Sunday, November 28, 2021

Girl Scouts Go: Run for the Cookies 5K Race Recap

The Saturday after Thanksgiving I ran the Go Scouts Go: Run for Cookies 5k in Maryland Heights, MO.  Just like the Olivette Turkey Trot, I have known about this race for years but just ran it for the first time this year.  Also like the Olivette Turkey Trot, this race course was VERY close to where I live.  

What I really loved about this race was the option to save money by not getting a race t-shirt.  If I remember correctly, it saved me $5 (which I just used towards my pre-race Starbucks).  I opted to pick up my packet on Saturday at the Des Peres Fleet Feet and it only took a matter of minutes to get my bib.  

This race course is close to my home but it is also right off of I-270 and Page Avenue, so it is super convenient for locals.  The race started at 8 a.m. so I was parked by about 7:15 a.m.  It was a bit chilly again that morning, so I just waited in my car until 7:50 and I walked right up to the start line.  This race had corrals that were released roughly three minutes apart.  Since I couldn't remember which corral I signed up for,  I just started in corral two.  The race course took us through the industrial park area of Westport Plaza, which was surprisingly hillier than I expected or was prepared for.  




Right off the bat I felt slower than I did at the Turkey Trot.  I just felt sluggish, so I started my intervals a lot earlier at this race.  Once the flow of runners started to thin out, I kept pace with a couple pre-teen Girl Scouts.  They would run while I was walking and I would run while they were walking.  Eventually there was one Girl Scout running alone after her friend ran ahead, and we started talking.  We talked about the hot chocolate at the finish and she reminded me that there would also be Girl Scout cookies.  We talked about the new Girl Scout cookie, which I had not tried yet.  Talking to someone else, especially about Girl Scout cookies, was a welcome distraction from feeling sluggish and it honestly helped me finish the 5k faster than I would have otherwise.  Despite feeling much, much slower than I did at the Turkey Trot I ended up only being 34 seconds slower, so I was very happy with my time.  Once you crossed the finish line you were greeted by volunteers, a medal, and water.  Then back in the parking lot were the much anticipated Girl Scout cookies and hot chocolate.  They had my favorite cookie the thin mints, so I was beyond excited!




After the race as I was stretching, I was approached by a fellow runner who thanked me for keeping her at a good pace.  I guess she is like me and tries to find someone to pace with to avoid running too fast, and also finding someone to follow for motivation.  It was a nice compliment and I even turned around to make sure that she wasn't talking to someone behind me.  I am normally silent and don't talk to anyone during a race unless I am running it with a friend. This was a nice change and I just left the race feeling really happy and excited for the next 5k. 

Olivette Turkey Trot Race Recap

Thanksgiving Day seems like ages ago already, but I am still on cloud nine about my Turkey Trot finish time.  Now 37:49 is likely slow for a 5k to most runners reading this, but that is my fastest 5k time since 2017!!!  

In 2020 I just ran a virtual Turkey Trot due to Covid and I think all of the local Turkey Trots were virtual last year too, so it was nice to have an in-person option close to home.  The race started and ended in Stacy Park in Olivette, which is near my home and my work.  This park is very easy to get to since it is just off of Olive Boulevard between I-170 and I-270.  

Before Covid I had run the Turkey Trot downtown, the St. Charles Turkey Trot, and the black Friday Turkey Trot in Town and Country.   The Olivette Turkey Trot is technically the closest race course to my home, so it has been on my radar for years and I was happy to finally be able to run it.  Packet pick-up was held on the Tuesday and Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving at Olivette City Hall. Since I picked up my packet on Tuesday, it wasn't busy at all.  There was also a race day option for packet pick-up.  Swag included a long sleeved blue tech shirt and you had the option to purchase previous years shirts for $5, which I took advantage of again. 


I often run and walk in Stacy Park, so I knew that it had a small parking lot and I wasn't sure where overflow parking would be, so I arrived around 7:10 a.m. to ensure that I would snag a parking spot.  Upon arrival, several Olivette fire trucks and police vehicles were already on-site and the music was going.  The mayor was present as was our St. Louis County Executive (he's become locally famous during Covid).  Hot chocolate, coffee, and tea were available adjacent to race day packet pick-up and there were plenty of porta-potties available in addition to the park's permanent restrooms.  Stacy Park has a nice walking path, and I saw plenty of people warming up before the race.  As the parking lot filled up, I realized that overflow parking was being directed to the grass in between the ball fields but I loved that I was able to park right at the start/finish line.  As a result, I was able to stay in my warm car until five minutes before the race started.  


The race course was basically one large loop with a few small hills.  I was so pumped about this race that I didn't even switch over to my intervals until about halfway through the race.  I just got into a good pace and was fueled by all the people around me.  The other runners and walkers were people of all ages and abilities, a lot of strollers, and lots of dogs.  Spectators along the course were friendly and were cheering us on, despite the cold morning.  Waiting at the finish line were snacks like hot chocolate, coffee, tea, water, beer, bloody mary's, and chips.  The Olivette police department opened a separate exit for people to be able to easily leave the park, and it was actually a breeze leaving the park which is one problem I came across at the downtown and St. Charles Turkey Trots. I would highly recommend this race to anyone living or visiting the St. Louis area for Thanksgiving.  It really was a great race!

Sunday, October 10, 2021

MO' Cowbell Half Marathon - #55

Last Sunday I walked the MO' Cowbell Half Marathon with my running/walking buddy Stephanie.  It was technically her 2nd half marathon but 1st in-person half marathon, having completed the virtual Single Chuck Challenge with me in 2020.  We decided to walk this race since our training was not consistent this summer and I was bouncing back from an injury incurred during my last 5k, more on that another time.  I told her that this half marathon was very walker friendly and she was pleasantly surprised to see that I was right!  Despite walking the entire race, we were constantly passing other walkers and also being passed by faster walkers.  The original forecast was not looking good going into the weekend, but the weather ended up being very pleasant for our long walk and I've included a few photos from the course below.






This was the 10th year for the MO' Cowbell Marathon weekend and my 5th MO' Cowbell half marathon.  I also ran the 5k two years back when the 5k was also on Sunday, and then I volunteered instead of running for a couple years as well.  I've been involved in this race in some way since 2013 and I just love it!  This year, I volunteered at bib pick up at the expo on Friday and at the post-race food tent for the 5k on Saturday night and I included a few photos from those volunteer shifts below.











I just can't say enough good things about this race and if you haven't run with us yet, go ahead and flip to the first weekend in October of 2022 and plan to make the trip to St. Charles for one or two of the races.  I hope to see you there!

Monday, May 31, 2021

University City Memorial Day 5k

I finally felt comfortable enough to run an in-person 5k this morning, the annual University City Memorial Day 5k!  I last ran this race in 2019 when there was also a 10k option and my running buddy and I decided that running a 10k untrained was a good idea.  Oops!  So this year's 5k race was much more manageable and we felt great afterwards.  

We initially rushed to register for this race because there was a lower cap of around 300 runners but with the updates to the CDC recommendations for vaccinated individuals, the cap recently increased to 700 runners.  This year the start line and finish line were separate, porta-potties were spaced out, volunteers and police officers were all wearing masks, runners were assigned to corals based on their estimated pace, and four runners started at a time and were staggered a few seconds apart.  In the Covid-era I have been overly cautious and basically became a hermit, but this race setup felt safe to me.  

There were two packet pick-up options available: one the day prior (Sunday) and on race day.  Both packet pick-up options were outdoor this year as well.  Our start time was at 7:30 a.m., but we still arrived and parked around 6:30 a.m. since Coral 1 was supposed to start at 7:00 a.m.  The start ended up being delayed by 15 minutes due to a police situation on the course, but everyone went with the flow and our coral ended up starting just eight minutes late.  The delayed start gave us some time to take pictures of the area and explore a bit, which was nice.  We estimated that our overall pace would be in the 14:00 range, but we ended up with an overall pace of 12:57 so we were pretty excited.  Unfortunately all of the snacks were gone when we finished, so we just celebrated with breakfast at a nearby Starbucks instead.  

The University City Memorial Day 5k is a great race to kick off your summer with.  It's usually humid and warm on race day but in 2021, it was absolutely perfect with temperatures in the high 70's and low humidity.  I highly recommend this race and hopefully in 2022 they are able to get back to having various food and beverage vendors on-site after the race, ESPECIALLY Fitz's!


University City's beautiful city hall





Monday, February 22, 2021

LoveStruck Run Indy Virtual 5k

I'm going to be honest.  I signed up for this race because of the sweet SWAG!  In the virtual race era that has absolutely exploded due to Covid, I find that signing up for virtual races fuels my motivation to run consistently.  Pre-Covid, I would sign up for races based on the location more than anything.  Since I choose to only run virtual races until I am fully vaccinated, the location of the virtual races is always here in St. Louis County, although I may drive across the river to St. Charles County from time to time for a little variety.  There are no runcations right now, so the SWAG matters more now than ever before!  

This particular race was put on by a company called Racemaker Productions, based just outside of Indianapolis in Plainfield. In 2014 I ran their Litchfield Route 66 Half Marathon in Litchfield, Illinois and ABSOLUTELY loved it!  I have followed them on social media for years now so when they posted pictures of their SWAG options for the LoveStruck 5k, I immediately fell in love!  I'm guessing that was their intent....

They offered two colors of the hoodie, a sweet medal, and a customizable race bib that is color-coded to the relationship status that you selected. 

Their in-person race took place in downtown Indianapolis on February 13th.  Virtual runners complete the 5k anytime between February 13 and 28th.  My intent is always to run virtual races outdoors but the St. Louis area was hit with a snowstorm on February 14th and temperatures stayed WELL below freezing for several days afterwards, so I opted for completing the mileage on a treadmill on February 16th.  So although the scenery was limited to watching traffic attempting to drive in the slushy remains of the snowstorm, I can honestly say that I would not have been motivated to run a 5k that day had I not had a virtual race to complete.


Those who know me (or read my blog regularly) know that I consider it bad luck to wear the race shirt (or even wash it) before completing the distance.  So as soon as I completed the virtual 5k on February 16th, I laid out the SWAG to take a few pictures before washing the hoodie.  My cat had to get in on the photo shoot as you can see below.  I also opted for the blue hoodie because I rarely wear pink.



Both the hoodie and the medal have the Indianapolis skyline in the background.  The back of the medal has the name of the race engraved on it and it is reflective, hence my cat admiring her reflection. If you've never visited Indianapolis, you have to find a reason to check it out! You can read more about why I love visiting Indianapolis in my 2014 One America 500 Mini Marathon race recap or my 2014 Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon recap.  I can't wait to visit Indy again, but I will try to schedule my next visit around a race of course!



 
You still have time to complete the virtual 5k and you can find more information by clicking here. I also recommend checking out Racemaker Productions Facebook page and their event calendar for upcoming race.  I'm really excited to see what they will do next!

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

MO' Cowbell Single Chuck Challenge - Half Marathon #54

On a cold Christmas Eve morning in St. Louis, my runner friend and I finally completed the Single Chuck Challenge for the MO' Cowbell Virtual Half Marathon.  Since summer we had trained and were working our way up to running at least 10 of the 13.1 miles, if we couldn't run the entire distance.  We were on track and had a great eight mile run on November 7th, but soon after that our training got derailed due to a couple Covid scares and crazy work schedules.  The rest of November and the 1st half of December, we hardly ran at all.  Since our training had completely derailed, we settled for walking the entire 13.1 miles.  

Once we saw the forecast for Christmas Eve we knew that despite the cold, the weather was otherwise beautiful and sunny.  My friend asked me how long I thought a walking half marathon would take and in my experience as a race sweeper, I told her four hours.  We finished just under that, around the 3:52:00 mark.

Our finish time

Our course was beautiful and almost completely clear of any other humans, partially due to the holiday and partially due to the bitter cold.  We started at Longview Farm Park in Town & Country, walked several loops through Drace Park, down Bopp Road where we felt tiny as we walked by mansions, and then repeated the same course back to Longview Farm Park.

Drace Park along the course in Town & Country


We even passed several holly bushes along the course, which made the race feel more festive. 

Holly along the course

As we got back to Longview Farm Park to finish the 13.1, we were cold but we were not sore.  We were the only two cars in the parking lot when we left, which was a completely different view from when we started training together this summer.  We had picked up our race SWAG back in October and normally I refuse to wear race SWAG until I complete the race, but I've actually been using this year's race SWAG ever since packet pick-up.  I wear hats much more often now since I primarily work from home in the Covid-era and I LOVE the face mask because it is perfect for workouts.  I actually wore my MO' Cowbell face mask during the entire virtual half marathon not only for safety, but also because it protected my face from the bitter cold!

Single Chuck Challenge SWAG

Normally my runner friend and I volunteer on race weekend, so it was nice to be a participant again this year.  Be sure to stay tuned to the MO' Cowbell Marathon website to see what they have in store for 2021.


See you next year!

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Virtual Stranger Distances 6.7 Mile Race

Although there have been a couple in-person races in the St. Louis area, I still just prefer virtual races for now.  Due to Covid, the race market is suddenly flooded with virtual races so when I received an email about a virtual race with unusual distance options, I just knew that I had to sign up.  The race was called "Stranger Distances" and it offered a 3.2 mile, 6.7 mile, and an 11.11 mile option that was offered through an organization called All Community Events.  My friend and I have slowly been building our mileage since this summer so although I wanted to sign up for the 11.11 mile option, I decided that the 6.7 mile option was much more attainable.  

Once you registered, you had up until Halloween to complete your selected mileage.  I selected a random weekend with warm weather to run the 6.7 miles with my friend.  We didn't do anything special to prepare other than setting our long run goal for 6.7 miles that day.  We started the race from a gorgeous park in Town and Country, MO called Longview Farm Park.  It connects to a wide asphalt path that runs along Clayton Road and connects to several other parks.  Since I have never run this distance before, our finish time was definitely a PR for both of us.  We actually completed the race on October 10 and then a week or so later, the race shirt arrived.  For this race, I opted not to pay the extra $10 (I think) for a medal and the bib was emailed to you to print at home.  What I like about the shirt is that it is long sleeve, so it will be perfect to wear this fall and winter on my long runs.

Below are some pictures from the Stranger Distance 6.7 Mile race


Beautiful Fall Colors

Race shirt and printable bib were included in the registration fee


Sunday, September 20, 2020

Will Run for Coffee Virtual 5k

This weekend I ran the Will Run for Coffee Virtual 5k through virtualrun.com.  This is the first virtual race that I have participated in through this company, but I have been following them on social media for a while.  I registered for this particular 5k due to the medal and obviously by the name of my blog, I am all about medals!

I run regularly with a former co-worker and since we ran another virtual 5k together at Tiemeyer Park, we chose a different park for this virtual 5k.  With this race being coffee-themed, I also decided that I would celebrate finishing this virtual 5k with a fancy coffee from Deer Creek Coffee.

We started the race in Town and Country, MO at a park called Longview Farm.  It is a beautiful park with wide paths, multiple loop options, a barn, and horses.  More importantly though, it connects to a wide trail along Clayton Road.  We started and ended our 5k at the park, but mainly ran along the Clayton Road path.  We also ran through another Town and Country park called Drace Park.  It has a small paved loop but it also has several log cabins along the path, which makes it very unique.  We are still using the Galloway Method, so our intervals were set to run two minutes and then walk one minute.  I'm happy with our overall paced and we ended up finishing in 44:16.  


After cool down and stretching I placed my pick-up order from Deer Creek Coffee, which is in the opposite direction on Clayton Road.  Sure enough, my Cadbury Creme Latte was ready for me when I arrived and it was delicious!











I love this medal and how it is designed to not just hang on your medal rack (or in my case, the closet), it can actually be used as a coaster.  I'll be sure to keep an eye out for other unique medals from virtualrun.com.

Happy running!

Sunday, July 12, 2020

I'm back and slower than ever!

Back in January, I started talking to my mother about where we would go for our mother-daughter race-cation this year.  We had tentatively chosen a June race in Kansas City until I received an email about the Baltimore Running Festival celebrating their 20th anniversary .  My very first half marathon in 2009 was at the Baltimore Running Festival and I had wanted to run it again in 2019 to celebrate my ten years of running, but I couldn't make it happen due to my lack of training and my crazy schedule.  I thought going back to Baltimore to run a half marathon for their 20th anniversary, staying in the same hotel in the Inner Harbor, and eating amazing seafood sounded amazing!  Then COVID-19 hit and the world changed.  We canceled our Baltimore hotel back in March and luckily I had not registered for the half marathon yet. I started working from home and since my commute became non-existent, I was able to walk every morning before starting my work day.  Walking at least a 5k daily eventually led to the need for a new pair of Brooks Adrenalines, which made me want to run again. 

In 2019 I completely walked the two half marathons that I finished and I did not register for any races after June last year.  I had gotten so slow due to weight gain and I wasn't motivated to train for a race of any distance.  But something this spring re-energized me.  I was getting motivated by all the miles I was walking and I kept wanting to walk longer every day or even multiple times a day.  With most races being converted to a virtual format I started looking at virtual 5k's, but I knew that I needed to take the time to properly train this time.  I ended up downloading a Couch to 5k training app and LOVED it, but it stopped working about four weeks in.  I Googled similar plans and just chose one that I liked and would end the week of Independence Day. My goal was was the virtual America's Birthday 5k, which is normally held in downtown St. Louis on Independence Day before the parade.  

Training started off well and the weeks flew by.  When my Couch to 5k app stopped working I could have made that an excuse to quit too, but I had re-fallen in love with running by that point so I found a new plan to follow thanks to Google. We had an amazing Spring in Missouri this year, but the temperature and humidity jumped up in June and has only been going up since.  I HATE running in the summer heat and humidity.  I just wilt in the heat and if I don't start running before 7 a.m., I just won't run outdoors that day.  My body just won't let me do it.  I will still go for a walk, but my body just hates running in that environment.  But just as the temperature and humidity were going up, the gym in our complex finally re-opened by appointment only.  I suddenly found that I really enjoyed running on the treadmill and wished that I had my own so that I could run longer than a one-hour appointment allowed me.  So by the end of June, I was consistently running outdoors or indoors between three and five days per week!

As Independence Day weekend approached, we had a socially distanced department lunch at a co-workers house.  Her house was adjacent to a park in St. Ann, MO.  Before that lunch I had no idea where I was going to run my virtual 5k but as I left her house, I texted another co-worker to see if she would want to run a 5k with me at that park on Friday, July 3.  It had been a while since I had run with that co-worker (we had run the University City Memorial Day 10k in 2019 together but I didn't blog about it), but she immediately agreed to meet me at 7 a.m. to try to beat he heat.  

With the America's Birthday 5k going virtual, you had from July 1st - July 7th to complete your 5k.  Technically I completed two: one indoors on a treadmill and one with my co-worker, outdoors on July 3rd. I wanted to see what the time difference would be when you factored in real hills, heat, humidity, and socializing. To my surprise, there was not a major difference between the two.

I completely ran my indoor treadmill 5k at a fairly slow and comfortable pace, and I did add some rolling hills for a finish time of 42:49, which averages out to a 13:47 pace. 

Treadmill 5k


For my outdoor 5k, I alternated between jogging and walking with my co-worker.  The park had rolling hills and it was HOT and humid that morning.  Our finish time was 44:40 for an overall pace of 14:25.  I was surprised that there was not more of a difference since we walked quite a bit, but we must have been running at a faster pace than I usually run on the treadmill to make up for that time.   



After our 5k, we walked another mile to cool down and explore other areas of the park.  The park was really a hidden gem with several water features, beautiful landscaping, several paved paths, plenty of parking, and it was very quiet that morning and not packed with people.





I also brought my virtual bib and medal along to take a picture of in the park post-race:



The race director sent out several emails leading up to the race so that participants would stay motivated and know how to submit their results.  I'm really glad that I found this virtual 5k to complete my Couch to 5k training and I am so glad that I pulled in a co-worker to run with me at the last minute.  I am certain that my outdoor 5k time would have been even slower had she not been there with me!  Even though both my indoor and outdoor finish times were slow, I am now able to see where my current fitness level is and then hopefully improve and stay motivated going forward.

So I am slower than ever, but I am finally back running again!!!


Sunday, August 18, 2019

When you decide NOT to run a race, volunteer instead!

I haven't posted in a while because I was holding out for a training update post, but my half marathon training hasn't quite been going as planned.  As a result, I made the difficult decision to NOT run any half marathons this fall and volunteer at the races I had planned to run instead.  This fall and winter I plan to focus on increasing my strength and flexibility and hopefully get closer to the level of fitness I had in 2014 when I ran my last marathon and before I experienced several years of injuries.

So now the plan is to volunteer at the MO' Cowbell expo and on race day.  I think it will be hard being absent from the start line with the other MO' Bassadors and runners, but I am really looking forward to seeing race day from a totally different perspective.

I hope to see you on race day!