Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bishop Ireton Cardinal 5k Race Report

I won!

27:10 (crushed my goal time).

3rd place in my age division (20-29 female).

My prize was a pair of way-too-big-even-for-my-husband socks. haha.

I pretty much followed my plan.  Started out fast, dialed it back half-way, and I finished strong.  I wish I wouldn't have slowed down so much around 2.25 miles.  Overall I'm very happy, and I'll work on my stamina for next time.

The race was held in Alexandria, VA on some trails that I was familiar with.  The course was well marked, with volunteers pointing us in the right direction at the turns.  Some of the turns were at acute angles, which slowed me down a little.  It was a pretty small race (maybe 100-150?), so although the trails aren't that wide, I didn't have any problems with crowding.  The trails were open for public use, and we did come across a lot of other runners, walkers, and some dogs, but everyone was polite and it wasn't an issue.  Miles were well marked.  Entry fee was a little steep ($30) but it went to the Bishop Ireton High School Athletic Boosters, so at least the money is going to a good place.  There was a folk band playing after the race.  The socks were a terrible prize, but what can you really expect for age division 3rd place?  I'm not complaining, because something is better than nothing.

What is the worst prize you've ever gotten?

Friday, October 15, 2010

5k Goal Time

I honestly have no idea what my goal time should be for my 5k this weekend.  The only time I know my pace is when I'm on a treadmill.  I don't have a Garmin and I don't wear a watch, which means when I run outside I have no idea how fast or slow I'm going.  I only know how I feel.  I actually do much better (mentally) when I don't know exactly how far I've gone or what my time is.

But this does make it difficult to set race goals.

Current official 5k PR::: 29:26 (9:28 pace) from 2007
Best time that I am aware of::: at the National Half last March I ran the first 10k in 57:05 (9:12 pace)
Training so far::: I calculated that I ran 5k in my speed workout at 9:23 minutes per mile, and I ran 2 miles in under 16:00 this week.

Based on these factors, I think it is an attainable goal (and would be awesome) to run the 5k in under 28 minutes (9:00 pace).

The plan: start fast, take it back a notch in the middle if I have to, end with a strong kick.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

BREAKING NEWS:::: I am fast!

Seriously people, I just ran the fastest 2 miles of my life!

Mile 1 was the fastest single mile I had ever run, until I ran mile 2 even faster.  It must have been the deep dish pizza I ate last night!

The whole truth is that I was on a treadmill, and I know it's not the same as running outside, but I am still stoked about this.

I had no grand plans of making this the day I would push myself beyond what I normally do; it just happened.  I had 15 minutes before my total body workout class, so I hopped on the treadmill to get in a quick mile.  I ran a quarter of a mile at 6.0 mph, and 30 seconds into that warm up, it hit me.  I was going to run fast today.  I wanted to go fast right away, but forced myself to finish the warm up.  I intended to increase the speed to an 8:00 pace, but I acidentally increased the speed to 7.6 mph (7:54 pace) and decided to stick with it.  After a mile here, I felt awesome and proud, so I kept going.  Half a mile later, I was feeling the stitch in my side and labored breathing, and call me crazy, but I actually liked it - I was working hard for that stitch!  I increased my speed again to 8.0 mph (7:30 pace) and knocked out another half mile.  I was late for my class, so I stopped there, but I am still considering this one of my best running days ever.

Mile 1: 7:54 minutes
Mile 2: 7:42 minutes

It is shocking to see those numbers written down.  I think 7 is my favorite number today! Woot woot!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Races I'm Thinking About

Since my 5k Turkey Trot plans went down the drain with some changes to our usual Thanksgiving family visitation schedule, I've had to find some different races.

Bishop Ireton Cardinal 5K on October 17: This race is held by the Bishop Ireton Athletic Boosters, and I have no idea how big it is. This is only the second year for the race, but it is chip timed, so how bad could it be?

Alexandria Turkey Trot 5-Miler on November 25: I love turkey trots that are actually on Thanksgiving.  There's no better way to start the day than to be thankful for your health and run a race (and not feel guilty later in the day when you stuff your face with food).  I've never raced 5 miles before, but it is the only Turkey Trot I could find, and I'm excited about adding more race distances to my resume. I'm very familiar with the course, and I like it.

Jingle All The Way 10K on December 13: Why not continue training past Thanksgiving and run with bells on?!? (Do people actually wear bells for this??) By December I should be in good shape to rock a 10k.  I'm also really familiar with this course, and it should be good (if it isn't too windy!).

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Speed Workout Numero Uno

Yesterday I did my first speed workout.  I based it on the recommended interval run from Hal Hidgon.

warm up 1 mile @ 6 mph
run .25 miles @ 7 mph
recover .25 miles @ 6 mph
repeat the quarter-mile set 4 more times.

Hal suggests the speedy quarter-miles be run at the pace you would run a mile race.  I picked 7 mph (or an 8:34 pace) because I wanted to start with something I knew I could accomplish.  Not being able to finish my first speed workout would be a total downer for the rest of my training.  I probably should have run the fast parts faster and the recovery parts slower, but it is a huge mental thing with me that I hate to put the treadmill below 6 mph.

What is your favorite speed workout?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Girl's Best Friend

A good sports bra is hard to find.  For years I wore two sports bras at once, because one never did the trick, and even that still wasn't great. I assumed that since I was busty I was just not built for running/jumping/etc., and that definitely had an impact on how much (or little) I exercised.  Even when I did work out, I certainly didn't push myself to the limit because I was too self-conscious.  However, a while ago a found the best sports bra.


             the Powerback Underwire Sports Bra by Champion!


1. Minimized Bouncing: The construction of this bra is such that bouncing is contained in all directions.
2. Adjustable Straps: Hooray!
3. Price: $40 each (which is a lot better than many comparable bras), but there are often Buy 1 Get 1 Half-Off sales.
4. Lift and Separation: I look and feel good when I wear this bra. No one wants a uniboob.
5. Solid Construction: I’ve had some of my bras for over a year, and I wear and wash them a lot, but they haven’t lost any of their integrity. The fabric is nice.
6. Underwire: I’ve never felt any discomfort from the underwires, and they aren’t coming out at all.
1. Difficult to Don: The racerback closes with 3 hook and eye closures. You have to have some flexibility in your arms/shoulders in order to get the bra closed. (I have come close, but never had to resort to asking the poor soul at the locker next to mine to strap me in.)
2. Sizing: They run true to size, but Champion should definitely carry these bras in sizes larger than DD!
The pros totally outweigh the cons (unless, of course, you can't clasp the bra by yourself).  Champion has never given me anything for free (although I wouldn't mind that!) and we have no relationship.  I just wanted to put this out there for girls like me whose lack of a good sports bra is holding them back.
P.S. I am sorry about the formatting. I copied and pasted and something happened, but I don't know how to fix it. You'd think an engineer would be good with technology. Not so- I'm pretty much a technophobe.  I will try to be better.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fall Training Schedule

My Turkey Trot 5k plans have been foiled, because I'm not going to be where I thought I was going to be for Thanksgiving, so that race is out.  However, I'm still going to start with this training schedule and figure out the race schedule at a later date.  This training schedule will get me running regularly, and that's good enough for me.  I've found that just by getting our there and running, I improve.

The training schedule is based on Hal Higdon's Intermediate 5k training program.

To be honest, this schedule seems really tough for me, and I totally wasn't expecting to log so many miles training for such a short distance.  I hope I can do it, but if I have to shorten some of the Tuesday and Thursday runs in order to get a good strength workout in, I won't fret.  I'm trying to work on my speed, and this is my first attempt at doing any kind to speedwork or tempo runs, and I'm slightly frightened of the intervals on Mondays.  We shall see.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Alternative Workouts

Thanks for the encouraging comments about taking a little break from running!  Instead of running, I've been doing some workout videos, taking long walks (like last week I took a 4.5 mile walk around the DC monuments), and playing tennis.  Last night was my weakest workout yet, and I'm not sure if I should really count it.  I played Dance Dance Revolution on workout mode for 40 minutes.

DDR Dance Party!

Does DDR count as exercise?

I can't figure out how to create a poll inside my post :(

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September Goals

Ok so I think I got to 26 miles in my quest to 80 in August.  Good thing I never actually signed up!  I'm going to change my workout goals for September.  I haven't been enjoying running lately.  Simply, my goal is to get some form of exercise each day.  This may be going on a run, a class at the gym, or a workout DVD in my living room.  It could even be a long walk.  I'm not going to force myself to run if I don't want to.  I'll pick back up with my running in late September.  I'm working on an 8 week training plan for my annual Turkey Trot 5k!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Post-wedding Lbs.

I just busted the hook and eye closure at the waist of my skirt!  I really need to get back into running to lose these wedded-bliss pounds.

I did get in 6.5 miles on Saturday, but I haven't been finding the motivation to run with enough frequency.  Hopefully the busted skirt will be that motivation.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What Not to Wear

I can pretty much run a 5k in anything. But once I started increasing my mileage, I really started to understand why I need running gear. Here are some of the lessons I learned:

1. Don't run in Soffe shorts. You know, those little cheerleading shorts... I don't even know why I own these. [Actually, I do. I stole one pair from my sister and found the other on sale for $3.99. What can I say, I'm frugal.] The obvious downfall of these shorts is that they are made for little teenage cheerleaders. I like to wear mine pretty loose so as to not look like I am trying to be 16 again, and so my butt cheeks stay appropriately covered, and this is what poses the not-so-obvious downfall of running in the Soffe shorts. The seams in these shorts are actually pretty large. These seams rub against my thighs, which is fine on shorter runs, but very bad for longer runs. Ouchie.

2. This second one also stems from my frugality. The free t-shirts you get for participating in various events definitely are not the best to run in. I acquired most of mine in college, and some of those suckers are really thick! They do not breathe and they make me overheat even on low-mileage runs.

3. Victorias Secrect sports bra. I tried on a bunch of their VSX line of sports bras about a year ago, and purchased one. I guess no one really liked that sports bra since I can't even find a picture of it online.  There are several reasons why I hate this bra:

  • Breathing is difficult. This one is half my fault. I bought a 34 and should have gotten a 36. I knew the 34 was tight when I tried it on, but I expected it to stretch out over time like most bras do. So far, there has been no stretching (although I've only worn it about 5 times since I hate it so much). I guess the stitching on the band is super strong. This bra just isn't very elastic at all, which you would think would be a good thing to eliminate any bouncing. However, it really defeats the purpose if you can't breathe.
  • The straps constantly fall down. Whoever designed this bra must not have been thinking straight. And I obviously wasn't thinking straight when I bought it either. There is a reason that most sports bras are some form of the racerback design.
So basically I can't even run one mile in this bra without the straps falling down and not being able to breathe due to a band that is too tight and doesn't stretch. Put this bra together with the free t-shirts and the Soffe shorts and I might as well not even put my sneakers on.

Stay tuned for a later post on my favortie piece of running gear! (HINT: It is the most fabulous sports bra ever!)

Monday, August 9, 2010

I want... Penn State Shorts!

I have been wanting these shorts for a while, but my birthday just passed and I forgot to ask for them :(.  I suppose I can wait until Christmas, or at least a sale.
Family Clothesline

So far I've logged 5 miles, which means I am way behind on reaching 80 miles in August.  But I've got a plan and I'm considering another half marathon in October.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ready to Run

I am back from an almost month-long running hiatus. And, holy cow, I got 4 comments on my last post!

I didn't work out from July 9th to August 1st, but the good news is that I am now married <3

But it's time to lose those honeymoon pounds and hit the pavement!

I saw (via it's what moves me) that Tall Mom issued a challenge. 80 miles in August. I'm in, and I'm going to up the ante by only counting miles run. No walking for me.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Some People!

So I am lucky enough to have a gym with free classes at my work. The only problem with the fact that they are free is that you get random people at the classes. I've been going to my Total Body class every Tuesday and Thursday when I am not on travel for about 5 weeks now. I love the class and the instructor and most of the people in the class. There is a guy who was at some of the first classes, but has been gone for at least 3 whole weeks. Today I got to class on time with one other lady and we both set up our equipment (a step, a mat, two sets of hand weight, and a body bar). She set herself up to the left of the room, and there were Yoga people still on the right side of the room, so I set myself up a safe work-out distance away from her, also on the left side of the room.

Enter guy.

By this time the yoga people had cleared out. He is carrying his step trying to find a space to set up.

I'm so worked up about this I am going to make you all a diagram:

{ok, 10 minutes later, and I am back with my diagram}

And guess where this guy decides to set up his stuff! I am not making this up... he puts his step...

SERIOUSLY?!? He didn't even try to stagger himself! And there was plenty of room in front of us to stagger if he really needed to be on the left side of the room.

So the other lady is like, "you're kind of close aren't you?" And he doesn't really respond. He just basically stands there and looks around. It was clear he was not going to move, so I said, "would you like me to move?" and he was like "yeah". I don't even remember his response being audible. It wasn't in an "I'm better than you and I should be able to workout wherever I want" kind of way. It was more like an "I'm a total idiot, have no social skills, don't know gym etiquette, and have some sort of strange need to put my step at this extact spot" way.

I also have to add that at this point I was established at my spot with all my equipment, and he just put his step down. So now I have to move my step, 2 sets of hand weights, floor mat, body bar, water bottle, and badge over to accomodate him. Why do these things happen to me?

Does this happen to anyone else? Isn't this kind of gym etiquette obvious?!?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pacers Fun Run

After feeling disheartened about not being able to run as fast a Daris from the Biggest Loser, I quickly got over it. I'm never going to get better if I just feel down on myself and don't run! So on Wednesday I ran a little over 5 miles around the Tidal Basin. Yesterday I did my Total Body workout class at noon and then ran 4 miles with my sister, friend, and fiance as a part of the Pacers Fun Run in the evening.

Pacers is a running store with a couple locations in the DC area. They organize free fun runs on certain days throughout the week. Check out their website if you are interested:

This was my first Pacers Fun Run, but it won't be my last. It was an out and back course. We started at the Pacers store, ran through Old Town down to a section of the Mount Vernon Trail, and back. There were different pace groups (from 7:15 to 11:00 and beyond if needed), but I just ran at a comfortable pace. Some people did 5miles, but we decided to do 4.25, and others stuck with 3 miles. Overall it was fun. Next time I will try to meet some new people.

My abs were cramping terribly for the last mile and for a couple hours after the run. I think it was caused by (1) working out earlier in the day, complete with ab work, and (2) only eating 3 crackers after work before the run, which started a 7pm. I will try to do better next week.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Biggest Loser Marathon

First, congrats to the 4 Biggest Loser contestants who finished their marathon. Michael and Ashley finished at 6:26 and Koli finished at 6:08. Daris finished in 4:02. Seriously?!?! I think they ran the marathon like 5 months after arriving on the Biggest Loser campus. I am amazed and happy for Daris, but does this make anyone else feel inadequate? I can't even run a half at that pace. I know he has basically been training like it was his job, but 4:02? That's 9:15 mins/per. Maybe I should try to contact him and ask him what his secret is. I'm really curious about his training plan too.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

30 Day Shred

I've been using this DVD on and off for the past year. There are three different 30 minute workouts on the DVD, ranked by difficulty. The first time I tried Level 1, I couldn't finish. My cardio ability was nowhere near where it needed to be to do all those jumping jacks. I had to put my little 3 lb weights down and do the movements without them- and it was still tough. I've heard some people actually do this video for 30 days in a row, but I never tried that. I've just always used it in rotation with my other workouts. Since my first Shred workout, I've increased my weights from 3 to 5 lbs. I'm pretty good at Level 1, and I'm working on Level 2. I'm not really serious about progressing through the levels, but I think if I put the effort into it, I could see even more changes.

What I Like about the DVD: Jillian Michaels is tough. She tells you not to stop. She says when it starts to get tough is when it counts the most. I like the way she pushes people (and me). The workouts are really challenging. It's only 30 minutes, which makes it mentally easier to push through. It is definitely doable in the living room if you push the coffee table out of the way. It doesn't matter if you're on carpet or a hard floor. I like Anita and Natalie (the girls in the video). Anita does modifications; Natalie goes all out.

What I Don't Like About the DVD: In Levels 2 and 3, there are some quick transitions between doing some cardio on the floor (like mountain climbers) and cardio on your feet. I sometimes get dizzy when I stand up too fast. I hate all the exercises done in plank, but that's probably just because I'm not good at them. I wish Jillian did more of the workout with us.

Results: The biggest thing I noticed is increased stamina and definitely strength. My arms, legs, and abs are stronger than before. I can't really contribute any weight loss directly to The Shred (sorry Jillian!). When I first started the video I wasn't working out at all and I could only wear about 3 pairs of pants because they were the only ones in my closet that fit. So obviously beginning some sort of workout program is going to help you lose weight. I didn't follow a strict diet. But with The Shred and some running, I was able to lose 5 lbs and keep it off easily.

Do I Recommend It?: I definitely do. It is one of my go-to workouts, especially when I am pressed for time. I have the sequence for Level 1 memorized, so I can do the workout outside or in my gym at work without the video.

Rating: On a scale of 1-10, (where 1 is the DVD that comes with an as seen on tv electrostimulation ab belt, and 10 is the perfect video I've yet to find) I'd give the DVD a solid 7.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Great Workout!

It is just about two months until W-Day (my wedding day!!), so I really need to get working on toning my arms. I'm still planning to keep up my running 3 days a week (maybe a 3 miler, a 5-7 miler, and an 8-12 miler), but I'm going to focus more on strength. I'm incredibly lucky to have a gym at my work, complete with group classes. Today I decided to go to my first class. It was called Total Body.

I got to the gym early and there was a yoga class still in progress in the group room, so I decided to run a little on the treadmill in the main gym. 1.5 miles at 7mph. hooray! I would have kept going, but it was time for class to start.

Total Body is a 45 min class. It is very similar to Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred (which I will post my review of soon). We did circuit training with cardio/legs (jumping jacks, squat thrusts, jump rope, etc.), ab work (planks, crunches, etc.), and tons of arm work (presses, bicep curls, lateral raises, etc.). I totally loved it. And here's the main thing- I was awesome at it! I can't believe I did so well after having just run a fast 1.5 miles. I'm totally going back on Tuesday!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Frederick Half Marathon Recap

We drove up to Frederick on Saturday afternoon, picked up our race packets, checked into the hotel, and went to downtown Frederick. We had dinner reservations with our group at an Italian place, but we got there early, so we walked around town for a bit. I was pleasantly surprised with Frederick! It is a great little town with lots of shops, restaurants and bars, and history. I highly recommend Brewer's Alley. I got a tasting of 6 of their beers, and it was awesome.

Race day was hot and humid. At the start of the race it was already 71 degrees. I wasn't used to running in such heat or humidity. I wasn't feeling great, so I didn't eat my usual pre-run granola bar. Before the race started I knew I'd have to stop and use the porta-potty, which I wasn't happy about.

Miles 1-5 started out fine. I hit 5 miles at just under 50 mins, and I was okay with that. Somewhere around 6 miles I stopped to pee. I almost started walking after that, but somehow I found a spring in my step and started running again. In the second half the hills started getting to me. Between miles 8 and 9 I began walking, but there was a lady that I had been going back and forth with, and she caught up to me and encouraged me, so I started running again. Thank you, whoever you were. For the rest of the race I took longer walking breaks at the water stations and the end of mile 11/beginning of mile 12 probably had the most walking in it. I ran the last mile.

My time was 2:28:02.

That is over 20 minutes worse than my last half marathon 6 weeks ago. Total bummer. I'm happy that I finished. I'm not happy that I walked. I think I should have eaten my granola bar even though I wasn't feeling well. I should have kept the intensity in my training between the last half and this one. I had to fight harder in this race than in my first race, but I can't not blame that on my poor training for the last 6 weeks. It should have been easier, had I followed the training plan and not skipped runs.

Overall feelings: I'm proud of myself for doing it, and my time is nothing to be upset about. But I can't let this be the last half that I race - I want to do better.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Good Week

I've been incredibly busy this week with wedding planning, but I'm happy to report that the new running schedule is going great! I ran all of my scheduled runs this week along with the strength and cross training. I had forgotten how great the accomplishment of simply following the plan feels. My five miles on Tuesday and today were slow. I didn't time myself, but I felt like I was a turtle. Every step on Tuesday required serious effort, but I didn't stop. I'm proud of myself for being able to take the run one step at a time (instead of being frustrated that I had so far to go until the finish) and showing self-discipline by not stopping, two things I'm not very good at.

This weekend I've decided I will do a 9 or 10 mile long run. Maybe 11. But not 13. And I'm really looking forward to playing tennis with my sister!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Cherry Blossoms

I stopped yesterday during my 9 mile run/walk to take a few pictures on my iPhone. The cherry blossoms were in their blooming peak. These pictures don't do it justice! It was way too crowded to run around the tidal basin, and I'm sure it will be even more crowded this weekend, so I'll stay away from DC for my run on Saturday. But I hope to spend some more time with the cherry blossoms this weekend.

New Month = New Plan

I've been really struggling with running since the half marathon. I haven't been getting up early to run in the mornings. I've been skipping runs. I've been walking halfway through. It makes no sense that I dragged myself out of bed in freezing temperatures to run, but I can't do it now in gorgeous weather. So I'm giving myself a new plan. I've based it on the last four weeks of Hal Higdon's Novice HM Training Schedule. It will take me right up to the Frederick Half.

(# cross = minutes of cross training; "+" = add strength training after the run)

I'm feeling great about this plan for several reasons:
  1. I need to remember that getting out there and running 3 miles is an accomplishment. It's not much in the distance running world, but ask almost anyone else and they will tell you 3 miles is great.
  2. Anything more than 6-7 miles is still no joke for me. 9 miles is still a long run for me. The marathon schedule had me running 9 miles in the middle of the week, sandwiched between two 5 mile runs. I don't think so! (No wonder why I've been skipping the runs or walking).
  3. I can still run with my group on Tuesdays and Thursdays, because those distances match up with the full marathon training schedule. I can also run some of the Saturday long runs with the group because they taper in the last 2 weeks.
  4. I have really been wanting to add strength training to my workout plan. I'm thrilled that this plan includes strength training twice a week. A focused strength workout is a much different stress reliever than running. Plus, I need to tone up those arms for the wedding!
I have two favorite fitness DVDs that I will be using as the base of my strength workouts. First is Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred. Second is Women's Health: Total Body Workout in Ten!. I ordered both DVDs from over a year ago and I've been using them on and off since. I'll write reviews of both next week.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Official Results


That's a pace of 9:44! On February 23, I wrote that I wanted to finish in under 2:08. I would have been happy with 10 minute miles, so I am thrilled to have beat my goal time.

Another stat I'm totally excited about is my 10k split. 57:05! That's a pace of 9:12, which is faster than any of my previous 5k paces.

Now I need to get back into training mode for the Frederick Half Marathon on May 2nd.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Race Pictures

I gotta say, I was expecting better things from the pictures. There are a total of 4 pictures of me, all at the finish line. While I was running the race I thought it was odd that I didn't see any photographers. Other people assured me that they were there... I guess they just were not where I was.

(That's me to the left in the yellow shorts. Image from Brightroom)

Are there any tips or tricks for finding more pictures that might not have been tagged? I've been browsing through all the photos 1000 at a time.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

National Half Marathon Race Recap! Part II

The first five miles of the race went according to plan. But it was really disheartening to get to the five mile mark and see the clock already at over 56 minutes. I knew I started well after the gun, but as I said in my last post, I didn't see a clock at the starting line, so I had no idea what that time was, and I couldn't calculate what my pace was for the first five miles. I knew I had to get to the clock at 10 miles before I could get an accurate idea of my pace, which was hard to deal with mentally.

Miles 5-10 were a little more challenging. The course description on the website said that the course was relatively flat, but I thought it was quite hilly! I thought I remembered the description saying something about one hill or one section with hills, so each time I was going up a hill I thought to myself, "This must be the hill they were talking about. Get up this one and there will be no more hills." But the hills kept coming. They weren't very long hills, but after each one my butt was burning! From miles 5 to 10 I was calculating in my head what I needed the clock to say if I was keeping a 10 min/mile pace. I don't remember what the clock said, but I know that it was enough to stop worrying about the 56 minutes on the clock at mile 5.

Crowd support was awesome. My running group had shirts made, which turned out to be awesome because people would call out specifically to me yelling the words on my shirt. This is one of the main things that helped me have a great race. Stopping was not an option.

Miles 11 and 12 were really rough. I felt like I was crawling along at some points, and I couldn't get my legs to go any faster. My knee was acting up. Up until this point, I was enjoying the crowd and didn't listen to any music. But around mile 11 I needed Ke$ha or Bruce to energize me. Unfortunately I had some trouble finding the playlist on my mp3 player because I have never used the playlist function before, so I was going really slow while trying to figure that out...but still running. Finally I got it working and listened to Born to Run. It helped a lot.

Finishing was great. I was pleased with 2:17 and change. I ate a huge cookie and a soft pretzel at the finish line festival with lots of water. My group found me almost immediately and there were congratulations all around.

I've been obsessively stalking the website for official results and race pictures :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

National Half Race Recap! Part I

I finished 13.1! Official times haven't been posted yet, but when I crossed the finish line the clock said 2:17:something seconds. I didn't see a clock at the start line, so I don't know how much later than the gun I crossed the start, but it had to be at least 5 minutes. I gave it all I had and I did my best. There were a couple things that really made this race great for me, which I will share in my recaps.

I didn't sleep well at all the night before the race. I was nervous about getting up on time and making to the start line on time. And I was just nervous about the race in general. But I got up at 5am, got dressed quickly, ate a granola bar, and headed out the door. We made it to the metro with 2 minutes to spare to get the train we wanted/needed. The metro opened early on Saturday specifically for the marathon/half marathon, so it was kinda cool that nearly everyone on the train and in the station was a runner or a supporter. When we got to the Stadium/Armory, we were allowed in the Armory, which was great because it was dark outside and too cold to be just standing around in shorts and a t-shirt. I waited in line for the flushable bathrooms for about 30 minutes, and then it was time to go to the starting line!

As I was walking out of the Armory, I saw the Biggest Losers! That was pretty exciting. The corrals were pretty unorganized and not well marked. I think I started somewhere between the 9:46 sign and whatever the next slower sign was. Everyone in my running group decided to do their best, so we all ended up running on our own, which didn't bother me at all.

The next thing that happened really calmed me down. I saw a girl ahead of me in the corral wearing her bib on her back. The race was using special chip timing that was on the bib (B-tag I think) and they told us it had to be on your front on your outermost layer of clothing, or your time wouldn't be recorded. So I told this girl she needed to put her number on the front, and I felt like I had done my good deed for the day.

The music was pumping at the starting line. The sun was rising. The wheelchair entrant started, then the elites started, and then we mosied up to the starting line and began running. I felt great and was mentally keeping to my plan of using the first five miles as a warm up (and I really did actually need to first two miles to literally warm up!).

One of the coolest moments of the race was somewhere between miles 1 and 4. We must have been running down Constitution. We were at the top of a slight hill, the Washington Monument was to the left, and as I looked ahead, there were runners filling the street for as far as I could see. That was an awesome sight.

Stay tuned for Part II...

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Night Before the Race

I wrote this post the night before the race, took a picture of all my running gear, and then couldn't find the cable to connect my camera to the computer (which I still haven't found), so I didn't post it, but here it is....

Last night I went to Sports Authority and got myself some new running shorts. I haven't run in shorts so far since it has been so cold, but the weather tomorrow is going to be amazing, so I really wanted to wear shorts. Today I went to the Expo to pick up my race packet. I got my bib and tech t-shirt. Apparently I was feeling pretty confident the day I signed up for the half, because I put myself in the corral with a pace of 9:21-9:45. I don't think I'll be able to keep that pace up, but I'll be fine starting a little fast.

The Expo was kind of lame. I was expecting a lot more free stuff, when really there was just a lot of stuff for sale. bummer :( But I've never been to RFK stadium, so it was good to get a feel for the area and to be able see where the start and finish lines would be.

Homemade mac and cheese is in the oven!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lesson's from Yesterday's Run

Yesterday was pretty much the most gorgeous March day in DC you could ever ask for, so I decided I'd go for my 8 mile run. There were tons of other runners and bikers, and many many busloads of tourists. It was 60 and sunny. I learned (and in some cases relearned) a few lessons along the way.

1. Hydration is key. I was totally dehydrated yesterday from the start. I need to drink more water.
2. Wear running gear to avoid chaffing. I have learned this lesson the hard way a couple times now. Hopefully this time it will stick.
3. I need new running shoes, but it's too late to do anything about that for the half this weekend.
4. My new half marathon plan is to finish and run the whole thing. I'll still keep the detailed plan in mind, but it might be a little unrealistic. I'll be sure to stay hydrated and fueled though!
5. My belt pack is too heavy when I put my IDs, keys, watch, and iPhone in it. It bounces around and really isn't comfortable at all. I will start using my Sansa clip mp3 player again instead of the iPhone.

Things I'm excited about:
1. I can't wait for April and the cherry blossoms. I will definitely have to take a photography run.
2. Mac and Chesse on Friday for my pre-race meal. yummmm!!
3. The half on Saturday, which is supposed to be another great day weatherwise.
4. I'm really hoping to be able to find a Shamrock Shake after the race on Saturday!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Half Marathon Plan

I've been terrible about running and eating for the past week. I was travelling for work, so my schedule was messed up. I was proud of myself for running the scheduled 8 miles on Wednesday (although I think it turned out to only be like 7.5 miles). But I didn't eat well and I still don't feel good and/or energetic. And when I say I didn't eat well, I mean I ate a whole box of little Debbie's Swiss Rolls in 3 days, and I still wanted more when I finished them.

I did the one thing everyone tells you not to do-- I totally skipped this weekend's long run. It was a rainy weekend and I was having such a good time relaxing inside on my couch.

Bottom line: I really need to get back into the swing of things because Saturday is the National Half Marathon. To do that, I've gotten back on track with eating well. I'm going to run 4 miles this afternoon. Since the race starts at 7am, I also want to get back into morning running, so tomorrow I will run 8 miles first thing in the morning. Wednesday I will run, but I don't want to push it, so I may just run 3 miles in the morning. Thursday and Friday will be rest days and then Saturday is race day.

I'm getting a little nervous, but I've come up with a plan for the race.

Miles 1-5: Warm up. Get used to the race atmosphere and enjoy it. Hopefully keep a pace of at least 10 mins/mile. Dont' worry about going out too fast, just go at a comfortable pace. Take water at mile marker 5.
Miles 6-10: Get in the zone and run strong. Focus on form and forward motion. Lean forward slightly. Drive the knees forward. Make your legs work. Hopefully run a little faster than the first 5 miles. Take water at mile marker 7 and Powerade at mile marker 9.
Mile 11: Listen to Tik Tok by Ke$ha on repeat. Feel the energy. Take water or Powerade.
Mile 12: Center yourself. Just keep running. Focus on breathing.
Last 1.1 Miles: Run faster and stronger with every step. Give it all you've got. You don't want to cross the finish line only to feel like you could have tried harder.

There is Gu provided on the course, but I've never tried Gu before, so I don't think I'll try it. I might take one square of Shot Bloks with me.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

New socks and Gu Chomps

After the disaster that was my attempted 15 miler on Saturday, I redeemed myself by running 4 miles a little later that afternoon. I tried two new products. I had new Nike socks and Gu Chomps.

Nike Dri-FIT Elite Running Socks
I was dead set on buying a pair that was specifically for running. I even paid full price (and at $12 per pair, these were not cheap). They looked cool and felt lightweight, yet had some padding. As soon as I put the socks on, I thought they were too small. The package says they are no-show, but the back of these socks barely came halfway up the back of my heel. I wear a size 8 street shoe and size 9 running shoe. The packaging says size 6-10. But I ran hills and more than 7 miles in these socks and they didn't fall down. I have pretty thin feet, but the arch support was still very tight. Overall, I didn't really like the socks. For me, they were too tight (length wise) and I couldn't really wiggle my toes. Also, the moisture wicking fabric made it so my feet slipped around a little in my shoes, even when I tied my sneakers tight. Basically they were just not as comfortable as other socks that I've been wearing. Obviously I will keep wearing them because I paid good money for them, but I would not buy them again. Luckily I only bought one pair.

Gu Chomps
I had some Gu Chomps in orange that I didn't use on the attempted 15 miler, so I decided to try them anyways during my 4 miles of redemption.

In comparison with Shot Bloks, one chomp is just as large as a blok, so I have the same criticism there (one is too big for me to take at one time). The chomps are harder in texture than the Shot Bloks. I tucked one chomp into my cheek and ran with it like that (again being careful not to choke on it). I still had about a quarter of the chomp left when I got back home after four miles (in 39 minutes and change). There are 4 chomps in a serving, which is 90 calories. The website says to take 4 every 45 minutes. For me, these are probably not the best was to efficiently get nutrients since if I don't chew it- it would take me at least 16 miles to eat one serving.

Monday, March 8, 2010


I had a total breakdown on Saturday. The planned run was 15.5 miles. I was warned that there would be hills. We arrived at the designated start point at 7:30 am and I was ready to run. A little over 3 miles and 37 minutes later, I stopped. I didn't start to walk, I just stopped moving. The hills were miserable. My legs were still tired from the 14 total miles I ran throughout the week. I felt like I could have walked up the hills faster than I was running. So I just stopped. Luckily my fiance was still with me at this point, and the other three guys in the group were well ahead so they didn't have to see the disaster that was me. I stood there for a while and I was really upset, but we turned around and walked back. I knew I wouldn't make it 12 more miles.

The main thought going through my head as I was contemplating stopping was, "I don't even want to run a marathon." And I'm still not sure if I want to or not. My initial goal was to run the half marathon on May 2, but I was coaxed into trying for the marathon by my running mates, and then I started reading all these awesome running blogs, so I decided I'd go for it. If I run a marathon, I want to run it, not walk. I want to be prepared to do well, not just cross the finish line. I think it would be awesome to run a marathon, but I don't think I'm ready yet. I'll be more proud of myself for running a great half than just finishing 26.2. I still haven't registered, so I am still undecided about the marathon, but I'm leaning towards the half. 13.1 miles is still 10 more miles than my longest race.

Other factors that make the half more appealing are:
1. I think I have a mild case of Iliotibial Band Syndrome in my left knee/leg.
2. I want to add strength training to my workout routine, but I'm scared to do too much for fear of ruining my legs or core for the really long Saturday runs.
3. I don't want this training experience to make me hate running, just as I am beginning to enjoy it (I really only enjoy distances of 7 miles or less).

One of my favorite running quotes is:
"The will to win means nothing if you haven't the will to prepare." - Juma Ikangaa, 1989 NYC Marathon winner
And a variation from Joe Pa:
"The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital."

And when I think about the will to prepare, I think about more than 18 weeks. I think the will to prepare for a marathon is proven over years, not months or weeks.

So I will try the 16 miler scheduled for next Saturday. Beyond that, I know I have the National Half marathon in two weeks and at least a half on May 2.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Sunday's 13 Miles

I'm getting married in July. I think one of the first things I read about training for a marathon is that you shouldn't do it if you have another big event happening in your life, such as a wedding. I was initially hesitant about this, which is why for a while I was planning on just sticking with the half-marathon. But the marathon is in May and I'm getting married in July. What was I supposed to do, put my life on hold because I'm getting married? So I'm now halfway through the marathon training, and everything has been fine. There are occasionally schedule conflicts (like this past weekend when we had our Conference for the Engaged through the Diocese of Arlington all day on Saturday), but I just switch around the schedule a bit.

One thing that makes training for a marathon and planning a wedding doable is the support of my wonderful fiance. He has done all of the long runs with me, and even stays behind at my slower pace when the rest of the group pulls ahead. It is great to have a running partner to keep me motivated and tell me I'm doing great. He even bought me flowers randomly for sticking with my running and not complaining about it :)

We ran the 13 miles this weekend on the Mount Vernon Trail. There were more hills than I am used to, and my pace was slower than I would have liked. I ended up running 13.24 miles in 2:19 (about a 10:25 pace). My left knee was bothering me. I hope it was just still hurting from being strained while I ran awkwardly due to my blister last week, and hopefully it will be better by next Saturday. But the really good news is that my blister didn't bother me at all! I put some baby oil gel on my pinky toe and then wrapped it in a flexible fabric bandaid. I added some more gel on the next toe so the bandaid wouldn't rub on that toe. There was absolutely no rubbing during the entire run.

So far I've been using the motto "Just Run". I don't have a Garmin, a heart rate monitor, or any special running gear. I don't think I need these things. However, I do think I am at the point where I need to get a water belt or devise some way to be able to drink water during the long runs. I ran the 13 miles without any water, and there were multiple points where I wished I had some. I'll definitely need it for the 15 miles on Saturday.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

9 miles in DC

Today I was supposed to run 4 miles, but my knees were hurting. I didn't realize how much I was favoring my right leg due to the blister on my pinky toe, and how much that would affect me. So I decided to take it easy today and do 40 minutes on the elliptical. I will run my 4 miles tomorrow.

9 Mile Route

I really loved this 9-mile route through DC that I ran a couple of weeks ago. If you live in DC or ever visit the area, check it out.

Start/Finish: Gravelly Point near Reagan National Airport in Arlington, VA. Here's the map. I think you can only access it from 395 North. There is free parking available and some sort of restroom facility, although it doesn't show that on the map.

Start by running up the Mount Vernon Trail. Continue about two miles and then cross the Arlington Memorial Bridge into DC. This puts you right at the Lincoln Memorial. Run down along the Reflecting Pool to the WWII Memorial and then back along the other side of the pool to the Lincoln Memorial. Take the Rock Creek Park Trails up towards Georgetown. Run past the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and the Watergate Hotel. Run along the waterfront in Georgetown. Cross the Key Bridge back into Virginia and follow the Mount Vernon Trail south back to Gravelly Point.

This run is great because the paths are well travelled and much of the loop is run on paved running trails. During my run, there were other runners (good for moral support), and not too many bikes (didn't have to constantly get over so they could pass). The scenery is great and varied: the nature of Mount Vernon trail, the national monuments, and Georgetown.

You can easily extend or shorten this run to fit you mileage goals.

In the beginning and end of the run, you'll pass the Navy Merchant Marine Memorial in Lady Bird Johnson Park. Since everyone loves pictures, here's a couple pictures of me and my sisters circa 1990.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Long Becomes The Short

I've been dreading this day since I first saw the training schedule. I can amp myself up for longer runs on the weekends, but now my long run of 7 miles is one of my short runs in the middle of the week?!?!

I was really not feeling it this morning, but I got up and put on my running clothes anyway. I knew that I had a lot to accomplish in the day, that the day would probably be stressful, and that running (or finishing the run) might be the best part of my day, so I had to at least try.

I had run the course before for our 7 mile long run, so I was somewhat familiar with it, but it is easy to take the wrong path around all the monuments. The landmark I was looking for was a pond, which I couldn't find, so I just ran towards water. Soon I realized that this was not the pond, but the Potomac River! There is also lots of construction around the Jefferson Memorial and on the detour path there was a huge impassable area covered in at least 6 inches of water, so I turned myself right back around and made my own path. I was back on track for the last 3 miles, and actually ran 7.15 miles. Yay! I was slow, but I did it.

With about two miles to go, my pinky toe on my right foot started hurting. Turns out, I have a blister. My first running injury! (If you can call a blister an injury). I was just thinking the other day that I need actual running socks, instead of whatever socks I can find on sale at TJ Maxx. I'm wearing my flip flops around the office (thank goodness the boss isn't here this week) so hopefully the blister will dry out. I'm going to tape it for the next couple of runs, and I'll definitely be on the hunt for new socks!

Things to be happy about:

Since I've got a lot to do today, I've decided to start on a positive note.

1. Seeing comments on my blog put a huge smile on my face, and is so far the best part of my day. Thanks LB!!
2. The days are getting longer and warmer. The sun felt great on my face this morning.
3. I saw one of my favorite memorials, the Navy Marine Memorial from across the Potomac River. I didn't realize I'd be able to see it until I did :) I also ran past the Korean War Veterans Memorial, which I've never really visited before. I am very lucky to have DC as my running grounds.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sign Me Up!

Yesterday I registered for the National Half Marathon on March 20, 2010. That's less than a month away, but I feel like I will be well prepared. On race day, I'll have run 12, 13, 15, and 16 milers; so I'll know I can go the distance.

This race is pricy, at $85, but I really need to get a race in before the marathon (which I am still too nervous about to register for). I also really need this race to focus on so I don't get too focused on (and scared of) the marathon. It'll be a huge confidence booster if I can do well in the half. My goal is to run it in under 2:08. In order to prepare, I'm going to focus more on speed and form during my shorter weekday runs.

This morning was the first day in a couple of weeks that I've gotten up so early to run. I'm really glad I did! The 3 miles felt great in the damp morning. I pushed myself to run faster, and I felt strong the whole way.

Monday, February 22, 2010

12 miles with a Clif Shot Blok

This weekend was my longest run yet, at 12 miles. And I ran it all!


We needed to run a route that would be free of snow. Many of the sidewalks and running paths in DC and VA are still covered in snow from the storms earlier this month. The last thing we wanted was to arrive at our starting point at 7:30 am and find that our path was snowy/icy. We knew Haine's Point would be the perfect place to run (and so did lots of other runners!). We made two loops around Haine's point, up towards to Lincoln Memorial, and back.

There is free parking on Haine's Point/ East Potomac Park. The road around Haine's Point is open to traffic, but no one drives down there unless they have a reason (maybe to picnic, play golf, or play at the park in the warmer months). So I saw maybe three cars over my two loops of Haine's Point. The road was pretty much taken over by runners, walkers, and bikers.

I will definitely keep this run in mind as an option during snowy winters.


I tried my first electrolyte supplement on this run. I had Clif Shot Bloks in Strawberry. I ate one piece at around 8 miles. I started to chew it, but then decided I'd rather suck on it. I didn't want little pieces of gummi stuff bumping around in my tummy. One piece lasted me at least 10 minutes, and I didn't feel the need to eat anymore during the remaining 3 miles. Their website says you can eat them every 20-30 minutes. That is too much for me, so I'm not sure I'm even getting any benefits by eating just one blok in 12 miles. But it tasted good and took my mind off running for a little bit.

PROS: Tasted really good. Lasted a long time because I sucked on it. (I tucked it in my cheek and was careful the whole time not to choke on it.)

CONS: One chew is too big. Next time I will only use half a blok.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Training Schedule

The leader/coordinator of my running group put together our training schedule. I think it is based on Hal Higdon's training schedule. We do shorter runs on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays; with long runs on Saturdays and cross training on Sundays. We started the first week in January for a May 2nd marathon.

The First Step

I’ve been considering starting a running blog for a couple of weeks now. I’ve been drawing inspiration from others’ blogs, so I’m starting my own to keep myself motivated, and maybe help motivate others who stumble across this site.

I’m 25, I’m an engineer, and I’ve never been a runner before. Growing up, I played soccer and tennis, but for some reason I never had the drive to win or be the best in athletics. I liked to play fullback so I didn’t have to run as much up and down the field, and at tennis practice I’d choose to do sprints over endurance training every time. I hated running.

I don’t remember who convinced me to sign up for my first 5k in my senior year of college -- actually I’m pretty sure I did it because it was a fundraiser for THON, and everything THON-related is awesome… until you are trying to run 3.1 miles when you do not run and you get passed by a lady pushing a stroller, uphill.

My race history:
THON 5k October 23, 2005 ::: 40:06
Resolution Run 5k December 31, 2006 ::: 34:57
Turkey Trot 5k November 22, 2007 ::: 29:26
Turkey Trot 5k November 27, 2008 ::: 33:10
Turkey Trot 5k November 26, 2009 ::: 30:25

Some races used chip time, and some were clocked the old-fashioned way. And no, I did not remember all of these times off the top on my head. I love google. I do remember, however, that 2007 and 2009 were the only two races I ran entirely.

I didn’t really ever go to the gym and work out in high school or college. In high school my exercise came from tennis and marching band; and in college I played non-competitive IM sports, walked everywhere, and tore it up on the dance floor. I could barely run a mile when I started actually working out in fall 2006 when I started my new job (with a gym on site!). As you can see from my races, since then I have pretty much concentrated on being able to finish the 5k.

In January 2010 I joined a running group at work, primarily for camaraderie since I have been at this job for less than a year and wanted to branch out and form some new relationships. Here’s the kicker- this group is training for a marathon. But all I had ever run was 3.5 miles, once. And 95% of all the running I’d done had been inside, on the treadmill. And I’m the only civilian (i.e. not in the military, i.e. least disciplined person, i.e. least athletic) in the group. This should be interesting…. Follow me on my journey.