Tag Archives: running

Rock n Roll USA Half Marathon – Race Recap

Another half marathon is in the books. Looking back on it, I had fun. But honestly, it was the first race that ever made me question why I run. I was pretty much miserable the whole race. Everything that could be off, was off – my head, my legs, my stomach. It was a text book bad run.

All I have to say, is thank goodness for Sam. She kept me going through so many times moments when I was struggling. She was a rock star and powered through the whole 13.1 miles – even the crazy rolling hills.

But bad run (on my part) aside, it really was an awesome race. I was skeptical. Rock n Roll is notorious for overselling races and really just being in the business to make money. I knew it would be crowded. I knew the Metro would be a mess. I knew we would need to be patient.

Rock n Roll ended up pulling it out. The crowd control was great. The corrals allowed for a decent, wave start.  Yes, there were lots and lots of runners. But I think it was a very well put together race, especially for being ran completely in DC. That meant lots of closed roads, lots of police and volunteers, and lots of logistics and planning.

Our day started nice and early. In order to get to the Metro right when it opened at 6, we left my house at 5:30. The Metro ride was long since we got on at the first stop of the Blue line. By the time we got to the Stadium Armory stop, the Metro trains were packed to the last inch with runners.

As soon as we got off the Metro, we got in line for the porta potties. There was a lot of waiting that morning. While a wave start is good for crowd control, it also means we didn’t cross the Start line until 8:30.

My race was bad but everything else was great – the course, the support, the volunteers. There was never a time that there weren’t people cheering us on and there was always something interesting to look at. I have never run a race with such an exciting course. I am a total nerd for DC so it was so fun to run through neighborhoods and see lots of awesome architecture up close.

There were lots of water stations, plenty of volunteers, and every runner I encountered was super nice. The best part of the race was running through the tunnels and neighborhoods. There were SO many people cheering, giving out high fives, pouring beer for the runners, and blaring music. At some moments it felt like we were running a legit race, like it was the New York Marathon or something.

I wish my run matched the atmosphere. That would have made it the perfect race. But some runs are bad and some are good. I snagged a PR, ran with my best friend, and at the end of the day, I still love running.

The finisher’s chute was pretty amazing. They had LOTS of food for the runners and the band, Switchfoot, was rocking and rolling. I was majorly dehydrated (it was an unseasonably warm day for March, almost too warm for a spring run), and we were both starving, so we made our way back to Springfield and immediately drove to Chipotle.  It was the perfect ending to our morning of running.

After the endorphins set in, all I could think about was the next race. Next up is the George Washington Parkway Classic in April and the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon in May. All of these races are getting me prepared for the big daddy of em all – Marine Corps Marathon in October. This race showed me that I have a long way to go. Fortunately, I have a few months to train and lots of races in between.

I will definitely run Rock n Roll USA again. Hopefully, Rock n Roll Virginia Beach in September will be just as organized and fun.

Lucky Number Seven

Rock n Roll USA complete. It was a great race made even better because I ran it with my best friend. Recap to come tomorrow.

Oh yeah, Bill had fun too!

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Ready to Rock

Rock n Roll DC, here I come! 🙂

Oh, and Bill is adorable…that is all.

 

14 Miles and a Wedding Dress

I took a mini blogging hiatus. The past few days have been busy with leaving my old job and getting ready for my new one – lots going on!

I had Friday off as a little break between jobs. So mom and I made plans for lunch and shopping in Old Town. After doing some damage at the Gap Outlet, we went for a light lunch and coffee at a cute little place called Bread & Chocolate.

As usual, our conversation centered around wedding talk. Mom mentioned the wedding dress store down the street. I told her it was close and we could walk there if we wanted to. After we finished our lunch, we walk about three blocks north to Ellie’s Bridal. We figured that we could browse around at the very least and just look.

Since we didn’t have an appointment, I didn’t even think I would be able to try on dresses. When we walked in there were no other customers. A very nice sales lady named Tamera helped us right away. She told us I could try on dresses if I wanted and asked what I was looking for.

I had a vague idea of what I liked in my head, but didn’t want to out right eliminate anything because you never know. Dresses look completely different on the hanger than they do on your body, so we pulled lots of dresses of all different types.

After about 10 minutes of browsing, and lots of dresses waiting for me in the dressing room, I decided to start changing. I tried on one dress. I can’t even tell you what it looked like. I came out of the room and said, eh then moved onto the next one. The next two I didn’t even put on all the way. I just looked at them off of the hanger and said, eh.

Then I pulled on the next dress. I stepped out of the dressing room and Tamera helped with the back of the dress. As she was fixing the back, mom started to get a look on her face. When the dress was fully on, I stepped on the stage and looked in the mirror. I looked at it from all angles. As I kept looking, I started smiling. Mom said, “it this it?” I said, “I think this is it.” The dress had everything  I wanted and more. There was nothing about the dress that was lacking. It was perfect.

Just like that, I found my wedding dress. It only took two dresses and a few minutes of browsing and I found it. Mom started to cry and I got super red. It was so weird to try on a dress and find “the one.”

I didn’t even plan to start looking at dresses until the end of the month. Truthfully, it was the part of the wedding planning that I was least looking forward to. But this dress was just too perfect to pass up.

So now I have my wedding dress – one more big piece of the planning is complete! I can’t wait for it to come in so we can get to altering!

If that wasn’t enough, I went on a 14 mile run this morning. Nothing motivates you to run your furthest distance ever than buying your wedding dress! Whenever I started to feel a little unmotivated I just started thinking about our wedding and the dress and the fact that I wanted to look like a rock star on our day and I just kept running.

14 miles was only one mile further than a half marathon (ignoring that silly .1) but I was proud of myself for running my furthest distance ever. Now I am even more motivated to increase my distance. After my next half in two weeks, I’m going for a new record – 16 miles!

Marcus picked me up after my run and we went to Moe’s for lunch. Nothing like stuffing your face with cheesy, spicy nachos after 14 miles. It was awesome!

Another awesome thing? I saw my eagle friend, Martha. She was in her perch, overlooking the Potomac, but close enough to her nest to watch for any trouble.

What an amazing few days! Now I just hope that the new job starts off just as great! 🙂

13.1…That’s Really Far

I have had a few readers leave comments asking me how I train for half marathons. So I decided to write a post about it in case more people out there were interested. Let me just preface this by saying – Running is a hobby. I am in no way informed enough to be an expert on the topic. I am just here to pass along some info and tips from my own personal experience. 

For those of you out there who are beginners…I mean straight up, “I can’t even run a mile without stopping,” beginners…I have been there. It is possible to go from no miles to 13.1 miles. My first piece of advice is to not look at the big picture. Tackle the miles a little at a time. The best way to slowly build up your mileage base is with a beginners plan.

I think Jeff Galloway has an awesome approachable method that can turn any non-runner into a racer. His plan slowly builds you up from run/walking a few miles to completing 13.1 miles.

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Galloway’s plan makes it so that you are only running three days a week, so your life is taken over by training. The plan is long but it allows you to slowly increase your miles without overdoing it. I am a big advocate of this training plan for beginning runners.

If you are looking for a shorter plan with actual mileage on weekdays, here is a good one from Marathon Rookie.

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This plan is shorter so it includes one more day of running, and it builds up the mileage a little quicker. The second plan may be good for someone who already has a bit of a running base and is looking for a way to build it up safely and effectively.

I think the key to training for a half marathon is consistency. You cannot expect to run a good race without proper training, so I like the idea of having some sort of plan. It helps keep you accountable and gives you small goals every week.

Personally, I am also a big fan of cross training on non running days. I get bored of doing nothing but running, so I also like taking a spin class or going to body pump. This helps break up the monotony of training. Here is a plan from Shape that allows for two cross training days, three running days, and two rest days.

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Rest days are extremely important when training for a race. You are putting your body through something it’s never experienced before. So taking the time to heal and rest will improve you as a runner and prevent injuries.

Along with having a plan, it is important to learn how your body responds to longer runs so when race day comes you are prepared. This includes proper fuel, plenty of hydration, and clothing. Your training runs are when you experiment. Can you eat before a run? Do you warm up quickly? Do you need a long time to stretch before running?

These are the things you find out about yourself with each training run. So when race day rolls around, you are wearing the right clothes, your stomach is relaxed, and your legs are ready.

If I could offer one overall piece of advice about training for a half marathon, it would be to create a plan (or find one online) and stick to it. If you put in the work, your legs and mind will know what to do when it’s time to race.

And at the end of the day…have fun! Running is an amazing thing. Racing is even better. So take in the experience and really enjoy it. 

I hope this helps! If there is anything else you want answered or clarification, let me know.  I’m no Jeff Galloway but I can try and find an answer. Have a great weekend!

Fantastic February

February has turned out to be quite a month for me. From getting “Freshly Pressed,” and as a result gaining lots of new readers, to running a 14k, to getting a new job…it’s been an amazing few weeks, that’s for sure.

Thanks for all the love for the new job. The whole recruitment process went really quickly. I had a phone interview, got called back that same day for an in person interview, commuted into DC the next week and interviewed with four different people, then got the offer two days later. I think it’s the fastest I ever landed a job which is awesome but also very stressful. I’ve been a bundle of nerves all week long waiting for phone calls and emails.

For some reason, I was REALLY nervous to give my two weeks notice. I did it when I resigned from my last job, so I don’t know what my problem was. I just get worked up easily, so I made it a bigger deal in my mind. But it went smoothly and I am certain that the transition will go without any issues.

Most things have been great this week – all but my workouts. They have definitely suffered. Usually, I use morning workouts to jump start my day and clear my mind, but this week I just didn’t have the motivation. I missed more days than I would like to admit, and now am feeling the guilt. I think that I was just so overwhelmed by all of the other stuff going on, that waking up at 4:15 and going to the gym  was just the most unappealing thing ever.

But, what’s done is done. I am back on track for next week and ready to ramp it up again. I kind of need to get back on my game because I signed up for two more races this morning – The GW Parkway Classic in April the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon in May.

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I ran the GW Parkway Classic last year and the Historic Half the past two years. I like running the same races year after year because knowing the course and knowing what to expect makes for a better race morning.

So no more tired Taylor. I need to step it up these next two weeks, then once I start the new job, figure out a new training plan since my hours and commute will be different.

I am just ready for the weekend to get started. My best friend and her fiance are having their engagement party this Saturday, so we will all be reunited – the bridal party and their significant others, families, and lots of friends. I am BEYOND excited to see everyone and dance all night long. More than anything, I am excited to celebrate the love of Lu and William. They are two of my favorite people in the world, so I know it’s going to be an unforgettable weekend.

Have a great Friday! 🙂

VA is for Lovers 14k – Race Recap

Ok, it’s finally time for the VA is for Lovers 14k race recap. Better late than never, right? Race weekend started out with a little road trip down to VA Beach after rush hour died down. We dropped Bill off at the rent’s house. I couldn’t help getting a little sad when I went to say bye to him and he was already off running around with his sister. I don’t think he missed us much.

We got to our friends’ house pretty late, but stayed up and chatted for a while and hung out with Kane, the horse dog.

After a few hours of sleep, we all awoke bright and early for the race. We got to the VB Field House well before race start because I had to pick up my bib and wanted to make sure we made it there before the roads started closing. I had never been to the VB Field House, so I was really impressed with the set-up.

Bib pick up was inside of the field house. The runners and spectators had a warm place to relax before the race complete with big screen TVs, couches, a snack bar, and plenty of bathrooms. Even though it wasn’t super cold out, it was kind of dreary and windy so it was nice to have an indoor rest area pre race.

I got my bib without any issues. Despite the large number of spectators and runners, everything was super smooth and organized. About 30 minutes before race start, I said farewell to my cheer team and walked to the start line. I gave myself enough time to use the bathroom and stretch.

The race announcer was dressed as a heart. How cute!

I hate waiting for those last few minutes before race start. They seem to go so slow. And no matter the distance, my adrenaline always goes wild before a race. Unfortunately, I had to pee like 2 minutes before race start. Chalking it up to nerves, I figured the feeling would go away once I calmed down.

Race start was awesome and motivating as always. There’s nothing like running under a big arch with an announcer yelling and music blaring. It’s such a cool feeling. We also ran underneath an American flag suspended in the air by a fire truck ladder. That really made me feel excited as I ran underneath it.

I tried getting into the zone, but after about a mile I couldn’t shake the feeling to use the bathroom so I stopped at the first porta potty I saw. The line was about 4 people deep, but I decided to wait rather that run an uncomfortable race. By the time I was able to use the bathroom, all of the runners had passed and the walkers were bringing up the rear.

Even though I don’t run for time, I didn’t want to be stuck in the back either. I also didn’t want the race to take forever, because our friends were nice enough to come cheer me on and I didn’t want them waiting on me all morning.

So I spent about half the race trying to make up for lost time. This involved a whole lot of dodging walkers and running off the path in the grass. I eventually made it back to the group of people I started with, but it took its toll on my hips and knees. I was SORE and still had half a race to run.

The race itself was super cute. They really played up the “love” theme. Many people were dressed in costumes, or at the very least in red or pink. I especially liked running under the “Lovers’ Lane” arch and reading all of the signs that people bought for each other to be displayed along the course. That was a welcomed distraction.

I also saw this couple who ran chained together. The woman wore a shirt that said, “the old ball and chain” on the back. I thought that was pretty creative. I saw lots of cupids, hearts, and a lot of husband and wife runners.

The course itself was pretty boring. That was probably the only downfall of the race. 8.6 miles of parking lots, one lane roads, and down and back routes. We did get to run through Farm Bureau Live, which is an outdoor concert venue, so that was fun. But the rest of the course wasn’t great. The worst part was being able to see the runners ahead of you looping around for miles. Mile 7 was pretty difficult for me because I was just ready to be finished and could literally see the whole mile+ I had left to run.

I got my second wind though when the field house was in sight. I knew Marcus would be there cheering for me as I finished.

Apparently, I run with closed eyes and an awkward hand.

The finish line was pretty sweet. We got to run into the field house on turf and finish under a huge arch as the announcer called out our names. The only thing that feels more awesome than starting a race is finishing one. I definitely gave a whoop and a fist pump as I crossed the finish line.

As I went down the finishers chute, I got my medal, water, a banana, the “surprise” item which was a stemless wine glass (awesome), and a carnation. The finisher’s items were great and totally worth the dull course. We got all of this stuff along with the full zip windbreaker, nice J & A Racing bag, and personalized race bib.

The finish area was crowded but not so bad that I couldn’t move. I quickly got my Yuengling and Moe’s burrito just to say I did. But both got set down quickly because my stomach still felt like it was running even though I was standing still.

Overall, it was a terrific race. There was a band playing and lots of runners mingling and talking afterwards. I quickly found Marcus and our friends despite the big crowds, which is not always the case after a race.

I would definitely run this race again. I understand the need for a boring course. We began and finished at the field house which is a little secluded and in an area surrounded by athletic fields and parking lots. I would gladly take that course if it means starting and finishing indoors and out of the elements, especially since the temperatures dropped and wind really picked up by the time I was finished running. So the indoor post race set-up was much appreciated.

I love the attention to detail, the “love” theme throughout the whole race, and the organization of everything. All of the volunteers were super nice and the race SWAG was legit. J & A Racing will forever get my praise. They know how to run good races.

After the race, we grabbed sandwiches at Taste (s000 good), showered up, and headed to Norfolk for a little VCU/ODU basketball. Talk about an exciting day! I love VB. Let’s go back! 🙂 

Next up, is RnR DC. I am a bit skeptical of this one because RnR tends to oversell their races because they are in it to make that money. But I’m excited nonetheless. Any opportunity to race gets me pumped.

Have a fab one! 🙂