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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Running Through Winter

So it’s been a while… Two months to be exact, and I’m not quite sure where to start, so I will start back where we left off with December 2013 and do a little catching up on how I have been running through winter (often times feeling my head has been chopped off).

December 2013

December was on of the craziest and busiest months of my life. It was three weeks of finals for my first semester of law school. It was also the month where my co authors and I presented a white paper at a round table in the middle of finals (that I finished my portion of at 2am the morning of a final – that one hurt). It was also winter vacation back I the frozen tundra and the time I PRed without really being prepared in the half marathon.

So law school exams. They were intense, stressful, and three weeks long. Yes I had about five to seven days between my exams, but when they are law school exams, you need like two weeks between each exam and even that may not be enough. I was mostly happy with my performances on my exams and grades but know there is room for improvement this semester so I am definitely putting the plow in the ground and hitting the books hard.

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Then there was that paper we presented. I had given presentations on research proposals before but had never had a written paper, that professors, scholars and experts in the field had read, thought was interesting and gave feedback on. It was intense but so exciting! And although my co authors and I have a lot of work ahead of us, I know we will have a great paper when we are finished.

I was lucky enough to go home for about ten days after finals. I hadn’t really been in the frozen tundra (MN) since last Xmas, and it was great to have the whole family together. I got to spend time with my parents, siblings and niece all while freezing my buns off. What more could I have asked for?! Oh right, to have had Xmas at my sister’s in Florida where it was 70 not -10. But all in all we had a great time… In our #xmasjammies (oh yes that happened).

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Then there was the winter running. Lots of it happened. And while most of it (admittedly) happened on a TM I did manage a few good runs outside.

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First I ran Run With Santa 5k, and while there were no PRs (it was cold, snowy and slippery) I had a ton of fun with a bunch of my coworkers at the running store. And then I ran a half marathon very last minute. So last minute the name is escaping me, but it was an out and back on a muddy and icy trail…but I still got a PR! 1:44:06! It was by no means my best race (I fell completely apart in the last two miles, but I know that my goals for 2014 are in reach!

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So lots of running happened and life was looking pretty good. And then came January 2014…

January 2014

And life got even better. Didn’t think it was possible, but it did.

I gained a super cute study buddy (no, he is not mine, but sometimes I pretend) and my grades came back mostly positive. So here’s to a good outlooks for semester 2!

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And while I have had a minor foot injury that has set me back in terms of marathoning this spring, I am taking it in stride, and instead focusing on Cherry Blossom 10 Miler and hopefully a spring half marathon back in sunny Santa Cruz after finals are over in May! You know what I’m talking about… The fabulous Capitola Half Marathon!

Also, today I discovered I was one of four featured bloggers on Active Life DC for a panel on how to get out of a fitness rut. Check it out for some great Dc blogs and tips on how myself and the other bloggers keep exercising interesting and fun…and how awkward I can be. It’s so incredibly awkward it’s awesome.

So that’s a little update on my life. I have been very busy but am planning a few posts to come in the next few weeks, and I promise it won’t be another two months.

How has 2014 been treating you so far? Set any fitness or running goals?
Mine is to be as uninsured as possible, hopefully be healthy enough to complete a marathon and to get back into triathlons! Already looking at a few in late August/early September!

A New Adventure

Something that terrifies a lot of people — and don’t get me wrong, it scares me too — is starting over.  Starting over completely doing something new, in some place new, where you know basically no one.  Its a frightening thing to do, but its something that I believe can make you stronger if you can be okay getting outside of your comfort zone.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I’m about to embark on a new adventure this summer.  One that takes me 3000 miles away from where I currently am (and therefore my friends and family) past where my parents live in beautiful Minnesota to Washington, D.C. where I will be starting law school.

Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 6.20.48 PMThe Bitter Lawyer (this is a fantastic econ/law joke if you get it…nerd alert!)

Yes, yes that means I will be simultaneously be working on my J.D. and PhD at the same time, but I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities that this will bring for my career and how much better its going to prepare for my future.

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As great as this all is, I’m moving 3000 miles away from my friends and family, and moving to a city where I currently have less than 5 friends, two of who are probably leaving for grads chool themselves.  While I’m excited and putting on a happy face, I am also nervous and sad to leave the wonderful friends I’ve made here in Santa Cruz and move to a place where I will be essentially alone, and have to start all over again.  I know that this is the best move for my career, but am still apprehensive as to whether or not its the best move for me personally.

Regardless, I hope you join me on this new journey, as I navigate through a new city, new school adventures, and finding new friends, races and fitness communities.  Thank you for being a part of my adventures thus far — I can’t wait to share the new ones with you all!

— Anyone live in the DC/NoVa area who runs or does triathlons and/or know of a training/racing group?  I’d love to get involved in a group or meet up with people just as soon as I arrive in August!!  If you live there, or know someone who does and would be interested in having a new friend, please let me email me (phdstrides (at) gmail (dot) com)