I promise I will get better at updating…

I have the tendency to forget to blog a bunch of stuff then just pile everything into one post. Which is going to happen again. However… I will definitely start blogging more. For reals this time.

I was happy to finally have a long weekend off from work. Work has been getting me down lately, and I’m completely mentally exhausted EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. But I constantly remind myself… just take it one day at a time. Do your best and give it your all every day and be satisfied with your performance.

We spent Memorial Day weekend just kicking back and relaxing for the most part. We let the hills kick our ass on our new 5 mile out-and-back route on Friday and drove down to Alexandria on Saturday.

We signed up for the Alexandria Half Marathon a few months back. It seemed like an easier race, with a flat course and seemingly small crowd. Packet pickup was pretty smooth. The location was easy to find (Trademark Building) and the volunteers were very friendly. We got a short sleeved technical shirt and a baggie filled with random stuff–fruit leather, water bottle, men’s deodorant, etc. So far, so good. We spend the rest of the day hanging out in Old Town and then finally settled into our hotel… which was across the bridge, but only about 15 minutes away. Best part of the hotel: THIS was present.

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Love me some potatoes. And it wasn’t real. I checked.

Free parking in an almost empty garage on race day. THAT was probably the best part about the race. On the way to the race, I decided to read some reviews about the race (why didn’t I do this earlier?). It turns out that the race is notorious for starting late and being an overall shit-show on race day. Great. Oh well. We were already there and ready to race. I even (finally) bought some body glide to use and was fully glided-up that day. (SIDE NOTE: No chafing. No blisters. Where have you BEEN all my life, body glide? Especially during ruck marches?! Dang!).

Surprise, surprise. We started about 30 minutes day. I don’t mind that it was a late start. Hey. Things happen. The reason that I was annoyed was the fact that they had THE EXACT SAME ISSUE LAST YEAR (roads weren’t closed in time, cones weren’t set up, security wasn’t in place) and the race coordinators didn’t seem to capture the lessons learned from the LAST race and implement some fixes into the race this year. Luckily, it wasn’t nearly as hot at the start this year (70s) as it was last year (80s).

The race WAS very flat. A couple of rolling hills here and there, but nothing that I couldn’t handle. There was also a mix of road racing and trail racing. I took the trails a little slow because I am incredibly clumsy and didn’t want to totally biff it on the course. One thing I didn’t like about the course was the long stretches of the route that had absolutely NO shade. I drank a TON of water the day before but still needed to stop at EVERY. SINGLE. WATER. POINT. Which I rarely have to do. I can usually run at least 6 miles or so without needing water but the heat and the sun totally zapped me during this race. I ended up finishing at 2:10ish, which I wasn’t pleased with, but I also went into this race with the mentality to just ENJOY it and not kill myself.  The medal was also kinda blah. Meh.

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We spent the rest of the day just relaxing and rehydrating. On our last day of the mini break, we decided to go hiking and do a recon of a potential trail-running route. We headed down to Big Gunpowder Falls and did the 5ish mile loop. It was so beautiful and so great to be back in the woods. I grew up in the country with woods behind my house and I loved every minute of this hike. We were totally soaked by the end but it was nice to get out and shake out our legs after the half. I’m not sure if we’re going to be able to actually RUN it entirely (lots of large, steep, narrow, root-infested hills) but I’m looking forward to incorporating it into our routine, especially when P gets here for the summer.

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Can you tell how sweaty we are? PS. My teeth are getting closer and closer together!!! YES INVISALIGN!

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He’s thrilled. I promise. And about the clothing choices…. we had to make a target run after this hike. Don’t judge us!

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I suck at hills.

Straight up. I suck at hills. Regardless of how much I have been running or what shape I’m in, hills always kick my ass. (and stairs. Freaking eh. Always winded going up stairs, even if I’m running every day… they always get me).

Lately, as mentioned before, I have been really struggling to get back into my running groove and make progress. I’m trying to make little gains in each race I do, trying to shave off a minute here or 30 seconds there (depending on the distance). Since I’ve been traveling a lot, I have been confined to the use of a treadmill but I still make sure to thrown in intervals to try to help get my speed work done. But I still feel like I’m not getting any better (probably getting worse).  My race times show that I am making progress because each race this past year has been an improvement from the previous race.  However, I feel that during my day-to-day running, I just cannot get my speed to pick up. And I think running lots of little rolling hills has been killing me.

While I’m out running, I FEEL winded and I FEEL like I’m constantly going up and down hills. It has been really frustrating because when I was living in NY, I ran a specific route that had a HUGE hill that I had to climb every day. To me, if I could run that route comfortable in the 9:00s, then I shouldn’t be struggling in the 10:00s running the route here. Yesterday, I decided to map the route and check the elevation and compare the two running routes to see why I am struggling so much.

This is the 5ish mile route I would run in NY:

NY Elevation

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This is my new 5 mile route:

MD Elevation1

MD Elevation2

Uh… yea… I can see now why the runs here have been kicking my ass. Stupid small, frequent hills.  (SIDE NOTE: my 3 and 4 mile routes are also along similar roads / hills).  The only way I can get better at running hills is to continue to run hills… so I guess I will keep pushing myself. I just have to remember not to get frustrated and that progress isn’t instant…. If you want something, you have to work for it!

Marine Corps Marathon

I signed up for the Marine Corps Marathon with an honest belief that I probably wouldn’t make it through the lottery process… Well, luckily I was wrong! I was delighted to get this email:

…. And then the panic set in. I remembered how badly it hurt to push my body through 26.2 miles during the Boston Marathon Shadow Run in Afghanistan.  But the panic soon subsided and I found out that the fiancé would be running with me. I decided that I would use the Hal Higdon Novice 2 program to train and do about 6 weeks of pre-training prior to that. I finished my last marathon in 4:27, so my goal is currently set for 4:15ish. It seems really aggressive… but to be honest, I didn’t really train for the shadow run. I ran daily and did some long runs here and there… but didn’t really dedicate myself to any sort of training plan. This time, I am going to train harder and smarter and work slowly to get myself in a better running position. Even if I only can shave off 5-10 minutes, I will be happy!

It’s been difficult to set a schedule and keep up with my diet and fitness while I’m traveling so much for work. But I WILL do better about managing my diet, my weight and making sure that I stick to my running schedule.

This is what I’m looking at for the week:

M: Off

T: AM: 3m run ; PM: 5x400m intervals (treadmill)

W: 4m pace (9:40-9:45)

R:  3m run

F: 3m run

S: Cross

S: Alexandria Half Marathon

Here goes nothing!

Current Status: 30 Races in 2015

I need to really keep track of all my races. Doing 30 races in a year is a lot and I want to be able to track them all and push myself to get better and faster (and not get hurt)!

Here is where I’m at:

1. January 4th, 2015: Camarillo Half Marathon (Camarillo, CA)

2. January 24th, 2015: Zoo Run Run (Nashville, TN)

3. January 31st, 2015: Birmingham Chocolate 5k (Hoover, AL)

4. February 8th, 2015: Winter Winds 2 Mile Race (Huntsville, AL)

5. February 8th, 2015: Winter Winds 4 Mile Race (Huntsville, AL)

6. February 14th, 2015: Hot Chocolate 15k (Nashville, TN)

7. March 14, 2015: Rock and Roll DC Half Marathon (Washington, D.C.)

8. March 15, 2015: Kelly St. 5k (part of B3 Series) (Baltimore, MD)

9. April 4, 2015: Hartford Quarter Marathon (Hartford, CT)

10. April 18, 2015: Sole of the City 10k (part of B3 Series) (Baltimore, MD)

11. April 25, 2015: Glo Run (Washington, D.C)

12. May 2, 2015: Twilight 5k (part of Nut Job) (Frederick, MD)

13. May 3, 2015: Frederick Half Marathon (Nut Job / King Crab Challenge) (Frederick, MD)

14. May 16, 2016: Patriot Pride 10k (Fort Meade, MD)

I am nearly halfway through… but the races will start to slow down. It is beginning to get really hot and humid here and I don’t think there will be too many races that I will take part in until the fall.

I have been really bad about keeping up with this blog lately… But I will do better. I think writing things down and having a reference point help keeps me accountable and makes me really take a look at how I am training. Lately, I have been putting my running goals to the side and just … been lazy. I get exhausted from work and use that as an excuse to let my running go to crap and let my weight creep up. I need to stop using work as an excuse and start using running as an outlet.

Friday Five: Five Races I’m Totally Stoked for in 2015

Happy Birthday to ME! And how do I celebrate this fantastic occasion?! By taking my final exam and hitting the road to get to my new home– Maryland! (And post more… I promise I will be more talkative on here once I have my own computer and blazing fast internet… I PROMISE)

It’s Friday… and you know what that means! Linking up with the amazing  MarCynthia, and Courtney  and discussing the topic of the week– the five races I’m looking forward to for 2015!

1. Hot Chocolate 15K Nashville

Check. Done. Amazing. I loved everything about this race–my pace, how my body felt, having Fiance with me, the awesome medal and the fondue. Come on. Fondue. SOLD!

2. Rock and Roll Half Marathon DC

This will be my first Rock and Roll Half. I checked out the elevation chart for this one… and the middle of the race is going to smoke me! But I think the excitement and the runners around me will motivate me!

3. Shamrock 5K, Sole of the City 10K, Charles Street 12 Miler (B3)

I decided the best way to run around my new home is to sign up for three races. Great idea, right? But I’m looking forward to it!

4. King Crab Challenge (Frederick Half, Baltimore 10 Miler, Baltimore Running Festival Half)

I signed up for one three-race challenge. Why not another? These are my favorite distances, so I’m pretty excited about these as well!

5. MCM or Army 10 miler

A girl can dream right? Maybe, just MAYBE, I will make the lottery / get registered before it sells out. We shall see. Shoot for the moon, right?

What races is everyone else doing this year? Any great races in the Baltimore / DC / Philadelphia area that you can recommend?

Hot Chocolate 15K Nashville

Woo hoo!! I love long weekends! Fiance and I got to do our new Valentine’s Day tradition, which is running a race! We started the tradition last year when we were in Afghanistan and I am glad we had the opportunity this year to run another race together.

Let’s start with the packet pickup. I had to rush from school (about a two hour drive from Huntsville to Nashville) to get to the packet pickup on Thursday night. After being in Huntsville for the past couple months, I have sort of forgotten what it is like to drive in traffic, so I was a little frustrated when I hit the pm rush hour traffic in Nashville. However, I MADE IT and was able to get the bibs and awesome jackets/bag for the 15k.  It was super easy to get the goods, but I was a little frustrated that the packet pickup was in the middle of downtown Nashville. To me, it doesn’t seem logical to have the packet pickup in the middle of the evening rush hour traffic in the congested downtown area. But… I got what I needed and was excited for the race!

Bibs

The race started at 7 am, with a suggested arrival time of 6 am, so we decided to stay near Nashville on Friday night. I picked up fiance from the airport and we made our way up to the city. We stayed in Brentwood, which made for an easy 15 minute drive into the city.  Fiance chose to Longhorn Steakhouse (I think?) for dinner and I ate a delicious salad and TONS of bread for dinner. And soup. Yummy soup.

We got up around 5 am and got ready for the race. It was pretty cold out (in the 20s or 30s I think), so I wore pants and a long sleeve shirt with a headband for the race. And gloves. Definitely needed the gloves.  We got to the parking garage near Bicentennial Park around 5:45 am and sat in the warm car, debating whether or not to wear a jacket.  After discussing it, we decided to just tough it out because we knew that we would start to get hot once we started running.  Shivering… we made our way to our corral for the race around 6:45 am.

Ready for the race

Oh, the corrals… Let’s talk about that. I’ve never really ran in a race in a corral (Manchester Road Race had corrals, but we didn’t have the opportunity to use the… general race area for us!!!) but I had an expectation that people would stick to their corrals.  I noticed that there were a lot of “C” runners that I was passing throughout the race… which leads me to believe that they kind of “corral cheated” and started ahead of where they were supposed to. I only say this because I was at the front of the C corral and… I’m not that fast of a runner. I should not have passed THAT many people. Corral cheating… I guess it comes with the racing territory. I’m not bitter or anything… nope… not at all.

ANYWAY… I absolutely LOVED this race. Sure. There were a lot of little hills, which I didn’t expect (I REALLY need to do a better job of scoping out the elevation maps before a race) but I still loved every aspect of the race. The spectators were great. The scenery was beautiful. The air was cold, but crisp and refreshing. I told fiance to let me hold the pace and not to push it. I had some calf pain last week and didn’t want to hurt myself during this race because I have the Rock and Roll Half coming up in DC. I expected to probably do about a 9:30 pace for this run, but after the hills, I decided to “let myself” run closer to a 10 minute pace. Much to my surprise, I actually ran a 9:18 pace! (I DID stop my garmin for my 2 minute bathroom break, so the overall results have my pace as slower… but for actual RUNNING, I did the 9:18 average).  Fiance told me that I was actually the one leading the pace, even though it felt like he was pushing me / pressuring me / dragging me up the hills. I am very, very happy with this race!

Post Race

And the medal. I LOVE this freaking medal! And the chocolate. SO GOOD. Yes… that’s chocolate on fiance’s lip. Such a cutie. The hot chocolate at the end was awesome and the fondue was also do delicious! We scarfed down the good and then rushed to the car to get home to a warm shower. We spent the rest of the day just hanging around downtown Nashville and soaking in all the live music and delicious adult beverages. I love Nashville and I hope I get an opportunity to hang out around the area again someday.

Time to take a little rest and hopefully just kick back and enjoy this last week of class… And run another race next weekend. It’s only a 5k and I’m mostly doing it for the fun aspect. Fiance won’t be doing this race with me, so I probably won’t push myself as much as I would if he was running with me. I hope everyone had a great weekend!!!

Friday Five: Moments of Love

Happy Friday the 13th!  13 is actually my favorite number… So hopefully that means that today is a great day! I have a busy weekend ahead of me and projects left to complete for class… Almost to the finish line!

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MarCynthia, and Courtney  have posted “love” as the Friday Five link up topic! I’m really excited to share a few moments of love that have touched me through the years.

1. Soaking up some of the last few moments together before I left on my first deployment.

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I was able to celebrate her “birthday” with her… Although, on her real birthday I was already in Kuwait.

2. Returning home on leave for the first time to my baby girl!

Iraq Leave

She grew SO MUCH. Deployments are hard…

3. Dressing up on Halloween with the little!

Halloween

(Yes… I am aware how creepy the white rabbit is… But I make sacrifices when committing to a theme!)

4. Fiance is FINALLY BACK FROM AFGHANISTAN!

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That’s a REAL SMILE from him… He isn’t really much of a “smiler” but I think he was happy to be back!

5. Moments with these two… My loves! 

My loves

I am so incredibly blessed… Just looking at these moments makes me realize that I really have all that I need in life… Happy Valentine’s Day!