Footprints: Monday Morning Recap

OK, I know it’s no longer morning, but I’m finally getting around to last week’s recap. It was an up and down week with some great workouts, a tough 5k and an awesome trail relay run!

Monday: My legs were feeling real heavy after Saturday’s speed session and Sunday’s race, but I pushed through three easy miles along the W&OD after work.

Tuesday: P90X in the morning followed by teaching early morning boot camp.

Wednesday: Thanks to a work-from-home day I got my run in during my favorite time of day to run turning lunch into runch! I put in 6X400s along the trail with a 400 recovery between each. I was so pumped when I got home and saw I’d done each one progressively faster working my way down from a 6:57 pace to a 6:16 one. Here are the splits: 1:44, 1:40, 1:39, 1:37, 1:36, 1:33

Thursday: P90X in the morning followed by teaching early morning boot camp and a quick strength workout of my own.

Friday: Another day of getting in my P90X routine before teaching boot camp in the morning followed by the Crystal City 5k Friday race at night. Recap coming soon!

Saturday: I ran the North Face Endurance Challenge marathon relay with fellow Oiselle teammates and had so much fun out on the trails! Recap on this one coming soon too.

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Sunday: I had good intentions of getting a run in, but turned into a lazy, recovery day that I really needed and felt great!

Something New

Now that my so-called “spring” half marathons are done, it’s time to look ahead and set some new goals. I saw progress in my training at both the DC RNR half and the B&A half in Annapolis, but now it’s time to really work on my speed. To do that, I am going to do something new – and something I have never done before: train for a 5k!

What?! How can I claim I have never trained for a 5k with the number of years I’ve been running and the dozens of 5ks I’ve completed? Well, yes I have run a ton, but I have never trained specifically for one. I either just went out and did it because I knew I was capable of running 3.1 miles, or in the case of my speedier ones, I just ran them in the midst of training for another longer distance race.

Hal Higdon’s plans have proven successful for me in the past, so I’m going with him again for this one. I have chosen an 8 week advanced 5k plan culminating in the Alexandria Running Festival 5k on May 24.

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So, what are my goals for this?
My pie-in-the-sky dream goal is to break 20-minutes in a 5k. My current PR stands at 21:25, so that would be a dramatic jump, but a small part of me believes this is possible and plans to throw reality out the window for the next eight weeks and go for it. My B goal is to set a new PR. Since that PR has stood for quite some time now, I would still be pretty thrilled with this outcome. My C goal if training doesn’t go quite as planned is to get back to a sub-22 5k time and have an excellent base to spring me back into BQ marathon training!

Will I have any other races along the way?
Yes, in fact I have a handful planned over the next two months to give me a chance to see where I’m at and have some fun picking up the pace. You’ll see me at:

Let me know if I’ll see you at any of these races and tell me about your upcoming goals and races!

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: Clarendon Day 5k

Time for another overdue race recap! In September I ran the Clarendon Day 5k. You may remember last year I did the double at this race running both the 5k and the ensuing 10k. I have to say, I was pretty relieved this year when I was walking back up the hill after the 5k that I only had to cheer on the 10k runners and not join them this time!

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I love this course right in the middle of my old neighborhood. I’ve spent many early mornings running up the Wilson Boulevard hill, so I was really looking forward to getting to run down it for this race.

There were a lot of other Oiselle runners coming out for the race and for brunch after so it was great to see that crew as well and meet some of the newer flock members! I ran into a few before the race started and then hopped into the starting area.

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(I stole this photo from Courtney – check out her blog at eatprayrundc.com!)

The first mile is fast and all downhill from Clarendon to Rosslyn. The second mile continues the downhill out onto route 110 straightaway towards the Pentagon before reaching the turnaround point. The final mile goes from flat to a slight uphill to the finish. After barreling downhill for the first two miles this hill seems way tougher than it should be!

I crossed the line in 24:08 for a 7:46 pace. A bit slower than last year, but a bit faster than my run at the Dulles Day 5k the week before!

I met up with some of my Oiselle teammates after the race as we walked back up the hill to cheer those doing both on at the start of the 10k. I changed out of my sweaty clothes and enjoyed a hot chocolate before we headed to brunch at Lyon Hall. Such a fun morning!

 

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.

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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.

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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!

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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?

 

Race Recap: Swamp Rat Run 5k

Time for a long overdue race recap. This June I headed home to Syracuse for my bridal shower weekend. The weekend happened to coincide with the first road race I ever ran, so I couldn’t resist signing up.

Ian & Me being goofy on the way to the race!

Ian & Me being goofy on the way to the race!

It was as fun as I remember it being the first time around. It reminded me of a cross-country race. We lined up across the parking lot behind a giant chalk line for the start, which turned into a free for all to a narrower paved path leading to the road that most of the race took place on. I went out hard on the first mile and tried to take advantage of a slight downhill on the way out.

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The roads were still open to cars, albeit very slow ones, so we had to stay on our toes. I slowed a bit for mile two but still felt pretty strong. The slight uphill on the way back wasn’t too painful and I was able to pick off a few runners. A short downhill gave me a nice boost before the final surge to the finish.

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I crossed the line in 23:53. A pretty solid effort and one of my better races in awhile. It wasn’t a PR, but it was a whole lot better than the time my 17-year-old self ran back in the day prompting my #FasterAt30 hashtag for the day!

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The tee shirts weren’t great, but nothing you can complain about for a race that inexpensive. It was well organized and I was a big fan of the little chocolate milk at the finish!

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Back to Where it All Began…

The first 5k race I ever ran (at least that I can remember) was the Swamp Rat Run in Cicero, New York. I was 17. My older brother Dan found out about it and asked if I wanted to run it with him. To say we were newbies is, well, a bit of an understatement.

I remember stopping at a gas station on our way out that morning so Dan could get a red bull to pound before the race for extra energy. If only I knew then what I know now I could have advised him this was a bad idea!

I lined up at the start line wearing a basketball practice pinny, shorts that came down to my knees and were likely not made of any kind of wicking fabric and…basketball sneakers (they were low tops if that makes it any better). I wish there were pictures. I can guarantee you that none of my ensemble was nearly as fashionable or functional as any of my Oiselle duds I race in now!

Dan, who was always a pretty good sprinter, bolted off with the front-runners leaving me in his dust at the start. That red bull would come back to bite him though as I actually ended up passing him along the way to my 25-minute finish! I remember it was really hot out and I can vaguely picture the start/finish area, but the only clear memory I have of that race was how cool it felt to cross that finish line. The results were even published in the local paper the next day. I was hooked.

This year that same race coincides with my bridal shower weekend, so I’ll be home in Syracuse for it. I know it’ll be a busy weekend, but I couldn’t resist and had to sign up. Thirteen years later at 30 years old, I’ll be back on the same start line where my love affair with racing began. The race experience will probably be a bit different, but I am pretty sure about one thing – that I will get that same feeling of pure excitement and joy as I cross the finish line that I’ve gotten to enjoy time after time in the last 13 years of racing everything from 5ks to marathons!

From SwampRatRun.com Website

From SwampRatRuns.com Website

Do you remember your first race? Have you ever gone back and run it again?

Race Recap: Cherry Blossom 5k

OK, final overdue race recap is here! I’ve frequently talked about my love for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler on the blog, and this year was no different except that I opted for the 5k instead of the 10 miler.

It took me until Saturday night to make the final decision to switch to the 5k. Could I run 10 miles? Of course. Would it be a lot slower than my previous two years of finish times? Absolutely. Now I know that’s a dumb reason not to do a race, but I knew it would bug me and I just wouldn’t enjoy the race as much. It turned out to be a great decision. I loved the 5k course and I even showed a little speed compared to my runs of late this year giving me a good push to getting back into things and picking up the pace in my training runs going forward. It also didn’t hurt that the start time was about an hour and a half later than the 10 miler – yay for sleep!

Things kicked off on Saturday with a Oiselle meet up at Vapiano in D.C. It’s always so fun to get together with these girls!

Oiselle Team & Friends

Oiselle Team & Friends

On Sunday morning, Ian and I were up early and off to the metro. We ended up running into my Oiselle teammate Prianka at the Smithsonian stop, which was pretty amusing since I also ran into her randomly on the metro before the Marine Corps Marathon last fall. Almost as if we planned it, we walked by the start/finish area for the 10 Miler just as the lead women ran by. Boy can they fly, and yet make it look so easy.

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We made our way to the 5k start area. I headed off for a quick warm-up and Prianka went to meet a friend she was going to pace for the race. I again sported my Oiselle shimmel tank and fresh green shorts for the race. Somehow I greatly underestimated how chilly it was going to be out. Luckily I had arm warmers and calf sleeves on as well to give me a little extra warmth.

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Waiting at the start line was brutal. I was absolutely freezing. As you can tell by the picture below I appear to be the only one who didn’t get the memo about the temperature. Fortunately I warmed up really quickly and felt fine by about half mile in.

Missed the memo on how chilly it would be!

Missed the memo on how chilly it would be!

I loved this 5k course. I busted out my Newton flats for the first time in a longtime and they felt so light on my feet. Love that feeling! We started off heading down Independence Ave. on a slight decline before a quick right and left turn taking us over Memorial Bridge.

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I really felt good and started to get into a groove. After crossing over the bridge, through the traffic circle and a bit closer to the entrance to Arlington Cemetery we made the turnaround to retrace our steps back to the finish. Even with the slight incline back to the finish line where we started I still ran each mile increasingly faster.

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My 25:20 finish time was no where near my PR, but I was really happy with it and am excited to start getting my speed back over the next few months here as I get running more and start integrating speed workouts back into my training. It was also good enough to put me in 74th place overall out of 2,067, 25th out of 1,519 women and 6th out of 364 in my age group.

This little guy was cheering on runners from the sideline. I think Ian really needs to follow through on his idea of starting a Tumblr site featuring race dogs!

IMG_3914I was able to really quickly navigate through the finish area and make it back to where Ian was watching from in time to see Prianka run to the finish as well!

IMG_3931Then we decided to take a shot at heading up to the 10 Miler finish to see if my brother’s fiancee and her sister had finished yet. With so many people in that race we didn’t think we’d have a great shot, especially since we didn’t even know what corral they had started in. As we walked near the finish line I somehow spotted my brother waiting on the sidelines, and we were able to grab a spot and catch Adrienne and Courtney on their way to the finish line!

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We wrapped up a great morning with breakfast at Bob & Edith’s Diner on Columbia Pike in Arlington. If you live around here and haven’t been there yet, you should go! Yet another successful Cherry Blossom in the books!

 

Meeting a Running Idol

On Sunday I volunteered to help out at the U.S. National Road Racing Championships right here in Alexandria. The day started with a 5k followed by the 12k women’s championships and the 12k men’s championships and community race.

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I checked in at the volunteer tent at 5:30 in the dark and jumped at the chance when they asked a few of the volunteers to staff the elite/masters area. Shalene Flanagan, Abdi Abdirahman, Molly Huddle and more amazing runners were going to be there! Ahh! I also spotted Oiselle Haute Volee runner Caitlin Comfort!

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Naturally I was too nervous to go up and say anything to any of them – not to mention I didn’t want to mess with anyone’s pre-race prep, so instead I wandered around in awe and tried to do my assignment of keeping people who weren’t supposed to be in the VIP area out. I probably didn’t do a very good job of this, but I was a bit better at running checked bags to masters finishers after they crossed the line and worked their way through the finisher’s chute.

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It was such a cool day. I got a front row seat at the finish line to see Molly Huddle beat out Shalene Flanagan and set a world record in the process finishing in 37:50. Aaron Braun nearly broke an American record in the men’s race as he coasted to the finish in 34:28 waving to the crowd.

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To top it all off, Deena Kastor was at the race. It was her record that Molly broke. She holds the American records for the fastest marathon and half marathon among others and is one of my running idols! I was so excited to get to meet her and talk for a minute, and she graciously took the time to take a picture with me too totally making my day!

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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.

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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?