Earlier this month, I ran the Shape Diva Dash in Frederick, MD with a friend. I am a huge fan of this race. In 2013, I ran this race with my mom and we had a blast. This race is billed as a Washington DC race however, it’s in Frederick, MD. For those that do not know Frederick is a good hour north of DC.

Frederick is not Washington, DC

Frederick is not Washington, DC

This 5K women’s obstacle race is set up in heats. When registering you choose which heat to run which would dictate what time you need to arrive. My heat was scheduled at 10am (the 1st non-competitive wave). My husband and I arrived a little after 9am to make sure we had time for me to grab my packet and park. We met up with friends who had gotten there a bit before us. The plan was the husbands could hang out while the wives kicked some butt on the course. Then afterward, we’d all grab a bite to eat together.

Packet pick up was a breeze. Walked right up grabbed my bib and buff. There were no shirts this year. (Which I thought was strange.) But, I do love the buff! We watched the competitive wave start and began to warm up for our heat. People watching is clutch as this event, because the team costumes were super cute and crazy creative. I loved it.

Our heat started at exactly 10am. (awesome) The entire course was on trail or field. We began through the woods. Unfortunately, I assumed the competitive wave meant these were the more elite-esque athletes. So I did not sign up for that wave. Had I known the non-competitive wave would feature many groups walking, I may have signed up as a competitor. Walking is cool, I do it sometimes, that’s aces in my book. However, on a narrow trail, it’s not alright to begin walking almost immediately and block the trail 5 people across so no one can pass. I wish it was more clear that walkers should stay to the right and allow space for passing. So for the first half mile, there was a lot of weaving. Then is when it began to drizzle, which felt really nice.

zoey Rain 2

The obstacles were a ton of fun. Some were made easier by the rain others more difficult. After the first mile, the group spread. We maintained a pretty steady jog the entire time then took our time on the obstacles. I’m proud to say we did every obstacle on the course, even forged a river. Okay it was only calf height, but still counts. Running on the trail was challenging but I truly enjoyed it. The last obstacle scared me a bit. We climbed a cargo net to a fireman pole. This situation would have been a ton of fun, had it not been raining. However, I just bit the bullet and slid down (fastest ride ever).

Overall, I had a great time. I really do enjoy this race and turns out I really like obstacle course races! I would absolutely run this race again (but maybe in the competitive wave).

Have you done the Shape Diva Dash? Are you a fan of obstacle courses? Any recommendations on good DC area obstacle runs?

(Video below is a glimpse at the event, from the Diva Dash website0

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Training has been progressing well. I saw a countdown yesterday that said 40 days till Marine Corps Marathon and I didn’t totally panic. At this point in training I have successfully completed 16 miles. Which is the longest I have run since I ran my last marathon 2 years ago. This weekend will be 18 miles. (eek) I am doing the Air Force Navy Half Marathon on Sunday so I plan on parking further away running to the start and running/walking back to the car.

On a few of my most recent long runs, I noticed something strange. I felt stronger, but my mind was telling me to slow down. This is relatively new for me. It was almost like I was psyching myself out in my head. This caused a down the rabbit hole effect which had me doubting myself pretty hard.

rabbithole

I know the saying goes, “Mind over Matter” but what about “Matter over Mind.” This could be where the phrase trust your training comes into play. While my lungs and legs feel amazing, my brain is telling me to go take a nap or find a mimosa. It’s like The Blerch has come out to play.

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source: The Oatmeal

On my last long run, I tried a few coping techniques. Some worked better than others.

  1. Runner’s Math: Want to distract yourself? Do runner’s math! When running a 16 miler it’s really only 2 10Ks and a 5 miler or 2 5 milers and 2 5Ks (roughly). If I continue to run at my current pace then I will finish in 2 hr and 45 minutes which would put me well within the time cut off. However if I slow down each mile by 15 secs that would put me…. you get the idea. This also works when trying to map out more mileage. I have run 5 miles thus far, if I take a loop around the White House that’s another 1.5 miles but if I go around the Capitol, I could get another 4… screw it, I’ll just do them both.
  2. Music: Gives me life. This was very successful. If I update my playlist regularly, I can make sure that I fill up spotify with songs that are energetic and help me power through. This has been very helpful in keeping me focused on finishing strong.
  3. People Watch: I love to people watch. Not only do I love people watching, I love to create an entire life story for those that I see around me. This is quite fun. While running in DC there’s no shortage of people to watch. In case you were curious that stories are usually fanciful and fantastic. 🙂
  4. AudioBooks: This was horrible and did NOT work for me. At all. (Also could be because I was listening to Jane Austen.)
  5. Explore: I like to park at Gravelly Point Park when doing my long runs. But it also helps keep things fresh if I don’t run the same exact path every time. So I have been exploring different paths to run in DC.

Any tips on how to beat the negative talk? Has this ever happened during your training? 

Some of you may recall a list of power songs that I created last year around race season. Well I’ve decided to do a refresh. With a new race season approaching, I figured my playlist needed an updated. Naturally, I thought I would share the top 5 songs that are getting my moving these days.

  1. Suave (Kiss Me) – Nayer Featuring Pitbull & Mohombi

We all know I love Pitbull more than is socially acceptable. The beat of this song is just perfect for my candence and it’s so fun. How could you not want to pick up the pace when this starts playing?!?

2. Drunken Lullabie – Flogging Molly

This song is great on it’s own. I never thought of adding it to the list until spotify’s running feature recommended it. Now I’m hooked!

3. Piensas (Dile la Verdad) – Pitbull

What?? Another Pitbull song! Listen to it first and make it to the chorus. I swear everytime I hear this song I have to stop myself from dancing. Sometimes, I just can’t help it. (To that car that pointed me out last weekend… Hello!)

4. Holding Out for a Hero – Bonnie Tyler (From Footloose)

I don’t know what it is about that song. Maybe it’s the rad 80s vibe… but I hear this and immediately perk up. Weird. I know. Also, this video. Wow.

5. Knights of Cydonia – Muse

The first 51 seconds of this song lulls a bit. But after that, it’s a fantastic song that just comes at you. (Did that make any sense?) I love Muse and almost always have a few of their songs on my playlist.

6. Love Runs Out – OneRepublic

I couldn’t pick just 5, so here’s a bonus! This song has the best beat and it’s just super fun.

I am in the process of making a Marine Corps Marathon specific power playlist with uplifting songs. It will need to be retooled because I tried it out 2 weeks ago and got the feels. Too much.

Also tried listing to audiobooks. I don’t know how people do it. I ended up heavily invested in the book and not concentrating on running.

Any power songs suggestions? Any inspirational song suggestions? What are you currently listing to? Are you judging my taste in music…? (it’s cool I would too)

It’s happening. No it’s really happening. The last 3 weeks of training have been exhausting but successful. I have managed to get all but one long run completed. This weekend I’m preparing to tackle 16 miles… (omg). I’ve learned that preparing for the run can make the experience much more enjoyable. I’m a bit of a type A, so it kind of makes sense.

Do you not organize your gu's by flavor?

Do you not organize your gu’s by flavor?

In between the running, I have incorporated more cross training. It just helps me feel stronger. I don’t know if I’m alone here, but doing a yoga class or barre goes a long way for me. Also, I am crazy tight, so the yoga is clutch. ( I may need to do more yoga.)

My week looks something like this now:

Monday – REST 🙂

Tuesday – Cardio/Running

Wednesday – Cross Training (Yoga, Barre)

Thursday – Cardio Running & some strength training

Friday – REST or active rest (depends on week)

Saturday – RUN (All the Miles!)

Sunday – A fun fitness activity (Kayaking, apple picking, yoga etc….)

It’s hard to believe the Marine Corps Marathon is less than 2 months away! This is insane. (AH!)

Eye on the Prize!

Eye on the Prize!

How has your training been going? Before you ran a marathon, when did it hit you that you were going to run a marathon? Also any MCM tips? 

My last 2 weeks have been spent in Florida, in that tropical sun, heat, and humidity. My first week was spent in Orlando for a business trip. I goaled myself to complete 1 workout… and success!! I completed 2! Hey that’s a big deal when you’re committed to 16+ hour workdays. I know it’s sounds cliché, but when you enjoy what you do, it’s not hard to push yourself.

Anyway while in Orlando I squeezed in a 3 mile run one evening and a quick in room yoga session another evening. I was on my feet for a lot of the days, so I was happy to have gotten in some kind of exercise.

It happened. That's all that matters.

It happened. That’s all that matters.

After finishing up my business trip, I traveled down to Ft. Lauderdale to meet up with family before continuing onto Key West for a family wedding. I am an active person while on vacation, which occasionally drives who am with nuts. If you ever want to go on vacation and not relax, take me with you. Once in Key West, we had a blast but naturally I wanted to go do all the things. This included walking everywhere, renting bikes, visiting the aquarium, going for a run, and paddleboarding. (I had a longer list, but was convinced to condense it.)

My run in Key West was challenging for many reasons. It was 900 degrees with the humidity of a sauna. I’m glad I did it, unfortunately, it was 2 miles short of my planned run. We all make adjustments, which is why I dragged my husband on a long walk later that day to get some more miles under my feet.

I didn't even bother doing my hair

I didn’t even bother doing my hair

If you haven’t tried paddleboarding I highly recommend it. It’s a fantastic workout. My hubby had a bit of trouble on the board here and there. I grew up by the ocean, so I am familiar with surfboards and paddleboards. Unfortunately, my hubris got the best of me… I saw him fall and began to laugh…. which caused me to fall off too.

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If you’re ever in Key West I recommend the following: Cuban Coffee Queen, Hog’s Breath, Fat Tuesday (Pina Colada), renting bikes, venturing out to Smather’s Beach, Key Lime Pie at Kermit’s, doing a Sunset Cruise and Paddleboarding. My Aunt’s wedding was on a sunset cruise and it was fantastic. I included a pic below of the fam. (I’m in green towards the back.)

Family Pic post wedding!

Family Pic post wedding!

coconut

Freshest coconut water ever. I could drink this all day everyday.

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More juice from the source, mile marker 0, and some fun family shots.

concch

Hola Havana!

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so good! my fav place is next to the Aquarium near Mallory Square.

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Chilling with my lil’ cousin in Del Ray after Key West before returning back up to DC.

For more pics, check me out on Twitter or Instagram!!

Now that I’m back, it means marathon training is kicking into high gear. Thankfully I was able to keep my fitness level up while out-of-town, but now it’s time to really get mileage under my legs. I feel good and I’m looking forward to continuing this amazing journey.

How do you balance exercise while out-of-town? Do you love Key West too? Are you also go go go while on vacation and drive your friends/family insane?

Do you ever have those weeks in your life where everything happens at once? It’s your busy season at work, you have things to do in your home, your friends and family have things going on AND you’re marathon training… or is that just me?!? Marathon training weeks 3-6 have flown by. Just because I haven’t been blogging doesn’t mean I haven’t been logging the miles. Unfortunately, something had a to take it hit this month and it was putting the pen to paper (or the fingers to the keys).

I wish I had pink hair #lifegoals

I wish I had pink hair #lifegoals

The good news is my long runs are on track with my training run. I only missed one weekend’s long run 3 weeks ago because I felt like a trash can. Sometimes it’s better not to torture yourself.. right?

This week’s training will be a challenge too. This is my busy week at work. I am not even home, I’m currently in Orlando. After I leave here next week, I will be going further south in Florida to Key West for a family wedding. So we shall see how this week goes, I’ll take any form of exercise as a win while in Orlando, but have already prepped the family that I will be running circles around Key West (which I am actually looking forward to).

All flat, along the beach... this is what I'll look like on next week's run.

All flat, along the beach… this is what I’ll look like on next week’s run.

Also anyone else going through those marathon training kinks where your body is getting use to the increase miles and therefore hurts (in general)? It’s nothing serious just a general soreness. I remember this feeling from training for my first marathon. I am taking this training season more seriously, which could be why I’m more aware. Anyway just seeing if anyone else can commiserate.

How’s your training? How do you exercise while on a work trip? 

Everything that I have read regarding training stresses the importance of the weekend long run. I understand that and do not question the methodology. So no matter what I do each weekend, I know that at some point I will be squeezing in my miles. However, despite planning to accomplish these mile every Saturday, sometimes my schedule changes and I have to be flexible.

Monday June 15th: At home DVD with strength training

Tuesday June 16th: HIIT Workout & Yoga

Wednesday June 17th: 2 maintenance Miles

Thursday June 18th: REST

Friday June 19th: Core Strengthening Yoga

Saturday June 20th: REST

Sunday June 21st: 6 Mile Long Run

On Friday night, instead of going to bed early like any good runner who’s marathon training would… I decided to go to a movie. Well not just any movie! I went to see Back to the Future (my all-time favorite movie) at Wolf Trap with the National Symphony Orchestra playing LIVE! It was totally worth it.

This is me... I may exercise in the AM a lot but I am not a morning person. So Sunday morning, I begrudgingly crawled out of bed.

This is me… on Saturday after going to bed at 1am.

However, I did get to meet this little guy on Sunday AM.

Wise words Marty.

Wise words Marty.

How was your week? What’s your favorite movie? Do you ever find your self doing some adjusting to your training schedule?

Hello All! So it begins! Last week marked the start of my 19 week training program for the Marine Corps Marathon. 19 weeks is a long time, you say? Yes, I know. In order to avoid injury, I have decided to undergo a novice training program that allows me to gradually increase my miles while incorporating strength training and crossing training.

It's time to run.  A lot. For long periods of time.

It’s time to run. A lot. For long periods of time.

Saturday June 6 – 6 Miles

Sunday June 7 – REST

Monday June 8 – Vinyasa Flow Yoga

Tuesday June 9 – 2  Treadmill Maintenance Miles

Wednesday June 10 – 3 Outdoor Miles on Mt. Vernon Trail

Thursday June 11 – Unplanned Rest day to deal with crazy allergies (my eye socket actually was swollen!)

Friday June 12 – Rest (still recouping my face)

Saturday June 13 – 5 Miles

Besides my allergies attacking it was a pretty solid week one for marathon training. I am happy with my runs and have begun to see progress due to the strength and cross training I have been doing all spring. IMG_6152

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Seeing a historic ship while on the run… Welcome to Old Town Alexandria.

another training season... it was nice seeing friends and family while I had the chance :)

another training season… it was nice seeing friends and family while I had the chance 🙂

Who else is marathon training? Who is Half Marathon Training? Anyone else going to be at Marine Corps Marathon? What do you do to cross train? Also are your allergies just awful, how to you deal?

The Asheville Marathon and Half Marathon at the Biltmore Estate takes place in March. This year I had the pleasure of being able to complete the race as an ambassador. My husband and I made the 8 hour drive from Washington DC to Asheville, NC the Thursday before the race. We’d heard such great things about the area and wanted to be able to explore a bit before the race. Thankfully, the hubby wasn’t running this race so he was the driver to and from North Carolina.

We spent Friday exploring Downtown Asheville. We shopped, ate, and drank in the city and it was glorious. Friday evening our good friends made the trip down to run the race as well.  On Saturday we woke up early to hit Biscuit Head, the expo, then visit Biltmore Estate. At the Expo, I picked up my tech tee, buff, and bib. I also decided to purchase 2 bottles of the specialty bottled race wine from Biltmore.

Fun Fact: If you’re over 21, you’re Biltmore entrance includes a wine tasting… AMAZING!!

The city is full of fun archetectual accents.

The city is full of fun archetectual accents.


It's always a good time for Mellow Mushroom

It’s always a good time for Mellow Mushroom


Ugh. I hate clowns.

Ugh. I hate clowns.


Expo Time!

Expo Time!


Best. Biscuits. Ever.

Best. Biscuits. Ever.


Yes, this was our table number.

Yes, this was our table number.


Yum, Biltmore Wine.

Yum, Biltmore Wine.


This was the place to be on Saturday.

This was the place to be on Saturday.


Obviously my descriptions are clearly from an expert.... (meh...)

Obviously my descriptions are clearly from an expert…. (meh…)


Hubby carrying the important packages.

Hubby carrying the important packages. We may have taken home 6 bottles….

The Asheville Half Marathon was one of the most beautiful courses I have ever run. The entire estate is closed off in the early AM for runners. The race was run very well and was definitely different from the more urban course I usually run around Washington DC. I took over 90 photos on the course that day. So instead of my usual recap, I decided to make a slideshow of the race. Hopefully, this will give a better feel for the race.

Overall this was a fun race. I got to join a friend of mine for his very first half marathon on a truly visually stunning course. The boutique race included a long sleeve tech tee, race buff, embroidered fleece blanket and unique wooden medal. I enjoyed my experience in Asheville and would recommend this race to everyone.

Disclaimer: I was provided a complimentary race entry to Asheville Marathon & Half Marathon, but all opinions are my own!

Have you ever run in Asheville before? Ever been to Biltmore? What do you think of the slideshow… better with more pictures? & What was your first half marathon?

The Zooma Annapolis Half Marathon and 10K took place the weekend after Memorial Day. My bestie and I decided to make a weekend out of the event. So we booked a hotel room walking distance from the race on Main Street. I met up with my fellow Race Ambassadors on Friday evening for some chit chat and delicious bites are BAROAK

Ambassadors at BAROAK

Ambassadors at BAROAK                                    photo courtesy of yousignedupforwhat

After the meet up, I headed towards Level to meet up with Rachel and Justine for more food. On the way, I bumped into my friend Christine and her mama, who were running the 10K in the morning and made plans to meet up and walk over together. Unfortunately, I was a bit nauseous at the time so I just munched on bread and soda water at the restaurant.

The Zooma swag bag did not disappoint. We got a tech tee, journal, and features socks all in a recyclable Zooma bag.

Race morning we were up bright and early. We made it to Dunkin Donuts at 6:10 AM and they were closed. (disappointing doesn’t even begin to cover it. So we collected ourselves and started the mile-ish walk over to the start.

Course map

Course map

Before the start, I met up with some friends running either the 10K or the half. At this point, most of us were already sweating. The humidity was out of control and the sun was shining bright.

The whole gang pre-race

The whole gang pre-race.

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In our delusional AM state, we thought this was funny. (and I still think it is!) HAHA 7min miles… right away

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Thus begins the onslaught on Snaps!

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GU… YUM?

1 Mile down... 12 to go!

1 Mile down… 12 to go!

Mile 3 at the Waterfront

Mile 3 at the Waterfront. Not sure what I’m doing with my body. 

Miles 1- 5.5 have gently rolling hills and runs through the more historic district of Annapolis. It was beautiful.

Once at the bridge, we could steady feel the heat starting to rise and it definitely started to take it’s toll. By mile 6, I was walking a lot more and walked almost every hill I saw.

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OMG. Hills. Hills. Hills.

On the back half of the half marathon the hills were challenging. Like so challenging. Between the heat and the sun, I was spent by mile 8. It was here that I readjusted my goals. No longer was a running for time, I was going to just finish. The last time I was this warm at I race I fainted at the end. In order to avoid that, I began to just enjoy the experience.

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Hills from the back half of the course.

Volunteers on the course were fantastic. They were so supportive and had some fantastic signs, like the one below.

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Loved the fantastic race volunteers

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View from the bridge.

At the end, I am glad that I finished. It was one of my slowest races, but I finished. This was a tough race for me, and it was tough to choose to take it easy. However, I am glad that I listened to my body.

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We finished and didn’t melt completely.

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Love the Zooma Bling.

After the race we stopped by the Barefoot wine stand for some much deserved libations! Once done, we made our way back to the hotel for showers. We cleaned up and began to hit the town! Annapolis is a fantastic city and it’s the perfect place for a girlie weekend.

Overall I enjoyed the experience and would totally run it again. However, this time I would either run the 10K or prepare on hills a bit more. I would recommend Zooma races to all women. It is such a welcoming group that I am proud to be a part to it.

Thanks Zooma for letting me participate in this race as am Ambassador! I had a fantastic experience.

Have ever run a Zooma race? Ever run a race in Annapolis? Would you do the Half or 10K? What’s your thoughts on hills? Heat? or Humidity?

Disclaimer: I am being providing complimentary race entry to Zooma Annapolis, but all opinions are my own!