Tag Archives: Marathon

Running and Things

OH HEY. If you’ve been a reader for awhile, you know that my running has been up and down — but mostly down — for the last 3 or so years. Spring and summer 2014 was really great for my running, but by the end of October 2014 I was dealing with a pretty bad case of ITBS that then lead from one thing to another since then. The amount of time I’ve spent running “healthy” versus the time I’ve spent either not running or starting the recovery process is wild. Spoiler alert: the running time has been pretty dang low. So it’s no surprise that whenever I meet-up with or see running friends, they cautiously ask, “so… how’s running going?” For the last 6-ish months or so my answer has been “good enough,” and that’s the truth.

This past summer was pretty decent. I managed to run A LOT of races, which is something I haven’t done in quite some time. Sure, I didn’t put in race effort for the majority of them, but I got to the start line… which is more than I can say for the previous years. In 2015 I made it to 3 start lines… 3! In 2016 I had a little more luck and doubled my numbers, but still struggled a lot. We still have 3 more months in 2017 and I’ve already crossed 16 finish lines!! I’d say that more than makes up for the previous years. In fact, it’s already the most races I’ve run in a calendar year since I started running in 2009. HASHTAG BLESSED.

You’re probably thinking, “So glad to hear you’re back to running for more than a few months at a time, Danielle! But what are you doing differently?!” Well, despite having the most races completed on my calendar this year, I’ve taken a new approach of not signing up for races far in advance. Or putting anything big or goal oriented on the calendar. Yes, 2017 is the first year I haven’t registered for a marathon since 2011 (and I’ve only run 4 with 2 in 2012, so you do the math). Not having big races (or any races) on my calendar takes off so.much.pressure. So when I feel a weird little niggle somewhere (like in random spots on my feet, which I had here and there all summer, but have just been angry tendons because summer footwear is terrible), it’s not a big deal. Obviously I don’t want to be injured (I’ve had enough!) but when I notice things that feel ‘weird’ I don’t immediately panic because I have a race X number of weeks or months away. I can take a day or two and reassess without it being a blow to my training. And we can all use a little LESS stress in our lives, am I right?!

So I’ve been running around 15-20 miles per week, averaging about 3 days of running with 3 days of cross-training (yoga, strength, cycling). I’ve run races ranging from a 5k to a half marathon, and I even got within striking range of my 5k PR earlier this month. All of the races I completed this year have me IN for the NYC Half in March as well as the NYC Marathon in November 2018, so those are the next “big” races I have… but there’s no pressure because I can cancel either up until the night before! And now I’m at a point where I’ve been healthy-ish long enough that I’m starting to think maybe I can do some real training. But without actually signing up for anything, “just in case.”

Ultimately, I’d like to run a 5k PR. And a 10k PR. And get close to my half marathon PR from 2014 (I think a half marathon PR will still take some time, and I don’t want to get ahead of myself). I think the 5k is realistic, as is the 10k because I really haven’t run that many. I took this last week completely off from running as a reset of sorts. Even though I haven’t been running a ton, I ran races 3 weekends in a row in September, and every weekend in June. So while I still worked out this past week, it wasn’t running. My plan for the rest of the year is to build myself to a point where I could PR in the 5k and/or 10k by the end of the year, and then continue building off of that to run a solid half marathon in the spring. Of course, this all depends on if my body cooperates or not. But I’m really hoping it does this time. Only time will tell.

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Let’s Try This Again…

“Is this thing on?”

Well hello there! I know, I know, once again I popped in to say hello and tell my latest sob-story, and then I disappeared. I’ve gotten pretty good at it, haven’t I?! I know I’m well overdue for an update but I didn’t want to speak too soon, like last time. So let’s take a step back, shall we?

Last time I blogged was April. I’d run a pretty solid 5k while dealing with some weird non-specific quad discomfort, that after getting checked out resulted in an inconclusive assumption I had a femoral stress reaction. This latest injury put me at number three in the run/injure myself cycle since fall 2014. I’d gotten numb to the disappointment and frustration of a running injury, so I once again put away my running shoes and carried on as best I could. This time, however, was slightly different since it was a pretty clear-cut (and slightly serious) injury which required a more diligent and cautious rehab approach than my previous weird ankle and IT band issues. After the diagnosis I immediately got in touch with Finish Line Physical Therapy, and started seeing my PT, Caroline, about two weeks after the initial diagnosis.

Originally my doctor told me I could continue with any cross-training that didn’t include high impact to my legs (so no running, jumping, etc.), while holding off on running for a solid 3 weeks. It sounded a little short, but I figured it would be fine. When I went to physical therapy, though, Caroline wanted to take a more cautious approach… So I waited a full month before trying anything running related. While I wasn’t running, I kept going to Refine Method (and modifying any type of jumping with other, equally difficult exercises), took a few spin classes, and started taking hot yoga. My last run was on March 22nd, and my first short and slow run/walk outside was on April 23rd. After that initial run/walk outside in April, I switched over to the Alter-G for the next 5ish weeks (about 2x a week). [Side note: I am SO thankful Finish Line has an Alter-G! It was a mental game changer for me this injury go-around.] I continued with the run/walk approach, but rather than doing just two or three minutes at a time, the Alter-G allowed me to bump up the amount of time I was spending doing continuous running, sooner. This was all while going to PT once a week and getting some great soft tissue release on my quad and doing stability exercises for not only my legs, but also my glutes and core. By the time I hit the end of May, I was ready to tackle a continuous 15 minute run outdoors… two full months after I stopped running.

I thought the first run back was going to be terrible. Now don’t get me wrong, it was pretty uncomfortable and awkward, but I was running! And I didn’t have any pain during or after the run! There were — and still are — some aches here and there along my quad, but that’s just everything getting back in business and I’ve been reassured is totally normal. Since that first 17 minute run on May 30th, I’ve gotten up to a 16 mile week, including my longest run of 5 miles since March. I’m trying to keep a day in between each run as I ease back into things to give myself a little break, and I’m not running more than 4 times a week right now. There’s no point in pushing myself too soon, because I’ll wind up with another injury. I mean heck, with my history even if I don’t run much there’s still a chance I’ll get an injury. So slow and steady is the name of the game for me right now… which is fine because it is, of course, hot AF in the northeast. Yay for humidity!

So where does that leave me? What are my plans? Well, I went to PT this morning and was told that I’m progressing really well, and if I’m diligent and careful over the next few weeks, everything should be back to normal. Which means… I’m going to run the Chicago Marathon!! I deferred last year because of my weird ankle and foot issues, so I have an entry for this year that’s either use it or lose it. I made a tentative training plan and reviewed it with Caroline and she gave me the go-ahead. The race isn’t going to be fast or pretty (I’m topping out at an 18  mile long run with a max of 35 mpw), but I only have 13 weeks between now and race day and my number one priority is to get to the damn start line without an injury! If I can keep myself healthy (how many times have I said that here in the last two years? I’m a broken — almost literally — record…) and get over this injury cycle hump, I’ll feel a lot more confident to actually tackle racing a marathon. But right now I’m setting my sights on just getting to the start line in one piece. There are no goals for race day except to finish in one piece, so I’m hopeful I can at least accomplish that.

So here we go, again…

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Marathon Training: Fun Times Ahead!

Today marks the official start of my marathon training! In just 16.5 weeks I’ll be toeing the line at the Philadelphia Marathon and I can’t wait. I thought I’d do something different this training cycle and do weekly recaps to highlight how things are going. In the past I’ve been a little more hush-hush about my training, only posting it on DailyMile and a few Tweets here and there. I always assumed no one was really that interested in my training, but I always enjoy reading other people’s weekly recaps. So considering the work I know I’m going to be putting in, I thought it would be fun to share the journey with you!

Whenever someone talks about a big race, the next logical thing to think about are goals. So you’re probably wondering, what are my goals, exactly? Well, I’m not entirely sure… yet. Based on my half marathon PR from this past April, McMillan and similar race calculators suggest I can run a sub-3:30. Which, if we’re being completely honest, is terrifying. If you’re a regular reader, you know that my current marathon PR is much slower than that. I’m talking nearly an hour slower. While it’s true that PR was done on little training and is nearly two years old, it’s still scary to think I’m capable of running an hour faster. I mean, an HOUR? At a pace that not too long ago was a struggle during a half marathon? Yikes.

Regardless of what the online calculators say, I know I’m capable of a big PR, I’m just not sure how big. After my last marathon, my goal was to get in under 4 hours. Realistically, that’s still my number one goal. Without having any official marathon training and longer workouts under my belt yet, it’s difficult for me to say what my time goal(s) are beyond that. I have a great base, but I know that 20 mile long runs are a different beast from the 16 mile long run workouts I was doing for my half marathon this past spring. Would I like to BQ? Sure! But considering my initial goal was to just get under 4-hours, I’m not nearly as consumed with it as most people are… which I actually think is a good thing.

Since I’m yet to have a successful marathon training cycle, I’m actually looking forward to this one. We’ll see if I feel that way when I’m doing 18 mile workouts, ha! I know that right now I’m the strongest I’ve ever been as a runner and am confident that strength is only going to grow. Coincidence that my coach’s website is called Strength Running? I suppose not! Despite feeling strong, I know I have a ways to go. This training cycle is going to include a lot more strength work – core, hips, glutes, and making sure my always problematic feet and shins stay happy. I know it’s going to be time consuming, tiring, and I’m probably going to spend a lot of time being sore. Jason said he has some “fun” in store for me, but uses the term loosely… we’ll see how fun I think it is in a month! My ultimate goal is to follow my training plan 100%. This has always been my downfall when training, especially for a marathon. This past winter and spring was the first time – I think since I trained for my first half marathon –  I didn’t take any shortcuts or make a ton of modifications to my plan… which obviously paid off. Either way, I’m as ready as I’ll ever be for an intense training cycle that will hopefully yield some big rewards!

Tell me…
Are you currently training for a marathon? Which one?

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On Marathoning

I remember when I first decided to run a marathon. I’d successfully completed two half marathons (I use the term loosely), a handful of road races, and I was just starting to immerse myself in the world of running on Twitter and through blogs. I was floored by the number of marathoners I was now following, and felt like I needed to be a part of that exclusive club… despite the fact that after finishing my first half marathon, I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to do it again.

My training for my first marathon, Philadelphia 2011, was less than stellar. I knocked out a 14 and 16 mile long run early in the summer, but quickly lost my enthusiasm. I managed to get through one 18 miler that was a huge struggle, and that was the extent of my distance training. Not to mention the miles I logged during the week leading up to my mostly failed long runs weren’t great either. I found myself falling into the trap where I’d worry so much about the upcoming long run and needing to rest my legs, that I’d only run a few miles during the week. It wasn’t good! I was really worried when it came time to race, but I knew to start super slow and just do the best that I could. I finished in 4:37, which considering my lack of training, wasn’t too bad.

Thumbs up for my first marathon!

Thumbs up for my first marathon!

Logically I ran the Disney World Marathon only a month and a half later as part of the Goofy Challenge, and finished in just under 5 hours [I ran a half marathon the day before – another genius move]. I swore to myself that things would be different when training for Chicago 2012, but they weren’t. Again, I didn’t run more than 18 miles for a training run, and my weekly mileage was rather paltry. Naturally I ran into super tight hips around mile 18 and by mile 20 could barely pick up my leg from knee pain. After hobbling about a mile, I was able to run the last 5ish miles and finished in 4:26. I followed this marathon up with another Goofy Challenge, and ran the marathon in 4:27 (with 4 bathroom stops).

Hope I can actually "own it" this time!

Hope I can actually “own it” this time!

By this point, I realized it was time to stop signing up for marathons if I wasn’t going to actually train for them. I wasn’t doing myself or anyone else any favors by half-assing my way through training. I had grand plans of running Richmond 2013 and crushing my marathon PR, but some weird ankle and foot issues in the beginning of the summer knocked that out for me. I thought about maybe doing a spring marathon instead, but after the Polar Vortex winter we had, I’m glad I didn’t! So instead I spent the winter training for a half marathon PR, which I achieved (big time) this past Saturday!

Of course after Saturday’s extremely successful race, everyone has been asking me what’s next. And at first, I wasn’t really sure. After my lack-luster marathon training attempts, I started to think that maybe I’m just not a marathon runner… and that’s okay. However, I’m not okay with quitting the marathon with a PR of 4:26. I know I can do better. According to race predictor calculators, I should be able to run nearly an hour faster. While I think that may be a little overzealous, I do want to give the marathon another shot; I think I owe it to myself (and to the marathon!).

Hurray for marathons!

Hurray for marathons!

So I’ve decided I’ll be running the Philadelphia Marathon this year, on November 23rd. I’m looking forward to working on my speed and strength the rest of the spring and early summer and knocking out some speedy short races. And then from there it’ll be time buckle down and marathon train like everyone else does; high mileage, weekly long runs, and proper cross-training. I’m nervous, but also excited to see what I can do with a real training plan. I don’t have any specific time goals just yet, but I have some lose ideas of what I think I’m capable of running!

Tell me…
Do you have fall marathon plans? 

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Marathon Spectating: Boston 2014

This past Monday, I had the pleasure of cheering at the 118th Boston Marathon.

Even though I didn’t run and am far from qualifying, it was a truly electric and magical weekend. It took only a few minutes of being in Boston to understand why runners so desperately want to run this race. It’s about more than the prestige of hitting a qualifying time. It’s about banding together with thousands and thousands of people just like you – people that love a sport that can be so uplifting and heartbreaking – and having an entire city there to support you, like you’re a rock star.

My magical weekend started on Saturday with a 4.5 hour drive up to Boston after my last longish run before this weekend’s half marathon. The first event on the list was a Strength Running meet-up in Clarke’s at Faneuil Hall. Since Jason is actually my running coach, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to meet him in person. Of course, being the awkward turtle that I am, I simply introduced myself as Danielle and just assumed he knew who I was (who do I think I am?!). Since the e-mail I use for running related things is tied to my blog, it would make sense that a lot of people know me as “Foodosaurus Rex.” So it wasn’t until I was leaving that I mentioned my last name, and of course felt like a jerk for not having said something earlier. But at least we got a picture together!

Me & Jason!

Me & Jason!

After the meet-up I went to Veggie Galaxy in Cambridge for dinner and had a phenomenal veggie burger. I always like to search for vegetarian restaurants when I’m traveling since there aren’t a lot in my area. So when I saw this was a vegetarian diner, I was pumped to give it a try. I started with a beer (of course), and ordered their Kendall Square burger (hello beer battered onion rings) with a side of french fries. It was so delicious.

Kendall Square Veggie Burger

Kendall Square Veggie Burger

Since I was in the area for work, I drove back up to Lowell (about 30 minutes north of the city) and crashed hard. And before I knew it my alarm was going off and it was time to head back down to the city – this time for an Oiselle Team meet-up! I got to the city early to make sure I wouldn’t have a problem with parking, and did a quick lap around the expo. After the expo I made my way to our meeting spot and we posed for a picture before heading off towards the Charles.

A gaggle of birds

A gaggle of birds

I had three miles on my schedule that day, so I decided to run with a group that was doing a 4 mile shakeout, including Stephanie, Mollie, Mary, and Sara. I also had a nice mini-reunion with (two out of three) of my favorite North Carolina runners, Allie and Ellen! While on our run we actually passed Desiree Linden, and we got a little head nod and wave from her. Of course I geeked out and tweeted about it, which she favored… which resulted in more geeking out. After our run we took a short walk to Render Coffee, which a teammate’s brother owns. They were kind enough to offer free coffee for all of us, and I thoroughly enjoyed my hazelnut latte. Of course I continued my geek fest when I sat down next to none other than Lauren Fleshman, and wanted to say everything but instead said pretty much nothing. She was (no surprise) super friendly and down to earth, and I wish that I actually had things to talk to her about!

Hanging outside Render Coffee

Hanging outside Render Coffee

After coffee I took the T and wandered around Harvard a bit, had a delicious Easter brunch at Beat Hotel (in running clothes, while everyone else was in their Easter best… whoops), and then got to meet up with one of my college swimming teammates for dinner and drinks!

When my alarm went off Monday morning I was ready to go. I knew that the earlier I made the trip from Lowell to the Boston area, the better. I wanted to cheer around mile 23, figuring it’d be far enough from the massive finish line crowds and at a point where people really start to need encouragement. I made it to Brookline around 8am and stopped in to Eagle’s Deli for a breakfast sandwich to fuel the day of cheering. I walked up a few more blocks and positioned myself a few hundred yards away from the mile 23 marker. I had expertly staked out my spot, and was ready as soon as the first wheelchair competitors came whizzing by.

Rah rah!

Rah rah!

I’d been following the elites on twitter, so I knew what was going down in both the women’s and men’s race. At the beginning of the race I – along with almost everyone else – was completely consumed with the women’s race and Shalane. Unfortunately her race started to unravel a bit by the time she reached me at mile 23, but that didn’t stop me from screaming basically in her face as she ran by. I could see the discomfort and disappointment in her face, but I knew she was doing everything she could, and everyone in Brookline was thrilled to see her and applauded her gutsy race. And then, all of a sudden, we realized that Meb was leading the men. I’ve always been a big Meb fan, but my appreciation for him grew after the 2013 New York City Marathon, where he struggled but ran it in with someone and was so humble about it. To think that at (almost) 39 he was leading the race was such a thrill. He was almost 5 minutes ahead of the chase pack when he flew by, and we all screamed as loud as we could in hopes of propelling him those last 3.2 miles to the finish. Of course I was mesmerized by the thought of Meb winning, and followed along on the live stream… I was ecstatic when I saw him cross the finish line!

After the elites went by, I focused on trying to find all of the people I was tracking either via the app or text messages. It was kind of hard to keep track of everyone – for whatever reason I had a hard time figuring out from the 30k alert how long it would take them to get to me at mile 23. Plus, I was so afraid I’d look down at my phone and miss someone! I saw almost everyone I hoped to cheer for  – Jason, Jess, Jenny, Laura, Mary, Sara, Corey, Lindsey, Dani, Mollie, Julia, Stacey, and a few others I’m probably missing. It was tricky to try and yell loud enough for everyone to hear me and see me, but I was able to pierce the sound of the crowd around me for a few runners. My favorite was Mary, who happened to be running right on the side I was cheering. I basically screamed in her face – I’d like to think it helped propel her to her amazing PR! Unfortunately I missed a few people, and some people didn’t hear me, but I spent four solid hours cowbelling; I have the bruises and raw skin on my hand to prove it!

I was exhausted by the time I got back to my hotel, but it was so worth it. I would do it again in a heartbeat – and I hope I can be back up in Boston for Patriot’s Day 2015! Next up on my cheering schedule is this Sunday at the New Jersey Marathon. So if you’re running, let me know… I’ll be sure to cowbell for you! But first, I need to run my own race – Asbury Park Half Marathon tomorrow!

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This Weather

This winter’s weather has been the pits, and we have another month and a half left until it’s officially Spring. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m ready to move!

It's pretty, but I'm over it.

It’s pretty, but I’m over it.

I’ve lived in the Northeast my entire life – born in New York City, raised in New Jersey, attended college in the Poconos, and back to New Jersey. So I’m no stranger to snow, freezing cold temperatures, and minimal daylight. I remember snow days almost every year of school. I specifically remember two outrageous blizzards: one on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (I was annoyed that we already had the day off), and another on Valentine’s Day one year (also annoyed because we missed our classroom party). And I can’t forget the snow days in college that turned into snow keg days. Aside from that, the snow and the cold has been manageable. It’s by no means pleasant or convenient, but I’ve been able to deal with it. However, the last few winters have been abnormal; I found myself running in far fewer layers than one would expect for December and January, there weren’t any snow days, and even though it was cold, it was never that cold. It’s pretty clear I’ve lost my cold and snow tolerance, because this entire winter has been pretty miserable.

Part of the reason why I’ve been so miserable this winter is because of running. I’ve only been a “serious” runner for the last 3 winters, and up until this year, they were mild. Trying to get out the door for a run can sometimes be a struggle for me on a good weather day. Throw in snow, ice, freezing cold temperatures, and a combination of it all, and I really don’t want to run. Sure I could drive to the gym and hop on the treadmill, but there are a few reasons why this is usually my last resort. First, the gym is about a 15-20 minute drive away. If the weather is bad, driving is probably the last thing I want to be doing. Second, when the weather is bad and people can’t workout outside, everyone goes to the gym. I belong to a cheap gym that I use solely for the treadmill, and so does everyone else. I went once when there was freezing rain outside, and there wasn’t even a spot to park in their lot. And third, I would much rather run outside if I can. I know, I know, I live in the Northeast and it’s winter. I should expect these conditions. And don’t get me wrong, I do. But it doesn’t mean I enjoy it!

Snow piles literally as tall as me. Literally.

Snow piles literally as tall as me. Literally.

So what has running been like in this weather? I think my run yesterday really captured it all. After 10+ inches of heavy, wet snow on Monday morning, we had more snow and freezing rain overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday morning. So when I went out for my lunchtime run of 7 miles, I was faced with three surface options: knee-high snow, puddles up to my ankles, or 2-3 inches of slippery slush. I fluctuated between the three and found the slush to be the least offensive (barely). The entire month of January included either more snow, and/or wind chills that brought the “real feel” temperatures into the negatives. This kind of weather week in and week out has definitely been trying on me as a runner (as it has for all runners!) for more than one reason. Like I said, it’s hard to get out the door when it’s so gross outside, but it’s also sometimes hard to accept the paces that you’re running. Yesterday’s run, for example, was supposed to include 2 tempo miles (which I should be running at or below 7:30), and there was no way that was going to happen. I’ve accepted the fact that on days like yesterday, it’s more important that I was out there actually running, and not how fast or slow it was happening. I mean, there were points where I had to hop over snow piles nearly up to my hip!

I basically looked like this while "running" in the snow

I basically looked like this while “running” in the snow. Also, this picture was from last week, before it snowed another 10+ inches… and was “warm”

I’ve just been reminding myself that getting out there and doing something is better than nothing. I whine before the run, and during the run, but once it’s over I’m glad I got out there. I just keep telling myself that these are the runs that will help make me a stronger runner. I’ve also started to visualize running in warmer weather, and remembering the 100+ hot and humid days where I longed for cooler weather. Grass is always greener on the other side, eh? I really need to move somewhere that has a moderate climate – I’m tired of all of these extremes!

Tell me…
What do you do when the weather is crappy by you? Do you still get out there and run? Hit the gym? Home treadmill?

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Race Recap: Richmond Half Marathon

Another half marathon is in the books!

My weekend at the Richmond Marathon wasn’t exactly what I had planned it to be when I signed up for the race back in June. My intentions were to run the full marathon, and PR the heck out of it, but unfortunately I wound up with some annoying ankle and foot pain that caused my training to be really inconsistent all summer. So rather than wallow in my inability to run the full marathon, I switched to the half and decided I’d use it as a long tempo run, and a point to assess my fitness level.

The race was on Saturday, so we drove to Virginia early on Friday  morning and stopped at the expo first. We had dinner plans with Dori and Andy, and actually wound up getting to the expo at the same time as them, so we wandered around a bit before heading to the hotel. I don’t usually buy things from expos, but I saw these cute little Richmond running socks and had to have them. Most of my socks fall just below the ankle, and with the temperatures slowly but surely dropping, I figured my ankles would appreciate some coverage for those bone chilling winter runs that will be here before I know it.

Cute socks!

Cute socks!

We had dinner at Edo’s Squid which served it’s purpose for carb loading, and made it an early night. The forecast for the weekend had looked great in the days prior, but on Friday we noticed that there was supposed to be some overnight rain, that would likely stop in the early morning hours. I didn’t even think to pack a hat, extra socks, or anything to help shield me from the rain. So you can imagine my disappointment when I woke up to rain at 5am on Saturday morning. I figured it would taper off as I made my way to the starting area, but unfortunately just the opposite happened. The hotel was only a 5 minute walk from the start, but by the time I got there I was soaking wet. I knew my race day outfit would hold up wet in the rain, but I was a little nervous about my socks and the ankle brace I was wearing – the last thing you want is rain induced blisters! I saw Oiselle teammate Ellen right before the start, who rocked a serious PR! The rain stopped long enough for me to shed my throwaway sweatshirt in the starting corral, and after a less than enthusiastic start (the announcer was so not excited), we were off promptly at 7:30am.

The first few miles were rather uneventful. I did see Oiselle teammate and super speedy #fasterasamaster Allie cheering within the first mile which was a nice way to start the race! I had some pain in what I can only describe as my big toe joint, but prior to the race when I was poking and prodding around, I realized it was actually the tendon in my foot that was tight (the one that controls the up/down motion of your toes). It was rather uncomfortable in those first few miles, and at a few points I thought to myself “do I really have to run 13.1 miles feeling like this? Is this a bad idea?” Thankfully as the miles went on, the pain lessened. My goal wasn’t to all out race, but rather to push it to about a 90% effort level to get a good workout, and enjoy the morning. The first few miles were impressively conservative, which is rare for me. I usually feel awesome and ignore logic, which I pay for later. Dare I say I’m finally learning?!

The only remotely attractive photo taken. Jazz hands!

The only remotely attractive photo taken. Jazz hands!

There were a few points in the second half where I wasn’t sure if my initial pacing had been too fast. I originally assumed I’d run about a 1:50, but within the last few weeks of training realized I could probably run a little faster without needing to push too much. So even though I was sopping wet and starting to get tired, I decided to keep the pace going, knowing there were only a few miles left. As a distraction I spent the majority of the race thinking about everyone running the full marathon, excited to see their splits on my phone when I finished. I assumed my pace had been about the same the entire race, but I was consistently picking people off as I was making my way through the final miles, which was a confidence booster. I also think it’s what led me to speeding up that last 5k.

I remember hearing the finish line is no joke – that it’s a serious downhill. I was so excited for this downhill finish since it seems like most races I run end uphill (why?!). With just under a mile left, I could see the top of a giant hill which I assumed was what we’d be running down in a matter of minutes. And after two quick turns, it was time to make our way down; it was so steep, when I was at the top I couldn’t even see the bottom! Because of the rain, I made sure not to just let the hill carry me down, so I had to do a little work to hold myself back to make sure I didn’t wind up face-planting. Naturally the thirteenth mile was my fastest (7:29!), I didn’t fall, and I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:45:31! I grabbed a water, my sweet finisher fleece blanket (perfect for the rainy day), and made my way over to get my checked bag so I could change. 

Another for the collection

Another for the collection

As soon as I finished I realized just how tough that last downhill was – my quads were suddenly SO tired. I quickly changed, grabbed a slice of pizza and a PowerBar, hung out in the finishers area for a bit, and then made my way up to get some Starbucks before snagging a spot right at mile 26 to cheer on the marathoners!

It was such a shame the weather was crappy – I could tell despite the gray and rainy day that the course was beautiful. We went through a few neighborhoods that had some beautiful homes, and a big park that probably would be great to run in on a sunny day. Despite the less than stellar weather, there were SO many spectators, and I was shocked! I assumed the course would have a few people here and there, but the likelihood of someone standing outside at 8am on a rainy Saturday morning was slim. Much to my surprise there were spectators everywhere, and in those moments where the rain picked up, so did the cheers from the crowds. It was really awesome!

All in all it was a great race, and I would absolutely do it again. I’d also love to be able to do the full marathon! The next “big” race I have on my calendar right now is the Shamrock Half Marathon, coincidentally back down in Virginia in March. I’m hoping to PR the 13.1 distance at the race, which I think is possible since Saturday’s run was only 2 minutes off my PR from this past spring, and it didn’t require a lot of effort. Can’t what to see what winter training has in store for me.

Anyone have any big races coming up?
What’s next on your schedule?

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A Marathon Weekend

I can’t believe I haven’t blogged in almost a month – whoops! But have no fear – I’m back!

This past weekend was full of running, so I had to share. Since my last update in regards to not running a marathon this fall and planning to make (small) racing decisions much closer to the actual date of the race, running has been going really well. Though I’m sure I’ve now jinxed myself. I managed to squeeze out 100 miles in October which is the highest mileage month I’ve seen since June! My paces are starting to get closer to where they were pre-foot drama, and I’m hoping to be able to do a 1:50 or lower in the Richmond Half and keep on truckin’ after that. I have some ideas for races after that, but no solid plans.

But back to the weekend – it was New York City Marathon Weekend!! While I’ve never run the race (was supposed to last year), I’ve spectated a few times and grew up loving the NYCM excitement. Now that I have so many runner friends (in real life and on the internet!), it wasn’t even a question if I’d make the trip into the city to cheer everyone on – I knew I had to be there. Conveniently, one of my good friends from home now lives in Brooklyn, (in the same neighborhood where I grew up many moons ago) which made it easy to head into the city early Saturday morning, stay over, get my cheer on, and leave afterwards.

Since a bunch of Oiselle Team members were running the marathon including the top bird Sally, we all got together for brunch on the Upper West Side at Josie’s. I took an early train into the city (that was already running 20 minutes behind schedule at 7:45am), and met up with my teammate Lauren to walk from Penn Station to the restaurant. It was an absolutely gorgeous day (I was sweating a bit wearing my long sleeve shirt!), and it was fun to see the throngs of runners out for their pre-marathon “shakeout” runs. Brunch was fabulous (how can I ever say no to a breakfast burrito?), and I had a wonderful time getting to know new teammates and catching up with others, while also checking out some of Oiselle’s spring line!

Picture from Steph! Me, Steph, Sally, and Victoria!

Picture from Steph! Me, Steph, Sally, and Victoria!

After brunch I took advantage of the beautiful weather and met up with my friend in Brooklyn and hung out in Prospect Park for a bit. It’s funny going back to a place where I spent so much time when I was younger, thinking about that giant and beautiful park in the middle of the “concrete jungle” where I used to force my mom and dad to play some completely ridiculous games with me. While we were sitting on the grass at one point, I mentioned how I used to play “rolly-polly” and insist my parents join in… which was basically starting at the top of a hill, and barrel rolling myself down it. Only a few minutes after talking about that, three adorable little kids came running over, threw themselves on the ground, and started rolling down the hill. It was quite a moment of nostalgia!

The "Dog Beach" at the park

The “Dog Beach” at the park

It eventually started to drizzle, so we made our way to a fun new wine bar on 6th Street where we each had a wine flight of 4 different white wines. The bar is small, but they have artwork (available for sale) and some really great wines you can get by the glass or bottle. The rest of our evening was low-key, since we had plans to get up early for a run, followed by marathon cheering!

We woke up around 7am (thanks to the extra hour of sleep!) and made our way back to the park for a run. It was gray and windy, and I couldn’t help but think of all the runners huddled at the Verrazano bridge anxiously awaiting their start. I hoped the wind would die down, and it did, but not until early afternoon. I did a loop of the park, and headed back for a total of 5.55 miles. After doing my “long” run of 10 miles on Friday and walking about 8 on Sunday, the 5 miles was more than enough. Plus, it finally got me to 30 miles for the week, which I haven’t seen in a very long time!

Oh hai Kim Smith & Amy Hastings!

Oh hai Kim Smith & Amy Hastings!

After the run we quickly got ready and claimed our spot on 4th Avenue and 10th street, which was a perfect spot to see the elites come ripping through. We stayed in Brooklyn for a bit after that in hopes of seeing some friends in the first waves (I missed most of them, of course), and then we quickly took the train to Manhattan, where I met up with Ashley & Co. for some cheering at the 30k mark. I was able to see everyone I was hoping to see (with the exception of a few), and even got a sweaty hug from Kara! After the last of the runners I was hoping to see came past the 30k mark, I was ready to head home. I never realized how tiring cheering can be since I’m usually the one out on the course! So naturally when I got home I ordered a pizza and found myself in bed by 8:30pm.

Cowbellin'

Cowbellin’

While I was out there cheering, I had mixed emotions. Part of me was so relieved to be on the sidelines cheering, while part of me wanted to be out there, crawling my way through the city. And of course, like any logical person, I randomly teared up and had to take a moment here and there throughout the day. The marathon is such a beast – I love it, I hate it, it makes me happy, it makes me sad, and I can’t get enough of it. Hopefully I can get myself through some longer runs “for fun” in the near future (i.e. running a 14 or 16 miler without the pressure of official marathon training). If I’m able to do that, I’ll consider signing up for my next marathon. But until then, I’m going to stick to 13.1 and under. And if anything, this weekend reminded me of one very important thing: I LOVE RUNNING AND THE RUNNING COMMUNITY!

Tell me …
Did you run the NYC Marathon this weekend? 
And if you didn’t, when/where are you racing next?!

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Running Update: Marathoning

For those of you that have been following along, you know I was struggling with some weird undiagnosed pain in my right ankle & foot for most of July and August. Early signs of marathon training in June pointed to a successful training cycle, and the chances of me crushing my current PR were high. But, after two months of inconsistent training, I knew it wasn’t logical to think I would be able to successfully (and easily) complete marathon training by the November 16th race date for the Richmond Marathon. So in what seems to be like an unfortunately common theme among a lot of my runner friends right now, I had to pass on the 2013 Richmond Marathon.

The good news, though, is that my ankle and foot are 90-95% better, depending on the day, and the run. I was able to run in Disneyland with no problems! Since I already paid for a hotel room, I decided to drop down to the half since they provide the option for only $10. So at least I’ll still get to run part of America’s friendliest marathon!

This leaves me with a new problem, though… finding an early winter marathon! My initial thoughts are to run the Rehoboth Beach Marathon on December 7th, since it isn’t too far away from me and doesn’t have to be a big weekend away. But that only gives me an extra three weeks of training, putting me at about a 12 week cycle. Any other races would obviously be in different locations (South, West, etc.) because the weather in January and February around here is not exactly marathon friendly. Thankfully I’ve been able to bounce these ideas off of my coach, Steph, so I’m confident we’ll be able to come up with the best solution soon.

In the meantime I’m just going to keep my fingers crossed that all of these annoying pains are gone for good. I’ve been trying to be as diligent as possible with cross-training and ankle, foot, and leg strengthening exercises, while also working on my core and upper body. I’ve always known how important it is to condition your whole body and how great cross-training is, but I’m realizing it more now than ever. I just have to remind myself when I’m feeling lazy or unmotivated that these few minutes here and there can mean the difference between running pain free, or being sidelined.

So tell me…
Do you have any good cross-training or exercises you do for your feet, ankles, and/or legs I should be trying? 
Know of any great December, January, or February marathons I should consider? 

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Running is my BFF

I’m still here! Just haven’t been posting as frequently because, well, I haven’t had much to say… and I’ve never been one for filler posts (which is why I don’t have a “blogging schedule”). So what have I been doing lately? Running. Duh.

About two months ago I took to the blog and twitter to try and figure out my fall goal race. Obviously it was going to be a marathon (I haven’t given up on them yet), but I didn’t know where and when I wanted to race. I was ideally looking for a late-fall race in order to give myself maximum training time (and also because one of my best friends is getting married in October), so I zeroed in on November races that were within driving distance. I think in the back of my head I had an idea of which race I was going to pick all along, but I still wanted to get opinions from other runners. So after looking at my calendar, my finances, and Google maps, I decided on the Anthem Richmond Marathon on November 16th!

Prior to registering, I started thinking about training (of course). I had a ton of thoughts in my head – what training plan should I use? How many miles a week should I run? When should I start? How much build up should there be? Am I going to actually get through a successful marathon training cycle for the first time ever? What should my goal be? …and those were just a few of the questions I had. I like to think of myself as a mildly experienced runner (it’s been almost 4 full years), but I’ve only ever run by myself, for myself. I’ve done an okay job thus far, but thought it might make some sense to get a little help… especially since my marathon training has been awful up to this point.

So what do I mean by help? Well, I jumped on the coaching bandwagon! I know that I’m never going to be an elite runner, and heck, I may never even qualify for Boston. But I like the idea of having a professional that really knows the sport to guide me through training. I mean, when I was swimming I didn’t do that blindly, so why should running be any different? I know that there are a lot of mixed feelings on coaching for “average” athletes, but I say to each his/her own. The great thing about it is that I can stop at any point. So if it turns out having a coach really isn’t for me (which I doubt), I can go back to doing things on my own. I don’t really have any long-term goals with what I want to get out of coaching other than the obvious – get faster and better my marathon time!

A big reason why I decided to get a coach is that I’ve found that with every marathon training cycle, by the end I hate running. This is something I absolutely want to avoid, because as the title of the post says, running is currently my BFF and I’d like to add an AE to the end (you know, best friends forever AND EVER – welcome back to middle school). I think having the pressure of someone else waiting for my workout results that I’m PAYING will keep me in check. At least I hope so.

Between now and the marathon I have a bunch of fun summer road races planned, starting with a 5k this Sunday! I’m really looking forward to starting to work with a coach, and to have a successful marathon training cycle.

What do you think about running coaches? Yay or Nay? 

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