26Strong Winner

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Thank you all for the tremendous response; I am overwhelmed by the number of amazing women who entered the contest for 26Strong. The stories were all inspiring and incredible! This was NOT an easy job. I started reading the entries as they were coming in but literally could not keep up – they were coming in faster than I was able to read. To be totally transparent, I knew some of the entrants and had mutual friends/family members/etc with another handful. Some of the ladies I knew either virtually (social media or just knowing names who comment regularly here or on other channels) or in real life. I felt that I was in a tough spot to make an unbiased decision – it would be impossible to not let my emotions and feelings go into choosing the winner. So I decided to ask for some third-party help to make it fair. From the 200+ entrants, I made an initial list of 23 entrants. I tried to include some local runners (it would be awesome to be able to train in person with my “cadet”), some stay at home and full-time working moms, some full-time working women and a couple of former Continue Reading →

2015 Boston Marathon – All the Other Special Moments

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Up until about 4 weeks ago, I wasn’t 100% sure that the Boston Marathon would even happen. I didn’t have a hotel yet and knew that I couldn’t afford or justify a couple of nights in Boston in a hotel by myself (hotels are super expensive that weekend). I happened to catch something that Kris tweeted and decided to take a chance and message her to see if she would be interested in sharing a room. It sounds SO strange because up until this weekend – we had not met in person. But I’ve been following her on social media for over three years and knew other female runners who were friends with her…so it was worth a shot. Rooming with Kris set the tone of the entire weekend. From the moment we met in the expo, I felt like we had been friends for years. I spent a lot of the weekend asking her endless questions about anything and everything even remotely related to running – her diet, her strength routine, what she eats on race morning and during the race and so on. But we also spent countless hours just chatting about everything NOT related to running – Continue Reading →

2015 Boston Marathon Race Recap

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Until Monday, my PR has been 3:21:22 – for six years. That’s a long time. Especially considering I’ve spent the last two years training for a PR.  Running a PR became my own elusive unicorn – something that until Monday, I wasn’t 100% sure would ever happen based on recent races. Maybe I just needed to go back to Boston. My two fastest marathons – ever – have been run in Boston. The previous two springs (2013 and 2014) I chose the NJ Marathon over Boston because I was focused on that PR and assumed picking a flat course over the hilly and challenging Boston course would mean an automatic PR for me. But NJ chewed me up and spit me out both years. But not Boston. For whatever reason, I run well in Boston. Maybe it’s the rolling course and it’s ability for me to break the course up into easily manageable segments. Maybe it’s the crowd and spectator support (I really feed off the energy). Maybe it’s because I respect the course so I go out more conservatively than I would for flatter and supposed “easier” marathons. Maybe I am a better hill climber than I give myself Continue Reading →

26Strong: Looking for a Female Wannabe Marathoner!!

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If you’ve been reading here for a bit, you may remember that I participated in the 2013 Saucony 26 Strong Campaign. I had a blast – and especially loved mentoring and coaching my “cadet”, Hallie, as she trained for her first marathon. I was fortunate enough to be asked to participate in the 2014 Saucony 26 Strong Campaign last year and got to share the journey with my youngest sister, Nicole. Saucony sent us to Hawaii to run the Honolulu Marathon and it was truly an experience of a lifetime! Running 26.2 miles by her side and being with her as she crossed her first finish line was so incredibly special.   I’m SO SO excited to share that I have been asked to participate in Saucony’s 26 Strong program again!! This year, Saucony and Competitor are once again putting together a team of 13 “veteran” marathoners and 13 “cadets”. But this time, the goal race is the 2015 Chicago Marathon! SO, that’s where you come in. I am looking for a wannabe marathoner to run side-by-side with me for the 2015 Chicago Marathon!!!! I will run your pace, grab your water, hold your gels, be your cheerleader and support you as Continue Reading →

3:15 -> Long Time Coming!!

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I will write a full recap (or two) later this week but wanted to pop in and give a quick update on the 2015 Boston Marathon. I am on cloud nine. The race could not have gone any better for me – fueling before and during was better than it’s ever been, I ran 100% by feel (I saw total time on my watch and only received the mile split notifications), Heartbreak did NOT break me, I ENJOYED every single mile, I high-fived the amazing spectators from the start until the finish and most importantly, did not let fear, doubt or pain get in the way of the race I knew I could run. The weather was less than ideal but not as bad as I was expecting based on some of the forecasts I had seen.  The rain wasn’t a factor for me – I don’t even remember it coming down for most of the race (I think having some long runs in the rain and snow helped). The wind was there and you could definitely sense it slowing you down a bit (especially when the wind gusts came) but it seemed more of a crosswind for the first 20 Continue Reading →

One Boston Day + Women’s Running Instagram Takeover

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4-15-13. The Boston Marathon bombings occurred two years ago today. It’s hard to believe it’s been two years already since that horrific day. “A moment of silence, a call for kindness and the pealing of the city’s church bells will be the hallmarks of Boston’s events noting the two-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon on Wednesday”  This will occur at 2:49pm EST (at the time when the first bomb exploded). “Mayor Marty Walsh has declared April 15 One Boston Day, beginning a tradition that organizers say is about “resiliency, generosity, and strength of the people that make Boston the great city it is.” Click here for the entire story. —————- One of my favorite parts of sharing my training here and on social media is the interaction that occurs. I read every single comment I receive and bookmark the ones that hold special meaning to me. I wanted to share a comment I received on one of the posts from last week. I have read this comment no less than 10x already and plan to print it out and carry it with me to the start line in Hopkington. I had the pleasure of meeting Judith (the author) about 18 Continue Reading →

2015 Boston Marathon -> One Week to Go

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A week from today I’ll be running my 11th marathon – the 2015 Boston Marathon. After about 4-5 weeks of subpar runs and workouts, I’m more than thrilled to finally start to feel strong again. Runs are more enjoyable, my stride feels more natural and relaxed and I (finally) had a great workout last week. Workout: 2 mile warmup, 8 mile AT tempo, 2 mile cooldown. Goal pace 6:55-7:05 for 8 miles. I decided to start on the slower end and see how I felt. The week prior’s workout of 4 x 2 didn’t leave me with a lot of confidence since even 7:00 pace felt difficult and uncomfortable. I was on the treadmill for this workout again (husband was away). Incline was at 1% for entire run with occasional jumps (every 6-8 minutes) to 2% for 30 seconds at a time. Splits: 7:08, 7:03, 6:58, 6:58, 6:55, 6:53, 6:48, 6:35. Average pace of 6:55.  The run was definitely not easy but I hit the paces and felt stronger as the workout went on. So that’s a victory in my book. ——– read moreTweet

Life, Food, Home Changes

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For the last year or so, my family and I have made some changes in our lives. We are embracing a much more natural and holistic lifestyle – everything from food to cleaning solutions to medicine. It’s way too much to explain it all in one post, but I wanted to kind of give an overview of some of the major changes we have made. Even though it’s technically not running related, I feel that it does directly affect my running and performance so I wanted to share. One of the best quotes I’ve heard recently is from Organic Living Magazine – the new magazine that Rodale is launching next week (which, coincidentally, I’m attending their launch event in NYC next week!) “For us, organic is a mindset or an aspiration. It’s not a rule.“- James Oseland That really sums of the approach we are taking lately. For us, it’s not black or white. It’s a process. We are slowly transitioning more and more in our lives to a natural, organic lifestyle (free of GMOs, pesticides and harmful ingredients). A lot of it has come from things we have read. Some has come from my sister and other friends who Continue Reading →

Mentally Training for Boston

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(Some of the below was part of a post I wrote for Women’s Running) If you have been following me on social media or reading here for a bit, you probably know that I am not the strongest racer. It’s been a frustrating couple of years for me. I have these strong, successful training cycles (and yes, they ARE successful cycles even if I didn’t reach my goal on race day). I work my butt off during the cycle, but there was always something missing as each race began— and as a result, I came up well short of my goal. The mental strength was missing. I had spent months strengthening my body— nailing workouts, completing long runs. But I paid zero attention to the mental side of running. As a result, I was not prepared to quiet the negative thoughts when they started creeping in during the later miles of the marathons. My mind would quit long before my body was ready to. Once the mind gives up, the body doesn’t stand a chance. Learn to use your mind or your mind will use you. Actions follow our thoughts and images. Don’t look where you don’t want to go. Continue Reading →

Life Lately + Entering Taper

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Hope you and your loved ones had a wonderful Easter! We started off the day with baskets, an egg hunt and lots of candy and chocolate. Shortly after the festivities, I headed out for my last long run – 18 miles. I can’t say it was a great run. It was incredibly windy (weather app said ~20 mph winds) but it seemed to be gusting MUCH stronger for a lot of the run. And it never seemed to be at my back. It was just one of those runs where you just want it to be over. Lately, I’ve been feeling really bored and lonely for the longer runs and would love to have a friend to chat with and keep the miles easy and relaxed. The plan for yesterday’s run was 14 moderate pace and then 4 fast finish. Well, the fast finish didn’t happen. I guess technically it did happen because I pushed harder those last 4 miles, but I didn’t come even remotely close to the paces that my coach had scheduled for me. I’m chalking it up to the crappy wind. 18 total miles – 7:52 pace. Ran blind for the first 14 and then spent Continue Reading →

7 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Running (Women’s Running)

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This was one of the most enjoyable and fun posts to write – seven things I WISH (!!!) I knew when I started running. I’ve been running consistently for almost twelve years – and longer distances for about eight. I am certainly not an expert, but I have made – and learned from – my share of mistakes over the years. Looking back, there are so many things I wish I had known or been told when I first started. And so I wanted to share some of these things with you, in case they might help you avoid the same mistakes! You should never go “all-out” in a workout. For a long time, I felt that unless I was soaked in sweat, dry heaving on the side of the road or treadmill, it wasn’t a good workout. I felt like I was in race mode every single day. Save the racing and all-out exertion for the race. That’s when it matters. You’ll get burnt out or get injured in no time if you are constantly racing yourself in training. Running slow won’t make you slow. It sounds silly now, but I truly believed that if I took it easy during a Continue Reading →

Homemade Tomato Sauce

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I’ve never been one to eat out constantly – it’s not that I don’t enjoy the food or the “time-off” from cooking – but I much prefer to know what’s in the food I am eating. I find that I feel much more bloated and just “blah” after a meal out at a restaurant than I would if I ate a similar meal at home. But I also really love cooking. I credit most of that to my mom who cooked six nights a week for us when we were growing up. Dinner was always a time to sit down at the table, as a family of six and talk about the day. I’m thankful that the boys are such great eaters – I don’t ever have to make them something special when we eat – I cook one thing and we all eat it. One of my go-tos is a made-from-scratch tomato sauce that takes ~30 minutes. There’s nothing fancy about it – but it’s a meal that my little guys LOVE – and it’s light and easy enough on my stomach to eat the night before long runs. I can also use it on a variety of main Continue Reading →

22 Miler: Try, Try Again

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This week’s long run ended on a high note. I got the mileage in that was on the training calendar – but more importantly, walked away with some confidence (physical and mental) that hopefully will help me in three short weeks. But it was pretty close to being a wash. My plan was a 22 mile dress rehearsal. Practice eating beforehand. Practice fueling and water during run. Wear clothing I plan to wear for race day. Basically do everything I can to simulate race morning – to see how I feel and make sure the food choices don’t upset my stomach. The morning started off great – some coffee and a quick stop at the local bagel store. It was 16 degrees (with windchill) and I’m still battling a hacking cough, congestion and cold so I decided it was going to be a treadmill run. Plus, I’m over winter and the thought of 3+ hours in the freezing cold (and wind) sounded absolutely awful to me. By 9:30am, I was on the treadmill ready to watch the Hunger Games while mindlessly logging the miles. My legs were shot though. I did a lower-body strength workout on Friday and could barely Continue Reading →

Race Week Tips

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Marathon training plans range can range from 12-18 weeks long (or more). But in my opinion, the most important week of training is the week with the least amount of training – race week. Occasionally missing a run during a training cycle or having an off week in training will likely have minimal impact on your race performance. But running too fast or too long, not getting enough sleep or not focusing on things like nutrition and hydration can have a huge effect on your performance on race day. We just entered the window for spring marathons (check out Daily Burn’s article on the Top 15 Spring Marathons in the US). With that comes some peak mileage, the taper and then race week. Race week always means several key things for me. Nutrition, Hydration, Sleep, Rest, Trust. I try to focus on just these five things – otherwise I feel overwhelmed, confused and unorganized. – Nutrition: Think plain, simple, light. Plan your meals this way and your stomach will thank you. I typically aim for carb-dense foods in the days leading up to the race and then add some protein the night before. But everything is very plain – nothing loaded Continue Reading →

Remaining Optimistic

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Well, it’s been a while since I did a training update. The #1 reason is because there hasn’t been a whole lot of training going on. I feel like I jinxed myself when I was talking about how great training was going. No less than two weeks ago, I started thinking about how I haven’t missed a single long run this training cycle – something that has actually never happened before. And then it happened. #ugh But I’m getting ahead of myself. I wrote on Tuesday that I was feeling a hundred times better and ready to jump back into training. Monday’s run was great – 12 miles with lots of hill repeats. I woke up Tuesday and felt a bit achy and just blah so I put off my run until the afternoon. It was warm (55) but windy as heck – 25-30 mph winds. I ran 8 miles and almost immediately upon finishing, knew that something was wrong. I had a pounding headache and just felt fatigued – not the way I normally feel after 8 easy-paced miles. My husband left on a business trip for the week shortly after I returned from that run and I welcomed Continue Reading →

Speed is Relative (Women’s Running)

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This post was originally featured on WomensRunning.com: I ran my first mile road race a couple of weekends ago. It was far and away the fastest mile I’ve run in my entire life. Kind of exciting, especially since it’s in the middle of a marathon training cycle. Immediately after the race, I was on cloud 9. I texted my family, my coach and a few close friends who knew I was racing and shared the exciting news. However while I was driving home, my thoughts started to wander. It dawned on me that my all-out, run as hard as I could for one mile – just one mile—was still slower than elite females run for 26.2 miles. It was slower than females run half marathons. And slower than some of my friends run 5ks. Ouch. In that brief moment, I compared myself and my success to others. I allowed that comparison to take away from the happiness and pride I should have been feeling. The thing is there will always be someone faster. Or someone who runs longer distances. Or someone who is a few steps ahead of you. Always. And you’ll never be happy or satisfied with your effort, Continue Reading →

How To Prepare For A Hilly Race

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Six years ago, I was training for my first Boston Marathon. I was incorporating tempos, intervals and long runs into my 40-50 mile weeks (I peaked at 55 miles). The only missing component were the hills. At the time, I was stationed in Baghdad, Iraq – and while I was fortunate enough to be on the largest American base in the country (which afforded me miles and miles of road to run on!), it was flat as a pancake. There was one hill (man-made) called “Signal Hill” which US forces used for all the long-range signal equipment. Signal Hill had a paved road that was roughly .3 miles uphill (steep uphill!). And at two points going up the hill, there were paved roads around the hill. This hill became my best friend. Rather than do hill repeats once a week, I made it a point to run up that hill at least once each run – and most runs 2-3x. It didn’t matter if it was an easy run, recovery run or long run – I was running up and down that hill. Fast forward to the 2009 Boston Marathon. My husband was running beside me around mile 19-20. I had Continue Reading →

Unplanned Easy Week

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Each marathon training cycle has it’s ups and downs. There are good weeks, bad weeks. Great runs, not-so-great runs. It’s all part of a normal, healthy training cycle. I’d like to think that I push myself pretty hard on my “on” days – intervals, tempos, long runs. I’ve been seeing some good improvement with paces, endurance and recovery times.   But the last few weeks have been different. I have had no desire, energy or motivation to push when I reached the point in workouts where things get tough. And I’ve just quit. Gotten off the treadmill, hit “stop” on my garmin. And called it a day. It started the week we were in Florida during my 3×2 workout. I chalked it up to being tired from vacation and all the walking around we were doing in Disney. Then, I had a great 1 mile race that weekend and felt like I was ready to go full-force the last six weeks of Boston training. I had a solid week of training – logged the planned miles, hit the paces in workouts and felt good. read moreTweet

It’s Okay to Not Want to Run Every Day – Women’s Running Post

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This was published on Women’sRunning.com last week! —————– I’m just under eight weeks out from my 2nd Boston Marathon and have had a strong couple of months of training. On paper, everything looks great – I’m nailing workouts, getting my long runs in and consistently running high weekly mileage (for me). But, that’s only part of the truth. The truth is, there are some days where I wake up not wanting to run. I would say 4-5 of the 6 days a week I run, I’m pretty quick to pop up when the alarm goes off. There is virtually no hesitation on those mornings. But it’s a fight to get me out the door on the other days. I want to go back to sleep or just sit on the floor with my children while I drink my coffee in my comfy pjs rather than deal with the below freezing temperatures outside or get on the treadmill again. The truth is, it’s okay (and normal) to not want to run every single day. When you are following a training plan, there will be days where you may not want to get up and run. I used to berate myself every time Continue Reading →

Boston Marathon Training (T-8, T-7)

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Happy Wednesday!! You are in for a treat today – you get TWO weeks of training updates! I know – almost too much to handle =) But before I get into my recent training, I wanted to share some news from Garmin (not sponsored – just a big fan of the brand and the people within the company). They have launched new Garmin Fitness social media channels on Twitter, Google+ and Instagram! Facebook is soon to follow. From their website: We want to hear and see pictures of how you crushed a daily step goal, or conquered a 20-mile training run. We want you to share your struggles and triumphs. We want to hear about how you are changing your life by going that extra mile. Our channels will feature content from YOU! Share your images and tag them with @GarminFitness or use hashtag #UpForMore to be featured. @GarminFitness – Twitter Garmin Fitness – Google+ @GarminFitness – Instagram Garmin Fitness – Facebook Also, to celebrate the new fitness channels, Garmin will be giving away one Vivosmart a day (for the next week) on their Instagram page. Go check it out! ————— read moreTweet