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Marine Corps Marathon Recap!

The evening of the MCM I rode the metro down to Arlington to meet a few familiar faces: Jenni and Josh ran Ragnar DC 17′. Josh couldn’t believe I was still down with peanut butter and bananas (I think a lot of the vanmates were burnt out of pb&b after Ragnar weekend) but explained how my love of PB is as deep and wide as a river.

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I got to the hotel kinda late, so it was a quick lay out of a flat runner and nutrition for the AM and it was bedtime for all of us.

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Ragnar Van 2 Representing!

Just an FYI for future MCM runners- the Arlington cemetary Metro stop is a HIKE from the start line. We left with more than plenty of time, but with the poor funneling at the Metro’s exit and the long walk to the start & port-o-potty stop, I found myself running (yes, actually running) to try and get into my corral by the start. I made it just in time for the national anthem, to catch my breath, start my Garmin, and take off for the long run.

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Josh & Jen 

My goals for this race were kinda all over the place. I thought, if I had a decent day I could pull a 3:30 finishing time. So 3:30 or under was my A goal. To qualify for Boston again, would be an amazing feat! My B goal was 3:35. I didn’t have a C or worse goal. I felt like 3:35 was the B-C goal. Anything less than that would be something entirely out of my control.

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You will notice a lot/all of my race photos i have a worried look. I steered clear of the MCM marathon for a long time because a handful of people told me the course was super hilly at end and sometimes the weather didn’t cooperate and you could get a hot day. I was so stressed and anxious the first 10 miles of this race. I didn’t know if I was prepared, didn’t know if I would hit that dreaded “wall” didn’t know if it was too hot to run as fast as I was planning…

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The truth is, it was warmer than ideal. We started at 55 degrees and 88% humidity and I know most people finished the race in the mid-high 70s. But I kept reminding myself that I trained all summer in super humid conditions and the temps were lower than I was used to, so yay! a positive thought amongst all the stress! Haha. This marathon was much more of a mental feat than fast feet. <—see what I did there?

Okay so temps weren’t ideal, my ipod somehow turned itself onto “Shuffle” so my songs were doing their own thing. I tried to enjoy the “let’s see what plays next” mentality even though I stratigically place songs in a specific TYPE A order. AHH!HH!H!H!HH!HH!

Once the crowds thinned, I actually started enjoying running around DC. I kept my spirits up with the crowd support, it was incredible! Spectators must have been out because of the beautiful day, and for that, I was okay with the warmer temps. I also knew that somewhere in the crowd was my very best of all time support crew. Stephen and his daughter (we will call her Curly for now) were meeting to see me at mile 9 or 11, then again at 22. Knowing they were on the course for me was enough. I wanted to run well for them and I wanted to get to them as fast as possible because I knew Steve had a bottle of Tailwind ready for me. It would be my first time running with Tailwind which claims you don’t need gels or chews, just this drink. (I ate gels during my race until I got the Tailwind, just an FYI).

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When mile 11 came around I spotted the labeless bottle of Gatorade filled with Tailwind up in the sky. Steve was holding up the bottle above the crowd like the hammer of Thor! I spotted it easily and was SO EXCITED to stop and give a few sweaty hugs and kisses from my two favorite people and after he gave a few encouraging words, I was off again.

The fuel came in handy, Tailwind was a dream. I took small sips and held onto that bottle for about 10 miles until I finished it all. I was happy I didn’t have to stop at water stations and I felt incredible as I picked up the pace slowly through the 2nd half of the race.

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Once I was past mile 20, i knew there was no wall to crash into. A 10K is nothing after 20 miles. It was time to work and start pushing. Focus on the finish line, a cold beer and checking another race off your list. I spotted Steve and Curly one more time past mile 22, and then grabbed a small cup of beer from college kids shortly after. I’m telling you, grab beer in the end of a marathon. It’s liquid pain killer and carbs. I soooo needed that.

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The end of the race came quickly and I realized I was running where the port-o-pottys and corrals were earlier that morning, checked my watch and Dear God, I literally ran .7 tenths of a mile before the start! OH and the finish is on a bit of an uphill… but the elevation for the course is a joke. If you think Marine Corps is hilly please start running hills more often.

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574 total ft of elevation. 

By the time I hit that hill and crossed the finish line, I was ECSTATIC! My 2nd time qualifing for Boston, 2nd fastest marathon time and a negative split! 3:25:19

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the finish!

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With all that said, this is probably my favorite marathon to date. Reasons being:

  • Spectator support: There was hardly a single moment without people lining the course. Feeding off the crowd was key to my success that day.
  • Stephen and Curly. He has supported my fitness and running goals since the day I met him. Having an active crew on race day was so special. They both lit a fire in my heart that day.
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Curly liked the medal bc it opened and closed

  • The Blue Mile. I’ll never forget running a full mile where pictures of fallen service men and women lined both sides of the course. It’s amazing how long a mile feels when you see that many pictures of men, women and families. The volunteers held American flags at the end, creating a red, white and blue tunnel for the runners and thanked us as we ran by. All I could do was hold a hand over my heart and thank them. It was an emotional mile and hard not to get choked up.
  • I broke into the top 100 female finishers. Another thing I didn’t expect, but secretly wanted to happen one day.
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  • I was craving fried pickles after the race and Steve was down for Buffalo Wild Wings. Yep, one of my favorite post-race meals. Fried pickles and wings.

What’s your favorite marathon to date?

Do you prefer hilly or flat courses?


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MCM Part 1: Six Weeks to a Marathon, the lead up, the plan.

Obtaining a race bib for the Marine Corps Marathon kinda fell into my lap. Aaaand I may or may not have had a beer or two in me aaaaand accidentally on purpose agreed to a bib transfer, for a marathon only 6 weeks away.

I need to back up a bit. I know i’ve skipped a lot of blogging. Over the summer I had an almost injury where I had to back off of running, see the chiropractor and an orthopedist in the same week because I was so scared I was on the verge of tearing something in my knee.

Right around the 4th of July I was getting some weird knee pain like I’ve never experienced before. Now, since I’m a personal trainer I like to set examples for my clients, readers and friends. When something feels “off”, not normal, or “OW” type pain, STOP whatever you’re doing, take time off and if it doesn’t get better and seek a professional diagnoses. So I did just that.

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4th of July

I immediately stopped running, lifting and to my despair and two more weeks off, nothing seemed to get better. After visiting the Ortho (who is also a marathoner) he ruled out the big fear of a tear and was 99.9% sure I was experiencing inflammation in the patella tendon and a tight hamstring which was pulling at the knee, making running feel unstable. Surprisingly, he said the issue wasn’t from running, but from the way I was squatting. He wrote me a prescription for lifting shoes which changed the angle I was squatting and ice for my knee.

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That was it. Lifting shoes helped the problem instantly. I was excited and back to running slowly by the end of July. I spent all of August building a running base and was quickly back to 20-30 mile weeks. <—pretty much the type of running shape I attempt to be in even during “off season.” Is there such a thing as off season?

That’s when the MCM opportunity came up. September 5th I bought a bib transfer through one of the Zooma Ambassadors because I had nothing going on the weekend of October 22nd. Easy right? Well, easy was how I planned to run the race. I just wanted to run it for fun, but I always feel like I’m kidding myself when I say this. I like to race on race day. It’s hard for me to run for fun unless i’m running with friends. With the bib now in my name I had to come up with a training plan that would work in 6 weeks, including a taper week which realistically meant 5 weeks to prep for a marathon. Yikes.

I think the pictures below were Stephen making sure I was making a sound choice. 😉

I was starting off on the right foot, I had the base mileage. 30 miles was a great place to begin. I figured the best way to train on a shortened schedule wasn’t to do traditional speed work and tempo workouts.  I was nervous if I were to add more mileage on top of a crapload of speed sessions I would only increase my chances of injury (especially after recently sidestepping one).  I had to somehow do everything at once, but not in running workouts.

I decided to take a big risk and weight train (heavy lifting) for the fast twitch muscles (replacing speed work) then run on fatigued, tired legs (simulating the last miles of marathons). Then repeat. I didn’t let my legs relax for 5 solid weeks. I lifted my heaviest over those weeks and went running shortly after. Slogging miles with heavy steps and tired muscles on hills was the name of the game. This was a difficult training cycle, there were tears and many moments where i forgot what fresh legs felt like.

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Heavy DL, then a run after

I used Ragnar DC for a speed work check in. I did the virtual Ragnar 7 Summits Challenge as motivation for another week of even more hills and elevation. I finished one 16 miler, mostly because i needed a confidence boost and had one high mileage peak week at 55 miles, 2 weeks before the race.

I didn’t rest until the taper, 7 days out from Marine Corps, I stopped heavy lifting, didn’t do any strength training and ran easy while attending my best friends wedding. A great way to take my mind off a marathon.

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And that was that. I had to trust that I put in work that was all my own. Not a training plan or Hansons or Runners World or a coach had given me. I was putting some faith into knowing my body, knowing I was a strong lifter and a strong runner. All that was left was to cross my heart and hope it would somehow merge together and show up as fitness on race day.

To be continued…

 


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Onward!

As I said before, a lot of life changes have happened over the last year. There’s a reason I haven’t posted many blogs in 2017 and a reason my Instagram turned into a million selfies. My life changed and I got divorced. Out of respect for my ex and his family, I’m not going to talk about any specifics, just understand that we weren’t happy and ultimately parting ways was the best choice.

It was difficult to try to put together a blog this year. I had to edit and water down posts to the bare minimum while going through the divorce process.  Which, in turn made the blogs boring and inorganic. I like sharing and being transparent with you guys. I like getting my thoughts out and re-reading old posts to see where my mind was during certain moments and training cycles. This blog has turned into a pseudo scrapbook and a fun way to share with friends and family what’s going on.

As sad as the above might sound, I’ve actually had the best year of my life. Most often when I’m away from my blog or social media, real life is happening, some good, some bad. I’ve said it before and i’ll say it again: I’ve been happier, healthier and more loved than ever. I’ve been around good people, new friends, new family and I hope you’re ready to take on the next steps with me because A LOT of good shit has happened and the future is so bright. Speaking of, have you watched Netflix’s “Bright”…it’s outstanding!

So quickly, I want to recap some highlights of 2017, since i’m late to the New Year’s post. I have some awesome race recaps coming soon and currently i’m training for a trail 1/2 marathon, a trail 50K (both in February), Boston in April, and a few 10 milers shortly after. Hang tight, the blog is about to get wild.

2017 (1711 total miles)

Jan 1st, 2017- Setting the tone of the year on day one: I PR’d the 5k at a local race and won 1st overall female shaving 50 seconds off my last 5k with the time of 20:09!

New Year's Day 5K 2017 - Photo by Dan Reichmann, MCRRC

New Year’s Day 5K 2017 – Photo by Dan Reichmann, MCRRC

March 11th- Rock n’ Roll DC 1/2.  PR’d on a cold day by almost 2 minutes. 1:33:37. I broke into the top 100 females that day, 67th.  A bigger accomplishment than the PR. I was super proud of that race.

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I ran a lot of trails this year.

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Including a Ragnar Trail

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I PR’d just about every lift this year.
Deadlift Conventional 2 @ 255#
Back Squat 1 @ 195#
Front Squat 5 @ 155#
Bench 1 @ #105
Power Clean 3 @ 115#
Jerk 1 @ 115#
Snatch 1 @ 80#

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His and Hers ❤

I learned how to eat Maryland crab this year.

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I ran my first 7K and won it!

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I went to a lot of weddings, wore a lot of dresses this year…

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Marie my best friend, and most beautiful bride

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I ran Marine Corps Marathon on little running (ok, 50 mile weeks, but no legitimate speed/training plan). Not a PR, but a huge Boston Qualifier and the first time I broke into the top 100 female at a marathon (81st official female) and made it in the Washington PostFullSizeRender (1)

I ran another Ragnar DC with a good group of people.
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I pit crewed for the love of my life at World’s Toughest Mudder. And it was the most fulfilling race I’ve ever not ran.

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Clint and me in the Pit.

Have I introduced you to the dude in all my pictures? His name is Stephen. You can call him Steve. He’s a badass. He lifts heavy weights, completed 10 Tough Mudder events, runs incredible distances (he did 40 miles during World’s Toughest) and he’s an amazing, incredible, spectacularly inspiring father to an almost 4 year old girl. He has yet to run an official marathon (don’t worry we’ll get him there), but is jumping straight to the 50K trail with me in February… Let’s just say we get along real well.

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That kinda sums up my year. Lots of change, but a lot of the same. Still striving to be a better person, develop relationships with people that matter, lift heavier, run farther, run faster, travel more. You know the drill.. and i’ll be around much more this year. Enjoy life kids. Be happy.

Now tell me your 2018 plans, goals, races, life changes…