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. 🙂

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! 🙂

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From 3:53 –> 3:32

Hello hello!

I am back again! See – I told you I’d come back to the blog. 🙂

After the amazing success of Hyannis, I wanted to take a moment to look back at my progression and what I did differently with this marathon training cycle that allowed me to take a full 21 freaking minutes off my previous time.

Marathon Training**Disclaimer – this is not a post that’s intended to show how you too can take 20 minutes off your marathon time and qualify for Boston in one easy, breezy training cycle. Frankly, this post is so long because there is SO much that went into this PR and I don’t want to gloss over all the details.**

2016 Baystate MarathonSo, let’s go back to the Baystate Marathon for a sec. I ran this race in October of 2016. I was still uncoached at the time and the goal going in was pretty much to just have a better experience than I’d had at the Delaware Marathon which I had run that spring (finished, but had heat stroke and had to be transported by ambulance to the ER).

Rewinding even further- my initial goal training for Delaware was to try to qualify for Boston. After a few runs shooting for that 8 minute pace, I realized that might not be the best idea… So I backed off and focused on sub-4.

I decided to run Baystate pretty late in the game and didn’t officially start training until AUGUST (this seems insane to me now.) I also traveled for work a decent amount that month so I really didn’t do much training until the second to last week in August. I did have a base still built up from Delaware but even so… this is not ideal training.

Week of Aug 22nd – 41.5 miles

Week of Aug 29 – 26 miles

Week of Sept 5 – 50 miles (1 20 mile long run)

Week of Sept 12 – 43 miles (1 20 mile long run)

Week of Sept 19 – 9 miles (Traveling for work, but still – YIKES!)

Week of Sept 26 – 35 miles

Week of Oct 3 – 14 miles

Race Week – 8 miles + 26.2!

Looking back at this makes me cringe. My mileage was ALL OVER the place! Where was the steady build? How did I not get injured? I do remember the 20-milers in this training cycle taking a lot out of me. Like – spend the whole rest of the day on the couch doing nothing type tired.

I was trying to incorporate some marathon paced miles during my runs, but looking at my training notes, it looks like my long runs usually only had 5-8 miles at goal pace. For a harder mid-week effort, I was taking classes at Mystryde (a local treadmill studio). While those classes were good and a nice way to push myself, they were a little limited by time constraints (hour long class usually) and not very specific to my goals. I was also consistently taking 2 if not more rest days per week.

Shortly after Baystate, I decided to hire a coach. It was something I thought about for a long time and I finally decided that I loved running enough and wanted to invest in improving myself. I still wanted to qualify for Boston and I had a hunch that I was gonna need a little help. Somehow I came across  Mary through the interwebs and I’m so glad I did.

After chatting with her about my goals, we agreed that I would skip a spring marathon and use the spring to target a PR in the half marathon. The thought being that if I could build some speed in the half, my goal marathon pace would start to feel a lot more comfortable.

**I think this decision was HUGE. If I had tried to jump into another marathon in the spring of 2017, I would not have taken 21 minutes off my previous PR. It can suck to wait when you’ve got a goal you want to accomplish so badly but patience in running is critical.**

So I ran a couple half marathons in the spring. I didn’t really have great races, but the training was there. I was 100% getting faster. I was running more miles more consistently and beginning to dream about my fall marathon.

Philly Half Marathon

We all know what happened with Philly. IT DIDN’T HAPPEN. It sucked. I love the half, but I was pretty annoyed to be running ANOTHER HALF MARATHON. But again, this was a situation where patience paid off. My hamstring strain would not have allowed me to put together the proper training to go after my goal, so once again… I pushed back my goal race to February.

So now that you have the facts, here is what the build for Hyannis actually looked like –

October – very light on miles, nursing my hamstring (and my pride). 71.7 miles for the whole month.

November – again, very light on miles. While I felt great running the half at Philly, I felt like I restrained my hamstring during a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving. 100.9 miles for the month.

December – Things finally started to pick up. 128 miles for the month.

Week of Dec 11 – 30.3 miles

Week of Dec 18 – 25 miles

Week of Dec 25 – 39.3 miles

January – Finally, a solid month. I think I finally stopped being afraid that I was going to tear my hamstring during my speed workouts. 181 miles for the month.

Week of Jan 1 – 36.7 miles

Week of Jan 8 – 41.9 miles

Week of Jan 15 – 45 miles

Week of Jan 22 – 46 miles

Week of Jan 29 – 49 miles (1 20 mile long run)

Week of Feb 5 – 52 miles (1 20 mile long run)

Week of Feb 12 – 30.8 miles

Week of Feb 19 – 14.4 miles + 26.2 mile race!

Hyannis Marathon 2018So as you can see, this was a much more consistent and logical build. Again, this build only contained 2 20 milers. But I was running so many more miles during the week that I felt so much stronger on these runs. I was also training with WAY more miles at marathon pace. For example, my last long run was a 3 mile warm-up, 5 miles @ 8:15/8:20, 5 miles of 1 min on/1 min off (the min on was probably around 7:40 and the off was 8:50-9:00 pace), 5 miles @ 7:45/7:50, 2 mile cool-down. So roughly, 15 miles of work right around that goal 8:00 pace.

For the first time in a marathon  cycle, I actually really enjoyed running these 18-20 milers. I know that sounds crazy. But all the intervals truly helped break up the time and as I started to have success hitting these paces, I really began to believe I could run a 3:32 marathon. It was exciting!

In terms of rest days, early in the training cycle I was taking 2 rest days per week but as the mileage progressed, this dropped to one rest day per week. And I was fine!! I used to think I ALWAYS needed a rest day after a hard effort. Working with a coach has allowed me to see that easy miles can also work for recovery.

2017 was a long year. But I knew it would eventually pay dividends in my race times and it finally did. Hyannis was an incredible experience (rain and all) and I would not change anything about it. I can’t wait to see what I can do in Chicago come October!


Life Updates + My Achilles Heel

Hello again!

Apologies for falling off the grid there for a bit, but life got in the way (as it usually does). Things are once again getting crazy with work (I realized I will only be home for 1 full week during the month of June) and there really haven’t been any exciting happenings with my running to blog about.

Short 3-miler on Friday.

Basically, I’ve been running minimal mileage and really focusing on letting my Achilles heal (HA – it’s a pun!). Leading into the Fast Half, it had become a persistent niggle. It would bother me pretty consistently for the first mile to mile and half of a run before easing away. After finally getting my goal race out of the way, I decided it was time to really focus on rehabbing my Achilles before diving back into any heavier training. Plus, my coach wanted me to take a decent break after the long training block I had just experienced.

So once a week for the past few weeks, I’ve been going to the chiropractor and getting ART (active release therapy) and graston. For those of you who don’t know what those are, you can think of it as a very deep and painful massage. It is NOT relaxing or comfortable, I can promise you.

ART MassageMaybe Monica was actually doing ART.

The good news is, it seems to be helping. I’ve been going on easy 2-3 mile runs in the past couple weeks that have felt almost normal. I’m confident that in a couple weeks I’ll be good as new.

I think the break has been good for me mentally. I’ve been going to a lot of yoga classes and really enjoying sleeping in a little later in the mornings. As nervous as I was about the late timing of Philly, now I’m really happy that I chose this marathon because I haven’t felt rushed to dive back into training. I know I have PLENTY of time this summer to get back to it.

Have you ever had ART or Graston?

What have you been up to this June? Any exciting plans for the rest of the summer?


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. 🙂


The Race that Wasn’t

Remember how I said I was running a Turkey Trot this year and was all excited to try to beat my time from the Boston River Run? I had it all planned out – I was going to show up an hour early, pick up my packet, warm up, and then race. My plan was to drive over by myself since no one else in my family was joining me for this 5k. At the last minute, my dad decided to come along to watch.

We headed over to Ayer and got there in about 20 minutes. I thought it was a little surprising that there were so few cars on the road, but figured that most people didn’t want to show up an hour early for a 5k. Similarly, there were some spectators standing along the course, but no runners. I didn’t think much of it and hurried over to the fire station where packet pick-up was.

Inside, there was a busy group of volunteers doling out the post-race apple crisp. I was surprised to not see anyone handing out race packets. I asked an older gentleman if I was in the right place for bib pick-up.

“Packet pick-up? It’s over – the race is almost over!”

And that’s when it dawned on me. It was 8:12. I had thought the race started at 9, but nope. 8 am sharp. $h!t. I think I got confused because when I had been looking for a turkey trot to sign up for, I had been between 2 options – one at 9 am and this one, at 8 am.

Embarrassed, I hurried back outside to explain the situation to my dad but found him talking to a couple of runners from my running club. He’d clearly heard the news. I had missed the race.

img_1980-editedSmiling, but I’m actually pretty embarrassed and disappointed.

We hung around for a bit and watched as the fastest runners started coming in and crossing the finish line. The only saving grace was the most adorable yellow lab puppy that was there with a spectator that I got to pet for a bit while the pup attempted to play with our giant, 10-year old lab that my dad had brought with us.

We went home after a while and I channeled my frustration into a 5-mile progression run. M1 – 9:20, M2 – 8:59, M3 – 8:58, M4 – 8:45, M5 – 8:32. The rest of Thanksgiving was a wonderful day with my family and plenty of delicious food. I was bummed about the race but I definitely did not let it spoil the rest of the day.

I’m happy to have another 5k coming up on Wednesday this week at a running conference I’ll be attending for work. I’ll have the chance to redeem myself and you can bet your life I’ll be double-checking the start time, my alarm, AND the packet pick-up times. Generally speaking, I’m a very organized person and I love to plan things in advance. We’ll call this one a wake-up call to give my own races a little more attention to detail the next time around. 🙂

Have you ever missed a race? What was the cause?


Back At It Again!

Hey Friends!

Hope you all had a great weekend! I popped in on Saturday to share a review of a fantastic new brand of compression socks, so if you missed my review, be sure to check it out!

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, one of the things I have been looking forward to most is getting back to running some speedy 5ks now that my marathon season is over. I’m very excited to officially have a few races on my calendar as part of that plan! Next Sunday, I’ll be running the Boston River Run 5k. Given that it’s along the Charles, it should be flat and fast. I’m very curious to see how my legs will handle it. I ran a different 5k along the Charles shortly after Delaware and hit a pretty big PR, so I’m wondering if I will see a similar effect this time around? Honestly, I don’t have any expectations though. I really want to use it to gauge my current fitness level. I also signed up for a local Turkey Trot 5k for Thanksgiving. That course should have a few rolling hills in it, but I just want to have fun and get a little exercise in before feasting with my family. 🙂 Then in December, I’ll be running the Cambridge Yulefest 5k. This race is HUGELY popular with my running club and pretty much everyone I’ve talked to about it has said that it’s an absolute blast, so I’m pretty excited for it. So 3 5ks in 2 months! Praise the lord for short races with quick recovery times.

I eased back into some running this week, but so far, I’ve still been keeping the mileage pretty low and most of the runs on the easy side.

Monday – I flew home so no workout. But it felt good to come home to Boston!

Tuesday – An easy 4-miler on my regular route. I ran in the early afternoon and it felt great to finally be back at it.

Wednesday– I ran home from work. I LOVE that I can get in a nice, 4.5 mile run from my office! I wish I had done this sooner! I was treated to this pretty epic view which just made it that much better. I’m beginning to think Boston might just have the prettiest sunsets ever.

img_1796Thursday – Speed workout with my running club. It has been ages since I’ve been to one of these workouts! Between my travel schedule and marathon training, I hadn’t been there in MONTHS. Now that things have slowed down at work, I’m really looking forward to attending these workouts and getting more involved in the club.

Friday – Much needed rest day. I was a little sore from the workout the day before, so I think my legs needed the rest.

Saturday – Another easy 4-miler.Running RouteThere’s nothing like running in the Fall. My route is looking gorgeous!

Sunday – Rest day.

Overall, my legs are feeling pretty good. I’m looking forward to starting to incorporate some harder workouts, some races, and to start slowly increasing my mileage again.

How was your week? What’s your favorite part of Fall running – cooler temps, beautiful scenery, something else?

 

 


Why Running Isn’t Boring

Hey friends, happy Friday!

So as I’ve mentioned this before, but I work with a lot of very active, health-conscious folks. They’re into hiking, rock-climbing, boot camp, you name it! Most of them like to run, but for the most part, they aren’t into distance running.

Why Running Isn't Boring | 2 Generations Running

The expressions I get when I tell them I’ve gone and signed up for another half or full marathon are priceless.

Eye Roll | 2 Generations Running“Ugh, why would you do that to yourself? It’s so masochistic” 

“That sounds so boring

Boring is actually the word I get a lot. Maybe that’s a function of being in the OCR industry – a lot of OCR athletes prefer obstacle course racing because they see the obstacles as breaking up the monotony of a run. And I get where they’re coming from. Just plain old running by yourself with nothing but your thoughts for hours on end? It sounds boring. But it’s not – not if you’re doing it right.

I think what has really hooked me on running is the goal to be constantly improving on my last race. And once you have that goal that you’re fixated on and training towards, there are suddenly so many variables, so many schools of thought, and so many training plans, that how can you be bored? It’s this big experiment, and you’re both scientist and lab rat. Your variables include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Nutrition (both your pre-run breakfast as well as your overall nutrition)
  • Distance
    • Training for a 5k looks very different than training for a marathon, but both can be incredibly challenging depending on your goals.
  • Training Plan (custom, Hansons, Hal Higdon, Runners World, etc…)
    • Once you have your training plan, there’s even more variables, like speedwork, hills, long runs, and tempo runs. Hopefully, a good training plan will give you direction on how to control these things.
    • Having a coach – another variable, but also a source of control over the variables of the training runs.
  • Shoes
    • Minimalist or heavy cushioning or somewhere in between?
  • Stretching
  • Foam-rolling
  • Gear! For example, there are a THOUSAND different types of GPS watches as well as many different types of compression socks/sleeves. Both types of products are designed to be used to make better runners.
  • Fuel (like GU or Honeystingers)
  • Life. Because like it or not, it sometimes gets in the way. 😉

Maybe I was a crazed scientist in another life, but a big part of me needs to keep playing with these variables until I reach my peak performance. And with this many variables, I could be experimenting for a long time. But that’s part of the thrill for me – I’m not in this for quick results, just steady improvement, however incremental that may be. It’s this mindset that has led me from a 2:12 half marathon (4 years ago) to a 1:45 half marathon and from a 4:36 marathon to a 3:57 – and I know there is SO much more I can do to get faster as long as I continue to run.

Runners World Classic Review 2016(Happy days when you score an age group win and a new pint glass!)

And if I get “bored” with marathons and half marathons, well then maybe I’ll start training for a crazy fast 5k. 🙂 That is actually what I am hoping to do once I’ve adequately recovered from Baystate in 2 weeks. See, it’s kind of hard to get bored when there are so many races to run and PRs to set!

So that’s my little rant about why running isn’t boring – I’ll get off my soapbox now. 🙂

Have you been told running is boring before?