Capitol Hill Classic Race Recap

So it’s been about 2 months back running & what better way to celebrate than running a 10K, amiright?

Capitol Hill Classic start and finish line


How cool is the Peabody School?

It’s hard for me to not get the warm fuzzies from this race. It’s always right around my birthday, and I love running on Capitol Hill (because deep down inside, as a former poll sci major, I am a big NERD). I ALWAYS forget though that Capitol Hill gets its name because it is situated on a hill. Weird right? If hill running and I were in a relationship we would have repeatedly broken up and gotten back together – I’m still waiting for the hills to buy me dinner and apologize with flowers.

Anyway – I woke up feeling fab & grabbed a Picky Bar on my way out the door. J and I had plans to get to the race EARLY because my coach had me running a 1 mile warm up before the race.


We look ready right?

I started the race fast, but I felt comfortable. In fact, I was technically on par to PR through the first half – but the first half is mostly downhill. There’s a part of this race where you run around the RFK parking lot, and it just kind of always depresses me. I don’t know why, but it’s like I see this long chain of people in front of me, and I can see that it’s a ways to run around this uber depressing parking lot and I get all funked inside. Anyway, this is where this race started to head off the rails for me.

Coming out of the parking lot I had to run up what I would call a minor hill, plus a gradual run up Capitol Hill back towards the Capitol building. This was my slowest mile – it was basically a full minute slower than my other miles. Whoops. Looks like I need to work on hill running.

At this point (between miles 4-5) I knew I had blown my chances of PRing, and I saw J. I think I breathlessly said something like “I’m struggling,” or perhaps “I’m REALLY struggling.” I tried my best to hold it together, but I kind of started cursing the race and wishing that this was an 8K instead. At this point my tummy was also actin’ a fool and rioting against the Picky Bar I ate. So that was fun.

I finished in 53:40, which is an average of 8:39 per mile. That’s actually slower than I ran my 10 miler a few weeks ago.

It’s also almost 2:00 slower than my official 10K race PR from 2013. I say official 10K race PR, because it probably isn’t even a PR, because I’ve run a half marathon faster than that 10K. Soooo yeah. Still chasing that 10K PR.

BUT here are the great things (since I’m trying to focus on the positive):

-running is coming back to me more and more every day I get out there

-I’ve been so much better about what I’m eating generally (though I still treat myself to my daily chocolate and occasional meal out)

-I’ve only been running for 2 months after taking 5 months off from running COMPLETELY. This is pretty great progress I think.

-I don’t feel like I will be sore tomorrow, which I hope means that leg strength is there, I just need to boost my endurance.

-I can run my pace runs during training faster than I think I can. I had kind of a devastating moment earlier this week when I was trying to run 4 miles at Half Marathon Goal pace, and just couldn’t do it mentally. Ha. I showed my Tuesday self what’s up.

-I know what I need to work on: hill running and endurance.

-I am building a good base for marathon training.

The Chicago Marathon is going to be my BIG race this year. It happens in early October, and here is the GREAT news: it is pancake flat.

My next race is Wednesday (aka MY BIRTHDAY) – I’ll be running a 3 mile race with folks from work. It’s the Capital Challenge, and I’m hoping to PR there. My PR from 2 years ago (geez 2013, what is it with that year) was 24:24 – 8:08 per mile. Considering I ran a 5K faster than that a few weekends ago, I think I’ve got this.

Getting Back To What I Love Doing

Taking a break from something you love (especially when it is not by choice) is rough.

I had to take a break from running to physically heal my ankle after I sprained it 3 weeks before the Marine Corps Marathon last year. (It still makes me sad to type that sentence.)

What I didn’t expect was that I was going to need to extend this break, because I wasn’t ready to go through the mental workout required when one starts running again after not running for a period of months. That is hard, if not harder, than dealing with the sprained ankle.

I got perspective though, and it gave me a ton of appreciation for the process that our bodies go through to get back into the shape they were once in. I’m not there yet, but I am getting closer.

I’ve been running 5 days a week for almost 3 weeks now. I am starting to feel like myself again out on the trails. I am working with a coach, which has helped me TREMENDOUSLY. She’s come up with workouts tailored to me and where I am now. I work on speed twice a week, and have three days of easy running. Yesterday after a 2 mile warm up, she had me run 3 miles at half marathon pace. J said “That’s crazy. See how you feel after 1 mile.” I was worried during our 2 mile warm up run to the high school track. When I got on the track, I still wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it. Then the miles started ticking by – 1 mile down, then 2 and then a third mile. I ran them all under what I was working towards. It was tough, and I wouldn’t have wanted to run another mile at that pace, but I did it. I felt like I had conquered a mountain of doubt and fear. I felt like old running me wasn’t so far away. I could see her, and I was catching up to her.

Tomorrow I’ll go on my long run. These long runs (though we’ve kept it under the 10 mile mark so far) have taken on new meaning for me. They are my time to be out on the trails – they’ve been these blissful hours where I just clear my head.

So once again, I’m looking forward to what this year will bring. Once again, I got into the Marine Corps Marathon lottery. Once again, I will train for it. Unlike last year, this year I know I will run it.

New Year!

A New Year is upon us – which means my gym is packed!

Quite honestly, I always waffle a bit as to whether I should make resolutions/promises for a new year. It’s hard, especially when you can’t make good on these promises.

This year I think I’m going to call my promises intentions – it seems like there is less pressure with an intention and I’m hoping that will make a difference.

My first intention is a BIG one. I intend to start the Whole30 on January 5th. And (second intention) I’m going to try to document my experience here on my blog.

For the uninitiated Whole30 is a paleo type diet – no dairy, grains, sugar, or legumes. No sugar also means no agave, no maple syrup, not even that bit of sugar used to cure your bacon! But honestly, let’s not focus on the sugar aspect, it makes me nervous. There is a lot of research that has gone behind this diet, and I read the incredibly helpful companion book to Whole30 It Starts With Food, and I believe that this will be right for me. The authors describe it as a lifestyle change, and not a diet, which really registers with me. I need to eat my vegetables! I’m not eating them enough, and I am hoping that 30 days of eating lots of veggies instead of lots of bread will help me experiment with some new foods.

That said, today’s grocery haul looked fairly similar to what I normally get. So don’t expect anything DRAMATIC just yet.

Trader Joe's haul

Trader Joe’s haul

Here’s what I got:

-red potatoes (potatoes are okay now on Whole30, but in limited quantities)

-bite sized heirloom tomatoes (I’m planning on oven roasting those tonight for bunless burgers, the rest of the roasted tomatoes will go on salads and into eggs for the week)

-baby kale (I LOVE BABY KALE. And I swear I was a kale hater for the longest time.)

-blueberries (for my sweet tooth)

-chunky spicy guacamole (again for our bunless burgers, also GREAT on eggs)

-persian cucumbers (for salads and to throw in my sodastream water)

-limes (again, for salads and to crush into water)

-chai tea (not 100% sure this is compliant, but I am hoping!)

Right now I’m enjoying a glass of raspberry infused soda water.

raspberry soda water

raspberry soda water

I got a soda stream for Christmas, which is exciting – even though I will have to give up my precious Diet Dr. Pepper/producer fuel for my Whole30. It’s okay. I am ready to experience some headaches, but I am going to sub in tea.

So that’s that!

Have you ever tried to change your eating habits? If so how did it go?

On Injury & Finding the Silver Lining

One of my favorite quotes is from this documentary 180 degrees south. It’s from Yvon Chouinard, the climber and many who founded Patagonia (a company I passionately support, and no I don’t get free stuff from them)

He said “The word adventure has gotten overused. For me, when everything goes wrong, that’s when adventure starts”

Training for a marathon is an adventure – lots of stuff goes wrong. You get a strange ache in your knee, which turns into pain in your IT band. Foam rollers, and any sort of self massage contraptions quickly become your friends. I was heading out for my last 16 mile run before the marathon. I decided I would run along the C&O canal, which had been my favorite route this year. I was about 2.5 miles from home, and all of the sudden my left foot hit a rock funny, and it folded under me. I heard a loud pop and felt pain.

I sprained my ankle. It was swollen, it was purple, blue and green. A doctor at urgent care handed be crutches and orders not to run for at least 2 weeks. I definitely cried.

this was a few days out

this was a few days out

But then I decided that I wouldn’t look at this as a failure, or as the 15 weeks of training a waste. I took the time to heal, and last week I started running regularly again.

My ankle is not back to where it was, and neither is my running. But my adventure has begun. I’m thinking about how to get back in shape. I’ve registered for a half marathon in April, and I’m going to try to focus on 5Ks and 10Ks to get my speed up.

I’m disappointed that I couldn’t try for that sub-4:00:00 marathon this year. It still makes me sad to think about it. But I managed to get out of town the weekend of the marathon, and I saw some amazing stuff.

It's hard to stay mad at not being able to run a marathon when this is the view on your first run post-injury.

It’s hard to stay mad at not being able to run a marathon when this is the view on your first run post-injury.

I was happy to head down to one of my favorite places on earth – the Outer Banks. The weather was amazing, abundant sunshine and temps in the upper 60s. That gave J & I plenty of opportunities to walk on the boardwalk along the Currituck sound.

Hi Mr. Heron!

Hi Mr. Heron!

I also had plenty of chances to sleep at night (a treat from working the night shift) and to knit!

My latest project!

My latest project!

I’m currently working on June’s Favorite Cardigan, which I think will come in handy for the 3am chill that seems to set in on the overnight shift at work.

I’m slowly getting back to normal running-wise. I’m trying to take it easy on myself. Coming back from an injury is no joke. I’m also trying to focus on some strength work to compliment my running.

Have you ever had to come back from an injury? 

What have you done to pass the time while injured? 

Some days

So I am 2 days (or nights) back into my night shift work. I get in at 11am, and leave when most people are on their way to work at 7am.

There is so much to be mindful of on this shift. It’s challenging. Running, so far, has been a perfect compliment. A month or two ago, I’m not sure if this would have been the case. That’s because I’ve gotten to a point in my running where my mind just kind of floats along. It no longer tries to fight some elaborate tug of war with my body. It no longer screams “NO!” when I pick up the pace to new to me marathon pace. It just floats along, and listens to music, or thinks about the people who inspire me. Sometimes I am sure I have thoughts while I am running, but I can’t remember them afterwards. It’s kind of like those dreams you know you have, but can only remember strange odd little snippets that make no sense whatsoever.

Finn dog

It totally helps that this guy greets me after every single one of my runs, and every morning when I get home from work. He is a little noisy during the day, as he tries to protect our tiny apartment from any potential intruders, neighbors, or common area cleaning people.

So that’s about it, so far, my shift-related fears of being constantly exhausted, never having the motivation to go for a run have been unfounded. I guess we should all check back in a month … but so far, so good.

End of the week!

We are conditioned to love Fridays. I remember the feeling of getting out of school on Friday afternoon, having the whole weekend ahead to hang out with friends, play in the yard, watch Saturday morning cartoons, and ride my big wheel up and down the driveway.

Now my weekend activities have changed – I’ve ditched the big wheel for an array of running shoes. More time at home means that I get to spend more time with my dude, and Friday is the start of my “getting stuff done” time.

This Friday, after I got home from work, I went for a quick, 6 mile run. One of the things I love about living in the DC area is that my runs through the city and surrounding area feel like I am running through a series of postcards.

This view, right?

After my run I grabbed a salad at Chop’t and headed home to spend some time with my dude, and some time knitting. I cannot tell you how great it is to sit and knit after a long run. I still feel like I am doing something, but I am not having to move my tired legs all around.

Here’s what I’ve got on tap for this weekend in terms of running:

Saturday – 6 easy miles
Sunday – 16 mile long run

I am really, really keeping my fingers crossed that I can hit my 16 mile long run pace. I’m suppose to run 9:18 per mile, and for some reason, unless I am in a race, it’s been hard to get my pace up there. Perhaps I am just defaulting to my long marathon training run pace. In any case, I know I can run at 9:18 per mile, it’s just a matter of doing it.

Less Than Six Weeks!

Ahh I can’t believe that in less than 6 weeks I will be lining up at the start line for the Marine Corps Marathon!

This will be my third marathon (I ran Steamtown in 2012 and the Outer Banks Marathon in 2011). Unlike my previous marathons, I am using the Hanson’s Marathon Method as my training. If you haven’t heard of Hanson’s before, it’s a plan that emphasizes higher mileage and higher quality runs. (Higher quality is just their way of saying more runs at or near your marathon pace. Makes sense to run at that pace right?)

The training has been intense, but good. I feel like I am building confidence, and that my goal (of a sub 4:00 marathon) is in sight if I can stay healthy!

Today I’ve got a 9 mile pace run on tap. At first I dreaded the pace runs, but now I try to see them as an awesome challenge, and an opportunity to shine. Plus, running at a pace that is a good bit below what you’ve run in a half marathon isn’t so bad!

The other exciting news is that I made it into Oiselle’s Flock! I am a huge believer in Oiselle as a company (as an aside, they aren’t compensating or paying me in any way to write this). A female-driven company that makes functional and fashionable running gear is right up my alley. They’ve got a host of great pros too (Lauren Fleshman, Kara Goucher and Kate Grace to name 3 of my running idols!). I am super excited to meet other members of The Flock, and to be a part of this amazing community of female runners.

My other challenge coming down the pike – I will be shifting to an overnight schedule starting on Sunday night. I’m a journalist, and news doesn’t stop in the middle of the night! I’ll be working from 11pm to 7am and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to sleep and keep up with my training plan. I know it’s bound to be a little challenging at first, but I am really keeping my fingers and toes crossed that it will work out! That is really my one anxiety right now – how I’ll balance running with working that overnight shift. Any positive vibes sent my way are greatly appreciated!

Have you ever worked an overnight shift? Any good tips?

What are you looking forward to this fall?