I rocked & rolled through Philadelphia!!

Is there a better way to spend your birthday weekend than racing, exploring a new city, seeing an old friend, meeting online folks and setting a shiny PR?? NOPE!

Well not in my book. ;)

I arrived in Philadelphia on Friday, September 13th and had a great time walking around a bit with my friend Joann, who I've known since 7th grade (I'm 31). We hit a few local establishments before calling it an early night.

One of the best ways to explore a city - in my opinion - is on foot so I headed out bright and early Saturday morning (September 14th) for a little shakeout run before the following day's half marathon.

It was beautiful. Joann lives right by an entrance to the bike path so I hopped on and just let the legs lead me. I was planning on just running 2 miles, but I had something I wanted to see over a certain bend so I just kept running. I honestly wanted to keep going, but had to bring myself back to reality knowing I had a race the next day.

Thankfully Joann doesn't mind walking and Philly is a wonderfully walkable city so instead of driving or taking a bus or taking a train, we walked from her apartment to the Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Expo. It was a great way to hit some of the "must sees" of Philadelphia and the weather was beautiful!

Rocky and I conquering our dreams!!

I couldn't ask for a prettier day to explore a new city!

LOVE - wish my wife had been with me so we could've taken a cheesy photo together

We had such a great time walking and talking that before I knew it we had finally made it to the Expo.

After picking up my bib...

I made sure that one of my first stops was to the KT Tape booth to get my knee all taped up for the following day then it was time to see my favorite people: Got Chocolate Milk & Team Refuel.

Should I host my own radio show? ;)

Joann and I wandered around the Expo, trying out some free samples, running into familiar faces from Boston (yay Kelsey) and making sure I nabbed a sweet pic in front of the green screen.

I should wear these glasses all the time, right?

Following the Expo we hit up the famous Reading Market and continued our sightseeing/trek back to her apartment. We saw almost all historic landmarks Philadelphia had to offer as well as some of the most historic taverns. Balance, right? ;)

We had a lowkey/chill dinner before I called it an early night. I had an early wakeup call with the race.

Joann was gone, but thankfully she had a full length mirror so I could still do my pre-race selfie. Important or the race won't happen. :P

I got myself ready nice and early so I could hit up Dunkin Donuts first (hello coffee) and give myself plenty of time to get lost walking to the Start - just in case.

I did love the art on the walls of a certain bridge underpass as I walked to the Start.

It gave me something to think about as I ran later.

Thanks to Got Chocolate Milk & Team Refuel I was able to hang out in the VIP tent prior to the race and meet up with some of my teammates.

The wonderful Erika & Angela

The VIP tent was sah-weet. They had snacks, a special bag claim as well as Elite athletes all over the place. I felt extremely out of place, but had a great time sitting and chatting with my teammates. It was also nice to have a special area with bag claim and port-o-potties to use before heading to the Start Line.

Apparently I was too busy chatting, having my pre-race KIND Bar and Energybits and using the bathroom to realize I was cutting it close to the Start.

I had to hightail it over to Corral 4 and made it pretty much just in time.

Before the race started, I tried to tell myself to just take it easy. I was trying to use the race as a simple long training run. BUT I was also told that Philly was one of the flatest courses around and a great place to PR.

My mind and body were torn. Once the Start gun went off I said I would listen to my body. And no matter what enjoy the run.

And from the get go I had to pee again. I had to talk with myself of when to stop and use the port-o-potty or skip it. I also was sad to know I had zero people watching me along the course. I get sad when I don't have even one spectator I know personally.

But as I turned the corner (around Mile 2 I believe), there was a smiling face I was happy to see. The one and only Mission Meltdown (aka Dre). We know each other through blogging. He has one amazing infectious smile. I was BEYOND happy to see him. Plus he snapped this pretty sweet action shot.

I used his energy and love to push through the rest of the race.

I decided to hit a port-o-potty before the 5k mark and I was happy I did. Short line so the whole experience took under 45 seconds.

Once I left that spot, I was golden the rest of the race.

I just kept trying to enjoy the scenery around me and take in the experience. I actually was around the same few people the whole race so I made it my mission to try and stay with them or ahead of them for the rest of the race. Sometimes during long races you need to play games with yourself to distract yourself from the time.

I also was using a pacing bracelet for the first time ever. I picked the 1:45 bracelet out of the bin at the Expo. My previous PR was 1:44:30 so I thought having the bracelet might be a nice experiment to see how well I did.

It actually helped me make up time after the bathroom stop. :)

Philly is legit flat/downhill folks. We kept going down and down and I thought to myself at some point we HAVE to hit a large hill, yet we didn't.

I was making glorious time and my body felt awesome.

It was around Mile 7 that I realized. I might hit a PR if I play my cards right, but if I miss it - it will all be because of my darn bladder. :O)

I was cruising along listening to the convos of the folks around me when I came across a Rock 'n' Roll and Team Refuel legend - George (probably during Mile 8). We were online friends, but had never met in person. All of a sudden he came up next to me. It was great to have someone to chat with for a couple minutes - especially someone you have been wanting to meet in person for awhile now.

Every time I hit a Mile Marker, I checked my Garmin and checked my 1:45 pace bracelet. I was on my mark of trying to stay at least 30 seconds ahead of the pace band.

As we hit Mile 10, I just told myself "You just have a 5k to go - kick it up a notch." I tried to give it everything I had. I wanted a PR so bad I could taste it.

I tried to just focus on passing people - it takes my mind off the PR - and keep myself strong.

We were still on a slight decline, which confused the heck out of me. If you go down, at some point you have to come back up ... except in Philly. :P

As we passed the 12 mile mark, I ended up near someone running in jorts (jean shorts). I COULDN'T have this person beat me so I had to et in front of him.

I saw the Mile 13 mark and the road finally started to have an incline.

Of course!

Of course it would incline during the last tenth of a mile.

But I dug deep and gave it everything I had.

I crossed the line, grabbed my medal, took my post-race photo and finally looked at my Garmin. Unofficial time of 1:44:08 ... a freakin' PR!!! Ahhh!! Even with a 45 second port-o-potty stop.

I headed over to see my peeps at the Got Chocolate Milk tent ... I needed my sweet sweet After of chocolate milk.

I even got to snap a pic with George after he finished.

Love his hair! :)

After chatting with Lindsey from Got Chocolate Milk, it was time to head to the medal engraving tent and get my medal engraved. It is totally worth the $20 to me. I do it at each Rock 'n' Roll event. Why do it onsite? Well if they mess it up, they have a whole box of medals sitting next to them where they can redo it. You wouldn't get that if you waited til you got home.

The man told me I had an official finish time of 1:44:12. Still a PR by 18 seconds! :) Hell yeah! I jumped up and down!

Oh I'm sorry, does that say SUB 8 min/mile pace for a freakin' half. Yes it does. Whhaaa??? Me. Lil 'ol me. It is CRAZY what my body can do now. I am loving every moment of this adventure.

After my medal was all snazzy, it was time to head back to the VIP tent and wait for my Refuel teammates. The one thing I dislike about the RnR events is their post-race beer choice - Michelob Ultra. I just don't like wasting calories/Points on that beer. I have specific beer taste. ;)

BUT, when I went into the VIP tent, there were mimosas. Oh yes I will have one of those ... thanks!

I LOVED the medal and really needed to thank Team Refuel for the chance to run this race.

I added my own sparkle thanks to this Sparkle Athletic skirt.

As I was enjoying my mimosas and snacks (mmm bacon), other teammates starting trickling in. It is just such a treat to meet these online friends in real life.

What a great crew! Thanks Angela for the pics!!

This was a great great race. It really is one of the flatest courses I have ever run on. It was scenic. The bands along the way were rockin'! The volunteers were energetic. And the crowd - as always - was lively!!

Would I recommend this race? For sure!

After hanging with the crew for awhile, it was time to head back to Joann's house, grab a shower and hit up lunch with Joann. Sunday afternoon we finished up some touristy stuff, but called it a night early. Ordered in some sushi for a pre-birthday dinner and watched a movie at her place.

A lovely end to a lovely day as I had an early wakeup call the next day to head home. Yes I got to travel on my birthday. :P

Overall, it was one truly amazing weekend. I was surrounded by so much love, earned a shiny PR and just enjoyed the experience. I am one lucky lady for the opportunities I have received.

Until next time Philadelphia...

Half Of Quincy - 5/5/13 - PR 1:44:30 (7:59 min/mile)

Cancelled. Sad.



The Half of Quincy was originally slated for March 10 - a perfect training run to prep for The Boston Marathon.

Then the snow hit and it was postponed.

The announced make-up date was May 5. About three weeks after the Marathon.

I could've deferred to next year ... but why bother!

I thought it would be a great way to test my legs after the Marathon.

So I decided to run it on May 5 as planned.

My wife and dad were going to come along once again to spectate. It would be the first race both would spectate since being a mere 20 feet from the explosion on Marathon Monday.

This race would be a big race for all of us!

The alarm went off at 6am on Sunday (Happy Cinco De Mayo!) and we went through the normal pre-race motions.

We were out the door by 6:45 - after I had to search around the house to locate my Team REFUEL singlet.

That is what I get for not prepping all race materials the night before!

As always I made us leave the house with plenty of time to spare since we had to find parking and pick up my bib before the 8am start.

After finding street parking, we headed into Quincy High gym to pick up my bib.

The woman handing out the bibs actually reads my blog!! (YAY)

(Note: I wish I had gotten her name so I could say thank you properly!)

It was also nice running into some Racemenu teammates as well as some Twitter friends/bloggers that I was finally able to meet in real life.

I stopped by the ENERGYBits table to say hi and pilfer some water so I could actually take my ENERGYBits before the run. Thanks again guys for coming through in a pinch. :)

Now that I was #PoweredByBits it was time to head to the Start Line.

I went into this race with ZERO expectations. Okay not zero - the only one was to finish in under 2 hours. I had no idea what the body was going to be capable of and I didn't know the course whatsoever. So we set the expectations low. :)

It was amazing to be surrounded by so much blue/yellow from The Boston Marathon. You could see how many people also had originally slated this as a training run for the Big Day.

Before I knew it it was time to start. I actually found another Racemenu team member, Nancy, just after we crossed the Start Line. It was nice to see her since I knew she ran the Marathon as well.

It's funny that now the first question you ask a person that said they ran Boston this year is: "Did you get to Finish?" or "Where did you get stopped?" Thankfully Nancy was able to Finish before the explosions as well!

Neither of us knew the course, but a guy running by us let us know there would be  some hills on the course. This was a different course than in previous years, but there would still be hills involved.

Oh yay!


Just like during the 26.2 Challenge, I started out fast. I was going sub 8-minute miles for the first 5 miles or so. I tried to reel my body back in. I had to remind myself that this was a 13.1 mile race not 5 or 6 miles. Sometimes I think my body forgets.

We actually looped back near the Start/Finish and at the Mile Four marker were my dad and wife. It was nice to see there smiling faces. It gave me the little push I needed.

But as I hit the halfway mark of the Half, I realized I was well ahead of pace for a PR.


All race long I knew I had to be sub 8:15 min/mile pace for a new shiny PR.

And I was well ahead of that.

I even felt like a real runner during the race. I was buckling down, pushing myself up the hills and only went about 10-15 seconds slower when going up the hill. And made the time up on the flat.

This is something many of my fast friends do so I really felt like maybe I am becoming a better and stronger runner. Instead of always feeling like a poser. :P

By the time we hit Mile 10, the heel pain that magically showed up in the Marathon around Mile 15 flared up again. But I knew this time I only had to push through a few more miles.

But, did I mention they were the hilliest few miles of the course? Yeah, exactly.

I want to give a quick shout out to the great spectators along the course - especially the little kids giving away twizzlers near Mile 10. It's like they knew how much we all needed that little sugar rush. :)

Once I hit Mile 11.1, I texted my wife to let her know where I was so that they would be in place at the Finish. Then I yelled out of profanities at the Hills and the foot pain. Oops! Thankfully no little kids were around.

The pain was there, but not unbearable. So I dug deep and ran all out to the Finish once I hit Mile 12.

The last 1/4 of a mile was actually around the Quincy High track, which was sort of frustrating because you could see the Finish, but it felt like it was miles away. At least for me.

I was trying to distract myself by doing math in my head to see if I could break the elusive 1:45 half time I had dreamed out.

My previous PR was 1:48:09 set at Disney in January.

I saw my wife & dad cheering just before I crossed the line, hit stop on my Garmin, grabbed my medal and chugged water as quickly as possible.

The Garmin read: 1:44:27.

SAY WWHHAAA??!?!?!?!

Was that real? Maybe I missed some time or it had a glitch.


I officially finished the race in 1:44:30 - a 7:59 min/mile pace.



I had to triple check the results to make sure 1) they were legit and 2) they were actually MINE.

But, they were!

I finished 193rd out of 672 overall and 18th out of 127 in my division (F 30-39). CRAY CRAY!

I give big props to the Half of Quincy organizers who basically had to set up 2 races due to the postponement. The course was full of police and volunteers stopping traffic and giving encouragement along the way. It was one of the best organized races on the course itself that I've participated in. I didn't have any "nearly getting hit by a car" instances.

I didn't get to try any of the post-race fare because I had to jet home, but everyone was raving about the spread. No beer though - so a negative in my book. ;)

I ran into Liana from Run To Munch at the results board and was able to offer her a ride home and get to chat with her a little about her running career.

Once we got home I was finally able to enjoy #myafter of a big glass of chocolate milk.

But, you also know I needed a celebratory beer so I took care of it myself by enjoying a Slumbrew Naked Hopularity!

Also please excuse the really unflattering photo of me


Overall, this was one amazing race day. I still can't believe what my body is now capable and I can't wait to see what the future has in store for me.

Next up ... M.O.M.'s Run 5k on Mother's Day (May 12)!

WDW Half Marathon - 1/12/13 - 1:48:09 (8:15 min/mile)

Boy does 2am really creep up on a person!!

Even when you DO go to bed at 7:15pm the night before.

But that first 2am alarm went off and I SHOT out of bed.

Maybe it was excitement ... maybe it was adrenaline ... maybe it was that I was scared shitless I would miss the bus thus missing the start of the race thus missing the race itself.

Yes I was freaked out by past participants' blog posts about crowds that I made sure our butts would be on the first bus out of our hotel come hell or high water!

So I was out of bed and prepping quickly. I was looking forward to this day for so long.

I rarely dress up for races (more than just the fun knee socks I wear) so this was out of my usual realm, but I was excited for it. I was loving how the Jessie from Toy Story costume had turned out and couldn't wait to see what spectators thought too!

I was ready! Needless to say the wife wasn't moving quite as quickly or as happily as I was ... she was none too pleased with the start time. :P

We headed out of the hotel room by 2:45am and as we turned the corner to the bus stop saw 7 completely empty busses sitting there with 0 people waiting to get on them.

Oops! :P

Well at least we guaranteed we would get to the Start area on time and we would get a seat. :)

As we sat on the bus, I was posting pictures, tweeting, etc and all of a sudden my phone rang - it was Suzi Storm. She didn't believe I was actually up and en route to a race so she needed actual proof ... my voice. :) It was nice to chat with her and maybe that chat played in to my awesome race - maybe it now needs to be a pre-race tradition. Suzi, thoughts? ;)

We idled for awhile while more runners loaded on to the bus. Yet as runner after runner got on the bus not that many were dressed up and for some reason this worried me. Like I would end up being the only person dressed up, which in the deep part of my head I knew was incorrect. It still had me freaked for a minute until a couple Tinkerbells got on the bus and I felt more at ease.

The busses rolled out and we were off to the Start area, which was set up in the Epcot parking lot. The busses dropped us off and we all made the trek over to the party area with the usual bathrooms, bag check, port-o-potties, etc.

It was amazing standing around and checking out the costumes people put together for the race. Talk about great people watching!

We hit up the port-o-potties and headed over to get a pic in front of the official 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon logo.

There was a DJ on hand as well as a camera catching some runners' sweet dance moves on the big screen. Oh watching some people try to Gangnam style never gets old. :P

As we did some laps around the Start area (since we were there so early :P ) checking out merchandise and just people watching, we spotted Sarge from Toy Story!!

He said: "It's my old friend Jessie. How are things around the toy chest?"

Awesome. :)

After snapping a pic with Sarge, we ran into Kat. Yes 23,000 runners and Kat finds us. Good work Lady!

Isn't she the cutest Piglet?

The organizers started asking everyone to get on the other side of Bag Check, which was the holding area before the walk to the Start Line. So we headed over there thinking we would then immediately head to the Start Line, but nope. We just all kind of stood around looking at each other for what felt like forever.

But, finally we got the go ahead to start the 20-something minute walk to the Start Line. Of course we hit the port-o-potties one final time before we did. :)

Thank you Disney for having PLENTY of port-o-potties that I barely had to wait in line even with 23,000 runners!

The walk was lengthy but the time passed by chatting with the wife and Kat and listening to the DJs along the way.

It was pitch black along the walk so I spent most of the time looking down at my feet since the last thing I wanted to do trip mere minutes before the race!

Then I saw it...

Blurriness means action shot :)

At this point, the three of us turned left towards Corrals A-E, while some kept straight for Corrals F-H.

Kat actually ended up being in my Corral so we bid the wife farewell at Corral C and headed to Corral A (yes still in shock at being in that location).

But it ended up being the best place for us to be!

Such a cool experience being up with the elite runners. They are amazing to be around.

And look how close we were to the Start Line!

I was finally able to meet Kelly from (@According2kelly), who I've been following for ages. She was running the Goofy with a friend dressed as Goofy. Great costumes by both (you can actually see her in right corner of pic above). She pointed out that Drew Carey was on the sidelines so Kat and I saddled over to snap a pic.

He was supposed to run, but got injured unfortunately.

We then tried to photobomb the interviews that were happening next to us in order to get on the jumbo screens set up near the corrals. Hoping that maybe the wife or a friend would notice us. :P But I don't think they did.

We then saw Carissa and her cohosts take the stage!

Sorry for the glare but Carissa is second from the right!

Kat actually knows Carissa so it was nice to finally meet her in person - even briefly - after following her online.

She rocked her interview with Joey Fatone ... again I tried to get my Jessie hat on the screen in the background as much as possible.

Thankfully having Kat with me really helped pass the time. :)

Because before we knew it it was time to send off the wheelchair runners, which meant we were up in 5 minutes!

Goofy, Donald and Mickey came out to count us down!

As the characters counted us down, I reminded myself I was there to have fun. I didn't care about the time or the pace or the finish. I just wanted to soak up the sights and sounds of Disney.

Then ... the fireworks went off and so was I!

It was 5:35am and freakin' dark!! Thankfully they brought in lights to help along the highway, but I still made sure to keep an eye on the ground since I had no desire to fall.

I was really impressed with the number of spectators that were lined up along the left side of the highway at that time of day.

I started out at my 5k pace and quickly had to slow myself down and remind myself that we were running 13.1 miles NOT 3.1. I was getting swept up with the other - faster - runners and I had to bring it on in.

There were marching bands and spectators all along the 5 mile stretch of highway AND the first character stop - Pirates Of The Caribbean!

It was at this moment that I decided I would stop at as many characters as I could. If there was a lengthy line then I would reconsider depending on the character.

But do you know what I found out? Most elite runners weren't there for pics with the characters so there was barely a line while I ran.

Yes I know this was EXTREMELY lucky compared to many of the runners in the later corrals who had much longer lines.

But I took advantage of my location and posed. Instead of fumbling with my iPhone, I just went with the professional photos and prayed they all came out afterwards.

All of this happened as we headed toward the opening of Magic Kingdom.

Not too shabby for an action shot

We were going to run right through the Magic Kingdom - how cool is that?

As we went through the parking lot near the test track, we got to see our first character stops!! YAY!

Chip And Dale

Nightmare Before Christmas

I had to stop and snap a pic of this awesome sign hanging above one of the overpasses as it read: "Quackin' Up Your Pace" But of course you can't see that part in my iPhone pic. Harumph!

Then we entered the park itself.

Spectators were amazing!! People lining the streets calling out "Hey It's Jessie" ... "Go Jessie Go" ... "Awesome costume Jessie" ...

It was amazing. I honestly felt like a Rock Star! I wanted to high-five every one of those people for how early they had to get up to be there.

All of a sudden there it was Main Street USA. I was running down Main Street USA towards THE CASTLE!!

I even saw Robin waiting to cheer on her husband while I was running!!

We were only in the Magic Kingdom itself for maybe a couple miles but it was amazing.

Best part? Besides all of the character photos of course.

Running THROUGH yes THROUGH the Castle was out of this world!

Can you still believe how dark it was?

After we left the Magic Kingdom it was a lot of highway time as we headed back towards Epcot for the Finish. I wasn't prepared for so much highway time so I was a little disappointed on that, but of course it is to be expected with how far the parks are from each other.

But Disney did a great job of loading the course with characters!!

Check out the rest of my in-race photos here:

As we approached Mile 10, I started to realize that my time and pace was faster than I had anticipated. The whole race I felt as if I was just sprinting to the next character rather than running a Half. We can maybe call it lengthy interval training?

There was a little loop/turnaround to point us towards the Epcot parking lot/entrance just before Mile 11 and there were some announcers there yelling out where people were from so I proudly shouted "Boston" before someone behind me yelled "Mars." Okay not taking it seriously. :P

But as I hit the Mile 11 marker, I realized I could PR. I had to do some calculations in my head, which always help to pass the time, and figured that I might just do it. It would be close, but if I put the pedal to the metal I could do it.

So I just let loose. I skipped the final 2 character spots, which was okay because it was Stitch (I had already gotten one with Lilo) and Phineas and Ferb (who I got the day before).

I gave it all I had in that home stretch. I think you can easily figure that out in the pictures below:

All that was going through my head was keep moving forward! People had started to slow. It had started to get warmer. There were people walking. I just had to keep running.

Then it was there ... the Finish Line!

I had never been so happy to see because I KNEW I did it ... a PR! Which was great, but the real excitement was how much stinkin' FUN I had during that race.

You think I liked it?

Could you tell I was on my way to clicking of my Garmin Forerunner 110? ;)

Unofficial PR via my Garmin. Previous PR had been 1:48:16. I then awaited official results...

Catching my breath was #1 on the priority list after finishing.

#2 - grabbing this sweet medal of course!


#3 was heading to the medical tent to try and find out if they had cough drops since I couldn't get the darn cough to stop. Interesting fact - they had none. I just started downing water to see if that would help.

(Lesson it turned into bronchitis by the time I got home)

I was able to spot my parents at the Finish Line before heading to grab my professional Finish Photo and much needed FOOD!!

Yeah this is why I don't normally run in cotton shirts - ew!

I made my way back to my parents to hang with them while we waited to cheer on the wife to finish.

Before settling in with them to wait, I quickly headed over to have my medal engraved as a keepsake and on my way I ran into Robin (again!) :)

Thanks for snapping this pic Robin

We got the text that the wife finished in just over 3 hours (brutal brutal heat) so we headed towards the Finish Area to meet her. While waiting, I had to snap one last pic with the ears.

After meeting up with the wife, we headed over to the busses to head back to the hotel to shower, grab some breakfast and prepare for a day at the Magic Kingdom.

I made sure to include some low-fat chocolate milk as part of #myafter! It is one of the best ways I have found to Refuel after a grueling long run or race!


Thankfully my parents had the tracking so we had my information pretty quickly for the official time and I had gotten the PR by 7 seconds. HEY, a PR is a PR, right? :) I was pleasantly surprised since I was just hoping to finish sub 2 with all the stopping I had planned (and did) do!

The official official stats still shock me. I mean these numbers are really mine. Wow!


I wonder what the time would've been without the character stops!


OVERALL, this was one of the funnest races I have done.

Were there things I would change? Sure. I wish there was more time in the park itself. Maybe weaving through the different lands, etc. But I know logistically that would be tough.

So I think Disney knows what they are doing and pump up the time on the highway with marching bands, characters, DJs and FANS!!

Would I recommend this race to a friend? In a heartbeat because magic happened that morning and I want everyone to experience it!

See ya for the Goofy Challenge in 2015! :)