How to Find a Running Partner

Happy Wednesday gang! I am hoping for a snow day tomorrow for us Baltimoreans.  We all could use a fun day off to frolic in the snow! Weird thing is, it got up to 70 degrees today. Say whhhhaaaa?! I ran this morning in a tank top and shorts!

Can you spot my little troublemaker in the photo above? 🙂

But tomorrow with snow in the forecast, I’ll be back in my winter jacket and fleece tights!  Crazy!

In the spirit of February and all things relationships, I want to talk to you today about how to find a running partner.  Last week I talked about why you should have a running partner, which got you psyched, right? That’s all great, but finding a good running partner can be challenging.

You can find a running partner by:

#1- Joining a Running Club

Your local running store will likely have weekly training runs/meet-ups.  This is a perfect way to make friends and train with someone around your fitness level. I guarantee there is going to be at least one person running your pace, so do not be afraid of being left behind.

#2- Meetup.com

Meetup.com is an online website where you can join or create a group that has similar interests. You can easily search for many small, informal groups to run with. Remember there’s safety in numbers!

#3- The gym

This was kind of a ballsy move for me, but I randomly approached a stranger at the gym…who is now my running partner.  If you go to the gym often enough, you’ll quickly figure out the runners.  They are pretty much the ones killing it on the cardio equipment but barely lifting weights haha

#4- At a race

I actually became friends with someone I sat next to on the bus to the start line of a race.  We struck up conversation and became instant friends!  We do not train together, but it’s fun to check-in with each other through Facebook to see if we are running the same races. Last year we ran the same half marathon and ended up running next to each other for most of the miles.  We both pushed each other harder and it definitely paid off with fast times.  It was like having a cheerleader/coach right next to you!

Well that’s all for now folks!  Tomorrow I might be back with a picture of myself in winter running gear 😉

 

 

MCM Runners Club + Benefits of a Running Partner

Happy Friday Eve everyone! It’s February and I can’t believe us Marylanders have made it this far without one snow storm! I hope mother nature is just saving it all up for one massive blizzard 😛

This month, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I want to talk about a special relationship that no one talks about, a running partner! I have had a running partner for about 9 years and he has been critical to my training.  So each week in February, I will be writing a special post about running partnerships.

For this week’s post, let’s start out with the basics, the benefits of a running partner.  There are a TON of benefits I could put down but then this would become a novel and not a blog post 🙂 So here we go!

Reason #1: Accountability

I run outside year round.  From every weather condition from 85 degrees to 9 degrees, sunny to rain and wind, you’ll see me out there.  How do I do this consistently? Easy, my obligation to my running partner.  If someone is waiting outside for you in the freezing cold at zero dark-thirty, you are not hitting the snooze button. Period.

Reason #2: Support

It’s nice to have a cheerleader AND be a cheerleader for someone else.  When I’m going on my first 20 mile training run of the season, I know I can count on my running partner to say “you got this!” and make sure I am hydrated and fueled. Let’s face it, not everyone is going to be excited about your running (haters gonna hate) but you know your running partner is going to be there every step of the way (pun intended).

Reason #3: Fun!

Through the miles, you will see and do lots of funny things. My running partner and I constantly bring up the time we were at a race and the volunteers (cough paroles cough) were, well, I guess out doing community service?? There was a street that runners had to cross to get to the starting line and a volunteer was placed there to help assist with traffic.  There were these two tiny cones that apparently you had to cross between.  But with the large crowd, you couldn’t see them.  The volunteer would yell aggressively “I SAID CROSS BETWEEN THE CONES!!!” At some point we were almost certain he was going to take out his glock and start shooting in the air LOL!

Reason #4: Safety

This is probably one of the best reasons to have a running partner. As a young female, it can be nerve wrecking to be running in the dark and hear a wrestling in the bush or see a silhouette walking down the street.  It’s especially scary after this past summer when 3 women were brutally murdered while running. My running partner always walks me to my house after our run and checks on me during a run. I’m definitely thankful for my running partner!

Ok that wraps up the first post for our running partner series, but in other news…

I was accepted into the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) Runners Club!!!

I am BEYOND excited about it.  By completing 5 Marine Corps Marathons, I am now guaranteed annual access to early registration for the Marine Corps Marathon.  No more worrying about the lottery process!  I am still undecided about running this year’s race because I am holding out hope that I actually made it into the New York City Marathon.  Fingers crossed!

So do you have a running partner?  If so, what other benefits can you think of?

 

Enjoying the Journey

Those who know me, know that I listen to Joel Osteen every morning on my way to work.  I absolutely love his inspirational messages and it’s a great way to start the day.  Today the topic was enjoying the journey.  Joel told the story of a famous pro-football player who, after many years of hard work and dedication, finally won the super bowl. You would think at that moment he would have felt invincible.  I mean this is what the man has dreamed of for years! But in that moment, he kind of felt like, is this it? Yes, he was happy but he thought it would mean more.

Funny, because I can say the same about crossing the finish line at my races.  After I crossed the finish line at Marine Corps Marathon this fall, did I fall down dramatically on my knees, with my arms raised in the air in glory like in the movies? Not even close! Of course I was happy and extremely proud, but those feelings quickly pass. Actually, when I think back I cannot remember any particular highlights from my finishes.  What I do remember however, are those small moments during my training…the journey. It’s those moments that bring fulfillment. A few examples of this would be:

  • Stopping in the Nature Center on NCR Trail in the middle of a long run. Why was this memorable?  Well lets just say this guide came out of nowhere and held a looonngg snake in front of my face asking if I wanted to hold it.  I quickly bolted out and had everyone roaring with laughter.  I did stick around for a minute and the guide and I got into an interesting conversation about snakes in the local area. It was definitely a funny and enlightening experience!
  • Appreciating mother nature during a run.  I very rarely run on a treadmill. I love taking in the beauty of mother nature; running in freshly fallen snow, hopping in large rain puddles, seeing the beautiful stars on a clear (and early) morning, seeing all the baby foxes and deer.
  • Small accomplishments within a run such as finally running up a monster hill or hitting a certain pace and remembering how strong I felt.
  • The social aspect.  It means so much to me when my boyfriend comes and spectates my races. I remember how I felt when I would see him. Or when random friendships are created from hanging out before the start of a race when everyone is on the shuttle bus trying to wake up. Or when talking and laughing with my running partner during a cold and dark run. Or Coaching someone and seeing their progress.

Friends, there will always be “the next thing.”  And there’s nothing wrong with setting goals and accomplishing them.  But just don’t forget to appreciate everything in-between.

I saw the quote below at a conference I attended this past fall.

Quote

“I am not any good at (blank), yet.” By adding the simple word “yet”, you are creating the journey. You are setting forth a goal and then writing out the steps to get there.  The word “yet” adds that excitement and element of a challenge!

So, what are you not any good at, yet? 😉

Goals for 2017

Hi guys!  Hope everyone had a wonderful New Year!  I like to spend New Years Eve partying it up….in sweatpants, drinking champagne, stuffing myself silly with pasta, and in bed by 9 pm. #winning

But once January 2nd rolls around, I get antsy. What do I want to accomplish this year? Did I accomplish what I wanted to last year?!  I NEED ANSWERS PEOPLE! 😉

So today I sat down to come up with a fun yet challenging goal list for 2017.

#1- Break 1 hour and 9 minutes at the Parkway Classic Ten Miler.

I ran this race in 2010 and scored a personal record (PR) in a huge way. I ran ten miles in 1:09:48, averaging 6:59 min/mile pace. For the ten mile distance, the fastest I have ever run was 1:13:00. How the crap did I run three minutes faster?! I want to get back to that. I know I can! I’ll definitely be posting my training over the next few months.

#2- Continue to grow the blog.

For yeearrrsss I really wanted to start a blog. I wanted to share my passion for running with the world! So I am glad that in 2016 I finally committed to starting a blog.  But in 2017, I would really like to ramp it up with fun challenges and content. Even learn some cool blogging tools! Yes, I am an old millennial LOL

#3- Take a cooking class.

My boyfriend and I really enjoy cooking. I enjoy the eating part just as much if not more 😉 We wanted to go in 2016, but time slipped away so this year I am committing to taking a class. There are two cooking schools here in Baltimore, Schola and Baltimore Chef Shop. Heard good things about both, so really it’ll just come down to our schedule and the cuisine being cooked.

#4- Read at least 7 books.

Every year I participate in the Good Reads Reading Challenge. Last year I read 6 books. I know what you’re thinking….slow down scholar! Well I am going to knock your socks off when I read SEVEN whole books! For my first book of 2017, I have chosen to read The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan. Yeah, how about that for some light reading? LOL!

#5- Take a fashion illustration class.

You guys…..I have no creative outlets.  There I said it.  God help me when my children come to me asking for help with their diorama. I lack serious artistic abilities.  I am pretty sure I got straight C’s in Art all throughout school. Well now is the time to redeem myself! I seriously LOVE fashion and Project Runway. Fashion illustration is definitely something I am drawn too (no pun intended).  I’ll be sure to post my artwork to the blog.  My only request is that you laugh to yourself 🙂

Well that’s it folks!  What are your goals for 2017? Please share in the comments section.

 

 

Running While Sick- To Do or Not To Do

Disclaimer: If you are ill, please consult your doctor for medical advice. I am not a doctor and I am writing from my own experience and research.

Runners are creatures of habit. We LOVE routines. This mostly works in our favor (determination, consistency, etc.), but there are situations when it can be our worst enemy. Running while sick can fall into that category.

Yesterday I had a very minor surgery where the doctors removed some cysts from my head. Fun times right? Like any seasoned runner, the first thing I asked the doctor post-OP was if I could run the following day. I imagine the doctor doesn’t hear that question very often.  He advised me to see how I felt and go from there.  Sounds reasonable right? But how do you determine the difference between an excuse or a legit concern?

Women’s Running posted an article in 2013 with a handy dandy flow chart that makes it easy to figure out if you should run or not.

sick_flowchart

Link to the full article here: http://womensrunning.competitor.com/2013/06/training-tips/too-sick-to-run_13620#wTVZ04cS2ujIKeQD.97

I always ask my clients this, “does the illness pass the neck test?” If you are congested and that’s really it, go for a run!  It can actually help clear you out and temporarily alleviate the discomfort. On the other hand, if you have been vomiting, have stomach issues, and/or muscle fatigue, skip it. Running while experiencing these issues could only make matters worse.

You might be thinking, “well there goes my training and I won’t meet my goal!” Well not so fast.  There are other ways to train for running without actually running. Yeah…I am about to blow your mind people. Training encompasses so much than the physical aspect.  There is mental training, nutrition, education, fashion…okay I threw that last one in there 😛

Here are some other “cross-training” ideas:

-Read an inspirational book. Two of my all time favorites are Born to Run by Christopher McDougall and Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness by Scott Jurek.

-Watch a movie about sports.  I have to say, Rocky gets me every time.

-Research new healthy recipes to try out. Don’t worry I already did the heavy lifting for you with Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/hollym604/healthy-food/

-Treat yourself to some new gear via online shopping.  Don’t spread your illness at the store 😛

 

Take the rest day and give your body a chance to do its job. You’ll be back at it soon enough.

Happy running my friends!

Marine Corps Marathon Race Recap

On October 30th, I completed the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.  My 10th marathon! Because why stop at 9? 😉 Marine Corps Marathon is one of my FAVORITE races.  You cannot beat the level of patriotism and support at this race.  I went into this race with a goal of finishing, no time goal.  I signed up for the race spontaneously, after I received an email from the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) stating that RRCA certified coaches can sign up for $40. I couldn’t even spell “no” to that offer! So I signed up with about 2 months to train, about half the time needed to properly train. But my base mileage had been pretty consistent for a while.

On race morning, I drove to D.C. (about a 30 minute drive) and parked at the Crystal City parking garage (for free!) at around 5 a.m.  Yes, it is an early start but I will always tell a fellow runner to get to the start area early to avoid long port-a-potty and security lines.  The last thing you want is to be rushing around panicking before you run a marathon. So I got through all the lines early and gave myself plenty of time to line up properly at the starting line. A lot of people do not realize that the start area is a good walk away from the actual start line. Maybe about a half a mile away? The race starts at 8 a.m. but I left the start area around 7:10 so I can see the fly over, which is just prior to the start.  I was able to catch some of the fly over on video.  So cool to watch it again even after the race!

And here is my happy face after that fly over!  Mission focused!

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Yes I am wearing a crappy old hoodie so I can stay warm haha. Another tip for Marine Corps Marathon, wear a hat or sunglasses!  The course does not have a lot of shade so the sun will definitely be in your eyes at several points on the course.

When 8 a.m. came, we were off!  Miles 1 through 3 are incredibly congested and it will be hard to run your planned pace.  Be flexible and do not panic.  You can definitely make up the time later in the race. Mile 4 is when you can really start hitting your pace even though the course is packed. Miles 1 through 4 are through Rosslyn and heading into Georgetown. Both neighborhoods are filled with spectators and you will definitely see some crazy costumes and funny signs!  My favorite signs were “This is a sign (but what does it mean?!)” and “Pain is temporary. The Internet is forever.”

Miles 5 through 9 are smooth sailing. All the spectators are still lining the streets and the energy is high. At mile 10 though, you are entering Hains Point. I have to be honest guys, it gets lonely here until about mile 13.  There are not a lot of spectators and the scenery leaves something to be desired. One special aspect of Hains Point is the blue mile.  This year it was between miles 10.5 and 11.5. Every few feet there was a sign with the picture of a marine who was killed in action.  It is a VERY emotional part of the course and allows you to silently thank those who have served our country.

Don’t worry though, miles 13 through 18 are back to the cheering crowds and help you get your mind back in the race.  But at mile 18, you will start your journey to “the bridge”. Yes, everyone just calls it “the bridge”. It’s just a long, boring bridge until mile 20.  At mile 18 someone was giving out watermelon Jolly Ranchers. I grabbed one and prayed that I’d make it over that bridge! My pace started to drop a bit here, but I expected that due to my tight training schedule. I made it to mile 20, which at that point you run around the Pentagon parking lot and into Crystal City. There is a TON of spectators lined up with food for the runners.  I have seen animal crackers, oranges, soda, donuts, Swedish Fish.  You name it and it’s probably there. I have to admit, Crystal City is always rough for me.  I hit the wall and as much as I want to get into the spirit, I am focused on just putting one foot in front of the other.

You leave Crystal City at about mile 24 and it’s gut check time! Again, it’s pretty lonely until about mile 25.5. At this point in the race, I have not stopped to walk.  For me, if I can run an entire marathon and stay mentally strong, I consider that a good day. I crossed the finish line in 4 hours and 12 minutes.  My slowest marathon time yet. But you know what?  I am not any less proud of the effort I put forward that day.

If you are looking for a well supported race course, with a ton of camaraderie and patriotism, this marathon is it. I recommend this race to everyone as a must do! I am so thankful to all our men and women who serve our country. A country where I am free to run and achieve my goals!

Oorah!

 

 

 

Army Ten Miler Recap

Disclaimer: I was not compensated by any of the companies mentioned in this post.  These are my opinions and mine alone. 

Last Sunday, October 9th, I had the great honor of running the 32nd Army Ten Miler in Washington D.C.  If you live in the area, heck even if you don’t, you NEED to race this race.

The day before the race, my running buddy and I headed to the expo at the DC Armory for packet pickup.  I love the fact that it’s at the DC Armory because there is plenty of free parking and it’s located just outside of D.C., making getting in and out of the city a cinch.

TIP: Go to the expo about 2 or 3 hours prior to closing.  Race gear (shirts, hoodies, mugs, etc.) will be steeply discounted.  I bought a hoodie, a tech shirt, and Tervis travel mug all for $40.  Score!

Army_Ten_Gear

 

After the expo, my running buddy and I drove to our hotel, the Hyatt in Rosslyn, to get settled in before dinner. Any time we are running a big city race, we like to stay in a hotel the night before.  It just makes race morning logistics a breeze instead of worrying waking up wwaayyyy too early and hitting gnarly traffic. And check out this blow dryer that was in the hotel room.  Way to step it up Hyatt!

Blow_dryer

After unpacking, we were ready for dinner. Panera Bread is always a safe bet.  Not too heavy but still filling.  For me personally, I do not find it necessary to carb-load for a ten miler. I stick with a broth-based soup and sandwich. Another perk to eating Panera the night before a race?  You can get your morning bagel too!

So fun story, the forecast for race morning was sunny with heavy winds and temps around 70 degrees F. We woke up at 5:30 am to 50 degrees F and rain.  Whhattt?! So what did I wear for the race? A tank top and shorts of course.

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Luckily, we always bring “throw-aways” (aka old, stained hoodies) to our races. We swear by it!  Why waste energy shivering before the race actually starts? Luckily by race start at 8 am, the sun was out and it was starting to warm up.  I absolutely love the start of this race.  Normally the Golden Knights Parachute Team will jump with the American flag and land dead center on target, but this year because of the winds they were unable to do so. Total bummer! But at least there was the flyover of four UH-60 Army helicopters to kick off the race.  I did catch a picture of one right before the start.

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My game plan going into this race was just to have fun, but after the first mile I was feeling really good. Plus, I knew my boyfriend was waiting for me at mile 6. So that was definitely another reason I was feeling quite speedy!

armytenresult

After finishing and showering, my boyfriend and I headed to Union Market for a post-race treat. A napoleon and a latte. A nice way to celebrate another successful race. 🙂

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A quick summary of the Army Ten Miler

Pros:

  • Well-organized
  • Great race gear
  • Tons of military pride
  • Fast, flat course

Cons: This is kind of a given since it is D.C., traffic trying to leave the race can be a nightmare. Roads are closed and it is very congested.

See you next year Army Ten Miler!!