Friday Five – Where I’m Looking Forward to Running this Summer

Running during the summer is far from easy, and I was very much reminded of that this past week.  On Monday, I had to cut my training run short because of the heat.  My body had a very difficult time adjusting while I was running, and at the 5k point I decided to listen to my body and stop running, and walk the rest of the way home.

Today’s Friday Five topic is Summer Running Tips, and I’ve shared a couple posts in the past on this topic (you can check them out here and here).  I’ve also shared tips on how to stay motivated to run during the summer.  So instead of repeating myself, I thought that I would instead share five places that I am looking forward to running this summer.

1.  While I am home with little man this summer, I am hoping that on at least a couple of occasions I will be able to take him running in the BOB stroller to see some of my favorite D.C. sights.  When we lived closer to the city, I loved being able to park at Gravelly Point near the airport and run along the Potomac River on the Mt. Vernon Trail.  Although that it is now almost a 45 minute drive from our house, I’m hoping to be able to make a run along that trail happen at least once this summer.

Views of the gorgeous D.C. Cherry Blossoms along the Mount Vernon Trail during a run back in 2013

2.  Next month we will be in State College, PA for a friend’s wedding.  The day of the wedding my marathon training plan calls for a 14 mile long run.  Although the bride isn’t a runner, one of her bridesmaids is, and she is also familiar with the area.  Her other friend has shared with me a couple of possible running routes, and I’m looking forward to exploring a brand new area while out on my run.

3.  Next month little man and I will also be headed up to northern New Jersey to meet my parents at my grandfather’s house.  He passed away back in January, and my parents are in the process of cleaning out his house and preparing it to go on the market.  I ran there last summer when we visited my grandfather, and am well aware of how hilly the neighborhood is.  Although I know that running there will be a challenge, I’m looking forward to a couple of last runs around his neighborhood.

The hilly view during a run in New Jersey last summer

4.  We will be headed to my parents’ house in Illinois later this summer.  I always look forward to our visits there for numerous reasons, including how flat the terrain in Illinois is.  I have a 16 mile long run planned for while we’re there, and I’m looking forward to completing it on the trail that runs through town.

5.  I am also looking forward to when Preston and I head to Antigua for a week long vacation in August.  I absolutely love anything and everything that has to do with running at the beach.  And although it doesn’t look like a lengthy run will be possible without completing it on the treadmill at the resort gym, I am looking forward to logging however many miles I can at the beach and running around the resort.

QOTD: Where are you looking forward to running this summer?

I’m linking up for the Friday Five 2.0 linkup.  Many thanks to the wonderful ladies at Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy for hosting!

Posted in Training | Tagged , , , | 35 Comments

Chicago Marathon Training Log – Week 1

As you may recall, the Chicago Marathon will be my first full marathon.  I decided to make training for and running my first marathon about more than just the physical running, and will be running Chicago as a member of Team Ronald McDonald House Charities.  I am currently more than 90% of the way towards reaching my initial fundraising goal.  I hope to reach my initial goal soon so that I can increase my goal and continue to raise funds for an incredibly worthy cause.

This past week was the kick off to my marathon training.  It was an exciting week filled with lots of highs on the fitness front.  I can only hope that the success and excitement from this past week will continue on for the next 17 weeks, especially as my mileage increases and I move closer to race day.

Monday, June 5th

I kicked off marathon training with a 45 minute run on one of my usual running routes.  Even with the high humidity, I am still amazed that I ran a sub 10:00 pace.  The humidity made it incredibly difficult to maintain consistent splits (they ranged from 9:28-10:04), but being on the high of kicking off marathon training made that not matter to me at all.

One very humid run later (so humid that the end of my ponytail was wet!) and I could officially say that I’ve started training for my first marathon!

Tuesday, June 6th

My sister had been in town, and since Tuesday evening was her last night here I decided to take the day off from any training to be able to maximize my time with her.  We ordered sushi for dinner (getting take out on a weeknight is a huge rarity for us), and we enjoyed our time together.

Wednesday, June 7th

I celebrated Global Running Day with my second training run of the week.  The temperature and humidity were much lower than they had been Monday evening, which allowed for me to run at a much faster pace.  Compared to Monday’s run, I felt like I had been flying!

Lower temps and lower humidity allowed for a very speedy run on Global Running Day.

Thursday, June 8th

After work I headed to the gym for a cross training and weight training session, where I spent 30 minutes on the elliptical followed by 30 minutes of full body weight training.

Friday, June 9th

Since it was the day before my long run for the week, and my lower body was sore from the previous day’s workout, I took the day off from training.

Saturday, June 10th

My first long run of marathon training was a huge reality check of what summer running involves.  Although the distance of my run was far from my current personal distance record (I only ran a 10k), the blazing sun, coupled with pushing the BOB stroller on a route with rolling hills, made for a very challenging run.  The further that I ran, the slower my pace became, and towards the end of my run I had to take more frequent walk breaks.  I only had two splits that were over 11 minutes long, and for such a challenging run I’ll consider that a success.  I finished up the run with a 1.15 mile walk.

I forgot how hard long runs in the summer are, especially on routes with rolling hills. But at least I had my little running buddy with me to help cheer me on!

Sunday, June 11th

Little man and I walked to run errands in the morning (well I walked, he rode in the stroller).  Thank goodness the basket underneath of the BOB holds a lot, since we bought quite a few groceries while we were out during our more than 3 mile walk.

Total Weekly Mileage – 23.30 miles

Total Chicago Marathon Mileage – 23.30 miles

QOTD: How do you mentally handle the challenge of training for a race during the summer?

I’m linking up with Holly from HoHo Runs and Tricia from MissSippiPiddlin for the Weekly Wrap link up.  I’m also linking up with Courtney for the Training Recap link up.  Be sure to check out their posts as well.

Posted in Chicago Marathon Training, Training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 56 Comments

Friday Five – Tips for Training While on Vacation

Today’s Friday Five theme is working out while on vacation.  While many people look forward to relaxing while on vacation, this does not mean that you have to keep yourself from being active.  In fact, being on vacation is a great opportunity to switch up your routine in order explore new activities that you might not be able to do at home.

My husband and I will be spending a week in Antigua in August to celebrate our wedding anniversary.  In August I will be at the height of marathon training, which means that I cannot just take the week off from training, or any physical activity for that matter.  As part of planning for our trip, I’m also exploring options for not only keeping up with my running while we’re away but also other cross and strength training opportunities.  What are some of the things that I have done so far and/or plan to do that you can also do, depending on where you are headed for vacation?

1.  Determine whether or not the place that you will be staying at has a fitness center, and whether or not the equipment is well maintained.  I have explored multiple websites and looked into the resort’s fitness center, including on the resort’s website, Trip Advisor, and Oyster.  I have also joined a “Fans of the HOTEL” Facebook group.  After posting a question in the group about running at the resort, as well as looking through photos on various websites, it looks like the fitness center will be a great option for keeping up with my training while away.

2.  Set realistic expectations for yourself.  I know that it is unrealistic to expect that I complete a high mileage long run while we’re away.  Not only do I not want to spend hours on the treadmill, but I will be on vacation and will want to be spending time relaxing with my husband.  While putting my training calendar together, I made adjustments to my long run mileage for while we’re away so that I don’t set myself up for failure and/or disappointment with not keeping up with my training plan.

3.  Explore alternative options for cross training and/or strength training.  Are there activities and/or sports that are available where you’re staying that you wouldn’t normally do at home?  Being on vacation is a great time to try something new while also offering the opportunity to still stay active.  There is daily pool aerobics at the resort that we’re staying at, and I’m looking forward to being active in the pool while also enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery.  A number of water sports are also available at the resort where we’re staying, including snorkeling, so not only will I be able to be active but I’ll also get to explore some of what’s underwater.

Snorkeling in Hawaii during our honeymoon in 2011

4.  Enjoy the drinks and food while you’re away, but don’t overindulge.  The last thing that you want to do is feel sick from eating and/or drinking too much while away.  If you feel sick, then you won’t want to be active.

5.  Allow yourself to back off with the frequency and intensity of your workouts.  After all, being on vacation is usually an opportunity for people to relax and destress.  There is a difference between being completely inactive and reducing the amount of intense workouts that you do while away.  One week of less activity, or less intensity, that you’re used to won’t have a negative impact on your overall fitness and training, even if you are training for a major race.

QOTD: What tips do you have for keeping up with training while on vacation?

I’m linking up for the Friday Five 2.0 linkup.  Many thanks to the wonderful ladies at Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy for hosting!

Posted in Training, Travel | Tagged , , | 32 Comments

2017 Ringing in Hope 10k Recap

My main motivation behind registering for this year’s Ringing in Hope 10k was the desire to secure a new 10k PR, which would allow me to send a faster proof of time to runDisney for next February’s Princess Half Marathon.  Since I PRed on the Ringing in Hope 10k course last Memorial Day, I registered again with the hope of doing so again this year.  Despite my concerns about the rainy weather and wet roads the morning of the race, I was able to successfully PR and meet my A goal.

I arrived at One Loudoun where the start and finish line of the race was about 30 minutes before the start of the race.  Since this was a local race, I knew that arriving any earlier than that was not headed.  I quickly retrieved by race bib and shirt, dropped my shirt back off in the car, ran into Starbucks to use the bathroom, and then headed to the start line just as the 5k started.  The 10k started about ten minutes later.

During the first mile of the race, I felt as though I was flying, and was worried that I started the race at too fast of a pace.  However, as I ran further along the course, which had rolling hills and weaved through local neighborhoods, I realized that it was very likely that I would PR that morning.  Even though each split during the first four miles was slightly slower than the last, I was able to maintain an overall pace that was significantly faster than what I needed in order to PR.  By the time I reached mile 4, I was confident that I would in fact PR, it just became a matter of how much I would PR by.

Splits for Miles 1-4:
9:18, 9:26, 9:39, 9:46

On the course around mile 4.5

At the water station around mile 4.5 I ran past Amy, who I knew was volunteering at the race, I just didn’t know exactly where I would find her along the course.  During the entire race I had been on the lookout for her, and I got a burst of energy when I saw her at the water station.  I couldn’t help but smile and wave when I saw her.  Her encouragement helped me to push myself slightly faster as I headed back towards the town center where the start and finish line of the race was.

Splits for Miles 5-6.28:
9:28, 9:22, 2:21 (last 0.28)

Running towards the finish line
Photo Credit: PR Races

I crossed the finish line at 59:22 (9:34 pace).  I was able to successfully cut over 90 seconds off of my previous 10k PR of 1:01:01 (9:50 pace).  To say that I was happy with my race morning performance is an understatement.  I could not wait to get home to submit my new proof of time to runDisney, which I did that afternoon.  Posting my new 10k PR to my Active.com account was an incredible way to celebrate my accomplishment.

QOTD: How do you celebrate meeting your race goals?

Posted in Milestones, Races | Tagged , , , | 30 Comments

Let Marathon Training Begin!

Today is a day that I’ve been highly anticipating since back in October when I first registered for the Chicago Marathon: it is the official kickoff to my marathon training!  I have so many thoughts and feelings about starting to train for my first marathon: I’m excited, I’m scared, I’m nervous, I’m anxious, the list goes on.  But one thing is for certain: after running 13 half marathons I’m ready to take on this new challenge.

I’ll be using an 18 week training plan, which combines aspects of plans from Jeff Galloway, Hal Higdon, and Coach Brendan.  I’ve had to make some adjustments and modifications, particularly to some of the long run distances, because of activities on our summer and early fall calendar.  We will be traveling quite a bit this summer, and while some places we’re going to are very running friendly, and I shouldn’t have any major obstacles to getting my planned runs in, other locations will be more challenging.

Next month we will be in Pennsylvania for a wedding, so I will be running in unfamiliar territory, though I’m thankful that the bride is working with another friend who is familiar with the area to help me plot out a running route for my long run the day of the wedding.  Preston and I will be out of the country for a week in August to celebrate our anniversary, so again I’ll be running in unfamiliar territory.  Thankfully, the resort we’re staying at looks to have a well equipped and maintained gym, so I foresee lots of treadmill running in my future for that week.  I have joined a “Fans of the Resort” group on Facebook, and asked last week about places to run, and while most people who responded said that paths at the resort aren’t great for running more than a couple of miles, I’ve read nothing but positive feeding about the condition of the treadmills.  We have other travel plans as well, so one of my biggest challenges this summer will be keeping up with my training plan in the midst of also being away from home.

Despite all of the challenges, I’m incredibly excited to be running with Team RMHC and to run in memory of my friend Tammy (pictured third from the left in our Sophomore Homecoming picture above).  When I started considering potential first marathons to run, I knew that I wanted for it to be a meaningful experience, so when I came across the opportunity to run for Ronald McDonald House Charities, I knew that I had to jump at the opportunity.  You can read more about why I chose to run with Team RMHC here, and you can visit my fundraising page here.  I would greatly appreciate any and all support for RMHC, and remember, no donation is too small.

I do plan to run some races while training, which will help me in the motivation department for some of the very long runs.  While my summer and early fall race calendar is still quite tentative, some of the races that I might possibly be running include:

August 20th – Leesburg 20k
September 3rd – Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon
September 17th – Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon

I cannot wait to get home from work today and kick off my training with a run this afternoon!

QOTD: What new challenges have you recently taken on?

Thanks to Deb for hosting the Race Linkup.  Be sure to check out her post for more race ideas.

Posted in Races, Training | Tagged , , | 47 Comments

I’ve Run 50 Races!

Monday was a monumental day.  Not only did I secure a new 10k PR for myself at the Ringing in Hope 10k (which I will recap once I receive my race photos), but it was also the 50th race that I have run since I started running back in 2013.  For somebody who thought that they were not cut out to be a runner, I am quite proud of having run as much as I have over the past four years.  And I’m excited to celebrate this milestone by running my 51st race, and 13th half marathon, tomorrow morning at ZOOMA Annapolis.

Over the past four years I have run:

12 half marathons
1 20k
3 ten milers
11 10ks
2 8ks
19 5ks
2 three milers

In addition to the races that I have run, I have also walked an additional two.

Since I love taking trips down memory lane I thought that it would be fun to recognize some of my most significant race experiences.

Most Memorable Race: Disney World Half Marathon – January 2014

Not only was the Disney World Half my first half marathon, but it was also my goal race when I first set my sights on starting to run.  Preston ran the entire race with me (he ran the race as part of the inaugural Dopey Challenge), and I will never forget holding his hand as we crossed the finish line together.

Crossing the finish line of my first half marathon in January 2014.
Photo Credit: MarathonFoto

Most Challenging Race: Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Half Marathon – March 2017

Rock ‘n’ Roll DC is well known for its challenging course.  But that is not why I’m recognizing it as my most challenging race to date.  The weather for this year’s race was downright brutal, with the temperature in the 20s during most of the race, and the wind chill in the teens.  I am not a fan of the cold to begin with, and running a race in such cold air was definitely a test of my endurance.

Trying to warm up post race

Most Rewarding Race: ZOOMA Annapolis Half Marathon – June 2016

ZOOMA Annapolis was the first half marathon that I fully ran after giving birth to my son.  At just over five months postpartum, I took to the hilly streets of Annapolis on an incredibly hot and humid morning.  I could not believe how strong I felt throughout the race, and that I managed to PR that morning.  My hard work and persistence during my postpartum recovery definitely paid off that morning.

After crossing the finish line at ZOOMA Annapolis last June

Most Fun Race: Wine and Dine Half Marathon – November 2016

When I run races at Disney World, I run them with zero time goals in mind, and 100% focus on having fun.  Preston and I had a blast running Wine and Dine last year, and stopped at almost every photo opportunity along the course.

With the Genie
Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass

Most Proud of Finishing: Shamrock Half Marathon – March 2015 and Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon – October 2015

Each of these races was challenging for very different reasons.  I ran Shamrock less than two months after a major car accident that left my car totaled and me with a back injury.  But I pushed through, and with the support of the chiropractor that I started seeing after the car accident managed to still train for Shamrock.  Despite the back pain that I had during the race, I still managed to cross the finish line upright, and with a new PR.

After finishing the Shamrock Half Marathon

I ran/walked Rock ‘n’ Roll Philly at 32 weeks pregnant.  Completing all 13.1 miles at RnRPhilly is one of the most physically challenging things that I have ever done.  My pace slowed significantly the further that I ran/walked, but I did it.  The baby and I earned our medal that day!

After completing Rock ‘n’ Roll Philly at 32 weeks pregnant

QOTD: What race are you most proud of having finished?

I’m linking up for the Friday Five 2.0 linkup.  Many thanks to the wonderful ladies at Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy for hosting!

Posted in Milestones, Races | Tagged , , , , , , | 46 Comments

June 2017 Goals

As I shared in Monday’s post, the month of May has been an incredibly busy one.  Between it being testing season at school, knowing that Preston would be out of the country for work, and needing to take a mental and physical break from training before I start marathon training at the beginning of June, I set my goals for May accordingly.  And even with May being a busy month, it was also a very productive and successful month on the fitness front.

1.  Log at least 60 miles.

Grade: A++++

Looking back to a month ago when I set this goal for myself, I realize that I completely underestimated my abilities.  As of last night, my May mileage is sitting at 88.7 miles.  Regardless of whether I exercise this afternoon or not, I am ecstatic that I crushed my mileage goal for the month.  For the year, I’m currently at 426.8 miles, which is 43% of the way towards meeting my 2017 goal of 1,000 miles.  I’m starting to wonder if I have underestimated my mileage capacity for the year, and whether I’ll need to alter my 2017 mileage goal.

2.  Strength train at least two times per week.

Grade: B

Every week except for last week I successfully met this goal.  Last week I only made it a priority to strength train once.  However, there were a couple of weeks when I exceeded my goal and found time for three strength training sessions.

3.  Cross train at least two times per week.

Grade: A

Every week during the month I cross trained at least twice, if not three times, per week.  About half of the time my cross training was done on the elliptical at the gym, the other half consisted of taking little man for a walk.

We love our evening walks together!

4.  Lose 4 pounds.

Grade: C

Of my four goals for May, this one was the hardest goal for me.  Two weeks ago I shared how loosing weight isn’t just a physical challenge, its also an emotional one.  Although I only lost two of the four pounds that I attempted to loose, I am noticing that some of my clothes are fitting better.  I also know that I’ve gained muscle over the past month.  Progress is progress, even if I am not seeing the number on the scale that I want to see.

June is going to be an incredibly exciting month.  Not only will I be kicking off marathon training next week, but June will also mark the end of the current school year.  I am so excited about being home for the summer with my little man, but that doesn’t mean that I can let all of the excitement distract me from staying on track with my fitness.

1.  Log at least 100 miles.

Seeing a triple digit mileage goal is incredibly scary.  I have yet to reach a triple digit mileage total for a month, but I know that marathon training will push me to reach new mileage totals, and I’m excited to see how my body handles the increased mileage.

2.  Strength train at least two times per week.

I want to maintain this goal for another month.  As my marathon training progresses and the mileage increases, it will be more important than ever to keep my body strong in order to help prevent injury.

3.  Cross train at least two times per week.

Just like with strength training, cross training will be increasingly important as my weekly mileage increases.

4.  Lose 2 pounds.

I am determined to loose the last of the weight that I tried to loose in May.  Hopefully I’ll finally see the success that I was after this past month.

QOTD: What are your goals for June?

I’m linking up with Ange and Carmy for the Monthly Goals linkup.  Be sure to check out their posts as well.

Posted in Motivation | Tagged , , , | 42 Comments

Catching Up!

Today’s blog post is only my eighth blog post for the month of May.  My lack of writing lately was not planned, but life got quite busy, and something had to give.  So what’s been going on with me lately?

The month of May is one of the busiest months of the school year, as it is testing season.  Not only did my AP students take their AP exam mid-month, but Virginia state testing was the main focus at school for the second half of the month.  I put in a lot of late afternoons at school working with students, which meant I had less time for writing blog posts, and reading and commenting on others’ blogs.

Last week Preston was out of the country for the week for work.  Although my dad was here and helped out quite a bit, there was still a lot of stress when it came to being the only parent around.  There are just some times when a child only wants Mommy or Daddy, not their grandfather.

Little man loved being able to read stories with his Papa while he was here

Even with the past several weeks being incredibly busy, I have managed to keep up with my fitness and am almost 100% on track with my May goals.  We have had so many beautiful weather days this month, and I have loved being able to get outside, exercise, and take advantage of as many nice days as I have been able to.  I’ve been keeping up with running twice a week, and have spent more time this month than in previous months focusing on cross and strength training.

Last week I received my official “Welcome to Team RMHC” packet, which included my training shirt and a motivational note from the team captain.  I cannot believe that one week from today I will kick off my marathon training.  I’m excited and scared all at the same time.

So yes, its been quite a busy couple of weeks recently.  I’m looking forward to the end of the school year in late June so that I can relax a bit more and devote more time to the things that I enjoy doing, including blogging.

QOTD: What’s been going on with you lately?

Posted in Miscellaneous | Tagged , | 23 Comments

My Goals for Monday’s Ringing in Hope 10k

After registering for the Princess Half Marathon and Glass Slipper Challenge, which I will be running in February, I knew that I wanted to attempt at least once to improve my 10k personal record.  Because runDisney allows for runners to submit a 10k race time as proof of time for corral placement, my main goal is to PR at Monday’s race.  I ran this race last year, and my current 10k PR was set at last year’s race (which is 1:01:01, 9:50 pace).  Having run this race just a year ago, I am familiar with the course, and hope that will work to my advantage on Monday.

Running towards the finish line at last year’s Ringing in Hope 10k
Photo Credit: PR Races

Since I have only been running twice a week for the past month, I am a bit uncertain as to how Monday’s race will go.  I am optimistic that I will be able to run a strong race, given that I have felt strong during the majority of my runs over the past month.  However, I haven’t been “in training” for a specific race, so I am also trying to be realistic about how Monday’s race could go.

As usual, I have set three goals for myself:

Goal A – Finish the race in under 1:00:27 (9:45 pace)

Goal B – Finish the race in under 1:00:58 (9:50 pace)

Goal C – Finish the race in under 1:02:00 (10:00 pace)

Hopefully the weather will cooperate and that it won’t be overly humid for Monday’s race.  After having several days of 90 degree weather last year, we’ve been facing much cooler temperatures and have had lots of rain over the past couple of days.  Its still a bit too early to rely too heavily on the current forecast, but you can bet that with each day that passes that I’ll be checking the weather more frequently in hopes of a favorable race day forecast.

QOTD: How much does the weather affect your race day performance?

Posted in Races | Tagged , , , | 29 Comments

Friday Five – Current Countdowns

May is always exciting for so many reasons.  Not only does it mean that the end of the school year is in sight, but it also means that summer is right around the corner.  As usual, our summer is going to be quite busy and filled with lots of activities.  Some of my current countdowns include:

1.  1 day until my dad arrives.  My dad will be here for a week, starting tomorrow.  We’re excited to have him stay with us while he’s here meeting with clients.  I have no doubt that he’ll be amazed by how much little man has grown since we last saw him.

2.  15 days until ZOOMA Annapolis.  I ran ZOOMA last June, and I cannot wait to run the half marathon again this year.  With marathon training right around the corner, I will be running this race “for fun” and will be focused on enjoying the course and the race itself instead of obsessing about my pace and crossing the finish line in a certain time.  (Want to join myself and many other wonderful ladies at ZOOMA Annapolis this year?  There’s still time to register, and you can save 10% by using discount code KATHRYN2017.)

After crossing the finish line at ZOOMA Annapolis last June

3.  17 days until marathon training starts.  Although I’ve been enjoying my break from training, I’m eagerly anticipating the start of marathon training.  I’m excited, nervous, and scared about training for my first marathon, which I am told are all normal feelings to have just before starting training.  I am more than ready to start my journey towards running the Chicago Marathon!

4.  38 days until the last day of school.  Yes, we don’t end our school year until the last week of June.  I am quite jealous of those of you in other areas of the country that are about to start summer break.

5.  72 days until Preston and I celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary.  Its hard to believe that its already been six years since we said “I do” to each other!

Photo Credit: Mark Romine Photography

QOTD: What are you looking forward to this summer?

I’m linking up for the Friday Five 2.0 linkup.  Many thanks to the wonderful ladies at Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy for hosting!

Posted in Miscellaneous, Races | Tagged , , , | 40 Comments