What I do in between marathons...

…is, apparently, running a half marathon on a whim. And also doing some training runs to try and get faster.

Over the last two years, I've battled some running injuries. I refused to postpone my marathon dreams (achieving Titanium status in the Marathon Maniacs, and aggressively pursuing my 50 states marathon quest), so I kept running with injuries like plantar fasciitis, and a stress fracture to my tibia. That meant that I pretty much only ran on race days, without so much training in between races. I was able to maintain my endurance to go 26.2 miles, but my overall fitness and my speed (what I had) suffered. So, I'm now challenging myself to get into better shape, and get back to my PR pace. My four-fold approach:

1) Run every Tuesday night with Shirlington Running Club. I've been a member since the club's inception in 2009, but I've missed more of the weekly 3 mile runs than I care to admit. No longer. This is my primary run club and I have some good running buddies to hang out with every week.

2) Run every Thursday night with Shirlington Running Group. This club is sort of a spin-off from the SRC. Same 3 mile route, some of the same people.

Thursday night running group; that's club founder Gary in the Half Fanatics shirt, left of me

3) Do some sort of strength exercises/calisthenics every day. I'm just using some plans found on the internet, or exercises found in magazines. Currently, these little workouts are only about 15 minutes per day. Later on I may focus more on strength, but for now I'm proud of just doing something.

4) Participate in Friends & Fitness, a half marathon training group. This is the group I ran with when I was getting back in gear in 2011. Even though I can already run 26.2, my plan for F&F is to build mileage in a faster pace group. This should ultimately improve my marathon times. F&F does Saturday morning long runs that I'll participate in when I'm in town, and Wednesday night track and hill workouts that will push me harder than I would push myself.

Since getting over my monster spring cold, I've been good about running with the three groups above, and doing my at-home strength training. When I faced Memorial Day weekend with no scheduled races or workouts on Sunday or Monday, I felt left out. So, I registered last minute to run the Alexandria Running Festival Half Marathon. Why not, after all? It would be a good training run a week before my next marathon.

The race was scheduled for the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. It started and ended near the Patent & Trademark Office on the edge of Old Town Alexandria (same location as the GW Birthday Classic 10K that I ran in February). The course went out and back on Eisenhower Avenue, which wasn't the most interesting part of the course. In between the legs on Eisenhower, we got to run through some more scenic parks and neighborhoods, but also some odd sections such as an out & back through a warehouse/industrial strip.

At the start outside the Patent & Trademark Office

One of the welcomed shady spots on the course on this hot day (75 degrees)

Remembering that it was Memorial Day weekend, I paused to appreciate this memorial in James Marx All Veterans Park

We crossed over Cameron Run a few times on these nice wooden bridges

I met several Half Fanatics at this race, none of whom I knew. I particularly enjoyed talking with Beverly and Gretchen, and Double Agent Sima before the race. I recognized Sima and determined that it must have been from last summer's Half Saur Half Kraut Marathon in Philadelphia.

With Half Fanatics Gretchen, Sima and Beverly

I met Maniac Brooke, whose charity Running Brooke was one of the race beneficiaries; Brooke has finished her 50 states, 7 continents and all world marathon majors, and is passionate about helping low income children to get fit

I thought this race was well organized with a couple minor missteps. Two of the aid stations ran out of cups; they did still have water and Gatorade for refilling your own bottles. None of the aid stations had any kind of food such as fruit or gels; on a hot, late May day, this would have been much appreciated. And finally, the course ran past Port City Brewing Company, Alexandria's hometown craft brewery, but the beer we were served at the finish festival was Bud Light. It would be really nice if the RD considers teaming up with Port City to supply the finish festival beer next year, and Port City could have a cheering section outside the brewery, helping to motivate runners to get to the finish line for the awesome brews!

So, that's what I've been up to for a couple weeks in between running marathons. Keeping busy and trying to get fit. Next up: a scenic marathon in South Dakota with a couple of Maniac friends. Can't wait!


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