50K out. Marathon in.

Turns out I’m running a marathon on October 18th.  Something I distinctly remember saying that I would not do this year.

Months ago I registered for the Blues Cruise 50K after much research.  I scoured photos of the course and read every race recap I could find.  The course was hilly but not technical (per the race website).  And the terrain didn’t look technical in course photos (the leaves on the ground were hiding something).  I’m a terrible technical runner.  I have issues with uneven sidewalks. The Blues Cruise 50K appealed to my clumsy side…and the hills I could handle.

So for 10 weeks I logged lots of slow miles on trails (some technical), ran up and down hills, and got 2 20-mile runs under my belt.  A few Sundays ago I headed out to do a test run on the course itself.  I wanted to see if my hill work was adequate or if I needed to step it up a notch.

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bad omen (and I was wearing blue)

Turns out my hill work was adequate and the course is technical (in my opinion)!  I did email the RD to see which portion of the course was the hilliest.  I didn’t really notice the hills too much since I was too busy dancing around tree roots and rocks.

So this picture does not show how technical the course was.  To add some perspective – I could only manage about 11:00 minutes/mile due to all the “dancing”.  Feel free to mock me and my clumsiness.

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I drove home defeated and not one bit excited about the race.  I couldn’t imagine running 31 miles of terrain like that.  I do have access to some technical trails but not 20+ miles of them.  I emailed the RD (who was awesome) and found out they did offer refunds.  Score!  Now I could sign up for something else…

I knew another 50K around the same time and location would be unlikely so I settled for the Monster Mash Marathon in Dover, DE.  Local?  Yes.  Good timing?  Yes.  These were my top requirements.  The race had decent reviews on marathonguide.com but it’s the complete opposite of what I have been training for – flat, fast, and on roads.

I am excited though.  This will be my first marathon since December 2012, a few months before I got pregnant (which was oddly also a DE marathon).  Might as well rip off the bandaid and get back at it!  And it will be good prep for a PR/BQ in Spring 2015 (my goal).

I’ll write a whole post devoted to training soon, including the challenges I’m encountering with training post-baby.

Speaking of baby…an unrelated picture of Fiona!

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lately and lesson learned

It’s been awhile…almost 2 months to be exact.

The past 2 months have been a whirlwind.  I’m going to do a seperate post on 50K training but first an update on life in general is needed.

I quit my job in early July to become a SAHM, running coach, and (former) barre instructor.  More on that last part later.  I was lucky to have 6 months of child care leave but I knew I wasn’t going back.  I started RTLR Coaching 4 years ago with the goal of devoting more time to it once I had kids.  And I loved staying home with Fiona more than I ever imagined.

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In anticipation of leaving my job I decided to pursue any and every opportunity.  Because adjusting to motherhood, coaching runners through a busy Fall racing season, and train for a 50K isn’t enough (this was an actual thought of mine).  One of the opportunities that came up was a barre instructor position at a new studio.  This was perfect – I loved barre and wanted to start teaching classes anyway.  Win-win.

I started training back in April and teaching in June.  What an eye-opening experience…and kudos to all you fitness instructors out there.  A lot of work goes into an hour class (and a lot of work to make it look so seamless and easy).  Between taking barre classes, prepping for classes, making playlists, and getting up to speed in general, I was in way over my head.  WAY over my head.

The pressure to give 100% to everything was physically and mentally draining.  There was so much I wanted to do with coaching but didn’t have the time.  When I was with Fiona, I couldn’t turn off the to-do list in my head and just be present with her.

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I finally admitted to Matt last week at dinner that I bit off more than I could chew and something needed to come off my plate.  He agreed (to say I was an anxious basketcase at times is an understatement) and wondered when I was finally going to wave the white flag.  The problem was that I truly enjoyed everything on my plate and, obviously, coaching and Fiona were non-negotiable.

Matt, always the voice of reason, reminded me of why I left my job in the first place:  to stay at home with Fiona and grow my coaching business.  Barre was taking time away from coaching and, to a much lesser extent, Fiona.  It had to go.  It killed me to give up such a wonderful opportunity that I loved.  Had this opportunity popped up before Fiona was born or even when she was a bit older, the timing may have been better.  So I slept on it, ran 20 miles on it, and then resigned.  I do feel as though a huge weight has been lifted off of me but part of me is still sad about it.

IMG_3535unrelated but makes me laugh

Lesson learned?  You can have it all but not at the same time.

ODDyssey Half Marathon Recap

I ran the ODDyssey Half Marathon for the second time on Sunday.  Last year I was 10 weeks pregnant.  This year I’m 5 months postpartum.  Same race but 2 very different experiences.

ODDysseyI love Fiona’s arm rolls

I’ll cut right to the chase – it sucked.  I ran a 1:57:42 – a far cry from my 1:53:08 in March.  And I try not to think too much about how far off it is from my PR.

I have only 1 excuse for my poor performance – utter exhaustion.  In hindsight I should have never attempted to “race” this race.  I should have kept the pace nice and slow – inline with my 50K training.  Matt was away for 2 weeks and came home the day before the race.  I had some babysitting help from my parents and niece but I was still exhausted.  Fiona is a good sleeper but likes an early start to her day (between 4:00 and 5:00AM in the days leading up to the race).  By the time Matt got home I was hurting.

My goal, as with the LOVE Run and Broad Street, was to hide the pace field on my Garmin and run HM effort.  I was struggling right from the start.  I thought it was the heat so I plugged forward.  By mile 5 I wanted to DNF or take a nap under a tree (preferably both).  I couldn’t get over how tired and worn out I felt.  I knew I had to slow my pace in order to finish.  I’d like to say I consciously slowed my pace down but, let’s not kid ourselves, my body shut down at mile 5 and my pace came to a halt.

Splits:  8:18 / 8:12 / 8:09 / 8:13 / 8:52 / 9:23 / 9:00 / 9:05 / 9:18 / 9:18 / 9:16 / 9:01 / 9:23 (hill climb to the finish)

Lesson learned?  I’ll never make it through 50K training (or the 50K) if I don’t make sleep a priority.  I felt like 5 months of not-so-sound sleep finally caught up to me.  Totally caught me off guard too.  If Fiona gets up at 5AM (her wake-up time this week), I need to be in bed (asleep) no later than 9PM.  (And if you’re wondering, that’s her wake-up time regardless of when she goes to bed…6PM or 8PM.)

On the plus side:  my pacing was pretty consistent, I kicked off 50K training, and was able to run a fun race which included a tasty beer at the finish (missed out on that one last year!).

 

 

 

 

 

Broad Street Run (Race Recap)

It’s been nearly 2 weeks since the Broad Street Run and I’m glad I wasn’t able to recap this race sooner.  A little perspective changes everything.

This race is a clusterfuck each year.  A nightmare of crowds and congestion to get there and get home.  Forty thousand runners packed into a small space.  But the course is flat and straight and perfect for a PR.  And the crowds are pretty amazing too.  That’s why I keep running it each year.

Last year I was 5 weeks pregnant and in PR shape.  Common sense prevailed (or rather Matt prevailed) and I ended up not running the race.  Of course I could have run it for fun but I’m too stubborn and race results live on the internet forever.

So this year I was excited to get back to Broad despite being nowhere near PR shape.  I feel like I’m in this frustrating transition space.  I’m no longer pregnant and running races for fun but I’m not 100% yet so PRing is not likely.  Lining up for a race is a total guessing game with regard to pace.  Hence the reason why I hide the pace field on my Garmin during races and just run based on effort.  Effort is the only thing I do know right now.

CollageSo many runners.  A view of the front and back of my corral.

I can’t say Broad didn’t go as planned because there was no plan.  I definitely wasn’t anticipating feeling crappy at mile 1.  I tried to turn it around – maybe I needed to warm up – but it still felt hard at mile 5.  My lungs burned a bit (I just got over a cold the week before…apparently it was still lingering) and it just wasn’t my day.  It sucks when bad runs happen to fall on race day.

I tried to keep my effort consistent and have fun.  I wouldn’t say it was a death march but it definitely felt like that at times.  I finished in 1:23:41 (8:22 average pace).  Splits:  7:52 / 7:57 / 8:16 / 8:21 / 8:21 / 8:27 / 8:33 / 8:42 / 8:39 / 8:24.  Maybe I should unhide the pace field…I’m clearly all over the place.

I was initially disappointed with myself until the next day.  I woke up with no soreness.  This is a far cry from how I felt after the LOVE Run in March.  I was sore for 3 days.  Like post-marathon sore.  The day after Broad I was able to run.  Hooray for progress with structural fitness!  And I checked out what my “predicted” finish time for a 10-miler would have been based on my 1:53 finish at the LOVE Run – a 1:25.  So despite not feeling it at Broad, I still did pretty well.  (I do take race predictor charts with a grain of salt…unless I’m faster than the predicted time.  Don’t we all?!)

I’m getting there.  I just need to keep plugging along.

Unrelated but what’s with the new mamalete hashtag?  #motherrunner isn’t enough (or obnoxious enough)?!

 

Big Plans {revised}

In February I posted about my Big Plans for 2014 and then, 6 weeks later, posted about how running kinda sucks.  I have updates on both fronts…as I’m sure you are on the edge of your seat in anticiptation!

First let’s talk about running.  This is the good news.  It’s getting better…dare I say running seems to be clicking again?  Maybe it’s the weather and more outdoor running?  Maybe I needed to get that first race under my belt?  Maybe, structurally, I’m finally adapting to my new normal?  Whatever it is, I hope it sticks around.  My weekly mileage is still low – 25 to 30 mpw – and I intend to keep it there for at least  another month.  Lower mileage is giving me ample time for pre-hab (hips and glutes) and core work which is vital right now.

My big plan for this Fall was to run a 50 miler – specifically the JFK 50 miler – in November.  Training for an ultra, as opposed to training for a marathon PR, just made sense postpartum.  My body cannot handle the rigors of speed work and fast finish long runs this year.  Instead I crave long, slow miles…the building blocks for a strong 2015.  (Goals for 2015 include a marathon PR and Boston in 2016.)

Registration for JFK opened April 1st and I went back and forth about it.  I so wanted to do it but my gut kept telling me to run a 50K instead.  Since your gut is always right (always), I registered for the Blues Cruise 50K in October.  My primary reason for dropping to the 50K distance?  Motherhood is physically exhausting!  And I don’t mean in a sleep deprived way…I’m talking about hauling around almost 15 lbs (Fiona’s a good eater!) all day while bending, twisting, and kneeling.  By the end of the day, I’m beat up.

The back-to-back long runs needed for a 50 mile race would surely do me in on the weekends and it would require a lot of time away from Fiona (and family time).  I just don’t want that right now.  A 50K is much more manageable in terms of long runs and overall mileage and I already have experience with the distance and training for it.  And the race is an hour from my house and is supposed to be pretty good – a 31 mile loop around a lake that isn’t too technical (but hilly).

I’m excited.  And relieved.  There are lots of new “firsts” right now and I just don’t want training to be one of them.  I also have 3 half marathons scheduled for this year and my goal is to PR at the Philly Half in November.

First things first though – Broad Street on May 4th…

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RTLR Coaching is having a SALE on online coaching services now through April 21st!  Now is the time to start planning for your Fall race.  More details here.  

 

Online Coaching Sale!

RTLR Coaching is having its first ever SALE!

Colored-Sale-Tags-2

Sale on ONLINE coaching services!

Your first MONTH of online coaching is FREE!

Now is the time to think about training for those Fall races.  Marathon, half marathon, 10K, or 5K – let me help you achieve your running goals.

Sale runs from April 7th to April 21st.

Ready to get started?  Complete my coaching questionnaire.

Details: 

  • New clients only
  • Online/virtual coaching only
  • Requires a minimum 4-month commitment.  May 2014 is the free month with June to August 2014 at $80 per month.  After August 2014, price remains at $80 per month.
  • A $80 cancellation fee applies if you discontinue coaching prior to the 4-month commitment.
  • An initial consultation via phone will take place after completion of the coaching questionnaire and signing of a liability waiver and contract.
  • The training plan will be delivered in 3 to 4 week increments so that I can constantly adapt and adjust the plan based on how you are progressing.
  • In addition, there will be weekly check-ins, unlimited access to a coach for questions/advice, and a race day strategy/plan.

The LOVE Run Philly {Race Recap}

Last Sunday I ran Philly’s first ever LOVE Half Marathon.  CGI Racing put together a fantastic half – super organized with wonderful volunteers (who stood outside for hours in a freezing downpour).  If you like the Philly Half in November (my favorite race), then you’ll like the LOVE Run.  I’m so happy that Philly has another distance race in the Spring…something other than Broad Street.

This race was a lot of firsts for me:  first race postpartum, first race in a total downpour, and first race where I didn’t look at my Garmin (not one single time).  The weather was awful – freezing, windy, and nonstop rain.

My original plan was to make this a fun run, especially since postpartum running has been very blah lately.  Standing at the start, freezing and wet, all I kept thinking was the faster you run, the faster you get done.  Screw the fun run, I didn’t want to spend another minute in these conditions if I didn’t have to.

That’s when the strategy changed to let’s run HM effort and not look at the Garmin.  I love running by effort (although I rarely do it) – there’s no magic pace to hit, no pace charts to follow, just you and your breath.  And not looking at my Garmin was WAY easier than I thought…partially because it was under my windbreaker and I couldn’t see it anyway.

M1 – 8:51
M2 – 8:19
M3 – 8:51
M4 – 8:14
M5 – 8:20
M6 – 8:43
M7 – 8:19
M8 – 8:08
M9 – 8:52
M10 – 8:48
M11 – 8:41
M12 – 8:45
M13 – 8:36

Official time:  1:53:07 (8:38 pace)

Not the most consistent pacing and the wheels came off a bit towards the end but that’s to be expected after a year plus of not racing.  I was in total shock when I crossed the finish line and looked at my watch.  I was hoping for a (barely) sub-2:00 finish time.  If I were eyeing my Garmin I would have freaked out about my pace during the middle miles (what are you doing?  You have no business running that fast!).  Not looking at my Garmin was the best thing I did that day.  And also having absolutely no expectations helps tremendously.

Thanks to Oiselle teammate Danielle for keeping me company for a few miles.  It definitely took my mind off the misery of the weather.

Race photos: me, my sister, and sister-in-law pre-race (and rain) and post-race awkward selfie.

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postpartum running: the real deal

During my long run on Saturday I thought about everything my body has gone through in the past year.   A 30-lb weight gain, a gait that changed (and back that ached) because of said weight gain, a wider pelvis, a squished sciatic nerve, feet that grew both in length and width, labor and delivery, and then weight loss.

So why am I surprised that running kinda sucks some days and I often feel like I’m running in someone else’s body?  During pregnancy I had these visions of effortless runs where I was flying.  I mean, I ran throughout my pregnancy – don’t I just hop right back in the saddle?!   Not exactly.

IMG_2529how we spend most days

Structural Fitness
Cardiovascularly, I feel good.  While marathon pace may feel like half marathon pace, I know that in time my speed will come back.  I’m not overly concerned about that.  My structural fitness (muscles, bones, tendons, etc.) has taken a hit.  Again, I’m not sure why I am so surprised.  My last substantial long run in 2013 was the Philly RnR Half in September.  I was 6 months pregnant and knew my days of double digit runs were numbered.  I ran 12 miles this Saturday and, structurally, it felt like 20.  This system takes longer to adapt than the cardiovascular system so I just need to give it time.  

Sleep 
Sleep just ain’t what it used to be.  While I shouldn’t complain – Fiona sleeps very well – I could definitely use more (couldn’t we all?) or more deep sleep (checking the monitor excessively doesn’t lend itself to sound sleeping).  Less sleep = less repair.

Hormones
This surely has something to do with it, right?

IMG_2460one more because i couldn’t resist…

Taking all of this into consideration, I need to give myself a bit of a break.  Maybe I’ll feel back to my old self in 6 months?  Or maybe I’ll adapt to my new normal?

Just like it has in the past, consistency and hard work will pay off.  I just have to be patient.

Any moms out there feel the same way about running postpartum?  

 

 

 

how running has changed

Last week was the first time where I feel like I returned to real training.  Some substantial weekly mileage (22 – yes, that is substantial right now) and a 6 mile “long” run.  I feel confident about the Philly LOVE Run (half marathon) at the end of March.  Confident I can finish without keeling over, that is.

Fitting in runs and how I go about them has certainly changed since Fiona was born.  Honestly, it hasn’t been too bad.  Of course, she’s not mobile and sleeps all day.  I imagine that I’ll have to get a bit more creative when she’s older (4AM runs?!).  Back in the day, I was very creative about fitting in my long runs around my social schedule (and by social I mean drinking).  Guess I’ll have to tap into that creativity again.

You run when you can
The luxury of running in the early morning no longer exists (for now, at least)!  Instead, I hop on the treadmill whenever I can predict that Fiona will sleep for a decent amount of time (+1 for the white noise of the treadmill).  Pre-baby, the thought of running in the afternoon – or worse, at night – was unthinkable.  Now I relish any run…no matter what time of day it is.

IMG_2360what fiona does while I’m on the treadmill

Running clothes are my wardrobe
Since I never know when I can run I must be prepared at all times!  I change into running clothes shortly after I get up (and brush my teeth, if it’s my lucky day).  Thankfully my running wardrobe is far superior to all my other clothes (err, sweatpants).

Being proactive
Since I have big running plans this year and I know my body has changed with pregnancy I have myself on a strict “pre-hab” regimen of hip, glute, and core strengthening.  These are all areas that have weakened for me during pregnancy.  I don’t want pre-hab to turn into re-hab and derail any of my plans.

All runs are fast finish
Keep in mind fast is a relative term these days.  Fiona will generally sleep for a good amount of time but I’m constantly checking for signs of her waking up.  Once I see her stirring, up goes the speed on the treadmill.  Might as well end the run on a good note!

Completely unrelated but Matt took this picture a few days ago of Hawk and Fiona.  It’s too cute not to share!

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Running Broad Street and looking for group runs, a training plan, and the guidance of a running coach?  Join my BSR training program today!   

 

Big Plans

2013 was a good year in running.  A year ago I was running 20 milers for fun (it’s my favorite distance), then got pregnant, and was fortunate enough to run throughout my pregnancy.  I truly loved running while pregnant and didn’t miss racing or the pressure of PRing.  It was just the break my body and mind needed so that I could enter 2014 fresh, eager, and determined.

I’m a little over 3 weeks postpartum and I’m dying to get back to training.  I’m dying to run 20 miles again.  I’m dying to have goals again and races on my calendar.  But I’m realistic and cautious.  I know I’m not running in the same pre-pregnancy body (reminds me of the saying contents may have shifted during flight – the same is true of my pelvis).

I started walking on the treadmill 2 weeks after Fiona was born.  After a few days I ran a mile – very slowly – and felt really good.  I have slowly worked my way up to 3 miles.  Technically, I’m not cleared for exercise yet so I’m going to stick with 3 miles for awhile since it feels good and it’s feasible (Fiona will tolerate her bouncer and nap).

So what are my big plans for 2014?  On my calendar right now is the Philly LOVE Run – a half marathon on March 30.  This is a new race for Philly and the course looks great.  I have NO plans to race.  This will purely be a fun run.  I want to cover the distance and enjoy myself.

Next up (assuming I get into the lottery) is Broad Street on May 4.  I WILL be racing this one.  I figure it’ll give me a good idea of where my speed is (or isn’t).  Also – this is a shameless plug – RTLR Coaching has a Broad Street training program!  Our first training run will be 2/22 (after the lottery is announced).  This program is great for first time Broad Street Runners or anyone that would like to train for BSR under the guidance of a running coach.  All the details are on my website – check it out!

After that is the ODDyssey Half Marathon on June 8.  I ran this for the first time last year (10 weeks pregnant) and fell in love with this race.  It’s a small field, great course, and feels more like an ultra because it’s so laid back.

So that brings us to Fall and my big plan – a 50-miler!  My second ultra but first “real” ultra.  I have been wanting to train for and run this distance for awhile now.  And postpartum seems to be the perfect “fit” for an ultra (in my opinion).  If I truly am being realistic about my return to training I don’t want the pressure of PRing in a marathon and the harsh training that comes with it.  I don’t want myself getting into a too much, too soon scenario and ending up injured (remember…contents may have shifted during flight).   Not that training for a 50-mile race is a walk in the park – not at all.  But it will allow for a slow, gradual increase in mileage without the punishing workouts.  That’s exactly what I need right now.

I have my eyes on JFK but I’m open to other 50-milers (please recommend one!) as long as they are somewhat local to Philly and later in the year (Oct/Nov).  I’ll probably run a marathon as a training run for the 50-miler.  I’m thinking maybe Steamtown – I was signed up to run it in 2013 – but I’m pretty open on that as well.

I do have plans to PR in the marathon and run Boston again but that’s for 2015.  Right now I need to be patient and take baby steps.

What are your big running plans for 2014?

Can you recommend a good 50-miler besides JFK?