Catching Up!

Hi Hi – Happy Monday!  I was on a blogging roll for a couple of weeks, then it got a little quiet around here.  I thought I would catch you all up: 

  • The Kwanzan cherry blossoms are in bloom.  Aren’t they pretty?  I prefer them over the Yoshino cherry blossoms. Thanks to Mandy for the Blossom 101 🙂
  • Work has been crazy the past two weeks..hence the lack of blogging, replying, commenting, and running 🙁 
  • Why so bananas? I gave my two weeks because I HAVE A NEW JOB! Same industry/job, new company. 
  • Today was my first day and I learned the company reimburses employees three running races (up to $30 each) <–Ummm… awesome!
  • In local news, read the cutest post today -> 90-Something Book Lovers Go On A Blind Date At Politics & Prose

I may be a little slower to respond/post the next couple of weeks…didn’t want to leave you all hanging.  

CONGRATS to all the Boston Marathoners!! 


Friday Five – Favorite Water Bottles

Happy Fri-yay! I’m en route to Cincinnati, Ohio – my first time in the Buckeye State! Cliff’s cousin is having her wedding reception this weekend so we are road tripping there (yes we like to drive haha).  Today I am sharing five of my favorite water bottles (non-running) and linking up with Mar, Courtney, and Cynthia.  Totally counts under the theme of food + drink, right? 😉 

1. S’well + S’ip by S’well Bottles 

S’well water bottles have been popping up everywhere the past couple of years. They keep drinks cold for 24 hours and hot for 12 hours + they do not sweat. I love mine and use it in the office.  A couple of weeks ago I was pleased to find out that the company rolled out a new line at Target called S’ip by S’well.  They hold 15oz and come in a variety of prints (note – the website says the bottles will keep drinks at the right temperature, but does not specify the time like S’well).  

I picked up these..and no they are not all for me.  I am keeping the pineapple one 🙂 

2. Lululemon Glass Water Bottle

Cliff bought me a Lululemon Glass Water Bottle (has a rubbery sleeve) – I usually rotate this between the office and barre class, my co-workers probably think I have a problem 😛 How many water bottles can a girl have? 

3. Nuun Water Bottles 

I do like picking up the commemorative Nuun bottles – I have ones from New York, Chicago, Marine Corps and Shamrock. They bring back many memories when I use them (usually during spin class).  


4. O2COOL Mist ‘N Sip Water Bottle 

A couple years ago my brother bought me an O2COOL Mist ‘N Sip water bottle for Christmas. Part water bottle and part mister, there is a trigger that squirts mist.  I’ve brought this along for hikes during the summer months.  

5. Whole Foods Wide Mouth Water Bottle (BPA Free) 

Last year I purchased this water bottle at the Whole Food’s flagship store in Austin, Texas. It holds 32oz of water and I like using it for hot yoga. 


I do have a bunch of freebie water bottles from races and running stores sitting in my kitchen cupboards…I should use the KonMarie Method and throw them out (I just finished The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing by Marie Kondo).  

Do you have multiple water bottles? 

What is your favorite? (Running or non-running) 



Running the USA + DC

Yesterday I had dinner with my friends Nathasha (check out her blog Running the States) and Emily.  You probably remember them from my Charleston and Philadelphia Love Run recaps (Rehoboth coming soon).  It it always super fun catching up with them – life, work, travel, and of course running! We have some 2017 plans sketched out that I am very excited about, one that hopefully includes a west coast visit. Okay, Jennifer…so how is this related to this post? 

PS – Thanks to the Mar for the map hookup! 
PPS – Thanks to Kathleen for proofing my map 🙂

One of my lifetime goals is to run a half or full in every state, so a lot of our chit chat revolved around races in different states (Nathasha also has the same goal…hence her blog title).  I’ve alluded to it in the past, but never wrote a post about it until now.  So far I have run 4 marathons and 25 half marathons, but have only covered 9 states and the District of Columbia (repeat states). 

States completed are shaded in blue and states planned for 2016 are shaded in grey.  I have a 50 States tab in my header that will keep track of my progress and point to my race recaps (tagging them is a work in progress).  I have a wish list spreadsheet, but always interested to hear what others have done and their recommendations.  

Do you have any race recommendations? (specially for the states in white) 

Do you have the same or similar goal? 

2016 St. Pat’s Run 5K Race Recap

St. Patrick’s Day races – they are always fun and festive. Pacers Running typically hosts their St. Patrick’s themed race the first weekend of March in Washington, DC. 

Image: Pacers Running

I’ve participated in their races for the past two years: 

Last year was the inaugural running of the 5K and 10K.  The course was moved from Pennsylvania/Capitol area to the Mall/Tidal Basin.  You may recall it was snowing last year – which made the course a bit treacherous towards the end. 


I wanted a second chance at the Double (run the 5K followed by the 10K) since my 10K was a bit of a disaster last year.  

Packet Pickup

Per usual I picked up my bib at my local Pacer’s store the Friday before the race.  I went after work and was in and out in less than 10 minutes (which included picking up my friend’s bibs).  This year runners could opt out of a technical shirt and choose a $10 Pacers gift card during registration – yes please! This girl did not need another shirt 🙂 

Race Goals (“A” least probable and “C” most probable)

The St. Pat’s race would serve as a tune up/training run for the Gate River Run 15K, which was held the following weekend.  

  • A – 1:47:50 or 11:34 min/mile <- my 2015 Clarendon Day Double total) 
  • B – 1:52:10 or or 12:03 min/mile <- my 2015 St. Pat’s Day Double total) 
  • C – 1:56:15 or or 12:30 min/mile  

My overarching goal for the race was to run consistent splits for both the 5K and 10K, which is why I used a total time goal.  I thought I would finish somewhere between my “A” and “B” goals, based on my recent training runs. 

St.Pat’s 5K and 10K

Crossed out 10K, what happened?! The night before the race I had some stomach cramps, ugh.  There was no change the next morning, what is a girl to do?  I popped some Advil and walked downtown. Sometimes exercise makes the cramps go away, so I figured I would give the 5K a shot and reassess how I felt afterwards.  

Everyone magically appeared! I love all the green. 

I  met up with my friends, Susan, Jenn and Brett<–photo cred, thanks! 

The race started at 8:15AM and followed the same course as last year – west on Independence Avenue, pass the Memorial Bridge, around the Tidal Basin and back to the Mall (same finish area as Cherry Blossom – hill included). 

Image: Pacers St. Pats 5K

Ready for the start! I saw Colleen and her daughter Avery right after I crossed the starting mat.  

I ran the first mile with Brett (who ended up with a PR) and saw Colleen and her daughter a After the turnaround, I told him to run ahead without me.  

  • Mile 1: 12:00 Twelve-zero-zero, how cool is that….my tummy 🙁
  • Mile 2: 12:21  Yeah…it’s not going away
  • Mile 3: 12:27 Want to curl up in a fetal position

The cramps did not go away.  It was one of the races in which I was looking at my Garmin the entire time – wanted it to be over (and I love this course).  Jenn met me on top of the “hill” and I even had to walk a little bit before heading downhill.  I finished with an official time of 38:49 or 12:30 min/mile (funny..right where I wanted to be).  

My body was going to fight me if I ran the 10K, so I collected my 5K medal (new this year) and went home.  

Final Thoughts 

  • Thank you Mother Nature for no snow/ice/sleet. 
  • love that Pacers now offers a $10 gift certificate in lieu of a technical shirt (which was cute). 
  • Different color bibs for 5K, 10K and Double runners. 
  • Another well organized event. 
  • There were medals for all participants this year (they were only given to Double participants last year).  5K or 10K runners received the medal shown above.  Double runners received an additional medal.  
  • Flat, fast course – PRs are made here. 
  • Free photos by Swim Bike Run Photography
  • There is also a kid’s dash.  

 Maybe third times a charm? I’m gonna get you next year St. Pat’s Double! 

Did you run the Pacers St. Pat’s 5K or 10K? 

Are you running any Doubles this year? 

Covered Bridges Half Training Week 2-3/28-4/3

Woah, how is it April already?! This week was filled with loads of runs and fun. 

Image: Covered Bridges Half Marathon 

One of the highlights….if you click on the left picture I made the Meb Selfie! 

Monday 3/28 – 5 miles | 12:40 min/mile + 6 x 100 meter strides

Downtown DC route – this time I ran clockwise towards the Capitol, with an average of 12:40 min/mile (12:49, 12:38, 12:39, 12:41, 12:34).  Completed 6 x 100 meter strides on Pennsylvania…legs were tired. 

Tuesday 3/29 – Rest Day 

Foam rolling and stretching. 

Wednesday 3/30 – 4 miles | 12:43 min/mile 

Recovery run out and back towards the Shaw neighborhood.  Average 12:43 min/mile (12:45, 12:43 ,12:46 ,12:39).  Based on that, I probably could pick it up a bit for my Monday workouts.  

Thursday 3/31 – Rest Day

Missed barre this week, but was able to attend an event hosted by Potomac River Running Arlington.  Meb, oh you know the 2014 Boston Marathon winner + Olympian + Team USA 2016, was in town for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler and was the guest speaker.  I arrived close to 5:30PM and (finally) met my blogging buddy, Kim (we proceeded to run into each other on Friday and Sunday).  

I attended the event with my friend Emily, her co-worker Olamide, and the Oiselle ladies.  If you ever get an opportunity to see Meb, you should! He is such a great speaker and inspiration.  

Friday 4/1 – Rest Day

Did a little shuffling with my schedule this week since I had the Marine Corps Marathon 17.75K and Cherry Blossom 5K this weekend. I took some PTO (paid time off) so I could volunteer at the Cherry Blossom Expo (volunteers receive guaranteed entry for the next year).  

I signed up for t-shirt exchange…which happened to be right by Meb! Funny, right?! 

Afterwards I met Cliff for some sushi at Raku.  I thought Cliff’s dish was super pretty.   

Saturday 4/2 – 7 miles | 14:17 min/mile + 4 mile recovery 

I signed up for the Marine Corps Marathon 17.75K and holy moly hills! With Kelly pre-race.  

I had a 7 mile long run on the schedule, so I decided to use the first 7 miles as my long run and the last 4 miles as recovery.  Those miles were tough! I had to walk several of the inclines, I finished with an average of 14:17 min/mile (13:41, 14:38, 13:42, 12:57, 16:15, 14:15, 14:30).  Recap to come! 

Sunday 4/3 – 3.1 miles | 14:26 min/mile

A chilly/windy day for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler and 5K – recap to come as well.  I let Cliff take the lead and we mixed it up with some running and walking.  The last mile we had a consistent run/walk ratio of 1:1 and during those 60 seconds of running we were in the low 9s or 10s – Cliff can sprint!  This was a nice confidence booster that I shared with my coach. I’ve usually been in the 11s when I run my pickups, so this told me I may be holding back a bit.  We finished with an average of 14:26 min/mile (14:54, 15:14, 13:16).

After a post 5K brunch, I visited my parents and picked up my ROLL 8 Recovery (I talked about it during my Friday Five). Looks scary, but it definitely felt good on my tired legs.   Review/video to come. 

Weekly Total:  23.1 miles | 4 Runs

Year to Date: 220.86 miles | 43 Runs

How was your weekend? 

Have you ever met a running “star”? 

Friday Five – Recovery Tools and Gadgets

Happy Friday!  When I started running again (consistently) in 2013 – I was introduced to the wonderful topic of recovery. You mean recovery is more than a few stretches and lying in bed?! 😉 Today I am sharing five of my recovery tools and gadgets and linking up with Mar, Courtney, and Cynthia. Note: These are not affiliate links – just haven’t joined the program to do so (yet).  

1. Rolling Rolling Rolling 

Image: TriggerPoint

I started off with a foam roller – ouch it hurt so good. Eventually the foam roller was not dense enough for me.  My gym carried a few TriggerPoint GRID foam rollers and I fell in love.  

2. Massage Stick

Image: RPI Sprinter Stick 

A couple years ago, my brother gifted me with a similar looking massage stick for Christmas.  I wasn’t sure if I would put it to good use because I already had a foam roller, I was mistaken.  The stick is a little more portable than the foam roller.  I keep mine in my office and I can discreetly massage my legs while I’m sitting at my desk.  

3. I’m a Baller!  

Image: TriggerPoint

Haha I couldn’t resist with that title.  The massage ball is fairly new to me – I was introduced to it during physical therapy this past fall/winter.  It is a good way to get into those knots/areas that a foam roller cannot dig into.  I have a TriggerPoint Massage Ball, but lacrosse or tennis balls work as well. 

4. Stretch it Out 

Image: Valeo Stretch Bands 

I started using stretch bands to help with my…can you guess….stretching.  You often find them in pilates, yoga or barre studios.  They are pretty inexpensive and can also be used for arm workouts.  

5. ROLL Recovery 8

Image: ROLL Recovery

The ROLL Recovery 8 is a deep tissue massage roller.  Kinda scary looking huh? I heard so many good reviews about it, so I decided to order one last week (a belated birthday treat myself moment).  Once I pick it up from my parent’s house I will post a review of it.  Can’t wait to try it! 

Do you use any of these recovery tools? 

What do you use? 


2015 Marine Corps Marathon Race Recap

Five months later….here it is…the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon Race Recap!  Since I waited this long, I thought it would be appropriate to post it the same day as the MCM Lottery results.  

I originally signed up for the Marine Corps Marathon in case I did not get into the Chicago Marathon.  Lottery day I was notified I was not selected for MCM – it is okay Jennifer hopefully you’ll get into Chicago (MCM lottery results are announced before Chicago, even though it is held later).  The next week I received a nice surprise, a “second chance registration” email from MCM.  Turns out I was selected, but there was processing issues with my credit card on file (old card). Once I got into Chicago I decided that would be my goal race and MCM would be for “fun” <—haha who says that 🙂 

Image: Marine Marathon 

After the Chicago Marathon (Part 1, Part 2), I wasn’t sure I would run it.  The Marine Corps Marathon was two weeks later and I was nursing a quad injury.  I gave it some time and decided I would run it if my quad was feeling better (in hindsight I probably should have not).  

Fun Fact: The Marine Corps Marathon was my first marathon in 2007! Back then I registered in person AND on paper at a MCM kickoff event at Pentagon Row.  The expo was held at at Stadium Armory (the Convention Center was not even built yet), instead of making a right into Georgetown after Sprout Runway we made a left towards the Reservoir, and the Awakening was still at Hains Point (which were miles 17-19 at the time – yup before the bridge). 

Packet Pickup/Expo

I was very happy to learn packet pickup/expo returned to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center this year – so close to my office!

I made plans with Nathasha (also her second MCM) to meet at the expo. I arrived close to 5:00PM and walked (which seemed like forever) to the entrance. 

A new kind of shoe shot 🙂 

Am I headed in the right direction? 

Told ya it was a long way.  Service was a little spotty, but luckily my text messaging worked. 

Even though I looked up my bib number before I left work, I forgot my sticky note on my desk! Oh Jennifer! No problem, I went to a table and the Marine looked it up for me.  Then I went to the booth with my bib number – so organized.  At this point it wasn’t too crowded.   I also received the 40th anniversary patch when I picked up my bib. 



Bib photo in front of the map – obvi.  I was completely exhausted from work, glad I was able to hide it for the picture.  

I was not the only one exhausted that day.  I went to the shirt area and the Marine picked my shirt and said, “here you go sir.”  I smiled and he immediately apologized – he was super embarrassed.  I’m sure he said “sir” a hundred times that afternoon and I wasn’t offended – after all my hair was down, I was wearing a dress and booties. Now back to the goodies. 


The traditional mock neck shirt was beautiful! It was ruby (get it, for the 40th year) and fleece lined.  Much nicer than my cotton version from 2007 (picture here).  I do admit, it is difficult to pull that mock neck over my large head! If you go to the Marine Corps Marathon & 10K Club Facebook group (unofficial) several people went to a tailor and had their mock necks converted to a half zip. It is on my to do list, I want to Rock my Mock

After a few pictures, I went to the Brooks Store.  Since it was the 40th year and I did not purchase (gasp) anything from my first marathon, I decided I would pick up a couple items – a hat, pint glass, and the most awesome track jacket (remember the material from the Adidas rip-away pants…that type of material).  The line was long, but it went by quickly.  Next year I would like to volunteer at the Brooks Store – they give volunteers any shoe of their choosing. I’m in for a few pair of shoes 😉 

Next stop – the Nuun table! I wanted to purchase some tubes so I could get the commemorative water bottle – what do you think?  I think I like my NYC and Chicago ones better. 

I met Nathasha and we walked around the expo – always nice catching up.  We were joking how unprepared we felt (logistics wise)- um what time is the start? Anyone anyone? Since it would be crazy race morning we figured we would text each other and if we happened to be near each other – great, if not – good luck! 

Race Goals (“A” least probable and “C” most probable)

I had the same race goals as Chicago. 

  • A – Finish less than 5:30 (~12:34/mile)
  • B – Finish between 5:30-5:59 (~12:35-13:42/mile)
  • C – Finish the 26.2 miles!

Goal A was definitely a BHAG (big, hairy, audacious, goal) for this marathon and Goals B/C were certainly more realistic – after all I was getting over the quad injury (or so I thought) and this was the “fun run”.  

Marine Corps Marathon

The Marine Corps Marathon course starts outside the Pentagon in Virginia, goes into DC and finishes at the Iwo Jima Memorial in Virginia.  The course is pretty flat except for the first 2.5 miles. 

Image: Marine Corps Marathon 

Flat Jennifer! I went with a quasi red, white and blue theme, including a white visor (not pictured) as the forecast called for some rain. No big deal, right? I also decided to wear my Timex watch instead of my Garmin since I had the watch debacle during Chicago (battery died). 

I woke up super early (around 4:00AM) so I could eat, drink, pee and repeat. The metro opened at 5:00AM and my initial plan was to leave my apartment at 5:30PM.  I was ahead of schedule, so I headed to the metro at 5:15AM – I didn’t feel like sitting around my apartment. My land lord left a good luck note – it was a nice surprise. 

Well I was super super glad I got to the metro 15 minutes earlier than planned.  I got off at the Pentagon stop at 6:15AM and made my way to the entrance.  I made it across a pedestrian like bridge and bam – people!  The line behind me starting queuing pretty fast.  I didn’t remember it being like this in 2007.  To make matters worse…it started to rain.  I did bring a poncho with me – so I didn’t mind.  I texted Courtney and she was further back then I was.  

People were growing frustrated as we waited, understandably so as runners were concerned about making it to the start and getting mentally and physically prepared (porta potty stop and bag drop).  I get some people will whine and complain, but boy there were some nasty people who were right next to me – super super negative and inappropriate.  I tried to tone them out.  Best photobomb of the day, courtesy of the guy behind me – anyone know him? 

What caused this long long bottleneck? A combination of new screening tools, the rain, and spectators! The MCM allow spectators to join runners at the start, but that means additional bodies and baggage (literally ) to screen – backpacks, strollers, you name it! After an hour plus of waiting in line, I made it across and found some bushes – I needed to go to the bathroom so badly!  There were plenty of people who had that idea.  

I dropped off my bag at the UPS bag drop and  hustled to the corrals (which is still a bit of a walk).  I made it before the 7:55AM start – whew. I know others were not that lucky and jumped in whenever they got there (which meant faster and slower runners were bunched up).  I took off my poncho and got ready! 

Miles 1-5

The part of the marathon where everything feels great 🙂 I can do this! Energy and adrenaline is at a all time high. The last few miles of the Clarendon Day 10K and 5K course were the first few miles of the MCM – so I was happy to run along a familiar stretch.  The rain started to pick up after the first mile and it was humid. My visor was bothering me for some reason so I ditched it as we approached Wilson.  Next came the hills….I didn’t remember them being this “bad”, I guess I blocked it out after my 8  year sabbatical from the Marine Corps Marathon 🙂 I knew some of my Oiselle teammates were cheering at Mile 2, but I did not see them.  I was so happy to reach the top of the hill – there was a good downhill along Sprout Run Parkway.  Now this I remember.  

My 5K split was 39:24.  By the time I crossed into Georgetown (Miles 4-5) it was still a packed course. I looked for my friends Prianka and Caitlin at the Mile 4 water stop, a little disappointed I didn’t see them, but remembered they were at Water Stop #4 not Mile 4. There was also a mini downhill heading into K Street. 

Miles 5-10

This portion of the course was mainly an out and back through Rock Creek Parkway – don’t worry Calvert Hill not included!  My 10k and 15K splits were 1:18:12 and 1:58:27 respectively.  I don’t mind running along this section as I train here throughout the year – perks of a hometown race.   I was happy to see Prianka and my spirits were still pretty high.  I started to feel twinges in my quad as I approached Mile 10, so I decided to take it a little slower.  This is where I started to go downhill mentally: 

  • Jennifer why are you doing this again? 
  • This is going to hurt so bad, I can’t do it. 
  • Yes you can, you just ran Chicago! 
  • Plus you just bought that jacket. 

Funny/sad to say…that jacket kept me going. Exiting Rock Creek and near the Lincoln Memorial, I heard “Go Jen” – my friend Liz who was there cheering for her husband.   

Miles 11-15

I passed the Kennedy Center and knew Hains Point was near! Woo hoo water.  As I was running along Independence Avenue I saw Kim of Kim Runs Miles with Smiles about 25-50 feet ahead of me (I know large range haha.. I had no idea).  I tried to catch up, but she was inching away from me (one day we will meet, Kim).  I finally reached Hains Point and there was the Blue Mile.  I remembered reading Sue’s 2014 Marine Corps Marathon recap and now understood how moved she was by this stretch.  There were flags and photos of fallen soldiers along this mile.  I reached the 20K mark at 2:41:29.  At this point I was slowing down and my quad was hurting. I decided to start my run/walk interval.  My half split was 2:50:59, which was roughly 3 minutes faster than Chicago.  

Miles 16-20

Exiting Hains Point my 25K split was 3:26:23.  This portion of the course took runners along the mall. I love spectating here, but as a back of the pack marathon runner it was pretty empty. I understand the lousy weather may have played a role in this.  I was also spoiled with Chicago in which the course went through neighborhoods – so there were plenty of people there.  I reached the 30K split at 4:12:01, right after turning away from the Capitol.  I remember seeing photographers crouching on the ground taking pictures from the bottom up….hey guys….not flattering at all, even for the most fit runners! My quad was hurting even more and I slowed down to a 30 second run/walk.  Thank goodness for my Timex.  At this time I also popped in my earbuds.  

Shortly before we turned on 14th Street, I stopped at the first aid station – I needed some Tylenol.  I popped it in my mouth, texted Cliff I was near the bridge and turned left onto 14th.  Biggest surprise of the day: a donkey! Yes a donkey! I wish I took a picture.   

Miles 20-26.2 

Running across the bridge was tough.  It was no longer raining (I actually rained) and it was starting to warm up.  I saw my friend Hoa and he ran with me for a bit before I told him he should go ahead.  Knowing I would see the Oiselle Cowbell Corner and Cliff kept me going.  My 35K split was 4:58:49.  Finally I saw them! Julie, Becca, Erica, Leeann, Taylor, Caitlin (all Yeti-fied) and Emily!  Sorry if I missed anyone.  I’m not going to lie, tears were shed when I hugged Emily.  

Image: Taylor Coffey 

Julie ran with me until the next turn – it was nice to have company.  She reminded me it was all mental from here and she was right (even though I didn’t want to believe it). The aches and pain definitely trumped any logic. I was alone again (and wishing Julie was still there) and then Prianka magically appeared and jumped in with me! What a team!  We parted ways and I knew I would see Cliff and his brother Phil soon.  This part of the course was very very familiar since I ran the Crystal City 5K and Twilight 5K here a couple months ago.   I saw THE circle from afar and there was a huge sprinkler/mister – that felt refreshing.  Finally…Cliff and Phill! They brought me some water and a Diet Coke (Cliff remembered from Chicago).  I chatted with them for a couple of minutes and Cliff massaged my legs a bit.  Then it was time to say goodbye.   The last 5K was tough.  I saw my friend/teammate Michele as I neared the finish.  I know we both just wanted to get to the end. Finally the second to last turn.  

I told myself to run up the hill, but I couldn’t muster the energy.  Those last 200 meters are always so close yet so far. I finished with a time of 6:08:28 or 14:03 min/mile, which was about 2 minutes faster than Chicago.  Unlike Chicago, I wasn’t upset with the time.  I knew I had a bum quad and I would have shot at a marathon PR next year.  

Here are my splits.  You can see where I slowed down and started my intervals.  Mentally and physically the last 10K was the worst – the wall got me big time

Once I crossed the finish line I got in line for my medal. The Marine placed it around my neck and I said thank you. I took pictures in front of the Iwo Jima Memorial – what a beauty! 

Afterwards I got in line to pick up some water, post race food (in this nifty box), and a throwaway jacket (instead of heat blankets).  

Apparently they ran out of the food and throwaway jackets maybe 10-15 minutes after I picked up mine.  There were still people out on the course.  There was chatter in the Marine Corps Marathon & 10K Club Facebook group that the 10K finishers may have accidentally been handed out jackets which caused the shortage (they never received it in the past and the jackets only referenced the Marathon) – not the fault of the runners, who knows, I’m sure the organizers will figure it out next year.  

Cool sign, right? 

Walking across the Key Bridge so I could pick up a cab in Georgetown. I figured it would be less crowded.  

I was hungry so I went to Black & Orange (now closed) for some lunch. 

Later that evening I met Prianka (and Elena), Courtney, Catherine, Caitlin and Julie for a post marathon dinner at Blackjack.  Even though it was only a 10 minute walk from my apartment….I took a cab.  The legs were sore 🙂 

Final Thoughts

  • Thank you to Marine Corps Marathon organizers for my “second chance”.  
  • Loved the special touches for the 40th Anniversary. 
  • For selfish reasons, I love that the expo was held at the Convention Center.  Next year they are going to move it to the Gaylord Hotel at the National Harbor. It is a beautiful hotel, but National Harbor sits on the Maryland side with no metro stop.  I was not a happy camper when I first heard this news, but after reading this article I understood the business reasons behind it.    
  • Liked the new to me technical shirt for MCM events. 
  • There is a 10K race the same morning and runners finish at Iwo Jima as well.  I would like to run this in 2016.  
  • I had a course PR (not a marathon PR), just be mindful this marathon can be crowded.  It was exacerbated with the security issues in the morning.  
  • When a race recommends going through security when it first opens – I will do that.  I heard runners who went through the same security checkpoint as I did before 6:00AM had no issues.  I thought I was on the earlier side too at 6:15AM…oops. I missed the paratroopers jumping out of the plane.  
  • I wish there was a runners only entrance.  That way runners were not waiting behind spectators.
  • I embraced the rain – it felt good.  
  • Fueling strategy – used the same approach as Chicago.  I carried my fuel, Nuun tablets, and took a salt stick every hour.  I was not dizzy or dehydrated at all. 
  • FYI – if you go to a medical tent they will mark your bib.  Thought you should know that if you keep your bibs and that would annoy you.  Maybe ask that they mark the back? 
  • There is no water stop on the bridge, make sure to drink up beforehand. 
  • There was a Dunkin Donuts Munchkin stop close to Mile 24.
  • Thanks to all the volunteers and Marines out on the course. 
  • I wouldn’t mind if the course was changed a bit to include some of the neighborhoods – maybe Capitol Hill? I know a lot of people travel afar to see the Mall/Memorials, so I understand if they never do.  
  • Food/water – we know how that happens…finishers took more than 1 item.  I saw photos in which people had bottles and  bottles of water and Gatorade in their bags…ummm wait…there was Gatorade?!  Perhaps MCM could educate runners.  
  • As for the jackets – i’m sure MCM will figure it out for next year. 
  • There was a tent in the Finisher’s Village in which you could buy gear – I heard there was a long line and it sold out quickly.  
  • More pictures next time, Jennifer! 
  • Thank you thank you to Cliff, Phil, and Liz for cheering.
  • Of course thanks to the Oiselle ladies! 
  • I probably will not run a marathon two weeks apart again.  
  • Thanks to my old roommate Jess for the nice Runners Box 🙂

Despite the security snafu, the rain, crowded course (which I don’t mind – I like the company) and my gimpy quad I would run this marathon again – it is my hometown race. It won’t be an annual event, but I would like to eventually join the Marine Corps Marathon Runner’s Club (run the marathon five times and receive guranteed entry).  I wouldn’t be surprised if that changes in the future as membership increases.  I look forward to running the 10K and spectating in 2016! 

Will you be running the Marine Corps Marathon in 2016? 

Is the Marine Corps Marathon or 10K on your running bucket list? 

Covered Bridges Half Training Week 1-3/21-3/27

Made it outside this week! I do have the occasional cough, but it so nice not to be sick.  This June I will be running the Covered Bridges Half Marathon in Vermont.  The Berlin Marathon is now six months away (what?!) so this race will be a nice way to assess my overall fitness as marathon training picks up.  

Image: Covered Bridges Half Marathon 

Monday 3/21 – 5 miles | 12:43 min/mile

My usual downtown route at an average 12:43 min/mile (12:53 12:45 12:38 12:43 12:37).  This was my first time running in about 1.5-2 weeks, it wasn’t the prettiest of runs, but I was glad to be out there.  I passed on the optional 10 x 100 meter strides for this week. 

Tuesday 3/22Rest Day 

Foam rolled – the legs were tired! 

Wednesday 3/23 – 4 miles | 12:42 min/mile + 60 minutes barre 

Woke up early and went to a Barre3 class – so nice I only have to walk 5 minutes to get there.  Purply goodness for the morning. 

After work I had 4 miles easy and ran my Adams Morgan route. The easy run was much needed, but I guess I could have taken it in slower – I was still spent.  Average 12:42 min/mile (12:48, 13:01, 12:25, 12:37).  Thank goodness for the downhill portion of this route 😉 

Thursday 3/24 – Rest Day

Rest I did. Random – I passed by a gift shop near work and this caught my eye.  Had no idea they made Cherry Blossom lady gnomes haha.  

Friday 3/25 – Rest Day

Moved Friday’s workout to Saturday. 

Saturday 3/26 – 5 miles | 12:37 min/mile + 60 minutes barre 

The workout was 5 miles with 6 pickups of 90 seconds each.  I warmed up/cooled down for Miles 1/5 and ran 2 pickups each for Miles 2-4.  Definitely the toughest workout of the week as it integrated some speed (and felt tougher than similar workouts prior to my cold).  I went north and ran Rock Creek park.  Average 12:37 min/mile (12:47 12:35 12:23 12:37 12:43).  


Another barre workout 🙂 Love the exposed brick wall. 

Sunday 3/27 – 7 miles | 12:47 min/mile + 60 minutes barre

Long run Sunday – 7 miles at a steady pace.  My goal was to finish them.  I was tempted to run along the tidal basin, but I headed out a little later than I intended and knew I did not want to battle the crowds (I did see some nice cherry blossoms though).  Finished with an average 12:47 min/mile (12:55 12:53 12:43 12:45 12:48 12:37 12:50).  I had to remind myself it will take a couple of weeks to get back to “normal” – running wise. 


I made it to another barre class after my run.  My legs were tired, so I took it easy when I needed to…umm hello squats. 

Afterwards I walked over to Glover Park and enjoyed a nice iced tea and breakfast – I could see the National Cathedral from my table. 

Then I walked home and treated my self with some cake pops.  The store was across from the National Zoo, and that place was hopping! 

Weekly Total: 21 miles | 4 Runs

Year to Date: 197.76 miles | 39 Runs

How was your weekend? 

Did you see the cherry blossoms? 

2015 Damascus Freedom 5K Race Recap

Two posts in one day? Get outta here.  This was my second year (last year’s recap HERE) running the Damascus Freedom 5K, which was held the day after the Bird in Hand Half Marathon. Why run back to races? 


Image: Damascus Freedom 5K

It is a 9/11 remembrance run and the race proceeds benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, Fisher House, USO, Disabled American Veterans, and Hero Dogs. 

Packet Pickup

Like last year, packet pickup was held on Saturday at MMA & Sport in Damascus or beginning at 7:30am on race day.  Since Damascus is a good 40-50 minutes from DC, I choose same day pickup. 

This year they moved the pickup table down by the finish area (no big deal) – I also got another free toothbrush 🙂 A little pre-race picture.

Race Goals (“A” least probable and “C” most probable)

Because I ran the Bird in Hand Half Marathon the day before, I had no ambitious goals.  I wanted to run this for fun and had some non time related goals in mind: 

  • A – Run up the last hill 
  • B – Maintain consistent splits 
  • C –  Do not go out too fast 

Damascus Freedom 5K

I dropped off my shirt in my car and put on my bib and running belt.  There were no changes to the course, it was an out and back along the trails of Damascus Regional Park.  The course is mostly paved with the exception for a little grassy stretch before Mile 2.  

Prior to the 5K we were treated to the kids run. It was fun to see the little ones run up a small hill and down.  Toeing the start line! So simple 🙂

After a moment of silence we were off. This incline was a piece of cake.

Here are my splits with last year’s splits in parentheses: 

  • Mile 1: 10:49 (11:22) wow Jennifer….I promise I held back…I promise 
  • Mile 2: 11:24 (12:02) hmmm I think this is better than last year…ooh they cut the grassy portion 
  • Mile 3: 12:18  (12:49) that hill 

Well, I definitely did not meet any of my goals haha. I went out fast (there is a nice downhill), no consistent splits, and the last hill got the best of me – again!  

Next year I will try to run up the entire hill.  I did finish with a course PR 35:26 or 11:25 min/mile.  That was about a 1.5 minute from last year – although I wasn’t racing it then. 

After I crossed the finish line, I met the race director, Seth.  I had sent him my race recap the year before, so it was nice to put a face to the name.  We also received these nice medals – they were definitely snazzier than last year’s version.

I re-filled my hand held with water and went to the picnic area for the post race food.  I treated myself with some cold watermelon and oranges.

Perfect for a warm day.

There was pizza and hamburgers too – I resisted 🙂

Of course I had to take a picture in the same spot as last year (thank you to the kind paramedics, again). 

Final Thoughts

  • If you signed up before June, the race entry is only $23 (an increase of $2 from 2014). 
  • There is an option for a technical shirt for an additional $5. 
  • The water stop was at the same location, between Miles 1 and 2. 
  • No mile markers – just study the map ahead of time. 
  • It was small race weekend! There were less than 200 participants. 
  • I wish I lived closer to this park, because I really liked the course + the trail was shaded. 
  • Such a nice downhill for the first mile – I tried to reign it in, I promise.  Next year, right 😉
  • 5K finisher’s medal – nice for the short distance. 
  • Yummy post race spread.
  • Hill – I’m coming back to get you (which I said last year too haha).

As long as I am in town in 2016 – I will be back!

What is the smallest race you’ve ever run?

Do you usually run a race in honor of 9/11?

2015 Bird in Hand Half Marathon Race Recap

Another recap! I ran the Bird-in-Hand Half Marathon this past September.  I first heard of this race after reading “Running with the Amish“, a 2012 Runner’s World article by Bart Yasso and Steve Friedman.  The half is held in Amish Country which is in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  The last time I visited the area was in second grade – I remember touring a pretzel factory, riding a train, and eating shoofly pie.  I asked my mom if she was interested in this half and she was in!  Fun fact- she even chaperoned my second grade trip. 

Image: Bird-in-Hand Half Marathon Facebook

The Bird-in-Hand Half Marathon is often found on the “coolest race medals” list.  A horseshoe medal – yes please!

Image: Runner’s World

We registered for the half in December 2014 and it was sold out by April 2015. 


The race was held the Saturday after Labor Day weekend.  I took a half day on Friday and my mom picked me up from work.  The drive from Washington, DC to Bird-in Hand, PA is a little under three hours.  Knowing the route would take us near Jarrettsville Pike, I asked my mom if she could make a small detour to visit a sunflower patch.  These sunflowers are in full bloom every September and planted by Clear Meadow Farm (not at their farm).

My mom entered an address in her GPS and when we got to the final destination there were no sunflowers to be found!  She went inside and the attendant said they rotate the sunflower patches each year.  I didn’t have any service so I could not find the address of the patch.  I was a bit bummed (actually a whole lot since I’ve made a couple unsuccessful attempts to see them), but then my mom spotted a yellow patch when we were leaving town.  It was beautiful!! Many photos and selfies were taken here.

The sunflower stop broke up the trip a bit and we made it to our hotel close to 3:30PM.  We stayed at the Bird-in Hand Family Inn, which was right across from the expo/start/finish area.  The rooms were pretty nice and the bathrooms were renovated.

Packet Pickup/Expo

After we settled in we walked over to the expo around 4:30PM.  We had to cross Old Philadelphia Pike, which was a bit busy, but luckily the cars were moving slowly because they were all turning into the field for pre-race activities.  I made sure to watch my footing, I did not want to step on any horse poo or road apples as they like to call it.  Packet pickup was held the Friday before the race from 11:00AM-7:00PM – it took place on a huge field.  This was one of my favorite photos from the weekend.  

We walked towards the white tent to pickup our bibs.

Race organizers mailed our bib numbers ahead of time.  That Friday there was also a Kids Run and 5K.  If you signed up for the 5K and Half Marathon you received a Fireman Company Challenge shirt.  I thought about signing up for the challenge, but decided against it since I had additional miles to run before/after the half the next day. 

The shirts were red technical tees – one I would actually wear! They also sold old race shirts from years past and my mom purchased a yellow one for $5.00. That particular shirt did not have a year on it – lucky her!

There was also this funny “Exercise Block” in our swag bags 🙂 I giggled and ended up giving this to Cliff.

There were a few running vendors, but of course….this caught my eye.  Apple cider donuts…they were good. 

Baked goods galore!

We didn’t let our sweet tooth take over because we signed up for the pasta and pizza party – which was an all-you-can-eat buffet of spaghetti, pizza, salad, garlic bread, shoofly pie, apple pie, ice cream and beverages.  It cost $14 for adults and $4 for kids. It was held in the same tent as packet pickup. We queued up in another line and they had our names on a list (I think you could also pay at the door).  It was fun to see the Amish women preparing the pizza – they ovens were right behind them.


All the pasta and bread..mmmmm carb heaven.  The pasta was a little overcooked, probably because I had the last helping of the container.  I only made one trip back to get a couple more meatballs.

And for dessert – apple and shoofly pie.  My mom liked the apple, you could guess which one I liked. 

After dinner we went out to the field to watch the Balloon-fest.  We had a nice view and watched them fill the balloons with hot air before taking off. I know my mom would love to take a ride one day out west, but my dad and I are afraid of heights.  Luckily for her I have three other siblings who would be happy to join her.

My favorite balloon!

The balloon launch was followed by the Kids Run, then the 5K, and s’mores featuring guest speaker Chris McDougall, author of Born to Run.  My mom and I were a bit tired so we opted out of the s’mores and went back to the hotel to unpack and relax a bit. 

Race Goals (“A” least probable and “C” most probable)

I used this half as part of my 17 mile training run.  Since this race was also known to be hot and hilly, I was not thinking PR at all.  Based on last week’s Charles Street 12 Miler, I would be happy to finish around 12:30 min/mile (I averaged 12:28 min/mile for that race). 

  • A – Average 11:30 min/mile
  • B – Average 12:00 min/mile
  • C – Average 12:30 min/mile

Bonus Goal: Run up all the hills!

Bird-in-Hand Half Marathon

The race started at 7:30AM…my type of start (especially in the warmer months)!  My mom and I woke up around 6:00AM and walked out our door around 6:45AM.  I made a quick trip to the porta potties and headed out for a mile warm up.  The views were spectacular. 

Hello horse and buggy!

They also had another balloon launch 15 minutes before the race – at this point I was heading back towards the starting line.  There were some climbs and rollings hills and roads were not always paved (most part they were). 

The counter clockwise course took us around the countryside of Bird-in-Hand. 

Liked how simple the start was, no balloons or huge banners, just two signs.

  • Mile 1: 11:56 Feeling good, just a little sweaty 
  • Mile 2: 12:20 Well that changed quickly, a whole lotta sweaty
  • Mile 3: 12:27 Okay getting into a rhythm
  • Mile 4: 12:35 Oyyy the first major hill

It was very warm out – I’m glad I brought my handheld.  The scenery was spectacular.  I wish I took more photos! These pumpkins were huge, I felt like I was in Cinderella’s pumpkin patch.  The local Amish manned the aid stations and the kids were adorable yelling out “water, water”.  I know several people stopped and took pictures of the kids, but I thought out of respect I would not take pictures of them and post them on this blog.  There were even Amish men and women running the half in their skirts and trousers.  

We passed my several farms along the course and several owners turned on their sprinklers and hoses for the runners – much welcomed relief.  There were also cooler chests of ice left along the course.  My favorite part of the course was shortly after Mile 4, we had a little mini out and back for Miles 5-6. We were running along huge rows of corn (no ears). 

  • Mile 5: 12:20 I like this….consistent splits
  • Mile 6: 12:30 Another one!
  • Mile 7: 12:31 And another…
  • Mile 8: 12:31 Bingo!

Hello Wilbur! We ran next to all kinds of animals – including camels.

I took some pictures of the homes we passed by, but unfortunately they were blurry due to my sweaty self.  They were so cute and there was even laundry hanging out to dry.  Around Mile 9-10 there was a Rita’s Ice stop – SO good!

  • Mile 9: 12:47 oh darn, what happened
  • Mile 10: 12:46 getting tired
  • Mile 11: 13:00 it is hot, is it almost over yet
  • Mile 12: 13:07 oh my word my splits
  • Mile 13: 12:42 get it together Jennifer!

I was hot and literally toast for the last third of the half – it was a struggle-fest to finish.  My time was 2:45:03 or 12:36 min/mile.  My plan was to run 3 more miles after the race as I waited for my mom. I only managed .9 more, it was tough running with the medal (no bag check) and holding on to my waterbottle.  Cheesing with my medal.  See what I wore? I thought the Oiselle Flyte tank was tres appropriate for the Bird-in-Hand Half Marathon.  Bird love!

Here is a picure of the finish line, “Vella Shpringa” loosely translate to “Let’s Run”. 

There was only a Runners Only – Rehab Station, a first for me.  There were containers of water and towels for runners to wipe themselves.

This race definitely has a cool medal 🙂

Mom waving- I loved the finish chute!

Afterwards we were treated to a community picnic of hamburgers and hot dogs (including more pie and cake).  It was free for everyone in town.  The line was long, but it moved pretty quickly.  Following lunch we went back to the hotel, showered and checked out.  Then we drove next door to the Bird in Hand Farmers Market.  Posing in front of the buggy.

Happy to be done! This time wearing my Birds of a Feather shirt … haha I am a nerd like that 😛

The indoor market had several food stalls and a little store that sold a hodge podge of items.  I bought a gold horseshoe to use as a paperweight. It started to rain as we made our way back to DC.  I got home, dropped off my bags and went out for 2 more miles, a total of 17 for the day. 

Final Thoughts

  • Proceeds from the race benefited the Bird In Hand Volunteer Fire Company.
  • So lucky to live in area in which there are hundreds of races within a 3 hour radius.  
  • If you heading from the DC/MD area, stop by the sunflower patch on your way there (or just go for some pictures).
  • Enjoyed staying at the hotel across the street – super convenient.  I would say it is like a Hampton or Residence Inn. It was nice to have the expo/start/finish all in the same spot. 
  • Two…did you read it….two balloon launches!!
  • I love when race weekends have different distances – Kids Run, 5K and a Half Marathon.  In hindsight, I wish I ran the 5K the night before to shake out the legs / add mileage for the week (since I was having trouble balancing weekday runs / work). 
  • Packet pickup was easy.  Race organizers said the busiest time was between 5:00-6:30PM. 
  • ALL THE FOOD! The pasta/pizza dinner was perfect and the baked goods – yum. 
  • Because of its early September date, it will likely be hot and humid during the race.
  • Community support/volunteers – packet pickup, aid stations, cheer stations, buckets of ice, and hoses. Thank you!
  • There were pace groups in 10 minute intervals starting with 1:40 to 2:40.  That was nice, I wish there were at least 2 more for the 2:50 and 3:00 back of the packers. 
  • Weaves around the beautiful Amish farmlands of Lancaster County.  One of the more scenic courses I have run (this was my 23rd half marathon). 
  • There were water stops at Miles 1.25, 3.5, 5.5, 7, 8.5 and 11.  It felt like more.
  • Rita’s Ice stop – genius!
  • A smallish race with approximately 1,500 runners. 
  • If you ran the Garden Spot Village Marathon or Half Marathon, runners also received a “Road Apple” award – which is kind of gross, but very unique.  It is a plaque with a piece of sanitized, purified, petrified horse dung.  I saw several people walking around with their plaques. 
  • Hills, hills, hills.  I did not run all of them.
  • The rehab station was a nice touch – would be nice if more races had that, especially in the warmer months.  
  • The community picnic was nice way to say thank you to the town. 
  • Thumbs up to the medal – of course. 

Have you ever been to Amish country?

Have you ever run the Bird-in-Hand Half Marathon? Is it on your bucket list?