I Joined a Harry Potter Themed Virtual Running Club and It’s the Best Thing Ever!

Well, that title pretty much says it all, but I’ll give you the nitty gritty details anyway because I think my husband has probably heard enough statements starting with, “So, in the Hogwarts Running Club…” J/K, he can’t wait for my daily report. 🙂  Previously, it was “Guess what I read about cloth diapers….” so I’m sure this is actually quite a refreshing change. (BTW is anyone interested in what I read about cloth diapers??? I have LOTS to say! hahaha) Anyways, I’m getting off track.  Let’s start at the beginning.

A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away…..wait, wrong universe!

Really, though, I have been following The Hogwarts Running Club (HRC) on Facebook for maybe 2 or 3 years. I’m a huge Harry Potter fan and as soon as I heard about HRC, I was all, “sign me up!!!”. But I didn’t really sign up. For whatever reason, I just watched from the sidelines. (ugh.. Past Amy is the worst!)

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The kind of awesome thing that gets posted in the HRC

Now fast forward to this January. I was contemplating running a half marathon in March, and in order to have any hope of making this possible, I needed to get my butt in gear (and fast). To do this, I decided to sign up for my first HRC virtual race, which had just opened for registration.  In general, virtual races don’t motivate me to quite the same extent as in person races, but having a 5k on the calendar (virtual or otherwise) would at least push me to run 5k, my current distance being a tad shy of that. Plus I’d get a themed medal, and the money goes to charity.  Both good things. It was signing up for this race that spurred me to find out more and really become a member of the HRC.

Here’s a little Q & A-

How does a virtual running club work?

This is the only virtual running club I’ve ever belonged to so I can’t really give you a one size fits all description, but this particular club is a virtual community (on Facebook) of runners who all love Harry Potter and motivate each other to run. There are themed virtual races and competitions.

What makes this one Harry Potter themed?

First of all, the virtual races have Harry Potter themes. The one I registered for was the Alaster “Mad Eye” Moody Constant Vigilance 5k. They also have a yearly Platform 9 3/4K. Additionally, members join one of four houses (or designate themselves as faculty/independent) and miles are tracked between houses for a year long House Cup competition.

How do I become a member of the Hogwarts Running Club?

Anyone can follow the Hogwarts Running Club on Facebook. To really join up, though, you need to request to join the closed Facebook group “The Great Hall”. From there you can read all the relevant info about the club, and go on to join the Facebook group associated with your house.

How do you pick a house?

The official recommendation is to be sorted on Pottermore.com or take another online quiz. I went with Pottermore and was sorted into Gryffindor. (This surprised me, I thought I’d be Ravenclaw for sure). When it really comes down to it though, you have final say. According to club rules you can even join two houses for a couple weeks to find out where you fit in best. And this is important, because your house is where you get most of your motivation.

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I knit this as a gift, but couldn’t resist trying it on myself. (And pretending to cast a spell with my knitting needle wand)

How are miles tracked?

HRC uses the Charity Miles app to track miles for the house cup. They ask you to join both the HRC team and your house team within the app, so total miles can be tracked as well as the house specific miles. These miles are tallied each week and houses are awarded points depending on miles per person for that week. This week, there is a special challenge and it’s Gryffindor/Slytherin vs Hufflepuff/Ravenclaw teams.  Right now, Gryffindor is in last place for the House Cup, and this fact has been MAJOR motivation to get me moving!

Anything else?

There is definitely a charity aspect to this running club. Registration fees for the virtual races go to charity (and they are tax deductible!) and Charity Miles is used for tracking mileage. HRC is run by a non-profit, and there is a lot of encouragement to log more miles in order to do #somuchgood

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I’ll never get a letter from Hogwarts; I’ve got this though!

I hope this helps explain the Hogwarts Running Club. This whole experience has been really great so far. Most importantly because it’s gotten me so excited about running! I strongly encourage any other running Harry Potter fans to check it out!

Need more info? http://www.hogwartsrunningclub.org/faq.html

Hack the App: Charity Miles

By now, I’m sure that many of you have heard of the charity miles app, (in which case feel free to skip the rest of this paragraph), but if you haven’t here’s a quick description. The app allows you to earn money for charity with each workout you do (run/walk/bike). Once you have downloaded the app and made an account, it’s a pretty quick process to get going. You select your charity from a list of options (I usually run for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America), choose your activity (run/walk indoor, run/walk gps, bike gps), and press go! It’s that easy! There are some additional features (you can join teams, post your runs to social media, and snap a photo of your run), but this is essentially a charity app, not a running app, so it would be used in addition to a running app, if that’s your cup of tea.

Anywho , I recently started using the app again after a long break. For a while I had a lot of technical issues with getting the app to work, so I stopped using it. Then, I got a new phone and never reinstalled it…you know the drill. I’ve come back to it in the last couple of weeks, though because I joined a (super awesome) virtual running club (more on this later), that uses the app to track miles for friendly competitions, as well as to encourage the use of the app to do #somuchgood.

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Within charity miles, I’m on a team associated with my running club, and any miles I run are automatically tallied under the team total. There are multiple teams associated with the club and we are essentially in competition with each other. And that’s where “hacking” the app comes in. Because really, whenever something is a competition, there’s bound to be some…ahem…creative…ways to win.

I know what you’re thinking, (cough..cheater…cough cough) but I promise there are ways to hack the app that are not cheating. And both Charity Miles and my running club encourage it. Obviously, sitting on the couch with the app on pedometer mode and jiggling your arm is a no go, as is putting the app on gps mode while you’re driving, but there are so many “approved” ways to hack the app, and you don’t have to be even slightly devious to come up with them. Hacking the app is basically turning it on any time you’re doing some kind of physical activity: walking to work, shoveling snow, vacuuming, etc.

Today, I’m hacking the app for the first time. In the most non-creative way possible: I turned on pedometer mode when I got up and it’s recording any movement I make all day (sadly very little with my desk job); but it has definitely inspired me to get up and move around just a tiny bit more than usual. I feel like I have this fun secret…I’m raising money (I think I’ve raised a whole 25 cents so far today..haha!) AND I’m getting miles for my team. (We’re currently in last place, so the situation is DIRE.)

At first I thought it was weird and a little wrong, but since it is encouraged (search #hacktheapp on Instagram) by both Charity Miles and my running club, I figured I should give it a try. And really, the end result is that I: a) raise more money for charity b) am more active, and c) have a little fun. How can that be wrong?

Do you use charity miles? Do you hack the app?

I’ve Got a Goal!

Hi! It’s been a couple weeks, so let’s catch up. In my last post, I was super eager to sign up for a half marathon through my work even though I have almost no time to prep, and I’m not physically at my best.  I got some great suggestions on how I could make it happen with run/walk and not putting pressure on myself, but in the end I’ve decided not to sign up for the half.

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Fortunately, it turns out that this year, for the first time, they are also holding a 5 mile race!  I’m going to do this instead! While I’m still craving long distance; the 5 miler will be exciting for other reasons;  I haven’t run a 5 mile race in a long time, and I think I might have a chance to PR!  Although 8 weeks isn’t enough time for me to train well for a half, it should be plenty of time to train well for 5 miles!

I feel good about this decision.  I’m so glad they added a 5 miler. Prior to getting pregnant and taking a running break, I was itching to run a 5 miler because my current PR was below my fitness level. I was sure I could PR a 5 miler if I could just find one to run. At my current fitness, it’s pretty much the only distance I have any hope of even coming close to my current PR; so it gives me a little challenge that wouldn’t be there for a 5k or even a 10k. And I think a little challenge is part of what I wanted to get out of the half marathon.

Current PR: The Run to Remember ::: Boston, MA ::: May 25th, 2008 ::: 52:43

Another thing that I realized with my crazy desire to sign up for the half is that I want to do long runs again. When thinking about the half, I really didn’t know how I could fit in runs that might end up taking 2 hours. But I’m pretty sure I can find one hour! So, I’m going to take my current 30 min run and lengthen it at least once per week.  That should be a good starting point. With any luck, I’ll be able to get a half marathon on the schedule sometime in 2017.

Note: My hometown turkey trot is 8k (4.97 miles) and I have run that numerous times, but I haven’t run an official 5 mile race since 2008.

Good Idea/Bad Idea

Alright, let’s play a game called “Good idea or Bad idea”!

Here’s how it works: I’ll tell you about my life, then ask you a question about whether I should run a half marathon, and you tell me if it’s a good idea or a bad idea. (Spoiler alert! It’s a bad idea, but I want to do it anyways, so tell me it’s a good idea. wink wink!)

Here’s some background-

  •  The company I work for has a program that pays race entries for employees and their friends/family (with some restrictions)
  • Since I moved at the end of July 2015, a lot of the races are local to me, but I’ve only been able to participate in 1 so far (due to the time of year, pregnancy, general busyness)
  • They just sent an email with the spring schedule of races which has a half marathon on the list that’s in the next town over
  • I have not run more than 5 miles since, hmmm….well, it’s been over a year
  • The aforementioned 5 miles happened once…Turkey Trot 2016, aside from that I mostly run/walk no more than 4 miles at a time (3 times a week, at best)
  • In the last 3 weeks, I have run once….2 miles, and I walked a good chunk
  • I am studying for an exam that is at the end of April, and while I wouldn’t say it’s going poorly, I will admit that I am doing the bare minimum and struggling to get that done. (I say this to insinuate that I have no time for training, and if I somehow make time for training, I should really be using that time for studying instead)

To recap- I am in no shape (physically) to run a half marathon, I have almost zero time to train for a half marathon, and yet… I WANT TO RUN THIS HALF MARATHON!!!  And it would be FREE!

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Finishing my last half, which was apparently almost 3 years ago! Gosh, has it really been so long??!

So, here’s the big question: Good Idea or Bad Idea?

Oh, also it’s in like 9 weeks.

Talk me into or out of it, please!

 

Lean, Mean, 2017!

Hi There!

Anyone still out there? If so, glad to see you again; I hope 2016 treated you well. 🙂

Let’s see…how do I do this again? I think I might have forgotten how to blog. I suppose should give a little explanation of where I disappeared to.  You see, I feel weird writing in my running blog when it’s not about running, and 2016 did not see a lot of running. And certainly not a lot of exciting running. So, I thought about blogging many many times, but never actually put pen to paper (so to speak). The second reason is just not having time. I know I can make time, but since I wasn’t particularly sure what to write about, I didn’t. That’s pretty much it – not a lot of time and not much running news.

The thing is, though, 2016 was a big year around here. HUGE, actually. There were honestly a million things I could have written about. Non-running related things, but also little running adventures, hurdles, and victories. Lots of things I could have shared that I just didn’t. My bad. I’m going to try to be better about this in 2017. Pinky swear.

So to catch you back up, here’s a short list of the most important things that happened in 2016-

  1. I HAD A BABY!

Yep, you read that right. I had a baby. Nope, I didn’t even breathe a word about this on the blog. But it happened, I SWEAR.

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PROOF! 

And, I still have that baby; he lives with us now. Which is just fine because he’s the best baby. I’m not just saying that because he’s mine and I’m biased. He is actually the best baby.

SURPRISE!

Good list, right? It was a good year.

On the running front, the short version is I ran until it sucked, then I stopped. I started up again when I was cleared by my doctor, and ran consistently until Christmas when I took a short break that I’m hoping to end this weekend. At some point, I’ll try to do a post on running while pregnant and about my not so glorious comeback.

Until next time….

 

New Year, New You

It’s a new year, and that can mean only one thing….it’s resolution season!

Ten bucks says you can’t guess even one of my resolutions…j/k! I’m sure you’ve figured out that blogging is on the list.

It’s been so long, I’m not sure I even remember how to do this.

Today, Jeff and I hiked around the state park for a little while. It’s getting a bit chilly out there, but hiking in Fall/Winter kicks summer hiking’s butt…there are no bugs, few people, and it’s not hot. Win, Win, Win!

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I also rode the recumbent bike for the length of one episode of the Good Wife. (42ish minutes) I recently figured out that the 6th season is available on Amazon Prime, so I started re-watching the series. I’m currently on season 2. If it takes me long enough, maybe the 7th season will also be on Prime by the time I make it through all 6.

Between the hiking and the biking, we had one of my favorite lunches of all time…grilled cheese! Not my best grill job, but still delicious. With pickles, gold fish crackers, and root beer on the side. Then, I followed it up with a couple oreos because if you’re eating a kid lunch, you better do it right.

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I’ve been off work for two whole weeks now, and I have to go back to work tomorrow, and it is so totally depressing. You know those people that say they get bored when they’re off work doing nothing, or that feel refreshed and ready to jump back in after time off…..I am not one of them. If anyone has instructions on how to be one of those people, forward that along.

So the plan this week is to go to work and study, and just make it through to the weekend. Ideally, I’d also like to do some running, but let’s not set the bar too high. 🙂

Happy New Year!

Michael’s Run 5k: Hopkinton, MA Precap!

What’s a Precap you say? Well, I finally have some free time and I’m in the mood to blog, so here’s my chance to say “Hey, ya’ll, I’m runnin’ one of them 5k thing-a-ma-jigs this weekend!”

My work has this program that allows employees to create teams to participate in local races, and if enough people sign up, they will pay the registration fees. After nearly a year of working here, this is the first one I’ve signed up to be a part of. They didn’t really sponsor any races in the winter, and then most of the others have either been too far or didn’t fit with my schedule, so when this one came up that is located just 10 minutes from my house on an open weekend I figured I didn’t have anything to lose.

Plus…I get a t-shirt from work in addition to the race shirt. Score!

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I was feeling fat the day I signed up, so opted for medium instead of my usual small…not my best decision.

So, this Saturday after I take my work photo at 9:45 AM, I’ll be lining up near the start of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, MA for Michael’s Run 5k. I have been slacking pretty hard in my running lately, but I’m not too worried for this race. It’s the half marathon I’m doing next weekend that has me a little concerned. 😉

How not to worry about being undertrained for a 5k? Easy! Be even more undertrained for a half the following weekend!! Haha. Running tips by Amy.

Now, off to bed…I’m going to attempt to get up early for a run tomorrow.