Sunday, October 26, 2014

four weeks to Philly

Four more weeks until I will be running around the streets of Philadelphia. This is both exciting and terrifying. While I don't feel ready yet...I do think I will be with a few more weeks of miles under my legs and Hokas. I finished this week at 47.4 miles total. While I'm not 100% sure, I am pretty confident that is my highest mileage week ever. It definitely is the highest of this training cycle. I felt pretty good all week with the exception of Saturday's long run. I managed to catch a pretty good cold at the end of last week, just in time for a planned 20 mile run. Other than that small set back, I had a really great week of training. I'm hoping more miles will equal more confidence come race day.

sometimes you just have to stop and take a picture
of the leaves and your matching hokas

I haven't been posting a whole lot about my training lately, but I thought with four weeks left to go, I'd post a recap of each week leading up to the Marathon. So, here we go:

October 20-26

Monday: OFF

Tuesday: 10 x 1 min on, 1 min off @ 10k pace with 15 min warm up and cool down - 5.4 miles total. I always like this workout. I did all 10 slightly faster than 10k pace.

Wednesday: 40-50 min easy on the schedule. I ran 56 min easy for a total of 6 miles. My coach told me if I feel good on these easy days that I can go a little longer than what's on the schedule. I've been trying to do this whenever I feel up for it.

Thursday: 8 x mile @ MP with 1 min rest - 11 miles total with warm up and cool down. I was a little unsure of how this one would go. I had to work early that day (5:30am-2), which meant I'd have to run after work. Running after work is not something I enjoy, and typically feels pretty sluggish. It was also rainy and super windy that day. I told myself I have no idea what the weather could be like on race day, and if I got through this workout in unfavorable conditions, it would only help me if the weather on November 23 isn't the best. I've also been feeling like I've had a bit of a mental block or something during marathon pace workouts. They always feel harder than I feel they should, and I'm usually left questioning myself and my ability. I've been doing some longer track workouts this cycle at MP, which have been going really well. I told myself if I could do 1200's I was capable of doing these mile repeats (just one more time around the track is how I mentally prepped myself). In addition to everything mentioned above, Thursday was when I started feeling my cold coming on. I planned to start slow with my warmup and see how I felt. I knew I could stop at any point, and I would if need be, but I wanted to give it a try. After a lot of mental prep, I slowly ran out to one of my favorite places to run, Horn Pond, and started my workout. I felt amazing. Every mile felt better than the last. Even as the wind and rain continued to soak me from head to toe, I was so happy to be out there, killing this workout. Huge confidence boost after that one.

one of the trails at Horn never disappoints

Friday: OFF - Friday's are typically rest days for me, but I was especially happy for this rest day because I woke up feeling pretty sick and run down. I stayed home from work and spent the day on the couch.

sick day on the couch made better by the delivery
of these amazing moto lesley tights 

Saturday: I wanted to do my long run on Saturday because we were going to a wedding in NH Saturday night. I knew a long run on Sunday would be out of the question. I got up at 5:30 to try and get through 20 miles before we needed to leave. I hardly slept that night for some reason and woke up sneezing and sniffling like crazy. I took some DayQuil and prepped like I normally would for a long run. I figured I'd give it a try and if I wasn't feeling it, I'd cut it short. The first few miles felt tough, but then I got in to a bit of a groove around miles 6-12. Then suddenly at mile 12 I knew 20 would be a stretch that day. I slowed my pace way down and got through 18. I was disappointed I didn't make it to 20, but my body forced me to listen.

Sunday: 40-45 min easy on the schedule. Thankfully I felt much better today, though surprising considering I danced the night away Saturday night at the wedding. I wanted to run a few extra miles to make up for what I couldn't do Saturday, so I would still end the week around 47 miles. I felt a little tired, but generally good. I kept the pace slow and enjoyed a beautiful fall day in New England.

Right now I'm feeling ready to go in to the next 4 weeks. I'm excited to get another shot at a 20 mile run next weekend (IN NEW YORK!) and 22 miles (YIKES) the following weekend. I feel like I'll be more prepared for this marathon and I'm loving the training process. I really feel like some good things are to come.

Sunday funday beautiful rainbow

Monday, October 13, 2014

next stop...PHILLY!

After a not so great first half of the year racing, the second half has been a big improvement and a big confidence boost. I've ran a couple PR's, most recently at the Smuttynose Half Marathon, and training has been steadily improving. All good things! Now I've just got to keep this train moving forward for 6 more weeks and I'm golden. If only it were that simple.

flying high at the Smuttynose Half

I've decided not to race anymore between now and November 23. I feel like this will allow me to really focus on my training and make sure I get enough long runs in as well as ample recovery time. This is something I didn't do for Newport RI or Vermont City. I'm hoping it will help me feel more rested, prepared, and ready to fly come race day. 

Why Philly? 
I've been asked this question a few times recently. When Vermont City didn't go so well, I initially thought I would take some time off from running marathons. I scared myself when I finished overheated, dehydrated, and landed myself in the medical tent. However, it's amazing how just a few days rest can get you thinking about the next one. 

My first thought was that I would run something new, but close to home. I thought about running the Baystate Marathon, which is known for being flat and fast. It sounded like a good idea. But the more I thought about it, the less excited I became. I felt like I wanted something a little later in the year (Baystate is actually this weekend, October 19). The slight possibility of a warm day in October was enough to steer me away. I couldn't handle another unexpectedly warm weekend like VT. I also felt like I wanted a little extra time in between marathons to feel more mentally prepared. 

During the time I was trying to decide what to do, I saw some chatter on twitter from a few Oiselle teammates who were running the Philadelphia Marathon or Half Marathon. This got me thinking. I've been wanting to travel for a race, and while Philly isn't too far from Boston, it would require me getting on a plane...or getting comfy in a car for many hours. I would have the opportunity to race with, meet, and spend time with some birds I've met IRL, and others I've only "met" through social media. I quickly became very excited about the possibility. I reached out to Danielle, who was one of my amazing Ragnar teammates back in May, and who also happens to live in Philadelphia. So Danielle, when you said I was welcome to come visit anytime, you really meant that, right? Ok good. After a few emails back and forth, and the reassurance that Philly was Danielle's favorite marathon, I clicked register and started searching the internet for flights. I was fired up and ready to tackle the marathon once again.

Carolyn, myself, and Danielle...can't wait to be reunited with these ladies next month

The next few weeks of training look pretty intense, complete with two 20 mile runs, and a 22 miler. I was admittedly terrified when I first saw that. After some time to digest and think about it, I'm more excited than terrified, and I know I will be much more prepared this time around. I'm coming for you, Philly! 

Have you ran the Philadelphia Marathon? What was your experience like?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Smuttynose Rockfest Half Recap and a new PR

I didn't think I would write this post tonight, but as I sit here waiting for the Patriots to start while the bf is asleep on the couch, I can't help but continue to relive my race at the Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon this morning. I am too damn happy.

Let me rewind a bit. I set a pretty lofty goal at the beginning of the year to PR in every race distance I ran in 2014. I knew it was a possible goal, but a big one. I also knew when I set that goal that my half marathon PR would be one of the toughest to break. My current PR (at the beginning of the year) had been set in May of 2013 at Boston Run to Remember. I had tried to surpass that number of 1:46:48 multiple times, with no luck. Just as it's larger counterpart (the marathon) the half can be a tricky one. However, I knew I had it in me. I knew I was capable. I knew I could do it.

Today started as every other race morning does. I had to drive about an hour to get to the starting line. I played some music loudly in my car to get pumped up, and of course had to make a bathroom pit stop on the way. When I got to Hampton I met up with my friends who were also running, warmed up in their car, waited in line for the bathroom, and eventually headed to the starting line.

My friend Lori was running the race and we briefly talked ahead of time about starting in the first wave of people who hoped to finish under 1:50. She had never finished a half under 1:50 and that was her big goal. I was secretly hoping to PR, but would have been happy with a sub 1:50 finish. We found each other at the start, she nervously chatted while we waited for the green light, and I listened while trying to keep warm. It was cold in the shade and the wind. Maybe 45 degrees. My legs and hands got pretty cold while waiting. I tried to keep them warm, but it was tough. Before I knew it it was time to go and we were running.

beautiful morning for a race

I thought maybe I should start a little slower than my planned pace of 8:10 to get my legs warmed up because of the cold.  However, as I started running a bit I felt ok and decided to go with whatever pace felt manageable, no matter what it may be. I think the first mile beeped right at 8:10. OK. I'm ok, I thought. Lori and I were running very close together and it was helpful to have her in my sight.

When I ran Boston 13.1  a couple weeks ago I felt amazing through the first 10 miles. I was riding a high and felt like nothing could stop me. I believed I could PR. Then mile 10 hit and I crashed. Hard. Today I didn't feel that same high, I didn't ever feel like I could run forever. I knew I would have to fight for it, but I was ready.

As the miles went on I managed to run at a consistent pace... 8:00, 7:59, 7:59. 7:58, 8:00... I felt strong, but it didn't feel easy. I made mini goals for myself. I pushed. Lori was a step ahead of me most of the time but it kept me fighting and motivated to stay with her. The first 10 miles went by relatively quickly and then mile 10 hit like a brick wall...again. I kept trying to do the math in my head of where I was and how fast I had to run to finish under 1:46:48. It kept me motivated knowing I was well within reach.

Mile 11-12 felt the longest and most painful. I tried to embrace the pain and not fight it. I knew if I slowed down and gave up I'd regret it. I kept pushing. Once I hit mile 12 I knew I could do it if I could just hold on. I kept wishing to see the finish line, and when I did I had just enough left in the tank to pick up my pace. I crossed that finish line at 1:45:27. I almost couldn't believe it.

PR's all around

This race is extra special because not only was it a physical PR, it was a mental PR as well. I still have a lot of work to do in the last couple miles, but overall I was mentally stronger in this race because it physically felt more difficult. I could have, and wanted to at some points, slow down and give in but I didn't. I fought hard for that race, which gives me a lot of confidence going forward.