Saturday, July 28, 2012

Hot Mama Half Marathon

This morning I ran the Hot Mama Half Marathon, which was a virtual half-marathon hosted by Moms Run This Town (MRTT). A virtual race is great because it allows participants to run a course of their choosing, and I chose to run my half-marathon through our nation's capital.

My route, minus a mile since Dailymile
doesn't acknowledge shortcuts. :-/

It was a beautiful, but hot, morning.  I started in Georgetown (where I knew I would find parking).

Specifically, Georgetown Cupcake

After spending 20 minutes searching for a bathroom, I finally started my run around 7:30.

Crossing the Key Bridge, heading into Virginia

Did a quick loop around Roosevelt Island

Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial
from across the Potomac

I ran up to the 14th St. Bridge, where I crossed back in DC and began my "Memorial Miles":

Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Washington Monument
(from the Jefferson Memorial, I think)

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Tidal Basin (not a memorial but very pretty)

FDR Memorial

Eleanor Roosevelt @FDR Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

At the Lincoln Memorial, I tripped and almost landed flat on my face in front of all the tourists.  Luckily, my handheld saved me, and I managed to stay on my feet and keep on running.  Although I'm sure my face-plant would have made for some interesting vacation photos.

I continued up to the Capitol Building, where I turned around and began to head back.

The Capitol

Washington Monument from The Mall

I crossed back into Virginia via the Arlington Memorial Bridge, but I didn't get a picture because I was tired of fishing my iphone out of my waistpack.  Also, because I was just plain tired.

It was a hot run.  I tried to refill my handheld at the various water fountains along the "course" but none of them had enough power to actually get a decent arc of water going so I could position my handheld underneath.  In the end, I wound up purchasing a bottle of water from a vendor for $2.35!  That kinda hurt.

I hit 13.1 miles just as I crossed into Virginia, so I finished my half-marathon in 2:05:38.  My training plan had me running 14 miles today, though, so I kept going for another mile.  The devil and the angel on my shoulders were debating whether or not I should run 15 miles.  I'm not sure who was arguing for what, but my legs did their own thing and stopped running at exactly 14 miles.  I had another .5 mile to go before I was back in Georgetown though, so I did a mix of run/walking until I got back to my car.

As soon as I unlocked my car, I tore upon the envelope that I received from MRTT.  Inside was the finisher's medal and a little Hot Mama decal.  Woot!!

Hot Mama Medal

Hot Mama  Decal

This was a super fun race.  1) Because I won. (hehe -- its the only time I'll ever win a race, I'm sure :), 2) because I got to choose the course and run where I wanted to run and 3) because for $11, I got a little bit of bling and a little bit of swag!

If you've never done a virtual race, I highly recommend it.  So fun!  Thanks MRTT, for hosting such a cool (or hot :) event.  I'm ready for the next one! :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wishlist Wednesday: Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Runs

I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about races.  Seriously, if I could race very weekend, I would. On Wednesdays, I post about races that I wish/hope/dream I will/could run in the future.  Whether or not I am physically capable of completing some of these races is a different story altogether!

Wishlist Wednesday: Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Runs 50K / 50M / 100M

I've never been to Lake Tahoe.  In fact, I've never really wanted to go...until I saw the pictures for this race:

Photo by Jason Chan

Photo by Jason Chan

Photo by Jason Chan

Photo by Jason Chan

Stunning.  Breathtaking.  Sign. Me. Up.

Except...*gulp*...this is not an easy race.  Those beautiful mountains?  Killer.  From the race website:
This Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Runs take place on high elevation alpine and sub-alpine forest trails and dirt roads in the Carson Spur of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The event is located on the northeast side of Lake Tahoe. All distances begin and end at the Spooner Lake State Park, which is at 7,000 feet. The highest point of the event is just below the 9,214 foot Snow Valley Peak (which also provides one of the best views on the course). The low point on both courses is at the bottom of the now "infamous" Red House Loop (A Taste of Hell) at approximately 6800 feet. 
The motto of this race is "A Glimpse of Heaven, A Taste of Hell."  Holy smokes, I like that.

The TRT Endurance Runs include a 50K, 50M, and a 100M, so your elevation gain differs between each event.  Nonetheless, it sounds like those mountains are brutal, regardless of the distance.

Still, I think the views are worth it.  The TRT is now officially on my bucket list.

I have to thank Megan over at Running Aimlessly for bringing this race to my attention.  She just ran the 50-miler this past weekend, and ROCKED IT.  This is her second 50 mile event, and she's run five marathons and five 50Ks.  You guys should go check her out.  She's totally bad-a**.

What races are you excited for?


Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Runners love to run.  Runners love to talk about running.  Runners love to convert recruit non-runners to their religion obsession.

I am a runner who is guilty of all the above.  So I was super excited to run the Rockville Twilight 8K with two friends - one who runs occasionally, and one who does not run at all.  This was their first race.  I was really excited for the both of them...and for me because I just love races!

Thankfully the weather was cool and we were spared the suffocating heat and humidity thats been enveloping our area recently.  The race was festive and well-attended despite the rain (drizzle) that had been coming down all day.

Waiting for the race to begin

The strategy would be a mix of running and walking, which I really advocate for those just getting into running.  The goal was to finish the race injury-free...and we rocked it.  

We ran the first mile and decided to walk through the first aid station (I also advocate new runners walk through aid stations so you can maximize water intake and rest just a tad; I did during the Marine Corps Half that I ran earlier this year, and PR'd).  This course was surprisingly hilly, and we ran/walked the next 3 miles over a few rolling hills.

It got dark pretty early in the race, so we were running through the dark streets of Rockville for most of the event.  Residents came out to cheer us on, which was awesome, though one young boy felt he needed to be brutally honest with us and yelled, "Why are you walking?!" to which my friend replied, "Because I'm a failure!"  We got a good laugh out of that.  You'll understand in 30 years, kid.  

The volunteers were also great, some of the most encouraging volunteers I've encountered.  

Just before the 4 mile mark, there was a live rock band playing and the lead singer sounded...well...young.  And he was!  I think all members are under the age of 15.  The band is called Throwing Wrenches and they were quite awesome.

As we passed the 4 mile mark, we decided to just run the last mile of the race.  We passed a ton of people and finished strong at 1:09.  The ladies did AWESOME.

We got our beer and hung out curbside talking about what podcasts and television.  And Burning Love (have you seen this?  YOU NEED TO.  So funny).  But the best part of the night?  Talking about running another race.  Oh yes.  I'll keep you posted as to what we decide.  Here's to hoping the addiction has started. :)

This weekend I also found out that my once-in-a-while-I-run-on-the-treadmill-running sister ran TWO MILES outdoors last week!  I am so proud of her.  She said she took it slow, listened to her body, walked when she needed to and stretched when she felt her body needed it.  I hope the addiction takes a hold of her too.  The thing is, she lives in Hawaii, so she really has no excuse not to run, right?  I mean, this is her playground:

(Hehe.  I just outed you on my blog.  Now you HAVE to run. :)

Seriously, though.  So proud of her.  One of these days we're gonna race together.

Do you try to inspire others to run?  Do you recruit friends to run with you?


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Falling in Love with Running

"How did you fall in love with running?" my sister asked me recently.  She's an infrequent runner, mostly on the treadmill, she says, because she needs the gym TVs to keep her mind occupied, she says, otherwise she gets soooooo bored (italics her implication, not mine).  "At what point did running go from being a chore and a bore to being actual fun?" she asked (bad alliteration, all mine).

I get the "when did you start running?" question a lot, but the "how did you fall in love with running?" was a new one for me.  Learning to love to run has been a gradual process for me.  I didn't just wake up one day and declare, "I LOVE to run!"  Its been slow, and taken a number of years to get to the point that I am at now - that is, totally and completely in love with running (I know theres an awesome metaphor in here somewhere, but its too early in the morning and my brain is still in bed).  Here are a few things that got me off the couch and kept me motivated in those earli(-er) years:

Race!  What really got DJ Research and I out the door was training for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K.  On a whim, I signed us up and so we got our butts off the couch and feet on the road so we wouldn't be complete pansies at the race.  Race atmosphere is SO FUN - exciting, exhilarating, contagious, addictive.  It will make you want to run another race.

Talk & run.  I remember it being such a revelation when I learned that as a newbie runner, I should be running at a conversational pace - a pace at which you can carry on a conversation.  I didn't have to try to be speed demon and wind myself before I reached a mile.  I could just run slow and easy...AND catch up on all the latest gossip with my running buddy!  Sadly, DJ Research is not much of a talker when running, so it was basically me talking to My Self.  But Self is a good listener, so it was cool.

Slowly increase mileage.  When I first started running, I ran 2-3 miles at a time.  Then I upped it to 3-6 miles.  Then I ran 13.1 miles without training and almost died (DJ Research and I did an unofficial half-marathon for some ungodly reason).  I dropped my mileage back down to 3-4 miles, and I stayed at that mileage for a LONG time (think over a year).  It wasn't until I felt strong enough--mentally and physically--to run 3-4 miles that I decided it was time to up the ante and I began to train for a half-marathon.  My point is, I didn't push myself to do what I didn't want to do.  Mentally, I wanted to stay at 3-4 miles.  So I gave myself the break to do just that.

Have a running buddy.  Frankly, this point is key.  Having someone to push you, encourage you and just keep you accountable helps tremendously with running consistently and reaching your goals.  I was lucky in that my running buddy was my husband.  DJ Research was really the one that carried the running torch, and I just sorta ran alongside him, frequently sometimes grumbling that we weren't back in our apartment watching TV.  He pushed me gently to keep up, and because he was so into it, I was also kinda-sorta into it.  But his persistence as a runner, and as my coach and cheerleader, paid off and eventually I was just as running-obsessed as he was.

If you don't have a running buddy, I suggest joining a local running club and getting to know running enthusiasts in your area.  Runners LOVE to talk about running, and LOVE to encourage new runners to join their religion sport, so chances are you will meet a lot of great, inspiring people who will help you meet your goals.  If you don't have a running club in your area, there are lots of running forums online where runners hang out...virtually.  One that comes to mind is Another Mother Runner, an online running resource for moms but is also helpful for women in general.

These are just a few things that helped me get out and run.  Any other tips out there?

How did you fall in love with running?


Whatever Works

I am a runner that hates fitness.  You know, stuff like sit-ups, push-ups, burpees, squats, plank, etc., etc., etc.  Core work.  Ugh.  Stuff I should be doing on my cross-training days, of which I have 3 per week throughout my marathon training.  Since I am 6 weeks into my training plan, by now I should have done 18 days of core work.  In full disclosure, I've only done one.

Sundays are a cross training day.  Today started like any other lazy Sunday.  DJ Research was already an hour-and-a-half into his run when I finally rolled out of bed.  Luckily, Nugget was still asleep.  I made breakfast and caught up on my blogs, then Nugget awoke and we hung out watching fire truck videos.  The DJ returned, showered, and we headed out for some family errands.

When we got back to put Nugget down for his nap, I was supposed to do a core work routine.  Which I didn't want to do, of course, so I told myself to just go out for a short run.  Which I also didn't want to do, so I took a nap instead.

Forty-five minutes later I woke up famished, and headed downstairs for a bite, upset at myself for having missed my chance to workout.  I figured Nugget would be up soon, and plus I had a skype date with my mom and my sister in an hour.  Oh well.  I devoured a slice of the DJ's leftover cheese pizza and something weird happened.  I suddenly felt like a million bucks!

I threw on my running clothes and headed out the door, excited to be out but also feeling a little guilty that I was running rather than cross training. "Heeeeeeey," I thought, "I know a way to make this core work thing fun!"  I would do core work on the run!

I ran down the street and tackled a nearby big hill, focusing on form and my breathing.  Cresting the hill, I kept my pace up until I got to the neighborhood elementary school where I jumped the fence (ok, no, I just ran through the gate) to the playground, and did 5 push-ups (yes, 5! I am that bad-ass :-/ ), 45 squats, 1/2 a pull-up (c'mon, at least I attempted it), 25 leg lifts, and a 1:00 minute plank.

I then got back on the street and ran the mile loop again, tackling the big hill, keeping my pace up as I ran to the elementary school, then cranking out another set of core work.  I did this loop four times, and got home 20 minutes late for my "date."  Luckily, my mom and sister are super understanding of my crazy.

This is an unconventional way of doing core work for me, but let me tell you, it was awesome.  I was soaked by the time I got home.  The core exercises really made running difficult because I could feel how tired my core muscles were and I was focusing really hard to maintain my form.  I loved that I could see immediately how these exercises were directly impacting my running.  Plus, trying to improve my running time on each loop made me feel like I was in a relay.  With myself.

Hey, whatever works.

Do you look for creative ways to cross-train?


Reunited...and a Random Conversation

I run my short runs on various routes through my neighborhood.  There are ample sidewalks and not too much traffic, but there is traffic nonetheless so my focus is not only on my run, but also on not getting run over.

I run my long runs on a paved trail near my house.  Its a beautiful trail that runs along a creek and is mostly under tree cover.  I see it as a treat to myself for my training during the week.  I love this trail.

Morning light

My trail and I have not seen each other for a few weeks, though.  I was out of town, and ran my long runs on another beautiful trail, but it wasn't the same.  Then "my" trail was closed due to damage from a crazy storm that passed through the area, so I had to run my long run for the week through my neighborhood.  That was NOT FUN.  Running 12 miles alongside traffic was not my idea of a good time.

Running through my neighborhood sometimes
feels like a game of Frogger. (src)

"My" trail and I were reunited this weekend, and let me just say, it felt so good.  As soon as I drove into the parking lot, I knew it was going to be a good run.  

One reason I love this trail is because its a great and nearby respite from the loud noise and bustle of urban living.  Its beautiful, and (mostly) quiet, and its a whole lot cooler under the canopy of leaves.  And although I like to call it "my" trail, I am in no way its singular user; this trail is heavily used by runners/walkers in the area, so I get to exchange Hellos, Good Mornings, and Nice job!s many times throughout my run, which is something I love.

Yesterday the pleasantry-exchange was taken to a whole new level when I actually approached a runner and struck up a conversation.  Have you ever struck up a conversation with another runner while running?  I usually don't, but she seemed nice, plus I also wanted to know what she was training for.  She was wearing a hydration pack, so I figured she was out for a long run.  She was also wearing pink Pro Compression socks, which is my favorite brand of compression socks.  In fact, I was wearing my orange pair.  

She passed me as I was nearing my halfway (and thus turnaround) point, and I caught up to her on my back.   I tried to make my presence known that I was approaching her so I wouldn't scare her, but I did a poor job so when I asked "Are you training for something?" she practically screamed.  Oops.

Once she recovered from her fright, she said she was training for the Baltimore marathon, and was 15 miles into a 20-mile training run.  She was running at a nice clip and I was impressed that she looked so fresh after 15 miles.  We chatted for about a mile and then I left her to finish her run in peace (she was so nice and didn't seem to mind that I totally bombed her long training run).

I really enjoyed that encounter, and may incorporate conversations with random runners on the trail as part of my marathon training.  You've been warned. :)

I finished my run, stretched at my car, then headed home to my family unit.  A great run on my favorite trail, a friendly conversation with a random runner, and a return to my family when I was done made for a really great day.

Have you ever struck up a conversation with another runner while running?  Or has anyone struck up a conversation with you while running?

Do you have a favorite trail or route that you love to run?


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wishlist Wednesday: Big Sur...and Badwater

I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about races.  I don't think about how well I would do, or if I can even physically complete the race.  I just think about how fun! it would be to run...this one! and this one! and this one!

Seriously, if I could race every weekend, I would.

Hence: Wishlist Wednesdays, a weekly post about races that I wish/hope/dream I will/could run in the future.  Hopefully you will discover a new race that you'd like to run (wanna run it together?!)  And if you have a race on your bucket list, I'd LOVE to hear about it!!

Wishlist Wednesday: Big Sur International Marathon - Big Sur, California

The Big Sur Marathon is a race that I'm sure is on many a-runners wishlist. Starting just south of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and ending in the town of Carmel, California, its supposed to be one of the the most beautiful marathons in North America, if not the world.

From the course description: "Featuring rolling hills, Big Sur is the largest rural marathon in the world, winding through redwoods, paralleling ranches, and offering stunning views of the Pacific Ocean."  (all photos take from the official race website):

The course cut off is 6 hours and I'm not sure I would make it considering I would be stopping every 10 feet to take a picture!  

Not only is it a beautiful course but also a challenging one.  In addition to the rolling hills, there is also a 2 mile, 500 foot ascent from Hurricane Point around mile 10.  Not to mention the ocean wind pounding you as you run.  Beautiful but brutal.  

The race does it right, though.  Taiko drummers are positioned at Hurricane Point and the beats of their drums add power to your step as you begin the long 2-mile ascent.  

Taiko drummers and...taiko runners?

Cresting the hill, your legs are given reprieve as you run downhill and into the sounds of pianist Michael Martinez as he serenades you on a baby grand piano.  

Michael Martinez, BSIM live pianist!

You carry the music with you as cross Bixby Bridge, one of the most scenic points of the race.  

Bixby Bridge

Bixby Bridge and that California Fog

Those three miles sounds ah-mazing.  But it does leave me wondering, whats left for the rest of the race?  Guess I will have to run it myself to find out.

Big Sur Marathon also has some sweet bling.
Last year (2011) the Big Sur Marathon sold out in 29 days.  This year it sold out in 26 hours.  I can only imagine how fast it will sell out when I am ready to run it in a few years (fingers crossed!)  Better practice my mouse-clicking skills now!

To great race reports about running Big Sur can be found here and here.

Have you run Big Sur?  Tell me about it!
Whats your favorite race?  Tell me about it!

And since I didn't post a Wishlist Wednesday last week (or the week before, but I'm playing the vacation card on that one), I leave you with a race I NEVER EVER want to do: Badwater.

Badwater is a 135-mile footrace from the lowest point in the United States--Badwater Basin in Death Valley--to Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous U.S.  The race doesn't actually end at the summit of Mount Whitney, but there are some who have run right through the finish line and up to the summit...and back down to the starting line in the Badwater Basin, roughly 300 miles.  Thats called a Double Badwater.  Or just pure c-r-a-z-y.

The race is held in mid-July when temperatures are at their highest.  As you can imagine, running in Death Valley can get a little hot.  Or a lotta hot.  Like more than 120F hot.  Course support is not provided and each runner must bring his/her own crew and all supplies.  

Running Badwater is not on my wishlist of races, but spectating it certainly is.  Maybe one day.

A great race report from a pacer at Badwater 2010 can be found here.  And a great post on why someone would want to run Badwater can be found here (also, check out Operation Jack, a father who runs to fight autism).

Is there a race that you would never run but are still very intrigued by?


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Vacation from Vacation

I'm always surprised at how long it takes me to readjust to the rhythms of my day-to-day life when I return from vacation.  Its as if I refuse to acknowledge I am back at home, back at work, back at constructing my own dinner menus (which I am horribly bad at).  Instead, I continue to mentally drift through that lacksidasical vacation haze of beach-side meanderings and late morning sleep-ins, even though my life around me has resumed screaming its commands: "WAKE UP EARLY!" "DON'T BE LATE!!" DON'T SLOUCH!" (oh, sorry, that last one was rollover from childhood).

Where I still am (src)

My refusal to return mentally from vacation means that I feel like I am always in catch-up mode.  In regards to running it means that I only ran twice during the week (not counting this weekend).  And neither time was early in the morning.  

The first run was a 3-mile run in the evening as DJ Research was putting Nugget to bed.  I was bored with my usual 3-mile loop so I decided to mix things up.  Rather than turn right out of my front door, I turned left through a different part of the neighborhood.  Result: still boring.  But at least I got it done.

The second run was more enjoyable of the two.  I did a 7-mile run around Lake A. on my lunch break.  Last time I did this run was in late March when the weather was significantly cooler.  On this first go round I tackled the 7-miles in 67 minutes.  I'm a stronger runner now and was hoping to make it back in under an hour.  This go round, I did it in 60 minutes flat which, considering the heat and humidity, I am a-ok with.  (And DO NOT ask if I showered after my run unless you are prepared for the TRUTH  <------ this statement sponsored by my stick of deodorant).

Do you work out on your lunch break?


Monday, July 9, 2012

A Memorable Vacation and a Meh-morable Run

We're back from vacation, but I'm in denial.  We spent the week on the beach with the DJ's family, and it was so totally amazing.  If I could spend the rest of my life on the beach with family, I would.  And considering I'm from Hawai'i, that really could be my reality.  Que sera.

I won't bore you with the minute details of our vacation.  Instead, here are two pictures that sum up the week:

Gorgeous scenery and weather.

Nugget crazy happy to be hanging with his big cousins.

I managed to run a little over 28 miles for the week, which is more than I expected.  This vacation was also great because every run was memorable, or meh-morable, for its own reasons.  Here's the breakdown in reverse order:

4th run - 5 miles
Why it was memorable: 5 miles of randomness (2 miles of fartleks, 2 miles of trails, 1 mile of meandering).  Came upon some unexpected trails and decided to run them.  Almost got lost.  Almost face-planted multiple times.  Regardless, trail running is awesome.

3rd run - 10 miles
Why it was memorable:  10 miles PR (1:29 @ 8:49 m/m).  Great weather, great scenery on a mostly flat course.  It was also the 4th of July, and a PR felt like an appropriate way to celebrate.

2nd run - 7 miles
Why it was memorable:  7 mile family run, which is the longest family run to date.  Nugget seemed to enjoy himself until the last .5 mile when he decided to attempt his escape and tried to climb out.  A quick tightening of the straps, and we finished strong.

1st run - 6 miles
Why it was meh-morable:  THE MOST BORING RUN OF MY LIFE.  The plan was a 6 mile family run around my in-law's neighborhood loop.  I've walked that loop before, and I remember it taking FOREVER.  Or at least, a really long time.  So I was expecting the neighborhood loop to be somewhere between 2-3 miles, meaning we would run 2-3 laps and be done with it.  WRONG.

It was 1/2 a mile.

Which means we had to run 12 laps to complete our 6 mile run.

Also, the loop was not flat.  It was mostly gradual downhill with one steep uphill (we could have run it the other way, but we felt that flying down the steep hill with the stroller wasn't particularly safe).  So we had to run that hill 12 times.

Usually I'm the one to push the stroller on our runs.  I really enjoy it while DJ Research really hates it.  But I wasn't about to push that stroller up that hill 12 times.  We each ran 3 miles pushing Nugget.

The DJ's turn!  Loop 11

We did it.  It was boring as hell but we did it.

I guess its technically like running around a track, which I haven't done since high school.  Even then I hated running in a circle.  Honestly, I would take the dreadmill over the track any day.

How about you?  If you had to choose track or treadmill, which would you choose?

Have you run any meh-morable runs?

Do you celebrate holidays by going for a long run?