NYC Marathon Training Highlights

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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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      Life Lately, News, Updates and More!

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      I realized the other day that I started blogging five years ago. Holy cow…that’s a long time. I also realized that I haven’t blogged in two months – the longest I have gone during my five years of oversharing (ha!).

      The truth is, the lack of blogging wasn’t initially an intentional action. It first started simply b/c I didn’t have time to write some updates or share some of the recent races I had run. The summer was hectic and the start of fall proved to be even more so. The boys started school (both full-time) which initially seemed like it would make life easier, but that’s not the case. Our sitter got a full-time job and so between my husband and I we are juggling full-time work with dropoffs, pickups, homework and all the after-school activities they participate in (note: my mom and dad help out a ton as well!). They both have soccer clinic on Saturday mornings. AJ has baseball 2-3x/week and soccer (on his school’s team) 2x/week. Basically every day includes some sort of post-school activity. Between their activities, schoolwork, house work (we do not have a cleaning woman so all the heavy cleaning, laundry, etc is done on the weekends), running and just living, blogging moved from the “have to” list to the “nice to do” list and eventually to the “not necessary” list.

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        Racing This Weekend + Garmin Instagram Takeover!!

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        The last three weeks have been the best running in months. I’ve had three consecutive 50+ mile weeks – all with some speedwork and some long runs – and I feel great. I’m starting to get that burning in my belly to start training hard again. More on that soon!

        I have some really fun short races coming up! This weekend is the Brooklyn Mile and I’m both excited and terrified! LOL. It’s the inaugural year for what promises to be an awesome race.

        I don’t think I’m going to PR but I’m going to see what I can do. I ran my PR (5:28) this past winter at the Forest Avenue Mile which is a very fast course (granted, weather conditions were not ideal the last two years).

        If you are in the NYC area, you should definitely consider this race – there are 7 waves – first the masters divisions (one for men, one for women), then the open divisions (one for women, one for men), then the elite race (one for women, one for men) and then the Friends and Family Mile.

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          “I’ll Have Another” Podcast with Lindsey Hein!

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          Hello and Happy, Happy Friday!! I’m so pumped for the weekend – especially since it’s supposed to absolutely gorgeous! I’m looking forward to relaxing a ton, some running, pool and sun time and some bbq’ing with my whole family on Sunday to celebrate Father’s Day. If you happen to be one of the 5 (maybe 10? haha) men who read this blog and are a dad (of a human or furry friend!), Happy Father’s Day!!

          I’m super excited to share my interview that I had with my good friend, Lindsey, last weekend! I know I mentioned it here already, but if you are into podcasts, definitely check out Lindsey’s I’ll Have Another podcast. Every single episode I have listened to has been amazing – the interviews feel like a couple of friends are sitting in your living room chatting about running, families, work or whatever other topic it may be.

          Lindsey and I chat about everything from my time at West Point and the Army, being a stay at home mom with the boys, starting this blog (4.5 years ago!), training for an Ironman, returning to work and life/running lately.

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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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                Running By Effort – and Why It’s Working For Me

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

                I shared in my race recap that I ran Sunday mostly by feel – and not by pace. But how do I do this and what does it really mean?

                So, I still race with my Garmin and GPS on – mostly because I want the data post-race but also because it does keep me honest about going out too fast. My Garmin will provide me my mile splits – if I want to see them, I just need to glance down when I feel the vibration. As I’m racing, I can only see the total time I’ve run. (On Sunday, I forgot to do this before the race, but was able to change the view so I only saw the current time.)

                I did this for the first time two years ago for the NJ Marathon. After a series of sub-par marathons, I did some serious self evaluation and came to the conclusion that I was letting the pace dictate the race. Race goals and paces were controlling me during the race. I would spend almost the entire race staring at my watch, obsessing over the pace. I was forcing the pace rather than letting it come naturally. And if/when I started to see the paces slow down, it would psych me out.

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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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                    1:28:10 Half Marathon PR!

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                    I am literally on cloud 9 this morning. Yesterday was one of the most amazing running days of my life. I will go into a full recap later this week, but wanted to pop in and share the good news (in case you don’t feel me on Instagram or Facebook!).

                    I went into the race with a 1:31:57 half marathon PR that was set 2.5 years ago at the 2013 Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia race.

                    I knew that I was more than trained for a PR. A 1:32 is ~7:00 min/mile pace. My long tempos (6-8 milers) have been closer to the 6:50 range – on tired legs – so I knew that if I ran smart, I had a chance to run that pace for 13 miles.

                    Coach’s race plan for me was to start conservatively in the park, pick up the pace through Times Square and West Side Highway and then hang on and finish strong. The course fits very well with the way I’ve been tackling tempos – most of my recent ones (last year or so) have been negative split tempos, so I knew that if I just stayed patient early on through the hills in the Park, it could be a good race.

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                      How to Pick a Goal Marathon

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                      One of the most asked questions I receive via email is what marathon is the best for a first-timer. In my opinion, that is completely up to the individual runner. There are a lot of factors that will go into what makes a race a great race – for you – things like travel, family/friends at event, course, time of year to travel, etc.

                      Deciding to run a marathon is only a small part of the first step. One of the biggest and most important steps is choosing your goal race – which can be pretty overwhelming since the number of marathons grow each year.

                      So how do you go about choosing your goal race? There are a ton of factors that have gone into every marathon I have run. I’ve learned that it’s really hard to find a race that satisfies every single criteria I want. So, the order and importance of these factors typically change cycle to cycle. I’ll start with what is the most important to me for my next race and then begin eliminating from there. There have been instances where I want to pick a good course to chase down a PR (Wineglass) and others where I want the experience of the race (Boston) and other times I want a race close to home (NYC).

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                        Tips for Destination Races

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                        Last year, my sister and I traveld to Hawaii to run the Honolulu Marathon with the other members of the Saucony 26 Strong team. It was an amazing experience filled with good friends, relaxation, SUN and warmth! Even though it wasn’t a goal race for me, I was anxious and nervous about traveling 11+ hours only a day and a half prior to the start of the race. We flew out on a Friday morning, arrived that afternoon (Hawaii time) and ran the 26.2 miles early Sunday morning.

                        Between Hawaii, flying out to Los Angeles (~6 hours) for the LA Marathon two years ago and driving (~5 hours) to the Wineglass Marathon last month, I’ve had some experience with destination racing.

                        Destination races always sound so appealing when you are planning them, but if you are like me, reality sets in as the race approaches about how tough it can be on our bodies. Below are some of the things I did in the days leading up to and during the travel to Hawaii to ensure that I was as fresh and stretched out as possible. Many still apply if you will be traveling by car or other form of transportation.

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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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                            Wear Blue, Memorial 4 miler + Competitor Photo Shoot!!

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                            Shopping and an early dinner!

                            If you are planning on running this weekend, consider participating in the Wear Blue: Run to Remember.

                            wear blue pauses to remember the hundreds of thousands of men and women who have answered the call to defend our country’s freedoms. Our goal is to honor those who have sacrificed their lives by reaching over 10,000 runners in blue.

                            All details can be found here.

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                            This Monday is the Memorial Day 4 miler on Staten Island (I talked about it a couple of weeks ago). I am still hoping to participate in the race but due to some hamstring pain, I’m waiting until after tomorrow’s run to make the call.

                            I woke up Sunday and felt some discomfort in my left hamstring. It wasn’t pain but more of a tight hamstring. My husband and I went on a 5 mile recovery run (my little guys slept over my sister’s home the night prior so we were taking advantage of some child-free time).

                            My hamstring didn’t hurt – but it was still tight and I felt like I was overcompensating with my stride. I stretched and rolled later that night.

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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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                                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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                                  It’s Okay (Women’s Running post)

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                                  Note: This post was originally posted on Women’s Running.

                                  Regardless if it’s your first or fifty-first race, you are probably like me and still get anxious and worried about race day. What if you start too fast? What if you don’t run the time you want? What if you do something wrong or make a running faux-pas?

                                  Take a deep breath and relax. It’s OKAY to do some things, even if they aren’t necessarily the best decisions or if they technically break some of the so-called running commandments. (Who makes these up anyway?) Life and racing is about living and learning, right?

                                  Here are some of the things that (I think!) are OKAY to do on race day:

                                  1. It’s OKAY to cry at the finish. And at multiple points along the course.
                                  2. It’s OKAY to spend way too much money on race photos. I always gasp at the price but if it’s a special race and/or I actually like the way I look running, I splurge and buy them!
                                  3. It’s OKAY to put on some makeup and fix your hair. Because: selfies and #2.
                                  4. It’s OKAY to wear the race shirt even when everyone tells you it’s bad luck. It’s not, trust me.
                                  5. It’s OKAY to get caught up in the race excitement and go out too fast. It will hurt later on in the race but you’ll survive!
                                  6. It’s OKAY to walk. Whether it’s through a water stop, up a hill or for the remainder of the race. Hold your head up high and remember that walking is better than not even trying.
                                  7. It’s OKAY to decide you really want to wear that new skirt on race day. Or shorts. Or shirt. Or all of the above. (It may hurt, there may be some chaffing, but it could be worth it!)
                                  8. It’s OKAY to curse running and your decision to run multiple times throughout the race. But I can almost guarantee that by the time you wake up the next day, you’ll be thinking about the next race.
                                  9. It’s OKAY to get competitive and want to pass that guy or girl in front of you.
                                  10. It’s OKAY to want to run the race for the post-race beer or brunch. I’ve done this and it’s 100% worth it.
                                  11. It’s OKAY to be disappointed about how you ran. But take it from me: there is always another race!.

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                                    2015 Boston Marathon Race Recap

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                                    Until Monday, my PR has been 3:21:22 – for six years. That’s a long time. Especially considering I’ve spent the last two years training for a PR.  Running a PR became my own elusive unicorn – something that until Monday, I wasn’t 100% sure would ever happen based on recent races.

                                    Maybe I just needed to go back to Boston. My two fastest marathons – ever – have been run in Boston. The previous two springs (2013 and 2014) I chose the NJ Marathon over Boston because I was focused on that PR and assumed picking a flat course over the hilly and challenging Boston course would mean an automatic PR for me. But NJ chewed me up and spit me out both years. But not Boston. For whatever reason, I run well in Boston.

                                    Maybe it’s the rolling course and it’s ability for me to break the course up into easily manageable segments.
                                    Maybe it’s the crowd and spectator support (I really feed off the energy).
                                    Maybe it’s because I respect the course so I go out more conservatively than I would for flatter and supposed “easier” marathons.
                                    Maybe I am a better hill climber than I give myself credit for.
                                    Maybe Boston is just my race.

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                                      The Fastest Mile of My Life!

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                                      I went outside my comfort zone yesterday and raced a mile (for the first time ever!). The Forest Avenue Mile (on Staten Island) has been a race that I have planned to run the last few years, but when the time comes, I wimp out or make excuses as to why it’s not the right time (usually because it’s smack dab in the middle of spring marathon training).

                                      My coach and I decided about two months ago that this would be one of the two races I ran prior to Boston Marathon. Period. Boston training has gone really well (knock on wood) and I felt like a “down” week in mileage (both total and long run) might be a good thing before the last final push prior Marathon Monday.

                                      I did a mini-taper for this race. Regular speedwork on Wednesday, normal planned mileage for Thursday and then reduced mileage for Friday (6-7 miles) and Saturday (4-5 miles).

                                      So, onto the race. It started at 12:10pm which made it a bit tricky for me in regards to fueling beforehand. I ate my usual breakfast early (3 eggs with brussel sprouts, onions and tomatoes) and then a banana with almond butter late morning. No stomach or energy issues, so that went well!

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                                        Honolulu Marathon Recap + Review

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                                        The Honolulu Marathon was the most special, emotional finish line I’ve ever crossed. Running 26.2 miles side by side with my sister is a memory that I will cherish forever and I am so grateful to Saucony and Competitor for the opportunity to experience it in Hawaii with 16 other amazing females.

                                        The race and race weekend were…interesting. I had no idea prior to race weekend that over half the field is made up of runners from Japan. It was amazing to feel like we were part of something international. But it was strange, too – at time I felt like we were overseas! The expo, race packet, start line instructions were all in English as well as Japanese and there were two national anthems at the start.

                                        Race Morning

                                        To minimize the heat of the Hawaiian sun, the race began at 5am, which meant a 2:30am wakeup for Nicole and I. It wasn’t too terrible for us since we were still on east coast time. We met the other teams in the lobby at 4am and walked to the start area which was 1.5 miles away.

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