3rd Raceversary

Three years ago tomorrow I finished my first race. I was officially a Frozen Penguin.

Frozen Penguin 5K

I missed my three year runversary because I was injured and cranky. I missed the First Race prompt a few weeks ago on Tuesday Topics because I am the worst with the weekday linkups. Today I’m joining Debbie, Deborah, Rachel, Lisa, Jen and Smitha for the new Wednesday “Runners’ Roundup” to talk about three years of racing.

Book plate! “Believe and achieve!” meeting Deena Kastor at the 2018 Cherry Blossom Expo

Since that first penguin, which I’ve now run 4x (twice as a 5K, twice as a 10K), I’ve run approximately:

  • 10 5Ks
  • countless 4 and 5 mile races. Literally, I ran out of fingers and gave up even after looking at my race calendar.
  • 7 10ks
  • 3 15Ks
  • 2 10 Milers
  • 8 Half Marathons
  • the New York City marathon

It’s safe to say absolutely none of that was on my radar three years ago, and I wouldn’t change a single step. Having some fun with prompts I’ve seen on other running memory lane posts.

Favorite race?

Throwing out my beloved Frozen Penguin (first is always your baby) and the New York City marathon, I’d have to say I can go with a top three:

  • Fred Lebow. It’s an evil, evil half marathon, but it’s the one that made me a half marathoner. Plus it’s Fred and he is NYC running.
  • Ted Corbitt – I just really love the 15K distance. It seems to be my sweet spot. I get well & truly warmed up, but it doesn’t have that last slog of a Half Marathon.
  • Damon Runyon 5K – I actually hate the race itself with the stairs and the concrete, but something about running on the warning track of Yankee Stadium is just awesome.

Race I’d recommend everyone do once?

Cheese ball! So glad for the heat wrap

Again, throwing out the New York City marathon because duh!, I’d have to go with Cherry Blossom 10 miler. It’s gorgeous, even if it doesn’t align with peak. Washington D.C. is one of my favorite cities and it makes for a wonderful weekend

I love this spot!

Honorable mention to the Brooklyn Half. You finish on the boardwalk at Coney Island. I had horrible weather, but I still loved it. I rarely get to run it as a conference typically has me out of town, but I do want to do it again.

Race I have a piece of advice for?

I don’t even know where to start with that one. #HillsForBreakfast I guess is solid advice, even though it’s really only the NYC Marathon, Bermuda and Lebow where they’re super hilly.

On second thought, take off the watch if you run Runyon or another stadium race. GPS doesn’t work, and fun runs like that shouldn’t be about your pace. Just run and appreciate the place you’re running.

Bucket list race?

Not really. I loved running around London when I was there and spectating Marine Corps was awesome, but I have no immediate interest in a second marathon.  There are other races I’m interested in, but they don’t quite rise to the level of Bucket List as they’re mostly a question of schedule whereas a bucket list feels like it needs a lottery element or something to put it out of reach. Do you have a race I should put on my bucket list? Anything less than marathon distance.

Favorite race city?

Can’t say anything but New York. We’re all biased toward home and greatest city in the world is way more than a song lyric.

Favorite race photo?

Impossible. Every time I go to click one, I think of another. So many good memories.

Favorite race memory?

Taylor Swift Bad Blood and Rachel Platten Fight Song nearing the finish of my first Half. Eurythmics Sweet Dreams blaring in Times Square during last year’s NYC Half. Coming back into Central Park at Columbus Circle and realizing I was going to be a marathoner. All equally and bizarrely vivid.


I originally wanted to do a giveaway for my runniversary, and I couldn’t and still can’t think of one.  If I think of something really cool, I reserve the right to think of this as an anniversary year 🙂

  • How many years have you been running/racing?
  • Do you have any answers to these questions?

TOTR: Fall Running Plans

I love Tuesdays on the Run. And I love having the “cheat sheet” of the topics early so I can get these written at the weekend. This week? Fall Running Plans.

Linking up with: Erika at MCM Mama, Marcia at Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and Patty at No Guilt Life.

I don’t have any fall running favorites, other than the weather. I cannot wait for more seasonable temperatures. I did two races last year, and will be repeating one. More on that later. Non-running favorites? The leaves. One thing I really missed about the northeast when living in Japan and Australia was the four seasons, especially fall. It’s just magical. The colors, the smell. I enjoy getting silly for my birthday/Thanksgiving but that’s secondary to the colors.

My fall running plans are:

The maybes are schedule questions, but I’d really like to run Grete’s Great Gallop even though I hate the Central Park 10K course and have been hill-avoidant all summer. It sounds like a wonderful race and a way to honor a great woman. I did the Poland Spring kickoff last year and aside from hating the shirt (still do, still an issue with women’s shirts), I loved the race. I’ll probably end up doing this again if I’m in town.

For the confirmed races:

  • I have mixed feelings about the Bronx 10 miler. Training hasn’t been what I wanted it to, but I think I can run ten miles. It starts at Yankee Stadium! I like the idea of running down the Concourse as its architecture is stunning,  but I’m not sure I’ll feel the same on the loop back. I’m thinking of running with a pacer, but we’ll see.
  • I was bummed to get closed out of Race to Deliver last year and signed up as quickly as I could. Something about giving back Thanksgiving week, and especially around my birthday. Speaking of Thanksgiving, hoping to do a Turkey Trot somewhere that weekend.
  • Ted Corbitt was my first long race and it still has a special place in my heart. I loved it, even with a sore hip and even in the snow. I need to get it together with hills this fall, but a variation of this course has become my 15K loop when I go long in Central Park. I want to beat last year, but beyond that don’t have specific goals this far out.

On the not running front:

  • the one I’m not repeating from last fall is the Squirrel Stampede which has been cancelled in favor of rescheduling the August rain out. I was looking forward to running Roosevelt Island again, but it’s the same weekend as the Bronx so I wouldn’t have been able to either way
  • I was tossing up the South Nyack 10 miler as I remember going to it as a kid, but after my fall I realized what a challenge the course was and that I probably wasn’t ready. It didn’t hurt that I got Giants’ tickets for that day either. So next year, maybe.


Race Recap: Cherry Blossom 10 miler

Is there any US location prettier in spring than the Washington DC Tidal Basin when the cherry blossoms bloom? I don’t think so. I fell in love with those pink petals some 16 years ago in Japan, so DC in April has been a long-time bucket list item. It never quite moved to reality until I started running and heard about this race.

There were blossoms, this was my magic welcome wagon. There will be many more photos

When I entered the lottery for this race, I was a very different runner. I hadn’t run more than 10K. I had no idea if I could, or even if I wanted to run ten miles but the lure of the cherry blossoms was a strong one. By the time the notifications were sent out, I’d run 15K and knew I could cover the additional .7 miles. Notification was actually anticlimactic, I got a notification from AMEX that my card had been charged without being present an hour or so before I got the email. Oops! Although this run comes with a great training program beginning in January, I opted not to use it owing to recovery from the January Half Marathon and the plan to use this as a training run for Brooklyn. I began to question all of this in the corrals, but more on that later.

Great banner at the Expo!

I got to DC early Friday afternoon and after a flying visit to the National Portrait Gallery (hi, Obama portraits!) I dropped off my bag at my hotel and headed to the National Building Museum for the Expo. What a stunning building and fascinating history. I was thrilled to read that it was designed by Montgomery Meigs, a key figure in my last DC trip when I was reading Robert Poole’s On Hallowed Ground about the establishment of Arlington. The Expo was enormous, but simultaneously less chaotic than Fort Lauderdale’s.

I really loved the race shirts!
being silly after bib collection
here a name, there a name

Bib and shirt pickup were easy and I subsequently meandered the floor to check out the vendors. One thing I’d struggled with packing for this “Runners’ Rite of Spring” was the weather. In fact, at one point the forecast was so bad an email from the race mentioned a possible cancellation. Yes, there was a good chance I’d have worse weather for this than the January Half Marathon!  I packed tights and layers for on top, but I wasn’t confident in this so walked around to see if there were better options. I didn’t find any and decided to trust my gut. I was glad to subsequently read Deb Runs’ post and see that even way more experienced runners struggle with this for weird weather races.

I was going to head out when the announcer mentioned that Deena Kastor was still there signing her upcoming book. I was excited by that as I’d planned to go to her NYC signing, but wasn’t sure I’d be able to. As I was about to ask the announcer which booth Kastor was at, I turned to my right.

Deena Kastor!

The line was short, and I decided to join it. Books weren’t available yet and I knew I’d have a copy waiting for me here, so I wasn’t sure if I’d get anything signed but was just happy to listen to her chat to others on line about the book and about Boston.

Book plate! “Believe and achieve!”

It turned out that what Kastor was offering were bookplates which could subsequently be affixed to a copy of the book. I found her very down to earth and loved the note. Such good advice.

Although I’ve been to DC three times in the last 5-6 years, it was in some ways my first racecation. When I go to Fort Lauderdale, I don’t sightsee beyond the hotel’s beach and pool. DC it was a real effort to try to curtail the sightseeing especially as the blossoms were out and Friday was the first good weather day in months. Saturday I was a little more organized and the only real sightseeing we did was the new African American Culture & History Museum before trying to ascertain where the start was. Although CUCB’s app is wonderful, their mapping leaves something to be desired especially due to the out of town runners this race draws.

front of the treasury as I walked down to the start from my hotel

Once I knew the Metro wasn’t going to be running Sunday morning, I made the decision to stay in DC instead of in Arlington, where I normally am. Being ~10-15m walk from the Mall was perfect as it meant the walk was a nice warmup on Sunday morning when Uber surge made that a no go. On the plus side, I mixed in some sightseeing as I wiggled around the White House. The Treasury is just such a stunning building and I found the White House paled in comparison.

cold sunrise!

Sunday morning dawned bright and cold as we got into the corrals between the Washington Monument and the African American Museum. The sunrise was nice, albeit not very warm. Tights, tee shirt, long sleeve tee, hat and gloves worked well and I was cold but not freezing at the start and not too warm on the course, although I ended up taking off the gloves. I realized when I thought about finding my pace group that because I hadn’t run the distance when I signed up for the lottery, they’d seeded me in the furthest back corral and the group I thought about joining was in the next one forward. I decided I’d just run and if I saw them, great.

Best thing about the corral was I had the chance to meet up with another Run the Year runner who was in town for the race. She’s the first RTY person I’ve met, and that was fun. There were a few others in town, but we weren’t able to connect. Having someone to chat to made the time go faster and it seemed pretty quickly that they were moving us to the start.

let’s get ready to mosey!
Tidal Basin/West Potomac Park
out along Ohio Drive/Hains Point
who decided to end this on an uphill?

What a spectacular course!

I’d been warned that good times were hard at the start due to the large field, and that was definitely true as we completed the out and back toward Kennedy Center. The course was slightly altered due to the Memorial Bridge closure but other than a tunnel underpass near the Kennedy Center, there wasn’t an inch of this course that wasn’t gorgeous, even the final uphill. The first two miles were slow but then I found my space and settled into my zone.

Steady splits-ish
remarkably consistent between watch and official
the marker of a good race

I was really happy with the race I ran. I didn’t have a time goal, knowing about the crowded start and knowing I’d see blossoms and want to take photos. So I was thrilled to see a sub two hour time as that seemed like a good number, and passing more than I passed in the second half seems right. Like two weeks ago, no pain on a long run and I feel like the lingering knee issue is finally better. The miles went by quickly and although I was tired, I felt like I could have gone further (spoiler, I did. I subsequently walked 12 more miles!)

Super Runner!
Cheese ball! So glad for the heat wrap

Yep, post race ham is mandatory as I wandered over to the staging grounds to get the medal before heading to meet a friend for breakfast. It was really too chilly to linger longer.

I was surprised at how cheap the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler is, at only $45. I opted to upgrade to the tech shirt and buy a medal. I like that they had ala carte options to keep the base cheaper and more accessible to all. I really loved the tech shirt (and that I needed to swap it for a smaller size!) and while I didn’t love it at first, the medal grew on me.

As someone who loves cherry blossoms, I’m so glad I got to experience DC at this time. Would I do this race again? Undecided. The race itself is cheap but DC is an expensive city with hotel rates especially so for cherry blossoms. Part of me thinks I’d rather spend the same amount (or less) to do a different race, maybe in a new to me location. I’m also intrigued by the Philly Hot Chocolate 15K, which is the same weekend and another great city. Decisions, decisions. So definite maybe, but through no fault of the race itself. It’s really well done and I can see why it’s so popular.

For others’ thoughts on the #CUCB2018, check the official LinkUp.

Other Notes:

  • recovery went well. I was slightly sore coming off the three-hour train ride that night, but that could have had as much to do with the subsequent walk all over DC as the run. I couldn’t believe  I was up for that! More to come on that when I’m done editing photos. Took an Advil as I walked and then when I went to bed, but woke Monday 99% fine. I took Monday and Tuesday off running but went to the gym Monday to use their foam roller. I ran Wednesday short to shake out the legs and this morning outside for 3.5 fast (for me) miles and I’m good to go.
    • When I went to Deena Kastor’s NYC book signing at Road Runners on Tuesday I saw the shirts for the SHAPE Half and they’re purple! I won’t lie, I love them and kind of wish I were running Sunday (although not now that I see the weather). But I know not running  it on those hills was the smarter move as I train for Brooklyn (5/19). The plan is 10K this weekend, 15K the following two before a TBD as I’m away 5/6 when the taper should start. I’m still not familiar with the course, but I’m hoping to get below 2h40. I think the training will get me there.
    • Why I’m doing a 10K Saturday is less post-race soreness and more because I did sign up for Damon Runyon again and that’s Sunday. While I don’t think it will be the hot mess last years was, the stairs are challenging and going into them with tired legs isn’t smart. I know the GPS won’t work at the indoor start so may do this one without a watch and just go with their timing again.
  • Deena Kastor in New York was amazing, and I’m loving what I’ve read so far of her book. She claimed to remember me from the Expo and asked how my run went.  That felt awesome. I’ll definitely review the book here when I’m done. I’m hoping she leads the Masters’ field on Monday, and I love that I’m excited about Boston. Although I don’t think she will, I’d love to see Shalane Flanagan win.
  • I should hit 200 miles run on the year this year. I’m really pleased with that.

On to the next