Sunday, November 20, 2016

#CUCB2017 Fall Kickoff Party

This past Friday marked the official kickoff for the 45th running of the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run.

We host a party in November to kick things off, and this year it included swag, giveaways, reveals, demonstrations, fundraising, and all-around fun.

Did you miss out on the fun? Or just want to relive it? Read on!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Fire Up Your Run

A few years ago I saw a 3M YouTube video called "No White at Night" that showed how important reflectivity gear is when running at night.

In the video, several runners are running towards the camera in the dark. At first you only see three runners, but there are actually seven. Four of them are wearing white t-shirts and you can't see them until they are 250 feet away. That's too close for comfort if there are vehicles around.

The video is from 2011. While its message is just as critical today as it was in 2011, reflectivity gear has come a long way in the last five years.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

"Uber" for Race Photos?

Phone photos are free (thanks Lynn!)
Race photos can be expensive. Really expensive. And unless it was a once-in-a-lifetime bucket race, it can be hard to justify spending so much money on the pictures.

I fully understand the economics and issues behind this situation, and you will never see me post a watermarked race photo that I haven't purchased. Runner's World has a nice summary of the photo-sharing debate here. And an explanation of why it's illegal here.

While I would like to own some of the pictures from the 2016 MCM 10K for sentimental reasons (see them here), I don't value them enough to pay $75 for the pictures. For the 2015 MCM Marathon, I didn't think twice about paying that much - those pictures were precious to me.

So I was particularly intrigued by new start-up Flashframe, which aims to connect runners with photos by creating a marketplace where third-party photographers can sell race pictures. In a Runner's World story, one of the cofounders describes the startup as Uber or Lyft for race photos (see story here).

One picture from the Flashframe website from "Marine's Marathon" (copyright issues prevent the site from using the race's real name) costs $6.99. One picture from MarathonFoto for the same race costs $24.95.

I've kept an eye on the Flashframe website throughout the week after the race. More photos were uploaded daily. Although the website currently says about 30% of the expected photos have been uploaded, it's ten days post-race and beginning to look like that's all there will be.

You can search for pictures by bib number or by letters that appear on your shirt. I've tried both my bib number and "PR". My bib number brings up nothing; PR does bring several photos with "PR" on shirts, but none are of me.

I had seven friends who ran the NYC Marathon the weekend after MCM, and two of them have pictures from NYC on Flashframe. I like this one of my friend Stan (Go Stan! First marathon!). NYC seems to have been far more heavily photographed than MCM was.

It will be interesting to see whether Flashframe takes off. The economist in me embraces the free market effort to chip away at some of the monopoly power of MarathonFoto. And it reminds me to be especially appreciative of races like the =PR= Race Series, who provide professional race photos to their runners for free.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Comeback Race Success

Lynn, Jen & me - ready to race after checking our bags 
Mentally, I had a lot riding on last week's MCM 10K.

I'm pleased to report that I successfully completed the race with no pain in my hallux-rigidus-riddled big toe.

After many months of not being able to run (sometimes even walk) without pain, this is a huge milestone for me. And a huge relief.

Friday, October 28, 2016

We're All Human 5K Color Run

This local race on November 5 is focused on empowering kids & young adults and the prevention of youth suicide

The Run/Walk is sponsored by the "We're All Human Committee" at Woodgrove High School. The group started last year to bring awareness to the subject of teen suicide and support for struggling teens. Last week they helped kick off a group at Loudoun Valley. 

The students are raising money for the peer-to-peer suicide prevention program, Sources of Strength, they are bringing to Woodgrove and Valley. There have been four teen suicides in Loudoun County this year alone

The work these teens are doing is so important. Please support them if you can.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Mental Toughness for MCM 10K

The MCM 10K is in one week. I've been trying to decide whether my toe is up for the challenge.

Over the past few weeks, I've had several "successful" runs. Successful being defined as no toe pain, and far enough distances to convince me I can handle a 10K.

Can I handle it physically? Yes. 

Can I handle it mentally? That's harder, but I'm ready to do it.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

What a Long Strange Trip

Actually it hasn't been that long...and it's been more surreal than strange.

I look back over the past three years and I ask myself...well, how did I get here?

Sunday, September 25, 2016

I Ran! Will I Race?

These past months have been challenging as I've tried to figure out how to manage hallux rigidus, and whether I can still run.

I've now had my third version of orthotics for almost two weeks, and I'm cautiously optimistic that the third time may be the charm.

I successfully ran two miles in them yesterday, after 7 weeks of not being able to run at all. So what does this mean for my fall race hopes?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Get Me to the Race On Time!

The DC metro system is a mess right now. We are in the midst of SafeTrack, which includes a moratorium on the metro opening early. This is likely to have a significant impact on three big races in the next two months, and they are all handling it very differently. What are they doing?

Sunday, September 11, 2016

September 2016 StrideBox

The September 2016 StrideBox arrived in the mail today and it has a nice assortment of running goodies this month. Want to try StrideBox yourself? There is a $5 coupon code at the end of this post! Here's the September box:

Monday, August 29, 2016

Where There is a Will, There is a Way: South Lakes 10K

The South Lakes 10K is one of my favorite local races, and it was on my race calendar "wish list" for this year. But my toe isn't ready yet, so I reluctantly accepted it wasn't going to happen this year.

Last week was tough as my timehop app kept showing me pictures from past years' races and my running friends planned for this year's race. Maybe there was a way to join the race after all?

Saturday, August 27, 2016

How to MacGyver SuperFeet

While I'm waiting for my newly-adjusted (pedorthist-informed!) orthotics to come back from the lab, I'm stuck in activity limbo. I have two pair of Naot sandals that I can wear without pain, and that's it. I can't even wear my running shoes, and for a while they were my go-to comfort shoe. 

It takes 2-3 weeks for the orthotics to come back, and then a week or more to adjust to them. I was feeling anxious about waiting all that time just to be able to go on a walk (much less a run) without hallux rigidus pain. Pedorthist Rachel to the rescue!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Pedorthist Consult for my Orthotics

If you've been following my blog, you know that I recently got custom orthotics to help manage hallux rigidus. The first pair wasn't quite right, and neither was the second. It was time to call in an orthotics expert - a pedorthist.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Outlook for Fall Races

Four months ago when I wrote "Adrift in a Sea of Races," I never imagined that I would still be drifting in the middle of August. But I am. Here is the likely outlook for the fall.

Monday, August 8, 2016

August 2016 StrideBox

The August 2016 StrideBox arrived in the mail today and it has something I've been really eager to try. Want to try StrideBox yourself? There is a $5 coupon code at the end of this post! Here's the August box:

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Voice in Your Head is Lying

Tuesday afternoon I found myself contemplating that evening's scheduled track workout. For a variety of work and personal reasons, I had missed the last few track workouts. Missing a few workouts makes it harder to stay on track (pun intended!), and the voice in my head was not helping me. It said:

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Orthotics, Take Two

Six weeks ago I got custom orthotics to help with my foot issues, particularly hallux rigidus. Here's the rundown on how that initial break-in period went.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Course Guide: Women's Distance Festival 5k

The Women's Distance Festival is a small race with a ton of spirit. The race is for women only and most of the volunteers are men.

There are fun decorations, signs, and awards (age group & multi-generational) that are selected to go with the annual theme. Past themes include:

Reflections on the Women's Distance Festival

I've run the Women's Distance Festival 5k for the past three years.

Going into this year's race, I looked back on the previous two races and thought about how things had changed

It's definitely been surprising!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Distance Training is Better with Friends

Reston DTP Superhero theme run - start planning your costume now!
Are you training for a fall mid-distance race?

One of the best ways to set yourself up for success is to join a training program.

And if you are in the DC/VA area, consider joining the Potomac River Running Distance Training Program (DTP). Here are the 6 top reasons:

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Diamonds on the Soles of Her Orthotics

I now have custom orthotics and I have high hopes for them. They were not cheap. For the price, you might expect a little platinum plating or gemstone sparkle, but they are just polypropylene and graphite. But they will be worth their weight in gold if they keep my hallux ridigus from progressing!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Shoe Reviews: Munro


I'm in search of toe-friendly shoes; it is a delicate balance of looks and function. My criteria:
  • a wide toe box 
  • supportive, especially under my big toe
  • stylish enough for work (or play)
  • small enough for my size 4.5 feet

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Racing Against the Metro

The Army Ten-Miler always sells out in a few hours.
Except when it doesn't.
This year it didn't.

As I write this, registration has been open for 36 hours and there are more than 5,000 spots left.

Read on to find out what happened...

Friday, May 20, 2016

Shoe Reviews: Mephisto


I'm in search of toe-friendly shoes; it is a delicate balance of looks and function. My criteria:
  • a wide toe box 
  • supportive, especially under my big toe
  • stylish enough for work (or play)
  • small enough for my size 4.5 feet

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Do You Remember Your First?

Today I cheered at a race with a very special focus. The Get Fit, Live Fit, Be Fit 5K was designed to inspire new 5K runners and walkers. Although the race was open to anyone, 5K "first-timers" got a special shirt, race bib with a personal touch, and a medal at the finish line.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Advice to My Younger Self

I ran my first race on September 6, 1996 - the Fair Lakes 8K. I finished under 50 minutes (49:29) and below a 10 minute/mile pace (9:57). It was exhilarating. And I wish I could go back in time and give myself some advice.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Hallux Rigidus: Some Answers

I had my two week post-hallux rigidus diagnosis follow-up appointment today. I got answers to some of the questions I posed on Tuesday and a secondary diagnosis.

I'm using Tuesday's post as the framework for today's post, inserting answers and updates into the original text with red italics.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Hallux Rigidus: So Many Questions

It has been two weeks since I was diagnosed with hallux rigidus in my right big toe. At the time, my focus was on whether I could still run. I now realize my focus should be much broader than that.

I have a follow-up appointment with my podiatrist in two days and I have so many questions about what this diagnosis means on a broader scale.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Course Guide: Mother's Day 4-Miler

The Mother's Day 4-Miler in Reston is a race that I run for the camaraderie, celebration of moms (with a flower at the finish line!) and the family-friendly party going on during and after the race.

It is not a race that I run for the course, which is basically a triangle of main roads with a short jaunt at the beginning and end as you exit and enter Browns Chapel Park. And the course is hilly, but it does finish on a solid downhill.

Mother's Day 4-Miler Recap

Slow and steady runs the race.

I didn't even realize I had a mantra for this race until it popped into my head during the first mile. You aren't trying to "win" a PR, you are just trying to run.

Slow and steady runs the race. 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

May 2016 StrideBox

The May 2016 StrideBox arrived in the mail today. I recently restarted my subscription when they had an April Fools' Day promotion - get the April box for $5. Here's the May box:

Friday, May 6, 2016

Shoe Reviews: Naot


I'm in search of toe-friendly shoes; it is a delicate balance of looks and function. My criteria:
  • a wide toe box 
  • supportive, especially under my big toe
  • stylish enough for work (or play)
  • small enough for my size 4.5 feet

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Shoe Reviews: Alegria


I'm in search of toe-friendly shoes; it is a delicate balance of looks and function. My criteria:
  • a wide toe box 
  • supportive, especially under my big toe
  • stylish enough for work (or play)
  • small enough for my size 4.5 feet

Friday, April 29, 2016

Shoe Reviews: Arcopedico


I'm in search of toe-friendly shoes; it is a delicate balance of looks and function. My criteria:
  • a wide toe box 
  • supportive, especially under my big toe
  • stylish enough for work (or play)
  • small enough for my size 4.5 feet

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

What is Hallux Rigidus & What Can I Do?

X-ray of my right foot, top view

  • What is hallux rigidus? 
  • What can I do about it? 
  • How will it impact my life? 
  • Let me tell you everything I've learned so far...

Sunday, April 24, 2016

How to Find Dress Shoes for Runners

How do you find dress shoes that don't hurt? This is a puzzle I've been trying to solve, and I'm finally cracking the code.

I wear athletic shoes or oofos whenever I can, but they don't go with my work clothes. Especially when I'm giving a presentation or attending a board meeting.

I need shoes that look professional, don't squish my neuroma-plagued toes, and give my arches some support.

This is easier said than done. But I am determined to find those elusive "Cinderella" perfect-fit shoes!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Adrift in a Sea of Races

From a running perspective, I have essentially been without a goal since Marine Corps Marathon. For a while that was okay. I needed some recovery time at the end of the year. And this year, I've been focused on other people's goals while coaching Cherry Blossom training.

But coaching is over for now, and I am acutely aware of how unanchored I feel. I'm surrounded by others with goals, races, big plans! And I feel adrift in the middle of it.

Clearly, I need a goal. But it has to be a goal that is meaningful to me, something I want to commit to and strive for. And I don't know what that goal is. A mid-distance race in the fall? A faster 5K time? A focus on improving my running form? Nothing is clicking for me yet.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

A Coach's Recap: Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run

My Cherry Blossom race plans went from 10 miles to 5k (details here), to a supporting role as a spectating coach. What happened and how was it?

Shaky Shakeout Saturday

The Reston Potomac River Running Cherry Blossom Training had an optional shakeout run the morning before the race. We had about a dozen folks show up and spirits were high.

But our high spirits were brought down a few notches when the race officials announced some significant changes to the race plans due to incoming high winds. Basically the race was transformed into a "retro" 1970s style race - no signs, no mile markers, no giant digital clocks, no tents.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Four Days with Meb

A couple of weeks before the 2016 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run the exciting news was released. Meb Keflezighi was coming to DC for the race! I was thrilled at the idea of seeing - possibly even meeting - this inspirational man.

I still get chills when I remember April 21, 2014. The 118th Boston Marathon. The year after the bombings. I timed my lunch break so I could run on the treadmill while watching the finish. Watching Meb win the race was phenomenal. Seeing the names of the bombing victims in the corner of his bib; recognizing he was the first American man to win Boston since 1983 - it was cathartic, emotional, euphoric.

And this man was coming to DC. #MEBinDC

I was lucky enough to see Meb four times in four days. I heard him speak. I got to meet him for the briefest of moments. And it was awesome.

Thursday: Potomac River Running

On Thursday night Meb made an appearance at Potomac River Running in Arlington. He was scheduled to be there from 6-8: a talk with Q&A for the first hour, selfies and autographs the second hour. We figured it would be packed and headed out extra early...we got there at 4:30!

Jen, Kristen, me, & Susan - ready for an evening with Meb

The good thing about getting there first is that we got to sit in the front row for his talk. Which was amazing!

Another earlybird bonus - I finally got to meet Jennifer of Run Jenny Run in person!
photo courtesy of Jennifer

A captivated audience. (and this is only half the people!)
photo courtesy of Potomac River Running

He spoke about everything from his childhood in war-torn Eritrea, coming to the US and speaking no English, discovering running, and medaling in the Olympics, winning New York, winning Boston. He also talked about the less triumphant moments, the hard times. How to pick yourself up mentally when you fall down. And so much more!

Photo courtesy of Potomac River Running

I wish I had recorded what he said so I could listen to it again. I did write down the #Mebisms that struck me the most:

  • Advice for the "older" runner: Run one less mile for your long run, and use that time to stretch. You will get more out of that stretching time than you will out of the extra mile.
  • Family time: Meb & his family enjoy "Fruit Time" & "Dance Time" - eating fruit, playing music, and dancing with the kids.
  • On mental toughness: Training is 90% physical, 10% mental. It is the opposite during a race.
  • When you are down and beating yourself up: Stop and remind yourself how many people would love to be in your shoes.

That last one especially resonated with me, and it applies far beyond running. I beat myself up often. I complain about things and wish they were different. And if I could stop and reframe, I would be happier and waste far less mental energy. Since Meb's talk, I have stopped and reminded myself of how lucky I am, how many people would be so grateful for what I have. Thank you, Meb.

Meb's Skechers
photo courtesy of Potomac River Running

The meet and greet after the talk was supposed to last an hour. But there were so many people that only half had met Meb by 8. And it was set up in a "last in, first out" manner, so those of us in the front row were at the back of the line. I was really bummed when we realized that we might not get to meet him. But Meb is so gracious and so generous with his fans, that he stayed an extra hour so we could all have our moment with him. Classy.

Some of the Potomac River Running Reston Training Runners with Meb
photo courtesy of Potomac River Running

Meb signed my book - he is so tired at this point but still so nice!

Giddy with excitement!

Me & Real Meb with Me & Cardboard Meb

Friday: The Expo

On Friday I went to the expo to spend the afternoon tweeting about the expo activities as part of my race ambassador duties. (And I was especially excited because I ended up tweeting from the actual CUCB account instead of my account. I had the power!)

Meb spoke at the expo and did a meet & greet afterwards. I listened from the sidelines and watched a new group of excited fans have their own moments with Meb.

Meb's Friday afternoon expo clinic
photo courtesy of Jen

Saturday: Elite Athlete / VIP Dinner

One of the perks of being a race ambassador is getting to go to the elite athlete / VIP dinner the evening before the race. Most of the athletes there are in track suits and firmly in a "race ready" mindset. Meb, however, was styling! He had a grey sweater with fancy elbow patches and grey dress pants. He was a sharp dressed man! 

Talking with Hawi, Meb's brother
photo courtesy of Kevin

Susan & I begged Kevin to take a picture of us with Meb & Hawi behind us...
Thank you Kevin! We know you think we are crazy. We are a little crazy.
photo courtesy of Kevin

As much as I wanted to talk to him, I didn't want to bother him. I know he would have been welcoming and gracious, but I also knew he had been surrounded by people wanting to talk to him all weekend. I did talk to his brother Hawi for a couple of minutes while we were in the buffet line. I made sure to tell him how much we appreciated the extra time on Thursday night.

Joan Benoit Samuelson & Meb getting a little dessert.
Mostly fruit, in case you are wondering.

A selfie with Joan & Meb! (yes, we are crazy.)
photo courtesy of Susan

Sunday: The Race

Meb was using the race as a tempo run for his Rio training and planned to pace the 6-minute mile group. I was a spectator for the race, ultimately opting to be there as a coach for the people who had trained with me rather than a runner (a story for another day). I watched everyone start, and I watched everyone finish. It was fun being a spectator for this race that I love so much.

I took a lot of pictures from the starting wave but I didn't see Meb. Later I heard that he was finishing up an interview and started late. A re-examination of my pictures led to a Meb spotting on the sidelines just before the race:

See circle on the right - that is Meb between the men in the yellow vests

It was much easier to spot Meb at the finish line, where he brought in the 6-minute pace group with ease. He crossed the finish line holding celebratory hands in the air with two runners and it just brought a smile to my face. It was such a typical thing for Meb to do. He celebrates others. It isn't just about him. It's one of the many inspirational things about Meb.

Meb congratulating Katie (whom I met via facebook when I posted this picture!)

More congratulations from Meb

And that's the weekend. Four days of Meb. Just being in his presence was awesome. Thank you, Meb, for being so classy, so generous, so genuine, so inspirational. Thank you for being you. 

Saturday, April 2, 2016

2016 Course Guide: Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run

It's that time again - one more day until the 2016 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run!  Here is a mile-by-mile course guide to help you visualize and plan your race.

- Looking for a picture course guide? Check out the Photo Run
- Looking for the 2015 (normal) course guide? click here

See important message from race organizers at the bottom of this post. Due to high winds and evolving safety precautions, information below may be subject to change. 

Water stops have been condensed for tomorrow:

Mile 0

  • You are here: Starting corrals, staging area
  • Photographer: There are lots of MarathonFoto photographers in the staging area before the race. If you get a pre-race picture, make sure your bib is showing! Otherwise your photo will end up in the "unidentified" batch. There are also photographers on both sides of the starting corrals (see tips for good Cherry Blossom photos here)
  • Water: To the right of the starting corrals (assuming you are facing forward)
  • Tips: Head to your corral early to get to the front where congestion is less of an issue

Mile 1

  • You are here: Independence Avenue
  • Tips: Don't go out too fast. Expect congestion. You might see the early runners coming toward you on the other side of Independence, now in their fifth mile. (Maybe you will see Meb and the 6:00 pace group!)

Mile 2

  • You are here: Memorial Bridge
  • Tips: In the middle of the bridge you can high-five runners on the opposite side for motivation

Mile 3

  • You are here: Passing the Lincoln Memorial and running along the Kennedy Center
  • Photographer: In 2015 the photographers were by the turnaround. 
  • Water: About 1/3 into the mile - watch for slippery cups!

Mile 4

  • You are here: Second half of the Kennedy Center out & back, Ohio Drive out & back
  • Water: Towards the end of the mile

Mile 5

  • You are here: Independence Avenue
  • Photographer: At the end of the mile; if the blossoms were still out it would have a beautiful cherry blossom backdrop.
  • Tips: Enjoy the view - Washington Monument on your left, Tidal Basin & Jefferson Memorial on your right

Mile 6

  • You are here: Rounding the Tidal Basin, entering East Potomac Park
  • Photographer: Here you have the opportunity for some scenic shots with the Washington Monument in the background. Watch for the photographer!
  • Entertainment: Mr. Incredible, The Marathon Bike Guy at the end of the mile with music to get you pumped for the trip around Hains Point  

Mile 7

  • You are here: East Potomac Park, heading towards Hains Point
  • Photographer: three-quarters of the way into the mile, a very scenic spot (especially when the cherry blossoms are out). Smile!
  • Water: At the start of the mile
  • Tips: This is a long stretch without many spectators and with the potential for wind. Prepare yourself mentally for this section, which lasts for 3 miles. 

Mile 8

  • You are here: Rounding the tip of Hains Point 
  • Water: Just before you round the tip of Hains Point
  • Entertainment: Trippy Rob and DJ Kay at the beginning of the mile with a rocking playlist 
  • Tips: There is usually a group handing out beer and oreos at the tip of Hains Point.

Mile 9

  • You are here: East Potomac Park, heading away from Hains Point
  • Water: About 3/4 of the way into the mile
  • Entertainment: Eric Hand at the beginning of the mile with motivating music 
  • Tips: This is the last of the "Hains Point" miles - you can do it!

Mile 10

  • You are here: Rounding the Tidal Basin and running up 15th Street to the finish
  • Photographer: Lots of them along 15th Street!
  • Entertainment: Bass Camp at the beginning of the mile with a driving beat
  • Tips: There is a small hill towards the end of the race - anticipate it and conquer it! There should be 1200m, 800m, 400m signs at the very end of the race to help you know when to turn on your final kick!

Finish Line

  • You are here: You did it! The Finish Line!
  • Photographer: At the finish line (don't look down at your watch and miss your big moment) and after the finish line (line up for your official finisher photos). Get those finisher photos taken - you'll be glad you did!
  • Water: Off to the left after you get out of the immediate finisher area in the finisher chute
  • Tips: The runners' village is off to the left. Plan a meeting spot ahead of time, sometimes texts come through quickly. In the village you will find water, heat sheets, food, medals (for those who ordered one), and bag check. If you are a faster runner, please only take one of each so us back-of-the-pack folks can have some post-race fuel, too. Amenities will be in the finisher chute.

  Course Map with Water & Entertainment locations (source

2015 Course Map - Photographer locations (source)
Staging Area (source)

Please note this important message from the race organizers, 2 pm, 4/2/16:

Based on high wind warnings of expected wind gusts in excess of 50 mph, and in the interest of the safety of our runners and volunteers, the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Run is implementing a range of race day adjustments.

At the present time, our plans are to move forward with both the 10-mile and 5K, but the Kids Run has been cancelled.

We are asking all of our participants to understand that these adjustments are being made for your safety while enabling us to conduct the race at all. These changes include:
  • Elimination of all race signage and overhead structures at the start and finish lines of both races 
  • Elimination of all on-course signage including split time clocks
  • Elimination of all tents on the Washington Monument Grounds except for the bag check tent and the main medical tent
  • Elimination of pre-race warm-ups and post-race awards ceremony

After you finish the race, 10 milers will receive heat blankets, water, medals and food as you head north on 15th Street, and then will be encouraged to head home. 5K finishers will receive the same amenities at the finish line of the 5K.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

...and the Answer is:

A couple of days ago I shared my internal struggle with the question of whether to run the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run next week or not. I knew my final training run would provide an important data point for my decision. It turns out that data point was definitive and I am sure I am making the right decision for me.

The Training Run

I had a 6-mile training run planned for this weekend, the longest run I've had in a month. I knew that how I felt during this run would be an important factor for me to consider as I made my decision. 

  • Mile 2: My legs felt heavy and my body felt weary. I reminded myself it usually takes a couple of miles to completely warm up and find my groove. 

  • Mile 4: There was no groove to be found. I knew I was going to the run the 5K instead of the 10 Mile Run. 

  • Mile 6: I was certain of, and fully at peace with, my decision.

While I know I am capable of running 10 miles in the allotted time next weekend, I won't really enjoy it with that kind of physical and mental fatigue. And above all, I want to enjoy and fully experience next weekend. So the 5K it is! 

Why This Choice is Awesome

Here are all of the good things that come with this decision:

  • I can be fully present as a Coach. I will go in on the metro with runners from my =PR= Reston Training group, meet up with others pre-race, see each corral start, and be near the finish to cheer them on. With the race pressure off for me, I can focus on them - their jitters, excitement, last-minute questions, and accomplishments.

  • I can enjoy all the weekend activities. There is a lot of cool stuff at the expo, but when I run the 10 Mile Run I am focused on limiting time on my feet. Now I can spend that time more freely and experience more of it. I am looking forward to meeting Meb Keflezighi (!!!) at =PR= and I am excited to go to the elite athlete dinner the night before the race (one of the amazing perks of being a race ambassador).

  • I can experience parts of the race I haven't seen before. I'll get to experience the 5K. I'll see the 1K Kids' Run. I can even watch the elite athletes start since I don't have to be in a corral waiting for my own 10 Mile Run start. I've missed all of this in past years while I was running the 10 miler and it will be cool to see other parts of the race day fun.

  • I'll run a race distance I can enjoy. While today's run signaled to me that 10 miles would feel like a chore, 3.1 is right up my under-trained alley. I'll still get to run past the tidal basin and see any lingering cherry blossoms, run along the Memorial Bridge while high-fiving the runners on the other side of the bridge and run triumphantly across a finish line.

  • I can live-tweet all of the fun! With this more relaxed schedule, and access to more activities than I've experienced in the past, I can document and share the fun live on twitter: Meb, expo, elite athlete dinner, and Sunday's adventures from the early morning metro trip all the way through the awards ceremony and post-race brunch (another race ambassador perk)...I can tweet it all! Thanks to Coach Shannon for planting the live-tweeting seed in my brain.

I hope you can join me (in-person or virtually) for this weekend's Cherry Blossom adventure!

Friday, March 25, 2016

To Run or Not To Run...

To Run or Not to Run...that is the question. Maybe it doesn't quite carry the same weight as Hamlet's query, but it seems to be weighing on my mind pretty heavily.

We are eight days out from the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run, and I am under-trained. Which is ironic when you consider I've spent the last ten weeks helping other runners be well-prepared for this same race. So how did I get here? Let's review...


  • I'm going to move up to the intermediate training program this year!
  • It will be tough to fit the workouts in with everything on my plate right now, but I trained for a marathon last year and only missed one workout. How much harder can this be?
  • Training: on track with intermediate program.


  • Wow, I forgot how much time coaching takes. I'll just switch to the beginner program.
  • Work is kicking my butt this month...I've missed a lot of the weekday training runs.
  • Training: mostly on track with beginner program, as long as you don't look too closely at the weekdays...


  • Huh, work is even more intense this month. That business trip to California sucked up almost a week of my time.
  • Ah, the business trip that keeps on giving - I picked up a cold along the way. I am sleeping over 10 hours a night and still feel exhausted. WTF?
  • Must. Keep. Working. Oops, sinus infection. Still exhausted. Finally go to the doctor and take some time off.
  • Training: 5 miles the first weekend...and then nothing...until March 22. Training completely off the rails.


  • Should I run the 10-mile or switch to the 5k?
  • 5k cheerleaders:
    • Ego: You can't come anywhere close to your previous 10-mile times in your current under-trained state.
    • Nervous Nelly: You've barely run in the past month. You might injure yourself if you take on too much.
    • Coach Kim: After the 5k you can cheer at the finish line for all of the runners in your training program.
  • 10-mile cheerleaders:
    • Competitive Spirit: March was a bust but you had a good base in February. You got up to 8 miles. You can certainly run 10, get out there and see what you are capable of even in your under-trained state.
    • Social Butterfly: You love this race! You want to be on the course, running with & talking to other runners, experiencing the full race. You have to run it!

At this point, I honestly don't know what I'm going to choose. Any advice? 

Saturday, March 12, 2016


Today marks my first DNS - did not start - in a race. It's a little bittersweet. I was planning to run the Rock 'n' Roll DC Half Marathon with Jen, Lynn, & Marian. It was especially exciting because it was Lynn & Marian's first half! I couldn't wait to be there to support them and experience it through their eyes.

Jen, Marian, & Lynn at the start - such happy anticipation!
photo courtesy of Marian

I signed up about a month ago to surprise them. I wasn't training for a half, but I was training for a ten-miler so I figured I could pull it off. And then I got sick. It was 10 days before the race, I had just gotten back from a business trip to California, and I woke up with one of those "...sniffling, sneezing, aching, coughing, stuffy-head, fever..." colds that the NyQuil commercials made famous back in the 80s.

A week before the race I was still optimistic about the half marathon. Three days before the race, still fairly sick, I started considering the range of options:

  • Run the half marathon with Lynn: this was my original plan when I registered & it seemed unlikely
  • Run the half marathon with Jen: Jen runs a little slower than Lynn and it might be easier for me to keep up with her
  • Run the 5k: I'd still be running a race, and be there to celebrate with them at the finish
  • Cheer at the finish line: I wouldn't be going in with them in the morning, but I could sleep a little later, and would still be there to celebrate with them at the finish
  • Stay home and rest: no running, no in-person celebrating, just rest for my weary body

Thursday we headed to the expo. At this point I knew the half marathon was out of reach - I could run it untrained and healthy, or well-trained and sick, but untrained and sick was a recipe for ending up much sicker. I was planning on the 5k instead; it seemed like a good compromise.

Jen, sporting the most hilarious expo purchase!
photo courtesy of Jen

Thursday night Freddy got sick and I was up washing sheets and cleaning up the mess. The sheer exhaustion I felt on Friday, on top of still being sick, made it clear that I wasn't going to be running or even spectating for the race. I allowed myself a short pity party, and then focused on other ways I could be there for my friends.

We texted about the course, what time to meet at the metro, what to wear, what to eat and when to eat it. I felt helpful! It always makes me happy to feel helpful. The next morning (after 10.5 hours of sleep!) I got up about 15 minutes before they started running. I pulled up the RnR runner tracking and entered their names. I saw them start at 8:18. 

What a breath-taking sunrise!
photo courtesy of Lynn

Lynn sent me her Garmin live-tracking information and I was able to vicariously run the whole race with her. Jen sent me her live-tracking information about six miles in and I "ran" with her too. She even texted with me a little bit while she was running which helped me feel like I was there cheering for her. I saw when each of them finished. I bought them finisher t-shirts at the online store. We texted back and forth after the race.

Lynn's livetracking data. Why is mile 4 missing?
She had to run back to find her sunglasses and confused the GPS!

I can't wait to hear the full details of their races. I am so proud of all of them, and so disappointed to have not been there in person. But I am so grateful for the technology that made it possible for me to be there virtually, running vicariously, and cheering for my awesome friends. You go girls! 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Track...In a Parking Garage

Our training group has track on Tuesday nights at the local high school. Over the past few years, we've had bad weather fall disproportionately on Tuesdays...snow and ice in the winter, lightning in the summer. I guess Mother Nature isn't a fan of speed-work.

Last week the track was closed by the public school system in anticipation of icy weather that didn't actually materialize. Since it was safe for people to drive, we moved our track workout to a parking garage. Here's how we did it.

  • Go to the top. We went to the top of a nine-level parking garage, where there aren't any cars.

No traffic up here!

  • Measure. We used "the wheel" to measure the course. Coach Adam measured a 600 meter course, putting cones at 200 meter intervals.

Coach Mike and "the wheel"

  • Station the coaches. We had four coaches, one at each marker. Adam manned the start, I was at 200 meters, Jeff held down the fort at 400 meters, and Mike had the loneliest post - 600 meters. We cheered for the runners to keep morale high, served as reference points for distance, played music, and Mike allegedly did push-ups to try to lure more runners to his post.

My "post" (get it?) - 200 meter mark

While the garage has its drawbacks - it's not very scenic, the concrete is a challenging running surface, and the ramp can't be completely avoided (resulting in a tough hill), it's far better than a cancelled workout. Kudos to the runners who toughed it out in the parking garage! Building mental toughness is an important part of training.

Way to persevere!