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So what’s the plan?

I thought by now, 2 weeks after my marathon, I’d have a clear-cut idea about what is next but the truth is, I still haven’t figured it out! There are so many options and so many things I want to try. First, here are two possible events on both ends of the intensity-spectrum:

Ragnar Relay: The Ragnar Relay is “the overnight running relay race that makes testing your limits a team sport. A team is made up of 6-12 individuals; each individual runs 3 legs. The legs of the race vary in difficulty and distance, from 3-8 miles, allowing elite and novice runners to run together. Over 2 days and 1 night, teams run across 200 miles of the country’s most scenic terrain.” There is even a DC race! I have a friend in California that just did the San Diego race this past weekend, and I’m excited to hear all about how she liked it! I wonder if I have any friends out there who would be willing to do this with me; otherwise, you can sign up as a single and find a team. Even though there is probably time to try for an entry onto a team at the end of September, it’s more likely I’ll wait until next year (but who knows!)

Color Run: On the totally light-hearted and fun end of the spectrum is the Color Run, which is the “happiest 5k on the planet.” Here is how it works… you wear white and each kilometer of the event is associated with a color and  “as the runners hit the Kilometer Zones, they will be blitzed with color.” The Color Run is for everyone and anyone, and is “less about speed and more about enjoying a color crazy day with your friends and family.” There will be a race in DC (registration opens soon!) This would be a great race to do with some friends, I even know of some girl friends that have expressed some interest.

Now, here are two “normal” Virginia running events on both ends of the amount-of-people spectrum:

Richmond  Marathon/Half Marathon: I have been looking into the Richmond Marathon and Half Marathon event which takes place in November. I was supposed to do the half marathon last year, but was so burned out after an awful, awful 10-miler that I ended up just skipping it in favor of rest. Anyways, now Richmond is a serious contender for my next big race. It’s close by, it’s flat, and it’s well-known and well-organized. The Richmond Marathon has been featured in Runner’s World multiple times, listed as “America’s friendliest marathon” and also in “Best Little Marathons.” But the question remains whether I want to do the half marathon and try for a better time (the first half marathon I did was in May 2011) or go for the marathon, with one of the hilliest and a not-for-first-timers marathons already under my belt. There is over 6 months until the race, so I have time to think about it (given that most training plans are around 4 months long).

Marine Corps Marathon: I would love to run at least one of the big marathons at some point in my life (New York, Chicago, Marine Corps), which can have as many as 40,000+ runners. (As a point of comparison, Charlottesville was limited to 3,500 runners combined for both events, and I believe a little under 500 people finished the marathon). This year, the Marine Corps Marathon sold out it’s 30,000 spots in record time, under 3 hours! Incredible! This was the marathon that my grandpa ran for his 50th birthday also. So this will be in the back of my mind as a possibility to try for in 2013.

In the meantime, I’ve been running a few days a week, mostly short runs, just to keep my fitness level up. I thought not having a ‘plan’ would make me feel a little lost or confused, but for the most part it’s been pretty nice – I don’t have to plan my weekends around my runs like I had been for the past 4+ months. I can also consider signing up last minute for shorter races since I already have a decent running base (such as Pacers or Potomac River Running events).

So there you have it, a little update into some things I’ve been thinking about. Since fall marathon season is in October/November on the east coast, I’ll know by June whether I’ll be training for another marathon, half marathon, or waiting until next year.

Week 10 + 5k race

I had a good week, but a great weekend! On Friday, I got to have dinner with my lovely friend Emily, and then we hung out with our buddies Cody, Dan, and Ted – these are friends from high school, some things just never change! Then on Saturday, I ventured out to run 17 miles. I was nervous… I had skipped my 13.1 miles last weekend because of my injury, so I didn’t know how that would effect me, but luckily, I was still able to just bust it out. Did some pre- and post-run Panera bagel again (mmmm!) and also alternated with Peanut Butter Gu and Chocolate Outrage Gu. The Peanut Butter is a new flavor and apparently people were going NUTS for it so I thought I’d love it, but I wasn’t that into it! Luckily I only bought two packets and not an entire box (like I did with the chocolate, which is still my favorite!) My pacing has actually gotten a lot better than it was just recently. I was able to stop being so excited about running for hours and hours (HA!) and slowed it down to make sure I wouldn’t burn out before the end. So the pace I did, 11:17 min/mile, which is still a liiiiittle quick for this long run (which you run slower than the runs during the week), is much closer to how I should be training. 🙂 And yes, I ran for over THREE HOURS, woah! I could’ve watched all of Titanic in that time, sheesh!

Since Matt was coming into town Saturday night for a surprise birthday party of some mutual friends (HAPPY BIRTHDAY STEVEN AND BRIAN!), I didn’t have much time to really rest up, relax, and most importantly… nap, after the run. I had to go pick up my race packet for my race the next day (more on that in a minute), shower, paint my toenails since they were looking particularly “runner”-like… So we went to the surprise party at a bar nearby which started at 6pm, and by 8pm I was exhausted. It was so much fun to see all my old college friends again and hang out with them, and also earn back all those calories I burned on my run by eating mozzarella sticks and a chicken club sandwich (yum yum, bar food)!

On Sunday morning, I did a race called Love the Run You’re With 5k, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day! It. Was. Cold. Like much colder than I imagined it was going to be – oh, and windy. (I got there at 8am and the race started at 9am.) BUT, it was a great time, and I also GOT a great time! I got a PR (Personal Record) in the 5k of 26:05 – which is the fastest I’ve EVER gone. To put it in perspective, my previous PR was 29:31 and the first 5k I did back in like August 2010 or something was around 32 minutes, something seconds. So for 3.1 miles, my time has gotten dramatically better! The course was what I’d call flat (others might not, but considering what I’ve been trying to train on for Charlottesville, it was flat), so I was putting forth the amount of effort I do on a hilly route but ended up going much faster since it was so flat and even some downhills (oh, the perks of training on hills). So even though I was skeptical about racing the day after a 17 mile run, it went well for me! I also lucked out and got to meet two online-running buddies in person for the first time, YAY! It was great to meet you guys, Max and Steph, I hope we run into each other again soon at another local race 🙂

The blanket that all of the race participants got, so cute!

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As it is Valentine’s Day weekend, it is worth mentioning that I had a great Valentine’s weekend with my boyfriend Matt. Since we live in different cities, we can’t celebrate on Valentine’s Day (but who wants to celebrate on a Tuesday anyways anyways haha), so we celebrated this weekend when he came into town.

In the spirit of Valentine’s day, I present to you a throwback picture (you can click on it to view it larger):

This is Matt and I at a Valentine's date function in college in 2008 when we had just started dating - our first picture together

...And this is Matt and I (in basically the same pose) on this past New Year's, welcoming in 2012!

I normally wouldn’t be lovey-dovey on my running blog, but I will make an exception for Valentine’s Day because I happen to have the sweetest boyfriend in the world – I am seriously one lucky girl. Matt, I love you so much, Happy Valentine’s Day, and here’s to many more to come!