Working My Way Back

Today’s run was one of those runs.  One of those runs I’ll remember forever…..

I’ll remember it because it was so sweet.  So sweet because I hadn’t really gone for a run in about five weeks.  There’s a saying that goes: distance makes the heart grow fonder; we runners say: injury makes the comeback sweeter.

InjuryComebackSweeterPoster
I went for a six-mile run on December 20th, and finished the last mile with pain in my right calf.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t just a minor calf injury, but inflammation that had found its way back to my lower back and pressure was being put on my sciatic nerve.

The pain moved around on my right leg, and I didn’t try to run again until I took my new Yaktrax Run out for a test spin a couple of weeks later.  After half a mile, I had to stop and walk home.

I’ve spent the last five weeks rehabbing with lots of core work, spinning on my stationary bike to keep my cardio fitness level up, taking the occasional Advil, and decompressing my spine on my Teeter HangUps.

I’ve felt pretty good the last few days, and when I woke to about an inch of snow this morning, I decided I had to get outside.  Since my Cruiser friend Shawn is a teacher and didn’t have school today, she was able to meet me for a run/walk.

I strapped on my Yaktrax like a giddy teenager getting ready for her first date, and hit the trail.  I walked on the cloud of snow toward Shawn’s house and met her half-way.  We walked for a mile, and then decided to try running.

I felt great!  We ran for about a mile, then took a walk break, then ran some more.

YaktraxPinkBrooks
Shawn and I covered four miles and probably ran about 2.5 of those miles.  We took it easy, and I kept a close check on how my back and legs felt.  We didn’t break any speed records, but it’s never felt so good to be outside running!

ShawnDebSnowyRun
As soon as I got home from my run, and while I was still warmed-up, I hung upside down to stretch my back out again.

TeeterHangUps
Here’s hoping I’ll be back on the trail again in a few days for another run/walk as I get back into the swing of things.  Baby steps will be needed, but I’m willing to do what it takes to get back out on the trail with my friends.

 

  • Questions:
  • What’s the longest you’ve been side-lined from a run due to an injury?
  • How often do you run?
  • Have you tried an inversion board? ~ My doctor said he only recommends it to about 25% of his patients, but my type of injury responds best to it.

Planning, Organization, and Family

It’s time for Friday Five linkup with DC area bloggers Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!, and Mar at Mar on the Run!  Be sure to stop by their blogs and say hello!  This week, the DC Trifecta chose Things About Me to be this week’s Friday Five theme.

 

FiveThingsAboutMePoster
 

My regular readers are familiar with things that I talk about often – like how much I love to run, and that I’m passionate about helping people live a healthier lifestyle.  So instead of writing about those types of things, I decided to share some other interesting tidbits…..

Did you know?

1.  I love planning events, and whether it’s setting up a breakfast with the Cruisers after a long run, planning a Friday evening happy hour with my girlfriends, or organizing a destination run with my friend Miles and his running group, I’m the person to volunteer to get it done.  And I’ll love every minute of the planning!

2.  As much as I love planned events, I love doing spur of the moment things.  When a friend calls up on Friday afternoon to see if Bill and I want to get together that night, I’m all over it!

3.  I love organization and even though a few spots in my house might look like a tornado hit, the majority of my cabinets and closets are pretty well organized.  My kitchen pantry looks like the crew from HGTV set it up for a photo shoot, and just last week, I almost pulled an all-nighter reorganizing my storage room in the basement.

4.  As much as I thrive on cleanliness, my SUV dash is dusty, the windows are streaked, the outside is covered in road salt, and if you dig deep under the driver seat you might find a dried up carrot or french fry.  I love a clean house, but for some reason a dirty car doesn’t bother me.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not messy, there’s no trash in it – it’s just rarely sparkly clean.

5.  I’m a family kind of girl, and would rather hang out with Bill and the kids, than anything else. Sitting around the table, enjoying life with adult sons, and now a daughter-in-law, is truly a fun evening for this girl!

 

  • Questions:
  • Do you prefer planned activities or spur of the moment things?
  • Is the inside of your car clean or dirty right now?
  • Are you racing this weekend?

Bill’s Mountain Trail Run To Maryland Heights

Bill and I have been trying to do more trail runs in the last year, and we have received a lot of inspiration from local running groups and friends posting on Instagram. There are some good trails and even mountains a relatively short drive away. After seeing some photos of a local group running Maryland Heights last week, Bill drove to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia to run the mountain.

Years ago, and I mean years ago, Bill and I hiked to Maryland Heights while spending a day as tourists in Harper’s Ferry.  Or so he says. I have absolutely no recollection of the hike or the town. Unless I took pictures of a specific hike, I don’t remember it – it’s only a fuzzy hiking memory blended in with many other hikes.

Back during those days when we were young, we hiked up mountains.  Now that we’re older and wiser, we run up them!  We both think that the current Bill and Deb would have flown past the much younger Bill and Deb, and they wouldn’t have been able to keep up with us!

With GoPro in hand, Bill took off early Friday morning when the temperature was only 21° at the start of his run along the Potomac River.  The following is Bill’s recap of his run, complete with a few history lessons woven in…

Harper’s Ferry is at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, and the Potomac thence flows eastward to Leesburg and Washington. Harper’s Ferry was established after the Revolution by Congress as an arms manufacturer and George Washington recommended it’s location in the mountains to safeguard it from foreign invasion. Meriwether Lewis stopped here on the way west in order to stock up on armanents for the Lewis and Clark trip. And of course, the armory, muskets, rifles, and munitions store are what attracted John Brown here before the Civil War as the fuel to start his revolution.

This time of year, the Potomac is frozen around the edges and freezing cold but still moving fast. The C&O Canal runs along the Maryland side and there is a parking area for about a dozen cars near the trailhead for the heights.

 

The trail started out frozen dirt and leaf covered, but within only a half mile of elevation change, the trail became icy.

 

There are several loop trails on the mountain and I, of course, chose the longer loop or it wouldn’t have been worth the trip. Running the blue blaze loop and then the shorter loop and to the overlook, and finally through the town of Harper’s Ferry and back was probably around 11 miles.

Up on Maryland Heights, about a mile and half above the C&O Canal, the blue blaze loop separates from the other loop with the sign warning the day hiker to be prepared for three hours round trip.

 

There were plenty of places to stop and read National Park signs on the history of the area. The trail is pretty well signed and there are lots of fortifications and gun emplacements from the Civil War when the Union controlled the artillery on Maryland Heights overlooking the town of Harper’s Ferry and the hills beyond it, Loudoun and Bolivar Heights. Stonewall Jackson’s Confederate brigades had to storm the heights with 8000 men to take it from the Union forces in order to help Lee as he invaded Maryland and headed to Boonsboro for the battle of Antietam. The Union defense was done poorly allowing Jackon’s troops to rapidly cross the Potomac and take Loudoun Heights uncontested. But Jackson’s delay in reaching Sharpsburg almost caused a major disaster for Lee at the battle of Antietam.

One fascinating detail is that Stonewall Jackson was actually the commander of Harper’s Ferry at the outbreak of the Civil War. He quickly realized that he would have to control Maryland Heights in order to protect his position so he stationed men and artillery on the mountain. However, the heights were actually in Maryland – effectively a neutral state – thus causing an international incident at the time the Confederates were working hard to gain England’s recognition and support.

 

The fortification at the base of these steps protected and supported the largest gun on the mountain, a huge artillery piece that required 2000 men to pull up the mountain. The gun emplacement was at the top of the steps which leads to the top of the mountain…

DCIM\102GOPRO\G0357588.
 

…and a magnificent run along the ridge. Not only was the sun out now, but the ridge to the west provided some buffer to the biting cold wind and it was absolutely beautiful.

 

One has to run way back down the mountain to get the truly spectacular view of Harper’s Ferry, but it is well worth the time. The overlook is only several hundred feet above the town – and another run back up the mountain to return. The long blue blaze trail is a climb of 1600 feet.

 

It’s always worth a trip into Harper’s Ferry itself which is a quaint little town mostly full of reconstructed historic buildings maintained by the National Park Service. There’s also a commuter train station and some restaurants and shops.

Harper’s Ferry is also a key crossing point for the Appalachian Trail which comes through the town and crosses the same railroad bridge as in the video below. You can see Maryland Heights at the end of the video when I hold the camera up above the railroad tunnel.

I will be back here again in the winter and spring for more runs on the mountain!  And next time I hope to have Deb running along side of me!

 

*****************************************************************

And finally, congrats to Jessie, the winner of a pair of Yaktrax Run!  She was very happy to receive an email from me earlier today telling her that Rafflecopter had picked her name in my giveaway. I can’t wait for her to receive her Yaktrax, and take them for a run!

 

  • Questions:
  • Have you visited Harper’s Ferry?
  • Do you enjoy hiking?
  • Who raced this past weekend?

It’s Not What You’d Expect

Sometimes I pull the trigger on my Friday Five post late on Thursday evening and publish it, but usually I’m a rule follower and publish my linkup on Friday.  Friday Five, get it.  This week I’m way behind on life, so I’m lucky to get this week’s written by Saturday mid-day.

It’s time I’m late to the party for Friday Five linkup with DC area bloggers Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!, and Mar at Mar on the Run!  Be sure to stop by their blogs and say hello!

The DC Trifecta chose What’s In My Gym Bag to be this week’s Friday Five theme.  I chuckled when I saw it, because I don’t really have a gym bag, but thought it would be fun to share what’s in my Lucy bag.  Since most of my workouts are in my home gym, my Lucy bag serves as a briefcase that I carry to the wellness center when I see clients there.

LucyBagPoster
 

1.  My most important item in my bag is my iPhone.  All of my appointments are on that little time-sucking device.  Of course, all of my fun time-sucking apps (LIKE INSTAGRAM, TWITTER, and FACEBOOK) are on there, too!

2.  I keep my Gulick measuring tape in my bag for taking baseline and follow-up measurements on my clients to track their progress.

GlickTapeMeasure
3.  I also have my Omron body fat monitor in my bag, and at the ready, for tracking client’s changes in body fat.

OmronBodyFatMonitor
4.  I don’t go anywhere without a tube of hand cream, so that’s obviously in my gym bag.  During the winter months when the air is dry and my hands crack, my preferred hand cream is Gold Bond’s Ultimate Skin Therapy Lotion.

5.  The final item that’s always in my gym bag is either a fresh bottle of water, or a water bottle ready to fill when I get to the wellness center.

 

If I’d chosen to list what’s in my running bag that I take with me to races or runs that don’t start from my house, it would include:

  1. Sunscreen
  2. ChapStick with sunscreen
  3. Body Glide
  4. Towels
  5. Mylar blanket (from a previous marathon)

 

  • Questions:
  • What’s in your gym bag?
  • How often do you need to air your gym bag out?
  • Who’s racing this weekend?

A Girl Can Dream…..

Sometimes it’s hard being a Hokie football fan – like during the 2014 season, and when I was a student.

This past fall, Virginia Tech played Ohio State early on in the season, and I was nervous.  Many of our friends went to Columbus to watch the game.  Bill and I didn’t.  I refused to go – I don’t like train wrecks.

But then, a funny thing happened.  We played well.  I mean, really well.  We played #8 OSU like we were a top ten team.  Not only did our brand new quarterback look amazing, but so did the rest of the team.  And we won.  We didn’t just win.  We dominated.

VTvsOSUFinalScore
Ohio State went on to win out the rest of their season, and win the first ever National Championship Game last night, beating Oregon.  National champs – that’s got a nice ring to it, and their fans must be ecstatic.

The Hokies, on the other hand, imploded after that game.  We lost to teams that we used to assume were gimmes.  We almost broke our double-decade-long streaks of not being shut out in Lane Stadium, and of not making a bowl game.  At the end of the season, we broke even with 6 wins and 6 loses.  Winning our bowl game put us at 7 and 6…..

My dad taught me early on that part of being a Hokie fan means learning to say, “There’s always next year!”

And there is – always next year.

We’ll buy our tickets with the same anticipation a child has when he tells Santa what he wants for Christmas.  We’ll plan our tailgate food and drinks for that first game of the 2105 season to perfection as if we’re planning for our own national championship game.

With fireworks exploding overhead, we’ll jump to Enter Sandman as the Hokies run onto the field on Labor Day evening with more enthusiasm than Lane Stadium has ever seen.  It will be a thing of beauty.

 

And just as we finish jumping, the Ohio State football team will run onto Worsham Field in Lane Stadium’s southeast corner.  That’s right, our season opener is ESPN’s Labor Day Monday primetime game – Virginia Tech versus Ohio State.

Yes, the Hokies were the only team to beat this year’s national champions; but wouldn’t it be even better to beat the reigning national champions, and then go on to have a stellar 2015 season?

A girl can dream…..  And her team can make it a reality.

Let’s go!

 

  • Questions:
  • Did you watch the national championship game last night?
  • Have you ever been to the Super Bowl or one of the big college bowl games?

Yaktrax Run Review And Giveaway

The first time I heard about Yaktrax was back in 2007 when running with a friend, make that, trying to run with a friend on a very icy and snowy W&OD Trail.  He was wearing something on his shoes that reminded me of a pair of tire chains.  He confidently plowed ahead, while I dodged icy spots and held my arms out for extra balance.  He finished his run and left his Yaktrax with me to try while I finished a few more miles.  Even though they were a little big, they worked great; and I went home and ordered a pair each for Bill and me!

Since that day, I’ve run many miles in my old Yaktrax Pros.  I remember one 20-mile run on packed snow that had melted and refrozen.  Had I not been wearing my Yaktrax, that would have been a long and dangerous run; or I would have been stuck inside on the treadmill.  I’ve used my Yaktrax to run on ice, sleet, fresh powder, packed snow, and even through icy slush; and I’ve completed each run safely and confidently.

And just in case I didn’t explain clearly enough how well they help with traction, I’ll share this from the Yaktrax website:

WINTER TRACTION FOR ALL YOU DO

The Yaktrax RUN is the only traction device anatomically designed to meet the needs of runners braving the winter elements. Run naturally on packed snow and ice with the Yaktrax Run’s combination of removable spikes and steel coils, providing 360° of unbeatable traction. Continue your training during the winter with the same stability you are accustomed to on dry surfaces. The Yaktrax Run can be worn in temperatures as low as ‑41° Fahrenheit.

 When I was contacted by Yaktrax this fall to test and review Yaktrax Run, I readily agreed and asked if they would also give a pair of Yaxtrax Run to one of my readers.  And they said, “Yes!”

My new Yaxtrax Run arrived in early November, complete with a storage bag.

YaktraxRun

The Run have a removable reflective toe straps, and Velcro fastener across the top of the shoe.

YaxtraxRunFit

The Run also have removable carbine steel spikes, and abrasion-resistant steel coils.

YaktraxRunShoeBottoms
Some days the trails can be unpredictable – they can be treacherous in shaded areas, yet completely clear where the sun has been shining.  When coming across conditions like that while wearing Yaktrax, be sure to pick-and-choose the snow covered spots to run on.  Yaktrax are not designed to be worn on surfaces cleared of snow, as it can cause damage to the spikes, coils, and rubber straps.

Last Tuesday we had our first decent snow of the season, so Bill and I strapped on our Yaktrax and headed out to run.

YaktraxRunSnowShoeSelfie
It seemed like we spent more time running back and forth in front of our GoPro to capture the perfect running shot of our Yaktrax in action, than we spent running!

DCIM100GOPROG0072532.
My Yaktrax Pro have served me well for years, and I’m confident my Yaktrax Run will be no different.

DCIM100GOPROG0072628.
If you would like to be able to make some of these cool tracks, be sure to enter my giveaway!

YakTraxTracksSlush

Yaktrax Pro Tracks

Rules to enter my Yaktrax Run giveaway:

  1. You are allowed to enter every day during this period.  The more times and ways you enter, the greater your chances of winning.
  2. Shipping is available only in the continental United States.
  3. Winners will be selected by Rafflecopter at midnight on Sunday, January 18, and announced on Monday, January 19.
  4. Once the winner is announced, that person will have until Thursday, January 22 to claim the prize.  I will make every effort to contact the winner; however, if the winner fails to claim their prize, another winner will be chosen.
  5. Relatives of Deb Runs are not eligible to win.

To enter for a chance to win a one pair of Yaktrax Run,
please use the Rafflecopter app below.

GOOD LUCK!

 

To enter, please click on the green Rafflecopter link:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

 

  • Questions:
  • If you win, will you use your Yaktrax for running, walking, getting the mail, or something else?
  • If you have a funny story about a time you wish you’d been wearing a pair of Yaktrax, please share!
  • Who raced this past weekend?

Disclaimer:  Even though Yaktrax is giving a free pair of Yaktrax Run to me and one of my readers, all opinions in this post are my own.

Where My Heart Does A Happy Dance

It’s time for Friday Five linkup with DC area bloggers Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!, and Mar at Mar on the Run!  Be sure to stop by their blogs and say hello!

The DC Trifecta chose Things I Like About My Favorite City to be this week’s Friday Five theme.  If you’ve read my blog for very long, you know how much I loved my time spent in Blacksburg while attending Virginia Tech; and that Bill and I return every chance we get.  My heart always does a little happy dance whenever we’re there!

BlacksburgPoster
It’s no surprise that Business Week chose Blacksburg, VA as the best place in the US to raise children.  Although I doubt it will ever happen, Bill and I would consider moving there under the right circumstances.

There are so many things that I love about Blacksburg, but in the spirit of Friday Five, I’ll limit it to just five things – even though I am taking some liberties considering Blacksburg is a town and not a city…..

1.  Blacksburg has got a small town feel to it.

 

2.  Blacksburg is nestled in the beautiful mountains of Southwestern Virginia.

BlacksburgPond

Distant mountain view from outskirts of town

 

MountainViewFrom VirginiaTechCampus

Mountain view from campus

 

3.  Although it’s got a small town feel, there’s a plethora of things to do.  Whether you’re into the arts, athletics, or running and hiking in the great outdoors, you’ll always find something to keep you entertained.

CascadesFalls

Cascades Falls – photo courtesy of Bill

 

4.  I always feel young when I’m in Blacksburg even though the median age there is 22.  I may be a few years older than that, but there’s something about that place that makes me feel young at heart.

DebAtTOTS

Tasting a Rail, but sticking to my margarita at TOTS

 

5.  Blacksburg is the home of Virginia Tech, and my beloved Hokies!

HokieVsMiami2011Small

VT vs Miami 2011 – photo courtesy of Bill

 

Even though there’s very little chance Bill and I will ever move back to Blacksburg, it’s fun to imagine what life might be like if we did…..

 

  • Questions:
  • Where do you visit that makes your heart dance?
  • Have you lived in a place that you’d love to return to live?
  • Are you racing this weekend?

Oh The Irony Of It…

Back in the fall, our local meteorologists were predicting a snowier than normal winter for us – something about El Niño, La Niña, El Snowman, or something like that.

Anyway, Bill and I talked about getting a treadmill for our home gym so we wouldn’t have to miss any of our winter runs.  I stopped in Leisure Fitness a few days before Thanksgiving and they already had their Black Friday sale going.  Since I already have a Life Fitness Lifecycle spin bike and Life Fitness elliptical, I decided to stick with a brand I know and trust.  I purchased the Life Fitness Gym Series treadmill, but decided to surprise Bill with it as part of an early Christmas present.

Side note:  When I was pregnant with my second son, I bought a pretty basic home-quality treadmill so I could run while the babies were sleeping.  While the repairman was replacing the third motor, yes I said third, he suggested I contact the company and ask for a full refund for the piece of junk.  Luckily the manager agreed that I’d gotten a lemon, and gave me a full refund.  I swore that I’d never buy another treadmill…..

Our new treadmill was delivered on December 9th, and I put a huge red bow on it before I escorted Bill down to the basement that night to see it.

LifeFitnessTreadmill

A few mornings later, I decided to go for a short run on my new treadmill.  Oh man, is it smooth!  It’s a joy to run on, and I was having a great run until about two miles into it when my right calf started hurting.  I was perplexed since my speed was within the range of my normal training runs.  I slowed my speed down a bit, but my calf continued to hurt (sciatic nerve pain), so I stopped.

It was a pure coincidence that my back decided to rear it’s ugly head again during that first run on my new treadmill.  The nerve!  Literally.

It wasn’t the treadmill’s fault.

It’s too snowy and icy to safely run outside tomorrow morning; and unfortunately, I won’t be running on my treadmill.  Right now cross-training on my spin bike is my best bet, but I’ll be back on my treadmill – walking first, and then running like a rock star!

 

  • Questions:
  • Do you call it a treadmill or a dreadmill?
  • What’s the farthest you’ve run on a treadmill? ~ I ran a couple of 16-milers, an 18-miler, and a 20-miler in 2010 while training for Boston.
  • What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen happen with a treadmill? ~ I watched helplessly as a gym member set a Swiss ball down behind the treadmill my next client was warming up on.  The fast moving belt pulled the ball under the treadmill and caused the treadmill to come up off the floor and balance sideways on the ball.  My client fell onto her knees, but fortunately wasn’t hurt.

Ten Benefits Of Being An Injured Runner

Runners rarely get injured.

  • We cross-train.
  • We stretch after every run.
  • We foam roll regularly.
  • We always ice our sore muscles.
  • We stay well hydrated.
  • Most importantly, we listen to our bodies and stop running immediately when we feel something isn’t right.

Um, not really.

We have the best of intentions.  Really we do.  But despite those good intentions to do everything right and keep those dreaded injuries at bay, we slip, and injuries happen.

Let’s face it, we’re always in a hurry.  So after our run, we skip our stretches and foam rolling and hit the shower instead. We head off to work where we’re in meetings all day and don’t have time to drink enough water, or more importantly, don’t have time to relieve ourselves after drinking all that water.

We’re a hard-headed bunch, and logic isn’t always as clear to us as it is to others.  If we’re three miles short of hitting 50 for the week, we’ll run those extra miles even though we’re tired and know our bodies would benefit more from the extra rest.

We’re runners, we don’t know moderation.  So what do we do, we get injured…..

On the bright side, there are many benefits to being an injured runner!

InjuredRunnerPoster
 

Next time you’re injured, revel in the positives, and stop complaining!  Because runners never talk about their injuries…..

 

  • Questions:
  • What other “benefits” can you think of for being an injured runner?
  • What’s the longest you’ve been injured, and had to take time off from running?
  • Who raced this past weekend?

 

2015 Running And Fitness Goals

“A dream is just a dream.

A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline”

- Harvey MacKay 2015RunningFitnessGoalsPoster

1.  Consistent Weight Training To Prevent Injuries

I have been blessed to be relatively healthy with all of the running I do, and I don’t like to dwell on little niggles here and there.  My back can get annoyed every once in a while, and causes sciatic nerve pain in my right leg at various places (hammie, calf, ankle).  In fact, it flared up last March just before the Reston Ten Miler to the point that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to run the race.  I ended up running that race very conservatively, and went on to have one of the best training and racing seasons of my career.  This current little flare-up will pass, and just requires patience, doing my core/multifidus exercises, and avoiding sitting on unsupported surfaces/lifting incorrectly.  And when I aggravate my back, I need to force myself to take ibuprofen to fight the inflammation and get my little L4-L5 bulge to settle back down with this current flare-up.

A year ago, consistent weight training was the farthest thing from my mind because I hadn’t missed training three times per week in about 20 years (except when visiting my parents or the beach house).  I’m not kidding.  Since my arm surgeries in August, I just haven’t gotten back into my routine, and it’s showing with this current flare-up.

2.  Run 2015 kilometers (1252 miles)

Provided I get past this little bump in the road and stay healthy the rest of the year, running 1,252 miles shouldn’t be terribly hard to achieve.  It’s only 123 miles farther than the 1,129 miles I ran in 2014.

3.  Create A Monthly Destination Run

I’ve volunteered to create a destination run once per month for my MRTT group; and if they don’t mind, I’ll invite the Cruisers along for the fun.  Currently, both groups meet at a local park for the start of our runs, and rarely deviate from that location.  A change in scenery will be welcomed!

I’ll incorporate last year’s goal of running the length of the W&OD Trail into our runs.  We’ll cover a segment of the trail each week/month until we’ve run the entire 44.5 miles.  I did that with the Cruisers several years ago and it was quite fun.

There are plenty of other beautiful locations for us to choose from without having to drive too terribly far.  The C&O Canal, Great Falls Park, and Burke Lake are just a few that come to mind.

4.  Go On More Trail Runs

Perhaps I can tie this into #4 and convince my MRTT and Cruiser friends to hit the Appalachian Trail with me a time or two.  I’m also hoping to finally run at Pandapas Pond in SW Virginia with Meagan and Jane; and perhaps convince them to join Bill and me for a run up to Mcafee Knob.

5.  Learn How To Use My GoPro For Documenting Runs

It’s hard to learn how to use something if you don’t actually try.  Since getting my GoPro for my birthday in November, I’ve hardly touched it.  For Christmas I was given a remote control and several different devices for carrying my GoPro with me on runs.  Learning to use it properly is high on my list, so expect plenty more pictures in 2015!

 

This has been part of the weekly Friday Five linkup series with DC area bloggers Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!, and Mar at Mar on the Run!  Be sure to stop by their blogs and say hello!

 

  • Questions:
  • What are your 2015 fitness goals?
  • Do you make other New Year’s Resolutions?
  • Did you set a mileage goal for 2015?

Grading My 2014 Running Goals

On January 1, 2014 I set my running goals for the year.  What better day than the last day of the year to take a look and see how I did on those goals, and to give myself a grade…

2014RunningGoalsPosterGraded
1.  More trail runs and races –  C

Bill and I ran one trail race, and went on three trail runs during 2014.

2.  Run a sub two-hour half marathon – A+

I ran two halves in 2014, and ran both in under two hours.

3.  Run a sub-24-minute 5K – A+

I ran six 5K’s in 2014, and hit the sub 24-minute mark on my third try.

4.  Greater variety in running venues – D+

In addition to Bill and me hitting a few new trails in 2014, I ran on the C&O Canal with some friends one time.  I’ve volunteered to plan a special run once a month for my running group in 2015 so hopefully this will be a goal I can hit next year.

5.  More blogger meetup runs – A+

I was a regular social butterfly with my blogger friends in 2014!

6.  Consistent cardio cross-training – D

After purchasing my LifeCycle spin bike in January, I was very good at cross-training until the weather turned nice.  Just as soon as those birds started singing, I wanted to be outside with them!

7.  Run length of W&OD Trail – F

My goal was to break the W&OD Trail up into 10-12 mile segments and run each segment on a Saturday morning over the course of a month or two.  With the exception of accompanying Ellie for a portion of her ultra, I barely made it out of my little neighborhood

8.  Plan more Cruiser events – C-

During January I started two-timing on the Cruisers – plain and simple.  I met a group of vibrant women that love running as much as I do, and suddenly found myself incredibly involved with them.  It’s not that I’ve put the Cruisers on the back seat to my MRTT friends, it’s just with 400+ ladies in my chapter, and only about 8-12 active Cruisers, there’s always an MRTT friend to run with, and not necessarily a Cruiser.

I held the usual Cruiser events, but didn’t add any new ones as I’d hoped.

  • June – Miles’ Pancake Run
  • November – Thanksgiving Morning Post-Race Brunch
  • December – Annual Christmas Party

I had a heart-to-heart talk with some of my Cruisers friends to try to see why they’re not showing up for Saturday morning runs, and it seems to pretty much be a timing thing.  Now that their children are older, they don’t need to run early and be home in time for soccer games, etc.  I on the other hand, want to get up and get my day started, even on Saturdays.  If I scheduled our runs for 10 AM, I’d have a better showing, but I’d lose half of my day.

I plan to enjoy the best of both worlds, and enjoy a run or social activity with anyone from either group that’s willing to let me hang out with them!

Bonus points for other races and unwritten goals met:

I had never run a Ragnar Relay, but had wanted to for several years.  I decided that 2014 was the year to accomplish that goal and became a captain for our Ragnar DC team, Cruisers Rockin’ The Relay.  It was one of the most fun races I’ve ever run, and I couldn’t wait to do it again so I’m signed up for Ragnar Appalachians in June!

Other races I ran in 2014:

I ended 2014 with 1,129 miles.  Not bad.  Not bad at all!

 

  • Questions:
  • How did you do with your 2014 goals?
  • Have you set your 2015 goals? ~ I’ll post mine tomorrow
  • Who has a race today or tomorrow?

2014 Blogger Meetups

As the year draws to an end, it time to reassess my 2014 goals.  One of my goals was to have more blogger meetups.  Here’s a month-by-month look at how I did…

January – Becky from Running On Happy on a training run on the W&OD Trail

DebBeckySnowyRun

Deb and Becky

 

February – Amy from Twingles Mom at the Run Your Heart Out 5K

RunHeart5KDebAmy

Deb and Amy

 

March – Julie from Diving into the Gene Pool, Courtney from Eat Pray Run DC, and Sue from This Mama Runs for Cupcakes at the Reston Ten Miler

RestonTenMilerBloggers

Julie, Courtney, Sue, and Deb

 

March – Allison from Life’s A Bowl at the Reston Ten Miler

RestonTenMilerAllisonDeb

Allison and Deb

 

March – Erin from Run With Erin, after paying our respects to Jaime

RunnersLineTrailForJaime

Erin is fourth from left

 

April – Anne  from Mom and Dad Track Stars at the EX2Adventures Backyard Burn at Fountainhead Park

EX2AdvenDebAnne

Anne and Deb

 

April – Kim of Kim Runs Miles With Smiles after the Loudoun Half Marathon

LoudounHalfDebKim

Deb and Kim

 

May – Dora from Run Dominican at an MRTT training run on the W&OD Trail

DoraAndDeb

Dora and Deb

 

May – Logan from Mountains And Miles at Great Falls Park

LoganDebGreatFallsPark

Logan and Deb

 

June – Amy from Twingles Mom, Sue from This Mama Runs for Cupcakes, Erika from MCM Mama Runs, Courtney from Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia from You Signed Up For What?!, and Lauren (Salt) from Run Salt Run at the Fit Foodie 5K

FitFoodie5KAmbassadors

L to R: Amy, Deb, Sue, Erika, Courtney, and Cynthia

FitFoodie5KAmbassadorsWarmUp

L to R: Sue, Erika, Lauren, Courtney, Cynthia, Deb

 

June – Katie from Healthy Heddleston before our MRTT Chapter Welcome Run

MRTTWelcomeRunBloggerMeetUp

Deb and Katie

 

June – Meagan from Turkey Runner at Hungry Mother State Park

HungryMotherMeaganDebMollysKnobSummit

Meagan and Deb

 

July – Mary from Taming The Thorsons on many hill repeats and tempo runs

MRTTHillRepeats

Mary is second from right

 

July – Anne  from Mom and Dad Track Stars at the 2014 Firecracker 5K

Firecracker5KDebErinAnne

Deb, Erin, and Anne

 

August – Jerome from TriRun Yoga on a speedy training run on the W&OD Trail

JeromeDebWODTrailAugust

Jerome and Deb

 

August – Kathryn from From Dancing To Running and Jenny from Run Jenny Run at the Leesburg 20K

Leesburg20KKathrynJennyDeb

Kathryn, Jenny, and Deb

 

August – Courtney from Eat Pray Run DC and Julie from Diving into the Gene Pool at the Leesburg 20K

Leesburg20KCourtneyJulie

Courtney and Julie

 

August – Anne  from Mom and Dad Track Stars at the Leesburg 20K

September – Meagan from Turkey Runner and Anne from Mom and Dad Track Stars were on the Cruisers team with me at Ragnar DC

RagnarTeamFinishPhoto

Deb (front left), Anne (front center), and Meagan (front right)

 

October – Meagan from Turkey Runner at the Hokie Half Marathon

HokieHalfMeganDebPostRace

Meagan and Deb

 

November and December – What?  No blogger meet-ups?

Here’s hopping I meet lots of fun new running friends through blogging, MRTT, races, and life in general in 2015!  If you’re one of my regular readers, and we haven’t gone on a run together (Deborah and M!), let’s fix that soon!

 

  • Questions:
  • Do you often run into people you know at races?
  • What were some of your non-running/fitness 2014 goals?
  • Have you set up your 2015 goals?

2014 Running And Racing Year Photo Recap

As 2014 draws to an end, I’ve put together my running/racing year in pictures…

My goal this year was to run a race each month, but by the time I set my goals, the local January races that I was interested in running were already filled to capacity.  January ended up being the only month that I didn’t race, but it was a milestone month, none the less.

In January, I was invited by my Cruisers friend Amanda to run with our local MRTT (Moms RUN This Town) chapter for the first time.  An hour into our run, we swung back by the parking lot and picked up the Cruisers for part-two of our run.

CruisersMRTTJanuaryJointRun

In February I joined my Cruiser buddy and long time partner-in-crime, Beth, to run the Run Your Heart Out 5K at South Lakes High School in Reston, VA…  RunHeart5KBethDebStartx

Bill, Beth, and I returned to Reston and South Lakes High School in March to run in the Reston 10 Miler, a race I hadn’t run in since 2001…

RestonTenMilerBethDebRunning

April found Bill and me running in two races.  First up was our very first trail race, EX2Adventures Spring Backyard Burn Ten Mile Trail Run in Fountainhead Park in Fairfax, VA.

EX2AdvenDebDownhill

And second was the first annual Loudoun Half Marathon; where we ran with our Cruiser friend Jerome…

LoudounHalfDebTrail
In May I returned to run the TKO Melanoma 5K, a race close to my heart. It also marked the first of many races that I ran with my new MRTT friends…

TKOMelanoma5KMRTTWinners

I served as a race ambassador for the first time in June at the Fit Foodie 5K in Fairfax.  It was a weekend long runner and foodie’s dream come true.

FitFoodieMRTTMeetUp

Bill and I started July Forth off with a bang by running in the Firecracker 5K at Reston Town Center with our MRTT friends and their families (not pictured)…

Firecracker5KMRTTFriends

August found us running through the beautiful countryside of Loudoun County, Virginia in the Leesburg 20K.  The post-race activities seemed like a runners’ reunion to me because I saw so many runner friends!

Leesburg20KDebbieFinishLine

September took Bill and me slightly out of our comfort zone, and into a van with five other runners and a driver for the weekend for our first Ragnar Relay. I finished the weekend asking when I could do it again!

RagnarTeamFinishPhoto

In October, and on a very rainy day, Bill and I met our friends Meagan and Barry for the Hokie Half Marathon in Blacksburg, VA…

HokieHalfGroupPostRace

November found me running my first race dressed as a pilgrim in the Ashburn Farm Thanksgiving Day 5K.  I ran a great race, so perhaps there will be more costumed races in my future!

AshburnFarm5K10KMRTT

December found my MRTT friends and I back at Reston Town Center for the Run With Santa 5K, and just an amazingly fun day of racing!

2014RunWithSantaMRTTBeforeRace RunWithSantaDebFinishing

 

  • Questions:
  • How many races did you run in 2014?
  • Have you planned your 2015 racing schedule?
  • Have you finalized your fitness goals for 2015?

 

A Little Girl Finding The Perfect Christmas Tree

As a couple, Bill and I have never gone out and cut down a Christmas tree.  For several years, we purchased our Christmas tree from a nursery, but then we started buying them from our local volunteer fire department.  I reasoned that the fire department would surely sell the freshest-cut trees in town.  Looking back, I’m sad that our sons didn’t get to experience Christmas tree “shopping” in a forest like I did as a child.  As I reminisce about my childhood experience, I’ll share those memories with my sons and readers with a post that I first shared last year…

As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up on a dairy farm.  The wooded acreage was mostly made up of deciduous trees, but there were evergreens sprinkled throughout.  Every year, my dad took my brother and me with him to find the perfect Christmas tree.  Sometimes my mom came with us, but usually she stayed home and had hot chocolate waiting for us upon our return.  We didn’t have a sign to follow, but my dad knew every nook and cranny of his farm, and he always knew which direction to head to find the best pine tree.

ChristmasTreeSign

Bundled up in my heavy winter coat, mittens, hat, and cowgirl boots;  I would pick out a twenty foot tall tree and then pout when Dad said that it was too big.  I was convinced that our ceiling was way taller than the trees that Dad was trying to direct me toward.  I wanted a tree that touched our ten-foot-tall ceiling, and even though every single year Dad had to cut some of the tree off so it would fit, I was convinced that the tree was tiny… until we got it in the house.

TallPineSky

Pines native to our family farm are the Eastern White, Shortleaf, Pit, Virginia, Pond, and Table Mountain. I thought I remembered Dad calling the pines on our farm, black pines, but I just learned that they are only native to coastal areas of Japan, so it’s safe to say that’s not what we cut down.

PineConesOnTree

As soon as we got the tree home, Dad would measure the tree and saw some of the trunk off so it would fit in our house.  Next he would whittle the trunk down so that it fit in the old cast iron wagon wheel he used for the Christmas tree stand.  It was very heavy and was the perfect weight to keep the tree from floating and falling over in it’s tub of water.  A big red tub that Mom used for gardening during the summer became the lifeline to our tree when it was filled with water, and kept full during the week the tree was up.  Our tree was not going to dry out!

DadChristmasTree

Dad cutting the tree trunk to fit the wagon wheel stand (Dec 1976)

Dad would save the extra branches that he cut off the bottom of the tree for my mom to use to decorate the mantel, making our house smell like a pine forest!

PineBranchesInSnow

Once the tree was up, Dad strung the big old fashioned lights so we could decorate it (only they weren’t old fashioned at the time).  We were only allowed to have the lights on for a half-hour or so at a time because the bulbs got so hot.  I hated having to turn the lights off when our time was up!

Of course my brother and I had a blast decorating the tree with our mom.  Like all children of that era, putting on the icicles (tinsel) was our favorite part!  We would start out carefully placing each individual strand on one at a time, but as we got bored with the process, we would start tossing handfuls at a time leaving glittery clumps randomly placed on the tree.

We never had our tree up for more than about a week because my parents were concerned about the fire hazard, and quite honestly, I think that was the norm back then.  One year our tree came down a little early thanks to me.  When I was in first grade, I had the mumps during my Christmas break.  While checking out my favorite little elf decoration, I managed to pull the whole tree over on top of myself!  Since I had the mumps, and therefore swollen jaws, my dad said that I looked like a chipmunk crawling out from under a tree in the forest!

ElfChristmasOrnament

Infamous Elves on Circa 1980 Purchased Tree

My grandmother always had white pine Christmas trees since she had a grove of them that my uncles had planted as part of an FFA (Future Farmers of America) project, and she had a nice little selection to choose from.  I always loved how soft the leaves on the white pines felt when you brushed up against them, and how wonderful the tree smelled when you walked into Grandmother’s living room.  In addition to the decorations, my Grandmother taped envelopes of money onto the tree for each of her grandchildren.  There were 17 envelopes, each with a twenty dollar bill in it.  On Christmas night we could take down our envelope.  My brother’s was always closest to the top since he was the oldest and the tallest.

WhitePine

My Papaw always cut down cedars for his Christmas tree because he had a lot of them growing on his farm.  They were extremely fragrant, but I didn’t think they were as pretty as the pines; and to a little girl, beauty is everything!

CedarTree

By the time I went off to college, my parents had started buying trees from a lot in town.  For a few years they bought live trees with root balls to plant in their yard after Christmas.  One of those trees is still thriving in their yard and is about 50-feet tall.

BalledChristmasTree

Eventually my parents purchased an artificial tree simply for the convenience.  No matter the tree, it always brings back a wealth of memories whenever I see the tree decorated with all of my favorite childhood decorations standing in my parents’ home when I return for Christmas…

  • Questions:
  • What are your earliest memories about helping your family pick out a Christmas tree?
  • Did you buy your tree on a lot or go cut it down at a tree farm?
  • Was hot chocolate a part of your day?

Favorite Christmas Traditions

It’s time for Friday Five linkup with DC area bloggers Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!, and Mar at Mar on the Run!  Be sure to stop by their blogs and say hello!

The DC Trifecta chose Holiday Traditions to be this week’s Friday Five theme.  If you’ve read my blog for very long, you know how important family is to me, and how sentimental I can be…

 

ChristmasTraditionsPoster
When I think of Christmas traditions, I base my favorites on whether or not my memories elicit warm fuzzies.  I know that’s not a very sophisticated way of choosing my favorite memories, but it works for me.

1.  My very first Christmas memories are of my dad waking me up on Christmas morning while it was still dark outside.  The hall light would be on, but my bedroom would be pitch black.  I’d wake up sleepy-headed, but gain my bearings quickly once I remembered that it was Christmas morning. You see, Dad would wake my brother and me up before he left the house to milk the cows because he wanted to see us find our Santa gifts. We would play with our new toys while Dad milked the cows, and Mom made a huge Christmas breakfast.  To this day (even in July) if I wake up in the middle of the night at my parents’ house, and the hall light is on, I’m instantly flooded with fabulous memories of Christmas mornings so many years ago.

BlackPineChristmasTree

Circa 1963

2.  By the time I was in high school, my mom and I had started a tradition of baking a few batches of Christmas cookies every weekend starting in early October.   By mid-December we’d have enough cookies in the freezer to make elaborate trays of cookies and fudges to give to everyone we knew.  My teachers, mom’s hairdresser, the mailman, and elderly neighbors were just a few of the lucky recipients of those delicious trays of calorie-laden goodness.

In later years, I’d dedicate a weekend with my mom for a cookie baking marathon.  I think it was my dad’s favorite weekend of the year since he always assumed the role of quality control manager, tasting a sample cookie from every batch.

ChristmasCookies

3.  Book Night has become a favorite holiday tradition of our sons.  We started it back when they were very little, and it’s been an annual staple ever since.  We used to start the night at Barnes and Noble next to Reston Town Center, but since the store closed last year, we had to go to McLean to find the nearest book store still open.  In the future, we may all need to be logged onto Amazon on our laptops and iPads for Book Night, but I certainly hope not.  After everyone purchases as many books as they want (within reason), we head to RTC for dinner.  One year we went to Morton’s, one year to Jackson’s…  We go wherever meets our fancy, and this year we’re going to Il Fornaio, were we had Joseph and Julie’s rehearsal dinner.

Christmas2012BookNight

4.  These days we go to the 8 PM Christmas Eve mass, but when the boys were little we went to the earlier children’s mass.  We were founding parishioners of our parish (meaning we attended church in a local high school auditorium until our school/church was built).  Once St. Theresa’s had a building of its own, we just happened to be the family chosen to take the gifts down for the very first Christmas mass in our new home.  Daniel was a pre-schooler at the time, and got to carry Baby Jesus to his crib for the very first time.  After mass, our friend and paster, Monsignor McMurtrie reminded Daniel of what a special honor he’d had during mass.  I will never forget how serious Daniel took his job, and how pleased we were that he got to carry Baby Jesus while Bill, Joseph, and I presented the gifts.

StTheresaChristmasCreche

5.  Now that our sons are young adults and we have a daughter-in-law, we have a new tradition after Christmas Eve mass.  We’ve always driven around our neighborhood admiring all of the beautiful Christmas lights, but now instead of putting the boys to bed when we get home so Santa can come; we have a delightful evening of snacking on sausage roll, homemade sweets, and wintery cocktails.  It’s family time, and a pure delight for Bill and me.

ChristmasSausageRoll

Photo credit: Bill

 

  • Questions:
  • What are your favorite holiday traditions?
  • Do you have an triggers that cause a flashback to your childhood? ~ For me, it’s waking up in the middle of the night and seeing the hall light on – it always takes me back to my childhood Christmases!
  • Who’s racing this weekend?

Why Not Run Instead Of Driving During Your Christmas Lights Tour?

Every year after Christmas Eve mass, our family drives around our neighborhood admiring all of the beautiful lights, and at least once during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve Bill and I try to fit in a evening run to enjoy the lights again.  During my early morning runs in December, however; I’m disappointed that most of the lights have been turned off overnight (ours included), and my run isn’t as beautiful as it could be.

Last week while on one of those early morning runs, a great idea popped into my head!  Why not organize an evening run with my MRTT friends, where we could take a leisurely run through one of our neighborhoods?  Why not, indeed!

Eleven of us met at the same place our group meets super early one morning a week, and I was surprised to see the parking lot was almost full on a Tuesday evening at 7 PM.  It’s a huge parking lot, but it’s also a very large and extremely popular restaurant.  Before we started our run, we asked someone to take a few pictures of us in front of one of the two giant nutcrackers in front of the restaurant.

ChristmasLightsRunGroupWithNutCracker
Being the bossy person that I am, I asked for a second picture taken a little closer.  The poor guy just wanted to go into the restaurant to eat.  He probably needed a stiff drink after he left us!

ChristmasLightsRunGroupBeforeRun

We took off for our run, decked out in reflective vests, headlamp, and tail lights to make sure drivers could see us.  We headed down each side street, admiring the Christmas lights as we ran; and if we saw something extra pretty or unique, we snapped a picture.

ChristmasLightsRunThreeSnowflakes

A few times we posed for a group picture.  That would be me on the left who forgot to turn my headlamp off!

ChristmasLightsRunMidRunMyLightOn

A little farther along, we saw another particularly beautifully decorated house.  I suggested that we take a picture standing on the sidewalk, not on the lawn, but was overruled.  Unfortunately, the decorations are blocked by runners, but trust me, they were cute!  Luckily we weren’t arrested for trespassing, and were free to continue our run.

ChristmasLightsRunGroup

As we neared the end of our run, we saw Santa waving us over, so we decided to oblige him, and take some pictures.

ChristmasLightsRunBlowUpSanta

Erin gave him a high-five…

ChristmasLightsRunErinHighFivingSanta

And then Santa got a little too friendly with us when we posed with him for this picture.   Where is his right hand anyway?

ChristmasLightsRunGroupWithSanta

Before we returned to our cars we passed Santa on a motorcycle.  Had I seen him earlier in my run, I might have hitched a ride!

ChristmasLightsRunSantaOnMotorcycle

We completed our 4.5-mile run maintaining just under a 10:00 pace, stopping our watches often for pictures.

If you’ve never gone on an evening run to admire your neighborhood Christmas lights, I highly recommend that you do.  Be sure to take all the safety precautions you can, and make sure you’re lit up as much as the Christmas lights before you head out.  Have fun!

 

  • Questions:
  • Do you put up Christmas or Hanukkah lights in your yard?
  • Do you prefer morning or evening runs?
  • Do you and your family go to any of the huge Christmas light tours?

Year of Running 2014

For several years, Amanda over at Miss Zippy has encouraged her readers to linkup with her and share their “year in running” recaps.  I participated in 2013, and I’m back again for 2014.

YearOfRunning2014

2014 was a huge (eleven races), and really good racing year for me.  It all just clicked.  Of course, the fact that I decided to dedicate all of my races to my dad, and actually trained hard for the first time in several years didn’t hurt.  Finding a new group of speedy running friends with similar goals who pushed me, didn’t hurt either!

Best Race Experience…

Without a doubt, participating in Ragnar DC was my best race experience of 2014.  Pushing myself through exhaustion along with my husband and ten other teammates to cover 200 miles in less than 31 hours was pure satisfaction!

RagnarTeamFinishPhoto

Best Run…

In early November, Bill and I stopped for a trail run up to Mcafee Knob on our way to Blacksburg for a Virginia Tech football game the following day.  After about 4.25 miles of climbing, we were treated to gorgeous views of the Roanoke Valley, and snapped our picture on the iconic Mcafee Knob rock that juts out into open air.

McAfeeKnobDebBillOnRockOverHang

Best New Piece Of Gear…

For my birthday I got a Garmin watch, and a GoPro camera.  Both top the list of favorite new pieces of running gear.  I’m loving the ease of tracking my miles with my Garmin versus using my RunKeeper app on my phone tucked away in a pocket.  I’m just now starting to learn how to use the GoPro, so stay tuned for even more pictures on my blog!

NewGarminAndFootSelfie

Best Piece Of Running Advice…

I was overloaded with running advice after completing a 3-D Gait Analysis at George Mason University’s Smart Lab.  The grad school staff analyzed my results, and prescribed exercises and stretches to keep me in top running form.  Most of the exercises and stretches suggested were to increase my core strength, the mobility and stability of my knees and hips, and overall balance.

GMUSmartLabGoofyDeb
Most Inspirational Runner…

Last year, Laura from Write The Happy Ending ran the Thunder Road Half Marathon blind-folded to honor her sister Taylor who suffers from Batten Disease, a fatal disease with no known cure. This year while working toward her goal of running a race in every state for Taylor, Laura returned to run Thunder Road again, only this time untethered for the last 1.25 miles.  Not only did Laura successfully complete the race, but she and her guide PR’ed with a time of 1:44:37.  There are a lot of other very talented runners out there, but Laura’s love for her sister, and determination to help find a cure for Batten Disease while bringing it to the forefront through her running, inspires me.

LauraAndMom
Briefly Summing It All Up…

Hard work pays off, and I ended 2014 with five first place age group wins, one second place, two third places, a half marathon PR, and a 20K PR.  More importantly than the PR’s and bling, was finding a whole new group of friends who don’t mind running super-duper early in the morning!

MRTTMorningRunSelfie

  • Questions:
  • How would you grade your year in running?
  • If you’re a runner, what was your favorite run or race?
  • If you’re a blogger, consider linking up to Miss Zippy with your own 2014 recap!

Cruisers Christmas Celebration, And A BAMR Bands Winner!

Last night the Cruisers had their annual Christmas party.  Each Cruiser who wants to participate in the gift exchange brings a wrapped gift.  I stopped by Potomac River Running on Wednesday and picked up two mugs and two Christmas ornaments for Bill and me to give away.  I paired them like you see below, and secretly hoped I’d win the “I Love Running” mug, because one can never have too much running stuff!

CruisersChristmasPartyGift

CruisersChristmasPartyGift2

In the past we’ve always gone to Nagoya Japanese Steakhouse for dinner first, and then returned to Bill’s and my house for dessert and gift exchange.  We added a new stop this year for added fun, though!  We congregated at Joe and Suzanne’s house first for appetizers and drinks.  I was so blown away by the delicious assortment of food that I failed to take a picture, but trust me, it was amazing!  Oh, and did I mention that they served chocolate martinis?

With so many holiday commitments, we had Cruisers coming and going for different parts of the evening.  Beth was able to join us for appetizers, but couldn’t stay for dinner.  Amanda joined us for dinner, but couldn’t stay for dessert.  Jerome…  You get the point.  It was so fun seeing everyone, and we really missed our friends that couldn’t attend.

CruisersChristmasPartyAmandaShawnAlan

Amanda, Shawn, and Alan

CruisersChristmasNagoyaBillDeb

Bill and Deb

Half of the fun of going to a Japanese steakhouse is watching the food being prepared…

CruisersChristmasPartyNagoyaChef

The other half is enjoying the delicious food!  And catching the shrimp that the chef tosses toward your mouth!

CruisersChristmasPartyNagoyaFood

After dinner, we headed to our house for desserts and after dinner drinks, but we were so full that hardly anything was touched.

CruisersChristmasPartyDesserts
The gift exchange was loads of fun, and I ended up being able to steal the “I Love Running” mug and ornament from Shawn, and was lucky enough not to have it stolen back from me!  Expect to see a picture of it filled with hot chocolate the next time it snows!

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Keri was the winner of the two BAMR Bands headbands in my giveaway last week!  I have contacted her, and look forward to her feedback on these cute and functional hair accessories!  Thank you again, Katie, for donating two of your adorable headbands to my giveaway.

Don’t forget that you can get a 10% discount through the end of the year by using coupon code DebRuns when you checkout!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

  • Questions:
  • Have you attended any holiday parties so far this season?
  • Do you like lobster? ~ I actually prefer shrimp, crab, and scallops over lobster.
  • Who raced this weekend?

My Favorite Winter Activities

It’s time for Friday Five linkup with DC area bloggers Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!, and Mar at Mar on the Run!  Be sure to stop by their blogs and say hello!

The DC Trifecta chose Favorite Winter Activities to be this week’s Friday Five theme.  Of course, I equate winter to snow, and only mention snowy day activities in my post…

 

FavoriteWinterActivitiesPoster
 

1.  Running – I love running in freshly fallen snow…  It’s like running on a cloud.  It’s rare that we get that perfect snow to run on, but when we do, you can bet that I will be slipping on my trail shoes (and Yaktrax when necessary), and hitting my favorite trails!

DebRunningSnowYaktrax

2.  Taking Pictures – After a fresh snowfall, Bill and I enjoy heading out for a hike or run, taking pictures along the way.  I took this picture behind our house as we headed out for a run one morning.

PosterSnowyMorningSunriseRun
3.  Reading – Whether it’s curled up on the sofa with a book or my laptop, there’s nothing like reading while keeping one eye on the gently falling snow outside.

4.  Shoveling Snow – Please don’t hate me, and please don’t ask me to shovel your driveway….  I look at shoveling snow as a good workout.  I enjoy shoveling the light fluffy snow, but not the heavy wet stuff we usually get on the east coast.  If it takes me longer than 20 minutes, it’s no longer fun.

ShoveledDriveway

5.  Drinking Hot Chocolate – After a good workout shoveling snow, there’s nothing more rewarding than a cup of hot chocolate… with whipped cream, of course!

HotChocolateSnow
Bonus:  Skiing – I haven’t skied in years, but when the boys were younger, we took them on a winter skiing vacation every year.  We taught them to ski (Alpine) when they were three or four years old. I first learned to ski (Nordic) when Bill and I were first married and lived in Utah.  We’d head up into Logan Canyon on the weekends and ski into the back-country.  That’s Bear Lake in Idaho in the background.

BillDebSkiingUtah
 

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Don’t forget to enter my BAMR Bands giveaway by following the directions below, and if you’d like to order headbands for yourself or as a Christmas gift, use coupon code DebRuns for a 10% discount (until the end of 2014)!

Rules to enter my BAMR Bands giveaway:

  1. You are allowed to enter every day during this period.  The more times and ways you enter, the greater your chances of winning.
  2. Shipping is available only in the continental United States.
  3. Winners will be selected by Rafflecopter at midnight on Saturday, December 13, and announced by Monday, December 15.
  4. Once the winner is announced, that person will have until Wednesday, December 17 to claim the prize.  If the winner fails to claim their prize, another winner will be chosen.
  5. Relatives of Deb Runs are not eligible to win.

To enter for a chance to win two BAMR Bands,
please use the Rafflecopter link below.

GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclaimer:  I was given two free headbands to review as part of the giveaway.  All opinions of BAMR Bands are my own.

 

  • Questions:
  • What are your favorite winter activities?
  • Have you tried cross-country skiing?
  • Who is racing this weekend?

 

2014 Run With Santa 5K Race Recap

Last year I ran my first Run With Santa 5K in softly falling snow, and couldn’t have been happier!  Just before the race started, snow started falling and it snowed throughout the entire race.  It was glorious, and I dreamed of a repeat this year.  The day before this year’s race brought pouring rain to our area, and I was so thrilled when the rain stopped and the sun shone brightly over the runners, that I forgot all about snow.

My MRTT running bestie, Erin, was kind enough to pick up my race packet while I was driving 325 miles across the great Commonwealth of Virginia.  When I stopped by her house to pick up my packet, we had a good laugh over the color of the shirt, and decided it was the “ugly sweater” of race shirts.  Later that evening I texted her, and asked if it was so bad that the color was really growing on me!

2014RunWithSantaShirtBib

Each =PR= Race Series race has a commemorative pin to go along with the race.  They’re cute and I attach them to my running bag.  If you notice in the picture above, we also got a race medal with our packet.  Last year the medal didn’t have a ribbon attached, so I tied a pretty red and green ribbon on it and hung it on our Christmas tree.

2014RunWithSantaPin
Sunday morning bright and early, Erin picked me up at my house and drove us to the race.  Our friendship came full circle with this race.  Last year after the race, Potomac River Running shared my race recap on their Facebook page.  Erin, who had just run the race, saw it and started following my blog – we had never met.  In March she saw my posts about running with my local Moms RUN This Town (MRTT) chapter, and decided to look into joining her local MRTT group.  As fate would have it, we were in the same chapter!  Since we have similar paces, we became great friends, and have run several hundred miles together since!  I can’t even begin to tell you how happy sharing this story makes me!

2014RunWithSantaErinElfPose

Erin converted Target slippers into running spats!

Once we arrived at Reston Town Center, Erin and I went out for a one-mile warm-up run… to keep from freezing.  The temperature was 34°, but with the wind chill it felt like 22°.  I perform much better when I get about a mile under my belt just before a 5K, but this time, I knew that if we stood around too long waiting for the race to start, we would freeze.  After our run, we meet our fellow MRTT friends for a quick photo, and then we were off!

2014RunWithSantaMRTTBeforeRace

I left my friends, and made my way to near the front of the race to secure a place where I wouldn’t have to dodge too many children and walkers at the beginning of the race.  Many =PR= Races are family oriented, and they don’t have pace signs for those races.  I’ve learned to self-seed myself near the front of the race pack to make the first quarter mile of the race easier.  Please don’t get me wrong; I love seeing children running races with their parents.  It’s just that it’s frustrating getting behind someone that’s running along, and suddenly stops or darts sideways directly in your path.

2014RunWithSantaLookingForward

With about 2,000 racers, the sea of runners spanned back to the office buildings, and I was satisfied with my place in the pack.

2014RunWithSantaLookingBehind

After mentioning a few of the frustrations of running races with lots of children, I want to share some of the joys. I ran along side a father and his son that couldn’t have been more than ten years old.  After about 1.5 miles, the father told his son that he could pull ahead and run his own race.  The little boy took off, and I didn’t see him again!  I caught up with a few other very young children as I approached the finish line, all holding their own, and running much faster and farther than I could have dreamed of at their age!

Since this was a course that I have run several times (and really enjoy), I decided to see how I could do compared to previous races.  I haven’t been doing tempo runs lately, but my training runs have been quality runs for the most part.

  • 2013 Firecracker 5K – 25:58 (8:23 pace) 7th place age group
  • 2013 Run With Santa 5K – 27:35 (8:54 pace) 7th place age group
  • 2014 Firecracker 5K – 24:19 (7:50 pace) 3rd place age group
  • 2014 Run With Santa 5K – 25:18 (8:10 pace) 3rd place age group

My Garmin showed a total distance 3.16 miles and an 8:01 pace.  My split paces were:

  • Mile 1 – 7:59
  • Mile 2 – 8:02
  • Mile 3 – 8:10
  • Last .16 mile – 7:06

2014RunWithSantaGarminSelfie

After the race, Cindy came up to me, introduced herself, and said hello.  She mentioned that she remembered running next to me during the Run Your Heart Out 5K back in February, and that PRR had gotten a picture of us near the finish.  After talking for just a couple of seconds I remembered her, and I asked her if she had been wearing deely-boppers during the race.  Yes, that was her, and as soon as I got home I went back to my race recap and found her in two of our pictures, once with Bill, and once with me.  If you scroll up, you’ll see her in my finish line photo for this race as well!

2014RunWithSantaCindyDeb
Erin and I reunited with our MRTT friends, and compared race notes.  We had lots of goals met, and a few PR’s.  Overall, it was a very good day for our chapter!

2014RunWithSantaMRTTPostRace

While hanging out, we saw this Christmas jester, and asked him for a photo.  He readily agreed as long as the ladies posed with him!

2014RunWithSantaMRTTWithJester

And then Erin and I found another tutu wearing jester, and of course we couldn’t control ourselves…  A picture was absolutely mandatory, and our new friend obliged!

2014RunWithSantaErinGuyInSkirt
Just as we were heading back to the car to get our coats, we stopped these beautifully dressed ladies and asked for a picture for my blog.  Christin (on the right) recognized us from pictures we post to our MRTT Facebook page.  She’s also a member of our chapter, but with 405 members, we hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting her yet.

2014RunWithSantaCuteTutuTeam

One of the things I love about the =PR= Races at Reston Town Center is the children’s fun runs just before the awards ceremony.  This time, it was fun to see Santa racing with the youngsters!

My third place age group finish earned me a gift certificate to Potomac River Running Store!

2014RunWithSantaDebAward
And as soon as the award ceremony was over, Erin treated me to a hot chocolate – skimmed milk with whipped cream…  Just the way I like it!

2014RunWithSantaErinDebHotChocolate

Back home after the race, Bill asked me if I’d had a fun time.  I think he already knew the answer, because I was still beaming from ear-to-ear, and chattering away about the morning’s events.  I truly love running in =PR= Races because they always do such a great job.  Their races are well organized, well attended, and they allow you to download your race pictures for free!

 

  • Questions:
  • Have you run in a Christmas themed race?
  • Do you like running on repeat courses?
  • How do you like your hot chocolate?