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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    Why Your 1st Mile is the Most Important

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

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    For years, I thought that the most important mile of each run and race was the last one. That’s the true sign of how the run went, right? If you finish fast and strong – and most importantly, feeling good – it’s likely you will put that effort into the “good run” category, regardless of how much of the run went well up until that point. But if you are hurting, slowing down or are counting the seconds until the run is over, it’s likely going to be a run you soon hope to forget.

    It’s easy to judge an entire run by that last mile. But I’d argue that it’s not the most important mile.

    These days, I put a whole lot more focus and effort into the first mile. Run that first mile too fast (which is SO easy to do, especially in a race environment) and the rest of the run could end up being pure torture.

    For everyday training runs, that first mile is my warmup. I aim for it to be my slowest mile of the day. It’s a mile where I let my joints shake out any lingering aches or stiffness, where my heart gets alerted that it’s about to do some work and where I give my body the time it needs to get adequately warmed up.

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      Falmouth Race Recap

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

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

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

      Race Morning

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

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

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        Anthony’s Run 5k Race Recap

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        Yesterday was my first 5k. Technically, it wasn’t my first – I ran one with the double stroller last summer and one two weekends ago with my niece. But it was the first I would be racing against myself.

        I woke up at 630am on Sunday when my oldest woke up – had some coffee, stretched a bit (my legs felt tight from all the “beach” volleyball we had played the day prior at our Father’s Day party) and tried to keep my feet up until it was time to get ready. I was unsure about how to fuel for the race and decided to base it on how I felt race morning. I am never hungry first thing in the AM – and I never eat before my morning runs. But, we were starting at 10am and I would be up for over 3 hours – so I definitely needed some calories. At 9:15am, I had 1/2 banana and a few spoonfuls of peanut butter and felt good. I didn’t want to eat too much and have stomach pains or other issues during the race, so I figured lighter options were probably best.

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          2014 New Jersey Marathon Recap

          The pain that is Mile 26 of  a marathon

          Sunday was a great day – and so close to being perfect (had I run just 27 seconds faster, I’d have a shiny new PR…so close, yet so far!). It was great for so many reasons – I ran smart. I didn’t bonk(!!).  I walked away with lessons learned, things to maintain and a couple of things to work on. And most importantly, I had fun.

          The more I race, the more I understand that a great race doesn’t always mean the fastest time on the clock. It’s about looking back on the race with ZERO regrets or saying I should have or could have done this. This was one of those races for me – something I haven’t experienced in the marathon since 2011. It gave me back confidence about myself, my ability to pace properly, to push hard when things got hard and to not give up.

          Race Week

          Before I get into the details of the race, I want to share some of what went on in the days leading up to the marathon. I did several things differently and plan to continue these for the next goal race:

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            NJ Marathon Info!

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            Hey everyone!! I have SO much to share with you regarding my week in Atlanta with Mizuno.

            We are on our way home after a fun, exciting week but my mind is focused on one thing – the NJ Marathon on Sunday.  After months and months of planning, training, and imagining this race, it is finally here!

            First, the race details.

            • Date: Sunday, May 5th
            • Start time: 8am
            • Route:  It’s a mix between out and back and a loop.  The race starts by Monmouth Race track, heads north for a bit, over to the coastline by mile 10, then south for 8 miles with the turnaround just after mile 18 and heads back north for the final 8 miles.  

            • Elevation: Virtually pancake flat (after my last few races have been in Central Park, this makes me VERY happy!)

            The weather forecast looks almost too good to be true.  I’m still not celebrating because I know it can still change.  But right now, race day weather looks to be cool (~45-50 at race start), calm, and sunny.  One of my biggest worries leading up to this race has been the wind.  Before moving last summer, we had lived less than a mile from the SI boardwalk, so almost all of my runs would take place right on the coastline.  Most early mornings were calm, but the wind would often pick up (>15-20 mph winds) by mid-morning.  So far, race morning looks like it will have very little wind (~ 5 mph winds).

            For everyone that has asked…if you want to track me, here is the link to sign up to receive alerts (you can get text, email, twitter updates).  My bib is #1023 in case you need it. There’s a part of me that is excited to know that all of my friends will be able to track me on Sunday, but a large part of me is starting to freak out about it. HA. 

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              Marathon Goal Pace Running

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              I’ve been doing my long runs on Fridays for most of this training cycle, but I rearranged the days last week because my husband and I had a black tie work function to attend Thursday evening.

              It was held at the Waldorf Astoria.

              First time I’ve actually ever been inside.  The ballroom was GORGEOUS:

              It was SO nice to get dressed up and spend a few hours together away from the kids.  My wonderful mom babysat our two boys for the evening!

              I knew that I would want to have a few drinks and would not be able to get up at 4am for a long run after getting home after 11pm.  And, more importantly, I knew my calves would be screaming after wearing these bad boys for 5 hours:

              I love heels but I feel like the older I get, the more they disagree with my feet.

              So, long run was Thursday morning. Had to be finished by 745 so that my husband could leave for work on time.  Up at 415am. On the treadmill by 515am.  It’s early but truth be told, I like doing it early so that I’m done for the day before 8.

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                Garmin Forerunner 10 Review + GIVEAWAY

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                I am a Garmin lover.  I purchased my first Garmin in 2002 when I ran my first marathon.  I have no idea what model it was – all I remember is that it was huge and covered half of my wrist!  My second was a Christmas gift from my sisters before I deployed to Iraq in November 2007.  After a few wonderful years with the Garmin, I decided to upgrade in August 2012.  The Forerunner 610 had recently been released and I decided to spend the extra money and get the newest model.

                The Forerunner 610 was on my wrist for my first ultra, when I won the Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge, during many of my runs during my 2nd pregnancy, and on all my outdoor runs postpartum…I love everything about it – the touchscreen, all of the cool features, the ability to customize what information is shown on each screen (up to 4 data fields at once!) to name a few.

                I’m often asked which watch I would recommend for a runner’s first GPS.  I love the 610.  But to be totally honest, there are a lot of functions that are probably not necessary for a casual or beginning runner – I don’t even use all of the features the Forerunner is equipped with.  When I head out on a run, I am really only concerned about pace, time and distance.  And up until recently, Garmin hadn’t created a basic, entry-level GPS – all of the models came with functions and capabilities that a new runner (or a veteran runner that wanted basic functions of a GPS) didn’t need or want.

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                  NYC Half Race Recap

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                  I am still smiling from the 2013 NYC Half.  I don’t think I have EVER run such a steady, smart, even-paced race in my life.

                  It was a frigid morning.  Temps were hovering around 30 at race start, but with the windchill, it felt like about 20 degrees.  I wasn’t concerned with anything except my hands.  My body warms up within 5 minutes of running but my hands never seem to warm up.  On long runs, I often opt for mittens but I wanted to have better use of my hands for water and fueling.

                  Like I said yesterday, I didn’t get a chance to do the warm-up I wanted and was worried that the 1/4 mile I jogged from the interview location to the start corral would not be enough of a warm-up for me.  I was also concerned with how long I (we) would have to wait in the corrals not moving (about 30 minutes).

                  This post is pretty long…I tried to cut it down but there was just too much going on in my head during those 13.32 miles.

                  *The splits below are based on my Garmin.  I ran a bit longer than the 13.1 miles so my pace is faster than my finish time suggests (more on this later!)

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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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                      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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                        Redecorating + Steady State Running

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                        I thought it would be fun to share some pictures of our house now that it’s freshly painted and most of the moulding and other upgrades are finished.  Technically our home is considered a rebuild, however, it’s really a new home.  The previous owners left only one wall standing and rebuilt the entire house (and didn’t live in it after they built it).  While many things were finished and in perfect condition, there were many things left for us to finish when we bought the home – there were no light fixtures, window dressings, fixtures (knobs, bathroom lights, mirrors, etc) , or backsplash, the fireplace was unfinished, and the whole house was painted one color. Don’t get me wrong – we LOVE the house and everything about it – but it ended up taking us much longer (and much more $) than we had planned so we had to hold off on doing some things (like paint) until we had the money.

                        I’ll give you the first floor update in a future post.

                        Entry – stairs were just refinished and hallway/entry painted:

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                          Am I Holding Myself Back?

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                          Erin O had a question from the previous post (Cold Weather Running).  Does anyone have an answer for her? =)

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                          I have a goal pace (GP) that I try to stick to for all of my long runs.  These  GPs change week to week based on how I felt the week prior as well as what McMillan’s calculator says I should be running. I aim for my first 2-3 miles to be a bit slower than that pace, the last 1-2 to be faster…and all the others to be in that range.  

                          My first few long runs after my son was born was in the 8:20-8:30 range.  Since then, I’ve been trying to stay around 8:10-8:15.  I’m back up to distances that I haven’t hit since before I was pregnant (Jan 2012) so I’ve tried really hard to be cautious about not expecting too much and running a smart long run (for me that means not starting too fast).  

                          I ran 16 miles this past Saturday.  My goal was to average somewhere between 8:10.  First four miles were right where I wanted them to be:

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                            The Long Road Ahead

                            Approaching finish line of Boston Marathon

                            This past weekend was my first post-baby race.  As I already stated, it wasn’t an all-out race for me – but truth be told, I did push myself.  My lungs were burning and legs were hurting at various points during the 6.2 miles.

                            My pace for those short miles was slower than the pace I’ve run marathons in.

                            I’m certainly not complaining about where I am at physically right now.  At 5 weeks postpartum  I know that I am blessed to have had a fairly uncomplicated pregnancy (with the exception of gestational diabetes and posterior pelvic pain) and an easy labor and delivery.  Both of those allowed me to return to running very soon after my son was born and I know a lot of females are not as lucky.

                            But it’s been extremely humbling so far.  My body seems to have forgotten what certain paces feel like.  I’m a big fan of not running with a Garmin all the time and have gotten pretty good with judging my pace based on perceived effort.  But right now, I have no clue what pace my body is moving at. I think (and feel like) I’m running a certain pace and then I look down at my Garmin (or treadmill screen) and see a totally different number – typically about a minute slower than I think I’m running.

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                              How to Become a Better Runner

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                              Source

                              It’s a known fact that you can often become a better runner by increasing your mileage and incorporating speed, tempo, and long runs into your training.

                              But, perhaps the best way to become a better runner is simply by learning.  Learning from your own experiences in races and training as well as from friends and acquaintances who run.  And I always find that I learn MORE from the mistakes I have made.  Yes, it sucks to make mistakes (especially during races). Often they result in poor times, a painful end to the race, and the sadness of not performing well.

                              After running for over 10 years, I still consider myself a student of the sport.  I’m constantly learning.  I learn from mistakes I’ve made, success I have had, published articles, and successful runners’ blogs.

                              Yesterday’s run is a great example of learning from a past mistake. My plan was to run 10 miles at Marathon Pace (MP).  (Note: My goal is to start incorporating 6-10 miles at MP during my long runs.  I wanted to practice running at this pace for an extended period of time before I include it in my long runs.)

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