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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

New York City Marathon, Here I Come!!

As many of you know, out of all the races I have done, if I had to pick my all time favorite road marathon, the New York City Marathon still tops the list. I loved Boston, but there is nothing like running the 5 boroughs! The excitement in the city on marathon weekend is electric. There is no place like New York City!

I can't tell you how happy, grateful and excited I was to be invited to run this year. One reason is that I will sharing my NYC experience with my boyfriend Bart! He is not only working, but he will be running and guiding a 16 year old boy named Godfrey. Godfrey is from the Ethembeni School in South Africa. This is a school is for physically disabled and visually impaired children. Godfrey is blind, so Bart will be his eyes for the whole 26.2 miles. I can't tell you how much I love this! What a guy right?!

Running the NYC  Marathon twice before (2009 and 2013), I can't help but wonder how amazing Godfrey will feel as he hears the crowds of NYC cheering for him. Bart has his fans too, so it will be pretty amazing for both of them and inspiring for the rest of us!

I will also get to see my twin Angel there! My sister is not running but she works for Team Challenge (the marathon, half marathon and triathlon training program benefiting the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America) and will she be their with their team!

While I am not running for charity, both the Ethembeni School and Team Challege would be more than happy to take any donations. If you have a spare buck or two, these are two really worthy causes! 

To donate to the Ethembeni School, click here.

To donate or to join Team Challenge, click here.

I can't wait to run through the streets of NYC again and do it with my favorite people! It is soooo exciting!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

#111- Running The Mad Marathon With Bart Yasso!

When Bart Yasso invites you to run a marathon with him, you say yes. Bart is a legend in the running community.  As Chief Running Officer at Runner's World magazine for 30 years, he has experiences and stories that would make any runner green with envy or quaking with fear (Check out his book My Life On The Run!) In his adventures, Bart contracted Lyme Disease three times so today, it is a miracle that he can even walk, let alone run a marathon (or golf), but in typical Bart Yasso fashion, he gives everything he does 100%, so again, when Bart invited me to run the Mad Marathon in Waitsfield, VT with him, I said yes! *Disclaimer-  Bart is my boyfriend, so I would have said yes anyway! Ha Ha!

I got the red-eye to Philadelphia and arrived early Thursday morning. Bart picked me up and we drove back to his house where I could grab a quick nap while he went back to the office for a couple of hours before making the 6 hour drive to Waitsfield.

The drive was beautiful. We crossed through New Jersey and New York before hitting Vermont and the Beaver Pond Farm Inn a 4 room, 1840's Bed and Breakfast where we would be staying, nestled in the Green Mountains with friends, Chuck (Marathon Junkie) Engle and Jenn Pellegrino!

The Beaver Pond Farm Inn

Our room complete with goody bag from Dori Ingalls, the Race Director!

The view from our back deck!

If you want to see the whole tour of the house, check out our Facebook live video!

After we toured the house and got settled, we changed clothes for a Sponsor and Guest party held at The Pitcher Inn, in Warren, VT. There we had some light food and drinks and I got to meet Dori Ingalls and Ian Sweet, the fantastic leaders of this great event!

Bart and I at the party.

Sponsors, staff and guests mingle at the party.

Race Director, Dori Ingalls makes a toast!

After the party we headed up to Timbers Restaurant at Sugarbush for dinner. Bart and I had a delicious coconut-lime marinaded pan fried tofu over rice noodles. Wow was it good! After dinner we back to the house for a soak in the hot tub and some well needed sleep.

I have the best boyfriend ever! I love flowers and I woke up to to these! He picked them himself. Awww!

The next morning, Chuck, Jenn, Bart and I headed out for a nice little 3 mile shakeout run. We ran through the first (and last) covered bridge on the race course. Check out our Facebook live video of the beginning of our run!

Bart, Me, Jenn and Chuck before our run.

Bart and I having fun!

On our way back through the covered bridge, Bart surprised us all! Check out this Facebook live video!

Yep, we took a post run plunge in the Mad River!

After the run we hit a great local taco place in town called the Mad Taco. Not only did they have great food (Bart had the most wonderful yam enchiladas), but they also had a great assortment of craft beer and wine. My only complaint is that they didn't have Diet Coke (or Pepsi)!  

Chuck (Marathon Junkie) Engle and Bart enjoying the view back at the house after our run and swim.

 After a little nap back at the house, we headed to the race expo where Dori gave us our bibs. We then headed across the street to the Concert on the Mad River Green, featuring live music by Big Basin Band, a beer garden and a play area for the kids!

We then went for dinner and drinks at a great restaurant called Home Plate. This place had only been open 10 days, but the food and service was excellent!

The ladies room at Home Plate didn't have all the mirror in yet, but I thought this was cute!

The next morning we were up early for another 3 mile shake out run! After the run, we went to Mehuron's grocery store. There were a couple of things in there that had us rolling!

#Aisle5 was a running joke throughout the weekend. Chocolate syrup, razors and condoms? Sounds like all the supplies one needs for quite the party! Ha Ha!

This T-shirt says it all!

We then went to the farmer's market where we met two beautiful Oxen named Simon and Oliver! Bart paid for us all to take a ride around the park. See it in our Facebook live video.


Chuck Wagon!

I think this was Simon.

Jenn and I with Simon and Oliver!

After all this fun, we were starving for breakfast, so we went back to Timbers for a huge breakfast of cooked to order omelets, pancakes and grits!

Chuck's breakfast. YUM! (Photo credit: Chuck Engle)

Bart had to be back at the expo by 2:00 PM, so after a quick dip in the hot tub, we got showered and headed back. People were really excited to meet Bart and to buy his book. He is always so sweet to take photos and sign anything people want.

The packet pick up.

Bart and I at the expo.

After the expo the race had a really nice pasta dinner at the Waitsfield Inn. We had dinner then went back to the house and got ready for race day. It had been raining all day and the rain was supposed to continue into race day. Bart built a nice fire in the fireplace and we all sat around it and relaxed.

Bart knows how to make a good fire!

The alarm went off at 5:15 AM and we had breakfast, got ready, and made it to the start in time to see friends, get the Maniac picture and drop our extra clothes back in the car before Dori shot off the starting gun.

Maniacs gathered at the finish line before the race!

Larry Macon and I before the race!

Me, Bart, Dori and Jenn (with a photobomb by Chuck) at the start!

My plan was to run the entire race with Bart. We started and got to see this breathtaking yet difficult course together.

The hills on this course are no joke!

It rained off and on the entire race, but the people and the scenery made this race a blast!

Bart heading up the first big hill not even a mile into the race.

Everything is so green!

Bart and I feeling good! (Photo credit: Crystal Richard)

There were a lot of cows!

Am I in Utah? Hee Hee!

Bart heading through the covered bridge.

Such beautiful scenery!

Taking time for a selfie!


Such cute barns everywhere!

Covered bridge selfie!

We had to climb "The Dip" twice! 

Beautiful horses.


Baby cow!! Awwwww!

Bart taking another hill.

Foggy cow selfie!

One of the aid stations decorated by putting flowers in the street! I loved this!

We met a lot of nice people on the course, but Christy Varney and Tim Proctor were among the sweetest! This father/daughter duo were awesome! This was Christy's first marathon and her father (who had not run a marathon in seven years) came out of retirement to run with her. Losing my father at 19 years old, I am always touched when I see father's doing extraordinary things with their daughters. I was constantly impressed by how Tim ran those KILLER hills while the rest of us were walking! They ran a very smart race and took off the last 10K! CONGRATULATIONS to you both!

Bart and I at the finish with our new friends, Christy and Tim!

We also had a lot of fun with a group of folks from Arizona! We had a little get together at our place after the race and I swear, I laughed so hard I almost cried! We want to tag along on their next Grand Canyon (R2R2R)! They were a hoot!

Check out our Facebook live video at our party! 

After the party, Bart, Chuck, Jenn and I were invited to Dori and Ian's house for dinner. We talked, laughed and stuffed our faces with Italian food! It was so much fun.

We sleepily headed back to the house and hit the hay. Bart and I got up at 5:00 AM. We had a long drive back to Bethlehem, then Bart had to take me to the airport. I was sad to leave, but we had such a great weekend!

The Mad Bling!

The Mad Shirt!

I really cannot say enough great things about this race. Hilly? Yes! Beautiful? Oh yeah! It is the laid back and relaxed feeling of this race that I loved! EVERYONE was so friendly! If you are looking for a AMAZING race experience, do the Mad Marathon and Half Marathon!

HUGE THANK YOU!! To Dori, Ian and all the staff and volunteers for making us feel so welcome! You really know how to throw a party!

THANKS for the great times Chuck and Jenn! You guys were a blast to hang out with. Congrats on both your great races (Chuck was 2nd overall)!

BIGGEST THANKS to my Bart! You made this fun weekend possible for me. You are such a GREAT boyfriend! I love you baby! XXOO