Cherry Blossom Ten Miler

Why hello!  Its been a while.  This whole law school thing totally got in the way of everything.  Oh wait, I am the one who signed myself up for it, I guess I can’t complain about that.

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Well, to say its been getting in the way of everything would be an overstatement.  In fact, I have been running more than ever these past few months, training for my first ever 10 miler race and going for a long-sought after half marathon PR.  I’ll get to the half marathon soon, but first up – in April I ran the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler!

When I entered the lottery back in the fall, I had one goal: finish in 75 minutes – 7:30 min/mile pace.  I new I could do it, so long as I had good base training and put in some solid speed work.  Oh yeah, the other goal was to have fun.  When I signed up I also signed up for the free (yes free!) virtual training plan put out by New Balance and =PR= Running Stores.  I wasn’t sure how well I would end up following it, or if I would like it, but I figured it would be worth a shot.

Training plan verdict?!  That plan was AWESOME and I would totally do it again!  It had 1-2 rest days built in per week (I usually took about one rest day), and had 2 speed workouts or one speed and one hill repeat workout per week.  With law school this meant a lot of early morning tempo and track workouts, and with winter this meant a lot of treadmill miles.

Not really sure about my 5am tempo run.

Not really sure about my 5am tempo run.

Snow + Ice = Lots of track workouts on a TM.

Snow + Ice = Lots of track workouts on a TM.

Plus it had long runs on the weekend with pace miles built in.  I was nervous when I started, but figured – why not let it all hang out.  As my training went along and I hit record weekly mileages (for me) of 48 miles and hit over 200 miles in March alone (say what?!) I started readjusting my goals and started wondering if I could kick that 75 minute goal in the face.

So, I went in with three goals.
“C” Goal: Finish and have fun (this should be the goal for EVERY race b/c the stars don’t always align)
“B” Goal: Sub-75 min
“A” Goal (aka “all the stars in the world align” goal): Sub-70 min

Holla what?!  Sub 70 minutes?  Yes, yes that is a 7 minute/mile pace.  The only time I had ever done that was in a 5k – 7 miles short of a 10 miler. So I had lots of doubts, but also knew I would be happy with anything between a 70 and 75 – because seriously, 3 years ago I would’ve never dreamed that I would run 10 miles at a 7:30 pace.

Race morning came, and I was prepared as I could ever be.  I met up with Kelley and her fiancee at the start.  Kelley and I hit the bathrooms and then went on a warmup jog before hopping into our respective corrals.  I made my way to the front of mine (the second corral) b/c I knew my “A” goal time would’ve put me in the first corral had I known where I was going to be back in November.  At 7:30 the race started, and at 7:33 my corral was off!

My plan was to start out around a 7:10 pace for the first mile or two, settle into a 7:00 pace and then drop from there around the 7 mile mark if I felt good.  Well, no matter how hard I tried 7:10 felt way too slow based on my pace miles going in (all 6:50-7:00 miles) and I couldn’t keep myself there.

Mile 1 – 6:58
Mile 2 – 6:55
Mile 3 – 6:57

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I felt good at mile 3 and so I decided to just keep with the pace.  I saw my friends Krissy & Tim around the mile 4 marker which was a fun surprise, and just kept on truckin’ along.  I took water from every station but the first, never walking but running through and getting whatever small amount of water into my system that I could.

Mile 4 – 6:51
Mile 5 – 6:55
Mile 6 – 6:56

At Mile 6 I took my Salted Caramel Gu and saw Emily with the best law-related sign ever:

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She was a happy sight for me to see!  And then we were running down Haines Point (the most boring part of the race) and I just kept truckin’ – and saw Coach T at mile 8.5!

Mile 7 – 6:57
Mile 8 – 6:55
Mile 9 – 6:56

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Running amongst the cherry blossoms!

And then came the only hill in the whole damn race.  Right at the end, and my body wasn’t ready for it…

Mile 10 – 7:07

And because I can’t run perfect tangents or because the GPS dropped at some point, I had an extra .08, but that is irrelevant b/c I crossed the finishline in 1:09:59.  Yes, 1 second under 70 minutes.

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All smiles into the finish.

I was all smiles and ecstatic.  I ACTUALLY DID IT.  I knew I had the ability to, but I didn’t know if it would actually happen.  I mean, my stomach has notoriously knocked me on my ass over the years, so who knew what to expect.

Kelley and I were all smiles at the end of the race, as we both had great races.  It was so much fun to do a race w/ a friend I had been running with, and who is one of my #runfamily members.  I met Kelley when we both lived in Santa Cruz through SCE once or twice, but only really got to know her since moving to DC. She has seriously become such a great friend, an inspiration and a very important member of my #runfamily since moving out here.  I was so lucky to train with her speedy self and to celebrate after.

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After we recovered for a bit, we headed to the metro and then to a small diner in Arlington for a delicious brunch w/ her fiancee, who is the best spectathlete out there!

It was a PERFECT day, that’s for sure.

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Run Your Heart Out 5k

I’ve been doing an insane amount of running these past few weeks, and its been showing – in terms of mileage (39 mileage week three weeks ago and another one last week) and in terms of pace and strength.  Definitely feeling the best that I have in terms of health wise body and mind in a very long time.  And as a result of all this running fun, I signed up for PRR’s Run Your Heart Out 5k Sunday, February 9.

Going into the race, I knew I wanted to push myself to see where my fitness was at, to get a good evaluation of my speed and strength as I began week three of theCherry Blossom Ten Miler training program I am doing with CUCB, New Balance & PRR (Its a free virtual training program they offered to all participating runners).  Other than that I had no goals, other than to try to be somewhere around 21:15 (my PR).

Race morning came, and I hopped in the car with my friends from PRR, Ashley, Amanda and Dustin, and headed out to Reston, VA.  It was COLD out, but we grabbed our bibs, hit the INDOOR bathrooms and hung out til race time.  We also saw a few of our other fellow PRR friends there as well (shoutout to Lauren & Becki!).

At 9:01 it was go time and we were off.

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The race starts on the track, and then heads down a huge hill into the woods, where the course winds and turns and goes on lots of little ups and downs before returning the to the huge hill we went down which we had to CLIMB just about a 1/4 mile from the finish.  That hill was HORRIBLE.  It caused me to slow down significantly and to almost lose my breakfast at the top.  And then I felt awful as I had to run into the finish.

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Evidence of Feeling Awful…And Cold.

Then the course finished on the track, and I felt and finished strong – surprised to see the time of 21:07 on the clock, which meant a shiny new PR!

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All in all I was happy with my performance.  I also know that but for the hill at the end, I would’ve likely broken 21:00, which would’ve been amazing and has been my goal for a long time.  Additionally, I learned that in the case of the 5k, I can’t look at my watch.  I looked 1 or 2 times just to see mileage, but I never once looked at my pace and just kept running hard and trying to pick off the person in front of me (which I did quite more often than being passed), and it worked!  I was able to shave 8 seconds off my PR – and am seeing that 20:xx goal come within reach!

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Lauren, Me and Ashley post race

A nice surprise was also placing 2nd in my AG – something I never expected to happen since the PRR races generally have an extremely fast field (hello, the girl who won it ran it in 16 and some change), but it was a nice way to round out a PR race for me!

Next up?  I’m looking for another 5k in about a month or so — hopefully something without the hill of death at the end to make that 20:xx a little easier.  And then I’m training, as mentioned before, for the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler.  My goal for that is to run a consistent race, and hopefully at my 10k PR pace from this fall.  Lofty goals, but something I definitely think is feasible.

What races are on your schedule this spring?  What fitness goals do you have?  I was supposed to run a marathon, but I decided that right now, I don’t have the time or the ability to train and so I am deferring.  I hate doing it, but I know its the right decision for me, especially having been plagued with a series of injuries since fall 2012.  A marathon is in my future, I just need to find the right one and the right time to train properly – I am finally admitting I have too much on my plate.

Run 4 The Parks 10k

Another weekend, another 10k.  [Last one for a while, promise.]

This weekend was my *redemption* weekend from last weekend’s mess with the port-a-potties at MCM 10k.  While I loved the course, support and overall race experience last week, I was ready to test my limits a little bit – I was ready to PR on November 3rd at Run 4 The Parks.

IMG_1436 A few snafus headed up leading to the race.  On Sunday/Monday of last week, the lupus flare I had been pretending wasn’t happening hit full on, meaning I basically slept for 16 hours a day M/T/W, and only attended classes, ate and did little/nothing else until the steroids kicked in.  Aka: I took M/T/W off from running.  Then, on Thursday I went out to run with the Thursday night run ladies. And a tree came out and attacked me and hurt my arch, so I managed about 2 – 2 1/2 miles before I took another two days of rest.

And then, race day morning happened I wasn’t sure if I was going to run – literally – until I arrived.  I decided I would go out “easy” and see how I felt.  So, we arrived around 7:40am (20 minutes before race start), picked up our packets and jackets, hit the port-a-potties (zero problems this week!) and then I jumped into the front area at the start line and said farewell to the Thursday night ladies and my sister who was visiting for the weekend – and who ran her first 10k ever – and the longest distance she’s ever run!

When the gun went off, I thought I was following my plan, I really did.  The pace felt easy and I was just enjoying the run, and listening to my body (it was also sliiiightly downhill, so that may have been why it felt so easy.

Mile 1: 7:05 (so much for ‘easy’)

I felt good after Mile 1, so I decided to keep going and once I realized my pace, knew I needed to pull it back a little bit.

Mile 2: 7:11
Mile 3: 7:15
Mile 4: 7:17

Pretty good, even paces and then was the run back, which is just every so slightly an incline, and I could feel that incline more than I thought I would.

Mile 5: 7:29

At this point I did the math and knew that if I kept it at a sub 7:30 pace I would definitely PR, and that depending on how fast I could push it, that a 44:xx would be possible.  However, there was a small hill in the 6th mile that kept me a little slower.

Mile 6: 7:26
Last .2(3): 1:44

Not my most flattering shot, by far...but the only one I could find.

Not my most flattering shot, by far…but the only one I could find.

Official Time: 45:27 – a shiny new PR by 41 seconds – and more than 2 minutes faster than my 10k last week.  That’s a win, for sure – especially after the lackluster running week I had.

And another bonus – NO TUMMY ISSUES AGAIN!  I think something is either starting to sync for me, or I’ve just been really lucky.  I’m hoping its the first one – because it would be amazing if I was finally figuring out pre race nutrition!

I thought the race was put on really well (these are my own opinions even though I work for Potomac River Running who put on the race – I did still pay for my own race entry).  There were plenty of port-a-potties great race day packet pickup (which is good for someone like me who doesn’t have a car and couldn’t make it to race packet pickup beforehand), and good food afterward (though a maybe a little short on some of the food items – either that or earlier runners were greedy as my sister didn’t get much to refuel with).

My only complaint would have to be about the race jackets/sweatshirts.  In the past years (I have seen my fellow employees wearing the jackets around), they’ve been nice, technical shirts jackets (like the ones you’d wear to the track to warmup in in the fall/early winter/spring), however this year they were basically glorified sweatshirts – and as they were advertised as $55 retail [and technical], I really felt like could have picked something up like this at Walmart or Target for about $25.  I know budgets are tight, but I felt like the jacket didn’t live up to the advertising, and I hope next year its a little higher quality, because I definitely won’t be wearing it except while working at the store.

IMG_1435At least it was embroidered and not screen printed on.  I will give them props for that.

After I finished I grabbed some water and my jacket, and headed back to find my sister who had just under a mile to go.  I ran her in most of the way and then sprinted to the finish to get some photos (when you can run fast after a 10k, you know you didn’t leave it all on the course.  Just sayin’…).  So proud of you, B!

Then we headed to a delicious brunch with the Thursday night run ladies, before I fitted my sister for new running shoes, worked and hung out with her and then headed to a Brooks event put on by Brooks and the running store I work at for employees – and we got to test drive some awesome clothing and get a sneak peek at the new shoe coming out in February!  I’ll have the deets and product reviews up soon!

Did you race this weekend?