Monthly Archives: May 2011

Beach Trip & Military Appreciation 5K

I just got back from a WONDERFUL Memorial Day Weekend Trip to Myrtle Beach! Kevin and I took advantage of our three day weekend and his parent’s beach house and went down to South Carolina on Friday after work. His parents recently bought a house in the Surfside Beach area so we met them down there. We enjoyed a lot of good food, drinks, beach time and beautiful weather, and even managed to fit some running in too!

We headed out for a ten mile run on Saturday morning which was HOT, humid, and slow. We had to take a lot of walking breaks but we got it done. We are definitely going to need some time to adjust to the summer weather!

On Sunday we decided to run a random race for fun. On the drive down I did some searching on my phone for races and we found a Military Appreciation 5K. Military members got to run for free and civilians paid $20. Kevin’s in the Air Force, so it was a special race for him. We didn’t have high expectations for our performance because we had run 10 miles the day before and eaten a dinner that consisted of tortilla chips and alcohol (beer for him, wine for me). But we went into it thinking it would be a fun race that was for a good cause.

We started the race super fast and I quickly dropped behind Kevin, but I could still see him in front of me. I ran the first mile too fast (I always do) and slowed down a bit after that. I got a really bad cramp just before mile 2 and had to walk for about 20 seconds because it was so painful. This is when I stopped being able to see Kevin. I picked it back up but got another cramp around mile 2.75 and had to walk AGAIN! I blame it on the chips and wine. Also, it was getting super hot and the sun was beating down. but I sucked it up and sprinted to the finish.

I crossed the finish line in 24:44. I missed my PR by 32 seconds (24:12) and I know I would’ve done it if I hadn’t had to walk twice. Kevin was cheering for me at the finish line. He got a PR and finished in 22:30!!! I was so proud of him.

After the race we stuck around for awards and were surprised to find out that I won first place for my age group and Kevin won second for his age group! It was a small race but no, we weren’t the only people in our age group (haha). We got a finisher medal and gold/silver medals as well.

Not bad for having low expectations going into the race! I need to race under no pressure more often!

Here is my weekly workout recap:

  • Monday: 4 mile run (36:42/9:10 pace)
  • Tuesday: 3 mile run (27:35/9:11 pace) + Zumba class (1 hour)
  • Wednesday: Spinning class (1 hour) + 15 minutes of arm work
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: 5 mile run (46:39/9:19 pace)
  • Saturday: 10 mile run (1:31:53/9:11 pace)
  • Sunday: 5K race (24:44/7:58 pace – 4 miles total in 31:35 w/ warm up)
This week begins our 16-week training cycle for our next marathon! I started it off with a 5 mile run this morning before we left the beach. I am going to post our plan this week. I’m so excited to be training again!
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Bike to Work Day!

Hi everyone! Hope you all had a good weekend. Mine was super busy, like usual. I am looking forward to summer break more than ever. I need some serious down time!

Friday was National Bike to Work Day. I only live about 2.25 miles from my school but I have always driven to work. My route to work is on a very busy road where drivers are not respectful to bikers or runners, so I was always afraid to bike to work. In honor of Bike to Work Day, I decided that Friday would be the day to try it!

Since I was afraid to bike on the busy main road, I figured out another way to get to school. It was slightly longer and much hillier, but it took me the back way through nice, calm, neighborhoods. This made me feel much more comfortable. It took me about 13 minutes to go 2.3 miles on the bike. I was a little bit sweaty when I got there, but I had packed supplies and a change of clothes in my backpack so I was able to freshen up without a problem.

After school I was feeling tired, but the ride home refreshed me and actually made me feel better. I really enjoyed biking to work and I think I may have to do it more often!

Kevin also biked to work on Friday. He has a commute of just over 2 miles in the opposite direction of mine. He also enjoyed his ride, and the crazy thing is that it took him LESS time to get there than it normally does when he drives! That’s because his commute is going with traffic, and mine goes against it. I think he will be biking to work more often 🙂

Here is my weekly workout recap:

  • Monday: 4 mile run (37:08/9:16 pace) + Zumba class (1 hour)
  • Tuesday: 5 mile run (46:31/9:18 pace)
  • Wednesday: Spinning class (1 hour) + 20 minutes of arm work
  • Thursday: 3 mile run (28:00/9:20 pace)
  • Friday: Bike to work (4.6 miles round-trip, total time- 36:32)
  • Saturday: 9 mile run (1:21:10/9:01 pace)
  • Sunday: Rest!

Wow I had a pretty active week! Hoping to keep up with the Zumba and Spinning next week. Maybe some biking to work, too!

Marathon #4 – The Austin Marathon

This is the fourth post in my marathon recap series. I ran The Austin Marathon on February 14th, 2010. I chose this race because my close childhood friend DJ was living in Austin at the time. I signed up for it on a whim when I found out he would be there during the time of the race. He was recently getting into running, so he decided to run the half marathon that day! I was SO excited!

But a few months after registering I ran the Marine Corps Marathon and then had less than 16 weeks to train for Austin. I found myself very tired after that race and it took a little while to get back into regular running. I also had yet to make a training plan. Then I met this guy:

And fell head over heels in love immediately! Needless to say, I was a little distracted. I found myself staying up later and spending my free time with him. I was happy and loving life. Sometimes life included running and sometimes it didn’t. I didn’t even keep track of my training during these months, so I actually have no idea what I did in terms of running. However, I do know that I started doing more of this:

And ate more of this:

Kevin & my sister at Pat's Steaks in Philly

And then winter hit and so did the blizzard of 2009 in December…

We got about 30 inches of snow and a lot of days off school, and northern Virginia became completely paralyzed. I was loving it!

Christmas break was wonderful, and I enjoyed even more yummy food and drinks, and the company of my amazing boyfriend and his family. I was still running but the days were few and far between. Kevin started biking next to me on my runs, which made me very happy. He knew I was more likely to go out if he was there so he was very supportive and willing to join me (just not on foot… yet). Somehow I managed to do a 20 mile run in January and Kevin biked by my side. It was the best 20 miler ever and it actually felt good!

Later in January I moved out of my apartment and into my friend’s apartment and Kevin came with me! Yes, there was more snow on moving day.

Living together was awesome but it did not motivate me to run. However, I knew I had a marathon coming up and I needed to do it. By this point, my training had consisted of random runs, a long run here and there, and I had about 10 extra pounds on my body. I had decided that I was going to go to Austin and run the race for fun and not worry about my time at all, which took a lot of the pressure off.  I started to feel like I might not die in Austin. But then, MORE SNOW came in early February!

We got another 30 or so inches and once again, northern Virginia was paralyzed. I had almost two weeks of snow days and 2 hour delays and running was pretty much impossible. Where I moved to did not have a treadmill like my old apartment and I didn’t belong to a gym. So I just enjoyed the snow and tried not to worry.

The snow finally stopped and before I knew it I was on a plane to Austin. I flew in on Friday, and the race was on Sunday. When I got there DJ picked me up from the airport and we stopped at a scenic area to look over Lake Austin and the 360 Bridge.

It was beautiful! After that we got some dinner at an amazing brewery that I can’t remember the name of, and hit up the grocery store to get food supplies for the next few days. We also got some medicine, because I was feeling sick and super congested. We went back to his house that he was sharing with his 3 roommates and passed out on an air mattress.

The next morning we woke up and went to the expo downtown to pick up our race materials and walk around a little bit. It was awesome getting to take DJ to his first expo. He was loving all the free stuff and all the passionate runners that were there. After the expo we enjoyed the nice weather (so much better than the freezing temperatures and snow in Virginia!) and wandered around. We visited the Capitol Building and stood where the finish line would be the next day!

We didn’t want to walk too much because we knew we would be running the next day and I knew I would get a nice tour during the race. We went back to home to make a pre-race dinner and get our race stuff ready for the morning!

And then because I still wasn’t feeling very well, we passed out early… or at least I tried to. I was on the air mattress in the corner of DJ’s living room and since it was a Saturday night, his roommates came home late and continued the party in there. All I have to say is thank God for earplugs!

The next morning we woke up super early and got ready! DJ was so nervous and I was trying to make him feel better and more confident. This wasn’t just his first half marathon, this was his first race EVER! He has a go big or go home attitude!

I wasn’t nervous this time because I had removed the usual pressure from myself and told myself to enjoy it. I wasn’t even wearing my Garmin because it was broken at the time, but I didn’t care. That was a first for me!

  

DJ and I ate our Clif Bars and bananas and headed out to the start. We parked in a parking garage downtown then walked over. It was freezing outside and we had an hour to wait, so we huddled inside an open Starbucks along with lots of other runners. Finally it was time to head to the start line!

Since we were running different races we were in different corrals, so we wished each other good luck and said good bye. I went a few corrals up and he was behind me.

The race began and I loved it immediately. I felt so free running without knowing my pace or time. I had no worries and I kept the pace pretty slow and steady. I made sure to look around and take in the surroundings, because I have forgotten to do that in past races when I am focused on running.

 

The course was great and there were bands along the way to keep us pumped up. It was hilly at times, though! I threw off my long sleeved shirt not long after starting to run.

    

Right around mile 9 I heard someone call my name. It was DJ! He had caught up with me and was looking great. It was so great to see him and I was so proud of how well he was doing. We talked for a minute then he went ahead.

A little while later I got a text from him that he had finished in 2:10! Amazing time for a first half marathon!

Then he got some food, stretched, and waited for me to finish. The middle of the race for me was pretty uneventful. I was holding a steady pace and feeling fine. I was enjoying the scenery and all the spectators. I actually took the random food that people gave out for the first time during a race. I did decline the shots of whiskey and beer, though 🙂

At mile 22 it started to hurt but I pushed on. I just kept my pace slow and steady and told myself “Just keep running, just keep running”

Mile 25-26 were the hardest for me mentally. I kept pushing through and telling myself it would be over soon. Finally I saw the sign for mile 26!

I put a smile on my face and pushed as hard as I could for the last .2 miles.

 

I crossed the finish line in 4:32:07 and couldn’t be happier about it! I also got to see DJ right at the finish line cheering from the side!

It wasn’t my fastest marathon but it wasn’t my slowest either. It was an awesome, fun race for me! I quickly found DJ and we celebrated our accomplishments.

By this point it was very warm and we were HUNGRY! So we grabbed some Pita Pit and scarfed it down, then went back to DJ’s house for showers and naps. I woke up stiff and hungry again, so we ordered huge pizzas and fries and enjoyed every bite. We went to bed early that night because we knew we had a fun filled day planned the next day.

The next morning (Monday) we woke up bright and early to head downtown. Our plan was to celebrate by hitting up a bunch of bars in Austin. DJ was having a little trouble walking….

His hip flexors were really bothering him after the race. I felt bad, but it was also funny to watch him try to walk around!

I was on a mission to find some TEQUILA and some good Mexican food! And I definitely fulfilled my mission.

We had a great time on our little ‘bar tour’ of Austin. It is an awesome, lively, unique city that I can’t wait to visit again.

DJ has been one of my best friends since we were in second grade. Through the last 16 years we have remained close even though we didn’t always live close. I was so happy to be able to share this experience with him. I will never forget our race weekend together!

When I ran Austin I had already signed up for marathon #5. I knew exactly which race I needed to do next. It was a big one- THE NEW YORK CITY MARATHON! The best race experience of my life! That amazing story will be coming soon!

Marathon #3 – The Marine Corps Marathon

This is the third post in my marathon recap series. My third marathon was the Marine Corps Marathon on October 25th, 2009. This race starts in Arlington, Virginia and takes you all throughout Washington D.C.  I was excited about this race because it was a large race with a lot of spectator support, similar to my first marathon in Philadelphia. It was also close to where I lived which meant I would have friends there, and that was very important to me.

For marathon #3 I decided to try a different style of training. I had really been enjoying cycling outside with my new bike, and since I was signed up for an October marathon, I would be training during the summer. I thought it was a perfect time to try the Run Less Run Faster style of training, which has three challenging quality runs a week with cross-training in between. I liked this because I became very burnt out with my last training cycle that had me running 5 or 6 days a week. I liked the idea of running three times a week with no ‘junk’ miles. I would be doing one day of speedwork on the track, one tempo run, and one long run. Each run had a target pace that I determined from a chart in the book, based off my previous marathon time.

I started my training in early July while I was on vacation at the beach in Ocean City, New Jersey. It was hot but I loved being able to run by the ocean. My first long run was 13 miles. I didn’t know if I would be able to pull it off because I had not run that far since my last marathon in May, but I did and it felt amazing. The next few months of training went very well. I got all my runs in and was running faster than the suggested paces in the book’s chart. Since I was only running three days a week and it was summertime, it was easy to fit it all in and I liked having flexibility in my schedule. I also loved having time (and energy!) to spend on cycling and strength training.

During this training cycle I managed to run 20 miles three times, and it boosted my confidence a lot. I felt prepared and ready to P.R. at this race. My secret goal was to run a sub four hour marathon, but I told myself I would be happy to do better than last time, when I finished in 4:15:11.

The day before the race came finally and I went to my friend Ashley’s house in Arlington to spend the night, since she lived near the start of the race. Ashley was the one who met me at mile 20 of my first marathon and she was planning to meet me at mile 23 of this one. I was also excited because three of my other friends were running the 10K that was happening that morning as well. Cynthia (you may remember her from the Country Music Marathon in Nashville), my friend Lori from Penn State, and my friend Hani who teaches with me.

We went to the expo and got back to Ashley’s house later than expected. We finally ate dinner (homemade pizza) around 8 p.m. This made me extremely worried because I like to eat dinner early, 6:00 at the latest, the night before a big race to avoid digestion issues. I went to bed and before I knew it the alarm was going off. Ashley, Lori, Cynthia and I were all staying together, so we got ready and went to the metro to ride to the start.

The 10K and the marathon started in different spots, so we said our goodbyes and I went to wait in my corral all alone.

I was so excited for this race. I felt extremely prepared and energized. I knew I was stronger than ever and I was ready to PR. The weather was perfect and I couldn’t wait to get started already!

When the starting ceremony began I was very emotional. This race is put on by the Marine Corps, so they had a tribute to our troops and to America. There were airplanes and fireworks, and I couldn’t help but get teary eyed.

And then we were off! I couldn’t believe that I was running my third marathon less than a year after running my first one! I felt great the entire first half of the race. I knew that to run the race in 4 hours I would need to maintain a 9:09 pace, and I was averaging about 8:50 until that point.

In the back of my mind I knew I should not have been running so fast, but I felt so good that I couldn’t help it. It didn’t feel fast, it felt comfortable, so I went with it. The course was great and very scenic. It was pretty hilly when we were in Virginia, but when we crossed into Washington D.C. I loved running by all the monuments, the Capitol Building, and the White House.

It was around mile 16 that I started to feel the effects of my speed. I had heard so many stories about not going out too fast and I was angry at myself for getting caught up in the moment. I was hurting bad. I did manage to take this picture of the Washington Monument as I ran past it though.

At this point around mile 17 I texted Ashley that I was hurting and that I needed her. I slowed down my pace a bit, but kept running until around mile 19 when I started to walk for the first time. I kept a run/walk pattern for a while and watched the 4 hour pacers run by me. That motivated me to pick it up again. Mile 23 seemed so far away. I just wanted to see Ashley!

Finally I saw her and I immediately started crying. I told her how happy I was to see her and she was my supportive yet silent cheerleader. She knew that just having her next to me was just what I needed. I told her I didn’t want to walk, but around mile 25 I started losing control of my breathing and I had to walk for a minute. I couldn’t take a full breath and it was making me panic. This same thing happened during my first marathon at the end. Finally, I saw the mile marker for mile 26…. right before A HILL!!! Why oh why did they put a hill at the end of the race? I know it’s the Marine Corps Marathon, but we are not all Marines!

I held onto Ashley’s hand tight, pushed up the hill and crossed the finish line in 4:07:43. Not under four hours, but still a PR of over 7 minutes! I was proud! I went through the finish chute and a Marine gave me my medal and helped me over to the food and water. I was feeling very weak and needed to sit down ASAP.

Then we found Hani! She had finished her first 10K and had been standing right before the finish. She was apparently calling my name and tried to jump in to run with me, but a race official stopped her. I had no idea she was calling my name because I was so focused on getting across that finish line.

I told Ashley thank you a million times for meeting me at mile 23. She has truly been such an amazing friend when it comes to supporting me and my running. She is one of the few that understand how important it is to me.

I was happy with both of my cheerleaders by my side!

We very slowly made our way to the Rosslyn metro station, which was painful because it was almost a mile from the finish! Once I got back to Ashley’s I said goodbye then made the 20 mile drive down 95 south to my house in Woodbridge. There was a lot of traffic (like always) and all I wanted was some food, a shower, and my bed. Once I got back into my area I stopped at Chipotle and was confronted with a line that wrapped around the store and out the door! I was wearing my medal and ran into another runner that was also wearing his. We joked that we should be allowed to go to the front of the line because we had just run 26.2 miles. Nobody else thought it was funny 🙂 I waited in line anyway because I really wanted my Chipotle! I got a huge burrito, guacamole and chips, went home and devoured it all with my medal still on.

I think it’s my coolest medal yet! Nice job Marine Corps!

I learned a lot from this race, and not going out too fast is something I am still working on. I have yet to run my sub four hour marathon but I know I will someday. The best part of the race was having my friends there supporting me and realizing how far I had come as a runner. It was an awesome experience!

When I ran this race I had already signed up for my fourth one, the Austin Marathon on February 14th, 2010! My friend DJ was living there and I couldn’t help but sign up for it and use it as a way to visit him in Austin. There was just one issue- the race was less than 16 weeks away, which meant not a lot of time to recover and train… AND, I was about to start dating my now fiance, which was a little bit of a distraction to say the least. Stay tuned for that story 🙂

Out of My Comfort Zone – Zumba

Today after school I tried Zumba for the first time. I wrote before about how I want to take my month off from training to try new things, and after last week’s successful spinning class experience I was feeling adventurous. I am a teacher, and our guidance counselor invited a Zumba instructor to my school to have a class with the teachers. About 13 other teachers came and it was SO MUCH FUN!

I was a little nervous about it at first, because I knew that Zumba is a Latin dance based fitness class and I am VERY uncoordinated and have zero rhythm. I also underestimated how much of a workout it would be! I ran this morning (4 miles) and I was really feeling it in my legs this afternoon. They may have also been a little tired from hours of dancing in heels at the wedding on Saturday night…. 🙂

Within 10 minutes I felt much less intimidated and was starting to sweat up a storm! Our instructor was full of energy and her personality helped me loosen up a bit. I just tried to follow her lead and keep my body moving. I couldn’t quite match her awesome sexy moves but I tried! She played all Spanish music which was fun and different. Before I knew it the hour was up and all the teachers were sweaty and (most) were smiling!

It was awesome to try another new type of exercise. I am learning that I do like to do things other than running! The instructor is going to continue to come every Monday and some Thursdays, and I am going to try to keep going. We are also planning to go to spin class again this Wednesday, and I can’t wait!

Rainy Run

Good morning! I don’t know what the weather is like today where you live, but here in Northern Virginia it is all RAIN! I just got back from an 8 mile run and when I left it was drizzling. By the time I got the halfway point it was full out pouring! The roads started flooding immediately and I found myself unable to avoid huge puddles.

I didn’t mind though. It was actually kind of nice to be outside running in the rain. It took me a while to feel that way again after I was traumatized by the New Jersey Marathon a couple years ago, but now I enjoy the occasional rainy run. Especially when I run into things like THIS!

Wow, that turtle was huge and had a very scary face! I saw it at the end of my run right by my apartment. Look at those nails!

Even though I enjoyed the rain I obviously wasn’t thinking when I left, because I didn’t realize that it was a bad day to wear a white shirt! My clothes were glued to me when I got back home and very see-through (hello black sports bra!)

   

Attractive!

I am going to a wedding tonight so I most likely won’t be running tomorrow. Here is my weekly workout recap:

  • Monday: 4 mile run (38:00/9:30 average pace)
  • Tuesday: 3 mile run (27:37/9:12 average pace) + 25 minutes of arm and core work
  • Wednesday: Spinning Class (1 hour) + 20 minutes of arm and core work
  • Thursday: Rest… Spinning killed me!
  • Friday: 5 mile progression run (Mile splits – 8:58, 8:46, 8:42, 8:38, 8:09, Total time 43:13) + 15 minutes of arm and core work
  • Saturday: 8 mile run (1:12:57/9:07 average pace)
  • Sunday: Rest (most likely)

I just ran the Country Music Marathon two weeks ago, so I am keeping my mileage lower than usual to let my body recover. So far so good! I am still trying to do one longer run per week because we are started a new training cycle in two weeks. Our first long run will be 12 miles, so I wanted to build back up to that slowly so that I can ease back into it without injury.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Out of My Comfort Zone – Spinning

On Wednesday night I went to my first spin class. I have wanted to try it for a while and when I joined my gym in January I was excited to see they offered spin classes regularly. However, with running 5 days a week and higher mileage than ever before, I felt like I didn’t have the time or extra energy to spend on things like spinning. Now that I have a break from marathon training (my next cycle starts on May 30th), I knew that now would be the perfect time to give it a try. I was hoping that I would like it and get into the routine of going to classes so that I continue it during the next cycle of training. I know that cross-training is important but it always gets pushed to the back burner, because running is my true love and it’s what I enjoy doing the most.

Well, after my first spin class I am excited to share that my first love may have some competition. I LOVED it!!!! Kevin and I went in feeling nervous and inexperienced. I had heard stories about how tough it is, how you drip sweat the entire time and how it pushes your legs and body to complete exhaustion. I learned that all of that was true within the first 10 minutes of the hour long class. Our instructor was super helpful and motivating. She played awesome music and made encouraging comments the entire time. She taught us about the different hand and body positions, resistance levels, jumps, sprints, intervals, and everything else cycle-related. It was very, very challenging and it made me feel strong and invigorated. The hour went by quickly and we left totally energized and in love with spinning.

I’m so glad that I went out of my comfort zone to try something new. I really want to make spin classes a part of my routine. I think if I went to even one class a week it would improve my running and make me stronger overall. I’m looking forward to summertime when school is out and I can go to some morning classes. I already can’t wait to go again!

The next “out of my comfort zone” challenge that I will be trying is Zumba. There is a lady coming to school at 4 pm on Monday to do Zumba with the teachers. I’m excited to try it. I feel like I am discovering a whole new world of exercise beyond running!