Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Beginner or Intermediate? Training Program Selection

The official Cherry Blossom =PR= Training Program came out on Sunday night and I was so excited to get it!  The email was very detailed and included 9 attachments - an overview of the training, the actual schedule, and information on everything from stretching to running mechanics to core workouts.  The quality of information is great.  And the quantity is great - it took me several days to fully digest it all!

The most important thing for me to determine was which training plan I would follow.  We received Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced programs.  I knew I wasn't in the advanced camp.  Egotistically, I like to think of myself as an intermediate runner, since I have been doing this for a while and have built up a bit of base.  However, the relevant question isn't whether I am an intermediate runner, it is whether I would classify myself as an intermediate "mid-distance" runner.

When the question is re-phrased to include mid-distance, my answer becomes pretty clear.  A beginner is defined in the overview as someone whose goal is to finish the race.  They may not have ever completed 10 miles before (or it's been a while).  Seeing as my last 10-mile race was 19 years ago, I think I fit the beginner category pretty solidly.

So I proceeded to log the training plan on my calendar.  Longer runs on Sundays with the training group, and then two runs during the week of shorter duration.  Logging these on my calendar is key for me to succeed given the demands of my work and home life.  It was important that I identify which days I can fit them in and make the calendaring commitment to myself.  The training plan also includes track workouts on Tuesday evenings with the training group, which are optional for the beginners.  I hope to make some of these, but I'm not going to make them my priority or beat myself up when I miss them.

Today is Wednesday and I did a four mile run at a very easy pace.  My plan called for 2-4.  On Friday I will log another 2-3, and I am looking forward to the long run on Sunday with the group.  Sunday run bonus - the Brooks rep will be at =PR= and we can try out their new Transcend shoe!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Successful Training Kick-Off and Run

This morning we successfully kicked-off Cherry Blossom 10-miler training at Reston Potomac River Running.  As I was getting dressed this morning, I wasn't sure that we were really running.  The welcome letter described our session as an informal kick-off followed by an optional run.  What did "optional" run mean to people?  I knew it was cold out (around 20 degrees) and that the trail where we would usually run was still iced over.  So I put on all of my cold-weather gear, but wasn't sure if I would walk into a room full of people who were similarly dressed or not.

I needn't have wondered - this was a crowd of people who were ready to run!  I think there were about 40 of us, and everyone was dressed for the weather.  We checked in with the coaches and then Head Coach Shannon Scalan (who could be a stand-up comedian if she wanted to) spoke with us about the program, what to expect, how to be safe on the trails.

Then she encouraged us to make new friends while we ran and helped us split up into slower and faster runners.  It was such a relief to me to see so many of us head to the back of the store where the 10-12 minute runners were connecting.  We exchanged names and there was some discussion about layers and socks and gloves as we all geared up to head out into the cold.  Since the trail was indeed iced over, we were going to run laps around Reston Town Center.

We headed out and I waited for my garmin to connect to the satellites.  It did not connect.  I watched the group head off without me and flailed my arm around in the sky to get a signal.  It still did not connect.  But I was not alone!  I met a runner named Nina and her garmin was working.  She suggested we run together and rely on hers. 

We ran three laps around the town center for a total of 3.7 miles in 46 minutes.  We fell into an easy conversation about running, work, and life in general.  Nina has run the Cherry Blossom 5 or 6 times, the GW Parkway Classic a couple of times, and has run the Chicago Marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon, and the Savannah marathon.  I learned a lot listening to her talk about her various race experiences and everything she has learned from training with PR over the last decade or so.  I was grateful for the company and the information, and Nina was great about slowing down or walking when I needed a break.  And I could tell she runs for the enjoyment of running, which is always great to see.  I felt lucky and inspired to be running with her.

Afterwards we stopped back at the store to check out with the coaches.  Shannon suggested that I connect my garmin to my computer and check for any firmware updates, especially since this was the second week in a row that I had satellite connection problems.  There are tall building in the town center that sometimes cause problems, but last week we were on the trail where there shouldn't have been any issues.  Sure enough, there was a firmware update that I hadn't installed, and hopefully that solves the problem.  I get very frustrated when technology doesn't work the way it is supposed to!

Later tonight we should get our training plan and I am really looking forward to seeing everything laid out in a fancy excel spreadsheet!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Training Begins!

I am very excited that the Potomac River Cherry Blossom 10-miler training program kicks off this weekend!  We got our welcome email on Thursday afternoon and it made me feel so official.  I'm especially looking forward to being part of the group, running with people who are training for the same goal as I am. 

Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run

We will have our informal kickoff Sunday morning at the PR store to meet with our coaches and talk about the program.  Then there will be an optional run after that.  Sunday night is when we will get the actual training plan, and I'm really anxious to see the plan and what the goals are each week.  I'm hoping that seeing the plan will make it seem more realistic in my mind, help me believe that I can really do this!

I haven't run a 10-mile race since 1995.  And that race sent me to physical therapy for patellofemoral pain, aka runner's knee.  So I'm nervous.  Can I really pull this off?  Run this far without injuring myself?  Run fast enough to finish before the course limit of 2 hours and 20 minutes?  There is a lot of self doubt mixed in with my excitement.  But I know that I am training with great coaches who will help me build both the physical and mental capabilities I will need to accomplish my goal.  I can't wait to get started!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Finally...Fairfax Four Miler Recap (2013)

Nearly 3 weeks after the Fairfax Four Miler on New Year's Eve I am finally blogging about it.  I was waiting until the race pictures came out since I hadn't taken any selfies of my glow-stick tricked-out self.  And now that the photos are out, I still have no real pictures.  I am way off to the left in the photo below, having just crossed the finish line and feeling pretty triumphant.  But you can't really see my glow stick bling, can you?  Ah well.

This was my first night race and I was excited to get into the spirit of the event with some fluorescent bling.  Those of you who have been following my blog may remember that I promptly ruined my packet pickup glow stick when I bumped it while shopping in Pacers.  And then I promptly ruined the replacement glow stick they gave me when I bumped it on the door on the way out.  So I headed out to Five Below on the advice of some friends (how have I never been to this store before - I was both impressed and a little afraid...).  There I found glow stick earrings, bracelets, and what I thought were necklaces but turned out to just be sticks.  My assessment is that only the bracelets were functional...the earrings were ridiculous and didn't stay on and the glow sticks without connectors weren't particularly practical for a race.  But I made some nice chains and hung them off my jacket with safety pins.

The energy of the crowd was great and I was amazed by how many families were running a four mile race.  There are lots of young kids out there who are fast and have great endurance! The volunteers were awesome.  It was uplifting to hear so many wishes of "Happy New Year" while running the race.  And one guy was like an auctioneer yelling out race bib numbers and encouragement - he was so motivating!  I was also highly amused by a couple of girls running behind me and discussing their party plans for the evening:
  • Girl 1: I can't wait to drink champagne after this.
  • Girl 2: I know.  I bought two bottles.
  • Girl 1: Did you get this good stuff?
  • Girl 2: Yeah.  It's usually $13 but was on sale for $7.
I was not interested in having champagne after the race (we did have the Commitment Day 5k the next morning, after all), but I was definitely looking forward to the hot pizza in the Town Hall and let me say it definitely did not disappoint!  I enjoyed every last bite as I walked through the bubble machine out front and watched the last of the field cross the finish line.

I was pleased to have a new PR for the distance, crossing in 47:20.  My fancy Garmin also alerted me that I had set a new 5k PR during the race, 35:53.  That was especially exciting, and it signals that I better step up my pace for the upcoming Run Your Heart Out 5k on February 9th!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Fairfax Four Miler...Waiting for Pictures!

It seems like I've been waiting forever to blog about the Fairfax Four Miler, which was on New Year's Eve 2013. 

Why am I waiting? 
  • Because I have no pictures of this incredibly cool and photogenic race.
Why do I have no pictures?
  • Because I planned on taking pictures when I linked up with Gina and her friends, and then I never did connect with them!

I decided I would wait to blog until the pictures from Swim Bike Run Photography were available.  And it has seemed like an excruciating wait.  I've grown to have unkind feelings towards  the lovely young woman from the Jingle All the Way 5k splash page, because seeing her face on the Pacers Events page is the signal that the Fairfax Four Miler Pictures are not yet up.

I realize how spoiled I have become by the Potomac River Running Race Photos.  Their pictures typically start to appear on the flickr page mere hours after the finish of the race.  So I'm used to same day, free, photos.  What a sense of entitlement I have, huh? 

Now the downside of these quick photo postings is that they aren't tagged by bib number like the Pacers photos will be.  So you do have to scroll through many photos to find photos of yourself, your friends, and your family.  I've gotten pretty good at identifying where the photos were taken on the course and matching up the finish line results with the pictures I'm looking at so I know when someone should pop up in the photos.  We are also used to wearing distinctive colors or hats so we can find ourselves easily.  And another cool thing is that you are scrolling through all of the pictures, so you really do "see" the race and the many participants.

I will blog about the Fairfax Four Miler when the photos go up. In the meantime, here a couple of photos from the SBRP facebook page to tide us over.  I can't wait to see the rest of the photos (which irony says will likely be posted soon after this blog post goes live...)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Free Running Clinics & Events

This blog post is about the free running clinics and events that are available and why you should go!  My favorite clinics are through Potomac River Running.   You can learn about form, get help with injuries, and so much more.

Many of the locations have free injury clinics once a month.  In October, I went to the injury clinic at PR Fairfax for help with a strained Achilles and twisted ankle.  I met with a sports chiropractor who was very helpful.  I had a few follow-up appointments with him in his office (optional - there is no pressure or obligation during the free clinic to schedule a follow-on) and it really helped me get back on my feet and running quickly. 

Last summer I went to a special Ladies Night event at PR Fairfax.  I took home samples of clif shot bloks and clif gu, a mirror, and a nail file.  We tried out balega socks and learned about sports bras.  There were lots of cool giveaways, and I won a $25 gift certificate.  The staff at PR Reston had fun teasing my husband later in the week when he redeemed a gift certificate that was labeled "ladies night", by the way.

Tomorrow, I am crazy enough to be attending two PR events!  In the morning, I'm going to PR Fairfax for a Running Wellness Event.  This sounds really cool - 30 minutes at PR focused on running and 30 minutes at Studio Be Pilates to learn about Pilates for runners.  I'm excited to learn more and I'm excited for the potential discounts from PR, the Pilates Studio, and Lucy.  Unsurprisingly, this limited attendance event is already full.  Keep an eye on the calendar for similar events in the future.

The evening event is at PR Reston - a seminar with the amazing Margie Shapiro on training smart & the basics of hydration/nutrition during long runs.  I've been told to make sure I bring a notebook to capture all of the wisdom I will receive!  This event is still open, and will be repeated later in the month at PR Arlington and PR Ashburn if you can't make it tomorrow.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Running Magazines - Some for Free!

There are several running magazines that I enjoy reading.  I get lots of great information and inspiration from them.  The magazines I read regularly are:
All of these magazines have great websites (linked above) where you can find tons of information.  But you might even be able to get the digital magazines for free!  I read the first three magazines on Zinio, an impressive digital newsstand.  I usually access Zinio on my iPad, and sometimes on my computer. 

You can subscribe to magazines annually through Zinio, or buy single issues.  Or, depending on your local library, you may be able to check Zinio magazines out for free.  And once you've checked a magazine out, it remains in your library forever.  It doesn't expire like other library materials do.  My library has Zinio magazines and includes both Runners World and Running Times.  So I check them out when they become available (usually the newsstand release date) and then they show up in my Zinio library.

Competitor magazine doesn't seem to be available on Zinio, so I have it in my iPad newsstand.  Like Zinio, you can subscribe annually or you can buy single issues.  Last year, I bought single issues which were only 99 cents.  But a couple of weeks ago I got a message that all issues of Competitor magazine were now free!  An annual subscription still costs money, but I was able to download the current issue and some back issues that I didn't have at no cost.  I don't know how long this offer will be available, so you might want to check it out soon and download some back issues if this magazine is new to you.

Run Washington is a great source for running news here in Washington DC.  I read most of their content online and subscribe to their emailed newsletter.  There is a hardcopy magazine which I often receive at local races - last year I picked one up at the Marine Corps Marathon and there was also one in my packet for the Fairfax Four Miler. 

Happy reading!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

I'm losing it! (my toenail)

I recently discovered that I have a crack on my big toenail, separation of about 2/3 of the nail from the bed, and it is probably only a matter of time until it falls off.  I've heard this is a common malady among runners, but I have no idea how to take care of it.  And it kind of makes me squeamish. 

So last night I reached out to my brother for advice.  Josh has run 6 marathons.  He logged 1300 miles last year.  I figured there was a good chance this had already happened to him and he could tell me what to do.  Nope, he said, never lost a toenail.  We joked about me being a "legit" runner now, although he pointed out I wouldn't be legit until it turned black and fell off.  As you can see by the picture below, I've got a line of blood where the crack is and the separation ends, but it isn't black so I'm going to have to wait to be legit.

Well, that was yesterday.  This morning I got a text from Josh claiming irony in its purist form, and a picture of his blackened toenail (below).  What happened?    
     a)  I jinxed him
     b)  Josh is selfless and ran in new shoes that were too tight so he could advise me
     c)  Josh is competitive and wants to beat me at everything

Or maybe: d) Alanis Morissette confused people about what irony truly is and the universe is working to put as many legit examples of irony out there as possible to set the record straight. 

So Josh got new shoes and headed out for a long run today.  He said he knew a few miles in he had a problem, and ended up having to cut the run short and walk home.  I've googled how to take care of my toenail.  Yes, I know better than to use google for medical advice.  So I won't put any here.  But I do have some lessons learned:
  • Always keep your toenails trimmed.
  • Make sure your shoes aren't too tight in the toebox.  Your feet expand when you run.
  • If you aren't sure if your shoes are too tight, test them out first.  Don't go to far from home the first time you wear them.  Ideally, get fitted by experts in a running store.
  • Always keep your toenails trimmed (I really can't stress this one enough!)
I'll let you know when (if?) my toenail actually falls off.  And I'm pretty sure Josh's will definitely fall off first. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Running on Ice: DIY Ice Spikes

It is snowy, cold, and icy out there today.  This is the kind of weather that keeps me indoors on the treadmill.  Soon I will blog about cool workouts you can do to make the most of your time on the treadmill, but for today - "Do it Yourself Ice Spikes!"

There are lots of fancy shoes and contraptions for running safely on ice.  The concept I find most interesting is DIY Ice Spikes - basically 10 hex screws inserted into the sole of each shoe.  Inexpensive, and apparently effective.  I haven't tried it, but I'm intrigued.  You can find directions and pictures at Competitor magazine:

Their directions say:
  • Purchase 20 3/8-inch hex-head sheet metal screws (size #8 or #10) for each pair of shoes. (Hex-head screws work best because they have jagged edges.) Total cost will be about $5.
  • Position screws around the perimeter of the outsole—six around the forefoot and four in the heel. Avoid areas that might poke feet upon impact with the ground.
  • Twist screws into the outsole rubber. (Pre-drilling with a 1/16 bit will help.)
  • Run with confidence over anything that is slippery, wet or frozen. (Note: They’re most effective on ice and small amounts of snow on roads or hard-packed trails.)
And this is the picture:
Interesting, right?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Washing your Running Outerwear

Today I decided my outerwear was getting a little rank and needed to take a spin in the washer.  I was especially nervous about washing my Nike Element Max Shield jacket.  It's too expensive to accidentally ruin in the dryer!

(Quick digression - I love this jacket! It was hands down the best gear purchase I made last year.  It is warm.  It is light.  It is flexible - you can put the hood on or off.  You can pull out the face gaiter when you need extra warmth.  There are ninja mittens you can pull out of the sleeves.  It has good reflectivity.  It is easy to tuck gloves into the pockets during your run.  My only regret is that I bought black instead of purple.  And believe me, there is no way I can justify buying a second one.)

Back to the laundry.  I gathered my Nike Element Max Shield jacket, Saucony pink stripe run vibe beanie, Outdoor Research PL 400 Gloves, and two Runnerbox buffs.  They were all black ("wash with like colors").  I set the washer on cold, active wear, and did not use fabric softener.  I zipped up everything on the jacket and made sure all Velcro was fastened.  Next time I will remove the face gaiter from the hood and wash it separately.

After the wash, I pulled out the Runnerbox buffs and set them aside to air dry.  I put everything else in the dryer on casual (low) setting.  About halfway through the cycle I took the beanie out as it was dry.  I turned the jacket and gloves inside out because that is where they were the wettest.  Next time I will turn them inside out from the start.  After the dryer cycle I realized the face gaiter was still wet inside the hood, hence my plan to take it out in the future.

And there you have it - successful laundering of running gear!  Perhaps not the most fascinating of subjects, but still an important hurdle faced by us runners. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year! Commitment Day 5k

We got 2014 off to a good start by running the Lifetime Fitness Commitment Day 5k as a family.  I thought it might be too far for Freddy, but Rick was confident that he was up to the challenge.  And Rick was right!  Freddy ran/walked the whole way and we didn't hear one peep about being cold or tired or wanting to stop.  We finished in less than 44 minutes.  Color me impressed.

The picture above is just before the start of the race.  Our friend Sharon ran with us and was just as good a cheerleader for Freddy today as she was for me during the Run With Santa 5k.  She and Freddy spotted a 6 year-old boy wearing a Grinch cap and set finishing ahead of him as their goal.  Freddy noted that "You should never let the Grinch win."  Wisdom for the race, and perhaps wisdom for life in general.  Freddy did finish ahead of the Grinch, but good sportsman high-fives were exchanged after the race.

Afterwards we all felt quite proud and headed for the warmth of home.  Happy New Year  - set some health goals and never let the Grinch win!