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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The Daily Hay is a sometimes daily feature, highlighting whatever I feel worthy of your 5 minutes or less. No real commentary, just a link to the article, music, or video. Enjoy.

After a weekend of backpacking, I’m reminded how much I take clean water for granted. Happy World Water Day everyone!

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Example of Arganica 'Weekly Pick'

Fresh and local veggies, meat, bread, cheese, eggs, tofu, and more, all delivered to your doorstep? May just sound like an enviro’s or foodie’s wet dream, but for me it has become a reality.

About 2 months ago KFB and I decided we wanted to join some sort of a farm share. Unfortunately for us, it was beginning to look a lot like winter and winter months don’t usually mean good things for local farm shares. That is until a friend of KFB’s recommended us to Arganica Farm Club. Upon checking them out, we were blown away at what they had to offer. Instead of just paying your fee and picking up whatever they have to offer, like most farm shares, Arganica lets you order whatever whatever you want from their weekly menu, and delivers it directly to your house. They have a range of seasonal and greenhouse veggies from several different local farms that you can order by the pound, or you can or the “weekly choice” box of their picks for that week. So far we have stuck to the weekly choice, as it is a great way to discover new vegetables you’ve never cooked with (or maybe even hear of) before. Plus it is hands down the best deal. On top of that we have ordered a few types of cheeses, breads, and homemade vegetarian sausages. Each week our order has increased, as we have been pleased with nearly every choice.

The process is not just fun, but rewarding. Our googling skills have improved (‘small green tomato like fruit with paper like husk’), and it is a unique feeling to know that the entire meal you just ate came from less than 100 miles away. I have suddenly found myself a stranger where I was once a regular, the Columbia Heights Giant. When I do make my way in the food superstore, I usually leave having purchased little more than pasta, rice, beans, and a few other basic essentials (TP, Cereal, Coffee and Beer).

In a time when the average plate of food has traveled thousands of miles just to feed you, it is important to think about what that food is doing to the environment, global trade, and your health.  Buying local and organic, whether at the farmers market, a farm club, or a grocery store, gives the consumer the oppertunity to get behind what you are eating.  To know what is in your food is to know what is in your body, and there are a lot of things in the food I have eaten throughout my life (and still sometimes today) I wouldn’t even want near my house, let alone my body.

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The Daily Hay is a daily feature, highlighting whatever I feel worthy of your 5 minutes or less. No real commentary, just a link to the article, music, or video. Enjoy.
KFB and I spent last night with Thievery Corporation.  The last of 5 straight sold out shows at the 9:30 club.  It was an incredible event, but this morning I’m definitely feeling to effects of too much boogie and too little sleep.  Good thing I still have their beats to get me though…

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The Daily Hay is a new daily feature, highlighting whatever I feel worthy of your 5 minutes or less.  No real commentary, just a link to the article, music, or video.  Enjoy.

NPR’s Morning Edition – Election Loss Tarnishes Obama’s First Year

“One year ago Barack Obama was inaugurated the 44th president of the United States. It was a time of great promise and his approval ratings reflected the hope the American people placed in him. One year later a lot has changed — including Tuesday’s loss of the Senate seat held by the late Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts.”

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Ed. Note – Mom, don’t worry.  I promise I’m safe.

It finally happened.  They got physical.

After a wonderful New Years Eve packed with grooves and booze at Wonderland, KFB and I decided to make our way to Tryst for brunch and some chill time.  About 4 hours later, with our stomachs full of quiche, waffles, and coffee, we finally got ourselves off their plump couches for a stroll down 18th St.  As one might expect, we made a few stops along the way.  First for a little snack and Amsterdam Falafel, then a little browsing at one of the Tibetan shops.  You could say it was a typical, peaceful trip to Adams Morgan.

After poking around for a bit, we decided it was time to pick up a bottle of wine and cook some dinner.  Unfortunately it wasn’t that easy.  As we walked out of the store, we were met by two guys harassing another at the bottom of the steps leading to the sidewalk.  Since they were blocking our way, we were forced to stop and wait until they finished.  My first thought was that they were about to fight, but the victim was smiling a little and clearly not trying to cause trouble.  He made his way through the guys, and kept walking.  I decided everything was fine and walked down to the sidewalk.  Immediately one of the guys jumps up in my face yelling some gibberish.  I really didn’t know what he was saying, or asking for, but he clearly wanted something.  My thoughts immediately went to trying to figure out where the second guy was.  I looked back up the stairs to make sure he was not headed towards KFB, and saw that she was quickly getting out of the way back up towards the store.  I find the second guy behind me, but he isn’t saying anything.  At this point I’m stuck between two huge dudes and beginning to freak out, but I keep my calm, repeating, “excuse me, we are just trying to get by.”

For me, it quickly turned from a fright to a real scare when the first guy grabs my arm with one hand, and raises a travel coffee mug above my head with the other.   He yells, “how much money do you have?!”  Not knowing what else to do, I just kept saying “excuse me, we are just trying to get by.”  Man, violently waving coffee mug, “How much money do you have?!” Me, “Excuse me sir, just trying to get by.”  He then lets go, and says something about his hand.  I use this opportunity to make my way out between some parked cars and towards the street.  They keep yelling something, but quickly get distracted by another man walking down a near by ally.  That guy quickly gets out of the way, and the two crazies finally continue walking down 18th St.  I look up to KFB and signal that it is OK to come down, we quickly run across the street to safety.  From there, we watch the two men greet the next people they see the exact same way.

Shaken up and still scared, we decide to call 911 since it seems they are going to do this to more people.  A few minutes later, as we are walking in the opposite direction, I see the flashing lights.

Thankfully nothing happened.  I still have my wallet, and neither of us got hurt.  But it left us both really shaken up.  All we could think about is what we would have done if something did escalate further.  I’ve had people yell things at me in the street before, but this was the first time anyone has gotten physical in DC.  Even though it was just an arm grab, touching and waving the mug took it to the next level.  Should I have tried to push back?  Probably not, since both of the guys were twice my size and had me sandwiched between them.  KFB had her phone ready the whole time, should she have called or yelled for help?  Maybe, but what if they did have weapons, that would have surely caused them to use them.

I’m not the kind of guy to worry about this stuff often, but it hits home when it is somewhere that you normally feel safe (well, aside from the typical 2:30 am belligerent ex-frat boys that usually hangs out in AdMo), especially in the early evening.  Makes you realize you never know when something will happen.  I guess all we can do is be prepared, or at least bring a change of pants…

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Running the Baltimore Marathon
Running the Baltimore Marathon

Seeing the first marathon blanket somewhere around mile 25 was the first time I knew for sure that I would finish the race. It had been a long, painful journey up to that point. Walking to the start Saturday morning, I couldn’t help but think back on all the work it took to get this far. All of the sacrifices I made and hours spent on the road, came down to that day, that morning. As I joined the thousands at the line, the excitement, anxiety, and nerves filled the air.

The gun went off, the crowd began to yell, and it all began.  The first few miles blew by.  I kept thinking to myself, “I sure hope the whole thing is this easy!”  Then, somewhere around mile 4, when everyone started feeling out their rhythms, Cheer Team Hay (CTH – comprised of Sister, Mother, Spud and Fam + a few others…that’s right, I had the biggest cheering section in the marathon) made their first appearance. They were loud, with 8, yes 8 cowbells, and signs to boot. The racers fed off their enthusiasm, and I quickly realized I might be the luckiest runner out there.

Things went pretty smoothly for the first half marathon. I quickly found my rhythm and cruised along without trouble. I crossed the half way point a few minutes under 2:00 feeling great. When I passed CTH around mile 14 I remember Sister saying, “you look great!” and I replied “I feel great!” Because I did…for about another 3 miles.

Miles 16-20 were uphill. I don’t know who the hell designed this course, but they clearly never ran it. The hills caused me to lose stride, slowing me way down. By the time I reached the top of the climb, I had hit the wall, with little left to recover. Mile 20-21 might have been the longest. It circled a lake, so I could see the other end. With every step, the end grew increasingly far way.

By this time the half marathoners had thinned out the marathoners, making it feel more and more lonely. As they zoomed by with fresh legs, the only thing that kept me going was the knowledge that they may cross the finish line first, but I will have run twice as far.

A buddy from college told me the other day, “Remember, the last 6 is what you trained for.” He was totally right. The first 20 was tough, but NOTHING compared to the end. The fun was over, the excitement gone, and for miles 20-25, every stride was a challenge.

Then finally, the first sighting. That sighting of the first marathon blanket was more brilliant than any view of the inner harbor. It brought hope, energy, and drive back into my step. I could finally taste the finish, and it tasted sweet.

The last mile grew louder, as the spectators grew in numbers. Running through the gates of Camden Yards, it felt like I was flying, with the clank of the cowbells from CTH carrying me the last few tenths of a mile.

As I crossed the line, emotion took the best of me. The pain, exhaustion, excitement, accomplishment, and relief came pouring out in the form of dry tears. A feeling I never want to forget.

I’m proud to report, I accomplished both my goals for the weekend!