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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        Warming up during a run + NYC Half on Sunday

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        Hello, hello!

        Happy St. Paddy’s Day!! Our house had a little visitor last night!

        This week has been a tough one. I find it odd since the previous two weeks were much more demanding at work and I was running higher mileage. This has been a bit of a taper (because of NYC Half on Sunday) and work has been more normal hours, but I’ve felt tired and just not thrilled with waking up early to run.

        I’ve learned that Sunday evening into Monday sets the condition for the rest of the week. When I start the week off on not enough sleep, the rest of the week is tough because there’s no chance of making up the sleep until the following weekend. It’s like starting a marathon without being fully charged and rested.

        The result was sleeping in on Tuesday (I reset the alarm to give me an two extra hours) and putting off a workout until Tuesday evening – which turned into a mostly easy run because I was just feeling too tired and “blah” after a day at work.

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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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                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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                  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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