2016 Boston Marathon Training (T-12, T-11)

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Well, after a solid week of training (T-12), last week was the training week that wasn’t. My whole family got hit with the Norovirus. It knocked us on our backs for days. And it wasn’t until Friday where I felt ready to run again.

My husband and I started having symptoms at almost the same time on Monday. He was working from home, I was at work in the city when we started texting each other. We both felt off from the early morning (I actually had dressed and intended to run. Ran to the end of my block and realized something wasn’t right, so came home), but attributed it to what we ate the day before. By lunch-time, my husband wasn’t keeping anything down.

By 4pm, I had gotten sick at work and was on my way home. I was hoping that I would be in the clear for a window of time. Unfortunately, that window only lasted about 45 minutes. I got sick on the packed bus, which will likely remain on my list of embarrassing life moments (thankful my coworker handed me a garbage bag as I was heading home). We spent the next 36 hours in bed, with the most intense stomach pains I’ve ever experienced.

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    2016 Boston Marathon Training (T-13)

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    Some weeks running and training are seamless and each run goes as planned. Other weeks it takes lots of moving of the puzzle pieces to get the runs in. And other weeks, those puzzle pieces may not fit so perfectly and something has to get tossed.

    This past week was the 2nd. I got all the runs in that I planned to, but it took a bi t of finagling and shifting of when and where the runs happened.

    6 days of running with a weekly mileage of 60 miles – highest since mid-September. The constant hunger has returned and so in case my mileage didn’t indicate the return to marathon training, the endless calories and meals are a good sign.

    There was a lot of treadmill running this week. Not ideal or how I hoped to spend my weekend, but as always, I’m just grateful for the opportunity to still run even when the roads are less than ideal – or the child-watching situation makes it impossible.

    As many of you, we got hit with a ton of snow Friday evening into Sunday morning. The last report I saw had Staten Island with the most in the tri-state area – at 31.7 inches. It was a lot. But life went back to normal on Monday – school for the boys and roads mostly open. Running outside is day-by-day right now depending on the temps. If it’s sub-freezing, then there’s too much ice on the shoulders for me to run. Here’s how the week broke down:

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      Boston Marathon (2016) Training (T-15)

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      Running tends to mirror other aspects of my life. If I have a stressful week, running typically doesn’t go well. If I’m having a good week, running usually adds to the happiness. This past week was filled with so much family, happiness and love – and I feel like my running really showed that.

      6 total runs for 57 miles with one planned rest day. This was the first week where I made the decision at the start of the week to take a mid-week rest day – and man, did it feel GOOD. Sleeping in felt great but more importantly, I felt energized for Thursday and Friday’s morning runs, not exhausted or dreading them. So, for the time being, I’m sticking with a rest day (planned for Wednesday but staying flexible with the day).

      Here’s how the week broke down:

      Monday, Thursday, Saturday – easy miles in the bank
      6, 8, 6 miles – all easy paced/recovery runs. Monday’s run was garmin-free and the other two were with my garmin (I averaged 8:18 and 8:20 paces for those two).

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        Juggling Priorities and Sacrifices

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        Priorities and sacrifices often go hand in hand, especially when it comes to marathoning. If one of your priorities is the marathon, it’s likely that at some point during your training cycle you will have to sacrifice something. Whether that is skipping a party because of a long run the next day, passing on your favorite food because it’s race week or giving up lazy Saturday mornings in bed in order to get a run in before the day starts.

        Everyone’s priorities and sacrifices are different. What may be a sacrifice for one runner may be something that means very little to someone else. And another runner may put running at the top of their list while another runner may have a ton of other things that out-prioritize running.

        It’s a question of What are you willing to sacrifice in order to reach your goals? But it’s not simple and certainly not black and white. If you were to tell me that I needed to give up wine or chocolate in order to run a certain time, then that would be a major sacrifice for me (and quite honestly, one I’m not willing to give up). It’s also not sustainable for me – I could go maybe a couple of weeks but I enjoy them both too much to go much longer.

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          Feature on ESPNW + Family Priorities

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          A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by Gina, a photographer for ESPN-W. She was interested in my Army story and potentially wanted to include me in a Veteran’s Day piece ESPN-W was putting together.

          Everything worked out and I’m incredibly honored to have been included in this story, even more-so after reading about the other seven female Veterans that ESPN-W chose.

          The photo shoot was so incredibly fun. We got to shoot in the rain (you can see the rain if you look closely!) on my favorite trail by my home. Then returned home for some still shots and filmed interview. The hardest part was not smiling and trying to keep a straight face – I am a super smiley person so to force a straight, serious face was not easy for me!

          Click here for the article.

          Also wanted to wish all the veterans out there a Happy Veteran’s Day! Thank you for keeping my family safe!

          ———

          I’ve taken it easy the last few days in regards to running and training. I woke up incredibly tired on Monday, chalked it up to a jam-packed weekend which resulted in little sleep and went out and ran. By Monday afternoon, I had the chills and felt like I had been hit on the head. Tuesday was even worse (so much so that I didn’t even go to work) and still wasn’t feeling great on Wednesday or Thursday mornings – so no running or working out of any kind. I find that the more I run, the more in tune I am with my body. I know when something is brewing and when I need some time off to prevent sickness, overtraining or trying to do too much.

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            My “normal” day as a working + running mom

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            I am five weeks into my new job and finally feel like I have a rhythm and routine that is sustainable and feasible – at least for the time being. I’m sure there will be obstacles or bumps along the way, but no sense worrying about how I’m going to get around them before they are even in my way.

            A lot of readers have asked what a typical day is like for me lately. I wanted to wait at least a month until the dust settled and I had a better handle on the day-to-day routine.  So here goes:

            3:45-4:10am: Wakeup. This varies based on the day, type of workout and number of miles I am planning to run. I make it as late as possible to squeeze out even an extra 10-15 minutes of sleep! Monday and Wednesday are usually my speed days and/or longer mileage days, so I tend to get up closer to 3:45 on those mornings.

            Coffee. My husband or I set it up the night before, so it’s all ready by the time I make it downstairs. I straighten up, empty the dishwasher and do little things around kitchen until coffee is ready. Some mornings my husband joins me. We sit, drink our coffee and enjoy the quiet morning – and then when I run, he goes up to his office and starts working.

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              Returning to Work + Juggling Training

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              So, I returned to full-time work (out of the house) three weeks ago. I haven’t worked outside the home in almost FIVE years. I realized I never really talked about what I did before I became a mom and began blogging, so here is the full story.

              I attended West Point for four years and then spent six amazing years in the Army. They were truly some of the most rewarding and exciting years of my life (I don’t know if there is any interest in what I did while I was in the military – please let me know if there is and I’ll talk about it in a separate post!).

              After leaving the Army and returning home to NYC, I felt pulled in two directions. Part of me wanted to continue what I had been doing for the previous six years in the Army. I had all this intelligence experience and absolutely loved my last position (Lethal Targeting Officer for the Division). And so that was what I initially pursued. I applied for and was offered a job as a DEA analyst in NYC. But during the pre-employment process, a private company approached me and offered me an amazing job. They were based in DC but were willing to set up a small office for me in NYC so I didn’t have to relocate. The idea of a corporate job + making a lot of money won me over and beat out continuing to work in intel and the government sector.

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                Juggling Family, Work And Life With Long Distance Running

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                This post was originally featured on Women’s Running (it can be found here).

                Training for long distance races (half marathon, marathon, ultras) is difficult in and of itself. It becomes a whole other challenge when you factor in all the responsibilities many of us have–being a spouse, having children, owning or maintaining a home and/or working a full or part time job.

                I had more flexibility with my time before I was married and had kids. It was fairly typical for me to spend a couple of hours each day working out or at the gym. I’d run (with no set training plan–just however far I felt like running that day), cross-train and do some strength or core work.

                These days it is a delicate balance to juggle my responsibilities with my training. My “free” time is limited. I no longer have the luxury of running whenever and however far I like. And so, my training has to be adjusted a few ways.

                Make each mile count. Gone are the days where I just head out to run with no idea of how long or far I will be out. I’ve been forced to get smarter with my training. I am no longer able to waste my time running “empty” miles. Nowadays, each mile has to matter and every run has to have a purpose. I follow a training plan and ensure that when I leave the house, that run means something to me and my goals.

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                  Heading to Alaska!

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                  We leave this morning for a 3-week vacation to Alaska to visit our family (my in-laws) and do some sightseeing and relaxing! Could NOT be more excited!

                  The boys have been asking about our trip to Alaska for months. We made a countdown with 12 days to go – the first words out of their mouth each morning was that it was time to take another number down!

                  We spent two amazing weeks last year – and it’s a yearly tradition that my husband hope to be able to continue as long as possible!

                  We weren’t sure if our trip would even happen, however, until Tuesday morning. Unfortunately, the town where my in-laws live (Willow – which is what we named our first dog after!) has been battling a large wildfire for days. After an unseasonably mild winter (they got much less snow than recent years), the state has had unseasonably warm weather with little to no precipitation. While that sounds great, it has caused most of the state to be in a high level of danger for forest fires.

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                    Warm Weather Pace Adjustments -> Don’t Fight It

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                    The summer heat and humidity has arrived in the northeast and running has been a hot, sticky mess lately.

                    I always seem to start out overly confident of my ability to run through the humid weather each year and I try to fight it. And it usually takes only one long run to knock me upside the head and remind me of how much control the weather has over my pace.

                    I did an easy paced 15 miler two weekends ago. It was my longest run post-Boston – and the heat and humidity chewed me up.  If I’m being honest, it was one of those runs where I knew that I should slow down – I could feel the stickiness in the air and knew that the pace I was running would not be sustainable. The pace felt easy and manageable early on, but I had that little voice in my head telling me to just slow down and take it a bit easier. But I held on to that little bit of hope that today, THIS day, would be different and that the voice in my head was wrong. It wasn’t.

                    I didn’t start the run until 8am. It was already almost 80, humid and sunny. Not ideal but life comes first – we were up late with the boys at a neighbor’s bbq and I had no desire to get up before it was necessary. I also thought that I would be able to get the 15 miles in with no water. Not smart. As I talked about a couple of weeks ago in this post, this would be no issue during the winter, but I sweat too much during the summer for me to even make it past 12 miles without water.

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                      A Healthy U Conference + Memorial Day Weekend

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                      If you are in the NYC area this weekend, there is still time to register for the 2015 A Healthy U Conference – I’m really excited to have been asked to speak/answer questions during the running portion of the afternoon! All information can be found here. 

                      ———

                      Despite the long weekend, I still feel like I needed a recovery from the jam-packed weekend we had – which was mostly filled with family activities.

                      Saturday, we spent the entire day at my sister’s home in NJ for a BBQ. It really was two bbqs – hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken and all that go with that (salads, macaroni and cheese, veggies, guacamole) around 2pm and then ka-bobs, pototoes, corn, etc around 7pm. And then dessert. Lots of eating!! But also lots of running around on her gorgeous 1 acre property – wiffle ball, volleyball, golf, badmitten.

                      My husband and I had planned for Sunday to be a veg-kind-of-day – cleaning, laundry, relaxing and napping – but around 9am, my oldest son asked us if we could go to New York City – completely out of the blue. 20 minutes later, we were in the car, driving to the train station on Staten Island.

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                        Women’s Running Magazine Feature

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                        A couple of months ago, I received an email from one of the editors at Women’s Running asking if we could schedule a quick phone call for a story she was working on. My family and I were on vacation (work-cation for my husband!) in Florida and the boys and I had driven to my grandmother’s home (she lives about 90 min away from where we were staying) for the day.

                        Of course I said yes and we spent about 20 min chatting about running, kids and fitting in training with a family. I was pretty excited – I assumed I would be quoted in a story – either for the magazine or for an online article. Either way, it was a pretty big deal for me.

                        So you can imagine my surprise when the magazine got delivered a couple of weeks ago and I saw that it was way more than just a quote. I’m extremely honored to be even be mentioned in the same section with the likes of Deena Kastor, Alysia Montano and Paula Radcliffe – all mother runners who have been such an incredible source of inspiration and strength for me through the years.

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                          Recovery + Weekend Fun

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                          Hibachi with my sons and niece!

                          This past week was wonderful. No running, sleeping in (well, until the boys wook up at 5:45/6am), drinking wine every night and eating whatever I had a hankering for (which seemed to be a lot of chocolate and french fries).

                          I woke up incredibly sore on Tuesday – more sore than I ever remember being post-marathon. Tuesday and Wednesday were just painful – the stairs mocked me each time I was on them. But it was a happy kind of pain – I still don’t think the smile has left since last Monday!

                          I didn’t do much moving at all on Tuesday (which was necessary!). Wednesday, the boys and I went to the zoo for a few hours. It felt good (yet still a bit painful) to walk around – but it was too gorgeous of a day to keep them inside!

                          I got on the bike on Thursday and Friday and did 30 min of easy spinning (didn’t even break a sweat) just to get my legs moving. No core work. No strength work. No running.

                          Saturday was my first run. 4 achy, not-so-great miles. No garmin but I think it was about 9-9:15 pace. My quads still felt a little sore – I felt fine walking and assumed the run would be okay – but it was clear I needed another day or so of recovery. (I took Sunday off and ran 5 miles yesterday which felt much better.)

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                            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 are on the same page as us for a lot of these things. And some has come as a result of wanting to change the way we physically felt.

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                              Life Lately + Entering Taper

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                              He’s in his bathing suit – it’s an Easter tradition in our family (since I was a little girl) that the Easter Bunny brings your first new bathing suit for the upcoming summer!

                              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 4 miles staring at my Garmin hoping the miles would tick by faster (and that my pace would drop). Neither happened.

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                                Unplugged Week + First Time To Disney!

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                                My family and I had a rather spur-of-the-moment trip to Florida last week!! My husband found out about a conference in Orlando that he was going to attend and threw out the idea of me and boys joining him. Between the brutal winter so far, the increasing desire to take the boys to Disney and the ability to see my grandmother (who spends the winters about an hour outside Orlando) and my dad (who spends a couple of months each winter with my grandma), it was a no brainer.

                                So after my 20-miler Saturday morning (first of training cycle – whoohoo!), we hit the road (we drove the 1,000+ miles!). Unfortunately, we left right when a snowstorm was hitting the east coast. We had checked the forecast and knew we would be getting some snow, but I kind of gave the side-eye to the “winter storm watch” (the snow accumulations have been way off the forecasted amounts up until this point). Plus, we assumed that the roads, especially I-95, the main interstate on the east coast, would be A-ok.

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                                  When You DON’T Regret Skipping a Run

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                                  Missed the best sunrises in the world!

                                  I’m hosting an awesome giveaway for a Garmin Vivosmart – courtesy of Garmin – on Instagram!

                                  ———————————

                                  After returning from Honolulu and running the marathon with my sister, I was ready to jump back into training. I took the following day off (which was a complete travel day) and began running on Tuesday (4 miles). I continued with nothing but easy-paced 8 milers the rest of the week – one day had 10×1 min on, 1 min off pickups in the middle.

                                  I went to bed Friday night excited and to resume long runs – coach had 19-20 on the training plan for me and physically, I felt ready. I woke up Saturday morning and from the moment my eyes opened, knew something was off. My head was aching and I felt like I was coming down with something. After a cup of coffee, I still didn’t feel any better and made the decision to skip the run for the day.

                                  Part of me wanted to just suck it up and go. I kept hearing various phrases and inspirational images that are often thrown around social media:
                                  The only run you regret is the one you don’t go on
                                  I never regret a run. 

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                                    Honolulu Marathon Recap + Review

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                                    The Honolulu Marathon was the most special, emotional finish line I’ve ever crossed. Running 26.2 miles side by side with my sister is a memory that I will cherish forever and I am so grateful to Saucony and Competitor for the opportunity to experience it in Hawaii with 16 other amazing females.

                                    The race and race weekend were…interesting. I had no idea prior to race weekend that over half the field is made up of runners from Japan. It was amazing to feel like we were part of something international. But it was strange, too – at time I felt like we were overseas! The expo, race packet, start line instructions were all in English as well as Japanese and there were two national anthems at the start.

                                    Race Morning

                                    To minimize the heat of the Hawaiian sun, the race began at 5am, which meant a 2:30am wakeup for Nicole and I. It wasn’t too terrible for us since we were still on east coast time. We met the other teams in the lobby at 4am and walked to the start area which was 1.5 miles away.

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                                      My Son’s First “Race” and Long Run Success

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                                      Pre-race…LOVE that every child was “#1”!

                                      A couple of weeks ago, a friend sent my husband and I the website for a local kids race, the Kids Running Obstacle Course (ROC). The youngest category was 4-5 years old, so we decided to sign our oldest son up up (he’ll be 4 in January). He has shown an interest in running and he’s a big fan of climbing, jumping, rolling, etc (like any young child!) so it seemed like a perfect first race for him.

                                      The race not disappoint. My son never stopped smiling throughout the entire 10-15 minutes it took to run over, under or through the obstacles.

                                      Some he was able to maneuver on his own and then either myself or Jenn (who was with her daughter) were there to help him over those that were a bit outside his comfort zone.

                                      I’ve wanted to sign him up for several kids races earlier this year, but I’ve been hesitant b/c I never want running to be something I force on him. My husband and I decided that the obstacle course aspect of it would be a good introduction into racing/running.

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                                        Staying Active as the Summer Ends

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                                        As much as I look forward to summer, I’m always a little excited when it starts to come to an end. I love the crispness in the air as temperatures start to drop and I always have this overwhelming desire to do anything and everything outside again.

                                        Although this summer wasn’t sweltering like it has been in recent years, I still avoided some of the more demanding outdoor activities with the boys during the days in July and August (unless it involved a pool or water).

                                        But, as always, once the cooler days start coming around, my family and I try to take advantage of the weather and do as much outside as we can. Below are a few of our favorite activities:

                                        Nighttime Stroller Running: We’ve only been doing this a few weeks, but it’s a family favorite already. We either take the double and alternate pushing or we each take a single.  It’s a great way for my husband and I to catch up on our days, for the boys to get that last bit of fresh air and for us all to stretch our legs. Lately, the boys have been asking to “run” when we get close to home, so we let them out of the stroller and they run the last little stretch home. 

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