Race Recap – DC Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

On Saturday I ran the DC Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. I finished in a time of 1:51:58 and while not a PR, I was really pleased with my performance for the race.

I should start this recap by saying that I’m not a big fan of the RNR races in general. I think they are too expensive, poorly organized and promise things they don’t deliver based on past experience, so some of my critiques might be based on already having a negative view of them. I got a great discount for this one though, so I decided to give them another shot.

I stopped by the expo on Friday at the DC Convention Center during my lunch break and was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I was able to grab my bib, shirt and make my way through the expo. I made a quick stop at the honey stinger booth to grab a few waffles and bites!

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On Saturday morning I was up at 5am. I had a couple pieces of toast and a yogurt for breakfast and did some of my core routine. It was supposed to be high 40s and rainy. I could already hear the rain on the windows so I knew we weren’t likely to get any reprieve from that and we sure didn’t. I wore my Oiselle flyte long sleeve over my gwen tank with stride shorts and CEP tall compression socks along with my speedy Newton shoes.

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I drove to Rosslyn and took the metro in from there. I figured getting to the Federal Triangle stop an hour before the race start would give me plenty of time. I would be wrong. I really regret not getting off at the Smithsonian stop instead. It took probably 25+ minutes just to get out of the metro station.

The rain was coming down pretty good and in typical RNR fashion everything at the start seemed disorganized and a pain to get to. I ran my way past the race corrals and down the block to the street where the UPS trucks were waiting for bag drop. Signage for each truck was at ground level so it was blocked by the people waiting in line and I had no idea which truck my bag needed to go in. I finally found the right one and then sprinted back to the bathroom lines, but they were ridiculous. I knew there was no way I was getting through the line before the race started and was immediately regretting all the water I had the night before and with breakfast.

I took off running again down 12th street to find the other set of bathrooms. I made it to them 10 minutes before the race started but after 5 minutes in line I was still nowhere close so I made the decision to just wait until the first chance to stop along the course. The last RNR race I missed the start for because I was waiting in the bathroom line (they started the race early without making any announcement due to inclement weather on the way) I ended up getting diverted to the finish at mile 20 and having to give up on a BQ attempt.

I took off running again – probably put in close to 1.5 miles before the race even started – and found my way to my corral just as the National Anthem was finishing up. On the plus side, I was really well warmed up. On the downside, my shoes were already soaked through and the rain would not stop for the next 13.1 miles.

We took off on Constitution Ave and did an out and back over Memorial Bridge before turning up Rock Creek Parkway. My goal for the race was to run hard, but not stress over time, so I didn’t look at my watch the entire race (except to note how much time I lost making a pit stop for the bathroom just before mile 2 – about 80 seconds, err!). I actually managed to successfully do this and was pretty proud I never cheated and took a peak at the time.

I felt strong at the start and kept telling myself not to go out too hard. I didn’t feel like I was overdoing it and the miles just seemed to tick by, which is always a great feeling.

Mile 1 – 7:41
Mile 2 – 8:41 (including a pit stop!)
Mile 3 – 7:46
Mile 4 – 7:53

I continued along Rock Creek Parkway making my way towards the huge hill up to Calvert Street that spanned the end of mile 5 and beginning of mile 6. This hill is brutal and I wasn’t looking forward to it. There was not a ton of crowd support for this race, which I’m sure was down some cause of the rain and cold and it didn’t feel like there were as many bands as promised, but RNR certainly did this hill right. The Blue: Run to Remember crew was out strong with signs that had pictures of fallen military members and others holding American flags. It was really inspiring and definitely took your mind off the hill.

Mile 5 – 8:07
Mile 6 – 8:13

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I kept going through Adams Morgan with a few ups and downs, made my way past Howard University towards North Capitol Street and H Street. I don’t know this area of DC as well and don’t run here very often, so it was a nice change of scenery. My times definitely show that the hill hurt me for a little bit. I had brought a Gu with me, but didn’t feel like I could get it down, so decided to just push through with out it.

Mile 7 – 9:26
Mile 8 – 8:36
Mile 9 – 8:20
Mile 10 – 8:23

Miles 11 through 12 I dealt with some side stitches that slowed me a little, but my legs still felt strong.

Mile 11 – 8:53
Mile 12 – 9:00

Even though I could tell I had slowed down I was really pleased with how quickly the miles had passed. It felt like I got to 12 in no time and I never hit that stage where I was just praying for a mile marker to show up. I picked up the pace a bit again for the final mile and made my way past the DC armory to the finish.

Mile 13 – 8:35
Final .1 – 7:44 pace

I was so pumped to have completed the race feeling strong after having battled through the rain. According to my watch I ran 13.31 for an 8:25 pace – a result of either being really bad at running tangents or veering off course for my bathroom stop – either way, I’ll take it! Officially I ran 1:51:58 for an 8:33 average pace coming in 2,322 out of 15,216 overall, 179 out of 1,924 in my age group and 803 out of 9,462 women!

The finish line set up was beyond awful once you waked out of the finish chute. After collecting my medal, space blanket and snacks I had to walk all the way to the back of the lot to get my gear bag. We were about as far away from the metro as possible, which was pretty frustrating given how much they encouraged people to use the metro. I was almost convulsing I was shivering so hard as I made my way to the metro – I think that walk was seriously harder than any mile during my race.

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I finally feel like I’m making progress in getting back into PR shape and look forward to what the next couple months will be. The best part about this race for me was that despite the terrible conditions I caught myself breaking into a smile for no reason at certain points just because I was having fun out there! I was also so thankful for all the online support from my Oiselle teammates – several of whom were out there as well. A special shout-out to fellow bird Prianka who persevered through that rain for the full 26.2 and on top of that, set a PR! Amazing!

How did your weekend races go?

Next up for me is the B&A Trail half marathon in two weeks. I’m looking forward to what I expect will be a slightly easier course and what I hope will be better weather!

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Footprints: Monday Morning Recap

Sorry I was MIA last week. It’s been a busy few weeks at work and at home, but I’ve had a pretty successful last two weeks of training. I decided to switch to the half marathon for the B&A Trail race at the end of the month since I just wasn’t where I needed to be to attempt a BQ. That has allowed me to switch my focus to speed and strength and I already feel like it’s been making a difference. I’ve also had more fun running the last two weeks than I have in quite some time – which could also have something to do with the improving weather!

Anyway here’s the day-by-day breakdown from last week:

Monday: I put in 3 speedy miles along the Mt. Vernon Trail after work followed by my p90x core routine.

Tuesday: I taught a boot camp class in the morning and also got in my own full body strength work along with my p90x core routing.

Wednesday: Today was my birthday and also a late night at work so I took the day off from running, but did get my p90x core workout in for the third straight day this week.

New Oiselle hoodie - bday present from my husband!

New Oiselle hoodie – bday present from my husband!

Thursday: I taught another early morning boot camp, did my p90x routine first thing along with a full body strength workout and then got in 3 speedy miles after work along the W&OD Trail – such a beautiful night out for a run!

Friday: Rest day.

Saturday: I ran the DC Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon in the pouring rain, but came away pretty happy with my performance! I finished in 1:51:58 and will have a full recap up soon. All told, I put in closer to 15 miles Saturday and still managed to fit in my p90x routine.

Sunday: I started my morning off with p90x and 5 easy recovery miles along the W&OD. I felt a bit stiff at first, but loosened right up and was feeling great by mile three!

Marathon Training Check-In

I’m 12 weeks in to my training plan for the B&A Trail Marathon in Annapolis with six weeks to go. The first seven weeks went really well in terms of mileage and workouts. My lowest mileage week was 35 miles up to my highest mileage week of 54 miles. With plans to run six days a week, I was very pleased that I had only missed a small handful of planned runs over those first seven weeks.

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I came into things after a bit of time off from consistent running though, so my base was not what it should be (read: mostly nonexistent). The lack of base really showed through in my speed workouts. They were all a struggle and off pace. I certainly started feeling better as the weeks went on and noticed some serious improvement, but I couldn’t seem to hit the marks I needed.

The next three weeks the wheels came off. I put in an 18 mile week, followed by a 27 mile one and then just 12. I missed most of my quality workouts and was eating great either as I was spending a lot of time on the road and eating out. It was really frustrating to watch that momentum slip and admittedly there were a few workouts I should have gotten in, but just didn’t because I wasn’t feeling it.

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I’ve done a good job at getting back on track the last two weeks and putting in some quality mileage with back-to-back 30 – 40 mile weeks. Still, if my speed was hurting before, it is definitely hurting now.

I’m completely confident in my ability to finish the B&A race barring something totally unexpected on race day, but I have had to reassess my goal or reaching a BQ on that day. I’m going to continue to work hard putting in the miles over the next six weeks, but don’t think I can get myself to the speed I need without risking injury in that amount of time.

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I hope to come away from this with a great base though and am on the hunt for a back up qualifying race sometime May or later. I love running in the heat, so summer marathons don’t bother me. I’m eyeing Steamtown as my fall marathon, but want to take one shot before then if possible. I’d love to hear your suggestions. My ideal would be something semi-local to DC or at least within a 5 or 6 hour drive tops.

I hope your spring race training is going better than mine has! Tell me about your goal races and how your training is coming along!

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!

2015 Here We Go!

Wow, 2015 is here! I’m kicking things off with a 5k and then heading to Ocean City for a weekend with friends – a great way to start off the year!

One of my Oiselle Secret Santa gifts was the Believe Training Journal (signed by Lauren Fleshman!), so I spent some serious time thinking out and writing down my goals for the year. A great way to keep yourself accountable is sharing your goals, so here goes…

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My 2015 Running Goals:

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  • Qualify for Boston
  • Race the B&A Trail Marathon- it’s a smaller race, so I have a legit shot of coming near the top of the pack for women finishers
  • Break 20 minutes in a 5k (this is my big and scary stretch goal!)
  • Run 2,015 miles in 2015

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What will it take?

  • Consistency – I need to stick to my training plans and get out there and do the work. I also need to stay focused and not let up during my off seasons.
  • Staying healthy – keeping up with stretching, foam rolling and icing will be key. I also need to listen to my body and be smart about when to push the gas and when to take a break.
  • Getting stronger – I need to get in my daily core workouts and hit the weight room, and not just focus on running.
  • Get speedy – lots of speed work and pushing the pace will be required!
  • Schedule and plan – building my runs into my daily schedule and planning ahead will help keep me on track.
  • Pay more attention to nutrition – I can’t expect to produce great results with crappy fuel.
  • Mental toughness – enough said!

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!