Sometimes we all just need to get away from the grind. After the stress and whatnot of this month, I am doing just that.
I’m taking a surprise trip to Magic Kingdom tomorrow!! This is the first time I’ve ever done a spontaneous trip with less than two days of planning. I told Chris yesterday that I was coming to see him and he couldn’t even respond! I’m very excited to join in on the Dapper Day festivities, as well.
I would like to thank Jess for being my Enabler in this whole process. Love you, BRF! 💖
Happy Sunday, and Happy Easter/Eat Chocolate For Breakfast Day! This past week was really just…blargh. I felt sunny and happy on Monday with our first eighty degree day, and I think I used up all my happiness in one day, because I fell into a depressive state on Tuesday and it hasn’t let up. Hopefully this week will be different.
But let us review!
1. Clyde’s 10K. Time 1:12:33 (chip time).
I am on a PR roll right now! Three races, three PRs. This course, which took place in Columbia, MD, had a variety of terrain (aka a lot of hills). I was honestly surprise with how well I did, seeing as I hadn’t trained at all between the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler and this race.
The route wound its way around the Columbia lakefront and surrounding neighborhoods. It provided a nice distraction as we ran up and down a million hills…
Including THE hill…the Route 108 Hill…
Another runner suggested, “Don’t look at the hill. Look down at the road and just keep going!” This was sound advice.
I finished 1:12:33 on the results page (which begs the question of why my Garmin was significantly faster, by 34 seconds!). Regardless, it’s a PR of 4 1/2 minutes. I’ll take it! Afterwards, I met up with the Dunkin’ Donuts crew and just had to get a picture of the donut skirt/headband and truck combo.
The Clyde’s of Columbia crew and the Whole Foods next door provided a smorgasboard of goodies including muffins, bagels, fruit, Powerade, etc. I honestly pushed myself during this race, and thought I was going to throw up everywhere. I was sad that I didn’t eat more than I did, but it was delicious nonetheless.
2. Medal Monday
The Clyde’s 10K was the official conclusion of my 2017 winter/spring racing season. I had told myself that once that race was done, I would go on a racing hiatus for an undetermined amount of time. (Mainly for financial reasons; I know that Chicago is going to be a pretty penny.) This is definitely the most active I have ever been in a four-month period:
Three half marathons (including the unofficial WDW Half)
Two runDisney challenges
3. Tulips on Tulips
Tulips are one of my absolute favorite flowers, and DC has been blooming with them!
4. Chicago Marathon Training Plan
After much deliberation, I have settled on a Chi Marathon training plan. It’ll start in June, and from now until then, I’ll be focused on building up my base, both physically and mentally (great advice from Leah and Malinda of TwinsRun.) I haven’t officially decided on whether I want to try to train to BQ this summer or not, so we’ll see.
5. Cutest Post Its Ever!
Ohhhhh my goodness! I found these at Target and they are the cutest!! *squeee*
One last note:
Best of luck to everyone running the 121st Boston Marathon on Monday! I look forward to cheering you all on from D.C.!
“And there’s a million things I haven’t done, but just you wait. Just you wait…”
I have officially made the one-year mark here in Washington D.C. Here are my ramblings….
I never thought I’d be saying this, but lo and behold, here I am.
I have a track record of bouncing around from place to place and from job to job. I have a truly wanderlust heart and am constantly looking for the next adventure. I had made frequent visits spanning between 2014 and 2015 for various races and pet sitting gigs for my cousin, and thought that D.C. was the greatest city in the world. Having never lived in a big city before, and getting absorbed in the shininess of the city lights and landscapes featuring various architectural designs, I figured I would give it a shot. I applied for a hostess position at a restaurant, and passed the interview with flying colors. Having been rejected from every higher education job I had applied to in the six months prior to leaving Maine/New England and returning to Pennsylvania, I jumped on the opportunity. I started this adventure back in April 2016 with one goal in mind, and that was just to survive. Well, I’ve certainly survived, all right. One year later, I’ve survived the people, the noise, the rising costs, the Metro, an emotionally intense inauguration season…everything that is a complete 180 from my quiet rural hometown and college town that I became so accustomed to living in for nine years.
I’ve learned a lot about myself and the DC restaurant industry in this year. Working for one of the highest-volume restaurants as their reservationist, I’ve learned many lessons with it comes to dealing with people, co-workers and guests alike. Working with an ever-evolving managerial staff has presented its challenges, but they have remained relatively consistent as mentors in my quest to climb the ladder. The company I am with has multiple opportunities for continuing education within the industry, and I take advantage of those chances when I can, knowing what my end goal is. Hospitality is a multi-faceted industry where I can actually put to use some of the knowledge that I acquired in my nine years of college. On a personal note, I have realized that I am far more introverted that previously thought: I can turn on the people skills when I need to, but the second I’m out the door, I want to retreat into my bedroom and not come out.
Personally, I am incredibly fortunate to have a set schedule. After two months hostessing and working a variety of shifts, I got bumped up to full-time AM reservationist. This works perfectly with regard to my work-life balance. If I need time off for a racecation (such as runDisney), my management is willing to work around that, knowing how important running is to me (and the fact I submit my time off requests like, three months in advance). I have been able to travel a bit in the last year, making it to Florida four times (twice for running, and twice for Disney and Universal). My number crunching obsession pays off every time as I plan my budget down to the dollar. It does seem like I travel a lot, and some of you may preach that, “You complain about finances, and traveling gets expensive!”, but hear me out: I plan my dollars and I save up, finding deals at every turn. Not all of my trips are horribly expensive. If it wasn’t for the travel bug that sits on my shoulder, I would be way worse mentally and emotionally than I am currently. My co-workers always ask about my races and travels and I happily show off my bling after a race weekend and talk about my experiences. This camaraderie keeps me going, even when I’m not feeling my traditional spunky self.
More often than I want to admit, the happiness is often clouded by the tremors of frustration and stagnancy, with bolts of sheer anger crashing down, striking whatever is in its path. It is very difficult to remain positive when the rules are constantly changing and the communication is not there. I have been pushing so hard for a management position or something new within the company because of a drowning feeling of stagnancy and under utilization of many more skills that I have, but I get turned down every time I turn around (3 times and counting). Having my intelligence underminded is aggravating and frankly, disappointing; it results in me becoming more resentful of my position, and in turn, more resentful of where I’m working and who I’m working with. These lightning bolts come out of nowhere and make their mark, and I am unfortunately stuck picking up the pieces due to the at split second reaction. It is a huge, “I want to be in the room where it happens.” scenario, and it just doesn’t happen.
(I’ve taken a liking to Aaron Burr’s character from “Hamilton” in recent months, trying to, “Talk less, smile more,” “Wait for It,” with regard to moving up, getting angry when it doesn’t happen, and causing destruction along the way.)
Trying to get a handle on my financial situation has been a huge issue and one of the primary reasons why I’m becoming very acrimonious in continuing my journey in D.C. I barely make enough to survive, even with two raises. I live outside of the city, and commute in via Metro and driving to the Metro. Between rent and Metro, there goes half my monthly pay. I deliberately do not travel into the city on weekends, because that’s more Metro money. Once in awhile I will, if I get to pet sit, if there’s a race, or there’s something I truly want to do. Most of the time I stay inside, away from people, sipping my coffee and writing (like I am right now). I know things would be a lot better if I had more to work with, but living in D.C. and most of the surrounding places in Virginia are very expensive. I shake my head at most of the rental prices, thinking, “Who the hell makes that much?!” Oh wait…CEOs and politicans. Never mind.
(With regard to my traveling a lot, read the statement up a couple of paragraphs. I plan and save, and bank time off. We have a great PTO plan, and I take advantage of that.)
I have not gone out of my way to actually hang out in the city often after my work day is done. This past Tuesday was the first time in a very long time that I went and did something remotely fun, and I actually enjoyed it! It was a rare break for me, and I look back and still can’t believe that, “Hey, you stayed out super late and actually had fun doing it!” Maybe there will be more nights like that in the future. I don’t have an aversion to the concept of hanging out after work…I don’t need to.
I am very over the crowds and noise. I feel like I’m in a constant state of stress due to claustrophobia. Tourist season makes it worse. I find my solace in late night walks around the mall, when there is hardly anyone outside. Being trapped on the Metro is the worst; I am a “first car in the train” type woman because it is typically less crowded than the rest. With the “Safe Track” that WMATA has implemented in the past ten months or so, hours have been cut and transportation not as reliable. I now have to revolve anything around that midnight closing time, and often, it’s such an inconvenience, I forget about hanging out in the city (even if I truly want to) and just go home. I finally went back to my hometown a couple months ago, and those few days of quiet were so refreshing. No horns, no chatter, no sirens…just quiet bliss. I guess I’m more of a country girl that previously thought.
My final thoughts are: I really do not see myself staying in this area for another year, and if I do, something incredible must have happened. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a relatively decent experience, but being priced out and not making enough to reflect my level of education and experience is a serious damper on my being able to legitimately stay here. I love my company, and I love most of the people I work with…but those financials…I cannot stop crunching numbers and stressing out over how to make it all work. My student loans are on hiatus because I don’t make enough, and I’m planning on scaling back my running for the next several months in an attempt to build a nest egg. (This means no races after my 10K tomorrow until maybe September, and of course, Chicago and MCM in October. Shocker, right?) I do have to say that I am incredibly proud of myself for being disciplined in the needs vs. wants categories due to crunching those numbers. Rent and Metro come first, then whatever is left is carefully allotted. Once I start making the numbers work, I know my stress levels will be far less than what they are now. But for now, I remain under the storm of paranoia and fear that I’m almost thirty and still don’t have my life in order.
I am beyond needing to survive. I want to live. But once again, Aaron Burr comes to the rescue…
Life doesn’t discriminate between the sinners and the saints
It takes and it takes and it takes, and we keep living anyway
We rise and we fall and we break and we make our mistakes
And if there’s a reason I’m still alive when so many have died
This past weekend was the 45th running of the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Miler. Known as the “Runner’s Rite of Spring”, it is a widely attended race with national and international competition toeing the line for one of D.C.’s most scenic races. I ended up applying for the lottery and got selected a day after I got in for the Chicago Marathon. I’ve applied for this race in the past and have come up short, so it was a nice change of pace. After being rejected by London and Berlin (and I think something else in there), it’s nice to have a few major races to look forward to!
The weekend started with meeting up with Lauren at the expo on Friday afternoon at the National Building Museum.
With regard to the itinerary above, one concept stood out in my mind: this race has a legitimate time limit: 2:20:00. When the start line closes at 8AM, runners have until 10:20AM to make it, or they would not be counted as official finishers. This gave me my race goal. Since I was in the Purple corral (last corral), we would launch at 7:53am, and I would be running with runners at a 12 to 13 minute per mile pace. Knowing I would have less than an 8-minute buffer between myself and the pace vehicles, this encouraged me to stay steady and hopefully not dawdle like I typically do during races.
I’m working to fix that last part. Promise. 🙂
Lauren and I did some pre-race window shopping, and found that Sparkly Soul was going to be at the expo. They are my go-to headband and I have about twenty of them in my collection. We saw my friend and Sparkly Soul ambassador, Caroline, manning the booth!
I picked up three new headbands and Lauren grabbed one. We poked around the expo a little more before I had to peace out. I then spent Saturday preparing for the race and heading to my cousin’s apartment, which was about a half hour walk from the starting area over by the Washington Monument.
One thing I forgot at home were my Honey Stinger gels. Ever since being introduced to them at the Everglades Half, they’ve been my go-to for fueling. I went to Safeway to see if they carried any, and they didn’t. I bought fruit snacks instead!
I was up at 5:30am and out the door by 6:15am. With my corral launching so much later, I wasn’t in a mad rush to get out the door. This paid off as I read the weather report for the morning and realized it was going to be colder than previously thought: low 40’s with wind. Brrrr. Not having it. I swapped out my shorts for thermal tights and layered a jacket over my shirt, along with throwing on a Marine Corps Marathon end-of-race jacket and a runDisney Mylar blankie.
I started walking over to the starting area and the sun slowly coming up. I reached the area around 6:45am and walked around for a moment, getting a feel for where everything was at.
I continued walking about and noticed two very familiar women taking selfies by the cherry blossom trees. I recognized them immediately as Malinda and Leah of Twins Run! I ran over and we all had a big group hug 🙂
We talked for a bit about our upcoming big races (for them: Boston! YAY!), gave me some great insight on how to prepare for Chicago (build a base!), and they chatted about their experiences with the Cherry Blossom races from years’ past. We departed for our corrals after more hugs and good luck wishes.
While hanging out in the last corral, I finally got to meet Heather Mundwiler! We’re both members of Team Shenanigans and have been following each other on social media for awhile. One of my favorite aspects of running is being able to meet those that I have befriended online IRL. Always a great time!
Right after the anthem was sung (by a gentleman who is studying at Westminster choir College…holy voice, Batman!), 7:18 am rolled around and the elite/seeded women were sent off. We stood around what seemed like forever waiting for our corral to launch. The temps were warming up ever so slightly, so I rather reluctantly ditched my space blanket and jacket. (I have a serious problem with being cold. It seems like if the temp is below 70 degrees, I’m freezing.)
7:53 comes and we were off! Woohoo!
With runners needing to submit a proof of time with their lottery entry, it was a true seeding of time. I was in a pack of runners that were literally my speed of 12-13 minutes per mile. My body wanted to run faster, but I couldn’t find a solid stretch of road to do so. I truly felt stuck where I was, even moreso than I am for runDisney events.
Around Mile 2, I got a hello from my old friend Side Stitches. (Seriously, when is this going to end?!) I slowed to a walk on the sidewalk of the Washington Memorial Bridge and stretched out. I kept on going at a more reserved pace for the rest of the race, but damn, it’s frustrating having to deal with those things.
Having started so far back, I was constantly on the lookout for the sweep vehicles. I was coming back up the bridge and saw them coming down in the opposite direction. This put a little pep into my step heading into Mile 3. Around the 5K mark, I noticed that a lot of runners were tripping and falling down; I saw at least three or four bite it around this area. Runners…be mindful of where you’re running and watch for those potholes/each other!
The first half of the race was scenically uneventful, having run the area recently for RnR DC and NAFHALF. I felt no need to take pictures, as the truly scenic parts were coming up during the second half of the race.
My pace around halfway was a 12:30 mile, and I clocked in at 1:02:32. Not too shabby. At least my miles were consistent.
At Mile 5.5 was the Tidal Basin:
THAT was the scene I was looking for. After the cold snap that D.C. endured a couple weeks prior, there was speculation that the blossoms weren’t going to make it. But here they were!
From Mile 6 to Mile 9, we wrapped around Hains Point.
There was also abundant entertainment and cheering:
During the Hains Point portion, I kept a close eye on my Garmin and my phone. I had until 10:20am to cross the finish line to be considered an official finisher. (They’re really strict like that.) I crossed the 9-Mile marker at 1:57:06 (13:01 pace). I knew I had it at this point 🙂
What you don’t see is the last hill I had to ascend at Raul Wallenberg Pl. SW to get to the finish line. Way to make you earn your medal!
I finished in 2:10:05, ten minutes before the cutoff! Woohoo! This medal is absolutely adorable!
I met up with Patrick and Lauren post-race. Lauren found me a discarded space blanket (she’s honestly the Queen of the Space Blankets, as Chris calls it), and we sat around, took some pictures, then trekked to Shake Shack at Union Station for celebratory burgers and fries.
Christina’s Post-Race Thoughts:
This race was incredibly well-organized…all the way up ’til post-race. After crossing the finish line, I walked through the finisher’s chute, which stretched the length of 15th St. NW. There was nothing in this chute: no one handing out medals, no water, no space blankets, no nothing. You had to cross back over onto Washington Monument grounds and find the appropriate tent for medals. En route, there were tables with water, bananas, and Nature’s Valley crunchy bars. Umm…yay post-race recovery?
I did, however, appreciate that there was a hoarde of volunteers checking and rechecking bibs to ensure those that ordered medals got their medals. Thank you, UnderArmour, for manning the medal tent!
Right after I got my medal and snackies, I found Lauren and Patrick. We started walking away from Runner’s Village and tents were already being taken down and things being put away. Wow. Glad I didn’t finish any later!
All in all, this was a solid race. The weather was great (unlike past years, from what I’ve heard/read about), the course support was decent, and the medal is super cute. The course itself is flat and fast (with the exception of that last hill), and with an elevation change of only 31 feet. I would do this race again, but only after I could secure a faster POT.
Next up: my last race of the winter/spring season: Clyde’s 10K!