Join me as I travel around the country to fulfill my goal of running a marathon or half marathon in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Race # 2: Philadelphia Hallf Marathon - Philadelphia, PA - November 22, 2009 - Finish Time: 2:37:55

Elephant in the room: horrible finish time. Excuses: After college graduation in May I moved to DC so excuse #1 is losing my awesome running partner. I was also searching for a career while being a full-time nanny and making protein shakes part-time at Bally Total Fitness so excuse #2 is lack of time (oh, the irony of working in a gym). Third, I was devoting any spare time to my first relationship, so excuse #3 is laziness (cuddling with your new boyfriend is way easier than running 7 miles).  I was thrilled when my cousin and uncle invited me to run the Philly 1/2 with them even though I knew they would blow me away. I loved the idea of this being a 'family affair' and luckily the race was pretty much central to all our locations. I was living just outside DC in northern Virginia, while Christina lives in Baltimore and Uncle Steve lives in New Jersey.

The drive up was an easy 3 hours. The race course was gorgeous. Number of participants was bigger than Gasparilla so the excitement factor really kicked in at the start line. I absolutely loved running through the city and being distracted by all the great architecture. Theme of the race was "kick asphalt" and I was wishing that I could kick it a little harder, but I knew I would resolve to train harder after this way was I about to be the tortoise of the family running group.

A big surprise came at mile 9 when I looked up to see a massive hill in front of me. This Florida gal hadn't seen a hill in about 5 years, let alone run up one! I eventually made it through the last few miles to find my Aunt Liz ready to snap a picture at the finish line. It really does make such a difference to have supporters. My uncle and cousin did great and were certainly inspiration to stick to my journey of becoming a runner.

As always, my favorite part of race weekends is the post-race meal and Christina knew just the place to take us. We headed down to Creperie Beau Monde where we had delicious crepes. I'm sorry I don't have pics of the Philly Race...would have definitely been gorgeous. For now here's a pic I'm borrowing off the world wide web of our yummy crepes!

Delicious..they have all kinds!

Hey, at least I finished, right?! :)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Running is Mental

Running is mental and treadmills suck. These are two things I know because I've recently been forced to run in a gym due to arctic wind and lots of ice in DC. My training plan has had me doing two or three short runs of 3 miles and one lone run per week and I've been doing the short runs with no problem. However, a couple days ago I went to the gym, set the treadmill on 1% incline and 9:40 pace and tried my hardest to not stare at the distance being displayed on the monitor. It seriously felt like magnets had been inserted in my cornia and the treadmill display because I just couldn't help but look. I was thinking "okay, I'm feeling really winded/tired, I gotta be close to 3 miles." You know what that thing said? 1.8 miles! What the fudge?!? I will admit that yesterday's treadmill workout was a bit better. Finished out 4 miles without too much of a struggle although I really did have to push myself much harder than when I run outside. Props to my gym for having both discovery channel and TLC because episodes of Cash Cab and Four Brides seriously make the run almost bearable. Gotta get to bed...tomorrow morning is 6.5 miles and there's no way I'm doing it on a treadmill :)

Monday, January 17, 2011


Have you ever felt like your ankles have morphed into two big pieces of Crayola sidewalk chalk and they are about to crumble at any moment? That’s what my ankles feel like today, actually, most days that I do long runs (today was 11 miles). Chalk + Ankles = Chankles (please don’t confuse these with cankles). However, there is no ankle pain greater than the failure I will feel if I quit training for my next race (or the pain my wallet will feel after wasting $95), so for now I keep on truckin’.

At mile 9 I had to stop to take off my ankle brace because it was giving me a blister. At mile 10 I seriously contemplated a pit-stop for a junior bacon cheeseburger at the local Wendys. There were however positive aspects to this run. For one, I discovered an awesome park to run in about a mile from my house. I seriously feel like I found a best kept secret in DC: The National Arboretum. I will have to admit that it is in a bit of a rough neighborhood (I ran past graffiti that said “kill or be killed”). It was totally worth it though to run through a large park away from traffic lights or smelly cars. It even has some great training hills, one of which I named the “Incline of Death.” The other excitement of the day was that I had my first run in my new kicks and they felt great! (See photo below).

Off to stretch, ice, and eat!

Ever wonder what happened to the sandstone columns that were removed from the Capitol building in 1958 to make room for the East Wing Expansion? Yeah, me too. Anyways, I found them today in the National Arboretum.

View of the Capitol from The National Arboretum
Brooks Adrenaline GTS11, Women's Size 10...good for slight overpronators like me.

Mile 5 at the top of Hickey Lane Overlook...haha!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Race #1: Publix Gasparilla Half Marathon – Tampa, Florida – February 28, 2009 – Finish Time: 2:23:46

My first half marathon was quite an experience. I had no idea what time I was going to get, nor did I care. My goal was to not walk – and frankly, I amazed myself when I actually met my goal. Erin and I signed up for the race with our friends Zach and Eileen, so it was nice to have a group to walk to the start line with (no need to worry about hotels or taxis as we lived pretty close to the start line). I was nervous on race day because at this point I really didn’t consider myself a runner and I was actually worried that I might be the last person to cross the finish line. It was enlightening to get to the race and realize that runners come in every age, size, and shape and that not every person is decked out in the latest Nike running gear. The course was our familiar stomping grounds and the weather was decent (February in Florida = perfect running temps, although it did start drizzling for a bit). Trying to think back now I believe that my longest training run was 10 or 11 miles, so I was nervous about the last two. It’s always scary to realize that you are about to run further than you’ve ever run in your entire life. The course double backed at one point so that you were passing by runners who were about a mile ahead of you. I remember seeing Erin and Zach at one point and just being so stinkin’ happy that we were all doing this together. I couldn’t stop smiling (and fist pupping for those key race photo spots)…then mile 11 came. I hit a wall and slowed my pace to a speed I like to call “trotting.” I'm pretty sure I was passed by several grandmas, but I preferred to think I was hallucinating. I was doing everything I could to not walk the last quarter mile when a woman who was running at about the same pace as myself, yet not struggling nearly as much as I was, started encouraging me. She had clearly noticed the firetruck red color and the grimacing expression on my face and decided it was her personal duty to get me across that finish line. She was saying simple things like “you can do this” and “finish it out for all the women out there” and “we’re strong.” I’m not sure if she was running on behalf of a women’s advancement group or what, but it sure as heck worked and if she ever reads this blog: thank you! (I really hope she interpreted my head nodding as an appreciation, because there was no possible way I could muster enough oxygen to respond to her encouragement with any actual words). I made it across the finish line and promptly discovered the bliss of post-race free food. Bagel, orange, banana, granola bar, and yogurt all in my belly right this second? Yes, please. I just ran a half marathon (wow! Those words feel weird, yet ridiculously empowering coming out of my mouth).
Eileen, me, and Erin before the Gasparilla Half Marathon

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The First Steps

From what I can remember, I’ve always been involved with a team sport. In fact, in middle school I literally played every sport available: volleyball, basketball, soccer, and track. Throughout my teenage years I played high school, rec league, and AAU basketball. I picked up rowing at the University of Tampa, after a flyer advertising a chance to walk-on to an NCAA Division II team without needing experience, caught my eye. During my last year of college I traded in the grueling 6 am crew practices to focus on my studies so that I could graduate a year early (ok, ok, and party a little more), but I had no idea what kind of team-sport withdrawal I was about to encounter. I tried to stay in shape by going to the gym, but I was lacking motivation and missing my teammates.

What I needed was someone to keep me accountable, a goal to reach towards, and a community to do it with. Thankfully for me, and my expanding waist line (due to unlimited ice cream in the cafeteria), the solution to my problem came from my best friend and college roommate, Erin. With twin sisters in collegiate track, and a mom who ran marathons, Erin was a perfect running partner. A natural runner herself, she slowed her pace for me as we went out for our first run. I was unsure about running, as it certainly hasn’t come easily to me in years past. I can vividly remember being moments away from puking my guts out during suicide drills at high school basketball practice, praying that it wouldn’t be me who forced our team to run once more because I couldn’t cross the line in time.

I tried to tell myself that this would be different: I could go however slow I wanted as long as I just kept going. We were also in the perfect location: a flat and scenic route along bayshore in Tampa, Florida that regularly had cool breezes and friendly people on the bike path. Although running may not sound like a team sport that would satisfy my need to be a member of an athletic group, I was about to discover the energy and camaraderie of the running community. At 20 years old we signed up for our first half marathon mainly because the starting line was about a half mile from our dorm, and well, the free shirt, food, and medal didn’t sound too bad either.

I remeber thinking that I was going to be literally the last person to cross the finish line. I had no idea that most people who did races were average every-day folks like me with a few elites thrown in there. Turns out that the running community is basicaly the most wonderful, supportive, and empowering group of people I've ever met. After that first race, I was hooked.