2013 TARC Spring Thaw 6 Hour Race

The 2013 TARC Spring Thaw was held on Sunday March 24th.  The race features a 3.5 mile trail loop that you run as often times as you can in 6 hours.  For the second year in a row race director Emily Trespas and all the volunteers put on a fantastic event on trails owned by the Andover Villiage Improvement Society.  The race ran from 9AM-3PM and was capped at 100 people.

Emily also drew this beautiful Yetti stencil we all got. TARC races really are the best!

This was also my first ultra and I was super nervous.  While I know I should be hitting the trails as often as I could to train for my first 50 miler, the winter this year had other things in mind as it kept dumping snow weekend after weekend.  So I’ve been sticking to the roads and happily avoiding the snow-capped jagged rocks and stumps of the trails.

I didn’t know what to expect, I’ve run a TARC race before (last year in Weston) and the trail was much easier than running in the Fells, but I wasn’t sure what was in store in Andover.  Furthermore, mother nature decided to dump 9 inches of snow on Wednesday that barely began to melt until Saturday.  Luckily, by Sunday, only a few inches of snow remained but I was still scared enough avoid absolutely any goals.  I was at a loss of what to expect from myself other than a determination to last 6 hours.

Confession – I have never ran more than 4 hours at a time in my life.  The few times I remember running that long, I remember being exhausted, so I was still at a loss how I was going to last 6 hours running.  However, the goal was clear, keep moving, keep running, keep walking, keep crawling until 6 hours are up!

I woke up at 6:45 excited for the race and eager to test out my new hydration pack!

Yup even before running, my hair looked like a squirrel that was electrocuted. Anyways I got up, got dressed and headed out to meet up with another TARC member who lives near by to drive up to Andover.  She was awesome enough to help me with a ride to getting to the race.  THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

I skipped breakfast because TARC races always come with food, and my stomach is pretty iron.  When I got to the race, I was greeted with bagels, fruit, gu, pbj sandwiches.  I munched on a sesame seed bagel (big mistake as I was burping sesame seeds for about 7-10 miles), and a few pieces of pbj.

At 8:30 there was a brief meeting and at 9AM we were off.  Unlike Saturday, I positioned myself at the end of the line.  I’m pretty slow and I didn’t want to get in anyone’s way but I also wanted all the runners in front to pack all the snow

(I got this photo from someone on FB but I forgot who, sorry =()

The first 3.5 miles were slow, snowy, crunchy and of course I had my first wipe-out within 30 minutes.  There was a bridge, there was ice and I went down before I even knew what was happening but luckily aside from my pride nothing else was hurt.  The first mile I ran in over 13 minutes as I was getting used to the feel of the snow but by mile 3 I had a nice fast 11:40 minutes per hour pace going.

The beautiful photos I’ll be sharing below were taken by Scott Mason. Amazing how none of the snot dripping off me made it to the photos! In fact, dare I say, I think I’m looking pretty good, maybe not Scott Jurek on the trails good, but you couldn’t even tell that I was terrified of falling with each step.

2013 Spring Thaw Woods

My second lap was stronger and I was dipping into a few 10 minute miles.  I stood strong for about another lap or 2.  I was running, and I wasn’t hitting the adrenaline levels you hit in a road race, but more of a happiness on a different level.  I would say meditative, but I really can’t stand it when people call runs meditative; I’m huffing & puffing so there is nothing meditative about me when I run.  However, I was running the whole time without my headphones and most of the time because I was too slow to be with the wolf pack and too fast to be with the others, I was on my own and I think I liked it.  My main focus was the trail with one step in front of the other and just breathing in the fresh crisp air.  Luckily, all the runners in front of me left footsteps and I followed those without getting lost once.  Had there been no snow, I’m sure I would have gotten turned around at least once per loop.

I hit a wall around mile 19 similar to marathon and questioned about just how far I wanted to go.  Did I really need to run more than 20 miles I asked?  However, after a few pep talks, and snacks from the AID table I ventured back into the woods.  I thought about putting on some music, but resisted and didn’t take out my phone once during the 6 hours.  Probably aside from sleep, this is one of the longest times I’ve been digitally disconnected in a while!  One of the volunteers kindly refueled my camelpak (because I wasn’t sure how to and my brain was dizzy) with Gu Brew which was kinda tasty.  I hate Gatorade and would rather dehydrate and die but the pink Gu Brew was tasty.  Truth is that I didn’t really need my camelpak on this race.  There was an amazing aid table every 3.5 miles, but I love having it.  It was light and I barely noticed it, and any time I wanted a sip of something sweet, it was there to comfort me.

It was also around mile 19 that I also learned to love downhill.  Now the course wasn’t very hilly.  According to my Garmin total elevation gain was 7,627 feet but when you’re running for 6 hours any rise in elevation is a sign for sadness.  On my first lap, every time there was a decline, I would slow down and be terrified of slipping but by my 3rd loop, I was bombing down the hills, well as bombing as you can be at 11 minute miles haha.

Somewhere between loop 6 and 7 I had about 3 more falls on flat muddy surfaces.  You see after a few hours of running, all the snow was stumped into glorious mud.  For at least two of them I have quite the audience behind me.  Most of the trail was turned into a mud bath where both my feet would be taking a swim at least once a loop.  Luckily, no blisters or issues arose.  I guess wearing sock liners worked.

After my 7th loop, I was ready to quit.  It was about 5 hrs 10 Min into the race and I wasn’t sure I could do the last 3.5 miles in 50 minutes. Yet, somehow with the support and more pep talks from fellow TARC members I was talked into going for the 8th loop.  I grabbed a PBJ and was about to enter the woods when I bit my cheek trying to eat my food.  I bit it hard and could taste blood mixed in with jelly!  I was in pain and began to walk wobble back to say I’m not doing another loop.  However, I saw my new friend who I drove up with coming out of the woods and ready for her final loop.  Alright, if she was willing to risk, I figured I have no excuse so in I went, bloody cheek, covered in mud and only perseverance to push me forward and maybe a few thin mint Girl Scouts cookies.

Reji who was volunteering took a photo of the snack table and this showcases probably only 20% of all the food types that were available during the race.  My favorite were PBJs followed by Thin Mints.

Yea picture a short little blonde girl grabbing a bunch of cookies and running into the woods.  That was me!

I finished my last loop at 5:56:52 just barely making the cut.  As soon as I crossed the finish line, my mind couldn’t even gather the strength to form sentences so I just sat down and breathed.

In the end I found out I placed 22 out of 91 so not too shabby for a trail rookie and a girl’s first ultra in a snow filled forest.

WHAT I WORE – Because you know you care

  • Target Tech Short Sleeve
  • Adidas Boston Marathon Long Sleeve – Love that thing and that’s why I was doing laundry on a Saturday night before going out to a bar.
  • Calvin Klein Tights – I really should get another pair, but I keep hoping weather will clear up and I won’t have to worry until next year
  • REI Silk Sock Liners – saved my feet every wet run thus far!
  • Adidas athletic socks
  • Camelbak – Didn’t need but loved having and barely noticed
  • Innov-8 Roclite 315 – shoes that kept my toes from getting broken

Looking back I don’t think I would have changed anything about what I did during the race.  None of my gear/clothes had any issues and I was grateful for everything I had on me.  I paced myself to the point that I was actually running all 6 hours.  Other than walking by the aid table, I was fortunate enough to never have to walk on the trails… something I’ve never been able to accomplish in a road race.  I end up taking a walk break at some point even in half marathons!  I made some amazing new trail friends and just had a great Sunday in the woods!

Do you prefer trails or roads?

2013 Malden Rotary Road Race 10K Race Recap

Malden 10K Start Line

Friend, Family & running, does life really get better than that?

The 2013 Malden Rotary Race was held on Saturday March 23rd. There was a 5K option at noon and a 10K option that started at 11:30AM. Registration was $20 or $30 day of the race.

This was my third year running the 10K and my race recap from last year is here.  It was a cold cold day with temperatures barely reaching 40 and a 20MPH cold gust fighting against you.  I woke up around 9AM to a friend showing up to the race start 2 hours early!  Yea you!  Way to ruin my beauty sleep.  Anyways, I grabbed a few swag bags, numbers and headed back home for some breakfast of toast and Trader Joes sunflower butter.  Is it sad that I look forward to weekends so I could gorge myself on Sunflower Butter?  Yup, true story.

Malden 10K Swag

The swag bag features some pretty neat stuff for a race completely organized by a nonprofit charity.  There was a LONG SLEEVE TECHNICAL shirt, something Hyannis Marathon couldn’t provide (yup still complaining about that). A pair of gloves I use for gardening.  Snacks, New England coffee, New England Racing Calender/Schedule and a cute little Patch tote.  There were also some coupons for Marathon Sports and Dick’s sporting store but I don’t shop at either so I didn’t keep.  A tip though, the tech shirts run big ladies, so order a small, since they’re in men’s size.

Malden 10K Shoes

Earlier that week, I made a few purchases and of course couldn’t wait to try out my new shoes.  The red babies on the left are Mizuno Ronin 4, a racing flat.  I ran a few speed miles in them on Thursday on a treadmill but haven’t taken them out on the road yet because the streets were still covered in frozen icy snow.  None the less, I assessed my risks and decided to go with them for race day.

They say don’t try anything new on race day, but I’ve never been a great listener anyways.

We waited in the cold in the confusion that was the starting line for about 10 minutes until finally around 11:40 they decided to start the 10K and I blasted off.

Miles 1, 2, 3 – I don’t know how, but for the first three miles with gradual up and down hills, I somehow kept  a 6:30 pace.  It must have been my stubbornness to try to keep up with my friend Dan.  Around mile 3 I thought I was going to heave up a lung.

Mile 4 – I started slowing down and ran this around a 7:06 minute pace.l I hit some kinda wall and those shoes that felt amazing for the first three miles were starting to make my feet hurt.  My toes felt like they were poking through the mesh.  This was also probably one of the flatter miles.  Can you hit a wall at mile 4? Maybe I wasn’t ready to race a 10K in racing flats on crappy pavement?

Miles 5. 6 – Luckily, I snapped out of my wall of whinness and finished the mile in a 6:50 pace, probably my more comfortable 10K pace. Mile 6 was ran at 6:55 but I think that was because for the final mile we merged with the 5K group and main street, a busy road that had no traffic cut off so you have 400 runners, fast 10kers, merging with walking 5kers and a bunch of pissed off drivers.

Dan, I tried so hard to catch up to you that last mile, I even risked my life more times than I’d like to admit as I jetted in front of moving vehicles but in the end I was 14 seconds too late.

Malden 10K Brother

After I finished I saw Tony, April and Ryan cross the finish line and then ran back about half a mile to finish the race with my brother and Ana.  My brother, above, was running his first 10K and he finished strong!  I was going to run up to take a photo of him finishing but he sprinted ahead when he saw the finish line and I was too slow to make it.

Malden 10K

Tony ran a PR of 48:18!

The girls stuck around and waited for Adrienne and Liz to finish while the boys couldn’t sustain their hunger and went to the Dockside for the free food buffet afterwards of pasta and salad.

Malden 10K Food

There was also a ton of coconut water and muscle milk for some serious refueling to go around.  We chatted, and ate, and chatted, as I awaited the results.

Malden 10K Awards

I was in complete and utter shock when I saw I had 2nd place female.  I could have sworn there were at least 2-3 girls in front of me at least within the first few miles but I guess I must had outran them towards the end.  If you’re wondering what I got, it’s a free pair of Sketchers Performance sneakers.  I’ll share pictures when I receive them.

Total Time : 42:37
Total Place –
Gender Place –

Overall, I feel pretty happy but I’m always happy when I run with friends.  Technically its only a 17 second PR. but I think the course runs a little long.  My garmin said 6.3 when I finished, and the wind was brutal.  I don’t know how, but with each turn, the wind was still against you.  All in all, I did over a minute faster than last year’s time of 43:56.  P.S. my first year that I ran, I did a 51:34!

Malden 10K Finish

The whole gang of amazing finishers! April, Liz,Ryan, crackhead, Tony, Adrienne, cheerleader Sara, Dan, Ana, Eugene.

Update – I’m Alive

I’m alive but been very busy.  Tax season is picking up (a girl gotta eat) and Boston Marathon is 22 days away.  Why does the IRS correlate it’s deadlines with marathon seasons I don’t know but it’s tough.

Ran Malden 10K with my brother, his first one!  Full recap later but for now, I got the semi glory of getting 2nd overall!  Yay for noncompetitive local races!

Boston Restaurant Week – B & G Oyster

While the rest of Boston was being Irish for the day, I was being a hungry runner.  So after hitting the pavement for 20 miles, I wanted to take advantage of Restaurant week.  Restaurant week is a way to Boston’s finest dining at affordable prices.  Well more affordable than before since affordable is a relative term.

3 Course Lunch – $20.13
3 Course Dinner – $38.13
As you can see lunch is a much better deal than dinner so I try to make it to one or two lunches each time restaurant week comes.  This Sunday Tony and I hit up B & G Oysters
We started with a few oysters (not part of the prefixe menu).
B&G Oysters Oysters
B&G Oysters Oyster
We both got the clam chowder but unfortunately the clams were overcooked.  However, minus the clams, the soup was delicious.

B&G Oysters Clam Chowder

Scallops, complete and utter perfection! Dayboat scallops with fennel puree, farro, poached celery root

B&G Oysters Scallops Actually I lied, this dessert was heaven.  Salted Heath bar chocolate mousse.
B&G Oysters Chocolate Moose

Pound cake Tony picked, it was okay but I wouldn’t die for it.

B&G Oysters Pound CakeDo you participate in something similar to restaurant week?

March for Muscles – Designer Whey Review

As someone who runs… well lack of better of words a lot and lifts none (does my garmin watch count as a weight?), I don’t have a lot of muscles.  Intense cardio (tempo runs) tends to be catabolic. The main goal is to break down and burn fat and while the body has no desire to use protein during a run it will try to break down the muscles, not as much for an energy source, but to lighten the load.  A way to prevent that is to try to refuel with protein and carbs after a good workout.

So when I was given an opportunity to try out some Designer Whey products, I jumped right in.  As I get more serious with my running goals and ambitions, I need to take my refueling more seriously

Designer Whey BundleProtein 2Go
I have to confess, getting protein into my diet mid-day can sometimes be a struggle, especially after a workout when my stomach can barely handle water.  On weekends when I am home, I usually make a smoothie; however, weekdays are a struggle.  I am lucky enough that I get to run during lunch and I often re-hydrate with Nuun for electrolytes but I know I need something more substantial for nutrients.  Protein 2Go have been a perfect solution.  There’s three flavors lemonade, mixed berry and tropical orange.  Lemonade has been my favorite, but I like to switch it up between the three.

Designer Whey Protein2Go

Each packet, similar to one of those crystal light packets, is mixed into 16oz or so of water and has about 50 calories and a few essential vitamins as you can see in the nutrition facts below.,

Designer Whey Protein 2Go Nutrition

Designer Whey sent a vanilla shake and a chocolate shake and unfortunately I wasn’t a fan of either.  I thought both were very sweet and my palette prefers more mild flavors.  I also felt like I could taste the powderness of the milk or whey or something.  However, I also don’t like milk and that is probably why I’m not a shake type of gal.  When I make my own smoothies or shakes I use coconut or almond milk.  However, they are only 100 calories, 18 grams of protein, and when I was in a hurry and had to drive to meet up for a lunch right after a 20 miler, I refueled with one.  Yes I was going for lunch, but that was 30 minutes away and I needed something in my stomach ASAP because 20 miler hunger don’t care to wait for a waitress, table or service.  I did find that compared to other on the shelf shakes, it was smoother and tastier but not something I would really use regularly.

Designer Whey Shake

Protein Bars
Okay, I found my new addiction and it’s these bars.  They taste like candy and yet I can slowly munch on one all day at my cube.  One bite satisfies my sweet tooth until the next hour.  For those that work at a desk, I’m sure you know the munchy cravings that we battle all day.  And unlike other bars, they don’t have that “whey aftertaste” if you know what I mean.

Designer Whey Protein Bar

Yea, let’s ignore the fact that I am eating literally on my desk.  I know I’m gross.  There’s three flavors triple chocolate crunch, chocolate caramel crunch, & peanut butter crunch.  They all taste great but the chocolate caramel crunch was my favorite.  Each one has 170 calories and has 10 grams of protein.  In my quest to eat a ton a day, I went through the bars pretty fast and I have a feeling Tony might have stolen one or two so I tried to find some in store but had trouble.  Instead, once again Amazon can to my rescue!

Protein Powder
It’s been a cold and brutal winter and I haven’t been craving smoothies to the extent I do in the summer.  However, every once in a while I still crave a cold, protein filled green smoothie.  Designer Whey protein powder comes in seven flavors and I got to try two: white chocolate & french vanilla.  I don’t know how they knew that I would be obsessed with white chocolate, but there was no convincing me to like it.

Designer Whey Protein Powder

My smoothie? Mangoes, lots and lots of mangoes, unsweetened coconut milk, current green in rotation – arugula, & white chocolate protein powder.  Perfect way to tap out a lazy rest day.  Each serving of protein powder only has 100 calories but 18 grams of protein.

If you’d like to try out Designer Whey, you should check out the Designer Whey starter kit. They also have a store locator on their website.  To find out more information about Designer Whey, find them and like/follow them on FacebookTwitter,PinterestYouTubeGoogle+.

Do you ever use protein powder, drinks or bars? What’s your favorite flavor?

Disclaimer:  I was provided Designer Whey for the purpose of a review through FitFluential.  I was not compensated for this post.  All opinions expressed here are 100% my own.  


Quinoa Chicken Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers

I’m a huge fan of stuffed peppers but for some reason they always seemed complicated with too many steps.  It also takes about an hour of prep/cook time which usually is too much time for my hungry stomach.  However, today I was craving something cheesey and I also happen to have ground chicken I didn’t know what to use for (it was on sale so I stocked up).  I could have made tacos, but I figured why not get a little more adventurous.  I looked at a few recipes, then realized I want to use different ingredients in different quantities because well what I had available wasn’t the typical beef and rice and beans. I’m also a spice addict and the recipes I saw mostly called for too much salt with too many steps so I decided to go rogue.  Luckily, this actually worked out and I think is a winner for a repeat.

Stuffed Peppers Recipe

6 bell peppers
1 pound ground chicken
1 medium size onion
Several cloves of garlic
1 can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup chicken broth
Pepper, salt, oregano, red pepper flakes, paprika to taste
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut the tops off the peppers, and remove the seeds. Cook peppers in boiling water for 5 minutes; drain and put to the side
  2. In a large skillet, saute garlic first for 3 minutes, add onions and saute for 5 minutes.  Add chicken and saute until cooked (took me about 8 minutes).
  3. Stir in the tomatoes (I drained the water), quinoa, 1 cup chicken broth and Worcestershire sauce, pepper, oregano, paprika, red pepper flakes. Cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese.  I used weight waters Mexican cheese because it’s what was in my fridge but I think sharp cheddar would have been yummier
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (175 degrees C). Stuff each pepper with the chicken, quinoa mixture, and place peppers open side up in a baking dish. I had some juices left in my pan from the mixture so I put a little bit in each pepper to make them juicier.  I sprinkled a little cheese on top and cover the pepper with the top that I cut off earlier
  6. Bake  25 minutes – I baked uncovered

Munching away!

Brooklyn Eats – Sushi & Russian Food

So if you ever lived in Brooklyn, or know Russian people, you’d know we love our sushi.  The best part about visiting Brooklyn is access to get cheap sushi that’s half the price I would find at any place in Boston.  I had to go on a last minute trip to NY last weekend but before we left back for Boston, we hit up Mitoushi.  I haven’t been there before and was pleasantly surprised by the great service, and fresh rolls!

We started with a few basic rolls and this app called Spicy Tuna Bowl that I think wins pretty princess meal award.Sushi

A rainbow roll, which is my favorite!

Sushi 3

My parents got a chicken and salmon hibachi but I think their attention was on the sake

Sushi 2

I tried to get in on the action, but my mom closed her eyes in disappointment

Sushi 1

The other place we went to was a Russian restaurant   I don’t know the name, and the menu was all in Russian with a small short translation indicating whether the dish was beef, pork, lamb or chicken. Details? Well you didn’t really need to know them if you can’t read Russian.  The service was typical Russian service and by that… well I don’t know for someone who is basically American raised, every time I go to an authentic Russian style dining, it always seems like they don’t want the business… None the less the food looked and tasted good.

Russian food

A proper meal ALWAYS starts with a salad

Russian food 5

I made Tony order the beef stew

Russian food 1

I got chicken kebabs with side of cabbage and potatoes, two Russian staples.

Russian food 4

I think this was a beef dish?

Russian food 2

I think this was a chicken dish my brother

Russian food 3

Did you eat anything fun this week?

What’s your favorite sushi roll? Rainbow roll, or if I’m cheap a regular salmon roll is my fave.