is worth it? 

You Pay $30 for half an hour of fun…but watching a movie in theaters…no thanks.

Your wall décor are medal holders, race awards and finishers trophies.

You’ve taken a vacation that revolves around a race or 3… 

Your laundry consists of 95% running clothes, 5% other clothes. 

You’ve purchased plenty of liquid sugar (GU) but whine when regular food has added sugar.

You wear compression underneath everything.  Work clothes, date night, wedding? 

cep compression capris
I’ve got compression for my compression…

You wake up earlier on the weekends for long runs or races.

You must finish a run on an even number.  5.89 miles is not the same as 6 miles…as a 10k…as half a marathon…as 7 miles…

Your coworkers stopped asking if you wanted to go out for lunch because they know you’re going for a run.

Your significant other used to try and change your mind about running but has since given up an even joined you for runs or races.

Can't beat them, join them right?
Can’t beat them, join them right?

Question for you: What are some runner’s quirks you have?

Training: Recovery and a Hail Storm

Most of my training was spent recovering from the Runner’s World 5k and Half Marathon.  Earlier in the year, I also signed up to do the inaugural base half marathon on Saturday.  If it had been any other race, with no special meaning to me, I probably would have skipped it.

Of course, it was pouring rain, windy as well as hailing…but why wouldn’t it be?  Pour rain, hail, wind and 40 degrees is my race anthem of 2016.

Monday: Easy Run
Tuesday: Easy Run/Deep Tissue Massage
Wednesday: Easy Run
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Easy Run
Saturday: Base Half Marathon 13.1 (1:25.30)
Sunday: Easy Run


All of my easy runs were easy and solo.  I missed running with friends this week and don’t have anything to say about any of the runs.  My body spent most of the week recovery from Runner’s World and with the help of a deep tissue massage, I did just that. I didn’t fully recover, but I did the best I could.

Base Half Marathon (1:25.30)

There were several races this past weekend I wanted to do.  The Atlantic City half, as well as the Perfect 10, are both competitive and fun races.  I’ve run with both organizations and can vouch for either.  As I mentioned, if it had been any other race I probably would have skipped it but running the base half marathon meant a lot to me.  Since it was the inaugural race, it was much smaller (200 half marathoners). There was also a 5k and full marathon.  (Which realistically I could have done the 5k instead too…I’m a sucker for the 13.1)

Due to a storm, the race was delayed 41 minutes.  So we stood outside in the pouring rain for 41 minutes.  So it was cold!

My goal was to run 6:40-6:50 pace for the first half and then hopefully negative split.  I did just that and cranked hard in the second half, with the final mile in a hail storm (yes hail!) as well as a nasty headwind.  I’m very happy with my performance, and despite not feeling 100% recovered plus being cold and miserable, I made the best of the situation and didn’t have a repeat Shamrock.  I’ll have a long recap this week. Base Half Marathon splits

As you can see, I had a great race for what I was looking for.  This race gives me the confidence I am in half marathon PR shape, but I have a lot more room to improve.

In summary, I’m happy with the week, and I’m happy with my race performance at the half marathon.  I’m probably back to square one in recovering, though…

Questions for you:

Do you have any races that are close to your heart?

Have you ever had a delayed race?

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 Last Week: November Project and Runner’s World Festival

The majority of last week was spent running easy and getting ready for the Runners World Festival.  While I knew, both courses were difficult, and I’m not in shape to PR yet, I wanted to feel somewhat fresh.  All of that was thrown out of the window when we did a new workout the day before.  Honestly, it was fun, and I’m okay with that.

Monday: Easy Run
Tuesday: Easy Run
Wednesday: Easy Run with Montana before she moved
Thursday: Rest
Friday: November Project
Saturday: Runners World Festival 5k (18:41)
Sunday Runners World Festival 13.1 (1:24.17)

Easy Runs:
As usual, there is nothing much to say about easy runs.  There was nothing particularly good or bad about them.  Soon, I think I’ll be ready to add an additional speed workout back into my routine.  I’ve been running healthy for over two months, and my base is just about back.

November Project:
Any runner has likely heard of November project.  I had beforehand, but I had never done a workout before. I knew it was intense and it didn’t disappoint.  There was a Pop Up in Bethlehem at the Runner’s World Festival.  All of the Runners World Influencers were asked to attend, and it was great to meet a lot of people. We had to climb the Steel stack stairs, do push-ups and dips and a lot of core work.  It was a lot of fun, and I don’t regret going, but I was definitely sore for the races!

November Project
Climbing the Steel Stack Stairs

Runners World Festival 5k: 18:41
I’ll have a full recap this week, but I’m happy with the time.  The course is hilly, and after November project I have no complaints.  My splits were 6:16, 5:45 and 6:02. I placed fourth woman overall.

Runners World Festival 13.1 (1:24.17)

Runners World Half Marathon
Thanks to Erica Sara for this photo

The half marathon was honestly my biggest shock of the weekend.  My hopeful goal was to be faster than the 1:28 I ran in 2015.  I couldn’t believe when I crossed the finish line in 1:24.  I never felt good during the race (tired legs and lack of sleep) but I never felt bad either.

I’m really happy with how this week went and I have zero complaints.  I had a great time at the Runners World Festival and two great races.  This week will probably be filled with Runners World Festival race recaps and behind the scenes recaps too.

Posts from last week:
Fall Running Products I’m Enjoying
LunarGlide 8 Review
6 Weeks of Deployment Later…

Questions for you:
Do you do better at hilly race courses or flat?
I’m beginning to think I run better on hilly half marathon courses.  This was my third fastest half marathon behind Carlsbad and Atlantic City (2014).  Carlsbad was a rolling hilly (to me) course too.
How was your week of training?