Thursday, June 27, 2013

Change is Good!

 As runners, we are special breed.  Plenty of us get locked into a running routine and rarely change.  There's nothing wrong with that; that's fine because just getting out of the door can bestow a sense of accomplishment and boost your mood.  However deviating from your standard routine can make you faster/stronger and stoke your motivation.  When you first start to change things up; it's best to try one tweak at a time so you can see what works and what doesn't work before moving on.  Here are five tips:

When you run easy...Do four to eight 30-second cadence drills over the course of your run.  Count the number of times your right foot hits the ground; aim to increase that number.  Take low, quick steps.  These drills will increase your turnover, so you run more efficiently.

When you run hills...Try to sing a song (quietly).  Climbing should never get so hard that you're huffing and puffing and can't talk (or sing!)

When you run fast...Bring a friend.  A buddy will boost your motivation and morale and help you push when it would be more comfortable to quit.  Never quit and friends don't let friends quit when the tough get going!  Don't compete with each other, but don't let your pal off the hook either.  Encourage each other to complete the goals.

When you run long...Take more frequent walk breaks.  If you currently do a ratio of one minute running and one minute walking, reduce it to 45 seconds of running, one minute walking.  Use the Jeff Galloway method of running.  Don't know who/what this check, you can find out here:
It will help you run farther, minimize soreness and hasten your recovery.

 When you race...Make your first mile the slowest mile.  (I have a hard time with this because the first is always my fastest  mile!)  Gradually increase the pace, but every five minutes or so, slow your speed for one minute so you stay strong to the finish.  FINISH STRONG!

Changing is hard but with these tips, change should be easier and help you to become a better, stronger, faster runner!  Do you have any tips that worked for you to change your routines or running techniques? 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Baltimore Women's Classic 5K

Yesterday, I ran the Baltimore Women's Classic 5K.  A year ago, it was my first formal 5K ever as I had just started to run three weeks earlier.  Why did I start running? I went to Disney in February for their first all-nighter at the Magic Kingdom and while I was waiting in line, I started to talk to some women in front of me.  Who hasn't done that at Disney? They had just finished the Disney Princess Half Marathon two days earlier and it sounded like they had so much fun and I thought I could do that next year (2013).  So I came home, found a local running group which started a training in April for 5Ks and started running.

The Baltimore Women’s Classic has a long and storied history dating back to 1976. Since then, thousands of women have participated in Baltimore’s premiere all-women’s race, both young and old, runners and walkers, the competitive and those out for a fun morning with friends. All race proceeds support women's causes. The race is intended to celebrate life, fitness and the power that lies inside each woman to take control of her health. 

My husband joined me as we drove to downtown Baltimore at 6:30 am yesterday.  We only live about twenty minutes away so the commuting wasn't long for this race.  The Baltimore Inner Harbor is only about twenty-years old in its current state.  The City of Baltimore hoped to make this area a busy tourist destination with the upgrades and it is absolutely beautiful as you can see from the pictures. 
 (Behind me is Federal Hill from which you can see the entire Inner Harbor and Fort McHenry.)

I had a good race; not my best time 37:33 (last year I had a time of 35:01) but I woke up with a bad headache and was not feeling great at race time.  The day was overcast and about thirty minutes after I finished the race it started to pour.  Luckily at that point, my husband and I were already on our way home.  I missed him at the finish line so I didn't get a picture of me crossing the line however we did take some pictures afterwards. 

The Baltimore Women's Classic 5K is one of my favorite races to run.  Why?  Here are five reasons why it is my favorite race:

1.  The cost is relatively low compared to most other 5Ks in the area.  I signed up for this in December 2012 and I only paid $25.00 for the race.  This includes a shirt/bag/swag goodies at package pick-up.  Also, one of the local running stores:  Charm City Run ( holds a training group prior to the 5K and once again, the cost is only $25.00 for six/eight weeks of training.

2.  All of the money is donated to women's causes.  The race also promotes women being healthy and supportive of each other.  It is a women's only race and I tend to like these better for the support and not as competitive atmosphere.

3.  The package pickup is absolutely wonderful; always organized and friendly while the swag is above and beyond for most 5Ks.  This year, there was a bag, t-shirt along with other goodies. I especially like the shirt colors this year.  Last year the shirt was a lime green color and I thought that is was a really nice shirt (still is) however I'm loving the colors of the shirt this year.  It just keeps getting better.  The other item which was nice was the bag had all the sponsors listed on it (not the shirt) which I thought was a wonderful idea. 
4.  The finish line.  The race finishes along the promenade at the Inner Harbor which is lovely for that last quarter mile.  Upon finished, you are greeted with a cold wet towel and a long stemmed rose.  There is also cold watermelon (which I have never seen at other races), oranges, bananas, water and bagels/muffins.  I love all that you have once you finish the race along with the race village which is set outside on Rash Field.  The race village is never very big; approximately twenty different vendors which makes it doable after the race.

5.  The medal.  This year, for the first time ever, all finishers were given a medal.  In most 5K, you don't receive a medal so this was an added bonus in my book. It is absolutely beautiful in person!
I will run this race every year as it is one of my favorite races.  Do you have a favorite race to run and why?  Please let me know as I always love to hear about new races.  Also, please visit me at Gracious Warrior Princess on Facebook. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Runners United

Yesterday I wrote a post about how runners understand each other.  June 5th was National Running Day and I have a post of this blog about this and my run in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania!
Yesterday,  I also  picked up the new issue of Runner's World yesterday which was dedicated to Boston.  In this issue, there is an advertisement from Dick's Sporting Goods which I wish to share.

It is a picture of runners and this is what it says:

Those who sought to break our spirt couldn't have picked a more tenacious crowd.  Runner's don't run away from adversity, we run through it.  And through it, we grow stronger.  It's what runners do best.  We persevere.  Before Monday, April 1th, each runner had his or her own unique reason to run.  Renewal, peace,community, inspiration, love, freedome, confidence and pride.  Ever since, defiant to our core and unified in our resolve, we also share one special reason to run....Run for Boston.

Here is also a link to a video about runners.

There is an entire series about the runners in these videos.  Was it a coincidence that I saw this after writing a post about runners understanding each other yesterday?  I'm not sure but thought it would be a great post for today. 

We already know that as runners we share a special connection  as Disney puts it " in that great circle of life".  What are your thoughts?  Are we more Boston strong in addition to our own reasons from running?  I know that I am!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Understanding Runners

Do runners understand each other?  You bet! 

Do you smile?

When you’re out there on the footpaths, do you smile? When your feet fall into the rhythm, one after another, do you smile? When the person running towards you has a grimace of pain and determination on their face, do you smile? When the person running towards you nods their head in your direction, do you smile?

The runners smile. The nod. The acknowledgement. A shared understanding of so many things. A shared moment.   And every time I see someone running towards me I want to smile. I want to say “how awesome are we right now for being out here and running?!”. I don’t know their story. I don’t know what race they are training for. I don’t know if they’re just running for fun. I don’t know how many years they’ve been running for. I don’t know if they have been out there for 10 minutes or 2 hours. And they don’t know any of these things about me.

But when a fellow runner looks up and smiles it can mean the world. It can mean the difference between me stopping running because “I feel exhausted” and finding the mental strength to keep going despite what my legs are telling me. It can be the difference between me getting down on myself for not running as fast as I want to and feeling on top of the world because I am a runner, we are runners and we’re all out there.

Do you smile? A  lot of my fellow runners smile. Perhaps more than ever before. And maybe that’s why my running feels  so good. Because when you’re out there pounding the pavement alone, it’s nice to know that someone else is out there and for that brief exchange, they’re with you.  I know this because at the Nike Women's Half Marathon in Washington, DC in April I had this experience.
Around mile five, we had to cross a bridge over the Potomac River into Arlington, Virginia.  The women runners (and some men who were part of Team in Training; this was a women's only race) were doing high fives all the way across the bridge.  As we were crossing over, the runners coming back were encouraging us with high fives, words of encouragement and it was such a tremendous feeling to know that you weren't along in your quest to finish!  I wished that I had taken a picture of this because it was one of the most tremendous experiences I've ever had as a runner.  However, I was trying to PR for the race since it was my third half marathon.  My first was part of Team Challenge in Las Vegas in December 2012 and I was hurt and my second was the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February 2013 and I had pneumonia.  (Yes, I was crazy while running and finishing that half!).  So, I really wanted to have a great time since it was my first half marathon being healthy so few pictures.  I did manage to PR but did stop for a picture in front of our Capitol!   
So remember to smile, high five, give a word of encouragement because you'll as a runner you understand!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Shape Diva Dash

Interested in doing more than a 5K but not a 10K or half marathon yet?  As an ambassador for Shape Diva Dash, let me fill you in this fun race!

What is Diva Dash?

Forget barbed wire, fire pits and mud. We’re talking a women’s-only 5k course dotted with fun obstacles sure to challenge your agility, balance, strength and speed. Add in copious amounts of tutus, boas and bling, plus enthusiastic camaraderie, and you’ve got SHAPE Diva Dash.  Join a competitive wave and battle for a top finish and prize*. Or saunter along at your own pace. We’ll time your efforts (if you want), but there’s no pressure to finish fast, so have a great time as you run, walk, jog or slog your way to the finish. Tackle tough obstacles that challenge you or take the easy route. It’s your call. Different degrees of difficulty on some obstacles give you the chance to make the Dash as hard…or easy…as you want.

The Course

The SHAPE Diva Dash course covers about 3 miles of trail, sand, and road. Each course is different. And just to keep things interesting, we throw in some crazy obstacles to test your strength, agility, balance and sense of adventure. Some obstacles will have both tough and easy options so you can choose the level of difficulty that feels right to you. And if you’re just not up for an obstacle, skip it altogether. I promise no one will know but you if don't complete an obstacle.  You should expect 10-12 constructed obstacles, not including obstacles from natural terrain. There are five areas in the course which include:  strength, speed, ropes, maze and balance.

I'm so excited to be a part of this and will be at the Washington, DC race.  Here is a video from one of the participants this year.

The Shape Diva Dash is in Boston, Chicago, Washington, DC New York Metro and  Miami for the rest of 2013.  Check it out at  As an ambassador, I also have a discount code for registration.  If you register for the Shape Diva Dash at any of the locations, use DCANNA for ten dollars ($10.00) off the registration fee.

I am looking forward to this fun, challenging race and I hope to see you at the Washington, DC race!  Please look for me, introduce yourself and let's go have some fun!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Five Things Runners Must Do

Are you a new runner and need to know how to train properly?  Or have you just forgotten some small details which help every runner?  Here are five things runners must do in order to remain healthy.

1.  Sleep enough.  Most people need six to eight hours.  When you increase your mileage, you need more.  Keep a consistent bedtime and wake-up-time-even on the weekends. 

2.  Eat right.  Choose lean protein, produce, and whole grains most of the time.  Almonds, oranges, and low-fat Greek yogurt make great pre-or post-run snacks.
3.  Recover.  This is really important.  Prevent injury and burnout by scheduling one to three days each week to cross-train, work on flexibility, or just rest.  Yoga is a great way and Wi-Fit is another fun way to recover.  I just bought a Wi-Fit and I love everything that I can do with it in order to cross-train and have fun. 
4.  Get strong.  To bring more power to your runs, do body-weight exercises two or three times a week.  You can check out these links: or  I have the ntc app and I use it at least once a week.  You can get several different versions depending on how you wish to get and stay strong.

5.  Enjoy it.  If you hate running alone, join a club.  If you're lost without a goal, sign up for a race.  If you're still not having fun, take a week or two off-absence makes the legs grow fonder.  Always remember that running is fun and if you are not enjoying it, you won't run!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


 If you are looking to build your speed, strength and endurance, try adding hillwork.  With a bit of practice and the right technique, you can use hills to your advantage and make a strong ascent up even the steepest climbs.  Here's how in four steps.

1. Start off slow.  Run the first two-thirds of the hill relaxed, then slightly accelerate the last part, while carrying your place over the top.  Don't push too hard at the bottom of a hill, otherwise, you may run out of steam when you reach the top.

2.  Focus on form.  When facing a tough ascent, many runners put their head down, which wastes energy by throwing off their form.  Instead, keep your body upright and fix your eyes directly ahead of you, not down at your feet, while holding your head and chest up.

3.  Stay light on your feet.  During the climb, get up on your forefeet and take shorter strides.  Push your legs off and up, rather than into the hill, so it feels like you are springing up the hill.

4.  Loosen up and lean in.  When tackling a tough hill, lean your torso into the hill to help gain momentum and make sure your arms loose at a 90-degree angle at the elbow.  Also, keep hands loose and don't make a fist to help your whole body stay relaxed.

Finally, I remember when I started running a year ago.  I hated hills!!!  There is a hill in my neighborhood and I used to hate when I would reach that hill in my runs.  I always said, if I can make it to the mailbox; if I can make it to the car, etc.  Finally, one day after about three weeks, I finally made it to the top without stopping.  I started to jump up and down and screaming that I had finally done it!!!  Now, hills don't bother me and I actually look forward to running hills because I know that I can do it!!

How do you handle hills and hillwork?  Any suggestions as I would love to hear them. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

National Running Day at Gettysburg, PA

Yesterday my family and I decided to visit one of our National Parks, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  Since it was National Running Day, I had decided to run throughout the battlefield and remember the brave men who fought on those hallowed grounds. 

Our first stop was the Visitor's Center which is only two years old  and see the movie/cyclorama/schedule a tour.

  I also wanted to ensure that I was allowed to run throughout the park and was assured that many runners run in the morning but anytime is allowed.  The movie is narrated by Morgan Freeman and lasts about twenty minutes.  Then you move upstairs to the cyclorama and another brief movie about the battles.  Here is a picture of the cyclorama:

Next, we had lunch and met our tour guide, John.  He guided us through the battlefield for two hours describing the three days of battles which occurred in Gettysburg. John thought initially I was crazy for wanting to run through the battlefield but I was so impressed by his knowledge and foresight in explaining the details of each day's battles and the men who fought during those three days.  I also waited until after our tour was done and then drove back to where I wanted to start my five mile run because I really wanted to remember and pay tribute to our brave soldiers at Gettysburg. 
After our tour was finished, we drove back to Little Round Top and I started my five mile run to end at Pickett's Charge.  Here I am running up to Little Round Top and the view from the bottom:

I continued my run downhill and ran past Spangler's Spring.  Here was the one place where both Union and Confederate troops met and were friendly towards each other.  Why?  Because it was the one safe drinking water spring and every night the troops got water there for the following day. 
From Spangler's Spring, I continued to the Pennsylvania monument.  This monument is dedicated to the 34,000  PA men who lost their lives on these battlefields. 
My son and husband drove there while I ran and we took several pictures. 

I continued my run past several other monuments to the battlefield for Pickett's charge which is in the background.   

I ended my run at the Maryland monuments to complete five and half miles through our National Park. 

What a wonderful day to celebrate National Running Day and running through the site where so many men lost their lives, I am eternally grateful for their sacrifice and the words of President Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address:  "That the government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."  What did you do for NRD?  Let me know and let me know if you liked this running day. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

National Running Day and NFL Running

Tomorrow is National Running Day!  NFL is doing a run series in select cities.  If you register tomorrow, you will receive $5.00 off the registration fee.  The cost is $35.00 however tomorrow it is only $30.00.  I live close to Washington, DC so I'm going to register for the run at FedExField for the Washington Redskins.  Sorry Baltimore Ravens fans but this running girl is a Redskins fan!  Here's the link for the Facebook page:

What are you doing for National Running Day?  I plan on going to Gettysburg, PA with my family and doing some running.  I will have a blog post on Thursday.  Please leave about your National Running Day plans comment either on my blog or Facebook page. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

This Wednesday, June 5, 2013 is National Running Day. What is National Running Day?  National Running Day, held annually on the first Wednesday in June, is a day when runners everywhere declare their passion for running. Wherever we are and whomever we’re with, we run—fast or slow, alone or with others, all over town or just around the block. It is a coast-to-coast celebration of a sport and activity that’s simple, inexpensive, and fun. It’s the perfect way for longtime runners to reaffirm their love of running and for beginners to kick off a lifetime and life-changing commitment.

Here are ten ways to celebrate!

 10 Ways to Celebrate National Running Day 

1.  Declare your passion – People run for millions of reasons, and we want to know yours! Head to and let the nation know why you run, be it raising money for charity, keeping your waistline in check, or getting to that bagel at the 5K finish line.

2.  Bring a "runway" to work – Swap your loafers and heels for sneakers and you'll be dressed to the nines for National Running Day. Your feet will thank you for it, and it will be that much easier to step out for a short jog during lunch or on your way home from work.

3.  Morph your friends into running fiends – Friends don't let friends just walk on National Running Day! Invite a pal or two—the more the merrier—to hit the road with you. They'll be hooked in no time!

4.  Change Happy Hour to Running Hour – Shake things up by adding a run to your post-work plans. Head out at 5:00 p.m. with some co-workers and relax over miles instead of cocktails.

5.  Strike new ground – Seize the day and take the road you've never traveled. Who knows? You might find a new favorite running path to spice up your summer.

6.  Give the gift of running – Donate to organizations that use running to make a difference in people's lives, like Team Challenge CCFA or any other running organization. 

7.  Make running run in the family – They have your eyes, but what about your endurance? Leave the bikes and baseball bats in the garage and run around the neighborhood with the kids. Keep things interesting with a short race to see who is the fastest.

8.  Choose a running resolution – Kick off a new fitness goal on National Running Day. It can be anything, including adding five minutes to your next run, running a new distance, or signing up for a road race.

9.  Take advantage of the great outdoors – Running outside beats spending all your time on the treadmill. Step out the front door and away from the gym to take in a bit of nature during your afternoon run.

10.  Treat yourself like a champion – Set yourself up for success by indulging in your favorite post-run snack, sporting your lucky t-shirt, or helping your feet to a new pair of sneakers.

Finally, have fun and enjoy running!

#RIOTS Week Six and Seven

It's weeks six and seven for the #RIOTS.  I got a week behind as I had a lot of personal things going on these last two weeks. I ha...