5 Before 35 – Mid-Life Running Goals

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30 wasn’t ALL bad. I got to marry this guy..

About 18 months ago, I turned 30.  It would be fair to say that I did not handle this new decade gracefully.  Don’t get me wrong, on all accounts the year that I spent being 30 years old was monumental.  I got married, I bought a house, I spent a month in Central America taking surfing lessons.  I ran my second full marathon and hit my first ever sub 2 hour half marathon.  None of that, however, could fight my feeling that I was old and life was almost over.

I am very well aware how ridiculous that last statement is.  Logic just doesn’t always have a place inside of a brain that has decided to go sliding down a particular wormhole.  I struggled with all manner of bothersome bad habits.  I let running lose importance and value, put on 15 pounds, and fought off my occasional panic attacks by staying up too late watching 30 Rock on Netflix before having to wake up early for work.

Recently I decided that enough was enough.  I needed to shake myself out of my 18 month slide into funk and regain some control in life, and remind myself that I still have LOTS of things to do!!  I sat down and wrote out a list of 35 things I would like to accomplish by the time I turn 35.  As I wrote and re-read my list, I noticed that my goals fell into very distinct categories – travel, personal well being, doing things that I felt could make the world a better place, silly adventures, and running.  While I will spare you all the full list, I thought I would share with you my five most pressing running goals.

Goal #1 – Run a 4:30 Marathon

Some of you may have been following along my adventures of training for and running the Marine Corps Marathon last year.  I have run two marathons – MCM 2011 and 2014.  I was also slated to run it in 2015, but due to my concerns over lack of a base and overall loss of fitness from yeas past.  Now I have deferred to MCM 2016, which was sad, but also empowering as it gives me a solid year to get my act together.  I am not a runner who is fast.  I am a runner who goes out there, exhausts myself, and still finishes midpack, but that is okay!!  I may never qualify for Boston, but I think the 4:30 is totally doable, and I look forward to getting myself there.

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Marine Corps Marathon 2011

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Running the Marine Corps Marathon in 2015

Goal #2 – Run an Ultra

The idea of an ultra marathon sounds insane.  I fully acknowledge this, but in true to myself form, I struggle to care too much.  I don’t want to run a 100 miler.  I don’t even want to run a 50 miler.  I have the utmost respect for the people that run those distances.  The level of commitment is incredible, and the time management skill of those that manage to train for those events and still juggle lives is astonishing to me.  I know that for myself, my time management skills aren’t quite there yet – at least not while my kids are still young – but I do feel that if I can find time to train for a marathon, I should be able to train to go five miles farther!  There are so many really cool sounding 50ks that it is hard to not be attracted to the distance, and knowing that I wouldn’t be worried about time feels like a nice change of pace from my usual running focus.

Goal #3 – Run a Race with the Dog

If you are someone who frequently comes out to our community races, there is a good chance you have met Mr. Wake!  My husband and I adopted Wake in April with the hopes of getting me a running partner when the border collie mix had a chance to grow up some.  In the meantime I have been bringing him to a lot of running events to get him used to crowds and noise and distraction.  We have worked several water stops and worked as sweepers at several races.  I can’t wait until I get a chance to run a race with him – even if it ends up being the slowest race ever.

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Wake’s ears will help him to flap his way to the finish line.

Goal #4 – 100 Day Running Streak

When I am in the habit of running, it becomes automatic.  I don’t have to think about it, I don’t have to drag myself out of bed, I don’t have to worry about scheduling in my runs.  Somehow it becomes just like breathing.  It becomes part of my day, just like eating food or brushing my teeth.  When I am out of the habit of running – I have a million things that keep me from running.  I need more sleep, the dog needs me to nap with him, the kids need me to help with their homework RIGHT NOW and clearly now is the only possible time to run, and on and on.  I have never been one to worry about streaks – I just make a plan and stick to it.  I think keeping up 100 straight days of running at least a mile every day would be an awesome challenge for me, and would lead well into goal #5….

Goal #5 – Have a 1,000 Mile Year

Back in 2014, I thought I would get this.  I was on track thanks to monthly races and marathon training.  Unfortunately, after my dismal performance at the Marine Corps Marathon, I found myself so disenchanted that I believe I ran something like 20 miles over the rest of the calendar year.  As I type it is August and I haven’t tracked my miles this year, but I can tell you they are probably less than 100.  I have my eye on 2016 as “my year.”

That’s what I’ve got.  I plan on checking in on how my progress towards these goals are going, and hopefully this will keep me accountable.  Nothing feels worse than when I have to write the “well, that didn’t work out” blog posts!  I’d love to hear your running goals too!  I am always inspired by the folks I chat with at the store and the different things they are working towards, whether it is their first 5k or their 5th Ironman!

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A new approach to fueling for distance

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Bruce showing off his favorite product for long runs!

If you are a long distance runner, chances are you have consumed some type of energy gel to fuel your miles. Most likely, this gel (or chew, bar, bean, etc) is a simple carbohydrate source based on fructose, sucrose, or maltodextrin. These carbs work really well at saving you from a low blood sugar crash because they are small molecules, meaning your body can easily absorb and use them. Your blood sugar quickly goes back up and your body has a source of fuel. The downside to using these sugars is that a cycle emerges: low blood sugar crash, sugar source taken in, high blood sugar spike, repeat.

What is the disadvantage here? At first glance, it seems the only problem with this cycle is that you have to continually take in energy during longer durations, meaning you pack a few gels for a long training run rather than just one. Is that really so bad? Well, there are actually worse biological side effects occurring.

When your blood sugar spikes, your body releases insulin, a chemical responsible for helping your cells take in and use sugar as fuel. With a moderate amount of blood sugar, insulin does its job and stabilizes your blood to normal levels, and your cells get the fuel they need. With high blood sugar spikes, however, the increased amounts of insulin needed begin to present issues. Insulin has other jobs, which include increasing fat storage enzymes while simultaneously blocking fat releasing enzymes. Essentially, your cells begin storing extra sugar as fat while blocking your body from burning its fat sources as fuel. As a runner, the last thing you want is to force your body to make room for more fat storage, which it would be happy to do.

Generation UCAN, a new nutrition product, is made from a totally different carbohydrate source- superstarch. This molecule is larger than simple sugars, meaning it takes longer for the body to break it down. The effect here is no spike in blood sugar or insulin response, but rather a stable level. The lack of insulin response means that your body can convert to burning fat for fuel, because your body has enough fuel in your stored fat to last several marathons!

Bruce, a member of our staff, avid marathoner, and the head coach of our distance training programs has tried UCAN with great success. Before trying UCAN  Bruce felt sick toward the end of long races or training runs and was tired of consuming countless sweet gels. He tried UCAN and found that his hunger was managed and that his stomach was not sick, even during long marathon training runs. His advice? “Take the powder in small doses rather than large doses [of water] so that it’s thicker and easier to down quickly.” Otherwise, you may end up taking in too much liquid before a run and, as Bruce kindly puts it, “spending a lot of time behind a tree for the first mile.”

“For me, it just goes down really easily,” Bruce said. “While it’s not delicious, I think the taste is fine. And I haven’t had one bad stomach reaction.”

The product is most beneficial for runners doing longer distance races, as the need to fuel increases when you are planning to run for more than an hour and a half. If you’re interested in trying the product, stop by the store to check it out! You can read more about the science on the UCAN website.

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Am I still a runner?

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Hi friends! This is Rowan checking in with a new post that I have been working on.

Working at Metro Run and Walk, I often get asked some variation of, “so, are you a runner?” and I always struggle with my answer. When I worked at the store in high school, I happily explained that I was a sprinter on the track team, an avid runner. Now, two years through college, my answer has changed. As an “adult” athlete (I use this term loosely because, at age 20, I don’t always feel like this term explains my life yet) the options for those interested in sprinting who are not elite athletes are quite slim. While there are distance running groups in this area that have literally hundreds of members, you would be hard pressed to find a group of runners who get together to run 100 meter repeats on Tuesday nights. Because of this dilemma, I found myself trying to reinvent, in a sense, my fitness identity. I am sure there are others in this position, so I wanted to explore the idea of what being a “runner” truly means, and if that identity ever goes away.

In a way, the difficulty of translating high school sprinting into adult athletic life has been a blessing, because it allowed me to truly fall in love with fitness, as corny as that sounds. In my freshman year of college, I dabbled in possibly every group fitness class on the market, but found that most lacked the intensity and burn that sprinting gave me. I tried the Insanity videos, and found that while challenging, they got old, fast. I even tried joining the club track team, which, of course, was composed of entirely distance runners. Sophomore year, I found weightlifting, and fell in love. Lifting gave (and continues to give) me the intensity, rigor, and discipline that sprinting did, with even quicker and more noticeable aesthetic results. I began lifting 5-6 days a week, writing my own workouts and learning as much as I could. I recently became certified as a personal trainer because I want to give others the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of resistance training and fitness that I do. I still missed the flat-on-my-back, lungs heaving feeling of finishing a sprint workout, however. And I still found myself wondering, “am I a runner?”

The next stop on my fitness journey, new this summer, is Crossfit. Now, I’m sure nobody reading this is looking for an advertisement on the benefits of Crossfit (apparently Crossfitters are known for being annoyingly preachy), but bear with me. This sport allows me to use all of the lifting that I love, along with some more functional fitness aspects. One part I did not expect, however, was the running. Since joining a Crossfit gym, my workouts have included 800 meter runs, 400 meter repeats, and 200 meter runs carrying 16-pound medicine balls, all mixed in with many other skills. The best part? I’ve rediscovered the knocked-out fatigued feeling that I so missed and that I had not experienced since my track days.

So, we return to the question of what makes someone a runner. Over the past two years, I have realized that being a runner does not equate with being an elite-level miler, nor does it mean having a list of all the marathons one has ran (although I have extreme respect and admiration for all of the people, including most of my coworkers, who have such lists). To me, being a runner means loving and craving the feeling of pushing your body to its limits and testing your mental fortitude. To all the people out there who once ran, who run occasionally, or, like me, run in conjunction with another athletic endeavor: I say you are still a runner, and I think the running community welcomes you with open arms.

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Training Blog – Running on the Road!

It is the last week of July – just days away from when the defer window for Marine Corps opens up, and sadly, I’m afraid I will be using that day.  It was a rough decision, but I don’t want to run a half-assed marathon.  When I come back in 2016, I want to be sure that I am ready to tackle those 26.2 miles, and not run face first into a brick wall like I did at Marine Corps last year.

So – what now?  Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 10.28.58 AMGreat question!  In August I am registered for the Patrick Henry half marathon down in Ashland.  In October I will be running the Army 10 miler, and in November, I plan to run the Richmond Half.  Goals for the winter are to rebuild a strong base, get back some of the speed that I’ve lost over the past year, and come back strong in the Spring.  I recently started back up with our training group – which is such an amazing and supportive community – and I know they will help me stay on track (literally – HA!).  I will be headed out tonight to spend another super hot day on the track with the happiest group of sweaty people I’ve ever known, and am looking forward to our long run this weekend in the shade of Prince William Forest Park.  This week on track will be a little sad, because it will be the last I’ll see of them for the next three weeks.  That, however, brings me to some fun news.

IT IS ROAD TRIP TIME!!!

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Those of you who followed along last year may remember that I tend to spend most of my summers traveling.  This summer I saved it for August.  On Monday, my kids and I will be headed out on the rather ridiculous trip you see above.  Flying into Utah and driving back (we will be coming all the way home, but google wouldn’t let me add any more stops on the map!).  Running while traveling is a particularly rough game.  Finding the time, finding the place, and finding the energy can be a challenge.  My goal is that I get out and run – even if it is just ONE mile – every day.  If I succeed, it will actually be my longest ever running streak (I usually take rest days).  I also imagine, it should offer up some pretty amazing scenery (and perhaps some seriously depressing hotel gyms).  My goal is to keep you all updated on my running cross country adventure.  Also – if any of you folks out there have lived in any of the stops, I’d love to hear your favorite running routes!

Stay cool out there!

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Training – It’s Hot!!

Hi friends!  Sorry for my absence last week.  Last time we spoke I was in the midst of the great debate – to defer or not to defer.  I’d love to tell you that the debate has been settled, but that would be a lie.  For now I’m just going to keep on trucking and see how things feel come mid-August.  In the meantime – let’s talk about the weather!!

It is warm out.  Really warm and really muggy.  Last Tuesday I was out with the Metro Run & Walk training group, who happen to be some of my favorite people in the world.  If you are getting ready to train for a distance event and tend to like company, I cannot recommend highly enough that you check out this group.  I have been running with them off and on for the last 4.5 years, and while people come and go with each new race season, there is a strong core group of folks who are very quick to welcome you and swap stories.  They have gotten me through lots of runs and races that would have been nearly impossible on my own.

It was warm on the track last Tuesday and we were working on pyramids – going out at a 5k pace and running a 200 meter, followed by a 400 meter, followed by an 800 meter, then back to 400, and finally 200.  If you are someone that hasn’t ever used a track for speed work – one lap around a track is 400 meters.  Between each of these distances we had a 200 meter recovery (walk/light jog).  Given the last time I did any kind of speed work was, well, I don’t even know when, this was a tough work out for me!  It was hot, I was sticky, and my kids were wandering around the track demanding hugs every time we passed them by (sweet, yes.  conducive to speed work, no.).

I spent the next two days feeling those speedy miles.  And hiding from the heat, while preparing to host a birthday party for my now eight year old son.

On Saturday night my husband and I headed up to Rockville for the Rockville Twilighter 8k.  We had run this race last year and had a really nice time, so we decided to give it another try.  It was incredibly muggy, and as I had forgotten, the race was deceptively hilly.  I would love to say I had a great time at the race, but that would be quite the lie.  Everything felt a little wrong.  I knew we weren’t going very fast, but it felt too fast.  Last year I had set an 8k PR at this race (42:05 – fast enough to have me in the top 15% of all women), and this year I was trying to talk my brain into not walking.  It felt crappy enough to encourage the conversation mid-race with my husband about whether or not Marine Corps this Fall is a good idea.  I finished the race exactly seven minutes slower than I had last year.  I felt awful – I had goosebumps and was pretty sure I might throw up at any moment.  We walked over to a restaurant and had some dinner before heading home, and I was left to my thoughts, trying to sort out how to get my speed back, and if I currently want to focus more on speed or distance.

My life is frequently a no rest for the weary life, and Sunday morning I was up bright and early to go lend a hand with our very own 5k/5 Mile race – Sweatfest.  I love our Metro Run & Walk races.  We tend to get a great variety of runners and walkers who attend, and there are always tons of smiling faces.  I will admit, after getting home near midnight on Saturday night, my dog Wake and I were both feeling a bit like this…

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Best race helper ever.

but we were excited to see all the folks out for a very hot race!  I adopted Wake back in April and one day I hope to make him my running partner – but the vet has asked me to wait until he is a year old.  In the meantime, he comes with me to most of the race events where I am working to get him used to the sites and sounds of lots of running.  For Sunday’s race we were course monitors and we got to help cheer folks on along the 5k route, before spending some time at the water stop saying hello to the 5 milers.  I have lots of respect to all our Sunday participants, as it sure wasn’t ideal racing conditions!

This week I am hoping to be the week I really get back on the ball.  The week I finally actually accomplish the long run I am supposed to and don’t miss out on any of my midweek training runs.  I have yet to have a week of this training season where I was on top of my game, so stay tuned for next week to find out if I managed to actually get it together and commit!

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Recipe: Lemon-Poppy Protein Bars

Stop by on Saturday (July 18th) to try these bars in-store!

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We all have those mornings. You spill the coffee grounds on the counter in your bleary-eyed attempt to wake up, drop your makeup brushes all over the floor, can’t find your left shoe…(yes, I am actually listing legitimate events that occurred on an unfortunate morning for me last week). On these mornings, the last thing you want to think about is preparing yourself a high-quality breakfast. Drive-thru? While enticing and certainly quick, a breakfast from the likes of the Golden Arches would probably leave you feeling sluggish by 10:30. Skip breakfast altogether? Enjoy that mid-morning slump and the overeating you are sure to experience for the rest of the day. The solution? Open your fridge and grab one of the lemon-poppy protein bars you prepped last night! How did you prep them, you ask? Read on.

These protein bars are made with whole grains, are lower in sugar than most store-bought bars, and are filled with protein, which keeps you fuller longer. Oh, and they are really good. Fifteen minutes to prep, 25 minutes to bake, and you’ve got yourself enough bars for 12 of those not-so-bright mornings…or whenever you want a tasty, protein-packed snack.

-Rowan

Lemon-Poppy Protein Bars

Recipe from Racing Weight Cookbook by Matt Fitzgerald and George Fear (available to purchase at Metro Run & Walk)

Ingredients

cooking spray

1.5 cups whole wheat flour

⅔ cup vanilla whey protein powder

⅔ cup sugar

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1.5 cups nonfat plain Greek yogurt

¾ cup unsweetened apple sauce

1 tablespoon canola oil

2.5 teaspoons lemon extract

2 eggs

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Coat 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, whey, sugar, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and zest. Stir.
  3. In a separate large bowl, combine yogurt, applesauce, canola oil, lemon extract, and eggs. Add dry ingredients (from step 2) to this bowl and stir until just combined. Pour into the greased pan.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool before cutting. Cut into 12 equal pieces.

Nutrition

Per serving:

145 cal

3g fat

22g carbohydrate

1g fiber

8g protein

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A Deferral Debate

Hi friends.  Here we are, officially three weeks into marathon training, and I’m feeling sluggish.  As I mentioned in my very first blog post, I find myself in a very different place this year vs. last year.  Last year I had hit the ground running in January, racing on a monthly basis and bringing all of my PRs down.  By the time it hit marathon training time, running was a habit I was good at, and making running a priority was easy.

This year is not that year.  I’ve been sluggish at best with my running all year.  Last year I felt like I had something to prove just by finishing another marathon.  This year I don’t just want to finish, I want it to be great.  My training so far has been rocky and I find myself missing as many runs as I go on.  Three weeks in is awfully premature to throw in the towel, and I’m not there yet, but I am certainly debating myself.

I KNOW it can be done.  I know I could turn this all around and get it done.  I know I could even PR.  But it will be much harder than it should be, especially given my lack of a strong base.  I also know that if someone walked in to the store and told me their story, and it sounded like mine, I’d suggest they take some time to get to where they need to be.

Another option I’m musing over, is deferring MCM and running Richmond instead.  It would let me have these last three weeks back, given me a little do-over, while still letting my get in a marathon this year, and trying to use MCM next year for another shot.

Running a marathon is making a big commitment.  It is a distance that must be respected, and if you aren’t well prepared, it can end up really ruining your day.

I’m not sure yet what this week will bring, and the deferral window doesn’t open until August.  For now, I’m going to keep trying to plug along.  Keep trying to prioritize running.  And hopefully next week I’ll feel a bit more certain about where to go from here.

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Gear Check Day!

Hiya friends!  I apologize for my delayed post.  I was actually down in Miami on Monday, but I’ll tell you all about that when I write next Monday.  For today I thought it might be fun to give you a quick run down of some of the gear I use.  I am spoiled by having worked in a running store these last four years, so I have amassed quite a collection of stuff I like to use when I run.  So here’s the run down of literally every single thing that accompanied me on my run today!

Run Length: Four miles

Average Pace:  9:55

Best Mile: 3rd – 9:36

Slowest Mile: 1st – 10:20

Location: Up and down Burke Centre Parkway

Weather – 74 degrees, cloudy, humid!

Shoes!

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These are the current model Asics Cumulus.  I have no shoe loyalty.  I run in neutral shoes.  I have altras, sauconys, adidas, and probably other shoes I’m forgetting about.  These ones are pretty new only my third run in them.  I like alternating my shoes.  It gives them an increased lifespan AND I feel like it is good for my feet to be in different types of shoes, so that if a shoe changes my world doesn’t crumble down in a desperate search for something new.  The Cumulus is a nice shoe – a little heavier than some of what I run in, but with just enough cushion to be comfortable without springy.

Sweaty Bands!

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Sweaty bands are the best friend of anyone with hair they want out of their face.  I will admit that I cringed the first time I bought one.  They are not cheap, and I am a person that loses things.  Despite my initial hesitation, I LOVE these damn things.  You really only need one, but you will end up with ten because they are so damn cute (the one above I bought specifically for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler a couple years ago).  I can speak quite highly of the fact that it will not come off of your head.  I am a bit of a sweater, and they stay put.  I have also worn the to several Tough Mudder events – crawling through mud and jumping off ten foot platforms into water – and have never lost one.  If you have hair in face issues, they are worth checking out!

Socks!

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I have far more sock loyalty than shoe loyalty, but even at that, there are a few brands I stick with.  Balegas were my first ever running socks, and they are probably still my favorite.  They are super thin on the top of the foot, but cushioned under the foot and at the toes.  They come in lots of fun colors.  I’m also a fan of feetures and wrightsocks, and I’m sure you’ll see them on me on other days!

Top

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Cherry Blossom is one of my favorite area races, and their shirts and medals this last year are some of the prettiest I’ve ever seen.  I am a sucker and I almost always upgrade to performance grade shirts when I’ve got the option.  It is basically like my souvenirs of the places I’ve gone to run.  I’ve also high-fived strangers out on the trails several times when we were wearing matching shirts.

Not pictures – adidas sports bra.  I am cursed/blessed with the upper body of a 13 year old boy, so I really don’t have to worry much about the sports bra section.

Bottoms!

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Nike capris.  I feel like spandex is a way of life when it comes to running.  I do have a pretty huge selection of colorful shorts, but frequently I find myself coming back to these just below the knee pants.  They are snug enough to make sure thigh chaffing isn’t a problem (because it is the worst), but not so tight that I feel like all the goods are on display.  Super comfortable, even for July (even though we certainly can’t call 74 degrees typical July weather!).

Garmin

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Please excuse the sweaty arm.  I run with a Garmin Forerunner 10.  I used to have a much bigger, much fancier model, but I found I really didn’t use most of the features, and when it was time to update, I went with this budget friendly model.  It does everything I personally want it to do (pace, distance, pace alerts, history), and doesn’t take up too much space on my fairly small arm.

My Daughter’s I-pod

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The one piece of gear for today I would not recommend – unless you are really into the soundtrack to Annie and Ariana Grande.  I feel like running with music is a hotly debated issue with some folks.  When I am racing, I never listen to music.  I feel like it takes away from a communal experience.  I also much prefer to run with others – even if it just for company and not talking.  When I run alone, however, I run into trouble.  I have an anxiety/panic disorder.  I have heard from a lot of folks with similar issues that find running to be immensely theraputic for them, and I am incredibly jealous of these people.  All that quiet in my head while running alone tends to not do me well, so for me, running is a must when alone.  I make sure it is quiet enough for me to hear people that need to pass and nearby cars, but the lyrics help to distract me along the way.  Sadly, my ipod battery was dead today – so this one, belonging to my eleven year old, was my companion.

Looking forward to a long run on the 4th of July!  Run well!

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I’m baaaaccccck. Marine Corps Marathon 2015!

Hi friends!  Remember me?  No?  That’s okay.  My name is Addie.  I’ve been working at Metro Run & Walk since 2011 – right after I ran my first ever half marathon.  I also am a third grade teacher and a coach for Girls on the Run, as well as a third grade running club at my elementary school.  I have two kids, three cats, a dog, and a 17 year old frog that is missing a limb.  I look a little bit like this:

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After a nice hot run!

Last year I set out to conquer Marine Corps. It was my second marathon, and was an attempt for me to reclaim a piece of myself that I felt I had lost due to heartbreak and life being a roller coaster. If you weren’t following along last year, I’ll give you the quick and dirty – I finished the marathon, but if anything conquered anyone – it conquered me.

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Sitting on the sidewalk reeling after last years attempt.

My training was plagued by my own ego.  Certain that because I had kept up a great training pace early in the Spring, all my new PRs meant that my body was kicking ass and taking names, and that as long as I was even half hearted about my training, I would destroy my PR by about 30 minutes.  I was cocky.  I paid the price.

I DID get a PR at MCM 2014, but instead of the 30 minutes I had expected, it was an eight second PR.  Now that a lot of time has separated me from the race, I can laugh and say that a PR is a PR, but at the time, it was like getting smashed in the face with failure.  I couldn’t stand my friends who wanted to make me feel better by declaring how big of an accomplishment it is to even finish a marathon.  Their intentions were great, and yes, they were right, but I was SO DAMN SURE I had it in the bag.

This year is a very, very different year.  For a number of reasons.  I don’t feel like this is part of me I have to reclaim.  Last year, every training run felt like flipping the bird to someone that had broken my heart, and all of that has healed by now.  Last year I was in great shape.  I had spent the entire first six months of the years running religiously, training my ass off, and shattering my PRs in every distance up to and included the half marathon.  This year, I’ve gotten lazy.  I have put on about 10 pounds since October and only raced about three times (and certainly nothing touched a PR).  I bought a house, got a dog, and settled into a SUPER domestic and lazy life.

IMG_1287The biggest change this year will be that not only am I getting back in the saddle, but I will be running along side my husband who is training for his first ever marathon.  When we met he was NOT a runner, and he would occasionally scoff when I spent a night at his house, but made sure to bring running clothes so I could head out for a run or a race the next day.  Our competitive natures, however, got the best of us one day when I challenged him to a 5k (while he wasn’t a runner, he was a former crossfitter and very fit).  I beat him at that first race, and since then we’ve raced a lot, always running separately to see who could win.  Eventually I got him to train for and run a half marathon.  When I ran MCM last year, Sean joined me for the last ten miles, which I had warned him, would make him want to run a marathon.  He didn’t believe me, but by a few days later the truth had come out, and we both entered the lottery for 2015.  And, surprise surprise, we both got in!

So, here we go again.  I’ve actually scaled back on the training plan I will be using, using Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 plan instead of the intermediate plan I used last year.  Just like last year, I will be spending a lot of my summer traveling, which tends to make for some interesting training runs and scenery!  If you are training, I can’t wait to go on this journey with you!  And if you are a person that is more sane than myself, feel free to enjoy this punishment I am inflicting on myself.

Here’s to 2015!

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Marine Corps Marathon 2014 – Well, it Happened…..

Hi friends!  Addie here.  Well, Marine Corps Marathon was on Sunday, my legs feel back to normal human leg strength, and life is moving on.  Let’s recap the last two weeks.

When I last left you, I was getting ready to run the Baltimore Half Marathon.  I was running with a friend with the plan to run it nice and slow so that I didn’t blow out my legs the week before the marathon.  We accomplished that goal handsomely.  We enjoyed all of the handy treats and drinks the city of Baltimore brought out to share, and it was a really lovely time.  I’ve never run this race before, but it made me quite a fan!  Lots of spectators, clearly marked, easy enough to deal with, and so many unofficial beer stops!

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Enjoying a delightful doughnut hole around mile nine!

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Someone around mile 12.5 handed me this full, unopened beer. I very much enjoyed drinking it for the last half mile!

Baltimore – a city generous with it’s beer and its hills!  I wish this race was a few weeks earlier (or a few weeks later) so that I could race it for real.  I suppose any year that Marine Corps isn’t in the cards for me, this could be a solid back-up race.  It is put on by Corrigan Sports, who really do a great job.  They also put on the Frederick Running Festival and the Baltimore 10 miler, both of which I ran this year and enjoyed quite a bit (except for the hill at the end of the Baltimore 10 – eesh!)

The week between Baltimore and Marine Corps I only went on one run.  In hindsight, I was a bit too cavalier with this marathon training.  I let myself skip too many runs on the premise that no one follows their plans to the letter.  While that may be true, perhaps trying to stay within the 75%-80% sticking to plan range would be a better solution when gunning for a certain time.  But, I digress.

20141026_070412Marine Corps morning rolls around.  I meet up with a group of folks from the Metro Run & Walk store team at 5:30 at the metro to ride in together.  We enjoy each others company and chat about our goals.  There’s four of us hoping to finish around 4:20, one hoping for 4:00, and one looking to finish under 5:00.  We hopped on the metro, made it downtown, and hung out in the Pentagon parking lot, waiting for the sun to rise.

It was a chilly morning, but we knew the warm up was coming.  We made it over to the start line, got in our appropriate corrals, and off we went.  Our plan was to run even 10 minute miles, and for the most part we stuck to this well.  I had a secret weapon planted along the course – my new husband.  We had ended up with an extra bib for the race, and while he could not run the full 26.2, we knew he’d be good for at least ten miles.  He had been instructed to wait just after the water stops near mile 16 to join me and help me get through those last ten miles.

It warmed up quickly into the race – I didn’t even make it a mile in before I took off my jacket and tied it around myself.  The company couldn’t be beat and I was enjoying the sights of the spectators and the sounds of thousands of people in some crazy adventure together.   Shortly after mile ten I found my kids, my parents, and my husband.  I was super excited to see them and my mom even handed me a peanut butter sandwich, which is a wonderful treat while running!  I stopped for a few seconds to give hugs and then I was off again.  I caught up with our group and we headed down Haines Point.  Somewhere around mile 14 or 15 I fell a little behind.  Not far, the rest of our group was always in my sight, but just started to feel the need to go every so slightly slower.  On I ran….

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See the cell phone in hand? I was calling my mom…

Finally I’m approaching the mile 16 water stop, and I’m scanning the crowds for Sean.  I stop to walk, drink, and regenerate while I look.  Then I find myself passing the water stop.    No Sean.  Hrm.  I start jogging again and pull out my cell phone to call him.  No answer.  I had been running with a high school friend and we stumbled upon his wife and kids, and she took a quick picture for us.  I call Sean again.  No answer.  I call my mom and ask if they are still together.  No, she tells me, he went to the water stop and he doesn’t have his phone.  Crap.  Now my husband is somewhere behind me, with no phone, no way to get home (my car was at the metro, and my mom drove in with him when the spotted me earlier – the plan being for he and I to metro home after finishing the race together), and perhaps worst of all for me – I’ve now fallen WAY behind the group and have these ten more miles to run, all alone.  I made the decision I had to make.  I went back.

Marine Corps is a crowded marathon.  And now I found myself running against the grain.  I tried to stay as far to the shoulder as I could, but I certainly confused a lot of people.  I ran about a quarter mile, back to the very start of the water stop and walked through again.  Searching, knowing that he just HAD to be here somewhere!  But no, he was not to be found.  I gave up, felt sad, and started to trot forward.  I was totally in my head now.  Not only was I starting to feel much more fatigued than I should for this point, now I’m totally alone, with ten miles to go, AND have to worry about a husband that will somehow have to get home at some point.  On I trot….

A bit after mile 17, my heart leaped.  SEAN!  There he was on the side of the road, waiting.  He ran in and joined me and I learned that when he saw the rest of the team from the store, he jumped in with them.  He learned I was just slightly behind so he jogged slower, thinking I’d catch him – not realizing that I had now gone backwards on the course.  When he still didn’t see me he pulled off at the side of the road where he waited, and thankfully, we found each other.

At this point, I couldn’t care less about the time I lost going backwards.  I was so relived I wasn’t running alone, that on we went.  Unfortunately, we didn’t go terribly far or terribly fast.  Shortly after the 18ish mile marker (maybe closer to 19, I really don’t remember), my calves cramped up terribly.  I was having to stop and walk, and I even hit to sit down to stretch and rub them out.  Sean was lovely (on his fresh legs) and would sit patiently and help me try to get moving again.  We carried on and then hit the bridge.

I hate that bridge.  That bridge is the worst of things.  My new goal in life is to run Marine Corps again next year and make that bridge my bitch.  This year, well, the opposite was true.  I wanted to cry.  Everything hurt so bad.  My calves were like rocks and I was hot and I watched all the runners around me also break down and walk and complain.  It was awful.  We walked most of it.  I sat (once?  twice?  I can’t remember).  I cursed myself for thinking this was a good idea.  I hate that bridge.

As we crossed the bridge and went into Crystal City, I got a brief second wind.  The crowds were great and I saw friends spectating.  I managed to keep up a jog through most of it until about mile 24, where again I had to sit and rub my calves.  At this point we happened to stumble upon my high school friend again, and decided we would get it done.  We set off again at a trot, and never stopped to walk again.  It was a slow trot.  It was a pained trot.  At one point, from some unknown source, Loryn Hill’s song “That Thing” was playing and I started singing as loud as I could.  I may have been delirious.  But then, the crowds got thicker.  People were lining both sides of the course and I realized we had to be close.

We bypassed the mile 25 water stop – I knew if I stopped again it would be damn near impossible to start again.  We kept moving forward, lifted up by the knowledge that we were SO CLOSE to it all being done.  I saw the 26 mile marker and suddenly, I was running.  I hit that hill, and I RAN.  I have no idea what my pace was, and to be honest, it was probably still slower than a ten minute pace, but in my head I was FLYING.  No stopping, no looking back.  Up the hill, across the finish line.

My final time?  4:58:07.  My A goal had been 4:15 – so, that didn’t go well.  My B goal had been under 4:30 – also didn’t go well.  My C goal – faster than last year.  And last year’s time?  4:58:11.  I beat my time by four seconds.  How do I feel about this?  Well, not great.

But, I finished my second marathon.  I was reminded, yet again, to respect the distance.  And you can bet your ass I’ll be trying again next year.

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