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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          Wineglass Marathon Training Update (T-2)

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          The hay is in the barn, the money has been deposited…less than two weeks to go! Just one long tempo workout and a mid-ish distance run on Saturday and then nothing but short, easy runs before race day!

          This was a big week of running for me. At this point in training, there are no short speed workouts on the plan. No more 600s, 800s, mile repeats, two mile tempos. Those were to build speed. For the last few weeks, the focus has been on longer workouts that will make marathon pace feel easier – long steady state, longer tempos and longer tempo intervals. See the similarity? They are all LONG. These workouts have been sprinkled throughout the cycle and have been gradually building in length – and three of them culminated this week – longest steady state (12 miles), longest LT tempo (5 miles – total 11 miles) and longest long-run tempo (16 miles w/ 8 @ tempo). I’ve seen these workouts on the plan for several weeks now – and I’ve been a bit intimidated. Each of them, alone, is tough enough. But to have all three over the course of six days made it even more so.

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            16 Running Quotes To Motivate You For Your Next Run

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            This post was originally featured on Women’s Running (it can be found here).

            Sometimes it may be easy to find the motivation to get out the door at 5 a.m., set out for a long run in the summer heat or to move on from a workout that didn’t go as planned. However there may be some days where the motivation just isn’t there. I’m with you. Some days I need a little external motivation—and often, it comes in the simple form of someone else’s words.

            Below are 16 running quotes that help me when I need that little extra bit of push to keep moving forward.

            Winning the Mental Battle

            “Running is nothing more than a series of arguments between the part of your brain that wants to stop and the part that wants to keep going.” — Unknown

            “Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.” — George S Patton

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              Wineglass Training Update – T-6: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

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              Last week was another solid week of training for Wineglass. Through Saturday, I had run 61 miles over 6 days with intentions of 5 recovery miles on Sunday – which would have made it my highest mileage week this cycle (66). But I woke up Sunday and my left foot was hurting. The pain was on the top part of my foot – towards the middle to outside part. It didn’t hurt to the touch nor was it swollen. But there was this sharp pain that came and went throughout the day.

              My plan was to just let it be for a couple of hours and then try my run, but the pain had not subsided by 11am, so it became an unplanned rest day and panic started to set in.

              I don’t run through pain. On a day-to-day basis, nothing hurts when I run – nor before or after. So anytime there is even a small amount of pain or even something that just feels “off”, I don’t run. It’s just not worth it to me.

              I woke up Monday and the pain was still there – not nearly as strong, but enough where I felt it was not smart to force an easy-paced run. Coach recommended that I start some contrast therapy – ice, warm water, ice – and so that’s what I did. Thankfully, there was no pain for the rest of the day nor Tuesday morning when I woke up to run – so I ran…pain free! Hoping (fingers crossed) that it was just a cranky tendon (as Coach called it).

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                Why Your 1st Mile is the Most Important

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                This post was originally featured on Women’s Running (can be found here).

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                For years, I thought that the most important mile of each run and race was the last one. That’s the true sign of how the run went, right? If you finish fast and strong – and most importantly, feeling good – it’s likely you will put that effort into the “good run” category, regardless of how much of the run went well up until that point. But if you are hurting, slowing down or are counting the seconds until the run is over, it’s likely going to be a run you soon hope to forget.

                It’s easy to judge an entire run by that last mile. But I’d argue that it’s not the most important mile.

                These days, I put a whole lot more focus and effort into the first mile. Run that first mile too fast (which is SO easy to do, especially in a race environment) and the rest of the run could end up being pure torture.

                For everyday training runs, that first mile is my warmup. I aim for it to be my slowest mile of the day. It’s a mile where I let my joints shake out any lingering aches or stiffness, where my heart gets alerted that it’s about to do some work and where I give my body the time it needs to get adequately warmed up.

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                  A Successful Tempo on Roads – Finally!

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                  Head over to my friend, Lottie’s blog (Running On Veggies) to check out my Workout Wednesday Feature! I’m sharing what a typical day looks like for me – training, food, activities and so on!

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                  So, I FINALLY nailed a LT tempo outside. After two failed tempo attempts the last couple of weeks (a 4 mile LT tempo and 8 mile AT tempo), I was both excited and nervous when I saw this little beast on the training schedule – it’s a short, but intense tempo.

                  For those that have been reading here for a while, you may know that I have a much easier time with workouts on the treadmill – even with the treadmill at 1%. I don’t know what it is but I can run paces on the treadmill that I can only dream about outside. And so, I am always much more inclined to give in and use the treadmill on workout days.

                  But the reality is that I don’t race on the treadmill. I race on the roads. And that is where I need to practice these paces. And to get the confidence that I CAN run these paces. So when I start to get tired or question my ability during a race, I can pull from these workouts.

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                    Wineglass Marathon Training (T-8, T-7)

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                    How is it possible that my fall marathon is just over SIX weeks away? That seems so close and between a trip to San Francisco for a good friend’s wedding, school starting, potential start of full-time work for me (more on that later), I know the next few weeks are going to fly by.

                    Two weeks since my last update. Lots of tough but successful runs that are getting me excited to lay it all out there in six weeks. Here are the highlights:

                    10 mile steady state miles – Getting comfortable at a moderate pace
                    First steady state run this cycle. Steady state pace is a tough one for me. It’s slower than tempo but faster than an easy run. You should feel a bit uncomfortable the whole run, but not pushing too hard. You want to get a good workout in but not feel wiped at the end. Goal pace was 7:30-7:40. I tried to stay there but found it was easier to keep pace just under 7:30 (I felt like I was actually fighting my body to keep it above 7:30), so I went with it.

                    The hardest part for me was jumping into that pace. I typically take a few miles to find my rhythm – my first mile is usually between 8:15-8:30 so to start at 7:30 was challenging – and the hardest mile for me. But, I finally settled in and found a good rhythm. 10 total miles – 7:26 pace. Splits: 7:29, 7:29, 7:26, 7:28, 7:26, 7:23, 7:29, 7:22, 7:26, 7:21.

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                      Bugaboo Runner Review

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                      A couple of months ago, I was contacted by Bugaboo and asked if I wanted to review the newest model in their stroller line – the Bugaboo Runner! Stroller running is still a large part of my training – although lately, it’s been so incredibly warm that the stroller runs are limited!

                      When my husband and I were creating a registry for our first child, we looked at Bugaboo strollers. I loved so many things about them but there wasn’t a running stroller in the Bugaboo line. We had decided to register for one stroller and use it for everything – walks, trips to the mall and park and running – so it needed to be versatile enough to do it all.

                      That’s where the Bugaboo runner comes in.

                      The Bugaboo Runner is specially designed for running/jogging to deliver the smoothest run possible. It has 3 large wheels with air-filled tires and a fixed front wheel which gives you a smooth, straight run with utmost stability. (Source: Bugaboo.com)

                      For parents who already own Bugaboo strollers you would only need to purchase the Bugaboo Runner Chassis. The Bugaboo Runner is a separate chassis designed purely for running and is compatible with:
                      (1) Bugaboo Cameleon³ seat
                      (2) Bugaboo Bee (2010 model and onwards) seat
                      (3) Bugaboo Donkey seat – version 1.1*
                      (4) Bugaboo Buffalo seat

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                        Fall Marathon Plans + Back Home!

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                        If there’s one thing I’ve learned about planning your racing calendar out, it’s that it’s not set in stone…not even your goal race.

                        Last fall, I had my eyes on the Wineglass Marathon in October, but after a few weeks during the late summer where I wasn’t feeling great and wasn’t up to long runs, I decided to forego Wineglass and chose the Potomac River Run Marathon in November – which gave me an extra 5-6 weeks of training.

                        Earlier this year, I signed up for Wineglass again. I wanted that to be my goal race this fall, but after Saucony reached out to me to be part of the 26 Strong program again, I decided, once again, to forego Wineglass and choose a later marathon. I had entry to NYC Marathon, so decided that would be my goal race with the Chicago Marathon with Ruth (as part of 26 strong) as a long training run.

                        But there’s been this nagging feeling in my stomach about the fall that I couldn’t shake. My worry is that running 26.2 miles in Chicago with Ruth could jeopardize NYC three weeks later. I’m not the type of runner who can run 26.2 miles and recover and then RACE 26.2 miles soon after. I’m concerned that there will be some fatigue from Chicago that is lingering by the time NYC rolls around.

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                          Training Highlights + Garmin Forerunner 225 Giveaway!

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                          Hello from Alaska!! We are two weeks into our three week vacation and having an absolute blast. The last 15 days have been filled with nothing but outdoor adventures, delicious food, beautiful weather and time with family.

                          Running and training have gone exceptionally well, especially given that we are on vacation. I’m always cautious about training during vacation. It’s definitely a fine line – I want to maximize time with family but I also want to maintain my fitness and momentum with training.

                          I’m thankful that my husband and in-laws are supportive and encouraging of my running. Out of the 15 days we’ve been here, I’ve run 13 – the two missed days were because of jet lag (the 2nd day) and a packed day of hiking and driving last week. But several of the runs have been cut short – by 1-3 miles – because of shortage of time or just lack of interest to be gone for 70+ minutes at a time when the weather is nice and there are fun activities to do. And I mostly have eliminated core and strength work and cross training for the time being.

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                            Hydration Help + Stopping During Long Runs

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                            First sunrise run in a while!

                            I always blog a lot less when I’m in between training cycles. I guess I just feel like there isn’t much exciting training to share, so why bother sharing anything? But I also know it’s helpful to share all the details of training – not just when things are going great or I’m logging 20 mile runs.

                            I’m still in the building stage from Boston. I’m up to about 45-50 miles/week and have been enjoying the fewer miles, shorter long runs and lazy mornings. But NYC is rapidly approaching and training will really start to pick up soon, so I’m trying to get back into routine of early morning running as well as core and strength work regularly.

                            I had been planning to run the Memorial Day 4 miler for months. After a few days off for my hamstring pain, I was ready to give Monday a go. But, my coach and I made the call Saturday afternoon to scrap the race. I felt no hamstring pain – and hadn’t for several days / runs. But there were points where it felt tight – and my gut was telling me not to chance things on a race that wasn’t even a goal race.

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                              Recovery + Weekend Fun

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                              Hibachi with my sons and niece!

                              This past week was wonderful. No running, sleeping in (well, until the boys wook up at 5:45/6am), drinking wine every night and eating whatever I had a hankering for (which seemed to be a lot of chocolate and french fries).

                              I woke up incredibly sore on Tuesday – more sore than I ever remember being post-marathon. Tuesday and Wednesday were just painful – the stairs mocked me each time I was on them. But it was a happy kind of pain – I still don’t think the smile has left since last Monday!

                              I didn’t do much moving at all on Tuesday (which was necessary!). Wednesday, the boys and I went to the zoo for a few hours. It felt good (yet still a bit painful) to walk around – but it was too gorgeous of a day to keep them inside!

                              I got on the bike on Thursday and Friday and did 30 min of easy spinning (didn’t even break a sweat) just to get my legs moving. No core work. No strength work. No running.

                              Saturday was my first run. 4 achy, not-so-great miles. No garmin but I think it was about 9-9:15 pace. My quads still felt a little sore – I felt fine walking and assumed the run would be okay – but it was clear I needed another day or so of recovery. (I took Sunday off and ran 5 miles yesterday which felt much better.)

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                                Mentally Training for Boston

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                                (Some of the below was part of a post I wrote for Women’s Running)

                                If you have been following me on social media or reading here for a bit, you probably know that I am not the strongest racer. It’s been a frustrating couple of years for me. I have these strong, successful training cycles (and yes, they ARE successful cycles even if I didn’t reach my goal on race day). I work my butt off during the cycle, but there was always something missing as each race began— and as a result, I came up well short of my goal.

                                The mental strength was missing. I had spent months strengthening my body— nailing workouts, completing long runs. But I paid zero attention to the mental side of running. As a result, I was not prepared to quiet the negative thoughts when they started creeping in during the later miles of the marathons. My mind would quit long before my body was ready to. Once the mind gives up, the body doesn’t stand a chance.

                                Learn to use your mind or your mind will use you. Actions follow our thoughts and images. Don’t look where you don’t want to go. – Gary Mack

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                                  Life Lately + Entering Taper

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                                  He’s in his bathing suit – it’s an Easter tradition in our family (since I was a little girl) that the Easter Bunny brings your first new bathing suit for the upcoming summer!

                                  Hope you and your loved ones had a wonderful Easter! We started off the day with baskets, an egg hunt and lots of candy and chocolate.

                                  Shortly after the festivities, I headed out for my last long run – 18 miles. I can’t say it was a great run. It was incredibly windy (weather app said ~20 mph winds) but it seemed to be gusting MUCH stronger for a lot of the run. And it never seemed to be at my back. It was just one of those runs where you just want it to be over. Lately, I’ve been feeling really bored and lonely for the longer runs and would love to have a friend to chat with and keep the miles easy and relaxed.

                                  The plan for yesterday’s run was 14 moderate pace and then 4 fast finish. Well, the fast finish didn’t happen. I guess technically it did happen because I pushed harder those last 4 miles, but I didn’t come even remotely close to the paces that my coach had scheduled for me. I’m chalking it up to the crappy wind.

                                  18 total miles – 7:52 pace. Ran blind for the first 14 and then spent 4 miles staring at my Garmin hoping the miles would tick by faster (and that my pace would drop). Neither happened.

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                                    7 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Running (Women’s Running)

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                                    This was one of the most enjoyable and fun posts to write – seven things I WISH (!!!) I knew when I started running.

                                    I’ve been running consistently for almost twelve years – and longer distances for about eight. I am certainly not an expert, but I have made – and learned from – my share of mistakes over the years. Looking back, there are so many things I wish I had known or been told when I first started. And so I wanted to share some of these things with you, in case they might help you avoid the same mistakes!

                                    • You should never go “all-out” in a workout. For a long time, I felt that unless I was soaked in sweat, dry heaving on the side of the road or treadmill, it wasn’t a good workout. I felt like I was in race mode every single day. Save the racing and all-out exertion for the race. That’s when it matters. You’ll get burnt out or get injured in no time if you are constantly racing yourself in training.
                                    • Running slow won’t make you slow. It sounds silly now, but I truly believed that if I took it easy during a run, I would become more comfortable running slow. Therefore when it was time to race, I would run slower. I didn’t understand that the easy, slower days were so important. It’s necessary to let your body recover from the hard workouts. Now I look forward to the easy days – it’s a time to enjoy the run, the company and the scenery all around me without worrying about pace.
                                    • Embrace Patience. It’s not always easy to maintain but having patience will pay off in the long run. Take it day by day. Do not expect to see results overnight, especially when you are just starting out. Patience with getting faster, patience with increasing mileage, patience with racing, patience with coming back after an injury. Patience will prevent injury, and will keep you running as the days and years go by.
                                    • There’s so much more to running than running. For years, I would run early in the mornings and that would be it. No other activities, no other things to prevent or decrease the chance of injury, nothing to get me stronger. These days the running aspect of training is about half of what goes on during the week. I include things like cross training, strength and core work, Epsom salt baths, stretching and ice baths. All of these things will only add to your performance and longevity as a runner.
                                    • Don’t run through pain. It seems obvious, but I’m sure many of us have been there. We feel a dull ache or pain, and reason with ourselves that somehow running on it or through it will make it magically disappear. Been there, done that and the pain just gets worse. Now I am not afraid to make it a rest day, or to cross-train, if something seems to be off. I’d much rather take one or two preventative days off then be forced to take weeks off due to a major injury.
                                    • The right shoe isn’t about which looks best. My first pair of running shoes was not selected because of fit. It was the one I liked the best on the sporting goods store shelf. I’d recommend that you head to an actual running store where the workers are actual runners. They are knowledgeable and will be able to fit you with the proper shoe.
                                    • Finish time predictors are just an estimate. A few years ago, I had my sights set on a lofty marathon goal. I used one of the online pace calculators to determine what pace I should be running my tempos, intervals, long and easy runs. By the end of the training cycle, I was hitting all the paces and went after that time on race day. However, I didn’t take into account a few important things – most notably that my long run endurance just wasn’t there yet. It was my first training cycle since having my second baby. While I ran a handful of 18-22 milers, my body was still getting comfortable with those longer distances. As as result, I started way too fast on race day and ended with my first DNF (did not finish). Lesson learned.

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                                      Remaining Optimistic

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                                      Well, it’s been a while since I did a training update. The #1 reason is because there hasn’t been a whole lot of training going on. I feel like I jinxed myself when I was talking about how great training was going. No less than two weeks ago, I started thinking about how I haven’t missed a single long run this training cycle – something that has actually never happened before. And then it happened. #ugh

                                      But I’m getting ahead of myself. I wrote on Tuesday that I was feeling a hundred times better and ready to jump back into training. Monday’s run was great – 12 miles with lots of hill repeats. I woke up Tuesday and felt a bit achy and just blah so I put off my run until the afternoon. It was warm (55) but windy as heck – 25-30 mph winds. I ran 8 miles and almost immediately upon finishing, knew that something was wrong. I had a pounding headache and just felt fatigued – not the way I normally feel after 8 easy-paced miles.

                                      My husband left on a business trip for the week shortly after I returned from that run and I welcomed what has been a week-long bug. Vomiting, high fever (104-105 at night), body aches, fatigue, coughing, congestion. All of it at once. The first few days were awful – I kept expecting to wake up the next day and feel better, but it actually got worse. I think what made it the hardest, however, was solo parenting for the week while dealing with this bug. The boys watched A LOT of tv because I was too sick to even get off the couch some days.

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                                        Unplanned Easy Week

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                                        Each marathon training cycle has it’s ups and downs. There are good weeks, bad weeks. Great runs, not-so-great runs. It’s all part of a normal, healthy training cycle.

                                        I’d like to think that I push myself pretty hard on my “on” days – intervals, tempos, long runs. I’ve been seeing some good improvement with paces, endurance and recovery times.

                                        But the last few weeks have been different. I have had no desire, energy or motivation to push when I reached the point in workouts where things get tough. And I’ve just quit. Gotten off the treadmill, hit “stop” on my garmin. And called it a day.

                                        It started the week we were in Florida during my 3×2 workout. I chalked it up to being tired from vacation and all the walking around we were doing in Disney. Then, I had a great 1 mile race that weekend and felt like I was ready to go full-force the last six weeks of Boston training. I had a solid week of training – logged the planned miles, hit the paces in workouts and felt good.

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