Friday Five – April 18th – My Training Goals for Half Marathon #3

As you all know, each week I link up with the DC Trifecta Bloggers (Courtney from Eat Pray Run DC, Mar from Mar on the Run, and Cynthia from You Signed Up For What?!).

DC_linkup

While reading Cynthia’s blog yesterday morning, I noticed at the bottom of her blog post that this week’s Friday Five Theme is Fitness Goals.  This was PERFECT timing for me since yesterday afternoon this happened:

vb registration

That’s right folks, I registered for half marathon #3!  Over Labor Day weekend I’ll be returning to Virginia Beach to complete my third half in nine months.  You may recall that last year Preston ran Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach and I ran the Mini Marathon (aka 5k).  While Preston is still undecided about whether or not he’ll run Virginia Beach this year, this is where we’ll be closing out summer.

There's no better way to celebrate a summer race than with your feet in the sand!

There’s no better way to celebrate a summer race than with your feet in the sand!

If registering for half #3 weren’t exciting enough, I will earn two medals for running this race: the usual finisher’s medal as well as my first Heavy Medal for completing two Rock ‘n’ Roll races in one year.

Ill receive my Rock Encore medal in the mail as a reward for completing both Rock n Roll USA and Rock n R

I’ll receive my Rock Encore medal in the mail as a reward for completing both Rock’n’ Roll USA and Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach

Since Jeff Galloway’s beginner 18 week plan worked really well when I trained for the Disney World Half Marathon, I’ll be following his “finish in the upright position” 18 week plan to prepare for Virginia Beach.  The fun starts on Monday, April 28th!

Knowing that spring and summer are always crazy for us, I have five training goals that I’ll focus on as I train for half #3:

1.  Stay on track with my training and make adjustments as necessary.

While training for Disney World my training calendar overlapped multiple holidays that we traveled out of town for, as well as traveling to Illinois for my mom’s surprise birthday party.  Spring and summer is usually very busy for Preston and I (we already have plans to be out of town four weekends in May and June with more travel throughout the summer in the works), so I know that it’ll be critical to keep my training calendar close by and move long runs around as necessary.  Spring and summer activities may mean that some weeks I have to move my long run to a Friday or Monday, and if that’s necessary then I’ll do so.  When training for my first half I didn’t miss any of my long runs and only missed a couple of my weekday runs, and I want to do everything possible to ensure that I stay on track with my training again.

2.  Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Unlike when I trained for Disney World or Rock ‘n’ Roll USA, this training cycle I’ll be training during the hottest months of the year.  It’ll be more critical than ever that I ensure that I am constantly drinking water and as well as replacing my electrolytes that I loose during training.  DC is well known not only for its heat but also its humidity, and it’ll be important that I’m not just hydrating before and after runs but throughout the day as well.

3.  Get enough sleep and keep my stress level down.

Unlike with my past two training cycles, I will only be teaching for the first half of my training for Virginia Beach.  While I have lots of other events already on my summer calendar, and am hoping that I’ll hear soon about the curriculum project that I’ve worked on every summer since I started teaching, my stress level should be much lower during the peak of my training cycle and I should be able to get sufficient sleep to not only efficiently train but to also make sure that I don’t have another health issue like I did only weeks before Rock ‘n’ Roll USA.

4.  Properly fuel my body with mostly clean, unprocessed foods.

While eating some processed food here and there won’t have a huge detriment on my training, eating as much clean food as possible will ensure that I’m providing my body with the greatest nourishment possible.  This isn’t a shift from what I already do, but with a busy spring and summer calendar with lots of events with friends and family already planned, this will certainly be easier said than done.

5.  Watch the sun, heat, and humidity and adjust my runs as necessary.

At this point I’m not setting a finish time goal for myself, partly because I know from experience last summer that I’m a slower runner during the summer than I am at other times of the year.  It’ll be imperative that I listen to my body and slow down my speed if I feel too hot.  I’m not an early morning person (getting up every day for work at 4:45am might have something to do with that), but it’ll probably also be necessary that I focus on getting many of my long runs in before it gets too late into the day, or else I may be forced to complete many long runs on the treadmill in order to prevent the risk of heat exhaustion.

I’ll of course talk more about my goals for Virginia Beach as I progress through my training and get closer to the race.  Ready or not, my next round of half marathon training starts in just ten short days!

QOTD: What is your next big race?  What training goals do you have as you prepare for that race?

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Random Thursday Thoughts

Last night was one of those evenings when I had several thoughts running through my head all at once.

1.  The craziness of runDisney registration has once again begun.

Marathon Weekend 2014

Marathon Weekend 2014

Yesterday at noon, preregistration for Marathon Weekend in January opened.  General registration opens next Tuesday.  As with the past several runDisney event registrations, Marathon Weekend is expected to sell out quickly, and its been entertaining to watch others’ posts on Facebook and Twitter about the anxiety and excitement of registering.  Although Marathon Weekend holds a special place in both my and Preston’s hearts (its where he ran his first marathon in 2013 and where I ran my first half marathon earlier this year), it doesn’t look like we’ll be returning to Disney World for Marathon Weekend in 2015.  While I’m a bit bummed about it, I know that eventually we’ll be able to return and run another race at the place where we both ran these milestone races.

2.  Staycations can be just as relaxing and rejuvenating as traveling for a vacation can be.

I was able to enjoy these gorgeous tulips outside of the National Gallery of Art during my walk on the National Mall on Monday

I was able to enjoy these gorgeous tulips outside of the National Gallery of Art during my walk on the National Mall on Monday

With this week being Spring Break and Preston not having enough leave from work at the moment for us to be able to travel (he needs the leave this summer for several events on our calendar), I’ve been spending this week at home relaxing and catching up on some much needed sleep as well as many chores around our apartment.  The weather last weekend and on Monday was just as warm and sunny as many places further south, and although it sleeted Tuesday evening and was pretty cold yesterday, the summer like weather was definitely a welcome way to kick off my week off from work.

3.  FaceTime is one of the best inventions ever.  Period.

Linda and I on my wedding day, July 30, 2011 Photo Credit: Romine Weddings

Linda and I on my wedding day, July 30, 2011
Photo Credit: Romine Weddings

With me being home this week I was able to FaceTime the other day with one of my dearest friends, Linda, who moved to Germany back in December.  Not being at work made it much easier for us to talk during daytime hours for both of us, and talking on FaceTime is definitely much more enjoyable than just texting back and forth.  I loved being able to interact with her in real time and not just wait for the next text message to arrive!

QOTD: Will you be running during Marathon Weekend in 2015?  Do you prefer staycations or vacations?  What are your thoughts on FaceTime?

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Cherry Blossoms!

Between the roller coaster weather we’ve had over the past week (everything from the 80s and sunshine to the 30s and sleet yesterday), and the arrival and departure of the Cherry Blossoms, its fully evident that Spring has finally arrived in DC.  If you follow me on Instagram than you’ve already seen a preview of some of my favorite pictures of the blossoms!

At the Tidal Basin on Saturday enjoying the absolutely gorgeous weather and scenery

At the Tidal Basin on Saturday enjoying the absolutely gorgeous weather and scenery

I absolutely love Spring in DC, and one of the reasons I love Spring so much is because of the Cherry Blossoms.  The Cherry Blossoms hit their peak bloom on Thursday, and I think I caught what was probably the last day of peak bloom on Monday.

Some of the gorgeous views of the blossoms on Saturday

Some of the gorgeous views of the blossoms on Saturday

This year, I was fortunate to able to see the blossoms on two days.  We spent about an hour at the Tidal Basin on Saturday morning enjoying them before grabbing lunch and then participating in the Run As One.  Yesterday afternoon I spent several hours walking around the Tidal Basin and the National Mall enjoying the blossoms once again.

blossoms

One of the things I love most about the blossoms is how they attract so many people to walk the loop around the Tidal Basin.  They promote activity and get people moving.  It doesn’t matter how fast you’re moving, just getting outside, enjoying the scenery, and walking around is exercise.

Views from my walk around the Tidal Basin on Monday

Views from my walk around the Tidal Basin on Monday

This was the first year that I was able to visit the blossoms on two different days.  It was incredible to see the difference in the blossoms from Saturday to Monday.  I think the pictures speak justice to not only their beauty but just how short lived the peak bloom is, and how quickly the blossoms turn from white to pink.

The blossoms on Saturday vs. on Monday - what a difference in color!

The blossoms on Saturday vs. on Monday – what a difference in color!

Have I convinced you yet that Spring in DC is amazing?

QOTD: What are your favorite signs of Spring’s arrival where you live?

Posted in Miscellaneous | Tagged | 15 Comments

Run As One Recap

runasone As I’ve shared before, Preston and I both belong to Team Red, White & Blue, a veteran’s organization committed to connecting veterans with others and enriching their lives through both physical and social activities.  This past Saturday, Team RWB in conjunction with Team Rubicon and The Mission Continues hosted the third annual Run As One in cities across the country, including here in DC. The purpose of Run As One is to raise awareness for veteran Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  On average, 22 veterans commit suicide each day as a result of their post tour of duty or service related stress.  Run As One was established in 2011 as a way to raise awareness for veteran PTSD, as well as to promote unity among veterans and civilians.

On the National Mall before the start of Run As One

On the National Mall before the start of Run As One

I haven’t openly discussed this on the blog before, but Preston is a veteran himself.  He completed five years of active duty in the Army, which included a 14 month tour of Iraq, before he completed two years of reserve duty before he resigned his commission.  I’m thankful everyday that despite the fact that several members of Preston’s company were injured, and some killed, that Preston came home from Iraq unharmed.  Although we didn’t meet until after he completed his active duty service (he had just started his reserve duties when we started dating), I’m beyond thankful that he came home from Iraq physically unharmed.  He still deals with the emotional trauma of his time in Iraq on a regular basis, but I’m thankful that this is the only lingering negative effect of his service to our country.

We both joined Team RWB in 2013 as a way to connect with other veterans and their significant others.  Our schedule doesn’t always allow for participation in activities on a regular basis, but its events like this past Saturday’s run that make us thankful that we’re a part of this organization.

Most Run As One events held across the country were held in the morning, but because of the Cherry Blossom Parade Saturday morning the DC Run As One was held in the afternoon.  We gathered on the National Mall, ran to the East Steps of the U.S. Capitol, where we stopped to take a group picture, and then ran back to our starting point in the middle of the grass on the National Mall.  After the run, there was also a group led exercise of 22 pushups to recognize the startling statistic that an average of 22 veterans commit suicide each day.

On the steps of the U.S. Capitol during Saturday's Run As One

On the steps of the U.S. Capitol during Saturday’s Run As One

runasonecollage runasonecollage2 This wasn’t a race, but races aren’t the only reason to run.  Many people who saw the run occurring asked who we were with and why we were running, and it was clear that we had successfully raised awareness for veteran PTSD and suicide in the midst of hundreds of thousands of tourists that were down on the National Mall on Saturday.

QOTD: What runs have you participated in as a way to help raise awareness for a cause?

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Weekly Training Log – Week of April 7th

If your week has been anything like mine, you’ve been finding every way possible to take advantage of absolutely gorgeous weather!  Over the weekend I spent more time outside than inside, and I couldn’t have asked for better weather to kick off my much needed Spring Break with.  Both Saturday and Sunday it was sunny, in the 80s, and very low humidity.  The weather for the rest of the week isn’t supposed to be as warm as its been this past weekend, but since we’re not traveling this year for Spring Break you can bet that I’ll be outside every possible moment that the weather allows me to and taking advantage of the gorgeous Spring weather as much as I can.

blossoms

One of the many gorgeous views of the Cherry Blossoms that we got to enjoy this past weekend

We spent all day Saturday downtown on the National Mall.  The Cherry Blossoms hit their peak bloom on Thursday, and we were fortunate to be able to enjoy the blossoms Saturday morning.  Then, Saturday afternoon we participated in the Run As One with Team Red, White and Blue, which I’ll fully recap tomorrow.  Sunday I spent about an hour outside on a local trail, completing my first “long” run (“long” being 3.84 miles) since last weekend’s Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run.

Mon 4/7 – Rest day

Tues 4/8 – Rest day

Wed 4/9 – 2.50 mile treadmill run, 0.35 mile cool down walk, abs, chest, shoulders, arms, kettlebell squat swings

Thurs 4/10 – 30 minutes of yoga

Fri 4/11 – Rest day

Sat 4/12 – Walked around the Tidal Basin to see the Cherry Blossoms, Run as One on the National Mall

Sun 4/13 – 3.84 mile run on the W&OD Trail, 0.75 mile cool down walk

Total Weekly Mileage – 9.94 miles

With not having to work this week, my goal is to be active every single day.  When the weather allows, I’ll be outside running and walking, and when it doesn’t I’ll be inside at the gym.  Between this goal, as well as working towards my monthly goals, this week seems like the perfect time to add another component to my weekly training log: Monday Motivation.

As we kick off another week, let me leave you with my first Monday Motivation here on the blog.  The absolutely gorgeous weather that we’ve had here in the DC area inspired my choice for this week’s motivating quote.

whitman

QOTD: What did you do over the past week to take advantage of Spring weather?

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Friday Five – April 11th – What I Love About the Online Running Community

Since I started running last March, the online running community has proven to be an invaluable resource and support system.  As I’ve grown as a runner, I’ve relied more and more on this community.  One of the most incredible things about this community though is the fact that 99% of the people that I interact with I’ve never met in person, yet I feel as though I’m able to connect and relate to them in so many different ways!

There’s so many things I love about the online running community, especially:

1.  The online running community provides a network in which to bounce ideas off of one another and gain additional insights into various races and running related products.  If it weren’t for the online running community, I would have never learned about the benefits of compression socks and sleeves or many of the races on my bucket list, particularly the Shamrock Anthem Half Marathon.

shamrock

3.  There are a variety of different networking groups runners can join, particularly on Facebook.  I belong to a number, including Team #runDisney, Sweat Pink Ambassadors, and FitFluential Running.  These groups not only allow me to network with other bloggers, but my membership in some of these communities has led to some opportunities, including the Spartan Race Giveaway that I recently hosted.

3.  Runners support one another, regardless of where they live or how fast of a runner they are.  Generally speaking, most runners are there to provide encouragement to each other, particularly when runners really need it in order to overcome an injury or another obstacle in the way of their training.

4.  Twitter chats are some of the most exhilarating hours of one’s life.  During these chats, runner discuss any and all aspects of running and other fitness activities.  Nothing beats the excitement and fast paced weekly #RunChat every Sunday evening.  On nearly everyday of the week its likely that a Twitter chat is being hosted, and these chats have fostered many of my virtual relationships with other runners.

runchat-badge

5.  Meeting virtual running friends in person for the first time is beyond exciting.  I’ve had the privilege to meet some of my favorite bloggers in person, including Heather from Through Heather’s Looking Glass and Kimberley from Maker Mother Marathon Runner during Disney World Marathon Weekend.  This past weekend at the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run I also met Cyanne from Run Stretch Go, Jenny from Run Jenny Run, and Christine from We Run Disney.

With Heather during the Disney World 10k, Christine and Cyanne after the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run, Jenny before the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run, and Kimberley during the Disney World 10k

With Heather during the Disney World 10k, Christine and Cyanne after the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run, Jenny before the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run, and Kimberley during the Disney World 10k

QOTD: What do you love about the online running community?

As always, thank you to the DC Trifecta Bloggers (Courtney from Eat Pray Run DC, Mar from Mar on the Run, and Cynthia from You Signed Up For What?!) for hosting the weekly Friday Five Link Up.  Be sure to check out their posts as well!

DC_linkup

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Spartan Race Giveaway Winner

Thanks to everybody who entered my Spartan Race Giveaway for your chance to win a Spartan Race entry!  It was the first giveaway that I’ve hosted, and I’m proud to say that it was a success!

Photo Credit: Spartan Race

Photo Credit: Spartan Race

Congrats to Alberto Medellin for winning an entry into the Spartan Race of your choice!  Please e-mail me (dancingtorunning@gmail.com) to receive your entry code and instructions for redeeming your free race entry.

If you didn’t win and want to run a Spartan Race, you can still register and get 15% off.  Just click here to access the code for discounted registration.

Photo Credit: Spartan Race

Photo Credit: Spartan Race

Thanks again to everybody who participated!  Be sure to stay tuned for future giveaways…I already have another one in the works!

Posted in Races | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run Recap

Before I dive into the recap, let me first thank those of you who commented here on the blog, on Facebook and Twitter, and sent me individual e-mails providing support in regards to my corral mishap.  Its clear that CUCB was inconsistent in their corral placements this year, and those that did try to have their corral placements corrected were unsuccessful in their attempts.  I truly hope that the Race Directors rectify this problem, as well as several others, going forward.

Alright, onto the recap.

Preston and I had set our alarm for 4:30am.  Unfortunately, our alarm never went off, but fortunately I woke up around 4:45am needing to use the bathroom.  Only fifteen minutes lost, not a huge deal, especially since we had laid out our race clothes the night before.  I did make a last minute decision to switch from running tights to capris, but otherwise everything else was already out and ready to go.

My cherry blossom esque Sweaty Bands inspired my choice of shirt for the race

My cherry blossom esque Sweaty Bands inspired my choice of shirt for the race

Since I wanted to get into the corral as soon as possible, our goal had been to leave our apartment by 5:30am.  We wound up leaving closer to 5:45, drove into Clarendon, parked, and made our way onto the Metro.  However, just before we were about to get on the train Preston asked me where my hydration belt was, I realized that I had left it in the car, and while Preston ran back up to the car to retrieve it we missed one train.  We had to wait another 18 minutes for the next train (gotta love Metro on the weekends), but we finally made it to the Smithsonian stop just around 6:45am.  We quickly made our way towards the Washington Monument, where the staging area for the race was.  Preston and I checked our bags, he headed off to the Team Red, White & Blue meetup, and I stood in line for the porta potties.  I had also planned to go to the prerace meetup, but given that I wanted to get as close to the front of the corral as possible I opted to pass.

As I made my way over to the corrals, I realized that my corral, the Purple Corral, was fairly empty, and there was only 15 minutes until the race was to start.  I found this a bit odd, but a few minutes later realized why – the corrals weren’t being enforced!  I entered the corral, and quickly found Jenny from Run Jenny Run.  It was fun to be able to meet her in person, and the time between the start of the race and when our corral started passed by very quickly as we chatted about our upcoming races.  Shortly after the race started I spotted numerous Purple Corral bibs up ahead in the Green Corral, but at that point it was pretty much impossible for Jenny and I to move, as the corrals were now tightly packed.  It was clear that the corrals weren’t being enforced whatsoever.

With Jenny in the crowded Purple Corral

With Jenny in the crowded Purple Corral

The race started at 7:30am.  I took my first Gu Energy Gel of the morning while I waited for my turn to cross the Start Line, which I finally crossed at 7:55am.  The first mile of the race was very packed.  As with past races, I knew I wouldn’t be able to safely start my run-walk intervals until several minutes into the race.  After eight minutes of not completing a single walk interval because of how packed the course was, I made my way as far to the side of the course as I could.  Although I had yet to be able to run at a pace I’d trained for, I knew that I needed to run the race the way I’d trained, and that meant using run-walk intervals.

The first several miles of the course were very similar to the first couple of miles of the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA course.  We ran towards the Lincoln Memorial, crossed Memorial Bridge, circled in front of Arlington National Cemetery, ran back across the bridge, and then headed down towards the Kennedy Center.  Just past the Kennedy Center we encountered our first hairpin turn of the course and headed back towards the monuments.

Running over Memorial Bridge with this view will never get old

Running over Memorial Bridge with this view will never get old

The tight hair pin turn on Rock Creek Parkway

The tight hair pin turn on Rock Creek Parkway

It wasn’t until we passed the 5k mark and were headed back towards the monuments that the crowd finally thinned out enough that I could get into a good run-walk rhythm.  Had I not been in the wrong corral and/or the course not been as crowded, I believe I could have shaved at least a minute or two off of my 5k split.  Alas, it was what it was, but I was finally happy to be in a good mindset and rhythm as I ran around the Tidal Basin on Ohio Drive and Independence Avenue.

About forty minutes into the race I took another Gu and continued on my way.  The further I ran, the less frustrated I became about the race.  Ironically, the sun was also shining brighter the further that I ran, and I can’t help but think that the sun’s presence helped to further ease my frustration from how crowded the course had been early on.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day for a race!

It was an absolutely gorgeous day for a race!

The crowd support during the first six miles of the race was incredible.  They definitely helped to ease my frustration from the course weaving and slower runners that I had been surrounded by.  As we headed towards East Potomac Park I encountered one spectator who was cheering everybody on with an Elmo doll.  She was by far my favorite spectator of the entire race.  As we entered East Potomac Park we passed the Brazilian drumline, and hearing their music not only brought a smile to my face but gave me the adrenaline rush I needed as I made my way towards Hain’s Point.

Hearing the Brazilian drumline and seeing Elmo not only brought a smile to my face but helped keep my energy level high as I headed towards Hains Point

Hearing the Brazilian drumline and seeing Elmo not only brought a smile to my face but helped keep my energy level high as I headed towards Hains Point

Miles 7-9 were by far the most boring of the entire race.  As we made our way closer and closer to Hain’s Point the spectators decreased dramatically, but these miles of the course were also the flattest.  Around the 1:20 point, I took another Gu as well as ate a couple of Clif Shot Bloks.  These gave me just the energy I needed as I made my way back towards the Washington Monument, where the finish line of the race was.

Despite the lack of spectators, I absolutely loved running through flat East Potomac Park

Despite the lack of spectators, I absolutely loved running through flat East Potomac Park

The most challenging part of the course was during the last quarter mile, where we encountered the most difficult “hill” of the course.  I use the word hill loosely, as this course was one of the flattest that I’ve run, and nothing quite compares to Calvert Hill at the mile 6 point of the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA course.

The one big "hill" of the CUCB course

The one big “hill” of the CUCB course

As I made my way closer and closer to the finish line I knew that I’d finish in under two hours and meet my C goal.  My official finish time was 1:58:44.  Although I was disappointed that I had been unable to meet either my A or B goals, I was proud of what I’d accomplished, especially given how crowded the course had been during the first three miles of the race.  This was also my first ten mile race, which also means I PRed!  I’m proud of the fact that other than walking through the water stations I maintained 3:1 run-walk intervals for the entire race, and didn’t stop once to use a porta potty like I have during both of my half marathons.

After finishing the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run

After finishing the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run

As I made my way past the finish line, I quickly spotted Preston on the side of the course.  I made my way to retrieve a heatsheet as well as water, and then made my way to him.  What I found odd about the finish area of this race was that it wasn’t secure and that I had to dodge spectators.  What I also found odd was that the food area was completely unsecure, which I’m sure was the biggest reason why when I finished that the only food left was bananas.  When Preston had finished, there had also been granola, chips, and Lara Bars, but those were nowhere to be found.  I heard from many people that spectators had just been helping themselves to the food.  Excuse me, but isn’t the food meant to help the runners with post race recovery, not serve as a snack for spectators?

I will say, Preston didn’t run this race for time, and had a much different race experience than I did.  He ran with Team Red, White & Blue (they started in the Blue Corral), and carried the American flag for several miles.  There was plenty of food when he finished the race, and the finish area was nowhere near as crowded as it was when I finished.  Maybe this race is better targeted toward faster runners only, or those who aren’t concerned about their finish time?

After the race, I got to meet Christine from We Run Disney, who was volunteering at the awards area.  Funny story – she and Preston had met inside the race retreat tent after the Disney World Marathon, and then Preston saw Christine and her mom in passing in Adventureland on our last day at Disney World, but it wasn’t until this race that I finally got to meet Christine in person.  I also got to see Cyanne from Run Stretch Go again, who I had met at the expo on Friday.

With Christine and Cyanne

With Christine and Cyanne

As we headed back towards the Metro, I was on a runner’s high from my race accomplishment as well as having had the opportunity to meet several bloggers during the weekend.  My feelings about the race itself were very mixed though.

Some of the positives of CUCB included:

  • Low registration cost (tech shirt, which I don’t really need more of, and finisher’s medal were upgrades for an extra cost)
  • A well organized expo
  • A flat course that takes you past some of the must see DC sites
  • Great volunteer support at the water stations and all along the course (no race is possible without the volunteers!)

Some of the negatives of CUCB included:

  • Problems with corral placement for multiple runners
  • Not enough corrals (over 17,000 runners divided into only six corrals made for an extremely crowded race)
  • No enforcement of the corrals
  • The water stations were super crowded and runners often had to wait for the volunteers to pour more water and/or Gatorade (more corrals and having fewer runners on top of each other could have easily alleviated this problem)
  • Unsecure finish area where it felt like a free for all with all of the runners and spectators
  • Not enough post race food, which was likely the result of being unsecured and not in a runners only area
  • You had to pay for runner tracking as part of the upgraded version of the race phone app

Will I consider running this race again in the future?  I did love how flat the course was, and for that reason alone I would consider running this race again.  However, I won’t be going out of my way to make it work with other events on my calendar and if I happen not to get into the lottery in the future it might just be a sign that I’m not meant to run this race again.

QOTD: If you ran the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run what are your thoughts on the race?  Did you have a similar experience like I did, or a completely difference experience?

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Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run Expo…and a Pre Race Meltdown

When I started running last March, one of the first races to make it onto my bucket list was the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run.  So when I entered the lottery back in December and found out I had been accepted to run the race, to say I was ecstatic was an understatement.  Sadly, my experience didn’t live up to the hype that I’ve heard about this race, or the high expectations that I had going into race weekend.

Preston and I kicked off our Cherry Blossom race weekend at the expo Friday evening after work.  The expo was held downtown at the National Building Museum.  We debated driving vs. taking the Metro, and opted to drive.  We were very lucky to find street parking right out front of the museum without having to circle to find parking at all.  I thought this would have been a sign of good things to come that weekend.

Given the course time limit of 2 hours and 20 minutes, I knew when I registered that I’d be considered a fairly slow runner for this race.  Preston and I walked inside the museum, and immediately were directed to the second floor to retrieve our bibs.  When Preston ran this race in 2012, he was in the Red Corral (the second of six corrals), and once again was in the Red Corral this year.  Based on the corral breakdowns that had been published online, I guessed that I had been placed in the Green Corral (the fifth of six corrals).  Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I’d wind up in the last corral, but low and behold, I wound up placed in the Purple Corral (the last of the six corrals).  I could have sworn that I had submitted an estimated finish time of 1:50 or 1:55 when I registered for the lottery, and even double checked my race registration e-mail confirmations to see if the time was listed on them, but the estimated time that I sent in was nowhere to be found in any of those e-mails, including my original lottery entry confirmation e-mail.  Thus, I had no proof to take to Runner Relations to try and argue my case.  I had been placed into the wrong corral, and there was nothing I could do about it.

The estimated finish time I submitted should have had me placed in the Green Corral, not the Purple Corral

The estimated finish time I submitted should have had me placed in the Green Corral, not the Purple Corral

The disappointment didn’t initially hit me, partly because I was excited about meeting Cyanne from Run Stretch Go.  After picking up our bibs, we immediately ran into Cyanne in the second floor hallway, and it was great to finally meet her in person!  Big blogger fail though, as we didn’t take a picture, but at least we got one after the race on Sunday!

cucb bib

My bib and race t-shirt

After saying goodbye to Cyanne, Preston and I headed downstairs to get our race shirts and to browse the expo floor.  We quickly got our shirts, chatted for a few minutes with a fellow member of Team Red, White & Blue who was volunteering at shirt pickup, and then stopped at a few expo booths.  The Cherry Blossom expo was much smaller compared to many other race expos, but I was still able to visit Sweaty Bands to pick out a new headband to commemorate the race.  Preston and I also picked up 26.2 and 13.1 magnets for our cars, which we’ll put on once we get our cars washed.  The other highlight of the expo was meeting Cynthia from You Signed Up For What and Mar from Mar On the Run, who are two of the bloggers who host the Friday Five linkup that I participate in every Friday.  No picture again (I know, bad blogger!).

Overall, I found the expo to be extremely organized and efficiently run.  Because of its smaller size, there weren’t many booths to browse, but from the time we entered the museum, being immediately directed upstairs to bib pickup, and then returning downstairs and easily finding the t-shirt back up area couldn’t have gone more smoothly.  They were also offering beers to runners as part of the after work “happy hour” experience, which Preston and I both opted to pass on.  While the expo floor was a bit crowded in some areas, that could have easily been due to the fact that we went during after work hours when many other local runners were also at the expo.

The few items we bought at the expo

The few items we bought at the expo

After spending about an hour at the expo Preston and I headed home.  The reality of my corral placement didn’t hit me until the next morning though.  Because I was in the last corral I knew I wanted to get into my corral as early as possible.  Since I had noticed on the schedule of events at the expo that the time that the corrals would open hadn’t been published, I posted on Twitter, asking if anybody knew when they’d open.  A sweet volunteer, Molly, worked very hard to get my question answered, and despite becoming increasingly upset about the situation (she told me that the corrals would open at 7:15, only 15 minutes before the start of the race, which didn’t seem right to me at all), Molly was super helpful and patient with me.  (I was also at work at the time, proctoring a practice AP World History exam, and the early Saturday morning wake up call didn’t help my mood either.)  After the exam, I headed home, feeling utterly defeated and at that point wasn’t looking forward to the race the next morning.

The reality of my corral misplacement had finally hit me.  I would be starting the race with runners slower than me, which would make it difficult to finish the race in a good time and meet my race goals.  I began to panic about the water stations running out of water, and there not being any food at the end of the race, two horror stories that I’ve heard from other runners about their experiences at other races when they’ve started in the back of the pack.  (Unfortunately, they did run out of most of the food by the time I finished, as all that was left was bananas, but thankfully the water stations still had water.)  I was now going to be one of those runners, and felt as though I was going to be punished for being a slower runner.  I was so upset to the point that Preston suggested that we not run the race, and for a moment I actually contemplated his suggestion.  But then I refocused and refused to let myself not run the race.  After dinner, we set out our race clothes, prepared our bags to check, and set our alarm for the 4:30am wake up call.

My cherry blossom esque Sweaty Bands inspired my choice of shirt for the race

My cherry blossom-esque Sweaty Bands inspired my choice of shirt for the race

I wasn’t as mentally prepared for this race as I should have been.  I knew that there was nothing I could do about what the race directors had handed me, and that I’d have to do the best that I could given the situation.  Despite how defeated I felt before even arriving at the start line, I tried to put on my best game face as I went to bed the night before my first ten mile race.

QOTD: Have you ever gone into a race not in the right mindset?  How did it affect your race experience?

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Weekly Training Log – Week of March 31st

This past week I focused on a combination of weight training, something I’ve let slip to the wayside for several weeks now, as well as keeping it easy on the running front since I ran the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run yesterday morning.  Between that and taking advantage of the gorgeous Spring weather that has finally arrived, and of course running my first ten miler yesterday morning, it was a very productive and successful week.

On Saturday Preston and I took Riley for a nice four mile walk and enjoyed the beautiful weather and scenery on the Mt. Vernon Trail

On Saturday Preston and I took Riley for a nice four mile walk and enjoyed the beautiful weather and scenery on the Mt. Vernon Trail

After finishing Sunday's Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run

After finishing Sunday’s Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run

Mon 3/31 – 2.55 mile treadmill run, 0.25 mile cool down walk, kettlebell squat swings, abs, legs, glutes

Tues 4/1 – Rest day

Wed 4/2 – 2.45 mile treadmill run, 0.30 mile cool down walk, abs, chest, shoulders, arms

Thurs 4/3 – Rest day

Fri 4/4 – Rest day

Sat 4/5 – 4.01 mile walk on the Mt. Vernon Trail, 30 minutes of yoga

Sun 4/6 – Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run (RunKeeper logged my run as 10.13 miles), foam rolling

Total Weekly Mileage – 19.69 miles

QOTD: What activities are you partaking in as a way to enjoy Spring finally arriving?

Don’t forget to enter my Spartan Race Giveaway!  You have until tomorrow night at midnight to enter for your chance to win an entry to the Spartan Race of your choice.

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