Kingstowne Striders

Marching Along 2021

A Message from the President:

Striders, This month marks the anniversary of when everything changed. On March 14, 2020, we held our last, large-scale event as a club: our St. Paddy's Day Run at Fair Winds. It was a beautiful day, and through some collaboration with Ragnar, over 20 people attended. We had no idea how different things would be a year later, and I'm proud of what we've accomplished since. We've kept group runs strong, always making sure to stay socially distant. We transitioned our board meetings to a virtual setting, and although we couldn't hold our summer picnic or holiday party in 2020, we still had a lovely, outside breakfast in October with individual orders.

Wonderful news: Fair Winds will have us on Saturday, March 13 once again for our annual St. Paddy's Day run. It will be different from last year in that we cannot promote it to those outside our club and we will have to wear masks and socially distance, but it's one step closer to normalcy. Additionally, we're looking forward to our first board meeting outside in person in April. I know there are so many of you who are signing up for races - whether virtual or potentially in-person, please share them with us! We're excited to keep our race calendar strong. Things keep transitioning, and our strength as a club will remain solid as we continue to connect. I've been loving the turnouts at our runs - they personally keep me going! I'm looking forward to a pleasant spring with all of you

Happy running!

~Valerie Blaemire, Your President
"Life depends on change and renewal."  ~Patrick Throughton

Remember to renew your membership!

here to sign up for a 2021 membership. 

Just a reminder your dues cover RRCA insurance and provides other awesome benefits as a member of the club. 

New Member Alert!  Let's all welcome Kris Sooklal to the Striders...

Tell us about yourself: 
I grew up in Maryland, went to University of Maryland, and live in College Park, MD. I enjoy spending time outdoors -- hiking, exploring National Parks, and kayaking. When I'm not outside, I'm usually watching martial arts or looking for investing advice or poring over Game of Thrones lore.

Tell us a little bit about your running background:
I started running late in high school. I joined track and field in 11th grade for fun and did the 400, 800, 4x800, 1600, 3200 events (anything coach let me sign up for, I did). I stopped running for a few years and started running again in Winter 2017. I finally ran my first marathon in January 2020, and as of February I have run four marathons. 

Do you have a favorite race:
My favorite race is the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run because ten miles is my favorite long distance to run.

What do you like to listen to while running:
My favorite music is anything upbeat, including my favorite song "Ven Conmigo" by Daddy Yankee and Prince Royce.

Thanks for introducing yourself Kris and welcome to the club!!  We look forward to seeing you at the runs. 
Stephen's MCM Story

After several years of running, I finally took the plunge to sign up for my first marathon in 2019. Like many first-time marathoners, I decided to go with Hal Higdon’s Novice marathon training plan. I did the majority of my training throughout the spring and summer with fellow Striders Valerie and Ralph. The high point of my training was in early October when I cruised through a 20 miler on the Mount Vernon Trail and felt like I could have easily kept going. The low point came on a blistering hot Thursday evening in September when I found myself walking four miles into a planned six mile run and told everyone that I was quitting running.
Despite these ups and downs, I felt confident and ready heading into race day. Many people were asking me if I had a target time, and I always said “no, it’s my first marathon, my only goal is to finish.” This is a nice sentiment, but every runner knows this was a complete lie. I had the idea in my head that I would be in the low four-hour range, and even possibly flirt with the four hour mark itself.
 After months of training and preparing, the forecast for race day called for heavy rain. Extremely heavy rain lasting all morning. Despite my slim hope that the forecast was wrong, race morning arrived with the promised rain. I told myself everything would be fine and made my way to the Pentagon. As I shuffled my way through the race morning ritual in my dollar store poncho, I carefully stepped around puddles trying to keep my feet dry. The crowd was very quiet and tense, and everyone seemed to be sharing the same feeling of dread about what the day had in store for us.
The cannon went off, and suddenly I found myself moving. Almost immediately, I felt like I was in trouble. My legs felt heavy, and the guy who had cruised through a 20 miler a few weeks earlier felt like a complete stranger. I struggled through the first few miles at 9:41, 9:34, and 9:45 paces. As I crossed the bridge into Georgetown around mile 5, I started to get my nerves under control and finally got in a groove. I started to see the numbers I was expecting to see on my watch: 9:14, 9:09, 9:29, 9:22. Things were looking up and I was back on track.
The rain was intermittent throughout the first 8 miles, and it even felt good at times. I was feeling confident that my goal was still within reach despite my rough start. Around mile 9 or 10, the refreshing intermittent rain went away, and the sky opened up. I was suddenly in the middle of a torrential downpour. Sheets of stinging angry rain relentlessly pounding down. I was completely soaked and rapidly losing energy trying to keep going through the rain. Despite this, I kept a decent pace and still felt pretty good. 9:42, 9:27, 9:42, 9:36.
As I hit the 13-mile marker, I looked at my watch and saw 9:59. This would be my last sub-10-minute mile of the day and the last time I felt any sense of keeping it together.
The rain continued at an unbelievable rate and water was quickly starting to puddle on the roads. Right after the half marathon marker, the entire road was covered in ankle deep water. I splashed through the water, and my feet were instantly soaked. Not that it mattered, because ankle deep water was pretty much constant throughout the next 6 miles. As I sloshed through the puddles, my feet felt like bricks and my pace really began to slow down. 10:11, 10:22, 10:52, 10:58, 11:03, 11:33.
You might be thinking this is the part of the story where everything turns around and I find the grit to press through and finish strong. You would be wrong.
Miles 20 and 21 of the MCM are on the 14th street bridge. Its features include no shade, no spectators, and no water stations. As my luck would have it, my arrival here was also when the rain stopped, the sun came out, and the temperature immediately went up about 20 degrees. What little energy I had left was gone. The sun was baking the water off the pavement and my clothes felt like I was wearing a wet blanket. Multiple people were down along the side of the course waiting for ambulances to come get them. I would be lying if I said I didn’t consider joining them. I somehow managed to turn in 11:40 and 12:18 miles for this section.
As I dropped off of 395 into Pentagon City for the last section of the race, I was done. Beyond done. It was impossible to pinpoint what was hurting at this point, because my legs were one giant cramp. The sun was relentless, and the humidity felt like it was continually rising. At this point, I basically gave up on running altogether. As I walked past a medical tent around mile 24 I found myself wondering if they would let me go in and just lay down for a few minutes. 12:41, 12:18, 12:34.
As I staggered through the last miles at 13:57 and 13:04 paces, I knew relief was in sight. As I approached the hill leading up to the finish line, I tried to salvage my remaining dignity and run across the finish line. That lasted all of three steps before my legs locked up again. I limped across the finish line and started to make my way through the chute. I looked at my watch and saw 4:45:35. It honestly shocked me at that moment that I had broken five hours.
 I must have looked as bad as I felt, because a medic approached me and tried to steer me towards a line of waiting wheelchairs. I managed to shoo him away and made my way through the medal pickup. At the MCM, the medals are presented by newly minted Marine Corps officers. All around me, I saw people eagerly returning their salutes, giving hugs and high fives, and taking selfies. It took every bit of energy I had to remain standing and whisper a barely audible “thanks” to the Lieutenant giving me my medal.
I slowly limped through Rosslyn to meet up with my wife. The handful of post-race snacks I had collected at the finish line wasn’t cutting it, so she ran to a restaurant and grabbed me a sandwich. I inhaled it without tasting it and started inching my way back to the car. As I recovered and reflected on what had happened over the next several days, I felt a mixture of pride at finishing despite the terrible elements, self-pity for what had gone so terribly wrong, and moments of laughing at the sheer absurdity of running my first marathon through miles of ankle-deep water.
For those who have been asking me ever since this happened, the answer is yes, I am planning to run another marathon someday. I can only assume the weather will be better.

Written by fellow strider, Stephen Gunderson 
Have a story you would love to share? Reach out to or

When: Saturday, March 13th from 2p to 5p
Where: Fair Winds Brewing Company in Lorton, VA

Why: Great company and $2 off your first beer

How: Show up with a smile, in proper social- distancing-mask-wearing fashion and enjoy life!  Bonus points for extra festive dress.

Note: This year will be lowkey as a result of COVID, we are only inviting current members to join in the fun.
Board Meeting Time

We're due for another board meeting in April. It's tentatively set for Wednesday, 4/7. FB event coming soon, check for additional details.

All members are welcome to join board meetings. Due to COVID there are some restrictions. Most of the board is likely to be socially distanced in person.  Members who wish to join could join virtually.  Just let us know in advance so we can make accommodations. 
What time is it?  Time to SPRING AHEAD...well almost. 

Remember to change your clocks on 3/13/21. The runs remain at 8am and we want you there bright-eyed and bushy tailed for Sunday 3/14/21 Burke Lake run! 

Runs will remain at 8am, typically, until after Memorial Day when the weather starts getting much warmer. 
Remember to check out the Google Docs  here for weekend run details and run leader information.

Group runs continue to be Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.  Feel free to schedule impromptu runs on your own or through Facebook.   Be sure to maintain proper social distance and/or wear a face covering at all events! Those neck gaiters are doing so much more than keeping you warm this year. 

As we are in the cold and icy the season, pay attention to the website and Facebook for any inclement weather cancellations (which rarely happen) or delayed starts. We want happy safe runs!
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President · Kingstowne Striders · 6007 Woodlake Lane · Alexandria, VA 22315 · USA

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