2015 New York City Marathon, Part 1: The lead up

Well, I did it. I finished. I am a marathoner. I finished in… wait, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. We should probably start at the beginning. Actually, it would probably be helpful to know what happened in the last weeks of training. Set time machine to Friday, October 2nd, 2015.

Hitting the wayback button

It’s my last month of training and I am about to do my longest run to date the next morning: 17 miles. That day also happens to be my birthday. And I have a baby shower the following day. It’s going to be a busy weekend. The weather decides that I need an added challenge that day so it’s raining with blustery wind and mid-50s. The wind at times is strong enough that it is pushing us around. I planned a challenging course with 3 bridges and a finish that traces the last two miles of the course through Central Park. One of the women I am running with tells me the route is tougher than her longer runs. The run ends up being slower than I had hoped, but I feel great at the end and the last two miles are my fastest. I’m tired for the rest of the weekend as I celebrate my birthday that evening with friends and my friend’s new addition to the family the next day.

Longest long run
17-ish miles in the books! That’s the longest one!

The next weekend I took on the Rock n Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon as a training run and nabbed a PR running easy for the first 30 minutes then running the rest at marathon pace. I decide my marathon outfit which worked okay for the previous week’s long run is not going to be okay for the marathon. Only a few runs left to get that figured out.

RnR BK
Rock and Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon start. Ready to get moving!

The following weekend (10/16-10/18) I head to Runner’s World Festival in Bethlehem, PA. I shared my experience there in a couple of blog posts, but to recap I raced the trail race on Friday and had a great time. Was bummed the shorts I was testing out for the marathon weren’t successful. The next morning I woke up feeling a little sick and raced the 5K and 10K. The 10K was absolutely miserable. I spent the rest of the day in my hotel room sick as a dog. That night I got food poisoning and was sick all that night and next morning. The drive back to NYC was a bit of a challenge.

RWF 10K
Runner’s World Festival 10K. Struggling to the finish.

The weekend before the marathon, it was more travel. I headed to Baltimore on Thursday afternoon and had dinner with good friends. The next day I attended a wedding of one of my oldest friends. On Saturday morning, it was back to NYC. I got in 7 miles that evening and then ran the last 10 miles of the course the next morning. The weather once again decided that I needed an added challenge so it rained on us. I also almost got hit by car–full screeching tires and all. Yikes. I was super happy that I had finally settled on a race day outfit, though. That afternoon I got a 90 minute sports massage and felt great.

Wedding
A rare opportunity to dress up and witness one of my oldest friend’s embark on a new journey.
Last 10 miles run
A stop on the Madison Avenue Bridge for a quick shot of the crew during our last long run which followed the last 10 miles of the marathon course.

The last week

The massage left me more sore than expected on Monday and Tuesday.  And in the following days leading up to the marathon I had little nags here and there. Most concerning was that my right piriformis started acting again and I had thought it was okay. I had some pretty severe race anxiety on Sunday and Monday after using the NYRR race predictor in their NYCM app. I got in my last threshold workout on Tuesday and that workout felt good and was a confidence builder. That evening, a friend and I went to the New York City Marathon: The Great Race exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York. It was a wonderful exhibit and great to spend time with my friend, Heather, who I planned to run the race with. After the exhibit we grabbed some Mexican food and I broke my stay dry for the week rule with a margarita. My other rule “Margs always win” won.

Race prediction
NYRR New York City Marathon app race predictor.
Museum of the City of New York
The exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York was a great tribute to the New York City Marathon.

On Thursday, I went for an easy 3 miler and felt a little tired. I think the cleaning the day before and wandering around the exhibit didn’t give my legs enough rest. Later that afternoon, I had lunch and a cocktail with my parents and then they joined me at the expo where I picked up my bib, shirt, a few NYCM souvenirs, and a sheddable shell since the forecast was now predicting a chance of rain. The expo seemed a little anti-climatic for some reason, but I was happy to pick up some cute stuff and be with my family. We had dinner at a cute Italian restaurant that night where I had chicken and a glass of wine then I got a good night’s rest.

At the marathon expo
At the marathon expo

On Friday, I woke up with some calf pain that had me worried so I opted out of fun in the city. I spent the day watching running movies, stretching and rolling my calf, and got my race day stuff together. I got a good night’s rest and felt ready for a relaxing Saturday to rest before the race. Saturday morning I got in 20 minutes of easy running, big GF pancake breakfast, and took some time to record my pre-race thoughts. My sister flew on Saturday afternoon and we got brunch then hung out at the apartment. My parents drove over from Jersey and we were going to go dinner, but I had crammed so much food in me earlier that day, I wasn’t hungry. They left around 6pm and I was left by myself. I tried not to be anxious, but there were was little else to focus on. I finally got in my GF pasta dinner around 7pm then some light stretching and Sienfeld before hitting the hay around 10pm. I needed to be up at 6am the next morning to get ready for the race.

Last run before the marathon
Last run before the marathon. 20 minutes easy. Feeling ready.

Follow my adventure on race morning in Part 2, Race Morning or read the race report in Part 3, The Race Report.

The day before

This time tomorrow I will be at Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island trying to stay warm and calm before I take on my biggest race to date, the New York City Marathon. If you had told me 2 years ago that this was going to happen, I would have thought you were crazy. Go back even further in my history and well, it would just seem like a complete impossibility. As the fog clears from my taper crazies though, I am left feeling ready and surprisingly calm. I’ve been preparing for this for over a year now. I’ve put in the work and now it is just a matter of getting it done.

Of course, anything could happen tomorrow morning. Any number of nags that have popped up this week could turn into a full blown injury, I could hit the wall and not be able to push through it, I could trip, fall, throw up, poop myself… all of these are possibilities. But for the first time that I can remember ever, I am able to tune all of that out. Regardless of what happens tomorrow, be it a great run or a miserable one, it will be one of the biggest challenges and accomplishments in my life. It’s one that I will get to share with dear friends and family who are cheering in person or digitally and some that I will be running with. It’s one that will change me even more than it already has through it’s preparation. It’s one that I will be proud of for the rest of my life.

I could go into all the reasons why this race means so much to me, but I don’t want for my personal reasons to be made generic by not being able to give them justice in this blog. What I will share is that I will be running each of the five bridges for a different person that left us too soon. My high school best friend, Jean, will be my motivation on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. Love you, Pooh Bear. I’ll run the Pulaski Bridge for my Grandmommies who passed two years ago on Christmas. She was a pint-sized firecracker and the Pulaski seems perfect to honor her. I’ll be running the Queensboro for my great grandparents who were taken from us when I was little. During my toughest times, my Mamaw has been a beacon of light even after she passed. And their loss had such a profound effect on my life that it only seems deserving that I honor them with this bridge that is such a critical point of this course. (And the only one without cheerers.) The Willis Avenue Bridge will be run for my Uncle Buck who left us on my birthday eight years ago. I can hear him making jokes about the bridge name in my head. Miss you, Uncle Buck! The last bridge–Madison Ave Bridge–will be run for my friend, Bobby, who died while night spearfishing in Hawaii a little over a year ago. This last bridge will also be run for other friends who left us too soon.

So what are the lessons learned from the marathon so far? I’ve learned that I am much stronger and more determined than I thought. That my body can endure things that I thought I was too old or weak for and that my mind can will my body through when it is suffering. That my mind and body have an amazing ability to find strength in adversity. I learned that my support network is broader and stronger than I ever realized. And that support can come from unlikely places — people you have just met, your laundromat attendant, colleagues you have never worked with, random runners on the subway, and so many puppies that just want to run with me so badly when I pass by. I’ve learned that running can literally be a pain the ass. (Come on, Piriformis, calm down already.) That it is possible to run so much that you can’t sleep and aren’t hungry. That it is possible to strap a pack to your back with a change of clothes (or swimsuit) and run anywhere to hang out–or brunch. ALL THE BRUNCH. And for the first time I since I started running, I am finding running with friends more enjoyable than running solo.

I was really lucky to have a friend set up a Facebook group for friends who were training for Fall marathons. Through the group, I met new friends and deepened my friendships with others. We trained almost every weekend together and then, of course, brunched after. These women are so special to me and I am almost more excited about them running this thing than me! They are my running family and I am so excited to take on this challenge with them and celebrate our accomplishment together after the race. And who knows what we will all take on next. Let’s hit those trails, ladies!

It hardly seems real that this is happening. All my preparation is done excluding a short 20 minute run today to shakeout my legs. My pre-race layers, race outfit, fuel, post-race outfit/bag are already planned and set out. So I have all day for it to set in that this is real and it is happening. In about 30 hours, if it goes to plan, I will be a marathoner. NYC, I here I come.


If you want to track me tomorrow, you my Facebook and Twitter will be auto-updating as I run the course. You can also download the iOS/Android app or use NYRR’s web-based tracking.

Name: Donna Cole
Bib: 51257

Flat Brandi
Flat Brandi: NYC (first!) Marathon edition

Track me

Race report: Runner’s World Festival

Figured I could at least get a blog post written while I’m laid up in bed. It’s been a crazy 24 hours. 3 races and a total of over 17 miles including non-race mileage.

Friday was the 3.8 mile trail race in South Mountain Park. We decided to run to the start which we didn’t realize would be uphill the entire way. My watch clocked 525 gain over the 1.75 miles. PA is known for being hilly and rocky and this course was exactly that. I haven’t been on trail in about 4 months so it was both a ton of fun and tough. I started towards the front and held my position pretty well for the first half. The loose rocks posed a bit of a challenge and by half way I had tweaked my ankle a few times. Nothing serious, but enough to make me concerned about really rolling it. So I decided to back off and not risk and injury before the marathon. The finish was great, all downhill to a nice grassy shoot where there were some awesome cheerers. Started passing a girl in the chute during my kick so she fired up and we had a little race to the finish. People screamed and the announcer was all “WHOA!!!” as we ripped around the corner to the finish. I was 8th in my division, but still not sure how deep the field was there. After the race, we waited around to get our backpack with our jackets back from someone who locked it in their car. We were freezing for like an hour. They took so long to come back that we missed all our opportunities for rides down the hill and ended up having to run back to the room. It was getting dark and part of the way back didn’t have sidewalks or walkable shoulder and it was a busy road. That was pretty scary. But we made it and when we finally made it back we enjoyed some bourbon and showers before heading out for and awesome dinner and drinks. I hadn’t eaten a meal since 10am that morning (there was pizza at the trail race, but I can’t eat it) so food was definitely appreciated. After dinner, we were pooped and I had two races the next morning so we decided to skip the club happy hour. I got to bed at a reasonable time, but tossed and turned all night.

Saturday morning I got up and knew it was going to be a tough day. I was exhausted and felt sick. I jogged a mile down to the race start and picked up my race packet, got a photo with Deena Kastor (EEEEEE!!!), dropped my bag, then lined up. It was pretty cold and I wasn’t sure how I would get both races done. I decided to just take it one race at a time. I could always decide to not do the second. Once I got going, I felt pretty okay. Definitely wasn’t racing, but was running at a nice pace. I was happy with the run and felt pretty okay directly after, though a little hungry.

After the 5k, I cheered finishers and ran a club member in to the finish. One of the club members forced me to borrow a hoodie for my own good which was much appreciated. Cheered some more then started feeling really sick. Went to the bathroom then hung out in the expo center for a few minutes. I was feeling really horrible and I guess it was apparent because an expo worker asked me if I was okay and if I needed to sit down. I assured her that I would be fine and headed out to start the 10k. I was freezing, felt sick and dizzy, and had no idea how I was going to get this 6.2 miles done. I wondered if maybe I should just call it, but I am too stubborn. (And probably a little dumb.)

The 10k started and as soon as I started running, I started feeling a little better. I was still out of it a bit, but I felt like if I went slow enough I could get it done. This course was hillier than the 5k which added significantly to the challenge. I ended up having to stop to use the bathroom at some point and wondered if I should quit. I just kept telling myself that if I can get through this 6.2, I’ll be good for the end of the marathon. So I pushed on and by mile 5 I was chanting to myself under my breath. “You are okay.” “You CAN do this.” “One more mile.” There is a hill at mile 5.5 which was also at the end of the 5k so I knew it was there. I just kept pushing. One foot in front of the other. Constant forward motion.

Coming down the other side, I was feeling dizzy and like when I stopped I may fall over. I just kept telling myself to get to the finish. There are friends there and medical. Just keep going. Just before the mile 6 marker I drifted and grabbed onto a fence. I squatted down and put my head down. I was there for about a minute. Runners going by kept saying “you got this!” and “almost there!” and I so badly wanted someone to just ask if I was okay. (I would have told them yes, but the ask would have been comforting.) I snapped out of it and got to my feet. There was about .3 miles to go. Once the finish was in site, I wanted to push but I was scared I literally might fall over. I did manage a tiny kick just before the finish when I heard some yell my name then got across the finish and immediately pulled over to the side and squatted. Took a minute to collect myself then headed to get my medal. Then to get my bag. I sat down in the middle of the parking lot and layered on everything in my bag. I was so cold and tired and sick and dizzy and I wasn’t sure I could walk. I wanted someone that I knew to walk by, but no one did. I stayed there for a bit, but I was cold. I decided to skip picking up my race shirt, used the bathroom, and headed straight back to the room. That mile long walk uphill seemed to take longer than race.

I’ve spent the entire day in bed, resting and eating. My head feels better, but my body is pretty banged up. I don’t think I will be getting in my 4 miles tomorrow. I did get in some gentle yoga which seemed to help a bit. I missed all my afternoon events though and will miss dinner with my club.

I feel like a big dummy for not fueling better yesterday and drinking a few drinks last night. (I never drink before races or long runs!) That combined with a sleepless night set me up for a challenging morning. I also should have probably forced myself to eat more this morning (I had a banana and Justin’s nutella packet) and should have grabbed my bag with snacks between races. I probably should have slowed the pace in the 5k given I wasn’t feeling great. And of course, running the 10k was probably a really, really, horribly dumb idea. But what’s done is done and my body should recover in time for the marathon. I’m hoping I can get good sleep tonight, but I typically have a hard time sleeping after races and when I am traveling. My body needs good rest, though. It needs to heal.

Read about what happened after this post in my Monday morning follow-up.

Marathon Training: Weeks 7-9

I can’t believe another 3 weeks are gone. I’m having a hard time keeping up with the blogging. Between work and social obligations and training and then being sick for a week and a half, it’s been pretty crazy.

Going into week 7 I was feeling confident because of my “bunched” runs on Saturday that added up to 17 miles. I had set a goal for myself to get in two full body circuits and at least cycling session in, but only managed to get in one circuit and no cycling AGAIN. I was really want to get on track with the cross-training this week and even posted about it (on Facebook) for accountability. “I don’t want to get to the finish line and wish I had put in the extra 2-4 hours a week.”

Week 8 went totally off the rails because I caught a cold that I had a hard time shaking. I just couldn’t get the rest that I needed to recover. I’m on a big project at work and my absence could really slow down the work we are doing so even though I was home for the week, I didn’t get much rest.

By week 9 I was starting to feel better and get back on track. I still wasn’t getting in the cross-training because I was trying to ease back into training. I started considering whether I should consider adding a day of easy running since I can’t seem to get motivated to hop on the bike at all. I decided that if I don’t get on the bike in week 10, I would reach out to the coach and see if adding mileage would be reasonable at this point. I’m a little concerned because coming off of the 20, my glute/hip is still bothering me and now my knees (actually my quad tendons) are starting to bother me, as well. My training paces are supposed to jump in week 11 so plan for week 10 is just to try to rehab the glute/hip and knees and get in a good, solid week of training.

Week 7 workouts

Sunday: I had an off day because of the double run on Saturday.  My right glute had some pain after the second run which continued into today. Nothing that I didn’t think couldn’t be stretched out.

Monday: Rest day

Tuesday: Skipped my run in the morning because of a storm and instead did an hour full body circuit. Decided to take a long lunch and get in my run after the storm. (And after a hard workout this morning.) Temp was 77-80 with heat index 80-84. Humidity was mid 70s. Needless to say, trying to hit my pace (9:00) for the first 3 threshold miles was dumb and felt horrible. I actually considered cutting the run short and taking a cab home. Second half I just kept telling myself one more mile, backed off the pace and ran based on effort, and ended up in a much better place. Not sure why I thought I could hit pace on the first half, but whatever.

Week 7 Tuesday
Short story: Sucky mid-day hot and humid threshold run on tired legs. 1 mile warm-up + 3 miles @ threshold (9mm) + 1 mile recovery + 3 miles @ threshold.

Wednesday: Rest day

Thursday: Much cooler morning and 5 miles easy came very easy after I was warmed up. Broke out some new shoes since my current long run shoes are about to hit their mileage.

Week 7 Thursday
Easy is relative and evidently it takes me 3 miles to warm-up when it is a little cooler out. 5 miles easy on this lovely morning-low 70s and low humidity. Broke a new pair of shoes out of the box and they are soooo bright! 😎😍

Friday: Rest day

Saturday: Another Summer Streets group run. I need 50 minutes easy and 40 minutes at marathon pace (9:37). Weather was warmer than the week before, but not horrible. I got in just over 8 miles and felt great the entire time. After the run, we did brunch then I came home and got ready to head right back out. Went to Long Island for a birthday party and in the evening started to develop a sore throat. Thought it might be allergies.

Week 7 Saturday
So much fun this morning running the streets of Manhattan with these babes! We had an 18 miler, two 16 milers, I ran almost 9, and our 3 other ladies picked up 5. 50 mins easy + 40 mins @ marathon pace (9:37) was on my plate. Kicked it off by running over the WillyB bridge into Manhattan, UK Lafayette then Park, passed Union Square and Grand Central up to 63rd then turned around and headed back to Union Square. Phew! And it was a hot one this morning!

Week 8 workouts

Sunday: Headed back to Brooklyn. Was feeling like I might be at the start of a cold so I decided to postpone my 5 miles easy to Monday.

Monday: Definitely sick. My throat felt horrible and I was concerned that I may have strep. Stayed home from work and tried to rest, but ended up working most of the day.

Tuesday: Low fever and really disappointed that I was going to have to let the Sunday run go. First workout that I have missed in my training! Also skipped this morning’s workout which was speed workout that I was actually excited to do. 1.5mi warmup, 3 x 1mi @ 9:00/mi with 1 min recovery, 4 x 150m @ Hills with 150 m recovery, 1.5mi cooldown.

Wednesday: Felt a little better, but still sick. Decided to just let the Sunday and Tuesday morning workouts go and not try to make them up. Just wanted to focus on recovering so I could get in my long run on Saturday.

Thursday: Finally feeling well enough to run a little bit, I headed out for 3 easy miles. Had 6 on the schedule, but knew I should come back slow. The last mile was a struggle.

Week 8 Thursday
Three easy miles on the back side of a cold. I’ve been sick since the weekend and had to skip two runs this week. Cut today’s in half and it was still a struggle at the end. Hoping to get my long run in on Saturday. Most of it is supposed to be at threshold, but I just don’t see that happening!

Friday: Was supposed to be a rest day, but decided to get some light conditioning in. Didn’t do anything to strenuous, just some clams, calf raises, etc.

Saturday: Decided to get my 9 miles in easy instead of the 2mi warmup, 1 x 3mi @ 9:00/mi, 1 x 3min @ 10:46/mi, 1 x 1mi @ 9:00/mi, 3mi cooldown. Was also looking forward to this workout and bummed that I had to skip the faster intervals, but grateful to be able to run at all. Ran with the group again and got in one bridge crossing (Brooklyn Bridge).

Week 8 Saturday Group
Another awesome long run with these gals (plus a dude this time)! Started in Williamsburg, ran over Brooklyn Bridge, down the East side along the East River to Battery Park then up the West side along the Hudson to 14th street. Nine miles total for me this morning. Didn’t get in any threshold miles, but was happy to just get in the distance since I am still a little sick.
Week 8 Saturday
Such a great morning for a run! This was at about 3.5 miles in as I was crossing Brooklyn Bridge and when I was just starting to feel a little warmed up and confident. Not a bad place to kick it into gear!

Week 9 workouts

Sunday: Did 7 miles easy over two bridges (Pulaski and Queensboro) with two running pals. One of them was putting in her longest mileage to date and it was her first time over the Pulaski and Queenboro bridges. I was grateful that I was able to join her as she kept me moving. Still not fully recovered from the cold yet.

Week 9 Sunday
A little over seven miles this morning over the Pulaski and Queensboro bridges into Manhattan and then down almost to the Williamsburg Bridge. It was Val’s first time over those bridges AND her longest ever run–15 miles! Felt blessed to get to share the last 7 with her. You did great, lady!

Monday: Rest day

Tuesday: Couldn’t seem to shake the sniffles from my cold and was definitely not feeling 100% again yet. So I decided to not do speedwork and instead did the same mileage (6.5 miles) at an easy pace. I got a late start and it was already 80 out with significant humidity, but I focused on keeping it easy and got it done. Average pace was slower than normal (~10:45 for easy), but I felt good the entire time and just wanted to make sure to get in the miles.

Week 9 Tuesday
Can’t seem to shake the sniffles from my cold and am definitely not feeling 100% again yet. So I decided to not do speedwork this morning and instead did the same mileage (6.5 miles) at an easy pace.

Wednesday: Rest day. Should have gotten in a full body circuit and bike ride, but was wanting to be conservative since I still wasn’t fully recovered from the cold.

Thursday: What a difference two days can make. Surprised myself a bit with how easy my six miles felt. And my pace was spot on or better! I still have some lingering sniffles and I didn’t sleep well the night before, but that didn’t seem to matter. Maybe it was the weather? It was a lovely 70 degrees out with low humidity.

Week 9 Thursday
What a difference two days can make. Surprised myself a bit this morning with how easy my six miles felt. And my pace was spot on or better! I still have some lingering sniffles and I didn’t sleep well last night, but that didn’t seem to matter. Maybe it was the weather? It was a lovely 70 degrees out with low humidity. Can’t wait for Fall! 🍃🍂🍁

Friday: Rest day. Preparing for my 20 miles on Saturday. Watched a lot of UTMB coverage. 🙂

Saturday: 20 miles today! Got my first 10 in the morning with a couple of friends. Did 2 bridges (Pulaski and Queensboro) and finished in Central Park. Felt good after warming up and finished strong. My knees started bothering me a bit after the run and I was nervous about glute/hip which has continued to bother me a bit since the 17 mile double two weeks ago.

Second 10 miler was not as good. I wasn’t thinking and ate a burrito as my pre-run meal. Bad idea. Had GI issues pretty much the entire time. I also didn’t fuel properly during the run. I definitely should have been taking in more carbs. I did one almond butter and one maple syrup and just wasn’t enough. I was able to pull it together in the last mile to finish strong, but it definitely wasn’t a great run.

Week 9 Saturday
And that’s 20 miles. I’ll spare the details. Last my mile was my fastest on both runs. Really glad I only have one more of these split days on the schedule.

 

Lessons learned this evening: 1) A burrito is NOT a good pre long run meal. Just trust me on this one. 2) Chafe on top of chafe is painful especially in areas of constant movement like your underarms. 3) I have an amazing ability to find strength in adversity. Then lose it about 30 seconds later only to get pissed off and find it again a minute later. 4) I can run 20 miles in one day and not die and finish my last mile strong. And THAT was the best lesson of the day.

 

Week 7 total weekly mileage: 21.86 miles
Week 7 total training time: 5 hours and 49 minutes (Runs, post-run yoga, and strength training)
Week 7 long run mileage: 8.26 miles (half at marathon pace)

Week 8 total weekly mileage: 19.22 miles
Week 8 total training time: 4 hours and 54 minutes (Runs, post-run yoga, and strength training)
Week 8 long run mileage: 9 miles (half was supposed to be threshold)

Week 9 total weekly mileage: 32.52 miles
Week 9 total training time: 7 hours and 2 minutes (Runs, post-run yoga, and strength training)
Week 9 long run mileage: 10 + 10 = 20 miles (two runs)

Marathon training: Weeks 5 & 6

Just 12 weeks to go now. Time is really flying! I typically just log all my workouts in these posts, but I want to try something a little different. Let’s talk about how I am feeling six weeks into training.

A lot has happened in the past six weeks, but I feel like over the past two weeks especially my mental aspect has shifted. The first four weeks I was a little apprehensive of the plan and my ability to really do well with the training. I was nervous about injury and how my body would respond to speed work and the increased mileage. I think the turning point for me was the ASICS & AskMen Summer Series 5K that I raced on the first day of week 5. I shattered my expectations in terms of my abilities and that really built some confidence. I didn’t think I could race that hard or that PR was possible that morning. My finish time seemed to legitimize myself to myself as a real runner. It also reinforced that the training is working–even better than anticipated by myself or the coach who wrote my plan. Our run to Coney further built my confidence. I was able to run a 2:23 half marathon and it felt easy. (Aside from the oppressive 6lb pack I was wearing.)

The biggest confidence builder has definitely been the bunched runs that I did at the end of week 6. It was two runs–one 8.18 miles with one bridge crossing and the other 9 miles with two bridge crossings. The first run felt super easy which was awesome. I was super nervous about the second, but really surprised myself. I was so proud during the last two miles which ended up being my fastest despite having just done two bridge crossings. I remember thinking to myself that if the last two miles of the marathon feel even better in terms of accomplishment than these do, that I am probably going to end up being one of those crying runners. I couldn’t believe how strong I felt or how amazing it felt to get that much mileage done in one day. I am sure it will be different when it is all one run, but it was a real confidence builder in terms of feeling like I may actually be able to do this thing.

So a lot has changed for me mentally in the past two weeks. Looking forward, I am hoping to focus on getting in more cross training in the form of an additional full body circuit a week and at least one, if not two, 60-90 minute cycling sessions a week. I’m shooting for 2 circuits in week 7 and possibly adding in one cycle session–doing these all as doubles on top of runs. Still a little nervous about doing too much, but also don’t want to sell myself short out of fear!

Week 5 workouts

Sunday: I kicked off week 5 with the ASICS & AskMen Summer Series 5K. I raced harder than I have ever raced and managed a two and half minute PR! The race was bookended by a few miles. I did two miles before the race as a warm-up. After the race I still had 3 miles to get in. I was so spent from the race that I headed straight home after. Dropped my stuff at the apartment then headed right back out for the three. 8.12 miles total for Sunday.

Monday: Rest day!

Tuesday: We were in the middle of a heat wave and I had hill repeats on the schedule. Got a 1.5 mile warm-up in on the way to the bridge. The route I chose seemed to be uphill the entire time. Once I got to the bridge I put in 6 x 150 m repeats on a pretty steep grade. It was hot and hard, but I got it done. Then it was 2 miles for a cool-down. 4.57 miles total.

Tuesday: Hill repeats
Hill repeats in a heat wave. Oof. 1.5 mile warm-up + 6×150 hills w 150 recovery + 2 mile cool-down. The repeats ended up being a little over 150 since I was using my watch and each were run ~1:02 which is just a few seconds slower than my 200 track reps. Was definitely feeling it by the end!

Wednesday: Got my full body circuit in that evening. Was hoping to get in a 60-90 minute cycling session in, but decided that since I was doing 13.1 miles on Saturday and was going to hit my highest mileage week yet that I should wait until next week to add in cycling.

Thursday: Easy 3 miles into a storm and then back out.

Thursday: Recovery
3 easy miles into the rain and back out and then back in. Really glad tomorrow is a rest day. Am feeling the past 2 days hard workouts.

Friday: Rest day. I was so happy to get a rest day in. Hit REI and Brooklyn Running Company in the evening to pick up a new pair of shorts and new sports bra. The sports bra sitch is becoming bleak, but I was optimistic the Nike bra that I picked up would be the one that works.

Saturday: Run to Coney Island! I planned my first summer group run and it was soooo much fun. My friend, Hayley, drove in from Long Island early that morning and we jogged over to the Williamsburg Bridge to pick up another friend, Laura, who ran in from Manhattan. I was shooting for a half marathon and planned to finish on the boardwalk on Coney Island, just in front of the Wonder Wheel. We headed out early (6:45am) to beat the heat. It was an easy pace all the way down. Little things hurt for a bit here and there, but overall I felt great for the entire run. The only thing I wish could have been different was the weight of my pack! I had about 6 lbs strapped to me and felt oppressive. But I got my 13.1 in right in front of the Wonder Wheel, as planned, in 2:23:18. The shorts worked out great, but unfortunately the bra didn’t. I really hope I can find a bra that doesn’t chafe soon!

After the run, we spent the rest of the day lounging on the beach and having a few drinks on the boardwalk and at the Freak Show bar. It was an epic day!

Saturday: Coney Island
Such an awesome adventure today with two awesome ladies! We ran from Williamsburg to Coney Island then spent the day enjoying the beach and the boardwalk. This was an easy paced run and we managed to leave early enough and find enough shade that it felt great the entire time.

Week 6 workouts

Sunday: My recovery run hardly felt easy after my epic Saturday. Did 3 miles easy and was happy to rest for the rest of the day. I headed to Westchester for a friend’s birthday party and started to feel really horrible on the train. My stomach felt really off and I was really exhausted for most of the rest of the day.

Recovery run
Three easy miles hardly felt easy on top of yesterday’s epic 13.1 to Coney. Feeling pretty exhausted and my tummy is a bit off today. Hoping I can nap a bit on my train ride to Westchester to visit friends. I am determined to not have my training affect loved ones as much as possible.

Monday: I’m supposed to be getting in a workout on Mondays, but that hasn’t been happening. I’m just tired from the weekend’s workouts when Monday comes. I think I am going to start doubling up on other days to fit everything in.

Tuesday: 800s are least favorite thing. I seriously hate them. Had to get in 5×800 this morning after a mile warm-up. It was warm out and 800s are just torture. I was so glad when they were over. My mile cool-down felt challenging after that workout. I can’t recall if I gave the new sports bra another chance for this run or my Sunday run, but it didn’t perform any better than it had on Saturday. Bummer. 5.62 miles total for Tuesday.

Tuesday: Speedwork
800s are the worst. Seriously my least favorite thing to do. And this morning I did 5 of them (at 4:07). 1 mile warm-up + 5×800 w 3 min recovery + 1 mile cool-down = 5.62 miles. Glad that is over!

Wednesday: I was supposed to get in my full body circuit workout after work, but because of commuting issues/delays that morning I ended up working late and not getting it in. I hit the hay early and planned to double up the next day.

Thursday: Got out the door early and got in my 3 easy miles easily. Afterward I did my skipped full body circuit from the night before and then wrapped with 15 minutes of gentle yoga. I felt surprisingly good after my double, but ended up being quite tired at work later in the day.

Thursday: Double workout
Worked late yesterday so had to double up this morning. 3 miles easy + 45 minute full body circuit + 15 minute gentle yoga. Grateful tomorrow is rest day! Saturday is a double with 8 miles in the morning and 9 in the evening. Eek!

Friday: I was so grateful for a rest day! I was in the office that day instead of telecommuting like I typically do on Fridays and was so tired and ravenous. That evening I didn’t get much done other eating dinner and washing my run clothes for the next day.

Saturday: My first bunched runs! I planned a route for Summer Streets that started at Union Square, went down and over the Brooklyn Bridge then up to and over the Williamsburg Bridge, back passed Union Square, up and passed Grand Central to 63rd where we turned around and headed straight back down to Union Square. The course was 14 miles total, but we didn’t all run that distance. I hopped on just before the cross back into Manhattan over the Williamsburg bridge. I was shooting for 90 minutes of easy running which ended up being 8.18 miles. I wore my pack again, but since I only had 40 oz of water in it, it felt much less oppressive than the previous Saturday. After the run, I brunched with some of the runners and actually felt really good. One run down, one more to go.

After I got home from my first run, I stretched, showered, and then napped. I woke up and ate again. I was feeling pretty exhausted and was a little nervous about the second run. I headed out around 7pm, less than 12 hours after heading out for my first run. Since I had such an awesome run in the morning, I was a little concerned about this run feeling boring and like a slog so I planned my route a little differently than usual. I planned for an option to go out-and-back over the Williamsburg bridge for miles 4.5-7 or to head up and over to waterfront park for something easier. By the time I got to mile 2, I knew I wanted to do the bridge and really hoped my body was up for it. I wore my 2 bottle belt and ended up stopping twice to refill because it was so hot. Around 8pm I passed the spot where I had waited to meet-up for my morning run–just 12 hours after. I headed up the Williamsburg Bridge and hoped I wasn’t making a horrible mistake. The 2.5 miles out-and-back over the bridge were challenging, but as I was making my final descent I felt empowered. When I got off the bridge with 2 miles to go, I felt strong and determined. My last two miles were my fastest and finished feeling great (mentally). After the run I went out to dinner with a friend and felt pretty spacey, but my body felt okay. I had a little bit of tightness in right glute/hip again, but the rest of me just felt tired.

Saturday: Summer Streets
Me and two of the gals during our Summer Streets run this morning. I’m on the right with the white calf sleeves. 😉 Photo by our friend, Jenny.
Saturday: Summer Streets
Another great run this morning! The route was 14 miles total. Started in Union Square went down and over the Brooklyn Bridge, up to and then over the Williamsburg Bridge, all the way up Lafayette and Park Ave passed Grand Central to turn around at 63rd Street then all the way back down to Union Square. Phew! Only 3 runners did the full 14. The rest of us hopped on a different spots and we all finished together. So much fun!
Saturday: Double run day
That’s 17 miles in one day, 2 runs, 3 bridge crossings, and one very happy lady. This is the same spot I waited at this morning to start my run. This was about 12 hours later and 4.5 miles into my second run before I did an out and back over the Williamsburg Bridge. My last two miles after the bridge were my fastest and felt good!

Additional notes: My stomach has been off since the Coney Island run. I have been trying to get in probiotics every day and watch my diet. My right glute/hip have also continued to bother me and I am wondering if it might be related to my 2 bottle belt. Going to run without it the next few runs and see if that helps.

Week 5 total weekly mileage: 28.8 miles
Week 5 total training time: 6 hours and 59 minutes (Runs, post-run yoga, and strength training)
Week 5 long run mileage: 13.1 miles

Week 6 total weekly mileage: 28.8 miles
Week 6 total training time: 7 hours and 4 minutes (Runs, post-run yoga, and strength training)
Week 6 long run mileage: 8.18 + 9 = 17.18 miles (two runs)

Race report: ASICS & AskMen Summer Series 5K

Why do I sign up for 5Ks? They always seem like such an awesome idea until I am actually racing one. The ASICS & AskMen Summer Series 5K was no exception to that. As a matter of fact, when I finished I was happy with the idea of never running a 5K ever again.

It all started about a month ago when I was reviewing my marathon training plan and noticed that training paces progressed every six weeks to account for natural progress during training. Me being the person that I am and needing all things to be logical and justified decided that I should run a race that fit into my training around the time of the increase. I found the ASICS & AskMen Summer Series 5K and totally did not give any thought to the fact that it was an hour away by train, on August 1st which would likely be hot, and was going to be on an exposed stretch next to the windy harbor. Nope, I just needed that justification for pace increases so I signed up.

The week before the race

I was traveling the week before the race so my training schedule got a little wonky. I ended up training 4 consecutive days in the week of the race and was only able to get in one rest day the day before. I had also delayed a full body circuit until late in the week. Who doesn’t like a challenge, right? So the day before the race I did my best to rest and recover. My hamstrings were sore and tight and later in the evening my heel started to bother me. I was also nervous about the heat and wasn’t sure what time goal to shoot for given I knew I had progressed since my last race, but I wasn’t sure how much. I decided on 3 goals:

A: 28:00 (9:00 mpm)
B: 28:31 (9:10 mpm)
C: 29:02 (9:20 mpm)

My “A” goal was based on a reasonable assumption of progress since my last race, “B” was a little less improvement, and “C” was based on my last race time. All were adjusted for an expected temperature of 76º using Jack Daniels’ VDOT Running Calculator.

The morning of the race

The morning of the race was pretty uneventful. I woke up just before my alarm at 5:15 am, ate, showered, dressed, did a little bit of stretching, then went to pick up the car. Drove down to the course, picked up my packet, checked my bag, and sat around for a bit waiting to warm-up. My warm-up was 2 miles at easy pace and I felt okay. I added a couple of 10 second strides in at the end just to remind myself what running fast feels like. Made a last minute pit stop and then hit the chute. I lined up in the crowd about 10′ back from the start line. The race director ended up popping in right next to me after making his announcements which was kind of neat.

The race

The air horn sounded and we were off. I crossed the start 5 seconds after the horn. I was mixed in with some fast runners and was running a 7-7:15 mpm pace for almost the first quarter mile. After blowing off that steam, I settled into a ~8:45 mpm pace. I knew I was running faster than anticipated, but I was trying to run by effort and figured if I crashed and burned later, at least I tried. There was a pretty significant headwind going on and I was a little nervous about effort going out, but told myself the awesome tailwind on the way back (it was an out-and-back course) would help me through the second half. I told myself when I hit mile 2, I would slow down slightly and recover a bit from the first mile before the last mile.

My race strategy was go out hard, float for the second mile, then push it home for the last mile. I found it difficult to slow down for some reason. I feel like sometimes I forget how to not push. I have noticed this on training runs, as well. At any rate, I was keeping an ~8:45 pace until mile 1.55 where we turned around. I slowed for the turnaround and the water stop directly after. By 1.7 miles I was back up to the ~8:45 pace.

Halfway point
Turning around at the halfway point.

Steve Prefontaine once said “The only good race pace is a suicide pace and today looks like a good day to die.” (I’m no Pre, but you really can’t argue the man’s logic given he never lost a collegiate 5K or 6K race.) By mile 3, I was definitely feeling like I was making a valiant attempt at suicide pace and a mile never seemed so long. Early in the mile I looked at my watch to see my race time and realized that even if I trotted the last mile at ~10:00, I would meet my “A” goal. But I didn’t slow and didn’t stop pushing even though it was feeling very much like a suicide pace. There was heavy breathing, some involuntary grunting, and a few people that passed me looking way to comfortable. One guy passed me quite easily and when I offered him a “good job” and commented on how effortless he looked, he told me he took it easy during the headwind before galloping off like a gazelle. I’m pretty sure that man was not running a suicide pace. Anywho, mile 3 was long and hard and to add insult to injury the sun decided to come out full force for the last quarter mile. It’s cool, I like a challenge.

Just before mile 3, I noticed a woman running off my shoulder. She definitely looked like she was running a suicide pace. I told myself that we would push each other through. Then she slowed down. I encouraged her to keep up, but around that time I noticed that two running team peeps were at the finish cheering for me. I picked up the pace and pulled away from the other runner to sprint through the finish. My last .11 was run at 7:16 pace. As I passed my cheering teammates, I threw my hands in the air and yelled to them “it’s gonna be a PR!!” I saw the clock and realized that I had totally shattered my PR goal. Final time: 27:16–43 seconds faster than my “A” goal.

Finish line
Crossing the finish line.

Race stats

Official finish: 27:16
Pace: 8:48/mile
Overall: 77 of 198
Age group (F 30-39): 8 of 37

Weather: Overcast, 75º, 66% humidity, 10mph wind

-Mile 1: 8:41
-Mile 2: 8:55
-Mile 3: 8:52
-Last .11: 7:16

Garmin distance: 3.11
Last comparable race (6/4, 3.2): 29:37, 9:03 pace

Marathon training: Week 4

Um, HOW IS WEEK 4 ALREADY OVER?! Seriously y’all, this is going way too fast. Just 14 weeks until the New York City Marathon! This week totally flew by. Maybe because I ran four consecutive days. Say what?!

So last Sunday, I recapped in last week’s update. Postponed my run to Monday to get some time in with friends in Chicago. It was totally the right choice and I had no regrets when I went to bed late Sunday night after flying back in to NYC late.

Monday I woke up and felt like I had been hit by a truck. I’m not sure whether it was the travel or what, but I felt horrible. I skipped my run and worked from home. All day I was pumping myself full of good food, vitamins, and trying to rest up. It worked pretty well because by that evening I was feeling so much better.

Tuesday morning I hopped into my first quality session of the week. It was a doozy: 1 mile warm-up, 2 x 2 miles at threshold with 2 min recovery, 4 x 200 with 200 recovery, 1 mile cool down. I could tell for the first mile or so that I had been off of running for two days, but once I hit my groove I felt really good. It was 80º out, but the heat didn’t bother me much. I think the long run in Chicago in feels like 93 heat caused some adaptation, if only mentally. I continue to run my 200s (about 5 seconds) too fast which concerns me a bit. Really got to try to get those right.

Threshold + speed work in 80 degree heat
Threshold + speed work in 80 degree heat? Sure, why not?! It actually didn’t feel too bad after what felt like 95 during my last long run. 1 mi warm up + 2 x 2 mi threshold w 2 min recovery + 4 x 200 w 200 recovery + 1 mi cool down = 7.3 miles. And a very hungry lady!

Wednesday morning I went out for the 4 miles easy that I had postponed from Sunday then had to skip on Monday. The weather was nice and cool — 70º and low humidity. I felt grateful for such a great run. I had intended to do a circuit this evening, but lost track of time so I postponed it to Thursday morning.

Catching up on miles this morning.
Catching up on miles this morning. Got my 4 in that I had to postpone on Monday (originally scheduled for Sunday). So glad I got out there this morning because the weather was gorgeous! 70 degrees and low humidity. Right hamstring tendons got a bit angry towards the end.

Thursday morning I had another 4 easy miles on deck and the weather again was lovely. I did a pretty tough 45 minute full body circuit after my run then 15 minutes of gentle yoga. By the time I got to the yoga, my muscles were a little twitchy. After 2 hours of workouts, I was feeling kind of spacey while making breakfast despite having ate a little before my run (about 100 calories) and a protein shake between my run and circuit. On the way into the office, every stair I had to climb during my commute was acknowledged. Haha. Luckily it was a busy day in the office so while I was a bit sleepy, the day went by quickly.

Four miles easy
Four miles easy followed by a 45 minute strength/core circuit and 15 minutes of gentle yoga. Might move Saturday run to tomorrow since I race on Sunday. Not sure about 4 consecutive days of running, though!

Friday was supposed to be my rest day, but since I planned to race on Sunday (and was trying to PR) I decided to get my 3 easy miles scheduled for Saturday in early. I went to bed super early on Thursday night and got a little over 10 hours of sleep so I was feeling really refreshed. My body was quite sore from my circuit the day before, but not enough to affect my gait so I went for it. Had an unpleasant run-in with some dudes in a van pulling the slow down from behind and say stuff to me creeper maneuver, but otherwise it was a lovely run to the East River and back. When I got home I realized that my butt is so sore from my circuit that it hurts a little to sit.

Three easy miles
Three easy miles on a beautiful Brooklyn morning. Was super sore from yesterday’s full body circuit and had an unpleasant exchange with some dudes, but otherwise it was a lovely run. Looking forward to a rest day tomorrow then my 5K on Sunday!

Saturday was a rest day in preparation for my 5k on Sunday morning. I was hoping to PR so I took extra care during the day to rest and recover. Throughout the day I had the normal rest day creaks and tiny aches. At one point I walked down to the store in some flip flops without any cushion and found that my left heel was bothering me quite a bit. Additionally, my hamstrings were still pretty sore from my full body circuit on Thursday morning. That evening I did some gentle yoga, foam rolled, massaged my feet, and put on compression socks before bed. Had a little trouble getting to sleep because I was so anxious about my race. It was supposed to be mid-70s and humid and the course is fully exposed so it didn’t seem like ideal conditions for a strong PR which is what I was hoping for. I won’t ruin the end of the story, by telling you how it went. You’ll have to wait for for my race report which I will be posting shortly–or you can just check my Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Total weekly mileage: 26.4 miles
Total training time: 6 hours and 44 minutes (Runs, post-run yoga, and strength training)
Long run mileage: Moved long run to Sunday, 8.12 completed in 3 segments (2 mi, 3.11 race, 3 mi)

Last week’s total weekly mileage: 21.9 miles
Last week’s total training time: 5 hours and 46 minutes (Runs, post-run yoga, and strength training)
Last week’s long run mileage: 7.9 miles

Marathon training: Week 3

Week 3 done, 15 to go! I feel like this week was actually 2 weeks because of how much I packed it into it. It was a busy week, for sure, and I am proud that I was able to mostly stick to my plan.

On Sunday, I got in my 3 mile recovery run after my Saturday long run. It was uneventful and in moderate conditions–75 degrees with 61% humidity. After the run, breakfast, and a shower, I headed over to the spa for my first ever massage. It was a 60 min sports massage, most of which was spent stretching. She managed to work out the glute/hip issue that I have had for the past week or so. Once she got to the actual massage, she told me that my legs feel like they are in pretty good shape (likely because the 15-20 minutes of yoga that I do after every run), but my back is all kinds of tight and out of whack. She recommended a deep tissue massage to work the kinks out of my back.

Monday evening I did a nice full body circuit that included some single leg deadlifts. I really need to work on these more. It was evident that my ankles and hamstrings could use some strengthening.

Tuesday is a quality workout day on my training schedule which the past two weeks has been speed work. This week it was a marathon pace run. Three miles at marathon pace, one mile easy, then another three miles at marathon. It was 76 degrees out which was warm, but not brutal. The workout took an hour and eleven minutes which is a bit long to fit in before work, but I made it work since the evening was going to be much hotter. That day at work I was pretty sleepy from 4 consecutive days of workouts.

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Seven miles before breakfast. Three at marathon pace, one easy, then three more at marathon. 76 degrees and 51% humidity… Not too bad for this time of year, but still hot!

Wednesday I should have done a circuit and a bike session, but skipped them. My hamstrings were still pretty sore from the deadlifts on Monday so I gave them a bit of a rest. That night I saw Foo Fighters at CitiField and indulged in some booze and got to bed a little late.

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Waiting to get onto the field at CitiField to watch the Foo Fighters with my buddy.

Thursday morning I headed to the cardiologist to discuss the results of the exercise stress test and the two weeks of heart monitoring. She told me I am low risk for the marathon so I am cleared to run! That was an awesome way to start off the day. I was a little tired from the night before so I got in a nap before joining a friend for a nice big lunch. I headed out that evening at sunset for my 4 miles easy. The temp was close to 80, but it was super low humidity so it felt great. I surprised myself with how good I felt during the run given the shenanigans the night before.

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Four easy miles at sunset. I was concerned about this run being horrible after the rock show last night, but it felt easy. The view and weather sure didn’t hurt!

Friday is my official rest day and that morning I headed out early for the airport to fly to Chicago to visit some dear friends. I was going to try to get my long run in right after I landed so I didn’t have to worry about it Saturday, but my flight was late and by the time I got to Chicago it was already pretty hot. I tried to stay on point with nutrition and hydration as much as possible that day, but it was challenging since I was on vacation. I managed to do pretty good, but knew that I would feel the couple of drinks that I had during my long run the next morning. I did manage to get to bed at a reasonable hour and get a full 8 hours of sleep that night.

Saturday morning I got out the door before 8am and it was already soooooo hot. The temp was 86 with 74% humidity making it feel like 93 degrees! My schedule called for 20 minutes easy, 40 minutes at marathon pace, and 20 minutes easy, but somehow my recollection was 50 minutes at marathon pace so I got in extra 10 minutes in the crazy heat. I ran in Humboldt Park which provided some shade, but not much. I ended up creating a little loop that stopped by a water fountain that was constantly running with nice cold water. Every other loop I would pause for a few seconds to wet my face and hair. The heat was brutal. I was so relieved when the run was finally over and I got to walk back to the house. On the way back though, I was followed by some creepers in a van who hollered at me and circled the block. (I was staying on the edge of a “rough” area.) So creepy. I hopped into a gas station for a few minutes then headed back out down the opposite side of the road and didn’t see the creepers again. Back at the house, sweat was literally running down my arms and legs because of the heat. So gross.

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Almost 8 miles in Humboldt Park in Chicago. And it was HOTTTTTTTT. 20 min easy, 50 minutes at marathon pace, then 20 minutes easy. My pace was off by 30-40 seconds for most of the run, but that was to expected in this type of heat. I was just glad for it to be done!

Sunday I was supposed to do 4 miles easy, but decided to postpone until Monday. Sunday was supposed to be just as hot, I didn’t want to risk another run in with the creepers, and I wanted to enjoy myself on Saturday and not worry about my nutrition or having a couple of beverages with my friends. That morning I slept in and it was glorious. That evening just after landing in NYC, I finished the book I have been reading about the NYC Marathon, “A Race Like No Other.” I totally recommend the read for anyone who is planning to run (or who has run) the NYC Marathon!

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This photo contains some of my favorite people in the world! Had an awesome time in Chicago visiting these peeps.

Total weekly mileage: 21.9 miles
Total training time: 5 hours and 46 minutes (Runs, post-run yoga, and strength training)
Long run mileage: 7.9 miles

Stay tuned here for next week’s recap. You can also follow my training throughout week on my Facebook page and on Instagram!

Marathon training: Week 2

Week 2 done, 16 to go! I feel like it has been longer than 2 weeks, but that is probably because I have spent most of the past few months preparing for marathon training. I hit a few walls this week which I will get into more detail about in a bit.

Sunday I needed to get in 3 easy miles so I headed out the door first thing in the morning. I wasn’t really feeling like running after my long run the day before and after a week of hard training, but I got it done. I ran over to the East River and out onto a walkway that expands over part of it to add some interest to the run. Again, I definitely need to start thinking about new routes so I don’t burnout on the easy miles.

Monday morning I headed out early to Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan for my Exercise Stress Test. It was an, um, interesting experience. I had dressed in what I thought was appropriately for the test: tech tee, sports bra, running tights, running shoes. Little did I know that this test is done TOPLESS. That’s right. I had to strip my top half so they could ultrasound my heart both before and immediately after the treadmill. The pre-treadmill ultrasound was pretty lengthy and intensive. It took about 10-15 minutes for her to get all the shots she wanted. There was lots of shifting of body position, breathing and holding, exhaling and holding, all with the x-ray tech wrapped around me on examining table and my top almost fully exposed. If I were a shy person I think it would have been very uncomfortable.

After the ultrasound, it was time for the treadmill test. The test has 5 stages, each are 3 minutes and increase in intensity via increased incline and pace. You stay on the treadmill until you hit your max heart rate and sustain it long enough to be winded. And of course I was hoping that wouldn’t happen in the 15 minutes because I am just so fit. Haha. So the treadmill gets going and I get to walking. Stage 1 comes and goes as does Stage 2 and Stage 3. I’m thinking the tech is impressed with my fitness based on our convo. The treadmill cranks to Stage 4 and instinctively start to jog, but the tech instructs me to walk. What?! So I try to speed walk the best I can. I can notice my heart rate has elevated to 90-92% of max at this point so I focus on my breathing and manage to control it long enough to hit Stage 5. Okay, Stage 5. Stage 5 felt like I was running up a freaking mountain. Which I have done, but maybe not at that pace for that grade. Stage 5 is 18% grade at 5 mph. Now, I have friends who could probably do this with a 2L hydration vest and at a much faster pace, but for me it was challenging. About a minute in, I hit my max and the nurse asked if I wanted to stop. Of course I said no. So I watched as my heart rate went into the red zone a few times and repeatedly told the nurse no when she asked if I wanted to stop. After 3 minutes, I had completed the stage and the test.

Immediately, I had to lie down on the examining table with my arms over my head for the tech to ultrasound my heart again. I was breathing heavily and sweating like a crazy person. The tech kept telling me to slow my breathing because she couldn’t see anything! After about 10 seconds, I got my breathing under control and we started the ultrasound–breathe in and hold, exhale and hold. This time the ultrasound only took like 5 minutes. Before I knew it, I was putting my top back on and heading out. Since they didn’t look freaked out or send me to the ER, I am assuming all looked good. I should hear from the doc next week. I skipped my circuit training that evening and opted to get in some rest.

Interesting side note on the BRUCE protocol test: You can calculate your Vo2max from this test. They didn’t do this for me, but I was able to find online how to do it. I was pretty impressed by my estimated Vo2max until I compared it to what I am actually racing at. The good news is that my lungs are great. The bad news is that I am not running to their potential!

On Tuesday I woke up and was feeling a bit worn out. I debated whether I should train or not especially since it was a speed day. I had forgotten to pick up my laundry the night before so I had to wait until the laundromat opened which got me to the track later than planned. It was 80 and 80% humidity and I felt like crap, but I told myself that if I got through the first interval after the warm-up and didn’t feel well, I would cut the workout short. The workout was long and complex: 1 mile warm-up then 1 mile at Threshold then a 2 minute recovery. Then it was 2×800 with 3:00 min recovery and 4×200 with 200 recovery followed by a 1 mile cool down. Total distance was 5.5 miles. The 800s were tough, but I was pleased that I got the pacing pretty close to expected. My 200s ended up being about 6 seconds too fast again. I really have to work on getting the paces down!

Running-track2
The track–more specifically lane 4–has become my Tuesday home.

Wednesday morning I planned to do a 60 minute cross training session on the bike, but discovered that morning that my back tire was flat so I skipped it. That evening I did my circuit training and noticed that my hip was still popping on my crunches. This has been happening for about 2 weeks now and as much as I try to stretch and roll my glutes and hip, I can’t get them to loosen up on my right side. I managed to get in my entire circuit, though.

Thursday morning I just needed 3 miles easy. Again, I was feeling pretty worn out, but since Friday is a complete rest day it was a little easier mentally to get out the door. My Garmin acted up for the first half mile or so which made me seriously consider just turning around and going home. (Yes, I was that fatigued and therefore my brain that fried.) I pushed through and ended up enjoying the last mile. I was super grateful to have a rest day coming, though. That night I went to bed early and slept 10.5 hours. I was still tired when I woke up on Friday morning.

Running-recovery
Feeling the need for lots of stretching and rolling already. Trying to take good care of my body.

Friday I rested. I met up with a dear friend after work and I indulged in some gluten in the form of a hamburger, a few beers, and some Indian food. I also got to bed much later than planned. Despite my best effort to salvage my Saturday morning long run by heading to bed as quickly as possible when I got home, I was sabotaged by some insomnia. I got about six hours of sleep with the help of a sleep aid.

Saturday morning a good friend ran over from Manhattan to meet me so we could do our long run together. I was scheduled for the lesser of 10 miles or 90 minutes of easy running. We planned to do my 4 bridge crossing route — over the Pulaski and Queensboro bridges and back. It was already hot at 8am when I left and I was tired. Surprisingly though, my body felt pretty okay. We kept a very easy pace, easier than I would usually run and tackled all 4 bridge crossings like champs. My friend was finished with her run before me so I tacked on about 6-7 minutes without her. I ran close to marathon pace which felt very easy even in the heat and after the 4 bridge crossings. After dropping her at the train and heading back to the apartment, I got in a good yoga session and got in a good brunch. I was very surprised at how good I felt all through the afternoon. I didn’t have the usual fatigue and need for a nap until much later in the evening. Around 8pm or so I started to crash, but that could have also been from a long day traveling to Jersey and being at a birthday party (eating less than ideal food) all day.

I ended the second week on a high note which was great. The entire week I felt a little worn out physically and mentally so it was nice to finish strong. I definitely want to try to figure out how to deal with the mid-week blahs of training. Next week I have 7.5+ hours of training on deck. That is all of my runs, post-run yoga, strength training, and cross-training on the bike. I don’t want to burn out early so will need to make a good plan of how to manage this load.

Total weekly mileage: 19.34 miles (20.9 planned if I hit my 10 on Saturday)
Total training time: 5 hours and 39 minutes (Runs, post-run yoga, and strength training)
Long run mileage: 7.57 miles (90 minutes was less than 10 miles)

Stay tuned here for next week’s recap. You can also follow my training throughout week on my Facebook page and on Instagram!

NYC Marathon training: Week 1

One week down, 17 to go! This week kicked off on Sunday, June 28th. I was scheduled for a 3 mile easy run, but since I thought I would have my exercise stress test the next day (and had just PRed a race before and had speed work the the day after the anticipated test) I decided to skip. On Monday morning, I went to the cardiologist expecting to get my stress test, but instead she took a baseline EKG and because of my arrhythmia asked me to wear a heart monitor for two weeks. I will get my stress test, but not until this coming Monday. My marathon clearance will come a week from this coming Thursday.

Running-HRM
My heart rate is live streaming to a monitoring center for two weeks.

Monday evening I got in a good strength and conditioning workout. Lots of squats and walking lunges both weighted and unweighted. Some weighted crunches, planks, supermans, pushups, tricep dips, bicep curls, and well you get the idea. It’s a familiar circuit and I realized halfway through that it was feeling pretty easy so I think it’s time to add some reps, a set, or some additional weight.

Tuesday I got in my first marathon training session–speed work! I headed over to the track bright and early for a mile and half warm-up then 8 x 200 meters with 200 meter recovery. I have never done speed work before so pacing for a short distance will need a little practice. I was supposed to be running 1:03s and kept hitting them at 0:57 until the last 3 or so which were within a second or two of target. It was super fun, though, as well as tiring. My mile and half cool down was pretty slow. That evening I indulged in a glass of wine while out with a friend for dinner.

Running-Track
Speed work on the track. I feel like a “real” runner!

Wednesday I took an unscheduled rest day. I was supposed to get another circuit in, but slept in that morning and then had dinner with a friend that evening instead.

Thursday was just five miles easy. I got them in before work. I was scheduled for 4, but wanted to add a mile from the missed three on Sunday. This run was nothing special and I think I need to find a new route for my easy runs. I am getting a little bored with the same thing every time. It was good run, I did feel a little tired, but I got in the miles. I got out of work early for the holiday so that afternoon I got in my skipped circuit and incorporated some different core stuff–mainly a lot bicycle crunches. That evening I was off the clean eating wagon again and had a couple of drinks.

Friday was a complete rest day! I went to Westchester to visit some friends who just moved there. We had lunch and again my clean eating was out the window and I had a beer. I knew I was going to pay for it and the three previous days choices the next day. That evening I got a good, clean dinner in and went to bed a little early.

This morning I got in my last workout of week 1! It was scheduled to be 9 miles easy, but again I wanted to add a mile from the missed three on Sunday. I met up with a friend of a friend (now my friend, too!) for a little jaunt over the George Washington Bridge and up the Long Path along the Palisades. I was definitely feeling both my food and drink choices from the week and Thursday’s circuit. But I got it done and with great company!

Running-LP2
We saw 4-5 fawn just off the trail head less than 10′ off trail. They were so sweet.
Running-LP
From Rockefeller Lookout. That’s George Washington Bridge and Manhattan behind me.

So that was the first week! Tomorrow I have a short recovery run, Tuesday is more speed work, Thursday another easy run, and Saturday another long run and my schedule stays pretty consistent with that rhythm throughout my training. Monday and Wednesday will be strength and conditioning days as well as low impact cardio days. Fridays are full rest days and I am sooooooo grateful for those! Right now I plan to continue to run my long runs on trail until my mountain half marathon on August 1st. Then it is all road until November 1st!

I almost forgot to mention my PR last weekend! Last Saturday I ran the Front Runners Pride Run which is 5 mile race in Central Park. Last year I ran it and it was my longest distance to date. This year, I PRed by 8:21 with a time of 47:19. I can’t believe how far I have come in a year. I’ve put in the time and seems to be paying off. 😀

Total weekly mileage: 19.98 miles (20.9 planned)
Long run mileage: 10 miles (9 planned)

Stay tuned here for next week’s recap. You can also follow my training throughout week on my Facebook page and on Instagram!