Cherry Blossom 10-Miler

Last Sunday’s Cherry Blossom 10-miler in Washington, DC marked a great start to the racing season!  The temps were in the high 40′s creeping into the 50′s, the sky was blue, the cherry blossoms were just starting to bloom, and there were good crowds cheering along the way.  I ran the first five miles with my friend Nicole.  It’s amazing how much faster the miles go by when you have someone to chat with along the way. And then finished off the last half on my own.  Felt pretty good the whole time with just a bit of exhaustion kicking in during the last 800 yards as I made my way up a slight incline to the finish line (why do race officials always seem to put the hills at the end?).

Cherry Blossom Race 2014

It was  a great morning to be out running and I even set a new personal record for the 10-miler (beating my time at last year’s race by a minute and twenty seconds) at 1:23:59 (8:23.8 pace).  Cherry Blossom Race 2 2014

I saw the elite women run by at the very beginning of my race. I thought it was neat that the fourth fastest woman to finish (also in my age group) was Sara Hall, wife to the famous runner Ryan Hall from Arizona. She finished in under an hour with a 5+ minute/mile pace!   I meanwhile finished 297 out of 2,325 in my age group and 4,029 out of 17,861 finishers.  Cherry Blossom Race 3 2014

The day ended with a delicious brunch with my boot camp buddies!  It was fun talking to my friends who ran their first 10-miler and seeing all the awesome times people crushed!

Here’s to springtime running!

 

 

 

 

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Running Deep Thoughts

While I’d like to make myself sound incredibly wise and tell you that when I go out for a run there are many deep thoughts running through my head, more often than not, the exact opposite is happening. I notice what other joggers are wearing, who does/doesn’t smile (or wave) when they run by me, who I pass or who passes me, and other things that are probably too embarrassing to post! I wish that during my runs I was able to solve life’s big questions, but rather that time provides me the opportunity to get the junk out of my head. Life ain’t perfect and sometimes our brains can use a timeout from the stresses that life has a way of bearing. The sound of my own breath is enough to reset myself and give myself a little grace that I don’t have to solve everything during that time. And that is just fine by me.

Runners and non-runners alike probably can all agree that we runners come from a different breed. A lot of people don’t get that logging miles, getting faster and breaking PRs is addicting. But I agree we are a little nutty. Have you ever been on a run and asked yourself, “What possessed me to come out in 17 degree weather today?” or “Why am I up THIS early?” or even better, “Why am I running another marathon and why won’t this blister go away!” (well duh! This said to myself at Mile 18 of a marathon). People say having a baby is the most painful thing a woman will ever go through in life, but that you immediately forget the pain (why would people choose to go through it again if they didn’t). Well running is kind of like that…we push through the pain and love it even when we ask ourselves why we are doing it. It’s addicting and challenging and there is always room to grow.

As my first race of the season is only a few days away, I’ll leave you with some BuzzFeed humor to close this post. I know that I particularly found some truth in a number of these and many more came to my mind as I read. Hope you enjoy and don’t take yourself too seriously as a crazy runner like me!

“75 Thoughts Every Runner Has While Out On A Run”

BuzzFeed, by Erin Chack

http://www.buzzfeed.com/erinchack/thoughts-every-jogger-has-while-out-for-a-running

1. What a beautiful day for a jog!

2. This sucks.

3. Well, five miles is only two and half miles each way, which is basically two miles each way, so I’m really only running four miles. That’s not too far.

4. It’s starting to feel far.

5. How long have I been running? A year?

6. SIX MINUTES?!

7. I can barely remember what my life was like before I started this run.

8. OK, concentrate. There are still four-plus miles to go.

9. But who counts the first and last mile? This is pretty much an easy three miler.

10. Oh, shit! A fellow jogger!

11. Should I wave?

12. I’m totally gonna wave.

13. OOOK, they didn’t wave back. Never doing that again.

14. Just keep running, no one saw. Except that old guy who may or may not be averting his eyes.

15. Man, I think I’m hitting that “second wind” thing my gym coach was talking about.

16. Wait, never mind. I’ve been running down a decline.

17. If I leap to avoid dog shit, does that make me a CrossFit athlete?

18. What the heck is CrossFit anyway?

19. Mental reminder: Google CrossFit when I get home.

20. If I ever get home.

21. If I had a heart attack right now, I wonder who would find my body.

22. OMG, I hope I never find a dead body. Joggers always find dead bodies.

23. Bodies. Body. Bod-ay. Runnin’ all day, no one can catch … may.

24. OK, I must be halfway done by now.

25. What?! Only two miles in?

26. Alright, stay focused. What am I going to eat when I get home?

27. I’m running five miles so I should probably eat five slices of pizza.

28. Or I could buy one pizza and ask them to cut it into five slices.

29. I should probably get a side salad too.

30. …

31. F*** the salad actually.

32. Man, what are these people doing in front of me? Walking?!

33. Is this a contest to see who’s the worst at walking? Because you are both champions in my heart.

34. Maybe if I pound my feet on the ground they’ll hear me coming and let me pass.

35. Oh, God. They didn’t turn around and now I’m right behind them. They’re going to think they’re getting mugged by the world’s sweatiest criminal.

36. You know what? Now seems like a good time to run in the street.

37. * Jumps off curb * Parkour!

38. Hi hi hi please don’t hit me with your car.

39. Pedestrian pedestrianizing over here, let me cross.

40. Thank you, Mr. Blue Honda. I’m trying to smile at you but it probably looks like I’m having a stroke.

41. Actually, I wonder what I look like right now.

42. * Checks out reflection in shop window * Yeesh.

43. Is that what I look like when I run? What am I, a newborn deer with a drinking problem?

44. Whatever, I must be almost done by now.

45. Heck yes. Three miles down, two to go. It’s all downhill from here.

46. Except for that very real uphill in front of me. God damnit.

47. Wait, is that… Is that…

48. A DOG!

49. Hi dog! You are so cute. You are now my mascot. I will finish this run for you, pup.

50. And — hello — what do we have here? Your human is pretty cute too.

51. Hope you like drunk fawns, Cute Human.

52. Watch my bambi ass prance up this hill.

53. Holy shit, prancing is exhausting. I am exhausted.

54. Honestly, I don’t even like running.

55. Why do I even run?

56. Why does anyone even run?

57. Why are we even alive?

58. OK, let’s not go down that road.

59. Focus. Focus on that sweet, delicious ‘za waiting at the finish line, calling your name with its cheesy breath.

60. Wait, less than one mile to go? I am KILLING this run.

61. I AM THE SWIFTEST GOD OF ALL TWO-LEGGED CREATURES.

62. YES, including ostriches.

63. Honestly, I should sign up for a marathon.

64. What is it, like 30 miles?

65. That’s just 15 miles each way, which is practically 10, and 10 is twice five, and I can run five miles EASY.

66. That’s it, I’m doing it. Thirty miles.

67. Thirty mile marathon… 30 mile marathon…30 Rock marathon.

68. On second thought, I’ll probably just binge-watch every episode of 30 Rock. That takes a lot of dedication and I will be winded from laughing so hard.

69. But I could probably do a marathon IF I wanted.

70. OK, almost home. Should I shower first and order pizza or order pizza and shower before it shows up?

71. Yep, definitely ordering first. I earned that shit.

72. Oh, no. Oh god no. Another runner. Should I wave?

73. No, be strong! Do not get burned again.

74. OMG, SHE waved first! Hello! Yes! We are both runners! Look at us run!

75. I guess running’s not so bad.

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A Blogger’s Life

A friend recently asked me for advice on blogging and it got me thinking more about why I blog and what I hope to achieve with my work. Interestingly enough I must have been thinking about my blog as well (I’ve had a bit of writer’s block on posts due to this long winter) and was in the middle of reading the new book “Share Like An Artist” by Austin Kleon.  

I began blogging in 2011 as a way to document marathon training. I always have enjoyed writing and thought the blog would be a great way to share some of my journey in this world. Since then my site has morphed into much more than I ever anticipated. Kleon shares that we need to be amateurs who “are not afraid to make mistakes or look ridiculous in public….they know that contributing something is better than contributing nothing…they’re all lifelong learners, and they make a point of learning in the open, so that others can learn from their failures and successes.”

Putting yourself out there on the Internet can be daunting and sometimes I think, hmmm….I have people following my blog from clear across the globe. That’s a little bit of a scary thought, but also pretty cool! A friend of mine told me a few months ago that she loves reading my posts and that it really inspires her. So if I didn’t put words to the computer I would never have an impact on her in that way. While, I may never know for sure what the value of my words have on other peoples’ lives, it is encouraging to know that there are friends and strangers reading.

The book by Kleon has encouraged me to tap into my inner creativity and provided a refreshing dose of food for thought—some of my takeaways to apply to this space include:

  • Share something small every day

  • Reach out more to other online bloggers in my sphere of interest

  • Fill my pages with my ideas and things I care about

  • Expand my audience

  • Think bigger every day

  • Never quit! 

We all need many things in our life to make us feel complete. My list includes: eating healthy, Bible study and prayer, exercise, surrounding myself with positive people, talking to and spending time with my family and friends, staying organized, the sun…and much more. And when I go days and weeks on end without writing a blog post I can tell something is missing. So why go through life doing things that make us feel unlike ourselves.  Might as well make the most of our days and take advantage of life’s beautiful moments. My blog is one way I hope to give back to the world.

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Don’t Break Your Neck!

One great thing about living near a major city is that there are always new opportunities for adventures.  My latest one took me back about 20 years to the days of the trampoline.  Flight Trampoline Park opened four weeks ago in Springfield, Virginia as the latest fitness rage. So six girlfriends and I decided to give it a whirl!

Flight Trampoline 1 Flight Trampoline, Group Shot 2

Picture a big room filled with trampolines, but in a much safer layout than the backyard trampolines we grew up with.  You won’t have your mom yelling at you here to be careful because you might break your neck!  There are padded walls surrounding the 50 connected trampolines and they are not far off the ground either.  The site’s website states, “a recent study of trampoline parks across the US found an injury incident rate of 0.02%, with the most common injuries being trampoline burns and bruises…a better safety rating than any competitive sport; even safer than bowling!”  Young 20-somethings work the floor to ensure everyone is being safe (I got yelled at for sitting for all of 5 seconds!).  There are also specific trampoline areas designated for dodgeball, basketball slam dunk, and a foam pit.

Flight Trampoline, me bball

Flight Trampoline, me in actionFlight Trampoline, me in action 3Flight Trampoline, me in action 4

We had a blast, as you can see from my facial expressions, and I’ll admit it was an awesome cardio workout.  My heart rate was raised and we all laughed at ourselves and relished when one of our friends did a flip into the pit (I was afraid to try!).   Trampoline cross-fit style classes are starting up in April and I am certain that it would be an amazing workout.  I’m not so sure you’ll see me there on a Friday night when the laser lights come on and the music blares a little louder…I might get shown up by a teenager!  But I’m sure I’ll go again and would love to hear your thoughts on this and other adventures to try.

Check out my other critiques of alternative fitness routines.  I don’t claim to have any special skills in any of these arenas!

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Will Run For Beignets

Last week I was in New Orleans for work.  I arrived on Ash Wednesday, the day after Fat Tuesday. Some might say arriving in the Big Easy the day after Mardis Gras is the best day to be in New Orleans, others might say the worst.  New Orleans signRegardless it was a few days to be out of the office with a little time in between meetings and conferencing to see some sites.  New Orleans run 3Visiting a city where you have already been is exciting in a different way–you are not so focused on seeing it all, but rather getting to revisit places you liked before and anything new is just an added bonus.

If you’ve ever been to New Orleans you know that its known for the food. So after the conference ended, and after eating a lot of heavy food, I decided to throw on my running shoes and head downtown.  New Orleans runThe weather was finally warming up a bit to the low 60′s and I was anxious to get some fresh air.  It was a bustling, and yet relaxing, short jog along the Mississippi Riverfront.  New Orleans run 2Tourists were meandering along taking in the sites and the locals–mainly what I would describe as the homeless, young, gypsies were relaxing along the water’s edge (namely smoking a few joints, but not bothering anyone).  New Orleans run 4My run did not last long though, because you see I had a motive for this run.

There was a purpose to my 0.6 mile run…get some fresh air and make my way faster to the beignets, that is French donuts sold at the famous Café du Monde!  After waiting in line for about 15 minutes I was set…I had a delicious cup of café au lait and three beignets caked in powered sugar.  It was nice to sit there and enjoy one of life’s little pleasures.  Beignets at Cafe du Monde, March 2014

To “walk off” my donuts, I took a walk through the French Quarter which was quite lovely.  I took some pictures of balconies and door frames that were still decorated for Mardis Gras.  Mardis Gras decor 4, New OrleansMardis Gras decor 2, New OrleansThen I made my way down Bourbon Street which was craziness at 4:30 in the afternoon!  I had almost forgotten how much of a culture shock it was to walk down the street, completely sober amidst a sea of rowdy drunkenness.  Mardis Gras decor 3, New OrleansMardis Gras decor 5, New OrleansLive music was blasting from a few bars (I even went into one just to listen for a moment, see video below along with another from a jazz bar the night before). Bourbon Street, New Orleans

I got some pretty interesting comments too from people asking, “How many miles did you run?” and “Wow, people usually don’t exercise around here.”  So I felt a little ridiculous traipsing through that part of town looking all fit (little did they know I had just scarfed down those donuts), but hey it made for good blog fodder.

All in all, running for beignets was worth it.  What do you run for?

me in new orleans 2014

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Embracing January’s Chill

Who’s ready for warm days and cool nights with a nice breeze coming through your open window!?  I’m afraid we have a little bit more of winter to go folks!  Yes, this has been a cold January—perhaps the coldest that I ever remember, and I grew up further north than I live now! I was taking a look at my running stats today and I ran nearly 20 more miles during the month of December than this January.

Morning sunrise on the Potomac River

Morning sunrise on the Potomac River.

Morning boot camp class was canceled a few times due to 0 or below freezing temperatures.  In a way, though, I might just be getting used to the cold (I mean 17 degrees working out yesterday morning actually was not that unbearable.  And today’s 28 degrees felt downright balmy.)  But I’ll admit the bitter cold has a way of getting in the way of workout routines.  I have had my fair share of mornings when I roll back over in bed after I see how cold it is outside.  Working out inside, though, is such a very boring proposition.  But sometimes it must be done. Given the cold temperatures, I have managed to have my share of fun times and here are some highlights…

A lunch time run in early January when things were sort of thawing out, before the BIG freeze came on.

A lunch time run in early January when things were sort of thawing out, before the BIG freeze came on.

An evening walk through the neighborhood to make some snow angels with friends.

A morning boot camp class being pulled on a sled (and doing some bear crawls with the sled and belly flop of my own creation).

A fun and cold 7+ mile run with friends to see the baby panda, Bao Bao, as well as other creatures.  (Rock Creek Parkway, photo credit: Coren Morgan)

A fun and cold 7+ mile run with friends to see the baby panda, Bao Bao, as well as other creatures. (Rock Creek Parkway, photo credit: Coren Morgan)

Bao Bao was sleeping inside but her parents were playing.  I think this is her dad (Photo Credit: Nicole Tidwell)

Bao Bao was sleeping inside but her parents were playing. I think this is her dad. (photo credit: Nicole Tidwell)

Wily looking wolves. (Photo Credit: Nicole Tidwell)

Wily looking wolves. (photo credit: Nicole Tidwell)

Taking a run break to hang with the pandas.

Taking a run break to hang with the pandas. (photo credit:  Steve Chen)

A frozen-ish Potomac River with snow on top.

A frozen-ish Potomac River with snow on top.

And some other cold morning workouts when I actually got out of bed to get to them and brave the freeze!  I’m not going to complain about the cold until after I get my skiing in for the year, BUT then I’ll be ready for green grass and cool breezes!  Washington Monument in snow, January 2014

Until then, stay warm friends and let’s hope that there aren’t too many more early mornings of temperatures like this:     early cold temps

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Setting Habits

We are a few weeks into the New Year now and I’ve been lax in setting up any goals for the year ahead. I have a few races on the calendar for the spring, but no set plans for what exactly I want to accomplish. I’m leaning towards doing another triathlon–which one and what distance are the questions. In the meantime though, I’ve been setting daily habits for my life. For example, in my faith-filled journey I’m reading a Proverb a day and it’s amazing that each day I hear just what I needed to in that moment. I’m working on packing healthy lunches and taking my vitamins every day (that is no easy feat). At least 3 days of boot camp is going decently well (except for those bitter cold mornings) and eventually I plan to get back into swimming, yoga, and biking again. I love a good challenge and have continued to track my running mileage for the year (thanks to a handy spreadsheet that my friend Nicole put together) to see if I can make 1,000 miles by next Thanksgiving.

These last few sessions at boot camp we have taken time to stretch at the end which has been good. I’ve always known that stretching does a body good–especially for runners who often have tight hip flexors and typically are not the most flexible. I read today that flexibility is due primarily to one’s genetics, gender, age and level of physical activity; so putting all these things together can either be a positive or a negative. But genetics, age and sex aside, we can improve our level of flexibility by moving the body and taking time to stretch after a warm-up or post workout. I also highly recommend foam rolling which helps to stretch muscles and tensions and soften muscle tissues (i.e. getting out the kinks). I don’t do enough of either and plan to make a more consistent effort. There are lots of sites out there that can show you proper stretching and foam rolling form. So for the next 30-days I’m going to challenge myself to at least 10 minutes of stretching and/or foam rolling each day. It will be neat to see what kinds of benefits show up in my fitness levels!

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