Hey wake it up!

Really pushing hard at the finish!

Really pushing hard at the finish!

My official finish at the Parks Half Marathon on Sunday was 2:43:43.

The morning started out rainy and chilly but by the first mile the sun came out and it was a gorgeous, perfect day for a race.  After running 2 miles on Veirs Mill Rd in Rockville we wound our way south along the Rock Creek Stream Valley, passing the Audubon Society sanctuary, and through Dewey Park and Ken-Gar Palisades Park to Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase, finishing up on the Georgetown trail into Bethesda.

There were at least 4 steep hills, the worst, High Five Hill, and the last fairly steep hill came at the finish (I know, really).  I was particularly worried about the hills because I felt a little distracted in the days leading up to the race and didn't feel like I was prepared.  So I was concerned about getting my mojo. I talked with a close friend whose known me for years (most of them pre-exercise) who surprised me when she said, You'll be fine. You're an athlete. 

I did not need to take a bathroom break, but I stopped 3 times to remove my right foot from my shoe to relieve a cramp in my toes. Only one time was I able to keep running as I grabbed a cup at one of the water tables, so although I felt like I was running at a great pace, my time suffered. 

I did not hit my usual wall at 8 miles, and I think this was because I hydrated and fueled really well  3 days prior to the race and during the race. I stopped at the water stations every 2 miles and grabbed 2 cups of water and 1 cup of gatorade.  I walked while I was drinking and as soon as I finished I grabbed one of the snack bags in my pocket and tried to consume about 6 or 7 Swedish fish.  At mile 8 I added 2 sport beans into the mix for the extra salt and caffeine. Still at the finish I felt a lot of salt on my skin on my neck and chest so I made sure I had plenty of sodium in my recovery meals.

I'm still amazed at the incredible support these races get from volunteers and vendors.  There were families and cheerleaders and scout troops who coaxed us up the steep hills and met us with high fives and vendors at the finish, including Equinox, which provided chair massage, and Mama Lucia, which provided an incredible spread, who simply made us feel cared for.  It's such an interesting community feeling to be supported by complete strangers, and I'm really very touched by this.  I got a particularly special boost from Nancy, who met me at the west side of the Georgetown trail and ran with me for a bit. She's a great trainer, but she's also just an incredibly supportive and all around terrific individual. I'm pretty sure I told her I loved her as she was peeling off but hopefully she understands the level of endorphins running through my system by that point and doesn't get the wrong idea.

I had some water and a small slice of pizza at the finish, but since I'm not usually hungry after I run, I waited until I got home and had some leftover sweet potato gnocchi and kale salad before napping for a few hours.  Remember I eat a lot of Swedish fish along the way, too. For dinner I made my favorite Runner's World Salmon with salad and whole wheat couscous.

By late afternoon I wasn't able to put weight on my left ankle.  The last time this happened I was sure I was headed to the ER for a stress fracture but the pain disappeared as suddenly as it had arrived.  I talked to Kevin about this a few weeks ago and he said he thought I was describing a typical cramp, or Charlie horse, in the ankle. I've still got this off and on today.  I have a PT appointment tomorrow and am counting on him patching me up.

So now comes the reality of this weekend's triathlon at the beach.  This week I'm incorporating more sweet potatoes - a great source of protein and carbohydrates - and avocados, which have healthy fats that I think I'll need this week for extra energy. I roasted a pan of sweet potatoes, which I'll use for a sweet potato and quinoa recipe but I'll also use them for breakfast with avocados and poached eggs instead of toast.

Great  spicy sweet potato and quinoa recipe  - perfect combination of carbs and protein. I substituted lime juice for lemon juice. Perfect.

Great spicy sweet potato and quinoa recipe - perfect combination of carbs and protein. I substituted lime juice for lemon juice. Perfect.

I finally opened up the box in my living room with my wetsuit.  It arrived with a single use bottle of "Suit Juice," which is supposed to make it easier to get the wetsuit on.

"We need to get some more of that," Bob said as he glanced at the tiny bottle.

I'm worried about getting the wetsuit on too. Because of my shoulder pain, I'm counting on Bob and Mia to get the thing over my hips on Saturday for the practice swim and on Sunday for the race.

But getting into the wetsuit is a small worry compared to my fear of drowning during the swim or being eaten by a shark. I rented a condo in Bethany for the weekend so I can bike to the race in the morning and when I went to pick up the keys, the owner, who's also the mother of Mia's high school prom date, looked at me like I was genuinely nuts when I told her about the tri.

"Are you comfortable swimming in the ocean?" she asked me.

"Are you comfortable swimming in the ocean?" I asked her.

"No, definitely, not," she said. "There are sharks in the ocean."

"That's ridiculous," her husband jumped in. "You're freaking her out. The ocean is completely safe. And besides what are the chances a shark will grab her instead of the hundreds of other swimmers."

Ok so now I feel better.

I'm not committed to wearing the tri shorts I ordered for Sunday's race because although they  have slim padding I think the padding is not slim enough for me to run in. I plan to run in them at the track on Thursday so by then I'll know. I'll also wear the tri shirt I ordered but frankly I don't know if I can do better than my regular Lululemon compression shorts, which I wore a few weeks ago for my bike/run brick, and my regular Nike or Under Armour tanks. I'll try the whole tri outfit on Thursday and keep an open mind but I wish I kept the tags on them because I'd probably like to send them back if I could.

Playlist highlights

I am so excited about how my mix worked out yesterday during the race. At the last minute I decided to shuffle the playlist, and it was so interesting how certain songs popped up during the race's milestones. 

For example, Kevin's favorite Gaslight Anthem song came on exactly as I hit the 1 mile mark. This made me smile because it's usually when I hit my first mile that I can be a little confident that my skeleton isn't going to collapse to the ground. And then at mile 10 - I think everyone's "push" mile - Nancy's favorite Bruce Springsteen song came on. I know, I know, both Kevin and Nancy are from New Jersey so I've got Bruce and a younger Bruce on my playlist.  I really like the idea of Springsteen I've just never gotten into his music or any clones of his music. But for this run, I loved both songs and they gave me the boost I needed at the right moment.  Bob's favorite Queen song - Bohemian Rhapsody - came on at mile 12, so I loved powering into the finish with that one.

Here is a selection of what I listened to:

Reflektor - Arcade Fire

Feel Good Inc - Gorillaz feat. De la Soul

Howl - Gaslight Anthem

Electric Avenue - Eddy Grant

Body Work - Morgan Page & Tegan and Sara

Count on Me - Bruno Mars

Time of Our Lives - Pitbull & Ne Yo

Mozart's House - Clean Bandit feat Love Ssega

Maggie May - Rod Stewart

Dog Days Are Over - Florence + the Machine

I Am the Best - 2NE1

Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall - Coldplay

God Only Knows - Bryan Adams

To Be Surprised - Sondra Lerche

Come Over - Clean Bandit feat Stylo G

Don't Matter - Akon

Roll with the Changes - REO Speedwagon

Waiting Here filous Remix - Jake Isaac

Sabali - Amadou & Mariam

Don't Stop the Party - Pitbull

Summer - Calvin Harris R3hab & Ummet Ozcan Remix

Smack That - Akon feat Eminem

Latch - Disclosure feat Sam Smith

Tainted Love - Soft Cell

We Run the Night - Havana Brown feat Pitbull

Come with Me Now - Kongos

Funkytown - Lipps

212 - Azalea Banks feat Lazy Jay

Lighters  - Bad Meets Evil feat Bruno Mars

Badlands (live) - Bruce Springsteen

Could You Be Loved - Bob Marley

Timebomb - Kylie Minogue

Closer to the Sun - Slightly Stooped 

No You Girls - Franz Ferdinand

Who Knows - Protoje feat Chronixx

Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen


See you next time!