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DC/Cherry Blossom 10 Miler

It’s Monday night, and I recently returned from a whirlwind adventure to the East Coast. I got back Sunday night, and being home and going to classes all day made the experience even more surreal. But let’s back up, shall we?

I’ve talked about the fact I was doing the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, but training details seemed to get lost in the hubbub of every day life. But training happened. I kind of made my own training plan, which included long runs of 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10 miles.

So, let’s back up. On Monday, I started having horrible allergies. I get them the same week every year, so that was nothing new. But then Thursday morning I go to Crossfit and feel like I have zero energy. I napped the rest of the morning before subbing a noon spin class. After spin, I really felt like I was hit by a truck. Everything ached and I was chilled so I took my temperature, and sure enough, I had a fever. Great, the day before I was supposed to fly across the country to run 10 miles in 30 degree weather, I was sick.

Friday morning, I woke up feeling a tad better, but still with a fever. I took Tylenol and went to my one mandatory class (despite it being a big pet peeve of mine to go to class while sick), and then headed to the airport.

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I was feeling pretty decent with Tylenol, but I was worried about when it would wear off! Luckily, the hours on the plan ticked by since I had had my Tylenol, and the fever never came back! For the record, I was committed to not being stupid. If I had still felt lousy come race day, I planned to drop down to the 5k race.

Saturday morning, after a quick breakfast at the hotel, it was time for our first event: cat cafe! When I found out that Georgetown now has a cat cafe a few months ago, I immediately booked an appointment for our trip. What’s super crazy is that the location is literally 2 blocks from where I lived in Georgetown a couple of summers ago, but it didn’t exist then!

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We signed wavers, and then came in to meet the kitties! The ones by the front windows were especially sweet.

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The upstairs kitties were more playful.

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For anyone interested, the way it works is you can reserve a 75 minute session for a small fee, and then have the option of ordering coffee and/or macarons upon arrival, which they fetch from offsite for you. We ended up not getting anything, since we were kind of distracted!

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Batman and I fell in love. He climbed happily into my lap, and was there for quite a while until it was time to go.

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All the kitties are from a local shelter and are available for adoption. I follow Crumbs and Whiskers on Instagram, so I’ll know when Batman finds a home!

Next on the agenda was Sweetgreen, because 1. I love it and 2. My parents had never been there! Crazy since I went about 1x/week that summer.

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I got the Beets Don’t Kale my Vibe, a seasonal salad. Beets, grilled chicken, goat cheese, wild rice, tossed in balsamic vinaigrette.

After wandering around Georgetown a bit, we hopped on the Silver Line and headed out to Tyson’s Corner. My parents used to work in that area many years ago, and my great-grandpa once owned a grocery store out there. Plus, I wasn’t 100% health-wise and a movie sounded perfect.

As we entered the mall, we found a Shake Shack, and after I raved about their frozen custard, we of course had to stop. I had the vanilla custard with fudge sauce mixed in. SO delicious.

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Our movie of the day was Zootopia. I’m in a class that talks about animal behavior, and it was recommended that we see this movie because apparently a lot of the behavior portrayed in the movie is pretty accurate.

After the movie, which I liked!, it was dinner time. I was excited to try Le Pain Quotidien.

I started out with an interesting drink: warm lemon honey ginger. Although I was feeling better, the air there was pretty dry and I had zero voice so this helped a bit.

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For my main dish, I had a chicken and smoked mozzarella tartine on seedy, gluten free bread. It had sundried tomato spread and basil oil. Delicious! The bread was chew, dense, and delicious.

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At this point in the day, we had walked about 6 hours and my still sort of sick self was tired! We went to bed early, but I was too excited to fall asleep quickly!

Sidenote: I actually realized that I went to a Le Pain Quotidien in Alexandria that summer without making the connection!

So, Sunday. As a California girl, let me lay it out for you. Friday: 70 degrees when we landed at 11pm. Saturday: rainy, sort of chilly, but nice. Sunday: temperatures in the 30s, 20-30 mph wind with gusts up to 50 mph (they decided to not use any signs during the course due to this), wind chill in the 20s. Luckily weather.com is a thing, and I was prepared for this, but jeez. Seriously?

The good news was, I woke up Sunday morning feeling really good, and much better! I woke up at 5:30am, aka 2:30am CA time. I ate my Luna bar, got ready, and then it was time to begin the layering and head to the metro.

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I really think the amount of marshmallowing speaks to how much I am a CA girl. But I did feel properly dressed. My outfit consisted of long pants (only one layer though—legs were definitely going numb at the start), fleece-ish lined shirt (well, minus one sleeve because the shirt is faulty…it’s weird), leg warmers on my arms, a sweatshirt, and then my north face. Plus gloves, ear warmers, and hand warmers.

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And then we were there, freezing our butts off, with 10k people just as crazy as I was! Despite the temperatures, it was a beautiful morning. I anxiously awaiting the start, excited to get moving!

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Sadly, the cherry blossoms peaked a week early this year, so there weren’t many on the course. Here’s a lone one!

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At the start, I handed off my north face to my parents and got ready to go! It was weird because there was no flag indicating the start/finish line, so I didn’t know how close I was to the start!

And then we were off! I had a blast, I quickly stripped my arm warmers (which was interesting: they were under my sweatshirt so I did this really cute thing were I ran with my iPod in my teeth and yanked with all my might). It was surreal to be running here, in this place. Where I spent so many hours running. A place filled with history. I had the biggest smile on my face the whole time.

I was expecting crazy winds crossing the bridge into Arlington, but it wasn’t too bad. Plus, the sun was coming out and it was warming up! I tossed my sweatshirt (bought from the thrift store for this race) coming back across the bridge.

During the race, I felt really good. I’ve definitely gotten faster. I was determined not to push the pace, to stay comfortable and enjoy the scenery, but I still wore my watch to make sure I didn’t do anything stupid like come out at an 8:00 pace (which it turns out would not have been possible; it was super crowded). As I was running, it struck me how much faster and fitter I am now than a couple of summers ago when I was running these same roads. And I thought I was in good shape then! I feel like I’ve come really far since then.

I ran about a 9:30 pace the whole race (my old long run pace was 10:00), but unfortunately lost 7-8 minutes during a porta potty stop due to a huge line. Overall, there were not enough of them, but to add to that, about half of them had tipped over in the wind! Crazy!

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(Cherry Blossoms as seen from the car later in the day).

This race flew by. Seriously, 10 miles has never passed so quickly! I ran past the Washington Monument to the finish line with the biggest smile on my face. I love it here!

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After meeting up with my parents, we went back to the hotel to clean up before heading out to brunch! Being the exciting person I am, I chose the Georgetown Le Pain Quotidien. I get really nervous with my stomach when traveling, and I knew it was a same, solid, and delicious option. Being the even more exciting person I am, I got the same thing. Well, sort of. I got the ginger drink about because #30degrees, and then split the chicken and mozzarella and avocado toast with my mom.

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After eating, we walked around a bit, headed for the main event.

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CUPCAKES. Seriously, you can’t come to DC without getting some. My cupcake of choice was Baked and Wired, where I got the gluten free option. It was a chocolate cake with cherries folded into the icing, and subtle cherry frosting. In honor of cherry blossoms!

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We walked along the waterfront before heading out, then drove the sights a bit.

We were at the airport with plenty of time, and after the longest day ever, I made it home! In SFO on the way out to DC, I got an amazing GF snickerdoodle. We passed the same place on the way back in, and it was open, so of course I had to snag a chocolate chip GF cookie. SO amazing.

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Check out that thick, gooey cookie! And the sea salt. Ahh. I looked it up and it turns out the little market only exists in the SFO airport.

I was surprisingly doing pretty well energy-wise until I made it back to my dorm and totally crashed. Longest day ever, but what an amazing weekend.

Coming Home

I am currently sitting in an apartment in New York City! It’s my first time here, and I’m visiting my college BFF.

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I just got in tonight and my friend has doe work to do, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to catch up! I came to New York from a daily trip in DC. We had a family reunion trip for my grandma’s 80th birthday, and of course I suggested DC. I got to play the guide for the weekend and shepherd the group through the metro. Also-I had $20 on my metro card from last summer and I actually remembered to bring it! Score!

Last summer, I fell in love with DC. When my plane landed at DCA, I felt like I was coming home. I can’t explain the feeling, but I feel like I left my heart here and this is where I belong. I’ve never felt such a strong pull to a place. Last summer was the best summer of my life, and I knew I’d be back.

The first thing I did on Friday morning was take a short jog. We stayed in Pentagon City, so I only saw the Washington Monument from a distance.

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The first stop of the trip was the zoo-my grandmother and grandfather went on their first date there, so our family sort of originated from that!

How’s this for a little transformation Tuesday? Last summer there were baby pandas, and I believe this is the same panda, now 1 year old.

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After the zoo, we stopped at a restaurant on the way to the metro where I got a delicious beet salad with goat cheese, avocado, and chicken. I’m trying very hard to make myself enjoy beets, and I think this salad helped bridge the gap!

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Next up was the American history museum, which was one I didn’t spend much time at last summer.

And finally, we went on a moonlight tour of the monuments.

(Free champagne in the lobby with my cousin!)

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The monuments at night are beautiful, and I loved getting the history and background of various spots.

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The rest of the night was spent catching up with family, including my long lost sister who I don’t see enough!

Saturday morning was another early day-we started with the botanical gardens before it got too hot.

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Followed by the Air and Space museum. That might be my favorite Smithsonian. I didn’t really explore Space last summer because I got too burned out on Air (I had my long training run that morning+the Natural history museum on that day), so it was cool to see that stuff! I really like all the space stuff. In middle school I actually thought I might want to do aerospace stuff as my career (that didn’t last though-I am no engineer).

In the afternoon, we went to high tea at the Ritz.

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Apparently high tea is a big thing in DC!

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They treated us very well, and brought all kinds of extra food. I’m avoiding wheat right now (which is insanely complicated and probably deserves its own rant) so I ate the innards of the sandwiches, plus a few bites of the current scone (which was fantastic). The sandwiches were egg salad, lobster, and cucumber with herbed cream cheese. A lot of the desserts had nuts, so they brought out a special plate for me that was nut free, including lemon creme brûlée!

We had a nice dinner planned late that evening, but the rest of the afternoon was dedicated to an important task. There were 2 things I wanted to do on this trip. Run the monuments, and get cupcakes. I consider myself a DC cupcake expert. For our poison of choice, I chose Baked and Wired. I’m not about that line at Georgetown Cupcakes, and Baked and Wired is spunky and unique. We took the Metro to Foggy Bottom (my favorite area of DC) and then walked to Georgetown so I got to show my family my old stomping grounds!

One of the necessary qualifications of a cupcake shop in my book is having dietary restriction friendly fare, and Baked and Wired has several gluten free options (as well as vegan options). I went with a gluten free chocolate strawberry, which was chocolate cake with strawberries in the batter, topped with vanilla buttercream.

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For dinner, we got all fancied up and went to a French American place near L’Enfant, Central.

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If you go there, ORDER THE CHEESEPUFFS. Amazing. I only had a few bites, but amazing. I shared a delicious goat cheese caesar salad with my dad for dinner and had the rotisserie chicken, which was perfectly cooked. I also pretended to be classy and had a glass of Rosé.

Sunday morning began with my other goal for the trip, a monument run. I had originally planned to run from Arlington metro stop across the bridge to the monuments, but the blue line metro was about a 20 minute wait, so we instead got off at L’Enfant and made our way to the National Mall, past the Washington Monument and Lincoln, and over the bridge to Arlington Cemetery and back. It was a fun run-I managed to drag 4 other family members with me, which is a definite first! It was getting bit warm though at 10am!

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Our last stop of the trip was the Native American History Museum. The cafeteria there was Native American food, and it was delicious!

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Blue corn creed, cedar plant salmon with beet puree, and root salad with heirloom carrots.

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Quinoa plantain cake with a dulce de leche center.

Then, it was off to NY!

This DC trip was awesome, and it made me even more sure that I want to spend my gap year here. This weekend, my fears of graduating and only having one year left of college melted away because I know there’s something amazing to look forward to after college. (That being said, should I do a life plans update post at some point??)

What city do you call home?

Last Day in DC

Well, this is it folks. I’m (Mostly) packed and ready to go. Assuming my suitcases close (which is still TBD-very much TBD).

When I get back, I’ll probably do a full reflection of my time in DC, but for now I’m just going to have a normal style blog post and recap some food and fitness from the last few days.

Fitness:

Monday-Crossfit. We did one rep maxes for squats. I chose front squat and didn’t PR, but I matched my heaviest weight. Once I get back in my lifting shoes I’ll definitely be able to do more!

The WOD was tough:

8 min AMRAP
15 Wall balls (20-30#/16-20#)
5 Hand release pushups
15 KB/DB swings (32Kg, 24Kg)
5/side Renegade rows (alternate sides)

I used a 20 lb wall ball, and the thing about heavier wall balls is they come down on your face a lot harder/faster. Oof. I believe I had 3 rounds plus 6 wall balls?

Tuesday: 3 mile run+Crossfit

I ran in the morning and happened to run into some run club friends. Which always seems to happen on my runs! It was very uneventful. I think I had a decent pace. I ran a new route and the whole thing was brick sidewalks which stunk though.

Crossfit was my last class! Wahh. We did some split jerk work where we practiced the footwork without actually bringing the bar overhead. Then we did heavy thrusters. I don’t think I’ve done heavy thrusters, just thrusters in the conditioning portion. I think I was doing 85#? My shoulders sometimes get cranky in overhead work.

Conditioning involved outdoor running.

Wednesday: LAST November Project-PR Day!

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I haven’t been to NP since moving to a different part of DC because it’s a bit far to run, and I have to get to work early. Today though, I decided to go. I took a bus to get as close to Lincoln as I could and then ran the remaining mile.

PR day consists of running the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial 17 times.

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(Note that this doesn’t show all the stairs).

Soo basically you run the stairs…and then just keep going for like 40-45 minutes. I think someone once said it ends up being around 3 miles? Of straight stairs. That’s a lot of stairs. I had never done all 17 sets before since I always had to leave for work, but I did them all today and now my legs are done.

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NP may have been my favorite workout here, so it was a fitting way to end my time here. This is also probably the fittest group of people in the city. There were a ton of rowers out today too! I’m a pretty fit person; a can run a sub-10 minute pace for 13.1 miles on an extremely hilly course. And I was one of the last ones to finish. I mean, MAN. Everyone is super welcoming though-so if you’re thinking of going to a NP definitely don’t be intimidated!

Foodwise, I have a couple of things from the past couple of days.

Pita sandwich at work-filled with tons of veggies and hummus.

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One last visit to the Avocado Cafe-if you’re ever in Georgetown, go here! They are super nice here too. I had a wrap with chicken, grilled veggies, and avocado.

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Dinner last night was courtesy of my gym. Crazy-right? They have Paleo meals. I got chicken with pineapple salsa, grilled avocado, and curry cauliflower. The cauliflower was a bit disappointing but the avocado-ohhh man.

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And for my last DC dessert, I decided to try to eat myself into a comma. Or something. This was massive-a brownie sundae.

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I made it maybe halfway before throwing in the towel?

Oh, before I sign off, one thing I am NOT going to miss is the mosquitos. They looooove me. And I get allergic reactions to them that none of the usual tricks help. I don’t even recognize my legs. It’s disgusting.

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten this week?

Baseball and Taper Fun

Guys. This is probably my last post from DC. So, so crazy. I’m going home tomorrow. I cannot wait to see my cats. That’s really the biggest thing about home I miss!

I’m sorry for the sporadic posting-I’m trying to pack my entire life from the last 10 weeks into 2 suitcases. I’ll let you know how that works out when I’m 3000 miles back home.

I want to talk a bit about my last weekend in DC.

Saturday, I went to the Newseum. If you ever come to DC, you need to come here. Best museum hands down. I chose this over the American History for my last museum trip and it was 100% worth it. It showcases the history of news and various news/history related things. One exhibit was Pictures of the Year, with a whole bunch of amazing photographs and descriptions.

There was also a really moving 9/11 exhibit. It inspired me to go to the Pentagon Memorial after work the other day. It’s so crazy to me that I commute through the Pentagon metro, so I’m right there.

Here’s a view from the outdoor balcony at the Newseum. It’s a great view of the city, and the gloomy wet day was perfect for museum visiting.

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For my pre-run dinner that night (my run was the next morning), I stopped at what seemed to be sort of like an Indian Chipotle? Not super authentic but good!
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Then, Sunday was my long run. Guys, taper rocks. I feel like one really important aspect of  taper is the mental recovery. I tend to burn out a bit, and with tapering, I’m more than ready to run again come race day. That run flew by in a flash-I swear I was done before I knew it! Not a bad pace either!

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I made the mistake of not wearing my compression socks until that night, and my calves have been sore and tight since. I swear those socks are magic!

The reason for no socks? I went to the Nationals/Giants baseball game! I’m a huge Giant’s fan, and I’ve been loping forward to this all summer. I mean, come on, my favorite race is the Giant’s half!

Here are some shots of the ballpark.

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I managed to snag some really good seats for a decent price. I’m pretty sure San Francisco tickets are WAY more expensive. I was right along the left field foul line, and I was able to walk right up to the edge of the field to watch some of my favorite players warm up.

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As for lunch, my grandma who grew up in Maryland told me I HAD to try some Maryland crab before I left, so this seemed like as good of a time as any! I had a crab cake sandwich and it was SO good. So, so good.

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The weather was also really nice. Because it rained the day before, it wasn’t too humid or hot (at least by DC standards). It was a fun game-until the last couple of innings. Ouch.

That evening, I said goodbye to my DC friend with an Ethiopian dinner. It was insanely messy, but delicious!
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I had Chicken Doro Wot, and the chicken came with bones. And everything is eaten with your hands and the spongy flatbread. The last time I had Ethiopian, I used about 20 napkins so I was a bit nervous when I saw this place had fancy cloth napkins!

The last few days have included a ton of goodbyes. I said goodbye to my Crossfit friends today as well, plus a run club buddy I happened to run into on my run this morning. I’m more determined than ever to make my way back here!

And now, more packing awaits!

 

Sights On a Long Run

Happy Sunday! I guess I still have some energy to blog! Today was my longest run of half marathon training, so I’m OFFICIALLY in taper mode! Yay!

Breakfast was plain greek yogurt+sunbutter+banana mashed with cocoa powder.

As for fueling on the run, I spiked my water bottle with coconut water. Worst. Decision. Ever. First worst decision though was buying plain coconut water instead of pineapple. I actually like pineapple-can’t stand plain. I thought plain would blend better with my water (that I wouldn’t taste it as much) but boy was I wrong. I think I gagged every time I took a drink. Blech.

I actually brought my phone (in case I passed out or died midway-never know!) so I got some pictures of today’s scenic route.

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I also made myself choke down some water every mile or so. It was hot and humid today so that was a priority.

At the halfway point, I ate my Cliff chocolate goo. I think this is the only brand and flavor I could ever race with. Every other type I’ve tried (even other Cliff flavors) give me coughing fits. Which is fine on a training run (well, fine-ish), attempting to choke it down without losing a lung would be difficult. I think it is because this flavor is a bit thicker and less sickly sweet. I really wanted salted caramel for this run (because electrolytes) but I didn’t make it to the store on time.

I didn’t have any expectations on this run, other than to try and finish. From the very start, my legs fell into a faster pace. My calves felt tighter running slower so that was that.

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Even though I got a new audiobook last night, I ran to music because I wanted to start with something to pump me up a bit. I didn’t plan to have music the whole way, but it was working for me. Plus, my route was pretty interesting and varied. From Georgetown to the river, past Jefferson, over the river to the Mt. Vernon trail, past the airport, back, and then from Lincoln through the National Mall.

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I hit Lincoln around mile 10, and it was SO awesome because those were the first working drinking fountains on my run. I only had a bit of water left, and it was the nasty coconut mix so having fresh water was heaven.

Also-funny story. At mile 11, I totally wiped out in from of the Washington Monument. Luckily the ground was smooth stone so I kind of just slid, with just a bit of a scrape and bruise on my knee. Another reason to run in pants!

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I finished perfectly at my lunch location of choice.

And out of nowhere, I had just completed my best ever 12 mile training run.

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I never really felt like death, and my legs just locked into a rhythm. Hopefully this bodes well for PRing my race! I finished feeling good. And hungry. Definitely an improvement from last week when I just felt kind of gross.

I finished at The Protein Bar, and got a chocolate protein shake and a BBQ chicken “bar-rito” with avocado.

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It has quinoa, not rice! So delicious. I’m getting hungry again just thinking about it. Or maybe that’s because I ran 12 miles? I honestly think the 11 mile run the week prior in my training plan is one of the worst-or at least it typically has been in my training! I get locked in a bit more by the time I hit the 12 miler. Also-totally random but on the way back I ran into a friend from school on the street who lives in DC!

On my way back, I decided to check one item off my DC dessert bucket list. Chocolate cream cheese muffin from a nearby coffee shop. It was kind of like marble creed/cream cheese. My weakness. So good. I actually had a chocolate muffin the night before the big run, and I think the carb loading helped.

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After cleaning myself up a lot, I met up with a friend for frozen yogurt. I wasn’t exactly feeling it after the muffin, so I just got tart with fruit.

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We walked around the National Mall and Capital Building a bit, and then found the Supreme Court!

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Take note of the compression socks. Those things are seriously magic.

On my way home, I stopped for a salad-the same one as the other day. It was delicious-feta, watermelon, chicken, etc.

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Aaand now I know I’m going to sleep well tonight. I felt so much better all day today than after my last long run! But I am certainly going to sleep well tonight…

What is your worst run of training?