Monday, April 29, 2013

NWMDC | Weekend Fun


My NWM DC weekend is going to have to be two posts - so bear with me! Too much fun crammed into 48 (or less) hours. All in good fun! We had a blast gallivanting around on Saturday, thus the need for some extra blog love about this amazing, amazing weekend.

Friday night Heather and I landed and got to our hotel by 9:30, where we met up with Trista and my sister. Trista had been in DC since Friday morning, and my sister had arrived on the bus from NYC not even an hour prior to us landing at Reagan. We headed out to Crystal City Sports Pub for a late dinner, and before we knew it, it was nearly 11:30 and we had an early, early (re: 7:15) alarm clock waiting for us, as we had plans to be at the expotique around 8:30 on Saturday morning.

Saturday morning came way earlier than I think any of us had hoped - but it was Expotique time! I was so excited to check this out. Kasey and Carly were meeting us there for the expo and then for playing at the Nike store for more race swag, and of course, our resulting photo shoots.

Nike doesn't quite do an "expo" in the traditional term. Being that this race caters to women (read: the race is not women only, as we thought learned), the expotique is just that: an expo boutique, featuring the race's major sponsors: Nuun, Luna, and the best of them, Bare Mineral and Paul Mitchell. So if you're the type to get all excited over free swag and true vendors, this expo may not be up your alley. However, if you just like playing around, this could be your sort of thing:

From top left - right: All of us, ready to rock! | Half marathon #10, at the Nike store with light up digital course map | Nike party going on my arm | There I am! On the wall! | Scribble wall at the expotique with comments from Heather and me | Kasey's tribute to all of us!
After playing at the expo-area, we headed up to the place I was second-most excited for: Georgetown Cupcake! While I don't regularly watch the show anymore, I love any opportunity I can get to get my hands on some awesome cupcakes. The store opens at 10, and we were in line by 10:20. I'm glad we weren't there when it opened, as originally planned, because apparently their secret (read: free) flavor of the day wasn't ready yet! Victory for us. We ordered a dozen (two for each of us and then two 'community cupcakes') plus our free one = thirteen fabulously delicious treats that no, we did not even finish come Sunday afternoon. But please note that yes, I finished my two.

Cupcakes! All the cupcakes.

Post-cupcakes, we headed back to the hotel to drop our cupcakes, re-charge the phones (because you know how dead they were post-expo) and get ready for our next adventures...
We first headed to the Nationals/Reds game down at Navy Yard. New ballpark for me and sister, check! Not a super thrilling game, but a clean win for the Nats. From this photo, we were sitting in direct line of the sun and (quickly) bound for sunburn city, so we moved not even in the fourth inning to the other side and enjoyed ourselves a bit more. Baseball, beer, hot dogs... what more could you want in a Saturday afternoon?

Afterward, the adventure continued - specifically, back over to the Smithsonian on the Metro and to gallivanting around the National Mall to get a few memorials in for sister, who'd never been to DC. Washington Monument (scaffolding and all), Lincoln, and a walk all the way back up by the Vietnam Memorial and all the way to...
Michelle, we're here for your cardigans.   - HP
Amazingly enough, Heather had never been either, so at least we crossed off a major item for both of them! After the National Mall fun, up to Pizzeria Paradiso for dinner with all the other crazies. So many folks carbing up for dinner around there, and so much buzz in the city! I just loved it! I think something I loved about the Mall was the fact that there were runners everywhere (not just those folks in NWM gear, but folks out and about). The weather was perfect, and you can tell this city truly loves being active and outside (I imagine especially in spring when it was like it was this weekend, just gorgeous).

After dinner, a pre-race day stop at CVS for an onslaught of all things random and necessary, and bed time with an early early alarm... it's almost race day! And you get to hear more about that on Wednesday!

Happy Monday, friends! Did you race this weekend? How'd it go?

PS. You can also read my sister's recap of her whirlwind weekend - I'm glad she seemed to have more fun than she lets on. ;) Love you sister!

Friday, April 26, 2013

NWMDC | Ladies' Weekend

 It's here!

Our adventure to DC kicks off tonight with mine and Heather's flights from Atlanta to Reagan - we're the last to arrive, but that's okay. We save the best for last around here. ;) There are so many fabulous amazing women I get to go spend my weekend and I'm beyond excited - but before that, I think I need to introduce you to my NWMDC ladies' weekend posse. They're mostly sorority sisters, with two exceptions, but you still need to know how and why they're all important, because let's face it - they are.

Most of these fabulous ladies you'll recognize from other posts and races and miscellaneous sightings, however, they all deserve a proper introduction! Ready for the fun - it'll make you wish you were coming along with us. Promise.

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And then there's me...

Are you running NWM DC with us?

Look for the ladies in the obnoxious citrus-colors - we're all yellow or orange! We figured we'd stand out that way with everyone else in purple or turquoise. Come say hi if you see us! 

More to come tomorrow after the expo & the Nats game!


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

#BostonStrongATH - Athens, Georgia

A run for us to unite and show our strength.
A run for those that were unable to finish.
A run for those that may never run again.
A run for us to try and make sense of the tragedy that has forever changed something we love.

Pavement Runner started an incredible movement with the idea of the #BostonStrong run series, for Monday evening, one week since the tragedy in Boston. I quickly emailed the idea to one of our Athens Road Runners board members on Tuesday, and by Wednesday I had a Facebook event invite waiting for me - runners make things happen. The ARR coordinated the run, with further coordination for shirts from the Athens Running Company and a local State Farm agent jumped in for water for post-run refreshment. Community. What a community.

I'd say there were safely between 200 and 250 runners that came out Monday for a solemn 3 miles around Athens - moms, kids, dogs, college students, and some of our area-based 17 Boston Marathoners from this year. An amazing turnout for an event with five days' notice. Humbling, to say the least.

 We started with a 26-second moment of silence for each mile of Boston, followed by introductions of our Boston Marathoners that were able to make it, and a description of the course. ARR won over the hearts of the local police with the promise that all of us (yes, all of us) would obey traffic laws, stop signs, and run on sidewalks. We did... for the most part.

It felt like any other 5K in town - we usually run (most of) the course during our Saturday group runs, in some form or another, so I knew the hills backwards and forwards (mostly forwards), and knew what was coming. I felt great, but knew to back off coming into mile 3, where I started to feel it. Chandler and I chatted most of the way, as I bolted my way through what was supposed to be an easy 3 miles for the day (spoiler: they were too fast for 'easy'!). 
 source | Chandler told me she wanted to learn how to pose like me while running. Win.
The part that got me most was seeing families - parents, their kids, toddlers, and even a set of infant twin baby girls - were out on their porches cheering, like it was an actual race through their neighborhood. I got goosebumps every time I passed one of those houses, thinking of all those spectators killed, injured. They're hurting just as much as we are as runners.

I even got to chat with the press (and more photos I know you want to see here). Afterward, a local bar held a post-run gathering, complete with free hot dogs, water, tea, and Sam Adams for the cheap. Spectacular.

Did you participate in a #BostonStrong run on Monday?


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Monday, April 22, 2013

NWMDC | Assessing My Training

A few weeks ago I put it out there that NWM DC is my goal sub-2 race for the year - that was just about a month ago and I've been thinking long and hard about the feasibility of achieving this coveted half-marathon race time. Come next Monday morning, can I call myself a sub-2er?

My training plan was a modified (for the sake of time) Runner's World sub-2 plan: their version was 12 weeks, mine was 5. Yeah - but minding the fact that I was coming out of marathon recovery month (as it were), and have run two halfs in the last six weeks come race day, I've done the work. Let's look at how this plays out:

Week 1: March 25-31
Scheduled miles: 21
Completed miles: 23.7

Week 2: April 1-7
Scheduled: 25
Completed: 7.54

Week 3: April 8-14
Scheduled: 24
Completed: 13.76

Week 4: April 15-21
Scheduled: 20
Completed: 14.96

Total miles scheduled: 90
Total miles completed: 59.96

If you look at this solely based on miles, I'm far from completing the plan to its fullest, and certainly haven't put in the miles to make a 1:59:59 clock time happen. However - I'm looking at this from a different light: speed and endurance, two things I never really thought I had. My speed workouts each week have been amazing and have certainly helped me push beyond what I thought I was capable of - both physically and mentally. My long runs (6-7 miles) have all held under a 9:40 pace, which is a lot faster than any of my long runs prior (usually in the 10-10:10 average range), so I know there are a few factors making a difference!

The running coach I've been working with has said repeatedly that if I complete a full training cycle (unlike I did for the last two halfs, Clemson especially) and allow myself a taper week (a what? You're silly, Al) that I've got the endurance and the speed to certainly make my goal happen.

Running a 5K-PR in a training run during week 3 really showed that when I put my mind to it, and can mentally push myself all the way through, that I am as capable as I think. Running that PR run (a full minute shorter than my 5K race PR) was not easy, but knowing that I pushed as hard as I could all the way through showed that work coming to life.
5K PR in a training run!
So here you have it. I'm in my last week, ready to make it count. Taper week, as recommended/knowing that I need it to allow myself to really get revved up for Sunday! I'm running our #BostonStrongATH run tonight, one last track day on Wednesday, and 3 easy miles on Thursday. And that's it - resting until Sunday morning and putting this #sub2orbust plan to work.

More NWMDC fun to come this week!

Last advice, words of wisdom, things to remember? 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Track Tuesday 15

It's hard not to think about Monday's events. I sit at a computer most of the day, and either via Facebook or Yahoo or CNN or Twitter, there's a reminder that people are hurting. Runners are hurting. Their loved ones, those strangers cheering them on... they're all hurting. But I'm trying to move forward - after all, that was the point from my post yesterday - keep moving forward.

And today, I tried to do just that. When my alarm went off at 4:50, I promptly hit snooze. 4:59 rolled around and the last thing I wanted to do was get up and walk out the door - but something hit me that said I needed to run for people who couldn't.

Today's group was really small - only 3 of us - and I was worried that I had missed an email cancelling, considering I was the only one out there until 5:30 on the dot. Thankfully, Coach Al rolled in just after two other people I didn't know and we got to work - a lap set of 4-3-2-1 (mile, .75, .5, .25, respectively), at which goal was to increase pace through each lap set. Woof.

And here you have it:
You can ignore those two little lap mess-ups. :)
Fastest mile ever (actually timed in at 7:54), followed by some amazing lap sets. They hurt, for sure, but it felt good and, as always, I didn't regret rolling out of bed. I'll feel these, for sure, so I'm super glad tomorrow is a rest day. Also serves me right for running Monday, Tuesday, and putting myself in this workout today! Sorry, legs.

Joining us for Track Tuesday this week? Make sure you link up!

PS. Also make sure you share your #runforboston miles - now it's up to 600+ runners, 1000s of miles!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Our Hearts are with Boston - and Runners - Everywhere

The Boston Marathon Tragedy 
Everyone has posted about this by now - and while I don't feel the need to repeat words, I think this is partially for my own soul. I'm still stuck in my own head on thoughts and feelings and while I feel... something... I can't totally pin-point what that is.

I'm bummed for those didn't get to complete their marathon - their Boston.
I'm disgusted by the actions of some person, some group, some someone, who could do this.
I'm mad for those who lost their life, or lost a limb.
I'm saddened for those who were injured, who saw, who experienced the entire thing.
I'm angry at whoever thought they could ruin Marathon Monday.
I'm thankful for first responders and volunteers and people that jumped on the scene.
I'm inspired by the running community and the human spirit.
I'm hopeful for all those who know we can move on, move forward, and keep going.

Decked out in blue and yellow, Boston Marathon colors.
Yesterday afternoon I got home from work and didn't know what to do with myself - so Chandler and I went out for a few miles, just to process. Not a lot of talking about Boston, but it was great to run with someone and know that we (all of us) are not alone in this.

This morning, the Athens Road Runners gathered on the track on campus for a run together - for solidarity, for hope, for memory, for camaraderie. Still, I didn't know what else to do but run. We started with a moment of silence, and proceeded on a two-mile loop as a group. Some fast, some slow, some inbetween. Some in silence, some talked the whole way. On the way to campus, at 5:45 am, the radio show was talking about the 8-year-old, just identified late last night, and how he had just hugged his dad who was about to finish his race, and he was running back to his mom and sisters. His dad was running Boston - the runner's dream - and in turn lost his son. That's when I lost it - just a few tears, but enough to really feel what these people felt yesterday.

Athens Road Runners morning.
The running community is just that - we feel. We get it, we understand. I said it yesterday when I changed my Facebook profile picture to the Boston ribbon: You attack runners, you attack my friends. You attack my friends, you attack my community. You attack my community, you've picked the wrong community to mess with. Who else goes out and runs 26.2 miles for fun? The running community always perseveres, we move forward, as we know that's how to finish a race: keep moving forward. And that's what we'll do. We'll log our miles (Charity Miles or otherwise), we'll tweet, Instagram and tag our posts with #runforboston and you'll see that we'll all come together. That's what we do.  The running community is one that can't be faltered - we know heartbreak, we know determination, we know strength. We know what it means to cross the finish line of your first 5K, of your first marathon, of your first anything. It's a high that can't be matched in any other circumstance. We understand the pain, the sweat, the tears that goes into working towards an event.

Boston? Boston, too, in time will recover. We all will. We just need to keep moving forward.

How are you moving forward? Are you joining me in #runforboston? Share your posts and miles here if you're joining me this week. 

Additionally, if you #runforboston (or walk, or bike, or crawl), share your miles here. As of 4 pm EST on April 16, over 370 runners and 1,300 miles logged!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Running Teaches You About Life

Simple post today - not a lot of talk necessary on this awesome Marathon Monday!

I saw this on Thought Catalog today and just loved it. I'm in that mindset of coming up on two weeks until sub-2 goal race day, and I'm feeling a lot of these turning through my mind lately. Enjoy!

17 Things Running Teaches You About Life

1. To be good at anything, you have to put in the time and effort no matter how talented you are.

2. Your abilities and someone else’s abilities are not the same. Do the best that YOU can do.

3. If winning is your objective, realize that you have to work 10 times harder than the next best person.

4. No matter how hard you work and how prepared you are, disappointments will happen.

5. The most gratifying experiences usually come as a result of enduring the most painful trials.

6. To be great at anything, you have to risk failing terribly at it.

7. A lot of people endure the same pains that you do.

8. If you focus on putting one foot in front of the other, you will eventually reach the finish line.

9. You cannot reach the finish line unless you start.

10. The mind is a very powerful thing. If you can train your mind to keep going even when your body wants to quit, you can achieve some incredible things.

11. Learning the difference between physically being unable to continue and giving up.

12. Accepting that every day is different — some days 5 miles is really easy, other days it feels like a cruel punishment.

13. Pace yourself.

14. You cannot give 100%, 100% of the time.

15. Sometimes you need a day off, a day off from everything.

16. The worst time, the slowest pace, the last person to finish the race is still better off than the person who refused to try.

17. Even if you fall, even if you cannot finish today, you can and should pick yourself up and try again tomorrow.

Any other thoughts on what running teaches you? What has it taught you (from this list or otherwise)? 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Track Tuesday 14

Good morning! You know, as much as I think I dread that 4:50 alarm on Tuesday nights when I'm going to bed, by the time I get home Wednesday morning after a track session, I'm feeling alive. Further proof that you can never regret a good workout. This is what I needed this week - a good self-butt kicking. Seriously.

This was one of those mornings where you really wanted to put it all out there, literally leaving life in the dust, and you thought you gave everything - and well, that's not too far off from the truth. Funny how your body can adapt to a workout (like those pesky 400s) and realize that you aren't as working as hard as you used to for the same times. More proof that yes, it does indeed pay off. Never regret that workout - especially when you see progress being made!

Today's workout with Al was another set of 400s - the other guys (and by 'other' I mean the guys who have worked with Al for awhile, are multi-marathoners, one of which just BQed for 2014...) set off on 2-mi tempo run sets. Chandler, Evan and I got to stick on the track for a 400s morning: 1 mile warm up, 7 x 400s, 1 mile cool down. My splits were about as even as last week (and apparently I forgot to actually lap them all, so you get numbers instead of a fun screen shot of my actual splits):

400 splits : 1:44, 1:44, 1:40, 1:36, 1:36, 1:40, 1:43.

Not bad.

I've really been struggling this week, both with running and life, and haven't felt the same oomph I did the last two weeks. I've (almost) come to terms with the fact that sometimes, you need to let yourself ease off, re-focus, and go back into the next week strong. So, with that, the rest of this week is a little easier, but hoping for a solid 10 miles on Saturday. After that, it's two weeks until goal race day, and time to focus for the last two. Bring it.

Joining us for Track Tuesday this week? Make sure you link up!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Top Women's Running Getaways

With this super exciting upcoming girls’ weekend race at the end of April, I’ve got race-cations on my mind and thought I’d have some fun to kick this week off - I'm pretty excited about this post and hope you love it as much as I did reviewing! I did this post over on Diary of a Slow Runner a few weeks back and wanted to share it here, too.

Top 6 Running Women’s Getaways
 because 5 is to be expected!

It’s no surprise that with each and upcoming race or race series, they’re catering more and more to the ideas of girls’ getaway weekends. With nearly 1,200 half-marathons in the United States alone, the number of people who've finished a half-marathon (13.1 miles) has more than tripled since 2000, and a whopping 59 percent of finishers are women!

With that great statistic behind us, I present to you the Top 6 Running Women’s Getaways – opportunities for you and your BRF (best running friends) to get away from the hubby, kids, the dog, that job, and just life in general to have an all-out great time… and maybe set some PRs while you’re at it! These are really in no particular order, just five outstanding races and series that provide you the opportunity to escape from it all.

Mud runs have become an increasingly popular trend lately, between Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, and oodles of others - but now women's-only races are becoming all the pink rage too! Pretty Muddy was started by a couple of businessmen who were inspired by their wives – their pretty cool wives. Watching their partners juggle kids, households, carpools and careers – while still having time for the occasional ladies’ night – got the men thinking: These awesome women deserve more time for themselves. What an awesome bunch of husbands. 

Pretty Muddy is only in seven states currently (California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Ohio and Illinois) but makes for a great girls' getaway. What better than mud followed by mudslides to celebrate? Personally sounds like an awesome getaway to me! Will you join me in Atlanta this year?

Zooma was literally created with women in mind: ZOOMA is unique among other women’s races in that it is literally “run by women” (pun intended!)  ZOOMA’s founder and executive director is a woman, mother, and runner, and the staff are all women. While the race is open to men, it’s still a sea of mostly female runners at each start line, ranging from locations like Florida to Cape Cod and Texas to the Great Lakes. You can find a race pretty much near you, guaranteed (okay, or at least worth the travel)! 

Zooma races are often hosted at a super nice hotel (usually adjoined with a spa or resort of some kind), so you know you can convince your BRFs for a spa day post-race.
Barefoot Wine is also one of Zooma’s national sponsors, along with Muscle Milk Light and HonesTea. I’m all about the wine here, so a glass of post-race wine? I’m all yours. You also get a super sweet necklace for finishing a Zooma race, and they recently introduced the PR medal – PR at any of their races, and you get to earn this baby!

In case it’s not obvious yet, I’m a sucker for all things “girly” – wine, necklaces, the glitz and the glam. So yes, I’m that girl that gets sucked in by a super fun, glittery medal. The Divas Half Marathon series does not disappoint in that arena. With a number of race locations to choose from on both sides of the country and Puerto Rico, you can truly make this a get-away-from-it-all kinda weekend.
 Along the course, in addition to the normal water stops, there’s also boa and tiara stops, so you can pick up a little glam along the way, all in time for the most spectacular photo finish! What more could you want than to run with a hot pink feathered boa? Not much. Check out Divas for a girls’ weekend that is pinked out in every way possible and enjoy a little glitz of your own.

I like wine. You know that by now. What better than a race (or two, or five) that are all based around wine? Destination Races produces the Wine Country Half Marathon Series that includes Santa Barbara, Virginia, Oregon, and British Columbia, Canada, and provide the perfect scenery, beverages (post-race merlot, anyone?) and environment for a wine-tasting and running sort of weekend. My two loves, combined.

Make it an ultimate girls weekend with an extended stay in wine country, schedule some tours and wine tasting, and throw a race into the mix. Perfection, I’d say. I’m looking forward to doing one of these sometime, but get on your registration quickly – they sell out fast!

With two race weekends now offered each year (San Francisco marathon and half in the fall, DC in the spring), there’s a few opportunities to make it to Nike’s Women’s Races. However, it’s tricky – the race is only open via a lottery system, and nobody quite knows the rhyme or reason to how to get in. Rumor has it that if you sign up with a group, you’re more like to get in as a group that an individual – all the better reason to get your girlfriends to sign up with you! The best reason to make this a girls’ getaway weekend? Ogle over that post-race bling:

Yes, I am pointing out those two pieces of bling: those oh-so-pretty Tiffany’s blue boxes and the equally as pretty firefighters dressed in tuxedos. What better way to end a girls’ race than with some fabulously dressed men? Count me in! I get to run the inaugural DC race at the end of April, and I could not be more excited to run DC with some of my best girlfriends and get that bling at the end!

Of the races I’ve mentioned so far, Ragnar is the only one I’ve actually completed (Nike DC shortly!), but I can’t stop talking about it every chance I get. Mention a relay of any kind, and I’ll pipe up with my almost-31-hour running adventure through backwoods Maryland and into DC last October. Never heard of Ragnar? For shame! Kidding. But really, Ragnar is a relay adventure unlike any other – teams of six (ultra) or twelve (regular) crammed into one (or two) vans for a 200-ish mile journey through any of their sixteen locations (ranging from Southern California to Florida Keys, Niagara Falls area to Chicago). And lots of shenanigans along the way. Want to get to know some running friends better, and make them your ultimate BRFs? Ragnar is your chance to do that – there is no conversation off-limits in a Ragnar van (I mean that whole-heartedly). 

But it’s worth it. The camaraderie, the accomplishment, the exhaustion and the free pizza at the end are all worth it. You’ll truly come home with some of the best running stories of your life, stories on the road you never want to talk of again, and some of the best new running friends ever. Not sold? Check out my experience from Ragnar DC last fall and think about it – I promise, it doesn’t disappoint.

Are there any other races you would consider ideal for a girls’ getaway weekend? Have you done any of the above races and made them a girls’ weekend?


I serve as a member of Team Pretty Muddy for the Atlanta race. While serving as an ambassador for the race, I am provided one complimentary race entry. All opinions are my own.