Sunday, April 28, 2013

2013 Nike Women's Marathon Half - DC Style

I survived. But more importantly, I was standing two people away from Shalane Flanagan on the start line of today's race. And those two people between her and I were former Catamount teammates. We were pretty star struck when she walked up near us. Behind us was the Legend, Joan Benoit Samuelson. SO COOL! We were lined up in one of the first corrals, and are not sure how we made it to the very front of the pack, but it was exciting to be up there and pretend for a few seconds that we could actually keep up with the top runners.

(I'm up there, on the right hand side next to the two girls in purple. Shalane is sporting the Boston shirt)

Joan is right behind us (in baseball hat and red shirt). We are freaking out just a tiny bit. In fact, I may have felt like I was 15 years old again. 

There were about 15,000 runners for this inaugural race. We gave a moment of silence for Boston at the start and all of those 15,000 and the spectators were dead silent. It was eerie. But pretty special. When the Star Spangled Banner was finishing up I turned around to look at the Capitol. I couldn't have thought of a more awesome start! Ok, I lie. Rome may have been better.

Miles 1-4

The course was almost the same exact course as the Cherry Blossom. It was 15 degrees warmer today (low 50s), making it much more enjoyable and perfect racing weather. I loved the tunnel that we went under in the beginning where two bands played. They had flashing lights to light up the place and their music echoed throughout so I could get into a running groove.
Miles 5-8

We went out too fast. That is expected with the excitement of the race. I was OK with the starting time and after the first mile tried to find my groove around 7:00 minute pace. Shalane and Joan passed me at mile 5 and they ran with the Catamount girls for a bit before moving on. They clearly were NOT racing as both just came off of Boston, but it was so cool to see them out there.

By mile 8 I was done with racing. I told myself to just run whatever I wanted and assumed that I wouldn't PR. I felt out of shape because I only ran 3 miles this entire week. It was also at this point that I kept missing my mile splits, so I really had no idea what I was running, and was running just to run.

Miles 9-13
7:51 * Went under a bridge
7:03 *I doubt this is real - probably due to the mile under the bridge
Average pace: 7:14
Total Time: 1:35:33
OA: 132
AG: 33

My leg was doing ok during the race, and I hadn't felt my foot since we lined up. I was too negative going into the race and couldn't pull myself out of the funk. If I had pulled myself out, then I could have PRed. I missed it by 38 seconds. D'OH! In fact, if I had been in shape and had been in a positive spirit, I probably could have finished near Shalane, who got a 1:32. I was only THREE minutes away.

Lesson learned: negative thinking doesn't get you to your goals.

Got my necklace!

Overall, it was a great race. It was well run. There was plenty of food at the end, and I am totally in love with the finisher's t-shirt and of course, the Tiffany's necklace! I even got to high-five Shalane and Joan as I crossed the finish! Being with them at the start and the finish was way better than the actual necklace - which had originally been my motivation for this race.

It was so awesome to see these two ladies, who have accomplished so much in the running world. Way to go Nike for getting them to come along! It was also awesome to see friends from Vermont, including the two girls I ran with and a friend that passed me at mile 11.

This was a great race and the atmosphere was awesome the entire weekend. I am definitely going to run it next year if my name is drawn again! *crossmyfingers*

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Nike WMH DC Expotique

Tom and I headed out to the Nike Expotique this morning to pick up my packet, and we ran into two former UVM teammates! I knew they were both running tomorrow, but wasn't expecting to be able to catch up with them randomly at the Expo. It was really great to see them again!

The Expo was pretty cramped due to the 15,000 (mostly) women that are running tomorrow. The expo was not like others I've been to. Clearly Nike is the center of attention, but there were free samples from Bare Essentials and Luna as well. There was a "Nuun lounge" where I was able to finally try some. They'll be handing out Nuun on the course tomorrow instead of the usual Gatorade and I'm excited for the change. After the Nuun, we entered to win some Nike shoes but didn't win any. I was hoping to catch Shalane Flanagan but we left right before she was scheduled to arrive.

We ate dinner at Thunder Burger in Georgetown last night with some friends (best burger of my life!) and it was then that we discovered the GIANT Nike wall of names. We headed back there after the expo to get a daytime shot of my name, and to check out the Nike store. It. was. packed.

I really wanted to buy something, but talked myself out of it. I get caught up in the event excitement easily and have to remind myself that a t-shirt is not a necessity and that life will go on if I don't get one.

In terms of running tomorrow, I have no idea what to expect. I ran for 20 minutes this morning. The hamstring pain subsided after 5 minutes, but the foot pain lasted throughout. I'll ice some more tonight, foam roll a little more, and hope that some miracle can happen tomorrow that will get me to the finish in one piece.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Let's Get Caught Up, Shall We?

I haven't quite known what to say since Boston happened, which is one reason for my absence the last week and a half. It was on my mind CONSTANTLY last week, until they finally caught up with the last brother Friday night. Once he was caught, I felt like I could finally get on with my life. I can't imagine what it was like to be hurt by the blast or to be a family member of someone that was hurt or killed. Yet, it's been pretty amazing to read of all of the good that has come out of the tragedy and to see people pulling together to recover and support each other.

Besides Boston, the other reason for the absence is due to my lack of running.

My body just hates me right now.

1) I tore my hamstring last week after a track practice workout. We did eighteen 200s, and on the 17th one I landed funky on my first step. At the time I didn't think there was anything wrong with my leg. It wasn't until I got home that night that I started to feel mini tears. I took Friday and Saturday off, ran a little on Sunday, and felt it most of the time. I ran tonight for 5 minutes but felt it again.

2) My foot problem, which had been doing OK, also came back last week, the day before I hurt my hamstring. I don't know what is going on with it. The foot feels OK in flats or when I'm barefooted, but actually hurts when I put my sneakers on. It doesn't hurt a lot, but enough to know that something is wrong, and especially while I'm running.

I may go back to my old sneakers, the ones that trained on all fall/winter (and that may have caused my hamstring problem), but may take out my orthotics. I'm also thinking that it's time for new orthotics. I haven't gotten new ones since 2006. Probably another reason why I am having these injuries.....

Ice is now my best friend, but I hate it. I just want to run.

Especially because this weekend is the Nike Women's Half Marathon.

I was looking forward to this race for months, but lost motivation for it over the last two weeks. My goal is to finish it. Nothing more.

Should I actually be running it? No. But I want that darn Tiffany's necklace that will be at the finish!! So I am determined to do whatever it takes to get there!

If anyone has suggestions for an injured hamstring or an injured foot, let me know! In the meantime, I'm going to keep on icing and research where I can get orthotics in DC!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Thinking of Boston

I just got home and am finally turning on the news. The videos and photos are so sad. I heard about Boston right before school ended. Total shock. Disbelief. Not sure what words to use to describe my emotions and thoughts.

All weekend I was sad that I wasn't there. All day I kept thinking about the runners that would be running.

Now I keep asking Why? Why? Why do this to runners? To people? Why do it ever?

I keep hearing of friends that are safe and sound. They're OK. With each communication I am a little more relieved. I can't imagine the families of those that were hurt or killed.

I am not there, but I thank all of those who are helping out: the guards, the fire and emergency crew, the police, nurses, doctors, runners, and all of those that are rushing to respond and help out.

I'll go out for a run tonight. Running seems to be the only thing that I can control while the rest of the world goes crazy. I'll go run. And I'll breathe more deeply to smell the flowers. I'll watch the families walking with their kids. These events remind us to appreciate our lives a little more.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Race Recap

Ahh yaye! I raced today and didn't die! In fact, I ran faster than I thought or planned to.

Final 10 mile time: 1:09:58
114th woman out of 10,170
38th in age group

I could not sleep at all last night and it wasn't because of the race. We had watched last week's episode of Scandal and my mind would not let it go. Gah! Why does that show make me lose so much sleep? I would almost be asleep and then somehow my mind would start wondering about what had happened and I'd be awake again. I lost about 2.5 hours from 1:30-4:00 am because of that show. Needless to say, I was a little tired when the alarm rang at 5:10.

By 6:10 we were out the door and heading to the metro. We made it to the Washington Monument start by 6:40, and were able to meet up with Tom's team (his co-workers) before heading to our corrals. Tom and I were each in the first wave and had a great starting point. It was really weird to be so close to so many fast runners. I felt a little out of place knowing that my training has been pretty non-existent over the last few months.

I must admit that I was worried about running all week. I've had foot pain in my right foot since Monday. Back in 2006 I had to do a few weeks of pool running due to pain in this foot. The athletic trainer was afraid I was on my way to a stress fracture. I couldn't tell if what I was experiencing this week was bone, muscle, or ligament pain, but I didn't want to make it worse. On Wednesday it got pretty bad so I took Thursday and Friday off to ice and rest. I ran 20 minutes on Saturday and iced some more. The foot hurt a tiny bit early this morning, but thankfully didn't hurt at all during today's race.

The Race
It was windy and 44 degrees at the start. We (Tom and I) debated what to wear and ultimately I went with shorts and a long sleeve. I was good for the first 2 miles, but I did get warm after. I rolled up the sleeves and was fine for the rest of the race.

My body got into a groove and didn't leave it too much during the race. I was worried when I saw my first mile split and had flashbacks to half marathons and marathons that have started out that fast and then bonked at the end. Miles 2 and 3 came by and I was not too far off from the starting pace.

Miles 1-3

If that's what my body wanted, I went with it. I told myself not to be a baby anymore. If I want to improve in running I need to go for speed and not be afraid. Every time I tried to slow down a little bit I ended up running faster. Not sure how, but it happened.

Miles 6 and 7 were tough. We headed out to Hains Point, a little island, and were struck with head on wind that did not let up the entire way. Unfortunately the crowd was thinning out and I found myself running alone for most of it. Around mile 7 one of Tom's coworkers passed me and then the 7:00 mile tempo group came along. I was able to scoot in behind them and draft for a few minutes, giving me a slight break from the wind. 

Miles 4-7

It was a relief when we started heading back to the start at mile 7.5. I didn't take any water along the way, but once I passed the last water station at mile 8 I think I started to freak myself out. I started to get dizzy, but was able to recover. I talked myself out of whatever I was thinking and got back into the game. 

However, mile 9 was another story. I thought I was going to be sick for a while. Again, had to talk myself out of it. Had to remind myself that it was only 4 laps on a track. There were signs that counted down each "lap" and told us when there were 1200m, 800m, and 400m left. Those signs helped a lot. I thought my last mile would be my slowest, but somehow it wasn't. Maybe I thought I was going to be sick because I had actually picked up my pace.

Miles 8-10

Random fact: Smiling suppresses the gag reflex. If you ever see me smiling at the finish line even though I look tired, you now know why. I thank CSI for teaching me that one back in 2005. 

Overall, I was happy with my time. Like I said, I wanted to use it as a training run. Wasn't planning to actually race it, but my body was ready for it. My hamstring bothered me a few times, but nothing like it did at Philly. I also brought the Garmin and was happy with its accuracy. It was nice not to have to worry about catching each mile marker and let me be in the moment the whole time.

Tom did really awesome and came in at 1:00:32. He was 137th overall (fast guy!) and 40th in age group. He's been able to run much more down here than he could in Vermont last year. Since we're running the VCM together in May, he decided to use this as a race to prep for that one, but still had fun with it.

Oh, and those cherry blossoms? They were out, but I barely noticed them. Guess that's what happens when I've decided that I'm in the race to race.

We walked to the White House after and then had brunch at Open City. I've already had my afternoon nap, and now it's time to prepare for school tomorrow. Spring break was wonderful. Only 2 more months left of school and only 3 more weeks until the Nike Women's Half. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Let there be spring and cherry blossoms

It feels like we've been waiting forever, but spring has finally made its way to DC and we saw the temperatures reach into the 60s yesterday. All of this warmth means the cherry blossoms can finally make their appearance, just in time for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler. 

I spent an hour outside of the Capitol and the Botanical Gardens yesterday, taking photos and enjoying the new blooms. The air was filled with their fragrances and it was nice to relax and enjoy their beautify for a while. 

It's too bad Google Nose didn't exist. I wanted nothing more than to bottle up those scents and bring them back with me. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

I won a VT Giveaway!

Last month I started following a blog,, because of a giveaway Honi, the author, was doing. What is awesome about this blog is that Honi gives away products from Vermont companies! I can't remember what giveaway brought me to the blog, but I have since entered a few giveaways  never expecting to win anything. 

Then, I got an email on my birthday (last month) saying that I was one of three winners for the Honest Simple Soap package! That was an awesome birthday surprise! 

The package didn't take long at all to come. In it I found a handcrafted soap, beeswax lotion, bath scrub, a fizzy bath bomb, and a thank you card! I become an instant fan of companies that include a thank you card or a hand written note. 

What I love about the four products that I received is that they are all naturally made. You will not find those harmful chemicals that are in drug-store soaps and lotions. That's been on my mind a lot lately. There are so many chemicals in the food we eat and in our daily lives that bombard our body, that it's a relief to find a product that isn't adding more.  

I've tried the soap and the lotion and looove them. I now carry the beeswax lotion in my purse so I can have it at all times. I have yet to try the salt scrub and bath bomb, but have a feeling I'll love those as well. In fact, I can't wait to order something in the Vanilla Chai Tea or Orange Cream scents. Mojito would not have been my first choice, but I am liking it anyway! 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Then and Now

Two photos. Same place. Different years.
Meet the 2006 Dani and the 2013 Dani.

One was taken in 90 degree weather after a thunderstorm, the other in 48 degree weather and wind. 

In one I am a sophomore in college, planning to go to med school, and am fascinated by the city. In the other I have graduated from grad school, am a teacher, and am still fascinated by this city. 

In one I call Vermont home, the other, I call both Vermont and DC home.

In both I have Tom as my photographer and tour guide :)

I wonder what my life will be like next time I take photo in this spot...

4 Days Until Cherry Blossom 10 Miler

I have neglected this poor blog of mine so much lately. Not sure why, but I seem to be at a loss for words even though I've been filling up my days with fun activities. I've been on spring break since noon of last Friday and am getting a ton of errands done. It is nice to get away from the computer and do some exciting things.

Last Week's Total Mileage: 30 miles

Last week's running went OK. I am so done with the wind and cooler temperatures that haven't left DC  in weeks. I am ready for it to be warm and in the 60/70s, but that type of weather won't come back until next week - just in time for us to return back to school.

Monday: off

Tuesday: 1 mile at practice and 5.5 miles at home
Track practice doesn't lend as many miles as XC practice did, so my at-home runs have to make up for it. I've modified a route I did all of the time in the fall to be more of a "5 mile run", not a 5.3 mile run, and in doing so eliminated a dreaded pre-hill portion of the run. Each time I got to this particular spot I would dread what lay ahead because I could see the entire quarter-mile hill in front of me. Now, I turn a corner and find myself climbing the hill right away, but I start further up. That one change is enough to make that route fun again.

Wednesday: 2 miles at practice with the kiddos.

Thursday: 1 mile at practice
I had a dinner party to go to after practice to celebrate a friend's birthday, therefore, I didn't have a chance to run. I was OK with that. Even though it was sunny, it was super windy out and I was freezing by the time I was finished with practice.

Friday: 7 miles at 8:01 pace
I honestly felt like I was running much faster but the Garmin didn't agree. I ran through Rock Creek (maybe some trees blocked out satellite signals?) which was a great change of scenery! I hadn't run South toward VA until this run and I hope I do it more often. The only downside is that there are so many cars and I know with better weather there will be a ton of people on the bike path. My leg felt great on this run, which is expected since I had done very little running this week.

Saturday: 5 miles at 7:56 pace
It was warm on this day! I ran right before dinner and enjoyed feeling the sun's heat shine down. I also loved running through all of the neighborhoods and finally being able to smell the springtime blooms! I tried to beat a crosswalk sign and unfortunately felt my leg tighten up after it. I swear, that is probably why the injury has lasted as long as it has. I make it a goal to cross the street before the cross walk ends and many of the times find myself sprinting in order to do so.

Sunday: 9 miles at 8:03 pace
My first four miles were super slow and both my mind and body did not want to be running so early in the day. Thankfully things started to work after I turned around at mile 4.5 and I started to loosen up and pick up the pace. My goal was to get in another distance day before Sunday's race. I want to train through this race and be in better racing shape for the end of the month, when I do the Nike Women's Half.

I had an eye exam this morning to renew my contacts prescription. Tom and I made plans to meet up after for lunch. We went to Cafe Recess for sandwiches and ran into an acquaintance there! I think it is so awesome to run into someone I know in this city since I feel like a newbie here. In VT I was almost guaranteed to see someone I knew no matter where we went. 

We walked to the Capitol and ate our lunch on a bench to enjoy the sunshine. Again, even though it is sunny, it certainly is not warm. That darn wind will just not leave this city! We walked around the Capitol and parted ways as I headed for the metro and Tom headed back to work.

It sure was nice to spend some time with Tom during the workday. I'm going to miss this freedom next week!