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.

oisellesinglet

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?

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Footprints Weekly Recap

Well, last week was the big week…the Marine Corps Marathon.

Here’s the day-by-day breakdown of my week leading up to yesterday’s race…

Monday: Physical Therapy. 45-minute pool run with about 35 minutes at tempo effort.

Tuesday: 30-minute pool run with 25 at tempo effort. Core workout.

Aqua Jog Belt

Aqua Jog Belt

Wednesday: Physical Therapy.

Thursday: Rest. I also visited the Expo Thursday night to get my packet.

Friday: Last physical therapy appointment – very light massage and dynamic stretching.

Saturday: One mile shake out run followed by a dynamic stretch routine. I felt awesome and was feeling so positive about Sunday.

Sunday: The wheels fell off a bit and everything (but my calves which I spent the last two weeks working on in PT) felt awful. I missed my time goal by a whole heck of a lot, but was really proud I was able to pull myself together and keep going through the pain to cross the line in 4:12:41. Full recap and pictures coming soon.

runcolleensign

Marine Corps Marathon: The Expo

Things are getting real! I made it over to the D.C. Armory for the Marine Corps Marathon Expo last night. Other than a few wrong turns on the way to the expo that made it a much longer trip than it should have been, things went very smoothly.

The Marines have this one down to a science, so I was in and out of the tent to pick up my bib in just a few minutes. After going through another round of security (first one was to get into the tent to grab my bib) I made my way into the armory and it was time to explore!

I made Ian take some silly pictures of me when we first walked in.

expo2 expo1I cannot wait till I have The Iwo in my sights on Sunday and am getting my picture snapped in front of it with my finisher’s medal. Does anyone know how I could just fast forward to that part of things?!?

After that I picked up my shirt and for the first time of my three MCM’s I will actually wear this one and not just keep it as a souvenir. Don’t get me wrong, the bright red and mustard yellow cotton unisex mock turtle necks in the bin under my bed do hold a special place in my heart…they just don’t get worn very often (read ever). This year they unveiled newer technical long sleeve shirts that look a whole lot better and might actually get me to “rock the mock” as they like to say! Kudos to MCM on making this change!

expo4After grabbing my shirt, there were a handful of free samples you could grab before heading into the Brooks official merchandise area.

expo3The lines were really long so I didn’t end up getting anything, but I may try to find my way back there before it closes. My only complaint about the gear was the sheer amount of pink women’s MCM gear. I like pink as much as the next girl, but it doesn’t seem to fit with this race in my mind, and I also get frustrated when people think all you have to do to sell gear to women is slap some pink on it. Regardless there was still a lot of good stuff!

I also wanted to get a new pint glass for this year to go with the one I have from 2011, but didn’t see any. I very easily could have just missed them though. If you were there and saw them, let me know!

I wish I had more time to explore the booths, but we were there pretty close to closing time and hadn’t eaten dinner yet, so I moved through pretty quickly checking out all the different running gear and goodies. I did stop by the Clif Bar booth to pick up my 3:35 pace band!

All in all, it was a pretty great expo and I left feeling motivated and excited for race day!

Are you racing MCM? How was your expo experience? Are you a fan of large race expos?

 

Marine Corps Marathon Course Preview and Race Strategy

Three more days! Yikes! The Marine Corps Marathon is almost here. Having run this marathon twice before and being lucky enough to do many of my training runs along the course, I feel like I know every inch of it.

Sometimes knowing what’s ahead is good. Think the rush from the crowd as you run the final stretch down 110. Other times I wish I didn’t know what was just around the bend. Think that final hill up to the finish line.

Here’s my advice and a preview of the course for first timers.

As the race starts adrenaline kicks in and emotions run high. Remember to keep your breathing in check and don’t go out too hard as you head up Lee Highway. The good news is you get to come back down along Spout Run before heading over the Key Bridge and onto M street in Georgetown. M Street should be loud and lined with fans so feed off of their energy as you get ready to turn down Wisconsin and loop onto Rock Creek Parkway.

MCMdrive

Rock Creek is back after several years absent from the course and I for one am very excited about this. I wrote about the course change in an earlier post if you want to check that out. This stretch has a slight incline, but it’s really beautiful and a great addition in my mind.

The next big challenge is Hains Point. I’ve written often about my love-hate relationship with this stretch that has been a part of so many of my races this past year including the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, Nike D.C. Women’s Half and the Navy Air Force Half Marathon. The crowds can be sparse and the winds can be brutal, but as of now anyways, the forecast looks to be in our favor. If it is windy, try to tuck in behind another runner or a group. If you start to feel the lack of crowd support, let yourself enjoy the views of the water. It’ll be over in just a couple miles and you’ll be on your way to miles 15 and 16.

Soon you’ll be gliding (or hobbling – whatever it takes) past the monuments. Take it all in as you approach the Capitol Building – it really is a special view and so much history. You’ll see a big hill ahead by the Capitol, but don’t worry, the course turns just before sending you up and brings you along the Reflecting Pool before heading back down the other side of the Mall. Also, photographers are usually ready and waiting to take your picture here with the Capitol in the background, so get your race face ready.

Screenshot of the course map from the MCM website

Course map screenshot from the MCM website

Next the course turns cruel again as you try to “Beat the Bridge” crossing 14th Street Bridge back into Arlington. Crowd support wanes again. The bridge seems to go on forever. There’s no getting around this, but don’t let it get you down. Fight it. Summon up all the mental energy you can and keep yourself going through mile 20 and 21 along the bridge.

Once you cross the bridge and enter Crystal City the crowds will be back and you’ll start to feel like the end is finally near. Dunkin Donuts is usually stationed around here handing out munchkins. I remember thinking this sounded awesome before the race, but then wanting to throw up just at the sight of them during the actual race, so I passed by without enjoying one.

The Crystal City portion is slightly different than the last time I ran when it was an out and back on Crystal Drive. Instead you do more of a rectangular loop heading down Crystal Drive, turning right on 23rd and taking another right back on S. Clark St. toward the final stretch.

You’ll pass the Pentagon including the 9-11 Memorial and make your way back to 110 along Arlington National Cemetery. No matter how bad you’re hurting, seeing this here and knowing what kind of sacrifice so many people made for this country will help propel you to the finish.

The energy and excitement boils over as the cheers from the crowd get louder and louder as you run the last half mile. The final point two takes you up a cruel hill toward the Iwo Jima Memorial and the finish line. This is your last test until you become a marathon finisher and receive your medal.

Iwo Jima Memorial just beyond the trees

Iwo Jima Memorial just beyond the trees

My biggest advice if this is your first marathon or first time running MCM can really apply to any race…smile at the crowds, thank the volunteers, make friends with other runners and enjoy the heck out of it!

Marine Corps Marathon Course Change Announcement

On August 20, the Marine Corps Marathon announced a flatter course with the return of Rock Creek Parkway. I for one am thrilled about the change. It makes the course flatter and hopefully faster, while taking out a tough early hill that was way too easy to go too hard on and pay for later.

The removal of the Canal Road/Georgetown Reservoir section of the course makes it similar to the first time I ran the race in 2006 when I first fell in love with this marathon, and at the same time takes away my least favorite part of my 2011 run there. That’s what I call a win-win!

Check out the interactive course map here!

Run Washington did a story on their website covering the announcement and were nice enough to include me in it:

Run Washington Banner

RunWashingtonArticle1

RunWashingtonArticle2

Check out the full article on their site.

MCM Training is Underway!

I can’t believe the Marine Corps Marathon is going to be here in less than 100 days. 98 to be exact! I’m still following the run plan from my coach, so not too much has changed since I was already working to build toward marathon training, but now I start to really pay attention to how things are going and stress about how it’s going to impact my race.

I’ve been running a bit slow lately and I’m trying to tell myself not to freak out yet since it’s most likely because of the heat. I ran home Tuesday night in 99-degree weather, hit the track Thursday night when it was still 102 with the heat index and then overslept Saturday forcing my long run to be in midday 100+ degree heat again.

I really, really hate the cold, so I always try not to complain about the heat, but this heat wave sure is draining. How do you beat the heat and exercise safely in it??

I make sure I’m hydrating all day long – not just right before or during my run. I alternate between plain water and Nuun electrolyte tabs and absolutely love Nuun as a recovery drink during a lazy afternoon on long run days.

NuunTriBerry

I wear light-weight, light-colored, moisture-wicking clothing as much as possible. For yesterday’s long run I sported my mio mesh tank from Oiselle, which is perfect for this kind of weather along with the Oiselle strappy sports bra and bum wrap skirt – my all-time favorite running skirt.

OiselleGear

I also carry hydration for any distance run. I used to HATE carrying water, but years of living in D.C. has taught me that it’s necessary. For short to medium runs I’ve been bringing a handheld bottle I have from Nathan. It fits perfectly in my hand, but I always feel like it throws my running off a little when I carry it. On my 9-mile run home from work Tuesday I stopped by a water fountain to refill my bottle around mile 7.5 before the final all uphill charge home. I didn’t let myself look at my watch along the run since I didn’t want to freak out at the slow pace and push too hard in the heat, but I thought I was doing pretty well. A very pregnant lady carrying another small child was walking up to the water fountain at the same time as me so I stopped to let her go first. She took one look and said, “you look like you need this a lot more than me!” It was much appreciated, but a bit of an ego bruiser!

For long runs I go with my Nathan hydration vest. This is my favorite water pack and I find it way more comfortable than a fuel belt. It’s incredibly light for the amount of water it can hold and I’ve even worn it during my last couple marathons. It usually lasts me the entire 26.2, but this weekend’s long run was a different story. I actually had to refill it not once, but twice! I also splashed water on my head, neck and face during these pit stops. I might’ve looked a bit strange to onlookers passing by, but hey, whatever it takes!

LongRunVestOn

What are your tricks? Do you keep running in the heat or take it to the treadmill?

Spirit of the Marathon II

I’m a bit late with this post, but I was very excited to get to see Spirit of the Marathon II last week. Thanks to a last minute change in plans for the evening, I quickly ordered tickets online and Ian and I hopped in the car and drove up to the Ballston Theater. I still remember watching the original Spirit of the Marathon in a packed theater with my friend Lindsay and have since watched it too many times to count on Netflix.

I was a little disappointed that the theater wasn’t packed like last time, but it also worked out well since we cut it pretty close to the start and probably wouldn’t have been able to find a seat otherwise. I absolutely loved the movie. It began at the start of the Rome marathon in Italy – talk about some great scenery to run to – and then told the story of seven runners competing in the marathon occasionally coming back to clips of the actual race as they progressed through the course. I loved the diversity of the runners. There were elite runners, a charity runner, first-timers and locals including one 73-year-old who began running late in his life, but had since run all 18 Rome marathons since its inception.

 

I read a lot of reviews saying they liked the original better, but I have to disagree. Full disclosure – I haven’t seen the original in a while, so maybe it’s just because this one is fresh. The original that focused on runners training for the Chicago marathon was no doubt amazing and inspirational and still one of my favorites. It focused more on the training aspect of getting ready for the marathon while this documentary looked more at the life stories of each person being portrayed and how the marathon was changing them/how it fit into their life. I already know all about the ups and downs of marathon training – learning about these people was really interesting and made for a great story. Ian – a non-runner – actually enjoyed the movie too and I’m not sure he would have liked the first one as much, so if you’re picking one to watch with a non-runner I’d go for this one!

There was also some great history of the marathon interlaced throughout the movie and interviews with some pretty amazing people in the world of running including Bill Rodgers, Frank Shorter, Hal Higdon, Kathrine Switzer, Paula Radcliffe, Nina Kuscsik and more!

If you didn’t catch it’s one-night only appearance in theaters, this is definitely worth a watch (or two) once it comes to DVD/Netflix!

Did you see the movie? What did you think?

Also, it totally made me want to run an overseas marathon again. I’ve done Dublin and Greece. I don’t think it’s in the cards for awhile with everything else I have going on, but maybe someday. How about you – have you ever run a marathon overseas?