On Saturday, March 15, 2014 I ran the Rock N’ Roll USA Half Marathon. My running buddy Justine and I woke up at 5:00am to get ready and make it over to the starting line in Downtown, DC. Thankfully, my apartment is walking distance from a metro stop. We were able to get up collect ourselves and race (or stumble) out the door.

got my gear let's do this!

Got my gear together the night before. I don’t function before 9am.

Weather in DC in March can be a gamble. It’s either spring or winter. Luckily, the weather gods were on our side on Saturday and the weather was perfect.

Let's go run 13.1 miles!

Let’s go run 13.1 miles!

There were 25,000 thousand runners, crowding into the streets of DC. Despite the massive amount of people the crowds were still manageable. The only downside was the ridiculous amount of people on the metro. By the time we made it to the Federal Triangle stop we were packed side-by-side and then some. Getting off the train was a whole other challenge. Some people decided to stay on the train for another stop, which was Smithsonian. While this is fine, it caused some major traffic jams, when exiting the cars. Traffic jams continued on the platforms, escalators, and exiting the turnstiles, but I feel like that is expected in any major city race. After exiting the platform, I headed over to the VIP bathrooms (greatest decision ever), and then waited with Justine for her to use a restroom. We were wearing throwaways, which ultimately was a great decision because it was windy and chilly in the AM. We ditched the extra layers once we entered our corral.

Good Morning DC

Good Morning DC.

Many parts of this race were along familiar streets and areas that my friend and I usually run. It was nice to have that in a race. We ran past her office and my hubby’s office. You run by the White House and Washington Monument within the first mile. At mile 1.8 you run past the Lincoln Memorial then across the Arlington Memorial Bridge.

Entrance to Arlington Memorial Cemetery at mile 2.5

Entrance to Arlington Memorial Cemetery at mile 2.5

You run back across Arlington Memorial Bridge toward the Lincoln Memorial, then you veer left to go toward Rock Creek Parkway. There were little to no hills as you run along a cute tree line path in a more suburban part of Washington DC. Our friend Christine was popping up periodically to support us! We saw her at mile 1 and again at 4ish and then again at 8(I think). My knee had been acting up a little so we embraced a run/walk momentum. We would run at a 10-11 min mile pace until my knee hurt then we’d walk for a minute or so. This was working well for us until……

Meet the beast maker!

Meet the beast maker! The do not enter sign should of been a “sign”

beast maker can be found at mile 6

beast maker can be found at mile 6.

It’s literally all downhill after mile 6.

At the top of mile 6, I saw my parents and younger sister cheering with signs. I loved every second and it gave me the extra boost I needed to run up the end of the hill. This was the first race of mine that my mother and sister ever went to and I have a feeling it won’t be their last. (My dad is a pro at this by now, I’ve run a handful of races with him and he took me to my very first half marathon… I’m going on a tangent.)

After mile 6, it becomes a more urban race. We ran through the city. There are ample water stops, Gatorade, aid stations, and volunteers. I would only recommend that they not use plastic cups. These were kind of slippery when wet and I saw a few people stumble a bit.

From 6-11 the run/walk ratio was working for us. The crowd support, fun signs, and general DC atmosphere was fantastic. We ran a large portion of the race near a man wearing a Nationals uniform and juggling mini bats. I think that says it all. Around mile 9 we saw a group of people giving out beer that seemed reputable, so we helped ourselves to some.

Yum Beer! Let's call it fuel!?!

Yum Beer! Let’s call it fuel!?!

Shortly after this, we starting going through the DC mini tunnels. Our strategy was run down the tunnel and keep running till it went uphill. This worked for us.

Inside the mini tunnels

Inside the mini tunnels I think this was around 10-11? They all blended together after beast maker. In case you were curious, I’m on the right.

We finished the race in 2:53:23 according to RnR USA chip timing. I fueled with a Plain Gu 20 minutes before the start, a salted caramel Gu at mile 6ish and an espresso love around mile 9. It was the perfect amount to feel strong. I also filled my Nathan hydration belt 10 oz. bottles up with Cool Blue Gatorade but only ended up taking a few sips.

My GPS thought we ran a little bit further than 13.1 probably due to tunnels and running around people.

My GPS thought we ran a little bit further than 13.1 probably due to tunnels and running around people.

I do it for the bling baby!

I do it for the bling baby!

After the race, we cleaned up and headed over to Bar Louie for some burgers and loaded tots! YUM!

My and most of the fam.

My and most of the fam enjoying some post race celebration and relaxation.

Overall, it was a great race, in a great city, with one of my favorite running buddies/bestie. I would do this race again in a heartbeat and would definitely do another Rock N’ Roll race.

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Did you run a race this weekend? Have you run a “Big Box” race before? Who’s your favorite running buddy? What do you look for in a race?

On Thursday,  I went to the RnR USA Expo at the DC Armory. It closed at 7 so I had to jet over there quickly after work and grab my packet. My only real pet peeve about this expo was it’s closing time. 7pm! That’s not long enough, at least stay open till 8. I got there at 5:40 and went through the motions, but I would of like to not feel so rushed.

First Stop: Packets!

We went into the “basement” of the Armory to grab the packets. It was fast and very straight forward. Everything was laid out well and clearly marked. I grabbed my bib and safety pins, then headed back upstairs to get shirts and bags! They had out drawstring bags to hold all your items. (I love these bags, because they are fantastic for travelling! You can use them to hold shoes or laundry!)

The main athletic sponsor was Brooks, which is good and bad. It’s good cause I’m a huge fan of Brooks and bad because I’m a huge fan of Brooks. When I saw the race shirts debut online, I have to admit… I was not impressed. However, in person the shirt works.

U-S-A!!

U-S-A!!

I knew going in, that I wanted to pick up some official merchandise. Number 1 item on my list were the new Brooks Ravenna 5’s! They were reduced at the expo and I’m in need of a second pair of running sneakers.

Hey Bluefly, I think I love you!

Hey Bluefly, I think I love you!

I also picked up 2 tanks and a half zip. What can I say I really like Brooks Running gear. So after sufficiently having a great time in the Brooks Merchandise area, I found out that because I spent a certain amount ,I qualified to get VIP Porter Potty access at the race. Whoever said shopping didn’t have it’s perks, well you were wrong!

So this is happening.....

So this is happening…..

While at the expo I sampled the samples the new Powerade bar Mint chocolate chip which tasted just like Thin Mints. And, the Powerade new fruit juice “Gu” is out of the world delicious. How it fairs on a run is a whole other issue.

To wrap up the evening we visited booths, signed up for new races (King Crab Challenge), and purchased a few necessities.

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Like this shirt, necessity! FYI There’s a good chance I’m wearing this while I type.

Overall the expo was laid out well and had lots of fantastic vendors. I think I’m a Rock N’ Roll Marathon fan (well at least the expo).

I'm ready to race, Let's do this!

I’m ready to race, Let’s do this!

What’s your favorite race expo? Have you run DC before? What do you look forward to at your race expos?

Beer Fest and Some

Beer is good for recovery. Right? Either way, Ben Franklin once said, “Beer is Proof that God Loves Us.” Even if you’re not a religious person, it’s easy to see how a great beer on a nice day can be an experience.

Well, Last Saturday, hubby and I went to a Craft Beer Festival. This is where I learned the stranger the brewing company’s name, the more I want to try it. Some winners for me in the naming category were SlyFoxBeer, Terrapin Brewing Co, Smuttynose,  & Alewerks. This doesn’t mean their beers actually tasted good.

Samples were given out in shot glasses. With no restriction to the amount you could have....

Samples were given out in shot glasses. With no restriction to the amount you could have….

My personal favorites were all the ciders. What can I say…. I love cider. The Lager from the Brooklyn Brewing Company was great. Fordham Gypsy Lager was nice as well. Lastly, I enjoy Anthem Cherry Cider. What I did learn is that not all beers are created equal. I am not a fan of stouts or IPAs. I hear it’s an acquired tasted, but it may take me awhile to acquire it.

yeah, that's  what they call it....

yeah, that’s what they call it….

Later Saturday night hubby and I saw a movie. He got to pick. I picked Frozen last time, he picked, 300 Rise of an Empire. Let’s just say Frozen was better. I bring this up only because we ordered a medium Coca-Cola to split. A medium coke was 44 OZ!!! That just a little less than 2 average size bottles of wine! Is it just me or does that seem excessive.

)

Then we Hibachi’ed (in case you were wondering, it’s a verb now). The hibachi was exactly what you’d expect, lots of amazing food cooked in front of you. What I didn’t’ expect was the interesting Green Tea ice cream that followed the meal! um YUM! It had an interesting zing and creaminess all at once.

it looks funky but i assure you it's delicious

it looks funky but i assure you it’s delicious

Are you a fan of Beer? Do you ever use it for recovery? What’s your favorite? Are you also obsessed with Frozen? Do you love trying new crazy foods? What’s some of your favorite interesting foods?

It’s Friday and time to share a few of my favorites from this week. It’s been a long week, so I’m glad the weekend is here. I’m especially excited for this weekend cause I’m my 1 year anniversary with my husband on Sunday.

Onto Fav Friday, I’m crushing on a lot of things this week. Let’s just say, I’m all over the place.

1.)I found the shirt below in Target. It’s super soft and ONLY $10. I may have gone in to Target for 3 things and come out with an entire cart full, but who ever comes out of Target with just the items on their list. If you can do that, I admire your self-control. sparkle

2) iTunes Radio: I can’t stop listening. There’s no commercials and you can customize it more than Pandora/iheartradio. Here’s my stations (you can judge, I would if I were you).

mystations3.) Chapstick – Yeah I know it may sound strange. But yes, I’m currently obsessed with Chapstick, especially Chapstick, Hydration Lock 8hr. It’s the only thing that makes my lips non-chapped during the dry winter months. I swear by this stuff.

chapstick

4.) It’s almost Easter and that means one thing to me. Peeps. I love them. They are one of my favorite foods in the entire world. When I was younger my Nana signed me up for the Peep’s Fan Club (yeah that’s a thing). So I would say this has been a life long obsession that goes into overdrive around Easter.

blueberry green tea

5.) Blueberry Green Tea – In an effort to consume less caffeine, I switched to green tea after my first cup of coffee in the morning. It’s delightful. Not only does it taste good, but I don’t need sugar or milk to enhance the flavor. I’m not sure if it’s the blueberries, but I am hooked. I’m currently Crushing on both of these brands. Green tea has lots of health benefits too, including being high in anti-oxidants. 

the_republic_of_tea_blueberry_green_tea6.) RunDisney Cinderella Shoes – My good friend Amy, got these shoes for me at the Princess Half Marathon last month. Let’s talk about how pretty they are. The problem is, they are just so pretty I don’t want to use them. I’m a New Balance girl, so when Disney came out with these I got so excited. Now, I have to take that first step and get them well-worn. (They’re just so pretty)shoe

Have you every owned clothing or shoes so pretty you’re kind of afraid to ruin it? Are you obsessed with a seasonal treat too? Are you as dry as an alligator in the winter? Do you ever go into Target and come out 2 hours later wondering where did all these things come from?

The hubby and I have been experimenting with something called race-cations. It’s exactly like it sounds, a vacation centered around a race. We did that for OBX and Cape Cod a few years ago. It’s a really fun idea and you get to see parts of a new city you may never see.

Our next race-cation will be… drum roll please…. Disney World!! Yes, that’s right Walt Disney World. After lots of discussion, we will be running the Disney, Wine and Dine Half Marathon, during the Food and Wine Festival this November. (BTW… it’s already sold out)

someecards.com - Let's run 13.1 miles around Disney World because no trip to Disney is complete until someone cries.

When I think of some of my favorite things in the entire world, this event checks off quite a few. It’s got Wine, Running, Wine, Disney World, Wine, Fun Costumes, and did i mention Wine? Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better…. it did! One of my best friends, Rockymtpearls (Amy) and her husband will be joining us for the weekend! She and I will be running together! (She’s also amazing cause she and her husband introduced me to my hubby)

That’s really it! In 10 days I’m doing the RnR USA Half Marathon in Washington, DC and I’m excited! Training has had it’s ups and downs. Overall it’s gone well and I’m looking forward to brunch afterwards 🙂

Do you race-cation? Where have you gone? Is there a race-cation on your bucket list? Do you run with friends? 

We all reach those moments in training where we’re wondering why we continue to do this. Running requires intense dedication and a real willingness to want to succeed on your own. I don’t know about you, but I am constantly tempted to sleep in, skip a workout, or just help myself to another glass of wine/margaritas the night before a training run. I am guilty of committing all of these acts. Well the buck stops here… or something like that.

I go through this routinely every six months or so. I take roughly a week off, usually due to a small injury. Somehow I end up reflecting on what I am looking for out of running and my training program. What is my motivator? Why do I do this?

When society or some cynics think runners are a little unhinged, one can’t help but actually think about it. Are we? What motivates me to keep doing this?

Running my first half-marathon was a challenge to prove that I could do this, to someone who thought I couldn’t. Running my first marathon, was a rite of passage in my family and fulfilled a lifelong dream. But now what?

When taking my short hiatus, I had an epiphany. I’ve been running since I was 12 years old. That’s right. I started on my middle school track & field team. It’s second nature to me. As much as many of my goals have involved other people, the process of running has been to make me happy. It’s because I want to! I thoroughly enjoy running, it’s freeing. You can leave behind your thoughts, fears, and stresses when you lace up those shoes and hit the pavement. I need that time to myself. It’s a crazy, hectic world and running provides me familiar comfort, like visiting with an old friend.

That being said, I need to make running a greater priority. I already have running as a huge focus in my life, however I make my life plans, then organize training around that. In order to achieve all the I hope to in 2014 I need to plan more of my life around training.

Okay… that was my philosophical moment. I’m done. 🙂 Before you’re done though. In case you need a boost or some motivation, check out the video below featuring Jimmy Fallon & Paul Rudd in a lip-sync off. My favorite moment is at 4:21 where Paul Rudd dominates, Don’t Stop Me Now! I must admit the entire video is worth the watch! Happy Viewing!

Do you ever wonder why you run? What pulls you back in? When did you begin running? Is it just me or does Paul Rudd look like he hasn’t aged since Clueless?

Running races has become very popular. So popular in fact that many sell out in mere minutes. Unfortunately, this can become very frustrating. Yesterday, I got shut out of the 17.75km. Upon completion this would of guaranteed my entry into the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM). The race filled in 9 minutes!! That’s right 9 minutes! It opened at noon, while I was in a meeting not near a computer. By the time I pulled away it was 12:10 and the race was SOLD OUT. Since, this guaranteed your entry into MCM, I had a feeling it would be popular, therefore I had a friend signing me up at noon and even that didn’t happen.

BOOOOO!

BOOOOO!

What to do next… re-evaluate my race calendar. I will not be running the 17.75km, even though it was included as part of my larger training plan (leading to MCM). Since I am no longer sure I’ll be running MCM, it’s time to make back up plans.

Here’s what I came up with:

Run George Washington Parkway Classic on April 13. This would of conflicted with 17.75km. Now I can do this great race, that’s right by where I live. These will get me the miles I need without going too crazy. Additionally, I enjoy peppering racing into my training to keep it from getting too stale.

Look how pretty that is!

Look how pretty that is!

Now for which marathon do I run this year? I will still enter the MCM lottery opening February 23rd. However, I work with statistics everyday and I know those odds are not in my favor. Therefore, I’m going to up my odds. Last night I entered the raffle for the New York City Marathon. Which also does not have the best odds. If I do not get into either of those, I will be running the RNR Las Vegas Marathon. I’ve already made my bestie swear to travel out there and run it with me.

But here’s the glass half full issue. I’m doing the Baltimore Half Marathon already on October 20th. What do I do if I get into both MCM and NYCM? They are one week apart. To add a little extra stress to the situation, the hubby and myself are planning to do the Wine and Dine Disney Half Marathon on November 8th (fingers crossed we get in)! That would be 4 races in a row. The most I have done is 2 halves and a 10K back-to-back.

I have a lot to think about. Likelihood of getting into one of these races is slim at best. I’ve decided to revisit the situation if it ever becomes an issue.

Have you ever been shut out of a race that you really wanted to get into? Do you run back-to-back race weeks or days? Do you hate lotteries as much as I do?

So this is a little late, but with starting a new job. My whole schedule is being thrown off kilter. On Sunday February 9th, I ran the Pacer’s Valentine’s Day themed race, Love the Run You’re with 5K.

The premium was awesome. They gave us a blanket & those chalky traditional Valentine’s Day candy hearts. Yep. The race premium was a fleece blanket with an embroidered race logo. Did I mention the logo was a monkey. Just when I thought the blanket couldn’t get any better.

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Packet Pick up was a Pacer’s on Pentagon Row. I swung by after my Rock Creek Park exploration. It was super easy and very convenient.

Race morning my husband and I walked to the start. Yes, the start was .7 miles from our apartment so we strolled over (awesome).  The race organizers themed everyone’s bib. If you were single it was green, gold for it’s complicated, and red for in a relationship. There were cute nicknames too, like co-dependents, stupid cupid, and single n’ mingle.  (I think, but that last one doesn’t seem right.)

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The whole race was a sea pink and red. I forgot and wore purple. I love a good theme but can’t remember them all. Hubby warmed up while I stretched. My left shin has been bothering me, so I figured stretching would help.

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Race started on time. There were lots of cute costumed runners. One woman was dressed as a “love bug.” It made my day. Below is the course map. It was a standard out and back, no frills. We ran adjacent to 395 on a smaller neighborhood road lined with houses. racemaps

I had some major shin issues after the first 1.5 miles and ended up slowly jogging/momentarily walking parts, while stopping to stretch. I knew it wouldn’t be fast. This was more of a leisurely shake out jog to recover from the 8.5 miles of hills I had run the day before as part of training.

We finished in 38 minutes. It was fun. This is the first time my husband and I had run a race side-by-side and I enjoyed it. 🙂

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At the finish, they gave us water, bananas, and these cute little recovery boxes. They had tortilla chips, cheese, a fruit squeeze, dark chocolate covered blueberries, and a handi-wipe. I thought it was adorable.

love the run

Apparently, we both missed the pink and red memo! At least we stand out together!

Happy belated Valentine’s Day!

Did anyone else run a Valentine’s Day or President’s Day themed race? Do you ever run with your significant other? How to you shake out after a long run training day?

Everyone has that friend who spams their newsfeed with something that they’re not interested in right? Well recently I’ve been that person. I was linking all my wordpress posts to my Facebook page and driving everyone I know insane! So I started a Bake N’ Burn facebook page.  So if you want more day-to-day updates or links to things I think are fun check it out! If you couldn’t tell I’m pretty excited about it!! (I’m kind of obsessed with social media!)

Who’s excited?!? Oh yeah me!     source

The exciting news keeps coming! I’ve been selected to be a Ramblen Ambassador! “Ramblen is a digital media and mobile platform that will allow health and fitness-focused individuals to maintain their workout routine and healthy lifestyle while traveling in an unfamiliar city.  It will offer recommendations and mobile curation of information on running trails, lap pools, gyms, fitness classes, cycling routes, group fitness classes, health and fitness merchants and healthy restaurants.” I think this is a brilliant concept and I’m excited to be a part of it. I travel a lot for pleasure to many different areas and often find myself in unfamiliar territory. I don’t want to get completely out of my routine, therefore Ramblen is a great site!

Yep. That looks like my happy dance.     source

Do you travel a lot for work or pleasure? Do you enjoy traveling for racing? Are you also totally obsessed with social media?

On Saturday I decided to explore my own city. I’m FONZ (Friends of the National Zoo).  Therefore I get free parking at the National Zoo which happens to run along one of the most popular trails in the DC area, Rock Creek Park. I’ve been going to this zoo for a long time and often notice that runners go through it. So I figured why don’t I do a few miles on the trails and finish it up with a some hills in the zoo. I started this adventure this morning by myself and after I finished the trail portion I met up with my friend Christine and her boyfriend Rudy.

I started my morning out with a nice jog starting at the National Zoo and going south toward DC. I was surprised by the amount of nature. That may sound silly, but I assumed like many trails it was a paved road next to a highway. Wrong. There were portions that were highway adjacent but, for the most part it was quite beautiful.

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Truly gorgeous trail found in northern part of Washington DC

I found many bridges and large hillsides. Here I stumbled upon an exercise park… that people were actually using! So for good measure I did a few push ups. It seemed appropriate.

There were lots of little and rolling hills. In Miami, we didn’t have hills. We had bridges/causeways. I’m still acclimating to hills. My shins hate them.

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exercise park on the trail

I eventually returned to the zoo area and started to run up the massive hill. For anyone who hasn’t been to the National Zoo, let me give you a quick run through. It’s free. Great for joggers and easy to get to. Here’s the interesting part. It’s a point-to-point zoo with an entrance on both sides. If you enter from the Petting Zoo closer to Rock Creek Park your zoo journey begins uphill. If you enter from Connecticut Avenue via metro you begin on the downhill. The entire zoo is on a HUGE hill. So if you are looking to add hills to your workout cause you stink at them, like me… this is a great place to get in a few.

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Enormous bridges at Rock Creek Park Trail

For me there is only one flaw with running at the zoo. I love the animals and want to see them all. So when going uphill I take breaks to check out some of the exhibits. Today, I visited the baby tigers and the BABY PANDA!! Yes, that’s right DC has a baby panda. Her name is Bao Bao and she sleeps 20 hrs a day. But guess who was awake and playing at 11am on Saturday! This made my whole day.

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Yep! That’s a baby panda! 🙂

When I met up with Christine and Rudy we ran up the rest of the zoo and ran back down again! We then veered off for a few minutes to explore the trail north and get in a mile or so. Then we repeated our trek up the enormous hill. But this time grabbed some yummy Dunkin Coffee before making our way back down and heading home.

Overall it was a long but fun day. We explored a new area to run and I can’t wait to try it out again. In total I went 8.31 miles.

Christine and I at the zoo's Connecticut Avenue entrance. BTW... I'm on the right in the pink :)

Christine and I at the zoo’s Connecticut Avenue entrance. BTW… I’m on the right in the pink 🙂