Tag Archives: Race day

Pre-race swim calms my nerves

I wrote earlier this week that I’d decided, sort of accidentally, to taper for the Broad Street Run tomorrow. This is mostly because of a doctor’s order not to run on the ankle I’d just gotten a cortisone shot in.

But I have gotten a few good swims in, including a great workout suggested by my friend Meredith yesterday. I jokingly-but-not refer to Meredith as my swim coach. A swimmer and former swim coach herself, she suggested training parameters for the Bay Bridge Swim and the Ocean Marathon in Jacksonville that were totally dead-on. Also, she always seems to have a great workout on hand — something that’s both fun and butt-whupping, which is about the best compliment I can give a workout.

I modified what was a much longer workout (stay tuned for the full version, which I plan to attempt sometime next week) to reflect that fact that I do plan to run 10 miles, fast, tomorrow. Check out my amended version, which works out to about 3,300 yards, below. A word of advice: the 25s, which look like an afterthought, will KILL your triceps and your lungs after you’ve completed the rest of the workout.

500 warm up

10×50 on 1:00 (warm up set, your choice stroke)

Pyramid set, freestyle, on :15 rest, moderate pace that you can maintain (goal is to hold your pace the whole time): > 1×50 > 1×100 > 1×150 > 1×200 > 1×250 > 1×300 > 1×250 > 1×200 > 1×150 > 1×100 > 1×50

4×25 sprint your choice on :45

4×25 no-breath freestyle, as much rest as you need (if you’ve got good lung capacity and breath control, you shouldn’t need more than 20 to 30 seconds)

300 cool down

Also, do you guys know about the Speedo waterproof mp3 player? I didn’t, until Meredith told me about it (Like I said … she knows her stuff). Now, I’m not sure how I can live without it. Have you used one of these? Let me know what you think, if so.


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Race preview: Earth Day 5K in Silver Spring

Basic CMYK

Earth Day is almost here, and with it, its mandate to do something fun, enriching and crunchy-granola outdoors.

Thanks for the Silver Spring Earth Day 5K, sponsored by Pacers Silver Spring, I’m covered on all counts.

The inaugural race starts 8 a.m. Sunday in downtown Silver Spring, which means you can save a car trip by taking Metro there and back. A large chunk of the U.S. Track and Field certified course runs along the lovely, woodsy Sligo Creek Parkway Trail, which will let D.C. urbanites get their forest fix. The race benefits The Nature Conservancy, and race-packet freebies include Feetures! Bamboo socks and reusable grocery totes (I told you it was crunchy-granola). The first 350 people to register even get organic T-shirts.

By the way, I have on good word that the bamboo socks are extraordinarily comfortable, and posses odor-killing properties most runners could use.

5Ks are perhaps my slowest-distance race. Whenever I look at those pace-conversion charts that tell you what other race times should be based on one time, I learn that I’m way behind my own personal bell curve for short distances. I’m scrappier than I am speedy, I guess.

I don’t have huge expectations for this race, time-wise, as it follows the opening of the Tiki Bar on Solomons Island on Friday and my darling “nephew’s” first birthday party on Saturday night (and when they’re that little, it’s more a party for the grown-ups than anything else). But I’ll keep you posted. Wish me luck!


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Why does Brightroom hate me?

When the Brighroom link arrived in my inbox, I clicked on it with a mixture of excitement and dread.

Anyone who’s checked out race photos of themselves is familiar with this feeling. Most of us are inherently vain, so we hope against hope that these pictures will capture us at our hard-core best, or at least  smiling and having a blast,  giving the camera a thumbs-up rather than looking at our watch or spitting.

We all know which side this usually comes down on. Runner’s World’s Mark Remy captures this phenomenon well in his hilarious post, Why Does MarathonFoto Hate Me? He offers examples of his own photos, which he describes as making him look like “a confused, exhausted choking victim.”

I feel his pain. I made a special effort during the National Half Marathon to smile when I passed photographers, as evidenced by a few of my photos, which you can check out here. Clearly, this effort evaporated as the race wore on. Think you’re having a hard day? Check out the last photo of me. I look a little like Napoleon Dynamite taking a big swig of Gatorade after a tough dance session.

A note to Brightoom: I don’t think you hate me– the title is just for funnies.  And I don’t blame you and your talented photographers a bit. These pictures capture reality, in all its spitting, watch-checking, face-making glory. And if I’m being honest, I still check that link with more excitement than dread. It would be cool if I looked like a world champion in a race photo one of these days, but for now, I’ll settle for looking like a middle-of-the-packer having an awesome time.

Any tips for taking a good finish-line photo? Post ’em below.


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Race-day pics

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Race day

I won’t bury the lede — I finished in 1:49:19, which was my “it would be cool if” goal, otherwise known as my “pie in the sky” goal. I knew I could theoretically do it. But I also knew I’d need to have a pretty awesome day to run 8:20-minute miles for 13.1 miles.

So … I did! Perfect weather — cold at the start, chilly but no wind throughout. It was a gorgeous course, with awesome views of the Washington Monument and neighborhoods like Adams Morgan and Dupont Circle. For a few solid miles of the race, runners were treated to views of the Capitol looming ahead of them. This made even the rolling hills that plagued me the whole race seem bearable, as did some awesome cheering sections. My favorites were the dudes at Howard University, who were blasting Dr. Dre and shouting words of encouragement to everyone who passed.

I set out with the 8:23-minute-mile pace group provided by the Naval Academy’s Marathon Team, hoping to hang on as long as I could. I was dismayed to note how tired I felt — until we passed the two-mile mark in about 16 minutes. “We’d better pull back a little,” one pacer said to another. You think?

They took the next mile slower, but I still lost the pacer’s orange balloon somewhere after the first big hill. I was too focused on not dying to check my watch, so I assumed I’d gotten really, really slow. I didn’t realize until I saw the pace breakdown — 8:20-minute miles — that I realized they must have been really, really fast.

Luckily, I had my own Naval Academy pace team as backup. Steve was waiting at mile 7, and surprised me by finishing the race with me from there. He ever-so-gently pushed me to run a few miles at 8-minute -mile pace. I responded somewhat gracefully to the pressure, with only one angry exclamation of “DUDE!” when he got five paces ahead of me.

I’m so grateful to him for being my cheerleader and running buddy, and so grateful to all my other buddies — running and otherwise — for texting, calling and e-mailing to wish me luck. When I started this blog, I was kinda horrified by the whole idea of it. I’ve always shied away from publicly sharing goals of any sort; it seemed vain and absurd to think that anyone would care that much about a middle-of-the-packer shooting for, by many standards, mediocre goals.

But I was missing out on all the awesome support my friends and family were ready and waiting to offer. That support, in various ways, carried me through the race.

At the beginning of the race, I thought about my friend Jen’s sister, who runs a 17:45 5K, telling me to just relax and enjoy it. At the first hill, I thought about Courtney, who recorded a video of herself chirping “Keep going! Don’t stop! Keep going!” in a Nemo-esque voice. On a downhill, when I needed motivation to push myself, I thought about my friend Nicole telling me to “run the f—” out of the race, as it’s something I can control even when the rest of life is out of my hands. And I thought about my friend Sarah, who says she calls the last mile her “guts and glory” mile, where she runs her guts out to pass everyone she can.

I didn’t pass anyone, but I ran so hard, my hamstrings hurt. Like, as if I was doing hamstring curls at the gym. Like, bad enough that had I not been literally gasping for air, I would have screamed, “Ouch!” Or maybe something stronger.

Luckily, I had Sarah’s favorite pump-up song, P!nk’s “So What,” to fuel me through it. Speaking of music, I would have choked without my friend Chris’ iPod filling in for mine, which is allegedly on its way back to me from the iPod hospital via FedEx.

Anyway: Thanks. To everyone. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some carbs to replenish …


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Pre-race routines

My race-day running clothes are laid out on my dresser, right below my bib and Timex IronMan watch. The espresso machine is loaded, the Luna bar is sitting in the counter and my iPod (well, my friend Chris’ iPod, as mine isn’t back from the iPod infirmary — thanks, Chris!) is loaded with a carefully compiled playlist.

Now what? I consulted my friends for tips on how to chill out, and got some really fabulous ideas. Here are a few of my favorites:

From my friend Jim, whose son runs something in the neighborhood of a 4-minute mile, and who’s no slouch of a runner himself: “Be a total obsessive. Lay everything out. Know exactly what you will eat pre-race. Have that laid out. Every little detail: planned. Bathe very early. To bed very early. Then when you are laying there and you can’t sleep, you can tell yourself “f-it, I’m in bed early. I’m not worried about falling asleep.” Then you just let yourself drift. You don’t think about the race at all. Don’t imagine anything about it. Get out of bed early, knowing you will feel like s–t. It’s OK that you feel like s–t. You planned for that. Get to the race early so you can forget about parking and all of that crap. Have lots and lots of time to stretch and go for a pre-race run. Not too far before the race. You want to be warm and still a little sweaty when the gun sounds. Then you go like hell!”

From my friend Courtney: “I never sleep well the night before the race… EVER– no matter how big or small. So, I really have to count on good sleep for the other nights leading up to the race. I prepare everything… bib pinned to clothes, everything in a pile. Chip attached to shoe. Breakfast components on counter. You’d think that’d help me sleep, but NO WAY!”

And once that’s all done, I especially like this piece of advice from my friend Jen‘s older sister, Jessica. Jess was our absolute running idol growing up — she was fast in high school, faster in college, and impossibly cool to two 8th-graders. A year or so ago, she ran a half-marathon without any training at all, and still finished in about two hours. She offers this: “I used to get so nervous before a race. Now that I’m out of the racing scene, I look back and wonder: What was I so afraid of? Just relax and enjoy …”

Brilliant. Let the relaxing begin!

To that end, I’ll answer the aforementioned friend Jen’s question about pre-race dinners.

“Of course, you’re suppose to load up on carbs. Just curious if you have a “special” meal. I’ve been known to go to the Olive Garden and eat pasta and breadsticks…haven’t seen any big success with that meal….thinking I should try something different.”

In a word: Pizza. The light, crispy restaurant kind, or the kind we make at home with Whole Foods dough, topped with tomatoes, basil and peppers. Roasted-veggie lasagna is a fave, too, but longer races call for pizza. My opinion about this was totally justified last year, when Olympic marathoner Keith Brantly said this was HIS pre-race meal of choice. If it works for him …


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Last pre-race run, more pre-race jitters

Just got back from a quick 25-minute tempo run — my last before the race! It felt awesome to get out and stretch my legs, and I worked in a couple of hills just to remind my body that I can do them.

Next up: the expo tomorrow, which is sure to be exciting. Even though it’s a pain having to trek downtown in the middle of the day, I’m sure getting my timing chip and race number will help me feel like I’m actually doing something to get ready for the race, which at this point, I want to JUST GET HERE ALREADY.

Any tips for coping with pre-race jitters? Post ’em below!


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First DC race day!

I started the day today with a musket shot from George Washington.

OK, it was more like a pop gun shot by a dude in a Revolutionary War costume, but it was a memorable way to start the morning — and my first road race in the Washington area — nonetheless.

The George Washington Classic 10K was a nice, flat route along Eisenhower Avenue and through a few local parks in Alexandria. We had perfect running weather, about 40 degrees and sunny, and got cool fleece running hats for our efforts, making the race worth the time before we even started.

All week, I’ve been puzzling over the right way to race a 10K. I’m typically about an 8:30-minute-mile girl for a 10K. But since Steve and I started doing group runs with Pacers, we’ve realized that this is also our pace for our everyday five-mile runs — hard, but conversational. Which suggests that perhaps my 10K pace should be faster.

I figured the solution was to pick up the pace a bit in this 10K.

Here’s how it went down:
Ran the first mile in 7:30 (oops!)
Ran my best 5K time since high school, 24 minutes (ooh!)
Felt like I’d been hit by a truck by mile 5, and was passed by what looked like the majority of my age group, plus most of the master’s age groups, too (ugh)
Still ran a better time than my usual, 51:31 according to my purple Timex. That’s 8:18-minute-miles, which is … faster than 8:30?

Not sure where this leaves me as far as my race strategy, or lack thereof. Does anyone know the right way to race a 10K? If so, please enlighten me by posting a comment.

***Editor’s note: Shortly after writing this post, I looked up the race results and found this note on top:
“Today’s event was measured at 6.4 miles. We sincerely apologize for the course error; pace has been calculated at 6.4 miles. -GW Birthday Classic Race Committee.”
Oh, snap! My new pace? 8:07-minute miles! I also feel the need to give Steve a shout-out for running a 47:58, which meant he was doing super-human 7:30-minute miles.


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