1 Week Till Race Day!

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

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

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

Half Marathon Training

Getting to see this sunrise was another AWESOME bonus.

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

Half at the Hamptons

I’ve also been obsessively studying the elevation profile.

Fast Half

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

Half at the Hamptons

Woof, that’s a big climb.

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

Bring on half marathon #18!


A Killer 10k and Feeling Confident

Hey guys, happy Tuesday!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How was your weekend?


The Mental Side of Racing

Happy Wednesday, hope you guys are all having a good week!

With the Fast Half being only 2 and a half weeks away at this point, I wanted to do a post on the mental aspects to racing. It’s no surprise that I was disappointed with my results at the Half at the Hamptons. All that work to run the exact same time as my current PR. Yes, there were a lot of factors that made that race a challenge – the wind, the cold, the hills… But when I look back on it all, I realize my thoughts going into the race were essentially along the lines of I’m in the best shape of my life, shiny new PR here I come!

A tiny little part of me thought it was going to be easy.

Don’t get me wrong, I knew I was going to have to push, but I think I had kind of forgotten just how hard that would be. I understood conceptually it would be tough and require some serious mental grit, but when it came down to it, I kind of shied away from the pain when I was in the thick of it. I think some part of me thought it was a given that I would PR considering the quality of the training cycle I had put in. But I think it’s safe to say the days of ‘easy’ PRs are gone.

Once I finished wallowing in my disappointment, I immediately began thinking about the next steps to keep that from happening again in a race. Obviously, I can’t control weather and all the external factors at play, but I CAN control and improve on my mental strategy. After some review browsing online, I purchased How Bad Do You Want It by Matt Fitzgerald.

How Bad Do You Want ItIt’s not an instructional manual; it’s more of a series of anecdotes about various athletes who have overcome mental barriers to reach the pinnacle of their sport. He then explains some of the more technical aspects of the coping mechanisms demonstrated. As a psychology nerd, I loved this.

With the Fast Half, I don’t plan to take anything for granted. I know I’m going to have to work. I know that there is a doozy of a hill at Mile 6. Yes, I’ve put in the work and run some great times in workouts, but that doesn’t mean executing on race day is going to feel comfortable. It doesn’t feel easy for me to run a 7:30 mile split in a workout, so why would that feel easy at the end of a 13 mile race??? That’s going to be the time where I am going to HAVE to dig deep. I plan on keeping the disappointment from March close to my heart. I fully plan on letting those frustrations fuel me during the tough times in this race when I have to decide between cruising comfortably and giving it everything I’ve got.

I’ve already put it out there that I want to try to BQ at Philly in November (for my age group, I would need a 3:35 or better). My coach thinks it’s doable, and I have no doubt that my fitness will get there under her training. But the mental toughness has to be there too, especially when we’re talking about 26 miles. It’s something I want to continue to focus on, paying it the same attention I give to my weekly mileage and paces.

Any runners out there have any tips for mental strategies in races?

Do you have any goal races coming up?


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?


Getting Back into the Routine

Happy Monday and happy April!!

I don’t care that it snow/sleeted all Friday and Saturday in Boston. I can feel that Spring is coming and warmer weather too. This winter feels like it’s gone on FOREVER. New England may not have figured out that it’s Spring yet, but that’ll come. 😉

I mentioned briefly in my last post, but I recently got back from a week long work trip that really messed with my routine. I was staying in some pretty old hotels in the middle of nowhere (but right off the highway of course) so my running was SUPER limited. I managed to squeak in one easy 4.5 miler one day and did get to take in a nice view of the sunrise.

2 Generations RunningSince getting home, I’m sliding back into my structured training regimen again. I did some easy 45 minute runs this week and then a workout on Saturday.

Because of the slushy snow, I was forced to take my workout to the treadmill AGAIN. Even with running indoors, I still managed to soak my sneakers through on the 2-minute walk over to the gym. Nothing like starting a workout with water squishing around between your toes!

Face palm | 2 Generations Running

The workout was 2 mile warm-up, then 6 x 2 minutes at 7:30 with 1 minute recoveries. 3 minute recovery then another set of 6 x 2 minutes followed by a 1 mile cool-down. The total distance ended up being just about 7.3 miles. It wasn’t super easy but it was fun to be working hard again and the intervals made the time on the treadmill fly by.

A few weeks back while I was still recovering from the Half at the Hamptons, I tried out a yoga class for runners near my office. It was called ‘Stretch and Strengthen’ for runners and focused on strength in the glutes, hamstrings, and core. I’m not a huge yoga fan but I REALLY liked this class. The instructor was very friendly and knowledgeable and the class was very dynamic. There were only 3 of us in the first class I went to (and 4 in the second) so the small groups make for a lot of personal attention and form corrections which was awesome. I could tell I had worked muscles that weren’t used to it by the slight soreness I felt the next day. I think the class could be a really good addition to my training regimen so I’m going to try to keep up with going to it on a weekly basis as much as possible.

How was your weekend? Are you as happy as I am that it’s finally April?


Half Marathon Training: The FINAL Check-In

Hello again!

Apologies for the lack of posts last week. While I love blogging, my work during the week pretty much restricts my blogging time to only weekends. This can make things a little hectic trying to squeeze in all of my runs, chores and a week’s worth of blog posts in the span of 2 days. Last weekend, I felt like I needed the time to really decompress, but I’m back now!

Rather than share 2 week’s worth of workouts (which would probably be pretty boring), I wanted to touch on some highlights and my thoughts about the Half at the Hamptons being THIS SUNDAY!

Excited but nervous gif | 2 Generations RunningYes, exactly.

Two weeks ago, I had my last long run/hard workout on Saturday and it did NOT go well. The workout was 3 mile warm-up followed by 3 x 2 miles at 7:32 with 2 minutes rest between sets and a 3 mile cool-down. I knew it was going to be hard, but I can honestly say I wasn’t dreading this workout. I made sure to get a good night’s sleep and I felt ready to tackle it in the morning. The only bit of trepidation I felt was in that I was visiting my family for the weekend and the roads around my hometown are hillier than my typical running routes around my apartment. I knew it was going to be a struggle running 7:32 pace with hills thrown in. Boy, was I right.

I picked the least hilly area I could find, which still included 2 short but steep-ish hills. I went into the 2-mile repeats and knew pretty much right away it was not going to be a good day. My first set was 7:39 and 7:57 but then I fell apart even more on the second and third sets. I felt like I was working hard but I was literally GASPING for air and could NOT make the pace on my watch nudge down to the low 7:30s. Mentally, I was frustrated and already beginning to have doubts about the half. It was, by far the worst workout I have had this entire training cycle.

I ended up chatting with Mary (my coach) the next day, and she reassured me that this happens and is not the end of the world. One bad workout does not undo 3 months worth of good workouts. I felt 100 times better after talking it through with her, and I don’t think this workout will negatively affect my mindset going into the race this weekend.

Now, I am officially in Taper Town! I think I simultaneously love and hate the taper. I love knowing the race is coming up and running easy miles, but I do feel like my body/mind tend to freak out a bit. I had a few minor aches and pains during some of my easy runs this week (some pain in my achilles, a pain in my hamstring). When these would pop up, I would immediately start to wonder if I’m injured, if I’ll be able to do the race, etc… But all these little aches ended up going away after a mile or two, so thankfully I think I will be in perfect condition for Sunday. 🙂

This past weekend, I had an easy 8 miles on Saturday in beautiful mid-60 degree temps which was GLORIOUS!

2 Generations RunningNothing like wearing shorts on February 25th!

Everyone was outside on what I like to call “my” running route but I guess I can share if it means more nice weather in the future. 😉

This week I have a few more easy runs on the agenda, but nothing too crazy.

How was your week? If you’re in the Northeast, were you able to get outside and enjoy this amazing weather? 

How do you react to the taper?


Half Marathon Training Check-In #5

Happy Monday everyone!

After the most boring winter ever, New England finally got hammered with a nor’easter this week and now the snow just seems to keep coming. It’s made for A LOT of treadmill runs this week. Honestly, I’m starting to get sick of it. I will take heat and humidity, I just want to be able to run outside again! But anyways…

The half marathon is 3 weeks away and after this week, it looks like my training is beginning to taper. I hope I’m ready. Here’s what the past week of training looked like.

Monday – Easy 4 miles on the treadmill in the morning. I was a little sore after Sunday’s long run/workout the day before but not terrible.

Tuesday – Easy 60 minutes also on the treadmill.

Wednesday – I had been pretty tired the night before so I decided to sleep in and do my run in the evening. I knew temps were forecasted to be uncharacteristically warm (high 40’s) so I figured I would run home from my office in the evening and tack on a couple miles for a total of 6. It was probably a good thing that I did this because when I went outside Wednesday morning, everything was a SHEET of ice – it was literally everywhere. If I had gotten up in the dark to go to the gym, I would almost certainly have slipped and fallen.

Thursday – Workout day. This time it was a 2 mile warm-up followed by 6 x 800 meters at 6:53 pace with 2:30 recoveries, followed by a 2-mile cool down. This was tough, but doable. I felt this in my quads and I KNEW I was going to be sore the next day. I knocked this off on the treadmill and the snow was just starting to fall as I came home. Unlike most of Boston, I still had to go to work but it was kind of cool seeing the city so empty and so snowy!

2 Generations Running

Friday – As expected, I was very sore. Luckily, I only had an easy 35 minutes to run which I knocked off on the treadmill since the streets were a slushy, icy mess. Later, walking to work, I slipped on some ice and fell flat on my back. The joys of winter… So in addition to my quads being wicked sore, my tailbone was also in pain. What a week.

Saturday – Easy 6 miles. The streets were still in terrible shape so once again, it was treadmill time. Thankfully, the Bibrave podcast kept me entertained through it and my quads were finally starting to feel normal again.

Sunday – Long run day and of course, there was more snow in the forecast. Ugh. I debated breaking up the run to do my first couple easy miles outdoors but the streets still were not in good shape and it would have required a lot of wardrobe changes going from street to treadmill. So I decided to suck it up and do the whole thing on the treadmill. The workout consisted of 2 mile warm-up, 1 x 3 miles at 7:32, 1 minute jogging recovery, 1 x 1.5 mile at 7:32, 5 minute jogging recovery, then 5 x 400 meters at 6:52 pace, capped off with 2 mile cool-down.

I really would have preferred to have done this on the road, BUT 11.15 miles later, it was complete. It was actually kind of nice that there were so many parts to this workout because it made it go by a lot faster. It was also probably good for my mental toughness.

Total # of Workouts: 2

Total Mileage: 45.5

Are you as sick of winter yet as I am?