2018 Cherry Blossom 10M Recap

I returned to D.C. in April to run the Runner’s Rite of Spring, and the whole weekend was a cold front. Surprise, surprise…it seems like whenever I run here, the weather is some extreme or another. Alas, I was excited to return to this historic road race for the second year in a row. I arrived on Friday and took time to explore my old roots and catch up with friends and former coworkers.

Saturday was expo day, and I wound my way around the National Building Museum checking out the vendors.

I ran into my Sparkly Soul sista, Caroline, and got our obligatory pre-race picture!

I stayed just a short time at the expo. The cherry blossoms, which were still surviving the cold, were calling my name! I hopped on the Metro and went to the tidal basin…along with 48293 other tourists.


Sunday was race day, and I am SO glad that I kept my cold weather gear: the temps at the start line were frigid..26 degrees with 12 mph winds. It. Was. Miserable. My hands and feet went numb within the first five minutes of being there, even with gloves and socks on. I lined up in the Purple Corral around 6:45, bundled up like an Eskimo with my space blanket and huddling toward the ground to get a break from the wind.

My feet were tingly and painfully numb as I waddled closer to the start line. Once we launched, I tried to keep some semblance of form that represented running. I thought about peeling off the course at Mile 2 for the med tent because it was that unbearable, but pushed along.

(I later discovered that my first two miles were worlds apart from last year…10:45 and 11:37 respectively. How the hell did I manage that?!)

I didn’t pull out my phone for pics until halfway through, just like 2017. Rounding near the Jefferson Memorial, the blooms greeted us like a long lost friend.

My times dropped to around 13, 14 minutes per mile…but it was worth it!

Heading into Hains Point, I developed a fartlek strategy: run where the sidewalk dipped inward toward the river (so I could actually run run with space), and walk when it swung back in. Walk the water stops. Take pretty pictures. That was miles 6-9-ish.

By mile 7 or so, my body had been feeling relatively normal for a few miles. When we looped around the Point and headed back to the city, the last two miles were all headwind. (For those that have run Marine Corps, this is miles 12-14.) The cold feelings returned and I was determined just to get to the finish.

Oh, and take another picture:

I kept one eye on my Garmin those last two miles. My 2017 PR was a 2:10:05, and my current time was getting reeeeeal close. Beating that previous PR would give me such a boost since my attempt to PR at the Fairy Tale Challenge had failed and I still felt like crap for being unable to do so after racing the same courses for years.

Hitting mile 9, I was hovering around a 1:57. The screams and cheers of the final mile propelled me up the final hill/last 400m and down to the finish.

I had a new PR! 2:09! Woohoo! 🎉🎉

Look at those negative splits in the last few miles! 😊😊

I retrieved a space blankie, my medal, and snacks. I walked a long, cold walk to Prêt a Manger on F Street to get something warm to eat and to thaw out.

It has glitter!! Yay! ✨✨

I then traversed to Georgetown, space blaket a-flying, and met with my Twitter friend, Amy, for victory cupcakes and coffee at Baked and Wired!

When I descended the plane the following day, I was greeted by my boyfriend, Michael, holding a name sign he designed and decorated (and drowned in glitter for!) and a branch of cherry blossoms!!


2018 Princess Half Recap

Sunday. 2 AM.

Happy five-year runnerversary to me! Happy tenth half marathon! Happy I’m Getting My Perfect Challenger Status Today Day!

No matter what my finish time was going to be, I knew the day was going to be celebrated. I packed up all my Princess medals the night before, knowing that I would add three more to the collection for a grand total of fifteen.

I woke up with my strategy of sticking with the 60/30 pace group in Corral E and aiming for a 2:30. I arrived at EPCOT in plenty of time, like always, to hang around and slowly warm up. While en route to the security checkpoints, I ran into Ashley, who is one of the best wheelchair athletes runDisney has! We had been social media friends for quite awhile and it was awesome to finally meet in person!

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I checked in and meandered around. Not too long later, I met up with Christine, who I met during Marine Corps Marathon weekend!

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We journeyed over to the corrals way earlier than usual and we were there around 5. I found my way to Corral E (highest corral ever, yay!), and stretched out, talked to some people, listened to the pre race stuff. You know, the usual. The same scenario on repeat from the last five years…

At some point I stood there, absorbing my surroundings. The cheers, the crack of the fireworks, the buzz of nerves and excitement…and I felt utterly surreal.

If this was my last Princess Half, I would be completely okay with it. I know I had been talking about it on the downlow, but honestly….I’m so over this.

We inched closer to the starting line, and I took a look around to figure out where the pacing group was. Oh, they’re behind me. I’ll get started and drift back towards the once we get going.

Three…two…one…GOOOOO!

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The journey of 13.1+ Princess miles began once again.

Pairing up with that pace group for the first two miles felt great. My times were steady, around 12:30 and 11:30 respectively.

Then it all fell to shit. I lost my group.

Too narrow of a course coupled with WAY too many people running, walking, and intervalling became an absolute nightmare.

On the bright side, I was on par for incredible sunrise pictures, and talking with other runners! Around Mile 4 in the TTC parking lot, I started taking in my surroundings and enjoying the scenery. I could still hear the fireworks being launched around 6:30am from all the way over there. The weather was calling to be extremely hot later on and I felt quite grateful for my 5:50-ish start time.

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The Princess Half course itself has remained unchanged for the last nine years (as far as I know). However, this year featured a small yet unique difference: instead of making Mile 5 right by the down and back by Space Mountain after the Contemporary Cone Alley, it curved to the left just prior to that, and took us right in front of the Magic Kingdom entrance!

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Now THIS was a special treat. The Main Street citizens were up on top cheering down at us, and being able to enter from the very front of Main Street U.S.A felt SO magical.

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And this sunrise…. I could NOT get enough! You could tell by looking at my splits where I stepped aside for optimal photo ops!

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Now the second half of the race…

*brain goes dead*

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Once you hit the curve after Mile 6.8, and you’re not in the front corrals with open road, everything just falls apart. It’s hot. You hit Cone Alley after Cone Alley. So many cones.

And so many people.

I try my best to stay to the farthest left that I can in this area. There’s no point in running, because you just can’t.

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I started cramping up around Mile 8. I knew had a ton of time on the sweepers (over 45 minutes), and I decided just to walk the rest of the race from this point. My pace fell into the 16-17 minute range…but that’s so typical of a runDisney event, especially given the logistics and conditions of the course.

The rest of the race had me mentally counting down the miles. The EPCOT geosphere kept getting closer and closer, and I felt relieved and content about the thoughts going through my head…

-I want my runDisney career to be over.
-I want to be off this course with all these people.
-I want to be in my bed after taking a shower.
-I am so tired of this repetition, year after year.
-Couple more miles? Sure, I can do that. Get me out of this sun.
-All this money in registration fees and all we challengers get is a bib designation and a lanyard? Not cool, runDisney. Y’all can do better…

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Descending into EPCOT, the crowds grew and their cheering moreso. I hustled my butt over and around to the final down and back loop and straight on towards the finish line.

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My time? Ha. 3:35. Two minutes faster than my all time slowest half and definitely my slowest Princess Half. But I didn’t really care. I finished. I was a 5-year Challenge legacy runner. I had completed my sixth Princess Half, and tenth half marathon. All reasons to celebrate.

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I collected my medals and legacy lanyard and made a beeline for some shade. After downing some electrolytes and water and that super tasty banana, I layered up for my legacy shot (and found Ian in the process!).

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I also ran into the Princess Men, whom I had met at the Enchanted 10K the previous year! Props to them for running in those costumes in the heat!

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Five years. Ten Races. Fifteen Medals. What. A. Journey.

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Christina’s Post-Race Thoughts:

At the time of this writing, it’s been almost two months since this race day. Yes, I’m happy to have celebrated all of the personal milestones that came with the weekend. I’m excited for those that completed their first races or earned PRs on this course. All finish lines should and will be celebrated.

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However, after much contemplation, I have reached an impass with runDisney. No longer has the registration fees yielded the results that I wish to receive from a race company. I have calculated paying over $1700 in the last five years just for registration fees for the Glass Slipper/Fairy Tale Challenge. I understand permit fees and other administration/logistical things on their end obviously cost money….but what we get in return in terms of a race experience isn’t worth it.

I’ve received questions and inquiries from other runners on my socials about what all the perfect Challengers received, like sashes or different medals or whatnot. Unfortunately, what I mentioned earlier about the bib designation and lanyard is 100% accurate. I’m super proud of the Perfect Princesses getting their sashes….but c’mon runDisney…couldn’t you have splurged on something cool for us?

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I also have running goals that simply cannot be met on a runDisney course. As someone that is striving to run faster, trying to dodge 25,000 other people on a tight course where many do not adhere to the runner’s etiquette of going two-wide or less when walking is just a buzzkill that I wish to not battle with anymore. Until the day comes where I can earn an A corral status, my time with runDisney career is on a permanent hiatus.

While I won’t run the races, I will be here to support all of you who do! I’m here for all of your questions and 100% honestly blunt answers about Marathon and Princess weekends. Who knows, you may spot me at an expo or I may be on course acting as a cheerleader!

See ya at the finish line!

Fairy Tale Challenge

Next up: Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Miler

2018 Enchanted 10K Recap

Saturday. 2 AM.

The mornings come early and miles even moreso. With the I-4 expansion project, the exit closest to where I’m at in Orlando is shut down at night. I had to leave earlier than expected to take a different route. No biggie, I still arrived obnoxiously early around 3:30 AM.

After many minutes of chilling, I headed into the runner’s village. I LOVE the fact that the 10K has such a smaller field than the half. I can move around and breathe and not feel trapped.

My team, Team Shenanigans, trickled in and we met up near the A-F bag check where another member, Kenny, was volunteering.

We also snagged a picture with the lovely balloon ladies!

My Sparkly Soul sister, Caroline, and I also met up for a pre-race picture!

We headed to the corrals and I was pretty excited line up with Corral C.

I was hanging out when a woman came running up to me. She recognized me from Instagram, and I the same. It was Dana (@ladysoup4)! It was amazing to finally meet in person!

*insert pre race stuff*

*fireworks*

With the mini waves, corrals were sent on a fairly regular basis. In no time, we were sent on our way.

I had an A goal of sub-1:00. My first mile was a 10:34. Steady. I was also running with music, which I hadn’t done in years. I mean, who could not run to The Greatest Showman?

Then I hit the hairpin turn by mile 1.5 and hit a wall of people.

I kept up the speedwalking and got a quick run break after mile 2. From 2-3, I had some open road where I’d run a distance, have a walk break, rinse and repeat.

Then those walk breaks became more frequent as the wall of runners got heavier heading into World Showcase.

Who can resist a runDisney World Showcase picture? Not I!

I slowed down and started to enjoy the scenery a little more. Country representatives were cheering and waving flags. The sun was slowly peaking. Torches were lit and the countries had that pink glow to them.

The Enchanted 10K soon became the Wildlife 10K when I descended the hill into Boardwalk. To my right, I saw a small pile of ducks that looked like they wanted to cross. I ran over clamoring, “Oh my goodness you’re so cuuuute!”, took a pic, and with the help of another runner, started ushering them across the roadway while calling out, “Ducky crossing!”

Now that my heart was full of fuzzies, I continued on.

Found some more Shenanigators!

And some funny signs:

The sun was about to rise as I entered Yacht Club, which, in my opinion, is the best part of the whole weekend.

Right ahead of me at Yacht Club, this beautiful Great Egret was chilling on the ropes. Perfect photo opportunity!

Best on-course picture I’ve ever taken. My slow pace was absolutely worth it for this postcard-worthy shot!

And then it flew away. Ha.

The rest of this section was picturesque as it has been the last four times I’ve run it.

Reentering back to World Showcase, I had to use the loo for the first time all race. There was an area by the Port of Entry so I ducked in.

Men’s room, of course 😛 When there’s no one in there, you take advantage of that!

EPCOT in all its beauty:

My time ended up being a 1:35:04. WAY off from my time goal, but with the scenery and pictures I got, it was worth it.

AND HOW ABOUT THIS MEDAL?!

Fifth Enchanted 10K complete, and, of course, I brought my other babies with me for a Perfect picture!

One down, one to go. Next up: 2018 Princess Half Marathon!

2017 Year in Review — Running

This year was…quite something. I think out of this year, more than any other, each race has its own specific story to tell. These range from the dramatically emotional (RnR DC) to elation (Clyde’s 10K), from observing the goodness of the running community (WDW Half) and sheer perseverance (MCM). Let’s dive into the review…


January: Goofy Challenge

WDW Half
Nothing like starting out the racing year with a cancelled race! Due to storms, the WDW Half was cancelled and we were issued refunds in a variety of forms for our registration. (Anyone else still using their gift cards?! I am!) However, it didn’t stop many of us from trekking around the hotels and parks to get that mileage in! Cast Members and other runners set up makeshift water and candy stops along loops where runners were getting their laps in. Cheers from guests and runners alike pierced the air through the parts as we donned our bright yellow race shirts and ran circles around World Showcase. Social media support was intense, and we couldn’t stop clamoring over how one event brought out the best in the running community, and how we were all a part of this history.

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-So Mr. Cold Front came through, and I was fortunate to have brought cold weather clothes to Florida. It was 35 degrees with 15 mph winds. Official Florida winter. Never had I felt this cold during a race. Even with the sun, I was still freezing.

My race was awesome, though…for the first five miles. I was pacing to hit a 5:24 marathon (which would have been a 1.5 hour PR). But once I hit that stupid Cone Alley at Mile 6.8, that went out the window. I turned it into a fun run, rode on Everest, and grabbed a margarita to finish my third marathon in 7:30.

Then I went back to my hotel, wrapped myself in my space blanket, and thawed out.

February:Glass Slipper Challenge

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-The entire weekend I was plagued with side stitches. I could barely run any of the 19.3 miles for these two races. But I did PR in photography, running into social media friends, and watching a kick ass sunrise over Yacht Club and Boardwalk.

Highlight of the race: I MET MY RUNNING TWIN, LINDSAY!!!!

However, if you looked around, you could tell that runDisney was pulling back on a lot of our favorite things. For one, the Fairy Godmother didn’t wave us away, nor were there characters at the beginning. That’s been a pre-launch tradition for as long as I can remember.

My fastest mile of the weekend was Mile 1 with a 10:47. Fabulous.

The 10K medal is definitely my favorite of the four 10Ks I’ve run thus far.

Princess Half Marathon

-This was my fifth Princess Half, so I knew exactly what to expect course-wise. The course map has remained unchanged from when I ran my first in 2013. Due to traffic, the race was actually delayed by a couple of minutes as they waited for all of the elites to arrive. Once we started moving, I made the decision to not chase a sub-3 PR, and just to focus on photography, just like the previous day. I finished in 3:34, definitely not my best performance. But I did get my GSC legacy shot (which prompted a lot of, “Shut the front door!” from those watching me layer on 12 medals), and met social media buddies Ian and Keith!

March

Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Marathon That Wasn’t

-Easily the most frustrating race I have ever taken part in. So frustrating that I have declared a boycott of all RnR DC races and RnR marathons. Lack of course split signage and course officials directing runners to said split caused Chris and I to finish just the half, not the marathon which we paid for. Having NO idea what was going on, I cried just before the finish line, looking around like a lost puppy dog. I blew a sub-3 chance with my little tantrum, but I couldn’t help it. Any race that goes against what is written in the race instructions online gets no respect from me. I have now coined the term logistical ignorance to describe the experience.

It was also the coldest! I thought WDW was bad. That didn’t hold a candle to DC.

Some good stuff happened though: I met Meb, and Chris and I got new half marathon Prs with 3:02 on a very hilly course (and I got to ring my first PR bell!). Also, there could always be Hamilton tickets at the finish…you have to cross the line to check!

April

Cherry Blossom 10 Miler

This race definitely falls under the Prettiest Race of 2017 for me. DC got nailed with a cold snap that killed off a lot of the cherry blossoms in March, and the little guys were struggling to bloom as the Cherry Blossom Festival was getting underway. Somehow, a warm front came through, and we had blossoms for race day!

This was my first 10 Miler, acquired through the lottery, so it was an automatic PR. While this international field is intense (anything run in the DMV will have an intense field, because competition), there is still plenty of opportunity to enjoy the scenery. Trending with WDW and RnR, this race was also cold as hell. It’s just been the year of cold! I swapped out my original outfit for thermal tights and sleeves.

This was also the first race where I wasn’t hell bent on taking pictures. Starting in the last corral, I had roughly an eight minute buffer between the pace vehicle and myself, so I was more focused on keeping that barrier. (CUCB requires proof of time upon lottery entry for corral seeding purposes just like runDisney.) It took me five miles to finally pull my phone out and snap a course picture. The course reflected all of my other DC races, so I knew what was along the route. CUCB does have a time limit of 2:20:00, Finish past this and you will not be listed as an official finisher. I finished in 2:10, just barely making it!

Clyde’s 10K

And another PR! Getting closer to that sub hour 10K!

Having worked for the Clyde’s Restaurant Group at the time of racing, I was granted a comp entry for the company 10K. Taking place in scenic Columbia, MD, it was a 10K of extremely hilly proportions (and the crazy Route 108). Afterwards, a delicious brunch catered by Clyde’s of Columbia was consumed. I was disappointed that there was no medal for this race (making it three 10Ks so far that remain medal-less), but I am very happy with my 4 ½ minute improvement from the Hot Cider Hustle 10K from the previous year.

And then we go into hiatus…until…

October

Marine Corps Marathon

Ahhh, my revenge marathon on the same course that gave me my first DNF in 2015. I was also running with Chris and Lauren, who were out to crush their first marathons. It was hot, it was brutal, I got diverted at Mile 17 because I arrived thirteen minutes too late to Charge the District. I still found my way to the finish line and got a medal…and a lot of Shake Shack the next day.

I told myself no more marathons after this. Then I put my name in for Berlin…

…and now I’m eating my words. I’ll be writing a more in depth post on this whole topic coming soon. 🙂

December

UO Fun Run 5K

Company race through Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. Slowest 5K so far, but a PR in character stops with 11!

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So this year by the numbers:

-9 races
-117.2 miles traversed
-10 Medals
-4 locations (FL, DC, MD, VA)
-3 Personal Records (MCM should’ve been #4 with a PR by 9 minutes, but only after hypothetical times were calculated by the timing company)
-2 Marathons
-2 Disney challenges
-1 New Distance (10 Miler)

Universal Orlando Fun Run 5K Recap

It was a very early Saturday morning when I woke up  for the company fun run. Having slept about three hours the night before (on top of taking two flights back from DC), I knew the run wasn’t going to be decent. I had the goal of breaking sub :30 in the 5K, and thought this race would be the one to do it.

I hadn’t run since Marine Corps; I walked a lot at work! But mileage at work doesn’t substitute well for legitimate racing miles.

Anyway.

UO Fun run

The field was slightly more than 1,000, which was perfect. The announcers were asking for competitive runners to be in the front, slightly less competitors in the middle, and walkers/strollers in the back. I thought this was very fair. I lined up near the front, still with that sub :30 on my mind.

At 6AM, we counted down and raced through the gates to Islands of Adventure!

 

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All of my pictures are going to be horrendously dark until the end. 

 

The course was very windy, as we alternated from onstage and offstage/backstage areas often. We were in the presence of our most majestic attractions, such as Hulk, Skull Island: Reign of Kong, Poseidon’s Fury, and Hogwarts Castle!

I started out fantastically, with my first quarter of a mile hovering around 2:30. I slowed for a quick walk interval, then started back up again. The route ran through Marvel: Superhero Island, and the characters began. I never stop for characters in runDisney races, but seeing as there were very few people comparatively doing this race, I felt it obligatory to stops for some characters:

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Comic Book Strip and Toon Lagoon were next:

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Then Jurassic Park and Hogsmeade!

 

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Frog Choir!

 

Even with character stops, my first mile was around 13 minutes. Not bad.

To clarify, this was a non-chipped race. Nothing is officially official, and I’m going off of my watch data.

We ran out of Hogsmeade and through The Lost Continent. All of the decorations were on as we traversed through Seuss Landing.

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Hooking a left out of Seussland, we started the ever-so-boring backstage portion.

Soon, we were in Universal Studios Florida, and the second half of the race!

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I took it easy and just absorbed the emptiness of the park, along with the decorations. It was sooo relaxing to take in the scenery without guests or a ton of runners. It was a relatively quiet race (no spectators, either, since the park hadn’t opened up at that point).

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My pace had slowed down even more, but I was suprisingly okay with it. I was just on the lookout for the next character stop!

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By the time I finished the race (51:25), I had a PR for character stops with 11.

UO FUn run finish

I met up with some of my attractions team and we proceeded through the breakfast line, which is better than any recovery box I’ve ever received.

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All in all, a good day for my first and only 5K of the year!

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2017 Marine Corps Marathon Recap

I didn’t enter Marine Corps Marathon weekend with high expectations. With my resentment towards the 26.2 distance aggrandizing since the WDW Marathon in January, I honestly just wanted to get in and get out with minimal injury. Having flashbacks of my 2015 experience in DC still fresh in my mind, I didn’t care what my pace was. I wanted to cross that finish line and be done.

I slept terribly the night before, getting about four hours total. Chris and I woke up around 4:45, and before I knew it, it was 5:45 and we were out the door, heading to the Metro. I swear, no matter how much time you give yourself to get ready, it’s never enough!

We arrived at the Metro slightly after six. I was sort of excited to ride, as MCM partnered with WMATA to open the Metro two hours early to accommodate the runners, with extra Blue and Yellow trains to the Pentagon station. Okay, so we’ll have trains operating every five minutes or so, easy peasy. I won’t have to freak out about being late.

I should’ve known better. This is DC Metro, after all. The first train didn’t arrive until 6:30 AM.

We arrived at Pentagon station by 6:45, and it was a madhouse. With each arriving train, the platform got more crowded. The crowds were moving at a snail’s pace to begin with, probably due to those not being prepared in advance with their Metro cards to tap out of the station. It took us about 15 minutes to exit.

Following the swarm of runners to the starting area, the sun started to cast a beautiful yellow and orange glow in the sky. Rosslyn was off in the distance and its buildings were reflecting the rays as a sort of welcoming beacon for us. The weather was slightly chilly, but that was going to change quickly once the sun peaked. After walking roughly over a mile, we came upon the UPS drop off location.

Over the booming speakers, we heard: “If you’re here and running the 10K…ouch!” -announcer guy

(The MCM 10K, which is also on my list, was taking place IN the city as the last 6.2 miles of the marathon course. If a 10Ker was at the Pentagon, well…)

Chris and I found our other Kappa Kappa Psi brothers and running buddies, Lauren, and her husband, Patrick (who was playing support crew with our other friends Chris and Ema). After a quick picture, we headed to the starting area.

With the fear of being swept fresh on our minds, and after careful analysis of our previous races and paces from this year, we decided to line up around the 5:00 area. We’d have a somewhat decent barrier between us and the sweeper vehicles, and be in the vicinity of the 5:00 and 5:30 pace groups in case we wanted to join.

The parachuters did their performances, and the Ospreys did their flyover to the cheers of the crowds. At 7:55, the Howitzer fired, and the race began!

Sort of.

Any Marine Corps Marathon veteran will tell you that it takes, on average, twenty minutes from the time the Howitzer fires until you cross the start line. So it’s a perfect representation of the military: hurry up and wait.

Around 8:17am or so, the three of us finally started our journey! First stop: Rosslyn.

I posted several times on social media that the first 5K for this race is the worst. It has the most elevation changes, and staying conservative will be beneficial in the later miles. The crowds were ample and puppies even moreso. We stayed steady, walking the hills and running the flat areas. The energy was amplified, and, trust me, greatly appreciated. We hit the 5K mark and descended into Spout Run along miles 3.5-4 on the GW Parkway. (This turned out to be my best mile of the whole damn race.) The views of Georgetown University were gorgeous as we headed towards Key Bridge.

The crowds started to thin a little as we ran down M Street in Georgetown and flew down Wisconsin Ave.

Our next stop was Rock Creek Park, and I was starting to feel a little fatigued. Lauren and Chris were definitely faster than I was, whether running or speed walking, so I tried to keep up the best I could.

RCP was shady and pretty as always. Having run the same route during several other DC races, I knew what to expect. The turn around at mile 7 led to a nice downhill (same downhill as NAFHALF and halfway up the evil hill from RnR DC), and back into the shade. As we headed past mile 8, we saw the sweeper busses coming up the other side. Already?! There’s no way in hell I was getting on that bus this year.

My lower back was starting to hurt, and it was getting harder to keep up with Chris and Lauren. I didn’t want to bog them down with my slowness, so I told Chris to just go ahead without me. He didn’t want to leave me behind but I didn’t want to screw up their race plans. I watched them get farther away, and I had no doubt that they would finish their first marathons strong and in one piece.

The sun was starting to rage around mile 10 as I headed toward Hains Point. I was starting to feel dehydrated and weak, and slowed to mainly walking with some running bursts in between. My new friend, Christine, whom I met post-expo and is also Ms. United States: District of Columbia, caught up with me around mile 11.5 and we shared some encouraging words before taking off for the Blue Mile at mile 12.

I’m glad I wore sunglasses for this race; I got really emotional watching other runners stopping by the signs of their loved ones and just pausing to reflect.

I also got a lot of high fives in this section, which was great because I was about to fall over.

I wasn’t planning on taking Run Gum until the halfway point, but I took it just before I entered this section. Holy crap, was that a bad idea. I didn’t have water to wash the flavors down, so the sugars coated my mouth and throat and felt thick and suffocating. This error would affect the rest of my race as the ensuing dehydration made me feel sick and gross.

My half split was a 3:09, which is surprisingly decent compared to some of my other half splits over the years.

The second half of the race was torture. My stomach and back weren’t cooperating, the sun was blazing, and I was so ready to be done. However, just past the halfway mark was the Funny Sign Mile. I was SOOOOO happy that they didn’t take these down prematurely, unlike in 2015 when everything seemed to disappear after all the faster runners went through.

The objective here to focus on was making it to the “D.C. Gauntlet” at Mile 17 by 12:33. I had about 45 minutes to make it three miles. Not an easy feat when you feel like dying and are walking the entire distance. The pace car (white car with colored handprints) was annoyingly riding alongside of us (and we honestly didn’t know if it was the official pace car or what it was doing), but I was just happy to not see those stupid sweeper busses riding my ass.

I saw fellow Kappa Kappa Psi brother Katelyn at Mile 16! 💙💙💛

I came up on mile 16 and, after taking liquids, thought I had to go to the bathroom. I stepped in and tried to go. Nothing happened. At this point, I knew I was going to be diverted past the first gauntlet and to the bridge. I took a moment, gathered myself, and got back on the course. Even with the copious amount of liquids I ingested, it still felt like it wasn’t enough. It would actually be several more miles before I saw water again.

I missed the cutoff for the D.C. Gauntlet by 13 minutes, and to be technical, I’m not considered an “official finisher” due to this. Cutting across Jefferson Drive and right to the Beat the Bridge portion at mile 19.5, we slowpokes merged in with the bulk of the other runners here, and rejoiced over the fire hydrant that happened to be open and spraying water about. I also heard my fellow Team Shenangians member, Meghan, cheering me on as I went to the bridge.

The 14th Street Bridge…I had no doubt I’d get over this, as I started around 12:50-ish. Still walking, the sun was beating down on us, and its effects were affecting all of us. Still feeling ultra dehydrated, I was very tempted to ask another runner if they had water I could take a quick sip of. Embarrassing as it was, I ran around asking random support groups if they had water. One of them—I didn’t quite catch a name—actually seemed reluctant to give me a bottle, but they did. If it wasn’t for that water, I probably would have dropped on the bridge…or over the bridge.

I got over the bridge and into Crystal City at 1:36, 13 minutes before that cutoff. As I was heading in, I felt a tap on my shoulder, and it was Chris! He was soooo confused as to how I got ahead of him, and I told him I got diverted. Still confused, I told him I’d explain later, and he started getting ahead of me. He was a man on a mission at this point, and I knew he’d finish. I asked where Lauren was, and he said she was behind him a ways.

During the Crystal City section (and at other points on the course), I had other runners come up to me and ask if I was @runDisneyBelle, seeing as they had seen my flat runner on social media. One of them was @runnerchick29! Trust me, I am ALWAYS happy to meet other runners on course. Look for the bow and say hi 🙂

Having run MCM before, I can tell you that no matter how many fire hydrants and hoses were open, Crystal City is awful. It’s neverending, and runners drop like flies. The crowds were really good this year, had lots of food, and I caught quick glimpse of the medal from a distance. I knew had to finish (and to justify buying the jacket prematurely!). I swing around Mile 23, and saw Lauren on the other side of the road! I ran over to her and we were just like, “…mehhhhh….when’s it gonna be overrrr?”

Yeah. We were so over it by this point.

The last 5K was just as brutal as the first 5K, but with water and animal crackers, and more sun. By the time Mile 25 arrived, we had swung back to where we had started about 6.5 hours prior. This time, we’d be taking the hill to the Iwo.

I ran into fellow Shenanigator Kristin here, and it was a great boost to get us to the finish!

Left up the hill…

Support crew selfie!


So I crossed the finish line for my fourth marathon, if you can even call it that. Due to being diverted from those miles in the city, the Xacte splits actually calculated predicted pace for the 30K and 35K marks for me. I appreciate its generosity as it gave me 12:33/ppm and 13:17/ppm respectively.

I got across that finish line and my “time” was a 6:41:43. To me, that’s all that matters at this point. Mission Accomplished. Woohoo.

I’ll jump on my soapbox for a moment and shout I AM SO PROUD OF LAUREN AND CHRIS FOR FINISHING THEIR FIRST MARATHON! Chris kicked my ass by twenty minutes and Lauren finished just a couple minutes behind me. I am SO proud of my fellow brothers for accomplishing their goals.

Christine also came over and celebrated with us!!


Christina’s Post-Race Thoughts:

1. I say this after every marathon, that I’m done and completely over the 26.2 distance. Then I find myself toeing the line for another full. But after this one, I feel like I am truly done. I got my “redemption” by crossing the finish line for this race. I didn’t get swept, nor did I die due to the heat. Calculating the miles from Metro excitement and heading to the start line, it gave me roughly 27-ish miles post race, according to my Garmin pedometer. I will call that a win.

Getting back to future marathons…I am supposed to do Chicago next year due to deferring this year. However, I would have to repay $195 just to claim my deferral. That’s literally a fifth of my rent and over two days’ worth of work! With this being the biggest reason to skip, and the ever growing resentment towards the distance, I am 99% certain that I will not be attending Chicago 2018. Let me also remind you all that I will also not be running in Disney in January for Marathon Weekend. I ran the last two years and abhor the course. Why continue doing a distance that I cannot stand, and dealing with the, “I’m so done with this.” angry feeling before, during, and after the race?

2. Weather all around the nation has been obnoxiously hot this year. I suggest to race officials that an additional water stop be put on the bridge for future races. For those like me who got diverted at 17, we did not get the convenience of the two water points that were in the D.C. Gauntlet. We went from the mile 16 water stop to mile 21.75 without water in the blazing sun.

3. Major thanks to everyone who came out and cheered for us during this race, even for us turtles in the back. Trust me, we greatly appreciate it. Cheers are not reserved for just the fastest runners on a course.

4. I was disappointed to see so many vendors packing up their stuff as I made my way into the Finisher’s Festival. I understand y’all have places to go and things to do, but we turtles would like to partake in what you have to offer, as well! I wanted bacon and watermelon.



Congrats to everyone who finished this weekend! It was an arduous course, and the weather moreso. Great job of Charging the District, Beating the Bridge, and Taking the Iwo. You ran with purpose and finished with pride. Extra confetti to the first timers! You deserve it!!

Thanks for a great racecation, D.C. Until next time…

Hot Cider Hustle 10K Recap

Caramel apples. Hot apple cider. Who doesn’t like running for delicious treats?!

In my quest to get into faster-seeded corral for Glass Slipper Challenge weekend and to continue with my Goofy Challenge training, I signed up for this here Hot Cider Hustle 10K a few weeks ago in October. I mentally had a goal of going sub-1:00, or as close to it as possible without destroying my body, as the Everglades Half is my next big race in two weeks.

The night before the race I had a minor body-image freak out as I tried on several different versions of outfits. I felt like everything I was wearing was squishing me in places that weren’t supposed to be squished, and I felt disgusting. To top it off, I was starting my period. #FemaleRunnerproblems  -__________-

I finally settled on my donut Sparkle Skirt, running tights, lots of pink accessories!, Athleti-tec hoodie and VSX sports bra. The hoodie was thin enough so I could just wear that and the bra and be fine. I’m not an advocate of wearing the race clothing ON race day (especially finisher/”I did it!” shirts)…but at this point, I wanted to be comfortable and not die. (Spoiler alert: it was a perfect combination.)

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My stomach was a wreck, as was my mental state. I was frustrated and upset, and the slow Metro on Saturday morning didn’t help, either. I did arrive with plenty of time to spare, which was great since it was at least a half-mile trek to the starting area. The weather was all blue skies and sunshine with a slight chill in the air.

The pre-race area was out in the middle of a huge parking lot adjacent to RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. I could clearly see that this race course was not going to be the most exciting: a loop-to-loop course, all in the parking lot area. Woot.

At least there were puppies near the gear check area, and all over the place 🙂 :

Around 8:50, we started lining up. This race is similar to the Rock ‘n’ Roll series, where it’s an honor system: faster runners are in the front and slower runners/walkers are near the back. I lined up somewheres in the middle (always a safe bet).

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The gun fired at 9:00 and the race began. the weather was chilly but the sun began to peak and it warmed up a bit. I held a steady, even pace for the first little bit, relying on my Hamilton music to keep me in tempo. My first mile was 10:01 (which, I do believe, is the fastest mile I’ve ever had in a race. Woohoo!)

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Up ahead of this was the loop into mile two, and straight into a ton of sunshine with no shade relief. This was a pain as I didn’t have sunglasses and wasn’t expecting to be blinded by the light, literally.

Another huge pain of this race? Runners randomly stopping to walk in the middle of the course without signaling. That’s a surefire way to get hurt, or to hurt someone else. I spent a lot of time dodging people in the first couple of miles and knew I was wasting energy by doing so.

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Around mile 2-ish.
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Here we go loop-de-loop.

This loop course was a first for me. By the above pictures, you can see it’s not the most fun course in the world. BUT…it was flat, with little to no elevation change. There was one water stop (slightly out of view on the above picture to the right), with Gatorade on the first lap and water on the second lap. I had to pee desperately on my second loop around, and saw three portapotties off in the distance around this area. SO grateful!

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Speaking of second loops around, it got really quiet really fast. 1500 runners had signed up for the 5K, 700 for the 10K, and 300 for the 15K. My first 5K split hovered around 34:00 (which is a split PR for me!).  It was nice to take my time on the second loop, to slow down when needed, and to experiment with pacing. I had several Hamilton songs ready to go, such as “Washington on Your Side” and “The Election of 1800“…all Nightcore versions. (Nightcore music is sped up and sounds like chipmunks singing.) Running in tempo with these really set me up for an even pace. (For example, I found that in WOYS, which is 2:12, I could cover a quarter of a mile and not feel winded.)

Despite a boring course and fighting cramps and peeing, I still wound up with an official 1:16:58 PR,  which is a seven-minute improvement from February’s Enchanted 10K! Woohoo!

No medals for this race (boooo), but a brand new mug for my collection! (Yaaaay!)

I submitted the POT update for GSC weekend. Here’s to hoping for a higher-seeded corral!


This race was full of firsts for me, including this…

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This caused so many headaches…

Since this course operated on a loop, the finisher’s chute offered instructions on how to navigate. If one was running the 5K, great! Go straight. Those on longer distances, step on the first timing mat for your split, and follow the cones on the left to get back on the course. For some reason,  many runners didn’t adhere to these instructions and found themselves either shortening their distances or lengthening them, intentionally or unintentionally. This caused such a snafu at the end, that the awards ceremony didn’t happen for those in the 10K and 15K distances. The results had to be tabulated by hand (since some 10K/15Kers would have had blazing fast splits), and other than the overall and 5K winners, awards weren’t handed out right then. I also didn’t get my results until later on in the evening when they were posted online (hence the one-second change between -my Garmin and the official time.)

If you’re going to run a looped course, know what distance you’re going to run and stick with it. It’ll cause a lot less stress with the timing and scoring department later on, and be honest if you want to go up or down with distances! It’s almost like banditing a race if you’re intentionally racing a shorter or longer distance than what you’re registered for.


Next up: Everglades Half Marathon racecation!