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. πŸ™‚

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! πŸ™‚

Advertisements

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).Β 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)Β 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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚
  • 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. πŸ™‚

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!


Harpoon 5 Miler Race Recap

Hello hello!

I am always so slow to post these, but I figured it was finally time to share my recap of the Harpoon 5-Miler that I ran last week.

Harpoon is a hugely popular race in the Boston area, and I’ve always heard it spoken about with the kind of reverence typically reserved for races like the Boston Marathon. In the past, it had a lottery system to get in and I was never alert enough to actually throw my name in. But this year, registration was on a first-come, first-serve basis and thanks to some friendly reminders from folks in my running groups, I was actually able to sign up! And good thing I did right away because it sold out in 30 minutes.

I haven’t been doing any crazy speed workouts since Hyannis, but I’ve been steadily base-building and getting more serious about focusing on my strength and core routine so I knew I was in pretty decent shape. After the 5k PR at Run for the Troops, I was pretty sure I’d be able to run fast, especially on such a flat course. My coach suggested taping my watch for this race – something I’ve never done before! I was excited by the idea. I could just go out and run hard and see what kind of time I could throw down with zero pressure.

The morning of the race, my friend and I parked in the North End and then jogged over to the Seaport, about 2 miles. It was cloudy but muggy and we were both sweating and happy to peel off our longsleeve shirts once we got there. We had a little time to walk around and check my bag and then it was time to make the way to the start!

Because the race is so big, I was having lots of anxiety about getting boxed in during the early miles. I was probably a little too worried about this honestly. But because I was being neurotic, I made sure I got up towards the front, amongst a LOT of very speedy runners (like former collegiate D1 runner types). Haha, I was a little out of my league, but I just kept telling myself that I was gonna go out “hard but comfortable”.

Well, the gun sounded and off we went! As I mentioned earlier, my watch was taped so I didn’t know exactly how fast I was running, but I knew I was pushing it. I kept telling myself to be careful; that I had 5 miles to go, but I felt good(ish). There were so many fast runners around me and I kind of let myself get pulled along with the tide.

The first mile was fast, but ok. I told myself to ‘lock in’ to the pace and I think I managed to do just that pretty well. I hadn’t really thought about it, but of course being in the shipping district of the seaport – there weren’t really any spectators. I was also running without music so it was almost eerily quiet.

Just after mile 2.5, the course looped back on itself and I was able to see all the other runners. At this point, I was entering the pain cave so I was honestly pretty oblivious to seeing anyone I knew. I was also trying really hard to keep pushing – it can be so easy in the middle miles of a 5k or 5-miler to become complacent and ‘reserve’ energy and I was trying to avoid doing that.

By mile 4, I was in rough shape. My watch was still beeping at mile splits, but I was so out of it, I had lost track of what mile I was on and thought I was finishing when I really still had a mile to go. That was a bit of a slap in the face. I could feel my pace slipping and I was cursing myself for going out so hard in the first mile. I also swore to myself I would never race another 5-miler as long as I lived.

I got passed by a lot of people in the last mile. I hate that. I love negative splitting and finishing strong. I tried to be mentally tough and I would say I held up for a long time, but the last mile was pretty dark. When I crossed the finish line, I sat down immediately against the fence with the help of a nice volunteer who was clearly a little concerned about me.

I was having a lot of difficulty figuring out my watch for some reason (seriously, I was out of it!) but I finally figured out my official time was 34:59, 7:00 average pace. 1 second faster per mile than on the 5k I ran in April. πŸ™‚ I had taken the first mile out sub-7 and while I held on pretty good for 4 miles, I did fade badly by the end. And I can honestly say that in all my years of running, this was the closest I ever came to puking at the end of a race (I didn’t, but it truly was a close call). Not sure I should admit that on the blog, but I really am proud of how far I’ve come in being able to endure hard efforts for extended periods of time and that almost-puking sensation felt symbolic of my newfound grit.

Once I had recovered a bit, I looped back up with my friends and was able to take advantage of my drink tickets, grabbing a cider, which tasted pretty awesome by this point. The finish area filled up quickly as runners came in and the place took on a festive, party vibe. I was able to relax and soak in the accomplishment of what I had done.

Harpoon 5 Miler 2018 Recap

Initially, I was kind of beating myself up for going out so fast, but I had a good conversation with my coach about it. As she pointed out, rarely does anyone execute a perfectly negative split race with a taped watch. That’s not the point of it. You’re supposed to just throw down and see where the chips land. I never would have guessed I’d be able to average 7 flat over 5 miles. If I had run with my watch untaped, I probably would have aimed to be around 7:10/mile and I never would have discovered what I was capable of.

Harpoon 5 Miler Recap

So overall, I’d say Harpoon was a tremendous success and I hope to continue to run it in future years!


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. πŸ˜‰

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% committedΒ  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. πŸ™‚

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 Β 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 marathonΒ  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!


inBody Recovery Spa Review

*Disclosure: My mom and I received free treatments at inBody Recovery Spa in exchange for posting a review. All opinions posted are based on our experience and are my honest opinions. Thanks for your support!

Hello there!

As I mentioned in my last post, my mom and I recently got to test out some treatments at a new recovery spa in Arlington, Mass. Since I’m in the midst of heavy duty marathon training, I was super excited to try it!

A little background – inBody Relaxation Spa was founded by sisters Christine and Valerie as a way to promote a natural healing approach in the greater Boston area. Christine had been dealing with allergies and inflammation for years with no relief from prescription medicines. Only when she began incorporating holistic methods into her regimen, did she begin to experience relief from her symptoms. I’ve always been fascinated by entrepreneurship and I was so impressed to see two sisters running this awesome business that they are clearly passionate about!

My mom and I visited the spa during the afternoon on a weekday when it wasn’t busy. The space is BEAUTIFUL.

It’s such a relaxing environment and Valerie did a great job walking us through the various treatments they offer – cryotherapy, float therapy, infrared sauna, salt sauna, and chromotherapy. I had heard of cryotherapy before and was interested to try it, even though I was a little nervous about the whole freezing your body thing.

Cryotherapy ReviewFor those who don’t know, cryotherapy consists of dropping the temperature in a standing chamber to between -160 and -184 degrees Fahrenheit using nitrogen vapor. The good news is that you only need to stand in those temps for 3 minutes! Supposedly, this has comparable anti-inflammatory powers to that of a 30 minute ice bath. Given that I was in the middle of a 45 mile week at the time, my legs had been feeling a little tight and achy and I needed some anti-inflammatory magic!

inBody Spa ReviewI don’t look thrilled, but it really wasn’t too bad. It was uncomfortable but so is foam rolling and that takes WAY longer! πŸ˜‰ Valerie walked me through the treatment and was counting down the time which also helped a lot.

After literally freezing myself, the sauna sounded AMAZING. My mom and I decided to try the infrared sauna.

infrared sauna, inBodyThe infrared saunas don’t get as hot as traditional saunas, but at 100-150 degrees, it still felt nice and toasty. There was also soothing music that played the whole 45 minutes we were in the sauna which made it a little more relaxing than other saunas I have tried in the past. My mom and I had fun playing with the chromotherapy in the infrared sauna – supposedly, the different wavelengths of light can have different healing effects on your body.

inBody, Arlington Mass ReviewTesting out that purple wavelength. πŸ™‚

Overall, it was a really fun afternoon and my mom and I had a blast! I would definitely be interested in adding the cryotherapy as part of my regular recovery routine during marathon training, as I felt pretty darn good on my runs in the days following the treatments. If you’re local to the Boston area, I highly recommend trying out some of the treatments over at inBody!

Have you ever tried cryotherapy before? Would you be willing to give it a try? I hate the cold and I survived!