Mt. Katahdin, Maine

Well, you might have wondered where I’ve been the past few weeks.  I’m happy to report that I have been touring the North East on a series of mini vacations, moving apartments (more on that to come), and enjoying the summer.  August started out with a trip to Rhode Island, where I maxed and relaxed with KFB’s family in Narragansett.  This was my first trip to RI, and it was beautiful.  We had perfect weather, with the sun shinning bright and the breeze dropping temperatures to the low 80s.  The cool crisp mornings fulfilled the much-needed break from DC’s disastrous summer, providing the perfect atmosphere for a nice run.  After 5 days in RI, I came back to DC only to turn around and head to Atlantic City for a Bachelor Party.  This was also my first trip to AC, and well, I think I did pretty good for myself.  While running was at a minimum, I did almost pay for the whole trip in roulette winnings.  We did plenty of gambling, made plenty of funny memories, and of course drank plenty of beer.  To wrap up my August vacations, I headed to the mountains of Maine, for a short backpacking trip through Baxter State Park with some family.  In Baxter we climbed Mt. Katahdin, the final leg of the Appalachian Trail.  I’ve been through many parts of the AT, and I have to say that Katahdin was one of the most beautiful.  The mountain is very dramatic, with incredible views of the surrounding area.

For many people, running and vacation don’t seem to fit well in one sentence.  Unless, of course, “I’m not running on vacation” is the sentence.  But when you are in the middle of training, for whatever length, “I’m not running on vacation” isn’t always an option.  Having done a lot of it over the past few weeks, I’m here to say that my vacation runs (with the exception of AC…for obvious reasons) have been some of my best runs of this training season.

Running on vacation can be great.  Here are a few reasons way:

1)      It’s Fresh – So often I find myself running the same routes, several times a week.  I run past the same intersections, up the same hills, and through the same neighborhoods almost every day.  For the most part I could do it with my eyes closed.  This can be great, but can also be boring.  Vacation gives you the opportunity to explore this new town, city, state, or country that you probably don’t know very well.

Narragansett, RI

While in Rhode Island I went out for what I planned to be about a 10 mile run.  I didn’t know where I was going, but I knew that if I went out this one road, it would follow the coastline for several miles.  A few miles down the road, I found several cut-off streets that sent me right down to the water.  I saw some amazing views and explored some incredible neighborhoods.  Minutes and miles were flying by as I ran through these new streets.  Several times I even found a smile on my face, as I turned the corner to a new overlook.  I ended up running what I believe to be about 12-13 miles, and enjoying every minute of it.

2)       Change of Weather –  With a new location comes new weather.  Going on vacation doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to find cooler weather if your hometown is hot, or warmer weather if your hometown is cold, but it mixes it up!  Lucky for me most of my vacations were up north, providing some ideal weather conditions for a lengthy run.

Once I got off the trail in Maine, I took some time to go out for a run.  Even though my legs were well used throughout the hike and climb, I wanted to make sure I kept up with some miles.  I went on a jog around a lake in the small town of Winthrop.  The scenery was great, but the weather even better.  The cooler temperatures definitely helped power the senses and get me going.

3)       Lose the Mileage –  If you are anything like me, you often find yourself totally caught up in your mileage.  Too frequently I’m so focused on how many miles I’ve run this week that I forget to have fun.  I pick my routes for the length, not the enjoyment.  Because you usually don’t know where you are going when you take off for a jog while on vacation, it gives you the option to just go out there and run.  Don’t bother opening up your mapmyrun account, and just use the watch. Tell yourself that you want to go out for a certain amount of time, and take off.  Go wherever the road takes you, and explore whenever looks interesting.

Running through your vacation can seem like an added stress you would rather just leave at home, but if you look at it as a good vacation outing, it can be a real highlight.  Keep up your running, keep enjoying your vacation.

Anyone else do any vacation running this summer?

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NPR covered two stories today about the local food movement.  The first was about the author of “Ripe: The Search for The Perfect Tomato” who discusses the value of local tomatoes ripened right on the vine!  The second discusses the problems that have the local meat industry is now facing.  With higher demand for local, ethically raised meat, it is hard to find a place to butcher!

“Once upon a time, tomatoes were considered poisonous, even dangerous. But gradually, the plump produce made its way into our homes and onto our plates. Arthur Allen tells the story of the tomato’s redemption, popularization and eventual modification in his book, Ripe: The Search For The Perfect Tomato.

“At the State University of New York’s meat lab, students learn how to kill, cut and grind up beef, pork and lamb. After a month, they get a meat-processing and food-safety certificate and the basic know-how to work in the industry. The program aims to help fill the shortage of butchers and small slaughterhouses — and keep meat local.

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I modeled this year’s training for the Marine Corps Marathon after the training schedule I used for Baltimore last year. The major difference between the two years is the type of mileage I’m putting in.

Last year, when I started training I was not a very serious runner. I ran cross country in high school, but hardly ever ran more than 3 or 4 miles at a time after that. I hadn’t received much training, and never considered myself a very knowledgeable runner. Since then, I’ve become more self-taught. I’m often reading articles, learning how to get stronger, faster, and stay injury free.

One of the major changes to this year’s training over the last, is adding Tempo Runs to my weekly workout. I know that a lot of the traffic to my blog comes from runners like me, out training for one of their first long races, who have plenty of questions about what they are doing.  So I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned and what I’m doing.

Why do Tempo Runs? Simply put, tempo runs help you run faster.  These runs are not sprints, but they are harder than just going out for 5 miles.  There is plenty out there on the science behind tempo runs, but essentially you are pushing your body without burning it out.  John Hanc of Runner’s World Magazine puts it this way, “Tempo running improves a crucial physiological variable for running success: our metabolic fitness. ‘Most runners have trained their cardiovascular system to deliver oxygen to the muscles,; says exercise scientist Bill Pierce, chair of the health and exercise science department at Furman University in South Carolina, ‘but they haven’t trained their bodies to use that oxygen once it arrives. Tempo runs do just that by teaching the body to use oxygen for metabolism more efficiently.'”

What type of Tempo Running is good for Marathon training? Really, it depends on who you ask.  Some people say to stick to Tempo intervals, while others will tell you to just put in some miles at your Tempo pace.  What I have been doing is pretty simple:

  • The Pace:  a 10 mile race pace.  You want to be able to ask a question to your running partner, but not hold a conversation.  You should be comfortably uncomfortable.  Pushing yourself to the point that you would like to slow down, but not to the point where you NEED to slow down.
  • The Distance:  I have been adding my Tempo Pace to a 5 mile workout day.  I will start with one mile of slow, warm-up pace, then take off for 3 miles at a swifter Tempo Pace.  After roughly 3 miles I’ll slow back down for an easy mile long cool down.

These Tempo days have not been replacing my track workouts.  They should be added as a more difficult day to your running schedule.  I look at it like this, if I run 5 times a week, I have three hard days and two easy light days.  My hard days consist of a long endurance run, a track interval workout, and a tempo day.  The easy days are to help me recover while still getting in the miles.

Now, like I said before, I’m not in any way the most knowledgeable person on this topic.  I am, however, an average runner looking to improve on my previous race times.  I can say with absolute certainty that adding tempo workouts to the mix has both made me stronger and more confident pushing myself on the road.  I suggest you do your own research and come up with the perfect Tempo workout plan for your needs.  You wont regret it.

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CH Farmers Market (sorry for the poor quality phone pic)

This summer brought many new things to Columbia Heights: Fro-Yo, an almost done 14th Street, and the Columbia Heights Community Marketplace. Now, I’m a fan of just about any farmers market, but after a few Saturday mornings waking up at this market, I can’t stop raving on what they have to offer. It isn’t the biggest FM of the bunch, but what it lacks in vendors it certainly makes up for in variety.

The market is open from 9-2 every Saturday, and houses multiple vegetable growers (Chesley Farms, Dragonfly Farms and Licking Creek Bend Farm), a variety of meat vendors, cheese makers, bread bakers, and even a gelato guy.  Pretty much anything you might need.  The marketplace even accepts WIC and Stamps.

With no recent Arganica order, last Saturday KFB and I hit up the CH Community Marketplace with a few bucks in hand. We bought a loaf of whole wheat bread, 6 peaches, 3 nectarines, 3 tomatoes, a bundle of onions, red potatoes, green beans, a cucumber and 4 ears of corn all for just $20. A price that can’t be beat for such high quality, local produce.

Everyday several people read my review of Arganica Farm Club. I don’t want to put down the local delivery group which fed me through the winter, but recently I feel like it just can’t compare. DC’s Farmers Markets have so much to offer at such a great price.  You have the big markets like Dupont, but embracing the smaller markets like Columbia Heights Market will give you everything you need, the warmth of your neighbors, and the satisfaction you get from are purchasing real food.

The Columbia Heights Community Marketplace offers good eats, good people, and a good reason to wake up.  Don’t be a slacker and get your hungover butt out the bed for some food.

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Last week NPR’s Diane Rehm brought on some of the big names in the modern running movement.  Christopher McDougall, author of ‘Born to Run’ and barefoot running activist, Amby Burfoot, winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon and Runners World editor, and Dr. Stephen Pribut, a sports medicine specialist, all sat down to discuses barefoot running, running trends, and the modern runner.  It is definitely a show worth checking out.

http://shar.es/mV2ry

“Millions of Americans run to lose weight, stay in shape or relieve stress. But many suffer injuries that keep them off the road and out of commission. A look at barefoot running and other trends gaining traction.”

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6 Miles: Start and end at 14th and Park, NW

I have to admit, these were not my best two weeks of running.  The past few weeks have been absolutely crazy for me at work, often at the office with 5 plus hours of overtime a day.  It was a big few weeks for me, as months of preparation were coming into action.  Hitting the road for a run after 12 or 13 hours at the office was not exactly what I wanted to do, especially with this weather.

You may recall that I wrote a post a few weeks ago about how much more I liked running in the heat than the cold.  Well, I take every single one of those words back.  I liked running in the heat for a total of 10 days.  All 10 of those days happened to be when the DC heat was below 90.  The past few weeks haven’t seen a day under 90 yet.  Running in 98 degrees with DC humidity has been brutal.  I’ve tried waking up to get in my run early, and waiting until almost dark to get in my run late.  I’ve even tried my damnedest to time out my run with a rain shower, only to have the rain pass by, as if to rub the heat in that much more.

But even with the lack of sleep, intensive heat, and low motivation, I still laced up my Asics and hit the road.  Although they were slow, the miles have now been logged.  I even did two track workouts, which actually turned out to be some of the best days for me.

This week’s long run was only 6 miles, which I happily took, knowing the longer runs were in the near future.  Next week picks up a little bit, but nothing longer than I know I can handle.  Next weekend I head to Rochester with KFB for the 4th, which will hopefully bring lower temperature and exciting new routes!

Weeks 1-3

If all goes as planned, 20 weeks from now I’ll have just completed the Marine Corps Marathon.  While it isn’t my first marathon, there is still so much running through my head, at least 26.2 nervous butterflies fluttering through my stomach, and so much left unknown.  I now know what it feels like to hit the wall, to run myself to tears on a training day,  change plans with friends because I have to go on a run, and cross the finish line, but I don’t know what it is like to start this journey by myself, to run this new training schedule, or to run with a body that I already know has some issues.

On one hand I’m confident, because I know I can do it.  On the other hand, I’m shaking in my Asics, because now I know how much it is going to suck.

I’ll be using a 20 week training program, with 5 days of running per week.  This year I plan to do more track workouts, focusing a bit more on speed.  I will also be a little flexible with this schedule, listening to my body and adding some yoga throughout the weeks.  The training schedule starts off a bit light, but I thought it would be good for me.  I want to make sure that I don’t burn myself out, and take it easy on my knee.  I know there will be days during the first few weeks when I add a mile or two to a run, but I think it is best to take it easy instead of pushing it too hard from the get-go.

You can check out the training schedule below.  I’ll also be tracking my progress and updating it on TheHaySay weekly.  Plus you’ll be able to follow the progress in The Runs section.

Here goes nothing…

Marine Corps Marathon Training Schedule

Greens from Quaker Valley Orchards

Over Memorial Day Weekend I joined KFB and a few other friends for a camping trip out in Shenandoah National Park.  We planned the hikes, organized the equipment, and divided up the meals before hitting the mountains.  KFB and I picked dinner, and started planning.  After a few disappointing weeks with Arganica, we decided to just hit up the farmers market instead.  This was actually my first DC market of the year, so I was pretty excited to see what all they had.

The Mt. Pleasant Farmers Market is a charming little market located right in the small plaza on Mt. Pleasant Street and Lamont Street, NW.  It has several different vendors, each offering a few different items, a bike repair station, and some live joyful bluegrass to get you in the mood.

We had a grilled veggie melody dinner in mind, and knew that most of what we might be cooking over the camp fire isn’t really in season, but we were able to find some delicious items for the trip.

Asparagus from Truck Patch Farms
Asparagus - Truck Patch Farms

To start, we found a great loaf of rosemary bread  baked fresh from Atwater’s Bakery.  We ended up coating it in garlic and butter, wrapping it in foil and throwing it on the coals.  After a short toasting, it was the perfect addition to the meal.  We also found some asparagus and strawberries from Truck Patch Farms in New Windsor, MD.   Good for us, but unfortunate for our camping friends, neither of these made it to the mountains.  The asparagus was so flavorful we just had to have it for dinner that night, and the strawberries so sweet they didn’t make it past dessert.  These fresh strawberries and a little vanilla ice cream went together like coffee and morning, or BP and shame.  I heard this was the last week for local asparagus, so I’m glad we took this opportunity to have one last indulgence while we could.

What did make it on our trip were some tasty Fuji apples from Quaker Valley Orchards.  Nothing beats a juicy apple on a humid hike.

Mt. Pleasant Farmers Market is a great place to get your seasonal produce and local meat right near Columbia Heights.  While I can’t wait for Columbia Heights’ new farmers market to open up next Saturday, I really hope that it doesn’t take away from Mt. P neighborhood market and its charming character.  I know I’ll certainly be frequenting both this summer.

Strawberries from Truck Patch Farms

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5 Mile Route (Click image for interactive ap)

The first signs of a DC summer are here.  High temps and high humidity fill the late evening air, and I for one am glad to see it!  After such a long winter full of cold, icy runs, nothing feels better than returning to the house soaked with sweat.  It wasn’t until this week that I really had my first great hot run of the year.  After a weekend of no running and too much boozing, a swift 5 miles with a lot of leaking (read: sweat), couldn’t have felt better. It is one thing to get home and be tired from a run.  It is another thing to get home, be tired, and FEEL wet.  No question you just had a work out.

I’m not looking forward to 90+ degree training this summer, but I’ll soak up this 75 degree, 70% humidity any day.

So what do you think?


I’ll be post all of my routes on my MapMyRun profile.

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Well, I did it again. I registered for another marathon.  This year there was no pep talks from the roommate, no pacing around with clammy hands and freaking out before I push the button.  It was just me, the computer, and the stupid decision.

My 2010 New Years resolution included a bit of a running challenge.  One of the races part of the challenge was the Marine Corps Marathon.  After running Baltimore last year, I really wanted to do the marathon at home.  The race was painful, but the worst part of the experience was definitely waiting until I drove myself back to the District for a shower.

Official training will begin in a few weeks, and this time I have a much better idea about what to expect.  I know that it will hurt.  I know there will be times when I want to quit.  But I also know that I’ll grow stronger and more energized with every run.  As long as I can keep healthy, I’m confident I will succeed.

I plan to do a much better job this year tracking my training routes, races and stories.  You can follow along to everything running related here.

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