Race Recap: Nike Women’s Half Marathon

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This weekend goes down in the record books as one of my favorite races to date! For two years I have tried (unsuccessfully) to win a spot in the lottery for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in DC. On Friday, I got the call of a lifetime and was offered a sport to run as a charity runner and used my lunch break to zip down to the “expotique” (just a few blocks from work) to write my donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and pick up my packet. 30 minutes later I was back at work and on cloud nine! Everything ran so smoothly and as soon as I got the call I knew I could not turn this opportunity down.

My only hesitation was that I was not in “racing shape” because I had not been training for a half marathon. I am, however, down 15 pounds since my first half marathon a year ago and am running more consistently than when I trained for any of my other races. Knowing that I was in better overall shape now that I have been for any previous race in the past two years…I knew I could do it!

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Nike knows how to put on an adorable expo! Once I picked up my packet I went and picked up my dri fit shirts. I wore it while running errands on Saturday and it was so comfy – it will be a new favorite running top. Then I headed into the “expotique” and took a look at their Nuun stand, the adorable course map, the gear they were selling, tested out some Luna Bars, and checked out the adorable Paul Mitchell Salon inside the tent. Women’s races are fun!!

On Saturday Max and I ran our usually Saturday routine of visiting the farmers market (to pick up muffins from Enzo the muffin man of course) and grocery shopping. In the afternoon we attended a friends wedding mass and reception. Sadly no drinking or candy for me because of the race on Sunday. On Saturday, we took a little pit-stop at Road Runners Sport to pick up some last minute race day essentials. I picked up a new running tank top with headphone holes and a phone pocket included, a new pair of no-slip running glasses, salt stick pills, Nuun, a honey stinger waffles for a pre-run snack, and honey stinger chews for each mile. Their VIP membership saved me $10 yesterday alone. WORTH IT!

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I know I broke the cardinal “no nothing knew on race day” rule…but it was worth it. Nothing chafed, everything agreed with my belly, and everything fit well. This was the first race I used Saltsticks with and I will NEVER run a race without them again! AMAZING! They kept my legs from cramping the entire 13.1 miles…even on my dreaded mile 9 “sure cramp” mile!

My jitters on Sunday morning we so horrible that they had me up at 3:30 AM…so with less than 5 hours of sleep. I kept having horrible thoughts about calf cramps, not training (ok…I didn’t train), not meeting the race course cut off times, and not finishing. So sad! So I woke up and started to stretch and eat breakfast. I always eat a banana and a piece of toast with peanut butter on it. Today was no exception! I finished 1 bottle of Nuun while getting ready, packed one to drink while I stretched at the start line, and carried one in my holder. I applied half a roll of KT tape on my legs and created a secure masterpiece that I am sure help keep much of my pain at bay throughout the morning. Finally, I packed my bag and opted for an Uber car to pick me up and drop me off at the start line. After all, they were a Nike Women’s Half Marathon sponsor and I had a $10 credit to use as a participant! I hate feeling rushed on race morning, so I was at the start/finishers village at 5:30 for out 7:00 AM race.

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I used that hour to get some really great stretching in and finish a bottle of Nuun while listening to music to calm me down. I was wide awake and really enjoyed that calm before the storm. Since it was freezing cold I wanted to wait as long as possible to check my gear in and lines were short. Luckily, Max’s co-worker Lindsey, who I had the pleasure of meeting at the NASPA 2014 conference in Baltimore, MD, was also running the race so we lined up together. We were in the third (last) wave of runners to start and I had a fan girl moment when they announced that Shalane Flanagan would be running with us 15,000+ runners! Makes sense…since she is sponsored by Nike! Before we knew it…we were off…

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The first two miles zoomed by and we kept a great 10:50 pace until I was side lined by having to go to the bathroom. Anyone who has run a race knows just how horrible the portapotty lines are which also really mess up your time. Waiting in line took at least 3 minutes off of my times…oh well. Not much you can do! At mile 3 we hit the orange station at the Manadrin Oriental Hotel which was deliciously refreshing on a sunny day like today. Throughout the entire course supporters were cheering and high-fiving runners which was excellent motivation. The stations and aid kept getting better from there! Unlike previous races I hydrated really well in the 48 hours leading up to the race and I wrote out a plan for race day. I carried 1 small honey stinger chew for each mile after mile 4 and carried a bottle of water with me in my holder. I planned to take BOTH 1 Nuun cup and 1 water cup at each station AND take the course aid (shock blocs, etc.) and that really helped. I felt hydrated and fueled the entire 13.1 miles…no bonking! We are what we eat!

The views were phenomenal and I tried to snap as many pictures as I could. Here are a few:

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Some of the highs:

  • I really loved having Nuun at every aid station
  • Great supports like Luna Bars, Shock Blocks, and the chocolate mile
  • The beautiful course through DC
  • Awesome supporters cheering along the course and bands every few miles
  • Great weather with just a slight breeze
  • No blisters or chafing (thanks BodyGlide)
  • A new PR! More on that later!
  • Texts like these from my Ohana, friends, and family throughout the race to keep me going

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My friends are awesome!

Some of the lows:

  • Having to use a porta potty and losing my running partner
  • Speaking of which…porta potty lines as way too long
  • Haines Point felt like it was a never ending straight match
  • At mile 8 my left knee started to hurt and gave me problems for the rest of the run
  • As I rounded the corner of mile 13 my left calf finally cramped

One of the biggest highlights of my day was setting a new PR! I am a proud slow runner and seeing friends finish with sub 2 hour times is such an inspiration! My Rock and Roll DC Half Marathon time in 2013 was my PR (2:55:50) and my Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon Time was slightly above that. When I got to mile 7, just over the half way mark, I took a look at my watch and did the math…I could PR if I keep this pace…and there’s some wiggle room. I didn’t want to psyche myself up for disappointment so I tried not to dwell on it. Once I hit mil 11 I knew it was within reach and at mile 12 I knew it was mine! I could see Max at the finish line and crossed the clock at 2:41:04. I beat my previous PR by 14 minutes and 46 seconds today! AHHH! I look at my watch when I crossed the finish line, did the mental math, and broke down and cried on the “red carpet” finish line. A police office saw me and asked if I was hurt and needed medical attention. I laughed and told him I was fine. He looked relived and said, “did you PR?” and I nodded and he asked if I wanted my picture taken, haha!

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I made my way down finishers village and was wrapped in a heat blanket, handed an ice cold water bottle and chocolate milk, and given a treat bag of snacks from Whole Foods. Then the moment we all waited for…the Tiffany’s & Co. necklaces/medals!!!

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At the end of the street I was able to find Max and together we went to pick up my checked bag. We had planned to take Uber home as well, but the weather was beautiful and I needed to walk out that calf cramp that was starting to develop, so we decided to walk. We were only about a mile and a half from home so it wasn’t too bad! On the way home we found this sign at a bus stop and I had to take a picture:

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The rest of the day was spent on the couch with my legs up, compression socks on, and ice on my knees. Ladies and gents…what distance running REALLY looks like:

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I’m feeling great so far, had a delicious steak dinner courtesy of the hubby, and have ice cream waiting! Ahh the joys of eating whatever you want because you just burned 2,000+ calories! Have a wonderful night everyone! Keep finding your strong!

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5 for Friday!

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#1

Both my mom and my mother-in-law are breast cancer survivors and 2 of my favorite people in the world! Last October I was able to run a 5k with my mother-in-law when she finished radiation to support breast cancer research and on May 10th I get to run/walk the Susan G Komen 5k with my mom! My mom picked this race because she participated in a research study while she underwent treatment. The research doctors were at each of her surgeries and appointments and she knows firsthand how important the research is. If you are in the DC area we would love to have you join our team and walk with us! If not, we would greatly appreciate your prayers, positive thoughts, and donations to research if possible. You can check out our page HERE.

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 #2

This week I threw my name in the ring to be part of Saucony’s 26 Strong project. Saucony pairs up 26 veteran marathons with 26 cadets (or first time marathoners) and together they train and run a marathon this year. I first followed the project when NYCRunningMama was selected as a coach last year. As you can tell, Saucony is the inspiration behind my blog and the maker of some of my favorite shoes! To make it even better, a local DC area coach whose blog was the first running blog I followed, Mile Posts, was selected as a coach for 26 Strong. There are so many amazing and inspiring applicants so I am trying to not get my hopes up too high – but I would be SO stoked if I won it! I met all of the criteria (having run a half marathon, no injuries, etc.) and find out on the 17th if I made it. Only 26 do…AHHH!! I often watch these Saucony ads when I need a little pre-run inspiration (it works) and thought I would share. The second video is actually Mile Post’s Saucony ad!

 

#3

Marathons have been on my mind (hello, 26 Strong Project) but so have triathlons. My dad is a triathlete and I’ve been feeling a strong tug towards more distance biking and triathlons. Right now I am very overwhelmed with the sticker shock of road and tri bikes because my hybrid bike is not going to cut it…especially if I need to keep up with my dad! My dad needs a biker buddy when he moves back here in July and I want to add biking in as cross training…so I am hoping he will help me out with a road/tri bike! Right now I am in the research phase and would love any input from triathletes on entry level tri/road bikes that won’t break the bank. The only bike I’ve test-driven so far is the Specialized Dolce. I loved it, but I am open to suggestions. Until then, I am pinching every penny so I can make this happen!

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#4

Easter is (almost) here! God is good! I am very thankful my boss gave us off for Good Friday and Monday to celebrate. It was wonderful to sleep in a little today and I am really looking forward to baking a ton, cooking Easter dinner with Max, and celebrating Easter. This is our first Easter without our parents near by (mine are in the Philippines and his as in Missouri) so we are cooking a feast for two this year! On Saturday my sister and some friends are going to a tapas lunch and watching Heaven is for Real. We lived in Spain for 4 years so Alicia and I will jump at any chance to drink sangria and eat paella! Gift giving is definitely one of my love languages and over the last 2 weeks I have made 3 Easter baskets (one of Max, one of my sister-in-law Natalie at college, and one for our friend Tim). I love making them and can’t wait for people to enjoy them. I’ll post pics after the Easter Bunny visits because I don’t want to give any secrets away!

#5

KT tape. Every heard of it? I don’t have any injuries but everyone has the occasional ache or pain. When these aches or pains flare up I love to help them out by using KT tape. Think of it as a tape brace! I use it on my hips, IT band, shin splints, knees, everything! I was first introduced to a KT-tape like product in high school when I dislocated my shoulder but needed to tape it down to play volleyball. I’ve been “stuck to it” ever since! This weekend I wrote out a message on my tape as a reminder to offer up the pain or struggle of running for those who can no longer run. We are all #BostonStrong this week!

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Winter Cross Training

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This week has seen some of the coldest weather across the U.S. in HISTORY! -30 in the Midwest, 0 in Boston, 9 in DC? And that’s before windchill! Let’s be honest, few things deter this runner than the words “arctic blast” or “frigid” and “negative X degrees” so thank you Weather Channel (below) for inspiring this blog post.

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Thankfully we have a gym and I was able to run indoors when I needed to this week…but I am happy to say that I did get a snow run in on Friday and loved every minute of it. But what if we can’t get out and run in the sub zero weather? What are our options?

1) Move it indoors.Hit up your local gym (one of the biggest pro’s of living in an apartment in DC is that we have one downstairs), join a spinning or barre class, sweat it out in hot yoga, or slip in a workout DVD. One of the coolest things about the new Xbox One is their partnership with Jillian Michaels, Tony Horton (P90X), and Shaun T (Insanity) through Xbox Fitness which gives you access to great (and usually very expensive) workouts with the click of your controller. Looks like I do like my husbands Xbox after all! So to my male readers, if you are looking for that perfect excuse to buy n Xbox One and your significant other is against it…you can use this…and you can thank me later.

2) Find an indoor pool. Check with your local YMCA, near by schools, public pools, and universities for open swim hours. Before I competed in my first (and only to date…gotta change that!) sprint triathlon I would train at the indoor swimming pool at my alma mater. It was free to me and their open swim hours started after I got off of work each night!

3) Find your missing motivation. Some days are harder than others…but the bulk of my “hard days” seem to fall in the dead of winter. It might have something to do with my warm down comforter…but dig deep and remember what’s motivating you to get moving. Print it out/write it down and stick it somewhere you can see every day.

4) Enjoy winter sports. Use the Sochi Winter Olympics to inspire you and test out one of these great winter sports. Yesterday Max and I traded in our long-run day for a day on the mountain with my mom and dad. I was so happy to get my snowboard back on the mountain and get used to the sport all over again. It’s been at least 2 years since I was last on my board! It took only one run down a green slope to remember what a workout snowboarding is on your quads! Think squatting for an entire day…

Snowboarding – burns 430 calories in an hour

Ice skating – burns 300 calories in an hour

Snow shoeing – burns 500 calories in an hour

Cross country skiing – burns 500 calories in an hour

Downhill skiing – burns 430 calories an hour

Broom ball – burns 470 calories in an hour

Sledding – burns 450 in an hour (walking up those hills!)

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But like many of you, nothing can replace the feeling of finishing a good run…even if it is 9 degrees outside and you cannot feel your legs! Runners World has a great calculator for what you should be wearing in various temperatures. I’ve used it for each of my races and they have been spot on. My general rule of thumb is add 20 degrees to whatever temperature if currently is and you should be set since you’ll warm up once you get running.

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Stay safe and warm if you do venture out into Narnia my friends! So what do you do for your winter cross training? How do you stay motivated? I’m off to try out p90x on the XBoxOne now…I’ll let you know how it goes. This is my first time doing any of the BeachBody workout videos. Yikes!