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?

 

 

 

(brief) thoughts on Boston

Normally I would remain silent and not blog about such a horrific event.  But it’s Boston and I feel the need to say something.  Although I can’t eloquently string the right words together to convey what I’m feeling.

Anger.  Rage.  Disgust.  Sadness.  Heartbroken.

My heart breaks for the 3 people that were killed, especially the 8-year-old boy cheering for his Dad.  Reports are saying that his sister (6 years old) lost her leg.  I pray that the death toll doesn’t rise as 17 are still listed as critically injured.

I can’t wrap my head around the scene at the finish line.

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(source)

My heart breaks for the runners that didn’t get a chance to cross the finish line…stopped around Mile 25.

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(source)

Running Boston last year was a dream come true – something that can still bring tears of joy to my eyes.  I know a handful of runners that ran their first Boston yesterday and it disgusts me that their experience is lessened due to yesterday’s events.  As my sister-in-law said…an incredibly joyous event is now marred.

Thank you, Runner’s World!

Grab your April issue of Runner’s World and turn to page 40.

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It’s me!

I am so absolutely thrilled to finally see this in print! I answered this question back in June 2012 and have been in contact regularly with the editor about when it would appear. It was definitely worth the wait.

Appearing in Runner’s World – in any capacity – was definitely something on my bucket list.

It almost happened last April during the Boston Marathon. Prior to Boston, RW was looking for so-called “Boston squeakers”, or people who barely got into Boston. I am the very definition of a squeaker – my BQ time was 3:43:46 and the cut-off for my age and gender was 3:43:46. Yep, you don’t squeak by any less than that. I received an email from Tish Hamilton (yes, Tish Hamilton!) asking if I would be available for a photo shoot at the Boston Marathon finish line the day before the race. RW was gathering “Boston squeakers” and was planning on doing a story about them. Umm, YES! Sidenote: if you know me in real life, you know that the prospect of a photo shoot makes me way more happy than it should.

I was literally on the edge of my seat with excitement. Not only was I running my first Boston, I was going to appear in Runner’s World. Does it get any better than that?!

Then the weather forecast got worse and worse (or hotter and hotter) and Tish sent an email saying the angle of the story had changed and instead RW was going to focus on the heat, not the squeakers. Photo shoot cancelled. Total bummer. I missed my shot as a RW model. BUT, I was still running Boston!

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Then came an email from a RW editor in June asking if I would answer a question for their “Ask The Experts” section. Holy crap – this was even better than a photo shoot. I was appearing in RW because of coaching. I never expected this!

Thank you RW. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity and would love (love, love!) to work with you again in the future.

To those of you reading Run The Long Road for the first time – welcome! I hope you like what you see and stick around for awhile.

To those of you interested in coaching, my services are listed here. You can contact me at runthelongroad (at) gmail.com with any questions. Go ahead and check out my PR page to see how “fast” I am – I don’t mind. What I lack in speed I make up for in knowledge Smile

Boston Marathon Tips

So I only ran one Boston Marathon and I’m by no means an expert on all things Boston.  Although…some do find my BM jacket (sizing) post to be very helpful.

This post won’t be about the obvious stuff (down go out too fast, train for up hills and down hills) because, unless you live under a rock, you should know that.

the tank top – an essential layer
The expo is crowded and there are hardly any dressing rooms.  You will get a chance to try on your race shirt so it helps if you wear something light and form fitting underneath.  I also tried on a ton of other gear.  You are literally stripping down, trying something on, putting your clothes back on, moving to another vendor, repeat.  See where the tank top helps out?

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if you want to celebrate, make reservations
Marathon Monday is huge in Boston.  If you have a lot of people with you and want to meet up for dinner after the race, you need reservations.  I had to call a number of places and practically begged them to take my reservation.

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there seems to be a lot of Miller Lites near me

make time for R&R
We drove up to Boston on Saturday morning and spent an inordinate amount of time at the expo on Saturday afternoon.  On Sunday morning we “visited” the finish line for pictures and then I spent the rest of the day off my feet…even though I was missing out on sightseeing (err, bar hopping) with my family and friends.  It was so worth it.  It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and spend way too much time on your feet.  Make sure you schedule in some downtime.

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the athletes’ village is huge
When you enter you see 1 large field.  There is actually another field on the other side.  The porta potty lines were pretty ridiculous where I was (the first field) and I think a lot of people stay in the first field because they don’t know another field exists?  So if you really gotta go, check out the next field.

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run boston for fun
Here’s where you may disagree.  Hear me out.  Initially I was not running Boston for “fun”.  I was going to race my heart out.  Then it was 90 degrees and I was forced to slow down and enjoy myself.  Not that I wouldn’t enjoy myself if I raced it (it is Boston!) but you know what I mean.  When you run a marathon for fun you take in more and experience more.

I’m not sure if I will ever race Boston.  It might always be a fun run for me.  I can’t imagine finishing on Boylston Street with an ounce of disappointment because I didn’t reach my A goal.  It would just take away from the experience too much.

show off that jacket
I wear mine all the time Smile

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Any Boston veterans have other tips to share?

running and such

running
The Rehoboth Beach Marathon was 4 weeks ago.  Recovery time is over and it’s back to quasi-training.  Quasi since I’m not training for anything specific, just maintaining my base (in the event that I do decide to train for something specific).

I really dislike training in the winter and the past 3 years I trained for a Spring marathon.  Some years (2012) were mild while others (2011) were awful.  I hate planning my training around Mother Nature, resorting to the treadmill, bundling up, and freezing fingers despite 2 layers of gloves.

But…I worked hard in 2012 and I want to maintain all that base building.  So I’m putting in the mileage but not worrying about my long run if Mother Nature decides to dump a foot of snow on a Saturday.  That’s the perk of quasi-training!

I realize I kinda stopped recapping my weekly mileage after Boston so here’s what I’ve been up to post-RBM:

Week 1 post – no miles (mandatory recovery week)

Week 2 post – 23 miles + barre

Week 3 post – 34 miles (including a run with Abby!) + barre

Week 4 post – 45 miles + barre

My goal is to maintain my base mileage in the 40s with appropriate drop back weeks built in.  And keep up with barre class once per week.

and such
This weekend in pictures…

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I love Philly.

Are you quasi-training or training for real this winter?

a good year

Happy New Year, folks!

I am thoroughly enjoying my time off and perfecting my “lady who lunches” routine.  Next Wednesday is going to be cruel and painful.

First things first – RTLR turned 2 this week!  For those of you who have been reading from the beginning – (1) kudos, (2) thank you, and (3) you deserve a tall cup of coffee or a stiff drink (your choice).

I wouldn’t be a proper blogger if I didn’t reflect back on 2012 (in terms of running, of course).  If I could sum it up in one word?  WOW.

What could be better than kicking off the year with the Boston Marathon?!   90 degrees or not, it was an amazing ‘experience’ (due to the heat, the B.A.A. refused to call it a race but instead an ‘experience’).

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this picture says it all…

My Christmas ornament from Matt this year…

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After Boston, I ran my first “ultra” (50K) and discovered that running on grass isn’t as fun as it was when you were a kid.  But…ultras ARE fun!

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After that came a 5K, 2 HMs, and the Rehoboth Beach Marathon – all PRs (thank you, ultra training).  Some were surprise PRs and others (err, RBM) were I-could-have-done-better-PRs.

I also learned some things along the way:  (1) when in a rut, run an ultra and (2) drop waaay back on mileage during drop back weeks.  In the past I don’t think I was cutting my mileage back enough to really absorb the benefits of my training.

Your turn to brag!  Tell me about your best (or favorite) 2012 race or maybe something you learned about running in 2012?

Rehoboth Beach Marathon Recap

Marathon #11 can best be described by one of my Dad’s many sayings:  sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you.  I won’t leave you in any suspense – I didn’t get the bear.

the good
I didn’t have a terrible race.  I didn’t go out too fast, didn’t hit the wall, didn’t dehydrate, didn’t develop aches or pains, or didn’t fuel properly.  My first 13.1 was run in 1:48 and the second 13.1 in 1:52.  A 4-minute positive split.  Not terrible – I’ll never be a negative split marathoner – even splits are the way to go for me.

All I can say is that I got tired (no shit, right?).  My mind was saying “go, go, go” but my legs could not maintain MP.  My pace would slip, I would rally back for a little, and then my pace would slip again.

the bad and the ugly
On paper, a sub-3:40 (8:20 average pace if you’re using 3:39) should have been easy.  I just ran a 1:41 half 3 weeks ago (7:45 average pace).  My MP would have been 35 seconds slower than my HMP.  That’s huge.  This was not a stretch goal.

But the marathon is a fickle bitch of a race.  Anything can happen.  You’re on top of the world for one mile and praying that it will all end the next mile.

miles 1-10
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I wanted to use the first 2 miles as a warm-up and then settle into 8:20 pace.  I was holding back here.  I obsessively checked my Garmin to make sure I wasn’t going out too fast.  The first few miles were within RB and then we entered a rails-to-trails section.  This was definitely my favorite part of the race.  It was gorgeous and the trail running put me at ease.

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And then we headed out for a long stretch to Lewes and Cape Henlopen State Park, passing some of the biggest and most beautiful houses I have ever seen.

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on my way to DQ…

miles 11-19
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I needed to pee.  Like real bad.  I first noticed it around mile 7 and I thought the feeling would go away.  It only got worse.  With the exception of my first marathon, I never have to stop and pee during a race.  Ever.  I gave some serious thought to just peeing myself but my stage fright is way too bad for that.  Plus it’s really difficult to “let go” while running!

I HAD to stop at the next porta potty.  I was going to lose time either way.  If I didn’t pee, the feeling would only get worse and slow me down.  I ducked into the next porta potty I saw, peed as fast as I could, and then tried my best to make up for lost time (that’s why mile 18 is 8:53).

Miles 14-16 went through Cape Henlopen State Park.  This is where the so-called “hills” were.  It was more like gentle rolling hills – nothing that will really break you.  The payoff was gorgeous views of the sand dunes and ocean.

miles 20-26.2
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This is where the tiredness set in.  I didn’t hit the wall; it was just harder to maintain MP.  I felt OK and tried to rally back with mile 21 but my paced slipped again in mile 22.

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still giving a half-hearted thumbs up…

We made our way back to RB via the rails-to-trails section.  I saw Jess around mile 22.  I have never met Jess before but we both knew we were running the race.  I introduced myself and we ran together for the next 4 miles.  We were both having a tough time and although we didn’t talk it was nice to have someone there with you…providing silent encouragement and motivation.  Thank you, Jess!

I passed mile 25 in 3:30.  I didn’t know how close to 3:31 I was but I remember thinking I can do this.  I can run a 3:39.  It’s funny how you forget that you have to run 1.2 miles to finish.  I would have had to pull the fastest 1.2 miles of my life to get a 3:39.

I saw my Garmin switch over to 3:40 and my heart sank.  I was so close…I could see the tent where the finish line was.  I crossed the finish line in such a fog I never stopped my Garmin until 30 seconds later.

Official results
3:41:34
Overall – 197/823
Female – 47/323
AG – 10/45

I so badly wanted to run a 3:3x marathon and was totally capable of doing so but it wasn’t my day.  I left nothing on that course and did the best I could do on that day…which is all you can really ask for in a marathon. 

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the race itself
I would definitely, absolutely, positively recommend this race.  The course was beautiful (and flat) and RB Running Company organized a small and fantastic race.  I lucked out with the weather – it was 100% overcast with no wind.  I could see how even the slightest bit of wind could cause havoc on some of the out-and-back portions.

I also got to see Matt about 4-5 times on the course.  He kept popping up every couple of miles.

The best thing about the race was the after party.  A huge, heated tent with catered food, live music, and beer!

I mentioned this in another post but it’s worth mentioning again.  I stayed at Avenue Inn, right around the corner from the start line.  The race started at 7AM and I didn’t leave my hotel room until 6:45AM.  I was warm, dry, and used the bathroom to my heart’s content.

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we ran right by the hotel at the start

Writing this recap has been cathartic.  I was hoping it would be.  Up until yesterday, all I could think of is how I didn’t run a 3:3x marathon.  I hate how that overshadows that fact that I PR’d by 2 minutes.  If I were a client I would have looked at those splits and told them they ran a terrific race and they should be proud.  I need to listen to my own advice.

On the plus side, I get a break.  A real break.  Not a let’s-run-a-50K-and-then-another-marathon break (remember how I said I was going to take a break after Boston)?  I’m going to focus on barre and running what I want, when I want.

I literally could not keep up with all the comments on FB, Instagram, and Twitter.  Thank you, thank you!  It really did mean a lot.

2 days

As per usual during race week, my productivity is at an all time low – except for Lysol wiping, hand sanitizing, and weather checking.  I fully attribute my (heightened) germ neuroses for keeping me healthy.  Matt is also feeling better too, so that helps.

As for weather, it’s looking rather unseasonable.  Thankfully the race starts at 7AM and it doesn’t seem like the wind will be too bad.  I’ll take it.

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tank top and shorts weather!

Race goals?  To run a sub-3:40.  Same goal as I had for hotter-than-hell Boston this year.  Simple and uncomplicated.  Whatever the day brings I will try my best to go with it.

See ya on the other side folks!

PS – I need to pass along a message from my friends at Barre Focus Fitness.  The grand opening celebration of their University City studio was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy.  Join them tomorrow night for 2 free classes!  Details below…

WHAT: Barre Focus Fitness University City Grand Opening Celebration

Join the owners of BFF-UC for an official “Grand Opening” celebration!  Complimentary classes offered at 6:30 & 7:45, accompanied by a champagne toast, yummy snacks provided by Pure Fare, and giveaways from local businesses

WHEN: Thursday, December 6th, with FREE classes at 6:30 & 7:45

WHERE: Barre Focus Fitness University City
4145 Chestnut Street-2nd Floor, Philadelphia, PA

Register at www.barreuniversitycity.com.

18 miles of thoughts

What I love about long runs is the uninterrupted time to think and sort through “stuff”.  I took Friday off from work (the key to the best day ever) and started off my day with a 18-miler.  I got to “sleep” in, not run in the dark, and had the trail all to myself.  Perfection.

I thought a lot about my running “progress” over the past year.  I can pretty much divide the past year into pre-50K and post-50K training.

I was extremely discouraged while training for Boston.  Dropping my MP from 8:30 to 8:20 seemed impossible and so did that sub-3:40.  Turns out, it didn’t matter much come race day.

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so happy.  so hot.

Then I spent the summer running lots of long, slow miles.  I ran myself silly and loved every mile of it.  A month after my 50K, I shaved 2 minutes off my half marathon PR.  It was a mix of ultra training “magic” and having absolutely no expectations.

It occurred to me on Friday that my lack of (speedy) progress while training for Boston was because my endurance plateaued.  It didn’t matter how many mile repeats I did or how many MP long runs I ran.  Your speed is limited by your aerobic capacity. 

Training for a 50K unlocked speed I never thought I had.  I will run a 3:30 marathon some day.  I just need to keep running ultras too Winking smile

It’s difficult to analyze your training and progress when you are nose deep in it.  It’s hard to be objective when you are consumed with training.  That’s why running coaches are so great (shameless plug)!

Do you sort through thoughts during long runs?

Ever had an epiphany about your training that would otherwise be obvious if you weren’t so consumed with your own running?  Did that question make any sense?!

hit-or-miss

A few thoughts on this beautiful Sunday…

Running:  hit-or-miss
That accurately describes these past 4 weeks.  I’m hot…then cold.  Up…then down.  I’m not too stressed after last weekend’s PR and the fact that this is supposed to be my downtime.  But, I do have 2 races coming up and I want to capitalize on my current speed so it’s back to work tomorrow.

iOS 6 upgrade
Has anyone downloaded the new upgrade?  My favorite features are the do not disturb notification and panoramic camera.  No more texts waking up this grandma at 9:30PM!

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panoramic view of my living room and dining room

Boston 2013 – the way it should be
Even though I’m not running Boston in 2013 doesn’t mean I cannot be *mildly* Boston obsessed.  The B.A.A. announced last Friday that registration will re-open tomorrow (!) and will continue until the maximum field size is reached.  So everyone that registered over the past 2 weeks will be accepted (and then some)!  This is fantastic and the way IT SHOULD BE.  What a difference from last year.  Congrats to all the runners that were accepted!

Favorite iOS 6 upgrade feature?

Running Boston in 2013?