November 30, 2014

Weekly Roundup - Nov 29, Thanksgiving edition

All of a sudden the days are flying by and Christmas and the end of the year will be upon us before we know it.  This week was a flurry of activity for both of us as we prepared for a festive home cooked Thanksgiving meal and a turkey trot that morning.  My rolled ankle took a rest from exercise until Wednesday when I hit the gym for an easy workout.  Unfortunately some of life's other challenges are causing some stress, like a house that is not ready yet!  My workout list looks a bit like Christine's from last week, with just two days of actual workouts.  Luckily, my Boston training does not start for another three weeks, so a little more rest and relaxation will help me gear up for the training plan being put in place by coach Sami. By rest and relaxation, I mean move to a new home and host family Christmas.  So, a little less exercise and a little more planning will be helpful right now.
Mmm turkey! 

Time to make the gravy! 
Selfies with the puppies! 

Sunday, November 23rd
Pam: Rest day
Christine: Rest day

Monday, November 24th
Pam: Rest day
Christine: Rest day

Tuesday, November 25th
Pam: Rest day
Christine: 30 min bike, abs, stretching

Wednesday, November 26th
Pam: 25 minutes elliptical, weights
Christine: Rest day

Thursday, November 27th, Thanksgiving
Pam: Toys for Tots 5k
Christine: Toys for Tots 5k

Friday, November 28th
Pam: lots of walking and Black Friday shopping
Christine: lots of walking and Black Friday shopping

Saturday, November 29th
Pam: Rest day
Christine: Rest day

Did you get any great bargains on Black Friday?

November 26, 2014

Dear Santa, please bring me.....

There have been loads of holiday wish lists for runners posted recently and most share a common theme with items such as jewelry, compression socks, tubes of Nuun, and ear phones for your Ipod.  My wish list is a little different and here is what I'm hoping to find from the fat man in the red suit.

1.  Spirit of the Marathon 2 on DVD:  I saw this movie at the theater and love watching running movies before a big race. Set in Italy, following runners at the Rome Marathon, it is both uplifting and inspiring.  This will be perfect to watch during Boston Marathon training after one of my 20 mile long runs!


2.  Donation to Project Sole Mates: Recently, several ladies in my running group have joined forces to form a non profit called Project Sole Mates.  We are in desperate need of funding to be able to start helping area school children obtain the proper footwear to be able to participate in organized high school athletic teams and also scholarships for sports camps for those teams during the off season.

3.  Visa/Mastercard Gift Card:  Let's just say I'm going to have a little problem when I enter the doors of the Hynes Convention Center next April 17th for my first Boston Marathon expo. The excitement will be a bit out of control and the need for numerous pieces of logo merchandise will be huge.  My wallet will need reinforcements, so a Visa/MasterCard gift card will come in handy.


4.  Run to Overcome by Meb Keflezighi:   This book has been on my reading list for a long time and it will be perfect reading during my next marathon training cycle.  However, there are a few more reads on my list too.  See number 7 below!


5.  Thorlo gift pack:  New socks for runners are a perfect stocking stuffer and this little gift pack would be a nice surprise underneath my tree this year! The second pack from the top looks great and the blue pair will be perfect for my race in April! Alternatively, I would be very happy to receive a pair of the electric blue color! hint hint


6.  Brooks Running outfit:  These two pieces will be great for winter training and very attractive too if I need to stop at the store on my way home from practice or a group long run.  Plus, sitting in Starbucks post run, these clothes would be comfy too!  Best of all, if someone orders on Friday, a bonus adorable seasonal top is included free with a $100 purchase! It can be viewed here on the blog of Hungry Runner Girl.
Women's Heater Hog Half Zip in and Women's Infiniti Capri III


7. Older, Faster, Stronger, What Women Runners Can Teach Us All About Living Younger Longer by Margaret Webb:  This book looks fascinating for older runners.  The author takes a year to train and test herself against some of the worlds elite older runners.  You can read a little more about the book here.

What unusual items are on your Christmas list?  Please tell us what you hope to find under your tree on Christmas morning!

November 25, 2014

Rolling an ankle

Saturday rolled around and a group run with some of my Without Limits teammates was on my schedule.  We hit the pavement at 8:30 am and the group had an eight mile run planned.  Holly had some speed work in the middle, and Lisa joined along, but Linda kept me company for a gentle pace of  9:15-9:30.  After the speedsters were done, we met up for the final couple miles back to Starbucks.  During that time, there was much more traffic than normal, and while looking at the oncoming cars instead of pavement, I had an accident.  Not only did I land on some kind of tree nut, but I went over on my ankle, and I went over hard. It was fortunate there was no spill involved, but as Holly watched this happen to me, she then hit the same nut and did a less deadly twist of her ankle.  It was painful and I walked/limped and caught my breath for about a minute.  Then I tried to jog thinking that would help work it out.  It was no worse by slow running, and that is what I did for the mile or so back to the parking lot.  After a nice peppermint hot chocolate at Starbucks with my pals, I drove home to take care of my ankle.  First up was some ice and of course Lulu kept me company!

Yep, she needs a haircut and a bath!

 Rolling an ankle is no joke and the ligaments and tendons in your foot can become strained and inflamed.  While a visit to the doctor may make sense if you have swelling, bruising or pain, I experienced neither swelling or bruising and the pain was manageable, so I chose to treat myself with plenty of advice from Tom!

After 20 minutes of icing, I did a Google search on ankle roll.  The information I found was exactly what I expected.  RICE = rest, ice, compression, elevate. The resting part was easy after completing an 8 mile run.  Sitting in my "ma chair" with Lulu as company was the perfect way to spend the afternoon and keep the foot elevated!  I alternated icing with a bag of ice, a Dr. Cool wrap  and the Bucky for boo boo's that I received last Christmas in my stocking.  Taking Ibuprophen and icing eliminated any swelling in my foot.  The Voltaren gel which I use for arthritis on that same foot also came in handy to help ease the pain.

The last few days have been without exercise other than a short walk around the block with Lulu.  Resting the ankle/foot has really important since I am still hoping to run the Toys for Tots turkey trot on Thanksgiving with my family.  Most of all though, I want to recover so my training plan for the Boston Marathon can commence on December 20th.  Wow, I can't believe it is less than a month away!

Who has experienced an ankle roll?  Any recovery tips you can share?

November 24, 2014

Richmond Marathon Thoughts

I've had ample time to process my race experience and as I promised, wanted to share some final thoughts and other logistical info about Richmond marathon. My recap captured my mile by mile experience and I wanted to provide some other input on the race itself, because it's a good one! I really enjoyed my friend Danielle's post on the NYC marathon and am going to copy her way of breaking down her race thoughts - personal lessons and race-specific thoughts.

Thoughts on the Richmond Marathon:
- Gorgeous course with incredible crowd support. The community really gets behind this race.

- Fantastic swag! The marathoners received a long-sleeved tech shirt in gender specific-sizing (yay!!), a finisher's hat, and finisher's blanket. The blankets are so perfect for cold races...I didn't use mine since I had the blanket from the medical tent but pretty much every runner had it wrapped around them. And while not all that exciting, I really loved the door hanger that was included with each race packet. A fun and unique addition!

- The absence of medical support on course cannot be overlooked. It's not only a massive lawsuit waiting to happen but it's irresponsible and simply unacceptable. In full disclosure, I never looked for medical before I needed it but there was no one to be found on the course from miles 18ish until the finish. The finish line medical support was incredible and I appreciated the amazing blankets they had. I felt like I was wrapped in a warm cocoon!
- The expo had some great gear but most of the marathon-specific gear was sold out Friday afternoon when we arrived (around 3:45 pm). Luckily Mom picked up the pint glass I wanted. We got some fun freebies and enjoyed a few photo ops.

Personal Lessons:
- I never got "up" for this race. I was excited. I was well-trained. But I never felt the hype that I often feel for big races. I'm not exactly sure what caused this or if I was simply more excited for the race to be over and behind me rather than actually running it, but I think deep down this was a challenge for me.
- I missed having a running buddy. I got in my own head a little bit early on in the race and struggled to recover. I also think having a buddy helps keep your mind off the suffering before it's too late.
- Don't write your mantra on your hand until the morning of...purple ink on my face. Whoops!

- Based on my race morning hunger and my feelings of needing fuel early and often during the race, I think I was under-fueled going into the race. I've never consciously thought about calorie loading going into a race and I don't think I was under eating but I think this might have contributed to my crash late in the race.
- I trained hard for the hills using the incline feature on the treadmill, but they're no match for the steep up and downs on this course. I'm not sure how I would change this...other than moving to a very hilly place!
- I am unbelievably grateful that Mom just kept running with me. Even though I know she was tired and completely unprepared (because it was completely unplanned, duh!) to run 10 miles after her 8k that morning, she rocked it with me and I am forever grateful that she helped keep me going.
- Even though I still feel some disappointment and letdown about this race, I keep reminding myself that I finished something that was unbelievably hard. It sucked and it hurt but I kept going. And I proved to myself that I can finish what I started, even if plans go awry.
Rocking the medal in my Irish fisherman sweater from
another very special family race trip!
All things considered, I would definitely run one of the Richmond races again!

November 23, 2014

Weekly Roundup - November 23rd

The week after a big race is always an interesting one for me. I was very sore after Richmond and still processing my emotions about the race day that didn't exactly go according to plan. And not directly related to that is the fact that it will be a while before I start training for another race, so I've been indulging in a glorious festival of laziness. TV on the couch after work? Why not! Enjoying a delicious glass of wine while cooking dinner? You betcha! It's been fabulous. I've been able to enjoy my evenings in a way that I haven't in a long time. So really, this post serves no real purpose for me because I didn't workout once this week. Yup, and it was everything I thought it could be.

With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, I am grateful to have a little extra time for preparation. And a little time for planning for Christmas as well. Each year, the city of Norfolk hosts a grand illumination that's on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. I had never been before but Adam and I decided it would be fun this year.  We took the ferry into the city to alleviate parking challenges and that turned out to be entertainment in itself. The grand illumination starts at 7:00 with a lighting of all of the buildings in the city and then follows with a parade. And like all good holiday parades, it ends with the big man in the red suit. It was a great night and definitely put me in the holiday spirit! 

And Mom had a pretty great week of workouts while I "watched" from the sofa! 

Sunday, November 16th
Pam: Rest day

Monday, November 17th
Pam: Rest day

Tuesday, November 18th
Pam: Rest day

Wednesday, November 19th
Pam: 10 min. stationary bike, 20 min. elliptical, weights

Thursday, November 20th
Pam: WOL track workout totaling 5.25 miles

Friday, November 21st
Pam: 30 min elliptical

Saturday, November 22nd
Pam: 8 miles at 9:40 pace

How are you getting ready for the holidays this year?

November 21, 2014

Five favorite fall foods

Time for another Friday linkup with the girls of DC, Mar, Courtney and Cynthia and the topic of the day is a favorite of ours, food.

It's that time of year when the temperature changes and so do our appetites. The holidays also provide us with the incentive to try new recipes.  Here are some of my favorite things to make or serve or devour during this season of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

1.  Chex Party Mix  I have made this mix for so many years, that I do not have to pull out a recipe.  If you follow the recipe on the back of the box, you will have a delicious snack for company, football watching or to take on a road trip.

2. . Pumpkin squares: A simple to make dessert, yet a true crowd pleaser and here is the recipe in case you would like to try these!

Pumpkin Squares
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 small can (15 oz.) pumpkin
1/2 tsp

1 package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners sugar 

Cream butter and white sugar.  Then beat in brown sugar, then eggs.  Slowly add the pumpkin and remaining ingredients until blended.
Place in 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
Cool and frost.

3.  Chick fil-A Peppermint shakes  If you haven't tried these, you are missing out.  I enjoy these every week during the holiday season and have to restrict myself to just once a week.  So good!

4.   Baking special cookies:  Seasonal baking is high on my list of fun and who doesn't want to return home from a run and treat themselves once in a while.  I actually ate Christmas cookies during a long run when I was training for the Goofy Challenge two years ago!  

5.  Easy brie appetizer:  This is simple and a crowd pleaser too.  Purchase your favorite crackers and add a small slice of Brie and a small spread of this wonderful pepper jelly on top.  Use a festive holiday plate to serve and in minutes you will have a quick and easy treat for unexpected company.  

Let us know what you enjoy eating this time of you?  Any favorites?

November 19, 2014

It's time to trot with turkeys!

Did you know that Thanksgiving is the biggest race day of the year?  I just found out yesterday when this article was published in the Wall Street Journal.  Turkey trots are really popular both in Wilmington, NC where I live and in the Tidewater area of Virginia where Christine resides.  For the past four out of five years, we have participated in one of these races.  Last year, we skipped racing since Dopey Challenge training was in full force!  And if you go back five years, to Thanksgiving Day, 2011,  we toed the line for our very first race, the Onelife Fitness Derby 10k!

The shirt is from our first race, the photo from 2012 race

This year we are geared up to run the Toys for Tots turkey trot in Newport News, Virginia. This local race is offered at a nominal charge of $25 and that includes a long sleeve t shirt!  We consider this race extra special since it is the kick off for the Marines annual angel tree toy drive.  They encourage all the runners to bring a toy and we feel this is a nice way to honor Thanksgiving and the blessings that we have as a family.

Here are 10 great turkey trot race options that I found from a simple search on the internet:

1. TXU Energy Houston Turkey Trot:  This race has around 15,000 runners and offers a 5k, 10k and a kid's race.  Perfect for families with all the race distances.

2. Tampa Bay Times Turkey Trot :  Held in Clearwater, Florida a 5k wingding, 10k turkey trot, 1 mile gobbler, and Clearwater challenge (running all 3 races) are your choices.  The price is reasonable and this race is in it's 36th year.

3. Atlanta Half Marathon: Several distance races are offered including a Thanksgiving Day 5k, Mashed Potato mile race for kids, and the Gravy Gallop for the whole family.  The option of a half marathon could be great as there would be no guilt eating anything and everything at the Thanksgiving day dinner table!

4. Troy New York Turkey Trot: Held for the first 67 years ago, this turkey trot started with just 6 runners.  They now offer 4 races including a competitive 5k and 10k, and a One Mile Walk and Grade School Mile. This offers something for everyone and a perfect way to start your Thanksgiving morning.

5. 39th Annual Alexandria, VA Turkey Trot:  This 5 mile race had over 5,500 registrations last year. With a reasonable price of just $20 (cheaper for children) and an optional shirt at $10, it is a real bargain.

6. Plymouth Turkey TrotWho wouldn't like to race in Plymouth, where the first Thanksgiving took place?  A five mile race starting at 7:30 am, you will be home in plenty of time to cook and serve the Thanksgiving day feast.  You will also have a photo opportunity at Plymouth rock and the Mayflower II.

7. Mile High United Way Turkey Trot:  A four mile walk or run can start your day off right.  This is the 41st annual race and 10,000 runners are expected to be joining this fun morning at 10:00am!

8.  Dana Point Turkey Trot: This race offers a 5k, 10k and a Gobble Wobble for the kids.  In it's 37th year, this popular California race is the 6th largest turkey trot in the country.

9. 28th Annual Turkey Trot, Baton Rouge:  With a reasonable price of just $25, this one benefits the March of Dimes.  The race starts at the convention center in downtown Baton Rouge, 7:30 am for the 1 mile run/walk and 8:00am for the 5k..

10.  Capital One Bank of Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot:  Runners and walkers have the choice of a 5k walk/run or an 8k run.  This is the biggest turkey trot race in the country.  You also can choose to have a chip timed race, or not be timed at all, taking the course at ease with your friends and family members.

Are you running a turkey trot on Thanksgiving?  If so, which one?

November 18, 2014

Richmond Marathon Race Recap

On Saturday just a few minutes past noon, I crossed the finish line at the Richmond Marathon about 15-20 minutes later than planned, with Mom off to my left on the edge of the finish chute and wearing a sweatshirt that my Mom found on the side of the road around mile 19. I guess you can say my race didn't go as planned. It was the best of times (literally), it was the worst of times...and thus begins the story of my third marathon.
Ready for race day! 
Saturday morning, I headed out to the starting line around 6:45 for the 7:50 start.  I was dressed very warmly and surprisingly didn't feel cold on the 15 minute (or so) walk from the Omni to the starting area.  The 8k was starting just as we arrived and I was anxious to figure out exactly where the marathon started. We wandered around for a bit, figuring out the location of everything. I checked my bag, and then we stopped in a cafe for Adam to get some coffee and this was also a nice opportunity to get out of the cold!  Then it was a final stop in the porta potty and I was heading to my corral.
My "down on my luck" in my hobo-chic outfit!
(Oh the irony…)
I elected to move up to wave 2 as I was hoping for that precious sub-4:00 marathon time. I started at the very back of the wave, which was nice since I had tons of space around me. I also think this was a good decision as I avoided any extra time at the starting line feeling cold.
Yes I'm wearing a wool coat at the start...
Miles 0-6: The start was very anti-climatic although I loved hearing Bart Yasso's name over the loud speaker as he sent us off. The first few miles ticked off easily and I enjoyed running down Broad Street.  I was able to spot my Dad around mile 2.5 and it was fun to have some cheers. By mile 3 or so, I warmed up and took off my hoodie sweatshirt. Not knowing how I would feel, I tied it around my waist and ran with it for a few more miles. Around mile 5, it was annoying me, so I ditched it. I remember a few small hills in the beginning but it was mostly flat. We ran past stunningly gorgeous old homes - I loved this stretch of the course.
At mile 6.5 (or so), there was a huge downhill section just before we crossed the James River. I remember feeling all alone, being totally in a groove and having the strange sensation of people behind me. I looked over my left shoulder and could see a wall of people descending around me. I had gotten swept up in the 4:00 pace group. I immediately checked my Garmin and noted that I was still ahead of 4:00 pace and had started ahead of the pace group so they appeared to be banking time on the front half of the course. I debated staying with them but elected to run my own race.

Beautiful Richmond!
Photo courtesy of my Dad
There was one of the spectator "party stops" just before we crossed the river and it was INSANE!  I swear there were spectators on both sides of the road for at least 1/4 mile and their energy was contagious. I really loved the funny signs and support.

Miles 7-14: We crossed the river at around miler 7.5 or so and the remaining stretch until mile 14 was spent on mostly flat ground (with some rolling hills) winding by the river. It was peaceful and serene. I remember noticing leaves falling and hearing the thud of feet all around me. The fall foliage was magnified by the river and some beautiful homes. My only complaint about this section of the course was the crowds. I constantly felt boxed in, probably due to being with the pace group and this made the water stops difficult to navigate. I told myself over and over to stay calm and not get worked up. This mostly worked...

I fell into a very dark place during this section of the course, which was abnormal for me. Somewhere around mile 8 or 9, I got very down and started to doubt myself. A few miles later, I was able to dig myself out of this hole but I never felt "right" again, mentally speaking. It's worth noting that up until mile 12 or 13, I was still under 4:00 pace and slowly banking a few seconds against this pace every mile. And with the exception of the hills, the pace felt comfortable and at times, even a bit slow. I also noticed that I started to blow through fuel way quicker than normal during this stretch and was very conscious of how thirsty I felt. This was clearly an omen of things to come.
Adam took this gem!
Miles 15-17:  At around mile 15, I gave myself a pep talk to deal with the upcoming 3 mile incline.  I was starting to feel fatigued but I kept telling myself that if I made it to 18, I was in the home stretch from a course difficulty standpoint. Mom had told me she might try to run the bridge with me and I was eager for company. I didn't see her and made my way (slowly) across the bridge. I think the bridge itself was close to a mile long, and if it wasn't it sure felt like it! There were massive winds to deal with the entire way. My pace slowed dramatically (to 9:40 or so from around 9:05ish) and my mental game was failing me. Soon enough, I saw Adam and he ran with me for a few minutes. I told him I was hurting and my goal time was in jeopardy after seeing my pace increase so dramatically on the bridge. He told me to keep fighting (one of my mottos) and that I could do it. I'm not sure I believed him. I was just willing the wind to stop and the bridge to be over.

A little while later, Mom and Dad were on the right side of the course just over the bridge. I waved and could barely muster a smile. I told Mom I needed her and she jumped in to run with me. At this point, the plan was for her to run a few miles with me and get me to mile 19 or 20.

Miles 18-21: At around mile 18.5 or so, the unthinkable happened. I got cold. Not just cold, a kind of cold that couldn't be ignored and one that was mentally debilitating. It was a scary cold. I was already struggling to regain control of my race from a pace standpoint and this was the last straw. I don't exactly remember what I told Mom other than I was cold and scared and might need medical help. A minute or two later, she grabbed a sweatshirt that was on the side of the road, clearly discarded by another runner. I put it on and noticed it said "Old Dominion University" on it, which happens to be a University near where I live. What luck! This sweatshirt would save me! She also asked every police officer we saw if there was a medical tent. No one knew. She asked other runners. No one knew. Finally, a guy who was standing next to a police officer told us he thought there was medical a mile up the road. Mom asked if I could make it there and I nodded that I could. Away we went!

We never found any semblance of a medical tent or medical crew on the course. Luckily, I warmed up a mile after getting my (savior) sweatshirt and was able to regain a bit of control over my race. I felt pretty crappy but I kept telling myself simply to finish. Every step hurt and was truly a battle. I swear, miles 17-19 felt like they lasted for hours.

Once we hit mile 20, we were back in a beautiful residential section of town that was mostly flat. There was a split clock and I noticed that we hit mile 20 at 3:12, which was only 7 minutes over my 20 mile split estimate for my sub-4:00 attempt. Not bad, actually. This gave me a little mental boost and it was at this moment, that I decided I would still PR. I told Mom that I wanted to finish and PR and she said she would carry me if she had to. She also told me she was running in to the finish with me. I breathed a quiet sigh of relief. I needed a running partner more than I needed air at this point...or at least that's what my brain was telling me.
My new race outfit! Mom is just out of the photo to my right.
Miles 22-24: I finally found a bit of a groove during this time. I knew Dad and Adam would be waiting for us somewhere in this stretch and that was a big mental boost. They were awesome cheerleaders, offering us bananas, water, or shot bloks. Adam ran with me for a minute, offering words of encouragement and I mustered up the energy to tell him that while I wouldn't meet my goal, I was going to PR. I gave him a high five and Mom and I pressed on.

We also passed by some great spectators and a fun little area where a group had set up a bunch of Christmas blow-ups and were blasting Christmas music. "Santa Claus is coming to town" happened to be playing as we approached and Mom and I laughed about how much we love Santa!  It's crazy but it kept me going.

Miles 25-Finish: Somewhere in here, another major obstacle occurred. My right knee exploded with pain...I can think of no other way to describe it. The pain was pronounced and felt like my knee was on fire. It was like nothing I had experienced as my left knee is usually the problematic one. I kept thinking it would go away but it got worse. Eventually I found myself limping as I ran and I had to stop to walk to regain my gait and composure. The downhill to the finish was pure agony on my achy knee but I was determined to make it to the finish without stopping again. Mom told me she would see me in to make sure I got into the Medical tent but would move off to the side so I could have my own finish line moment. I got pretty teary as I told her how much I appreciated her running TEN MILES with me (after her 8k earlier in the morning), knowing full well that I would likely not be poised to cross the finish line without her. I cannot remember feeling more relief after crossing a finish line...relief that the hell of the marathon was over, relief that I could stop running, relief that even though I didn't meet my goal, I still PR'ed (by 13 minutes with final time of 4:18.01) after months of hard work.

Bart Yasso was cheering in the runners at the bottom of the hill just past the finish line. I waved as I walked by but was too tired to really talk to him. I had one thing on my mind - getting warm in the medical tent. I collected my medal and a very sweet volunteer directed me to the medical tent. I spent about 20 minutes with a warm blanket wrapped around me and ice on my knees. I took off my arm warmers, realizing they were soaking wet with sweat...and potentially a culprit for getting so cold on the bridge. Mom and I made our way out of the tent and I wanted to say hi to Bart so we got a quick photo and he gave me a big hug after I told him this was the hardest race of my life. He is so awesome!

The post-race festivities were excellent! I collected my bag from bag check and promptly stripped off my wet shirt and sweatshirt and threw on a dry shirt and jacket and Dad offered me his coat. I put on a fleece headband and was finally feeling a little warmer. I was eager to get some food at this point. The options included bagels, bananas, and pizza. I handed Adam my banana and housed a slice of cheese pizza from Papa Johns. I'm fairly confident it was the best piece of pizza I've ever had. I didn't hang around long and regrettably didn't feel like taking any finisher photos. I think it was a combination of feeling disappointed in my race and wearing an awkward oversized coat that wasn't even mine, although that would have matched the tone of my race day.

As a coworker reminded me yesterday, not all marathons will be good ones and "you aren't really a marathoner until you have that really, really hard race and prove to yourself that crossing the finish line means more than a time." I couldn't have said it better myself.  "…it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the season of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…" Let's end this race story there, shall we?

From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate the support throughout this training cycle and race day.

P.S. I'll be sharing more race-specific info in another post…this one had to capture my emotions.

November 17, 2014

The arctic freeze 8k, otherwise know as the Richmond 8k

On Saturday, with a starting temperature of around 29 degrees, I braved the weather and ran the Richmond HCA VA 8k at 7:00am.  Normally an early start time is my preference, but with the slight wind and unseasonably cold day, it was so not perfect!

Dressed in my running clothes, a heavy parka and sweat pants, I looked quite the picture as Tom and I walked the 10 blocks from our hotel to the starting line area.  This race was really well organized with a wave start and from what I could see, runners honored it.  I was in Wave 1 with an estimated finish time of under 49 minutes.

I'm not going to bore you with a mile by mile recap because frankly, there is nothing interesting to report. But here are a few thoughts from the arctic freeze race Saturday. With just minutes to go until the start, I handed off my clothing to Tom and stood there like an icicle waiting for the gun to go off.  My first instinct was to run like he** and that is sort of what I did.  The overall course for this race is situated in downtown Richmond and you pass by some cool residential areas and a few not so exciting places that included brick pavement.  This was my least favorite part of the course. However,  the last 1/8 of a mile more than made up for the brick.  It was all downhill to the finish and that was a blast. I sprinted down the hill, praying I would not face plant in front of the finish line photographers and cheering crowd.  I didn't.  And because I hauled myself down that massive hill, I ended up running a time of 42.29 with a 38 second PR!

Now for some race specifics:

The good:  Swag for the Richmond races is fantastic.  The 8k which cost me $40 (I registered late) included a gender specific shirt, a finish medal that is over 2 inches in diameter and great food and beverages post race.  It really is a steal compared to some other races we have done. If you register by a certain date, you also get your name on your race bib. Clearly I missed the cutoff!

Fun tech shirts!
The not so good:  I never saw anyone on our race course to help if there was a medical issue. Tom cheered for me at around mile 4 and just after I passed, he saw a runner pass out and fall to the ground. In fairness, it may be an oversight that I never saw any people who could give help. There were several policemen and women along the course and maybe they were qualified to give medical assistance. The only other issue I had was the water stops. They were small so it made them a bit difficult to access.  Since I was only running 5 miles, I skipped the second one knowing the finish line was just a mile away.

Overall this was a really fun race and I would highly recommend it. If you are entertaining the idea of running any of the three Richmond races associated with the Anthem Richmond Marathon, register early and save some money.  Race rates for the city hotels get booked quickly so make that reservation too when you sign up for the race.

I'm thinking about returning next year for the half marathon, They get fantastic post race swag and the course looks quite good. Do you ever return to the same race over and over? Have you run any of the Richmond races?

November 16, 2014

Weekly Roundup: November 16th

It's been a very busy week with the races in Richmond yesterday.  We both are pleased with our PR's given the very tough running conditions.  Thanksgiving day races the prior 3 out of 4 years seemed balmy compared to the wind and cold temperatures the runners endured yesterday at the Richmond trio of races. Having thawed out from our races, we are returning home today and hope the weather improves this week.....meaning warms up from the arctic freeze here in the south!

Sunday, November 9th
Pam: 6 mile long run 9:38 pace
Christine: 40 min elliptical, abs, stretching

Monday, November 10th
Pam: 30 min elliptical, weights
Christine: 35 min elliptical, stretching

Tuesday, November 11th
Pam: group practice 1 mile warm up 3.75 miles at 9:20 pace
Christine: Easy run 5 miles

Wednesday, November 12th
Pam: 10 min. stationary bike, 20 min. elliptical, weights
Christine: Elliptical and abs

Thursday, November 13th
Pam: 2 mile run 9:10 pace, 9 holes golf
Christine: 5 miles run at 9:00 pace

Friday, November 14th
Pam: Rest day
Christine: Rest day

Saturday, November 15th
Pam: Richmond 8k Pr time of 42.29
Christine: Richmond Marathon PR with finish time of  4:18.01

Hope you all had a great week.  Please leave a comment if you raced in the cold weather yesterday, or raced in warm weather (lucky you!)

November 14, 2014

5 cold weather running tips

This week, cold weather running tips is the topic for the Friday five linkup with the lovely ladies of DC, Courtney, Mar and Cynthia.  Be sure to check out their blogs too by clicking on their names!

Cold weather is not that prevalent in North Carolina, but growing up in New England, I know a cold winter.  One year, I went to school only 4 days in February, and yes, I think we were in school until fourth of July!

Any outdoor winter sport requires purchasing some great clothing to make the sport more enjoyable and fun.  Running is no different and this Saturday, we will both be put to the test of cold weather since the Richmond forecast is for starting temperatures for the Richmond races in the 20's.  Brrrrr.

Here are some of the things I find helpful when running in the cold!

1.  Unless it is raining or snowing, wear sunglasses.  Cold weather will most likely make your eyes water and glasses will help with protection.

2.  Buy well made, good quality base layers.  Long underwear can work for runners, but there are also lots of different winter tights you can purchase at a running store.  Last year, I needed to replace mine, and found that Columbia had an awesome pair that actually look like tin foil on the inside. They do a great job of holding in my body heat.

3.  Despite lack of sweat, you need to hydrate just as much during the winter months as the summer months.

4.  Keep your long run speed in check.  It is so easy to speed up when the weather is cold, but you will be much happier on your next run if you keep the appropriate tempo for all your runs during the cold winter months.

5.  Be sure to wear something reflective on your clothing and perhaps even a headlamp.  Most of us spend some time doing our runs when it is dark outside during the late fall, winter and early spring seasons.

What tips do you have for cold weather running?

November 12, 2014

Spectating Marine Corps Marathon

It was a last minute decision to head up to DC to spectate for this year's Marine Corps Marathon. I had thought about going for weeks leading up to the race but I couldn't make the logistics work in my head. I had my last 20 mile training run on tap for that weekend, needed a place for my pup to stay, and needed to find my own lodging in DC. A text message one morning at work changed all of that when Adam found us a hotel over the metro in Crystal City and secured a spot at Paddy's favorite pet hotel. To say I was grateful for him helping to work this out is an understatement, but let's get back to the spectating shall we?

It was a simply picture perfect fall weekend in DC, the kind that makes for spectacular photos and perfect racing conditions.

Race morning, Dad walked Mom over to the start so I could get a little extra rest following my long run the day before and I was grateful for that! Adam and I met Dad for some coffee and then headed over to the metro.

Mile 1 Viewing: Our first stop was in Roslyn to catch Mom around mile 1-1.5. It was a simple trip over and we were easily able to find the race course by the stream of runners and cheering fans. We spent about 15 minutes here cheering.  I spotted Colleen, Maggie, Katie, and Mom, and loved seeing all of them off on their races!

Mile 5 Viewing: Next up, we decided that we could catch Mom at the Kennedy Center around mile 10.  We took the metro over to Foggy Bottom and meandered back down to the race course. To our surprise (and excitement), we realized we would be able to see Mom around mile 5 just as the race course turned out to Rock Creek Parkway.  Again, we saw Mom but she was less smiley this time…she expressed her frustration with a crowded race course, which bummed me out a bit.

Mile 10 Viewing: Next it was time for a quick bathroom stop at a nearby convenience store and then we walked over to the stretch around the Kennedy Center.  We were here for a while before Mom arrived  so we got to see tons of runners which was awesome.  And yet again, I saw Colleen looking strong!
Does he look familiar? Bart Yasso was across the road from us cheering!

Mom looked great during this stretch and we even got a picture of her blazing by!
Orange shirt is me, green shirt is Dad and white shirt
on the course is Mom!
After seeing Mom around mile 10, we had a while before we would see her again on the Mall so we elected to walk over. It was such a gorgeous day and the fresh fall air was intoxicating. During our walk over, we decided it was time for some refueling so we munched on apple slices and peanut butter crackers. Hey, spectating is hard work and snacks were a necessity!

Mile 16 Viewing: We had a pretty amazing view at the base of the Washington Monument just as the runners turned up toward the mall. It was also a primo spot because this was the mileage where we planned to do a banana handoff for Mom. Yes, this was a high pressure event. Dad, Adam, and I each had a banana to ensure the handoff was successful and we followed Mom's instructions to pre-peel it. Little known fact about Mom is that she cannot open a banana - crazy right! By now the runner tracker was working so I was able to track Mom closely. A mile in advance, Adam was able to cross the road, which was no easy task with a constant stream of runners, and Dad and I spread out in case the first person missed Mom. I gave Adam a 2 minute warning (yes, this is like an NFL game!) and we waited. I spotted Mom before she turned the corner and since she was on Adam's side of the road, Adam was able to catch her to offer her a precious banana but she wasn't interested. We all turned and laughed about our well-orchestrated plan for nothing!  We then decided that a few other runners might want a banana and within a nanosecond of yelling "who wants a banana?", they were gone!
Runners as far as the eye could see!
Next up, mile 19! We were able to easily find a cheering spot right before the water stop before the 14th street bridge and patiently waited for Mom. And at long last, we got some really good photos of her! She seemed smiley and looked strong so I was surprised to learn after the race that she felt terrible at this spot.

Finish Line Viewing: We took the metro from the Smithsonian stop back to the finish line at Roslyn, hoping to catch Mom at the finish. It was a really long meandering walk back from metro to the Finish line area of the race course, so be warned! The crowds were thick at the end of the race course, but I was able to stake out a very small spot crouching down at the base of the final hill. When Mom came by, I would swear I was shaking my cowbell in her face but she was in the zone and never saw me.
Amazing views from the hills at the finish line!
Getting ready to cheer Mom in for the finish!
It broke my heart that Mom was disappointed in her race and so sad after she finished. After some big hugs and encouragement, she cheered up and we enjoyed the finish line festival. She called her coach and got a little more encouragement which seemed to help. Her legs were hurting her a lot and we checked out the massage line…it was really, really long so we improvised with a calf massage on the curb.

 While I know she wished her race experience had been different, we were REALLY proud of her!

For future spectators, how we metro'ed around:
- Blue Line from Crystal City to Rosslyn for mile 1-2 viewing
- Blue Line from Rosslyn to Foggy Bottom-GWU for mile 5 and mile 10 viewing
- Walked up to Washington Monument for mile 16 viewing
- Walked across mall to Smithsonion area/base of 14th street bridge for mile 19 viewing
- Metro'ed from Smithsonian to Roslyn for finish line viewing

Spectating Essentials:
- Snacks
- Water
- Coffee!
- Comfy shoes and weather-appropriate clothing
- Phone with portable charger for runner tracking and map capabilities
- Cheering "tools" like posters, balloons, bull horns, cowbells, etc.

Read Mom's Marine Corps Marathon race recap here and Marine Corps Marathon by the numbers here.

Ever spectated a marathon?  Did it inspire you?