October 24, 2014

Marine Corps Marathon: a different race day outfit

Choosing a running outfit that was appropriate for the Marine Corps Marathon was not a difficult task.  My red Sparkle Skirts running skirt was the first part of the outfit and adorning it with red, white and blue ribbon made it very patriotic.  You may remember that I wore this skirt for the Operation Homefront 5k in Virginia Beach in 2013.

 Wearing a shirt that had some kind of meaning was important for me.  There will be areas of the course to commemorate our fallen soldiers as well as many service men and women running the race. Honoring them with a specially designed shirt for the occasion seemed perfect. So my inspiration for this idea came from a chance meeting. This summer, a girl who I met in the corrals at a runDisney race was preparing to be deployed.  Rachel has a young family, with both a 9 month old daughter. and a 3 year old son.  Having to leave them behind while she serves our country was and is a huge sacrifice to both she, her husband, her children and extended family.  While there are many other soldiers doing the exact same thing, I became friendly with Rachel and wanted to honor her.  So here is the shirt that I designed with help from One More Mile.  I was thrilled when it arrived at my house.  It is perfect for race day.

Of course I need accessories too and those include gloves and a visor since the weather forecast looks perfect for race day, sunny and cool.

Love my new Brooks Ravenna shoes that match my outfit!

Now I just need to hurry up and get to DC for the Expo and race!  Who else will be there with me?

Disclosure: All parts of my race outfit were purchased by me.  I do love both Sparkle Skirts and One More Mile so I included links to their websites in this post. 

October 23, 2014

A visit to Brooks headquarters

If you have followed our blog for any length of time, you know that I am a huge fan of Brooks running shoes.  It is embarrassing how many pairs of Ravenna I have gone through in my short running career. When I realized that the brand new Brooks global headquarters building had just opened in Seattle, I was eager for a chance to visit.  We had a long weekend planned there to attend a wedding and this was my opportunity.  After trading a few tweets with @brooksrunning, Tom and I decided to pay a visit last Friday.  After getting a bus from our downtown Seattle hotel, we arrived at this spanking new building mid morning.  We were greeted by a friendly guard and sent up on the elevator to the 5th floor.  After speaking with a receptionist, we headed back downstairs to #trailhead, the name for the first and only Brooks store at the moment.  This place was beyond anything you could imagine. With enthusiastic staff and a fabulous layout, any runner would love to shop, stop to chat, or pick up a few supplies while out on a run.  With great planning this building location is adjacent to the Burke-Gilman Trail , a fantastic trail of 27 miles for runners and bikers.

So let's get started!

The entrance and reception area are very welcoming with loads of bright colors and of course shoes, lots of shoes

After chatting with Megan and her colleague at the trailhead store, soon Raffaela, the social media specialist, arrived to give us a tour of the headquarters building.  We started by learning about the building itself.  It was built with high energy efficiency and that spills over to the employees  While this building has five floors and elevators, it is rare to see an employee on the elevator.  The stairs are enclosed with glass and give you a birds eye view of the street and of course the opportunity to say hello to your fellow employees!  The windows are large and provide a great deal of natural light which saves on energy zapping light fixtures.  A special sculpture has been positioned in the lobby to show just how dedicated Brooks is to low energy consumption. This sculpture of brass flowers has the capability of revealing how well energy consumption is going at any given moment.  In a nutshell, if the flowers are in bloom, everything is going well.  Wilted flowers mean improvements are necessary!

One of the fun perks for employees is the Beastro, the lunch and snack place.  As expected, the chef makes great healthy food options and the atmosphere is even conducive for meetings,  In fact, a group of  eight was sitting around one of the tables when we visited so the only photo I took was this sign,

After rounding out the tour by seeing the rooftop deck that is used as a yoga studio during the warmer months, we headed back down to trailshead for photos and a look around the store. While this is a store and you can purchase shoes and clothing, it is really much much more.  The employees want to connect to with you as runners, not just as a potential sale that day.

lots of runner goodies

While out on a run, we all have moments when we wish we had an extra gel, some Body Glide on that spot we missed, or a tissue.  Brooks has this station set up in the store for those out running in the vicinity.  If you need anything, just check this box and you are most welcome to take what you need. I have a feeling you will get a little encouragement from the staff too, if you need to stop by for any of these items.

sunscreen, gels, bandaids, tissues, chapstick, Body Glide,gum and encouragement
And if you are in need of hydration, check this out.  How cool is the Nuun Hydration station?  There are numerous flavors to choose from and it is easy to make yourself a glass.  Perfect for hot summer days!

Thanks to Raffaela for showing us around and also to the staff at the store.  Next time I visit Seattle, I will definitely have to try running the Burke-Gilman Trail.  It sure beats the hotel treadmill!

With Raffaela and of course I am holding the Ravenna 5

October 22, 2014

It's Marine Corps Marathon week - getting ready

Last year Christine ran Marine Corps as her first marathon. After hearing many accolades and stories about the race, it seemed a perfect race for me to try this fall.  I can't wait to get to the starting line on Sunday, but in the meantime, have started to get ready. My goals for this week include lots of sleep, staying healthy and just a few short runs!

While resting up for race day, I have started to obsess over all the little details.  Packing for a race should be easy, but each time I seem to panic a bit about making sure everything is included in my bag.  Does anyone else have this problem?

Yes, I am that runner that starts the packing process way ahead of time! Since I have not added any new music to my shuffle over the last few months, it is time.  I found this iTunes card in my desk and plan to add a few new songs to my play list.

Figuring out where to dine in the DC metropolitan area should be easy.  The hotel has a nice restaurant and since it is located in Crystal City, we will have no trouble finding local places for healthy choices pre race.  Today I will try to make some reservations and hope it is not too late!

My outfit is complete thanks to these two packages arriving yesterday when we returned from our weekend in Seattle.  You can get a little idea of what I am wearing from the photo below.  It seemed the perfect race to honor our service men and women so yes, it is a red white a blue themed race outfit!

Last but not least, I am trying to get mentally in the zone for my 4th marathon.  Some night this week, I will watch "Spirit of the Marathon" for the 5th or 6th time.  It is the perfect movie to watch before a marathon.  "Spirit of the Marathon 2" is also very good!

Do you have any great tips for getting yourself ready for a marathon?  All advice is greatly appreciated!

October 21, 2014

Marine Corps Marathon Course: 11 Tips From Someone Who Has Been There

Without a doubt the Marine Corps Marathon has been one of my all-time favorite races.  Sure it was my first marathon so it has that going for it but I truly believe there's something really special about this race.  I'm really excited for Mom to experience it this weekend and I have a feeling she (and all of you) will love it!  I remember being a sponge for course information at this time last year and wanted to soak in every major moment so I figured I would share some insights from my experience on the course last year!

The Starting Line: No corrals here folks, you self-seed.  There will be large banners with estimated finish time so you can properly line up.  It's a zoo but it's truly organized, trust me on this one.  And it took us about 10-12 minutes to get across the starting line after the Howitzer was fired.

Roslyn (miles 1-3): This is where the big hills are, people.  Let them help you reign in your speed.  Roslyn will be packed with tons of spectators which is fun and I remember seeing some great signs last year.

Georgetown (miles 4.5-5.5): I remember some hills in here and lots of spectators.  What I actually remember most is that the road was really wet from a water station.  That's random, I know!

Rock Creek Parkway (miles 6-9.5): This part of the course was very crowded, but also very scenic.  You're running on a tree-lined road and there's little else to see except for runners on all sides of you.  Turn off your music and soak in the sounds of the thumping feet.  And be cautious of the hand cyclists.  Because of the hills in here, they definitely had challenges navigating the major crowds.

Kennedy Center (mile 10.5): We passed the Kennedy Center last year right after the orange slices stop and I remember this point well.  I anticipated seeing a friend spectating here, but she turned out to be elsewhere on the course.  There's great spectators in here.

Haines Point (miles 11-15): People warned me that this could be a tough area of the course.  If it's windy, you're likely to feel it because you're more exposed.  I really loved this section for a few reasons.  The Mile to Remember (mile 12) is incredible.  Do yourself (and your fellow Americans) a favor and turn off your music.  Take in the photos of the fallen service men and women.  Take in the line of American flags.  It's really moving. 

The Monuments and the Mall (miles 16-19): This was the most awesome section of the course for me.  I loved seeing the heart of DC and I also had some wonderful spectators on the mall.  The spectators are wall-to-wall on the course through this section so enjoy it.  You may laugh but you will need that crowd energy as you turn to head over the bridge.  Speaking of the bridge...

The 14th Street Bridge (mile 20): This may feel like the longest mile of the race.  The bridge can break you.  It is quiet.  There are no spectators and you have a 10k to go.  I tried to take in the views of Crystal City and stay upbeat.  When you come off the ramp off the bridge, don't look right....the finish line is that direction and it's too soon to start daydreaming about the finish. 

Crystal City (miles 22-24): You will get another small taste of hills through here.  Despite the crowds here, I found this section of the course to be very quiet.  In fact, I threw my hands in the air at one point and yelled at the crowd to cheer for us!  The best part of Crystal City is the munchkin station as you head back toward the Pentagon.  I wasn't feeling this last year but I know tons of people loved this aid station!

The Pentagon (mile 24.5): You'll exit Crystal City under the 395 overpass an run toward the Pentagon.  I remember this stretch from last year.  Feeling so close that I could almost taste the finish line Gatorade.  There's a great DJ set up in front of the Pentagon and a fabulous Marine who told us 1.2 miles to go when we got back on the onramp to the finish.

The finish (mile 26.2...duh!): I was warned about the final hill up to the finish line.  In my head, it was Everest and in reality, it wasn't that bad.  The crowds approaching the finish were INSANE and they were encroaching on the road quite a bit so be prepared for it to feel a bit narrow all of a sudden. 

If you're running the Marine Corps Marathon this weekend, I wish you the best day on earth!  This was one of the best days of my life and I hope it lives up to (my) hype!

Interested in reading more?  Here are a few of my posts from last year.
2013 Marine Corps Marathon Race Recap
My Top 5 Marine Corps Marathon Moments
Marine Corps Marathon by the Numbers
My Taper Plan

Are you running Marine Corps?  Getting excited??

October 19, 2014

Weekly Roundup - October 19th

I'm sitting here enjoying a homemade pumpkin spice latte, reveling in a fabulous run.  It was really the perfect fall day this morning - very cool to start, clear, blue skies, and signs of the season everywhere.  I saw many pumpkins, leaves dancing in the street, and acorns crunching underfoot.  It was one of those runs that reminds you why you love running.  It was effortless and a nice change of pace from the very forced long runs I've been doing in preparation for Richmond marathon.
View of the Battleship Wisconsin from my run today
We both had good weeks in terms of workouts.  Mom is counting down the days until Marine Corps Marathon (I really can't believe it's next weekend!) and I'm one long run away from taper town heading into Richmond.  Definitely an exciting few weeks ahead of racing for these girls!

Sunday October 12th
Pam:  travel day
Christine: 20 miles at 9:31 pace

Monday, October 13th
Pam:  Ran 4.25 miles, average pace 9:30
Christine: 15 min yoga sequence, lots of stretching (mostly a rest day)

Tuesday, October 14th
Pam:  30 minutes elliptical, weights
Christine: Ran 6 miles with hill repeats mixed in, average pace 8:53

Wednesday, October 15th
Pam: 8 mile long run (last before Marine Corps Marathon, average pace 9:45
Christine: 30 min tabata workout

Thursday, October 16th
Pam:  travel day
Christine: 4 miles at 9:05 pace

Friday, October 17th
Pam: 30 min hotel gym workout
Christine: Rest day

Saturday, October 18th
Pam: 30 min hotel gym workout
Christine: 2 hours yard work

October 17, 2014

Friday Five - Marathon Jams

I am always looking for new music so I was excited to see that the gals of the DC trifecta chose running songs as this week's Friday Five topic. Since I'm less than a month away from my next marathon, I figured I would share the songs that were my anthems for my past races and one that is a new jam.

1. Thinking about You, by Calvin Harris featuring Ayah Marar: This was my anthem for Marine Corps Marathon.  I listened to it on repeat for the last few miles...or at least I think I did...I'm not sure if there were many coherent thoughts over those last few miles!

2. Beautiful techno remix by Christina Aguilera: This was my training jam for Marine Corps.  I never really liked the original version of this song, but I could get on board with the techno version.  It's a good beat and a good message for running!

3. Call on Me, Ministry of Sound Remix by Eric Prydz: I first heard this song on the streets of London (literally) in the mid-2000s.  And ever since, it's been on my workout playlist.  It was the song that got me across the finish line for my first half marathon and became one of my jams during the final leg of the Dopey Challenge during last year's Walt Disney World Marathon.

4. Panama by Van Halen: Like my girl Kathryn, this one is a staple on my playlist.  I vividly remember hearing it around mile 6 or 7 during Marine Corps and feeling SO GOOD at that moment.  Whenever this song comes on, I'm able to channel that moment.  Music really is a powerful thing I tell ya!

5. Alive by Krewella: This has become my Richmond Marathon training song.  My buddy Kass originally recommended this song a while back when I was looking for some new music.  Not only do I love this song, but every time I hear it, I think of her and her speediness.  So that's some pretty good motivation if you ask me!

Thanks again for hosting another awesome Friday Five, Mar, Cynthia, and Courtney!  As I'm looking to complete my Richmond playlist, I would love some song suggestions that get you pumped!

October 16, 2014

Long Run Successes

On Sunday, I ran my longest run since last December - 20 miles.  I was a bit anxious about this run, mostly due to the distance but I was also curious to see how I would manage it from a pace standpoint.  I was really excited with my results.  It was my strongest run to date and I believe there are a few reasons that I felt pretty strong.  But let's be real here, it started with a temper tantrum because my Garmin wasn't tracking pace and then I realized I forgot my phone and had also locked myself out of the house...more on that another time...

Pretty happy with a successful 20 mile run!
I am guilty of not always fueling very well the night before a long run.  This weekend, I paid better attention.  I cooked a hearty (and also delicious!) gnocchi dish the night before and hydrated with Gatorade and water.  No beer for this girl! 

I'm learning how to zone out in the beginning of long runs.  Over my last few runs, I'm learning to turn on my brain and take my attention off my watch for the early miles.  I find that I'm usually surprised when I've already covered a substantial amount of the run without exerting much mental energy.  I'm hoping that this mental "training" will help me during the race.

I love nothing more than seeing other runners out while I'm on a run.  I saw at least a dozen on Sunday and most exchanged friendly smiles, a wave, or a hello.  I saw another woman who was clearly out for some miles (the Bondiband, Garmin, and hydration belt were dead giveaways...) and we exchanged a smile and a wave that seemed to say "you got it girl, keep going."  Every time I saw another runner, I got a mental boost.

But the biggest boost of all came when I turned into my last neighborhood that I would hit before I headed back to my own neighborhood.  I had already run through this neighborhood once and now I was in the home stretch - probably around mile 16 or so.  I noticed a man in his driveway getting out of his car.  As I approached his house, he said to me "you've been running at least 2 hours and I can only assume it's on purpose."  I responded, "Yes, sir.  I'm on a 20 mile run and I'm training for a marathon."  His response "You go girl."  Those 3 words propelled me the last 3-4 miles and I haven't ever felt better.  I don't know if he runs or if he just appreciated that I was pushing my physical limits for fun on a Sunday morning.  Either way, it meant the world to me. 

What motivates you when you're out on a long run?