DC, Fitness, run, runner, Running

Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Race Review-23 Weeks Pregnant

Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Race Review-23 Weeks Pregnant

postrace

Post-race with my husband

I have not been writing much lately because my husband and I recently found out big news- we are expecting. My first trimester was rough both physically and mentally, but staying active helped me tremendously. I spoke with my doctor and I am allowed to continue training. I just have to be careful, self-aware, and take everything slowly. I was considering completely scrapping the race schedule I had planned for the year. Instead, I figured it was worth a try to at least register for the events I wanted to participate in and run on race day only if I felt up to it. I was feeling good on Saturday and my training had been going well so I gave the 10 Miler a shot. I am very happy to have had this experience.

Before I found out about the pregnancy, I had hoped to run this race at a 9m/mi pace or faster.  I knew immediately that having a goal at this point was not wise, and even though I am still fairly small, running is MUCH HARDER. My hips are achy and I just don’t feel like I can move very fast, even when I am putting forth the effort.

This race was very different compared to my past experiences. I took restroom breaks and even walked periodically. I also tried my hardest to just take in my surroundings and remove my mind from focusing on time.

PROS: This was my second time running the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler and it is definitely an impressive and well organized event. It is friendly to all skill levels and I highly recommend it to any runner! There are so many good things about this race and I am only going to touch on a few of them. There is certainly a reason this event is a bucket list item for so many runners.

Course: The race course is beautiful and flat. In my opinion, this alone makes the Cherry Blossom run worthwhile. Last year the blossoms were at their peak during the race, so it was a bit disappointing that most of them had blown off from the storm. Even with this, the course was still very visually pleasing. I recommend running this event to all runners. It is well worth a trip to DC!

Volunteers: It was freezing on race day and the wind was extremely strong. I was so happy to be greeted with kindness at each water stop and at the finish line. The individuals who came out to volunteer on a day like that have hearts of gold!

Adaptability: The organizers of this race are ready for anything! In 2015 they had to deal with a last minute course change due to a traffic accident. This year they had awful weather to work around.

Environment:  The race environment was very positive, much like last year. There were a lot more spectators last year, but there were still plenty of individuals cheering for the runners. Even though I was extremely slow, I still felt supported.

CONS: The only complaints I have about the race were related to the weather and the difficulty of running while pregnant. The race organizers warned us regarding many of the changes they would be making the night before so they did not come as a shock. Below are some more of the specifics I noticed.

Race signage:  The race organizers informed the night before the race that signage would be removed for safety reasons.  This was a pain in some aspects, but I was happy to know about it in advance.  The removal of the split time clocks was actually a good thing for me. I am a pretty competitive person, so the lack of knowing how fast I was going was actually healthy for me since I am trying to take things easy.  Had I been able to see my progress, I may have pushed myself.

Despite the positive situation for me surrounding the split time clock removal, the lack of signage produced some anarchy in the start corrals. I could not personally find where I was supposed to start, so I eyeballed the field and ended up just jumping in. I ended up around primarily people who were running at a similar pace, but there were some people who were much faster and I could tell they were frustrated. Some of these individuals tried to speed by and weave in and out of the slower runners. In many cases they were a bit frightening. I was afraid of being tripped or knocked down at times.

Water stops: I recall more water stops being available last year. I think there were only 2 or 3 this time around. I am assuming this was weather related, but I was extremely concerned about the fact that I felt extreme thirst at times and I was instructed to keep well hydrated.  I am planning on running the Pittsburgh Half Marathon in May if things continue to go well for me. I now plan on wearing a hydration belt to prevent issues like this from reoccurring.

Restrooms-Let me start by saying that I have never used the bathroom midrace before, so I don’t really know what porta-potty situations are typically like. This time things were different. I had to stop, twice and felt a bit desperate at times. Despite my lack of mid-race bathroom break experience, I thought the restroom options seemed to be lacking in this race. This certainly could just be a complication coming from running 10 miles while pregnant, nevertheless, I thought the lines seemed unreasonably long. Another problem was a bit more disturbing:  I saw several men stop to urinate behind trees. Not something anyone wants to see on the National Mall.

Cherry Blossom Nigel

Sir Nigel proudly wearing my medal

 

Advertisements
Standard
beagle, cold, DC, Fitness, run, runner, Running

Running After Illness…My Epic Failure

NigelandI

Bad week for running but great company

I went for my first run on Sunday after being sidelined for a week with a cold. I tried to keep the run short and quick, but to be honest with you; I was slightly disappointed in my performance. Breathing was definitely still a challenge despite feeling a lot better and I was forced to use my sports bra as a Kleenex dispenser. Even though I knew my first run back would be a challenge, I still ran significantly slower than I even anticipated I would. I kept a 9:05 pace. I was hoping to keep it under 9:00 since I am still recuperating, so I guess I wasn’t that far off, but I still felt disappointed.

I decided to give it a shot again this morning and I did even worse! I was less congested, breathing was easier, and it was a beautiful day outside. Despite all of that, I just couldn’t get moving. I was extremely slow and kept a 9:36 pace, which was very discouraging to me, but in addition to my slow pace, I stopped early too. I usually try to make my morning weekday runs the distance of a 5K race and add more distance as time allows, but today I only went 2.80 miles. There is a store near my home that sells flowers and they already have their Christmas trees out (not okay…). One had fallen down and blocked the entire sidewalk. Instead of redirecting myself and pushing forward, I used the down tree as an excuse to end my run and go home.

I know some super tough people who are able to work out despite being ill and I thought that maybe with all of this internal willpower I have right now that I could too. I was wrong. I am clearly not someone with that ability and right now I am just hoping that I bounce back quickly and that I do not lose too much of the progress I made over the summer and fall months. I plan to do yoga tomorrow morning for a little extra rest and hopefully my next run will be more successful!

Standard
beagle, coldweather, DC, Fitness, run, runner, Running

Cold Weather Running Survival Plan

It is officially cold out and I hate it! I have been sick since Monday (which I blame on the rapid temperature drop) so I have been resting. My ability to breathe has been so messed up that even light exercise is out of the question. Once I recover, I do have an action plan to try to stay active.

Nigelsnuggle

Even Nigel knows that winter is the worst!

One would think that as a transplant from the Pittsburgh area I would thrive in DC’s slightly warmer climate; however this has not been the case in years past. I have never been an individual who enjoys the cold and this is sadly the point in the year where I usually I fall off of the wagon and break out the blankets. I call it my hibernation period. I am extremely determined to be better this year, which is why I am taking some steps to prevent this yearly hiatus.


I already have some cold weather gear, but I decided to beef up my cold weather wardrobe a bit. I recently went to TJ Maxx and purchased two pairs of fleece lined running tights, a pair of thin gloves, and a thicker fleece lined pair for when it gets really cold out. I was able to walk out spending under $100 on all of those things, along with a few extra items (body wash and fancy chocolates). I was extremely proud because a good pair usually goes for over $80 and I could see high original prices on the pieces I purchased.


It was definitely a challenge for me to find the right fit in a pair of running tights. I am on the short side but I have an hourglass figure, so most of the medium sized tights I tried on were about 4 inches too long and most of the tights in size small fit lengthwise, but they were painfully tight and I would risk splitting my pants if I tried to run in them. I have worn my capri length tights for as long as possible because of this problem. I actually did not own anything longer, but I dedicated over an hour of my time to finding something full length that would work for me because I am sick of being cold. I finally settled on 2 amazing pairs of pants (both different sizes). The first was made by a brand called Avalanche and the other was by a brand called Marika tek.

Coldweatherclothes

My winter running swag

I was so proud of my new gear that the following morning, I woke up and went on a run with the thicker pair of my new tights (the Avalanche Pair), my new gloves, a thick fleece lined shirt, a headband to warm my ears, and a windbreaker. At the time, I believed the windbreaker was necessary because the wind has been unbearable here; however I actually ended up being far too warm. My run was difficult because I was only able to focus on how warm I was the entire time. I made the same mistake at the race I ran over the weekend and struggled there because of the heat too.


I also took the opportunity to try out the Marika tek pair. I think they may be a bit too large for me because I had trouble keeping them up and noticed they are slightly large in the waist. I may see if they fit my sister since she is slightly taller than me and I will look for them in a smaller size. Despite the fit, they were great quality and they were sufficiently warm.


I know that even having warm apparel may not be enough for me when things get really cold. That is why I also purchased a Living Social Deal for a month long membership trial at a local gym close to my workplace. I am typically anti-gym because they are so expensive here and they are usually overcrowded, but I was able to get the deal for about $20. I haven’t activated it yet and I am holding off until conditions get bit worse outside and my cold goes away. For now I will make good use of the sidewalks and enjoy running outdoors until things become too cold or unsafe outdoors.


I am pleased to say that I think I have set myself up for success and I hope I will be able to keep pumping out runs this winter.

Standard
cancer, DC, Fitness, mutliplemyeloma, run, runner, Running

MMRF Race for Research – Thank you!!!!

MMRF Team photo

A special thank you to all who donated from Bud’s Bulldogs!

This weekend my family and I participated in the Multiple Myeloma Race for Research. It was an incredibly moving event where patients fighting this disease, their families, medical researchers, and those who have tragically lost loved ones came together to help raise money and awareness of this rare form of cancer.

The fact that my family was able to participate in this race was such a blessing. After my dad’s diagnosis, my family went through some uncertain and difficult times with all of the various hospital visits and treatments he had to endure. But seeing him participate in Saturday’s race was such a testament to what the research produced by the MMRF can do for a patient.  At this event, my dad was able to meet other multiple myeloma survivors and we were able to see firsthand the other lives that the MMRF has impacted. Some of the survivors even ran in the 5K race (and I definitely saw a few of them cross the finish line before me.)

MMRF Survivor Photo

MMRF Survivor Photo

In my opinion, the events leading up to the race had the greatest impact. It was hard not to cry tears of joy over how far things have progressed in the right direction. This became abundantly clear while watching my father pose for photos with the other survivors and hearing stories from the honorees who have done so much to help others.

The MMRF honored two people who have gone above and beyond to inspire others. First they honored a local doctor who has dedicated her life to helping patients. They also honored a phenomenal woman who has been fighting multiple myeloma since 2008 who had the courage to share her story.

My family and I initially committed to this race without a real fundraising goal and minimal expectations since we weren’t planning to be very aggressive in our solicitations. We simply posted on Facebook, but to our surprise, the generosity was overwhelming. Our team was able to raise over $900 for this great cause and we all feel so blessed by this support. Thank you so much to everyone who donated!  My family and everyone impacted by this disease are extremely grateful for your kindness.

Standard
DC, Fitness, run, runner, Running

Good Run, Bad Run

sweets

My Worst Enemy

There are so many things you can do for yourself to become a better runner. I have been working hard and last week it paid off. I had two amazing runs. On Wednesday, I was very proud of the pace I was able to keep. I was able to keep an 8:04 for a 5K, which is an improvement from what I have been doing. Then on Saturday, I increased my distance, I intentionally kept my pace slower and went 5 Miles at an 8:47 pace. That was the longest distance I have been able to run in quite a while. While my statistics are far from impressive, I am starting from the beginning and working to get back in shape, so right now I am proud.

I took Sunday as my off day and sadly, on Monday morning I had what felt like an awful run. I ran a 5K at an 8:58 pace and felt so discouraged at the end. Despite giving it my all, I moved slowly and felt lousy the entire time.

What differed between my runs? On my good run days I had both a nutritious dinner the night before, I got plenty of sleep and I felt invincible. My refrigerator is completely empty, so I went to one of my favorite Capitol Hill grab and go places, Sweet Green. They serve salads and are a great quick option for staffers with late nights. The night before my bad run I didn’t eat lunch and I had Halloween candy purchased half off at CVS for dinner. In addition to these bad choices, I didn’t bother to eat before I went out on my run because my stomach felt off. I think if I would have grabbed a banana before going out that maybe things would have been a little bit different. I also overdressed since it was cool outside and I hate being cold. This combination resulted in a slow and unproductive run, but I will be honest, I frequently over dress and my poor diet was certainly my Achilles’ heel.

There are so many things you can do to help yourself or hurt yourself when it comes to running and fitness. In this case and many other instances in my life, poor nutrition has been my enemy. I absolutely love sweets and if left to my own devices would eat chocolate and ice cream for every meal, but my body feels so much better when I eat well. So my friends- go off of the “doughnut diet.” Good nutrition is not about being thin; it’s about feeling better and having the highest potential to do well at the things you enjoy.

Standard
DC, Fitness, Running

Injury Prevention

Doing Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred with my little personal trainer

Doing Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred with my little personal trainer

Since I have started running again injury prevention has been at the front of my mind.

During my previous bouts of training I suffered from many different injuries (mostly minor) ranging from a severe ankle injury occurring over ten years ago in high school that likely couldn’t have been prevented, to several overuse injuries stemming from improper running practices (poor shoes, lack of stretching, and upping my mileage too quickly). Overall, I have been pretty lucky despite not always doing the obvious and taking easy measures to prevent injury.

This time around I truly want to succeed and I have been taking serious precautions to prevent injuries.

I am certainly no expert on the subject matter, but I have been working very hard to stay healthy and these methods have worked well for me so far. Besides attempting to eat a healthy diet and get enough sleep below are some of the things I have been doing:

  1. Stretching

I have made it a top priority to stretch properly following each workout I perform no matter how short it may be. I have been lazy in the past and I would only stretch when it was convenient for me and I definitely paid for it. I know firsthand how important this is to my training and how it can put a halt to all of my hard work. Stretching and improving my flexibility have become an extremely important element to my fitness.

When I have the time following a run or on a day off, I also love my foam roller and I enjoy practicing yoga. I am not at all flexible and I am absolutely incapable of relaxing my mind but I still always feel great after attending a class or going through a video and at least attempting to relax and let go of everything. I would certainly prefer an in person class and I used to attend them at a wonderful studio when I lived in Pennsylvania, but I have never been to one in D.C. due to the high cost. This video from Ekhart Yoga is one that I find extremely helpful and it is tailored towards runners https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=of2spyCtUkw. You can also find wonderful roam roller instructional videos on YouTube that are extremely helpful if you have never used one before.

  1. Properly Fitting Shoes

I was living in Washington, D.C. doing an internship prior to graduating college when I began taking running seriously and I was improving quickly, however I began to experience shin splints. Until this point I had never been fitted for a pair of running shoes by a professional and I thought I was being frugal by wearing a pair of shoes until there were holes in them. I had a lot of friends who were very serious runners and I went to them for advice about my injury. Upon seeing my shoes (that had relatively large holes in them) they knew exactly what the problem was. I visited my local running store to be fitted that weekend and my shin splints disappeared after only a brief period of rest and training in my new properly fitting shoes.

  1. Cross Training and Strength Training

Let me first say that I do not have a gym membership and I have no plans to purchase one anytime in the near future. They are ridiculously expensive in D.C. so I have grown to love workout DVD’s. I know that a traditional gym workout would probably provide me with more benefit, but I have a slim salary and I will do anything that can be done to save money in this crazy expensive city.

I am a huge fan of Jillian Michael’s and her at home workout videos. I own several of her DVD’s and I have found them to be beneficial to my training. I am particularly fond of her 30 Day Shred and her Ripped in 30 programs. Each DVD has multiple workouts and they have several different levels of difficulty for each program. The videos are short and intense and perfect for someone with long work hours and they incorporate both strength and short bouts of cardio. I know that Jillian’s style is not for everyone and most people either love her or hate her. I am definitely on team Jillian and highly recommend her videos. If you are skeptical and wish to try one of her workouts for free to see if they are something you enjoy before purchasing one visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Pc-NizMgg8 and try Level 1 of her 30 Day Shred DVD.

  1. Taking it Slow and Take Off Days

I am notorious for pushing myself and doing too much too fast. To prevent injury when I began to build up my distance, I followed Hal Higdon’s free training program. Having structure is very helpful to me because I tend dismiss the signs that my body is giving me and I would work out every day if I did not have structure. Having a schedule demanding me to take a day off is extremely helpful to someone like me. I found my schedules here http://www.halhigdon.com/ but there are hundreds of training plans so do an online search and see if you can find one that works for you.

 

Standard
DC, Fitness, Running

Running and me

Evening run by the United States Capitol

Evening run by the United States Capitol

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and competition have been a part of my life as long as I can remember. However, I began running in high school only after facing some setbacks. I had difficulty breathing, an asthma diagnosis, and minor weight gain that I suffered while trying to play soccer, a sport that I had enjoyed since childhood. I was by no means overweight for my height, but with the combination of eating fast food on the road while warming the bench as a freshman on my high school soccer team and traveling the marching band, I was overeating, relatively sedentary, and eating all of the wrong foods. I am petite and I have a relatively small frame so the excess weight brought me down quickly and I was struggling both physically and emotionally.

My family purchased a treadmill the winter following that difficult soccer season and I can still remember my first run. I attempted to hide in the basement away from everyone during the intermission of a Pittsburgh Penguins game. I had mentally prepared myself for the worst and ran about a mile with the treadmill speed set to 5.0 (which is about equivalent to a 12 minute mile) and forced myself through. I knew that I could not stop though if I wanted to maintain a healthy lifestyle and succeed in sports, so I ran through the winter gradually increasing both my time and my pace eventually adding inclines and as the weather improved, I moved outdoors to the track. Running certainly helped my endurance and performance on the soccer field.

While living at home, I still struggled with breathing issues when running outdoors, however years later after sporadic physical activity my first few years of college, I began running again. This time things were different. I was not running with the motivation of improving my performance in another sport, running became something I enjoyed, time that I got to dedicate to myself, and a way to work off the freshman 15. I was improving quickly and even beginning to win age group awards in some of the races I did locally.

Then several months after graduating college, I got a job working on a political campaign, where an easy short day of work would last from 9am until 9pm and the average diet was comprised almost entirely of pizza with a few donuts tossed in. This was not helpful to my waistline or my running goals, however I met my husband during this time period so those minor setbacks were completely worth it. Following the campaign, I moved to Washington, D.C. where I eventually got my dream job. I have been working in the city for several years now and I honestly still have not adapted to city living or the often unpredictable work hours.

I have been running actively again for several months now and my husband and my dog, Nigel often join me on my runs. I have a long way to go before I am back in good form but I am enjoying myself and running has helped me stay sane despite a crazy job and living in a still somewhat unfamiliar place.

Standard