Philadelphia Marathon Race Recap

mile 13
inspiration

So first some GREAT news! I was selected as one of the 20 Inspirational Runners in the US by Dailyburn! The people on this list are amazing runners and people and I’m incredibly honored to be put in the same category as them.

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These things are much easier and fun to write when it’s about a great day.  Part of me doesn’t want to write it at all because it would be much easier to just try to forget last Sunday, but I know I learn a lot from reflecting on a race and I’m hoping it adds some sort of closure that I haven’t found yet…so here goes.

Last Sunday was not the race I had imagined it would be. Some things went well. Other things not so well. I can sit here and try to find what exactly caused my having to walk and finish >10 min slower than I had set out to run. But, the truth is, I can’t blame anyone or anything except myself. Regardless of whether it was my diet, my pacing, my salty sweating or my ambitious goal time…it was MY doing. I own up to everything that happened that day and in the days leading up to the race.

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    Training for Finish Line not Finish Line Clock: Philadelphia Marathon Goals

    My target race, the Philadelphia Marathon, is just four days away. I’ve talked about the things I’m doing differently this training cycle. It has been the most enjoyable, exciting training cycle to date – and I think the primary reason is that I have eliminated the stress of going after a certain time.

    I often go into a training cycle with a number in my head…a number I want to see on the finish line clock. My whole entire training cycle revolves around that number. I spend months obsessing over it. While I think it’s great to have a time goal, it doesn’t seem to work for me. I get so tied to that number that it becomes a do or die for me. Even if I’m off by just a minute or two on race day, I feel as if I came up short and failed.

    I went into this training cycle with my head up, my heart open and my eyes focusing on the finish line (not the finish line clock). For the first time in recent years, instead of picking a concrete number and then training for that, I have trained with no specific time goal in mind other than wanting to get stronger and faster.

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      Changing the Way I Eat

      During Ironman training, I felt hungry ALL the time. There never seemed to be enough food in the house to keep me full. Because I was always starving (and tired), I was reaching for things that were the quickest to cook/prepare: grilled steak, cold cuts, chicken cutlets (fried), a huge dish of pasta. Add to it that my portions began increasing (tremendously) to the point where I was eating an 8-10 oz steak at dinner at least 3x/week. I don’t think I was eating too many calories – my weight stayed pretty consistent during the high intensity months (May – July). But I do think that I was not making the smartest decisions in regards to food. I was choosing the easiest options to fill me up rather than what made me feel the best and give me the most energy.

      Despite being arguably in the best shape I’ve ever been in, I constantly felt “blah”. I would wake up most mornings with a bloated and upset stomach that would often last until midway through my early morning workout. It seemed like most nights after the boys went to sleep, I was on the couch complaining about my bloated stomach or the sometimes sharp, throbbing pain I had.  Tums and other antacids were taken almost nightly to try to combat the pain.

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        Eight Mile Tempo to Ride into the Marathon

        First week of taper is almost over. I’m still smiling and haven’t gone crazy yet. I think a huge part of it is that I was still running every day and still had a few workouts to get in. So I haven’t had to run easy for consecutive days yet. Ask me again next week how I am feeling. And in case you are counting…we are down to 9 days. =)

        Have you ever had a workout that when it was finished, you wanted to scream and just jump up and down with excitement? That kind of run that gives you a runner’s high that can last hours – or days? I have often found that the tougher the workout, the higher the runner’s high.

        I had one of these runs on Tuesday. It was an eight mile tempo. Yup. EIGHT miles. At my half marathon PR pace (7:00). This sounds easy on paper but after a 71 mile week, no taper and no food/gel, it’s a different story. Almost an hour of hard, fast (for me) running.

        I was terrified from the day I got the week’s plan from my coach. My first thought was that there was no way I could sustain that pace for 8 miles. I thought back to my first tempo workout of this training cycle. 5 miles at 7:10->7:05. And I barely survived. I think I was almost dry heaving by the end. Then I recalled the two-6 mile tempos I did 5 and 6 weeks ago – at just under a 7 min pace. One was tough, the other was a good day. But the idea of doing two more miles on tired legs seemed daunting to me.

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          Running in Cold Weather

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          For more NYC Running Mama, check out:

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          It’s that time of year again! I didn’t think that we would see temps in the 30s for another few weeks but winter seems to have crashed the party early.

          I tweeted this out before my run Saturday morning as a way to convince myself to dress the way I knew I should and I got a lot of feedback from others that they needed to hear this as well…so I decided to share it here:

          It was 35 degrees at the start of my long run Saturday morning and I was having a hard time deciding what to wear. I always have the urge to overdress…it’s hard not to when you sitting inside, in a heated house, sipping on a warm cup of coffee, dressed in long pants and a comfy sweater. Who wants to strip down to shorts and a long-sleeved shirt at that point and brave the cold? Umm. NOT me.

          I wanted to share some things I {try to} keep in mind when running in cold weather. Keep in mind that each person will have a different threshold for cold tolerance. You may opt for pants, layers, gloves at different temps than I do (and that’s totally fine!). You just need to figure out what works best for you. (Note: I added a few tips that I had discussed in this post last year that are still applicable):

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            Birthday Celebration + 24 days to go!

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            Hey everyone! I’m still here! I know I have barely written anything lately…life has been crazy the last few weeks and blogging is one of the first things I sacrifice when I am short on time. But crazy = good so I am not complaining. I have a bunch of exciting things going on with blogging/social media and will be sharing them all in the next few weeks!

            Monday was my 32nd birthday.  It’s strange how things change – my husband took a half day with the intention of giving me some free time to go for a massage, take a nap, get my nails done…really just have some alone time.  But all I wanted to do was spend the afternoon with the boys. It was an absolutely gorgeous day so we decided to take the 45-minute drive and go to the Turtle Back Zoo in NJ. We had a blast!

            My whole family (sans one sister) came over on Sunday for dinner and birthday cake. It was the perfect way to celebrate!

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            Another week of marathon training has come and gone. Philly is *just* 24 days away. I’m down to 5 or 6 workouts remaining (depending if my coach gives me one final workout the week of the 3rd) including two more long runs.

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              Highs and Lows

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              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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                Weekend Highlights + 20 Mile Success

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                This past weekend was amazing! Thank you for all of your words of support and good luck wishes for my husband! He is officially a half-Ironman! =)  Below are some of the highlights from our weekend:

                – Crossing Finish Line with our youngest. I can’t stop smiling at this picture. This is the first finish line the little guy has crossed.

                 Half Ironman: Despite the heat (it was 90 degrees + super humid despite being a week into October), a pinched nerve in his neck last week (he was on steroids and muscle relaxers until race day to help with the pain and stiffness), a flat tire on the bike and bad stomach cramping during the run, my husband crossed the finish line!! There will always be something to complain about if you want to, but we are focusing on the good instead. He is a half-Ironman!

                Weekend with our youngest – It was so fun to get 24+ hours with just the little guy. I put a picture up on IG last week and mentioned how I am loving my 90 min twice/week with him right now while my oldest is in “class” (it’s a toddler program that focuses on being around other children and the beginning parts of taking directions/listening). I love that they have each other. I grew up with three sisters and can’t imagine my life without them in it. But, it’s a constant struggle to give them both the undivided attention I wish I could give them. So I will gladly take these special moments when I can.

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                  BIG Weekend + Training Catchup

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                  Guess what’s happening this weekend!?! It’s my husband’s first Half-Ironman!!! I think I’m more excited and nervous than he is!! I finally am getting to experience what it feels like to be on the other side.

                  I am so proud of my husband for putting in all the training the last few months for this race.  Lately, he’s been the one getting up at 415-430am to get his workout in, then return home to shower and then I head out while he gets dressed and ready for work (while watching the boys). The mornings are a blur for us between the hours of 5-8 and we don’t get a ton of time together…but we’ve managed to both train for big races at the same time (first time we’ve been able to juggle both).

                  It’s the Rev3 Half Full Triathlon in Ellicot City, Maryland. We are heading down tomorrow afternoon with the littlest guy while the oldest gets a fun day/night/sleepover with Grandma! If you are in the area, come out and cheer (and keep me company!!) =)  And please send him good race vibes!! YAY!

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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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                      The Marathon Doesn’t Define Me

                      Mile 12 of 2013 NYC Half Marathon
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                      2009 Boston Marathon

                      For years after I ran a 3:21 marathon in the 2009 Boston Marathon, I was proud of my PR. I knew it wasn’t the fastest I could have run, but given the circumstances (training in Iraq and not doing a single run longer than 14 miles for 3 months prior to the race), I was darn happy. In my tiny bubble of a world, I was fast.  

                      Enter blogging and social media. And with that, my introduction to lots of speedy females. Combine that with my competitive nature. My lack of self confidence. My need to be the best. And all of a sudden, I was no longer proud of that {3:21} number anymore. Instead, I wanted their times.  I thought that if I ran a certain time that I would become a popular blogger, get more opportunities and just be a better runner.

                      I felt like I had something to prove. To who? I’m not sure. Everybody. No one in particular. Maybe myself.

                      And so after I ran NYC as part of the Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge, I set out to train my butt off for a much faster marathon PR. I was only a couple of weeks into training for the 2012 NJ Marathon when I found out I was pregnant with my second child. I was ecstatic, but there was also a part of me that was kind of bummed that I would have to wait to chase after that speedier marathon PR. {I know it’s totally silly and selfish to have had those thoughts.}

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                        1st Birthday + 8 weeks to go

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                        My youngest son turned one last week. Hard to believe that it’s been that long already, right? I feel like it was just yesterday that he came into this world. It’s been a fun year (sometimes crazy at times!) with a 2nd child and I could not have asked for a sweeter, happier little guy.

                        My boys and I celebrated on Thursday (his actual birthday) with presents and cake.

                        And continued the celebration with a fun birthday party on Saturday with family and friends from the neighborhood.

                        Can we take a moment and discuss this cake? It was beautiful and SO SO yummy (white cake with cannoli cream.) One of my good friends from high school made this beauty!! She has made cakes for my boys’ special events the past few years and they could not be prettier or more delicious. (She’s VERY reasonable and is based on Staten Island. Her website is here!)

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                        For the first time this training cycle, I felt like I had a wonderful week of running from start to finish. I nailed both my stress workouts (3×2 and long run) and felt so strong despite racing a half marathon last Sunday. The Philly Marathon is just under 8 weeks away. First 20 miler will be this weekend (with lots of miles at MGP – agh!), one more half marathon tune-up race, a few more weeks of hard training…and then taper begins.

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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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                            Treadmill + Clean House

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                            Happy Labor Day!! Hope you are all enjoying the nice, long weekend!!

                            I try to stay on top of the cleaning on a regular basis. Kitchen counters and family room, kitchen and play room floors get cleaned/vacuumed on a daily basis.  Heavier cleaning happens on the weekend. But I’ve been slacking a bit on some of the deeper cleaning.  My family is coming over today to celebrate Labor Day. Company is always the perfect excuse to get the house super clean. Am I right?  But, I got into this cleaning frenzy over the weekend. I don’t think the house has been this clean. Ever. Not only did I clean, but I organized and went through closets, drawers, cabinets. We’ve been in the house for about 15 months. So, if I hadn’t worn or used something in that time, it got tossed. As much as I hate the idea of cleaning, I actually really enjoy it. I think I’m weird.

                            So onto the running. Lots of miles (for me) again this week – 48! Before last week, I don’t really remember the last time I was on the treadmill. Sometime in early July maybe? I go through these love/hate relationships with it. Right now, it’s a definite hate. I tend to love the treadmill in the winter because I am not a cold weather runner (at all). But, I’ve been outside for weeks – rain, wind, heat, humidity.

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