Getting Ready to Run

Hello.  This is still Marie.  Nora continues to be super busy with work and the final weeks of training for the Baystate Marathon. But you will hear from her soon!

Meanwhile a little update from me.  By this time next week, I am hoping to have run for the first time in 3 years. I’m excited but also a little scared. I know I am starting this process again from the very bottom rung.  Even lower, I guess because I do not have that 40 year old body I had at the beginning of my running journey.

When I started running, I would run a mile from my house and then walk the mile back.  For a while, I was pretty happy with this. Then one day, after the mile run, I said to myself, “I’m a healthy 40 year old woman, there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to run 2 miles…” So I did. I worked my way up slowly, but some of the milestones are still very vivid. Like the day I ran my first 8 miles, doing this run on the Battle Road in Minuteman Park. I finished at the visitors center overlooking the beautiful garden and the Old North Bridge. For me, that day it felt like I had finished a marathon and I texted my husband, “you are married to a freakin’ Amazon Queen!”

It was soon after that that Nora expressed an interest in running longer distances – possibly even a half-marathon. And thus began our crazy love affair with running – and this blog.

So we will see how things go as I try to get back to something which had become a pretty big part of my life. In the meanwhile, I am still playing around with the ten or so programs my Boston Scientific rep made up for me. I am trying to see which ones get me through the night, (still some issues with this) and which ones are good for sitting for extended periods of time. I am trying to get used to the sensations, and even though it feels weird at times, there are also periods where I completely forget about it.

So the journey begins: I will keep meeting with Boston Scientific rep to tweak the programs, and I will keep in touch with their patient ambassadors for info and encouragement. And I will try to stay positive and I will be sure to celebrate all the milestones – even the little ones. Because I am still an Amazon Queen…

My friend and artist Eileen F. painted this picture of me walking on our trip to Cuba last fall… so I am on the road…

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?

Happy Monday everyone!

Can you believe the Boston Marathon is EXACTLY 1 WEEK AWAY?? No, I’m not running it, but I am looking forward to doing the BAA 5k on Saturday and spending many hours wandering around the expo. I’m also super psyched that I will finally get to meet my coach, Mary and a whole bunch of the other McKirdy Trained athletes who will be in town for the marathon.

How much running/marathon-related conversation is too much for a weekend?Exactly.

As I mentioned a couple posts ago, I’m diving right back into half marathon training to give the PR a shot in mid-May. I was pretty disappointed after the Half at the Hamptons, but things continue to improve.

I was listening to a podcast the other day (Lindsey Hein’s I’ll Have Another) and on it, she was interviewing Teal Burrell, an Olympic Trials qualifier in the marathon (if you’ve never checked out Teal’s blog before, I highly recommend it!). Teal’s story is pretty incredible – she went from running a 4 hour marathon to a 2:42 – so freaking fast. But what really struck me in her interview, was when she talked about the races that went wrong. She talked about putting in the paces and training and knowing she was capable of a sub-3 hour marathon, but then things wouldn’t go as planned on race day, and she’d come up short (and this happened multiple times). The marathon (and arguably half marathon too) are definitely races where every little thing has to line up just right in order to run to your best ability. The part that really hit home for me was when she talked about trying to remain confident in your running after missing your goal. The training is all there, the fitness is there, you just don’t have that stark proof of a race time to validate to yourself what you’re capable of. And of course, you have to have the courage to go back and keep trying again and again.

Yes, yes, yes.

I think it’s finally hitting me that while I didn’t run the time I wanted at the Half at the Hamptons, my fitness is still 1000 times improved since before I was working with my coach. Do I have a new PR yet? No, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a faster runner than when I began this whole process. My workout this past weekend wasn’t anything too crazy as we’re still building things back up, but the goal was a 2-mile warm-up followed by 3 x 1 mile at 8:01 pace with 60 second recoveries followed by a 2-mile cooldown.

Half Marathon TrainingPost run playtime w/ Brady.

I ended up running a 7:58, 7:48, and 7:44 for my goal pace miles and I felt solid. I know it’s not always a good idea to run faster than target paces, but in this case, my legs felt good. I could tell I was working, but it didn’t feel crazy fast like these paces used to so I decided to go with it. Like I said, this wasn’t one of the harder workouts, but it’s something I know I would have struggled with in 2016.

So my goal throughout April and into May is to continue to trust the process and to have faith in myself. Who knows what will happen on race day. It could be 80 degrees and humid. But I can’t control the weather, so no point worrying about it. For now, I’ll continue to focus on the workouts and getting comfortable being uncomfortable.

How was your weekend? Anyone else going to be in town for the Boston Marathon this week?

Life Goes On

Today’s post is another guest post from my mom regarding her injury/life lately. Enjoy 🙂

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, but whenever I felt ready I would have a bad day, and I worried that this post would turn into a whiny, negative rant. But life goes on and now I feel I really just need to make the attempt.

The hamstring injury that slowed me down all summer finally stopped me cold in September. After weeks spent in pain going to PT and even acupuncture without any progress, I finally started going to a sports chiropractor in Boston. (Nora found him for me and I am pretty darn grateful!) After one visit he told me I should start walking and even to hit the gym for some easy elliptical workouts. [For folks in the Boston area who might be interested, the clinic is Wellness in Motion.]

After three months of not being able to do anything that wouldn’t aggravate the pain in my lower back/ buttocks, I laced up and hit the road. I was sad not to be running but it felt good to be outside and moving again. I still have to be careful.  Too much walking will aggravate my injury but at least now I know that the treatment I am getting is appropriate and that things are going to improve.

Last Saturday, I walked 3 miles of my old 5 mile running route. There had been some changes: life goes on even while you sit at home for three months. Two small houses had been completely torn down and the new super-sized ones were well under construction.  I had fantasized about owning one of these small cottages. It was right on the lake and I thought our lab, Brady, would enjoy leaping into the water from his front yard. And I would love the view.

Two houses away from the little cottage I had coveted in another tiny house, there lived an older, somewhat standoffish gentleman. As I ran past, I would see him sitting on his porch in all kinds of weather, smoking a cigarette. I began to say hello. At first he would not even reply to my greetings and Nora discouraged me from continuing on the grounds that my behavior might seem intrusive. But I said I would keep saying hello and I was confident that one day he would answer. Naturally, he did respond and in time our conversations lengthened from “good morning “, to introducing ourselves, to full on chatting, usually about the weather or sports. His name was Brian.

Passing his house on that Saturday he was not on the porch. This wasn’t unusual: it was a cold January day so he would minimize his time sitting out there. Still I did notice that the Oxygen in Use sign was not in the window. I wondered about it, but nothing else seemed amiss.  I walked on, probably wondering how much longer it would be before I could actually run …

Later on that day I learned that my “running route friend” had passed away in October, just weeks after my last run. He was only 56.

I don’t remember if I saw him on that last run, on September 12 . I did the five mile loop four times and imagine that in the course of those 3+ hours, I must have… But here’s what I know. If he was there on his porch, I definitely stopped to say hello. We exchanged pleasantries, probably about the weather. (I remember it was hot!) And now I will miss seeing him there on his porch, smiling with his coffee and cigarette. And if his little house is torn down and replaced with a huge  modern monstrosity, I will still think of him as I run past.

I feel a bit like the thread of this post has gotten away from me. I had intended to post about my recovery but I seem to have missed the target, so to speak. Still, I’m going to stop here. My “recovery post” will be for another time. Life goes on and I need to go for a walk.

No questions today – hope everyone’s week is going well!

Happy New Year + A look Back at 2016

Happy New Year everyone!

I have been meaning to write up this post for a while, but as usual, life got in the way. Anyways, it’s New Years Eve as I’m writing this, which seems like as good a time as any to look back at the past year.

This was the first year where I had to juggle the responsibilities of a full-time job, a hectic travel schedule, and training for numerous races. Overall, I’m pretty proud of how it all went. Yes, there were moments of stress and mornings where I desperately wanted to sleep in rather than log another 5 miles (and also mornings where the bed won). Somehow, I got through it all and ran 2 marathons, shaving a total of around 45 minutes off from my first attempt at the distance. There were also PRs in the half marathon and 5k.

While my mom and I were training for the Delaware Marathon, we ran the Augusta Half Marathon in February in Georgia. Clearly the marathon training had me in great shape, and I was able to take 3 minutes off my time to bring my PR down to a 1:45. My mom got 3rd in her age group at that race which was the icing on the cake.

Augusta Half MarathonIn March, we both ran Stu’s 30k in Clinton, Mass. For both my mom and I, this was the first year we ran the whole 30k instead of doing the relay option. HOLY HILLS! It was probably one of the most challenging races we’ve completed (and my mom may have sworn off ever doing this race again), but overall we ran really well and I look back on this race with fond memories (probably because the pain from those stupid rolling hills has faded from memory).

2016 Stu's 30KIn May, there was the infamous Delaware Marathon. It was not really the marathon result I had hoped for and it wasn’t the best day for my mom either. But I think it taught me a valuable lesson. You’ve got to respect the distance and run what you are trained for. Sometimes you have to set your ego aside to figure out what that pace is. My aggressive pace coupled with the warmer temps was a recipe for disaster. I’ve decided I’d rather accept a slower time and be able to enjoy the post race party than push myself to the point of heat stroke and end up in the ER (#LifeLessons).

Delaware Marathon Race RecapJune and July were relatively quiet with no big races. However, in July my mom talked me into signing up to run the Baystate Marathon in October. At the time, I was pretty nervous about stepping back into marathon training after what had happened in Delaware, but I am so grateful she managed to convince me to go for it.

In August, my mom and I ran the Hobble Creek Half Marathon. While we did cross off another state, the name of this race proved to be a bad omen. What had been a niggling pain for my mom turned into a full-blown hamstring injury after all the miles of downhill running. While we had a fun vacation in Utah, I’m afraid the memories will always be tainted by the aftermath of this race.

Delicate ArchSeptember was full of long runs as I went through my final month of training for Baystate. I hit my highest mileage week ever. My Strava data shows September was my biggest month of mileage for the year. Note: I didn’t start using Strava until late April of this year so I don’t have a complete picture of the data unfortunately.

Monthly Mileage 2016

In October, I ran Baystate and completed my 3rd marathon! This race was HUGE for me. I PR’ed again, running a 3:53. That was nothing compared to the way I felt during this race though. My previous 2 marathons were big struggles for me, especially during the last 6-7 miles. In both of those marathons, I finished thinking I would never run a marathon again. Baystate was the first time I felt in control and strong for 26.2 miles. I never had to walk, AND I managed a small negative split.

Baystate Marathon 2016 Race RecapYou know it’s a good marathon when you’re actually smiling. This race has given me the confidence to continue with marathoning and I fully plan on running another in 2017.

The past couple months, I have slowly been building my mileage again in preparation for the Half at the Hamptons. It’s been a long time since I’ve done some targeted training for the half marathon and I’m excited to see the results.

Final stats of 2016:

States we’ve Crossed Off: 3 (Delaware, Georgia, Utah)

Marathons: 2

Toenails Lost: 2 (notice the correlation between lost toenails and marathons…)



PRs: in the 5k, half, and marathon

Pairs of Shoes: 5 (I think)

Total Miles: 1,541.9 – The data below is from Strava. I switched over to Strava from MapMyRun mid-April. I went back to my MapMyRun account and was able to see that I ran 405.1 miles during those first 4 months of 2016. This mileage is probably a little short since I didn’t log treadmill runs before I got my new Garmin. Hoping I can hit 2,000 miles in 2017!


Top Blog Posts of 2016: The 4-Week Half Marathon Plan (really more for how to finish a half in 4 weeks when you have a super busy schedule… not a training plan for PRs!!), Asics Gel-Electro 33 Review (this shoe has been discontinued so unfortunately, I don’t think this post will stay popular much longer!), Why I Switched From MapMyRun to Strava, About Me (thanks for being curious!)


All in all, it was a very successful year. Yes, it had its ups and downs, but most years do. Here’s to hoping 2017 brings even bigger and better things. 🙂

Hope everyone had a wonderful New Years Eve! How was your 2016? Any big goals for 2017? 



Happy Holidays + My Moment of Fame!!

Hello there! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and are enjoying getting ready to ring in the New Year!

I had a great time catching up with my family, going for some runs in the old neighborhoods, and playing around in the snow with Brady. 🙂

2 Generations RunningOne of the best surprise gifts came for me a couple days BEFORE Christmas. I’ve become a big fan of listening to podcasts on my easy runs (kind of like having a very chatty friend along for a run!) and the Runners World podcast is one of my favorites. Well, a few months ago, I had run into David Willey, editor-in-chief of Runners World at the Fenway Spartan Race. I had checked him in at registration, recognizing him partway through the process and realizing they were recording the podcast at the time! Ever since then, I’d been eagerly waiting for the Spartan Race-themed Runners World podcast episode, wondering if our little encounter would make the cut!

Runners World PodcastWell, it did! I had just finished my run and was stretching on my deck when I realized I WAS IN THE EPISODE!!! I couldn’t help but break out in a big smile (as uncomfortable as I was hearing how high-pitched my voice sounded). My dad later commented that he looked out the window and saw me grinning like an idiot and couldn’t understand what kind of ‘Runner’s high’ I was experiencing.

Smile! You're in a podcast!If you want to listen in on my little moment of fame, you can fast forward to minute 53:20 of the Runners World podcast episode 34, “The Spartan Way”.

Do you listen to podcasts? While running? Do you have any New Years plans? I’m thinking of running a 10k on New Years morning (one of the very first races I ever ran!)

5ks vs. Marathons

I have run a lot of 5ks recently (even excluding the Turkey Trot mishap). There was the Boston River Run, then the Indie 5k at The Running Event in Orlando, FL (I skipped the recap on this one… There wasn’t much exciting about it to be totally honest), and this past weekend, I ran the Yulefest 5k (though I used this as more of a workout and less of a race).

Vazee 2090 Review | 2 Generations RunningAfter all these races, I had a bit of a realization.

5ks are really, freaking hard.

The 5k I ran in Orlando was PANCAKE flat, though hot and humid and I was seriously wiped out by Mile 2. It was such a struggle to keep running, which seems ridiculous given that the race was only 3.1 miles.

As crazy as it sounds, I think I prefer the slow burn of 26.2 miles to the intense blast of pain that comes with racing a 5k. Yes, the marathon beats your legs up more (and I have yet to lose a toenail from a 5k), but there is something about ticking off the miles in a marathon that makes me feel almost superhuman strong (as tired as you are by mile 20).

Baystate Marathon 2016 Race RecapI have yet to really race a 5k where I did not feel like I was at death’s door by the end.

It’s funny because people automatically assume that it’s the “less serious” runners who are running 5ks for the most part. But running a really good, fast 5k is arguably much harder than running a decent marathon time. And this is definitely something I struggle with. I was really happy with my performance at Baystate. I’m proud of running a 3:53, and I’m also 100% confident that I can improve on that. It’s harder to feel that way about the 5k, when I feel like I am clawing tooth and nail to take a few seconds off.

The 5k brings back memories of the first time I raced the 400 in high school (one lap around the track). I took off fast and kept up fairly well with the older girls at first, until the final 150 meters where my legs just locked up. I felt like I was still running hard but to everyone else, it looked like I was jogging it in.

Obviously, everyone tends to prefer things they are good at and I won’t lie that that probably plays a big part in my preference. My marathon time has improved in huge jumps over 3 attempts, but with the 5k, it’s been quite the challenge to shave off SECONDS, and I have raced more 5ks than I can count.

I know I’ll get there in my 5k, it’s just a question of putting in the work and training.

So shoutout to all the 5k runners out there! Props to you for crushing it in a race that doesn’t get nearly the credit it deserves. And if you haven’t read Lauren Fleshman’s article, 10 Reasons the 5k is Freaking Awesome, you’ve GOT to read it. 🙂

Happy weekend and try to stay warm out there! It is going to be in the low teens in New England this weekend and I am pretty much ready to spend the entire weekend curled up under a blanket. 🙂

Half Marathon Training Has Begun!

I ran my current half marathon PR (1:45) at the Augusta Half Marathon back in February. That race was essentially part of training for the Delaware Marathon – I wasn’t following a specific half marathon plan, though I felt very fit going into it from marathon training. To date, this is still one of my favorite races.

2016 Augusta Half MarathonWhile I have 16 half marathons under my belt, most I trained for without any real time goals. When I first started out and my mom and I ran our first half, it was all about finishing. While I did start to think about faster times with each subsequent race, I would say I was pretty disorganized about it. Generally, I would just look up what pace I needed to run to hit a PR and then hope for the best on race day. Maybe I would try to do 2-3 runs at that pace during training. But it was pretty low-key.

That’s easy to get away with when you’re first starting out and able to make huge jumps in progress just as you become more experienced as a runner, but it gets harder as your times get faster. For example, between my first and second half marathons, I shaved 10 minutes off from a 2:15 to a 2:05. For me to shave 10 minutes off my current PR, and run a 1:35, I would have to run a 7:15/mile pace for 13.1 miles. That’s not going to happen by accident.

First Half Marathon | 2 Generations RunningSerious throwback to our first HALF MARATHON EVER!! I am running in soccer shorts. Clearly still have a lot to learn.

Baystate Marathon 2016 Race RecapLost the soccer shorts and added compression sleeves. I finally look like I know what I’m doing. 😉


I’ve already noticed that my PRs are shrinking in size with each race. From my previous personal best in the half to Augusta was a 3-minute drop. My first marathon to my second was a 40-minute improvement (26.2 miles makes for a lot of opportunity to make up time!). But my second to my third was a 4-minute improvement.

What all of this means is that at this point in my running career, PRs are only going to come with clear and goal-oriented training. I can’t wing it anymore. With that in mind, I’ve picked my next half marathon where I’ll be gunning for a new PR – the Half at the Hamptons on March 5th in Hampton, NH. It won’t be a new state unfortunately, but sometimes it is easier to go for a big goal without adding the stress of travel on top of it. And this will be a big goal. Because I am hoping to break 1:40 for the first time.

Wish me luck!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow – who will also be running a Turkey Trot???


What’s Next?

Hello and Happy Monday!

I hope you all had a good weekend. I ran this weekend for the first time since Baystate! In all honesty, I really probably shouldn’t have (see below). But I was so antsy to test out my beautiful new Garmin that finally came in the mail!

Garmin Forerunner 235I opted to get the Forerunner 235 because I really wanted the wrist-based heart rate monitoring. It also doubles as a smart watch/activity tracker which I am loving so far. I had the Garmin Forerunner 10 previously, which worked really well for me for just shy of 2 years but lately, it had been showing signs of being on the decline. I had it fully charged for the marathon and it started giving me low battery warnings 3 and a half hours in! I was ready to upgrade anyway so it was kind of good timing.

I also recently received a pair of Legend Compression socks through my ambassadorship with Bibrave and I had to test them out too! SO MUCH RUNNING GEAR!

Legend Compression SocksWhile it was a very short run, my initial thoughts on the socks are very positive. I find a lot of compression socks too tight around the toes (which is why I tend to wear sleeves more often), but that wasn’t the case with these ones. I’ll post an in-depth review in the next couple weeks after testing them out a bit more.

So I ran 3 and a half easy miles on Saturday morning (I am finally back to being able to wear closed shoes, although 5 out of 10 of my toenails are a nice, dark shade of purple currently.) And then that afternoon, I was browsing around the internet and discovered the Hansons Coaching podcast! I had heard of the Hansons Marathon Method, but didn’t know they made a podcast so I was excited to check it out. Of course, the first episode I had to listen to was on marathon recovery. And the first point he made was that most runners should take 10 days – 2 weeks off after a marathon (meaning NO running). Whoops. On Sunday, I revised the error of my ways and went to a yoga class instead.

Whoops GifThe good news is that I’ll be traveling for work this week and will be way too busy to even think about running. When I get back, I’ll be past that 2 week mark and ready to dive back into things! Which leads me to my next point –

What’s next?

I’m really looking forward to getting back to working on my speed. With marathon training, I had to really focus my efforts on increasing my mileage and keeping most of my runs in my aerobic zone. That’s all well and good but I feel like I’ve been doing the same thing since last December when I began training for Delaware. Now, all I want to do is get some turn-over back in my legs by focusing on running some miles in the 7:00-7:30 range! Could I even run a mile sub-7 if I tried?? Maybe! I want to crush some 5ks and 10ks. My new watch doesn’t have any of my previous running data and it currently thinks my Fastest Mile is a 9:32 and Longest Run is 3.5 miles. Not gonna lie – I’m irrationally annoyed by this.

Luckily, Boston is a great place for running in the Fall. 🙂 There are 5ks practically every weekend and I am thinking of taking a page out of Hollie’s book and doing a lot of racing over the next few months. I’m considering targeting a half marathon PR in February.

I’m far from being done with marathons. But I’d like to give myself some time to get some speed back and THEN see what I could do in a marathon heading into a training cycle with a stronger foundation.

So that’s the plan in a nutshell for now!

What’s on your calendar for the next few months? Any Garmin fans out there?


3 Lessons Learned From My Third Marathon

Hello again!

First off, thank you all for your kind words! Baystate was definitely a break-through race for me and I’m very lucky to have friends/readers/family like you all to share my stories with!

These past few days I have really been soaking in the whole zero running experience and it has been slightly glorious. It’s also given me time to reflect on what made this marathon so different from my previous two. One of my main reasons for signing up for Baystate was that I wanted to give myself more experience at the marathon distance so that I can continue to learn how to manage the distance and improve in my running. So far, I’ve gone from running a 4:36 (2014) to a 3:57 (May, 2016) to a 3:53 (Fall, 2016). I’ve already seen some huge improvements and I’m confident that I can continue to chip away at these times.

These were the biggest lessons and improvements I saw in this third marathon.

3 Lessons Learned From Marathon #3 | 2 Generations Running1. I picked a goal pace that was representative of my current fitness level. Like many runners, part of the attraction of the marathon for me is aiming for that Boston qualifying time. I went into my training cycle for Delaware with this goal in mind. About halfway through the cycle, I realized this was not realistic for me and I adjusted the target paces of my workouts. However, I was still  amped up about the race and chose a goal pace that was pretty aggressive (for my fitness level at the time). I ran that race stubbornly trying to hang onto that goal pace. In hindsight, I should have been able to tell I was working too hard to maintain that for 26.2 miles, but it took blowing up at Mile 20 to really drive home the message.

With this marathon, I dialed back my expectations in terms of pace. I took an honest look at the paces I was running hard on long runs, and let that information guide my race plan – not my ego. I also picked a pace range (8:45 – 8:55/mile). I remember in Delaware, constantly checking my watch and trying to adjust my pace practically every 2 minutes to stay at my goal. That was not exactly conducive to staying relaxed and mentally strong during the race. The pace range worked really well at Baystate. For the first 3 miles, I kept my pace slower than my goal pace (right around 9:00 min/mile) before easing into the slower end of the range for the next few miles as I warmed up and then I was able to pick it up gradually over the second half. This also led me to negative split the marathon (i.e., I ran the second half 1 minute faster than the first half). Strava published this excellent blog post on negative splitting marathons if you are interested in reading more about it. Strava also announced a challenge in which they have partnered with New Balance to provide Strava users who negative split a marathon with a free pair of sneakers! I’ve applied and hope to be getting a new pair of sneakers sometime in December. 🙂

2016 Baystate MarathonAlong with pace, I kept checking in on my effort levels, asking myself if I felt like I could keep up what I was running for 26.2 miles. If I had done this in Delaware, I probably would have slowed my pace earlier and possibly saved some time I lost during the second half of that race.

2. I incorporated more “fast finish” miles into my long runs during this training cycle. I didn’t aim to do every long run at marathon goal pace for the entire duration, but I did try to pick up the pace during the last 5-6 miles of some of my 15-18 mile runs. Like most first-time marathoners, I used to train my long runs entirely at “LSD” – Long Slow Distance. The more I have read up on different marathon training schools of thought, the more I have realized this approach is flawed when you are aiming for time goals. In my future training cycles, I plan to continue to work on using more race-specific workouts at my goal pace.

3. I got my fueling right this time. In Delaware, I started drinking Gatorade from the aid stations in the second half despite the fact that I had never used Gatorade on any of my training runs. It was getting so warm at the time that I thought I needed the electrolytes, but I think it was probably the Gatorade that had me feeling so queasy and sick to my stomach by Mile 20. This time around, I stuck to my gels (1 GU, 4 Hüma gels). I took one every 5 miles and did them with water from the aid stations. I never felt my energy levels wane in Baystate (not until the last couple of miles at least) and I definitely attribute that to staying on top of my fueling.

While there was only a 4-minute difference between my time in Delaware and my time at Baystate, there was a HUGE difference in how I felt between these two races. Delaware was one of those marathons that made me question whether I would ever run the distance again. I felt horrendous for the last 6 miles, my pace fell way off, and I had to walk stretches of the last few miles. When I crossed the finish line, I had to go straight to the med tent and had a minor case of heat stroke. In Baystate, I never once felt like I had to walk. I felt strong at Mile 20 and even as I got tired by Mile 23, I was mentally strong enough to keep myself pushing forward at my goal pace. Even though I am losing toenails once again, I’m already feeling the itch to run again (and to sign up for my next marathon). I guess third time really is the charm. 🙂

What lessons have you learned from previous races (marathon, half, 5k, whatever!)?