Cherry Blossom Ten Miler

Why hello!  Its been a while.  This whole law school thing totally got in the way of everything.  Oh wait, I am the one who signed myself up for it, I guess I can’t complain about that.

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Well, to say its been getting in the way of everything would be an overstatement.  In fact, I have been running more than ever these past few months, training for my first ever 10 miler race and going for a long-sought after half marathon PR.  I’ll get to the half marathon soon, but first up – in April I ran the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler!

When I entered the lottery back in the fall, I had one goal: finish in 75 minutes – 7:30 min/mile pace.  I new I could do it, so long as I had good base training and put in some solid speed work.  Oh yeah, the other goal was to have fun.  When I signed up I also signed up for the free (yes free!) virtual training plan put out by New Balance and =PR= Running Stores.  I wasn’t sure how well I would end up following it, or if I would like it, but I figured it would be worth a shot.

Training plan verdict?!  That plan was AWESOME and I would totally do it again!  It had 1-2 rest days built in per week (I usually took about one rest day), and had 2 speed workouts or one speed and one hill repeat workout per week.  With law school this meant a lot of early morning tempo and track workouts, and with winter this meant a lot of treadmill miles.

Not really sure about my 5am tempo run.

Not really sure about my 5am tempo run.

Snow + Ice = Lots of track workouts on a TM.

Snow + Ice = Lots of track workouts on a TM.

Plus it had long runs on the weekend with pace miles built in.  I was nervous when I started, but figured – why not let it all hang out.  As my training went along and I hit record weekly mileages (for me) of 48 miles and hit over 200 miles in March alone (say what?!) I started readjusting my goals and started wondering if I could kick that 75 minute goal in the face.

So, I went in with three goals.
“C” Goal: Finish and have fun (this should be the goal for EVERY race b/c the stars don’t always align)
“B” Goal: Sub-75 min
“A” Goal (aka “all the stars in the world align” goal): Sub-70 min

Holla what?!  Sub 70 minutes?  Yes, yes that is a 7 minute/mile pace.  The only time I had ever done that was in a 5k – 7 miles short of a 10 miler. So I had lots of doubts, but also knew I would be happy with anything between a 70 and 75 – because seriously, 3 years ago I would’ve never dreamed that I would run 10 miles at a 7:30 pace.

Race morning came, and I was prepared as I could ever be.  I met up with Kelley and her fiancee at the start.  Kelley and I hit the bathrooms and then went on a warmup jog before hopping into our respective corrals.  I made my way to the front of mine (the second corral) b/c I knew my “A” goal time would’ve put me in the first corral had I known where I was going to be back in November.  At 7:30 the race started, and at 7:33 my corral was off!

My plan was to start out around a 7:10 pace for the first mile or two, settle into a 7:00 pace and then drop from there around the 7 mile mark if I felt good.  Well, no matter how hard I tried 7:10 felt way too slow based on my pace miles going in (all 6:50-7:00 miles) and I couldn’t keep myself there.

Mile 1 – 6:58
Mile 2 – 6:55
Mile 3 – 6:57

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I felt good at mile 3 and so I decided to just keep with the pace.  I saw my friends Krissy & Tim around the mile 4 marker which was a fun surprise, and just kept on truckin’ along.  I took water from every station but the first, never walking but running through and getting whatever small amount of water into my system that I could.

Mile 4 – 6:51
Mile 5 – 6:55
Mile 6 – 6:56

At Mile 6 I took my Salted Caramel Gu and saw Emily with the best law-related sign ever:

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She was a happy sight for me to see!  And then we were running down Haines Point (the most boring part of the race) and I just kept truckin’ – and saw Coach T at mile 8.5!

Mile 7 – 6:57
Mile 8 – 6:55
Mile 9 – 6:56

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Running amongst the cherry blossoms!

And then came the only hill in the whole damn race.  Right at the end, and my body wasn’t ready for it…

Mile 10 – 7:07

And because I can’t run perfect tangents or because the GPS dropped at some point, I had an extra .08, but that is irrelevant b/c I crossed the finishline in 1:09:59.  Yes, 1 second under 70 minutes.

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All smiles into the finish.

I was all smiles and ecstatic.  I ACTUALLY DID IT.  I knew I had the ability to, but I didn’t know if it would actually happen.  I mean, my stomach has notoriously knocked me on my ass over the years, so who knew what to expect.

Kelley and I were all smiles at the end of the race, as we both had great races.  It was so much fun to do a race w/ a friend I had been running with, and who is one of my #runfamily members.  I met Kelley when we both lived in Santa Cruz through SCE once or twice, but only really got to know her since moving to DC. She has seriously become such a great friend, an inspiration and a very important member of my #runfamily since moving out here.  I was so lucky to train with her speedy self and to celebrate after.

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After we recovered for a bit, we headed to the metro and then to a small diner in Arlington for a delicious brunch w/ her fiancee, who is the best spectathlete out there!

It was a PERFECT day, that’s for sure.

Run Your Heart Out 5k

I’ve been doing an insane amount of running these past few weeks, and its been showing – in terms of mileage (39 mileage week three weeks ago and another one last week) and in terms of pace and strength.  Definitely feeling the best that I have in terms of health wise body and mind in a very long time.  And as a result of all this running fun, I signed up for PRR’s Run Your Heart Out 5k Sunday, February 9.

Going into the race, I knew I wanted to push myself to see where my fitness was at, to get a good evaluation of my speed and strength as I began week three of theCherry Blossom Ten Miler training program I am doing with CUCB, New Balance & PRR (Its a free virtual training program they offered to all participating runners).  Other than that I had no goals, other than to try to be somewhere around 21:15 (my PR).

Race morning came, and I hopped in the car with my friends from PRR, Ashley, Amanda and Dustin, and headed out to Reston, VA.  It was COLD out, but we grabbed our bibs, hit the INDOOR bathrooms and hung out til race time.  We also saw a few of our other fellow PRR friends there as well (shoutout to Lauren & Becki!).

At 9:01 it was go time and we were off.

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The race starts on the track, and then heads down a huge hill into the woods, where the course winds and turns and goes on lots of little ups and downs before returning the to the huge hill we went down which we had to CLIMB just about a 1/4 mile from the finish.  That hill was HORRIBLE.  It caused me to slow down significantly and to almost lose my breakfast at the top.  And then I felt awful as I had to run into the finish.

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Evidence of Feeling Awful…And Cold.

Then the course finished on the track, and I felt and finished strong – surprised to see the time of 21:07 on the clock, which meant a shiny new PR!

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All in all I was happy with my performance.  I also know that but for the hill at the end, I would’ve likely broken 21:00, which would’ve been amazing and has been my goal for a long time.  Additionally, I learned that in the case of the 5k, I can’t look at my watch.  I looked 1 or 2 times just to see mileage, but I never once looked at my pace and just kept running hard and trying to pick off the person in front of me (which I did quite more often than being passed), and it worked!  I was able to shave 8 seconds off my PR – and am seeing that 20:xx goal come within reach!

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Lauren, Me and Ashley post race

A nice surprise was also placing 2nd in my AG – something I never expected to happen since the PRR races generally have an extremely fast field (hello, the girl who won it ran it in 16 and some change), but it was a nice way to round out a PR race for me!

Next up?  I’m looking for another 5k in about a month or so — hopefully something without the hill of death at the end to make that 20:xx a little easier.  And then I’m training, as mentioned before, for the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler.  My goal for that is to run a consistent race, and hopefully at my 10k PR pace from this fall.  Lofty goals, but something I definitely think is feasible.

What races are on your schedule this spring?  What fitness goals do you have?  I was supposed to run a marathon, but I decided that right now, I don’t have the time or the ability to train and so I am deferring.  I hate doing it, but I know its the right decision for me, especially having been plagued with a series of injuries since fall 2012.  A marathon is in my future, I just need to find the right one and the right time to train properly – I am finally admitting I have too much on my plate.

Fueling with Island Boost

Its not secret on the blog — or to anyone in my life really — that I have had an insane amount of stomach issues while running.  Back in July it killed my dreams of a 42-43 minute race at Wharf to Wharf (which I just realized I never recapped…), and in February it dashed by dreams of a close-to or attempt at a sub 1:40 half marathon at the San Diego Women’s Half Marathon.  And those are just two of the most recent downfalls of my stomach woes.

Since then, and I’ve made it my mission to discover different fuel options that will work for me in my long distance PR quests in 2014.  As I’ve embarked on this mission, there has been one name recommended to me over and over as I’ve explained to runners from all walks of life the massive amounts of stomach unhappiness that I get on raceday — and during long, hard runs in general: Island Boost.  So, for a while, I’ve been dying to try out Island Boost but just because everything has caused me problems, I’ve been hesitant to try out something new.

IMG_1495After receiving an email about Island Boost attempting to get a new flavor (Chocolate!) FDA approved, I knew I needed to try it, especially with the hopes of chocolate coming out in the future, so I reached out to them to see about getting a sample of the chocolate. Unfortunately, the chocolate samples were all out, but they did graciously give me a few samples to try out.

It’s different from your average gu or gel because it’s not a gu or gel.  Its more the consistency of Gatorade, but its got more calories than Gatorade in a small little thick liquid.

I was pretty excited to try it, and I’m not going to lie — my first taste was a shocker.  I mean, its like really, really over powered Kool-Aid on the first sip (note: this is coming from someone who doesn’t drink sugary drinks or juice because I don’t like them, and who thinks the Gatorade generally made at water stations is faaaaaaar too potent).  However, by the end of the first pouch, I got over the intensity and the flavor was actually pretty darn good (Passion Fruit Flavor).

IMG_1496I was given three flavors to try, and of the three, Passion Fruit was by far my favorite, but the Orange wasn’t far behind.  I just couldn’t get behind Blueberry-Pomegranate flavor, but then again I’m a fresh wild blueberry girl from Minnesota, and anything made with blueberry flavoring, just doesn’t cut it for me.

The real test, though, was how the Island Boost functioned for me on my runs.  Although I was only able to take them on one run (I’ve only run one run long enough to require fueling in the past few months), I was stomach problem free.  I can’t say it was my hardest run or my longest or that I had anxiety associated with race day, but it settled nicely in my stomach.  Maybe its because I can read and pronounce pretty much everything on the back of the nutrition label?  Or because it has coconut water in it (cue automatic swoon)?! Those both definitely made me happy — oh and its gluten free and dairy free!

IMG_1501So would I buy them for training?  Definitely — I’m actually putting in an order this weekend.  I’m still playing with a few other options for long runs and hard runs, but I am definitely keeping Island Boost in the mix — and if they can come up with the funds to get the chocolate through FDA testing and production, you bet your buns I will be all over that like a runner in a self serve fro-yo joint.

If you’d like to try out Island Boost, or just help them get chocolate into production, there are 10 days left in their fundraiser — if you give money, you get fun things back – for example $25 gets you a 10-pack of Island Boost to try; $40 gets you a 10-pack of Island Boost + a runner’s hat/visor.  When I get paid on Friday I am definitely jumping on that — every little bit helps, and it gives a great company run by wonderful people with a good product the chance to make it against the big guns.  Check it out here.

IMG_1502(I’m excited for all the temporary tats they sent me! — the inner child in me rejoiced!!)

Have you tried Island Boost?  What’s your fuel of choice?

***While Island Boost gave me the samples to try, they did not compensate me in any way or ask me to write a review.  As always, all opinions are my own.