Run Doodle Run

The long road to 26.2


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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.

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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!

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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!!

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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.

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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).

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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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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.

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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 🙂


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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?


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Are You Superstitious?

My first marathon training run is in the books!! *happy dance*

I love the first day of a new training group – it’s like the first day of school, but only way better because it’s all about recess 🙂

We seem to have a really awesome group and I’m so super excited to spend the next four months with them.

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As we were all meeting this morning going through the usual pre-run announcements, a little black cat ran right through our group! (Or, as one woman kept insisting – “he’s brown!”) He kept sneaking through, checking out different places to sniff or hunker down.

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He really seemed to like us – he stuck around the entire time we were gone! Although superstition says he should’ve brought us bad luck, I had a really great run today – and it sounded like I wasn’t the only one 🙂

The weather cooperated with us – the total opposite of last week! It was overcast for most of the run, in the low 70s, and even though it was humid (the remnants of that tropical storm are pushing in), it wasn’t oppressive. Right when I got there I ran into a gentleman I know through my alumni work at Hopkins, but he’s a whole lot faster (he’s a multiple BQer). I ended up running with a man and woman who I just met and had a really great time. He has run one marathon before, while she is also running her first. There was a strong group of probably 10-15 more or less running together, which just made for a really fun run. The sun came out during our last two miles, which was certainly unwelcome, but all-in-all it was a really great first run. I really think it’s going to be a great summer!


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Outdoor Long Run!

It’s been a few weeks, but I FINALLY got a full-length long run in outside! It was a brutally cold 18 degrees and super windy along the water but totally worth it.

wait for perfect conditions

All of Charm City Run’s groups met at the downtown location this morning. As much as I dislike running downtown (it’s so far away and the brick aggravates my achilles), it’s always so great to see so many runners along the waterfront.

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This week was a cutback week for us, but I was on a mission – I needed to get 9.37 miles in today in order to get my first 100+ mile month ever.

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I started off more or less by myself but picked up with some marathoners from the Annapolis store. Once I warmed up enough to not notice the cold (as much), it was a really nice day for a run. My pace was pretty comfortable and mostly in the lower 10s/upper 9s, even though it didn’t feel that fast.

I turned around in Canton when the Annapolis ladies stopped to gel up. In my 5th mile, the Promenade changed from brick to wood planks, like a boardwalk. Well, one of those planks was bowed up – and dammit if my toe didn’t catch it. I tried to stop the fall, but my legs were too cold for me to pull them high enough and yep, I ate it. Hard. When I stopped sliding forward, I hopped up, made sure my Nike Flash jacket wasn’t totally destroyed (which, surprisingly, barely had a mark on it!), dusted myself off, and kept going. The only thing I felt at the time were the scratches on my hand, which had sweat pouring in to them.

Down for less than 20 seconds and didn't even pause the Garmin!

Down for less than 20 seconds and didn’t even pause the Garmin!

The return trip was a bit lonely, as I turned around after the half marathoners but before the full marathoners, but there were so many other runners out there so I was never truly alone.

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My achilles were definitely a bit angry with me for doing such a long run on the brick, but I felt really great right up until the last mile. This was totally unexpected because I haven’t been on the road much lately.

When I got back to the store I immediately changed into some dry clothes and was able to survey the damage from my fall. My knees and hip are scuffed and bruised – I swear I can watch the bruise grow – but thankfully my clothes came out unscathed. Whaddaya know, running really can screw up your knees 😛

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The other great thing about these big group runs? Free brekkie when we get back 🙂 Bagels are good, but free, 10-mile bagels are awesome.


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Hilly Rainy Run

you get wet

And get wet we did… Tonight was a rainy hill run kind of night. It wasn’t too bad, though, because it was 50 degrees out. Woohoo!

Our group looked like a roving Christmas light display, glowing and blinking as we weaved through the neighborhood in all of our neon, reflective glory.

We weren’t out there long – only did about 3.2 miles – but it was fun none the less. Well, until I stepped in a deep puddle on the way home. Whatev. We all get bragging rights for running hills in the dark, when it’s raining, the day before Christmas. 🙂


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Twas the Week Before Christmas…

And my house turned into an infirmary.

Sunday night/Monday morning my mom started getting sick. Uh oh. I haven’t really gotten sick since I had my nose surgery a couple years ago and was hoping to keep it that way. But no luck. Luckily I didn’t get as sick as her (she was literally in bed for 4 days straight), but it still kinda sucked.

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the pups took good care of my mom while she was sick

Monday night I forced myself to do a light workout which actually helped me to feel better. My coaches kept me in line.

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That look from her means I’ve stopped for too long. No more dillydallying, woman! (He’s just hoping I get down on the ground so he can clean all the salty goodness off of my face)

Tuesday I was feeling worse but it was my first track session with my new group! And it rained. Ugh. It was in the upper 30s/low 40s, but a surprisingly large group of people showed up. This run was fueled by Claritin D and Advil, which apparently made me darn fast. We ran 6x400s and I was running each 400 25-40 seconds faster than I did this summer. Holy moly! Maybe my last quarter mile at Celtic last weekend wasn’t a total fluke… Afterwards our group and the full marathon training group met up for drinks, food, and camaraderie at a bar around the corner.

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I was going to workout Wednesday and Thursday, but felt super crummy, so I just took the rest of the week off to get healthy again. This winter is all about building a solid base, not driving myself into the ground before the season even comes around.

Saturday my group met downtown for our long run. I love and hate running downtown. It’s flat, tends to be pretty windy (which super sucks in the winter) and the brick is hard on my legs. But the view is pretty nice and it’s always nice to get a change of scenery. It was an ugly sweater run, but I don’t own an ugly sweater – so I painted my nails festively and had a Santa hat instead. I was going to try to do something with tinsel and bells, but Target failed me.

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5:00am wakeup calls for Saturday long runs are rough no matter what time of the year, but they’re extra awful in the winter. During the summer the sun typically rises shortly after I get up, my parents and dogs are up and about in the house, people are on the roads, the birds are chirping – you know, signs of life. During the winter? It was literally me and the creepy blow up Santa on the neighbor’s portico. No bueno.

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On the bright side, though, the moon was absolutely gorgeous on the drive downtown. Just before the sun came up you could see the entire moon, even though only a sliver of it was lit up.

I ended up running 5 nice, easy miles with two women in my group, averaging about 11 minute miles.

After the long run I did a little bit of damage at Charm City Run (hey, it’s Christmas), grabbed a donut from Dunkin Donuts, and got a Christmas gift for the Beast at the doggie boutique next door, before heading home to shower, change, and head back down to the city to meet a friend for high tea at Gertrudes at the Baltimore Museum of Art. It was surprisingly fun and un-stuffy! We were there chatting for several hours (the wait-staff seemed like they were trying to nudge us out so they could turn the table over for dinner), then I headed off to a party for a bit. I was so exhausted from the long day that I didn’t stay too terribly long.

I had planned on going to bed embarrassingly early when I got home but someone on the street was having a party and the windows in my room are so thin that I knew they’d wake me up when they all left, so I plopped down in the living room with my parents to watch the never-ending Thursday Night Football game on Saturday Night (as if I wasn’t having a hard enough time remember what day it was this week…). I had no stake in the game but it was surprisingly good.

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This morning I slept in a bit and then met Aaron and Beast at the trail for a quick 3.5-4 mile walk. The trail was surprisingly crowded for a chilly Sunday, but we got to see some people running in festive garb – one guy passed us wearing a Santa hat and a lei of big Christmas lights 🙂

icicles!

icicles!

Then I came home to see the awful Ravens “game” (I’ve never been more embarrassed to be a Ravens fan). There were surly a few bad calls, but it was 95% on the team. Now I’m watching the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Finals (watching skating on TV always reminds me of just how much I miss skating…) and drooling over the smell of roasting veggies that’s filling the house.

that's not hot chocolate. that game called for something a *bit* stronger...

that’s not hot chocolate. that game called for something a *bit* stronger…

How was your week(end)? Any great holiday plans coming up??