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SEPTEMBER 21, 2014
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COVER PHOTO: Susanna Sullivan (far right) hangs onto the chase pack at the U.S. 10 Mile Championships in April. The race was run concurrently with the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run, which was voted best spring race in the 2014 Best of Washington Running poll. RUNWASHINGTON PHOTO BY VLADIMIR BUKALO
STARTS ON PAGE 13
LETTERS / CONTRIBUTORS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 OFF THE BEATEN PATH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 MILITARY RUNNING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
BEST OF WASHINGTONRUNNING . . . . 13 UPCOMING RACES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DROPPING BAGGAGE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MYSTERY INJURY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . BEST RUN EVER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SUSANNA SULLIVAN MAKING PLANS . CELEBRATE RUNNING . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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The way I grew up and the Army taught me it’s really easy to talk to people, so it’s pretty easy for me to get these kids to give me 110 percent.
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It’s time for our annual Best of Washington Running issue. And while I believe hyperbole is the greatest threat to our culture as we know it, but we have the numbers to back it up. Over two months, 1,666 people voted in our online poll. It’s a step up from last year’s 1,089, and closer to getting a fuller representation of the Washington, D.C. area’s preferences. There are still people to reach, though. We had some blowouts, and some entertainingly-close votes. We also had some questions from readers, so I will address them by explaining the process. A nomination period on our website, www.runwashington.com, leads to the final ballot, for which the top six nominees are advanced. I received more than a few inquiries, sometimes supported by rationales, as to why so-and-so wasn’t on the list. Simply put, the final ballot was earned. If people didn’t nominate a training group, meeting spot or race, and you are sure it has So mark your calendars right now- the nomination period for next year’s Best of Washington Running will be Nov. 1 through Dec. 31. The final ballot will be open Jan. 1 through Feb. 28. As for this year’s best of, I encourage you all to take a look at what our community has chosen. Appreciate its depth. Try a few of the runner-up trails and races and follow some of our “best Twitter feeds.” Elsewhere in this issue, Jamie Corey talked to a handful of runners about that best run they’ve ever had, the one that makes this pastime unforgettable for them. I’m pleased to be able to bring another story, that of Susanna Sullivan (page 54), whose story I rate among the best of the last few years. I her while covering my first story for what is now RunWashington, and her race at that particular track meet was backlit by her enthusiasm about the sport, one she was regaining. As she advanced her training over the next two years, more and more observers were catching notice of the woman from Falls Church who was turning heads and mixing it up with “big names” in the sport. As the area’s most recent Olympic Trials qualifier, she’s demonstrated that in addition to the breadth of runners in the Washington, D.C. area, the region has the potential to grow some tremendous talent. Even if you couldn’t care less about the competitive side to running, Susanna’s story is one to appreciate. To have endured years of frustration and disappointment with something as important. It’s a path that I hope anyone who has encountered a roadblock can find. See you out there, — Charlie MAY JUNE 2014 | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | RUNWASHINGTON | 3
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I read many running and triathlon magazines not only to learn about upcoming races and strategies but also to maintain my motivation and spirit for a sport I love. Running does contribute significantly to my physical health, however, I am most thankful for the mental and emotional benefits that come with it. That is why I commend RunWashington on publishing stories of real substance. Your articles highlight elite athletes and, more important, underdogs and unsung heroes (the great piece about John Mullen comes to mind). As runners, all of us need reminded every now and again why there is so much more to running then just the actual act of running. Thank you for that and please keep up the good work. Marley Rave, 31, Washington DC Thank you, Marley! I’m pleased that someone appreciates the direction we’re taking RunWashington. I don’t want this to be an attempt to emulate any other magazines, because frankly, my heart isn’t in product reviews and trying to prescribe training advice when I don’t even know the reader’s background. At the bottom of this sport, everyone has a story, and whether it’s a story about overcoming adversity, finding motivation or appreciating this sport, it sets someone in motion to run however many miles a week when they could be doing something else. I want this magazine to truly reflect the vibrant Washington, D.C. area running community, and to be unmistakably of that community. -Charlie Ban
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If you like the photographs in RunWashington, consider hiring one of our photographers. VLADIMIR BUKALO (Cover, Best of Washington Running) specializes in and portraits, editorial, sport, adventure and corporate event photography. www.photobukalo.com DOUG DONEGAN/ Wanderstock Photography (Best of Washington Running) specializes in photos of architecture and nature scenes. Most of his work is available for purchase as stock photography for websites, advertisement or presentation material. www. wanderstockphoto.com MEAGHAN GAY/Swim Bike Run Photography (Making Plans) is the studio manager for Swim Bike Run Photography and teaches a Speedlight course at Boston University’s Center for Digital Imaging Arts. www.swimbikerunphoto.com DOUG STROUD/ Doug Stroud Photography (Injury Isgnals) specializes wedding photography, family and lifestyle portraits, architectural and commercial photogtraphy. www.dougstroudphotography.com DUSTIN WHITLOW/ D. Whit Photography (Dropping Baggage) Specializes in sports, concert and wedding photography. www. dwhitphoto.com MELISSA DORN/Lissa Ryan Photography (Celebrate Running) specializes in engagement, wedding, travel, family and portrait photography. www.lissaryanphotography.com.
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I ran by it dozens of times on my routine eight-mile loop on Great Falls and Westmoreland. Down at the bottom of the hill near Lemon Road, it looked like nothing more than a neighborhood shortcut. I don’t remember what prompted me to actually check out what turned out to be the Pimmit Run Trail, but I do remember the odd sense of wonder that took hold when I did. I had some exploring to do. That, understandably, sounds strange. How lost can you get in McLean? It might be counterintuitive, but the prospect of somehow losing my bearings inside the Beltway only made the prospect of exploration more interesting. It wasn’t so much about charting new territories, but seeing where I’d end up. I knew the path from Great Falls Road would eventually get me to Westmoreland. When I saw that the trail continued on the other side of the street, a little to the left, all bets were off. I’m not a fervent trail runner. It’s not that I dislike them, but my body has always held up well on pavement and I figured I had better things to do than spend time traveling to run in a park when it was all the same to me. Well, now I didn’t have to choose. Rather than tearing through the trails, the mildly technical terrain, especially north of Old Dominion Road, forced me to savor the experience. The fun for me became finding out where I’d pop out if I left the park. “Tucker Ave?! I don’t even know where that is!”
I fancied myself looking for a route to the Potomac River. I knew I was headed in the right direction, there had to be a way... There is, but it’s tricky. And although I fear I am ruining the experience you could have exploring for yourself — for me, the trial and error was half of the fun — here’s some specific direction to keep you on track. Finding way to the downstream section is like realizing you have to blow the whistle near that empty pond to reach level seven of Zelda, it makes sense in retrospect but you probably tried everything else beforehand. If you reach the Highlands Swim and Tennis Club, head up Bryan Branch Road to Linway Terrace. After a quick left on Kirby Road, you have a choice. Keep going on Kirby, head into the Marie Butler Leven Preserve and take one of the wooded trails until you reach Maddux. Or take a right on Chesterbook and left on Maddux. On your right, shortly after 1607 Maddux, you’ll see a path to the downstream section of the trail, which will bring you along the George Washington Parkway and onto the Potomac Heritage Trail, where you can get off at the Chain Bridge. There are some creek crossings, and sometimes your foot will have to take the plunge to take the next step. But each next step will make you appreciate what you’ll continue to find. The Pimmit Run Trail is a 1.5-mile run from the West Falls Church Metro Stop. One section of the trail that purportedly connects to Olney Park in Pimmit Hills is impassible because of fencing under the Dulles Toll Road.
MAY JUNE 2014 | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | RUNWASHINGTON | 7
Marine Corps Capt. ANGELICA VALDEZ races at the 2013 Armed Forces Cross Country Championship. PHOTO BY MICHAEL SCOTT
BY ERIN MASTERSON
Though the marathon is never “easy,” it can be made more bearable by a scenic course, great crowd support, and the presence of family and friends running alongside. Imagine, then, what it might feel like to run that same distance, by yourself, in 120 degree temperatures, in a war zone. Capt. Angelica Valdez knows all too well what this feels like. In fact, she’s done it twice. An officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, Valdez ran the Marine Corps Marathon Forward in Helmand, Afghanistan in 2011 and 2013. She trained for her two most recent races (the 2014 Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half Marathon and Boston Marathon), while deployed this past year at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan. Now stationed at Quantico, Va., she took the challenge of running a marathon while deployed in stride (literally), viewing the races in Afghanistan as just another part of her job. “Marines have to be in good shape and being a runner has helped me get there,” she said. “It has given me the opportunity to know what it feels like to push my mind and body to a point of complete exhaustion and then still have to run a couple more miles, or work a few more hours.” A runner for 14 years, she now competes for the Marine Corps Running Team coached by Joseph Puleo. He sees her training under grueling conditions preparing her for being taxed in a race, though she may not be able to train to a point that will advance her fitness the way she would like. “Training for half-marathons and marathons is difficult given the balancing acts we do with our jobs and other commitments,” he said. “Capt Valdez was training while deployed, completing daily hour plus runs on the rock-strewn terrain of a country at war, [which] must make the races seem less painful.” He expects that while Valdez’s challenging training environment while deployed may not allow her to PR at Boston, he believes she is quickly rounding into good shape, and should run under 3:15. She is an accomplished runner, serving on the All-Marine Running Team in 2010, where she had the opportunity to race against the Royal Navy team in England. She finished 17th on the Armed Forces Team (73rd overall) in the 2013 Armed Forces Cross Country Championship, held in conjunction with the USA Track and Field Cross Country National Championship in St. Louis. Now that she is back at home in the D.C. area, Coach Puleo has been working with Valdez to resume her regular regimen of distance training and speed work, this time on nicely-paved roads, groomed trails and a track. Valdez believes serving in the Marine Corps has helped her with her running goals, not least because the physical fitness MAY JUNE 2014 | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | RUNWASHINGTON | 9
requirements of the job make it acceptable to take a running break during lunch. Though most of us are not so lucky to get this allowance, Capt Valdez notes that as a Marine, she does have to maintain a certain level of overall fitness just to meet her basic job requirements, and running alone will not suffice as a fitness regimen. For example, to complete the mandatory pushups and pull-ups, she is sure to incorporate strength training and upper body exercises into her daily routine along with running. Valdez acknowledges that serving in the military can be challenging in some ways, but says she feels fortunate that the Marine Corps is an organization with clear-cut standards regardless of gender, so she has not faced any unique obstacles as a woman. “I have faced the same challenges that most of my brothers have faced and being a runner has definitely helped me overcome those challenges,” she said. “Running has helped me stay focused and motivated as a Marine.” By any estimation though, serving in the military is a challenging profession. Deployments to war zones, austere work environments, frequent job transfers to new locations, and a lack of stability and continuity with a home community can make the job hard for individuals and their families. Long days, mandatory physical fitness tests, and unflattering uniforms are some of the more minor, yet still important, considerations to keep in mind. It is also rewarding. Serving our country and defending our interests, both here and abroad, can bring benefits much beyond material. This sense of patriotism has led many people to join the military voluntarily during the past decade. The opportunities for travel, leadership development skills, and the promise of a stable career are some of the other things that draw people to the service. Though men have traditionally held many of the top leadership positions in the military, this has been changing every year. In 2013, the Department of Defense lifted the rule that prohibits women from serving in combat positions. Women now make up almost 15 percent of the active duty U.S. military, and the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, stretching more than a decade, have given women more opportunities than ever before to serve in combat leadership positions. As many service members have found, one way to stand out and strengthen relationships in the military is through physical fitness achievements. Another local runner, Army Major Mimi Raleigh, echoes Valdez’s appreciation of running as a complementary aspect to her military career. Raleigh says of the two, “They both require discipline. They both have provided me with a network of lifelong friends, and I think that being in the Army has definitely set me up with like-minded people 10 | RUNWASHINGTON | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | MAY JUNE 2014
who value fitness and running in particular, so in that way it has helped.” Currently serving as a family medicine physician at Fort Belvoir Army Medical Center, Raleigh says running while serving in the military can be challenging, especially when she is stationed in areas where it’s not safe to run alone. But despite this risk, she appreciates that the military has allowed her to run all over the world. One memorable experience Raleigh recalls is teaching a spin class in Iraq while deployed. She says, “It was pretty interesting to look down at the floor where all of the class participants had their weapons on the floor next to their spin bikes. Anywhere else that would have seemed strange.” Due to her hectic work schedule as a physician, along with her period of deployment, Raleigh has mainly been hitting the trails with her dog the past few years and has raced less often. She has quite a few races under her belt though, including two marathons, three Half-Ironman races, and more than 20 Olympic triathlons. This year, she is mixing up trail and road races, and has plans to run the Ragnar Trail Relay-Appalachia along with the George Washington Parkway Classic and the New York City Marathon. Capt. Breana Gawrys, an officer in the Air Force and family medicine resident at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, can also attest to the power of running in supporting her military career. From her perspective, running has helped in that the military emphasizes the importance of physical fitness, and requires Service members to stay in shape, so there are always opportunities available for running and fitness. Because running is one of three key components of the military physical fitness test (along with pushups and sit-ups), at least a baseline level of competence in this area is mandatory. Gawrys often works with fellow Airmen to help them sharpen up for an upcoming PT (fitness) test. She describes this support as “the no wingman left behind sort of thing.” “There are many like-minded people with whom I work who value health and fitness and enjoy running, so I am able to train and participate in races with them,” she said. Gawrys has been a runner since college, running on a club team while at Duke University. In her first marathon (at age 19), she got second in her age group in the Marine Corps Marathon. She has raced the Boston Marathon twice and completed an Ironman Triathlon in 2008, and hopes to qualify again for Boston at Marine Corps this fall. As demonstrated by these local service members, running has opened doors to them, and in the process has created additional opportunities to demonstrate their capabilities and strengths in both their military and running careers. It is likely that both elements of their lifestyles will continue to complement each other, leading to even greater success as soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.
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Finding out the best aspects of the Washington running scene is harder than one would expect. Generally, the top few vote-getters in each category separated themselves from the rest of the field, and involved a narrow victory. The Alexandria Turkey Trot had just a three-vote margin over the Bethesda Turkey Chase for best Thanksgiving race. The D.C. Road Runners nearly pulled off a double win before settling in second for best group run. In Virginia, the Mount Vernon trail had one one vote more than the W&OD for the top runner up spot for best paved path. Tut there were a few blowouts. Most voters agreed that the C&O Canal Towpath was the best natural surface trail, the Jingle All the Way 8k was the top race in the winter (though it’s technically before the solstice). Cherry Blossom wins top spring race and, like it was ever a question, the Marine Corps Marathon dominated the fall races. Thank you to everyone who nominated their favorites and then voted for them. I hope that when out-of-towners voted, and I know several did, that they got a good look at what we have to offer in Washington and suburban Maryland and Virginia. I don’t think I speak out of turn when I say it’s all pretty great. - C H A RLIE BA N
MAY JUNE 2014 | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | RUNWASHINGTON | 13
C&O Canal Towpath
BEST NATURAL SURFACE TRAIL
RUNNERS UP: Burke Lake, Seneca Creek Greenway Trail
PHOTO BY MATTHEW LEHNER
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It’s 184 miles of pure dreamy running. Jump on “the towpath” and never have to dodge a car. Call it “the C&O” and most local runners will assume you’re new here. The terrain varies from a pebble-strewn sand around Georgetown to solid packed dirt past the Beltway that seems the quintessential example of “solid earth.” It’s convenient to the District, but expect a crowd there. Drive out to Riley’s Lock, Swain’s Lock, Edward’s Ferry for a little more shade and solitude, and perhaps a breeze off of the Potomac River. However you take it, it’s a staple of practically every local runner’s repertoire. You’ll see the Capital Area Runners flocking to Fletcher’s Boathouse on Saturdays, various D.C. Road Runners and Safety and Health Foundation races held from there to Carderock. Three marathons are held along the towpath, and they’re bargains. Running is predicated on the simple premise of development adaptation through repetition, that there’s no secret to success besides consistency. The towpath strips it right now to the basics. Leave the GPS watch at home and rely on the mile markers that are “right enough.” It suits beginners, collegiate champion cross country teams and Olympians. And it’s right for you. - C H A RLIE BA N
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Smithsonian Metro Station
BEST PLACE TO MEET UP FOR A RUN RUNNERS UP: Downtown Bethesda, Fletcher’s Boathouse
You won’t be the only one meeting someone at the Smithsonian Metro station. Expect chaperones waving flags at their school groups in neon tees. Expect families in sturdy walking shoes with knapsacks and light sunburns. Expect grown men playing kickball. Expect bicycle commuters and Hill staffers hurrying to or from their offices. When you gather here, you probably won’t be the only runner meeting someone. In the high running days, expect charity teams, local clubs, and running tours sponsored by the National Park Service. Fortunately, there are a dozen landmarks nearby to find one another among the crowd. Embrace the crowd. The Smithsonian metro on the National Mall is a place everyone has been and is willing to come back to. It’s accessible by car, bus, bike, foot, and Metro. And this little corner of the Mall is more than just familiar and centrally located. It’s a hub. The station is your starting point on a run that could take you miles in any direction. Head west to loop the Tidal Basin and Hains Point, cross a bridge into Virginia, find the Capital Crescent Trail or C&O Canal Towpath, or continue north into Rock Creek Park and, eventually, Maryland. Turn south and east for the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, the hills of Southeast, and even more of Maryland. Strengthen those legs on Capitol Hill before the flat expanses of the east side of the city, or just loop any portion of the Mall’s gravel boulevards to pass monuments and museums galore. Ultimately, you and the tourists and the commuters are all there for the same reasons: history, humanity, and ease of access. We’re lucky to live in the shadows of monuments and halls of government, places millions come to visit every year. The trip of their lifetimes is our back yard! So beyond the crowds, you can expect beautiful sunsets and sunrises, with light bouncing off gleaming stone surfaces; cherry blossoms bursting pink petals; lush green grass; imposing historic architecture. Many of us ignore the beauty of a place that may be crawling with visitors and to do so is to miss out on so much that’s unique about this region. Let the tourists have the Mall in June; we have the holiday lights in December. The best place to meet for a run is the Metro station smackdab in the middle of America’s backyard. RUNWASHINGTON PHOTO BY VLADIMIR BUKALO
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— K A T IE BO LT O N
BEST LOW-KEY RACE
RUNNERS UP: Country Roads Run, Cascades Firechase 10k/Kensington 8k
Each year, since 1993, the dual neighborhoods of the Kentlands and the Lakelands, located in Gaithersburg, host the largest 5k in Montgomery County and one of the fastest 5k races in greater-Washington, D.C. The Kentlands/Lakelands 5k attracts a wide range of contestants, including some of the region’s top flight East Africans, postcollegians from local race teams as well as firsttime runners and walkers who inhabit one of the two communities the race course traverses. If you’ve never been to the Kentlands/Lakelands, you’re in for a treat; the neighborhoods are the epitome of New Urbanism. Residents first began coming here in droves during the early 1990s and now the two communities boast nearly 8,000 residents. Since 1997, race directors have put on the race for the Kentlands Community Foundation, which shares a substantial amount of the proceeds with various local charities. Although the race is officially held in the summer, during Labor Day weekend, the weather, thankfully, can be cool and this superfast 5k is a perfect opportunity to launch your fall race season. The USATF certified 3.1-mile course meanders through both communities, which share the race’s name. Shortly after you start, you will run through, as the race website suggests, the “unique design of these awardwinning neighborhoods.” Residents line the rolling roads in front of their respective homes encouraging the participants forward. One would think that the slight inclines and various turns would prohibit fast times, but the course records - 14:17 for men and 16:35 for women - suggest otherwise. As you near the finish, you will leave the residential neighborhoods behind and will pass a series of shops – restaurants, hair salons and fitness studios. Hundreds of fans, many of which are residents who have come out for the big day, will be there to greet you. As an added bonus, the race is held on a Saturday so anal-retentive runners, who don’t like to compromise their Sunday long run for a race, need not worry! - J AK E K L I M
PHOTO BY JIMMY DALY
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Capital Crescent Trail - D.C., Maryland
BEST PAVED PATH / TRAIL
RUNNERS UP: Mount Vernon Trail – Virginia, W&OD Trail - Virginia
PHOTO BY STEVE ZURAF
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Not too far from the Silver Spring metro, the Capital Crescent trail begins on Talbot Avenue with a wooden sign. “Mile 0.0” mark the beginning of 11 miles of crushed stone and asphalt trail. This is the best paved trail in the DMV area, according to RunWashington readers. It’s a commuter’s dream, connecting Silver Spring, Chevy Chase, Bethesda, and Georgetown and linking up with the Rock Creek Trail and the C&O Canal towpath. Morning riders treat it like the beltway for bikers, enjoying a barely noticeable gradient drop of about 300 feet from Bethesda to Georgetown. Close to 10 bike shops operate right off the trail. Runners have long used the trail to connect with Rock Creek Park down to Georgetown, making a 22-mile loop that is, for the most part, free of cars and traffic lights. Just after the one-mile marker, the Rock Creek trestle rises 80 feet above the creek valley. Two miles later, the Wisconsin Avenue tunnel connects the crushed stone of the Interim Capital Crescent Trail, also known as the Georgetown Branch Trail, with the asphalt of the Capital Crescent Trail. The D.C. portion beyond the historic brick Dalecarlia Tunnel provides glimpses of the Potomac. As early as 1910, the trail was the site of the Georgetown Branch rail line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (yes, the B&O railroad from Monopoly), carrying coal and building materials along the arc that gives the Capital Crescent its name. Trains stopped running in 1985, but one year later the Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail (CCCT) was created to turn the
abandoned rail line into the commuter-friendly path we see today. The National Park Service manages the D.C. section; the Montgomery County Parks Department takes care of the trail in Maryland. Overgrown with lush greenery in the spring and summer, the path fell victim to this winter’s unending dreariness with sections left unplowed after storms by Maryland authorities. “Each year, I hear from residents who report the difficulty of traversing the trail after a snow fall or icy conditions due to the lack of maintenance and snow removal,” five Montgomery County councilmembers wrote to the Directors of the Montgomery Parks and Department of Transportation in February. “As a result, commuters are forced onto busy and dangerous roads that often do not have the appropriate bicycling infrastructure, a situation made worse by the accumulation of snow in the curb lanes from the plows.” On March 27, Bethesda Now reported that Montgomery Parks said it could plow its part of the Capital Crescent Trail in Bethesda for less than $60,000 with a pilot program starting next winter if approved by the County Council. The proposed program would plow the trail 48-72 hours after a storm, after clearing snow in parking lots and other Parks facilities. Luckily, snow will (finally) be a distant memory as the Capital Crescent Trail will be back in business for training and commuting this spring and summer. The CCT Coalition (www.cctrail.org, @CCTreports) keeps track of trail conditions and incidents. - MA G G IE LL O YD
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Cherry Blossom Ten Mile
BEST SPRING RACE
RUNNERS UP: George Washington Parkway Classic, Pike’s Peek 10k
RUNWASHINGTON PHOTO BY VLADIMIR BUKALO
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It’s the D.C. running community’s annual reunion. Once the snow melts and the bibs are swapped, thousands converge in front of the Washington Monument for the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile. Everyone sees everyone — on the other side of the Arlington Memorial Bridge in mile two, along Rock Creek Parkway and Ohio Drive later in the first half of the race. “I haven’t seen you since Marine Corps!” “How’s your Boston training going?” Though runners take it seriously, most talk of “peaking” does not involve training periodization or a taper; it’s all about the cherry trees. It’s been a few years since the race and the trees have been on the same page, but that doesn’t stop anyone from marking the lottery entry dates on their calendar months in advance. It’s a speedy course, too, with both men’s and women’s American records for 10 miles coming on the course, with two women’s records in the last two years. Year in and year out, a strong international field comes out to play, and the Kenyan ambassador is usually nearby to watch with pride. The race was home to both men’s and women’s U.S. 10 mile championships. It’s been at least six years since any rain has ruined the day, which usually progresses to brunch and a nap later on. Dreams are dashed or realized in East Potomac Park, sometimes harmed by a headwind. And as many times as they run it, seemingly nobody can remember where they went downhill when they have to head back up in the last half mile. - C H A RLIE BA N
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Crystal City Twilighter
BEST SUMMER RACE
RUNNERS UP: Rockville Twilight, Riley’s Rumble
PHOTO BY BRIAN W. KNIGHT
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The sun is setting on a hot summer night in July. A small crowd has gathered in Crystal City. As the sky darkens - the hue changing from pink, to purple, to midnight blue - the number of spandex-clad participants on the streets grows. On the surface, the atmosphere is calm - carefree, almost - but with a rumble of excitement and nerves underneath. Small groups mingle about, some individuals focused on pinning paper bibs to their shirts, others to stretch, the more dedicated to jog a warm-up loop around the block. As the clock approaches 8:30 p.m., the Crystal City Twilighter 5k is almost set to begin. The runners line up at the starting tape. The elites are leading the pack, followed by (intermingled in various orders) the collegiate and post-collegiate runners, the high school competitors, the local club teams, the fun runners, the families, and the first timers. Everyone is welcome, and everyone has found a place in the starting corral. The size of the group has reached the thousands, but you might never know it. The darkness is closing in, leaving the edges of the crowd lost in shadow. Finally, theyâ€™re off. The fast, flat course is a dream. The leaders are running all out, not a single one holding back. The rest of the field follows quickly behind, stretching their legs through each stride, each participant quickly breaking a sweat (admittedly, not hard to do on a Virginia summer night). For those runners in the middle of the pack, little can be heard but the footfalls of their neighbors and their own breath. One straightaway done, and the first group has broken away through the first turn.
The cheering sounds of the spectators can be heard, faintly at first, then growing louder as the first runners reach the halfway mark of the race. The leaders can feel the end getting closer. But for those runners in the middle of the pack, surrounded by darkness, time seems to have simultaneously slowed down and sped up, so hard can it be to get oriented amidst the excitement of the race. Another straightaway finished. Only one last quick turn and a final kick remains. The crowd is going wild - the streetlights illuminating their excited faces and waving arms. As the lead group races down towards the finishing tape, the only question remaining is which runner will claim the top prize. Fortunately, multiple awards are to be given tonight, and many of the top finishers will be recognized individually for their accomplishments in their respective divisions. The excitement, fun, and nearly ideal conditions for the Crystal City Twilighter 5k race are only made more special by the postrace festivities. Hosted by Pacers Events and the Crystal City Business Improvement District, all runners (over age 21) can enjoy a complimentary beer after the race. Other perks include free parking, Metro access, a Pacers signature tech t-shirt, and - of course - a prime opportunity to PR in a 5k running through the heart of beautiful downtown Crystal City. Does any doubt remain? Held this year on July 26, the Pacers Crystal City Twilighter 5k is the best summer race in town. - ERIN MA ST E RSO N
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Pike’s Peek 10k
BEST RACE TO RUN A PR
RUNNERS UP: Cherry Blossom Ten Mile, George Washington Parkway Classic
Anyone who has run the Pike’s Peek 10k in Rockville knows the course is fast because it’s downhill. But that’s only the beginning of the story. The first six miles are essentially flat -- not Kansas wheatfields flat, but as level a stretch of road as you’re likely to find around here. So while the net elevation drop is 190 feet, most of that decline comes in the final two-tenths of a mile, a point in the race too late to make a middling time fast. Some surmise that fast times are born of the point-to-point configuration: one left turn 200 meters into the race and then it’s pellmell down Rockville Pike until the finish. And certainly the straight shot helps. But there’s a more subtle, even invisible reason thousands count Pike’s Peek as their PR course -- the wind. Catch Pike’s Peek on a good day -- that means a breeze from the north blowing due south -- and set sail. In the 1999 race, U.S. Olympian Dan Browne rode a tailwind to blister the old course record by 40 seconds and claimed a $20,000 bonus. Browne’s scintillating mark of 28:35 stood for 10 years. Increased prize money (although no more five-figure bonuses) also served to keep the elite fields fast. In 2011, Julius Kogo, with a strong push from the wind, led eight runners nearly stride for stride over the final hill and toward the tape. Kogo won in the stillstanding record time of 28:06. Seven of the event’s 13 fastest times came that year; the top six women that same year are among the 13 fastest ever. So get set for the 19th iteration of Pike’s Peek April 27. With White Flint Mall at the finish line all but shuttered, this will likely be your last chance to catch a flyer down the Pike. PHOTO BY CHERYL YOUNG
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- JIM H A G E
Marine Corps Marathon
BEST FALL RACE
RUNNERS UP: Parks Half Marathon, Army Ten-Miler
It’s like fishing with dynamite. Last year, it was the third largest marathon in the United States. Around the DC area, it was immensely popular, with 6,565 local runners crossing the finish line. Though it lacks prize money, it routinely draws competitive runners, many of whom want to run for the glory of winning the Marine Corps Marathon. One of your neighbors has run it. You know someone who’s traveled from out of town for it. Chances are, you’ve done it. Vice President Al Gore ran it in 1997 and D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty in 2008. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas finished in 3:11 in 1980. The list goes on: Members of Congress, Drew Carey, Oprah. It’s been called the People’s Marathon. The best marathon for beginners. An economic force in the D.C. area that, in 2010, led almost 70,000 visitors to spend $38 million for their racing or spectating trips. In 2013, the first-come, first-served system sold out in less than two-and-a-half hours, and it would have been faster without the registration site crashing. It forced the race to go to a lottery to give everyone a chance to “get in.” Even if you don’t get in, the whole day is a big party. Crowds line the streets, seemingly everywhere but Hains Point, and anyone who tries to wear headphones quickly hears his tunes drowned out by cheers. Even the prelude to Hurricane Sandy didn’t clear the course in 2012. There were a few uneasy weeks last year while the budget stalemate put the race in jeopardy, but runners like to think that their brethren in congressional districts across the country made their voices heard in their members’ offices — we want to race. And if the government shutdown hadn’t ended in time? Many of the more than 24,000 marathoners who raced would have probably mobbed the roads and run the course anyway. - CHAR L I E B AN
RUNWASHINGTON PHOTO BY JIMMY DALY
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Girls on the Run
BEST RUNNING-RELATED NONPROFIT RUNNERS UP: Back on My Feet, Teens Run DC
As a nonprofit that encourages confidence and success through running, Girls on the Run attracts a lot of local runners as volunteers. Hundreds of volunteers in the D.C. area help girls be healthier and more confident with Girls on the Run. The local chapter of the national group, founded in 2006, holds two 5k community races annually paired with about 10 weeks of training. More than 800 girls in all eight wards of the city participate in the program each session, said Kelly Makimaa, development associate for GOTR. While volunteers aren’t all runners, the nonprofit attracts many who already know the physical and emotional benefit of the sport, Makimaa said. “We all know through sports, especially running, achieving little incremental goals, it truly resonates with believing ‘I can,’” she said. The program is always looking for volunteers, including many different opportunities at their Spring 5k on May 17, she said. To learn more about volunteering or donating, visit gotrdc.org. “If you can attend an event, you do not walk away from there without a smile,” Makimaa said. “I think for anybody who loves sports, the ability to see someone set and achieve a goal is really inspiring.” PHOTO COURTESY OF GIRLS ON THE RUN
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- JA C Q UELIN E K LIMA S
DC Road Runners
BEST TRAINING GROUP
RUNNERS UP: Run Farther and Faster, Pacers Logan Circle Fun Runs
With six different basic programs for popular racing distances, a handful of regular group runs and a mass of participation, the D.C. Road Runners maintained a lofty profile after winning Best Running Club last year. Forty coaches trained 365 runners in 2013, with 150 participating in the fall marathon training program, the club’s marquee session. Hundreds of other runners used the group’s track workouts and long runs to maximize their training potential. The club offers a variety of distancetraining programs — a 22-week marathon training program culminating with the Marine Corps Marathon in the fall, the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon in the spring. Half marathon programs target the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA and Woodrow Wilson Bridge half marathons. The 10k training programs schedule workouts in preparation for the Capitol Hill Classic and Marine Corps 10k races and a fall-only 10-mile training session prepares runners for the Army Ten-Miler. Training schedules are oriented toward these local races for ease of organization, though they can be tailored to fit other race events. Though the training programs carry a participation fee, an eight-week fall marathon training “jump start” program gets beginners up to the 10-12 mile range that is a prerequisite for the fall marathon training program. Outside of the structured training programs, the D.C. Road Runners hold several regular weekly runs. Check www.dcroadrunners. org for updates on meeting times: Every other Monday: Evening runs leaving from the Potomac Plaza Apartments (2475 Virginia Ave NW) in Foggy Bottom for 6.5 or three-mile runs, followed by trips to The 51st State or Chadwick’s. Wednesday: Track workouts at WashingtonLee or Yorktown high schools in Arlington. Thursday: Early morning track workouts at Yorktown High School in Arlington. Saturday: The Saturday Long Run (SLR) from the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima), complete with route maps ahead of time. Sunday: Sunday Mid-Runs from Fuse Pilates in Dupont Circle area (2008 Hillyer Rd NW) of four or 9.5 miles. The club also holds a four-part trail running workshop that makes use of the Glover Archbold Trail, C&O Canal Towpath and Potomac Heritage Trail and serves ultrarunners. - CHAR L I E B AN
PHOTO COURTESY OF DC ROAD RUNNERS
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Parks Half Marathon
BEST RACE T-SHIRT AND POST-RACE PARTY
T-SHIRT RUNNERS UP: Nike Women’s Half Marathon, Cherry Blossom Ten Mile PARTY RUNNERS UP: Rockville Twilighter, Four Courts Four Mile
PHOTO BY KENNA LIBES
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Every race has one. It’s what all good organizers must get right — or runners will rebel. We’re talking about the “complimentary” race shirt. You know, the clothing that lines the closet belonging to every dedicated runner. Some runners eagerly await packet pickup day—when the race shirt is finally revealed—as though it were Christmas morning. And forget the damage to the credit card bill from a steep race registration fee. The shirt alone can be worth the toll. Runners want to show off their race shirts. And race organizers want the runners to advertise their races. The Parks Half Marathon’s 2013 race participant shirt — an orange, Brooks Podium long-sleeve shirt displaying a bunny trudging through finish-line tape — is something runners will proudly wear around the District. That’s why the shirt earned the title “best race shirt.” Influenced partly by a movie poster from Pulp Fiction and the location of the race (Rock Creek Park), Parks Half Marathon Co-Director Mike Acuña says the retro shirt design captured the essence of the race. And it’s not the only “best of” category the race won in 2013. According to RunWashington voters, the race had the best after-party, too. After runners complete 13.1 miles, they end up in Elm Street Park in Bethesda, Md. with nearly a dozen different food smells to make any runner salivate. “Our sponsors work closely with us to deliver hot grilled sausage subs, New Orleans egg soufflé, hash browns, pizza, pasta, Italian subs, and a host of other fresh fruits and sweets,” Acuña says. Between the abundance of food, a shirt that is popular on the trails, a scenic park setting, and last year’s nearly perfect temperatures, Washington-area runners love the perks of this race. “We listen to runner input to make tweaks each year,” Acuña says. “[We] offer something a little different that sets us apart from other events and deliver value to our runners.” - J A MIE C O REY
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BEST RUNNING STORE AND BEST GROUP RUN
RUNWASHINGTON PHOTO BY STEVE LAICO
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Running store runners up: Potomac River Running, RnJ Sports Fun run runners up: DC Road Runners Saturday Long Run, Potomac Runners long run The best running company in the DMV area is Pacers, according to RunWashington readers voting in the annual Best of Washington Running poll. Pacers organizes over a dozen races throughout the DC metro area, including the Jingle All the Way 8K in December, the Love the Run You’re With 5K in February, and the Crystal City 5K Fridays race series in April. Their marquee event, the George Washington Parkway Classic 10 Mile and 5k, celebrated its 30th anniversary this year. Pacers Events acquired the “prettiest run this side of the Potomac” in 2006, which began in 1984 as a 15k. The family-owned business currently has five locations: Old Town Alexandria, Clarendon (Arlington), Logan Circle (Washington, DC), Pentagon Row (Arlington), and Old Town Fairfax. Pacers Alexandria, the flagship store, has been in business since 1991. Pacers stores lead over 30 fun runs a week, some starting at 5 a.m. But the series of runs that got the most attention from RunWashington readers: P Street’s Logan Circle store. The group is large enough to support a range of speeds and abilities, from the firsttime runner to the regular racer. It’s not all about the running, though. “Run Loves,” as group leader Elyse Braner likes to refer to them, meet local elite runners, try new gear before its released and take advantage of the density of eateries surrounding the block. On the second Tuesday of each month, the Pacers Running Store on P Street is crowded with runners eager to hit the road. They want to run, yes, but they’re more likely looking forward to the reward at the end: Shake Shack. “Shack Track and Field” received buzz from the Washington Post, Washington City Paper, and DCist when it first started providing post-run milkshakes and burgers last fall. Buy a Shack Track and Field shirt for $10, and you get a free drink to undo your run at the monthly meetup from then on. They celebrate birthdays and personal bests. They dress up for holidays. They race together (Run Loves was the 5th place team at Pacers’ St. Patrick’s Day 8k this year). On the day after New Year’s, when D.C. was just adding the word “polar vortex” to its vocabulary, runners still showed up at Pacers for the weekly Thursday track workout. Every workout is capped with a team cheer. And now they have more to celebrate. - MA G G IE LLO YD
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BEST TWITTER FEED RUNNERS UP: @DCRunster, @RunningWxman
RUNWASHINGTON PHOTO BY DOUG DONEGAN
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Finding a running club seems like a reasonable plan for someone new to the sport or for a runner moving to a new city. Dorothy Beal would tell you to join Twitter first. “Twitter has opened up a whole new world for me,” Beal says. “Before, when I first started running marathons, I ran Chicago a couple years. I walked to the start by myself. I ran the marathon by myself. I picked up my bag by myself. Now, when I go to a race, I pretty much know someone who’s going to be at that race.” Just as important, she says Twitter represents a way for her to have a conversation online, not just respond to comments on her blog. The Leesburg resident sent her first tweet from @Mileposts on October 18, 2009 at 8:21 a.m. She was headed for a run. @Mileposts now has almost 11,000 followers. The Twitter handle references both the W&OD Trail and posting thoughts about running. The trail holds a central point in her offline life. She picked her house because of its proximity to the W&OD, and she says the stream of runners and bikers serves as daily motivation to go run. Tweeting requires a little less provocation, though Beal says she values quality over quantity, and she only schedules the tweets with running quotes. Her most frequent postings arrive in the spring and fall during marathon seasons. When she live tweets a race, her excitement sometimes lands her in “Twitter jail,” a digital detention where the service bars a user after too many posts in a short time. Although Beal admits that Twitter has an addictive component — when a 10-minute break turns into an hour — she says runners benefit overall from using Twitter. “When I come home to my family, they don’t care what my marathon time was. The running community is a social thing. You want to talk to people about your experiences.” As for joining a run club versus joining Twitter, Beal says the social media platform empowers runners to meet each other. “You can kind of be bold and start talking to someone you don’t know. When I go to races, I’m not overly friendly. I’m not just going to walk up to some girl and be like, ‘Hey where do you live? Do you want to run together?’” However, if she were to see that same person tweet about training for a local race, she says she could respond in context with a request to meet for a run. “It’s definitely a tool that brings the running community closer together. In Leesburg, 10 years ago, I wouldn’t necessarily be considered part of the D.C. running community. Now, I know what’s going on. It makes the DC metro area just a little bit smaller.” Beal’s top three tips for runners who want to use Twitter: 1. Don’t be an egg. Add a profile picture. “You want to be a real person,” she says. 2. Put “#runner” in your profile bio. 3. Even if it’s a general region, post your location in your profile bio. You can also search location hashtags to find other people in your area. - D UST IN REN WIC K
Alexandria Turkey Trot
BEST THANKSGIVING RACE
RUNNERS UP: Bethesda Turkey Chase 10k, SOME Trot for Hunger 5k
Gather your running buddies, family, friends, neighbors, and maybe even Fido next year to chase down that pilgrim-costumed runner on Thanksgiving day and the pumpkin pie will taste that much sweeter, just by running the Alexandria Turkey Trot! The quaint feel of this race, despite the entrants which approach five thousand annually may be just one of the reasons why the Alexandria Turkey Trot was voted the best race to make you roll out of bed and temporarily abandon your kitchens for on Thanksgiving morning. Five miles of running or brisk walking on the race course tours you through the charming Alexandria neighborhood of Del Ray which is a side of the metro area many never see. Also, adding to the high race appeal is the convenient access by a short walk from the Braddock metro to the start at George Washington middle school. In addition, the fantastic organization and volunteer support attracts participants of all shapes and sizes, from walkers, to speed gobblers, with the winners posting well under five minute/mile splits. Amidst the excitement of race day, cranberry sauce and stuffing, it is also important to remember those who may be down on luck , especially on such a holiday of thanksgiving. The Alexandria Turkey Trot also allows and opportunity for just this with entrants being asked to bring a can or two of food for collection by the ALIVE foundation(Alexandrians InVolved Ecunenically). Despite your reason for waking up Thanksgiving morning, remember; Every thanksgiving morning in the DC metro area a turkey wakes up knowing it must outrun the fastest human or become dinner. Donâ€™t be a turkey and miss this race! - R EB EC C A F R I T C HMA
PHOTO COURTESY OF ALEXANDRIA TURKEY TROT
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Whitlow’s on Wilson
BEST POST-RUN BRUNCH
RUNNERS UP: Farmers Fishers Bakers, Open City
RUNWASHINGTON PHOTO BY SWIM BIKE RUN PHOTOGRAPHY
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For many runners, refueling with a hearty breakfast is their first thought after crossing the finish line. Jon Williams, a manager at Whitlow’s on Wilson, said he definitely sees an increase in business during races as runners flock for post-race food. The restaurant is located just steps from the finish line of many local races and close to the Clarendon Metro. “We’re pretty maxed out on staff to begin with, but for the Army Ten-Miler, Marine Corps Marathon, Four Courts Four Miler and Clarendon Day races, those are the ones we beef up on our staff for, for sure,” he said. The deals may also be a big draw. While the restaurant usually doesn’t offer race day specials, Williams said Whitlow’s offers good brunch deals every day, including a full bottle of champagne to “make your own mimosas” for just $14. One of their most popular items is a buffet that has “everything you can imagine,” Williams said, but the restaurant also offers a variety of breakfasts like pancakes, eggs benedict and omelettes. Whitlow’s also has good options for runners watching their waistline. “Some of the runners like to be healthier, so we have egg-white omelettes and stuff like that that’s a bit on the lighter side,” Williams said. Whitlow’s serves brunch every Saturday and Sunday from 10-3 and is located at 2854 Wilson Blvd. - JA C Q UELIN E K LIMA S
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Jingle All the Way 8k
BEST WINTER RACE
PHOTO BY GASTON LACOMBE/SWIM BIKE RUN PHOTOGRAPHY
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The race was staged on Washington, D.C.’s well-known, out-and-back course that starts on Ohio Drive and rounds Hains Point. The last year the race was held there, in 2010, runners were greeted with cold, rainy, miserable weather. On the starting line that day, I remember thinking, ‘Never again.’ But as the race got going, I started to see and hear what it was all about. It was early December; the times were festive; we still liked winter. The road was packed, and the sound the masses made was that of Santa and his sleigh: bells in laces. This race offers something for everyone. For the runners up front, it beats a hard tempo run alone. For more people, it’s a chance to blend a passion for running with a passion for the holidays by donning a warm costume. (When I asked Mike McNiff in 2011 what it was like to run in a Santa suit, he said, “It was a little hot.”) It only took this race six years to outgrow the confines of West Potomac Park and move over to an 8k course starting on Pennsylvania Avenue by Freedom Plaza, which some months later hosts thousands of runners decked out in green in honor of Saint Patrick. Look out for the top seed: a jolly-looking man with a white beard who appears to be a dozen-plus pounds above his racing weight. Look out for the winner on the women’s side: who in years past has been sporting kneehigh candy cane socks and antlers. Last year, conditions were perfect: 30 degrees and snow. More than 4,400 people participated, covering a course that passes the U.S. Capitol and National Mall. One family wore pajamas. Another family dressed up as elves. Costume awards, meanwhile, were broken down into three categories: individual, couple, and group. As Abigail Op, who ran as a toy soldier in 2011, told me: “This is just more fun: being a goofball.” - D IC K SO N MERC ER
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BEST PHYSICAL THERAPIST RUNNERS UP: Ken Fleit, Ed Beck
Chances are that every runner will need a physical therapist at some point during his or her running career. But finding a good PT is like finding a good physician. The ideal physical therapist needs to be part detective, part doctor, part counselor….and part handyman. For Rachel Miller, she’s been wearing these hats for the better part of 20 years. A Board Certified Specialist in Orthopaedic Physical Therapy and owner of ProAction Physical Therapy in Rockville, Miller specializes in the treatment of running injuries and prevention techniques. What sets Miller apart from the rest is her ability to think like a runner. A veteran athlete in her own right, she has competed at every distance from 5k to the marathon. She knows runners are highly disciplined and driven and most will push themselves, sometimes to the breaking point. “Most runners come to me without seeing a doctor first,” explained Miller. “Many runners have aches and pains and feel comfortable visiting a PT for peace of mind. My job is to connect with the patient, ask a lot of questions, find out about previous injuries and then dig a little deeper. I look at flexibility, range of motion, strength, muscle imbalances, posture, footwear, training and form.” Once she has a good idea about what ails them, she works with the runner to formulate a plan. “I’m all about modification. Rarely do I have to tell a runner to completely stop running. It’s usually as simple as reducing mileage or intensity or working on strengthening a problem area.” For Miller, every case is a like a puzzle and everyone is different. Her main goal is getting runners pain-free and confident so they don’t need to come back. Empowering patients with knowledge is key. That includes clearly explaining and demonstrating stretching or strengthening exercises. “If you don’t have the ‘why’ behind it, people don’t buy into it,” says Miller. “Spending the extra time to make sure the technique is sound is a critical part of my job.” Miller particularly loves working with new runners because of their youthful enthusiasm. “As a physical therapist, I love being a part of that journey for each runner as they strive to meet their goals. I try to understand where they are now and where they want to be, and then together we make that happen. It’s all about longevity.” PHOTO COURTESY OF MILLER
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- D A N D IFO N ZO
AALLTRADITION OF EXCELLENCE FOR 30 YEARS RACE PROCEEDS BENEFIT SOLDIER MWR PROGRAMS
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SATURDAY, MAY 10
SEVEN OAKS ELEMENTARY 5K Odenton, Md. NATIONAL POLICE WEEK 5K Washington, D.C. ANNUAL SEMPER FI 5K Washington , D.C. WOOD ACRES JOGFEST 5K Bethesda, Md. RAMS ON THE RUN 5K Bowie, Md. THE JoASL 5K FOR MOM Bowie, Md. ST. JOHN THE JOGGER 5K AND OBSTACLER Silver Spring, Md. SPRING INTO ACTION Alexandria, Va. TKO MELANOMA 5K Ashburn, Va. 2014 HERNDON MIDDLE SCHOOL 5K Herndon, Va. GET SMART! 5K Leesburg, Va. METROPOLITAN BRANCH TRAIL 5K Washington, D.C. ONE SPARROW 5K Ashburn, Va. RUN FOR THE MONKEY BARS 5K Reston, Va.
SUNDAY, MAY 11 MOTHERS DAY 8K Washington, D.C. MOTHERS DAY 5K College Park, Md. ANGEL KISSES 5K Chantilly, Va. MOTHER’S DAY 4 MILER Reston, Va. “MOTHERS HELPING MOTHERS” 5K Springfield, Va. 5K FOR MENTAL HEALTH Great Falls, Va.
SATURDAY, MAY 17
GERMANTOWN 5 MILER Germantown, Md. GAZA SOLIDARITY 5K Washington, D.C. BKB ANNUAL 5K RUN Washington, D.C. RUN AWARE 5K XC Potomac, Md. PATRIOT PRIDE 5K/10K Fort Meade, Md. LEATHERNECK 5K Patuxent River, Md. TURTLE TROT 5K Arlington, Va. CARTER’S RUN 5K Ashburn, Va. RACE TO VICTORY 5K Bristow, Va. CLIFTON CABOOSE TWILIGHT 5K Clifton, Va. WOODSON HIGH SCHOOL 5K Fairfax, Va. ADAM’S ANGELS 5K Fairfax, Va. MOSAIC DISTRICT 5K Fairfax, Va. WE’VE GOT YOUR BACK 5K Reston, Va. BRIAN K BETTS FOUNDATION 5K Washington, D.C. HEALTHY HEARTS 5K Manassas, Va. ST. MICHAELS HALF MARATHON/10K/5K St. Michaels, Md.
RUNWASHINGTON PHOTO BY SWIMBIKERUN PHOTOGRAPHY
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SUNDAY, MAY 18
CAPITOL HILL CLASSIC 10K/3K Washington, D.C. RUN FOR THE ANIMALS 5K Wheaton, Md. THE GIRLS ON THE RUN 5K Arlington, Va. LOUDOUN LYME 5K Ashburn, Va. FOUNTAINHEAD OFF-ROAD HALF MARATHON/10K Fairfax Station, Va. MARINE CORPS HISTORIC HALF MARATHON Fredericksburg, Va.
TUESDAY, MAY 20 DCRR ONE HOUR RUN Arlington, Va.
SATURDAY, MAY 24
FAIR OAKS AMBULANCE CHASE 5K Fairfax, Va. CASCADES 10K FIRE CHASE Sterling, Va. SAVE THE TRAIL 5K Bethesda, Md. HOPE WITHOUT BOUNDARIES 5K Ft. Washington, Md.
SUNDAY, MAY 25
ALEXANDRIA RUNNING FESTIVAL HALF MARATHON/5K Alexandria, Va. AMERICAN TELUGU ASSOCIATION 5K Fairfax, Va.
MONDAY, MAY 26
SUNDAY, JUNE 15 SUNDAY, JUNE 1
OAKTON FOOTBALL 5K Oakton, Va. FINISH 2B FIT 10K Triangle, Va. RUN FOR THE DREAM HALF MARATHON Williamsburg, Va.
FRIDAY, JUNE 6 PRIDE 5K Washington , D.C.
SATURDAY, JUNE 7 REALTORS 10K Crofton, Md. NORTH FACE ENDURANCE CHALLENGE Sterling, Va.
SUNDAY, JUNE 8
8TH ANNUAL STARKID 5K Fairfax, Va. OY VEY 5K Rockville , Md. ALEX’S RUN Olney, Md.
TUESDAY, JUNE 10
WOMEN’S DISTANCE FESTIVAL 5K/ RUN AFTER THE WOMEN 5K Arlington, Va.
RINGING IN HOPE 5K/10K Ashburn , Va. JEREMY’S RUN Olney, Md. MEMORIAL 4 MILE Rockville, Md.
FRIDAY, JUNE 13
SATURDAY, MAY 31
PAN CAN PURPLESTRIDE 5K Washington, D.C. LAWYERS HAVE HEART 10K/5K RRCA REGIONAL 10K CHAMPIONSHIP Washington, D.C. RUN FOR ROSES 5K Wheaton, Md. LOSING TO LIVE 5K Annandale, Va. BORN TO RUN 5K Chantilly, Va. BALTIMORE 10 MILER Baltimore, Md.
SPRINGFIELD 5K Springfield, Va. SOAR LIKE AN EAGLE 5K Alexandria, Va. HATS AND HOPS 5K Chantilly, Va. PATRIOTS’ CUP CORPORATE CHALLENGE 5K Springfield, Va. RUN FOR THE DREAM 8K Williamsburg, Va.
RUN WITH THE JUNE BUGS XC Derwood, Md.
SATURDAY, JUNE 14
FATHERS DAY 8K Washington, D.C. RUN WITH DAD 5K Reston, Va. ZERO PROSTATE CANCER 4 MILE Arlington, Va.
SATURDAY, JUNE 21
XTERRA BIG ELK TRAIL MARATHON/ HALF MARATHON Elkton, Md. ARMY BIRTHDAY SUMMER SIZZLER 5K Fort Meade, Md. TWILIGHT FESTIVAL 4 MILER Ashburn, Va. HUGH JASCOURT 4 MILE Washington, D.C.
SUNDAY, JUNE 22
FRIDAY, JULY 11
SATURDAY, JUNE 28
SUNDAY JULY 13
“FATHERS HELPING FATHERS” 5K Fairfax Station, Va.
PATAPSCO SUMMER 5K/10K/10 MILE TRAIL RACE Elkridge, Md. POTOMAC RIVER RUNNING BIRTHDAY BASH 5K Fairfax, Va.
RUN FOR INDEPENDENCE 5K Leesburg, Va.
SUNDAY, JUNE 29 FREEDOM FOUR MILE Arlington, Va. GRANT-PIERCE INDOOR MARATHON/50K Arlington, Va. MIGHTY MILE KIDS RACES Fairfax, Va.
FRIDAY JULY 4
MONDAY, JULY 14 BATILLE DAY 4-MILER Washington, D.C.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 16
THE FALLS 5K McLean, Va. FIRECRACKER 5K Reston, Va. DCRR AGE HANICAPPED 4-MILER Carderock, Md. AUTISM SPEAKS 5K Potomac, Md. GO FOURTH 8K Vienna, Va.
SATURDAY, JULY 5 REV3GLOW RUN Ashburn, Va. LITTLE BENNET XC Clarksburg, Va.
MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S MILE Gaithersburg, Md.
BLUEMONT 5K Arlington, Va.
SATURDAY, JULY 19
ROTARY TWILIGHT RUNFEST 8K Rockville, Md.
SUNDAY JULY 20
MELT UNDER THE SUN 5 MILE Lorton, Va.
SATURDAY, JULY 26 CRYSTAL CITY TWILIGHTER 5K Arlington, Va.
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Seventh Annual 5K Charity Race to Support the Equal Footing Foundation
Sunday, August 24, 2014 at 8:00 a.m. Fairfax Corner Shopping Center, Fairfax, VA All proceeds go to support the Equal Footing Foundation, a Virginia-based non-profit focused on youth development and education. • Bobblehead awards and prizes for top overall finishers, masters winners, and age category winners in 5-year age groups • Geek glasses and tech t-shirts for all participants • Corporate Team Challenge – trophies will be awarded to the fastest team! Register today! Registration cost is $30 until July 24, $35 until August 23, and $40 for race day registration. For more information about the race or becoming a sponsor, email us at RunGeekRun@w2comm.com or call (703) 218-3555.
Visit www.RunGeekRun.net for more details!
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4/14/14 11:34 AM
BY MAGGIE LLOYD
RUNWASHINGTON PHOTOS BY DUSTIN WHITLOW
Carl Klein woke up one night to a police officer knocking on the window of his Ford Explorer. He was parked in a lot right off the highway, and the officer told him he couldn’t sleep there. Carl started his car, drove to another location and fell asleep again. He was 17 years old. It was an unusual high school experience, one that running helped him endure. Now in his first year as an assistant track and field coach at Annandale High School, Klein’s love of athletics is still strong. Klein was born and raised in Perry, Mich., a small town northwest of Detroit with a little over 2,000 residents. Klein excelled in soccer, wrestling and track at a high school where each graduating class had about 30 students. “I just fell in love with running,” he said, although he didn’t always feel that way. “I was honestly only doing it to keep in shape for other sports.” He specialized in the 800m, mile, and 3200m relay. “The competitive side of me wanted MAY JUNE 2014 | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | RUNWASHINGTON | 43
to beat other people in races,” he said. “When you practice, you don’t have to worry about all the stresses of school and work or anything.” His life at home was a different story. His parents, both drug users, were never around and his mom remarried multiple times. Klein relied on his uncle and grandfather as role models. “They were the two biggest influences in my life,” he said. “My uncle was around all the time and he kept me straight, telling me what I should and shouldn’t do.” Then came the day when 17-year-old Klein told his parents to stop using drugs. His mother kicked him out. “It was just a random day,” he said. “There’s nothing that really sparked it. For some reason I had had enough and I was like, ‘You guys need to stop, this is ridiculous.’ And it was as simple as my mom saying ‘Get out.’ And then that’s literally all it was.” Klein packed up a few things — clothes, a blanket, and a pillow — and left. His friends and their families were aware of his situation and offered him a place to stay. He stayed with friends’ families for a while, but was hesitant to accept the help. “I was really stubborn,” he said. So he resorted to sleeping in his car in park-andride lots by the highway. In the mornings, he would work out at a YMCA so that he would have access to a shower. After practice, he would wash dishes at a restaurant so that he would have dinner and enough money to buy lunch at school. When asked if he was worried to be out on his own, Klein said “I wasn’t that scared, really. I had so much going on with high school, sports, and work.” “When you’re really young, you have energy all day,” he said. “I’ve always had a lot of energy. Trying to juggle it wasn’t a big deal.” Klein ran a couple marathons while he was homeless, too. The first one came as a surprise. “My track coach was like, ‘Hey, I’m going to do a marathon in a few Saturdays — wanna do it?’ I was a young buck; I was just like, ‘Whatever, I can do it.’” It was a short-lived marathon career. Thinking back, Klein acknowledged that his life at home made him stronger in the end. “It made me try a little harder,” he said. “My parents never really gave me anything so I always had to support myself, so it just made me want to strive and do better.” Back then, his main concern was what to do after high school. No one in his family pushed him towards a college education, and he thought he could easily find work in one of Michigan’s auto factories. After a year of odd jobs after graduation, Klein walked into the closest Army recruiting center. His grandfather, his role model, had been a Marine and served in World War II. He used his old home address on his forms, but never contacted his parents about what he was doing. Klein was guaranteed three meals a day and a roof over his head. His new life took him 44 | RUNWASHINGTON | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | MAY JUNE 2014
around the globe, including one-year tours in Iraq and Hawaii and about another year in Afghanistan. “It’s a little scary at first, but most people know since 9/11 that when you join the military, you’re joining at a time of war,” he said. While he served abroad, his infantry ran early in the morning during physical training despite temperatures exceeding 90 degrees. A few times a month they would go on 10to 30-mile hikes. Klein and his colleagues did Brazilian jiu-jitsu to keep in shape when they got bored of running. “The summertime is definitely, definitely the worst,” he said. Between his deployments, Klein studied helicopter mechanics in Virginia, where he and his wife met for the first time. While she was finishing her Master’s, Klein moved to Hawaii and within a year she flew down to visit, when he proposed to her. A few weeks later, he left for Afghanistan and they skyped nearly every day. Klein left behind the marathons of his teenage years to tackle 5ks, 10ks and half marathons during his time with the Army. Today, he still runs daily, but his new love is the Spartan race series, featuring as many as 13 miles of obstacles in challenging terrain. “A half marathon is not too bad, I think. The recovery time after a full marathon is too much for my body, especially after all these
years in the Army. That’s why I got into the obstacle course races,” he said. “It’s a pretty good workout,” he said. “I’ve done the Warrior Dash, but for me it’s just too short and it’s really not that big of a challenge.” His new training regime means he’s not just logging miles but also chopping wood for two hours, carrying rocks, and dragging logs. “The most random thing you can think of, that’s what you try to do because the race is really random. They don’t tell you exactly how long it is and what you’re going to do.” He described one event in Vermont, where racers carried a huge rock two miles up a mountain, recited the names of the first 10 U.S. presidents, and raced back down. Forgetting a president sent racers back up the mountain to try again. His wife started to run, too, and raced the Disney Half Marathon last January. Klein left the Army about two years ago, and they now live in Kingstowne, not too far away from their school. His wife, an Annandale alumna and teacher, was the one who saw the school’s opening for assistant coach. Seeing his athletes improve is Klein’s favorite part of the job. In his first indoor track season this year, his 4x200m squad finished fifth at the Virginia state meet. “They worked really, really hard at it,” he said. “They kind of destroyed at states.”
Klein also works as a security guard on campus during the day, which has helped him relate to the campus culture. “It’s just a great opportunity for me because the kids are going to be able to see me all day and so I’ll be able to see them a lot more rather than a couple hours after school.” In some ways, his athletes enjoy the same benefits of running that Klein did at their age. He recognizes that running offers his athletes a constant in their often turbulent lives: “It gets them away from the stress knowing that they can just go and run. A lot of kids don’t have the greatest family life so I think it keeps a nice stable position for them. They have somewhere they have to be everyday and they know exactly what they’re going to do everyday.” “I haven’t spoken to my parents in a very long time,” Klein said. It’s been more than five years since Klein walked out of his house as a teenager, and running still gives him purpose. “Coaching somebody to make them faster or stronger is the easy part. The hard part is connecting with the kids and trying to dig out their competitiveness. A lot of kids are naturally fast; that’s not the issue. The issue is getting 110 percent out of them.” “The way I grew up and the Army taught me it’s really easy to talk to people, so it’s pretty easy for me to get these kids to give me 110 percent.” MAY JUNE 2014 | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | RUNWASHINGTON | 45
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BY DICKSON MERCER It barely registered on a one-to-ten pain scale. This was a small red mark below my ankle bone - one of those hot spots. The cause, I was sure, was a new, narrower version of my training shoe. But changing shoes made no difference. And even after putting on a fresh bandaid became a reflex like putting on socks and shoes, this seemingly minor malady persisted. I would feel these little jabs of pain in my foot while running - but only at odd times, like when I came to a stop. It never struck me, in other words, as day-off-worthy. After all, there was Boston to train for. And when you are preparing for a marathon - any race, for that matter - training logs full of zeroes donâ€™t cut it. In the world runners live in, the line between injury and breakthrough is thin. This is why, at 32 and fourteen years into my competitive running life, massage therapists like Andrew Carr and physical trainers like Sarah Buckheit are such an important part of my running life. Because, without them, I tend to cross over the line. Even with them, though, I still cross it sometimes: like a few months ago, when I woke up one morning after a hard post-work tempo and felt intense pain in my foot. For months, as it turns out, I had been applying bandaids and antibiotic ointment to a tendon strain. And this case of self-misdiagnosis got me thinking: People like Carr and Buckheit are really experts in injury prevention, but rarely is the tendency to see them before the injury has occurred. What advice, I wondered, would the five physical therapists and a chiropractor you nominated for our Best of RunWashington have for differentiating between everyday aches and the first signs of an injury?
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“In recent years, physical therapists have played a role in working towards PRICE instead of RICE,” says Britta Gilbert, the director of Results Physical Rehab. Adding the “P” for “prevention” with runners, she explains, means they are less likely to need RICE, also known as rest, ice, compression and elevation. Here, she works with patient Jackie Flynn to rehab from a hip injury. PHOTO BY DOUG STROUD
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY Rachell Miller of ProAction Physical Therapy talks about this with running groups all the time: the difference between “expected” and “red flag” pain. Expected aches usually go away in less than 24 hours, while red flag pain lasts for two days or longer. Red flag pain might cause you to limp or change the way you sit. The pain source could be swollen, red, or hot when you touch it. “And when you try to run,” she said, “it either will hurt or you change the way you run so it doesn’t hurt.” Meanwhile, if you can locate the pain point by pressing on it with your finger, “That is usually a red flag type of pain - very localized,” Miller said. Britta Gilbert, the director of Results Physical Rehab, which has three locations in Virginia, said it helps to understand whether you are feeling muscle soreness or joint pain. Muscle soreness is typically linked to an increase in training volume or intensity and decreases if you ease into a run or do some light stretching. Prolonged soreness, on the other hand, if ignored, can lead to joint damage or tendon inflammation, she said. 48 | RUNWASHINGTON | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | MAY JUNE 2014
“The body does a good job of telling us when there is a bigger problem brewing,” said Robert Gillanders of Sports and Spinal Physical Therapy in the District. Unfortunately, “most runners will listen to the body only when they can’t physically run.”
FIRST STEPS When pain strikes, RICE - rest, ice, compression, elevation - is always a good place to start, said Ken Fleit, who works with Miller at ProAction. “The normal bodily costs of running tend to be temporary,” he said. “They often can be traced to some increased effort in intensity, duration, or frequency,” and RICE typically provides relief. A lot of time, runners do a decent job adapting their training - at least initially - when something hurts, said Makenzie Martin, owner of Valens Physical Therapy in Alexandria. “This could be an extra rest day, avoiding a speed workout, lowering mileage, or looking at shoe wear,” she said. “If your body rewards your effort by alleviating your symptoms, you are on the right path and your body just needed help recovering.”
a marathon, for example, you can’t not be functioning properly.” Beck works with Olympians to midpack runners to address problems that get ingrained into our motion patterns at a young age. “There is no running teacher,” he said. “It is hard to change.” Though, if you are looking to make some minor improvements to your running form, Beck recommends an app called Dartfish Express that allows users to analyze their running motion. Or, try the “core four” - a side bridge, back bridge, side bridge on the other side, and lastly, a dead bug. “If you are only running, then you are building on zero,” he said, “so it’s really difficult to get those people to where they need to be.” In the meantime, if you work a desk job, you also probably have tight hamstrings, hip flexors, and calf muscles - and perhaps a stiff back and spine, too. “These leg muscles are key to efficient running form, yet we often keep them in a shortened position all day long,” Gillander said. “I will have a runner focus on these areas for stretching.” Said Martin: “Core weakness or a lumbopelvic injury is usually the silent cause of a hamstring strain. This is a perfect example of when both RICE and other treatments are needed.”
Ice will be most effective in the first day to two days you feel pain, Miller said. She recommends ice baths, and even endorses the trick of getting in the water first, then pouring in the ice. But you still have to be honest with yourself. “If initially you had outer knee pain starting at mile seven, and now all of a sudden it’s starting at mile 3, this injury is more severe,” Martin said. “There’s active inflammation that requires attention.” Then there’s the occasional feeling of pervasive tightness, which can be caused by fatigue, Martin said, but - if it’s related to an alignment issue - not cured by rest. “I find that runners just wait and wait, run through pain,” Miller said. “And when they finally call us, they would have healed so much faster if they just came in right away.”
PREVENT ION In addition to understanding the difference between muscle soreness and joint pain, it also helps just to understand “when you are not functioning correctly,” said Dr. Edward Beck, a chiropractor at Capital Rehab of Arlington. “If you are going to run
As it turns out, I got lucky. Dr. Stephen Pribut, a podiatrist in the District, provided me a boot that I wore religiously for a week while also taking my preferred anti-inflammatory. A week later, I went out for a short run, and from there gradually returned to my full training load and did exercises to strengthen the tendon. If it could always be so easy. A couple years ago, Jackie Flynn, a former lacrosse captain at Virginia and postcollege running convert, started feeling some pain in her hip. When she had to quit mid-run, she knew it was bad. And when rest didn’t help, she saw doctors, who had a tough time diagnosing it correctly as a labral tear. Flynn, 29, of Springfield, has run a half marathon, and, in addition to her day job, is an assistant lacrosse coach at Oakton High School. She likes to coach by example, and figures that lacrosse demonstrations — more than running — might have caused the tear. “I’m that mentality that you should never give up,” she said. “But don’t push through joint pain. I had to learn that the hard way.” After surgery, she started seeing Gilbert three times a week for physical therapy sessions, and doing exercises several times a day on her own. She is back running some, but now is working out some issues in her lower back. “My goal is to run a half marathon again,” she said. “I know I will.” MAY JUNE 2014 | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | RUNWASHINGTON | 49
BY JAMIE COREY
Finding that extra bit of motivation to conquer long runs during marathon training can be a struggle. It’s easy to repeat the same routes, see the same sights and people nearly every weekend. Cristina Lopez found herself in this exact situation, but desperation bred inspiration and a run she won’t seen forget. “I was doing Mt. Vernon Trail for all of my long runs,” Lopez said, who was training for her second marathon, the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon. “After a while, I knew every bend in that trail. I really needed something to keep me motivated.” She came up with a goal to help keep her motivated: the “triple tax code” —hitting three different tax codes (Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia) in one run. Starting from Ballston, in Arlington, she made her way across the Arlington Memorial Bridge and ran north up the Rock Creek Trail. Once she hit the Maryland border, she turned around and headed back to Virginia via Connecticut Avenue. “It was the kind of run that you pick the streets that feel good to you,” Lopez said. “It was liberating to not have a planned route and to take the roads that felt right at the moment.” Along the way of running through three different tax codes, Lopez also happened to find three different strangers to talk to (and run with). “It was one of those weird days where we had a spurt of good weather in this miserable winter, ” Lopez said. “So the other runners I encountered were in a good mood—and wanted to talk to strangers.” Lopez’s trio run eventually helped in claiming a 27-minute marathon PR just a few weeks later.
PUNCHING IT Nearly every Tuesday evening, the D.C. Front Runners meet for group runs at 23rd and P Street, Northwest. Warren Snaider, an active participant of the group for more than 20 years, usually finds himself with back of the pack. But Snaider remembers one run in particular that this wasn’t the case. In fact, he clearly remembers an out-of-character run. Warren and his running partner made their way toward the Capitol by way of Rock Creek Parkway. Once they reached the east front of the Capitol, they ran into two other guys in the group. And without one word spoken to his running partner, they had a mutual agreement. “There was this overload on testosterone,” Snaider said. “And individually, we knew we had to come ahead of the other runners—even though, in my case, they were better runners. So we just started running a little faster and a little faster, and they were keeping up with us. We came storming the ramp along the parkway toward P Street—and we’re hauling ass—sail across the bridge and the two of us did finish ahead of them.” 50 | RUNWASHINGTON | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | MAY JUNE 2014
CRISTINA LOPEZ; RUNWASHINGTON PHOTOS BY STEPHEN LAICO
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CHARLES ROSSEAUX; RUNWASHINGTON PHOTOS BY STEPHEN LAICO
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Despite the hundreds of different runners at various levels making up the group, Snaider said that night was an exception. “We tell people that the [DC Front Runners] is a very uncompetitive,” Snaider said. “You can be a very fast runner or a very slow runner. We don’t care. And it’s true, we don’t’ care. But that one night, I don’t know what happened. Something took control of us.”
SNOWBALLING Less than a week after the Boston Marathon bombings, Baylee Crone helped the D.C. Capital Striders organize a running tour of the monuments. The group told runners to wear their race shirts and paper bibs that read, “Run for Boston.” Once word got out about the group run, more and more people started to spread the word through several social media outlets. “When I went to sleep the night before, 20 or 30 told us they’d be there,” Crone said. “But when I woke up the next morning, there were close to 70 people there.” Starting at the Smithsonian Metro Station, the group made its way to the Washington Monument, the World War II Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. With more than 70 runners in race shirts and their paper bids, Crone knew the run would always stick out to her. “It was a good reminder why you should run out in a group,” she said. “It’s a healing process. There’s a catharsis connection that reminds you the good things about humanity.”
FROSTY FROLIC After training with the Capitol Hill Running Club for a number of years, a group that gets taken over in June by the Marines in preparation for the Marine Corps Marathon, training in singledigit temperatures during the polar-vortex is bound to happen. Even though the Capitol Hill Running Club actually cancelled their group on the coldest day of the year, Charles Rosseaux was one among a few other members to show up at the normally schedule time to knock out some miles, despite the temperature. “Col. Ray Celeste, said to us in an email, ‘just because it’s cancelled, doesn’t mean we can’t go,’” he recalled. Rosseaux said he and a few other members of the group showed up to run. They ran on the Mall, hitting some pretty heavy wind. He wore three layers on everything to keep warm. “Total ‘idiot runner’ thing to do,” Rosseaux said. But the polar-vortex run doesn’t actually top his best running story, a five-hour run in Snowmageddon. “In my ‘wisdom,’ I decided to check out Haines Point,” Rosseaux said. “It wasn’t plowed but I decided to keep going anyway. It wasn’t my brightest idea.” After Rosseaux hit Iwo Jima, he went up to Georgetown and tried to follow as many snowplows as he could find. He thought, “please let me keep following you.”
“The snow plow drivers didn’t seem too impressed,” Rosseaux said.
LENDING A SHOULDER Tris Kruger may have expected to step outside of his aerobic comfort zone when he stepped out of his house at 5 a.m. for a six-mile run but not his own personal comfort zone. As he headed out for a run, Kruger passed a deer struggling between a wall and tree. When he made his way back, the same deer was still struggling. Kruger was compelled to do something. “I picked the deer up from its hind legs, Kruger said. “I put its legs on my shoulders and after a couple of tries, I pushed him back over the wall. It took everything I had.”
FINDING FRIENDS EVERYWHERE While Mark Ramsey of Reston, Va. was on vacation in Crested Butte, Colo. last August, he took advantage of the break from the Washington, D.C. humidity and set out for a 12-mile run along the ‘Oh By Joyful’ trail. The weather was “cool 50’s” at 8 a.m. when he left from the trailhead at 9,000 feet. Turning around at mile six just over 10,600 feet, Ramsey said he not only ran into some prairie dogs chirping at him but also passed a hiker with a lama. “We said hello quickly and I continued on,” Ramsey said. “A couple miles later I passed three other hikers with two lamas hiking down the mountain.” According to Ramsey, they asked him if he’d seen another hiker with a lama. Ramsey said yes and described the lone hiker. When he found out they were all hiking together, he discovered the group broke apart after one lama got injured. The lone hiker went down the mountain to take the lama back to their farm a few valleys away. “We said goodbye and I continued up the mountain on my run,” Ramsey said. “One of the women mentioned how she used to love running on trails like this. All the hikers were 70-plus and clearly fit, but I didn’t think much more of her comment about running.” On his way down the mountain with a Camelback half full and one to two gels left, Ramsey then passed all four hikers and their lamas going back up the mountain to their camping spot on the opposite ridge where he’d run. They chatted again and as he was about to depart, the lone hiker from earlier said to Ramsey that was in ‘esteemed’ running company: each of the three other hikers were talented runners in their prime. After Ramsey mentioned he was training for the Marine Corps Marathon, two of the hikers started talking about how much fun and inspirational the race was. In fact, one of the hikers actually ran the race before around 2:40:00 and the other had maintained the record for Pikes Peak (not the one in Rockville, Md.). Ramsey said the hikers were in their 70’s. “The run back down the mountain was incredible,” he said. “I remember looking at the watch on the way down and seeing sub-8-minute pace at times on the downhill. Considering the altitude, I was surprised.”
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BY CHARLIE BAN
Over five weeks this spring, Susanna Sullivan ran four races. A nation-leading 26:51 at the St. Patrick’s Day 8k. A week later, second at Virginia Beach’s Shamrock Half Marathon in 1:14:22. After a break, second at the Collegiate Running Association championships at Richmond’s Monument Avenue 10k with a 33:42, a pace she nearly matched eight days later en route to a 54:31 finish at the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile, fourth place in the U.S. 10 mile championship race. Two years ago, that would have been unthinkable. Not the times, but running two races, let alone four, in five weeks. “I got so used to being hurt that if someone would talk about a race a month away, even if I was healthy, I could never get my hopes up or realistically think I’d be able to race it,” she said. “Even my first year after college, I expected to be broken in half a week later.” But it didn’t happen, and now she has a race on her calendar more than a just few weeks away — Feb. 13, 2016 in Los Angeles— the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. Her time at Shamrock — the race she thought was the worst in that stretch — won her an invitation, and as she approaches two years since her post-collegiate running career began, she’s enjoying training consistency she hadn’t known since she left for Notre Dame. Following her successful career at George Mason High School, she had every reason to expect dramatic improvement. “I assumed I’d have people to run with, and with their coaches and facilities, I thought it would be perfect, being surrounded by people who were competitive,” she said. “It didn’t turn out to be what I expected.” While her times did improve, it wasn’t a smooth ride. As injuries invariably followed her good training weeks, she broadened her life away from the track so that the times she’d be forced from it wouldn’t be as distressing. With a few months to go before graduation, a broken foot sidelined her for most of her last semester, but the way she answered set the stage for her future. “I figured I could mope around with a broken foot and wear a boot at graduation, or see what I could do,” she said. Sullivan put in several hours a day in the pool and the Alter-G treadmill, working like a maniac, as she put it. All for the hopes of a few more chances to race. Not the routine of a senior who had checked out. And it paid off. She ran at the Big East championship meet and scored her only collegiate victory at her final race —at Grand Valley State — before coming home to Falls Church with physiological momentum but emotional uncertainty. Desperate to break out of her malaise,
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wanting to run fast but shy of putting herself out there again, she considered transitioning to running for fun, maybe picking up ballet and French classes, but she couldn’t see herself putting running too deeply into the background. “I love running more than anything in the world,” she said. “I thought that maybe, when running is just fun, when there are no expectations, it would stop being so frustrating,” she said. Soon after coming home, she joined the Capital Area Runners and found coach George Buckheit’s approach to be exactly what she needed. “He knew where I was coming from — a place of deep frustration,” she said. “Everyone has fun at CAR, but he made sure I stayed relaxed.” Buckheit also saw what the problem was, and how her spring led her on the way to fixing it. “Like many distance runners, she would always pound herself until she got injured and she was injured frequently,” he said. “She did way too much anaerobic work and had way too few recovery days built into her training.” Her first summer, she committed to building an aerobic base, one she found herself missing when she tried frantically to catch up following collegiate injuries. “It was a bit of a battle to convince her that she could race a lot faster if she simply slowed down her training but did more of it, but she’s become more and more confident with that approach as she’s continued to see her PRs improve,” Buckheit added. “Even though she’s almost doubled her total weekly training volume, she’s putting less total stress on her body by pulling back on the anaerobic work and making sure that her recovery days truly are easy aerobic days.” Within her first few weeks, Sullivan was cashing in that time she banked in the pool and on the treadmill, taking off immediately in her new training environment. “I didn’t even look at the workouts until I got to the track, there were very competitive people, but nobody takes it over the top. It was so refreshing,” she said. “I was sold from day one.” All the while, she’s been spending her days on her feet as a kindergarten teacher in Fairfax County. “I’ve wondered if it’s good for running, bad for running or neutral, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it benefits (running),” she said. “I read about how sitting is crummy for everything. Steps divide our classroom — it’s like I do box steps all day.” She relishes working with her co-teacher, whom she calls “a master of kindergarten.” “I love early brain development and it’s really cool to watch the kids put it together, make the little connections and see them become big connections,” she said. Sullivan has put a few things together, too. Her first half marathon — the 2012 Rock
‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half — was long enough to seem like a challenge, but her sub 1:20 time convinced her, and Buckheit, that she had an aptitude for long distances. Over the next year, she set PRs in every distance and became a regular on local podiums. During her return to Philly in 2013, she took a swing at the Olympic Marathon Trials B standard half marathon time of 1:15. A side stitch in the last mile kept her from closing, but in the process she topped local Olympic 5k runner Julie Culley and marathon trials qualifier Christine Ramsey. From there, she focused on Shamrock, in March 2014, set on solving that last mile and earning her ticket to the trials. Memories of rough half marathons before dogged her, but she was fortunate to miss the savage ocean wings that plagued marathoners later that morning. “I feel so blessed that the worst race (in her five-week spring season) would end up as a trials qualifier,” she said. “I felt like I was uptight the whole race, I didn’t know when I’d “have it.’ But, when I was two miles from the finish, I thought I’d really have to screw this up.” Ahead of Cherry Blossom, Buckheit told her not to be surprised if she was running her 10k pace. When Sullivan found the pack of Americans chasing eventual champion Janet Bawcom and Sara Hall, she thought it “was cool to be racing with these women who were pretty good,” including national-class runners Frances Koons, Brianne Nelson and threetime Olympian Jen Rhines. “I felt like it was inevitable that I was going to be dropped, but the longer I held on, the better my time was going to be,” she said. “At five miles, I knew I could hang in until eight. With just under a mile to go, I thought I would give it a shot. I wasn’t pulling away too much. I don’t know why I made a move.” Though she lost to Koons in a kick, she finished ahead of Nelson and Rhines, and probably made the difference between fourth place and farther back in the pack. “George told me to be brave, and that’s been the theme the past month — getting in and rolling with girls I don’t think I can race with,” she said. Now she sets her sights on the big one— the marathon. She’s going to try it out before the Olympic Trials. As of late April, she’s still undecided where or when it will be, but aiming for a fall race. As she advanced her mileage, she scratched 95 miles a week earlier in the year, to see how her body reacted and give her a preview of training for 26.2 miles. “The marathon, I wasn’t really sold on it until this string of races,” she said. “At this point I trust anything that comes out of George’s mouth. If he says I can do it, I’m going to try.”
PHOTO BY MEAGHAN GAY SWIM BIKE RUN PHOTOGRAPHY
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BY DUSTIN RENWICK Most local runners have covered miles on major roads such as Massachusetts or Connecticut avenues, but Larry Atkins and Adrianne Brakefield have run across the entire country in D.C. The pair, both members of the YMCA National Capital Triathlon Team, started running state streets in late 2010. When Brakefield returned from an eight-month work assignment, she and Atkins laid out serious plans — a spreadsheet — to put a few steps on every state street in the District. They met Sunday mornings at 8:15 to follow cue sheets necessary for the twisting routes. “It’s a different kind of running,” Atkins says. “We’ve got to go up three blocks on Kansas, then you’re going to take a left on Illinois, and you’re going to go two blocks on Illinois, and then you’ve got to pick up this other street. We found it a great way to see parts of the city we wouldn’t normally go see.” The project also provided views of the city throughout the cycle of a year. “We ran in snow, ice, heat, humidity, freezing temperatures, pouring rain,” Brakefield says. “We ran through all the seasons.” To check off a street, Brakefield and Atkins decided that they needed to run at least a block or two on it. Passing by a corner didn’t qualify. They used Columbia Road for D.C., and they also added Puerto Rico to their list. Both Brakefield and Atkins say the crowning achievement was an 11-mile run that hit a dozen state streets around Capitol Hill. “You know how that feeling is, when you’re running and you feel like you could go forever?” Brakefield says. “That’s how that run felt. It was a good one.” After the final run in summer 2012, the pair had covered an estimated 192 miles during a total time of 28 hours and 18 minutes.
RUNWASHINGTON PHOTO BY MELISSA DORN LISSA RYAN PHOTOGRAPHY
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