Leesburg 20K race recap

I realized while running the Leesburg 20K that I really enjoy running a majority of this race. If you are in the DC area and have never been out to Leesburg, it’s beautiful – rolling hills, farms, a beautiful little downtown area (with plenty of great places to eat).

Leesburg 20K Map

Leesburg 20K elevation chart

The course is mostly an out and back on the W&OD. As you can see, it’s a gradual uphill on the way out, and downhill on the way back. There is one section (near the middle) with a moderately intense uphill (one way you’re going up a trail corkscrew, the other you’re going over a humpback overpass). Other than that, it’s definitely not the hilliest course I’ve run. But the race is in August – so by the time you finish, it’s getting hot.

I am gleaming with sweat!
I am gleaming with sweat!

Did I do better than last year? Yes. I ran this course in 1:52:13. That’s about 9:03 per mile. To compare, last year I was running about the same mileage (high 30s, low 40s) and I ran this race in 1:56:17 (9:21 per mile).

I'm thinking "Oh thank goodness for this finish line!"
I’m thinking “Oh thank goodness for this finish line!”

THE POSITIVES:

I felt a little more prepared for the race. I knew the course, I knew what to expect,

The first half, I  paced myself really well.

I finished faster than I did last year, and this year I’ve run a bit more mileage wise at this point.

It was hot, but a good part of the race was run in the shade.

The scenery was beautiful.

They had the most delicious chocolate chip cookies at the end of the race. Also the gatorade I drank at the finish line tasted better than any gatorade I’ve ever had.

THE NOT SO POSITIVES:

My stomach felt really unhappy around mile 9

I felt incredibly thirsty at the end.

This was not the pace I had wanted to keep, in fact, it’s a good :30 slower than my half marathon pace.

I also have had a sneaking suspicion that eating gus is becoming harder on my stomach, especially if they contain caffeine. So I might need to do a little more experimenting there.

So the journey to the Chicago Marathon continues. I’ve got a half marathon coming up on September 13th. I’m hoping that will give me another good idea, perhaps with even cooler weather, of what I am capable of for this marathon. That’s another one that has some hills, but I am hoping that all of these hills (aka “speedwork in disguise”) pay off for Chicago!

Trail Time

I didn’t post a summary of last week’s workouts, which is a bummer. To make a long story short – last week turned out to be an off week. I was off my sleep game. I was off my mental game. I was off my running game. On my long run (16 miles) I felt sick, I was tired, I was doubting my abilities, I was questioning whether I had made a huge mistake signing up for another marathon. I dropped a lot of f bombs.

This week? I got over all of that. I turned myself around with a 6 mile run on Tuesday and a gorgeous 5 mile run on Wednesday. J loves to run around Teddy Roosevelt Island in DC. He always talks about doing laps around the island. I didn’t get it for the longest time. Trails make me slower, there are little hills, it felt swampy. 

  
But something clicked with me this year and I’ve been loving this island lately.

 

Teddy Roosevelt
 
  
The loop I ran was beautiful, blissful and it felt effortless. 

  
I did one quick lap and ran back up the hill home and straight to bed. It was perfect.

Last night I had 6 miles plus 10X100m strides. My coach has gotten me into running strides on a weekly basis, and it’s been awesome. Running miles and then pounding out some strides is a total recipe for feeling like a badass. Try it!

Work this week has been a challenge – lots of little things coming up that, when piled together, test my patience. I don’t think I am the most patient person. Running has helped a lot in teaching me to be a more patient person, but I still have my moments. One of the best pieces of advice an old boss ever gave me was “Assume good intent.” It is a real mindset game changer when it comes to some of these things that bug me.

This weekend I’m racing the Leesburg 20K. It’s my second time running it. I’m hoping for a course PR and 20K PR … not because I want to conquer the 20K, but rather because I want to see that the work I’ve put in so far, aimed at my fall marathon, is working. As runners, we crave that validation. We hope that the goals we set are reasonable. We run because we want to be better than we were the last time we raced. I’ll give a full race report soonest!

Another Run

  
I had another not so great run today. I had 8 easy miles on my schedule, and my legs just felt like they were full of lead. 

It could be my fast run yesterday. It could be lack of proper fueling before the run. It could be the five hours of sleep I got yesterday. It could be all of it. All I know is that it didn’t feel great. That’s okay. I have a day off tomorrow and I am planning on sleeping and doing some yoga. 

I’m looking forward to the Leesburg 20K next weekend. It should give me a good idea of a reasonable goal to set for Chicago. 

Friends and colleagues have been asking me if I have a goal for Chicago. I usually say I want break 4 hours. My dream though is to get in around 3:45. My PR is from 2012, and its 4:12:09, when I ran Steamtown. I have no idea if 3:45 is realistic. My heart tells me yes, it’s just a matter of whether I can let my mind say yes too. 

Somedays you fly, others you trudge

Tuesday I got a bit of a late start on my run. I probably didn’t head out the door until around 8:30am and it was already in the 80s. For some reason I decided I would run a hilly route. (For DC folks I’m talking about the Custis Trail)

A cute pond along the way

I should have known as I trudged up the first hill that it wasn’t going to be a stellar run, but I just went with it.

 

Look at this light and this traill!
 
At the turn around point, I hit up the water fountain, and instead of focusing on how slow I felt and how hot it was, I just decided to try to be grateful for the day and being able to run. Instant attitude adjustment.

 

This tree was an instant attitude adjustment reminder
 
And the reward for all that positive thinking came on today’s run. I have zero pictures because that’s how awesome I felt. I didn’t want to stop. Instead of running 10 minute miles, I was running an average of 9:09 with a few sub-9 min miles in there. (The last mile which is up the big hill of doom, really messed with my average). I felt like a champion. I felt redeemed from my slow day.

That’s one of the things about running – one day you can feel completely off, but the next you might feel like a million bucks. It’s taken me almost 5 years to figure that lesson out, but finally learning to be at peace with bad runs or a bad workout is one of the most amazing feelings. It’s helped me in my non-running life too. I highly recommend not being like me and learning this lesson early on.

Long Run 15 Miles + Week 4 of Chicago Marathon Training

I woke up bright and early on Saturday morning to get a 15 mile long run in. (Why is it that 15 miles mentally feels so much longer than 13 miles? I don’t know!)

  
I decided to run along the C&O Canal which is both beautiful and so nice on my joints. DC runners, if you haven’t made running along the C&O canal a part of your regular running route, I highly recommend it!

I wasn’t aiming to hit a particular pace, just to go out and have a good run. I felt great the first 11 miles, and then things kind of fell apart a bit. It started getting warmer, but I don’t want to make excuses ;)

  
The scenery was obviously beautiful along the way.

  
After my run I refueled at Ray’s Hell Burger. This place is epic and delicious. I had the Big Punisher Burger and tots. The burger has pepper jack cheese, grilled jalepenos, heck sauce, grilled onions and piranha sauce. It’s a delicious post-run treat.

  
 Here’s what my week looked like running-wise:

Monday – Day off, but I did 45 mins of yoga at home. It felt GREAT and actually helped me catch a few extra hours of sleep.

Tuesday – 9 miles total, 2 warm up, 5 @ HMGP and 2 cool down.

I did the 2 warm up and the 5 @ HMGP, but felt so wobbly that I called it quits after the 5 that were actually :30 off my HMGP. This wasn’t a stellar workout for me, but I hadn’t gotten great sleep.

Wednesday – 5 miles easy.

I actually did 6, so that I could make up for some of my slacking from Tuesday. I felt a lot better.

Thursday – 7 + 10×100 m strides

I ran 8 (including the strides) to make up for the mile I was missing. This run felt GREAT.

 

Friday was waffle night at work!
 
FRIDAY – rest

I was so exhausted from the week (it was a tough one at work) so I got double digit sleep. I managed to eat well which helped me with my run on Saturday.

SATURDAY – 15 miles

Done!

SUNDAY – 5 miles easy

I was definitely feeling those 15 from the day before. I felt tired, but good tired.

TOTAL: 41 miles! It was my first week in the 40s. It surely won’t be my last! 

Week 3 of Chicago Marathon Training + 4 of Overnight

So I always find that there comes a time on the overnight where I can’t sleep. That’s this week. I’ve been averaging about 5 hours over the past three days. Someone at work said that I’ve got a “newborn” schedule…except for the fact that I don’t get to put anyone in cute outfits. I am super lucky though because J is just about the best partner one could ask for. He helps with laundry and my whiny butt.

 

someone told me I looked tired

Hi! I had a rest day yesterday which I took to do some yoga at home. (We had some serious thunderstorms yesterday so Finn was officially glued to my side). Currently he’s guarding our apartment from everyone. 

 
Today I was to run a 2 mile warm up, 5 miles at half marathon goal pace and 2 cool down. After sleeping 5 hrs I got on the treadmill and was feeling like my warm up was the workout! I know, there are days like that! When I dialed it up to half marathon goal pace my body did a big “No way” which I listened to. I dialed back about :20 per mile for a little faster than marathon pace. I am okay with it. I walked around a bit, didn’t get those 2 mile cool down miles in. I’ll pick those up later in the week.

I’m trying to give myself a break this week. It’s tough. Work can be stressful. Life throws things at you. It is important to not add to it. I am trying to teach myself this lesson. So hard!

One thing I am loving lately? 

 

ahhhhh
 
Legs up in the air, on my foam roller after a run. This is one of my favorite parts of yoga. So refreshing!

Also loving:

 
My Granola Products pouch (I use it for my iPad mini at the gym) and my Picky Bars Hydroflask. Cool water for hours and hours? Yes please.  
Now I’m off to nap before my next night shift! 

Chicago Marathon Training WEEK 2 wrap up

So, yes, I am running the Chicago Marathon. And yes, I realize that most people are on week 4 or 5 at this point. I’ve had a gradual build up of miles (the first time I’ve EVER done that) and this is working really well for me. I feel strong physically and mentally and I am seeing running in a WHOLE new way. More on that in a bit – I’ll give you a rundown of this past week first.

MONDAY 7/20: Day off. I did an ab and arm burner workout at home. Nothing special, just a little something to get moving. Mondays have been tough lately. I’m working overnights again, so Mondays I am usually dog tired!

TUESDAY 7/21: 7 miles PLUS 10X100m strides. I am LOVING strides. They make me feel so strong at the end of a workout. I ran the easy portion around 9:45, and the strides I ran around 7:30 per mile (I didn’t keep exact track, I did a little number crunching and went on feel.)

WEDNESDAY 7/22: 5 miles recovery. I always feel like 5 miles is going to feel a lot shorter than 7+, but somehow it doesn’t feel that much shorter. Either way, I felt on this run that I was finally getting used to this overnight schedule. (This was week 3 for me)

 

How beautiful is the C&O canal?
 
THURSDAY 7/23: 8 miles. I ran this through Rock Creek Park in DC. That is quickly becoming my zen spot for running. I love running along the C&O Canal on the way in. It feels like my own little secret early in the morning. I even like the most dreaded Calvert Hill. From my house to Calvert Hill is basically 4 miles, so I get to run up that bad boy and back down. I think I averaged just under 9:30 for this run, including the hill of doom on the Custis trail heading back up to my apartment.

FRIDAY 7/24: I had great intentions of going to yoga, but my mom was having some minor surgery, so I spent the day at the hospital with her and my dad instead. I didn’t get to sleep until 7pm or so … which played out in a not great way on Saturday.

SATURDAY 7/25: I had 13 miles on the books – 5 at an easy pace and 8 at marathon goal pace. I woke up feeling completely hung over. Mind you, I can’t tell you the last time I had an alcoholic beverage (actually, I can. It was a few weeks ago at my boyfriend’s sister’s wedding.). I felt sick to my stomach. I felt lethargic. I felt headache-y. I felt like I was on the verge of a migrane. No bueno. I still managed to eek out 10 miles – 2 for a warm up and 8 at 8:34 avg pace. By the end of my run I was CRAVING red meat, which is weird. I don’t usually crave it. I decided though that it was my body’s way of saying that I needed iron in the form of a Burger. So I hit up Ray’s Hell Burger. Saturday night I met up with my fellow birds Prianka, Courtney, Jenny, and Kathryn for the Crystal City Twilighter 5K. I ran those 3.1 at an easy pace (9:22 avg, but I ran neg splits!). So I ended the day with 13.1. Woot.

SUNDAY 7/26: Easy 5. I ran these on the treadmill because it was oppressively hot outside by the time I got up. I ran these miles around 9:30. My legs were a bit sore, I’m guessing from the 8 at 8:34 yesterday. So I tried to show them a bit of love with some foam rolling before I went to bed for my pre-work afternoon/evening nap.

Total Mileage: 38, which will be likely be one of the last times I see mileage in the 30s until after the marathon. Bye 30s, it was nice knowing you!

So I mentioned that I have been feeling strong mentally and physically. I’ve been keeping track of my runs in my Believe journal. This has been immensely helpful because each day there is a spot to rate your runs. I give it a  – – if I feel AWFUL, and a ++ if I feel AMAZING. More often than not I feel okay, to pretty great and that is with working from 11pm-7am and running as soon as I get home. So I’ve been really glad to see that I’m not the doom and gloom runner I thought I was. Journaling my running has given me perspective on just how many bad days I actually have as well as how sleep and nutrition affect my runs.

Which reminds me …. I’ve also been trying to give myself a big time break on the body image front. This is something that I think all runners and all women struggle with. It makes me feel like less of a feminist and less of an athlete to admit that I struggle with it too, but I do. I am trying though to talk through these irrational feelings. I don’t have to lose weight to run my goal race. I don’t really have to lose weight. My priority is feeling strong, feeding my body fuel for my runs, and just being a general badass. Runners truly come in all shapes and sizes. At the end of the day, we all are trying to improve ourselves. It’s time that I honor the body that gets me through so many of these races, instead of belittling it. My Believe journal is helping with this too.

Looking forward to this week of running – I’m going to definitely try to get to yoga at least once. (Hot yoga helps SO much.) And I’m going to work on the sleeping on Friday thing. Sleeping helps so much too.