Category Archives: i like to run.

races: 13+ in 2013

In the beginning of the year, I signed up for the 13 in 2013 challenge. You could sign up to run 13 races of a specific distance, or choose a variety.

I race a lot and wanted to make it a challenge, but didn’t want to limit myself to a specific distance since that would affect marathon training. I decided I wanted to do 13 races of half marathon distance or longer.

I didn’t have my race schedule fully planned out, and at one point thought it might be tricky to fit them all in. But I kept adding races throughout the year, and even ended up with a bonus race. I even had a surprisingly low number of events at my minimum 13.1 distance — only two!

  1. Ragnar Florida Keys (my total = 18 miles) — 1/4-1/5/2013
  2. Shamrock Marathon — 3/17/2013 4:10:12
  3. Kent Island Metric Marathon (26.2K/16.3mi)  — 4/14/2013 2:35:38
  4. Country Music Marathon  — 4/27/2013 4:20:54
  5. North Face 50K  — 6/1/2013 7:42:31
  6. Rosaryville 25K Trail Race  — 7/21/13 3:13:51
  7. Endless Summer 6-Hour Run — 7/27/2013 31.41 miles
  8. MD Heat Race 25K — 8/3/2013 4:02:44
  9. VA Beach Rock ‘n’ Roll 1/2 Marathon — 9/1/2013 2:14:00
  10. Rock ‘n’ Roll Philly 1/2 Marathon — 9/15/2013 2:01:51
  11. Howard County Striders Metric Marathon (26.2K/16.3mi) — 9/21/2013 2:46:03
  12. Annapolis Striders Metric Marathon (26.2K/16.3mi) — 10/6/2013 2:43:58
  13. Atlantic City Marathon — 10/13/2013 4:41:16
  14. Marine Corps Marathon — 10/27/2013 5:43:44

I usually do a lot of races, but this year was just crazy. I’ve previously only ever done two full marathons in one calendar year, and I did four in 2013. Plus two 50Ks (Endless Summer 6-Hour I got past the 50K mark). I would have added a third if I didn’t get injured during fall marathon season!

Below the half-marathon distance, I also raced:

  1. Shamrock 8K — 3/16/2013 (Yes, the day before the marathon, for the Whale Challenge)
  2. Cherry Pit 10 Miler — 4/7/2013
  3. Columbia Triathlon — 5/19/2013 (Olympic Distance 1500m swim / 25-mile bike / 10K run)
  4. Baltimore 10 Miler — 6/15/2013
  5. Father’s Day 10K — 6/16/2013
  6. Women’s Distance Festival 5K — 7/13/2013
  7. John Wall One Mile — 7/20/2013
  8. Dog Days 8K — 8/4/2013
  9. Charles Street 12 Miler — 8/10/2013
  10. Iron Girl Sprint Triathlon — 8/18/2013 (1000m swim / 16-mile bike / 3.3-mile run)
  11. Annapolis 10 Mile Run — 8/25/2013
  12. Patuxent Run for the Refuge 5K — 9/29/2013
  13. Camp Letts Turkey Chase — 11/28/2013
  14. Celtic Solstics 5 Mile Run — 12/14/2013
  15. Anniversary Run 15K — 12/8/2013

And while not technically a race, it still deserves a mention:

  1. Amish Country Bike Tour 100K — 9/7/2013

And this isn’t a race either (no time, just a little over a mile), but it came with a T-shirt and got me out of my comfort zone:

  1. Santa Speedo Run — 12/21/2013


It seems I may have gotten my numbers mixed up. 31 in 2013?

I enjoyed this challenge, but I will not be signing up for 14 in 2014. I have to make sure I’m healthy and injury-free for my first half ironman triathlon! I am signed up for Raleigh June 1, and will not let myself do anything longer than a half marathon until after the race!

I’m happy to stick to shorter distances for now, and will gradually build mileage again when my running club’s half marathon training group starts up in a few weeks. But I’ll just be there for the company, I may not always do all the mileage.

It’s actually nice that I’m not training for any races for a little while!

race report: marine corps marathon

But before I get to that … let me go back a bit.

I wasn’t even going to run a marathon this fall. I was originally going to step back from long-distance running and do a 100-mile bike ride instead. But back in the spring, I learned about the Saucony 26 Strong program. Saucony and Competitor magazine were putting together 26 teams of two — one experienced marathon “vet” and one first-timer “cadet” — and following them as they trained and raced fall marathons. Well, that sounded cool. I filled out a form and didn’t think anything of it …

Until I was welcomed into the program.


Well then, I guess I was running a fall marathon! My cadet Cathy wanted to run Marine Corps, which was already closed out. She got in with a charity team, while I decided I’d run a different race  (Atlantic City) and cheer her on at MCM.

But when my running club had some leftover spots from their marathon training program (they get a number of reserved slots for first-timers) … I jumped at the chance to join Cathy for her first marathon.

Cathy and I live in the same town, are both members of our running club, and have some common friends, but we had never met. We chatted a lot by email throughout the summer — I tried to offer as much guidance as I could to help her train. We both had busy summers, but finally caught up after a common race in August. We finally got to run together on one of our last long training runs.

And then Cathy started having IT band/knee troubles. And I got hurt running Atlantic City. But both of us were determined to get to the starting line. I was seeing a chiro for ART, she pretty much had a team of doctors and therapists working on her. We were hoping for the best!

Race morning, we met up and decided to start together with another friend. The race started out great. The crowds kept us from starting too fast, and we warmed up quickly. We had a fantastic first 10K.

But Cathy started feeling a twinge in her knee. And not long after, my ankle started to hurt. We ran through it until a medical station around the eight-mile mark, where we tried to get Cathy some Biofreeze. No luck, we settled for some Tylenol and headed on our way. We told our friend to go ahead since she was feeling fine. I was going stick with Cathy and see her through her race.

From here, we started adding walk breaks. It helped her a little bit … for a while. But the pain got worse, and the walk breaks got longer. At least it was a beautiful day out, but I wish it wasn’t so painful for both of us.

Slowly but surely, the miles did tick by, even if they took longer than we anticipated. Poor Cathy was so upset that her first marathon was not the magical experience she wanted it to be. I know exactly how she felt — I was there just two weeks earlier when my goal race fell apart.

I was running Marine Corps for fun. Time wasn’t a factor for me — even though I did expect we’d come in quite a bit sooner than we actually did. But now that I look back, it really was a great experience. Last year, I had a rough time during Marine Corps and hadn’t planned to run it this year. I’m so glad I did. I actually had a great time this year … despite the pain.

I never really hit a wall. I was enjoying the race atmosphere and amazing crowds that come out in DC and Virginia. I saw so many of my friends out on the course. I was helping my cadet achieve her goal, even if it wasn’t the day she planned.

When we finally got to the huge hill that separated us from the finish line, Cathy powered through the pain. We ran the whole hill, the longest spurt we had without walking in many miles.

Mission accomplished.

Congratulations, Cathy! You are a marathoner!



race report: atlantic city marathon

This was supposed to be my “goal” race. My ultimate marathon goal at the moment is a sub-4 marathon, but going into this race I knew that wasn’t going to happen for a number of reasons.

My speed work has been a bit sporadic, not helped by my pulling a hamstring back in August. Not bad enough that I ever had to stop running, but I have had to back down a bit.  I ran two half marathons in September, one being a real disaster at 2:14, the other a decent 2:01 … but it’s still been over a year since I’ve run a half under two hours. I think that has to be pretty comfortable before I can realistically expect to run a full marathon at that pace!

Goals revised, I decided to line up with the 4:10 pacer. My PR is a 4:09, and I was hoping I could hang with her most of the race, and surge towards the end giving myself a shot at a new PR.

But that didn’t happen. Not even close.

Not the race I was hoping for.
Not the race I was hoping for.

Things started out fine. We had a nice little group and were hitting the mile markers right on pace. We ran along the boardwalk, and then hit the road, doing a few miles around the farther casinos before returning to the boardwalk.

We ran past the finish line around mile nine (I hate that!) and got to see some of the half marathoners coming back. Near mile 11, we passed the half marathon turnaround (I hate that too!), and then it was just the marathoners left.

We got off the boardwalk and continued along the road. We hit the halfway point right on time, around 2:05. I was starting to struggle, though.

Part of it was me wanting to stop. Some days I can will myself to keep up the pace, other times I can’t. Clearly, I could not this day.

It wasn’t just “The Wall.” I was starting to hurt — it was my ankle.

I had a little pain at the end of a 14-miler two weeks before the marathon. It was just a twinge, though, and was completely fine post run. I brushed it off.

That same pain returned late in a 16-mile race (that I ran easy!) one week before the race. It didn’t bother me much during, but did hurt that night and the day after. The next day it was fine, and I felt no pain during a short run during the week. I figured it was tight calves and did some stretching/rolling.

Marathon day, though, it came back. My pace slowed way down, and I started taking walk breaks. Most of the time I managed to keep running and use the water stops as my walk breaks.

The 4:20 pace group passed me, as did the 4:30 group. At least I wasn’t the only one struggling that day. I chatted with a girl from the 4:00 group that was shuffling along around my pace for a little while. She dug deep, though, and pulled away as we got closer to the finish.

We got back to the boardwalk for the last three miles. I was happy to be nearing the end, and enjoyed the ocean views, but was near tears many times. The pain was pretty bad, but I was so disappointed. Disappointed that this wasn’t the race I wanted. That running MCM in two weeks could be in jeopardy with this injury. That I wasn’t enjoying this race.

The 4:40 pace group passed me. We got back to the busier part of the boardwalk, and I was annoyed that there was nothing to designate a race was going on. People were milling about, and tired runners had to watch out for obstacles!

It wasn’t until the last .2 or so that there were barriers and spectators. My husband was there cheering for me, and I didn’t even smile. I thought I sent him a disappointed/sad face, but he said I looked pissed. Sorry honey!

At least I managed to get up to a 10-minute pace for the last .2. I always sprint once I can see the finish line. And at that point in time, that was my sprint!

At least I got a light-up bottle opener medal.

It's always worth it.
It’s always worth it.

Marathon #10 done.

I decided I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. While far off my goal and far from my PR, it’s still faster than four of my marathons. And I finished. Not how I wanted, but I got it done.

One week later … I’m not entirely pain-free, but doing better. I’ve gone on two runs (three and six miles at easy paces), and felt fine. I got a massage. I’ve seen a chiropractor for some ART. She didn’t think running was out of the question (yay!). She’ll work on me again this week, and tape me for MCM.

Which I will run with NO goals.

And *then* I will take a long-distance break 🙂

race crazy

I love races.

Big or small, I enjoy the the energy in the air when bib-wearing runners line up together with the same goal. This summer and fall, though,  I may have gotten a little carried away.

I accidentally scheduled something for Every. Single. Weekend. I knew I was doing a lot, but didn’t realize how ridiculous it was until I added everything to my calendar.

I’m going to skip June because I *only* ran three races (June 1 North Face 50K, June 15 Baltimore 10 miler, June 16 Father’s Day 10K) … and that was before the consecutive weeks started.

Women’s Distance Festival 5K (plus marathon training miles)

July13 – Women’s Distance Festival 5K
It was a last-minute decision to run this race. Saturdays are for marathon training, and my running partner and I decided to incorporate the race into our long run. We ran six miles before the race, and about five after to make it 14 for the day. I even managed a third-place age group award!

July 20 – John Wall One Mile Race
I definitely prefer longer distances, but this is part of my running club’s Championship Series. We had another race planned for the next day, so I only did about three miles total for the day. Got a PR by about 10 seconds — it’s been awhile since I raced a mile!

Rosaryville 25K

July 21 – Rosaryville 25K Trail Race
This race had a variety of distances, from a 10K to a 50K. The 25K fit nicely into our marathon training schedule. It was really, really hot that day, but we had a good time! The two-loop course is fairly gentle, but the uphills were a lot more noticeable the second time around.

July 27 – Endless Summer 6-Hour Run
I actually blogged about this one. But if you don’t feel like hopping over there, this was a six-hour timed event held in a nearby park. We ran as many 4ish-mile loops as we could in that time on a paved trail. I was pleased with my total of 31.41 miles!

MD Heat Race 25K
MD Heat Race 25K

August 3 – MD Heat Race 25K Trail Race
This was my second year running this race. A much more challenging trail than Rosaryville, but it’s a lot of fun — this course includes tough climbs and stream crossings. Oddly enough, it wasn’t that hot out! The weather definitely helped me cut 19 minutes off last year’s time.

August 4 – Dog Days 8K
Two days in a row, an unseasonably cool day on what otherwise should be a hot race! I thought I might be a bit tired from the previous day’s tough race, but I was only 45 seconds slower than last year!

Charles St 12 Miler
Charles St 12 Miler

August 10 – Charles Street 12 Miler
New race, and a unique distance. They billed this race as being downhill. Sure, it did go down a lot more than up. But the ups were pretty tough, and there were a lot more of them than expected! It was still a nice event, with a sweet UA hoodie as the premium.

August 18 – Iron Girl Columbia Sprint Triathlon
My sixth time doing this event. I pulled a hamstring a few days prior (I learned the hard way not to try to stretch out a super tight hammy), so I was a little concerned. The swim and bike felt fine, the run was actually much better than expected. It only really bothered me going up hills. So I walked. Those hills suck, anyway. And I think I usually take walk breaks at that point! My run time wasn’t bad, despite the hill breaks, and I was happy to finish another triathlon!

August 25 – Annapolis 10-Mile Run
The Annapolis Striders flagship run. We had beautiful weather for a change. Usually, you can expect hazy/hot/humid. Last year, we had a torrential downpour. The year before, it was cancelled because of a hurricane. But this year it was lovely. I had a pretty good run, despite a still-healing hamstring.

Rock 'n' Roll VA Beach
Rock ‘n’ Roll VA Beach

September 1 – Rock ‘n’ Roll VA Beach Half Marathon
I had a 20-miler on my marathon training schedule, but I knew that wasn’t going  to happen. I was happy that I managed to run four miles before the race. Close enough. My warm-up miles felt great, but the race went downhill fast. Legs just felt sluggish, and I suppose the 75*/95% humidity didn’t help. Slowest half marathon in quite a while, I think. But a bad race was still a good training run.

Amish Country Bike Tour
Amish Country Bike Tour

September 7 – Amish  Country Bike Tour 100K Ride
My first metric century! I joined some friends to bike through the Delaware countryside, starting in Dover. It was a perfect day, sunny and cool. This ride is known for its pie stop. Yum!  We had a great time, and I’ll definitely be back to do it again. Maybe even upgrade to the 100 miler?

Rock 'n' Roll Philly
Rock ‘n’ Roll Philly

September 14 – Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon
Girls weekend in Philly! I joined two friends for this trip. One of them is speedy and moved up a few corrals, but the other ran with me for the race. We both had some minor ailments (my hip/IT band had been tight all week, and decided it did not want to run more than six miles), but we helped motivate each other to keep a decent pace.  No PR, but in my top 5. I’ll take it! We added a little mileage beforehand to make it a 16-mile day.

Metric Marathon +
Metric Marathon +

September 21 – Howard County Striders Metric Marathon
Signing up for a 16.3-mile race is a good way to get in some marathon training mileage … but I really needed a 20 miler. All these shorter races messed up my schedule! I got there early enough to run three and a half miles before the race. I was happy to hit the finish line at 19.9. Very easy to top it off! My hip/IT started bothering me again about halfway through the race. I started incorporating walk breaks so my pace took a hit. But still a solid training run.

And now I’m all caught up to this weekend.

I wasn’t going to race this weekend.  But our 10K class (I’m a mentor) is running a 5K on Sunday. It’s partial trail, so I know it won’t be a super fast race. I decided I’d like to join them 🙂

Upcoming, I have another Metric Marathon on October 5, this time with my running club, and the Atlantic City Marathon on October 13.

After that I’ll take a break!

Um, for one week. Because then I’m running the Marine Corps Marathon on October 27.

And *then* I’ll be done.

Because I have to miss my club’s 5-mile race on November 2 for a wedding.

And I’m pretty sure I’m *not* going to do a 50K on November 9 …

race report: endless summer six-hour run

July 27, 2013 was the third year my running club has held the Endless Summer Six-Hour Run. In previous years, I either had other events, or just wasn’t up to that kind of mileage.

They allow both relay teams of three and solo runners. Some of my friends did the relay, but I was more interested in the personal challenge. And with the North Face 50K less than two months prior, I felt my body was in good enough shape for distance. I didn’t train specifically for this event, but I had to give it a shot.

I was on the fence for a while, until I saw a Facebook posting that they were counting down the remaining spots before closeout. Only 14 left! I jumped off the fence and registered that day.

Endless Summer Run Swag
Cool swag!

The race is held on a paved trail through Quiet Waters Park. There’s a loop that’s slightly over four miles long, and you run as many loops as you can in six hours. Sounds horrible, right?

I usually hate loop courses, but I really wanted to do this for some reason. And it actually wasn’t bad. In fact, I had a really great time! I was a bit nervous going into this race, but I’m glad I had nothing to worry about.

Happily running in circles! Photo courtesy of Jon Valentine / Annapolis Striders
Happily running in circles! Photo courtesy of Jon Valentine / Annapolis Striders

It probably helps that it was a small race, and that I knew many of the racers and most of the volunteers. You’d check in at the end of every loop, and stop to refill water and snack at the well-stocked aid station. After my first loop, a chocolate chip cookie called to me, but shortly after I realized that wasn’t the best fuel choice. Tasty, but didn’t feel the greatest. I stuck to watermelon and bananas after that, and took Gu a few times around the midpoint of a loop.

We got lucky with great weather. The previous week was a heatwave, but it was in the 70s and as pleasant as we could hope for in late July. The park is mostly shaded, too, with just a few short stretches in the sun. Sure I was super sweaty most of the day, but I wasn’t too terribly uncomfortable.

I kept my pace easy from the start, and walked up the biggest hills. For my first five loops, I had three walking sections. After that, I added a few more! Where did those new hills come from? 🙂

Still, even as I fatigued, I kept a fairly steady pace. My times slowed as the loops increased a minute or so at a time, which will be attributed to extra walk breaks and longer aid stops. I felt strong, even to the end. When we were on our last loop, we were given a small flag with our bib number on it. When time ran out they sounded an air horn, and we put our flag in the ground.

The race volunteers measured our partial mileage to give us totals for the full six hours. I heard that last year, they didn’t count partial loops. I was glad for the change back to the first-year format. I still had 30 minutes left after my last full loop, and managed to run another 2.36 miles!

Official total for the day was 31.41 miles and seven full loops (Minutes for each loop: 43, 43, 45, 47, 48, 50, 53). My Garmin was only slightly ahead, which is pretty good considering all the tree coverage. There have been times Garmin has lost a couple miles in this park when only doing one loop!


That’s a 50K and a little extra, folks. I couldn’t have asked for a better performance from my body! Well, it would have been nice to finish eight loops, but I’ll take it.

I had such a blast. There was no ‘wall’ that usually happens during a marathon. I’m not sure if it was the break every four miles, the extra fueling (I usually take one Gu per hour and that’s it), or the fact that speed didn’t matter to me (some people may have been trying for faster, but I was mostly concerned with pacing myself for the hours!).  Maybe that made it a little mentally easier.

How long’s the race you’re running? However far you get in six hours!

I even put my first-ever running sticker on my car. Not sure why I never got into the distance stickers, but I really like this one. And I’m proud of my race!

Endless Summer Sticker
I earned it!

Will I do it again next year? I’m not sure. I haven’t figured out my 2014 plans yet, but if my legs are up for the mileage, I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.  It was a great experience!