Cherry Blossom 10 Miler 2016 Race Recap

IMG_0215

After having the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler on my race list for years, I was finally able to run it on Sunday with my friend and running buddy, Theodora!

This race is one of Washington’s most popular races with thousands entering the lottery each year. This year, thanks to Anne and the team at Cabot Cheese, I was able to run as part of their race team. Since they are one of the race’s sponsors they were able to provide Anne with 10 bibs for her friends, readers and fellow bloggers.  I had a wonderful time getting to meet these women and spend time with them on Saturday and Sunday.
Team Cabot

These ladies were so much fun! From left to right, Kathleen, Mary, Theodora, me, Sokphal, Rose, Turner, Mary, Anne, Sarah!

team cabot group pic

meb

After enjoying a delicious dinner with the rest of Team Cabot at the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler Pre-Race dinner, I woke up at 6 AM Sunday morning excited to run. Room service came to the rescue with pre-race breakfast of coffee and a banana which I paired with a KIND bar from our Cabot friends.

breakfast 10 miler

Sunday’s race weather wasn’t exactly ideal with wind chills of 25 degrees and 40 mile per hour wind gusts forcing the race organizers to remove all course signage. They sent an email to all participants on Saturday evening, warning them of the changes.

high wind modifications

source

Based on this note and the weather forecast, I decided to wear every layer of running gear I brought with my to Washington, DC resulting in an unusual, unfashionable look that luckily kept me warm.  When we arrived at the start area around 7 AM, just 30 minutes before the race start, the area was still eerily quiet due to the cancellation of all pre-race activities. You could tell that people were either hiding in coffee shops, their cars or decided not to run.  After using the bathroom, Theodora and I headed over to the corrals where we proceeded to hug each other for warmth and laugh about the conditions. The prior day it was sunny and 70 degrees while suddenly on race morning it was frigid. Don’t mind my tired eyes or our very odd race attire. Theodora was lucky enough to have fleece lined attire since her amazing friend, Meg, brought all the athleisure gear for spectating. Me, on the other hand, I opted to wear purple Pro Compression socks paired with my Lululemon crops as well as my new Brooks running jacket, the Drift Shell.

cold 10 miler

Right around 7:30 the corrals started to move forward and we prepared to run. After my half marathon disaster two weeks ago, I went into this race with two goals: treat it like a long run and have fun. It’d been more than two years since Theodora and I ran a race together so I figured I’d tag along with her for as long as possible since her pace goals were pretty close to my half marathon goal pace.  I don’t have any pictures from the actual race as I decided to keep my phone tucked safely inside my Spibelt after cracking the screen during the NYC half marathon.

The first mile was packed with people who were jogging or walking, forcing us to weave a bit before we found our groove in the middle of the pack. Theodora, who used to live in DC, served as my tour guide during the race pointing out bridges, monuments and other important sites. Most of the cherry blossoms were long gone after Friday’s rain and Sunday’s wind, but the few that remained were gorgeous!  I let Theodora set the pace for the race, since she hasn’t been training or running long distances during the frigid, Winter months. In fact, Sunday’s race was her first double digit race since the marathon!  The pace felt great the entire race, and was comfortable enough that I could make conversation without feeling winded or tired. I even had the opportunity to high five a few friends and readers who shouted hello as we passed each other. I couldn’t believe what a beautiful day it was, sans the wind chills and lack of appropriate clothing. Miles three through six were the most enjoyable, as we were warm and relaxed during these sunshine miles, before we were met with the horrid wind gusts of Hains Point.  Our only focus during the Hains Point miles were to keep moving and not let the wind deter us. It was definitely blustery and I felt every mile of the 40 mph gusts during this waterfront section in Potomac Park.

The paces below are from my GPS watch and include any water or walking breaks we took during the race.

cucb race resultsMile 1: 9:33 Mile 2: 9:13 Mile 3: 9:15 Mile 4: 8:57 Mile 5: 9:13 Mile 6: 9:27 Mile 7: 9:19 Mile 8: 9:36 Mile 9: 9:20 Mile 10: 9:16

post race 10 miler

Overall, I loved this race and would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a flat, fast, scenic course. Even with all the crazy weather, the race experience was wonderful and the volunteers and race organizers were responsive and supportive. They even had volunteers standing at the mile marker spots calling out the miles as you ran by them! If I lived in DC this would definitely be an annual race and I’m tempted to come back again next year, when the weather will hopefully be a little less breezy or I’ll just pack more clothes!

Thank you again to Anne and Cabot Cheese for making this race possible and to the spectators who cheered along the course, the volunteers who made it all possible and our friend Meg who cheered for us at the finish line!

Follow:

11 Weeks Later: Reflections on my 2016 NYC Half Marathon Training Plan

NYC-Half-training-plan-1024x1024

Ten weeks ago I shared my 2016 NYC Half Marathon Training plan with you guys. This training plan is the first one I’ve created solo, without the support of a formal coach. Instead, I spent hours reading prior recaps and training plans before developing one that worked for me. As you may recall, my weekly workout schedule/training plan included 6 workouts:

  • 3 runs (1 speed/1 long/1 mid-distance)
  • 2 strength training workouts
  • 1-2 yoga/pilates/barre classes

When creating this plan, I had a few goals:

  • Avoid injury.
  • Avoid running burnout.
  • Be able to continue cross training via ClassPass (<– Get $25 off your first month)

Now that I’m enjoying a few days of rest and relaxation during my week long taper before Sunday’s race, I thought it’d be a good idea to reflect on the past eleven weeks to see how the training plan worked out. Since I didn’t have the financial obligation to a running coach, was I able to hold up my end of the bargain? Heck yes! I’ve wanted this sub-2 hour half marathon for years and this time around I put 100% into training!

runhappy

  • 3 runs?
    • Each week, I ran three times, without fail. Even during the crazy snow, I bundled up and head to Prospect Park or to the treadmill at Blink. I took eight classes at Mile High Run Club which most weeks served as my speed training. As part of the NYRR coached running group, I ran in Prospect Park six nights completing 4 – 6 miles as part of our weekly tempo workout. The only area where I could have improved is the long run. Two of my runs were cut short due to wind or extreme cold, which means that instead of 8 miles I ran 6 and instead of 10 miles I ran 8. The strength that I felt during my last two 10 mile long runs, gave me the confidence I needed to realize that these two shorter runs didn’t ruin my training plan. I do think that I will build in a 12-13 mile run before Brooklyn and Flying Pig Half Marathon just to give myself an added boost of confidence.
  • 2 strength training workouts?
    • I took 11 strength training classes during this training cycle which surprised me as I felt like I was taking them more often. As there are only so many days in the week, I definitely reduced the number of strength workouts I was taking during my Brooklyn Body Burn challenge in February.  I want to really focus on getting these strength workouts in as I know that increasing my lean muscle mass will only help me get faster. The best way to ensure this is by reviewing my training plan each Sunday as I plan my ClassPass schedule. This extra rigor will help hold me accountable.
  • 1-2 yoga/pilates/barre classes?
    • I took 10 yoga classes, one barre class and five Brooklyn Body Burn (aka megaformer) classes during this training schedule. I believe that the consistent yoga practice really helped my body stay injury free and improve my mental state during the tough first six weeks of the year. I would like to add a few more barre/pilates classes to the schedule during the next round of training as my body definitely leans out when I’m taking barre or reformer classes on a consistent basis.
  • Sleep? 
    • Over the past ten weeks I’ve averaged 7 hours of sleep which seems to be the perfect amount for my body. As part of the taper this week, I’m trying to get 8 hours of sleep each night.
  • Food/nutrition?
    • This one is a bit of a question mark right now. For the past few weeks I’ve felt a bit off (nope, I’m not pregnant, trust me friends) and I can’t pinpoint the reason. I’ve started eliminating things this week to try and pinpoint the culprit. I think the biggest culprit is evening dessert (dang you Thin Mints) and my afternoon snack. I’m focusing on smaller, more frequent meals which will allow me to better stabilize my blood sugar and hunger. During the week,  I’m going to do my best to go back to enjoying a cup of tea after dinner versus actual dessert.

So there you have it. My training plan wasn’t perfect but I feel pretty dang strong and ready to run my heart out on Sunday!

*As I mentioned, I am not a personal trainer nor a certified run coach. Therefore, I am providing this information to you based on my experience and suggest that you consult and expert before starting any new training plan. 

Follow:

Running into Spring

running into Spring

I’m not sure what it is about the winter months. The cold, chilly air motivates me to run outside as I’d rather run in cold weather than hot weather any day of the week. I mean come on guys, how much easier is it to add crazy amounts of layers and stay warm than strip down during those sticky months of Summer. While my dear friend Meghan once ran a 5k race naked, there are only so many layers that I can take off when running.

My mantra these past few weeks has been “these winter miles will make me stronger.” Each time I lace up my shoes and head towards Prospect Park for a few hilly miles, I focus my thoughts on what I’m training for and my personal goals for the upcoming season.

As I look towards to the Spring and Fall racing season, I have a different goal for each race on my list.

NYRR NYC Half Marathon – March 20th: PR CITY. This is the race in which I want to finally overcome the mental wall and break 2 hours. The multiple Mile High Run Club, Barry’s Bootcamp and NYRR coached run sessions are all in hopes of helping me get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Once we return from Tahoe, I have four weeks to focus all my efforts on this goal.

Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run – April 3rd: Have fun! This race has been on my race list for years and thanks to my friend Anne, it’s finally going to happen. The goal is to enjoy the miles with Anne, Theodora and others while taking in the sights of Washington, DC in the Spring.

Flying Pig Half Marathon – May 1st: Feel powerful on the hills. As an employee of Procter & Gamble, a Cincinnati based company, this list has been on my radar for years as we are one of the top sponsors. My friend Amy, who you may remember from the RNR Brooklyn Half, and I are running this together and our goals are to have fun and feel strong on the hills. This course is known for great crowd support and tough hills miles 5.25 until mile 10.5.

NYRR AirBnB Brooklyn Half Marathon – May 21st: Enjoy a run party with some of my favorite runnersThis race has always been a tough one mentally as the final seven miles are flat and boring once you leave Prospect Park.  Instead of focusing on the downsides of this race, such as the course, I’m focusing on the fact that I know more than 25 other people running through the streets of Brooklyn and this race will be a party!

Once I’ve finished these Spring races, I will spend the Summer months focusing on short distances again, similar to last summer. As part of my Rock’n’Blog partnership (Lots more news to come about this partnership as well as awesome DISCOUNT CODES!!) with Rock’n’Roll I will also add a few of their races to my Summer and Fall schedule. Right now I have my eye on Chicago, Philadelphia, Montreal, Brooklyn and Savannah.

So there you have it! When I’m not running, I’ll be focused on staying healthy and strong through cross training.

Your turn: Have you run any of these races before or any of the Rock’n’Roll races I’m considering? What’s your favorite? 

Follow: