Tuesday, May 31, 2011

New Plans

Sometimes even the best laid plans get thrown out the window.

My plans to fit in a couple runs, get to the farmers market for the first time this season and just in general relax this weekend got completely replaced by my cousin's 2nd birthday party,

Abby's birthday
My cousin Abby on her birthday dressed as a princess.

a day at the beach,

At the beach
Beach day with Emily


Side note: Turns out if you used expired sunscreen and then sit on the beach for five hours, you will fry. Wish I would have known the sunscreen was no good before I put it on.

a night out in Annapolis, the New Kids on the Block/Backstreet Boys concert

NKOTBSB

Girls at the NKOTBSB concert
Randyl, me, Meghan and Emily at the concert

NKOTB
NKOTB

BSB
BSB

and Maryland lacrosse.

MD lax nattyship game
Me and Sarah


UMD lost in the National Championship game to UVA. :(

Today, I pretty much have no voice, I'm sunburned like crazy, my ears are still ringing and I'm exhausted. I'll count that all as signs of a great weekend.

I managed to fit in one short run on Sunday morning when it was in the high 80's with nearly 100% humidity. Those were probably some of the most miserable miles I've run lately. Plus wearing a sports bra over nasty sunburn is just not comfortable.

We're in for a hot one here in DC this week, so I'm mentally prepping myself for some really warm runs. I'm sad the long weekend went by so fast, but it's time to get back to work. I've got a few work trips coming up this month and have lots and lots of work-ahead I need to do.

Hope you all had a great holiday weekend too!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Long Weekend Plans

Good morning and happy day before a long weekend!

Other than my cousin's 2nd birthday party tonight, my weekend is pretty wide open and free. Since I've been majorly slacking on the workout front since the Frederick half earlier this month, I'm thinking that I should probably use some of my time this weekend to get in some good runs.

It's too easy to fall into a pattern of continuous non-running, so I need to try to break that this weekend.

Other things I'm looking forward to this weekend:

  • Getting to the farmer's market for the first time this season.
  • The Maryland vs. Duke lax semi-final tomorrow night. If Maryland wins tomorrow I'll be heading to the National Championship game on Monday. (fingers crossed)
  • Sleeping in. After last weekend at Fitbloggin' I'm exhausted and really need to "catch up" on sleep.

What do you have planned for the long weekend?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fitbloggin Recap Part Two

After an amazingly fun Friday at Fitbloggin', I trekked back up to Baltimore for the last day of fun on Saturday morning.

Katy and I presented during the first session. I expected to be a bundle of nerves getting up and speaking in front of everyone, but I actually wasn't nervous at all. Our presentation went really well and we got some great questions from the people who attended or session.

FitBloggin Day 3 Final (2 of 72)
Thanks to Fitbloggin' for the photo (Source)

I especially loved hearing from people afterward that they learned something new or walked away with something to try on their own sites. We wanted to share lots of action items and I think we succeeded on that front.

Katy and Jess with agenda
Me and Katy

If you missed the presentation, you can check out the slides or you can catch Katy and I presenting again via webinar. We have a tentative time set for next week, but I'll share more details as we hammer out the exact time.

I spent the rest of the morning chatting with other bloggers, answering follow up questions about the presentation and hanging out with guys in hazmat suits. The hazmat conference was taking place at the exact same time as Fitbloggin' so the hotel was swarming with firefighters and first responders.

Hazmat suits
Katy, me and the guys in hazmat suits

I had to leave Fitbloggin' right before lunch to get to my cousin's wedding, so I missed a lot of great afternoon sessions, but live blogs from the sessions are posted on the Fitbloggin' site, so if you're interested in a specific session definitely check there for a summary.

I was so sad to see Fitbloggin' come to an end. I loved every minute of my time in Baltimore hanging out with my blog friends and meeting new like-minded people.

Fitbloggin friends

FitBloggin Day 3 Final (66 of 72)

I can't recommend this conference enough. If you've never been, it's definitely worth putting on your to-do list for next year.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Fitbloggin' Recap Part One

Fitbloggin' was amazing from beginning to end. From the people I met and the new friends I made, to the things I learned and the things Katy and I hopefully taught others, it was a great conference.

My favorite thing about this year's Fitbloggin' was that Roni expanded it to two days. Friday was very fitness centric and Saturday was very much blog centric.

Friday:

I opted to not stay at a hotel in Baltimore because I figured driving back and forth from D.C. wouldn't be that bad, and would save me some cash. Wrong. I will not make this mistake again next year.

I had to wake up so insanely early on Friday to beat rush hour and get to Baltimore in time for the 5K.

It was totally worth it though.

FitBloggin Day 2 Final-3
Official Fitbloggin' photo

Running along the harbor early in the morning was gorgeous. Made me a little bit jealous that Chris gets to run there every day.

Early morning view of the harbor
Early morning view of the harbor

Running on the docks
Running past boats on the docks

Everyone was laughing and having fun and I eventually fell in with a small group of people going my pace: Luke, Jenny and Heidi.

The course was an out and back, but only Jenny was familiar with the area. If it weren't for her we totally would have gotten lost.

Jenny and Heidi
Jenny and Heidi running on the docks

My head and the water
What I got to look at while running

Jenny leading the way
Jenny leading the way

Jenny and I after the 5K
Me and Jenny at the end of the 5K

We made our way back to the hotel, grabbed some breakfast and got ready for a day full of fitness sessions.

The first session I attended was all about kettlebells.

Kettlebells
Photo courtesy of Jenny

It was fun watching the ladies demonstrate all the things you can do with kettlebells. The presenters looked so strong. It was a nice reminder that I need to get back on the strength training wagon.

I followed kettlebells up with a trampoline fitness class. Turns out jumping on a trampoline for a really long time will make your legs very tired and your calves really tight, especially if you've already run a 5K.

FitBloggin Day 2 Final-82
Me and Heidi (on the right, grey shirt, pink shorts) playing on trampolines. Official Fitbloggin' photo.

After lunch there were some great sessions on building community and working with brands, and the evening wrapped up with the Fitbloggin' social.

Heidi and I at the social
Heidi and I sipping Grey Goose Cosmos in our workout clothes. We were the most stylish ones at the party :)

The evening wrapped up with a fun trek across Baltimore to go to Frank and Nics with my new Fitbloggin' friends, Heidi, Luke and Matt. I have never been so happy to eat yummy bar food. I was starving after all the working out. After trying to convince everyone they should come see me and Katy present in the morning, I called it an night and headed back home.

The first day was absolutely exhausting, but a complete blast. I miss Fitbloggin' and all my bloggy buddies so much. Recaps of Saturday coming soon.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Wedding Pictures

I promise a full Fitbloggin' recap once I finish processing everything from this weekend. I learned a ton, I met a bunch of great people and I am absolutely exhausted today because this weekend was insane.

But first I wanted to share a few pictures from my cousin Laura's wedding this weekend.

Laura looked absolutely stunning, and it was a fun weekend spending time with family.

I can't take credit for most of these pictures. My Aunt Chris has a super nice camera and her pictures turned out much better than mine, so most of these are from her.

Laura and Nate program
Wedding program

Walking down the aisle
Laura walking down the aisle. Her dress was amazing.

In the church
Laura and Nate in the church

Exchanging rings
Exchanging rings

Outside the church
Laura and Nate after the ceremony

View of the Inner Harbor from the reception
The absolutely gorgeous view of the Inner Harbor from the reception. Who knew Baltimore could be so pretty?

Me and Mom at dinner
Me and mom at dinner. Ignore the big hair, it was humid.

Cake
The cake

Amy and Abby
My cousin Amy and her daughter Abby

Jess and Nikki at afterpart
Me and Nikki at the after party.

Fitbloggin' recap to come soon! I promise!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Branding: Not Just for the Big Dogs

Fitbloggin' Presentation 2011

Thanks to everyone who came to see Katy and I present this morning at Fitbloggin.

We had a blast teaching you all about the ins and outs of social media and building your brand.

For those of you who couldn't be here or if you just wanted to check out something from our slides, I'm including them here for you.

This page has resources from the presentation which are available for you to use and share -- all we ask is that you give us credit and link back to our blogs!
Example:

This information comes from the "Branding: Not Just for the Big Dogs" presentation at the 2011 Fitbloggin' Conference. More details can be found at http://katywidrick.com and http://jessruns.com.

Presentation



 

2011 Healthy Living Bloggers Survey


(powered by SurveyMonkey, presentation sponsor)



Video: 2011 Healthy Living Bloggers Survey






If you have questions about the presentation, please contact me!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Three Things Thursday, Fitbloggin' Edition

1. I can't believe Fitbloggin' officially starts tonight! It's been almost 9 months since Katy and I put in an application to speak about branding and social media and in two days we'll be presenting. We have an awesome presentation in the works, which I promise to share here for those not attending the conference in person. Katy and I present at 8 a.m. Saturday morning and I know our session will be live-blogged. I don't have any details on that yet, but if you're interested in following along, definitely check the Fitbloggin' site for a link.

2. I've been debating all week whether or not to head up to Baltimore tonight for the social mixer or to just wait and go up tomorrow morning. I'm not sure if I can handle rush hour traffic out of D.C. tonight, so right now I'm leaning toward waking up bright and early Friday to get to the conference in time for the 5K tomorrow.

3. I'm pretty excited that Fitbloggin' is a two-day conference this year. Friday is dedicated to learning all about fun workouts and I'm especially looking forward to trying the trampoline class. Saturday is dedicated to improving your blog and includes sessions on photography, design and of course social media. I think it's going to be a good mix of awesomeness this year and I can't wait to get there and meet everyone.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Difference Between Morning and Evening Runs

For the most part, I have always been a morning runner. I like getting up and getting my run out of the way first thing in the morning. At 4:30 a.m. there are no distractions or other commitments (except maybe sleep) to keep me from getting out the door.

Plus I love the sense of accomplishment that comes from doing a run before doing anything else.

At least, that's how I tend to feeling when I'm training for a race.

When I'm not training for anything, I tend to become an evening runner. Evening runs to me have always been more laid back and care free. Sometimes I go for a run, sometimes I don't go for a run, but there's no real pressure. There's no alarm blaring to wake me up at some ungodly hour.

If I feel like I have some extra energy to blow off when I get home from work then I'll throw on my running clothes and go.

If I'm too tired or have other things I need to take care of, then I don't mind skipping the run.

To me, morning runs are very regimented and serious. They're either speed work or tempo runs or long runs. Evening runs just tend to be fun runs. Sure sometimes I'll go fast, sometimes I'll go slow, but I never really have a driving need to push too hard in the evenings.

In the evenings it's more about getting out and appreciating the fact that I'm moving.

It's probably no surprise then that I'm slowly transferring back to evening runs for the time being. With no real serious training in the plan for a while, I'm going to enjoy the extra bit of sleep and the more laid back attitude I have about evening runs.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Not Guilty

This weekend I just wasn't in the mood to run, so I didn't.

I spent a lot of time relaxing, hanging out with my mom who was in town and spending some time with friends, and not once did I feel guilty about not running.

This mental break from such rigorous training has been good for me.

It's nice to wake up on Saturday morning and decided if I really want to spend my morning doing a long run or if I'd rather get some sleep or spend my time doing something else. It's nice to not feel like I absolutely have to get up and run and then feeling horribly guilty if I don't.

I've run once since the Frederick half, last Wednesday when I really felt in the mood to go, and the run ended up being fun. That's what I'm trying to get back, a little bit of the fun I used to have with running.

Right now I need running to be a fun thing that I do and not stressful thing that I do because I want to be able to focus my mental energy elsewhere.

Eventually I know I'll want to get back into hardcore training, but that time will come and I'm not going to rush it and I'm not going to feel guilty about not running.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Running Update and Free Coconut Water

I love Thursdays. They're my last day in the office for the week, so they always feel like mini Fridays. I still have to work on Fridays, I just get to do it from home and don't have to worry about a commute.

So needless to say, when Thursday mornings roll around, I always have a smile on my face! Plus it's Three Things Thursday and I have a few fun updates to share!

----

1. Even though I told myself I was going to take this whole week off from running to let myself relax and recover from the race, I was so antsy after work yesterday that I wanted to run and burn off steam. I figured since I actually felt like I wanted to run, I would just go with it. I ran a short three miler and took it nice and easy. My legs for the most part felt OK, although I noticed a bit of tightness cropping up at the end. It was hot and sunny out yesterday, but the humidity wasn't too bad. It felt good to be moving after sitting and working all day. And I was in such a good mood when I got back home that I left my music on and danced around the house I was cleaning. It's a good thing none of my roommates were home to see my sweet dance moves. I was rockin' out hardcore.

2. I'm looking forward to this weekend for many reasons. First, Megan moved from Florida up to Maryland earlier this week and we'd talked tentatively about planning a run for sometime this weekend, which I think would be a blast. And also a new frozen yogurt place opened up and I am super excited to try it out. My frozen yogurt obsession is a little bit out of control and now that the weather is nice, I pretty much want it eat it as my three meals for the day. The fact that a fro-yo place just opened near my office a little while ago is not helping matters either.

3. GNC reached out to me a few days ago about doing a review of their coconut water. I'm pretty excited to try it out, since coconut water seems to be all the rage these days. I'm curious to see if it really lives up to the hype. GNC is also offering a coupon to try their Phenom coconut water for free. All you have to do is comment on their blog post about it. Since the coupon expires May 15, I wanted to let you all know about it even though I haven't done the review yet. Sorry I can't give you advice on which flavor to pick, but you'll have to let me know what you decide if you use the coupon.

Wishing you all a very happy Thursday!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Burnt Out

Right now the thought of training for another race makes me cringe.

I have been training for some race or other pretty much non-stop for the last two years and I need a break.

I'm physically and mentally burnt out on following rigid training plans with certain workouts prescribed for certain days. It's gotten to the point where running stresses me out instead of destresses me.

I stress about fitting in long runs and hitting certain times during my speedwork. I stress that I'm not getting any faster and that maybe I'm not dedicated enough.

That's got to stop. Running is not supposed to be an added stress in my life.

I miss running for the sake of running because running was fun and I enjoyed it. Somewhere along the line, I got so focused on racing and setting PRs that I lost a bit of the fun element in running.

I can't remember the last time I went out for a run just because it was a beautiful day and I wanted to be outside or because I had some extra energy that I wanted to kill.

Every run for the past two years has been some form of speedwork, a long run or a dedicated easy day. Even the runs I did with friends were always scheduled to match up with my training plan.

I still have the Baltimore 10 Miler coming up in the middle of June. My mom and I registered a while back and my coworker and her friend are running it too. I'm treating this like just another fun long run and not like a race. It's going to be hot and it's a hilly course. I'm not looking to break any time records and I'm not going to follow a training plan. I'm just going to run.

This summer I'm going to back off the training and I'm going to run for fun. Hopefully that means weekend runs with my friends and a couple of runs during the week on my own. But I'm not going to stress about it. I'll run when I'm in the mood and if I miss a day or want to make plans on the weekend that don't involve long runs, I'm not going to have a panic attack about it.

I need to get back to a place where running is fun and not a source of stress in my life. I've got enough to stress about as it is, I don't need running adding to that.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Frederick Half Marathon: 2011 vs 2010

After Saturday's half marathon, it's safe to say the Frederick Running Festival is one of my favorite races. I mostly run big races, but I love the small, hometown feel of the Frederick half marathon.

I ran it last year.
2010 Frederick Half finish

I ran it this year.
2011 Frederick half finish

And I'm planning on running it again next year.

One of the things that keeps bringing me back to this race is just how well organized it is and how receptive the race organizers, Corrigan Sports, are to ideas from runners.

The race organizers made a lot of changes from this year to last year. Some of the changes were awesome, but some still need some more finessing.

Change: Dropped the full marathon and had a new half marathon course.
Last year: Parts of the half marathon course were great, but the last couple miles were nothing special. Running through a Wal-Mart parking lot was really weird and the last couple miles finished on rolling hills on a back road in the middle of nowhere.
This year: The new course kept the best parts (miles 4-8) and revamped the beginning and end to spend more time in the downtown and running through cute neighborhoods. This was a huge win in my book. I loved the new course and hope it doesn't change too much for next year.

Change: Moved the race from Sunday to Saturday, held remote packet pickup.
Last year: The traditional race expo was on Saturday, where runners picked up their timing chip, bib and race shirt.
This year: Packet pickup was held throughout the week leading up to the race at local running stores. I loved the idea in theory, but it was hard for me to find a time to make it to one of the stores. Next year, I would suggest having a few more running stores near the D.C. metro and extending the hours of pick up. I loved not having to make the hour drive to Frederick twice in one weekend though.

Change: Race start time changed.
Last year: The race started at 6:30 a.m. It was brutal to wake up so early but it helped beat the heat.
This year: The race started at 7:30 a.m. I enjoyed the extra bit of sleep, but I actually prefer earlier start times. I think a 7 a.m. start would have been a happy medium here.

Change: Picking up the race shirts after the race.
Last year: Shirt pick up was at the traditional expo.
This year: After the race, runners had to go into another building and wait in extremely long lines to get their race shirt. The building was jammed full of runners who had just finished racing. We were smelly, tired and wanted to be able to go stretch. I read that some people had to wait more than 30 minutes in line to get their shirts. This was the biggest fail of the day. The race organizers already know this and have promised to figure out a way to do it better next year, and they're open to suggestions on how to do it.

They say it's too much work to have people pick up their shirts when they get their bibs because it's really tough to cart the shirts from store to store during the week. I think a better solution would be to leave a certain amount of shirts in each size at each location early in the week. If runners don't get the size they registered for, they can swap at another location or at the race on the day off. At least giving some of the runners their shirts in advance would ease the flow of traffic on race day.

Another suggestion would be to move the shirt pick up outside. Have longer tables, more volunteers and maybe that would keep the line moving better.

Great Race Directors and Customer Service:
I have to give the race directors credit though, they are being extremely proactive in soliciting ideas on how to fix the things that didn't work as well this year. They also recognized there was a glitch in the sizing of the women's premiums and they're going to offer runners the opportunity to swap their race premiums for a different size at local running stores.

I'm hoping there's a location close to me. This was hands down one of the best race premiums I've received, but it is way, way too small. I'd love to get my hands on one that actually fits.

I really can't say enough good things about this race and how the race organizers are handling problems. They are receptive to ideas and know the race wasn't perfect for everyone. I don't think I've ever received such fabulous customer service from a race before, and that's what keeps bringing me back.

I can't recommend this race enough. If you're in the Maryland area or are looking for a fun low-key race to travel to, put this one on your calendar for next year.

Do you have any great ideas on how to make the shirt pickup process run more smoothly? I'll pass the best ideas on to the race directors.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Frederick Half Marathon Race Report

The Frederick Half Marathon was a blast this weekend. This race is always a good reminder of just how awesome small races are. The event is super low-key, well-organized and a ton of fun.

At the finish line
Tracy, me, Ashleigh and Zach

I did not have the world's best race. In fact, I had one leg problem after another for most of the race and my time suffered because of it. But I still had a blast. Celebrating all my friends' awesome races, made up for the fact that mine wasn't the best.

My morning started bright and early with the hour drive up to Frederick. My friend Zach lives approximately two minutes from me so we carpooled up. We got to the parking lot around 6:15 and only sat in traffic for a few minutes while the parking attendants directed us to a spot.

One thing I love about the Frederick half is just how close you can park to the start/finish area. We were parked literally right across the street from the start line. No parking miles away and taking a shuttle or having a really long walk like at some of the bigger races.

Another thing I love about this race is that there is hardly ever a huge line at the porta-potties until right before the start of the race.

One man line at porta-potties
One man line at the porta-potties

We met up with Tracy and Ashleigh before the race start and had a few minutes to kill before lining up at the start.

Pre-race

Because the race is so small, there aren't corrals. So the race director says, "Ready, set, GO!" and then everyone is off. Zach managed to wiggle his way up to the front because he was hoping to break 1:45.

Start line

Tracy, Ashleigh and I tried to move closer to the front, but there wasn't much room. We all crossed the start line together and then split up to do our own thing.

The race starts on a slight downhill, so it's easy to go out way too fast. I was trying to reign myself in and I think I did a pretty decent job of it. I felt really good in the first two miles. My legs felt loose and the hills didn't seem so bad.

Around mile three I started having issues with my left calf. It was cramping and throwing off my form and making my hip and IT band hurt. I took a short walk up one of the hills hoping to loosen my calf up. I was not looking forward to running ten more miles with my calf seizing.

The calf thing eventually calmed down and miles 4 and 5 were fairly uneventful. In mile five you run past a really pretty park with a lake. By this point I was hot from the sun beating on my face and was thinking it might be nice to take a quick dip. Instead I kept running and just dumped lots of water over my head at the aid stations.

I wish I could say once the calf cramp went away, I was in the clear, but I wasn't.

Around mile 7 or 8, I had serious thoughts about finding the nearest medical tent because out of no where I started experiencing these sharp, shooting pains in the outside of my left foot. Every time my left foot would hit the ground it felt like the knuckle on my pinky toe was cracking.

That probably should have been a sign that I should have stopped. But I'm stubborn (and an idiot) and thought if I took some time to walk that maybe that pain would ease up. When I started running again, the pain was still there but very dull.

So I walked for a little longer.

Then when I started running again the pain was gone.

I was so excited to finally hit mile 10 because I knew I could finish three more miles and mile 10 took us through some really cute neighborhoods. I was thinking I was over the leg issues and would be home free, and then at mile 10.5 my right calf cramped so bad I had to immediately stop and stretch.

The last three miles were a mix of walking and running and cursing my legs for all the cramps.

I almost laughed when I got the email from the timing company that had my splits. Through 8 miles I averaged 9:38. For the rest of the race I averaged 10:17. How's that for a positive split!

At the end of the race I fell in with the 2:10 pace group. The leaders were motivating and happy, and their good vibes cheered me up.

I ran with them for a little while and started tackling the massive hill at the end of the race. Near the middle of the hill, Zach was waiting for me and ran with me until I turned into the fairgrounds for the finish. Seeing a friendly face at the point in the race was so, so helpful.

Me near the finish

I crossed the finish line smiling, not really caring that my race kind of sucked. My official time was 2:09:29.

My legs started cramping as soon as I stopped running. I hobbled through the finishers area, grabbed a water and hustled back out to the course to watch for Tracy.

I only had to wait a few minutes before she was coming up the hill looking strong and still smiling. I ran with her for a bit and then sent her on the way to the finish.

In the end it was a pretty awesome day for everyone.

Zach finish
Zach set a new PR, finishing in 1:44 and change.

Ashleigh finish
Ashleigh also set a new PR finishing in 1:55

Photobucket
Tracy finished her first marathon in an impressive 2:27. (Update: This should actually say half marathon. Tracy kicked butt in her first half marathon this weekend. Sorry that I led you all to believe Tracy was secretly Kenyan or something.)

I wasn't ready for the hills and the sunshine and that got me in the end of the race. I'm bummed that my legs didn't cooperate and I struggled with cramps the whole race. That's never a problem I've had before, and I know I was well-hydrated, so it's kind of a mystery why it happened.

Finish line

Overall though, I love this race. I loved the new course, I had a great time with my friends and I'm sure I'll be back next year.

Jess and Ash

Friday, May 06, 2011

Frederick Half Marathon Goals

Race day is tomorrow!

I'm three parts super excited and one part kind of nervous, but this race is going to be fun.

There's a new course that supposedly cuts out a few of the hills from last year, although I think it still ends with a nasty uphill. Not nice race directors!

The weather is looking pretty good: mid-50s at the start creeping up to the mid-60s by the time I'll finish. The only thing I'm nervous about is the 75% humidity. But still so much nicer than last year, when it was i the mid-70's at the start.

And three of my friends are running this race too!

Do you all remember Tracy from when I ran the NFL 5K back in the fall?

Photobucket
Tracy's in the middle

Well this is her first half marathon! Tracy's an accountant and she wanted a challenge to keep her active during busy season, so she decided to train for a half marathon. I have no idea how she did it. I struggle to get my runs in working a normal workweek. She works a million hours during tax season and has no weekends. Seriously I am amazed at her dedication to training and so, so excited for her to race tomorrow.

I'm also excited to catch up with my speedster friend Zach from high school and my friend Ashleigh from UMD who's in grad school in Florida now. She'll probably be loving the cool temperatures on race morning after training in the Florida heat.

Photobucket
Me, Ashleigh, Jill and Brooke after the Annapolis 10 Miler last year

Aside from the very social aspect of this race, I'm looking forward to having a strong run.

I know my last couple of weeks of training haven't been the best because of my shoe drama, but that's all straightened out now, and while I missed a couple key runs, I still feel fairly confident going in to this race.

Goals:

Pretty Sure It Can Happen Goal: Finish with a faster time than I did in New Orleans, a race I went into slightly under trained. For folks keeping score at home, that would be break 2:10. Last year I finished this course in 2:12 so I definitely feel I can shave two minutes off my course time.

Middle Reach Goal: Set a new PR. My current PR is 2:07:45 set on a very flat course on a very hot day. We'll see how I do on a fairly hilly course in ideal weather, but I'm come tomorrow I'll have a new PR.

Big Reach Goal: Break two hours. This is obviously a huge reach goal for me this year and I'm just not sure tomorrow is the day this is going to happen. I'm not even really gunning for a sub-two hour finish until the fall, but if the cards fall into place tomorrow and I'm feeling good and can push it hard, then I'll do it.

I'm still debating if I want to line up with the two hour pace group at the start and see if I can hang with them for the race. I'd love someone to push me, but I'm nervous about the pace group going out to fast and then I'll crash and burn at the finish. For now, I think my plan is to just run my own race.

I can't wait for tomorrow to get here, but until then I'll be busy sucking down Gatorade and feasting on carbs!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

A Different Kind of Race Expo

The Frederick Half Marathon is experimenting with a different kind of system for packet pick up this year. Instead of the traditional race expo the day before the race, runners can pick up their bibs and time chips all week long at a bunch of different running stores throughout the D.C./Baltimore areas.

The race is also offering packet pickup the morning of the race to select group of people who signed up in advance. (I think the website site only about 200 people could do this option.)

What I Love About This Idea:
I love the fact that I don't have to drive all the way up to Frederick twice (once for the expo, once for the race) like I did last year. Frederick isn't really close to me, but it's not far enough away to warrant a hotel stay, so driving up and back twice last year made for a long weekend.

What I Didn't Love:
What I didn't love is that none of the early pick up locations were remotely convenient for me. The closest option was at least a half hour drive away and since packet pick up only ran from noon until 6 p.m. there was no real way for me to get to any of the stores on my lunch break or after work.

Lucky for me I have three great friends who all offered to pick up my packet at locations closer to them.

After the race runners will pick up their shirts and be able to browse through vendors like at a more traditional expo.

What the Race Could Do To Improve:
While I absolutely love the idea of remote packet pickup, I wish the time slots were a little bit wider. Rush hour traffic around here is a beast and having pick up only available until 6 p.m. doesn't really present a realistic chance for people to get their packets after work.

If the race does this again next year, I'd definitely recommend they keep packet pick up open until at least 8 p.m. That gives people a chance to leave their offices, sit in rush hour and make it to the running store before pick up is over.

I'm super grateful to all the people who offered to pick up my bib and time chip for me so I didn't have to stress out about leaving work early and trying to battle rush hour.

Have any races you've run done packet pick up in advance like this? Did it work for you?

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

I'm Falling Apart

Four days before the race and my knee is feeling achy, there's a giant blister on my pinky toe and all the foam rolling in the world doesn't seem to be loosening my IT bands.

Not cool legs. Not cool.

I have no idea what's going on with my knee. It started feeling achy on Sunday and yesterday I used one of my Arctic Ease wraps on it, which definitely seemed to help. It's not like it's a sharp pain or anything like that. It just feels extra tight. I'm hoping that with extra foam rolling and stretching this week that it will loosen in time for the race.

Or maybe it's phantom pains. That would be ideal.

As for the blister, I've tried to drain it more than once, but not much goop comes out and it's still pretty tender. I've still got a few more days to get the stupid thing to drain completely. I noticed on my run yesterday the blister bothered me for the first mile or so, but after that it wasn't so bad. So if nothing else, I at least know I can run on it.

I just wish all my random aches and pains would clear up in time for race day. I want to go into the race feeling strong, not battling a bunch of random pains.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Final Race Day Preparations

The Frederick Half Marathon is only five days away, which means I'm officially in taper mode and busy working out the last minute details in my race plans.

With several half marathons under my belt, my plan for the most part doesn't change too much from race to race:

  • I eat a PBJ on the way to the race
  • Use the porta-potties three times
  • Take a Gu once every four-ish miles
  • Carry my own Gatorade

The only thing that really changes is what I wear.

Everyone knows you're not supposed to try anything new on race day, so the past few weeks I've been experimenting with different outfits to nail down exactly what I want to wear on race morning.

I've narrowed down my choices considerably based on the weather and how different outfits performed on runs. I've got about two or three choices I'm still kicking around, and I plan to use all of them during taper runs this week to hopefully help me make a final decision.

At this point though, I'm pretty much ready to race. That nervous/excited pre-race feeling is kicking in and I'm ready for it to be race morning. Here's hoping this week flies by.