Category Archives: race report

Run for Shelter 10K: Run for One More (2012) PR

A few months ago the team working with the Run for Shelter 10K got in touch to see if I could promote the event. Yes, of course! I’m happy to spread the word about local DC/VA/MD races – there’s never a shortage of options, and with all the huge ones around here it’s easy to forget that the smaller charmers still happen.

This was definitely a small and charming event. They wooed us with indoor facilities, free parking, simple logistics, a flat course and a great cause.

Run for Shelter 10K banner

RunforShelter10K collage

We arrived around 7am, with more than enough time to park (for free!), grab our packets, check our bags and sit comfortably inside while we waited for the race to start….

Run for Shelter tweet

100 points to these race planners! We’re still scarred from the infamous (freezing) Hot Chocolate experience.

It wasn’t until 7:55 am that all of the runners finally started stepping outside to line-up for the 8am start. “5K people on the left, 10K on the right!” And, GO!

Run for Shelter 10k course

I had initially wanted to run this for a PR because the 10K & I haven’t really rallied since 2009 (MCM style!). Then reality reminded me that the month of running after a goal-race marathon isn’t often your speediest, and then we went to a concert Friday night and then the 5:50am wake-up call just felt so early.

Race-day plan: finish 6.2 miles without making it feel like 26.2. Enjoy the perfect race-day conditions (40-50* and sunny!) and have fun.

Race course: out and back, with one significant incline (up, over and down a ramp) that we hit at the beginning and then again right before the end.

Race-day running: the only trick I have yet to figure out in this running-garmin-free world is how to pace the first mile. From there I can tune in and figure out how it feels and what I need to do – but, until I see that first split I generally don’t have a clue what’s going on!

Mile 1: 7:35…

Oh, that’s how it’s gonna be? Alright fine, legs. You speak, I listen; we run. I could go for one more 2012 PR*…

We took the rest of those miles in stride, hitting each split right around 7:30 – some a little bit faster and some slower (or so the math in my head tells me). After looping around and getting back to the Mile 1 sign (on the other side), I checked in again. Exactly One mile to go: 39:05…

Run for Shelter 10K time

Run for Shelter 10K – November 17, 2012

46:05 – 7:25 min/mile avg

Overall: 38 / 414
Age Group: 7 / 53

—–

*2012 has been a good year, here. Every race has been a PR (with the exception of a 5K that was for fun – and then ended up being 5 seconds off). I’m glad this one followed suit!

Huge thanks to the Run for Shelter 10K directors, planners, volunteers and community outreach-ers! We had a great time and would definitely come back for round 2.

—-

Did anyone else race this weekend? Good, bad, awesome or other?

Who’s gunning for one more personal best this year?

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Marine Corps Marathon: Run DC for Boston!

Well folks, it wasn’t raining on Sunday morning and the hurricane held off for us! We ended up with ideal running weather for most of the race (60* and overcast), completely lucked out. I wouldn’t change a thing about this day…

I set a lofty goal for this race, but wasn’t willing to let it go. If you want to take the island, burn the boats. I know all too well from coaching and personal experience that as soon as you give yourself an out, you’re 1) deciding that not even you believe your goal is possible and 2) setting yourself up to let it go.

Burn the boat – go for 3:30! If you don’t try, you’ll never really know.

MCM outfit   bib longMCM morning readyMCM gear   sign 2

It started with a 5 a.m. wake-up call, to make it on the Metro by 6. It takes at least 10-15 minutes just to get out of the station once you arrive at the Pentagon! Then you’re looking at a long walk to the bathrooms, bag-check and eventually the race start. Consider this your warm-up!

Lines weren’t too bad, and I arrived to my corral with about 15 minutes to spare. I found those Pacer balloons right away and headed over to join in the fun, taking everything in and the throw-away jacket off.

THE PLAN: Run with the 3:35 group for the first few miles (exactly how long? TBD). Break off to eventually settle into an 8 min/mile pace.

MCM banner _ Congrats Runners

Miles 1_3 elevation Miles 1-3: Our pacer warned of the initial uphill battle – we would take it relatively easy and then use the downhill to balance it out. Given the crowded start, you don’t have much of a choice! It takes a lot of weaving, watching the ground to avoid potholes and making sure these miles don’t spend too much energy.

My first clue that this race & I were on the same BQ-or-BUST page: it was easy to keep up – vs. last year when staying with the 3:35 group was requiring way too much initial effort. Early win!

I stayed right with the crew– those hills lending a helping-hand – and focused on effort. Keep it easy, keep it easy, keep it easy.

5K – 25:06 – 8:05 min/mile – Perfect.

Miles 4-6.2: Passing over the Key Bridge brought me to the first D sighting of the day – hello! He had his bright neon-green sign (recycled from last year, thanks to its effectiveness & familiarity) and a big smile. I loved it; he knew I was cruising nice & easy. I had passed the 3:35 group, and was one mile out from worrying how far behind me they were.

10K – 49:18 – 7:56 min/mile – Building a cushion.

As my feet stomped on the 10K mat, I knew updates were being sent and everything felt right. “Here I come, Boston…”

Miles 6_9 elevationMiles 6.2-9: Heading up Canal Road brings us to the first deserted stretch. Spectators are few and far between (understandably) and there’s a steep hill up ahead. I charged up conservatively – this won’t be last hill to tackle!

My coworker Jared was waiting right in the middle with his girlfriend – more familiar faces and a Hey-I-know-you! grin…

Mile 7 JBR tweet

The passing high-five was so hard it left my hand tingling – there was a lot of oomph behind that cheer! Keep powering up, up, up… Coming back down into Georgetown greeted me with D sighting #2.

Feeling good? Yep! Need anything? Nope!

For every mile there was a feeling of gratitude that I was here again, doing this race again, testing my limits again. There was a flashback of right here, last year, I felt ___, and a mental check-in with the here and now.

Mile 9 was crucial last year; I realized I was running a sub-3:35 in a 3:40-goal. I wondered what would happen.

your body hears everything your mind says

This year? I was running my sub-3:35 goal, landing every step with intention. My pace felt easy (for now), but I knew what every mile ahead looked like. Stay positive; focus on this mile and this effort. Save your energy and take all of this in…

15K – 1:14:05 – 7:56 min/mile – Spot ON.

Miles 10-12: The crowd is thick, loud and amazing! We’re essentially running through a tunnel. (Side-note: apparently Bart Yasso was at this spot, mixed in the crowd! Awesome.) We pass behind my favorite memorial, Lincoln (hey friend!) and right onto Ohio Drive. Running on a flat stretch along the water I saw D again, taking a few sips of water from his bottle (spoiled, yes). He warned me that the wind was picking up, and to draft or run with a group if I could*.

I saw a sign** that would push me around Hains Point and onto the mall:

Today is not that day

Photo source.

**Another sign we saw a few times: Paul Ryan would have Finished by now!Clever.

Miles 12-15: Distractions welcomed! Running around Hains Pt. will never be “fun”, but it’s flat and it gets 3-4 miles out of the way. There were a few cheer groups, a band or two and a lot of signs put into the ground every ~20 yards (by the Pacers group, I think?).

As soon as we made the turn around the top of the peninsula (now on the North side), it hit. *There’s the wind – hello! I held onto my hat for a few strides, overhearing someone say this would give us a tail-wind over the bridge. If that’s true, enduring it now is totally worth it. If not, thanks for the hopeful distraction!

20K – 1:39:17 – 7:59 min/mile – Sticking with it.

HALF – 1:44:45 – 7:59 min/mile

Hello again, D! He was parked at miles 15 & 17, right near the same corner. Yep, feeling good!

MCM running 2 Keep going no matter what

Miles 16-19: After a quick out-and-back on Independence Ave, we’re finally on the National Mall. It’s gorgeous, mostly flat and still packed with the best spectators. The wind is seemingly blocked as we loop around the front of the Capitol and I see D one last time before the bridge.

30K – 2:30:20 – 8:03 min/mile – Beat. The. Bridge.

My mind flashes back to painful running memories – if I do anything on this day, I will BEAT THE BRIDGE. Here we go…

MCM sign I will

Miles 20-22: Remember the ups and downs – remember how long this stretch feels…

A lot of people stop to walk here – last year that was my weakness, as it seemed so much better than running. This year it was my strength – keep running, you’re fine!

I saw D twice (one lane of the bridge is open = perfect for cycling spectators!) and he reminded me that everything was on pace. He said my Mom had been tracking & texting, and she was excited! I so happily took water & motivation from him.

When I made it to mile 22, and didn’t need to use the Water stop as incentive to get to the end / take a walk break? Huge win! Things were undoubtedly starting to hurt, but all systems were still going.

35K – 2:55:52 – 8:05 min/mile

MCM lululemon cheer stationMCM lululemon sign Kim Kardashian

Miles 22-23: Hola Crystal City, I’m back!

The best part of this stretch was knowing that the lululemon cheer station was here and ready to dance with us (and/or hop in to run a few yards)! It was a huge boost to see them – Hi Katie + pup! – and listen to their pumped-up voices.

Thank you, team lulu!

MCM running 1
Photo courtesy of fellow Run-Ambassador, Melani.

The bad part about this stretch was the new route – we had a few extra inclines and ramps thrown in, vs. the old out-and-back. On any other run, those elevation changes wouldn’t have made an impression. When you’re racing, and 23 miles in? They hurt.

I took my only water stop around mile 23, walking for a quick 20 seconds and thinking nothing has ever tasted better.

Miles 24-26: I reminded myself over and over and over that I was BQ-ing today. (I may or may not have repeated it in my head to the tune of “We will, we will Rock You!” by Queen.) This was it! We powered through gusts of wind – holding onto my hat again – and the extreme fatigue that sets in at this point. I knew my pace was slowing, but not enough to throw me off.

40K – 3:22:29 – 8:08 – Bring it home…

Somewhere in that last mile I saw Ivan & Elizabeth – it shocked and surprised me in the very best way (also saw them back at 17), and this picture tells me everything.

Did every muscle and joint hurt? YEP. Was I about to BQ? No doubt…

MCM running - ivan

26 – 26.2: My time was getting too close; I put absolutely everything I had left into that last stretch. My feet were killing me, my hips were screaming and my stomach was giving the unmistakable puke-threshold signal.

Ignore it all. Get to Boston – Get to Boston – GET TO BOSTON. The last 3 hours of 8 min/miles brought you to this. Don’t let it go!

MCM Finishing Clock Time

MCM finishers shootMCM logo   medal
MCM time   believe instagram
MCM post-race w D

Marine Corps Marathon – October 28, 2012

3:34:04 – 8:10 min/mile avg

Overall: 1416 / 23515
Gender: 230 / 9995
Age Group: 75 / 1865


I know that 3:30 is in there for me, I just didn’t quite get it this time. That’s my sign that the marathon won’t be shelved; I want to go after it again*.

I’m thrilled with the way I paced myself, held onto energy for the end and pushed through the seemingly unavoidable fatigue that comes from pounding the pavement for 26.2 miles. I can’t imagine anything I would have done differently during the race, and that’s all I wanted to run away with.

Here’s lookin’ at Boston, 2014! Mission accomplished.

*After Boston, which c’mon, we all know that one is just for fun & hills!

Thanks, again, for your endless support! It’s invaluable to have a community behind you with each goal tackled and accomplished, and I hope these pages continue to prove that.

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Here’s lookin’ at Boston…

…April, 2014!

Who knows if I’ll actually get in, but all that matters right now is that I know I ran this:

MCM shoes medal watch 6

It wasn’t the perfect day, or the time I initially had my sights on. But… it’s mine, and it was ultimately an outcome I wanted (get. to. Boston!). More to come soon, once my toes calm down and my hips aren’t screaming. Like, whoa.

Thank you for the congrats – for following along and supporting every mile. This community kicks ass!

MCM morning readyMCM outfit   bib long

MCM running 1
MCM post-race w D

Marine Corps Marathon – 3:34:04 – 2012

‘Til the recap…

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Broad Street 10 Miler: Run Down & Out

It’s not often that we travel for races; it’s interesting to step out of the norm and be the “tourists” that have no idea how to get there, when and where to arrive, and how the heck to navigate around the 30,000+ other runners all in the same place. I’ll have quite a bit more sympathy for the out-of-towners when I ride the metro to MCM in the October. These things can be complicated.

The plus side: Kate & Epod are both from the area, so we had homes to stay in!

Obviously we got ourselves to the Starting line, but it took much more planning than usual. Heads up for anyone thinking about this race: arrive early. We had about 75 minutes to kill once we got there, but that proved to be a smart decision. Minimal traffic, no issues getting on the Septa, 30 minute train ride, and minimal bathroom lines = massive race arrival success!

Kate & I warmed up by running laps around a school, partially in the grass, for about 10 minutes. Kinks out and muscles lightly stretched, we made our way to the Purple corral (speedy-K was in Red, but she hung back one wave, with me). The countdown was on; the race began right on time – kudos! Things are off to a good start…

Broad Street 10 miler course map

Running straight down one road for 10 miles is about as exciting as it sounds. The key here to is embrace and enjoy the simplicity of the course; net downhill, great spectators and absolutely nothing to think about! Just keep moving forward, don’t make a single turn, and use all of the above to your advantage.

I had no doubt this would be my 10-mile PR for the season. I was trained well, rested and ready to race; I had taken it easy during Cherry Blossom to save the effort for this, and noting the course details, all odds are in the runner’s favor!

Broad street 10 miler elevation chart

The virtual running-buddy (VRB; Garmin lingo) was set at 7:30, and all I looked at was how far ahead of her I could get. The mile markers throughout the race were spot on with my splits (go, G!) and there was no need to look at time. As I gained seconds and tenths of miles on the VRB, I had all the knowledge I needed.

The legs gave me a positive balance by the end of mile 1 (meaning we’re ahead of that VRB already), and things looked good from there!

Along the course you pass spirited spectators, church singers on their front steps (gorgeous sounds), bands (pump-you-up sounds!), Temple students, radio station tents, and frequent water stations. The road is wide enough that you can forget you’re surrounded by enough runners to fill a small city, but at the same time you’re never alone. The road just keeps going, and the view ahead is a sea of runners, stoplights & miles to go.

7:28 – 7:21 – 7:23 – 7:21 – 7:13 – 7:02 – 7:15

At mile 7 I was bored enough that I needed to do math and/or sing in my head; I took to counting down each stoplight/block (10,9,8,7….) after each mile marker. By the time I got to 1, it was time for a new mile (thank you for consistency, grid systems!). By the time it was a new mile, we had one less to run!

I was almost two minutes ahead of schedule, feelin’ just fine.

Entering the Navy Yard means you have 0.25 miles to go; I had my eye on a handful of gals the whole time, I had passed all but one, and the motivation to get ahead of her sped me through those last 400 yards…

7:14 – 7:13 – 7:02 – cross that Finish Line!

Broad Street garmin shot

There’s nothing quite like that PR-high – 5 minutes knocked off my personal best, and there was still some juice in these legs. There may be new expectations for MCM in my head, but that’s another mind-game for another day.

Broad Street 10 group
Broad Street 10 Kate & me Broad Street 10 Ivan & Epod
The race crew, together outside of the District! PR smiles can’t hide.

Official Results  —  1:12:52, avg. pace 7:17

Overall: 1942 / 33891
Gender: 361 /18988
Division: 125 / 5081

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Who else tested a physical limit this weekend? Link it up, let’s hear it!

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Cherry Blossom 10-Miler: Beat the Last

Almost every Saturday I meet a group to run 10 miles. Some days we clock in around just under an 8-minute pace; some days we take it a little bit easier, roll with the hills and maybe stick around an 8:15. I may not have been in to race this 10-miler, but I knew what an “easy” day should look like.

I also knew what my last Cherry Blossom 10-mile time was, raced right after our first marathon -  that had to be beat.

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CB 10-miler Monument ViewCB 10-miler runners

There were no plans to meet the usual race-crew before we started – just afterward, at brunch – which made this feel less like a race, and more like a low-key Sunday morning run on the mall (aside from the whole “thousands! of other runners” thing). I arrived at the monument with plenty of time to spare, stand around, and get a “good” spot in my red wave (second wave to start). Runners piled in around me, and there was the reminder we didn’t need that this would be jam-packed.

Miles 1 – 5 were just that – hard to get a groove, but the wave seemed to be seeded well enough that we were all mostly on the same pace. I had no real plan of attack, other than to keep the feet moving just fast enough to show me “7:5x” when G beeped. The course consists of a few out n’ backs – out across Memorial Bridge, back around the traffic circle; out on Rock Creek Parkway, back underneath the Kennedy Center; out onto Independence, back on Independence.

While not ever described as “thrilling”, it is surely well-supported, entertaining and scenic! We didn’t catch the Cherry Blossoms in time for their fashionably early arrival this year – but Spring is here, in full green, and I love it.

Miles 6 – 9 take on the Haines Point loop, and that’s all you need to know. A long  loop along the Potomac river, with minimal crowd support because it’s a trek to get out there. We did have the “School of Rock!” join us for a performance – kudos to whoever thought of that idea! I caught the band on a Led Zeppelin cover, so, there was that.

The last mile presents the first real change in topography for the day – a hill! At the end! Our favorite, no? The beauty is that for a 10-miler, most people still have room to kick it in high-gear for this. The crowd is booming for you to run faster, get UP that incline and run yourself right over that Finish Line.

CB 10-miler 2012 results

1:21:xx Goal? Beat.

Official  Time 
(Thanks to the most entertaining results I’ve seen yet*)

1:17:51 – avg. pace 7:47
AG: 188 / 2746
Gender: 598 / 9658
*Ahead of 74% of all male runners, which I know thanks to this.

Now, the other reason we all got together for this year’s CB 10-miler? The traditional brunch – and to celebrate Ivan & Epod’s love for this particular event.

Front Page brunchCB 10-miler brunch
CB 10 miler brunch

Cheers! Next up: the Broadstreet 10-miler in Philly.

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RnR USA: Run with Muscles over Mind

We’re always hinting at the mental game that fitness can become; sometimes we have to dig deep in the mind to convince our muscles that they can keep moving. Saturday’s race flipped the coin on me, my legs spoke loud and clear.

100_1828
IMG_0655 MarathonFoto Starting Line

Thanks, D, for trekking to the Starting line with us, playing photographer and being there at the finish!

Our 7 a.m. arrival left barely enough time to get wander around, settle for the outdoor bathrooms (aka, port-a-potties), give our extra layer to D (left photo) and loop around to Corral 2 (right photo). Crowded? Of course. But it didn’t quite feel like we were surrounded by 24,000 people. Kudos, RnR! You’re tricky, with your planning.

Mind memo: it may have been a huge mistake to actually race on Sunday, just six days ago. I may not have the speed today that I’ll really need to push that 1:39 barrier. I may just have to play it by ear.

Legs: Excited! Jittery! Nervous! I remember every single one of the hills we’re about to hit, every step. 1:39? Gotcha covered.

Miles 1 – 4(ish): Flat, partially downhill and everything I love about running in DC! We head toward the regal Capitol dome, sneak by Union Station and head onto Constitution Avenue (with a few course adjustments this year, we didn’t spend as much time on Constitution).

To the left? The monument (photo below actually taken from the other side – say hello to the Cherry blossoms!). To the right? The Obamas! Good morning!

IMG_0660
MarathonFoto Eastern Market  MarathonFoto 3

I paid some attention to my splits, and was trying not to back things up too much. Mile 3 clocked in at “6:54”, which was my first clue that Garmin was goin’ rogue for the day. Otherwise, things were right where they needed to be. My mind talked to itself from each side – I can maintain this  vs. eh, we’ll see how it goes…

The brain is a fickle friend sometimes. Loyalty rests in muscle memory.

Miles 5 – 8: THE HILL(s). We start the climb at the bottom of 18th Street (hey Emily!)  on the Mall. It doesn’t really stop until we reach Adam’s Morgan, and every time I run this course I’m grateful that I run hills more often than not. At the turn onto Columbia Rd my heart rate was quick to remind me that we were racing today, not “just” running.

Oh, you’re done for the day, G? I see how it is.
My watch switched back to the “Time/Date” screen, and stayed there for the rest of the race. Mile splits still popped up on the screen, but generally I was doing the math in my head every time I saw a race clock at the mile markers*.

At the top I saw Ivan & Epod, who are usually on this foot-tour with me. HELLO!

RnR Adams Morgan mile 6

From here we enter the tunnel of rolling hills – you think you’re done, then you’re not. Then you think you might be….but you’re not! Distraction came in the form of the best spectators in DC – festive costumes, signs, yard-parties, tailgates & rockin’ bands.

Miles 9-11: Are we there yet? Am I done? Did the sun just get 20* hotter in 5 seconds?! I remembered feeling like I was flying last year – going about this same pace, but having had no intention of doing so. I was back home, and it felt so good. My mind finally did me a favor, trusting that if that PR was possible one year ago, this one would be, too.

*Math be damned! I know I’ve got this, and I can do it without staring at the timer on my wrist.

Turning onto H street meant I finally got to see the Back on My Feet crewthey rock. Screaming & cheering and genuinely SO EXCITED for all of out there. You guys are amazing – thanks for the needed boost!

….Miles 12 & 13: Not fun, not euphoric, not enjoyable. All I know is that I was closing in that goal, my mind was anxious and my muscles just seemed to calmly take over. They knew exactly what to do and how to do it. The last few splits (starting at mile 9) were the most consistent I had all day – 7:17, 7:15, 7:17, 7:30, 7:17.

MarathonFoto Finishing Line 1100_1833

13 – 13.1 taught me exactly what that puke threshold feels like. It’s totally worth it to check that Goal box.

MarathonFoto after 1 100_1835100_1843
IMG_0659RnR USA 2012 Medal

2012 Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half-Marathon Official Results:

1:38:56 – avg. 7;33

Gender: 164 / 10,707
Age Group (25-29): 51 / 3025
Overall: 664 / 16291

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Congrats to all who finished,
and a huge kudos to those who tackled the FULL on a very warm, sunny spring day!

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Rock ‘n’ Roll USA – Inaugural Success

I learned a valuable lesson from my legs on Saturday, something I needed to know before the eventual summer training for MCM 2012:

Never underestimate the combination of a stubborn,
goal-driven mindset and a hefty dose of adrenaline.

IMG_0654100_1833
IMG_0659

Mission 1:39:xx = accomplished!

More to come soon! Today, the muscles & mind took a much-needed rest…

Edited to add: this was the “Inaugural” Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon & Half-marathon. RnR did a great job organizing 24,000+ runners through a course that most of us were already a fan of!

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Filed under challenges, DC, Goals, race report, things that make me Happy, weekends