Thursday, May 24, 2012

Can we still be friends?

When I first started this blog, I thought long and hard about what to title this new venture (can't you tell?).  I was really torn between "Go 'Ama, Run!" and "Run 'Ama, Run!"  Obviously, I went with the former, though I'm not really sure why.

Rewind a couple years:

As soon-to-be new parents two years ago, we sometimes scoured the internet for the world's cutest baby clothes.  DJ Research, in all his search-guru wisdom (read: hours upon hours on imgur), found this super cute baby graphic:

Dinosaur-in-trainig.  RAR.
 (via Rainbow Swirlz)


Back to the Present:

Incidentally, this is also the response Nugget gives when you ask him, "What sound does a tiger make?"  At first he was very timid with his response.  "RAR?" he would ask, with his wide eyes.  His response is now punctuated with an exclamation point (or seven) but I still love the way he doesn't ROAR, he RAR!!!!s.

Why I didn't put this together in the first place, I'll never know.  But "Run 'Ama, Run!" has the acronym RAR!, and RAR! has a special place in my heart.  Its the sound of dinosaurs-in-training and tigers-in-training, and of this mother-runner-in-training.  

All this to tell you, I've moved.  I can now be found at "Run 'Ama, Run!"  Any subsequent posts to "Go 'Ama, Run!" will direct you to my new address.  I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience.  I don't have many readers yet, and I hate to lose the few that I have.  I hope that we can still be friends.

So please join me at and RAR! with me! (Comments are open!)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Monday, May 21, 2012

Marine Corps Historic Half-Marathon Race Recap

Rockstar weekend is over (which means I'm back to doing the dishes, grrr...), but I'm still happy about my performance at the Marine Corps Historic Half-Marathon this past Sunday in Fredericksburg, VA.  I managed a 1:59:02 finish, which is a 12:58 faster PR than my previous HM finish at the Hershey Half last year (2:12:00).  I think I can run faster, though, and I look forward to training harder and trying for another HM PR in the fall.

As evidenced by previous race recaps, its really easy to blog about every. single. detail. of your race, even though it may be oh-so-tedious for your readers to read (or not read, which is probably the case).  Its also really easy to not want to blog about every. single. detail. of your race, because it is oh-so-tedious to type (or not type, as I was sorely tempted to skip this post).  For the sake of brevity, I'm going to adopt a race recap template (which I stole from Banana BuzzBomb, who stole it from RocTheRun) to highlight certain aspects of the race, so that we can all get on with our lives a good night's sleep.  (Not that detailed race reports aren't awesome.  To be honest, if I had the time and energy, I would probably write a novella about each race.  But me wants to sleep!)


This course was all road.  I thought it would be a mostly flat course, with a whopper of a hill at mile 10.  Turns out, its a fairly hilly course, with a whopper junior of a hill at mile 10.

The Weather:

The day started a bit chilly but comfortable with bright blue skies.  It obviously got hotter as the day went on, but I didn't think it was ever too hot.

Low Points:

I started WAY TOO FAST.  I passed the 5K point in 25:58, an 8:21m/m.  Thats awesome, but way too fast for me.  I knew I needed to dial it back, particularly with all the upcoming hills.  Also, I ran the early downhills strong, but a little too strong.  I was pretty winded between miles 4-6.  By the 15K point, I was running 8:50m/m, which is more my speed.  And then I hit Hospital Hill.  It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, but I did walk a portion of it because I knew there was another hill in mile 11.  I also walked a portion of that hill until I realized this was the last hill and I might as well give it all I got at this point!

High Points:

The spectators.  Fredericksburg really knows how to motivate its runners!  People were lined along almost all 13.1 miles, clapping, cheering, waving, handing out tequila jello shots (at mile 4.  I kid you not).  There were church choirs, school bands, real bands, and even a few quartets, plus a few groups dressed in Civil War-era garb.  But I think my favorite spectators were the kids, who eagerly held out their hands to high-five us as we ran by.  I'm a big advocate of thanking those who came out to cheer us, so I waved and clapped and high-fived back.  So fun!

But I think my greatest motivator (besides DJ Research and Nugget, of course) was the announcer at the finish line.  As I'm nearing the end, I hear the announcer yell over the (ridiculously loud) PA system: "RUNNERS!  IF YOU CAN HEAR ME, YOU HAVE THREE MINUTES TO MAKE IT UNDER 2:00 HOURS!  THREE MINUTES!!  YOU CAN DO IT!"  I had no idea I was so close.  Due to my fuzzy math skills, I thought I had an extra mile to go.  When I realized I was going to make it under 2 hours, tears sprang into my eyes and I started kicking hard.  I wanted to make sure I ABSOLUTELY finished under 2:00.  With 0:58 seconds to spare, I crossed the finish line.  I was so happy, I peed my pants.

PR happy!

The Marine Corps Historic Half-Marathon was fun and festive!  I recommend it as a first time half-marathon (just train for hills) because all the support really pumps you up.  Thank you to all the marines who helped as course marshals and who cheered us on.  And thank you to all the men and women in all branches of the armed forces for your service to our country!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Rockstar Weekend

It was another big, fun weekend for our family unit.  We drove down to Fredericksburg, VA, where I ran the Marine Corps Half-Marathon, and where we all achieved rockstar-status.

  • I got my sub-2 hour half-marathon, by 0:58 seconds.  My goal was sub-2:05, but when I realized I was on-course for a sub-2 hour time, I pushed.  I am super happy with my time, and am allowing myself rockstar-status for the rest of the day.  Which basically means I'm not doing the dishes.
  • Nugget was a rockstar the whole trip.  He ate well, drank well and slept well, although apparently he did need a little pick-me up this morning.  He also showed me proper stretching technique.

Pouding a cup'o'joe (don't worry, its empty).

'Ama, let me show you proper stretching technique.

  • DJ Research was a rockstar trip coordinator, coach, cheerleader and hubby (he's doing laundry as I type!).  As we drove the course the day before the race, he not only advised how to run each uphill and downhill, but also reminded me to run on the flattest portion of the roads (something I would not have thought about).  We also talked about how I would fuel during the race, which was key.  He met me at three different points during the race, and made sure I stretched and hydrated enough post-race.  He was probably the biggest rockstar of the weekend.

It was a great weekend, but I'm exhausted now and want to curl up on the couch with the DJ, have a beer, and watch Unbreakable for the 8th time.  Race recap coming soon.  I just wanted to say: I did it!!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Harper's Ferry Half-Marathon: Post-Race/Enjoying the Weekend

Day one can be found here.
The race as a spectator can be found here.

We enjoyed the post-race festivities for a while as DJ Research stretched/recovered and Nugget ate rocks.

Rocks are high in protein, he told me.
Um, no, I told him.
This is the first time we have ever stuck around for post-race festivities.  Usually the celebration area is too crowded, and we'd rather stretch and reflect on the race without getting run over.  But with this race being on the smaller side, we could have our little corner and still enjoy the festivities.

After we had our fill, we headed into town to find some grub.  Li'l Nugget, who had been such a trooper all morning, fell asleep just as we were pulling into the restaurant parking lot.  So out we pulled and back on the road we went, driving around until Nugget woke up (because a day without naptime is not a fun day for anyone).  We decided to check out nearby Sheperdstown, which is also home to Two Rivers Treads, the exclusively minimalist running shoe store.

Admittedly, a chance to visit to Two Rivers Treads was a big impetus to sign up for this race.  The DJ was really on the fence about it, but I kept whispering in his ear, "C'mon!  It looks beautiful!  Its a trail race!  We can visit Two Rivers Treads!"  I'm not sure if it was the latter that sold him, but it was high on the list for me!

But before we got to this mecca, we stopped at a little cafe for lunch.  We asked for garden seating, and I was a little surprised when the hostess led us to a table for two, when we were clearly a party of and a half.  We quickly realized, though, that a high chair would not work on the rocky garden floor, so Nugget just sat in our laps, and at the end of the meal he commenced his weekend activity guess it...rock-throwing.

The meal was good but not remarkable.  What was remarkable was DJ Research's beer, an amber ale from a local brewery called Mountain State Brewery.  We tried to buy a six-pack from a local wine/beer store, but discovered that the beer is only sold in kegs.  Not that we couldn't drink a whole keg, but the image of driving home with a 1.5-year-old strapped in the backseat and a beer keg strapped to the roof of the car seemed like we were asking for our own reality show.

After lunch we finally made it to Two Rivers Treads. I was hoping to not only find a pair of minimalist shoes, but also learn more about how a shoe should fit.  At my local running store a few weeks ago, I was told that shoes should fit like a glove.  And thats what I've heard all my life.  But at Two Rivers Treads I was told differently.

My shoe size is normally 9.5, so I tried on a pair of the Innov-8 230s in that size.  Too small.  My toes were practically touching the front of the shoe.  So I tried on a size 10.  I thought they fit well; my toes weren't scrunched against the top or sides of the shoe.  But the sales rep said they were still too small--particularly too narrow--and encouraged me to try a 10.5.  He said that when you walk/run, your foot expands as you make contact with the ground, so you want a shoe that will give your foot this freedom.  Also, as I run in minimalist shoes, my foot will flatten, causing my toes to splay out naturally, AND my foot will thicken because my muscles will be getting stronger.  I want a running shoe that will accommodate these changes.  

Thickened feet. (via NRC)
 Here's a great article on proper shoe fit.

So I tried the Innov-8 230s in a 10.5.  The felt wide in the toe-box, but not uncomfortably so.  I ran a bit on the store's treadmill and my feet felt great.  The added width did not effect my gait at all.  I also tried on a Merrell shoe (can't remember which, but it didn't fit and they didn't have the next size up) and the Saucony Kinvara 2 & 3.  I love the look of the Sauconys, but the sales rep admitted that they are only minimalist shoes in the sense that they have a 4mm drop (the differential between the heel and the toe is only 4 mm).  Otherwise they have a lot of cushioning, so you can't really feel the ground.  They are a good transition shoe, and I might purchase them for long runs and use my Innov-8s for short runs as I get stronger as a runner (the Innov-8 230s have a 6mm drop, but very little cushioning, so you can really feel the ground.  In fact, I find heel striking in them while walking gets uncomfortable after a while).

Saucony Kinvaras (source)
You need shades to wear these!

I bought the Innov-8s as my Mother's Day gift for myself. I haven't run in them yet, though, so I'll let you know how that goes.

We spent the rest of the day exploring Harper's Ferry. It's a cute town. I look forward to returning.

All in all a great weekend!


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Harper's Ferry Half Marathon Race Recap: A Spectator's Perspective

Day one of our weekend can be found here.

When Nugget and I joined DJ Research at the start area, the first thing I noticed were the other runners.  "Wow, these people are fit!" I told the DJ.  He admitted he has been checking out their legs to see who might be strong on the hills (it was a very hilly course) and noticed that just about everyone had nice legs.  What a weird thing to be scouting.  He's so weird. :)

As we were having this conversation, guess who pulled into the parking lot?  Dr. Mark Cucuzella!  Dr. Mark is a guru on barefoot/minimalist running, and the guru behind the super informative website Natural Running Center.  Check out his video on barefoot running and running form:

We've listened to Dr. Mark on Trail Runner Nation podcast, and the guy is just a wealth of knowledge.  He also owns a running shoe store called Two River Treads that is an exclusively minimalist running store (we stopped by later that day, but more on that later).  So this was a total celebrity sighting for us!

Dr. Mark was not only the race director for this race (Two River Treads was a sponsor), he was also running the race.  Er...correction...he was also leading the runners during the race.  He was at the front of the pack with two other runners the whole race.  And when I say front of the pack, I mean waaaaaaaay ahead of everybody else.  I got a pic of him heading out to the start line:

I only follow celebrities with good running form.

Like I mentioned in my previous post, this race was very low key.  There was a little confusion as to when the race was starting and where the start line was, but soon a guy with a fog horn led everyone down the street to a long piece of duct tape across the road--aka the start line--and it was all sorted out.  The fog horn blew and they were off!

Not a very good pic, but there they go!
DJ Research started at the back of the pack (BOP).

This race was pretty awesome for spectators.  The first three miles are an out and back through what we later discovered were Civil War battlefields.  Then the runners head into the town of HarperĘ»s Ferry before turning around in the middle of town and heading back to the finish line (also at River Riders).  So there were more opportunities to see your favorite runner than most races, a perk I definitely appreciated.

Nugget and I hung out at the start line waiting for the runners to pass through on their way into town.  There was a lot of rock throwing (which is not really throwing but more rock-leaving-hand-falling-straight-down-to-ground.  He is not yet two, after all).  And lots of banging on stone walls.  And some running down short hills (future mountain runner maybe?  Oh wait, that would be running uphill).  And then the runners came back through.  Nugget enjoyed clapping for the runners, mostly because he really loves to clap.

Cheering the runners! Clapping is fun!

When DJ Research came through he was now in the middle of the pack (MOP) and would stay towards the front of MOP for the rest of the race.  He was smiling and looking great!  We cheered him on as he tackled his first big hill of the race.

First of many crazy hills.

We then headed into town to catch the DJ at the turnaround.  At the suggestion of one of the volunteers (everyone was so nice!), we parked at the 7-11 in front of which the turnaround was positioned.  The leaders arrived just as I was getting Nugget into his stroller.  We made ourselves comfortable and cheered for the runners as they made their way to the midpoint. 

Cheering and catching up on some reading.

One of the things that I loved about this race was that the roads were not closed.  About 3 miles of the race was in town, so runners were racing alongside--or more usually in front of--vehicles for a little less than a quarter of the race.  Volunteers were positioned around the course to direct traffic and ensure no one--runners or drivers--got injured.  There were also a lot of turn-offs were drivers could take another route.  Really gave the race a small town feel: it was just another day in Harper's Ferry.  I thought that was really awesome.

Cars and runners co-existing in
 harmony on the road.

Nugget's energy was beginning to wane, so we headed back to River Riders and hung out in the car for a while, listening to music and enjoying some snacks.  After about 20 minutes, Nugget was ready to romp around again, so we walked to the finish area, thinking that we had about 10-15 more minutes before DJ Research came running in.  As we're walking up the hill, I notice someone who looks and runs almost exactly like my husband.  Wait, a minute!  IT IS MY HUSBAND!  DJ Research came blazing into the finish line, finishing 15th in his age group and 33rd overall.  Holy smokes!  When did he get so fast?!

I've asked the DJ to write a guest post about his race, so that race recap will be right around the corner.  Right, Hun?

We enjoyed the post-race festivities, including pizza, oranges and live music.  And unlimited rock throwing (that might not have been an official post-race activity, but Nugget was sure into it).

Monday, May 14, 2012

Harper's Ferry Half-Marathon Weekend, Day One

Our little family unit spent this past weekend in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia where DJ Research ran the Harper's Ferry Half-Marathon.  So much to cover that I'm going to make this a three-post series.  Yup, this is a fancy-schmancy blog!

Even though I didn't run this weekend, I thought the race was awesome, awesome, awesome.  In fact, the whole weekend was awesome, awesome, awesome.  DJ Research and I both agreed that the weekend felt like a much-needed vacation.

We departed for Harper's Ferry right after work on Friday, and got caught in the usual Friday rush-hour traffic.  It wasn't too bad--we've definitely been stuck in worse--but it did add about 45 minutes to our drive.  I thought Nugget was just a little whiny; DJ Research thought Nugget was VERY whiny, probably because the DJ is not versed in toddler car-ride etiquette due to the fact that his commute is toddler-free.  Regardless, we arrived in Harper's Ferry in just under two hours, and made our way to River Riders for packet pick-up.

As we would discover, the race was really low key (frankly, this is one of the reasons why I loved the race).  The packet consisted of race bib and a white technical Harper's Ferry Half-Marathon shirt.  We've run races before where we've received a bag full of goodies and even a race hoodie, so by comparison the HFHM packet is a little lite.  But this race isn't about the swag, its about the race.  And I thought it was pretty awesome that the race shirt was a tech shirt.

At this point it was pushing 7:00pm, and we were all pretty hungry.  Nugget was sick of his car seat.  So we opted to have dinner at a nearby mexican restaurant.  Turns out Nugget isn't a big fan of mexican food (I hope he changes his mind because its one of my favorite cuisines!).  He is, however, a huge fan of sugar packets, dumping salt on the table, and dunking his hand in tall cups of ice water.  Luckily, I had packed pasta his lunchbox, so he ate that for dinner while DJ Research had a fajita and I had my chicken chimichanga.  Heaven.

One of the perks of not racing:
you can eat whatever you want!

We then checked in to our swanky motel.  I thought I was smart in booking a room with two double beds so that we could use one bed to stage our stuff/DJ Research's race gear and one bed to sleep in (obviously).  Nugget would be in his pack'n'play right alongside our bed.  At least that was the plan.  DJ Research and I unpacked and started getting ready for bed while Nugget did laps around the room, pushing the luggage rack and wearing my visor.  It was pushing 9:30 at this point, waaaaay past his bedtime.  You would think the kid would be tired.  Nope.

Nugget on lap 5(?) around the motel room.

Finally, lights out and Nugget is asleep by 10:30pm.

At 1:30am, he woke up screaming.

Although we were able to calm him down enough to stop screaming, he was very nervous and uncomfortable in the unfamiliar environment of the motel room.  He kept pointing at the door and saying, "I'm done! I'm done!" indicating that he wanted to go home.  I tried to console him myself so that DJ Research could get some sleep for his race, but it became clear that Nugget wanted the both of us, thrusting himself into the arms of the other at his whim.  Eventually the offer of cuddling on our bed with some of his favorite books enticed him to relax and allowed us to finally sit down (Nugget insisted that we pace the room while holding him).  Around 3:30 Nugget finally drifted off to sleep...smack in the middle of our double bed.  For the next two-and-a-half hours, DJ Research and I teetered on the edge of our respective sides of the bed...and on the brink of dreamland.  

Despite the rough night, the DJ said he felt surprisingly energetic the next morning.  I felt pretty good myself.  Nugget awoke just as I was about to pick him up, so we whisked him into the car and headed back to River Riders, where the race would start and finish.  Once there, Nugget and I enjoyed breakfast in the car, and I performed the first of many backseat diaper changes.  We then joined DJ Research near the starting line, where he was warming up for his race.

Next post: Race Recap, a Spectator's Perspective