Boston: 11 days to go – Plans, Goals and News!

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Check out the RXBar giveaway I’m hosting on Instagram this week!

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We are just a days away from race week. The Boston Marathon is less than 12 days away. It’s getting real.

I am not only starting to get anxious and excited for the race itself, but for the entire race weekend experience. I know a TON of other runners who will be racing and I’m looking forward to spending some time with them next weekend. There’s also a handful of other running friends who I’m excited to finally meet after years of following each other on social media!

My mom and I are heading up to Boston bright and early on Saturday morning. I’m BEYOND thrilled that she will be able to share this special weekend with me. My husband will be coming up Sunday afternoon – so two of the most important people in my life will be close to the finish line waiting for me. We will be returning home shortly after the race on Monday (I will likely go to hotel to take a bath/shower and then we will return home).

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    1:28:10 Half Marathon PR!

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    I am literally on cloud 9 this morning. Yesterday was one of the most amazing running days of my life. I will go into a full recap later this week, but wanted to pop in and share the good news (in case you don’t feel me on Instagram or Facebook!).

    I went into the race with a 1:31:57 half marathon PR that was set 2.5 years ago at the 2013 Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia race.

    I knew that I was more than trained for a PR. A 1:32 is ~7:00 min/mile pace. My long tempos (6-8 milers) have been closer to the 6:50 range – on tired legs – so I knew that if I ran smart, I had a chance to run that pace for 13 miles.

    Coach’s race plan for me was to start conservatively in the park, pick up the pace through Times Square and West Side Highway and then hang on and finish strong. The course fits very well with the way I’ve been tackling tempos – most of my recent ones (last year or so) have been negative split tempos, so I knew that if I just stayed patient early on through the hills in the Park, it could be a good race.

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      Warming up during a run + NYC Half on Sunday

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      Hello, hello!

      Happy St. Paddy’s Day!! Our house had a little visitor last night!

      This week has been a tough one. I find it odd since the previous two weeks were much more demanding at work and I was running higher mileage. This has been a bit of a taper (because of NYC Half on Sunday) and work has been more normal hours, but I’ve felt tired and just not thrilled with waking up early to run.

      I’ve learned that Sunday evening into Monday sets the condition for the rest of the week. When I start the week off on not enough sleep, the rest of the week is tough because there’s no chance of making up the sleep until the following weekend. It’s like starting a marathon without being fully charged and rested.

      The result was sleeping in on Tuesday (I reset the alarm to give me an two extra hours) and putting off a workout until Tuesday evening – which turned into a mostly easy run because I was just feeling too tired and “blah” after a day at work.

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        Staying on Track with Resolutions

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        This post is part of an ongoing sponsorship with Meta. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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        A couple of weeks ago, I shared what my top goals are for the year. It’s all fine and good to sit down at the end of each year and come up with goals for the next 365 days. And it’s likely that for the first few weeks of the year, the motivation and excitement are high enough to keep you marching ahead towards your goal without faltering.

        But once the energy of the new year wears off and the dreariness of winter hits, that willpower may start to dwindle.

        I’ve been there MANY times. It seems to happen to me on a yearly basis.

        So this year, I decided to be more proactive in an attempt to combat the broken resolutions.

        Don’t Go It Alone. It’s so much easier to make it to an early morning run, stick to a strength workout regime or focus on core work when you have a training buddy – virtual or in-person – to hold you accountable. I have a friend who lives hundreds of miles away that I kind of report to – and she to me – on a weekly basis. We plan to keep this up for as long as the strength routine becomes second-nature to us.

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          What Strength Exercises Should Runners Do?

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          As I mentioned in my goal post a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been incorporating some strength work into my weekly routine for about 6-7 weeks now. I feel a difference – in literally every single run. Speedwork has been faster, long runs feel more comfortable and easy runs have been effortless (I have been running garmin-free for these so not sure about paces). It’s likely due to a few factors (reducing processed foods and sweets) but one of them is definitely the strength work that is now a regular addition to my weekly training plan.

          Below are a few of my favorite moves – I will preface this all by saying that I am not an expert, certified trainer or anything along those lines. So there may be more efficient moves that I can be doing or maybe I should be doing more reps, less weight – but these seem to be working for me. I tried to explain them as best I could as well!

          I’ve also been hesitant to share them because regardless of how I feel in training, the true test of whether strength work is paying off will come on race day. But I don’t want to wait 2-3 months to share what I truly feel has been working. All I know is how I feel right now – my stride feels stronger and runs just feel easier – which is making me enjoy more of each run than I can remember.

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            2015 Goals – Focusing on the Process

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            It’s that time of year again when we all come up with goals (or resolutions or dreams or whatever you call them!) for the new year.

            In recent years, I came up with a whole laundry list of goals. I admit that some of it was blog filler – two years ago, I shared my 13 goals for 2013 . While it was fun to come up with all those goals, the reality is that I didn’t follow through on most of them. There were too many and too varied for me to really focus on ALL of them during the year – and most of them didn’t really mean that much to me.

            This year, I am changing my approach. Instead of having very detailed endstate goals (like run 3:10 in the marathon or sub-1:30 for the half – which I still REALLY want to do), I am focusing on the process. The endstate is still to PR, but I believe that it will come naturally as a result of sticking to these goals/resolutions.

            1. Embrace Winter. Each winter I run (no pun intended) to the treadmill at the first signs of cold, crappy weather. And while I know that you can definitely get a good workout in on the treadmill, I always feel strongest in the fall after a summer on the roads.

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              Recovery + Speedwork + Honolulu Marathon

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              Early morning miles with Jacqueline!

              The Potomac River Run Marathon was just over three weeks ago and I just had my first real speedwork. I took a few days off from running (and any sort of physical activity) after the marathon but started back up with short, easy runs mid-week. Since then, I’ve gradually increased mileage while keeping virtually all running to a super easy pace (I didn’t wear a Garmin at all for the first two weeks of running).

              The mileage looked like this:
              – 1 week post-marathon: 4 days of running – 22 miles
              – 2 weeks post-marathon: 6 days of running – 47.5 miles (including 10 miles with 10 x 1:00 on, 1:00 off -> no set pace)
              – 3 weeks post-marathon: 6 days of running – 47 miles (including 8 miler with 4 mile progression -> no set pace)

              I think there are multiple ways to recover from a goal race. I used to be of the mindset that I HAD to take an entire week off from running after a marathon and a few days off after a half marathon. My coach is of a different mindset, and believes in more of an active recovery. It was a change for me to run the day after a half marathon – even when I was a bit sore. But a short 3-4 miler and then a string of easy runs can work just as good, if not better, than complete rest.

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                Potomac River Run Marathon Race Recap

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                When I first started this blog, I had “only” run three marathons – all of which had been PRs and great experiences. The next handful of marathons I ran (after sharing my training here) were a bust – DNF, starting too fast or being incredibly unhappy with the results. I found I was putting too much pressure on myself and was focused on running a specific time at that moment. I wasn’t looking ahead nor was I viewing racing marathons as a process. Instead it was a kind of “do or die” mentality each time I got ready to race. It can be extremely disheartening if you are focused on just one race and things don’t go as planned.

                Overall, Sunday was a success. I enjoyed the entire experience and was excited and anxious to race as race day approached rather than having that fear and stress that previous races brought me. I executed a lot of things well on Sunday – fueling, pacing, running without music – but I would be lying if I didn’t share that there is a part of me that is slightly disappointed. I trained hard for several months and both my coach and I feel I was trained for a faster marathon than the results show.

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                  Birthday #33 + Finding My Rhythm

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                  Last week was a solid week of training. I feel like I have found my rhythm – I’m working hard during the workouts, running easy on the easy runs and feel recovered and energized through it all.

                  I ran a total of 73 miles, did core work 4x, strength work 3x, cross trained 2x (30 min each on trainer) – and did most of it while single parenting for the week. My husband has been traveling a lot for work lately and I was worried about how I would fit in all of these miles either with the stroller or on the treadmill.

                  I’ve learned that there will be always be an excuse if you let yourself have one. If you really want something, you will always find a way.

                  I also know that there are plenty of people busier than me – either at home with their kids, working full time or managing full time work and being a parent. Anytime I start to make an excuse, I think of these people and how they make their training work…and suddenly my busy week seems a bit easier.

                  73 miles, 7 runs, 3 workouts. Highlights are below:

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                    2014 Staten Island Half Marathon Race Recap

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                    Happy Monday! I keep forgetting that today is a holiday. My oldest is off from school but my husband has work – so it doesn’t feel like an actual holiday!

                    Yesterday was the Staten Island Half Marathon. It was the 4th time I ran this race. Other than the first year, I can’t say that I’ve had a good experience with the race. Here’s a quick run-down:

                    – 2010: 2:00:15 – 6 months pregnant. Ran it with my husband and good friend from college. Had a blast!


                    – 2011: 1:38:57 – Ran it as a tuneup 3 weeks before the NYC Marathon. Was shooting for sub-1:35 but started way too fast and had a rough 2nd half.


                    – 2013: DNF – Ran it as a tuneup before the Philly Marathon 5 weeks later. Started fast and started feeling hamstring pain around mile 8 so stopped at mile 9.

                    I really was focused on a strong race and effort, regardless of the finish time – but I also was looking to get a big course PR and try to get an overall PR.

                    For some reason this course is considered a fast course – but I really don’t know many runners who will agree with that statement. So who is spreading these rumors about it being fast? In my opinion, there’s three things that make it a tougher course than it appears:

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                      5k PR -> 1st Sub-20!

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                      Good Morning, Philly!

                      I showed up to the start of the RnR Philly 5k with no expectations. With the exception of a tough, tired interval workout this past week (that didn’t leave me feeling very optimistic), I hadn’t done formal speedwork in weeks (July 29th to be exact) and so didn’t have a good feel for how the race might go.

                      My one goal was to run strong and consistent – to not go out too fast and finished satisfied with my effort and execution. Races like this turn out the best for me. No stress or pressure. Just the excitement of being at a race atmosphere (which I LOVE).

                      The course was touted as being flat and fast – but just looking at the start and finish, I knew it wasn’t completely true (the finish had a very steep, short hill right at mile 3 – heartbreaker!). And the first mile was a very gradual decline (so mile 3 is a gradual incline). My garmin shows about 130 ft of gain (mapmyrun shows 110) – not anything huge – but even the smallest hill in a 5k feels like a mountain!

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                        The Long Run: Finding Myself Again

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                        One of my biggest issues this past summer was focusing too much on pace for my long runs. I was comparing my current times with last fall and either pushing too hard too soon in the run (and then totally bonking), quitting because I wasn’t hitting paces I was last fall or just stressing out entirely too much for a training run.

                        The long run has been this cloud over my head. I used to love the long run – it was always my favorite run of the week. It used to be two to three hours of getting to zone out and just run while enjoying my surroundings and being alone with my thoughts. It has turned into a run where all I do is stare at my garmin and worry about pace while counting down the miles and minutes until it is over.

                        Truth -> Training for a marathon is really tough and not enjoyable when you don’t look forward to the staple workout of the training plan. The last couple of months made me question my desire and ability to run marathons.

                        So I decided to take some time off from following a rigid training plan. Run hard when I wanted. Run some miles with the double stroller. Take a few extra rest days. Not force any long runs. Just destress and reset. And maybe when it was all said and done, I wouldn’t race a marathon this fall – and I was okay with that.

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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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                            New Fall Marathon + How To Run A Faster Marathon

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                            So not so great news to share…I have deferred my entry for the Wineglass Marathon until next year. Life, family and circumstances sometimes get in the way of our big plans and goals and as much as I was looking forward to racing in a few short weeks, ultimately, it really was the best decision for me, my training and my family. (Not trying to be vague but also not sharing all the details here.)

                            I hope to still race a marathon sometime in November – just haven’t registered for one yet. My short-list (right now) includes: Philly, Richmond and Potomac River Run. Have you raced any of these? Thoughts?

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                            I wanted to share my thoughts on how to run a faster marathon. Let me preface this all by saying that after taking a considerable amount of time off from my first to second marathons, I’ve mostly stayed at the same finish time (I’m working on improving that time right now and will obviously update this as necessary when I do!).

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                              Falmouth Race Recap

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                              This about sums up how I felt for most of the race

                              Sunday was such an amazing day and I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in such a historic and celebrated event. (If you are unfamiliar with the history of the race, you can read about it here.)

                              Unfortunately, it was not a good day of racing for me. It was a start too fast, crash on the hills, crash a little harder from the heat/humidity and suffer for about 50% of the race. Before I get into the racing specifics, I wanted to share an overview of the day.

                              Race Morning

                              Wakeup was scheduled for 5am but ended up being around 4:30am when my oldest son decided it was a good time to start the day. And the whole room was awake by 5! The good news is that I didn’t have to fumble around in the dark trying to be quiet. The bad news is that I left my husband with a dog and two tired kids while I went and raced. I had some coffee, got dressed and made my way down to the lobby by 5:45am to meet Chris (who was also racing) for our hour+ drive to the Cape.

                              We were parked and walking to the bus-pickup by 7:15am. Falmouth is a point-to-point race – and so they offer a bus shuttle from the finish area (where you park) to the start line. I was blown away by how organized and quick the pick up area was. The bus dropped us off just up the road from the start area. From there, we did a short warmup run to a friend’s hotel room to pick up our bibs (huge thanks to Tim for picking them up for us on Saturday!).

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                                Stop Comparing

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                                *Disclaimer – this post was intended to be my weekly submission for Women’s Running. I was 90% finished with it when I saw a very similar post from T-Rex Runner and so I didn’t submit it (you should go read hers here). Rather than just delete it, I wanted to share my thoughts here.

                                STOP the comparison game.

                                I’m not talking about doing it with/to others (although you shouldn’t do that either…but plenty has been written on that topic).

                                No, I’m talking doing it with/to yourself.

                                It’s something I find myself doing a lot – especially as of late. I’m a couple of months into training for my fall goal marathon. Over the last two months, I’ve gotten back into a good routine and hit most of the paces and logged most of the miles my coach has planned for me.

                                But, there’s been this nagging thought running through my mind on virtually every single run which has resulted in a very unnecessary running funk. The problem has been that I’m comparing myself to what I was doing last year. I had a really strong training cycle last fall – hands down the strongest, fastest and most fit I’ve ever been in my whole life. I was hitting paces for intervals, tempos and long runs that I had previously only dreamed of seeing. And while it (unfortunately) didn’t result in the time I was anticipating for the marathon, it has become the standard in my mind for how fast I could (and should) be running.

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                                  Eating to Run + Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

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                                  Just a reminder to please get your daily vote in for the Runner’s World Cover Contest!

                                  I haven’t been writing here as often as I would like for a couple of reasons – less “connected” time, more time unplugged, vacation. I’ve also been writing some posts on Competitor Running (last couple of months as part of the 26 Strong Team) as well as another site which I hope to be able to share with you this week! I honestly don’t have enough to say to fill two other websites as well as my own on a regular basis…so less posting here for the time being.

                                  I wanted to share a post I wrote for Competitor a couple of weeks ago. We were asked to discuss our viewpoints on nutrition/fueling – what do we eat, how do we approach it, etc. I discussed how I now eat to run rather than running to eat:

                                  When I first started training for marathons, I assumed I could eat whatever I wanted. I was logging more miles and completing longer runs (I had never run more than 7 miles before) and therefore needed more calories. In my mind, calories equaled calories. And so, despite training for and completing my first marathon, I put on weight and actually felt unhealthier than when I first began.

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                                    Dreaming Big: Runner’s World Cover Contest

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                                    So Runner’s World is having a contest to find a male and female runner to be on the cover of an upcoming issue. It’s a TOTAL long shot (I’ve read the bios of a handful of the applications already and there are some pretty amazing people) but I’ve decided to give it a shot and enter…it doesn’t hurt to try, right?

                                    Based on the judges’ criteria and total number of votes, five male and five female runners will be chosen for a round of interviews  with the editors. So while the number of votes isn’t paramount, the votes will help the applicant move on to the next round. Which is why I need your help!

                                    You can vote daily from now until August 15 (I promise to not bug you every single day!) and takes less than 10 seconds to vote (you don’t need to create an account or anything!)!

                                    Thank you for your help and support!

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                                    I don’t post here every day, but I post all of my workouts (and other happenings) on Instagram on a daily basis {NYCRunningMama}.

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                                      Training Catch Up + Fall Marathon Plans

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                                      I’m honored to have been selected as one of the 10 Fittest People You Aren’t Following on Instagram. I’m in some pretty amazing company, too.

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                                      It’s been a bit since I updated you on training. So here is a quick overview of the last few weeks…I’m a couple of weeks into training again post-NJ Marathon and am beginning to see signs of the leg turnover returning. The first couple of workouts were painful – I wasn’t hitting paces I had hit in the fall nor did I get into a rhythm during the workouts. And they just felt like “blah”.

                                      It’s hard to stay positive after workouts like these – but I have been reminding myself that this training cycle is long and my target race isn’t until October – so I have months to work hard and improve. It’s about patience and focusing on the small steps we take each week that will add up to the huge jumps we are hoping for on race day.

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                                        National Running Day + Adding Fun into Training

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                                        Happy National Running Day! I’m sure you’ve been inundated with information about events and deals…so here’s just a quick recap if you haven’t heard yet:

                                        • Westin Hotels: If you are in NYC today, come by Westin Grand Central at 10:30 for a chance to win some free gear, meet NY Yankees pitcher David Roberston and go on a 5k run!
                                        • Timex: Use hashtag #IMARUNNER on Twitter and Instagram to celebrate the day. For every use of #IMARUNNER on National Running Day, Timex will donate $5, up to $20,000, towards the Boomer Esiason Foundation’s Team Boomer program.  Individuals who contribute content via the hashtag #IMARUNNER will also be qualified to win Timex® IRONMAN® watches.
                                        • Sparkly Soul Giveaway: Enter to win one of three 5-packs of headbands
                                        • Rock ‘n’ Roll Races/Festival: Register today and save $20 on all US races (today only), learn about the new Running Festival at 5 locations across US
                                        • Rock ‘n’ Roll Fun Runs: 21 locations across US and Canada are hosting fun runs
                                        • I Run This Body gear: All shirts are on sale (today only!)
                                        • NYRR events: Fun runs, giveaways and/or water stations will be set up at various locations across NYC.
                                        • Women’s Running Magazine: Subscribe today for only $1 an issue!

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                                        I’ve mentioned a few times already that I am trying to keep the stress level down this training cycle. In the past, I had the mindset that I couldn’t have fun or do things less than 100% because it would mean I wasn’t completely dedicated. And I was always so envious of other runners who could train hard but also make time for things that seemed to bring them so much joy. And so I am making a conscious effort to do things that bring me happiness – even if they don’t technically “add” to my training. Things like running with my sister 1-2 times/week and running with friends when our schedule permits. In the past, I’ve been so determined to follow a training plan that I wasn’t willing to run easier/slower than I typically do on easy days or deviate at all from a training plan.

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