Race Report: Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Hat Trick Challenge or Hey, did we tell you it was hot and hilly?..

We love us some Runner’s World and when we heard they were hosting a series of races that included the chance to run Heartbreak Hill of Boston Marathon fame – WITHOUT having to cut 1+ hours off our marathon times to qualify for the Boston Marathon – we were IN.

Our first Runner's World Cover...we're kinda a big deal (at least in our own minds...)!

Our first Runner’s World Cover…we’re kinda a big deal (at least in our own minds…)!

Why run just one race with Runner’s World when you can #RunAllTheRaces?!?!

The inaugural Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon & Festival took place on the campus of Boston College in Newton, MA, June 7 – 8, 2014. Thousands of runners – including kids and dogs – showed up for a weekend of racing, seminars, movies, and more.

We were ALL IN as usual and this entailed running the 5K, getting about a 30 minute break and then running the 10K on Saturday morning and then coming back for more in the form of a half marathon on Sunday morning.

Or, in the case of the Runner's World Heartbreak Hill Hat Trick, they eat us - 2 days in a row!

Or, in the case of the Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Hat Trick, they eat us – 2 days in a row!



The weekend included the privilege (or horror, depending on how you look at it) of running the infamous Heartbreak Hill and surrounding Newton hills 4 TIMES. Yep, you read that correctly, 4 TIMES. #RunAllTheNewtonHills

Down Heartbreak Hill and Kelley Hill at the beginning of the 10K (Opportunity #1), a 3 mile-ish “break” [NOTE: The course description states that the course flattens after Kelley Hill. We will tell you that FLAT is a relative term…it was “flat” only if you call “flat” not going up a giant hill], followed by slogging back UP Kelley Hill and Heartbreak Hill at Miles 5 – 6 (Opportunity #2). And another chance to get at it during the Half Marathon the next day. Down Heartbreak Hill and Kelley Hill – this time at Mile 3 (Opportunity #3) – before getting a 5 mile-ish “break” and the final opportunity to conquer the hills of Newton at Miles 10 – 13 (Opportunity #4).

We weren’t the only crazy people to come out and take on Heartbreak Hill. We got the chance to see, run with, and meet TONS of our runner friends, which made the weekend (and the hills) worth every sore leg muscle.

Mickey Milers: Caryn, Jennifer Teig Von Hoffman, Liam Scribner-MacLean, Mike Scopa, Perfect Goofy Gail, Michelle Scribner-MacLean, Rudy Novotny, and Kimberly doing “The Eddie.”

Stop running and take a photo? Sure (we're up for ANY reason to take a break)! Alison Jakeman Nicklas, Perfect Goofy Gail, the Heartbreak Hill Running Company Gorilla (he was out BOTH days cheering us on), Kimberly, and Pamela Potter Frost.

Stop running and take a photo? Sure (we’re up for ANY reason to take a break)!
Alison Jakeman Nicklas, Perfect Goofy Gail, the Heartbreak Hill Running Company Gorilla (he was out BOTH days cheering us on), Kimberly, and Pamela Potter Frost.












So just how bad IS Heartbreak Hill?

On paper it doesn’t seem so bad. It climbs a mere 88 feet over four-tenths of a mile.  It only goes up at a grade of 3.3%.  What makes it so hard, aside from running it several times over the same weekend, is that it is the first or last of the series of 4 Newton hills (depending on whether you were coming or going on the Runner’s World courses). The thought of hitting this series of hills in the UP direction at Mile 21-ish of the Boston Marathon makes our legs hurt just thinking about it!

Hey Pammy, did we tell you it was hot and Hilly?..  Note the forced smiles - and we're not even at the up portion of the Newton hills yet!

Hey Pammy, did we tell you it was hot and Hilly?.. Note the forced smiles – and we’re not even at the up portion of the Newton hills yet!

Add to the hills of Newton the heat and humidity of a New England summer’s day and we couldn’t resist commenting on how hot and hilly it was to everyone and anyone that would listen – especially our friend Pammy – who joined us on Sunday for the Half Marathon.

In spite of the heat and the hills, we managed to take enough pictures and video for a recap of the entire weekend.  Good news is that by the 10K and Half Marathon we were “running” slow enough that everything is in perfect focus 😀

NOTE: Bonus points for doing a burpee every time we mention that it’s hot or hilly or hot and hilly!


Check out the 2014 Participant Guide here.

If you are interested in receiving notification when next year’s event dates are announced, click here.

#RunAllTheRaces #GetAllTheBling


Have you qualified for Boston and run this storied course only to experience Heartbreak Hill at Mile 21? Do you dream of racing up Heartbreak Hill? Tell us about it!

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @RunAllTheRaces and like us on Facebook/runalltheraces.

Perfect Goofy Gail & (soon to be Delightful Dopey) Kimberly

P.S. Hey, did we tell you it was hot and hilly?..


2014 Providence Full and Half Marathon Race Report

The view from the Biltmore start of the full marathon

The view from the Biltmore start of the full marathon

Perfectly Goofy Gail joined me on the east coast to run the Providence Marathon.  This race would be our first non runDisney race run together!

Bib pick up

Bib pick up

We would be running with our runDisney pal, Pammy and my Hartford Marathon & Glastonbury River Runners training pals Janice and Karen.

Providence, Rhode Island is a short 2 hour drive from Connecticut.  Pam & I arrived mid afternoon to quickly hit the expo to pick up our bibs.  I was downgrading from the Full to the Half Marathon per my doctor’s orders.  It was a simple bib switch and took less than 5 minutes to exchange – however, I was not refunded the difference in my race fees – keep this in mind when switching.

Providence Half and Full Swag - only thing different is the tech

Providence Half and Full Swag – only thing different is the tech


Race swag included coupons, Advil, snacks and a short sleeve tech.  Gail was flying in later and we were supposed to pick up her bib & tech, but lost our minds and didn’t remember until 5-minutes AFTER the expo closed – OOOOPS!  Pammy managed to get into the expo and retrieve Gail’s bib, but forgot about her swag bag – EPIC FAIL!

The Providence Marathon Expo was extremely small.  So small if you blinked you would have missed it.  They did have runner necessities booth for items like closeout shoes, glide, ear buds, and Gu, but it would have been better to find a local running shop if you had forgotten something important for this race.

Nice king beds

Nice king beds

We stayed at the Providence Biltmore.  The location was right across from the green of the start and finish line.  Pam had reserved a 1 bedroom suite with 2 king size beds. The hotel was recently remodeled and it was beautiful.  The room had two TV’s, free WiFi and a small fridge.  PERFECT!

Perfectly Goofy Gail’s Perspective on running the Providence Marathon:

I was excited to run this race, as I had deferred from running the marathon last year due to work commitments (I had run the half marathon here a few years ago when I lived in Massachusetts).

As luck would have it, Kimberly and Pammy were able to make the short trip over from Connecticut and join me.

Perfect Goofy Gail in Action (Prior to Windapalooza)

Pammy had reached out to me a few weeks prior to the race and said that she was hoping to PR this race, with a goal of 5:30. We spent a few days determining our strategy, as well as figuring out what run/walk intervals we would use during the race to set Pammy up for success.  This would be my first time assisting a fellow runner in attempting to PR a race (usually it’s me getting the help).

I was really looking forward to having the goal of getting Pammy to her PR since my last attempt at marathon #4 for the year did not go so well.  You can read about my DNF-ish race attempt here.

The race started about 15 minutes late, as there was an on-course issue the race organizers wanted to clear up prior to letting everyone run free on the streets. Cox RhodeRaces had a drone with a GoPro film the start of the race – pretty cool stuff.  If you’re looking for Pammy and I, we were just about the last ones to cross the start line ;).

Pammy had trained with 20/20 intervals and that was how we started the race.  The weather was perfect – blue skies and about 50 degrees.  The first hour ticked away and we covered 5 miles.  We were on track for a great race.  The next hour passed and we clicked off another 5 miles.  We were holding a steady pace and felt good.

Changing my training pace/intervals (I normally run 1:30/30) to match a pace I hadn’t trained at did have an impact.  We hit the halfway (13.1 miles) mark still at a steady pace, but I was beginning to feel the impact of running Pammy’s shorter intervals in my hips and upper thighs.  I ended up needing to stop at stretch about 19 miles in and I was beginning to worry my grumpy hips were going to rob Pammy of her PR.  Pammy was a good sport and, while I offered to let her run ahead, she vowed that we started together and that we would end together.

Pammy getting her Marathon PR (and me capturing the moment on my phone). Woo-hoo! Check out her guns 😉

Right after mile 19, the wind really began to pick up – to the point where it was blowing us backwards and sideways.  We spent a mile or so switching up our intervals to try and find the right mix for both of us and to combat the effects the near hurricane strength winds were having on our speed and form.  Over the last 4 miles, we ended up power walking a portion as it was not worth the effort to try and run against the wind.

In the midst of all of the interval changes and overbearing winds, we figured out that while we were not going to exactly make our 5:30 goal, we were still going to get Pammy her PR!.

We finished with a time of 5:38, only 8 minutes off the plan.  I believe we would have made 5:30 (if not even a bit less) if it weren’t for the winds.  I’ve NEVER run in winds like this before – I kept expecting Dorothy and the Wicked Witch to go blowing by 😉

The course was great and there was tons of support along the way.  Lots of water, Gatorade, bananas, and BOOM! at each of the water stops.  A few rolling hills, but all in all, a great course that I would run again.

Kimberly’s Perspective on running the Providence Half Marathon:

I said goodbye to my friends as they left the hotel to begin the Providence Full at 7:30am.  You can read about my emotional breakdown of having to downgrade from the full to the half marathon here and my acceptance of running my 25th half marathon here.  My goal was to enjoying running the race and take notes for next year when I would run the full marathon.

The half shared the start and finish of the full.  It began a half hour later at 8am.  There weren’t any corral placements, so you could line up where you wanted.  There were pacers, but I didn’t pay attention to the times offered since I was planning on walking the marathon and just finishing.

Kimberly running into the finish...

Kimberly running into the finish…

Normally I carry water or NUUN when using the run/walk/run method, but since I was mainly walking I wore the basic Fitletic belt.  The course had plenty of water stops which were well staffed offering both water and Gatorade.  However, by the time I reached the Gu station, they were out of supplies.  It’s good to not rely on others if you are a back of the pack runner at this event and knowing this, I bought my own gels.

The half course was relatively flat except for two hills.  The wind was a factor once we hit the river.  Full-on in-your-face gusts of wind were holding us back.  The only place the course was a little sketchy was at the river front park.  There was a small section of cobblestones and gravel, but other than that it was an excellent course.  Please note that the half and full marathons do share parts of the same course.  At mile 24/11, I encountered the full marathoners passing me running into the finish, but instead of being dejected, I choose the opportunity to use their energy and draft behind.

Once I got within a 1/2 mile of the finish, I began to see spectators cheering in the runners.  I crossed the finish strong to receive my 25th half marathon medal!  I received my medal, took photos, and went through the food line.  Recovery food included a bottle of Gatorade, water, bars, banana and a wrap.  Please note by the time my full marathon friends crossed the finish at over 5 hours the food was gone.

I went back to the hotel to shower and then back down to the finish to cheer on my friends!

Check out our friend, Pammy’s, post at wifemotherrunner.com

Have you ever helped a friend PR or have to downgrade a race? 

Perfect Goofy Gail & (soon to be Delightful Dopey) Kimberly