Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in Review

2013 sure was a crazy year!  


It was my first year of blogging.  I started just after the new year!  Thanks for joining along for the ride.


I ran my first full marathon at Rock n Roll Nation's Capitol.  While I was happy with my accomplishment, I wasn't thrilled with the race itself.  

"Mostly, I learned a lot about myself.  I can do anything.  That is truly how I feel right now, on top of the world!  I never thought I could run a marathon, ever.  But I did it.  It scared me.  Even as I signed up back in November, it terrified me.  All through training, I had moments of self doubt...I asked myself why am I doing this?  Could I actually run 26.2 miles?  Everyone is stronger than they realize.  They just have to not be afraid to put themselves to the test!"


After the marathon, found me with an unexplained injury that required two MRIs, physical therapy on the Alter G treadmill and THREE MONTHS off from running :-(.  Blog here: Journeying Into Recovery and here: Recovery Update

"So... To say I've been down in the dumps over my injury would be correct.  It's been tough. One of my friends, hit the nail on the head when she said "I understand why this must be so hard for you. Running is a part of who you are and these last two years, you've really defined yourself as a runner. And now, you can't do something that has become a part of who you are/how you describe yourself".  It makes it hard also to see goals that I've worked so hard for in sweat, time, workouts, miles- slip away.  My 1:45 half this summer, my sub 22 5k and qualifying for Boston at a 3:35 Marathon before Sept 2013 in order to register for 2014.  With no running since March, these are pipe dreams right now."

I ran my first Cherry Blossom Ten Miler- a DC institution!  


"When we were out on the island, there was a group who had set up their own mock hydration station handing out cups of beer and oreos.  I didn't take any, but I sure thought it was funny.  There was a couple dressed as Ketchup and Mustard cheering on runners with a sign that said, "Runners are beating you, Go Catch Up!"....I yelled to them, "I get it!" and the Mustard yelled back, "Relish the moment!".  I ran a few hundred yards before it really sunk in and I giggled....I got that one a bit late!  Another woman was holding a sign that read, "Holler if you aren't wearing underwear!"...Of course I had to!  I love creative signs and great spectators.  That really added to the course.  Without any family that lives in the area, we never have our own spectators, but I love reading everyone else's signs and pretend they are cheering for me!"

My family was spectating at the Boston Marathon when the horrible events unfolded.  My blog here: Boston Marathon Tragedy


 "My thoughts go out to those who lost their lives Monday.  Those who are hurt, gravely so.  My heart is hurting.  This was senseless and all I can ask is WHY?  This was a day to celebrate life, health and happiness...many running in memory of love ones they have lost to tragedy and illness.  A day like this to end the way it did, breaks my heart and leaves an emptiness. "

I ran my first Nike Women's Half DC and received my very first Tiffany Co. Necklace!  

"It was just AWESOME.  Thanks, Nike.  I am hoping I am lucky enough to get in via lottery again next year!  Laces Crossed! And until then, I will be wearing my necklace as much as possible as a  reminder that we can all overcome the challenges set before us"

I came back off injury with running some great fall races!  PR'd by 4 mins in the Navy Air Force Half and Smuttynose Half Marathon and placed first in my age group at the Ellen's Run 5k.  



Since I loved Nike DC so much, I ran Nike San Fran!


"we met up with Colene from Distant Runners again and her boyfriend Todd in town from Oregon for happy hour in our hotel lobby.  They are such great people!  Colene was going to run the full, but was dealing with a stress fracture in her foot and diverted to the half finish.  Her story here. "

My runs started to take a back seat through the fall as the businesses of re-entering the world of teaching and coaching my school's Girls on the Run team twice a week.  Due to my Morton's Nueroma, I was getting alcohol injections in my feet once a week which would cause two days of no running due to soreness.  

 I seriously considered deferring my registration for the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon due to lack of training.  I had only run my longest run of 13 miles in the previous 8 weeks but I still rocked it and had a BLAST!  


"You enter the chute and a Marine shakes your hand and places the medal over your neck.  My Marine gave me my medal and I said to him, "I am a hugger" and gave him a huge hug instead of the handshake!"

In November, I ran the Annapolis Half Marathon.  HARD course but great after-party! 


"Unlimited craft brews and a fantastic band called the Dublin 5.  Immediately after the race, I said I wouldn't run it again, but the finishers party made me change my mind!  It was so fun, I will run next year just for the party and bring more friends with me!  We called to extend our sitter for an extra hour (worth the $20!) so we could stay longer :-)"

This month, I was featured as one of 50 Awesome People on the DC Fitness Community and One of the Top 5 Most Shared Fitness Interviews by Active DC.  


What will 2014 bring?  I'm thinking another full marathon, getting my personal training certification, my RRCA Running Coach certification and my health coach certification.  I have my fingers crossed to be chosen as a Lululemon ambassador, a Zooma Ambassador and being chosen for Nuun Hydrations Hood to Coast Relay Team!  

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Race Review: Smuttynose Half Marathon Hampton, NH October 2013

Setting: Seacoast of New Hampshire, October 2013
Cost/Registration:  $75
We flew up from DC and arrived at the Manchester/Boston Regional Airport.  As a former Wildcat, I had to get a picture with the sign!  And we headed out to the seacoast.  We made a stop at UNH campus where I converted my two loves into Wildcat fans as well!

We met up with my cousins who had flewn in from Raleigh and Charleston so we could all run the half marathon together. 

Packet pick up and expo was located in tents along the beach in Hampton.  We got our packets and took a group photo.  We were staying at the beach and the cousins were staying back in Manchester, so we said goodbye for the evening and that we would see them in the morning.  

The Race:  When we got up in the morning, it was a bit chilly and definitely windy.  I realized that I have no pictures from the start of the race!  It was nice because our beach front hotel was right at the start, so we stayed inside in the warmth until the last minute and didn't have to worry about porta potties, traffic coming into the beach or parking. 

The race travels against the wind down the shore for the first two or so miles.  It was such a strong headwind that I laughed outloud and threw all thoughts of PR out the window, or to the wind if you will!  I passed the first set of porta potties about mile 3 and there was no line so I decided to go even though I didn't have to very badly, but didn't want to waste this opportunity. 

We continued to travel through neighborhoods around Hampton.

It was a "loop" course where we ended up back up on Rt. 1A by mile 9. This was my favorite part of the course!  This is where my rockstar friend Amy was out in full force in the cold and rain to cheer me and a few other friends on.  She is amazing for doing so...pregnant and all!  Seeing her and her amazing sign really gave me some pep in my step.  I was grinning from ear to ear for the next few miles!  I LOVE seeing people I know at a race!
Amy Warner is an amazing friend! 
   We were able to enjoy unobstructed views of the ocean and the gorgeous seaside mansions. Then we travel ran past North Hampton State Beach where some hardy souls were riding the waves.  It was a great run and course for me, because I spent so much time in this area when I was in college.  The seacoast of NH will always hold a special place in my heart.  We got engaged on a snow covered bridge at UNH (even though we were living in San Diego at the time) and we got married in Rye, NH (even though we were living in San Diego at the time).  We just love the NH Seacoast!

Finally we turned a corner and off in the distance I could see the tent at the finish at Hampton Beach.    I crossed the finish line and found my husband, daughter and mom.  Jim had finished about 20 minutes ahead of me and they were able to see me cross the finish line. 

The rain is holding off....but not for long!
The rain really started coming down and it became a bit miserable! 
Laura and I - UNH buddies and bloggers!  Follow Laura at I Tri Training.  She ran a great race!
We enjoyed our complimentary Smuttynose Beers, Clam chowder and Lobster Rolls while shivering in the cold rain!  It would have been a much better after party if the weather had held off...but I know we can't control that!  We decided to go get lunch as a group and enjoy some additional warm soup and beer inside where it was dry and warm at a local beachfront  restaurant. 
When I got my official results back, I realized it was a PR....a PR by a few seconds, but a PR non the less! 

And the medal!  I have always loved Smuttynose because the Harbor Seal is adorable!  I don't have a picture of the shirt unfortunately because as soon as I got, I gave it to my mom.  The small was too big for me and so I knew I wouldn't wear it.  They had a women's and a men's shirt.  The women's shirt was pink (was I was not a fan of), but the men's shirt was black with lime green sides, which was much better in my opinion but they did not come small enough. 

Grade: A  Great course, not crowded, great after-party.  If you are considering this race, I say GO FOR IT! 

I was tempted to run this as a full, but I was already doing Marine Corps Marathon in DC that same month.  I was drawn by the finisher's jackets they had given full finishers the year prior, but it turns out this year they did gym bags instead.  And it looks like for 2014, the full may be scrapped altogether because they are having trouble getting local approval from some of the towns the course passes through. 

Product Review: Nike Lunarglides

I have gotten a lot of questions about what shoes I run in.  I love my Nike Lunarglides!  I started with the Lunarglide 4 and am now wearing the current version of the 5.  (4s can still be found at Nike outlets for a lot cheaper!)

I even wore them for my last full at Marine Corps Marathon.  They've pulled me through my last three halfs and many more shorter distances.  

I used to wear aasics, but I am a total convert now!
The Lunarglides are so much lighter weighing only 8.1 ounces.  You can read more about them directly from Nike here: http://store.nike.com/us/en_us/pd/lunarglide-5-running-shoe/pid-776908/pgid-745942
The come in a much trendier design than my previous aasics and in much more on trend colors as well. 

The Lunarglides have no seam on the sides of the fore foot which has helped me with my Morton's Nueroma because I can spread my toes wide while inside the shoe and there is no pressure squeezing my forefoot together on the sides. 
Overall, I have been very happy with them.  Head to your local running store (or Nike Flagship store if you are lucky enough to live near one like me in DC!) and test ride a pair today!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Giveaway Alert! Runner's Stocking Stuffers....Two Lovely Heads Up Bands and Gu!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter to win!  Keep them for yourself, or pass along and stick in the stocking of your favorite runner!

I was fortunate enough to recently try Heads Up Bands.  They make great non-slip headbands in a variety of colors and designs.  I got a few different designs and tested them out in a few different ways.

A day of running errands?  No slip!  Didn't even have to readjust once!

An hour of intense yoga?  No slip!  Wahoo!

14 mile run?  Oh baby, it stayed in place! 

Most headbands, my hair just doesn't seem to want to keep them in and they slide back along my head and I have to catch them before they fall off.  Not a good distraction when doing yoga or out for a run!  These headbands use a velvety inside and somehow it works like magic to stay in place...much better than bands with the silicone grippers.

If you get a chance to check them out, swing by their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/HeadsUpBands and tell them Live Free And Run sent you!  They have a contest going on to win additional bands as well!

Their designs range from preppy prints, to sparkley, to sporty and they even have 13.1 and 26.2 bands!  I know a lot of you are racing those distances in the near future and they make great GIFTS!

Go check them out and you will be happy you did.  I have been very pleased with my bands!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Race Review: Annapolis Running Classic

Packet Pick-Up: This race had a really nice option of being able to select a local running store to pick up your packet at the week before.  We selected City Sports Silver Spring and were able to pick them up on our way to dinner downtown.  During pick-up with your bib it entitled you to 20% off anything in the store.  Pretty neat and I love City Sports!

Race Setting:  Naval Academy stadium, downtown Annapolis Maryland and rural roads outside downtown.  A brisk 42 degree start.

Race Course:  This was a tough 13.1 course.  It was a partial out and back so we had to tackle the big bridge twice.  Aside from the bridge, there wasn't many stretches on the course that were flat.  Not a PR course.  We weren't able to locate a good course profile prior to the race, so I did not feel prepared for those hills!

The Race: We got dressed and had the babysitter arrive at 5:45am. 
We drove out to Annapolis in the dark.  The downside of this race was the traffic trying to get into Annapolis and the stadium.  There was only one way in. We started to get nervous we wouldn't make it before they closed the road!  We ended up not risking it and parked in a neighborhood outside the stadium and ran to the stadium, which helped us hit some no line porta-potties on the opposite side of the stadium.  They were ripe...so I'm assuming they had been there since the last big game!  :-)
The small field size of 3,000 runners made the start corrals very easy to navigate.  They weren't seeded by pace but that it didn't seem terrible.  It was pretty spread out and I had lots of room to stretch and move around.

And at 7 am, we were off!  

We headed towards downtown and ran through the historic streets and by the waterfront.  As we ran down the Main St, I did a bit of window shopping as I ran.  Great stores and a very cute set of holiday jammies in the window at the Hatley store that I want to go back for!
The course had a lot of turn arounds which made it confusing to keep track of where I was on course and if the runners going the opposite direction were ahead of me or behind me.  I was able to catch Jim twice on the course.  I have him a high five as he zoomed past at mile 3.5 and then when I was headed up hill at mile 7.5 and he was headed down, I was able to shout to him that he was 25th overall and to keep up the good work!

I felt the whole course we were either headed up a hill or down one and it was wearing my body out!  I stopped at a water stop at mile 8 to take my Cliff Shot and some water.  I walked a bit as I swallowed it all down.  

I stopped again around mile 10 to stretch.  My knee and hip were feeling sore and tight...all those hills!  

The views of the water and skyline on the bridge were beautiful.  I had to remind myself to take it in and not stare at the ground!  

The finish headed into the stadium parking lot and that last .5 miles had no views and seemed to go on forever!  I ended up finishing almost five minutes slower than my half in October.

Jim met me at the finish line (He got 14th overall male!) and I attempted to stretch out my hip and knee.  They were really sore and tight.  We went to go pick up our finishers items: long sleeve tech tee and tech socks.  Then we headed into the finishers tent.  Amazing! 


Unlimited craft brews and a fantastic band called the Dublin 5.  Immediately after the race, I said I wouldn't run it again, but the finishers party made me change my mind!  It was so fun, I will run next year just for the party and bring more friends with me!  We called to extend our sitter for an extra hour (worth the $20!) so we could stay longer :-)

Then we headed home to relieve the sitter and I attempted to nap since I hadn't been feeling great all week, starting last Sunday.  I took a sick day Tuesday and had a strep test come back negative on Friday.  The doctor said even without strep I definitely had some post nasal drip going on that she noticed immediately when looking at my throat.  So that may have contributed to my slow time as well.  

Grade: B tough course, but amazing party!  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Janji "Run for Another" Giveaway

If you haven't heard of Janji and their mission....they are trying to create change through running gear you'd be buying anyway.  (Similar to Toms shoes).

I am giving away a pair of Run for Rwanda shorts made by Janji.

Enter the giveaway and they can be yours!  They are listed as a "x-small" but they fit closer to a S-M of other brands.  They are a beautiful light blue with green and yellow detail...just like the flag of Rwanda.  The best part?  Each purchase of this particular short provides 3 days worth of nutritional medicine to a child in Rwanda. 

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Maple Syrup and Walnuts


1 ½ pounds brussel sprouts

¼ cup olive oil

¾ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon (or 10 grinds of) black pepper

2 tablespoons maple syrup

½ cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped in food processor


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

To prepare the brussel sprouts, remove any yellow or brown outer leaves, cut off the stems, and cut in half.

In a large bowl, toss the brussel sprouts, olive oil, salt, and pepper together. Once all of the brussel sprouts are coated in oil, spread them into a 9×13 (or larger) baking dish or sheet tray to roast. Note: You may want to line your sheet tray with foil for easy cleanup because the caramelizing process leaves a sticky residue.

After 15 minutes, stir the brussel sprouts around with a spatula or large spoon to even out the browning. After 30 minutes, stir in the maple syrup.

Continue to roast the brussel sprouts for about 15 more minutes, or until they are fork tender (about 45 minutes total roasting time).

Toss the roasted brussel sprouts with the walnuts and devour!

Do-ahead Tip: Steps 1-4 can be prepared the day before and stored covered in the refrigerator. You can finish the remaining 15 minutes of roasting time (steps 5-6) right before serving.

Recipe found on Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary website: http://www.woodstocksanctuary.org/recipes/maple-roasted-brussel-sprouts/

Monday, November 4, 2013

Race Review: Marine Corps Marathon #MissionAccomplished

Website: http://www.marinemarathon.com/

Setting: National Mall Washington, DC and Arlington, VA

Cost/Registration:  Registration was insane.  It's a very popular race, so we were sitting by our computer trying to register and the active.com site kept crashing.  We joked trying to get in was more stressful than actually running it!  Next year, they've said it will be done by a lottery system. 

Expo: The line for packet pick up and the expo at the DC Amory was the longest line I have ever seen at a race. We stood in line for about an hour and a half to finally get our bibs and our mock neck long sleeve tech shirt which I really like.  (So much for resting your legs the day before 26.2!)  It wasn't completely MCM's fault, they lost power in the tent they were using for packet pick up, so all of the Marine volunteers were using flashlights to view ID's etc.  We went at 10am on a Saturday which was probably a poor choice, but the line was even longer once we left the expo!

Inside, we tried to find Honey Stinger gels which no one seemed to be selling...only chews.  So we bought some chews even though it wasn't ideal for me.  Fueling for this race I knew would be very difficult after my experience at my last full.  I was actually really dreading it in a way...afraid my stomach would feel the way it did last time...and bring me to tears.  That race recap is here: http://livefreeandrun.blogspot.com/2013/03/race-report-rock-and-roll-marathon.html

I bought some arm warmers since I knew that the race start would be chilly and I couldn't locate my black ones after returning from San Francisco the weekend before.   I wore them for the chilliness of the Nike Women's Half.  Race recap here: http://livefreeandrun.blogspot.com/2013/10/race-review-nike-women-half-marathon-sf.html

Then I saw the Run Washington booth and stopped by to see if I could get a copy of the issue that they interviewed me for.  I found it.  I mentioned I was in it and they had me sign a copy for the booth.  I felt famous :-)

Then we stopped by the Runner's World booth and I got to meet Bart Yasso!  He was at my husband's full at Leigh Valley in September and Jim said he was so nice.  He rode his bike along the course encouraging runners along.

We didn't stay too much longer, since my mom had flown into town to watch our daughter and I wanted to get back to them and enjoy the day.

My husband and I then did the exact opposite of all marathon advice...we didn't rest or stay off of our feet!  We headed a bit north of DC to go apple picking.  We walked all over the farm for the next few hours....whoops!  We then headed home for a pasta dinner and an early bedtime.

THE RACE:  Got up at 5:00am the next morning in order to have a healthy breakfast of oatmeal with coconut and chia seeds and some coffee.  We got all our stuff in order and headed out to catch the 6:00 metro into downtown.  The metro was full of runners and spectators.  I love that.  Of course who else is crazy enough to ride the Metro that early on a Sunday morning?

We arrived in Virginia and got off at our stop.  We had a long walk to get to the starting area, about a half mile.  There were long lines to enter as due to precautions every bag had to be searched.  We waited in a very long porta-potty line but were treated to a very cool air show of sky divers holding U.S. flags...it was a super cool "pre-game show"!. 
Photo credit: I Heart Running
I ate half of my chomps in line while I was waiting as some extra fuel.  Then we walked another half mile to the starting corrals.  I was being VERY conservative with my corral time since I hadn't put the training in.  I had only trained for a half.  My longest run was 13 miles in the last 3 months.  So I started with the 4:45 group.  Not smart.  It was slow going and there were a lot of walkers, even in the first mile. 

The race was very crowded almost the entire way.  Around the 6 mile mark, I caught sight of another teacher at my school who had hopped in the race to run a few miles with her friend who was running her first full.  I chatted for a bit and then took off.  I was trying very hard to hold back on my pace to a 9 min mile.  With racing the half distance three times in the last 5 weeks, my body wanted to go fast!

The course really was incredibly crowded.  I didn't feel comfortable until probably mile 18 or so.  Up until then I felt so claustrophobic.  I kept telling myself I would never run a big race again.  I even got knocked in the jaw at one point by another runner's elbow swing....my face is at elbow level...I am short. 

I stopped at every water station along the course since I didn't have a water Sherpa like I did last time.  Thanks Anna!

I had told myself that I could really quit anytime since I was not trained for racing 26.2.  At mile 16, someone had a sign "They play Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber on repeat in the SAG van, FYI".  That made me laugh and I thought to myself, that's it....I am finishing this thing!

I saw a couple from college there to cheer on their sister three times along the course.  Hearing them shout my name was a HUGE boost!  The crowd support on this course was amazing...like almost nothing I've ever experienced!  :-)

I ate the vanilla and mocha flavored cliff shot gels along the course.  I had one of each and felt they powered me through really well with no stomach issues like my last full. 

The actual course was really beautiful....monuments, Rock Creek Park, Haines Point...
Photo credit: This Mama Runs for Cupcakes!  Read her race experience http://thismamarunsforcupcakes.blogspot.com/2013/10/im-no-longer-wanna-be.html.
Photo credit: This Mama Runs for Cupcakes! Read her race experience http://thismamarunsforcupcakes.blogspot.com/2013/10/im-no-longer-wanna-be.html.

Haines Point was really tough emotionally...

The part I didn't enjoy as much was when we headed back into VA.  There wasn't as much crowd support over there and the roads were really poor quality.  With my Morton's Neuroma, uneven surfaces cause a lot of foot pain, so in the final five miles I was trying to push through exhaustion and pain...not fun and it showed in my splits....but I pressed on! 

About mile 23, there was Bart Yasso on the sidelines cheering as on!  I gave a yell, "Bart!"  and he pointed at me! 

Finish Line:  I came across the line at 4:21:07.  The finish line was great.   They have finish line video online that you can watch yourself which is really neat!  You enter the chute and a Marine shakes your hand and places the medal over your neck.  My Marine gave me my medal and I said to him, "I am a hugger" and gave him a huge hug instead of the handshake!

You then head over to an area where they get your photo in front of the Iwo Jima memorial.  I was chatting with another runner in line and someone joked that the two of us had too much energy and looked like we could run the course again!  When it was the other runner's turn to take his photo he decided to do a jump shot....after he did that, heck, I wanted to too!

I walked a long way down the chute to find my friend Anna and husband Jim who had finished over an hour ahead of me and we proceeded to the beer tent.  That was a great time.  They were not stingy with the beer like at Rock n Roll DC so we really enjoyed ourselves.  We made friends with two ladies sitting next to us.  They were very nice ladies in town from Boston.  One of them had BQ'd at MCM and so did my husband so we had a lot to chat about!


Grade: A- Overall, I felt this was an AMAZING race.  One of the best I have ever been a part of!  It was very inspiring to be a part of something like this.  I had no idea how much it would affect me! 
I didn't like how crowded the race was though..  I almost felt it was too many participants on small roads.  Seeded start corrals would have been really nice.  Some races do pace bracelets that you have to submit times before hand for....which would be really nice.  But I realize almost 1/3 of those running MCM, it's their very first marathon. 

At the end of the race, in the immediate exhaustion of it all I said I probably wouldn't do it again...or any marathon again...but I think I will on both counts.  I experienced no soreness after the marathon and then next day was racing my Kindergartners up hills on our field trip to the apple orchard.  MCM Lottery for 2014....I am ready!

The next day the results of the top 500 were in the Washington Post!  Anna and Jim are in there!  

And Jeff Galloway had this to say: