Dreaded Druid Hills Redux

Last Saturday, I ran the Dreaded Druid Hills 10K for the second year in a row.  For a recap of last year, click here.  This year, I wanted to run it again, especially since I was beginning to miss racing.

The hills were still dreaded.  Over the course of the race, there is a 123 feet climb. Seriously, absolutely crazy climbs.  Last year, I was too busy focused on getting up the hills to realize how twisty the hills are – there are some ridiculous spirals.

My focus was on finishing not on a PR.  I was glad for that as my time was 1:36 which was slower than last year.  One thing I didn’t do this year was wear my ProCompression socks.  A decision that I did regret later that day when my calves were on fire! From now on, I will #KeepItTight!

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Do you train on hills? How do you recover after a hot, sweaty run?

MNB Challenge Week 3–BELIEVE

This week was the final week in the Lorna Jane Active & Fit Approach Move Nourish Believe Challenge. It was quite timely that this week’s focus was BELIEVE and it was the week I celebrate my birthday! I tend to do some introspective looks at myself and some soul searching around this time of year so the challenges were helpful to me in doing so.

Monday, 2/17 – Spoil Yourself!

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As I like so many others had been trapped in the house for 4 days thanks to the polar vortex, I went to work on President’s Day rather than work from home again.  At lunchtime, I spoiled myself with a pedicure treat for my runner’s feet. After work, there was still a bit of sunshine so I took the opportunity to get in an afternoon run by myself with my music on loud.

Tuesday, 2/18 – 5 Mindful Minutes

Finding my zen usually includes daily prayer and meditation. Each morning, I try to stay in the moment as I pray to God for everyone in my life and for everyone whose life touches mine in any way. I try to keep everyone in prayer.

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Wednesday, 2/19 – Be Happy!

My happy place is not really a place but a space in my heart and mind of stillness.  However, in order to be happy, I have to be comfortable.  SOCKS are important to my comfort. I wore my Marine Wife socks because they are comfortable and make me happy. I also wore them because it was the opening day for registration for the Marine Corps 17.75K and I got in! Woohoo!

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Wednesday was my Birthday Eve! To celebrate, I met some friends at a club so we could see Black Alley perform live.  They are an awesome push the limits band whose sound is a fusion of funk, jazz, soul, and rock known as “Soul Garage.” Besides their own songs, they did an awesome cover of Pharrell’s song, Happy. How appropriate!

Thursday, 2/20 – Thankful Thursday – It’s my BIRTHDAY!

I am so thankful to be alive. Focusing on reasons why I was thankful all day was important to me.  One of the things I did was play the song Happy every hour in honor of my #24hoursofHappyBirthday! LOL! The video is literally 24 hours long. The version most people see splices together scenes from the extended version. I got a great run and workout in with my husband while my son was at school.  Then, I ran some errands and scored some cool boots with a gift card before heading out to a nice dinner with the family.

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Friday, 2/21 – Share the love!

Shout out to my #1 supporters/motivators – my husband and my son! If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have the strength some days to get out there and get my fitness on. There are days when I’m in a funk and my husband kicks me out of the house to make me go work out. My son is my biggest cheerleader. They both run with me at times.

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Maryland Road Runners’ Club Challenge – 2/23

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All of this believing culminated with me running my birthday with a 10-mile race today! Last year, I ran the Maryland Road Runners’ Club Challenge as my first 10 miles ever.  It was a tough race which left me with my first blister. This year I was ready for a comeback. I’m faster than I was then and have learned a lot about my abilities as a hysterrunner.  I finished much faster than my times at both this race and the Cherry Blossom last year in 2:18:35. I was aiming for 2:10:00 but my left knee has started to bother me lately so I walked more of the last mile than I planned.  Something that I am definitely going to have to invest in to make it through full training is a knee brace. I believe that I am ready for a full marathon this year.

Did you race this weekend? Did you take advantage of the break in the weather to get some outdoor exercise in? How did you BELIEVE in yourself this week?

13 Races-10 Medals

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Not every race I ran had a medal but aren’t these a great collection!

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Iron Girl + Frederick Half Marathons = Titanium Girl

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Frederick + Baltimore Half Marathons = Maryland Double

Do you like to run for medals?  If so, what is your favorite one? What do you do with your medals?

Best Race Weekend Ever–BRF 2013

I did it! On October 12, 2013, I ran the Baltimore Running Festival Half Marathon and completed the 13 races in 2013 challenge! I promised myself that I would celebrate my new lease in life by running 13 races, including my first half marathon.  I ended up running FOUR half marathons!

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What made the weekend awesome was not just the fact that I completed the race but that I got to run it with my run boos! Since it was a race in our own backyard, literally, we planned the weekend in a way to run well and recover well.  The girls met at my house at 7am to carpool downtown.  We were able to park at my job and walk over to campus.  The Dean had a special breakfast for all of the runners in his office where we had a great view of the start of the marathon, team relay, and 5K races.  The joy in this is that we got to use real bathrooms before heading down to the staging area for the half marathon.  A race without seeing a port-a-potty is a blessing for me!

On our way to the staging area, we stopped to cheer on the 5K runners on their way to the finish line.  There were quite a few Black Girls Run ladies out there.  It was great to show support to other runners even before we started.

The good and the bad of the start/staging area was that it was sandwiched between the turnaround point for the full marathon/ marathon relay route.  This meant ducking through runners already in the zone to get to our corral.  I was afraid that we would either get run over or throw someone off their game.  Neither would have been good.  The good thing about this start area was that once we were situated we could cheer on the runners while waiting for our corral to start. 

We started out together as a group with the knowledge that we would eventually split up to our own paces.  That being said, we all ended within a short time of each other.  Two of my girlfriends were running their first half marathons.  One of them like me is a hysterrunner who had run Iron Girl, Frederick, and now Baltimore.  So she too is now a Titanium Girl who completed the Maryland Double.  

BRF Collage

I may be biased but this half marathon was the best one out of the four I have run.  There was crowd support throughout the race not just in the start and end areas.  Baltimore is a city of neighborhoods and each neighborhood along the route had its own way of cheering and supporting us.  Because a part of the route runs around Lake Montebello and through our Twilight Tuesday route, it really was like running in our own backyard at one point! The great thing about this is that my two best friends stationed themselves to cheer at different points around the lake.  Then my husband and son were at the entrance/exit point. They ran with me from the lake for about a mile to coach  me on and keep me motivated.  Once they left me, the rest of the route really was all downhill.

The race food and fun afterwards was great.  But the thing that made this race weekend awesome is that afterwards we headed to the spa for ice baths and sauna time.  The day after I was sore but not as sore as I usually am.  Going to the spa after 13.1 miles was definitely one of my best ideas.

Have you had an awesome race weekend? How are you doing with your 2013 goals?

It’s RUNtober!!!

I woke up yesterday morning singing “it’s the most wonderful time of the year!”  It is one of my favorite months to run.  Last year, I spent most of the month of RUNtober on bed rest.  Not this year.  This month is going to be epic!  Why, you ask?  Because RUNtober is the start of Fall Running Season.  There are so many who have trained all summer for goal races in this month.  I’m one of them but before I tell you about that…

I ended September with Race #12. I ran the Run Wild for Autism 5K with my son through the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.  Last year, this race was the last one I ran before my hysterectomy.  I ran it in PAIN.  This year, I ran an 11 miler on Saturday as a part of my half marathon training.  So I just had the goal of finishing for the 5K.  Since this was more for my son than for me, we were both fine with that.

Here we are before the race. What you can’t see is that we both took advantage of the free Starbucks coffee before the race started.  My son also had a couple of donut holes from Dunkin Donuts.  Not the best pre-race meal but we actually had breakfast in the house before we got there.

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The race itself is simple with a few HILLS as the Zoo is in Druid Hill Park.  But, the majority of the race goes through the Zoo so you get to see it in a way that you don’t normally when you visit.  We ran past sleeping cheetahs and saw the penguins coming out of their home as they woke up.  Pretty cool.  The post-race activities are AWESOME and geared towards families, including of course those with autistic kids.  Zoo volunteers roam around the post-race area with live animals.  The best part as far as my son is concerned is that autistic families get to go to the zoo for FREE after the race.

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Now that you know how I ended September, let me tell you how I plan to celebrate RUNtober!  My goal race for this year – Race #13 of 2013 – is the Baltimore Running Festival Half Marathon on October 12th!  I am hoping to PR with this race.  My BRFs and I have been maintaining a 13 minute pace on our long slow runs.  Our ending strides have been in the 12 1/2 minute range so if we pull and push each other through I know a sub-three hour half marathon is possible for us.

Besides the half marathon, I plan to run 100 miles this month! I will be using the hashtag #RUNtober to document my runs on twitter (@doctornayaka) and dedicate my miles to end childhood obesity with the Saucony Run4Good app.  Feel free to do the same.  My crosstraining for September slipped a bit as I got my son settled and back to school.  Bikram Yoga and I are about to be reunited and it feels so good.

One more good thing about this awesome month – tonight I am going to meet my favorite Bad Ass Mother Runners – Sarah & Dimity!  I was featured on Another Mother Runner website in August.  It will be great to meet the brains behind the books and site in person.

How will you celebrate RUNtober?  Do you have a race planned this month? What do you like about Fall?

September Races #10 & #11

After not racing all summer and focusing more on training and fitness as a part of my scale-free summer, I have run two races so far this month — NFL Back to Football 5K Run on September 4th and Rock N Roll Philly Half Marathon on September 15th!  Running both of these races has definitely shown me that my speed is improving daily.

Race #10 – NFL Back to Football 5K Race – September 4, 2013

For those of you who don’t know, I am a crazy football mama and a member of the Ravens Nation!!!  This means that when I found out that there would be an NFL Back to Football Race which ended on the 50 yard line of M & T Stadium I knew I had to be there.  I was very excited when the Black Girls Run! Baltimore crew created a team for the race.  What’s better than running a race affiliated with football?  Running that race with 100+ of your running buddies!

The stadium is walking distance from my job so I was able to change at the office and walk down with plenty of time to hang out before the race.  It was like tailgating with a run thrown in.  Besides my BGR crew, I also ran into one of my twitter buddies – Meghan.

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This race was loads of fun! Even though I stopped a couple of times along the course to take pictures of the stadium, it was still a PR at 40:40!2013-09-04 19.49.00

Race #11 – Rock N Roll Philly Half Marathon – September 15, 2013

I have been looking forward to this race all summer.  Although my speed work &  training plan is focused on the Baltimore Running Festival in October, I was hoping that I would be fast enough by this “flat & fast” race course to PR.  This was also my first girls’ weekend race ever.  I got up early Saturday morning to take the bus to Philadelphia.  I was staying with my sorority sister and fellow runner for the weekend.  When she picked me up, we headed straight for the Expo at the Convention Center.

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I managed to stay within budget.  I scored some really cool earphones from Auria which hang on the ear and allow you to still hear ambient sounds.  I will be trying them out over my next few runs and reporting back to you on them.

When we left the Expo, we got mani-pedis and then headed back to the house for naps and hydrating.  I finally was able to do the least amount of running around the day before a long race.  A perfect pre-race day.

The next morning we were up early of course and rode along with another sorority sister to the race start.  After a quick stop in the Starbucks bathroom, we headed to the starting line.  I was assigned to corral 22 but in order to not be too far behind each other we all started in corral 14.  It was the first time I ever moved up from an assigned corral and will probably be my last.  I was overwhelmed by the faster runners when we took off.

I ran for about the first quarter mile then started my timer to do my 1:1 ratio of running and walking.  My Map My Run app clocked my first mile at 10 minutes which is really fast for me so I started to slow down.  Halfway through the race, my music turned on by itself and the app had me 2 miles ahead of what the mile actually was.  It turns out I had sweated into my phone case – oops! Because I didn’t realize that the app was malfunctioning until later in the race, I took a few extra walk breaks in the beginning to slow my pace down.  However, it turns out my pace was right and the app was wrong.

Good – The course through Philadelphia was beautiful.  It really was as advertised – “flat and fast.” The RnR team had inspirational signs throughout the course. There were bands and music.  There were also cheer leaders along the course encouraging us which was really cool.

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Bad – Some of the water stops were out of water and breaking down by the time we got there.  From what I heard from my BGR sisters who were in corrals further back, it was even worse for them.  The music was not spaced out well.  There was a lot in the downtown area but very spread out on the Eakin Loop.  Kudos to the lone drummer on the far side of the loop!

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Although I didn’t PR, I am proud of my time – 3:08 as it is definitely faster than my time at the Frederick Half Marathon in May.  After the race, we headed to 7-11 for coffee and took the train back to the house.  After a shower and change, we were all smiles as we picked up a well deserved chicken cheesesteak for the bus ride back to Baltimore.

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Have you run any races lately?  Drop me a line in the comments about your most recent run or race experience.

An Emotional Race 9 Recap–BWC

I have been trying to write this post since last week Monday, the day after the race.  However, every time I try to write this recap I remember the week after last year’s race.  It was the week I found out that I would need to have a hysterectomy.  Even now as I write this finally, I am having difficulty focusing on writing this year’s recap without thinking about last year.  I’m going to give this recap in mostly pictures as a result.

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Black Girls Run Group Picture in the Baltimore Times

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There were more than 400 of us running in this year’s Baltimore Women’s Classic 5K.  Truly, a takeover.

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Twilight Tuesday’s Hysterrunners! It was M’s first race!

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Being silly before the official group picture.

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Post-race smiles – I love my medal!

July Goals & Challenges

Today is also July 1st.  I have accepted the #ScaleFreeSummer challenge from Erika at Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss.  I weighed in yesterday and will not be getting back on the scale until July 31st.  I have been making good progress towards my fitness goals.  However, although I can see the progress in pictures, sometimes the scale does not feel like it’s moving fast enough.  Sometimes I get discouraged when I don’t see the difference in the scale.  For me, this challenge is a way for me to focus on my clean eating and fitness goals without worrying every few days about the scale.

As a part of my moving towards my fitness, I am doing the 30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge over at Simple Green Smoothies.  I’ve been incorporating smoothies into my diet pretty regularly. I hope to replace one meal a day with a green smoothie on my rest days and light exercise days.  On heavy training days, I will have a salad or light fare with my smoothie.

The second challenge I’m doing for this month is for my fitness.  As you know I’ve been slowly rebuilding my core strength.  Ab work with my BGR ladies and Bikram Yoga has been a big part of that.  I also have been struggling to regularly do upper body strength work.  I found this great July challenge on Pinterest which focuses on abs, legs, arms & cardio.

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I will be splitting these daily workouts up across the course of the day.  Most of it will be done in the morning before I wake up.  The other half after work around my workout schedule in addition to my running and yoga schedule.  Also instead of Bikram, I will be doing Vinyasa yoga for my crosstraining this summer.  Swimming, hiking, AquaZumba and other summer activities will also happen.  I’m loving my summer body that was built with running in the Winter and Spring.  However, I know that I will love it more once I focus on my fitness and not the scale.

Are you doing any challenges this month?  How do you keep up with your fitness goals during the summer?

Dreaded Druid Hills 10K = Race 8

I had the best running weekend ever! Races 8 & 9 were definitely two for the books.  It was the first weekend of the summer and I definitely seized the solstice!  So here is part one of my double race weekend recap.

Saturday, I ran the Dreaded Druid Hills 10K.  The race is marketed as:

A torturous race by runners for runners through Baltimore’s famed Druid Hill Park, beginning and ending at the Moorish Tower and traversing the most wicked hills to be found in the Baltimore Metropolitan Area.

Seriously, the race lived up to its hype in many ways.  However, I was determined to finish this race.  I even wore my Under Armour Women #IWill tank shirt to remind me of that fact.

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The race started at 7:30am which was before it was too warm.  I somehow missed the BGR picture.  However, I met up with one of my sole sisters, Darlene.  She wanted to run intervals with me so that she wouldn’t overtax her knees and not be able to run the BWC on Sunday.  The first mile of the race wasn’t too bad.  It took us in front of the Conservatory and towards the Maryland Zoo at Baltimore.  After that, it got funky.  We ran towards TV hill then behind the old zoo grounds to a section of the park which I never even knew existed.  We started climbing up hill and then ran downhill which was doable.  We were feeling challenged but ok at the 3 mile mark.  This is where the fun started.  We started running up a winding hill.  We’d get to what we thought was the top only for it to turn and keep going up.  It was absolutely sick!  The organizers had a warped sense of humor.  They had spray painted messages along the way up that hill.

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Then when we finally got to the other side of the crazy hill from hell, we had to turn around and go back the way we came! Absolutely nuts!  When we were done with that madness, we headed back through the grove to the zoo in a different direction.  That meant a different set of hills to the finish. 

The only other 10K I have run was in January.  It was my second race since becoming a hysterrunner.  I finished in 1:34 which was fine with me as it was a part of my slowly increasing mileage en route to my first half in April.  On most of my training runs, I come in at about the 1:30 mark or a little longer when I get to that distance.  Because of the crazy hills on this course, runners are warned not to expect to PR.  So I didn’t.  But I did!  I came in at 1:28.56!  I can’t imagine what my time would be if the course was flat!

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Tomorrow, I will post about my experience at the Baltimore Women’s Classic.

Did you race this weekend?  How do you feel about running hills?

Baltimore Ten Miler = Lucky Race #7

Last weekend, I ran my seventh race on my quest to run 13 races in 2013.  I ran the Baltimore Ten Miler.  Last year, when I was beginning my journey as a runner, I volunteered at a water stop at this race.  I remember being in awe at the ability of the runners to do 10 miles.  It was one week before my first 5K and I couldn’t even fathom running much further than that.  Fast forward to this year and I’m running the race.

I picked up my packet from Sports Authority on Monday before the race.  It was both the closest location and the only day I could pick it up as I was travelling the last half of the week.  I ran into one of my BGR Sole Sistas, Trish at packet pickup.  We both started with BGR on the same day – June 2, 2012.

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After a great run with Twilight Tuesday and dancing at the Kings of the Mic concert, the rest of the week was spent tapering and being a PhDiva at a symposium.  The only problem with travelling was not being in complete control of what I ate on Thursday and Friday.  Friday evening, my family stopped at Don Pablo’s for Mexican on our way back to Baltimore.  Carb loading but not too much.  I couldn’t resist the sangria.  It meant drinking a lot more water that evening to try to insure not getting dehydrated.  I laid out my clothes and made sure to be in bed before 10pm.

Flat Mama - 6/15/2013

On Saturday, I woke before the alarm, had my chia breakfast bowl, and headed to Druid Hill Park in more than enough time to pose for pictures with BGR.  The thing I loved about this race was that it runs through my part of the city.  The route goes from Druid Hill Park to Lake Montebello and back winding past Johns Hopkins University and Greenmount Avenue.

Before Pics:

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Even though I had run this distance before many times and had even trained on the course, this was not my best race.  Every long run I had done this Spring had been in cooler temps.  So my body wasn’t fully acclimated to warm weather running.  Add to that the fact that miles 8 & 9 are HILLY! You will understand that it was a hard race.  When I ran the route in cooler temps the Saturday before I finished in 2:15 which put me on pace for a PR.  However, the heat and the hills combined led me to finish in almost the exact same time as the Cherry Blossom on April 7th.

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I’m happy that I finished and that my time wasn’t worse.  I still have a few more races left in this year to PR.  After the race, my BRFs and I celebrated with free beer and music at the after-race party.

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All in all, I had fun! And isn’t that the real reason why I run? Smile

Have you raced in warmer weather?  How do you tackle hill running?  Share your favorite thing about racing or running.

From Iron to Titanium in 1 Week!

This week I ran the Half Marathon at the Frederick Running Festival, one week after running in my first Half Marathon, the Athleta Iron Girl. I made it through the challenge and am now a Titanium Girl!

To recap, I travelled with my family to Frederick on Saturday afternoon. We drove straight to the Fairgrounds for the Expo to pick up my race packet. This was a relatively smooth process. I bought a Titanium Girl t-shirt and….

A special edition ViewSport tank just for the FRF! I can’t wait to wear it on a run when it warms up! When activated, the hidden image says “Run Frederick!” I love my purple long sleeve. Now I have a tank to rock.

We checked out the Kids Fun Run for a few then headed to the hotel. I set out my outfit for the morning. Then, we headed to Applebee’s for dinner. Nothing too fancy; just shrimp and pasta. When we got back to the hotel, I showered, checked twitter and hit the hay by 10. Sleep was a bit rough, though. Next time, I’m bringing my own pillow and sleep mask.

I woke up, got dressed and hubs dropped me at the start. I met up with some of my Black Girls Run ladies and took this pic.

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It was right after this that I realized I forgot my GymBoss timer back in Baltimore! Ugh! I rely on my timer to keep me at a 13 minute pace. Cue minor freakout! A few deep breaths later, I got on line for the bathroom which was ridiculously long. I barely made it to the start on time. As a result, I started at the very back as opposed to in the 13/14 minute pace group. That was ok, though because I got to see my Soror Cecily in the caboose section!

After the start, I couldn’t find my rhythm for the first mile. Then, just as I did, I realized I was a bit too hydrated. I had to make another pit stop at the Mile 3 water stop. When I came out, I literally ran into one of my professional mentors, a fellow PhDiva who happens to be an ultrarunner. She was pacing another Titanium Challenge girl. I decided to run/walk with them for a bit.

At about Mile 8, we got a police escort. Although we were on pace to finish within the course time limit, the cops starting moving people off the course and on to the sidewalk. I stayed with them until Mile 11. Then, I took off. I ran past the police and caught up with the turtle pack. As I came onto the track, my family was there waiting with signs which was just the push I needed to finish strong. I came in slower than last week but I still finished.

My time wasn’t impressive but for a hysterrunner going from 0 miles to back to back Half Marathons, finishing is a blessing!

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The turtle with the gecko.

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The turtle and the caboose - Finishers!

Have you ever feared the sweeper? How were your runs/races this weekend? Tell me about it in the comments.

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Rock N Roll Philly Half Marathon

Race # 10September 15th, 2013
Aiming for a PR!