Wedding weekend! (We took the running tour to Reidsville, NC!)

Pardon my brief absence, this weekend, one of my nearest and dearest friends, Alexa Wilde (formerly Terry) got married.  SO I took the tour to the bustling metropolis of Reidsville, NC.  Reidsville is a cool little town, kinda close to Greensboro, and the Terry home is beautiful.  Additionally, Charles and Tish, the parents of the bride, have acted like something of my parents away from home – if I showed up to their home in the middle of the night, they would take me in, feed me, and refuse to allow me to leave until I was back on my feet.

Alexa and I have been friends since Elon University, when we both were members of this sweet a cappella group.  And before you act like a hot dog wiener and make fun of us for being all Pitch Perfect, we were so amazing, so don’t be a hater.  So anyhoo, Alexa got murried.  And I’d be lying like a snake if I told you I didn’t ramp up my workouts and healthy eating the week or two before.  The thought of appearing in wedding photos that will be in a person’s memory forever is terrifying to me.  I don’t want to be the one screw-up in a picture that the bride like is still making fun of   25 years later, when she’s explaining to her kids who the sweaty buffalo was.  So I threw in a few extra cycling classes and made sure I didn’t eat anything that might make me all puffy in the photos.

So being the naturally anxious person I was, I did the best thing I knew to do to make sure I wouldn’t drive anyone nuts with my anxious pacing, the morning of the wedding.  I packed my running clothes, and a pair of sneaks, and hit the (super country) road.  I decided to actually run to the barn where Alexa was getting married to check a few things out.

Field

I cruised up to the field first, where you can see that the sky was lookin a little weird, and a few chairs were set up.  (Spoiler alert! The rain held off for us to get our girl married!)

Barn

And then I headed over to the barn. From the outside, it looked like a barn. But it was magic.  Deer antlers.  Old artwork.  Furniture.  A bluegrass band.  I ran around a few times, then headed back to the house, where we did all of the girly fun wedding prep stuff.  I truly feel like scheduling a workout before you put on fancy clothes is the best way to make sure you feel awesome in your clothes.  I don’t care if you’re 500 pounds, running before you put on a fancy dress makes you feel like Tyra in the photos.

Alexa

So me, my date, and the bride. We had a blast.  We didn’t stop dancing.  And we sent our girl off in style.  I’m so happy for our friend, and even happier that I was able to squeeze a run in in such a beautiful little town.

As a side note, disasters don’t just happen for the bride the day of a wedding.  Examples?

    • I didn’t pack any underwear except the ones I was wearing. None.  I had one pair for the entire weekend.
    • I forgot the appropriate undergarments for my dress and had to borrow some from the brides amazing mother.
    • The orange cat I’m cat-sitting ate ALL of the food I put out for him in the first 5 minutes of me being gone, I’m assuming because he vomited on my bed.  Or someone else’s cat broke into my apartment simply in order to vomit on my bed.  Either way.  There’s cat vomit on my bed.  I’m totally not going to include a photo of that here.  Some things have to remain sacred, ya know?

So congratulations Alexa and Colt Wilde!  Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your special day.  And welcome home, Cherisse, time to wash the sheets!

We Run DC! The Nike Women’s Half Marathon in Review.

I’ve been living in my car (my new car!) for like the past week.  Not like literally, I still have a beautiful little apartment downtown, but I’ve been riding around like a nutjob for days and days.  To the point where I actually thought listening to Rush Limbaugh might be an interesting change of pace.  UGH WRONG GURL.  First I headed home.  Then to Winston to take care of some bidness.  And finally, I made the 4-hour trek to Washington, DC, and began my weekend.  We did a bunch of un-Nike-related things, some of which included eating my weight in delicious food, losing house-keys in a cab, and participating in a super cool Lupus Walk on Saturday morning.

This is one of my best friends, Scott. I stayed with him, and he showed me around beautiful DC.  I'm lucky to have a friend like him.
This is one of my best friends, Scott. I stayed with him, and he showed me around beautiful DC. I’m lucky to have a friend like him.

As a side note, I’m completely, madly, deeply in love with Washington, DC.  I live in Raleigh.  I’ve had a rough relationship with Raleigh.  Story time!  I moved here for a guy (and for graduate school).  The relationship ended disastrously, and here I was, sort of stuck in a city where I knew no one.  So my solution was to take a job in Pennsylvania, attempt to transfer to Pitt to finish my graduate studies, and move on with my life.   But my mom, whom I typically don’t listen to (do us kids ever listen?), encouraged me to stick it out.  “You can’t run away from your problems.  Everywhere I go, there I am.  Do you know what that means?”  Ugh.  She was right.  So I came back.  Made a few more friends, and began to find my place here.  I still have days where I’m not sure about the city, where I’m not sure if I fit it in.  The loudness of New York never left me.  I teach Zumba.  I speak like Hilary Banks, but I wear my locs long and natural.  I think I confuse people. So I’m just not sure.  So you can imagine my heartbeat going a-flutter when I came to a city where the black girls look like me.  Wear bright colors and long Senegalese twists.  They ride bikes.  They love dogs.  Everyone runs.  I love it!

This is the brunch spot we hit after the Lupus Walk.  The food was incredible.  I fear, if I ever moved to DC, I'd become 500 pounds.
This is the brunch spot we hit after the Lupus Walk. The food was incredible. I fear, if I ever moved to DC, I’d become 500 pounds.

So Saturday afternoon, we metroed and hoofed over to Georgetown, where packet pickup was held.  The line?  Let’s not talk about it.  But it moved quickly and pretty smoothly. The expo, held in a tent in Georgetown, could have been super cool, but it was hot, and I don’t do well in small, hot, ill-ventilated tents with everyones breath just like, combining in the same space.  I find that absolutely foul, and I think it could have been done better, and in a bigger space.  But everything else?  Cool as heck.

Nike erected this like, street-length billboard with all of our names on it.  So 15,000 women’s names were plastered in Georgetown, and my name was one of them.  Super cool to see.  And it was doubly cool to see a bunch of women with a smile of their faces.  Score 1 for Nike for making us feel special.

My name came riiiight at the end, so it was split in two pieces.  But Cherisse definitely ran!
My name came riiiight at the end, so it was split in two pieces. But Cherisse (my guh-ment name) definitely ran!

Race day.  I metroed down to Pennsylvania Avenue, where the start line was.  Pre-race chatter makes me nervous, so I put my headphones in, and listened to Gustavo Lima sing me a “Balada” while women buzzed around me, scrambling to get into their pace groups.  The way pace groups were done was pretty sweet too.  We were identified by these colored bracelets which identified our pace, and getting into corrals was super smooth.  I glided into my pace group, and hunkered down to start to run for a long time.  My first bought of tears during the race?  When the National Anthem was sung.  I’m not a stupid emotional idiot either, I saw other women beginning to tear up.  It was sung beautifully, and it was a lot of our first races since Boston.  We felt…united?  The race started.  And I became emotional again when I realized the coolness, and the gravity of 15,000 women (and a few guys), running down the streets of the District, with the Capitol building as a backdrop.  As we ran, Nike had organized cool bands.  A go-go band in the tunnel.  Marching bands.  A Chinese New Year Themed parade.  Beautiful, inspirational signs.  A river.  It was so beautiful that I marveled a number of times at how lucky I’d been to get into the lottery for this race.  And I could not stop smiling.

Here’s where I screwed up, though.  I’d wanted to do well in the race, even though I’d lied and told everyone I was just going to take this one nice and easy.  I’m competitive by nature, and I’m not sure why I said that.  But in my head, I wanted to break 2 hours.  So I’d assumed that this race would be like a small-town race, just like how it was in Raleigh.  But 15,000 women and 1,200 are totally different.  And my plan to start at the back of my pace group and work my way up was a profoundly stupid one.  After 3 slow miles, I realized that I’d have to do some work to make it to the finish line in under two hours.  So I had to push.  And push.  And push some more to continue hitting under 9 minute miles to make it to that finish line.  So I talked myself through about 10 super fast miles.  I told myself I could eat Nutella.  I told myself I could go to the medical tent and get hydrated.  I told myself I could eat bread.  I told myself that people were counting on me.  And I did it.  1:59:57, with my fastest mile being a 7:36 around mile 12, when I saw a clock and got a little nervous that I wouldn’t make it.  I’m sore as heck from running like I stole things.

My final verdict on the Nike Women’s Half Marathon?  Worth it.  A stellar race.  My only complaint is that the expo was in a frighteningly small space.  It was gross in there.  But women.  The weather.  The scenery.  The history of DC just existing all around us?  Pure magic.  So….

What's our finishers gift?
What’s our finishers gift?

GURRRRLL let me tell you.

That's Tiffany babe.  They gave us a Tiffany necklace.  Handsome boys gave us a Tiffany necklace.
That’s Tiffany babe. They gave us a Tiffany necklace. Handsome boys gave us a Tiffany necklace.

And are you wondering what 15,000 beautiful women look like?

photo (6)

True beauty. Ladies, you better WERQ.

Destination Run – Elon Univeristy!

So yesterday, I went to see my friend in the bustling metropolis of Burlington, NC to see him in The Music Man.  Great show.  Great music.  Good-looking cast.  Absolutely bizarre ending.  You know what I mean if you’ve ever seen it.

Music Man

So I decided to do a “destination run” thing to change my long run Sundays up. That always seems to put a little extra pep in your step, and I finished 10 miles a little faster than the last few weeks have allowed me too. I found myself at my old gorgeous alma mater, Elon University, and something about being back in my old place gave me a little extra runner’s magic.

Marathon Hair

First, I had to decide on my hair. You guys know, my hair that keeps growing and getting heavier by the minute, had caused me a little stress during this marathon prep. So I called on my good friend Kerri Walsh to inspire a hair style, and as always, she came through.  My stuff’s too thick for a braid, but I enlisted the help of a highly specialized device created by Scunci to help me maintain the overall look.

Kerri

Thanks, Doll! You’re the greatest!

Elon

This is Elon.  The photo, that I took as I did my first loop through campus, simply doesn’t do the University, or the spirit of the University, any justice.  Elon is literally a botanical garden, and the facilities are to die for.  The blue of the sky?  We always have it.  On orientation weekends, it’s said that Jesus smiles, so birds sing, the swans come out, and the food in the dining halls is actually good.  I remember days where it had just snowed, and the sky looking like that less than a day after.  I almost went to University of Pittsburgh, and after laying eyes on Elon, I decided that that was where I was going to end up.  I don’t think I’d be half the person I was without what I was taught here.

Elon House

I ran past this little house I lived in after my senior year with Emily Main, still to this day one of the sickest roommates ever.  Right behind  this house was the house belonging to my acapella group where I spent most of my junior and senior year Saturday nights.

I also discovered (as you do when you run a place instead of rushing around everywhere in your car) that Elon also houses a forest?!  How in the heck did I miss that one?

Anyhoo, try this if you’re feeling a little bored with your running routine.  If you’re going out of town, like to the beach or to do laundry at your parents’ house (guilty!) map a run in an area you’re pretty sure is safe, but new to you!

How do you track your distance/mileage as you’re running for Haiti, Cherisse?

At this point, you’re probably watching my distance ratchet up, and you’re all “Omg I’m gonna have to pay Cheri so much money for Haiti!” Yeah, sorry not sorry.  It’s for a good cause!  But are you wondering how I’m so accurately keeping tabs on my distance and mileage, to the tenth of the mile?  Yep, probably.

So when I first started running, I was tracking my distance and mileage with http://www.mapmyrun.com/my_home/  This is a decent tool, but unless you’re running all the tangents, it can totally skew your mileage.  It’s still an awesome, awesome tool, especially if you’re trying to map out a specific distance with no route in mind.  If you know, for example, you have a 14-miler coming up (hello, Sunday morning!), it’s good to figure out how you’re going to make 14 miles happen.

Here’s the real deal way I keep track of my mileage.

Garmin 610

Behold, ladies and gentlemen, the Garmin 610.  Garmin is the same company that does the GPS in your car, so they harnessed the power of the GPS, and stuck it in a more accessible form, a watch, for runners, swimmers, and triathletes to use.  Pretty smart, huh? I was given this watch as a gift for my 25th birthday.  I actually cried when I got it.  It would have been a little bit of a hardship for me to buy it for myself, and it was so thoughtful to get this as a gift.

Whether you’re just starting out, or running your 88th ultra marathon, you can benefit from a Garmin, whether it’s the FR10, the 210, or the 610 (my personal favs that we carry).  Up on the top, 610 in particular will display total distance, followed by total time, and then followed by pace, all pretty important tools when you’re training for any race, and the 10 and 210 will do the same, even though the displays are a little different.  They run between like $130 and $400, so you have to decide what you can make work for your budget.  But remember, it’s a pretty significant piece of machinery.  Even if you go with the super fancy one, it’s not something that you’re planning on replacing every other month – these babies will last a while.  So if you’re training for a 5k, 10k, or maybe even a full, and you’re tired of deciphering a mapping tool, or bringing your iPhone on every run, consider a pretty small investment on a very powerful piece of machinery.

Guest Blogger! Vinny Marchionni!

I am so pleased to introduce to you our third guest blogger!  You guys remember yoga Kerri?  Well Vinny is yoga Kerri’s husband.  We usually see him around the store about once a week or so, and he’s a pleasure to have around.  They win the favorite couple award!  Anyhoo, enough intros – here’s Vinny!

Vinny

“I consider myself a runner.  Since the Nike Pegasus made its debut in the 80’s, I’ve been logging miles three to five times a week.  I am currently training for a marathon and my runs are getting longer.  I’ve been thinking about long runs and I have a theory that I’d like to share.  The key to enjoying long runs is extending the portion of the run that you feel the best, for me this is the middle.

The middle is the sweet spot during your run where you feel the best.  Your breathing is settled, calm and smooth.  You feel nothing in your feet and legs.  Your mind slips comfortably from thought to thought, conscious of the world around you while working in the background on a subject that you enjoy.  I tend to plan meals, deconstructing fine dining and working on recipes.  Other runners I’ve spoken to work on complex math problems, plan yoga classes, or map their next vacation.  The bottom line is if you can extend this portion of your long run you will be able to add distance and have a better time doing it.  So I am always looking for ways to extend the middle.  One way to extend the middle is to shorten the beginning.

For me, the beginning is the hardest part of any long run. This is the two to three miles at the outset that test my dedication and resolve.  During these first miles I’m reintroduced to all my past pains and injuries.  Like a roll call of old enemies, Tendinitis, Fasciitis, and I.T. Band syndrome stand to be recognized.  Things hurt, breathing is labored and I’m wondering why I’m doing this.  I’ve learned that a proper warm up can help.  Double tying your running shoes or stomping around waiting for your Garmin to locate satellites does not constitute a warm up.  A local running coach suggested I try Dynamic Stretching.   I’ll save you the Google search.  Dynamic Stretching is the series of exercises you’ve seen fast guys doing before a competitive 5 or 10K.  With names like ankle pops, high knees, but kicks and glute walk they are probably best left to the shirtless front of the pack guys.  I’ve been doing some basic squats and lunges to warm up the big muscles and it helps.  I can get into the middle sooner and feel fresher during the run.

At the other end of the middle there’s a point in your long runs when your body starts telling you it’s had enough.  Hopefully you are close to your goal distance when you reach this point, but I often find myself a couple miles short when I get into the end of the run. During the last few miles the repetitive pounding takes its toll on my legs and hips.  The result is an ache that is punctuated with every step.  There isn’t much you can do physically to get through the end of your run.  I try to save a few ounces of water and an emergency gel in case I really hit the wall, but for me the end is a mental exercise.  To extend the middle I try to delay the start of the end.  I use all the usual tricks, crank up the power songs and break the last few miles into smaller segments.  I promise to stop at the next quarter mile mark and repeatedly break the promise.  When I’m really hurting I go deep, remembering why I run and how lucky I am.   In the last few hundred yards I try to visualize the finish of my next race and the feeling of satisfaction that comes with reaching a goal.  I guess the very end of the end is actually pretty good.”

Dang!  Couldn’t have said it better myself.  Snaps for Vinny!  Do your next long run, and tell me this mantra doesn’t run through your head!

I forgot my watch!

Watch

I normally log my pace, distance, and total time with my pride and joy, my Garmin 610. But today, I rushed off to work in a cloud of perfume, and totally forgot it. I picked up one of the employee testers, and had a go. It’s not my watch, but it certainly did the job!