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The Other R-Word

Although it’s a beautiful thing, life moves fast. It can be hectic, and busy, and complicated. Add adulting into the mix and you’ve convinced yourself that you need a special assistant just to help you stay on top of it all. Add another layer on top–running. So, you’re telling me I have to pay bills, keep Sallie Mae happy, deep condition my hair on a semi-regular basis, make it to all these social events, AND make sure I’m getting exercise? This is the life we chose, folks!

It’s always exciting to see fellow runners smash their goals, come down on their times, or complete another race. The desire to go up another level in our running careers is almost addictive; but with that high can also come the need to take a break from it all. Yep, rest. Our bodies physically, mentally, and emotionally need it. Sometimes there’s the temptation or the peer pressure to keep running without proper recovery and relaxation.

“I have to keep up.”

“I can’t lose the mileage.”

“The marathon is around the corner.”

“I’ll lose my speed.”

“What will others think?”

So, we keep going. Out of guilt, out of pressure, out of competition, out of not wanting to look weak.
But you know what? It’s actually ok to take a break from it all once in a while. It could be a day. It could be a couple weeks. It won’t last forever.

We all know that running, especially long distances, is more mental. Sometimes your mind just needs a break, and that’s ok. No one is saying to rest every single time it gets tough. Sometimes you need to push through because that helps you get faster and stronger. But if you’re experiencing a difficult time emotionally, haven’t gotten enough sleep the last few days, or you’re injured, it’s ok to relax for a bit. Promise. You’ll get back on track.

The miles are never not coming. They’ll be right there waiting where you left them. You’ve got this!


By Ashlee Lawson

Sometime in April. I decided it would be a good idea to challenge the Ladies of DRC with a 5K, every day, for the entire month of May. There were a couple of us who knew what we would be in for–31 monotonous days of finding time and energy to run. To my surprise, a good majority of the group was super excited to put both their mind and bodies to the test. I’m still not sure why, but it was their enthusiasm that helped to make it all happen.

I’m super proud to say that over 30 women began the challenge and 10 women finished strong finding a way to run at least a 5K every single day. In total, over 1700 miles were run through rain and blazing heat, and while managing the Brooklyn Half and world traveling. Congrats Ladies!

A few lessons learned on the run:

  1. Accountability matters.

I wanted to give up SO many times. If it wasn’t (1) for each of the ladies’ encouraging words in the group and (2) the MapMyRun notifications that let me know in real-time that everybody else was putting in work but me, this would NOT have been possible.

Lesson: Surround yourself with people who want to see you do and be well. It’s amazing what you can accomplish together.

  1. It’s ok to slow down, literally.

When the challenge first began, I just KNEW I was going to earn a PB every day lol. I was about to be so fast by the time it was all said and done. That might’ve lasted a week. It came to a point where instead of focusing on how fast I was running each day, it became increasingly important to just finish. By the end of the challenge, I was running even slower than when I started…but I got it done.

Lesson: Like Charlie Dark often says, “It’s not how fast you go, it’s how you cross the finish line.”

  1. Recovery is key.

If you know me, you know how much I hate stretching. It’s SUCH a chore. Who wants to spend an extra 15-30 minutes stretching and foam rolling? Not me. This challenge forced me to properly recover (almost) every day, because had I not, I wouldn’t have been close to prepared to get up the next morning to tackle the next 5K.

Lesson: Along the way, it’s necessary to do things we don’t want to do, to get where we want to be.

I’m grateful for the lessons learned along the way, I’m feeling primed and well-oiled to begin marathon training, and feel closer than ever to an amazing group of women who want to help each other be better in running and in life.

Below are a couple lessons learned and goals smashed by some of the ladies that participated:

When I told people, I was going to run 3 miles a day for 31 days their immediate reaction was “oh are you training for a race?” and then when I said no, I’m doing this to test my willpower, I then got the deer in the headlights look. But it was true! AND it seemed pretty badass! Without the #ThirtyRunDayChallenge and the support of the other ladies there is no way I would have been able to do this and set a PR.

Angela Fleming

This #ThirtyRunDaychallenge, like everything DRC does, is about way more than running. It’s about finding that part of you that wants to quit & constantly disappointing it. It’s about pushing yourself to the point where the only thing you can do is win. It’s about being the best version of yourself daily, while knowing you’re not alone. It’s about being one of the amazing #LadiesofDRC

Courtney Littlejohn

I entered our #ThirtyRunDayChallenge knowing it would take dedication and consistency, yet I didn’t realize that a mere 3 miles would be so difficult; after all, I’m decently in shape. However, I quickly realized that conquering the mental game of running would be the only way I’d last for 31 days. The most rewarding part of this experience was when Nesi told me how proud and impressed she was to see how much I’ve grown since last spring. HUGE thanks to Ashley Gardner and Leo Reid for their friendly competition that ultimately turned into accountability. I never would have run 140 miles without y’all.

Emma McNamara

Would I willingly do another #ThirtyRunDayChallenge?


If I did, would you join me?




Mind vs. Miles

This running thing is about more than our weekly runs or even getting medals. It’s obvious that some of us may be running for physical reasons, but what about the mental or emotional aspects?

Everyone has a story and a “why”. If you’ve been running with us for a while, you may know that some of our friends like @daddydarkrdc, @alisonmdesir, and @teambrkthru all have stories about how they’ve raised awareness related to mental health. But, their stories don’t stop with the tragedies or obstacles that have come across their paths. All of them have used running in a way that helps to connect with people at their core. They’ve all helped others to keep going, even when the going gets tough.

Distance running is about perseverance. It’s a battle between your mind and your feet. It’s about the will to keep pushing even when you don’t know how you’re going to make it. That’s life, as well. There are going to be things that will be placed in your path, and you’re going to be tested. Do you stop running when it hurts, or do you run through the pain?

Although they may be smiling on the outside, a fellow runner could be fighting like hell to survive each and every minute of their day. Make sure to be kind. You never know what someone is going through. Your presence and a positive word of encouragement could literally be the reason they choose to hang on.

Sometimes, all you can do is put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward. One day you’ll look back and see how far you’ve come.

Note: We understand that running can be good for mental health. However, we also know that it is important to consult a professional for assistance if needed. If you ever feel like you need help regarding your mental health, DRC would like to encourage you to reach out to someone who is licensed/certified to help you deal with the battle you may be fighting.

FOMO: My Crazy Weekend of Running Brooklyn and the Capitol Hill Classic (As Told By My Social Media)

By: Leo Reid

At the end of Bridge the Gap DC (#BTGDC), it was evident that there was a huge social and athletic gap that was created. After the 17 French-Canadians (@werunmlt) left, and I finally packed all the airbeds and tent down, it was clear I needed to find a race that could replicate such a great weekend. So, Brooklyn would be the part deux.

So, let the weekend begin: I packed my bags and headed to the airport for the short 45-minute flight to NYC. Private jet, baby!!

Once I landed, I Uber Blacked from the airport to bib pick-up, then settled in with the crew for the lituation.

The energy was pure silk, and the running community that I have come to love was very present. Being in a very diverse group of runners who also like to have fun is only part of what a run weekend is all about. Bridge Runners (@bridgerunners) and Harlem Run (@Harlemrun) were representing their city and reminding us of a race weekend feeling called crew love.

It was an early night in–stretched (yoga), got my race day clothes together, spent five minutes arranging my bib and other items, then spent 20 minutes taking a picture and getting a clever caption for my IG post.

If you have never run a race before, you may not understand the need to get the proper arrangement and picture for your social media. It is not only a reminder to your friends on social media that you are a boss at sorta training for something, but it also reminds you how artistic you are in finding the right filter and writing clever captions.

Bed time! If you want to ever get close to breaking your personal best/record, getting enough water and rest is important.

The race day morning routine is to get up early and hydrate to fuel muscles throughout the race or desperately try to soothe the alcohol induced vertigo of a hangover.

I have to get to the race on time to take a pre-race photo. This picture is important to prime my social media friends for their timelines being flooded with my accomplishment until the next #TBT where I reflect with an inspirational quote. #Crewlove #Believeinself #Allwedoisrun!


I get in my run wave but convince myself that since I am still tasting the Long Island from the night before, running with the squad is better than chasing Aaron (@sartorialgazelle). Racing him is just impossible!

I started the race and enjoyed the low 60s weather and the great run atmosphere.

Overcommitted in the first few miles, I had to stop and “go” because the drinks from the night before were running through my kidneys faster than  my legs were, and struggled through the last few miles before mile 11.

Mile 11! Cheer squad!!! Picked pace up and pretended I was going at a good pace. Practiced few surprised but photogenic poses before reaching cheer squad because they go by quickly and you never see who is taking your picture!

Running slowly, I took in all the happiness and littness of cheer squad.

Cheer squad was just the energy I needed. I could see the black flag from a distance and could hear the familiar voices of DRC cheering. Cheer squad was lit!

@wrucrew, @bridgerunners and @districtrunningcollective signature confetti made my nausea and mild cramping disappear. The sheer joy of cheer squad and their positivity at mile 11 was appreciated by my, and other, fatigued legs counting down the next 2.1 miles. If you have never experienced cheer squad, you are missing out, and you need to experience the true community it teaches. Cheer squad people: Thank you! Y’all were live, baby!!

I got back to a slower pace my breathing and tiredness could tolerate while thinking, Who do I need to hound to get those cheer squad pictures? Did I even smile in them, or was I a blur? The anxiety pushed me to finish faster to see them.

13.1 miles!! I ran determinedly to get this medal but, most importantly, for brunch and to continue the fun weekend in NYC. Brunch was great and the experiences of communing with DRC and other run clubs made the clanking of medals and the extra time it took for my meal more bearable. Bonds were formed and strengthened during that weekend, and I appreciate all the other crews. #Crewlove

I flew back  to DC just in time to run my 10k. It was a great run with the squad again, and this time I was hydrated and doing better.

Even though all these things did not happen to me, nor was I ever on a jet plane (#bowwowchallenge), I suffered from severe FOMO. The fear of missing out made me refresh my social media feed whenever possible. I felt like I missed a weekend my friends kept posting about using clever captions for all their run pictures. Yet, I felt like I was a part of the squad but not in any of the pictures from brunch, cheer squad or any of the turn ups. The one thing I felt, though, was the great community of friends and strangers who came out to support runners on both days. It gave first-timers with DRC joy finishing their race and brought more people closer as a crew. It’s crew love, baby! And the crew was definitely live, baby!

Congratulations to all who ran and to all who cheered. It is another medal to the game but an experience worth every moment that no other race can recreate. So, learn from your partying, your underpreparing, your overexerting in the first few miles and get your Cheer Squad mile 11 picture face ready because all these things pass quickly! Brunch awaits!

#BTGDC: We Live, Baby!

A couple years ago, we had this crazy idea: Host Bridge the Gap in DC. We didn’t know how we were gonna pull it off. We didn’t know if we had the resources, or even enough interest. What we did know is that we had a special vibe. Our crew’s energy is infectious to those around us, and we make sure to take that positivity with us wherever we go.

We’ve been to a few BTGs before, and we loved what we saw. New York…Toronto…London…Each of the hosting crews in these cities gave their own take on what it means to bring people from all cultures together over running.

Now, it was our turn to step up to the plate. We knew it was our duty to show everyone what DC is all about. With the U.S. political climate doing a 180 towards the end of our planning, we felt especially responsible for showing y’all a good time. In a time when our country is so divided and polarized, it was dope to bring folks together from all over the world to one of the most powerful and influential cities on the planet.

DC… aka Chocolate City, the land of Mumbo sauce, go-go, the place where MLKJ gave his “I Have A Dream Speech”, the place where Obama’s presidential motorcade used rush through the streets, the U.S.’ seat of power, a “small town” with arguably the biggest influence. The home of District Running Collective.

We’re honored to have been able to share our corner of the world with you. Bridge the Gap doesn’t end at these events, however. It’s a continuous conversation that helps us change the landscape and definition of what it means to be a runner. It goes beyond bringing international crews together. It can be about closing the space between a beginner and more advanced runner. Or, how about the need for understanding between a half and full marathoner? What about the space between who you are as a runner now and the kind you want to be?

So what exactly happened that weekend? So much, but here are our top five moments:

5. Cheer Squad…
If you had to pick between running a race and being a part of the livest cheer squad on the planet, it could be a tough decision. This cheer squad was something really special, though. Not only did we have members from DRC, we had participation from the other crews as well. If you don’t run, you cheer. It’s hard getting through the last few miles (especially if you’ve just come out of Hains Point, ugh!). But with the everlasting cowbells, screams from the megaphone, and trap music blasting from the speakers, we kept all of our BTG runners going.

4. Matt Crowd Surfing…
You had to be there for this one, but it was straight out of a movie (LOL). In true DRC fashion, we partied after the parties. Towards the end of the after party at U Street Music Hall, Matt decides to take a chance and jump into the hands of the crowd that was screaming right by the stage. It was an unforgettable moment that will surely go down in BTG history. The amount of trust that it takes for someone to do that? A lot. Well, at least you know we have your back, Matt. Literally…

3. Charlie DJing…
Music is very much a part of DRC. We have it on all of our runs, whether it’s blasting from Cheer Squad or from one of the captains’ backpacks. So, it was only natural that Charlie, founder of Run Dem Crew and co-founder of BTG, hopped on the ones and twos at the after party. Also, thanks to Charlie for talking to the crews about what Bridge the Gap is all about. It was an honor for him to be there with us!

2. A BTGDC Proposal…
After we took our routine post-race pic, Jason, one of our DRC captains, starts making a speech. He wanted to let everyone know how great, strong, and brave his girlfriend was for completing this race. Mind you, Traci ran a 10-miler six months pregnant (yes, you read that right)! He then got down on one knee (yup!) and pulls out a ring! The crowd went wild and started to lose it (we don’t know how to act! Lol). Congratulations to Traci and Jason! Get that running stroller ready!

Lastly, we want to say thank you. To Ashlee, Matt, and Corey…you did that sh*t. Thank you to the captains for stepping up every week and for these events to show everyone what DRC is about. To our membership chairs, your organization and leadership was greatly appreciated. Thank you to every crew that came out and supported this event by attending or from afar. To our partners, Under Armour, Oleo, and Goûter, you helped to enhance our event. You were the icing on the cake! Shout out to all the venues that believed in and supported our vision: Penn Social, Union Market, Wunder Garten, Potomac River Running, and U Street Music Hall. And to anyone else who has been a part of this movement, we don’t have enough words to show our gratitude. Without you, there is no us. We hope that everyone had a good experience, and we are blessed to be a part of the BTG family.

We live, babyyyyy!

2017 NYC Half Marathon: How I Almost Missed A Good Thing

By J.Knight

Looking back on it now, I can’t believe there was a chance that I was not going to run this race. Leading up the NYC Half, all the signs were telling me to pull out! First, my training partner could no longer run the half. Next, my body all of a sudden decided that it needed a break during my training. Yet and still, I remained committed to running through Times Square with thousands of other half marathoners.

As time dwindled and the marathon date approached, doubt crept up again. My work schedule became more hectic, and I would now have to leave from a work assignment in Detroit, MI in order to make the race. More and more of my friends were unable to run or cheer me on due to their own scheduling conflicts. At this point, the financial investment was my only motivating factor.

The fight or flight moment came when I was exiting the subway for bib pickup and was greeted by snow flurries. This was it. This was what I had been waiting for — the sign telling me loud and clear that I needed to bail. All I needed to do now was sell my bib and rid myself of the burden. Falteringly, I dug deep inside myself and remembered an exercise where I wrote down my running goals before the start of our DRC season; I made a commitment to be a more consistent runner.

The morning of the race was less daunting, I was equipped with the appropriate cold-weather gear, my headphones were charged, and my cell phone battery was full. Admittedly, I was running a little behind schedule and ended up missing the start time for my designated wave. (I ended up paying for that later on). As I entered Central Park, it began to materialize that I was really going forth with the run. I was fulfilling my commitment to be a more consistent runner and forcing myself out of a series of comfort zones. My time walking to the corral was filled with excitement and antsiness. Fortunately, I was not alone since I had conned Clif, another DRC captain, into pacing me.

The race started off calmly, there was a slow collective jog to the start and we spent the first couple of miles dodging other runners in the second wave start. (Note to self: always be on time to your race and start in your designated corral. Lesson learned…). Snow, which had originally been an impediment, highlighted the scenery of the park. The hills of Central Park rolled, and my conditioning felt great. The energy of the other runners was contagious and motivating. Even Harlem Hill was less intimidating, with the support of Harlem Run cheering us on.

The torture of hills was finally over at mile 6, as we exited the Park and entered 7th Avenue, towards midtown. Times Square’s regular chaos was transformed into a sea of runners surrounded by bright lights and a raucous cheer squad, comprised of both tourists and supporters. Spirits were still high as the cold air from the water hit us on the West Side highway. “Make it to the tunnel!”, is what I kept telling myself as I tried to finish the last 4 miles of the half. Warily, I made it to the tunnel with the support of Clif, and onlookers screaming, “DRC!”, and, “See you in two weeks!” Once I made it through the tunnel, adrenaline took over and propelled me to the finish.

Collecting the thermal blanket at the end was almost more rewarding than the medal itself! As I draped it over my shoulders and went to gather with the others, I felt an immense sense of accomplishment. We then gathered with the runners from Harlem Run and bonded over our shared anguish. This bond intensified as we all grabbed food and celebrated each other’s most recent feat.

The cold didn’t feel as cold anymore, and my hellacious work schedule and subpar training was inconsequential. The collective head nods and other affirmations from other finishers made the race even more fulfilling.

As we approach Bridge the Gap weekend, I’m reminded that each person runs their own individual race but not individually. It’s a collective movement that is so much bigger than me and even bigger than DRC.

And to think that it almost didn’t happen, the feeling of completion was intoxicating and made every ache and pain worth it.

Rocking and Rolling the Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Half Marathon

By Ashley Gardner

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon was my first half marathon a year ago. I enjoyed the musical aspect and the route throughout my stomping grounds so much, I immediately signed up for this year’s the day after (partly due to the cheapness).

Going into this year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll, I felt much more prepared. I had kept up my running throughout the winter, so I had confidence I would be able to run a good race. Of course, the week going up to the race, I saw the predicted temperature getting lower and lower, and felt more nervous. Well, there was nothing to do that Saturday morning but roll with the temperature and layer up.

That morning I woke up, put on my gear, and headed downtown. After quickly dropping my bag off, I found that I had a half hour to kill. The temperature was in the high 20s, and my fingers were already cold under gloves. Luck was on my side, and I grouped with others around a heater near the corrals. And, that half hour was soon gone.

Now, it was time to run. I had to tell myself to keep a calm pace until the hill at mile 6. In my mind, that was the only hill in the race, so I was a bit surprised later. I got up that hill without walking (unlike last year), and I was rewarded by the first large group of spectators. From there, it was enjoyment running the streets of DC neighborhoods with anticipation growing as I got closer to mile 11. Now, at various places during the race I did get to hear some rocking music by the bands, but often, they seemed to be between songs (still, I got to give them props for being out in the cold playing). That was not the case at mile 11. There was no doubt that the DRC cheer squad was on. If you look at my running tracker, my pace spikes amazingly at that point from the joy of seeing the squad and the encouragement they provided. After that, it was simply: Run two more miles to RFK.

What rocked: Conquering the hill, meeting my time goal of below two hours, DRC Cheer Squad being out in that cold, and Sly and the Family Stone on the stage at the end!

About Ashley

I started running with DRC spring of 2016 after about a year of running alone and seeing there was a running group in my area. I lucked out in that I choose a group based on proximity and got a group so encouraging and welcoming.

I #RUNDRC because of camaraderie and community. If you fall, there will always be someone there to help you.

Vote DRC for Best Running Club!

When people think of running in The District, we want them to think of DRC. We hope that when people come run with us, they feel a sense of community and support that is different than anywhere else.

We are humbled by the fact that we are nominated for “Best Running Club in D.C.” in RunWashington! It would be dope if you, your friends, and family vote for us! But not only that. If your friends or relatives live in the area, or are just here for a visit, tell them to come out to #RUNWITHUS. They’ll be able to experience what everyone is talking about. 🙂

As always, thanks to all who support us. We know that there wouldn’t even be a nomination if it weren’t for the community that makes us who we are!

Together, We’re Stronger

We’re a strong community because of the people that support us. This past weekend, personal trainer/distance runner/coach/wellness writer (yes, all those things), Percell Dugger of Black Roses NYC, was able to join us for some of our workouts! Although many know him by different titles, we think of him as one of our very good friends. We definitely appreciate him for including us in one of his articles published on Huffington Post. Make sure you checkout the blog post he wrote for Black History Month! There may be a running crew that you recognize in there!

A Love Letter to Running

By Latosha Thomas

My Love,

When I first met you, I had doubts. To be quite honest, I may have even hated you a little bit. Some of my friends kept talking about you, and they pushed me to give you a chance, but I wasn’t interested.

But then one day, I tried you out. You weren’t as bad as I thought. Actually, I had fun. Who would’ve thought that with all of these crazy things I heard about you, I would start to like you!

I’m not going to bash you for all of the pain that you caused me initially. Sometimes I cried and whined, but you were right there waiting for me to give “us” another chance.

I can never stay away too long. The feeling I get from being apart from you is just too much to bear, so I get right back to it. Back like I never left…

When the challenges come, I still get up and keep going. Why? Because I’m committed. I know it takes a lot of work to be a part of this, and I take it seriously.

Sometimes the both of us need to be alone. Other times, we hang out with others and experience the euphoria that this relationship has to offer together.

I think about you all the time, especially when it’s suggested that we take a break (ugh!). I know it’s necessary, but I still feel the urge to get out there to see you.

Every time we see each other, you don’t ask for much–just a promise to never give up and never stop. You teach me something different every time we’re together, and that is not something to be taken for granted.

You’ve seen me laugh and cry. You’ve seen the good times and the bad. You’ve taught me reciprocity, tenacity, and perseverance. Thank you for being you and not requiring a lot of extra effort–just some running shoes, commitment, and lots of heart.

Your admirer,

A dedicated runner