Sometimes You Just Need a Change…

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So, if you follow me on IG, you probably have seen me mention a new coach. Switching coaches was not a decision that came lightly to me. Coach Hadley had been my coach for two years and I really blossomed under his tutorage. I PRd in every distance I raced – from the mile to the 5k to the half marathon to the marathon.

So it may seem backwards that I changed coaches. (Note: I first decided to take a break from coaching. But after 3-4 weeks, I realized how much I missed the guidance, and direction that a coach provides. And so I felt like it was the right time to switch.) There were several reasons why I felt like it was a road I needed to take.

First, I felt like training had become a bit monotonous. Coach Hadley has a specific training outlook and consequently, my training plan from cycle to cycle was pretty identical. There were minor changes – more tempo miles, an extra mile for a long run. But the shell was the same. This resulted in several things. After two years of similar plans, I felt like I could predict the workouts, paces and plan, I felt like I was always comparing myself to a previous workour or cycle and most importantly, it was no longer fun and exciting.

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    Life Lately, News, Updates and More!

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    I realized the other day that I started blogging five years ago. Holy cow…that’s a long time. I also realized that I haven’t blogged in two months – the longest I have gone during my five years of oversharing (ha!).

    The truth is, the lack of blogging wasn’t initially an intentional action. It first started simply b/c I didn’t have time to write some updates or share some of the recent races I had run. The summer was hectic and the start of fall proved to be even more so. The boys started school (both full-time) which initially seemed like it would make life easier, but that’s not the case. Our sitter got a full-time job and so between my husband and I we are juggling full-time work with dropoffs, pickups, homework and all the after-school activities they participate in (note: my mom and dad help out a ton as well!). They both have soccer clinic on Saturday mornings. AJ has baseball 2-3x/week and soccer (on his school’s team) 2x/week. Basically every day includes some sort of post-school activity. Between their activities, schoolwork, house work (we do not have a cleaning woman so all the heavy cleaning, laundry, etc is done on the weekends), running and just living, blogging moved from the “have to” list to the “nice to do” list and eventually to the “not necessary” list.

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      2016 Brooklyn Mile Race Recap

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      I stumbled upon the inaugural Brooklyn Mile several weeks ago when I was searching for some shorter races to run before fall creeps in and knew that I wanted to run it. It sounded awesome – fairly local (about 45 min away), a good course and the option for my kids to run in a separate heat (if they wanted to).

      I brought it up to my husband and boys soon after – and both boys were pumped at the idea of their own special race. Kids are pretty funny – my oldest asked me how long it was. I told them it was a little longer than the race they did in Alaska but much, much shorter than the 5k my oldest and I did together in June. His response – “Oh that’s good. Because that was so hard, Mommy.” #motheroftheyear

      I finally got around to registering for the race last week and was stunned and honored when I received the email inviting me to the elite field. Local runners know just how many elite and professional runners are in the area – there are so many big named track clubs in/around NYC and I knew these ladies would be out in force for this race.

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        Life Lessons Learned From My First Ironman

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        Three years ago, today, I became an Ironman. This morning while I drank my coffee in the pre-dawn hours before my run, I spent some time on Facebook and Timehop. All the emotions of that day came roaring back as I looked at friends’ posts on my wall, the comments from friends and family and the amazing photos that my awesome sister uploaded in order to keep everyone updated.

        July 28, 2013 was one of the best days of my life – for so many reasons. Obviously being able to call myself an “Ironman” (and have it in my bio ) is a pretty sweet reward. But that day was so much more to me. I know I’m three years removed, but I wanted to share some of the lessons I learned from that experience.

        Wait for the fire. There was a marked moment when an Ironman went from being something fun to watch on TV to a fire in my stomach and something I wanted to do. For years, I would watch Kona on TV with my husband and talk about how cool it would be to do one one day. But that was it. A couple of days after the Ironman would air, doing one would be out of sight, out of mind. It was one of those “lifetime goals” that didn’t have any weight to it.

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          When Your Mind + Body Are Not On the Same Page

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          After each marathon training cycle, I find that my mind needs a break. Of course my body needs one, but I often find that my mind needs a longer one. A break from following a plan, figuring out how to rearrange all the puzzle pieces so I can fit in the necessary runs and from setting early AM alarms. I have found that it’s usually about 3-4 weeks of downtime. I am still running – but often, it’s a very “fly by the seat of your pants” kind of running. No set paces or distance – more just running what I feel up to running that day. More rest days.

          And then when my mind and heart decide it’s time to resume training, my body immediately gets on board and training picks up. It’s been this way for the last 3 or 4 marathon training cycles.

          This past April was completely different. My mind definitely need the normal break, but when I felt like I was ready to get back into things and resume training, my body was not ready – not even close to being ready.

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            Body and Weight Changes During and After a Training Cycle

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            **I don’t post here every day, but you can find me on Instagram sharing everything related to running!**

            I’m always hesitant to talk about body or weight-related topics because they are definitely touchy subjects! But I wanted to talk about some things that have been on my mind recently.

            I am almost two months removed from the Boston Marathon.

            My running during the peak of Boston training was around 65 mpw. These days, I’m anywhere from 20-40. No run has been longer than 11 miles. Very few have been beyond 10. (I’ll go into more details soon about how I’m feeling, what I’m doing / not doing, etc).

            I’m also not eating as “healthy” right now as I was several months ago. It means ice cream at night, muffins or donuts on the weekend with my little guys, frappacinos when I feel like it. I’m not eating until I’m nauseous but I’m allowing myself to eat all those things that I may have passed up during the peak part of my training.

            And I’m about 6-8 pounds heavier than I was three months ago. Now, I’m not saying I’m heavy or need to diet or anything like that. Not at all. But I am heavier. I can feel and see the weight gain. 6-8 pounds on my body is noticeable (to me). It’s about 5-7% of my total body weight.

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              Soccer Game tonight + Link to my 1st Video!!!

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              Hope you are all having a wonderful week – I am incredibly thankful that this is a short week!

              So first, head over to Instagram to enter an awesome giveaway I am hosting for some RX Bars (my favorite bars – EVER).

              My husband is a huge soccer fan (played D1 at West Point) and both of my boys are absolutely loving the sport. They play in a clinic/league twice/week and most afternoons are spent in the yard playing against one another. When they aren’t playing, they are asking my husband to put soccer on TV. SO, you can imagine my reaction when I was offered the opportunity to attend a NYCFC game tonight – with a pre-game on-field experience – at Yankee stadium! So we are obviously all going!! Should be a fun, amazing night for all of us!

              —–

              I’m incredibly excited to share the links to the video series that I was honored to be a part of. In the fall, I was contacted by reps from Competitor – asking me if I wanted to participate in a photo shoot / ad campaign for Choose Cherries. As I mentioned a few months ago, I had heard of the benefit of tart cherries / cherry juice but had never tried it before. I didn’t want to say yes b/c it seemed dishonest to be a spokesperson for something that I wasn’t full backing. So I asked if I could try it for a few months and then make my decision. I spent late fall/ early winter drinking cherry juice and eating tart cherries on a regular basis and loved how I felt, so decided to participate.

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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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                  Things I’m Loving (and Not Loving) Lately

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                  Hello, hello! Hope you are having a good week so far!

                  I received some questions/feedback on InsideTracker, so I wanted to discuss a couple of things here.

                  First, I had mentioned that I went to my wellness doctor/nurse (I call her “doctor” but she’s a certified nurse) prior to getting my bloodwork done with InsideTracker. She’s a close family friend who delivered my godson and has a great practice on Staten Island. I visited her the day after Boston because I felt like something was off – I didn’t know if it was nutrition or something else. I didn’t openly talk about it, but the morning of Boston while I was in Athlete’s Village, I started bleeding. This was pretty concerning to me because my period is extremely regular. I get my period every 28 days. I was 11 days early so it made no sense. Jess and I went to the medical tent and I spoke to the doctor – without going to the hospital for tests, there was really no way to tell what it could be. She said it was likely one of three things: an irregular period, pregnancy or a miscarriage – none of which would be affected by my running that morning.

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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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                      Podcasts + Running Mojo is BACK + Upcoming Races!

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                      After feeling “off” for almost three weeks, I was over-the-moon when I started running Saturday morning and realized that I felt GOOD. So good, in fact, that I would have kept running had my sons not had soccer that morning.

                      I decided to leave my garmin at home so I could just run and not worry or be distracted by pace. Even though I ran a bit last week, I felt like I was going through the motions. Every step just felt “blah’ and my legs felt heavy.

                      I officially jumped on the podcast while running train Saturday. I’ll be the first to admit that I was so hesitant to give this a try. I love listening to music when I run and didn’t know how I would stay motivated to keep moving only hearing an interview or someone speaking.

                      But because I didn’t have set mileage or pace on Saturday, I figured it was the perfect time to do it. One of the reasons I was excited to give it a try was because Lindsey was interviewing my good friend, Ashley – and I wanted to listen to the interview anyway – so figured I might as well try it while running! Lindsey started her I’ll have Another podcast a few weeks ago and has had nothing but amazing, fun women on her show. (If you are into the podcast thing, definitely give her a listen!)

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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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                          2016 Boston Marathon: Celebrating a Breakthrough Cycle

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                          Monday was my third Boston and the 14th marathon finish line I’ve crossed. It was the most prepared and in shape I have ever been before even though the results don’t necessarily show that.

                          I finished in 3:25:53. I positive split like a champ. 1:33:17 through the half. And 1:52:xx the 2nd half.

                          Of course I am disappointed. I didn’t bust my butt for months to run 13+ min slower than I did in the fall. But, some days, you’ve got it. And some days you don’t. And there’s no way to plan it so that you race on the days you have it.

                          But like I have said the last few weeks – this training cycle was a huge success – regardless of what the finish line clock says when I cross it – and I still believe that to be true. It was truly a breakthrough cycle for me and I’m grateful and excited for what I was able to do the last few months. And regardless of anything else, it’s a pretty darn good day when I can finish a marathon!

                          I plan to do a full recap later this week. My husband, mom and I returned home almost immediately after the race (I went back to hotel, took a bath and then we were on the road by 3:15pm). I took off on Tuesday but I stayed off my computer and social media and spent the day with my little guys – lunch, Barnes & Noble, basketball and soccer in yard and then dinner. So no time has been spent writing down my thoughts yet.

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                            Can You Really Balance Family, Work and Running?

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                            For years, I remember seeing women who juggled successful careers, families and running and thought they had the kind of balance I hoped to one day have.

                            I returned to work full-time this past fall after almost five years of being home with my two children. I’ve learned that (for me) there is no balance.

                            I don’t know if it can ever be balanced. There will never be enough time in the day. And I believe the phrase “doing it all” is misleading.

                            I would love to spend every possible moment with my boys and not miss a school pickup or a soccer practice on Wednesdays.

                            I would love to not feel heartache when I am at work late finishing a project for a deadline. Or feel that I should have stayed longer at work rather than rushing home to see my boys.

                            I would love to have more time to cross-train, stretch and recover properly from the miles I do run.

                            And I would really love to sleep more.

                            But I have found a balance in the imbalance. And here’s what I learned:

                            I can’t give 100 percent of myself to everything all the time.
                            But I can still give 100 percent all the time. It’s just that the 100% is now divided.
                            And I can focus 100 percent on what I’m doing THAT moment, whether it’s work, housework, family or running.
                            I have to be okay with “good enough” rather than perfection.
                            Priorities can shift from one month or week or day to the next. The closer I get to the Boston Marathon, the more important my workouts are. I’ll choose a run over folding laundry or vacuuming the house. Offseason? Running isn’t as high a priority as to other aspects of my life.
                            I have to be kind to myself.
                            Sleep is always a priority.
                            Sometimes, it’s best to do what will make me happiest, even if it may be viewed as selfish.

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                              Last Long Tempo – The Run That Almost Wasn’t

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                              Last week was a pretty off week. Crappy, actually. What should have been close to a 70 mile week ended with 50 which included one unplanned rest day, an extra “easy” day and a 4.5 mile day instead of 8 miles. Not the biggest deal but after a string of days where running didn’t feel good, the little doubt demons started to enter. I initially chalked it up to not enough sleep, but after waking up Saturday morning (after a decent night’s sleep) feeling worse than I had all week, I began to worry that maybe I was bordering on overtraining.

                              My alarm went off at 4:30am with the plan to be out running by 5:15 or so. I knew this run was going to be tough and I just wanted to get up and get it over with. Plus, the forecast was calling for the winds and rain to pick up as the day went on. Not ideal for a long tempo.

                              At 5am, I was pretty close to pulling the plug on the long tempo. My head hurt and I just didn’t feel “right”. All I wanted to do was lay on the couch under the covers. As a last resort, I decided to just down a ton of water and see if that helped. I knew I had drank much less water than usual this week but I assumed what I had consumed was enough.

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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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                                  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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                                    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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                                      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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