The Marine Corps Marathon

Oh, hi blogging world! It’s been awhile. I would explain my hiatus, but who cares? I’m back.

I did something pretty awesome this weekend. I outran a hurricane. No joke!

The forecasters were going back and forth about hurricane Sandy all week leading up to the big race on Sunday. Some stations were calling for DC to get pounded on Sunday and others were saying the weather would hold off until Monday. I was crossing my fingers, toes, hair, eyes (ANYTHING) that we would be dry for race day.

I was REALLY anxious for this race. Even though this was my third marathon, I had a lot of [self-imposed] pressure to do well. I trained harder for this marathon than for my last two and had high hopes for a PR. My family and some friends were coming out since it was a local race, so I didn’t want to make a fool of myself (not that anyone would judge me for running a bit slower- 26.2 is quite an accomplishment no matter how fast you run it). Still, I wanted to beat my previous PR of 4:49:34. At the expo, I also heard that Oprah ran the race back in 1994 and knocked it out of the park with a 4:29 finish. I just HAD to beat Oprah. I was hopeful, but anxious.

Race morning started at 5:00 am when my alarm blared. I was actually able to catch some sleep despite my anxiety so I was feeling refreshed and energized…yes, even at 5 am. Unfortunately, my friend Brook (who was supposed to run as well) caught a cold a few days before the race, so she couldn’t make it. Luckily, I have an awesome boyfriend who was willing to sacrifice some zzzz’s, and whom I forced volunteered to accompany me to the starting line.

The metro (which is within walking distance to my apartment) opened early for runners and was extremely convenient for getting us to the starting line on time. Once we got off the train at Pentagon, it was a longer walk than I expected (probably about a mile) to the start. We got there with plenty of time for a porta-potty break and bag check, and then proceeded to the corrals.

Still dark, so early!

Jim was able to stay with me until literally 5 minutes before the race, which was great because otherwise I would have been a nervous wreck (although, if you ask him, I already was…) I started in the 4:30 – 5:00 corral which was probably a mistake. I underestimated how crowded the course was going to be and wished I had started with a faster group. When the gun sounded, it took about 10 minutes to reach the actual starting line. There were masses and masses of runners. However, this was one of my favorite parts of the whole race. I high-fived no less than 10 Marines who all wished me luck as I thanked them for their service, it was awesome and touching!

Prior to the race, I had glanced at the course map once or twice so I knew the first few miles were hilly. I trained on hills, so I was confident. I felt really strong going uphill, but going down was causing some side-cramps, which I assumed was due to my poor carbo-loading the day before. My stomach was doing some weird things during the first 5 miles and I was nervous that I was going to have to stop and walk. Around mile 4 I felt my first blister forming. <– I know, mile 4….REALLY?! I ran the first 10k in 1:02:09, exactly a 10:00/mile pace.

I knew this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park, but I pushed on. Miles 6-15 were all a blur. The race was so crowded that I was weaving in and out of runners, which I never enjoy but I started to feel strong and wanted to go faster. We ran through Georgetown and around the Lincoln Memorial. I looked for Jim and my parents around mile 11 but didn’t see them. It kind of bummed me out, but I pushed on in hopes that I would see them around mile 16. We ran around a peninsula where we hit the half-way point and the crowds began to thin out a bit. I still wanted to go faster, but decided I should save some juice for the last half of the race. My pace for 20k was 9:48, I was trucking along!

I was to thankful to get off that peninsula and back into the city. I saw Jim and my parents near mile 17 and almost tackled them I was so excited. I was still feeling great at this point and only stopped long enough to give them all hugs and continued on my way. A few yards later I saw my co-worker, Amy, who cheered me on. I get so pumped up when I see people I know, there is no greater feeling than having friends there to support you.

Miles 17-19 were awesome because we ran along the National Mall. This was where my legs started to feel heavy, so I was thankful for the touristy distraction. By the 30k mark I was running at a 9:42 pace, hello negative splits!

Miles 20-24 were rough. Like, really, really rough. I wanted it to be over. All I could think about was drinking a beer and eating a bacon cheeseburger. I tried to tell myself, “The rest is cake, you run further than that EVERYDAY.” But, my mind-games weren’t working, I kept countering myself with, “Yeah, but you also don’t run 20 miles before it.” I tried to zone out and listen to music, I’m sure everyone loved hearing me sing along to BBMak (remember them?!). Running makes you do strange things.

Around 40k my pace slowed down a bit to a 9:52 min/mile, this was okay with me. I quickly realized that I was not only going to beat my PR, I was going to absolutely crush it. My super secret goal (really, I think I only told one person) was to break 4:30. That would require knocking 20 minutes off my previous PR time. Once I hit mile 25, I knew I had it in the bag and thought I might even have a chance to break 4:20. I went for it!

That last mile was EXCRUCIATING. I just kept saying, “Less than a mile, you can do it. Less than a mile.” But my legs barely believed me. I concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other, because that’s all my body could handle. My friend Meredith spotted me at 25.5 and cheered as loud as she could. I was sooooo excited to see her and my adrenaline kicked in hard, seeing her meant I was almost done.

My friend Colin snapped this picture of me approaching the finish line. Look at the sheer PAIN on my face.

As I rounded the last corner, I saw my mom and up a few yards were my dad and Jim cheering me on. I don’t think I’ve ever been more thankful to see them. From my experience running the 10k race a few years back, I knew the course ended on a painful uphill. Those jerks! I gave it my last bit of energy, encouraged the people around me, and sprinted (or what I felt was sprinting) through the finish line with a 4:19:52 finish!!

Not only did I beat my previous PR, but I beat it by 30 whole minutes. ANNND I beat Oprah! The best part about it all? Absolutely perfect racing conditions and not even one drop of rain. Someone was looking out for us!

After the race I found my walking, talking marathon support kit and he gave me my cell phone and Ibuprofen (sooo necessary):

Meredith also found us after the race, I thanked her probably no less than 1,000 times for coming out!

And my amazing family whom, I swear, didn’t even plan to all wear the same shirt but did anyway!!

Post-race, we ended up walking about a mile (uphill) to the Courthouse metro station, since the line for Rossyln literally wrapped around the block. Once we finally caught a train, we headed into Chinatown for an early dinner at Clyde’s where I finally got a bacon cheeseburger and a beer. Yum!

I seriously can’t thank everyone who supported me in this race enough- from being there in person, to text and facebook messages, your words of encouragement were felt. Having friends and family out there cheering for you is the greatest feeling for a runner. Each of you helped me get through at least one mile of this course. So, seriously, thank you!

Another epic 26.2 in the books!

Happy 1 Year!

…to my blog!

Yesterday, September 23rd, was the one year anniversary of the very first blog post on Cait Strides. I had the idea to start this blog as a way to keep me accountable for marathon training and [as a picky eater] trying new foods. It has turned into so much more than that and has truly been a pleasure to write nearly everyday. It’s been a pretty crazy year with so many up’s and down’s. Of course, it’s impossible for me to share every aspect of my life on this blog, but I thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane and share a few highlights from the past year:

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The First Post – chronicling a bit about my life and how I became such a picky eater/my desire for change (Sept 2011)

Life of a runner – explaining my love-to-hate relationship with running (Sept 2011)

Hawaii Trip!! – when I went to visit a good friend who is living in Hawaii (Oct 2011)

Graduating from the kiddie menu – my first Chipotle experience (Oct 2011)

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse – Run For Your Lives post race report (Oct 2011)

Experimenting in the kitchen – first time making pizza dough (Nov 2011)

On Life, and Death – serious contemplation on life and what it means to fully live (Nov 2011)

Ran Philadelphia – marathon #2 in the books! (Nov 2011)

Truly becoming a Maryland-er – making the most delicious crab pizza (Dec 2011)

Discovering my inner hipster – I’m even too cool for this post (Dec 2011)

New Years Eve in NYC – easily one of the craziest nights of my life and one I won’t forget any time soon (Dec 2011/Jan 2012)

Weight – announcing my struggles with weight and committing to lose weight (Jan 2012) – for the record, I’m 15 lbs lighter! WOO!

It’s not always rainbows and butterflies – sometimes life is hard (Feb 2012)

Things I love – a different kind of Valentine’s Day (Feb 2012)

Shamrockin’ the races – Post race Shamrock Half and PR report (March 2012)

Monument Ave 10k – another race recap (March 2012)

Kristina’s visit! – my BFF from Washington came to visit for a weekend in DC, we had a blast (April 2012)

It’s a BOY!! – my sister and bro-in-law find out they’re having a boy! (April 2012)

Livin’ the Sweet Life – hanging out at the Sweet Life Festival (April 2012)

Memorial Day Weekend – Instagramming my entire life away (May 2012)

USA vs. Brazil Soccer game/vacation #1 to Myrtle Beach – kicking off summer the right way (June 2012)

Lindsey’s Bachelorette Party – girls just want to have fun (June 2012)

Erin’s baby shower – spending the weekend with my family celebrating my sister (July 2012)

4th of July – a low key 4th of July celebration at my parent’s house (July 2012)

Myrtle Beach Vacation #2 – Post 1, Post 2, Post 3 my family is crazy and I love them (July 2012)

Debating chicken and teal pants – in the same post, impressive! (August 2012)

Mumford & Sons and Kyle is born! – best weekend of summer, easily (August 2012)

Rockin’ and Rollin’ in VA Beach – Rock ‘n Roll VA Beach sweeeeaty post-race recap (Sept 2012)

Remembering 9/11 – never forget (Sept 2012)

Thank you so much to everyone who has continued to read and support Cait Strides. I have appreciated each and every one of your messages, comments, and feedback! Writing this blog has truly been a pleasure; I hope you enjoy reading my ridiculous quips as much as I enjoy writing them.

I’m looking forward to blogging another crazy year of my life: more races, running, cooking, new foods, and general fun with my favorite people. Get ready.

Thank you!

Why Runners are Misunderstood

We runners are a breed of our own. We enjoy crazy things like taking an ice bath after an 18-mile long run. It’s great to be surrounded by a community who understands those tendencies; however, 90% of my friends are non-runners. If I had a nickel for every time someone gave me a strange look while I was talking about running habits, I’d be at LEAST a thousand-aire by now!

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Here are some helpful tips for our non-marathon-running friends to better understand us:

When I talk about the various races I’ve done in the past, I’m not bragging.

Runners love to talk about races. LOVE IT! Put a couple of runners in the same room, and we could go on for hours and hours because it’s something we can connect with on all levels. So many of us have run the same ones, so it’s fun to talk about things like “can you believe how crowded the course was, I was weaving in and out the whole time!”, “I can’t believe they charged $60 for entry and didn’t even give a medal!”, and “Really, who decided it was a good idea to have the bag check 6 blocks away from the starting line?!” I’m telling you, I could talk about races for hours, but I’m not trying to brag. I don’t even pretend to be a seriously hardcore speedy racer, because I’m not.

The same holds true when I mention I’m training for a marathon.

No, really. I’m not bragging. I’m actually giving you an excuse for why I am always tired and limping. But, bragging, I am not.

I might tell you that I need to go to bed at 9pm on a Saturday night.

And it’s totally true, I do. Especially during the hot summer months, when I need to get up super early to run way too many miles before it reaches 105 degrees. Knowing that I’m not a morning person (and that I need at least 8 hours of sleep), an early bedtime is my only hope for actually getting out of bed. It’s not an excuse to get out of hanging out! Seriously, you try getting up at 6am to run 18 miles after staying up past midnight and drinking. Yeah, get back to me on that.

I plan my life around my training schedule.

I don’t plan my training schedule around my life. It sucks, but sometimes I can’t do certain things or go certain places because I know I have to fit in those miles. Don’t take it personally, I’d much rather be hanging out with you!

I can’t go out for tapas the night before a race, sorry!

Gonna need something more substantial, like pasta.

I’m going to talk your ear off about all things training and racing, NOT sorry!

Running is my hobby. It takes a lot of time, sacrifice, and dedication. So I’m going to talk about it, I want to talk about it, and I want you to want to hear about it. I love it all from the blisters turned callous to the runny-nose snot rockets. It’s part of my favorite sport, so don’t be surprised if I go on for 15 minutes about my mid-race emergency porta-potty break. Don’t worry, you can get me back by talking my ear off for a few hours about sewing or video games, if you’re into that kind of stuff.

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In which ways is your favorite hobby misunderstood?

Race Recap: Rock ‘n Roll VA Beach

Looks like race season, feels like race season, it must be race season!

Hope you all enjoyed a nice, long weekend if you were fortunate enough to have the day off work! Labor Day always sort of depresses me because it marks the near-end of summer. No more pool? No more tan? Boo. BUT, it marks the beginning of football, pumpkin beer, and cooler temps which I certainly agree with. It also means the beginning of race season, which typically runs from September to January. I kicked off this season with the Virginia Beach Rock ‘n Roll half marathon on Sunday.

I headed down to the beach on Saturday afternoon. I was trying to avoid the insane crowds that this expo is known for, so I showed up about an hour before it closed. GENIUS. Worked like a charm. I didn’t have to wait in any lines and even capitalized on some sweet freebees that vendors were basically throwing at me. All was fine and dandy until my race buddy Brook (who was supposed to meet me at the expo) called  to tell me that they closed down one of the tunnels into VA beach and she was stuck. I ended up walking around the expo by myself (a new experience), and exploring nearly every booth to pass the time.

Why is everyone so obsessed with zombies these days? I blame the Walking Dead.

After a stressful hour in traffic, Brook made it to the expo with four whole minutes to spare. Phew! Most of the  vendors were already packing up their booths, when they say the expo closes at 5pm, they mean it.

The rest of the weekend went much, much smoother. We spent the night at my brother’s place who (conveniently) lives in Norfolk. He took us in for the night and fed us a full feast of chicken and pasta. Meanwhile, Brook and I chugged about 8 gallons of Gatorade and enjoyed some fitness wisdom via P.F. Changs fortune cookie:

Thanks P.F. Changs, so reassuring…

The next morning, we woke up bright and EARLY and headed back to the beach for the race. In previous years, I’ve had issues getting to the starting line on time. This year, by some miracle, we were at the starting line with 30 minutes to spare. It was perfect, we were able to grab some water and make a last minute porta-potty break. So clutch!

I started in Corral 3 and Brook was in 15, so we said goodbye at the start line. Corral 3 was crowded, but I knew I was in good company since these people were pacing at 1:45. I knew that was out of my wheelhouse, but I’d much prefer to be with runners going faster than to be weaving in and out of people. Check out how crowded this race gets:

Brook snapped this photo at the starting line.

I think I’ve figured out the reason I only run this race every other year. It’s HUMID AS HELL. Apparently I run the race, sweat all the water out of my body, vow to never EVER run it ever again, then promptly forget that pledge every two years. What a vicious cycle.

This year was the worst in terms of heat. It was 80 degrees by 7am and already about 1000% humidity. I started sweating before the race even started and didn’t stop until 2 hours post-race. I sweat through 2 shirts and 2 pairs of pants. Impressive, no? Who knew the human body could even hold so much water!

Not a dry spot on my body

Typically, I can make it to at least mile 4 without stopping for water. Not this time. I grabbed something at every. single. station. Sometimes I would chug a Gatorade, chase it with water, and then grab another one to pour over my head. It was that hot. People were so drenched with sweat that I could feel them dripping on me as I tried to pass by. One lady’s clothes were a little too baggy and so weighed down with sweat that she kept losing her pants every time she’d pick up speed. Hilarious, but unfortunate.

That being said, I think I would have absolutely crushed this race had it not been so freaking hot.

Marathon training is really starting to show improvements in my running. I was well under two hours and my body felt great. Besides sweating a ton, I didn’t feel fatigued at all and probably could have run all day! That’s weird, I know. I wasn’t even sore after, wtf (in a good way). I was pretty stoked with my time and how well my body performed considering the conditions. It makes me very hopeful for a good result come October!

Post-race, I had time to spare while I waited for Brook to finish up, so I soaked my feet in the ocean and hung around the finisher’s party.

Bling blingin’

Once Brook finished up, we hung out for a bit and indulged in one of these:

The plan was to come back for the post-race concert with Train. But the show didn’t start until 9pm and a shower, nap, and food sounded far more appealing so we bailed.

Overall, I’d give the race this rating:

Meh.

Too hot, but nothing you can do about that. The local bands are fun, and the atmosphere is super laid back and cool. It’s well organized, but too big. My one qualm about the race course? The finish. You enter the boardwalk able to SEE the finish line, but you don’t actually reach it for another mile or so. It’s like you’re running, running, running but it’s not getting any closer. Agonizing!

Will I run it again? Probably in two years.

Did you run any races this weekend? How did it go?

You Sneaky Half-Marathon!

The title of this post is a play on this Jimmy Kimmel video:

Observe the kids at 2:45, sassiest children EVER!

Anyway, I looked at the calendar today and was shocked that there are only two days left in August. September, you snuck up on me! With all my MCM Marathon training, it totally slipped my mind that I signed up for a Labor Day half marathon. Oops!

It’s a good thing they sent me this confirmation e-mail because it definitely had slid under my radar. I haven’t been in much of a running mood this week. I blew off yesterday’s morning run because it was raining, but I made up for it today. I’m hoping that Thursday and Friday’s runs will launch me into race mode. It really is a mindset, huh?

With that said, I have to admit that I’m not all that worried about this race. I’m probably in better shape now than I was for my last half where I PRed. However, I’m not trying to break any records this time around. My goal is to run the whole thing at my marathon race pace (between 8-9 min/miles), we’ll see how that goes. Rock ‘n Roll races are notorious for being super overcrowded, and I can tell you from experience: that’s true. This year will be my third time running this particular race:

2008 – my first half marathon (1:58:17)

2010 – 2:00:12

2012 (I guess I only run this race on even numbered years, weird?)

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Errr…there’s no photo for 2012 yet, so I put up a picture of the first thing that came to mind.

SPEAKING OF *NSYNC, my middle-school BFF (who was equally as obsessed as I was) had a dream come true when she met Joseph A. Fatone last week. Don’t know who that is? You need to brush up on your 90’s boy band trivia, brah. It’s Joey from *NSYNC. Like a true friend, she texted me minute-by-minute live updates.

My inner 13 year old wept tears of elation when I saw this picture of them. Oh, and that CD in her hand? Euro *NSYNC circa 1997. No one is as hardcore as we are. No one.

But in all seriousness, if she meets JT next, I’m demanding that she hold him hostage until I can hop a plane to Seattle. Then we can meet, he can fall in love with me (obvs), divorce that gross Jessica Biel, and we can have copious blue-eye, brown-haired babies.

…WHAT? It could happen.

Have you ever met a celebrity? Who?

Marathon vs Social Life

Finding time to train for a marathon is tough. I don’t know about you, but I am by no means running at Olympic speeds here, so when I have an 18 mile run on my docket, I need to portion out a solid half-day to knock it out. All of my long runs tend to fall on weekends which is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because I don’t have to worry about it interfering with work, but a curse in that most of my family and closest friends live out of town. Since I am traveling almost every weekend, finding time to fit in my long runs has proven to be challenging.

You read A LOT about my social life on here, because I love doing fun things. If I don’t have plans, I tend to go stir crazy! Yet, I still need to run if I want to make it through my 26.2 in October without keeling over. Finding a balance between fun and serious training is difficult, but necessary.

Here some tips that I have implemented to ensure that I’m still training even on weekends where I am busy having fun:

Get a GPS Watch

I debated buying a GPS watch for years and years. I am SO glad that I finally have. A GPS watch is absolutely necessary for anyone who loves to both run and travel. I can literally run in any city now! I love that this watch tells me how far I’ve gone since I have to hit certain mile markers for each of my long runs. For example, I recently used this watch while at the beach. It’s so refreshing to run on the beach in the morning before it burns off. All I had to do was turn on my watch, run until I hit half of my distance, then turn around and run back to my hotel. Perfect!

Pack Your Running Shoes

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s actually a really helpful tip. If I bring my running shoes with me, I am more likely to go for a run (instead of having that last cocktail) just because I went through the effort to pack them in the first place. I hate wasting space in my bag, so I better use them if I brought them. Simple, but effective!

Plan Ahead

I love to be spontaneous. Really, I do! But, training for a marathon makes that tough. Making last minute plans is something I’m willing to give up (until October) for my own sanity. These days, I need to have my days planned out far in advance to make sure I fit everything in. I generally try to not make plans to go out the night before a long run, drinking + no sleep + 16 miles on the schedule = not happening. I can’t do it all!

Fuel Correctly

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Everyone always talks about how important it is to fuel your body correctly the night before a big race, but what about fueling correctly the night before a long run? It is just as important to eat the right foods during training as it is on the big day, so I try to be very careful to eat well(-ish) before all runs. Have you ever eaten a huge burger and fries the night before a 12 mile morning run? No? Well, take my word for it…that thing will sit in your stomach like a pound of bricks and you will NOT be comfortable. Avoid greasy, heavy foods and alcohol before long runs. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later.

Don’t Eat Back All Your Calories

In addition to my last point about fuel, it’s important to avoid eating back all the calories you just burned…PLUS some!. This is something I have always struggled with, and is a common issue for many marathon runners. The mentality becomes, “Well, I just ran 15 miles, so I can eat WHATEVER I WANT TODAY!” Not true. I love to go out to eat, especially when I’m traveling and visiting my friends in different cities. Running gives me an excuse to order the least healthy (but most delicious) thing on the menu. Try to resist!

Remember to Have FUN!

Don’t get so sucked into marathon training that you don’t have a social life at all. Go out with friends, travel, visit new places, try new foods, and enjoy life! When I’m visiting friends, I try to get them in on the action too. Even if they are only willing to run 3 miles with me, that’s better than nothing. It’s always more fun to run with friends than by yourself! And you know what, enjoy that occasional margarita and don’t feel bad about it. Chances are…you’ve earned it!

How do YOU balance fitness goals with your social life?

Happy National Running Day!

With no hesitation at all, I will admit that I’m a crazy runner.

When I found out that today was National Running Day I actually got a little giddy inside. I’m a weirdo, I know. I decided to celebrate by strapping on my best running shoes,

my favorite running t-shirt (sensing a color scheme here),

my new Garmin (it locates satellites super quick, btw),

and hitting the pavement for a glorious 4 mile stroll. Running = endorphins = happiness.

Today on RunningDay.org, there was a featured section on 10 Way to Celebrate National Running Day. I think they’re fun, so I figured I’d share!

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I’m working on a few of these:

#1- I love running because it’s my “me” time. It’s the 1 (or 5) hours a day that I have to gain clarity and remove myself from everything else going on in life. That being said, I run races solely for the beer at the end. True story!

#2- Race t-shirt. Check!

#5- I decided to run through Rock Creek Park today instead of my usual route down 16th street. Parks > Busy streets! Parks also = sketchy, so I don’t know how often I’ll be doing that.

#8- Today seems like a pretty good day to get my running goals in order for the Marine Corps Marathon coming up in October. Training schedule – Check!

#9- I hate the treadmill. So this is nothing new.

#10- Any ideas on how to treat yourself like a champion? I’m having shrimp pasta for dinner with my family. Yum!

Annnnnd since I work for Discovery and my friend posted this on my facebook wall, here are some do’s and don’ts of running via the Discovery website! Thanks Colin. ;-) [edited to add: Upon reading these closer, I'm not sure if I agree with all of them. Especially the ones about landing on your heel and the running shoes. Different discussion for a different day.]

How are you celebrating National Running Day?

Fast Friday Update

I’ve been neglecting my little piece of the internet this week, which is very uncharacteristic. I just haven’t had much to write about.

So here are a few things that have been going on this week.

I bought a Garmin Forerunner 410

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Remember how the other week I was inquiring about race watches? Well, the very next day there was a Groupon deal for $100 off the Garmin Forerunner 410. I took it as a sign and bought it on impulse. It should be here within the next few days; I am ridiculously excited to try out my new toy.

I signed up for another half marathon

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I’m running the Rock ‘n Roll in VA Beach for the third time this September. This race is fun, although it can get a little crowded on the course. The only reason I’m really signing up is because Train is the headliner this year for the concert. I <3 their music!

RunDisney unveiled the new marathon course for the 20th Anniversary Disney World Marathon

Words cannot express how excited I am about this course. I loved running the marathon in 2011, although, admittedly the course got slightly boring because you spend a lot of time running between the parks on back roads. Disney does a great job filling the lulls with entertainment, but it seems like this new course has even more attraction time! I did slightly groan at the idea of running around a race track (they are on a slight sideways incline which can be painful on your legs), I am dying to know what the surprise at mile 20 is! I really want to try to do the Goofy Challenge this year (ie. run the half on Saturday and the full on Sunday). No, I’m not a crazy runner, not at all.

I booked a BEACH trip!!

Finally taking my first vacation days of the year…I can’t believe it took me until June! I’m heading down to (hopefully) sunny South Carolina in a few weeks. I’m so ready for the beach, beer, mini golf, food, and relaxation time.  Myrtle Beach, here I come!

My heel is giving me problems

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This isn’t as positive as everything else on the list, but my heel has been acting up this week. Every time I run, I have sharp pains in my heel and sometimes they last for an entire day after. I’ve taken it easy with the running this week, but it still hasn’t gone away. My brother (in PT school, so I trust him) says it looks like early signs of plantar fasciitis. I sure hope not because that will put a serious damper on #1-3 on this list!

Happy Friday! Any big weekend plans?

Time Yourself

For the past few weeks, I’ve been debating back and forth about whether or not to invest in a Garmin (or other brand, doesn’t matter) running watch. I’ve been thinking about this for awhile and I’m still at a stalemate, so I thought I’d see what you guys think.

I’ve never been one of those runners who cares much about time. I’ve always been a pretty average/moderately fast runner, but I never worked hard at making myself quicker. I always ran just to…run. Recently though, I’ve had dreams of increasing my speed. It all started a few weeks ago when I PRed at the Shamrock Half Marathon. I liked setting a goal (albeit a very loose goal, but still a goal nonetheless) and achieving it. I realize that if I do interval training and apply myself, I can (hopefully) make myself faster. My marathon times have been pretty mediocre thus far: close to 5 hours for both, and I’d like to improve GREATLY upon that time for the Marine Corps Marathon in October. If I can run a 1:55 half, I’m thinking that I should be able to run a 4:30 marathon. Easier said than done, of course. It’s going to take some tough interval training and I will have to start paying attention to time during long runs. Which is why I’m thinking about buying a Garmin watch.

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Pros of buying a Garmin:

  • Can finally time myself and figure out what my average pace is/should be.
  • Improve on my speed for the marathon.
  • Be more accurate in my distances. Right now I use google maps, and perhaps this isn’t the best judge of running distance.
  • With that, I can try some new running trails since I won’t have to map them out beforehand. This would be great in marathon training since I tend to get bored of the one I do everyday.
  • Be more of a “real” runner. Don’t all the real runners have these things?

Cons of buying a Garmin:

  • It’s expensive! Ahhhhh!!!
  • Will I become one of those people who is constantly looking at my wrist during races? And the anxiety that comes with that.
  • Clunky, extra weight.
  • Waiting for satellites, I’ve heard fun stories about this.
  • Will it take the fun out of running?

The big con that I’m worried about is that last one on the list. Will it take the fun out of my favorite sport? Thoughts? Should I get the watch or not?

I’ve got some time to figure out if this is a smart investment for me. No better place to contemplate such things than here, which may or may not have happened this weekend:

Happy (belated) Cinco de Mayo!

Monument Ave 10k

This past weekend, I hit the road once again. This time to Richmond for the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k.

I had plans to run this race with two of good friends: Meredith and Brook. Meredith’s parents live in Richmond (she lives up here in DC), and Brook lives in North Carolina. So we were all coming from different places and meeting in Richmond. Despite leaving work early, I hit an obscene amount of traffic. After about 3 hours of sitting on I-95 South, I looked like this:

Brook texted me and said that she was just leaving and was hitting no traffic.

Brook is a jerk.

Anyway, once I finally got to Richmond 4.5 hours later (seriously, longest it’s ever taken me to get there!) I went out in search of Italian (gotta carb load!) food with a few Richmond natives: Jim and Joe. The first place we tried was super crowded (I think due to a ton of runners with the same idea), so we headed across the street to the Village Cafe. The pasta was decent, huge portions, and exactly what I was craving. But my favorite part about this meal was that water was served in half pitchers:

As someone who chugs water like a camel, I appreciated this. Plus, I was trying to hydrate for my race!

A few weeks ago, Meredith approached me about possibly running this race in support of her friend Bess who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer at the young age of 26. Bess is a fellow JMU grad and an aspiring runner, so naturally, I was all for it. Last week, Meredith and I made t-shirts for the 3 of us runner girls, which turned out awesome (I think so anyway) and worked out really well for race day.

Front

Back

I had been monitoring the weather all week, which was calling for rain. Of course, mother nature delivered. It was a gloomy, wet morning. Meredith’s parents were nice enough to drive us to the start line on race morning, so we wouldn’t have to worry about parking. It was so clutch to not have to battle for parking with the 40,000 (!!!) other participants!

Seriously, this race is huge. All of Richmond must run it, because I have never seen so many people in one place at one time. There were about 35 corrals starting with elite runners and ending with walkers. I started in an early(ish) corral, pacing with folks who were planned to finish in about 56 minutes. My one qualm about the start line was that the bag check was located 6 blocks away. We actually had ask someone at the information booth where it was because we didn’t see any signs pointing us in the right direction. Once we checked our bags, Brook and I headed to our corral and Meredith headed to hers (she was running a few behind us with her cousin).

The race itself is a nice, flat, 3 miles down Monument Avenue. The beginning is pretty crammed. I had to weave in and out of other runners, and definitely found myself running on the sidewalk at times. I hate when I have to do that! But once we hit mile 1, the crowd thinned out. The cobblestone streets are slightly uneven and I had to watch my step a few times as to not trip. But I spent most of the race keeping an eye out for my friend Sarah, who was visiting friends in Richmond and said she’d come out to cheer us on. I spotted her just past mile 5 and it was the boost I needed to finish strong!

I felt great, and my legs felt strong. But I definitely did not PR. There were way too many people to dodge! Here are the official results:

52:15? Not too shabby for a rainy day!

Meredith and Brook did great too! Meredith finished in under an hour, and Brook was only a few minutes behind that. I’m so proud of them!

One of my favorite aspects of this race is that people have fun with it. There were a lot people dressed in costume like these guys, for example:

Post race, I had a margarita (necessary) and a quesadilla (and that’s not even close to everything I ate this day hahaha).

And then I did about 4 hours of this:

Note to self: get a hammock…and a dog.

Have you ever PR’ed at a crowded race? How do you deal with all the people?

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