Happy New Year + A look Back at 2016

Happy New Year everyone!

I have been meaning to write up this post for a while, but as usual, life got in the way. Anyways, it’s New Years Eve as I’m writing this, which seems like as good a time as any to look back at the past year.

This was the first year where I had to juggle the responsibilities of a full-time job, a hectic travel schedule, and training for numerous races. Overall, I’m pretty proud of how it all went. Yes, there were moments of stress and mornings where I desperately wanted to sleep in rather than log another 5 miles (and also mornings where the bed won). Somehow, I got through it all and ran 2 marathons, shaving a total of around 45 minutes off from my first attempt at the distance. There were also PRs in the half marathon and 5k.

While my mom and I were training for the Delaware Marathon, we ran the Augusta Half Marathon in February in Georgia. Clearly the marathon training had me in great shape, and I was able to take 3 minutes off my time to bring my PR down to a 1:45. My mom got 3rd in her age group at that race which was the icing on the cake.

Augusta Half MarathonIn March, we both ran Stu’s 30k in Clinton, Mass. For both my mom and I, this was the first year we ran the whole 30k instead of doing the relay option. HOLY HILLS! It was probably one of the most challenging races we’ve completed (and my mom may have sworn off ever doing this race again), but overall we ran really well and I look back on this race with fond memories (probably because the pain from those stupid rolling hills has faded from memory).

2016 Stu's 30KIn May, there was the infamous Delaware Marathon. It was not really the marathon result I had hoped for and it wasn’t the best day for my mom either. But I think it taught me a valuable lesson. You’ve got to respect the distance and run what you are trained for. Sometimes you have to set your ego aside to figure out what that pace is. My aggressive pace coupled with the warmer temps was a recipe for disaster. I’ve decided I’d rather accept a slower time and be able to enjoy the post race party than push myself to the point of heat stroke and end up in the ER (#LifeLessons).

Delaware Marathon Race RecapJune and July were relatively quiet with no big races. However, in July my mom talked me into signing up to run the Baystate Marathon in October. At the time, I was pretty nervous about stepping back into marathon training after what had happened in Delaware, but I am so grateful she managed to convince me to go for it.

In August, my mom and I ran the Hobble Creek Half Marathon. While we did cross off another state, the name of this race proved to be a bad omen. What had been a niggling pain for my mom turned into a full-blown hamstring injury after all the miles of downhill running. While we had a fun vacation in Utah, I’m afraid the memories will always be tainted by the aftermath of this race.

Delicate ArchSeptember was full of long runs as I went through my final month of training for Baystate. I hit my highest mileage week ever. My Strava data shows September was my biggest month of mileage for the year. Note: I didn’t start using Strava until late April of this year so I don’t have a complete picture of the data unfortunately.

Monthly Mileage 2016

In October, I ran Baystate and completed my 3rd marathon! This race was HUGE for me. I PR’ed again, running a 3:53. That was nothing compared to the way I felt during this race though. My previous 2 marathons were big struggles for me, especially during the last 6-7 miles. In both of those marathons, I finished thinking I would never run a marathon again. Baystate was the first time I felt in control and strong for 26.2 miles. I never had to walk, AND I managed a small negative split.

Baystate Marathon 2016 Race RecapYou know it’s a good marathon when you’re actually smiling. This race has given me the confidence to continue with marathoning and I fully plan on running another in 2017.

The past couple months, I have slowly been building my mileage again in preparation for the Half at the Hamptons. It’s been a long time since I’ve done some targeted training for the half marathon and I’m excited to see the results.

Final stats of 2016:

States we’ve Crossed Off: 3 (Delaware, Georgia, Utah)

Marathons: 2

Toenails Lost: 2 (notice the correlation between lost toenails and marathons…)

 

 

PRs: in the 5k, half, and marathon

Pairs of Shoes: 5 (I think)

Total Miles: 1,541.9 – The data below is from Strava. I switched over to Strava from MapMyRun mid-April. I went back to my MapMyRun account and was able to see that I ran 405.1 miles during those first 4 months of 2016. This mileage is probably a little short since I didn’t log treadmill runs before I got my new Garmin. Hoping I can hit 2,000 miles in 2017!

strava-2

Top Blog Posts of 2016: The 4-Week Half Marathon Plan (really more for how to finish a half in 4 weeks when you have a super busy schedule… not a training plan for PRs!!), Asics Gel-Electro 33 Review (this shoe has been discontinued so unfortunately, I don’t think this post will stay popular much longer!), Why I Switched From MapMyRun to Strava, About Me (thanks for being curious!)

 

All in all, it was a very successful year. Yes, it had its ups and downs, but most years do. Here’s to hoping 2017 brings even bigger and better things. 🙂

Hope everyone had a wonderful New Years Eve! How was your 2016? Any big goals for 2017? 

 

 


5ks vs. Marathons

I have run a lot of 5ks recently (even excluding the Turkey Trot mishap). There was the Boston River Run, then the Indie 5k at The Running Event in Orlando, FL (I skipped the recap on this one… There wasn’t much exciting about it to be totally honest), and this past weekend, I ran the Yulefest 5k (though I used this as more of a workout and less of a race).

Vazee 2090 Review | 2 Generations RunningAfter all these races, I had a bit of a realization.

5ks are really, freaking hard.

The 5k I ran in Orlando was PANCAKE flat, though hot and humid and I was seriously wiped out by Mile 2. It was such a struggle to keep running, which seems ridiculous given that the race was only 3.1 miles.

As crazy as it sounds, I think I prefer the slow burn of 26.2 miles to the intense blast of pain that comes with racing a 5k. Yes, the marathon beats your legs up more (and I have yet to lose a toenail from a 5k), but there is something about ticking off the miles in a marathon that makes me feel almost superhuman strong (as tired as you are by mile 20).

Baystate Marathon 2016 Race RecapI have yet to really race a 5k where I did not feel like I was at death’s door by the end.

It’s funny because people automatically assume that it’s the “less serious” runners who are running 5ks for the most part. But running a really good, fast 5k is arguably much harder than running a decent marathon time. And this is definitely something I struggle with. I was really happy with my performance at Baystate. I’m proud of running a 3:53, and I’m also 100% confident that I can improve on that. It’s harder to feel that way about the 5k, when I feel like I am clawing tooth and nail to take a few seconds off.

The 5k brings back memories of the first time I raced the 400 in high school (one lap around the track). I took off fast and kept up fairly well with the older girls at first, until the final 150 meters where my legs just locked up. I felt like I was still running hard but to everyone else, it looked like I was jogging it in.

Obviously, everyone tends to prefer things they are good at and I won’t lie that that probably plays a big part in my preference. My marathon time has improved in huge jumps over 3 attempts, but with the 5k, it’s been quite the challenge to shave off SECONDS, and I have raced more 5ks than I can count.

I know I’ll get there in my 5k, it’s just a question of putting in the work and training.

So shoutout to all the 5k runners out there! Props to you for crushing it in a race that doesn’t get nearly the credit it deserves. And if you haven’t read Lauren Fleshman’s article, 10 Reasons the 5k is Freaking Awesome, you’ve GOT to read it. 🙂

Happy weekend and try to stay warm out there! It is going to be in the low teens in New England this weekend and I am pretty much ready to spend the entire weekend curled up under a blanket. 🙂


Why I Switched from MapMyRun to Strava

You may remember I did a post a while back on all the perks of using MapMyRun to track my running routes. I was a dedicated MapMyRun user up until this winter when I started getting kind of annoyed by the app.

Why I Switched from MapMyRun to Strava | 2 Generations RunningIt’s always been clear that the paces/distances covered are slightly off between my Garmin and the app (with the app generally indicating longer distance and faster splits), but as my runs got longer with marathon training, it got crazy. MapMyRun would be off by as much as 2 miles on my 20-milers! In the already fragile mental state that comes with running 20+ miles, this got really annoying. Hearing the voice feedback from MapMyRun that I had hit 20 miles when I was actually only at mile 18 was semi-heartbreaking. After experiencing that a few times, I had had enough.

I had heard good things about Strava from a few different runners, so I decided to try it. After using it for the past 5 or so months, I have to say I am a complete convert. It’s not a perfect fix from the issues I experienced with MapMyRun, but it makes up for those shortcomings by being excellent in other areas.

The Pro’s of Strava:

  • The segment leadership boards. As a pretty competitive person, this is my favorite feature. It’s so fun being able to see the times in which other Strava users ran the same routes and see where you stack up. I was pretty stoked to top the leaderboard on the 5k course I ran on Sunday, even with a time that’s not my best!!!

Strava Leaderboard

  • You can search for segments in your area which can help you find new running routes to try out.

Strava Leadership Boards | 2 Generations Running(As you can see, you can also obtain “Premium Leaderboards” by paying for the app which further break down the segment leaderboards. A cool feature, but frankly I’m content with the level of data I get with the free version).

  • It shows how you are trending on certain routes – faster or slower.
  • The general data presentation is better than on MapMyRun. It shows your mile splits, average pace, route, elevation profile, and pace analysis (see below).

Strava Review | 2 Generations Running(The pace analysis screen from a speed workout I did last week. You can see where I slowed wayyy down in between sets.)

  • Strava can also be used for recording biking. I’m not really big into cycling so I don’t use this feature, but I know it appeals to a lot of other folks.

The Con’s of Strava:

  • As a pretty competitive person, knowing I am using the app can make it pretty tempting to run my easy runs a little too fast because I feel like I’m racing other Strava users. And there is something that bums me out about having the app tell me I just ran my route slower than usual (even if that was the whole point of the run!)
  • I don’t think it’s really any more accurate in recording distance than MapMyRun was. It still seems to be off a little bit from my Garmin. For example, on my last 22 mile training run, Strava recorded it as 23.3 miles. Obviously, these issues are magnified on longer runs. For anything under 10-15 miles, it seems to be fairly good.
  • It still has challenges, much the way MapMyRun does, but I have yet to receive any discounts to running/athletic apparel brands the way I did with Under Armour through using MapMyRun.
  • It’s a little easier to “add gear” (like running shoes) in the MapMyRun app for the purposes of tracking mileage. You can do it through Strava, but not through the app (you have to log on and do it through your PC).

Overall, I think Strava appeals to me because I have gotten more serious and competitive with running over the past year. I love racing, and Strava can help turn any run into a race if you decide you want to try to claim the top of a leaderboard. It also has more of a Facebook-esque/social media vibe to it, in that it has a feed that will show the most recent runs of other runners who you are connected with (so you can do a little creeping on the training of your super speedy arch nemesis!)

Do you use Strava or a different running app? Do you experience issues with it being off from what your GPS watch records?


The Delaware Marathon: 1 Week To Go!

When my mom and I signed up for this race in December, May 8th sounded very far away. 16 weeks of training later, and here we are – This Sunday, we’ll be running 26.2 miles (in a row!)

Delaware Marathon and Running Festival | 2 Generations Running

It’s been a long 16 weeks, full of ups and downs. There have been moments when I’ve been confident in my training and just full to the brim with my love for running. And then, there were times when I told myself that I freaking hated marathons and would never train for one again (like when I ran 20 miles in the cold rain.) Even I would have to admit, that’s probably not going to be true though. 😉

At least, assuming I make it through this marathon without losing a toenail again.

Marathon TrainingRunning through the slush has finally given way to sunshine and flowers.

At the beginning of this whole process, my mom and I talked a lot about our goals for this marathon – namely, qualifying for Boston. Like so many other runners, I desperately want to run that qualifying time and earn my spot in Boston, especially now that I’m living in the city and feel so connected to its running culture.

For me to qualify, I would have to beat a 3:35 time by a couple of minutes, which translates to between an 8:05 and 8:10/mile pace. It’s fast. Really, really fast.

For the most part, my training has gone well. There were some schedule adjustments and missed runs due to work travel and weather, but looking back, I know I did the absolute best I could. I will have no reason to feel any regret on Sunday, no matter what happens because I have given this my all. From the 4:30 wake-up calls, to running in the snow and rain, it’s all been worth it.

But what I am trying to get at with all this nostalgic rambling, is that a BQ is not going to happen for me this race. And that’s ok. I came across this quote on Instagram recently, and it captured my feelings perfectly –

“Choosing differently isn’t failing, it’s just readjusting course to get to our end goal.”

Based on the pace I’ve been typically hitting on my long runs, it’s just not realistic for me to try to go out there and run an 8:05 average pace for 26+ miles. It’s not going to happen, and I risk bonking hard if I try. So, I’m choosing to be responsible, and set aside the BQ goal (temporarily).

This will only be my second marathon, and I have a lot of years of running ahead of me. I feel like I learned a lot through this training cycle and have some really solid ideas about what I need to add to my typical running regimen to make myself a stronger athlete. My end goal is still that BQ, but I know there is some significant behind-the-scenes work I will have to put in (even before beginning a training cycle) to get there. I’ve accepted that and made my peace.

So then, what are my goals for this race? Here they are, in ascending level of difficulty.

  1. A big PR. I was not in the best shape for my first marathon, so I’m confident I can achieve this. This would be anything faster than 4:36. Unless I fall and break my ankle or something else disastrous, I know I can do this.
  2. Sub-4 hours. Based on my half marathon times and the paces I’ve been hitting, I think this is completely doable.
  3. Break 3:50.
  4. Run a 3:45. I have to say these last 2 goals will be heavily influenced by the weather. It’s looking like the high of the day will be around 70, so it’s going to be warm.

So there you go, I’m laying it all out there! Mainly, I’m just really excited that the race is finally here. I feel like it’s been on my mind for the past 6 months and at this point, I’m just ready to see what happens.

Delaware Marathon Nails | 2 Generations RunningMy nails are race-day ready. 🙂

My mom and I will be road-trippin’ up to Delaware on Friday to avoid the long drive the day before the race. Wish us luck!!

 


A Typical Saturday Night While Marathon Training…

FRIDAY! ♥

Friyay

As always, I’m psyched for the weekend. I will fully admit though, my weekends have been a little… uneventful these past 16 weeks of marathon training. Let’s just say I’ve reached a new level of familiarity with my couch recently.

Runners will always tell you – the marathon is a commitment. Even when you’re not running, you’re resting or getting ready for another run, and that’s been especially true lately as I’ve hit my peak mileage weeks. Running 20 miles takes a lot out of a person – so if I’m not running, I’m either resting in preparation or cozied up on the couch in my compression socks. So without further ado, here is an inside look at a typical Friday/Saturday night during marathon training.

A Typical Saturday During Marathon Training | 2 Generations running

1. Friday evening, you browse for a movie that is just boring enough that you won’t mind if you fall asleep before it’s over.

stay awake2. While your other 20-something pals are out partying it up in the city, you are putting in some quality time with your foam roller. And you’re kind of ok with that, since the idea of staying up past 10:30 is horrifying.

3. After that, you move to the couch where you ice whatever muscle/tendon/joint is currently aching.

4. You think about your running route for the next day’s long run – to mix things up or stick with the same old routes, that is the question.

ChangeWho am I kidding, you’re not going to risk the possibility of getting lost and tacking on extra miles by trying a new route on a 20-miler.

5. You want to eat all the things. Happy Marathon Hunger.

Marathon hungerBring on the donuts, ice cream, and carbs.

6. It’s 9:30 PM? Bed time. You crawl into bed. 20 minutes later and you’re sound asleep. Nothing like marathon training to put an end to insomnia.

Rest, run, eat, repeat. And yet something about this whole process keeps us runners coming back for more. 🙂

Happy Weekend! Who actually has something fun planned? My mom and I will be running 22 miles – Wish us luck!! 🙂 


The Boston Marathon is Almost Here!!!

Yes, the Boston Marathon is on Monday and I am so excited, you’d think I was actually running it! 🙂

Run BostonI love that I’m lucky enough to live and work in the city that hosts the most iconic marathon in the whole world. Last year, I got to work and help with the planning of the expo for the Boston Marathon, as part of an internship I was doing. It was so cool experiencing things from the inside, and this year, I’m looking forward to attending the expo just for fun!

Boston Marathon ExpoI’ve seen a decent number of expos by this point, but the John Hancock Sports & Fitness Expo puts them all to shame. The atmosphere just crackles with love for running at this event.

I would say it was being at the expo last year that really planted the seed of someday running Boston in my mind. Before, it just seemed like an abstract concept – a race that was for people wayyy faster than I could ever hope to be. But I love that the sport of running has this race that the everyday runner can aspire to. It’s pretty unique. For most other sports, there really isn’t much to strive for if you aren’t at a professional level. Less than a millionth of a percent of people get to go to the Olympics (Seriously. I looked it up.) As impossible as the Boston qualifying standards seem sometimes, the odds are obviously way better than the a millionth of a percent. So what I’m getting at with this rambling post is that, we as runners are lucky. There are a lot of amazing things about the sport – and Boston is one of them. It’s not just a marathon. It’s a goal that thousands of people are striving for at any given time. The journey of achieving that BQ is an odyssey for every runner who sets their sights on Boston. Personally, I know I am only at the beginning of this odyssey. It could take me a long, long time and cost me toenails, blisters, and many aching muscles to ever achieve this goal (and that’s assuming I’m one of the lucky ones who actually does manage to BQ).

But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Boston Marathon Expo | 2 Generations RunningBest of luck to all the runners who will be taking on Boston next Monday! Congrats on all the hard work, blood, sweat and tears you poured into your training. 

 


Miles on Miles

Happy Monday guys!

This weekend brought the end to one of the highest mileage weeks I have run in a REALLY long time. The long run this weekend wasn’t even that bad (only 15!!!), but there was a lot of mid-week mileage. All in all, I ran 46 miles in the past week! That’s not too crazy as far as some marathon training plans go, but it felt like a lot since I missed so many runs a couple weeks ago and this type of mileage is really not the norm for me in my day-to-day running.

Monday – I was planning on going to a 3-mile fun run followed by a marathon nutrition discussion hosted at a running store in Boston, but the weather had other plans – aka snow. Yeah, happy April. The roads and sidewalks were a mess, and I didn’t really want to risk slipping, so I decided to skip the event, but I was pretty bummed. In hindsight, I’m kind of happy this was a rest day since they were few and far between this week.

Tuesday – The training plan called for a time trial, but the roads were still slippery, so I decided to do this time trial treadmill-style. I warmed up for a mile, and then dove into it. I’m always a little nervous about going all out on a treadmill (just doesn’t feel safe), so I kept it a little slower than I would typically run a trial on a track. Still, it got my legs moving and heart pumping! I cooled down with a mile after, so 3 miles total.

Wednesday – 9 miles total w/ 4 1-mile repeats. I already talked about this workout a little, but I’m still so excited about how it went. This is the furthest I’ve ever run in the morning before going to work, and it just felt like such an accomplishment when I finished! Of course, I did have to get up at the butt-crack of dawn to get it all done, which was less pleasant.

My favorite thing to do is sleepI was CLEARLY not fully awake when I was getting dressed for this run, because I noticed when I got to the gym that I had put my workout capris on backwards. LOL. I was just glad I noticed my mistake before I started running!

Thursday – 4 miles easy. Technically, this was supposed to be a 6-miler, but I was running a little late (literally) and having some stomach issues on top of that, so I called it at 4.

Friday – 7 miles, 5 at goal marathon pace. Another early morning at the gym to get this done before work. I was having some stomach issues again (grr), which resulted in a little break between miles 3 and 4, but otherwise I did this one just the way it was written. 🙂

Saturday – 8 miles. FINALLY, a morning when I got to run and sleep past 5 am! Glorious!! It was really beautiful out – sunny and in the 40’s and perfect for running. My legs did seem to feel a little tired, and my ankle/shin issue did bother me for the first 3 and a half miles, but I tried to focus on how good it felt to just be outdoors running on a nice Spring morning. The ankle issue kind of faded as I ran, and my splits got faster as I went on.

I spent the rest of the day being insanely productive – it felt crazy how much free time I had on my hands with such a short run! I did laundry, cleaned my room, picked up a few things at the grocery store, AND made sweet potato brownies (which are delicious – This was the recipe I used in case anyone wants to check it out). BOOM. It’s days like these that make me excited to refocus on shorter distances again once Delaware is over.

I also got to play around with my new wobble board which arrived late Friday!

Training with Wobble BoardsI’m still figuring out all the exercises, but so far so good!

Sunday – Ah, Sunday. What to say about Sunday. You know how in movies, people will always say “Well, it can’t get any worse!” and then it’ll start pouring rain? Sunday was like that, minus the rain (since that already happened on last week’s long run).

The run seemed like it had promise. The sun was shining and it looked beautiful out. So much so, that I headed out the door in just capris and a light long-sleeve shirt. The wind quickly had me freezing my butt off, but I figured I’d warm up eventually (which I kind of did, but I still spent most of the run wishing I had a windbreaker).

Marathon TrainingLooks pretty nice right? That’s what I kept trying to tell myself. I was all, it’s only 15 miles, this should feel like a cinch after last week’s 20-miler! But it didn’t.

My legs felt tired and creaky from the beginning and it didn’t help that the first 3 miles of my route have some serious uphill stretches that had me gasping for air.

Training Run

The route I was doing was basically an out-and-back – 5 miles to a local park, a couple loops at the park for 5 miles, and then 5 miles home. The run takes me through Somerville though, which has some sidewalks that are in pretty bad shape. Normally, I’m really careful to watch the ground, make sure that I’m lifting my feet up high enough, etc… I don’t know what happened today. I don’t know if it was my exhaustion around mile 13.5 or if I was too distracted thinking about the chocolate milk I was going to have when I finished, but suddenly my toe hit a lip on the sidewalk and I was FLYING and then very quickly crashing down hard on my hands and forearms. CRAP.

ouch.(Got lazy painting my nails the night before, and only did my accent nail, hence the one white nail.)

I freaked out for about 30 seconds before assessing my injuries. I was pretty lucky – my right hand took the worst of it, I got a little road-rash on my forearm and left hand, but that was it. My favorite BAA long-sleeve also got all torn up on the right sleeve where I hit the ground. I’m still going to keep wearing it though, and I feel like it’s appropriate that it should reflect some marathon training scars.

So I dusted myself off and ran the rest of the way home. No one was around, and as far as I know, no one saw me eat it, which I guess is a good thing? Part of me wishes someone had been there to just make sure I was ok. Oh, the other awesome part was that in my fall, I must have hit my GPS watch and deleted my run, because it was GONE when I tried to start my watch again. I don’t even know how that’s possible! Ugh. So 15 miles at a mystery pace (though I know it was definitely one of my slower runs considering the splits I was seeing before my run got deleted).

And that sums up this week.

How’s everyone else’s training going? Has anyone else ever had a big fall on a run? 

Please send bandaids, ibuprofen, and wine my way. Or just wine, I’m not picky.