Sunday, April 26, 2015

New Balance for the Race!

The =PR= Reston Cherry Blossom Training Group members had great races on Sunday, April 12th! Our New Balance representative, Samia, sponsored a final contest for them since we had such fun with our February and March contests. The winner (selected by random draw) will receive something "springy" like a New Balance tank, selected especially for them by Samia. Read on for the latest entries and the announcement of the winner...

Ranju, Shreya, and Manish ran the race as a family.
Shreya (in her NB training shirt)
was one of the youngest girls to finish the race!
This was her longest run ever!

Caroline says: Being part of a team means
wearing a uniform that helps everyone connect.
 Nota Bene (NB): I sported the uniform!
New Balance is more than just a name.
It is the concept of always, every day,
keeping yourself equalizing in every
thermocline the day throws at you, and
creating the next moment afresh for yourself.
 For all 9.55 Garmin miles of the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler,
I found new ways to "balance forward."

Here are Eric and Lisa just before the Cherry Blossom race.
They said their NB shirts were perfect for the race weather!
Eric was on track for a PR if the course hadn't been shortened.

Jen tested her New Balance Impact Capris
one last time before race day during
her shakeout run on Saturday.
Isn't the pop of color on the back fun?

Lynn loved her NB training shirt so much
that she bought it in coral from the NB
expo booth. She said the fact that it matched
her NB 1260 V4 shoes made it an easy decision
 to make it her race shirt. It was perfect!
 Long sleeves for when it was cool before
 and after the race, but thin enough with the
sleeves pushed up to be completely
comfortable during the race. 

Here are Paul and Patti after the race.
Paul took 8 minutes off his previous 10-mile record!
Patti looks great in her official New Balance
Cherry Blossom long-sleeve shirt!

Susan's New Balance shoes carried her through
training and race day beautifully!

Tracy's New Balance Heat Half Zip helped her complete
the Loudoun 8K four minutes faster than her goal!
We wish Tracy luck on the Pittsburgh Half on May 3rd!

Treasa's New Balance shoes and capris kept
her on track for a consistent, steady race.

Kris wants to thank New Balance for helping
her have her best run and time ever!

And the winner is...Caroline! Congratulations, Caroline. Thanks to everyone who participated - we hope to see you back in June for the =PR= Distance Training Program!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

What's Next? The Big One.

The Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run was my big spring goal race. So what's next? If you've read some of my March posts, specifically "Signs Point to Yes" and "#AccessGranted #MissionComplete", then you already know that I'm going to be chasing my first marathon: the 40th Marine Corps Marathon. I've started a vision board and put my long runs on the calendar for June - October. But between now and June, I'm taking it easy.

My MCM Vision Board

Why am I taking it easy? What does that look like? The "why" is to keep from burning out. I've seen it happen to some of my friends - you keep chasing goals, building them one on top of another, without stepping back to refresh and rebuild. Some people seem immune to this sort of burnout, but I know I'm not one of them.

For the next two months I'm going to take it easy as a participant in the Reston Runners' Women's Training Program. I'm not coaching for WTP, I'm not going to push myself hard. I'm going to just enjoy this fun program that is coached by women, for women. I'm going to run for pure enjoyment. No time goals, no speedwork. Just fun.

The coaches for the 2015 Women's Training Program
photo courtesy of Brian Kent Photography

During this time I'll be working on my vision board for MCM and solidifying my plans for incorporating consistent strength training & yoga into my MCM preparation. I know how important these components will be for a successful marathon, and I really slacked on them during training for my mid-distance runs. That's not going to fly if I want to "beat the bridge" for MCM!

My MCM training will kick off in earnest on June 13, when the Reston Potomac River Running Distance Training Program begins. I'll be a volunteer coach with the PR DTP program so I can still support the other coaches, but in a more limited role than my Cherry Blossom coaching, which will help me focus more on my training. Here's to lots of fun runs over the next two months, and then some serious, focused training!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Tag, I'm It! My Running Favorites

I was tagged by my friend ErinRunsHappy to answer questions about my running favorites. Thanks for thinking of me Erin! Here goes...

photo credit: MarathonFoto

1) Location: Trail, Road, or Indoors?
Definitely Road! I haven't done much trail running (I'm a bit of klutz), but I'm looking forward to trying it out through PR's free trail series runs. And I'll hit the treadmill when the weather or my schedule dictates it. Although it isn't my favorite, it's my best opportunity to catch up on my growing DVR playlist.

2) Time of Day: Morning, Noon, or Evening?
My schedule is crazy, so my favorite time to run is any time that I can fit it in. I don't really have the luxury of choice these days!

3) Weather: Sunshine, Mild or Hot?
Mild for sure. I prefer running in the Winter to the Summer. I have enough Winter favorites to keep me warm, but in the Summer I can get to the point where I can't take anything else off (legally) and I'm just miserable.

4) Fuel: Before, After, and Sometimes During?
All of the above! Before long runs, I like a Clif Bar (chocolate chip) and coffee with chocolate almond milk. During long runs, I alternate GU Roctane in chocolate raspberry (has caffeine) with Clif Shot Gels in razz (no caffeine). After, I like Horizon chocolate milk and Honey Stinger dark chocolate cherry almond protein bar (although I'll have "real" food instead if I can get to it quickly enough...the best is when I come home to bacon & scrambled eggs made by my husband). And post-run I replace lost electrolytes with NUUN - I have too many favorite flavors to list them. I also find that I crave Chicken Tikka Masala from Masala Wok after a long run. Go figure!

5) Accessories: Music, Watch & More?
My favorite accessory is my Garmin 220 - I love my data. No music for me. It's safer to run without headphones and helps keep me alert to my surroundings and more focused on my form and how I'm feeling. My favorite accessories in the "more" category are sparkle skirts and pink tiaras.

6) Rewards: Food, Wine, or …?
New running clothes and gear. And race registrations!

7) Type of Run: Long, tempo, intervals, hill repeats, progression, or recovery/easy?
I like all types, I dislike all types. It depends on the day and how I'm feeling! But my favorite runs, no matter the type, are the ones that I share with other runners. We accomplish something together, or share in disappointment together; no matter which occurs we end feeling connected. Connected runs are my favorite!

Theoretically I am supposed to tag others to answer these questions, but I'm not a tagger. So if you have a blog and you think it would be fun to answer these questions, consider yourself tagged! And let me know that you answered them because I would love to read your answers and learn more about you.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run Recap

Wow, today was just amazing! We had beautiful weather and peak cherry blossom blooms. It has been 8 years since there were peak blooms on race day. It was stunning.

It doesn't get better than this!
(thanks to Nita for the picture!)

Elite Athlete Dinner

My race adventure actually started last night, with the elite athlete dinner. I'm sure it's quite obvious that I am *not* an elite athlete. One of the perks of being on the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run Blog Team is getting an invite to the dinner. It was inspiring to see the elite athletes and hear a bit about them. We saw a cool video with highlights from past races, and we learned that this year the race earned $525,852 for Children's Network Miracle Hospitals! I stood across from Bill Rodgers in the buffet line and he made a quip about the buffet being like a race, you're pacing yourself, watching the folks in front of you, planning your strategy. I imagine he's said that a million times to other people, but it still charmed me.

Three-quarters of the CUCB social media/blog team
(we are missing Natalie & fearless leader Molly in this pic)
photo credit: Elizabeth's hubby Ed

Swag! We received race pens & magnets

Race Director Phil Stewart gave an inspiring talk

OMG!! Lynn & I met Joan Benoit Samuelson! Highlight of the night!
photo credit: Molly

Pre-Race Planning


There was a lot of discussion about the weather in the week before the race as we watched the forecast fluctuate. I had planned on wearing a long-sleeve shirt, but it soon became clear that it was going to be in the 50s and feel even warmer when we were running. I accepted the fact that I was going to wear short sleeves (reluctantly) but clung to my capris. I crowdsourced on facebook to make the capri call, funky blue or safe black:

Funky blue won by a landslide!
I took the arm warmers off after the first mile;
I could have skipped them and been okay.

I considered a sparkle skirt,
(good for hiding side pocket GU bulges)
but it would have meant black capris.
I tried it on with the funky blue ones & it was not a good look.
Funky blue capris > silver sparkle skirt

I had throwaway pants and a jacket since it would be cold before we started running. All throwaway clothes are donated, which is really great. I kept the pants on until "purple corral start minus 10 minutes" and took the jacket off when we started.


I had a Clif bar in the hotel 2 hours before start time, along with an iced coffee/chocolate almond milk I had brought from home and stored in the hotel refrigerator. I sipped on water and ate a honey stinger waffle while we waited in corral. I had GUs during the race at miles 3, ~5.7, and ~8.5 (my original GU plan was 3, 6, and 9 but the course was shortened & I adjusted my plan).

Getting to the Race

We met the CUCB social runners, Lauren & Megan, in the hotel lobby and walked the mile and a half to the race start. It was a nice warm-up and we were surrounded by runners walking to the race. We passed someone who started cheering for us and said "You guys are going to win!" and we all cracked up. Lynn & I went to the Potomac River Running pre-race meet-up area, but most of the PR folks were already gone. Fortunately my sorority big sister Nita and her husband Stan were still there and we got to wish Stan luck and see Nita's awesome sign.

Stan & Nita
"Hurry Up! My Cinnabon is getting cold!"

Megan, Lauren, me, & Lynn - ready to run!
photo credit: MarathonFoto

I am ready for this!
photo credit: MarathonFoto

Race Plan

Lynn & I headed to the purple corral where we met up with the women from Reston Runners BFFs (Best Foot Forward) and many of us planned to start together. We settled on 5:1 run:walk intervals with an agreement that we would stick together while it felt good but we would each run our own races. 

We learned that the course was being shortened (by about half a mile?) because there had been an accident in the morning (a pedestrian was hit by a motorcycle) and part of the race course was closed and being treated as a crime scene. We were basically re-routed so we didn't run all the way along Independence and around the east side of the Tidal Basin. Instead we ran along the west side. I am impressed that they were able to implement this change on the fly and give big kudos to the race committee.

Waiting to run in the purple corral
photo credit: MarathonFoto

The Race

  • Mile 1, 12:26 Congestion on Independence! Camraderie! The whole group was mostly together. I regretted my arm warmers and took them off during the first walk break.
  • Mile 2, 12:28 The Lincoln Memorial & Memorial Bridge! We high-fived Woodrow Wilson. (okay, we didn't. he was busy taking a selfie with someone. but it is my recap and I'm going to pretend it happened)
  • Mile 3, 12:14 Moms Run This Town water stop! The Kennedy Center! Two race photographers at the turnaround; much better positioning than last year's shady spot. Some of our group breaks off to run their own race.

Before the Kennedy Center turnaround...
photo credit: MarathonFoto

...and after the turnaround
photo credit: MarathonFoto

  • Mile 4, 12:02 More Kennedy Center & Ohio Drive. Water stop. The group breaks up some more and Lynn & I find ourselves alone.
  • Mile 5, 12:04 The course departs from the planned course. I realize we are going to miss running past the Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, and around the east side of the Tidal Basin. I feel sad pangs as it sinks in that we are missing one of the most beautiful parts of the course, the locations where I had my most scenic photos in last year's race, and the 5-mile mark where I heard "Eye of the Tiger" last year and knew I had the second half of the race in the bag. I shake off my pity party and mentally prepare for Hains Point.
Rerouted: We followed the red line instead of
continuing east on Independence and around the
east side of the Tidal Basin

  • Mile 6, 11:51 I'm starting to push the pace because I feel strong and I can hear Lynn's breathing telling me it is too much for her. I hear my husband's voice in my head telling me to run my own race. The coach in me wants to stay with Lynn for the whole race, see it through her eyes, experience her triumph. But the competitor in me wants to see what my under-trained body can do, and I know that Lynn is strong enough to do it on her own. We see a race photographer and take our last race picture together.
photo credit: MarathonFoto

  • Mile 7, 11:26 I start the mile with Lynn, but tell her I'm feeling strong and going to go off on my own. I hear the DJ and start running faster. When I round Hains Point I am disappointed that the "Beer and Oreos" guys aren't there. I reach up and touch the white, fluffy cherry blossom trees that are just above my head.
  • Mile 8, 11:14 I'm pushing harder and starting to wonder if I started the push too early. I watch for Coach T from the PR DC training group and feel a lift when I see her. I look at the blossoms. I remind myself to "Inspire and Empower".
  • Mile 9, 11:07 I hear the driving beat of Batala, an all-women percussion band. They are motivating! I get excited for the spectators that I know will be on 15th Street. I ignore the voice in my head saying my legs are tired, slow down. I remind myself that discomfort is temporary and accomplishment is forever. I see Coach Mike who asks how I feel and I tell him "Awesome!" I hear people cheering for me by calling me "PR" and I love it.
The fantastic women of Batala - thank you ladies!!
photo credit: Coach T Rally

Kris in the pink capris is one of the
PR runners who trained with me!
photo credit: MarathonFoto

  • The Last 1/2 Mile, 9:12 I keep pushing the pace, watching for the finish line. When I see it, I start sprinting as hard as I can until I cross it. I feel triumphant and proud. My race pace is 11:44, besting my 10-mile PR pace of 11:52!
Pushing the pace on 15th Street
photo credit: MarathonFoto

I had a strong second half!

Race splits - almost every mile faster than the previous one!

Lynn didn't need my help to cross the finish line!
Congratulations Lynn!
photo credit: MarathonFoto, courtesy of Lynn


I get in line for my finisher photo. I switch lines when I realize the line I'm in has a traffic light obstructing the Washington Monument in the background. Might as well get the best picture I can! I realize later when I see the photo that of course the monument isn't in the photo.

photo credit: MarathonFoto

I walk through the chute and pick up water and a heat sheet. I head for the bananas, remembering how scarce they were last year. I get a banana and it is good. There seem to be far more bananas than last year for the back-of-pack crew. But chips and Larabars are nowhere to be found.

I look around for the medals. I'm not sure where they are since I didn't get one last year. A volunteer notices I'm lost and points me in the right direction. I reflect on how amazing the volunteers are, and how many of them are needed to make a race like this a reality. It is truly mind-boggling. Helpful volunteers give me a medal. The man who puts the medal around my neck looks into my eyes and says "Congratulations" in such a genuine way that I tear up. Volunteers are awesome.

I head over to the PR tent where some of my friends are waiting. Some of the runners I coached begin to trickle in. I hear about their races and it warms my heart and fills me with gratitude. I was successful in my quest. I inspired and empowered. Others, as well as myself. 

Reston Runners BFFs Rocked This Race!
photo credit: Susan

Natalie & Rachel join me in the "crazy pants" club
photo credit: Susan

Coaching people like Susan makes it all worthwhile!
You made my day today, Susan!
photo credit: Susan's buddy
Looking for more recaps from this year's Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run? Look here:

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Cherry Blossom Expo

I headed to the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run expo on Friday at 3 pm when it opened. I work downtown, so it makes more sense to get in there on Friday than to make an extra trip into the city on Saturday. Plus going on Friday helps you take it easy and rest on Saturday, the day before the race.

Rest before a race is important. Which is why I am a bit dismayed to be awake and writing this in the wee hours of the morning. I tell my runners not to worry about poor sleep the night before the race, it is the night before that really matters. I'm not sure what to tell myself about the fact that I woke up at 3 am, unable to get back to sleep, on the night that really matters. This might hurt on Sunday morning! But I digress...back to the expo.

I was picking up packets for 5 of my friends. I had permission & bib confirmation letters for each of them, and a list of the things I wanted to do at the expo. Armed with my list and a nearly empty backpack, I set off on the metro to head to the National Building Museum and meet Lynn.

My checklist (although the first bullet ended up being "6 bibs")

I got there a little early and things were relatively quiet. I met Eric out front who was directing runners to the lines inside for the 5k and 10 Mile pickup. All of the volunteers were wearing long-sleeved versions of the race shirt so they were easy to identify throughout the expo.

Eric welcoming runners and offering directions

Inside I met up with Lynn and we took a quick peek at the expo floor while the vendors and volunteers were finishing the last-minute setup. Then we headed upstairs to get in line and were pleasantly surprised by Tai Fung directing runners on the main stair case. Checklist item alert! We've been twitter friends for a while and it was great to finally have the chance to meet in person.

Tai's traffic-directing security spot. Thanks for volunteering Tai!
(these are our "Giddy" faces)

Lynn and I headed upstairs to the line which we thought was a little long. I assured her it was only because they hadn't officially opened the doors yet (it was still a bit before 3) and that it would move quickly. The line did move quickly, and we found a much longer line when we left the expo at 4:30. So we were glad we came when we did. Jen happened to arrive at the same time so we all hung out together.

Waiting in line upstairs - how cool is this building?!
A shot of the expo floor below from the vantage point of the line upstairs

Bibs are ordered by number, and I was glad I had created a spreadsheet with all of my pickups in numerical order. I had to go to five different bib stations for the 6 bibs. Well, in the end it was 6 different stations because one of the bibs was missing and I had to go to the "solutions" table! What happens with a missing bib? They voided the old one and assigned a new number to the runner. So if someone stole the original bib, they can run on it but they won't get a time. Why does a bib get lost? It's possible that it was stuck to someone else's bib, or that someone picked up the wrong bib and neither the volunteer or runner caught it.

Michele at the "solutions desk" was really helpful
to us. Thank you Michele!

Jen and Lynn organized the bags & bibs while Michele and I sorted out the missing bib problem. I was really grateful to Jen & Lynn for their help - I didn't realize how many bags I would be dealing with and how overwhelming it would be. We headed back downstairs to pick up all of the t-shirts and get them into the right bags. Then we found a quiet corner and double checked each bib and t-shirt to make sure we really had everyone we were supposed to have and the right shirts. Then I put 6 bags into my nearly empty backpack which was suddenly looking quite full. And we hadn't even shopped yet!

t-shirt pickup!

The Sparkly Soul headband booth was right next to the t-shirts so we headed there first. You can see from my list I had several colors I wanted to pick up, including the special "Run DC" cherry blossom design. I have headband challenges - I have a small head and fine, slippery hair. These are the only headbands I've found that will stay in place while I run. They are velvet-backed which is common in headbands, but they are also full circle - there is no small piece of black elastic in the band. That small piece of black elastic seems to be what makes other headbands not stay on my head. I am not an ambassador, there is no affiliate link above. Just my honest experience!

#SparklyDC headbands

Lynn shows off her color selections which happen to be some
of the new colors that are now being sold at Athleta stores

Lynn displays my selections

We turned around and went to the Cherry Blossom merchandise booth. It was pretty packed. Jen found a great jacket. I had been thinking about getting a hat, but the crush of people was pretty off-putting for me and I decided against it. We went next door to the New Balance race gear to browse while Jen got her jacket. In the New Balance area Lynn found a gorgeous PR training shirt in coral. If they had one in my size I would have gotten it too.

This is Kevin McHale from New Balance.
He got me my awesome New Balance shoes.
Thank you Kevin!
My 860v5 shoes from Kevin

Next we went to the Potomac River Running Booth were things were 40% off. Despite the fact that my backpack was full, I bought a jacket and a half zip (they gave me a bag). The jacket is the turquoise version of the Nike Max Shield that I love so much. The half zip is also Nike, and it is a pink/raspberry combo that my friend Shannon has. She wore it for our recent 17.75k race.

From 17.75k - Shannon's cute half zip on the right.
Yes, I also have the Nike jacket in purple.
Don't judge me. It's awesome.
(okay, I might have a problem)

Next on the list was BeeCause shoe charms. I wanted to get a 26.2 for my Marine Corps Marathon Vision Board, and a cherry blossom charm. I got Cherry Blossom charms for many of the women I've been training with to commemorate our experience. But I didn't get enough to have one for myself. I was really touched when Lynn said she wanted to get the Cherry Blossom charm for me, since I got the charms for everyone else. Thank you Lynn!! I didn't get a 26.2 charm...I didn't see a color that said "Marine Corps" to me.

My MCM vision board...shoe charmless for now 

Shoe charms that Lynn bought. The first two are gifts.
The third she is going to wear on her shoe to pull in inspiration
from her mom who has been ill yet persevering & showing true strength.
She'll wear the cherry blossom from me on her other shoe.
The cherry blossom above is her gift to me. 

With time growing short we made some quick stops to pick up caramel macchiato GU (Lynn) and discount codes for the Navy Air Force Half Marathon (Lynn & me). We ran into Cherry Blossom Social Runner Lauren as we were headed out, and I laughed that we were wearing the same New Balance shoes.

Sweet shoes!

Checklist complete, we headed back out to the metro so I could get home in time for "packet pickup at Kim's house". We were surprised to see the packet pickup line now outside the building and going down two blocks! Glad we came early!

The line stretching out along the building...

...and from another perspective
(photo courtesy of Coach Mike)

Have fun if you are heading to the expo on Saturday!