The Comeback

Thank you all for your kind comments on my last post, it meant the world.

Since my last post, I’ve been doing much better. Very shortly after I posted that, I listened to an interview of Neely Spence Gracey (a professional marathoner for Adidas) on the Ali on the Run podcast. In it, Neely spoke about her first season as a professional. She was gearing up for the Olympic Marathon Trials in 2016 when she had to withdraw due to injury. More recently, she had to withdraw from the New York City Marathon due to tendonitis hampering her training (SOUND FAMILIAR?!).

Ali on the Run podcastListening to this podcast, I had a few thoughts.

  1. I feel like I could be best friends with this girl (too bad she lives in Colorado!).
  2. I made the right decision to postpone my goal race.
  3. Thank goodness that I’m not a professional runner and that I get to do this because it’s fun and I actually just love running.

It was a really great interview and I highly recommend giving it a listen if you’ve been struggling with some injuries or are just fascinated by the lives of professional runners.

Mentally, I’m feeling much more positive and happy about the decision to not run the Philly Marathon than I was a few weeks ago.

And what about the hamstring??

Well, I’m happy to report that that actually IS feeling much better (and that’s not me just saying that trying to trick myself into believing it). Since my decision, my coach and I cut WAY back on my running. Last week, I ran 3 miles 4 days a week and this week I’m up to 4 miles. And that is without any tightness in my right hamstring!

Strava MilesWhen I think about it too much, I get a little sad looking back at the workouts I was doing back in the beginning of September and how strong I was feeling, but I know that I’ll build back up to that again. I also have to keep reminding myself that training stacks on top of training. No, I didn’t get to run a goal race after those all those weeks of work in August and September, but the fitness that I gained during that period will only make me stronger as I build up to that again.

Fall RunningIn the meantime, I’m going to continue to enjoy getting out for easy runs as the temps finally cool off this Fall! I haven’t signed up for one yet, but I’m hoping to be able to get in a turkey trot in a few weeks on Thanksgiving.

Oh, and as a sidenote, this happened –

Chicago Marathon

I’ll let you guys know on December 12th whether I’ll be going to Chicago in 2018!!

Anyone else already getting excited for Thanksgiving?? I think it might be my favorite holiday.

 

 


Spectating the Boston Marathon + An Announcement!

Well at this point we are one week removed from the Boston Marathon, but I am still slightly awestruck from the experience of watching the marathon this year. It’s interesting because at this point, marathons and races are nothing new to me. I’ve always said I love the excitement and joy of a race atmosphere.

Boston is on a whole different level.

Around 9:30 in the morning on Marathon Monday, I met up with my coach and a couple of her friends to head out to mile 18 to spectate and cheer on the other McKirdy Trained athletes participating in the race. Already at 9:30 in the morning, it was HOT – probably in the 60s and bright and sunny. Pretty nice for spectating but not at all good for running a marathon. We got off the subway close to Mile 16 in the race and were just in time to watch the elite women breeze by us.

Elite women You could tell they were working hard but they still looked FAST. The crowds lining both sides of the streets erupted in cheers every time one of these women passed.

Shortly thereafter came the elite men. We saw the lead pack with Galen Rupp and a bunch of others cruising right along. A minute or two behind them was Meb! We cheered for him like no other and I was so excited to get some good pictures. His stride looked so powerful, I was in awe.

Meb Boston Marathon 2017We continued on our way, walking to just before mile 19 on the course. I knew Boston was huge on spectators, but still, it was something to experience, seeing the course lined with spectators on both sides so far outside of downtown Boston. There was also a much more relaxed vibe out on this part of the course. There was still plenty of security but there weren’t security checkpoints at every corner, which made it way easier to get around. People had set up tents and/or picnics outside their homes, kids were running around, and the whole thing just felt like one big, epic block party (one that just happened to be bisected by a marathon).

As we continued on, we saw a McKirdy Trained athlete coming our way who we immediately started cheering for. She saw us and stumbled toward Mary, clearly not in good shape. Just as she reached us at the side of the road, she toppled over onto the ground. Mary and her friend immediately scooped her up, protecting her from being trampled by the steady flow of runners behind her. Someone ran over and gave us a water bottle which we gave to her, and then she insisted on continuing on her way, despite assurances that she could stop and get some help. It was honestly a little scary and really hit home how tough the conditions on the course were.

Boston Marathon spectatingFinally, we got to our prime viewing area just before Mile 19. By this point, the elites were passed and more of the ‘average’ runners were passing in a steady stream. I had so much fun cheering for all the runners and listening to the funny cheers and comments from the group standing near us. It was hilarious how many runners ended up striking up conversation with those guys as they ran past!

Last year, I had gotten caught up in the chaos of trying to find my way to the hotel my running club hosts an after-party at right by the finish. Crowds of people, security checkpoints, and general pandemonium had me so stressed out I was hardly able to enjoy the marathon. It was so different this year and so nice to actually be able to spectate and enjoy the race. I would highly recommend the stretch of Mile 16-18 to anyone looking to spectate along the Boston Marathon!

I had felt passionate about running Boston someday before this whole experience, but watching it this year really brought the feeling to life for me. More than ever, this race feels like the Olympics of running for the everyday runner. So… after all the excitement and inspiration, I figured it was finally time to cement my own plans for 2017. Namely, marathon #4 and my attempt to BQ once and for all…

Philadelphia Marathon 2017

Philly.

Bring on Marathon #4.


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?


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!)?