Saturday, January 23, 2016

Toenail Recovery Timeline

My index toes are longer than my big toes, and they really took a beating during the Marine Corps Marathon. What does toenail trauma look like? And how long does it take to recover? Check out my toenail timeline (and first attempt at an infographic!)

I suspect in another couple of months my toenails will look close to normal again. I thought about waiting until they were back to normal to complete my timeline, but it's been almost three months now and I figured they are close enough!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Cherry Blossom Training Kickoff Party

Last night we kicked off PR Reston's Cherry Blossom Training Program with a happy hour/gear up party. It was a fun and informal way for participants to:

  • Meet the coaches & other runners
  • Ask questions about the program
  • Receive a generous discount on gear and apparel
  • Enjoy cherry blossom cupcakes 
  • Register for the race using PR premium promo codes
  • Preview the official race shirt
  • Opt for a New Balance/PR Training shirt/hoodie/jacket from a previous year's program

It was an especially timely event since the impending "snowzilla" means we are almost surely going to miss our informal kickoff run this Sunday. We were able to assure everyone that missing this run would not impact the training plan (which doesn't officially start until Monday), and that we would alert them by email about Sunday's status. 

Cherry Blossom cupcakes and tasty beverages

A little socializing before the main event

PR Owner Ray Pugsley discusses the right gear for cold weather training
(photo courtesy of Laurentina Photography)

Race Registration

Almost all of the participants are in the "premium" program, which comes with a 2016 Cherry Blossom race bib. PR gives them a race code, and they use that race code to register for the race. We still have a limited number of registration codes available as of 1/22/16.

  • To make it as easy as possible, we provided codes onsite and access to laptops and iPads
  • We also had "visual aids" to show how the "upgrade" race shirt compared to the standard shirt and what the medal is like
  • This helped with the registration process, when runners need to decide whether to opt for add-ons like the tech shirt and the medal

The blue shirt is the 2016 "standard" shirt;
The upgrade shirt is red and made of technical fabric;
The medal is from last year, but gives an idea of the size & style

New Balance/PR Training Gear

Each year participants receive a long-sleeve training premium from New Balance. It could be a shirt, hoodie, half zip, or jacket. We don't know what they will look like until they come in! 

This year's training premium won't come in for a couple more weeks, and participants were given the option of selecting a past year's premium if they preferred. For some, it was like "Let's Make a Deal" as they tried to decide between the jacket or shirt they held in their hands and holding out to see what will be behind door #2. 

Past year's training premiums presented some tempting options
(photo courtesy of Laurentina Photography)

Marti opted for a blue half zip with coral accents
(photo courtesy of Laurentina Photography)

Ready to Run!

We aren't going to let a little snow dampen our enthusiasm for starting our training. We may miss our informal run this Sunday, and we could be doing speedwork in a parking garage on Tuesday rather than the high school track, but we are ready to run and start our path towards making our Cherry Blossom race goals a reality!

2016 PR Reston Cherry Blossom Coaches, clockwise from left:
Jeff, Traci, Stacy, Kristen, me, Laura
(photo courtesy of Laurentina Photography)

Monday, January 18, 2016

Cherry Blossom Coaches Get Ready!

Potomac River Running's Cherry Blossom Training Program starts this weekend (don't even talk to me about the potential historic snowstorm that is coming...), and I am really excited. I'm the head coach for the Reston program, and I'm working with a team of five coaches who have so much enthusiasm and commitment that it is going to be contagious!

The team met yesterday to get to know each other, learn about how the program works, and brainstorm ways to make it fun while providing all the information our participants need to make their race goals a reality.

The Coaching Team!
Clockwise from lower left: Traci, Stacy, Kristen, Jeff, me, Laura

We are planning:

  • Theme runs for Mardi Gras, Valentine's Day, and St. Patrick's Day;
  • Informational seminars on running form, strength training, fueling & hydration, and training smart;
  • Coffee with Coaches sessions on technology and on everything you need to know for race day;
  • And more!

Last year's Mardi Gras theme run
photo courtesy of Laurentina Photography

Most immediately, we are planning a kickoff event on Thursday evening at the PR Reston store for both registered Cherry Blossom trainees and potential trainees who want to learn a little bit more about the program. I'm looking forward to meeting this year's runners and starting their Cherry Blossom journeys off on solid footing. See you Thursday!

PS - it's not too late to join us! More details and registration information are here

Friday, January 1, 2016

Fairfax Four-Miler Recap (2015)

In the days leading up to the Fairfax Four-Miler, I found that I was having trouble generating the same level of enthusiasm I had for the race in 2014. When my packet was inadvertently left out of the group packet pickup, I even took it as a sign that maybe I should skip it this year, and stay home with my family and my sick kitty. A few things helped get me out there:

  1. Rick and Freddy picked up my packet for me after Freddy's haircut - thanks guys!
  2. I saw a post on my friend Lisa's twitter feed that said "Make your last run of 2015 count for 2016!
    • After reading that, how could I make my last planned run of 2015 a DNS (do not start)? 
    • I haven't ever had a DNS, and it would be a real cop out to take one just because I was feeling a little sorry for myself.
  3. Freddy helped me play with glow-stick accessories to jazz up my outfit.
  4. I knew there was a great group of ladies that I was meeting up with for the race, and they always bring joy and support into my life. Running with them would be good for my soul.

Glow-stick & Other Accessories

Glow-stick accessories make this nighttime race even more fun. Although I am reminded each time I am out there on the course that it is pretty well lit in most places, so the glow-sticks don't really carry the same impact as actual lights. Maybe I'll remember that for next year. Here are some of the fun things we made:

This was my favorite accessory - a rainbow flower.
I used safety pins to put it on the front of my shirt.

Freddy used these triple connectors to make me rainbow bracelets

I found a way to make a tiara of sorts out of the headband accessory

This is the more traditional "mouse ears" version of the headband

Freddy came up with the idea of using the double connectors to make a single bracelet.
It gave you the flexibility to adjust the size and they laid better against my belt.

Here's my ensemble (I ended up adding a glow-stick necklace at the race)

These aren't glowsticks, they are finger lights.
Susan got us a whole box which we put on our fingers and shoes.
I left them on my shoes so I can turn them on when running in the dark.

Deb & Laurie model flashing snowflake headbands Molly got at Meadowlark.
They looked great out on the course! More impactful than glow-sticks.

The Race

I met up with my friends in the Safeway parking lot that is a couple of blocks from the race. We shared accessories and helped each other get festively decked out for the run. The Safeway parking lot is easy to exit after the race, close to many stores with bathrooms, and only a couple of blocks from the start.

From left: me, Lucy, Laurie, Norma, Laura, Deb, Roz, Shawn

I knew I wasn't quite in PR shape, so I ran one of my favorite kinds of races - social at the start, competitive at the end. Deb and I ran together for the first 3 miles. Deb moved to Lesotho just as I was getting to know her. I wanted to get to know her better and really enjoyed sharing some conversation with her for most of the race. 

Then for the last mile, I ran hard to see what I could do. I got progressively faster over the mile, and for the last tenth I went from an 8:30 min/mile pace to 6:30. That little burst of speed at the end felt good. And Rick texted me that I "beat" his time from his New Year's Eve race - the catch being that his race was a 10k, while mine was 4 miles. But I'll take it!

Crossing the finish line
photo courtesy of Pacers Running

Post-race photo - note the banana in the upper left corner. There were 4 of them!

The official Pacers "Photo Booth" picture

This colored fountain close to the finish was mesmerizing
After the race, some of us went home, some went off to other parties, and some went out for a beer before heading for home or other parties. Last year I went out for the beer, this year I really wanted to get back home. I was so glad that I had pushed myself to come out and race, and I let that be enough. Driving through my neighborhood on the way home, I was struck by the beauty of the Christmas lights lining the streets. I felt peaceful and grateful. 

Happy New Year to everyone - wishing you a runtastic 2016!