Training Pays Off: 2018 Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run Recap

My third race of the year is in the books! The Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run is the first race I ever ran. I was under prepared and it wasn’t pretty. Last year, I struggled to cross the finish line in 2:14 minutes, 6 minutes short of not being considered an official finisher. I left the race feeling defeated and knew I had two options moving forward. I could feel sorry for myself and give up. That was the easiest thing to do. Or I could accept the fact that I hadn’t trained enough and decide to work harder so I could do better next time. If you’ve been reading this blog for a bit, you know I chose the latter option and I’m glad I did. This year, I walked out of the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler with a sparkly medal AND a feeling I had rarely experienced post race. I was kinda proud of myself… 

My main problem with running was always more of a mental hurdle than a physical one. Ideally, I’d love to  turn off netflix, jump off the couch and run a marathon. Wouldn’t we all? But that’s not how it works. You’ve gotta couch to 5K to a turkey trot, train up to a 10K, actually run (that’s a big one), consistently (also big) and then run some more. You have to decide that running is important to you and prioritize it in your life accordingly. And that’s what I did. I started tagging along with some running groups, which was very difficult at first since I’m both a slow runner AND an introvert. I struggled to keep up for a while, to make small talk but then both got easier. I ran/walked the Disneyland Paris half marathon (recap here) and mostly ran the Marine Corps Marathon 10K in the fall (recap here). I applied to be a social media ambassador for the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run. And I was selected! 

Being a social media ambassador came with some cool perks like skipping the lottery process altogether, new tennis shoes and most importantly for me the opportunity to participate in one of the Potomac River Running’s training programs and blog about the process (added accountability is not negligible!) I’ll dedicate a whole post soon to discuss the advantages of joining training groups or social running clubs, but for now I’ll just mention a few points quickly. First of all, it was great to be surrounded with people who were struggling a bit like me. Sure running with more experienced, faster runner forces you to push yourself a little bit more, but it can also be very discouraging to always feel like the slowest one. Sometime it’s just nice to be with people more at your level (or pace I guess). Second, this winter SUCKED. Let’s be honest, there were plenty of cold rainy Sunday morning when I would have stayed in bed instead of going out for a run if it hadn’t been for my training group. I know I wouldn’t have stuck with the long runs the way I did if it hadn’t been for the extra incentive and motivation the group provided. 

Rain or shine, though mostly rain, my Potomac River Running distance spring training group met every Sunday at 8AM in Georgetown

I stuck with the sunday long-runs, progressively increasing the mileage, Monday fun-runs with Pacers and cross training at Cyclebar NoMa. I ran the 17.75K “access granted” race (recap here) a few weeks before the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile run and felt pretty good coming out of it. That race is a tiny bit longer than the 10 Miler and way more hill-y so it definitely gave me a nice confidence boost, especially since I still had three weeks to train. But then I strained a muscle in my upper thigh and had to stop training and exercising altogether. Whatever confidence I had was completely shattered. I even debated downgrading to the 5K. Ultimately, I decided to stick with the run after participating in a shake-out run organized by Garmin and The DC Run Crew at the Potomac River Running store in Chinatown. It didn’t feel great but I thought I could at least limp my way across the finish line a little under the 2:20 cut-off time. 

With that in mind, I decided I needed a plan to make it through the race, and that plan involved sticking with one of Gold Gym’s pace group for as long as I could, at an “easy” 11:30 that would still get me to finish the race in around 2 hours but wouldn’t be too strenuous. I still have a hard time pacing myself so I figured I’d let someone else do the work for me this time. On race day, my friend Caitlin and I walked over the starting area (the race starts and ends around the Washington Monument). We had brought old Icelandair airplane blankets to keep us warm while we waited in our respective corrals. Caitlin was red, of course, she’s a fast one. And I went over to the green corral to find the 11:30 pace group. 

I don’t know who the runner on the picture above is, but I stuck with him for 7.5 solid miles and that was a smart move for me. At mile one I wanted to die (I’ve always been a little over dramatic). At mile two my knee started to hurt and I considered stopping at the first medical tent and quitting the race. But then I realized I actually didn’t feel *that* bad and that I just needed to shut down my brain for a bit, which is actually quite hard when you’re not running with music, and focus on that neon yellow shirt in front of me, making sure I always kept it in my sights. I got into a pretty good grove. I was able to see my own pace and time thanks to my brand new Garmin (another perks of being a social media ambassador for the race) and started to realize that I could potentially finish the race in less than 1:54 (my fastest time on a ten mile course ever) and maybe even close to 1:50 if I picked up my pace a little bit, which I actually felt good enough to do. There were just two things standing in my way: 2.5 miles and the fact that I had to pee 😉

I had stopped at most water stop along the route. While it was freezing that morning, once we got moving it was actually a beautiful, sunny day and we got warmed up pretty fast. I knew I wanted to make a quick bathroom break but all the porter potties had super long lines. And then I spotted it behind the Batalá drummers: an actual real restroom operated by Parks Services. I figured there’d be at least 5-6 stalls and the line wasn’t coming out the door so I made a break for it. I lost a few minutes, of course, but I also lost the pace group at that point so I was on my own for the rest of the run. Looking at my splits (which is super easy with my Garmin!) I can see that I ran the last two miles at my fastest pace (10:35/mi and 10:12/mi) chasing for that elusive PR I keep hearing other runners talk about. Spoiler alert: I didn’t make it. I crossed the finish line at 1:55:35, a minute shy of a PR and 5 minutes past my initial race goal of 1:50. But it still felt great. I shaved off 19 minutes from my time last year despite dealing with quite a few setbacks. Of course I couldn’t help myself: what if I hadn’t stopped to go to the restroom? To say hi to Rachel when she was handing out water? To snap a photo of this awesome oh-so-DC sign?

Would have done better if I had been able to complete my training the way I wanted to in the final weeks? The answer is probably yes, but the truth is I’ll never know so I’m really trying to push those thoughts out of my head once and for all. I did well! I put in the work and it showed. For once, I feel good after a race! Well, mentally at least. My body is a whole different story 😉

Race Recap: the 17.75K “Access Granted” Race

When I set out to run my first marathon in 2018, I apparently decided that I would make it as hard as possible on myself. And this weekend that involved joining 3,000+ runners for a grueling 11 miles cold trek through Prince William Forest Park to be guaranteed entry to the Marine Corps Marathon in October. Yes, I could have entered the lottery like everyone else but I really wanted those #accessgranted bragging rights as well I guess 😉 Oh, did I mention I actually ended up signing up for the marathon on Wednesday morning during the rush registration? Yeah, I basically ran a hard race to guarantee myself access to a race I already had access to. But hey, I’m running the Cherry Blossom 10 miler in 2 weeks and needed to run about 11-12 miles anyway that weekend… might as well get a medal out of it too right!? Right…

For those of you who are not as fluent in kilometers as I am, 17.75K is a nudge over 11 miles and that unusual race distance commemorates the founding of the U.S. Marine Corps in 1775. It takes place in Dumfries, VA, near the Marine Corps Base at Quantico, about an hour drive south of Washington. It’s known as a challenging course with both gravel and asphalt through the winding turns of a dense, hill-y forest. I basically only run in the city, so I was quite nervous about getting outside of my running comfort zone (so outside the mall basically!) But the logistics of getting to the race proved almost as challenging.

Initially, I had planned to just get up super early and drive to the race in the rental but that didn’t factor in having to pick up my race package. Unless you basically live in the area, the expo’s hours make it impossible to pick up your bib without having to miss work and they do not allow proxy pick up which is absurd. The idea of sitting in traffic on a Friday evening to get to Potomac Mills before 6PM then drive back to D.C. then back to Dumfries to get to the designated parking lots and race shuttles before 6AM the next morning combined with me having lots of Marriott points that I earned from the Satellite conference meant that I actually opted to make a mini-getaway out of it. I booked the closest Marriott property to one of designated pre-race parking lots for my friend Nicki and I to spend Friday night and I definitely think that was a good call. Traffic was atrocious Friday night, and we arrived at the race expo at VA Runner a few minutes after 6PM. Luckily, we were still able to pick up our bib and relax a little that evening. I had wanted to meet up with my friend Courtney, who was coming up from Norfolk to run the race but she was detained at work so Nicki and I just carbed up at Zibibbo 73 Trattoria & Wine Bar in Stafford before calling in an early night in. We had a 5AM wake -up call after all….

Since there’s no parking by the start line, runners all have to park at one of 3 designated parking lots the morning of and board shuttles to get there. We got to the start / finish area around 6:30Am, which gave Nicki just enough time to check her bag, and both of us just enough time to use the porter potties. We had bought $4 fleece blankets at CVS the night before to keep us warm before the race kicked off and that turned out to be a great investment!

We barely made it of the restrooms line on time to rush to the start line. Luckily, I guess, the start is really congested. There’s no waves since there are so few runners and we could definitely feel that in the first kilometer when you’re literally stepping on other runners. I was bummed I didn’t get to meet up with Courtney before the race, and Nicki speeded off pretty quickly (she’s a much faster runner that I am) so I started off on my own and that was fine.   

I didn’t necessarily have a goal for the race. I figured I would need around as much time to complete these 11 miles as it took me to complete the Rock’n’Roll D.C. half since the course was a bit more challenging. I also knew that I only had 3 hours to complete the race if I wanted to get my “access granted” code so I did have to push myself a little bit more than I did during the half marathon. The first kilometer of the course, the most crowded one, is on the main road but then you enter Prince Williams Forrest pretty quickly. It’s a steep dirt road and I knew from looking at the course map that in the beginning, any parts that were downhill would be uphills on the way back. Since the course is literally in the forest, there are no spectators whatsoever but to make up for this, it is lines with at times funny, at times inspirational signs that I really enjoyed looking out. One stated “What Hill?” was a warning for the tough hill ahead though!

But before I had to run up that hill, a small race miracle happened. Since I was running without headphones, as I have for all of my races so far this year, I heard a voice talking about Yuengling and when I turned around it turned out to be Courtney chatting away with her boyfriend Rick. Yeah!! I had finally found my friend!! We chatted up the hill and ran together on and off for the majority of the race and that made the race really enjoyable. They’re a fun couple. Courtney’s bright orange shorts made her easy to spot if I ever fall behind a bit…

There are only 5 water stations along the course so I ran with my hand-held water bottle which was a good call. After running a fair portion of the course on a paved road, which I would have enjoyed a lot more if it hadn’t been for some of the inclines, we headed back into the forest and the gravel road, which was quite muddy from the weather we’ve had here recently. I definitely found the signs on the side of the road to be both motivational and distracting, especially at the end. They definitely kept me from slowing down…. also I knew I would be getting a medal from a cute marine shortly!!

Unfortunately, my Strava went dark for a few kilometers so I can’t tell accurately how long it took me to run 10 miles. Based on the time on the clock I estimate that I got to that point in around 2 hours and 6 minutes, which is definitely slower than my goal for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler but again, the course is also more challenging. In the end, I crossed the finish line in 2 hours and 14 minutes, which isn’t bad for me, especially given how tough the course was.

Unlike after the Rock’n’Roll Half, I’m definitely a bit sore today but I’m pretty happy with how the race went and I actually had a lot of fun. Running with friends and having people to meet up with at the end and take pictures with is a plus for sure! And knowing they’ll be running the Marine Corps Marathon in the fall is cool too! As for my “access granted” code, I passed it along to a fellow Girls Love Travel D.C. runner so she does’t have to deal with the stress of the lottery. If she gets in, I know she’ll pay it forward and make sure someone deserving can use her registration. Now comes the hard part I guess… I’m running my first marathon in a few months, and I’m gonna have to start training soon. It’s going to be hard, but that’s kinda the whole point. Wish me luck!! (and please share any and all advice for a first timer in the comments!!)

CUCB Training Recap ~ About the past two weeks

So the last two weeks were very much a whirlwind and I skipped last week’s Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run recap… but I didn’t necessarily skip running. Actually, on Saturday March 10 I ran a pretty big 13.1 miles “training run” through the city 😉 I hadn’t planned on running the Washington, D.C. Rock’n’Roll half, but my friend Caitlin convinced me to enter the lottery for the New York half. When I didn’t get in, I kinda registered for the Rock’n’Roll half on a whim. It was actually not the best idea I ever had since my biggest professional event of the year, Access Intelligence’s Satellite conference, kicked off the next day but hey… I figured I would take it easy and just run it as opposed to race it, which is exactly what I did. So I finished in 2:41 minutes, 16 minutes faster than the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon I ran in September (the one where I wasted a ton of time waiting to get my picture taken with Mickey!) and 2 minutes faster than when I first ran the Rock’n’Roll half back in 2013. I hadn’t really trained at all back then, so it’s a little discouraging to be getting basically the exact same time now that I am running on a regular basis. At least I felt really good at the end of this race, unlike in 2013 when I remember not being able to walk properly for days 😉

As a result of running a half marathon, I drastically altered my training schedule that week: I ran 5K with pacers on Monday and I went to Cyclebar NoMa on Wednesday. That’s about all I did since you’re not supposed to exhaust yourself too much before a race. I could probably have squeezed in a little yoga here and there, but it was also a really busy week at work… 

The race itself went really well. It was a cold but sunny day in the District and once we got out of running on highways it was really fun to run through various neighbourhood including Columbia Heights and H Street. While I wasn’t “racing” I did want to keep my eye on a few benchmark times:

    • 10.3 km – 1h12 (as close to 10km as I could get)
    • 16.5 km – 1h58 (a ten miler is 16.09 km race)
    • 21.6 km – 2h41 (a half is 21.09 km)

At the 10 km mark, it’s good to note that I was a bit slower than during the St. Patrick’s Day 10K a few weeks ago, and even a bit slower than during the Marine Corps Marathon 10K back in November.

The next benchmark is a good indicator of how I might do at the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile run I have been training for. It’s faster than the 2h13 it took me to complete the 10 miles last year but a bit slower than my time of 1h54 back in 2011. But given that I didn’t really push myself, it makes me feel ok about my goal to complete the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in 1h50 and the GW Parkway 10 Miler a few weeks later in 1h45. If I keep at a 7/km pace (I typically average between 6:30/km and 7:30/km based on the distance, my shape that day etc.) I could finish the race at 1h52 which wouldn’t be great but would be close enough to where I would like to be. 

My time at 21.6 km wasn’t what I wanted (I was shooting for 2h30) but it’s still the fastest I’ve ever ran a half marathon and it gives me a time to built upon for my next half marathon, the National Women’s Half Marathon on April 29th.  And the next one on  May 19th. And the next one on June 2nd 😉 

Last week was Satellite, a giant conference at the DC Convention center focusing on satellite-enabled communications and all the people that make that happen (like the company I work for, which launches satellites into orbit.) Between prepping for 7AM breakfasts, treating journalists to steak at Ruth’s Chris,  hosting a dinner for our customers and partners at the Phillips Gallery or just plain being on my feet all day I just did not have any workouts in me. My colleagues who are training for the Paris marathon in a few weeks managed to squeeze in some early morning jogs despite their jet lag and I wish I had joined them at least once but I was really just trying to make it through the week. Once the conference was done, I went back to Cyclebar on Saturday and made it on the first half of the board for the first time ever. I ranked 18/43 which, despite going to Cyclebar all the time, is actually really good for me. I guess I needed a good workout after the stress of the conference. The next day, I went back to my Potomac River Running Training Group and ran 13 km. It was a beautiful (but cold) sunny Sunday though I lost the group pretty early on somewhere in Virginia and, as usual, struggled to maintain my pace without the motivation of having to keep up with everyone else. But at least the view was quite gorgeous along the way!

I wish I could say that I’m looking forward to getting back into my workout routine this week, but I am running the Marine Corps Marathon’s 17.75K race on Saturday so I do have to take it easy a bit (and skip my training group run on Sunday!) That race is definitely more trail-y and hill-y than I am used to so I know it is going to be a challenge. But as they say, you’ve gotta earn that entrance granted access to the Marine Corps Marathon, it is not given. Wish me luck, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it next week!

Learning to Celebrate the Small Running Victories

Last week felt meh but this week was a good one so let’s dive right into it!

  • Monday: I went back to Pacers’ 5 miles group and while I was still the slowest runner, the run felt easier. Maybe it was the shoes! I ran on a loaned pair of On Running Cloud X and they felt great! I’m still in the market for a “good” pair of running shoes and love it when reps come and let us test out different pairs for runs. The Cloud X is definitely a contender, though I still want to try out a few more.
  • Tuesday: I went to Cyclebar in the morning.
  • Wednesday: Since I was invited to preview Drink Companys latest spring pop-up bar, honoring the city’s iconic cherry blossoms, I had kind of written off Wednesday as a potentially rest day. But in a move that rather surprised me, I couldn’t wait to get out of there and go for run! So I only had a few sips of some of the cocktails, took tons of pictures, and headed out for a solo run on the mall. I have really struggled with running outside of a group setting but this run felt good. I think that in addition to some me-time to clear my head of negative thoughts, a part of me was motivated to get in one last February run so I could add a few kilometers to my monthly “mileage” as well 😉 I wrapped up the month with 92 kilometers, which may not seem like a lot, and is short of the 100 km I was aiming for, but is still 3x more than what I ran back in January. I’m really trying to focus on that small victory and not the falling short part!
  • Thursday: I went to Cyclebar in the morning. Shane was back, though he was not wearing his fab Golden Girls cropped top this time…
  • Friday: Rest day! 
  • Saturday: I joined Elyse from the Pacers 14th street group for a special Biker Barre class benefiting Girls on the Run — DC, a fantastic running non-profit that helps young girls build confidence through accomplishment and encourages them to develop lifelong health and fitness habits. I thought the class was great and definitely want to incorporate more of that type of workout into my weekly routine (after Satellite though!). Afterwards, we headed to Summit to Soul and I dropped some major $ on this fabulous pair of eco-friendly disco camo leggings. They’re so comfortable and already my new favourite!
  • Sunday: Race day!! I skipped my usual training group long run to participate in my first race of 2018: Pacers’ St. Patrick’s Day 10K.  I was expecting the run to feel a lot easier than it did since I’ve been running at least 8 kilometers per run for a few weeks now and long runs of 10 to 11 kilometers. I finished in one hour and 7 minutes, just 2 minutes short of my time at the Marine Corps Marathon 10K back in October (race recap here). I’ll be honest, I felt a little defeated, like all I had to show for four months of running was two minutes. But as my friend Madalene  (check out her awesome blog Musings of Ms. X!) pointed out, that’s still a PR and I should still feel proud of myself.Easier said than done of course but I still have a few weeks before the Cherry Blossom 10 miler to train so I that can put myself in a position to feel good at the end of *that* race.

The next two weeks, though, are going to be tough. I think I already mentioned that I am running the Rock’n’Roll half marathon here in D.C. next weekend. This will mean missing my Sunday long run with my Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Potomac River Running Training program group. Instead, I will treat that run, for which I am grossly under prepared, as a training run. I should be running 8-9 miles as part of my training and that is what I will strive to do, walking the rest of needed (especially that incline in Rock Creek Park!) After that race, I am very unlikely to have any time as all to run or even go to Cyclebar. Satellite 2018 will pretty much suck up all of my time. But I’ll deal with that next week. For now, I’m mostly sticking with my usual routine with a few edits. I’ll be running with Pacers tonight and doing a fun run with Medstar Sports Medicine on Tuesday (you can still sign up here) followed by sessions on hydration during running, nutrition and other fun topics. Wednesday and Thursday will be cyclebar and then rest day before race day.

Do you have any tips for carving out time to work out when your work schedule is just absolutely nuts (during a big conference in my case…)? Send them my way please 😉 

 

#CUCB2018 Training Update: 40(ish) Days & Counting


So this week was kinda meh. We’re about 40 days away from the Cherry Blossom 10 miler so there’s still plenty of time to prepare but I really wish I felt like I were progressing more at this time. I still struggle through runs, especially on my own. That being said, I mostly stuck to my training plan this week, though I should definitely have tried to squeeze in that fourth run. Here is what my week looked like:

  • Monday: After Sunday’s long run, I simply did not have an 8-9K run in me so I went back to the 3 miles group at Pacers’ and ran 5.1 km. The group went to Churchkey afterwards for beers.
  • Tuesday: Cyclebar
  • Wednesday: the weather was gorgeous! Also I successfully registered for the 17.75K race on March 24th so I celebrated by going for a run outside. In a tank top. In February! I ran 5.2 km then went to Cyclebar NoMa that evening. Valerie’s Wednesday class is called Wine Down Wednesday and we usually have wine afterwards. I biked all the miles then drank all the wine, then went to Wunder Garten and had a beer, then went home and had a can of Supreme Core Ginger Beard Man cider. It was really good… but the point I’m trying to make here is that I had quite a few drinks… more on that later.
  • Thursday: rest day.
  • Friday: working out is definitely more fun with friends so I was stoked that Christina of Just the Bottle, who is also training for the Cherry Blossom 10 mile run, joined me at Cyclebar NoMa for Haley’s Happiest of Hours class. This is my favourite class. I love letting go of all the stress from the week on the bike, then having a glass of wine and relaxing at home. Did I say glass of wine? I meant glasses 😉 Again, more on that later…
  • Saturday: Have you heard of Daybreaker? It’s an early morning dance movement that takes place in 22 cities around the world and features a  yoga class or other fitness experience, followed by a two hour dance party… all before work!  I’d been wanting to try it for a while but struggled to make it work during the week. So when they finally offered a weekend edition of the event I jumped at the opportunity! Also, it had an “under the sea” theme and I really wanted an excuse to wear my mermaid leggings again! I have the coordination of a camel so the Soka Tribe Dance fitness experience wasn’t my favourite but hey, I tried something new and got out of my comfort zone a bit. It was kinda afterwards to just party while drinking kombucha instead of booze but I feel like I was one avocado toast short of peak millennial and I was definitely ready to go after about half an hour of the dance party.
  • Sunday: this week is technically a recovery week so I wasn’t supposed to run more than 6-8 kilometers, however I felt I hadn’t really run enough so I opted to aim for a little more and ran 9 kilometers, just like last week. It rained again which was annoying. It seems to *only* rain on Sunday mornings and I’m over it. On the plus side, if it rains on race day, I will definitely be prepared for it! 

All in all it wasn’t a bad week but I also wouldn’t call it a good week either. I barely ran 20 km and only made it out three times. Overall, I feel like I ate and drank too much and it negatively affected my training and energy level. With that in mind, I’m going to try and be a lot more mindful about what goes into my body this week, sleep more and also increase the number of kilometers I run. Next weekend will be interesting since I have my first race of the year and will be skipping my usual long run training group as a result. Anyone else running the St. Pat’s Day Run on March 4th?

Are you training for the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler? Share your journey and see others on the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler’s Link Up page.

 

Drum roll: the (marathon) winner is…

I always knew I wanted to run a marathon (emphasis on **a**… I just wanted to run one!) at some point in my life. And I had the perfect plan: I would run the Paris marathon the year I turned 40. It would be pretty special. My parents and family would be there to cheer me on (and celebrate with a fab meal afterwards!). My husband too. Our kids would be holding little signs in French and English. I had it all worked out. Well, life rarely works out perfectly and fast forward a few years, I’m getting closer to that big birthday but I don’t have a husband anymore, I may never have children and I have a huge work conference mid-march that makes it very difficult for me to even entertain the idea of training for and running an April marathon. How does that expression about the best laid plans go again? Insert it here 😉 

So obviously, it was time for a new plan! After running the Marine Corps Marathon 10K last year (you can read my race recap here), that plan became a little clearer. Why wait until a milestone birthday… I would run a marathon in 2018! I made it official and put it in my running goals for the year. The big question remained where would I run that marathon. If I’m only going to run one, it should be special right? So I jotted down a list of contenders, cities that are meaningful to me like Montreal or just wild cards like Hawaii (trying to get to those 50 states!) and Berlin (can you believe I have never been to Germany!?). I even included Paris on the list because, well, that would still be the most special and meaningful place for me to run my first marathon and I wasn’t entirely ready to give up on that idea…

But eventually, reality set in… the most practical option was always Washington, D.C. This is my city now, it *is* special to me. There’d be no travel required (ok, maybe a short uber ride to the start line). I have a support system here and will know plenty of other runners (and hopefully some cheerers too!) A third of all runners in the Marine Corps Marathon are first timers like me and there’s something very reassuring about that too. Now I just had to get into the race… 

I decided I didn’t want to deal with the stress of the lottery and instead focused my energy on getting into the 17.75K, a rather hill-y race in Prince William Forest Park named after the year the year the Marine Corps was established. Not only do i love running races that are in kilometers, but completing the race guarantees you a bib to the Marine Corps Marathon later in the year.  Registration opened at 11AM Wednesday and despite a very poorly timed meeting at 10:30AM, I managed to get in! The race sold out in less than 8 minutes, so it was no small feat and now there’s no turning back: I’m doing this marathon thing in 2018 and I’m doing it in D.C.! If all goes according to my newly laid plan, I’ll be running with the Marines comes October!

Wish me luck!! 

I Made a Plan & (Actually) Stuck with It!

You know what feels good? Being back on track with my Cherry Blossom Ten Mile run training and actually feeling like I *am* making some progress. I tried a couple of new things this week, including actually sticking to the training schedule I had set up for myself 😉 I also survived my first Cyclebar/run in one day combo. It wasn’t so bad… until the next day. I ran by myself (the 20 degree spring-like temperatures on Thursday were definitely a motivating factor to get out there!) and I paced myself differently during my long run. All in all, it worked out really well for me so I’m hoping to do more of the same this week. Here’s a little more detail about week 4 of training for the Cherry Blossom race:

  • Monday: I *finally* moved up to the Pacers’ 14th street run club 5 miles group… and it was painful. I know they always say that all paces are welcome in a running group, but if you can’t keep up you’re basically left behind to run by yourself, which is exactly what happened to me. Feels pretty weak. Luckily, my friend Robert stayed behind with me and helped keep me motivated enough to at least complete the run. Let’s hope it goes better this week! 
  • Tuesday: for Mardi Gras, I did both a morning Cyclebar class (merci for the King’s Cake Neesh!) AND a run with Pacers. I downgraded to the 3 miles though, my legs were definitely tired!
  • Wednesday: I love Valerie’s class at Cyclebar NoMa and it was the perfect workout before stuffing myself silly with raclette for Vaslentine’s Day afterwards!
  • Thursday: What a difference a few months make! Given 20 degree temperatures, 3 months ago me would have been all “oooh, perfect weather for rosé on the roof!” but today me couldn’t wait to get out for a run. In a tank top. In February! Even if it was a short one to the mall and back I’m glad I did it. I still struggle to run on my own, outside of the motivating group structure.  But it’ll never get easier if I don’t push myself to do them once in a while.
  • Friday: Rest Day! My legs really needed a break 😉
  • Saturday: I couldn’t resist the Pitbul vs Kanye class at Cyclebar NoMa!
  • Sunday: I know an important component of running is your mental strength and I still have a lot of work to do there… so while I had planned to do my long run with Summit to Soul, I decided, especially after Monday’s run, that I wanted to be surrounded with people at my level. I already don’t feel great physically running 10 to 12 kilometers, I don’t need to feel emotionally defeated on top of it because I’m not as fast or strong as everyone else. I had had a good week so far and I wanted to keep feeling good… So I joined my Potomac River Running Training group. There, I don’t feel like the weakest link. There’s a comfort to training with people at my level. Some are true beginners. Others, like Sarah Beth (read her recap here… she ran the full 10 miles last Sunday!), are more experienced. I’m somewhere in the middle… definitely not a beginner anymore (yeah!) but not quite at the intermediate level yet.  But I don’t feel alone in my struggles with this group. For the second week in a row, I found this smaller group of 5-6 runners that were right around my pace. Some were ahead of me. Some were behind me. And for 11 kilometers, there was something really comforting about that. I tried something a little different as well. Typically, I’m really bad at pacing myself. I’ll try to go too fast for a bit, get tired and have to walk a little then repeat that cycle. This week, I found this girl (I don’t know her name because I’m a terrible person!) who seemed to be really good about pacing herself at 7/km pace (I typically had been running around 6:15-6:50) and decided to follow her. Kinda in a creepy way, like when a car is sticking a little too close to you… but it worked really well for me. I ran the whole 11 kilometers with only maybe one or two stops (including one to take this selfie with the Washington Monument!). I definitely will have to try this again (the pacing, not the creepy following!) 

So it was a really good week for me. I ran close to 30 kilometers… which is almost what I ran in the whole month of January… this is my plan for this week, on pretty new stationary from Target’s dollar bin!

I’ll be focusing on improving/increasing my solo runs and trying Daybreaker for the first time (dancing counts as cross training right?) I’ll let you know how it goes! And since I mentioned Summit to Soul in my post…did you catch its fabulous owner Kim talk sustainable athleisure wear on WUSA 9’s Great Day Washington? Here’s a link if you missed it. And of course, here’s the link to all the other Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run training posts! 

 

 

“If It Rains, We Will Get Wet” Part Deux

So we definitely got wet this week! The weather (cold, rainy, dreary) was kind of a metaphor for my training this week. It all started when I decided to help with a screening of Oscar-nominated “A Fantastic Woman” instead of joining Pacers for my typical Monday night run. The film was great and I highly recommend it, but by not sticking with my usual routine like that on day one I set a messy tone for the rest of the week and never quite recovered. So here is what my training plan was supposed to look like, and what I ended up doing:

  • Monday: this was supposed to be the day I moved up to the 5 miles group at Pacers… but I went to the movies instead. I did go to Cyclebar in the morning at least…
  • Tuesday: I meant to do that five mile run in the morning, but decided my bed was just way too comfortable and warm. Second run fail! I did meet up with my friend Alison for Healthy Hour after work. Alison works in the wine industry (she launched D.C. Champagne Week last year actually!) and always seems to be on a mini-cleanse when I try to plan get-togethers so I was happy to be suggest an activity that didn’t revolve around drinking for once. Instead, we practiced yoga at a special session organized by Flow Yoga and the National Cathedral. The setting was absolutely gorgeous, though we were kinda packed in like sardines… I’ve been finding it hard to keep both an active social AND run four times a week so it was great to be able to combine a workout with catching up with a friend… I definitely need to find more ways to do that.
  • Wednesday: I *had* to do that 5 miles run… but it was *so* gross outside… and my couch looked so comfy and inviting, all I wanted to do was curl up next to my cat with a good book and a glass of wine. I did muster just enough motivation to painfully run 6 kilometers on the treadmill but I was not pleased with myself.
  • Thursday: I was determined to run those five miles, at the very least on the treadmill at work. I didn’t. But I did see I, Tonya which totally put me in the mood for the Olympics!
  • Friday: I normally would have attended Haley’s Happiest of Hours class at 6PM at Cyclebar BUT I had a catering tasting for work in the afternoon (exercising isn’t ideal after tasting all the food and sampling all the wines) AND it was Angie’s last class that I could make it to at 7AM so I went to Cyclebar in the morning, which means, again, no run. 
  • Saturday: I took Valerie’s class at Cyclebar and then treated myself to coffee at newly opened Pluma by Bluebird Bakery. Such a cute spot (those tiles!) I’ll have to go back soon and try some of their pastries and food offerings. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that they are serving beer from Brasserie de la Pigeonelle, from the Touraine region of France. Other than that, it rained the rest of the day. I did not run.
  • Sunday: I ran about 8.4K in the rain with my Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Potomac River Running Training Programs group. It sucked, and had I been better during the week, I may have been tempted to skip it. But I didn’t. And other than being cold, wet and miserable, it was actually a good run.My Strava died at 3.6 kilometers so I’m basing my pace (7:09/kilometer) and distance on the rest of the group. I stuck with a handful of other runners, walked less than in previous long runs and I *finally* did those 5 miles that had eluded me all week. So while it’s hard for me to be pleased with myself all around (total kilometers ran: 14.4 km, instead of the almost 30 I was trying to do)  I did at least end on a good note! 

So looking forward, because there’s no point in looking backwards and dwelling over a bad week, here is what I planned out: Tuesday (AM), Wednesday and Friday I’ll be doing classes at Cyclebar NoMa, I’ll run with Pacers Monday and Tuesday (Tuesday is Mardi Gras AND February’s Shake Shack Run Night — coincidence? Yes, but a pretty good one right!?! Also, not a coincidence that I’m doing both cyclebar and a run… Neesh said she’s bringing Kings’ Cake to class so I’ll definitely need the double dose of exercise lol). I’m planning on running 5 miles Monday and just 3 miles Tuesday. Sunday, I might skip my usual training long run to join Summit to Soul’s Hillrunners for their Rock ‘N Roll DC 1/2 Marathon Training Run. They’re planning on running 6 miles and I need to run around 10 kilometers so it should work out. I still haven’t made it to a track, so Thursday might be track day… or rest day… I might play my Thursday/Saturday by ear, maybe try and do yoga Saturday… I’m not sure yet. But I’m determined to get my runs and have a better week than last week. What’s on your training agenda for the week? Off anywhere fun for the long weekend? I’ll be here. Running. Or Cyclebar-ing. Or both 😉 

Training for the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run on April 9th? Link up with us!! 

Cherry Blossom Training Recap~Week 2

If it rains – we will get wet.
If it snows – we will get wet and cold.
Amy, =PR= Training Program Coach

I’m happy to report that we did not get wet this week, a marked improvement from last weekend’s training long run. And while I didn’t increase the number of kilometers I ran on Sunday, sticking with 7.5km, I did improve my pace so I am starting to see some small results. And it’s a good thing I did run a bit faster because otherwise, I would have gotten wet and cold as it started to snow slash pour rain just around the time I ended my run! Otherwise, my mini-goal this week was to run 4 times, as opposed to 3, and I’m happy to report I met my goal, though I didn’t quite meet my “mileage” goals 😦 Baby steps I guess. Here’s what I had planned to do last week and what I ended up doing:

  • Monday: the plan was to run 5K with Pacers and that’s exactly what I did. I thought I might be tired after my “long run” Sunday but I kept a pace of 6.18/km which is pretty good for me. 
  • Tuesday: I had planned to visit a friend’s new apartment at Navy Yard so I took care of my workout early with a morning Cyclebar NoMa class. 
  • Wednesday: Wednesdays are tough. My friends plan things. And I love attending Valerie’s Cyclebar class after work, but I also love running with the Hill Runners of Summit to Soul. Since they were doing a special No Buts Night Run in partnership with REI (REI donated $1 per person who pledge to and ran in the dark that night to the American Hiking Society in support of the National Trails System 50th Anniversary) I made it a point to join them for a run around the Capitol. It was a fun group that included 3 dogs too! Bonus.
  • Thursday: that wasn’t quite the plan, but Thursday ended up being my rest day. I had ballet tickets so I knew I had to either get my run in or go to Cyclebar that morning. I chose to do neither…. 
  • Friday:  Since I had missed it to see Star Wars last week, I was glad to be back at Haley’s Happiest of Hours class, especially since it was la chandeleur, a big French holiday that mostly involves eating crêpes and I was definitely planning on celebrating!
  • Saturday: that was supposed to be my rest day but I *had* to get in a run or I wouldn’t meet my four runs goal. I ended up struggling through 4km on the treadmill.
  • Sunday: I learned my lesson from last week and had a coconut-chocolate RX bar before heading out. That way I could think of other things beside “OMD I’m hungry” while running. Like “OMD why am I doing this when I could be watching the Sunday Talk Shows in the warmth of my home” or just “OMD why am I doing this.” I’m basically in between the intermediate runners and the beginners, so I spent most of the run by myself in between the groups and that was fine. It was fun to be able to compare my pace on the same distance from one week to the other, and while I plan to run more next week (aiming for a 10km or at least 6 miles), I think I’ll still track my time at the 7.5km mark just to see… 

Overall, I ran 21.6 kilometers last week, slightly better than last week’s 18 km but I know I’ve gotta start increasing my distances. My goal is to get closer to 30 kilometer this week, and still run four times. February was my deadline to move up to Pacers’ 5 mile run group, but it looks like it won’t happen this week since I’m actually not able to make it to my usual Pacers run due to work and other commitments. But I’ll still try to run five miles by myself at least once this week! Wish me luck!! 

As I mentioned, I’m training for #CUCB2018 as part of my involvement as one of the race’s social media ambassador. If you’re training for the race too and blogging about it, link up with us right here!!

Cherry Blossom Training Recap~Week 1

Last week, I officially kicked off my training for the Cherry Blossom 10 mile race, which is now a mere 10 weeks away (*insert panic emoji*). Aside from the cheer trickiness of trying to design a training plan for a 10 mile run when my brain still refuses to function in anything other than kilometers (Everyone else might be running the Cherry Blossom 10 miler but I’m running Les Seize Kilomètres des Cerisiers en Fleurs!), the first week went pretty well, culminating in my first “long run” with Potomac River Running Training Programs yesterday. 

Since I’ve been sick on-and-off since mid-December, I  decided to give my body the rest it seemed to need and took a 16 days break from running. The frigid temperatures didn’t help making want to get back out there any sooner! So last week I set a simple, realistic goal for myself: to slowly get myself back into running by doing three easy runs. Concretely, here is what my first week of training looked like:

  • Monday: ran 5.2 km with my Pacers‘ fun run group. My goal is still to move up to the 5 mile group in February (so next Monday).
  • Tuesday: ran 5.3 km with Pacers’ special Shake Shack Run. We all got to try the new Griddled Chick’n Club, which is probably not the best food to have after a run, but oh well 😉

  • Wednesday: I took Valerie’s class at Cyclebar NoMa. It’s one my favourite there, though Wednesdays get busy so I hadn’t been to her class since my birthday. 
  • Thursday/Friday: break! I normally would have taken Haley’s Happiest of Hour class at Cyclebar NoMa but I went to see Star Wars instead. I can’t believe I still hadn’t seen it!
  • Saturday: instead I took Haley’s Sounds from Y2K class at 11:30AM class on Saturday. The playlist was *awesome.*
  • Sunday: I met with Potomac River Running’s D.C. Credit Union Cherry Blossom/Spring Mid-Distance training group. I have *always* struggled with long runs (why run when you can walk?? Walking is SO fun!) so I’m really looking forward to this weekly group run even though I’m not that excited to have to wake up at 7AM every Sunday for the next 9 weeks… Goodbye social Saturday nights… it’s been nice knowing you. Yesterday, I had set myself a goal of running 8 km and made it to 7.5 km with some walking. I can make excuses (it was raining which sucked… I didn’t eat anything before running) but truth is I know I need to push myself harder next week.  

So, I ran a total of 18 km and went to Cyclebar twice last week. For week 2 of training for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, my “mini-goal” is up my number of outings to 4/week. I’ll be running 5 km with Pacers on Monday and Summit to Soul (part of the No Buts Night Run in Partnership with REI and Ragnar) on Wednesday. I’ll attempt to do 6-8 km on my own either Thursday or Friday (probably Friday morning though) before clocking in my last run, ideally an 8-10 km with my training group on Sunday. And I’m planning on going to Cyclebar NoMa Tuesday and Thursday mornings (or Friday evening instead of Thursday morning depending on when I end up doing that run.) Right now, it seems daunting, I’m not going to lie. I’m also trying to watch the State of the Union Tuesday, eat all the crêpes Friday (I’m french, I would NEVER miss celebrating la chandeleur!) AND see a ballet at the Kennedy Center Thursday. As I contemplate this schedule, I can’t help but think of #11 and #12 from this list of 12 hacks to become a better runner. I’ve got number one down (“Start slow”) but I’m having a harder time getting to “Don’t Overexert Yourself” and “Maintain an Overall Healthy Lifestyle.” Good thing I have NO intention of watching the Super Bowl (not even the half time show, not even the commercials!) because I might need all of Sunday afternoon to rest and recover! 

Nonetheless, this is my plan and I’m going to try and stick to it! Wish me luck and stay tuned for an update next week… if I survive 😉

ps: I’m participating in Potomac River Running’s Credit Union Cherry Blossom/Spring Mid-Distance training group as part of my commitment as one of the race’s social media ambassador and if you are planning on running the race on April 8 and think that you might need that extra little help to be ready for it, you can still sign up to participate too (more information here). They have groups meeting in Georgetown, Reston and Vienna. And if you didn’t get a bib for the race, you can still get one by signing up for one of the premium programs that comes with an entry to the 10 miler.