Race Recap: 2016 Air France 8k: PR + Age Group Win!

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This recap is a bit delayed…my blogging always goes hand in hand with how busy I am at work and with life! It’s been a great, but busy couple of weeks, and so finding the time to write about this race was at the bottom of the priority list!

Last Sunday was the Air France Run in Central Park organized by NYRR. In an effort to get out of my comfort zone and race shorter distances more often, I signed up for the 8k several weeks ago – knowing full well that the 5 mile course included all the lovely hills of Central Park. And by “lovely”, I mean “why do I do this to myself?”. By mile 3, I was cursing my decision and swearing off short races in Central Park once again. It’s hard enough to race hard for 5 miles. When you throw in the Harlem hills, it becomes a major sufferfest.

When I lived in the city, I ran in Central Park almost every day. Shorts runs, long runs, speed workouts. Those hills were part of my routine. As much as I try to run hills these days, I’m limited. The route that is safest for me to run is rolling – but nothing like the hills in the park. The hills I would love to run daily are part of a stretch of road that is more desolate – no homes and the woods on both sides. So I won’t venture there until it’s getting light out – which means no time to run them in the AM. Now that I’m so removed from the park, I am reminded each time I race there that it’s no joke.

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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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      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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        Boston: 11 days to go – Plans, Goals and News!

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        Check out the RXBar giveaway I’m hosting on Instagram this week!

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        We are just a days away from race week. The Boston Marathon is less than 12 days away. It’s getting real.

        I am not only starting to get anxious and excited for the race itself, but for the entire race weekend experience. I know a TON of other runners who will be racing and I’m looking forward to spending some time with them next weekend. There’s also a handful of other running friends who I’m excited to finally meet after years of following each other on social media!

        My mom and I are heading up to Boston bright and early on Saturday morning. I’m BEYOND thrilled that she will be able to share this special weekend with me. My husband will be coming up Sunday afternoon – so two of the most important people in my life will be close to the finish line waiting for me. We will be returning home shortly after the race on Monday (I will likely go to hotel to take a bath/shower and then we will return home).

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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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            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 NYC Trail Festival 25k

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                For weeks, I envisioned myself setting a 5k PR this past weekend. I had found a great, flat 5k course relatively close to my home and with a few 4 and 5 mile tempo runs (during Wineglass training) that were pretty close to my 5k pace (~12 seconds/mile), felt that with the shorter distance, fresh legs and flat course, a 5k PR was well within grasp.

                But a couple of weeks ago, the desire to race a 5k started to disappear. The logistics of the race were not as easy as I had anticipated plus I realized it fell on the same weekend as the NYC Trail Festival, a local trail race that I participated in four years ago. I LOVED the race, course and entire experience when I ran it in 2011 – and each year, keep it as a possibility on my race/training calendar. Two years ago, I was making a silly attempt at a marathon PR (in Rehoboth) the same weekend. Last year, my husband and I planned to run the 25k together, but the forecast called for rain the day before and on race day – and since neither of us spend a lot of time on the trails, we were both worried about the slippery leaves and the likely chance of an injury for one or both of us.

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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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                          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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                              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 Weekend

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                                I’ve wanted to share the details of this past weekend since I returned early Tuesday morning but my focus for the last few days was on spending as much time as possible with the boys and my in-laws (who arrived Wednesday AM from Alaska!). 

                                My heart is full of gratitude for the opportunity to participate in this program with Saucony and Competitor, happiness for my sister and the other first-time marathoners who dealt with high winds and a tough course on Sunday and love for the other ladies who I was lucky enough to share three days with. It felt like a girls weekend in Hawaii – with a 26.2 mile run thrown in for fun.

                                The selfish part of me wishes my sister and I could have stayed longer – but for many reasons (work for her, my in-laws arriving from Alaska for me), we were on the first flight out of Honolulu Monday morning (630am – which was painfully early after 26.2 miles the day before). But I was glad to be going home. I always look forward to having some adult time away from the boys, but I miss them like crazy when I’m away from them. Four full days was enough for me.

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                                  Falmouth Race Recap

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                                  This about sums up how I felt for most of the race

                                  Sunday was such an amazing day and I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in such a historic and celebrated event. (If you are unfamiliar with the history of the race, you can read about it here.)

                                  Unfortunately, it was not a good day of racing for me. It was a start too fast, crash on the hills, crash a little harder from the heat/humidity and suffer for about 50% of the race. Before I get into the racing specifics, I wanted to share an overview of the day.

                                  Race Morning

                                  Wakeup was scheduled for 5am but ended up being around 4:30am when my oldest son decided it was a good time to start the day. And the whole room was awake by 5! The good news is that I didn’t have to fumble around in the dark trying to be quiet. The bad news is that I left my husband with a dog and two tired kids while I went and raced. I had some coffee, got dressed and made my way down to the lobby by 5:45am to meet Chris (who was also racing) for our hour+ drive to the Cape.

                                  We were parked and walking to the bus-pickup by 7:15am. Falmouth is a point-to-point race – and so they offer a bus shuttle from the finish area (where you park) to the start line. I was blown away by how organized and quick the pick up area was. The bus dropped us off just up the road from the start area. From there, we did a short warmup run to a friend’s hotel room to pick up our bibs (huge thanks to Tim for picking them up for us on Saturday!).

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                                    2014 Rivertown StrollerDerby + Entry Giveaway

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                                    I enjoy running with the boys in the stroller although I don’t do it as frequently as I would like since I’m focused on marathon training (and would prefer to run the prescribed pace and distance). I’ve run one race (fun run) with the stroller and LOVED it. I would definitely do more races with a stroller if they were allowed – but a lot of the races I’ve signed up for often prohibit the use of strollers (which is understandable if the course is tight).

                                    And I’ve never participated in an event where there was a special stroller division (although I know some races have these). Which is why I love what my friend Lindsay is organizing! Enter the Rivertown Strollerderby! Not only are strollers allowed at this race, but they take center stage with the chance to win up to $1,000 (top three finishers w/ strollers win $). Highlights from the website:

                                    • Date: Sunday, September 21 at 9am
                                    • Location: Hastings on Hudson (just 29 miles north of Grand Central)
                                    • What: A unique race event designed to encourage moms and dads to keep pushing after baby.
                                    • Who can participate: All runners and walkers are encouraged to participate (even if you don’t have children or a stroller!)
                                    • Prizes: Stroller runners take center stage here, with an opportunity to win cash prizes up to $1,000.
                                    • Proceeds: All proceeds from the event will be donated to the national non-profit, Family-to-Family, to launch a fitness/running program for disadvantaged mothers in the New York area.
                                    • Post-Race: A family fitness festival will take place immediately post-race and will include a post-run yoga cool-down by Rivertown Mamas, a bounce house, trampolines, family-fitness demonstrations,  face-painting, health food vendors and more family fun.

                                    I had every intention of participating in and supporting this awesome event, but was already signed up for the RnR Philly Half Marathon (same day).

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                                      Anthony’s Run 5k Race Recap

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                                      Yesterday was my first 5k. Technically, it wasn’t my first – I ran one with the double stroller last summer and one two weekends ago with my niece. But it was the first I would be racing against myself.

                                      I woke up at 630am on Sunday when my oldest woke up – had some coffee, stretched a bit (my legs felt tight from all the “beach” volleyball we had played the day prior at our Father’s Day party) and tried to keep my feet up until it was time to get ready. I was unsure about how to fuel for the race and decided to base it on how I felt race morning. I am never hungry first thing in the AM – and I never eat before my morning runs. But, we were starting at 10am and I would be up for over 3 hours – so I definitely needed some calories. At 9:15am, I had 1/2 banana and a few spoonfuls of peanut butter and felt good. I didn’t want to eat too much and have stomach pains or other issues during the race, so I figured lighter options were probably best.

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                                        2014 New Jersey Marathon Recap

                                        The pain that is Mile 26 of  a marathon

                                        Sunday was a great day – and so close to being perfect (had I run just 27 seconds faster, I’d have a shiny new PR…so close, yet so far!). It was great for so many reasons – I ran smart. I didn’t bonk(!!).  I walked away with lessons learned, things to maintain and a couple of things to work on. And most importantly, I had fun.

                                        The more I race, the more I understand that a great race doesn’t always mean the fastest time on the clock. It’s about looking back on the race with ZERO regrets or saying I should have or could have done this. This was one of those races for me – something I haven’t experienced in the marathon since 2011. It gave me back confidence about myself, my ability to pace properly, to push hard when things got hard and to not give up.

                                        Race Week

                                        Before I get into the details of the race, I want to share some of what went on in the days leading up to the marathon. I did several things differently and plan to continue these for the next goal race:

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