Race Recap: Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run

Last Sunday, while Mer was being blown all around the Atlantic City Boardwalk, I was being similarly assaulted by the breeze down in DC. The Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run, the annual spring time 10 miler in the DC area, the other bookend to the Fall’s Army 10-miler, and the kickoff to what many consider training season for summer and fall races, was a bit of a blustery affair.

Having looked at the forecast the week of the run, I knew going in that it was likely to be a bit chilly. Temps were predicted to be in the low 40s and the weatherpeople kept mentioning that mayyyybe there’d be snow. Or sleet. Definitely cold. I was (mostly) mentally prepared.

Saturday evening, before the race, participants received an email notifying us that due to the weather conditions we would be facing:

  • Elimination of all race signage and overhead structures at the start and finish lines
  • Elimination of all on-course signage including split time clocks
  • Elimination of all tents on the Washington Monument Grounds except for the bag check tent and the main medical tent
  • Elimination of pre-race warm-ups and post-races awards ceremony

Having been feeling mostly “meh, it’ll be cold, but it won’t be too bad” about the race, I was rudely awakened by these changes. I checked the weather again and to my horror surprise, I saw that in addition to a new predicted temperature of 37 degrees, there would be wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour.

Say what?

Dude. That’s miserable. And cold. And it’s April why is winter back?! I texted my boyfriend and suggested that he would want to dress warm in the morning. Being from Florida, this kid has no winter running anything… so I dug out an extra pair of running/ski pants for him to wear and he found a sweatshirt that was running friendly.

The next morning dawned bright and clear… and effing cold. I had on more layers than I ever run in (I get hot really fast and hatehatehate that feeling, so I usually minimize as much as possible). We planned to arrive at the start with just enough time to drop our bag and get in a corral in order to minimize the amount of time spent standing around. Our metro ride into the city was filled with dread and the ardent desire to turn around and crawl back in a warm bed.


Clay’s face pretty much says it all…

Fortunately, our planning worked well and when we got off the metro at the National Mall, we were able to jet over to the starting area, drop off our stuff and shiver our way into our corral. We only waited about three minutes before our wave started and then we were off. I don’t think I’ve ever been so grateful to run that early in the morning ever – moving helped us warm up pretty quickly.

The first couple of miles were tough, as I was fighting cold muscles and a cold body in general, but our intervals (run a mile, walk a minute) worked well for our pacing and before long we fell into a comfortable stride. The wind was a nuisance a lot of the time, though, threatening to blow off our hats or working against us as we ran up the Potomac near the Kennedy Center.

As we came back around to the Tidal Basin, we crossed the halfway point and were feeling pretty good. Some brave souls came out to cheer and were pretty loud at this area as it’s also where runners return to finish. It was great to have the crowd support and to people watch as we went by.

Hitting mile 6, my knee began to twinge a bit – I’ve been dealing with some Runner’s Knee for the past month or so, which has made training somewhat tricky. Running intervals for this race was really key for me to be able to run strong, as just when my knee would feel really tight, it would be time to walk a bit.

The second half of the race takes runners around Haines Point, which is really pretty, but very windy. Part of it had the wind at our backs, though, and that was just the extra umph we needed to push for the finish line.

As we came back to the Washington Monument, the sprint to the finish was real. I was ready to be done, go home, take a hot shower and brunch hard. We crossed the finish line together and immediately put that plan in to motion.

Victorious. And cold.

Victorious. And cold.

All in all, despite the chill and the wind, it was a beautiful day to run in DC. And I had the best running partner. For not feeling very trained, this race was comfortably paced and a good shakeout for summer marathon training. I’ll be playing with my race strategies this summer, so playing with intervals and speed work will be on the schedule. I’m looking forward to what this race season brings!

Show ‘Em Your Rack, A Tutorial

A while back, I posted about my plan to make a medal rack and share it with you, and this weekend, the planets finally aligned to allow me the time to get my craft on. Of course, there are a few things that always make DIY projects better.

Things like a snowy morning.


And Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Colin Firth IS Mr. Darcy.

So, now that we’re all in agreement on that, let’s proceed, shall we? Here’s what you’ll need for this project:



Wood plaque of your choice                                            Chalkboard Paint                                                        Magnetic Clips

Primer                                                                                       2 Coat Hooks                                                                 Aluminum or Tin Strip

Paint Tinted color of your Choice                                Picture Frame Hook and Nails


Hammer                                                                                  Ruler                                                                              Level

Pencil                                                                                       Marker                                                                           Sandpaper or Sanding Block

Drill  or Screwdrivers                                                       Painter’s Tape                                                             Bristle Paintbrush

Foam Tip Paint Brush                                                      Fine Tipped Paint Brush for Touching Up


Step 1: Using a fine grit sandpaper or sanding block, lightly sand any rough areas on your wood piece. Pay attention to edges and corner in particular.

Step 2: Using a piece of paper, make a template for your chalkboard area to help you decide where you want it on your plaque. Once you have decided on placement, mark the corners with a pencil.

Step 2

Step 3: Using a ruler and pencil, outline the desired area. Make sure your lines are straight and centered. Tape off the inside of your area with painters tape. Later you will paint the inside of your rectangle with chalkboard paint.


Step 4: Paint your plaque with primer. Be careful not to get any in the taped off area. Let dry.


Step 5: Paint over the primer with your tinted paint. Let dry.


Step 6: Paint a second coat of your colored paint. Once it’s dry, remove the painter’s tape.


Step 7: Tape off the painted area around your chalkboard area. Paint the bare wood with two coats of primer. Allow each coat to dry thoroughly, and sand lightly between coats. This will help ensure a smoother writing surface once the chalkboard paint is applied.


Step 8: Apply two coats or chalkboard paint, allowing each coat to dry completely between coats.


Step 9: After the chalkboard paint is dry, remove the tape. Touch up any areas with a small tipped paint brush if needed.


Step 10: Affix the tin strip (or pieces, as the case may be). Decide where you want your bibs to hang, and using a pencil, outline the strip. Nail in place. I had some tin tiles laying around my house, and used tin snips to cut them to the desired shape and size.

tin Collage

Step 11: Affix the picture frame hanger on the back. First, find the center of your plaque and mark it with a pencil. Then, find the center of the hanger and mark it with a marker. Next, align the two marks and nail your hanger to your plaque.

hanger collage

Hanger Collage 2

Step 12: Affix your medal hooks. Decide where you want them to go, and mark the screw holes with a pencil. It’s easier to start the holes using a drill and a bit. Using the hardware that came with your hooks, attach them to your plaque.


hook Collage

Step 13: Celebrate because YOU ARE DONE. And you rock! All that is left to do is hang your new medal rack. Then, attach your bibs to the clips and hang your bling from the hooks. Look how awesome you are!

I had my magnetic clips a little crooked in this shot, but you get the idea.

I had my magnetic clips a little crooked in this shot, but you get the idea.

finished Collage


I am loving how this project turned out. Now, I just need more medals to hang from it!

How do you display your medals? Have you made your own rack, or anything else, for that matter? Tell me all about it in the comments!

Show Me Your (Medal) Rack!

The medal is one of the best things about racing, right? We work so hard for them, and they represent our big accomplishment. I don’t know about you, but if I had 5 minutes to evacuate my house, my medals are coming with me. It’s only right that they are given an honored place in our homes and are handsomely displayed. Just like our dreams should be.

Cam's Wall of Triumph

Cam’s Wall of Triumph


Meri's bib board (a few years back)

Meri’s bib board (a few years back)

But my two half marathon medals deserve a nice rack on which to be proudly displayed. Currently, my two medals are in my office at work, hanging from a coat hanger.

It's tragic.

It’s tragic.

Since I like to make stuff I’ve decided to make a rack myself. I went to Michaels today and got a nice 12×16 wood  blank plaque that I can do whatever I like to!

And a coloring book because of reasons.

And a coloring book because of reasons.

The thing is, what to do? I found some inspiration (thank you, Pinterest), and imagine I will incorporate some of these elements into my rack.  I love this one because you can use any old shelf or hard surface since you’ll cover it with the bibs using Mod Podge. We love upcycling!


This one I liked because it’s so beautiful you could display your bling anywhere in the house!


I will probably end up using a little chalkboard paint because I like having the option to track times or to just write myself a note to stay motivated.


I can’t wait to get started on this project! I’ll share the progress in Instagram, but please share photos of your rack. Or pile. Or coat hooks. Lemme see what creative ways you’re honoring your bling!

Wineglass Half Marathon & tube sock mittens

I’ve wanted to run the Wineglass Half Marathon in upstate New York since it was launched back in 2011.

Wine, a (mostly) downhill race course and a glass medal.

That’s a no-brainer.

But it never really fit into my fall training schedule – until now. It was well worth the wait.


I ran the 13.1 mile course from Campbell to Corning morning with much of my running group –Traci, Gary, Ray, Mark and Andy.

Most of us decided to skip the two-day expo in at the Corning Museum of Glass and instead, wake up insanely early to hit the road from Rochester well before dawn. I loved that race organizers allowed us to collect our bibs at the start line and our goody bags at the museum after the race.

It was still dark when we drove the 90+ minutes south, dropping Mark at the highway’s Bath exit so he could log an extra 5.5 miles before the race. We parked near the finish line in Corning and, after a waiting in a lengthy line of shivering runners, hopped a bus to the start area in Campbell.

This was the first year runners were required to travel by bus to the starting lines – previously, runners were allowed to park near the start and return post-race. We were among the last to reach the starting area, but race organizers waited until everyone arrived before kicking off the race, even though it meant starting our run about 15 minutes late.

wineglassmittensPosing with my homemade mittens on the bus. I felt brilliant for coming up with this one. No worries on tossing these “gloves.”

And Sunday was chilly – just 33 degrees before we started running, so the extra throwaway layers we brought along were vital. And me? I decided to take it one step further with my lovely tube sock mittens. I created thumbholes and kept my frigid fingers toasty for much of the run.

In the mass of 3,000 half-marathoners milling at the start, Mark and I somehow spotted each other near the 2-hour pacers. The race began moments later as we chatted race strategy.

We were off.

The first few miles were crowded and hard to get a good pace going – but rather than weave around other runners, we hung back and waited for it to clear, then we bolted. Side by side, Mark and I settled into our race pace and decided to just run how we felt. We’d aim for sub 9s for as long as we felt strong. If we hit a wall, we’d slow down.

Time really didn’t matter to us. We were just there to run.

As our feet slapped the pavement, we both felt fantastic. We chatted as we ran, high-fived most children we encountered, thanked numerous volunteers and police officers and cheered for other runners. We even pointed out different picturesque spots along the course, many with colorful fall foliage over waterways.

Sometimes everything comes together on race day. Sunday was one of those days.

Around mile 11, Mark noted that we were on pace for 1:57ish finish (which is my PR) and I decided to pick up my pace to try for an even better time.

We spotted a running friend in the last mile and Mark encouraged me to sprint to the end as he ran in with our friend. I did. I pushed. I pushed hard.

I sprinted that last 1/4 mile, gritting my teeth as I crossed the finish on my unsteady legs.

wineglassfinishDONE! I appear surprised to see a camera at the finish. HA! And I still have the mitten-socks on.

Success! I finished in 1:56.37, a new Personal Record by nearly a minute. But better than that, was running with friends, who were all pleased with how they fared. Traci also ran her fastest half-marathon time. Way to go, lady!

wineglassgroupCelebrating our finish. From left, Mark, Traci, me, Ray and Gary

After the run, we each received a coveted glass medal. And we were treated to post-race goodies, including my fave chocolate milk and Wegmans chicken noodle soup.

Post-race we also had the chance to take a nice warm shower at the Corning YMCA (I did, ah!) before we collected our goody bags from the still-running expo. I was initially worried that I wouldn’t get the correct shirt size by waiting until after the run to collect my items. Not an issue.

Highlights in the bag included the race shirt, (Asics! Women’s cut! Long-sleeved! Huzzah!) a small bottle of bubbly and a wine glass. (Note, I meant to take a pic of this and got distracted. I’ll share one later.)

And if you want to read more about how others fared at Wineglass, here’s my work blog on Sunday’s race.

Have you ever run a race after skipping the expo? What’s the coldest temp at a start line that you’ve faced? How did you cope? Tell me in the comments

So, have you heard of Ragnar?

I like to run.  I like to run with friends.  But when it comes to spending over thirty hours in two vans with eleven other sweaty, smelly, exhausted runners, all while covering almost two hundred miles…I AM AN ADDICT.

The Ragnar Relay Series takes the solitary sport of running and turns it into a team event.  Basically it goes down like this: a team of twelve rents two vans and takes turns leapfrogging through a two hundred mile course over two days.  Each runner takes on three legs of the race and each leg is about 5-7 miles long. Run. Sleep. Repeat.  Crazy, right?  YES!  What are you waiting for?  Being a Ragnar Ambassador, I’ve spoken with lots of people about Ragnar.  And I’ve heard lots of excuses.

My Mantra

Excuse #1 – I’m not ready for a Ragnar.

I am not a fast runner. I’m not an athlete.  I average a 13 minute mile.  I wear a size 14.  I am not “ready” for Ragnar.  But this April, I will complete my sixth race.  I am the slowest runner on my team but I am consistent.  I do my best, run my miles, and I contribute like everyone else.  If I can do this, anyone can.  I never in a million years thought I’d be able to run something like Ragnar.  But I did.  Five times.  And so can you.

Napa 2011

Excuse #2 – I can’t afford it.

Yeah, it’s expensive.  Especially if you have to travel.  But think of it this way: Ragnar is a  great way to see the rest of country.  There are Ragnar Relays all over the United States and one in Canada.  Ragnar also just started the Trail Series, where you run trails instead of streets and camp instead of drive from one exchange to the next.  How much would you spend to go sightseeing in your favorite city?  And how much of that city would you actually get to see?  I’ve raced in Washington, Las Vegas, Southern California, Napa Valley, and I am just dying to get on an East Coast team.  Turn your race into a runcation and see the country like you’ve never seen it before.

The Start Line at Las Vegas 2012. I had no idea Vegas could be so cold!

Taking time to enjoy the scenery in Washington.

On the beach in San Diego 2011

Excuse #3 – I don’t have 11 friends who run.

Really, you only need 5.  Each team of 12 is split into two vans.  While Van 1 runs, Van 2 is resting and vice versa.  If you can fill one van, chances are you can find someone else who can fill the other.  You can also find runners on the Ragnar site who are looking to fill those spots.  Our team, N.W.A, Ninjas with Attitude has had literally dozens of members. It’s a great way to make new friends from across the globe.

Las Vegas 2012

Northwest Passage 2012

SoCal 2012

Excuse #4 – I like to compete on my own and I need a challenge.

This is probably the best thing about Ragnar.  It’s designed for all fitness levels.  Do you want twenty miles on 3 hours of sleep?  We have a leg for you!  Do you want hills at one in the morning?  We have a leg for you too!  Do you want it all?  If you eat marathons for breakfast, you can join or create an Ultra team.  Instead of 12 people, you run with 6.  That means you can run like 50 miles over two days on very little sleep.  How’s that for a challenge?

Ultra Team Risky Business. They ran the whole thing in their UNDERWEAR. That’s hardcore!

While other’s slept, we ran!

So now that I’ve killed your excuses, here’s the one BIG reason why you should run Ragnar.  You become part of a community.  There are teams that compete for time and there are teams that run dressed in drag.  It doesn’t matter.  We’re all running the same course and it’s all about personal goals.  We’re in this together.  When you cross that finish line with your team, it doesn’t matter if you were the fastest or the slowest, if you puked or cried, you finished.  You’re a Ragnarian.

We represent!

Double medals, baby!

If you want more information, click the link to www.ragnarrelay.com.  There are videos, maps, blogs, stories and all kinds of good fun.  Find your Ragnar and I’ll see you on the course.  You might not see me, though.  Because I’m a ninja.