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.