Recap of the Bottle & Cork Ten-Miler

I came to Dewey Beach last weekend with one goal — win my age group in the Bottle & Cork Ten-Miler. I’d run this race twice before, and came in second place in my age group both times.

I’m proud to say that I accomplished my mission! I had the perfect race. Plus, it was a great way for me to pre-game for the Rehoboth Marathon!

This race, in its 41st year in Dewey Beach, Delaware, is part of the Dewey Beach Ten Sisters Road Race series. It’s an extremely flat course, but it’s often quite hot the day of the race. When I ran the race in 2014, it was 90 degrees and humid and I finished in 1:24 — not bad at all considering it felt like I was running on the face of the sun.

This year? 1:13:27 — a full two minutes faster than my A10 time two weeks ago. With an average 7:21 pace, it was a PR in a huge way.

And look, I love hot weather, but I don’t necessarily love running in it. Saturday’s temperatures in the 60s, with no humidity, were just right.

As I mentioned, the course, which begins right in the heart of Dewey, is almost entirely flat. Runners start by running down Coastal Highway into neighboring Rehoboth Beach. After running miles 2-5 through Rehoboth and Henlopen Acres, where there are a few small rolling hills, runners get on the Rehoboth Boardwalk. The boardwalk is exactly a mile long, and while it’s one of my favorite places to hang out when I’m on vacation at the beach, it’s honestly the worst part of this race! The sun is beating down on you the whole time, and you’re weaving around people who are out for their morning stroll. I’m glad it’s only a mile.

Then runners exit the boardwalk, run around Silver Lake (one of the prettiest parts of Rehoboth!) and through the neighborhoods around the lake, then head back toward Dewey. You spend the last two miles of the race running around the residential part of Dewey before getting to the finish line on the Rehoboth Bay.

I remember looking down at my Garmin and seeing that I’d run eight miles in just under and hour, and it was then that I knew I was going to PR. Just before I turned the corner to run past the Bottle & Cork and down to the finish line, I saw two friends waiting on the sidelines calling my name. I was dead tired, but knew I couldn’t slow down then! I high-fived them, screamed “I’M GONNA PR!” and sprinted to the finish.

I had a strong feeling I came in first in my age group, and I was so happy that I did! I got a finisher’s medal, and a beer stein for the first place finish. For my previous second place finishes, I’d received a wine glass and another beer stein, so I’m building up quite the collection of Bottle & Cork drinkware. (I put it to good use, trust me.)

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The race also coincides with an annual girls trip, so I was in Dewey with a big group of women. Let’s just say I celebrated heartily after my victory, and leave it at that! 😉

The Delaware shore is one of my very favorite places in the world, and it’s such a pleasure to race there. I cannot wait until the Rehoboth Marathon! 79 days to go!

Speed work makes the dream work

…. or something like that.

As I mentioned before, I’m following Hal Higdon’s Advanced 2 marathon training plan as I prepare for the Rehoboth Marathon. It’s far more challenging than the plan I’ve followed previously, incorporating hill repeats, speed workouts and a total of three 20-mile long runs leading up to the race. (My old plan had me running one 20-miler before the taper.) But let’s talk about those speed workouts.

This is my first time doing Yasso 800s, which are supposed to be a way to predict your marathon finishing time. They’re named for Bart Yasso, longtime race services manager at Runner’s World magazine and a seasoned marathoner and ultramarathoner. (I’m reading his book now — review to come!)

Basically, Yasso realized that he could gauge his marathon time based on how long it took him to run 800 meters, or a half-mile. If you can run, say, 800 meters (two laps around your typical high school track) in four minutes, you will likely bang out a four-hour marathon. Training to run a 3:30 marathon? Then run your Yasso 800s in three minutes and 30 seconds. You get the idea. Here’s the whole history of Yasso 800s and how Bart came up with the concept.

With the plan I am following, I’m running my 800s every third week. I started with four repeats three weeks ago and will progress up to eight repeats. In between each 800-meter sprint, I jog for 400 meters to recover. I’ve been shooting for 800s in 3:35. My Boston qualifying standard is 3:40, but I’m trying to give myself a solid cushion, so a 3:35 marathon is my ultimate goal! It means I need to knock seven minutes off my marathon time– definitely not impossible.

I’m not going to lie — speed work is not my favorite thing to do. In fact, I think it kind of blows. So I’m hoping this is as effective as the pros say! Three weeks ago, I went to the track at the local high school and ran my 800s as the football team practiced in the background. Tonight, it was pouring, so I ran my five repeats on the treadmill. Works just as well.

Not everyone believes in the total accuracy of the Yasso 800s — this article notes there’s no scientific data to back up its legitimacy as a time predictor. So we’ll see! Regardless, it’s certainly challenging my body and helping me to mix up my training.

The 2017 Glow Run 5K was lit

Running in the dark is not something I do a lot of. I tend to run alone, and I don’t feel comfortable doing that after dusk. Plus, I have been known to trip and fall while running, and it’s easy to do that when it’s harder to see where you’re going!

Rip It Events‘ 2nd annual Glow Run 5K, however, offered the perfect opportunity to run the streets of Columbia, Maryland at night — complete with glow-in-the-dark necklaces and neon swag.

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I ran the Glow Run last year, before I was a Rip It ambassador, and I loved everything about it. I mean, it was right up my alley.

Excuse to wear the brightest workout gear possible? Check.

Free glow necklaces? Check.

Dance party before the race with songs including the Cha Cha Slide, the Wobble and the Cupid Shuffle? Check.

Also, the race is untimed, so it truly is a fun run. That said, my friends and I are competitive and even though a few of us *said* we were going to take it easy, we didn’t.

I was the first female finisher in the race for the second year in a row. My friends Kree and Mindy were the second and third female finishers, respectively. My friend Matt won the race. We didn’t get anything for our achievements, just bragging rights. (Shout out to 5 Peaks Martial Arts Academy, the school Matt owns and where we all train, for getting us in such good shape. #5PeaksLife)

Can I please brag about my splits for a second? I ran the first mile in 8:05, the second in 7:40 and the third in 6:56. Super proud of those negative splits!

Truly, though, the point of this 5K was to have fun, and we did, despite the cold, rainy weather. One of the best parts is seeing what everyone wears for this race. Runners get really into it — I saw glow-in-the-dark tutus, lots of light up shoes and jewelry and even someone dressed in a neon unicorn costume. (I’ve really got to step up my game for next year!)

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Yes, my husband wore flannel to a glow run.

One of the things I enjoy most about Rip It races — and races in general — is the camaraderie. As the race neared its end and the last runners came through the finisher’s chute, crowds of runners lined up on either side of the chute to give out high fives and cheer everyone on. So fun!

Rip It has two more races on the calendar to finish out the year — the Bridesmaids 5K on Oct. 14, and the Columbia Turkey Chase 10K and Relay on Nov. 19. Interested in running these races? Contact me for your 10 percent discount code!

As a Rip It Events ambassador, I ran this race for free. Opinions are entirely my own! 

Hill yes!

I’m no stranger to running up hills.

Annapolis, where I do almost all of my training, is hillier than one might think (the A10 is often described as a challenging race partly because of all the rolling hills.) Most of the hills here aren’t super long or super steep, but they are definitely there.

That said, I’ve never done any dedicated hill training before now, as I work to BQ at the Rehoboth Marathon on Dec. 2.

I missed a BQ by two minutes and 15 seconds when I ran the Charlottesville Marathon in April (talk about hills.) To be honest, I thought it would be cool to run a BQ time — for me, that’s three hours, 40 minutes — but I wasn’t intentionally training for one. After I came so close, I thought, well, if I really push myself next time, maybe I can do it!

Enter Hal Higdon’s Advanced 2 marathon training schedule, which includes hill repeats every third week. The plan starts with three hill repeats, and progresses all the way up to seven hill repeats. They’re relatively short runs, but they will get your heart pumping and your legs aching.

I’ve been doing my hill repeats on the Naval Academy Bridge, which is one of my favorite places to run in Annapolis.

Why is it one of my favorite places? I mean, look at this:

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That was the view from the bridge at sunset the other night.

It was just the best reward after four rounds of hill repeats.

The Naval Academy Bridge is a solid choice for the hill workouts, too, because you can run up one side, catch your breath at the top, take in the pretty view, jog down the other side, then run back up. It’s perfect!

The Rehoboth Marathon is a flat course, so I’m hoping that a solid foundation in hill training will give me an advantage in my quest to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Do you do hill training as part of your workouts? What advice do you have for me?

The Annapolis Ten Mile Run: My favorite race of the year

It’s fitting that I kick off this blog by talking about the Annapolis Ten Mile Run, which I ran for the fifth time on Sunday.

The A10 is the first major race I ever did, and I believe it’s what made me a marathoner.
Back when I signed up for my first A10, on a whim, in 2013, I was a loyal gym-goer and a regular treadmill runner who was a little intimidated by the idea of running in a race with thousands of other runners. What if I totally sucked and embarrassed myself? But I decided to take a leap and run it anyway.

The day before the 2013 A10, I spent the day on my now-husband’s boat, carbo-loading with beer after beer. My sister partied so hard that she ended up in the Chesapeake Bay. Needless to say, when I woke up the next morning, I was in rough shape. But I powered through. I mean, I almost puked around mile 5, but I finished strong and wanted to sign up for the following year’s A10 almost immediately.

Lesson learned: No more than one beer (OK, maybe two!) before a long race! I’ve mostly stuck to that ….

In the years since, I’ve run countless 10-milers, a dozen half-marathons and three marathons. I like to say the 2013 A10 was my gateway drug. It made me fall in love with racing, and it made me proud to be a part of Annapolis’ wonderful running community.

The weather could not have been more perfect for the 2017 A10. And any runner knows what a difference the weather can make! A hot, humid day can really slow you down– and since the A10 is always the last weekend of August, well, there have been some muggy race days. On Sunday morning, the temperature was in the high 60s, the sun was shining and there was no humidity whatsoever (a rarity for a summer day in Maryland.)

The A10 follows the same route every year. Runners start at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium and head through historic downtown Annapolis before running over Weems Creek and the Naval Academy Bridge. Then, you run miles 4.5-7.5 through the Pendennis Mount neighborhood before heading back toward the bridge (yes, you run over it twice. And yes, it’s steep and challenging!) Runners finish at the stadium.

The race is hilly, but I think the difficulty is what makes it appealing for a lot of runners. But aside from that, the course is so scenic. Running over the Naval Academy Bridge may kill your quads, but you’re rewarded with the most beautiful view at the top. The crowd support and the volunteers are just awesome, too. One surprise this year– a group of nuns in full habits who were out cheering on the runners around mile 9.5. Maybe they thought the runners needed some extra prayers!

The Annapolis Striders, the local group who organizes the race, also don’t skimp on the swag. Aside from the hoodies runners got as the finisher’s premium, we also got hats and these fantastic commemorative bottle openers:

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I finished the race in 1:15:37, my personal best for the 10-mile distance! I felt like the race went by SO fast, probably because I know the course so well at this point. I truly loved every mile.

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My friend Kree and I. We both PR’d!

I’m actually running another 10-mile race in two weekends — the Bottle and Cork Ten-Miler in Dewey Beach, Del.– so we’ll see how my times compare. That’s a much flatter course, but the weather can be just as hot and sticky.

Thanks to the Annapolis Striders for putting on another quality A10! I’ll see you next year!