Category Archives: Race Report

Brooks Run Happy 5k Race Recap

Run HappyThat’s right!  Despite my lack of running since arriving in Manila (one outdoor run, a few treadmill runs does not “running” make), I decided to sign up for the Brooks Run Happy 5k.  For two reasons, really:  the 500P (about 12 dollars) registration would give me a free Brooks tech t-shirt AND a medal.  You guys know how I like medals (didn’t I run the National Half, just so I can get one last medal before leaving DC?).  The tech t-shirt wasn’t even too bad, I like that it’s sleeveless, which I wear a lot more during runs in the heat, but I’m not sure about the VERY BRIGHT color.

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There were different options for this race:  a 15k (9.3 miles), a 10k, a 5k and a 3k (I guess so you can sprint all out?).  I chose the 5k because I’m nowhere adapted to this heat yet, and I know that even in bad conditions I can pull off a 5k, even if slowly.

The kicker?  We were supposed to get there at 4am (4 AM PEOPLE!), for a 5:50am race start.  I even asked the guys at the registration (since you had to do it in person at the store, there is NO online registration here in Manila), if I could get there a bit later and they said “No, ma’am, 4am.”

After waking up at 3:45am, I didn’t get out of bed for another 15 minutes, because for the first time ever, I actually considered not going for a race I signed up for, as I would rather sleep.  But I told myself to do this one, and if it was that miserable, I didn’t have to run one again while I’m here (the horror, right?), and eventually got out of bed, changed, and we made our way to the street to grab a cab to the race start.
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We arrived there at 4:45am.  There was really no reason to get there at 4am, or even at the time we did.  Next time, a 5:30am arrival will do just fine.  We weren’t fully awake yet, and we sat and waited for a loooong time…

Quite a few people were already there, but most arrived much later…

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This was our first time in Fort Bonifacio/Bonifacio Global City, so we enjoyed seeing all the high rises.  This area is even fancier than Makati, where we now live.  And there’s soooo much green space here, it would have been perfect for walking Lily! (The one park across the street from us doesn’t allow pets…)

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The good thing about the 4am time, was that the weather was actually pleasant at that time.  Perfect running weather even.  But of course, it didn’t take long for the sun to come out, and the pleasant temperature to change pretty quickly…

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It wasn’t even 5:30 am yet, and the place was bright.  And it was a lot warmer.  I quickly realized that my choice of outfit, the black Cherry Blossom 10 miler race shirt, was a big mistake.

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Right away, I noticed something different about the way races are in Manila vs. the US…  While in the US most people don’t wear their race shirt to race day (why wear a shirt if you haven’t earned the right yet?), here, the race shirt was EVERYWHERE.  I was one of the odds one out by wearing a different outfit.

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The other thing?  While in the US you see a few people here and there running before the race to warm up, here it was the majority of people, at some point or another would sprint back and forth, or do all sorts of stretching and jumping.  I admit that it was at this point that I got very nervous.  I told Karl how there’s only serious runners, and I knew I’d have to be slow because of the heat, and I was really afraid of being last.  Plus, this is the smallest race I’ve ever been part of, with maybe 1,000 people total, so there were no guarantees there would be people even slower than me.

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Finally, the 15k and 10k people were told to line up at the start.  The 15k would start at 5:30am, and the 10k would start 10 minutes later and so on.

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And they waited.  And waited.  And waited.  While the weather got hotter and hotter and hotter.

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I figured this would be the perfect time to go to the porta-potty.  While the line wasn’t long at all, with maybe 20 people waiting in each porta-potty (there were a total of four of them, and weirdly enough, they were separated by male and female), for some reason I waited a good 20 minutes in line.  I guess when you put all women in the same line, it’s bound to take longer than a bunch of men or a  mixed line.

But at least we had signs like the blue one below to keep us laughing:

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And the porta-potty?  Less spacious inside than in the US (it’s harder not to touch anything), but the toilet looked like a real toilet, with a flush and everything.  SO NICE not having to see what other runners did in the bathroom!  No more looking at poo volcanoes that go over the toilet seat!  Plus, while we were waiting, a cleaning guy actually came along and quickly cleaned the inside of the porta-potties so it wasn’t completely gross either!

Yes, I had to take a picture of the inside.  When else do you wait a long time to use it, and it looks like this when you walk in?

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Before the race started, I also grabbed a chilled “Pocari Sweat” bottle – a Japanese sports drink.  It was surprisingly good.

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Finally, half an hour after the race was supposed to start, the gun went off.  Shortly afterwards, the 10k people were starting as well.

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And then it was at last our turn to go.  We lined up and waited for the gun.

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And off we went!  Within the first quarter mile, I knew I wasn’t going to be last.  I was passing people and a ton of people were already stopping to walk.  It doesn’t help that we started half an hour later than we were meant to and that on that half hour, the weather got much warmer…

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It was really cool running through Bonifacio, as none of us had been there before.  It wasn’t flat, but a very gradual uphill followed by a very gradual downhill, so it kept us challenged.

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My first goal was “don’t walk” my second was “finish in less than 35 minutes” while my third goal was to attempt an 11 min/mile pace.  I’m sad to report that I was only able to meet my first goal…  I only quickly walked the water stops because it was so hot that I had to make sure to drink enough, but the water wasn’t refreshing by far:  it was HOT!  Couldn’t they at least had chilled the thing?  It was 85 degrees outside, so the water was just as warm.  Ugh.

The route was pretty though, and we loved the palm trees!

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Finally, we saw the finish line approaching, and as usual, I took off in a sprint, only to be faced with yet another obstacle once I got closer:  there were orange cones starting about 20 feet from the finish line, separating those finishing the 15k/10k/5k/3k, so there was only enough space for one person to get through in each line.  So I couldn’t sprint to the finish, because there was no way to pass people.  It’s not like I’m competing against people at the finish line (though we all secretly do that too), but I’m also competing against myself, and having to run slower than I’m capable of because the people in front of me haven’t chosen to sprint was a bit of a bummer…

But it was hot, and we finished and I got my worst 5k time ever (for a race I’ve run the whole thing – I ran one 5k slower than that back when I had to run/walk to the finish, years ago).  But at the end, I was fine with my SLOW time of 35:32 (11:26 min/mile – yes, the pace is slower than my 10 miler pace a month and a half ago, which was already slower than my paces from last year…).

I survived the heat, while wearing a black shirt, when I also had stupidly chosen to leave my hat and sunglasses at home.  I guess a good thing about having such a slow time is that my next 5k in Manila, it better be a guaranteed (Manila) PR!

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The medal?  It was cute, but the worst medal I’ve gotten so far (it was a thin piece of metal, glued in a wood board).

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After the race, we had to wait in line to get our “goody bag” – a small reusable bag with a granola bar, a few fliers, a magazine and a hand sanitizer.  While waiting in line, I took one last picture.  20 minutes after crossing the finish line and I’m still super-red!

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Despite HATING some parts of this race (super-early start time, HOT water at the water stops, narrow finish line chute), I really enjoyed myself, and will definitely run another race in Manila again – hopefully sooner rather than later (I have to find other runners, because Karl already said he’s not waking up that early on a Sunday again!).

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Filed under 5k, Manila, Philippines, Pictures, Race, Race Report

Cherry Blossom Ten Miler Race Recap

I’m a couple of days late, seeing that I flew to Brazil just hours after running.  By the way, don’t ever do that.  I’m more sore now than I was after my marathons…  I guess sitting down for over 12 hours after running is not a good idea, huh?

This was my third time running the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler.  Last year, I hated the race and was pretty honest in my review.  This year, though there was still some of the same problems as in 2010, it was a much more pleasant experience, and I didn’t hate it.  I actually kind of *gasp* liked it.

We picked up our packet on Saturday morning, and though the expo is on the small side, Hugi was able to find some good deals and spent quite a bit of money on very discounted Brooks stuff.

Like in previous years, this year I also paid for the upgraded shirt.  It is cute, but not sure how often I’ll wear a black short sleeve shirt…

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Race morning, I woke up super early and met up with Gray and Hugi in Crystal City, while we made our way to the metro to meet everyone else from the group in DC.  The metro was crowded but not ridiculous, and we found everyone with no problems at our usual meeting spot for this race.

A little while later, one of my readers, Beki, who was in DC for the first time, approached me and joined our group!  This was her first time running 10 miles, and her one goal was to not get picked up by the bus.  She made it to the finish line with plenty of time!  (Congrats, Beki!)

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Did I tell you that it was FREEZING?  It’s not that it was cold per se, but the wind was kicking, which didn’t help.  I knew once we started running we’d be fine, but I was suffering for a bit.

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We finally made our way to the porta-potties.  I knew where the quieter porta-potties were, but was disappointed to find out that the set up was different this year, so there was no “good” lines for it.  It actually looked like there were a lot less porta-potties than last year, since last time they were lined up back to back.  The lines were long, but we still made it out with time to get into our corral.

The other reason I think there were less porta-potties?  I encountered the most disgusting one EVER.  Why?  The amount of crap (literally, crap) piled up in it, went past the toilet seat.  Like a volcano peaking out.  How much must people have crapped in one place there to make it peak out?  I did a quick pee and ran out of there, as luckily it was a handicap sized one, so I had plenty of room to maneuver sideways so my butt wouldn’t touch anything (I squat, but yes, it was that bad), but the woman behind me came right out and said there was no way she could use it.

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We were finally ready to start!  Hugi, Amy and Ben all went to our green corral, and we were moving in no time.

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Now the blurry-taken-while-running pictures start.  Remember how my biggest complaint about this race is how crowded it is?  See it for yourself:

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I had no goals of a PR, but I was hoping to maybe finish in 1:55, preferably 1:50.  I decided to not pay attention to my pace and just go by feeling.

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I was feeling pretty good!  I was running with Hugi for the first few miles, and we were keeping less than an 11 minute/mile pace (which nowadays is a pretty good pace for me).

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Not that we had much choice to go any faster if we wanted to.  It was too packed to even try to weave in and out of people!

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The thing I like best about this race is how scenic the course is.  We start right by the Washington Monument, then run alongside the Tidal Basin.

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Another thing that was a HUGE improvement this year?  The cherry blossoms were actually in bloom!  Last year we spotted only 3 trees at the entrance of Hains Point that had any blooms.  This year we missed the peak by only a couple of days, so there were blossoms everywhere!

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About a mile in, we reached the Memorial Bridge, passing by the Lincoln Memorial.  You know that’s one of my usual routes for my Saturday long runs and back when I use to run home from work!  (Remember that job I used to have?  Ha, me neither!  Quitting was my favorite part of the year!)

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I never get tired of running in front of the Lincoln Memorial!

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We ran across the bridge, to the circle at the end of it, ran around the circle and came back to DC.

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Can you tell it was a gorgeous day in DC?

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From the bridge, we run towards the Kennedy Center, and there’s another turnaround point right in front of it.

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Then we run back east on Rock Creek next to the Potomac River…

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And cross in front of the Watergate steps.

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Before running under the Memorial Bridge (I think it’s the prettiest bridge in DC).

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There was yet another out and back on Ohio Dr…  (I really hope the construction for the Martin Luther King memorial will be finished soon, so it can go back to the old route, which had one less out and back route.)

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Then we go over the Tidal Basin, with the Jefferson Memorial in view.

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Hugi had run with me until mile 3, but since I was running with music (a review and giveaway to come soon, yay!), I didn’t mind being on my own as much.  I was having a hard time talking and running anyway, and though I was well within my goal of finishing within 1:50, by mile 5 I was getting tired.  The pretty view was not helping me today.

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I kept trying to distract myself by taking pictures, reminding myself that this was my last race in DC, for at least the next two years.

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There wasn’t much spectators either, which never helps.

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But the blossoms did lift up my spirits a bit.  Just not enough…

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Finally, we were approaching Hains Point, and we could see those approaching the finish line coming in the other direction.  On my end?  The course was still as crowded as ever.

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To make matters worse, right in front of the Jefferson Memorial, there were a few school bus parked.  How is that even allowed in the middle of a race course?  If all the bottlenecks from the out and backs weren’t enough, taking a whole lane out certainly didn’t help.

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It was around this time that Kristy came and gave me a friendly bump.  We chatted for a couple of minutes and I admitted I was having a hard time, for her to go on without me.

And a little while later, we spotted Blair, who was volunteering today!  I stopped to give her a hug and take a picture of her.

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An she took a picture of me…

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I think that was my biggest mistake.  I lost about a minute on my time saying hello (I didn’t care about time anymore at this point), but when I started running again my legs just felt heavier.  I was having a harder and harder time keeping pace.

I knew Hains Point was going to be boring (heck, I’ve run there 3 times in the last 6 months:  Marine Corps Marathon, Veterans Day 10k and now the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler), but I was ready, I’ve had many training runs there last summer (if you’re ever in DC, it is a great place to run, since you can run on the road any day), and it’s not the worst place to run, the scenery is even pretty, it just kind of all looks the same.

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It was nice to see all the blooms there, but the course was still crowded despite being around the 7 mile mark.  I had hit a wall.  Badly.  I might be smiling in the picture below, but my eyes show my desperation…

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Distracting myself by taking pictures was not helping today…  At some point Sarah, who I have run with a few times on our Saturday long runs passed by and said hello.  Since I was feeling craptastic, I told her to keep going without me.  She was definitely looking strong!

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But finally I reached the turnaround point, and I knew there was very little left on this race…

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I wish I could say knowing that helped.  Funnily enough, mentally I was ok, I just had no energy left (the pictures also stopped here, though mostly because one half of Hains Point looks almost the same as the other half).

I kept telling myself “move faster, move faster” but my legs just couldn’t keep up.  Every time I checked my pace, I was slacking off, but being aware of it didn’t make my body move any better.

Miles 7-9 were my slowest ones.  I just couldn’t keep up.  I kept trying to change songs to see if anything would give me that burst of energy, but no go.  Eating a gel didn’t help either.

The course was still very crowded, and I started walking the water stops trying to sip more water, see if that would help, with no luck.

I knew the race ended on an uphill, I thought I was ready for it, but once we hit it, my legs still couldn’t keep up with what my mind was trying to do.  I just had no speed left in me.

Finally, the finish line was in full view and I sprinted to it.  It was one of my slowest sprints to a finish line ever!  I saw Karl waiting on the sidelines and yelled for him 3 times before he noticed me, which definitely didn’t help on that sprint…

On the bright side, once I finished, I was surprised to see this:

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YES!!!  They MUST have read my recap from last year.  Not only they had water for me, but they were definitely stocked up, and had enough water for every finisher too!  I HAD to take a picture, of course!

I met up with Karl, went to claim my medal (you have to pay $12 for the medal, and hello, I like displaying mine, so of course I paid up!).  I did forget to take a picture of it, however, but it looks very much like the design on the shirt above.  Last year’s was much nicer…  (I’ve been having a bad streak medal-wise lately, as my friends keep joking about with me!)

We met up with the group at the end, then while everyone went off to brunch, Karl and I went home to finish packing, drop off Lily at my friends and still make it to the airport by 3:30pm.

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Oh, and my finish time?  I met my “B” goal, crossing the finish line in 1:52:13, which is an 11:14 pace.  That’s about 11 minutes slower than my Army Ten Miler time, less than 6 months ago, but I’m happy with it.  You probably noticed on the pictures that I’m a lot chunkier now (stupid injuries!), so I’ll take what I can get!  It was still slightly better than last year, so yay!

Crossing the finish line was definitely bitter-sweet.  No more races to look forward to right now.  No more races with my incredible running group…  Manila better have some good races in store for me!

We are now officially on the countdown for our time in DC.  Yesterday marked exactly 2 weeks from when we will leave the city…

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Filed under 10 Miler, Pictures, Race, Race Report

National Half Marathon Race Recap

Ok, so I already warned you that I didn’t like this race…  But, the joke is on me, because I went in knowing the course sucks (but who can say no to a free bib?).  I also admitted I was running it for the medal, because I didn’t run it last year and the medal was pretty cool, see?

Are you even entitled to bitch about a race that you ran expecting the worse?  The disclaimer?  A lot of my bad feeling about this race came from me feeling like total crap, which had nothing to do with the actual race itself.  BUT, if it had been a good race, I bet it could have lifted my spirits (see my Marine Corps Marathon race recap, where my feet were in pain, but meanwhile I loved the whole race).

Why was I feeling craptastic?  Because I had maybe 7 hours of sleep TOTAL for the two nights before the race. (Between Lily throwing up all night on Thursday and my idiot neighbors being loud in the hallway at 2am on Friday night).  Also, I forgot to hydrate pre-race, because I was just stupid.   AND…  I was coming down with a cold.  But who can say no to a DC medal when you’re 3 weeks from leaving DC??  Obviously not me!

Soooo…  If you want an upbeat report of this race, you can go to Heather and Anne’s race recap.  If you want to read a recap I totally agree with, in terms of course, etc, check out what Tonia (who got a PR, so she’s not bitter like me) has to say.

And without further ado…  (Because I seem to be on a babbling mood)

The expo was only open on Friday, and there was no race-day packet pick up.  I waited on a looong line at the expo twice, to pick up both mine and Jen’s bib.  The tech t-shirt was a major disappointment…  Isn’t it ugly?  Guess who got a new shirt to workout in? (Hint:  I married him)  Good to have a boy around who isn’t too picky!

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I met up with Jen super early for the race.  At 5:20am she picked me up and by 5:35 we were at the RFK Stadium.  Yep, we had to wait 1.5 hours until the race started, but it was our best decision ever.  We heard that by 6am, traffic was at a standstill, some people were forced to park more than a mile away (imagine if you’re running the full marathon?), and after the race started (late!) we saw a bunch of people, running wrong way towards the start.  I felt horrible for them, imagine having to sprint to the start because traffic kept you from making it?  Imagine if that was THE race you were training for?

This was the first FAIL of the race:  the metro opened at 6am.  For EVERY major DC race, the metro usually opens at 5am.  Even when the race starts at 8am, like this week’s Cherry Blossom 10 Miler.  For this race, the metro opened an hour before the race started.  There’s no way most people can make it on time, specially if you have to transfer lines, or need to bag check and hit the porta-potties pre-race (which is much more likely if you are metroing instead of driving).  Soooo, lots of people who would metro otherwise (like me), decided to drive to be on the safe side.  So then there was a lot more traffic than there should be.  When we left, there were people illegally parked all over the place on the RFK lot – on the roads, on the grass…

Also?  It was FREEZING in the morning!  I was going to run with my group          t-shirt, but ended up sporting my MCM jacket on top of that.  This was one win of this race:  they provided throwaway gloves (which later became my tissue so I could blow my nose – gross!).  At least the Armory was open, so we stayed warm pre-race.

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When it was getting close to the start time, we hit the porta-potties, and lined up on one of the corrals.  Can you see from our red noses how cold we were?

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Finally the race started, and off we went.  The first mile was actually quite scenic, running towards the Capitol.

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We passed the Capitol…

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We then hit Constitution Avenue and we were running by some of the Smithsonian museums. 

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And finally, a very familiar sight – home to many of my Saturday runs!  (I’m just not used to approaching the Washington Monument from this direction!)

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All the half-marathoners had to wear a “Half” on their backs.  Does this half makes my butt look smaller?  (From this angle, I look a tad flat, don’t I?)

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I was still doing great at this time during the race – I think it was still the first couple of miles.  Oh yeah, there were NO MILE MARKERS on this race.  It cost $95 to sign up for the half marathon (more for the full), and they couldn’t spare the couple of bucks it costs to put a sign up with a number?  Really?

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At this point, I really had to pee, but I didn’t want to wait in line for the port-a-potties.  There were some lines that even went straight into the course (seriously, people blocking the course to wait in line?  Have you heard of lining up on a sidewalk?  Geez!)

Then we went up 18th street, which is the exact route I took when I rode my bike to work.  I saw a construction site, that has been there for quite a while, and told Jen “I’m totally using their port-a-potties!  Turns out, the guard there was actually allowing people to use them, and had propped open the fence!  That was the nicest thing ever:  5 port-a-potties with no lines!!!

Right after, I passed my previous office building (the infamous International Monetary Fund), and of course, only thought of taking a picture when the building was behind a tree (FAIL!).  But hey, that glass building you can barely see?  That’s where I spent the last 3.5 years in!

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We went under the tunnel in Dupont Circle (I had never been on this tunnel before).

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Then kept going up Dupont through one of my old office hangouts as well.

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Before I worked at the IMF, I worked for the Brazilian government a couple of blocks down on 22nd street pictured below:

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We kept running up to Adams Morgan, or in my case, I walked up, because I was starting to feel like poop.

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I still had enough energy to fake-smile to the camera, of course.

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Then we got to Adams Morgan, around mile 7 or 8, maybe?  This was the first part where we had any crowd support.  Adams Morgan was actually fun to run through because of it.

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Going by Howard University (not pictured), was also the only other place with any crowd support.  (And some people were even offering up the building’s bathroom!  I didn’t need it then, but though that was super nice!)

Soon, I could see the Capitol again and had hopes the torture was almost over.  By now, both my legs were in an awful state.  They hurt badly, my feet were sore and hurt with every step, my calves were cramping up, my hamstring were tight, my bad hip hurt, I just wasn’t doing good at all.  I was walking any uphill, and even then it was SLOWLY walking up.  My running was more like a trot.  I was miserable.  I kept having to blow my nose on my throwaway gloves (now stashed in my jacket’s pocket).

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We did run through some pretty neighborhoods, but most of the course after the first couple of miles was boring.  (Poor marathoners had to run through Anacostia, ugh.)

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At this point I was stopping to take pictures.  Any excuse for a quick rest…

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When we ran through H Street, I mentioned to Jen “Oh, Margaret lives around here” – a couple of minutes later I hear a familiar voice saying “Go Carla!” 

Seeing Margaret was the highlight of my day (no, really, it was!)  I gave her a hug, she ran a block with us (she wasn’t wearing running clothes) and said our goodbyes.

At this point, I was past the 10 mile mark, well above 2 hours, knowing already that it would be my worst race yet.  Heck, I’m slow, but had never ran 10 miles this slow.

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Finally we turned on the same street we had started at, and you could see the marathoners (few and far between) coming in the opposite direction…

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Knowing I had a mile left to go, I kicked the pace a bit, and kept that last mile around 11 min/miles, and the last half mile below that.  I even cheered a girl walking, and made her run along with us (I love doing that, though in Chicago I got a RUDE reply when I tried cheering someone up with less than a mile to go).  She was super nice though!

Of course, there was yet another hill to the end, and though I didn’t walk it (it was just around the corner from the finish line), my pace slowed down considerably.  Jen, meanwhile, kept strong (her knee was bugging her, but she wasn’t feeling nearly as bad as I did, and would have gone much faster if I was up for it).

I finally see the finish line, see Jen about 100 feet in front of me, and thought “hell no!” and sprinted to the end.  I knew that as soon as she saw me sprinting past her she was going to try to catch up, and yep, we raced each other those last few feet to the finish line (I won, ha!).

The finish line was not too bad – lots of food: banana, apples, bagels, pretzels (yum!), granola bars, protein bars, bottles of water, fruit cups, Greek yogurt…  Seriously, I ran out of hands!

The medal, was not as nice as last year (didn’t you see this coming?).  It was a picture of the Supreme Court, really??  It looks like any government building anywhere else in the country.  We have so many pretty memorials, surely they could have used one of those, no?

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Jen also agreed it was a bit boring…  We said a quick hello to Patrick, one of our running buddies, who wasn’t running today and instead was working at the Big Cheese truck (he owns it).

We took another picture with our medals…

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And we went back home.

Overall, would I do this race again?  Maybe…  I do want a nicer DC medal, so I could see myself doing it for that. It was not worth the $95 sign up fee that’s for sure (again, I had a free bib, but I almost signed up for this race many times).  The course is a killer with lots of hills and really boring for the most part.  I was disappointed that there were no mile markers, and had many runners ask me what mile we were in (since I had my Garmin on). 

I got home and had stomach issues the rest of the day, and ended up also being in bed all day feeling sick.  I never recovered that badly from any race, not even my marathons, maybe only the Veterans Day 10k, but I had a fever then, so it was expected.

A nicer course and better crowd support would have made it a much more pleasant experience, for sure, but most of the issues I had was with my own body not cooperating with me.

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Shamrock Half Marathon Race Report

I arrived at the expo around 2pm on Friday, thinking I would beat the Saturday crowd.  Hahaha, not true.  Though I didn’t have to wait to pick up my bib and shirt, the rest of the expo was CROWDED.  They were selling last year’s t-shirt for 5 bucks, and I wanted to get Karl one, since we both ran it, but there were at least 50 people in line for the register, so I gave up on that idea soon.

I walked around with Jen for a bit, no freebies were being given, then I went over to my hotel room to check in.

The reusable goody bag from last year was great, it became my beach/pool bag, and a year later is still going strong.  This year’s?  I used it once, to put my running shoes in after the race, and the seam had ripped on the sides by the time we made it into the hotel, 10 minutes later.  Angela’s bag broke by the time she left the expo.  So, unfortunately, though the idea is great, the quality was not on par with the “reusable” idea.  The shirt, however, is cute (yay for side stripes that make you look slimmer!).  Again, my one beef is that it doesn’t come in gender-specific sizing.  I got a small, which is loose on me, but I’m far from a small – I feel bad for my slimmer runner friends!

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We woke up super early on Sunday morning, Karl went to walk Lily while I finished getting ready.  Despite the 85 degree weather we got the day we arrived, it was COLD and WINDY on Sunday.  We all knew it was going to be colder, but crap, not THAT cold.  I wore my running skirt and compression socks, and was glad to have only part of my leg exposed, but even then, it was just not enough to keep us warm!

We went to the hotel lobby to meet up with everyone, Jen even brought me some shamrock antennas to wear (I passed them on to Hugi after the first mile).

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Even Margaret and Erin, who were staying somewhere else, came out to meet with us!  It was great catching up with them (even if briefly), and we were able to get a picture with most of the group (some people had already left to brave the cold weather).

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After delaying the inevitable, we went off into the cold…  I was envying the marathoners who started an hour later than us (what’s up with that?), and got to wait at their start line after the sun came out.  It was super windy, and we all gathered together to exchange some body heat.

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We started off on Pacific Avenue, running through a residential neighborhood.  The roads were crowded, and I was glad I wasn’t planning on PR’ing (mostly because I knew I didn’t have the endurance to speed up anymore), as it would have been hard to weave through the crowds, even though I started in the correct corral.  The picture below was taken AFTER the crowd disbursed a bit (it just wasn’t safe to start taking pictures when it was so crowded in that first mile).

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After Pacific Avenue, we turned into Shore Drive where we were surrounded by trees.  Like last year, there were jokes on the side of the road, but many had been down due to the wind.  I missed most of the jokes though, because though I had a couple of hard miles starting up (I just wasn’t feeling it), once we turned into Shore Drive we all got a bit chatty, and caught up on things.

We had already lost Nikki due to dropped ipods and whatever else she was losing (she had a bit of a clumsy start), and it was around this part that Hugi took off.  This was Hugi’s first Half Marathon, and she was doing great.  I wasn’t well-trained because of all these injuries, and didn’t even know if I could run the whole thing without taking a break, so I kept telling Hugi to run her race and ditch us.  She finally listened to her body, made arrangements on where to meet after the race and off she went.  I was so proud!  Yes, she’s now faster than me, but it wasn’t long ago when she was having a hard time keeping up with me at the Army Ten Miler, now look at her!  Sure, I got slower, but she kept it up and ran the half almost in the same pace as I was running months ago!

At around this time, my foot started hurting with every step.  It felt like I was being shocked every time I put my foot down.  I didn’t want to quit on mile 5, so I started thinking of other better things, and see how long I could last.

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After Shore Drive, we made out way into Ft. Story.  Many of the complaints on this race online is that going into Ft. Story is boring.  I didn’t think it was boring this year, nor did I think so last year.  You can see the ocean in the distance, and you pass not one, but TWO lighthouses, one of them being one of the oldest in the country!

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Luckily I was still having a pretty good run at this time, my foot pain was still there, but not nearly as bad as before, and though it was a lot warmer, my body was finally in synch with the run.  I held up a pace that didn’t tire me out.  I was also running with my own water, so I saved tons of time by skipping water stops in the first ten miles.

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Angela was still going strong too!  And she was running with our group shirt!  So props to her!  (And she was smart enough to wear a visor…)

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Jen was also having a good run at this point.  This was around mile 7 or 8 and she was even going backwards and taking pictures!

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Looking at the pictures below, it seems like it was a super hot day – I think the weather topped off in the mid-50’s later on.  The sun certainly warmed things up, but it wasn’t nearly as warm as the bright pictures make it seem!

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We were FINALLY approaching the two lighthouses in the distance!

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This one below?  That’s one of the oldest in the country (first one built by the US Government).

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Jen wanted pictures with the other lighthouse too…

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I was even able to get a self-portrait with the old one!

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At some point at the end of this leg, we lost Angela, who had to hang back a bit.

Finally, around mile 9 or so, we got back to Pacific Avenue, and the residential area of VA Beach.  I was feeling good at this time, sure the distance was getting to me, but I was still chatting away.

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Jen was still doing good at this time too!

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Ugh, gotta lose those extra 10lbs since the wedding STAT.  I look like a big green blob.  Plus I need a tan.

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Shortly after these pictures, Jen’s knee started bothering her, so she turned on her headphones and tried to get into the zone to make it to the final miles.  I had no one to talk to, but was still feeling strong despite both my hip and foot now hurting.

I never saw the 12 marker, but had an idea I had about a mile to go, so at some point I picked up the pace a bit, and started feeling really good.  I even convinced a random girl to give up on walking and run with me the last mile (she tagged along until around the 13 marker).

While my goal was to be able to run this in about a 11:30 pace or so, my last mile was well below 11 pace.  I even warned Jen “I’m picking up the pace, so if you’re hurting and need to stay back, don’t feel bad, it’s because we’re actually going faster” (she doesn’t have a Garmin).  Instead, she tagged along most of the way.

I told myself, as always, that I would pick up once I passed that 13 mile marker, and I did, being able to finish strong with an 8 min/mile pace (yes, for 0.1 mile, don’t hate!).  In retrospect, I probably could have picked up the pace in the last 2 miles, instead of waiting for the last mile to do so, but since it’s been so long, I wasn’t sure if I could sustain it, so I played it safe.

I crossed the finish line in 2:31:46.  It’s about 8 minutes slower than my last half, but so much has happened since then, that I’m super happy with the results.  Weeks ago, I was just hoping I could finish it, and at the start line on Sunday, I had three different goals…  A “realistic” one, of finishing in less than 2:40, an “maybe attainable” one, of finishing in 2:35, and a “hopeful” one, of finishing in 2:30.

If I had not stopped to take a few pictures when we were around the fort, I could definitely had broken the 2:30 mark.  But at the end, I was dying to pee the whole time but didn’t luck out in finding a porta-potty with no lines, so it would have been worse if I had taken the break.

Jen crossed the finish line seconds after me, and we were both excited to be done (ignore the woman blowing her nose, ruining our picture!).

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Karl was a good husband, waiting for me at the finish line with flipflops!  He said he shouted my name, but I was in the zone and didn’t hear it.

By the way, this is the first half marathon Karl has run for himself (he has ran 3 half marathons before, but all at my pace to keep me company).

He finished in 1:37:49, being the fastest one of our group!  I’m proud of him, and knew he could kick some butt if I wasn’t holding him behind!  (He claims he was just so cold that he wanted to be done early.)

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Just like last year, we got a finisher’s hat, t-shirt and a medal.  I of course, did not notice my medal was the wrong way when I snapped this picture…

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Hugi was happy to be done, and took her own finisher’s shot with her future marathon training partner!  (She’s wearing her finisher’s shirt too.)

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The three of us (now can you pronounce Hugi’s real name?).

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Karl and Jeremy were also celebrating!

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And of course, we needed a shot of us in all our green glory!

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Hugi also wanted to send this picture to her mom, with Jeremy’s classy outfit.  Go figure!

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Here’s our awesome finisher’s swag – the hat, finisher’s shirt, and medal (oh, and let’s not forget the personalized bibs.  I got quite a few “go, Carla!” because of it!).

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A close up at the back of the shirt:

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And the medal, which doubles as a bottle opener!  (Since Karl doesn’t display his medals, he really liked this feature!)

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Despite the bottle opener abilities, I think last year’s medal was a lot cooler.  What do you think?  I absolute hate huge logos displayed across a finisher’s medal (remember my beef with the Chicago Marathon medal?)

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After we went back to the hotel, showered, hung out for a bit with Nikki (who finished her first half despite a foot stress fracture and stomach problems), Angela (who also finished her first half not far behind me) and Jeremy (who PR’d!  Yay for flat courses!).  We checked out of the hotel, loaded up our cars, and went back to the finish line to wait for Kristy who ran her first marathon!

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After hitting the all-you-can-eat sushi buffet (if you’re ever in the area, go there!), we made our long drive home (why there are always traffic in these roads, even in the middle of March on a Sunday?).

At home, I added my new medal to my medal holder!  I’m running out of space for them…

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Filed under Half Marathon, Pictures, Race, Race Report