A weekend of spoiling

I am ending this weekend feeling very, very loved!

It started with flowers on Friday for Military Spouse Appreciation Day –¬†I think this is the first year Brian has remembered this day… ūüôā The flowers are beautiful but if you look closely, it looks like there is cabbage or something in the middle which made me laugh. B said it was called something like the Western Mountain Mix, so it is a good reminder of our time together at Malmstrom AFB in Montana ;).

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I also got my favorite types of gifts – the homemade preschool Mother’s Day gifts! Audrey made me a votive candle holder and Caroline made me a sweet little trinket box.

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On Saturday, something unusual happened: Brian and I each took one girl for the morning, so we got one-on-one time with them. Brian was volunteering at a rocket egg drop competition and since he & Audrey are space lovers/nerds ( ūüôā ), she went with him. Caroline and I spent the morning running errands, shopping at Target, making a Starbucks trip, and running around the playground.

 

This morning I started my day off with a 10.5 mile run (so hard, hilly, hot – ick! Good prep for Historic Half, hopefully), and then I came home to get ready for brunch with my ladies (and Brian) in Georgetown. After brunch, we walked around a little bit and visited Lululemon and Georgetown Cupcake, two of my favorite places. Lululemon was giving moms mini-Reisling bottles and dark chocolate. It’s like they knew I was coming – those are my two favorite things ever!

One thing that I have been working on since the New Year¬†has been¬†consuming less sugar. I guess it’s working because for the first time ever, I¬†took a bite of my cupcake and couldn’t finish it. It was too sweet for me!

After we got home and napped, we whipped out the sprinkler! We had to practically drag them back inside – they loved it. I’m sure it will be out constantly from this point on.

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It was a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend, and my sweet little things were so loving and affectionate. I could not ask for more – they are the best gifts!

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Filed under Celebrations, Family, Fitness, Georgetown, Home, Kids, Lilly Pulitzer, military, Military Life, Montana, Ristorante Piccolo, Run, Running, Washington DC, Wine

Nike Women’s Half Marathon recap {4/27/14}

This race last year was my PR half marathon race at 1:54 (official clock time = 1:55). That put a little bit of pressure on me to run another PR this time around but for many reasons, that didn’t happen. I have mixed feelings on not making it, but¬†it really wasn’t my day, and when it all comes down to it, I am not as well prepared as I was last year. I’ve also been opting more to run pressure-free races because that is far more enjoyable. Then again, when I cross the finish line in a slower time than I’ve seen before, I am not always happy about it, so it’s a balance I am still working on.

Anyway, I LOVE this race. I think this may be my favorite DC race, and it’s only 2 years old! I had a wonderful experience at last year’s inaugural Nike Women’s 1/2 DC, and this year’s logistics and experience were even better. One thing that I didn’t like about last year’s race was that packet pick-up was in Georgetown only, and that is really inconvenient for a lot of people. Nike listened, though, and offered early packet pickup for locals at a few area running stores. This was so much better! Another complaint that I heard from people last year was that the course was so crowded. I didn’t really feel that as much because I was in the second pace corral (and not many were in the first)¬†so we were towards the front, but the people behind were pretty bottle-necked. Nike fixed that, too, by using a wave start this year. They also cleaned up the finisher/celebration area and organized it better, and we got lots more goodies (awesome NWM water bottles that were pre-filled with water, huge bottles of chocolate milk, a goodie bag from Whole Foods, etc)…AND the necklace was a huge improvement over last year’s. I might actually wear mine this time around! AND Shalane Flanagan & Joan Benoit Samuelson opened the race AND ran it – this was less than a week after Boston. Bad ass.

The course itself was really fun and picturesque. The finish line photos with the Capitol in the background underscore that for sure. ¬†I was so happy they revamped the course so that we weren’t hanging around so close to the finish line for 2-3 miles this year, unlike last year – that was torture! Instead, we did that part at the beginning of the race this year. Running through the tunnel at mile 1.5-2 was so fun and LOUD, especially with the drum band there. There was also a lit-up We Run DC sign there, and we got to run through the tunnel twice. The energy was crazy! I wish I had taken a picture, but I am not one of those people who can do that while running. The bands on the course were awesome (including Mason’s Green Machine right before Hains Point!), and little C LOVED the drum band at the finish line – spontaneous toddler dance party? Check!

There¬†were two areas with HUGE TV screens that played personalized messages to you as you crossed a certain point. One was at the halfway mark and the other was at the 20K. It was so cool to see your name up there! There were Shot Blok stations, Luna bar stations, and even a Whole Foods chocolate stop at mile 11…I’m not sure who can eat chocolate at mile 11 of a half marathon when it isn’t next to a water station, but based on the wrappers on the ground, some people did! Nike really rolled out the red carpet for all of the runners. The spectators were awesome, too! There were even some on Hains Point which is so unusual.

I swiped some pictures from the Run Nike Women FB page because they did such a great job capturing some of the fun aspects of the race:

My race was not so pretty, but I tried to enjoy the atmosphere. I thought I had had enough bathroom trips prior to the start of the race (is 2 not enough?!) but ended up veering off at mile 3 to make another quick stop. At this point, I felt¬†like my goal of PRing was gone, but I knew I would end up stopping at some point along the course, and since I was in Wave 1 and towards the front of the pack, I decided to stop when there were no lines. I was also fighting a sinus infection during the race (started w/ a sore throat that Friday night…), and breathing was tough (though definitely not as tough as running w/ bronchitis!) I started getting chills¬†at mile 7 or 8, and ended up¬†taking a¬†walki break¬†because it freaked me out. I didn’t know if it was from dehydration or being sick, but why play with fire? I texted Brian at that point (first time ever texting someone mid-race) to say I was really struggling and not feeling well, but he told me that I needed to get my butt to the finish because I had two sweet cheerleaders on their way! I made it a goal to run until water stops and then take as long of a walk break as needed. I should say I had an awful race, but once I accepted¬†that a PR was not happening and decided instead to enjoy the race, I had a much better time. Final Garmin time was 2:04 and change. Maybe someday this season I will hit my sub-2 1/2 marathon again…if not, whatever!¬†There is always next fall during marathon training! I have two more chances this spring, but they will be challenging halves!

 

Sorry if this post is disjointed – it feels like it is to me, but I am still in my sinus infection-induced haze, so who knows! Long story short – I love this race, and can’t wait for next year’s!

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Filed under Fitness, George Mason University, Marathon, Race, Races, Racing, Run, Running, Washington DC

Parkway Classic 10-Miler recap {4/13/14}

We had a really beautiful day for the 30th anniversary running of the Parkway Classic 10-Miler! Not quite as nice as last week’s Cherry Blossom 10-Miler (just because yesterday was a little too warm), but beautiful nonetheless. The perk of the weather was that it was completely unnecessary to layer for the wait at the start line.

Speaking of the start line,¬†that was the only aspect of the race that left something to be desired. Last year’s start was flawlessly executed, and usually Pacers is so on top of their race game, but it was a bit wonky yesterday. This race is point-to-point starting at Mount Vernon, so racers had to be bused to the start line. Buses apparently ran late (we got there early), and a huge chunk of them arrived 5 minutes before the race was supposed to start. This delayed the start of the race by a few minutes which, in my mind, is not a big deal. However, because the buses were pulling into (and therefore blocking) the starting corrals, there were a good chunk of runners outside the¬†corrals waiting for the buses to get through. Other runners were just cutting right in front of the buses and preventing their departure, and in retrospect, maybe that should have been what we did, too, but we were trying to be patient! We thought, “well, the race is already starting late, so they will DEFINITELY let all runners into the corrals before starting, right?” Wrong. They started the race abruptly and all of us on the outside were like, “uh, what?” and then came the mad dash to get into the corral. This resulted in us being in the 11-11:59 min/mile corral instead of the 8-8:59 min/mile corral (huge difference!), and definitely cost us some time in the first mile.

Anyway, the rest of the race was gorgeous, with a good chunk of it running right along the Potomac River. So pretty! There were tons of rolling hills which offered a little bit of a challenge, but they were totally manageable. The course flattened out around mile 6 and stayed pretty flat until miles 8-9. I think the biggest hills came in 8-9, actually. We ran a pretty strong, steady race, and we even negative split! I rarely do that, so that is an accomplishment. We also ran the last mile at 8:11, which was our fastest pace of the day Рthat is an accomplishment in itself! 

It started getting really warm in the last half of the race, and there wasn’t much shade cover. We haven’t trained for warm-weather runs yet, and this reminded me of the unpleasantness of summer marathon training. Blech. I ended up with some color on my face after this run!

Despite all of the weird hiccups (wonky start line, crazy heat, some hills), we finished in 1:28. Not a PR, but still a strong race! I was telling my running buddy, Danny, that I feel more unprepared this spring than last year (I got in way more training mileage last year!), so I would be happy to just finish strong, and I think we did!

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Next up for me is Nike Women’s 1/2 Marathon (my current PR half marathon of just under 1:55) on Apr 27, which has been my “goal race” all season. The initial goal was to PR, but I’m not sure what my goal is now that I am farther into the training cycle. Maybe it will be just to run sub-2, maybe it will still be to PR…who knows!

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Filed under Fitness, Marathon, Race, Races, Racing, Run, Running, Washington DC

Cherry Blossom 10-Miler recap {4/6/14}

Wow, what a beautiful spring morning for a 10-mile race in DC! This was the view that greeted me after getting off the Metro:

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And this was the view that greeted all runners approaching the start line:

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I ran this race last year & loved it, so, unlike the morning of Rock ‘n’ Roll USA 1/2 Marathon, I was really excited. This race has to be one of my favorites! There is nothing quite like running through DC, around monuments, the Tidal Basin, and the cherry blossoms to kick off the spring! I don’t think you can get any more quintessentially DC than this race.

My main¬†goal for this race was to run a strong one. I only ran¬†5 miles¬†last week because of a swollen foot arch, and a really tender/painful foot/ankle. I spent the week icing & resting, but¬†had no idea what impact it would have on¬†this race. After RnR USA, another goal was to¬†fight through the whole thing,¬†even if/when I wanted to stop. I am working on trying to build up my mental grit again. I definitely had it last year, but in my mind, I proved everything I set out to prove, so I sort of feel like I’ve lost some of the drive.

With all of that being said, I had a great race! There were definitely tough moments, but I pushed through and kept going. I am really happy with how I ran. It was about a minute shy of my PR (which was last year’s Cherry Blossom), but I am fine with it. I didn’t go out intending to PR, and all my 10-mile races have been within the same 1.5 minute time range, so I’m happy to be on par with last year.¬†I was way more diligent with getting my miles in last year, whereas I look back at this training cycle and it feels so helter skelter to me!

I tried to run¬†using Runners’ World’s Timeless Challenge, which implements zone (yellow, orange, red) running; I’m not sure that it worked for me this time, but I want to explore this further. It was a last minute decision for me to run this way, so maybe it would have worked out better if I’d had more mental preparation/practice. I went out too fast in this race because with your adrenaline pumping, it’s easy to feel like you’re running at a more leisurely pace (yellow zone) in the first few miles than you actually are. For me, I rely heavily on my GPS watch in the first few miles as a way to slow myself down. Without that, I basically sprinted the first 4 miles (um, 7:12 pace at mile 4?!), and then couldn’t really push myself into the red zone at the end. Also, Hain’s Point really zapped me of my energy this time around – ugh, such a hard, boring part of the course. Oh well – you live & learn!

Splits:

Mile 1 – 8:20 min/mile

Mile 2 – 8:17 min/mile

Mile 3 – 8:21 min/mile

Mile 4 – 7:12 min/mile (can that be right?!)

Mile 5 – 8:51 min/mile

Mile 6 – 8:32 min/mile

Mile 7 – 9:14 min/mile (leisurely water stop!)

Mile 8 – 8:56 min/mile

Mile 9 – 8:54 min/mile

Mile 10 – 8:41 min/mile

Final – 1:27:51

I love looking at the RunPix data for runs! Here are mine:

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A fun perk at the end of this race was my friend (and bridesmaid!) Katelyn spotting me in the finisher area. Neither of us knew the other was going to be there, so it was unexpected and really great to see her. What are the chances?! Also – pink race shirts, woo!

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New York City or bust

Last Wednesday, I received an unexpected email in my inbox (and no, this is not an April Fools’ joke):

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To say I was taken by surprise would be an understatement. I entered my name into the lottery back in February, but assured Brian that there was absolutely no way I would ever get in this year. My plan was to enter the lottery as many years¬†as it took to get in, and then¬†to run it without question whichever year I was actually accepted.¬†Because I don’t live in NYC, it is a bucket list, once-in-a-lifetime race for me. It just happened to come a lot earlier than expected/planned! This race has a lottery acceptance rate of 10-15%; 77,000 people applied for lottery entry, but only 9,000 were accepted. Eesh! No wonder I didn’t expect to be one of them!

I am a little overwhelmed (but still excited!) at the prospect of running it because this is now not only a marathon, but an adventure! I was signed up for MCM and Richmond this fall (with MCM being a training marathon & Richmond being my PR-goal marathon), but will more than likely defer Richmond to next year. The plan right now is to sloooowly run MCM and then do NYCM the next weekend. That plan is a little intimidating, but I just can’t fathom not being at MCM with Fisher House on October 26. Obviously doing two marathons a week apart means I will probably have to sacrifice performance time, but I think I am okay with that (Brian¬†begs to differ). I am not sure I even want to run NYCM for time, either – I sort of want to enjoy the experience and not rush through it! We’ll see how things go… ūüôā

Here are some Rock ‘n’ Roll USA pictures – I look like I was having more fun than I was! The not-so-happy pictures were fewer than I thought, actually…

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Filed under Fisher House, Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, New York City, New York City Marathon, NYCM, Races, Run, Running, Team Fisher House, Washington DC

Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half Marathon Recap and Reflections {3/15/14}

Hmmm, how to start this…

This was my 5th half marathon, and I did not have a good time at this race. I simply did not want to be there and it showed in my time. I think this race came too soon after B got back, and all I wanted was to be at home with everyone. It is also not my favorite course or race, and it was a logistical pain in the butt for me. I was so paranoid about it that I woke up at 3:45am and ended up at the starting line 2 hours (!) before race time because of my fear of the huge crowds (there were 25,000 runners!) and not getting there on time. That, paired with an additional 20-25 minute wait to cross the start line (wave start), just added to my desire to be anywhere but there. I was over it before it even started. I even texted Brian before the start that I wanted to come home and didn’t want to race at all!

I started off the race trying to shake off my bad attitude, and even paced myself well for the first half. I held back at the start and forced myself to slow down after starting at 8:10 min/miles, and up until mile 7-8, I was averaging around 8:40-8:45 min/miles which I would have been thrilled with at the end. My heart and head were not in it, though, and by mile 5, I was ready to be finished. The huge hill of this course comes at mile 6 (exiting Rock Creek & heading into Georgetown), and then there was another sizable hill in mile 7, and I think those were the catalysts to my complete loss of interest in the race. I started alternating between walking & running at mile 9 (?) – even considered texting Brian to tell him how miserable I was, but refused to stoop that low (ha). If I had really pushed myself at mile 10, I still could have finished sub-2, but I just didn’t care enough to fight for it. Knowing it wasn’t my goal race did not help my apathy, either.

And guys – I DIDN’T EVEN SMILE FOR THE CAMERAS (well, most of them). YOU KNOW THIS WAS A BAD RACE WHEN I COULDN’T EVEN MANAGE THAT! I ran a 7-miler with BRONCHITIS and still smiled for all of the cameras! This was clearly dire ūüėČ .

My final time was 2:03:34. Despite my bad race, I still finished in the top third(ish) of all competitors, top 30% of age division, and top 26% of women so there’s that, I guess…

Splits:

5K = 27:45, 10K = 56:59, 10 miles = 1:32:58.

Something that Brian reminded me of when I got home was the difference in treadmill training vs. actually pounding the pavement, simply from an impact perspective. He asked me if my legs felt tired/sore earlier, and when I thought about it, they had. I noticed it during the race but didn’t really connect the dots. I’m sure it was because my training over the past 2-3 months has almost exclusively been on the treadmill (thank you weather + military life). Honestly, when I was sprinting to the finish of this race, my legs felt like they were sprinting to the finish of MCM (and they felt like I had just run a marathon for the rest of the day, too). I haven’t gotten any hill training in, and this race is pretty hilly in the second half. At least my days of single parenthood are over for a while and I can get outside for runs again – gotta get used to the pavement impact and hills again!

Another more sobering feeling that has been running through my mind (even prior to this race) is burn-out. I went all out last year in terms of my race schedule, and while it was rewarding, it was also exhausting. I have a packed spring race schedule this year, too, but I’m not sure if my desire to push myself is there. I am prepared to run them, but I almost want to run them for FUN, not for time. At the same time, though, I know that my very competitive nature will be annoyed if I don’t meet time goals. UGH, such a catch-22. But isn’t running supposed to be fun?! I’ve lost that feeling lately. Waking up at 5am to squeeze runs in isn’t fun. Running on the treadmill isn’t fun. Feeling like I don’t have a spare minute in my day isn’t fun. Hopefully these feelings improve now that Brian is back and I have room to breathe again, but I guess time will tell. I’m not really sure what the solution is, but I’m trying to incorporate more cross-training just to give myself a break.

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And in HAPPY news, GO HOOS! It was so fun to watch the ACC Tournament this weekend, especially because we are not used to being on the winning side! Caroline wasn’t quite sure what was going on, but she cheered along saying, “GO, HOOS, GO! HURRY, HURRY, HURRY!” in her sweet little baby voice!

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Filed under Celebrations, Charlottesville, Family, Fitness, Georgetown, Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, military, Military Life, Race, Races, Racing, Run, Running, University of Virginia, Washington DC

Tap, tap – is this thing still on?

There has obviously been a substantial amount of time since my last update (2 months!) but I just did not feel open to sharing what was going on with us. B is active duty military, and was gone basically from the beginning of 2014 until just this past Saturday. I didn’t feel the need to widely publicize his absence or anything about how we were getting along without him, whether it be for safety reasons, self-preservation reasons, denial, whatever. Also, I was simply focused on survival, which seemed especially difficult in the boring, depressing, hum-drum winter months. I’m so glad spring is on its way because I cannot take any more snow (especially since I have been solo-shoveling all winter!).

It has been a long two months and, even though we eventually found our groove, I am so glad it is over. Audrey outwardly struggled with B being gone and it manifested itself as some pretty challenging behavior. Caroline really missed him, too, but her sadness surfaced more in short-lived spurts that could easily be cured with snuggles and reassuring words. Audrey would have scream fests in her room whereas Caroline would randomly say things like, “huh, I miss Daddy,” and then would continue with whatever she was doing. When Brian came back, it was like a weight was lifted off Audrey’s shoulders, and I think you can definitely see that in the immediate reunion pictures. And even though I am about 100x more efficient when Brian is gone (as any military spouse can relate to!), we ALL feel so much relief & happiness now, and we are in that super appreciative phase of family life (honeymoon phase!) that comes after separations.

Moving right along – spring race season is starting up soon (aka: this Saturday!) with the first race being Rock ‘n’ Roll USA. I have kept up with my training pretty well since Brian has been gone (treadmill = Godsend) which is sort of a surprise to me since I didn’t know how my training time would be impacted. I ended up getting up at 5am for 95% of my runs, even on weekends – so hard, but it also set a good tone for the rest of the day & was the one guaranteed time I had to get it done. I have been constantly exhausted, though! ūüėČ When I looked at my training log summary this morning, I noticed that I only missed ONE long run since he’s been gone (not counting the one I skipped on Sunday so that I could fully enjoy family time after he got back). That was a happy surprise for me, and I am proud that I powered through and got it done, especially since every run was on the treadmill which is complete torture for 10-11 miles! That being said, I don’t really know what to expect with Saturday’s race but am cautiously optimistic and interested to see what happens. I am counting it as my litmus test for what I need to focus on before my goal half marathon, which is Nike Women’s 1/2 Marathon on April 27.

Speaking of race season, Fisher House fundraising has begun! The new link is on the sidebar if you are interested in supporting this amazing organization again!

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