Hollis Fast 5K – a tradition

Hollis Fast 5K – a tradition

Thursday, June 9, 2016 at 6:30

For the 4th year in a row, I ran the Hollis Fast 5K. This is a unique race in that it is always held on a Thursday evening in early June, is downhill, attracts very fast runners, and is often cloudy and drizzly.  This year, my goal was to help Sarah beat 30 minutes. For the first time, our husbands and children also ran although everyone at different speeds and this proved to be a great race for all. My husband 23:36.9 and my daughter 35:47.0 PRd and she finished with a smile on her face. She actually finished having fun and carrying her friend!


The evening was comfortable and clear – 63* and 48% humidity and we set off together. Our Garmins were giving us different numbers so we split the difference when figuring out if we should speed up or slow down. This was a mistake because in the end we fell short of our goal.

11 days after Vermont City Marathon, I crossed the line of the Hollis Fast 5K with my bestie, Sarah. [You can see her head to the left between the two women looking down to stop their watches.]

Hollis 2

Here are my results!

693 45 SANDRA MULDOWNEY     30:15.6 18:25


Vermont City Marathon

Vermont City Marathon

While Brian drove on Saturday, May 28th, I had a chance to read the runner’s guide as well as check out the course map.


We arrived at the expo at the Sheraton at 4, met one of my 5:00 pacers, and went to the New England double booth to get my bib and shirt. There was a short line. We walked the 5 aisles and left after getting a long sleeve 26.2 in 802 shirt. It was a decent medium sized expo, but we did not spend much time there because we wanted to get settled in our hotel.

At 5:30, we checked in at the Fairfield Inn in Williston, VT, which was under renovations and had a really bad smell downstairs. The only pool was outdoors and was closed. We got an all new room, with a king bed and sofa bed, which was nice! Lessons learned – ask where the room is in relation to the elevator and the ice machine – closer is not better in this case. Luckily it was not a problem at all this time! Breakfast room was open with food at check in – cereal, milk, yogurt, fruit – coffee and cookies too.

At 6:30, we left for dinner right down the street from the hotel and had a great meal! The Vermont Tap House is highly recommended.

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The next morning, I woke up at 5:30, showered, got a bagel and peanut butter from the breakfast area along with coffee. We left the hotel at 6:35. We parked on the street in downtown Burlington by 7am. I got my right knee taped and geared up before walking to the park near the start area. I used the porta potties twice and made it to my pace group with only 5 minutes to spare. The sun was blazing and my Garmin showed that it was 73* at the start at 8:09am. I was sweating in the first mile! The crowd support was amazing.

I stayed with my pace group until just after mile 6. I met up with 3 other runners who had also started with the 5:00 pacers, but dropped back like me. 2 were from the six03 group (April and Andy) and the other young woman – i don’t know except it was her 1st marathon. Miles 4-8 on the Burlington beltline were the most challenging in terms of heat, sun, and shade. They also ran out of water. I was grateful that I had my handheld water bottle because this lasted until we saw April’s fiance and he could refill it. I loved running through neighborhoods and having the residents helping us with hoses, sprinklers, and water stops. I ran with April for a few miles which was fun and we even stopped to take this picture.


The only time I saw Brian and Brenna was when I came through Battery Park after mile 15, although they saw me another time as well.

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I had no issues with anything hurting and felt great until about mile 16 when I started feeling nauseous. Yes. I was hot and sweaty but I had been hot and sweaty. Unfortunately, I did not follow my training nutrition plan. Don’t ask why because I don’t know why. Around mile 16, I went under a fireman’s hose and got completely soaked. All I could think about was my sloshing sneakers! Luckily, I didn’t make it too much farther before a volunteer told us that they had black flagged the race. It was just after mile 17 on North Ave. We were given the choice to go forward to a park where shuttle buses would pick us up or go back the way we came to another water stop to get picked up. I decided to go forward. Once I was in Leddy Park [which was part of the race course], I saw people making the decision to continue on the course. I could have cut across the parking lot and rejoined the course at mile 24 on the bike path, but did not feel right about crossing the finish line without having completed the 26.2 miles. It might have been faster than trying to figure out where to get the shuttle and the waiting around.  I boarded a bus back up top on North Ave. and was taken back towards the start area, although I was dropped off in a neighborhood and had to manage to find my way to the start. Thankfully, I met a guy, Brett [I think], and we walked together. He also recommended a restaurant for dinner which turned out to be very good.  

Once I was in Battery Park, I asked where I should go to get my medal. I was told Echo, but had no idea what or where that was, so I headed to an information tent for help. They directed me to the finish line where I was supposed to get the attention of a volunteer who would give me my medal. I was stopped and not allowed to enter the finish area, so I had to get the attention of a man who had just finished. I explained my situation and he approached a volunteer who told him that they could not give me my medal. I went back to the information tent and told them that they had given me misinformation and once again asked about Echo. Brian and Brenna were actually waiting there while I was going back and forth trying to figure out where to get my medal. Once I got to the other end of the park, I saw a line of shuttle buses dropping off runners and 4 volunteers handing out medals to people as soon as they got off the bus. Ugh! I was so frustrated. My bus didn’t get the memo!!!  Needless to say, I had no desire to stick around the finish area once I got my medal and reunited with Brian and Brenna. We did walk back toward the finisher’s food area, but I was disappointed in the offerings.

Today, I was scheduled to complete my 2nd marathon – The Vermont City Marathon, but unfortunately, the race was cancelled due to extreme conditions and too many casualties. This is where I was stopped after completing 18.5 miles.


North Shore 10 miler

North Shore 10 miler

Time: 9:00 AM
Date: Sunday, April 24, 2016

This was my second time doing this race, which had its inaugural running last year. This year, I ran it solo, but my husband and daughter were there at the start and finish to cheer me on. We arrived shortly after 8am and it was cold (46*), sunny, and windy.

The course was the same and is described as “gently rolling” hills following the first major hill up Castle Hill. It is a pretty, but challenging course with limited traffic on mostly country roads.

Pre race, there was limited communication via email and Facebook.


same shirt as last year, so no date or year,

no medal

no timing chip in bib

no photographer anywhere

only 10 port-a-johns 

There was a huge drop in partiipants – 620 in 2015 and 370 in 2016. The registration fee of $45 remained the same. they had water at each of the 3 stops and Gatorade at one.

About half way I thought I was doing okay because I was on track to beat 1:43, but I quickly realized that my time to beat was 1:34. At this point, I became discouraged since I did not think I could get a PR. Later I realized that there was a chance of beating my previous time, so I started to speed up around 8.5 miles. It was hard for me to pick up my pace but I did try to. mile 7 was my slowest and mile 10 was my fastest.



Post race, there was Smuttynose beer, Hint water, Stoneyfield yogurt, water, and pizza. We grabbed a few things and left.  On our way home, I checked my 2015 results and compared them to these results. I realized that I had to compare gun times and that is whe I realized that I had gotten a PR!


Official results:

Place: 191
Division Place: 35
Division: F4049
Finish: 1:34:19.0
Pace: 9:26


Vermont City Marathon

VCM training weeks 10-12

This round of training has been significantly more challenging than when I trained for MCM. Working full time plus, New England winter, Brenna’s activities, and sickness have all had an impact on my ability to get my training in. So, I did what I have heard countless times in yoga:


I used to ask myself “What does that mean?”  During Week 10, it meant resting as opposed to following the training plan 100%, which meant I did one short easy run on Thursday and my long run on Saturday (which I cut down from 16-18 to 14 miles). During week 11, I opted once again for more rest days, but did manage to get in two shorter runs and a 10 miler on Saturday. Listening to my body meant taking walk breaks during the weekday runs.  The result was I felt strong during my long run where I ran a NS 5 [10:05] and 5 [9:41]. The bottom line is I ran 36.5 miles for the first two weeks of this training cycle and ran 36.9 miles for week 3. I think the rest did me good. I was able to run 3 shorter runs and one LONG run [20 miles] during this stressful work week. I must say that my long run was great. The weather was sunny and 48* and I started out chilly wearing my mittens, short sleeve shirt, arm sleeves and capris. By mile 2, the mittens were off. I fueled with gels and some beans, and had my hydration pack. I managed to do a NS 10 [11:15] and 10 [10:14], which was probably a little fast for a long run with an average pace of 10:40. I did stop at mile 10 to change over from my audiobook [Fangirl] to music, as well as for a potty break in the woods. I am looking forward to receiving my new pair of Saucony Ride 8s from Amazon and beginning the last 6 weeks of my training for the Vermont City Marathon!


39th Annual New Bedford Half Marathon

39th Annual New Bedford Half Marathon

Sticking to 1 race per month, race #3 for 2016 was on Sunday, March 20th, 2016 at 11:00AM.

This was my first time running this race and I chose it for various reasons: price $55, location –  near my parent’s home, and timing – it fit in my training plan.

we stayed overnight in Somerset and then drove to New Bedford on the morning of the race. We parked in a parking garage a few blocks away from the start free of charge. We made our way to the start but Brian had to return to the car to put away his camera bag, since bags were not allowed. Brenna headed to bib pick up in the YMCA. I got my bib and shirt (a long sleeve navy tech shirt)   and used the real bathrooms and then headed out to reunite with Brian and head to the start line.


It was 37 and cloudy at the start and I had chosen to wear my new Athleta outfit along with my Saucony running mittens, which I was glad for.  I tried running with my hood, but the wind did not make that easy. I found that I went out a bit fast and then settled into a good pace. During the second half, I found myself running at a very comfortable pace – around 9:35, and tried to speed up. As I ran my last mile, I knew that a PR was possible. As I took the turn towards the finish line I saw Brian and Brenna and cheered. They then got me running towards the finish with my mittens in hand.

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My first half was faster than my second, but the latter half was also winter and more uphill.


I was so excited to get a PR by almost 3 minutes!

1523   135/292   F4049   SANDRA MULDOWNEY   44 F   963   2:03:12   9:25