Race Spotlight: Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon

Standard

This weekend I had the pleasure of helping promote one of my FAVORITE half marathon’s in the DC area. Drumroll please…

wwbhm

You may recall my race recap from this race in 2013. Max and I stumbled upon it after the Marine Corps 10k as Max was bitten by the half-marathon bug. This was his first half and he absolutely kicked butt! For me, it was my worst half-marathon time to date and I got double calf cramps at mile 9…but it is still one of my favorite races! That says a lot about the race and I’ll explain why:

  1. Microbrews. Runners know that most races hand runners Michelob Ultra at the end of a race, but the WWBHM let’s you pick a a delicious microbrew.
  2. The course. This race starts at Mount Vernon Estates, runs down GW Parkway, into Old Town Alexandria, and over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge into National Harbor. The views are breathtaking!
  3. The size. The half is capped at 5,000 runners so it’s not too big and not too small.
  4. Support. I’m a middle of the pack runner. On this run I was a back of the pack runner. Calf cramps and poor hydration on my end pushed me to the back and I was happy to see that I had course support (water, cheering groups, etc) the entire 13.1. Thankfully that was very different than Heather Gannoe’s experience in the back to the pack.
  5. New 6k. New to running? Not up to the half marathon distance? No problem! Try the 6k option and join the party at the finish line!

1470122_10152032060682240_2012429844_n

We will be back this year!

So this weekend I joined the official mascot of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon at the Purple Strides 5k in DC. Now Woody is pretty heavy…but don’t let that fool you…because he is fast! The crowd loved taking pictures with him, racing him on the course (he runs a 28 minute 5k!), and competing. Woody’s a pretty big mascot so he needs a little big of help to get around — so was more than happy to play Secret Service for the morning. Here are a few of the highlights:

DSCN0233 Even U.S. presidents have to pay for parking.  Tickets are no joke!

DSCN0260 Playing around on the Foosball, ping pong, and basketball games set up.

DSCN0273 Helping some new friends stretch so they’re ready to run the 5k.

DSCN0255 Snapping a TON of photos with the 4,000 people running/walking the 5k.

IMG_3168 Hitting the 5k course strong on a beautiful sunny day.

IMG_3299 Recovering with a banana and water post-race.

IMG_3345 Challenging a new friend to a push-up contest.

Want to learn more about the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon and 6k? Be sure to check them out on Facebook and Twitter for more information and dive in! 

WWBHM FAQ

Advertisements

Embracing Hills

Standard

I’ve never been a big fan of hills…ever! As a matter of fact, I try to plan my runs to avoid them as much as possible (guilty as charged) and I stick to flat surfaces. My high school track team practiced in a particularly mountainous area of Hong Kong (the whole island is just little mountains really) and on hill workouts I would do everything I could to get out of it – fake sick, get a side stitch, claim dehydration. If any of my high school track coaches read this, please consider this an apology. But seriously…this was the area around my school (pictured bottom left)! Holy Hills Batman! Pretty? Yes, but you had to run up a hill just to get out of the gates!

tai_tam_01

This brilliant avoidance plan of mine, however, did not make me any faster…and I want to be faster! Everything I have read has pointed me towards hill running and interval training. Last week I kicked it into high gear (pre-snowstorm)! The theory is pretty basic: if you want to improve strength and speed, run hills.

We live in Capitol Hill so there are plenty of “hills” to choose from (ok really only 2 big ones). There is one hill in particular (pictured below) that I went out of my way to run up during each run this week. I wanted to focus on hill intervals (aka repeats) this past weekend so I set of goal of running it 4 times in one run. Run up, down, up, down, up, down, up down…you get the point. 4 was my goal and 4 repeats were accomplished. Now I have my base-lines! And Capitol Police think I am crazy!

image (31)

Over the last few weeks I have read several articles on hill intervals and I wanted to share them with you.

  • A study out of New Zealand confirmed the theory that hill training makes you faster. 20 well-trained runners were tasked with running a 5k at their best times possible. Next they trained on hills for 6 weeks and ran the same 5k course to gage improvement. Each runner was (at least) a 2% improvement. That’s PR territory right there!
  • If you want to increase the amount of calories you burn and don’image (32)t have an hour to add to your workout time, add an incline! On average I burn 100 calories/mile on a run. On my 4 mile hill intervals this weekend I burned over 500. Check it out!
  • According to Runners World, on uphill sections your muscles contract more powerfully than usual because they are forced to overcome gravity to move you up the hill. The result is more power, which in turn leads to longer, faster running strides.
  • Shift gears both mentally and physically and prepare to attack the hill; don’t let it attack you. Each repeat gets stronger and you’ll feel like a beast when it’s over! As your endurance builds, it will also make the flatter portions of your runs easier.
  • Hill actually lessens the risk of injury because the slope of the hill naturally shortens the distance you have to “fall” and lessens impact. The reverse is also true…so be careful on downhills!

So what do I do on these hill runs?

The hill itself is 350 meters long…so it’s not a mountain (though it feels like it) with an elevation change of over 75 feet during those 350 meters. 350 meters is a pretty solid distance for hill intervals. This is how it works:

1) Fast uphill (my heart rate shoots “our of zone” for workout during this time
2) A rest (I walk for about 45 seconds)
3) Steady downhill (for every uphill there is a downhill, right?)
4) A rest (again, I walk for about 45 seconds)
5) Repeat!

Hill Repeats

Side note, I like to begin is a 10 minute run to warm up before I get to my hill to make sure I’m ready to go. Maybe hill intervals are not your thing? No problem! There are other types of “hill runs” to take a look at as well: short hill repeats (think 30-60 meters long), long hill runs, hill bounding, downhill strides, etc, you just have to play around and figure out what works best for you.

What are your thoughts on hill training? Share them in the comment section below!