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!