Race Recap: Annapolis Running Classic 10K 2016

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of being chosen to be an ambassador for the Annapolis Running Classic in Annapolis, Maryland. This had been on my radar as my first race post-Marine Corps, and I was so excited to run the 10K as part of their “A-Team”.

Friday night: I headed straight to Annapolis right after work, and with traffic it took me about 1:15. The Navy-Marine Corps Stadium was easy to get to. I got in and out of the “expo” with my bib quickly and painlessly. There wasn’t too much for the expo, just a few vendors and some race merch. I spent the night with friends who live a mile away. It was a much needed night of friend time, chicken parm and wine, and games. My boyfriend even made an unexpected appearance! I got to bed around midnight – later than I had hoped but not the end of the world.

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Brooks top (Dash 1/4 zip, I think), Balega Enduro socks, Janji capris, Brooks Pure Cadence 5. Not pictured: Garmin 235, Nathan handheld bottle, sweaty band, momentum jewelry sparklets

Pre-race: I was up and out of my friend’s house by 5:45 and parked at the stadium just 10 minutes later. In hindsight, I probably didn’t have to leave so early. But I’d rather be early than sit in traffic. I took a short nap and had my UCan before heading out. I first tried a porta jon that was FULL. I mean, FULL. It must have been from the last Navy football game. After meeting some ambassadors at the Blue Angels plane (it was great to meet you, Jenny!), I was happy to find the race’s porta jons. I waited for just a few minutes, but they were fresh and still had *TP*.

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Some of the A-Team ambassadors. Thanks for the photo, Jenny!

Corral thoughts: The corrals were self-seeded and I seriously had no idea what to do. I was completely winging this race. The furthest I had run since the marathon was 5 miles, and my intention was to just have fun and finish with a smile. I ended up lining up just behind the 2:15 half marathon pacer (approx 10:15 mile) to see if I could stay with them for a bit.

Miles 1-2: I caught right up with the pace group after the start, and aimed to stay with them for as long as I could without needing to start the intervals I used for marathon training. The first mile was fast (9:40) but I trusted the pacers. (The back half of the half is hilly, so they needed to bank some time). At first I felt like I couldn’t keep up, but about midway through mile 2 I realized that my body wanted to run. I left the group right around the 2 mile mark (10:10).

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Free race photos? Sure, I’ll cheese it up.

Miles 3-6.33: I didn’t even think when I first left the group, I just went. This portion of the race brought us down a slight downhill, around the state Capitol and into Downtown. It was so beautiful, and the downhill was welcomed. This is where I started to struggle during  the Zooma 10K, but here I kept feeling like I could go faster. I hit mile 3 (9:38) and knew I would be close to a PR if I could hold that pace. Miles 4-5 were a series of out and backs though town. I didn’t mind it, as it allowed me to see the people in front of me. Mile 4 was a bit of a mental struggle due to a slight uphill. Mentally, I wanted to walk so badly, but all of the stairs at November Project made my legs feel untouched going up that hill (9:40). I had a GU that I nibbled on not because I needed the sugar, but because I was hungry in general.

Mile 5 is when I started to get competitive with myself. I knew a PR was in reach, and I was feeling good. Like, real good. I had a fire that I don’t normally feel during races. I started focusing on people ahead of me and kept passing them, left and right. It felt so good. I hit mile 5 in 8:58. This is when I knew a sub-1:00 was in reach, and I was going for it. The last mile was tough. There were slight uphills the whole way, with a short, steeper one as you entered the stadium parking lot. I kept checking my watch, and when my mile 6 chimed in at 9:14, I knew I would be so close.

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Apparently I run with my eyes closed.

Unfortunately, the course was a tad long (6.33 mi), and that cost me my sub-1:00. My watch was right on with the markers until the parking lot. I saw 6.2 come up with a time of 59:17, but I was just breaking away from the cars and nearing the chute. I seriously could have cried! Nonetheless, I finished with a time of 1:00:20, a 2:19 PR.

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SINCE WHEN DO I FINISH IN THE TOP 25% (25.4% to be exact…)

 

 

Finisher’s party: The Annapolis Running Classic is known for their great afterparty. The dozen oysters is super unique, although not to my liking. I did LOVE the unlimited beer. However, one beer at 8 AM after a hard run left me with a headache, and I had to drive home anyways. The band that was playing was fantastic and if I didn’t have somewhere to be I would have stayed all day to listen to them. On another note, I liked that the premiums were picked up AFTER the race – so that you had to finish to get your shirt (#sorrynotsorry). The 13.1 runners received a sweatshirt while the 10K runners got a t-shirt.

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Post-race thoughts: I was so high on emotions after this race. I earned a PR for the first time since April 2015. This wasn’t a PR by being my first race of a certain distance, I worked hard for it. I felt so much redemption after running a 1:02:39 at the Wildman Biathlon and coming in dead last in the 10K leg of the race.

Most importantly I felt like all of my hard work was finally worth it. I often put so much pressure on myself at races, and when I flop I hate myself and consider giving up. I went into this race with zero plans or expectations. Actually, the night before, I told my friend “The night before races I always get lost in dreaming that I’ll wake up and be fast.” While I may not be “fast”, this was the fast I have been waiting for and knew that I was capable of. And it felt awesome. 

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Verdict: This race had some flaws, but all in all, I really liked it and will be back. It’s a great fall race to either finish off a racing season with, or to do just for fun. A review of the race itself (not just my experience) will be up on BibRave.com soon.

Disclaimer: As a Annapolis Running Classic A-Team member, I received a complimentary entry into this race. As always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Marine Corps Marathon 2016: Race Recap

On Sunday October 30th, 2016, I ran my first marathon. A few days later my mind is still swirling with so many emotions from that day, and from the whole weekend. The experience of my first marathon, the Marine Corps marathon is something I’m not sure I can put into words, but I’ll sure try to. It’s going to be a long one, so buckle in for the ride.

Friday – Shakeout run + Expo day

After picking up my mom at BWI after a crazy week at work (as a first year SLP, they’re all crazy) I was excited to run on Friday. The taper crazies hit me earlier in the week and I was incredibly moody. I ran two super easy miles and almost fell on my face as I was turning into my complex. Running felt harder than it should have at first, but I felt great by the time I was done.

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By mid-morning we were headed to Alexandria, VA, where we were staying. After a quick lunch we took an Uber to the Expo, which was in National Harbor. While the area was beautiful and everything was new, I don’t get why the expo was there. It was a hassle to get there as it wasn’t accessible by the metro. Uber worked well on the way in, but took forever because of the traffic and the water taxi was a nice way back, but was a little pricey and then we had to wait over half an hour for the hotel shuttle to get back to our hotel.

Bib + shirt pick-up went smoothly. The Marines who gave me my bib eased my nerves by talking about Forrest Gump, my favorite. After picking out goodies at the Brooks store, my mom and I waited in line for almost an hour to check out. Remind me to get my jacket online next time. We spent another hour or so exploring the expo, stopping by the Balega/Fleet Feet, Nuun, Sweaty Bands, and BeeCause Charms booths. I had been saving my pennies, but my mom seriously spoiled me. I can’t thank her enough! I would have stayed and browsed longer, but the more crowded it got, the more overwhelmed I felt and I had to get out of there!

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Saturday: Pre-race prep

Saturday morning we slept in, then made our way on the metro to Clarendon. My mom’s birthday was a couple of weeks prior, and all she wanted was to eat at the Cheesecake Factory. I was happy to show her how to use the metro for the next day, so it worked out well. On the way back to Alexandria, we stopped in Rosslyn to explore the finish area. It was calming to see how the finisher’s area was laid out, and to see how far I would have to walk after running for 5+ hours. We also took some time to appreciate the Iwo Jima memorial, as it would be crowded the next day. My father was a Marine, and my cousin was in the Marines for 26 years – it was a great way to reflect and appreciate their service as the marathon grew closer. We were also privileged to see some Honor Flights of veterans at the memorial, which was a cool experience.

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We arrived back to the hotel to have Ben waiting for us. Another friend, Laura, joined us for some cards and take-out italian food before it was time to get ready and head to bed. I was in bed by 10 and surprisingly slept like a rock!

Sunday morning: Race day!

I woke up at 4:10, shortly before my alarm. Ben and I were out the door by 4:50. Since the metro wasn’t opening until 7, we had to take two differerent shuttles, then walk almost a mile to the runner’s village. It was already pretty warm, so I left my throwaways in the room, aside from some socks turned arm warmers. After about an hour, I dropped my bag at the UPS bag drop, and we made our way to the start. It was a beautiful sight as the sun came up and we could see Rosslyn in front of us, and the Washington Monument in the distance to our right. After a couple of porta-jon trips, a November Project bounce, and settling into our corral, we were ready to go.

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The morning wasn’t complete without a picture with a Marine!

Miles 1-3: Rosslyn – Elevation wise, these were the hardest miles of the race. It started all uphill. I really didn’t mind, as I planned to start slow and knew the hills would help with that. We ended up starting faster than I planned, and I felt bad when I kept telling Ben to slow down. I was feeling good, but I really didn’t want to regret it later on. My watch was already ahead by .2 miles at the 3 mile mark. (11:57, 12:03, 12:32).

Miles 4-14: Nice and steady – After leaving Rosslyn, we eventually got into a rhythm with 90:30 run/walk intervals. I could tell Ben pretty much hated me for holding him back, but he agreed to run with me and that was my race plan😛. These miles flew by and I really enjoyed myself. The Blue Mile at mile 10.5-11.5 was moving and emotional; it took all I had not to cry. Around mile 12, I got bored running around Haines Point and the heat started to get to me. Besideds a slight side stitch, I felt pretty good, aside from the mental struggle. (miles consistent between 11:12-11:50)

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Miles 15-18: Overheating – After returning to the National Mall, the sun was starting to shine and the heat started to take a toll on me. Not only that, but I could start feeling my right ITB starting to tighten up. I looked everywhere for my mom, called her, and she was nowhere to be found. My saving grace was getting a text from Jake saying he was at mile 18 (right before the bridge) and knowing that the NP cheer station was coming up. I ran so hard to Jake when I finally saw him, gave him my (really gross) hat, and tried to mentally prepare myself for “the bridge”. (12:47, 12:26, 12:37, 13:02, watch now .25 ahead).

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A “I’m smiling but I really hate this” face. Running or walking? Who knows.

Miles 18-20: THE BRIDGE – Oh, how “Beat the Bridge” earned a new meaning. I knew that runners had to “Beat the Bridge”, however pace wise I wasn’t worried about the time cut off so I didn’t really think about it. It was seriously the worst. No protection from the sun. No water. Going from thousands of spectators and bands, to nothing. As we ascended the bridge, my right knee locked up from the ITB tightness. I tried to stop and stretch, but I knew it wasn’t going to help. I had 8 miles left, was on pace to run around 5:15, and my ITB was going to ruin my day. These miles were so miserable, and I was so happy to be done with it just a bit after mile 20. (13:02, 12:43, 12:48).

Miles 21-26: The death march – While in terms of my heart and lungs I felt great but I was in so much physical pain from my knee that I mentally started to give up. I was frustrated, and kept telling Ben to leave me so I could just finish slowly, alone. There was no way I was giving up, but I knew I couldn’t speed back up. Running around the Pentagon the first time was so boring, and while coming into Crystal City to water, music, spectators, and people giving out ICE (I LOVE YOU), I just couldn’t get my mojo back. Eventually, I changed my stride a bit to compensate for my right leg, but it didn’t help much.  I did have one lady tell me that I was a good “rabbit” and she had been trying to catch me for 14 miles, so that did make me feel a little better. Heading back onto the highway for the last two miles made for a lonely “death march”. I was over heated, beginning to feel some dehydration creeping in, and really didn’t want to run on my hurting leg any more. Walk break selfies became a thing to make Ben let me walk more, and I stopped more often to try to stretch out my ITB. (Miles between 12:48-14:40). (Fun note: we ran alongside Jeff Galloway for a whole like, half a mile! We passed him around mile 8, but he caught up. Run/walk works!)

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“My watch says 26.2! But I haven’t gotten to the 26 mile marker yet! I can’t bend my knee!” smile

Mile 26-end: I did it! While I walked more than I wanted to in the last half mile or so, I felt renewed energy knowing I did it, and I persevered through the unexpected happenings of the day. I saw a great friend of mine before the last hill. After walking a few steps half-way up the hill, I saw my boyfriend and his goofy wave in the grandstands. Despite the pain I was in, I gave it my all and finished with a smile. I finished my first marathon! Official time: 5:32:17.

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This is getting pretty long, so I’ll save you the post-race details. In short, there were so many people that finding anyone was chaotic. Someone told me I couldn’t leave the beer tent with my drink, so I poured it in my Nathan bottle and went on my way. Almost 3 hours later I finally had a meal, dropped my mom off at the airport, and was home to watch the Walking Dead with Jake. (But actually, I napped while he watched)

Thank you so much for all of your support, despite my sporadic presence on here lately. I felt it so much! I’m not sure where to go from here, but I for sure know there are many more marathons in my future.

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Marine Corps Marathon: Initial Thoughts

On Sunday I ran my first marathon. How is it already over? While it felt like it took so long, it was over in the blink of an eye.

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I ran my heart out. I ran great for 15 miles. I ran the race I was training for. Then my ITB started hating me and my knee locked up. My evenly paced race turned into a run/walk/walk some more struggle. But I finished.

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In my frustration I find some solace that in terms of my heart and breathing, I felt fantastic. I could have kept moving faster if my knee didn’t feel so horrible. I don’t think I physically “hit the wall”, but mentally it got tough about half way over “the bridge” and when going around the pentagon again and again (or, what felt like it).

I’ll be sharing more soon in a recap, but thanks for everyone who supported me in this journey, and especially to my best friend for staying with me when I kept telling him to go on. He’s lucky enough that he’ll get a GIANT PR next time he runs a marathon!

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Race Recap: Baltimore Half Marathon 2016

When planning out my Fall race schedule with the Marine Corps Marathon in mind, I knew the Baltimore Running Festival was a must again this year. Despite a race that didn’t go as planned last year, I loved the course and I knew I had to be back. This is how it went down this year.

Expo: I ran to and from the expo from my boyfriends place, making it a quick and easy experience. Within 15 minutes I had my bib, shirt, and another shirt I purchased. With only a quick glance at the expo it seemed to be alright. I was sad that Sweaty Bands wasn’t back, but my goal was to save my $$ for the MCM expo anyways.

Friday night: I missed being with my best friend and her aunt like last year (and many other races), however I had a nice night in with Jake. Pasta with meatballs and some wine were consumed, movies were watched, “Flat Sam” was prepared, and I was in bed around 11:30.

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Goals: I kept it to myself, but aside from having fun, deep down I really wanted to beat my time from last year (2:24:47).

Pre-race: The race started at 9:45, just four blocks from Jake’s house (SO CONVENIENT). I planned to sleep until 8, however was up at 7 with super pre-race anxiety. I had my UCan and made my way to the race area around 8:45. I was happy to spend some time with my friend/coach before the November Project bounce. Seriously – a bounce was just what I needed to calm my nerves and get my pumped to run in my favorite city. I met up with another friend, Erin. I’m so glad I found her because being alone at such a big race made me anxious. We started together but split early on so I could do my run/walk intervals.

Miles 1-7: I started out doing 2:00/:30 intervals, which I did the entire race. I did a lot of weaving, and got stuck behind groups of people running together and at water stations, but nonetheless I felt great. The hills were long, but they didn’t kill me like they did last year. My paces averaged between 10:42 and 11:21, about what I typically run during the middle of my long runs. I reached Lake Montebello, which is a bit past half way and felt tired, but good.

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Miles 8-13.XX – Things started to go awry once I left the Lake around mile 8.5. Really, if you look at my splits I didn’t slow down all that much, but everything felt hard. The hills, while not horrible, never ended. The sun was super warm and I could tell I wasn’t hydrating enough. Getting to the November Project cheer station at mile 9.5 kept me going. BOY did I need it when I got there and it fueled me for a good mile. I really struggled in the last mile and a half – going over a bridge and coming back into  downtown. I walked much more than I would have liked in the last mile, including stopping and keeling over for 20 seconds in Camden Yards. I felt like I just couldn’t move any more. If it wasn’t for seeing/hearing Lauren when I started running again, I would have cried from defeat the rest of the way to the finish.

Thanks to Kevin G from NP for a couple of pictures!!
Thanks to Kevin G from NP for a couple of pictures!!

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Finish time: 2:25:11 (13.21 miles, 11:00 pace – time matches the BRF website exactly).

Last year: 2:24:47 (13.07 mi, 11:05 pace).

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Running/finishing alone = no photographer.

Did I meet my goal? No. Again. Not technically. But I sincerely gave it my best. There was a point around mile 11.5 when I just kept saying out loud “You CAN do it”. And while on the clock it doesn’t show it, I really did do better than last year. My avg. pace was better (I weaved so much during the first four miles) and I didn’t crash and die. Last year my first mile was 10:18 and my slowest was 12:11. This year my miles ranged from 10:42 to 11:44. I was much more consistent, and with a marathon in my reach, that’s super important to me.

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This medal, though. It opens to show the Baltimore Inner Harbor!

Will I do this race again?  Yes. Always. Every year until I can’t. I love this race. The spirit of the city reminds me why I love it here so much. I 100% intend to sign up for next year’s King Crab Challenge, which is the Frederick Running Festival 13.1, Baltimore 10 Miler, then Baltimore Running Festival 13.1 or 26.2.

Marine Corps Marathon Training: 10/1 – 10/16/16

I can’t believe that Marathon day is now less than two weeks away! After the Baltimore Half Marathon this weekend, I’m seriously in “taper town” now and am trying to make it through the next two weeks without doing any harm to myself.

As I mentioned in my last post, my training got derailed when I started my job. It threw my training off to the point where I eventually had the goal of simply being on my feet 4-5 days a week, and that’s how it’s been through the first half of this month.

October 2nd (Sunday): 15 miles at home in New Hampshire. It was supposed to be 18, but forgetting to bring UCan, a change in elevation and temps, and poor eating the day(s) before threw me off.

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October 3rd – 9th: 4 runs – 2 at easy effort, 1 at super easy effort, 1 long run for 35.11 miles. My long run was my second 20 miler and it went great. 3:54:07 for an average pace of 11:42 and 9:18 faster than my first 20 miler! I felt great after and was ready to start tapering.

October 10th – 16th: 3 runs – 1 at easy effort, 1 NP double workout (run + strength), 1 at race effort for 20.13 miles. I finished the week with the Baltimore Half Marathon, which I ran much harder than I should have, but with no regrets. I ended up taking Sunday off with some foot soreness that’s flared up over the past few days and being a little over-conscious.

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Jake and I also ran .05K race – a whopping 164 feet!

These next two weeks I’m looking forward to many easy runs, a “race” with friends (that I truly will take it easy during), and of course PR Day at November Project. No PR will be happening for me, but it will give me a mental boost going into race day!

How has your October running been faring? Are you gearing up, or tapering down for any races?

Marine Corps Marathon Training: July – September

While I’m officially now in my “taper” I want to make sure to look back, and share how my marathon training has gone since I disappeared from the blogosphere. It started out very strong, and faded as I became busier with work and my relationship, but I can honestly say I feel like I’m in a great place being just 20 days away from the big day!

How I trained/am training:  I have been working with a coach who made a training plan for me, and a lot has been based on my heart rate zones. This has been huge – I was working at the actual levels of effort that you’re “supposed to” run at. Additionally, to lower injury risk, I’ve been doing Galloway-style run-walk intervals, because my main goal is to make it to the start line injury free. I typically do 60:30 intervals, but now that the weather’s changing I’m playing around with them a bit.

July: In July I felt like the perfect little runner. I ran most of my prescribed runs and tried to stay within my heart rate zone, which I quickly learned would become a craft. In the last week I missed two runs after getting sick. Aside from that, I ran 5 days a week and had long runs of 9, 10, 12, 14, and 10 miles. I finished with 122.7 miles for the month – my first 100+ mile month!

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November Project remained in the plan, of course!

August: The month started off with becoming dehydrated after doing a long run after we had an Olympics viewing party at my place <– not a smart idea. It took me a good week to recover from that, I was so dehydrated I was truly sick. I went home to NH where I was supposed to do a race, but dropped out due to my uncle/relay partner being hit by a car while on his bike. Then I got sick again, and started my job. Running was all over the place, and I struggled with the heat and had some bad long runs. I had long runs of 11.5, 13, and 16  miles (and skipped one). I finished with 108.38 miles for the month – lower than July, which hurt my confidence, but I knew I would be fine.

September: September was more of August – struggling to get runs in between work, social outings, and time with Jake. My motivation wavered and mornings in bed won. Mentally, it became harder to run in the morning because I hated getting up with it was still dark out. Long runs were consistent and felt good again, and the only bad one was on a last minute trip back to NH. Long runs were of 18, 13.1 (race), 20, and 12 miles and I ended the month with 110 miles added to the bank – passing last year’s total!

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Parks Half Marathon – recap coming soon!

It’s crazy to think of how many miles I’ve logged since July compared to the rest of the year. For once, with the right training and paces, I’ve run injury-free *knock on wood* since May, which is absolutely amazing. I’ve already changed so much through this process, and get emotional about Marathon day all the time, especially during long runs.

How do you gauge success of training cycles? How you feel when running? How your race goes?

 

 

I’m Back! + 3.5 weeks out

Surprise, I’m back! Actually, it was a surprise I left the blog (and insta. and twitter. and basically facebook too). It wasn’t quite purposeful, but in some ways it was needed. Let’s run through a few things, Thinking out Loud style (thanks, Amanda!).

Running truly healthy for the first time since I started 2.5 years ago helped me build a greater relationship with running, and with myself. I was happy to keep my running to myself and my close friends.

I began growing a relationship with an amazing guy which took/takes up a lot of my “free time” and certainly makes it hard to get out of bed to run on a weekend morning. He now forces me out of bed on the weekends, but he always wins over technology.

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Over the summer I worked at a running store. 35-40 hours a week of “running”, on top of actual running. More running at home and on my phone? No thanks.

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Goodbye weekends at the store, hello weekends of long runs, races, and FUN.

I started a job that I worked so hard to get. I love it but it’s demanding and I work a lot outside of school. The last thing I wanted to do after planning and paperwork was to open my other computer to write more.

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Meeting day –> running with a friend –> trivia. So worth it.

I’ve been wanting to write again for a couple of weeks now. I’m ready to share my love of running again. I’ve missed being in contact with other runners who endless inspire me and educate me about running. The writers block faded, the desire to put my emotions into words struck again.


I can’t believe that the Marine Corps Marathon is just 24 days away! Some days I am nervous about whether or not my body will stay together until then, but mostly I just feel excited.

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I started having never run more than a half marathon, and this weekend I’ll run my second 20-miler.

I began training totally afraid of running 5 days a week, and did so strongly until my job (and social life) made that slightly more difficult.

I used to think that walking meant that I was weak, and not a real runner. I ran every run at the same effort. I’ve learned that strategic walking will help me run further and stay healthier – at least at this point in my life.

I never would have imagined how this marathon journey would change me – and I haven’t even run the race yet. While I wish that I would have shared it as it happened, I’m happy I still have this space to share some highs and lows!

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Since when do I smile this big during/after long runs? Oh that’s right, when I’m NOT hurt.

What is new with you in the past 3.5 months? Tell me one thing you’re looking forward to!