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: B&A Trail Half Marathon

On Sunday I ran the B&A Trail Half Marathon in Annapolis put on by the Annapolis Striders run club. I will admit I had a really bad attitude about going to this race. I was already disappointed in myself since this was initially my target full marathon, but I didn’t put in the training to be able to give it a legit shot at qualifying for Boston, so I decided to opt for the half shortening my recovery time to go at it again.

After some pretty decent weather recently in the greater D.C. area, I was unbelievably annoyed when I saw it would be a feels like temperature between about 16 and 19 for the race. You all know I do not like running in the cold, so this news just sucked! Since I was doing packet pick-up day of (glad they offered that) I had to leave super early meaning a wake up in the 4s… mornings are right up there with the cold on a list of my favorite things!

Despite all this, I was pleasantly surprised with the race. The start and finish line were at Saverna Park High School, so they used that as their staging area. It is always nice to be able to hang out indoors before a race, but especially so when it is as cold as Sunday was. I arrived about 6:30 and had no trouble grabbing my packet. I got my bib on and shoe tag timing chip then found the bathrooms that surprisingly had a pretty short line.

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I wore my Oiselle portman pants and then all the layers on top starting with the verrazano sports bra and topped with the scantron tank, flyte long sleeve and tech hoodie. As race time got closer I ran my stuff out to my car since there was no bag drop for this race and put my car key in my back pocket of my pants and a Gu in the front pocket. For the second straight race I ended up not feeling like I could get anything down mid-race and again didn’t take it. I need to start practicing nutrition again.

I headed back into the high school and found a quiet hallway to do my warm-up. About five minutes before go time I made my way to the start line and put myself between the 8 minute and 8:30 minute pace corrals. It was pretty informal and self-selected pacing, but the signs with pace times were a nice guide. I really enjoy the ease of these smaller races.

Soon after the National Anthem was sung and we were off and racing. The start was a little crowded, but fortunately we didn’t link up with the trail till about a mile and a half in giving everyone enough room and time for it to thin out. This was a paved trail very similar to the W&OD for those familiar with the D.C. trail system.

I didn’t feel as cold as I worried I would, but all of my layers including my gloves and neck gaiter probably helped with that. The sun was also shining brightly, which upped my mood a little bit. Just like Rock N Roll DC a couple weeks ago, the miles just ticked by. It was a great feeling, especially since I was in such a negative mindset before the race started. Also, like RNR, I didn’t look at my watch once until I crossed the finish line, so I ran completely by feel.

I felt really strong for the first six miles or so. From about mile three on, I found myself running mostly alone or with just a few other people nearby. I actually didn’t mind this at all – it was relaxed and so similar to many of my training runs. The volunteers were also incredible, nice and enthusiastic. They had to be absolutely freezing, so a big time thanks to them.

I was expecting the race to be completely flat, but boy was there a tough hill between miles seven and eight or so. It really took the wind out of my sails for awhile and definitely impacted my overall pace – note to self: add more hill training in to workouts!

It felt like time had flown when all of a sudden volunteers were directing me off the trail at the split between the half and the full and down the homestretch back to the high school for the finish. I crossed the line in 1:48:07 (unofficial). According to my watch I ran 13.22 miles for an average pace of 8:11 – how I could screw up tangents in a mostly out and back race is beyond me, but I do always find a way! Another race day tactic I need some work on for sure.

Mile by Mile:

1 – 7:45
2 – 7:41
3 – 8:06
4 – 8:07
5 – 7:58
6 – 7:56
7 – 7:51
8 – 8:40
9 – 8:40
10 – 8:28
11 – 8:12
12 – 8:34
13 – 8:30
Final .1 pace – 7:40

I was really pleased when I saw that time and realized I’d taken almost four minutes off my half marathon time in just two weeks! It is about five minutes off of my PR, but is a time I felt really good about given my current fitness level. I’m continuing to see strides (pun intended) in my speed throughout my weekly workouts and it was nice to see that show through on race day.

After I crossed the finish line, I immediately made my way back into the high school to warm up. They were offering all racers a free massage and had a great food spread. If I weren’t so chilly I probably would have taken advantage of this, but I really just wanted to get home so I grabbed a banana and a water, jogged out to my car and turned the heat all the way up for the ride home!

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All in all, a pretty good race day. You can certainly tell the organizers have done this before and know what they’re doing. I thought the four water/gatorade stops along the half course were completely sufficient and well staffed. If it were a warmer day I probably would have worn my water pack though. If you like smaller races that almost have more of a Sunday long run feel to them, then this one is for you.

Footprints: Monday Morning Recap

Once again I’ve been MIA for awhile, but I’ve been busy with lots of good things happening. This week started off awful with no runs Monday through Wednesday, but then I had a strong end of the week, so I’ll focus on that for the recap!

Here’s the day-by-day breakdown:

Thursday: I taught morning boot camp then got in my P90X core workout. After work I put in just under 4 relatively quick, but still felt easy miles along Four Mile Run & W&OD trails. I was motivated for this run thanks to the arrival of my new Oiselle tool belt roga shorts and wazelle halter tank – the near 70 degree temps didn’t hurt either!

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Friday: I put in a speedy out and back negative split run along the W&OD for 4 miles.

Saturday: I was up early and all bundled for a very easy nearly 4 mile shake out run along Four Mile Run & W&OD. After 70 degrees two days earlier, a feels like of 22 felt awful!

Sunday: I ran the B&A Trail Half Marathon up in Annapolis and had a pretty good race – more to come soon. I also got in my P90X core routine and a Pure Barre class with my fellow DC Oiselle teammates in the afternoon. Pretty good day for working out!

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.

 

Marathon Training Check-In

I’m 12 weeks in to my training plan for the B&A Trail Marathon in Annapolis with six weeks to go. The first seven weeks went really well in terms of mileage and workouts. My lowest mileage week was 35 miles up to my highest mileage week of 54 miles. With plans to run six days a week, I was very pleased that I had only missed a small handful of planned runs over those first seven weeks.

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I came into things after a bit of time off from consistent running though, so my base was not what it should be (read: mostly nonexistent). The lack of base really showed through in my speed workouts. They were all a struggle and off pace. I certainly started feeling better as the weeks went on and noticed some serious improvement, but I couldn’t seem to hit the marks I needed.

The next three weeks the wheels came off. I put in an 18 mile week, followed by a 27 mile one and then just 12. I missed most of my quality workouts and was eating great either as I was spending a lot of time on the road and eating out. It was really frustrating to watch that momentum slip and admittedly there were a few workouts I should have gotten in, but just didn’t because I wasn’t feeling it.

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I’ve done a good job at getting back on track the last two weeks and putting in some quality mileage with back-to-back 30 – 40 mile weeks. Still, if my speed was hurting before, it is definitely hurting now.

I’m completely confident in my ability to finish the B&A race barring something totally unexpected on race day, but I have had to reassess my goal or reaching a BQ on that day. I’m going to continue to work hard putting in the miles over the next six weeks, but don’t think I can get myself to the speed I need without risking injury in that amount of time.

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I hope to come away from this with a great base though and am on the hunt for a back up qualifying race sometime May or later. I love running in the heat, so summer marathons don’t bother me. I’m eyeing Steamtown as my fall marathon, but want to take one shot before then if possible. I’d love to hear your suggestions. My ideal would be something semi-local to DC or at least within a 5 or 6 hour drive tops.

I hope your spring race training is going better than mine has! Tell me about your goal races and how your training is coming along!

Teammates

What a year! It’s hard to believe how quickly it went by. 2014 was a pretty awesome year for me on most fronts. I got to marry the love of my life, celebrate my brother’s wedding, spend lots of time with family and friends and go on the trip of a lifetime among other bright spots.

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It was not however, my greatest running year. I started off recovering from a tough marathon in 2013 that left me mentally drained and physically hurt. With such a busy 2014, I never got into a solid training groove until very late in the year. While I raced fairly often, I didn’t set a single PR all year – or really even come close.

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Despite this, I’m still thankful for my year in running. I’m able to do something that not everyone can physically do and that should never be taken for granted. I also got to enjoy the support of some amazing teammates. I joined the Oiselle Volee team in late 2013 and it has been an incredibly motivating experience. The feeling of community in this group of kickass women runners from the elites to the Flock is so strong and empowering, and I love every bit of it.

Oiselle Team & Friends pre-Cherry Blossom Race

Oiselle Team & Friends pre-Cherry Blossom Race

It is so fun to log on to twitter and see how the rest of the birds are doing. It is great to celebrate in everyone’s accomplishments and pump up those struggling through tough runs or injury.

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As a team-sport athlete growing up, I had really missed that camaraderie and support that comes with being a part of a team, and I am so thankful to have that back. No matter what happened on race days or during training, I was always met with positive words and encouragement from this community.

Picture from Courtney's blog - check it out at eatprayrundc.com

Picture from Courtney’s blog – check it out at eatprayrundc.com

I’ve also made some great friends through this group and love all the fun meetups our DC flock (and birds visiting the DC area) has done. From pasta dinners before big races and fashion shows to race day meet-ups and brunches, it was always fun to interact in person with this inspiring group of women.

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We ended the year with two great meet-ups – a holiday lights run followed by a holiday treats happy hour a week later. It was a blast exploring my favorite spots in DC decked in holiday lights and Christmas trees. Of course the holiday treats happy hour followed by dinner at Shake Shack was a great time as well!

Holiday Lights Run - photo courtesy of Julie Anderson

Holiday Lights Run – photo courtesy of Julie

Holiday Treats Happy Hour

Holiday Treats Happy Hour

Thanks for keeping me going through a tough running year. I cannot wait to crush some new goals and PRs in 2015! Head up, Wings out!