Tag Archives: Washington D.C.

Light the Way 5K 2013

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Last year my colleagues and I participated in the Light the Way 5K, a run/walk that raises money for  the Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind. This year the “Laps 4 Lilly” team joined together again to support a fellow teacher’s granddaughter who was born blind. Lilly is almost a year and a half now, and is the sweetest little girl you will ever meet. She will be able to use Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind’s services soon, which is exciting!

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Last year some of us ran the race and others walked (including myself since I was only 2 weeks post partum).  This year we all decided to walk together. The run started at 8:00 a.m. and the walk started at 8:45, so we all met at a local Target then headed up to DC around 7:45 . We thought we had plenty of time, but once we got in the city we realized that all of the roads that led to parking garages and lots were closed off for the run that had already started. We didn’t realize this since we had gotten there earlier the year before when some of us were running. After scrambling to find all of our cars street parking we finally made it to Nationals Stadium where the race was taking place. We got there just after the walk started, so we were a little late- but it was okay!

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The walk took us around the stadium and then down by the water. It was a perfect, beautiful day, and our lime green “Laps 4 Lilly” shirts brightened up the streets.

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We spent the whole walk talking to each other and laughing- we hardly ever get to talk about non-school things so it was such a nice change! It seemed like it hadn’t been very long before we were heading towards the finish. It went by so fast. The race ended with a victory lap around the stadium, and we were greeted by Lilly’s grandma Karen holding our team banner on the way in.

It’s always cool to walk around an empty stadium 🙂

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We had to take a picture by the Nationals mural on the wall- just like last year when Kevin was only 2 weeks old. WOW, he has definitely grown!

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Once we completed our lap around the field we went back the start area to hang out and find our friends. We let the babies play a bit, listened to some live music, and took a group picture like we did last year. They also gave us awesome swag bags filled with tons of food!

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It was another wonderful walk for Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind and Little Miss Lilly! I am honored to be a part of it!

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ROC Race 5K (Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge)

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Today Kevin and I had a blast running the ROC Race (Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge) in DC!

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The ROC Race is a new-ish race series that has been popping up around the country. A few months ago Kevin saw it being advertised on Facebook and showed it to me. I knew we had to do it! It looked like so much fun, with 12 game show inspired obstacles that included moon bounces, slip and slides, a wrecking ball, and more!

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Obviously this was a “fun run” and our main goal was to run together, have fun doing the obstacles and enjoy the experience. It was untimed too, so we weren’t worried at all about running a good time. Plus, we saw a video of the race and it looked like a lot of standing around and waiting in line at the obstacles. We knew it would be more of a relaxed vibe. They also encouraged runners to wear costumes!

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Kevin was very excited about this and decided to wear his Waldo costume from a couple Halloweens ago. I was going to wear my Wenda costume but it was too small :(. We were in the 9:30 a.m. wave, so we didn’t have to rush out the door too early in the morning which was nice. We chose the AM session and were assigned that wave, and it worked out perfectly.

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Even Kevin wanted in on the costume action!

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First things first, we had to drop off the baby at my friend Ashley’s house. She lived nearby where the race was taking place and offered to take him so we could do the race together. It was so weird to go to a race with Kevin and without the baby!

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When we arrived around 8:45 I left my phone in the car, since I knew there were a couple of water obstacles and didn’t want to risk it getting damaged. So I don’t have any photos from the race itself- just before and after- but they should be posting the official race photos soon. I know the photographers got some good ones! I did wear my Garmin though, only because I wanted to keep track of how much time we had before our start and I was curious to see how long it took us to get through the whole thing.

We walked over to the start and saw a lot of people, many in costume and in big color-coordiated teams, gathered there. I knew this was a huge race because they had waves every half an hour from 8:00 a.m. until 6:30 p.m.  I wasn’t sure how well organized they would be with so many people and considering it’s a pretty new race, but I was definitely impressed. Within each wave were “mini-waves” of 50-100 people and they released one every 5 minutes or so. They handled the crowds well and were strict about how many people they let into each mini-wave. They checked out bibs to make sure we were coming at the right time. This really helped with overcrowding on the course and at the obstacles!

At 9 a.m. they were letting people in the 9:00 and 9:30 wave into the corrals so we went ahead and got in line early. After waiting for a few waves to go we were off and running at 9:20. We ran for a few minutes and got to the front of our pack before hitting the first obstacle: The Concree-stadores. Basically a ton of waist-high barriers that you have to jump over. Not too bad, but definitely got my heart rate up!

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After a little more running we came across the Gorilla Bars, which were just like monkey bars on a playground… except that the bars were super big and slippery. I made it across four of them before I fell off. I tried to jump back up and continue but I couldn’t get a good grip!

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The next obstacle was a wall that you had to climb up and over. There was a short option and a tall option. I almost took the short option because I remembered when I did the Warrior Dash a couple years ago I was really scared at the top of the wall I climbed and almost couldn’t get back down. I faced my fear and did the tall option anyway! It really wasn’t that tall 🙂

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The next obstacle was the Tight Rope Traverse, which was crossing a water pit while walking across a rope. Again, they had a short and long one and I chose the long one (this time by accident, but it was no big deal). This one was fun!

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The Belly Flop Drop was awesome! We climbed up an inflatable slide using a rope, then flopped down the other side. I didn’t belly flop though, I went down on my butt which ended up not being the best choice (use your imagination for that one) and I’m pretty sure I flashed some people :).

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In between the obstacles people were running, but a lot of people were walking too. It was so laid back and relaxed and I loved it! I wanted to run because I was excited about the next obstacles, but we also took it easy at times. Kevin was feeling really hot in his long sleeved cotton shirt, so we walked a few times so he didn’t overheat (it was warm out!)

The next obstacle was the Tire Mile. I am the most uncoordinated, clumsy person so I knew I would fail at this… and I did. I definitely tripped and fell. Haha! Of course Kevin went through like a graceful athlete.

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The next one was one of my favorites- a huge moon bounce. It was super long and I bounced my way through it, on my feet, on my butt, doing rolls, etc. It was SO MUCH FUN!

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Up until this point Kevin and I were sweaty but still relatively dry. All that changed with the next obstacle- the Aqua Drag. This was basically like a huge slip and slide that ended with a pool that you fall into. Kevin went flying through it and landed in the pool at the end, while I only made it about 3/4 of the way before stopping? Haha. We were totally soaked afterwards though! It actually felt great!

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Next up was the Tarzan Swing. I wasn’t sure about this one because my upper body strength is zero. I had visions of myself falling into the muddy water below. But somehow I made it across fine. I just held on for dear life and tried to tuck my legs up super high.

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The next one was their ‘mystery obstacle’ which was called Foam of Fury. It was kind of like another slip and slide only with foam everywhere. Except when we did it there wasn’t any foam. I think they were having a problem with it because it seemed like some people were working on the machine. I didn’t care though, it was fun to do it again and get wet.

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And then it was time for the wrecking ball! This was actually the first obstacle we had to wait for, and we only waited for a few minutes. The announcer said that only about 20 people had made it across so far that day without falling. I knew I definitely wouldn’t be one of them. My balance is terrible and just looking at what I was supposed to walk across made me dizzy. I surprised myself by actually making it about halfway through on the wet, slippery surface before losing my balance and falling in. It wasn’t even the wrecking ball that got me!! Kevin was behind me and fell in too. The water was 4 feet deep so we were completely submerged. It was awesome 🙂

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Last but definitely not least- the world’s largest inflatable slide! We waited for this one too, but I was super glad that we only had to stop and wait for 2 of the 12 obstacles. Kevin and I climbed up together and then went down the other side. It actually was way bigger and steeper than I thought it would be, and we went FAST! It took my breath away! There was a photographer at the bottom and I hope he got some good pictures because Kevin and I were both having so much fun. You actually slide right through the finish line at the bottom, which was really cool. Once again, we got completely soaked.

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When we were done we could not stop talking about how much fun we had. We were soaked and happy. My Garmin said we had covered 2.75 miles total in 39:45, but it didn’t even feel like it with all the obstacles we did. We hung out for a little while then made our way back to the car to change into dry clothes.

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So wet!

After we were dry we headed back to my friend’s house to get the baby and have some lunch with her and her new fiance. It was a really great day spent with people I love!

This race was seriously SO much fun. I would definitely recommend it to others, and I want to do it again when it comes back. If you are looking for a well organized, extremely entertaining, and laid back 5K race this one is for you!

Biggest Loser (almost) 10K

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So… I am a huge fan of the Biggest Loser. I love watching the transformations every season and it never fails to inspire and motivate me. When I heard that they were having a Biggest Loser race for the first time here in D.C. I was excited. I signed up for the 10K and Kevin signed up for the 5K.

Now, I try to keep it real here on the blog, so I have to be honest and say that this race needs a LOT of work and improvement. I understand it was the first year and that’s always tough, but some of the issues I experienced today were really not okay.

Let’s start with the positive! First of all, I love the message of the Biggest Loser races. It drew a huge crowd of people- all different shapes, sizes, and abilities- some completing their first race and some seasoned veterans. It was awesome to see such a variety of people come together. I also loved that there were former contestants there. They had them placed at “inspiration stations” around the course and it was really cool to see them as I ran. Finally, they had some good swag- a nice technical shirt and even a medal! Pretty rare for 5K and 10K races.

Kevin with Biingo from last season

Kevin with Biingo from last season

Alright, now onto to the not so good stuff. It all started the day before the race when we made the long, traffic-filled trek into D.C. to pick up our packets. We live about 40 miles from the city now that we moved further south last summer, and the ride is never easy especially on a Saturday. I was kind of surprised that we had to come pick up our race packets the day before for only a 5K/10K race, because usually shorter races have race-day pickup. The website said it was mandatory though, so we drove over an hour into the city to get our stuff, and then drove back home. This wouldn’t have been a huge deal if one of the first things I saw the next day at the race was a huge tent that said “PACKET PICK UP.” Really? If I had known this option was available I would have greatly appreciated not having to drive to D.C. two days in a row with an infant who doesn’t love his new car seat.

So anyway, we headed up to D.C. again on Sunday morning. A couple of my friends were running too, so after we parked (right next to the start line!) at RFK Stadium we met up with them.

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Here was the second issue. The race started at 9 a.m. In mid July. By the time we arrived at 8 a.m. it was already HOT and humid and the sun was just starting to peek out of the clouds. 9 a.m. is just way too late for a summer race. It would have been better if it had started at 7:00 or 7:30. I definitely would have preferred an earlier wake-up call over a hot race.

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Despite the heat I still wanted to try as best as I could. I felt good and I was physically and mentally ready to race. I decided to aim for an 8:00/mile pace since that would put me close to a PR (which is 49:35). They did a wave start and I was in the first one, so I was able to start off at a good pace and not get stuck behind anyone.

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The course was not very scenic since it was entirely in the parking lot surrounding RFK Stadium. I’m not sure if they didn’t get permits to have it on the streets or what, but it was tough to run a winding, confusing, and unshaded route through a parking lot on a very hot day- even worse that the 10K runners had to do it twice! The mile marker signs were also incorrect (I ran past ‘mile 2’ right after my Garmin beeped for mile 1), and sometimes it was difficult to see where the course was going because the cones marking it off would start and stop. Regardless of these challenges combined with the heat, I stayed on pace pretty well.

  • Mile 1 – 8:00
  • Mile 2 – 7:56
  • Mile 3 – 8:06

I hit the halfway point at 24:45- a perfect split to run a PR. But I knew as soon as I began my second loop that it wasn’t happening. With rising temperatures and no cloud cover anymore, I was losing steam. For a brief second I considered stopping at 5K, but then I decided I didn’t want to be a quitter. I ran through a “mister” that didn’t really seem to be working and it didn’t help. I was starting to feel overheated and my head felt like it was going to explode. I knew racing fast in such high temperatures (almost 90!) was not a smart decision so I started to slow a bit to protect myself. I’ve dealt with heat exhaustion during a race before and it was not pretty. I passed Kevin somewhere in mile 3 and stopped to talk to him for 30 seconds or so, to tell him what he already knew… “It’s so hot! This course is terrible!” He took this super attractive picture of me 🙂

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The rest of the second half of the course was a hot mess. I started to run into 5K walkers and it got very confusing where the 10K runners were supposed to go. There were a few times that our course criss-crossed with another point on the course, which was actually really dangerous and I saw a few runners collide with one another. At more than one point, I actually had to stop running to figure out where to run next. There were no signs, no cones, no course marshals, and nobody else around except for other confused 10K runners. In fact, during the 5th mile I ran with some other people for a bit until we realized we were going the wrong way and had to turn around… that is definitely a first for me. I continued to get slower and slower and pretty much ran the most pathetic second half of a race ever compared to the first.

  • Mile 4 – 9:51 <– talking to Kevin
  • Mile 5 – 10:28 <– got lost
  • Mile 6 – 10:54 <– dying

I started hearing people say, “You only have a half mile left!” shortly after I passed the 5 mile mark. I thought there’s no way they were right since I should’ve had over a mile left. I kept running and started getting closer to the finish line, looking at my Garmin in confusion, because it said 5.5 miles. Right before the finish, there was a lady standing at the split telling 10K runners to stay left and 5K to go to the finish, so I thought maybe they had the 10K people go on a little out and back to get to 6.2 miles before finishing. I went to the left where she was directing me. All of a sudden I heard Kevin yelling my name telling me that (once again) I was going the wrong way. That split was for people going out on their second loop, and that I was supposed to finish now. I told him there’s no way- I had only run 5.54 miles! I had no idea what had happened.

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  • Finish Time – 50:12 (5.54 miles) / 9:03 average pace

Afterwards I tried to figure out if I had done something wrong or if it was the course that was messed up. I talked to a few other runners and they all said they had run about 5.5 to 5.6 miles instead of a full 10K. We had no idea where the discrepancy was, but it could’ve been anywhere due to the poorly marked and managed course- frustrating! I found Kevin and the baby and we tried to find a shady spot to sit and wait for my friends.

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Wearing his 5K medal 🙂

Danielle came through a few minutes later looking strong. This girl always sprints at the end of every race. She is awesome!!!

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Then Denice came through after her. We all posed for a picture together nice and sweaty, then decided we were out of there and left.

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So at the end of the day, when course results were posted, it said I ran a 10K in 50:12, 8:06 average pace. Since it wasn’t a full 10K I cannot claim those results obviously, but I’m sure a lot of people feel the same way that I do about that!

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It was also a sad day for my iPod, which shattered its screen when I dropped it right before the race started 😦 RIP iPod.

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Overall, I was pretty disappointed with the race. I hope that the organizers of this race will take everyone’s constructive criticism to come back bigger and better next year!

Nike Women Half Marathon DC

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A little over a month ago after the Rock & Roll DC Half I swore off big, corporate races. Then I ran the Nike Women’s Half Marathon DC and was reminded that it is possible to do it right. I LOVED this race. It was exactly what I needed to get excited about running and racing again.

I entered the lottery for this race back in November along with my friend Danielle. Danielle got into running last summer and she was hoping to make the Nike Women’s Half her first half marathon. We were so excited when we were both picked in December. But she was also very nervous, so I promised her I would run the whole thing with her. I’ve run with a few friends in their first half marathons, and nothing makes me happier than to help them accomplish their goals. Plus, the finisher’s medal for this race was a Tiffany’s necklace! I couldn’t wait!

Danielle, Kevin, Baby K and I all headed to the “Expotique” in Georgetown on Saturday afternoon. I have to admit that I didn’t have the best first impression of the race at this point. Traffic was crazy getting into the area, and it seemed like an odd and crowded place to hold an expo for 15,000 people. Then we went down to where the expo was located and we saw a HUGE line of women waiting to get in. We somehow found the end of the line and waited 45 minutes just to get through the line and to the big tent where we could pick up our bibs. It was hot and we weren’t prepared to wait outside with the baby for that long.

Luckily once we got to the tent my opinion changed. I was happy to be there and determined to enjoy the experience. We picked up our bibs and headed to the second tent where the expo was being held.

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The expo was unlike any other expo I have been to before. It was small, only featured a few outside vendors, and was mostly based around the Nike company. But I thought it was awesome. It was really interactive and entertaining, and a nice change from the other expos I have been to recently.

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Nike had a lot of cool giveaway opportunities, like this card that you could swipe at different locations to see if you won a free pair of shoes. They also gave away cute bracelets.

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There was a lot to look at, like this cool course map and a huge wall you could sign.

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I thought it was cool how they took over Georgetown, with running signs everywhere!

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Even with all the women, there were a couple of my favorite boys there 🙂

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I left the expo very excited for the race. We went home, ate dinner, and I went to bed feeling relaxed. I was loving that this race was all about Danielle and not about me. I was focused on helping her get to the finish line, not stressed about getting a PR for once. That felt good.

I woke up at 4 a.m. the next day to get ready to run. I got dressed in my blue and yellow for Boston, ate my oatmeal, drank my coffee, and woke up the baby to get ready to go.

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We left the house at 5:00 to head north to pick up Danielle. We decided to drive into DC this time rather than take metro, thinking that it would be easier since this was a smaller race. We were right. We arrived at 6:00 a.m., one hour before the race start. There was no traffic and we were dropped off right at the start. Kevin was able to find parking a block away. Perfect!

Danielle and I walked around the start area, taking pictures at all the places they had set up, used the porta potties which had NO line, sipped on cups of water and Nuun that they had set up, and got EXCITED!

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Eventually, it was time to say goodbye to Kevin and get into our corral. I’m not going to lie, I was more than a little nervous about leaving them at the start/finish area, thinking about what had happened at Boston. But I knew there was increased security including bomb sniffing dogs, so I felt better. It’s still ridiculous that there needs to be bomb sniffing dogs at a race, but I guess that is what it’s come to.

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We listened to the National Anthem and had a moment of silence for Boston. I could see Shalane Flanagan and Joan Benoit Samuelson up there and it was awesome.

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Right on time, we were off and running!

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15,000 women (and some men too!) on the streets of D.C.!

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I have to say that from start to finish this race was just enjoyable. Even though the beginning was crowded and my knee hurt a little bit, I was loving the course, being with Danielle, and feeding off the energy from all the women.

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It was just FUN. Nike did a great job designing the course, which went through the National Mall and around there before heading out to Hains Point along the Tidal Basin and back. It was unlike many of the other races I have done in D.C. recently and I really liked it.

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Nike did a great job of planning entertainment in strategic places. They had music from speakers and live bands, including some awesome marching bands, all along the course. They also hung tons of motivational posters.

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You know I loved this one! We run inspired!

You know I loved this one! We run inspired!

When we were running the long out and back portion of the race, these posters were hung every 10 yards or so. Each one said something different. It was very entertaining and kept our mind off of the long out & back we were running.

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Danielle did AWESOME. I’m not going to post splits and things like that, because that’s not what this race was about. It was about her dominating her first half marathon and us enjoying the experience together.

Mile 4.5 and feeling strong!

Mile 4.5 and feeling strong!

She really underestimated her training. She had told me that she hadn’t really been running much and when she did she was stopping to walk a lot. The longest she had run in her training was 8 miles. She ended up blowing me away by not needing to stop and walk at all, except for a few seconds through water stations. She kept setting goals for herself, like no walking until the halfway point. When the halfway point came she didn’t want to walk and kept pushing on. I was so proud of her!

Mile 8.5!

Mile 8.5!

There did come a point where she walked a little bit up a hill, but before the hill was even over she started up again. I was amazed at her strength and determination. She kept telling me she was thinking of her grandfather, who passed away last year, and that kept her going. What was really awesome was that we passed the 10 mile mark TWENTY MINUTES faster than she had run the Army 10 miler last October. That is huge!

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Mile 11.5 and smiling!

All of a sudden we were back near the Capitol Building and I knew we were close to the end. The course had us run right by the finish line around mile 11 which was a little torturous, but I knew we only had to run down to the capitol, run a big square, and then make our way back to the finish.

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Danielle was DONE at this point. Truthfully, I was too because my knee was killing me. I kept reminding her that soon she would be finishing her first half marathon, our boys were waiting for us, and so were our necklaces!

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I let Danielle go ahead and I stayed back to capture her crossing the finish line. She finished in 2:38:03 and I was a few seconds behind her. She had predicted that she would finish around 3 hours so we were so shocked at her amazing time!

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We went through the line and got our little blue box, along with our finishers shirts and some food. We put it all into little blue Tiffany’s bags and met up with our boys.

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I am so proud of Danielle. It’s been great to see her journey into running and watch her accomplish her goals. I feel special that I was able to share this experience with her, and I can’t wait until we run the next one- The Divas Half in September!

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This race was a good reminder for me about what races should be like. They are supposed to be fun and a celebration of this hobby I love so much. I think I had lost that mentality recently, and I’m SO glad to have it back. Since this race 2 weeks ago I have had more motivation to get out and run than I have in the last 6 months. I’M BACK!!!

Rock & Roll USA Half Marathon 2013

I have been putting off writing this recap for two weeks because I’m still angry about this race. At first I was  angry about the race itself and the things that went wrong during it. But now that some time has passed I’m more upset with myself and the bad attitude I had while running that I couldn’t shake off. I try to be very honest on this blog and I really want to accurately portray my feelings and the roller coaster that this race was for me. This is a great example of how I am far from perfect and have to work on some things personally. Here we go…

Going into this race I was super excited. I ran it last year when I was 12 weeks pregnant and had a great experience. I ran it the year before (when it was called the National Half Marathon) and I got my half marathon PR. So I had high hopes for this race. I knew I had come so close to PRing at Myrtle Beach the month before and I really wanted to try to get it this time. I felt motivated and ready to push myself again.

We went to the race expo on Thursday night to get the trip in and out of DC out of the way early. I wanted to be able to eat dinner early and relax on Friday night, and that’s exactly what I did… until I realized a little problem. I was planning to go to the race alone because it was going to be cold and possibly rainy. I didn’t want the baby to be out in those conditions so Kevin was going to stay home with him. Then I realized that with the 30 minute car ride to metro, 45 minute metro ride into DC, wait for the start, the actual run itself, the post-run activities, the metro ride home, and the car ride home, I would be gone for at least 6 hours. I knew that especially with the new medicine I started to increase my supply, there was NO WAY I would be able to be away from the baby and/or my pump for that long. Even if I pumped right before I left at 5:30 a.m., the race didn’t start until 7:30, and then I’d have to run 2 more hours with already full breasts (ouch) and then get all the way home. I had a momentary meltdown about this until Kevin said he was going to the race and that the baby would be fine in the stroller under our BOB weather shield. I could feed him before and after the race. After that problem was solved, I felt so much better.

I went to bed early and baby Kevin was good to me and let me sleep through the night. We all got up at 4:45 a.m. and I nursed the baby then got ready while Kevin made me breakfast (oatmeal) and coffee. We packed up everything we needed for the baby and left the house at 5:30. I ate my breakfast on the way. We arrived at the metro station at 6 a.m., bought our tickets and boarded an empty train about 10 minutes later. I was thankful that it was empty because it gave me a chance to nurse the baby in private for the last time before the race. I knew it would be too crazy and crowded at the start and I’d need to wait for a bathroom. After I finished Kevin gave him his formula supplement from the bottle since it hadn’t been very long since I nursed him last and he needed a little more. He was loving his first metro ride!

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As time passed on the train more and more people piled on. Once we arrived at our metro stop around 6:50 it was completely packed. It took 10 minutes  to get out of the station among masses of people. It was sooo crowded. This year there was a new point-to-point course, which was part of the reason we took metro instead of driving. A LOT of other people had the same idea as us. In past years the race started and ended at RFK stadium, which was much more accessible from the highway and easy to find parking. The race still ended there, so we planned to take metro home afterwards. It wasn’t a huge deal, but it definitely made things more chaotic at the start.

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I was very happy to finally find fresh air once we made it outside. We walked over to find bathrooms and noticed that the only porta-potties were actually inside the corrals. Each corral had about 6 porta-potties inside it, which I think was a good idea in theory, but one that wasn’t working very well. I believe there were 30 corrals with supposedly 1,000 people in each one (30,000 people total). Of course people didn’t go in the corral they were assigned to, so the earlier corrals were super crowded and the bathroom lines were SO LONG I couldn’t even find the end of them. I said goodbye to Kevin and the baby at this point and jumped into the crowd to find a bathroom line.

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I went back super far to corral 20-something and just got in a random line. It was 7:10 at this point and the race was starting at 7:30. I ended up waiting in line for 40 minutes and almost peed myself in the process. Finally I used the bathroom, and I was so far back that the corral I had randomly ended up in hadn’t even been released yet. I tried to make my way up to an earlier corral but I could only get as far as #18 before being stopped by a wall of people. It was very frustrating and I knew I was in for an interesting race.

Finally it was our turn to run at exactly 8:00 a.m. I was getting a little nervous about my later start time, since I had last fed the baby at 6:30 and wouldn’t be able to again until 10ish- 3 1/2 hours later. I tried not to worry, because I knew my boobs start feeling uncomfortably full around the 4 hour mark, so I thought it would be fine (enter foreshadowing here…) Once my corral was released I was finally happy again. I was toward the front of my group so all I could see what wide open road in front of me. I tried to settle into a comfortable pace around 8:30/mile and enjoyed looking around at the monuments as I ran down the National Mall. And then… I caught up to the wave in front of me, and all of the waves before that one too. It was like a wall of people that I could not get past no matter how hard I tried. I ran my first mile in 8:40, more than 20 seconds off pace. But I tried not to worry because I knew I had 12 more miles ahead of me. I focused on finding space to get through the people and ran my second mile in 8:20. Better! I kept telling myself the crowd would be thinning soon. It usually does by mile 2/3 of a race like this.

Except it didn’t. Each mile after that was slower than the last. I can’t find my Garmin right now, but I know my third mile was 8:40 again, and my fourth was somewhere around 9:00. During my fourth mile, it was so crowded on the narrow city roads that my pace hit 10:00 at one point and I literally could not go any faster than that because I was stuck behind people. This is when I started getting mad. I knew my chances at getting a PR were gone. I was annoyed because this was not the race I had run last year and the year before. It was obvious that there were too many people for the course. It was insanely crowded for the first 4.5 miles. It wasn’t until this point that I actually wasn’t running right up against someone and had room to breathe. That is crazy! Even NYC wasn’t that crowded at that point in the race.

Anyway, I watched my pace creep up even after the crowd had thinned some because I just didn’t care anymore. I was annoyed and my attitude was terrible. I wasn’t having fun and I was mad that my last chance at a half marathon PR this spring was gone. Every time my watch beeped for another mile I got angry, so I eventually turned it off at mile 7. At this point I started walking whenever I felt like it. My stomach hurt because I was eating Gu instead of Honey Stingers (forgot to get them before the race), and I just didn’t care anymore.

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While I was running I could hear other runners around me having conversations about the same things that were bothering me about the race. As we progressed through the course one thing that was super noticeable was the lack of volunteers. Some of the water tables were vacant, leaving us to have to stop and pour our own water (really!?) and the ones that had volunteers at them were so crowded that the poor volunteers couldn’t keep up and were frazzled. I have never had to stop during a race and wait a full minute for a cup of water. Once again, it seemed like Rock & Roll registered more people that they had the capacity and resources for.

Walking...

Walking…

By mile 10 I was starting to be in pain. Even though it had only been 3 hours since nursing the baby, my boobs were extremely hard and my left one had a huge painful knot in it (thank you Domperidone- it’s been a long time since I’ve been engorged like that). I was wishing I had brought my phone so I could text Kevin, not that he could really come get me or anything. My boobs hurt when I walked, and they hurt when I ran. So I just tried to run so I could finish quicker and get back to the baby to feed him.

Where's Mommy?

Where’s Mommy?

I literally could not wait to be done with this race. While I was being a negative grump, my amazing husband and sweet baby boy were waiting for me at the finish.

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By the time I finished baby was passed out…

I finished in 2:07:09. That is 10 minutes slower than last year when I was 12 weeks pregnant. 16 minutes slower than my time in Myrtle Beach a month prior. 18 minutes slower than my PR. Wahhhh 😦

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After the race I tried to get through the finish area quickly because I just wanted to get away from all the people. I took my metal and put it in my pocket because I didn’t want to wear it. I didn’t take any food or water and just wanted to get out. I was in such a bad mood and was so hard on myself. Looking back on it now it’s really silly, but at the moment all I wanted to do was cry.

I didn’t have my phone and I never saw Kevin at the finish where he said he would be, so I had no idea how to find him. We hadn’t planned it out beforehand, which wasn’t smart, but I didn’t realize how big the race would be this year. I walked to the finish area to look for him, then to the family reunion area under S for my last name. I even went to where we stood last year spectating, thinking maybe he would be there. I couldn’t find him. More time was passing and my boobs were KILLING me. I finally went to the letter S in the reunion area, trying to send him telepathic messages to come find me there. It had been almost 30 minutes since I had finished at this point, and finally it dawned on me to ask someone if I could borrow their phone to call him (duh). I did and finally we were reunited.

I immediately started crying when I saw Kevin, both out of frustration from the race and pain from my boobs. He was so confused because all he knew was that it had taken me longer than we had expected. We went over to a grassy area where I could sit and nurse the baby. It was such a relief- nursing has never felt so good. I had to massage the hell out of my boobs to get the knots out, but I finally started to feel normal emotionally and physically again, as I explained to Kevin what happened. He tried to get me to eat something, but I didn’t feel like it. Again, I was being super hard on myself for no reason.

I finally snapped out of it when my friend Cynthia called me. She had finished the race too and gotten a PR. She was super happy and excited, and I was really truly happy for her too. It made me realize that even though I had a bad experience, not everyone did, and that I just need to move on from it. We met up with her and I finally put on my medal and let myself celebrate the accomplishment of running 13.1 miles.

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If the Myrtle Beach half marathon was an example of how all the elements of a race can come together perfectly, this race was the opposite. There were a lot of things that happened that were out of my control, but I didn’t control the one thing I could have- my attitude. I gave up mentally and let myself be upset and angry. Looking back on it now, I realize how silly that was. I know that every race doesn’t have to be a PR to be enjoyable and fun. I know that not every race is going to be perfect like Myrtle Beach was. I’m disappointed in myself for acting the way I did. I registered for the race because I love running- and somewhere along the way I forgot that.

My biggest fan :)

My biggest fan 🙂

With that being said, I think I am finished with the Rock & Roll race series, along with some of the other big ones as well (ahem, HOT CHOCOLATE races– terrible). This was my 5th Rock & Roll race, and they have changed a lot over the years. I feel like certain race series continue to get bigger and bigger, registering too many people than they can accommodate on the course and at aid stations. It’s like they are money hungry and just want to get as many people as they can, forgetting to pay attention to other details. I just don’t personally enjoy them as much as the smaller, locally run races like Myrtle Beach, Delaware, the Air Force Marathon, and some others I have done recently. I think there are some bigger name races that do it right, like the NYC Marathon and Marine Corps, but those are few and far between these days. I actually wrote a post last year about large vs. small races. If I’m going to pay money to race, I’d much rather do these types of races and have a more enjoyable experience. That’s not to say I won’t ever do a ‘big’ race again. I still want to do the Chicago and Disney Marathons, and some other big ones. I’m also already signed up for the Nike Women’s Half in April and the Divas Half in September. I just need to remember going into these races that there are going to be things I can’t control and I just need to accept that, and focus on what is in my control instead. I am determined to not ruin the experiences for myself, have a better attitude, and have FUN!

Since this race two weeks ago I have only run one time, and that was yesterday with the baby in the stroller. I wanted to wait until I WANTED to run again, rather than force myself to get out there. I felt like I was losing my love of running and that made me incredibly sad. Yesterday the mood finally struck me so I went out without my Garmin, and played fun music on the speaker of my phone, singing to the baby along the way. I stopped when I felt like it to play with the baby, took my time, and had an amazing 3.5ish mile run. It was so nice, and reminded me why I run in the first place.

I don’t have anything that I’m technically training for until this summer when I begin marathon training. I’m running a few 5Ks, a 10K, and a half with my friend (it’s her first one!), but I’m taking a relaxed approach and using this ‘break’ to learn how to run for enjoyment again. No pressure, no expectations, no speed work… just me, the road, the baby in the stroller occasionally. It’s time for a change.

Light the Way 5K

On Saturday, September 29th, my colleagues and I participated in the Light the Way 5K, a charity event that benefits the Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind. We were all part of a team called “Laps 4 Lilly” that raised a total of $2,324! Lilly is my friend’s daughter who was born this past April with a condition that caused her to lose her sight. It was very special to be involved with an event like this for such a precious little baby girl who will benefit from the services that this organization provides!

This event offered both a 5K run and an un-timed 5k “fun walk.” Since I just had Baby K two and a half weeks ago, Kevin and I decided to do the walk with baby in the stroller. Our day started very early where I left off in my Day in the Life post. We were all up, fed, and out the door by 6:30 a.m.! We picked up our friends Mike and Alicia and then headed to my school to meet up with the whole team. After consolidating into less cars to carpool, we went north to Nationals Stadium in D.C. for the race!

When we got to the stadium we parked and I had to change baby Kevin’s diaper in the trunk. I also changed him into his cute Laps 4 Lilly onesie!

It was very exciting to be able to introduce the baby to all of my friends from work. They have all been there for me throughout my entire pregnancy at school and are always so supportive.

After we got all our things together, our big group walked over to the stadium.

We had some time to kill before the run started at 9 a.m. The baby got hungry so I found a little table and bench to sit on so I could feed him. I am getting more and more comfortable breastfeeding in public (with a cover). A mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do!

When I got back, we took a big group photo, and then it was time for the runners to line up!

Baby Kevin was very excited about his big day out!

This race had the 5K runners start at 9:00 and the 5K walkers started at 9:40, once most of the runners had returned. We had a few runners in our group, so we stood by the start and watched them begin their run!

I’m not going to lie, I was more than a little bit jealous of all the runners. I have never attended a race just to walk so this was a new experience for me. Instead of being sad though, I enjoyed the time with my little family and my coworkers, and focused on the reason for the walk- to support an amazing charity and little Lilly.

At the end of the race, the course had the runners loop past us again, so we got to see them one more time before they finished!

     

Kevin went to walk with our friend Hani for a little bit!

As the 5K run was wrapping up, the race organizers got all the walkers lined up for the start of our race.

During the walk itself I was having such a good time taking in the sights of D.C. and the Anacostia River and enjoying my company that I didn’t take any pictures! But I did pull out the camera right at the end of the walk before our ‘victory lap’ around the baseball field.

It was so much fun to walk with our amazing friends Mike and Alicia, who are expecting their own little one (a girl!) this December. We can’t wait for our babies to become good friends 🙂

And of course it was awesome to spend the morning out with my new little family. This was our first event of many together. I can’t wait for more!

The Light the Way 5K was a great event and I am proud to have been a part of it!

NBC4 Health and Fitness Expo

On Sunday Kevin and I went up to D.C. with his sister Kara and her fiance Brandon for the NBC4 Health & Fitness Expo! I had been hearing this expo advertised on the radio and TV for weeks and I love this type of thing, so I really wanted to go. Plus I heard that some of the Biggest Loser contestants would be there and Kevin and I are HUGE BL fans.

When we arrived at the Convention Center I could not believe how big the expo was. I’ve been to tons of race expos and none of them were as big as this was. It was packed with vendors, health organizations, information tables, activity areas, many booths offering a variety of free health screenings (how awesome is that?), and other  free stuff!

We made our way to the stage area where the Biggest Loser Q & A was beginning. On stage were Sarah, from BL 11, Sione from BL 7, and Antone from the past season, BL 12.

It was awesome to see them in person and hear them speak. They all look great and what they have all accomplished is truly amazing!

Antone is our favorite! We love him and wanted him to win. He got second place this past season.

After listening to them speak for a little while we went over to the Biggest Loser booth and found some more past contestants! First we met Ramon (the second runner-up from BL 12). We loved him too because of his motivation and great personality. He made a huge transformation and became an awesome runner in the process. He actually won the Biggest Loser marathon that they had for the contestants that had been voted off, earning his spot in the final 3! He ran it around 5 hours, which is unbelievable. I told him how proud I was of him when he ran the race. Marathons are definitely NOT easy, especially for someone who has lost 150 pounds!

Then we met his girlfriend and another Biggest Loser contestant, Jessica. They met and fell in love on the show – awww 🙂 Jessica was absolutely beautiful and so sweet. She also kicked some butt in the BL Marathon. She told me that her and Ramon will be running the LA Marathon next. I can’t wait to see how they both do!

After the BL excitement we walked around the entire expo and checked out all that it had to offer. We saw so many great things – stations where you could climb your way to the top of the Washington Monument or another famous landmark, Zumba classes, an Urban  Evolution fitness class that uses city-like props to do crazy gymnastics moves, and so much more!

And then we saw this. Really McDonalds? Why are you here at a Health and Fitness Expo with posters of french fries and Big Macs plastered all over your booth?

I thought it was great that NBC4 organized this health and fitness expo for the public for free. One of the things I love about the D.C. area is how active the people are. Everywhere you go in and around the city you see people biking, running, and playing different sports outside. There are tons of fitness clubs and healthy restaurants (lots of vegetarian ones too!) It’s always inspiring and motivating to go to these kinds of events, where health and fitness is a priority and everyone is there to learn how to take better care of themselves. We left with motivation, lots of information, and some great free swag (the mini Larabars were our fave). I can’t wait to go back next year!