Thursday, December 29, 2016

Tiny Email Glitch on Kiprunning Website; We're Working on It

We're offering a brief update to let you know that the Coach Kiprunning website has started experiencing some intermittent problems with the email functionality embedded in the Runner's and Sports Club Questionnaires.

As with all things like this, these problems have arisen unexpectedly and with little formal explanation.  Thus, we are beginning the process of troubleshooting and correcting this tiny glitch.  I hope that we can fix things very quickly.

In the meantime, rest assured that everything is secure; all form submissions are being correctly stored in WordPress, so there's no worry there.  Also, since Coach Komen's runner registration process is multilayered, he will still very quickly know when his runners are contacting him through the site.  There is just the small possibility that he will be delayed in responding to those inquiries.

If you happen to be experiencing a delay in response, we invite you to send a follow-up email to info[at]coachkiprunning[dot]com, indicating the nature of your inquiry.  Coach Komen will then be able to respond to you efficiently and directly.

We apologize for this minor inconvenience.  I can assure you that we are working to fix it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Coach Kiprunning Facebook Update

We're happy to announce that we have launched an official public Coach Kiprunning Facebook page. We have updated our various social media links here and on the main Coach Kiprunning website to reflect this new account.  We encourage you to like the page and to invite others to like it as well.

Once again, Coach Kiprunning is also on Twitter and Instagram, so you can definitely follow along in those places as well.

We look forward to interacting with you!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Coach Kiprunning's 2016 Holiday Training Discounts for Runners

Coach Kiprunning is pleased to offer a holiday gift for the runner in your life.

From December 15, 2016-December 29, 2016, Wilson Komen will be offering the following deals on his personalized training plans:

  • Runners signing up for 2 months of online coaching will receive 1 month free, for a total training cycle of 3 months 
  • Runners signing up for a customized training plan of 8 weeks will receive 4 additional weeks for free, for a total training cycle of 12 weeks 

These deals are available to all runners—novice and experienced alike—for any distance from the 5KM to the full marathon.

To take advantage of this deal, select your desired option from Coach Komen’s coaching services page, and complete the purchase process for the training plan that you would like.

When completing the Runner’s Questionnaire as part of this process, enter the promo code “kiprunning holiday gift 2016” in the Additional Comments box at the bottom of the questionnaire. Failure to enter this code will void this offer.

Upon receiving your order, Coach Komen will contact you to discuss your training plan.

Limited to 14 total orders.

If you have questions about this holiday deal, contact Wilson Komen.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Good Luck, Marine Corps Marathon Runners

This Sunday, my birthday, actually, marks the running of the 41st Marine Corps Marathon.  This race is the premier marathon event in Washington, DC and its immediate vicinity.  Coach Kiprunning will be represented in this year's event, and wish our runners--and the rest of you--all the best for a successful race.

I have actually never run the MCM (though I certainly know many people who have).  For any number of reasons, my training schedule has never quite matched up with this particular race. However, in 2012, I did participate in the MCM 10K.  It was a strange day.  Apparently, a suspicious package was found somewhere on the course, so race officials stopped all of the 10K runners, mid-race, right at the Pentagon.  We were about a mile out from the finish line at that time.  As a result, many of us bunched up as we waited for the course to clear.  Given that our race clock was a common clock with the full marathon, our time kept running, while we kept standing.  Eventually, the course was cleared, and we all sprinted toward the finish.  The winner came in at a time of 46:34.  Then, Hurricane Sandy showed up just in time for the end of the full marathon.  Unusual, to say the least.

Regardless, the finish line and the finisher's festival was that day--and remains to this day--professionally run and openly welcoming to runners and spectators alike.  Though I've seen some modest quibbling about whether or not the race truly remains "the People's Marathon," now that it requires a lottery entry, I maintain that it is a much more runner friendly event than many of the larger marathons that get a little more press coverage.  I also, for whatever odd reason, enjoy seeing the annual spray painting of the MCM mile markers on Hains Point.

As has been chronicled at length, the DC Metro's SafeTrack project has caused some minor chaos for commuting to the race.  The MCM website has a good list of commuting resources available for anyone who needs them.

In the coming week or so, we'll post an update about how our runners performed in the event.  In the meantime, once again, we wish you all the best.  Take it easy in the next two days, eat good food, and have a great race.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Meb Keflezighi: Forever Young?

I'm turning 39 in just a few days, so the shadow of my forties is starting to creep ever closer to my worn running shoes and the aging feet that they contain.

Bryan Borzykowski at Forbes recently published a good short article about Meb Keflezighi and how he approaches his training at age 41.  It's an article that can imbue you with a sense of youth if you are anything like me: a person who can't help but wonder how immediately the PRs will stop coming (if they haven't already).  Meb is still doing this running thing at an incredibly high level in his early 40's, which is reassuring.

At the same time, this article will likely make the vast majority of you feel old, because Meb apparently ran a 5:20 mile when he was in the seventh grade.

So there's also that little fact to consider.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Kiprunning Sports Club Training Update: 10/16/2016

Now that we have entered autumn, and the temperatures here in Washington, DC have dropped to more reasonable levels, The Kiprunning Sports Club will return to its usual meeting time of 7:45 am on Saturday mornings for our usually scheduled long run.

As always, we will meet at Georgetown Running Company, which is located at 3401 M St. NW, Washington, DC 20007.

Monday, October 10, 2016

The New Coach Kiprunning Website Has Launched

I am pleased to announce that the revisions to the Coach Kiprunning website are officially complete. With the exception of the typical tinkering with some small appearance settings, the site is now current and stable, and it reflects the contemporary scope of the coaching services that I offer.

One of the more dramatic adjustments that I have made in recent months is tailoring my personalized coaching to offer a more streamlined--but yet dynamic--group of services.  I am still very much available to work personally in a one-on-one setting with trainees who are local to the Washington, DC area.  In addition, however, I am also available to work with runners at a distance, either online or through Skype, and I welcome the opportunity to offer coaching to domestic and international runners.  I am also able to offer customized training plans that runners from anywhere in the world can implement on their own.

As I make clear on the site, I am available to coach recreational and competitive runners alike.  No prior running and racing experience is necessary.  My goal is to help enhance your experience with the sport, and I will work with you no matter what your performance goals are--whether you are seeking to qualify for the Boston Marathon or are training for your first 5K.  If you have any questions, please contact me.

Finally, as I have been slowly advertising over the past year, the Kiprunning Sports Club is officially accepting new members.  In order to ensure quality training and racing experiences for all participants, I have set qualifying standards for club membership, and I have opened the club to competitive and elite runners.  Unlike my coaching services, the Sports Club does require prior running and road racing experience for membership.  As always, though, I welcome your questions if you are interested in joining the club but are unsure about the basic requirements.

Over time, I am hoping to develop--and to offer--additional forms of coaching assistance.  As that happens, I will update the site accordingly, and I will certainly publish updates here on this blog.  In the meantime, I invite all of you to follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.  Now that the site is complete, I will be turning my attention to my social media accounts in an effort to interact with many of you there.

As always, run safe, and run steady.

Sincerely,

Coach Wilson

Saturday, September 17, 2016

A Successful Encoded Baton Pass

It has been a strange week on this blog.  For some reason, on Monday morning, when we informed you that the Kiprunning Sports Club details are finalized, Blogger decided to stop properly sharing the meta search descriptions for all of our posts over on Facebook.  This bothered me, because I hadn't tinkered with this blog's HTML since April, and even then, my modest adjustment--singular--had nothing to do with the post search description function.  Moreover, that adjustment worked perfectly with the rest of the blog for months.  Why the sudden problems?


Thus ensued endless hours of frustration and despair.  Anyone who earnestly believes that the Internet fosters open democratic communication should do three things:
  1. open a Blogger account
  2. open a Facebook account
  3. try to make them get along
Shortly after doing these three things, you will be disabused of your optimism.

Now, at the end of the week, we seem to have gotten this matter fixed . . . until it breaks again (for reasons that will never be clear).  I hope that doesn't happen, though.

In the meantime, we owe a heartfelt thanks to Dr. Sara Hooshangi, who took time out of her Thursday morning to start hacking through the impenetrable Blogger code that had flummoxed me for most of the week.

We also cannot thank enough Kevin Thompson.  Who is Kevin Thompson?  Kevin Thompson is a programmer extraordinaire.  He has also been a dear friend of mine since we were teenagers (I actually think I was twelve when I met him).  We met at the first day of cross country practice in high school, and we spent many afternoons riding buses to various running events in the early 1990s.  Lots of memories; lots of them about running.

After high school, we actually went to college together, where we lived together as roommates.  

That last part is crucial, by the way, because on Thursday night, after hours of phone conversation and virtual conferencing about this matter, I was quite confident that my wife was giving me the boot. At least, I think that's what the packed suitcase that she placed by the door was supposed to mean. Kevin was going to have to take me in again!

<b:if  cond=hours of uninterrupted HTML blather>
<meta content='anger and boredom' og: spousal emotional state>
<b:if else=sleep on the couch with your computer>

If you have no idea what that means, let me assure you, there are lots of us who don't.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Q: Is Running Bad for You?

A: No.

(As always, we invite more nuanced discussion and commentary in the comments section.  I, for one, am very interested in the following part:
The issue here, as pointed out in an excellent special report by Alex Hutchinson published this month in Runner's World, is what happens long term to your heart if you are a pretty serious runner, averaging 20 or more miles a week consistently for a long time.
I'm having an unusually hard time finding that particular report--I'm also at work--but nevertheless, I'm wondering about what would constitute a "long time."  Also, as the rest of Gleiser's article points out, the body has a way of indicating instances of overuse.  At worst, those indications are injuries. I've run over twenty miles a week for a "long time," but I haven't done so uninterrupted because of the usual intermittent injuries.  How do those natural interruptions factor into all of this?  Again, discuss!)

Monday, September 12, 2016

Kiprunning Sports Club Details Are Finalized

As promised, we have been working steadily on a variety of website updates to Coach Kiprunning [dot] com. I'm happy to announce that the new Coach Kiprunning website is roughly 85% complete. Over the next few weeks, we hope to finalize some remaining details to tie up the small amount of loose ends that we have dangling out there.  As always, if you have questions in the meantime, please contact me.

The big news that I want to share today is that the Kiprunning Sports Club section of the site is, essentially, finalized.  The information contained on that section of the site is current and accurate, and it reflects our functioning at this time, the fall of 2016.  I very much welcome DC-area competitive runners to consider joining the club, and I'll look forward to receiving any questions or inquiries that you might have about it.

Until then, run steady.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Reader's Poll: What Are Your Favorite Running Routes?

Somehow we missed Condé Nast Traveler's brief slideshow "9 Best Places to Run in the U.S."  Thank you, Facebook feed, for informing me of this slideshow.

Give the list a look.  It's brief, and of course it's subject to debate.  That's what our comments section is for!  What are your favorite running routes--in the United States and elsewhere?  Let's add them to our Long Run Route page.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Lorem Ipsum Dolor Sit Amet. New Kiprunning Website Imminent.

We've been teasing Coach Kiprunning website updates for the better part of the summer.  I'm happy to say that we have reached the point where we can stop teasing and can start updating.

Over the next two weeks, Coach Kiprunning dot com will be undergoing a series of significant changes.  While the main navigation is likely to remain very much the same, all of the content will be updated to reflect Wilson Komen's current coaching practices.  Moreover, the Kiprunning Sports Club page will be revised to offer a current picture of how the club is functioning and, more importantly, how you can join it.

We will also be updating the various forms that new trainees complete when beginning their work with Wilson.

As we are making these updates, there is a chance that certain pages might be down temporarily.  If you have any questions, and cannot get answers to those questions on the Kiprunning website, please contact Wilson Komen by email at info@coachkiprunning.com.

You can also feel free to hit me up on Twitter @JosephPFisher1.

We're looking forward to launching the new site--and, of course, to running with you.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Monitoring National Capital Trail Development

The National Park Service has recently released their very comprehensive Paved Trail Study, which details the development of an interconnected, multi-use paved trail network in and around Washington, DC.  National Parks Traveler has published a great overview of the project, apparently called the National Capital Trail, complete with a map that tentatively outlines the trail system.

Clearly this work, if it proceeds, will be part of a very long process that will require coordination between different jurisdictions and government agencies.  Nevertheless, the prospects are interesting, and we'll definitely monitor how things proceed from here.

Monday, July 25, 2016

East Coast Greenway in the News!

This past weekend, the East Coast Greenway, a 3,000-mile bike path that will (eventually) run continuously from Maine to Florida, was a trending topic on Facebook.  That was a good thing, because this project is great.

If you're interested in learning more about the East Coast Greenway, check out the ECG's official contact page, which includes links to their social media feeds.  Also, definitely bookmark their Instagram feed, which contains some excellent pictures of the portions of the trail that have already been completed.

Though the project is still years away from completion, DC-area walkers, runners, bikers, and hikers have likely noticed signs for the trail running through the city and into Virginia over the Arlington Memorial Bridge.  If you're interested in piecing together a route, check out the extensive list of maps and cue sheets available on the ECG's website.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Summer Running: Hydration Tips

Clearly, it is summertime in Washington, DC, which means hot, sunny, humidity-soaked days, and lots of afternoon thunderstorms.  This coming weekend's temperatures are looking to crack 100 degrees, so it is important for all runners to take personal hydration very seriously.  Dehydration and heat exhaustion are, obviously, not good at all, so everyone should be taking a few extra steps to prepare for those upcoming weekend long runs.

For starters, definitely take a look at our (always evolving) list of long run route options for suggestions about trails and bike paths that allow easy access to water.  Just remember to run these trails at your own risk; Coach Kiprunning is not accountable for broken water fountains or other service interruptions.

In addition, be sure to begin your long run early in the day, perhaps rolling back your start time by 30-90 minutes, depending on your personal schedule.  If that kind of an adjustment is not possible, do not worry about reducing the distance that you plan to run.  Your marathon training--or whatever training you are doing--will not suffer based on a single long run that you cut short to remain safe.

On the run itself, stay hydrated.  Wear breathable clothing that will wick moisture away from your skin so that you don't smother yourself.  Then, drink at regular intervals.

As with most anything pertaining to food or liquid consumption, there will be variability from person to person as far as what kinds of hydration work well and, naturally, the volumes of fluid that you should consume--as well as the kind of food you should be eating.  Runner's World offers a very comprehensive guide to hydration and dehydration.  I encourage all of you--novice and experienced alike--to read through the variety of articles in that guide.  In particular, consult Dimity McDowell's "8 Hydration Myths Busted" for some guidance on how to monitor your fluid consumption while avoiding the pitfalls of drinking too much water.

Finally, two quick pieces of important advice: don't forget the sunscreen, and feel very free to conclude your run by jumping in a pool, if you can.  There's no better way to celebrate the beginning of a warm Saturday than with a post-long run swim.

Run steady, and stay safe.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Coach Kiprunning on the Trail: Southern Utah


We apologize for the lack of updates over the past few weeks.  Our sluggishness in this venue is due in large part to our ongoing website revision project (we hope to launch a new site in early August!).  In addition, however, I have been away on an excellent vacation that kept me unplugged from the Internet for about ten days.  It was glorious.

This particular vacation found my wife and I doing a bunch of day hiking in Southern Utah--in Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and throughout (to a degree) Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  The landscape differs widely between all of these locations, but at no point is it anything less than stunning.  If you haven't made a trip to these parks, you should make a trip to these parks.  The Colorado Plateau is too beautiful for words.

I first came to hiking as a modest hobby over a decade ago, when my wife and I took a few hours of our honeymoon to do a spontaneous nighttime walk to what was then an active lava flow on Kīlauea. Since that time, we've hiked to the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon twice (once via the South Kaibab and Bright Angel Trails; once clear across the Canyon from the North Rim), completed a bunch of day hikes in the Shenandoah National Park, and ventured on a three-day backpacking trip in Haleakalā Crater. We’re not exactly hardcore, but we’re also pretty solid for two people who only backpack intermittently between marathon training.

Someday, when all of my PRs are behind me (I hope that’s not right now), I plan to devote more time and energy to this particular hobby, learning wilderness survival skills and so forth. I’ve already got my sights set on the Classic Mauna Loa hike and the full Trans-Zion Trek. We’ll see what happens.

In the meantime, day hiking it is.

Prior to this vacation, neither my wife nor I had been to any of these three parks. We actually hadn’t been to Utah at all (the beer really isn’t that bad, by the way). The most popular portion of Zion National Park, the one where visitors can find The Narrows and Angels Landing, immediately offers hikers expansive views of the park’s towering canyon walls.

As is customary, I will reiterate that the river did all of this.
We mostly avoided many of the park’s dedicated out-and-back routes simply because it was overwhelmingly crowded. It actually took us about two hours to get to a point where we could even begin hiking. As a result, we just improvised a long circuit hike made from portions of Zion’s West Rim Trail. The nice thing about this particular trail is that it rises in elevation pretty rapidly, which allows hikers to enjoy panoramic views of the vast canyon with relative ease. Looking down at the humble (in parts) Virgin River really does seem to capture the feel of a classic American Western.

Feels a bit like The Oregon Trail, eh?
On our second day in Zion, we decided to drive to the northwestern portion of the park to explore the Kolob Canyons. This tiny quadrant of Zion is much, much more accessible than the portion in Springdale, UT, and it is much, much, much less crowded, which was a huge plus. Given time constraints, we opted for just one of Kolob’s more popular hikes: the Taylor Creek Trail.

It’s worth pointing out that we were in the desert in July, so this relatively easy trail through and around the creek was a great way to stay comfortable and cool in otherwise oppressive conditions. Plus, eating lunch at the Double Arch Alcove was wonderful.

Mercifully for all of you, this picture was taken after I put on my shirt.

The beauty of the Double Arch Alcove, which should distract you from horrible thoughts of me without a shirt 
From Zion, we traveled east to Escalante, buzzing by Bryce Canyon along the way. Bryce, my friend, we will be back, because I think we should spend some time together.

Bryce Canyon, begging for some backpacking time
When we finally arrived in Escalante, after several hours of car travel that found me pulling over every 100 feet to gape in awe at the landscape, we were shrouded in serene silence. Prior to this trip, I had spent the better part of the past decade fawning over Arizona, which, outside of Phoenix, is generally gorgeous (there’s also excellent running there). After going to Escalante, though, I think I might spend the better part of the next decade endlessly extolling the virtues of The Grand Staircase, because it is otherworldly in its beauty.

Words, there are none.

What I often enjoy most about hiking is the way that it appeals to my literary sensibilities. It’s impossible to spend time in the expansive isolation of a place like Escalante and 1) not feel inspired by the raw power of nature; and 2) not be entirely humbled by that power. The entire Grand Staircase National Monument spans about 1.9 million acres of harsh, abrasive landscape that brings nature’s sublimity into stark relief. The monument’s endless shelves of slickrock simultaneously beckon to visitors—they appear easy to traverse—while also guaranteeing danger and despair to those who are unprepared or who otherwise underestimate the demands that this landscape places on its visitors.

The author, in the distance, slickrock scrambling

Good to know
As I said to my wife, Escalante made me feel small. Apart from it being huge, it is also entirely “off the grid,” as they say. Cell phone reception outside of the town of Escalante itself is at best inconsistent but, for the most part, is nonexistent. This doubles, of course, for the Internet. Escalante truly is a place “to get away from it all,” but it is also a place that is absolutely away from it all. My meager (as of right now) wilderness skills wouldn’t sustain me for too long out there, which is why, again, we opted for some straightforward day hikes.

Lower Calf Creek Falls from the bottom

Lower Calf Creek Falls, perilously, from the top
Finally, our trip ended rather unceremoniously in Las Vegas.  I won't post any pictures from that leg of the journey because, after all, this is a family blog.  Also, if you've ever seen a Gucci store, then you've seen about 80% of the Vegas Strip.  And, you know, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas for the good of everyone involved.

Now, I'm back.  It pains me to admit that the summer is about half over.  The upside is that the fall racing season is almost upon us.  I needed this vacation.  I had this vacation.  Now, back to work.

I'll see you out there.  Just stay cool in this summer heat.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Friday Funny

It's July 1, and here in the United States, we are preparing for a long holiday weekend in celebration of Independence Day on July 4th.

It is in that spirit that I am calling attention to the dog in the following video.  This dog is a good dog, and on this Friday before a weekend of what I hope will be rest and cookouts for all of you, I think we can all learn a thing or two from this dog.

Sometimes, we just need to rest and relax.  Right there, right now, whatever is comfortable.  Just relax.

Runners, if you have long workouts scheduled for this weekend, keep our furry friend in mind: run, and then stop, and then relax.
A safe holiday to all of you.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Summer 2016 Kiprunning Sports Club Saturday Long Run Update

Given that it is now officially summertime, we will be moving back the start time of the weekly Kiprunning Sports Club Saturday long run in order to avoid the heat.

For the duration of the 2016 summer season, we will start our Saturday long runs at 7:00 a.m.  We will continue to meet at Georgetown Running Company, which is located at 3401 M St. NW, Washington, DC 20007.

When the temperature begins to drop in the fall, we will adjust the start time back to 7:45 a.m.

Please contact me with any inquiries about Sports Club membership.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Summer Running: Feeling Hot Hot Hot!!!

It's summer here in North America, and for all of us runners, we are entering a time of great struggle against the elements.  The heat, the sun, the humidity--all of them present unique training challenges that, when combined (as they often are in Washington, DC), make for a very difficult training season.
Runner's World offers a fairly comprehensive summer guide for training in these hot months.  Susan Paul's article "10 Steps for Making Hot Weather Tolerable" is particularly helpful.  Read all of this in the late morning, after you've completed your workout.

Stay hydrated, stay safe, and run well.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Kiprunning Sports Club Training Update: 6/18/2016

The Kiprunning Sports Club will meet this Saturday morning, 6/18/2016, at 7:45 am for our usually scheduled long run. As usual, we will meet at Georgetown Running Company, which is located at 3401 M St. NW, Washington, DC 20007.

Once again, we are very much in the process of revising the Coach Kiprunning website.  Therefore, I encourage you to contact me directly if you are interested in joining the club or have questions about my other coaching services.  I want to make sure that I can offer you the most current and accurate information about Coach Kiprunning.  That information might not be reflected on the website at this very moment.  Soon, though, it will be.

I hope to see you on Saturday.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Kiprunning Sports Club Training Update: 6/4/2016

The Kiprunning Sports Club will meet this Saturday morning, 6/4/2016, at 7:45 am for our usually scheduled long run. As usual, we will meet at Georgetown Running Company, which is located at 3401 M St. NW, Washington, DC 20007.

Please note that, as part of our ongoing website revision, we are updating our membership dues structure.  Therefore, interested participants are encouraged to contact me for current, accurate membership information, as the current website details are not entirely correct.

I will look forward to working with you.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Upcoming Coach Kiprunning Website Updates

Our Coach Kiprunning website underwent a significant revision roughly two years ago.  In that time, we have monitored traffic on the site to get the best sense of how our visitors are interacting with it and what improvements we can continue to make to it.

Now the time has come to work on some additional updates and tweaks to the site, keeping in mind the ways that we can offer our visitors the best user experience possible.

As a result, it is possible, though we hope to minimize this possibility, that our visitors might experience modest interruptions and glitches on the site over the next few weeks as we tinker with it. We apologize in advance for these slight inconveniences.

To try to remain accessible to all of you, we are alerting you once again that our contact information is included in the bottom right margin of this blog.  Please let us know if you have questions about Kiprunning's coaching services or the Sports Club and if, for any reason, you are having difficulty finding the appropriate information on the official website.  You can also feel free to hit me up on Twitter @JosephPFisher1.

We hope to have everything updated by mid-summer, so we are going to work to be as efficient as possible.  Thanks for your patience.

P.S.  Stay connected with us this blog, too.  We will continue to update it while we are working on the website.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sunday Funny

Late last week, Washingtonian Magazine published a great exposé on the mythological being known as The Sun.  Supposedly, this being was ready to emerge to dry off the rain-soaked DC area, providing us with something called "warmth" in the process:
Warmth is a feeling brought about by The Sun and its magical rays. It starts on the skin’s surface and eventually melts into your bones, provoking you to take off your wooly cardigan and lift your face towards the sky. Important: DO NOT lift your face toward the sky if the rain continues. You will get wet again and you are out of dry towels.
Warmth is apparently a thing that runners need to monitor, because it is something that, according to Runner's World, can have a negative effect on a runner's physical well-being.  We trust that this is true, but as of today, we are uncertain if warmth, or "warmth," will ever visit our humble urban center.

In the meantime, please read both of the above hyperlinked articles in anticipation of the remote possibility that at some undetermined time in the future, we will be "warm," "dry," and full of joy.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Kiprunning Sports Club Training Update: 5/14/2016

The Kiprunning Sports Club will meet this Saturday morning, 5/14/16, at 7:45 am for our usually scheduled long run.  As always, we will meet at Georgetown Running Company, which is located at 3401 M St. NW, Washington, DC 20007.

In the meantime, if you have questions about your workout, or about the Sports Club in general, please contact me.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Race Recap: 2016 DC Komen 5K Race for the Cure

This past Saturday, I ran my fifth Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K, the race dedicated to fighting breast cancer. As always, the experience was amazing. Estimates place the total field at about 15,000 people, which is just incredible for a 5K. People from all walks of life participate in this event, and the proceeds go to a great cause.

The start of the 2016 DC Komen 5K Race for the Cure
For me, this is a race of remembrance and a chance to make a small contribution to cancer research. When I participate in this race, I remember my mother, who I lost to an unrelated form of cancer, which she struggled with for a long time. A few springs back, I lost her just a couple of weeks before the Komen 5K.

This race is filled with great people
I say all of this to emphasize that, sometimes, it’s best to approach races like this without the usual goals of setting a PR or winning an award. Instead, it can be a great experience simply to enjoy the course—the Komen DC route is particularly beautiful—and knowing that your effort is supporting a cause that benefits thousands of people.

I ran well on Saturday. The course is flat and fast, and if you are looking for a 5K PR, this is a good race for that, particularly if the weather cooperates (Saturday morning was quite beautiful—partly sunny and in the 50s).

A view of the Jefferson Memorial
Joseph P. Fisher insisted on this duck picture
The field tends to be more relaxed and recreational, but there are always a few very competitive runners who participate in the race. Again, I have run this race five times, and I have been fortunate enough to win it three times. No matter how I perform, though, I always enjoy the opportunity to run strong with some local runners.

Congratulations to all the runners and walkers of the 2016 Susan G. Komen race. It was great to be out there with all of you.

Remember, run steady, and run strong.

Wilson

Friday, May 6, 2016

Coach Kiprunning at Legal Deboccery with The Capital Area Food Bank

Coach Kiprunning was honored to be a part of the 2016 Legal Deboccery event, organized by the Women's Bar Association.  This event was held at Pinstripes in Georgetown.

For the third consecutive year, Legal Deboccery has served as the kickoff event for the Capital Area Food Bank's Food from the Bar Campaign. This campaign is a partnership between the Capital Area Food Bank and DC's legal community. In 2015 alone, the Food from the Bar Campaign raised $261,000 for hunger relief efforts in Washington, DC; Maryland; and Virginia.  Since 2008, the DC legal community has provided funding for over 2,000,000 meals.

Legal Deboccery was sponsored by Koonz, McKenney, Johnson, DePaolis & Lightfoot; Alderson Court Reporting; and Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, PA.  Raffle prizes were provided by Coach Kiprunning, Running Specialty Group (care of Georgetown Running Company), DC Road Runners, Mayor Muriel Bowser, LexisNexis, Pinstripes, and Blue Star Case Solutions.

Once again, we are grateful that we were asked to participate in this event, and we look forward to being a part of similar events in the future.

Event photos below:

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Kiprunning Sports Club Training Update: 5/7/2016

Runners,

The Kiprunning Sports Club will not be meeting this Saturday morning, 5/7/16, for our long run.  I will be competing in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and as a result, I will not be available to coordinate this Saturday's workout.

In the meantime, if you have questions about your workout, please contact me.

We will continue with the Saturday morning long runs on the morning of May 14, 2016.  Sports Club members should plan to meet at 7:45 am at Georgetown Running Company on that day.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Race Recap: 2016 New Jersey Half Marathon


Runners do actually "run the shore" in this race
Though I didn't participate in this year's New Jersey Half (or full) Marathon, I had a great time attending the event and watching the race.  I've run in both the half and full marathons in the past, and I do think that this race is rapidly becoming one of my favorite spring running events.  The field is not too large--but yet remains serious and competitive--so the registration process is very low stress. The organizers also allow for event changes and registration deferrals, both of which are helpful when unexpected injuries--are there any other kind of injuries?--arise.  Finally, the support along the course is seamless and professional, making it an experience that is on par with the race's more famous Northeast siblings in New York and Boston.

The respective courses, in their own ways, offer runners exactly the kind of running routes that they need to perform well.  The half marathon course, which roughly follows the first 11 miles of the full marathon course, snakes back and forth through  Oceanport, Monmouth Beach, and Long Branch, offering participants a good amount of shielding from any aggressive winds coming off of the ocean. This portion of the course offers the race's only significant hills, and those hills only climb a few modest feet in elevation.  Beyond that, the course is flat, and after the first 8 miles, it starts to stretch out, giving everyone an opportunity to work the last 5K without the interference of sharp turns.

The full marathon course hooks south on Ocean Avenue at roughly mile 11.5, at which point the course turns into an elongated straightaway through Deal and out to Asbury Park and Ocean Grove. This stretch is helpful for marathoners as they are settling into a cruise pace on the way out and are, we hope, hanging onto a more aggressive pace on the way back.  The only tricky factor here can be the elements.  If it's hot, runners are really exposed on this stretch for most of the second half of the race.  The same applies in windy conditions and, as was the case this past Sunday, rainy weather as well.  Still, this section of the course affords runners an excellent opportunity to establish solid consistent pacing on the back end of the race.

In addition, the spectating experience is equally excellent.  Since the race begins in one of the large parking lots at Monmouth Park racetrack, runners and spectators alike have plenty of room to get to the start and to get the kind of positioning that they want.

Even if you are fast, you are not horse racing fast, but you feel that way when a bugler calls you to post
It's also worth nothing that this race is one of the few where the start line experience is similarly exciting for both runners and spectators.  Each of the event's waves are called to post by Monmouth Park's bugler, which is both adorable and energizing, even if you are only boarding a spectator bus to take you to mile 10, which is what I did.

Speaking of mile 10, excellent coffee for the spectators:

Their pastries are really good, too
Coach Kiprunning did have one runner compete in this past Sunday's event--my brother Kevin, actually--and he set a PR by about eleven minutes, so that was really, really great.  Last Sunday's conditions were not ideal--it started to rain with conviction about an hour after the race began--so to have anyone set a PR on that day (I'm sure many people did) was definitely a great accomplishment. Chronotrack lists the results for both races, so give them a look.  It was a good, if wet, day out there. Congratulations to all of you.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Good Luck 2016 New Jersey Half and Full Marathoners

Coach Kiprunning will be represented at this weekend's Novo Nordisk New Jersey Half Marathon.  We wish all runners--half and full--the best of luck.

I've run both the New Jersey Half and the New Jersey full, and I can say that they are both great courses.  They are flat, and if the conditions are right, they can be really fast.

It's looking like it might be rainy on Sunday, but if the wind stays down, the wetness shouldn't be too much of an issue.  

If you're hoping to qualify for the 2017 Boston Marathon, this is a great course for that accomplishment (I ran my 2016 qualifying time in NJ back in 2015).  Once again, we wish you the best of luck.

If you're aiming for the half, may all of you set strong personal records, and may you eat lots of WindMill cheese fries in spirited celebration.

And now, the obligatory Bruce Springsteen warm-up music:

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Announcement: The Kiprunning Sports Club is Open

Runners,

I am happy to announce the official start of the Kiprunning Sports Club.  This club is open to competitive-tier runners—both men and women—looking to improve their times.  Interested runners should consult the Sports Club page on the Coach Kiprunning website for qualifying standards to ensure that they meet the basic requirements for participation.

The first official meeting of the Kiprunning Sports Club will be on Saturday morning, April 30, 2016, at 7:45 am.  Runners should meet at Georgetown Running Company, which is located at 3401 M Street NW, Washington DC, 20007.

Additional workouts will be assigned and organized on an ongoing basis as the club takes shape.

To join, visit the Services page of Coach Kiprunning, and complete, and submit, the questionnaire and waiver forms at the bottom of the page.  Once I receive and review your information, I will call you to discuss participation requirements and membership dues.

If you have questions in the meantime, feel free to contact me.

Also, I encourage you to check the Sports Club page on this blog for ongoing updates and information.

I will look forward to working with you.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

RunWashington Congratulates DC-Based Boston Marathoners

RunWashington published a full list of the DC-area runners who competed in this past Monday's 120th running of the Boston Marathon.  Give it a read.

Congratulations to everyone who ran on Monday--DC-based and non-DC-based alike!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The 2016 Boston Marathon: Run Steady, Run Strong

Enjoy the Boston Marathon, even when you are waiting at the start
It goes without saying that the Boston marathon is legendary. It is one of the toughest, but best, marathons in the world. I have had the good fortune to run it three times. Each experience was different and intense.

There are three core variables that determine a successful marathon: a good training plan, good nutrition, and the weather. The weather is obviously beyond your control. In fact, the weather was almost my undoing the first year I ran the Boston Marathon, in 2004. Many elite athletes did not complete the race that year. The weather was exceedingly hot. Still, that was the year that I ran my best Boston Marathon. I actually finished 12th place overall (more on all of that later). Therefore, even though the weather is out of your control, and even though it is looking like it might be on the warmer side this coming Monday, there is still a lot that you can do to ensure an excellent performance despite the unknown and unexpected factors that can arise in any road race.

Here are some basic tips to help Boston Marathoners new and seasoned to finish strong and to avoid heartbreak on Heartbreak Hill.

Pre-Race Nutrition 

About three days before the race, begin increasing your carbohydrate intake. Increase your fluid intake as well. Many runners refer to this period as the “carb load” period. As always, I recommend not altering your diet too much in the time before the race. Continue to eat balanced, healthy meals, but do add extra carbs into your diet. You need to run 26.2 miles, and you need the energy to do that. Carbs will help you there.

I offer the same advice with fluid intake: do it gradually, but do not overdo it. If your stomach is sloshing, take a break.

Finally, consider eating your last large meal roughly twelve hours before the race. That way, you will digest the food and will experience the benefit of its nutrients while you are running. Keep things light and healthy once you get under that twelve-hour window.

Dress for Success

The Boston Marathon, in particular, presents some slight complications with clothing, because it starts somewhat later than other races, and depending on which corral and wave you are in, you might actually start the race close to the time when temperatures will be reaching their peak.

Therefore, dress comfortably and in layers for the early morning conditions, while you are waiting at the start in Hopkinton. Remember that you can always discard layers of clothing during the race. Just don’t toss away your number! But do make sure that you toss your clothing clear off of the course.

As always, dress consistently with what has been comfortable during your training. Just remember that you will be running for a long time, so sometimes it is best to dress on the lighter side, even if you are a little cold at the beginning of the race, because you will heat up.

Shorts and short sleeves work really well for most conditions. In cooler weather, compression bands can work well to keep your extremities warm. You might also consider a long sleeve shirt. Still not sure? Check out the Runner’s World “What to Wear” tool for additional help.

Hydrating and Fueling During the Race

Be sure to thank your race volunteers
Again, eat and drink with the same consistency that you have during your training. GU gels, Chomps, Sport Beans should be taken at roughly 45-minute intervals during the race. Make sure to hydrate while consuming any energy food.

Once again, strike the right balance with your fluid consumption. I recommended drinking about 13.5 to 27 oz. of fluid per hour.

The Boston Marathon has plenty of hydration stations along the course. Plan when and where you will eat and drink before the race. Also, do not wait until you are thirsty to drink. At that point, you will already be risking dehydration. Drink according to your pre-race plan. Do not wait until you are desperate.

Finally proceed through each hydration station in a steady, controlled fashion. Make sure that you actually drink the fluid, rather than quickly splashing it onto your face (and, you hope, into your mouth). Proper fueling and hydration will help keep you on pace, even if you drop a second or two when you are receiving it.

And So It Begins

Even though it's a marathon, the same rule applies: don't go out too fast
Seed yourself according to your assigned starting corral. Before entering your corral, jog an easy warm-up for about 10-15 minutes. If there is room—it can get crowded in Hopkington—add some strides to your warm-up routine to get your body acclimated to racing conditions.

Remember that a large part of course is downhill, so be prepared for that. Do not go out too fast. Stay easy and steady for the first four miles. Also, try as best you can not to get distracted by the excitement of the crowd. The spectator support on this course is excellent—perhaps the best in the world. Enjoy it, but don’t let it carry you to a very quick early stretch.

After the first four miles, the course starts to flatten out. Settle into a gradual, comfortable pace, and focus on simply covering the next nine miles—one at a time—to get yourself to the halfway mark. Keep eating and drinking all along the way.

Half-Marathon to Newton

The Scream Tunnel is pretty awesome
This second chunk of the race remains somewhat flat, with a steady downhill profile and, at mile 16, one slight drop. Stay comfortable and relaxed. The challenging portion of the race comes in Newton, so you do not want to expend too much energy too early. Keep it steady. Once again, enjoy the crowd support, particularly the Wellesley Scream Tunnel. Just don’t get too excited. Stay focused, and remember that you want to finish strong.

Heartbreak Hill to the Finish 

Hang in the there. You'll be on the streets of Boston soon enough.
Heartbreak Hill rises from the course at roughly mile 20.5, following three other uphills between miles 16 and 20. Heartbreak Hill spans about a half mile of the course up to Hammond Street. On its own, the incline is challenging, but what makes this hill especially difficult is the distance you have run up to this point, combined with the three previous inclines that occur late in the race.

Expect Heartbreak Hill to be challenging. Don’t get nervous, though. Adjust your pace so that you can stay steady and can work the hill. Focus only on this comparably short increment of distance, and don’t worry about the rest of the race.

Once you reach the top of the hill, the city of Boston will come into view, and you can be confident that you will make it to the finish line. Relax as you work your way toward mile 21, and then focus on working the last five miles. Keep eating and drinking.

After the 21st mile, the course drops downhill again, all the way to the finish. Now, you can channel the energy of the crowd for a final push. As you make your way toward Kenmore Square, look for the city’s famous Citgo Sign on the horizon.

Know that the Red Sox will be playing, and whether you like them or not, you’ll love the crowd support that you’ll get as you make the push to Boylston Street. Know at this point that you will be finishing an elite premier event. Run confidently, and run strong, all the way to the end.

Best of luck to all of you.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Race Recap: 2016 Cherry Blossom Ten Miler

Wilson Komen runs in the 2016 Cherry Blossom Ten Miler
As I was preparing for my ninth Cherry Blossom Ten Miler race, early in the morning on Sunday, April 3, 2016, I was getting ready for difficult conditions. It was very windy and very cold on that day.

In many ways, the Cherry Blossom is my home race; the start at the Washington Monument is only one mile away from my house. Therefore, as always, I jogged to the start as part of my warm-up.

Given the unseasonably cold conditions, the race organizers made a series of adjustments to the event itself, including starting all of the runners, including the elite women, at the same time.

My goal for the day was simply to enjoy the race, not to strive for a new PR. As runners always do in windy races, I made sure to run large sections of the race in a group, using the other runners as shields against the wind. This is a common strategy that I recommend all runners practice when they are racing.

Wilson Komen, center, leading a cluster of runners on Hains Point
Heading out, the wind was particularly tough on the Memorial Bridge at mile 2. After that point, we did have a small tail wind by the third mile at the Kennedy Center. The rest of the race progressed similarly, with alternating head and tail winds, depending on the direction we were running. At the very least, it was sunny, which helped keep the temperature closer to mild than it would have otherwise been.

As I came down the home stretch, I ran into some of my friendly rivals, Philippe Rolly and Michael Wardian. I have been running this race with them since 2004. The two of them, along with an energetic, cheering crowd, gave me a boost of energy, and they all made the race more enjoyable, despite the cold. I finished the race in a time of 55:11, and I was happy with that performance.

After I crossed the finish line, I briefly chatted with some of my trainees. I also had the opportunity to talk briefly with Meb Keflezighi. He was very generous with his time, spending lots of it signing autographs and posing for pictures with the race finishers. He really is a great guy, and he is a personal inspiration for me and for many other runners.

A group of runners waits for pictures and autographs with Mb Keflezighi
Thank you to all of the spectators who came out in the cold to cheer for us.

Also, I wish all of the runners who are competing in next week’s Boston marathon good luck.

picture of Coach Wilson Komen with Meb Keflezighi
Wilson Komen, left, with Meb Keflezighi, right

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Training Tips: Getting Started as a Beginner

When you are starting your training as a beginner, it is not necessary to worry about how many miles you are running. Instead, focus on the number of minutes that you are running. Gradually, you will begin to cover more distance in the same amount of time, and that is the point when you will want to increase the duration of your workout. As you slowly increase the duration of time that you are running, you will increase the distance that you are running as well.

As you begin your training, be sure to arrange your schedule so that you set aside focused time to devote to your running routine. If you have more free time in the morning, run in the morning. If your life is more flexible in the evening, run in the evening. Or run in the afternoon! Just make sure that your workout time will be reasonably free of interruptions or distractions.

When you begin your daily runs, do not start too fast too soon. Start out slowly so that you give your body time to warm up. As that happens, your pace will increase.

A good beginning threshold is to run for about 20 minutes, which will likely amount to 1-3 miles of distance, three times a week.

If at any point, the distance you are running feels too long, do not be afraid to take walk breaks. To maintain a workout that will lead to greater strength and endurance, do limit your walk breaks to 2 minutes. A common guide is to run for 8 minutes and to walk for 2. This routine will get you accustomed to thinking about your early workouts in 10-minute segments.

As you get stronger, gradually eliminate the walk breaks. You can also gradually increase the amount of time you are running and the number of days that you run.  However, do not increase either until you feel comfortable completing your current level of training. A popular measure of overall comfort is what runners call “conversation pace.”  If you can run and carry on a conversation--with a training partner or, yes, yourself--then your overall fitness at your current level is good, and you can consider increasing the duration of your workouts. 

(Sidenote: In future posts, I will discuss how and why experienced runners should vary pacing between their workouts. When you are just starting, keep things simple.)

Establishing a baseline level of fitness with these early runs will take roughly 2-4 weeks, depending on your overall fitness and the consistency with which you run. After you get acclimated at the beginning level, you can plan to increase the duration of your workouts by 3-5 minutes. At that stage, simply follow the same slow build process as when you started.

From there, as you approach the 30-minute mark, you will start progressing out of the beginner's stage and will be moving into the intermediate phase of your training, which will require a slightly different approach (that I will discuss in due time). You might even start targeting 5K road races to get the feel of the racing experience. If road racing is your goal, I am here to help you. Feel free to contact me if you want to train for a particular race.

No matter what, run steady, and have fun.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Wilson Komen's Experience Running the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler

Wilson Komen, center right in a white singlet
It is April 2016, and I am gearing up for my 9th Cherry Blossom Ten Miler on this Sunday, April 3. I am as excited about this race as I was when I finished my first Cherry Blossom event in 2004. This race is one of the best ten milers in the United States. With this blog post, I am offering a brief overview of my history with this race, some lessons that I’ve learned along the way, and some tips for running your best ten miler.

My Race Experience

When I ran my first Cherry Blossom Ten Miler as an elite athlete, I was focused solely on my time and staying with the top runners. I achieved my personal best in 2006, when I placed 5th in the field, finishing with a time of 47:58. The Cherry Blossom Ten Miler is always extremely competitive, because it draws top athletes from around the world, making it an energetic and inspiring event for all runners. The distance and timing of the race make it ideal for runners who are looking for a tune-up race, or who are preparing for the Boston Marathon or other spring marathons and road races. Since my first race, I have grown to love the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler more and more every year, because the race brings together a large, supportive community of runners at every ability level.

Race Tips

-Race Preparation:Train,and train well. Review the course. Stay hydrated, and eat well throughout your training. The night before the race, I recommend that you revisit the course map so that you can visualize the mile markers and the hydration stations. You should also plan the times at which you will consume additional electrolytes—GU, Chomps, etc.—prior to getting to the start line. Always begin your race with a clear plan and strategy in mind.

-Race Day: The Cherry Blossom Ten Miler course is flat and fast. The only significant turn is at the tip of Hains Point between miles 7 and 8.  The only significant hill (there are some really tiny bumps throughout the course) comes as you leave Hains Point and approach the finish, after mile 9.

The forecast for tomorrow’s race is indicating some wind and some slightly cold temperatures. Therefore, it might be helpful to dress in some light throwaway layers. (Please, make sure that you toss your clothes clear off of the course so that you do not create tripping hazards for the runners behind you.)

Make sure that you do not go out too fast at the start. Stay steady for the first few miles, and consider increasing your pace after the sharp turnaround at the Kennedy Center, right at mile 3.  Keep it steady for the next 2-3 miles, and consider increasing your pace even more as you run under the Potomac River bridges and approach mile 6.

As you leave Hains Point and begin the climb up the hill toward the finish line, focus on the sensation of finishing the race—the pride and sense of accomplishment you will feel. Don’t worry about the hill. Stay steady and strong, and remain in control of your pace. Finish strong and confidently. 

Final Tip: enjoy yourself. This ten-miler course is great. It is beautifully lined with DC’s famous Cherry Blossom trees, and there are lots of spectators who provide runner support. 

Good luck to everyone running this year’s Cherry Blossom Ten Miler. I’ll be down there with you tomorrow, and I’ll give you an update about my run next week.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Required Running Reading: Stop Phe

Phoebe Wright, who runs professionally for Nike, writes one of the best running blogs on the Internet.  It's not updated too often--you don't run a 1:58.22 800m by typing all day--but when it is, it is always a joy to read.  Funny, literate, self-deprecating, inspiring--it's all of these things.  More important, despite the fact that Wright is a super-elite athlete, her posts are accessible for all of us runners, whether we're elite, competitive, aspiring, recreational, or are just getting started.

Bookmark Stop Phe (we have), and follow her on Twitter, too.

As an appetizer, check out her bio page for an impressive overview of her career and her spot-on thoughts about how to deal with injury--and how to avoid overtraining.

My favorite part:
Collegiate running taught me that hard work is a prerequisite for success. Professional running taught me that hard work does not entitle you to success. That is a hard pill to swallow.
I am definitely going to find a way to write some version of this statement on several student papers in the near future.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Trail Update: Mount Vernon Trail Improvements

The stretch of the Mount Vernon Trail that runs by Washington National Airport has been under construction since the fall of 2015.  The project is expected to be completed in the spring 2016.

Greater Greater Washington offers a detailed overview of the project's history and the goals that it hopes to meet.

This past weekend, I made it down to that stretch of trail for the first time this year, and I noticed that the temporary wood chip detour has been closed off and that the paved trail is currently connected as one seamless pathway.  I also noticed the installation of what appears to be a water fountain.  I certainly hope this is the case, because I have always found the Mount Vernon Trail to be sorely lacking in water on the trail itself.  For runners who are monitoring pacing and distance with any precision, deviating onto Daingerfield Island, as merely one possibility, is often not a readily reasonably option, particularly in the hot summer months.

The project still has a little ways to go, so we'll definitely monitor things as we jog down there.  For now, know that it's looking like the new National Airport section will be much safer and more pedestrian (and biker) friendly than it had been in the past.

Feel free to drop us a line on intermittent improvements in the comments!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Running Motivation: Star in Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's TV Show?

Writing for Runner's World, Heather Mayer Irvine is reporting that actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are currently casting participants for their reality show, The Runner.

If you needed some motivation to get in your weekly speed workout, maybe this is it?

Matt Damon, it seems, is a runner in reality and in movies:

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Welcome to Washington, Meb.

According to several reports, elite Olympian marathon extraordinaire Meb Keflezighi will run this year's Cherry Blossom Ten Miler.
The Cherry Blossom Ten Miler is an excellent race.  The course is flat and fast, and if the race even loosely coincides with the peak bloom period for Washington, DC's famous cherry blossom trees, runners are treated to a beautiful scenic tour of some of the city's most famous monuments and memorials. Hains Point can be particularly picturesque, as the tress that line miles 6-9 can create a lush pink canopy when they are blooming.  If the weather conditions are good--and they usually are--this race can offer runners a shot at a lightning fast finishing time, all of which makes for an excellent spectating experience as well.

RunWashington is correct to point out that Meb might not actually race the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler, but that is of little consequence.  Dude's fast by any standard.  Come out to watch him run.  I'll see you down there.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Race Review: RRCA MD 10 Mile Club Challenge

Sorry, folks.  It's been busy on the teaching front, and that busyness has kept me away from the Blogging front.

However, the good news is that I haven't been kept away from the running front.  My training has been coming along quite steadily despite a minor setback in January (these things happen, of course). That setback, thankfully, didn't knock me too far off course.  (As an aside, a topic for another day: the need to rest--whether for work or for a minor injury--isn't always a bad thing, and it doesn't always mean that your training and overall fitness will decline.  Exercise caution when necessary.  You'll be better for it in the long run, as the expression goes.)  On February 28, I was still able to compete in the RRCA MD 10 Mile Club Challenge, sponsored by Howard County Striders.

This particular race is restricted to DC and MD RRCA-affiliated running clubs, so it's not open to the public.  Still, if you're in the area, and if you run, there really isn't a reason not to be a member of one of the local running clubs.  They offer great camaraderie, training structure, and definitely (at least) in the case of DC Road Runners, great deals on race registrations.  DC Road Runners actually hosts the cheapest half marathon in the United States, with free registration for club members and a $5.00 non-member registration fee (no, there are no finisher medals or t-shirts).  So yes, join a club.  They are great!

As far as the race goes, the course consists of pretty consistent rolling hills, and it runs almost entirely through a series of residential neighborhoods that surround the main campus of Howard Community College.  Therefore, there is a good amount of friendly spectator support, which is always a great thing.  Also, the field is large enough (just under 600 finishers in the 2016 event), and the roads are windy enough, that the pack never really thins out, which is nice for runners who want to work together during the race.

It's also worth noting that the race is competitive.  Baltimore's Andy Weaver finished in 51:50, and the next 50 finishers all came in under one hour.  This is another benefit of being in a running club: there's a good mixture of recreational and competitive runners, which gives all of us the kind of balanced motivation that we need.

For my part, I put in a 1:05:48, which was totally fine.  (Here is a horrifying picture of me--#1527--fighting to the finish.)  I was restricted to walking and light weight lifting for all of January, so putting in this kind of a performance with just a few weeks of consistent running under my belt was a great confidence-booster.  Which gets me back to my little aside up there: when injury strikes, sometimes the best thing that you can do (after resting and healing--and getting in a good amount of recovery training) is to find a low stress race to run.  Go out somewhere between 75%-85%, and see what you can do.  When things go well, it will really help reorient your thinking toward your future running goals.  They won't seem so (frustratingly) far-fetched as they might when you're healing those sore tendons.

All of this is even more the case when you've got a supportive group of peer runners around you.

See what I mean?

Have fun out there.  After all, the weather is warming up!