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!

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.

Notice backpacks to the right

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.