My 5 Fave Racing Trips {link up!}

Last year was definitely the year of race-cations. I feel like I was all over the place (because I was!) This week’s DC Trifecta link up topic is 5 Trips so I’ll share (again lol!) some of the places I visited last year (and some places I plan to visit this year 🙂 )

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Thanks for hosting Cynthia, Mar, and Courtney!

1. I still can’t believe I ran a 1/2 marathon in Madrid, Spain. Sometimes, I look at that album and seriously am shocked that that happened. But it did and it was absolutely amazing. I recapped the race here but some memorable things from the race were

-how awesome it was to be half way around the world and be able to speak the language. Both my husband and I are fluent Spanish speakers 🙂

-how plastic water bottles were given at each water station. Bottled water is so expensive in Europe that as soon as I saw a PR was nowhere near possible, I started hoarding water bottles and ran with one in each hand the entire way lol!

-how there were ZERO porta-potties. Men just pulled up to the side and did their thing but the women had to find a restaurant or shop to use the bathroom!

Madrid was our first stop in our Europe tour and we started off with a bang

One of my fave race pics -- having fun doing what I love (and in Spain!)

One of my fave race pics — having fun doing what I love (and in Spain!)

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2. When I got back from Europe, I decided to cross the Grand Canyon twice lol! Doing Rim 2 Rim 2 Rim was such an incredible experience. I had never been to the Grand Canyon and to go and do that was amazing. I recapped the double crossings here and here.

The Grand Canyon is a must see if you’re Arizona and if you’re planning on visit, why not cross the whole thing? 🙂

Day 1: South Kaibab to North Kaibab. Day 2: North Kaibab to Bright Angel.

Day 1: South Kaibab to North Kaibab. Day 2: North Kaibab to Bright Angel.

the edge of glory

              the edge of glory

at the finish line of the Canyon :)

at the “finish line” of the Canyon 🙂

3. My bucket list marathon was the Marine Corps Marathon in our nation’s capitol, Washington, D.C. I’m a big history buff so running a race there would unite to of my passions: running and history. I wrote about this race and how it met ALL of my high expectations here (and a little more here). The cherry on the top of this race last October was also meeting my BRF Salt ❤ The day couldn’t have been better.

Oh just strolling by the White House--nbd.

Oh just strolling by the White House–nbd.

Best. Medal. Ever.

Best. Medal. Ever.

My BRF and sole sister--Salt <3

My BRF and sole sister–Salt

4. I mentioned just last week how I plan on going to Cincinatti, Ohio to run the Flying Pig 1/2 Marathon.

We'll be running the half! :D

So if anyone had told me my brother would run a 1/2 marathon…I would have snorted and said, “Yeah, when pigs….yeah….” 

This race is special because it will by my brother’s first half and I NEVER thought he’d run a half marathon. Ever. I’m so pumped about it, I can’t even explain it lol! Just this past weekend he texted me a pic of his 7 miler. I’m so ridiculously proud of him.

I’ve heard a lot of good things about this race and you bet I’ve checked out the elevation chart–I’m ready for you hills! (well not really, but yeah)

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Helloooo hills!!

5. Finally, my fall marathon this year will be in……CHICAGO!! My run club is organizing a group to run the Chicago Marathon and my husband and I have put our names in the lottery–all our fingers are crossed we get in.

I’m still gunning for a sub 4:30 and I’m hoping, hoping, hoping it happens in Chicago. If not, I plan on maybe trying ONE MORE TIME in Phoenix Spring 2016 and if it still doesn’t happen, I’m putting up my marathon running shoes for a while. Marathon training is no joke and this momma is TIE-ERD.

So, there you have it! Some places I’ve been ridiculously lucky to visit and two that I’m super pumped to check out this year.

–Where have you traveled to run? Do you have a favorite place?

–Where is your dream race-cation?

Good luck to Sue@ThisMamaRunsForCupcakes who is running a marathon in PARIS, FRANCE this weekend!!!

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The year that was two thousand unFOURgettable teen

And it’s here!!! The last day of 2014!!

This has been an incredible year for me personally and in my running life. I honestly don’t think I’ll ever have such an amazing year as this and I don’t even want to try. This year will be its own very special year in which I accomplished so much and did so much…

Here’s a look back at the year that was 😀

1. January My first sub 2 hour half marathon 1:58:11

This was such a special race because my husband and I trained so hard for this. It was also 6 months post partum and to have met my goal so soon after giving birth made me feel like a total badass

yay!

yay!

2. March: My FIRST marathon

Oh. Em. Gee. This was such an epic day. It was so hard and so amazing at the same time. Crossing that finish line was one of the proudest moments of my life–it made me a marathoner!

Crossing that finish line=best feeling ever

Crossing that finish line=best feeling ever

Yep, I'm a finisher!

Yep, I’m a finisher!

Seriously, how beautiful is this medal??

Seriously, how beautiful is this medal??

3. March: I froze my butt off and got a 5k PR in Ohio

This was a special race because it was the first race my brother, sister, and I ran ever ran together. My 6’2, 300lb brother crossed the finished line at a veerrry respectable 33 something! And I placed second in my age group with my shiny new PR of 24:18 🙂

My brother on the run

My brother on the run

Our after pic :)

Our after pic 🙂

My Shwings and my AG award :)

My Shwings and AG award 🙂

4. April: I have a 2 year old!

My favorite girl in the world growing up so fast ❤

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2

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Party time!

 

5. April: Um, I ran a race in MADRID, SPAIN!!!

Okay, first, I never thought I’d ever visit Europe. Second, I neeever thought I’d run a race in Europe! But, the opportunity presented itself this year and my husband and I found ourselves running a 1/2 marathon through the streets of Spain

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It was absolutely incredible and something I will never, ever forget.

6. May: I crossed the Grand Canyon…TWICE

Okay, so I never thought I’d go to Europe and I did. But if someone told me I’d hike the Grand Canyon twice I woulda told them they were crazy. Yet, I was the crazy one who actually did it!

Day 1: South Kaibab to North Kaibab. Day 2: North Kaibab to Bright Angel.

Day 1: South Kaibab to North Kaibab. Day 2: North Kaibab to Bright Angel.

 

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Looking back at the miles

 

at the finish line of the Canyon :)

and at the finish line of the Canyon 🙂

7. June: My first trail race (and first at night!)

The newb trail runner in me came out this race as I had NO idea what I had signed up for lol! This was hella hard!!!

Started with the 10 mile loop followed by the 10k loop (see mountain).

Started with the 10 mile loop (bottom pic) followed by the 10k loop (top pic).

Pre-race pic at Adrenaline 27k

Pre-race pic at Adrenaline 27k–still smiling having no clue….lol

Adrenaline 27k

Soooo happy to be done!

8. July: My little guy turned ONE!!!!

12 months=1 year in case you didn't know :D

12 months=1 year in case you didn’t know 😀

9. August: I went back to work

This was a hard decision for me but one I am very glad I made. I felt like I wasn’t ready to let go of teaching after taking a year off and I really missed it.

My bib board makes my classroom complete :) (don't mind my soda collection lol!)

My bib board makes my classroom complete 🙂
(don’t mind my soda collection lol!)

10. September: I completed 100 Days of NO Soda!!!

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Those who know me know what a big deal this was. It hard, it was tough, but I honestly think it has made a lasting impression on me as I definitely have seen a change in my drinking habits.

11: October: My dream race!!!

Holy cow, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon!!! I still can’t believe I was able to do it. It was everything I’d hoped it’d be and MORE–because I also got to meet my BRF and Sole Sister, Salt!

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Cheesin' real hard

Cheesin’ real hard at packet pick up

Best. Medal. Ever.

Best. Medal. Ever.

12. November: A humbling race

I ran the Gilbert 1/2 Marathon at 2:00:16 baaareely missing what would’ve been my second sub 2 of the year. It was a poorly run race on my part but a HUGE learning experience.

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Oh man, that’s always tough to look at.

13. December: To then run the race of my life!!

The Fiesta Bowl 1/2 Marathon proved to me that I can do hard things. It was seriously a tale of two races as the first half of the half, I struggled and was about to throw in the towel on trying to get my second sub 2 race of the year. But then a light switched on at mile 7 and I ran the rest of the race a different person finishing with a brand new, incredible, half marathon PR

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Best!

14. Last, but not least…1000 miles!

On the dot!

On the dot!

Such an incredible year for me. I’ve been having a blast blogging and while sometimes life gets busy and I can’t do it as much as I’d like, I appreciate all of you who have shared this journey with me. So looking forward to 2015!!!

P.S. I turned 30 this year! 😀

–How would you describe your 2014 in ONE word? (me? Un-Four-gettable)

–What are you looking forward to in 2015?

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Be safe out there

❤ helly

 

 

 

 

 

Meeting the BRF and other Marine Corps Marathon awesomeness

Besides crossing that finish line and getting medaled by a Marine, the other major highlight of the weekend was FINALLY MEETING SALT!!! A lot of people were surprised that we had never actually met up to that day considering how much we obsess talk about each other. We “met” over 3 years ago (whoa!) on an online mommy’s group (our daughters are the same age ❤ ) and we’ve been friends ever since. I convinced her to start running and she convinced me to start blogging and the rest is BRF history!

I knew she’d be running a 5k that morning but I also knew she’d be done quickly (I mean, it’s Salt) so I expected her at the finish line. When I crossed, I checked my phone messages and there it was, one of her telling me she was there! I let her know where’d I’d be collapsing and she appeared magically through the throng of family supporters carrying with her a beautiful sign.

We squealed like schoolgirls and hugged and then she plopped down beside me and we started chatting like if we’d known each other forever. It. Was. Awesome.

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20141026_135625I had zero doubts that I’d like her in person. We had “talked” to each other nearly every day through some sort of social media and texted each other occasionally. We were real life friends no matter the fact I hadn’t actually heard her voice (why we’ve never called each other, I don’t know. Oh, technology).

I was a hot mess after the race and wanted to get back to my room to shower so Salt gave me and my husband a ride. Around the block. Traffic was so dense that we spent 30 minutes getting a quarter of a mile. We decided to let Salt go 😦 so that she wouldn’t spend her whole day stuck in that awful mess. We shared a tearful goodbye with plans to meet again soon (we’ve got something up our sleeves) and I saw her go off in her little red Fiat into the sea of cars….

Other More Random Cool Stuff

One of the things that impressed me so much about the Marine Corps Marathon was the crowd support. I mean, I rarely, if ever, felt alone. Not only were there so many people cheering us on, many of them carried super funny, clever signs. Here are some good lines I somehow remember:

Fine, Emily. We can get a cat.”

“Taylor, we just got engaged and you’re already running away!”

“Run like you’ve just been called a jogger!”

“Run like the Ebola vaccine is at the finish line!”

“Keep going–you’re not almost there! You’ve got a shitload of miles left!”

“Run like someone is chafing you!”

“Mike, I’m pregnant!”

“F*@k the friend that signed you up for this!”

There’s more but I can’t remember them. But seriously though, crowd support was AMAZING. There were several spots along the way with people handing out cups of beer, pretzels, candy, tissue (I took one), Vaseline–I mean, talk about support.

Another awesome moment was actually waiting for the race to start. A tent of Marines were selling coffee and hot chocolate pre-race and we stood in the long line waiting to purchase. I didn’t know how the hot chocolate would sit with me but I was so cold, I didn’t care. Anyway, the man in front of me handed the Marine a $20 bill and the Marine asked if he had anything smaller, to which the man replied, “Get as many people as you can with the change.”

Even the participants were super friendly. Not just in this instance, but throughout the race I saw runners concerned for runners, runners encouraging each other, runners just being their awesome selves. It truly was such a memorable experience. One that is worthy of putting on your “To Race” list.

Have you ran a race that was memorable? What made it so awesome?

Do you have an awesome Best Running Friend?