Parkway Classic 10-Miler recap {4/13/14}

We had a really beautiful day for the 30th anniversary running of the Parkway Classic 10-Miler! Not quite as nice as last week’s Cherry Blossom 10-Miler (just because yesterday was a little too warm), but beautiful nonetheless. The perk of the weather was that it was completely unnecessary to layer for the wait at the start line.

Speaking of the start line, that was the only aspect of the race that left something to be desired. Last year’s start was flawlessly executed, and usually Pacers is so on top of their race game, but it was a bit wonky yesterday. This race is point-to-point starting at Mount Vernon, so racers had to be bused to the start line. Buses apparently ran late (we got there early), and a huge chunk of them arrived 5 minutes before the race was supposed to start. This delayed the start of the race by a few minutes which, in my mind, is not a big deal. However, because the buses were pulling into (and therefore blocking) the starting corrals, there were a good chunk of runners outside the corrals waiting for the buses to get through. Other runners were just cutting right in front of the buses and preventing their departure, and in retrospect, maybe that should have been what we did, too, but we were trying to be patient! We thought, “well, the race is already starting late, so they will DEFINITELY let all runners into the corrals before starting, right?” Wrong. They started the race abruptly and all of us on the outside were like, “uh, what?” and then came the mad dash to get into the corral. This resulted in us being in the 11-11:59 min/mile corral instead of the 8-8:59 min/mile corral (huge difference!), and definitely cost us some time in the first mile.

Anyway, the rest of the race was gorgeous, with a good chunk of it running right along the Potomac River. So pretty! There were tons of rolling hills which offered a little bit of a challenge, but they were totally manageable. The course flattened out around mile 6 and stayed pretty flat until miles 8-9. I think the biggest hills came in 8-9, actually. We ran a pretty strong, steady race, and we even negative split! I rarely do that, so that is an accomplishment. We also ran the last mile at 8:11, which was our fastest pace of the day – that is an accomplishment in itself! 

It started getting really warm in the last half of the race, and there wasn’t much shade cover. We haven’t trained for warm-weather runs yet, and this reminded me of the unpleasantness of summer marathon training. Blech. I ended up with some color on my face after this run!

Despite all of the weird hiccups (wonky start line, crazy heat, some hills), we finished in 1:28. Not a PR, but still a strong race! I was telling my running buddy, Danny, that I feel more unprepared this spring than last year (I got in way more training mileage last year!), so I would be happy to just finish strong, and I think we did!

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Next up for me is Nike Women’s 1/2 Marathon (my current PR half marathon of just under 1:55) on Apr 27, which has been my “goal race” all season. The initial goal was to PR, but I’m not sure what my goal is now that I am farther into the training cycle. Maybe it will be just to run sub-2, maybe it will still be to PR…who knows!

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Filed under Fitness, Marathon, Race, Races, Racing, Run, Running, Washington DC

Cherry Blossom 10-Miler recap {4/6/14}

Wow, what a beautiful spring morning for a 10-mile race in DC! This was the view that greeted me after getting off the Metro:

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And this was the view that greeted all runners approaching the start line:

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I ran this race last year & loved it, so, unlike the morning of Rock ‘n’ Roll USA 1/2 Marathon, I was really excited. This race has to be one of my favorites! There is nothing quite like running through DC, around monuments, the Tidal Basin, and the cherry blossoms to kick off the spring! I don’t think you can get any more quintessentially DC than this race.

My main goal for this race was to run a strong one. I only ran 5 miles last week because of a swollen foot arch, and a really tender/painful foot/ankle. I spent the week icing & resting, but had no idea what impact it would have on this race. After RnR USA, another goal was to fight through the whole thing, even if/when I wanted to stop. I am working on trying to build up my mental grit again. I definitely had it last year, but in my mind, I proved everything I set out to prove, so I sort of feel like I’ve lost some of the drive.

With all of that being said, I had a great race! There were definitely tough moments, but I pushed through and kept going. I am really happy with how I ran. It was about a minute shy of my PR (which was last year’s Cherry Blossom), but I am fine with it. I didn’t go out intending to PR, and all my 10-mile races have been within the same 1.5 minute time range, so I’m happy to be on par with last year. I was way more diligent with getting my miles in last year, whereas I look back at this training cycle and it feels so helter skelter to me!

I tried to run using Runners’ World’s Timeless Challenge, which implements zone (yellow, orange, red) running; I’m not sure that it worked for me this time, but I want to explore this further. It was a last minute decision for me to run this way, so maybe it would have worked out better if I’d had more mental preparation/practice. I went out too fast in this race because with your adrenaline pumping, it’s easy to feel like you’re running at a more leisurely pace (yellow zone) in the first few miles than you actually are. For me, I rely heavily on my GPS watch in the first few miles as a way to slow myself down. Without that, I basically sprinted the first 4 miles (um, 7:12 pace at mile 4?!), and then couldn’t really push myself into the red zone at the end. Also, Hain’s Point really zapped me of my energy this time around – ugh, such a hard, boring part of the course. Oh well – you live & learn!

Splits:

Mile 1 – 8:20 min/mile

Mile 2 – 8:17 min/mile

Mile 3 – 8:21 min/mile

Mile 4 – 7:12 min/mile (can that be right?!)

Mile 5 – 8:51 min/mile

Mile 6 – 8:32 min/mile

Mile 7 – 9:14 min/mile (leisurely water stop!)

Mile 8 – 8:56 min/mile

Mile 9 – 8:54 min/mile

Mile 10 – 8:41 min/mile

Final – 1:27:51

I love looking at the RunPix data for runs! Here are mine:

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A fun perk at the end of this race was my friend (and bridesmaid!) Katelyn spotting me in the finisher area. Neither of us knew the other was going to be there, so it was unexpected and really great to see her. What are the chances?! Also – pink race shirts, woo!

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New York City or bust

Last Wednesday, I received an unexpected email in my inbox (and no, this is not an April Fools’ joke):

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To say I was taken by surprise would be an understatement. I entered my name into the lottery back in February, but assured Brian that there was absolutely no way I would ever get in this year. My plan was to enter the lottery as many years as it took to get in, and then to run it without question whichever year I was actually accepted. Because I don’t live in NYC, it is a bucket list, once-in-a-lifetime race for me. It just happened to come a lot earlier than expected/planned! This race has a lottery acceptance rate of 10-15%; 77,000 people applied for lottery entry, but only 9,000 were accepted. Eesh! No wonder I didn’t expect to be one of them!

I am a little overwhelmed (but still excited!) at the prospect of running it because this is now not only a marathon, but an adventure! I was signed up for MCM and Richmond this fall (with MCM being a training marathon & Richmond being my PR-goal marathon), but will more than likely defer Richmond to next year. The plan right now is to sloooowly run MCM and then do NYCM the next weekend. That plan is a little intimidating, but I just can’t fathom not being at MCM with Fisher House on October 26. Obviously doing two marathons a week apart means I will probably have to sacrifice performance time, but I think I am okay with that (Brian begs to differ). I am not sure I even want to run NYCM for time, either – I sort of want to enjoy the experience and not rush through it! We’ll see how things go… :)

Here are some Rock ‘n’ Roll USA pictures – I look like I was having more fun than I was! The not-so-happy pictures were fewer than I thought, actually…

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Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half Marathon Recap and Reflections {3/15/14}

Hmmm, how to start this…

This was my 5th half marathon, and I did not have a good time at this race. I simply did not want to be there and it showed in my time. I think this race came too soon after B got back, and all I wanted was to be at home with everyone. It is also not my favorite course or race, and it was a logistical pain in the butt for me. I was so paranoid about it that I woke up at 3:45am and ended up at the starting line 2 hours (!) before race time because of my fear of the huge crowds (there were 25,000 runners!) and not getting there on time. That, paired with an additional 20-25 minute wait to cross the start line (wave start), just added to my desire to be anywhere but there. I was over it before it even started. I even texted Brian before the start that I wanted to come home and didn’t want to race at all!

I started off the race trying to shake off my bad attitude, and even paced myself well for the first half. I held back at the start and forced myself to slow down after starting at 8:10 min/miles, and up until mile 7-8, I was averaging around 8:40-8:45 min/miles which I would have been thrilled with at the end. My heart and head were not in it, though, and by mile 5, I was ready to be finished. The huge hill of this course comes at mile 6 (exiting Rock Creek & heading into Georgetown), and then there was another sizable hill in mile 7, and I think those were the catalysts to my complete loss of interest in the race. I started alternating between walking & running at mile 9 (?) – even considered texting Brian to tell him how miserable I was, but refused to stoop that low (ha). If I had really pushed myself at mile 10, I still could have finished sub-2, but I just didn’t care enough to fight for it. Knowing it wasn’t my goal race did not help my apathy, either.

And guys – I DIDN’T EVEN SMILE FOR THE CAMERAS (well, most of them). YOU KNOW THIS WAS A BAD RACE WHEN I COULDN’T EVEN MANAGE THAT! I ran a 7-miler with BRONCHITIS and still smiled for all of the cameras! This was clearly dire ;) .

My final time was 2:03:34. Despite my bad race, I still finished in the top third(ish) of all competitors, top 30% of age division, and top 26% of women so there’s that, I guess…

Splits:

5K = 27:45, 10K = 56:59, 10 miles = 1:32:58.

Something that Brian reminded me of when I got home was the difference in treadmill training vs. actually pounding the pavement, simply from an impact perspective. He asked me if my legs felt tired/sore earlier, and when I thought about it, they had. I noticed it during the race but didn’t really connect the dots. I’m sure it was because my training over the past 2-3 months has almost exclusively been on the treadmill (thank you weather + military life). Honestly, when I was sprinting to the finish of this race, my legs felt like they were sprinting to the finish of MCM (and they felt like I had just run a marathon for the rest of the day, too). I haven’t gotten any hill training in, and this race is pretty hilly in the second half. At least my days of single parenthood are over for a while and I can get outside for runs again – gotta get used to the pavement impact and hills again!

Another more sobering feeling that has been running through my mind (even prior to this race) is burn-out. I went all out last year in terms of my race schedule, and while it was rewarding, it was also exhausting. I have a packed spring race schedule this year, too, but I’m not sure if my desire to push myself is there. I am prepared to run them, but I almost want to run them for FUN, not for time. At the same time, though, I know that my very competitive nature will be annoyed if I don’t meet time goals. UGH, such a catch-22. But isn’t running supposed to be fun?! I’ve lost that feeling lately. Waking up at 5am to squeeze runs in isn’t fun. Running on the treadmill isn’t fun. Feeling like I don’t have a spare minute in my day isn’t fun. Hopefully these feelings improve now that Brian is back and I have room to breathe again, but I guess time will tell. I’m not really sure what the solution is, but I’m trying to incorporate more cross-training just to give myself a break.

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And in HAPPY news, GO HOOS! It was so fun to watch the ACC Tournament this weekend, especially because we are not used to being on the winning side! Caroline wasn’t quite sure what was going on, but she cheered along saying, “GO, HOOS, GO! HURRY, HURRY, HURRY!” in her sweet little baby voice!

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Tap, tap – is this thing still on?

There has obviously been a substantial amount of time since my last update (2 months!) but I just did not feel open to sharing what was going on with us. B is active duty military, and was gone basically from the beginning of 2014 until just this past Saturday. I didn’t feel the need to widely publicize his absence or anything about how we were getting along without him, whether it be for safety reasons, self-preservation reasons, denial, whatever. Also, I was simply focused on survival, which seemed especially difficult in the boring, depressing, hum-drum winter months. I’m so glad spring is on its way because I cannot take any more snow (especially since I have been solo-shoveling all winter!).

It has been a long two months and, even though we eventually found our groove, I am so glad it is over. Audrey outwardly struggled with B being gone and it manifested itself as some pretty challenging behavior. Caroline really missed him, too, but her sadness surfaced more in short-lived spurts that could easily be cured with snuggles and reassuring words. Audrey would have scream fests in her room whereas Caroline would randomly say things like, “huh, I miss Daddy,” and then would continue with whatever she was doing. When Brian came back, it was like a weight was lifted off Audrey’s shoulders, and I think you can definitely see that in the immediate reunion pictures. And even though I am about 100x more efficient when Brian is gone (as any military spouse can relate to!), we ALL feel so much relief & happiness now, and we are in that super appreciative phase of family life (honeymoon phase!) that comes after separations.

Moving right along – spring race season is starting up soon (aka: this Saturday!) with the first race being Rock ‘n’ Roll USA. I have kept up with my training pretty well since Brian has been gone (treadmill = Godsend) which is sort of a surprise to me since I didn’t know how my training time would be impacted. I ended up getting up at 5am for 95% of my runs, even on weekends – so hard, but it also set a good tone for the rest of the day & was the one guaranteed time I had to get it done. I have been constantly exhausted, though! ;) When I looked at my training log summary this morning, I noticed that I only missed ONE long run since he’s been gone (not counting the one I skipped on Sunday so that I could fully enjoy family time after he got back). That was a happy surprise for me, and I am proud that I powered through and got it done, especially since every run was on the treadmill which is complete torture for 10-11 miles! That being said, I don’t really know what to expect with Saturday’s race but am cautiously optimistic and interested to see what happens. I am counting it as my litmus test for what I need to focus on before my goal half marathon, which is Nike Women’s 1/2 Marathon on April 27.

Speaking of race season, Fisher House fundraising has begun! The new link is on the sidebar if you are interested in supporting this amazing organization again!

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Welcome, 2014

I guess it’s time to come out of my holiday-induced hibernation & post some updates!

We had a wonderful holiday season with lots of welcomed family time. We flew out to Buffalo on Christmas morning, so we pushed our Christmas celebrations up two days (Christmas Eve on 23rd, Christmas morning on 24th) so that we could celebrate with my parents and so that the girls could have a leisurely “Christmas” morning without being rushed so we could make our flight. Then, we got to have a third day of Christmas on the real Christmas day once we got to Buffalo! Christmas is so much fun with young kids – it is full of excitement, anticipation, & joyful chaos. Our time in Buffalo was really nice, too, as it is always nice to see people you don’t get to see very often. Somehow we still have not mastered the art of seeing everyone, though. I will say that we were very ready to head back to “tropical” DC again after our trip.

Now that the new year is here, it has been time to get back on track with everything that slipped over the last month or so. That means healthier eating, a more consistent running schedule, and a re-organized house. It has been fun to look back at 2013 because it was such a great year, and I intend to do everything I can to make 2014 just as good! Of course I have some things in mind that I want to improve upon in 2014, who doesn’t? I wouldn’t say they are necessarily resolutions, though. Resolutions come with so much pressure and are pretty meaningless to me. Seeing them as “goals” make them seem way more attainable & not such a drudgefest.

We have a lot of big adjustments coming up in our family, so the first quarter of the year will be dedicated to making it through those…yikes! Military life strikes again.  Despite that, we are looking forward to the clean slate of 2014 and all that it brings (like, KINDERGARTEN, gah).

Holiday photo dump below! I know the Audrey to Caroline picture ratio is a bit off, but I swear Caroline is the only one who nicely poses for pictures these days! Audrey is too busy to give me the time of day most of the time ;)

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Let your heart be light

That was the theme of our Christmas card this year, and it was full of such fun, light-hearted pictures from our family photo session this past fall. We tried to capture all of the silliness & love that occur in our family on a daily basis, and hopefully we were successful!

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As almost everyone knows, Christmas has this ebb & flow tendency of being exciting when you are little, but then waning a little as you grow older. But once you have your own kids, it becomes the best thing ever again! Christmas with kids is way better than Christmas as a kid! Sorry, mom & dad – those Christmasses were fun, too, but there is just something so magical about seeing the joy and anticipation on your child’s face when they experience all of the traditions of the season.

We have discovered that Buddy the Elf and preschoolers share a life philosophy: the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear! Of course, in the case of preschoolers, it is singing the same line of the same song loudly and incorrectly, over & over & over… :) We have done the requisite cookie baking, (though it was mostly them “helping” for 5-10 minutes and then getting bored and doing other things when there was no more dough to sneak), Elf on the Shelf, letters to Santa, letter postmarked back to us from the North Pole, Christmas crafts, personalized videos from Santa to the girls, Christmas movies, etc. Their favorite activity, though, was the Santa Train! They both love, love, love trains, and the Virginia Railway Express had a Santa Train weekend so it was a no-brainer. It involved hopping on train for a 40 minute ride with visits from Santa, Mrs. Claus, and carolers. The fact that there was snow on the ground just added to the fun of it!

Speaking of snow, the weather has been crazy the last few weeks! We went from this:

unnamedTo this (it was 70 degrees yesterday!):

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I think the weather is supposed to be a little chillier on Christmas. Thank goodness because it felt weird to experience weather like Florida has in December! I am so, so, so excited, though, to spend the next few days with family, and hope everyone has a blessed holiday season and a wonderful 2014!

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