Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Boston Marathon Training - Week 2 Recap

So while last week was technically week 1 of training for me, I hopped into a 12 week plan at week 2, so let's call it week 2 training! I am following Hal Higdon's 12 Week Boston Bound plan. I'll have to do some modifying to accommodate my particular needs. While I feel quite confident I should have no trouble handing the mileage/workouts of this plan, I do think some of the time-based workouts are written for runners who run WAY faster than me, so I will be taking that into account for the weekend long runs.

Here's how the week of training went:

Monday 1/29 - 5 miles

At this point I had no idea I was running Boston until later this evening, so I was planning on a basic, easy run.  Not much to write home about - the big news was signing up for Boston after my run!

Tuesday 1/30 - 4 x 800s

Eeek! I knew I was in the race, and time to get serious about training.  Today called for 4 x 800 (Yasso 800s).  I was super nervous to get back into a harder workout, because I have been so fatigued lately.  I also had to head indoors because we had gotten some snow, and the last thing I need is to slip on black ice running repeats. I managed to run each 800 in just under 4:14, which is where I wanted to be without falling of treadmill, so yay me

Wednesday 1/31 - 5 miles

Another easy run. Planned called for 4, but I bumped it up to 5 miles. I probably pushed a tad too fast, but I am struggling with what was "easy" two months ago vrs now.  Was happy the snow cleared off the main roads enough I was able to get outside!

Thursday 2/1 - 7 miles

My plan called for 7 tempo miles, but next week had Thursday's run as easy miles, so I decided to swap the two out.  This was the first post-op long run, and I was using it as a trial to see if I would be able to handle the weekend's mileage.  Thankfully this went without issue, and I was SO relieved.

Friday 2/2
Rest day - whomp whomp

Saturday 2/3 - 7 miles

Today was supposed to be marathon paced miles.  I definitely did not hit marathon pace on these miles, but I am trying to cut myself a little slack between the painfully cold weather that morning (which is definitely bothering my nasal passages post op!) and my legs just getting back into the swing of things.

Sunday 2/4 - 14 miles



Long run day.  Okay I'm not gonna lie,  I was flipping out I wouldn't be able to do this.  I know it is somewhat irrational, considering only a month ago I ran 13.1 miles and a marathon two days in a row, but this is the first long run I've tried since then, and running hasn't really been smooth sailing since then.  While it was definitely one of the slowest long runs I've done in a while, and it was much more of a struggle at the end then this distance typically is, I was VERY happy to be able to get the miles done.

Total mileage: 42 miles. Happy with the mileage, but wish my relative speed from the fall would return. 

Are you training for anything? I'm a bit off topic for this week, but I'm linking up with the lovely ladies on Tuesdays on The Run


Thursday, February 1, 2018

BOSTON BOUND + February Goals

Usually, I start setting my goals for my next running season as soon as I have recovered from the previous big race. However, after killing it at Dopey (if I do say so myself! recap coming soon - I promise), I sort of put things on hold for a bit.   In less then 6 months, I had finished a half Ironman, marathon, and 48.6 mile running challenge - that is a lot for me, definitely the most I've ever done so close together.  I also had surgery scheduled two days after I returned from Disney, and while I was optimistic it wouldn't keep me down for too long, I didn't know what to expect.  So, no real goals in January.

This turned out to be a smart move, because surgery turned out to be much harder than I expected.  My doctor cleared me to run as soon as the plastic splints came out "based on how I would feel", but what he didn't tell me is how terrible I would continue to fee.

I was able to return to running 9 days post-op, but the first two weeks of running were pretty difficult a huge suckfest. I was running about a minute per mile slower then usual, my legs felt incredibly heavy, and I was getting very fatigued after a mile or two.  By the time I got through my usual 5-6 mile route, I felt as terrible as I do at the end of a marathon, in some ways more terrible. I suppose I was probably pushing a bit too much post-op, but I'm stubborn like that. I was starting to feel very defeated and that was no way a spring marathon would be in the cards for me.

THEN THIS HAPPENED.


Yes, that's right, I AM RUNNING BOSTON! A very kind runner - I call her my fairy godmother - offered me a once-in-a-lifetime chance at an invitational entry.   I am so beyond excited and grateful for this opportunity - something I never saw happening for me.  I had signed up on Tuesday evening, and I got my official letter of acceptance last night. I jumped into week 2 of of Hal Higdon's 12 week Boston plan yesterday, which is a bit short of a time frame, but considering all that I did this past fall/winter, I think I will be okay.  So with that - let's look at this month's goals.

February Goals

Get my legs back on track.  This is one is going to be the hardest to measure because it is most subjective.  Just because I signed up for Boston, doesn't mean all my post Dopey/post op fatigued leg issues magically went away.  But, I am starting to see some upward progress finally, especially since I started upping my iron supplements (iron deficiency is an ongoing issue for me).  Hopefully with continued healing from surgery and smart training, I will start to feel like myself sooner than later.

Make sure to get in one quality workout a week.  800 repeats, hill repeats, tempo runs - I hate all the hard workouts. But if you want to run faster, you gotta run faster right? My plan has these written in, so I just gotta stick with them, and not make excuses for myself.

Start strength training.  I had some restrictions on this one post-op from the doctor, but I expect to be cleared on my 3 week checkout on Monday.  Once that is over with, no more excuses.  I gotta fit it in, starting with twice a week.

Swim once a week.  Again, this is pending clearance from doctor on Monday, but I don't expect this one to be an issue, either.  Swimming is my weakest sport in triathlon, and if I don't keep up with it over the winter, I may drown next tri season.

Drop 2-3 lbs.  I don't have a ton of weight to lose, but I would feel better (and likely run better!) if I get closer to my race weight.  Time to start chipping away at it.

What are your goals for the new month? Tell me!




Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Favorite Hometown Races

This week's prompt for Tuesdays on the Run is your favorite hometown race. But favorite race? As in singular? Oh gosh, that's a tough one!

Big City, Big Races

While I live in CT, mileage wise, the closest city to me New York City.  Therefore, the New York City Marathon is my hometown marathon!  Because of NYRR's amazing 9+1 program (run 9 other races throughout the year, volunteer for 1, you're guaranteed entry for the marathon),  I've had the opportunity to run New York 4 times so far.   And every time I run, I am completely blown away by the absolutely incredible crowds that come out.  As soon as you turn off the Verrazano and head into Brooklyn, the cheering begins, and there is just not on quiet spot on the entire course, with the exception of the rest of bridges, of course. Yes, the race is a pain to get into.  Yes, it turns into an entire day production.  Yes, it's crowded.  Yes, the course can be challenging. But yes, it lives up to the hype.  That is why I am coming back for round 5 this year!

After my first New York in 2010

After my latest New York in 2016
There is also another very famous marathon that's a few hours up the road from me that I've never had the chance to run - but spoiler alert: that's about to change very soon!

Aside from the marathon, NYRR also puts on many other great races throughout the year.   Some of my other favorites are the NYC Half Marathon, Brooklyn Half Marathon and Mini 10K  - but none of them hold a candle to the marathon. The majority of NYRR's races tend to be held in Central Park, so I do my best to seek out the ones that have more interesting courses to fulfill my 9+1 requirements. After all, you can run in the park for free almost any day in the year!

Finishing on the boardwalk in Coney Island is one of the best half marathon finishes

Country Livin'

On the flipside to the big city races,  there are some fantastic races right here in Fairfield County.  In the past few years, there seems to be a half marathon (my favorite distance) practically every month.  The most well known of them is the Fairfield Half Marathon and 5K in June.  This is the race every local loves to hate.  It's a gorgeous course and has a fantastic beach finish, but not only is it pretty hilly, it also is typically hot as Hades! While I don't see this race working as anything but a summer race - after all, a beach finish in October wouldn't be nearly as fun - I wish it would start much earlier to try and beat the heat a bit. 

This year, the organizers moved up the date, so while it may be a bit cooler in year's past, it also competes with our biggest hometown triathlon - Quassy Rev3. Why the organizers could not avoid this, I have no idea.   If Fairfield is "pretty hill" then I would rate Quassy as "giant mountains of death", especially on the bike course.  I did the Olympic distance last year, and in some ways, I think it was tougher than my first half iron.  On the biggest hill climb on the bike, I actually contemplated pulling my bike over and pretending I had  mechanical issue so I could be done LOL. Quassy also offers a 70.3 distance, but I can safely say I will NOT be participating in that distance anytime soon.  But whether I run Fairfield or the Olympic distance at Quassy in the coming year, I do not know yet. It's a tough choice!

Surviving the crazy hills at Quassy last year

Finally, I have to give a shout out to the SONO Half Marathon in October - which is literally in my backyard.  It is so close to me, I've considered running to the start if I needed extra miles! The race will be in its third year, and the race directors, James and Shannon, have done an amazing job bringing a first class event to South Norwalk.  I had to skip last year since it did not fit in my schedule, but I hope to be back this year.

Celebrating my friend's first half finish at SONO in 2016


What are your favorite hometown races?  I'm linking up with the lovely ladies on Tuesdays on The Run

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

2018 Running Predictions

While the new year has been in swing for a few weeks now, I feel like my year is still first starting.  I kicked off the new year running 4 races in 4 days in Disney as a part of the Dopey Challenge, and now I am taking some time off to recover from surgery.  Since I'm forced to take the extra time off (which is probably not the worst thing in the world, considering I finished Ironman 70.3 Maine in late August, Philly Marathon in late November, and now Dopey in early January), it's a great time to sit back and try and set some new goals for the coming year.

Marathon PR or ER

Guys, I was so close to this in 2017.  Currently, my marathon PR is 4:26 from 2013, but my half marathon PR of 1:56 is from last fall, so I know I can at least edge closer to the 4 hour mark.  When I was training for the Philly Marathon, I was using NYRR's Virtual Trainer program.  The selling point of this training plan to me is that the plan is dynamic, meaning as you input your training runs, the program adjusts your mileage, and predicts your marathon time.  At end of the program, it predicted a 4:05-4:10 finish for me.  While I thought that was a little ambitious the program was on drugs for thinking I can run a marathon that fast, I did feel confident that I would be able to smash my old PR.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans for me on race day.  Winds were gusting at over 50 mph, and I had to run into crazy headwinds for the majority of the race, which of course made the race that much more difficult. I finished in 4:29, which is still my second best marathon time, but not the time I thought i was capable of running.  I also managed to run the marathon during Dopey in 4:31 - which is my 3rd fastest time - which I think is pretty promising considering I ran a 5K, 10K, and half marathon consecutively the days before, plus walked an additional 8-10 miles a day in theme parks. 26.2 in 2018 - I am coming for you!
Ready to run Philly!

Get My Nutritional Act Together

From late 2014 until mid 2016, I sort of let my weight slowly get a bit out of control.  I would never say I was overweight per say, but my weight was the highest it's ever been in my life.   Most of my clothes did not fit well, my running was really suffering,  and I just did not feel good about myself.  Training for my first half 70.3 helped snapped me out of it that (have you seen how unforgiving those tri suits are?!) along with very diligently tracking my food using My Fitness Pal and cutting back on my wine.  I sort of let that slide in second half of 2017, and while i haven't gained back all the weight, I have gained back a decent amount.  I'm hoping to find that balance this year between not having to track every little crumb I eat on an app for the rest of my life, but still being able to look and feel good.

Right before Ironman 70.3 Atlantic City, where I felt best

Find a Strength Training Program I Can Stick With

Ask me to bike or run for 3 hours at a time - sure, no problem.  Ask me to lift a few weights for 20-30 minutes, and I can't seem to get it done.  Strength training is something I always seem to struggle with.  I generally do not enjoy it, I do not feel like I know what I am doing, and I don't think I am very good at it (although in full disclosure, I am not a great runner or triathlete either, and that hasn't seemed to stop me, either!) But I do understand the important of weight lifting for overall fitness and in maintaining my weight, so I need to figure something out.  I am hoping to find a class or two that I enjoy enough to be able to incorporate into my weekly routine.

What are you hoping to achieve this next year? I'm linking up with the lovely ladies on Tuesdays on The Run



Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Life Update

Wow - it's been a long time since I last updated.  Last time I posted, I had just finished the first race of the BAA Distance Medley.  I am happy to report that while I did go on to finish the other two races (including my first sub 2 half at the final race), I've also run a ton of other races, too! Here's a quick synaposis of what's been going on the past years.

 I got married!  

This is probably why I fell off the blogging bandwagon to begin with - wedding planning is a ton of work! My now husband proposed not too long after aforementioned BAA 5K, and then my life became a whirlwind.  We got married on October 6th, 2013 at the Water's Edge in CT, and it was absolutely perfect.

Our wedding day


I became an actual triathlete!

While yes, at the time when I was first blogging, I was dabbling in triathlon.  I had completed the New York City Triathlon twice (once in 2012, and then once again in 2014) but truth be told, I had no clue what I was doing.  I was using regular running shoes on the bike, and relied on the super fast current of the Hudson to push me through the swim.  That all changed in late 2015, when Atlantic City announced they were hosting a new Ironman 70.3 race the following year. No hills on the bike? Sounded good to me! I learned how to become an actual cyclist (err - still working on that one...but hey, at least I can clip into my bike so I look like i know what I am doing) and learned how to swim for sport (errr...still working on that one too...but hey, I can make the swim cut offs!) and became an Ironman 70.3 finisher.  I would love to make the jump to a full Ironman one day, but in the meantime, I am doing my best to keep swimming and cycling in the mix, so I can complete one 70.3 a year in the summer in between marathon seasons.

Finishing my first 70.3 was as fulfilling as my first marathon

I ran all the races!

While I would love to to recap all the races I've run since I last started blogging, it is simply just out of control! When we first left off I was training for my third marathon.  Now, I just finished my 12th marathon last Sunday, during the Dopey Challenge (more on that later.).  My half marathon count has also gotten quite high - I hit 69 during Dopey last weekend. Although I haven't hit a new marathon PR since 2013, I did just run a half marathon PR in September (1:56), so I am hoping that elusive new marathon PR is on its way this year.
Four days, four races, 6 medals - definitely Dopey!

I lost my father.

Not exactly the happiest of updates, I know.  But, if you ever read my "about me" page, you know he is pretty much the reason why I started this whole crazy journey, so it would be negligent to not talk about this on my running blog.  He passed away very suddenly this past April, and it was by the far the hardest thing I ever had to face in my life.  Perhaps later on I will have the courage to write a more detailed post, but for now, I will just leave it as I am still missing him very much, every day.

The last race my dad ever ran, and we ran the whole thing together - the 2015 WDW Half Marathon

 

I underwent a septoplasty. 

 My most reason adventure has not been to a new finish line, but to the OR. For years I have been delaying with horrible congestion, partially because of allergies, and partially because I have a deviated septum.  I finally decided to do something about it, and opted to have it surgically correct this past week.  While it is too soon to say as I am still recovering, I am very much hoping it gives me a significant quality of life update (and if it helps me run a little faster, I won't complain, either!) 

Pre-operation in my hospital gown splendor





Monday, April 16, 2012

Marathon Weekend/B.A.A. 5K Recap

This past weekend was the grandfather of all marathons, the Boston Marathon. Although I wasn't in town to run the actual marathon (I'm only 57 minutes over the qualifying time to enter the race..nbd), I was running the pre-marathon 5K.  The B.A.A. 5K is the first in a new three race series, the B.A.A. Distance Medley.  Mike's roommate from college, John, is from a suburb right outside of Boston.  Since he's a new runner himself, we both signed up for the whole series. It's a good way to keep him motivated, and an even better excuse for Mike and I to get to make a few trips up to Boston over the year. 

We hit the road early Saturday so we could be at John's place by the early afternoon. The drive was fairly uneventful, and we made great time.  We got settled in for a bit, and then headed right back out to the expo so we could grab our packets for the am.

Outside the expo
Once we reached the Seaport in South Boston, I got pretty excited. I've been so many expos over the years, but this one just felt different. After all, it's Boston.  Even if I wasn't there to run the actual marathon, it was still exciting to be in town for the weekend.

Marathon fever!
The first thing we did when we got there (other than me stopping to take pictures of every sign that read "Boston Marathon"....yes I'm that lame) was to head back to find the 5K pick up. After all, that's what we were there for, right? We kept following signs until we found the room where it was being held. I was a little disappointed that they were already out of xs shirts, but other than that, everything ran smoothly.
5K packet pickup
Afterwards we wondered around some of the booths. There weren't any vendors there that I haven't seen before, but it's rare to see them all in one spot. It even felt larger than the New York Marathon expo to me, but maybe it was because the space was unfamiliar to me.  I'll admit, I had to control myself from buying any B.A.A. marathon merch (after all, I wasn't running the race!) If I ever do get to run the actual marathon, I better start saving now, because if I do, I'm buying out the expo.

South Boston's waterfront
After the expo, John took us on a little tour of South Boston. We walked around a bit until we ended up at a bar in the South Market to catch the Bruins game. While I personally have zero interest in hockey, I was outnumbered by the boys.  Plus, I was absolutely interested in the delicious calamari and house-made chips and onion dips at the bar. What? Fried food and wine are not optimum pre-race fuels? Nonsense.

We eventually headed back out of the city to pick up bagels for the am and grab an easy dinner before our early wake-up call. Even though the race didn't start until 8 am, we had to leave his house at 6ish. Yuck. Waking up is definitely my least favorite part of racing.


Before I knew it, the alarm was going off for me to get out of bed. I got dressed, headed downstairs and hit the road.  Instead of driving directly into the city and dealing with the lack of parking the inevitable road closures, we drove to the nearest "t-station" (Boston's public transportation system) that was outside of the city, and trained in.

By the time we got to the race's start at Copley Square, it was almost 20 minutes to the gun time.  I had time for about a mile warm up, and then I wiggled my way to a decent starting spot. Close to the front, but not too close. Unlike most NYRR races where you are given your corral based on your past performance, you had to seed yourself. Supposedly there were signs for pace suggestions, but it was too crowded for me to see anything.

As I toed the line, I honestly had no idea what was going to happen. I haven't gotten in many quality workouts, due to my allergies ruining my life the past few weeks.  But I was in Boston during marathon weekend. I was going to give it my best shot.

The gun went of, and I quickly found my stride. The first half mile went by a little too fast - I looked at my Garmin and it read that I was under a 7:30 min/mile.  As much as I would of loved to hang onto that pace for the whole race, it was already feeling rather difficult. As the mile went on, I slipped to about a 8:15 min/mile.

Towards the end of the mile, I spotted a hill. What?! The website clearly said "flat and fast." I am from Miami. Flat and fast means f-l-a-t to me.  Clearly, that definition is more flexible in the northeast.  The hill must of rattled my pace, because I clicked off the first mile in 8:45.

Luckily, what comes up, must come down, and I was able to regain some speed in the beginning of the second mile.  It was tough to push through, but I tried to keep going.  I heard someone shout behind me "Oh, we're going at about a 8:30 mile pace" rather easily to his friend. Hmm, this pace was not conversational to me!

After what felt like eternity, the Garmin clicked off my second mile at 8:30 min/mile. One more mile, I told myself. Just keep going! The pace definitely felt uncomfortable to me, but I did my best to hang on.  Surprisingly, the Garmin seemed to hover at around a 8:20 min/mile.

Finally, we made the last turn onto Boylston  Street.  I don't know my way around Boston very well, but I do know the final stretch down Boylston Street meant the finish line was very close.  I saw the line in the distance, and thought for a split second I might be able to crack 26 minutes. Clearly,  the finish line was a bit deceptive, because as I ran harder and harder, the line didn't seem to get any closer.  I gave it one last push, and finally, I crossed! Final time: 26:50.

Yes, the 5K shared the same finish as the marathon
 I made my way through the crowd, and stopped before the finisher's tent to try and catch John. He didn't have his phone on him, so I was a little worried about how we would all find each other. Luckily, Mike had staked out a great spot right by the finish, and spotted him as he crossed. Since Mike was able to text me when he saw John finish, I was able to grab him right before the tent.

As we proceeded through the tent, we got a pre-packaged food bag and our medals (yes, medals for a 5K!).  Even though it was a short race, I thought it was a nice touch, especially for those who were racing for the first time.
Tech shit, bib, and medal
Once the three of us all re-grouped, we made our way out of the finisher's area as quickly as possible. It was still so early, so we decided to take advantage of the rest of the day to explore the rest of Boston.
Post-race at Boston Common
John was a great guide, and we did the touristy thing by checking out most of the stops on the Freedom Trail.  The last time I was in Boston I was about 17, so I only had vague memories of the sights. And since Mike is a social studies teacher, the history is never old to him.  While the weather was warm for running (sorry marathoners!) it was quite lovely to walk around in short sleeves, skirts, and sandals.

Before we knew it, it was after 3, and time to head back to the t-station. After all, Mike and I had a long drive ahead of us, and we had all been up since 5:30 am! I was sad we were not able to hang around for the actual marathon, but the real world was beckoning to us.

It was a fabulous weekend, and Boston is quite a lovely city. I can't wait to come back for the second race in the series, the 10K in a few months, and hopefully, one day, the actual marathon!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Running Through Spring Allergies

When I was training for the NYC Half, I often contemplated about trying for a late spring marathon. After all, I was almost there with 40+ miles per week and 16 mile long runs. All I would have to do is to keep up the miles, run some 18s and 20s. And viola! I would so be there.

And now, I remembered why I have always been weary about spring marathons.

Allergy season. Allergy season and its damn pollen count.
Trees in full bloom might look pretty, but they might just be my undoing.
I'm pretty allergic to mold, dust, pollen, grass, trees, cats, horses practically everything except food, so these past few weeks have been hell for me since the pollen count has been so high. I've been able to function fairly well thanks to lots of medication, but running has been pretty tough. Some days are better than others, but on the bad days, it literally feels like a brick is pressing on my lung. My easy pace feels like an all out sprint effort at times.  I've been trying to walk the fine line between knowing when to call it quits (i.e. letting a tempo run turn into an easy run or shaving a mile or 2 off a long run if I'm really having trouble) and having the mental toughness to plow through and still get my workouts in.
Tulips are a sure sign of spring. And, I think they are one of the few flowers I'm not allergic to. Hooray!
Usually hitting the pool is the bane of my existence.  But surprisingly enough, I have found swimming to be a great escape from my allergy hell. The chlorine must kill off all those allergens or something.  Between the allergy relief and my slow-but-steady improvement, I am actually starting to enjoy swimming. Who knew?

So why bother to try and run (and bike) during this time of year? Well,  I am currently signed up for an Olympic tri in less than three months and I'm a little unsure how everything is going to come together at this point.  But races aside, the sights of spring still make my suffering with it.  After all, how can a treadmill compare to this...
Doesn't this make you wish for bathing suit season?

only to encounter this less then 3 miles later?
Deer! How could I not stop to snap this photo?
Sometimes you just have to stop to appreciate the little things.

I'm sure I'm not the only one suffering from horrendous allergies this time of year. I wish I had more pearls of wisdom to share on surviving this season.  But clearly, the best advice I can give is to load up on meds and get through it the best you can. Sorry. But if you have any magic solutions, I would love to hear them!

Until then, I'll just be hiding in my bed with my tissues.