2016 Navy/Air Force Half Marathon Recap

The opening percussion beats and bagpipes of Gaelic Storm’s “Blind Monkey” served as my 4AM alarm this race morning. No matter what race it is…whether it’s runDisney or RnR or this…early wakeup times suck. You wander around bleary-eyed and sleepy while trying not to spill your pre-race coffee while asking yourself, “Why did I make this wonderful decision?”

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These are just a few of my favorite things that enable me to survive on race day: Nuun provides the electrolytes, EnergyBits for protein/healthy algae goodness, and sunscreen to not turn into a lobster. 

Now, I am a huge advocate of “nothing new on race day”, but I had been eyeing the forecast since two weeks out up until right before I left. The original forecast projected not just heat and humidity, but thunderstorms, as well. I turned to my Team Shenanigans members for rainy race day advice (just in case), as I have been fortunate to not have run in the rain at all in my running tenure. Jennifer Hall suggested coating my feet in Vaseline to prevent blisters. I located this here Vaseline (with cocoa butter) and applied it liberally to my feet.

Spoiler alert: no blisters!!


I started driving towards DC around 5AM, and I was super happy that there was very little traffic. Navigating traffic on race day is a surefire way to get the anxiety levels up. I always allot substantial time to arrive. I arrived around 5:30AM at the parking garage about two blocks from the staging area. I saw some other runners in a vehicle near mine and made it a point to make friends…DC is still pretty sketchy in the wee hours of the morning, and as always, safety in numbers.450fcb8c-e08f-4e73-92ae-a179e5400054

The staging area for NAFHALF and the Navy 5 Miler was on the National Mall adjacent to the Washington Monument. The field, in comparison to other races that I have run, was miniscule: 9,000 half runners compared to 25,000 or 30,000-deep fields. It was pleasant knowing that I could move around and not feel like I was being herded.

Race started slightly after 7:00. I was in wave #2. With the ding of the Navy Bell, we were off around 7:13 AM. The course was flat and in reverse of the MCM course, heading towards Haines Point (which is typically Miles 12-14 of MCM). The first 5K was overcast/not too hot, steady, and I think I clocked in somewhere around the 37:00 minute mark, according to the Garmin.

However…there was no 5K split timer. I didn’t get a split until mile four.

Weird.


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The second 5K ran concurrent with the Potomac River on Ohio Drive and past the Lincoln Memorial. The course split before the 5 mile mark of the Navy 5 Miler, with half marathoners heading left and 5 Milers to the right. The sun was juuuuuuust beginning to peek from behind the overcast skies, but stayed behind for the majority of this section.

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*looks around for 10K timing mat. Sees none. Grrrrr.*

I was also taking notice of my Garmin in these middle miles. It seemed as though the course measurements were off by at least .20 of a mile; when I reached an actual mile marker, my Garmin would show .20 over that. I’m not sure if the race coordinators noticed this, but I feel like I ran more (distance-wise, as in more than 13.1) than I intended to in this race.


Miles 7-11 wound up and around Rock Creek Park, which was nice, especially for the shady areas. Once I rounded the corner to descend a small hill near mile 9, the sun was making itself known. The heat rose rapidly and I started slowing down a little. I had also been fighting side stitches for the duration of the race, as well, so that didn’t help at all.

Rounding around the Arlington Memorial Bridge (and getting the perfect opportunity to do a flying jump at the camera), the final water stop was at mile 12 (with “The Final Countdown” playing).

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During that last mile, I ran into Jenny and Topher (short for Christopher), whom I had run into during the Rock Creek Park section. With Jenny’s encouragement, we all made a strong effort to run to the finish line together.

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Half marathon #6 conquered! (Chip time: 3:10:49….Garmin time: 3:10:54)img_0461-1


Christina’s Post-Race Thoughts:

  1. Splits: I have NO idea why the only splits we received were at the 4 mile and 10 mile markers. Traditionally, you receive them every 5K, plus halfway. I’m aggravated by this, as I feel like I cannot assess my performance accurately, except from what my Garmin could tell me:
  2. Lack of on-course support: Usually during military-based races, the service men and women are out in full force cheering and encouraging runners on. Today’s race was not the case. Even the spectators were few and far between. Not sure if it had to do with the fact that NAFHALF has less pomp and circumstance than its sister race, the Marine Corps Marathon (or even the Army Ten-Miler), or what, but the course was unusually quiet.
  3. I do give props for the conservative pacing. Half marathon runners had to reach mile 9 by 9:45 AM to prevent from getting swept. That’s hovering around a 16/mpm pace.
  4. Being near the back of the field is not the end of the world. I hover around there for breeze appreciation and knowing I won’t have to be elbowing people while maneuvering for position. Plus, I can fart and no one pays attention.
  5. Driving back home (aka driving through DC traffic) after a race totally blows. I wish the Metro was not under Safe Track at the moment.
  6. After analyzing my past half marathon performances, I have determined that I perform the best in cloudy, overcast conditions.
  7. Posting live Facebook videos on the course was a ton of fun and kept my mind off of my distressed obliques.
  8. If you gotta pee in the men’s bathroom because the women’s room is closed, do it. No one cares.
  9. Today’s race is my third fastest half marathon. Still striving for the sub 3-hour goal, though.

Congrats to everyone else who ran today/this weekend!

Next up: Everglades Half Marathon.

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Brace Yourselves…Fall Race Season Is Coming.

It’s just about that time of year again: the air begins to cool (unless you’re up here in D.C. and you’re still sweltering in 90+ degree weather), kids are going back to school, the leaves begin to turn, and pumpkin spice begins to dominate the shelves.

Oh yes, one more thing…

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IT’S TIME FOR RACING SEASON!!!

I don’t know about you all, but the relentless sunshine and humidity has wreaked havoc on my initial training plans for this summer. Some days were definitely better than others, and I relished the cool, cloudy days. (I found myself ironically doing my longest mileage on the hottest days with the worst humidity. Ha.) Just like back-to-school season has a sense of newness with an aura of new beginnings and a clean slate, I consider September the start of the new racing season; this past weekend was the Disneyland Half/Dumbo Double Dare weekend, along with Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach. From there, a whole slew of races and their shiny bling will be dominating our social media feeds until probably…mid-April-ish, after the Boston and London Marathons?

I’m rather excited to get started on my journey. I feel more like a legitimate runner with the lineup of races that I have on the horizon. I also got a terrific steal on a Planet Fitness membership…$99 for an entire year! You seriously can’t beat that! 🙂

I kickstarted this upcoming lineup of races back in August with the virtual National Park Series 100th Birthday race/#NPS100VRC. Props to the Virtual Running Club for heading it up! There were three options and I chose to run the 5K. My time may seem super slow…but I did have a lot of speed bursts throughout my time on the treadmill, and that I really can run up to 8 mph.

I am very much looking forward to getting this 3D ranger hat medal!

 

My IRL running schedule will be the busiest it’s ever been. Here’s the current rundown for the next six months, with possible additions along the way:


September 18th: Navy/Air Force Half Marathon (#NAFHALF)

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Running through the nation’s capital has always been a treat; there’s so many things to look at, you definitely won’t get bored on the course! I’ve been looking forward to the NAFHALF since I signed up for it way back when. The course map eerily reflects the Marine Corps Marathon route, so 95% of the terrain will be insanely familiar. I feel like this will give me a decent advantage. The projected weather, however, is calling for scattered storms and a high of 82 degrees. I really hope the heat and humidity hold off until after we’re done.

I’m still chasing my first sub-3:00 half marathon (current PR: 3:06:48 from PHM ’14), and am hoping to use this race as a POT update for Goofy Challenge weekend in January.


November 19th: Inaugural Everglades Half Marathon (#EvergladesHalf)

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Chris and I have a goal to complete each of the Vacation Races, which take place at National Parks. There are currently nine, and we decided to get a jump start on completing our mission by signing up for the Everglades Half! This will be Chris’s first half marathon; I’ll be playing pacer while he plays tour guide. (He’s a Floridian with extensive knowledge of the flora, fauna, and all things National Parks related.)


January 7th and 8th: Goofy Challenge (WDW Half Marathon and WDW Marathon)

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I told myself in the beginning of the year that I would be kicking my fitness up a notch, and what better way to do so than to train for one of the toughest runDisney challenges? For those that are unfamiliar with Goofy, it is 39.3 miles over two days. 2017 will be special, in which the half marathon will be the 20th anniversary edition (bring on the special bling!). I originally wanted to sign up for the half solely, but something inside of me said, “Go Goofy!” After having such a blast at the WDW Marathon this year, I decided to give it another go around. Plus, Chris and I will also be running the WDW Half together! (We’re going to focus on the half as a legitimate time race.)

A word to the wise: 39.3 miles is definitely not something to screw around with. I’ll be following Hal Higdon’s Dopey Challenge training plan, and it just so conveniently begins for me on September 12.  The first long run of that week is…a half marathon (aka NAFHALF)! How perfect!


February 22nd and 23rd: Glass Slipper Challenge (Enchanted 10K and Princess Half Marathon)

Fifth PHM, fourth GSC, and a potential Belle theme. As much as I wanted to say no to this challenge this year for a variety of reasons, the thought of being so close to legacy status excites me. The development of my PHM Survival Guide last year gave me a closer attachment to this race weekend as I connected with so many runners over the topics covered.  I definitely want to come back and have a better performance in 2017; major stomach issues kept me from achieving my A-goal PRs in 2016.

(And no, Chris is not running this one with me. Haha.)


March 11th: Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C. Marathon

RnR D.C. was my first ever race in this series, and trust me, I fell in love with it. Not only was it my first 5K ever (and first time being a pacer!), but it was also my first race expo volunteer experience.  Rock ‘n’ Roll really knows how to put on a great performance. I truly look forward to completing more of their events and eventually going for Hall of Fame status, probably in 2018.

Speaking of pacing, this will be Chris’s first FULL marathon! It’ll be my job to make sure we don’t die on the course; the course cutoff is at 5 hours and 30 minutes, or a 12:35/mile. (Rather quick for an RnR marathon, but D.C. has strict road close/open times.) If all goes well, we will also be running the Marine Corps Marathon later in 2017.


The only race that I have a TBD on at the moment is the London Marathon. I put my name into the Goblet of Fire…errrr, the race lottery, way back in May. I’ll find out in October if I get to begin my World Marathon Majors journey!


By looking at this list, you may think that I’m way over my head. A 10K, four half marathons, and two (possibly three) fulls in six to seven months?

Like most runners, I’m crazy.

But you know what else? It’ll also make me accountable for my training and nutrition. If I am to come out on top and be successful, I have to be more diligent, dedicated, and disciplined. After all…

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What is on tap for your fall/winter racing season? Any specific goals that you’re trying to achieve?  Will I be seeing you at any of these races?

 

See you at the finish line!

*~*Christina*~*

Summertime In the City

Gear up for several picture-heavy posts that recap my summer. We start out with some scenes from D.C.! Enjoy!


Storm’s a-comin’. D.C. was plagued with some fantastic thunderstorms this summer. I ran outside of The Hamilton and took this (facing West towards The Treasury). 
The best Ambassador to France we’ve ever had!
Leg day, anyone?
Arlington National Cemetery…you really never know who you’ll stumble upon.
Steps at the ANC.
Neighborhood in the NE quadrant.
One of my favorite buildings ever!
Scaffolding is slowly coming down. Hooray progress!
Union Station is becoming one of my favourite haunts. Incredibly historic and picturesque.

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Classic Starbucks.
Supreme Court. Chris and I sat in on a lecture back in August.
Supreme Court staircase…sepia tone.
Staircase again…black and white.
Sunshine through the trees by the Reflecting Pool. Traditional summer shot.
It was a sweltering summer, with heat indexes well over 100 degrees on most days. I had a #MileageMonday through Georgetown during one of these hot, humid days!
Columns on columns.

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I traversed the Constitutional Gardens one afternoon and stumbled upon this memorial commemorating the 56 Declaration of Independence signers.

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