Celebrating Running 

Richmond never disappoints. I love this city every single time I visit. This weekend I kicked off Friday with a day date with my husband – enjoying sushi at our favorite spot, walking to Belle Isle, racing up stairs, and visiting a local brewery – before I was joined by my two best running buddies for a girl race weekend. 


Up and Over to Belle Isle
Saturday morning started just how I like it: chilly. We navigated our way to a parking garage, walked a few blocks to the started, took one last bathroom break, and jumped into the race a few corrals behind our scheduled started. No PRs would be chased at this race. It was simply about having fun, feeling confident, and most importantly, welcoming my friend Leah back to the running world after taking a year and a half off to have a baby. 

The race course was gorgeous. The miles flew by. We laughed. We talked. We sang along to music. I may have thrown my fist into the air one too many times. And we crossed the finished line feeling better than when we started. This race will always be a favorite. 


Mastering my running photography skills
As my fall “racing” comes to an ended, I’m filled to the brim with satisfaction. Every race delivered exactly what I needed. Running is fun again, and winter training has some really exciting things in store. My favorite half marathon is waiting to be conquered. PRs are ready to be broken. I’m taking on an exciting new role on the J&A Racing Team (more to come soon!). I’m adding an exciting new strength regiment to my weekly routine. 

I have big dreams for this sport I love so much. I’ve always had big dreams, but now I’m ready to do the work to make it happen. I’m ready to push a little. I’m ready to see what these running legs can do. 


Shamrock Half Marathon 2015

“Courage, Dear Heart.” ~C.S. Lewis

A week ago I crossed the finish line of the Newport News Marathon 8k. Over the five hilly miles, my head quickly tried to play its old tricks. By mile two I found myself thinking old thoughts of “I can’t” and “it’s too hard”. As quickly as they came, I quickly laughed them off. I spent last year battling those mental demons. There was no way I was letting them win this year. Instead I had fun with the runners around me. I chatted with the few spectators that were on the course. Even when congestion prevented me from breathing deeply and a cramp emerged in my side around mile 3, I stayed happy. The result was an 8k and a perfectly executed race

(Finish Time: 45:15, Splits: 9:11, 9:02, 9:01, 9:01, 8:56)

After this race, I knew my heart (and most importantly my head) was ready for my big race weekend: Shamrock Half Marathon.

I wasn’t supposed to be running the half this weekend. I was supposed to be in Africa. I wasn’t training for a spring half. I thought my goal race would be a 10 miler at the end of April. So when plans changed, I quickly adapted my training plan to squeeze in a few double digit runs (two to be exact).

As race day approached, I had a few goals floating around in my head. First and most importantly, I wanted to duplicate the feeling I ran with at the One City Marathon 8k. I wanted to run with a happy heart. I wanted to have fun. Based on my current fitness level, I also had a few anticipated finish times.

A Goal – Sub 2 if the day was absolutely perfect mixed with a little race day magic (the same pace as my 8k the weekend before)

B Goal – PR (sub 2:03:19)

C Goal – stay strong (9:30 pace)

As I lined up at the start of the Shamrock Half Marathon with my friends, I decided I wanted to go for. I wanted to see if I had a sub 2 hiding inside my running legs. Regardless of my inconsistent training and regardless of my unfocused running all winter, I knew my heart and my head was the strongest it has ever been going into a race

The excitement is building
The excitement is building

Mile 1 9:08

Mile 2 9:06

Mile 3 9:06

Mile 4 9:01

Mile 5 9:04

Mile 6 9:05

The first six miles head north through the North End of the oceanfront and along Shore Drive through First Landing State Park. My only thought through the first six miles was to slow down. I didn’t want to run faster than a 9 minute mile. I consciously head back and resisted the urge to run faster as the excitement of race day took over.

As we turned on to the military base, I started to fatigue a bit. I think mentally I knew what the next 3 miles had planned. Three miles through a lonely, quiet military base. My running buddy Laura dropped back at Mile 7 due to some cramping so I was all alone. I started the process of counting miles and water stops. Run to the next mile marker. Run to the next water table. Run to the light house. Get me off this stupid military base!

Mile 7 8:54

Mile 8 9:05

Mile 9 9:23


I expected to feel a surge of excitement as I left the military base, but it never showed up. I was tired. I couldn’t find the motivation to keep the wheels turning. I hadn’t been paying attention to my garmin at this point. If I had know I was so close to going sub 2, I think I could have fought a little harder. Mentally I thought I was in the perfect bubble of finishing with a new PR above 2 hours.

Mile 10 9:35

Mile 11 9:21

Mile 12 9:56

As always Christian was waiting for me as I came out of the military base. Seeing him is always a welcome sight. He stays if I want him near. He bikes ahead when I push him away. I really wanted to be done by the time I saw him. Mentally I was tired.  When I finally saw the mile mark to let me know there was 1 mile left, I finally found some energy. I didn’t run 12 miles to quit, so I tucked my head and kept going.

Mile 13 9:30

As I made my the final turn onto the boardwalk, I was smiling from ear to ear. I knew I was going to cross the finish line with a personal best. This year I really allowed myself to enjoy the energy of the crowd. I high fived everyone on the turn. I cheered along with them. I embraced ever single sign and every single word of encouragement. I couldn’t stop smiling.

Final Stretch 8:36 pace


Official Results 2:01:43, 9:17 pace

I felt like I was beaming as I made my way down the finisher shoot. Satisfied didn’t even begin to describe just how good I felt about my run on Sunday. Running a PR always feels good, but this year feels different. This year running was my last priority. This year family time always came first. This year my work has become my source of pride. This year I choose sleep when my body was weary. This year my life felt like everything fell in place perfectly. To be rewarded with a personal best is truly the cherry on top.

Post Race Celebrating
Post Race Celebrating

As I put another check in the box next to a goal accomplished, I can’t help but feel like this is my starting point. I felt this exact same way last year at the finish line of the Shamrock Half. I’m finding my stride. I’m finding what works best for my life. Running has become the perfect compliment for everything that makes me happy.

This year running embraced me back. My heart won this race!


ECSC 5k – Race Recap

“Light tomorrow with today.” ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

This morning I lined up for a 5k knowing I’m not in racing condition, knowing that I’ve struggled all summer to find space in my runs, and knowing that 3 miles now feels like a long run. I know all of this, yet I was excited. The timing of this race just felt right. I was ready to test my new running philosophy: accept where I am at today.

But old habits die hard. I did my best not to speculate about finish times, to analyze the few runs I have worn my garmin on this summer to predict my outcome, or to stress that a PR wasn’t a possibility (24:50 for those of you who are curious, 7:59 pace). I only let my brain wander as far as setting a few loose goals for the race outside of enjoying myself and pushing myself on the course.

A perfect day – 27:xx, 8:59 pace (I am well aware that I ran this pace for 10 miles in April. Another true test of my new running philosophy. Could my ego let go?)

A solid run – Low 9s

Crap that sucked – anything over 9:20

I lined up next to a few friends and told them that who ever was having a solid day running was required to run.

Laura and I stuck together for Mile 1. I had previously told her my plan was to hit a 9 minute mile. At some point she kindly told me that if a 9 minute mile was my pace, I was running way too fast. We slowed down, chatted, and had some fun.

Mile 1 – 8:28

In mile 2 I encouraged Laura to go ahead. My stomach was telling me to slow down, but I knew I was in a good spot if I could just hang on. Panicking mid-race has been my weakness this year. When I saw 8:28 on my watch and my stomach started to rumble, I felt panic taking over. My focus quickly become to sit in a pocket that felt comfortable. Don’t panic. Relax. Don’t panic. Relax.

Mile 2 – 9:35 (I may have got a little too comfortable this mile)

Mile 3 was about hanging on. My hip flexors are tight lately. I like to lead with my pelvis when I run. Instead of focusing on the miles or the finish line, I focused on my body. I did my best to keep my hips under me. I did my best to keep my upper body relax.

Mile 3 – 9:16

In the final stretch I found a familiar face. Teresa, the overall female winner today, came back to run me in. She helped squeeze out the last bit of energy I had left in my legs. She reminded me to lift my knees and to use my arms. She took over my thinking since my brain had shut off.

Final stretch – 6:58 pace

Official Finish time: 28:00, 9:02 pace

Finish line fun with some great friends
Finish line fun with some great friends

Am I happy with this run? You bet!

It’s no secret my ego has been attached to my running ability for some time. It’s so easy to get caught up in the race to run further or to run faster. I got stuck in a place that let the pace on a race clock determine my level of success. Today that ego didn’t show up. I hope it’s squashed for good. I ran each mile as best I could. I have happily accepted exactly where I am at right now, not last year, not last month, but today! Coming to terms with this has been hard. My ego put up a good fight. But man, it feels good to kick that ego to the curb. It feels good to enjoy the run!

Today’s run was perfect! It makes me really excited about the fall races I have coming up!

Cheers to a very happy start!
Cheers to a very happy start!

Breath. Depth. and Meaning.

Breath. Depth. and Meaning.

On Thursday afternoon I sat in a room with all of my coworkers and Shawn Achor. Shawn Achor was just on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday for two weekends in a row. He has one of the most viewed Ted Talks. There is a reason for all of this. What he has to share with world needs to be heard. He is a happiness researcher. His words echoed into my heart, and I’ve been trying to hold on to them.

Happiness is our choice. We choose which lense we use to view life. Why not train our brain to find patterns of happiness instead of patterns of stress, depression or pessimism? During the two hours he spoke with us, he repeated this phrase several times, and I quickly reached for my pen to write it down.

Breath. Depth. and Meaning.

I took these words to heart. I interpreted them to fit my life. If I focus on my now, if I take the time to pay attention to my inhales and exhales, this allows me to view life through a lense of happiness. If I take the time to move beyond living life on the surface, this allows me to view life through a lense of happiness. If I do things that give meaning to my life, this allows me to view life through a lense of happiness.

Breath. Depth. and Meaning.

Today I headed to the CHKD 8k Run/Walk. My intention was to carry these words with me. I was running on Operation Smile’s Team World Care. We were running to say thank you to the children’s hospital for taking such amazing care of our world care patients. Running is a privilege I don’t take for granted.

The race took off, and I fell into a comfortable pace (except it was too fast). I had no goal for this race except I wanted to remember why I was running. I wasn’t running for a race clock. I was running to say thank you. I forgot all of this in the third mile when things got hot. I forgot all of this when I started to hold the tension in my hips. I forgot all of this when I started to think I wasn’t capable. My brain shut down. My body gave up with it. I got irritated with myself. The negative self talk took over.

Just past the fourth mile marker a girl ran by filled with optimism. She was cheering for everyone. It was the reality check I needed to get my head in check. It was the reality check that got me to the finish line pushing instead of giving in.

Breath. Depth. and Meaning.

Not too long after my finish, I was joined by more coworkers. We were joined by our world care patient from Haiti. We walked the 1 mile fun walk together and celebrated the importance of life. This young lady that joined me on the race course has spent her entire life hiding behind a four pound tumor that had grown on her face. Thanks to some really amazing people and this amazing Children’s Hospital, she will see another birthday. The tumor has been removed forever. I ran one bad mile. Life was put back in perspective.

Breath. Depth. and Meaning.


During Shawn Achor’s talk he reminded us that choosing happiness isn’t about being naïve. It isn’t about turning our backs on the real sadness and heart ache in our world. It’s about looking for patterns in our life, patterns of gratitude and appreciation for what we do have. I am lucky enough to live in a culture that encourages me to chase my dreams. I am lucky enough to have the chance to grow as a person. Every single day I get to work on fine tuning my well-being because I live with a healthy body.

I have work I want to do. It’s not work that I have to do. It’s a privilege. I want to learn to be strong in the middle of my race. I want to learn to hang on when things get tough. I want to learn to fight for my potential. I’ve got work to do. This is my privilege.

Breath. Depth. and Meaning.

Grow into it.

(Today I forgot)

Race Results:

8k – 46:23

Garmin: 5.04 in 46:25, 8:34, 9:02, 8:53, 11:05, 8:45, 5:37 across the finish line (talk about potential!)

When I crossed the finish line today, I viewed my race as a failure. I was done racing for a while. The one mile walk with our world care patient changed that. I was using the wrong lense to view my run. Today’s run wasn’t a failure. It was a chance to see where my weaknesses exist. It was chance to see where I have the potential to grow. This is how I want to view my life. This is the lense I’m choosing.

Gorgeous Finish Line View
Gorgeous Finish Line View


Elizabeth River Run 10k Race Report

The past two weeks I’ve done very little running. This was intentional. I wanted to give my head and my body a chance to adapt to all the changes that come with starting a new job. I knew when I lined up on the start line with a few close friends on Saturday morning, I wasn’t in race condition. I’m no where close to my peak condition. My race plan was simple: have fun.

I could have run the race in cruise control, but running solo has lost its appeal lately. I wanted to run with my friends who are also fast and also in great running condition. I’d hang on as long as I could.

Part of my race plan was to also run without my garmin. Numbers didn’t matter for this race. As I left for the race, I grabbed it anyway. What if I had a great race and wanted to know my times?

Damn Ryan (my running coach). He rigged my watch.

I never got a connection during the race. There was no cheating on my race plan.

At the Start (photo credit: @thefitpetite)
At the Start (photo credit: @thefitpetite)

I hung with my friends until just past the three mile marker. My hips were tired. They didn’t want to open up. I wasn’t having fun anymore. I let them slowly slip away, and I took in the gorgeous views on the race course: historic downtown and riverfront streets.

Around mile 4.5, I remembered why running solo (on a crappy run day) isn’t fun anymore. Maybe I should have fought to hold on instead of giving up? I had settled into cruise control mode, and I was now running solo. Just when I started to think this is not fun. Running slow and solo sucks. a smiling face was waiting for me on the side of the road. Jess, The Fit Petite, was waiting for me. We start the race together. We finish the race together. I could have hugged her, but I was tired at this point.

Being rejoined by a friend on the course gave me an extra boost of energy. I may have mumbled and grumbled that I didn’t feel like going faster, I’m pretty sure I speed up significantly when she joined me.

My finish time: 58:25. Five minutes slower than my PR, but significantly faster than a fun (lazy, crappy) run a year ago. ( read my report from Elizabeth River Run in 2012)

The race was exactly what I needed. Racing slow isn’t fun anymore. I’m ready to pick back up my training plan to get myself out of my comfort zone. The day was also filled with lessons of trust but I’ll save that thought process for another post.

Always learning. Always growing. Always smiling. It’s the only requirement I have for myself.

(photo credit: @thefitpetite)
(photo credit: @thefitpetite)

Flying Pirate Half Marathon, Race Report

The goal: sub 2 hours

The result: 2:18:29

I did everything right going into this race. I only missed one training run. I was hydrated. I was relaxed. I rested my legs. I wrote down my goal times the night before the race, and it felt like a no brainer. There wasn’t a doubt in my head that I was coming home with a 1:xx finish time.

Race morning went smooth. I was joined by friends JP and Meagan, and Christian dropped us off at the start. Everything went according to plan. I had my goal times written on my hand. I was ready to run.

As I crossed the start line, I focused on staying controlled. By mile two, my stomach was telling me it had other plans for today. My mind shifted from running to finding a portapotty.

Mile 3 goal time: 28 minutes but no faster than 27:15

Mile 3 results: 27:25

Just after mile 3, I found a portapotty. A quick stop and my stomach felt better. I was back to running. Christian was up ahead at mile 5 so I shifted my focus to finding him. By the time I saw him, my stomach was rebelling again. I took some Gatorade from him in hopes of some relief but no luck.

Mile 5 goal time: 46:30

Mile 5 results: 46:15

Another portapotty stop at the mile 6, and I knew my race plan wasn’t happening. It didn’t feel any better after my bathroom visit. I walked ahead, and found my running coach just in front of the 10k marker. We chatted for a few minutes. I considered dropping out, but after only a moments hesitation, I knew I needed to finish.

Christian stuck with me at this point. I ran walked. We chatted. He kept my spirit light with lots of inappropriate humor about my race turning to crap.

Mile 8 goal time: 1:13:30

Mile 8 results: 1:21:11

As we approached the Wright Brothers Memorial, sadness took over. I was disappointed, but I felt even worse that I let people down. Lots of people made sacrifices for me so I could run my perfect race. I still feel guilty. I cried which is not an easy thing to do while running and battling stomach cramps.

At this point, I came across another local blogger Reading Runner Girl. She saved me from feeling too bad about my race. We chatted for a while before she went ahead.

Mile 10 goal: 1:31:30

Mile 10 result: 1:41:47

I said goodbye to Christian just before mile 10 when the roads turned to trails. The whole time I was running (and walking. And using the bathroom), I told myself I would still race the last 5k. I could at least push myself there. When I hit he trails, I tried but my stomach didn’t respond well. I was back to run walking. Fortunately the trails were beautiful. Seriously, the trees were gorgeous. If I had my phone with me, I would have taken photos and finished 10 minutes later.

Finish line goal: 1:59:20

Finish line result: 2:18:29


With friends surrounding me post race, there was no need to feel disappointed in my run. Bad runs happen. Shamrock half was a huge success. Cherry blossom 10-miler was another surprise success. The Flying Pirate half just didn’t workout. When you run races year round, some of them won’t go according to plan. They all can’t be perfect. I know that one bad race doesn’t define me as a runner, and it certainly doesn’t impact my goals for the future.

Am I disappointed the day after the race? Yes and no. It’s hard to run a race below my potential. I want a do-over. My “fight for your race” attitude disappeared at mile 6. I do wonder what I could have accomplished if I had stayed engaged with my run instead of giving in to my stomach issues. These are all lessons learned for another race. I am glad that I wasn’t stupid on the race course. I finished healthy, and now I get to start my summer race season. It’s time to focus on speed and short races, and I’m starting the summer healthy! That’s a huge win for me!

On to the next race!


Cherry Blossom 10-miler, Race Report

Going into this race, I had one thought process: I was kicking timid to the curb. It is time for me to run with “a little swagger” (words of wisdom from my running coach). My goal was to show up on at the start line with a bit of an ego. I need to know it’s my race to run.

My one and only time goal was to break 1:30. I hadn’t thought of any other goals, and since this was just another training run for me, I wasn’t worried having an A, B or C goal. I had one goal, A goal, break 1:30.

All of this should have been easy. I can choose my mindset. My body is ready for faster miles. What I chose not to control going into this race was life. I had two big speed work outs this week since I’m building for the Flying Pirate Half Marathon. Tuesday was mile repeats (7:58, 7:45, 7:25). Thursday was 800 repeats (3:50, 3:42, 3:32, 3:35). It was during these repeats that I decided it was time to break up with timid. On Friday, my family headed to DC for a long weekend of fun capped off by my race.

We arrived at our hotel around 2pm. We immediately headed to the expo, the Museum of Natural History, and the Mall. We walked and walked and walked. Everyone went to bed with tired legs. I went to bed with a blister on my heel. On Saturday we went to the zoo, lunch in DuPont circle and the Lincoln memorial. We walked and walked and walked. All of my walking included carrying a two year old (who just so happened to embrace the terrible twos this weekend!). By the time we went to bed Saturday night, my legs were exhausted.


In the middle of one of Chet’s (many) tantrums, my running coach called. He had last minute advice for my blister (it worked!). He told me to show up and give what I had. Life’s too short to not experience a family weekend in DC. Whatever happened during the race, my weekend had been a success.

When my alarm clock went off on race morning, I rolled out of bed with stiff legs. My inner thighs ached. I was still tired after sharing a bed with Chet. It also just so happened to be the worst day of my period (sorry guys!). I followed my prerace morning routine to the minute. Everything was directing this race down the road to disaster, but I wasn’t willing to follow that path. I was breaking up with timid.


When I arrived at my corral, it was packed. The entrance would have placed me behind the 10 minute mile pacer. I wanted to be with 9 minute mile pacer. I walked along the edge and saw a guy on the outside talking to his wife. I asked if there was an entrance ahead, and after telling me no, he offered to help me over the fence. Over the fence I went. I have honestly never seen so many people in a corral ever. The start was packed. After jumping the fence, I started talking with the man’s wife. She had the exact same goal as me. We said maybe we’d cross paths on the course, and wished each other good luck.

Mile one was crowded. I wasn’t anywhere near my planned pace, but I was stride for stride with my new running friend. We were a good running match and decided to stick together. I sat back thinking the crowds would thin out, and I’d have extra steam at the end.


Mile two was crowded. I knew I couldn’t get stuck running a 9:30 minute mile, so I started playing leap frog. Find a pocket. Run. Get boxed in. Slow down. Repeat.


The game of leap frog continued for the rest of the race.


8:23 (although I am pretty confident this is wrong. I lost satellite connection running under the Kennedy Center)


5 mile race results: 45:49, 9:09 pace

I was feeling great at this point. The running was effortless. The crowds were frustrating, but the views were amazing. We were running past all the highlights of Washington DC. I didn’t even realize we had run 4 miles until someone around me mentioned it. I thought we had run 2.5. Having a running partner on the course helped the miles fly by too. We weren’t talking. We just kept each other going.


10k race results: 56:24, 9:04 pace

The last four miles of the race got tough. It’s two miles along the river and two miles back to the Washington Monument. By mile 7, my legs felt like lead. All the factors that were working against me going into this race started to catch up to me. This is where I decided to fight. I could have sat behind the crowds of runners who were all falling back. I could have settled into my comfort zone and finished with a happy result. I had done some quick mental math at the 10k timing mat, and I thought my sub 1:30 (8:59 pace) goal was out of reach. Then I remembered my speed work from this week. I remember the feeling of finishing a race in my comfort zone. I wasn’t willing to finish this race comfortable. As I felt myself slipping back, I kept reminding myself that every second counts. Be a bad ass. Be a bad ass. Be a bad ass. Every second counts. It’s all I kept repeating in my head while looking for a visual to check off segments of the run.



At mile 8, I did mental math again. I need 8:45s to reach my goal. I just couldn’t get my legs to go that fast. In the last mile, my running friend pulled ahead. I tried hard to hold on, but I had nothing left to give. With a half a mile to go, the dreaded hill to finish line appeared. I wanted to cry. I dropped my arms for every bit of help I could get. I was exhausted. In my head I told myself to imagine my family on the sidelines. I told myself to imagine my coach was watching. The strangers who yelled “go Kristy” were my dearest friends (thank you strangers! Seriously!). I pushed and held on. I finally spotted the finish line and surrender. I left everything I had on the course.



7:19 pace (.15 on garmin)

As I came across the finish line, I saw my garmin. 1:30:02. In my exhaustion I felt tears spilling over. I knew I could run sub 1:30, but had no idea where I could have run different on the course. Maybe if the course had been less crowded, maybe if I hadn’t walked miles all weekend, maybe, maybe, maybe…..

I knew those two seconds would haunt me, but I was so happy with my race. I wanted to cry more and be upset, but I had just raced harder than I had ever raced. The effort I put into this run surpassed all other races. I had every reason to celebrate. I called my husband to find out where he was and he greeted me with a huge congrats. I managed to get out “I tried. I feel like I should be upset, but I’m too exhausted”. That’s when he told me my finish time was under 1:30. I just made it under.

Race clock finish time: 1:29:59, 8:59 pace

Garmin finish time: 1:30:02 for 10.15 miles, 8:53 pace


Every second really does matter. When I told myself this over and over again between miles 7 and the finish, I had no idea how true it would be. When I fought for my race, I had no idea I was fighting for my goal. I was aiming to make myself proud. I wanted to finish without regret. I let go of time expectations and ran with heart.

Every freaking second matters! Every freaking second! Lesson learned!

Shamrock Half- Marathon 2014 Race Report

The story of race day didn’t start the moment I lined up (rather late) in the corral before being welcomed on to the race course. It started back in January when I knew I shouldn’t run any more miles on my ankle. It started in February when I took three weeks off from running to let my ankle heal. During that break, I wondered if I would even find myself on the race course this year. It started in the beginning of March when I ran my one and only 10 mile run since the beginning of December.

Saturday night as I was laying out my clothes for race day, I got a last-minute call from my coach. He was calling to remind me of what I’ve known this whole time: the shamrock half was my starting point. It wasn’t my finish line. He gave me a conservative pacing guide that would allow me to push for a sub 2 hour half marathon if my body was ready for it, but it would also allow me respect my ankle injury and lack of training. I was told if I ran anything faster than a 9:45 for the first mile, he’d knock me upside my head. After the first mile, I was to settle into 9:30s for a few miles, then 9:15s. When I reached the lighthouse, my plan was to ignore my garmin and run whatever my body had to offer. Whether it was a ten minute mile or an eight minute mile, my coach didn’t want me thinking about pace at this point in the race.

I arrived at the oceanfront with just enough time to check my bag and use the bathroom. By the time I made it to the starting corral the first four corrals had started, so I jumped in with the fifth corral. My friends Leah and Laura took off in front of me, and Laura’s husband Travis settled in next to me. Since I was three corrals back from my original corral, the runners around me started slower than my normal. This was perfect for me. I settled in and avoided weaving. After the first mile the crowds thinned out, and I settled into a very comfortable rhythm of running.




After the third mile, the race course takes you down Shore Drive. It’s probably my favorite part of the course. It’s tree lined streets are welcoming. During the fourth mile, I saw my dearest friend Sara (the girl who inspired me to run my first half marathon!). She’s pregnant and was cruising along. It was so great to see her on the course. As I approached the end of Shore Drive and the turn to Fort Story, doubt tried to creep into my head. What if I can’t do this for 13 miles? What if I am in over my head? And as quickly as the doubts appeared, they also disappeared. Another friend showed up in that moment on her bike in her sparkle skirt waving her cow bell. Go Kristy! was all i needed to snap me out of my mental funk.




As I made the turn on to Fort Story, I was greeted by wonderful wind gusts and an overwhelming sense that my race wasn’t about me. I knew my husband would be at mile 10 waiting for me. My mom and dad were at home watching my boys so I could run. I had friends all over the race course fighting for their own personal victories. My race was a joy ride. I was running a half marathon when three weeks earlier I hadn’t run in 21 days. I was contemplating deferring to the next year. Yet here I was running anyways. My body is strong enough and healthy enough to run 13 miles without much training.


The wind was strong on the base. Instead of fighting against it, I decided to let it welcome me. At this point, my legs were getting tired, but I knew I owed to myself, my husband, my parents, my kids and all my friends running that day to push to the finish line.




maybe my favorite race photo ever!
maybe my favorite race photo ever!

The turn off of Fort Story may now be my favorite part of the course (sorry Shore Drive!). After running through the quiet streets of the base, the residents of the North End are a happy sight. I had ten blocks to go before I knew I’d see my husband. As I approached 81st street (our street – the street we lived on, the street where he proposed on the beach, and the street where we said I DO), I realized he wasn’t there. It was okay. The kids were probably a pain in the morning. I’d find him. As soon as I accepted that he wasn’t there, he was there. Blue bike, shamrock hat, and cowbell. He was there to cheer me on. He got a quick high-five, a smile, and a thumbs up. I had run out of steam, but I had to keep going for three more miles.



I found Christian again as I made the turn at the Cavalier hotel. There was no more energy for high fives or smiles even though I was beaming on the inside. He got a thumbs up as I held on to the finish line.


8:21 pace

I was so relieved to make it to the finish line. I was filled with gratitude the moment I finished. I almost gave up on this race. I almost never showed up. I have a running coach who wouldn’t let me discuss it, I have friends who pulled and pushed me along the course. I have a kick ass husband and family. And I just set a PR in my half-marathon. Sure it wasn’t the 1:55 half marathon I intended to train for when I started this journey. But the success of this race is by far sweeter than any I have experienced so far.

I ran happy. My heart was engaged. My legs burned. And I finished feeling oh so very happy!

Official Finish TIme – 2:03:19

Knowing that this is my base for the rest of my running this year gives me hope that I have some really amazing races waiting for me. The post race was filled with so much celebration: goals accomplished, lessons learned, and some really big achievements (both clock related and not clock related) by all of my friends. I really feel so lucky to be part of this amazing community.


Next up, Cherry Blossom Ten-Miler in 20 days!

Surf n Santa 10 miler Race Report

This was one of those races where I had no clue how things would work out. The weather forecast wasn’t looking pretty for this race. In the runs leading up to the race day, my knee had been aching. My original plan was to race the race with the same effort I put into the Turkey Trot 10k two weeks ago. How far could I hold a mid 8 minute/mile pace? When I woke up Saturday morning and saw the sideways rain out my window, I decided to toss my race plan out the window too. My new goal was to finish (with a determination to finish healthy. If my knee hurt for the first 3 miles, I’d turn off and finish with the 5k runners).


The race course was a tough course for cold temps and 20 mph winds from the North. There were two stretches of running north along the ocean with no protection from the wind.

I started the race with my friend Laura. We cruised through the first five miles as planned. I should have studied the map a little closer because I wasn’t prepared to hit the boardwalk during the second mile. I thought we were safe from the wind until mile 5. I was wrong, but this stretch of boardwalk only lasted a half mile before we were back behind the hotels for protection. When we passed the turn off for the 5k finish, my knee was feeling good so I kept going. Just after the turn off, we meet up with another J&A ambassador runner Jess. The three of us ran to the boardwalk together.






When we hit the boardwalk for the almost 3 mile battle against the wind, I knew I was fading. I held on to Laura and Jess as long as I could before I told them to keep going. I told them both to go kick ass, and I’d see them at the finish. I was out of gas (and kicking myself for forgetting to do any of my preface fueling routine. Yes, I completely forgot to put anything in my body prerace). I inhaled my Gu, ducked my head, and made forward movement my goal.



The last mile on the boardwalk really got me. I thought we were turning off at 32nd street, but the race kept moving north along the ocean. I had another half mile to go of fighting the wind. I was getting passed by runner after runner, and I wasn’t passing anyone. They were passing me in waves, and I just couldn’t hang on to anyone. Instead of turning inward, I decided to pull energy from people by cheering them on. I checked on the girl who stopped to stretch. I blocked wind for the Team Hoyt runner who I’d been running with for most of the boardwalk. I cheered on the runners who passed me. It worked. The boardwalk ended, and I had a new determination to make up lost time.


I knew I wasn’t going to break 1:30 on the race clock, but I could still PR in crappy race conditions. I had just over two miles to go once I got off the boardwalk. I needed to run.



I crossed the finish line knowing I ran the race the best I could.

1:30:30 official finish time (9:03 pace)

Garmin finish: 10.13 in 1:30:30 (8:56 pace)

Bob (The Elf) and Me

I’m not going to lie. I was pissed at those 30 seconds when I finished. Could I have fought harder against the wind? I should have fueled my body! Could I have recovered better from my marathon? Should I have run more since my marathon? But today I’m happy with my results. My abs and back are more sore than they have ever been after a race from fighting the wind. My knee started burning at mile 9, and a trip to the medical tent for ice was a must post race. It’s still sore, so I’ll be icing and using ibuprofen for a few days.I fought to hang on, and somedays, that is good enough.

I ended my 2013 race season with one more PR and a determination to get faster. This race confirmed what I already know. It’s time to add some strength training to my routine. Core work has to be a priority. I’m using the rest of December to pamper my knee, actively rest (which means garmin free running for me), and starting to prepare for Shamrock training which will get real in January.

It’s been a great year for running. I’ll have run over 1000 miles by the time 2014 gets here. I’ve PR’ed in every distance I’ve raced this fall. I’m getting stronger at the shorter distances and loving the marathon. I’m still not convinced I like middle distance races (10 milers and half marathons).

2014 holds a lot of promise. For now I have my eye on a Shamrock Marathon and a fall marathon and plan to break 4 hours.

J&A Ambassadors before the race