I started distance running in 2008 when one of my BFFs talked me into running the Greenville Spinx Half Marathon. After that race (and learning what it meant to be sub-2), I was hooked and promptly signed up for my first marathon which was the B&A Marathon in March 2009. I’ve now racked up a total of 13 marathons over the last 10 years, the most recent having been the epic bad weather Boston Marathon. Needless to say over the course of 13 marathons, I’ve come up with a list of things I’d tell my younger running self. Continue reading
There’s no shortage of heroic stories for the finishers of the 2018 Boston Marathon, one of the worst weather Boston Marathons in the history of the race. Finishing this race was a victory in and of itself, and it took every ounce of my being, grit, and willpower to not quit. This was my second Boston and my 13th marathon. Here’s how I didn’t quit the 2018 Boston Marathon. Continue reading
I first started training for the 2018 Boston Marathon the day I finished it in 2015, and more officially in December 2017. I (over)confidently decided to use the same ASICS sub-3:30 plan that had worked for me at Chicago. I’ve never trained the same way twice and despite my intentions to followthe same plan, it did not go according to plan. It’s tempting to blame the weather, but I really can’t. I have the gear and although this winter did truly suck, I rarely missed a run because of it and there are runners who had far worse winters than me so I’ll just park that excuse over there and move on to how training really unfolded for my 13th Marathon.
Back in December I looked at the 16-week plan and felt like if I spent the first four weeks rebuilding my base, I’d be right on track to really dive in for 12 weeks of solid training. And that sort of worked. But it was cold, and icy, and dark. So I took the 5 days a week down to 4 and decided to – for real this time – add in strength and cross-training.
Enter yoga. In October 2017, I started tagging along with a yogi runner friend (who now teaches!) to some classes at YogaWorks. Fortunately, I got hooked. I decided yoga is the ying to my running yang and is the thing I’ve been missing in all my running. I started to feel stronger. I discovered a new appreciation for stretching and strength training simply using my own
body weight as the core weight. My new obsession with yoga meant that I was trying to add it in 1-2 times a week. This worked pretty well most of Jan
uary and February. And then March hit with work events, changes in our family logistics, longer runs, weekend commitments, and yoga started to take a back seat. The good news is, I think about it all the time and I continue to practice the headstand which is something I hope to really master and evolve by the end of this year. And I’m definitely looking forward to bringing it back into my routine with some consistency.
This round of training I can safely say I had a training-life-work balance. I gave myself the flexibility to move runs around within the week, change up mileage, and accept the outcomes for what they were. In the moment, this felt like a good balance. Two weeks before the race, I’m just shy of panicking that I did it all wrong. I didn’t feel stressed in the moments of training, but I also didn’t feel “all in” all the time. I was proud of myself for working in yoga and rides on my bike trainer. I did speedwork, sort of, usually on Tuesdays. I kind of had some tempo runs but not nearly at the paces I had last summer. I did the long runs: one 20, one 21, one 18, and several in the 15-17 range. The good news is that with the exception of one 17-miler, I felt really good on these long runs. My fueling is good (something I learned and practiced 3 marathons ago thanks to training from Coach Scott) and once I get past the mental barriers that are inevitable in most long runs, my mental game is also pretty strong.
The caveat there is that my mental game is strong while running. For reasons I cannot put my finger on, this training cycle is missing my obsession. It’s the BOSTON MARATHON. I am beyond lucky to have the opportunity to run this race for the second time. I qualified for it, well within my age group’s BQ window, and I even earned myself a 2019 BQ in the process. I know in my heart I will love everything about this experience once it is under way. And yet, I’ve struggled to truly embrace it. I spend more time trying to figure that out then I do focusing on all the things I could be around training. Deep sigh. Perhaps, it’s kind of like any run – they’re all different and they certainly aren’t all perfect.
From Training to Race Day
After 16 weeks of marathon training, I will follow a pretty consistent taper and prep plan. I will have multiple gear options, I’ll have all my Gu ready, I will have obsessed over the weather (that is something I’ll always obsess over), I’ll have studied the course, and the one thing I will have over-thought is Heartbreak Hill and if I’ve done enough in my balanced training to actually be ready for that climb. I still have a lot of questions coming out of this training plan.
I’ll only know the answers on race day.
Author’s Note: This marathon recap was started in Oct. 2017 and finished in Jan. 2018 which is amazing because the experience of the race still feels like yesterday.
The 2017 Chicago Marathon was marathon #12 for me. I’ve not trained for any marathon the same way twice but I have combined the best parts of my past experiences and having just achieved my best personal record yet, I may be a tad closer to a formula for marathon success. From my first marathon eight years ago with a 4:11 finish to my Chicago finish in 3:29, there are a lot of little things that add up to successful marathons. But there are two constants – one is all mental, the other is putting in the work.
There are three weeks left until the Chicago Marathon which means it’s almost taper time and my mind is starting to get restless. With 4 weeks to go, I did my last 20-miler and in the week leading up to it was feeling ready to be “done,” ready to taper, let’s get to the race already! I was physically tired but that last 20-miler hit the spot. After that run, I felt physically and mentally ready. And then a funny thing happened. I looked at the remaining three weeks of training — it’s really only one more solid week of hard runs and two weeks of taper — and all of a sudden my mind goes wild. One 16-miler, one 10-miler, and then it’s race day! It’s a feeling of not quite panic, excitement, and an immediate unsettled feeling of what will come next. Continue reading
My last post was a marathon recap and it’s crazy how much has happened in the course of 5 months from one marathon to the next, including a Presidential election. Perhaps I’m choosing to write tonight as a distraction from what’s happening to the fate of the future of our country. I’m much happier reflecting on my new PR just two days ago at the TCS NYC Marathon. Long story short, I finished the NYC marathon in 3:33:31, a time that crushed my previous PR from 2013 by 2:11. AND it earns me a 2018 BQ by a 7 minute margin! While I am still riding this runner’s high, possibly one of the things that makes this PR so sweet is that it’s not even what I set out to do. I set out to run smart, to run a specific race strategy; I set out to run through pain, to run with everything I had in me. I set out to finish hard. As it turns out, the combination of these things resulted in an incredibly rewarding race and new PR. Continue reading
Recapping the Buffalo Marathon feels like almost a bigger undertaking than the 26.2 miles themselves. I’ve written plenty of race recaps yet this one has SO many factors to it, starting with the fact that it was the culmination of my first six months of working with a professional coach. Those six months of training were a mix of things and in my mind were all building me up to my best marathon performance yet. Spoiler alert: it was not my best and I’m ok with it.
It takes a while to get used to running year round and to figure out all the various iterations of layering needed for different cold temperatures and winter elements. I follow plenty of athletes who run in much colder climates than Maryland so in general I’m not sure I have room to complain, or give advice for that matter. That said, my last long run was in 8 degrees with the wind chill factor. I’ve been running year round with the exception of days where it seems dangerous (i.e., icy routes) or when there’s more rain than I’m willing to bear.
My general goal of any year is to hit 1000 miles in the year, and when I took a peek to write my 2015 running year in review I was at 1,226.5 miles, not too shabby! I also had a period of sadly being locked out of my blog so I missed getting in some race recaps and various training insights and epiphanies. In addition to having some fast races to close out the year, perhaps the most significant moment of this year was my decision to hire a coach. We started Dec. 1 and the next six months of running are all about working Coach’s plan. But before we look ahead, some running moments of this year.
After 14 weeks of FIRST training, marathon day arrived, and to skip ahead, the quality training plan paid off. Technically the FIRST plan is 16 weeks but I was coming into it after already having had a solid base and by the time I was ready to start marathon training, I had 14 weeks until race day. Continue reading