Well, as you might have guessed from the title of this post–winter is back with a vengeance in Boston. I had a fantastic week of training and was super stoked to hit my first 40+ mile week, but mother nature sure didn’t make it easy. This was actually my second-highest weekly mileage ever–and it didn’t even feel that hard!! Hurrah for training and especially hurrah for wise coaching 🙂
I started things off with a nice long recovery run before hitting the track for probably the last time in a little while. I love Nike’s track workouts but they’re a little bit shorter and faster (ha) than the speedwork I should be doing for marathon training–my workouts should be geared more towards stuff like tempos and mile repeats. Wednesday I did my banded strength routine and then went to my favorite yoga class for a much-needed sweaty stretch session.
Thursday morning I had tempo miles on the books–and I did NOT want to get my butt out of bed. But I did, and it was pretty great. The only runs you regret are the ones you don’t do, right? I had 5 miles at half MGP, and while the first one felt pretty intense, the rest really flowed and ended up being even faster than expected. It was definitely the confidence boost I needed before I race this coming weekend.
Friday I shook my legs out and unfortunately started the process of freaking out about my long run Saturday. I had 17 on the books and a couple of my pals had 18 and 20, so we joined a group bright and early for a bus ride from downtown Boston out to Ashland, which is at mile 3 of the marathon route. It was really, really, really cold, with “real feels” below 0 degrees for the entire run. I wanted to take it really easy but we ended up running a little bit faster than goal pace, mostly just to keep warm! Word to the wise–gels turn into chews at sub-zero temperatures…
I was super grateful for the company on this run, and even more grateful for the free burrito bowl at the end! My 17 miles turned into a strong 18, and I’m feeling even more confident that I’m on track to meet my goals. The rest of the weekend consisted of an annual bonfire party with friends and lots of cooking and blizzard prep–we’re slated to get 16″ tomorrow. Here’s hoping it clears up for my half marathon next Sunday…
Week 6: 43.2 total miles
Monday: 7.1 recovery
Tuesday: Track attack! 5 miles total, workout was 6:45 avg. (details here)
Wednesday: Strength circuit and 90 minute vinyasa yoga
Thursday: Tempo tempo tempo–1 up, 5 at half MGP (7:30, 7:28, 7:26, 7:11, 7:22), 1 down
Hey friends! I’m back with a wee little update on my 2017 goals, which have changed a fair amount since I last posted about them. First and foremost, I did some hard thinking/planning and decided that if I want to run a marathon in the next year or two, this spring is really the best time–since fall 2017 and spring 2018 are both out due to my wedding and honeymoon (I know, rough life!)
So of course, the next step was to figure out which marathon to run! I did a lot of reflecting after both New York and Chicago, and I knew this time around I wanted something small and not too far away. I immediately thought of the Sugarloaf Marathon, which was where my brother ran his first BQ in 2014. I actually ran the 15k that year and loved it, which is a good sign since it’s last 9 miles of the marathon course. Sugarloaf known as a fast net downhill race and a great place to BQ. Plus, it’s within driving distance and near our cabin (where J and I are getting married in September). It’s also in May in Maine, which usually brings some nice cool weather. Sold, sold, sold!
The other thing I’ve been threatening to do for a while is to bite the bullet and hire a running coach to help me reach my goals. I did some poking around online and ended up entering a giveaway for a 2 week coaching trial from Laura over at This Runner’s Recipes. I’ve been reading her blog for years and I think she provides some of the smartest, sanest, most well-researched running advice out there. Plus, she ran an incredibly well-executed BQ marathon at CIM this December–basically, she ran the race I hoped to run in Chicago.
When I didn’t win the giveaway, Laura offered a free coaching trial anyway and I loved it. I’ll go in-depth in another post, but having a coach has been fantastic–it takes all of the guesswork and planning out of marathon training! I know the plan I’m following makes sense for my background and my goals. Laura has been really flexible in incorporating my group runs and races into my plan. Here’s a quick overview of what the last few weeks have looked like–not sure if I’m going to officially call it marathon training just yet, but I’m easing into ramped up mileage and getting ready for my half in March.
Week 2: Cutback week! Lots of easy miles, 30 total
Monday: 60 minutes of yoga and 3 very slow recovery miles
Wednesday: 5.6 easy
Thursday: 4 easy
Friday: 4.3 treadmill miles on “rolling hills”
Saturday: 13 slushy, cold miles
Sunday: 90 minute yoga
I’m hoping to get back into my weekly marathon training updates–I really enjoy reading everyone else’s and hope mine are helpful too. It’s going to be so fun to jump back into some really strategic training and finally get that BQ I know I’m ready for! Round 3 here we GO!!
It’s officially my favorite season–cool temps, #foliageonfleek, pumpkin everything–how can you not just LOVE fall?? I’m also really enjoying have a bit more flexibility in my workouts instead of following a strict training plan. I’m definitely very type A so I’m sure this will change soon, but I’m going with it for now. I definitely thought I would miss having a training plan more than I have so far!
Basically, the past few weeks I’ve been sticking with doing something active 6 days a week (some habits are good ones to keep around), but more of those days have been things other than running (i.e. lots of yoga). In case you’re curious, I have a yearly unlimited membership to Yogaworks Back Bay. I did the math and figured out that if I go an average of twice a week, it’s much cheaper than buying class packs or waiting for sales. I have a whole post on saving money on yoga classes–check it out here if you’re interested!
I think in terms of marathon recovery, I probably could have taken more time off than I did, but I was itching to get back out there so I went with it. You live, you learn! I am still feeling some residual tightness in my hip flexors, but the yoga is helping loosen them up. I do have a half marathon in a few weeks, so I’m hoping to get in a couple of longer runs (8-10 miles) in addition to track workouts, and then see how things go from there. It is lovely to be able to vary my workouts based on what I’m in the mood for–or even skip them altogether if that’s how I’m feeling. We also got a hike in last weekend up Mount Monadnock, which is just lovely–under 2 hours from Boston and a pretty quick hike (2.5-ish hours total if you’re moving briskly). Not the easiest but the views are worth it.
In non-running news, J and I are finally making some progress with wedding planning! I have my dress and we officially booked our first vendor. I’m finding this process to be pretty annoying, so it’s nice to see a couple of things fall into place. My running/wedding related question is–is this worth $140?? I think it’s adorable and we’re gonna do some wedding weekend runs for sure, but it’s a fair amount of money! Thoughts??
Also, because old habits die hard, here’s a workout recap from post-marathon until now. I think it’s really interesting to see how other people transition from recovery back into a new routine, so I hope this is helpful!
10/14: 60 minute yoga (ouch)
10/15: 3.8 easy fall miles
10/16: 90 minute yoga
10/17: 3.9 miles at 8:09 pace
10/18: Back to TRACK! 24×200
10/19: First November Project stadium workout! 19 sections (again, ouch)
10/21: 90 minute hip hop yoga
10/22: First “long” run–5.7 miles at 8:15 pace
10/23: Mount Monadnock hike!
10/24: 5.1 easy miles
10/25: Track attack! 5.9 miles total, speedwork at 6:54 (details here)
Howdy, friends! I’m back to recapping my time in Chicago–click here if you missed my race day recap. It was such a fun weekend to be in town! Chicago is one of my favorite cities, and it happens to be where one of my favorite friends lives. Here’s a recap of what we did before and after the race–including lots of food and a little bit of Hamilton!
I’ll rewind back to last Thursday, when we flew out late in the day and popped into Lyfe Kitchen for a quick dinner. We really liked it–they had a nice and varied menu with lots of gluten free options. Friday morning we were up relatively early–J wanted to pop into the November Project workout and I wanted to get rolling pretty early to the expo. We hopped on a shuttle around 9am from one of the downtown hotels and it dropped us off right at the expo–definitely a super smooth way to get there.
Having been to the marathon expos in both NYC and Boston I have to say this one was really well organized and actually not that overwhelming–although we did miss Shalene Flanagan’s book signing, which I was bummed about. We snagged my number and t-shirt and then I picked out my splurge marathon swag item–a red half-zip I have basically been living in since the race. It’s really easy to get overzealous and spend way too much time walking around (and shopping around) at the expo, so I’m pleased we were able to sneak out with just a few purchases. J did get me one of these babies as a marathon present and I LOVE IT. Totally worth spending the money for the real deal.
After the expo we meandered our way up to Wheat’s End Cafe, where had to keep myself from ordering every single thing on the menu–the entire restaurant is gluten free!! Nirvana. In the end we split a pumpkin cinnamon roll and I had a fig, brie, and prosciutto sammie. Next time I’ll have to come back and try the gf popover!
We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering down through the zoo–I’m not the biggest zoo person (they make me a little sad) but we had a great time. It’s super cool that the zoo there is free and easily accessible. We met up with my college bestie Deby and made our way to The Northman, which is a cider bar! So cool–I really loved the ones we tried. We need one of these in Boston, stat. The evening was spent catching up and chowing down at Homeslice, which has fabulous gf pizza. Good food, good times, good people 🙂
Saturday morning I harangued J into coming on my shakeout run with me, so we did some run-sightseeing and stopped by the bean for the requisite photo opp. We also checked out the runner reunite area to get our bearings for Sunday. Post-run we met back up with Deby and ventured to Grange Hall for my pre-race lunch burger. This baby is sitting on top of two slices of gf french toast and is topped with bacon, Canadian bacon, cheese, and an egg. WOOF. I swear there is actually a burger under there somewhere…
Basically all that eating had to be enough to sustain me through the many emotional ups and downs of finally seeing Hamilton!!! I am a total musical nerd and have been obsessively listening to the soundtrack for a good year, so when I saw the show was going to be in town I bit the bullet and spent way too much on a couple of tickets. I have to say that it was totally worth every penny–I laughed, I cried (a couple of times… ok, maybe 3…) and just absolutely adored it. It was hands-down it was one of the best theater experiences I’ve ever had. Other musical geeks, get at it–it’s worth it.
Post-Hamilton we grabbed a simple dinner at Whole Foods and hunkered down for some TV time while I prepped all of my race stuff. Then, you know, I ran a marathon (obviously it has its own post). After the race we wound down at Deby’s and then had lunch with another college friend. I’m usually not super hungry after a big race (the next day though, watch out!) so we took things easy. It was so nice to celebrate with these fine folks!
Just to make our departure experience extra exciting, we got to the airport to watch our flight get delayed due to the hurricane… twice… so we bit the bullet and decided to reschedule for the following morning, which meant staying at a hotel and eating some microwaveable meals for dinner. Definitely not a high note on which to end our weekend, but I was SO ready to sleep and grateful to get home at a reasonable hour. Overall it was a wonderful weekend and lovely to see so many great people and eat so many delicious things!
I’ll be back shortly with a more running-centric look at what went well, what went not so well, and what my future plans are in regards to the marathon.
I think it’s going to take more than one post to fully cover all of my thoughts on my Chicago Marathon experience, but I’m going to dive in and get right to the heart of it with a recap of the race itself. Warning: long post ahead!
Let’s go back in time to early Sunday morning, when I woke up around 5 and headed down to the kitchen of our (super cool and nice) hostel to make my bagel and banana. The whole place, of course, was full of sleepy runners chowing down on their pre-race meals. I left myself lots of time to eat and sip coffee leisurely… by which I actually mean running to the bathroom 7 times. #runnerprobs. The coolest thing about Chicago other than the fact that it actually starts at a reasonable morning hour (looking at you, NYC and Boston and your post-10am start times) is that most people end up staying close enough to walk to the start. Even in the dark, at 6 am, the city’s main streets were full of runners all heading downtown. Excitement! Nervousness! I have to pee again!
I rendezvoused with the girls at Alexa’s downtown hotel and we made our way together to the start area. Despite being a huge race (around 40K finishers–for reference NYC has around 50K and Boston has approximately 30K) everything was incredibly well organized, and we found our start gate no sweat. We had a few minutes to spare before our 7:30 start time so we waited for one last stop in the porto potties before entering our corral. We squeezed up to the front and chatted a bit with some of the vets around us–and then we were off!
As pretty much everyone will tell you, you run under a bridge during the first mile or so of the race and everyone’s GPS watches get completely thrown off for the rest of the race. So that happened. For evidence, take a look at my Strava which somehow thinks I ran 27.6 miles… yeah, NO. Also, we tried our best to follow the blue line painted on the street that is supposed to help you run the shortest race distance–not sure it was helpful, but it was definitely distracting!
The first 13 miles were a little bit of a blur, but a really fun/fast one where I got to see J and my Boston running friends Aime and Liz all within the first few miles (hi guys!!) One of my buddies, Danielle, had a 3:30 pace bib on her back so we ended up with a little crew of people all aiming for the same goal time. We ran with them for about 15 miles or so–they were lovely! Given our messed up watches we had to put a fair amount of mental math into keeping ourselves on pace, but we hit the half mark at 1:45:40, putting us almost exactly on track for our goal. (I think this was mistake number one, TBH–more on this to come!)
The second half was where things started to unravel a little bit. I lost both Danielle and Alexa around mile 16. I ran with one of our other newfound 3:30 buddies until mile 18 or so when I stopped for a quick bathroom break. This was followed by a couple of miles of pretty bad cramps, which I think may have been due to a bit too much water too fast (it was getting hotter and I was definitely drinking to compensate). Either way, I was not feeling fantastic, and my pace definitely reflected that.
It was about at this point that I knew 3:30 wasn’t going to happen.
I’m actually glad I was alone at the moment of that revelation. It wasn’t easy, and I needed to keep my head in the game to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I plugged in my headphones and set my mind on thinking about mile 21, where I knew Jeremy and my bestie Deby and her bf would be cheering. Headphones on, my new goal was just to keep moving. My cramps had cleared up but I was feeling it in my legs. And hot, still hot–it had been in the mid 50s at the start but it inched up to almost 70 in the sun at the finish. I trooped by my fans, which gave me a big boost, and aimed my mind ahead to the finish. I HAD this. I was going to finish and I was going to hit a big PR! The last few miles were loud and crowded, and I kept my focus forward, trying to ignore the runners around me who had juice left to pick it up for the final push.
At the very end of the race there is a tiny hill/bridge that feels like a mountain–I pushed myself to work up it and ticked off the 800, 400, and 200 meter signs to plod through the finish line. It was a big rush of emotions–mostly grateful to be done, mostly proud, a little bit angry that I still had to walk to get to Jeremy and a place to sit, and a little bit disappointed. I held it together and hobbled out of the chute (which is not as long as NY but not short) and grabbed a water, snack bag, and a bag of ice (because why not…?) I trekked through family meeting area, where I pretty much collapsed onto J and let a couple of tears and a bunch of sweat fly onto his shoulder. I was DONE, and ready to be happy and proud. I did something I never thought I could come close to doing.
So the big overall takeaway? I ran my first marathon 11 months ago in 4:05:54, and I ran my second marathon this past weekend in Chicago in 3:36:03. I am incredibly proud of this accomplishment–I know that it’s no trivial feat to cut 29 minutes off of a marathon time in less than a year. That said, I would have loved to scoot in under 3:32 or so for a Boston Qualifying time, and I think that given the right circumstances it’s something that I still have in me. Much more to come on my weekend adventures in Chicago, HAMILTON, the marathon expo, and my reflections on this training cycle–where I’ll revisit my takeaways from last year and and see how I measure up. Plus I’ll include some thoughts on what’s next for me 🙂
Thank you for reading, commenting, and supporting me throughout this training cycle! I’ve had so much fun documenting everything and will absolutely be continuing to chronicle my journey moving forward. Happy trails!
Though sweat, pain, and tears, I did it! It was just shy of my goal but with a 3:36:06 finish, I managed a 29 minute PR. Lots of thoughts and a full recap to come, but the deepest thanks and lots of love to Jeremy, Alexa, Danielle, and Deby for being the best supporters during every step of this journey.
“If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.” – Katherine Switzer
What a wild ride it has been.. and it all comes down to this! We fly out to Chicago tomorrow and the race is just a few short days away. If you’re interested in tracking me on race day, the easiest way to do so is to to download the Bank of America Chicago Marathon app and then look me up. My bib number is 7955, and I start at 7:30 a.m. CT–if all goes well I’ll finish around 11 a.m. Here’s a quick overview of my strategy for Sunday:
Take it easy Saturday pre-race: After we see Hamilton (OMG OMG OMG) on Saturday at 2:00 p.m., the rest of the day is committed to laying low, making dinner at our hostel (major bonus), and getting to bed early. No major walking around allowed!!
Start with Alexa and Danielle, but don’t hesitate to split up if we need to: If you’ve been reading along for a while you probably noticed that I’ve been doing most of my long runs with these two awesome ladies from track. We are all aiming for a 3:30 finish, and we do really well pacing each other. That said, we’ve agreed it’s a-ok for us to split up if and when we need to.
Fuel and hydrate strategically: I actually plan to carry my handheld water bottle since I’ve gotten really comfortable with it. I think if I’m able to have the water station volunteers fill it once or twice I should be good to go–way easier than trying to get a cup of water into my mouth every mile! I also am sticking with my 2 packs of Clif Shot Blocks–one with caffeine and the second without. This has worked well for me during training and I don’t want to switch anything up at the last minute.
Follow the blue line and stay left: One of the biggest pieces of advice I’ve heard about Chicago is that with all of the turns most runners end up running close to 27 miles–but apparently if you follow the blue lines on the street and stay to the left, you can minimize that extra distance. Challenge = accepted.
If you’ve run Chicago before, I’m all ears in terms of any last-minute helpful hints. If you’re going to be in Chicago, keep an eye out on the insta for my race day outfit and look for me!! Other runners–GOOD LUCK! WE’VE GOT THIS!
Hello hello from taper land! We are less than one week away from Chicago and I couldn’t be more excited. The miles are getting shorter, the forecast looks incredible (high of 62 with a low of 48 overnight!), the anal packing list has been started, and I’m focusing in on staying super hydrated and getting lots of rest.
This past week I topped out at 27.3 miles, which felt like a lot for a taper week but actually was my lowest mileage week since early June. As I mentioned last week, all of my runs at this point are highly specific and coach-approved, basically consisting of lower mileage with some very calculated speedwork targeted at getting me really comfortable and familiar with my marathon goal pace (MGP) of 8:00/mile. I ended the week with a 9.8 miler with one of the track ladies, where we averaged exactly 8:00s! I’ll be posting about my race-specific plans and goals later on this week, but as I have alluded to in the past, I think this is my year to quality for Boston. This will mean aiming for a 3:30 finish, although anything under 3:32 should do the trick. More to come on that 🙂
Oddly enough, this was actually the first really rainy week of the whole training cycle (I guess the only good thing about the drought?) so I modified my schedule a little bit to avoid any running in the rain blister issues. Also, while my appetite is generally pretty ragey during marathon training, it was out of control this week. I think some added stress at work probably fueled the fire, but I’m listening to my body and making sure I have lots of healthy snacks at the ready.
To wrap up, here’s a quick list of Chicago things I am so excited for: seeing my college bestie and her lovely bf, eating lots of amazing delicious gluten-free things, SEEING HAMILTON, staying and playing in one of my favorite cities, and oh yeah… seeing all of the benefits of my hard work and training pay off on Sunday!
Monday: 5.6 miles
Tuesday: 3 miles at MGP + 6 x strides, 7:32 average
Whelp, another couple of weeks and another missed weekly recap–oh well! We had a couple of jam-packed weeks which included 2 weekends in Maine, my 29th birthday, the first week of fall classes, an absolutely nutty time at work, a half marathon, and a friend’s wedding. PHEW.
Rewinding to last week, I knew we were heading up to Maine for the first half of the holiday weekend so I met the girls Thursday morning for our 3 hour long run. The idea of this run was to run around a minute slower per mile than MGP (marathon goal pace) but to run for 3 full hours. We ended up covering about 21 miles at an 8:45 average pace. It was actually pretty challenging to purposely take the run slow, but I felt strong by the finish so mission accomplished. Grateful as always to have found such great long run buddies! I ran some fun workout-type runs in Maine and rounded out the week at 43.6 miles total, which is my highest weekly mileage to date.
Week 14 was a cutback week before I hit my longest run this coming weekend, so I registered for a small half marathon in Maine with my OG running buddy, Bry–we ran a half for her birthday so we decided to do one for mine too. Full recap to come soon, but despite some crazy weather we had a great time. Spoiler alert below in the full recap–not bad for a hilly course and less than ideal conditions.
Other updates: I managed to squeeze a massage into my schedule and it was SO necessary! It really relieved some of the hip tightness I had felt creeping back in, and it felt amazing for my shoulders which had gotten crazy tight with the work and school stress. I also finally invested in a new pair of shoes. I decided to stick with my Asics and the news ones are feelin’ excellent so far.
I’m definitely getting to the point in training that I’m just a little bit tired of constantly thinking about my running schedule, especially now that I’m back in classes and things have picked up at work, but I feel strong and ready heading into the last month of training. Time to start crossing all of my fingers and toes for good conditions!! Full recap below.
Wednesday: 4 easy miles
Thursday: 21 mile slow n’ steady long run at 8:46 average pace
Saturday: 3 big hills, 2 tempos (7:37 and 7:08), strides
Sunday: 3 miles
Monday: 4 negative split miles at an 8:08 average, 90 minute yoga
Hi all! My dear friend from college asked me to put together a post about my favorite running clothes, so of course I had to do it. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’m a major creature of habit when it comes to my exercise clothes. When I find something I love, I’ll wear it forever (case in point: the purple tank top/white visor combo below). Here’s a candid, unsponsored overview of a few of my favorites… Deby, this one’s for you!
Tops: As a curvy gal, I love the fit of Athleta’s tank tops. They tend to be the only ones that are fitted but not skintight, and they come in a great variety of cuts and colors. Also, for my short ladies, it can be super tricky to find tanks in an appropriate length!! Hip length usually = a cute mini-dress. Athleta to the rescue! Just be sure to size down–I wear an XXS here vs. a 4/6 at Lulu. Unfortunately my number one favorite tank I can’t seem to find this season, but the Surge Tank seems to be the closest thing–super lightweight for hot days. I also love the Chi Tank–a slightly heavier fabric but it works for running or yoga. I swear this only fits me correctly in the varied stripe version. It also happens to be on sale–go for it!
Shorts: I’ve written in the past about my love for slightly longer shorts, but this summer as my body composition has shifted a bit (thank you speedwork) I’ve started opting for shorter and more fitted pairs. I don’t totally love supporting Lululemon, but for long runs you can’t beat their Speed Track shorts. They have the perfect mid-length inseam and enough pockets to store your phone, keys, headphones, credit cards, and Gu without batting an eyelash.
Bras: Every time a bustier runner mentions bra issues, all I say over and over again is Moving Comfort, Moving Comfort, Moving Comfort. These bras are INCREDIBLE–I never ever wear anything but the Rebound Racer! I love that this lightweight bra has relatively narrowly spaced straps that don’t cut up under my arms (short people problems), no weird foam cup padding, and super adjustable straps. This baby has nearly eliminated any chafing issues for me!
Socks: Apologies for this whole post turning into a rant about short people probz, but being a smaller sized human comes with having very very tiny feet. This means I need socks that come in a full range of sizes (one size fits all is a hoax!) I also like a good amount of padding in my socks since I’m pretty blister-prone, and a nice cotton-y feel. Enter Bombas! These babies do the trick, and they have tons of fun colors to boot. If you’re looking for a good compression sock, I love Pro Compression’s Marathon socks, although they’re a little thin so I mostly use them for recovery. I’ve been lusting after the Marathon Elites which have more padding to actually run in, but at $55 I’m hesitant. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve tried ’em!
Headwear: It may not be the coolest-looking thing, but if you’re training in the summer, do yourself a favor and get a visor!! I have this super basic one from Target and it is a life saver.