Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tar Heel 10 Miler and #RunForBoston

I'm pretty sure that The Onion beat all other reputable news sources for summing up last week in this article.

The whole week was so surreal from the actual bombings to the outpouring of human kindness to the manhunt that took place a mile from where I used to live. The range of emotions was just exhausting.

Saturday morning I was signed up for the Tarheel 10 Miler. This is my second 10 mile race and I really think I like this distance. I knew that I wouldn't PR this race because the course is way more challenging than the Cherry Blossom (it takes place in Chapel HILL after all). Plus I woke up just feeling like it wasn't going to be my day.  I set my goal to finish (under 2 hrs would be nice) and just have fun and being out there with my fellow runners.  I ran this race solo so I lined up towards the back and took it easy.

I've run a few hilly long runs with my awesome training partner, Bang, so I was feeling ok at the start. The course wove through UNC's campus and the surrounding areas. The first 5 miles were ok, but I was having trouble finding an even pace. Seriously. I'd sprint a mile and almost die the next. I walked up a couple of the more challenging hills but for the most part was feeling good. At mile 6 was a massive down hill section that was pure fun.

But I knew what was coming after it. I had heard the legend of Laurel Hill all throughout the Winter. A mile long hill, relentless, soul crushing hill so intense they set up timing mats at the bottom and top of it just to time how long it took people to get up it.

I'm not going to lie. I walked most of it. My left foot was starting to hurt really bad and I was getting really tired. By the time I got to the top I just wanted to be done so I did my best to finish strong. I was about 5 minutes off of my Cherry Blossom time, which was expected given the tough course. Honestly, I was happy just to finish.

Loved the medal.

That night and the next day my left foot was hurting bad. Normally I would not have attempted to run on it but Sunday afternoon was the Boston Memorial Run in Raleigh and there was no way I was going to miss it.

The Start/Finish Line

One of our local race directors came home from running Boston and immediately recruited all of the local race directors, running groups and running stores to put together a run to show our support for Boston. From the onset they were expecting about 200 people to show up. By Sunday afternoon there were well over 2000. When it became obvious that there was going to be a huge crowd, the city of Raleigh closed the roads and provided officers for the course.

Before the race there were kind words, a moment of silence, a bagpipe playing of Amazing Grace and the National Anthem.

Lined up to start
The run itself was a simple out and back, but was struck me was the sheer number of people out running. It was just a sea of runners. It was amazing to see so many people out there just to run.

After we finished, Bang and I stayed at the finish line to cheer on the people coming in. There were still so many people and it was just a love fest of runners cheering and high fiving one another. It was truly one of the most amazing running experiences I have ever been a part of.

Me and my run bud, Bang. There is no
one else I would have wanted by my side more for this run.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I feel this way every day, but even more so today.

I just don't know what to say that hasn't already been said.

Last year on Patriot's Day I declared my love for Boston on the blog. It is still all true.

I love Boston.

I lived there for 10 wonderful years.

My children were born there.

I became a runner there. I bought my very first pair of running shoes at Marathon Sports, whose heavily damaged store front is all over the news.

The scenes from the news of a town I know so well are surreal.

My heart is so heavy and I have no words.

I'm thankful that all of my friends and family who were in the area are safe.

I'm also thankful to be part of such a supportive running community. I spent yesterday on Twitter checking on people I only know through social media and blogging. Yet somehow, they all felt like family.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Recap

It's not to often you can cross something off of your Bucket List. After running the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, I can do just that.

I have wanted to run this race for years. In my previous running life I was living in Boston and DC was just a little too far for a quick weekend trip. Now I find myself living 4 hours from DC and thought the time was perfect to try to get in. I joined the lottery with my friend Jenni's running group and managed to get accepted.

I drove up to DC on Saturday morning and met an old college roommate for lunch. We ate in Chinatown and meandered around town for a little while. After saying goodbye to her I made it over to the expo to check out all of the running goods. I picked up a iFitness Belt which I am absolutely in love with!

I headed back over to Arlington to meet up with Jenni and check into the hotel before we turned right back around and met up with some of her friends for dinner downtown. The amount of walking I did on Saturday may not have been ideal for a day before a race, but I loved DC and had a great day.

After dinner, Jenni and I headed back to the room to lay out all of our stuff and get to bed since 4:30am rolls around pretty quickly.

It was a cold and windy morning as we headed out the door in search of coffee before getting on the metro.

Bright and early in DC

The waiting before the race was pretty tough given the cold temps and blustery wind. After reluctantly parting with my fleece at the bag drop I tried to make the most of it and not think about how cold I was. I was excited to meet up with my Twitter pal, Fran, briefly before the race. Fran is super tall, super cute and super speedy! She kicked this course's ass!! (Check out her recap here.)

I made her crouch so I wouldn't look so short! She's a trooper.

I was pretty excited to start once I lined up in my corral. If anything, it was a little warmer standing near 17,000 other people. I place myself right in between the 11:00 and 11:30 pacer. My goal for this race was 1:50-1:55.

Miles 1-3: When the green wave took off I was right next to the 11:00 pacer. The first mile was slow as I expected (11:30). After the first mile she showed no sign of trying to speed up so I went off on my own to run my own race. I decided to try to find the balance of pushing myself and soaking it all in. We passed the World War II memorial early in the race. I got a little choked up thinking of my Pop, but quickly got my head back in the game. We headed out and back over the Arlington Memorial Bridge before heading over towards the Kennedy center. I lost my Garmin signal for a little while and have no idea how that affected my info. I decided not to worry too much about it and just run strong.

Miles 4-6: These were some of my strongest miles. I just felt good and was ticking away the miles. I found a good rhythm and just kept one foot in front of the other. I took a Gu at mile 5 but didn't stop to walk like I normally do. I was feeling pretty strong and executing my plan just as I wanted. Plus I got to see a little of the Jefferson Memorial, which was pretty awesome.

Miles 7-10: At this point we were entering Haines Point, which I had heard a lot about. The wind coming  off the river was brutal. Up until this point I had been running strong but I was starting to get tired and the wind wasn't helping. I stopped to walk for the first time around 7.5 miles. After a minute or two I was back to running. The last two miles were hard mentally. I walked again briefly through the next water stop. Eventually the Washington Monument came back into view from behind the trees and I knew I was close. When my Garmin beeped mile 9 I tried to leave it all out on the course. My head got in my way for a couple of 30sec walk breaks including up the only hill of the day with 0.25 miles to go. After that I kicked it into gear to finish a strong as I could.

Garmin Data: 10.11 miles 1:52:26  11:07 min/mile
Official Race Results: 1:52:26 11:15 min/mile

Can I just say how excited I am about these splits. Mile 1 was spent in a traffic jam of thousands of other runners and miles 8 and 10 had some walking. Other than that these splits are awesome for me. I can feel myself getting faster and more consistent, which has been a struggle for me. Miles 4-7 are just awesome for me. These splits made me so happy. Plus, I get an automatic PR since this was my first 10 mile race! Bonus!

What this race tells me is that if I keep it up through the rest of the spring and into my next half marathon training cycle, I really believe that a sub 2:30 half marathon is a completely realistic goal for the Fall.

After finding my friends in the finishing area, we hung out for a little while before heading back to the hotel. I did a quick change in my car and started the drive back to NC. I was missing my kiddos and just wanted to get home. A 4.5 hour car ride immediately following a race like this is not recommended however. My legs were not so happy with this plan.

This weekend was a blast from start to finish. I have to say that this was my favorite race and definitely worth the trip up for.

Best. Weekend. Ever.