What Does Runner Safety Mean (for Women)?

Every time we lace up our shoes to head out for a run, every time we cross a street or a driveway, and every time we encounter unfamiliar creatures – we need to consider safety.  Runners (and walkers!) face a unique set of safety challenges.  Cars, typically, are our biggest threat.  I speak from experience on this one as like most runners, I have had a close call or two with a car that decided to turn without checking the crosswalk first.  I also have had the experience of seeing my dad recovering from being hit by a car while out for his nightly walk – shattering one leg in multiple places and breaking the other ankle.

Now that Spring has sprung (kind of) we are heading out of the darker months, but it is important to remember that visibility is a year round issue, and one that as runners we need to be vigilant about.  We need to remember to use the side walk when it is available – and to ALWAYS run against traffic if the road is your only option.  Assuming a car will see you is never a safe thing to do.

There are hazards for runners that end up sounding funny in hindsight.  Several years ago I wrote a blog post about how while out for a training run in rural Costa Rica, I was chased for a quarter of a mile by a quite small, but quite angry sounding dog.  I’ve also had encounters with deer and foxes – thankfully without being chased, but we certainly equally startled each other!

Lastly, and the most bothersome for me, are the dangers for women running alone.  Most frequently these dangers are mainly of the psychological nature.  I’ve dealt with years of cat calls from moving cars, rude comments from folks I run by, and even once while running down Franconia Road at night, a car slowed to my pace and stuck right on my heel, asking me what the hurry was, where I was going, and what I was doing after my run.  That night was the most unsafe I have ever felt running.

There was something so utterly jarring about the experience.  I was out for my nearly nightly run.  I had run the same route dozens of times, and had gotten to the point where I didn’t even hear the honks and hollers of the cars as they buzzed by me.  Now – that is not to say it is EVER acceptable to have cars shouting at you or honking their horn, but it was something I had accepted about where I ran, and while I found it obnoxious, I never felt like it made me feel unsafe.  This was different.  It was brazen.  This wasn’t thoughtless words shouted out at 45 miles per hour.  This was intentional tormenting.  I can’t imagine anyone has ever successfully acquired a date from stalking a runner in their car, which made it clear this was a power play.  They wanted me to know I was weaker.  It worked.

I got home shaken up and stopped running that route at night.  And that pissed me off.  I was so frustrated that I had to change my habits because of the behavior of others.  At the same time – I found myself grateful that I’ve never experienced anything scarier while running.  I’ve never had anyone physically grab me, or follow me for longer than a block or two.  We frequently hear reports of runners being groped, grabbed, and assaulted on the trails.  We are told we should never run alone, that we should only run in daylight hours.  That advice, while sensible, also just infuriates me.  I hate the idea that I have to change my habits to make up for the poor behavior of others.  What do I do if I can only run at night?  How about if no one else is available to run?  Does that mean I simply can’t?

Let me get something straight – I think it is smart to run with others for many reasons.  It makes the miles go faster.  It strengthens social bonds.  It motivates you to keep going and gives you others to support you if you were to get injured.  There is also, of course, safety in numbers.  A person (regardless of gender) is an easier target alone than they are when in a group.  And yes, of course, it is smarter to run in the day time.  You want to be seen, you want cars to see you, and the risks of someone attempting to hurt you are also going to be decreased due to more people being out and about.  However, there is more that we can do for ourselves than to give up running alone.

What can we do?  Lots!  Run with your phone and use an app that can broadcast your GPS to friends while you are out.  If you don’t want to run with a phone – map out your run for someone (I frequently use google pedometer to check my mileage out anyway), and leave it up on a screen and give a time frame when you should be back.  Lastly – learn how to defend yourself!!  On April 9th we will be joining up with Capital MMA to host a women’s self defense class.  The cost is only $20 and can help you feel safe when you have to run in less than ideal circumstances.

You can register here – https://www.signmeup.com/site/reg/register.aspx?fid=3R2VKH7

Stay safe and come see us soon!

-Addie @metrorunandwalk

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We LOVE Free Stuff!!

Free shirts, free gear, free fun run, free pie…….I mean – who DOESN’T love free stuff?  Particularly when your free stuff could maybe result in EVEN MORE FREE STUFF!  Or – free stuff that results in something as delicious as pie!!!

I know, now I’ve really got you hooked – so here’s the deal.  For the month of March we are running a pretty sweet promotion.  If you come in and buy a pair of shoes and a pair of socks, we will give you a free Metro Run & Walk shirt (your pick on t-shirt, tech shirt, or tech singlet).  Here is some of our staff modeling some of our awesome clothing….

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 5.26.30 PM

Now, if the cool new shirt isn’t enough free stuff for you – just wait until April!  Next month, Addie and others will be heading out to local races (cough cough – Cherry Blossom) and out to popular long run routes stocked with coupons for discounts or free stuff.  If we catch you in one of our shirts (or a race shirt from one of our events), we will make sure to reward you!!


12029760_10154000629397959_2524274482776698569_oMaybe running around in our gear isn’t for you, but running around with us sounds great.  Maybe you also think pie sounds great.  Join us on Monday (3/14) for our PI DAY fun run 5k.  We will be meeting at the store at 6pm and running about the neighborhood before returning for pie (of the fruit and pizza variety!!).  While this event is free, we ask that you register online so we know how much pie to gather!


I look forward to seeing you all on Monday, and out on the trails next month!


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I took a runcation. You should too!

Traveling is one of my top five excuses for why I miss runs.  I love to travel, and I use any excuse I can to get away and see something new.  Last week I tried my first real runcation (vacation based on running), and I cannot recommend it more highly!!

My husband and I have had what I would call mini-runcations before.  We’ve spent the night in hotels for races in places like Frederick, Annapolis, or Richmond – but we’ve never traveled much farther than that for a race.  We have a tradition of taking one of the long weekends in winter (either MLK weekend or President’s Day) and stretching it into a longer weekend to go somewhere warm.  We both tend to get grumpy in the winter time, and having a warm weather break, even if just for a few days, really helps us keep going!  Back in September we found out the Austin Marathon was over President’s Day weekend.  I had never been there before, but my husband loves the city – so as soon as we realized there were some great airline deals to be had, we bought our tickets and started training!

Our trip was wonderful and happened to fall on what turned out to be the coldest weekend of winter we’ve had this year (perfect timing!).  When we got back home we both agreed that taking a runcation is a really wonderful way to get to know a new place, and is perfect for recovery.  Why so ideal?  Here’s our thoughts –


Any time you sign up for a race, you have agreed to put your money where your mouth is, but usually it isn’t TOO much money.  Runcations are a different animal.  Airfare, hotels, dog boarding – it is certainly cheaper to just stay home!  But if you need something to really kick you into gear, dropping more money than you are used to can certainly help out.  That isn’t to say taking a running vacation needs to be expensive!!  Southwest Airlines has a TON of sales all the time and a decent frequent flier program.  We were able to book our flights for only $11 – plus we got bonus points for renting our car through one of their affiliates.  Running vacations don’t need to be too far from home, but for us, having a huge change in scenery was wonderful.

Trying out local foods and flavors.


I love food.  So much.  Most runners I know do.  Traveling gives you a chance to check out all sorts of different foods.  In Austin it was lots of food truck tacos.  We also visited a local arts flea market to pick up some gifts for kids at home.  There was certainly something novel about getting to carb up with Thai food from a truck.


Great way to explore a new city.


Races tend to take you through some of the most interesting parts of a city, and the Austin Marathon was no exception.  The race started right in downtown Austin and started with running over the Congress Avenue bridge – known as the home of the biggest urban colony of bats in the world.  The race went along South Congress Avenue, lined with restaurants and small shops, along the river where you could watch kayakers and folks on paddle boards, and finished just passed the State Capitol building.  It was a wonderful tour of the city and let us see some sights that we knew we would want to come back to later on in our trip.


Making friends with locals.



We came to know folks from Austin as exceptionally nice.  They were nice drivers, friendly and engaging in conversation, and generous race spectators.  In this photo I am right around mile five, enjoying a cup of beer and some cake.  Later on in the race there were three other people handing out beer, someone with shots of tequila (I recommend against this one), and cups of champagne.  We enjoyed making new friends at food trucks and while out hiking and enjoying the sites of Austin.




Opportunities for active recovery.


Just about every major city in the US is close enough to some beautiful outdoor experiences if you have a car and are willing to make a little drive.  The day after the race we decided to head here for our active recovery – Hamilton Pool.  This collapsed underground grotto allowed for some hiking (hellllooooo quads!!), some quality laying on sand listening to water time, and what I will refer to as an ice bath – a few quick dips in the pool itself where the water temperature was right about 58 degrees.

All said and done, our trip to Austin spanned five days – two travel days, one race day, and one day before and after race to enjoy the sights of Austin.  Because we wrapped our trip around a holiday weekend, this meant only missing two days of work for a five day vacation (and because I am a teacher and one day ended up a snow day – I got super lucky and it was only one day off!!).  We know that it is hard to find time to vacation, but by using long weekends and involving something we already loved (the whole running thing!), it was exactly the kind of vacation we needed.


We hope you try out a running vacation too!!

~ Addie

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1,000 Miles in 2016 – I Love Math

I’ll be brief today, as my January was nothing worth bragging about!  One thing I’ve decided to do is keep an actual paper notebook with each of my runs.  When I miss a run, I have to write down why.  January had so many excuses!  There are days where I just wrote words like “stupid” or “bad”.  Three days use the word blizzard as an excuse, and another three say travel (even though my hotel had a whole row of treadmills just begging to be used).  I must do better.

I like to do math.  It is part of the reason I love teaching – math is my favorite subject.  I like to create math.  For example – I looked at all my planned runs in January (102 miles worth), and compared it to the number of miles I actually ran (50.74).  My very sad math here shows me that I missed more of my miles than I actually ran.  I accomplished just about 49% of the miles, to be exact.

So now I do February math.  I’ve noted that I have 98.5 miles planned.  I’ve also done the math on needing to run 949.26 miles to hit 1,000 by the end of the year, and having 11 months to do it means an average of about 86.3 miles a month.  For the month of January it means I need to average about 2.97 miles a day (which is less than I have planned, so that’s good news).  I told you – I love math.

Now, of course, I have several planned runs of more than three miles.  Actually, I have a half marathon coming up in less than two weeks (more on that next week)!  I am looking forward to getting my legs back under myself and working out these miles this month (who knows, maybe I’ll even find a way to bank a few extra).

My very by the numbers approach makes some of my running friends roll their eyes, but I know I have at least a few friends that are just as wacky about their stats as I am!  What kind of runner are you?  Are you a tracker?  Or do all of my numbers just make you dizzy?

See you next week as I get ready to head to Austin!


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I can’t tell you which shoes are the best.

Good morning!  We hope that none of our friends and community members were stuck in that awful traffic last night, and that those of you getting a day off work today are enjoying it.  Today I wanted to talk a little bit about one of the most common questions we get asked at the store, and why it is impossible to answer.

We love getting to be experts for you.  If there is one thing that runners enjoy, it is talking about running with other people who are actually interested in running (I try REALLY hard to not overwhelm my friends who couldn’t care less with my running habit).  There are lots of questions we can answer.  There are a ton of things we can help with.  There are a few things, however, that are out of our league.  Sometimes it is because it is beyond our range of expertise.  We cannot diagnosis a medical issue (we can sometimes tell you what it sounds like, but we cannot tell you for sure what it is).  We cannot promise a certain shoe or insert or product will be perfect for you, or will fix your aches, or give you a PR at your next race (although we are always happy to tell you what has worked for us and other customers!).  Most importantly of all, and what may be the most frustrating for many customers, is that there is one question we cannot answer at all.  That question – what shoe/brand is the best.

We pride ourself on stocking good shoes.  We stock shoes that we want to run in, or we think others will want to run in.  We stock shoes that we think will give you the best experience possible on you run, and will give you the best return for your money as far as durability.  We stock shoes from many different brands, in many different styles, and we can almost always help you find the shoe that is best for you.  We just can’t TELL you what that shoe is.  Let me illustrate, from my own personal experience, why that is.

Here is the ridiculous pile of shoes that live in my running closet (yes, I have a running closet.  It is necessary):

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 9.41.42 AM

My collection of shoes is excessive, and likely unnecessary.  What I want you to see, however, is the variety.  There are shoes from Brooks, Altra, Asics, Adidas, Saucony, and Nike.  There are premium cushioning shoes (those Brooks Glycerins in the front), and shoes that offer next to nothing in the cushion department (Adidas Bostons, hot pink friends on the right).  I have true neutral, zero drop shoes (Altra Torins), and light stability shoes (Brooks PureFlow).  There are also some trail shoes mixed up in there.  I actively rotate through all of these shoes for any and all of my runs, with the exception of the Brooks Cascadias that I use mainly to hike, and the Altra Lone Peaks that have sentimental value (a gift from a friend that died in a mountain biking accident).

Why so many shoes?  And what in the world does this have to do with being able to help you find your perfect shoe???  Personally, I don’t think there is a perfect shoe.  I think there are a lot of different shoes that are going to feel good on you, for a lot of different reasons.  There are days where I want to do speed work, and even though the difference is probably physically negligible for me, the mental bonus of having a super lightweight shoe is awesome.  The Brooks PureFlows feel like slippers to me, and for some reason are my favorite shoe to wear on a treadmill where I feel like I am banging down on my feet harder than normal.  My Glycerins and my Cumulus are my go to long run shoes.  All of these shoes have a very different feel to them.  The thing is, they all feel good.

When we help you to pick out shoes we look at and consider a lot of things.  Do you need stability?  Do you prefer cushion over light weight, or something in the middle?  What are you training for or are you running just for the fun of it?  What is your foot shape and what brands might best fit your foot?  Do you like shoes to be tighter or looser?  Once we know these things, we do our best to use our knowledge of our shoes to bring you out several pairs that we think you’ll love, but your feet are your feet.  We can’t always tell how you’ll feel about a shoe, and the shoe that is right for you is the shoe that you think feels great, not the shoe that is our favorite.

Now, I am not against shoe loyalty.  We have a lot of folks that have found a shoe the love, they walk in and say things like “Brooks Adrenaline – size 10,” and they end up being the fastest transactions of the day.  My one word of caution, is that over time brands do tend to change shoes ever so slightly.  If you have a shoe you love and it is time to replace it, we are more than happy to bring you out your shoe plus a few that we feel are comparable, just so you can be certain that “your shoe” is still the best feeling shoe for you.  I’ve had folks on more than one occasion express shock when they put on a different shoe and fell in love.

Our job here at Metro Run & Walk is to make sure you are able to work towards your goals with every advantage we can get you.  Sometimes that may be providing you with training advice or just selling you some gels or new socks.  Sometimes that means helping you find the shoe that makes you really WANT to get out there and work.  When it is time for shoes, remember we are here to guide you to the right place, but the shoe that is the best is the one that feels the best to you!

Stay warm out there!


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1,000 Miles in 2016

Hi folks!  Addie here, hoping that so far you are finding your goals for 2016 attainable!  My biggest goal for this year when it comes to running is to hit 1,000 miles.  You may remember several months ago I wrote a post about running with limited time.  I shared my fairly absurd google calendar where I juggle social obligations of two kids, my training plan, and all those other things that come up.

If you looked at that calendar, you may have noticed that I like to be a bit of a planner.  I am a list maker, a planner hoarder, and a person that MUST know when my next race is and how many miles I should be running to train.  Not that I necessarily run all those miles, or always get to everything on those to-do lists, but for some reason there is comfort for me in having them around.

I sat down and did the math the other day.  To reach 1,000 miles I need to put down an average of 83.3 miles a month.  Due to my planner tendencies, I already have on my calendar all of the miles I am hoping to run from January until Cherry Blossom in April.  I know that there are a million different websites and apps and things that can be used to track miles, but I have decided that I am going old fashioned this year.  Here is what January looks like so far:

As you can sephoto 3 (2)e, the planned miles for January have me well above my 83.3 required miles for the month to hit my goal.  As you can also see, several days so far have not quite worked out the way I would have hoped!  Of course, some days are planned rest days or involved cross training.  Other days – most notably the ones named as “sad, bad, stupid, days” were days where for one reason or another, I just didn’t get there.  Here we are, half way through the month, and I’ve got only 20 and a quarter miles under my belt.  This is disappointing, but I am heartened by the fact that my “sad, bad, stupid days” only lasted four days, with so far two days (and soon to be three) of getting back on the bandwagon.  There are days where life feels too overwhelming to add anything else.  The days where I work all day and then run two kids to two different activities and then have to manage homework and chores and making sure everyone has dinner (I did resort to pizza already this week).  Then there are those days where everything was wrong, I yelled at the kids, I’m grumpy, things are terrible, and I decide that is the day that I MUST GO RUN.  Those days frequently end up looking like this:


Gym trips after 9:00 have become a thing that is not terribly unusual.  I know I’m not sleeping enough, and I have been guilty of hitting the bed without showering more times than I’d like to admit, but it works.  I am hoping that these minor set backs so far this month aren’t setting the tone for my year.  I can’t wait to sit down at the end of the month and do math again.  To see the difference between my miles complete and miles planned (even though I know this number may be a bit disappointing).  To re-calibrate expectations and see what I need to get done every month to keep things going.  I know there will be months that make it easy to get my miles in – when it is warm outside and I’m training for Marine Corps this Fall, for example.  There will also be times like February – when it is freezing and I’ve just finished a race I have been training for.  Those are the months that I will find 83.3 miles (or whatever the new average will be after January wraps up), damn near impossible.  I will check in with you all at the end of the month and let you know how this silly venture is going!

Til next time, take care!

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On Monday I couldn’t get a treadmill, and I was so proud.

In the last few years I have noticed a very disheartening attitude that seems to float around some communities the first few weeks of January.  There is a scoffing, turned up nose type of attitude that some folks take on that I find a bit repugnant.  This attitude is best illustrated in some of the chatter I hear regarding the gym.  More specifically, the heavier than average traffic flow at the gym.

Monday was my first day back at my for real job (working at the store and posting things on facebook is my play job).  The day was long, the kids were loud, and I had forgotten what it was like to wake up to an alarm clock.  By about lunchtime I was feeling fried and knew I’d need a break that day.  When I saw that my gym had a yoga class that night, I asked my husband if he could pick up our son from cub scouts, and made plans to make a date with myself to shake off some of this back to work nonsense.

I had forgotten the date.  I had forgotten all about things like resolutions, and how so many people tend to take this time of year, with all their good feelings from the holidays and the support of friends and families, to embark on a quest to better themselves in some way.  When I walked into the gym, I remembered.

There were folks milling about the information desk, waiting to meet with the membership folks and get tours of the facilities.  The day care you pass as soon as you come in was absolutely over loaded with sprinting children, and it took about 15 attempts at opening lockers to find one that was empty.  All the while I thought to myself, “this is great.”

People like to complain.  We like to gripe about there not being enough parking spaces, about there not being open lockers.  I hear people making fun of others because they are using the equipment incorrectly.  Walking out I even heard one man say to another, “I can’t wait until February when they are all gone.”

Now, of course, I don’t LIKE struggling to find a locker.  It would be great if I never had to wait for a treadmill.  I am more than happy, however, to make space for anyone who is ready to try to be a version of them self that makes them happier.  I am not suggesting that weighing less, participating in certain sports or having a certain type of body should make anyone happier; I just know that I am happier with myself when I run, regardless of my weight at the time.

Due to my midday brain being less than stellar, I misread the class info.  It started at 7:30, and I had made sure to get there early for the 7pm start.  Now I found myself with 45 minutes to kill, which was perfect because I had missed a run over the weekend and had some mileage I wanted to make up.  I walked up and down the many rows, but there was not a single treadmill to be found.

I settled on rowing instead, and while I rowed I thought about what it was like when I first started running.  How hard it was, and how much I wanted to quit.  I remember going into my first 5k feeling like it was an insurmountable challenge to actually run for three whole miles in a row!  I remember that race vividly.  I remember how badly I wanted to stop and walk around mile 2.5 and how insanely proud I was of my finish time – which for the record was 37 minutes and 11 seconds.  In the five years since I’ve shaved 14 minutes off that time, finished two full marathons, five Tough Mudders, a handful of half marathons, and trained over 50 kids to run their first 5k.  I’ve come a long way to become the “runner” I am today, but I started out just like one of those folks who may have been getting on that treadmill for the first time this week.

If you are reading this and are a runner, gym rat, or athlete of any kind – I challenge you to drop your cynicism this January.  Be a voice of encouragement, not just another hurdle for these new runners to overcome.  Remember that it was new to you once too, and think about how far you have come.  And if you are a new runner, or a runner trying to get back into it – come see me at Metro Run & Walk or shoot me a line on facebook when the going gets tough.  I believe in you, and I’m proud to have you as part of our community!



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End of Year Review and Preview

Hi friends!  Addie here.  We are in our last week of 2015, which is always a nice time to reflect on the year behind you and think to the year ahead.  I talk frequently on this blog about setting goals and making a plan to ensure success, and this year I was able to  achieve some of my goals, but fell far behind on others.  I’m going to try to just give some fun bullet points about my year, instead of my typical rambling on.

In a typical year, I would like to race 12 times.  This year, I raced seven.

I managed to have an abdominal tear in January and a kidney infection in December, which actually made this one of my more injury prone years.  I also went off on a three week road trip and did zero running, shooting down my chance of running Marine Corps.

This was a year without a single PR.  It was a year where I had to defer instead of show up.  As far as running goes, it seemed pretty dark.

There were, however, reasons to feel good about my running year.  I adopted a dog friend to run with me.  I came within 15 seconds of my 5k PR (and on a flat course, my PR was set on a very downhill course).  I managed to keep up a 100 day running streak (despite the previously mentioned kidney infection).

So – what do I have ahead of me in 2016?  I have my monthly races planned out from January through June.  One involves having to fly to the race, which I’ve never done before.  My big goal for 2016 is to get in 1,000 miles over the year.  I’d also love to get my 4:30 marathon, but that’s more on the backburner as I try to reach my mileage goal first.  I also have a dear friend that I’ve known since elementary school that is not a runner who will be flying out to run Cherry Blossom with me.  I look forward to a more consistent year (I’ve got less travel planned this year, so that helps).

What are your running goals or resolutions?  How do you keep yourself accountable?

See you in 2016!



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Blue & Grey Half Marathon and an Unceremonious End to Marathon Training.

Well, I am a week late, but it has been a crazy week!  I am officially very jealous of all you folks who ran our Holiday Half on Sunday.  What amazing weather for a December half marathon!!  Burke Lake is such a wonderful resource to the runners in this community, and we are so lucky to be able to put on a race for all of our friends and community members that showcases how beautiful our area is!!

Having said that – I was not able to attend our Holiday Half.  If you recall, I ran the Blue & Grey Half Marathon down in Fredericksburg the previous weekend.  In case you have forgotten what weather was like THAT weekend – here is a photo taken from my car:



Yes, I have my heat set at 75 degrees.  It was FREEEEZING!  I live in Burke, so my morning started quite early in order to make it down to Fredericksburg to pick up my packet and prepare to race.  This photo is actually from after getting my packet – while I huddled in my car waiting for the 7:30 race start.  The Blue & Grey was the smallest half I have ever been a part of – and I must say the ability to park your car 20 feet from the start/finish line was amazing!  Despite the super cold temps, the race organizers and a DJ were out, trying to keep the crowd happy and ready to race!



National Anthem at Sunrise

A few minutes before 7:30 I scurried out of my car, hit the traditional pre-race port-o-potty and was ready to go.  I had actually never even been to Fredericksburg before, nor did I check out the course map prior to racing.  I realized in the first few miles that the end of this race was going to hurt.  We were doing an awful lot of downhill!  I carried on with the plan of running even nine minute miles.  While I typically don’t run with headphones, I was feeling a little off about the race and decided to use them as a distraction.  I listened to my music and after each song would glance down to check my pace.

Mile 1 – Perfect 9 mile pace.

Mile 2 – 8:38 (all those downhills!!)

Mile 3 – 8:55 (about right)

The course went on, and much of it was riverside, which made for lovely morning running.  The sun came out, the gloves came off, and I was feeling great.


Mile 4 – 8:58

Mile 5- 9:03

Mile 6 – 9:11

Around mile six, I felt myself start to lag.  I wasn’t hellbent on racing, and while I thought it would be great to get my second sub 2 hour half, I wasn’t really worried about it.  I haven’t been training for a certain pace or speed, so I decided to just keep moving at a pace that was comfortable.  On I went…

Mile 7 – 9:15

Mile 8 – 9:12

It was at mile eight that I found myself keenly aware that I was thinking this was just a ten miler.  Whoops.  No.  I don’t have TWO more miles, I have FIVE more miles.   You can imagine that messing with your head a bit…

Mile 9 – 9:09 (because I realized I wanted to get this done!)

Mile 10 – 9:38

Mile 11 – 10:10

Annnnnnnnd then I found the hills again!!!  I was NOT prepared.  I had let myself forget about them (because I was busy reminding myself that I was closer and closer to done with each foot step).  These hills were nasty.  They were steep.  And they showed up when I was slowing down anyway.  I’m not going to tell you the times of my last two miles.  I will tell you that I never once stopped to walk, only because I knew if I did I wouldn’t start again.  I can’t imagine how silly my slow shuffle up those hills went, and while I have no photos to prove it, I will show you the course profile to help illustrate my point.


Nasty.  Nasty thing to do to someone.  I finally made it to the top and finished my race – coming in just under 2:05.  It was my fifth half, and that time is firmly in the middle of the other four.  As depleted as I was, I was thrilled when I got to the food tents.  I quickly refueled in a glorious fashion:


Shameless Consumption

Here is where my story gets less fun. On the drive home from Fredericksburg I started feeling awful. I felt like I had run a full, and not eaten at all during it. By the time I got home all I could do was fall onto my bed, where I slept for a few hours.  I have NEVER felt this way after a half.  The next day I wasn’t all that much better.  As a matter of fact, I started to have ridiculous amounts of abdominal pain.  And it just, didn’t get better.  By Wednesday I was on the playground at work, unable to stand up straight, when a fellow teacher insisted I leave.  Off to the doctor with me.  UTI, appendicitis, kidney infection…..lots of fun things were on the table.  But none of the tests could quite pinpoint my problem.  I was put on five days of antibiotic nuclear weaponry, and warned that my meds would increase my risk of tendon rupture or tear for several weeks, even when I wasn’t taking them anymore.  They also would make me feel like I have the flu.

So, here I sit.  One week and one day later.  I have managed to keep up my one mile a day run (although one day I literally collapsed onto my stairs after and couldn’t move for nearly 10 minutes, so maybe a saner person would have given it up).  Today will be day 98.  I have had to switch from my plan to run the Austin Marathon to the half marathon (I would end up missing three weeks of long run, and I don’t want to half ass my training).  I am disappointed.  I am still grumpy from being on these antibiotics. But, I am feeling VERY lucky to be starting to feel better.

Now I am training for the Austin Half in February, the VA Beach Half in March, Cherry Blossom (yay for lottery results!) in April, and the Frederick Half in May.  I have a guaranteed entry to the 2016 Marine Corps Marathon, so it looks like 2016 will be spent getting ready for that race.  I will also be pushing to make it my first year with over 1,000 miles run!

I won’t be posting next weekend as I will be traveling to Iceland, but I may attempt a run or two, and will make sure to get the hilarious results up on our instagram page !

Until next time – run well!

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Running Vs. Racing

Hi friends!  This week I’m taking a brief break from telling you about my marathon training, and instead talking about running versus racing, and what that looks like for me.  For a very long time I went to races, hoped to run just a little bit faster than the time before, and typically was successful at this endeavor.  Due to these frequent successes, I felt like I was becoming faster and becoming a more competitive runner at races.  While it is true that I was getting faster and faster, what I didn’t realize is that I had never REALLY raced.

In my head, if I was at a race, trying for a time, I was racing.  My goal time was always a hair or two faster than the time before, and I was almost always able to hit my goal and feel pretty good during and after the race.  This habit came to a stop in the spring of 2014 when I was getting ready for a half.  My previous PR for a half marathon was 2:24, and I was hoping to run a 2:15.  I shared my goal with Bruce, our fantastic coach, who immediately chided me and told me I should be running a sub 2-hour half.  I was sure he was wrong.  I am not that fast.  I am firmly mid/back of the pack and I just trudge along.  He kept disagreeing with me until I agreed to attempt to run with the 1:50 race pacers and see what happens.

That was the day I learned the difference between running and racing, and realized that at every other race I had just been running (albeit slightly faster each time).  I realized that racing isn’t supposed to be comfortable, and that it is about really pushing.  I did indeed get a sub 2 hour half that day, but I haven’t really pushed myself like that since then.

That is, until this last Thursday.  Now that I find myself marathon training again, I realize that I’m not sure where I am in the sense of speed.  I hadn’t really “raced” a 5k in a very long time, and because knowing your 5k pace is a good benchmark to know for speed work, I felt like I should try it out.

Every year I participate in the Trot to End Hunger – a Thanksgiving morning 5k downtown that benefits So Others Might Eat.


Ready to go

It is a huge event, with lots of families and groups in attendance to start off their Thanksgiving morning with a little exercise and a way to give back to the community.  Thankfully the race organizers understand the difference between runners there to race and families there to walk and set up pace corrals based on mile pace, broken down in one minute intervals. In an effort to run at the pace that is right for me, without being concerned about exactly what that pace is, I ran without garmin.  This is always slightly nerve-wracking for me. What if I’m going too slow?  What if I go out too fast??  What if I desperately want to slow down, but what I don’t know is I am only a quarter of a mile from done???  Despite my concerns, I knew that the best way for me to run my most sincere pace would be to run it without knowing what that pace was.  So off I went.


Not a small race….

I love this course.  I’ve done it a million times.  Straight down Pennsylvania Ave, turn right in front of the Capitol, turn right on the other side of the Mall til the turn around and then run it back.  I will be the first to admit that Pennsylvania Ave never seems so long as it does on the way back, but it’s a flat, smooth course that goes by fast.

I took off on race morning, running at what I refer to as an uncomfortable pace.  Too fast for me to talk or really feel very good, but maintainable.  I’ve learned that this is what racing feels like.  That feeling of “I might get sick, but not yet.”  The first mile felt fairly awful.  I had forgotten that when I was in much better shape I would always do a warm up mile or so before a race, and now I remember why.  That first mile just feels like my legs are made up of concrete bricks.  Every attempt at lifting a foot to move forward seems to take ten times as much effort as it should, and it is incredibly demoralizing to start a race feeling so awful!!  By the time I hit the one mile mark I was nice and warmed up (and on my way to too warm), but I will certainly go back to taking a warm up trot before I race!!

I had worn a jacket that morning, but I ended up wrapping it around my waist before the race even started.  I am a person who likes it hot.  It is hard for it to be too hot for me to want to be outside, and humidity doesn’t bother me in the least.  I utterly hate the cold.  Having said that, I own a lot of very wonderful, vey warm and cozy running gear.  When I run in the cold, however, I tend to warm up a LOT and FAST!  Before I even hit the two mile mark I was far too warm in my long sleeve top, and ended up running the second half of the race in my tights and a sports bra.  It was probably not a pretty sight for the spectators (or my fellow runners!!), but it was certainly more comfortable than sweating under layers!

As I made the turn back onto Pennsylvania Avenue I felt myself wanting to slow down.  I felt the familiar vague nausea of pushing myself hard, and the slight light headedness of needing to get some more oxygen into my body.  I probably did slow down a bit at this point, but as I was running without garmin we will never really know.  Finally I got close enough to the finish to see the clock at the finish.  My heart sunk.  I was sure the clock was reading 28:45, which is slower than I run 3 miles on a treadmill at the gym when I’m doing an easy run.  I was disheartened for a second, until I got closer and my eyes focused better – the clock had said 23, not 28!!!

My official race time was 23:54, which is only 15 seconds off my PR that had been set on an all downhill course just a month before Marine Corps last year.  I’m feeling good, convinced that my running streak is helping me to pick up some speed, and feeling ready to keep on training for Austin.  Two days later, my quads are still growling at me, so I may not be “racing” again for a few months, but I’m quite happy to know I haven’t lost nearly as much speed as I thought I had (which I never would have believed had I not decided to push it).

Next week I will be running the Blue & Grey Half Marathon in Fredericksburg.  It’s a new to me race and I’m going to see if I can’t get my second under 2 hour half marathon.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

Posted in Articles, On Training, Running Events | 2 Comments