Week 12: One Month

Holy Moly – four weeks from now this is happening:


I adore this photo!

I cannot believe in less than a month I will be running the 39th Marine Corps Marathon, the People’s Marathon, my first. I am a bundle of emotions though I’m trying to temper them and remember I still have some running left to do in the training department. Just trying to keep the faith and take one step at a time.

motivational bracelet from Words to Sweat By.

motivational bracelet from Words to Sweat By.

Alright so here’s how Week 12 shaped up:

Monday: REST day – to recover from Sunday’s 17 miler

Tuesday: 6 glorious miles through the streets of DC. I love the backdrop of this city in my daily runs. Sometimes you forget just how accessible history is. Capitol DC

Wednesday: REST day. Um, yeah this was unintentional. Jake had to cancel our training session and I meant to go to Body Pump but my work day overcame any thoughts of that. I ended up just going home after a long day and ordered Thai takeout (no judging, sh*t happens!)

Thursday: 2.5 mile treadmill run + strength training. I made up for the missed Wednesday strength session, opted out of speed work and just ran. Then I focused on some upper body with TRX and free weights.

Friday: REST

Saturday: Clarendon Day Double. This was a 5K followed by a 10K. I made the decision to do this race on Wednesday (yes, the unintended rest day – internal peer pressure) as a means to get in some of my planned 14 miles. It’s marketed as a fast downhill and is the lead in to a neighborhood day full of vendors, food and family fun.  All that said, this b*tch was HARD! :) 

I won’t write a full recap of this event but oh my goodness. My plan was to do the 5k nice and conservative (ie. slow) so that I could take on the 10k at a faster pace. The 14 training miles were to include 6 building up to race pace so perfect, right?  I figured I’d do the remaining 5 miles later in the day. The 5k went as prescribed (well, after a late start – I was literally the last person to cross the start line after not really looking at the course map and knowing where I was supposed to go *cough cough*) .

The 10k course mirrored the 5k only we went a little further past the 5k turnaround and Arlington National Cemetery. I went out FAST, which was my intent. By mile 4 that long stretch about killed me. Why? Running + Sun/humidity = Mar’s Kryptonite. My splits told the tale: L1 9:10, L2 8:58 (say what?) L3 9:48 L4 9:48 L5 10:34 L6 10:55 wheels. coming. off. I was fried and exhausted by the end. My strategy failed and had I known it would heat up the way it did (where the eff is Fall DC?! 85 degrees?) I would have run both races at my typical long run speed.


BUT – I ran 9 miles and for that I was pleased. Not to mention meeting up with all these cool people:

Courtney, Julie, Sue, Kathryn and me

Courtney/Eat Pray Run, DC, Julie/Diving into the Gene Pool, Sue/This Mama Runs for Cupcakes, Kathryn/Dancing to Running, and me

Clarendon Day was the place to be this weekend :)

Sunday: 5 miles. I needed to round out my 14 miles and this Sunday morning run did it. I felt strong and for the first time in what seems like forever, I had negative splits (woohoo!) I have this habit of going out of the gate too fast (see Saturday) and running out of gas in the later miles. I ran these miles determined: 5milesNot a bad way to end the week. This week will be a more focused one. I’ve got 20 miles on tap for next weekend and really need to make more of an effort to eat clean. I meal prepped today for the first time in weeeeeeeeks and it’s all early to bed and get plenty of sleep.

How was your weekend? Any unseasonably fall weather where you are?

Friday Five: Favorite Fall Activities

Several weeks ago my DC pals Cynthia, Courtney and me previewed “FALL” as our Friday Five topic.  So today we’re getting a little more specific with “Favorite Fall Activities”. Happy Friday on this first official week of Fall!  While summer is synonymous with beaches and fruity drinks, fall is synonymous with…. find out right here :) FridayFive

ONE:  Running. I know, I know, easy way out – but this is a running blog after all! I love when fall comes around because the weather makes it the PERFECT season for running outside. No worries about getting up at the crack of dawn to beat the heat or any of that nonsense ;) It’s all about long sleeves and thumbholes – simply perfect!

TWO:  Hiking and leaf peeping! And actually the photo you see above was taken in the White Mountains of NH 2 falls ago. A friend of mine and I went road tripping to New England and did a lot of climbing, hiking and walking :) how beautiful is this?! Hoping to explore a little of what the DC area (particularly Great Falls – I know I keep saying it!) has to offer.

THREE:  Apple Picking. My love affair with apples has increased as I’ve gotten older. Not sure why but it is my go-to fruit these days. I cannot wait to go apple picking, drink some cider, hopefully find some apple spice doughnuts ;) and just enjoy the crisp air and great outdoors. DC’ers any recommendations on where to go???

FOUR: Watching Football. And not just “watching” football but traveling and “watching” football. My travel partner in crime and I have already purchased our tickets to two road games this fall (post marathon of course). Yeah, wreaking Steelers havoc all over the U S of A :)

FIVE:  Couch cuddling. No one is happier than me that in peak training time the weather has gotten cooler. Because in addition to running in much more ideal conditions, I also have a built in excuse for doing this:

Why yes, that is a Steelers blankie :)

Why yes, that is a Steelers blankie :)

Whether it’s movies, football or back in action Fall TV the best fall activity for me is absolutely laying on the couch and vegging out. Yes, welcome fall indeed…

What are some of your favorite fall activities?! TGIF! What’re your weekend plans? 

Marika Leggings – a Review!

A few weeks ago I alerted you to my series of product reviews. When you marathon train, you try things ;) Some of these items I’ve purchased and others I’ve been asked to try and review.  If you missed any of my reviews to date – catch up here:

Next up are the Marika Magic Slimming Capris. Disclaimer: I received a pair of these leggings in exchange for my review. Opinions, as always are my own!  MarikaI’ve seen and purchased Marika before, namely in Nordstrom Rack where I can always find low price workout gear and accessories (hello $20 Yoga Towel!!) so I was familiar with the brand. One of my favorite tanks is their performance tech tee which I bought in three colors (no judging, I digress).  I opted to wear these to Yoga on Saturday. Naturally I paired them with my favorite bright blue Marika tank ;) 

Going through the motions of Yoga Sculpt plus the hot room requires me to be comfortable and I was so happy I put these on for the effort. YogaThey fit like a glove, loving how they felt the second I put them (had a size Small). The material was dense (a good thing) but not heavy in which to move. And the “slimming” part? Yeah, that’s real. So real. They are made with contour seaming and power mesh lining to get that slim look. Overall, I highly recommend these pants! They retail for about $55 but so very worth it.

You can find Marika products at department and sporting goods stores as well as specialty retailers and as I mentioned I’ve had great success with this brand at Nordstrom Rack.  You can also purchase directly at www.marika.com AND for being my awesome readers, here is a 30% discount code to use (online at Marika only) through September 30:  MM30

What is your favorite brand for leggings? Have you tried Marika before? Ever shop at Nordstrom Rack?! 

Week 11: Photo Trip!

WOW – I just completed Week 11 of marathon training. Only 5 weeks stands between me and the 39th Marine Corps Marathon. I just got chills. I think it was a pretty decent week and for this recap, I’m going wordless (for the most part).  The week in photos:TuesdayWednesdayThursdayHallandOatesYogaSculpt

SundaySundays run was a little tough. I overslept my wake up time and it took me 90 minutes to get my act together. At this point it was still nice and breezy but warmed up as the run went on. My intention was 18 though the plan called for 16-18. I ran out of hydration at Mile 14, ugh (another training lesson learned!) I did stop at a gas station to buy some water and then around mile 15 1/2 a woman approached me freaking out a bit. Her husband was having some kind of emergency and she made a wrong turn to get there. I mapped it out for her and offered to call a cab but she took off (probably in shock). After all of that I ran some more but decided to end it at 17.

So… photos!  My favorite sight from the run (above), the beautiful Lady Bird Johnson park! and below just a few more sights of the city:  DCmonumentsPotomacRockCreekWe had summer like weather in DC this weekend – so beautiful!! How was your weather? Who did something FUN this weekend?!


Friday Five: These are a Few of My Favorite Things!

Here we are! Another week, another Friday Five. We went with “Favorites” this week – just a few things you’re loving. This has been a pretty packed week for me with loads happening. I picked a few bright spots from my week!  Join me, Cynthia and Courtney this and every week :)  FF

1.  Open windows and Peppermint Tea – ah yes, fall. I know everyone craves the pumpkin (which I love too, don’t get me wrong!) but this is perfect tea weather.  I’ve been trying to get into the routine habit of hitting the hay early (work in progress!) and sipping on some Twinings Herbal Peppermint Tea beforehand. Relaxes my body and mind. And the fact that I can now leave my windows open and enjoy the crisp fall air. Heaven… ???????????????????????????????

2.  Nature Box day!!!  I’ve tried out other subscription services to test products and see what the fuss was all about, but this is one subscription service I will never give up!!  I received a sample of Peanut Butter Nom Nom’s in my swag bag at a race last year and soon thereafter hit Google like nobody’s business to find out how to bring these permanently into my life.  At first I was unsure because I was getting a random assortment of snacks but at least I was able to try a variety of things. Now you can now customize your own box so you get the snacks you want each month. These are all my favorites: ???????????????????????????????

3.  My VIM & VIGR Compression socks. I got an opportunity to try a Nautical Stripe pair and am absolutely in LOVE with this style, and fabric, and colors. I almost look forward to my long runs (18 this weekend, eek!) just so I can put ‘em on after ;) And don’t forget about my GIVEAWAY to win a pair of your own (they come in Men’s too fellas!) Ends Sunday at 11:59 pm. Get on it!!

4.  Moji 360 Foot Massager. Um, this showed up as a random Facebook ad (creepy) several weeks ago but I was intrigued enough to hit up the Google machine again. I found it in City Sports, paid about $35 and it’s the best money I’ve ever spent.  Since injury my right foot will get stiff at times and tennis balls just do not work and golf balls hurt like heck. The 2 sides are for different pressures. OMG. I can’t even… ???????????????????????????????

5.  The 80′s!!! Tonight, I am headed to a private concert with Hall and Oates. I’m like totally getting my 80′s dance moves on – like, totally. Private eyes are watching you!

What are a few of your favorite things?! TGIF!!

Fall Fitness Fashion (Compression Review+Giveaway)

Disclaimer: I was provided with compression gear to try and compare in exchange for my review. All opinions expressed are my honest thoughts.

PhotoGrid_110913513959A few months ago I introduced you all to BrightLife Go, a Washington, DC, based (shop local, shop small!!) company that offers a tremendous array of compression products. At the time I had only worn Zensah or Feetures so tried out brands CEP and Sigvaris.  I mainly use compression for recovery after a long run but with marathon training have seen the benefits of wearing compression pretty much every day all day (kidding, sort of) and with all of the traveling I’ve been doing have used for long plane and car rides.

I know I am not the only one who has shamelessly worn my compression socks or calf sleeves out and about to run errands and otherwise carry on my day, amiright? I do not care about strange looks or side eyes – we’re talking recovery people!! Even so with fall officially just around the corner, the temps have begun to dip to long pants and light sweater weather and I’m here to tell you there ARE compression products out there that are not only fashionable, but do all the good things that compression is supposed to do. That piece of knowledge you just received? You’re welcome ;) !

In celebration of their website relaunch this week BrightLife Go has graciously allowed me to try a few of these kicking styles and can I say these are fun, fun, FUN!!  Enter stripes, argyle and polka dots: CompressionReview

The first thing to know is these were all Mild Compression (15-20 mmHg) level. Mild compression “improves circulation in the legs, providing relief from minor to moderate swelling, tired aching legs, and spider and varicose veins.”  These are especially useful when traveling or sitting for prolonged periods of time. 

First up, VIM & VIGR’s Nautical Stripe: I selected the gray stripe and yellow socks (because Steelers) and first used them after Rock N’ Roll Virginia Beach during and after a 4 hour car ride.VIM&VIGRI mean, who doesn’t match their sundresses to their compression socks? They were soft and comfortable with just the right amount of compression. And the style couldn’t be beat for sure. I’ve worn them twice since including to recover from the Navy-Air Forice Half.  

RejuvaHealth’s Argyle: I wore these to work the day after my 16 miler because my legs were still feeling a bit tired.  RejuvaHealth

I love the argyle pattern and actually have a pair of Zensah’s in a similar style. These particularly socks didn’t go all the way to my knees and the ribbing was a little too compressed around my calves so I ended up taking them off before the end of the day.  I did wear them again (just yesterday!) to work and did last all day – so perhaps I just needed to get used to them.

Sockwell’s Polka Dots: I loved this pair! They were made of a Merino Wool blend which was so super soft and comfortable and meant to keep your skin dry. I wore them at home after a mid week run. They went all the way up to my knee and the only thing that bothered me slightly was the wide ribbing at the top (see above). It’s meant to keep the sock in place and I know a lot of socks have this so it’s my own issue but I could see being annoyed after a long period of time.  Overall though I liked the look and especially feel of this brand.  ???????????????????????????????

The verdict? While I appreciated them all by far my favorite both in comfort and style is the Nautical Stripes of VIM & VIGR. The stripes are just too fun!!  Now YOU can win a pair of your own VIM & VIGR Nautical Stripe compression (in your choice of color/size below) courtesy of BrightLife Go. GiveawayTo enter please use the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway ends Sunday, September 21 at 11:59 pm. There are many ways to enter!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

And I have to high five BrightLife Go for bringing VIM & VIGR into my life.  Seriously, my feet especially thank you for it!

How do you rock compression (or do you)? What do you think of these styles?

Week 10: Navy Air-Force Half Recap

Week 10 will forever be known as “it is what it is”.  Seriously, this week was awful. Work was crazy, I barely worked out and was feeling terrible and run down all week. This was a cutback week with trimmed down mileage for marathon training anyway, which I took literally.

Monday was a REST day following my Sunday 16 miler. Tuesday was an unplanned REST day but I did go for a 2 mile walk.  Wednesday was personal training with Jake but I was so drained and exhausted (thanks for taking it easy on me buddy!) that I probably should have skipped it.  Thursday was going to be my speed work day and every attempt at a drill was thwarted. I finally hopped off the treadmill after 1.5 miles. Friday simply wasn’t any better so I did a 3.5 mile walk (there may have been a visit to Sweet Frog in there). Saturday was my final day of REST so I decided to call the week a wash and prep for the Navy-Air Force Half on Sunday.  NavyAirForce

The Expo was on Saturday and held at Nationals stadium. This was the only day packet pick up was available so the lines were long to get in.  I may or may not have had a little fun with the United States Presidents while waiting as the Washington Nationals mascots were at the stadium to hang with the runners for a bit: Presidents

I met up with Courtney and we got our gear, did a once through of the Expo (which was small, unimpressive, and kind of oddly set up) then headed to Gordon Biersch for lunch and carbs:

Duh, Beer

Duh, Beer

Sunday I was up bright and early to head to the start which was at the Washington Monument (awesome!)  This is a much smaller race than a lot of other DC area races so getting there by car and parking was easy and plentiful on the street. I actually parked near the White House! It was about 55 degrees and slightly chill so I opted to check a bag for later, which I don’t normally do, but Gear Check was a breeze.

I met up again with Courtney and headed to the start!  Bloggers side note: boo to the random guy who decided it was a good idea to stretch in the opening of the Corral shoot and kicked my shin – you broke skin you doofus jerk.  End note.  Given my low mileage last week (7 mainly walking) I was taking this race ultra conservatively. My long runs tend to be in the 10 minute mile range – so nice and easy. I stuck with this strategy for the duration picking up and slowing down my speed as bursts of energy allowed.

The course itself was pretty enjoyable. We started at the Washington Monument and headed down Independence Avenue around the Lincoln Memorial and over the Arlington Memorial Bridge, looping around in front of Arlington National Cemetery and back over the bridge down Rock Creek Parkway. Very familiar territory during my training runs!  Basically Miles 3-8 were through Rock Creek with a turnaround half way. From there we continued on to Ohio Drive and the Tidal Basin for a lo(ooooooo)ng stretch. Seriously Miles 8-11 were pretty dead to me. In any case we looped around Hains Point for the homestretch back to the Washington Monument and the finish line.

Official finish time was actually 2:13:25, pace 10:12 minutes/mile. An average run for me but overall I’m feeling good about where I am in marathon training. While it would be nice to focus on speed, I’m all about mental capacity and building endurance for this PR distance.  After injury it’s all I can do!  I did the Navy 5-miler a couple of years ago, vowing I’d do the half someday and I did!  This year they offered medals instead of the coins they had given in the past: medal

WhiteHouseAll in all it was a beautiful day! Week 10 is now over and done and on to Week 11 (!!!!) Oh and big ups to my girl Courtney who PR’d her goal race half. Super proud of my BRF!! EatPrayRunDC

By the way kids, though I feel pretty bad a$$ for this run, I don’t recommend a week of no running then bringing the boom with a half marathon. Do as I say not as I do. That said: “The body achieves what the mind believes”.  True Story. :)

Who has fun, happy news from the weekend?! 

Friday Five: Blogs to Love

This week we went with a tried and true theme – and a favorite we’ve used before - Blogs to Love.  I hope by now you are avid followers of my gals Cynthia at You Signed Up For What?! and Courtney from Eat Pray Run, DC. And if you’re not, get on that!  But today we are focusing on other blogs we know and love.  bloggerlove

It’s be almost a year since we started this link up.  We’ve grown from 3-5 bloggers a week to over 40, sometimes topping off at 50+. With such growth it takes us a little longer to hit all the blogs but believe me – we do read them ALL!!  If you find me not commenting there could be 2 reasons for that, one – I got distracted (oooh look a squirrel!) or B. you don’t have the Name/URL option. If I have to login to some other option in order to comment, I’ll give you page views but no comment love :)  (just being real)

So for today’s Friday Five I am spotlighting a few linker uppers who I’ve enjoyed reading and getting to know.  These bloggers have consistently linked up with us (some newer and some for awhile) that I wanted to show some extra love to, so make sure you check ‘em out :)

  1. Stacey at Run To Be Free
  2. Heather at Heather Runs 13.1
  3. Allyson at AMP Runs
  4. Kristen at Run Away With Me
  5. Janelle at Run With No Regrets

And don’t be offended if I didn’t list you, choosing 5 is hard y’all.

Happy weekend – who are some of your favorite bloggers?  

Gear Check: Hydration Vest Review!

Since I’ve been marathon training I’ve had to adjust to increased mileage and all the preparation that goes with it. I am not a huge gadget person in general but with the miles getting longer my needs are vastly different for 2-3 hour runs versus a quick neighborhood jaunt.  I’ve been trying out gear, fuel, hydration and think I know which shoes are “the one”. Who said running was a “free” sport? YouKnowYoureaRunnerWhen

Over the next few weeks I’m going to bring you some reviews (and other fun surprises – think giveaway!) on various products I’ve tried.  Up first is the Zelos Hydration Race Vest by Nathan Sports. ZelosHydrationAfter running out of hydration using my handheld a couple long runs in a row I realized I was not making it through my planned 16 miler without a better hydration plan! I knew I didn’t want a fuel belt so set out to find a hydration pack that would fit my tiny frame, be comfortable and lightweight.

I found myself in City Sports and checked out their Camel Bak selection which I wasn’t impressed by (I like Camel Bak as a brand just not the options there). I was set to go elsewhere until I saw a few Nathan products on another wall.  When I picked up the Zelos I loved that it was really, really light! I chatted with the sales guy who was pretty helpful and actually recommended Nathan over Camel Bak.  I do have a Nathan handheld I like a lot so I tried the vest and walked around a bit adjusting the straps as I went along. I was pretty sold on it in the store so away I went. Zelos

The features: a sizeable bladder and a handheld bottle/pocket in the front for additional hydration or fuel (I used honey stinger chews in the pocket); lightweight and mesh; a top side zipped pocket for cash, ID, keys, etc; plenty of storage in the pack; reflective material. ZelosPack

The experiment: I filled the bladder with Gatorade and decided to leave the water bottle at home. There are plenty of water fountains on the route I chose for Sunday’s run so figured I’d use those water stops in between. When I first put it on, it felt a little heavier than it was in the store – but duh, I was carrying a liter and a half of fluid! I loosened the straps a bit to make it more comfortable and off I went.

I was not annoyed by the straps or the sloshing (which was minimal and actually Nathan has videos if you Google search on how to limit that!). Once I got into a comfortable rhythm it was really all good. Then as I started to hydrate (around Mile 3) the weight began to shift and it was even more comfortable. Obviously I was aware I was wearing it and perhaps because I was so focused on the test it got me through the miles!!  I loved having the flask handy and not having to fully stop for hydration. 

I did stop about Mile 7 when I lost my shoe in the mud (it rained heavily the evening before and I was avoiding a puddle, then surprise!!) I easily flipped the pack off to get my hand towel and tightened the straps.  All in all I was really happy with this hydration vest! It will definitely come in handy for future long runs so I’m glad I tried it! The amount of storage space is a HUGE plus.

A couple of notes: the Zelos retails for about $125. I purchased mine on sale at City Sports and as a member of their Insider Rewards program used earned rewards dollars so paid even less.  Also, the Zelos is considered the men’s version and the women’s version is called the Zeal. The big difference is an additional front zipper on the women’s vest and brighter colors but I preferred this color and size and it fit the way I wanted. So every body is different and I’m sharing my personal experience!

Have you ever run with a hydration pack? Do you have a preferred method of hydration on a long run? 

Week 9: Halfway There

The Marine Corps Marathon is just 40+ days away. That shrill ‘eeeek’ you just heard?! Yeah, that was me. I’m excited but also nervous and slightly scared that I’ve made the worst decision in life. Kidding – sort of. I think my training has gone well overall and am in disbelief this past week marked the beginning of the second half. Given that I went through 10 weeks of training before falling to injury I’ve been a bit unnerved. Past is past but sometimes you can’t help but go there.  While self doubt and fear has gone through my mind this cycle, I am determined to push it away!   shebelieved

Prior to injury the longest distance I had run was 16 miles and this was the 16 mile week. I approached it optimistically. It took me a while Sunday morning to get all my gear together and out the door but when I stepped out – it was 68 degrees, low humidity, with a light breeze under a beautiful sky.  Amazing.  sky

I ran consistently and conservatively at a 10:48 pace (actually slightly faster as I forgot to pause my Garmin during one of my hydration / shoe got stuck in the mud (WTF?! don’t even ask) breaks). So, how do I feel at this point? Well, after running 16 freaking miles I actually think I can make it through this thing!!  Naturally I was sore and tired from running nearly 3 hours but no worse than any other run. A little Epsom Salt soak, compression and early bedtime does a body good. My psyche though is in a much better place and I feel a bit renewed for the second half and ready to conquer these remaining miles.

Weekly Recap

Monday:  the day after the VA Beach half was going to be a rest day. But it was also a holiday and I felt energized so I went to the gym. 40 minutes on the stationary bike plus some strength training action on the weight machines.

Tuesday: Um, all my aforementioned “energy” hit me hard. This was an unplanned (but needed) REST day!

Wednesday:  My rest day jumbled my scheduled a bit so I went for a run instead of personal training. I set out for 6 miles but note to self: after Labor Day the sun goes down earlier. It went dark by 8 pm which I wasn’t prepared for so cut it short around mile 5.2. Noted.

Thursday: 30 minute morning speed/hill interval training on the stationary bike

Friday: Speed work on the treadmill. 30 minutes including warm up and cool down, 3 sets of 1200 m at 8:13 pace with a 400 m jog in between. I have to say, that felt GREAT!

Saturday: Personal training w/Jake.  We focused on upper body and did some core and cardio work given my long run plans for Sunday. Oh, and if you are in the DC area – Roam is now Urban Athletic Club and opening a new facility in Georgetown (stay tuned!!)

Sunday:  16 mile long run.

Happiness is... Rock Creek Park and a long run!

Happiness is… Rock Creek Park and a long run!

Ever have a mental workout block you needed to get over? Anything fun happen this weekend?!