Transitioning to Ultras -> Tips from an Ultra Runner

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I periodically receive questions about ultra running – how to make the transition into longer distances, nutrition, training, etc. I’ve run a big ‘ole one ultra – a 60k a couple of years ago and while I loved it and definitely plan to run more ultras in the future, I know I am not the person that should be offering advice on races more than 26.2 miles. I think there is the misperception that you need to run a ton of miles more each week to transition to ultras. Or that you need to walk away from road races and marathons completely…you can easily transition to longer distances by piggybacking on your marathon training and can mix both into your racing calendar for the year. And so while most readers here are probably running the marathon distance {or less}, I thought it might be beneficial to have an post on longer distances in case you were toying with the idea of giving it a try. I reached out to my friend, Claire, to see if she would be willing to provide some information.  I shared Claire’s story about 18 months ago – right after she became the youngest female (EVER) to finish Continue Reading →

Back on My Feet in24 Philadelphia Entry Giveaway

I figured most of you don’t want to read about my first week of recovery post-marathon (lots of eating, laziness and cuddling with the boys…and then handful of runs I have done have been easy-paced and short). And so instead of boring you with those details, I am working on having a bunch of giveaways for you this week! Plus, it’s a fun way to celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend. =) In 2010, I began training for what I planned to be my first ultra – the Back on My Feet in24 Philadelphia Race. There are a slew of different distances, but I had registered for the 24-hour one. My plan was to train for and run 50 miles and then call it a day. My family planned on traveling to Philly to cheer and since the course was an 8.4 mile loop on paved roads, they could get some chairs, relax and see me run by 6 or 7 times. Seemed like an awesome first ultra. I was a couple of months into my training and had just completed my first 30 mile training run when I found out I was pregnant. Best surprise but it meant no race that summer.  Continue Reading →

Making Time for My Spouse’s Fitness

Don’t forget to enter the Garmin Forerunner 10 Giveaway!  I saw a tweet last week from a new dad saying he was happy to be getting back on track with running post-baby.  My first thought was along the lines of Post-Baby? You didn’t just have a baby!!  But after letting his words sink in for a bit, I began to see more and more truth to what he said.  True, the husbands are not the ones who just carried and delivered a child.  BUT, they DO have a new baby in their lives – and in some ways, I think the spouse’s return to running post-baby may sometimes be tougher. The woman has to deal with the physical limitations of having just given birth, but the spouse may have to deal with his/her own set of challenges that comes with being the spouse of a postpartum woman.  I think it can be challenging for the spouse to juggle fitting in physical fitness while still being supportive at home (especially working a full-time job). From my experience at home, I was given the full support of my husband to return to running very soon after both boys were born.  I had very easy Continue Reading →

Race Calendar + Ironman Lake Placid Training

Hello friends! One of my good friends pointed out to me that my race calendar was severely outdated…so I took a few minutes and updated it.  (The calendar can be found here.)  The big/long races are definites.   The smaller/shorter ones are still up in the air (5 miler on 4th of July, RW races, etc).  I made the decision on a fall marathon…the Wineglass Marathon!  SUPER excited about this one. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things and I’m loving the elevation chart for the race: I’m also looking for a triathlon to do before the ironman in July.  There is the Rev3 Quassy in June that I would LOVE to do but not sure we will be able to swing it financially (registration alone is over $250…then we will need hotel for 1-2 nights, etc).  Anyone want to sponsor me? (I’m only half kidding). —————————————— I realized it’s been a while since I gave any sort of update with how training is going in prep for IM Lake Placid.  I post a lot of pictures on my Instagram account {NYCRunningMama} with training updates, but don’t really blog about how things are going.  So here goes: read more

#Lucky13 Fitness Goals

Run this Year Challenge

  Happy New Year!! I love the start of the New Year.  There is something so exciting and invigorating about setting goals for the next 365 days and hearing about all the goals others have set. 13 has always been a lucky number for me (it was my high school basketball number for a few years), I decided to create my #Lucky13 Fitness Goals.  Some of them are the same goals as I had for 2012…I found out I was pregnant only a few weeks into 2012 and so almost all of my fitness-related goals had to be postponed until post-baby. 1. Complete 50 miler: JFK 50 miler (Nov 16)  This was one of my 2012 goals but pregnancy put it on hold.  The JFK 50 miler is the largest 50 miler in the world (over 1,000 finishers) and I have heard nothing but amazing things about the entire race experience. I ran my first ultra distance in 2010 and my first ultra race in 2011 and have been itching to do another one.  Current distance PR: 60k (37.2 miles) in 5:41 (Knickerbocker 60k, 2011) 2. Sub-3:10 Marathon: NJ Marathon (May 5)  I was able to defer this race last year Continue Reading →

Meet Claire: Youngest Female Badwater Finisher

Running along the white lines to prevent her shoes from melting from the hot pavement

I first heard about Claire Heid (now Dieterich) a week before the 2012 Badwater Ultramarathon (aka “the world’s toughest foot race”).  *For those not familiar with Badwater (the 135-mile trek through the desert), check out the race website or the post I recently did.  Claire was attempting Badwater at age 23, and if successful, would be the youngest female EVER to finish the grueling road race. I couldn’t believe that such a petite, pretty, sweet young woman could accomplish what she did – she not only finished – but she finished FAST in a time of 41:15:47 (yes, that is 41 hours!) and now holds the title of Youngest Female Finisher.  Pretty freaking unbelievable. Here is her story – how she got into running ultras, what Badwater was really like, and what the future holds for her: Despite receiving a full ROTC scholarship to Notre Dame, Claire decided to attend the US. Military Academy at West Point (my alma mater!). For my whole life I had been drawn to the military and when my older brother (Class of 2008) was there, I fell in love with everything West Point had to offer when I visited him. read more

What’s Your Everest?

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I think we all have our own version of Everest – that one seemingly insurmountable race or adventure we want to do one day… It’s likely that you don’t go around broadcasting this lifetime goal.  Maybe you feel that it would be as crazy as saying “I want to go to the moon”.   Maybe you don’t feel qualified.  Maybe you are like me and are constantly worried about telling everyone and then failing to accomplish it.  Maybe you don’t have a timeline of when it is going to happen.  Maybe vocalizing it would finally make seem “real”. But as I’ve learned from previous experiences, vocalizing these dreams is the first step that is necessary to make it become more than just a thought and finally become a reality. I decided to share with you MY Everest.  It is all I’ve been reading, thinking, and dreaming about for the last week – not too hard to do since the 35th anniversary of the race was earlier this week. My dream is to race the Badwater Ultramarathon (BW), aka The Challenge of Champions…aka The World’s Toughest Foot Race one day.  read more

Nursing and Ultras ?!?!

nursing and ultras

Pin It Do you think these two things can go hand-in-hand? When I was pregnant, I was often asked told : You know you can’t run a lot and breastfeed, right? And to be honest, at the time, I wasn’t really sure it was possible to run the miles I wanted, train for the races I had planned, AND breastfeed at the same time.  There was quite a bit of personal accounts and literature on exercising while pregnant, but I didn’t find much regarding running and breastfeeding. Both Runner’s World Guide to Running and Pregnancy and La Leche League’s The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (which was and still is my go-to book for all breastfeeding questions) said breastfeeding was completing safe (for mama and baby) if you were exercising.  But I couldn’t find anything quantifiable, any woman who said she ran “x” number of miles a week and was still breastfeeding successfully. (Note: I was not on twitter or blogging at the time so did not have the information these sites offer.)  read more

Do you Dream…

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…of running a certain race?   Maybe it’s one of the marathon majors – NYC, Boston, Chicago, Berlin, or London. Maybe it’s a race that is touted to be a “beautiful” course – Big Sur, Honolulu.  Maybe it’s in a part of the world that you hope to travel to one day – Paris, S. Africa, Athens. So here’s the question – if money, ability, time, and travel were NOT an issue, what race would you want to run? My husband and I have a (very) long list of races we want to do. This list is a LIFETIME list – we have NO intention of doing most of these races in the near-term.  We would love to – but we can’t afford to travel to some of the destination races at the moment (we are about to purchase our first home!), nor we do have the time to adequately train for some of the more physically demanding races. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be on the lookout to add new races to my list (the actual list is about 25 races long). read more

Pushing the pace on long runs?

When I was training for the NYC Marathon and my first ultra this summer/fall, I completed all my long runs at an easy pace.  NYC would be my first marathon after giving birth and since I hadn’t completed long runs consistently in over a year, my goal was to get the miles in without worrying about what my Garmin 610 was telling me.  I got very comfortable with doing my long runs at an 8:30 pace.  I was happy with that pace.  I didn’t feel the need to push myself any harder on my long runs – as long as I ran 20, 25, 30 miles, I was satisfied. I competed in the Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge [FL5BC] as part of the NYC Marathon in November.  After separating from the other 4 runners at the halfway point (we had to run the first 13.1 miles together), I immediately tried to speed up to hit my target pace of 7:45.  No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get my pace any faster than 7:50-8:00.  And it wasn’t that my legs were tired – they actually felt surprisingly good.  I just couldn’t pick up the pace without getting out of breath. Continue Reading →

2012 Race Calendar

With only one month left of 2011, I finally had the opportunity to sit and write down all the races I’ve mentally signed up to run for 2012.  I’m not sure if it’s too ambitious. I haven’t done an Ironman (IM) before, so I don’t know what toll the training and race itself will take on my body. The priority and focus for 2012 is definitely the IM, so if I need to cancel a race or two because I haven’t fully recovered from the IM or need more training time before the race, I definitely will. . The race calendar is not finalized yet – I still have to register for a few of the races and there are a few shorter races I’d like to add – but it’s a general idea of what I will be training for in the next 12 months! Jan – Mar: my focus will be on running.  I am going to cross train with swimming and biking in preparation for the spring and summer triathlon events, but my priority will be working on my speed to decrease my marathon time.  My husband also plans to run this marathon and will be shooting for sub 3:05 so Continue Reading →

My First Ultra

My husband, son, and I made our way into the city at 630am Saturday morning.  I stopped at NYRR’s office to pick up my race bib and t-shirt and was able to sit in the car with them only 100 feet from the start line until 15 min before the race started.  This allowed me to stay warm, keep my mind off the race, and best of all, nurse my son one last time before saying goodbye – a necessity since I would be away from him for the next 6 hours. (And yes, you can totally train for an ultra AND be a nursing mom at the same time!) I made my way to the “baggage check” – it wasn’t a typical baggage check at a NYRR’s race located a distance from the start/finish.  This was actually along the course – which was awesome since it enabled me to quickly organize my gels, energy bites, and other snacks I may need during the race. It was a chilly 35 degrees  – my initial plan was to wear shorts, tank top, arm warmers, gloves, and headband, but at the last minute, I added a long-sleeve shirt to wear for the first 1.5 miles. Continue Reading →

Goals for Knickerbocker 60k

Tomorrow is my first ultra.  I am competing in the Knickerbocker 60k in Central Park.  The course includes a short out and back (totaling 1.5 miles) and then 9x 4-mile loops of the park’s inner loop (thankfully, it does NOT include the arduous upper or lower portions of the park). Here is a link of the course. I had a long debate with myself about whether or not this course was the best for my first ultra.  There are definitely some disadvantages. First, Central park is notoriously hilly.  And although the upper section is eliminated, there are still sections that can kill your legs after repeated visits. Second, 9x loops will be a HUGE mental obstacle, especially since we will be passing the start/finish line each time. I’m fully anticipating to experience the temptation of wanting to stop each time I pass it, especially in the later miles. Third, it’s only 2 weeks after the NYC Marathon, so I was worried I would not be fully rested for the long distance. read more

Pacing lessons

As I’ve stated in earlier posts, I’ve always had a problem with not pacing myself correctly on long runs or races.  I start too fast and then pay for it heavily at the end.  I had always believed that I could start fast and gain some “extra time” so that when I slow down towards the end, I’ll finish at the pace I want.  I am thankful to say that I have finally realized my theory is completely wrong.  After the SI Half a couple of weeks ago, it clicked that I REALLY need to slow down and pace myself (discussed in Rookie Mistake).  =&0=& to complete (not including 5x that I had to stop – once to fix my socks which had slipped beneath the back of my heel (I need to find socks that do not do this!), twice to pull out power gels that were in my camelbak, once to call Paul to tell him I needed more water, and once to drink the water/powerade that Paul had for me – the total time of “stopped time” was about 7 min) – Overall pace was 8:34 – I ran negative splits – the first 15 miwere covered in 129:13 (8:36 Continue Reading →

Lived, Ran, and Learned

My second attempt at my furthest distance to date went off (almost) without a hitch.  I plan on writing subsequent blogs on specific aspects of the long run (fueling and pacing), so this blog is more of a brief recap. I started the run @ 520am.  It was around 48 degrees so I decided to wear shorts, a tank top, arm warmers, and gloves.  If you dress to be comfortable and warm for the start of the run, you will be hurting yourself for a few reasons:- The more clothes you put on your body, the more weight you will be carrying.  Doesn’t sound like much – but if you are doing a long run, an extra pound or two of clothes can – and will – make a difference- If you start before the sun comes up, the sunrise will only make it seem warmer (even if the actual temperature doesn’t increase)- Once you start running, your body will warm up on it’s own (usually about 10-15 min into a run).  If you are overdressed, you will quickly overheat and sweat more than you should be – which will lead to dehydration issuesSo although I was cold the first 20 Continue Reading →

Live and Learn

My attempted 30 miler today did not go as planned.  I ran just over 16 miles before I decided to call it a day.  I am trying to remain positive and use my failed attempt as a learning tool for future long runs. The whole day started out on the wrong foot.  I had a 645am photoshoot with the Daily News in Central Park – my plan was to start my run immediately upon finishing.  Unfortunately, although I was promised it would only take 15 min, the shoot actually lasted almost 2 hours – and about an hour of it consisted of me running up and down a hill – over and over and over again.  Because of the delay, I didn’t actually start my run until 945 – after being up over 5 hours and having only eaten a piece of whole wheat bread with peanut butter.  In addition, there were refueling issues, major crowding in the park due to a breast cancer walk, and strong winds – which only added to my lack of motivation to finish the run.  Here are my key takeaways from today: read more

30 for 30

I am turning 30 next Friday.  Surprisingly, I am not having any anxiety or trepidation about this supposed momentous event in my life.  I think a lot has to do with the realization that I’m completely happy with my life and the family and friends I surround myself with these days.  I haven’t accomplished everything I thought I would by this age – I’m not holding down a powerful, high-paying job (I’m a stay-at-home mom), my family is not living in a huge house (we are in a 2-BR apt to save some $ to buy a home – hopefully in the next few months), and I often struggle to find the time and energy to head out the door each day to get a 45 min run in (nothing near my plans to have completed several ultras by this point)…But despite all of these “shortcomings”, I’ve never been so happy.   I’ve decided to celebrate my 30th birthday by doing what else?  Running!!  What better way to start the new year – and new decade – then running?  And since 30 is a special year, I have decided to run my age in miles!!   read more