Saturday, December 31, 2011

Race Redemption

As you might recall, I decided to run the Fairfax Four Miler after a disastrous 15k experience as a chance end my racing year on a high note.  Up until earlier this week, I thought I was in good shape to take this race on and PR over last year's time.  A few painful runs on the treadmill had me believing otherwise, and if I wasn't annoyed at the thought of $35 going down the drain the smart move would have been to bag the race until after I saw my PT.

However, we all know I'm not that smart. I didn't run a step since Tuesday and spent the last 48 hours eating my way through Fort Lauderdale, FL. I slept for about 5 hours last night before getting up for a 7 am flight back to DC, but snagged a 3 hour nap later in the afternoon. I went to the race telling myself that I needed to take it easy and listen to my body. I was even tossing around the possibility of a DNF, given how much pain I was in on Tuesday.  Once there I ran into the CAR mafia and decided to start with them, as Liz told me they weren't out to race (thank God).  Chatting with the ladies took my mind off any nerves and soon enough we were on our way.

I'll spare you the mile by mile details and tell you that I finished in 35:55, a shiny PR over last year's inaugural attempt at this distance. I thought I had agreed with myself that I wasn't going to race it and for the first 3 miles I really don't think I did. But once I hit the three mile marker I saw that I had a chance to beat last year if I kicked it into gear. I wasn't experiencing any discomfort in my leg, so I threw caution to the wind and went for it. I'm really glad that I did. This has been an exciting racing year for me, a lot of ups and downs, but PRing in the last 3 of my 4 races really helped me end 2011 with some confidence in my potential as a runner.

I still need to keep an eye on my leg and I'm wondering if a combination of the treadmill and a pair of new shoes are to blame for the most recent incidences. I'm sending the shoes back this week but there isn't much to be done about the treadmill, as I can't train without it these days. I did foam roll and warm up a bit today, something that I don't generally do before a regular workout. Bad girl. I know that potential injuries tend to have multiple factors so I'm not ruling anything out.  You'll be the first ones to know as this situation continues, and thanks for the words of support earlier in the week. They were greatly appreciated.

This girl is beat and not planning on staying up until midnight. There is a hot shower in my future and then the comfort of my bed and its two purring denizens. Having a wonderful night, whatever your plans are, and congratulations on everything you've accomplished this year. Take a minute to pat yourself on the back, you deserve it. See you next year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Florida, Day Two

Or, why my clothes don't fit...
The view during breakfast
Pre-lunch yogurt! Espresso, peanut butter, and dulce de leche with coconut, peanuts, and strawberries
Where the sunburn came from
Can't not have one of these on a beach, right?
Veg fajitas
Oops, a pit stop on the long walk back to the hotel...
Peanut butter, butterscotch, mint, capuccino, and coconut
Black garbanzo bean soup
Mushroom ravioli with cashew cream, roasted tomato butter and basil
Vanilla cake, coconut butter cream, and an almond tuile

Off to bed before my early flight tomorrow!


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Florida, Day One

Or..... living with reckless abandon. There is no other way to describe my first day in Fort Lauderdale.  I'll spare you some of the dumber decisions I made during the day. These are the highlights:
 Spring rolls and a Veg roll at Sushi Rock Cafe

Tart Honey and Lavender, Peanut Butter, and Thin Mint frozen yogurt with coconut, almonds, and Oreos from Yogurt Ur Way
Passion Fruit Margaritas (yes, plural)
Mushroom tacos at Rocco's Tacos and Tequila Bar

Guac, made to order
My new friend, Peter from South Africa, and my new favorite drink, coffee tequila
2 margaritas, a large shot, and 2 beers later, back at the hotel to sober up. 
Movie time! Workout and more eat-sploration tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Pressing the pause button

I'm glad I decided to make dinner and sit down for a few minutes before I wrote this post. Had I done it as soon as I'd gotten home from the gym, you'd be reading something depressing and self-pitying. The long and the short of it is this.  I've been having some pain in my left leg since the tail-end of marathon training.  I took a considerable amount of time off running after the marathon and have been diving back into it these past couple of weeks. The leg pain has come back with a vengeance, culminating in a very bad run today.  I wasn't even one mile into it before I had to stop and stretch but as soon as I started up again the pain was right there.  I must have looked ridiculous, hopping on and off the treadmill belt several times until I finally stopped at 1.5 miles. Probably my shortest run ever.

More out of frustration than anything else, I cried my way over to the bike and through 5 miles before I decided it was best just to go home. You can in fact cry and bike at the same time, unlike running. The pain subsided on the bike and once I was a little calmer I sulked my way back to the car and home. I wish I knew what was wrong. My PT is a good friend but out of town until Saturday. I'm going to Florida for 2 days on Thursday and I see my plans to run along the beach disappearing. I am also registered to run a four mile race on New Years Eve, just a few days from now. Just the idea of not being able to run is really upsetting, even if it is only for a week or two. I'm frustrated by some recent weight gain and all I know is running to fight it. I feel like a considerable bit of my identity is wrapped up in running, so if I can't do it then who am I? Not a runner.

Rather than let my mind keep going down that path of self-doubt and self-loathing, I'm trying to just breathe. It might not be that bad. I took some Aleve, I'm icing and elevating.  There are other ways I can exercise and I can't eliminate them just because I do not enjoy them. Crosstraining is a definite weakness of mine and I should use this opportunity to keep moving in whatever manner I can. At least, that is what I am trying to convince myself of right now. There is still a large part of me that just wants to eat whatever I can get my hands on and wallow. I've been injured before and I don't want to experience that ever again. I don't like being out of control, not in the slightest. I'm going to sleep on it tonight and try a gentle run again tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed for me kids, hopefully this is nothing that some better stretching, foam rolling, or warming up can't cure.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A very merry blog-mas!

Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope Santa was generous with you all!  I have a fair bit of info to post this Christmas evening, so let's get right down to it.  First off, I participated in Vitamin F's Virtual 5k this afternoon at the gym.  The final result was 26:44.  That is about 2 minutes slower than my Thanksgiving PR but I'm okay with that. I didn't feel like stretching or warming up, in addition to fueling earlier in the day with champagne and cinnamon rolls.

I ran the 5k in my new RunLove Compression Socks from Runningskirts.  I'd post a picture of me wearing them but my calves stretched the hearts out to kidney beans, ha!
I was a little skeptical about them because they were one size fits all, but they were perfectly snug. I'm still wearing them now, as I putter around the house. I also wore them yesterday at the Redskins game and they kept my legs toasty warm! Definitely 2 thumbs up!

Last week I finally tried out the Handful Bra that I won in Kayla's giveaway.  I've been wanting one for a while, and they seem to be the hottest running item in the blogosphere this year. I'm so happy that I was able to win one, as I am pretty pleased with it. I ran it in twice and as far as function goes it was great.  No chafing, no rubbing, no movement while I was running.  If you know me you know that my twins are small so I wasn't sure how much a sports bra could really accent them. I was pleasantly surprised. I'm not a big fan of padding but it did its job, no uni-boob here. The only downside, and this was probably an isolated incident, is that the lining that holds the padding in place ripped at the seam. I don't know if it arrived that way or if it happened during the two times I wore it, but that was a bummer.

Last but not least, I opened my blogger secret Santa gift this morning from none other than the famous Rachelle Wardle of Runnning For Trevor. I don't think I need to tell you what a warm, kind, inspiring runner and writer she is. If you aren't following her already, stop reading this and go read her blog instead.  Fuel and Activebands make this girl very happy!  I'm so excited to try it all out, and if I'd been thinking clearly post-nap this afternoon I would have tried out the bands at the gym during the 5k. Oops. Thank you, Rachelle!!!!

That about wraps things up on my end. I ate, drank, napped, and ran. All in all a pretty good Christmas day.  I have the champagne from this morning to polish off and I think it will be the perfect complement to my homemade pizza for dinner. Basil pesto, onions, baby bella mushrooms, mozzerella, parmesan, goat cheese, and oregano on Trader Joe's readymade pizza dough. YUM. Hope you had an amazing day!

A Christmas in pictures

Snapshots from my Christmas morning, many loving blessings to you and yours!

 Santa came!
Me and elephant
Christmas Cats
My secret Santa gift!
 Goodies from my stocking
Tucker and his present
 Gifts a plenty

Mmmm mimosas....

Friday, December 23, 2011

Back on track?

I hope so!  After a bumpy start to the week, I've been able to hit the gym for the past three days.  I know it isn't necessary to run every day, that in fact the body does need time to recover. However, I have a lot of time of my hands for the next week or so and I'd like to make the most of it. Right now I plan on logging more treadmill miles tomorrow and on Christmas day. Why not, right? At the very least it will keep me from over indulging in some of my Christmas favorites.

Aside from getting ready for a race next weekend I am really trying to put a halt to some legitimate weight gain. I could blame it on any number of factors but at the end of the day the fact remains that I've packed on a few pounds and it ends here. No time like the present to get back on track, holidays be damned. Come January 1st I'd like to be ahead of the New Years Resolvers.  As I've mentioned already, I have a fairly ambitious plan for 2012 and it is in my best interest to come prepared to work.

On the Christmas front, I think I've finally gotten into the holiday spirit. I woke up this morning free from the burden of work. The toughest decision I had to make was which coffee blend I wanted with breakfast. I got to open my first Christmas present during a sweet little gift exchange and I loved it.  I had Christmas cookies after dinner and I'm sipping soy nog as I write this. Tomorrow is wide open, I'm thinking another run at the gym and some baking. I have a little baking tradition that I started at my old apartment and I'm hoping to continue it this year. I made a Christmas music playlist to put on Sunday morning while I open presents. Bought the champagne and cinnamon rolls necessary for Christmas morning breakfast and mimosas.

How many more times can I use the word Christmas in a sentence? Sheesh. Guess I really am excited!  Does anyone have a special Christmas tradition that they'd like to share? Are you planning on running on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? I know there are some virtual 5ks out there for anyone interested. Before I go back to my nog and cookies, I just wanted to say from me to you, the warmest of holiday wishes! Cheers!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thankful Thursday

With Christmas just a few days away you think I would be up to my eyeballs in holiday spirit, but this is not the case. Not yet, anyways. The tree is decorated and has gifts underneath, tempting me with their flashy colors and pretty ribbons. I've been watching Christmas movies in bed the past few nights, trying to flip that switch inside that fills me with excitement. No dice. I think the fault lies in in work, mostly. I feel like I spend more of my energy and attention on being at the office and when I'm not at the office I'm stressed out about having to go back to the office. The adjustment to the new job is just not happening, alas. With all that in mind, I thought a quick list of things that I am thankful for this holiday season might help turn this frown upside down.

1. To love and be loved.
2. Christmas trees that fit on tables away from evil cats.
3. Offices that give you the entire holiday week off.
4. A gym that is open 24/7/365, so I can stay warm and get a run in.
5. Blogging friends.
6. Being able to afford gifts for friends and family.
7. My favorite Christmas movies being shown on television.
8. Homemade cookies from Mom.

This is going to be my first Christmas alone, sans family or significant other. I've gotten a lot of grief and expressions of concern from family and friends about it. I appreciate it but please don't try and convince me that there is something wrong with choosing to spending the holiday by myself. I think this is going to be a unique opportunity for me to spend time on my own, do things I haven't previously had time to do, and maybe start a new tradition or two. I don't have any set plans yet, aside from the 48 hour jaunt to FL. I'm hopeful that I'll sleep in, run often, attend a yoga class or two, start studying for the GRE, and meet friends for lunch dates. That doesn't sound so bad to me, so what is all the fuss?

If you have any suggestions on how to get in the holiday spirit, or something I should do with all my free time next week, I'd love to hear it! Anyone in town want to meet for coffee/lunch/a run?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

When the going gets tough, the weak cry and buy shoes.

Two new pairs, shipped straight to my office. Hopeless.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Stolen with thanks from Liz.

High-Low is a quick way update friends on your life and I like this idea so much that it might become a regular feature on this blog.  It also gives me a reason to keep posting until I get back into a regular training routine.

High workout: Getting back to the gym after a disastrous race performance the week prior. It wasn't anything special, a solid slow three miles, but it shook out some cobwebs and I needed it.

Low workout: Three miles on the treadmill last night. Shortly after the first mile that pre-marathon leg pain was back in full force.  Sharp and intense, I had to stop briefly to stretch but it didn't help. I almost stopped, probably should have, once I toughed it out to the second mile but my ego could not take it. Two miles? Too pathetic. Instead I decided to finish the three but up the speed to a sub-8 mile so it would be over faster. I do not recommend this strategy.

High emotional moment: This is actually a tie and they both happened in the last 24 hours. Last night I got home after a long week at work and that terrible workout to find a box from home waiting for me. Opening it up, my mom had sent a GIANT tub of home-baked Christmas cookies. The kind we usually bake together when I'm home for the holidays.  Secondly, in the aftermath of the week's low emotional moment, there was a knock on my front door. The postman was there with a blogger Secret Santa present for me! I haven't opened it yet, which is taking a lot of willpower, but just the idea that someone else had been thinking about me and made an effort to do something kind for me was what I really needed in that moment.  My thanks in advance, dearest Secret Santa, come Christmas morning I'll be sending you a personal note as well.

Low emotional moment: This week has been a low one in general, thanks to work. I even brought home the office laptop to continue digging myself out over the weekend. Today however, I hit my limit and work had nothing to do with it. It was really a two-fer. I pulled on a pair of jeans to wear out tonight (an occasion in itself) and because I've gained weight post-marathon the jeans ripped in a huge and irreparable way. Shortly afterward someone dear to me spontaneously thought they had time to see me today and then just as suddenly had to cancel. Not unusual or a big deal but I was already frustrated about the jeans incident so I just fell apart. Cried for a half hour about being fat and alone. Normally I'd just eat my feelings away (thanks again for the cookies, Mom) but the idea of that made me cry harder because I have such a disfunctional relationship with food.

Several tissues and a pot of coffee later, I'm wearing pants I could actually zip up (for now) and writing this post. I feel better just getting some of this out of me and having to think of a high note reminds me that things aren't as bad as they feel. Tomorrow begins a new week where I hope to have a hard time choosing between the best high moment.  Right now my house smells like nutmeg and Christmas tree, I get to celebrate a dear friend's happiness tonight, and the cats have been feeling snuggly so all is really okay. 

Do you have a high or low that you'd like to share? I hope you're all having a great weekend in every way!  Happy Holidays :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Three Things Thursday on Friday

1.  Up until about two days ago I had totally forgotten that I agreed to participate in the blogger gift exchange. Oops. I'm a terrible person.  Generally I'm pretty good about things like this and I love giving gifts. My mistake was using this blog's email address to set up the exchange. Since I don't get a lot of traffic on that address I don't remember to check it too often. Yikes. Now Christmas is a week away and I have no clue what to buy this person.  I took a quick peek at her blog but no ideas jumped out at me.  With that in mind, I turn to you, dear followers.  As runners and bloggers, what is something you'd be happy to receive as a gift? Bear in mind that I do not know clothing sizes or fuel flavor preferences. All suggestions are absolutely welcome, as I'd like to get this squared away by the end of the weekend. I don't want my poor secret santa friend to be without a present on Christmas.

2. I made it to the gym twice this week. And I'm going again tonight after work.  This isn't exactly a huge feat, especially since I'm only logging three miles at a time. But this is the most often I've run since MCM on October 30th, so I'm pleased.  I signed up for one more race on December 31st because I refused to end my racing year on such a sour note. If anyone else is running the Fairfax Four Miler, please let me know! I'm also officially registered to participate in the newly announced Sun Trust DC Rock and Roll yada yada yada Half Marathon Relay on behalf of a fantastic charity called Back On My Feet.  The fundraising goal is a completely manageable $350 and the best part is that my teammate is my sister! I have a secret dream of our combined time breaking 2 hours but we'll have to see how training goes. If you're interested in supporting us I plan on getting the fundraising page set up soon.  It won't be in full swing until after the holidays though, I want to give people a chance to recover before I hit them up for money. :)

3. My 2012 racing schedule is starting to come together. With the exception of July and August, I think I've got a race for every month. Some I'm already registered for, others I'm still waiting for registration to open. It is a fairly ambitious year, with one full marathon and three half marathons, in addition to a ten miler and other assorted distances.  I haven't set my race goals for 2012 just yet but I've decided that regardless of what I want to achieve I will not be able to do it without officially committing to CAR and their training regimen. Come January 1st (and a new paycheck) I'll be paying my dues and showing up to work. 2011 was about seeing if I could run certain distances at all. 2012 is going to be about seeing what I'm really capable of at those distances. I'm not saying I plan to make it the year of the PR, but if I can stay healthy I am going to be fairly aggressive.  I'm actually excited at the thought of all these races, and I'm taking that as a sign that I'm on the right track.

Are you all done with your holiday shopping?  Have you set up a plan for 2012 yet? Am I'm being too ambitious? Happy Friday!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A run and a new talent

Happy Tuesday everyone! I broke down and finally dragged my butt to the gym last night. I'd been avoiding running since the 15k and it was about time I did something about it. I don't know what it is that has me feeling like I don't want to run but I'm sick of it. My pants feel tight, my self-esteem is low, and I'm generally a less pleasant person to be around. I managed a paltry three miles before I'd had enough. It was exactly how someone would expect to feel if they'd essentially taken an entire month or more off of running and then started again without any kind of stretching or warmup. I arrived at the gym hungry, tired, and in a hurry to get home so any practical warming up seemed like a waste of time.

I discovered two things while I ran last night.  One, if a bruise is deep enough and about the size of a grapefruit, it will throb while you run with it.  Exhibit A:
No, I don't even have a good story for how I got it. Just a typical Saturday night with the band. Compared to previous outings, this one is pretty mild. Discovery number two? I can text and run at the same time!  The touch screen on my phone makes it a little iffy, but because it opens to a full keyboard I was able to have a conversation for most of my run. I probably looked ridiculous but I really needed the distraction and I didn't fall off the back of the machine. I call that a victory.

I stopped at the grocery store on my way home and picked up some stuff to restock my runners pantry. My eating has been far from ideal, same as my running, and I find that while they can both be hard to get under control they are also intricately related. Nothing fancy, really. Just some staples to get me through the week. Cottage cheese, yogurt, granola, nuts, salad fixings and a few lunches for work. If I manage to get myself into a groove again I might try and participate in WIAW. At the very least it will keep me honest one day a week, provided I remember to take the pictures. 

When you fall off the wagon with training or nutrition, what sorts of things work for you to get back on track? I can be pretty hard on myself but I'm working on it. I was really down about only being able to manage 3 miles last night but in reality that was a small victory. Getting to the gym again tonight would be another victory. I don't want to implement any kind of rewards system for myself, as I'm already a compulsive shopper but I definitely need some kind of motivation to keep forging ahead. I didn't get picked in the lottery for the 10 miler I wanted to race next April, so I don't have any goal races to train for until May. With these cold temperatures it can be so easy to bag a workout in favor of the couch and some hot cocoa.

Coming soon, a few product reviews (anyone in the market for a new sports bra?) and the prospect of making peace during the holiday season.  Happy running, friends!

Friday, December 9, 2011

A friday blogger survey

Thanks, Vanessa, for kicking this off! 

How often do you update your blog? It used to be every day, back when I was in the middle of marathon training and not working a job that tracked my time down to the second. Now I'm training less, feeling a bit introverted, and under a time crunch at the office.

How long do you spend writing each post? It depends on the topic and if I'm including pictures. Sometimes just 10-15 minutes, sometimes almost an hour as I read, re-read, and re-read again.

How long do you spend reading blogs each day? Not as much as I used to honestly, and through no fault of the bloggers I love to read. I have less time and sometimes when my own training is suffering it can be difficult to read about others' races and workouts without getting down on myself.

What other social media sites do you use? Facebook. I have a Twitter account but I don't use it.

What is the first blog you started reading? Shut Up and Run. If you don't read her yet, you're a freak. Seriously.

How do you read blogs? Phone/iPad, dashboard, Google Reader...? Nothing too fancy, I stick to clicking on them through my Dashboard.

How many blogs do you follow? Can't say as I've ever counted, but I read and frequently comment on somewhere around 20.

You're on a week-long vacation. Do you a) pre-set posts for the time you're away, b) blog every day on vacation, or c) organize guest posts in advance? None of the above, actually. So far I've only done one mini-vacation while this blog has been in existence and I just let it go for a few days. If I was going somewhere amazing for at least a week, I think a blog or two of pictures would have to make an appearance.

Have you made money off of your blog? Nope. Every once in a while I consider monetizing it but I honestly have no clue what that entails. That, and I don't think I'm popular enough yet to do so.

Would you quite your job to be a full-time blogger, if it meant cutting your salary in half? Hell to the no. I've tried to live off that amount before and it just doesn't work. I like having a roof over my head and an half-empty fridge in the kitchen. 

Feel free to answer these yourself in comments below or report on your own blog.  If you have another question you'd like to ask, go for it!  I love answering questions!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. I need to get out of town. Seriously. My office decided to close for the duration of the holidays, so as of December 23rd I have nothing to do. For any number of reasons I have decided not to go home for Christmas, I'll be spending it here in VA instead. That being said, I also really have the urge to get away. Does anybody have suggestions on where I could go? Does anyone want a houseguest? :) I've been pricing flights to a number of different destinations and because of the time of the year they are super expensive. Not that I'm surprised. I'm not giving up hope yet, though. All I really need is someplace quiet to reflect and work through some things that have been going on in the last month or so. Regroup for the coming year. Put on your thinking caps and help a girl out!

2. Running and I are on a bit of a break right now. I'm not sure if it is because of the bad race experience last weekend or what, but neither of us is speaking to the other. I can definitely feel the effects of it, as my pants are getting tight and my emotions are less even-keeled. I'm a very emotional person and as I experience stress I tend to freak out a bit. Not running has me stressed but for some reason the idea of actually going for a run is also stressful. Similar to the fear I had before the 5k over Thanksgiving. Am I out of shape? Will it be too hard? Is that leg pain I had before the marathon going to come back? I don't have a race to train for right now, so there is less motivation to get back out there.  Meanwhile I'm turning into a gelatinous glob of fat with each passing day. Did I mention I tend to binge eat crap when I'm stressed too? No running + crap food is a perfect combination.

3. I don't really have a third thing to talk about today. I have some ideas for future blog posts between now and the end of the year that I am hoping you will enjoy.  I'm trying to get all my holiday shopping taken care of and decorate my home for the season. I keep finding presents to buy myself. Does that happen to anyone else? Yesterday it was a deal on RunningSkirts that scored me purple heart compression socks for $19 and free shipping.  Who could say no to that???? I also received a Handful bra in the mail this week for winning a giveaway. As soon as I can get myself out the door to run I will test it out and report back here with a review. It does seem to be the "it" accessory for running/working out these days and I hope I'm as satisfied with it as the rest of you are. As always, thanks for reading and commenting. Getting comments really makes my day, you have no idea.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I will NOT run for chocolate

As you might have seen from other race reports in the greater DC blogosphere, the 1st annual Run for Hot Chocolate 15k/5k was a total disaster. I was unaware of any problems that Ram Racing had been having leading up to the event, but if you're interested in more than this report please check out Cris's blog here.  From the looks of the race's Facebook page, my experience was not unique. It was hands down the worst race experience I have had this year, and probably ever. 

The morning started at 5 am, despite a scheduled race start of 8 am. I was staying over at Duyen's house, my training partner from MCM. We were out the door around 5:30 to head over to her sister's house to pick up Lili and her daughter. Why were we up so early? Apparently access to parking would be restricted by 6:30 because of road closures related to the race course.  Doesn't seem quite logical, now does it? Strike 1.

We make it to 90% of the way to the race start without incident, until we approach the highway offramp for National Harbor where the race was being held. Total gridlock. No one was moving.  I actually fell asleep in the car as we waited to move. Over an hour later, we approached what we thought was the parking area next to the start line that we'd paid an extra $10 to access. No such luck. Apparently that had filled up almost immediately so we were directed to one of several mall garages a mile from the start line. Strike 2.

By the time the car was parked and we were walking to the start line, it was well after 8 am. The clusterfuck of an entrance had not going unnoticed by the race organizers, as they chose to delay the start of both races. The 5k had just started and was coincidentally being run along the bike path bordering the harbor, also known as the only walking route to the start line. It was choked with runners forced to practically stop dead in their tracks because the path was so damn narrow even without hoards of late runners trying to reach the start line. Strike 3.

Once we finally reached the general area of the start line for the 15k we found that it overstuffed with angry runners. We couldn't even reach the street itself, much less our designated corrals, and were forced to stand in the grass behind the metal gates on the side of road. The start line itself wasn't even in site. Was registration capped? No clue, but last I knew the 15k had not sold out, meaning it could have been even worse. The race finally started well after 9 am, over an hour after it was supposed to. Did I mention it was about 30 degrees outside as well? We were all so cold and so frustrated that the idea of bagging the race sounded perfect, were it not for the fact that we couldn't leave because the parking garage was strategically placed on the course.

Once the race began we spent another ten minutes waiting for each corral to clear before they would move the runners stranded on the sidewalks onto the actual road. Unfortunately, my race experience continued to go downhill. The extra time cramped in a car, the cold temperatures, and the uncertainty surrounding the start time meant that I was neither stretched nor warmed up. This was only my fourth run since MCM and despite my 5k performance the week before I was not feeling confident at all. Everything felt stiff and sore. I hoped that taking the first couple of miles easy would help me loosen up but I couldn't have been more wrong.

I kept getting tighter with every step and pain began to set in. The course was clogged with runners to begin with so going at a slow pace was beyond my control. The next disappointment was literally around the corner. As we approached the first mile marker the course continued to move away from the harbor and onto a six lane divided highway. I then spent the next four miles running next to honking cars and inhaling copious amounts of exhaust. The sight of a hill was almost a relief as it the turn onto it meant a turn off of the disgusting highway.

The subsequent miles were unremarkable as the course attempted to make its way back towards the scenic harbor. I was in a fair amount of pain and felt like it was the last six miles of the marathon all over again.  After looping us onto a lovely construction site with a giant mound of dirt near the water, the course finally dropped the runners onto the path bordering the harbor. Better late than never, somewhere around mile 8. The pack of runners never seemed to thin out and I was constantly passing and being passed. I never found a comfortable pace. The last bit of the course had us climbing a hill back towards the start line but veering left before reaching the top.

If ever I wanted to walk, it was that moment. I have strong feelings about walking in races and I wasn't about to start then, although the desire to do so was quite strong. From the beginning I just wanted the race to be over. Technically it was a new distance and therefore an automatic PR but I couldn't give a shit. I was already in such a negative mindset before the start that I didn't bother using my watch. I just knew it was going to be a train wreck. I told myself not to check the results once posted either, but caved. As I suspected, it was a huge disappointment. Once we crossed the finish line I wanted nothing more than to go home.

No amount of Ghirardelli hot chocolate or fondue was going to make me feel better. Had I not depended on someone else for a ride home, I would have left. The actual post-race festival was located at the top of the hill near the start line, an additional uphill hike from the finish line and in the opposite direction of the parking. Yes, the hot chocolate was hot and the fondue tasted like fondue. Until the air temperature caused it to harden before I could finish dipping my treats into it. Figures.
Once my carpool regrouped, ate, drank, and sufficiently complained, it was time to begin the walk back to the car. We had plenty of time to admire the traffic backed up attempting to leave the area, looking forward to the moment when we'd join that hoard.  Perhaps it was due to being parked so far away, but by the time we reached the car and left the garage, it was almost smooth sailing out of the harbor and back onto the highway.  For a day that began at 5 that morning, I got home to my apartment at 1:30 in the afternoon. Seriously.

I could hardly walk and longed for my bed. Unfortunately I'd already planned out the rest of my day, assuming that I would have been home much earlier and in a completely different mood. A quick shower later, I was back out the door to brave the crowds at the shopping mall and grocery store. The holidays wait for no one. It really was a bad experience from beginning to end. I don't think a better run on the course would have made much of a difference. I could have won the damn thing and the major mistakes made by the organizers still would have outshined anything else. Even if the race were held in another location next year, I doubt I would do it again.

We did receive a jacket/windbreaker as part of the race packet, which I haven't even bothered to take out of the bag. I heard from other runners, however, that the quality leaves much to be desired and the sizing was dreadfully off.  I suppose I'll find out for myself soon enough. Not knowing enough about the nuts and bolts of race organization, I am not sure where to assign blame for the multiple failures. I decided not to complain in any official capacity as it appears from the race's Facebook page that hundreds of other runners have that cornered. The only thing I learned from the experience is that I've taken more than my fair share of time off since the marathon and it is time I got back into a regular routine. It was arrogant of me to think I could just go out and throw down 15k after not having run more than 4 miles at a time in over a month. I certainly paid for it, if the pain I still have today is any indication.

Did anyone else race this weekend? I know a lot of you were going to be in Vegas for RnR and I'm so jealous! I would love to meet you all in person. I hope you had a better race experience than I did, and here's to a fresh start this week.  I can't let my 2011 racing season end on such a bitter note, so I'm on the hunt for one more before the year ends.  Possibly the Fairfax Four, but I'm open to suggestions.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving and a PR!

Happy Thanksgiving, friends near and far!  I won't keep you long today, as there are many more important things to do today besides blogging. We've already had round 1 of food here and I'm so grateful that my dress is a wrap around, nice and adjustable for all the goodies I just ate. Let's cut right to the good news, shall we? My family and I ran a Turkey Trot 5k this morning, benefiting the local YMCA. As I was wondering in my previous post, I wasn't sure how I wanted to approach the race. I still feel some post-marathon awkwardness, I really wasn't sure what my body would be capable of. Turns out, a heck of a lot!

I had no clue how fast I was going, I felt pretty out of touch with my body for the first mile. Turns out it was 7:47. Oops. I started to think this was going to get really ugly, really quickly. I'd never run a first mile that fast in a race.  I slowed down for mile 2, not on purpose so much as my body forcing itself to regain control. There was no way I could safely sustain that pace, and after some of the race reports I'd been reading lately I was concerned that I'd be joining the league of pukers. I reached the turn around, still plugging away.  Either there was no marker for mile 2 or I totally missed it because the watch had gotten all the way to 10:00 and I knew I hadn't slowed down that much.

The course was a flat out and back that I'd run once before so I knew what I had left in front of me.  I didn't focus on trying to speed up on the last mile, rather just told myself over and over again to maintain. Just maintain, you've found your edge, now finish.  I honestly could not believe my eyes when I crossed the line. 24:33.  A PR by just over 2 minutes. Once the urge to puke passed, I caught my breath and had a celebratory fist pump. Everyone else in the family had yet to finish so I turned right around to cheer them on at the line.  I just checked the race results online and was also shocked to see that I'd done well in my age group for the first time ever.  Usually I'm mid-pack, but today I was 9th out of 89. 9th!  I can't believe it!  I'm really happy and still not convinced that it was me who ran that fast. I'm so glad that I was able to add a PR to my list of running accomplishments this year.
I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday today. Enjoy your fun runs or well-deserved days off, I'm looking forward to reading all your updates.  I think the faux turkey and all the trimmings has sat long enough, I am now going in search of pie........

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ouchy Tuesday and a gift exchange

Happy Tuesday, kittens. I woke this morning to find most of my muscles moaning and groaning at the slightest movement. I'll spare you some of the details on how they got that way, but most of it involved an slightly ambitious run on the treadmill last night. It was only four miles but I pushed the pace a bit with each mile and finished the last mile trucking along at an 8 minute pace. I'm not sure why I decided to push and see what happened but I'm glad I did.  I have this turkey trot on Thursday and I've been on the fence about how I want to run it. Should I just go and trot along, having fun or should I see what I can do? I've only got 2 runs under my belt since the marathon, so I really have no clue what my body is willing to do at this point.

Liz and the rest of the CAR lot, I'd appreciate any advice you have. If you were me, what would you do? God knows I should fear the answer to that question, having read your recent training and race reports. Crazy people. I won't be getting much sleep the night before the race, I'm working most of Wednesday and then hitting the road late in the afternoon for the 6 hour drive to NY. Race morning we need to get up early and drive about 45 minutes or so to the race start. Dear lord I'm already looking forward to the post-race stop at Dunkin Donuts. Anyone else out there doing some sort of holiday-related race? Alexandria puts on a good 5 miler, minus the mess of strollers and dogs that happened last yet. I heard they made some changes this year to better accommodate those runners.

On a fun-related note, if you are a fellow blogger and looking to get into the holiday spirit, head on over to the Blogger gift exchange. A lot of people have signed up already and who doesn't love getting presents in the mail? I really love giving gifts, so I'm looking forward to "meeting" the blogger for whom I'll be gifting. I think it is a great way to meet more awesome people in the blogosphere and spread some holiday cheer at the same time. Has anyone started their holiday shopping yet? I have a friend who is done. Seriously? Shutthefrontdoor. I don't do Black Friday anymore, thank goodness, so I'll probably start some time next week and hope to knock it out in time. Aside from a few random items, I'm generally able to do most of it on Amazon.

This year Santa probably hates my ass because everything I want is boring and expensive. For example, a new rug for my living room. The matching couch for my chaise lounge. A Garmin. A Dyson pet vacuum. You get the picture. Nothing you can put in a bag or box with a pretty ribbon. Except maybe the Garmin. If I get through the rest of this year of work unscathed I might have to spoil myself with one of the aforementioned. Have you made your list and checked it twice? Do you have big ticket items on there as well? Are they as boring as mine?  I remember the lists I made when I was a kid. What a difference a couple decades makes.

Ok, impending rant, feel free to skip right over it! Is anyone else already feeling bombarded with holiday advertising? Those silly car commercials for the 1% of America with money to blow on things other than food and shelter just kill me. I will say that I'm already done with the holiday diamond commercials. Granted, it only took about two to really tick me off, for any number of reasons. I'm just not a diamond girl. It comes with so much baggage related to consumerism, not to mention the ethical minefield. And if it is an engagement ring we're talking about, hello Wedding Industrial Complex. I can't run from that fast enough. That was a bit of a tangent, wasn't it? Blame it on the bitter shrew inside me. She's crocheting "Old Spinster" onto a tea cozy for me as we speak. Rant over.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday this week, with lots of food, family, and friends. I'm going to try and post a race report on Thursday but I make no promises. I'm easily distracted by the copious amounts of food, wine, and football that make up Thanksgiving in my house. I can practically guarantee that I'll be zonked out on the living floor by 8 pm. That is just how I roll.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Running and Resolutions

Yeah, I finally went for a run. I really can't believe it took me nearly three weeks to get back out there. I thought I'd take a week off, tops. So much for best laid plans, huh? And honestly, the longer it took me to go, the more nervous I got.  I was legitimately afraid to go. I have a Thanksgiving Day 5k turkey trot in a few days and even that has me scared.  What has gotten into me?  I wish I could put a finger on it. It doesn't make any sense at all. I don't know what I was so worried about. Would it be too hard? Painful? I'm not sure. I did 4 miles and I'm pleased that I got through it.  I didn't bother, as usual, to warm up or stretch in any capacity so everything was tight and sore for the duration of the run.  When I got home I was so relieved to have it over with.  I'm not sure when my next run will be, maybe after work tomorrow night at the gym. I'm still equally nervous and disinterested. Who sucked the fun out of the run?

On a somewhat happier note, I had a sports massage this morning and I'm hoping that will loosen up some of my problem areas.  For anyone in the VA area, I went to Pure Aesthetica in Del Ray.  I mention them specifically because they offer a one hour massage to first time clients for only $55.  Not a bad deal, right?  I had a gift certificate to go, and thanks to that deal I still have money left to spend on a future appointment.  If you need further motivation, it is only a block from the best frozen custard money can buy. It took all the will power I had to go straight home afterwards and not grab myself a treat.

I'm struggling with something else related to running, but I'm hesitant to talk about it here. I know some of you would certainly be able to understand what I'm talking about, having read some of your own words on the topic. But I'm not sure how personal I want to get on here. I don't want to worry any of my friends or family that read this but I'm sure you all might have some good advice for me as well. I guess I need to sleep on it a bit more and decide.

The end of the year is fast approaching, and I can't help but reflect on the past year's running and wonder what next year has in store. Once my last two races of 2011 are over I plan to sit down and sketch out some goals for 2012 along with a plan on how to achieve them. I would love to hear what your own goals are for next year and what you plan to do to reach them.  I'd also really welcome your input once I pull my list together. You all bring something special to running and I really value your opinions.

I'm not a big resolution fan at all, in fact I really dislike them. But setting goals feels different. Not just in running, but in general. Do you make resolutions for the new year? Are they remotely realistic?  Personally, I believe that you can change your life any day of the year if you want something badly enough. The new year is not only a crutch but it is added pressure to succeed on something that might not be that reasonable in the first place. Plus, it can really impinge on your holiday experience. Spending the "most wonderful time of the year" dreading January 1st and considering that time your last hurrah is no way to embrace the season.

I think goals are different than resolutions in that they are usually more specific, measurable, and achievable. They are something you can cross off a list as the year goes on and feel a sense of accomplishment. "I'm going to clean the house more, volunteer more, eat out less, lose ten pounds" etc etc just doesn't work for me.  Not that those aren't good ideas, trust me. I could stand to work on all of those. I suppose the point I'm trying to make is that you need to frame your goals (or resolutions, if you think I'm just splitting hairs) in a way that doesn't make it seem like there is something inherently wrong with you that needs to be fixed. 

The upside of eschewing the resolution business is that I don't feel that pressure to change something about me as a person, nor the sense of failure when, inevitably, the resolution falls by the wayside. My goals are something that I'm actually excited about and feel will empower me as a person. To me, that is a huge difference. I'm not focusing on any perceived flaws. There is no self-loathing involved. I am not subtracting things from my life or attempting to go without. I'm enhancing. Maybe it is just semantics, but something clicked for me when I switched from resolutions to goals. There was a lot less self-judgment, which is a big deal in my life. I'm usually not the kindest person when it comes to the self but I'm working on it. Letting resolutions fall by the wayside is small step towards correcting that.

Kudos to everyone out there who trained, raced, and otherwise worked their butt off this week. I hope you did something kind for yourself too. You deserve it.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Guess what?!  I didn't run this weekend. Again. I know, shocking. But I did get a bit of advice in a training newsletter this week stating that marathoners should spend around three weeks not running or doing light cross training. So...I don't feel as guilty. Although I do have a 5k on Thanksgiving morning that I'd like to actually do well in. If I can get in a couple runs between now and then just to shake my legs out I'll be a happy camper.

Since running didn't fill up my weekend, I decided I might as well take my life into my hands. Yup, I went skydiving.  And it was AMAZING.  I wasn't willing to spend the extra $80 to get a video of the experience, but I won't be forgetting it any time soon. Obviously couldn't take a camera up into the plane with me, so my friend and I just took a few pictures on the ground in our harnesses before joining our tandem partners and hopping into the plane.

 There really wasn't much to the plane at all and I wouldn't exactly say were were trained either. It took about five minutes for them to tell us what to do before, during, and after the dive.  Not that they did a crap job, just that the tandem partner handles a lot of the important stuff. The plane itself seemed like an empty shell compared to what most of us are used to flying in. Then again, most people also don't intentionally jump out of a perfectly good aircraft. We cruised up to about 13,000 feet before it was go time.

The plastic door rolls open and the wind comes rushing in. I was the last of the group to jump, so I had a few harrowing moments of watching people jump into nothing and disappear. When it was my turn we sat on the edge of the plane door, legs dangling into the air. The next thing I knew I was falling 120 mph towards the ground. It was a huge rush! I didn't exactly look around to take in my surroundings, the air really pushes hard against your face. If you don't breath through your noise it feels like you're suffocating.

After the cord was pulled, we had several minutes to coast to the ground. I got to steer the parachute for a bit, sending it left and right into this fast corkscrew turns. The air temperature was crisp to say the least but the sky was clear and the sun was shining. Lovely views of the land around us, up towards DC and out to the mountains. After all the waiting we did on the ground the experience itself seem to go by so fast. One by one each of us reached solid ground and I crossed my fingers for a graceful landing.  I didn't want to be the one that landed on their ass, (and we'd seen several people do just that on the jumps before ours) and sure enough I managed to keep my feet under me.

All in all it was an incredible experience.  I made sure not to tell my family until afterwards, for which they were quite grateful.  I didn't have any intent behind going (working on the bucket list, etc) other than to be brave and try something new. I'm not in a hurry to do it again but I also wouldn't say no to it either. The cost can be prohibitive, but I can thank LivingSocial for hooking us up with a deal. Between skydiving, rainforest canopy ziplining, and waterfall rapelling, I think I'm pretty set in the adventure arena for the time being.

How was your weekend?  Do anything wild and crazy? Have you ever skydived before?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Random Friday Facts

Yes, after a long hiatus, these are back. And boring as ever.

1. Coldstone is a perfectly valid lunch choice.
2. Absence does not make the heart grow fonder, it just pisses it off.
3. I haven't run in 12 days and it feels like forever.
4. I still sleep with a stuffed animal.
5. I think have more followers here than friends saved in my cell phone.
6. I wish I had a dog. Just for the extra unconditional love. Cats are so damn fickle.
7. I miss having a dishwasher.
8. Everything I want for Christmas this year is really expensive. Sorry, Mom.
9. Getting paid on the 15th and last day of every month blows.
10. My car makes the turn signal noise when the turn signal isn't on.
11. I'm thinking about doing a destination race in 2012. Ideas?
12. I don't love my new job yet.
13. I have not started my Christmas shopping yet. No plans to either.
14. I'm spending the Christmas holiday alone this year. Me and the cats. PAR-TAY.
15. I really want to beat my Dad in the annual football pool this year. I could use the $50.
16. I can't remember the last time I ate a real vegetable. Worst vegetarian ever.
17. There are usually more beverages than food in my refrigerator.
18. Health insurance companies suck.
19. I'm going to see the Foo Fighters tonight after work. I hope they don't suck.

Leave a random fact or two of your own in the comments, I want to get to know you all better!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Giveaway Winner!

After a highly sophisicated review process aka random number generator, the winner is.......

True Random Number Generator  7Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Congratulations, cheryloo!!

cheryloo said...
I totally would want some Nuun!

Shoot me an email at PamsKnickers to claim your prize!

On a completely unrelated note, I still haven't run. But I have plans to do so on Saturday. So don't worry kids, everything is going to be ok.

Best of luck to all the runners in Richmond this weekend, you're going to kill it!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tuesdays and a Giveaway reminder

First off, if you haven't entered my giveaway yet, go HERE and do so! It ends tomorrow! I'm really excited to see who wins and because of your awesomeness I am now up to 40 followers! Woo!  That might not seem like much to some of you more popular bloggers out there, but I am so psyched!

So, it is only Tuesday. It has been 9 days since MCM and I can tell you that all the post-marathon hype is true. You get depressed. You don't know what to do with your free time. And you eat like you're still training. Yesterday it felt like all my clothes were a size too small. I pulled on last year's grey cords this morning and barely got them on. Of all the misconceptions I had going into the marathon, losing weight was the biggest one. I wasn't actively trying to lose weight but I naively assumed that all the mileage would either cause me to drop a few pounds or at least maintain where I was. Ha. What folly. I might be the heaviest I've been in several years. Sigh. I was definitely eating like I was training, a combination of good stuff and total crap, which probably explains the weight gain.

Now that I don't have a specific goal race in mind, I definitely need to get organized again. Yes, I have a few races coming up in the next few months but nothing like a full marathon. I'm open to doing another full next year but I'm not actively researching it yet. Honestly, I don't even know where to begin, there are so many choices. Once school ends for the year and my final 2011 races are over, I am going to sit down and try to set some goals for 2012. I have several in mind but I'm not sure whether they will conflict and if having multiple goals for one training season is a reasonable idea. The one thing I'm pretty sure of is that whatever I choose to go for next year, going full time with CAR is going to be a part of it. I've lurked on my fair share of track workouts and its about time I either go all in or go home.

I'm sure the best thing I could do for my post-race blues is to go out for a run but I haven't been able to get myself out the door. I have any number of perfectly valid excuses, but in reality I'm just a bit nervous. You wouldn't think I'd be intimidated by a 3-5 mile test run, but I am. I feel like I wasn't that banged up after the race but maybe my body is just waiting to surprise me with something once I try to run again. Or I'm just being silly and paranoid. At any rate, unless I want to hit the gym at 6 am or midnight, my next chance to run is Saturday morning. I'd have some company, though, which will be nice. In fact, I am going to shoot that running buddy an email right now to lock that down. I can't tell you what a difference it makes to be accountable to someone else for a run.

Congrats to all the NYC finishers, I'm really proud of you and have enjoyed your race reports. Those are some killer times! I know some of you are still training for that big race, and I'm pulling for you. Just keep hanging in there and try not to let the taper make you too crazy. Once again, don't forget the giveaway!  One entry for being a follower, an additional entry to tell me what you'd like to win, and one more entry if you post my giveaway on your blog. Good luck!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Marine Corps Marathon race recap

This is probably going to be an epic post, so kudos in advance to anyone who makes it through. When I was thinking about writing this I didn't anticipate being able to recall enough as some of you can to do a mile by mile play by play. After looking at pictures, more came back to me, so this could go on for a while. It is, after all, a marathon, right?

Saturday was a nervous blur, what I remember most is that I couldn't keep still.  I ran a few errands in the morning with my family and then was on my feet doing laundry or pacing around the apartment randomly throwing things into a pile for my race day bag. The weather was terrible, rain that turned into sleet and snow. Despite the forecast for clear skies on Sunday, I was still fairly worried that I'd be running in cold wet muck. We watched a lot of college football on tv and tried to play board games to keep me distracted. Watching my shaking hands try to win at Jenga was entertaining for sure.

Race day started at 4:30 am, when the alarm went off for the first time. I knew it was earlier than necessary but I am also a snooze junkie and would need that extra time to doze and talk myself into getting up. I don't recall getting a lot of sleep but I wasn't expecting to either. I'd made an effort earlier in the week to get to bed early each night so I'd banked a decent amount of rest. The next hour was a combination of re-packing flurry and 5 bleary-eyed people stumbling around a tiny apartment trying to get dressed and out the door. I was actually ready a little early and decided we might as well get the show on the road.

Good thing, since the car needed a serious ice scraping before we could go anywhere and that took up about 10 minutes. Then we got in my car to drive over to the Pentagon and realized the gas tank was on E. My bad. Another 5 minutes at the gas station while we all tried to stay warm and awake. It seemed like the dead of night out as we drove to the drop off point. As we got closer we began to see the shadows of other runners shuffling towards Runners Village and it slowly started to sink in that today was the day. My parents dropped me off as close as they could and headed off to find a place to park near the start/finish in Rosslyn. I had a bit of a walk around the Pentagon, through security and bag check before reaching the beginning of the corrals for runners.

The original plan was to meet up with my training group and running partner but once I arrived at Runners Village it was immediately clear that it wasn't going to happen. I was a little frazzled but decided that it was out of my control and the best thing I could do was head for my corral and try to stay warm through the opening ceremonies. Thankfully the time seemed to go by quickly and soon enough the firing pistol sounded and MCM 2011 was underway.  It only took ten minutes for my corral to reach the start line and from then on it was just me and 26.2. I was never alone on the course but I never felt too bunched in either. The course definitely narrows unexpectedly in certain places but I don't feel like it impacted my pace in a significant way.

The first mile was a blur and I was happy to see that I was right on target for my A goal finish. I hadn't gone out too easy or too fast, so it seemed.  I enjoyed all the spectators that lined the streets, saw my family right away at the mile marker, and laughed out loud when I saw some friends from my group on the sidelines with a giant poster that said "Worst Parade Ever." Since it was about 30 degrees out I was bundled up with a hoodie, gloves, and headband over my usual long run gear. From the look of the pictures my sister took, I was all smiles. Hopefully that would be the theme for the duration of the race.

The next three miles went by just as smoothly. A moderate uphill with a great downhill afterwards, coasting down onto the GW parkway before heading up the ramp to the Key Bridge. My family was right there at mile 4, cheering me on into Georgetown. I got a quick shout out from Amy as she womaned a water station and it was a boost to hear people call out my name and tell me I looked good. Putting my name on my shirt was the best thing I did and I'll do it again for every future marathon I run. I heard so many people calling out to me and cheering me on, it kept me alert and smiling and waving. As someone who has spectated her share of marathons, I always made a point to call out to as many specific runners as I could so they would know they had support on the course. Being on the other side of it, I'm really grateful.

Miles 5-8 were uneventful and a little quiet because that section of the course isn't a big spectating spot. The one significant hill wasn't bad at all, and despite the sun blazing right into my eyes I charged up it and just kept on pushing for Georgetown. Once I got there I knew I'd be fine. At some point over the course of my training I had literally run every inch of the course and reminded myself of that fact. I knew this course. I had it. It was mine. The next hurdle was going to be the road leading up to Haines Point. Anyone who knows me at all knows how much I dislike running Haines Point. I used miles 10 and 11 to tell myself that I wasn't going to let it get me this time. There might have been an f-bomb or two in the mix as I got myself pumped to conquer those three miles of mental torture.

I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of spectators that were along the course at that point. It was such a welcome distraction as my legs were starting to ache. I was still on or within a minute of my goal pace and I had to remind myself that I still had another half left to go. My half time was comparable to other halves I've raced, which made me realize that I could probably hack some time off my half PR with a little extra work in the coming year. Miles 16-18 were another mass of spectators and I was focused on how much longer it was going to be until I saw my family again. I got to see them again at miles 18 and 19 along the mall, and it was a perfect boost. I could tell my Dad was getting really emotional and everyone kept telling me I looked great and was going to finish strong.

The last big hurdle of the course was going to be the 14th Street Bridge. Again, I told myself that I had run this numerous times before and that I had it. I've got this. It definitely lived up to the hype, as I got on the bridge area earlier than my previous runs and stayed on it longer as well. Runners were stopping left and right to walk, stretch, or just give up. My training group was on the bridge with their fantastic signs and I screamed, jumping up and down, when I saw them. At this point my legs were really feeling the miles and I was starting fall off my A goal pace. I kept telling myself that I've got this. I've come this far. I was also looking forward to the end of the bridge because that was where my friend Jen, marathoner extraordinaire, was waiting for me. Once I rounded the off ramp and came into Crystal City at mile 22, there she was.

Never mind how fresh faced and bouncy she was. It was a huge relief to see her and know that I was closing in on my goal. She lied and told me looked great, even though I was starting to experience some real pain in my hips and lower legs. The A goal pace was toast at this point and I had to just let it go. It was about maintaining now, and getting to 26 with a little left to charge the .2 hill to the finish. We talked to keep me distracted and she was constantly building me up and telling me how awesome I was doing. As a veteran of MCM, she also knew the course really well and laid out exactly what I had left so there were no surprises. I had my hydration and fueling down to a science, so I am grateful to say that I never hit the wall. The last 6 miles were as hard as marathon legend says they are, but I think I managed them pretty darn well.

Jen dropped off at the 26 mile marker with her final words of encouragement and off I went. The hill was crowded with finishers, some walking and some shuffling up as best they could. Having run it so many times in training, I just had to take it on full force. I flew as fast as I could, dodging bodies and digging deep. It wasn't about last minute passing, it was about a fierce finish and learning the meaning of strong. Across the red carpet, under the archway, and over the timemat. I was done. I, little miss anxiety, was a MARATHONER. As soon as I crossed the line the crowd came to a dead stop. Luckily I was able to cross the line before that happened, I have a feeling many runners behind me were not so lucky and had some unnecessary seconds added to their time. The hold was the distribution of the space blankets, but I have to say that was the only hitch in what was otherwise a flawless performance by the Marines Corp and everyone involved in the organization of the race.

We finishers waddled towards a line of Marines, medals at the ready. I made sure I stopped and really focused on that moment. The young Marine shook my hand, congratulated and thanked me, and draped the most beautiful medal in the world around my neck. My smile probably couldn't have been bigger.  It was a long, slow, crowded walk from there on to where I was to meet up with my family. Due to crowds they weren't able to see me finish, but it was ok. They were waiting with huge hugs and congratulations, all the same.  I made quick stop in the charity tent that my running group hooked up with, just to sit for a few minutes and get some food in me. I honestly wasn't really hungry or thirsty but people kept giving me things and telling me to eat or drink. It was a slightly painful walk uphill to where the car ended up being parked, but I didn't care. I was done!

The rest of the day was spent feeling a little lost.  I didn't know what to do with myself. I was achy but restless. I didn't really want anything to eat and I wasn't tired enough to sleep. We did make it out for a celebratory dinner, after which I had a beer and crashed for the night. This was absolutely a very positive marathon experience for me. I know how lucky I am to be able to say that as well. I finished right between A goal and B goal, totally smoking my dreaded C goal. I can't help but wonder if I couldn't have pushed harder and done more, considering how not-tired and good everyone told me I looked. Next time, I guess. The only thing that really surprised me was my lack of emotional reaction to finishing.

I honestly expected to cry.  Thinking about the finish in the weeks leading up to race day, I was pretty sure tears were inevitable. But in actuality, it was nothing like that. The first word in my head were "what's next." Having had time to reflect on this a bit, I realize that is pretty typical of me. Constantly downplaying events in my life and never really owning an accomplishment. I'm too scared to be proud of something I did for fear of seeming boastful or a braggard. I'm trying to own this one, and I've had a lot of support in that effort. I was so shocked at the number of friends that were tracking me online during the race, the kind comments and congrats that overwhelmed my facebook page. I guess I really did do something, huh?