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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    Body and Weight Changes During and After a Training Cycle

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    **I don’t post here every day, but you can find me on Instagram sharing everything related to running!**

    I’m always hesitant to talk about body or weight-related topics because they are definitely touchy subjects! But I wanted to talk about some things that have been on my mind recently.

    I am almost two months removed from the Boston Marathon.

    My running during the peak of Boston training was around 65 mpw. These days, I’m anywhere from 20-40. No run has been longer than 11 miles. Very few have been beyond 10. (I’ll go into more details soon about how I’m feeling, what I’m doing / not doing, etc).

    I’m also not eating as “healthy” right now as I was several months ago. It means ice cream at night, muffins or donuts on the weekend with my little guys, frappacinos when I feel like it. I’m not eating until I’m nauseous but I’m allowing myself to eat all those things that I may have passed up during the peak part of my training.

    And I’m about 6-8 pounds heavier than I was three months ago. Now, I’m not saying I’m heavy or need to diet or anything like that. Not at all. But I am heavier. I can feel and see the weight gain. 6-8 pounds on my body is noticeable (to me). It’s about 5-7% of my total body weight.

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      Boston Marathon Training – By the Numbers

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      I did this kind of post in the fall with Wineglass – and loved being able to recap and rehash the 3+ months I pushed for the marathon.

      This training cycle was a breakthrough for me – for a few different reasons. I will add that I consider the “cycle” to be from the start of the New Year until race day. I had been running fairly consistently through the New Year – but wasn’t following a training plan nor was I doing dedicated speedwork. It was more of the “I feel good today, let’s try this fun workout” or “I’ll go for 12-16 and see how I feel” for the long run. Most of my “long” runs were between 10-13 miles during the three months post-Wineglass with a few being a few miles higher (nothing over 16).

      First, it was truly the first time where I felt my race times matched my training (not Boston, but NYC Half). I had all but come to the conclusion that I am just a fast trainer. I like doing my long runs at a good pace and my tempos are fast (for me). For other runners, those paces may indicate a certain finish time in a race, but for me, they always seemed to be slower. For a long time, I was worried that I was pushing too hard in training. But then NYC Half happened and that was all the proof I needed to know that I had been training correctly (for me).

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        Fueling: Long Runs, Workouts, Post-Work Runs

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        Back in the fall I discussed some changes I made to fueling during long runs and overall nutrition.

        But other than saying that I was fueling, I didn’t go into specifics of how I’m fueling for these runs. I’ve received a few questions on either Instagram, Facebook or recent posts, so I wanted to address the ways I fuel myself for long runs, workouts and post-work runs.

        Long Runs
        I typically do not eat anything before my long runs (Note: I drink a cup of coffee with creamer). It’s not that I am trying to start on an empty stomach, but I’m often doing these runs early on Saturday morning (5-5:30am) and in order for me to eat something and allow time for it to digest, I would have to set my alarm for 4am – or earlier – something I’m not willing to do on a Saturday morning.

        I started experimenting more with Generation UCAN that last few months. Prior to this cycle, I really only used Gen UCAN for races. But I found that it was the perfect solution to wanting something in my stomach for the long run but not having to worry about waiting around for it to digest.

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          Last Long Tempo – The Run That Almost Wasn’t

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          Last week was a pretty off week. Crappy, actually. What should have been close to a 70 mile week ended with 50 which included one unplanned rest day, an extra “easy” day and a 4.5 mile day instead of 8 miles. Not the biggest deal but after a string of days where running didn’t feel good, the little doubt demons started to enter. I initially chalked it up to not enough sleep, but after waking up Saturday morning (after a decent night’s sleep) feeling worse than I had all week, I began to worry that maybe I was bordering on overtraining.

          My alarm went off at 4:30am with the plan to be out running by 5:15 or so. I knew this run was going to be tough and I just wanted to get up and get it over with. Plus, the forecast was calling for the winds and rain to pick up as the day went on. Not ideal for a long tempo.

          At 5am, I was pretty close to pulling the plug on the long tempo. My head hurt and I just didn’t feel “right”. All I wanted to do was lay on the couch under the covers. As a last resort, I decided to just down a ton of water and see if that helped. I knew I had drank much less water than usual this week but I assumed what I had consumed was enough.

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            Boston Marathon 2016 Training (T-16)

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            Now that I’m formally training for Boston, I figured it was time to bring back my weekly training updates. I like typing them out here. It helps keep me accountable and affords me the opportunity to look back on my training – highlighting the good and bad – as a cycle comes to an end and then again, after the race. I take note of what worked so that I can repeat it and what didn’t work so I make some changes.

            After about two months of “coaching” myself, I made the decision to return to Coach Mark Hadley. I had great success with his coaching the last 12 months. He helped me lower my marathon PR to 3:12 – and I know that I have a faster time in me – so I’m hopeful that with his guidance, I can get there.

            We are 15+ weeks out from Boston Monday – still a load of time. But I also know how fast these weeks can start to fly by. My focus for the next few weeks is to find what is sustainable. I am so appreciative of all the feedback I received from last week’s post. I read every comment and email – and had some really great suggestions and ideas. In the end, I’ve decided to try the Friday long run for the time being. That, coupled with an optional rest day on Wednesdays and I’m hopeful that the plan is feasible.

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              Base Building + 17 Weeks til Boston!

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              The period in between training cycles is always a hard time for me. It’s my nature to want to keep moving forward and pushing hard to improve. But, the reality is that although some people can keep up the intensity and mileage each week of the year, neither my body nor my mind can handle it. I need a bit of a break from the routine and following a training plan.

              That’s not to say that I am not running or doing speed workouts or even running long. I am. Running makes me happy and it’s the best way for me to start the day and I’ve never been a fan of taking long periods of time off (I find I do much better with easy runs / lower mileage). Right now, it’s very unstructured. I decide what kind of speedwork I feel like doing when it’s time to start. I have a very wide range of miles I hope to hit for my long run (usually 4-6 miles). I allow myself to sleep in if I’m not feeling great, not feeling a run or if the weather is lousy. Rather than trying to get faster or run longer, my focus is more on just maintaining.

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                A Break From Training

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                Are you following me on Instagram? Make sure you are for some fun news and giveaways soon!

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                About two weeks ago I decided to take a break with training. Don’t get me wrong – I’m still running most morning and have every intention to train hard for Boston in the spring. But right now, I just need a mental and physical break from being tied to a training plan.

                I think it’s partially because I’m adjusting to a new normal for me and my family and I’m trying to find that happy balance where I don’t feel like I’m running myself ragged. I think it’s also partially because I am a bit worn out from a long, hard training cycle. I was pumped up after Wineglass and had plans to put my head down and continue working hard through Boston. But my body, heart and mind are not in it right now.

                The truth is, for a few weeks, I didn’t have much of a desire to run long on the weekends. Zero desire to run 8 miles every day. Zero desire to run in the freezing cold.

                And I was getting annoyed with myself and frustrated that I wasn’t running the mileage outlined in my training plan.

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                  Wineglass Marathon Training Update (T-2)

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                  The hay is in the barn, the money has been deposited…less than two weeks to go! Just one long tempo workout and a mid-ish distance run on Saturday and then nothing but short, easy runs before race day!

                  This was a big week of running for me. At this point in training, there are no short speed workouts on the plan. No more 600s, 800s, mile repeats, two mile tempos. Those were to build speed. For the last few weeks, the focus has been on longer workouts that will make marathon pace feel easier – long steady state, longer tempos and longer tempo intervals. See the similarity? They are all LONG. These workouts have been sprinkled throughout the cycle and have been gradually building in length – and three of them culminated this week – longest steady state (12 miles), longest LT tempo (5 miles – total 11 miles) and longest long-run tempo (16 miles w/ 8 @ tempo). I’ve seen these workouts on the plan for several weeks now – and I’ve been a bit intimidated. Each of them, alone, is tough enough. But to have all three over the course of six days made it even more so.

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                    Wineglass Marathon Training Update (T-3) + Returning to Work!

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                    LESS than 3 weeks until it’s time to lay it all out there – getting close!!! I feel like the last 4-6 weeks flew by – just like the end of the summer. School started for my little guys on Monday – Pre-K 4 and Pre-K 3!

                    I’m also happy to share that I got another job offer this week – and will be accepting! Everything about this job and position feels right to me and I’m over the moon ecstatic to return to work. Most days will be close to 13 hours out of the house (it’s in Midtown East so the commute will be 60+ min in AM and 90+ min in PM) and I know running will have to take a backseat. Not sure what I’m going to do yet in regards with training and racing – I think decisions will be made as we go along and I see how much running I’m able to fit in. But I feel ready to shift around priorities and cut back where I need to.

                    So, Wineglass is rapidly approaching. We are down to 19 days. 19!!!

                    Thankfully, I had a pretty solid week of training last week. I felt great, the paces felt comfortable and most importantly, I feel like my motivation and excitement for training has returned. After the last couple of weeks of lackluster running and then my discouraging run/race at RnR VB last weekend, I was beginning to freak out with how poorly I felt. I was worried that those feelings would cause a landslide into the final weeks of training.

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                      Humana RnR Virginia Beach Weekend + Recap

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                      This past weekend, I had the pleasure of spending a few days in Virginia Beach for the Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon. It was a fun ~48 hours filled with some running, great food and lots of time with friends!

                      I landed in Norfolk Friday afternoon and after a quick Uber ride, was in the Virginia Beach area.

                      I met up with my friend, Chris (aka RunWestin) for dinner at Eat – and were joined by Jennifer and Michael. The food was amazing – definitely a great restaurant to try if you are in the VA Beach area (thanks, Jen, for the recommendation!).

                      Saturday morning started off bright and early – Jess picked me up and we headed to her in-law’s home where we sat around and chatted for several hours (we had plans to watch the sunrise with her children but the rain and stormy skies prevented that from happening). We finally made our way to a local park for a few shakeout miles. This park is gorgeous – relatively flat, packed dirt to run on and TONS of local runners getting their long runs in. I even ran into Ally while we were there – it was amazing to finally meet her after years of following each other on social media.

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                        Wineglass Marathon Training Update (T-9)

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                        I started this post Sunday evening in the midst of one of those “can’t stop eating” days of marathon training. Last week was the longest long run and highest mileage week since Boston training…and it capped off the 2nd highest mileage month ever for me (have to go back to October 2014 for highest). So my insatiable appetite is understandable and expected.

                        On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being a completely successful week), I’d classify last week as a 9 – it would have been a perfect week of running had Wednesday’s tempo gone better. But, instead, I quit after 2 of the 4 tempo miles and turned the remainder of the miles into “easy”. I’d love to blame the heat and humidity, but I think it was just a result of a lot of things. And I refuse to complain about this weather because no matter how hot it is, it still beats the 0 degree weather we were dealing with in the winter.

                        My husband was away from Mon-Thurs evening – and I was able to run all of my training runs outside and solo (except one treadmill run). I’m lucky enough to have a supportive family who will come over to watch the boys so I don’t need to run with the stroller or on the treadmill. My running happened this week when I had the chance – couple of days were right smack in the middle of the 95 degree weather – but it beats being down the basement, right?

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                          Orange Mud HydraQuiver Vest Pack 1 Review!

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                          After writing this post a few weeks ago, I was surprised at how many of you are/were in the same boat as me – struggling to find the right hydration source for these sweltering summer runs. We don’t want to hold a bottle, don’t want to have to stop every few miles to drink from a bottle either along course or by our home and hadn’t had luck with belts.

                          Well, I tried a new hydration system this weekend – the Orange Mud.Vest Pack 1 – and am already hooked.

                          First, let me say that I owe a HUGE thanks to Cheri for recommending it to me. I looked into every single recommendation that was mentioned in the comments – and actually got a couple that I will be testing out to see what works best for me.

                          But rather than wait until I try them all out to do one massive review, I wanted to share my initial thoughts on the Orange Mud pack – I feel that after a 16 mile run in 80+ degree weather, you know one way or the other if the vest is going to work!

                          The Orange Mud markets it’s products as “no bounce, ultralight hydration packs.” The idea behind the Orange Mud is that you use a bottle instead of a bladder and hose system. The bottle is kept behind you on your back – similar to a camelbak or other bladder backpack system. The bottle is easy to grab and replace thanks to a wide funnel opening and perfect retention.

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

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                              vivoline

                              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.

                              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!

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                                2014 NYC Marathon Race Recap

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                                On Sunday, I completed my 8th marathon. It wasn’t a PR or goal race but it was one of the most amazing, exciting and humbling experiences of my running “career”. The importance of the day had nothing to do with me or my running goals, but rather, who I was there for – my friend, John. Helping a friend run the race he trained for, made the race, the day and the overall experience a million times more meaningful and special than a PR could ever do.

                                The days leading up to the 2014 NYC Marathon were stressful. I hadn’t planned on much of a taper since my coach and I were treating the race like an extra-long training run. But, my body had other plans. I made Thursday and Saturday complete rest days (unplanned) – I felt feverish, my body ached and had a pounding headache most of Wednesday and Saturday. I began panicking Saturday afternoon (after spending a good portion of the day in bed) about how I was going to run a marathon the next day. Thankfully, I woke up Sunday morning feeling much better!

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                                  Not Expecting Perfection

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                                  Sometimes I get so wrapped up in expecting things to be perfect. For my long runs, I imagine popping up the moment the alarm goes off, feeling fantastic the moment my eyes open, being completely excited about the idea of a 20 mile run and having that bounce in my step for the entire run.

                                  And then when things don’t go as planned, I get so thrown off and down with myself that I have had the tendency to quit and give up. This has been a huge problem for me during training as well as racing. I spend so long dreaming of and imagining the perfect race that I often quit mentally long before my body is ready to.

                                  But training, especially marathon training, will not be perfect every step of the way. The more I race and the more I train, the more I learn this. There will be those magical long runs where everything clicks or those tempos where the pace feels effortless. But there will be just as many hard-fought long runs where every step feels like a death march or easy runs where you just want to sleep in.

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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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                                        Women’s Running Blogger Series + It’s Good To Be Back

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                                        Hi and Happy Wednesday!! I started this on Sunday with the intent of posting it Monday morning so I decided to just finish it up and post today while I had some time…better late than never, I guess.

                                        Hope you all had a great weekend! Did anyone race? It seemed like there were a bunch of big races – SF Marathon/Half Marathon and Eugene Marathon/Half as well as some Ironman races including Lake Placid! I had a ton of flashbacks all weekend – doing a lot of “one year ago from right now, I was doing this…”. It still feels surreal that it was already one year ago. As much as I wanted to relive the whole experience, I am pretty happy with my decision to step back from Ironman training for the next few years.

                                        I shared on Facebook and Instagram already, but I’m happy to to announce that I am participating in the Women’s Running Blogger Series. Women’s Running contacted me about a month ago to see if I was interested in blogging for them once/week on their site. I’m honored to be among four other really amazing bloggers, including two of my friends Janae and Dorothy. There will be one new post every day (from Monday-Friday) from one of us so make sure you check out Women’s Running daily!

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