Race Recap: The Reston Bike Club Century

Today I finally rode over 100 miles.

Today I got pushed up hills like a baby by my awesome and wicked strong rider dad.

Today I rode in my first organized ride.

Every year for the past 32 years the Reston (VA) Bike Club hosts the Reston Century and it draws 1,500 riders from all over the area. This was my dads third time riding this century and it was my first. Now that the pain is over and done with and the muscles are icing up, I can say I loved it!

RBC

They offer 3 routes:

  • Half metric (35.7 miles)
  • Metric (67.4 miles)
  • Century (103.5) — or a little longer if you miss a cue card or sign (woops)

The biggest different for my between cycling and running is trying to remember that this is an organized ride and NOT a race. That’s does not mean that we are going slow by any means…but it does mean that I need to remember that each person that comes up to me is not trying to race me (you hear that, dad?!).

To save an hour of sleep in the morning I decided to spend the night at my parents house. We had a healthy power dinner of grilled chicken, brown rice, and a lot of spinach and veggies…oh and then we split a Lindt chocolate bar (woops). We were in bed by 7:30 pm and up at 4:00 am to start getting ready. Oatmeal and eggs over toast for breakfast with 2 cups of coffee for both of us! We arrived in Reston at 6:30 am and were on the road at the starting line at 7:00 am. Looking around at all of the DC Velo and pro-team jerseys I know that I was in trouble!

Throughout the entire ride there really were few spots where we were ever on our own out on the road. The first sections were a little crowded for my liking (eg. where all 3 routes were rolling together) but then it thinned out as different routers headed in their own direction. I was pretty proud of being able to keep up with the “big boys” for the most part. Mom met us at the finish line and it was great to see here there so proud!

A few observations:

  • Cycling is a very male-dominated sport. At every rest stop I would run into 1 maybe 2 other ladies and 20+ men. Let’s change this ladies!
  • The RBC did a fabulous job of staffing and filling the rest areas. Every 15-20 miles there were marked rest stops in community centers or parking lots. Each stop had mechanics from bike stores, water, gatorade, bathrooms, racks for your bike, maps, and tons of food (PB&J, muffins, breads, trailmix, vanilla waffers, rice krispy treats, bananas, oranges, cheese-its, power bars, fig newtons).
  • RBC also did a great job keeping riders safe! There were electronic signs saying “cycling event, share the road, etc), state troopers at major intersections, SAG wagons for those who needed to quit or got hurt, and my favorite was the motor bike that took the main front group we were in through a particularly confusing area so that we knew where to go…I felt like I was on the Tour de France). Everything was very well marked!
  • RBC (again) did a great job with their post-race party. The finish shirts look great and there was a delicious spread of salads, pastas, chicken, fruits, an ice-cream truck on hand to give out ice cream treats, and a massage company there to help role you out.
  • I was so proud to see so many riders out rocking their Bike MS jerseys. I spoke with each one I saw and thanked them for their help!

What I want to improve on:

  • I want to be stronger! My poor dad had to push me up some gnarly hills (check out those peaks in the map! I am sure you can guess the 2 “hills” that were the killers). Big strong riders were stopping on hills from cramps, pulling off to the side of the road, it was bad. Dad would not let me quit and kept coming back to get me, give me a push, or (literally) push me up the hill in our granny gears. I cried on those hills…they will be scars in my mind for a while.
  • I need to eat and drink better on rides. I didn’t eat as much as my dad did on the century (my total for all of the rest stops was: 2 half PB&J sandwiches, half a bag of pretzels, half a bag of cheese-its, half a bag of trail mix, 2 orange slices, a Gatorade snow cone, and 1 banana). On the bike I had 2 gu gels when I really struggled, 4 shock blocks, and over 10 bottles of water).
  • Stop drinking gatorade. As you know, I am a HUGE Nuun fan. 2+ years of drinking Nuun as my sports drink of choice reaffirmed how sugar loaded Gatorade is. I got sick to my tummy today from it. WAY too sweet and sticky.
  • Intervals. I need to dedicate a day each week to interval training to get those muscles built.

All in all a GREAT ride, full of hills (the should re-name is the Never-Ending-Hills Century), and I am so proud of us!

IMG_4221[1]

Look at all of that food!

IMG_4222[1]

(right) How I actually felt about dad after that ride/hills/telling me it was a “flat course”/convincing me I could do this

(left) loving my pops

IMG_4223[1]

Riders enjoying the massage section and all of the great food

IMG_4220[1]

Feeling strong after completing my first century!!

Final States:

Miles – 103.5

Kilometers – 167

Time – 6:46 (5 rest stops with about 10 minutes at each stop for stretching/restrooms/filling water/eating)

Race Recap: Nike Women’s Half Marathon

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!

IMG_2483IMG_2486IMG_2489

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!

IMG_2511

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.

IMG_2523IMG_2524IMG_2525

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…

nikewomenshalf

IMG_2533

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:

IMG_2551IMG_2535IMG_2553IMG_2574

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

IMG_2608

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!

IMG_2603IMG_2579

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!!!

IMG_2582

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:

IMG_2594

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:

IMG_2607

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!

The Joy in Training

There’s one thing I love more than setting and completing race goals that I set for myself…and that’s helping people I love set and achieve theirs!

Last fall several of my friends signed up to run the Marine Corps 10k in support of our girl Amanda. We all live in different parts of the country, so physically training together was not a possibility for most of us. But Beth lived just down the road from me…and this was her first 10k! We had run the Color Run together the previous fall and she set her sights on the Marine Corps 10k as her longest race to date and I could not have been more proud. I loved creating a running plan for her for the next 2 months, and loved joining her on weekly runs, and wish I could have done even more.
 I created a plan for her that was based off of the Couch to 5K program…but accelerated! Each week we upped her millage until we were at the 6.2 miles she would need for race day and used Jeff Galloway’s Run-Walk-Run method to make she she would feel confident and rested. The plan worked well and I was proud to cross the finish line alongside Beth and know that running is in her future! Sharing in friends running goals and watching them become stronger (stronger than me, certainly!) brings me as much joy as crossing the finish line. I think it goes back to my love for making new friends on the race course…I’m just a people person!
IMG_2573
 I’ve talked about my dad on this blog before as a source of my inspiration. He’s over 50 (I won’t reveal his age so he won’t kill me!) and is a sponsored cyclist and triathlete. He’s crazy! He can still solidly kick my butt at any sprint tri or race…even on my best day! As far back as I could remember, my dad used to put me on my bike with training wheels and have me ride along while he would do his evening runs after work. Sometimes this would mean him sprinting after me down a hill since I couldn’t find my brakes (good thing I am a military brat and we lived on safe bases!). For part of high school we lived in Hong Kong which is incredibly hilly. My dad started competing in triathlons in Hong Kong because of the great weather and proximity to beaches. I would wake up with him on Saturday mornings to help him work on his running as he competed in 10 and 15k races and wanted to better his running for triathlons. I ran track in high school, but I would get on my bike and bike along side him for 10+ miles and loved it.
424267_342740675767533_157158227659113_943538_442595617_n
This is dad competing in a Olympic distance triathlon several months ago in the Philippines. He’s sponsored by a local bike store called Bike King and Pocari Sweat (a really yummy sports drink in Asia). I’m a proud daughter!
Today, I had the opportunity to help my husband train. Although I have competed in more races than he has, he is still a MUCH faster runner than I am. He has his eyes set on a marathon this year (we still have to pick one!) and is working on building up his endurance. He’s competed in half-marathons and runs 4+ miles daily, so he is in good change to up his mileage. Today’s goal was 10+ miles and I wanted to help…but would not be able to keep up with his pace. Instead, I mapped out a course for us that would take us ALL over DC.
  He rarely runs with a water bottle and relies on race course support for long distances races (yeah, he is crazy). So today I biked with his keys and ID’s, water bottles filled with Nuun Hydration he needed, and energy snacks. We ended up running 11! It reminded me of biking with my dad and helping him train as a kid! Max is really good at pacing himself, but said that he liked having me there to clear out a path (urghhhhh tourists) and to have someone to chase the entire way.
 I used MapMyRun to plan out our course (we strayed a little from this, my extra turns and non-bike friendly paths bad it a little longer). Here’s a rough estimate:
10 miler
Here are some photos from today:
image (22)
image (21)
image (20)image (19)
image (18)
We aren’t the biggest fans of “group running” but here are a few of my tips on encouraging your friends and family/helping someone train:
1) Start slow – I am a big fan of Jeff Galloway’s Run-Walk-Run method and swear by it. It’s an easy way to get people into running when they know they don’t have to run a 6 minute mile and that breaks are allowed. There’s no shame in walking when you need it!
2) Plan it out – make a plan and help them stick to it. Print it out, tape it up, check off the runs your complete and make-up the ones you miss. Accountability is key.
3) Run with them – don’t just cheer on the sideline…lace up those shoes and hit the trail with them. Or if they are faster than you but need the encouragement…bike along!
4) Celebrate the mile stones – take a picture, post it online, grab a smoothie, make a toast with Nuun! Enjoy the moment and celebrate each milestone. Max and I celebrate big runs/races with Chipotle. We rarely eat at Chipotle but running double digit miles certainly allows you to do that guilt free! In fact, I just finished a burrito bowl and he just finished a burrito!
5) Offer guidance – I get a lot of e-mails from friends, family, and readers about what shoes to buy or races to sign up for. I love it! I’m a running geek that spends my free time reading shoe reviews and the “next big things” in running. I love getting to share that with people (especially new runners). If you’re knowledgeable share it…and if you are not…offer up the opportunity to do a little research.
6) Humble yourself – I am a slow runner and I am far from perfect…chances are you are too! She your struggles and running short falls with those you train with. They can make you stronger, might have solutions for you, and can help new runners feel less overwhelmed or “slow”.
7) Avoid competition – It’s easy to turn a partner run into a race…but try and avoid it. Max and I love the Seahawks mantra of “always compete” but we also need to remember that we are not always racing each other even though we are signed up for the same race or running the same daily route. Gosh that would be an unhealthy marriage! There are some races I would be better at (probably sprint tri’s) and plenty of races he would be better at (all of our running races this far, haha). Instead of competing, encourage each other…that’s the beauty of running…you only have to compete against yourself.
So share with me now! how do you help your friends and family train for races? Do you have a running partner?

“The Bug” – Dear Diary #4

Have you ever get bitten by the race bug? I’ve been bit…and now I need to cure it! Yesterday I saw a friend write up a Facebook status about joining a triathlon and I thought to myself “I want in!!” 😀 but refrained. Most of the restraint came form the face that USTA memberships are basically required for triathlons and are so expensive (and mins expired).  I’ve got a big 10k coming up in October that is very important to me, but I need something in between. Perhaps an August race? Perhaps a September race? I need something!

It’s been over a month since my last race. I ran a great 5k late-may (finished between 25-30 minutes) and a horrible 5k on Cinco de Mayo (it took me over 45 minutes to finish…I stopped counting). It was my first race back post-ankle fracture and I rolled my ankle over a speed bump. I cried my way to the finish line and my husband and mother-in-law helped me feel better. But that’s the past!

I like to run…but I LOVE to race. People used to think I was crazy because I’d go run these races without any training and not die. However, I’ve never medaled in a distance race – I did all the time in track for sprinting – but I have yet to medal in any of the local 5k’s I enter. Usually the Boston-Marathon-Jacket-Wearing-Ladies and the Iron-Man-Tattoo-Clad-Women happen to be in my age group and BOOM there goes any shot. I’m in a competitive age group and I know I have a long ways to go before I medal. But I also know that I will get there! I want to win a medal one day that’s not a finisher’s medal (not that finishing is not a huge achievement).

I always find it funny how right before a race you’re a little nervous…you might even be re-thinking the race…you might be a little scared…you might want to quit BUT as soon as you finish you are ready to sign up for another!! Let’s so it again!!

So ladies and gents, I have been bit by the racing bug and need to find a fun 5k in the next month to run! Max and I really like a running group based out of Rehoboth, DE (where his parents live – I know we are veryyyy lucky because we get to visit them and they live by the water!). The group is called Seashore Striders and they have races every week or two, give great tech-shirts out to participants, use timing chips, and have medals for the top 3 men and women. The best was the huff-and-puff for your pumpkin pie 5k the morning of Thanksgiving. The weather was cool but the leaves were beautiful and Mr. Husband won the 3rd place men’s medal! I was pretty jealous…so I walked around in it while we grabbed our post-race Starbucks coffee and like to pretend that it was mine. I was pretty proud of him! He’s pretty fast! He’s my cheerleader, my biggest motivator, and my inspiration. While we were in college he drastically changed his diet and fell in love with running to loose over 100 lbs! Racing together is one of the coolest things — I love it! We don’t run together because…well…I cannot keep up with him. But we race together and start together and it is always nice to have some there cheering for you when you cross the finish line. It’s nice to have the same hobby because he understands that I would rather get a box of Nuun as a gift instead of flowers and he knows that a great adventure out can include getting new running shoes!

463748_10151283118377240_674686222_o

 

That’s time with his shiny medal in the freezing cold 😀

Untitledand that’s us before the race 😀

So what will it be? The SPCA race for the puppies 5k? The Labor Day 5k? Who knows! I need one! Ready—-set—–go!

Keep finding your strong,

Laura