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. 

 

My Running Goals for 2018

Last year was rough for me. I decided to start running both as a way to add structure and discipline to my life at a time when it was sorely lacking any kind of order and to give myself a reason to push myself and feel proud of myself again. I jotted down an initial set of goals and while I achieved some of them, I still have a lot of work to do this year… The one goal I’m so glad I met was joining a running group. As an introvert AND a new runner,  the idea of meeting up with a group of strangers and make small talk *while* trying to keep up with their pace was absolutely overwhelming and daunting. But that was also the point right? Getting outside of my comfort zone a bit… I waited until the second half of the year to muster the courage to show up at Pacers and Summit to Soul but it’s been one of the best thing I did last year. While I haven’t been able to make to as many Wednesday runs on the hill as I’d like, I’ve mostly stuck with Pacers’ Monday runs and have already met so many inspiring runners. This year, I’ll still join Pacers on Monday, though I’m setting the mini-goal of graduating from the 3 miles group to the 5 miles by the beginning of February and to the 7 miles group by March. If I’m going to run the Rock’n’Roll half marathon on March 10th, I should be able to run 7 miles easily by March 1st. At least that’s the plan…. I’m also going to try and make it to as many Wednesday runs with Summit to Soul as I can (thinking every other week hopefully) and starting at the end of January I’ll join Potomac River Running for track work on Thursday nights and long runs on Saturday, all with the goal of training for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler on April 8th. With that in mind, and given some of the races I have already signed up for or plan to sign up for, here are my running goals 2.0 for 2018!

1. Make Running a Regular, Consistent Habit

Yes, I’ve been running in 2017 but I know I’m not running enough right now. One of my goals in 2017 was to join a running group and turn running into a social activity. And I’ve done pretty well as far as this goal is concerned. But I don’t really run outside of that and that has to change. And it will as I’m looking to up my running schedule to 3-4 runs a week, including one evening of track run and a long run. This is what I should be doing anyway to properly train for half marathons and build up to training for a full in the fall. 

2. Run a 5K Without Walking and in less than 30 Minutes

I still struggle with these goals from 2017 so I’m putting them back on the list and lumping them together! I ran my last 5K in 34:56 so I’m getting closer but I’m not there yet. Which is why I am adding goal #3 and #4 below.

3. Start Doing some Track Workouts

I haven’t stepped foot on a track since high school probably but as part of my Cherry Blossom 10 Mile run training I’ll be joining Potomac River Running at Wilson High School every Thursday night for some track work. I’m glad I’ll be doing it with a coach because despite reading a lot of track work for beginners guides (I like Lazy Girl Running’s primmer or Why You Need to Add Track Workouts to Your Training by Eat Pray Run DC) I’m still very intimidated and have no idea where to start!

4. Become a Faster Runner

Hopefully running more regularly and adding track workouts will help with this. Running with groups is motivating as well because it forces me to push myself to keep up when I may be tempted to slow down and walk if I were by myself. And Runners World has a couple of speed workouts I might try as well…. 

5. Run the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler at a 10:30 pace or under

Last year, one of my goals was just to run the Cherry Blossom 10 miler but this year I am determined to run it well. This will be my fourth time running DC’s prettiest spring race so I actually have some benchmarks to base how fast I should be able to run the race. The fastest I did so far was 1:54, which is a 11:28 pace. I currently run my regular runs between a 10:00 and 10:60 pace per mile and since I plan on training this time I do feel confident that this is a realistic goal for me and that I can shave off 10 minutes from my previous Cherry Blossom PR (cross the finish line in 1:45.) Ideally, I’ll be able to set a more ambitious goal for a fall 10 miler, perhaps the Army 10 miler.

6. Run a marathon

I’m still trying to figure out which one that will be but I *will* run my first marathon in 2018, most likely in the fall. I had to rule out Paris because I don’t think I’ll be ready by April (also, it’s on the same day as the Cherry Blossom 10 mile run and I’m definitely committed to that race!) I had summarized my options in this post “Where Should I Run My First Marathon?” but I’m pretty sure I would like to run the Marine Corps Marathon. Of course, I have no guarantee that I’ll get in at this point. I’m going to try and sign up for the Access Granted 17.75K, a race through Prince Williams Forrest Park whose distance reflects the year the Marine Corps was established. One of the best part of running that race is that all the men and women who cross the finish line earn access to the Marine Corps Marathon… And even though I always said I only wanted to run one marathon in my life and no more, I’m pretty sure I’ll wanna run Paris in 2019! And then run the marathon du Medoc (possibly dressed something like these guys below… I do love me a good race costume/outfit!) 

7. Run a Race in Paris

Speaking of running the Paris marathon in 2019, I actually really want to run a race in Paris. Running the Disneyland Paris half marathon was super fun (you can read my recap here) but I really want to run in the actual streets of my hometown, not in country roads nearby 😉 Some of the options include le fitbit semi-marathon de Paris on March 4 (that one would be really cool because it runs through Bastille where I grew up, but it’s a tricky date for me because I have a HUGE work conference starting on the 10th!), the Paris-Versailles on September 30th or the 20km de Paris on October 8th

8. Stretch More

I know I need to stretch more, both before and after runs. I’d love to do yoga more often too, so there, writing it down into my resolutions!

9. Have Fun, Enjoy Running and Make Some Running Friends!

Most of my friends fall in one of two categories: they hate running or they love running and are WAY too fast for me to run with 😉 Nonetheless, even if I only keep up for 5 minutes, as was the case when I ran the Disney half with my friend Caitlin, it’s still more fun to hang out with people you know when you’re in your coral waiting for the start (and in my case usually have them wait for me at the finish!) It’d be great to have people to travel to races with and that sort of thing. Running with Pacers has been great so far in meeting other runners and I want to continue to meet inspiring people through running in 2018.

10. Feel Good About Myself After a Race

Unlike all of the other races that I have run so far, I would like to cross a finish line and feel like, no matter how long it took me to get there, I gave it all I could on the course and in training. Like in most sport, you get out what you put in and I know I’m not putting in enough. And that has to change in 2018 ! 

Bonus Goal: Take Better Race Pictures

Seriously, mine are terrible right now. And that’s the ones I pose for… you should see the ones from during the actual races 😉 Clearly I need to start paying closer attention to the photogs along the course!

I’m Running the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Again!

Thursday, the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run will hold a reception at the National Building Museum to officially kick off the 2018 edition of DC’s iconic spring race. You might be thinking that December is a little early to kick-off a race that’s in April, but it’s actually the perfect timing. You definitely want to decide now if you want to try running this race since the lottery for entries opens Friday, December 1st (you can sign up to get an alert when the lottery opens here). Runners will have until December 11th to submit their application and the “winners” will be notified a few days later. 

Last year, I entered the lottery on a whim. I needed something positive and healthy to focus on at the time. And I got in… It actually wasn’t my first time running the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler. I’ve ran it three times already and have a 100% success rate at the lottery so far 😉

The first time I ran the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Miler was in 2010. My friend Caitlin and I actually thought we were signing up for a 10K. Oopsie. It was my very first race EVER and I ran it in 1:57 (11:43 pace). I ran it again the following year, just a tiny bit faster, in 1:54 (11:28 pace). And then I kinda stopped running. The truth is running is hard. You have to train consistently to see results and I simply wasn’t putting in the work so I struggled through races and felt disappointed and discouraged after crossing the finish line. But I decided that I wouldn’t take the easy way out and that I would get back into running. I entered the lottery. I got in. And ran my worst race ever. I finished the 10 miles in two hours and thirteen minutes,  a mere 7 minutes short of not being considered a finisher. What did I do wrong? There’s no easy way out, I didn’t put in the work again. I did all the cross training, I swam and took body pump classes regularly. But I didn’t run enough. I skipped all the long runs and you can’t expect to a good 10 miles when you can barely make it through 3 miles during training. So 2018 will be my redemption year. I’ve joined some running groups and I’m starting to enjoy the social aspect of running a lot more. I ran the Marine Corp Marathon 10K (race recap here) and a half marathon (race recap here). I’m still slow but my pace has improved. I can do this!

For additional accountability, though, I applied for a different kind of Cherry Blossom “lottery” this year. I sent in my application to be one of the ambassador for the race. I still have a 100% success rate at this lottery because I got in! I’m so excited to be running this race again on April 8, 2018 and I’m so excited that I get to take you along with me on this journey to *actually* set myself up to have a good race I can be proud of. One of the “perks” that comes with being one of the Social Media Ambassadors for the 46th Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run is joining the Cherry Blossom Spring Mid-Distance training offered by =PR= Training Programs. The training will start the weekend of January 27-28, 2018 (I’ll be training with the DC/Arlington group, but there are groups in Reston and Vienna too) with weekly group weekend run. Long runs! The kind I struggle with the most 😉 I’ll have a coach to help guide me through the process (and who will design a 10-week schedule for me based on my experience and goals for the races.) I can’t wait! If you think you could use some training as well, or if you want to tackle the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run as one of your first race, I highly recommend checking out =PR= Training Programs. Bonus: if you sign up for the premium program (details here) you are guaranteed a race bib so you don’t need to worry about your odds at the lottery…

I’m excited to kick off this new chapter on Thursday. Unfortunately, the kick off reception is no longer accepting rsvps but you can check out my blog Friday for a full recap, including the reveal of the official t-shirt design and colour (we’ll actually be voting on the colour during the reception!) 

 

 

Motivation Monday Links: Post-NYC Marathon Edition

Happy Monday! This is a short week for me. I *just* got back from a super quick trip to New York City and on Thursday, I’m headed off to Seattle. This will be my first time there and I’m looking forward to catching up with friends and exploring a new city — as well as crossing off state # 44! Only 6 more do go… For Motivation Monday today, I thought I’d  share a couple of fun and occasionally motivational links that caught my attention recently. Have a great week!

I spent most of yesterday cheering on the runners participating in the New York Marathon, including my bestie who crushed it in 3:56! Everyone, of course, is talking about Shalane Flanagan  becoming the first American woman to win the race in 40 years. But I love this story about Allie Kieffer, who was the second American woman finisher and fifth overall.

Speaking of Shalane Flanagan, after winning the marathon, she and other top finishers headed back to the finish line to cheer on and award their medals to the last finishers. If that’s not sportsmanship… I don’t know what is. While you’re at it, check out this video from the New York Times about the last people to cross that finish line… and the people who make it a point to be there and cheer them on! Seriously, there are some inspiring stories about those runners who just wouldn’t give up… even after the official clock stopped. Also, I’m not crying, you are 😉

Just for fun, here’s what it’s like to run a marathon as told in emojis:

That sounds about right!

And a list of 17 bad-ass female athletes everyone should know.

It’s not just women in sport… “They’re Women, They’re Black and They Don’t Make Art About That. I can’t wait to check out “Magnetic Fields: Expanding American Abstraction, 1960s to Today,” a new exhibition at the National Museum of Women in the Arts that focuses on black female artists who work beyond or outside those dictates. 

But back to running, the failing New York Times argues that “The Running Bubble Has Popped…” but you couldn’t hear it in NYC. While the New York City Marathon has far fewer spots available than runners who want to participate, many other road races throughout the country are seeing a decline in participation. Interesting… 

And last but not least, celebrity chef and former Top Chef contestant Richard Blais ran the new York marathon for the 5th time this weekend… and lost 60 pounds since making running and fitness a part of his everyday routine. If he can do it while being constantly surrounded by amazing food, so can we!  

 

My Mini-Fitness Goals for November

One of my running goals for 2017 was joining a running group and turning running into more of a social activity. I was very self-conscious about actually acting on this goal. I’m an introvert, so group settings aren’t always my favourite and I was also worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with everyone which would be embarrassing, as well as discouraging. I was afraid to shatter whatever little self-confidence I have as a runner.  After the Disneyland Paris half marathon in late September (you can read my recap here), it was obvious that I needed to do something different to make sure commit to training. So I resolved to get over my fears, lace up my running shoes and join some strangers on group runs.

There are SO many running groups in Washington, D.C.! I narrowed my options to two: Pacers (the 14th street store) on Mondays and Summit to Soul on Wednesdays and I’ve been a regular for most of October. I struggle to keep up with the group at times. I’m definitely typically found at the back of the pack! But while I find myself wishing the lights would turn red so I could catch a quick break more often than I would like, I’ve also mostly kept up with the group and even occasionally been able to carry short conversations. I’ve enjoyed meeting new people so it was mostly a good experience until last night. Last night was Pacers’ Halloween themed run and there were a lot of runners (in awesome costumes too!) Usually, we split into 3 different groups, running 3, 5 or 7 miles. Yesterday, we ran as one whole group and while the pace was pretty slow because we hit so many intersections, I definitely struggled to stay with the group and it really got me down. I guess I felt that by now, I wouldn’t be struggling through a simple 5K. Instead of feeling good after this run (“be in a better mood after running” is another one of my running goals for this year) I felt discouraged and ready to give up. I never thought becoming a runner would be easy but I did hope that at some point it would get easier. And I had hoped that point would be coming sooner. It’s really hard for me to look at the big picture when you’re not seeing any progress but I know I can’t focus on the small setbacks like the one I had last night. To help me moe forward, and because we are November 1st today, I decided to jot down some new set of goals for the month!

1. RUN 50K IN NOVEMBER

I’m not sure I tracked all my runs last month, I *just* started using Strava a few weeks ago (on strava too? Friend me!?). But according to Strava and Map My Run (which I was using before switching over to Strava) I only ran 42.42K in November. I thought about having a goal of 100K in November, but I that would be probably be setting myself up for failure since I only average about 10K a week. So I’m going to set my goal for 50K, hope that I crush it, feel good about it and set a higher goal for December. Do you have a monthly kilometers or miles goal? How do you decide what to set it at?

2. RIDE 100 MILES @ CYCLEBAR

I’ve been running Mondays and Wednesdays and taking a spin class at Cyclebar Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Last month, Cyclebar NoMa had a 100 miles challenge. Of course, I only found out about it with less than  10 days left… and since I average around 9 miles per class, there was no way I could achieve it. I did get close to 50 miles, so I think I could definitely ride over 100 miles over the whole month of November. 

3. RUN 3X A WEEK

Right now, I’m only running twice a week so I need to add a “long” run on weekends. This may not actually be a very long run but it should be my longest run of the week. 

4. RUN A 10K RACE

Two weekends ago, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon 10K. You can read my race recap here, but basically I finished disappointed in my time and barely meeting the goal I had set for myself. So I would love to find another race of the same distance so I can better my time. If you have any suggestions of 10K in the area, I’m all ears! Since I’m out of town the first two weekends of November, I’m thinking either the Annapolis Running Classic on November 18th or Carpenter’s Shelter’s Run for Shelter  also on November 18th. The time to beat for this 10K will be one hour and nine minutes. I can do this! Maybe… 

5. RUN A 5K WITHOUT WALKING

I’m staying in Washington, D.C. for Thanksgiving, so I’ll definitely be running a Turkey Trot that morning. And by then, I would like to be able to run it without walking, even if I run slowly… 

My last Turkey Trot was back in 2015 with these awesome (and faster) ladies

I hope that setting mini-goals for myself will help me keep at it and that I’ll start feeling like I’m making progress… and when I do I will actually celebrate it, even the small victories which is something I have always had a hard time doing 😦

 

Where should I run my first marathon?

I loved running the Marine Corp Marathon 10K but if I’m honest, the whole experience was a bit of a downer. My previous race, the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon was SO fun and exhilarating,  from flying to Paris with friends to seeing everyone in costumes and of course running 26.1 kilometers in and around the parks where I used to work (you can read my race recap here). The Marine Corp Marathon and 10K are right here in D.C. and only ran the 10K, which is in the shadow of the bigger and more impressive  marathon. I consistently found myself downplaying the race. I wasn’t running the MCM 10K… I was “only” running the MCM 10K or “just the 10K.”. And that lessened my excitement for the race and my feeling of accomplishment afterwards. I had “only” ran 10 kilometers when everyone else crushed it and ran an impressive 46.2! Also, I didn’t really know anyone else that was running unlike Disney where I had Caitlin. This race definitely got me thinking again about wanting to push myself further and run an actual marathon. 

I haven’t been in a hurry to sign up for my first marathon because I always knew when and where I wanted to run it: in my hometown, the year I turned forty. And then I would run my second and last one the following year, the famous Marathon du Médoc, and drink all the wine and not really care about my performance! Well, it turns out I think I  don’t want to wait that long! And maybe I don’t want to run in Paris 😉 There are thousands of marathons organized around the U.S. and the world every year so I actually have a lot of options to chose from and I kinda love the idea of a destination marathon, especially in a place that’s either special to me… or completely new, maybe a bucket list place or somewhere truly amazing. If it’s not going to be the year of my 40th birthday, I still want to make a big deal of my first marathon! So I’ve been giving it a lot of thought and here are the marathons I have narrowed down my list to:

1. PARIS (APRIL 8, 2018) 
Of course, Paris is still my top choice! Leading up to the Disneyland Paris half marathon last September I joined the facebook group Runners France  and I’ve been having major running FOMO ever since. I really want to run a race in Paris, whether it’s the marathon, Paris-Versailles (September 30th 2018) a 16 kilometer run from the castle to the Eiffel Tower, the 10 kilometres l’equipe (June 10 2018) a race whose finish line is a few blocs from where I grew up and where my parents still live, or another. There are a few reasons holding me back from signing up: the timing of the Paris marathon isn’t ideal for me as I’d not only have to train in the winter but I also have a big work conference a few weeks before that would derail my training just as I’d be needing to do some 16-20 miles run. I’m also not sure I can be ready so soon. I still struggle through a 10K! But how amazing and special would it be? I mean, the start line is on the freaking Champs Elysees!!! So if it’s not Paris, maybe it could be another race in France? The Marathon du Mont Saint Michel (May 26 2018) has a better timing. And while I’m more of an urban runner,  the setting would be pretty incredible too! Along those same rural running lines, Run in Reims (October 21 2018) sounds super fun and is a quick trip from Paris. Also, champagne!!  That one also has a 10K and a half-marathon so I may do it anyway, but perhaps not as as my first marathon…

2. THE MARINE CORP MARATHON  (OCTOBER 28 2018)
The People’s Marathon is D.C.’s most prestigious local race and it would definitely be the easiest for me to participate in.  The timing in late October is pretty perfect. Other than those summer runs I’d be doing my longest runs in early fall when the temperatures are still nice but getting cooler. The crowd is always awesome and supportive and not only would I probably spot a few familiar faces on the sides cheering, I’d probably know a few runners too. I know quite a few people who have run it, so I’d have a pretty supportive network around as well. It’s definitely a top contender but it’s a lottery registration so I may not be able to sign up even if I want to.

Picture courtesy of Rock’n’Roll Oasis Montreal marathon

3. MONTREAL (SEPTEMBER 23 2018)
Obviously, Montreal holds a special place in my heart so I absolutely love the idea of running 46.2 kilometers in my old college stomping grounds. The timing is pretty good for me, though I’d have to do my longer runs in August which is really hot and humid here in D.C. The location is the main appeal though: it’s a short international flight, there’s no time difference and it’s in a big city (that i love love love) … Montreal basically has everything I want in a marathon AND French speaking runners as a bonus. I can already taste the celebratory Molson and poutine afterwards! Actually, the course ends at Parc LaFontaine where La Banquise is… convenient 😉 Being a Rock’n’Roll race, there’s not too many hurdles to signing up so if I don’t get a bib for MCM, I might fall back on this one!

4. BERLIN (SEPTEMBER 16, 2018)
I ran a half marathon around that time this year, one that also required some international travel, so I know I can work with the date and tag it along a trip to Paris. Believe it or not, I’ve never been to Germany, despite growing up one country over, so this would be a fun reason to finally visit! The course is mostly flat and passes along some of the city’s most important landmarks (it starts at the Bradenburg Gates!) so I’d get to see the whole city while running! Alternatively, still in Germany, I am also considering the Sparkasse Marathon  (October 7, 2018) which would bring me to Germany as well as Austria, and Switzerland. 3 countries in 46.2 kilometers… now that would be true international race! Bonus, it’s during Oktoberfest so I’d be guaranteed some pretty great post-race beer!

Picture courtesy of Honolulu marathon

5. MAUI (OCTOBER 14 2018) OR HONOLULU (DECEMBER 2018) 
Having visited 43 states already, I’m on a bit of a quest right now to cross off the last 7. I’m headed to Seattle in a few weeks, so Washington is getting off the list soon. I’ll visit Oklahoma early next year as well and my parents are planning a family trip to Alaska next summer. So as long as I can make it to Nebraska/South Dakota/North Dakota before October, I *love* the idea of running my first marathon in my 50th state! Alternatively, to give me a little more time to visit all these states, I’m also considering the Honolulu marathon which is in December. It’s a really big event with over 30,000 runners and a crazy 5AM start time (yikes!) but it’s a pretty flat course and there’s no qualifying time to enter, unlike some more competitive races. There’s also no cut-off time to finish which is really nice! And, you know, it’s in Hawaii so recovery will be spent lounging on a beach eating spam musubi and poké. On the other hand, I don’t know if I can get anyone to come to Hawaii with me (especially in december right between Thanksgiving and the holidays) and being by myself on these gorgeous islands might get me down, which isn’t how I want to feel during my race.

So these are my top 5 contenders for my first marathon. If you’ve already run a marathon, where was it? How did you decide which one to do for your first race?