Throwback Thursday – Traditional 4th of July Race

Throwback Thursday – Traditional 4th of July Race

Since 4th of July is a mere two days away, I decided I should make a post about the traditional 4 mile 4th of July race that I have raced a total of six times.  My dad has been running this race since it started 34 years ago.  He has ran every race except for a few due to either extreme heat (the race went on but he opted to not race) and crazy summer storms. My uncle on the other hand, has indeed ran every race since it started – I think that’s quite an accomplishment and I applaud him for it!  I actually raced in this local premier running race in 1997 (if not before then) – when I was a mere 3 years old.  No, I didn’t run.  My dad pushed me in the running stroller.  And we have pictures to prove it! (see below)

This isn’t a walk-in-the-park 4 mile race.  Mile 2 is basically one giant hill.  And if you go out too hard on the first mile, this hill will destroy every ounce of energy you have in the tank.  And mile 3 is just a continuous gradual incline.  I always picture mile 3 as relatively flat because I usually only mentally prepare myself for mile 2’s huge hill.  But every year, (it never fails), I get to mile 3 and instantly remember that, yes, this straight road is a gradual incline to the next turn.  What’s great about this race is that local residents set up sprinklers and water tables for us runners to cool off with. And 4th of July never fails to be a scorcher so I’m always running through the sprinklers to cool off and dumping cups of water on my head to refocus.  I believe these little qualities make this race special and that’s why I look forward to it every year.

I also love this race because a lot of family and friends also participate in it.  Every year the amount of people I know in this race continues to grow.  It also has become somewhat of a social event because of this.  I absolutely love 4th of July morning because of this race and it gives me something to look forward to to start my day off right!

I found all my previous finishing times and places which have shown significant improvement since I started running this race in 2008.  Let’s take a walk run down memory lane.

2008 – time: 41:24, 178th overall female, 510th overall runner (10:21/mile pace) (yes, I was as slow as a turtle back in the day)

2009 – time: 35:24, 86th overall female, 348th overall runner (average 8:51/mile pace) (that was a 6 minute PR!)

pitman 2009
2009 – my neighbor (Brooke), my brother (Michael) and I at the starting line…I think we planned to all match

2010 – I didn’t race this year because the race was moved to July 5th and I had to complete my Behind-the-Wheel driving lessons to get my permit on the same day…I was disappointed!

2011 – time: 32:30, 39th overall female, 204th overall runner (average 8:07/mile pace) (2 minute, 54 second PR)

pitman 2011
2011- Post-race picture of me, my brother, my dad, my uncle (his 30th straight year running the race) and my aunt.

2012 – time: 30:07, 14th overall female, 103rd overall runner (average 7:31/mile pace) (2 minute and 23 second PR) (side story: this is the year that I almost threw-up my breakfast in the finishing corral…oops)

2013 – time: 29:35, 13th overall female, 97th overall runner (average 7:23/mile pace) (32 second PR)

(side story: this is the year that I almost passed out after the race; I think I was on the verge of heat exhaustion because I was shaky, light-headed, and I felt cold even though it was 90 degrees out…thanks to Angela’s mom (who also happens to be a nurse) I was properly taken care of and I am forever grateful for that!…I ended up throwing up about 45 minutes after I finished the race…but racing hard was sooo worth the aftermath!)

pitman 2013
2013 – starting line picture of my coach (Angela), me, and my lovely teammate (Catherine)..surrounded by greatness!

2014 – the course was slightly altered due to construction so the race ended up being 4.3 miles instead of 4 miles.

time: 30:42, 12th overall female, 83rd overall runner (average 7:08/mile pace) (mathematically speaking, if the course was the accurate 4 mile course I had ran so many time before, I would’ve ran a 28:33 and PR’d by 1 minute and 2 seconds…BUT the course was different so it doesn’t count!)

pitman 2014
2014 pre-race picture with my dad on the left and a finish line picture of us in 1997 on the right

So in conclusion, if you couldn’t keep up with all my number-crunching, I finished my first 4 mile 4th of July race in 2008 in 41:24.  Two years ago, in 2013, I finished the same course in 29:35.  That’s an 11 minute and 49 second difference. That shows that hard work truly does pay off and I encourage everyone to believe in their abilities to be faster, to work towards that PR, and have lots of fun along the way!

This year, I haven’t done much except for endurance runs so I’m not expecting a huge PR but I do hope to run faster than the 29:35 I ran 2 years ago.  The course is back to it’s traditional route so it will be a fair playing field for an attempt at a PR.  A few days ago on a training run, my dad and I ran our 3rd mile in 6:54 so I’m confident that I have some kind of speed left in me.  I also hope to improve my 12th overall female finish from last year. It would be awesome to be in the top 70 of the race.

I’m confident in my ability to push harder, longer, and faster this year.

I’m focused on the race & I know what the course has to offer.

And I can’t wait to see old and new friends at the race participating in yet another traditional 4th of July race!

Happy 4th of July, runners!  May you celebrate with a race, run, or some refreshing drinks and tasty food – or all of the above!

Reminiscing Last Summer’s Trip to Bermuda

Reminiscing Last Summer’s Trip to Bermuda

First, I would like to begin by saying HAPPY 26TH ANNIVERSARY to my wonderful and loving parents!  I hope you have a great anniversary day and continue to have many more years of happiness, memories, and love!  You’re the best!

Last summer, my family took a trip to Bermuda to celebrate my parent’s 25th wedding anniversary.  After marrying on May 27, 1989, my parents traveled to Bermuda for their honeymoon.  Twenty-five years later, they decided to take my brother and I back to the island that they enjoyed together on their honeymoon.  This was the first time we had ever taken a vacation to an island so this was super exciting!

Prior to landing on the beautiful island, we could tell from the plane that the water was crystal clear and NOTHING like NJ beaches.  The airport was tiny and after going through customs we got in a bus with an extremely friendly driver who would take us to our hotel.  On the drive to our hotel, our driver told us some history and fun facts about the island.  He told us where all the rich and famous people live/vacation and how their colleges differ from the US. 

Beautiful Bermudan water

Bermudans rely heavily on tourism for their country’s income so everyone was extremely friendly and welcoming.  But it’s also important to realize that Bermuda is also a very expensive island as it is the custom to give tips to nearly everyone that does something for you.  Despite the expenses, Bermuda is a beautiful island and the residents are more than willing to answer questions or tell stories!  We didn’t meet a single person that was rude (which I must say was a welcoming difference compared to spending the morning in the hustle and bustle of the Philadelphia Airport).

Exploring Bermuda in style

We had planned for months that we were going to rent mopeds and drive all around the island.  And that’s what we did!  Prior to departing the moped rental area of our hotel, we were given a brief lesson about the rules of the road and how to drive a moped.  I was a little hesitant because in Bermuda you drive on the left side of the road and I had never driven a moped before.  It took awhile to get used to but we figured it out!  Also, in Bermuda tourists and residents have different colored licensed plates to basically differentiate between the people who actually knew how to drive around Bermuda and the ones that didn’t (aka us).  So we set out on our mopeds to explore the island in its entirety.

We explored everywhere!  Since Bermuda is a small island, technically we could’ve made it from one end to the next and back to our hotel in one day.  But we took many stops at quaint overlooks and beaches that we came across while driving around so we didn’t have enough time to go from one side to the next (plus one end is more so for the cruise ships and we were told that it’s overcrowded and not worth traveling to).  Our beach stops usually included swimming in the beautiful Bermudan waters and pink sand (yes, Bermuda is known for its pink sand!).  After swimming in Bermuda’s waters I never wanted to take another step in NJ ocean waters again!

We stopped for dinner at a well-known place called The Swizzle Inn which is known for its walls of business cards.  It’s a custom for people to leave their business cards anywhere in the restaurant.  Upon walking in, the walls were covered with various people’s businesses/information.  My dad, since he has a business card for bike repair, left his business card in this restaurant and it will probably remain there for years and years.  I ordered a delicious Tree Hugger Nachos – so yummy!

All in all, renting mopeds for a day was awesome!  And I would do it again in a heartbeat if I ever go back to Bermuda!  If you plan on traveling to Bermuda in the future, renting mopeds is a must!  It opens up a lot of opportunity for exploration and you’ll most likely get to see things you’ve never would’ve saw if you took a taxi/bus!

jet skiing
Jet Skiing – that’s me, I promise!

Also while in Bermuda we decided to go jet skiing!  This is the first time any of us had driven a jet ski so I was excited!  We got 3 jet skis total – one for me, one for my brother, and one for my mom and dad to share.   In order for this story to continue it’s important to point out that we went jet skiing with the only company that was open that day – all other companies weren’t sending people out because the ocean was rough and choppy.  (We like to live on the edge so we went for it!)  Because we were jet skiing in open ocean water, we were instructed to go FAST.  Why?  Because in order to not hit every wave crest, you have to skim over the water and in order to skim over the water you have to hit the gas and keep it that way.  It took awhile for me to get used to just flooring it, but my brother had no problem with it at all!  He was keeping up with our guide just fine!  My parents on the other hand weren’t have such a great experience (I love you, Mom!)  My mom was terrified and my dad was stuck with my mom screaming “ohmygosh” over and over and over again!  Needless to say, my mom will never ever EVER go jet skiing in open ocean water.  My brother and I had a lot of fun though.  I would do it again in a heart beat!

family in Hamilton
Night in Hamilton ❤

We also took a trip to Bermuda’s main “city” called Hamilton.  This time we relied on public transportation.  We took a ferry to the city which led us past many harbor-front houses with beautiful views.  In Hamilton we went to an Italian restaurant that served a variety of pizza and pasta.  I got a zucchini pizza which I finished completely (and then regretted because it was a lot….but I can at least say that I finished an entire 8 slice pizza all by myself!)  Bermuda doesn’t really have a “night life” so by 8 o’clock all the stores were closed.  We took a bus back to our hotel which was fun.  The bus was very crowded but everyone was friendly and willing to help us figure out when our stop was. 

Of course, vacations wouldn’t be complete without some running.  To my surprise, although Bermuda is an island, there were hills…plenty of hills!  Our hotel was actually perched on a hill so that meant that every run ended with an uphill.  On our last day my dad and I went for a run on the beach and then found some pretty awesome beach-side trails.  I didn’t want to leave Bermuda without saying that I ran on Bermuda’s pink sand beaches so we went for a wonderful run and enjoyed our last morning on one of the most beautiful islands I’ve ever seen. 

All in all, Bermuda is a BEAUTIFUL island and I would recommend to anyone that they should go at least once in their lifetime.  The water and beaches are picturesque, the people are friendly and more than willing to help with anything you need, and there are plenty of opportunities to do adventurous things.  Unlike many other islands, you can go anywhere on the island without accidentally entering a dangerous neighborhood.  Bermuda is one of the safest islands you could travel to!  I hope to return to Bermuda in the future and I am forever grateful that my parents wanted to share the beauty of Bermuda with their two children for their 25th wedding anniversary year.  It was an amazing vacation and we still tell stories about it when we need a good laugh (usually to my mom’s expense…sorry, Mom!  Love youuuu!)  Add Bermuda to your bucket list of places to visit – I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

waves crashing         family beach