Beat 539 Half Marathon (1:25:28)

Despite the rain, wind and delayed start I got everything I wanted out of the base (Beat 539) half marathon. I was able to negative split the race and come back strong, after running hard the weekend before.

Do you race well in the rain?

Last Saturday I ran the base half marathon which was also called the “Beat 539 half marathon”.  The full marathon runs along Route 539 and if you have to run faster than 5 hours for 19 miles.

The full is USATF certified, and on a good weather day, it’s a fast course (minimal wind, blocked road, flat).  Since there were several races that weekend: (Atlantic City as well as the Perfect 10 Miler), all of the races had a small turnout.  There were about 200 people who ran the half marathon and 100 that ran the full.

My dad came up as well last weekend to visit.  Together we drove to Lakehurst base for the start of the half.  Since it was on base, the entire car was searched back to front.  (Even though we were both military).  When we got there, we headed to the fitness center where the other runners were.  Around 7:30, everyone headed outside.  I had no idea why and by the time I knew it, we were the only ones in the building.

I didn’t want to head outside, but I also didn’t want to be the only ones inside. It was pouring rain, 40 degrees and windy. Once I went outside, I realized everyone was walking close to a mile (yes a mile) to the start line.

Beat 539 half marathon start
Before we knew we were getting delayed

After getting to the start line in the pouring rain, the race was postponed.  There was flooding along the course due to the storm and the race director informed us there were sections that were completely flooded over.  By 8:30, I was freezing, miserable and not even wanting to run. For those who don’t know, I don’t run well in the rain.  I would rather run when it’s 100 degrees than when it’s 40 degrees and rainy.

Unfortunately this year alone I’ve run Shamrock half marathon, Broad Street 10 miler and this race in the pouring 40-degree rain.  So life is trying to make me love the rain.  Due to my luck, I bought a Gortex jacket and haven’t looked back.

To the race: once we started at 8:41, I was cold and miserable.  I wasn’t warmed up, and I didn’t feel good.  My goal was to run 6:40-6:50 the first half and try and hammer down after that.  Due to weather, I wouldn’t be disappointed if that didn’t happen.

I felt stiff during the first two miles.  My legs were tired; I was shivering, and I was just trying to warm up.  I was running in a pack of about four people.  There was one male leader ahead followed by my pack.  The course went through a few rolling hills, and I ran a 6:40 then 6:43.

Around mile 3, I found myself with one other male.  We were running alone with the first male way far ahead.  It was the last time I would run with anyone.  Around mile 4 I left him and ran the entire race all by myself.  That’s what happens with small races, though.

From mile 4-6, we were running on a couple different runways and roads.  It was a lot of side wind and not much view.  It was boring, lonely and honestly mentally challenging.  There were no spectators except several military personal passing out water every other mile.

I noticed cones going in the opposite direction, and I was excited.  It meant that there was an out and back portion and I would get to see other runners.  Out and back courses typically motivate me and seeing other runners motivate me too.  I’m a talkative runner and people cheer for me; I cheer for them too.  Out and back courses generally pump me up.

As I headed around mile 6, we entered a soft muddy ground.  I assumed this would be the portion that was flooded over and caused the delayed start.  The next mile was muddy were soft.  My feet sunk in but it wasn’t flooded (yet).  Then I saw the flooded section.  There was no way around it, and I just closed my eyes, cursed about 20 vulgar words under my breath and charged straight through.  It was about ankle deep.

There was another flooded section, and I charged through that too.  After that, I mentally regrouped.  I hit the halfway point in 43:40.

My A goal at the halfway was to drop the hammer and negative split the race.

My B goal was to maintain the same pace and be under 1:28.

My C goal was to finish because and not have a situation like Shamrock earlier this year.  As you can see, that race haunts me. 

And then for me, the race began.  The second half of the race went by much faster than the first.  I ran mile 7 in 6:16 and I began feeling confident.  I felt as if I had finally warmed up.  Mile 8 and 9 were both at 6:16 too.  Since I was running the race entirely by myself, there isn’t a lot to say.  I could see the overall male about 30 seconds in front of me.  I wanted to catch him!

During mile 11, we rounded a turn, and I could see the finish line.  Since the base is open (Lakehurst is a flight base so there are very few trees and you can see for miles), I could see the finish line 2 miles away.

The finish line is at the moment of the famous Hindenburg disaster.  Before the race, I actually did not realize that happened in New Jersey.  The blimp hanger is huge (over 300 feet tall and 900 in length), so you can see that for a lot of the race.

hindenburg disaster
Image via Weird New Jersey

It felt like we were almost done, but anyone running a half marathon can tell you, 2 miles is a long way.  I guess I was overly motivated and ran a 6:07 11th mile.

As we rounded a turn into mile 12, it hit me.  It began hailing, and there was a significant headwind.  It was blowing me backward as I tried to progress forwards.  Except mile 16 at the NYCM, it was one of the hardest miles I’ve run.  It was windy, hailing and I could see the finish line.  It just wasn’t coming any closer.

Base half marathon me running

My effort was still high but due to the wind, I ran the last mile in 6:40.   Finally, I crossed the finish in 1:25.29.  I quickly grabbed warmed clothing and changed afterward.


After racing Runners World 5k and Half last weekend, I wasn’t expecting to be faster.  With the weather, I got everything I wanted out of the race.  If you are looking for a flat, fast marathon, I recommend it.

Questions for you:
Rain: Love it or hate it?
What is the smallest race you’ve run?  How about the biggest?
I think the Run from the Sun half in Watertown, NY was a little smaller but this is one of the smallest halves I’ve run. 

Have you ever had a delayed race start? 


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?


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 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? 

Jake’s Place 2.8 miler (17:11)

On Sunday, I ran the Jakes Place 5k (spoiler: the course was short).  Even though I raced on Saturday, the race went to benefit a great cause.  Jake’s Place is a local playground with plenty of locations around the South Jersey area.  The playgrounds are built with modifications for people with disabilities.  All of that said, it’s a wonderful cause, and I use Jake’s Place bathroom about 50% of the time on my runs.

To be honest, after running the Dragon Run, the day before I wasn’t feeling great.  Why would I be?  Besides me legs being tired, I didn’t sleep well the night before either.

But my friends were doing the race, and I wanted to see them and support the cause.  After warming up with my friend, Montana, we towed the line at the 5k.  The race was delayed because they couldn’t close down the street and around 8:10 we were off.

Run for Play 5k

About a dozen high school boys shot to the front like missiles.  One cut me off, and I said: “Oh my stars”.  I think he was mortified, but we both almost went down.  I’ve been to the hospital for falls enough for my lifetime.  The first mile went down the road and around the parking lot.  The parking lot wasn’t uneven, and it was actually tough terrain to run on.  Since we were going in a big square, it was also hard to get a rhythm down.  I hit the first mile in 6:16 which I was pleased with.  At the first mile, I found myself as 4th overall.

During the second mile, I passed two males and found myself as second overall.  I don’t get competitive with boys, especially high school ones.  The first place and I were running side by side, and he was weaving around.  I would move out of his way, and he would somehow get right on my side.  Finally, I pulled a Meb and told him I was visibly going out of my way not to be on his tail (later he said he ran cross country and “all they do” is throw elbows…).  We hit the second mile in 5:58 which happens to be my fastest mile in October.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to outkick him and I just stayed as close as possible.  The third mile ended, quickly, too quickly.  When we went to turn into the parking lot, I thought we must have another loop but we went straight to the finish line (as the course indicated).  The course ended up being about 2.8 miles.  I was disappointed for my friends who were on PR pace.


I’m happy with the race despite everything.  I support the cause and I’ll probably do the race most years. Even though the course was short, my final pace was 6:06, so I would have probably finished a full 5k around 19:10ish.  I can’t complain about that!

Questions for you:

Have you raced a short course before?

Have you chosen a race based on the cause?

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?

Maple Shade Soccer Club 5kish (19:36)

After racing a 5k on Saturday, I decided to run on Sunday too.  I had run the race last year, and it went to a great cause.  Since I ran last year, I knew the course was long.  It wasn’t a matter of Garmin “telling me so”, it was a matter of the course being 3X1 mile loops and then a loop on the track.  (which made for about 3.25-3.3).  If I was that upset about it, I wouldn’t have run the race.  Honestly, I would rather run a longer race than short.

5k shot

The race started at 9 am, and I got there at 8.  My stomach has felt off lately, and I can’t pinpoint what it is.  When I warmed up, I didn’t feel great but not awful either.  After all, I had raced the day before too.  My stomach felt off and “sloshy”.  I got to the start line at 8:58 and didn’t feel too ready.

In typical local 5k fashion, a young student yelled, “don’t start yet, I’m tying my shoe” and we waited for a minute.  Then abruptly like last year, we were off.  During the first mile, I found myself as fourth person overall.  I could see the high schoolers in front me and it kept me motivated.  We rounded the first loop and I hit the first mile in 5:53.  I was shocked and excited.  I didn’t feel “amazing” while racing.  My stomach wasn’t bothering me like in warmup but I didn’t feel great either.

During the second mile, I focused on the two boys immediately close to me.  I knew the winner was way out of my sights, but I thought I could stay focused enough to pass the other two.  Last year, the roads were under construction, and there were a lot of potholes.  This year it was a smooth and perfect road.  I passed the first boy around the second mile and ran a 6:03.

After that, my only goal was “not to fade too much”.  I passed the second place male during mile 3 as well.

There was a volunteer who was patrolling the course in a golf cart who stopped short in front of me.  I nearly ran right into him and stopped short. I told myself during the third mile; I would be happy with anything under 6:30 but surprised myself was another 6:03.

As we rounded the third mile, I couldn’t remember how to get to the track.  There was no volunteer, and the course wasn’t marked.  I tried to remember (in about 1 second) what we did last year and went with it.  I figured they would yell at me if I was wrong.  Since you have to go on the grass field to get to the track finish, I blazed my own path.

I got on the track and was going to the correct direction towards the finish so I figured I was okay.  I crossed the end in 19:36 and ran around 3.26 miles.


To be honest, I didn’t expect to feel that good, especially after racing a 5k the day before.  I’m extremely pleased with my results and have no complaints.  Garmin tells me I crossed the “exact” 5k mark at 18:35 and averaged 6:01 pace, but you race the course you’re given.  It’s my fastest paced 5k since (by a lot!) before my injury so I can’t complain!  Last year I ran a 20:51 and this year a 19:36.  Granted last year I was recovering from a late weekend, 30 seconds per mile is a lot.

Questions for you:

Have you ever dealt with stomach problems during a race?

When was the last time you surprised yourself?