Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Year of Running, 2015

Courtney from Eat Pray Run DC is hosting a "year of running" link up. It's such a great way to look back over the highlights from the year, and to read about what made other people's years so great. There are lots of great posts on the link up and I encourage you to check them out.

  • Best race experience: Without a doubt, my best race experience was running the Marine Corps Marathon. It was my primary goal for the year, my first marathon, and everything I could have hoped for. It was such a satisfying and exhilarating experience. I'm proud of the way I trained for and executed my race - I even ran negative splits. In a freaking marathon. 

High-fiving my son at mile 15

  • Best run: My best run from the year was the Navy-Air Force Half Marathon. I ran it somewhat spontaneously as a tune-up race for Marine Corps. My goal was to run just under a 12 minute mile, which would put me at 2:37. I felt so strong during the race I surprised myself with a final time of 2:28:43, crushing my goal! It was such a confidence booster for me, and a great payoff after the hard training I had been putting in.

Absolutely thrilled during the Navy-Air Force Half

  • Best new piece of running gear: My Nathan Intensity Hydration Vest is easily my best new piece of running gear for the year. With the increased distance of marathon training, I needed more water than my hydration belt could provide. Switching to the vest enabled me to carry enough water and fuel for those longer runs, with extra room for my phone and little luxuries like body glide, sunscreen, and KT tape.

I even added a bluetooth speaker for some of our longer runs

  • Best running advice you've received this year: You are faster than you think you are. I heard variations on this from my coaches, my running buddies, and my husband this year. I think I'm finally starting to believe it.

  • Most inspirational runner: there are so many inspirational runners - Meb, Deena, Desi. But I think I draw the most inspiration from the people I know from training. Jen and Lynn in particular come to mind. I met them in Running 101 two years ago and the things I have seen them accomplish are fantastic!

Jen, me, & Lynn at the 2015 Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run

  • Favorite picture from a run or race this year: I have two favorite race pictures from this year. 

    • My husband, Rick, was a great supporter of my marathon training and he and Freddy were awesome spectators during the race. This picture by Laurentina Photography of Rick with the minion balloon they used to help me spot them is fantastic.

  • Race experience you would repeat in a heartbeat: The Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run has a special place in my heart. It was my first "big" race when I ran it in 2014. In 2015, I coached Cherry Blossom training for Potomac River Running and the race was even more special as I shared in the accomplishments of the people I coached. In 2016, I will again coach Cherry Blossom training for PR and I am looking forward to running this special race for the third time.

I was part of the Cherry Blossom Blog Team in 2015, which was an amazing experience.
This year I will again be blogging for Cherry Blossom and serving as a race ambassador.

  • If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be: This is someday. That was my race mantra for Marine Corps. It is a powerful phrase I saw on the day that started my unexpected journey towards running a marathon, and it also reminds me how special each day, each run, each race is. Treasure the somedays.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Frosty 5k Race Recap

It's been over two weeks since the Frosty 5k and I haven't had time to post about it with the busy season (holidays & work) and a sick kitty (cancer). So, here is my very short and sweet recap:

I ran a good race that I was pleased with; much more satisfying than the Turkey Day 5k a couple weeks prior. I ran a consistent pace throughout the race, sprinted at the end, and left it all on the course. I finished in 34:47, and was glad to beat 35 minutes.

It was a beautiful day, bizarrely warm for mid-December, and we had a nice group together to celebrate Lynn's birthday. Here are some photo highlights:

Counter-clockwise, starting from Frosty:
Jen, Lynn, Laura, Emily, me, Susan, Marian
photo courtesy of Potomac River Running, Marleen Van den Neste
Frosty is ready to run!
photo courtesy of Potomac River Running, Marleen Van den Neste
Woodrow Wilson & his secret service detail
photo courtesy of Potomac River Running, Craig Hunter Ross
Cathy Ross, coming in to the finish...
photo courtesy of Potomac River Running, Craig Hunter Ross
...and a photo of her husband, Craig Hunter Ross, capturing her finish - isn't that sweet?
photo courtesy of Potomac River Running, Marleen Van den Neste
"barefoot guy" in the red singlet on the left
I don't know him, but see him often & I'm impressed by his technique
photo courtesy of Potomac River Running, Marleen Van den Neste
Laura at the finish
photo courtesy of Potomac River Running, Craig Hunter Ross
Susan at the start
photo courtesy of Potomac River Running, Marleen Van den Neste
Marian helped pace Jen to a course PR
photo courtesy of Potomac River Running
(by the photographer I don't know yet!)
Lynn, smiling for her birthday run
photo courtesy of Potomac River Running
(the mystery photographer again)
Shawn decked out in her holiday finery
photo courtesy of Potomac River Running, Craig Hunter Ross
Emily brought out some holiday finery, too
photo courtesy of Potomac River Running
(the mystery photographer)
Seeing the finish line (almost) always makes me smile
photo courtesy of Potomac River Running, Marleen Van den Neste
These poor girl scouts were selling hot cocoa on an unseasonably warm day
photo courtesy of Potomac River Running, Marleen Van den Neste
Happy Holidays to all!
photo courtesy of Marian

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Trotting with the Turkeys

We started Thanksgiving with the Turkey Day 5k. Last year Rick ran this race while Freddy and I cheered. This year, my awesome friend Catherine offered to cheer with Freddy so Rick and I could both run. Thank you Catherine!

Freddy (with Rick's yellow gloves) & Carter high-five the Trotting Turkey
photo courtesy of Catherine

Toenail Trauma

Last night, my marathon-injured toenail finally fell off. I wasn't sure if I should put a band-aid on my toe to help protect it, or to leave it alone since the band-aid might irritate it. I ended up leaving it alone, and it didn't bother me during the race. Whew!

Late to the Party

We were running late this morning; it turns out Freddy left his coat at school and we had to find extra layers to make sure he would be warm enough. Rick was able to get into the corral, but I was not. I went to the back, figuring I would slip in after everyone started moving. The downside is that I didn't get to start the race with Susan, Emily, Natalie, and Rachel. The upside is that Jen was back there, too, and gave me her gloves at the last minute which I greatly appreciated. Thanks Jen!

Rick (far right in red w/ sunglasses) made it into the starting corral
photo courtesy of Potomac River Running

Natalie, Emily, & Rachel
photo courtesy of Potomac River Running

And another picture of Emily because the first one wasn't her best look
photo courtesy of Potomac River Running

Susan went for a fun and crazy outfit today. I like it!
photo courtesy of Potomac River Running

Jen PR'd today - Congratulations!
photo courtesy of Potomac River Running

How was the Race?

The course for this race is a lollipop - the first mile goes out, the second mile makes a loop, and the third mile goes back over the path from the first mile. 

I was really boxed in for the first mile - I started in the very back with the slowest runners and walkers and had to weave a lot to keep moving. About halfway into the first mile the race leaders were already coming back, which meant we had to stay completely to the right and passing wasn't really an option until you got to the loop. Fortunately I found my friend Sharon and her son Michael early in the race so I had someone to chat with.

Sharon & Michael
photo courtesy of Potomac River Running

I picked it up during the second mile as the course started to thin out and even more during the third mile. I really turned the speed on when I got to the track for the last bit of the race. 

  • Mile 1: 13:19
  • Mile 2: 12:26
  • Mile 3: 10:54
  • And the last 0.1 was at a 7:33 pace

I ran 37:23 for a 12:04 pace overall. When I finished I knew I hadn't left it all on the race course; that I could have gone faster overall. I'll push harder in a couple of weeks at the Frosty 5k. The Frosty course doesn't have the narrow trails and bottlenecks this course has, so that should help me run a more consistent race. One of the goals I'm considering for next year is working on my 5k speed.

There is only so much time you can make up in the last 1/10 of a mile...
photo courtesy of Potomac River Running

How awesome is this picture of the Turkey at the finish line?
photo courtesy of Potomac River Running

I don't know this little boy but I love the pure glee on his face!
photo courtesy of Potomac River Running

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Recovery: One Day Per Mile

The recovery rule of thumb is one day for every mile of your race. Three days for a 5k, ten days for a 10-miler, twenty-six days for a marathon.

Recovery can look different for everyone. Some people start running again right away, but make sure to keep everything easy; no hard running or speed work during recovery. Some people don't run at all. Others fall somewhere in between. And I'm sure we all know those people who ignore the recovery completely and just keep powering through...they often end up injured or burned out.

What did it look like for me? I was physically and mentally drained after the marathon. I fully embraced the need for recovery. I barely ran at all, and when I did it was slow. I slept more. I didn't do lunges or planks or donkey kicks. And it was good.

My Facebook word cloud shows how focused I was on MCM training.
No wonder I needed a break!

Yesterday I ran 5 miles with the PR Training base camp group. It's the longest I've run since the marathon. Each mile was faster than the last. It felt so much better than the previous weeks' runs had felt. It felt great! 

I checked the calendar and it was exactly 27 days after the marathon. Recovery has officially ended. I'm back!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Kickoff Party for 2016 Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run

The Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run is a race that is near and dear to my heart. I ran it in 2013, and it was my first "big" race. In 2014, I was invited to be part of the race's social media team, which was a fantastic experience. I also coached the Potomac River Running Cherry Blossom Training Program in 2014, which was my first real coaching gig. These two factors made the 2014 race even better than the 2013 race! This year, I'm excited to be returning to both the social media team and to coaching the PR Cherry Blossom training program.

What's a Kickoff Party?

One very cool thing that the race team does is host a "kickoff party" in mid-November to launch the pre-race activities and approaching training season. Attendees receive an entry into a raffle for guaranteed race entries, a $10 gift card from Potomac River Running stores, a drink ticket, and a t-shirt with the 2016 race artwork. I attended the party with several of my running buddies - Jamie, Jen, Laura, and Shawn.

Robyn & Efren welcomed guests and
handed out PR gift cards, and raffle & drink tickets

Lottery Exemptions

Cherry Blossom is a very popular race, and the coveted entries are determined by a lottery. The big prizes of the night are guaranteed race entries (the small prizes are cherry blossom-themed race pens, magnets, and a cell phone screen cleaner). 

Last year, my friend Lynn won an entry. This year, my friends were even more lucky. Jen won an entry. Laura won a double entry, and will share one with Jamie. Shawn also won a double entry. Race entries for everyone!

Laura is all smiles after giving Glen the information needed to collect her prize


The drink tickets can be used for wine, or the signature party cocktail. This year, the signature drink was a "Cherry Swirl" - vodka, cherry liqueur, splash of sour and sprite, with a cherry garnish.

Cheers to the Cherry Swirl

I have absolutely no recollection of food from the party in 2014. I was so busy talking to people, taking pictures, tweeting, and trying to soak it all in that I never noticed the food. This year I was still too busy to actually eat any of it, but I saw it! There were many different types of appetizers being circulated, and there was a spread in one corner with rolls, deli meat, olives, and other things I can't remember. I had played the "mom" card at Union Station and encouraged everyone to eat something before we walked over to the party. We could have easily made a meal out of the food at the party. I'll remember this for next year!

photo courtesy of Laurentina Photography

Race Shirt Reveal & Voting

Perhaps the most anticipated reveal at the party is that of the artwork for the race shirt. I was excited to see that Abby Matousek had designed the shirt again this year. There is an annual contest for the race artwork, and this is Abby's second win in a row! 

Last year's shirt was an amazing stained-glass window-type representation of the Washington Monument and the cherry blossoms. This year's shirt is just as beautiful, but a completely different style. (Abby gave me a little hint about the design she is working on for next year and it sounds so cool...but my lips are sealed)

Abby, Deputy Race Director Becky Lambros,
Anna (super organizer of everything but I don't know her official title),
and Race Director Phil Stewart reveal the artwork!

Abby after the big reveal

Look at the details and colors - the Capitol is made up of pastel cherry blossoms

The artwork was revealed, along with the possible shirt colors - red or blue. The color is selected by party attendees, who vote on their preferred color. After voting, you receive a shirt in the color you selected with the race artwork printed on it. And Abby will even autograph it with a sharpie if you want. The votes were fairly close throughout the evening...

Votes were tallied electronically, with relative percentages
represented by each color's progress on the race course
...although the voting was close, blue won in the end. But there's a twist - the standard race shirt will be blue, but the upgraded technical t-shirt will be burgundy. Win-win!

New Balance 

New Balance sponsors the online training program and is the brand behind all of the official race gear. Shirts and accessories from past races are sold at a nice discount at the party. I couldn't resist picking up another shirt (I went for the light pink short sleeve, in case you are curious).

Look at all the great shirts! and jackets! and half zips!

This is Samia from New Balance.
She is one of the nicest & speediest people I know.
photo courtesy of Samia's hubby Corey

Social Media Runners

Leading up to the party, the race accepts applications for two "social media runners" to run the race and share their training. One will participate in the in-person PR Training Program and one will participate in the New Balance online virtual training program. They also receive an outfit and shoes from New Balance to support their training. They share their training experiences and thoughts about the gear and the race through their blogs, twitter, facebook, etc. There is a lot of buzz around the contest and one of the highlights of the party is finding out who the lucky winners are.

Last year I knew ahead of time who the winners were (social media team has its perks!) This year, however, I didn't. All I knew was that they weren't at the party, as one was running the Richmond half marathon the next morning and one was in Philadelphia. Since they weren't there in person, Coco (of Running with Perseverance) and I got to represent the social media team, which was pretty exciting for me. It turns out I already know both of the winners from their blogs - Courtney of Eat Pray Run DC and Janelle of Run With No Regrets. I honestly can't imagine two more perfect choices!

Phil introduces Coco & me - can you believe it?! So excited!
photo courtesy of Jen

Potomac River Running Training Program

I was caught off guard, but happily so, when Phil handed me the microphone and asked me to say a few words about the PR Training Program. I was grateful to have the opportunity to share a bit about our program - you get a training a plan to follow, people to do your long runs & speed work with, coaches to help you, and information about everything from fueling to injury prevention to preparing for race day. And for those that don't get into the race through the lottery, there is the option to enroll in the premium program, which comes with a race bib.

When I have to speak in public for work, I get a little nervous. When I am speaking as a running coach, I don't. I am so passionate about it and connected to it that I want to share what I know and help others. I find that contrast interesting.

Laura captured my big moment with her cool Polaroid camera. I forgot how fun it was to watch a picture develop before your eyes.

PR Training Program represents at the kickoff!
back row: Lauren, Jamie, Shawn
middle: Laura, me, Phil, Jen
front: Andrea (who just ran NYC marathon!)

People came over afterwards to learn more about the training program.
By the way, look how many inches I lopped off of my hair!
photo courtesy of Laurentina Photography

Wine Pull for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals
There is a wine pull that raises money for the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. For $20, you pick a mystery bottle of wine. You may get a very expensive one, or a less expensive one. All five of us tried our luck. Our bottles ranged from $12 to $21 in value. No big wins there, but it was fun and for a great cause. And for the record, my $18 bottle of wine was quite nice.

Trying our luck at the wine pull

Whew, that was quite a night! My party recap is almost as long as a race recap. The party certainly got me ready for Cherry Blossom training to begin. Mark your calendars - the race lottery opens on November 30 (my birthday!) More information about the lottery can be found here.