Monthly Archives: January 2015

Gear that Gets You Running

I’m not the biggest fan of winter training.  It’s cold outside, it gets dark early, and I just want to stay inside and curl up in front of the fire with a mug of tea.  However, with the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run on the calendar for this spring, I have to make sure that I get in the miles!  It would look really bad if a Social Runner showed up completely untrained.

Though I’m a Midwesterner at heart, I have become a bit of a cold weather wimp when it comes to running outdoors.  While living in St. Louis 8 winters ago, I would go outside and run during the snow, covering every inch of my body except my eyes.  Now, I find myself on the treadmill more than I would like.

However, when I received a package from New Balance with some awesome winter weather running gear, I knew I had to try it out.  The New Balance Windblocker jacket, modeled by me in blue, is my new favorite piece of running gear.  This jacket has it all.  I keep showing it to my running friends because I love it so much.  If you follow me on Instagram, you know how obsessed I was with the sleeves while I was out on my trial run wearing the jacket.

new balance running gear

Let’s see if I can explain well.  I hate gloves.  My hands are always cold when I start a cold weather run, but they get hot really fast, so I always end up taking the gloves off within a few minutes.  For this reason, I love shirts and jackets designed to be pulled over your hands.  This jacket has what I would call a two layered hand warming option.  The inner layer is like a thick running shirt with thumbholes.  Awesome.  But then the outer sleeve is like a gator that goes over top and covers your entire hand, so your hands get the benefit of the windbreaker as well.  Then, if you’re like me, when that gets a bit warm, the gators fold up like a cuff.  This jacket is awesome!

Also, they have a little fleecy part for you to wipe your nose if necessary.  We runners are kind of gross sometimes.

The other awesome feature about this jacket?  The back dips down in the back so it covers your bum.  I don’t know about you, but when I’m out in running tights, I always feel a bit exposed.  I often put on another layer over my tights, like a running skirt or a pair of shorts, somewhat for the added warmth (my bum gets cold!) but also to cover up a bit more.  This jacket is long enough that I felt good not wearing anything over the (super comfy New Balance) tights and it was significantly more comfortable to not have on all of those layers.

Oh, and it’s water and wind resistant, so that’s awesome.  Though I’m a wimp.  If it’s that cold AND rainy, I’m probably just going to run on the treadmill.  As I did when I tried out my stylish New Balance shoes.

I love the color of these shoes.  I know, running shoes aren’t about color. They’re awesome stability shoes too, but look at them!  They’re adorable.  I actually ended up wearing a pair of these shoes around the parks at Disney World in early January, and even with all that time on my feet, these shoes remained comfortable.  I like that they offer solid support without feeling super heavy.  I’m never going to be a runner who races in racing flats, but it’s nice to have lighter shoes just the same.


Another item that I love from New Balance is their Impact Hoodie.  This is a half zip hooded shirt with my beloved thumbholes.  In preparing to write this post, I wore it to run the Walt Disney World Half Marathon.  Unfortunately, it was way colder than I anticipated (and I really wished I had packed my jacket).  I ended up wearing it as the filling in a clothing layering sandwich, which means that I didn’t get any great shots of myself wearing it.  What I can say is that it makes a great layering item.  I think my favorite feature is the little zipper pocket on the chest, up near your collarbone.  It was perfect for my earphones while I ran (in case I decided I wanted them) and I think it will be the perfect place to stow a house key while I’m out on a run.

You know, when I do brave the cold again.

Megan Sullivan, @elbowglitter

200x200 headshot

Megan is a runner and triathlete who lives in Takoma Park, MD with two cats, who are very unimpressed by her athletic pursuits.  When she’s not at her job with the federal government or out training, she can be found singing, reading, or on the couch trapped by another Law and Order marathon.  This will be her fifth Credit Union Cherry Blossom Run.  She tweets as @elbowglitter and blogs at

Worth Bundling Up For

Hopefully the weather will be gorgeous on April 12, but as I start training for the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run it is cold, dark, and sometimes dreary when I head out for my o’dark-thirty runs. Luckily this area has so many beautiful places to run, my efforts to get out there despite the weather are often rewarded with gorgeous sunrises, breathtaking views of the monuments, or surprising views of natural beauty. If you need inspiration to bundle up and get your run in, check out some of these routes.

5K or 5 Miles

Park at the Iwo Jima Memorial and run towards the Memorial Bridge, along the sidewalk parallel to Route 110 (with Arlington National Cemetery on your right). Head over the bridge to the Lincoln Memorial (loop around to the left for cross walks and walk (run?) signals). An out-and-back to the front side of the Lincoln Memorial will be about 5K (a bit over 3 miles). For a longer run (about 5 miles), continue along the Reflecting Pool, past the World War II Memorial, and loop around the Washington Monument.

5 or 9 Miles

Park at Gravelly Point (along the G.W. Parkway between Ronald Reagan National Airport and the 14th Street Bridge), and run along the Mount Vernon Trail to the 14th Street Bridge. Run across the 14th Street Bridge, head over towards the Jefferson Memorial, and run around Tidal Basin, passing through the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. When you get back to the Jefferson Memorial, retrace your route over the bridge and back to Gravelly Point. This route is about 5 miles. You can make it 4 miles longer–and get a preview of what I think is the hardest part of the Cherry Blossom course–by adding a loop around Hains Point.

Any Distance

For more bucolic views, run an out-and-back route of any distance along the C&O canal, which starts in Georgetown (park under the Key Bridge or park at Roosevelt Island and run over the Key Bridge) or the southern end of the Mount Vernon Trail (park at any of the parks between Old Town and Mount Vernon).

I hope this gives you some motivation to get out there and enjoy the sights along your runs. For even more motivation, sign up for the virtual training program presented by New Balance here or the PR in-person training program here.

Do you have a favorite place to run?


Runner Spotlight: Lynn MacGillivray

Lynn (in pink) and me (Kim) celebrating Lynn’s triumph over a strained calf during the Across the Bay 10K
Lynn (in pink) and me (Kim) celebrating Lynn’s triumph over a strained calf during the Across the Bay 10K


Lynn and I met during Potomac River Running 101 training in 2013. I have watched Lynn gain confidence and blossom as a runner over the last 18 months as she has tackled 5Ks, a 4-miler, and her first 10K. I am so excited to be a part of her journey as she trains for the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run – the farthest distance she has ever run. 
When did you begin running and why? I did not begin running earnestly until recently. Although it was something I have wanted to do most of my adult life, I never believed it was something I could do, but quietly tried and tried on my own with little progress (which only confirmed that it was something I would never do). A friend at work convinced me to join her in the PR Running 101 program which led to meeting so many inspiring women, coaches, mentors, and friends and all of a sudden running became a real option for me. Although the physical benefits are wonderful, the mental benefits, social aspects, and sense of accomplishment are what bring me the most joy.
What is your proudest running moment? Your weirdest? My proudest moment was finishing my first 10K. My weirdest / funniest was being stuck for 30 minutes on top of the Bay Bridge with a strained calf, three of my best running buddies, a very cute (young and confused) police officer and an overwhelming desire to get to the finish line.
Why did you sign up for the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run Training Program with Potomac River Running? Having done other PR training programs I could not imagine even attempting the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run without their expert training, guidance and encouragement. Having never run this distance before I am looking forward to their expertise on everything from running form, stretching, nutrition and many topics I have yet to discover.
Have you run the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run before? This will be my first 10 mile run.
What is your “why” for running the 2015 the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run? Seeing other people in the PR 101 training program progress to this race gave me the confidence to consider it as something I could do. This race quickly became THE race on my bucket list. The historical significance of the location, the time of year, and the beauty of the surroundings are just a few of things that make the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run so exciting to look forward to.
What is your goal for the 2015 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run? To stay ahead of the sweeper; I am already having nightmares! Seriously, I really believe that after completing the PR training program I will have the confidence and tools to have what I believe will be an awesome running experience, a great time with other runners, and being it will be my first 10 mile run I am guaranteed a PR (personal record)!
Do you have a running mantra? What is it and what does it mean to you? Start slow and relax. One of the women in the Reston Runners Best Foot Forward group shared that a coach once had her write “RELAX” on her arm before a big race. I did a version of this on my next race (wrote it on my finger). As I glanced at it while running I expected to just see the word, but it became so much more. It immediately brought memories of all the hard work and training I have been putting in, but more importantly, it brought to mind all the awesome women I have met who have been inspiring, encouraging, and who believed in me even when I did not believe in myself.
If you could use only one word to express what running means to you, what would it be? Life-changing (can I use two words?)
What is your favorite New Balance running gear? My 1260v4 running shoes. Not only are they comfortable with great cushioning, they are neon orange. Although it took a couple of runs for me to notice something other than my feet, I absolutely love them!
What is a fun/interesting fact you learned about Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals? That it started with a 1983 telethon and was founded by Marie Osmond, John Schneider, Mick Shannon and Joe Lake.

~ Kimberly, @KimberWestrich Kim will be coaching the PR Cherry Blossom Training Program at Reston in 2015 and is excited to share her enthusiasm for all things Cherry Blossom, which was her first BIG race in 2014. When she isn’t running, she is tackling the nation’s health care issues in her job as a health care services researcher for a non-profit association.

Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run Runner Spotlight

Susan running the Rockstar 8k in 2013. “We were told to ‘be a rockstar if we saw a photographer,’ so I rocked out with a little air guitar"
Susan running the Rockstar 8k in 2013. “We were told to ‘be a rockstar if we saw a photographer,’ so I rocked out with a little air guitar”

Susan Kolbay and I have been twitter friends for about a year and we finally met in-person this summer at the Perfect 10 race in Reston, Virginia. She blogs about her running adventures at “Socks and Skirts” – crazy socks and silly skirts keep her running! I am really looking forward to training with Susan when the Potomac River Running Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run training program kicks off on January 31st.

When did you begin running and why? I’ve run off and on since I was a kid.  When I was much younger it was just a mile at a time. In college and shortly after I ran a little bit, but nothing consistent. In 2009/2010 I started running more consistently and made a goal to get up to 3 miles. I wanted to challenge myself and I wanted a way to stay in shape. I liked the fact that I could start from my front door.
What is your proudest running moment? My proudest moment was completing my first half marathon. After I started running consistently I was challenged by a friend to complete a half marathon. A group of us met in Knoxville, TN for the race (many of them had gone to school there). I ran every single step of the race and while it was slow I was so proud to cross the finish line. That was my first time running that far!
Why did you sign up for the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run Training Program with Potomac River Running? I signed up for the training program because I would like to gain some speed and see some new PRs (personal records). Also, I would like to run with other people. The past couple of winters I have trained for the Reston 10-Miler by myself and it gets cold and lonely sometimes. I’m hoping the coaches and the other runners will motivate me to be my best and run as fast as I can.
Have you run the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run before? No, this will be my first time!
What is your “why” for running the 2015 the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run? I want to try out all of the “big” DC races. It looks like a great course and it’s fun to be part of something so big and support a great cause. I volunteered for the 2014 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile and it looked like so much fun!
What was your volunteer experience like? I volunteered as a course marshal. I was stationed near mile 7. We were tasked with ensuring that no one took a short cut across a street. It was exciting trying to calculate what time the elite women would get to us.  The women were amazing. We saw them coming and then they were gone! They were running so fast. After that the runners were coming quickly. There were so many people and it was fun to cheer for them. We really didn’t have to worry about anyone cheating the course so we mostly just cheered. We offered as much as encouragement as we could for the runners towards the back of the pack; high-fives for anyone that needed them. I’m always inspired by people who challenge themselves. I wanted to talk to everyone and cheer for everyone. I already knew I wanted to run the race but after seeing how many people were there and how many different pace groups were represented I was even more inspired. While it’s fun to see elites racing each other I think it’s even more inspiring to see someone who is only racing themselves. Regardless of the time everyone that day went out and ran the same 10 miles.
What is your goal for the 2015 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run? PR of course! I would like to beat my 10 mile PR which was set at the Army 10 Miler in 2012.
Do you have a running mantra? What is it and what does it mean to you? I always tell myself to keep going and finish strong. Finishing strong is the most important part to me. I’ve had good runs and bad runs and good races and bad races. I always tell myself if I finish strong it makes up for everything else. No matter how bad a run has gone if I can pull it together and finish strong I will be satisfied.
If you could use only one word to express what running means to you, what would it be? Strength 
What is a fun/interesting fact you learned about Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals? Even a small donation can have an impact. As little as $4 can provide a blanket for a baby. Combine that with another dollar and you can provide a blood pressure cuff, too. Many people could probably find $5 in loose change in their house or car and use this to make an impact in a baby’s care.
Don’t forget the =PR= Training programs begin January 31/February 1 in four locations: Ashburn, Reston, Tysons/Vienna, and DC (convenient to Arlington, Alexandria, and Rockville).  Reston participants will be coached by me, CUCB Race Blog Team member Kim and will have the opportunity to be a featured spotlight runner on the CUCB Race Blog! Sound good? Program and registration info is available here.Kimberly, @KimberWestrich