When a barre studio opens a mile from your home, you can’t help but be interested. When that studio has a pre-opening special that includes 6 weeks of unlimited barre, you try it out.

I learned a lot during those 6 weeks. The key takeaway was that if you take a break from a rigorous training program your fitness level will decrease. (I know what you’re thinking… but it can be surprising even if you expect it). However, it can increase with practice and hard work. Time to start at the beginning… again.

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no guys, really. 

Barre is wonderful because it incorporates fine toning. It also allows you to be in the driver’s seat when it comes to your workout. You can really push yourself or take it a bit easier. At different times, both were necessary.

In the past I have blogged about the many emotions you experience in a barre class, but this post  is more about how after taking a break from fitness it’s important to reassess your fitness level and goals.

After doing barre for 6 weeks earlier this spring, I realized 2 very important things. The first being that I love fitness and the second is that I need goals. Without a goal on the books, I have a very hard time sticking to a plan.

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Now will I continue the unlimited barre? No. But will I keep it as a means of cross-training to supplement tri and marathon training? Absolutely!

What do you do to supplement your distance training? Do you perform better with long-term goals? Do you love barre?

While providing course support and watching the Rock N’ Roll Marathon/Half Marathon DC on Saturday, it occurred to me that running as a sport is growing in popularity and therefore there are a lot of new runners . With new runners comes new spectators! As a seasoned spectator and race participant, I thought it would be fun to put together a list of some tips on how to best support your friends, family, or co-workers who are running.

  1. Be Supportive! Your loved one signed up for this, so they knew the commitment they were making. Sarcasm and crazy comments can be super funny, but after awhile they become redundant and tiresome. If you want to support your person, support them!

hunger games. moral support

2. Ask what they want. It’s a simple thought but goes very far. Some people want a change of shoes for the end of the race, others need more nuun or a snack and some people just want to know that you’ll be there. If your person needs something, they’ll ask for it. I am still thankful to this day for a friend who ran through DC to bring me a tylenol mid-race. It was a lifesaver. Or when my sister actually fed me clip shot bloks mid-marathon because I didn’t want to get my hands sticky. (Yeah, I’m a brat but my sister is pretty great.)

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Your person is a mess and they need help.

3. Prepare to have some additional cargo. You will be carrying things around. Don’t gripe. Your person is running all the miles. Walking with some extra cargo is good for you. (Well at least that’s how I choose to think about it.) A backpack usually helps too.

4. Be positive! Your person may hate spiral and you could read texts like, “mile 15. it’s all downhill, but not an actual downhill” or “22.5 kill me.” Yes, I have received both of those and many more. Here’s when you bring out your inner cheerleader and pep talk like it’s your job. You need to pick your person up so they can get their butt across that finish line. Once they cross the finish line all bets are off and you can return to your normal human self.

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Keep on trucking… Also Chuck Norris never ran a marathon. 

5. Create a plan. It’s much easier to plan to see your person if they know where you will be. Check out a map and draft a plan. Depending on the race, I prefer to bounce around on a bicycle. However, that’s not always possible. As long as your person knows where to look and what you’ll have on you, you’re solid.

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Make sure your whole group is on board with the plan

6. Hold up a sign!! As a runner, I love the signs. They’re a wonderful distraction and can really help divert your attention from the race. Funnier the better! That’s me below cheering at the 2014 Marine Corps Marathon. This was not funny, more inspirational but it got people smiling!

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You Do LOOK Amazing!

7. Ignore the strange. Your person may say or do things out of character. This is due to nerves, jitters, months of training culminating in one day, or really it could be anything else. Let your person, be the weirdo they need to be today. Also try to ignore any TMI that you may be privy to. Runners don’t always have a filter, you may want to leave your sensitivities off the course.

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If your weird is Ben Stiller weird, I will gladly be your course support. 

8. Cheer. It’s easy to cheer for your person, but what about the people who are running by before they arrive. It can’t hurt to throw out a few, “go runners, you got this, looking good.” Also it’s fun.

deanthomas.cheer

You don’t have to hit Dean Thomas levels of enthusiasm.. Ron seems more appropriate here. 

9. Have Fun! It’s that simple. Your person worked hard and who doesn’t love being outside. Enjoy the experience!

10. Respect the course. As a final note, I’m sharing a personal pet peeve. When spectating, don’t stand on the course. If runners have to move to avoid you, you’re too close. (okay I’ll step off my soapbox now).

What are your tips for spectating during a race? What are your favorite races to cheer at? Do you ever just go to watch a race without supporting someone?

New Years Goals? Wishes? Resolutions?

Better late than never… eh?

A new year is a fresh start. Each year we make promises to ourselves regarding goals for what we hope to accomplish in the new year. Many of these objectives seem more like wishes instead of realistic goals. In the past I have made resolutions and I have not. This year I decided to put pen to paper (more like fingers to the keyboard) and create some quantifiable and qualitative “resolutions.”

  1. Learn how to make a poached egg. I know if must seem silly but I love poached eggs and would love to be able to make that on my own.
poached

Have you ever had smoked salmon eggs benedict? Hopefully I can at least poach the egg by this time next year.

2. Complete a triathlon. That’s right, I will be finishing a triathlon this year, well more specifically this summer. I have already signed up for the Jersey Girl Triathlon which will take place this August. It only seemed fitting to do a Jersey Girl race, because that’s what I am!

jerseything

Looking forward to the salt in my hair and the smell of pizza everywhere.

3. Blog More. I have not been the most consistent blogger these last few months. 2015 was a year of great change for me. Unfortunately, while working through that change my blogging took a back burner. I plan on coming back to 2016 blogging up a storm.

totallygoinginmyblog

YAAAS!

4. Finish my spin instructor certification. All that lies between me and my certification is an exam. However, I want to be fully prepared before embarking on this adventure. I have been studying and plan on taking the exam in a few weeks.

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Inspirational and true to life. Yep, that seems like my style.

5. Bake More. Baking is relaxing and something that brings me great joy. I want to seriously focus on baking more and finessing my skills this year.

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So maybe I don’t have woodland creatures… but my cat is like the same thing right?

6. Run a sub 30 min 5K. I won’t be doing any races in 2016 longer than a half marathon. Therefore, I’d like to focus more on speed and finally get my 5K down to 30 min or below. (I have had a sub 30 5K in the past, so it’s not completely unrealistic but will take some work.)

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It may be easier with someone yelling in my face… 

7. Focus more on my health and fitness. I don’t want to assign a number or quantifiable goal to this resolution, because I don’t want to set myself up to fail. But this year, I want to make my health and fitness a priority. I need to consume foods that will make me feel strong and dedicate the time necessary to my overall fitness. I know that I feel better and more like myself when I’m on a consistent exercise regime, I just need to remember that.

So I know it’s about an entire month after January 1 but, what are your goals and resolutions for the new year? 

It’s the most expensive wonderful time of the year! The time has come to discuss what to get that runner/fitness enthusiast in your life. I’ve come with a list of my favorite fitness products to bequeath (weird word) upon your friends and family. For last year’s guide of still amazing products, check it out here.

1. A race entry – Races are expensive. Like seriously they add up! I was looking at a triathlon and the registration was $229! (I didn’t sign up, that level of commitment scares me) Gift your loved ones race entries. If this is their hobby is running and they plan on racing, this is a perfect and practical gift. Also RunDisney came out with a special half marathon race entry present this morning, so start gifting.

jurassic park run

RUN! What a great gift.

2. Resistance Bands – Portable resistance bands are a great way to stay active on the road or in your home. I travel for funsies and business. I never leave home without a yoga mat and now resistance bands. My fav bands are Aurore which can be found easily on AMAZON for $19.95! That’s right use your prime and get these bad boys in 2 days. Also they come in a carry case and have 5 different resistance bands and an easy to follow guide to get you started.  So no excuses.

3.Yoga/Spinning/Barre Membership or Passes – Depending on where you live fitness classes are either all your money or most of your money. Fitness classes are a wonderful gift, if you know your loved ones favorite activities. If you aren’t sure which one, get them a ClassPass. I tried it for a few months this spring and loved it.

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This looks like my last zumba class…

4. GPS Watch – TomTom. Get the runner in your life a TomTom. I absolutely love mine. It’s PC and Mac compatible and soooo easy to use. Sidenote: I tried my mom’s Garmin and hubby’s Nike, the TomTom is easier to use, read, and generally better looking.

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This watch. TomTom

5. SpiBelt – I used a SPIbelt during the Marine Corps Marathon and it was a lifesaver. From experience I would recommend the new SPIbelt™ Performance Series . Its features include a weather-resistant pocket and zipper, 4 energy gel loops, and a pocket big enough to fit the iPhone 6 Plus, keys, cash, and other essentials!

6. SOCKS! – Runners and fitness enthusiasts are particular about their socks. Once you lose a toenail, you don’t want it to happen again (although it will). I absolutely love Feetures socks. Their High Performance Light Cushion socks keep my feet comfortable and mostly blister free. When it rains and I forget to glide is my own problem.

happy feet

Runners love happy feet!

7. Nuun – Looking for fun stocking stuffers or gifts for those 4/5 nights of Hannukah? Try some delicious nuun that according to their site, “nuun active and nuun energy contain an optimal blend of electrolytes (na, k, mg, ca) that help keep you hydrated for all levels of activities.” Sounds perfect to me and if you were curious my favorite flavor is Cherry Limeade.

8. Compression Gear – Do you know what hurts after a race? Everything. Everything hurts. Do you know what makes the pain go away? Compression Gear. There are all types of compression gear. I personally love BioSkin compression sleeves and under armour compression clothing (specifically their shorts and running tights).

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This is how it feels when I pull on my good compression. ooo squeeze so good.

9. Weights – Seems simple. However, many fitness enthusiasts could use a set or 2 of weights. I personally have 8lbs, 5lbs, and 3lbs. Each has it’s own purpose. Well priced weights can be found at Walmart or even TJ Maxx (if you’re lucky). Dick’s Sporting Good, Sports Authority and any athletic store would have a range of sizes too.

10. IPad Mini – This is an investment. I have an iPad Mini and love it. It’s the perfect size for travel and watching fitness videos on the go. I just throw mine in my purse daily and use it to read, watch videos, and check up on social media.

11. Apparel – Every fitness junkie has a favorite apparel line. Get them a gift card and trust me, they’ll love it.

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12. TIU Nutrition Plan: I love Tone It Up. The work outs are amazing, the community is inspiring, and it makes eating healthy easy. I often post about their DVDs or challenges. If you have a friend or loved one who has been considering joining, do it now. I do the challenges with friends and it’s a great way to literally tone up.🙂

So there you have it 12 ideas to give the fitness enthusiast in your life!

What’s on your holiday list this year? Any of these items on your list? Did I miss something?

Disclaimer: Aurore provided me with a set of resistance bands for free. However, all opinions are my own. (even my mom tried and loved them) 

It’s fairly common to take a short hiatus post marathon. I don’t know about anyone else but I spent the last 5 months waking up at 5am, putting in grueling mileage, missing friends/family, being hungry (constantly.. aka runger), dealing with pain, and ice baths all to conquer this behemoth of a race. Well now that it’s done, now what?

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Now that I’ve achieve my goal… what next?

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Now that one crazy life goal is complete… how do I top it? 

First I spent a solid 3 weeks and didn’t run. That had more to do with toe nail challenges but whatevs. For the last 4 weeks I have embraced yoga, Tone It Up workouts, and barre. During marathon training I kept doing yoga and some Tone It Up however, barre fell off my radar. Now that I have so much time back, I’ve started to embrace the cross training again. Timing couldn’t be better, because a new barre studio is opening super close to my house so I was able to take advantage of pre-opening offers (now just counting down to January 1st).

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OMG. I can run to barre. Dreams do come true!

Secondly, I’ve been reassessing my goals. Which leads to an exciting announcement. I have started taking steps to become a spinning instructor! That’s right. I have enjoyed taking spin/cycling classes since high school and have often considered becoming an instructor. Sharing the love of spinning with friends is something I greatly enjoy, so why not share is with everyone I possibly can! Post marathon, I realized that I finally have the time to dedicate to really putting my heart into this endeavor. Over the next few weeks/months I’ll be taking the steps to become certified and probably loving almost every minute!

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Love a new adventure! 

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I’m not certified yet, but I have a feeling that’s not appropriate form. Just guessing though. Also why did they break up? 

Thirdly, post marathon I have been planning my 2016 calendar and creating new goals/resolutions. 2016 will be full of adventure and lots of travel. The Hubby and I have some pretty exciting and not so exciting places in mind. In 2016, I will also be doing a few races (spoiler alert… one of them may be a triathlon), however there are no immediate marathon plans in the future. Instead I hope to focus on speed, but more on that later.

That’s what’s new with me!

What has been going on with you? Thinking about 2016 yet? How quickly to you jump back into running post marathon/goal race? Have you taken a spin class? 

Being a DC runner and having never run the Army Ten Miler is unheard of. No really. It’s actually kind of weird. So when I knew that I would be training for the Marine Corps Marathon throughout the summer and fall, I figured why not make the ATM a speed bump in the road to tapering.

Now, many of you may not know that running is a family affair. Because my family is just as crazy as I am, I decided to give my father entry into the ATM as his Father’s Day present. Who doesn’t love race entries as a gift? This would be an extra special race because my father is retired Army.

Flash forward to October… On an unseasonably cold Saturday. We made our way down to the DC Armory. (I still hate that place, however it’s race expo central) We met up with my parents to make an event of the expo and grab packets in the process. Packet pick up was a well-oiled machine. Walk in preferably with bib number and proceed to the associated line. There was little to no wait. My dad, hubby and myself all grabbed our packets, shirts, and bags and were off. My mom decided to join us, because she was in the market for some fun giveaways and fitness oriented purchases. After combing through the aisles for freebies and picking up some amazing Sparkly Soul Patriotic & Maryland themed headbands, we were all set.
ATM Expo

Race morning was unexpectedly easy. Our plan was to meet at 6:30AM in the Costco parking lot. It was a little chilly that morning, but thankfully my mom and sister decided to come cheer us on so I’d be able to keep my sweats on a bit longer. We all walked over to the Pentagon parking lot did some last minute bathroom breaks and decided to head towards our waves. Hubby is significantly faster than me and my dad so he hung out with us for a while before heading towards his speedy wave.

Here's a map... it could this year's, it might not be. But it the correct course.

Here’s a map… it could this year’s, it might not be. But it the correct course.

The ATM is an enormous race. The open features a singing of the Star Spangled Banner adjacent to the Pentagon, parajumpers soar from the clouds and the outpouring of armed services participation is just overwhelming. I thoroughly enjoyed getting there early to witness the festivities.

My dad and I decided that we would be running this race together. This would be a leisurely jog and we’d just be enjoying ourselves. (Spoiler Alert: Best Idea Ever).

Ann, you are clearly wrong. Jogging is the best.

Ann, you are clearly wrong. Jogging is the best.

The first mile runs through Arlington past the Pentagon towards Arlington Cemetery. During this miles everyone was so excited you could sense it. We trotted on through made sure not to drop below a 10 min mile. (I told you we were jogging.) The course then takes you next to a small portion of the cemetery up to the Arlington Memorial Bridge. At this point we were feeling great. Starting to really warm up and find a comfortable pace.

Many of you know that I enjoy interval running. However, I had made it my goal while training to be able to fluidly run 10 miles nonstop. This is due to an old Army injury my dad has, he can run but stopping is an issue. So I knew that in order to run together there would really be no breaks. (Challenge Accepted)

After coming off the Arlington Memorial Bridge the course takes you past the Lincoln Memorial over to the streets of DC. This portion give you more of a city experience. It’s at this point where you find a long downhill that just feels great. You reach event footing again while rounding the Kennedy Center and running along the Potomac.

After passing the Kennedy Center and the Lincoln Memorial again, runners make their way down Independence Avenue past the World War I Memorial and the Washington Monument towards the Capitol. This is portion of the course offers some unique views of Washington DC and gives runners the opportunity to run through amongst the Smithsonian Institution.

While on Independence Avenue there is a short out and back portion that loops around 1 block. These area was bursting with excitement. Runners were doing that Army cheer, “Ooah?” I should know this I am an Army brat and my dad must has yelled it like 50 times.

After doing the loop around the block, we were heading back to VA. Well at least in that direction, we still had to conquer the 14th Street Bridge. At this point we’d been running the entire time between a 10:30 – 12:15, which we had decided was our comfortable pace zone. At this pace we could chat the entire time and really enjoy ourselves.

Heading towards the bridge I was nervous. I’d heard it was rough, which is intentionally why I trained on it during long runs over the summer. The bridge was warm. Which may sound weird but when the rest of the course is somewhat shady, and very temperate this wide open concrete space is suddenly borderline HOT. You can feel the sun and it doesn’t feel great. This was right around mile 8, we took a minute pause in order to gobble down some Clif Shot Blocks because I needed sugar. I could feel it. I probably waited too long to fuel. But power through right? So after the 1 minute gobble break, we were moving right along.

Okay, so maybe it wasn't this hot.. but it felt that way

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t this hot.. but it felt that way

We crossed the bridge into Crystal and knew that we were almost there. After running through some smaller streets in the area were en route to the Pentagon. Before we knew it we were crossing the finish line side-by-side and being funneled through the chute to pick up our finisher’s coins.

This could be my favorite race of 2015, if not one of my favorite races ever. Running with members of the Armed Services is inspiring. The ATM has one of the best courses in DC. That mass of people that are running with you can be a blast. But more importantly I ran this race with my dad, also a runner and likely the reason I became a runner in the first place. We have run other races before (a few 5Ks here and there) but there was something special about running THIS race together, it meant so much more and the fact that I could run side-by-side meant the world to me.

I made them take this photo, but I love it.

I made them take this photo, but I love it.

Have you run the ATM before? What’s your favorite race? But more importantly why… was it location, PR, company or something else?

It’s here. The race that was 2 years in the making. I’m going to start with a HUGE spoiler alert… I Finished!! After having to defer last year, there wasn’t much that could keep me from crossing that finish line.

On Friday evening, Bestie aka Wifey and I met up at the DC Convention Center to pick up our packets together. And really to get feedback on which expo gear to buy. The question wasn’t whether to buy something but what to buy. I ended up getting the jacket, a 1/4 zip, a t-shirt, and visor. So safe to say I did some damage.

Packet pick up itself was a breeze. No line, walked right up got packet then meandered over to the unisex mock shirts. They’re red this year, which I was pumped about because last year when the hubby ran MCM they were unmentionable brown. (so gross) While there we walked around a bit, grabbed a quick dinner in the area then headed out in hopes of getting lots of sleep.

Unfortunately, a few days before the Marathon my throat started to tickle and my nose started to run and boom next thing I know I’m sick and it’s literally Friday night on October 23rd less than 36 hours out from the race. Poor Timing. I had been taking cold medicine and blowing my nose constantly but really I just needed to let this thing ride out for a few days, which I didn’t have. I was super bummed went I awoke on Saturday morning with a full blown cold, I barely slept because I couldn’t stop coughing, my sinuses were pounding, I had chills, and I had no appetite just to name a few symptoms… I spent all day Saturday on the couch drinking tea, taking meds, and eating matzo ball soup (it has curative powers).

but really. I am.

but really. I am.

That evening I laid out all my gear and reviewed the race plan with the family. I had worked out a route that I would see either my hubby or my fam between each of the water stops so that way I wouldn’t have to wear a giant belt and could carry a smaller handheld.

Sunday morning I woke up… still sick, but adrenaline was pushing me through. There was nothing that would stop me. The race starts behind the Pentagon. It’s a hike to walk there, really no matter where you go. I had planned on meeting wifey before the start but there was some congestion due to new security measures at the start. We ended up waiting around in a mass for quite awhile before all hell broke loose and the group that I was with somehow pushed through the side to show that we didn’t have bags. (yeah bit of a mess)

Once through the herd, I quickly found a restroom and starting shedding throwaways. I’d already missed the start but I was able to see the airmen jump from copters with American flags (F*** yeah America) No really I had a very USA USA moment.

This seemed like a great idea 2 years ago.

This seemed like a great idea 2 years ago.

I crossed the start line around 8:15am and we were off! There were people everywhere! The first few miles weave through Arlington and Rosslyn. These miles are pretty much straight uphill. I studied the course, I should have been ready, but I was still caught off guard by the hills and how they never ended, okay well they do end.. at mile 3.

The first 3 miles were not my slow jam.

The first 3 miles were not my slow jam.

After mile 3 we began the greatest downhill in the history of downhills. It was almost a full mile and it felt glorious. After those frist few miles it’s almost all smooth sailing elevation wise. I was able to see my parents and big sis at mile 1 and the hubby was at mile 1.5ish. I have to admit seeing their smiling faces all day, really helped make this experience more enjoyable.

I saw my parents and sis again just after mile marker 4, before cross the Key Bridge into Georgetown. Running through Georgetown was fantastic. There were great crowds but it was extra unique because most DC races do not go through Georgetown. After a small jaunt on M street, we ran towards the Georgetown waterfront to begin the out and back route along Rock Creek Parkway. Just before getting on Rock Creek Parkway I saw my hubby with iced Gatorade and lots of tissues. He also informed me that my time was lagging a bit and that I needed to try to pick up the pace. At that moment, I knew I had to punch it through the Rock Creek Parkway portion however, that was going to be difficult because I was operating on almost no sleep and was having trouble breathing. Also knowing that he would be around mile 9.5 when I exited gave me the extra push I needed to really power through miles 6-9.5.

Eye on the Prize!

Eye on the Prize!

My race strategy was to break the course into 4 5 milers and 2 5ks. This allowed me to mentally handle the course, otherwise I would likely have spun into madness. When I saw hubby, I knew that part 2 of the race would need to be a bit faster, especially after using the first 5 miles or so as a warm up. The Rock Creek Park portion of the race is very much a run in the “woods.” It’s a highway, but it’s heavily wooded and quite beautiful.  Upon exiting I knew that time wise, I was in a much better place.

At mile 10, runners are passing under the Kennedy Center following a similar route that the ATM takes. until it veers and you’re running towards Hains Point. “Oh Joy, Hains Point,” said no one ever. I did incorporate this into my long runs, which helped but nothing can prepare someone for the blue mile.

The Blue Mile is at mile 12. it’s an entire mile that is dedicated to fallen Armed Services Members and their families. I couldn’t help but choke up during this portion of the race. Seeing the names and faces of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country is truly humbling.

Mile 13 is the half way point and also the tip of Hains Point. This is where most people myself included think, “I’m only half way done.”

Can I run Away?

Can I run Away?

On the return from Hains Point on the way back to the Tidal Basin, I bumped in the hubby again. Who told me I was much better with time and to just concentrate on not over exerting myself (as he handed me more tissues). I was actually shocked by how quickly Hains Point faded into the distance as I headed back over to the Lincoln Memorial. This portion of the course is very DC. We were making our way into monument and museum land. At around mile 16 at the turn around on Independence Avenue, I saw my parents again. I was rough. I was having serious trouble breathing and quickly loosing steam. I think my family could see this.

I was getting sloppy.

I was getting sloppy.

So, my Dad jumped in. Yes, he did. He held my handheld water bottle, grabbed an extra water bottle from my fam, bloks, gu, and made a plan to meet back up with them at the bridge. That’s right, the plan was for him to get me to the bridge (again not sure why… I was fine on time). Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed those 4 miles. I also bumped into my friend Stephanie cheering with my hubby around mile 18 on the National Mall. The 2 ran alongside on the sidewalk for a bit too. They crossed the Mall instead of looping the Capitol’s Reflecting Pool with us. On the other side, I bid farewell to Stephanie. However, Hubby stayed on the sidewalk and kept pace with my Dad and I.

Then it happened, we began to approach the 14th street bridge, in plenty of time. I had expected some signage or something to indicate that I had beaten the Bridge. But there was nothing, Family was diverted and I began the trudge over the 14th Street Bridge. I felt like a member of the herd from the Walking Dead. The rain has cause some blisters to develop on my feet, but that’s par for the course. I noticed another girl who was power walking and tried to keep her close by, in order to make sure that my pace didn’t completely drop off. In my delusion, I contemplated striking up a convo but then realized that I wasn’t capable of logical thought and shouldn’t communicate with humans.

Gossip would give me life right now.

Gossip would give me life right now.

Boom. Bridge. Done. That means, that no matter what, I was finishing. The last 6 miles are no joke. It was a serious mental game. Between the blisters, the dizziness, coughing, sneezing, and nausea, I wasn’t feeling very well.

I refuse to be sick! I'm wearing Brooks, BioSkin, Under Armour, SparkleAthletic and Headsweats!

I refuse to be sick! I’m wearing Brooks, BioSkin, Under Armour, SparkleAthletic and Headsweats!

Around mile 23 in Crystal City I accosted a random woman and begged her for pretzels. Thank you kind stranger! I spent the next half mile licking/biting the salt off. I was seriously getting dizzy, which was likely due to being sick. Then like magic, Hubby was there at mile 23! He was like a magician. At first, I thought I was hallucinating. But I was just so happy to see him. We walked together for a bit before I took the final detour that would take me towards the Pentagon and the last 2 miles in Arlington.

The last 2ish miles through the back of Crystal City, Arlington, and the Pentagon are relatively smooth. The last stretch is literally repeating the start of the course, which is surreal. Then I saw it, Mile Marker 26 and the infamous final hill. (It wasn’t so bad.) I started the hill power walking then punched it up a gear and decided I was going to run in the finish.

Crossing that finish line was a roller coaster of emotions. I had worked so hard to finish this race and was so proud of my accomplishment. I was somewhat peeved that I was only 4 minutes faster than the marathon I didn’t train for 2 years ago. More importantly I was thankful for my amazing family and friends that provided so much support not only on race day but for the last 5 months of training. Lastly, I was humbled but the outpouring of encouragement for the men and women of our Armed Services who came out to either run or provide support. This race is by far one of the best I have ever run.

Post race I met up with the family, saw wifey, fell into Hubby’s arms and enjoyed a few sips of beer. After basking in the glory for a bit, Hubby and the fam made our way back to my house. We ordered chipotle and I took a shower. Unfortunately, I was still a bit nauseous so eating didn’t really happen for me until the next day.

As my family pointed out, I finished and I was smiling from ear-to-ear all day. I set a goal and accomplished it. So maybe I had to make a few adjustments to my race strategy, but I am so glad that I poured my heart into this race.

One Happy Finisher

One Happy Finisher

At least Wifey and I are crazy together

At least Wifey and I are crazy together

One clear benefit of actually training is that by Wednesday I was walking normally again and was in heels Friday🙂 Recovery was much smoother. I had some walking issues on Sunday evening and Monday but other than that it’s been a breeze. I have to admit that the blisters shredded my feet and they’re still kind of gross. Also my big toe nail is dark purple, so that should make for some interesting pedicures this winter.

Walking on Sunday and Monday was challenging

Walking on Sunday and Monday was challenging

Have you run MCM before? Ever run a race while sick? How long do you usually train for a marathon? 

On September 20th I ran the Navy – Air Force Half Marathon. Oh geez that was a full month ago… well better late than never. I’d first heard about this race from a short blurb in Runner’s World magazine. After doing some research I decided to give it a try as part of a longer training run leading up to MCM.

Packet pick up was at the DC Armory, which is always a pain. #sorrynotsorry. Not the armory itself, but parking is a nightmare and somewhat confusing. I eventually got to parking lot 3 and made my way inside. This was a relatively small expo, especially when compared to some of the other power house race expo’s that take place here. I was able to quickly grab my packet and look around for a minute (literally a minute, it was pretty small) then head out.

tomorrow's half marathon and 5 miler course

tomorrow’s half marathon and 5 miler course

Walk right up and grab your packet

Walk right up and grab your packet

On Sunday morning I woke up bright and early. My plan was to park in Crystal City metro to the start and run back to the car. Brilliant right? Who ever is shaking your head, you’re correct. Not brilliant, but more on that later.

huge mistakegif

The start of the race is at the Washington Monument which is accessible from Smithsonian stop. I however was running a bit late, much like the metro. So if I took the correct train to the Smithsonian start I would miss the race start. So I got off at a different stop and decided to jog to the start. (not wise)

Once I finally made it to the start with 5 min to spare, I made my way over to the bathrooms. This is where I encountered the longest line of my life. After waiting forever, some kind stranger informed the group that there were also bathrooms on the other side. So I jogged over and got in another (shorter) line. By the time I crossed the start line it was 15 minutes after the “official” race start. But thankfully, there is a 25 minute window to start the race before the 5 miler starts.

not bad DC, not bad

not bad DC, not bad

hey there TJ.

hey there TJ.

The first mile or so is weaving around the Washington Monument, because who doesn’t love that. I’ll take running around DC monuments every time. The next few miles were around Hains Point. This spot can be tough on a lot of races, however I really loved how we started with it. Made the peninsula feel more manageable.

After Hains Point the race broke in 2. 5 Milers began to head back and the Half Marathoners kept going toward Rock Creek Parkway.

well marked signage

well marked signage

Rock Creek Parkway was a big up and back. The final turnaround took place at the foot of Beast Maker (you may recall from Rock N Roll DC 2014). Thank goodness we didn’t have to go up that again. Rock Creek Parkway is beautiful and I would recommend anyone looking for a nice run to hit up the trails available there. This was also good practice for MCM which also has this out and back pattern.

On the return from Rock Creek Parkway, the course goes under the Kennedy Center and up towards the Arlington Memorial Bridge and features some great views of the Lincoln Memorial. The course continues up Independence Avenue and passes the WWI Memorial and turns onto 15th Street to finish at the Washington Monument.

That's some serious hardware

That’s some serious hardware

Happy Finisher here!

Happy Finisher here!

Overall, I enjoyed the Navy – Air Force Half Marathon. It starts in a great location and features some scenic parts of Washington, DC.

The 5.5 miles I ran after the race wasn’t something I was prepared to do. I miscalculated how far away I had parked. So the 1.5 I ran before, combined with the 5.5 means that I inadvertently completed 20 miles, when I only meant to run 17-18 as part of training.

longest day.

longest day.

How I felt when I realized my mathematical error.

How I felt when I realized my mathematical error.

On a side note…. recovery from the 20 miles wasn’t that bad. Looks like the training is paying off.

Did you run the Navy Air Force Half Marathon or 5 Miler? Do you ever fold races into your training? Are you as bad as math as I am? 

Earlier this month, I ran the Shape Diva Dash in Frederick, MD with a friend. I am a huge fan of this race. In 2013, I ran this race with my mom and we had a blast. This race is billed as a Washington DC race however, it’s in Frederick, MD. For those that do not know Frederick is a good hour north of DC.

Frederick is not Washington, DC

Frederick is not Washington, DC

This 5K women’s obstacle race is set up in heats. When registering you choose which heat to run which would dictate what time you need to arrive. My heat was scheduled at 10am (the 1st non-competitive wave). My husband and I arrived a little after 9am to make sure we had time for me to grab my packet and park. We met up with friends who had gotten there a bit before us. The plan was the husbands could hang out while the wives kicked some butt on the course. Then afterward, we’d all grab a bite to eat together.

Packet pick up was a breeze. Walked right up grabbed my bib and buff. There were no shirts this year. (Which I thought was strange.) But, I do love the buff! We watched the competitive wave start and began to warm up for our heat. People watching is clutch as this event, because the team costumes were super cute and crazy creative. I loved it.

Our heat started at exactly 10am. (awesome) The entire course was on trail or field. We began through the woods. Unfortunately, I assumed the competitive wave meant these were the more elite-esque athletes. So I did not sign up for that wave. Had I known the non-competitive wave would feature many groups walking, I may have signed up as a competitor. Walking is cool, I do it sometimes, that’s aces in my book. However, on a narrow trail, it’s not alright to begin walking almost immediately and block the trail 5 people across so no one can pass. I wish it was more clear that walkers should stay to the right and allow space for passing. So for the first half mile, there was a lot of weaving. Then is when it began to drizzle, which felt really nice.

zoey Rain 2

The obstacles were a ton of fun. Some were made easier by the rain others more difficult. After the first mile, the group spread. We maintained a pretty steady jog the entire time then took our time on the obstacles. I’m proud to say we did every obstacle on the course, even forged a river. Okay it was only calf height, but still counts. Running on the trail was challenging but I truly enjoyed it. The last obstacle scared me a bit. We climbed a cargo net to a fireman pole. This situation would have been a ton of fun, had it not been raining. However, I just bit the bullet and slid down (fastest ride ever).

Overall, I had a great time. I really do enjoy this race and turns out I really like obstacle course races! I would absolutely run this race again (but maybe in the competitive wave).

Have you done the Shape Diva Dash? Are you a fan of obstacle courses? Any recommendations on good DC area obstacle runs?

(Video below is a glimpse at the event, from the Diva Dash website0

Training has been progressing well. I saw a countdown yesterday that said 40 days till Marine Corps Marathon and I didn’t totally panic. At this point in training I have successfully completed 16 miles. Which is the longest I have run since I ran my last marathon 2 years ago. This weekend will be 18 miles. (eek) I am doing the Air Force Navy Half Marathon on Sunday so I plan on parking further away running to the start and running/walking back to the car.

On a few of my most recent long runs, I noticed something strange. I felt stronger, but my mind was telling me to slow down. This is relatively new for me. It was almost like I was psyching myself out in my head. This caused a down the rabbit hole effect which had me doubting myself pretty hard.

rabbithole

I know the saying goes, “Mind over Matter” but what about “Matter over Mind.” This could be where the phrase trust your training comes into play. While my lungs and legs feel amazing, my brain is telling me to go take a nap or find a mimosa. It’s like The Blerch has come out to play.

running_2theblerch1

source: The Oatmeal

On my last long run, I tried a few coping techniques. Some worked better than others.

  1. Runner’s Math: Want to distract yourself? Do runner’s math! When running a 16 miler it’s really only 2 10Ks and a 5 miler or 2 5 milers and 2 5Ks (roughly). If I continue to run at my current pace then I will finish in 2 hr and 45 minutes which would put me well within the time cut off. However if I slow down each mile by 15 secs that would put me…. you get the idea. This also works when trying to map out more mileage. I have run 5 miles thus far, if I take a loop around the White House that’s another 1.5 miles but if I go around the Capitol, I could get another 4… screw it, I’ll just do them both.
  2. Music: Gives me life. This was very successful. If I update my playlist regularly, I can make sure that I fill up spotify with songs that are energetic and help me power through. This has been very helpful in keeping me focused on finishing strong.
  3. People Watch: I love to people watch. Not only do I love people watching, I love to create an entire life story for those that I see around me. This is quite fun. While running in DC there’s no shortage of people to watch. In case you were curious that stories are usually fanciful and fantastic.🙂
  4. AudioBooks: This was horrible and did NOT work for me. At all. (Also could be because I was listening to Jane Austen.)
  5. Explore: I like to park at Gravelly Point Park when doing my long runs. But it also helps keep things fresh if I don’t run the same exact path every time. So I have been exploring different paths to run in DC.

Any tips on how to beat the negative talk? Has this ever happened during your training? 

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