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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

Advertisements

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. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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!


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).ย 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.ย 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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!

 


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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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% committedย  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!!


2017 Year in Review

I cannot believe we are mid-way through December and almost done with 2017. As the new year has been approaching, I’ve found myself reflecting a lot on everything that has happened in the past year, running and otherwise.

On the non-running side of things, I changed jobs which was a little scary but ultimately a good move I think. I also adopted Callie (my kitty) which was 1000% a great move and I feel beyond lucky to have her fluffy little face to come home to everyday.

As for the running…. it was not quite the year I had hoped for. My goals going into 2017 were to run a big PR in the half marathon in the early spring and then train for the Philly Marathon, hopefully running another big PR. It certainly did not work out that way. Maybe this was ambitious of me butย  honestly, I think it was mostly bad luck that did me in.

I did eek out a small PR in the half, but looking back, I still feel that my time did not really accurately reflect the fitness I had or what I was trained to do.

But the real kicker of the whole year were the injuries that plagued my marathon training. First the Achilles tendinitis and then the hamstring strain. The decision not to run the full at Philly was literally gut-wrenching, though I know it was for the best.

So I rounded out 2017 with a 1-minute PR in the half marathon and NO marathon at all. Not exactly what I had in mind when I was looking ahead to 2017 all starry-eyed and optimistic about the coming year.

Strangely enough, I thought I would feel more annoyed looking back on this. But honestly, I feel a confidence that delayed gratification will be coming my way. Yes, in terms of actually meeting my goals, this year was a bust. There’s no way around it. But it was also the first year I feel I fully trained to my best ability. It was my first year working with a coach, and I truly do feel that in many ways, this was a building year for me (isn’t that what they always say in baseball when a team has a horrible season?). For the first time ever, I ran truly consistent mileage (with breaks only after goal races… or when injuries flared up).

Pre-Coach:

2017 Weekly Mileage

And with a coach:

2017 Weekly MileageJust to dive into these numbers a little bit, from August-September, I was averaging just about 40 miles a week. In 2016, I think I put in about 2 weeks in that range right before Baystate (I peaked at 49 miles for that marathon). This year, I learned it’s not really about what you hit during your “peak week” in training – it’s about steadily maintaining a high volume for several weeks (I averaged 42 miles/week for 4 weeks leading up to my goal half).

If there’s a secret sauce for improvement in running, it’s consistency. I KNOW the cumulative mileage I put on my legs this year has made me a stronger runner. And I’m also not afraid of running high(er) mileage anymore.

Going into 2018, I still have some major time goals for the marathon, but I also don’t want to make that my only focus. More than anything, I want to focus on becoming a stronger, more injury-resistant runner. I want to be disciplined about doing the small stuff that will keep me running healthy – namely PT exercises and general strength training.

In spite of all the disappointment this year, I still feel incredibly passionate and excited for this sport. I’m eagerly awaiting my next crack at 26.2 miles on February 25th (**fingers crossed because I’ve learned it’s better not to jinx things). After that, who knows? I just want to keep running with a smile on my face.


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?


Exciting Things Are Happening

Hello and Happy Monday!

CallieHere’s another cute picture of Callie because she is my fave and whose Monday can’t be improved by looking at a cute cat picture?

This week in running featured a good speed workout and a 12-miler on the weekend (eee, longest run since May!!)

On Wednesday, I ran the following workout-

Speed workout

The distance worked out to about 7.6 miles (my cool down was a little over a mile). I didn’t have a track to run this on so I just used a nice flat stretch of my usual running loop. It was a little awkward looking down at my watch to see where I was at on distance for each repeat. Overall, I think I did pretty good and my last set of 200s was nice and fast.

We officially hit this mark –

I was thinking the other day that I’m kind of glad I still have 3 months to go till this race. I haven’t had to do any 16-20 milers yet, and maybe (*fingers crossed*), we will make it into the cooler Fall weather before I have to run that long. I remember SUFFERING through some hot and humid long runs last year training for Baystate and I’m kind of glad marathon training hasn’t been like that this year.

My 12 miles on Saturday was fueled by Nuun performance hydration mix. I picked up some of this at the Boston Marathon expo back in April and I’ve been waiting for some longer runs to really test it out. I LOVED it on my run today. It’s not as sweet as Gatorade but it still gets you those electrolytes.

Pre-long run there was coffee. Obviously.

Nuun

And then on the run, there was Linkin Park.

Linkin Park

I loved Linkin Park when I was in high school but I hadn’t listened to them much recently. After learning about Chester Bennington‘s passing, I started listening to more of their music again and remembered how much I loved it. And it is AWESOME running music.

My total mileage for the week bumped up to just over 37 – keep the miles comin’!

In non-running news, I have an exciting announcement (that actually is kind of running-related)! After 2 years working in the obstacle course racing industry, I am changing jobs! I will be working at a local running store in the Boston area and assisting them in putting on local road races. I am SUPER excited. ๐Ÿ™‚ It will mean less travel and it won’t be the typical 9-5 office job. I’m sad to leave my coworkers but overall I think it will be a great change of pace and I’m glad to be a little bit more immersed in an industry I am absolutely passionate about.

So lots of happiness and excitement going on in these parts.

Hope you had a great weekend! Have you been watching the IIAF Track and Field World Championships at all? Emma Coburn’s performance in the 3000m Steeplechase was AMAZING!