Race Recap: 2016 Willow 4 miler + Winning my First Race!

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Years and years ago when I lived in Texas, I won a couple of trail races. My husband and I did a 10 mile in Waco and half marathon trail race around Dallas and I was the overall female winner of both. But since moving back east, I haven’t really won any races – even some of the small, local ones, despite my being fitter and faster than I was back then.

I’ve also never flat out won a race before (overall male and female). Until this past 4th of July.

But let me be completely honest here. It was a small race. Super duper small. Like <50 runners, small. I knew I had a good chance of being the overall female winner but winning the race, outright, was a nice surprise.

We learned about this race from my sister-in-law. She mentioned the kids 1k race and I then saw that there was also a 4 mile race.

Initially, I planned on doing a long run on Friday or Saturday and then racing/running as hard as I could on tired legs on Monday. But, running in the days leading up to the race was a bust – Friday was a very late afternoon run so I didn’t start Saturday’s run until later in the day. I felt like garbage from the moment I woke up and then long run only lasted 1.5 miles (I called my husband to come get me b/c I didn’t even feel like I wanted to run back to the house). I decided to make Sunday a forced rest day. I felt a bit under the weather and didn’t see the need or have the desire to push myself. A. I’m on vacation. B. I’m not training for anything at the moment. So sleep, family time and wine won out over a long run.

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    My Three-Year Old’s FIRST Race!

    Right before vacation, I shared the details of my oldest son’s first race – the local Father’s Day 5k! The funny thing is that I mentioned in the post (and telling loads others) that the perfect distance for the boys would be anywhere from a 1k to a 1 mile race but that we were hard pressed to find a race of that distance.

    So you can understand my excitement when we found out about a 4th of July Kids Race while we were on vacation. It was only 5 minutes from my in-laws home in Willow, Alaska – and it was a 1K (~.6 miles). My youngest (will be 4 in September) was so disappointed that he was not able to run the Father’s Day 5k. My heart broke for him. He wants to do everything my oldest does – and 99% of the time blows me and my husband away because he is able to. But, I felt that a 5k for him was waaaay too long. I wanted his first race to be something manageable for him. So the 1K was perfect!

    The boys were incredibly excited for the race – and to race with their cousins! We made a stop at Target two days before to get some patriotic shirts for them – and outfits for the girls!

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      Back Home + Alaska Highlights

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      I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since I last updated here! After a crazy couple of months of work, I was beyond ready to have two weeks of vacation in Alaska with my family! With the exception of a day here or there, this was my first real break from work since returning to work full-time in October – and I was oh-so-ready for it.

      To maximize time in Alaska, we chose a late afternoon flight that basically flew through the night and got us in at 1am (Alaska time; 5am – NYC time). To save a vacation day, I worked from home on the day we left – right up until it was time to go to the airport. Remind me never to do this again. The day was beyond crazy. Between getting up at the normal time (4am) to fit in a workout, starting work around 7:30am so I could be finished by 12:30pm and being packed and out the door for the airport by 1:15pm. But in the middle was all the little things I needed to fit in – straightening up, doing one last load of laundry, clearing out the fridge, washing everything in the sink. After two weeks of vacation and a red-eye flight to return home, I knew the last thing I wanted was to walk in to a messy house.

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        My Son’s First 5k + Age and Distance for Kids?

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        On Sunday, my five year old ran his first race – the Staten Island Father’s Day 5k. I honestly had no intention of him or me running this race. Just recently, he has shown an interest in running – and we’ve begun doing some short runs together here and there when he’s up for it or asks me. Most runs are anywhere from 1-2 miles with some short walk breaks in the middle.

        The Father’s Day 5k race has become one of my favorite local races. It’s as local as you can get. We live less than a block from the main road on Staten Island – and the race is an out and back on that main road with the start/finish being one block away from our house (inside an area called Mt. Loretto). It’s that close. It’s well organized, a fun, but challenging route and the logistics make it just too easy to pass up.

        I had casually asked him earlier in the week if he wanted to do the race with me but he said he wanted to next year when he was older. So I left it at that. I won’t push either of my boys into anything that they don’t 100% want to do.

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          “I’ll Have Another” Podcast with Lindsey Hein!

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          Hello and Happy, Happy Friday!! I’m so pumped for the weekend – especially since it’s supposed to absolutely gorgeous! I’m looking forward to relaxing a ton, some running, pool and sun time and some bbq’ing with my whole family on Sunday to celebrate Father’s Day. If you happen to be one of the 5 (maybe 10? haha) men who read this blog and are a dad (of a human or furry friend!), Happy Father’s Day!!

          I’m super excited to share my interview that I had with my good friend, Lindsey, last weekend! I know I mentioned it here already, but if you are into podcasts, definitely check out Lindsey’s I’ll Have Another podcast. Every single episode I have listened to has been amazing – the interviews feel like a couple of friends are sitting in your living room chatting about running, families, work or whatever other topic it may be.

          Lindsey and I chat about everything from my time at West Point and the Army, being a stay at home mom with the boys, starting this blog (4.5 years ago!), training for an Ironman, returning to work and life/running lately.

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            Why Not You??

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            This post initially appeared on Women’s Running. It can be found here.

            When my sisters and I were younger, my mom would always ask us Why not you? whenever we began to doubt ourselves.

            You want to play (insert sport here)?

            You want to go to (insert college here)?

            You want to do x, y or z?

            Why not you?

            She wanted me and my sisters to believe that we could do whatever we wanted and that anything was attainable – as long as we put our mind and hearts into it.

            Her thought was that if someone else can do it, why can’t you?

            It was about teaching us that nothing should be viewed as impossible.

            You can’t control the gifts or natural abilities you were given. BUT, you can control how hard you work for something. You may not pick it up immediately or as fast as others. It may take you longer. It may take more tears and/or sweat. And that’s okay – because the end result is still the same.

            (Note: there were plenty of times when we set our sights on things and came up short. My mom would ask us if we tried our best. As long as we did, it was still a success and something to be proud of.)

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              2016 Memorial Day 4 Miler

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              Snuggles with my adorable 4.5 month old nephew!

              Happy Tuesday, friends! I hope you all had a wonderful long weekend.

              As my husband and I were getting ready for bed last night, we kind of looked around the house and realized we didn’t really get anything we had planned to get done this weekend. I worked from home on Friday and then we had the long weekend – we had intentions to do massive cleaning – both inside and outside the home, go through toys in the playroom, get caught up with laundry (and folding). And very little of that got done.

              Instead, the weekend was filled with lots and lots of family time. We spent 8+ hours over my sister’s home in NJ on Saturday, 3 hours mid-day with my sister and her family on Sunday, several hours with them again Sunday evening, and then 5 hours with my entire family on Monday over my other sister’s home.

              Below are just a few snapshots of the time together:

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              After a decent speed session last week (and my first since Boston), I decided to run in Monday’s Memorial Day 4 miler. I knew it wasn’t going to be the time I had initially hoped for, but wanted to run hard and at least get an idea of where I am right now. However, coach and I agreed to not taper at all for this race – so I ran Wednesday – Sunday, including speed on Thursday and 10 miles (currently my “long” run) on Saturday. I knew my legs would be a bit fatigued but it wasn’t a goal race and my focus for the time being is just getting back into a good routine of weekly mileage.

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                Get Speedy with These Four Interval Workouts

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                This post first appeared on Women’s Running (It can be found here). 

                One of the best ways to become faster, stronger or to increase endurance is by incorporating some speed work into your weekly routine. But it can be extremely overwhelming if you’re not familiar with the terminology or have never tried any types of speed work before.

                But it doesn’t have to be as complicated as it may seem. One of the best ways to introduce faster running into your routine (without it being so structured) is through intervals.

                Intervals consist of repeated short segments of fast running separated by slow jogging or complete rest. The intervals allow you to run much faster than you usually do, adapting your body to higher demands and your leg muscles to faster turnover. Over time, you become more physiologically efficient. Intervals increase your overall speed.

                Related: 6 Ways To Build Endurance and Increase Mileage

                While there are structured workouts (for example: 400m or mile repeat repeats), you can do intervals in a more informal way. And you don’t even need a watch for some of these!

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                  Learning to Trust the Process

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                  If you receive Women’s Running (and you should!), check out page 8 of the magazine! I’m beyond excited to share the ads that I got to be a part of in February! There will be another ad or two in the coming months and the two 3-minute videos from the photo shoot should be released soon!

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                  #Trusttheprocess has been one of my favorite hashtags to use on Instagram and twitter the last few months.

                  I honestly don’t remember where I first heard or saw this phrase, but it struck a chord and has become one of the mantras I repeat to myself when things are tough or I’m questioning why I’m going to do a workout.

                  Trusting the process.

                  But what is the process?

                  The process is the training. The recovery. The racing. The (seemingly) little things. The doing.

                  It’s a process to get where you want to go. It won’t happen overnight so sometimes the best thing you can do is just chip away a little bit at a time. Sub-3:10 has been a big goal of mine for years. I stopped trying to do it all at once (because it wasn’t working) and started focusing on just training hard and letting paces, times and everything else fall into place when they are ready. I’ve chipped away the last two marathons and am hopeful that I’ve set myself up to achieve this goal in two weeks.

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                    Having a Short Term Memory with Failed Workouts

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                    Tuesday morning I had an 8 mile wave tempo (11-12 total miles). I was pumped for the workout because I LOVE wave tempos (more on these workouts in a coming post!). But after the 2 mile warm-up and then the first 2 mile wave, I didn’t feel great and decided to pull the plug.

                    After a crappy workout or one where it gets cancelled, I try to spend a few minutes to determine what the root cause could be. These are the questions I ask myself:

                    Have I drank enough water?
                    Have I gotten enough sleep?
                    Did I fuel properly yesterday/today for this run?

                    95% of the time, it’s one of those three things for me. If it’s not one of those, than it could be a sign of overtraining or your body needing a day off.

                    But after those few minutes, I forget about the workout. I move on.

                    Bad workouts happen. Period.

                    I shared this photo on Instagram yesterday and was blown away by the positive response I got.

                    The reality is that I often talk about feeling tired and pushing through or not having a great workout but still finishing. And that is what happens sometimes. BUT, there are days, like yesterday, where my mind wins and my body just does not want to do the workout. I wanted to share what happened because nobody will ever nail every workout and it’s misleading to only share the good.

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                      Learning to Race Well + Post-Boston Racing Plans + RnR Coupon Code!

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                      I don’t post here every day, but you can find my daily running, thoughts and tips on Instagram!

                      It’s no secret that the more you do something, the better at it you become. Want to swim better? Get in the pool and start swimming. Want to perfect a dish? Keep cooking it and making small improvements.

                      And so, in order to race well, the best thing to do is to jump in and race.

                      The reality is, no matter how hard and well you train, if you are a poor racer, you may never see the results of your work. Things like fueling improperly, going out too fast, overdressing, not being comfortable with the taper and letting the negative thoughts come into your mind can all be honed by racing.

                      I don’t know if I would call myself a great racer, but I’ve made a lot of progress the last couple of years and can confidently say that I am a light years ahead of where I was two or three years ago.

                      The more you race, the more you can take away from each experience. Find what works well. What things you need to improve upon. A bad race, while unfortunate in the short-term, will provide you a lot of insight into things you probably don’t want to do again. And can be a great tool to use in the long-term. Use it as a learning experience – write those nuggets of wisdom you learned down – and then move on.

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                        Treadmill Running Tips + Workouts to Make the Time Fly

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                        This post originally appeared on Women’s Running.

                        Whether it’s the dark mornings, the below freezing weather or the icy roads, many of us may be forced into treadmill workouts over the next few months as training for spring races begins to pick up.

                        Treadmill running has a stigma of being boring and monotonous – and it definitely can be – but there are ways to make the time on the “hamster wheel” challenging and even fun! Below are some tips to help you get through your treadmill runs followed by a great hill workout and a handful of butt-kicking workouts from a few of the Saucony 26 Strong coaches. These speedy ladies have all logged their share of miles on treadmills and are pros at making the time pass quickly while getting an awesome workout in. I also post a bunch of workouts I complete on the treadmill – you can find me here.

                        Variation: I try to mimic running on the roads when I am on the treadmill. I never run on a flat terrain and/or the exact same pace for more than a few minutes. Play around with the incline and/or the pace, even if it’s just picking up or slowing down the pace by a few seconds. This does two things: it keeps me distracted and it helps change up the muscles I am using.

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                          Things I’ve Learned Since Returning to Work

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                          So, I’ve been working outside the home for almost 6 months now. It’s definitely one of those weird time paradigms because it seems like I just started but I also can’t imagine my days/life without this job.

                          Things are going extremely well. I’ve settled into a good routine and I whole-heartedly enjoy what I’m doing on a day-to-day basis. I’m excited to start and build a career here. And it’s more than just a job for me now – it’s a social experience, too, which makes going to work enjoyable and even fun.

                          I wanted to share some of my thoughts – things I’m loving and not loving – about working.

                          Eliminate or cut back on the time sucks. This isn’t a nice to do, it’s a must do. I’ve cut back tremendously on the things that suck time out of my day – especially in the mornings when I’m rushing around and in the evening when I’m home and spending uninterrupted time with my boys. Prepping things like work and running clothes, coffee, lunch bags for the boys, lunch for me all save my husband and I a great amount of time in the mornings. I also don’t check social media or do much of anything on my phone until I am on the bus. It’s so easy to plan to check one thing and then 15 minutes later, the phone is still in your hand.

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                            2016 Boston Marathon Training (T-8, T-7, T-6)

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                            Three week update coming at you today. Life, family and a lot of work got in the way of the last two week’s updates. Work has been nuts. But in a really good, challenging and rewarding way. I’m filling in a good number of the responsibilities of a coworker while she is away on vacation – so the days have been packed and long. By the time I get home at the end of the day, spend some time with my boys, have dinner and put them to sleep, I’m ready for bed. I don’t even open my laptop during the week!

                            And the weekends have been filled with lots of family time. My entire family came over last Sunday for an informal dinner and then this past weekend we were in NJ both days – celebrating my mom’s birthday on Saturday at my sister’s home and then taking all the kids to see the Easter Bunny at the Menlo Mall on Sunday.

                            I’m at the point in training where things are clicking, the mileage and intensity feel tough but sustainable (for the short term) and I am experiencing some big fitness gains. My reaction is always to put my head down and keep working. It makes sense, right? But my coach had other plans for me two weeks ago. We skipped a long run in lieu of some extra down time. I think it worked well. I feel energized and rested the last couple of weeks and was ready to run hard for the 1 mile race. Only 4 weeks of hard training left.

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                              2016 Boston Marathon Training (T-9) + Break from Marathons + Benefit of Long Tempo

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                              Last week was the second week in a row where I went 5-for-5 with early morning wakeups (before work). I feel like I’m in a good groove with the mom/work/running balance. I know it won’t always feel like this so I’m trying to make the most of it while things are working well.

                              I’ve begun to look ahead and think about fall racing plans. I am leaning towards skipping a fall marathon this year. There are many reasons for this. Truth is, usually about 6-8 weeks out from a marathon, I start feeling like I will take a break, but the excitement and happiness from race day is usually enough to have me signing up for the next one. So I know part of my current thought process is affected by my current feelings towards long runs and the amount of time I’ve been dedicating to Boston.

                              But one of the biggest reasons is that I (currently) do not want to dedicate Saturday mornings for long runs. Now that I’m working out of the home during the week, our weekends, especially during the warmer months, will be when we do things – go to beach, go on day-trips and so on. I don’t want my training to infringe on those plans.

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                                2016 Boston Marathon Training (T-10) + How to Do Speedwork on Treadmill

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                                I hope you all had an amazing Valentine’s Day with the ones you love! My guys and I got to spend the evening out – all dressed up. It was a great way to spend the holiday!

                                So we are 9 weeks out from race day. After a less-than-ideal couple of weeks of training, last week was a solid and strong week back. 63+ miles over 7 days of running. Coach and I have left one day mid-week as an optional rest day. Last week was the first week in months where I felt that I didn’t need it. I usually take it because I’m tired from not enough sleep. But, everything flowed so effortlessly last week that I didn’t feel exhausted or that I needed a morning to sleep in. So I skipped the rest day and did an easy run. I definitely think that if time or sleep were not an issue, I would be able to run 7 days a week for a stretch of time. My body responded well to that in the summer/fall. But the reality is that not every week will look and feel like last week did.

                                Here’s how the week broke down:

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                                  My “normal” day as a working + running mom

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                                  I am five weeks into my new job and finally feel like I have a rhythm and routine that is sustainable and feasible – at least for the time being. I’m sure there will be obstacles or bumps along the way, but no sense worrying about how I’m going to get around them before they are even in my way.

                                  A lot of readers have asked what a typical day is like for me lately. I wanted to wait at least a month until the dust settled and I had a better handle on the day-to-day routine.  So here goes:

                                  3:45-4:10am: Wakeup. This varies based on the day, type of workout and number of miles I am planning to run. I make it as late as possible to squeeze out even an extra 10-15 minutes of sleep! Monday and Wednesday are usually my speed days and/or longer mileage days, so I tend to get up closer to 3:45 on those mornings.

                                  Coffee. My husband or I set it up the night before, so it’s all ready by the time I make it downstairs. I straighten up, empty the dishwasher and do little things around kitchen until coffee is ready. Some mornings my husband joins me. We sit, drink our coffee and enjoy the quiet morning – and then when I run, he goes up to his office and starts working.

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                                    Returning to Work + Juggling Training

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                                    So, I returned to full-time work (out of the house) three weeks ago. I haven’t worked outside the home in almost FIVE years. I realized I never really talked about what I did before I became a mom and began blogging, so here is the full story.

                                    I attended West Point for four years and then spent six amazing years in the Army. They were truly some of the most rewarding and exciting years of my life (I don’t know if there is any interest in what I did while I was in the military – please let me know if there is and I’ll talk about it in a separate post!).

                                    After leaving the Army and returning home to NYC, I felt pulled in two directions. Part of me wanted to continue what I had been doing for the previous six years in the Army. I had all this intelligence experience and absolutely loved my last position (Lethal Targeting Officer for the Division). And so that was what I initially pursued. I applied for and was offered a job as a DEA analyst in NYC. But during the pre-employment process, a private company approached me and offered me an amazing job. They were based in DC but were willing to set up a small office for me in NYC so I didn’t have to relocate. The idea of a corporate job + making a lot of money won me over and beat out continuing to work in intel and the government sector.

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                                      2015 Chicago Marathon Race Recap – Saucony 26 Strong

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                                      I had the honor of running side by side next to Ruth for 26.2 miles through the streets of Chicago on Sunday as she ran her first marathon. It was part of the Saucony 26 Strong program where Saucony partnered 13 “veteran” marathoners with 13 first-time marathoners – for coaching, advice and support over the last six months – with it culminating with the Chicago Marathon this past weekend.

                                      I am so inspired, impressed and motivated by Ruth. She decided only a few years ago that she wanted to run a marathon (I actually think that it was at the 2013 NYC Marathon when I met her for the first time!). She was a relatively new runner at the time and spent the last few years working on increasing her mileage. She ran her first half marathon last spring and then began the training for 26.2. I love that her age, situation (she’s a grandma!) or lack of running background dissuaded her from chasing down her goals. She set her eyes on the marathon finish line and trained her butt off the entire summer through the brutal heat and humidity – and even through a fall and stitches on her chin a few weeks ago! And I’m so proud to have been with her as she accomplished her dream on Sunday!

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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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