Race Recap: The Reston Bike Club Century

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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!

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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!

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Look at all of that food!

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(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

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Riders enjoying the massage section and all of the great food

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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)

Lessons from a Newbie Cyclist

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I am SO excited to share some exciting news with my blogger friends: my cycling dreams are coming true!! Two weeks ago I got a Cervelo R3 and basically cannot stop staring at it. I am in love! This is my first “real” road bike and I can’t wait to see how I grow as both a cycling and a runner because of it.

So here’s the R3 (name pending…open to suggestions!)…

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We took her out on her inaugural ride that weekend and it was great. I met my dad at 7:30 AM at his house and we applied tons of sun screen, checked our bikes, and headed to the trail. My parents live near a long stretch of great riding called the Washington and Old Dominion trail and we headed out for a 70k (44 mile) journey.

I’ve done portions of this ride before with my dad on my hybrid bike but never this far. We passed Falls Church, Vienna, Fairfax, Reston, Herndon, and Ashburn before we turned around. I don’t drive that far out – let alone bike it! Once we hit our turn around mark I started to hit the wall. I struggled to keep up with my dad and we climbed over little rolling hills and, as he put it, I was in survival mode. My goal was just to get to our final destination. There was no more passing people or channeling my inner Tour De France.

Just when I thought I could not make it any further we stopped in at the Green Lizard Bike Shop/Café in Herndon and grabbed a cup of coffee. It’s a neat bike shop with a coffee bar right off the trail. The coffee hit the spot and I was back to riding with some energy again – woohoo! Dad took a look at my full package of Shot Blocks and two bottles of Nuun and pointed out that I needed to be eating those more and that I should be finished with my Nuun by now…and I had only finished ½ a bottle at that point. Fueling for a 3+ hour ride is something I need to learn more about! Thankfully my dad is as big of a Nuun fan as I am.

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When we got home dad made us poached eggs and toast for breakfast and we watched the Tour de France (of course) before tuning up our bikes. I’ve watched the Tour with my dad since I was 8 years old and he really got into cycling a few years ahead of the Lance Armstrong wave in America. It was only fitting that I got my first road bike on the first day of the Tour!

The following weekend (last Sunday) we did another 70k starting out in Herndon and riding to the end of the W&OD! My old man is kicking my butt…but I am keeping up with him! Long story short, my butt hurts from hours in the saddle, my shoulders are sore from holding myself up (and tennis), and my kit was stinky and covered in sweat to wash…but I loved every minute of it! Thanks dad!

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No, I did not ride in that shirt, I have a jersey and bib to match the bike of course!

Now I’m no cycling pro…but I did grow up with a dad who is one! My real cycling adventure has just begun and I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned along the way:

PICKING A BIKE

Take your time. I took 2 months of bike shopping, online reviewing, and test riding bikes with a very patient husband before I finally picked my bike. It takes time and a lot of patience…but you need to know what’s out there.

Watch the market. If I would have bought my bike 2 months prior to when I bought it (the first day of the Tour de France!) I would have paid an additional $700. Summer usually means sales! Watch out for holiday sales or dates when new models are being pushed out. The next model of the Cervelo R3 is being released so the current R3 was marked down. Same great bike and huge savings.

Get professionally fit. After buying the bike, we spent an hour on a roller and table with a fit expert who got everything set and ready to go from adding arch support into my bike shoes to tightening every screw. Nothing is more awkward than having to watch yourself riding a bike in slow-mo on a big screen TV…but it makes all the difference! If you buy your bike from a high-quality bike store like FreshBikes, your fitting should be free.

LEARNING TO RIDE

Yes, I already know how to ride a bike and have been riding daily for quite some time…but not on a road bike! I quickly got the hang of the areo position, clip in pedals, and razor thing tires, but I still have a lot of learning to do.

Find a mentor. Latch onto a seasoned rider who can take you through the in’s and out’s of riding. Luckily, my dad is my mentor and he just moved back to the US meaning we can ride together every Sunday morning. As my mentor (he calls me Weed Hopper, haha) he’s teaching me how to properly shift, change a flat tire in minutes, properly clean and care for my bike, how to fuel, and know the different between the good gear and the bad. Oh and he is there to yell at me when I walk on his hard wood floors with my bike shoes as well!

Build your strength. Now I am not just talking about building up your strength and time in the saddle…but muscles you might need to strengthen now that you’re biking. As a runner my legs are pretty strong. I hated those “thunder thighs” in high school, but they power me though my runs and rides, and now I love them! Want to know what’s not strong? My shoulders and my core! Immediately after my first long ride I turned to my dad and said, “I really need to look up some shoulder gym moves and do a whole heck of a lot more sit ups!”

Pick a ride. Just like with running, riders should find a race, tri, or ride to sign up for to help them train. Knowing that my dad and I want to ride a century (100 miles) at the end of August will help me wake up early and ride in this summer hear because I have something I am working towards.

Invest in good gear. The first thing my dad told me when I told him I wanted to start cycling was “well if you’re going to ride with me you can’t look like a fool out there.” What he meant was that I can’t be out there in running shorts and a baggy t-shirt…I needed to be aerodynamic. Your butt will thank you for a solid bib or pair of biking shorts and your speed will thank you for the tight fitting jersey with handy-dandy pockets in the back. Luckily my dad has a closet (really…) of bike gear that I get to inherit when he’s done with a piece. He also has 3+ of everything so I got his gloves, UV sun sleeves, helmet, skull cap, etc.

Learn to draft. Every watch professional cyclist riding wheel to wheel? There’s a science behind that and this weekend I have conquered my fears and am learning how to ride right up against my dad’s front tire. Heading into a powerful head wind? Well tuck in behind your dad and BOOM let him pull you. As we ride I started a little mantra of repeating “just let daddy pull you, just let daddy pull you” which we ride so that I don’t give up or get too far behind him. So I now know how close I should be and where I should be looking ahead. Next up: figuring out how to do it continuously and use it to my advantage.

Cross train. I love that running further and stronger will help my biking and that biking further and stronger will help my running. They are complimentary!

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Happy riding! Do you have and tips for this beginner cyclist? Share them in the comments below!

Guest Post: Transformation Thursday and Hypothyroidism

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Welcome to Finding My Strong Blog’s first ever guest series. Over the course of the next 4 weeks I will be adding two guest posts from a wonderful writer who not only happens to be my best friend, but happens to be finding her own strong this year. Her journey through cancer, weight loss, and Hypothyroidism is one you won’t want to miss! Christy is a professional counselor and Mobile Crisis Team Specialist living in Annapolis, MD. Between lifeguarding for six years and subsequently responding to crisis situations with local police, Christy has learned to handle adversity, keep her cool, and how to make a plan of action. Christy is a strong believer in gaining support and learning from others and hopes to pass on some of what she has learned along the way. Christy’s journey to finding her strong is ongoing and you can follow Christy on Twitter: @beachnative27, on Instagram: beachnative27, and even on Snapchat for motivational gym snaps: (you may have guessed it…) beachnative27. Now join me as we learn more about to to build strong and healthy bodies through Christy’s inspiring journey.

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Hypothyroidism… Heard of it? I hadn’t heard of this endocrinological condition until I was 19 and had to face what it meant in regards to my life. Basically it is a condition where your thyroid gland is slow and doesn’t produce enough of the thyroid hormone. The major issue here is that an underactive thyroid upsets the normal balance of your body’s chemical reactions and the more severe your thyroid impairment is, the more severe your symptoms are. Now the thyroid can have issues with being too fast or too slow and the graphic below covers the symptoms on either side of the spectrum… this post however, will focus on my experience of hypothyroidism.

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Hypothyroidism officially came into my life when I was 19, but it was actually wreaking havoc for years prior to my diagnosis. My slow thyroid is the culprit of mood fluctuations that I experienced as a child and as a teen. I would slip into severe depressions every couple of years, but did not know at the time that it was abnormal. These depressions included irritability, chronic fatigue, an immense lack of motivation for day-to-day activities, self-loathing, and thoughts of killing myself when things got bad enough. I grew up in an active and social family family and I am no exception. I have a wonderful family and a multitude of friends whom I did not want to alarm, so I learned to hide my depressions when they struck by gluing a smile to my face and excelling in school, sports, and in life.

The game changed when my family moved across the country from San Diego, CA to Annapolis, MD and my depression hit hard. Suddenly I had to finish high school away from all my friends and I was angry. I stopped playing sports to take more AP classes and I got a job at the local movie theater to take up time on my lonely weekends. … The weight started to pile on. I was no longer running around all the time and burning enough calories to compensate for my increased emotional eating. I’d never been skinny, but I’d also never been fat… then suddenly I was 193lbs at 17 years old. At 5’8” I still wasn’t fat, but I was no longer my healthy self. Then the depression hit harder and I proceeded to cope by eating. My happy façade fooled people enough that I had plenty of friends and no one gave me a hard time for putting on weight, but by the time I graduated high school I weighed 227lbs. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that it was suggested that I get a thyroid test… a very easy blood test. Sure enough my results came back positive. I had some facts to face. The first and foremost is that I now take a pill called Synthroid every day to provide my body with the extra thyroid hormone that my thyroid gland cannot produce. I will have to continue taking Synthroid for the rest of my life to stave off the worst of my symptoms.

So what now? I was a college sophomore and I was hovering somewhere in the 230-240lbs range, taking a pill every day and miserable. Suddenly the majority of my mood symptoms vanished, but I was left to contend with my struggle to lose weight. I say struggle because having hypothyroidism makes losing weight approximately 4x harder than the average person (a fact provided by my primary care physician). For the typical person it is a matter of calories in vs calories burned, not for those with hypothyroidism. You have to work even harder to get your metabolism up to speed… because as you may have guessed by now, a slow thyroid means a glacially slow metabolism.

My goal is to be healthy and to be strong so I made a commitment to myself when I was 19 that I was going to turn things around. I got involved with my university’s lacrosse team (Go Saints!), I began taking part in group activities, I swam every day in the summer and I did lose weight. But then I’d gain it back if I slipped in my diet, even just a little. I learned then that this will be a struggle I battle every day, for the rest of my life. I had to find the fight within me.

At 22 I went off to grad school and my weight was an even bigger struggle because insane time constraints can make the poor health choices easier to make. At 24 I recommitted to myself and started running. I may not have been very fast and the weight may not have fallen much, but I dropped 2 pant sizes in a month.

At 25 I graduated with my master’s degree and my graduation present to myself was to join the 24 Hour Fitness gym here in Annapolis. I took control of my typical excuses by finding a gym that is close to home, is open 24/7, and it has a pool. I sweetened the pot when I decided to start working out with a personal trainer. He’s expensive, but he’s worth every penny. I began working with him about five months ago and I am still working to dip below the 200lbs line, but I have dropped 7% of my body fat and I have lost inches all over my body. My commitment to myself and working with a professional trainer has gotten me onto the right track to become healthy and reach my goal of getting the heck out of the 200s. It’s a struggle every day, but I have achieved so much more than I ever would have imagined when I was that hopeless, heavy 18 year old. I had to find my inner fighter and tell myself that just because I am faced with some extra hurdles does not mean that I cannot overcome them. I ran from the girl I was and hid in the food I ate. Now I run for the woman I want to be and I work out to make sure that she is as strong as she deserves to be.

A little trip down memory lane…

When I was young and then at my heaviest:

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Taking my life back:

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A couple fitness tips for people with hypothyroidism:

  • Commit to yourself and appreciate who you are
  • Develop a fitness routine that you can stick with and set realistic goals
  • Eat healthy meals 3x/day with two snacks in between (eating approximately every 3hrs will help kick start your metabolism)
  • Keep carbs to earlier in the day
  • Stay hydrated
  • Get others involved in your goals (your doctor, trainers, work out buddies, and moral support in general can be a big help)
  • Do your research to better understand your diagnosis and how to work with it

For those of you struggling with hypothyroidism or any other chronic health condition: do not give up on yourself… not ever. Weight loss is a challenge, but with the right support you can do it in a healthy and safe way. It is important not to compare your progress to those around you because your body chemistry is different and it is painful to watch sedentary friends lose weight while you consistently kick your own butt in the gym … at least it sure is for me. There are plenty of books and accounts out there for you to check out about hypothyroidism, remember that your experience will be unique to you as mine has been to me. I wish you all the best of luck in your fitness endeavors.

Laura’s Note: I am so incredibly proud of Chrity’s transformation. She’s a beautiful person inside and out — and a HUGE inspiration to me! I am also proud to announce that Christy has officially signed up for her first half-marathon this Fall. Join Christy and I (and Maxwell!) as we run the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon on October 5th and let us know more about how YOU are finding your strong.

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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!

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!

Biking with my dad

#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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Last Race of 2013 and a #RaceRagz Giveaway!

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Winter running can be a bit of the pain in the butt for me. Does anyone else out there feel that way? First, winter races (of any distance) are few and hard to come by. This makes goal-setting a little difficult for me since those races are a great source of motivation for me. Second, it’s really stinking cold most days! How do you get over that slump?!

The weekend after Thanksgiving, Max and I ran the Huff And Puff For Your Pumpkin Pie 5k and it was our last race for the year. This is the second year we have run this race and have love it every time. They DOUBLED in size this year and eve offered a packet pick up day! It’s put together by one of my favorite running groups – Seashore Striders. They are very professional, chip time all of their races, have great course support, and give out medals to the top finishers in all of their races. They make every race fun!

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Max was the true rock-star of this race. Let me brag about my husband for a minute because he is one of my biggest inspirations in my running journey. He finished in 22:23.8 and finished 4th in his age group (20-24). he shaved over a minute off of his time from last year and would have had an even fast time had he not started in the back of the pack with me! There’s always next time 🙂 bring home the gold! The best part about running races with Max (he finishes WAY ahead of me) is that he gets to see how much he has improved. The man behind him took 1st place for the masters category and found Max after the race to let him know that he tried to keep up with him to pace him the entire race and that he had great running form. The man is a veteran multi-marathoner and knew his stuff so his comments were greatly appreciated. Max went through quite the weight loss transformation while we were in college and has become a very talented running – and it makes me so proud to see him excel!

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My goal was to finish in 30 minutes and I did! I always say that I am a proud slow runner, but I always tell Max that I feel like racing gives me an opportunity to help other runners. At the back half of the pack you don’t get the runners who are breezing along at a 7 min/mile pace. You run the run-walk-run gang busting it out with bigger hearts than lions!

I stuck to my 2:1 run-walk-run ration and knew where that will put me and that I would finish strong and not dying (or injured). For the first mile a high schooler and I kept pacing each other (that awkward continual passing) so I finally turned to her at the 1 mile marker and asked if she waned to run together. She was on board with the Run-Walk-Run method as her parents were using the same method to train for their Disney marathon. They were closer to a 5:1 ration! We talked the whole way, realized we both lived in DC and were visiting family for the weekend, and she told me all about here injury-filled cross country season this year. Just as we passed the mile 2 marker, we caught up with young girl who was home for college. She had stopped and was hunched over with a stitch. After stopping to check on her,  I asked if she wanted to run with us and told her we were doing a 2:1 moderately slow pace and that there was less than a mile left. She was happy to have people to run with and we encouraged her along the way (side stitches suck!). We saw the clock ticking at the 30 minute mark and sprinted across the finish line together where Max was waiting with his camera!

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Race Ragz was kind enough to hook me up with my own customized shirt for for my final race of 2013 – and now it is your turn to win your own! It’s easy-peasy and you can pick a shirt form their pre-made collection or build your own.  I built my own using their customization tool and added some of their pre-made designs. The entire process took about 5 minutes and my shirt was in my mailbox a week later!

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So how do you win one of your own? EASY! Leave your first name and twitter handle (or a username of your choice) a in a comment below! I will be entering the names into a generator on NEW YEARS DAY and will notify the winner on this blog, twitter, and through their comment – so keep an eye out! BE SURE TO CHECK THE “notify me of new comments/replies” BUTTON SO THAT YOU CAN BE NOTIFIED IF YOU WIN!

Run-Walk-Run

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I love reading comments and e-mails from fellow runners. Really – you guys make my day! The question I am most frequently asked my family, friends, and new runners is:

How do you run 13.1 miles?

Plain and simple: I do not.

WHAT?! I repeat…I do NOT run 13.1 miles consistently. I am a big fan of Jeff Galloway’s run-walk-run method and have stuck by it for years. I feel better, my splits are better, and I run injury free when I use this method and most of all – I can finish a half marathon!

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Many of the “Couch to 5K” programs are based off of this method and many marathon training program follow the method as well. It’s not “new” to the world of running by any stretch of the imagination, but it is gaining popularity with new runners.

Straight from the mouth of the man (Jeff Galloway) himself:

“The continuous use of the running muscles will produce fatigue, aches and pains much more quickly. If you insert a walk break before running muscles start to fatigue, the muscle can recover quickly — increasing your capacity for exercise while reducing the chance of next-day soreness.

The run-walk-run “method” involves having a strategy. By using the right segments of running and walking, for the individual, it’s possible to manage fatigue. At the end of a marathon the muscles will be tired, but correct use of walk breaks from the beginning will mean little or no slowdown during the last six miles. This is the portion of the race where most runners slow down dramatically and walk a lot.

Beginners will alternate very short run segments with short walks. Even elite runners find that walk breaks on long runs allow them to recover faster. There is no need to reach the end of a run, feeling exhausted — if you insert enough walk breaks, for you, on that day.”

Pro’s:

  • You can easily increase your millage from 1 to 3 miles to 6 to 10 miles by giving yourself those short walk breaks. Those walk breaks help you slow your breathing and rest your muscles.
  • Because of the rest you will be less sore the following day (always a plus!).
  • The walk breaks make the running less difficult on your body (knees, hips, ankles, etc.)
  • The calorie count for 90 minutes of running and 90 minutes of the run-walk-run strategy are the (basically) same.
  • You can constantly transition between different run:walk paces and can eventually phase it out if you become comfortable running longer distances without the break.

Con:

  • The stigma. Sometimes I don’t feel like “a real runner” when I need to take a 30 second walk break 2 minutes into a run. That’s mental! One day I hope to easily run 13.1 without stopping, but that’s not for me.

photo (13)Above is photo of one of the first times I really “tested” the Run-Walk-Run method. I used the 2:1 for a 12 minutes mile goal to make sure I would be able to sustain it for me half marathon. I was happy to come in under 12 min/miles for my first two mile splints (pictured above). The biggest “pro” for me is the decreased strain on my very-tight IT band. I would need to stop and stretch with runs anyway – but the RWR method allows me to run and instead of needed to stretch every big…simply walk it out for a minute! My IT band relaxes and it allows me to run pain free for the next 2 minutes…then repeat.

So you use the run-walk-run method? What are your thoughts? What pace to you use? Share them!