Giving Back

I love races. They’re what all the hard work and training are for. Volunteers are such an awesome part of races and I’m always sure to thank them no matter how tired I am. I decided I should probably give back after all the races I’ve done and over the last few years I’ve been trying to do a better job of volunteering at as many races as I run.

Turns out, volunteering at races is a ton of fun too. It’s great to see everyone out there going for PRs or just trying to finish. Other than a few bad apples who get really upset if you can’t give them a different size t-shirt than what they ordered, everyone is so incredibly nice and appreciative.

I’ve spent my last two Fridays volunteering at Pacers Crystal City 5k Fridays. I love these races, but since they didn’t fit into my race schedule this year I figured this was a good way to still be a part of them. My first volunteer shift was at the water stop. This might not seem like a big deal, but it’s actually something I’ve been terrified of doing. I’ve volunteered at a lot of races and I’ve always avoided doing this. Ridiculous, I know.

Still, I was worried I’d mess the hand offs up and leaving a runner without any water. I had no idea what to wear on my feet – flip flops in case I got splashed a lot or sneakers in case my toes got stepped on?? Admittedly I probably put too much thought into this for a 5k race where most of the runners don’t even take water anyways. It turned out to be pretty easy. I just held the cups out there and let the runners take them out of my hands. I didn’t even get splashed. Who knew?! I really enjoyed getting to interact with the racers mid-race and encourage them to keep going.

Last Friday I was back to packet pickup and pretty thankful for that since the skies opened up into a thunder and lightning storm shortly after the start and we had set up shop inside. As I mentioned in my last post it was also really great to be around so many supportive runners while everyone was still reeling from Boston.

I’m so glad I’ve found out how much fun it can be to participate in races in other ways than running over these last couple years…just gives me more of a chance to be part of this great community.

What races have you volunteered for? Have you done a water stop…and am I the only one who had an irrational fear about working at one?!




Best For Last

Last Friday was one of those days I just didn’t feel like running. It’d been a busy week, I hadn’t slept much Thursday night and I was leaving early Saturday morning for a work conference. It was the last week for the Pacers Crystal Run 5k Friday series though, plus I’d signed up to volunteer beforehand, so I really didn’t want to miss out.

20120501-105953.jpgIt had been such a fun series so far. I loved the new addition of the Shoe Lab they brought to this series so runners could test out shoes before buying them. The weather has been amazing especially compared to last year. This week was a little cooler than past weeks and a bit windy, but the sun was shining and at least it wasn’t freezing!

It turned out I saved my best performance for last setting a new 5K PR, so I’m definitely glad I didn’t bail. I finished in 21:25 coming in 125 out of 1,426 overall, 13 out of 724 women and 9 out of 354 in my age group – first time cracking the top 10! I ran into some of my former boot campers who were also running – always good to see them. We enjoyed some beer and wings at Buffalo Wild Wings after the race…perfect post-race food!

After seven straight weeks of racing, I’m going to take it easy for a few while I pick my next race. Right now it looks like it’ll be the Pacers Mini Relay in June, which looks like a blast and ends with a party outside of their Clarendon store. I’m still looking for a third teammate, so let me know if you’re interested in joining!


Crystal Run 5K Friday Take 3

This Friday marked my sixth weekend in a row of racing and my third Friday heading
over to Crystal City after work for the Pacers 5K Friday series. I got there early again to
help out with bib pick-up before the race and was happy for another night of my favorite
race weather. It was warm and sunny, but not too hot.

Sporting my new Newtons that I bought last week (after just a week of running in them,
I’m already in love!) I didn’t need a test pair from the Shoe Lab this week, but did get a
cool free tee when I stopped by to say hi after the race! Race shirts for series entrants
were also available this week. I’m a fan of this year’s design. Pics below.

It was my slowest race of the series, but still almost a full minute faster than I was
running 5Ks last year, so I was feeling pretty good after the race. My 21:51 finish was
good for 136th of 1,381 overall, 20th of 724 females and 14th out 336 in my age group.

Last week I did a good job of keeping a steady pace, but after getting caught weaving in
and out a little bit at the start, I started pushing the pace thinking I had to make up time
and ended up hitting the first mile mark in 6:40. I wasn’t able to maintain that however,
running my second mile in 7:03 and the third in 7-flat. With just one week left, I’m hoping
for another good outing next weekend.

I followed Friday’s race up with a long run Saturday morning with the DC Road Runners
who I ran with for the first time last week. Getting up by 7:30 on a Saturday might be
normal for a lot of people, but is no small task for me, so I was pumped I was able to get
myself up again and out the door in time to run with the group.

As I mentioned in last week’s post, running with a group really helps me pick up the
pace and push myself to run faster. One of the other cool things is learning new routes
I had never ventured on before. The downside I learned this week is that there are a
whole bunch of people around to see when you take a spill along a trail. Yea… that
happened. On the plus side, I wasn’t hurt at all – except for maybe a bruised ego!

Run-Centric Weekend

For anyone who knows me, it comes as no surprise that I spend a lot of my time running, talking about running or doing other running-related activities, but this weekend was a particularly run-centric weekend.

Friday night I headed out of work for week 2 of Pacer’s Crystal City 5k Friday series. I got there early to help out with packet pick-up before the race. My first stop was the shoe lab, however. After having a lot of success last week with a pair of racing flats from Newton, I planned to try out their Gravity performance trainer this week. As soon as  I laced them up I could tell these shoes felt great. They were super light, gripped my foot, but roomy around my toes, and had some great bounce to them.

The race actually started a few minutes late to accommodate the huge turn out of runners on a really beautiful Friday night. My pace was all over the map last week so I wanted to really focus on running a consistent pace and did a great job of it. I hit mile 1 in 6:54, crossed mile 2 at 13:53 and mile 3 at 20:47. My finish time of 21:29 took another 11 seconds off my PR! I finished 133 out of 1,426 overall, 23 out of 773 females and 16 out of 344 in my age group. I also walked away with my own pair of Newton Gravity’s thanks to a 10 percent onsite discount! (It doesn’t take much to talk me into buying new running gear.) I’m really excited to start logging some more miles in them.

Saturday morning I linked up with the DC Road Runners club for their weekly Saturday long run. This group meets right across the street from my apartment and I’ve been saying I was going to get myself up and run with them for years. This was the first time I actually went! I’ve been trying to make much more of an effort to run with groups since it makes training a little more fun and helps me push myself to run faster.

We ran a route that took us over Memorial Bridge, down the Mall, by Union Station and back down the other side of the Mall before running along the river and returning via 14th Street Bridge and the Mount Vernon Trail. Runs like this remind me why I love this city so much. No where else can you go for an early morning run past so many cool monuments, memorials and historical sites. I was also entertained by the set up and prep for the Cherry Blossom parade going on later that morning.

Sunday I volunteered to help with the early packet pick-up for the GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler and 5K. I’ve heard great things about this race and definitely plan to do it sometime. I helped out at the Clarendon store, and let me tell you – it took no small amount of will power to spend 5 hours in a Pacers and not spend any money. I did leave with several things on my wish list for my next visit there though!