Yup, you read that right! Since I’d dubbed 2017 as my year of creativity, I’ve tried to go a little out of the box with my goals. Instead of telling myself to “run every day” (which, even as a former xc runner and avid racer, I know is not a realistic goal for ME) or setting myself a specific running schedule I’d get down on myself for “messing up,” I decided to go for a fun challenge…. run a race [at least] once per month, every month! It can be alone or with others, short or long, whatever, just do it.
I am super proud to say I CRUSHED my goal of racing every month in the year 2017… it wasn’t always easy but it was worth it! Let’s take a run down memory lane (see what I did there?)
Location: Milford, CT
Distance: 5 miles
I got my first race of the year in riiiiight under the wire on January 29th. I decided on the Winter Wonderland 5 miler because halfway through the month I realized I hadn’t signed up for a race yet and there was no way my goal of one race every month was going to unravel before it started. But if I’m being honest, it was ROUGH.
The morning started out rocky when I woke up with a stomachache and calf cramps that hadn’t gone away from the previous day. I ended up puking a little (TMI!) when we got to the race site, which actually made me feel much better. But with my stomach doing weird things in combination with the pain in my calves, it was a painful 5 miles. I ended up walking a little over half the race but I finished and that’s always the goal. As Confucius reminded us,
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”
The only things that kept me going were the Milford Road Runners volunteers at every corner, the cheerleaders cheering me on, and my killer workout playlist. It certainly wasn’t my best race, but I’m proud of myself for getting out there this morning. And the shirt is comfy. 1 down, 11 to go…
P.S. If you’re feeling kind of pukey, DON’T wear something that restricts your neck. I wore a mock turtleneck because of the cold but felt like I was gagging the whole time. Not cute.
Location: Willimantic, CT
Distance: 2 miles
February’s race was cold and slippery but Cupid Made me Do it! My friend Eden who I met in Costa Rica came to visit for a weekend and we ran this 2 miler together. We ran the Costa Rica Marathon together (but the shorter version) back when we were living there! It may sound short, but that didn’t make it any less treacherous. We ran this the morning after a big storm, barreling down the frozen, un-shoveled main streets of Willimantic…. all terrain urban running.
After the race, we saw a couple get engaged at the finish line, walked around at a few local shops, ate at WilliBrew, got cupcakes at the Romantic Willimantic Chocolate festival,and had a blast together. It was a snowy and fun race day!
Location: New Haven, CT
I signed up for the Shamrock and Roll 5k with a fellow No Meat Athlete New Haven runners, though they’re speedy and I lost them within seconds. It was pretty funny because the start is at Toad’s Place, a club/venue I’d been to in college…. it felt weird to be there in the light of day! These are the only photos I got of that race because it was FREEEEZING and I didn’t want to be outside for any longer than necessary.
I remember feeling exhausted and basically hated every step. But those kinds of running days exist, too, and it would be a lie if I said they didn’t. Either way, another race down. Not pictured: the amazing tofu scramble I ate after suffering through 3 miles. Hanging out with vegan friends is cool.
Location: Middletown, CT
Distance: 4.5 miles
Sixties and sunny makes for gorgeous running weather! Originally, I had planned to run the half marathon today but instead opted for the Legends 4.5 mile due to a lack of training. I’m glad I didn’t push myself to do the half because it would have been MISERABLE (I mean, look at my face upon crosing the finish line after four miles… cute, right?)
Luckily there were a few fun musicians who played along the race course and decorations like these- the inspiration goes a long way. Regardless of the distance, I’m proud that I still laced up my shoes today for a fun run in the beautiful April sun in my new town!
Distance: 5.3 miles
Happy Memorial Day! No school meant 5.3 gorgeous morning trail miles in Massachusetts to get my May race in right under the wire! Literally- the last weekend of the month AND got to the race as it was starting. Typical Erin.
I got to chat with some wonderful people while exploring the trails. One of my favorite parts of racing is being around the running community. It’s a culture of people who are generally supportive and friendly, even if they don’t know you. Finding your pace next to someone and starting up a conversation can make a run that much more enjoyable.
Today’s race was absolutely beautiful. It’s part of the Powisett Farm trail series near where Tommy’s family lives. They just added a few new distances for 2018, so I might be returning to these trails in the new year! Tommy and his mom came with me to this race so I got some nice photos out of it! They even got a great video of me running through the finish line.
I love being out in nature, kicking up dirt, and reliving my high school cross country glory days. I adore trail running and today reminded how much how fun it can be… which was much-needed after hardly logging any miles the past few months. Halfway to my goal to race every month this year! Summer races are on the horizon- time to kick it up a notch!
Location: Niantic, CT
Distance: 6 miles
The view from my June race was pretty much the only thing that kept me going for 6 hot and sweaty miles. This Friday evening race boasted the most picturesque views of the Connecticut coastline through gorgeous New England neighborhoods.
Plus, the beach was the perfect place to take a pre-race nap! I drove there straight from work on a Friday night and felt like a nap was much-needed before I sweated it out for my run. Luckily, I always have a blanket in the trunk of my car so it worked out perfectly. Still haven’t been running much (okay, at all) in between my races…. Oh well. At least I’m still carving out this time for myself. Even if it’s only once a month, it still feels good to get moving. Plus, evening races are cool.
Distance: 3.1 mi
HOLY COW! Tonight was a HOT one. High key surprised I survived this 9000000 degree 5K after not running for the past month. But really, it was nearly 100 degrees Farenheit this evening for the Summer Fun Run in Middletown. I wore these stupid water bottles but the belt is too big so they jiggled the entire race and I lost one sprinting to the finish… ya girl is just trying to stay hydrated. Gotta figure out the race drink situation.
Surprisingly, I wasn’t even that tired or hot. I am convinced the amount of hot yoga I’ve been doing at Luna Vinyasa Hot Yoga Studio down the steet has gotten me into the best shape of my life. I notice that, even though I haven’t been making time to do much cross training, hot yoga makes me more tolerant to the heat and is a whole body workout so a long time in-between running doesn’t feel too too miserable anymore.
I love that my town has so many races! This is a nice city to run in and I enjoyed the course through Main Street and Weslyan University. Plus, they had cool t-shirts and running sunglasses they gave out. I dig it.
Location: Old Saybrook, CT
Last race of the summer: done! I ran the Saybrook Point 5k by the water, caught up with friends, and won a potted plant all before 9:30am! I’d call that a successful Saturday (even if I did puke in a bush in front of a little kid immediately after crossing the finish line- not my classiest moment).
A week or so before this race, I had asked my friend (and fellow blogger) who LIVES in town and works at the Saybrook Point Inn (where the race began) if she was doing it and we met up. I ended up getting to walk around the area post-race with my friends from Endicott, Shelby and Chelsea!
After the race, they had this little machine that gives you your race results when you type in your bib number. It was nifty! You’ve probably noticed that I don’t usually comment about my race times. Let’s be real, here: I’m slow AF. I don’t run races to WIN them; to me, winning is getting out there in the first place. I’m never going to be fast runner and that’s okay. My strong legs and heart and lungs and mind carry me long distances all around the world, and that’s cool with me.
The Connecticut coastline is so beautiful. It’s so fun to explore different areas of the state when I lace up my running sneakers. It would be nice if I didn’t puke in nearly every town though. Ha…
P.S. I didn’t become really fast overnight or anything to win this plant… they did a random drawing and I wasn’t paying attention, then looked down and realized I was wearing the number they called. I got this super heavy but awesome succelent which is now looking really cool in our new yoga room! Yeah, you read that right. More on that in a future post.
Location: New Haven, CT
You know it’s gonna be a good race when you get your sister’s lucky number, you’re rocking a No Meat Athlete shirt, and your mom is there to cheer you on (and snap photos of you crossing the finish line). My mom always gets super proud of me after races she comes to, especially because she’s not a runner, and it makes me feel like a rockstar. Race tip: bring your favorite cheerleaders along <33
Though this wasn’t a trail race, the road curved around the woods of East Rock Park in New Haven so it was beautiful. This isn’t too far from our new house and I spotted a bunch of trails I can’t wait to try out, especially once I get Tommy to let us get a dog!
Afterward, my mom took me out to Claire’s Cornercopia, a New Haven veg favorite of Yale students and locals. They had this amazing pumpkin smoothie!
The East Rock Challenge 5k this morning makes me 9 for 9! Plus I joined Run 169 Towns Society, and have a new lifetime goal to run a race in all 169 towns in CT. I looked through past race bibs when I got home and I already have a fair amount of towns that I’ve raced in, so I figured WHY NOT!? Always be reaching for the next challenge!
Location: Killingly, CT
Ran/walked my way through 3.1 miles of woods in the rain, so I had some time to reflect and think. This weekend I got to chat with people I haven’t seen in a while- a few told me they loved how motivated and positive I always am. But let’s get this straight: social media doesn’t tell the whole story.
YES I am a generally positive person, but I have to work reeeeealllly hard at it sometimes. Looking on the bright side isn’t always easy. I could just share these nice enough races photos and say all was well but I’d like to share the story behind it…
REAL TALK ALERT: I don’t really share that my anxiety often manifests itself physically in the form of nausea. I’ve had periods when I wake up every morning, chest tight and stomach aching and run to the bathroom to get sick. The doctor called it “intermittent vomiting disorder” 🙄 which I still think is kinda BS but basically it’s especially bad during periods of stress (aka my whole life all the time LOL ) 🤣😩 it’s a LOT better lately since I started going to therapy regularly again and being open to trying medication plussss doing a lot of yoga.
Events like races can be anxiety-inducing. I’ve been known to yak before or after a race, especially in the AM since I’m nooooot a morning person. Between being hungover (yesterday was alumni/homecoming at my alma mater-give me a break), forgetting to take my meds, and the stench of the everything bagel my dad tried to eat IN THE CAR on the way, it was touch and go there for a while!!! But I made it through an eventful day without puking!
I finished the race next to a mom who was running with her co-workers. She said she’s started running in conjunction with her journey to quit smoking. All the thinking and struggling and pushing through I did during this run gave me a different perspective. Running used to be my daily therapy. I miss it. Maybe I need more of it in my life. It’s interesting to talk to others about their motivations for running… it made me wonder if there was something to this whole idea of racing every month that could benefit other people, too. My new race buddy and I kicked it up a notch, sprinting through the finish line together. Man, I love the community-building power of running.
Anyway, I’m 10/10 on races so far this year on my #raceeverymonth2017 challenge AND I knocked off the 15th town on the #run169 lifetime goal of running a race in every town in CT! I need to keep pushing past for that feeling I know I’ll love, where running is a release. I found that again this weekend in the rainy woods. I put a lot of pressure on myself but sometimes I need to give myself the push I need. And that’s okay. Life has its twists and turns, just as this Tricky Trail Run did! One foot in front of the other, season after season, I’m getting there and I’m feeling proud.
P.S. Shoutout to these guys for having hands-down the BEST, most vegan-friendly post-race snacks of the year!
Location: Manchester, CT
Distance: 4.7 miles
This is definitely my favorite race of the year and one of my favorite races of all time. I love love love the Manchester Road Race, which I’ve done nearly year since I was a kid. Thousands of people come together for the this Thanksgiving tradition to run, walk, or watch this race through downtown Manchester. There’s music, food, booze, costumes, you name it. Plus, the registration price goes to chartity.
This year, on the 81st running of the race, my sister Casey and I decided we’d dress up as emojis because we’d always wanted to dress up for the MRR. I’m so glad we did- people were cheering “the emoji sisters” on, and kids were giving us high-fives. We even got our picture taken for the Hartford Courant website! It definitely made me want to keep running, even after I puked in a bush mid-race as my sister was taking a bathroom break. Which was probably because I thought it was a good idea to chug half a beer AND sip on my friend’s mimosa mid-race. Note to self: drinking during the race doesn’t end well.
Even though I walked a chunk of this race, I still finished! And I made up for all the stuffing calories I consumed immediately afterward.
Location: Ledyard, CT
Distance: 1 mile
I signed up for the 5k but they sent out a pre-race email explaining that there’d be a 1 mile option because o the cold front and windspeeds. We drove almost an hour so it might sound silly but I said “HELL YEAH” to that 1 mile option. After all, I hadn’t trained… at all… nor was I really in the mood to BE in the freezing cold longer than I had to, let alone RUN in it. Ya know?
No matter how short of a run, I did it. And on the last day of the year, no less. I ran one mile in 10 minutes and 30 seconds, which is basically my race pace actually, but didn’t dare go any faster due to icy roads and the fact that it was 12 DEGREES. I repeat, 12 degrees. I don’t really care about times in general; I know I’m not fast and my goal during any race is always just to finish, even if I have to crawl across the finish line (which hasn’t happened yet).
I saw my high school basketball coach and a lot of fellow Run 169 Towns members since it was the only race in the state on December 31st and I assume a lot of people, like me, thought that was kinda cool (okay, I’m also a procrastinator, as we know). This race also marked my 16th town in CT!
This is photographic proof that I laced up my shoes for *1MILE* in the frozen tundra of New England and successfully completed my personal goal to #raceeverymonth2017 !!!!!!!!!!!!! I went home to celebrate the year, feeling freeeeezing but proud and excited to run into the new year crushing more goals!
Join the 2018 challenge!
Because it felt so awesome to achieve this goal, this year I want to open up this goal/challenge #raceeveverymonth2018 to all adventurous folks or anyone who is looking to push themselves. This year, I’m going to push myself to run more in between races because I miss the endorphin rush and mental clarity running brings me.
Even if you’re not a runner, this can be a fun way to make friends, check out the scenery in a new area, do something different while traveling, etc. If you are a runner, you know it’s fun and empowering and wonderful when you cross the finish line… why not do that every month or even use this as a way to train for a longer race?
That’s 12 times in the next year that you are already carving out to commit to YOU. To care for yourself, push yourself. Head on over to Running in the USA or search Facebook events for races in your area and sign up!
Join me by running or walking a race every month in 2018, then posting your race photos + videos on instagram with the hashtag #raceeverymonth2018 ! If you keep it up for a whole year, I’ll even send you a lil handmade prize 🙂 You lucky duck, you! So…. what do you say?