Life Updates + My Achilles Heel

Hello again!

Apologies for falling off the grid there for a bit, but life got in the way (as it usually does). Things are once again getting crazy with work (I realized I will only be home for 1 full week during the month of June) and there really haven’t been any exciting happenings with my running to blog about.

Short 3-miler on Friday.

Basically, I’ve been running minimal mileage and really focusing on letting my Achilles heal (HA – it’s a pun!). Leading into the Fast Half, it had become a persistent niggle. It would bother me pretty consistently for the first mile to mile and half of a run before easing away. After finally getting my goal race out of the way, I decided it was time to really focus on rehabbing my Achilles before diving back into any heavier training. Plus, my coach wanted me to take a decent break after the long training block I had just experienced.

So once a week for the past few weeks, I’ve been going to the chiropractor and getting ART (active release therapy) and graston. For those of you who don’t know what those are, you can think of it as a very deep and painful massage. It is NOT relaxing or comfortable, I can promise you.

ART MassageMaybe Monica was actually doing ART.

The good news is, it seems to be helping. I’ve been going on easy 2-3 mile runs in the past couple weeks that have felt almost normal. I’m confident that in a couple weeks I’ll be good as new.

I think the break has been good for me mentally. I’ve been going to a lot of yoga classes and really enjoying sleeping in a little later in the mornings. As nervous as I was about the late timing of Philly, now I’m really happy that I chose this marathon because I haven’t felt rushed to dive back into training. I know I have PLENTY of time this summer to get back to it.

Have you ever had ART or Graston?

What have you been up to this June? Any exciting plans for the rest of the summer?


OOFOS OMG Shoe Review!

Disclaimer: I received a pair of OOFOS OMG Shoes 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!

Happy Friday!

As we head into the weekend (usually a great time for some R&R), I wanted to share with you all my thoughts on the OOFOS OMG shoe which I was sent to test out and review as a Bibrave ambassador.

OOFOS OMG Shoe ReviewOOFOS is known for their recovery footwear and frankly, I’m glad that a company has started paying more attention to this. As runners, we’re only wearing our running sneakers for a small fraction of the day and then we’re putting on other footwear that are probably not the best for our feet (*cough cough… flip flops).

OOFOS is different from the other ‘squishy’ types of shoes on the market in that it is made with a special foam that absorbs 37% more shock than other types of shoe foam. I actually got to see a little demonstration of this when I was at The Running Event where they dropped 2 golf balls side by side on pieces of foam, 1 from OOFOS and the other a different brand. When the golf ball hit the OOFOS foam, it barely bounced at all while the other one bounced a good 2-3 times. That’s because OOFOS was absorbing the shock.

After I’ve gone for a 12-15 mile long run on the weekends, I want nothing more than for my feet to be totally babied. By that point, I’ve already put enough stress on them. Slipping on OOFOS feels fantastic and SO much better than a regular pair of slippers or flip-flops.

The weeks leading up to the Fast Half had me running pretty high mileage and some tough workouts. I wanted to take care of my feet and keep them in good shape for my race, so I just decided to wear the OOFOS OMG shoe to work! I couldn’t really have pulled that off with their sandals this time of year given how crappy the weather in Boston has been.

OOFOS OMG Shoe ReviewHere’s a few more specific notes on my experience with the OOFOS OMG shoe:

  • Fit was true to size. I’m generally a 9.5-10 in regular shoes and a 10.5 in running sneakers. I went with a size 10 and they fit comfortably (both with and without socks).
  • I wore them a lot when I first got them with no problems at all. On maybe the 4th day wearing them, I did get a tiny blister on my heel from the shoe rubbing, but this does happen to me a lot with flats or certain sneakers.
  • I wouldn’t call these the most fashion-forward shoe… They’re pretty plain and if I were to see them in a store, I wouldn’t pick them out for myself. But, the black style I got does pretty much go with everything and I can wear them to my office without looking too silly.
  • They really do feel insanely comfortable in the way they cradle your arches and absorb the shock of your steps.
  • Color choice: currently, the OOFOS OMG shoes only come in black, gray, and a neon yellow. I’d love to see more options become available down the road.
  • Cost: $120. Yes, these are a little pricey, but it is funny how as runners, we wouldn’t even bat an eyelash about spending that on a pair of running shoes. When I look at it that way, it kind of makes sense that you should pay that much for a great recovery shoe.
  • Overall, I really do think these are a useful pair of shoes for a runner to add to their arsenal. I’m stoked to have a pair myself as I know the mileage will start picking up again soon as I dive back into marathon training for Philly!

OOFOS OMG shoe reviewBrady would recover in the OOFOS OMG shoe too if they made a version for dogs.

What are your favorite recovery techniques? Have you tried OOFOS before?


The Fast Half Recap

Happy Monday!

This past weekend, I ran my half marathon redemption race, the Fast Half. After missing my goal at the Half at the Hamptons, I had been eager to find another half a few weeks later to give the PR another shot.

The weather was absolutely perfect this time around – low 50s and overcast. There was a breeze, but it was nowhere near the 20+ mph headwinds I was contending with at the Hamptons. Mentally, I felt ready. I felt like I had learned my lessons from the Half at the Hamptons, and I was ready to hop aboard the pain train once again.

The start/finish was at the Hamilton-Wenham regional high school, about an hour’s drive for me. I showed up about an hour early and had no issue parking, getting my bib, and using the porta-potty. While doing my warm-up, I also discovered another bathroom open to the public around the back of the school, which I was able to use a couple more times without having to wait in any lines – SCORE. 🙂

Before I knew it, it was 9 am and everyone was lining up at the start. It was a pretty small race and I was able to get a good position near-ish to the front. And then, we were off!

The goal was to go out a touch slower than I had at the Half at the Hamptons and to run very comfortable through Mile 6, at which point things would start to get tough.

I settled into an easy rhythm, enjoying the scenery and the gentle downhill of the first few miles. Miles 1-3 were 7:53, 7:53, and 7:54. Right on target. I had a group of the same runners who I was pretty much sticking with through these miles and it felt good having the company.

After the first 5k, I knew it was time to push a little bit harder. I was still feeling really comfortable and miles were ticking by like clockwork. I took my first GU and was able to get it down relatively easily. I had kind of struggled with my nutrition in March so it was a relief to have this go smoothly this time around. Mile 4 I hit in 7:48.

For the next couple miles, I worked on trying to maintain this slightly fast pace as we entered more of the rolling hills. Mile 4-5 featured a decent climb and I was happy to come away with a 7:51 split for the mile. Mile 6-7 I knew was going to be a tough one. It’s pretty much uphill for the whole mile. I focused on remembering what my coach had told me – “You are fit enough to recover on the downhills.” I reminded myself of the Groton Road Race where I had run 7:30-7:45 pace on substantial hills. I ended up squeaking out an 8:01 split for the mile. A bit slower than I wanted, but not as bad as I had worried it would be.

I told myself that the worst of the hills were over and now I could get to work at dialing the pace down again. Unfortunately, there really were plenty more hills coming my way. Mile 8 I was able to recover a bit running a 7:49. Still slower than what I realistically wanted to be running at this time in the race though.

Mile 9 I hit in 8:05. I remember a couple of small climbs during this mile, plus I took my second GU at this time. I know I was 100% feeling the strain at this point. I knew my original goal of 1:41 was out the window, but I had to hold on if I was going to still squeak out a PR. I couldn’t let myself fall apart the way I did before.

Miles 10 and 11 I hit in 7:53 and 7:51. Again, slower than what I had really hoped for, but not terrible in the grand scheme of things.

And then the wheels fell off….

I tried to focus on sticking with a girl in a purple shirt who I had caught up to over the last mile who was looking strong. Maybe she just looked strong because I felt like crap though, I’m not sure. I tried to concentrate on my breathing and I tried really hard to just not give up on myself. Never have 2 miles felt so EFFING long though. I hit Mile 12 in 8:14 and Mile 13 in 8:09. No bueno.

As I came around the final bend and entered the school parking lot, I saw the clock read 1:44 and I sprinted as hard as I could across the finish, so glad to be DONE.

Fast Half MarathonSo I got my PR, but only by about a minute or so. I’m happy to have PR’ed, but also slightly frustrated that I lost pace so badly in the last 2 miles. If I could have kept it in the 7:50s at least, my average pace would probably have been around a 7:51 for a 1:43 finish. Yes, I’m agonizing over seconds here, but I feel like those last 2 miles pretty much botched an otherwise solid race.Fast Half Marathon Race Recap

But the other thing I keep remind myself is that this race really was not all that flat and fast. Here is what my Garmin captured as the elevation profile from this course versus the map they put on the race website.

Fast Half Elevation Profile

And the elevation profile they post on their website-

Fast Half Elevation

Yes, the general gist is the same, although I think it’s fair to say that they selected a scale and width of the line to smooth out some of the other smaller hills that were in between the big climbs.

I also thought it was interesting looking at Strava’s grade-adjusted pace data from the run.

Notice Mile 7 where I actually ran an 8:01 – my grade-adjusted pace would have been a 7:41.

Overall, I think this just proves to me how much choosing the right course matters when you’re racing. No, I can’t avoid hills entirely (though I definitely wish I could), but you do need to take them into consideration when selecting goal races.

I know my fitness is there. I am so much stronger than I was back in November when I first joined McKirdy Trained, and that’s exciting. Yes, this was a small squeaker of a PR, but that just means there will be more records to be set down the road.

No, I am not hunting down another half marathon to race this summer though. I am ready for a nice break from the half marathon (and a short break from running) to let my body recover before diving into whatever is next.

 


Goal Race COMPLETED + Recovery Footwear

Disclaimer: I received a pair of OOFOS OMG Shoes 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!

Hello, happy Monday!

Hope you all had a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend! While I did go home, my family and I kept it very low key. My mom is still dealing with her injury (which seems to actually be a spinal issue instead of the original hamstring pull we thought it was…) and she told us she’d rather celebrate Mother’s Day later on when she is feeling better.

I ran my goal half marathon on Saturday! I’ve got a race recap ready to go for ya, I’ll be sharing that later this week.

Fast Half Marathon Race RecapTo be perfectly frank, I’m glad it’s over. It was a long training cycle and I am ready to reduce the mileage and let my body recover. Plus, I kind of forgot how freaking hard half marathons are to race. I was thinking to myself how I never wanted to run another half marathon ever again during the last couple miles.

I know that won’t be the case, but I was feeling pretty strongly about it at the time. 😉

My body and feet were feeling pretty beat up after the race, so I was happy to have a new recovery shoe from OOFOS to slip on afterwards!

OOFOS OMG shoe

I received these shoes a week or two ago through my Bibrave partnership, and I have honestly been LOVING them. I first tried OOFOS when I picked up a pair of their sandals at The Running Event in December. They became my go-to pair of shoes post-run pretty much immediately thereafter, and when the opportunity came up to test a pair of their shoes, I jumped at it. I’ll post a full review later this week.

How did you celebrate Mother’s Day weekend? Did anyone else race this past weekend?


Run Fast Eat Slow Post #8: Spelt Banana Bread

Hello there!

It has been WAY too long since I’ve done a Run Fast Eat Slow recipe post. My mom and I have still been cooking our way through it, we’re just not always on top of getting the blog posts written (e.g., we eat the food before taking any photos…)

(Weekend activities – reading the new Runners World, cooking from Run Fast Eat Slow, some light weight exercises)

This past weekend, I finally got my act together and was ready to do some cooking. I had a couple of bananas that were way overripe so it was pretty much the perfect excuse to try the Spelt Banana Bread (pg. 183).

The recipe only uses a quarter cup of sugar and no vegetable oil, which makes it a little different from typical banana bread recipes (though it does have a whole stick of butter). It also calls for spelt flour. I had all-purpose baking flour on hand, so I decided that would be good enough, though I would be curious to try it with the spelt to see how that changes the taste/texture.

Run Fast Eat Slow Banana Bread

The recipe was pretty quick and easy. I had some dates and walnuts on hand so I mixed those in as well.

Run Fast Eat Slow Banana BreadI sampled a piece right away – SO. GOOD. I’ve been having to pace myself because I could probably eat the whole loaf in 2 days. It’s banana bread, so that’s like the ultimate carbo-loading food right? Perfect for my half marathon tomorrow!

Another Run Fast Eat Slow success! I’d definitely recommend giving this one a try for when you’re craving some yummy banana bread goodness.

Have a wonderful weekend! Have you cooked up anything good lately?


1 Week Till Race Day!

Welp, here we go again. The Fast Half is this coming weekend, on Saturday. Typically, I prefer Sunday races, but I’m actually kind of looking forward to getting this one done and then being able to relax the rest of the weekend, rather than worrying about the race (I don’t usually get nervous for races at all, but going for a PR does add another level of pressure.)

Overall, things have been going pretty well running-wise with a couple of small hiccups. I noticed a couple weeks ago that I had some tightness in my Achilles that persisted for the first mile or so of my run before subsiding. I’m no stranger to aches and pains, so I wouldn’t have thought much of this… apart from the fact that it became consistent. For the past couple weeks, that tightness/discomfort has always been there for the start of my runs. It’s not terribly painful and I have been able to run through it, but it’s been a cause for concern.

I tried to book an appointment to get into see the chiropractor my mom was seeing for a while but he didn’t have any openings until JUNE. Not super helpful. But I’ve been doing various exercises (heel drops, ankle circles, wobble board moves) and those seem to be helping, as it hasn’t felt as tight on the past couple of runs lately. So maybe I dodged the bullet? Who knows… I was happy I was able to complete my last hard workout this past week. 2 mile warm-up followed by 2 times 12 minutes @ 7:32, 3 minutes @6:56 with 3 minute recoveries. I ran early in the morning and I was a little nervous I wouldn’t feel awake enough to hit those paces, but I was almost spot-on.

Half Marathon Training

Getting to see this sunrise was another AWESOME bonus.

Obviously, I’ve been weather stalking like a crazy person, even since we got inside the 10-day forecast window. Originally, they were saying 60s and rainy but now it’s looking like a high of 55 with afternoon showers. Honestly, I hope it doesn’t change too much because that would be PERFECT. Warm enough that I won’t freeze my face off the way I did at Half at the Hamptons but definitely not hot.

Half at the Hamptons

I’ve also been obsessively studying the elevation profile.

Fast Half

It looks like my first challenge will be just after Mile 4, then Mile 6-7 will be tough. 7-8 will have some climbing but it doesn’t look too dramatic. Fortunately, it looks like the end of the race will have more downs than ups. Is it going to be easy? Absolutely not. But I’m happy to at least know what I’m in for. I hadn’t been able to find any elevation maps for the Half at the Hamptons, and so that had turned into a nasty surprise.

Half at the Hamptons

Woof, that’s a big climb.

Anyway, that’s pretty much where I’m at! This week, it’s just about taking it easy, upping my carb intake just slightly, and keeping calm.

Bring on half marathon #18!


A Killer 10k and Feeling Confident

Hey guys, happy Tuesday!

I went home this past weekend to visit my family and run a local 10k, the Groton Road Race. It’s put on by the running club that my mom and I first joined when we decided to train for our first half marathon. I was away at college at the time and my mom wanted to find some people to run with while I was gone. I remember feeling slightly intimidated by everyone in the club who seemed so much more advanced in their running, but of course, everyone turned out to be SUPER nice and welcoming. And here we are 5 years later and I’m no longer training for my first half marathon but my 18th!!

The plan for the 10k was to include it as part of a longer run and workout. 4 miles beforehand, followed by the 10k (splits I was aiming for were 2 miles at 8 min pace, 2 at 7:45 and finishing 2 at 7:30). Then 2 miles cool-down for a total of 12 for the day. I knew the course had some rolling hills, which so does the Fast Half, so I was excited to see how I’d handle running those paces with some challenging elevation.

The race didn’t start until 11:50 (SO LATE!!) so I was able to sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast, and head off to run my 4 miles with plenty of time to spare. I did it on a rail trail near the start of the 10k. I haven’t run on a rail trail in a while and I forgot how much I enjoy them! There’s nothing like a flat, paved trail through shady woods for running some comfortable, easy miles. 🙂 The first 4 miles weren’t very interesting, apart from the fact that I kept catching myself running a little too fast as I got excited thinking about the 10k to come. I knew that was a good sign and I felt ready to push.

I finished my 4 miles with some time to spare before the start of the 10k so I was able to rehydrate (I used nuun performance mix with water which was yummy and seemed to work really well). The race was bustling since they offer a tots trot, 2k fun run, 5k and 10k. There were 2 food trucks (Jamaican food and cupcakes which I was totally eyeing).

Finally, it was time to line up! Right on time, we were off. The race started on the track at the local middle school before running off onto the roads. It was fun and I was definitely excited because I found myself running a 7:17 pace through the first quarter mile or so… Whoops. I made myself slow down, knowing there would be plenty of time to push the pace later on. I hit mile 1 in 8:03, so mission accomplished.

Groton Road RaceAs we went into Mile 2, there was a nice series of ups and downs. While I always talk about hating running hills, I think I kind of forgot how much fun it is to run fast downhill. I tried to think about the talk I had heard Ryan Hall give about running Boston and how you shouldn’t lean back when running downhill because it’s basically like using your quads as brakes and will really beat you up in the long term. Obviously, this wasn’t a marathon but I knew I still had plenty of hills ahead of me and I wanted to save my legs as much as possible. I hit Mile 2 in 7:57.

I knew things were going to get interesting in Mile 3. I felt like I had been running pretty comfortably aiming for 8 minute pace during the first 2 miles and I knew that I was going to have to start pushing. Early into this mile I took a GU to practice fueling at a faster pace since this was something I struggled with at the Half at the Hamptons. I was able to get it down without incident. I felt like I held pretty close to the 7:45 mark throughout this mile, except for when I grabbed water at the first water station. I didn’t stop running, but I think I slowed a little and lost a few seconds. Mile 3 was a 7:50.

I think maybe the water was just what I needed or I was finally hitting my stride at this pace though because I felt STRONG through the next mile. The hills continued to be hard, but I never found myself mentally beating myself up on them. Every time I started to think about slowing down, I remembered back to the post I just wrote on mental toughness and how I had promised to fight during the Fast Half. In my mind, this 10k had become a dress rehearsal for that race and I did not want to let myself down. I hit Mile 4 in 7:39.

With 2 miles to go, I knew things were going to get tough, but this was the exciting part. After watching so many people cruise by me in the first 2 miles, I was finally catching up to and passing runners. Right around this time I caught up to a runner from our club who was running right around 7:30 pace with another older gentleman. I set my sights on them and focused on just sticking with them. There was an awesome downhill section here and I really just let my stride open up. Mile 5 was 7:31.

I knew the last mile was going to be a grind. In talking with some club members who had run the 10k in years past, I knew this was one of the worst of the hills and it was indeed a doozy. But I still felt strong. I was so proud of the splits I had been hitting up till this point and I didn’t want the last mile to ruin it (perks of being a perfectionist I guess…) Just at the start of Mile 5 the course rejoined with the end of the 5k runners who were taking a more leisurely pace. Luckily, I tucked in behind my runner club friend who was very vocal and good at clearing a path for us so I didn’t have to slow down too much. Mile 6 was 7:37. Not exactly perfect, but still my second fastest split of the race. I ran the last .2 at a 6:56 pace to finish in 48:16, an average pace of 7:44/mile. My watch informed me this was a new 10k PR! I also found out later I got 4th in my age group. Not too shabby for a workout!

I happily guzzled a water, ate a couple of orange slices and a homemade cookie while I chatted with a few friends from the club who had run the 5k. After I had caught my breath and hydrated a bit more, I headed out for 2 cool-down miles.

Overall, I loved this race. I had volunteered at it in the past, but never run it and I was actually surprised with how much I loved the course and with how many spectators there were. I felt like this was great test for the Fast Half coming up, and I think I passed. I never gave up on the hills and I felt strong running 7:30-7:45 pace. With the taper coming up fast, this was just the confidence boost I needed.

How was your weekend?