Race Recap: Cherry Blossom 10 Miler

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I LOVE this race! It is an awesome course, an extremely well organized race and this year the we even got to take in the cherry blossoms at peak bloom!

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After work Friday I took the metro in to D.C. to the National Building Museum to pick up my packet. I was able to zip in and out without waiting in any lines for my bib or my t-shirt. I went with the regular cotton shirt instead of paying for the upgrade and thought this year’s was a pretty cool design.

Saturday, I kept the race weekend fun going by meeting up with fellow Oiselle teammates for a day before lunch at Vapiano. I seriously love being a member of this team – such an incredible group of women!

I was up at 5:15 Sunday, had a quick breakfast and headed out the door to drive to Rosslyn where I could metro in to the starting line. With 50-degree temps and no wind on tap I wore my Oiselle rogas, singlet and arm warmers.

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I got in to D.C. well before the race started and made my way to the bathroom lines which were a whole lot shorter and easier to access than at Rock ‘n Roll a month ago. Bag drop was a breeze and then I got in a solid warm-up before getting into my corral. I probably got in a bit early and ended up having to stand around for 15 or 20 minutes before we started.

Shortly before the race there was an accident on the course that forced them to change the course at the last minute. Race management did an incredible job of communicating this change and the race still went off on time completely seamlessly. Between miles four and six they ended up cutting out about a half of a mile.

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We set off down Independence Ave and out and back over Memorial Bridge. I promised myself I wouldn’t start out too fast for once and made myself stay behind the 8-minute pacer for the first mile. I felt really good and strong. The miles ticked by as we ran out on Rock Creek Parkway and back toward Hains Point. Miles four through six especially flew by!

By mile seven my legs were definitely starting to feel the fact that although I’ve been doing a great job working on speed, I haven’t been running much more than three or four miles at a time. I felt like I was crashing hard. I tried to pump my arms hoping my legs would follow, but around mile eight the 8-minute pace crew caught up to me. I did my best to keep them in my sights and tried to enjoy the beautiful cherry blossom trees lining the road.

I was really relieved to hit mile nine and leave Hains Point behind and head to the finish line. I always think of the last mile in terms of just having to run four laps around the track, so I loved that they had signs signifying the last 1200, 800 and 400 meters! I also love that the final sprint to the finish line is a slight downhill!

I crossed the line in an unofficial time of 1:16:28 for roughly 9.5 miles averaging just over an 8-minute pace. They are still re-measuring the course to come up with an official distance and will give us projected finish times, but I’m fairly confident I would have made it under 1:20.

I was so pleased with this time. It’s still a little bit off my PR on this course, but so much better than I’ve been doing and I really feel like my speed is coming back. I’m so close to getting back to where I want to be and seeing where I can take it from there!

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The mile-by-mile breakdown:
Mile 1 – 7:50
Mile 2 – 7:44
Mile 3 – 7:50

Mile 4 – 7:55
Mile 5 – 8:03
Mile 6 – 8:04
Mile 7 – 8:11
Mile 8 – 8:37
Mile 9 – 8:28
Mile 10 (.5 miles) – 7:44 pace

After I crossed the line I grabbed a water and made my way back to bag check. They were so well organized that they spotted my bib number as I was walking up and had my bag ready by the time I was at the table. I changed into a dry shirt and a hoodie and headed back to the finish line to see friends cross, but there were just so many people there I finally gave up and headed home.

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Instead of dealing with the metro I took advantage of the beautiful weather and walked back down the Mall, over Memorial Bridge and into Rosslyn where my car was parked. I went straight to my favorite bagel place in Courthouse – Brooklyn Bagel Bakery where I enjoyed an everything bagel with egg and cheese and a hot chocolate! Pretty good way to start off a Sunday!

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Pure Barre DC – Oiselle Style

On Sunday, I tried out my first Pure Barre class in D.C. Thanks to several teammates who go their regularly, the Eastern Market studio hosted a group of DC birds for a free trial class. Photos are courtesy of Courtney over at Eat Pray Run DC.

I have to say I was a bit skeptical, but that’s only because I would rather just run all day everyday than have to cross train. It’s also a bit on the pricey side for me when I know I can do a lot of strength workouts out of my own home or at the gym I already pay a monthly fee for. Whether or not I actually do those strength workouts on my own is another story. 🙂

Our instructor Sydney was fantastic. You could tell she’s very experienced and did a really great job of keeping the class flowing while simultaneously stopping to help us newbies – something that is not easy to do. She also made the class fly by. I looked down at my watch at one point thinking maybe we were halfway through and we only had 10 minutes left to go.

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Another pro – I loved that it was set to a playlist. I don’t run with music much anymore unless I hit the treadmill, and forgot how fun it is to work out to tunes.

I honestly thought the strength component would be tougher. I’m not saying it was easy (it was not) – just that I thought it would be torturous. Reading things like this guy’s hilarious recap of attending Pure Barre with his fiancee made me expect the worst! Maybe I am just getting better at those strength workouts on my own …and those near daily P90X core sessions and push ups are having more of an impact than I realized!

I wish I had grabbed at least the 3 pound weights. You have a choice between 2, 3 or 5 for arm workouts and being overly cautious I grabbed the 2-pounders and did not get as much as I could have out of the arm sections.

The leg stuff was great and a few of those squats on your tiptoes while squeezing a ball between your thighs (there is probably an actual name for these) had my legs shaking pretty good. Still, I thought it was all very doable and having run a half marathon that morning had expected this to hurt a lot more. I was pretty proud I didn’t collapse mid-class! Adding pistol squats and single leg lunges back into my routine about a month ago definitely helped me out on these ones. We also did some hip opening and strengthening exercises I struggled a bit on that has to be helpful for runners doing this on a regular basis knowing how common hip tightness can be for us.

The stretching – now this was a whole other story and every bit as tough as I expected and then some for this not-at-all flexible runner. I nearly burst out laughing at a couple of the things we were expected to do – then realized as others in the group started to do them with no problem that this was no joke! Nose-to-knees? Ha, I can’t even touch my toes, so that is just not happening. From one position we were told to reach back and grab our foot if we could. I’m pretty sure my foot was in another zip code. My favorite was when the instructor raised her arms over her head and pulled back as far as she could then asked us to do the same – the only way my arms could find that position would be to start them behind my back and pull them up!!

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While Pure Barre may not be entirely my style of workout it was definitely a cool experience. The stretching clearly made an immediate impact as I was way less sore on Monday than I was just two weeks ago after the RNR DC half. So much of it is also great for runners, so I can see why so many like it. I don’t think I’d make it a regular thing, but could certainly see myself dropping in for a class here and there. If you’ve never tried it, I’d certainly recommend giving it a go!

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!

Footprints: Monday Morning Recap

This week was another decent step in the right direction to getting on back on track with my training. I finished out with 30+ miles and even got a handful of social runs in! For someone who normally does almost all of their training on their own, this is a big deal! Here is the day-by-day breakdown:

Monday: With my Mom still in town, I was actually motivated to get up and get to the gym early. My gym happened to have free guest days on Monday & Tuesday too, so she was able to come with me. I put in five easy breezy miles on the treadmill to kick off the week.

Tuesday: We were back at the gym early and I attempted some speed work on the treadmill. As well as last week’s mile repeats went, this week’s did not. I got in just three and felt like I was going to die at what should have been an easy pace. I followed it up with a full body strength workout though, so that felt good. It also felt great to be done first thing in the morning. I wish I could do that more often.

Wednesday: Rest Day

Thursday: I met a friend and one of her friends in D.C. for an after work windy, chilly run! I decided to park in Rosslyn and run over Memorial Bridge in to meet them by the Washington Monument. The winds were unreal! It was fun to laugh and chat as we tried to battle them. I somehow made it back over the bridge to my car after the run putting in a total of 8.3 miles.

dcrunFriday: Unplanned rest day. It was so cold again and after a long day at work I threw in the towel on today’s outdoor run and just headed home for a lazy night.

Saturday: My friend Lindsay was in town and she joined me at my first group run with the Potomac River Run training group. I signed up with them for their Cherry Blossom training program and it seems like a great group! We put in an easy 6 miles. It was chilly, but also sunny and not that windy so it felt great and again was nice to have my run out of the way early! We met up later too for brunch at Match Box in Eastern Market – always a great spot!

Sunday: I planned to get close to 12 miles in with 9 at tempt on the treadmill today, but it just wasn’t in the cards. I ended up running 8 miles pretty hard and calling it a day.

 

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

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.

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?