July/August Chicago Training Check-In

Hey there, hope you all had a good weekend!

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On Running - Cloud

On Running

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

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Run for the Troops 2018 RACE RECAP

Hello again!

I know it’s been a while, so let’s catch up on a few things before I dive into the recap of the 5k I ran on Sunday.

  1. I got to watch the Boston Marathon and saw Des Linden run by. As crazy and cold as the marathon was, it was also magical. I’m so glad I had a group of friends to spectate with (and an apartment to run inside and warm up in between cheering). Boston Marathon 2018
  2. I’ve had a bit of a career switch again. While I don’t want to get into the details, I’m happy about it and think it’ll be for the best.
  3. After getting some much needed rest after Hyannis, I am back to training and feel great! My last few weeks have been around 30-35 miles per week and I think I’m laying a solid foundation for Chicago (October 7th).

Ok! Now, let’s dive into this weekend.

The Run for the Troops race is one of my mom’s favorites and we’ve been doing it for several years now. The week before, I had gone back and read my race recap from it in 2015 and I was cracking up. In it, I write “I knew I wanted to push the pace, so I wished my mom good luck and went to stand with the 8-minute mile section. Mile 1 – 7:55. I was quite happy to look down at my watch to see this split after the first mile…” I ended up running a 23:34, which is an average of 7:35/mile, and at the time it was a PR (though I had broken it since then).

Considering I ran Mile 22 of Hyannis in a 7:53, I was pretty dang confident “pushing the pace” was no longer an 8 minute mile. But honestly, I hadn’t raced a 5k in so long that I didn’t know what I was capable of. I tentatively thought I should go out at a 7:20 and push the pace from there, but in the end I just decided to run by feel.

We got there early and my mom and I picked up our bibs. I went outside to warm up on a little paved track next to the Andover Senior Center. We cut it a little closer than I wanted with walking around trying to find the bib pick-up so I only had time for a 1.75 mile warm-up and a few quick drills. After all my hamstring issues, I don’t like to skimp on the warm-up for a hard effort.

Right before 9, I headed to the start and made sure I got a good spot towards the front. It’s a pretty popular 5k and can get congested so I wanted to make sure I had the room to open up my stride without dodging walkers and kids. Right on time, we were off!

The course is pretty rolling and right in the first mile, we were going up a gradual uphill. As expected, everyone took off at an insane pace and people were flying by me. I was running around 6:50ish pace early in the mile and told myself to rein it in and just focus on running my race.

Run for the Troops 5k Course MapI knew I was running the first mile faster than I had originally planned on, but my coach had told me that mile 1 should be “manageable”. I honestly felt like I was managing fine. It was a fast pace but I felt strong. I hit Mile 1 in 7:03.

Ok, so a little fast. But I was still feeling relatively good-ish. Mile 2 had more small rolling hills and I focused on my arm drive to power up. At this point, I was starting to pass some folks who had gone out too fast and that was just the mental boost I needed. Around 2.5, I spotted another woman I recognized from the Good Times Series 5ks – I ran those races every week during the summer of 2015 and this lady had beat me EVERY TIME in those. She wasn’t too far ahead so I focused on maintaining my pace and keeping an eye on her. We must have been the only women near each other at this point in the race because at one point, a friend called out hi to her and said that there was one “right behind” (ME)! Mile 2 was a 7:13. Again, I was almost surprised to see this split, but I had come this far, so I wanted to close out the race right.

Mile 3 was where I had to really step up my mental game. I had been creeping up on the Good Times Series lady and eventually I was passing her. I threw down a surge and passed as authoritatively as I could so that she wouldn’t try to come with me. But then I also had the fear that she would pass me before the end. I thought a lot about Deena Kastor’s new book which I had just finished reading. She talked a lot about positive mindset and self-talk, and I tried to implement every one of her tricks. There were a couple of brutal hills in the last mile, and by the last one, I was starting to feel a little grumpy (and vaguely tempted to walk).

Run for the Troops 5k elevation profileAnd that was when I realized, this is it. This is the mental moment where you can check out and run comfortably, or you can continue to push until you taste blood in the back of your throat (her words, not mine). So I grinded up that hill and tried to take advantage on the downhill. Mile 3 – 7:01 (I definitely think this would have been sub-7 if there hadn’t been that brutal hill).

Finally, I could hear the music and see the turn-off into the parking lot where the race was finishing. Whipping around the corner, I could hear someone shout “5th female”! Which was such a cool feeling. I’m not usually that close to the front and it just made me feel like such a badass. The Good Times Series lady never passed me and I crossed the finish line in 22:02.

Run for the Troops 5k

I was indeed 5th female, and 3rd in my age group. I was also a good 1 minute and 30 seconds faster than when I ran it in 2015. It’s moments like these that are why I love running so gosh darn much. There’s nothing like good old race results for looking at how far you’ve come from when you started. And you know I’m coming for that sub 22 minute 5k!

Post race starbucksNo medals at the race this year so we got some Starbucks to celebrate with instead. 🙂

So overall, a really fun day and it’s got me feeling even more excited for the other races I have coming up! May is going to be a busy month with the Harpoon 5-Miler on the 20th followed by the Run to Remember Half on the 27th. Can’t wait to run those and keep cruisin’ towards Chicago!

 


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! 😉 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. 🙂

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!

 


Strength Training & Running: Rep Fitness Equipment Review

Disclaimer: I received a free set of free weights and kettlebell from Rep Fitness Equipment in exchange for an open and honest review. Thanks! Hello again! Today, I wanted to press pause on all of the running and speedwork talk and switch gears for a minute to talk about strength training.

Rep Fitness EquipmentMy first experience with strength training was with forced lifting sessions in my high school gym when I was doing indoor and outdoor track.

2 Generations Running. Long Jump.

Possibly my favorite throwback pic of all time.

It was a tiny little room crammed with machines that was always PACKED when the track team shuffled in to do our workouts. I was not a fan. It always seemed relatively pointless and boring. I didn’t see how any of it was going to make me faster on the track. Running hill repeats made sense to me, as painful as those were. Calf raises and squats? Sure didn’t seem like those were doing much.

I’m pretty sure I rushed through the exercises (probably with horrible form) so that I could get out of practice early. Needless to say, when I got back into running on my own in college, weight training was never part of the agenda. I’d happily run my miles, shower, and take off for class – no stretching or pre-hab of any kind.

Fast forward a few years, and I started working with my coach, Mary the genius behind Lift Run Perform. Mary has always preached to me the importance behind strength training for injury prevention in running. The fact is, all of us have imbalances in our bodies. All of the pounding we put on our bodies by running high mileage adds up and often leads to problems down the road.

My most recent injuries are a testament to just how true this is. First with the Achilles tendonitis – probably the result of imbalances in my calf muscles. Now my physical therapist has me doing all these variations of heel raises to work on creating truly bullet-proof calves. And I can already tell it’s working – my tendonitis is essentially gone (after lingering for MONTHS.)

Fast Half Marathon Race Recap

Eeked out a small half marathon PR… and a case of Achilles tendonitis.

Then there was the hamstring strain. This one was pretty unfortunate in that I was actually trying to work on strengthening my hamstrings when I hurt myself. I was doing some hamstring curls with an exercise ball when I felt the muscle tweak and immediately stopped. A few days later, doing speedwork in the Rock n Roll Montreal Half, it gave way, turning into a very painful strain.

It’s becoming very clear to me that to train at the level that I want to, I HAVE to put in some work outside of running miles. That’s why I was so excited when Rep Fitness reached out to me. I have slowly been working on building my own little home gym so that I have no excuse to skip strength training. I love the free weights and kettlebell they sent me. I opted for 10 lb weights – versatile enough to use on a variety of different exercises and a 25-lb kettlebell (which strangely enough I’ve started referring to as Big Bertha in my head.)

Rep Fitness EquipmentOther equipment that I highly recommend for a home gym:

  • Exercise mat
  • Set of lower weight dumbbells (you’d be surprised at how hard some exercises can be only using 5 lbs!)
  • Resistance bands

rep fitness equipment

As my hammie recovers, I’m looking forward to using my kettlebell in some deadlifts and squats to really get to work on strengthening my hamstrings and preventing future strains. With the addition of my new free weights, I’ve already gotten back into doing some of my favorite Fitnessblender videos – Tank Top Arms Round 1 and Round 2.

I think it’s important to remember you don’t need to have an expensive gym membership to be able to strength train (especially if you are the type of person who has difficulty motivating yourself to get out the door and actually go to the gym). Choose a few key pieces of equipment and utilize resources on the internet (TRUSTED RESOURCESnot just any old website) to learn about correct form and various exercises.

Do you strength train? What’s been your worst running injury?


OOFOS OMG Shoe Review!

Disclaimer: I received a pair of OOFOS OMG Shoes 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 Friday!

As we head into the weekend (usually a great time for some R&R), I wanted to share with you all my thoughts on the OOFOS OMG shoe which I was sent to test out and review as a Bibrave ambassador.

OOFOS OMG Shoe ReviewOOFOS is known for their recovery footwear and frankly, I’m glad that a company has started paying more attention to this. As runners, we’re only wearing our running sneakers for a small fraction of the day and then we’re putting on other footwear that are probably not the best for our feet (*cough cough… flip flops).

OOFOS is different from the other ‘squishy’ types of shoes on the market in that it is made with a special foam that absorbs 37% more shock than other types of shoe foam. I actually got to see a little demonstration of this when I was at The Running Event where they dropped 2 golf balls side by side on pieces of foam, 1 from OOFOS and the other a different brand. When the golf ball hit the OOFOS foam, it barely bounced at all while the other one bounced a good 2-3 times. That’s because OOFOS was absorbing the shock.

After I’ve gone for a 12-15 mile long run on the weekends, I want nothing more than for my feet to be totally babied. By that point, I’ve already put enough stress on them. Slipping on OOFOS feels fantastic and SO much better than a regular pair of slippers or flip-flops.

The weeks leading up to the Fast Half had me running pretty high mileage and some tough workouts. I wanted to take care of my feet and keep them in good shape for my race, so I just decided to wear the OOFOS OMG shoe to work! I couldn’t really have pulled that off with their sandals this time of year given how crappy the weather in Boston has been.

OOFOS OMG Shoe ReviewHere’s a few more specific notes on my experience with the OOFOS OMG shoe:

  • Fit was true to size. I’m generally a 9.5-10 in regular shoes and a 10.5 in running sneakers. I went with a size 10 and they fit comfortably (both with and without socks).
  • I wore them a lot when I first got them with no problems at all. On maybe the 4th day wearing them, I did get a tiny blister on my heel from the shoe rubbing, but this does happen to me a lot with flats or certain sneakers.
  • I wouldn’t call these the most fashion-forward shoe… They’re pretty plain and if I were to see them in a store, I wouldn’t pick them out for myself. But, the black style I got does pretty much go with everything and I can wear them to my office without looking too silly.
  • They really do feel insanely comfortable in the way they cradle your arches and absorb the shock of your steps.
  • Color choice: currently, the OOFOS OMG shoes only come in black, gray, and a neon yellow. I’d love to see more options become available down the road.
  • Cost: $120. Yes, these are a little pricey, but it is funny how as runners, we wouldn’t even bat an eyelash about spending that on a pair of running shoes. When I look at it that way, it kind of makes sense that you should pay that much for a great recovery shoe.
  • Overall, I really do think these are a useful pair of shoes for a runner to add to their arsenal. I’m stoked to have a pair myself as I know the mileage will start picking up again soon as I dive back into marathon training for Philly!

OOFOS OMG shoe reviewBrady would recover in the OOFOS OMG shoe too if they made a version for dogs.

What are your favorite recovery techniques? Have you tried OOFOS before?


The Fast Half Recap

Happy Monday!

This past weekend, I ran my half marathon redemption race, the Fast Half. After missing my goal at the Half at the Hamptons, I had been eager to find another half a few weeks later to give the PR another shot.

The weather was absolutely perfect this time around – low 50s and overcast. There was a breeze, but it was nowhere near the 20+ mph headwinds I was contending with at the Hamptons. Mentally, I felt ready. I felt like I had learned my lessons from the Half at the Hamptons, and I was ready to hop aboard the pain train once again.

The start/finish was at the Hamilton-Wenham regional high school, about an hour’s drive for me. I showed up about an hour early and had no issue parking, getting my bib, and using the porta-potty. While doing my warm-up, I also discovered another bathroom open to the public around the back of the school, which I was able to use a couple more times without having to wait in any lines – SCORE. 🙂

Before I knew it, it was 9 am and everyone was lining up at the start. It was a pretty small race and I was able to get a good position near-ish to the front. And then, we were off!

The goal was to go out a touch slower than I had at the Half at the Hamptons and to run very comfortable through Mile 6, at which point things would start to get tough.

I settled into an easy rhythm, enjoying the scenery and the gentle downhill of the first few miles. Miles 1-3 were 7:53, 7:53, and 7:54. Right on target. I had a group of the same runners who I was pretty much sticking with through these miles and it felt good having the company.

After the first 5k, I knew it was time to push a little bit harder. I was still feeling really comfortable and miles were ticking by like clockwork. I took my first GU and was able to get it down relatively easily. I had kind of struggled with my nutrition in March so it was a relief to have this go smoothly this time around. Mile 4 I hit in 7:48.

For the next couple miles, I worked on trying to maintain this slightly fast pace as we entered more of the rolling hills. Mile 4-5 featured a decent climb and I was happy to come away with a 7:51 split for the mile. Mile 6-7 I knew was going to be a tough one. It’s pretty much uphill for the whole mile. I focused on remembering what my coach had told me – “You are fit enough to recover on the downhills.” I reminded myself of the Groton Road Race where I had run 7:30-7:45 pace on substantial hills. I ended up squeaking out an 8:01 split for the mile. A bit slower than I wanted, but not as bad as I had worried it would be.

I told myself that the worst of the hills were over and now I could get to work at dialing the pace down again. Unfortunately, there really were plenty more hills coming my way. Mile 8 I was able to recover a bit running a 7:49. Still slower than what I realistically wanted to be running at this time in the race though.

Mile 9 I hit in 8:05. I remember a couple of small climbs during this mile, plus I took my second GU at this time. I know I was 100% feeling the strain at this point. I knew my original goal of 1:41 was out the window, but I had to hold on if I was going to still squeak out a PR. I couldn’t let myself fall apart the way I did before.

Miles 10 and 11 I hit in 7:53 and 7:51. Again, slower than what I had really hoped for, but not terrible in the grand scheme of things.

And then the wheels fell off….

I tried to focus on sticking with a girl in a purple shirt who I had caught up to over the last mile who was looking strong. Maybe she just looked strong because I felt like crap though, I’m not sure. I tried to concentrate on my breathing and I tried really hard to just not give up on myself. Never have 2 miles felt so EFFING long though. I hit Mile 12 in 8:14 and Mile 13 in 8:09. No bueno.

As I came around the final bend and entered the school parking lot, I saw the clock read 1:44 and I sprinted as hard as I could across the finish, so glad to be DONE.

Fast Half MarathonSo I got my PR, but only by about a minute or so. I’m happy to have PR’ed, but also slightly frustrated that I lost pace so badly in the last 2 miles. If I could have kept it in the 7:50s at least, my average pace would probably have been around a 7:51 for a 1:43 finish. Yes, I’m agonizing over seconds here, but I feel like those last 2 miles pretty much botched an otherwise solid race.Fast Half Marathon Race Recap

But the other thing I keep remind myself is that this race really was not all that flat and fast. Here is what my Garmin captured as the elevation profile from this course versus the map they put on the race website.

Fast Half Elevation Profile

And the elevation profile they post on their website-

Fast Half Elevation

Yes, the general gist is the same, although I think it’s fair to say that they selected a scale and width of the line to smooth out some of the other smaller hills that were in between the big climbs.

I also thought it was interesting looking at Strava’s grade-adjusted pace data from the run.

Notice Mile 7 where I actually ran an 8:01 – my grade-adjusted pace would have been a 7:41.

Overall, I think this just proves to me how much choosing the right course matters when you’re racing. No, I can’t avoid hills entirely (though I definitely wish I could), but you do need to take them into consideration when selecting goal races.

I know my fitness is there. I am so much stronger than I was back in November when I first joined McKirdy Trained, and that’s exciting. Yes, this was a small squeaker of a PR, but that just means there will be more records to be set down the road.

No, I am not hunting down another half marathon to race this summer though. I am ready for a nice break from the half marathon (and a short break from running) to let my body recover before diving into whatever is next.

 


Run Fast Eat Slow Post #8: Spelt Banana Bread

Hello there!

It has been WAY too long since I’ve done a Run Fast Eat Slow recipe post. My mom and I have still been cooking our way through it, we’re just not always on top of getting the blog posts written (e.g., we eat the food before taking any photos…)

(Weekend activities – reading the new Runners World, cooking from Run Fast Eat Slow, some light weight exercises)

This past weekend, I finally got my act together and was ready to do some cooking. I had a couple of bananas that were way overripe so it was pretty much the perfect excuse to try the Spelt Banana Bread (pg. 183).

The recipe only uses a quarter cup of sugar and no vegetable oil, which makes it a little different from typical banana bread recipes (though it does have a whole stick of butter). It also calls for spelt flour. I had all-purpose baking flour on hand, so I decided that would be good enough, though I would be curious to try it with the spelt to see how that changes the taste/texture.

Run Fast Eat Slow Banana Bread

The recipe was pretty quick and easy. I had some dates and walnuts on hand so I mixed those in as well.

Run Fast Eat Slow Banana BreadI sampled a piece right away – SO. GOOD. I’ve been having to pace myself because I could probably eat the whole loaf in 2 days. It’s banana bread, so that’s like the ultimate carbo-loading food right? Perfect for my half marathon tomorrow!

Another Run Fast Eat Slow success! I’d definitely recommend giving this one a try for when you’re craving some yummy banana bread goodness.

Have a wonderful weekend! Have you cooked up anything good lately?