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!

strava-2

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? 

 

 


It’s Going to Be Legend- Wait for It -Dary: Legend Compression Review

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Legend Compression Socks 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 Weekend folks!

I’m finally back from South Carolina and enjoying Fall in New England more than ever. South Carolina was my last event of the year which means I have a few travel-free months coming my way, which I am pretty darn excited about. More time to run, relax, and gear up for the holidays!

After giving my muscles the better part of 2 weeks to recover from Baystate, I am finally easing back into my runs. So far, I’ve been keeping the mileage pretty low – most of my runs have been around 4-4.5 miles at an easy pace. I have also been pretty religious about using compression gear to help keep my legs feeling fresh.

Legend Compression Wear ReviewEarlier this month, I received a pair of Legend Compression Performance Socks as part of my ambassadorship with Bibrave Pro. Legend Compression Wear is a fairly new addition to the compression market having launched in August, 2015. I had never heard of them before, but as a fan of compression socks/sleeves, I was excited to test their product.

Legend Compression ReviewPart of what sets Legend Compression apart from other compression socks is their motto – “Compression done right not tight”. Their socks and sleeves feature 15-20 mmHg versus the more typical 20-30 mmHg compression seen in other brands. There is some belief that this reduced level of compression is more effective for athletes during exercise (I don’t know if any medical research has been done to corroborate this).

After wearing these socks on a few runs, I can safely say I love them. In the past, I’ve always been more of a fan of compression sleeves because I found that some compression socks pinched my toes and felt too tight (I particularly have this problem with the pair of Lily Trotters I own). Not the case with the performance socks from Legend Compression. They specifically designed the toe bed to be larger with these socks and added an “arch clencher” in the arch of the foot to keep it from moving around while you’re on the run. Both of these features work perfectly – my foot feels cradled and supported while at the same time, I have the extra room to wiggle my toes as needed.

Legend Compression ReviewSome other nice bonuses to these socks:

  • I can pull them on easily. No 15 minute struggle to roll them up my calves.
  • They come in a nice variety of colors, including a couple of shades of blue, white, black, yellow, and more.
  • The material feels soft yet durable.

Overall, I’m very impressed. I haven’t tested them on any particularly long runs given that I received them right after running Baystate, but I’m looking forward to testing them on some double-digit mileage. I have a feeling that these might just become my go-to pair of compression socks.

Ok, now the fun part! The folks over at Legend Compression Wear were generous enough to share a discount code so that everyone can give their products a try! Use code “bibsave15” at checkout for 15% off (and it’s not too early to start buying Christmas presents for your athletic friends/family members!).

Also, a note for all the running bloggers out there – if you’d like to get in on the fun of receiving new products to test (as well as free entries into races), Bibrave is currently accepting applications to be a Bibrave Pro for 2017! It’s a great community of runners and bloggers and I am having so much fun being a part of it. 🙂

Are you a fan of compression products?

What does your post-marathon (or any big race) recovery look like?

Any big plans or goals for November?


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!)?


Baystate Marathon Recap!!

Marathon #3 is in the books and boy, this was a good one. I’m still finding it hard to put into the words the excitement and giddiness I feel over this race, but I know I owe you all a race recap so I’ll give it a shot. 🙂

2016 Baystate Marathon Race Recap

I went into this race a little bit nervous after what happened in Delaware – I finished but ended up going to the hospital with heat stroke. Not an enjoyable way to wrap up 26.2 miles.

Delaware Marathon Race Recap

Back when my mom convinced me to sign up for Baystate, I was excited by the idea of running a marathon in very cool temps (we had frozen our butts at this race in 2015). So I started getting apprehensive when the forecasted temps for Sunday crept up from the low 60’s to a high of 67. There’s nothing you can do about the weather though, so I just promised my parents (multiple times) that I would not run myself into the ground on this race.

I also went into this race with the goal of running relatively consistent splits. I had gone back and checked my training log to see what I had done in Delaware and saw that my mile splits were ALL over the place in that race. Granted, it was a little hilly, but in hindsight, I think I was a little too aggressive in my goal pace for that race. My training for Baystate had been compressed since I signed up late, so I backed off a little on the pace and decided to aim for splits between 8:45 and 8:55/mile. I did not want to fall apart at Mile 20 the way I had before. I figured I would take it a little easier the first 3 miles to let myself warm up as well.

On Sunday morning, my mom and I headed out bright and early to make the short drive to Lowell. My mom had to back out of the half marathon because of ongoing injury problems, but I was SO thankful to have her there with me before the start to keep me company and help keep the nerves at bay. We had no issues getting in and parking. As always, the Greater Lowell Road Runners had things running like clockwork!

We hung out inside the Tsongas arena for a while (which meant I got to use real bathrooms – score) and then before I knew it, it was time to head outside and line up in the corrals. I lined up between the 9 and 10:00/mile pace signs. I knew everyone was going to be excited and running fast, but I wanted to make sure I stuck with my plan. I saw the 4 hr pace group was a bit ahead of me. The National Anthem played and we were off!

I felt good once we started running. The nerves were mostly gone and I was just excited that the race was finally happening (no more 20-mile long runs for a while!!) I clocked my first mile in 9:18 – which also happened to be my slowest split the entire race! Mile 2 was a bit faster in 8:56 and Mile 3 was a 9:01 – very close to my plan. Once the first 3 miles were over, I worked on slowly bringing my pace down to goal pace.

By Mile 6, I had caught up to the 4 hour pace group. They were a huge pack at this point. Part of me was tempted to stick with them for longer, but they were running a very consistent 9:00/mile pace and I knew I could push faster than that. Plus, I knew I wanted to beat my previous 3:57 and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to make up enough time if I stuck with them for too long. So with a little maneuvering, I made my way past and just prayed that I wouldn’t see them passing me later in the course.

Going into Mile 7, we hit some AWESOME water stations. Local high schools were volunteering and had gotten so into it! Some had gone with an 80’s workout theme, others were decked out in pretty intense Star Wars costumes – it was amazing!

From Miles 7-11, I focused on making my way to the bridge where the half marathon and marathon courses intersect. The half marathoners are looping back towards the finish at that point and the marathoners are going out for another loop. I remembered it being a really high energy area the year before with tons of spectators and I was excited to get that boost again. Plus, my mom had planned on heading to this spot to watch. 🙂

As expected, it was an awesome spot with tons of spectators with funny signs. I reached the other side of the bridge and saw my mom! Look, I’m actually smiling while running a marathon (didn’t think that was possible)! She was a fantastic course photographer and managed to take a bunch of great photos!

Baystate Marathon 2016 Race RecapI’m actually smiling!

Baystate Marathon 2016And off I go to run another 14 miles.

After crossing the bridge, I made the turn to make my second loop. I knew this was when things would potentially get tough. I checked in on my breathing and effort levels and felt shockingly good. I thought about the bit of advice my mom had gleaned from Bart Yasso in the most recent Runners World podcast (that she kept reiterating to me in an effort to keep me from the Fly and Die method) – It should feel so easy that you feel like you could run forever. My pace was hovering around 8:50/mile and shockingly – I did feel like I could run forever. I hit the halfway mark in 1:57. On track for a sub-4 hour finish, but I knew that would be contingent on staying strong even through the last 6 miles (where I really fell apart in my last marathon).

Around Mile 15, I actually started speeding up a bit. My pace dropped down to around 8:46 and stayed there through Mile 19, where I hit an 8:40! I think I was excited to get to Mile 20. I wanted to find “the wall” and kick it’s a$$. Throughout these miles, I also found myself checking in on my form. As marathons progress, runners have a tendency to stoop forward and tighten up as things get tough. I made sure to keep my shoulders back, arms swinging straight instead of across the body, and stay relaxed. By this point, I was passing a decent number of runners. I’ve been that runner before – the one who has gone out too fast only to be passed by someone who looks incredibly strong when you’re thinking you can hardly go another step. Boy did it feel good to be feeling so strong.

My mom called me just before I hit Mile 20. I had called her last year during this race and she had always said it was a great boost for the final miles of the race. This was technically her second time calling me during the race. She had called me around Mile 5 because she was tracking me with the online timing software, which was apparently HORRIBLY inaccurate as it was telling her I was running an 8:26/mile pace, so she had called me to tell me to slow down. Lol, I was so confused! Not a single one of my miles had been at that pace! This call was a better one though and she told me to just stay strong through the finish. We chatted for probably a minute before saying our goodbyes.

Shortly thereafter, I hit Mile 20. I checked in on my effort levels again. Did I have another 6.2 miles left in me? I felt like I did. I knew at least, I didn’t need to walk. Mile 20 I clocked an 8:48, followed by a 8:52, 8:52 and 8:54 for Mile 23. I will admit that around this point, things were starting to get uncomfortable. Around Mile 21, it became clear to me that I was going to lose the same toenail that I had lost in Delaware (that wasn’t even fully grown in yet). I could also feel a couple blisters despite the fact that I had applied Body Glide to my toes.

The last 3.2 miles were easily the most difficult miles of this race for me. Despite knowing I only had a 5k to go, my stomach was beginning to feel slightly queasy (though nowhere near as bad as Delaware, which I now think may have had something to do with the Gatorade I drank at the water stops). This was also probably the least attractive part of the course. Most of it was along a river with beautiful views of the foliage. The final stretch is along a highway in full sun. This was where I finally had to dig deep. Mile 23- 8:54, Mile 24 – 8:49, Mile 25- 8:52. At Mile 25, I checked my watch and knew I had a PR. Even if I ran a 10-minute mile, I would still be finishing in sub-3:57. This was a relief, but I also told myself I couldn’t relax too much – I wanted to finish strong with as big a PR as I could. Just before Mile 26, I was back at the Tsongas Arena where the course began. You make a sharp turn and run down this road, lined with spectators with an announcer reading off the names of the runners as they hit Mile 26 and head around into the final .2 of the course. I knew this wasn’t the finish, but there was a part of me that was confused about how close (or far) I was from the finish. What can I say, it’s hard to think straight after running 26 miles. 😉

Baystate Marathon 2016

The course makes a sharp left turn and then there it was – the finish!! I actually had enough left where I was able to kick in an 8:15/mile pace for the finish and crossed the line, looking and feeling strong. Official chip time – 3:53!! That works out to an average pace of 8:51/mile.

Baystate Marathon Race ReviewCruising into the finish feeling strong!

I am so pleased with that time. I feel that I can confidently say I ran the race I was trained for. I ran smart, I never walked (a first for me in a marathon!), and I finished feeling strong. My splits were very consistently in my goal range of 8:45 – 8:55/mile, with my very first mile being my slowest. I also managed a negative split! I ran my first half in 1:57 and second half in 1:56. I’ve heard it’s incredibly hard to negative split a marathon and I am stoked that I managed it on my third attempt at the distance. This was the race I so desperately needed to convince me that marathons aren’t necessarily god-awful. I’m sad that my mom wasn’t able to cross the finish line as well, but I loved having her there serving as spectator, coach, and my own personal race photographer!

Baystate Marathon 2016 | 2 Generations Running

I have a thousand more thoughts and feelings to share about Baystate, but this post has already turned into a marathon in and of itself, so I will hold off and share those in a few more posts. For now, time to let my legs rest up and my toenails heal. Again. 🙂

Also, because it’s a funny picture… I looked strong crossing the finish. Here’s what I looked like approximately 15 minutes later –

Baystate MarathonStretching, cramping and rolling around on the ground like a baby. Marathons will do that to ya. 😉

 

 


1 Week To Go!!

Happy Monday!

So here we are, 6 days away from Baystate andddd… I have a cold. 😦 I started feeling a little stuffy at the end of last week and much to my dismay, it has spiraled into a full-blown cold – sore throat, stuffy nose, the whole works.

My last long run on Sunday was supposed to be an easy peasy 12 miles, but after a horrible night’s sleep and waking up to pouring rain, I finally admitted it probably wasn’t going to happen. I opted for an hour walk on the treadmill at the gym instead and spent the rest of the day parked on the couch drinking tea. Not exactly a confidence booster for next weekend.

So needless to say, I’m a little bit nervous. Marathons are sooooo hard and I really really don’t want to run 26.2 miles not being able to breathe through my nose. Ugh.

Can't BreatheI hear ya, Keira Knightley.

On the bright side, it’s looking like the weather should be pretty good on Sunday – partly cloudy with a high of 63. I would prefer a few degrees cooler, but I should be done well before temps get into the 60s at least.

Other final marathon preparations have included putting together a killer playlist and getting my nails done (on the agenda for this week!). Though I don’t think I will be able to top Delaware’s manicure –

Delaware Marathon Nails | 2 Generations RunningThis week, I’ll be taking it super easy (a few short runs, no Mystryde classes) and trying to fight off this cold. Wish me luck!

Do you have any special routines for big races?


2 Weeks To Go!

Well here we are!
It is officially October which means that Baystate is 2 weeks away. Holy crap.

Marathon Training | 2 Generations RunningI am definitely feeling a little anxiety over this marathon. You would think they would get easier the more you do, but I feel like I also finally understand just how painful marathons are. And maybe Delaware is still a little too fresh in my mind.

I’m also sad because for the first time in my running history, I’ll be running the full 26.2 miles without the comfort of knowing my mom is out there suffering through those same miles on the same course (first in Rochester NY during my senior year of college and then most recently in Delaware). For the most part, we haven’t run these marathons together, but there was still something reassuring about being in it together. More than anything, I’m sad for my mom that she is struggling through this awful injury and is going to have to DNS (Did Not Start) a race for the first time ever. 😦

But on the bright side, it will be WONDERFUL having someone to cheer for me when I cross that finish line in 2 weeks. Here’s a few other things that would make crossing the finish line of Marathon #3 even better:

1. I’m PRAYING for cool to even slightly cold temps. If we get hit with an unseasonably warm day, I’m gonna be pissed and will probably have to throw all my time goals out the window to avoid a repeat of DE. No more heat stroke for me.

2. Here’s to hoping my stomach doesn’t freak out at mile 20 again. I’ve been experimenting with Huma gels this training cycle, and they seem to be working pretty well for me. I’m hoping that by mixing these with my regular GU gels, it’ll keep my stomach under control (I’ve read that mixing up your gels can help because they all use different types of sweeteners).
Huma Gel3. I’m really, REALLY hoping I don’t lose any toenails. My right big toe has grown back just about 85% and so help me god if I lose it again…

4. I hope to finish feeling happy (even if I’m in pain). I do think I have a tendency to lose my mental toughness sometimes when things get hard, and I just want to be able to look back on this marathon and know I gave it everything I had.

5. I’m hoping for a fresh new PR in the marathon. Then I can feel content to take a break from running fulls for a while. 🙂

Throwback photo to finishing Marathon #1. Fun fact, I didn’t even have a GPS watch when I ran this race! I just used a regular stop watch to try to keep an eye on my overall time.

Rochester Marathon

Have a great week!


Hobbled by Hobble Creek

I am off in Virginia this weekend! Since I’m on the road, I’m sharing some updates from my mom today! Enjoy 🙂

Unfortunately, I have to say the Hobble Creek Half  lived up to its name! After 5 miles of pounding downhills,  I pretty much walked the rest of the course, feeling pretty down and somewhat crippled. (At mile 12, I did perk up enough to take this picture of this really nice horse and the scenery to try to take my mind off my aching shins and hamstring.)

2 Generations Running

img_5334But basically, since this race, my training (even with my innovative 28-day plan) has just not been smooth.

Despite everything, I did manage the first of my 20-mile long runs this Monday, which went surprisingly well. At first I was heartened by this. Then, during a yoga class that night, I finally began to take in the long view. By the morning, wisdom and common sense had won out and I changed my Baystate Registration from the Full to the Half Marathon. Maybe the yoga relaxed me enough to quiet my ego and let the rational person in me speak up. Either way, I’ve finally made my decision and made my peace with it.

It might seem odd that having the 20-miler go well would help me make my decision to switch, but it was the fact that for the first time in a long time, that run felt almost normal.   And the idea that I was just on the edge of getting that feeling  back – and the thought that if I was pushing just a bit too hard, a bit too soon, I would lose it again –  that made me switch.

It was finally time to admit that my earlier plan of running an enjoyable marathon on a familiar course, in nice fall weather had gone out the window. Now, I could only hope to hold on and not make any lingering injury worse.

Baystate Marathon 2015(Photo from last year’s Baystate where I ran the full and Nora ran the half).

And before the race, there would be another 5 weeks of anxiety filled training runs, stressing over every stretching session, and worrying about icing and taking (or not taking)  anti-inflammatories.

Or, I could stop all this worrying, ease back into my normal runs again, and if necessary  rest as much as I wanted in these last few weeks going into the half at Baystate  (Not looking to PR at this one!). And that just seemed more sensible. I also reminded myself that  my ultimate goal is to be running in my eighties and that means I need to practice  accepting disappointment, and recognizing when I have to tell my ego to take a hike. So I’ll be going into these last few weeks trying some new physical therapy, resting and walking, and hopefully that will get me back on track.

I’m disappointed, especially since I convinced Nora to sign up for the full – but at the same time, I know I’ve made the right decision.   And so this year, after running what I hope will be a pleasurable half -marathon, I will wander around Lowell, get two really great coffees and then head back to the finish line – to wait for my running partner!  And that will be a perfect day! 🙂


Mystryde Boston: A Review

Hey friends, I’m back!

I mentioned before that I’ve been incorporating some new routines into my training for Baystate this time around, and one of those changes has been the Mystryde treadmill classes I’ve been attending. I figure some of you are probably a little curious about how a treadmill class works, so I figured I would share a review and some of the details of why I think these classes are so great.

Mystryde is Boston’s first treadmill studio and is located in the North End of Boston, about a 5 minute walk from the Haymarket station on the Orange line. For where I live and work, this makes it very convenient to get to, plus I love having an excuse now to walk through the North End because it’s probably the cutest part of Boston with all its Italian cafes and restaurants. The trick is to avoid the temptation to grab a cannoli or some gelato after one of the classes!

The studio itself is pretty small, and you could almost miss it, if not for the funny/motivational sandwich board they keep out in front.

img_1622Image courtesy of Mystryde’s Instagram page

Inside, there’s a waiting area where they sell some pretty cute merchandise with the Mystryde running man logo so you can represent your favorite treadmill studio on all your runs.

Ok, onto the best part now – the classes! There are 3 different ones which range from 45 minutes to an hour: Endurance, Stryde, and Power Stryde. Endurance focuses on building strength over longer intervals, and usually includes some pretty tough hill segments (I’m talking about 12% incline tough… Yikes!). According to one of the instructors I asked, Endurance most closely resembles a tempo run, while Stryde is a little bit more like a track workout, with more short, fast intervals. Power Stryde is basically boot camp meets running intervals. It is TOUGH! I am definitely one of those runners who tends to neglect strength work, so I love that Mystryde offers classes that combine the two. In the Power Stryde class I attended, everyone was partnered up so that while one person was running their intervals on the treadmill, the other was doing exercises on the floor. These included squats, push-ups, plank get-ups, crunches, and a bunch of other exhausting moves. I was a quivering puddle of sweat after this class, but I didn’t hate it. 🙂 The setting also helps keep you going – they crank up the tunes and turn the lights down, so it feels like a party, albeit a sweaty, exhausting one!

Mystryde Boston | 2 Generations RunningDuring the classes, the instructors tell you what level incline and speed to take your treadmill up to for each interval. Every treadmill comes with a pace card that explains what speed setting you should use if you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced. This makes it really easy for everyone to get in an awesome workout, according to their own specific experience level – without anyone being left in the dust, which can happen easily during a workout done on a track. So far, I’ve been using the intermediate paces, but hopefully I’ll graduate to advanced some day! 😉

The instructors here are also totally friendly. I feel like some professionals in the fitness studio world can be a little full of themselves and not very approachable, but I’ve never felt that way at Mystryde. They’re always going to push you to give a workout your best, but they do it in a way that’s not intimidating. Just this past week, they also started offering group runs on Wednesday evenings at 6:30. I went, and we did a gorgeous 4-mile loop that came with just about the prettiest sunset I’ve ever seen.

Boston Mystryde Review

Mystryde Boston ReviewCan you even believe that? I’m so glad I went for the run with these ladies because that was one pretty epic view!

In terms of cost, the classes are a little expensive, but not any more so than what you’d typically expect to pay for studio fitness classes in a city. They offer a bunch of different packages to suit everyone’s individual goals and budget. They also tend to do a decent number of promotions – like donate a pair of used sneakers and get 15% off.

Overall, I really love these classes, and I know I’m going to be an even bigger fan come the winter and that first snowfall. If you’re a runner in the Boston area, I highly recommend checking them out! We’ll see what happens on October 16th, but I have a strong feeling attending these classes on a weekly basis is going to be a BIG help with my marathon goals.

Treadmills – yay or nay? Are you a fan of fitness studio classes? What running goals are you currently working towards?


Baystate Marathon Training: Week 4

Another week done and closer to Baystate!

I was feeling pretty excited about it, until Sunday’s 20-miler which kind of whipped my butt. I listen to the Runners World podcast, and they had comedian Liz Miele on this past week, talking about running. She has done a number of marathons, and in one part of her routine, she said anyone can run a marathon, “…you just have to find that right balance of hating yourself, and you will… it’s just an abusive amount of cardio and some unresolved family issues.” 🙂 I don’t know about the family issues, but I was definitely feeling the self-hate at Mile 16 of 20.

But anyway, I’ll get to that. This week’s total mileage was 43, with 2 rest days.

Monday – Rest day following Sunday’s long run. I also ran 20 miles last week and I was pretty pleased with how decent I felt the next day.

Tuesday – Mystryde treadmill class. I covered just over 5 miles in 45 minutes, with lots of speedy intervals at sub-marathon pace and a decent amount of hill work. Doing hills in these classes is always my least favorite part. I will take an all-out sprint on a flat elevation over the awful slog of even maintaining a 10-minute mile on a 12% incline ANY DAY!

Wednesday – Mystryde was hosting their first ever “Stryde Squad”, which was an easy 4-mile loop around the North End of Boston. They invited all the students to come and run some easy miles with the instructors leading different pace groups. I had easy miles on the agenda, so this was perfect! I went a little early, dropped off my stuff in the studio and did 1 mile by myself before joining them.

Mystryde Boston ReviewThey had an awesome turn-out of 25 runners, and it was a really pretty loop in a part of Boston I’d never actually run before! This run should have been awesome. Friendly faces + easy miles = happy running. But I was having serious stomach issues. I kept expecting them to go away, but they didn’t, so the whole run, I was really just praying to be done. It had to have been something I ate during the day, but I have no idea what. That’s the issue I sometimes run into with afternoon runs. In the morning, all I’ll eat is some toast and coffee and I’m good to go, but if I run in the afternoon, I’ve eaten over the course of the day and sometimes, I don’t pay as much attention to the run I’ll be doing later on as I should.

Thursday – Evening speed workout with Heartbreak Hill Running Club. These guys were written up in the most recent issue of Runners World, and I’m proud to be a new member of the group! I jogged over to the South End after work and met up with them for the workout. This one was on the shorter side, but still fun. We jogged a mile over to the Fens, did some drills, and then did 3 x 300 gradually accelerating from 10k pace, followed by 3 x 150. While we were doing our cool-down drills, there were some little kids playing near us. That wouldn’t be too alarming, apart from the fact that this kid had to be 4-5 years old, and started trying to hit us with a stick as we ran past! Not really a good idea for a little kid to jump in the middle of a pack of runners. First, everyone tried to play with the kid, but he wasn’t really having it and literally just wanted to hit people with it. Eventually, someone got pissed and grabbed the stick away from him, but there were NO parents in sight. Weird, right? Anyway, between the warm-ups and cool-down, my total mileage for the day was 6.5.

Friday – I had an 8-miler scheduled, but I ended up really needing this rest day. 3 days in a row getting home late after doing workouts in Boston, really wiped me out. There was no way I was waking up early to get these miles done in the morning, and when a friend texted me about meeting to catch up in the evening, I couldn’t say no. I love running in Boston, but I think I do need to be more selective about the evening workouts I do, because I was feeling kind of burnt out.

Saturday – What a beautiful day for a run! Temps were feeling a little bit cooler, like fall is just around the corner. I did an easy 6 miles after sleeping in, and it just felt like the most relaxing thing ever. I came home, drank more coffee and foam-rolled (I’m usually pretty awful about making the time for that).

Sunday – My last 20-miler, THANK GOD!!! So last week’s 20 miles was very split up, which I think helped it be easier. I ran 6 miles by myself early in the morning, then got on the subway to go a few stops to meet my friends. I probably had a 20 minute break there, if not slightly more. Then, I ran the 4 miles to the start of the race with them. Those miles went by pretty fast with all the conversation. Then, we probably had another 30 minutes or so before the start of the race, which was the last 10 miles of my run. I think it was good having the race push me to run those last 10 harder, but with all the breaks, I was probably feeling better than in a standard, non-stop 20-miler like today’s.

This one, I did all on my own, with no significant breaks and it felt hard. I also felt like I covered all of the greater Boston area.

img_1623Medford -> Somerville -> Cambridge -> Allston -> Boston. So that’s what 20 miles looks like! I wanted to do some of the miles along the Charles because the miles always seem to pass by faster there, and with 20 miles on the agenda, it just made more sense to run there rather than taking the subway in!

I felt pretty good on this run probably right up until around Mile 15, at which point I wanted to be done. It was like all of a sudden, I remembered how freaking painful marathons are and how badly everything hurts at the end. Suddenly, I was feeling less excited for October 16th, and actually scared. At this point, I took a little walk break and ate the piece of long run cake I had brought with me (the one I made doesn’t have the frosting) and just tried to reset, mentally and physically.

Long Run CakeAfter that, I was on my way again. My pace wasn’t really where I wanted it to be, but maybe that was the humidity? I’m not sure, but part of me is wondering whether I should reassess my goal pace for race day or just go for it. If it ends up being an unseasonably warm day, I will 100% need to dial back because there is no way I’m having a repeat of Delaware.

I timed my run just right, so that I hit 20 miles outside Boston Public Market. I was slightly embarrassed about the sweaty, disgusting state I was in, but that didn’t stop me from heading in and getting a smoothie and a breakfast sandwich. 🙂 I was literally STARVING by this point.

So there it is! Another week down. This coming week is a travel week for me, so the mileage will be going WAY down, which I don’t think is necessarily a bad thing, though it is always harder to get back in the swing of things afterwards.

How was your weekend? Have you ever heard of comedian Liz Miele? From the clips I heard, I think she is worth checking out if you’re a fan of stand-up!

 


Baystate Marathon Training: Week 3

Hello again!

After last week’s week of blah, I’m happy to report things are back on track! I think this might all just be the name of the game with marathon training. Sometimes, you have workouts and weeks that are just so horrible you can’t imagine ever being able to run 26.2 miles in a row and at a relatively fast pace. But then, you turn around and have some good workouts and go back to feeling optimistic again. 🙂

This week was really high mileage for me, but I’m happy to report my legs are feeling good! Come to think of it, this was probably the most miles I’ve EVER hit in a week! In my last training cycle, I was supposed to peak with a 50 mile week, but I think I cut a run short and came in at 49 miles. This time, I actually did it!! 50 miles!!!! I haven’t had any weird shin pain this time around like I did when I was training for Delaware, and I’m wondering if that’s because I have been wearing my Saucony Kinvaras for training this time around instead of the Asics Gel-Electro?

Just One Run 5k RecapI was a big fan of the Asics for 2 years, but I have to say, I love the cushioning of the Kinvaras, and I think they’re keeping my feet happier with higher mileage than the Asics which erred on the minimalist side of things.

But anyways! Onto the training recap. 🙂

Monday – 5 miles ez. I ran long on Saturday, and rested on Sunday, so this felt very manageable. I averaged 10:01/mile, right where I want to be with my recovery runs. Part of me really wanted to run faster, but I knew I was planning my harder workout for the next morning, so I reined myself in.

Tuesday – 6 miles on the treadmill, with 4 at sub-marathon pace (roughly 8:35/mile). I’ve been doing a lot of research on different marathon training methods, and one thing I came across was that you don’t want to just train at your goal marathon pace. Because the marathon is so long, it will recruit all your different muscle fibers and training at different speeds will help with your endurance, even if you aren’t planning to run that pace on race day. I started out with an easy mile to warm up, then went into the fast miles. This was tough, I’m not going to lie, especially doing it first thing in the morning. I just tried to focus on each individual mile, and then before I knew it, it was time for my cool-down mile.

Wednesday – 4 miles ez. Nothing super exciting about this run.

Thursday – Another early morning workout. This time it was 10 miles, with the goal of 7 miles at marathon pace. I had plans to celebrate a coworker’s birthday after work, so I knew I was just going to have to wake up bright and early to squeeze all the miles in. Sadly, the days are clearly getting shorter, as it was still pitch black out when I woke up. To be on the safe side, I decided to do the first 3 miles of this run on the treadmill at the gym. I did the first 2 miles easy, and then launched into it. The first goal pace mile on the treadmill was obviously pretty easy since I just set the treadmill to 8:45/mile and didn’t have to worry about slowing down! The other ones were a little trickier, but I think my body is getting better at finding this pace. Mile 4 – 8:58 (I think I was adjusting to the transition from treadmill to road), Mile 5 – 8:47, Mile 6 – 8:46, Mile 7 – 8:44, Mile 8 – 8:47, Mile 9 – 8:44, and Mile 10 was a cool-down. At first, I felt like I was really having a hard time finding this consistent pace, but by the end, it was actually easier. And I felt pretty bada$$ getting all these miles in before work!

Friday – Well-earned rest day. 🙂

Saturday – Steady pace 5-miler on the treadmill at the gym followed by some arms/core work. I took the first mile of this run very easy, but for the last 4, I kept it at around 9:05/mile, approximately 20 seconds slower than goal pace. I wanted my legs to be a little fatigued going into tomorrow’s 20-miler to help simulate what they’ll be feeling at the end of the marathon. For my previous marathons, I almost always rested or ran very easy the day before my long run. But I also hit the wall pretty hard on those, so I’m mixing things up a little this time.

Sunday – The first 20-miler of the training cycle (I have a second one next weekend)! Earlier in the week, I had discovered a 10-mile trail race not too far from my apartment (the Fellsfest Trail Race) , and decided that it would be a good way to tick off some of the miles. I also talked a couple of my coworkers into doing it with me (they’re training for the Chicago Marathon!). The race didn’t start until 9 am, which gave me a good span of time to get in 10 miles before. I woke up bright and early to have my pre-run coffee and toast, then headed out to knock off 6 miles on my regular loop. I took those miles nice and easy, running around a 10 minute mile. Once I finished those up, I hopped on the subway for a couple stops to meet my friends at the train station. The race actually had a shuttle to take runners to the start from there, but we ran to add an additional 4 miles. It felt awesome to finally have some company and I hardly felt like I had run 10 miles when we got to the start!

After a little waiting around, it was time for the race to start! My plan was to run this pretty much by effort since I knew my pace was going to be slower on the trails. This race also had FAR more hills than the 6 miles I did earlier in the morning. This elevation profile pretty much says it all.

Fellsfest Trail RunThe course was a 2-loop 5 mile route, which was a blessing and a curse because I knew when the worst hills were coming, but it was also nice knowing when I was almost at the end (I wasn’t trusting the mile readings on my GPS watch with all the trees). I finished in 1:31, good for a 9:10 average pace, which actually isn’t too far off my marathon goal pace considering the hills and the rocky terrain. Overall, I was very pleased with how I ran this race. While I was definitely tired and ready to be done running at the end, I didn’t feel like I really hit the wall and I stayed in a pretty positive mindset throughout. Maybe that was because I was so focused on looking at the ground to make sure I didn’t trip, but whatever, I’ll take it. 🙂 I was also passing a decent number of people on the 2nd loop, which was pretty exciting because I’m guessing most of them didn’t have 15 miles under their belts for the day.

The post-race party was also fantastic, and such a great way to celebrate being done with my 20 miles. They had 4 different breweries sampling their beer and even hard cider! I have to say, I really prefer a hard cider after a run to a beer. They even let you have as many as you want! There was also pizza (delicious), larabars, Suji water, Bai, and Muscle Milk. It was just what I needed. 🙂

And in case you’re wondering, this is what my legs look like at the end of a 10-mile trail race –

FellsfestMy poor sneakers aren’t looking so fresh these days! 😦

And that sums up my first 50-mile week! Bring on Week 4!

What’s the longest trail run you’ve done? Do you like breaking up long runs or prefer to get it all done in one straight shot?