Monday, May 12, 2014

Flannery's Pub Run - Race Report

Almost a month ago, Husband and I traveled a couple hours north to the Flannery's Pub Run in Pennsylvania. This is a tiny race in a quiet PA town, and we chose to come here because I was looking for a spring half marathon that was on a Saturday (we don't race on Sundays) and wouldn't have too high of an entry fee. We also didn't want to travel more than 90 minutes from home. The Flannery Run fit all these requirements.

The race was small- about 200 people. This made parking and morning packet pickup a breeze. We parked in a school parking lot and got our packets, which included a nice fitted tech shirt, chip timer, Brooks stickers and beer cozies, and a bunch of ads. The race was a point-to-point, so we loaded into a school bus to drive us to the start line. The start line was at another school, so it was nice to wait inside and use their bathrooms. The race started on time and we were off and running through the beautiful country PA scenery.

I had no expectations for how I would run this race. I had been (and still am!) trying to get rid of a couple injuries, namely my right glute and left shin. They're related; I get it. I've been going to PT and had been resting for a couple weeks leading up to this race. I had no idea if I would be able to run the whole thing, or have my shin act up, take walk breaks, or anything in between. My best case scenario was to keep a moderate pace (8:45 - 9:00) and then re-evaluate for the last few miles to see if I could go faster. The American Odyssey Relay was just a week after this half, and I was worried about messing up my ability to run.

The course was hilly. Like, decently hilly. There were a couple massive climbs (miles 8 and 10 stick out in my mind as being pretty rough!) that really slowed my pace down, but the scenery was so enjoyable I really didn't mind. Also, the entire route was on closed roads! I guess since the town is so small they were able to do that.

I was delighted to not have any shin or glute issues, and at the halfway point I decided it would be okay to push myself a little more. I had just started getting into a comfortable 8:15ish pace when the massive mile 8 hill hit, so my splits don't show that I went much faster in the second half but I swear I did! I was so relieved to be able to run the pace I wanted to without having a nagging shin splint or tension in my right leg. You can see the last mile I was really able to go, and it wasn't even downhill.

There were eight water stations, each manned by energetic high schoolers. Some had cheerleaders, or a band, or cowbells, etc. Only a couple stations had gatorade, and none had any food or gel (fine for me, since I carry Gu).  The town seemed generally really supportive of the whole thing, with people cheering from their lawns and holding signs. For a 200 person event, I was pretty impressed!

Because the race was so small, I wondered if I would place in my age group. My time was 1:52, nothing to be impressed with, but it seemed like most of the runners were older than me. We waited around for what seemed like forever, and were surprised to hear not only my name for 2nd in my age group, but Beau placed 3rd in his! He came in just a couple minutes after me and had a great experience in his first half marathon.  How many people get a medal and a trophy after their first half??

Afterwards, we had a delightful lunch at Pure & Simple Cafe in Greencastle, PA. There were two wraps I was interested in, and they were so kind to oblige when I asked if I could make a custom order to combine the two. Avocado AND feta AND hummus on the same wrap? Heaven.

It was a great day and I'm so glad Beau had such a good experience at his first 13.1!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Dinner Idea -- Chana Masala, lentils, and naan!

Chana Masala by Smitten Kitchen

Lentils with Tahini and Cumin by Yotam Ottolenghi

I served this dinner the other night.... delicious, with plenty of leftovers!

Oh, plus naan. If you care to make it yourself, check out this recipe!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Best Foods for a Relay Race

Trader Joe's helped me out with finding the best food to pack for my relay:

(I stood in the trail mix aisle for lots of minutes comparing all the different varieties. I was originally looking at some other varieties with pistachio nuts and craisins.... but who can say no to these little peanut butter cups??)

And, of course, grapes.

A little salty, a little sweet, and things that are easy on the stomach because yikes does it feel nauseating to operate on no sleep.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

American Odyssey Relay - race report

 I have so many things to post about! I'm still dealing with injuries, but managed to have a great relay last weekend and half marathon the weekend before that. Updates coming soon on my fun times at the HM and physical therapy!

Let me start off by warning you that relays are a terrible idea. You will get NO sleep, it will take up your entire weekend (plus the packing and organizing beforehand), it will cost too much money, and you are running a very small portion of the actual race. I texted Beau at 4am, "This is awful in so many ways."

But actually? It was tons of fun. Against my better judgment, I will probably do another some time.

the American Odyssey Relay!
 There are 12 people on a team, divided into 2 vans. The vans leapfrog each other- Van 1 goes first, runners 1 - 6. Van 2 is waits at the exchange point where runner 6 finishes, and then Van 2 takes over for runners 7-12. Van 1 drives ahead to the next exchange to wait for runner 12, and then runner 1 starts the whole thing over again. Each runner runs 3 legs and the total distance is about 200 miles from Gettysburg, PA to Washington, DC.

the whole team at the starting line

cool shot of Van 2
I didn't know all the people on my team really well, but had a couple good friends in my van. Um, I loved my van. I cannot think of a better group of 6 personalities to be together for 30+ hours in a small SUV operating on little sleep. 
Van 1, minus Jaclyn who was running at the time

Lexi, our Runner 6 and MVP
the hand off: Runner 4 to Runner 5
being cozy in the Pilot
At my 5 year old nephew's suggestion, our team name was "the Honey Badgers". Do yourself a favor and watch this video. Unless you don't want to hear some bad language.... then don't watch the video. But it is hilarious.

The other team from my running club nicknamed themselves "the Badger Catchers". I thought they were pretty clever.

I was runner 4 and absolutely loved my runs. My first leg was the hardest at 8.9 miles and super hilly. I was surprised that I maintained an 8:36 average pace, but it was great to power up the hills and then fly down. It was a good rhythm to get into, and before I knew it I was handing off the slap bracelet to runner 5, Brenna.

finishing my first leg
Trying to sleep at the second exchange.
My second leg was a short night run at 4 miles. I was hoping to keep a sub 8 min/mile pace for my night run, but it was a little hillier than I anticipated and my average pace was 8:06. This run was at about 10pm and I was motivated to get back to the van because I thought I might get a chance to go to sleep. What a lie I was telling myself. Once runner 6 finished her night run, we all intended on sleeping a few hours before our last runs. You'd think it would be easy to fall asleep after being up for so long and running.... but no. I think I slept about an hour and then our alarms were going off to go meet Van 2 the exchange. I felt SO nauseous and SO yuck. It was the weirdest feeling to be standing along side the C&O Canal at 3:30 in the morning to cheer on Runner 1. Just a couple hours later, it was my turn to run my final 6.6 mile leg. I was lucky enough to enjoy the sun rise on the beautiful C&O Canal. I started out (still) feeling yucky, but eventually fell into a nice pace. I passed  few people and cruised into the transition averaging an 8:29 min/mile for my last leg.

Once our van had finished our third run, we drove to the finish line downtown and collapsed, waiting for Van 2. It was exhausting just laying there.

Jaclyn, Brenna, and I at the finish
Finally, a few hours later, our last runner came in and we all ran across the finish line together. Success!

I'm smiling because I know I'm going home soon.
All kidding aside, it really was a lot of fun. I would be hesitant to do another relay because this one fell into place so well. My van-mates were perfect, the weather (for my runs) was perfect, the mileage and course was perfect, and I don't know if another relay would be able to live up to this experience. But just like SO MANY things in my life (Marathon! Skyline Century! Thru hike!) I will probably forget every miserable thing and still want to do it again if the opportunity comes up again. But this time maybe I won't be the team captain. :)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Boston Marathon Update

Earlier today, Meb Keflezighi crossed the finish line at the Boston Marathon at 2:08:37. In other words, around the same time that it takes many runners to finish a half.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

(you may think I'm kidding, but I'm not)

Just so everyone knows, I'm slipping into depression due to an unexplained injury that is preventing me from running, and is not getting any better with rest.

I have a half marathon in one week and three days and  relay race in two weeks and three days.

The end.

Monday, March 31, 2014

high visibility equestrian wear

I've posted before about some some instances of civilians making funny errors with a niche market like equstrian and cycling sports. I found another one today with a company that makes reflective gear for activities like running and cycling. I think the products are actually really cool, but it's clear they are new to marketing their gear towards horse people: 

I had to google "spats" to see what they were going for.

And the "necklace" cracks me up.

But hey, great product, so check out Proviz for reflective gear for all your activities!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Fit-tastic! Friday Links (weird news edition)

Three links today, all weird, one completely unrelated to health and fitness:

#hotguysonthenyhalf -- Huffington Post

Courtney Love found the missing Malaysian plane! --

"Ugliest Runners' Feet" (click at your own risk...) -- Runner's World (Seriously. Only view if you're prepared for some really nasty blister shots.)

Friday, March 14, 2014

healthy green recipes for your St Patricks day weekend

I wish I had kids to help me get excited for holidays. I love how the little holidays like Valentine's Day or the 4th of July or St Patrick's Day can be a huge deal to kids. Instead of reaching for the green food dye for your Paddy's Day meal, check out these recipes:

Fresh Asparagus Soup from

image from here
Avocado Sauce to put on anything from Oh She Glows

Green Falafal from Food Wanderings

image from Food Wanderings
Green Mac n Cheese by Heather Christo

Popeyes Ice Cream from the Blendtec website

Friday, March 7, 2014

new shoe day is always a good day

Inaugural run with my new pair of Brooks PureConnects... and I already got them dirty.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

countdown to summer

today's view from the copy room at work
I really don't mind winter. I prefer running in the cold. I like being cozy in sweatshirts and leggings.

But man, do I miss all of this:


I want:
hiking on the AT
thru hiker trail magic
long bike rides
farmer's markets
trail running
garden tomatoes
did I mention hiking??
eating dinner on the deck
Just a couple more months...

Friday, February 21, 2014

Fit-tastic! Friday links

Only two links today, but both worth reading:

Putting Pin to Paper -- Runner's World

"Maybe it’s the paper, rustling against my clothes. Maybe it’s the early morning wake up, the intention behind what I eat, when I go to bed, and what I have laid out on my dresser. Maybe it’s being part of the pack, the community, the sense of truly belonging someplace... . Maybe it’s the ache at day’s end that says “you did something good today". Pinning on a number is bold. It says, yes, I am a runner. It speaks to the idea of getting out there, putting ourselves out there, and the glory of the try."

"1200 Calories" -- Sophieologie (warning, there's some language)

"[Women] should be exposed to the same messages [as men] of eating nutritious food, with lots ‘o protein, and enough calories to build our bodies into Goddess-like proportions. We should not fear muscle. We should not shy away from the weight room because it is perceived as “odd” and out of place when a woman approaches the squat rack. I am so tired of watching my girlfriends get mislead by the media on how to be healthy. I am so annoyed by this skinny obsession – which literally robs women of their power."

Thursday, February 20, 2014

a poem

blowdrying and straightening your hair
is so much harder
on strength training days

Monday, February 17, 2014

omg [running] SHOES

I love my running shoes.

When I first started running, I had whatever pair of shoes that had probably been in use since 9th grade gym class. This was fine, and I kept buying cheap shoes I found on sale as the old pair wore out.

After my first half marathon, when I was getting more into running, I was gifted a pair of Vibram FiveFingers and gradually started wearing them exclusively for running. I loved them! I went on to run a couple half marathons in the Vibrams over the years. My favorite style has ended up being the Bikila LS. I'm on my third pair of these, and I hate to admit that my current pair needs to be replaced soon! The only thing I don't like about these shoes is the ~$100 price tag. But these shoes majorly transformed how I ran - teaching me how to forefoot strike and run naturally. I credit my injury-free running career to the Vibrams.

Vibram Bikila LS
I started training for my first marathon in Vibrams Five Fingers. When I was ramping up mileage I started getting some tendon pain, so I decided to get something with more support. I got a pair of Brooks GTS 7 shoes, which worked out fine. They felt clunky compared to the Vibrams, but I was worried about running 40 miles a week in the Vibrams and straining my tendons due to overuse.
Brooks GTS - quite the difference from the Vibrams!
A little while after the marathon, I was at an REI attic sale and spotted a pair of gently used Brooks PureConnects for $20. It was love at first step. I had been eyeing these babies for a while, but their $120 price tag drove me away from ever actually trying them out. Now I swear by my fancy running shoes and will never go back to anything but a quality minimalist shoe.

Brooks PureConnect - the best running shoe ever!
I find the PureConnects to be the perfect balance for someone who likes the feel of the barefoot "shoe" but needs something with a little more sustainability for more miles. These shoes feel fast and I highly recommend them! My husband also wears these and honestly believes they hold magical properties. Running was hard for him, and not enjoyable. Since getting these shoes, he enjoys going out for a run and feels.. magically faster in them.

The only downside to any minimalist shoe is that they wear out quickly. The soles are very soft and will get torn up if you run on gravel or trails in them.

That said, I also have a pair of trail runners, also made by Brooks. I was first introduced to Brooks Cascasdias on the Appalachian Trail, where it seemed like every other hiker wore them. When I started trail running more seriously last summer, I wanted something more durable and grippy. I wear the Cascadias as my trail runners and hiking shoes, and absolutely love them.
Brooks Cascadias- my trail shoes
I would be interested in trying a more minimalist trail shoe, like the PureGrit. I'm not sure how I would like have a thinner sole for trail running. The rocks and roots and mud on the trails can be hard on your feet! Maybe at the next REI sale I will find a pair I can snag.

So there you have it! My running shoe collection, which I take far more pride in than my regular shoes. :)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Roadrunner Necklace - Want!!

How darling is this pendant necklace from Endurance Jewelry Co.?
Get it? It's a roadrunner! $78 from Endurance Jewelry
And on sale for $44.95 through GearUp.
I love subtle jewelry like this!

Friday, January 31, 2014

my 2014 schedule

I don't usually plan this, but most years end up having kind of a theme for me. 2013 was the Year of Running - first marathon, first time getting into trail running and a subsequent trail half marathon, joining a running club, first time winning a race, etc. 2012 was the Year of Hiking (obvs), 2011 the Year of Eventing (when I was leasing an event horse and showing regularly), and so on. Of course I still had running achievements during 2012 and good hikes in 2013, but there tends to be a standout theme for each year.

So what will 2014 be? I would be smart to devote my time and hard earned race entry money into one thing. But I am not smart and I want to do ALL THE THINGS. But here's my tentative schedule, introducing TWO firsts in Mackenzie history.... a relay and a triathlon!

April 19 - Flannery Pub Run HM
April 25 & 26 - the American Odyssey Relay
June- a week on the John Muir Trail in California (!)
August 2 - Culpeper Sprint Triathlon
September 13th - VHTRC Women's Trail HM (if I get in!)
October 18th, 25th and/or Nov 1st - Fall Foliage 10k Trail Series

I feel like each one of these events could cover an entire blog post. And I guess they probably will!

I look at these events and picture each one being really fun in a unique way. The April half will be Beau's first. The relay will be tiring and crazy. The JMT is the freaking JMT. The baby tri will be scary and awesome. And the trail races in the fall because I heart trail running, and there is no better time for trails than in the fall.

There are also no real cycling events on the calendar. Each year, Beau and I usually do one or two centuries together. As the years go on, we still really love the time on our bikes, but feel less of a need to do a paid cycling event. It is just as fun to do one on our own or with friends, and obviously cheaper. There is talk of repeating the Skyline Sufferfest, and maybe by the fall I will have forgotten how terrible it was.

I'm crossing my fingers that all of these events will work out. Some of the events have lotteries or deadlines far enough away that I haven't registered yet. The JMT won't be finalized until we hear back about permits and buy plane tickets.

 I'm excited for this year! I normally don't have everything planned out this far in advance, but just writing this blog post is getting me so antsy for spring!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

the Loudoun Half & 8k Race

As you plan your 2014 race schedule, take a look at this half marathon and 8k held in northern Virginia on April 13th!

My running club is sponsoring this race, but even if I didn't have a direct interest in promoting it, I would still want to run this. It's reasonably priced, local (okay, okay, that's not universal to everyone. But you can stay at my house if you want!), offers a medal and technical shirt for participants, and the course is a nice loop through Ashburn and on the scenic W&OD.

The registration fee is $45 and $25, but the price goes up this weekend so check it out!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Fit-tastic Friday Links

Some common reasons why marathon training doesn't always translate to weight loss -  Runner's World

Salads from a vending machine? This looks awesome - Farmer's Fridge

Running for Megan Cross Menzies, the Virginia runner struck and killed by a drunk driver last weekend - here and here via Runner's World

This video has nothing do to with fitness or health.... but it's hilarious. - Magic Vines via

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Blendtec Excitement

Things I have made in my new Blendtec since its arrival in my life one week ago:

- tortilla soup
- spinach vanilla ice cream
- multiple spinach smoothies, natch
- pesto 
- sweet potato curry soup, twice
- strawberry ice cream, which I followed no particular recipe and it was delicious
- a TRIPLE batch of hummus (go ahead and call me an idiot for not separating the batches and doing each one a different flavor.)

omggggg I love it.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

How to Make the Perfect Salad

I totally cringe when people tell me they don't like salads. I'm not trying to salads are the only way to eat healthy (definitely not!) but they are a good way to get lots of nutrients, easy to put together, and the flavor combinations are endless.

Greatist has a cute and handy infographic to help the salad illiterate.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Ringing in Hope 10k

So, dear readers (both of you), maybe you are interested in how the New Year's 10k went. Maybe you are wondering if I stuck to my plan and met my goal of running it in under 50 minutes.

Well! I'm happy to report that I had an awesome race!

 While my main goal was to come in at under 50 minutes (a 7:58 min/mile pace) I had a separate goal of maintaining a 7:50 minute mile. A friend from my running club had a similar goal, so we ran the whole thing together and it really helped to pace each other and stay accountable throughout the entire race.
I intended on starting off at 7:55ish, then after the halfway mark evaluate how I'm feeling to see if I could push it more in the second half. Of course, I started much faster than I wanted. But I felt really good the whole race. I definitely pushed myself harder than I ever have in a race this distance, but felt strong. I ended up finishing in 48:21, which is a 7:44 pace! If you're interested, my Garmin data is here on Strava and my splits are below.

Mile 1     7:42
Mile 2     7:42
Mile 3     7:54
Mile 4     7:54
Mile 5     7:28
Mile 6     7:51
0.2           7:13

(I'm surprised mile 6 was comparatively so slow. There was a slight hill, but I still thought it was faster than that. Hm.)

Love the twiner Garmin stop button pose.

After finishing, I hung around the finish line to cheer on Beau and my cousin, Shawney. This was Husband's first 10k and he rocked it! He has been running the weekly track workouts with me and was pleased with a time of 56 minutes.
I was curious to stay for the awards and see how the others in my running club did. I checked out the official times, and you can imagine my surprise when I saw that I was the 15th overall woman and first in my age group! I have never been on the podium before, so I was totally shocked to have won my age group. It was so exciting to have my name called, and I got a gift certificate to a local running store.

Also, there is a "team" division in this race, and I ran with the AARC team (my running group). I guess they take the top 4 results of each team for a cumulative time. There are several speedy guys in the club, and lucky for me, the speedy women were not running this race. So, again, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was also called up with my team to receive the first place team medal.

So that was fun. It makes me want to do more short and speedy races!

As far as the race itself, the Ringing in Hope races are pretty well organized and user friendly. They had lots of kid activities like pony rides, a moon bounce, balloon animals, etc. There was barbeque, pizza, and fruit for post races snacks, and everything seemed to be run pretty well. My only complaints are that the course is pretty boring (but what else are they supposed to do... all they have around there is neighborhood streets anyway) and that the race t shirt is a white cotton tee.

What a fun race! Now that I'm a fan of short races, I can't wait to do the next one!