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Don't Panic

Things have been quiet around here... mostly because I'm coming off three months of what feels like non-stop travelling. I did the math and figured out I was only in DC three short weekends between the start of September 9th (Vegas) and November 9th (New Orleans). I have some VERY exciting news (for me, at least) but before that, I wanted to share some details about a race this weekend in the DC area that my teammate Kiersten passed along: It's the second annual "Don't Panic 5K" that benefits the Don't Panic Foundation. Kier does a great job of describing it:

Don't Panic supports firefighters and police officers injured outside the line of duty. Most recently they have supported individuals and their families who have suffered from both medical emergencies (such as stroke and heart attack) and traumatic accidents. It is a small local race with a great feel. The finish line party spills over to McGinty's Irish pub (firefighters, bagpipes, beer...what more can  you ask for??).

Sadly I can't make the race myself and a 5K is probably the last thing I want/need after a race-filled october, but if you're in the area and looking for a fast race that includes hot firefighters (i'm just assuming they're smokin'), beer and bagpipes... you might want to check it out. also: FYI, did you know firefighters and bagpipers actually are a thing? Thank you, Google.

Unfortunately online registration is closed but it's only $35 at the door for a good cause, so check it out:



hills and rain and bears, oh my!

saturday, by the numbers:

  • miles: 50
  • elevation gain: 5,638
  • minutes where it was NOT raining: 0
  • minutes where i was uncontrollably shivering on the bike: 180
  • hot chocolate purchased at the halfway mark: $1.50
  • rain jacket purchased at the halfway mark: $28.50
  • average age of person who would wear said jacket: 7
  • number of times i lost feeling in my hands: 3
  • # times i preferred killer climbs over (cold) descents: all the times
  • powerbar gels normally consumed over 3.5hr ride: 7
  • powerbar gels consumed due to climbing/scary, wet descents on sat: 4
  • close calls with crashing on wet pavement: 5
  • stupid crashes rolling into the parking lot curb: 1
  • minutes run off the bike: 15
  • minutes running where i was happy/warm: 15
  • bear cubs encountered: 1
  • momma bears encountered: 0 (KNOCK ON WOOD)



cherry blossoms in full force

not gonna lie, i had some trouble walking normally today. that half-marathon took a little more out of me than i had originally thought. so today, to flush out the legs, i took a little tour of the cherry blossoms, currently nearing peak bloom.

the only problem was that everyone else also had the same idea as me. man, was it crowded down around the monuments. to kick off the 70-min tour de dc, i biked from my apartment down 16th (what's up, Mr. President?!), down past the Washington Monument, rounded the tidal basin and then did a few laps of hains point to get away from the cars.

however, the usually car-less hains point was being used as a parking/staging area for the cherry blossoms. in fact, i passed a few cars who were driving while taking photos despite the throngs of people running, biking and roller-blading around the park.

i love the jefferson memorial. i also love how nicely all of the monuments reflect in the tidal basin when the sun is out and shining. gorgeous:

and to give you the full picture of what it's like biking around a cherry blossomed hains point, i tucked my camera in my tank top and made you a little recording. enjoy:



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shaking out the cobwebs

have my first race of the year tomorrow. and first half-marathon in almost three years. and, honestly, i am currently CLUELESS as to how tomorrow will pan out. so, trying to figure out how to plan pacing, i started looking back as some of my runs leading up to my first half-marathon in 2009. i spent basically the entire summer training, running almost every morning around central park before heading to my internship. the day of the race, i was ready, but it was also 75+ degrees when the race started at 7:00am. despite the blazing weather and a death-march down west side highway—seriously, they had people hosing off runners as they passed by—i managed to finish with a nice high 1:36. after the race, i ended up taking off over a month due to a strange achilles injury and then ran untrained in the Philly Distance Run in late September, setting a PR with a nice, slightly faster 1:36. i'm still not sure how i did that since i meant for the race to be a "training" run but the body surely is a strange thing sometimes.

so tomorrow, part of me would like to beat that previous time and come in under 1:35 but i'm questioning whether that's going to be possible. when i emailed my coach "the plan" last night, i emailed her my pipe dream version of a race plan: go out as if i was expected to sail in under 1:35 and hold on for dear life as long as i could. wisely, she emailed back what i know i should do, but not necessarily what i want to do.

it's like that scene in Prefontaine (or Without Limits... the films are kind of one-and-the-same sometimes) where Bowerman tells Pre,

"Saturday, start off easy for once in your life. 69s for the first mile, then drop to 67s for the second, then, depending on where you are and how you feel..."

and then Pre's first lap is a 64.

but i'm not Pre, and i doubt that many of you out there are either. however, since i haven't raced in so long (particularly a road race), it's going to be hard to not come out guns blazing. i thought i'd pull together a list of good reasons NOT to go out too fast:

Top Reasons to Start Out Slow

  • no one wants ugly/sweaty race photos
  • you won't be able to tweet splits in the first half
  • dr. andy baldwin from the bachelor will be running tomorrow ...and i want a rose.
  • you'll be too out of breath to yell at the other bloggers who pass you
  • no time to stuff your doggy bag and stock up on gels at the nutrition tables
  • to brag that you negative-split the race

and if none of those above cut it for you, you can always take the advice from Jeff Galloway from his Book on Running: remember that for

"every second per mile you go too fast in the first half of the race, you'll run 5-10 seconds slower at the end."


"A slightly slower pace will allow the legs to warm up before pushing into race effort"

and finally:

"Another reason to start slowly and to run your own steady-pace race during the first half is to keep cool... The faster your body temperature rises, the more blood flows to the skin to reduce heat, and the more you sweat... If you maintain an even (and reasonable) pace in the first half you'll actually speed up slightly during the second half: your body mechanics become more efficient as you run."

Top Tips for Negative Splits

  • line up in the right corral for you: i find that i either start too far back and end up playing dodge the racewalkers to get to a happy place, or i start too far forward and get caught up in the pack for a far-too-fast first mile. if you do happen to start in an off-pace corral, just remember to keep calm, carry on and run your pace regardless of the hubbub around you.
  • don't force the uphills. remember that uphill miles can be slower, and you can make up some time on the downhill (if the course has balanced elevation)
  • run the corners (most thorough post goes to DC Rainmaker with Racing the Line)
  • remember that for ever person who passes you in the first half of the race, you'll be passing 80%* of them back in the second half. [*very unofficial stat]
  • if you have a garmin or similar GPS watch, make the most of it. tomorrow, i plan on relying on my Garmin to do a big part of the heavy lifting for pace tracking. more below.
  • trust the process. the best part of having a coach is not having to second guess myself. now i just get to second guess trust her.

How I'm making the most of my Garmin

  • before the race, i'm going to set up garmin's virtual partner to "run" my goal pace for tomorrow's race—once set, i will not start checking this little guy until mile 7 or 8. since i'm negative splitting, he likely will be ahead of me for the majority of the race and it will be my job to pick him off right at the end.
  • for the first half, i've mapped out my goal time targets for each mile, each with a more conservative pace than expected (e.g. the one suggested by my coach). i've done some adjustment relative to the course profile and will be memorizing those target times like they're the numbers from LOST.
  • or, if i get ambitious this evening, i might also play around with the 910xt's automatic time alerts to vibrate when the target time elapses... and then i can compare that relative to where i am on the course.
  • once i hit the half-way mark, i'll move to a combination of hitting my desired splits, while also chasing down the virtual runner. my pace will speed up and i'll just have to hang on until the finish.
UPDATED to ADD: If you're just getting acquainted with the Garmin 910xt, this is by-far the best getting started/basics video out there:

Happy Racing! See you guys out there!

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running at sunset

thursday night's run was absolute perfection, and i couldn't be happier that i had my iphone with me to capture the beautiful sunset that was happening as i made the DC monument loop. starting off running through georgetown and then past the kennedy center...

and then spent a good 15-10 minutes warming up along the potomac. i rarely get off work right at 5:30 and rarely am together enough that i can run straight home from work. tonight the timing was right, the stars aligned and i couldn't be happier that i had this beautiful sunset to accompany what felt like a break-through workout.

 after running along the somewhat empty waterfront, i decided to go do my speed work around the nation's track... aka the national mall. it was a handful of intervals working through 90sec on, 90sec off. i probably pushed more than i should have, but only because these tempo-like intervals are my favorite (mostly because they remind me of 400s on the track).

seriously, could not get over the sky. i took the liberty of stopping a few times to make sure i got a decent photo. the photo below of the lincoln monument has to be one of my favorites—the sky really was this brilliant. didn't touch this with any filters or photoshop. stunning:

while everyday feels like a history lesson running in DC, the one drawback has to be the number of times i KNOW i've accidentally photobombed some tourist's photo. today, it was group pretending to do ridiculous things with the washington monument. sorry, guys...

a loop around the mall later, i made my way up past the white house and then, a few blocks later, made it all the way home. 6.5 miles done and done. even with the warm-up/cool-down and the easy "off" intervals, my average pace was around 7:40. in a good place and cannot wait to race! next on tap is the nation's half-marathon (sorry, guys, will never ever call it the DC rock-n-roll USA or however it's currently being branded). happy that i'll be very very familiar with the route by race time next month!

happy running! and may more gorgeous sunsets be in our futures!