Training Check In

Wow, I can’t believe there’s only a  month left until my race. I can finally say the last three weeks I have felt good about training! I’m still not fast by any means, and I typically only run 3 times a week, but I have a schedule that I’m liking. It typically looks like this:

Monday: 3-4 mile run

Tuesday: off or strength circuit (usually off)

Wednesday: 3-4 mile run

Thursday: off

Friday: XT at the gym

Saturday: Long run

Sunday: off

It’s not very impressive and I’m not getting in a ton of mileage, but it’s working for me. The goal is to stay injury-free, and if that means less miles, I’m okay with that.

Since I now have a job that allows for work/life balance, I am really prioritizing the “life” portion of that. I’ve been going out to eat with friends at least once a week, and really enjoying the other nights at home with Eric and Jeter.

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(This is Jeter, by the way)

We travel or have plans nearly every weekend, but I’ve been managing to fit in my “long” runs the last two weeks. I’m actually really proud of myself because the 7 miles I ran on Sunday was the farthest I’ve ever run solo. Running with people really does make a difference, but I’m happy with how far my mental fitness has come.

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(From my 6-miler a couple weeks ago. I ran the 7 miles faster! #win)

Eric has also helped my running, since he’s taken it back up again. He really is a freak though – a couple of weeks ago he ran 9 miles on a Tuesday night without planning to. He just said he felt good so he kept going. I wish I could do that! He rarely races, but is really looking forward to our 10k a week from this Sunday. We also are looking into a marathon relay at the beach in March! I hope it works out, because it looks super fun!

Even though Eric is much faster than me, just meeting up after work and running the same route is motivating. It’s much easier to get out there when your husband is waiting for you 🙂

I’m also really enjoying the weather. The other two half marathons I’ve run were in April, so I trained from January-April, going from cold to hot. I have to say that I’m enjoying the fall training much better. Even though those summer training days were BRUTAL, it’s really nice to see your times naturally improve when the temperature drops! 🙂 Asheville is in the mountains of NC so I’m hoping race day isn’t too cold. Traci and I have talked, and this is going to be a fun run for all – if we want to walk up that big hill in the middle of the race, we’ll do it. The weekend will just be a fun time with the girls filled with great food, amazing local beer, and some running in one of my favorite places. I’m ready! 🙂

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(Not Asheville, but Boone – where I went to college and another fantastic NC mountain town)

 

Training So Far

Hello! It’s been several weeks since training has started and… it’s going. I knew it would be hard to get back into it, but I was hoping it would be easier than it has been so far. The heat certainly doesn’t help, and neither does my constant scheduling changing for training days, but for the most part I’m getting it done. I’m definitely not breaking any speed barriers on my runs and I still stop to walk a bit during each one, but I tell myself that it’s a long process. Aside from a particularly bad week where I literally did nothing, here’s what I’ve done so far. My training plan is on the left, and what I actually did is on the right:

Half Marathon Training

Today I’m changing my cross training for a run, because I feel like I need to ramp up my mileage. I’m attending the Panthers preseason game tomorrow so I won’t do anything exercise-wise.

In other news, I got new running shoes! I’ve run in the Brooks Adrenaline since I ran track in seventh grade. I feel like my running form has changed and these shoes were no longer working for me, so I headed to the running store to get fitted for new shoes. I ended up choosing the Saucony Guide and I’m excited to report that I like them so far! They are more of a neutral shoe (turns out I’m not so pigeon-toed anymore!) but still have the stability I need. They also come in fun colors, so it’s nice to have cute running shoes for a change!

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I’m pretty excited about our azaleas blooming in the middle of summer! (Side story – we bought a house in July 2015 and have been doing upgrades ever since we moved in. The yard was a big priority and in April we planted 8 azaleas in front of our house! We wanted a lasting plant that would give a little color a couple of times a year so we got 6 fuschia colored ones and two white ones for the “ends”. I love watching them grow!)

Other than training, we’ve certainly been enjoying our summer! This weekend we are heading to the beach for our fifth (and likely final) trip of the year. We went only two weeks ago with some friends and dogs, and this weekend will be spent with Eric’s parents and Traci and 5-month-old Morgan.

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I’m sad the summer is quickly coming to a close, but I’m excited for the fall! Football, cooler weather for running, and traveling almost every other weekend! Eric, Traci, and I decided to run the Cary Firehouse 10k as part of the Cary Firehouse Marathon series in October. It looks like it will be a fun race and a great way to gauge our fitness just a few weeks before the half!

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That’s all I have for now, but here’s to hoping that training starts to feel more “normal” as it starts ramping up!

Dare I say… I’ve returned?

Wow, it has been a long time. Quite frankly, a lot has happened since we last chatted. We bought a house, I changed jobs, I became an aunt, we got married and went on an amazing honeymoon, and I finally signed up for another half marathon! So what better time to resurrect the blog than to write about my training again?

Honestly, since NWM 2014, running stopped being a priority. I felt really burnt out and just needed a break. Well a break turned into a looooong time and I got really out of shape. I’ve run a handful of races, but honestly haven’t felt the same euphoria from running that I once did. In December, I joined the YMCA and would get on the bike, elliptical, or jump on the indoor track for a bit, but other than that I’ve stayed fairly inactive. You’d think with a wedding thrown in there my motivation to work out would’ve been knocking at the door, but it didn’t.

The perfect opportunity came a few weeks ago in the form of my (now) sister-in-law Traci. She just had a baby in March and the one we stayed with in DC for both Nike halfs. Traci’s husband is Adam (Eric’s brother), and is a Major in the Army. He’s deployed in Saudi Arabia right now while Traci is living with Eric and Adam’s parents for the year. She wanted to get back in shape but also help pass the time of Adam’s deployment and suggested we run a half!

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We are going to run the 13.1 in Asheville on Saturday, November 12. Here’s why it will work out for me:

-My work hours are now 7:30am-5:30pm Monday-Thursday. On Fridays I work until 11:30am. That means I’m pretty limited in outdoor running during the week (SO not a morning person and then I get home around 6pm). However, daylight savings time isn’t until one week prior to our race, so I can run at night almost the entire training schedule. My half day Fridays obviously allow for a a nice shakeout run/cross train session before long runs on Saturdays.

-I don’t work weekends anymore. So long runs on Saturdays are going to be pretty consistent.

-I have zero base – running 2 miles is hard right now. So I found a nice 16-week plan where I can literally start off running 2 miles at a time, but still have enough time to ramp up the mileage before the race.

-Since Traci hasn’t run in a while, she doesn’t have any time goals. I am definitely going to adopt this as well – I don’t think I have much choice 🙂

-Asheville is one of my favorite places! We are going to make it a girls trip and get a cabin for the weekend. Luckily, the race is on Saturday so we can spend all day Saturday after the race drinking the delicious beer at all the breweries.

-Eric mentioned the hills and the cold – while it will be hilly, I won’t mind as much since I’m not racing for time. Yes, it’s November in the North Carolina mountains so it can be unpredictable, but it was 80 degrees on Christmas Eve last year. Let’s hope for perfect 50-60 degrees on race day 🙂

The hard part of this training cycle is my running buddy, Sarah, moved away. So this will be a completely solo cycle unless I can convince Eric to help out on some of my long runs 🙂 (he runs between 4-6 miles 2-3 times a week so he has a good base already!) While it will probably be brutal (especially in the beginning since it’s so hot), I’m looking forward to training again and ready to get back in shape!

Another week of training

Here’s another weekly recap for you! I did a little better in “training” this week, but still took the time to enjoy myself. 🙂

Monday: Bike and Strength. 10.5 miles on the upright stationary bike in 43 minutes. I wanted to do my full 50 minutes like last week to compare, but the cardio room was busy and I had already exceeded my 30 minute limit. I did the same workout as last week. For my strength session, I did 3 sets of:

Physioball leg curls x 10

Chest to ground push ups x 10

Oblique dumbbell side dips x 10 each side w/ two 10 lb. dumbbells

Bicep curls on one foot x 10 each side w/ two 10 lb. dumbbells

1 minute plank

Tuesday: Swim. I was aiming for 20 laps, but only made it 18. The pool schedule said the pool was open the remainder of the night, but a swim team came in to practice so I had to get out of the pool. I was glad I got the majority of my workout in. Unfortunately, my fears of being REALLY out of swim shape were confirmed. I could only make it two laps at a time and was having trouble breathing. Because of my shortness of breath, I became dizzy and lightheaded about halfway through my workout. I made sure to just take it semi-easy to no overdo it. I was also testing out goggles and found a pair that was doable. The first pair leaked as soon as I put my head under and the second pair didn’t stay tight on my head. Oh well, still a work in progress. I did the following:

4 laps free with a break in between the first two laps and the second two laps

2 laps breast

2 laps free

2 laps breast

2 laps free

2 laps breast

4 laps free with a break in between the first two laps and the second two laps

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I had planned to do an east shakeout on either the bike or elliptical (depending on what was open) after the swim, but I felt really shaky. I didn’t want to be that person that passed out in the gym so I did a plank set of one minute front, one minute each side then one minute front and called it a day.

Wednesday: 3 mile walk. I had a killer headache so I skipped my workout. After dinner I was feeling better so I took a walk with the family. It should be noted that our family walks are pretty quickly paced so it was a decent workout.

Thursday: I was so exhausted so I skipped my workout again and took a nap. Oh well. 🙂

Friday: Panthers game!

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Saturday: 6 mile hike with Eric. We went up to Crowder’s Mountain and picked out a trail. We chose the 2.8 mile “moderate” hike, then took about 400 steps straight up to the top of the mountain. The first part ended up being about 3.2 miles and boy were we sweaty! I carried the backpack on the way up as well. On the way back we took the “strenuous” route which included a lot of climbing boulders and such. It was also downhill so that was hard on our legs. The hike ended with probably around 6.5 miles and sore legs! It was fun and we definitely agreed we would do it again.

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^^ Sweaty at the top!!

Sunday: It was National Lazy Day and we took that pretty seriously. I went to a new outlet mall in the morning and then came home and took a nap 🙂 Eric and I met some friends for dinner and ice cream when he came back.

 

All in all it was a good week, but not a great one for training. Now my training is going to get pretty interesting since I’m leaving for vacation Thursday night and not returning until August 24. The good news is we are going to Salt Lake City, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and Jackson Hole! So I’m hoping it will be pretty active. I am planning on bringing my running clothes and see what I can do in that department, but I think it’s safe to say swimming and biking will be out of the question. I will have to hit the swimming hard when I get back!

 

 

Stuck in a rut

I think the title just about sums up my life right now: stuck in a rut. I feel like I’ve stalled out, plateaued, and downright lost right now. Is it a quarter-life crisis? No, I just need some change in my life! 

Last week was going to be my first week of tri training. And I did do some biking and running, but not as much as I had hoped. I’ve decided this is okay for a couple of reasons:

1. I’m entering this race strictly for fun. It’s something I’ve never done before and I don’t know how to even gauge where I should be.

2. I know I can complete the race with my fitness as is. Would it be super slow? Absolutely! But it’s left me less than motivated knowing that this is something I can do already. I can swim 10 laps in the pool, I can bike 9 miles and I can run 2 miles. Putting it all together is going to be the tough part!

3. I want to enjoy my life. The past two years I haven’t done a great job of having work/life balance. I want to change that this year. Luckily we were able to add another full time person to our staff so that immediately helps relieve some hours. I’ve found that my outside life is pretty damn important too and I need to do better at giving it some love too. So last week when several opportunities arose to skip training and hang out with friends I jumped at the chance.

Here’s how my week went down:

Monday: Bike 50 minutes + Strength. I did 11.5 miles in 50 minutes (I know, not great but I haven’t sat on the bike that long in a while!) while doing my favorite type of interval/hill training. Here’s what I do:

1 mile level 5

2 miles level 7

1 mile level 6

2 miles level 8

1 mile level 7

2 miles level 9

1 mile level 5

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I use the 1 mile increments as recovery periods and try to push hard on the 2 mile ones. It makes the time go by quickly! I was on the upright stationary bike watching the news and Teen Week on Jeopardy. After I was done I did some arm strength work with 10 lb. dumbbells and some planks.

Tuesday: sushi and rooftop beers with my friend Kristen!

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Wednesday: 2.95 mile run. I used to be OCD about hitting exact miles or half miles, but is that last .05 mile really going to make a difference? I felt so off on this run that it took all my willpower to get through it.

Thursday: 2 mile run + core. I felt great during this run for the first time in a long time. I decided to do a quicker and shorter run because I don’t want to injure myself by jumping into training too quickly. Afterwards I did some weighted crunches and planks.

Friday: Dinner with Eric and Sarah! E and I went to Sarah’s new place and just hung out and ate some delicious food. Afterwards I helped Eric dogsit for a former colleague.

Saturday: All day tubing trip!! Talk about a fun time 🙂

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Sunday: I had planned to either bike or run, but I told myself I needed to do something I have been putting off for a long time – cleaning my car inside and out. So I spent two hours doing that in the sun. My car looks fantastic! Eric came over to my parents house and we ate shrimp outside for dinner. After that we went on a walk, covering just over 2 miles. 

So while it was a a pretty pathetic week, I know I can only do better this week. I currently don’t have anything scheduled so hopefully less workouts will be skipped. I also finally found some goggles and a swimsuit I can swim laps in so some swimming will get done this week! Today I’m planning on a bike workout. If I can get to my gym in time for the spinning class I’ll do that, but if not I’ll do one similar to last Monday.

Hi. I’m still alive and training for something new…

It’s been nearly two months since my last post – my half marathon recap. Life has been a whirlwind adventure this summer and it’s been FLYING by! Between moving, vacations, friends moving away, life changes and more, I have seriously lost track of time. So, to get to what this blog has really been about… running.

After my half I wanted to stay in pretty good shape, but I wanted to take a couple weeks off for myself. It was a good thing too, because it got so hot in May that I definitely did NOT want to run! I’ve been trying to run between 2-4 times a week and I throw in some core work and arms every now and then. Nothing too fancy, but it’s been nice not having to stress over staying on top of a training plan. A marathon is still in the cards for the future, but I simply do not want to dedicate the time to it with my current job. (During the school year I work a lot of nights and most weekends, so it’s hard to stay on a consistent plan.) I want to be injury free and be 100% confident I can finish. I’m not either of those things right now.

A couple weeks ago, my shin pain came back. The crazy thing? It would start hurting when I would stand on our hardwood floors for too long. So I iced it and took some time off running. I’ve also tried to wear more supportive shoes. In the summer I wear a lot of sandals from places like Target and flip flops. I’ve learned that I need something a little more substantial or my feet and legs will hear about it. It’s something I’m working on, because it seems like this will be a lifelong issue.

I’ve also realized that my running shoes are no longer working for me. While I love my Brooks Adrenalines, I need to find something better. I’m going to get re-fitted for shoes sometime in the near future. On my last run (a 30 minute unplugged and glorious run), I came back with blisters on the balls of my feet. I have a constant black bruise on my left second toe and in both my half marathons, the bottoms of my feet were burning by mile 8. Now I know some of this stuff comes from running, but I know all of it doesn’t. I just think I can find something that works better for me.

So what’s next? I think (about 80% sure) I’m doing a triathlon with my mom on September 21. Now to be fair, it’s a mini tri so the fact that it’s only 9 weeks away shouldn’t be a huge deal. It’s a 250 yard swim, 9 mile bike and 2 mile run for women only. Do I have a swimsuit or goggles or a bike? No. Minor details 😉 But I did competitive swimming for 7 years and I love spinning/biking. Obviously I’ve got the run part down, but I definitely need to get into triathlon mode. This will be VERY bare bones for me, but who says you have to have fancy equipment to achieve a goal? I’ve always wanted to do one and the fact that my mom wants to do one was just added motivation! I found an 8 week training plan for tri beginners so I will probably be following that. I’ll add in a little more swimming because I haven’t swum “long distance” in a long time.

This weekend I’m heading to the beach with Eric and some friends. They have a pool and a bike at their condo that I will try to take advantage of! I’ll try to keep this updated with my training and hopefully this gets me back into training mode!

Nike Women’s Half Marathon DC 2014 Recap

Okay, it’s been long enough. I could give you all the excuses about how busy I’ve been, but that’s boring. Let’s recap, shall we?

Like I said a million times, I threw out all goals for this race. I just wanted to have a fun weekend with my girlfriends. So I drank a lot on Thursday and Friday nights. I drank a beer on Saturday at the Nats game in DC. I woke up Sunday morning (race day) feeling pretty good.

I agreed to pace Jamie in the race and we started off in the 9-9:29 pace corral. Since 5 of the 6 of us had training cycles that were less than ideal, nobody was feeling confident about the race aside from Jamie. This year, the race went off in waves (THANK YOU NIKE!) and we were in the second wave. I asked Jamie how she was feeling and she said “great!” The worst possible thing for a pacer happened to me – my Garmin wouldn’t sync before we started!! I started syncing during the National Anthem, knowing we were in the second wave and in the 10 minutes I had before we started it didn’t work! Jamie has the same make/model Garmin and hers worked fine, but I didn’t want her to look at her watch too much. She even turned off the mile beeps because she didn’t want to overanalyze her data. It was supposed to be my job to watch the time and keep us on pace! Luckily I synced about 30 seconds after we started and estimated about .05 miles in. Looks like I was going to be doing math during the race! (It brought me back to my middle/high school years where I would do math based on my splits from my stopwatch) Another note – we started exactly 7 minutes after the first wave, so my watch would be about 7:30 off from the official race clocks we would see on the course.

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Sarah, Traci, Jamie and I all started off together and I literally just felt like I was enjoying the day running around some monuments with 15,000 friends. I decided to take photos throughout the race and document my good time. Sarah took off about a half a mile in and we lost Traci around the one mile mark.

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(Side note – mile 13 of the 2013 race was mile 1 for this year. Again… THANK YOU NIKE! Running by the Capitol was awesome and I didn’t feel like death like when I ran by it last year)

Jamie and I were running about an 8:30 pace, giving us plenty of wiggle room for a sub-2 (close to a 9 minute pace) Around mile 2-3 my shin started feeling a little sore. I thought “well this is going to be a long race!” but then it went away and I didn’t hurt the rest of the time.

I kept taking photos and let Jamie run at her own pace. She looked great and didn’t feel tired at all so I didn’t try to reel her in. (I by no means have pacing experience, but I like to stand by the fact that running on feel is not a terrible thing!)

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As you can see from all these photos, we were surrounded by LOTS of people throughout the entire race. Now think about if we hadn’t gone off in different waves… it would’ve been SUPER congested.

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This was an out and back portion so I was looking for Traci and Sarah on the opposite side but never saw them. Oh well. On the back portion we were close to the halfway point and I yelled out “halfway!” to Jamie and asked how she felt. She said she still felt good. At the halfway point the race clock said 1:05 or something like that so we had a couple minutes of wiggle room as long as we stayed on pace!

Also of note, Jamie and I both took in fuel for the first time here. Going into the race, I wanted to take in fuel at miles 4, 7, and 10 but we both had a heavier breakfast than intended. My stomach did not want to think about fuel at mile 4. I made myself take one at the halfway point because I knew it would come back to bite me later. I took one Clif ShotBlok and got a small cramp but otherwise felt rejuvenated. That was all the fuel I took throughout the race, whoops. Need to work on that…

The back half of the course is by far the toughest part. You run next to the Potomac River for close to FOUR MILES. There’s not too much race support there and frankly… it’s boring.

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Nike placed one band right before we started on this section which definitely helped!

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Gorgeous… yes. But monotonous! Jamie started to slow down at this part and I tried to keep her motivated. I was doing the math in my head and we were still on target. She was in the zone and never stopped. We walked through three aid stations and I think that really helped both of us.

My mom texted me while we were close to mile 10 and I told her I was pacing Jamie to a sub-2. Nike had an AWESOME tracking system where our “fans” could actually watch a dot with our name on it every step of the way. It also showed our splits and pace. From then on my mom was texting me splits and saying “2 miles to go!” and so forth.

Finally around mile 10 we popped back out on the main road. During mile 10, Nike adopted the “chocolate mile” that they do for NWM SF. I tried to grab two on my way for Jamie and myself but failed. Luckily there were several other chocolate stops along the way and after many tries I finally got one for her!

Mile 11 is where you run back through the tunnel. Inside the tunnel are drummers and a big glow-in-the-dark “we run” Nike sign. They also took the wall that we all wrote on at the expotique and placed it in this tunnel, which was really cool!

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Selfie attempt! Jamie and I in the tunnel.

After exiting the tunnel we saw these really cool signs that were supposed to motivate you. Nike adopted a cool system where your bib had a tracker on it attached to your name. When you crossed the specific point, your name would pop up on these screens. I missed both mine and Jamie’s, but still got the photo because it was cool 🙂

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Finally, we had a small hill to run up and about a mile to go. I told Jamie to look down and ahead and focus on pumping her arms. We were almost there! (We had to keep our exact pace to get in under 2 hours at this point!)

The last mile I spent pushing Jamie and doing math in my head. Knowing that we didn’t run exact tangents was starting to worry me. She didn’t want water at the last aid station so I told her let’s go! I didn’t want to fail! We turned the corner around mile 13 and saw the finish line. We had to kick now!IMG_2899

(The girl in front of us had 4 friends join her and they held hands across the finish line. Kind of annoying, but oh well!)

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Here’s Eric’s photo of us finishing! He was apparently yelling his head off trying to get us to look but I was yelling at Jamie haha.

But SHE DID IT! We crossed and the clock said 2:06 and my mom texted saying our official time was 1:59:23! I showed the text to Jamie and we screamed and hugged and I picked her up! We were SO excited and I was SO proud of her! Honestly, she could’ve done it alone but I was so happy to have been a small part in her success. This was a 4 minute PR and her 5th half marathon. She ran a half TWO WEEKS prior and ran a 2:16 with a friend on a VERY hilly course!

Afterwards she told me she didn’t think she could do it again but I told her I knew she could. She looked great the whole time and definitely earned it herself.

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All in all, the day couldn’t have been better. I was just happy to have run the entire race and not feel much pain. Even though the time is 9 minutes off my PR, I felt even more satisfied helping a friend reach her goal. If I could, I would do it all over again!

Finally the rest of the finishers in our group:
Traci and Sarah finished around 1:52-1:53ish and Kelly and Erin finished their first half marathons in 2:30ish. An amazing fact? Kelly and Erin didn’t run more than SIX MILES in their training and neither one of them claim to be runners. In fact, Kelly was a volleyball player and Erin was a basketball player. Talk about some rockstars!! This is how they felt about it:

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We made cool shirts for the race… well at least we felt cool 🙂

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So happy he was able to come again! Fun side note – he went up to New York with his brother so we could have a girls weekend! They took the 3am train from NY to DC to see us start at 7am!

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And finally… the only official race photo and I’m caught texting! Whoops. I guess it’s fitting though! 🙂

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