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!

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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?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

 

 

Running, New Gear and Mac N Cheese Bites…Perfection

I kicked off last night with a 7-miler at the end of my work day and finished with a few striders that left me feeling both exhausted and energized at the same time. From there the night kept getting better.

Ian and I had a dinner date planned, but stopped by Pacers first so I could pick up some new Newtons since my latest pair have seen a few too many miles. I’ve been eyeing the MV2 model for some time now. At just 5 ounces and with a zero heel-to-toe drop these shoes are built for speed and will be great for my weekly track workouts and shorter distance races. The black and green model looks super sharp as well. I can’t wait to get them out on the road. Once we got home I put them on right away and Ian poked fun at the fact that I always do this with new shoes. Apparently that’s not normal?? This is the one time I can wear them inside without them being gross, so it makes total sense to me!

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While I was testing out my shoes at the store Ian wandered off around the store and picked me up a little gift…

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The Stick helps to reduce muscle soreness, stiffness and pain. It’s a great massage tool that claims to accelerate muscle recovery and disperse the effects of lactic acid following activity. It’s also a great size for travel so it will be perfect for when I’m on the road, which means I don’t have my foam roller with me and usually end up pretty sore after my tough workouts with no way to work out the pain. I’ve known I’ve needed one of these for awhile, but have put off buying it so I was so excited that Ian got it for me. He said he was thinking about buying me flowers this week, but thought I’d like this better…he sure knows me well!!

After Pacers we walked across the street to Hard Times Cafe for dinner. We couldn’t decide on an appetizer so we ended up getting a couple – turns out their appetizers are pretty filling, so that along with a couple Miller Lites ended up being dinner for me. I immediately saw one of my favorites on the app menu – fried mac ‘n cheese bites. They might not be the healthiest meal, but they sure taste good. We also ordered some Santa Fe egg rolls, which I was a bit skeptical about, but they turned out to be absolutely delicious. I highly recommend these if you find yourself at Hard Times.

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We walked back home to Rosslyn after dinner and watched a few episodes of House of Cards, which we started watching recently. We’re already about 12 episodes in and you might say a little bit obsessed.

Talk about a perfect Friday night! Hope you all have a great weekend!

What’s the latest running gear you’ve added to your arsenal?

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?!

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Pacers Meet and Greet with Ed Moran

Last week Pacers hosted a Q&A session with professional runner Ed Moran at their Clarendon store. He gave some great training tips and running advice in a conversational format allowing all of us that showed up to ask any questions we had and dictate where the conversation went. It was a really enjoyable, info-filled event.

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Ed was a four-time All-American at William & Mary College and a seven-time U.S. National team member. He won a gold medal in the 5000m at the Pan-American Games and ran a 2:11 in his debut marathon. It was really cool to get running advice from someone who has raced at this level.

Having dealt with many injuries over his career he talked about the importance of cross-training in our training plans and discussed ways to incorporate speed training among many other topics. One of the pieces of advice he gave that I found most interesting was on fueling during races and how to practice. He suggested looking at the water/aid stops on the course map and only allowing yourself to drink at those same points on your training runs. I think this makes so much sense and will try to put it into practice when I train for the Marine Corps Marathon this year.

Check out the Pacers calendar for more upcoming events like these and fun runs.

Race Recap: Love the Run You’re With 5k

Sunday marked my first race of 2013 and my first real race back from the injured list. I ran in Pacers Love the Run You’re With (LTRYW) 5k for the first time and loved it. I didn’t PR, but that wasn’t the goal for this race, and I was very pleased with my finish time of 22:56. I’m making great progress and am on my way to getting back to where I was at, and hopefully even better!

After hearing about the bone chilling temps from last year’s race I was sure glad how nice of a day it turned out to be. Temps were in the 30s and the sun was shining. I wore my Reebok long sleeve as a base layer topped by my Reebok 1/2 zip jacket and my Nike Pacers Ambassador t-shirt. I also had on an Under Armour hat, a neck gaiter, gloves, Nike pants and Zensah compression sleeves. I was WAY overdressed and started overheating about a half mile in. This does not happen to me often. I’m getting way too used to running in cold weather.

Ian got up early with me to drive me to the race, take pictures and cheer me on – more impressive than usual since we’d gone to a great Mardi Gras party the night before and had a few hurricanes! It’s always nice to have someone waiting for you at the finish line. Champps (that’s how they spell it) opened up for runners before the race so I was able to hang out in there and stay warm until about 15 minutes before start time.

The course was an out and back that started near the Pacers in Pentagon Row right next to the ice skating rink. We ran by the Pentagon Row shops before turning onto Army Navy Drive and going straight up a steep hill. It wasn’t as bad as I remembered from the days I used to run those roads when I worked in Crystal City, but I was certainly breathing heavy. At the top of the hill we were treated to a long, gradual descent (all I could think was oh man, I have to come back up this!), and then some flat and some rolling roads to the turnaround.

My first mile was a bit faster than the rest, but my splits were relatively close to even. I ran mile 1 in 7:13 followed by miles 2 and 3 in 7:22 and 7:26. I finished with a kick to the finish at a 6:23 pace. I was really thankful that I’ve been working on my form both going up and going down hills. I felt like I was flying coming back down the steep hill before turning onto Joyce St. for the final kick to the finish. I leaned forward and let gravity take over, but remembered to land as softly as possible so I wasn’t pounding my legs into the ground.

I crossed the line in 22:56 for an average pace of 7:23 per mile. (My watch was pretty close to that showing a 22:55 finish for 3.14 miles at a 7:18 pace.)That put me in 160th place out of 1,721 overall and 48th out of 1,083 females. I had a blast running this race and will definitely sign up for LTRYW again next year. There were some great costumes and themed running outfits, and free bloody mary’s at Champps after the race topped off a great morning!

Did you race last weekend? Let me know how it went!