Across the Bay 10K Race Review

atb10k1.pngAnother beautiful day for a race across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Annapolis, Maryland. Given the logistic issues from last year’s race, I was a little apprehensive on how things would go this year, but this is another race that I’m vested in, and look forward to for the next several years.

The Expo – The ATB10K Expo was held in the Navy-Marine Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland and that is an awesome place to see.  The organizers changed the expo layout up a bit this year so you didn’t have to walk all the way through the expo to pick up your t-shirt. I liked that the expo store was right after the shirt pick-up. The expo is tiny in comparison to the bigger races, but still fun.

Parking – Last year, I paid for a parking in a lot that I was unable to park in, fortunately I was able to find street parking. They also broadcasted the bus issues over the speakers so we were able to hear all of the problems.  This year I was a little nervous not having pre-purchased a parking pass, however, they changed the process so the passes were for designated lots…much more efficient – though nobody actually checked the parking passes when I pulled in.

Race Day – Last year, I thought I left home in plenty of time, but it didn’t turn out well because of traffic and the filled parking lot.  This year, I left home super early, made it to the parking lot in plenty of time and was able to take a quick nap as I waited for closer to my boarding time to get on the shuttle. It was GREAT!

The RACE – This race is definitely unique. Given the location, there are absolutely NO spectators allowed at the start or on the bridge so the only spectators are at the end.  They do have a few “spectators” on the bridge, mostly police officers monitoring the situation and a volunteer every so often.  If you rely on the cheers from crowds to motivate you, this is not the race for you.

The starting area was crowded and not particularly organized.  I was unable to get out of the swell of bodies so I ended up in a corral ahead of mine (8 instead of 9), but no one checked and the crush of bodies prevented me from moving aside, but I noticed  there were several with later corral numbers in the earlier corral as well.

It’s a cup-less race so you have to bring your own drinking devices with you, but there are plenty of water spots to fill up. Also with 20,000 or so people, the race does get very walker-crowded near the end. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a run/walker as well, but I was trying to get a faster time to use for a Disney race so I had to do a little running outside the barricades once off the bridge.

The finish – Great crowds at the end. They changed the off-chute set up this year so they actually had an exit path. The only problem is – nothing to drink but water, no electrolytes. We were handed a Halloween orange-colored swag bag. The bag contained a small bag of pretzels, a small container of apple sauce, a coupon and a handy-wipe. I think some people received a packet of single service crystal light lemonade mix. I didn’t.

I was smarter this time, instead of taking the long way around through the festival or stopping to use the port-o’s, I got on the very short line to the bus to head back across the bridge to the parking lot. Just a quick note, I may have stepped on the return bus at 10:30, due to traffic the bus didn’t get back to the lot until almost 12.

Overall, it was a good race! Definitely on my plans for next year.  3-medals

 

 

MCM 10K 2016 Review

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OK this review is just a little late, but you know the cliché…better late….

Wow! What an action-packed race weekend! Now before I give my review, please keep in mind that no matter how many “not so great” things I list, I LOVE this race. It’s my second time and it is the ONLY race in the past three )ears that I’m not nervous before and during or wondering what the heck I’ve gotten myself into. In addition, the Marines put on an awesome event given the many challenges of orchestrating an event of this magnitude. So my disclaimer is, heck yeah, I will be there again next year…

What went down…the good, the bad, the ugly and the great!

DC metro safe-track situation may have been a deciding factor in the location change to the Gaylord. Despite all the negative comments on Facebook, arriving to the expo on Friday was a non-event for us. Plenty of police and their trusty cones directing the traffic flow led us to a $10 all-day event parking spot with no problem. I know that some people ended up paying up to $28 for the day.

After a short walk to the Gaylord we wondered around a bit until we finally found signs directing us to the expo (there was another convention going on at the same time). Coming down the stairs we saw others joining, what appeared to be, THE line. When we tried to follow suit, however, a security guard told US we needed to go to the back of the line. Just curious why he didn’t redirect the many that we watched as we made our way down the stair case. No worries the long line moved really quickly.

Received my bib from one of many very, polite marines (didn’t get any pins though  – again a non-issue). Received my race shirt in short order and was released into the expo.  The only problem is that following the crowd to the right, I was instantly immersed into hundreds of shoppers looking for gear in the race store. A bit of signage at the beginning would have saved me time, but again a non-issue since in my “awestruck-ness” I may have missed it. I had the chance to work the expo twice while I waited for my sister who spent time on a really long line to buy merchandise. (Slow system and so many on line). All in all, I enjoyed the expo.

Definitely on the not-so-great list, was the $15 pep rally. Last year’s rally was held in a separate location from the expo, parking wasn’t great but the rally was so much fun…you went into a room, checked in, grabbed a pom-pom went down into the pep rally, plenty of food! Great speeches, photo-ops and great swag. Fast forward to 2016. There were apparently registration people…but no one on line knew that was the check in desk. No one checked tickets as we entered the room; we were handed a pom-pom and went right in.

The food was not as good or abundant as last year.  MMM…shaker salad in a cup, nacho chips with an assortment of toppings, and chicken on a stick. Due to people loading chicken on plates, they ran out quickly and were not replaced (plenty of shaker salads left though). So for $15 we paid for??? It wasn’t very well attended. I’m thinking because it started at 7 p.m. and people didn’t want to stick around and pay to park all day (which we did 10 am until 8 pm or so). After a few people said a few words, people pretty much left. So I basically paid $15 to hear advice, like bring your own toilet tissue (which is advice I’m so glad I paid attention to – tell you why in a bit)

Race day parking. My sisters and I had the bright idea to park at the Gaylord to take the shuttle assuming that most people would want closer parking.  No police using their nifty cones directing traffic and no problem finding a parking spot.  It was a perfect plan in the beginning, despite another kerfuffle about which buses were for the regular folk and which were for VIP’s. The ride to runner’s village was super smooth.

Runner’s Village…now this one, I’m wondering about. I’m thinking perhaps the organizers didn’t take into consideration that the “village” would now be home to all 30,000 racers and not just the marathoners. The marathon started at 7:55 and the 10K started at 9:15. The port-o-potties ran out of toilet paper by 7:30, not a square to be had. That $15 advice really paid off, because I brought just enough to take care of business.

Off to the races…this year the entire 10K was run in Arlington instead of part in DC, which meant the first few miles were along the same route as the marathon…which further meant a super-killer hill! Unfortunately there was only one water stop at somewhere after mile 2 or 3, can’t remember it’s so vague now…water a ’plenty. The problem was that despite the predicted record high temps, the next “water stop” was somewhere around mile 5. I use the term “water stop” loosely. Apparently they ran out of cups so tons of marines had jugs of water. Unfortunately if you didn’t have a container you couldn’t get water…thought they would pour it in your hand or your mouth which meant….someone else’s sweat was already on the jug. No thank you…the problem is that I was starting to feel those dreaded leg cramps. I had to slow my pace to something much less strenuous to ward them off.

I finished…that is always the goal… The high fives from very enthusiastic young marines felt great. After our race, we stood near mile 26 to cheer on the marathoners as we waited for my sister to finish her race. 

Afterwards we discovered they were no longer running shuttles back to the Gaylord at 2:30 in the afternoon. We would have to take the blue line to the yellow line to get on a bus to go back. Sore from running, hot from record high temps…are you kidding me! Assuming that they had shuttles and we wouldn’t have to metro, I had left my metro card at home. Fortunately, I brought $12 in cash and a credit card. Despite the metro craziness, all went well from that point. We got back and spent a great time with family to celebrate.

Despite the lack of toilet paper, the incredible heat and a few other logistic kerfuffle’s…I would ABSOLUTELY run this race again…and again…

Jeff Galloway – Mental Training for Runners Book Review

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“We have a powerful mind-body network that is interconnected.” Jeff Galloway.

As I head toward my first marathon, I realize that it’s not only about the body (yes, even a grandma’s body), it’s also about the mental stamina needed to get to the starting line, cross that line and make it to the finish line. As we barrel toward January, there are so many doubts. In fact, I considered downgrading to the half, but unfortunately, the half is now full…go figure.

Plan B… I was looking for material on stepping up my mental game when my sister mentioned that Jeff Galloway had such a book.  Jeff Galloway – Mental Training for Runners – No More Excuses, a rather long title for a book, but no worries, it all fits on the cover page.

Mental Training for Runners (I had to shorten the title), is 205 pages of Jeff Galloway’s best advice, all crammed into 205 glossy pages (literally…glossy). If you’ve ever had the opportunity to hear Jeff Galloway speak at an event, you know he talks about the “monkey brain”. Now, before you go trying to decide if it’s an insult or not, the monkey brain is that part of our subconscious (reflex brain) that sends signals to the rest of our body (that’s how I interpret it anyway). This is the part of our brain that lowers our motivation and lose our focus. The purpose of Mental Training, per Galloway, is to override our monkey brain. This is exactly what I needed.

Mental Training for Runners covers a wide variety of topics and tips, as I said, many of which have been covered in Galloway’s books and speeches, but all in one neat package.  Think of it as a one stop shop.  The book covers everything from various running situations like recovering from injury or illness; what to do when a close running friend moves away and running in the morning or at night after work, just to name a few. It also includes inspirational stories from individuals who have survived cancer; a runner who ran a marathon after the age of 80; running for and after weight loss, and keeping journals.  If you need motivation – this book is definitely for you.

Fav Chapters

Chapter 6 – Setting a motivation training plan – This chapter discusses setting a reality check for your goals. “As you take one conscious step after another, you take control of your attitude and your running experience.” Now, that is what I needed to hear!

Chapter 11 – Cognitive Control over Nutrition – Fat Burning.  There is no denying that weight loss is one side effect I am hoping to achieve. Since kicking up my running, I am happy to report the loss of 10 pounds. (I like to think of it as the equivalent of a 10 pound sack of potatoes). “The monkey brain is programmed to keep eating when food is available-long after we have eaten enough nutrition for the next 24 hours.”

Not quite fav, but not bad…

Keep in mind, this is a Jeff Galloway production so there are going to be mentions of his books and products throughout.  You can look at it a couple of ways – mini-commercials, or the opportunity to read about additional helpful resources. For example, I saw a couple of books that sound like they might be my next purchase – Nutrition for Runners and also Running and Fat Burning for Women. Hopefully you won’t let these strategically-placed product endorsements deter you from taking full advantage of all this book has to offer.

Well, for me, I’ve found Mental Training for Runners – No More Excuses to be extremely helpful in trying to tame my brain.

A Run Finished Even if I Crawled

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While the Clarendon 10K was originally on my redemption list this year, I decided to forgo it and embark on a personal run. There is something about the past momentarily haunting me, resulting in the feeling of being woefully unprepared for any race, even a downhill one (makes no sense, right?).  Perhaps I will add it to my 2017 bucket list….to finally finish THE race I quit.

Instead of Clarendon I decided to go on a 10K excursion by expanding my usual 5K route.  I love this route because it’s an eclectic mix of just the right amount of traffic and other runners.  You know the cliché, “the best laid plans”? Well for the first time EVER, there was 5K happening on part of my route. What? Who holds a race here? As a result, I had to redirect myself via inner GPS to more travelled paths. So the redirect route resulted in a hotter (less trees), hillier (yep, more of those) run than originally anticipated. 

What do people think about when they run? I can tell you all I could think about was…

“Wow…who put all of these hills here?”…. 

”What WAS I thinking?”…

“Why didn’t I just run Clarendon, at least it would have been downhill.”….

 But what kind of challenge would that have been; taking the “easy” way out on my journey to a marathon? Different mantras soon followed…

“Just make it to that next tree”…

”Think of how fabulous you will look all marathon-toned ready”

“You really DO want to finish that marathon don’t you?…DON’T YOU?”

Coupled with….  091816.jpg

”OH MY GOSH, it’s REALLY hot out here.”…

”When does that Fall season actually start?”…

“Did that person really just pass me?”…

Regardless of the inner workings of my mind, I realized a few things…

I need to find a better breakfast/runner fuel for a morning run. That banana wore off at mile…ok half a mile in.

I need to eat better overall.  Fueling the body seems like it is important as to not fall out at mile 2…ok at a mile one.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate…So important, not just for the long runs but training too…and forgetting my water bottle and ending up using one of the hot, water bottles that I drank a sip out of earlier in the week, but left in my car, just doesn’t cut it.

The importance of sleep. Sure it’s the weekend and I should be able to go to bed later, but if I plan to run early, I need to get enough sleep the night before…tiredness does kick in somewhere around…ok…really as soon as I get started.

A lot of lessons learned as I crawled the last two miles of what ended up being a 6.5 mile “run”…while contemplating life as a slow, hot, yet determined runner.

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Either way…I did it! I’m proud and another run in the books as this grandma heads to her fourth half and very first full. Run on grandmas!!!

A FAMILY THAT RUNS TOGETHER

I’ve seen a lot of discussion on social media recently about running with spouses and questions about what age is appropriate for kids to enter races. As an official Jeff Galloway Blogger, it is my pleasure to bring you his latest article.  It’s time to make more healthy, family fun!

Family runs together

Kids think and learn better when they exercise regularly, according to research. Whether you run with your child, a niece/nephew/grandchild, or a neighborhood kid, you can make a positive impact on a young life.

True Confession: I was a fat and lazy kid, and a poor student, at the age of 13. Joining a group of cross country runners changed my attitude for the better, and challenged me to be a better student. The bonding of most running groups creates positive growth experiences.

Why is running with kids such a great thing to do? Most kids like to do things with an adult. By running comfortably with a child you can positively imprint exercise as a natural and expected part of the daily routine, that is fun.

What does running do for kids–better than other sports? Kids who run tend to have better self-esteem, better grades, and are happier. Unlike other sports, that require specific skills, any kid can run and walk. When running, you have one of the best opportunity for quality time. The most powerful reward for most kids is the special attention an adult gives to a child during and after a run.

How do I know when a child is ready to run? Running is a natural activity. Unfortunately, many kids have had bad experiences because they have run until they were exhausted. Tell the child that you really want to go on a walk/run with him or her. Offer a simple reward (a special snack such as juice, a toy). Insert walk breaks every minute, before the child huffs and puffs, and stop before the child is tired.

My kid runs around when she plays all the time—does that mean she’s actually fit enough to go for a real run? Yes! Short segments of running are natural for kids. Playing chase games is a great way to introduce running, such as racing Dad to the mailbox. Walk gently between running segments and talk about how good the exertion feels.

For kids ages 6 and under:

How long should I let a kid this age run? Usually between 10 and 20 seconds at first.

How much of our ‘run’ should be spent walking? Walk for a minute or two between run segments.

What should I be careful of? Most kids can run farther and faster than they should at this age. Make sure the segments are short so that there is no huffing and puffing. Make each session playful and stop before the child is really tired.

Ages 7 to 9:

How long should I let a kid run? Start with about a quarter of a mile (one lap around a track). Increase by 1-2 tenths of a mile each run until you reach one mile. For kids that really enjoy running, you could gradually increase the distance to 3.5 miles (one day a week) and enter a 5K. Be sure to keep the pace slow during the first mile of the first race, with walk breaks every 1-2 minutes.

What is a good run/walk ratio for a kid this age? Jog for 10-20 seconds/walk for 40-50 seconds. After two weeks, if this seems “too easy”, increase the amount of running each week by 5 seconds and decrease the walking by 5 seconds until you are using 30 seconds/30 seconds. For the kids that want more, gradually increase to one min/one min, then 2 min run while inserting 1 min walk. As kids want to run more, you can increase the running but walk when the child starts to huff and puff.

What should I be careful of (are they prone to going to hard and crashing and burning?) If you sense that the kid is struggling, walk more. This usually improves attitude and conserves energy for a strong finish. It’s OK to run a little faster at the end but don’t run all-out. It is OK to let the child “win” each run.

Ages 10 to 12:

How long? Beginner kids that are out of shape should follow the suggestion for ages 7-9 at first. For moderately active 10-12 year olds (soccer players, etc.) start with about half a mile. Increase by about a quarter of a mile on each run until you reach 1.5 to 2 miles—or whatever distance seems to feel comfortable but satisfying.

What’s a good run/walk ratio for this age group? Kids that are just starting, should follow the suggestion for ages 7-9. Kids that have been running (soccer, etc.) can jog for 10-20 seconds each minute during a 10-minute warmup and find the ratio that avoids huffing and puffing: 1-1, 2 min run/1min walk, then 3-1, and only 4-1 if a kid has no problem with this.

What should I be aware of (are they actually likely to kick my butt?) Many 10 to 12 year olds can run very fast at the beginning, and burn out later. Keep the pace slow for the first third of the run.

Is this age child old enough to run a 10-K? Most kids who gradually build mileage to 6.5 miles, once a week, will have no problem with a 10K if you help them start slowly, with walk breaks every2- 3 minutes or so.

How is it possible to get a real workout in when running with a kid? Don’t worry about your workout, try to make the child’s experience a good one. Many adult mentors run their workouts before or after running with the child athlete.

What’s the best way to bring a child along on my runs—even if she can’t keep up on her own two feet? Slow down and walk more. Playing games allows for the distance to go by quickly. If the child is laughing and running you have been a successful coach.

Hurry up and SAVE! Jeff Galloway 13.1 race registration price increases on September 2nd! Join the 3rd Annual Jeff Galloway 13.1 Race Weekend! December 9-11, 2016

Register now – http://www.jeffgalloway131.com  Beat the increase

Shedding my Running Insecurities

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This is a tough one for me to admit and an even tougher one for me to write. I’m going to admit it to the world. I have runner insecurities….phew… there, I said it!

I hated going to the gym when other people were there. Were they watching me? Judging how fast (o.k. really slow). I was running? There was always someone there faster, slimmer, definitely younger. I would always time my workouts for when I knew the gym would be empty. (Well O.K. another reason is that they always had either sports or news on the TV). This phobia often meant that I was going to the gym at 7 or 8 at night – not very conducive for getting ANYTHING done in the evening.

OutsideI hated running on the roads. My imagination would tell me that everyone was watching how fast (O.K. slow) I was running. When I needed to take a walk break, I would wait until there were absolutely no cars on the road to watch me transition to a walk. It didn’t matter that they were passing me at 50 mph and probably didn’t even see me. I guess this was actually a good thing, because it meant that I was running further.

The only time I really felt “comfortable” was amongst other runners during a race – I know, weird right? I had joined a running group and wasn’t comfortable, yet in the midst of 1000’s of runners I was more comfortable with my cloak of invisibility. No one really paid attention to me and I could run MY race, MY pace.

Earlier this week, as I was wavering on what time to go to the gym (it was ridiculously hot outside) and a feeling hit me. “So what?” I need to embrace my grandma gait and just go. So what if there were people running a 7 or 8-minute mile on the treadmill? I went to the gym jumped on the treadmill and did my thing. Suddenly a sense of new found freedom hit me. Wow! It doesn’t really matter that all of these people are here.

 

A couple of nights ago, however, was the true test. I went to the gym right after work, instead of waiting for the “all clear”. There was only one guy there and he was using the elliptical next to one of the two treadmills. Of course the treadmill, that I just used the night before wasn’t working so my only option was to use the treadmill next to elliptical guy (or pretend that I only came to use the weights). (First time in YEARS, a treadmill wasn’t working…talk about a “sign”)

What I discovered – it wasn’t bad. He was in his zone. I was in mine. We chatted  for a few minutes about a news segment (which I was proudly able to do – while still running – and didn’t get breathless). Right at that moment, I felt almost all of those insecurities fading away. I know it’s a work in progress and I still might have those days, but now I know I can overcome them. Imagine the huge strides this will make with my training! I’m pretty excited!   think-positive-100224537.jpg

Running Means No Left Turn

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When I don’t run in the morning, I have two choices when I leave work. The first choice is to make a left at the light on the corner of the Parkway. You see, I live about a mile from my office. That mile is a convenience for which I have felt truly blessed with for the past 11 years. It’s so easy, at the end of a long day, to make that left and head home after being mentally exhausted from the job. (I’m an HR manager so mental exhaustion is a natural occurrence when I sometimes have to disconnect what I WANT to say to someone with what I’m supposed to say to someone…legally) …anyway I digress… My other option is to go straight and head for the employee gym about a half mile further down the road. (It’s too hot during the day)

So picture this. I’m in the middle lane …the lane to my left, makes the left turn home. My current lane and the one to the right go straight…hands are on the steering wheel…kind of twitching to make that left turn. However, what I realized is that I really wanted to run. I really, really did! I don’t think I’ve ever had a prouder training moment (mentally) …I WANTED to run. What is this feeling? Whatever it is…I must say…I LIKE IT!