Going Streaking!

So, I’m officially taking part in the Runners’ World Streak this month, hoping I do better with this than #NaBloPoMo! For the streak, I’m committing to running at least a mile a day from Thanksgiving til New Year’s Day.

(Well, I actually started the day after Thanksgiving, since I was all snotty, coughy and voice-less on Thanksgiving. And I didn’t run Monday because we were in DC, drove 5 hours and had a very tight schedule. But I’ve let myself off the hook for that. I made the decision not to let running ruin our family schedule/mini-vacay as it sort of held our last DC trip hostage. I truly think that first week was the toughest for me schedule-wise, and I’m hopeful I can do the rest of the streak unbroken 🙂 )

So, a week into the challenge, I sort of love it. It gives me a doable goal and makes me run, as basic as that sounds. Yesterday I did a body sculpting class and had to run a quick mile before the class. I wouldn’t have done that otherwise, and those little bursts will (I’m hoping) make all the difference in keeping me feeling good this holiday season. Plus, I signed up for a 5k in 2 weeks and am hoping to go fast. I think shorter runs are making me go faster, and I’m hoping that extends to a 5k time too!

Since it’s officially cold here, with overnight lows in the 30’s pretty consistently now, I’m typically running more mid-day/afternoons. And having to run at some point every day… well, it makes me sort of have to eat light and healthy more than I had been. I can’t have heavy meals that might not digest in time for my run. That’s a good thing!

Plus, I have lots of streaker friends on the Twitters to motivate me 🙂 #RWStreak!


Dry Shampoo & Daytime Workouts: A Love Story

I don’t know if I’m severely behind the curve here, but I just discovered dry shampoo. The daytime workout game has totally changed for this curly girl.

As I’ve discussed here, I have thick, naturally curly hair. I workout at work. In the summer, that meant getting to work early & showering here. In the winter months, it means fitting it in at lunchtime and rearranging my showering schedule to accommodate. It also means that if I skip a workout bc I don’t feel like it I have to walk around all greasy and gross bc I didn’t shower OR workout.

Wait, that’s not cool.

Enter: dry shampoo. I grabbed it after my stylist told me all about it during my last cut. (I like it, but having impulse bought it at a salon… well, I’m quite sure there are more affordable and equally good options out there. That said, I’m not even gonna bother with a shout out to the brand.) Like any curly girl product, make sure it’s sulfate and silicone free & you’re set. It basically soaks up oils (sweat in my case) that might require me to wash my hair more frequently. My stylist told me that dry shampoo has been around for a while and they would often use it for the elderly & bed-bound folks who couldn’t get baths/showers as often as they needed to. (Sounds good, she also has custom made gas masks for her dogs in the case of the apocalypse, so, you know, grain of salt or whatever.) It essentially makes it so that instead of showering (or rinsing and having to redo my hair), I can do dry shampoo.

So, here’s how I use it. Let’s use today as an example.

I woke up & showered at home. This is a daily thing, I’ve stopped the “I’ll just shower at work and hope I don’t skip my workout” mess. I know you’re all proud of me for showering daily. Thank you. I feel like I’ve come so far.

I went for a run and then did at body sculpting class. The combo wasn’t intense the whole time, but I was my fair share of sweaty. When you have thick, course hair like mine, it holds the sweat in the hairs right by the scalp. Before, that meant it’d dry then have sort of oily and greasy looking roots.

So, today. after my workout, I pulled out my pony tail and blew it dry for a minute or so. I sprayed dry shampoo on the “wet” parts (that had been mostly dried) and scrunched it back up. I’m sitting here with hair that looks more or less the same as it did going into my workout.

Sometimes easy solutions fall in my lap. I think I’m in love with dry shampoo.


I wanna go fast!

I gave myself a week after the marathon. I took it slow and totally wiped “working out” from my radar and it was great! I truly did enjoy it, and surprised myself that I didn’t get too ansty.

However, after a week…I got all twitchy and felt the urge to get back into it. (It was fun to follow my “desire to run” rather than “a spreadsheet of workouts.”)

So, I’m signing up for the Girls on the Run Reindeer Romp on Dec 15, and I’m gonna focus my working out on short, speedy workouts! It’s a fun change, after growing accustomed to one-hour workouts minimally (plus in warmer weather so always followed by a shower and hair drying!), a little half hour or less run? Pretty easy sell! I figure one month is a good period of time to focus on this, and hopefully the base I have from my marathon training isn’t all gone and I can build.

How am I gonna get faster?
I consulted with some runnerd friends and GPB, the runnerd husband and designated coach/child care provider of the group. Lots of good tips, and we’re actually hoping to do a Saturday morning speed workout in the near future! I love having runnerd friends (even though they’re all faster than me. And my goal to get faster has NOTHING to do with wanting to keep up with them. Nope.)

Well, my first method will be to run faster. (I know, you come here for the revelations like this.) But during the marathon training, I often would focus on maintaining a slower speed to go farther. Speed was not part of my focus (and that was fun in its own way!) Now I’m trying to reenter that world a little, and just go faster. I ran most of my marathon training runs in between 10:15 and 11:00/miles; I’m shooting to get myself to 9:00/miles now & gradually getting closer. Bonus: it doesn’t take as long! (I’m full of really obvious statements today – you’re totally welcome.)

Today was a great run, though I tried to take a shortcut and ended up doing who knows how much on pause. I think it was about a mile… so ended up going further than the non-short-cutted route. There’s a message in there that applies to life, I’m sure.

Awesome fall run, getting faster! (Also- garmin on pause for ~a mile.) #runnerd

A post shared by Jamie McQuiggan (@jamiemcquiggan) on

I am going to get two speed workouts in per week. I’m gonna do a tempo run later this week- 1 mile warm up, 2 miles below 9:00/mile and 1 mile cool down. I also want to include repeats and sprints as the other speed workout. We have a track at work so I can do 400 yard sprints.

I’m not sure if this is related to speed persay, or just general fitness/cross fitness, but I’m going to incorporate two strength workouts per week as well. I started going back to body sculpting last week and remember why I love it so much. I’m not sure why I’m so masochistic about being sore, lol! I hadn’t done any lifting since August, so even a bicep curl was pretty awesome. Let’s work some glamor muscles.

What do you think, runnerd and fast girls (& boys, I suppose!)? Am I missing anything? What workouts have you done to improve speed? Anyone wanna do speed workouts with me?

A sappy post about Twitter & #runnerds

As I’m relaxing and reflecting on my marathon & training (and, you guys, I have so much more time & energy during which to do that! *high five*), I think I left one big thing out of my recap post.

My #runnerds. That’d be my twitter friends who I spend hours with daily, some of whom I’ve never even met. We share a love of running and understand it overlaps with nerdiness at times (who doesn’t LOVE to analyze their Garmin paces and charts!) They’ve been so supportive along the way – posting “atta girl” tweets after I tweet about a morning run, or “it’s okay” encouragement when I had a stinky run. They helped me reach my goal for my Girls on the Run fundraising! No really. I didn’t verbally ask anyone for money and raised $1k. I am so grateful for all of that support (& you can all rest assured those asks are over for a while now.)

And, maybe in the biggest, most awesome manifestation of support, they cheered me on through Frankenblister. As you guys know, I had a major super-blister that was bugging me for the last 16 miles of the race. During a walking break, I tweeted:

@jamiemcq15 Nursing a major toe blister. Send positive tweets. 5 mi left.

The responses, quite honestly, helped me finish. It’s like I had 30 spectators on the side of that stupid bridge to Crystal City in DC with signs made specifically for me. Your little online nudges gave me IRL motivation. If that makes me sound like a loser, I don’t really care 🙂 Scrolling through the responses sort of made me tear up just now.  I didn’t have the energy or presence of mind to reply or even say thank you the day of the race. So, thank you so much for your encouragement; it made a difference to me.

All of the social media community we’ve created around the silly #runnerd hashtag has come to mean a lot too, motivating me to be accountable to my training, and also it was never far from my mind that my splits were being updated to twitter (and texted to a lot of #runnerd friends). I only hope I can give as much back to my friends as they’ve given to me. Being a runner and a nerd are awesome things to be in such good company!


MCM Recap

So, how was the marathon?

I’m sort of at a loss on how to sum it up. It like a range of emotions, physical highs and lows…there’s not really a word for what it’s like to do a marathon. It sucked/was awesome. With that beautiful non-sense, I’ll just go through the day (with pictures!)

We knew going into Sunday that there was a high probability that it’d be raining and/or hurricaning during the race. That was a tough pill to swallow and I went through stages of acceptance on that… ending up at a pretty good place where I didn’t really care what it was gonna do. I picked up a new rain jacket (turns out in the 10 years since I’d bought the one I had packed they’ve started to make them a lot thinner!)

This was the doppler the morning of the race, and I’m pretty sure it stayed just about like this the whole time. Spoiler: we got no rain… a few moments where it was spitting, but nothing bad at all.

I woke up around 5:45, a few min ahead of my alarm. I got all dressed & took my breakfast down to the lobby so as not to wake my cheering squad. I saw the hotel shuttle and took it, not realizing it was taking us to the metro (I ASSumed it was somewhere “near the start” Silly Jamie.) We got there and I had my first minor freakout since I didn’t bring any money.

Lesson: Bring money. Just in case.

So this really nice fellow runner bought me a ticket. Thanks Shauna! It was a pretty bonehead move, looking back. She was all like “I’m here with my husband and kids so I have to be prepared!” And I’m like… “yeah… me too. I’m just a doofus, evidently.” Anyway, kindness of strangers saved me from being late, so there’s that.

We made the mile or so walk from the subway stop to Runners’ Village (which was really just a ton of Porta-potties and the gear check. Waited in line for like 25 min for a toilet and then walked to the start. We missed the official start, but made it up to the 4:30-5 hour corral. It wasn’t a relaxing start, but it all worked out. I ran with Stacey and Brittany for the first 10ish miles, which was so fun. 🙂 (Thanks for the pic, Brittany!)

The first few miles of the course were substantially hillier than the rest (since the rest is almost completely flat). Training in Raleigh, you kind of involuntarily do hills so I wasn’t intimidated. Even so, I hate hills like any sane person so it wasn’t the highlight of the course. Crossing the bridge to Georgetown was really pretty (and I totally peed on the side of the road just before the bridge too – you’re welcome for that detail! And for the show, fellow runners!) There was another long, slow hill in G-town but then we got to the top and a spectator was like “That’s it! It’s all down hill after this!” and… then I smiled. She was right.

Georgetown was awesome. I love Georgetown (who doesn’t!), it’s an adorable downtown stretch and it was SO LOUD and exciting! So fun to have so much crowd support there, definitely one of my favorite stretches of the race.

Next we came up on the Lincoln Memorial and I got a text from Scott that he & Margo were there. (Oh, I can text and run, are you impressed?) Seeing them was a big boost… we had planned on seeing them in Rosslyn, but couldn’t find them so that was a bit of a bummer.

Also right around the Lincoln (in between mile 10 an 11), I started to feel the beginnings of… Frankenblister. It’d been a sort of recurring issue… I’d been using Aquaphor and hadn’t had a bad run since. I said I was going to stop if we saw a Medic tent with Vaseline bc my toe on my left foot was starting to rub. We passed the Medic tent right as we saw Scott & Margo so I was all happy and like “I’ll just get the next one.” The next one was about 4 miles later. And THEY WERE OUT OF VASELINE.

Lesson: Never wait for Vaseline.

It just got worse. I did end up finding some a few miles later. (And to the Marine I grabbed the blob from, I said “OMG, you saved my life.” Good one Jamie, to a guy who’s probably been in a war. Moron.) I’m not sure if it was too late or Vaseline just didn’t do the trick. It didn’t help. By that point I had drifted back from Brittany and Stacey. I was trying as hard as I could to just not think about the blister… I mean, it’s not like I can break a toe from that, or really hurt myself. It’s just a blister. And when I looked at it (during “save my life” Vaseline application), it sorta just looked like a callus. But it hurt so bad. I won’t lie, I definitely cried at one point.

I motored through the mall section, which sorta makes me sad. I was looking forward to that part so much and I was just so preoccupied with Frankenblister that I couldn’t really enjoy it as much as I wanted to. Oh well, whatever.

On the way out of the mall towards the bridge to Crystal City, we passed the Holocaust Museum. Maybe this is super dramatic, but I started thinking about the victims of the Holocaust and how if they had blisters, and they stopped they’d probably be killed. That worked for me. It still hurt me, but I didn’t stop again on account of my toes and I didn’t cry about it again. I’m sure that’s not what the Holocaust Memorial *intended* to provide to society, but it got me through my marathon & Frankenblister.

The bridge to Crystal City (Mile 21ish) was hard: basically no crowd support and it just seemed to go on forever. Crystal City, though, was AMAZING. I was listening to music at this point, but there were several stretches where I couldn’t even hear my music because the cheering and bands were so loud. It was awesome to have that sort of energy when I was so depleted myself!

I started to actually go a little faster in Crystal City (well, it felt like faster, I don’t know if it actually was). I never hit “The Wall.” As I ticked past Mile 22, 23, 24 I just kept trying to think of it in terms of time. Like, in a half hour, I’ll be done. It somehow seemed more manageable that way. And then, the now famous line among my runnerd friends (originating from Kathleen? Heather? I can’t recall)… “I can do anything for 20 minutes.”

I finished strong, and ran up the short hill to the Iwo Jima memorial. (I had to pass so many walkers. Seriously people? I know it’s a hill, but .1 left!!! RUN!) I finished strong. I’m not sure what my official time was, but my Garmin had me 2 min under 5 hours. It’s way slower than I thought I’d finish, but by the end I didn’t care at all. The crowd was SO thick until mile 18? And even then I felt like I was constantly trying to find a space to run the pace I wanted to run without being on someone’s heels or being elbowed. The crowds made running your own race difficult. But, I’m not sure I could have/should have gone any faster than I did.

Woohoo! The other side of the finish.

After the finish… that’s when things started sucking 🙂 I got my medal, high fives from the Marines, photo by Iwo Jima. Then I just wanted to lay down… like a primal, unfightable urge. There was this Marine with a megaphone going around telling ppl NOT to lay down, and I wanted to hurt him (but didn’t have the necessary energy to do so). I found Brittany at the finish and I was so out of it. I collected the food & water and walked with the herd out of the finish area. I found a Medic tent and got some broth. I kept up with my salt (had 5 salt caps over the course of the race and lots of Gatorade…), so I’m not certain that was my issue, but it sorta felt like when I had my salt issue before. They gave me salty chicken broth and a little cot for a few minutes and it helped me perk back up. I still hated walking, but I could at least string together a sentence.

Lesson: I’m not sure. Just have more salt?

Scott and Margo found me and we slogged over to the Finish Festival. I was so happy to see them, I gave Scott a hug and said “Never let me do that again.” We were all so tired and just wanted to go back to the hotel (esp as we were plowing right through naptime). The metro line was up into the street. We went for a taxi, which also had a ridiculous line. When I add up the time I spent getting to and from the race, it’s about the same amount of time I spent running. I guess this is what you get in a 30,000 person race. It was beyond exhausting.

& Re: Frankenblister – it still hurts now, but more like a chafing burn rather than a big blister? And if it is a blister, it’s really far under the skin. I have no clue what went wrong there or how to prevent it. Oh wait, I bet not running that far would prevent it…

So… that’s the long and short of it. I am not sure I did a great job making it sound equal parts awesome and awful, but it was. If not for Frankenblister, it would have been much better, but there’s obviously not much that can be done about it now. I am proud that I did it, that I enjoyed it and mentally overcame the physical challenges (and never hit the wall… unless the end was the wall? IDK.) Am I doing it again? If so, not for a very, very long time.

Strategery on the Marathon

So, here we go! The marathon is upon us: This Weekend!

I’ve been strategizing (a lot) over the past few weeks about how exactly to run this race. I decided early on that it’s not about time, and it still isn’t. I really didn’t want to set myself up where I’m stressed about time and unable to really listen to my body and, also, enjoy the race. I have never done it before, finishing is the goal and quite an accomplishment.

But, there’s a problem with that. A big part of marathoning is pacing. And I know that I fall prey to going out too fast. And, ergo, a big part of pacing is having a projected finish time. *Sigh* Ok. But, HOW do you estimate how long it takes to run 26.2 if you’ve never done it? (no really, if you know, please tell me) The best I could find was this, the McMillan Running Calculator. It makes calculations based on your other race times at various distances. I’m aiming to run the race at a 10:15-:30 pace. It says my 2:06 half (from June) would equate to a 4:25 marathon. (I dunno about that… but anyway) Realizing that with throngs of people this could be a challenge in the beginning, I’m actually looking at that number more as a ceiling to prevent me from going out too hard. If we go out slower, I won’t sweat it.

Another piece of advice I found online is to do the first half of the race by time, and the second half by feel. I like this. I think using the first 10-13 miles to set my pace and keep me above that 10:15 threshold will help me. Hopefully, I hit mile 10 and feel great and step it up.

My last bit of strategy is to listen to music for the last 6.2 miles only. I’m intending to run the race with Brittany and Stacey, and the excitement of 30,000 others and who knows how many spectators. But, you know, anyone will tell you that the last 6 miles a-sucks and I feel as if I need something exciting to look forward to. Enter: Killer Playlist. I’m working on it, it’s gonna be great! I’m still looking for a few songs, so if you have an amazing rec, I’d love to hear it! Before you say Kelly Clarkson, I’m looking for a notch above that. 🙂 This is for A-game songs only.

And now… fuel. This, as you know, is my big thing! It’s night and day when I do a great job fueling, it almost feels like cheating. I’ve been using the plan I outlined in this post more or less (just … well, more or less depending on the length of the run). It gets different in that on longer training runs, I would stop and refill my fluids at the car, and I don’t see refilling being an option on the race course. I will probably take water & Gatorade from the stands, however, I will also take my Fuel Belt. I mean, how else will I hold all the gu I need and my phone?

I’m going to take a salt tablet at the top of each hour, and try to keep up with the Gu every 40 minutes. I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around how to make sure I’m getting enough liquids, and I don’t like not being able to know how many ounces I’ll be drinking… but I think if I just take water or gatorade at each stop, and have it in my belt I’ll be ok. That feels weirdly loosey goosey for having  been so stringent over the past 2 months about this. I just don’t know how to plan for it… Can any marathon veterans help me with this? How do you keep track of your fluids?

There’s no time like… later today?

So this morning, I woke up and started getting Margo ready to take to school (“I wanna watch a whole EPISODE -yes she says episode- of Curious George!” “I don’t want to wear those shoes.” “Did Smarty poop on the floor today?” and on and on). Scott had an early meeting and I was gonna take her in then run at work. And as I’m sitting with her and she’s screwing around at breakfast and the clock keeps creeping past 8:00, 8:10, 8:15…, I’m like… no. I don’t have time to run this morning. So I changed out of my running clothes and into my work clothes. (And I had my gym bag all packed, so what a breakfast show it was for Margo!) So that’s what sealed the deal on the transition, something I probably should have been smart enough to look at a calendar and figure out but I decided it’d be more fun to *try on* today’s workout clothes and get dressed hurriedly downstairs without a mirror. (Or coffee, in my defense)

This week has been particularly challenging in the Scheduling Department. At least two days in the last 5 I’ve skipped a shower entirely bc I kept kicking the workout can down the road a few more hours until it was “meh, I’ll just go tomorrow.”  I’d gotten into a good habit of running early this summer. It only made sense, with long runs up to 7 or 8 miles and the early sunrise and trying to “beat the heat” (quotations designed to imply it was still hot. But you prob got that.)

Well, these days, my 6:15 start is now 7:15, which has a huge impact on my arrival time at work. I think it’s time to officially give up the morning run ghost and transition to lunchtime runs. We’re also looking at running in 48 degrees or 70? Not a tough choice for me. But I have grown to like morning running. It’s so nice to be done with it before you even start work, even though I will admit actually having energy and focus on days of my long runs… didn’t really happen. (Sorreh, boss)

Showering becomes the motivating factor for me quickly. With apologies to my co-workers, I pretty much just tossled my hair and refreshed my deodorant this morning… hope I don’t stink! I am MOST OF ALL looking forward to a good shower after my quick 3 mile run (high five for TAPERING!), so in the worst cases, that will motivate me to run. Is that shameful to admit?

Scheduling runs (and other workouts) is hard, it was hard when it was just me, and having a husband, then kid, then job, have all made it even harder. But I remain committed to the *importance* of working out to me. I know a lot of moms struggle with this, and I empathize. It’s something I’m thinking about differently too as my marathon is approaching and my workout obligation will be different! I signed up for Pilates next month! It’s so exciting to do something different and non-competitive and fun.

When are you guys running these days?