Category Archives: DC

EX2 Round 3: Fountainhead Adventures

I hereby declare 2013 the year of my affair with EX2 Trail-racing Adventures. Our first run with them was in March, as part of their “Spring Backyard Burn” series, and well – hook, line and sinker – it was love.

Trails are just an entirely different race-beast, energy and feel. There’s nothing to complain about here! You feel the burn on every up and downhill, but just can’t be mad because just take a LOOK around. Like, whoa…

EX2 FBYB_trail

We had the perfect November day for this race. Virginia treated us to sunshine, a high of 50* (why do I continue to think long-sleeves are necessary at these races?!) and the near-peak of fall foliage reds and yellows. The only tricky part was shuffling through the leaves and avoiding a face-plant from hooking a hidden branch, stick or tree root.

We made it through alive, though.

Kate & I opted for the 10-mile race, looping through the 5-mile course twice. The first round was a little tricky since 1) we started about 3 minutes late (um, whoops) and 2) we spent the first 3-4 miles continuously saying “On your left! Two of us…”. We found our groove right as we hit the 4-mile mark and right as I decided it was absolutely insane to be wearing long-sleeves. Rather than waiting for the clearing that I knew had to be coming soon (see above: repeat loop), I decided then-and-there to re-pin my bib onto my tank-top, move my watch and do a wardrobe-change. And as you can probably guess, then-and-there I took my first spill.

Like with cycling, I think trail-running has to come with at least one good fall, right? It’s inevitable. It will happen at some point. Embrace it and hope you get up with all of your teeth intact.

Now that box is checked; no skin or bones were sacrificed.
Thank you, leaves!

The second loop was all clear! I would guess that about 60-70% of people run the shorter option in these races, so when you start the next round you have all the space you need to just GO. The energy? Well that’s a lagging a little bit, but somehow the miles fly by anyway.

Fountainhead provides a great mix of technical trail things like streams, bridges, twists, turns and lakeside views. It has no mercy on your quads, but there’s adrenaline in the challenge.

Suddenly we were greeted with the “0.5 miles to go” sign, which in this particular course means you’re about to CLIMB up, up and up before you reach a clearing and hear the crowd.

EX2 FBYB _ finish Finishing right next to each other, our watch-time (no timing chips here)  was 1:38:35. Far from our fastest 10-mile “run”, but high on my list of favorites anyway.

EX2 FBYB_Group 1

Thank you, EX2, for reliably providing a great course, atmosphere, group of runners and post-run FOOD spread. Check. this. out:

EX2 FBYB_food1  EX2 FBYB_food2
(Not captured: enormous Nutella jar, pizza and breakfast burritos.)


It’s safe to say we’ll be back, and we’re counting down ‘til the next adventure!


Filed under DC, Races, running, trail running

Attack a Weakness: Working Out with Tony Horton (P90X)

Sure, I thought it would be fun to run a 5K this weekend (adios humidity, hello September PR-potential!). Of course I thought it’d be pretty cool to meet Tony Horton – the P90X brain. I didn’t hesitate to jump on a chance to join a “Tweet-Up”…

But no, sir, I am no P90X enthusiast. Confession: I do not bootcamp much these days. I’m not a fan of burpees. My sister has made me do your “Yoga X”and it almost killed me. She can do a pull-up thanks to your workouts, and I can run a 3:34 marathon. Different strengths…right?

Well, Tony, when you said “Yoga is the foundation of youth. I wouldn’t be where I am without Yoga,” tonight, and that “it forces you to work on your weaknesses”?  Well, then I knew we were on the same page. And I knew that your workout might totally demoralize me, but that’s 100% okay.

I definitely have some weaknesses, and there’s only one way to make them strengths. Work it out…


A few of us had the huge privilege of some one-on-one time  (#NPCTweetUpTony) with Tony before the Beat the Deadline 5K workout at the National Press Club tonight. We literally sat around the table with him, exchanging stories, picking his brain, laughing loudly and writing notes furiously. So much to remember! Great quotes! Freaking. Great. Stories.

Quite the character, this fitness guru!

Tony Horton TweetUpTony Horton Group_TweetUp

Then we all headed down to the Ballroom for a “Tony Horton Workout”. He warned us it would be about an hour, which really meant closer to 90 minutes, and actually (luckily) flew by.

Tony horton Workout_X
Tony Horton workout_erika & anne
Thanks for the photo, Erika!

After our warm-up & stretch, it was right into the sweat-sesh! Push-ups, planks, down-dog crunches, MMA/boxing-inspired burpees, side-plank crunches, jump-spins, warrior lunges, banana-crunches-to-boat-pose, more burpees, more push-ups, more planks….

Tony Horton Workout_Plank

This guy can MOVE, but his teaching style seems more yoga-inspired. He offers modifications, encourages you in a great way but also reminds you to do what works for you. Know where you are, and know your limit – then know exactly how far you can push it, and attack your weaknesses.

DONE. Whew.

Tony Horton workout_after

I would workout with him again any time, any day. His motivation is you – he wants you to succeed, to gain strength, to really LOVE physical fitness and to have a blast. His energy is nonstop! As a mostly-runner, this workout shows me a completely different level of exhaustion. But if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.

“The first two letters of NOTHING are “No”. If you say “no” to experiences, you get nothing. If you go for it, you have a story!”


My not-quite-as-weak (now) muscles might still be screaming at me by the time we toe the starting line on Saturday, but it’s worth the burn. Challenge, accepted!

Who else is running / racing / challenging a weakness this weekend? Anyone joining us at the NPC Beat the Deadline 5K?


Filed under challenges, DC, Goals

EX2 Adventure #2: Summer Racing on Schaeffer Trails

I declare 2013 the year of no road-marathons and the beginning of a trail love-affair. Ex2 didn’t have to do much to woo us the first time around, and when I saw the Blue Crab Bolt series open up, the group-email was sent out quickly:

“In for round 2, 10K style?”

Ex2adventures logoBlue Crab Bolt 10K

Four of us trekked up to the Schaeffer farm trail nice and early on Saturday morning, greeted by wide open fields, a cloudy sky and a light mist. The high for the day hovered right around 80*, but the early hour treated us to a cool ~70*.

We’ll file this under: trail race-day perfection.

EX2_Schaeffer trail system

For Race #2 (of 3) in the series, we were led around a mountain bike course. It took us through cornfields, across narrow foot-bridges and into a few streams, along “tons of semi-technical terrain”.  None of us approached this race quite as cautiously as the 10-miler – it was technically at 10.2K, meaning we “only” had 6.3 miles to survive.

No big deal…

Ex2_Swimbikerun photo
Photo credit: SwimBikeRun photography.

There was no easing in, no slow-and-steady pace and no reservations. Mind over matter and ego over logic took us right to the front of the field. The guys were out of sight within the first mile (adios, dudes!), while Kate and I held ourselves together.

By the aid station at Mile 3.x I was consoled by the “halfway there” reasoning; by the time I unknowingly missed the “Mile 4” sign I thought I couldn’t possibly keep up this pace with these hills and a heavy, wet right shoe (skill I do not have: stream-crossing, gracefully). When I finally saw “Mile 5” the feeling of relief was so sweet I took a moment to walk and let it sink in.

With .3 miles to go a fellow racer passed me and said “Finish strong!”.
Alright, fine.

Blue Crab Bolt 10.2K – 55:37
AG (25-29): 2 / 15
Overall: 36 / 161

Our group represented quite well – snatching top 5 spots in both F & M 25-29.

Food swag spread: watermelon, M&Ms, trail mix, donut holes, breakfast burritos, pretzels, grapes, fruit snacks, granola bars, water, soda & Gatorade. Enough to keep us running for more…


We’ll be back, EX2! Keep up the challenging-race-planning work.
If you’re local to MD/DC/VA, these are well worth the money. It’s great to race in such a small pack, to escape the city and seemingly find yourself in the middle of nowhere with some great like-minded people.

Next up: EX2’s Off-Road Half Marathon. We’ve got some training to do…

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Filed under DC, Races, running

Strawberry Spring Salad

A week ago I was running with ear warmers, gloves & my fleece-lined lululemon pants (i.e. the best piece of running gear I’ve ever purchased. Hands down.). This morning, Kate & I headed out at 6 am in shorts & tees, taking pictures like this:

Cherry Blossoms Jefferson 1


Spring has arrived! This means a lot of things – my favorite season is finally here, for one – and the grocery store shelves are reflecting the shift. Thanks to our CSA last year, I know all too well that strawberries must be purchased in season or not at all. Once you taste them fresh off the vine, first thing in the morning at the office, you’ll never go back.

Before this week’s 90* days hit, I hoped I could passive aggressively force spring into action by taking advantage of a fruit sale at TJ’s. On sale? Organic? In April?! PLEASE TASTE GOOD & bring warm weather with you.

Spring strawberry salad 1

If you bring a tasty salad to the menu, too, that’d be great.

Strawberry Spring Salad
Makes 2 servings

5 medium strawberries, sliced & chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1/2 cucumber, halved & sliced
1/2 avocado, chopped
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
Salt/pepper to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinaigrette
2-4 cups organic mixed greens
Optional: chickpeas (or lean protein of choice ), squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Grab a fork, sit on a deck/porch, in a park or right near a window as the sun shines in, and enjoy!


Filed under DC, lunches, recipes, vegetarian

Ex2 Adventure’s Backyard Burn: Trail Racing in Wakefield Park

When we signed up for this race it just flat out did not occur to me to consider the difference between 10 miles on the road vs. the trail. If I have an option of running a 5-mile vs 10-mile race and no “good” reason to not do the latter? I choose 10!

       Backyard Burn Wakefield bib

We totally lucked out with what was deemed the “flattest” course of this Backyard Burn Trail Race Series (5 total). It also seems to have been the least technical, only including “a few shallow stream crossings” and a lot of twisty, windy, up-and-down sections. But, nothing so steep that we had to walk and nothing so deep we had to sacrifice our non-trail running shoes.  Win!

BackyardBurn Wakefield group

We arrived expecting a 60-degree day, but were greeted by a 28-degree morning. Layers = on! It was very well organized; our race-brief began promptly at 8:50 in the parking lot, and we promptly started by lining up in the street and…going!

BackyardBurn Wakefield start

Photo credit: Anne @ Fannetastic Food

The first mile had a few paved parts and a lot of wide spaces – plenty of time and room to make some passes, settle into a pace and get your feet ready to dodge, weave and stream-hop!

BackyardBurn Wakefield stream

Photo credit: Anne @ Fannetastic Food

Kate, Jill & I took it pretty easy and settled into a line. The course was a 1 mile start followed by a 4.5 mile loop that us 10-milers would do twice:

Round 1 was a lot of head-down, don’t-fall, conserve-some-energy running! When we closed in on the Finish Line and were directed toward Round 2, it was go-time.

I settled into the front of our line and took advantage of the space ahead. Knowing what to expect on a trail makes a big difference! It had warmed up enough that I shed a layer, and we had sped up enough that our second loop was an average 1-min/mile faster than the first.

There was one steep up-hill section within the last 1.5 miles that stole any energy I might have held onto. Lesson learned: don’t sprint up those. The last 0.5 mile was flat, open, leave-it-all-out-there terrain. I chased Kate across the Finish line….

1: 25: 55 – 10 trail miles – 8:35 min/mile

…immediately thought I might vomit, and then thought I am definitely doing another one of those.

Aside from dirt, climbs, streams and rock-hopping, the main difference between a road vs. trail race is this:

BackyardBurn Wakefield food

Food swag!


Color us muddy & impressed – we had a great time! It was a small group of 400 runners that very graciously spent some time in close quarters on the trails of Wakefield Park, VA. I’ll definitely be back for another run in the woods!


Filed under DC, Goals, running