Tag Archives: race recap

Broad Street Run 10 Miler – Race Recap / Review

Totally tried to get this up yesterday but it just didn’t happen for me. Too much fun this weekend made for a SLEEPY Monday. Also, it’s raining and cold here which doesn’t facilitate getting pumped up for a Monday. This weekend Mike and I participated in the Broad Street Run in Philadelphia. I jump at the chance to run races in Philly because that is where my best-friend and lady-life partner Sarah lives. Over the past three years of her living in Philly and me in DC, we’ve gotten really good at making the trip and I feel like her friends in Philly are my friends now too! Friday night, we made the trip up I-95N. Saturday included breakfast at Schlesinger’s, a good stretch out at Philly Power Yoga (post coming later this week), a trip down to Lincoln Financial Field to get our race packets, watching the Derby on South Street, and dinner on Rittenhouse Square. Also, Juno was on TV. Whoot whoot! Sunday was, of course, RACE DAY. Here’s how it went.

The race didn’t start until 8:30 pm but you had to take the Broad Street Line subway to get to the start. Races that involve taking public transportation make me nervous (I had an almost calamity at the Baltimore Half Marathon) so we were up and on a train at 6:15 am. We arrived at about 6:40 and then just waited around for almost two hours, which was not my favorite part. Add to that… it was FREEZING and WINDY. Also, they claimed that bag check closed at 8:00 am so I had to part with my warm layers (I should have just done throwaway clothes) for a whole 30 minutes before race start.

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The starting area was CROWDED. Huge lines everywhere, massive crowds trying to move around, and people were getting restless / feisty. It wasn’t my most pleasant pre-race experience. At one point, I was trying to get to my corral and I just stood, stuck in a massive, unmoving crowd for legitimately 15 minutes. I never actually made it to my corral. I saw a break in the fence and just hopped in. The corrals were not being strictly enforced at all anyways, and I was getting cranky so I needed to RUN.

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Mercifully, I finally crossed the starting line and got going. However, at that exact moment the clouds broke and the sun starting beating down hard. By mile one, I was baking in my long sleeved jacket. I knew I was going to be miserable if I kept it on so I pulled over for a quick minute to remove my layer (I was wearing a tank top underneath), quickly re situate, and get back on the road. I ended up losing about a minute and a half of time, which is fine but kind of annoying. The race course and the crowd support was EXCELLENT. You start all the way up Broad street in North Philly and run a straight shot down Broad, around City Hall, through Center City, and down to the Navy Yard in South Philly.

You know how some days are just great running days? This was not one of those days. My legs just felt tired pretty much the whole race. I was holding a great pace but it felt tough. By mile 5, I was getting tired and I thought to myself “Uh oh, I still have 5 miles to go and I’m already tired.” When I start getting tired during a race, I try and use my ego to my own advantage. I stuck to the outside of the course, so I wouldn’t be tempted to walk in front of all the spectators. Hey, whatever you gotta do right? Coming around City Hall was awesome and I knew that my friends would be on Broad between City Hall and South Street. I saw Sarah (and gave her a high five) but missed Kristy (womp womp). Then it was another ~ 4 miles to go. I was on pace to meet my 10 mile PR from December and, even though I was tired and my knee was starting to hurt a little, I was not going to let up. I kicked it into high gear for the last half a mile and flew to the finish line.

Unfortunately, there was a HUGE backup of people at the finish line, so I was forced to stop completely 1 step across the finish line. Not ideal. I clicked off my watch and didn’t even look at it while I tried to navigate this massive clog of people. When I finally got funneled into the finish area and looked at my watch, I realized that I set a new PR by 4 seconds! 1:31:47 by my clock. However, this is an unofficial PR since my chip time was a 90 seconds longer thanks to my stop to change my shirt. Irritating, but that’s ok. I’ll keep my PR from December for now but I am gunning for a sub 1:30 10 miler this Fall.

I picked up my medal and my finisher food (which was BALLER by the way. Major points for this Broad Street Run. Soft pretzels and a bag of delicious goodies) and made my way into the finish area. If the start area was crowded, the finish area was worse. Mike and I had decided to meet up at the Dunkin Donuts tent. I realized immediately this was a huge mistake, because they were giving out free drink and donut samples. It was mobbed. It took us over 30 minutes to find each other because apparently our bag check bus was late and Mike had to wait for a while to get his cell phone back. After we met up, we took a couple pictures and high tailed it to the subway. Thankfully, that was not as bad as I thought it would be. We got on a train easily and were back in Center City by noon. [As a note, many runners at Broad Street wore Red Socks as a tribute to Boston. It was a really nice touch! And for interested parties, Mike ran approx 1:10. He’s really coming back from his injury and doing great!]

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In summation: Broad Street was super fun and energetic! You really get a taste of Philly and that rocks. Logistically, this race is challenging because of the huge crowds and small start / finish areas. I’m so glad we did it and maybe we will in a few years, but not next year.

After bagels and showers back at Sarah’s, we cabbed up to the Northern Liberties for a post race celebration of beer, jenga, and ping pong at Frankford Hall. I wasn’t feeling 100% (I got an exercise induced headache after the race) so I stuck to soda and agreed to be our designated driver. I didn’t mind at all, we had so much fun! By 7 pm, Mike and I were on the road back to DC. We hated to leave Philly (and Sarah) but we’ll be back again VERY soon!

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Questions for you guys:

  • Have you ever run Broad Street? What did you think?
  • Did you race this weekend?
  • Favorite beer?
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Mud Dog Run – Race Recap / Review

This weekend I finally bit the bullet and did my first mud / obstacle race. And let me just… believe they hype because they are SO MUCH FUN. This Saturday, my friend Haley (from Bring it Om) and I participated in the Mud Dog Run at Ceresville Mansion in Frederick, Maryland. This was a 5K race with 21 obstacles throughout. Despite being pretty bruised and scraped up today, I would do it again in a heart beat.

We were running in wave 2, which started at 10:45 am. This made for a VERY leisurely race morning. We left around 9 am and arrived right around 10 am. After signing a pretty extensive waiver, we got our numbers and took the obligatory “pre-race” photo. Mike was, once again, amazing and served as our photographer / bag holder during the race. I wore a super old pair of sneakers that I retired from my running rotation about a year ago. I didn’t mind if they got totally ruined. I decided that the less clothing the better, since I didn’t want to get weighed down in heavy wet clothes. Since Saturday was the one year anniversary of my marathon, I decided to wear my geeky 26.2 tech shirt and spandex shorts. People were wearing all KINDS of awesome costumes. Haley and I always forget to coordinate our outfits or plan costumes … rats.

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Registration was a breeze and well set up. Since the race went off in waves, there were never big lines for anything (bathrooms, food, beer, NOTHING). I loved this.

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We watched the winner from wave 1 come across in like 25 minutes, which was pretty impressive. Haley ad I decided that our goal should be to not double his time. Then it was time for us to line up for our wave. This guy led everyone in a little warm up but it was kind of too crowded for everything he wanted us to do. I completely skipped the burpees because I saw like 5 people get kicked in the face. I love burpees but I’ll do them on my own time. The horn sounded and off we went!

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Very naively, I thought this wouldn’t be that hard. It was only a 5k and you never ran very far without stopping at an obstacle. Built in running break, right? WRONG. It was so much harder than I thought it would be! The obstacles were awesome and SUPER fun, but they were challenging. We ran between every obstacle but at times we were feeling pretty tired! I obviously didn’t bring a camera out on the course with me so I borrowed the following photos from the race’s Facebook page. Photo credits.

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All the obstacles were stupid fun. Some were definitely harder and scarier than others, but we went through every single one! The balance beam was great because almost everyone around us fell in except us! Hooray for yogis who have sweet balance. Before the second mile marker, we ended up kind of adopting this little girl who was out on the course by herself. She ran ahead of her sisters so we kept her with us and helped her through the obstacles. She was so cute. At one point I found myself thinking, “Hmmm I dunno I mean I’m more wet than muddy…” but then in the final 4 obstacles there were two giant MUD PITS. It was like wading through sludge but the hardest part is getting OUT of them. The hills getting out were super steed and completely slick with mud. It was really hard for me to do it and the little girl was totally stuck. We ended up pulling her out of the pit with Haley at the top of the hill holding my ankles, me on my stomach reaching in, and a third person giving the little girl a boost. It was a serious team effort, I loved it!

We got out of the last mud pit, jumped over the fire logs, and headed to the finish line!

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Mike had a great spot for pictures and got this gem of us crossing the finish line together! 44:29 not too shabby for us! And we met our goal to not double that guy’s time 🙂

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Post race we were looking pretty fantastic with our Mud Dog Run pint glasses (awesome finisher item in my opinion).

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You can’t really see from the picture but my right knee is actually bleeding. BAD ASS.

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First order of business was to CHANGE. We went over to the car to peel off our muddy clothes, towel off, and change. Mike was pretty impressed by our ability to change modestly in public with just one towel each. Girls are so multi-talented.

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After we changed the first order of business was BEER. The race was sponsored by Flying Dog which is one of my FAVORITE beers ever. I had the Woody Creek Belgian Whit and it was… amazeballs. My favorite is the In Heat Wheat Hefeweizen but they didn’t have that at the race.

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We found a couple chairs to plop down and drink our beers. I wasn’t super hungry but Haley and Mike both got the pulled pork sandwich, which was apparently delicious.

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All around… an amazing way to spend a Saturday. We had SO much fun at this race and I can’t wait to do another one. Cleaning up was of course a very different story. I washed my clothes and towel separately TWICE with sport detergent. After a took a shower, I had to then clean the tub with bleach to get all the dirt and mud out. My shoes are outside on the balcony right now and I still haven’t decided what I am going to do with them. I’m thinking let them dry, bang them off, then wash them in the washing machine?

Questions for you guys:

  • Have you ever done a mud / obstacle race before? Which one?
  • What is your favorite beer?
  • How do you get sneakers clean after a mud run?

Crystal Run 5K Friday – Race Recap

In honor of the Spring of Speed… I ACTUALLY raced my very first 5K this weekend. I’ve done it a number of times in training (a 5K “time trial” of sorts), but I’ve never raced an actual 5K race. To be honest, last week kinda stunk just for a number of silly little reasons. It wasn’t “my” week and I was VERY grateful when it was after 5 on Friday. I didn’t have high hopes for this 5K even though I really wanted to do well. I was having a crappy week, I accidentally brought long pants thinking they were capris (it was kind of warm) and my hair tie broke as I was putting my hair in a race ponytail. I also neglected to charge or pack my Garmin. I didn’t really feel ready.

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But luckily, Mike agreed to run with me since he isn’t really in racing shape right now (Mike’s 5K PR is like 19 minutes and change, so we’re not really in the same league usually). I showed up, picked up my number, ditched my bag, and I even went for a warm up jog (which I don’t normally do… but now I’m thinking perhaps I should?).  We saw / chatted with a couple people, including my brother’s roommate (who is like super hardcore / in the military so we definitely weren’t running with him).

I decided to shoot for a pace of 8:45 min / mile, but had to rely on Mike b/c he was wearing the Garmin. I took off at what I thought / hoped was a hard but maintainable pace. I had to work hard to think about this race differently than I normally do my longer distance races. Even if I went out “too fast”, I wasn’t going to totally bonk / not finish a 5K. I ended up clocking 8:25 for the first mile and I felt good. My legs felt great and could definitely hold that pace. I figured I’d try and hold it for as long as I could and just see how things went!

Around mile 1.8 I started getting this weird burning sensation in my stomach. Normally, I would back off if I felt something like that, but I tried to remember that this was a 5K. According to Mike… the “hurt” of a 5K is different than the “hurt” of a half marathon. I pushed on despite the feeling in my stomach. We clocked mile 2 at 8:25 as well. The final mile was definitely the most challenging, but I did everything I could to dig deep and pull this out. I almost bulldozed a little kid on the course by accident… sorry kid!

Mile 3 clocked in slightly slower at about 8:30, but overall I was really pleased with my ability to hold a steady pace over the course of the race. Mike was, as always, an amazing racing partner because he pushed me when I needed it but also backed off and let me run my race (I can be kind of mean when I’m really focused but he knows it comes from a place of love haha). My legs felt perfect but I was definitely feeling that burning sensation in my stomach / chest. My breathing was hard but not strained or shallow, which was good! (Apparently, these are all feelings you should have while racing a 5K? I dunno I just repeat what people say to me). I was able to muster up a little surge to the finish line, which is always nice.


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As you can see, I raced with my hair down (thank god I had a headband at least!) and I rolled my ankle length tights up to my knees to create makeshift capris. These things were like a vice on my legs though. I’m shocked I didn’t have to amputate both of my legs below the knees to get them off.

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My official finish time was 26:45! Considering before this race the other 5Ks I’ve run were all over 30 minutes, I feel pretty good about that 🙂 New PR to start the weekend!! As always, thank you Pacers for putting on an AWESOME event.

After the race, I enjoyed some Corner Bakery cookies, Vita Coco water, and caught up with a few friends before heading home. It was a lovely night of homemade pizza, beer, and falling asleep by 10:15 pm 🙂

Questions for you guys:

– Do you prefer shorter or longer races? I think I still prefer longer races, but I’m enjoying the new challenge of short.

– Have you ever done a night / evening race before? Thoughts? 

– What is your favorite cookie?? I have a weakness for black and white cookies, but other than that I think my favorite is the snicker doodle!

Surf-n-Santa 10 Miler – Race Recap

Yesterday ended up being just one of those days that got away from me! I feel like I blinked and it was 10:45 pm and I was crawling into bed exhausted. It also didn’t help that I had my eyes refracted at the eye doctor at 10:30 am and spent most of the middle of the day in a blurry fog trying to work without actually being able to see… that was funny! Anyways… here’s my recap of the Surf-n-Santa 10 Miler!

We arrived in Virginia Beach SUPER early on Saturday morning. Driving down after work on Friday night meant we missed the expo on Friday night (no new Hippie Runner headbands for me… wahh). We needed to get our numbers still so we arrived right when it opened at 6:30 am. We were done by 6:33 am… soooo we had lots of time to kill. Mike had not actually run at all since the Philly Marathon because first he hurt his foot and then he got horribly sick. Poor guy was not doing well! He still wanted to run, so we decided to just run together since my pace is very easy for him. We had decided to do 9:30 min / miles for a time of 1:35.

Look how cute our outfits were! (except my sneakers are orange… I didn’t have seasonal footwear!)

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The weather was kinda yucky that day… very overcast and humid. But the temperature was really comfortable milling about at the starting line. Mike was assigned for corral 1, but he lined up with me in Corral 2. We were actually right at the front of our corral, which initially made me nervous. I kept thinking to myself “I don’t belong here in the front of the second corral… this is for real runners.” But then I realized that my number was right at the cut off for corral 1 and 2… I was ALMOST assigned to Corral 1… whhhaattt?? I decided to face my fear of being in the front of the pack. Also How cute are people’s costumes? The course bikers were all dressed up like the Grinch!

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Before I knew it, we were off and running. I just wanted to run and have some fun. As I mentioned… I didn’t think this was going to be a PR day. Virginia Beach in December is a ghost town, so there wasn’t much to focus on but running with Mike, chatting, and taking in everyone’s funny costumes. The 5K and 10 Miler started together and basically did 3 miles together before the 10 milers went out for another 7. At the 10M and 5K split they had these adorable people in gingerbread suits… HOW CUTE.

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Here’s how my race went.

Miles 0 – 3.1: We started out fast. We were hovering between 8:50 – 9:10 for the first 5K. I actually set a 5k PR of 28:43, which isn’t actually that impressive. I’ve only run 2 5Ks ever and both I was just running for fun with a friend. Mike wants me to try racing a 5K but I’m resisting. Perhaps…

Miles 3.1 – 5: I started getting this idea in my head that maybe a new PR wasn’t so impossible after all. My previous PR pace was 9:15 min / miles and I was well under that right now. But then I started doubting myself. I set my 10 Miler PR 6 days before I ran my first marathon. I was in phenomenal shape at that point (if I do say so  myself). I was only at the beginning of my marathon training this time and had not been running / training to the same level. I decided to put the PR in the back of my mind and make a decision at mile 5.

Miles 5 – 6: I decided to go for it! I asked Mike to pace me in for time around the 1:31 range. He happily obliged! We made the turn to head down the boardwalk, which was a long (approx 2 miles) straight away. I also set a 10K PR of 57:15… where was this all coming from??? Maybe I need to seriously start thinking about shorter races more?

Miles 7-9: I really battled these. I was really pushing myself, but I was feeling good. My legs felt awesome, though I was starting to feel a dull ache in my left hip. That was pretty standard for me though… I knew I could push through that. Unfortunately, I started to doubt that I could pull this thing out. I was holding a 9:05 pace according to our watches and it was starting to hurt. I remember thinking to myself “I need to slow down I can’t hold this pace” but then I realized the only reason I thought that was because I was scared. Yeah I was working hard but I was more than capable of handling it. I was gonna do this… even if I killed me. I did have to slow down at one point to around 9:20 because I caught a huge whiff of cigarette smoke from a spectator and almost threw up all over my awesome orange sneakers! Mike was amazing during these miles. He just kept encouraging me and telling me how amazing I was doing. In the back of my mind were two thoughts 1) I need to do this because the pain of doing it will be nothing compared to how disappointed I will feel if I give up, and 2) Mike is going to be so proud of me when we do this together… that alone will be worth it!

Mile 10: Out of nowhere… I busted out an 8:30 mile. Um… I’m sorry, can you repeat that? Yes… an 8:30 FINAL mile in a 10 miler. I’ll be honest, I felt like hell during this mile. I barely said a word (and if you know me you know that is NOT normal) Mike would just be saying encouraging things and I would kind of grunt in agreement.  Literally .1 miles from the finish line, I was just like I CANNOT DO THIS I WANT TO DIE. But Mike was there to push me over the finish line for a 1:31:51 (official) finishing time.

Ignore my “current speed” I clicked off my Garmin after I stopped … so it’s all high and not awesome like my race was!

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I’ll be honest, right when I crossed the finish line I was not a happy camper. I wanted to curse and punch someone… I was SO exhausted. But after about 10 seconds, the elation set in. I just took 40 seconds off my 10 Miler PR!!! Mike and I had a super emotional sweaty hug, which was adorable. I love him ❤

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I’ll say it over and over and over… I’m so grateful for Mike. I don’t know if I could’ve done this without him. He sacrificed his own race to help me achieve a new goal too, which is a perfect example of how selfless he is. He kept saying that he was having a hard time keeping up with me (so yay! I’m fast when Mike has rested for 3 weeks post-marathon and has the flu… SUPER RUNNER!) But he’s is amazing and I just wanted to melt into a puddle of loving goo because I was so happy.

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Then my new bff Sam Adams was like “Yo Christina, I heard you ran a sweet race today… Congrats my dude!” and I said “OMG, that is so sweet of you Sam. Cheers to that! Also, way to go on the Winter Lager man… you totally nailed it!”

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But in all seriousness… this race was not just a PR. I won a lot of mental battles here too. I don’t think I have ever really pushed myself that hard. I normally don’t like that feeling, but this race made me realize that it’s ok for it to hurt. I embraced the pain. I realized… I’ve been running scared for most of the last two years. How good could I get if I let go of my emotional and mental baggage, and just let the athlete in my come through? Mike uses this amazing race mantra I wanted to share. “The first third of the race, find your rhythm  The second third of the race, sharpen your focus. The final third of the race, unleash the monster”.

Consider this monster unleashed.

Philadelphia Half Marathon – Race Recap

So this is WAY overdue but I do owe you guys a Philly Half Marathon Recap (I’m also going to write a review too but that’s much less run I think). So OK The Philly Half Marathon… back story! I’ve alluded many times to my wildly successful LDF (long distance friendship) with my bff Sarah. She lives in Philly, I live in DC, I cried when I realized she wouldn’t be my roomie after college… but we’ve made the best of it! My parents are also originally from Philadelphia, and even though they raised my brother and I across the river in Jersey, we’ve always been Philly-lovers. Needless to say, when Mike did not get a number for the NYC Marathon (which clearly ended up being a blessing) I was quick to suggest Philly as an alternate fall marathon choice. I decided to run the half too, just for fun!

We went up to Philly on Friday night a little later than we planned. There was some horrible accident on 95 N that closed the entire highway. My parents were unfortunately sitting in traffic for over two hours, so we weren’t in any rush to get on the road. We waited until the highway opened up and arrived in Philly around 10:45 pm. After spending Friday night having fun, we spent Saturday morning hanging out, getting our bibs, and going to brunch at Amada.

Unfortunately, this is where things started getting hairy. Both Mike and I got sick after eating at Amada. Our brunch group was three couples, so each couple shared a few of their tapas style small plates. Mike and I ate two items that no one else tried and I think something was not right there. Mike got sick immediately, but I felt fine at first so I didn’t think it was related to the food. Then a couple hours later… let’s just say I was convinced. I was less worried about me (at this point running a half isn’t a huge shock to my system) but I was really concerned about Mike. He was already worried about his ankle injury (he referenced it in his guest post) and now he was sick / getting dehydrated! We bought a ton of liquids at the CVS including Gatorade, Ginger Ale, Coke, and of course saltines. Things were touch and go there for a bit!

By the time dinner came around, both of us were at least feeling somewhat back to normal. We had a fun dinner at Core de Roma on South Street with my parents, Mike’s family, Sarah, and her boyfriend. I stuck to pretty plain pasta but all the food was DELICIOUS. The company was even better though 🙂

OK FINALLY to race day (this post is already getting too long I can tell). We were staying near Rittenhouse Square, so it was an easy walk over to the Ben Franklin Parkway / race start. The country flags were the PERFECT way to meet up with people in this huge crowd. We met my parents at the Ethiopian flag around 6:30 am, and took a couple pre-race pictures. Unfortunately, my dad took a bunch of the good pics on his camera but never puts them up on Facebook (Dad put the pics up!!!) I have this one of Mike and I though 🙂

It was COLD. It was going to be a great day for a race, but the morning was a little rough. I elected to go with capri pants, calf sleeves, tank top, short sleeve tech tee, arm warmers, gloves, and a headband I could pull over my ears. The sweatshirt was just for pre-race. Then we met up with my friend from Georgetown Michelle! When we realized we both were running / aiming for approximately the same pace we decided to run together, which I loved. I NEVER have a running buddy, and normally I totally don’t mind running solo. Having a friend was such a fun change though! We said goodbye to Mike and wished him luck (he was in the first corral behind the elites so it was more important for him to be there before the gun. I’m usually far enough back that I have some wiggle room hehe).

I was really worried about Mike. I made him promise me that if his ankle was in pain he would drop out of the race. He was going for a BIG PR, and I knew he was so focused that he would try and run through the pain. We had a lot of talks before the race about how our #1 goal is to be runners for a long time, so sometimes that means making short term sacrifices. Mike is such an intelligent runner, but he is really driven. We both use each other to talk through these kinds of situations… which is awesome.

Michelle and I lined up and before we knew it the sun was up and we were crossing the starting line and heading down towards Love Park.

We fell into a pretty easy pace right out of the gate. I was so cold by the time we started, I kind of felt like my legs weren’t even attached to my body. It was also really crowded. I absolutely loved that they opened up 3,000 additional spots in the race for displaced New Yorkers, but that’s another 3000 bodies on the course so this was kind of inevitable. I didn’t mind it though… Michelle and I were having a BLAST already. We ran down a few miles and ended up on Front Street. We made a quick unsanctioned bathroom stop behind some very full bushes. There were a bunch of other ladies back there so it was cool. SORRY but the lines were SUPER long and we really had to go. This is running folks.

We made the turn and headed up onto South Street. The crowds here were awesome with a ton of music playing.  We even ran past the restaurant we ate at on Saturday night! I kind of wanted to pop in for a quick spaghetti but I didn’t have time 🙂 We went up a few blocks and ended up on Chestnut Street. This is when I started looking for people. I thought Sarah might be out around 15th and Chestnut but I later found out she was still in bed (SLACKER! hehe just kiddingg). I spotted my parents at about 21st and Chestnut because my mom was waving her cow bell like crazy. I threw my hands up in the arm to get their attention and my dad snapped an AWESOME pic of us. I kind of wish I had it (HINT HINT… DAD!).

We left Center City behind and ran over the bridge towards Penn where Michelle is currently in grad school. My dad has his PhD from Penn so it was fun to try and spot landmarks I recognized. I knew that the first hills of the race were coming (up until this point it had been pancake flat). Michelle and I were holding a really steady pace, laughing / talking the whole time, and just enjoying the crowds. Some of the other runners were really friendly too. Around mile 8 we started looking out for Michelle’s boyfriend Gabe, but I don’t think we ever found him! I took a Chocolate GU… because it tastes like chocolate frosting and I love it. We passed the zoo and I knew the “big hill” was coming (biggest of this course at least). It passed pretty much without incident and before I knew it we were at the Please Touch Museum. If you haven’t been there before you should go… or take your kid. I distinctly remember my Aunt Gloria taking me there when I was little (I’m pretty sure it was a different location at that time, but my child memories don’t include a lot of directions).

Then we started my favorite miles of the while race. There were almost no crowds running through the park, but I didn’t need them. The race crowd was enough for me and I just drank in the beautiful fall scenery. It was absolutely gorgeous. Before I knew it, we were passing mile marker 10 and heading back towards the Art Museum. I knew there was going to be one little hill before heading to the finish line. It was really small, but sometimes a small hill at the end of a race that you’re not expecting can really get you. I wanted to be prepared. Finally, we passed in front of the Art Museum and I was sprinting to the finish line!

Thankfully I was immediately swaddled in a space blanket. I had taken off my gloves and rolled down my arm warmers a bit during the run, but it was still chilly. Michelle snapped a finish line pic 🙂

We met up with my parents at the Ethiopia flag again. I was really relieved when I saw Mike wasn’t with them. He told me that if he dropped out of the race, he would just make his way to the meet up point. If he wasn’t there by now, I knew he was going to finish. We had some time so we took some pics, stretch out a bit, and drank warm chicken broth (easily the best post-race food ever… salty and warm, ZOMG)

I said goodbye to Michelle. She had to go do homework… BOO. I was on the phone trying to coordinate meeting up with Mike’s parents when we decided to make our way to the marathon side to wait for Mike. I’m normally never a worrier, but I was definitely feeling some nerves for him. Only because of the injury and getting sick… and, well, I love him so deal with it. I saw one of the guys from our running club finish and knew Mike shouldn’t be too far behind him. Just as I was starting to really freak out, THERE HE WAS! We had a really awesome sweaty runner hug and he shared his big news… he beat his goal!!!!!

3:14:22 for this guy right here.

I am once again exceptionally proud of him. I had a fun race with my friend… but Mike was the one to celebrate 🙂 After he stretched I made him take 1000 pictures.

It was freezing and at one point Mike was wearing his mom’s down coat to warm up. I took like 30 pictures of him in that coat without him looking. I’m sure he’s really going to appreciate seeing them on the blog. Love you honey!

Family love fest ensued and I even bought a couple soft pretzels from a guy selling them out of shopping cart (if you’re not familiar, Philly soft pretzels are the best when sold to you out of shopping cart in a brown paper bag… seriously) They were totally price gouging everyone though… $9 for 3 pretzels!!! Normally they’re like 75 cents a pop but it was worth it.

After the race it was ice bath time! Mike was the one who really needed it, but I hopped in after for good measure. I think the hat really helped… not at all. Then we went to Schlesingers (one of my FAV Philly places). I ate 100 pickles from the pickle bar, matzoh ball soup, and some errrrrgggssss (that’s how I say eggs when I’m really hungry).

Final Summation: Great Race for both of us. Great for me because I had fun and enjoyed the run. I’m normally pretty head down and focused when I’m racing, but this time I really took in the scenery and enjoyed the experience. You can’t “race” every race after all. This race was the perfect way to focus myself for marathon training and remind myself why I love this sport so much. Great race for Mike because he accomplished a huge goal in the face of some serious adversity. His foot has been bothering him since, so he’s been resting at my insistence.

Next up… Surf-n-Santa 10 Miler!!

Army Ten Miler – Race Recap / Review

Hey guys it’s Christina! I’m super excited this is the very first POTR Guest Post!! Coming to you from none other than Mike. He’s a waayyy better runner than me, so I thought you guys might like to hear from a seriously competitive runner instead of just my ramblings. 

Hi POTR readers, this is Mike, the sometimes mentioned boyfriend. I ran the Army Ten Miler last Sunday, so Christina suggested that I should write a guest post for the blog. This was my first time running the Army Ten Miler, after registering for it in 2011 and transferring away my bib upon finding out that it was the same weekend as Ragnar Pennsylvania. I had wanted to run this race for a couple years before 2011 too, but never managed to register in time, so I was really looking forward to it this year. They announced before the start of the race that it sold out in record time this year, at about 9 hours. Needless to say, if you’re interested in running this race you either need to pay attention to the registration date (and hour!) or go through the bib transfer system that the organizers turn on over the summer. I think there’s a special pre-registration period for active duty military people, and maybe other civil servants as well, but since none of those apply to me I don’t remember exactly.

I’ll do the “review” part first, and get back to my personal race recap. Registration this year was way back in May, with a total cost of $58.50 including fees. Normal for a race this size.

Expo, A: I went to the expo at the DC Armory on Friday night right before they closed while it was pouring rain outside, so I was in and out fast. To their credit, it was easy to be in and out fast, which earns the A here, but I didn’t stick around to see anything besides packet pickup and the booth selling cotton throw-away gloves. It looked like a standard big-race expo though with vendors selling shoes, gear, and gadgets.

Swag, A-: The race shirt was a long sleeve cotton tee, with this year’s design on the front, and the usual sponsor logos on the back. Since I’m a regular racer, I have more short-sleeve tech-tees than I know what to do with, so anything other than this gets extra points from me. I know many people like to get a tech tee though, especially along with entry fees that exceed $50.00, hence the minus part of A-. They also gave out hats to the first 15,000 people to use post-race trolleys, but obviously not everyone can get there in time to pick up one of these. The finisher coins didn’t have the ribbon that would turn them into a finisher medal, which was also unusual.

Course, A: The race starts and finishes at the Pentagon in VA, and spends about 60% of the distance in DC. It’s almost entirely flat, with the only “hills” being small and short. It’s definitely flatter than my Garmin elevation track (link below) makes it look, and is good for a fast race. You run past a number of other DC landmarks after the Pentagon, including Arlington Cemetery, Arlington Memorial Bridge, Lincoln Memorial, Watergate Hotel, Kennedy Center, Tidal Basin, Washington Monument, Smithsonian, and Jefferson Memorial. Other than the last 2 miles, there’s almost always something interesting to see.

Crowd Support, Mixed: The majority of the route had few spectators, with one big exception being the section of Independence Ave between 7th St. and 14th St. This makes sense, since it’s right next to both the Smithsonian and L’Enfant Plaza Metro stops. There were a ton of people in this stretch making lots of noise, as well as a high school band, and a water stop. It was a really nice boost around mile 7 or so when the tiredness is starting to set in, but this abruptly changes, since about miles 8 through 9.5 along Rt. 395 are the least spectator-friendly and least scenic of the entire course. I personally don’t mind having no crowds at all on a race course, so the Independence Ave stretch alone gives this category an A for me, but some people might like a more even distribution of crowds.

Course Support, A+: There were plenty of water stops (at least 5 I think?), with Gatorade also available at each, all staffed by Army personnel in camo pants and the race shirt. For me this was more than enough to cover a ten mile race, especially with the perfect weather, and I didn’t use every available station while also not carrying any extra fluids or fuel. At one of the last stations, I heard some commotion behind me just after I had passed it, and turned around to see some guy screaming his battle-cry while sprinting the (quite long) gauntlet of water-bearers with each one hurling their cup’s worth of water at his chest. Army race for sure.

Pre-Race, A+: The pre-race corrals were inside a fenced off area which required a race bib for entry. I think I’ve seen this before, but it’s pretty unusual. This was a very large race though, with 30,000 registered runners so I think it was a good idea to cut down on congestion. Since I had my own POTR spectator (hehe that was me!), I didn’t need to use the bag check. There were plenty of porta-potties, and with about 45 minutes to go before the start, I only waited in line for maybe 5 minutes at the most. Do this INSIDE the runners-only area, since there were only a few outside with very long lines. The first three waves were staged in the starting corral, and the following waves set up in a holding area inside the Pentagon parking lot. At about 7:15am the Army Golden Knights parachute team put on a show from above as everyone warmed up, stretched out, and lined up.

The call for the starting CANNON (not a wimpy gun) came from Gen. Ray Odierno, the current Chief of Staff of the Army, and the previous commander of all Coalition Forces in Iraq. After a big “HOOAH” from the crowd, the first wave of about 50 runners starting at 7:55am was the Wounded Warrior division, whose bios you can find on the race website. Almost all of them had lost limbs in Iraq or Afghanistan, and they used a variety of prosthetics, wheelchairs, and hand-cycles to complete the course. It was impossible not to be inspired by everything going on at the starting line.

Transportation, B: The Metro Blue Line did not appear to have extra trains running as of 6:45am, so if we had missed the train we took it would’ve been another 20 minutes before the next one. The Pentagon station was a mob scene getting out through the exit fare, and it took at least 15 minutes to inch up the stairs from the platform and get through the gate. After the race, they provided trolleys running back to the metro from the finish line area. It was less than a mile away, but much appreciated after finishing the race.

Now I’ll get into my personal recap of the race. In the week leading up to the race, I started to have some trouble with my left Achilles and ankle on Tuesday, with the worst of it coming on Wednesday when I couldn’t run even one mile without pain. My goal had been to run a PR of 1:06 at this race, and the Achilles had given me some serious doubt in the last few days about whether this would be either possible or advisable. My real goal for the fall season is the Philadelphia Marathon, so I didn’t want to take a chance at causing a more serious injury in this tune-up race. To this end, I decided beforehand that if at any point in the race I started to feel even a little bit of acute Achilles pain I would stop, stretch out, and walk-run to the finish. Luckily with a little bit of extra rest, it was feeling at least pretty good on Saturday, and mostly-solid on Sunday morning before the race. I decided to go for it, and it felt normal for the first five miles or so. After that it started to gradually tighten up and feel a little weak, but that was all, just a tight feeling, and no pain while running.

The morning started out without a cloud in the sky, and temperatures in the upper 40s before sunrise – perfect racing weather. My first mile was the slowest, as it usually is in large races with a crowd, but it wasn’t a bad thing for me since it opened up pretty quickly and forced me to ease into race pace. By mile 3 or so I had a good rhythm going, and ditched my gloves near a roadside trash can. In miles 5 and 6 I was starting to wonder if my Achilles would hold out, but otherwise feeling easy and smooth. The crowds around mile 7 were encouraging, and by mile 8 it was pretty clear that my ankle would last at least to the finish line, with a PR almost locked in at that point. My previous ten mile best was at the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler last spring, in 1:07:32, and I was running faster than my 1:06 goal pace. Before the race I didn’t really think 1:05 was likely, but when mile 8 came out of nowhere at 6:17 on my GPS with a barely noticeable increase in effort, it started to seem possible. I didn’t want to get ahead of myself though, so I waited until after mile 9 to start the real final push.

I wound up finishing in 1:04:49, good for (unofficially) 556th place out of 21,912 finishers, and a huge PR.

Split Time Distance Avg Pace Best Pace Calories
Summary 1:04:51.8 10.12 6:24 4:34 1,287
1 6:34.0 1.00 6:34 5:49 126
2 6:25.4 1.00 6:25 5:29 124
3 6:31.2 1.00 6:31 6:10 129
4 6:27.4 1.00 6:27 5:07 128
5 6:28.9 1.00 6:29 5:57 124
6 6:28.5 1.00 6:28 5:57 129
7 6:24.0 1.00 6:24 5:46 128
8 6:17.4 1.00 6:17 5:04 128
9 6:27.7 1.00 6:28 6:10 129
10 6:07.9 1.00 6:08 5:31 127
11 :39.3 0.12 5:21 4:34 15

Excellent race all around!!! Here is the link to the Garmin Connect entry

Me again… just can’t stop gushing about how proud of him I am 🙂 

Baltimore Half Marathon – Race Recap

Hey all!! So on Saturday I ran my first race of the Fall 2012 season! Today I’m going to give you a recap of my race and then tomorrow I’ll write a race review about logistics etc.

Friday after work I met up with my friend Sarah, picked up her car at the White House (that is SO DC right?), and got on the road to Baltimore. We stopped in Greenbelt MD for a pre-race dinner at Hard Times Cafe. Not EXACTLY the typical pre-race fuel, but for a half I don’t really get into “carb loading”. I think it’s more important for the marathon. I also have a really easy stomach so I don’t typically worry too much. I had vegetarian chili on a salad. There were some tortilla chips for a little carby-goodness. Quick stop at the expo for our numbers, swag bags, and sweet Under Armour race shirts. This year the half was a really gorgeous deep purple (everything was either purple or orange… i personally prefer purple). Then we headed to Sarah’s husband’s grandparent’s house (haha yeah I’m a big old freeloader) and went to bed around 10:45 pm.

The half marathon didn’t start until 9:45 am (the latest race start I’ve EVER had) so we got up around 6:30 am and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast graciously provided by Grandma. She made up some scrambled eggs, english muffins, and vegan sausage patties… the royal treatment! We arrived at the Light Rail station at 8 am but this took us a while (more on that tomorrow), we arrived at M&T Bank stadium at 9:15 with 30 minutes to go over to the finish line, check our bags, pee, and get to the start. It was a little tight but we made it to the start line right as the gun went off. I said goodbye to Sarah and lined up with my group.

Miles 0 – 5 : I got started at a pretty decent pace. I realized walking over to the start that I wasn’t wearing my Garmin. Where was it? In my bag… checked at the finish line. Super duper. I figured since I was trying to run a smart race, I would go based purely on feel. My goal was to feel good the first 5 miles. The first five were lots of rolling hills. Nothing horribly long or horribly difficult, but definitely enough to notice. I was able to hold a steady pace throughout. I am definitely not the kind of runner who goes slow up hill and then fast downhill. I started off a little stiff too, but I loosened up a lot by the end of three miles.

Miles 5-7: I anticipated these to be the hardest miles of the race. However, the “big hill between mile 6 – 7” didn’t really end up being that big. It was longer than the other hills, which is why I thought it looked more challenging on the chart. In reality, the longer hill made the incline grade really manageable. There was a bigger than expected downhill section after the “big hill” too which was very nice. At this point I was starting to notice that my right hip flexor and left calf muscle were getting tight. This is when I started paying for my lack of training. I held on to my pace, but kept checking back in to see how I was feeling. I wanted to run a good race, but I didn’t want to get injured. I took opened my pack of Margarita Cliff Shot Blocks and ate my first block. These have 3 times more sodium and are supposed to help with muscle cramping. Luckily, the pain in my hip and calf dissipated as I reached mile marker 7 at Lake Montebello.

Miles 7 – 8: Nice and easy and FLAT around Lake Montebello. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. Lots of race photographers, so I made sure to smile real big (even though I probably won’t buy any photos… they’re stupid expensive).

Miles 8 – 10: I really underestimated this part of the course. I was able to maintain but there was a hill between between 8.5 – about 9.5 that was a tough one. I think at this point I was also getting fatigued so that contributed. However, at this point, I was running with a bunch of marathoners. I thought to myself… these people are running this hill with 21 miles on their legs. I only have 8 on mine… SUCK.IT.UP. I took another margarita shot block hoping the extra sodium would help my legs.

Miles 10 – 13.1: Suck it up I did… and I emptied my tank. I dug deep and by the time I crossed the finish line I had nothing left. At this point, I kept thinking to myself, “You’re this close. And you’ve run every step of the way. Keep moving, keep running,” I ran every step of this race, including every.single.stinkin.hill. My normal “sprint to the finish” was not as sprinty as usual but I think that was a sign of running a smart race. I pushed myself to my edge, left it all on the pavement… insert other sports related cliche here.

I crossed the finish line and literally felt drunk. I could barely walk straight (I ran into another person like 3 times) and I vaguely felt like I was going to puke (I did not). I grabbed some ice for my hip flexor and stretched out for a solid 10 minutes. I drank two bottles of water and did finally manage to get a 1/4 of a bagel down. I ended up taking one final margarita block because my foot totally cramped up while changing from my sneakers to my flip flops.

Then I found my friends and got my post-race party on!!! I missed you racing. I’m so glad we’re back together. Let’s never fight again. I literally had no clue what my time was when I finished. I only saw the marathon clock, which said 4:07. According to my official timing, I finished in 2:13. That is my third fastest half marathon (my best is 2:08 and I did another at 2:11). Not too shabby for not training! It was really a good confidence boost for me… I’M BACK BABY!!

Sarah and I post race

I thought this cartoon crab was pretty adorable.

There are few things in the world I love more than a race medal 🙂