2018 Rock n Roll DC Half Marathon

The 2018 Rock n Roll DC Half was awesome, my fourth half marathon overall and a course and personal record! It meant a lot to me because it was my last race in DC for a while and because this city is where I started running more seriously. The course went through neighborhoods I used to live in (two blocks from the first apartment I lived in after college!) and routes I used to take to and from work before I moved to Alexandria. With awesome views of the mall, Rock Creek Park, DC’s residential charm, the Capitol and more, it was a really memorable race that capped off my time living in the area.

If you’ve been following my Training Thoughts or Instagram, you may already know that a friend of mine from college who’s currently based in Philly came down for the race and that we both signed up for it way back in August 2017. After getting both our bibs at packet pick up and checking out the expo, I picked her up at Union Station. In addition to completing the race, we had an awesome weekend of catching up, playing tourist, and having deep conversations.

I wasn’t feeling very optimistic on race morning, but I kept overall outlook in check by just refocusing on the present and soaking the day in, a chilly March morning (around freezing) with a finishing temp in the 40’s. It’s always so exciting at the beginning of the corrals, especially with races as big as the Rock n Roll Series, the announcers are a solid hype team and I am here for it!! My friend from Philly and I ran probably the first 4 to 6 miles somewhat together (she’s faster than me), but this helped my overall pace towards my final PR. Other than actually running the fastest half I had run at that point, my mental game for this race felt really sharp. Any negative or distracting thoughts I had I was able to easily let them pass through without weighing me down. The sunny clear skies were inspiring, and honestly, running through my old stomping grounds and knowing the course really well was a big plus.

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A friend from high school, who’s apartment was literally on the course, joined me for miles 10 to 12. Her company was awesome for these last few miles. She gave me an awesome pep talk about finishing strong, not just the race, but also my journey in DC, how hard I’ve worked to get there and how much I’ve grown. She broke off at the beginning of mile 13, saying I’m going to finish strong, again in this last bit of the race, during my last few weeks in DC.

I’m so glad I got to run this race again before moving out of the DC area. So much has changed from when I ran it last year, and some of those changes have been real tough, but I know that also means I’ve had these opportunities to really grow and learn as a person and as a runner. DC, see you in October for the Marine Corps Marathon!

Congratulations to all the runners! What other events are on your 2018 race roster?

Week 7: RnR DC Half Marathon Training

TRAINING THOUGHTS: Week 7 (Feb 26-March 4) —  14.75 MILES

As I post this today, this week is RACE WEEK! Spring is right around the corner and that has me stoked for so many reasons (warmer weather, greenery, longer daylight hours)! I’ve really grown to love the transition between seasons, the natural occurrence of change in our environment that doesn’t happen in one sweeping motion, but over periods of transition with a little bit of consistent change each day, the sun rising earlier and setting later just a bit more each day. This week’s Training Thoughts revisits some earlier topics and where I was (as a person!) at the beginning of my training.

Cross training

I briefly wrote about cross training in Training Thoughts: Week 2, about how the variety helps shake things up and establish other goals. I’ve found it essential for me to incorporate workout variety in training. During the tail end of this training cycle, I felt like my running workouts were becoming monotonous. Cross training has been my way of still sweating it out and getting my heart rate up when I need a change of pace (pun intended) from running. That being said, since I still plan on running a full marathon later this year, I’m going to need to find ways to re-energize and diversify my runs. I’ve only trained for races on my own, just with a plan I found online, so for me, taking my running and training to the next level in the future could mean joining a group/club or finding a coach! (with lots of room for cross training I hope 🙂 )

Physical, Chemical, & Emotional Stress

Yesterday I went to a Sweat Pink DMV event at Next Phase in Arlington. Afterwards, we snacked on Sweetgreen salads while Dr. Eric Doyle of Palmercare Chiropractic spoke to us about managing three types of stress: physical, chemical, and emotional. He talked about how the majority of our stress manifests in physiological ways and coping recommendations. It was a great talk that affirmed some things I’ve already been doing and what I can improve on in in managing my stress.

You bet I’ve experienced all three of these types of stress and recently, too in the midst of big life changes of the past three months. This training cycle honestly could not have had started at a better time. When I started, I was in an ridiculously rough emotional place. I felt stuck, I felt rejected. In the past seven weeks, I have felt burned out physically, mentally, and emotionally. I have had a good amount of excruciating moments of feeling sad, empty, and doubtful. I’ve cried way more than I want to talk about.  I’ve been hungover a couple of times. I’ve had a few days of eating only take out and non-home prepared meals. But overall, despite the stress of huge life changes, I have not once gotten sick with a cold or the flu. I have not had any injury-like pain from workouts or day-to-day posture (I’ve finally figured out what works best for me in combating the sedentary job). I have had rest days from working out that were truly restorative and made me come back even stronger. I have maintained a very regular sleep schedule. I have accomplished and set new personal fitness, creative, and career goals. I’ve found happiness, confidence, and perseverance.

What this tells me is that I’ve dealt with my stress surprisingly well (hence the stress not wreaking havoc on my body or mental state). It has not always felt like this, especially during rough times (and just trust me when I say rough). But I’ve realized that these moments are part of the process. I let myself feel these overwhelming emotions, sit with them alone and ask why I’m feeling them, then I let them go and do not let them define me. Another important thing is that I do not make self-indulgent choices regular ones. After fully feeling rough times, I make the strong decision to pick myself up instead of wallow, learn from it, and move forward. I figured out what my emotional triggers were and how to cope with them. I continue to make small, consistent decisions that have ultimately made me stronger. In rough moments, it’s been easier to draw upon the new positive experiences I’ve built and grown. I’ve been able to list many concrete things I’ve done and experienced in the past three months that directly show how my energy and effort has led to physical, emotional, and mental growth. I truly feel like the most resilient I have ever been in these three realms because I’ve allowed myself to feel through my physical, chemical, and emotional stress, sitting with it all on my own, healthily expressing it externally, and doing the daily work to address each one. So as this training cycle comes to an end, I’ll be thinking about how far I’ve already come since the New Year and will be pushing myself forward through the race and beyond!

Thank you for reading! If you’d like to read more from the RnR DC Half Marathon Training Thought series, please click here! See you all next training cycle!

Week 6 & 7: RnR DC Half Marathon Training

Training Thoughts: Week 6 & 7 (Feb 12-Feb 25)

I have to admit that these past two weeks have been light mileage wise and with the race in less than 2 weeks, I’m not beating myself up about it! I know that I’ve put in solid work thus far and am still staying sharp in other ways. Exercise wise, I’ve gotten great strength work in as well as awesome yoga practice. In these past two weeks, I’ve done a lot of soul searching about my future and life (which included a relaxing, solo mini road trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina). I’ve made some big life decisions and am now in transition! And I believe the best things can happen during transitions 🙂

Being Present

Do you know someone who says they don’t like yoga because there’s too much posing? Too much just sitting there when they could be doing other things? (Ironically, sometimes I think people with these thoughts could really benefit from practicing yoga and mindfulness!)

Mindfulness takes consistent practice, something that I struggle with everyday, if not every minute or less. Sometimes I struggle with mindfulness during a yoga class, at work when I have a dozen tasks or projects, or when my apartment is a mess and I don’t know where to begin cleaning. Being present and mindful helps me focus on what I can do now, if anything, and frees me from stressing out about things I cannot control. Mindfulness and being present are active choices I must make to focus on the present instead of preoccupying myself with the literally thousands of other things swimming around in my mind. I believe that our choices and intentions in the present make us more actionable, building toward our future vision.

For example, every time I think about skipping or delaying a work out, especially when I’m already awake at 6AM, I try to focus on the present, on the fact that I woke up specifically to create time to be active. Every time I think about procrastinating on a writing project, I think about what time I have now to get some words on paper or plan when I can. This way, all of my deliberate, conscious actions made in the present eventually compound into routines, habits, or paths to my goals. I’m only human, so of course there will be some lapses and getting overwhelmed, but as long as I recognize this, it’s never to late to make the choice to be present and mindful.

My recent reading

Do you like reading while on a cardio machine at the gym? When I was in college, I would sometimes read assignments and articles while on the stationary bike or stair master, but I felt like the multitasking was compromising my attention to both activities. I was also a student who firmly believed in highlighting and annotating, not easy to do while in motion! So in lieu of reading on cardio machines, I’ve been reading a little bit more every day, setting a timer for myself in smaller increments, since I’m someone who likes to read in big chunks but doesn’t often have huge blocks of time to do so.

In 2018, I’ve completed 4 books so far (What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami, Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, About Love by bell hooks, and Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong) and have 3 in progress (This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond — I started the last two about mid-year 2017, but I’m set to finish them soon!). In addition to podcasts and stand up acts, I’ve thought about getting into audio books for time spent in the car.

To read more from the RnR DC 2018 Half Marathon Training Thoughts series, click here!