Today's Mighty Oak

The 10 races that changed me



So, one of my PRorER teammates tagged me in a fun running challenge:

It definitely took me a while to whittle it down to 10. I have a lot of good memories at a lot of good races (and a lot of bad ones as well), but I think this is a good list:

Pittsburgh Marathon 5K 2014

My very first race! I got a weird start to running, I was a Kickstarter backer for Zombies, Run!. That came out, and it still felt beyond me, so when they came out with their Couch to 5K app (Zombies 5K), I finally picked up the sport in a healthy and sustainable way.

I remember being in the start corral and my friend who went down to run with me being surprised when I raised me hand as the DJ asked if anyone was there for their very first race (a lot of us were). She was so proud of me at the end, and this began our tradition of meeting at ‘Lost Child’! This is also my favorite medal the Pittsburgh Marathon has done that I have.

EQT 10 Miler 2016

This was the first race that I trained for with a plan (thank you Hal Higdon, although I will say, his 10-miler plans are not great in terms of weekly to long run mileage ratio; stick to his half and full plans). I remember how proud I was after my last long training run of eight miles!

My friend Sean paced me for this race, and he was amazing for doing so! I also had it in the back of my mind that if I could run 10 miles, I could run a half that spring (spoiler: I did)!

Zombies, Run! Halloween Virtual Race 2017

ZR is the absolute gold standard for virtual races. While most are virtual time trials where you pay for a medal and some swag (I’ve signed up for many based on the medal or the cause, I won’t lie), ZR races have a story, interactive elements, training ‘missions’ and a vibrant community obsessing over the characters.

I ran this race with a friend at a local park. We timed it so the sun was going down and we would finish just as it was getting really dark, and the sound editing and story made it such a surreal experience, it was the perfect way to enjoy the Halloween themed race!

Veteran Half Marathon 2018

This race sticks out for three reasons. One, it was run on a motor speedway. And not just a big oval, but over three really winding courses.

Two, I got to run this with my aunt! My aunt lives outside of Harper’s Ferry, W. Va. and has been a runner for a long time, so I went down with a friend to run this race with her. The wind was brutal, I actually had windburn on my face and hands after this race, but still came away with a PR.

And thirdly, this was also my first experience with a ‘runcation,’ which I’m a big fan of! Getting away to see a new city on foot (or in this case, a city that has changed a lot since I had been there), or for a destination race, is such a great way to see the country and a nice change of pace, it’s highly recommended!

Eagle Up 2018

Crewing at Eagle Up 2017 was amazing. And when r/running decided to go back in 2018, I was even more prepared. This is what solidified us as a running family (and team), under the banner PRorER.

Helping to get my friends to their goals, as well as the absurdidty of what we put together, was amazing on every level imaginable. This was also the origin of my ultra/running name “Tent Daddy,” which honestly, is a point of pride for me.

Crewing takes a lot out of you, when you do it right; maybe even more so than running. I know that at the end of each event I’m crewing, I’m under a fog of both physical and mental exhaustion, but also gratitude for being allowed to serve. I hope that the runners I’m supporting see that: I may be more reserved and inwardly focused, but it’s all out of a quiet service and love, as well as utilizing the time to work on my own personal improvements, even when taking care of the needs of those running.

I love my running family, they’ve seen me through so much, and I’ve welcomed them into my home and my heart. I could not ask for a more wonderful family to run with.

GAP Relay 2018

I had a lot of issues with how this race was managed, but it helped me find a community of night runners that continues to this day. Shared toil can bring people together, and this race certainly did. We had a great time, despite a lot challenges, and I’m proud of us for that!

Eagle Up 2019

My first time running an ultra. After crewing a few times, I figured it was time for me to give it a shot. I had a blast, was supported by an amazing team, made new friends on the course, and even finished in the top third for my event, far exceeding my own expectations!

B6Q

A two-day, last person standing race put on by a friend and member of my ultra team. Friends from all over the country in a county park, their families, a big cookout feel, the most amazing raffle prizes, and lots of running loops, what more could I ever ask for?

This weekend is such an idyllic memory for me, not only the feel of the entire weekend, but also setting up and tearing down the course, building and installing a literal bridge and the camaraderie from this amazing group.

Philadelphia Half Marathon 2019

I went in hoping to PR and I worked my ass off to do so. The goal was to break 2:10, with a stretch goal of sub 2:05. I came in sub two hours! I remember not even believing it, even as I was staring at my results on my phone. The crowd support in downtown was phenomenal, and I got a chuckle that everyone from Philly died on the two hills as I just passed them all with ease. Getting cheered on by the Philly Frontrunners at the very end was just the icing on the cake.

This was also a runcation with amazing friends. I got to explore a new city, ride the train for the first time (and finish up my NaNoWriMo novel while on board at the end of the weekend) and enjoy a real vacation for the first time in a long while.

Pittsburgh 30K

My first trail race! This was a fatass race put on my the local outdoor store. I made some scones to share and got lots of compliments on them, but the aid station winner was the Pittsburgh cookie and pierogie table!

A group of four of us from PRANK ended up running together and we got to see parts of Pittsburgh I’ve never dreamed of seeing (and might not be able to again based on planned development, which was the impetus of the event).

While it may not be my favorite, I’m glad I dipped my toe in the trail running world, this was the perfect way to do it.

Except for ‘that’ hill.

You know the one.

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