20 Days to Chicago!!!!

Holy crap,

I can’t believe how fast this snuck up. In typical fashion, life got REALLY busy and I haven’t written a blog post in ages. But I’m back. 🙂

Chicago TrainingAs this training cycle begins to wind down, I don’t 100% know what to think. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster. In the time I’ve been training for Chicago I encountered:

  • an achy Achilles (seems like this is likely to keep popping up if I don’t stick to my PT exercises).
  • TWO hamstring scares – one on each leg.
  • a cold that wiped me out during my peak weeks of training.

But I’ve also run the most consistent and highest mileage ever during a marathon training cycle.

Chicago BuildLook at that consistency! That steady build of miles! According to my Garmin, in the past 4 weeks, I’ve averaged 48.2 miles/week. I’ve had one week over 50 miles already and I’m set to run one more big week this week before the real taper begins.

Before Hyannis, I didn’t have time to accumulate this many weeks of steady training (Hyannis was in late Feb looking at the chart). So while I have felt more fatigued, I’m also really excited because I KNOW I’m stronger.

In this cycle, I’ve run two 20-milers and two 18-milers. The first 18 went GREAT. I remember finishing and feeling like, “hey, I bet I could easily go another 2 and hit 20 miles no problem.” The middle 8 miles were supposed to be moderate, about MP + 15 seconds, getting faster towards the end. I hit those splits solidly. Two weeks later, I ran the first 20-miler, a doozy of a workout with a lot of MP miles and faster. I can honestly say, I went into it excited and ready to work. The first two sections of the workout went well, in that I was hitting my goal splits, BUT I could tell that I was working really hard to do so. I was supposed to run 7:30 and 7:15 pace for 2 miles and 1 mile respectively after that, and I came NOWHERE close, slowing down pretty dramatically.

A day or two later, I came down with a pretty rough cold. In hindsight, I think maybe it was already beginning to affect me which was why I struggled so much on that run. The cold lasted longer than I expected and made everything feel really hard – even easy little 6 mile runs. THANKFULLY, I think I’m finally on the mend from that.

All of this to say – that no, this training cycle hasn’t been perfect, but looking back, I do think it’s been really good. During my cold, I think I got a little depressed that everything was feeling so hard and I didn’t know what to think. Now, I can honestly say that I’m excited again. I’m ready to run the streets of Chicago and experience my first World Marathon Major! Haha, it’s definitely going to be different than all of the small-town marathons I’ve run before.

Hyannis MarathonLoved Hyannis, but not exactly many spectators out there!

Oh, and speaking of Marathon Majors – today I get to submit my qualifying time for Boston! My time of 3:32:01 puts me right on the bubble of whether or not I’ll actually get to run in 2019, so honestly it kind of feels like I’m entering a race lottery! I thought I would feel panicky about it, but I honestly don’t. I’d love to run Boston in 2019, but if it doesn’t happen then that’s ok too. If I don’t get in, at least it means I won’t have to train for another marathon through a New England winter! 🙂

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July/August Chicago Training Check-In

Hey there, hope you all had a good weekend!

Mine was (unsurprisingly) filled with running. Marathon training is basically taking over at this point, but I’m ok with it. 🙂

Here’s how my mileage shaped up for the month of July:

 

Chicago Marathon TrainingThe week of 38 miles included a work trip to California for 5 days. I’m pretty happy I managed to get that much running in while on the road. The plan is to keep me in the 40 miles/week range for a while and I’ll probably peak around 50-55 miles in early September.

Another big plus – I MET MY FUNDRAISING GOAL!I was fairly confident I would be able to raise $1500 (the minimum I was required to hit for Team Paws), but I was still a little nervous and I didn’t want to cut it too close to the deadline in mid-September. I’m glad that this is one less thing I have to worry about now!

One thing I AM slightly worried about has been the tightness that popped up in my right hamstring just over a week ago. The week that I was in California, I had been doing some goblet squats after my run and felt a weird twinge in my left hamstring. I immediately backed off and decided to do my long run that weekend at a nice easy pace with no speedwork just to play it safe. That went fine. A few days later, I was feeling 100% back to normal and did a relatively tough speedwork session. I didn’t have any pain throughout the session, but then running that evening with some friends, it felt tight and weird.

Now, a few GOOD things about this since I am becoming a bit of an expert on hamstring pulls. Last year, I had done something similar where I tweaked my hammy doing strength work and then full-on pulled it later in the week during a tough speed session. In that instance, the pain was immediate and I knew I had done something terrible. Even running my easy, slow pace was pretty painful. This time around, there was no acute, ‘Oh sh*t’ moment. I think I was probably compensating for my left hamstring during the speedwork, even though I thought it was completely recovered. That, coupled with a boost in mileage after traveling, seems to have mildly irritated my right hamstring. Mind you – the right hamstring is the side I pulled badly last year, and is in general, my weak side.

I discussed all of this with my coach and we’ve cut out speedwork for a couple weeks until it calms down. Thankfully, I don’t feel it AT ALL running easy, so I’ve been able to keep my mileage up and focus on my good ol’ hamstring rehab exercises.

I’m slightly annoyed with myself BUT I also do feel from my previous experience that this is a truly minor bump in the road. My number 1 goal for Chicago is to get to the starting line healthy. Any time goals I have are second to that.

Couple of other random training things I am going to throw into this mish-mosh of a blog post –

  • At a friend’s suggestion, I took my Team Paws singlet to a tailor to get altered. Before, there was a lot of extra fabric and bagginess under the armpits and I was very concerned about chafing. I got it back early last week and it fits like a dream now. I’ve tested it on a few runs and no chafing whatsoever. **If you’re running a marathon for charity and not super thrilled with the fit of the singlet, I highly recommend taking it to a tailor. I can’t even tell mine was altered and now I’m confident that it will do the job for 26.2 miles come October.**
  • I picked up a fresh pair of sneakers the other day! I went with the On Clouds again. I’m a big fan of this shoe. It’s a lightweight, neutral trainer with a 5 mm heel-toe drop. It’s a little funny looking, but the pods on the sole of the shoe give it just the right amount of cushion. I love it as a training shoe for the Nike Vaporfly 4%s. Those don’t hold up for a ton of mileage so I’m reserving my pair for very important races (like Chicago).

On Running - Cloud

On Running

I think that about sums up my training for the time-being! I’m excited to continue to build in August and get back to my speed sessions soon.


Training Check-In + the Malden 10k!

Happy Monday!

I wanted to pop in quickly to share an update on all things Chicago Marathon-related!

First off, I got my singlet so I can represent Team Paws in October and I am so excited.

Team Paws Chicago Marathon

Fundraising is also going great! I am so SO close to reaching my fundraising goal! Less than $300 to go!! (If you would like to donate, you can visit my page here). Again, HUGE thank you to everyone who has donated! It really means a lot to have so much support.

Now for the training stuff! For the past 3 weeks, my mileage has been hovering right around 40 miles a week. I’m still doing a lot of shorter, faster interval workouts, but I have started getting some marathon pace work in during my long runs, and boy are those workouts fun. My A-goal for Chicago (assuming everything goes well in training and I get a nice weather day) is a 7:45/mile pace. I don’t know if it’s just a confidence thing, but this pace has been feeling a lot more comfortable from the get-go than my 8:00 pace did when I first started training for Philly last summer. Last year, it took quite a while for that pace to feel comfortable and like it could be sustainable for 26.2 miles. Maybe I’m just learning to trust the process, but I feel in my heart that 7:45 is totally doable for me in Chicago. But time will tell!

Speaking of marathon pace miles, yesterday I ran the Malden 10k. My coach had me use it as a workout to do a marathon progression, and I was SO happy to comply. The course had a really challenging uphill pretty much from mile 1.5-2.5 and it was a hot, sticky morning so it would have been a tough day to race hard.

Malden 10k Race RecapThe elevation profile from the course. See?? I was not kidding about that hill!

I did a 3 mile warm-up to tack on some extra miles for the day, and met up with my friend near the start. It was pretty crowded in the corral, but thankfully the pack of runners thinned out quickly. My coach had told me to start out around 8:00-8:10/mile and to cut down from there, just focusing on making each mile faster than the one before it.

Malden 10k Race RecapNot perfect, but pretty darn good! I had looked at the course elevation profile before, and I was a little worried about how the hill was going to affect me, but thankfully it was early enough on that I was able to handle it. And you know what they say – what goes up must come down! Mile 4 had a HUGE downhill section that felt amazing. That 7:22 pace threw off my perfect progression, but it truly felt effortless. Mile 5 was back to reality, but even then I felt really strong and in control running that 7:36 split.

By Mile 6, I definitely got excited. I still had some juice in my legs and I was passing a lot of people which always pumps me up. 🙂

Malden 10kI think my friends were cheering for me here at the finish, which is why I’m smiling even though I’m desperately trying to kick.

Malden 10kOverall, I’m really pleased with how this went. I ran within myself and finished feeling strong and like I could have gone further – and that’s with the hills and humidity! This has me so excited for what’s to come. I’m toying with the idea of doing a half in early August and I think I’m leaning towards doing it. It’s time to knock a few minutes off the half PR!

Hope you have a great week!


Chicago Marathon Training Check-In

Hello hello!

So I didn’t run any races this week, but I thought it would be a good time to check in and update you all both on my fundraising for Team Paws and my base building for the marathon. These are still the early stages since Chicago isn’t until October, but I am still doing plenty of running trying to lay a strong foundation for when the hard workouts come later.

Chicago is my first time running for a charity, and I have to say – fundraising is its own challenge! Props to all the charity runners who raise thousands of dollars for Boston every year. This isn’t easy!! I have to raise $1500 for Team Paws and while I think it’s 100% doable, I am starting to have to get creative. I need to raise about $600 more by September, so I’m currently offering a couple of fun incentive for folks to donate.

  • For anyone who donates between now and July, I will mail homemade cookies! I’m going to do batches of chocolate chip and white chocolate macadamia nut and will ship them out around the 4th of July. I’m also happy to take requests. 🙂
  • Anyone who donates between now and Sunday, June 24th (12 pm EST) will be entered in a giveaway to win either one of these cute, paw print bracelets (I have two of them) or a key chain. I made these myself with the help of my oh so crafty Momma!

Chicago Marathon Fundraising for Team Paws

Chicago Marathon FundraisingJust a simple cute way to rep the furry, four-legged friend in your life. 🙂

Here is the link to my page if you are interested in donating!

As for the running, things are off to a GREAT start! I think if it weren’t for my coach, I’d probably be trying to dive into 15-16 mile long runs by now, I’m feeling so excited. My mileage has been hovering around 30 miles/week, with one week that was a little higher (42 miles) and a few weeks that were a little lower because of some work travel (25-27 miles).

I’ve consistently been getting in two harder efforts a week – usually some shorter, faster intervals during the middle of the week and a longer tempo run on the weekend. On Thursday this past week, my workout was:

1.5 mile warm-up, 4 x 600 meters @ 2:30/rep (2 min recoveries), 4 x 400 meters @ 1:40/rep (90 sec recoveries), 1 mile cool-down.

I went to the track to tackle this and it was SO fun. Challenging, but I always managed to be pretty much right there with my splits.

Chicago Marathon Training

Saturday’s long run was a fun one too. 9 miles with 3 miles around 8:10, a recovery mile, and then 2 at 7:50. My splits for those target miles were 8:09, 8:09, 8:02 and then 7:47 and 7:51. Pretty much right on the money!

Oh Yeah.It sounds weird, but I really cannot wait for those long runs to keep getting longer and for the tempo sections to keep extending. Honestly, it was such a good feeling going into Hyannis, knowing I had run 20-milers with 3 x 4 miles at 8:00/mi and felt comfortable. It was huge for my confidence, and gave me the self-belief that I could BQ. While it’s REALLY early and my coach and I may adjust the plan based on how training goes, my new goal race pace is going to be 7:45/mile for Chicago. Woof. Right now that sounds so fast!

Race-wise, next up will be something for the 4th of July – I’m still toying with a few different local options. Overall, the summer is looking good!


Rest Week Brags

Hello hello!

I have something very exciting and noteworthy to share with you all – I ran on Monday for the FIRST TIME IN TWO WEEKS. Yes, I went a full two weeks with absolutely zero running (apart from a frantic jog to catch my train a couple times).

Marathon TrainingHaha, my lack of running might not make for the most interesting blog post, but I wanted to take a minute to post about it because rest is one of these new hot topics in the running/training world, and for good reason. It’s really freaking important.

While I LOVE running, I knew that I was going to need a break after Hyannis, both mentally and physically. Much of 2017 was spent in training cycles – chasing PR’s in the half marathon in the spring which then transitioned into marathon training in the summer… which then dragged on into the winter after my hamstring issues. I love racing and going after goals, but I did get a little tired by the end of 2017.

As far as the mental side of things, 2017 was a bit of a roller coaster. I was so dead set on a half marathon PR last year and I trained really hard for one. And then I had a bad race and didn’t get it. So… I signed up for another half marathon 2 months later and went right back into work mode. That race was better, but still not the breakthrough I had been dreaming about. And then there was the major disappointment of Philly.

I know running is not the be-all end-all, but when you spend several months working really hard and targeting a specific goal, it can be a little upsetting when the race does not go according to plan.

I knew I didn’t want 2018 to be a repeat of 2017. Whatever happened in Hyannis, I had promised myself going in that I would chill out after. No big spring races. I’m signed up for Chicago Marathon which is in the early fall, which kind of works out perfectly. I can relax through these last few crappy weather months in New England and as the temps start to warm up again, I can slowly build up my mileage.

And let me tell you, I have been LOVING the whole not running thing these past two weeks. Everytime we get hit by another nor’easter, I think to myself, “Well, at least you don’t have to run!” (Sorry to all you Boston Marathon runners).

Turns out, March is ending up being worse than the whole rest of the winter was…

Instead of heading out for morning miles everyday, I’ve been doing a lot of baking and cuddling with Callie.

It’s amazing how much time I have on my hands now that I’m not running 40+ miles a week. And my laundry loads have decreased significantly too which is a pretty nice perk. 😉

I’m excited to eventually start training for Chicago, but right now I can tell this is exactly what I need. And when the time comes to really buckle down and get to work again, I know I will be ready and 100% committed  because I took this time to fully regroup and rest.

If you are in the northeast, I hope you are staying safe and dry and that your power does not go out with this storm!!


From 3:53 –> 3:32

Hello hello!

I am back again! See – I told you I’d come back to the blog. 🙂

After the amazing success of Hyannis, I wanted to take a moment to look back at my progression and what I did differently with this marathon training cycle that allowed me to take a full 21 freaking minutes off my previous time.

Marathon Training**Disclaimer – this is not a post that’s intended to show how you too can take 20 minutes off your marathon time and qualify for Boston in one easy, breezy training cycle. Frankly, this post is so long because there is SO much that went into this PR and I don’t want to gloss over all the details.**

2016 Baystate MarathonSo, let’s go back to the Baystate Marathon for a sec. I ran this race in October of 2016. I was still uncoached at the time and the goal going in was pretty much to just have a better experience than I’d had at the Delaware Marathon which I had run that spring (finished, but had heat stroke and had to be transported by ambulance to the ER).

Rewinding even further- my initial goal training for Delaware was to try to qualify for Boston. After a few runs shooting for that 8 minute pace, I realized that might not be the best idea… So I backed off and focused on sub-4.

I decided to run Baystate pretty late in the game and didn’t officially start training until AUGUST (this seems insane to me now.) I also traveled for work a decent amount that month so I really didn’t do much training until the second to last week in August. I did have a base still built up from Delaware but even so… this is not ideal training.

Week of Aug 22nd – 41.5 miles

Week of Aug 29 – 26 miles

Week of Sept 5 – 50 miles (1 20 mile long run)

Week of Sept 12 – 43 miles (1 20 mile long run)

Week of Sept 19 – 9 miles (Traveling for work, but still – YIKES!)

Week of Sept 26 – 35 miles

Week of Oct 3 – 14 miles

Race Week – 8 miles + 26.2!

Looking back at this makes me cringe. My mileage was ALL OVER the place! Where was the steady build? How did I not get injured? I do remember the 20-milers in this training cycle taking a lot out of me. Like – spend the whole rest of the day on the couch doing nothing type tired.

I was trying to incorporate some marathon paced miles during my runs, but looking at my training notes, it looks like my long runs usually only had 5-8 miles at goal pace. For a harder mid-week effort, I was taking classes at Mystryde (a local treadmill studio). While those classes were good and a nice way to push myself, they were a little limited by time constraints (hour long class usually) and not very specific to my goals. I was also consistently taking 2 if not more rest days per week.

Shortly after Baystate, I decided to hire a coach. It was something I thought about for a long time and I finally decided that I loved running enough and wanted to invest in improving myself. I still wanted to qualify for Boston and I had a hunch that I was gonna need a little help. Somehow I came across  Mary through the interwebs and I’m so glad I did.

After chatting with her about my goals, we agreed that I would skip a spring marathon and use the spring to target a PR in the half marathon. The thought being that if I could build some speed in the half, my goal marathon pace would start to feel a lot more comfortable.

**I think this decision was HUGE. If I had tried to jump into another marathon in the spring of 2017, I would not have taken 21 minutes off my previous PR. It can suck to wait when you’ve got a goal you want to accomplish so badly but patience in running is critical.**

So I ran a couple half marathons in the spring. I didn’t really have great races, but the training was there. I was 100% getting faster. I was running more miles more consistently and beginning to dream about my fall marathon.

Philly Half Marathon

We all know what happened with Philly. IT DIDN’T HAPPEN. It sucked. I love the half, but I was pretty annoyed to be running ANOTHER HALF MARATHON. But again, this was a situation where patience paid off. My hamstring strain would not have allowed me to put together the proper training to go after my goal, so once again… I pushed back my goal race to February.

So now that you have the facts, here is what the build for Hyannis actually looked like –

October – very light on miles, nursing my hamstring (and my pride). 71.7 miles for the whole month.

November – again, very light on miles. While I felt great running the half at Philly, I felt like I restrained my hamstring during a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving. 100.9 miles for the month.

December – Things finally started to pick up. 128 miles for the month.

Week of Dec 11 – 30.3 miles

Week of Dec 18 – 25 miles

Week of Dec 25 – 39.3 miles

January – Finally, a solid month. I think I finally stopped being afraid that I was going to tear my hamstring during my speed workouts. 181 miles for the month.

Week of Jan 1 – 36.7 miles

Week of Jan 8 – 41.9 miles

Week of Jan 15 – 45 miles

Week of Jan 22 – 46 miles

Week of Jan 29 – 49 miles (1 20 mile long run)

Week of Feb 5 – 52 miles (1 20 mile long run)

Week of Feb 12 – 30.8 miles

Week of Feb 19 – 14.4 miles + 26.2 mile race!

Hyannis Marathon 2018So as you can see, this was a much more consistent and logical build. Again, this build only contained 2 20 milers. But I was running so many more miles during the week that I felt so much stronger on these runs. I was also training with WAY more miles at marathon pace. For example, my last long run was a 3 mile warm-up, 5 miles @ 8:15/8:20, 5 miles of 1 min on/1 min off (the min on was probably around 7:40 and the off was 8:50-9:00 pace), 5 miles @ 7:45/7:50, 2 mile cool-down. So roughly, 15 miles of work right around that goal 8:00 pace.

For the first time in a marathon  cycle, I actually really enjoyed running these 18-20 milers. I know that sounds crazy. But all the intervals truly helped break up the time and as I started to have success hitting these paces, I really began to believe I could run a 3:32 marathon. It was exciting!

In terms of rest days, early in the training cycle I was taking 2 rest days per week but as the mileage progressed, this dropped to one rest day per week. And I was fine!! I used to think I ALWAYS needed a rest day after a hard effort. Working with a coach has allowed me to see that easy miles can also work for recovery.

2017 was a long year. But I knew it would eventually pay dividends in my race times and it finally did. Hyannis was an incredible experience (rain and all) and I would not change anything about it. I can’t wait to see what I can do in Chicago come October!


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.