Monthly Archives: March 2014

5 Tips For Your First 5K

I know a lot of people who are doing the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 5K Run-Walk will be running their first 5K. While a first race can be as intimidating as it is exciting, here are five tips for your first 5K that can help you have a great race day.

1. Get your race gear ready the night before. The night before the race, get all of your race gear together in one place–race bib and safety pins, clothes, running shoes, hat/visor, sunglasses, sports watch (if you’re using one), water bottle (if you’re using one), pre-race snack (I like to bring a granola bar to eat about 1/2 hour before the start), cell phone, and anything else you will need. If you plan to use the bag drop, use a fat permanent marker to label your bag with your name and bib number and consider putting a brightly colored bandanna in your bag to help make it easier to spot.

2. Don’t wear the race t-shirt to race in. There are people who think that you shouldn’t wear the race t-shirt until you’ve actually finished the race, but I think you’ve already earned the race shirt by signing up and training, no matter what happens on race day. Still, I suggest not wearing the race shirt on race day because hundreds (if not thousands!) of runners will be wearing the race shirt, which will make it hard for friends and family to spot YOU and cheer YOU on. Expect a chilly morning and dress in layers, and make sure you pin your bib on your inside layer or shorts/pants.

3. Arrive early.  The 5K starts at 8:40, but the elite women’s start is at 7:20 and the general 10 mile start is at 7:30, so if you want to be there for the opening ceremonies and singing of the National Anthem, you will want to be there early. Arriving early will give you time to get oriented with the start and finish areas, warm-up, soak up some pre-race energy from the other runners, and use the porta-pottys. 😉 There is not much (any?) parking around the Washington Monument, so the race organizers suggest taking Metro, which is another reason to leave yourself plenty of time. (Please see the Getting To The Race page for more information.)

4. Run your own race. After more than 10 years of running and racing, I still struggle with starting out too fast because I get caught up with all of the other runners who are starting out too fast! I use my Garmin to check my pace throughout a race, but in the beginning of a race I often need to make myself slow down. If you find yourself in a pack of runners going faster than you feel comfortable, slow down and run your own race. If this is your first 5K or your first Credit Union Cherry Blossom run, you’re going to set a personal record no matter what!

5. Relax and have fun! The Credit Union Cherry Blossom run really is a great event. You’ve done the work to get to the starting line, and race day is the time to relax and have fun. Enjoy the majesty of the monuments, the energy of the other runners and spectators, and the beauty of the cherry blossoms!


Good luck!


You can read more about Courtenay’s running and other adventures on her blog, Running With Perseverance, or follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Are you running your first 5K this spring?

Do you have any tips to add?

Staying Healthy on Race Day

CUCB takes medical issues on race day very seriously. Two of the committee members tasked with ensuring runners stay healthy and are treated if medical issues arise offered the tips below on how to stay safe and healthy at this year’s CUCB.

Medical volunteers get their morning briefing before race day 2013
Medical volunteers get their morning briefing before race day 2013

Unlike summer races where heat related injuries are the main concern, The Cherry Blossom 10 Miler happens to occur in early spring before the hot humid days of summer.  While summer races produce more dehydration and heat related injuries, spring races may be held on cool, wet days.  Hypothermia is a potential threat to runners, and the threats of dehydration and musculoskeletal injuries due to under training remain.  Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce heat. Symptoms of moderate to severe hypothermia include shivering, clumsiness or mumbling.


Polly Porter, Physician Assistant and Certified Athletic Trainer at National-Sports Medicine Institute, suggests making sure you layer your clothing. Thin layers can be added or removed after the warm-up, as soon as you start sweating. CUCB will collect and donate any clothing discarded at the start line – you can do good by staying healthy!  Clothing that is breathable and moisture wicking will perform best.   Avoid cotton, which stays wet next to your skin. Since wetness or dampness is common in April, a waterproof, breathable outer layer can make the runner’s life easier. If wind is a factor, consider windstopper technology.   A runner moving at 10 mph directly into a 5 mph headwind creates a windchill factor of 15 mph.


Runners may not have hydration on their minds for a cool, damp run, but adequate hydration is important as it ensures the body has enough blood volume to warm the tissues.

Here’s how you can make sure you have enough fluid:

  1. Begin event well hydrated.  This is evident by light yellow colored urine.
  2. Proper hydration is approximately 17–20 ounces of water every 2 to 3 hours (or 500 mL 2 hours prior) before exercising.
  3. Maintaining fluid replacement at 7 to 10 ounces every 20 minutes while exercising – aim to match sweat and urine loss.
  4. Electrolyte/carbohydrates are recommended for workouts that last longer than 15 minutes or are intense.
  5. A 6% carbohydrate solution is optimal. Carbohydrates solutions above 8% result in slower absorption through the stomach.
  6. The optimal fluid to drink after exercise is something with carbohydrates – this will help improve the rate of absorption of sodium and water and replenish glycogen stores

Medical Issues on Race Day

CUCB is well equipped with supplies, personnel, and protocol to handle almost any medical concern.  Medical runners are positioned throughout the race to assess runners in need.   There are also medical stations every 2 miles along the race as well as the main medical tent near bag check in the infield.  If you happen to come across a downed runner, immediate assistance and coordination of care can make the difference between life and death.  Most injuries are minor, but in the event of a cardiac arrest, Hands Only CPR can be a life-saving technique.  CUCB is pleased to announce yet another safety measure for 2014’s race that can help protect our participants: we are hosting a “Runners Helping Runners” CPR refresher workshop at Saturday’s Expo!  There are 2 sessions offered at Saturday’s Expo: one at 11am and another at 2pm.  Acquire skills to assist not only fellow Runners but also friends and family in the event of an emergency.


National Athletic Trainers Association website:
American College of Sports Medicine website:


Polly A. Porter, PA-C, ATC
National-Sports Medicine Institute
Co-coordinator, Cherry Blossom 10 Miler
Medical coordinator, Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon
Medical coordinator, Run Like a Diva DC Half marathon

Betty Y. Wang, DO, MBA
Internist and Managing Partner of BW Primary Care, Eldersburg, MD
Co-Medical Director, Cherry Blossom 10 Miler

Time to Care: Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals

Today’s post is from guest blogger Terry Orzechowski, Executive Director of Patient Experience and Ombudsman at Children’s National Medical Center.

Eighteen years ago, I came home from work on a summer day to find my oldest son, Daniel, complaining of chest pains. He said he felt like his heart was beating too fast. I placed my hand on his chest and found it was racing. He was seventeen years old.

I didn’t even call 911. Immediately I put him in the car and drove as fast as I could to the emergency room at Children’s National Medical Center. They had him in a bed and working on him within three minutes of our arrival. The emergency room staff allowed me to stay with Daniel until they needed to shock his heart to stabilize the rhythm, before transferring him to intensive care for further treatment. They directed me to the waiting room then.
As Daniel’s heart raced, so did my mind. My husband had just boarded a plane for business travel and had no idea what was going on. Our younger son and daughter were still at the pool and would also need to be informed, without worrying them. As I waited and worried about my son, a resident who had been in the room as Daniel was treated joined me in the waiting room. He said he knew this was scary. He said he’d sit with me until the doctors came out. I can’t remember his name, but I’ll never forget that he took time to be there with me.

Daniel was found to have Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, a heart condition present from birth that leads to increased heart rhythms. Although his case was challenging, his treatment worked well. He had a cardiac ablation, a catheterization process, and didn’t require a pacemaker or medication to keep the rhythm steady.

Daniel also had understanding doctors who worked with him that summer to monitor his heart, keeping in mind they were dealing with a teenage boy. Dan was about to enter his junior year in high school. No one that age wants to walk around with anything indicating they have a medical condition. Dr. (Jeffrey) Moak worked with him about the timing for wearing a heart monitor. He and all the staff at the hospital really treated my son with respect.

Today, Daniel is 35 years old and well, with two sons of his own.

Our experience at Children’s had a profound impact on me. So did subsequent trips to the hospital for my younger son to be treated for asthma and an immune deficiency. I wondered if I could ever be lucky enough to work for Children’s. A couple of years later, I opened up the classified ads and job listings and spotted the Children’s logo right away. I eagerly applied to be director of volunteers at the hospital, and was hired for the job. Fifteen years later, I’m now Executive Director of Patient Experience and Ombudsman.
I’ve been a parent sitting in the waiting room, waiting for test results to find out what’s wrong with my child. That’s always on my mind as I encounter other parents who bring their children to the hospital.

The experience of how parents and their children are treated at Children’s is equal to the quality of the medical treatment they receive. And that makes such a difference. They care what we know, but they also care that we care.

Daniel today, healthy and happy with his wife and two sons.
Daniel today, healthy and happy with his wife and two sons.

Become an online fundraiser and support Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals as a Credit Union Cherry Blossom runner! 


Go Green at CUCB!

volunteer with recycling sign
Go green!

It’s that time again and everyone is thinking green!  Whether it’s adding an Irish folk song to your running playlist or carbo-loading with a Guinness we’re all thinking a little greener this week.

With the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile three weeks away the Greening Team will be constantly thinking green… even if it is in a slightly different sense of the word.  We know that what we do today will have lasting effects far into the future.  While we’ve made it a goal to find innovative ways to reduce reuse and recycle wherever possible, we still need your help.

So here are some easy ways to go green on race weekend:

  • Bring your own water bottle. Not only will this be environmentally conscience but you’ll be able to fly by the water stops on the course.
water bottle recycling
Recycle those empties or bring your own! 
  • Recycle water bottles and plastic wrappers. We understand that it’s not always easy to bring your own water bottle, so if you do take a water bottle at the end of the course please recycle.  Also, once you’re done with your delicious Larabar snacks those wrappers are recyclable too. We’ll have an ample amount of recycle bins and volunteers to help you dispose of your empty water bottle and other plastic wrappers. Did you know that the average time for a plastic bottle to completely degrade is at least 450 years? It can take some bottles 1000 years to biodegrade!
recycle bin
Recycle that wrapper!
  • Recycle Heat sheets. Because the spring weather is so unpredictable this year we will be providing heat sheets to our runners, so if you do take a heat sheet at the end of the course please recycle.  We’ll have an ample amount of recycle bins and volunteers to help you dispose of your used heat sheet.
Compost bins, like minions, love bananas.
  • Compost left-over food, especially banana peels. We don’t want to have any unfortunate accidents with runners slipping on banana peels!  Did you know that composting helps prevent pollution? Composting organic materials that have been diverted from landfills avoids the production of methane and leachate formulation in the landfills.  From a global warming point of view a given amount of methane is 23 times more threatening as a greenhouse gas than the same amount of carbon dioxide. So if food waste can be kept out of a landfill by composting it instead, our environment benefits!
  • Donate old shoes and clothing. It’s always a bit chilly on race morning, so don your old crazy sweats to keep you warm (you know, that rouge sweatshirt from the college you didn’t even go to!).  As you begin your race leave the discarded clothing at the side of the corral.  We’ll be collecting everything to donate to a local charity after the race.

We are working with the National Park Service, who manages National Mall and Memorial Parks (where you are running!) to really focus on environmental sustainability efforts during our events. We want to preserve the grounds we run on so that future runners and visitors can keep enjoying the monuments and cherry blossoms for decades to come.

Your number one job is to have fun and run your best race possible!  Our job is to make the race safe, fun and enjoyable for runners and spectators.  It is all of our responsibilities to work together to help preserve the environment and  ensure that many more runners get to experience the same great race in the same beautiful space in the nation’s capital.

-The Greening Team

Read more about the environmental initiatives of the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile.

Training Like a Pro for CUCB 2014

We asked pro runner Tyler McCandless to share his experience running CUCB 2013 and some words of wisdom in the last few weeks before race day. Here’s his reply:

Last year I came to Washington, DC for my first Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run feeling ready and excited to compete.  I was one of the elite athletes in the race and had set a goal of finishing in the top 10.

How does a professional athlete prepare for a 10 mile race? In the 13 weeks leading up to the race I ran 1,250 miles, which is an average of 90 miles a week.  The training is accomplished via two weeks cycles that have five workouts (two workouts one week, three workouts the next week) with a medium long run on Wednesdays and a long run on Sunday.  All workout days also have an afternoon run of 30-40 minutes and Mondays I add in a second run where I do 15 minutes alternating 15 seconds fast and 15 seconds easy.  That’s a lot of quality and quantity in each week!  Here is a snapshot of my training in March leading up to CUCB 2013:

Tyler’s March training for CUCB 2013

On these runs I was constantly visualizing the race.  I watched videos that I found online so that I could have more realistic images of the course in my mind.  I searched past results to see who ran what times and finished in what place.  I established clear goals: top 10 overall, and top American.  When I came across the finish line in 8th place and 1st American, all of the training in 2013 and the month of March was well worth it!


Tyler on the awards stage, after a very successful 2013 CUCB!
Tyler on the awards stage, after a very successful 2013 CUCB!

What can you do in the last 3 weeks before race day? Now is the time to set clear goals, visualize your 2014 CUCB, enjoy the process, and build positive momentum carrying you to the race.  Remember the feeling of accomplishment upon achieving your goals when you’re out at dark-o-thirty in the morning running before work or school!

Best wishes making your 2014 Cherry Blossom goals come true!  This year Cherry Blossom serves as USA 10 Mile Championships.  A top 5 finish would be rewarding and that’s what I will be dreaming of when I’m running tomorrow morning!


Tyler McCandless is a runner and PhD student in meteorologist living and training in Boulder, CO. Tyler is sponsored by Newton Running Elite (team updates and results can be found at Follow him as he trains for his next big race, as well as the 2014 CUCB, on twitter at @TrackTy

Why I Love Running

This makes me laugh every time I see it:


It’s so true! We finally had a break in the weather here in Central PA last week, and I went out for my first training run of the season. I took a hiatus from running after my half marathon in September, so I knew not to expect it to be my best performance.

I hope I’m not alone when I say that during almost every single run  there comes a point when I think to myself, “Why in the world am I doing this.” But just as it never fails that that thought enters my head, it also never fails that I feel completely AWESOME after I’m done.

My first love is and probably always will be lifting weights, but there are a few things I truly do love about running (even if I don’t always think of them while running):

The Power of Using Your Entire Body – There are times while I run that I mentally “sit back”, and notice the sheer power that comes with setting your entire body in motion. It gives me a chance to fully appreciate the mechanics that go in to what is normally described as merely putting one foot in front of the other.

Sweating – It sounds weird, I know. But I’m normally not a “sweater”. When lifting I may break a slight one, but it’s only when running that I break out in to a full on sweat. And perhaps it’s mental, but I feel like it cleanses my pores AND my spirit.

“The Glow” – Tying nicely in to the above, lets talk about the glow that comes after a good run. This one may be directed more towards the ladies. I don’t know about you, but I love how my face looks perfectly sunkissed/flush for a few hours after a good run. It’s nature’s perfect blush.

The Scenery – Running outdoors is so addicting. One of my personal favorites it trail running. I love having to bob and weave my way through the woods.  And with the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run in particular –  how can we NOT fall in love with the beautiful scenery that comes with running in our nation’s capital! The cherry blossoms, the monuments, the bridges, etc.

and last but certainly not least………..

Carb loading – is there really anything more that needs to be said? 🙂

See you out there!


Jenny is a 30-something working mom, wife, avid weight lifter, and four time half-marathoner who blogs at

How I’m Training For The Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run

I know the official training programs for the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run started in February, but that seemed too early for me to start training for a race that isn’t until April. Not to mention that training in the D.C. area in February this year meant braving icy or snowy trails or slogging it out on the treadmill. But, now it’s March, and the longer daylight hours–if not warmer weather–are reminding me that race day will be here soon.


I have a history of running injuries–plantar fascitis, ITB syndrome, piriformis syndrome–so I approach training for a race cautiously. No PR (personal record) is worth risking a DNS (did not start) due to injury.

I have found that running three days a week, doing strength training 3 days a week, and resting or doing a gentle yoga/stretching program on the other day works well for me.

This is what my typical training schedule looks likes:

Monday: 20-30 minutes elliptical, 30-40 minutes full body strength training
Tuesday: 45-60 minutes of running, usually a speed or hill workout (on alternating weeks)
Wednesday: 20-30 minutes elliptical, 30-40 minutes full body strength training
Thursday: 4-5 mile run
Friday: 20-30 minutes elliptical, 20-30 minutes upper body/back strength training
Saturday: long run (8-12 miles)
Sunday: gentle yoga or stretching program

For my strength training routines, I am focusing on exercises that are suggested for runners, like dead lifts, calf raises, squats, lunges, clamshells, planks, etc. On Friday I focus on upper body strength moves to give my legs a rest before my Saturday long run.

You can read more about my running and training on my blog, Running With Perseverance, or follow me on Twitter or Instagram.

Have you started following a training plan? 

Have you set a goal for race day?

Weather Permitting…

What do you do when there is snow and ice on the ground and you want to run? What if you do not have access to a treadmill? Well, that is what I am going through right now. What’s a girl to do? Crosstrain!

I have weights, bands, a box for jumps, jump rope, a muscle rope and more. Although the weather has kept me from running, it will not keep me from exercising. I have goals and I am making progress towards them. Old Man Winter is not going to hang around forever and I have races to run. Building strength will help me run faster and I have PR’s (Personal Records) that I want to surpass.



I have learned a lot this winter and the main thing is…Winter will not break me!

How do you keep training when winter tries to slow you down?

~Fran, @Flash_Fran

Francine has a love of family, fitness, fashion and fun.  She is on a journey to become a better runner, eat healthier, get fit as a family and show off her fashion sense all while having fun.  She is the mother of 2 boys, works full-time and is a recent grad. She believes that Hard Work = Results and staying Positive gets you there.