Stars & Stripes – the recap

Some people celebrate Independence Day with sparklers and hot dogs…and some of us prefer to dress up in sparkles and run races.  

I decided to run two this year and make my own 19.3 Challenge – the Stars & Stripes. Sure there was no bonus medal like at Disney, but it was still a totally awesome experience. 

It consisted of the Independence Half in Bristol, RI and the Finish at the 50 10k in Foxboro, MA. 

I’d never run Bristol before, but I totally would again. Despite it being insanely humid it was an absolute blast. 

The course is rolling hills and mostly water views and Bristol really goes all out for the 4th (events and a parade) so the town is draped in flags and bunting. Plus a lot of the route is within Colt State Park, one of my favorites places by the water and where I spent 12 hours last summer at the Anchor Down ultra. πŸ˜€

A lot of runners were all dressed up in red, white and blue and some really fun outfits. I was saving my really good one for the 10k, but still got into the spirit. 

Some highlights of my race:

  • Meeting a Facebook friend in person finally (hi Sarah!) and another member of my team runDisney fb group
  • Making it all the way up the longest hill to mile 8. It wasn’t steep but it took forever 
  • Finding the “Road Rage” sign
  • Taking a selfie with Potato Head Uncle Sam
  • Knowing that water on the back of your neck does more good than in your mouth. Lol 
  • Having the courage to walk at mile 10. (It was too humid. I couldn’t make myself slow down. So I knew I had to start the walk breaks)
  • Finding out later that despite taking those walk-breaks I was still sub 10:30 pace for those miles. 
  • Finding my fierce at the end – to rally and  run solid the last 1/3 of a mile. With one heck of a finishing kick!

Overall? I finished in just over 2:07. Not my best, not my worst. And I worked hard for that.  It’s been a long time since a half-marathon felt that hard. Sometimes, the reward is in the struggle. 

And I got a cool medal. πŸ˜€

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The Finish at the 50? That one I’ve run a few times before. 

It’s always hot. And I always wonder why I insist on running it. And then I remember…it’s all about the finish. I will never get tired of the chance to run through the inflatable helmet and out onto the field at Gillette Stadium. 

The whole day is like a giant party. They have a kids race, 5k and 10k. There’s a dj and people hang out before. Plus there are fireworks after the races, so you get a lot of spectators the last mile of the race. 

I headed over a couple hours early to meet up with some more members of my runDisney group.  Such a fun buncha people.  A couple of them were running the 5k so I got to watch them start and cheer on all the 5k runners (Trust me, no one is as enthusiastic as a spectator as another runner. Lol) before getting ready for the 10k.  

And there were a lot of 5k runners! Love seeing everyone dressed up and patriotic. 

Me? I went with Wonder Woman. Which was a huge hit with the spectators. 

Hanging out with my group before the race the question came up of goal times.  And as I had hoped to do okay but not great  (it was 80 – and heat is not my friend) I laughed that the goal was to finish. And hopefully under 1:10. 

Another responded “you know how the Disney training plans say – use this one if you want to finish in the upright position?” That’s my goal. To finish in the upright position. Yes!! 😁

We lined up, and after the national anthem (yeah, watching a flag wave in the breeze on independence eve will get ya right there…) headed off. 

I started purposely easy. And spent the next 3 miles trying to hold myself back. 

I chatted with a few other runners here and there. 

I ran through a LOT of sprinklers (you foxboro residents are so awesome!). 

And I never looked at my watch. 

Just watched the mile signs pass by. And passed the people who dropped to walk. And suddenly knew that was my goal. 

That unlike Bristol where I couldn’t go slow enough to not walk, I was going to run easy enough to not need to. Wonder Woman doesn’t walk. 

Suddenly mile 4 clicked by and I was having fun. And then we turned to see the stadium in front of us. Knowing we hadn’t hit mile 5 yet it felt like a joke…so close and yet so far. 

And at mile 5, there was an ugly hill. And I think I passed 7 people on it.  And I grinned at the cheers. Because Wonder Woman never gives up. 

 As we looped through the parking lot of tailgaters I high fived SO many kids I lost count. I couldn’t stop smiling.  

Finally, we headed to the stadium. And down the ramps to the lowest level.  Just before we entered, I spotted the first of the photographers. And picked up the pace. 

(Note:The next photos to follow – credit to Capstone. I will be buying them, but snagged these watermarked versions for the blog…)


And entering the stadium, let out a cheer 

I reached the middle, turned toward the finish line and watched for myself on the big screen (this is the first year I’ve actually seen it!!!!)

I heard my name announced as I approached the line (woohoo!) and sprinted across. 

Where I finally looked at my watch. 

A 1:01:34 finish. Sweet!!!! A fairly typical 10k time for me. Especially for this race.  And way better than I expected. 

So feeling like a total rockstar I got in the line for a photo with Pat… who high fived me. 😁 it’s always good to impress a mascot. Lol 

That. Was. So. Much. Fun!!

Overall? I definitely enjoyed myself more at the 10k than the half. But I would run both again in a heartbeat. And even both the same weekend again. πŸ˜€β€πŸƒπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ

Hope everyone had a great 4th!! 

Road to Victory – Village Fair 5k race recap

β€œThe best pace is a suicide pace, and today looks like a good day to die.” – Pre

Saturday, was a good day to die. 

I’m not sure why I felt so insistent on running the Village Fair 5k in Walpole, MA on Saturday. I don’t run 5ks. I’m a marathoner who takes 3 miles to hit my stride. 

Maybe it’s because I just wanted to spend a morning in the company of other runners. Maybe it’s because there’s a definite charm to a small race. Or maybe it’s because I thought maybe I had a chance to finally place in my age group. 

But whatever it was, come Saturday morning I found myself on the lawn of a church in the middle of Walpole, grabbing my bib and ready to race. 

About to start my warmup I heard the DJ play “Try Everything” from Zootopia and as I sprinted across the parking lot I was singing along… I won’t give up, no I won’t give in, til I reach the end, then I’ll start again. And I smiled. 

This race, was mine to lose. And I was going to give it absolutely everything I had. πŸ˜€

So I hung by the start, watching the kid milers finish, and other runners stretch as I just shimmied to the music. That’s my favorite kind of warmup. 

And when all 80ish of us walked up to the start and no one seemed to want the front line, I took it.  Because when a race is gun-timed (not chip), every second counts. 

Then…as the air horn blew, I reached up to turn on my music (kickstart my heart to start…) and took off.  

And I mean TOOK OFF. Full out sprint that I knew I couldn’t maintain. But that I knew would level off to something I almost could. 

Because a 5k is no time for holding back. There’s no later miles to save it for. It’s truly a race. An all out, full on, sprint of a race. 

I ran hard, I let those faster than me pass, and I ran my own race.  

Of course, being passed by a guy pushing a stroller kinda hurt. And I turned and said to him “now THIS is kind of embarrassing” to which he laughed and replied “don’t worry, you’ll get me on the uphills”

And when my watch beeped mile 1, I dared a glance. And saw an 8:08 staring back at me. Hell yeah!!

I was also starting to breathe a little heavier than I should have been. (Where did this heat and sun come from?)  So while I told myself “it’s just 3 miles, it’s okay” I also saw the small hill leading into a small neighborhood loop and reigned myself in a little. 

As I saw the woman I had considered my competition stop and drink water and seem to struggle a bit I knew it was the right choice.  

I also told myself that when I came back out of the loop I’d do the same. 

And yet, when my watch beeped mile 2 a little before that water stop and it read 8:52, I knew I couldn’t chance it. Time for water could cut me out of a place-finish. 

So I pushed on, cruised the downhill and knew it was just a mile. I could do anything for a mile. 

Even climb Mount Everest. Because when we made a right turn, and I saw the hill, I was thinking “what is this? The Himalayas”? 

I knew it wasn’t a very long hill, but it was a very steep hill, that seemed to get progressively steeper towards the top.   But the woman standing there spectating, who yelled “Come on. Almost there. You got this!” Was just what I needed. Because I don’t like to walk hills. Especially in a 5k. And she was right, I did have this. 

Fortunately, after the top was downhill. A LOT of downhill.  Like almost all the way to the finish. 

Which was good, because I had maybe pushed a little too hard on that hill and spent the next two minutes dry heaving. Filled with both horror and amusement and the thought of hurling during a race. (After, sure. During, not so much.). But I got past it. 

And as the downhill continued and my legs took over, my brain went to the Steve Prefontaine quote I posted above. I was going to wring every last drop of everything out of me and leave on on that road. 

Somehow I surged. I could hear someone behind me, tho no idea how close. I just knew I was NOT going to be passed. And as people cheered and I was waved to the finish chute I gave it every last bit. And grinned when I saw the clock. 

It read 25:54. 

My second fastest 5k. 

One I hadn’t really trained for. One I ran 4 weeks after my second fastest marathon. And one that I still totally kicked asphalt at. 

As I walked over to where my hubs and my puppy sat. I gleefully told him my finish time. And that I KNEW I had to have placed. 

Because no one had passed me after about a half mile. And there was no way there were more than 2 women my age in that group. 

So we hung. And we waited. And I discovered my dog likes watermelon. And I chatted Disney with a couple other runners. And then…the results were posted. 

I walked over, waited for the crowd to part, took a deep breath, and found my name. And saw the #2 in front of it. And actually started jumping up and down. 😁😁😁😁😁

I ran back to the hubs and said “I got 2nd!!!!!!!” Finally…finally… for the first time ever, I placed my age group.  I mentioned it to another runner who high-fived me. Joy truly is contagious. 

And when they gave out the awards, and I shook the race director’s hand and accepted my medal, I was prouder of myself than perhaps ever. 

Because sure, finishing a marathon is totally badass, but finally placing in your age group after almost 10 years of running? Ranks higher. 

Like me…this medal may be little, but it is fierce. 

And I will treasure it always. πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸƒπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ₯ˆ