The GW Parkway Classic

The Parkway Classic, is a 10 mile running event, put on by DC’s local running store, Pacers. ¬†It is scheduled in late April, a couple weeks after the famous and very popular, Cherry Blossom 10 miler. It’s timing is perfect, because the Cherry Blossom 10 miler is now a lottery, so those that registered, but then were rejected from Cherry Blossom, can still have the opportunity to run a 10 mile race in the Spring. ¬†Another benefit to running the Parkway Classic is its capacity. The Parkway Classic is only around 4,000 runners compared to Cherry Blossom that is capped at 15,000. ¬†Less runners mean less crowded on the course, and more freedom to run the fast pace you desire, allowing a new PR.

So three weeks after I ran the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, I ran the GW Parkway Classic. This is how it all went down.

FROM THE BEGINNING…

The reason why I ended ¬†up running the Parkway Classic is because my sister Emily, my original running buddy, didn’t register for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, but still wanted to participate in a spring race. ¬†Unlike me, who uses Cherry Blossom 10 miler as a yearly tradition, Em, doesn’t find it exciting to run the same races over again. So I registered us both for the Parkway Classic. Although, we have run plenty of 10 milers before, it would be our first time running this particular race. Lina, my coworker and new running buddy, who ran Cherry Blossom with me this year signed up as well. ¬†Cherry Blossom was her first 10 miler and she loved it so much, that she immediately wanted to run another one.

After running Cherry Blossom, I was feeling pretty good. I hadn’t over trained at all, so I wasn’t feeling burned out. But I didn’t under train either. I was consistently running, and it showed.

LET ME EXPLAIN MORE IN DETAIL…

I have been running for five years, and I have run plenty of 10 milers. I am no longer at the level, where I am running, “just to finish.” And while I am writing this, it seems like I am bragging, but I am actually just reminding myself that. I guess it is time to start thinking about timing.

For the last three years, when running the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, I have always set my goal to run it in under 1:30:00. So three years ago I ran it in 1:29:25. Last year I ran it in 1:29:33. This year I ran it in 1:29:26. As you can see, very consistent. I guess my body is just comfortable with that pace, or maybe it is a mental game and because I put it in my mind that I want to run it in under 1:30:00, thats what I do. I don’t know which one it is, but I do know that I really wanted to set a new PR for the Parkway Classic. Just get me away from 1:29 please.

THE TRAINING…¬†

Now that I reviewed my past times, and mentally prepared for a faster race, it was time to train a little faster. Unfortunately, I got a little sidetracked when I was introduced to the Newton shoe. If you have read previous posts, you should know, that I went to a running form clinic, and bought a pair of the Newtons, and became obsessed.

The Newton shoe is a light weight running shoe, that promotes Natural Running. Well before a race everyone knows it is a big NO NO to switch your shoes, and it is definitely not a good idea to start changing your running form and stride, but I did.  I was thinking, switching to a lighter shoe, will make you faster. Adjusting your running form, will make you faster and help prevent injury. Or it could totally backfire.

The day after the Running Form Clinic was Easter. My sister really wanted to fit in a 7 mile run that day. She hadn’t run longer than 5 miles in a while and she just wanted to have the peace of mind, that she could run a strong 7. But because of the holiday it was difficult to find the time. So we ended up heading out randomly at 3:30- 4 pm.

Here are some factors to keep in mind…

  • I had already had a mid day Easter dinner with my boyfriend and his parents which included a cocktail. So I was very full and dehydrated.
  • The day was sunny and 80 degrees. I hadn’t run in that type of heat in a while.
  • The Friday before I sprinted a 5k. I am not use to sprinting short distances, and hadn’t done a 5k since November.
  • The day before, I had participated in a Running Form Clinic which included running drills, in a light weight, almost minimalist shoe.
  • I also ran this seven miles in my regular traditional running shoes.

So as you can see, I had been doing a lot of different types of running, totally out of my normal routine. So as you can guessed, my seven mile run didn’t go as well as I had liked. I was still happy I ran, but I will admit, I felt very sluggish, and my legs were really sore. I think it was a combination of everything I said above, including the fact that the day before I was testing out a more light weight shoe, and then during my run I was wearing my Brookes, and they felt extremely heavy.

After that training run, I felt a little insecure, maybe I won’t PR, after all, the course is rolling hills the whole way. ¬†So I continued training, consistently running in my new Newton shoes, working on my form, up to the day of the race.

The Wednesday before the race, Lina and I met up for a training run. I was wearing my Newtons. She was jealous, and tired of feeling pain from heal striking so right after our run, we headed to Pacers to get her a pair as well. On the Friday before the race, we met up again for a training run, then headed to Pacers, to pick up our bib numbers for the race. The Saturday before race, I relaxed and grilled steak and veggies for dinner. ¬†I set up my race clothes, updated my Garmin, and charged my iPod. ¬†I didn’t feel nervous, just really excited. I set my alarm for 5:20 am, and fell asleep to the sound of the rain.

RACE DAY…

I am not a morning person, so when my alarm went off, I felt like I had hardly slept. ¬†I even thought, “Ugh, maybe I shouldn’t even run this race.” It was dark, cold, rainy, and all I wanted to do was crawl back into bed, but I didn’t. I got dressed in my race clothes. Packed my bag I was going to check, and met Lina out front of my apartment. We headed to the shuttle buses, met my sister on the bus, and headed over to Mount Vernon, the start.¬†

After the horrible Hot Chocolate 15K, that I had to endure and run in December, I was a little worried about getting people to another Race Start that wasn’t metro accessible. But there is a difference between 20,000 runners and 4,000. Anyway, I had total trust in Pacers, and they did not disappoint.¬†When we arrived to the start, it was still cold and rainy, but they provided us with space blankets. I have used them before, after a marathon, but I never remember them doing anything. This time I was very impressed, they actually really trap your body heat and keep you warm. There was also breakfast, coffee, and coconut water. Over all, I¬†thought Pacers did a fabulous job organizing this race. ¬†It is very important to have a well organized race. It makes a difference when a running company, that is made up of runners, organizes a race. They truly know a runners needs and wants.¬†

Soon enough it was time to check my bag and get in line at the start with all the other runners. So around 7:45 am I stripped down to my shorts and tank top. I almost chickened out, and wore my long sleeve running shirt, that is how cold I was, but I shivered and checked it. Then my sister, Lina and I headed to the start.  We lined up with the 9:00- 9:59 corral. It was fine but now looking back maybe we should have stood with the 8:00-8:59 corral. 

The start line was crowded, but it had an amazing energy. We were all cold, just ready to run and  get warm up.  But soon enough the race began, and we were off.

For the first three miles of the race, my legs felt heavy and sore. I wasn’t sure if it was because of my pace or maybe it was because I was in my heavy shoes, rather than my light weight shoes. Whatever it was, it took the first three miles for me to really warm up. When the fourth mile went by, I was feeling good, fast, and strong. It was funny because I was running side by side of my sister, Emily. But then she started to slow down. At points I was ahead of her. I took advantage of most of the all of the water stations. I pulled of to the side at one of the water stations and then saw my sister go by. I finished my water and ran to catch up to her. I thought she had chosen not to take water at that water stop, but it turns out she missed it, not realizing there was a water station. At mile 7, we saw our friend, Adrian. She came to the cheer us on, with a huge sign. Emily went on running ahead, while I pulled to the side to give Lina’s daughter Kadi a hug. Letting her know that Lina wasn’t far behind. A guy actually stopped me saying the hug I gave Kadi was sweet and totally worth the loss of 30 seconds. I totally agree. Although, I am trying to take my running to the next level, and work on getting a little faster. When people come out to see you, they want to have an enjoyable experience too, and it is rude to run passed them. I wasn’t with Lina during the race, but according to the photos it looks like she ran a very fun, controlled race.

There is Lina, looking focused and relaxed.

In the end, I set a new PR of 1:28:05. I finally broke 1:29. I was really happy with this race. I felt strong and fast. I felt like I could have continued to run 3 more miles or more.  So for the month of April I ran 3 races, two 10 milers, and one 5k.

ALL (but 2 of these photos) were taken by Swim Bike Run Photography.  © 2012

Sunny “summer-like” Days

Because of the disgusting unbearable previous summer, and then a warmer disappointing winter, the thought of things heating up has scared me. But summer is right around the corner, and although this week is going to be cold, we have been blessed with some amazing sunny summer-like days. These summer-like days have made me begin to feel excited, because I love the change of seasons, and the variety of food that come with it. All of this, brought me inspiration on Saturday night. Nothing to me screams summer like grilled veggies with a side of steak.

© 2012

My little farm.

I am an advocate for supporting local business, including local farms. If you ever check out my tumblr blog, CASHMERE & SILK,you will learn about all the local yarn shops I go to, and all the local yarns I knit with. Anyway, one of my favorite summer time hobbies is hitting up the local farmers markets in my area, and let me tell you there are a ton of them.

Visiting farmers markets, and tasting the sweetness and glory there is in a truly fresh organic piece of produce, motivated me to start my own little farm. I also juice a lot, so having access to Kale or other veggies, made it easier and less expensive.

My boyfriend’s stepmom would tell me stories about her garden, and how nutritious her soil became by composting.¬†I never thought, that I would be successful at growing plants, because unfortunately I didn’t have a yard to use. But what I did have in my favor was a very sunny back deck, that was high off the ground. The sun helped my plants grow, and the hight of my back deck kept birds and¬†squirrels away.

Below are some pictures of my veggie garden from last year. I am telling you, you would be surprised what you can grow in a container. I am hoping for success this year. We shall see though, because I might be moving, and do not know yet about how sunny the location will be.

© 2012

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Running Form Clinic

On April 7th, I participated in a running form clinic, held at the Pacers Arlington.  Juda McGannon, who taught the clinic is a representative for Newton shoes. I first met her at the Cherry Blossom 10 miler expo. To my understanding, the Newton brand focuses on running form and the inventor himself, Danny Abshire, hosts clinics weekly, nation wide.

Correct proper running form has been a topic that has always interested me. I have never had any technical running training in the past, so I thought the clinic would really benefit me. Who wouldn’t want to learn how to run faster, further, safer? So bright and early, on Saturday morning I headed down to the clinic to learn about proper running form. I started the clinic inside the shop. Juda immediately took off her shoes, and began to demonstrate foot strengthen exercises, explaining that years of wearing protective/corrective running shoes actually make feet weaker. It is important to have strong feet, no matter what shoes you wear. She discussed many facts about the foot. A strong foot should ¬†be capable of spreading its toes apart from one another,and should easily be capable of grabbing and picking up items.

Then she had me balance on one foot. I closed our eyes. At points I wiggled around a little, loosing balance. When running we are technically always balancing on one foot. One foot is in the air while the other is on the ground. Everyone uses their sense of sight and hearing while balancing, but those senses should not be our dominate senses used while running. We should be using our sense of touch. Unfortunately, conventional running shoes, with all of its cushion, support, and protection makes it hard to use our sense of touch, impossible for us to feel the ground we run on.

Juda then explains what our feet do while we are barefoot. When we walk barefoot, we place our heel down first, then forefoot, then toes. When we run barefoot, we place our forefoot down first, then heel. When we sprint barefoot, we place our forefoot down first, but it is so far up the foot, it almost looks like we are on our toes. When we wear our traditional running shoes, there is so much protection, cushion, support, that we can barely move our foot with in the shoe, and it is impossible to use our sense of touch and actually feel the ground. Traditional running shoes, make 80% of runners heel strike. Heel striking causes injuries. Why would you run one way barefoot, and another way with shoes.  That is where the Newton shoe comes in handy. This shoe is going to help correct form, by getting us to run on our forefoot, preventing heel striking.

Running too slowly will also cause heel striking. That is why it is important to run with a quick, short stride. Soon enough,  I was getting fitted with the proper Newton shoe, and then heading out to the trail.  Juda had the group participate in some running form drills, which included high knees, and skipping. When running you should be light on your feet. The lighter you are on your feet, the less impact you will endure, and the quicker and shorter your stride will become. Juda also taught us to lean forward and breath deep from your belly.

I had been debating on trying a minimalist running shoe ever since I had read the book, Born to Run, two years ago. Although, the Newton shoe is not a minimalist shoe, for me it is the perfect shoe to try, because it is light weight, and mimics  Natural running, but also has the cushioning to help absorb impact. So after the running clinic I happily purchased my first pair of Newtons. The running form clinic, was awesome! I am very glad I participated in it, and highly recommend it for all runners, whether you have the desire to try Newtons or not.

Runner’s World is talking about Newton shoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s funny how once you hear about something, you start to hear about it everywhere. Well thats what happened to me with the Newton shoes. After seeing the Newton shoes at the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, I went home excited about participating the next week in the running form clinic, and started reading the April issue of Runner’s World, where there was a several page spread dedicated to an article about Newton shoes.

A couple years ago when I read the book, Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall, the Vibram FiveFingers first became popular. I wondered is this barefoot running concept just a trend? A trend similar to the Atkins diet, where everyone starts doing it, but then five years later, experts reveal that evidence shows it is not healthy, but actually unhealthy, and an injury risk.  Or is barefoot running, ironically the future type of running. Will all running shoes evolve into something more weightless, a minimalist shoe? These are the questions that have crossed my mind, but after being introduced to the Newton shoe and then seeing so many other running brands, such as Brooks and Nike, come out with a shoe that mimics running barefoot, I am now starting to believe that this is not a trend, but rather the future to running.

So as I said earlier, I found a lot of my information about Newton’s in the April issue of Runner’s World. This is what¬†Runner’s World¬† had to say. First thing that I was confused about was does Newton consider itself a minimalist shoe? The answer to that is a big fat NO, which was a huge relief.

Minimalist shoes such as the Vibrams, scare me. And the reason why, is because of injury. When runners first started to transition into barefoot running, they purchased the Vibrams, and many got injured. Because of the traditional running shoe, having so much protection, feet became weak. Many runners didn’t have the muscles developed in their feet in order to run in the Vibrams. So it was suggested to adjust your feet and strengthen them by simply walking around in the Vibrams or going on short runs no longer than a mile. But too many runners got to excited about running barefoot and went to far to fast, causing injuries to themselves.¬†¬†So it wasn’t necessarily the shoe that caused injury, but rather the runner, herself.

The inventor of Newton shoes, Danny Abshire first started developing the shoe 20 years ago. He claims in the Runner’s World article that this shoe is nothing like what runners have¬†worn in the past. And although, it weighs about a third less than the traditional running shoe it is not‚ÄĒa”minimal” shoe.

Well if it is not a minimalist shoe, then what is so special about the Newton? For one it is weightless, which makes it feel like a minimalist shoe. Seriously, when I put Newtons on, I felt like there was no shoe on at all. ¬†In the Runner’s World article, Abshire warns that, heel-striking is inefficient, and potentially dangerous. And runners heel-strike, he says, only because traditional shoes have an unnecessarily¬†high heel-to-toe drop.¬† But Newton shoes have a ¬†heel that is more level, only measuring 6 mm, which in ways is similar to the minimalist shoe. By having less heel, it makes it easier to run on the forefoot.¬†¬†But what makes this shoe so unique is the lugs found on the forefoot, preventing injury. The lugs are plump and springy cushioning similar to a trampoline. It is elevated maybe a half inch or so away from the shoe. These lugs provides a shock absorber, while bringing energy back to the runner. Reducing impact, and returning energy back to the runner, allowing the runner to run faster and farther, is what Newton calls Action/Reaction technology.¬† This design is very odd, but helps mimimc the same stride you would have if you were barefoot, which Abshire calls, “natural running.”

According to Runner’s World, Abshire, who has completed one of the toughest ultras in the country, the Leadville Trail 100, felt like the sport became overcomplicated‚ÄĒand dangerous‚ÄĒas shoes got more and more built up. If you run barefoot, on the sand in on the beach, you will automatically land on your forefoot, so why use a traditional running shoe that changes your running stride and may cause you to heel strike.¬†Experts are now saying landing on the heel is not proper running form, and it puts stress on ankles, knees, hips, and back.

Learning this, made me very attracted to the Newton company. People talk about minimalist shoes, and lightweight trainers, being for shorter distances. Many say you can not put serious milage on these weightless shoes. But I am a distance runner, who trains for marathons, so it is important for me to hear that the inventor of the Newton shoe, has completed ultras, and is too, a distance runner. I also like the idea that this company, is promoting natural running form. Spreading the word about proper running form, and getting runners running correctly, is the key to injury prevention, regardless what shoes you run in.

In conclusion, similar to a minimalist shoe, the ideas behind the Newton shoe are just like¬†McDougall’s idea’s in his book, Born to Run.¬†The Tarahumara Indians of Mexico, were known to run long distances daily in thin-soled sandals, in order to survive. If they could run like that, we are capable of it as well. But we need to learn proper running form, which is landing on our forefoot, avoiding heel striking. ¬†Runner’s World reveals, ¬†that Abshire claims, “Cavemen were smart enough to build a moccasin‚ÄĒa protective coating for the foot. But they also lived in a natural environment. It wasn’t concrete and asphalt. This is where people get mixed up. Our shoes promote natural running in an unnatural world.”

© 2012

 

Newton Shoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earlier this month, I ran the Cherry Blossom 10 miler. While I was browsing at the expo I came across a very bright colored tent that had the words Newton across it. I had been attending the expo for the last five years, and had never seen this tent before. Mesmerized by the bright colored tent I headed over to check out what it was all about. Turns out there is a new type of running shoe on the market called the Newton shoe, they too are brightly colored. When it comes to a running shoe, colors shouldn’t matter, but this shoe is much more than bright.

The Newton Shoe expert, Juda McGannon, explained briefly about the purpose and technology behind the shoe. Honestly, at that time, I can’t say I totally grasped the “Newton” concept, I was more engrosed with the feel of the shoe and the price.

THE FEEL: When first putting on the Newtons, they felt extremely weightless, I believe they are a third lighter then the conventional running shoe.  I noticed the breathable mesh like material that makes up the shoe. I also noticed the elevation on the bottom of the shoe, in the forefoot. This shoe felt totally different than the traditional running shoe I had been running in for the last five years. Although, it felt different the minute I put the shoe on I liked the feeling.

THE PRICE: Unfortunately, the price scared me off from purchasing a pair that day at the expo. They run around $155. I always thought my Asics that run around $125 were expensive, exspecially since I normally replace my shoes every 400-500 miles. I just didn’t want to make a random purchase when I wasn’t sure if the shoe was right for me.

Anyway, I decided on leaving the expo with Juda’s business card, rather than with a pair of shoes. And although, I felt the need to research the shoes more, I did not forget about them. Actually, Juda mentioned a running form clinic, that she was hosting the following Saturday at Pacers Arlington. I knew it was there, that I would get better understanding of the shoes and whether they would work for me.

© 2012

5K fun run…

Last Friday, I hadn’t had the chance to fit in my morning run. When I realized I was going to end up running in the evening, I decided to randomly sign up for a 5K. So let me explain… the local running shoe store in the DC area is called Pacers. They not only fit and supply runners in the area with the most updated shoes, but they get the community together by having weekly group runs, running workshops, and by putting on running events. Among these events is the Crystal Run 5K Fridays.

Since I didn’t get my run in and I live walking distance to the start of the Crystal Run 5K, I decided to go ahead and register and run. My sister was coming home from work around the same time, so she put on her running clothes, took the metro to Crystal City, and ran the race with me.

When we arrived to the start line, I was very impressed on the turn out, I never imagine it would be that crowded, but it was. They also had an area where you could get fitted for shoes and try them for the race.

Now, I have always been an endurance athlete, running longer distances for the last 5 years, and marathons, for the last three. This was my fourth certified 5K, and I felt like I was going to die the whole way. When running distance, you have plenty of miles to warm up your body, but when running a 5K you only have 3.10 miles to run (period) so there is really no time to warm up. I ended up sprinting the whole time. In the end, I feel good about my run. I am still unsure of my exact results, but according to my garmin I think I finished around 26 minutes, which isn’t my best 5K time, but not my worst. It just shows that training for longer distances has made me a runner that is comfortable on taking a couple miles to warm up, and although, while training for marathons, I have focused on endurance and consistency, I have not had the opportunity to work on speed.

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© 2012