2016 NYC Marathon Race Recap

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

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

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

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    2016 NYC 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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        2016 Forest Avenue Mile -> 14 Sec PR!

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

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

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

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

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          2015 Wineglass Marathon Race Recap – 3:12!

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          This past weekend I completed my 12th marathon – and set a 3:11 min PR with a time of 3:12:04. I have an entire post that I will share when I get a chance to edit it – it highlights the last few months of training that got me to Wineglass in the best shape of my life. I wrote it during taper as a way for me to look back on training as Coach and I were going over race plans and time goals. But, I decided to hold off on sharing it until post-marathon.

          I am thrilled with another PR – my 2nd big PR in as many attempts this year. Six months ago, my PR was 3:21:32. It is now 3:12:04. I have taken more than 9 minutes off in just over 5 months after years of fighting to break 3:21…and I am now knocking on the sub-3:10 door.

          There is a small part of me that is a bit disappointed that I didn’t walk away with a faster finish time. I had a pretty amazing training cycle this summer – the best training cycle of my life – and the numbers definitely pointed to a sub-3:10.

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            3:15 -> Long Time Coming!!

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            So thankful that I saw Pavey at the finish – and will be forever grateful he captured a special moment for me!

            I will write a full recap (or two) later this week but wanted to pop in and give a quick update on the 2015 Boston Marathon.

            I am on cloud nine. The race could not have gone any better for me – fueling before and during was better than it’s ever been, I ran 100% by feel (I saw total time on my watch and only received the mile split notifications), Heartbreak did NOT break me, I ENJOYED every single mile, I high-fived the amazing spectators from the start until the finish and most importantly, did not let fear, doubt or pain get in the way of the race I knew I could run.

            The weather was less than ideal but not as bad as I was expecting based on some of the forecasts I had seen.  The rain wasn’t a factor for me – I don’t even remember it coming down for most of the race (I think having some long runs in the rain and snow helped). The wind was there and you could definitely sense it slowing you down a bit (especially when the wind gusts came) but it seemed more of a crosswind for the first 20 or so miles (the wind was coming from the east and we run northeast for most of first part of race). The last 4-5 miles was when I really begin to feel the headwind. I tried to duck behind other runners which helped conserve energy and minimize the effects of the wind – but I ended up running more than 26.6 miles as a result of the weaving to try to find runners to shield me. (Note: garmin says 26.41 but I lost satellite going under an overpass the last 1/2 miles).

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              PR Spotlight: How To PR Every Race Distance in 12 Months

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              It’s been a while since I featured a runner here. I am trying to get back into a better routine with blogging – and part of that is this feature which I think can help a lot of other runners!

              I’m excited to share the store of Joe, a local runner from Staten Island, who I have had the absolute pleasure of coaching for the last year. Joe reached out to me last summer after running a handful of races including the Brooklyn Half Marathon and Scotland 10k. He was looking to improve his running – no specific times or goals – just wanted to improve.

              He is now a few weeks away from his first marathon – the NYC Marathon! And he has set some pretty amazing PR’s along the way:

              – Mile: 8:11 —> 7:22
              – 5 miler: 49:31 (9:55 pace) —> 44:37 (8:56 pace)
              – 10k: 1:01:59 (10:00 pace) —> 59:07 (9:32 pace)
              – 10 miler: 1:42:12 (10:14 pace) —> 1:35:48 (9:35 pace)
              – Half Marathon: 2:18:05 (10:33 pace) —> 2:08 (9:51 pace)

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                5k PR -> 1st Sub-20!

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                Good Morning, Philly!

                I showed up to the start of the RnR Philly 5k with no expectations. With the exception of a tough, tired interval workout this past week (that didn’t leave me feeling very optimistic), I hadn’t done formal speedwork in weeks (July 29th to be exact) and so didn’t have a good feel for how the race might go.

                My one goal was to run strong and consistent – to not go out too fast and finished satisfied with my effort and execution. Races like this turn out the best for me. No stress or pressure. Just the excitement of being at a race atmosphere (which I LOVE).

                The course was touted as being flat and fast – but just looking at the start and finish, I knew it wasn’t completely true (the finish had a very steep, short hill right at mile 3 – heartbreaker!). And the first mile was a very gradual decline (so mile 3 is a gradual incline). My garmin shows about 130 ft of gain (mapmyrun shows 110) – not anything huge – but even the smallest hill in a 5k feels like a mountain!

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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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                    PR Spotlight – Beka K

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                    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

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                      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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                        PR Spotlight: Pamela

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                        I’m excited to begin the new series on NYC Running Mama – the PR spotlight.  The PR spotlight will feature runners who have recently PR’d.  It could be on the treadmill, track, or on the roads.  The purpose of the feature will be to discuss what was done differently – whether it was pacing, fueling, hydration, training, mental preparation, etc.

                        One of the things I love most about running is that I’m constantly learning – I learn just as much from the 4:30 marathoner as I do from the 2:45 marathoner. Hopefully this feature become a tool in which we all learn from each other.

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                        Meet Pamela:  Not only is she my best friend (we’ve known each other since we were 13!), but she is the social media expert behind Sparkly Soul headbands.  Although she has run a good number of marathons, Pamela was stuck at the 5-hour mark for most of them.  This past spring, she revamped her training and began seeing immediate results.  The first time I really became aware of how much faster she had become was at the NYC Half Marathon in March.  I was used to Pamela being a 10+ min per mile runner so when I saw her run me at (I was cheering at mile 7) only an hour into her run, I was astounded!!  She continued her improvement through the summer and fall…and just PR’d the marathon by 53 minutes at the Philadelphia Marathon!!!  Here is how she managed to go from a 4:43 marathoner…to a 3:50!!! 

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                          How to Become a Better Runner

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                          It’s a known fact that you can often become a better runner by increasing your mileage and incorporating speed, tempo, and long runs into your training.

                          But, perhaps the best way to become a better runner is simply by learning.  Learning from your own experiences in races and training as well as from friends and acquaintances who run.  And I always find that I learn MORE from the mistakes I have made.  Yes, it sucks to make mistakes (especially during races). Often they result in poor times, a painful end to the race, and the sadness of not performing well.

                          After running for over 10 years, I still consider myself a student of the sport.  I’m constantly learning.  I learn from mistakes I’ve made, success I have had, published articles, and successful runners’ blogs.

                          Yesterday’s run is a great example of learning from a past mistake. My plan was to run 10 miles at Marathon Pace (MP).  (Note: My goal is to start incorporating 6-10 miles at MP during my long runs.  I wanted to practice running at this pace for an extended period of time before I include it in my long runs.)

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                            What’s better than two PRs in one day?

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                            A couple of weeks ago I wrote that I started doing speedwork again (Here is my post in case you missed it).  As of Christmas week, there is a treadmill in our apartment.  It prevents me from making excuses.  There’s nothing getting in my way of what I’m supposed to do now except me. So, for the last 3 weeks, I’ve forced myself to do speed sessions once a week.

                            During preseason basketball at West Point, we were timed running miles on the track – my miles were always around 7:00.  When I was on the Fort Hood Army 10-miler Team, we did track workouts 1x/week – my miles dropped to 6:15-6:25.  I got my miles down to 6:10 when I was deployed to Iraq in 2007-2009. That’s been my personal record (PR) until last week.

                            I ran my fastest mile ever last Thursday (5:59). This week, I planned to run 5x mile repeats. I woke up tired, sore, and not in the mood to do miles on the  treadmill.  I debated doing them right up until the moment I stepped on the treadmill – I secretly wanted to crawl back into bed for the next hour. But I know myself and knew that I would regret my decision all day…so I got on.

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