Sunday, March 29, 2015

Reston Marathon, Zone 4 Fun!

This morning Freddy & I headed out to support the Runners Marathon of Reston,while Rick ran the half marathon. He was treating it like a training run to support his goal race, the Loudoun Half Marathon. Freddy & I went to help out at Zone 4, by the Hunters Woods Pool. We didn't formally volunteer since we couldn't be there for the whole shift, but figured we could at least provide support and spirit for the volunteers while we were there.

Zone 4 Prep

Ann Deschamps was the Zone 4 lead (with an assist from Molly Barrie), so everything was beautifully organized. Hand warmers, snacks, red tape for the marathon signs/blue tape for the half marathon signs - all details were accounted for! We were right by mile 7, where the half and the full split briefly from each other. We were also by live music and close to Therese's house (more on that later!)

Ann reviews the course map with volunteers

It may be cold, but it's gorgeous compared to last year!
(rain, snow, sleet, and hail were all present last year)

Many of the Zone 4 volunteers, ready for duty!

Freddy staked out his spot by the "half" sign.
The pavilion behind him is where the music was set up.

Waiting for Godot

Okay, we weren't really waiting for Godot. But watching for those first runners made for some anticipatory moments. We finally saw the blue lights of a police motorcycle, which was followed by the lead half marathoner. Volunteers directed the runners - full to the right, half to the left. Freddy and I watched for Rick.

Team Semper Fi! The lead half marathoner.

Ann signals him to stay to the left

It's Rick!

Mommy missed the high-five moment when Rick passed Freddy

Pancake Time

Freddy was impatiently waiting to go to Ms. Therese's house and have pancakes. (tangential thought - "Pancakes Are Impatient" is a cool song by my friends' band Soundzania). I promised him we could walk up there after daddy ran by. Molly walked there with us and showed us the bear with all of the race medals. Freddy explored the house ("Mommy, can we buy this house from Ms. Therese and move here?"), gave Olive the dog a rice cake treat, and proclaimed Mr. Eamonn the "best pancake-maker ever!" He wanted to stay there for the rest of the day. I was grateful for the warmth and hospitality, and enjoyed the heck out of my pancake with homemade raspberry jam.

Freddy, the bear, and Molly, all cheering for the runners

Mr. Eamonn gives Freddy a rice cake for Olive


The bear even has running shoes!

Live Entertainment

We headed back to our cheering spot and walked up to check out the music. We met Jory and Piano who did a great version of "Superstition". Freddy danced to the music and we also got to see the "Running Juggler" aka "Joggler" while we were there.

Jory and Piano

the Joggler!

Freddy grooving to Superstition

Congratulations, Daddy!

We headed home after getting the text from Rick with his 1:58:56 finish time. This sets him up nicely to beat his 1:56:37 PR in two weeks on the Loudoun Half course, which is far less hilly. Congratulations, Rick! We are proud of you.

Our parting shot before leaving our volunteer spot

Rick's medal

Saturday, March 28, 2015

#AccessGranted #MissionComplete

This morning I ran the Marine Corps 17.75k (11.03 miles) and earned an #AccessGranted code to register for the 40th Marine Corps Marathon. Spoiler alert:


My ever-supportive friend Kathryn (previously cited in this blog for giving me hotel points for a room before last year's Cherry Blossom race and for doing a Warrior Dash) picked up my bib and loaned me her guest room the night before the race, which gave me 30 extra minutes of sleep this morning. Thank you Kathryn!

Shirt & bib, thanks to Kathryn!

I got up at 4:45 and got ready for the race. It was going to be windy, so I had layers, a throwaway coat, and hot hands. I ate a Clif bar and drank my coffee before heading out to one of the parking shuttles.

Race gear all set

I arrived at the Dumfries commuter lot around 5:55 (later than I had planned), and there was still plenty of parking. They had nice buses to shuttle us over to the start of the race, which was less than a ten-minute ride.  When I got off the bus, I headed to the church which was open to help folks stay warm before the race. Marsden (aka, Running Lonely) was inside, and I was looking forward to meeting him in person. After all, it was his tweet that accidentally got me into this race in the first place! Alas, the line to get into the church was long and not moving.

Fortunately for me, Marsden gave up his warm spot and came out to say hi. Not only did I meet Marsden, I also got to meet the Flying Pig! Marsden shared some tips on the race course and we talked about Cherry Blossom in two weeks. It was really fun to meet in person after following each other's blogs for the past year.

Marsden & me

The Flying Pig

My next pre-race meet-up was with Moms Run This Town for the multi-chapter picture. I am usually not at the big races early enough to make the picture, so I was pleased to finally be there on time for the big cinematic moment. While waiting for everyone to gather, I had a honey stinger caramel waffle and some water.

Moms Run This Town Multi-Chapter Picture
(note my lovely coat which served me well over the years)

With about 10 minutes until start time, I was beginning to get a little anxious about connecting with Karen and Shannon. I knew they were at the race and had gone to the portapotties, but we hadn't found each other yet. Karen texted me that they were in the church and I headed back that direction. 

It was still hard to get in to the church; not because there wasn't any room but because the flow of traffic was now steadily pouring out of the church and I was fighting the current! But I made it in, we found each other, and did our dynamic warm ups. I also met the pastor and thanked him for opening the church for us. He also said he would donate my coat so I gave it to him instead of tossing it on the ground at the race start. I was fond of that coat and it felt like a nice way to let it go.

The Race

Karen, Shannon, and I planned to run the race together at a very easy pace. We set 3:1 run:walk intervals and treated it like it was one of our regular Cherry Blossom training runs. My mantra was "Just like Reston. A training run. Lots of fun!" And we had a great time together. The course was hilly and about half of it was on gravel. And hilly. Did I mention it was hilly?

Elevation profile from my Garmin data

It was also pretty chilly at times. I kept hot hands in my gloves for the first two miles, and then I was ready to ditch them. I waited until we got to the first water stop so I could throw them in the trash instead of on the ground. Not 30 seconds later a volunteer gave us tissues and mentioned how cold her hands were. I was irritated with myself for having thrown the hot hands away. 
Lesson for future races - if it is cold enough to start the race with hot hands, there is a volunteer or spectator who would be grateful to have them when you are ready to give them up. Find that person!
We took it easy, we stopped for a potty break, we thanked all the volunteers, we yelled "Oorah!". Towards the end of the race we saw a sign that said: 211 days until you can say, "I ran Marine Corps." We paused and were so grateful when Renee, who was running by at the time, offered to take our picture. Thank you Renee! Hope to see you again at MCM!

from left: me, Karen, Shannon

We also talked about actually running a marathon. Shannon has run two, Karen & I have not run one (and have repeatedly said we have no plans to do so). Shannon was full of encouragement, which is really helpful. Karen and I are a mix of emotions ranging from excited to nervous to downright terrified!

We crossed the finish line together, holding hands clasped in the air. We received medals and the much-lauded #AccessGranted codes that would allow us to register for the marathon. Our mission for today was complete; our mission for the next 211 days has just begun.

proud finishers!

I came home to a special medal made by my son & my dad!


Monday, March 23, 2015

Show Us Your New Balance!

The =PR= Reston Cherry Blossom training group has stepped it up a notch as they continue to train for the Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run on April 12.

We had so much fun with our last contest that our awesome New Balance representative, Samia, offered to sponsor another contest for them! Runners submitted a picture with their favorite New Balance gear and told us what they like about it. The winner (selected by random draw) will receive a New Balance half zip especially chosen for them by Samia! Read on for our latest entries and the announcement of the winner...

Kris says, "The luck of the Irish was with me
in my new green New Balance shirt!
I ran 9.5 miles in the rain!"

Christina caught her little Z-man in her
New Balance jacket..."Mommy said this jacket
is awesome. I wish this jacket fit me!"

Lisa wore her New Balance training shirt on the first nice day
after the giant snow storm. She likes that it is lightweight,
vented up the back, fits great, and coordinated well with her vest.

Here is Robert and his one-week old(!)
Her cuteness & cherry blossoms are distracting dad from his run.
He is wearing the men's New Balance training shirt,
which he says keeps his temperature perfectly regulated.

Tracy is wearing the New Balance Heat Half Zip.
It has been great for the chilly evenings as it is lined with
a thin fleece and has reflective markings.

Karen (center) said her green New Balance shirt is perfect for
having the Irish spirit. She test drove it on our Shamrock training run
before rocking it the next week at the Shamrock Half!

Bonus photo of Karen's Shamrock Half outfit -
it helped her score a PR in the race.Way to go, Karen!

I'm technically not eligible for the contest,
but I couldn't resist a shout-out to my 860v5 shoes.
New Balance gave me these as a thank you
for being part of the Cherry Blossom Blog Team.
They are fashionable and a great stability shoe!

And the winner is...Christina! Congratulations, Christina. Thanks to everyone who participated. Keep up the hard work - the cherry blossoms are right around the corner!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Run For Haiti 5k Recap

This morning Freddy and I ran the "Run For Haiti" 5k. This race is an important cause for our family to support each year. It was originated in 2010 by Moise Joseph and Potomac River Running to help Haiti after the devastating earthquake. Moise was a 12-time All-American while at the University of Florida, competed for Haiti in the Athens 2004 & London 2012 Olympic Games, and has been a member of four World Championship teams. He is also an integral part of the Potomac River Running Team (and a really nice, cool, all-around awesome person!)

Helping Haiti

Here is an inspirational video of Mo bringing shoes to kids in Haiti and sharing his love of running with them:

This video brings happy tears to my eyes. It is also great to see where the shoes from the "Run for Jaime" memorial went. Mo is working to bring a computer lab to these kids, who have never seen a computer or the internet. You can support his work and Haiti through Project Haiti, which focuses on multiple projects to help Haitian communities, and through Ghates, Global Haitian Advancement Through Education and Sports, which provides an opportunity for kids in Haiti to excel in a variety of sports.

You can also support FOUR Corners Running, who is teaming up with Mo for the "service trip of a lifetime" to help the Run For Haiti Project in January 2016 with the Let's Go Haiti Marathon (you can even sponsor an athlete). What an amazing way to make a difference!

Freddy meeting Mo and getting race congratulations

Mo, me, & Freddy 


We had a great group come out to run the race. We got there early enough to buy raffle tickets for the awesome artwork that was being raffled off and enjoy the music of Paul Beaubrun & Zing Experience.

Our whole crew! Freddy surrounded by lovely ladies!

The artwork was incredible. The top race finishers received artwork,
as did raffle winners.
(photo courtesy Potomac River Running)

Paul Beaubrun & Zing Experience provided on-track tunes
(photo courtesy Potomac River Running)

The Race

Freddy and I started with the group, but lost them fairly early. Freddy would run for a bit, and then slow to walk and drink water. He thought the course had gotten much longer since he ran the "Run With Dad" 5k last June with Rick. 

Waiting in the corral before the race
(photo courtesy Laurentina Photography)

Our first walk break was before we even got off the track!
(photo courtesy Potomac River Running)

We talked to some friendly people on the course who helped keep him motivated (shout-outs to Laura & Jan - thank you!), and the course marshals were fantastic. Most of them were high school students from South Lakes and they cheered for Freddy like crazy. His favorite part was the water stop, which we passed twice. Imagine having a group of 20 kids all rooting you on and wanting to be the one to give you water! They were waiting for him when we came back the 2nd time and Freddy said it was the best part of the whole race! I wish I had taken a picture, but I was too much in the moment as a proud mom to even think of my phone.

the only photo we took on the course

The Finish Line

Rick met us close to the end of the race which gave Freddy some extra motivation. When we made it back onto the track, we could hear all of the ladies chanting Freddy's name close to the finish line. He was so excited! Laura even got a video of them cheering him to his big finish.

Andrea got this photo of us closing in on the finish line...

...and here it is from the race photographer's vantage point
(photo courtesy Potomac River Running)

...and one more from Tina's perspective, because you can
never have too many angles on a great race finish!
I especially love how our strides are in sync.

Post-Race Celebration

Freddy was so pleased to be done and immediately headed for the food. He selected a cookie ("it's healthy because it has raisins") and soon after a chocolate muffin. He was eager to refuel before the raffle (he was sure we were going to win a painting).

Best. Cookie. Ever.
(photo courtesy Laurentina Photography)

Sharing a sweet moment with Dad
(photo courtesy Laurentina Photography)

Coach Katie was Freddy's PR Track coach last year
He was excited to see her on the course with Coach Monica!

The age group awards and the raffle were very exciting. My friends Rob, Norma, Rebecca, and Molly all won age group awards! And Lynn and Andrea won paintings! I found out after the raffle that we almost won a painting, as they drew our number when the original number wasn't claimed, but the original winner appeared just in time. Ah well, easy come, easy go.

Lynn with her exquisite painting

Andrea and Molly showcase Andrea's whimsical win

I am so proud of Freddy and his efforts today! And I encourage folks to support Mo and his efforts to help the kids and people of Haiti. It takes so little to make a difference.