Happy Memorial Day!


It’s been 4 weeks since I stopped MAF training and today begins marathon training (officially)!  I plan on doing weekly updates but feel the need to update on the “in between” (if you care) and where I’m headed with marathon training (again, if you care).

I’m feeling better about training overall since my last post.  I’m going to take it one day at a time and make a decision closer to the race about goals.  There’s no way I can pinpoint a goal right now.

My body is getting used to speed work again.  Over the past 4 weeks I slowly worked it back in…beginning with strides and building up to mile repeats.  In fact, I did those dreaded mile repeats last week and this week!  They’re not as bad as I remembered.

I’m definitely not as fast in regard to track work.  No surprise.  MAF training wasn’t intended to help out there (not directly at least).  That doesn’t concern me so much since the base is there and I just need to stress the right systems to get faster.  I have 16 weeks for that!

Mileage.  Hmph.  I go back and forth on this one.  I truly believe in running high mileage (“high” being relative to the runner…one runner’s high mileage is another runner’s low mileage and vice versa).  I’d love to max out at 65-70 mpw but that’s unrealistic for me right now.  Especially since I’m turning up the intensity this cycle – I don’t want to manipulate too many variables at once.  And I want to focus on “extras” – extras that take up time but are vitally important.  It’s worth sacrificing a few miles for them.  So I would imagine this training cycle being a low mileage one (40s/50s) for me.

Speaking of extras – I’m talking about pre-hab (I plan to do a whole post about this one), strength training, and barre.  Ideally, I want to drop down to 4 days a week of running (I always run 5) to accommodate the extras but that might not always happen, especially when my mileage picks up.

I guess that’s where I stand.  Of course this could all change!  I’m finding that pregnancy (blame it all on pregnancy!) has made me very indecisive and I’m constantly changing my mind about everything.  That’s why training will be taken one day at a time :)




I’m #keepingitreal today.

This week and next week are “pre-marathon” training weeks.  The only goal of these 2 weeks are to add some speed work back in and acclimate (reacquaint?) myself to higher intensity workouts.  After that I’m doing a traditional 16-week plan.

I should be excited.  I’m always excited to begin training for a marathon.

I’m scared instead.  Add in anxious and doubtful too.

My last marathon was December 2012.  Ages ago.  Pre-Fiona and during the best Fall racing season I ever had.  I look at my training log from 2012 with my mouth wide open.  I really did all that?

So, in no particular order, these are my scared, anxious, and doubtful concerns:

And now I have a kid
Yes, lots of people with children train and run marathons (i.e., most of my clients).  Totally doable.  I’m more worried about being tired all the time.  I’m already tired with regular training and running around after Fiona.  I don’t want to be a zombie.  Not really looking for a magic answer here other than suck it up.  Everyone does it.  And everyone is tired.  Right?

MAF training – the land of happy, low intensity
MAF training was awesome.  I build a solid base and got faster.  And before MAF training, I spent all of 2014 base building.  My base is built.  The foundation is solid.  But I’ve become very comfortable with low intensity training.  Other than a few half marathons last year, I’ve spent very little time in the pain cave.  I fear the pain cave.  (If I can think of any drawbacks to MAF training, this would be it.)

How should I go about this?
Obviously, I want to PR at the Via Marathon (September) or Monster Mash Marathon (October).  That’s the goal.  But without a recent half marathon time, I’m kinda lost on an exact goal time.  (My PR is 3:41.)

The only thing I figured out so far is how I want to approach marathon training.  I mentioned using a (modified) Pfitz plan but decided against it.  What I need is the exact opposite of what I have been doing.  No more base building.  Instead, it’s track work and tempos.  Every week.  Simple and uncomplicated (but tough).  It worked wonderfully for me in the past.  And I’m really hoping that layering in these speed workouts on top of a solid base brings me to that PR.  If nothing else, I’ll spend time in the pain cave and build some mental toughness.  Gulp.

Or maybe I should shut down all this thinking and analyzing and Just Do It?!

Fiona enjoys the track…with snacks, of course.




MAF Training Update (Part II)

I’m feeling rather giddy about yesterday’s MAF test.  (What MAF training is and why I’m doing it, see here.)

The last time I did a MAF test was in February.  It went OK – I didn’t think it was indicative of my progress but you get what you get on testing days.  Then I got sick, didn’t run for 2 weeks, etc., etc.  I spent the last 3 weeks getting back on track.  It was frustrating to say the least.  My HR monitor would beep incessantly.  I was running 10:00-10:30 average pace on most runs.  Then, last Monday, I had a really great run (9:32 average pace).  I waited a week (was it a fluke?!) and decided to do a MAF test yesterday.

MAF testing days always make me nervous.  You can have a good day or a bad day and it is what it is.  No redos (at least I don’t allow redos).  I generally run a 3-mile warm up at well below my MAF HR (~ 130), then run 4 to 5 miles at my MAF HR (143).

Baseline MAF test from November 30th (when I started MAF training).  Shown below are the MAF miles (purple) and their corresponding HR.

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Month 2+ MAF test from February 8th.  This was a blah run.  My stomach was rumbling (note the GI issues!) and I felt that my paces were faster on other runs.  There is definitely progress though.

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 6.22.30 AM

Month 4.5(ish) MAF test from April 13th.  I felt amazing yesterday and decided to add a 5th MAF mile.  I got so excited about seeing 8:xx pace that my HR was a smidge high for miles 4 and 5!

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 6.23.21 AM

I do take yesterday’s results with a (slight) grain of salt – it was a good run day.  Just like February 8th was a blah run day.  But you cannot deny the data!  MAF training – it works, folks!

I still have 6 more weeks of MAF training.  Unless I plateau…then I’ll stop MAF and start adding in speed work.  Part of me will be sad to set aside the HR monitor but I’m actually looking forward to moving my legs (fast) again!



Fall Plans

Once you put it out there on Facebook, you’re committed.

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Honestly, this makes me very excited.  My last marathon was before I got pregnant (December 2012) so I may as well get back at it.

I chose Lehigh Valley Marathon as a last ditch effort for Boston 2016.  I ran it in 2011 and BQ’d so the race means a lot to me.  It’s also a great course and a not-too-crowded one (although it has grown in popularity since 2011).  I’m not sure yet what time I’ll be going for (PR is 3:41).  With MAF training and missing out on the LOVE Run, I have no clue where my speed is right now.

Then there’s the Monster Mash Marathon in DE…5 weeks later.  This was a deferral from 2014.  If I can snag a PR/BQ at LVM, then maybe this will be a fun run.  If LVM goes bad, then maybe this will be a redemption run.

I’ve never done 2 marathons so closely together but I think this will be my new standard (well…we’ll see).  I love to run 2 marathons per year and generally do Spring and Fall but, after the winter we had and being sick, I don’t think I’d ever do another Spring marathon (outside of Boston, of course).

And then there’s the Philly Half Marathon…because I look forward to running it each year.

I’m taking the next 7 to 8 weeks to build my mileage back up to the 40 and 50s.  Slow, gradual, and strictly adhering to the 10% rule.  I’m still MAF training too.  My intention all along was to continue MAF though May and then add some speed work back in when I began marathon training.  Last week I hit 40 miles for the first time in over a month.  And on Monday, after 2 weeks of thinking I was back to square one with MAF training, I was finally hitting my pre-bronchitis MAF paces.  (And then I thought it was a fluke, but it wasn’t!)

I’m still mulling over how I want to train for these marathons.  I’m tossing around the idea of following Pfitzinger’s 55-70 mpw plan, with some modifications.  I find that I’m very bad at coaching myself after creating plans for clients all day.  It totally falls by the wayside. Pfitzinger’s plan is pretty much where I would want to go with my training this time around.  But we shall see :)







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.


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.


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 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!


Finally Here!

The last time I posted I was 37ish (?) weeks pregnant.  Little did I know that I would go to 41 weeks and 1 day before giving birth.  The wait was agonizing and there were frequent bouts of hysteria.  In the end, just like everyone said, it was well worth the wait.  

Fiona Catherine was born on 1/9/14 at 5:50AM.  An early riser, just like her mom and dad.


She’s 12 days old today and I’m finally getting the chance to sit down, gather my thoughts, and write a post about it.  It’s hard for me to adequately convey in words how life changing labor and delivery was (I seriously cannot stop thinking about it) and how blissfully happy I am getting pooped, peed, and spit up on.  I have discovered there is nothing in the world better than baby snuggles, the smell of her head, and how her tiny hand grasps my finger.  Matt and I are both smitten.


I feel obligated to share some of the birth story.  But since this is a running blog, I’ll spare you the gory details and instead give you the cliff notes version.

Since I was late and my OB didn’t want me going too much past 41 weeks, I was scheduled to be induced on Tuesday night (1/7).  The plan was to begin Cervidil overnight and then start Pitocin on Wednesday.  I wasn’t thrilled with the plan but I knew Fiona was not coming out on her own.  My big concern throughout pregnancy was the possibility of being induced, not progressing, and ending up with a C-section.  I know a C-section is always a possibility even if you go into labor on your own, but I’ve seen far too many friends go down the induction-not-progressing-C-section road.  I was terrified.

I was actually surprised to learn I was having “contractions” when I went to the hospital on Tuesday night.  I say “contractions” because I felt no pain whatsoever.  I remember the nurse saying she didn’t consider them contractions if I didn’t feel any pain.  I agreed with her although the doctor felt differently (note:  this OB was NOT from my practice).  The OB felt that since my “contractions” were 1-2 minutes apart, Cervidil would send me into abrupt labor and put the baby in distress.  It was best just to monitor me overnight and maybe I would progress on my own and we could start Pitocin on Wednesday morning.  I was still not dilated at all but Matt and I were hopeful with this news.  Even though my gut was telling me otherwise.

On Wednesday morning I met with an OB from my practice.  She was on call for the next 24 hours, thank god.  After hearing that my cervix was still thick, hard, and uninducible (her words), I pretty much lost it.  This was the exact opposite of what the doctor told me on Tuesday night.  She also said Cervidil would not be effective enough for me and suggested we start Cytotec instead.  Matt and I knew a little bit about Cytotec and had reservations – it’s a nasty drug – but talked with the doctor and decided we really had no other choice.  My cervix needed to be prepped for Pitocin and my OB felt that Cytotec would do the job.  I was still not dilated.

The next 12 hours were pretty much uneventful.  I was still having “contractions” but felt no pain and was still not dilated.  I was beginning to think the baby would never come out without a C-section.  In fact, around 6PM on Wednesday night, my OB came in to check on me and I was all prepared with an argument for a C-section.  I didn’t want another dose of Cytotec.  I had been at the hospital for 12 hours at this point and was still at square one.  During the check I had dilated to 1/2 a centimeter and my OB went ahead and broke my water.  There was no mention of breaking my water, she just went ahead and did it.  She also told me to give her 12 hours and she would have the baby out.  I never got my chance to argue for the C-section.

After that my “contractions” were no longer painless.  My pain level was about a 5 but I could still walk around and talk with Matt.  The contractions were still 1-2 minutes apart.  Around 9PM they started the Pitocin.  I was terrified of the impending pain since my contractions were so close, I hardly got a break from the pain.  Let’s just say that Pitocin is no joke.  Before I knew it, my pain level was a 10 and I was shaking and nauseous.  I have never experienced any pain like this before.  I would oscillate between sitting on a medicine ball and standing.  All I could do was look forward to the brief, pain-free moments between contractions.

I immediately asked for the epidural.  I was only 1 cm dilated at this point (typically too soon for an epidural) but my OB agreed to it since my contractions were so close and my pain level was so high.  Ahh, the epidural!  How can I convey in words how wonderful it was?!  I was a completely different person afterward and it allowed us to get some sleep and let the Pitocin do its job.

Around 3AM I started to get nauseous, shake, and vomit.  I repeated a cycle of shake-vomit-sleep about 6 times.  I think it was due to the epidural but the nurse said it was due to pain (even though I felt no pain).  But the good news was I was progressing fast and furious!  I was about 8 cm dilated.  This was the best news I could have ever heard.

Around 4:40AM I began pushing.  This is the part that was life changing.  It was like an out of body experience – like the last 6.2 miles of a marathon.  Your mind is sharp but your body is tired.  I was exhausted and kept falling asleep between pushes.  I felt no pain, just some pressure.  I kept thinking give 110% every time you push and it’ll go faster.  Kinda like the faster you run, the faster you get done.  Even though Matt and the nurse were right there with me, encouraging me every step, I felt like it was just me in that room…on a mission.

One hour and 10 minutes later, I pushed 4 last times and the baby came out with a small cry.  The feeling of her exiting my body is something I will never forget.  I heard my OB say it’s a girl which confirmed what Matt and I instinctively knew for the past 10 months.  And my OB made good on her promise – Fiona was born just shy of 12 hours after my water was broken.  She was perfect – 10 fingers and 10 toes – and all ours…finally!





PS – To answer a burning question that I was always curious about:  which is more painful – racing a marathon or labor?  Labor, hands down.  No comparison there!


pregnancy confessions

I’m just shy of the 6 month mark and time is moving fast but not fast enough, if that makes sense.  Once I hit 20 weeks, time seemed to sloooow down.  I’m hoping for a very fast Fall.

I’m grateful to still be feeling fine – other than feeling large (I’ll get to that later).  But I do have some confessions…

I’m not sad to see the summer go
So long to BBQs, shore trips, and (not) drinking on the deck.  Do I sound a bit bitter?  I am.  I really missed drinking this summer.  Before you peg me as a binge drinker, let me explain.  There is nothing quite like an ice cold beer over the summer.  On the deck and down the shore.  After a long run.  Especially after a long run.  I had no idea how much I would miss it.  I think a lot of it has to do with being pregnant over the summer.  I probably would not have minded as much over the winter (uh, maybe).  And thankfully I’m not into anything pumpkin so my bitterness will not extend into the Fall with the arrival of pumpkin-flavored beers.

I did not miss training for a marathon over the summer
This shocked me.  I love long, sweaty 20-milers during the summer (see why the ice cold beer comes in handy?).  Again, I thought it would be bitter city seeing everyone train for their Fall marathon.  Not at all.  Guess it shows how much of a mental break I needed from training.  I’m so happy with where my running is right now; I’m perfectly happy with 10-13 mile long runs.  And I know that, come 2014, I’ll be fresh and raring to go again.

The weight gain is tough
Obviously this is something you know is inevitable but it’s still mind blowing.  When I walk by a store window, I don’t recognize myself.  I’m up 14 lbs, which I assume is normal (reading about “normal” weight gain would drive me more insane…so I don’t).  This is the most I have ever weighed and some days it’s hard.  To grow so rapidly out of your pre-pregnancy clothes (seriously, one week they fit and the next they don’t) and to have T-shirts be snug?!  T-shirts?!?!  Thank god for maternity clothes (also thought I would never say that).  I can’t believe I resisted them for so long.

IMG_156923 weeks, 5 days…and feeling large.

I’ll be waddling my way through the Philly Rock n’ Roll Half next Sunday.  I’m feeling pretty good about it.  Excited too.  This is always a balls-to-the-wall race for me so it’ll be nice to enjoy myself.  I’m guaranteeing a PW (that would be anything over a 2:16 – my first HM finish time!).  I plan on walking through the aid stations and running very slow.  This may be my last distance race until after the baby is born.  We’ll see ;)

Any of your own pregnancy confessions to share?
Running the Philly RnR Half?

Be Your Own Coach

Most of my running clients are half marathoners and marathoners.  Some are first timers and some have a few races under their belts and are looking to improve their time.

When they first contact me, they complete a questionnaire where I ask them all sorts of questions.  I call this “getting to know them more as a runner”.  It’s so important that I gather as much information as possible so that I can properly develop a plan for their goal race.

When I begin to lay out a training plan and begin to work with my clients I always keep the following in mind…

Plan, plan, plan
I always tentatively plan the long runs first.  I say tentatively since my training plans are highly adaptive and, in general, I only plan 3 weeks of training at a time.  I would be weary of a coach that hands you a 16-week training plan at once (unless you asked for it).

Long runs are the bread and butter of any endurance training plan.  I take into account tune-up races, drop back weeks, vacations, and any other things I may need to work around.  It’s easier to manipulate the long runs later on if you pencil them in for the entire training plan.

Keep your eye on the prize
Speaking of tune-up races, I ask my marathon clients to keep racing to a minimum during marathon training.  I generally allow 1 HM and they either race it or use it as a marathon-paced training run.  Either way, it’s a great confidence booster for race day.

For chronic racers, marathon training can get a bit boring.  Long runs are the priority and racing has to take a backseat temporarily.

The more you run, the better you get at it
I have my clients run as much as they can.  What constitutes high mileage is unique to each runner.  Thirty miles can be enough for some while 70 is enough for others.  I like to have enough time during marathon training to do adequate base building…slow and gradual increases in overall mileage and long run distance.  This increase in aerobic capacity will not only make you faster but will lay a solid foundation for marathon or HM-specific speed work.

There’s a time and place for speed work
Many clients want to jump right into speed work thinking it is the only thing that will make them faster.  Speed work will make you faster…to an extent.  Over time, without proper increases in aerobic capacity, your speed will plateau.  As I said above, the right time for speed work is after we have a solid foundation of base mileage.  Your body is stronger and can handle the increased stress of speed work.

When clients begin training for a HM or marathon after a period of low mileage, I begin with so-called “pre-training” to base build.  After an adequate base is established, then we can layer on the speed work.  I sometimes use strides and hill repeats during the base building phase just to break up the monotony of all those slow miles and to help with leg turnover.

That’s just a few of my basic principles I follow when coaching.  To find out more, hire me as your coach! Winking smile

expo fun and st. pat’s

On Wednesday, I – well, RTLR Coaching – was a vendor at a local health and fitness expo.  This was my first vendor gig and I was pretty pumped about it.  It didn’t draw a large crowd – definitely not race expo size – but it was big enough for me to connect with local runners and other local vendors in my area.

Each vendor was provided with a 6’ table and was told to “make it look nice”.  When you’re a running coach, what are you supposed to put on said table?  It’s not like I’m selling merchandise or demonstrating anything.  Instead, I made a nice alternating arrangement of business cards and trifold brochures I created.  It took me a whole 5 minutes to set up my table.


Let’s talk about the last minute homemade sign.  On Monday night Matt asked me if I had a banner or anything to hang on the table, identifying myself.  Um, no.  Didn’t even think of that.  Ensue frantic shopping trip to Michael’s to stock up on crafty items.  The result is a homemade sign that screams newbie.


Another lesson learned?  In addition to ordering a banner, get a T-shirt made.  When in doubt, throw on the Boston jacket!

All in all, I got to talk about running for 3 hours, which is always a good night.  Hopefully I got some new clients too!

St. Patty’s Day
One of the best times of the year!  Another reason to drink beer and (college) basketball!

I wasn’t sure how long I was going to run yesterday but in the spirit of SPD, I decided to make it a 17-miler.  Turns out, yesterday morning was the best time to be out and about…drinking green beer.

Because the afternoon was miserable.


But not too cold for beer.


It seems the Luck of the Irish was plentiful this weekend at the races!  I’ve seen numerous mentions of PRs on Twitter.  I can’t wait to read the race recaps.

If you raced this weekend, brag about it!  If you didn’t, brag about how much beer you drank or something else. 

I had a strange urge to run a 5K this morning – that never happens – but decided on 9 recovery miles instead. 

happenings and training

This is the longest stretch I ever went without blogging.  Every time I sat down to write a post over the past 2 weeks, I ended up just deleting it.  Quasi-training doesn’t lead to the most fascinating posts.  Some people can make the mundane sound interesting.  I’m not one of them.

Quasi-training is going really well though.  For right now, it’s just what I need.  I have no interest in racing a marathon this Spring.  Running a 50K or a trail marathon?  Maybe.  But I enjoy being noncommittal at the moment.

I’ve fallen into a pattern with training.  3 weeks of 40-50 miles and then a big drop back week.  That’s good enough to maintain my base until I decide to be committal again.

Wk of 2/4:  40 miles with 13 miles long
Wk of 2/11: 43 miles with 17 miles long
Wk of 2/18: 46 miles with 20 miles long (first 20 of 2013!)
Wk of 2/25: 30 miles with 10 miles long

Besides running, we celebrated a very important birthday.


And I laughed till I cried, drank too much, and chatted until 3AM with these ladies.

5 of 8 Mains

All is good.