2016 NYC Marathon: 3:07:01

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I don’t even know where to begin. I will definitely write a full recap of yesterday because there is SO much to say. I woke up this morning still in utter disbelief with how yesterday went down. It feels like a dream to finally break 3:10 – and not just break it but to crush it. To finally feel like everything came together (and the weather cooperated). And to negative split a marathon.

But I wanted to drop in and just say a huge thank you. Thank you for all of the good luck wishes, tracking and cheering from afar, cheers during the race, congratulatory messages and comments post-race. My heart is literally bursting with happiness and gratitude. I loved the NYC Marathon before yesterday but after yesterday’s race, it is, without question, my favorite race in the world. There is nothing like running through the streets of your hometown and seeing familiar face after familiar face and hearing your name called hundreds and hundreds of times. Whenever I started to think about how much pain I was in or question how I was going to keep moving forward, I moved myself along the edge of the course and let the spectators push me forward. The cheers, high-fives and smiles literally gave me the energy to keep going. THIS is why I love big marathons. THIS is what makes NYC so very special and why I’ll keep coming back despite the hills, wind and tough course.

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    Sometimes You Just Need a Change…

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    So, if you follow me on IG, you probably have seen me mention a new coach. Switching coaches was not a decision that came lightly to me. Coach Hadley had been my coach for two years and I really blossomed under his tutorage. I PRd in every distance I raced – from the mile to the 5k to the half marathon to the marathon.

    So it may seem backwards that I changed coaches. (Note: I first decided to take a break from coaching. But after 3-4 weeks, I realized how much I missed the guidance, and direction that a coach provides. And so I felt like it was the right time to switch.) There were several reasons why I felt like it was a road I needed to take.

    First, I felt like training had become a bit monotonous. Coach Hadley has a specific training outlook and consequently, my training plan from cycle to cycle was pretty identical. There were minor changes – more tempo miles, an extra mile for a long run. But the shell was the same. This resulted in several things. After two years of similar plans, I felt like I could predict the workouts, paces and plan, I felt like I was always comparing myself to a previous workour or cycle and most importantly, it was no longer fun and exciting.

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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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          Wineglass Marathon Training – By the Numbers

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          One of the aspects of Coach Hadley’s training that I love is that there isn’t a day on the plan where we switch to marathon training – everything you do is training for your goal race (even recovery periods). I never technically stopped training after Boston – and the plan and training runs seamlessly transitioned from recovery to light speedwork to short intervals to long tempos. So it’s hard to say I trained for “x” number of weeks or months. After Boston, I took a few days off and then gradually picked up the miles over the course of the next couple of weeks but didn’t start speed or longer weekend runs until close to the end of May. I was pretty sore after Boston and needed a bit longer to get back into the swing of things. As the months progressed, workouts became more focused on the marathon distance – so longer long runs, longer tempos, steady state.

          When I look back on the training for Wineglass, a few things really pop out at me.

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            2015 Chicago Marathon Race Recap – Saucony 26 Strong

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            I had the honor of running side by side next to Ruth for 26.2 miles through the streets of Chicago on Sunday as she ran her first marathon. It was part of the Saucony 26 Strong program where Saucony partnered 13 “veteran” marathoners with 13 first-time marathoners – for coaching, advice and support over the last six months – with it culminating with the Chicago Marathon this past weekend.

            I am so inspired, impressed and motivated by Ruth. She decided only a few years ago that she wanted to run a marathon (I actually think that it was at the 2013 NYC Marathon when I met her for the first time!). She was a relatively new runner at the time and spent the last few years working on increasing her mileage. She ran her first half marathon last spring and then began the training for 26.2. I love that her age, situation (she’s a grandma!) or lack of running background dissuaded her from chasing down her goals. She set her eyes on the marathon finish line and trained her butt off the entire summer through the brutal heat and humidity – and even through a fall and stitches on her chin a few weeks ago! And I’m so proud to have been with her as she accomplished her dream on Sunday!

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              2015 Wineglass Marathon Race Recap – 3:12!

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              This past weekend I completed my 12th marathon – and set a 3:11 min PR with a time of 3:12:04. I have an entire post that I will share when I get a chance to edit it – it highlights the last few months of training that got me to Wineglass in the best shape of my life. I wrote it during taper as a way for me to look back on training as Coach and I were going over race plans and time goals. But, I decided to hold off on sharing it until post-marathon.

              I am thrilled with another PR – my 2nd big PR in as many attempts this year. Six months ago, my PR was 3:21:32. It is now 3:12:04. I have taken more than 9 minutes off in just over 5 months after years of fighting to break 3:21…and I am now knocking on the sub-3:10 door.

              There is a small part of me that is a bit disappointed that I didn’t walk away with a faster finish time. I had a pretty amazing training cycle this summer – the best training cycle of my life – and the numbers definitely pointed to a sub-3:10.

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                Summer/Fall Racing Plans

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                Hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day!!

                Just a reminder about the THREE giveaways I’m currently hosting!

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                There’s something so exciting about sitting down and mapping out the next few months of racing. It’s filled with endless possibilities and dreams just waiting to be chased.

                Now that Boston is over, I’ve been able to figure out what I want to do for the remainder of 2015. I was on the fence about training for a fall marathon, but I’m still riding the post-race high and have decided to use the momentum and keep plodding ahead.

                May 16: Brooklyn Half Marathon – Pacing my friend, Jen! FINALLY running this race after years and years of signing up and then not running (pregnancy, family party, recovery from marathon)! The plan is to be in charge of time/pace – Jen will just focus on running – I will keep her on track with pace, grab her water and offer any pep talks that she may need – and hopefully not annoy the crap out of her!! Should be a fun way to celebrate her birthday (which was last week!).

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                  Going from 3:21->3:15

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                  As most runners do, I like to go back and take note of things that worked during the previous training cycle as well as highlight some things I plan to improve upon or change. For this post, I am focusing on things I changed which seemed to work – and which ultimately helped me run my strongest and most-consistent marathon to date.

                  (Note: Even though my PR went from 3:21 to 3:15, the PR was from a few years of training so some of these changes were over a period of time.)

                  Garmin-free as much as possible. This may not work for a lot of runners – but for me, it worked wonders. My problem has always been that I push TOO HARD when I should be taking it easy. Almost every single easy or recovery run this cycle were done sans GPS (unless I was on treadmill). This allowed me to honor the true purpose of “easy” days. Easy-paced days should be just that – easy. Pace is secondary to effort. And so in order to focus on effort and not get distracted by pace, I left the watch at home and either ran routes where I was familiar wih mileage or ran for a set amount of time and ballparked the distance. These runs quickly changed from my least favorite runs of the week to my favorite. It was a time for me to zone out, enjoy the sunrises and let my body actively recover from the stress days. Slowing down the long run. I look back at previous training cycles and can’t help but raise my eyebrows at my long runs. Similar to going garmin-free, I believe I was pushing too hard on a weekly basis and exhausting myself too often. This cycle, I focused on going easier on long runs and saving the faster paces for those long runs that required it (long run tempos). Winter running made this much easier – I kept my garmin under my jacket and would only feel the vibration of the miles – but I ran in blissful ignorance regarding the pace. Most runs were between 7:50-8:10 – which was well within the range my coach had given me (and almost all were progression runs). More strength and core work. I touched on this a few times this training cycle. One of my goals for 2015 was to do more strength work and I think I have succeeded so far. Most weeks I got in 2x 30-35 min strength workouts and 2-3x 20+ min core workouts. Some weeks maybe a bit more, other weeks a bit less. And I whole-heartedly believe that they paid off heavily last Monday.  Long Runs outside. Again, I covered this at the start of the year. My 2nd goal was to run outside as much as possible regardless of weather. I race on the roads, so I wanted to train on the roads. With the exception of one long run (plan called for a long tempo – it was 10 degrees out and I wanted to focus on hitting specific paces), every single long run was outside. Incline on treadmill – 1%. My husband did a lot of traveling this cycle and so a good amount of my running was on the treadmill. I talked about increasing the incline from .5% to 1% in this post – and I really believe this helped – if for nothing else, than because it more accurately gave me and my coach an idea of my fitness. And for easy/recovery runs, I played around with incline – from 1%-3.5% – simulating rolling hills as often as I could. Less=more (esp during taper and race week). I think in previous training cycles, I felt SO tied to a training plan that I missed cues my body were giving me. I HAD to run those 5 miles. Or hit the higher end if my coach gave me a range. I couldn’t take a day off. I haven’t talked much about the weeks leading up to the race, but I ended up taking a few extra days off, especially during the last 10 days of taper. Some days I physically was not feeling it, other days, I was mentally not up to it. Missing a few miles during race week will not affect race performance (especially when you are still moving around throughout the day). In my opinion, it’s far better to be rested than pushing yourself just to run those extra few miles.

                • Increase meat/eggs, decrease processed foods. I talked about some of the changes we made with our diets here. My husband and I made a conscious effort to minimize the amount of processed food we consume as a household and instead eat more fresh veggies, fruit and meat (mostly beef and chicken). While basic, dinners most nights were bbq or baked chicken, sweet potatoes and a salad packed with veggies.
                • Mental Training. I think you’ve me babble on enough about this already. But something clicked during Boston when things started to get tough. The negative thoughts didn’t affect my running. I acknowledged the doubts in my mind and the pain in my body and then moved on.
                • Coaching. One of the best decisions I made last year was working with Coach Hadley. I began following his plan after the NJ Marathon last spring. I have three new PRs under him (mile, 5k, marathon) and believe in my heart that I would have set PRs in 10k and/or half marathon if I had raced them this spring as well. Coach Hadley’s race strategy for Boston got me this PR. After working together for 6-8 months, he understood my racing and pacing strengths and weaknesses and tailored a plan for ME (he gave me a pretty wide range of paces from start to finish – much wider than he normally gives).
                • Smarter Pacing for Races: I had about 2:45 (first half 1:36:33, second half 1:38:42) positive split for Boston – and considering the hills and wind, I could not have hoped for a more consistent race. Regardless of what shape you are in, if you don’t have a smart pacing strategy, especially for Boston, you are setting yourself up for failure. I went out slower than I have in any of my recent marathons and was able to maintain that pace through the finish.
                • Have you made any changes in training that helped you run a PR?

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                    26Strong: Looking for a Female Wannabe Marathoner!!

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                    If you’ve been reading here for a bit, you may remember that I participated in the 2013 Saucony 26 Strong Campaign. I had a blast – and especially loved mentoring and coaching my “cadet”, Hallie, as she trained for her first marathon.

                    I was fortunate enough to be asked to participate in the 2014 Saucony 26 Strong Campaign last year and got to share the journey with my youngest sister, Nicole. Saucony sent us to Hawaii to run the Honolulu Marathon and it was truly an experience of a lifetime! Running 26.2 miles by her side and being with her as she crossed her first finish line was so incredibly special.

                    I’m SO SO excited to share that I have been asked to participate in Saucony’s 26 Strong program again!! This year, Saucony and Competitor are once again putting together a team of 13 “veteran” marathoners and 13 “cadets”. But this time, the goal race is the 2015 Chicago Marathon!

                    SO, that’s where you come in. I am looking for a wannabe marathoner to run side-by-side with me for the 2015 Chicago Marathon!!!! I will run your pace, grab your water, hold your gels, be your cheerleader and support you as much as I can as we cross the finish line together (and promise to not annoy you too much throughout it all!).

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                      3:15 -> Long Time Coming!!

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                      So thankful that I saw Pavey at the finish – and will be forever grateful he captured a special moment for me!

                      I will write a full recap (or two) later this week but wanted to pop in and give a quick update on the 2015 Boston Marathon.

                      I am on cloud nine. The race could not have gone any better for me – fueling before and during was better than it’s ever been, I ran 100% by feel (I saw total time on my watch and only received the mile split notifications), Heartbreak did NOT break me, I ENJOYED every single mile, I high-fived the amazing spectators from the start until the finish and most importantly, did not let fear, doubt or pain get in the way of the race I knew I could run.

                      The weather was less than ideal but not as bad as I was expecting based on some of the forecasts I had seen.  The rain wasn’t a factor for me – I don’t even remember it coming down for most of the race (I think having some long runs in the rain and snow helped). The wind was there and you could definitely sense it slowing you down a bit (especially when the wind gusts came) but it seemed more of a crosswind for the first 20 or so miles (the wind was coming from the east and we run northeast for most of first part of race). The last 4-5 miles was when I really begin to feel the headwind. I tried to duck behind other runners which helped conserve energy and minimize the effects of the wind – but I ended up running more than 26.6 miles as a result of the weaving to try to find runners to shield me. (Note: garmin says 26.41 but I lost satellite going under an overpass the last 1/2 miles).

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                        2015 Boston Marathon -> One Week to Go

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                        A week from today I’ll be running my 11th marathon – the 2015 Boston Marathon. After about 4-5 weeks of subpar runs and workouts, I’m more than thrilled to finally start to feel strong again. Runs are more enjoyable, my stride feels more natural and relaxed and I (finally) had a great workout last week.

                        Workout: 2 mile warmup, 8 mile AT tempo, 2 mile cooldown. Goal pace 6:55-7:05 for 8 miles. I decided to start on the slower end and see how I felt. The week prior’s workout of 4 x 2 didn’t leave me with a lot of confidence since even 7:00 pace felt difficult and uncomfortable.

                        I was on the treadmill for this workout again (husband was away). Incline was at 1% for entire run with occasional jumps (every 6-8 minutes) to 2% for 30 seconds at a time.

                        Splits: 7:08, 7:03, 6:58, 6:58, 6:55, 6:53, 6:48, 6:35. Average pace of 6:55. 

                        The run was definitely not easy but I hit the paces and felt stronger as the workout went on. So that’s a victory in my book.

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                          Mentally Training for Boston

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                          (Some of the below was part of a post I wrote for Women’s Running)

                          If you have been following me on social media or reading here for a bit, you probably know that I am not the strongest racer. It’s been a frustrating couple of years for me. I have these strong, successful training cycles (and yes, they ARE successful cycles even if I didn’t reach my goal on race day). I work my butt off during the cycle, but there was always something missing as each race began— and as a result, I came up well short of my goal.

                          The mental strength was missing. I had spent months strengthening my body— nailing workouts, completing long runs. But I paid zero attention to the mental side of running. As a result, I was not prepared to quiet the negative thoughts when they started creeping in during the later miles of the marathons. My mind would quit long before my body was ready to. Once the mind gives up, the body doesn’t stand a chance.

                          Learn to use your mind or your mind will use you. Actions follow our thoughts and images. Don’t look where you don’t want to go. – Gary Mack

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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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                                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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                                  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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                                    Staten Island Advance News + Race Week Checklist

                                    Wearing my sparkly soul headband at the 2011 NYC Marathon!
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                                    I’m really excited to share that I have teamed up with my hometown newspaper, the Staten Island Advance, to talk about all things related to the NYC Marathon. I’ll be writing a few posts/articles that will be shared here, on their website and in print a few times over the next 10 days.

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                                    Race day is just 9 days away…which means we are about to enter race week. It’s that time in training when you are running less miles than you have the last 12-18 weeks. Race week is always filled with a lot of free time. And if you are like me, the decrease in running and increase in extra time goes hand-in-hand with elevated stress levels and thinking about next Sunday.

                                    But rather than sit around and stress about race day, I try to plan ahead and ensure that everything is ready for the days and hours leading up to the race. Having a detailed checklist keeps me on track and focused and makes race week feel less stressful.

                                    Below is what goes on my list:

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                                      NYC Marathon Hydration Tips

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                                      The start of the 2011 NYC Marathon

                                      The start of the 2011 NYC Marathon

                                      The NYC Marathon is rapidly approaching – can you believe we are down to single digits already?

                                      I’m incredibly excited to be running the NYC Marathon for the 3rd time this year. There’s something so special about running through the streets of my hometown, having family and friends scattered throughout the course and finishing up in Central Park, the place I ran every day while I lived in the city.

                                      As the Official Bottled Water of the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon, this fall, Poland Spring® brand 100% natural spring water kicked off their “Poland Spring Cheers” campaign in an effort to thank the millions of New Yorkers who helped make local spring water from Maine the #1 beverage brand in New York City.

                                      I’ve partnered up with Poland Springs to share some of my hydration tips for the days leading up to a marathon.

                                      1. Keep water with you. I do this on a regular basis but I pay even more attention to it during race week. I always have a bottle of water with me regardless of where I’m going or how long I will be gone – places like the store, the marathon expo or commuting to work can take a lot more time than you anticipate. Keep it close by and have a few sips a couple of times an hour.

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                                        Marathon Madness + Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge (again!)

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                                        I realized last week that I am running three marathons in the next 8 weeks. I mean, I’ve known that I was running these three for a few weeks now, but I never sat down and thought about running THREE. It both excites and frightens me. I’ve run back-to-back-to-back marathons (+) once before – three years ago – when I was training for my first ultra and really enjoyed the experience.

                                        But, I am not racing all three marathons – there’s no way I could do this physically nor would it be smart to try to ask that much of my body. Below outlines the timing and purpose of each:

                                        – NYC Marathon – Nov 2 (12 days): I mentioned on social media already that I am running the NYC Marathon for a 3rd time this year. This was a late addition to my calendar – but a no brainer and honestly, trumps my own goal race two weeks later. I am honored for the opportunity to guide my good friend, John, for the race. John is participating in the Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge and is representing Staten Island – just like I did three years ago. (Side Note: If you have the chance to apply for the FL5BC next year, don’t hesitate – it was the most amazing experience of my running career.)  And I get the opportunity to experience it all again this year – but only better because I’ll be guiding John!

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