Trying Not to Jinx Myself

Hi there!

So you may have noticed recently that I’ve been posting here a lot less lately. I haven’t been sharing all of the training and workout recaps the way I did leading up to Philly. It hasn’t been a time issue; my schedule’s been about the same lately.

Honestly, I haven’t been writing here because I’m still so afraid of jinxing myself when it comes to running. While the first half of 2017 started out well enough, the last half was a string of DNSs, PT and chiropractic appointments, and significant frustration (mixed in with some tears). I had never DNS’ed (Did Not Start) a race before this year. And then I had 3 in 2017 – the BAA 10k, the Baystate Half Marathon, and then the Philly Marathon (where I deferred to the half).

The BAA 10k was supposed to be more of a fun run anyway so I didn’t terribly mind sitting that one out even though it was a bit of an expensive race for a 10k. Ok fine, BAA just take my money. Baystate I had planned to use as a tune-up for Philly. I had run PRs on that course in the past, it’s a local race with some beautiful fall scenery and I  generally love that race. While I could maybe have run it, I decided not to risk it with my iffy hamstring.

Baystate Marathon 2015Baystate 2015 – good memories from that race alongside my mom.

I was a little more sad to sit that one out than I had been for the 10k. Not being able to run the Philly Marathon was hands-down the biggest disappointment of the year and probably of my whole running career. I had built that race up SO MUCH in my head for months and months and to have it turn out the way it did (well, didn’t I guess) was awful.

So in a lot of ways I’ve been trying to protect myself against that with Hyannis. No countdown watch face this time around. No training recaps.

There is even a tune-up race the end of this month that I’m thinking of doing but I still haven’t registered (so unlike me) because I’m still so nervous that something will go wrong. I haven’t booked a hotel near the the race start because I’m terrified that the weather will be horrendous and that will be more money  down the drain (it’s also a doable drive so I’m not being too stupid there). I’ve become injury-paranoid. Every twinge I feel in my legs during a run becomes a point of hyper-focus. I’ve been gobbling down so many anti-inflammatories I’ve probably become fire-resistant from the inside out.

So far, my training has been good. Not great, but the hard work is really only just now beginning to kick in. And as you can see, my mental game is…questionable. I’m trying to just take it week by week and not overly stress about the race. That has manifested into a total lack of blog posts. Hopefully my confidence will return soon and I’ll be able to share a little more here, but I’m not putting pressure on myself for the timebeing.

Come on 2018, don’t let me down.

 

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2018 Marathon Plans

So I haven’t even run the Hyannis Marathon yet and I’m already signed up for another 26.2. Oops!

I entered the lottery for the Chicago Marathon back in November and on December 12th, I found out I didn’t get in. Initially, I was really disappointed. For some reason, I’ve felt a pull to run Chicago more than any of the other Marathon Majors. Maybe it’s all because before my first marathon, I watched the movie Spirit of the Marathon which chronicled the stories of 6 marathoners preparing for Chicago. Needless to say, I was inspired. After watching, I vowed to myself that I would someday run Chicago.

After talking it through with a couple of my running friends (who also didn’t get in), I decided to look into running it for a charity. I had heard about Team PAWS before from listening to the Bibrave Podcast and thought it sounded awesome. After adopting Callie this summer, it felt even more perfect. The amount of joy, love, and laughs she has brought into my life since July is immeasurable. Being able to support an animal shelter that helps connect animals with loving homes in the Chicago area felt like the natural choice.

Team Paws Chicago

Team Paws ChicagoI’ve never run a marathon for a charity before but I’m excited about the opportunity to raise money for a great cause while doing something I love. My fundraising minimum is $1500 but I’m hopeful I can raise a little more than that.

If any of you are interested in helping me in my fundraising efforts this holiday season, this is the link to my fundraising page.  Leave me a comment if you donate and I’ll be sure to send you a funny cat or dog picture as a thank you! Lord knows, I have plenty of options. 🙂

So we have not even entered 2018 yet and I’m already signed up for 2 marathons! At least there will be a long break between February and October for my toenails to grow back. 🙂


2017 Year in Review

I cannot believe we are mid-way through December and almost done with 2017. As the new year has been approaching, I’ve found myself reflecting a lot on everything that has happened in the past year, running and otherwise.

On the non-running side of things, I changed jobs which was a little scary but ultimately a good move I think. I also adopted Callie (my kitty) which was 1000% a great move and I feel beyond lucky to have her fluffy little face to come home to everyday.

As for the running…. it was not quite the year I had hoped for. My goals going into 2017 were to run a big PR in the half marathon in the early spring and then train for the Philly Marathon, hopefully running another big PR. It certainly did not work out that way. Maybe this was ambitious of me but  honestly, I think it was mostly bad luck that did me in.

I did eek out a small PR in the half, but looking back, I still feel that my time did not really accurately reflect the fitness I had or what I was trained to do.

But the real kicker of the whole year were the injuries that plagued my marathon training. First the Achilles tendinitis and then the hamstring strain. The decision not to run the full at Philly was literally gut-wrenching, though I know it was for the best.

So I rounded out 2017 with a 1-minute PR in the half marathon and NO marathon at all. Not exactly what I had in mind when I was looking ahead to 2017 all starry-eyed and optimistic about the coming year.

Strangely enough, I thought I would feel more annoyed looking back on this. But honestly, I feel a confidence that delayed gratification will be coming my way. Yes, in terms of actually meeting my goals, this year was a bust. There’s no way around it. But it was also the first year I feel I fully trained to my best ability. It was my first year working with a coach, and I truly do feel that in many ways, this was a building year for me (isn’t that what they always say in baseball when a team has a horrible season?). For the first time ever, I ran truly consistent mileage (with breaks only after goal races… or when injuries flared up).

Pre-Coach:

2017 Weekly Mileage

And with a coach:

2017 Weekly MileageJust to dive into these numbers a little bit, from August-September, I was averaging just about 40 miles a week. In 2016, I think I put in about 2 weeks in that range right before Baystate (I peaked at 49 miles for that marathon). This year, I learned it’s not really about what you hit during your “peak week” in training – it’s about steadily maintaining a high volume for several weeks (I averaged 42 miles/week for 4 weeks leading up to my goal half).

If there’s a secret sauce for improvement in running, it’s consistency. I KNOW the cumulative mileage I put on my legs this year has made me a stronger runner. And I’m also not afraid of running high(er) mileage anymore.

Going into 2018, I still have some major time goals for the marathon, but I also don’t want to make that my only focus. More than anything, I want to focus on becoming a stronger, more injury-resistant runner. I want to be disciplined about doing the small stuff that will keep me running healthy – namely PT exercises and general strength training.

In spite of all the disappointment this year, I still feel incredibly passionate and excited for this sport. I’m eagerly awaiting my next crack at 26.2 miles on February 25th (**fingers crossed because I’ve learned it’s better not to jinx things). After that, who knows? I just want to keep running with a smile on my face.


Philly Half Marathon Race Recap

So this post is coming to you very late but I figured better late than never!

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about going to Philly after having to downgrade from the marathon to the half, but with train tickets booked and time requested off from work, I was determined to have a good time.

My mom and I traveled down by train on Friday afternoon. It was an easy and comfortable trip and once we got to Philadelphia, we took a cab right over to the expo. It was a little bigger than I expected but well organized and I was quickly able to grab my number and shirt. We didn’t spend too much time shopping around the expo since I wanted to limit the swag purchasing.

That evening, we checked into our Airbnb with some takeout hamburgers from Spot Gourmet Burgers. If you are ever in the Philly area, I highly recommend as this burger might have been the best burger I’ve ever eaten.

We had a very low key evening, watching some Netflix and going to bed early since the half marathon was on Saturday (the full was on Sunday).

Philly Half Marathon

Obligatory pre-race bathroom selfie

The next day I woke up early and Ubered down to the start which was only a mile and a half or so from our Airbnb. I had heard the security lines could get long for this race so I showed up an hour early. There were hardly any other runners there at this point! It was a pretty cold morning and I hadn’t brought any layers since my mom was was going to bring my bag at the finish so I didn’t love having to wait so long in the cold to get going. But, I suppose it’s better than running late.

Philly Half MarathonAt least I got an awesome view of the sunrise!

Philly Half Marathon15 minutes or so before the start, I headed into my corral. It was not crazy packed like the NYC Marathon gets which I was extremely grateful for. I was wearing my Heartbreaker (that is the name of my Boston run club) singlet and within five minutes of being in the corral, another Heartbreaker said hello! (if you’re reading this, hi Sarah!) After chatting for a few minutes, it sounded like we had similar pace goals in mind so we decided to run together for the first few miles.

Right at 7:30, we were off! The start of this race was really beautiful, right through downtown Philadelphia. A decent number of spectators lined the start area and it was great to have that support. I think I have done one too many small races because I get way too excited anytime I see people cheering while I am running a race. 🙂

I’m not sure why, but looking back at my splits for the race, the first six miles fluctuate between around 8:30/mile pace and low 8s. Truthfully, this was a little faster than I had really intended to go, but once I was running I felt great and decided to just roll with it.

At mile 6, I said goodbye to Sarah and made plans to meet up for a photo at the finish. Then I decided to push the pace a little more. This stretch had great support. There was cheering, signs, marching bands playing drums – it was an incredible atmosphere. I definitely got a little swept up in it all and ended up running a 7:43 for that mile.

From there, I backed off a little bit back to my marathon pace, right around 8:00/mile. There was a bit of a hill at Mile 9 but I felt strong and didn’t get intimidated by it. I hit Mile 9 in 8:05 and Mile 10 in 8:10. From there, I could tell I still had plenty of gas still in the tank so I decided it was go-time.

There’s nothing I love more than being able to pick it up and pass tons of people at the end of the race. I’ve had races where I’ve had injuries act up which have kept me slow and races where I’ve just died in the final miles and it’s given me such a deep appreciation for that feeling of strength at the end of the race because it doesn’t always happen.

I hit Mile 12 in 7:33. At this time, I started to get a stomach cramp which hardly ever happens for me, but it did force me to slow down a bit, running Mile 13 in 7:45. By my GPS watch, I ran a 1:46:57 with an 8:03/mile average pace.

Philly Half MarathonI was absolutely stoked about this. For one, this is only a couple minutes off my PR and I felt like I was running really easy in the beginning. Two, this is right where I need to be for my marathon pace in February.

February 25th is still a long ways away and I’ve learned not to overly fixate on a goal race because who the hell knows what will happen with injuries and whatnot, but I will say I’m cautiously excited. I know postponing my marathon was the right decision and it will be fun to see how it pays off.


Boco Gear Review

Disclaimer: I received a BOCO Gear hat to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Hey there!

I know you are all still waiting on a recap of the Philly Half Marathon (life got a little busy between Thanksgiving and work), but it is coming. Promise. Today, I wanted to share a product review with you!

Back in September, I received a BOCO Gear Run Hat through my Bibrave ambassadorship.

Boco Gear Hat Review

At first, I wasn’t sure that I loved the style as it has a pretty flat brim. However, I have to say that it’s grown on me. It’s also pretty flexible so you can kind of bend it a bit to give it a little more of a traditional curve. It also looks great at a jaunty angle, as demonstrated above. 🙂

I also love how lightweight this hat is. It’s made of a tech material that is wicking and breathes very well. Ideal for those hot end-of-summer long runs! Another HUGE plus for this hat is that it’s machine washable. So many of my running hats get disgusting because I wear them everyday and I can never get them fully clean. I always run with a hat to help keep the hair out of my eyes so being able to quickly wash this hat after a sweaty run is a big perk. No more gross salty sweat lines!

The back also has an adjustable strap so it was very simple to get the fit just right.

Boco Gear ReviewI loved rocking the Run Hat around Halloween. The Bibrave orange was so perfect for the season!

If you’re a runner who swears by hats to help keep the sun/sweat/hair out of your eyes (like me), then I definitely recommend giving Boco Gear a try.

Boco Gear is also dog-approved for what it counts. Brady very much enjoyed the opportunity to model my Run Hat.

You can check out the rest of Boco Gear’s products at Bocogear.com and on social- @BocoGear on Twitter and Instagram.

Have a great week!

 


Philly Week

Hey there!
This Friday, my mom and I will be hopping on a train bound for Philadelphia. While I could be disappointed that I won’t be running the marathon, I’m choosing to be excited about running the half. I’ve been slowly working my mileage up in the past couple weeks and have been having zero pain in my hamstring so I feel confident that my body will comfortably be able to handle 13.1 miles. Not at a crushing speed but definitely in the “fun run” range.

When I look back on 2017, it really has been the year of Taking It Seriously. This was my first year working with a coach and understandably, my big focus was on PRs. It was also the first year that I actually experienced some really rough races. In March, I went after my half marathon PR at the Half at the Hamptons. It was a freezing cold day, the course was hillier than expected and I faded badly in the final miles to finish in 1:45 (my old PR). I was pretty disappointed afterwards and couldn’t even really enjoy the post race party. For the first time ever really, I did not have a pleasant experience running a half marathon.

Half at the HamptonsI then rallied my strength and gave it a shot a couple months later at the “Fast Half”. While this one was slightly better, I still struggled in the last two miles and ended up just squeaking under my PR at 1:44. While I wasn’t thrilled, I decided to view it as a success. It was definitely not the flattest or fastest course I have run so who knows what I could have accomplished on a more PR-friendly course.

Fast Half Marathon Race RecapAnd then there was the RnR Montreal half. This truly should have been a blast. And it was for the first 7 or so miles. I was using it as a workout and I felt great, nailing my splits. And then my hamstring seized up and that was that. The second half of the course was decidedly painful and filled with anxious thoughts about Philly. Despite wonderful spectator support in the final miles, I couldn’t enjoy it. I felt beaten up and depressed by the end.

So… not a great year for me and the half marathon.

But something positive can still come out of not running the marathon in Philly – I will be running the half. And my only focus for the race is to run it feeling healthy and happy for the whole damn thing. I am going to smile and relax and enjoy running a race with zero pressure or expectations. I think that is what I need more than anything right now. And afterwards, I’ll get brunch with my mom and enjoy exploring Philadelphia in a way we wouldn’t have been able to do if I was running the marathon.

Another added bonus: I will be able to run a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving! (This would have been ill advised if I had been running a marathon only 7 days earlier).

So maybe it’s a good thing I won’t be going for a marathon PR. That can wait till February.

How has your fall training gone?


Shalane Freaking Flanagan

By now, most of you have probably heard about what happened at the NYC Marathon last weekend. I know we are a week out from the race but I couldn’t let this pass without writing something about it. Never have I felt so fired up about a race I didn’t even run. The running world LIT UP with Shalane Flanagan’s historic win. In case you missed it, it was the first time a US woman had won the TCS NYC Marathon in forty years. And it was freaking SHALANE FLANAGAN who won, arguably the most popular and well-recognized female marathoner in our sport right now.

Full disclosure: I wasn’t in New York to watch the marathon nor was I able to watch the whole thing online. I saw the start of the elite women and then I pretty much had to leave to go to work where I continued to stalk the event on social media. Even with all of these degrees of separation, I couldn’t help but get excited about what was happening on the streets of New York.

Shalane Flanagan | NYC Marathon

(Shalane’s Instagram)

A little context: Last winter, Shalane was training for the Boston Marathon and she ended up fracturing her back. Not a minor injury to say in the least. She had to drop out of Boston, a race she had been very open about wanting to win. I can only imagine how much that must have hurt, to have to set aside this major dream that she had been working so hard towards to focus on healing.

Fast forward to November 5th: By mile 20, the lead pack of women was down to three – Flanagan, Keitany and Daska. From there, Shalane was able to run away with it, running 5:08, 5:11 and 5:04 splits in her final miles. I would be grateful to be able to run that time in a mile race, much less at the end of a marathon. It was freaking incredible.

Shalane Flanagan

Pure emotion.

(Shalane’s Instagram)

So you might be wondering how in god’s name can I relate to this insanely fast professional runner? I have no hope of running a 2:26 marathon anytime in this lifetime. But honestly, it comes down to some of the statements she made in her post race interviews (and if you want an extra dose of emotion, watch the video of her interview) –

“I’ve dreamed of a moment like this since I was a little girl… It means a lot to me, to my family—and hopefully inspires the next generation of American women to just be patient. It took me seven years to do this. It took a lot of work for just this one moment…  About nine months ago I was heartbroken over not getting the opportunity to race the Boston Marathon… I just kept telling myself that there’s going to be delayed gratification and a moment down the road that would make up for it.”

Sometimes I find myself feeling a little frustrated about my race results. I’ve worked so hard in 2017 and I don’t feel like I currently have PRs that actually reflect my fitness. I had thought the Philly Marathon would be my break-through at least, that even if my half marathon PR had only dropped a mere minute, at least I would shave a huge chunk of time off my marathon this year. Well, you all know that that it clearly did not work out that way.

But then here is this incredible marathoner who has literally clawed her way back from a BROKEN BACK and just won the biggest marathon in the world talking about delayed gratification. And it just felt like she was talking to me and to every other injured runner out there.

This sport is hard. You pour so much of yourself into training and even if you are able to get through a cycle with no major injuries, it then all comes down to one day. You have to hope that the weather is on your side (cloudy and 40 degrees with no wind – is that too much to ask?!), that your stomach cooperates, that every other variable is just right. And more often than not, it doesn’t work out perfectly. So yeah, as runners we definitely need to become comfortable with the idea of delayed gratification.

2 Generations Running

Winter running is coming…

So while 2017 may not have been the year of PRs for me, I will still celebrate and hold my head high because my best races are still ahead of me. Here’s to delayed gratification.

Did you watch (or run) the NYC Marathon?