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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    2016 NYC Marathon Race Recap

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    Smiling before climbing the last big hill of the race – Mile 24

    Some people know the moment they begin a race that it’s going to be their day. Sunday was not that way for me. Don’t get me wrong – I felt good for most of the first 18-20 miles. BUT, I’ve run NYC three times before. I know how tough the late hills can be. How much the early hills beat up your legs and leave you exhausted by the end. And I was exhausted. The last 4-5 miles were plain torture. Every part of my body hurting. But that’s why we do those hard runs in training. To keep pushing. I refused to let my mind celebrate or even consider what could happen until all of the hills were behind me and I was in the Park and a mile or so from the finish.

    It has been a year since I was able to truly race a marathon from start to finish (Boston was supposed to be that way but after stopping at mile 15/16 in the med tent, the “race” was over – it became more of a run to the finish). And the truth is, your mind forgets the amount of pain that your body experiences during the later miles. At least mine does. You know there will be pain but it’s hard to explain or recall the true level of pain you feel when you are 22 miles in. Legs screaming. Feet on fire. Calves hurting. You just want to stop running and sit down. But you know you need to continue to push.

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      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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        Race Recap: 2016 Air France 8k: PR + Age Group Win!

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        This recap is a bit delayed…my blogging always goes hand in hand with how busy I am at work and with life! It’s been a great, but busy couple of weeks, and so finding the time to write about this race was at the bottom of the priority list!

        Last Sunday was the Air France Run in Central Park organized by NYRR. In an effort to get out of my comfort zone and race shorter distances more often, I signed up for the 8k several weeks ago – knowing full well that the 5 mile course included all the lovely hills of Central Park. And by “lovely”, I mean “why do I do this to myself?”. By mile 3, I was cursing my decision and swearing off short races in Central Park once again. It’s hard enough to race hard for 5 miles. When you throw in the Harlem hills, it becomes a major sufferfest.

        When I lived in the city, I ran in Central Park almost every day. Shorts runs, long runs, speed workouts. Those hills were part of my routine. As much as I try to run hills these days, I’m limited. The route that is safest for me to run is rolling – but nothing like the hills in the park. The hills I would love to run daily are part of a stretch of road that is more desolate – no homes and the woods on both sides. So I won’t venture there until it’s getting light out – which means no time to run them in the AM. Now that I’m so removed from the park, I am reminded each time I race there that it’s no joke.

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          2016 Brooklyn Mile Race Recap

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          I stumbled upon the inaugural Brooklyn Mile several weeks ago when I was searching for some shorter races to run before fall creeps in and knew that I wanted to run it. It sounded awesome – fairly local (about 45 min away), a good course and the option for my kids to run in a separate heat (if they wanted to).

          I brought it up to my husband and boys soon after – and both boys were pumped at the idea of their own special race. Kids are pretty funny – my oldest asked me how long it was. I told them it was a little longer than the race they did in Alaska but much, much shorter than the 5k my oldest and I did together in June. His response – “Oh that’s good. Because that was so hard, Mommy.” #motheroftheyear

          I finally got around to registering for the race last week and was stunned and honored when I received the email inviting me to the elite field. Local runners know just how many elite and professional runners are in the area – there are so many big named track clubs in/around NYC and I knew these ladies would be out in force for this race.

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            Race Recap: 2016 Willow 4 miler + Winning my First Race!

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            Years and years ago when I lived in Texas, I won a couple of trail races. My husband and I did a 10 mile in Waco and half marathon trail race around Dallas and I was the overall female winner of both. But since moving back east, I haven’t really won any races – even some of the small, local ones, despite my being fitter and faster than I was back then.

            I’ve also never flat out won a race before (overall male and female). Until this past 4th of July.

            But let me be completely honest here. It was a small race. Super duper small. Like <50 runners, small. I knew I had a good chance of being the overall female winner but winning the race, outright, was a nice surprise.

            We learned about this race from my sister-in-law. She mentioned the kids 1k race and I then saw that there was also a 4 mile race.

            Initially, I planned on doing a long run on Friday or Saturday and then racing/running as hard as I could on tired legs on Monday. But, running in the days leading up to the race was a bust – Friday was a very late afternoon run so I didn’t start Saturday’s run until later in the day. I felt like garbage from the moment I woke up and then long run only lasted 1.5 miles (I called my husband to come get me b/c I didn’t even feel like I wanted to run back to the house). I decided to make Sunday a forced rest day. I felt a bit under the weather and didn’t see the need or have the desire to push myself. A. I’m on vacation. B. I’m not training for anything at the moment. So sleep, family time and wine won out over a long run.

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              My Son’s First 5k + Age and Distance for Kids?

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              On Sunday, my five year old ran his first race – the Staten Island Father’s Day 5k. I honestly had no intention of him or me running this race. Just recently, he has shown an interest in running – and we’ve begun doing some short runs together here and there when he’s up for it or asks me. Most runs are anywhere from 1-2 miles with some short walk breaks in the middle.

              The Father’s Day 5k race has become one of my favorite local races. It’s as local as you can get. We live less than a block from the main road on Staten Island – and the race is an out and back on that main road with the start/finish being one block away from our house (inside an area called Mt. Loretto). It’s that close. It’s well organized, a fun, but challenging route and the logistics make it just too easy to pass up.

              I had casually asked him earlier in the week if he wanted to do the race with me but he said he wanted to next year when he was older. So I left it at that. I won’t push either of my boys into anything that they don’t 100% want to do.

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                2016 Memorial Day 4 Miler

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                Snuggles with my adorable 4.5 month old nephew!

                Happy Tuesday, friends! I hope you all had a wonderful long weekend.

                As my husband and I were getting ready for bed last night, we kind of looked around the house and realized we didn’t really get anything we had planned to get done this weekend. I worked from home on Friday and then we had the long weekend – we had intentions to do massive cleaning – both inside and outside the home, go through toys in the playroom, get caught up with laundry (and folding). And very little of that got done.

                Instead, the weekend was filled with lots and lots of family time. We spent 8+ hours over my sister’s home in NJ on Saturday, 3 hours mid-day with my sister and her family on Sunday, several hours with them again Sunday evening, and then 5 hours with my entire family on Monday over my other sister’s home.

                Below are just a few snapshots of the time together:

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                After a decent speed session last week (and my first since Boston), I decided to run in Monday’s Memorial Day 4 miler. I knew it wasn’t going to be the time I had initially hoped for, but wanted to run hard and at least get an idea of where I am right now. However, coach and I agreed to not taper at all for this race – so I ran Wednesday – Sunday, including speed on Thursday and 10 miles (currently my “long” run) on Saturday. I knew my legs would be a bit fatigued but it wasn’t a goal race and my focus for the time being is just getting back into a good routine of weekly mileage.

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                  2016 Boston Marathon Recap!

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                  I don’t post here every day but I share my running and other daily happenings on instagram!

                  I have so much to say about the entire weekend, but will try to focus just on the race here and save the rest of the weekend for another post!

                  Nutrition
                  My nutrition stayed the same for most of the week. I tried to not deviate too much from it – so I ate the same, had popcorn and wine at night and snacked like I normally do – when I felt like it.

                  I started increasing carbs Friday night – pasta and a baked potato and then over Saturday and Sunday increased it a bit more (bagels as snacks, pasta for dinner Sunday evening, etc).

                  I also took more rest days this week than I ever have before. I talked about how I felt off in my last post – and so I tried to take as much time off and focus on sleep and nutrition so that I could feel good on race day.

                  But I think the increase in carbs coupled with the decrease in running made me feel really tired and lethargic as the weekend went on. I had spent 4 months of running almost every day – and I think going from that to virtually no running for 8 days was not the best decision. I’ve already made a mental note to not do either as much as I did this cycle.

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                    2016 Boston Marathon: Celebrating a Breakthrough Cycle

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                    Monday was my third Boston and the 14th marathon finish line I’ve crossed. It was the most prepared and in shape I have ever been before even though the results don’t necessarily show that.

                    I finished in 3:25:53. I positive split like a champ. 1:33:17 through the half. And 1:52:xx the 2nd half.

                    Of course I am disappointed. I didn’t bust my butt for months to run 13+ min slower than I did in the fall. But, some days, you’ve got it. And some days you don’t. And there’s no way to plan it so that you race on the days you have it.

                    But like I have said the last few weeks – this training cycle was a huge success – regardless of what the finish line clock says when I cross it – and I still believe that to be true. It was truly a breakthrough cycle for me and I’m grateful and excited for what I was able to do the last few months. And regardless of anything else, it’s a pretty darn good day when I can finish a marathon!

                    I plan to do a full recap later this week. My husband, mom and I returned home almost immediately after the race (I went back to hotel, took a bath and then we were on the road by 3:15pm). I took off on Tuesday but I stayed off my computer and social media and spent the day with my little guys – lunch, Barnes & Noble, basketball and soccer in yard and then dinner. So no time has been spent writing down my thoughts yet.

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                      2016 NYC Half Marathon Race Recap: 1:28:10

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                      Sunday’s race was truly one of the best racing experiences of my life. Of course a part of that is obviously because I PR’d (and set unofficial PRs in the 10k, 15k and 10 miles enroute). But a large part of it is because I followed the race plan and was able to negative split – for the first time ever! I was patient in the beginning of the race and then still had energy to fight hard the last few miles.

                      THESE are the races you dream of having. Not the ones where it feels like a death march the last few miles. But instead, where you are tired but still have that little bit of fight left. That last gear that you’ve been saving to shift to when it’s the right moment.

                      For me, that is the definition of a successful race. Paces won’t always be there. You can’t control weather. But having the strength (mentally) to keep fighting and pushing when you are getting tired is the way I dream about racing.

                      Race Morning
                      Sunday started off at 4am for my husband and I. He and the boys were dropping me off at the start and then after breakfast would be at the finish! The NYC Half is a point to point race – starting in Central Park and then after a loop, heading south through Times Square then over to the West Side Highway all the way to downtown NYC.

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                        2016 Forest Avenue Mile -> 14 Sec PR!

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                        Last year was my first time racing (or even running) the Forest Avenue Mile. It’s a local one-mile race that takes place immediately before the Staten Island St. Patrick’s Day parade – a hugely popular parade the runs along Forest Avenue in Staten Island and attracts 50,000 spectators each year.

                        I ran a 5:42 last year in less-than-ideal racing weather. Headwind and almost-blizzard like conditions – but it was an automatic PR since it was the first time I had ever truly raced a mile.

                        Initially, we had planned on doing a long run this week – likely Thursday – and then a quick recovery in time for Sunday. But, after a successful cycle so far, coach and I decided to skip the long run and use this as a cut-back week in mileage. I had a 3×3 killer workout on the schedule anyway, so we upped the warmup and cooldown a bit to make it a touch longer in lieu of a long run.

                        I can’t predict the future, but I feel like this was the best decision we could have made. I didn’t need a cutback week (yet) BUT it’s a good way to stay ahead of peaking too soon or overtraining. I still have 6 weeks until Boston, so plenty of time to make some more gains in fitness before race day.

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                          2015 NYC Trail Festival 25k

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                          For weeks, I envisioned myself setting a 5k PR this past weekend. I had found a great, flat 5k course relatively close to my home and with a few 4 and 5 mile tempo runs (during Wineglass training) that were pretty close to my 5k pace (~12 seconds/mile), felt that with the shorter distance, fresh legs and flat course, a 5k PR was well within grasp.

                          But a couple of weeks ago, the desire to race a 5k started to disappear. The logistics of the race were not as easy as I had anticipated plus I realized it fell on the same weekend as the NYC Trail Festival, a local trail race that I participated in four years ago. I LOVED the race, course and entire experience when I ran it in 2011 – and each year, keep it as a possibility on my race/training calendar. Two years ago, I was making a silly attempt at a marathon PR (in Rehoboth) the same weekend. Last year, my husband and I planned to run the 25k together, but the forecast called for rain the day before and on race day – and since neither of us spend a lot of time on the trails, we were both worried about the slippery leaves and the likely chance of an injury for one or both of us.

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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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                                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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                                  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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                                    More Recovery + Serendipitous Boston Weekend

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                                    I think the tendency is to not talk much about recovery because let’s face it, it’s not too exciting. But a good recovery can set you up for a strong and successful training cycle. And a shortened or ignored recovery period can derail your next training cycle – or even worse – cause injuries.

                                    Boston was 15 days ago. My longest run since Boston has been 8 miles. I’ve run a whooping 40 miles in 14 days. 9 miles the first week. 31 miles last week. And probably 40-45 miles this week. Almost all garmin-free. All easy effort. And all honoring the purpose of the recovery.

                                    I’m darn proud of these miles (or lack there of). After hating me for the better part of the week post-Boston, my body is happy again. I feel rested, recovered (almost) and excited to jump back into training (but not quite yet – still have another week of easy running). If all goes well, my long run this weekend will be double digits – maybe 10-12 miles. Speedwork is tomorrow – it’s 10 x 1 min just to get my legs moving again. But nothing too hard or taxing because my body is still in the recovery stage.

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                                      Boston Marathon Weekend in Photos

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                                      Saturday and Sunday’s weather was perfect – blue skies for days!

                                      This will be the last post (for the time being!) about Boston. I took SO many photos over the weekend – some I shared on the Women’s Running Instagram account, some on mine and some I just didn’t have the opportunity to share with all the craziness of the weekend and post-race!

                                      I never do photo posts – but figured it would be really cool in this instance! SO, here are all the sights that I thought were worth sharing this weekend – with just a caption (or none!) for each!

                                      Hope you had a wonderful weekend – the weather was PERFECT in the Northeast!

                                      For More NYC Running Mama training updates, pictures and ramblings, check out:

                                        2015 Boston Marathon – All the Other Special Moments

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                                        Up until about 4 weeks ago, I wasn’t 100% sure that the Boston Marathon would even happen. I didn’t have a hotel yet and knew that I couldn’t afford or justify a couple of nights in Boston in a hotel by myself (hotels are super expensive that weekend). I happened to catch something that Kris tweeted and decided to take a chance and message her to see if she would be interested in sharing a room. It sounds SO strange because up until this weekend – we had not met in person. But I’ve been following her on social media for over three years and knew other female runners who were friends with her…so it was worth a shot.

                                        Rooming with Kris set the tone of the entire weekend. From the moment we met in the expo, I felt like we had been friends for years. I spent a lot of the weekend asking her endless questions about anything and everything even remotely related to running – her diet, her strength routine, what she eats on race morning and during the race and so on. But we also spent countless hours just chatting about everything NOT related to running – family, background, future plans.

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