Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Here's my physical activity since the Hot Chocolate 15k.

Monday 12/5: 1 hour boot camp, 1.44 mile run, 9:43 average pace
Tuesday 12/6: 45 minutes of spinning
Thursday 12/8: 3.11 mile run: 9:22, 9:07, 9:11 paces.
Friday 12/9: 2+ mile dog walk
Saturday 12/10: 3.87 mile easy run
Sunday 12/11: 2+ mile dog walk + 3.93 mile easy run

Sadly my Monday night Boot Camp ended last week with the end of the semester.  So this week's Monday instead involved shopping for my work Secret Santa, grocery shopping, cooking dinner, having a beer, then remembering to do some weight & core stuff on the living room floor:

I did:
2x30 second plank/hover
3x10 (chest) pushups on toes
2x8 up-up-down-down planks (move between straight arms and forearms)
2x25 regular crunches
2x15 per side: oblique crunches isolating one side at a time (half bicycle)

With a 5lb weight in each hand:
2x12 lateral raise
2x12 bicep curl
2x12 overhead tricep extension
2x12 rear fly

I felt it in my chest, shoulders, and abs a little bit Tuesday morning so while it's not at all like my hour long boot camp, it wasn't a waste.
 - - - - -

If you are friends with me on Daily Mile or follow on twitter, perhaps you saw my whining about my sore foot.  I think, if it's possible, that I bruised part of my foot from cinching my laces so tightly around the feet that I could no longer feel before the start of the Hot Chocolate 15k.  1 week and 2 days later, my foot is feeling better.  It never appeared swollen or bruised, and did not hurt on impact, but the snug fitting base of the shoe laces on top of that spot on my foot was not so comfortable.

After extensive online "research" trying to relieve my fears of a stress fracture or something else similarly terrible, I came across a website suggesting buying foam circles meant for calluses and sticking it on the spot on your foot where the laces rubbed.

This looks ridiculous, but I did it.  I found a package of 6 store brand foam circles for less than $2.

Then to be sure, I also re-laced that shoe, skipping the eyelet right above the uncomfortable spot.  I found an article about this on Runner's World.  They suggest putting lipstick on your foot to determine which eyelet to skip, but I already knew which one was the issue.

My right foot was 100% comfortable for both of my weekend runs using this little combo.

- - - - -

It's now been just over 3 weeks since the Philadelphia Half marathon and I've definitely been taking it easy.  I think I still need a training plan even for "maintenance" because I don't think I've had enough variety in my runs to be maintaining the fitness I gained leading up to the Philly half.  I really feel like I need some structure to my running again, even though I don't have a set date in mind for my next PR-potential half marathon.  I've got about 15 weeks until the beautiful part-trail/part-road race out in CA at the end of March, if I sign up for it.

The full FIRST/Run Less Run Faster (RLRF) plan runs 18 weeks.  I only ran the last 7 or so weeks of it to prepare for the Philadelphia half.  Since I felt I saw great progress using it for the 7 weeks, I can't wait to see what 18 weeks will do to help my times.

I feel like I followed the plan very closely, missing very few of the target runs anyway.  My adherence to the training will vary more this time around since I've got a 5-6 day cross country drive in my near future (2 months away).

My plan is to start the RLRF half marathon training plan again to at least give me a schedule.  As I figure out which race I'm working toward (and when that race is), I will just adjust where I am in the training plan, even if it means repeating some weeks.

Starting the plan will also give me the kick in the butt I need if I have any hope of getting to my arbitrary mid-year goal of 1000 miles run in the year 2011.  Due to taking it easy for 2 weeks post-half marathon (lazy) and the above mentioned foot issue for the past week (didn't want to push it if I had a real injury), I didn't get in as many miles as I would have liked to. 

As of right now, I need to run another 73.5 miles in the remaining 18 days of the year, which I understand is pushing it.  That's an average of 4 miles per day or 28 miles per week.  I'd like to hit 1000 miles, because I like nice even numbers, but I'm not going to beat myself up if my foot starts to hurt when I do a real long run this weekend.

What do you do for maintenance in between races/events?  
Do you have a plan you like or do you wing it?

What's your yearly mileage looking like for 2011?

Did you have running/fitness goals for the year and did you meet them (or will you in the next 18 days)?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Next race?

For the first time in about a year, I have NO next race lined up.  It's a weird feeling.

However, I am strongly considering the Chesebro Half Marathon on March 24, 2012.  It's part of the Great Race of Agoura Hills.  The Chesebro half is 5 miles on roads, and 8 miles on trails.

If it rains a lot which can make for unsafe trail conditions on a mountain, you get moved to the other half marathon taking place that same day, all on roads- the Pacific Half Marathon (this apparently happened last year).

It would not exactly be an ideal course for a PR:

 But I think the scenery would be nice:

You may be thinking to yourself, "A trail race in the mountains?  There are no such mountains in New Jersey."  

And you would be correct.

Dan has accepted a job offer near Los Angeles.  After he defends his thesis, we will be moving to California in early February!  In the mean time, I am trying not to freak out too much about our upcoming move and I am distracting myself from the nitty gritty details by looking into west coast races.

Some other trail races that caught my eye include...

The XTERRA Malibu 6k or 22k on April 29th.  I kind of wish there was an in-between option.  The XTERRA Malibu Creek Challenge promises some of the best views in Malibu.

22k recaps with pictures here and here and here.

My husband also found for me the Leona Valley Trail half marathon (not until September 29, 2012).  There's a nice blog recap with lots of pretty pictures here.  

But this one is another leg killer:

Clearly there will be lots of trails nearby with some serious elevation change.  No more complaining about the 90 feet of elevation change over a third of a mile that exists immediately behind my apartment.

While I am looking forward to some really scenic trail running, I also hope to break a 2-hour half marathon in 2012 so I am in search of a flatter road race where that might be possible.  

1. Anyone have any race recommendations for the LA area?

2. What is your next race?

3. Also, I am currently accepting successful long-distance or cross-country moving stories.
I have only lived in Western NY and now NJ...our move to CA will be quite an adventure!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Race Report: DC Hot Chocolate 15k

Yeah, I haven't posted in a while.  Mostly because I've been pretty lazy in terms of running since the Philadelphia half marathon...

Thanksgiving morning: short easy run.
Monday: boot camp
Tuesday: 3.2 mi 10-ish min/mile pace
Wednesday 4.6 mi easy run

But Friday I headed south to meet up with some lovely ladies including Alyssa, Kara, Kari, and Emily for the DC Hot Chocolate 15k Saturday morning.  I had no goals for this race, other than to participate in the event with the above-mentioned bloggers.

I will now try to objectively review that race.

Let's start with the pros.
  • Port-a-potties were plentiful!
    • First time I've seen NO wait at a race. 
    • With ~20k registered, this is impressive
  • Volunteers at the last water stop were calling out "water" or "Gatorade" (helpful)
  • Race photographers were everywhere offering to take group photos before and after
  • It was surprisingly easy to get my plastic tray for chocolate fondue
    I had already eaten the marshmallow that was also provided
  • Hot chocolate was decent
  • Received several Ghirardelli chocolate squares 

  • Volunteers were friendly and some were very animated and cheering along the course
  • Jackets came in women's sizing
  • Chip timing (I'm trying to be positive here)

Now for the cons.
  • Despite following parking directions per the race website, with a National Harbor parking pass (which was required and cost $10 per car), we were directed to park in a parking garage that ended up being 1.1 miles from the start line.
    • The other car carrying members of our group, that also had a National Harbor parking pass, was allowed to park in a parking lot pretty much right next to the staging area/finish line.
    • Garage was open to anyone, was free, and parking passes were in fact not checked as we were told in each and every one of the 5 "fun fact Friday" emails I received since registering.
  • We needed to walk along what was apparently part of the race course to get to the race start.
Blue X = us.  Purple X = other car. Blue Dots = our 1.1 mi walk along race course.

  • While walking to the start, we heard that the starting time had been delayed by 15 minutes.
  • From the website, "Start line water will be provided" --> did not see it.
  • A-D Corral/Open Corral pace guideline confusion. Was not in order of fastest to slowest.
  • While corrals were lined up (oddly), all runners were released at the same time; no wave start.  A wave start might have alleviated some congestion.
  • 15k course described by announcer at the start as "5 mile out and back followed by 5k course" (5 + 3.1 9.3)
    • Was actually 6 mi. out and back, followed by 3.1.  Still not equal to 9.3 miles.
  •  At about half an hour past the 15k start time, we were told to line up.  It was another 43 minutes before I crossed the start line.
  • Course & elevation maps were released ~2 weeks before the race
    • hairpin turn at mile .15 seems like an odd decision with 10,000+ 15k runners.
    • it was said that portions of the course would be on roads not be entirely closed to traffic.  I did not realize this would mean a highway.
    • out and back along 2/3 lanes of a highway seemed like a poor choice
  • Not enough volunteers handing out cups at the water stop near mile 7.  Water in Gatorade cups.  Unclear where to get water/where to get Gatorade. 
  • Course ran along a narrow walking path near the harbor. 
  • This was the path...but while we were walking to the start line
    • Could maybe fit 5 people across
    • Steep drop off to the left of path, several feet down to the water. Hope no one fell.
    • Outdoor tent stakes to the right of path at one point; hopefully no one tripped on one while trying to pass other runners.
  • Upon crossing finish, I hit a wall of people.
    • Not enough was done to encourage people to keep moving after finishing
    • Tables with water bottles should have been placed farther past the finish line
    • Volunteers could have handed out the bottles to expedite the process.  
    • I had to stop and pull a water bottle out of a plastic-wrapped case of bottles
  • Post-race "party" up hill from finish line
    • Volunteers could have directed people up hill.
    • I wouldn't describe it as the "amazing post race party" the race organizers did
  • Course was short.
    • 15k = 9.3 miles
    • Garmin = 9.11 miles
    • I know GPS devices are not always correct, but I never have had GPS-based mileage lower than the distance of a course, especially with the amount of weaving I did.
    • The actual finish line is not where it was indicated on the course map.  Maybe this is why?


My watch agrees with the final time, but as I ran .19 miles less, that means I actually ran a slower pace (by about 11-12 seconds per mile?)

Now, the jacket. 
 As I pointed out before, I was mostly happy that this came in women's sizing. 

I have seen a lot of complaints online about the jacket, but to be fair, I was not expecting an amazing Brooks or Nike jacket.  It is a very lightweight zip-up jacket with elastic cuffs, two front zip pockets, a back vent, two cinch-cords at the sides of the waist.


It looks like it could be wind resistant.  I sprayed water on it and it appears to be water resistant.  The reflectivity is limited to the two pieces at the shoulders.

The website claim that "this jacket is perfect for winter weather running" might be a little exaggerated.  Perhaps if you wear it over a mid weight top or fleece.

They did provide a size chart for the jackets which I found to be pretty accurate.  I went with a size small, after reading complaints on the event's facebook page from an earlier Hot Chocolate race that the jackets "ran small."  Additionally, my own chest measurement falls between the XS (31) and the S (36).  So I rounded up.

For a size small, here are the size chart numbers, followed by (my own tape measure measurements of the jacket).

Sleeve length - 28.25" (28.5")
Front length- 24 (24.5" from shoulder to hem)
Chest- 36 (18" across from underarm to underarm, about 17" across if you measure a little lower at the top of the bust darts)
Waist- 38 (19" across at the bottom)

 See Molly Waffles, lurking in the background

To sum up the DC Hot Chocolate 15k/5k Debacle of 2011:

The jacket fits and shall serve as proof that I survived the worst ever planned/organized race of the 13 events in which I have participated.  This includes my first race: a local 3k put on by a 12 year old boy to raise funds for an animal rescue group.  SERIOUSLY.

I would not recommend a race put on by Ram Racing and would not run in one of their races again. If it weren't for meeting 4 blogger friends, the race weekend would have been a huge let down and not at all worth the drive from central NJ.

If you don't want to take my word for it, you can Google the race for yourself to see what other people thought.  Most seem to be of the same opinion and the negative comments are overwhelming...  On facebook, on the Hot Chocolate Epic Fail facebook page (because Ram Racing was deleting comments from its own page), this petition, and on

You can also click here for Kara's, Alyssa's, Emily's and Kari's recaps.

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