My Parting Letter to Washington D.C.

Dear Washington D.C.,

You pulled me in with your siren song three years ago. I will never forget stepping out of the National Archives metro station and basking in the grandeur of the Archives staring right back at me. It was spring 2014, and I had no idea that my journey to live in one of the most bustling cities in the world would begin right then.

I would be back, more often than I thought. Marine Corps Marathon, pet sitting, Marine Corps Marathon again, more pet sitting, Rock ‘n’ Roll DC 5K. I was lucky to only have been five or six hours away in Pennsylvania, because I could easily make your trip in one shot.

I finally made the move in 2016. I got a job (surprisingly, since apparently Higher Education didn’t—and still doesn’t—want me in their ranks), packed up my stuff, and traded the sleepy little hometown I grew up in for the lights and noise of the nation’s capital.

At first, I was like a kid in a candy store. So many places to explore (and revisit), so many things to see, so many things to EAT! With the distractions of the pretty things, there was also the issue of moving to a new residence, navigating the Metro, and figuring out my new job.

Soon the luster was gone, and reality kicked in. My presence from your city streets diminished as weekends were spent number crunching, as my current wage wasn’t cutting it. I spent those days in blissful silence, away from the district, only to be hit with a blow on Sunday evening that screamed, “Work week starts tomorrow! Welcome back to Hell!” and accompanied by crowds, screeching train brakes, car horns, and sirens. And, of course, the occasional rainstorm that greeted me the moment I emerged from the underground chasm of death known as the Metro. (Safetrack? Don’t even get me started.)

I do have to thank you for not killing me on your semi-unreliable transit system whose temperament reflected that of a hangry, tired toddler on an almost daily basis. I was only offloaded once in my fifteen-month tenure, and living on the Green/Yellow lines felt like a luxury. Also, thanks for the twice daily rush hour entertainment via Twitter. #wmata for the win.

As the seasons turned, my attitude toward you also did. Going into battle twice a day, five days a week against the city elements wore me out faster than I thought. I was trapped in this vortex of constant noise, noise that I wasn’t used to. I though that I could adapt and conquer, but I became more introverted and miserable. My annoyances aggrandized: Why were there so many people? Why were the trains never reliable? Why does it take an hour to drive nine miles? Where the hell did these tourists come from? Why are things so goddamn expensive?!

Oh, let’s talk about your pricing for a moment. I’m not sure who you’re kidding, D.C., but the average person cannot afford you. I don’t care how shiny the labels are advertising for locally-sourced, organic, gluten free, carb-free, blah blah food…you’re still charging $15 for a slice of “artisinal” bread. Who the hell are you? There’s a reason why Whole Foods is called Whole Paycheck around here. Honestly, your pricing me out is the number two reason why I’m leaving you. I feel like I didn’t get the full city experience because I couldn’t afford to do most things in your presence. Any time I did try to indulge in something like a “normal” resident would, my wallet was not happy and I would hold my breath ’til next payday, hoping to make it. Granted, I had many friends who offered to pay my way because they understood my financial woes, and I definitely appreciated the help. But financial anxiety is not worth nights of endless worrying, stomachaches, and tears, trust me.

A note for those who are considering moving here: if you’re not banking a $50K starting salary, don’t bother coming here. Seriously. DC is one of the most overpriced cities ever. It’s not quite as bad as Silicon Valley, but it’s up there. Apartments in relatively safe areas start around $1900/month, for maybe 600 sq/ft. The closer you get to the center, the more expensive it’s gonna be. I was fortunate to be just beyond city lines in Maryland, but when rent and the Metro were added together, that was half my paycheck. Going out after work? Ehhhhh. Hand-crafted cocktails start around $12 each (on average, about $15), same with appetizers. And brunch is still a phenomenon that I haven’t wrapped my head around. I mean, I did brunch a couple times with my cousins, but that was it. No big group outings or brunch parties or anything. Bottomless mimosas seem to be the cocaine of Saturday and Sunday morning brunch-goers, and I found by working in hospitality that if your establishment doesn’t offer them, you get ripped a new one. (Trust me on this…when I got questions about whether we were “bottomless” or not, and I said no, whoever was on the other end of the line would get so pissy. Newsflash: It’s not the end of the freakin’ world. If you’re so concerned about your precious mimosas, then buy the damn champagne and orange juice yourself. It’ll probably be cheaper.)

 

 

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Mmmm…waffles.

 

I guess I have to thank you for exposing me to a whole new variety of people, culturally and otherwise. The cultural aspect was definitely a shock sometimes, but it just goes along with your melting pot atmosphere. But upon observation, I noticed your typical city dwellers (“Washingtonians”) would fall into one of four categories: sincerely sweet (the rarest), utterly stupid, total snobs, or smart (arrogant or legitimately smart, mind you). The middle two (most common) were the reason why I didn’t go out of my way to make friends. All conversations seem to revolve around careers and politics. Snoozefest. If you don’t work the “right” job, or do anything “right”, you were promptly judged and smushed into the pavement. I knew was an outsider. I tried to fit in, but knew I failed that miserably. Thanks for increasing my awkwardness and reassuring that I was no city slicker.

Even though there was a lot of negativity surrounding my experience, there was some positivity that shone through, and not just through your brilliant sunsets. You are full of hidden treasures, whether it’s a cafe tucked away or a new eatery that’s not a chain; little-known historic sites or a back way to walk to the waterfront. Duck watching at the Lincoln Memorial became a weekly engagement, and people watching even more often. I could enter the Library of Congress and be surrounded by the most brilliant minds in history; it was the one place where I could go and feel intelligent, and be enveloped with that same energy. Walking in silence among the tombstones and untold stories at Arlington National Cemetery gave me a new sense of respect and appreciation for our young nation. Taking part of your race traditions during Rock n Roll DC, Marine Corps Marathon, and Cherry Blossom 10 Miler weekends showed me what DC truly has to offer by way of community and support. Sometimes all you need are a few good races to bring out the good in almost everyone you encounter. You are full of stories and history, and that’s one of your best attributes.

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My love/hate relationship with you will continue to linger far beyond the city limits. When I travel to Florida tomorrow to begin the next chapter, your lessons, both good and bad, will follow me there, as they have shaped me into the person I have become today. I may still be awkward and introverted and hate excess noise and unreliable transportation, but you also taught me how to fight for my career, to never settle or stand for mediocrity, to dig a little deeper for excellence, to keep your friends close and your enemies far, far away…and that there is better coffee out there than Starbucks.

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So to you, Washington D.C., I thank you. I will return in due time.

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The Weekly Review

Happy Memorial Day weekend, friends! I hope you’re having a wonderful time kicking off the prelude to summertime and being with friends and family, and remembering those who have passed on defending and fighting for our freedom.

I realized that I haven’t done a proper Weekly Review in about two weeks. For those that are avid readers and/or followers on the socials, you know that I am officially in the Land of Funemployment. My last day was this past Tuesday, and I have been biding my time by relaxing and unwinding. I have officially started my job hunt, and my first application was submitted two days ago (woot woot!).

There’s been some cool things that have happened, so without further ado…


1.Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

The final installment of the POTC series released on Friday, and naturally retail stores have been promoting the movie through products. I stumbled across these adorable makeup pallets by Lorac at Kohl’s. The collection includes the eyeshadows, a cheek pallet, and lip products. (All sold separately.)

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Disney Store (of course!) has official Disney products on their website. This compact mirror is very sleek and my favorite out of the collection.

2. Alex and Ani braceletse73acdf4-13ea-444c-ad1a-6395e726e4f6

I have debated about investing in the Alex and Ani Disney collection. The Merida bracelet is one of the newest, but I resonate with the Ariel bracelet even moreso given my current stage in life. AHHHH decisions! Regardless, these four are gorgeous, and a must have for any diehard A&A collector!

3. Springtime Weddings!

I had the privilege of attending a wedding of one of my hospitality colleagues yesterday. As with any fancy event, I had to do something with my long hair other than have it up in a sporty bun or down and boring. Enter: curling wand. It takes me a solid half hour or more to curl all the way around, and additional time for touchups. This flex hold hairspray from Drybar kept the curls together all night through the ceremony and the dancing!

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Dress: Merona. Found it in a Clothes Mentor in Erie back in the day!
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Gorgeous set of pipes!
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Reception at Clyde’s at Willow Creek Farm
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TARDIS groom’s cake!
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Table #6! Me, Anna, Kyle, and Christine.

4. Powered By Bits

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I’ve been a consumer of EnergyBits for several years, even before they made their appearance on Shark Tank. I became an ambassador for the company back in 2015. With impending training looming on the horizon for Chicago and Marine Corps Marathons, it’s time to get my health into tip top shape! Read up on the benefits of spirulina algae here, and if you’d like a discount code for your next bag of bits, “rundisneybelle” will get you 20% off!

5. Nikita Sitting!

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As a side hustle, I am a pet/house sitter. More often, I sit for my cousin as she and her husband are out and about on adventures. Every now and again I get to sit for this adorable kitty, Nikita, while her owners are on adventures. I’m back down in the DC area for the next week, and I consider these gigs like a retreat of sorts: gives me time to relax, refocus, get work done, etc. I feel far too complacent and lazy at my home base. Hopefully this week will yield to high productivity, on both professional and personal levels.


Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!!

 

See You in February! 


Heading back to Disney in February for my sixth Princess Half Marathon weekend! I’ll be running my fifth Glass Slipper/Fairy Tale Challenge, which means Legacy status! Woot woot! 💖🙌🏻

This year, there was speculation that the race weekend would either sell out in five seconds or five months. Turns out, the 10k and challenge sold out within about an hour or so. The Kids races and 5k sold out the next day, and the half still remains. 

Any time an anniversary weekend rolls around, the hype is amplified. Runners everywhere still want to know what princess will headline the weekend. I’m calling it now: it will be an all-princess weekend. The fifth-year back in 2013 was like that, along with a redesign of the medal. Lots of pink and glitter and celebrating the love of running. 

Looking forward to connecting with you all as we train over the next several months! 💖✨🎀

The Weekly Review

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.

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Clyde’s of Columbia, right along the lakefront.

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…

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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.

 

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This was not coordinated! Promise!

 

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.

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Afterparty!!

 

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Thank you, Clyde’s!

 

2. Medal Monday

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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:

  • One marathon
  • Three half marathons (including the unofficial WDW Half)
  • Two runDisney challenges
  • Two 10Ks
  • One ten-miler

3. Tulips on Tulips

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Tulips are one of my absolute favorite flowers, and DC has been blooming with them!

4. Chicago Marathon Training Plan

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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!

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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.!

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2017 Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Recap

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.

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Course map. Only 31 feet of elevation change! Woohoo!
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The race directors have timing down to a T. Literally.

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. 🙂

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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!

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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!


Race Day….

 

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Flat Christina!…until I found out how cold it was going to be….

 

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.

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Hair game strong, with bows and Sparkly Soul!

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.

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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 🙂

 

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And, of course, a selfie! Photo cred: Malinda.

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.

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Purple corral!

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!

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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:

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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.

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There was also abundant entertainment and cheering:

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Go saxophones!

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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 🙂

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Last big corner!

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!

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I finished in 2:10:05, ten minutes before the cutoff! Woohoo! This medal is absolutely adorable!

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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!

The Weekly Review

Going to try something new here in the form of a Weekly Review. (Named as such until I can think of something cooler. Maybe I’ll bring back the runDisneyBelle Review…better alliteration…)

Thoughts on the Week:

-2017 is flying by way too fast. I cannot believe that TOMORROW IS APRIL 1ST. Just…wow. Where has this year gone?! I feel like I turn around and lo and behold, it’s Friday. (and this is after thinking that every day of the week is Thursday.)

 

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DC is blooming! Caught these tulips in Lafayette Park.

 

-I’m closing in on my one-year anniversary here in Washington D.C. on Monday (woooo). I’ve never been able to say that I’ve been with a company for an entire year, since I’ve spent most of my 20’s in university (that equates to semester assistantships/jobs or something seasonal in the retail/restaurant industry). I’m mentally preparing a more in-depth retrospect of my past year for Monday, so stay tuned.

 

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Meanwhile, in running land…

 

Welcome to Marine Corps Marathon Lottery Week! This is a pretty suspenseful week as marathon hopefuls put their names into the abyss in hopes that they get picked to run The People’s Marathon (also known as The Marathon of the Monuments). Above is my “The waiting game sucks. Let’s play Hungry Hungry Hippos!” face.

So I waited and waited some more. Thursday was MCM Notification Day (aka “Break Your Refresh Key Day)…

And there was celebration! I am SO happy to have been picked for the 42nd MCM, and for good reason: it was my first marathon. And it was also the marathon where I got my first DNF in 2015. It is going to mean SO much to exact revenge on the course that did me in. Must do. Can do. Will do.

 

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It is also Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Miler weekend!! Also known as the Runner’s Rite of Spring, the CUCB 10M draws runners from national and international fields, with large prize pools and fast times. The CUCB course, which will take place in D.C. around the Tidal Basin, Rock Creek Park, and Hains Point, is super flat with an elevation change of only 31 feet at most, so there will be exciting racing within the elite field. There will also be a 5K run/walk after the 10 Milers have taken off. There will be roughly 16,000 participants (almost like a runDisney race!), and hopefully the remaining blossoms haven’t fallen off the trees yet. Temperatures are projected to be in the low to mid 40’s on race morning with sunshine (which is like a heat wave compared to Rock ‘n’ Roll DC a few weeks ago), so we should be good to go!


 

Congrats to the MCM Class of 2017! Let’s get out there and rock it! And good luck to everyone racing this weekend!

Anything notable happen to you this week?