RunWashington Summer 2016

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D.C.’s HUMIDITY The Worst of Washington Running?

THE UNDISPUTED BEST OF

WASHINGTON RUNNING Leaps of Faith: Starting a NEW ROAD RACE DIFFICULT RUN: Don’t Let the Name Scare You



Cover: Christine Cassar handles plenty of humidity training at home in Gainesville or from work at the Department of Transportation, where she is a fitness specialist. And she welcomes it — she maintains a blog titled “I’d Rather Be Sweating.” RunWashington photo by Marleen van den Neste

EDITOR’S NOTE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MILITARY RUNNING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . OFF THE BEATEN PATH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . BEST OF WASHINGTON RUNNING . . . . . . . . . IT’S NOT THE HEAT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . UPCOMING RACES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . THERE’S A FIRST TIME FOR EVERY RACE . . . LONG-TIME RUNNER, FIRST-TIME FAVORITE SEE THE SAME WAY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . RUNAWAY GETAWAYS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . CELEBRATE RUNNING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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SUMMER 2016

Publisher Kathy Dalby RunWashington Media LLC Editor in Chief Charlie Ban charlie@runwashington.com Senior Editor Dickson Mercer dickson@runwashington.com The author pictured in much less humid times. RunWashington photo by Dustin Whitlow/DWhit Photography

It’s time to present the Best of Washington Running 2016 (page 15), but this issue also profiles what few people would tab as the best, but hear me out... I am sure I’m not the only person in the D.C. area who has a strained relationship with the heat and humidity that victimize us every year, earlier and earlier, it seems. I’ve given up in the middle of a run and jumped into a cab I miraculously saw in Rock Creek Park, I lied down on a bench for a nap when I’d just had enough during a long run. I’ve seen my body weight drop 5 percent over the course of an hour-long morning run in July. It wasn’t until my sixth summer in D.C. that I stopped resisting and accepted that for a few months, running was, more likely than not, going to be miserable, but it was part of a process. I wasn’t sure if it was the dehydration talking, but I decided that the humidity was, in fact, one of D.C.’s advantages for a runner. As long as I was careful about hydrating and not pushing my luck by running in the hotter parts of the day, I could survive and adapt and by September, I would feel immeasurably better. I had heard people say the humidity was comparable to altitude training (an exercise that usually involves very dry air, incidentally enough) and while Teal Burrell refutes that (page 22), she does explain pretty well how humidity affects our bodies as we try to do our summer base training for fall races, which will, by comparison, feel incredible. This summer, with any luck and skill, Ashburn native Stephanie Garcia (page 33) will be sharpening up for the Olympics, where she hopes to build on her successful 3,000 meter steeplechase career. And Fairfax’s Matt Rodjom (page 38) hopes to be racing in Rio soon after, as a member of the U.S. Paralympic team. He is trying to hit the 5,000 meter qualifying time for visually-impaired runners. And some lucky high school runners, and some adults, will be beating the heat by getting out to a running camp — Ashley Rodriguez has more on what’s out there (page 41). Whether you hate the heat or embrace it, be careful this summer. If you’re getting ambitious about a run you plan to do yourself, let someone know where you’ll be going and when you plan to be back. See you out there, Charlie

CREATIVE / production AZER CREATIVE www.azercreative.com Sales Director Denise Farley denise@runwashington.com 703-855-8145 Customer Service office@runwashington.com branding ORANGEHAT LLC The entire contents of RunWashington are copyright ©2016 by RunWashington Media, LLC. All rights reserved, and may not be reproduced in any manner, in whole or in part, without the written permission of the publisher. Unsolicited manuscripts, photographs, results, or other materials are welcome but are not returnable and are preferred via electronic communication to charlie@ runwashington.com. Please inform yourself of applicable copyright and privacy laws before submitting for publication; if we decide to publish your submitted material we conduct no such checks and you alone will ultimately be responsible for any violations of any laws including infringement and copyright. Views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the publisher, advertiser, or sponsors. Back issues are available for $5.00 for each copy to cover postage and handling. RunWashington is published four times yearly by RunWashington Media LLC, 4544 Eisenhower Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22304. Complimentary copies are mailed to subscribers, area businesses and events. Be advised that running is a strenuous sport and you should seek the guidance of a medical professional before beginning an exercise regimen.

P.S. Send me some mail, let me know how we’re doing, what you’d like to see in RunWashington. Say hi. Whatever: charlie@runwashington.com. Contributors

/runwashington

Teal Burrell (It’s Not the Heat…) is a freelance science journalist in Washington, D.C. She’s an avid marathoner and has whittled her time down from over four hours to qualify for the Olympic Trials, which she ran in February. She despises D.C.’s humidity. Laura Scaduto (Military Running). she studied journalism and exercise science at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania and employs her skills in both as a writer and an ACSM-certified personal trainer. She competes in triathlons and previously wrote for RunHaven and enjoys writing about science, fitness and pop culture.

@runwashington

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BY LAURA SCADUTO

RUNWASHINGTON PHOTO BY KATIE LINGAN/PHOTOS FROM THE HARTY

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A runner’s time goals, for the most part, are arbitrary — the blend of ambition and realism. Not so for members of the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, whose twomile times count a little more than to the recreational or even competitive runner. Early morning ROTC fitness tests are woven into the fabric of college life; for most students a myth, spread by someone who might well have been hallucinating at the tail end of an all-nighter. D.C’s Hoya Battalion comprises cadets from American University, Georgetown University, Catholic University, George Washington University and the Institute for World Politics, making it one of the largest ROTC programs in the United States. When cadets gather for their testing at the Duke Ellington Track on the Georgetown campus, their scholarships and second lieutenant commissions are on the line. The tests consist of two minutes each of pushups and sit-ups, leading to a flat-out two-mile run. It’s about 19 minutes, max, of exertion. “When I was a freshman, my run time was around 15 minutes for the two mile, and now hopefully, today I’ll hit 14,” said Abigail Velie, a senior from George Washington University. Cadets consider the run the most demanding part of the test, challenging aerobic fitness and leg muscle endurance. To prepare cadets for the running portion of the exam, the cadets meet weekly for group training runs. “There’s no real rocket science on how we prepare for running,” said Patrick Donahue, a professor of military science at Georgetown. “Each hour-long training in the morning is broken up into warm up, pre-stretches, workout and cool down.” The cadets must complete the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) twice a year and accumulate 180 points before graduation to successfully complete the rigorous physical requirements of the program. Testing is done several times a year — mostly for practice and twice for their records. Officers join the cadets for testing, and everyone must meet the standards that include a cumulative scorecard where results from the test are continually recorded and monitored for progression, and which charts the requirements for each exercise based on the soldier’s age and sex. Just as important as the raw results are the cadets’ progress over time, tracked on a scorecard that follows them through their service. Scoring for each of the three segments starts at zero and tops out at 100 as a perfect score in all three areas — and they have to average 60. In late March, 140 cadets gathered at the Ellington track for their test, chilled by a morning that promised rain but held off, to their relief. Though they knew the requirements, they stood while they were repeated out loud, then watched a demonstration of how to correctly complete each part of the test. Nerves and anxiety were floating on many of their faces. For some, these results meant

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Adidas ULTRA BOOST

The Ultra Boost is the first Adidas shoe UPDATE to feature a full length Boost midsole, which SPRING is as 2016 resilient and well cushioned as it gets. The upper is made of Adidas’ Primeknit mesh, which is both snug and accommodating even for wider forefeet. Weighing in at just under 12 ounces for a men’s size 10, the shoe is designed for road running. The addition of both Boost and Primeknit technologies contribute to this shoe’s high price tag. Our testing highlighted the comfort and durability ofINTRO the shoe, recommending it toTOP experienced runners who plan to put in very high mileage. SPRING 2016 PICK

Shoe Guide

Asics 33-M™ 2

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WEIGHT: MEN’S 11.1 OZ. | WOMEN’S 9.1 OZ. CATEGORY: NEUTRAL | CUSHIONING PRICE: $140 WWW.ASICSAMERICA.COM

It is always an exciting time of year when shoe companies start to release new updates to our favorite shoes and debut new models so we can find out the new trends and technologies which will hit the shelves. A continued theme is making models more lightweight and breathable, and the latest Spring rollout is no exception. Many favorites were updated, along with the debut of new models from several companies.

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TRAVIS TRAMPE, ENDURANCE SPORTS MEDIA GROUP

Travis Trampe is an avid runner passionate about the outdoors who coordinates the team of reviewers at RunningShoesGuru.com. He enjoys the adventure of traveling and exploring the nearest mountain trail or road with friends. For in-depth reviews of other shoes coming out this season, please visit www.RunningShoesGuru.com/reviews.

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WEIGHT: MEN’S 10.9 OZ. | WOMEN’S 9.4 OZ. CATEGORY: NEUTRAL | LIGHTWEIGHT | TRAINER PRICE: $180 WWW.ADIDAS.COM

Spring 2016

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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The ASICS 33-M™ 2 is a neutral, INTRO maximum cushioned trainer. This SPRING 2016 lightweight, highly cushioned trainer comes from ASICS Natural33™ Collection designed to follow the natural contours of the foot. With a low 4mm heel to toe offset, it provides a more natural transition compared to traditional trainers. ASICS AmpliFoam™ and Solyte® Midsole Material give this shoe consistent cushioning, providing a resilient ride. With a seamless construction, the 33-M™ 2 provides a secure and comfortable fit, also running true to size. Our testers recommend this shoe as an excellent option for runners looking for a trainer that can provide a natural maximum cushioned ride, remain lightweight, and withstand the mileage.

Brooks NEURO WEIGHT: MEN’S 9.4 OZ. | WOMEN’S 7.9 OZ. CATEGORY: NEUTRAL PRICE: $130 WWW.BROOKSRUNNING.COM

The Neuro is Brooks’ newest shoe and the most recent in the company’s new Propel Me category. The shoe’s outsole and midsole design, which consist entirely of a series of pods, are made of blown rubber filled with BioMogo DNA. The sole completely decouples at the midfoot, and when paired with the pod design offers maximum flexibility in all directions. This unique outsole offers runners a much better feel for the surface that they are running on without sacrificing cushioning. The Neuro’s upper is also uncommon with its three layers of mesh, and Hammock lacing system. Our testing found that the upper wraps and supports superbly to give runners an ideal fit. The Neuro is a uniquely new running shoe sure to satisfy the agile neutral runner.

Hoka One One CHALLENGER ATR 2 WEIGHT: MEN’S 9.5 OZ. | WOMEN’S 7.8 OZ. CATEGORY: TRAIL | LIGHTWEIGHT PRICE: $130 WWW.HOKAONEONE.COM

This update to the popular Hoka trail shoe includes improved overlays on the upper, and a more supportive heel cup to heighten the comfort over the previous model. Testers appreciated the added support and durability of the shoe together with its soft, plush cushioning while acknowledging a particularly narrow fit, especially in the toe box.

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WAVE CATALYST

FRESH FOAM 1080

WEIGHT: MEN’S 9.4 OZ. | WOMEN’S 8.0 OZ. CATEGORY: PERFORMANCE SUPPORT PRICE: $110 WWW.MIZUNO.COM

WEIGHT: MEN’S 10.35 OZ. | WOMEN’S 8.7 OZ. CATEGORY: NEUTRAL PRICE: $150 WWW.NEWBALANCE.COM

The Wave Catalyst is a brand new running shoe for those looking for a responsive, lightweight, yet supportive ride. The sole of the shoe combines Mizuno Fan Wave technology with U4iC (pronounced euphoric) foam material for a ride that is more responsive than soft and with a good degree of stability, also thanks to the parallel flex grooves. The 10mm heel to toe drop makes it a good choice for heel and mid foot runners. Our testers were impressed with the svelte feeling for a shoe that could make a good training and racing day option for runners who need stability in their footwear.

This update brings New Balance’s new Fresh Foam technology to the very popular 1080 series. The Fresh Foam 1080 is a long distance, high feature daily training shoe that provides a smooth and cushioned ride. The upper is completely redesigned from engineered mesh, feeling true to size, and comfortable over long distances. Our testers found the Fresh Foam to be a tad more responsive than the materials used in the previous versions of this shoe.

Newton GRAVITY V WEIGHT: MEN’S 8.1 OZ. | WOMEN’S 6.7 OZ. CATEGORY: NEUTRAL | LIGHTWEIGHT | TRAINER PRICE: $175 WWW.NEWTONRUNNING.COM

The Gravity V’s are designed for neutral strikers who are looking for a durable and reliable shoe. The foundation of all Newton shoes is the Action/Reaction Technology generated via the lugs which increases spring, and promotes a forefoot strike that allows for a smooth ride on both roads and trails alike. Newton added more padding to the tongue as opposed to the previous Gravity IV’s, allowing for a much more comfortable feel whether you like to run sockless or not. As always, the rest of the material is very breathable. The size is pretty much on par with previous models and the toe box has a neutral fit, allowing adequate movement, but not enough free space to be sliding around with every step. Our testers recommend the Gravity V to runners who are looking for a supportive shoe that can handle high mileage.

Nike LUNARTEMPO 2 WEIGHT: MEN’S 7.4 OZ. | WOMEN’S 6.1 OZ. CATEGORY: NEUTRAL | LIGHTWEIGHT PRICE: $100 WWW.NIKE.COM

The Nike LunarTempo 2 is a lightweight cushioned trainer designed to hug your feet. Nearly identical to the previous model, the LunarTempo 2’s are built on top of soft Lunarlon foam, and encase your feet in Nike’s seamless Flymesh upper with Flywire Cables. The only real changes to this shoe are in the upper where a larger Nike logo covers an area once occupied by ventilation holes, and some trim along the edges of the upper running underneath the laces. The toe box feels tight, which can be expected when wearing shoes designed to hug your feet. Our testers found this shoe to be great for mid to low mileage training, and possibly as a casual racing shoe.

Saucony KINVARA 7 WEIGHT: MEN’S 7.7 OZ. | WOMEN’S 6.6 OZ. CATEGORY: NEUTRAL | LIGHTWEIGHT PRICE: $110 WWW.SAUCONY.COM

This 7th version of Saucony’s extremely popular Kinvara boasts a handful of significant changes from the previous versions. The most awaited change is the move to Saucony’s new EVERUN foam material that is significantly denser and firmer than previous models, making this the most durable Kinvara to date. Our testers took the Kinvara through paved roads and groomed gravel trails, and found it to perform well on long runs, quick tempos and everything in between. Updates to the Kinvara 7 did not change the true character of this shoe, a very lightweight, responsive and durable training/racing shoe.

Pearl Izumi ROAD N0 V2 WEIGHT: MEN’S 6.0 OZ. | WOMEN’S 4.0 OZ. CATEGORY: NEUTRAL | LIGHTWEIGHT | RACER PRICE: $100 WWW.PEARLIZUMI.COM

The Pearl Izumi E:MOTION Road N0 v2 is a progressive upgrade to the racinginfluenced shoe in the E:MOTION line up released last year. The N0 v2 is still built on the same unique midsole TOP geometry. A newer Strobel board PICK and assembling process has aided SPRING 2016 in lightening up the lower half of the shoe, giving the N0 v2 a softer, smoother, and enhanced flexible feel under foot. A new 3-D print seamless upper eliminates all heat and gluing processes used previously. Runners appreciated the N0 v2 simple, UPDATE light, and soft upper, making this a no-frills shoe built for SPRING 2016 running fast, and the real deal for racing and speedwork.

Skechers GORUN FORZA

INTRO SPRING 2016

WEIGHT: MEN’S 10.8 OZ. | WOMEN’S 8.2 OZ. CATEGORY: STABILITY PRICE: $120 WWW.GOSKECHERS.COM

The Forza is Skechers Performance’s first stability shoe. It features a twopart midsole with a firm Resalyte medial post which provides stability while providing a fluid heel-to-toe transition. The Resalyte post is surrounded by Skechers Performance’s new 5Gen midsole which gives the GOrun Forza a creditable amount of cushioning coupled with responsiveness. A one-piece upper adorned with several well-placed hot melt overlays keeps a runner’s foot comfortably secured and well-centered over the shoe’s platform. Our testers appreciated the stable and secure fit of the Forza, while still feeling quite lightweight.

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keeping their scholarships. The two-mile run ahead of them meant ten laps around the track plus an additional 100 meters, a tease for anyone expecting a standard track that measures four laps to a mile. The two-mile run, as well as the other events, are a 100 percent, individual challenge. While cadets are welcome to verbally encourage their classmates, helping someone by physically touching them results in immediate disqualification. The large group of cadets that covered the track each came to the Hoya Battalion with their own sets of strengths and weaknesses with regards to their physical fitness. Some came into the program with an athletic background, having participated in track or other sports programs in high school. Others came to the program with other strengths but openly expressed their disdain for running and the obstacles they knew they would have to overcome. All were committed to succeeding. Regardless of their previous experiences, the cadets showed their determination to improve and continue to reach higher marks for the test that was being conducted that morning. Even freshmen who are newer to the program are excited by the physical challenges. “This is forcing me to do more and keep up with [physical fitness], and I feel stronger overall than I would normally,” said Chloe Christensen, a freshman from George Washington University. Christensen also expressed her excitement to be part of the Ranger Challenge training team. Membership on ROTC’s Ranger Challenge team is a special honor, reserved for the most physically fit. Participants are selected by the leaders of the ROTC program and become part of a team that will compete in Ranger Challenge, a competition where nine-person teams from each participating school go up against teams from others schools in a series of military skills events. While the Ranger Challenge is an honor many ROTC cadets covet, not everyone came into the program with a track background and a love of running like Christensen. Nevertheless, the ROTC program makes converts to running out of most cadets. “I was a golfer. I hated running and I love running now,” said Charles Derrik, a junior from George Washington University. “I would credit the program and being in Washington for changing that. When I came, I joined the program as a sophomore and hated running but you don’t have much of a choice.” Derrik described his experience as being “a complete 180.” He began the ROTC program and started running through D.C.

with his fellow cadets. Since then, he’s run the Marine Corps Marathon and a trail marathon, and will be trying out for the National Guard Marathon team at the end of the month. He also credits being located in our nation’s capital as a real contributing factor in his conversion to his passion for running. The variety of historic venues and sites available for runs that can distract him on his runs is a big plus. “Being in D.C. facilitates different workout environments,” he said. “We’ll go to ‘The Exorcist’ stairs and run around the Mall. Being able to go to different places like that kind of helps keep everyone engaged and provides a whole set of workouts.” MSG Walker, senior military instructor at Georgetown, shared those sentiments. He credited the history and surroundings of the moments as inspiration to fuel and inspire the cadets to know, feel and see the purpose of their training — it’s all around them. Whatever the motivation and the training regimen each cadet had used to prepare for it, they were all ready on that chilly morning when they showed up for testing. The situps and pushups were done in the dark. Then, as the sun rose, the cadets stood in orderly military lines on the track. They were split into two separate groups on different sides of the track, and officers started the clocks. As the cadets left the starting line, the anxiety left their faces, replaced by pure focus and raw determination. As they finished, they caught their breaths, looked up, spotted someone to cheer on and began pacing and encouraging fellow cadets who had not yet finished. Although the tests are individual, no one was left behind, no one finished alone. The high ideals and values of teamwork and no soldier left behind that the Army imparts to each cadet were on the track that morning during the APFT. The camaraderie among the cadets was moving. Walker, there to hold the cadets accountable and to push them to their physical limits, beamed as he spoke of how much he cares for and genuinely likes each member of the Hoya Battalion. They are the future leaders of the U.S. military machine, and their mettle begins being on the athletic field. ROTC cadets are not given the choice to find a love for running or not as most runners are. Some may have this crazy passion when they show up for college and find embracing the military standards easier than others. Nevertheless, the cadets’ objective to serve their country and to be ready for any challenge at any time drives each one of them to that point on the road where a two-mile run is a measure of commitment and success.

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Run Name: “Difficult Run” Location: Great Falls, Va. Distance: 10 miles (approximate) Terrain Type: Trails, hills Water: Yes, approximately 2.5 and 5 miles into run Bathroom: Yes, approximately 2.5 and 5 miles into run

By Ja ke Klim First, let’s get one thing straight — although there are numerous hills that make this run strenuous at times, Difficult Run is actually named after the tributary stream, or run, that runs for nearly 16 miles through Fairfax County, eventually ending at the Potomac River approximately two miles south of Great Falls. With that settled, perhaps one of the most difficult things about running here can be finding a parking spot at the trailhead (although there are nearly 30 different spaces for cars to squeeze into, the Difficult Run Parking Lot is quite popular with local dog walkers and area hikers). If you can’t find a spot here, there is no need to fret, you can also park at Great Falls Park; the entrance is only a half-mile up Georgetown Pike. There are hundreds of spots here, though the park charges a fee. The forests that surround Difficult Run and Great Falls host a variety of wildlife,

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including deer, fox, snakes, muskrat and beaver. If you’re lucky, you might see a bald eagle over the Potomac. Luckier still, a coyote or even a black bear in the woods; young males tend to lumber through the area in the spring and summer. There are also miles and miles of trails, which you’ll continuously intersect throughout your run, so it’s impossible to outline this entire recreational area in one try. However, the route I’ve outlined below is a tried and true classic an out-and-back ten miler that will serve as a great introduction to the park. Once you’ve locked your door and tied your shoes, face the stream then head left, or south, and follow the twisting Difficult Run Trail for a quarter of a mile as it meanders its way under Georgetown Pike. It’s quite rocky, so watch your step, but soon the trail transforms into a wider dirt path. Approximately one half mile into your run, you’ll spy a swimming hole on your right. If you find yourself out here in the summer, take note and consider cooling off here near the end of your run. For now, continue to follow the stream until you reach a decision point, a little less than one mile into your run. To the left, up the hill, is the Ridge Trail, which you’ll eventually want to take. However, I’d first recommend running the short out-and-back to the end of the Difficult Run Trail to see where the end of the stream meets the mighty Potomac. Retrace your steps and tackle the hill. Regardless of your fitness, you’ll no doubt be breathless once you’ve reached the top. However, you’ll be rewarded with a great view of the river. Keep the Potomac on your right and follow the rolling trail as it makes its way north towards Great Falls proper. There are various side trails which intersect along the way, but, generally, the path is easy to follow. Eventually, after approximately 2.5 miles, the trail ends when it hits the Old Carriage Road. Turn right, and continue north towards the park. Your first opportunity to use rest rooms and a water fountain will be up ahead on your right. If you weren’t able to find a place to park at the Difficult Run Parking Lot, you would have parked somewhere around here, which is what the majority of those visiting Great Falls will do. If it’s a nice day, prepare to negotiate through a lot of people engaged in a variety of activities. I once ran through a cricket game here. To the south, back in the direction from where you came from, there are a number of great side trails that won’t add much mileage to your run. One of these trails will lead you to the ruins of Matildaville, a town chartered in 1790 built to house and support workers constructing the ill-fated Patowmack Canal, the remains of which can also be viewed here. Not much remains of the town — a few dilapidated stone structures, is all — but it’s certainly an interesting piece of history to note. After you’ve read the historical placards, retrace your steps then deviate one last time and sojourn over to one of the three Great

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Falls of the Potomac River overlooks, have a quick peak, and continue north along the river. Eventually, the parking lot on your left will end. Around here, the River Trail quietly morphs into the Potomac Heritage Trail, but all you’re doing is continuing to follow the river north, so disregard the formality. Just before the dam, you will have to negotiate your way through a rock field and climb a short rock scramble, but be patient because the trails that lie ahead are some of the best in the park. Perhaps the most pleasant time to explore these trails is mid to late April - that’s when Virginia Bluebells bloom in abundance giving the trail and the forest an air of magic. After nearly 5 miles, you will arrive at Riverbend Park and have another opportunity to use a restroom and grab a drink. You’ve come a long way from your car at Difficult Run Parking Lot, but I encourage you to explore a bit more if you have the time and the energy. Although technical in places, the Potomac Heritage Trail goes on for miles. However, some of the trails that run perpendicular to the river offer a nice change of scenery and are preferred. Once you’ve had your fill, retrace your steps back towards your car, potentially checking out some of the various side trails you encountered on your way out. If it’s a hot, sunny day, recall the swimming hole about a half mile from where you parked. For Sterling resident Chuck Moser, a runner in his mid 60s who has been hitting the trails here regularly for over two decades, the swimming hole is an absolute must at the end of any warm outing from Difficult Run. “It’s like a cold whirlpool,” Moser says, “and it feels great on the legs.” When you return to your car, don’t be surprised to find a few automobiles running in idle; they’re waiting for one of the parking lot’s coveted spaces to open up. You can catch the D.C. Capital Striders out here at 6 on Wednesday evenings for group trail runs.

Best park (not including Rock Creek)

Great Falls National Park Runners-up: Burke Lake, Seneca Creek

The D.C. area’s best selling point for a runner

Trails and parks

Runners-up Being able to run past monuments and historic sites, the number and variety of races

Best post-run indulgence

chocolate milk Runners-up: Beer, doughnuts

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BY CHARLIE BAN Two months of nominations and three months of voting by RunWashington readers have added up to this year’s winners. Thank you to those who voted!

BEST MILITARY-RELATED RACE

MARINE CORPS MARATHON RUNNERS-UP: ARMY TEN-MILER, NAVY-AIR FORCE HALF MARATHON

RUNWASHINGTON PHOTO BY CHARLIE BAN

Whether or not it works as a recruiting tool is secondary. The Marine Corps Marathon, one of the most visible exercises for the Marines in a domestic setting, accomplishes far more than that. It started partly to give Marines a chance to qualify for Boston and grew as a chance to demonstrate the corps’ organizational skill executing a large-scale peacetime operation. The race is the fabric of the local running scene. It’s an economic driver for the region, bringing thousands of visitors and their families to town the last weekend in October. And seemingly everyone wants a bib. Even pacifists have to love it. SUMMER 2016 | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | RUNWASHINGTON | 15


Best running doctor or therapist

Peter Sherry - licensed massage therapist 11319 Sunset Hills Rd, Reston, VA, hoyas90@verizon.net, (703) 587-8403

Runners up: Rachel Miller- Pro Action Physical Therapy 4961 Nicholson Ct, Kensington, MD , www.proactionpt.com, (301) 881-2273

Kevin Maggs - Active Spine and Sport 7400 Heritage Village Plaza #101, Gainesville, VA, www.activespineandsport.net, (703) 753-5599

Peter Sherry (right) with former Herndon runner Andrew Goldman (left). PHOTO BY ED LULL

Pete Sherry had plenty of work done on his body while he was running professionally, in a career that included the 2003 Marine Corps Marathon title along with several toptier finishes at U.S. track championship races. “I was always asking a lot of questions,” he said of his therapeutic sessions. “It was hard not to learn because you felt the difference after therapists did different things.” He became an evangelist for active isolated stretching and taught it exclusively to his athletes at Herndon High School, where he has coached since 2005. He sold his running store — Gotta Run, in Pentagon City — to Pacers in 2009, and worked a year in sales before deciding to do more formal stretching and massage work. After finishing his certification, he found office space in Reston and has maintained his practice, seeing runners of all abilities, since 2011.

Best Long Run

“The Big Loop” Runners-up:The C&O Canal Towpath, Burke Lake Up the Capital Crescent Trail, onto the Georgetown Branch Trail, turn onto the Rock Creek Trail, then move onto Beach Drive and back onto the Rock Creek Trail until Water Street. Or, run it the other way, whatever does it for you. It’s a runner’s reunion during marathon training season.

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Best Urban Race

Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Runners-up: Rock n Roll DC, Jingle All the Way

Best Place to See Elites

Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Runners-up: .US National 12k, Army Ten-Miler An urban race is a chance to put your feet where most people only lay their tires. For a few hours, the pavement is ours. But with that busy environment means a lot can happen, but Cherry Blossom can handle it. In 2015, when a fatal traffic crash shut down the Kutz Bridge, the race still went on an hour later. It was just 9.39 miles, but it was still better than sending thousands of runners, including many out-of-towners, home without a chance to race. And the elite runners who come through… Cherry Blossom has played host to the U.S. 10 mile championships, where Janet Bawcom broke the American record. In 2015, Jacob Riley was on pace to come close to the men’s American record, had the course been intact. Joan Benoit Samuelson makes regular trips to the race, as has Bill Rodgers. This year, Olympian Meb Keflezighi signed so many autographs and posed for so many photos with a thumbs-up that he very well could be on his way to carpal tunnel syndrome. Then he paced a 6:00 group during the race.

Meb Keflezighi crosses the finish line at the 2016 Credit Union Cherry Blossom ten Mile. RunWashington photo by Dustin Whitlow/DWhit Photography

Best race t-shirt design

Across the Bay 10k Runners-up: Parks Half Marathon, Crystal City Twilighter Charles Rogers, designer for the Across the Bay 10k, adapted the shirt’s design from a photo of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, taken from Sandy Point. A former California resident, Rogers saw the bridge as being as iconic to the MidAtlantic as the Golden Gate Bridge is to San Francisco. “This really is a Maryland signature event,” he said. “And the runner figure is integral to the race’s brand identity.”

SUMMER 2016 | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | RUNWASHINGTON | 17


Best Specialty Running Store

Potomac River Running- Burke

5715 Burke Centre Pkwy, Burke, VA 22015, potomacriverrunning.com/location/burke, (703) 978-0500

Runners-up: Pacers - Clarendon 3100 Clarendon Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201, www.runpacers.com/location/clarendon, (703) 248-6883

RnJ Sports - Rockville 11910 Parklawn Dr, Rockville, MD 20852, www.rnjsports.com, (301) 881-0021

Manager Aaron McCray shows off the Potomac River Running - Burke store. RunWashington photo by Charlie Ban

The second oldest store in the Potomac River Running chain has been in Burke since 2003, at the crossroads of some Northern Virginia’s best running. Burke Lake is nearby, as is the Bull Run-Occoquan Trail. Lake Braddock and Robinson secondary schools and their mammoth cross country and track teams are miles away. The store boasts several different training groups, gait analysis and, for postrun snacking, there’s a Chesapeake Bagel Bakery next door. Manager Aaron McCray said one of the store’s best qualities is the pleasant attitude the customers bring. “There are a lot of people, some who went off to school or were transferred for the military, who come back and have the store they grew up with waiting for them.” 18 | RUNWASHINGTON | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | SUMMER 2016


Best Cross Country Meet

Glory Days Grill Invitational Runners-up: DCXC Invitational, Oatlands Invitational Dulaney (Md.) coach Chad Boyle said the Glory Days Invitational flew under the radar. It won’t , after the field it boasted last fall, with Foot Locker Cross Country champion Weini Kelati winning over national class runner Kate Murphy. The race is a winner with runners because of the strong fields it attracts just as the postseason is about to start. They’re fit and sharp and the course can be fast. For parents and coaches, it’s easy to spectate, with several loops of the fields around Bull Run Regional Park’s Special Events Center. With binoculars, you can see even more.

The 2014 Glory Days Grill Invitational. Photo by Marleen van den Neste for Potomac River Running

Best Off-Road Race

Glory Days Grill Cross Country 5k Runners-up: Backyard Burn Fountainhead, Stone Mill 50 Miler Set the morning of the Glory Days high school meet, it gives the public a chance to run the course hours before any of the local teams take the field. That also means coaches can race under the guise of checking out the course for their teams while really seeing how they’d fare against the runners decades younger.

Best Suburban Race

George Washington Parkway Classic Runners-up: Parks Half Marathon, PR Twilight Running Festival One of the knocks on the suburbs is how spread out everything is. The optimistic runner sees that and thinks “look at all the places I have to run!” The George Washington Parkway Classic certainly takes people places. From the start at George Washington’s Mount Vernon to Old Town Alexandria, the point-to-point course rolls on down the road, with a beautiful view around nearly every turn. It’s been around for 31 years has the momentum to keep going for quite a while.

SUMMER 2016 | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | RUNWASHINGTON | 19


Best Running Photo

By Ed Lull

A Lake Braddock alumnus and a Chantilly track dad, Ed Lull’s main focus in the 1600 meters at the Virginia 6A state championships last June was family friend Ryan McGorty, of Chantilly. But while the finalists assembled on the line, Fairfax senior Alex Maguire, now running at Virginia Tech, got everyone’s attention by launching himself into the air to get his legs limber for the race. “I love getting those pre-race jumps — Alex should have been a high-jumper,” Lull said. “That was an AMAZING RACE with the cream of the crop of 2015 Northern Region middle distance athletes,” Lull said. After getting a good look at the stadium from the apex of his jump, Maguire ran 4:14.16 to win.

Best Relay

Ragnar Washington D.C. Runners-up: Rock the Creek, Ragnar Trail The mid-September race to the Navy Yard from Cumberland, Md. combines endurance, resilience while exhausted, resistance to odors and bets it all on the strength of friendship among relay team members or the fact that if this was the first time you met your teammates, chances are you won’t have to see them ever again. The course follows the Potomac River before crossing it twice in the final legs. 20 | RUNWASHINGTON | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | SUMMER 2016


R E G I S T R AT I O N O P E N S S O O N Get the details at www.armytenmiler.com PRIORITY REGISTRATION

MAY 11

PRESENTED BY NAVY FEDERAL CREDIT UNION

GENERAL REGISTRATION

MAY 25

PRESENTED BY GENERAL DYNAMICS

October 9, 2016 in Washington, DC Major Sponsors

Lead Sponsors

OfямБcial Race of the U.S. Army:

Distribution of this announcement does not constitute endorsement by the Federal Government, DoD, or the US Army. run washington may.indd 1

3/25/2016 1:07:24 PM

AUGUST 20, 2016

MARINE BASE QUANTICO

REGISTRATION OPEN NOW! WWW.MARINEMARATHON.COM

organized by:

OCTOBER 30, 2016 NATIONAL MALL


Photo by Ken Trombatore

22 | RUNWASHINGTON | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | SUMMER2016


By Teal Burrell

Summertime in D.C. stepping out the front door is like stepping into a sauna. You don’t generally notice air, but today its presence is palpable and oppressive, a thick cloud that weighs on you and seems to stall your forward progress. Within seconds you’re sweating buckets, water pouring off you in all directions. What is this torture? It’s not the heat; it’s the humidity. “I hate it,” said Chelsea Cox, who lives in D.C. and competed in the 800 meters at the 2016 USA Track and Field Indoor Championships. “It’s just miserable to me, especially when the heat gets high.” Humidity’s misery comes from its disruption of the body’s cooling system. “The basic mechanism by which we cool ourselves in the heat is by sweating,” said Dustin Slivka, an exercise physiologist at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. But, “Sweating alone doesn’t cool our body. What cools our body is the evaporation of the sweat off our skin.” When the air is already saturated with water — as on humid days — the water on our skin has nowhere to go. “When there’s high humidity that sweat is less likely to evaporate off our skin. It’s more likely to just roll of us and create a puddle, which does us no good from a thermoregulation cooling standpoint,” Slivka said. And if your body isn’t cooling properly, running becomes a struggle. More blood is shunted to the skin in a fruitless attempt to release some of the heat through sweat, but this means less blood is sent to the muscles. The result? You slow down. But perhaps it’s not all bad. “In order to get adaptations in the body, you have to stress it,” said Santiago Lorenzo, who competed in the decathlon at the 2004 Olympics and is now an exercise physiologist and professor at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic MedicineBradenton in Florida. One well-known method of stress is to spend a few weeks living or training at altitude. Runners flock to places like Flagstaff, Ariz. or Boulder, Colo. to breathe in the less oxygenated air and force their bodies to make do. They return to sea level with tougher, stronger systems — full of more red blood cells to carry oxygen to working muscles faster — and, they hope, improved race times. Some say humidity is the poor man’s

altitude. Might our struggles in the summer stuffiness pay off in a similar way come fall? Although humidity hasn’t been well studied, we do know that exercising in the heat — the other half of the DMV’s brutal summer combo — can lead to big improvements in performance. While in graduate school at the University of Oregon, Lorenzo studied if heat acclimation improves cyclists’ performance. Compared to doing all workouts in ideal conditions, he showed that doing some easy rides in the heat — while still doing the harder, intense workouts in cooler temperatures — improved time trial performance by 8 percent in hot conditions and 6 percent in cool conditions. An 8 percent improvement would mean a 2-minute PR for a 25-minute 5k runner. The hotter sessions forced the athletes’ bodies to adapt by increasing blood volume, cardiac function, and sweat rate and these improvements boosted performance no matter the temperature. However, temperature was the only variable in the study; humidity was low in all the conditions. Adding the element of humidity is next on many researchers lists, but hasn’t yet been investigated. Still, Lorenzo suspects humidity could have advantages, just as heat does, by stressing the body and forcing it to work a bit harder. “In a way [humidity] could even be beneficial,” he said. “You’re not able to cool your body off as efficiently because of the high humidity, but in the end your body will keep trying to adapt. In that process your thermoregulatory system will keep being pushed to be improved.” Christopher Minson, a physiologist at the University of Oregon and Lorenzo’s graduate school advisor, is currently studying overdressing, the non-D.C. man’s humidity. By wearing additional layers, you block the evaporative cooling effect. Many athletes use this technique to prep for hot weather races. Maegan Krifchin, of Silver Spring, did this ahead of her seventh place finish in this year’s steamy Olympic Trials marathon. Minson suspects overdressing (and, by correlation, humidity) causes some adaptations by raising the body’s core temperature. When the body temperature

SUMMER 2016 | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | RUNWASHINGTON | 23


rises, it activates proteins that help create the physiological changes and adaptations. “We think a large part of the adaptation to training in the heat is getting your core temperature above a certain threshold,” Minson said. Since sweating provides little cooling on humid days, those conditions may also raise the body temperature above the critical threshold. Although Minson isn’t sure humidity alone will work as well as heat, fortunately, in D.C., we have both. But is our heat and humidity combo analogous to altitude? Not quite. For one thing, Lorenzo says the mechanisms are completely different. Altitude boosts red blood cell production, which could help to deliver more oxygen to the muscles. Heat (and possibly humidity) increases blood volume and sweating. Slivka agrees they’re not synonymous. “Some of the same outcomes may be seen from slightly different mechanisms.” Both might lead to performance benefits, but for different reasons. But Cox, who has trained at altitude, thinks the two can wear on you in similar ways. When in Flagstaff, “No matter how much I slept, or how much caffeine I drank, I never felt like I was fully caught up on my energy,” she said. “I can definitely relate that to the humidity in DC. You’re always feeling bogged down even hours after you train; it still feels like you need a lot more to get your energy back up.” How can we cope with the sluggishness? Krifchin, who has also trained in Flagstaff, emphasizes recovery. “Recovery is key in any type of training, whether you’re in the most ideal climate or not.” Make sure to rehydrate well to replace that sweat puddle you left behind. And accept slower times during summer’s hot and humid days. Don’t

expect to run the same pace at a steamy Independence Day race as you would at a crisp Turkey Trot. Runners training at altitude know they won’t hit the same paces as they can at sea level, but aren’t worried about it. But, just like the effects of altitude living pay off at sea level, Lorenzo’s study showed heat training improves performance even when the weather cools, so that Turkey Trot could go even better than expected. Kathy Pugh, a running coach and Director of Training for the D.C. Road Runners Club, agrees that it will pay off come fall. But, in the meantime, she recommends caution. Heat and humidity are “nature’s way of telling you to dial it back a bit,” she said. “I would advise people to go easier.” She encourages all runners to be extra careful about hydration, go with friends, stick to shaded routes, and run at dusk or dawn, especially for speed work sessions. Note that the athletes in Lorenzo’s study did their intense workouts in cool conditions, so an indoor treadmill would be another great option. And, of course, be patient. “For the very first few sessions maybe you’ll have to run a little slower, maybe for a shorter amount of time, but eventually the body will adapt and it will get easier,” Lorenzo said. “You just have to stick with it and listen to your body so you do not get too hot.” “Know that it’s going to feel uncomfortable and miserable at times, but embrace that rather than be scared of it,” Cox said. “It makes you a much tougher athlete.” Krifchin agrees. “I think grinding it out in heavy heat and humidity where you’re drenched in sweat and you’re getting slightly dehydrated, that brings out that mental toughness and the hardcore component. It gives you a little bit of an edge on your race competitors.”

National Weather Service Heat Index Chart

Relative Humidity %

Temperature in Farenheit

40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 100

80 80 80 81 81 82 82 83 84 84 85 86 86 87

82 84 86 88 90 81 83 85 88 91 82 84 87 89 93 83 85 88 91 95 84 86 89 93 97 84 88 91 95 100 85 89 93 98 103 86 90 95 100 105 88 92 97 103 109 89 94 100 106 113 90 96 102 110 117 91 98 105 113 122 93 100 108 117 127 95 103 112 121 132

24 | RUNWASHINGTON | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | SUMMER 2016

92 94 96 99 101 105 108 112 116 121 126 131

94 97 100 103 106 110 114 119 124 129 135

96 101 104 108 112 116 121 126 132

98 105 109 113 117 123 128 134

100 102 104 106 108 110 109 114 119 124 130 136 114 119 124 130 137 118 124 131 137 124 131 137 129 137 136



MAY 7 MENTORING MATTERS 5K

CASCADES FIRECHASE 5K/10K

WASHINGTON, DC

STERLING, VA

HOLY SPIRIT SCHOOL’S SPIRIT RUN 5K

LA MILLA DE MAYO

SPRINGFIELD KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS 5K

FAIRFAX SATION, VA

GAITHERSBURG, MD

FAIRFAX, VA

RACE FOR LINMARIE 5K/10K

ETHIO-AMERICAN MOTHERS DAY 8K WASHINGTON , DC

WOODBRIDGE, VA

KIDS ON THE RUN

MAY 15

GAITHERSBURG, MD

GET FIT 5K

MAY 22

OAK HILL 5K

FAIRFAX, VA

LOUDOUN SOCCER 5K

OAK HILL, VA

CARTER’S RUN 5K

LEESBURG, VA

RACE FOR THE CURE 5K

ASHBURN, VA

FOUR HILLS RUN - 4M - 5K - 1K

WASHINGTON, DC

COLBY’S CAPED CRUSADERS 5K

OCCOQUAN, VA

RACCOON RUN 5K

WOODBRIDGE, VA

FAIRFAX, VA

MILES FOR MELANOMA DC 5K

FLINT HILL FALCON 5K

WASHINGTON, DC

VIENNA, VA

ATOMS 5K

GET SMART! 5K

ANNANDALE, VA

LEESBURG, VA

GIRLS ON THE RUN SPRING 5K

NANTY NARKING NEARLY 9K

WASHINGTON, DC

SANDY SPRING, MD

RUN AWARE

MAY 28 AMBULANCE CHASE 5K FAIRFAX, VA CHAMPE 5K ALDIE, VA

BETHESDA, MD

MAY 29

LOUDOUN LYME 5K

ALEXANDRIA RUNNING FESTIVAL HALF

ASHBURN, VA

MARATHON AND 5K

HOPE FOR HENRY 5K

RUNNING WITH THE STARS 5K

ALEXANDRIA, VA

BETHESDA, MD

ASHBURN, VA

MOTHER’S DAY FLOWER POWER 5K

MARINE CORPS HISTORIC HALF

ALEXANDRIA, VA

FREDERICKSBURG, VA

MOTHER’S DAY 4 MILER

SEMPER 5IVE

RESTON, VA

FREDERICKSBURG, VA

MAY 8

MOTHERS HELPING MOTHERS 5K SPRINGFIELD, VA

MAY 13

MAY 30 JEREMY’S RUN OLNEY, MD MEMORIAL 4 MILE ROCKVILLE, MD

MAY 17

RINGING IN HOPE: A SALUTE TO OUR

2016 DC ROAD RUNNERS ONE HOUR TRACK RUN

TROOPS 5K AND 10K

ALEXANDRIA, VA

ASHBURN , VA

MAY 20

JUNE 4

FIT FOODIE RACE

RACE4RESPECT 5K

FAIRFAX, VA

WASHINGTON, DC

NRO 5K CHANTILLY, VA

MAY 14 NATIONAL POLICE WEEK 5K WASHINGTON, DC

VIRGINIA WINE COUNTRY HALF MARATHON

IN THEIR SHOES 5K

MAY 21

ALEXANDRIA, VA

SEMPER FI 5K

HERNDON MIDDLE SCHOOL 5K

WASHINGTON , DC

HERNDON, VA

GAZA 5K

RACE TO VICTORY 5K

WASHINGTON, DC

BRISTOW, VA

GERMANTOWN 5 MILER

RESERVOIR RELAY TRAIL RUN

GERMANTOWN, MD

CENTREVILLE, VA

BREAK THE SILENCE ON OVARIAN CANCER 5K

ADAM’S ANGELS 5K

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD

FAIRFAX, VA

SOAR LIKE AN EAGLE 5K

FREEDOM HIGH SCHOOL 3R 5K

ALEXANDRIA, VA

SOUTH RIDING, VA

CLIFTON CABOOSE TWILIGHT 5K CLIFTON, VA

RUNWASHINGTON PHOTO DUSTIN WHITLOW/DWHIT PHOTOGRAPHY

26 | RUNWASHINGTON | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | SUMMER 2016

PURCELLVILLE, VA HOPE WITHOUT BOUNDARIES 5K FT WASHINGTON , MD GLOW WILLOWSFORD ALDIE, VA NOVA TRIPLE 6-HOUR DAY 1 FAIRFAX COUNTY, VA FOUNTAINHEAD OFF-ROAD HALF MARATHON/ 10K FAIRFAX STATION, VA SPRINGFIELD 6K SPRINGFIELD, VA RUN AMUCK QUANTICO, VA


JULY 24 JUNE 5

JUNE 9 FATHERS DAY 8K

PR BIRTHDAY BASH 5K FAIRFAX, VA BLUE CRAB BOLT 5K/10K

STAR KIDS 5K

WASHINGTON, DC

FAIRFAX, VA

RUN WITH DAD 5K

NOVA TRIPLE 6-HOUR DAY 2

RESTON, VA

FAIRFAX COUNTY, VA

FATHERS HELPING FATHERS 5K/10K

JULY 31

SPRINGFIELD, VA

RILEY’S RUMBLE HALF MARATHON

JUNE 6

BOYDS, MD.

NOVA TRIPLE 6-HOUR DAY 3

JUNE 21

FAIRFAX COUNTY, VA

HUGH JASCOURT 4 MILER WASHINGTON, DC

JUNE 10

GERMANTOWN, MD

MIGHTY MILE FAIRFAX, VA

AUGUST 2 STEVE THOMPSON 8K

DC FRONT RUNNERS PRIDE RUN 5K

JUNE 25

WASHINGTON, DC

SUDS AND SOLES 5K

BALTIMORE 10 MILER

ROCKVILLE, MD

BALTIMORE, MD

DC METRO HBCU ALUMNI ALLIANCE 5K

AUGUST 5

WASHINGTON, DC, DC

GOING GREEN TRACK MEET

JUNE 11

OLNEY, MD

BURKE BLAZE 5K

JULY 3

BURKE, VA

LITTLE BENNETT XC

PURPLESTRIDE 5K

CLARKSBURG, MD

WASHINGTON, DC TWILIGHT FESTIVAL 4 MILER ASHBURN, VA LAWYERS HAVE HEART 10K/5 WASHINGTON, DC

JUNE 12

COMUS, MD

RESTON, VA FREEDOM 5K FAIRFAX, VA AGE HANDICAPPED 4 MILER AUTISM SPEAKS 5K POTOMAC, MD

JUNE 18

JULY 8 MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S MILE ROCKVILLE, MD XTERRA ROSARYVILLE TRAIL RUN 5K/15K

SILVER SPRING, MD QUANTICO TRI AND 12K MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO

LEESBURG 20K/5K

WASHINGTON, DC

LEESBURG, VA

ARLINGTON, VA

BLUE CRAB BOLT 5K/10K

RUN FOR ROSES

AUGUST 20

AUGUST 21

CHANTILLY, VA

ALEXANDRIA, VA

FAIRFAX STATION, VA

BASTILLE DAY 4 MILER BLUEMONT 5K

OPWALK 5K

PAUL THURSTON 4.5 MILER

UPPER MARLBORO, MD

BORN TO RUN 5K

GAITHERSBURG, MD

AUGUST 16

EASTERN COUNTY 8K

AFTER THE WOMEN 5K

NAGS HEAD, NC

BLUE CRAB BOLT 5K/10K COMUS RUN

WOMEN’S DISTANCE FESTIVAL 5K/RUN

STORM THE BEACH

BETHESDA, MD

FIRECRACKER 5K

FAIRFAX, VA

OLNEY, MD

MILER

CLARKSBURG, MD

POTOMAC, MD

ALEX’S RUN

DC ROAD RUNNERS CROSS COUNTRY 3

JULY 4

CELEBRATE FAIRFAX 5K

ARLINGTON, VA

SPRINGFIELD, VA

AUGUST 28 SOUTH LAKES 10K

JULY 23

RESTON, VA

CRYSTAL CITY TWILIGHTER 5K ARLINGTON, VA

WHEATON, MD BORN TO RUN MEMORIAL 5K CHANTILLY, VA

Upcoming races is not a comprehensive listing of road races, but are chosen for their proximity to the Washington, D.C. area. Listings are based largely on information provided by race directors on the free online race calendar at www.runwashington.com. Race directors should be advised to add their races to the calendar as soon as possible to aid inclusion in this lisiting. It is wise to confirm event details with organizers before registering for an event. Date and times are subject to change. If you would like to have your race being run between August and November listed in our next print edition, please add it to our online calendar by June 21.

SUMMER 2016 | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | RUNWASHINGTON | 27



BY MOLLIE ZAPATA

JULIET NEAL with momentos from the inaugural Turkey Trot for Parkinson’s. RUNWASHINGTON PHOTO BY DUSTIN WHITLOW/ DWHIT PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMER 2016 | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | RUNWASHINGTON | 29


The cones are out. The flyers are up. Volunteers are milling around and bibs and t-shirts are in a stack, just ready to be claimed. Is anybody going to claim them? That’s what any race director invariably wonders when they put a first-time race on the calendar. Usually, especially in race-crazy D.C., people do show up. Each arrived at this position for a different reason and brought a different level of experience to the role, but all agree that, in the words of one, “It’s really something to see it all come together!” A myriad of factors affects races. Everything from training in the months prior, to sleep during the week before, to weather on race morning can make or break a runner’s experience. But among these factors, one often underappreciated but critical component is the race organization itself. Behind the scenes, as we runners stress about stretching and warming up and prerace nutrition, a whole other set of people are tirelessly coordinating the logistics and communication for a hoard of volunteer staff to make the day a success for us. “It is so much fun! Absolutely worthwhile,” said first-time race director Juliet Neal. Neal’s first experience was launching the Turkey Trot for Parkinson’s at Burke Lake Park last year. “Race day was fantastic. Since it’s a holiday I wanted it to be really family friendly and fun, so we did a 5k run or walk and a 1-mile ‘gobble wobble’ if people wanted to walk and push their joggers.” The race was so successful she had to turn people away. “We didn’t anticipate having that many people, but hopefully this year we’ll find a venue that is still family friendly but can accommodate more people,” she said. She is already planning the 2016 event, scouting out courses. Neal’s motivation was two-fold: to provide a fun race for her community that was close enough to home so that families could easily participate and not miss out on Thanksgiving festivities, and more importantly, to raise money for a cause she is passionate about. Neal’s brother-in-law, who lives in Boston, learned he had Parkinson’s a little over a year ago. “There’s not much I can do to support their family when they’re far away,” she explained. “So this is my way of supporting

30 | RUNWASHINGTON | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | SUMMER 2016

them.” Selflessness, whether that’s fundraising for a cause, supporting a local institution, or donating time and energy back to the running community itself, is a strong motivator for race directors. Much like Neal, Judith Goodstein also came to the race director position to support a cause. A long-time runner, Goodstein volunteered to organize a run for her son’s school. “Running friends have always been my best friends, so putting on a running event was a natural way for me to volunteer.” And also like Neal, I could feel her passion and enthusiasm for her race coming through the phone. “It was far more challenging than I expected just because I didn’t know all the things I needed to do, but in the end it was really fun! Everyone was cheering, the principal came and handed out medals and everyone had a great time!” A third local race director, Karen Kincer, has now been directing races for seven years. The past Montgomery County Road Runners Club president recalls her first time directing an event, the Jingle Bell 8k, when another director retired and asked her to step up. “Eventually when you take part in the sport enough, especially when you’re out of college and all that, it becomes evident that this sport is in great part run by volunteers.” As a long time runner, she started volunteering by initially handing out cups at a water stop to eventually directing race events. For Kincer, race directing was “the right thing to do, to give something back.” Though ultimately rewarding, directing a race is not all smiling runners and smooth sailing. “I had no idea what I was in for,” laughed Goodstein. “I said I’d do it in October, we had one meeting, then I did a whole lot of nothing for most of winter.” She realized late in the game that there were many, many bits and pieces to bring together — race bibs, insurance certificates, trash collection, t-shirts, safety pins — “for the last few weeks there was a lot of scrambling since a lot of the stuff needed to be done weeks ahead of time, and I just didn’t know!” In preparation for next year’s event, Goodstein “wrote it up at the end so we’ have documentation. And as I wrote it up, I thought, it’s really not so bad! Successfully directing a race is just knowing what needs to be done.”


She talked about getting the big things out of the way earlier and involving more volunteers in the process to prevent so much last minute confusion. While Goodstein wished she’d just Googled “how to put on a 5k,” Neal was fortunate enough to have supportive ties in the running community to get her started on her way. As a coach for Road Runner’s Club of America, she took an online race director certification course to get her started. She worked closely with Metro Run and Walk, which puts on running events in the area, and relied on them for finding a timing company, registration system, and ordering t-shirts. “Those things are a ton of work if you don’t already have that set up!” Because she wanted to support a cause, Neal called Team Foxx, a Parkinson’s research charity she’d raised money for while running her 11th Marine Corps Marathon. “It’s really easy,” she said. “You pretty much just call them up and tell them you want to raise money. Then they were really supportive, sending things like water and fliers and helping with how to make donations.” Like Neal, Kincer had a strong support network to help her on her way to becoming a race director. For her first race she had a “headstart” because someone was closely advising her who had done it before. Now, after seven years of directing races, Kincer often mentors new race directors. “It’s helpful to have someone to show you the ropes a bit,” she explains. “For me it wasn’t too bad because I had enough people in the club who I could go to to ask questions.” While the directors themselves are often volunteers, they also take on the huge responsibility of coordinating the many volunteers required to make a race successful. Among all three, the lesson of effective volunteer coordination is a common theme. Kincer stresses that “Volunteer labor is a wonderful, wonderful thing and they make this sport happen. But they can cause some kinks too. When you’re coordinating a couple hundred volunteers, someone is going to fall down, not going to show up, whatever it might be. So you have to be prepared.” She advises that a race director’s biggest job is to delegate and encourages new race directors to surround themselves with good people. “You should have nothing to do yourself by race morning. You’re there to help your

people and put out fires if they should arrive .” Reflecting on her first race directing experience, Neal echoed Kincer’s advice. “You need to get some key people to help you — like a board or race committee — even if it’s just you and your best friend or your spouse.” She relied on her running group to try out potential routes, and acknowledged that she “probably needed more people” to delegate some of the work. Perhaps the most important part of the race director’s role is ensuring the experience is good for those participating. “You have to put yourself into the shoes of a runner,” advises Kincer. “Imagine yourself as a runner coming to a race and envision everything you see. For example, they get out of their car, and do they know which way to go? You need good communication beforehand, but a lot of that goes out of runners’ heads on race morning so it’s up to the race director to anticipate what they’re going to need.” For Goodstein’s target audience, kids and friends of Hearst Elementary School, she has slightly different priorities to think about. “I think next year we’ll have a shorter run for pre-K and kindergarten, since more kids will probably do it if they only have to run a mile.” She told the story of a pre-K boy who ran the whole thing, in comparison to her son who, “like a lion,” sprints then stops and preferred to cheer from the sidelines than participate in his mom’s race. Neal is looking forward to her 2016 Turkey Trot, because this year her brother-inlaw, her fundraising inspiration from the start, will actually be able to attend. Goodstein schemes how to expand participation by getting the word out in advance as well as including a 1-mile run for the younger children. And Kincer, after directing many races, looks forward to putting on the inaugural Suds and Soles 5k in Rockville, Md. this June and “making it a good experience so that people want to come back the next year and bring a friend!” As D.C. area runners look forward to the summer and fall racing seasons, these three race directors remind us to appreciate the behind-the-scenes organization a good race requires and the volunteers that make our running possible, and maybe even inspire us to take a race off running-wise and consider contributing our time and volunteer energies instead.

SUMMER 2016 | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | RUNWASHINGTON | 31


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COLLEEN QUIGLEY and STEPHANIE GARCIA at the 2015 USATF Track and Field Championships, where both qualified for the world championships team. PHOTO BY VICTOR SAILOR/PHOTORUN

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Stephanie Garcia doesn’t have time for a nap, and she likes it that way. She typically wakes up for a sunrise breakfast before her 9 a.m. practice. After a few hours of running, dynamic exercises, and hurdling drills, it is time for lunch. After lunch, Garcia seeks out a massage, a chiropractor, or physiotherapy before heading to a second practice filled with more running, a weight session or a pool workout. If there is indeed a nap in there, the 27-year-old professional runner — a steeplechaser — doesn’t mention it. “I’m always someone who likes to have extra projects,” she says when reached on the phone in March, at her training base at Furman University in Greenville, S.C. “But this year I’m really trying to focus on recovery and staying home.” Her coach, Robert Gary, confirms this tendency in Garcia, describing her as a “confident worrier.” She is always to “trying to add things because she really wants to make sure she is doing everything possible,” he says. Gary is both Furman’s men’s and women’s cross country and track coach and the founder of Furman Elite, which supports eight athletes, including Garcia. It took Garcia some time, as it happens, to refine her schedule and understand everything that goes into the professional-runner lifestyle. And in this Olympic year, the coach and athlete have been trying to dial in on the tasks that will have the biggest impact for Olympic track trials in July and, if all goes according to plan, the Rio Olympic Games in August. Garcia is also trying to manage her own expectations. “Olympic years are emotional years,” she says. “It’s a job for me. This is my life — but I have more to it. There are more things that I enjoy. There are more things that make me happy. And if I didn’t make this Olympic team, I can’t just give up on it — because I know that I can do it. And if I don’t …” Garcia doesn’t fill in the sentence. “I’m just talking,” she says. “I’m kind of blabbering. I’m trying to make myself buy into this here” — which is the idea, I suppose, that she could rebound from her dream not coming true. What Garcia is trying to say, in a sense, is that she’s not necessarily used to being among the favorites. It wasn’t perhaps until after last year — when she was second in the country

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and made her second world championships team, among other things — that she really could put that stake in the ground. Either way, the path Garcia has followed is remarkable. In 2005, her senior year at Broad Run High School in Ashburn, she placed sixth in the Virginia High School League AA Girls State Cross Country Championships. Her track results were not noteworthy. Ten years later, in the national championships final, on a hot day, Garcia found herself in the lead right from the gun. The first lap was slow. But rather than slow it down more to coax someone else to take over the lead, Garcia went with it and ratcheted up the pace. As the race got rolling, Garcia had those following her on pace to run 9:20, a time the television announcers noted was PRpace in what was supposed to be a tactical race for everyone except four-time national champion Emma Coburn, who was tucked right behind her. When Coburn made her move, Garcia went with her, hanging on long enough to gain separation from the rest of the field. She held on for second in a huge personal best of 9:23.48. That day Garcia went from someone who once finished sixth in her high school state meet to the fourth fastest American ever in the steeplechaser. Later that summer, she finished ninth in the world.

In the shadows The steeplechase holds the distinction of being described by Wired magazine as track and field’s “coolest race you’ve never heard of.” Yet, in the minds of those who run it, it is the only track race that matters. The 3,000-meter race is held on an outdoor track and measures out to sevenand-a-half laps — so slightly less than two miles. Before the gun fires, four barriers, also known as huge hurdles, are dragged out onto the track. The water pit at the top of the curve that leads into the homestretch suddenly has a purpose, and at some meets, like the Penn Relays, rowdy track nerds will gather in stands closest to this area fully hoping to see a wipeout or two. When I was in college, I remember one outdoor track meet where the steeplechase was the first event. It was a very cold day in


March, and minutes before the gun fired, the officials went over to the pit and broke up the ice that was covering the pit, which struck me as a wise safety measure. One of my teammates was in the race, and I still remember gasping when, with more than one lap to go, he tripped over the water barrier, went fully submerged in the icy water, and popped out soaking wet on a 30 degree day. But even after that, nothing changed. It wasn’t so much that he thought the steeplechase was his best event. He simply had no interest at all in running anything else. To those who choose the steeplechase, to runners like Garcia, track and field is one event — and that event is this tribal test of speed, endurance, and athleticism.

Counting laps Growing up, Garcia played sports all year round. One of her mom’s favorite activities, though, was bringing Garcia and her brothers to the track — “just to get some exercise and get out of the house.” “I would love it,” Garcia says of these elementary school experiences. “I’m so type A, and I would just run the laps, and count how many laps, and make sure I did it right.” Starting in fifth grade, Garcia was chosen to compete in annual mile races pitting Loudoun County’s fastest elementary school milers. “I liked lining up against good people and seeing if I could beat them.” One year, in seventh grade, she did, and this drove her to focus on running in high school. Her goals were modest. She wanted to be the best freshman or make it to states, “all those kinds of goals you have as a high school runner,” she says. She knew little about things like shoes or mileage. But she enjoyed being a part of the big team. “While we probably weren’t very advanced with our training, it was just a great little community feel. … I had no idea what high-level running was like.” And in a way, having no idea helped. Maybe Garcia didn’t know what high-level running was like yet, but she still saw herself as someone who would run at a high level in college. If Garcia were in tune with the Dyestat world, she might have seen there was a spot waiting for her on a Division III team. Instead, Garcia visited the University of Virginia, where she was lightly recruited. After she got in on

her own merits, she let then-UVA coach Jason Dunn know about it, and he simply said he would see her in August. There was a spot on the team waiting for to earn. At this time the women’s steeplechase was still a new event in NCAA track. It had been introduced just a couple years earlier, and would debut in the Olympics in 2008. Garcia redshirted her freshman season, a decision that gave her time to ease into more mileage and the lifestyle. And when track season came around, Garcia went up to Dunn and said she wanted to be in the steeple. “And he looked at me like I was crazy and said, ‘Great; let’s throw you in there.’” “The water jump was thrilling,” she says. “It appealed to my sense of adventure. I also think you need to be a little more athletic. I always like to say, for a distance runner girl, I’m strong … I’m a little more solid than a lot of the marathon, 5k, 10k girls.” In that freshman track season Garcia qualified for the NCAA championship and won a junior national championship, though the result, as impressive as it was, could almost be taken with a grain of salt. Her time was 10:26.41, whereas back-of-the-pack professional times were at least under 10 minutes. But Garcia was only getting started. As she honed in on her event, her focus shifted away from cross country and indoor track to being able to run her best in June. And after an injury in her senior season led to a fifthyear season of outdoor track, Garcia made the best of it. She broke 10 minutes in her first race of the season, finished as runnerup at NCAAs, and took fourth in the national championships to qualify for the world championships in Daegu, South Korea. In Daegu, Garcia did not advance to the final. She did, however, gain a mentor in her roommate for the championships, Jenny Simpson, who won a world title in the 1500, and who continues to be someone Garcia can count on for advice.

A new world Still, after Daegu, and after UVA, Garcia struggled. “I didn’t know what to do,” Garcia says. “I just didn’t know how to be a pro.” In college, Garcia’s method was pretty simple: she listened to her coaches. But in 2012 and 2013, Garcia pinballed back and forth between different coaches and training programs, and her results suffered.

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Garcia felt like she needed a big change to get back on track. In 2013, she had roomed during a meet with Heidi See, an Australian middle distance runner and member of Furman Elite. Garcia had heard of Gary. She knew he had coached at Ohio State, was then coaching the 2013 national steeple champion Nicole Bush, and was a two-time Olympic steepler himself. Furthermore, the Furman program, which offered access to college facilities, seemed like the right fit. Garcia made the move, ending her less-than-twoyear-old marriage with 1500-meter runner John Jefferson in the process. At Furman, Gary designed the collegeelite program himself and pitched it to the university, he says, partially after seeing many runners struggle to transition from college to professional running. “They quote-unquote run professionally,” he says, without a good support system. As a member of Furman Elite, Garcia, who is also sponsored by New Balance, works with Gary every day and receives monthly installments of training plans arranged on a grid. “I know that he has this big whole year mapped out,” she says, “and he gives us a little bit at a time and adjusts as he needs to adjust. Even Gary, though, didn’t see Garcia’s 2015 coming — a year in which she achieved Olympic A standards in the 1,500, 5,000, and steeplechase. “I didn’t know she could become that kind of athlete,” he says.

The final touches It was clear that Garcia, in 2015, took her speed and endurance to higher levels. There is no better proof than when you can run personal bests and world-class times in events that are both longer and shorter than your goal race. Having great training partners, Garcia says, the discovery that she responds well to stints of altitude training in Flagstaff, Ariz., and all those clean-and-presses in the gym have certainly helped in this regard. This year, though, Garcia and Gary have been focusing on her greatest weakness. When you watch Garcia compete, you can see this weakness is not a lack of courage. She puts herself in position for breakthroughs. You can see her very clearly draw deep into

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the well. But if you watch her closely — especially as she and Coburn broke apart from the field last summer — you will see that Garcia is almost forcing herself to be tougher than she needs to be. On the hurdles, Garcia struggles with timing, often stuttering before she jumps and sometimes emerging slowly out of the pit. “She’s terrific at recharging and recharging,” Gary says. “But one of her problems is she just keeps recharging, and by the end she’s a lot more tired than she probably should be.” When she was running at UVA, hurdle form wasn’t a huge priority for Garcia. It was sufficient, and that seemed good enough. “At [UVA],” she says, “it was like, ‘Can you get over it and keep running? Great.’” But as a professional, sufficient doesn’t cut it, and every second counts, which is why Garcia and Gary have made hurdling her the key focus for this year. Last year Garcia would do 45 hurdle clearances in a session. “Now we’re doing 150,” says Gary, who thinks ironing out her hurdle form alone could yield another 10 to 15 seconds of improvement. If she can do that, Coburn’s current personal best, and Simpson’s American record Coburn broke, could suddenly be in reach for Garcia. But Garcia — going back to the task of managing expectations — is also getting better at keeping it all in perspective. “It’s funny how we do it here,” she says of the top-three-or-bust nature of the Olympic trials. “It’s one day, and heaven forbid someone gets sick, someone sprains an ankle — something could happen and the best people might not make it.” But Garcia is also reminding herself that she has a long career ahead of her — and for that she actually has Coburn to thank. Not that long ago Garcia felt like, at 28, she would be “old” for this trials, and 2016 would surely be her last shot at an Olympic bid. When she told Coburn this, the American record holder had other ideas: namely, that Garcia was just hitting her prime. “It was great that she was encouraging me and believed that I have made improvements,” Garcia says, “and that I can keep improving.” For anyone who has watched Garcia go from being one of Loudoun County’s best to competing against the best in the world, that certainly sounds like a safe bet.


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Matt Rodjom knows the paved paths along busy roads in Fairfax so well that he could run Braddock Road with his eyes closed. Not that it would be much different, as he puts it. He has a gaping hole in his vision, straight ahead. He can see the colors of an approaching runner’s shorts and t-shirt when they are 10 feet apart, but as far as he can tell, that other runner doesn’t have a head. Just a gray mess. Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy took much of his vision over four months when he was 20 years old. At first, he thought he just needed glasses when he couldn’t read the license plate on the car ahead of him. Then it got much worse, leaving him with clear peripheral vision but not much else. After a bad fall a few months later, his college athletic director told him that allowing him to compete in cross country would be a liability. Rodjom channeled his anger and frustration back into his running. “I wanted to show everyone I could still do it,” he said. “They made me a coach so I could still be a part of the team, but I wanted to compete.” He was, however, allowed to run for the track team, what was then a consolation prize. As he settled into his new life and then graduate school, running became an outlet for stress relief. Then, when he moved to the D.C. area, running helped him meet people. Now it’s a chance for him to show the running community what visually-impaired runners can do, and for him to find out for himself what he is capable of achieving. Sixteen years after he was relegated to the track, that oval is Rodjom’s training ground as he vies for a spot on the U.S. Paralympic Track and Field Team competing in Rio de Janeiro right after the Summer Olympics. “My wife told me this would be my best chance to do this,” he said of Sarah, with whom he has twin five-year-old daughters and a two-and-a-half-year-old son. “I’m in the upper echelon of visually-impaired runners and if I let this opportunity go, I’ll spend a lot of time wondering what I could have done.” She has been chronicling his progress on her blog, Daddy’s Blind Ambition. The family’s lighthearted handling of his condition is Matt Rodjom runs on Braddock Road near his Fairfax home. RunWashington photo by Marleen van den Neste

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pretty consistent. On one of their first dates, they went to a bookstore and he arbitrarily grabbed books and pretended to read them, which tipped her off that something wasn’t entirely right with his vision.

Roadmap Getting to Rio means dropping almost 80 seconds off of his 5k time to hit the 15:40 standard. His marathon PR is much closer, in seconds per mile, to the standard, but even with a wife who prioritizes his training, there is too much to do in their lives for him to do the necessary marathon training. “Looking at it realistically, it’s a big jump, but it’s one I’m ready to go after,” he said. He does most of his running after work at the Department of Homeland Security, either hitting the track or a typically-empty parking lot on the George Mason campus after the kids are asleep, or logging miles on the treadmill in his basement, a compromise that “makes (him) feel a little dirty,” he said. “But it’s part of being a dad.” He can cross streets safely — thanks in large part to his remaining peripheral vision — but if he sees a car’s headlights head on, he can lose most of his vision. In the daytime, wearing a pair of Oakley sunglasses he found has saved him on more than one occasion, keeping him from having to squint in bright sunlight and lose more of his peripheral vision. Sarah insists he carry his phone with him when he leaves the house to run, just in case, though the one time he called her for assistance — he was badly dehydrated — she was working late and couldn’t come home to get him a drink of water. He made it home alright. “I’ve gotten lost a few times and had to ask Siri for directions back,” he said. “Usually, I just memorize Google Maps. I have a pretty good sense of direction and I haven’t had to ask anyone to get me home.” The path so far hasn’t been as smooth as a track, though. Back when he met Sarah, he was on a three-month layoff after running into a fire hydrant. He can’t venture onto rocky trails, as he once did while a dedicated This is what Rodjom sees when a runner approaches him. Based on a photo by Marleen van den Neste

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member of the D.C. Road Runners when he lived closer to the District. Running with groups could also be hazardous. On the paved paths that crisscross Fairfax County, he can get his mileage in — he’s gone as far as I-95 — but now that he has turned his attention to hitting a time goal, the track and parking lot are workplaces. “If I’m running along the road at 5:40 pace, things come at me too fast,” he said. “I can’t be sure a bicyclist and I are going to dodge each other.” He has teamed up with Reston-based coach and physical therapist Matt Barnes to help run faster. “He’s pretty self-driven and motivated,” Barnes said. “I can’t be there to hold a stopwatch at the track but I know he’ll be able to take care of himself.” Barnes said Rodjom’s strongest element, his turnover speed, will set him up nicely for championship racing when he needs to kick, but since they still have a ways to go to hit the qualifying standard — it was lowered dramatically — Barnes is swapping out some tempos, which he struggles with, for larger sets of intervals with less rest. “He’s on pace to be running in the high 15s in a month and a half and with the right race at nationals (in late June in Charlotte) he could run in the 15:30s,” Barnes said. “We’re counting on this work coming together pretty soon.”

The Voices Most electronics in the Rodjom household talk. So does the watch he wears when he runs, though he hasn’t been able to find a talking GPS watch yet. Though Rodjom is focusing on the track, he likes to race on the roads, and that means doing more than turning left every 100 meters. Visually-impaired runners employ all kinds of strategies when they race, and all are on display at the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon, where Rodjom finished 40th in 2012. The race plays host to the national visually-impaired half marathon championship. While some runners tethered themselves to guides with a rope, bungee cord or a long sleeve shirt, Rodjom defiantly ran alone. Two months later, while in Sacramento for the California International Marathon, blind runner Richard Hunter, told him in as many words that he was being stupid for

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eschewing a guide. “I was being stubborn, but I wanted to prove I could do as much as any other runner, without any help,” Rodjom said. “That wasn’t even the reckoning point for me, though.” It wasn’t until nearly a year later, after blowing right through a turnaround at the Race to End Women’s Cancer that he saw just how much he was handicapping himself. He swallowed his pride and contacted Jerry Alexander, coach of the Georgetown Running Club, who helped recruit guides to help visually-impaired runners at the Wilson Bridge Half, to help Rodjom race some lowerprofile 5ks. “It was hard to find guides who can run under six-minute pace and give verbal commands,” Rodjom said. “There are Facebook groups and a networking site — United in Stride — but those are usually more for saying ‘I’m visiting D.C. and need a guide who can run with me.” Ashburn’s Karl Dusen and Arlington’s Chuck Kacsur have come along for the ride “I pinged Jerry about a Valentine’s Day race on Friday and two hours later he came back to me with a guide,” Rodjom said. He and Kacsur met 10 minutes before the Run Your Heart Out 5k and developed their system. “Three, two, one ... turn,” Kacsur will saw and they approach a turn. Rodjom got his introduction to competitive visually-impaired running while at his first job as a contractor with the Navy. He worked with another visually-impaired runner, Joe Aukward, doing budget analysis. “It was the blind leading the blind,” he joked, as Aukward served as both a professional and athletic mentor. “I was just trying to use running as a way to get to meet friends and he started encouraging me to compete again. There was nobody better to push me.” The visually-impaired running community has been a great support for him. He still dreams in full vision at times. Having to stop driving just four years after he got his driver’s license remains one of the toughest pills to swallow, but he is grateful for the perspective his experiences have lent him. “Finding out you’re not alone out there, trying to keep doing this, that means a lot,” he said. “If someone offered me my sight back, I’ll be honest, I’d take it, but this whole experience has introduced me to some great people I wouldn’t have met otherwise.”


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By ASHLE Y RODRIGUEZ With summer finally here, many Washingtonarea high schoolers are already looking ahead to the upcoming cross country season. Namely, ways to maintain their fitness levels during the off-season or to log additional training time to start the season off strong. We spoke with several new and longrunning camps — all of them different in their own unique ways — that offer athletes a chance to break the monotony of solo training runs and learn from elite coaches and staff while having fun away from home. From the camp that loves a killer game of ultimate Frisbee as much as it loves a good fartlek, to the camp that touts its urban backdrop, there’s something for everyone this summer.

The Everyman Camp American Running Camp’s history dates back more than two decades to the University of Oregon, over 3,000 miles away from the camp’s home in Portsmouth, R.I. Legendary Ducks coach Bill Dellinger — who trained stars like Steve Prefontaine and Alberto Salazar — started the camp based on his successful “Oregon System” of distance running. “Lectures, workouts and runs are all based on these principles — moderation, progression, adaptability, variation and callousing — and teaching campers these principles,” said Kerri Gallagher, assistant camp director, adding that co-camp directors Matt Centrowitz and Pat Tyson both ran for Oregon under the tutelage of Dellinger in the 1970s. The staff at American Running Camp, which will take place Aug. 1-6 on the campus of Portsmouth Abbey School, is a diverse mix of Olympians, high school and college coaches, and elite post-collegiate athletes. “We have a lot of different perspectives [from coaches and staff] having different backgrounds,” explained Gallagher, who represented Team USA at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing. “We can relate to a lot of different kids, whether trying out for cross country for the first time or the runner going into senior year and top in the state and looking to have a big season coming up. I think we’re very versatile in that way.” Aside from its incredibly experienced staff, what sets American Running Camp apart is the fact it is open to athletes of all ages and abilities from middle and high school students to adults. Campers are assigned to running groups based on their current ability and mileage background, but have the flexibility to move groups as needed. The typical day is structured around a morning run followed by a meal and strength or stretching sessions such as yoga, core or hurdles. After lunch and some free time, athletes have the option to head out for a second run, depending on their ability. “We’re very aware that every runner is at a different place at that point during the summer,” Gallagher said. Each day ends with a fun evening activity.

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At the close of camp, runners participate in a casual, non-competitive race as a way to gauge their fitness level and abilities heading into the official cross country season. Additional perks of American Running Camp include on-site housing in Portsmouth Abbey School’s dormitories and a fully staffed dining hall that is accommodating of dietary needs, Gallagher said.

The Urban Camp This July, Pacers Running’s DCXC Distance Project will hold its first summer cross country camp, DCXC Camp, on the campus of Georgetown University. Athletes will get a taste of being a Washingtonian runner over the four days (July 23-27), including running through Rock Creek Park, Glover-Archbold Park and along the C&O Towpatch; participating in the Crystal City Twilighter 5k and exploring the National Mall and Smithsonian museums. “This is the only camp that I know of that highlights it as an urban camp experience. It’s a unique feature,” said Landon Peacock, assistant manager at Pacers 14th Street and the camp’s director. The day-to-day structure of DCXC Camp will be modeled after the 42-year-old Wisconsin Cross Country Camp of Champions, where Peacock, a two-time all American from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, worked for five years. The camp will feature clinics on strength and conditioning, injury prevention, form and gait analysis, and running workouts. Most notably, campers will have one-on-one contact with runners who have competed at the collegiate, professional and Olympic levels. “What makes camps [like Wisconsin] good is the counselors and how much they’re willing to engage with the kids,” Peacock said, adding that Julie Culley, a 2012 Olympian and Arlington, Va., resident, is booked as a guest speaker. “[DCXC Camp] will be a good combo of fun activities and something they’re going to learn and take from the camp to use throughout their running careers.” In addition, campers will stay in Georgetown University’s Southwest Quad dorms and have access to the facilities at Yates Field House, which includes a 200-meter indoor track, eight-lane pool, weight room, tennis courts and more.

The “Un-Camp” Nestled in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains of Madison, Va., Camp Varsity Running Camp has been churning out state

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champions, All-Americans and record holders for nearly 35 years. Although it’s almost 100 miles from Washington, the camp has extremely local roots and attracts many area runners. Its founder — then George Mason University coach John Cook — started the camp in the early 1980s and operated it for several years with George Watts, an AllAmerican out of the University of Tennessee and native of Alexandria. Today it’s run by Bob Digby, head track and field coach at Lake Braddock High School in Burke, Va. At Camp Varsity, which this year will run Aug. 14 - 20, athletes are up early for the first run of the day, followed by breakfast, a morning recreational activity like volleyball or ultimate Frisbee and then free time at the waterfront and on-site country store. After lunch, campers have an opportunity to squeeze in a nap before an afternoon run, followed by more free time, dinner and a fun evening activity such as capture the flag. At the end of the week there is a camp-wide relay where the victors are awarded an ice cream party. Despite Camp Varsity’s illustrious reputation and staff, noticeably missing from its schedule are the numerous lectures and speakers found at other running camps. “Our camp is extremely different because the focus doesn’t necessarily rely around intense training. We spend a considerable amount of time on non-running things,” camp director Bob Digby said. “I’m a believer that kids are not in great shape in August and if you take those kids and pound them for a week, you’re going to send them back to their coaches broken.” While it may seem like an unproductive concept, Camp Varsity is a disruptor by design — borrowing some of the “fun, goofy activities” from the six-week recreational camp, simply named Camp Varsity, that precedes it. And Digby, who has worked at the running camp since 1983 before taking it over 12 years later, has no plans to change its philosophy of fun. “Our camp focuses on the recreational, fun part of it. It affords kids the opportunity to be kids, [especially for] juniors and seniors who are stressed out about college,” he said, adding that many of Lake Braddock’s coaches opt also to coach at the summer running camp, giving their teams a chance to see them in a “non-coaching role,” goofing around and dressing up silly for dinner. “That’s such an important thing for kids to have and they just don’t get at that age. It’s nice to be able to provide that.”


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Sokphal Tun greets Madelyn Chavanne and her mother, Julie, during the Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C. Half Marathon. RunWashington photo by Dustin Whitlow/ DWhit Photography

By C har l ie B an Sometimes it isn’t the people with the loudest voices, or the most clever (or cheesy) signs that pump you up in a race. Sokphal Tun’s motivation came from someone who didn’t even know there was a race. Contrary to the cliched slogans, Madelyn Chavanne thought the Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C. Half Marathon was, in fact, the best parade ever. It was shortly after Madelyn’s first birthday that her mother, Julie, brought her out to the corner of Harvard and Georgia avenues in Northwest to watch the race. “It was Maddy’s first time spectating a race, and she loved the cowbell and clapping at the runners,” Julie said. Meanwhile, after climbing Shoreham

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Drive in the middle of the Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C. Half Marathon, Sokphal had resigned herself to not setting a PR. But when she hit mile eight and saw Madelyn, she had to go in for the sweatiest hug of the little girl’s life so far. “I had to stop because I don’t get to see them very often,” she said, since Madelyn was born. “It was a good surprise.” Julie told Sokphal they’d be out there but she figured the chances of actually seeing them were pretty slim. But that motivated Sokphal to finish the race, in spite of her time goal deflating. “Even if it’s not your day, always remember to thank the volunteers and the spectators,” she said. “They are out there in the cold for a long time and don’t always get to see their friends.”


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