Run Doodle Run

The long road to 26.2


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 😉

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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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Disappointment and Surprise

My left shin splint/tendonitis has been acting up since my 7 mile run. After the 8 mile run the other week it throbbed and spazed all week, even while I was sitting on the sofa watching tv. Looking at how things have been progressing and the amount of time left on the calendar between now and the Maryland Half, I have decided to defer my half to next year. Although I was really looking forward to the race, I don’t want to risk doing more damage or injuring myself even further. I’m still running the 10k in a few weeks and the 5k in June, but I’m going to be capping my runs at about 5 or 6 miles for a while. This will also hopefully give me time to focus more on strengthening my legs and hips, which I think are actually the root of the problem.

That being said, I went out for a hill run today. You know, the best and worst hill in town. The one I’ve never run all the way up. Last time I ran 3 repeats, this time I planned on 4.

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Well, today I conquered it. Twice. Well, technically the second time included a 10-15 foot walk near the top before restarting the run, but I made it. The mental aspect of running has always been much more burdensome for me than the physical, and today I conquered both. Restarting once I stopped to walk has always been a challenge. Today it wasn’t.

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Green Sunday

Happy St. Patty’s Day!! shamrock-image

In the past I’ve participated in the local St. Patty’s Day race and the Shamrock Half in VA Beach, but with the entry fee of the former rising and the coat of a hotel for the latter prohibiting, I decided to pass on a race this year – there are others I’d rather put my limited funds towards. Yesterday was supposed to be a washout so I panned on running today before scarfing down a proper corned beef meal. Well, it turned out to be gorgeous yesterday – go figure. Today, however, was cold and spitting snow. I planned to pull back on mileage this week and just did 3.5 miles. As I was pulling back on mileage though, I thought a harder run was in order. I managed to get 3.5 miles in just about 43 min, which is close to my 5k pr pace.

Now that I’m getting more comfortable (mentally) with pushing my limits I’m going to try to incorporate it more frequently. They say running is 90% mental and I couldn’t agree more (on both ends of that phrase). For me the mental component has been the biggest struggle. The body needs to catch up but I find that less exhausting than getting my mind on board. Once the mind clicks, everything else seems to follow rather quickly.


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Finally

It may be three weeks too late for the Celtic Solstice, but I finally got 5 miles in in under an hour! 59:33 to be exact. Woohoo!! Better late than never, right? Plus it puts me in a strong mindset going into half training for the spring, which is quickly creeping up on me. As cold as it is out right now, it’s hard to believe that spring is just around the corner.


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You can call me Rainbow Bright

So it seems that I have finally found a pair of lightweight, soft running shoes that feel good and look good! *cue the choir of angels*

Last week a pair of the much-adored Saucony Kinvara 3s arrived at my door, and I couldn’t have been happier. Everyone everywhere seems to love these shoes, so I was sure after the toebox issues with the Saucony Ride 5s, these were my shoes.  They’re super lightweight and a little cushiony and have some seriously awesome colors. I quickly tried them on and they felt fantastic, so I laced them up Thursday morning and hit the trails. Omg. Oww. Pain. The shoes themselves are fine, even with the lower heel-to-toe drop (4mm, instead of 12mm like my Ride 4s) – but the back of the shoe comes up super high and gave me awful blisters after just one mile. I can’t even remember the last time I got blisters from athletic shoes. Seeing as I had run one mile out, I had to make it back… that was the longest mile ever. All was not lost though – other than a bit of heel skin – as I did eek out a mile PR on the outbound trip. And another trip back to the UPS Store.

So after this run, out of frustration, I stopped at Dicks Sporting Goods on my way to the gym and picked up a pair of Brooks Pure Cadences. purecadence-o-opt1These shoes are part of the Brooks Pure Project, and are lightweight, cushiony, and flexible, with just a touch of stability. And did I mention it’s like running on clouds? I (hesitantly) took these shoes out for my 6 miler on Saturday. After Thursday’s mishap, I was a bit nervous to try these out on my long run, but the squishiness and hot pinkness were just too much to resist. I did, however, put my old shoes in my husband’s car, which we parked further down the trail with some water, in case we needed it. I definitely did not need to even think about changing shoes. Aside from a little bit of stiffness in the first mile or so, these shoes are a God-send. My feet and legs have never felt so good after a run – and best of all? No blisters! But let me tell you, the neon pink shoes look superhot with my neon green calf sleeve and my neon orange shirt… at least no one should hit me while running on the road! Unless they’re blinded by my neon-ness… In love

Our run took us down the trail (downhill) about 3 miles, before we veered off the trail (gasp!) and onto the road up a hill. If you look at the Baltimore Half elevation map, you notice it’s surprisingly hilly. I grew up in Baltimore and had no idea Baltimore had such hills. So in order to not get our asses handed to us by the streets, we are adding more and more hills into our training, aside from the 2-3% incline the trail gives us.Doc1This hill wasn’t long, but boy was it tough. The worst of it’s barely half a mile, but it’s really quite steep at parts – far steeper than I ever realized driving it. It was definitely tough, and now we know we really need to work on hills, but we conquered it. And all 6 miles of our run. In 1:16:53. Aside from a 1/2 mile walk break just before the big hill, we ran almost the entire distance, which is a huge step for me.

As if 6 miles Saturday wasn’t enough, we had a 5k race on Sunday evening at our favorite local vineyard, Boordy Vineyards. photo1It was a trail/road race, with the beginning and end of the race going through the fields around the vineyards, and the bulk of the distance on the paved road in front of the vineyard. When I think trail, I think grass and dirt and some bumps here and there, but this was more like off-roading than trail. There were divots everywhere, some of which could have easily broken an ankle or 50. It seemed like a lot of people were being fairly cautious on this part of the race, with good reason. The seriously uneven nature of the ground really aggravated my leg injury, and kept me in a fair bit of pain for most all of the race. But, I did something I have never done before in a race. I sucked it up and kept photo2moving. There were lots of times where I wanted to stop and walk, but I kept telling myself it wasn’t going to hurt any less if I walked, so keep running. And I’m glad I did – I got my self a shiny new PR Open-mouthed smile 36:59. Although I’m spending much of today with icebags strapped to my legs, I’m super thrilled that I’ve made so much progress in just two months. Back in June it took me 43:35 to get through the Baltimore Women’s Classic – that means that even with the injury issues, I’ve cut over 7 1/2 minutes in just 8 weeks. If I can do that much in 8 weeks, I can’t wait to see how much more I can do in the 8 weeks leading up to the half.

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On a side note, I’ve discovered a wonderful pre-run snack – Oatnut bread with honey. Super delicious. And if you can squeeze it in, a banana is a great accompaniment (or, if it doesn’t completely gross you out like it does me, cut the banana up and put it on the bread with the honey and some peanut butter).