2016 NYC Marathon Race Recap

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Smiling before climbing the last big hill of the race – Mile 24

Some people know the moment they begin a race that it’s going to be their day. Sunday was not that way for me. Don’t get me wrong – I felt good for most of the first 18-20 miles. BUT, I’ve run NYC three times before. I know how tough the late hills can be. How much the early hills beat up your legs and leave you exhausted by the end. And I was exhausted. The last 4-5 miles were plain torture. Every part of my body hurting. But that’s why we do those hard runs in training. To keep pushing. I refused to let my mind celebrate or even consider what could happen until all of the hills were behind me and I was in the Park and a mile or so from the finish.

It has been a year since I was able to truly race a marathon from start to finish (Boston was supposed to be that way but after stopping at mile 15/16 in the med tent, the “race” was over – it became more of a run to the finish). And the truth is, your mind forgets the amount of pain that your body experiences during the later miles. At least mine does. You know there will be pain but it’s hard to explain or recall the true level of pain you feel when you are 22 miles in. Legs screaming. Feet on fire. Calves hurting. You just want to stop running and sit down. But you know you need to continue to push.

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2016 NYC Marathon: 3:07:01

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I don’t even know where to begin. I will definitely write a full recap of yesterday because there is SO much to say. I woke up this morning still in utter disbelief with how yesterday went down. It feels like a dream to finally break 3:10 – and not just break it but to crush it. To finally feel like everything came together (and the weather cooperated). And to negative split a marathon.

But I wanted to drop in and just say a huge thank you. Thank you for all of the good luck wishes, tracking and cheering from afar, cheers during the race, congratulatory messages and comments post-race. My heart is literally bursting with happiness and gratitude. I loved the NYC Marathon before yesterday but after yesterday’s race, it is, without question, my favorite race in the world. There is nothing like running through the streets of your hometown and seeing familiar face after familiar face and hearing your name called hundreds and hundreds of times. Whenever I started to think about how much pain I was in or question how I was going to keep moving forward, I moved myself along the edge of the course and let the spectators push me forward. The cheers, high-fives and smiles literally gave me the energy to keep going. THIS is why I love big marathons. THIS is what makes NYC so very special and why I’ll keep coming back despite the hills, wind and tough course.

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Sometimes You Just Need a Change…

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So, if you follow me on IG, you probably have seen me mention a new coach. Switching coaches was not a decision that came lightly to me. Coach Hadley had been my coach for two years and I really blossomed under his tutorage. I PRd in every distance I raced – from the mile to the 5k to the half marathon to the marathon.

So it may seem backwards that I changed coaches. (Note: I first decided to take a break from coaching. But after 3-4 weeks, I realized how much I missed the guidance, and direction that a coach provides. And so I felt like it was the right time to switch.) There were several reasons why I felt like it was a road I needed to take.

First, I felt like training had become a bit monotonous. Coach Hadley has a specific training outlook and consequently, my training plan from cycle to cycle was pretty identical. There were minor changes – more tempo miles, an extra mile for a long run. But the shell was the same. This resulted in several things. After two years of similar plans, I felt like I could predict the workouts, paces and plan, I felt like I was always comparing myself to a previous workour or cycle and most importantly, it was no longer fun and exciting.

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Life Lately, News, Updates and More!

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I realized the other day that I started blogging five years ago. Holy cow…that’s a long time. I also realized that I haven’t blogged in two months – the longest I have gone during my five years of oversharing (ha!).

The truth is, the lack of blogging wasn’t initially an intentional action. It first started simply b/c I didn’t have time to write some updates or share some of the recent races I had run. The summer was hectic and the start of fall proved to be even more so. The boys started school (both full-time) which initially seemed like it would make life easier, but that’s not the case. Our sitter got a full-time job and so between my husband and I we are juggling full-time work with dropoffs, pickups, homework and all the after-school activities they participate in (note: my mom and dad help out a ton as well!). They both have soccer clinic on Saturday mornings. AJ has baseball 2-3x/week and soccer (on his school’s team) 2x/week. Basically every day includes some sort of post-school activity. Between their activities, schoolwork, house work (we do not have a cleaning woman so all the heavy cleaning, laundry, etc is done on the weekends), running and just living, blogging moved from the “have to” list to the “nice to do” list and eventually to the “not necessary” list.

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Race Recap: 2016 Air France 8k: PR + Age Group Win!

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This recap is a bit delayed…my blogging always goes hand in hand with how busy I am at work and with life! It’s been a great, but busy couple of weeks, and so finding the time to write about this race was at the bottom of the priority list!

Last Sunday was the Air France Run in Central Park organized by NYRR. In an effort to get out of my comfort zone and race shorter distances more often, I signed up for the 8k several weeks ago – knowing full well that the 5 mile course included all the lovely hills of Central Park. And by “lovely”, I mean “why do I do this to myself?”. By mile 3, I was cursing my decision and swearing off short races in Central Park once again. It’s hard enough to race hard for 5 miles. When you throw in the Harlem hills, it becomes a major sufferfest.

When I lived in the city, I ran in Central Park almost every day. Shorts runs, long runs, speed workouts. Those hills were part of my routine. As much as I try to run hills these days, I’m limited. The route that is safest for me to run is rolling – but nothing like the hills in the park. The hills I would love to run daily are part of a stretch of road that is more desolate – no homes and the woods on both sides. So I won’t venture there until it’s getting light out – which means no time to run them in the AM. Now that I’m so removed from the park, I am reminded each time I race there that it’s no joke.

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2016 Brooklyn Mile Race Recap

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I stumbled upon the inaugural Brooklyn Mile several weeks ago when I was searching for some shorter races to run before fall creeps in and knew that I wanted to run it. It sounded awesome – fairly local (about 45 min away), a good course and the option for my kids to run in a separate heat (if they wanted to).

I brought it up to my husband and boys soon after – and both boys were pumped at the idea of their own special race. Kids are pretty funny – my oldest asked me how long it was. I told them it was a little longer than the race they did in Alaska but much, much shorter than the 5k my oldest and I did together in June. His response – “Oh that’s good. Because that was so hard, Mommy.” #motheroftheyear

I finally got around to registering for the race last week and was stunned and honored when I received the email inviting me to the elite field. Local runners know just how many elite and professional runners are in the area – there are so many big named track clubs in/around NYC and I knew these ladies would be out in force for this race.

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Weekend Highlights

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First, I wanted to share a quote that my good friend, Laura, shared on facebook. As I read it, I couldn’t help but shake my head in agreement, smile and get goosebumps. She’s 100% right – and she had said this BEFORE Emma Coburn won the first US women’s Olympic medal in the steeplechase yesterday.

“It needs to be said how incredible the USA female runners are. If you judged by the medals you’d be sorely at a loss – that doesn’t tell the whole story. Molly Huddle with an American 10k record on Friday. Today, all 3 American women placed in the top 10 of the Olympic Marathon – history made.”

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This past weekend was one of the best I can remember. I took off on Friday – yay – and the day started with an early AM run followed by an amazing day at the beach. My parents, sisters and our own offspring drove to Long Branch – it was the first time my sisters and parents and I have been at the beach together in 20 years.

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Going for the Gold (#BabbleBoxxGold)

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**This post is sponsored by BabbleBoxx.com on behalf of Single Edition Media. All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

If you are like me, then you can’t get enough of the Olympics right now! I love that I’m almost guaranteed there is at least one fun sport to watch on TV at any given moment in the evening or on the weekend!

I was pretty pumped when I received a complimentary BabbleBox – full of products to bring out the Olympian in all of us. It featured a mix of brands including performance enhancing products designed to “ignite your inner athlete and encourage you to make self-care a top priority”.

Here is a breakdown of the awesome products in this box:

1. I loved the patriotic Casio Baby-G watchWith blocked red, white and blue, the timepiece combines fashion with function and pretty much goes with anything! Plus, it’s water and shock-resistant – which makes it great for the summertime. Other features include an LED light, world time, stopwatch, countdown timer and multiple alarms.

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Racing This Weekend + Garmin Instagram Takeover!!

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The last three weeks have been the best running in months. I’ve had three consecutive 50+ mile weeks – all with some speedwork and some long runs – and I feel great. I’m starting to get that burning in my belly to start training hard again. More on that soon!

I have some really fun short races coming up! This weekend is the Brooklyn Mile and I’m both excited and terrified! LOL. It’s the inaugural year for what promises to be an awesome race.

I don’t think I’m going to PR but I’m going to see what I can do. I ran my PR (5:28) this past winter at the Forest Avenue Mile which is a very fast course (granted, weather conditions were not ideal the last two years).

If you are in the NYC area, you should definitely consider this race – there are 7 waves – first the masters divisions (one for men, one for women), then the open divisions (one for women, one for men), then the elite race (one for women, one for men) and then the Friends and Family Mile.

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Recent Events + More Time on Treadmill

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I’m sure most of you have heard about the string of murders of female runners the last week or so. In case you haven’t, Runner’s World published an article that discusses the recent events. You can read it here

My thoughts and prayers are with these ladies and their families. My heart is breaking because of all of this.

In the wake of these events, there’s been a flurry of articles on how to increase safety. It’s easy for these articles or even friends, family or other runners to tell you to run with a friend or to always change up your route or to never run at the same time. Obviously, those all make sense.

But it’s not that easy. Some of us do not have the luxury of running throughout the day or to have running friends ready to run at all hours of the day. What do we do then?

I have a very small window when I can run in the mornings. Sure, I can run earlier, but does that increase my safety or decrease it b/c now it’s that much earlier (which = darker and less populated)? So for me, running at the same time trumps trying to alter my departure time each morning.

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Life Lessons Learned From My First Ironman

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Three years ago, today, I became an Ironman. This morning while I drank my coffee in the pre-dawn hours before my run, I spent some time on Facebook and Timehop. All the emotions of that day came roaring back as I looked at friends’ posts on my wall, the comments from friends and family and the amazing photos that my awesome sister uploaded in order to keep everyone updated.

July 28, 2013 was one of the best days of my life – for so many reasons. Obviously being able to call myself an “Ironman” (and have it in my bio ) is a pretty sweet reward. But that day was so much more to me. I know I’m three years removed, but I wanted to share some of the lessons I learned from that experience.

Wait for the fire. There was a marked moment when an Ironman went from being something fun to watch on TV to a fire in my stomach and something I wanted to do. For years, I would watch Kona on TV with my husband and talk about how cool it would be to do one one day. But that was it. A couple of days after the Ironman would air, doing one would be out of sight, out of mind. It was one of those “lifetime goals” that didn’t have any weight to it.

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Supplements + Nutrition + Sleep

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I wanted to dedicate a separate post on what I am doing – and have been doing – over the last three months – that have helped me start to feel better.

**Please keep in mind that I am not a health professional. I am not trained in nutrition or supplement-use. This post is merely from my experience with trying to get some of my levels back up so I could feel normal again!

My diet while I felt lousy wasn’t as great as it normally is. When my stomach hurts, I feel tired or am cranky, I turn to comfort foods. For me that means chocolate, ice cream, milkshakes and sugary candy (Swedish fish and hot tamales are my favorites). I knew that in the long-term these would actually make me feel worse rather than better, but I also felt like now was the time to eat what I wanted, when I wanted. I pride myself on eating very healthy when I am knee-deep in marathon training. This was my window to live a little and satisfy all those cravings that I have. And so I’m sure that my diet was adding to my not feeling as good as I normally do.

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When Your Mind + Body Are Not On the Same Page

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After each marathon training cycle, I find that my mind needs a break. Of course my body needs one, but I often find that my mind needs a longer one. A break from following a plan, figuring out how to rearrange all the puzzle pieces so I can fit in the necessary runs and from setting early AM alarms. I have found that it’s usually about 3-4 weeks of downtime. I am still running – but often, it’s a very “fly by the seat of your pants” kind of running. No set paces or distance – more just running what I feel up to running that day. More rest days.

And then when my mind and heart decide it’s time to resume training, my body immediately gets on board and training picks up. It’s been this way for the last 3 or 4 marathon training cycles.

This past April was completely different. My mind definitely need the normal break, but when I felt like I was ready to get back into things and resume training, my body was not ready – not even close to being ready.

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Race Recap: 2016 Willow 4 miler + Winning my First Race!

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Years and years ago when I lived in Texas, I won a couple of trail races. My husband and I did a 10 mile in Waco and half marathon trail race around Dallas and I was the overall female winner of both. But since moving back east, I haven’t really won any races – even some of the small, local ones, despite my being fitter and faster than I was back then.

I’ve also never flat out won a race before (overall male and female). Until this past 4th of July.

But let me be completely honest here. It was a small race. Super duper small. Like <50 runners, small. I knew I had a good chance of being the overall female winner but winning the race, outright, was a nice surprise.

We learned about this race from my sister-in-law. She mentioned the kids 1k race and I then saw that there was also a 4 mile race.

Initially, I planned on doing a long run on Friday or Saturday and then racing/running as hard as I could on tired legs on Monday. But, running in the days leading up to the race was a bust – Friday was a very late afternoon run so I didn’t start Saturday’s run until later in the day. I felt like garbage from the moment I woke up and then long run only lasted 1.5 miles (I called my husband to come get me b/c I didn’t even feel like I wanted to run back to the house). I decided to make Sunday a forced rest day. I felt a bit under the weather and didn’t see the need or have the desire to push myself. A. I’m on vacation. B. I’m not training for anything at the moment. So sleep, family time and wine won out over a long run.

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My Three-Year Old’s FIRST Race!

Right before vacation, I shared the details of my oldest son’s first race – the local Father’s Day 5k! The funny thing is that I mentioned in the post (and telling loads others) that the perfect distance for the boys would be anywhere from a 1k to a 1 mile race but that we were hard pressed to find a race of that distance.

So you can understand my excitement when we found out about a 4th of July Kids Race while we were on vacation. It was only 5 minutes from my in-laws home in Willow, Alaska – and it was a 1K (~.6 miles). My youngest (will be 4 in September) was so disappointed that he was not able to run the Father’s Day 5k. My heart broke for him. He wants to do everything my oldest does – and 99% of the time blows me and my husband away because he is able to. But, I felt that a 5k for him was waaaay too long. I wanted his first race to be something manageable for him. So the 1K was perfect!

The boys were incredibly excited for the race – and to race with their cousins! We made a stop at Target two days before to get some patriotic shirts for them – and outfits for the girls!

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Back Home + Alaska Highlights

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I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since I last updated here! After a crazy couple of months of work, I was beyond ready to have two weeks of vacation in Alaska with my family! With the exception of a day here or there, this was my first real break from work since returning to work full-time in October – and I was oh-so-ready for it.

To maximize time in Alaska, we chose a late afternoon flight that basically flew through the night and got us in at 1am (Alaska time; 5am – NYC time). To save a vacation day, I worked from home on the day we left – right up until it was time to go to the airport. Remind me never to do this again. The day was beyond crazy. Between getting up at the normal time (4am) to fit in a workout, starting work around 7:30am so I could be finished by 12:30pm and being packed and out the door for the airport by 1:15pm. But in the middle was all the little things I needed to fit in – straightening up, doing one last load of laundry, clearing out the fridge, washing everything in the sink. After two weeks of vacation and a red-eye flight to return home, I knew the last thing I wanted was to walk in to a messy house.

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My Son’s First 5k + Age and Distance for Kids?

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On Sunday, my five year old ran his first race – the Staten Island Father’s Day 5k. I honestly had no intention of him or me running this race. Just recently, he has shown an interest in running – and we’ve begun doing some short runs together here and there when he’s up for it or asks me. Most runs are anywhere from 1-2 miles with some short walk breaks in the middle.

The Father’s Day 5k race has become one of my favorite local races. It’s as local as you can get. We live less than a block from the main road on Staten Island – and the race is an out and back on that main road with the start/finish being one block away from our house (inside an area called Mt. Loretto). It’s that close. It’s well organized, a fun, but challenging route and the logistics make it just too easy to pass up.

I had casually asked him earlier in the week if he wanted to do the race with me but he said he wanted to next year when he was older. So I left it at that. I won’t push either of my boys into anything that they don’t 100% want to do.

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“I’ll Have Another” Podcast with Lindsey Hein!

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Hello and Happy, Happy Friday!! I’m so pumped for the weekend – especially since it’s supposed to absolutely gorgeous! I’m looking forward to relaxing a ton, some running, pool and sun time and some bbq’ing with my whole family on Sunday to celebrate Father’s Day. If you happen to be one of the 5 (maybe 10? haha) men who read this blog and are a dad (of a human or furry friend!), Happy Father’s Day!!

I’m super excited to share my interview that I had with my good friend, Lindsey, last weekend! I know I mentioned it here already, but if you are into podcasts, definitely check out Lindsey’s I’ll Have Another podcast. Every single episode I have listened to has been amazing – the interviews feel like a couple of friends are sitting in your living room chatting about running, families, work or whatever other topic it may be.

Lindsey and I chat about everything from my time at West Point and the Army, being a stay at home mom with the boys, starting this blog (4.5 years ago!), training for an Ironman, returning to work and life/running lately.

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Current State of Running + Why I Run Marathons

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Check out Instagram for a fun summer giveaway by Nathan Sports!——-

I drafted so many posts the last 4-5 weeks with updates on running, but each time, I was hesitant to share the progress I had been feeling because I didn’t know if it was permanent. I didn’t want to come here and shout that I was feeling great to only feel like garbage two or three days later.

Even now, I’m cautiously optimistic that I’m finally on the road to recovery. It’s two full months since Boston – 60 days. Almost 9 weeks. I had what I guess you can call my best week of running post-Boston last week. 44 miles with a whooping 13 mile long run. I know it doesn’t sound like much, especially when Timehop reminded me this morning that I ran a 63+ mile week one year ago. BUT, it is a huge improvement for me – given how I have been feeling the last two months.

To be completely honest, I’m still not 100% sure what caused me to feel the way I did (and still do to a lesser degree). I think it was a combination of a whole lot of things – nutrition, lack of sleep, back-to-back-to-back tough, breakthrough cycles. And so I’ve been working hard to get those things back in check. Vitamins every day. More sleep at night. Naps on the weekend. Lots of rest and recovery.

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Why Not You??

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This post initially appeared on Women’s Running. It can be found here.

When my sisters and I were younger, my mom would always ask us Why not you? whenever we began to doubt ourselves.

You want to play (insert sport here)?

You want to go to (insert college here)?

You want to do x, y or z?

Why not you?

She wanted me and my sisters to believe that we could do whatever we wanted and that anything was attainable – as long as we put our mind and hearts into it.

Her thought was that if someone else can do it, why can’t you?

It was about teaching us that nothing should be viewed as impossible.

You can’t control the gifts or natural abilities you were given. BUT, you can control how hard you work for something. You may not pick it up immediately or as fast as others. It may take you longer. It may take more tears and/or sweat. And that’s okay – because the end result is still the same.

(Note: there were plenty of times when we set our sights on things and came up short. My mom would ask us if we tried our best. As long as we did, it was still a success and something to be proud of.)

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