Another Month, Another Training Cycle.

Sunday marked day 1 of my RnR USA half marathon training cycle. For the next 15 weeks, I’m dedicating myself to training like an athlete. Minimal late nights, eliminating junk food and alcohol (except special occasions like New Year’s…duh), supplementing my running with strength training and yoga, icing like it’s my second job and basically marrying my foam roller.

As this training cycle gets underway, I’ve been thinking about my goals for this race and I’ve been nervous about sharing them. I’ve seen other bloggers announce their goals and then feel horrible when they fail to accomplish them, but I’ve also seen it go the other way. I’ve chosen to share them because the support I receive through this blog is so important to me and I know I’ll need it throughout the next 4 months. Having people comment/tweet/text me saying I inspire them or telling me they’re proud of me far outweighs the embarrassment I may feel if things don’t go the way I want them to go. So here goes…

Original Goal:

Run the entire way (except water stations) and finish under 3 hours (22 minute PR).

Current Goal:

Finish in 2:45 (12:35 avg pace) which is a comfortable pace for me now, but I haven’t tried to maintain it for longer than 6 miles. (37 minute PR)

Ambitious Goal:

To finish in 2:30 (11:27 avg pace) which is a pace I can currently maintain for 1-2 miles (haven’t tried to maintain it for longer than that yet). (52 minute PR)

I’m comfortable with these goals and believe that with prayer, dedication and hard work, I can accomplish even the most ambitious of the three. I’m looking forward to March 18, 2012 when I can post pictures of my shiny new medal and details of my shiny new PR!



Let’s Recap.

Monday, 11/28/11 – Rest

I didn’t get back from New Orleans last weekend until 1am and didn’t get to bed that night until 4. The lack of sleep plus a 10 page paper deadline meant no running for me. Which was probably best anyway since the cold I brought back with me started to get ugly.

Tuesday, 11/29/11 – 4.48 miles in 58:01 (12:57 avg. pace)

As I was typing this I rediscovered that Garmin gives you your actual time and your actual moving time, which accounts for stop lights and other breaks like that. That makes me feel a tiny bit better about this run, but not much. I was literally exhausted and walked more than I have in months. The weird thing is, my body actually felt pretty good. It was just an off day and that’s totally fine. This is a great lesson though: the amount of sleep you get 2 nights before a run or race is much more important than the sleep you get the night before. If you have a race on Saturday, make sure Wednesday and Thursday you get a full night’s rest.

Wednesday, 11/30/11 – Rest

Thursday, 12/1/11 – 3.62 miles in 52:06 (14:25 avg. pace)

Note to self: I am not a good empty stomach runner. I felt great until mile 2 and then my body literally ran out of gas. I wanted to run but I couldn’t. I was starving and all I could think about was getting back to my car and buying the biggest bagel I could find for breakfast. I called Coach during the walk back to my car so someone would know if I passed out. It was that bad.

Friday, 12/2/11 – Rest

Saturday, 12/3/11 – Hot Chocolate 15k official results: 9.3 miles in 1:54:02 (12:15 avg. pace)

Disorganized race. 1.5 hour late start time. But it ended up being one of my strongest races to date so it was a great experience for me. Read the full recap here.

Sunday, 12/4/11 – 4.01 miles in 48:56 (12:13 avg. pace)

First run of my RnR USA half marathon training cycle! I’m training with Potomac River Running’s Winter Distance Training Program and I’m so excited about it. I have big goals for this race and I know having a group to train with and coaches to supervise me will put me in the best position to achieve them. Today was our first group run and I chose to start with 4 miles because my legs (especially quads) were really tired and sore after the race. I ended up starting a little too fast and struggled a bit on the way back. My main focus for next week is pacing. I have to learn when to push and when to take it easy. I’ve got 15 weeks to get it right!

Totals –

miles this week :: 21.41

miles this month :: 74.74

miles this year :: 285.21

Hot Chocolate 15k Recap.

After suffering through a rough running week, I survived my first 15k and loved (almost) every minute of it! I am SO proud of myself and I feel extremely prepared for my half marathon training cycle to begin this week. If I wasn’t before, I am most definitely a runner now.

On Friday night, I drove down to the National Harbor and checked into my hotel room at Aloft. I love staying at Aloft hotels because the rates are always great and I love the modern look of the hotel and the rooms.

After checking in, I made the cold walk down to the expo. There weren’t many vendors there, but they had lots of warm weather running clothes and necessities like throw-away gloves and sport beans. After grabbing my packet, which included a super cute bib and a nice, but rather cheap, running jacket, I picked up a few more things and got out of there before I spent too much money.

Even though it was freezing, I spent a little time in front of the Christmas Tree listening to a high school choir sing a few carols before grabbing a sandwich at Potbelly.

I woke up at 7am on Saturday morning feeling well rested. I took my time getting ready so I could stay in my warm room as long as possible. Meanwhile, my running partner (who will now be referred to as Coach) showed up to be my personal cheerleader/photographer for the day.

The above picture is what happens when you run 4 days a week but always forget to do laundry. I’m wearing a Hot Chocolate Bondi Band, a C9 by Champion Long-Sleeve Top, a Lululemon Run: Swiftly Long-Sleeve Top, and Lululemon Wunder Under Crops. I thought I’d be easy to spot, but Coach and I noticed at least 50 other women wearing the same C9 by Champion top. Gotta love Target!

The race was supposed to start at 8am so I planned to get to the start line at 7:45. In true Jerrell fashion, I walked out of the hotel at 7:50. I jogged/speed walked to the start only to find that the 5k hadn’t even started yet. There was so much traffic coming into the harbor that everything was backed up. At first I didn’t mind, but when I looked at my watch at 9am and still hadn’t crossed the start line, I started to get annoyed. If it had been a warm day, I probably wouldn’t have cared, but my throwaway gloves weren’t keeping my hands warm at all and after an hour of people using the bathroom in the woods right next to the starting line instead of the porta-potties, the sights and smells became more than I could bear.

I finally crossed the start line around 9:20 and was happy that I made sure to line up near the back of the pack. I wanted to keep my own pace without having to worry about hundreds of people passing me left and right. After I warmed up, I felt really good. I was keeping an 11:30ish pace, which is faster than I like to go during long runs, but I felt good so I went with it. This race would be all about how my body felt. I wanted to run the entire way, but I also wanted to let my body lead. I was doing great until mile 5 when we hit a steep uphill. I could’ve run it, but I knew I would’ve been dead at the top so I walked the worst part of it.

Right at the 10k is when I started to fade. There was another hill and I just felt my body getting really heavy and tired. I ate 2 shot bloks and drank a little water (for the 2nd time during the race) and turned on my music for the first time. It helped get me to the waterfront where the beautiful views distracted me. I was still feeling sluggish at mile 7 and really wanted to walk until I saw Coach. He was running alongside the path taking pictures of me like a maniac.

When he saw that I was tired, he jumped onto the course and ran with me for a few minutes. Just long enough to get me to the biggest hill right before the finish line. I slowed down to walk a bit of it and he sprinted to the top so that he could catch me coming across the finish line. Best running partner ever? I think so.

A few minutes later I crossed the finish line (he got the picture but it’s absolutely awful. being out of breath doesn’t look good on me) and took a stretch/can’t-believe-I-just-did-that break at the top of the hill.

Even with the bit of walking I did, I am beyond proud of my time and effort today. I worked really hard, I never gave up and I enjoyed myself. I also ran faster than I ever do and got a little closer to my goal pace for the RnR USA Half in March. I’ll share more of my reflections on the base building training period I’ve been in over the last 2 months, but I just want to give a little perspective now. In October, I ran a 5k and didn’t even make it through the first mile without walking. In November I ran a 10k and only walked at the water station and last weekend I ran my first 15k with less than 5 minutes of walking. I don’t care how slow I am or how tired my quads are on hills, that is something to be proud of.

Long Run ‘List: Hot Chocolate 15k Edition

I train with and without music so that I never feel like I’m dependent on it. I used to have a strict no-music-during-races rule. I just feel like I’ve worked so hard to get to the race that I want to be present for every minute of it. But I broke that rule last weekend during the Ashburn Farm 10k. I needed the music to distract me from the negative thoughts that were threatening to ruin my race.

Tomorrow I’m running my first 15k and I’m as nervous as I am excited. I struggled last week during the 10k and I’m really nervous that I won’t be able to run the entire way. On the other hand, I’m excited about the possibility of accomplishing that goal and celebrating by refueling with lots of chocolate at the finish line.

As much as I want to finish this race without any music, I’ve decided to create a race specific playlist just in case I feel my confidence wavering at any time. I run with my iPhone so I’ll just stick my headphones in my iFitness belt and hope that I never need them.

1. Olivia Ruiz. La Femme Chocolat :: If my dusty French skills are still legit, this song is about a woman who has eaten too much chocolate. Gotta finish this race so I can sing it from experience!

2. Kanye West & Jay-Z feat. Beyoncé. Lift Off :: For someone who attended the Watch the Throne tour without ever listening to the album, I’ve become abnormally obsessed with it. This is my current favorite running song. The chorus is perfect. How many people do I know who can take running as far as I have? Sadly, not many. And I’m not even done yet.

3. Coldplay. Paradise :: It’s so important for me to listen to songs that have a good beat without being too fast because I have a problem with running faster than I should during long runs. This one helps me pace myself. The video is super cute too.

4. Janet Jackson. Rhythm Nation :: 80s/90s Janet is my favorite Janet. I freely jam this song constantly. I remember having my own dance concerts in my basement to this. I replay all of the moves in my head when I run to it.

5. Katy Perry. Hot N Cold :: For a few dreadful months I worked at Planet Hollywood in Orlando. During the day and in their stores, they play a video loop all day long that includes music videos and movie clips. After a few weeks there, I would hear that loop in my dreams (nightmares?). This song was on it and somehow I never got tired of it. Probably because the video is so funny.

6. Karmin. 6’7″ Cover :: I’m no Lil Wayne fan. I’m actually the opposite of a Lil Wayne fan. But somehow this girl made me love this song. I get SO excited when it comes on during a run. It’s really great for tempo runs.

7. Jessie J. Do It Like a Dude :: Speaking of YouTube sensations. I am obsessed with Jessie J. When this song comes on I’m guaranteed to chick at least one guy. He might be an old man, but he’s still getting chicked. If you aren’t convinced of Jessie J’s talent yet, please watch this and this.

8. Glee Cast. Rumour Has It/Someone Like You :: This right here is the reason I love this show. How amazing did Santana look? She looked like a modern-day Audrey Hepburn. Watch it, download it, sing it, run to it.

9. Gavin DeGraw. Follow Through (Live from SoHo) :: By the time I get to this song, I’m sure I’ll be tired and ready to finish this race. Thankfully, my running partner will be there as my personal cheerleader and I’m gonna make sure he’s near the end when I need him. This song reminds me of him. And that’s a post for another day…

10. Florence + The Machine. Cosmic Love :: I love love love this song! I use it a lot for fartleks. I pace myself according to the pace of the song. It’s a great way to work on my speed while distracting myself from the burning in my lungs. I put this song at the end of my playlist because I know it will help me to speed up at the end.

Here’s hoping the race is as amazing as the Ghirardelli chocolate fondue at the finish line!

Ashburn Farm 10k Recap.

On Thanksgiving I completed my FIRST 10k! Ahhh I can’t even believe it! In case you’re new to the blog, I had one goal for this race: to run the entire way (except the water station). I did it! I walked for exactly 1 minute at the mile 3 water station not because I needed to walk, but because I haven’t quite mastered the art of eating 2 shot bloks/drinking a cup of water while running. One day. But let’s start with Friday night…

*I apologize for the horrible quality of today’s photos. I was too lazy to lug my real camera around.

I picked my race bib up and then headed to my Uncle Greg’s house for family pizza night. Carbo-loading at it’s best! I had exactly 2 slices of pizza topped with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, and green peppers followed by exactly 1 slice of sweet potato pie. Lately I’ve been feeling like I restrict my calories too much before and after workouts so I made sure I was comfortably full before I finished. Luckily my Aunt cut down the sugar in her pie recipe so I didn’t feel guilty.

The race, which is organized by my other Uncle’s church, raises money for a primary school in Uganda. The small race packet included a long-sleeved cotton t-shirt and even though I wish it was a tech t-shirt, I really love it. I’m actually wearing it right now :)

After dinner, I headed home to get my race outfit together. The weather was supposed to be in the 40s and I was terrified that I would freeze so it took a while for me to figure out what to wear. When I was finished I couldn’t even believe how much stuff I needed for a little 6.2 mile race.

Just in case you can’t decipher that mess…

What I Wore: Ashburn Farm 10k

Long sleeve top
$68 –

$17 –

Asics shoes
$70 –

The North Face glove

Hair accessory
$12 –

: Target
$28 –

: Target
$15 –

To make a long story short, the race wasn’t my fastest nor strongest. This race was all about the mental aspect of this sport. When we started, I watched so many people pass me and I got more and more frustrated with each one. I’m not gonna lie…I felt fat and slow. But I put my headphones on and told myself to focus on running my own race. The first half of the race sucked. I couldn’t get my breathing under control, I knew I was in the back of the pack, and these 2 guys kept using me to pace themselves. If I got too close or passed them, they sped up. The fact that I kept an even pace through that is nothing short of a miracle.

At mile 3, I had 2 shot bloks (I ate 3 before the race) and a cup of water and told myself that I would negative split this race (meaning I would complete the second half of the race faster than the first). I got into a comfortable pace and I focused on passing people one by one. And that’s exactly what I did. I passed both of the guys who were so worried about being chicked. I passed a woman who was run/walking after starting the race too fast and after that I hit a downhill and used it to my full advantage.
I’m so proud of myself for not walking, for achieving a negative split and for finishing strong. I needed this race to prepare me for the Hot Chocolate 15k this weekend and the half marathon in March. I needed to know that when I feel like I can’t do it, I can force myself to believe that I can. This race was the definition of believing in the run. That’s 3 end-of-the-year goals completed in a single race!

Did you run a race on Thanksgiving? How did it go?

*p.s. I weighed myself this morning and after the Thanksgiving holiday and a weekend of traveling to a city with never-ending food options, I only gained .4 pounds. If that isn’t a reason to keep running, I don’t know what is.

imagine a world without cancer.

Out of the 130 people who read my blog yesterday, I’m sure that at least half of them have been affected by cancer in some way. In my family alone, 2 out of my 4 grandparents were diagnosed with cancer. One survived. Cancer scares me more than anything else in this world and I will do anything I can to keep others from feeling the pain that cancer caused my family.

Last year, when I decided to become a runner, I signed up for my first half marathon with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training (TNT). Five months later, I finished the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego half marathon with 3,100 other TNT participants and together we raised $9,000,000 for blood cancer treatment and research. Crossing that finish line was one of the greatest (and most painful) moments of my life.

Ever since that day, I’ve been trying to find a way to raise money for lung cancer treatment and research through a race. The thought of crossing a finish line in honor of my grandfather and possibly saving someone else’s is overwhelming. So overwhelming that since the day it became a possibility, I haven’t been able to get it off of my mind. It’s a bit early to announce it here, but I literally can’t hold it in.

God-willing, on November 4, 2012, I will run the ING New York City Marathon as a member of Fred’s Team, a fundraising program that raises money for the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) through various endurance events. (Read about Fred Lebow, the team’s inspiring namesake and co-founder of the New York City Marathon, here) My goal is to raise at least $5,000. I chose Fred’s Team for many reasons, but the main reason is that I can request that the money I raise be directed specifically to lung cancer research at MSKCC.

It may seem weird that I’m planning this a year in advance, but the NYC Marathon is one of the hardest races to get into and I want to be one of the first people on the list when the registration for Fred’s Team opens. (I’ve already pre-registered and will be notified as soon as the official registration opens in the Spring.) I’ll also need an entire year to prepare my body to run 26.2 miles. I’m extremely nervous, but I am beyond excited to run my first marathon in my favorite city. I’ll probably cry tears of sheer joy the entire way. It’s going to be amazing and I already can’t wait. I may have even booked my hotel room a year in advance. Don’t judge me.

Throughout the next year, I’ll be documenting the entire process: registration, fundraising, and training. I promise not to spare any details. I sincerely hope that by doing this I will not only make a difference in the lives of those treated at MSKCC, but that I would encourage my readers to do the same. Whether you’re a beginning runner and you’re looking for a race to get you started, or a seasoned runner looking for a new challenge, running a race for a charity is one of the best decisions you could make for your running, for your life and for your soul. I promise you that.


great expectations.

I had so many plans today.

I planned to wake up early and attend my favorite Zumba class. What I actually did was oversleep and wake up to the sounds of my dog getting sick (yes, that kind of sick) on my gorgeous duvet cover.

I planned to drive into the city and attend the Marine Corps Marathon Expo at the D.C. Armory. What I actually did was look out my window and saw sleet (in October!) and ended up not driving anywhere.

I planned to PR at the 2nd Annual Ghost, Goblins and Ghouls 5k in Leesburg, VA. Instead I chickened out and stayed home for fear that I’d slip on some ice and ruin my training.

I spent the better part of my day eating Pizza Hut (mostly veggie lovers with a a slice of pepperoni thrown in there because I still haven’t fully grasped the concept that meals can be consumed without meat), eating candy that I should have saved for Halloween and cleaning out my closet. I didn’t want the day to be a total waste so I hopped on the treadmill around 6pm. I was determined to run a 5k today.

After warming up for a few minutes on the elliptical, I started running but still felt out of breath. That’s normal for me for the first half mile so I pushed through it. I had set my treadmill to a 5k course that included some monster inclines. I was really pushing it but I felt sluggish, I was sweating like crazy and I was discouraged by my time. Even though my treadmill said I was running a 12:30 pace, my nike+ app kept pausing for no reason and my garmin said I was running super slow. Like 15:00 – 18:00/mile slow. I know treadmills give you a false sense of hope but not a 5 minute difference! The numbers on my garmin were stressing me out so much that even when I felt my body get adjusted to the run, I couldn’t get my head in it. My feet started to hurt halfway through (breaking in new shoes) and pretty soon I crashed into a big wall. Right after a particularly dreadful incline, my body decided it had had enough. I tried slowing down but I really had nothing left at that point so I stopped at 2.5 miles.

I was really discouraged that I didn’t finish the run, but I realized that bad runs will happen. I felt better when I looked at my nike+ app and saw this…

12:26/mile. Exactly where I wanted to be. So who do I trust? I’m thinking from now on I’ll go with my Garmin outside and my Nike+ app inside. Because obviously my Garmin foot pod hates me.

All-in-all, I’m glad today was kind of a fail. Setting expectations keeps me in check. When I meet them, I feel accomplished. When I surpass them, I feel so proud and eager to find out how much further I can go. When I don’t meet them, I feel determined and focused. I want to find out what went wrong and how I can change it. And I will. I reworked my training schedule a little and now I’ve got another 5-miler planned for tomorrow. Come hell, high water or snow, I will finish it.


For those of you who are dyingggg to know my current training plan, I’ve decided to grant your wish. And by “those of you” I mean my 3 loyal readers lol. Anyway…I have 3 races coming up in the next month and a half so my training is specifically geared toward making it through those:


{click on the calendars to enlarge them}

JRG’s Training Calendar Key:

Easy: 13:00ish/mile pace. This is a slooow pace but it allows me to keep going without walking so I stick with it as much as possible.

BGR! Standing Run: Black Girls Run! group run at the National Mall in downtown DC. This weekend will be my first one and I’m so excited!! Check out their blog and find the Facebook group for your area. I’ve only scheduled the one for this weekend because I want to see how much of a hassle it is to get downtown that early in the morning (8am). If all goes well, I’ll make this my official weekend routine for the next few weeks.

TIU Strength Workout: Tone It Up! is my new fitness obsession. The TIU trainers, Katrina and Karena, post a new workout video every Tuesday and their strength circuits are ah.may.zing. They’re difficult but definitely worth it.

NTC Strength Workout: Nike Training Club is a great iPhone fitness app geared towards women. You can choose what kind of workout you want (Get Lean, Get Toned, Get Strong, or Get Focused) and then the app provides you with videos demonstrating the specific moves and the amount of time you should be doing them. You can also set your own playlist.

*Since I’m a beginner when it comes to strength training, my goal is to start with 2 strength sessions per week. I’ll alternate between TIU and NTC to mix it up.

Zumba: Cross-training (XT) is so important to me because I am deathly afraid of getting injured. I tried a few cardio machines last week (elliptical and arc trainer) and I definitely got a good workout in but I was bored to tears. I think Zumba is going to be my XT of choice for now. My gym has the BEST instructor ever and I know that the dance moves are helping me to condition my entire body. I’m scheduling it twice a week, but if I can ever squeeze an extra class in I will definitely do it.

Yoga/Stretching: I love love love yoga. Last winter I developed a slight obsession with Bikram (hot) yoga but my dad talked to the doctor and came home proclaiming that anyone who does Bikram will end up with kidney failure so…that’s out. This week, I’m going to try to find a studio that I like but for now I’ll stick to the yoga classes at my gym and the plethora of yoga DVDs that I already own. I’m also committed to foam rolling and rolling my muscles out with the stick every night before bed. It’s all about injury prevention people!

The last thing I’ll be doing that isn’t on the calendar is the thing I fear the most: ICE BATHS. My plan is to ice the usual suspects once a day (knees, shins, achilles tendon, etc.) and then after each long run, I’ll take a 15 minute ice bath. I’ve never done it before but I know it’ll make a huge difference in my recovery. My legs are getting cold just thinking about it.


So that’s my schedule from now until December 3rd when I’ll run the Hot Chocolate 15k at the National Harbor in Maryland. The next morning, I’ll begin my half marathon training with =PR= Training’s Winter Distance Training Program in Reston, VA which I’ll write more about later.

I’m headed to get a quick yoga session in before a full night of babysitting! Happy Friday :)


I miraculously made it through another loooong week of law school. That week included 1 awkward game of legal family feud and 1 horrific midterm. Sometimes I really wonder what drug I was on when I signed up for this. In more pleasant news…I ran 3.1 miles without walking for the first time EVER on Sunday! Then I did it again on Tuesday and again today! Whaaaat? I don’t even know who I am anymore. A runner or something?

Here are the stats to prove it:

(I walked during mile 4 but it was mostly from fear that my lungs would explode after running a 5k for the first time ever. They didn’t.)



I can’t believe I just posted those painfully slow splits. Let’s pretend like those 3’s are 0’s. Just kidding. I don’t mind running slow as long as I’m not walking. The speed will come eventually, but endurance is my top priority right now. I’m hoping that by the end of the year I’ll be able to run 12 minute miles easily, but that’s the least of my worries right now.

Right now, I’m focused on my running base. I have another 5k coming up October 29th followed by a Thanksgiving 10k and the Hot Chocolate 15k December 3rd. My goal for each of those races is just to finish without walking and to have as much fun as possible. December 4th will be the official start of my RnR USA Half Training Schedule. Oh boy.



Just 4 short months ago, I completed my first half-marathon, the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Half Marathon with Team in Training. Crossing that finish line in 3:22:50 was one of the proudest moments of my life. What I’m even more proud of is that I’m still running and plan to keep doing so for years to come. That’s why I’ve chosen to make RnR San Diego a yearly tradition.

I stayed up until 12am PST, so 3 am my time, to be one of the first 500 runners registered so that I could save a measly $25. Every dollar counts people! I even booked my hotel room already. I am so excited to see the difference a year makes in my running. I can already run 3 miles without walking, which was definitely not an option in June, so I’m hoping by then that I can make it through the slightly hilly course without walking as well.

You know you’re a runner when you will yourself to stay awake into the middle of the night to register for a race 8 months away. SO excited!!