Ever feel there’s not enough hours in the day or days in the week? Yeah, me too. It’s been a busy week around here, but with a little flexibility and a little compromise on sleep, I hit 67.5 miles last week, a new high for this training cycle. This last week I’ll aim to hit 70 and then it’s taper time!
But it’s been an exciting week so far, so here’s the highlights. Spoiler: it includes delicious birthday food and a cool announcement.
I ran 20 miles in the middle of the day last Wednesday. Some at marathon pace!
Have I mentioned how thankful I am that my job promotes a bit of flexibility? Very thankful. To offset the 2.5 hours of ‘me’ time I took to do this long run in the early afternoon, I simply started my work day a bit earlier and ended it a bit later. Since I was traveling Thursday-Saturday for work, I knew I wouldn’t find the time to squeeze in 20 miles over the weekend. Gotta make it work.
I’ve missed bridge running, so decided to head down the WSH, over the Brooklyn and back over the Manhattan bridges, and back up the WSH to my apartment. Despite eating a substantial breakfast, my stomach felt empty about 3 miles in so I stopped to buy a water and a Kind bar. I never eat ‘real’ food while running, but knew I needed something other than a Gu to stop the hunger. Luckily it sat well.
20 miles of splits are pretty boring, I know. But, I was feeling good after coming back over the Manhattan Bridge and decided today would be a good day to attempt marathon pace at the end of a long run. I was bored around mile 13 so decided to pick it up then to make the time go faster. After 4 miles, I started feeling extremely light headed and dehydrated but spotted a vending machine and chugged a water while jogging easy again. It was the 1st 70 degree day in a while and I was hot. I figured I’d just jog easy to cool down home, but felt 10x better after the water so attempted another marathon pace mile. And it was quick!
I went to Atlanta!
As I mentioned, I went to Atlanta for work Thursday through Saturday. The Chobani CHOmobile was at the Georgia Marathon expo, and part of my job is to go to these events to interact with consumers, media and capture content to share online. I didn’t get to see much of the city, but did wake up extra early both mornings to get in my run before the expo started. Including a nice little run to Piedmont Park!
I spectated the NYC Half-Marathon!
The NYC Half-Marathon is one of my FAVORITE races. I don’t care how ridiculously overpriced the entry fee is. It holds a special place in my heart as it was my first post-collegiate race in 2010 and where I set my PR in 2011 on my 24th birthday. I really, really wanted to race it again this year, but I knew I wouldn’t be getting back from Atlanta until late Saturday night and after being on my feet all day, likely wouldn’t be a successful race. So I dragged my overtired self out of bed early to spectate while getting in some miles with other CPTC peeps along the course. It was a blast, though part of me was a bit bummed since I think I would have had a good shot at a PR. Oh well. I got to see two of my other friends from college who ran the race, too. And then I drank pretty much all day on Sunday.
I turned 25!
Yep, Tuesday was my birthday! And the first day of Spring! So, pretty much the happiest day of the year. On Monday night I started the celebrations early with a trip to the new 16 Handles near my apartment with Terence. Having froyo within a 4 block radius is going to be dangerous this summer, I already know.
I kicked off the actual birthday with a sweaty 10 mile run and a doctor’s appointment…fun? After work, I enjoyed fancy cocktails outside at Public with my coworker Emily, followed by a late dinner at Gentleman Farmer with my cute guy friend
Gentleman Farmer is such a quaint restaurant! It only seats 20 people in the cozy space, and we ordered really unique dishes like bison tartar with quail egg, prosciutto and fig stuffed quail with risotto, ostrich steak, and creme brule- complete with a birthday candle! Highly, highly recommended for a special occasion dinner. Everything, including the wine, was extremely delicious. We cleaned our plates!
The birthday celebrations continued over a work lunch complete with wine & dessert yesterday at Il Buco Alimentari and Vineria, and I arrived home to cupcakes from my old college roommate Emily. I’m not a huge birthday person, but I do appreciate getting to feel a bit special for a day (or two…or a week). Thanks, everyone I wonder why my jeans are a bit tight today.
I also realized I’ll never again race in the 20-24 age group. 25-29 is hard! Goodbye, age group awards.
I was chosen as one of Boston.com/Polar Gear’s wear-tester for the Boston Marathon!
Guys, I never win anything. When my cute guy friend told me about the call for entries on Boston.com to apply to wear-test Polar gear (RCX5 watch/system) in the month leading up to the Boston Marathon and on race day, get to guest blog about it, and then keep the gear, I immediately applied. But I really didn’t think I’d have a chance. I don’t have a super compelling backstory, personal ties to the Boston Marathon, or anything. I just like to run and blog about it. But, both he and I were selected and the introductory post went up today. I should get the watch any day now and will be posting at Boston.com every Monday! I’m honored and really, really excited to see what the watch & system can do compared to my dinky Garmin 110.
So, that’s what I’ve been up to the past week or so. All good stuff. What’s the highlight of your week so far?
Alas, the first week in January has come and gone, marking week 1 of actually recording and paying attention to my training for Boston. While I’m still fine tuning my mileage buildup, I’ve mapped out a general plan for the next few weeks and while more of a base would be helpful, I’m not as behind as I thought.
While I’ll get my plan ready to share over the next week or two, here’s week 1. I’m also making a change and structuring my weeks Monday-Sunday, instead of Sunday-Saturday like a calendar, to allow for more flexibility on weekends for long runs while traveling.
Week 1: 1/2-1/8
Total: 34.5 miles
On Thursday, I attempted some form of a workout just to start somewhere. I had dinner plans so couldn’t make it to the CPTC workout, and attempted a few on/off miles just to remind my legs how to run fast.
All continuous, 1 mile easy, 1 mile ‘hard’, 1 mile easy, 2 miles ‘hard’. 1 mile cool down. Not a bad solo effort, and I actually felt pretty good despite running against the wind off the Hudson River. Gotta start somewhere.
A good week of mileage, and an even better weekend! Friday night went from having no real plans to going to four different bars and staying out until 3 a.m. Though I felt a bit like death on Saturday, it was 60 degrees and too nice to not run. I did a leisurely 4 miles around the bridle path and ended my run, sweaty and all, at Ali’s apartment since Lauren and Emily were in town and I wanted to meet/drink mimosas with them. A few hours of chatting, brownies, mimosas and wine later, I ran back to my apartment (a whole 2 miles!) and was definitely not sober. Whoops? Any run that involves drinking and hanging out with those lovely ladies is a win!
A quick shower and 94369346 outfit changes later, Noelle and I were ready to head downtown for the annual Central Park Track Club post-holiday party and awards ceremony.
The dinner and open bar was great, and I had a blast dancing all night. Afterwards we headed to a random bar a few blocks away and ended up staying until close? Guess that 5 Hour Energy worked.
While staying up until 6 a.m. last night (or, this morning?) doesn’t feel so great right about now, this weekend left a big smile on my face. Full of friends, dancing, talking, running, little sleep, drinking, and randomness, just the way I want. While we’re only one week in, working towards balance and happiness in 2012 is going pretty well Now if only things will stay this way as the mileage picks up. Bring it on, Boston.
I really didn’t want to write this post, and I know I’m a few days late to the recap game. I put it off partially because it wasn’t the sub-3:00 marathon I had hoped for, but mostly because writing this would mean it was over. I can’t go back and change the way I felt on Sunday. I’ve taken a few days to digest the race, which included a healthy mix of basking in pride and sulking in disappointment.
I’ll be honest, yes, I am disappointed. A time like mine should not reflect disappointment, but it does for me. I trained for, wished for, and pushed really hard to complete my second marathon in under 3:00. I know my time is still great, and it’s a 55 second PR from last year’s NYC. Who can’t be happy with a PR?! And NYC is a tough course! At the end of the race, the feeling of sheer depletion meant I gave it everything physically and that’s what mattered. I am proud of myself for finishing, setting myself up for success with a really great first half, and staying mentally strong and fighting despite the way I felt.
2011 NYC Marathon: 3:03:37 official finishing time. 83rd female, 1425th place overall, 7th in age group (20-24). My 2nd marathon. Now let’s get to the fun stuff
I woke up at 5 a.m., feeling pretty well-rested and excited! I made some coffee and a hugeeee oatmeal with bananas to heat and take on the bus with me. Around 5:45, I left my apartment and headed to 54th street and 6th avenue to board the sub-elite bus. Around 6:30 a.m. we headed east down the FDR, our caravan of buses escorted by police. Seeing the highway completely shut down to traffic for our buses was the first of many unreal experiences. We arrived in Staten Island pretty quickly and were escorted away from the starting villages into a private heated tent, next to the elite athletes.
While we were separated from the elites, we still shared portapotties and a little warmup area. Luckily, I had my CPTC teammates to keep me company! I didn’t even need half the layers I packed since we weren’t out in the cold, but I sure was thankful I had brought them anyway. I drank Gatorade and ate another banana and Gu Chomps while we waited. Around 8:45, we checked our bags in a private truck and were escorted to the top of the Verrazano bridge.
The next 45 minutes until the start were the most incredible moments of my life. We were able to start right on the line, and were free to do striders and roam the starting area. I strode out about 100 meters over the bridge and took it all in… just me and the closed bridge, nobody else in sight.I turned around and the crowds were so far away. It was surreal to be standing by myself with the bridge wide open. It was at that point I realized I was going to go for it. I’ve worked so hard the past four months to be standing in this exact spot…and suddenly I was here, standing on top of the Verrazano, taking in these gorgeous views from a truly special spot. I started to get choked up, I was so thankful.
New York, New York!
Miles 1, 2, 3: 6:45, 6:19, 6:32
The gun went off, and suddenly we were running! I tried to stay steady up the Verrazano, and found myself trailing back a bit from my CPTC teammates. I had anticipated hitting the first mile in over 7:00, so 6:45 was a bit of a shock but I felt fine. I tried not to pay attention to the second mile marker since that’s down the Verrazano’s steep decline. I thought mile 3 was a tad more steady as we wound the streets and found our way to Brooklyn, but I see it was quick!
Miles 4, 5, 6, 7, 8: 6:42, 6:42, 6:46, 6:41, 6:53
Around the 5K mark, I found myself back with my CPTC teammates Erin, Erin, and Maria. We strode across the road in a line of 4, trying to reign each other back and get closer to 6:50s. But it just wasn’t happening. I know you know that feeling. So, everytime I felt like speeding up, I tried to picture myself absorbing that energy I wanted to use and saving it for later. During this portion, I felt like I was working a bit more than I wanted to, but I definitely felt smooth. Erin pulled away around mile 6. At 7.5, I swung out to the left side of the road as my Dad was supposed to be standing near 7.8. I scanned and scanned the crowds but missed him! I was a bit thrown off, but quickly hopped back with my teammates as we approached mile 8 and joined in with the green & blue corrals! I took my first gel at mile 8 and felt good.
Miles 9, 10, 11, 12, 13: 6:45, 6:38, 6:49, 6:47, 6:48. Half-marathon mark 1:28:06.
A bit after mile 10 (why did I run a 6:38??) I realized I felt like I was working a bit harder than I should be. The crowds, the energy, the noise, and my thoughts propelled me to continue pushing. It’s a marathon, it was going to hurt no matter what. I pushed any doubt and panic aside. We passed the halfway mark in 1:28:06 and I felt a boost. I knew we had to hit the halfway point in 1:28 low or under to run under 3:00. Being a bit OCD, I checked the past year’s results and saw that anyone who ran sub-3:00 ran between 1:24 and 1:28 for the half. Nothing slower. Yes, this was fast, and YES this was aggressive, but I wanted to know I did everything I could to set myself up for success. I was on track, and just had to run under a 1:32 second half– heck, that sounded reasonable!
Miles 14, 15, 16, 17, 18: 6:56, 7:09, 7:09, 6:48, 6:53
I continued through Queens and started to feel like legs going a bit. My breathing was a bit heavier than I wanted, but I was chugging along where I wanted to be. I fell way behind my teammates going up the Queensboro bridge, but tried to keep steady. Hills are not my strength, and I didn’t mind the quietness of the bridge. I used it to collect my thoughts and my strength while taking my second gel and working to draft a bit as it was pretty windy. As we wound down the bridge, and I heard the wall of noise of 1st ave. Manhattan! I made it! I knew I had friends in the 70s and 80s, and scanned the crowds while trying to stay focused. I felt my quads really going and started to get nervous. Last year, I felt pretty good on this stretch of 1st Ave and my current state concerned me a bit. I used the crowd’s energy to propel myself forward, still happy with my splits around goal pace. My mom was on 97th street, and I was so happy to see her…though I had very little to say but wave.
Miles 19, 20, 21, 22, 23: 7:07, 7:26, 7:21, 7:26, 7:32
After mile 18, the crowds thinned and I took a 3rd gel in hopes they’d revive my legs. My quads. Oh, my quads. I rarely have issues or soreness in my quads during long runs or workouts, but they felt paralyzed as we hit the Willis Avenue Bridge. My breathing was okay, aerobically I felt I could continue to push, but my legs were not having it. I lost major time on these miles. I looked at my pace bracelet and saw the 2 minute cushion I had to break 3:00 start to shrink. It was frustrating knowing I was mentally and aerobically feeling ready to push but physically unable to increase the turnover in my legs. I was stuck in the same gear. Around mile 23, I actually didn’t know if my legs would hold up to carry me to the finish line. But I fought.
Miles 24, 25, 26, .2: 8:00, 7:28, 7:20, 1:38
The 5th Avenue hill was the worst, as expected. I counted down the blocks one by one, feeling like I traveled 10 blocks but only having made it one. 90th street felt like it would never come. I saw my parents and barely mustered a wave. As a whole, I really tried to enjoy and savor the course but this stretch was one I just about closed my eyes and wished away. Once we entered the park, I was hit by “The Wall of Orange”– my CPTC teammates cheering their heads off. I got a boost and knew I would finish. Unlike last year where I think I blacked out for part of Central Park to the finish line, I was extremely aware during this time. Again, I wanted to just go but my legs wouldn’t let me. I remained positive and focused, knowing I’d have to continue to push if I was going to PR at all.
Cresting up the small hill to the finish line the last .2 miles, I tried to kick and push, and was suddenly hit with a wave of exhaustion. All the blood rushed from my head and body, I wanted to pass out or throw up. It was then I knew I was physically spent, a sign of a good race. I somehow raised my arms upon crossing.
Upon finishing, a volunteer quickly spotted my bib and escorted me to a special finisher’s area. On my way, I spotted my CPTC teammates I had run with and all finished around the same time. And, Alex who had started in local competitive found us too!
The volunteer escorted us from the sub-elite to a special tent right after the finish line. I was so thankful I didn’t have to walk all the way to the end of the baggage trucks like I did last year. I barely made it to the tent, fighting the urge to pass out or at least sit down. The volunteer let us sit while she found my bag. For that, she was my hero! I sat and breathed and stared around for a while before changing into dry clothes and calling my parents.
That was it. I didn’t break 3:00, and the world wasn’t over (shocker!) I didn’t feel upset at that moment because of how physically spent I was. I wanted under 3:00 and my mind said yes, but my legs said NO. I felt proud of myself for finishing, and fighting, and still setting a new PR. So often, the mental piece of the puzzle is what goes awry and makes for a bad race. I can say despite some frustrating moments, my mind was really in the game. My legs just went a lot earlier than I anticipated which made for a really rough second half.
After the race, I met up with my Mom and Dad and went to brunch at Fred’s on the UWS. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait and I had a pretty good grilled chicken sandwich. I hobbled back to my apartment and immediately got into bed and started crying to my mom. I’ve had a pretty rough few weeks, and part of me felt like I needed a sub-3:00 race to boost my self confidence and affirm I’ll be okay. After working so hard and sacrificing so much, I fell short. I failed. Running kicked me when I was down.
After drying my tears and saying bye to my mom, I brushed myself off and hopped in the shower. I knew sulking in my apartment wouldn’t help, so even though I was physically drained, I headed down to Opal for the CPTC afterparty celebrations. A few beers, a bottle of champagne, and shots later, I left with a happy heart and head. Sure, my time wasn’t the best, but I PR’ed. And the experience was worth every painful second.
So now what? I’m trying hard to let this race just be and not analyze my splits, training, diet, lifestyle, etc. I feel like I did the right stuff, and it just wasn’t my day. Maybe NYC isn’t my course, and I’d fare better on a flatter one where I can keep a steady pace and not get crushed by awful hills and bridges. Part of me really doesn’t get why this year felt so much harder than last year, when I know I am a stronger runner right now. Maybe my pacing strategy was off, but I stand firm on the way I went out because it put me in the right position.
I’ve got Boston 2012 next, and I’m holding off on making any goals for that race quite yet. I’m a bit hesitant to say I want to break 3:00 there. However, I know I’m competitive with myself and probably won’t want to go into that race without the goal of setting a new PR. Let’s be honest.
For now, I will take the next week or two entirely off running and exercise of any type. For me, I need a solid rest period to break up training and racing cycles. Taking it easy until after Thanksgiving will ensure I am fresh and eager to train for Boston, and not get burnt out or injured. I’ll be sleeping in, enjoying my free time, and living a little more until then!
Finally, THANK YOU again for all the kind congratulatory messages. Even though it wasn’t my day, I felt extremely loved and supported before, during and especially after the race. As I said before the race, I’ll be back here working hard and writing about it until I get that sub-3:00!
It’s here! Tomorrow is the big day. I can’t believe that tomorrow I will be waking up and running the NYC Marathon.
I remember when I first wrote down that I wanted to break 3:00 in the marathon. It was just about a week after last year’s marathon, once I had a chance to reflect and regain my ability to walk. I admitted this was a lofty goal, but attainable with hard work. I’ve now put in a full year of hard work since that point and it’s time to see if it paid off.
Goals & Positive Thinking
You all know my goal time. It’s about all I’ve focused on the past few months. Running under 3:00 has been the thought in the back of my mind during every workout and long run, pushing me to work harder and stay strong.
As the race drew closer, I started to get so caught up with the fear of failing, that I started to lose sight of why I am doing this marathon. I run because I love it. Because it’s for me. Running allows me to better myself. To focus. To constantly grow and challenge myself. I’m not saying my time doesn’t matter to me, because it does. A lot. But it’s not the only thing that matters.
As my BFF Deena Kastor says (more on this later), “A joyful runner is a faster runner.”
Do I still want to run under 2:59:59.99? You bet. But I’ve had to get my head on straight and remind myself that as long as I PR and enjoy the experience, that’s still a win! I will continually remind myself to stay positive and not let “pace noise” throw off my game. My worst fear is seeing that I’m off pace and there is no way I will break 3:00, and falling apart. I won’t let that happen. I am going to run with a smile on my face (okay, at least through mile 23…) and give everything I have to at least PR. And most importantly, I will enjoy the ride.
And if I don’t PR? Well, expect a race recap with a very different tone soon
Yesterday morning, courtesy of Emilia and Asics, Kelly, Meggie, Susan and I were invited to attend a very special breakfast at the Empire Hotel with running pros Deena Kastor (my BFF above) and Ryan Hall. Hearing the pro runners share advice really pumped me up!
I spent the rest of the day working from Starbucks and laying low, and woke up this morning to do my traditional 20 minute shakeout run. It’s what we always did the day before a race in college, and haven’t changed it up since. As I finished, I got super excited (and nervous) to think the next time I step out for a run, it’ll be over the Verrazano bridge!
I headed down to Lululemon in Union Square at 9 a.m. for a run design focus group I was invited to. A few of their product development folks came down from Canada and wanted to hear from a small group of runners what we love in our running clothes (Lululemon or not!) to help shape their designs and styles. I’ve accumulated a ton of running clothes over the past 10 years, 85% of which seems to be Nike. I like Lululemon’s clothing, but the price point is a major barrier for me when I can barely even fit my current running collection into my drawers. And I am a poor working girl.
Nonetheless, the discussion was really interesting! And, we got a gift card for our time, so I used it to buy a pair of black run: speed shorts that I will wear during the marathon tomorrow. I have these shorts in another color and gradually found myself wearing them for most long runs because they feel light as air and have pockets for my gels. It was a last minute decision to switch to these shorts as I’ve always raced in Nike spandex shorts, but I love the run: speed shorts and have a feeling they’ll be great tomorrow. They’re called the speed shorts, so that’s a good sign…right?
And now we’re here. One more sleep and I’ll be running a marathon through the greatest city in the world. Friends, I can not begin to express how much your support means to me. Last year, I didn’t really know anyone else racing and it was very much a solo experience. This year I feel like I’ll know so many familiar faces running out there with me, spectating from the sidelines, or cheering from afar.
THANK YOU for every last comment, tweet, Facebook post, email, story, call, fro-yo trip, drink, EVERYTHING that we’ve shared over the last few months. I will think of all of you rooting for me to draw in positive energy and strength, especially in those final miles. If tomorrow is my day to break 3:00, I will feel on top of the world. And if it’s not, I’ll be back here and working hard until I do!
To track me, log onto http://ingnycmarathon.com tomorrow or download the app and track me via Bib#287. If you’re watching, here’s what I’m wearing!
Good luck to all the other runners out there. Catch ya after 26.2!
I survived the first week of the taper! Sunday’s Half-Marathon marked 3 weeks to race day, and the beginning of the gradual decline in intensity and mileage.
After many, many hard weeks of training, I’m a bit relieved. The end is near. My goal is (finally) in reach. November 6th used to feel so far away- especially through all those humid, sweaty runs in July and August- and it was hard to visualize race day. September rolled around, the fall air began to hit, and upping my long runs helped draw the marathon a bit closer. And now, we’re suddenly nearing the end of October and it’s in sight. How did that happen? I’ve logged three 20-mile runs, pushed through weekly workouts at half-marathon and marathon pace, reached a new highest weekly mileage, and I feel ready. Well, most of the time.
The great part is… all the really hard work is behind me. But that’s also the scary part. I second guess myself. Did I do enough? Were my runs long enough? Was my pace fast enough? I’m out of time to put in the hard work. These few weeks of tapering will be about getting my legs fresh, staying healthy, resting up, and mentally preparing. While these things are all a very important part of race preparation, it’s difficult not to question how you could have done more during training. Stretched more, iced more, ran longer, ran faster, slept more, ate cleaner, took iron more, lifted more, worked on my core strength more.
I think this is totally natural. No matter your ability, there is always room to doubt yourself. No matter your training, there is always the question if you could have done more. It’s like that in all areas of life: did I study enough for that test? Did I prepare enough for my big client presentation? Did I spend enough time with my family? Did I do enough to show my friends I care?
I need to focus on looking back at all I’ve accomplished over the last 3 months, and trust in that. I feel confident that I’ve done the best I could in my training given the time and energy I was able to dedicate. I am thankful to have stayed healthy and injury-free this entire training cycle. I have woken up earlier than the sun, run faster and farther than comfort, and am ready. Sub-3:00 is no longer a lofty goal, it’s in reach. The preparation is done. It’s all up to feeling good, running smart, staying strong, and digging deep on race day.
Hopefully, crossing the finish line as happy (and satisfied) as last year! This time, a few minutes faster.
This week, I hit 49.5 miles.
Next week, I’ll probably hit around 35-38 miles, and then only around 22-25 miles the week before the marathon. Hooray!
To rest, I’ll be keeping it pretty low key these next two weekends. Last night, I went to the Meatball Shop with Dan for dinner. The wait was less than an hour, surprising for 7 p.m. on a Friday. Like last time I went, I decided to get the sliders again so I could choose multiple ball/sauce varieties. I chose the spicy pork with spicy meat sauce, veggie with parmesan cream sauce, and the special ball- chicken cordon bleu with mushroom sauce! With a side of carrot and chive risotto, steamed spinach and the market salad with arugula, pomegranate seeds and persimmon. Yum!
And of course, no dinner is complete without dessert. Special apple cinnamon ice cream with special oatmeal cherry cookies. Amazing.
This morning, I met a few of my CPTC teammates on 59th and 1st to run the last 10 miles of the marathon course. I ran about 4.5 miles through the park to meet, and 2 miles easy after we finished to run back to my apartment. Afterwards, I refueled with a giant mug of Trader Joe’s pumpkin spice coffee, and steel cut oatmeal mixed with pumpkin and protein powder. Now that it’s finally feeling like fall, I’m in the mood for warm, flavorful food. MMM.
I have to run a few errands this afternoon before fun evening plans. I can’t wait to sleep in tomorrow!
How do you stay confident during a taper? Tips to trust in your training? Any fun weekend plans?