Monday, June 23, 2014

The Road to Steamtown - Week 3

3 runs for 23 miles
1 mile swim
11 miles biked

Running miles logged so far: 181.65
Same time last year: 165

In checking back in my journal from this time last year, apparently week 8 (which is what I'm technically in) was the week that I broke my foot in during my first failed attempt at marathon training.

Didn't even think about it this year. Hoorah for progress.

Training highlights:
  • Continued success in the pool, as I'm now really getting the hang of alternating the side that I breathe on during free style. This has been particularly challenging for me, so I'm stupidly proud of myself. Now if only someone would teach me how to do the fancy turns at the end of the pool maybe it wouldn't look like complete amateur hour when I'm in the lanes.
  • We made the hill from Tredegar up to the Capitol our bitch on this weekend's long run. Sorry for the vulgarity but really, there is no other way to describe this accomplishment.
Training lowlights:
  • (Boys, avert your eyes.) For the first time ever, I had to stop during Monday's run because of cramps. It was horrible and I thought about turning back, but after a brief pause decided to soldier on (because dammit, I'm not letting anything as silly as a uterus hold me back!). I ended up feeling better during the second half of the run but wow... that first part was terrible. I realized with horror that Steamtown is dangerously close to that time of the month and all I can do is pray to God that it doesn't end up falling on the same day. If so, I am screwed. Just one reason why guy runners have it easier than us women.
  • I don't remember why now (sad, as it was only on Friday), but for some reason I decided to get back on the bike this week... and was promptly reminded of my deep hatred for the bike. Definitely my least favorite form of cross training.
  • Although Saturday's run was successful, it was also brutal. The weather was overcast (thank goodness) and the temperature was relatively low, so we were all in the mindset of "Oh this won't be so bad!" What we forgot about was the humidity - which was at 95%. Dis. Gusting. The photo below was taken during our one mile "warm up" - before things got ugly. I'll spare you the ugly picture from the bottom of the overpass at mile 10. We took these to send to our teammate Lauren, who was doing her long run solo at home in Massachusetts.
I declare GB to be the King of Running Selfies
Safety tip: When taking running selfies, it's important
to have a spotter so you don't plow into a telephone pole
or other sidewalk obstacle.

This week marks the official start of the FIRST training period, which means from here on out it's speed work Mondays followed by tempo Wednesdays.

Full steam ahead!

... (like how I did that?)

Saturday, June 21, 2014



Sugar Shack called to let us know that they won't have donuts tomorrow until 1 pm - if at all.

At first we thought someone was punking us, but then I checked out their Facebook page and saw the following announcement:

After much hemming and hawing, Katie and I have decided that the best course of action is to POSTPONE the Summer Donut Dash: Sugar Shack Edition run scheduled for tomorrow, June 22nd.

We just can't see having a Sugar Shack run without the main attraction!

Stay tuned for the reschedule date - most likely next Sunday, June 29th.

We are so disappointed but hope that you will be able to join us for the rescheduled date - here's to hoping there are no more kitchen mishaps!

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Upside

Not long ago, we (myself included) were all grumbling about how cold it was and how TIRED we were of freezing our butts off.

Now, as part of the human condition in which we perpetually can't get no satisfaction, we are all complaining about the summer time heat and humidity (myself included).

Many of you who know me are aware that I am not exactly an optimist and have a propensity toward sometimes maybe being a little bit of a whiner.

I would say I'm a realist who simply states facts.

At any rate, I'm trying very hard to not whine about the hot, humid, miserable weather (otherwise known as summer in central Virginia) and instead think about all the reasons why summer running is awesome.

Here's what I've come up with.
  1. MTT (duh)!
  2. Summer morning runs are pretty much the only chance I stand at getting something of a tan. I'll take it - even if it is an uneven runner's tan featuring dark arms, chest, and back accompanied by semi-dark legs from mid thigh to ankle. Keep in mind that "dark" for me is more like "what most people call pale."
  3. If I can survive running in this crap all summer, Steamtown will feel like a picnic in October.
  4. My butt doesn't go numb from cold; an occurrence I always found very disturbing during the winter.
  5. Sprinklers have suddenly become magical again. Running through them makes me feel like a kid and I love it.
  6. Nothing in life is more satisfying than a post-miserable-summer-run Gatorade.
  7. My summer running wardrobe is far more extensive and fun than my winter one.
  8. Post-run icy pops are almost as awesome as Gatorade and just as nostalgic as sprinklers.
Anybody have any other happy thoughts about summer running?

Also, since it is Friday and I won't ever get enough of Mo Farrah Running Away From Things Memes, enjoy!
The one that started it all: British graphic designer Luke Harvey's
My personal favorite - can't beat the original.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Don't Forget! Summer Donut Dash - Sugar Shack Edition

So you guys, I don't know if you heard (honestly, if you live in Richmond I don't know how you haven't heard), but Sugar Shack is riding a HUGE wave of publicity right now.

Image Source

First, they were named one of the top ten donut shops in the country by USA Today.

Next up was National Donut Day - on which the owner's wife went into labor and ended up giving birth to a baby boy on June 7 - just barely missing a National Donut Day birthday.

THEN they celebrated the Leigh Street location's one-year anniversary on June 10.

To top it all off, they were recently involved in a crowd source effort that got the Foo Fighters to come play a previously unscheduled show in Richmond, which received national news attention from the likes of Rolling Stone.

Image Source

Basically, Sugar Shack is tearing it up right now - and you should get in on the action by joining us for the completely-accidental-but-awesomely-timed Summer Donut Dash - Sugar Shack Edition 5k fun run this Sunday!

Image Source
Credit - Tanya Bartek
Because all of this publicity has led to sell outs and long lines, we are going to purchase assorted donuts for our group ahead of the run. And because it is so darn hot (though Sunday's forecast is ever so slightly cooler), we are offering iced coffee and water in lieu of hot coffee.

Katie and I have been studying up on our Fan District history and have a lot of fun facts and information to share. We've practiced on some willing guinea pigs and I think it's safe to say everyone has learned something new about the streets that they have run hundreds of times before and are now armed with trivia with which to impress their friends.

So please think about joining us this Sunday! We'd love to have you. All of the details can be found on the Running Food Tours! Tab, or simply email me at reprva at to receive registration forms and payment info. We'll take registrations until this Friday.

In the meantime, stay cool and hydrated - and save your sweet tooth for Sunday.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Home Is: A Photologue

Where your childhood park is still just as magical

The place with the most kick-ass state flag in the world

Where you need to look up sometimes to spot the hidden gems

Where you threw the best party of your life

Where you can be a kid again

Where sometimes, time seems frozen

Where a strange mix of nostalgia and relief reign

Where the filter of distance and time makes everything
more wonderful than you remember.

Where you are greeted with a Coke with your name on it, proudly
retrieved by your dad, who dug through bins and bins of bottles
to find it.

Where your tween cousins keep you from being a
boring old codger.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Road to Steamtown - Week 2

Don't let the calendar fool you - summer started in Central Virginia this week.
3 runs for 24.9 miles
1 mile swim
1 hour of Bodypump

Running miles logged so far: 158.65
Same time last year: 133.3

It was a disgustingly humid week Monday through Friday. So humid that when I got up in the morning, the windows of my house had so much condensation on them that I couldn't see outside. The morning temperatures weren't bad, but it doesn't matter if it's only 65 degrees when that is accompanied by 110% humidity.

Thank all of the weather gods that a cold front came through on Friday night, taking away some of that humidity. Otherwise, Saturday would have been terrible.

Training highlights:
  • It was cloudy on Monday, which made the progressive speedwork session with Greg at least partially tolerable.
  • I'm so very thankful for well-to-do-neighborhoods where the rich folks have automatic sprinkler systems for their lawns. We may or may not have run through quite a few of their sprinklers in the past week.
  • Return to the pool on Tuesday, where I put in a mile. The first few laps felt pretty awful, but I was surprised when I got over it quickly and pounded out the rest without too much trouble.
  • Running "on the edge of Midnight" with Kit, Ed, and Paul on Saturday. If we can keep up with Ed all summer, we are going to kick some butt in Steamtown.
Photo courtesy of MTT Photos

Training lowlights:
  • Though the weather was killer and it didn't feel good, Wednesday's tempo run with Kit was a great test of our grit and determination. I couldn't help but add some commentary to our split stats.
                Mile 1 - 8:28 (Hey the weather's not SO bad)
                Mile 2 - 8:02 (Oh look... we're fast. Ah well.)
                Mile 3 - 8:02 (Ooohkay so it's really REALLY muggy out, I don't feel so great)
                Mile 4 - 8:15 (Let's slow ourselves down. No need to kill ourselves.)
                Mile 5 - 8:20 (SLOW DOWN)
                Mile 6 - 8:27 (Ok, so apparently this is as slow as we go.)
  • Once again, I failed to get in two sessions of cardio-based cross training. I had an exhausting and stressful week so by the time Friday rolled around, I did not want to get out of bed to go bike or swim. So I didn't. This is going to have to change... fast.
  • Husband and I went to Bodypump at 6:00 am on Thursday, only to discover that it was "express" class, which meant it didn't include abs or shoulders and lasted only 45 minutes. I was pretty unhappy about it (I think Husband was fine with it though). When we finished I didn't feel ready to stop so I went upstairs and did a fast one mile run around the indoor track, then used the roller and did a lot of stretching before I finally decided to hit the showers.

Unfortunately this is another very stressful week for me at work and after our short break from humidity, it is scheduled to be even more hot and MORE humid this week (highs that feel like 100 degrees on Wednesday). I don't have high hopes for it to be a great training week, but kind of hope that I'm wrong because it would be nice for something to be good this week.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Steamtown Marathon Training - Official Week 1

Unofficially, I've been training for Steamtown since the beginning of May, so technically I'm wrapping up week 6 of training. But for the purposes of the blog, I decided to start my weekly training report once MTT started.

3 runs for 21.15 miles
1 hour of Bodypump

Running miles logged so far (counting 112.6 miles logged April 28 - June 1): 133.75
Same time last year: 114.4

Training highlights:
  • A fun trail run on Monday morning.
  • A GREAT choose-your-own-adventure style run on National Running Day with Kit, Greg, and Katie. We ran on trails, in parks, across the Dogwood Dell stage at Byrd Park, through the fancy pants neighborhoods, through numerous sprinklers, and ended with a moment in the VMFA sculpture garden. Completely spontaneous and 100% fun.
  • Apparently someone does read my blog - and I met her on Saturday at MTT! After our run, a young lady came up to me and started by saying, "I know this sounds creepy but - I read your blog!" Turns out this young lady, whose name is Jackie, had found last year's training diaries thanks to Google and after reading them, decided that she would like to do MTT. It just so happens that she's on Team Midnight too! How cool. I was thrilled. Thanks for introducing yourself, Jackie, and welcome to Team Midnight!
  • Dragging Husband to Bodypump class on Thursday night. I think he wanted to kill me by the end, but he did admit to liking it (a little bit). We will go again on Thursday, aiming for the 6 am class if we can drag our butts out of bed in time.
Our cars coordinate so well.
(Parked for our trail run)

National Running Day VMFA Ending

Training lowlights:
  • Thanks to the Carytown Beer Festival (which was staged at the Diamond/Sports Backers parking lot... which isn't even in Carytown!), our meeting point for MTT was at Anthem headquarters this weekend. I absolutely detest going out from Anthem HQ - mainly because the neighborhoods in that area are very industrial and not fun to run in (read: there are no trees and it's ugly and hot). Sure enough, our route was all through the lovely industrial sections of Richmond. It was sunny, it was humid, and it was not fun.
  • It seems that I got a bum pair of Brooks Ghost 6s this last time around. I purchased my current pair and started running in them at the beginning of April. I have logged just around 200 miles on them but they are completely shot. How do I know? My feet and the back of my left knee are absolutely killing me this week - surefire symptoms of my shoes needing to be replaced. Needless to say, I'm not very happy about this. So, yesterday I went to Lucky Foot, armed with my $30 gift certificate (for my age group win) and picked up a new pair of shoes. Last night I was laying out my clothes for this morning's run and I noticed that the new pair look smaller than my last. Because they were. My dumb self got a size 9.5 instead of a 10. So I had to run in old shoes this morning, which means my feet still hurt, which also means I have to go alllllllll the way back to Lucky Foot to exchange for the right size. To make matters worse, I had ordered an additional pair from Brooks because they are discontinuing the shoe and I figure I should stock up. Wanna guess what size I ordered? Yup. 9.5. HEADDESK. #runnerproblems

Until the FIRST/Run Less Run Faster training period starts at the end of this month, I plan to hold steady with two 6 mile run during the week (at tempo) and then long run with MTT with added mileage. Because Steamtown is a whole month earlier than Richmond, the Steamtown Contingent has to tack on some extra miles before each team run. But hey, it's ok - when everyone else is running 20s at the end of October, we'll be finished!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Introducing: Run Eat Play RVA Running Food Tours!

I am so excited to finally reveal a new project that I have taken on with my good friend and running buddy Katie - Run Eat Play RVA Running Food Tours! A bit of a mouthful, right? (Punny!)

This blog was my first attempt at combining my love of running, food, and Richmond. For a while now, I've been trying to develop a scheme to bring these three things together in real life. Then, one morning on a run, Katie and I were talking about what we'd like to do if we could quit our day jobs and just run for a living. The first thing we both said was "do running tours in Richmond!"

One strategy session (at Lift, naturally) later and Run Eat Play RVA Running Food Tours was born. The idea is simple: runners love to eat; Richmond has a lot of great places to eat. So, we put together a series of 5k running tours that explore different culinary themes around the city to hopefully introduce you to some new places where you can gain back all of those calories that you work so hard to burn.

Each run will begin and end at a selected eatery, where we will nosh on the house specialty post-run. (Your registration will include at least a portion of the post-run nosh.)We are trying to strategically pick spots that are located throughout the city so that each 5k route will take the group through a different distinct Richmond neighborhood, giving you the opportunity to not only get to know a new place to eat, but also a new part of this awesome city.

Right now we're starting small, so each run will be led by me and/or Katie.

So let's get to the fun part: the theme of the first series.

In case you live under a rock and somehow didn't know, today is National Donut Day, making it probably the most appropriate day ever to launch the first ever Run Eat Play RVA Running Food Tours Series: The Summer Donut Dash!

This summer, we are going to check out three different donut styles made right here in the RVA. First up is Sugar Shack on June 22, 2014.

Since opening just one year ago in June 2013, Sugar Shack has taken the Richmond donut scene by storm and has since opened a second location in Downtown with a third Manchester location on the way. This place is so hot that just days ago, Sugar Shack was named by USA Today as one of the 10 best donut shops in the country!

Having eaten more than my fair share of Sugar Shack donuts since they opened last year, I can guarantee that you will love this donut experience. The selection, which USA Today describes as "whimsical" but I can only describe as delicious, includes everything from classic glazed, cinnamon sugar, and chocolate iced varieties to house specialties like maple bacon, samoa, caramel apple cake, and Baby Ruth style. This is but a sampling; the menu is augmented almost daily by creative new taste sensations like kettle corn, bourbon walnut, red velvet cake, and cookie crumble.

Image Source

The Sugar Shack run will take off at 8 am from the original location at 100 N. Lombardy Street, Richmond, VA. Although the Shack does have a small parking lot, we ask that you find street parking in the vicinity and not use their lot.

Your registration fee of $20 will include one house or specialty donut, coffee, and water along with your 5k guided run.

Check out the "Running Food Tours" tab for more information, FAQs, and the rest of the scheduled tour dates and locations.

We encourage you to check back often for updates, contests, and more as things continue to develop.

Be warned: we are runners, not web gurus, so we are still working on getting the fillable registration form and waiver up. If you are interested in participating on June 22nd, please give me a shout at reprva at and we'll get you signed up.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, June 2, 2014

We Came, We Ran (Like Girls), We Rocked

What an exciting weekend of running this turned out to be!

First, Saturday was the first day of MTT. It was like the first day of school, only way better. I was literally jumping up and down with excitement as we all gathered in front of Sports Backers stadium. Jill laughed at me, Katie told me I was way too excited for the hour of the morning (as did Kylie), and pretty much everyone else just shook their heads at me knowingly.

It was a beautiful first day of MTT too - the weather was quite lovely this year and I am happy to report that there was no pavement surfing, though we did take advantage of the moment and played a prank on Greg regarding last year's incident.

As we pulled into the stadium I told Kit, Lauren, and Katie to tell Greg that I had fallen again and was in the bathroom cleaning myself up. When we spotted him coming, I disappeared into the ladies and came out looking dejected and angry, clutching a paper towel to my shoulder.

As I approached the group, Greg rushed toward me "Oh my gosh, are you ok???"

"I suck!" I said. "I can't believe I did this again!"

"Let me see it!" says Greg (he always love to see gore and couldn't get enough of staring at last year's wound).


"Come on!"

"Fine!" I said, and whipped the paper towel off of my shoulder, revealing my perfectly fine shoulder. He looked stunned and as the prank washed over him, we both started laughing our butts off and I gave him a bit old sweaty hug.

"Ah haaaa - GOTCHA!"

It's going to be a great year for MTT.

As if that excitement wasn't enough, yesterday was also Run Like a Girl!

I must tell you all, I was kind of nervous about putting together a team for this event. I've never done such a thing before and all I could think was that it would end in disaster; disaster being that it turns out nobody in the world reads this blog or likes me enough to pay $35 to run a race with me. But I am so glad that I did it anyway, because today was a blast! Not only were some of my best long-time running buddies there, but I also got to meet some great new ladies and managed to wrangle some of my friends-turned-newbie-runners into the group too.

Team Run Eat Play RVA! 
From left to right:
Allison, Danielle, Katie, Pat, Jennifer, Teresa, Me, Cassie, Marcey

There were a few ladies who signed up that I didn't find - I'm sorry and please give me a shout to let me know how it went!

We had runners of every kind on the team, from those who were about to earn their first medal to an Iron Woman. But despite this wide range of experience, we all enjoyed each others' company and fellowship (at least I think so!). That is part of what is so awesome about running.

Aside from having a great time as part of Team Run Eat Play RVA, my goal for this race was to PR my 4 mile distance, which I thought meant running faster than a 37:35 (last year's RLaG). That seemed to be pretty achievable, even though I admit my legs felt pretty tired and my feet have been hurting for the past week.

 To achieve this, I lined up near the front of the starting corral along with Allison (Iron Woman) and Jennifer (new-to-me running buddy!). To be honest with you, I was on a mission today and after that starting horn went off, I don't remember very much! Jennifer, Allison, and I all hung together until mile 2 and then Jennifer cooled a bit, so it was just Allison and I. The overall field of runners seemed smaller this year, so there weren't a lot of other ladies around us. The miles ticked off very quickly and neither of us was talking too much, a sure sign of a good effort.

I remarked on that, and Allison said, "Yup, it's feeling kinda hard, but ya know, whenever I feel like I want to slow up I think about my grandma, who died of ovarian cancer, and keep going."

The reason we were running this race was right beside me and wow, was that inspiring. Even though my legs were tired and I wanted to slow up, I urged myself to stick with Allison for the rest of the race. We chatted about what we thought our grandparents would think about us being runners and about who we run for, who we think of when the going gets tough. That last mile thinking about our loved ones watching over us was a beautiful thing.

When we crossed the line, my Garmin read 33:34. I had gotten that PR! But I still had work to do, so after a hug from Allison, I went back up the trail to wait for everyone else and try to snap some photos as they came into the finish. I didn't get everyone - Jennifer ended up crossing just after Allison and I, and then some of the others just seemed to come out of nowhere before I was ready. But I got a few.

Teresa taking it to the finish

Pat rounding the corner to the finish

Marcey, demonstrating some fabulous jazz hands technique
I really am so proud of everyone on Team Run Eat Play RVA (I feel like a den mother or something, which is so weird!). Cheering you all in to the finish was so much fun and so exhilarating.

Then came the icing on the (cup)cake.

When Allison, Jennifer, and I had crossed, we had felt like we may have been among some of the first finishers. There just didn't seem to be many people with medals milling around and we also hadn't been near a lot of others out on the course. It seemed possible that we may have placed, so we decided to wait around until the awards ceremony.

As it turns out, today I finished first in my age group.

When my name was called I really couldn't believe it. I think I've placed 3rd in my age group once or twice before but I certainly didn't expect to ever finish first. My theory is just that I got lucky - the fast runners aged 30-34 must not have shown up or something. I still don't know my chip time, but here is the breakdown from the Almighty Garmin.

Really, the best part of today was hanging out with such an awesome group of ladies. Thank you all so much for coming out and being a part of Team Run Eat Play RVA! I hope that you had as much fun as I did.

Cassie celebrating her first medal with a fabulous leap.

The traditional "made an ugly face" with Marcey

The Symphony Expatriate Contingent
Running Twin Love

Medals and smiles all around