Run Doodle Run

The long road to 26.2

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It’s Marathon Week!!!

Screenshot 2016-10-10 12.23.14.pngToo late!!

This summer has been both good and bad for my running. It’s been good because I made it through strong and mostly uninjured, with higher mileage than last summer (and doing my first long run of the summer in Japan wasn’t too shabby!); it’s been bad because I missed a week plus due to a horribly painful scratched cornea and then irritated my bursitis again about a month ago. But thanks to my wonderful doctor, physical therapists, and masseuse I am here, ready to tackle 26.2 again. I have been on rest for the last week and am only allowed to run one mile on the AlterG this Thursday, but despite all of that, I am confident that I am ready for this race. My fat-loading period is almost over (ohthankgod) and the carb-loading begins in 16 hours! Not that I’m counting. 🙄


I haven’t had much to say on here lately, not because life has gotten dull, but because training for the first marathon was special, new, exciting – this time it just didn’t seem the same. It seemed work-a-day and while I enjoyed it immensely, it just didn’t feel like I had anything new to share that my followers would be interested in. I was a bit disillusioned and honestly somewhat bored with half training last winter and spring, which I take to mean that I just need a bigger challenge. It’s kind of like how in college I did okay enough when I took 12 credits a semester, but made Deans’ List when I took 18 credits. I do best when I have a full, demanding schedule.

To rectify this, I’ll be tackling marathon training in the upcoming frigid mid-Atlantic winter. (You heard that they’re predicting a brutally cold, snowy winter, too, right?) This will give me two marathons in one year. I’m a little scared by this idea, but I think it’s what I need. I need the challenge of the marathon to keep me honest in my training. But while I love running hills and have loved the Baltimore Marathon more than I can possibly explain, I’m planning on some flatter races in 2017. My knee needs it. And I think I need that change, too. I’m looking forward to preparing for two new (to me) races.

I’m looking forward to the challenges that 2017 will bring, and am feeling more motivated by them, but for now I’m going to just focus on counting down the minutes til my marathon this weekend!

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June Wrap-up

I can’t believe it’s already July – I swear June just started! This year really needs to slow down and breathe a bit.

My mileage is low this month (I don’t even have a clue what it is)… becuase I spent half the month in Japan! If I had counted all the miles I walked every day I was there, my mileage would be through the roof😉

I had such a blast in Japan and can’t say enough good things about it – although those around me would probably say that I’ve definitely given it a try! My trip started off in Tokyo, where I stayed with a friend from Hopkins. Being introduced to a new city (and country and culture) with a local is the absolute best way to do see, learn, and appreciate the world. You learn things from them that even the most astute, concientious traveler can’t – and things the tourist wouldn’t even consider bothering to learn.

After four days in Tokyo I traveled via Shinkansen (Amtrak, you’re a sad excuse for a train compared to the shinkansen! I think I may cry a little the next time I have to get on a Northeast Regional…) to Hamamatsu in Shizuoka prefecture and spent a day with a new friend! I got to see a city that isn’t in any travel books and had the experience of a lifetime meditating at a mountain-top buddist temple followed up by an incredibly relaxing visit to an onsen and an amazing dinner (featuring unagi!) at my friend’s home that had been prepared by his wife and mother-in-law. Seriously – befriend locals. They’re amazing.

Despite traveling alone, Kyoto was really the only place where I was actually traveling solo. I got to explore some of the sights and even took a cooking class!

After a few days in Kyoto I headed back to my new city. I love Tokyo. Despite it being one of the largest, most densely populated cities in the world, it felt like home. There truly is something for everyone there. This time I stayed in a hotel in Shinjuku and had a whirlwind tour of the parts I missed – I had dinner at a place that was on Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, got to experience Japanese baseball, and finally got to run!! I ran 8 miles around the Imperial Palace and it was just as magical as it sounds.

I havent been this in love with a new place since I went to Australia for the first time in 2004. I know Japan has its own issues and problems, but things there just seem to work so well, quite frankly they do a lot of things better than we do, and civiclity is still a thing there. I would love to go back and spend more time there to really get to know it better – and even learn the language more. After the time I was in China and spoke absolutely no Chinese, I attempted to learn a little bit of Japanese before I went. I was surprisingly successful, but you can only learn so much on your own in a few weeks.

Now that marathon training is back in full swing, I’m trying to get re-focused and totally kick ass this year. After all the success I had last year, I really want to make this year count. I’ve got Baltimore and maybe the NCR Trail Marathon coming up this year, an a short-list of races for next year, but I’d be lying if I said the Tokyo Marathon isn’t on my radar for early 2018.🙂

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Race Report: Frederick Half Marathon

It’s hard to believe that it’s May and this is only my first race of the year! I had toyed around with the idea of an early-spring race, but I just wasn’t feeling it. Plus, running on the brick promenade downtown back in the beginning of March irritated my hamstring tendinosis from last summer and sidelined me for a while. (Remember how I’ve complained about running on brick in the past? Yeah, I think I’ve finally learned my lesson – just 6 miles did me in this time. No more running on brick for me!) I ended up taking 12 days off completed at the beginning of April before going back to PT and slowly coming back. Before this race I hadn’t run hills in over a month; I wasn’t sure what to expect at all. When I originally signed up for Frederick, I had hoped to PR, but with the hiccups in March and April I put that goal aside; simply finishing and not being injured would have to be enough for me. After all, I have a long summer of marathon training to think about!

Two of the three women I regularly train with also ran Frederick with me – it made for a fabulous girls’ weekend! (though we certainly missed Jennie!) We met up Saturday afternoon and drove out to Frederick to get our packets and check in to our hotel, which was surprisingly nice. We were going to go to Olive Garden for dinner, but at 4:30pm there was a 40 minute wait! So we scoured Yelp to find the next best, safe option (e.g. no Mexican, cheap, or unknown restaurants) and settled on the ever-enthralling Carrabba’s on the other side of town. We got a table right away and immediately preceded to disappoint the waiter by ordering water, bland-ish pasta, and no wine or dessert. Afterwards we ran a few last-minute errands and went back to the hotel to watch the Kentucky Derby (we’re all from horse country), chat, laugh, and go to bed ridiculously early.

The last time I ran Frederick was 2009 – it was my first half – and my biggest memory from that race? The insane traffic to get parking. It was so bad Aaron and I had to bail out of my dad’s car just to get to the start on time while he and my mom dealt with parking. Intent on not repeating that, and much to the chagrin of the girls, I made us get up at 4:00am to leave by 5:15am. On the bright side, though, we got to park right next to the start and finish line! We sat in the car singing and dancing to Taylor Swift songs and enjoying the heated seats on a chilly, damp (but sunny!!) morning. It was seriously the first time we had seen the sun for more than a few minutes in almost two weeks…

Around 6:00am we made our way over to the start-line area to take care of pre-race business and get warmed up. Despite the 4,000 participants and all their supporters, the start area was very efficient and not at all crowded. We were able to take our places just a few minutes before go time without a problem.


The incomparable Sid Busch, running in honor of fallen hero SSGT Gary John Homuth USAF, started us off, along with the Athletes Serving Athletes folks, and then we all followed!


Photo courtesy of Dave Gell, Corrigan Sports (Facebook)

The course was fair bit different than the last time I ran it, but was well laid-out; it was crowded but not packed for the first couple of miles as we wound past the minor league stadium and down towards main street. Even at 54 degrees it was so humid that by mile 2, just as I passed Sid, I had sweat pouring down my neck. I even turned to the girls and said that I was already looking forward to my post-race shower!

We went out a bit faster than intended in the first few miles, but none of us could seem to hold back. As the group’s pacer I kept trying to pull us back, but it never really stuck. I was a little concerned with this, as I prefer to be a bit conservative in the early miles, but the pace didn’t feel so rushed that I was terribly concerned.

A fair bit of the middle of the course took us through some really nice residential neighborhoods (I had no idea there were such cute houses in Frederick!). Somewhere around mile 6 Rebecca began to fall off the pace; Tracy and I kept trying to keep an eye on her, but we lost her a little while later.

By the time we worked out way into Hood College the humidity had lifted and the sun was out in full force. This, combined with the quick pace in the early miles, was beginning to take a bit of a toll on me; perceived effort was definitely creeping up with each passing mile. Admittedly, I did end up having to take a few short walk breaks in the later miles, which disappointed me, but considering that the last two months of training had been less than ideal, I tried not to beat myself up too much and just keep going. Thankfully, it was also around this time that the wind began to pick up substantially.

The absolute worst part of this course awaited us at the end. Wide open road, no shade, full sun, an out-and-back, and then a hill. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still love hills, but this was just brutal. It wasn’t a big hill, just a long, relentless hill. I wanted to stop and walk more than a few times, but walking wouldn’t have made it better, so I kept going. Tracy did her best to keep me going, but after a while I just needed quiet. It took a lot of focus to keep going that last half mile or so, and even when we finally turned onto the track at the fairgrounds, the finish still seemed so far away. But walking wasn’t an option, so I just kept moving my feet forward.

It seemed to take an inordinate amount of time to get around that track, but we finally made it – in record time! I was stunned to look at my Garmin and see that I had PRed by a minute and seventeen seconds! Woohoo!!


We made our way to the finishers’ village to get our water and food (but no space blankets! wtf!) and wait near the finish line for Rebecca. Unfortunately I missed seeing her finish because I got dizzy and decided to lay down with my legs up on the fence.😦 She had a bit of a rough race, and was (I think) being unfairly hard on herself, but Tracy and I did our best to try to console her.


We didn’t stick around too long – I was starting to get chilled from the wind and I think Rebecca just wanted to get back to the room – but the celebration village seemed really great. The only downside (other than the lack of space blankets)? The beer line was 45 minutes long. Now I don’t normally drink beer, but there was one that I wanted to try because it sounded like something I’d actually like (Harpoon UFO White – I went out and got some after I got home and it turns out I do actually like it).


Thanks for the great photo, Coach Dawn!

All in all it was a really great weekend! I got a new PR and had a blast with the girls, something I think all three of us needed!

I got a massage this evening and am taking a much-needed week off (I have been training since mid-December!) and then working on some easy mileage/cross training taking me in to marathon training (and preparing for my first coaching gig!!) at the end of June!

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Form and the beginner runner

As someone who’s been injured more than a few times, running form is something I’ve heard a lot about.

When I was in elementary school, we had a unit in gym class that focused on teaching us how to run. I missed that unit. No, seriously – I was sidelined in a full-leg cast that spring. My mom always joked that I couldn’t run well when I was younger because I missed that unit – but I think there’s a fair bit of legitimacy to that. Not so much the elementary school part, but the learning to run part.

It’s widely assumed that anyone can run. Got two legs? You can run. Got a prosthetic leg or two? You’re good to go, too. Baring that, got a wheelchair and two arms that can push? You can compete in the wheelchair division (helloooo, wonder woman Tatyana McFadden!). All too often, that’s kind of the beginning and end of the road for many runners, especially amateurs.

It’s always astounded me that in running, we tell people to run first, and work out the kinks later. As anyone who has had to unlearn a bad habit knows, old habits are hard to break! We don’t expect swimmers to learn good form on their own – so why do we expect runners to do so?

The main debate for several years was about foot strike – something that can certainly have an impact on form and injury rate, but that’s only one piece of the puzzle. Cadence? Okay, that’s got some meat to it; but again, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. You can have a really fast turnover but still have poor form.

This is something that I fully intend to address when I coach this summer; running form, as much as speed and distance, will be a cornerstone of my coaching philosophy. I substitute-coached for a friend’s 10k group the other week and discussed this with them briefly before sending them off on their speedwork – something which one of the participants told me afterwards was one of the best things she’s learned about running in a long time!

This is something that is in the forefront of my mind right now as I focus intently on correcting my running-form sins and (hopefully) building myself up to be a more efficient runner who can avoid trips to the ortho and PT in the future. I know it’s vital to spend time perfecting form, especially at speed and when tired at the end of long runs, but let’s be honest – I’d really rather be focusing my energy on speed and endurance right now.

Yes, we all know how to run. But when we take up running as a persistent activity, when we begin to log dozens of miles week after week, it’s integral to our longevity in the sport to work on the finer points before injury, rather than trying to re-learn them later. Yes, the body may get more efficient as you run more, but why not give it a head start on the process? I think it’s high time we respect beginner runners enough to help them out, setting them up for long-term success, and focusing on how to run properly.


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Winter’s winding down…

I can’t believe winter training is over already! Despite the cold and the blizzard it went by so quickly…

Tonight was our final workout and it was a perfect night for it. We got to celebrate the great races and PRs of those who ran at Rock ‘n Roll DC this past weekend (Jennie slashed 3 minutes off of hers!) and got to see the sunset from the track for the first time since the fall.


Tonight we did 400s at 15 sec faster than HM pace and 800s alternating between HM race pace and 15 sec faster than race pace – and my 800s averaged 8:59🙂 Even though my HM goal pace is only 10:00… whoops! It felt surprisingly good to push even though I was expecting a bit of an easier evening. Rebecca pushed me and I’m glad she did. You don’t get better by staying in your comfort zone🙂


You Can Call Me Coach Doodle!

This summer I’m going to be coaching my first group!! Ahh!! This is something I’ve wanted to do for the last year and am SO excited to finally have the opportunity!

I’ll be coaching a group of runners for ~6 weeks in preparation for a 5k. Presumably, this group will be a mix of true beginners, first-time racers, and experienced runners/racers, but I’ll obviously find out more this summer.

I’ve been in this running game for a while and have lots of experience and knowledge to pass along, but I want to make sure I’m doing it in a way that is appropriate for all types of runners, specifically beginners. I’m feeling pretty confident on how to help the experienced runners (but I’m open for suggestions for them, too!), but never really trained exclusively for a 5k myself. In order to do this best, I would LOVE to get some feedback from all sorts of different runners!

  • What was the most intimidating thing about joining a training group for the first time?
  • What do you wish had been explained to you better when you first started running?
  • What did you like (or not like) about your first training group experience?
  • What worked best for motivating you (or what was a total flop)?
  • What do you wish your first coach knew that they didn’t?