Run Doodle Run

The long road to 26.2


Race Report: Too Hot to Trot 10k

I ran this race last year and had a blast, but given the distances that are required during marathon training, I had all but put it out of my mind until I saw the race director at the trail last week, mapping out the distances.

Originally we were supposed to run 16 miles, but our coaches told us we could go down to 10 miles this week if needed (and boy did I need it). Plus, this allowed me to go rock climbing yesterday 🙂 (more on that when I get some pictures) So the plan was to run the Too Hot to Trot 10k and then follow it up with 4 miles afterwards to bring me to a nice 10 miles for the weekend.

Considering that I’ve been focusing on the longer distances for the last couple of months, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect with the race. When I left the house, it was unseasonably crisp – couldn’t ask for better racing conditions 🙂

I got to the race early, registered, and just spent some time relaxing. About 10 minutes before, I started my warm up, running about a half mile easy, and then a few strides.

My goal going into this race was a) to beat my time from last year and b) to break 60 minutes – to do this I’d need to maintain a 9:39 pace, definitely a tall order considering that I’ve been struggling to maintain that during speed work.

The plan was to start off slow and then pick up the pace, but even my slow was faster than I expected! I certainly felt like I was racing, but I never once felt like I was pushing harder than I could. My form felt amazing, and it sounds silly, but almost effortless. At the turnaround, I have unofficially set a new 5k PR – 29:27. I took one of my remaining cliff chomp blocks, which is much harder running than standing, and pushed on. I tried to keep my pace somewhat conservative on the return trip, as there’s a slight uphill tilt to the trail, but even that kind of went out the window.

As soon as I was within the final 1.2 miles I knew I was okay to start pushing the pace again. My legs still felt amazing and my breathing was more than comfortable. When I hit the house that’s 1/4 mile from the end, I push even harder, and kicked it in to second gear as I could see the finish line appearing around the bend, through the bushes. I was honestly astonished to see the time on the clock – 58 minutes. Whoa! As I sped towards the finish, I knew I had totally decimated my goal. My official time was 58:08!! Ahh!!! *happy dance*


My Garmin sometimes loses signal on the trail, which is why it comes up a little short.

After I had my own little personal celebration, I spent some time chatting and watching the other finishers, including the final finisher:

Yeah, his arm's in a sling.

Yeah, his arm’s in a sling. What’s your excuse? 

I stuck around for the awards ceremony, but couldn’t hang out too long, because I still had more miles to run! Off I went, and got another 5.25 miles in. My legs definitely felt worse for the wear, but I got it done. Not too shabby 🙂

Who have I become?? 😉

The best part of the day? Seeing the official results posted and finding out that I WON MY AGE GROUP!!!! HOLY CRAP!!!!! Only once before have I ever placed, and I absolutely had no expectation of that today. The 30-something women in these races are amazingly fast. But I guess they all graduated to the 35-39 group 😉


What a way to end an awesome weekend 😀

P.S. – the shoes worked out well 🙂



Hill Run

You know what’s amazing?

It was warm enough on tonight’s run for me to be accosted by gnats!! *cues the choir of angels* I never thought I’d be so happy to see gnats. Seriously.

🌷🌷 Spring really is here!! 🌷🌷

I skipped my half group’s hill run on Tuesday because of my achey achilles, but decided to join my mom’s 10k group tonight as they were doing the exact same workout. My achilles gave me some attitude on the first hill run, but it started playing (mostly) nice after that.

Screenshot 2015-04-02 23.00.51I’m quite pleased with my performance tonight 🙂 It’s not much, but it felt good.

And when I got back to the store, I got to see this:

Screenshot 2015-04-02 22.58.35

After last weekend’s race, I looked back through my training log and aside from too many runs being derailed due to snow and ice, I think my biggest problem is that too many of my cross training sessions and mid-week runs are only about 1 hour/5-6 miles. I’ve gotten too comfortable at that mid-distance. I’m planning on adding at least one cross training session or mid-week run of about 8 miles in order to get myself in a better position for Brooklyn. I don’t want to feel at Brooklyn the way I felt on Saturday. I don’t want to feel anywhere the way I felt on Saturday ever again.

This Saturday I’m planning on (finally!) joining my spring half marathon group for the first time! I’m thinking an easy 5-7 mile run, depending on how my achilles feels when I wake up. I’m a bit nervous about a new group – because that means I need to find new running partners – but I’m really looking forward to it!


Too Hot to Trot 10k – Race Report!

I was supposed to work out tonight but honestly, I just don’t feel like it. Usually it’s best just to push through and work out anyway, but I know it’s just going to lead to frustration tonight. Sometimes you just have to count your losses and move on.

However, I refuse to be totally useless tonight, so I will at least update my blog 🙂 

I apologize in advance for the lack of pictures – I’m no longer taking my phone with me on races and accompanied long runs as it’s just added weight on my wrist. 

Yesterday was the Too Hot to Trot 10k race, a low-key race held by the local Road Runners club. As it’s always held in mid-August in the mid-Atlantic, the name is usually pretty apt, but yesterday was anything but too hot to trot! It was quite chilly – 59, actually. My first goal going into this race was to not aggravate my hip or leg. Second was to PR in some capacity. Third was sub-1:07:00.

The day didn’t start out well. Even though my mom was super kind and let me sleep in their room, the quiet room in the house, I slept horribly because the neighbor’s kids had a party in which several high schoolers insisted on yelling in the street about how much beer they still had to drink, in the way that only pathetic drunks do. Classy, folks, real classy.  

Then I woke up with a stomach that refused to play nice. Eventually though I got myself out the door and my stomach settled down once I got some power bar chews in me. Registration was held the morning of the race and cost a whopping $2! If only all races could be that cheap.

I’m still not used to going to races by myself – my ex went with me to every single one until we separated – but I ran in to some people I knew, so it made me feel much more comfortable.

The race, which is an out and back, is held on the local rail trail, about a ¼ mile walk along a country road from the registration site. The walk was a nice warm up, although it didn’t really warm me up much. Shortly after I got there we lined up, had a quick schpeal from the race director, and we were off! I pity the biker coming north on the trail towards that tidal wave of runners….

I started out slow, knowing that my legs were still a bit cold, but settled into a comfortable pace about 1/4 mile out once the crowd had dispersed a bit and pretty much held with the same group of people near me most of the way. I am trying to get out of the habit of looking at my Garmin while running, but snuck and peak and was quite happy with the pace I was holding – low 10s.

Mile 1 came in just over 10:00, and feeling pretty confident, I went into cruise mode to take advantage of the slight downhill. Mile 2 came around and – whoa! – 9:49! “Uh oh, don’t get overly confident now, this is a 10k, not a 5k.” I slowly passed a 10 year old who was certainly holding his own.

Before I knew it we were at the big open bridge, which meant the turnaround was just up ahead. I snuck a look at my Garmin and pushed ahead, trying to see if I could break a 30:00 5k. I passed another woman just as the turn around came into view. Apparently the woman now in front of me had the same idea, because I could hear her yell out “argh!” just as my Garmin ticked over the 30:00 – and the turnaround was still a couple yards away. I made it to the turn around in 30:30 – a damn impressive PR for me, nonetheless!

Knowing the second half was slightly uphill, I expected my times to slow a few seconds, but allowed myself to think about my dream PR – 1:02:xx. Pushing back up towards the big open bridge I ran along side, and then slowly passed, a woman who had to be in her 70s – I hope I still move that fast when I’m her age! – and settled in behind a woman in a pink tank. Mile 4 was a bit slower, but the woman in the pink tank and I got back into a rhythm for mile 5. I almost passed her at one point, running along side her, but I think she just used that as fodder to push harder, so I fell back a few steps behind her. I hit 5 miles in 48:47, an “official” race PR by nearly 12 minutes, and 5 minutes faster than anything I have done in training this season.

The last mile was here and we both kept the tempo going, getting slightly but noticeably quicker as the finish line got closer. By 5.5 miles she had picked up the pace just a bit more than I could and stayed about 30 feet ahead of me.

At 6 miles I checked my Garmin one last time and pushed the pace into uncomfortable territory – the unheard of goal was sitting there, teasing me. 60 minutes.

I coaxed my legs into upping the cadence just a bit, but at 6.1 my hip pulled rank and I had to pull the pack back briefly. As I came around the bend though, I could hear the finish line and began pushing again – and then I saw the finish line. The clock was just coming up to 1 hour. But I was just a bit too far away. I took a deep breath and gave it all I got, telling my hip to shut up for just a few more seconds on the condition that it could yell at me all it wanted to later. As I crossed the line, I looked up to the official clock on the side of the trail and smiled.


I have no idea how I did it. I would have been ecstatic with 1:06:xx. But 1 hour?!? Wow. Just wow. I still don’t think that has sunk in yet. 

It was just last week that I had my first long run miles in sub-10:00 territory, and today I managed a race pace of 9:45. Unreal.

After the race I had a quick snack and caught up with one of my half marathon training partners and met some of his friends and then caught up with an old friend of mine from high school, who was there with her toddler, still in her jammies, in the running stroller.

I saw some people on the side and thought they were smoking, which kinda peeved me a bit – but then I realized, they weren’t smoking. They were steaming! It was so cold, and they were so hot from running, that they were steaming sitting there.

We all hung around for the awards and then called it a day – it was just getting too chilly to hang around much longer. 

All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better morning.

Although the amazingly delicious Lebanese dinner my mom and I had downtown last night was an equally perfect way to end the day 😉


Race Report: Dreaded Druid Hills

The Dreaded Druid Hills 10k is tagged as a “torturous race by runners for runners” that’s run on/around the summer solstice every year. I volunteered as a course marshal last year and loved the atmosphere of it.

I’ve had my eye on this race for years but have never felt prepared for it. And because it’s a small race, and I’ve never been the fastest runner, I’ve always been afraid of finishing last. As runners we frequently deal with the self doubt of wondering whether or not we’re prepared for the challenges we face, so I just decided there was really no point in waiting and wondering any longer. I sucked it up and signed up for the race a few weeks ago. Either I’d be ready or I wouldn’t – three’s only one way to find out.

if you never try youll never know

It was weird. I’ve been nervous before races before, but for some reason I had no nerves going into this one. Two other friends of mine, Steph and Lauren, signed up for this race as well and they both said the same thing.

Photo Jun 28, 7 38 03 AM (1)

Usually race day is ungodly hot and humid but the weather couldn’t have been more perfect for us this year – low to mid 70s with low humidity. The course runs through Druid Hill Park, just outside of downtown Baltimore, which has tons of trees, so there’s lots of shade on the course, especially on the hills.

Photo Jun 28, 7 29 26 AM

The course it notoriously brutal. It starts out with about 2 miles of rolling hills before you settle into a flat section before the monster hills in the back of the park. On the easy part we actually passed the house where my grandmother, who passed away from Alzheimer’s this past December, used to live, which I wasn’t prepared for. It was weird, but I imagined her sitting on her porch (in an oh-so-Baltimore way) cheering me on, which helped immensely.

I didn’t really know what to expect going into this, so I just pushed whenever I could. It was great hearing encouragement from Lauren and Steph as I was entering the hills and they were working their way out. I’m not used to hearing people cheering for me on the course, so it was a huge pick-me-up. I actually did really well until about mile 4.5 – then the hills got really tough. I pushed as hard as I could, but even walking up the hills was brutal. With it being in the back of the park, where basically no one goes, there wasn’t much course support, but the volunteers and course marshals were awesome in their support of us. Mile 4 – 5.5 was the hardest for me, both physically and mentally, but I met another woman, Lisa, out on the course at mile 4.5 and we paced each other through much of the remainder of the race. The awesomeness of the running community never ceases to amaze me.

When I saw the sign for mile 5, I knew I was in the clear. We had fared the worst of the hills. I remembered that when I ran the Celtic Solstice 5 Miler a few years ago, my dad bet me $1000 if I ran it in under an hour – I came up just short that year. Even with the brutal hills of the Dreaded Druid Hills, I hit 5 miles in under an hour – that made me feel amazing. I lost a bit of steam just after that point, so I downed half a Gu, and pushed all the way to the end. As I got closer, I realized that my 10k PR was actually in danger – on the Dreaded Druid Hills!! I kept pushing through the discomfort of the heat, knowing that it was a downhill finish. Although I didn’t set a new PR, I missed it by only 51 seconds.

DDH 2014 Splits

51 seconds. Think about that. They advertise this race as “NOT a PR course!” and I missed a PR by less than a minute. It’s amazing to think of how far I’ve come in just two short years of running. For the kid who always finished last in the mile in gym class to come this far is just mind boggling. I honestly could not have been more proud of my performance yesterday.

After the race I stretched out my hip a bit (those hills did it no favors) and then attacked the fruit trays they had waiting for us. The watermelon and strawberries were so deep red and amazingly sweet… I swear I could have devoured an entire tray of strawberries if given half a chance.

Photo Jun 28, 8 58 52 AM

Steph had to run off as soon as she finished to take her daughter to swim lessons, but Lauren and I hung around a bit longer to enjoy the post-race festivities. This race really is unlike any other race I’ve ever done, and although I was intimidated by that before I found it to be absolutely amazing. I truly can’t wait to sign up again next year.

On our way back to our cars, Lauren helped me take a picture for the #RunChatHunt. One of the photos is supposed to be of roadkill. Ew. Totally not going on my phone or my twitter feed. So I got creative instead 😉

Photo Jun 28, 9 08 25 AM

Photo Jun 28, 9 08 43 AM

I ended up napping for almost an hour an a half yesterday afternoon, but then finished out a great day with a glass of wine in front of the fire pit.

Photo Jun 28, 8 58 05 PM Photo Jun 28, 9 03 40 PM

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Just what I needed

Sometimes you need to have a really crappy stretch to better appreciate the good. Aside from my track workouts the last two weeks, I’ve been in kind of a funk and honestly haven’t been running or working out nearly as much as I should. When I woke up this morning, I immediately changed into running clothes. I had no intentions of running until the afternoon, but I thought it was worth a shot – maybe if I’m already dressed for the part, I’ll be more likely to act the part. And whaddaya know? It worked.

We’re expecting up to 4″ of rain tomorrow, so getting out for a run of any length was a major priority for today. It was windy, but a great afternoon for a run.  Rather than focusing on distance, I’m trying to use time as a main focus of my training right now. I seem to hit some mental blocks when I do or don’t hit certain mileages, so no better time to try something new – 15 min out, 15 min back, focusing on feel and effort rather than the Garmin. After my warm up, where I got to see some cute little indigo buntings flitting around, I started running, paying close attention to the motion of my left leg and hip and my breathing. Aside from the pollen plotting to take me down with a massive coughing fit a few minutes in, I never stopped running. I even made it past my perpetual mental block, which occurs about .4 miles from the finish, without batting an eye. And I knew immediately that I ran a negative split because I still had :18 to go when I got back to my starting point!

Mile 1 – 11:44
Mile 2 – 11:38
Mile .6 – 11:08 pace

This was exactly what I needed. I’m 5 weeks out from the 5k, 6 weeks out from the Dreaded Druid Hills. I need to seriously kick up my running – with special emphasis on hill work. I’m confident about the 5k right now. I’m pretty confident I will be ready for the 10k – it may not be my best showing (obviously, it’s no one’s best showing), but I don’t think I’ll need to be dragged by my feet to the finish.

This next month will be focusing on doing what I need to do, even if/when I don’t want to do it. I need to suck it up and get up at 5:00am on Saturdays and go running with a group. I need to go out on grossly hot days, rainy days, and cold days. I need to push much closer to my breaking point on the track. And I need to focus more on strength training to prevent injuries and reinjury. Above all, I need to be all in.

I may not have much control over my life these days, but I can at least control my running.

first step


Race Report: Sole of the City 10k

This past weekend was absolutely GORGEOUS in Baltimore. It was the most perfect weekend for so much copious amounts of outdoor time, which I had tons of! This was a crazy busy weekend – it was Johns Hopkins’ Alumni Weekend/Homecoming and the Sole of the City 10k – but it was tons of fun.

On Friday, husband and I started out Alumni Weekend with lunch in one of the dining halls, followed by several panel discussions/lectures, on topics from bioethics to the state of American cities, to American foreign policy on Iran. We did, however, skip one lecture on individualized healthcare… we were both interested in it, but we stepped outside just before it and it was just too damn perfect to be sitting inside, so we played hookie and wandered around campus for two hours instead 🙂

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If you’ve never been to the main Hopkins campus, also known as Homewood, you absolutely must visit – it’s such a perfectly classic east coast campus, made even more beautiful by the fact that everything was just starting to bloom. Unfortunately I only attended classes on this campus once, as a visiting undergrad, but I always found reasons to come here as a JHU grad student. After our last lecture, we had the Bull and Oyster Roast, where I broke my first and second cardinal rules of pre-race meals – I ate a TON (including two servings of dessert…) and had wine. I knew what I was doing, and chose to accept the risk, because it was alumni weekend and totally worth it.

Photo Apr 11, 7 55 45 PM

Saturday morning was the 3rd annual Sole of the City 10k. The race was run this year to benefit the Erika Brannock Fund. For those who don’t know, Erika is a local teacher who lost both of her legs in last year’s Boston Marathon bombing. She’s been a mainstay of Baltimore races over this last year. Last time I saw her, she was in a wheelchair at the Baltimore Marathon – this weekend, she was standing on her own.

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Erika Brannock speaking to the runners before the race

Last year I had a great showing at this race, totally surprising myself. I had had plenty of time to run outside, including a long run of 8 miles, and ran tons of hills. This year, well, not so much. I hadn’t run more than 3 miles outside since August, despite doing 11 miles inside, and haven’t run hills at all. I had limited expectations going into the race – I really just wanted to have a good time and not get injured. I accomplished both of those goals, so I can’t be too unhappy.

Photo Apr 14, 7 46 42 PM

I ended up going out a bit too quick in the first mile, and then the heat (yes, heat) kicked me. Who knew 65 could feel so damn hot?? I stopped more frequently than I would have liked because I kept getting dizzy and felt like I was starting to overheat. Mile 1 and 2 were pretty good though, while mile and 3 and 4 were okay. Whenever shade hit the course I’d pop over there, but I kept walking more and more often as the miles wore on. Mile 5 was hard, and by mile 6+, I really just wanted to get done. I ended up finishing in 1:16:16, 5 1/2 minutes behind last year’s pace. It’s in line with my 6 mile training runs, so I can’t complain too too much, but I was kinda bummed with my time. The course was different this year, so the comparison isn’t exact, but it gives you a rough idea of my breakdown from year to year.


I wasn’t too far off from my times last year until I hit mile 5 and 6. I still got 5 miles in in under an hour, which is a big goal of mine for this year’s Celtic Solstice 5 Miler, so I am pretty pleased with that.

After the race we raced home to shower and change so we could get back to Hopkins for the Homecoming lacrosse game! 9th-ranked JHU was hosting the 4th-ranked University of Maryland for the 111th time. It was a great game in front of a sell-out crowd. JHU scored early and often, beating UMD 11-6! JHU is now 70-40-1 all-time against UMD. The game (and alumni weekend) was even attended by notable JHU alumnus Michael Bloomberg and Hopkins fan Bill Belichick.

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eat drink beat umd


Bloomberg, with JHU President Daniels behind him

All in all it was a great weekend! 😀 Can’t wait until my next Alumni Weekend in June… 😎


Bucket List Race

You know you have one – a list of your absolute dream/must-do races. Some are probably more realistic than others (helloooo, Antarctic Marathon), but you’ve probably got a list of at least one. I have one, and it’s quite extensive.

There’s one race on there that I’ve been talking about for years – the Dreaded Druid Hills. It’s put on by Falls Road Running, which puts on my favorite, albeit less brutal, winter race, the Celtic Solstice 5 Miler. Unlike the Celtic Solstice, which is on/around the winter solstice, the Dreaded Druid Hills is generally held on one of the hottest, muggiest days of the year (interested yet?) and is 6.2 miles of torturous hills. Despite its reputation as a killer race, I’ve been drawn to it since I first heard about it. I hoped to be ready for it last year, but as injury-raddled as I was I decided to sit it out and volunteer instead. It’s a fairly small race, usually around 500 runners or so, but the sense of camaraderie is infective. Everyone’s there for the challenge (and bragging rights).


Well, I finally took the plunge. I registered this morning!! I’m a little nervous, but super looking forward to it. Maybe the cabin fever of this winter is to blame? Either way, I’ve got 15 weeks to get ready, which should be more than reasonable, assuming my leg plays nice this year.

For some sadistic reason I love running hills, so this seems like a great excuse to really focus on hills, which should also ramp up my fall half training quite a bit. I’m still on the fence as to what my big fall race will be, but if it’s the Baltimore Half again, I WILL be prepared for those hills this year.