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.