Heading to Alaska!

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We leave this morning for a 3-week vacation to Alaska to visit our family (my in-laws) and do some sightseeing and relaxing! Could NOT be more excited!

The boys have been asking about our trip to Alaska for months. We made a countdown with 12 days to go – the first words out of their mouth each morning was that it was time to take another number down!

We spent two amazing weeks last year – and it’s a yearly tradition that my husband hope to be able to continue as long as possible!

We weren’t sure if our trip would even happen, however, until Tuesday morning. Unfortunately, the town where my in-laws live (Willow – which is what we named our first dog after!) has been battling a large wildfire for days. After an unseasonably mild winter (they got much less snow than recent years), the state has had unseasonably warm weather with little to no precipitation. While that sounds great, it has caused most of the state to be in a high level of danger for forest fires.

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    2015 Brooklyn Half Marathon: Race Recap

    brooklyn half
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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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      2014 Staten Island Half Marathon Race Recap

      photo (44)
      si half

      Happy Monday! I keep forgetting that today is a holiday. My oldest is off from school but my husband has work – so it doesn’t feel like an actual holiday!

      Yesterday was the Staten Island Half Marathon. It was the 4th time I ran this race. Other than the first year, I can’t say that I’ve had a good experience with the race. Here’s a quick run-down:

      – 2010: 2:00:15 – 6 months pregnant. Ran it with my husband and good friend from college. Had a blast!


      – 2011: 1:38:57 – Ran it as a tuneup 3 weeks before the NYC Marathon. Was shooting for sub-1:35 but started way too fast and had a rough 2nd half.


      – 2013: DNF – Ran it as a tuneup before the Philly Marathon 5 weeks later. Started fast and started feeling hamstring pain around mile 8 so stopped at mile 9.

      I really was focused on a strong race and effort, regardless of the finish time – but I also was looking to get a big course PR and try to get an overall PR.

      For some reason this course is considered a fast course – but I really don’t know many runners who will agree with that statement. So who is spreading these rumors about it being fast? In my opinion, there’s three things that make it a tougher course than it appears:

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        RnR Philly Half Recap + Heat Exhaustion in Cold Weather

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        This sandwich (brisket of beef) was enormous!

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        If you follow me on social media, you probably saw the pictures and chatter in the days leading up to last Sunday – my sister’s first half marathon!

        The weekend started off smashingly – 5k PR for me, a YUMMY lunch at a historic deli close to our hotel, fun time at the expo visiting our friends at Sparkly Soul and listening to Chris chat on stage and then meeting up with the rest of our family who arrived in Philly around 2pm.

        We hung out in the hotel for a bit before heading to an early dinner at an Italian restaurant. Dinner was delicious, the company was even better and the excitement was immeasurable.

        My sister and I left the hotel at 6:30am and walked the mile to the start area.

        While she hung out and relaxed in our corral, I did a short 2.5 mile warmup. My legs felt really tight (not sore) from the 5k the day prior and I wanted to make sure I stretched and warmed up before asking my legs to run another 13.1 miles.

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          Highs and Lows

          reunion

          Some of my closest girlfriends!

          This weekend was {this} close to being an absolutely perfect one.  Friday afternoon, I said goodbye to the boys (who were being watched by my sweet sister!) and picked up three of my college girlfriends from the airport/their apartment in NJ enroute to our 10 year college reunion at West Point. Friday night was an organized dinner where we got to catch up with all of our classmates who had come for the reunion. We had decided to go sans significant others/kids so that we could have some girl time – we haven’t all been together in years.

          We didn’t make it to bed until 2am – WAY past my normal bedtime but totally worth the exhaustion we all felt at 6am the next morning when it was time to get up and get ready for the day. Saturday consisted of watching the pre-game parade (first parade I have seen since I graduated):

           Having lunch in the mess hall (cafeteria):

          Hanging out in North Area (location where we had formation 2x/day):

          Touring the gym:

          and lastly, attending the football game:

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            Slowing Down to Get Faster

            As I alluded to in my last post, I am doing a bunch of things differently this training cycle. The most glaring change I have made is slowing down every run {with the exception of my long run}.  Easy runs, tempos, intervals, recovery…They are all slower. Anywhere from 15 sec to 1 whole minute slower than I was running in the spring:

            • Recovery/Easy Runs: 7:35-7:45 -> 8:05-8:40
            • 5 mile Tempo Run: 6:30 -> 6:55
            • 1600m intervals: 6:00-6:10 -> 6:35-6:40

            It may seem counter-intuitive, but by me going slower most days, I am hoping to get stronger and faster.  

            In the spring, my mentality was to go as hard as I could for each workout. I used McMillan’s Running Calculator to determine my training paces, but truth be told, I would either try to be on the faster range of those paces or try to run them faster because I felt I should be working hard (95-100% effort).  And in my mind, working hard equated to all out exhaustion.  Part of it was that I was trying to regain my speed that I had “lost” during pregnancy. I thought if I ran as fast as I could for speed workouts that I would get faster.

            While I know that I definitely DID get faster (I PR’d by over 2 minutes in the half marathon in March), what was the cost?  I was often too exhausted the day after a tough workout to do my recovery/easy run.  There were also a few instances where I totally bonked on my long run (once on a 16 miler, once on a planned 22 miler that I turned into 19 miles). Both signs of training too fast overtraining.

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              RnR Philly Half Race Recap + Review

              Me + My godson + his parents + sister + godfather
              Me + My godson + his parents + sister + godfather

              Me + My godson + his parents + sister + godfather

              Sunday was an absolutely wonderful day for two big reasons. I PR’d the half…but more importantly was what happened AFTER the race: My adorable, huggable godson’s Christening Day!

              After crossing the finish line at 9:32, I chatted for a few minutes with Mike, a runner who I managed to hang with through mile 9 (I think?) and then who negative split the heck out of the race and finished over TWO minutes faster than me. I got my medal, grabbed a water bottle, and ran the 1.5 miles back to the hotel – where my car was waiting {bags packed and already in the car too} at the valet. I drove the 80-90 minutes home to Staten Island, showered, got ready, and my husband, boys and I were at my sister’s house by 1pm. I may not have had the fastest race time of the day, but I’m fairly certain I would be in the running for the fastest transition. HAHA.  Thankfully, my husband is amazing and got both boys dressed and ready while I was concentrating on myself.

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                Sub-1:32 Half Marathon -> FINALLY!

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                All ready to race!

                Happy Monday!!  As I mentioned last week, I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon yesterday. A full recap (and race review) will be coming later this week (hopefully tomorrow), but wanted to share the good GREAT news. I PR’d and finally got the sub-1:32 that I missed in the spring. The race wasn’t perfect – I started too fast and was kind of done by mile 12, but I was able to squeak out a 1:31:57 thanks to perfect running weather and a {relatively} flat, fast course.

                Did you race this weekend? Anyone PR?

                If you had to pick – would you prefer perfect running weather or a flat, fast course? This is a tough one – I think I would prefer perfect running weather. I despise the cold and really don’t deal well (mentally) with the wind.

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                I don’t post here every day, but I post all of my workouts (and other happenings) on Instagram on a daily basis {NYCRunningMama}.

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

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                  RnR Philly Half + Benefits of Using a Running Coach

                  Mile 12 of 2013 NYC Half Marathon

                  Mile 12 of 2013 NYC Half Marathon

                  Tomorrow, all of my boys will be staying at home as I make the short trip for the RnR Philly Half. I’m a little excited, a bit nervous, but surprisingly, mostly calm about the race.  There is a HUGE part of me that would love to PR on Sunday. My PR stands at 1:32:23 from this year’s NYC Half and while I know that I have a faster half marathon time in me, I’m not quite convinced the time is now.

                  My coach and I have decided to use this race a gauge of where I am in my training and to help set more concrete goals for the marathon in two months.  There was very little taper for this (I did an 8x800m workout on Tuesday and a 17 miler last weekend) since we are not using it as a target race. Eyes and focus on the prize (Philly Marathon). Which I think is why I’m so calm about the race.  This is my first real road race since the Ironman and Ironman training last spring. I have virtually no expectations, other than knowing I am going to run as smart and as hard as I can for 13.1 miles. Whether than means a 6:55 pace, 7:05 pace, or 7:25 pace.  I have a race plan that I am going to stick to as best as I can (read: not starting too fast) and hope for the best =)

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                    Race Calendar + Ironman Lake Placid Training

                    Hello friends!

                    One of my good friends pointed out to me that my race calendar was severely outdated…so I took a few minutes and updated it.  (The calendar can be found here.)  The big/long races are definites.   The smaller/shorter ones are still up in the air (5 miler on 4th of July, RW races, etc).  I made the decision on a fall marathon…the Wineglass Marathon!  SUPER excited about this one. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things and I’m loving the elevation chart for the race:

                    I’m also looking for a triathlon to do before the ironman in July.  There is the Rev3 Quassy in June that I would LOVE to do but not sure we will be able to swing it financially (registration alone is over $250…then we will need hotel for 1-2 nights, etc).  Anyone want to sponsor me? (I’m only half kidding).

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                    I realized it’s been a while since I gave any sort of update with how training is going in prep for IM Lake Placid.  I post a lot of pictures on my Instagram account {NYCRunningMama} with training updates, but don’t really blog about how things are going.  So here goes:

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                      Saucony Virrata Review

                      virrata

                      Over the years, I have dabbled with zero-drop shoes on more occasions than I can remember.  I SO wanted to wear a lightweight, more natural shoe.  But each time I have had to sadly return to my previous training shoe because my foot felt too naked, too unsupported for anything more than a mile or two. They just didn’t feel right on my foot and I couldn’t get used to the feeling of having NO support from the pavement.

                      So, understandably, I was intrigued when I heard about the new Saucony shoe – the Virrata.

                      The Virrata is Saucony’s lightest and most flexible training shoe which allows your foot to move naturally.  But Saucony did something different with this shoe – something I hadn’t seen in other natural 0mm drop shoes. Rather than completely strip down the shoe and leave a 0mm drop shoe with no support or cushioning, they ADDED 18mm of cushion at the bottom. GENIUS. 

                      I loved this concept because it addressed my biggest issue with lightweight, 0mm drop shoes – the lack of protection and support. 

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                        NYC Half Race Recap

                        post race

                        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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                          Behind the Scenes

                          interview

                          I received a phone call from one of my good friends at NYRR – she was someone I had met during the Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge journey and have remained in close contact with her.  She wanted to know if I would be interested in being filmed for an On the Run episode – an online series created/produced by NYRR.  With the NYC Half being the first race run on the streets of NYC since Superstorm Sandy, NYRR was putting together some segments on those running the race who were affected by the storm.  She was aware that I had organized the Race for Recovery, she thought I would be a good fit.

                          A couple of days after that initial conversation, I was told that WABC had learned of my story and were interested in airing the segment on their channel during the NYC Half coverage on Sunday.  My piece is scheduled to air at 7:16am on Sunday, March 17 on WABC.  (More information can be found here.)  As soon as I find out the link on the NYRR website and/or the WABC site, I will share it!

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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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                              PR Spotlight – Beka K

                              Brandon Half Marathon - Dec 2012
                              I love stories of people who have been inspired to run/race after seeing a marathon for the first time.  That is what happened to Beka in November 2011.  She ran her first 5k a month later and tackled her first half marathon less than three months after that!.  Her first half-marathon time?  2:17!  AND just became part of the sub-2 club when she knocked over 12 minutes off her half-marathon time!  Beka know holds a 1:54 half-marathon PR and is anxiously awaiting for training to begin this summer for her first full marathon.  Did I mention that she’s only been running about 14 months?? =)  I think she is going to be setting some pretty nice PRs this year due to her natural speed + incredible dedication. Name: Rebecca (Beka) Kelley Age: 28 Hometown: Memphis, TN – now live in Tampa, FL Blog: www.rebeccaroams.com Twitter: @rebeccaroams How long have you been running? 1 year & 2 months Why did you start running? In November 2011, I tagged along with my boyfriend to his first marathon (which I thought he was nuts for even doing). While he ran, I grabbed a big fatty breakfast at Denny’s, lounged around, and waited at my spots to see him a couple of times throughout the race. It wasn’t until the runners began crossing the finish line that I started to feel incredibly guilty about that breakfast, but so incredibly inspired! Watching so many different kinds of people meeting life long goals and seeing their emotions ranging from tears to huge smiles, and even a few blood stained shirts or knees. I was absolutely enamored with what they felt with that accomplishment and made it a goal on the spot to start distance running. Even if that meant just starting with 1 small mile (which I could not do at this point). One month later in December, I completed my first very painful 5k,  three months later, my first half marathon and I haven’t looked back! Favorite Race Distance/Why? So far, the half marathon. It requires endurance and speed. Tests you in both areas (although I’m not as speedy as Michele!)
                              PRs 5k: 25:57 10k: 56:28 Half: 1:54 Marathon: (tba in October!)
                              First Half Marathon time/when: Gasparilla Half (March 2012) – 2:17. Still not even knowing what a “pace” was, or even how long a half marathon “really was”, I decided to challenge myself and see just how far I could make it. I had only run 7 really hard miles prior. I never stopped running! I slowed significantly and at one point was so angry at myself for putting myself in this much pain, but all that anger and pain disappeared (momentarily) as soon as I saw the finish chute and I was given my medal. I was in complete and utter amazement at how the body can complete such a huge task! I immediately started signing up for more races as soon as I got home.

                              Previous Half Marathon PR/when: Women’s Half Marathon November 2012 2:06:58 – This was another total shocker for me. I had just gotten out of physical therapy thanks to a “learn my lesson about recovery and cross training” injury (hip) and really just wanted to finish. I was extremely nervous leading up to the race. I listened to my body and ran a smart race without giving up and without re-injuring myself! It paid off!

                              What did you do differently in your training to drop so much time off from your last half marathon? I made a plan and I stuck to it – I trained hard – didn’t miss ONE WORKOUT (not even a cross training workout -i.e yoga or weights) – even if my plan was for only 5 weeks. I made the time, woke up early, stayed up late, put in the effort, and it made the biggest difference!

                              What do you attribute the most to you PR’ing? Consistent weekly, hard tempo runs! A supportive boyfriend who also runs, and an amazing pacer – Meghann! If you have an opportunity for a speedy friend to help you meet your goal – accept it. Having her next to me made me feel accountable, and because of that I pushed myself to get that PR!
                              What is your next race/goal? I have a few more races (5k, 10k, halfs) scheduled through April, and really want to get a huge PR in my 10k since I’ve only run one before! In June I’ll begin training for my biggest goal of the year – Marine Corps Marathon (held in Oct). I am raising money for a wonderful charity- The Little Things for Cancer. I’m also planning to run along side one of my Marine Wounded Warrior friends. While in Afghanistan, he lost a leg and function in an arm and is doing everything in his power to rebuild his strength and be able to run this race with me! (you can read the full story here)

                              What piece of advice would you give to someone who is looking to PR? Train (consistently) well, recover better, and find running buddies to challenge you and hold you accountable. Definitely look toward those friends or the  blogger/social media healthy living and fitness community for the days you just don’t feel like getting out for that run. It is full of so many inspiring athletes! I know I have aimed higher and set higher goals because of them! Challenge yourself!

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                                PR Spotlight: Hyedi N

                                hyedi2

                                Happy Friday!!!  Hope everyone has safe and easy travels home and/or a safe weekend with the wintery weather we have been having!!

                                Today marks the end of Week 1 of marathon training.  I didn’t run as often as I wanted to because I am still recovering from the flu – but am overall pretty satisfied.  I used this week as a refresher for myself – no hard or long distance runs – I mostly wanted to get used to waking up at 5am and running every day.  I’m really excited for this training cycle and plan to go into detail about my training plans for my spring marathon  next week!

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                                This week’s PR spotlight is on Hyedi.  I’ve been following her for a while now on Twitter but really started interacting a lot more when the Race for Recovery was being planned – she was enormously helpful in spreading the word and getting involved.  Read below to see how she went from a 2:12 half marathon in 2009 to a 2:03 in 2012.  She has even bigger goals for 2013 – sub-2 (which she TOTALLY has got!).  PS. Hyedi – hope you kick the flu and feel better quickly – we are all sending good thoughts your way!

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                                  Spring Racing Decisions

                                  I am signed up for the NJ Marathon on May 5.  I was registered last year, but deferred (for free!) when I became pregnant.   This IS my target race for the spring.  It’s a flat, fast course and I have big dreams of running sub-3:10.  This is ultimately what all of my training will revolve around.  I want all the races I choose to run to add to, not take away from, this goal.

                                  But I have a dilemma.  I am toying with the idea of running either a March marathon or half marathon as preparation for NJ in May.  Here are my options:

                                  Option A: Run the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon (or the B & A Trail Marathon) on March 16

                                  • I would use this race as a test run before the NJ Marathon.  Truth be told, I haven’t “raced” a marathon since Boston 2009 – that’s almost FOUR years!! I ran the NYC Marathon in Nov 2011, but had to run the first half with four other runners (it was at a pace much slower than I’m used to running) so I didn’t get the opportunity to push myself for the full 26.2 miles.  I feel like using it as a test run could be a great idea – work out any issues I may have – fueling, water, clothes while also getting in the mindset of pushing for 26.2 miles.
                                  • The NJ Marathon is 7 weeks after these two races, so there is plenty of time to rest/recovery, get a few good long runs, and taper again.
                                  • This would require me to begin training NOW since the marathon is 15 weeks away.  Am I ready to begin putting in the long runs necessary for this?  I am not sure.  I’m still having a hard time being away from my boys – even for short runs (unless they are asleep).  And I’m not 100% sure I’m in the mindset of having long runs every single weekend.

                                  Option B: Run a half marathon (maybe NYC Half?) mid-March

                                  • This race could easily fit into my marathon training plan
                                  • I have HUGE goals when it comes to the half (I want to take 3+ min off my previous PR of 1:34) so would love a chance to PR during marathon training
                                  • The rest/recovery for this race would be much less than marathon (two weeks total as opposed to four) so I could focus on more long runs
                                  • I wouldn’t have to start training for another few weeks (just after the holidays)

                                  Part of me REALLY wants to run a marathon as soon as I can and I know I can definitely be ready by March.  But I’m not sure if doing one that soon would actually hinder my goals for NJ Marathon as opposed to help them.

                                  What are your thoughts?  

                                  Have you run marathons ~7 weeks apart?  Did you feel rested and ready to race again? 

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                                    How Much Money Are You Willing To Pay For Race Entry?

                                    2009 Boston Marathon

                                    Last week I received an email from the organizers of the NYC Ironman announcing registration for the 2013 race.  I had signed up for the 2012 Ironman (which was held last weekend) but had to cancel my entry when I found out I was pregnant (I received a $150 refund on my race entry fee).

                                    My husband and I had recently been discussing my intentions to sign up for next year’s race – training and completing an Ironman has been on the forefront of my mind for the past few years and rather than put it off for another few years, we decided I would make the NYC Ironman my target race post-baby #2.

                                    Well, we did…until I got the email with the registration information.  The price tag for the 2013 NYC Ironman?

                                    $1200

                                    This is about $250 MORE than it was for the previous year’s race (2012 NYC Ironman).   In my mind, I could <somewhat> justify $950 for an Ironman but just couldn’t bring myself to pay $1200. Maybe it was the four digit figure as opposed to three.  Not sure.  But that extra $250 was the cut-off point for me.  (Registration is currently suspended for the NYC IM – more details here.)

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                                      Founder’s Award and a DNS

                                      Founder's Award

                                      Lots of updates from the weekend!!

                                      I was notified by the alumni association from my elementary school alma mater, St Christopher’s, a couple of months ago with the news that I was selected to receive the 2012 St. Christopher Founders Award (along with other honorees).

                                      The dinner and ceremony were amazing – there were SO many former teachers, parents of classmates, and alumni present – it was like a mini-reunion for me!  I hadn’t been back to my elementary school in almost 11 years so going back – this time with my husband and son was so much fun.  But it was strange – part of me felt like time had stopped and I was right back in school, in the gymnasium, playing basketball like I had 17 years ago (gosh, I am getting old!).

                                      Here are a few pictures from the evening:

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                                      As you may remember from previous blog posts, I had planned on running the Brooklyn Half Marathon this past weekend.  However, I made the decision late Friday night to forego the race for a few reasons:

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                                        Highlights from the 2012 NYC Half Marathon

                                        Love Kara's strong body!

                                        I had decided not to sign up for the NYC Half this year.  My goals for 2012  including PR’ing in both the marathon and the half marathon and I knew it would be tough to PR on this tough course (the first half is extremely hilly).  I have also run the NYC Half before and so couldn’t justify spending upwards of $150 for the registration fee since my husband and I are trying to limit our spending in preparation for our move next month.  Lastly, I wanted to focus primarily on the NJ Marathon in May and didn’t want to have to deal with tapering and recovering midway through the training cycle.  So no NYC Half for me!

                                        I knew a lot of people running and have never had the opportunity to cheer during such a big race because I am either racing or have a family commitment that prevented me from running the race in the first place.  I decided to drive into the city this year and support my friends, fellow bloggers, and the rest of the runners.  It was such an amazing experience!

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