Race Recap: Dulles Day 5k On The Runway

Last year I heard about a new race coming to DC – the Dulles Day 10k and 5k. It took place right on the runway – so cool! I was out of town for the race weekend though, so I wouldn’t get to do it. This past September, however, I would not miss out!

My biggest regret is that I was not in better shape for this race. It is the ultimate flat PR course. It still turned out to be a cool experience though.

Ian was out of town for the weekend, so I rented a car to make the early trip out to Dulles Airport on Saturday morning. The earliest public transportation could get me there was well after the race would have finished so that wasn’t an option. In a tiny Chevy Spark that was mine for the weekend, I made my way out to Dulles bright and early. Well, actually it was still dark.


I needed to pick my packet up day-of so I got there an hour early thinking that would be plenty of time. It wasn’t. Parking for the race was at the Steven Udvar-Hazy Center – the companion museum to DC’s National Air & Space Museum. We got to cut through the museum to make our way to packet pick-up and the race start. I can’t believe I have never been out here before and now totally understand why everyone says it is so much better than the museum on the Mall.

The packet pick-up line wound around in circles making it a bit disorganized and hard to find the end. Once I got my place in line it slowly chugged a long as I watched the time click down towards the start. I finally got my bib and then turned to see a line for the bag drop. I finally made my way to the front of that as they announced 3 minutes until the 5k start.

I bolted off towards the start line and had to work my way up from the back of the field. I got about midway through when the race began. We made our way out onto the runway – talk about a flat course. There was one plane out along the way for us to run by before we shot down a straightaway. We made a slight turn and came back down the other side passing the start line and finishing back behind the Udvar-Hazy Center.


The weather was perfect – a touch of chill in the air. I wore my Oiselle arm warmers for most of the race before pushing them down for the last mile along with shorts. Still, I felt slow and flat-footed. I wasn’t in shape and it showed in my time as I crossed the line in 26:12. That’s slower than my PR marathon pace!



I did pick it up for the final mile, but wish that I’d had more to give. I did love the race though and will definitely go back next year if I’m in town. For you speedsters, the winners of the 10k get a pair of round-trip tickets from United and the top male and female 5k runners each get one round-trip ticket with United. Not a bad prize at all!!

What unique races have you done?


What’s Next? Races on the Horizon

OK, I’m officially ending my pity party over not reaching my goal in my last race and setting some new ones. What better way could there be to get over it? While part of me would love to go right after that BQ again, I know mentally and physically I’m not ready for that.

Instead I’m going to focus on shorter, speedier races and a half marathon next March, which will be part of an Oiselle team meet up race weekend and all kinds of awesome.


With the holidays approaching, a wedding/honeymoon next year, plus plenty of fun travel weekends for other weddings coming up, I’m trying to be a bit budget conscious about the money I spend on races. Fortunately, the DC Road Runners Club ($20 a year for membership) offers tons of free/very inexpensive races for members and Pacers gives out free entries for volunteer credits giving me a long list of local, budget-friendly options.

Here’s what I’ve got my eye on so far. Some may not happen, or will switch to races I volunteer at if I don’t recover as quickly as I hope to from the marathon, and others might get added. Let me know if there’s a race you think should be on my list!

  • Bread Run 10k – December 8 – This is race one of the DC Road Runners Snowball SeriesPrice: 1 loaf of home-baked bread. Seeing as I bake bread all the time, that’s an easy one for me. (They do note that it’s free for non-baking DCRR members.)
  • Fairfax Four Miler – December 31 – Assuming I’m in town, I hope to race this again this year. It was a really fun way to kick off my New Year’s Eve celebrations last year. Price: $40 or 3 volunteer credits
  • Al Lewis 10 Miler – January 4 – Another DCRR Snowball Series race. This one is more likely if I don’t run the Fairfax Four. Price: $5 for DCRR members
  • JFK 20k/MLK 5k – January 18 – I’m leaning toward the 5k of this DCRR Snowball Series race. Price: Free for DCRR members.
  • Love the Run You’re With 5k – February 9 – A Pacers race I had a blast at last year and would love to run again. Price: $40 or 3 volunteer credits
  • Burke Lake 12k – March 2 – This DCRR Snowball Series race could be a fun tune-up run before the Shamrock Half.
  • Shamrock Half Marathon – March 16 – This fast and flat half sounds like a blast and will be part of an Oiselle team meet-up meaning lots of running friends to race with and also cheer on in the full that weekend! Price: $100 by Dec. 31 plus travel to VA Beach.

What are your winter/early spring race plans? Anyone doing Turkey Trots or other holiday-themed races?

A Double Dip: Clarendon Day Race Recap

On Saturday, I ran the Pacers Clarendon Day 5k and 10k. I was one of 240 crazy runners who took on the Double challenge and ran both races. Two races back-to-back – a racing first for me – and it was a blast!

I was coming off a tough week of training, but was feeling good after a rest day on Friday and knowing that the majority of the courses would be down the Wilson Blvd. hill I’ve run up so many times at the end of training runs to get home. Each race started in Clarendon by Whitlows and finished by the Rosslyn metro with an out and back out on 110 to Memorial Bridge for the 5k and near the Pentagon for the 10k. The challenge comes in having to hike back up the hill in between races to make it in time for the second race.

The start line was only a 15-minute walk from my place, so I didn’t have to get up quite as early as usual on race day – always a good thing! I made Ian start his photographer duties early since I was really excited to be sporting my Oiselle singlet for the first time.


After walking to the start I went through my dynamic warm-up and made my way to the starting line. I met fellow Oiselle teammate Courtney near the start and it was awesome seeing her along the course and cheering each other on. The weather was perfect – sunny and 50s at the start.

I had it in my mind that I could definitely PR and maybe go sub-21 with the downhill start. Things started off well. I new the first mile would be fast heading down that hill, but I kept it controlled and ran it in 6:30. I hit my goal pace of 6:46 during the second mile and was feeling like I really had a shot at sub-21. The flatter final mile and slightly uphill .1 to the finish got the best of me though, making for a much slower third mile. I crossed the line in 21:59 though making it my first sub-22 5k in a year and a half.


Right about this point I was starting to regret signing up for the double as I began my trek back up the hill to the start on dead legs. Ian and I had missed each other along the course, but I found him on my way back up brightening my mood. I had about 10 minutes to spare once I reached the top of the hill so I tried to stay in the sun and keep warm now that I was sweaty and chilled. I probably should have ditched the arm warmers before the 10k, but they were keeping me warm while I waited and while I got warm during the second race, I didn’t feel like I was overheating.

Before I knew it, the second race was underway. My plan was to just run the 10k after racing the 5k, but to keep my PR of 48:40 in the back of my mind – meaning maintaining roughly a 7:50 pace. I knew I would have to hold back in the first mile and not get caught up in the excitement of the start, especially after just going out at 5k pace an hour earlier.  I hit mile one right on track at 7:51 and continued down the hill. I passed the finish line street to my left and headed towards the out and back on 110 and the mile 2 marker as the road started to flatten out. I hit mile 2 quicker than expected in 7:27.

I started to think I could steal a PR on the 10k, but still slowed myself down a little to avoid burning out early. Mile three was right on pace again at 7:52. I was feeling really good on mile four and passing a lot of people. I kept hoping the turn-around would be soon though and wishing I’d run the longer race first. Logistically I know that would be a nightmare, but it would’ve been easier on my mind for sure. Still mile four came in right where I wanted at 7:53.

Mile five was a bit tougher and I could feel my legs begging for a break. I wasn’t passing people anymore and I hit the mile marker in 7:59. Thanks to the quick second mile though, I still thought I had a chance at that PR. I picked it up for the final mile and smiled as I ran past the finish area for the Marine Corps Marathon knowing the next time I’ll be running there I’ll be just a short burst from the finish! I started passing people again and hit mile six in 7:52.


Ian spotted me along the final .2 uphill to the finish this time and got a bunch of great shots. I heard him cheer for me and made my final burst to the finish. I actually hadn’t looked at the watch at mile six so I was just hoping I could eek out a PR. I didn’t quite make it finishing in 49 flat, but I’ll take it considering I was only 20 seconds off and the last one didn’t come right after a 5k!

My combined time for the two races was 1:10:59 – good for 62nd overall and 4th in my age group!


I enjoyed a post-race meet up with Courtney and another Oiselle Volee teammate, Stephanie, who volunteered at the finish line Saturday before crushing it in her 20-mile race on Sunday!


Photo courtesy of Stephanie!

All in all it was another great Pacers race!

The only negative that I feel I have to mention I didn’t find out about until after the race. Ian saw someone drop two backpacks on the ground a block from the finish line and walk away. He tried to alert security, but everyone just seemed to blow it off and no one looked into it. Maybe everyone involved with the race including security knew what it was or who left them, but it would have been nice if they explained that to him. Obviously nothing happened and all was good, so it wasn’t an issue, but it seems like there could have been a better response.

Notice backpacks to the right

Notice backpacks to the right – they didn’t belong to the man with the stroller. The guy who dropped them picked them up about 20 minutes later.



Footprints: Monday Recap

Last week was an up and down one. I was still recovering from a cold most of the week and struggled though some tough workouts before a run double race day on Sunday. Here’s the day-by-day breakdown:

Monday: Today was an attempt to make up Saturday’s 20-10-15 workout. I was supposed to do 20 minutes at a 7:10 pace, 10 at a recovery pace and 15 back at the tempo pace. I hit the treadmill Monday night and could quickly tell my lungs and chest were not fully recovered from my cold. I did bursts at a 7:24 pace and 1.0 incline with walk breaks in between for a total of 20 minutes before jogging it out at a 9:05 pace for 10 followed by a repeat of the run bursts and walk breaks for 10 minutes. Not ideal, but I was glad I made an effort to get it in.

Tuesday: I had Ian drop me off at work, so I could give my long run I missed out on on Sunday a go right after work to take advantage of as much daylight as possible. This was the tale of two runs. I started off strong and cruised for ten miles at an easy just under 9-minute pace. As I attempted to pick up the pace for the next 10 miles I started to struggle. My pace dropped by almost a minute per mile in some cases and I had horrible cramps in my feet. I pushed through as long as I could and finally called it quits at 16.5 after run/hobbling my way through Georgetown and over the Key Bridge back into Arlington.

Wednesday: Rest Day with light core workout.

Thursday: 5 miles easy on the treadmill plus a core workout.

Friday: Rest Day

Saturday:  I raced the Clarendon Day Double running a 5k immediately followed by a 10k. I had a blast at this race and ran pretty decent times too finishing 4th in my age group for combined times of those that ran both races. Full recap coming soon!


Sunday: Recovery Day. I planned to run easy, but my calf muscles were absolutely killing me today. I got in a walk, but even that was painful. I’m hoping lots of stretching and rolling makes this pass quickly.


Fall Races!

While I hate that summer is almost over meaning less daylight hours and winter just around the corner, fall is my hands-down favorite weather season of the year. It also means it’s fall racing season! I haven’t raced throughout the entire month of August and am getting a little stir-crazy, so I’m excited that my fall line-up of races is almost here.

This is where I’ll be racing this fall…

September 14 – Navy-Air Force Half Marathon
I’m a little terrified that I have a half marathon so soon, but then when I think about it I’ve been running further than that during my long runs for a month and a half now including a couple 17 milers. I’m a little concerned about keeping the pace I want so this will be a great test of my fitness. Most of the course is along the Marine Corps Marathon route as well, so it’ll be great practice!

September 28 – Pacers Clarendon Day Double
I’ll be running both the 5k and the 10k put on by Pacers as part of the Clarendon Day Festival. I’m so excited for this race. I’ve never done two races in one day before and I’m really looking forward to the speedy, mostly downhill courses. The 5k is up first so I’m going to shoot for a PR in that and then just see how the 10k goes after I’ve gotten myself back up the hill for the start of that one!

October 13 – Undecided
Acumen Solutions Race for  A Cause 8k … OR … Boo! Run for Life 10k
My coach suggested I look for an 8k or 10k this week and I’ve found one of each – both pretty close to home and roughly the same price. The 8k is closer but the 10k is flatter and a familiar course for me. Advice is appreciated! If you’ve done either of these races in the past, let me know what you think about them.

October 27 – Marine Corps Marathon
This is the big one – the race I’ve been waiting all year for since I had to defer my entry last year while stuck in physical therapy. It’s my chance to finally get my Boston Qualifier in my 10th marathon. I simultaneously can’t wait for it to get here and am terrified of it getting here too soon. I love this race though. It’ll be my third MCM and I LOVE the course change announcements recently unveiled that make it more similar to my first go at MCM in 2006. They’ve done away with  the Canal Road portion of the race, which I was never a big fan of, and added in Rock Creek Parkway. Let the countdown commence!

Here I was near the finish two year’s ago after Marine Corps…

After - wrapped in my space blanket, happy to be done!

After – wrapped in my space blanket, happy to be done!

Let me know where you’ll be racing this fall!! Any big PR goals?

Volunteering at the Veterans Day 10k

I’ve run a lot of races over the years reaping the benefits of a lot of helpful volunteers whether it’s someone giving out a helpful hint at packet pick up, a cup of water just when you need it or cheers of encouragement when you’re at your lowest point. Throughout the past year or two, I decided it was my turn to give back a little, and have been trying to volunteer at races whenever I can. Usually, I try to help out at pre-race packet pick-ups so I can still run on race day, but while I’m on a temporary running hiatus I figured now was a good time to actually pitch in on race day.

I signed up to help with last Saturday’s onsite packet pick-up at the Veterans Day 10k in West Potomac Park. It was the same course I ran in early October for the Run for the Parks 10k, so runners could expect fast, flat, a little bit boring and if windy, a potentially brutal course. The weather gods smiled on this event though. It was sunny and the temperature hovered around the 50s – not half bad for early November!

I had to leave my apartment a little after 6 to get to the start of packet pick-up on time, so without a car and the metro closed, my only option was to bike over. It was still a bit dark when I took off, so I was very thankful my Dad helped me install blinking lights on the front and back of my bike when he was in town a couple weeks ago. I also sported a Nathan blinking reflective vest just for good measure. I’m pretty sure anyone could see me from a mile away!

Things started off slow with a few early birds there to grab their race bib and t-shirts right at 6:30, but quickly picked up steam as we got closer to 7. The hour before the race started was a blur. The lines were constant and we were all moving as quickly as we could to make sure all the runners were ready to toe the starting line by the 8 a.m. start time.

A handful of us were stationed at computers looking up runners by their name. I love Pacers’ system of assigning the race number at packet pick-up rather than having to search through a pile of numbers to pull the right one. I would simply find the runners name, grab the next bib in my pile and type that number in to assign it to them. Several others behind us at the computers hustled back and forth as we yelled out t-shirt sizes making sure to retrieve the right one for us.

One of the big things I’ve learned as a result of volunteering over the last year is that I will never, ever again complain to a volunteer about a logistical race issue or wanting a different t-shirt size. They have no control over it! For the most part, people were great.There were lots of smiles and excitement as people picked up their bibs and shirts and got ready to run. There’s always an exception though! A few bad apples were very upset with me for not allowing them to switch t-shirt size. I tried to explain they could just check back after the race to see if other sizes were available and that I wasn’t allowed to give out different shirts until we knew we had enough, but they didn’t want to hear it. Thankfully those folks were few and far between, so I was able to just smile, wish them luck and move on to the next person in line.

I decided to hang around and watch some of the finishers come in and boy were they flying! The top three men all crossed the line in less than 30 minutes. The winner, Chris Kwiatkowski, finished in 29:47 and the women’s winner, Carmen Hussar, came in shortly after at 33:45 for paces of 4:48 and 5:26 per mile respectively. Impressive!

It was one of those days I really wish I’d brought my nice camera along. Riding into D.C. looking at the red sky over the monuments as the sun just started to rise on a foggy morning was absolutely beautiful and my iPhone just couldn’t do it justice. Also, as you can see in the finish line pic, my shutter speed on the iPhone couldn’t quite keep up with the lead runner so all I caught was the finish line banner falling to the ground.

It was a great way to start my day and while I really can’t wait to run again, I also look forward to helping out on the volunteer side of things again soon too.

Running in the Rain

The October 7 Run for the Parks 10k got here before I knew it. Where is this year going? Everytime I blink another month goes by. Naturally, I still hadn’t seen a doctor about the tightness and pain that started in my hip flexors this summer, so this was going to be another race that I treated more like a training run than an actual race. I wasn’t thrilled about that and I really wasn’t thrilled that temperatures were supposed to drop 25-30 degrees overnight the morning of the race.

This face pretty much sums up my race day attitude!

Put on by the Potomac River Runners, the Run for the Parks 10k was held in West Potomac Park. This has always been my least favorite stretch of races like Marine Corps and Cherry Blossom, but since it’s right around the corner from my office I force myself to frequently run it on my lunch time and post-work runs. I still share a love-hate relationship with this flat, quiet and windy stretch of road, but it’s actually starting to lean more towards love.

I woke up early on race morning already angry about not getting to sleep in after only catching a couple hours of sleep. Seeing it was 40s and rainy didn’t make me much happier. West Potomac Park doesn’t have any real close public transportation so I took my negative attitude over to the closest bike share rack and rode my way into D.C. for the race. I was at least pleased with myself for not bagging the race and crawling back into bed.

I lined up at the starting line pretty chilly, but warmed up quickly. We headed down Ohio Drive and around the bend at Hains Point before turning around and tracing our steps back toward the finish. I started slightly faster than I planned, slowed in the middle and sped up again for the last two miles. My hips were annoyingly tight once again so I averaged a 7:50 per mile pace, which for a 10k is slow for me. (For anyone that’s annoyed by that, years ago that would have been a quick 10k pace for me – it’s all relative and fast and slow is different for every runner.) My finish time was 48:40 good for 16th in my age group and 56 out 643 female finishers, so I can’t complain too much.

The rain wasn’t bad, but it held steady throughout the race, and the temps weren’t showing any signs of rising. All I wanted to do after crossing the finish line was go home and take a hot shower, but I noticed that Fast Track Physical Therapy was on-hand giving massages and free injury consults. I figured it was finally time and signed up for the waiting list for an injury consult. It didn’t take them long to tell me I was in fact injured and needed to stop denying it. I set up an appointment to visit their office, and will hopefully get to the bottom of this soon so I can get back to a training schedule and working toward Boston again!

On a side note, I’m pretty sure my finish line pic (courtesy of Potomac River Running’s Flickr page) could rival some of Mark Remy’s best “race face” pics.