Category Archives: Races

Charlottesville Marathon Recap: Up, On & Over

“It’s not your grace in victory that defines you, but your response to defeat.”

MC {So wise, this guy.}


I crossed my fifth Marathon finish line, felt more defeated by those 26.2 miles than any other race to date, and processed the ins and outs for 48 hours. Now that I’m over the little tantrum that is accepting a race-gone-crazy, I realize those miles taught me quite a lot.

learn from failure dream a little bigger


This marathon neither hides nor spares nothing. The hills of Charlottesville will sprinkle salt on your ego and chew it right up! In no review of this race will you hear anyone saying “it’s so easy!”, but rather “be ready” for what’s ahead. “It’s a beast.” Know that yes, you can have a great day on any course, including this, but it won’t be handing out any favors.

It WILL hand you a unique and picturesque college town conducive to great eats, beautiful scenery and runners with a lot of heart.


I went into this race with a few goals in mind, but training the way I did left a lot of room for questions.  The Coach and I decided that, if nothing else, I needed to start easy (because that’s what you do when there are at least three hours of running ahead of you!), and see how all systems responded to the course.  Because I’m no newbie to this whole shebang – I know what it’s like to blow-up, and I can expect that and accept it and hope-with-all-hope my legs put up with it – it was also okay to have a lofty time in mind.

After what has felt like the longest winter EVER, we had a 50* and sunny morning for race day. The high was 65 – essentially this was perfect. For a system used to a few more layers and a lot less warmth? This was, uh, new. But that’s what you get with Spring marathons and that’s what we took. No gloves, no ear-warmers, no sleeves – exactly what’s expected when you think of “wonderful Spring” mornings.

cvillemarathon_before   cvillemarathon_startLine

Elevation Chart_Chartlottesville Marathon

“Easy” for today meant sticking right around the 8:45 min/mile pace for at least the first 10K. The course is split by the following sections, though: 1-5 with the half-marathoners, 6-12 loop, 13-18 out-n-back, 19-20 too close to the Finish Line area downtown, 21-23 out along the river, 24-25 UP up up, 26-26.2 finish with whatever juice you can squeeze out of those legs.

I’m at the base of the mountain running uphill
You’re either running for the top,
coming down,
or you stand still.

Miles 1-4: told me very quickly that if an 8:45 felt like this, it would be tough to drop down to 8:15s, but maybe not impossible once I warmed up. Miles 2-4 felt like a pretty steady climb, and my calves started to fight me. We’ll call that Sign #1 that this day would not be totally mine.

Mile 4 was the first family sighting, as we approached the Full-Half split (mile 5) and headed towards our own separate challenges.

cvillemarathon_mile4.2  Marathoners took a turn towards the UVA campus and started up another climb.

Miles 5 – 12 took us around the University, into a neighborhood and back. It was rolling and I fell into a stride and everything seemed A-OK. The photographic-memory knew things would be tough from here on out but I was still in a place of peace with that. Will this be a PR? Absolutely not. But it’s a marathon day, so you fight the battles in front of you.

Mile 13 couldn’t come soon enough – I needed that “halfway point”. When it did show up, I quickly saw “Mile 18” on the other side. And shortly after that? We started down Down DOWN a paved trail that twists and turns and drops you off into another neighborhood. I witnessed Elites coming up the other side, struggling. And a few stopped for water. And I thought, “Holy Whoa, this won’t be easy.”

Way up, way on
Way UP, ON and OVER

Miles 14 – 18 almost broke me. Look at that chart and you’ll know why; it was hard to swallow that we’d have to run it all TWICE (out-and-back). There were switchbacks and long miles and the sinking feeling that you still have 12, 11, 10, 9…miles to go. And that you’re counting.

Then, after that loop has snot-rocketed your ego to the dirt, you still have EIGHT miles to run. And those eight miles ain’t easy either, yo!

Are you sensing a trend?


In more moments than I cared to count, I considered stopping right here at mile 20. I knew I’d see the crew, that he would be ready to hop in with me (after running a freaking killer 1:34 half + hangin’ out for an hour), that Meg would be cheering and that we were only blocks from the  “Finish” area.

Ambivalence defined these moments. I couldn’t even project to an hour after the race, or that evening, or tomorrow and assume that I’d be disappointed. I felt I wouldn’t be. I’m almost always able to convince my mind that it’s worth fighting the moment’s fantasy of fatigue to get the satisfaction later. Not today. There was no fight, no goals, no oomph. It was just the matter-of-fact that I hadn’t trained for this course and it wasn’t “my” day. That happens. It’s fine.

And after all and all and all
It’s just a wheel we’re spinnin’ on.

What’s not fine is totally dropping the ball, anyway.  C’MON SYSTEM, we’ve gotta see this through.

He hopped in here (mile 2o) to join the party that is the last 10k…

This last loop was also the end of the half-marathon, so I got his insight – what to expect and where to expect it. We stopped briefly at the mile 22(ish) water stop, and I did a little mental check. I also got his stories for a much-needed distraction, and his pacing efforts for a much-needed boost.  One thing I knew to be true no matter what the race-day conditions: my legs have been trained for these miles. They’ve been tested over and over and taught to run through fatigue and resist with all they’ve got! Every recovery run after a Long Run, followed by the “one hour easy” Monday run brought me to these last 4 miles. I may not be flying up or down the hills, but I can absolutely run.

Miles 22 – 24 were the flattest of the entire day. We ran right along a river – with shade and cool air from the water, but without crowds – and I passed people as I let the muscles do what they could. We maintained somewhere around an 8:50 – 9:00 pace and that was that.

Miles 24-25 were demoralizing. This is THE HILL. Any glance at this race’s course chart provokes one of those “What the…” reactions – are they really throwing this in at the end?! Rude, man. So. Rude.

Me to him: “And the worst part? You can’t even justify this by telling yourself it’s the last hill. ‘Cause it’s not!”

I walked up this beast (probably just slightly slower than I would have run), until I was passed by the 4-hour pacer. Nope! That wasn’t going to happen. I picked up my feet and convinced them to push off and we ran. And we rolled over the remaining hills and listened to the crowd saying “Almost there!” and “one more hill!” and “just around the corner!” and we kept going until finally there were NO more and that Finish Line was crossed.

cvillemarathon_mile26 So close so close so close SO CLOOOOOOSE.


And just-like-that, it’s over. Relief pours into every muscle fiber to tell them they’re done, it’s time to relax and put on some flip-flops, and they’re still alive.

Charlottesville Marathon – 4/5/2014


Funny story: after grabbing some food, water and other life elixirs, I heard them start to announce AG winners. My name was called for F25-29 2nd place, and I started laughing –  there’s no way – and thinking, that’s your clear sign that this course is no joke! cvilledone_certificates

Left: what?! …I ran a…how is this…HUH?!
Right: Man, what a weird day.

As it turned out later, those announcers were pretty far off! I was actually 7th in the AG. Our AG winner ran a 3:40:xx.


cvillemarathon_Crew   cvillemarathon_watch

Would I do this course again? Definitely not the Full, but maybe the half just for a good hard challenge and an excuse to hang out in Charlottesville again!

I’m glad the box is checked. As I’ve been reminded in the days that followed, it’s not how you respond to success(es) that define you, it’s how you handle, and perhaps admit, the days of defeat. Learn the lessons, take them with you on every subsequent training run, and then the race(s).

Fuel the fire that will light up your legs for
whatever limit you plan to push past next.

Up, On & Over – Bronze Radio Return


Filed under challenges, learning, marathon, race report, Races, running

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, race report, Races, running, running buddy, trail running

Early Twelve & EX2 Trails

Winner of the Love Grown Foods LOVE’n Giveaway: Ann Paquette-Lukens. More info coming at ya soon!


When you have an opportunity to join* a friend for one of their last marathon training runs? Sure. IN! When you both decide (*convince each other) to do it on Friday morning, because, well, it works and we can make it happen? Even better. When DC decides it should be 75* on November 1st? Something’s up, but I won’t question it.

11.1 12 miler 1

As it turns out, the trails are DARK these days. Noted, DC. We modified our 12-mile route a little bit to go through Georgetown instead of using the Mt. Vernon trail. A late Halloween night at Markoff’s (holy.terror.) and the threat of rain both brewed in our minds as possible run-deterrents, but the why not attitude kicks in and you know you’ll be glad it’s done when it’s done.

And why not love on the DC sites a little bit while at it?

11.1 12 miler WWII

11.1 12 miler capitol

Photo credits: Fannetastic Food.

The power and motivation of a running buddy/good friend along for a ride – and in this case, checking a training-plan box – never ceases to amaze me. Would I have put in 12 miles today on my own? Pshh, No. Was I happy to join Anne for a random Friday morning adventure? Absolutely.

Cheers, gal. You’ve got this Richmond Marathon training-thing DOWN!


Next up: joining EX2 Adventures for a third date this year, a la their Backyard Burn Fall race series! Megan, Kate & I are heading to Fountainhead, VA on Sunday for another round with the 10-mile trail race. There are no goal times or PRs to break, which in my mind is the beauty of a trail race. Instead, you run it for a challenge to the legs, feet and mind, for fun, and obviously for the amazing food spread afterward.


Who else has a race on the agenda this weekend?

(I can think of a few thousand people who will be toeing a very different type of start line on Sunday – Run STRONG, NYC!)

Leave a Comment

Filed under DC, Races, running, running buddy

MCM 10K & LGF (Super Oats) GIVEAWAY

There has been quite a bit of running going on here lately. What do we runners do? Eat to run. Today we do a little bit of both.


It felt a little odd to be out of the marathon loop throughout the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) weekend, but I know this was a great step back for me. The first time I had anything to do with MCM was in 2009; as I rode the Metro and pinned on my 10K bib, I felt simultaneously in awe of and daunted by the fact that most of the runners around me were about to run an additional twenty  miles. I mean, WHAT? What would that even feel like? How nervous were they? Did they think I had it easy? Because I sure did.

And this year, after two back-to-back MCM finishes, I know how both sides feel. When I was trained and ready, I wouldn’t have traded a single thing to finish all 26.2 miles on those days. When I signed up for Sunday’s 10K option, it would have taken a LOT of convincing to go beyond the 6.2 miles I had on deck.

Every MCM race (10K & 26.2’s) has been a PR for me.
Those are big shoes to fill.

When we lined up on the mall and “only” had to run by the Capitol, over THE bridge (oh.that.bridge), quickly through Crystal City & right on the highway to Iwo Jima, I felt grateful for this 6.2 mile way to still be a part of this race. Happy to be in this city, on this {perfectly sunny} day, with (so many of) these runners and marines. As always, nicely done, MCM.

MCM13_Washington monumentMCM13_Capital Sunrise

GOOD MORNING, DC. You’re a beauty.


Kate & I lined up with the expected “40-49:xx” finish group, which felt a little too close to the very front. The only other option was sub 39:59, so, go with it? We did. We got started with a 7:20 min/mile and kept it right there. I raced in my Mizuno Wave-Sayonaras for the first time; my calves are still on fire but during the run these gals felt great.

We stayed together the whole race, joined by a familiar pacer at mile 4.5 who initially ran with us, until he ran just a few steps ahead. Chase you? Well alright, FINE. The last two miles were our fastest, with or without energy to thank him for it. “RUN UP THAT HILL!” Aye aye, Captain!


In true MCM fashion, I have a new PR for the books (4-for-4!).

Marine Corps Marathon 10K – 2013
45:32 – avg. 7:19 min/mile

Overall: 191  of   7,605
AG (25-29F): 18  of   905
Division (F): 44  of   4,761

MCM13_10K finishers
MCM13_10K group1

Next year’s race is a lottery; I’ll be throwing all of my cards in for that one.


Until then, it’s time to FUEL UP! With LOVE? Yes, of course.

My favorite foodie friends at LOVE GROWN FOODS are hosting a giveaway while announcing their newest LOVE fuel: Super Oats! These are a dream.

What makes the oats SUPER? They contain gluten-free oats, chia seeds, quinoa and amaranth. If you want to up the ante, go with the Nuts & Seeds option.

What makes the Love Grown Foods team Super?
As usual, they’re sharing the love with YOU, too:


FINE PRINT: Must live in the United States to participate.

Hot Oats and Super Oats are available in The Fresh Market, Kroger, City Market, King Soopers, QFC, Fred Meyer, Dillons, Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, Sprouts, and select regions of Whole Foods.

ENTER TO WIN: 2 bags of SUPER OATS (one of each flavor), 1 bag of Oat Clusters granola (flavor of your choice), and 4 Hot Oats Cups (1 of each flavor)!

…Follow the LOVE  @LoveGrownFoods on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and/or Twitter!

BONUS OPS:  #fueledbyLOVE | #SuperOats | #HotOats | #OatClusters | #LoveGrownFoods | #LOVEgiveaway

HOW: leave a comment with your LOVE flavor-of-choice, and/or a goal you’re working on this fall (running or otherwise)! (Open until Thursday 10/31.)

Winner will be announced FRIDAY, November 1.


Congrats to all of the MCM 2013 finishers! You make it one of my favorite days in DC, every year.


Filed under DC, food, Giveaway, MCM, race report, Races, running, things that make me Happy

RW Half (3 of 3): Everything That Kills You Makes You Feel Alive

David Willey (Editor-in-Chief, Runner’s World) said this race/weekend is “a way for us to bring Runner’s World to life and spend a weekend with our readers.” Him & Bart were all over the race scene, all weekend – you couldn’t miss them! And it really felt like we stepped into their world for 3+ days.

RW Half Finish_ Dave & Bart
Photo credit: Runner’s World.

The culmination of the weekend, in the form of a half-marathon race, began Sunday morning…


With only one more race left to complete the hat-trick challenge, we had a little pep in our steps. 13.1 miles? GOT THIS. Once again we were on a shuttle by 6:45 am and headed to our second-home for the weekend, the ArtsQuest center.

RW Half_Morning group

Lovely Sarah, Janae, Ashley & Susan

The only flaw in this half-marathon planning was the distant starting line. Bart had warned us on Friday, during our shakeout run, that it was a little trek to get over there. We may or may not have overestimated that pep, and ended up jogging to bag check & then back to the Starting line to make it in time!

RW Half_Starting line

I know all too well how it feels to run/race a half-marathon, but with two races already done for the weekend? What does that feel like? How bad are the hills we’ve been warned about? Will we really be cursing the Race Directors under our breath (announcer’s words, just sayin’)?

GAME-PLAN: line up with the 8:00 min/mile pace, plug into the music motivation and watch-checks for the first time in a while (tunes: ON, Polar GPS: Tracking!).

RW Half_Polar Running

And with that, we’re off!

RW Half_Sunday Start
Photo credit: Runner’s World.

The first few miles were similar to the 5 & 10K: we went up and around 4th street, over the bridge, away from the Steel Stacks and toward downtown. This time we just kept going, all the way through Main street and then northwest to the heart of the town. We passed golf courses and baseball fields, neighborhood homes, cheerful Sunday morning spectators, two college campuses (Lehigh Univ. & Moravian College), Memorial Cemetery park and then more neighborhoods!

RW half course

I seem to assume I’m well-trained for hills because I live in NW DC and can’t do even a 3 mile run without hitting an incline somewhere. I assume that “hilly” is perceived differently for all of us: San Francisco? Yah, that’s insanely hilly. Bethlehem, PA? Can’t be too bad comparatively, right?

EGO CHECK: We ran UP (and down) a lot of hills. That was no joke.

RW Half elevation char

REALITY CHECK:  This HURTS. There were a few moments of pure exhaustion. There were a few moments of logic-questioning (a hat-trick? Really?) and a few more of thinking it would have been a novel idea to train more for this*.

PACE CHECK: Up to the halfway point, the Polar told me I was staying close to negative splits, or at least consistent ones (depending on where I was on that chart you see up there). If nothing else, I want to end strong & not let this completely defeat me.

There’s a point at which, if you’ve gone fast enough, slowing down doesn’t make the run or race any easier. It just prolongs the inevitable miles you have to run! There’s a point at which you realize that what’s not killing you will make you feel alive.***

You’ll cross the finish line eventually, the endorphins will reliably come rushing and you’ll instantly forget the 0.05 seconds where you thought one hill/mile or another might actually be the end of it all (we’re so dramatic, us runners). You’ll feel the rush of accomplishment, breaking a new self-perceived limit, and you’ll want to do it all over again. Maybe even a little bit faster, because you know you can.

RW Half_Finish Area

I remind myself of all of the above, especially in that one last mile – when I’m chasing the girl in the light pink “Soccer Alumni” shirt, completely committed to finishing with (if not ahead of) her. I remind myself that I’ll look back on this weekend and think: a hat-trick? I would totes do that again!**

And with whatever little energy was left, I bust out a sprint to get across the last Finish line of the weekend & find the rest of the best-kind-of-crazy blogger team that did this together:

RW Half_Finish group
Jocelyn, Susan, Linda & Monica

RW Half_hattrick medalsRW Hattrick medals

Runner’s World Half Marathon

1:45:15 – 8:01 min/mile - 22 / 222 (AG: 25-29F)


Words don’t do justice to how inspirational it was to be surrounded by the RW team, on their turf and in their home, for an entire weekend. I know I’ll be back next year (already mentioned that, yes?).

A HUGE THANKS from my runner’s heart to theirs: thanks for challenging us beyond the race distances we know so well, and bringing our favorite magazine “to life”, and really for just putting that magazine out there so when we have those moments of experiencing X pain, Y race-day woes, or Z I-can’t-believe-I’m-doing-this moments, we know we’re certainly not alone.

*I did train for this, kind of. I ran both weekend days (one long, one short) for about 6 weeks. What I did not do was ramp up in distance or work on speed.

**Eyes on the next prize: Heartbreak Hill Half & Festival.

***Credit for the post title & mid-race motivation: One Republic, “Counting Stars”.


Filed under new things!, race report, Races, runners world