Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Army 10 Miler Review - Part 2

Back to the Army 10 Miler!  We left off part 1 with being in the corral holding area.  We listened to the first 4 waves go off and then waves 5 to 8 walked to the finish line in order.  We were in corral 7 so we slowly walked toward the start line as waves 5 and 6 went off.  And then it was our turn!

A view of the monuments in the distance from our corral

The race was huge, I heard more than 30,000 people. So it was crowded.  No way around that, especially at the beginning.  There was a spot in mile 1 where we were taking a ramp up to a bridge where the course narrowed so much everyone had to walk.  But I think that was the only part that was quite that crowded.  The rest of the course was full and I had to weave quite a bit but I never felt like I couldn't go my pace.  But I was in the back of the pack.  I imagine it was worse in the middle of the pack.  One place the crowds were really felt, even in the back, was at the water stops.  I'm really glad I had my hand held water bottle so I could ski most of the stops.  They were really crowded with an unbelievable number of cups on the ground.  It seemed to verge on dangerous.

Mile 1was a road from the Pentagon to the Memorial Bridge.  And then mile 2 was Memorial Bridge over to DC and this started the scenic part of the course.  It was absolutely beautiful.

Crossing the Memorial Bridge into DC

Mile 3 was through a bit of the city and mile 4 was a beautiful section by the river and the Kennedy Center.

Beautiful stretch by the river

Miles 5 and 6 were by the mall past the Smithsonian museums and the Washington Monument.  This section was also an out and back so it was cool to see runners on the other side.  I gave as many high fives as possible!

Lots of runners were stopping on the side to take photos during the race

Miles 7 to 9 were the hardest for me.  This was a bridge back to Virginia and no longer scenic.  The bridge was also steeply banked and this started up the knee pain again.  A lot of people around me seemed like they had given up and a lot of them were just walking.  I kept to my regular run/walk intervals but I was definitely flagging.

Miles 7, 8 and 9 were not pretty

Mile 10 perked me back up because I knew I was almost to the finish.  It also had a section in the Crystal City neighborhood where there were a lot of spectators and that was a nice boost as well.  The last bit of the race was another stretch of highway back to the Pentagon and we ended on the other side of the building from where we started.

So this was about my long run pace which had been my plan so I was ok with this time.  Especially when you add in the knee pain and the high wind.  It was windy for most of the race and there were parts with a rosette strong head wind blowing debris at us.  Add in the stops to take photos and I'm actually ok with my time on this race.  The only other 10 miler I've done was the Tower of Terror 10 miler in 2014 at Disney World.  That was my first big race, super crowded, and took me 2:30.  So this was actually even a PR!

After crossing the finish line, the organization continued to be efficient.  I didn't experience any bottle necks.  I walked along at a comfortable pace, got my finisher coin, water, a pre-package box of food in a plastic bag (so convenient!), and a banana.  I met up with my friends and then we found Mike at the family meet up area.  He had carried extra clothes for us so we didn't have to use bag check.

So there was a long walk from the finish area back to the start.  There was a shuttle but the line was huge, so we just decided to walk.  I think it took us 20 minutes plus another 10 minutes to walk to the garage where Mike had parked the car.  It seemed like everyone had parked there as it took forever to actually be able to drive out of the garage.

So that was my race experience!  We had a great time overall and all felt we would do this race again.

Pros - great pre- race communication, well organized, beautiful course, mostly flat, 15 minute per mile pace requirement, really smooth post-race area, plenty of water stops, military bands along the course, and supporting the military and the environment that comes along with that.

Cons - difficult race morning logistics with the start at the Pentagon, crowded, long walk or shuttle line to get back to the start

Monday, October 17, 2016

Race 13.1 Baltimore - training week 7

Here's to the start of a new week!  And today is my spotlight day in the blog hop hosted by Runaway Bridal Planner, so welcome to any new readers!  I'm excited to share a bit about my week with you.  But first, a bit about myself.  I live in a suburb of Washington, DC with my husband, Mike, and 2 cats.

First dance at out wedding reception

About as close as our cats get to each other

I started running in January of 2014 and have grown to love it.  Currently, I'm training for half marathons number 4 and 5.  I'll be doing the Rock and Roll Vegas half in November and Race 13.1 in Baltimore in December.

Crossing the finish line at my first half marathon

Here is the last About Me post if you want to learn more about me :)

And here's the review of my training for the week.  I've been having knee pain plus I strained a muscle in my back so it's still sporadic.

Monday - rest day

Tuesday - rest day

Wednesday - strength training, squats, clam shells, calf raises, planks and crunches.  I ended with 30 minutes of yoga for back pain.

Thursday - 40 minutes on the elliptical

Friday - rest day since the previous 2 days seemed to bring the back pain back.

Saturday - a beautiful run with a friend.  It was supposed to be 11 miles but I ended up doing 9 and then walking 1.5 home due to knee pain.  And it was super slow too :( even with taking a Tylenol in advance the knee did not feel good.

Sunday - A walk in the morning since I was still having knee pain.  I think I'm going to have too try to rest most of this week in order to hopefully let me knee and back get better.

So that was my week!  I hope you all had a great week as well and I'm looking forward to connecting with those of you from the blog hop over the next couple weeks :)  Here are some ways you can hear more from me. 

I'm linking up with HoHoRuns and MissSippiPiddlin for their Weekly Wrap.

 Weekly Wrap 51 Taste the Rainbow

Friday, October 14, 2016

Friday Five - things about my week

It's the last Friday Five link up with Mar, Courtney, and Cynthia.  These ladies have been so gracious hosting this link up for years and I am definitely grateful.  Thank you, ladies, for everything you've done to host the link up!

I also wanted to make sure I participated in this last link up.  So here are five things about my week.

1.  My back and knee pain is much better but still kind of there.  The back pain seems like it's mildly aggravated by activity and my knee seems aggravated after long periods of sitting still.  So lots of walking around this week.

2.  Sleep pods!  A weird thing from work, we got these weird pods in the lobby.  I had no idea what they were at first but I learned this week that they are nap pods.  I don't know that I'll ever be comfortable enough to use them but I've definitely noticed people in there this week.  I guess it's good that the option is there.

3. I'm looking forward to my long run tomorrow.  I'm doing 11 miles with friends.  And the weather should be nice and cool in the morning.  I've even needed gloves when heading to work in the morning this week.

4.  The cats have been suspiciously well behaved this week.  They've even been seen sharing the same space with each other without a fight breaking out.  This is an improvement over last week when there was a fight so bad that fur was literally flying.  Thankfully those types of fights are rare and I'm happy to enjoy this moment of peace.

Peaceful co-existence

5.  Another thing I'm looking forward to this weekend, starting the work on our shirts for RnR Vegas!  We each bought our own dark colored tech shirts and I'm planning on getting some fabric paint this weekend and working on the stencil.

So that's it for my week.  I hope you've all had a great week too and have a fun weekend ahead of you.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Army 10 Miler Review - Part 1

Here is the start of my Army 10 miler review.  I'm going to split it into 2 parts so that it's not super long.  This first part will concentrate on things before the race.  Part 2 will probably be up next Wednesday and talk about the race itself.

Pre-race communication

I thought the race did a great job with the pre-race communications.  The information about the wave start, the timing for each wave, the expo and packet pick up, the maps for the start and finish as well as the course were all really clear.  This race was going to be different than previous years in that the metro would not be opening early.  The race did a good job of communicating this change and suggesting alternatives.  I feel like they also did a great job with social media and ramping up excitement for the race.

Example of the post-race map


 The expo was held the Friday and Saturday before the race.  There were morning hours open to members of the military and then later hours that were open to everyone.  As mentioned above, I feel like the race did a good job about communicating about the expo in advance.  The only think I couldn't find on their website was information about what vendors would be at the expo.  I thought that would have been useful.

I went to the Expo Saturday afternoon.  It was unfortunately raining so that put a bit of a damper on things.  The expo was held at the DC Armory so you have to go through security to get in to the building.  Security consists of bag check and a metal detector.  So there was a bit of a line to get into the building leading to us standing in the rain.  Not for long, the line moved quickly, but still something to be aware of.

Once we got into the expo, the packet pick up area was clearly labeled.  And it was split up by bib number.  There was no line at all here so I was able to pick up my bib as well as the bibs for 2 friends.  All I needed was a copy of their driver's license and the process was very quick.  Next, there was a separate table for shirts.  The bib had a tag for the shirts with the size listed on there.  So I knew exactly what size to get for each of my friends.  There was no line here either.

We moved on to the expo area itself.  I had initially wanted to look for some arm sleeves and maybe a headband.  But it was super crowded!  It was a surprise since the packet pick up area itself hadn't been crowded at all.  We saw that there were some cool things like a helicopter on display.  But the crowds were so bad that I just decided to head out since I didn't need anything that badly.

Blurry pre-race selfie, we'll just blame it on the wind!

As mentioned above, the metro was not going to open early for this race.  The race did a good job of communicating this in advance so we had time to figure out the best option.  There was no way that we were going to be able to get to Virginia on time for the race from Maryland using metro if it didn't open until 7am.  So I decided to get a hotel room for the night before with 2 friends.  The cost wasn't bad at all split between the 3 of us.  We couldn't find a room in walking distance to the race but we found one that was only a 5 minute drive away.  We stayed at the Key Bridge Marriott and it was a great option for this race.

We were worried about parking the morning of the race given that there were more than 30,000 runners and a lot of them were going to decide against metro with the late start.  Rightfully so it turned out because there was a huge wait to get into the Pentagon City Mall parking garage that was near the race.  So we took a lyft from the hotel to the race.  This was great because we could just have the driver drop us off in front of the mall instead of having to wait for the line into the garage.

But still leave early!  We left early knowing that some of the roads would already be closed for the race.  I told the lyft driver about the road closures in advance but she still ended up going that way and it did delay us a bit.  But it turned out fine since I knew we had left ourselves plenty of extra time.


 The race started at 8am and are wave was scheduled to start at 8:48.  We reached the Pentagon (where the race starts and ends) at 7:45.  We had to go through security to enter the area but thankfully, there was no back up at all.  I had thought we would have to go through metal detectors, but nope.  There was just people doing bag check.  I didn't have a bag, but runners were asked to open the pockets of any belts they were wearing.  I was wearing a flip belt so I just opened it a bit but security didn't seem to worried about seeing everything that was in there.  Also, headphones were technically not allowed during the race but no one seemed to be enforcing that either.

There was plenty of time to get to our wave's holding area.  It was easy to find your respective wave because it was marked by balloons that were color coded to match your bib.  So we looked for the purple balloons and other people that had purple bibs.  There was security stationed at the entrance to each holding area and they seemed to be checking bibs pretty carefully, which was great.  While we were waiting in our holding area, we huddled together for warmth (it was windy and a bit chilly) and listened to the announcer.  It was a little weird because the things he was talking about were on the other side of the building, where the start line was.  But because our wave was 2nd from the last, we couldn't see anything up near the start.  But we did get to see the helicopters that were circling, which was pretty cool.

The purple balloons for our wave along with a circling helicopter

And that's it for part 1 of the recap!  Long story short on the logistics, I would recommend getting a hotel near the race if at all possible, considering alternative modes of transportation such as ride shares, and leave yourself plenty of time for everything!  My race experience itself should be up next week.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Race 13.1 Baltimore Training Week 6

Well, last week was a mixed bag.  If you remember, I had hurt my back and cut my last long run short because of some knee pain.  The good news is the knee pain went away fast with some icing.  The bad news is that the back pain continues.  I think it's a strained muscle but it's definitely gotten better and the pain is manageable with advil.  And I was able to complete the Army 10 Miler so yay!  But here is a summary of last week.

Monday- Rest day

Tuesday - Yoga - I searched You Tube for yoga for back pain and I found that Yoga With Adrienne has one.  So I did 30 minutes of yoga and it really seemed to help.

Wednesday- Walk plus 1 mile run - I did a 10 minute walk in the evening and since I felt good, I tried a brief run.  I was happy to experience no knee pain and minimal back pain.

Thursday - 40 minutes on the elliptical - since the mini run Wednesday went well I decided to try the elliptical on Thursday.  It felt ok at the time but it did seem to exacerbate my back pain later.

Friday - Rest day

Saturday - Yoga for back pain again.  The back pain was bad again Saturday night so I was a little worried about the race on Sunday.

Sunday - Army 10 miler completed!  I took some tylenol before the race and afterwards and it seemed to hold the pain at bay.  I really enjoyed the race and should have my full review up later this week.

Even more good news, the race didn't seem to exacerbate the back pain.  It doesn't feel worse today at all.  I treated the race as a training run and ran my long run pace and it seems fine.  I hope everyone else had a good week.  I'm linking up with HoHoRuns and MissSippiPiddlin for their Weekly Wrap.

 Weekly Wrap 51 Taste the Rainbow

Friday, October 7, 2016

Friday Five - books and tv

I hope everyone had a good week!  My knee pain seems better and it only really hurts when going down stairs.  I tried a short run earlier in the week and there wasn't much knee pain at all.  Sadly, my back pain is still there.  I think it might be a muscle strain based on what I've found online.  But it's getting better and hopefully I'll be able to get through the 10 miler Sunday with the help of some advil.

In the meantime, it's Friday!  That means time to link up with Mar, Cynthia and Courtney for the Friday Five.  So I thought I'd take today to talk about 5 books and tv shows I've been enjoying lately.

1.  Crazy Horse and Custer:  The Parallel Lives of Two American Warriors - This is a biography of Crazy Horse and Custer by Stephen Ambrose and it's really interesting because he not only talks about the clash between these two men, but he uses their lives as parallels for the clash between the two cultures that was going on at that time in the US.  I really found the writing to be engaging and the story to be compelling.  Though, be warned, it is violent in places.  It isn't gratuitous as I don't know how you could talk about this subject without the violence but I just wanted to put that warning out there.

2.  Empire of Storms - On a lighter note, I've really been enjoying this series by Sarah J. Maas.  It's young adult fantasy but with really fleshed out characters that seem like real people, flaws and all.  The plot is a little trite at times but I feel like there are enough surprises to keep me engaged and even on the edge of my seat at times.

5. The Hamilton Affair- I've mentioned my love of the musical, Hamilton, before.  So when I saw this historical fiction written by Elizabeth Cobbs, I had to give it a try.  It's a fictionalized account of the lives of Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler, his wife.  I love that it spends as much time on her life before she met him as it does on his early life.  And I love that it continues to explore the ramification that his actions may have had on her after their marriage.  This is not a story that erases the women in the narrative and I really appreciated that.

4. The Get Down- This is a series on Netflix that I'm just a couple episodes into.  It's created by Baz Luhrmann and set in the Bronx in the 70's.  If you're familiar with Baz Luhrmann's other works (Moulin Rouge, the Great Gatsby), you'll know how this one goes.  It's kind of a dream like exploration of the Bronx at the time which involves the birth of hip hop as well as the death of disco.  The writing and the music are phenomenal, though the acting is a little rough in places.


5. The 100 - I just randomly saw an episode of this CW show and then have binged through 2 seasons because it is so intriguing.  I'm halfway through season 3 now and then will have to wait for season 4 to air on tv in January.  The premise is that it's a 100 years after a nuclear war on earth and that people survived by living on space stations.  Now, the space station is running out of air and 100 people are sent back to earth to see if it's habitable.  A lot of craziness ensues and it teeters over into ridiculous at times but I'm completely caught up into wanting to know what happens next and how the story ends.

Image result for The 100

So if you're looking for something to read or watch, those are some of my current favorites :)  I hope everyone has a great weekend and good luck to those of you running races!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Speed work not on track?

I've been feeling a bit bad about my training this cycle because I haven't made it to the track.  At first it was hot and I was just trying to get out there in the mornings before work when it was cooler but the track time available through our running club was after work.  And now, the running club has been having a bit of a hard time with a consistent track schedule, though hopefully that will be fixed soon.

But then I read an article that talked about speed work on the roads and how that may be even more beneficial for people preparing for road races.  That's what I wanted to hear!

But I'm not really sure how to do speed work on the road (or sidewalk in my case).  The benefits of the track are that it's flat and it's easy to measure with laps.

The track in Winter has the added benefit of being cleared of snow!

Now I do live in a hilly area and running hills has been called speed work in disguise.  So that's one thing I've got going for me.  Any other tips on how to incorporate speed work while running on hilly sidewalks instead of on a track?

One of the long uphills on my neighborhood run

I think my plan going forward (the track should be more available starting next week) is to alternate weeks.  1 week I'll do speed work on the track or treadmill and the next week I can do a hilly neighborhood run.

Gratuitous cat photo since Shelby sat still long enough for me to get a picture :)

I'd love to hear what you do for speed work!