I’m Not Cut Out For This – The Coldest Long Run

I’m heading up to New Hampshire this weekend so I decided to take advantage of my day off for President’s Day yesterday and get my long run in early. As I got ready to head out during the warmest part of the day it was 17 degrees with a real feel of 10. (Seriously – it is not supposed to get this cold in Virginia!)

This cold weather wimp was not excited, but knowing that temperature would be considered downright balmy in New Hampshire, I wasn’t putting it off. For those that run through winter weather like this all the time – I am impressed. As a runner I know I am in the minority, but I will take my 90-degree, 90 percent humidity DC summer runs over this any day.

I have always been one to wimp away from the extreme cold – don’t ask me how I survived my first 22 years in growing up in Syracuse, NY because I’m really not sure. I have done plenty of long runs on a treadmill including several 20 milers, but after a couple recent tough days on the treadmill, I was hesitant to go for 16 on one Monday.

I put on all the layers – a tank, Oiselle wool base layer, another long sleeve on top and my Oiselle Livinit jacket. I also had two pairs of socks on, a hat, neck gaiter and gloves. I was not messing around.

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I’m not cut out for this I thought as I waited impatiently for my watch to find the satellites. Who thought training for a spring marathon would be a good idea anyways?! I thought this again as my legs felt really slow and heavy just one mile in.

At about mile two I realized my brilliant plan to wear my hydration pack instead of carrying a handheld was not so brilliant. Two miles was all it took for the water in the tube to completely freeze making it impossible to get any out. See – I’m not cut out for this!

By mile eight the bargaining had already started. I could divert to the Rosslyn Metro, but no if I keep going it’s just a couple more miles until I could hop off the trail to the airport metro and get home that way, because no one is cut out for this cold. By mile 10 though, as I passed the airport, I finally lost count of how many other runners, walkers and bikers were out on the trail. I got to at least 50 so I couldn’t stop now. (Man, we are a crazy bunch!)

After passing the airport I told myself to go just a few more miles and I could hop off of Four Mile Run Trail and call an Uber to get home. At mile 12 as I was opening my backpack and trying to poor water out of it into my mouth, I couldn’t help but think again, what am I doing?! I’m just not cut out for this!

Can your eyeballs freeze? Serious question – because I think at this point in the run mine had. Everything was getting blurry and I was having a tough time blinking. (I think that it’s more likely that because I sweat so much even in this cold, my eyelashes were frozen – but still, it was a crazy experience that this fair-weather outdoor runner has not experienced before.)

During the final three miles I came up with every excuse in the book for why it would be OK if I just stopped running and got that Uber the rest of the way home. Then after what seemed like way too long (probably because I ran ridiculously slower than I had hoped) my watch beeped signifying the 16th mile.

Thank God! I was so incredibly happy to have this run over with. As I lay in the fetal position on my bedroom floor texting my husband that I had made it all 16 miles, I thought never again will I run in temps like this as I’m totally just not cut out for it.

Except that – maybe I am! I think one of the best things about being a runner is constantly pushing your limits and finding ways to do things you never thought you could.

Tell me about a time you did something you thought you weren’t cut out for!

 

 

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Footprints: Monday Morning Recap

Aside from a skipped workout over the weekend, I felt really good about this week. I forced myself on the treadmill to push the pace a couple times this week and for the first time started feeling notable progress on my paces. I tallied 35 miles over the course of five runs for the week.

Here’s the day-by-day breakdown:

Monday: I enjoyed my last Florida run Monday morning putting in 6 easy miles.

Tuesday: Rest day.

Wednesday: I hit the treadmill for my speed workout this week to force myself to keep a faster, more consistent pace and it worked. After a 1.5 mile warm up, I put in 4X1200 meter repeats with a 400 recovery in between each. I wrapped up with a 1 mile cool down, a quick strength workout and a P90X core routine.

Thursday: For the second straight year I ran the DC Road Runner’s Resolutions and Predictions 5k. My watch never started so I ran by feel and was initially disappointed when I tried to figure out my finish time after the race. Turns out I was more than a minute off and my chip time put me at 23:03! More to come on this one. I chased the race with my P90X core routine before Ian and I hopped in the car to visit with friends in Ocean City.

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Friday: Despite maybe having too much to drink the night before, I put in 10 great miles and felt really good doing it. I have to be leery of these kinds of runs though as I went a bit harder than what my easy pace should be, but wasn’t pushing enough to count it as speed work. I want to make sure I don’t put in too many runs in this no man’s land zone that don’t really benefit me. I wrapped up with my P90X core routine again.

Saturday: After driving back from Ocean City I caught a case of the lazies and didn’t make it out for my run, but at the very least got my P90X core routine in to keep my New Year’s streak going. My record is just more than 100 days – we’ll see if I can get near that again.

Sunday: I hit the gym again for my tempo run putting in 9.2 miles with the middle chunk of those as marathon goal pace! I felt really good about finally hitting these paces and feeling comfortable doing so. I hung in at the gym just long enough to do my P90X core workout and another quick strength workout.

Happy New Year everyone! Hope you all got your year off to a great start as well!

Teammates

What a year! It’s hard to believe how quickly it went by. 2014 was a pretty awesome year for me on most fronts. I got to marry the love of my life, celebrate my brother’s wedding, spend lots of time with family and friends and go on the trip of a lifetime among other bright spots.

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It was not however, my greatest running year. I started off recovering from a tough marathon in 2013 that left me mentally drained and physically hurt. With such a busy 2014, I never got into a solid training groove until very late in the year. While I raced fairly often, I didn’t set a single PR all year – or really even come close.

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Despite this, I’m still thankful for my year in running. I’m able to do something that not everyone can physically do and that should never be taken for granted. I also got to enjoy the support of some amazing teammates. I joined the Oiselle Volee team in late 2013 and it has been an incredibly motivating experience. The feeling of community in this group of kickass women runners from the elites to the Flock is so strong and empowering, and I love every bit of it.

Oiselle Team & Friends pre-Cherry Blossom Race

Oiselle Team & Friends pre-Cherry Blossom Race

It is so fun to log on to twitter and see how the rest of the birds are doing. It is great to celebrate in everyone’s accomplishments and pump up those struggling through tough runs or injury.

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As a team-sport athlete growing up, I had really missed that camaraderie and support that comes with being a part of a team, and I am so thankful to have that back. No matter what happened on race days or during training, I was always met with positive words and encouragement from this community.

Picture from Courtney's blog - check it out at eatprayrundc.com

Picture from Courtney’s blog – check it out at eatprayrundc.com

I’ve also made some great friends through this group and love all the fun meetups our DC flock (and birds visiting the DC area) has done. From pasta dinners before big races and fashion shows to race day meet-ups and brunches, it was always fun to interact in person with this inspiring group of women.

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We ended the year with two great meet-ups – a holiday lights run followed by a holiday treats happy hour a week later. It was a blast exploring my favorite spots in DC decked in holiday lights and Christmas trees. Of course the holiday treats happy hour followed by dinner at Shake Shack was a great time as well!

Holiday Lights Run - photo courtesy of Julie Anderson

Holiday Lights Run – photo courtesy of Julie

Holiday Treats Happy Hour

Holiday Treats Happy Hour

Thanks for keeping me going through a tough running year. I cannot wait to crush some new goals and PRs in 2015! Head up, Wings out!

Race Recap: Jingle All The Way 5k

A few weeks ago I ran the Jingle All The Way 5k put on by Pacers right in the heart of DC. Initially slated to be an 8k like last year, road construction turned this year’s race into a 5k. One of the nicest things about Pacers races is you can generally pick your packet up earlier in the week at their various stores. I was able to grab mine at the Old Town store on my lunch break Thursday afternoon saving me time and hassle on race morning.

I was looking forward to this race and had planned to run aggressively thinking I could finish around the 23 minute mark. That would not be the case as I came down with some cold/flu symptoms late in the week making it more of a survive and finish race. I spent most of Friday night and Saturday on the couch, but still wasn’t feeling great Sunday morning when we headed into DC for the race.

On the plus side, Ian and I easily found a street parking spot just a few blocks from the start/finish line. The highlight of the morning was meeting up with a few fellow Oiselle birds also running inside the CVS near the start. I unfortunately had to pass on post-race brunch with them after as I had no desire to share my germs with everyone!

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It was so freaking cold that morning. People who ran last year kept saying what a nice day it was because the sun was out and apparently last year was pretty miserable cold and snowy out, but that wasn’t making me feel any warmer. I finally ventured out of the warm CVS for a warm-up run, but couldn’t seem to get warm. I ran into Ian on my way back to the start line as he was finding a spot along the course and actually grabbed my hoodie back from him that I had planned to only wear pre and post-race.

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You could self-seed yourself at the start based on signs with different paces. I set up between the 7:30-8 minute pace areas trying to stay warm and stop coughing. Sorry everyone around me! From the start it was a strugglefest and not in the good I was pushing myself to new limits kind of way. My stomach felt off, my legs felt weak and I was gasping for breath like I was running a much faster pace.

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My time wasn’t what I had hoped before getting sick, but it wasn’t all that bad. I finished in 24:58, but just felt so awful doing it that I couldn’t really enjoy the race. The course itself was great. The start finish area was on Pennsylvania Ave just a few blocks from the White House. We took off running down Pennsylvania towards the Capitol Building, which we passed in front of before a quick out and back along Independence and a loop around some side streets. We crossed in front of the Capitol again – although much closer (I love running in this city!) – before heading back up Pennsylvania to the finish.

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I spotted Ian again along my way to the finish and tried to find some energy for a final kick. Boy was I glad to cross that line. I got to cheer on a few more Oiselle teammates before we decided to make a break for the car and some heat!

It wasn’t my day for sure, but still a great race. Pre-race packet pick-up was a breeze, the course was well marked and those views of DC are hard to beat. On top of that, there were a ton of runners in costume and many with jingle bells on their shoes making for a very festive atmosphere! This is a fun, holiday race for those in the DC area – and hopefully next year will return to its 8k distance for an extra couple miles of jingling all the way!

Race Recap: TRR DC Biathlon

I realized in all my recent overdue race recaps in my return to the blogging world that I left out one of the most unique races I did this fall. On October 5, I took part in the 10th Annual Team River Runner DC Biathlon. This did not involve skiing and shooting as I first thought when a friend sent me an email inviting me to join a few of her friends in the race. Instead it involved a 1-mile kayak or stand-up paddle board trip along the Potomac followed by a 3-mile run.

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I cannot tell you the last time I went kayaking. It has been years and I can probably count the number of times I have kayaked in my life on one hand. Still, this sounded like fun, so I figured why the heck not and signed myself up. Team River Runner also has a pretty cool mission: provide healthy paddling adventures for healing severely wounded active duty service personnel and veterans.

Ian was out of town with the car for the weekend so I attempted to take a bus trip from the Pike into Georgetown to the race start under the Key Bridge. I was supposed to switch buses around Clarendon, but of course my next bus never came so I ended up just walking to the race. It was a bit brisk, but otherwise a beautiful sunny morning, so I couldn’t really complain.

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The race was split into several heats, so some competitors were already underway when I arrived. It was a great low key setup. I easily checked in and got my race chip before meeting up with others.The volunteers were exceptional and they had a great set up of snacks, coffee and food from the grill. It was really impressive for a smaller race.

Soon it was time for my heat to start so I grabbed a life vest, had to have a volunteer help me because I apparently didn’t fasten it correctly and headed down to the kayaks. We hopped in kayaks on the dock and waited for a volunteer to push us off into the water. I had a minor moment of “why am I doing this I have no idea how to kayak!” panic set in, but before I knew it I was in the water and there was no turning back!

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Not surprisingly I quickly fell to the back of the pack as the race began, but eventually I did get into a steady rhythm. We were going into the wind on the way out, so I thought things would be easier once I reached the turn-around buoy. I was not factoring in how helpful having the current push me along was however making the half mile back seem much more difficult. I finally made it though and happily accepted a hand pulling me up to the dock.

I handed off my life vest to a volunteer and grabbed a cup of water from another as I headed toward the run course. It was an out and back along the Capital Crescent Trail, which is one of my favorite DC spots to run. It’s paved and nicely shaded as it runs parallel to the C&O Canal Trail.

I felt pretty good on my run and was not too far off my pace from the week before at the Clarendon Day 5k, which was mostly downhill, so I’ll take it! I averaged about an 8-minute pace with my last mile being my fastest.

I came in 45th place out of 89 in my division finishing in 45:48 – not bad for my first kayak race! Not surprisingly I came in 83rd on the kayak portion finishing in 21:17 before a 32-second transition. I made up a lot of ground on the run finishing 17th in 24:10.

All in all it was a very cool experience. I cannot believe I had not heard about this race before this year and highly recommend it. It was so well organized, stocked with great food and an overall great time.

Tell me about any unique races you have run!

Footprints: Monday Morning Recap

I just wrapped up my fourth week of marathon training and so far I’ve done a great job of staying on track. I’ve completed 22 of my 24 planned workouts and am almost completely recovered from my cold/flu that disrupted most of last week. My paces are still not where they need to be at all for tempo and track workouts, but the endurance is definitely back. I’m hoping when I reassess in four weeks that I’ll be feeling better about the pacing. All in all I would call this a pretty good week. I tallied nearly 45 miles and felt pretty strong doing it.

Here’s the day-by-day breakdown:

Monday: I ran home from work Monday putting in nearly 7 miles. I kept it at an easy pace and felt good. This also marks the 3rd run a stranger told me I looked like I was lit up like a Christmas tree. I’m never really sure how to answer that, so I just smiled and said thanks, I’m trying to get into the holiday spirit, haha.

Tuesday: Rest day.

Wednesday: I had planned to put in my interval workout on my run home today, but my stomach was feeling off all afternoon so I decided to just do another one of my easy runs. I made it the nearly 7 miles home from work, but it did not feel good at all. On top of my stomach pains I didn’t dress nearly warm enough for the cold temps and strong wind so I was absolutely freezing by the time I got home. This was really my only bad run of the week though and I’m glad I battled through it. It does help when that is your only way home!

Thursday: We had our holiday lunch at work on Thursday and then got to leave early. I was so excited about the chance to run in daylight on a weekday that I still did my tempo run despite having three kinds of pasta for lunch! I put in 8 miles total with 6 at tempo pace. Similar to last week, my tempo pace is still not where it needs to be, but I felt like this was a good, soild run and I will keep working on bringing the times down. The run was also followed with a Oiselle holiday treats happy hour and dinner at Shake Shack (Ian’s blog is back with a review of Shake Shack – check it out!!), which makes any day great!

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Friday: I made up for that missed speed workout on Tuesday and put in 7 total miles along the Mt. Vernon Trail. After a 1.25 mile warm-up, I cranked out 6 half mile repeats with quarter mile recovery jogs in between. My paces were a bit all over the place, but made sense when factoring in hilly sections. My fastest ones were right where I need to be, which pleasantly surprised myself a bit. Now I need to work on consistency.

Saturday: I was up early for an easy 8 miler and had a great run with some sunshine along Four Mile Run & W&OD Trails.

Sunday: Today was basically a repeat of Saturday with 8 easy miles. No sunshine today, but it was a few degrees warmer putting the feels like in the 30s instead of the 20s! I headed in the other direction for this run that took me along the W&OD and Custis Trails.

Footprints: Monday Morning Recap

Last week was a tough one and a bit discouraging. I started out the week pretty sick and lost my motivation battling coughing fits while running, so I only ended up getting in four of my six scheduled runs for the week totaling 35 miles. I initially had plans to try to cram those missed runs into this week, but I know better than that and understand it won’t really help – and could even lead to injury. I just need to stick to my plan going forward and stay as healthy as possible.

Here’s the day-by-day breakdown:

Monday: Rest day – not feeling well.

Tuesday: Rest day – not feeling well.

Wednesday: I went to the gym Wednesday night thinking I could hop right back into things and do my speed workout on the treadmill. My warm-up went OK, but I didn’t even make it through one interval before realizing it was not in the cards for the day and put in one of my easy six milers instead.

Thursday: Today was the high point of the week. I had a 6-mile tempo run on tap and got that in en-route to DC for a Christmas lights run with some of my Oiselle teammates. I ran a one mile warm-up along the Mt. Vernon Trail, six miles hard continuing along Mt. Vernon over the 14th Street Bridge onto the Mall, followed by a 1-mile cool down to our meet-up point near the Chinatown metro. Tempo runs in the Hanson’s plan are marathon pace miles. I was admittedly a bit off my goal for these (nearly 20 seconds), but all six were consistent and I felt strong – given the week I had so far I counted this as a win. The best part was what followed – the roughly 4-mile jaunt around DC with the Oiselle girls checking out lights and trees at City Center, the Willard Hotel, the National Christmas tree, the Capitol Building and the Canadian Embassy – so much fun!

Christmas Tree Stop at the Willard

Christmas Tree Stop at the Willard

Friday: I put in 7 easy miles along the Mt. Vernon trail after work before grabbing dinner at Jimmy John’s and making a Wegmans run…not a bad Friday night!

Saturday: After having a lot of trouble sleeping Friday night I got a later than planned start on my Saturday long run and felt like my legs never woke up for this one. I put in my 10 miles though, so I’ll take it and move on to next week!

Sunday: Unplanned rest day. My sore legs and lack of motivation got the best of me today.