NYC Marathon Training Highlights

13-miler

This is the first marathon training cycle since I’ve been blogging where I didn’t really blog and post updates of my weekly training. It was a busy fall and blogging was at the bottom of the priority list. So this will be a once over of the training cycle with some key workouts and breakthroughs that helped me run a PR at the NYC Marathon. (I try to post all of my runs and workouts on Instagram!)

But before I get into the training cycle, I feel it warrants a brief discussion on what I was doing over the summer. The 2-3 months after Boston were not fun (as I’ve discussed before). Each time I tried to build my mileage up or increase intensity again, I would almost immediately begin to feel drained and exhausted (which would last a week or two). I remember one run in particular – I had made it maybe 2 miles before stopping because I was out of breath and just not feeling right. I walked and ran the 1 mile back to my house and questioned if I would ever have the energy to run double digits again, let alone race a marathon. Sometime around mid-July, I started to feel like myself again and the mileage started creeping up.

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    Learning to Race Well + Post-Boston Racing Plans + RnR Coupon Code!

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    I don’t post here every day, but you can find my daily running, thoughts and tips on Instagram!

    It’s no secret that the more you do something, the better at it you become. Want to swim better? Get in the pool and start swimming. Want to perfect a dish? Keep cooking it and making small improvements.

    And so, in order to race well, the best thing to do is to jump in and race.

    The reality is, no matter how hard and well you train, if you are a poor racer, you may never see the results of your work. Things like fueling improperly, going out too fast, overdressing, not being comfortable with the taper and letting the negative thoughts come into your mind can all be honed by racing.

    I don’t know if I would call myself a great racer, but I’ve made a lot of progress the last couple of years and can confidently say that I am a light years ahead of where I was two or three years ago.

    The more you race, the more you can take away from each experience. Find what works well. What things you need to improve upon. A bad race, while unfortunate in the short-term, will provide you a lot of insight into things you probably don’t want to do again. And can be a great tool to use in the long-term. Use it as a learning experience – write those nuggets of wisdom you learned down – and then move on.

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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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        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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          2015 Brooklyn Half Marathon: Race Recap

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          The only thing better than running a PR at the Brooklyn Half on Saturday was helping a good friend run one.

          As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I had decided to forego racing on Saturday. My coach and I both felt it was a bit too close after Boston – my first speed work was this past week (8 miles with 4 at tempo) and I am still in the regeneration stage. I also felt that I was mentally not ready. Training for – and racing – a marathon takes a lot out of me and I didn’t feel like I could wrap my head around running all out for 13.1 miles so soon.

          I reached out to my dear friend, Jen, and offered to pace her. I’ve been coaching her for a while and knew that she wanted to run sub-2. It seemed like the perfect option – I could use it as a shorter long run, still get to run and experience the Brooklyn course/race and help a friend achieve her goals.

          Before I get into the details of the entire morning, I wanted to talk about some of the pros and cons of the race (this is just my opinion).

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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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              Highs and Lows

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              Some of my closest girlfriends!

              This weekend was {this} close to being an absolutely perfect one.  Friday afternoon, I said goodbye to the boys (who were being watched by my sweet sister!) and picked up three of my college girlfriends from the airport/their apartment in NJ enroute to our 10 year college reunion at West Point. Friday night was an organized dinner where we got to catch up with all of our classmates who had come for the reunion. We had decided to go sans significant others/kids so that we could have some girl time – we haven’t all been together in years.

              We didn’t make it to bed until 2am – WAY past my normal bedtime but totally worth the exhaustion we all felt at 6am the next morning when it was time to get up and get ready for the day. Saturday consisted of watching the pre-game parade (first parade I have seen since I graduated):

               Having lunch in the mess hall (cafeteria):

              Hanging out in North Area (location where we had formation 2x/day):

              Touring the gym:

              and lastly, attending the football game:

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                Saucony Virrata Review

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                Over the years, I have dabbled with zero-drop shoes on more occasions than I can remember.  I SO wanted to wear a lightweight, more natural shoe.  But each time I have had to sadly return to my previous training shoe because my foot felt too naked, too unsupported for anything more than a mile or two. They just didn’t feel right on my foot and I couldn’t get used to the feeling of having NO support from the pavement.

                So, understandably, I was intrigued when I heard about the new Saucony shoe – the Virrata.

                The Virrata is Saucony’s lightest and most flexible training shoe which allows your foot to move naturally.  But Saucony did something different with this shoe – something I hadn’t seen in other natural 0mm drop shoes. Rather than completely strip down the shoe and leave a 0mm drop shoe with no support or cushioning, they ADDED 18mm of cushion at the bottom. GENIUS. 

                I loved this concept because it addressed my biggest issue with lightweight, 0mm drop shoes – the lack of protection and support. 

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                  Pre-NYC Half

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                  The NYC Half Race Recap will be up tomorrow but I’ll save the suspense…I PR’d by over 2 min!!! I didn’t get my sub-1:32 but I was darn close (1:32:23) and could NOT be happier with how the whole race went.  I don’t think the smile has left my face since I crossed the finish line.

                  And want to know one of the best parts about the weekend?  I am not the only one who PR’d…SO many friends set massive PRs this weekend:

                  • Kristin ran the LA Marathon in 3:20
                  • Ashley ran a 1:43 at the NYC Half -> PR by over 2 min
                  • Jess took 10 min off her half and ran the Rock N Roll Half in 1:33
                  • Gia got her BQ at the LA Marathon after missing it by 10 sec in the fall – she ran a 3:32
                  • Theodora ran a 5 min PR in 1:50 at the Rock N Roll DC Half
                  • Erica got her sub-2 half at the NYC Half
                  • Lindsey crushed her previous marathon PR with a 3:13 at the Shamrock Marathon
                  • Ashley ran a 2:05 to crush her PR that she’s had for 5 years at the NYC Half

                  On the Run Interview

                  I am so happy and honored to have been featured in their coverage leading up to the NYC Half. In case you missed it on WABC or on their website, here is the video:

                  Saturday Expo + Shopping

                  I headed to the NYC Half expo Saturday morning to get my race bib (with the coolest # ever – 1234!).  It couldn’t be located so I had to be given a replacement one (#1900).  Kind of bummed because 1234 sounded fast but I forced myself to not something as trivial as a race # pysch me out.

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                    Behind the Scenes

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                    I received a phone call from one of my good friends at NYRR – she was someone I had met during the Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge journey and have remained in close contact with her.  She wanted to know if I would be interested in being filmed for an On the Run episode – an online series created/produced by NYRR.  With the NYC Half being the first race run on the streets of NYC since Superstorm Sandy, NYRR was putting together some segments on those running the race who were affected by the storm.  She was aware that I had organized the Race for Recovery, she thought I would be a good fit.

                    A couple of days after that initial conversation, I was told that WABC had learned of my story and were interested in airing the segment on their channel during the NYC Half coverage on Sunday.  My piece is scheduled to air at 7:16am on Sunday, March 17 on WABC.  (More information can be found here.)  As soon as I find out the link on the NYRR website and/or the WABC site, I will share it!

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                      Race Week: NYC Half

                      2010 NYC Half

                      The NYC Half is Sunday.

                      I’m anxious, excited and nervous as all heck.  Anxious to put the last 10 weeks of hard training to the test.  Excited to be racing again.  Nervous because I have some pretty BIG goals for this race.  

                      There’s a huge part of me that wants to keep my goals hidden.  It’ll be a lot easier on Sunday if I come up short if I didn’t share what my goals were here.  I won’t have to publicly admit defeat like I had to do in January when I missed the qualifying time for the Saucony Hurricane Team.  

                      But, I share my training – the good and bad…so feel that sharing my goals is a continuation of that.  I try to openly share my goals – all of them – on here, twitter, facebook, IG.

                      And what is the worst that could happen?  That I fail?  I have failed at SO many things I’ve set out to do in my life…so what’s one more?  Failing makes me stronger.  Failing no longer scares me.

                      All I can do on Saturday is race with my heart and my head – my body will follow. 

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                        Strengthening Your Mind

                        Baptism

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                        Last Day to Enter the PRO Compression Giveaway here!

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                        This past weekend was my son’s Baptism. It was a perfect day –  wonderful ceremony, good food, and our family and neighbors to share the day with us.  I’m extremely sentimental and wanted my boys to wear the same christening outfit – just like my sisters and I did when we were all baptized. We had a small party at our home afterwards catered from a yummy place on Staten Island.

                        All dressed up for a change!

                        I love little boy clothes:

                        My mom and sisters:

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                        This is one of my favorite mantras to say to myself during a tough run:

                        I have many moments of doubt and even more moments of wanting to just quit when I’m doing during tempo and speed workouts.

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                          Long Run Mental Toughness

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                          Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for an awesome and fun giveaway!! =) =)

                          Since I haven’t blogged since this post, I figured I’d share my workouts from last week with you.

                          Monday: 30 min bike (9.3 mi) + 5.5 mi speed workout.

                          • 1/2 mile warm-up
                          • 2 miles: 12:28
                          • 2 x 1 mile: 6:07, 5:59 (1st sub-6 mile post-baby!)
                          • 1/2 mile cool-down

                          Tuesday: 900 yd swim + 60 min bike (17.85 mi)

                          Wednesday: 900 yd swim + 5 mi tempo run. Swim went great – swam back-to-back days and arms felt totally fine.  Run: warmed up for the first mile (7:30 – started at 8:15 pace and was down to 6:30 for the last minute), stopped the treadmill, stretched one last time, caught my breath and began the workout.  My goal was 6:30 4 miles (No starting slow and speeding up). My legs were exhausted from back-to-back cycling and swim days but didn’t quit despite wanting to about 4010839302 times.

                          Thursday: 3 mile recovery run (7:50 pace).  Tested out the new Saucony Virrata shoes – initial impression is that I really like them…but I want to wear them a few more times before I do a review on them.

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                            PR Spotlight – Beka K

                            Brandon Half Marathon - Dec 2012
                            I love stories of people who have been inspired to run/race after seeing a marathon for the first time.  That is what happened to Beka in November 2011.  She ran her first 5k a month later and tackled her first half marathon less than three months after that!.  Her first half-marathon time?  2:17!  AND just became part of the sub-2 club when she knocked over 12 minutes off her half-marathon time!  Beka know holds a 1:54 half-marathon PR and is anxiously awaiting for training to begin this summer for her first full marathon.  Did I mention that she’s only been running about 14 months?? =)  I think she is going to be setting some pretty nice PRs this year due to her natural speed + incredible dedication. Name: Rebecca (Beka) Kelley Age: 28 Hometown: Memphis, TN – now live in Tampa, FL Blog: www.rebeccaroams.com Twitter: @rebeccaroams How long have you been running? 1 year & 2 months Why did you start running? In November 2011, I tagged along with my boyfriend to his first marathon (which I thought he was nuts for even doing). While he ran, I grabbed a big fatty breakfast at Denny’s, lounged around, and waited at my spots to see him a couple of times throughout the race. It wasn’t until the runners began crossing the finish line that I started to feel incredibly guilty about that breakfast, but so incredibly inspired! Watching so many different kinds of people meeting life long goals and seeing their emotions ranging from tears to huge smiles, and even a few blood stained shirts or knees. I was absolutely enamored with what they felt with that accomplishment and made it a goal on the spot to start distance running. Even if that meant just starting with 1 small mile (which I could not do at this point). One month later in December, I completed my first very painful 5k,  three months later, my first half marathon and I haven’t looked back! Favorite Race Distance/Why? So far, the half marathon. It requires endurance and speed. Tests you in both areas (although I’m not as speedy as Michele!)
                            PRs 5k: 25:57 10k: 56:28 Half: 1:54 Marathon: (tba in October!)
                            First Half Marathon time/when: Gasparilla Half (March 2012) – 2:17. Still not even knowing what a “pace” was, or even how long a half marathon “really was”, I decided to challenge myself and see just how far I could make it. I had only run 7 really hard miles prior. I never stopped running! I slowed significantly and at one point was so angry at myself for putting myself in this much pain, but all that anger and pain disappeared (momentarily) as soon as I saw the finish chute and I was given my medal. I was in complete and utter amazement at how the body can complete such a huge task! I immediately started signing up for more races as soon as I got home.

                            Previous Half Marathon PR/when: Women’s Half Marathon November 2012 2:06:58 – This was another total shocker for me. I had just gotten out of physical therapy thanks to a “learn my lesson about recovery and cross training” injury (hip) and really just wanted to finish. I was extremely nervous leading up to the race. I listened to my body and ran a smart race without giving up and without re-injuring myself! It paid off!

                            What did you do differently in your training to drop so much time off from your last half marathon? I made a plan and I stuck to it – I trained hard – didn’t miss ONE WORKOUT (not even a cross training workout -i.e yoga or weights) – even if my plan was for only 5 weeks. I made the time, woke up early, stayed up late, put in the effort, and it made the biggest difference!

                            What do you attribute the most to you PR’ing? Consistent weekly, hard tempo runs! A supportive boyfriend who also runs, and an amazing pacer – Meghann! If you have an opportunity for a speedy friend to help you meet your goal – accept it. Having her next to me made me feel accountable, and because of that I pushed myself to get that PR!
                            What is your next race/goal? I have a few more races (5k, 10k, halfs) scheduled through April, and really want to get a huge PR in my 10k since I’ve only run one before! In June I’ll begin training for my biggest goal of the year – Marine Corps Marathon (held in Oct). I am raising money for a wonderful charity- The Little Things for Cancer. I’m also planning to run along side one of my Marine Wounded Warrior friends. While in Afghanistan, he lost a leg and function in an arm and is doing everything in his power to rebuild his strength and be able to run this race with me! (you can read the full story here)

                            What piece of advice would you give to someone who is looking to PR? Train (consistently) well, recover better, and find running buddies to challenge you and hold you accountable. Definitely look toward those friends or the  blogger/social media healthy living and fitness community for the days you just don’t feel like getting out for that run. It is full of so many inspiring athletes! I know I have aimed higher and set higher goals because of them! Challenge yourself!

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                              Future Prom Date + 10 Mile PR

                              Good Morning!!  I already feel like this week is dragging and it’s only Tuesday :/

                              We had SUCH a fun day yesterday!  My girlfriend, Nicole, and her daugther drove from LI to spend a few hours with us (it was her first time on SI!).  Nicole and I met last year through twitter / blogging and were so excited when we found out our due dates were only 4 weeks apart.  It was a blast to go through pregnancy and now motherhood side-by-side with her. =)  We’ve been planning a playdate for weeks months and FINALLY put a date on the calendar! It was so much fun to meet her beautiful daughter, Olivia after seeing pictures of her from the first day she’s been born!

                              Our little ones are only one month apart in age – Liv is almost 4 months and Ryan is almost 5 months!  I think they make a pretty cute couple…what do you think? BTW – this picture was totally spontaneous – we didn’t pose them or their hands!

                              Nicole brought THE most delicious cookies I have ever tasted.  Seriously…Ever.  They were GF Chocolate Chip Cookies w/ Garbonzo Bean Flour (the recipe for this tasty morsels can be found here). I don’t even want to tell you how many cookies I ate yesterday afternoon / evening – I totally blame it on yesterday being my first swim workout for IMLP training (more on that in tomorrow’s post!).

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                                Battle of the Sexes – Household Bragging Rights

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                                Mondays Workout: Rest Day – Giving my legs an extra rest day this week since I have a BIG 10k this weekend (more details later this week)!

                                Fact: I am a competitive person with just about everything in life (sometimes over the silliest things).

                                Like last weekend: My husband and I were putting together Thomas puzzles with (for) my son.  There were four of them.  After putting the first two together, he said he would do one and I could do the other.  So, of course, it became a competition for me.  He didn’t need me to say it to know that I was suddenly racing to beat him.  (In case you were dying to know…I won.  Bazinga (totally obsessed with The Big Bang Theory at the moment).)

                                Or growing up: My sisters and I would compete to see who could get the best grades in school.  Okay.  Maybe they didn’t compete with me.  But I was definitely competing with them. =)

                                Or with military-related things:  My husband went to more schools then I did in the military (he’s a Ranger, Airborne, and Air Assault qualified while I am only Airborne).  But I deployed more times (and for more time) than he did.

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                                  Hills Are My Friend

                                  Photo Courtesy of Michelle: elleroos.wordpress.com

                                  Photo Courtesy of Michelle

                                  If you are like me, then you know that hills suck when you are doing them.  But they pay dividends on race day.

                                  My target race this spring is the NJ Marathon. Even though it’s a pancake flat course, I am incorporating some hill-specific workouts as well as general hill training into my training plan. Knowing that I’ve done hill training is a huge mental boost for me when I’m racing. I feel stronger knowing I’ve done those hill repeats.

                                  There are a few ways that I incorporate some hill work into my training:

                                  – Choose the route with hills.  If you have the choice between a totally flat course and one with some rolling hills (during training runs), go for the hills.  Your splits won’t be as fast, but it will pay off in the end.  I was confronted with this choice the last two Saturdays on my 12 and 14 mile runs.  If I run south from where I live, it’s almost entirely flat.  I decided to run north which has three back-to-back hills that would each rival cat hill in central park.

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                                    #Lucky13 Fitness Goals

                                    Run this Year Challenge

                                    Happy New Year!!

                                    I love the start of the New Year.  There is something so exciting and invigorating about setting goals for the next 365 days and hearing about all the goals others have set.

                                    13 has always been a lucky number for me (it was my high school basketball number for a few years), I decided to create my #Lucky13 Fitness Goals.  Some of them are the same goals as I had for 2012…I found out I was pregnant only a few weeks into 2012 and so almost all of my fitness-related goals had to be postponed until post-baby.

                                    1. Complete 50 miler: JFK 50 miler (Nov 16)  This was one of my 2012 goals but pregnancy put it on hold.  The JFK 50 miler is the largest 50 miler in the world (over 1,000 finishers) and I have heard nothing but amazing things about the entire race experience. I ran my first ultra distance in 2010 and my first ultra race in 2011 and have been itching to do another one.  Current distance PR: 60k (37.2 miles) in 5:41 (Knickerbocker 60k, 2011)

                                    2. Sub-3:10 MarathonNJ Marathon (May 5)  I was able to defer this race last year when I found out I was pregnant.  Taking 11 minutes off my previous PR may seem a bit of a stretch – but I haven’t actually “raced” a marathon since 2009 – between training for my first ultra, two pregnancies/childbirths, and the Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge, racing a marathon never seemed to be in the cards for me.  Current PR: 3:21:32 (Boston, 2009)

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                                      Spring Racing Decisions

                                      I am signed up for the NJ Marathon on May 5.  I was registered last year, but deferred (for free!) when I became pregnant.   This IS my target race for the spring.  It’s a flat, fast course and I have big dreams of running sub-3:10.  This is ultimately what all of my training will revolve around.  I want all the races I choose to run to add to, not take away from, this goal.

                                      But I have a dilemma.  I am toying with the idea of running either a March marathon or half marathon as preparation for NJ in May.  Here are my options:

                                      Option A: Run the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon (or the B & A Trail Marathon) on March 16

                                      • I would use this race as a test run before the NJ Marathon.  Truth be told, I haven’t “raced” a marathon since Boston 2009 – that’s almost FOUR years!! I ran the NYC Marathon in Nov 2011, but had to run the first half with four other runners (it was at a pace much slower than I’m used to running) so I didn’t get the opportunity to push myself for the full 26.2 miles.  I feel like using it as a test run could be a great idea – work out any issues I may have – fueling, water, clothes while also getting in the mindset of pushing for 26.2 miles.
                                      • The NJ Marathon is 7 weeks after these two races, so there is plenty of time to rest/recovery, get a few good long runs, and taper again.
                                      • This would require me to begin training NOW since the marathon is 15 weeks away.  Am I ready to begin putting in the long runs necessary for this?  I am not sure.  I’m still having a hard time being away from my boys – even for short runs (unless they are asleep).  And I’m not 100% sure I’m in the mindset of having long runs every single weekend.

                                      Option B: Run a half marathon (maybe NYC Half?) mid-March

                                      • This race could easily fit into my marathon training plan
                                      • I have HUGE goals when it comes to the half (I want to take 3+ min off my previous PR of 1:34) so would love a chance to PR during marathon training
                                      • The rest/recovery for this race would be much less than marathon (two weeks total as opposed to four) so I could focus on more long runs
                                      • I wouldn’t have to start training for another few weeks (just after the holidays)

                                      Part of me REALLY wants to run a marathon as soon as I can and I know I can definitely be ready by March.  But I’m not sure if doing one that soon would actually hinder my goals for NJ Marathon as opposed to help them.

                                      What are your thoughts?  

                                      Have you run marathons ~7 weeks apart?  Did you feel rested and ready to race again? 

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