Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve Run

First, Merry Christmas Eve!

Okay, now for the running. I think it's all the years of having swim practice on every holiday imaginable, but I always find running on holidays to be extra special. After running some last minute errands this morning, my dad and I took the pup to the trail for an easy 3 mile run. The weather was nothing special but it was so nice to get out for a run to kick off the Christmas festivities.

I have been enjoying not wearing a watch while running for the past few weeks, mostly since my watch died. I decided to take until the end of the year to run naked and not worry about pace or distance. I normally run the same routes so I pretty much always know how far I've run but it's nice to get back to the basics and just enjoy the run.

It's also been nice to run without stressing about finals. I love waking up and going for a run whenever I want and not having to worry that I should be studying or working on a paper.

And now I'm off to get ready for our big Christmas Eve dinner. I was supposed to go to my boyfriend's uncle's house but he (boyfriend) is pretty sick so I'm staying home with my family for the day.

The forecast is calling for some snow tonight so I'm hoping to wake up to a white Christmas. Fingers crossed!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Running in 2012

This questionnaire has been circulating the blogosphere and I thought it would be a fun way to look back and pay tribute  to my running in 2012

1. Best race experience: Hands down the Baltimore Half Marathon. I have never enjoyed myself so much during a race. It was the first time I actually felt like a runner and the first time I really raced a half marathon. I had no expectations going into this race and surprised myself with another PR. This is also my favorite race to do, period, and I will probably do it every single year.

2. Best run: Off the top of my head I would have to say the 10 miler I ran during my taper for the NYCM/Harrisburg Marathon. I ran it and my dad biked along side me. We talked the entire time and a pace that used to be fast for me suddenly felt easy. Another memorable run was my run in Central Park the day that the marathon was supposed to be held. That run made me fall in love with running and realize how amazing runners are. It also solidified my love for all things New York City.

3. Best new piece of gear: Probably the Oiselle Lesley Knicker. I have been looking for a pair of running capris since last year and haven't found any I like until these. I wore them for a hard run last weekend and didn't have to adjust them once. My road bike is also a contender but since it is a Christmas gift I'm not allowed to ride it until after Christmas. We'll call this 2013's best piece of new gear.

4. Best piece of running advice you received: I can't think of any thing in particular but everything that Robert said to me during those last 6 miles of the Harrisburg Marathon motivated me enough to run to the finish. My old swim coach use to say "do the little things right" and I think that apples to every aspect of life, not just swimming.

5. Most inspirational runner(s): Not to come off as some crazy blog stalker but I have never met her in real life.. Page. Not only is she a badass runner, she made the leap from runner to triathlete in one year by signing up for an Ironman. When injury forced her to withdraw from the race she stayed (mostly) positive and vowed to finish her journey to becoming an Ironman in 2013.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It's That Time of Year Again

Yes, it is the ever delightful Christmas season but if you are a college student you are probably either nearing or have already started taking finals. If you take a look around the UMBC campus you will see students cramming at the library and pretty much every other place that has a desk or place to sit. People are dressing a little sloppier and parties are almost unheard of at this point. And the thing is, finals week hasn't even started yet! Today is a study day meaning there are no classes or exams so that students can catch up on work and get a head start on studying. Then finals start on Thursday and continue through next Wednesday. Luckily for me I only have one real final, and then a presentation and two papers. I get to go home on Friday and finish up my work from home while fully immersed in Christmas celebration while the majority of students are still furiously studying.

Despite my early departure from school I am still stressing out like any other student. I have already had 2 tests and a presentation this week and still have another presentation and my only final. I am not a presentation person so having two in one week has my anxiety level through the roof. I am trying to keep everything in perspective and only focus on the more immediate work. Instead of trying to rush through everything so that I can hopefully accomplish more I am taking my time to make sure that I fully understand as much as I can. I would rather have a really strong grasp on 80% on my material than a poor understanding on all of the material.

So true!

And despite some really exciting things in the works on the running/triathlon front (more on that later) I am not worrying about either this week. I know people constantly say that it is important to hit the gym for a sweat session to keep the brain juices flowing but worrying about fitting in runs just seems to stress me out even more. I will run when I have time and feel comfortable taking a break from studying. Since I am not currently training for anything I am trying to focus on the parts of my life that are most important- like school. And with Christmas right around the corner I am anxious to get home and spend some quality time with my family and friends that I haven't seen since the summer.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

My Fitness Christmas List

The holiday season is in full swing everywhere you look. I know Christmas is not about presents but I decided to put together the things that made my wish list this year. My birthday is the week after Christmas (December 31) so this is actually my Christmas/birthday list. Hint hint, Mom ;)

1. Bike

So this is the one thing on this list that I am 100% sure I will be getting this holiday season. I have already picked out and purchased this beautiful bike and can't wait to spend some quality time with it over my six week holiday break. This is also the one thing on this list that I have been lusting for practically the entire year. Money well spent.

2. Believe I Am journal

The Believe I am journal is also something that I am dying to try. My twitter feed is constantly blown up by fellow runners who are crediting this journal with their best training cycles yet. I know that a journal will not magically make me faster but as someone who is studying sports psychology in school I can't wait to see how the journal works.

3. Oiselle runfinity scarf

Scarves are probably my favorite accessory. I wear a scarf practically everyday in the fall & winter whether I am in class all day or just relaxing in my apartment. Infinity scarves are my favorite are I have been obsessed with this light teal color for months. I also really like how the scarf has hidden start and finish lines.

4. Arm warmers

Originally I thought the concept of arm warmers was silly but now I that I can see how practical they are I really want a pair. There have been so many times in the past few months that I have been too cold or too hot and thought arm warmers would remedy the situation. I found a pair that I really liked back in September but they were way too long for my arms. And the ones sold at the NYCM expo were too thick. I tend to get unusually warm when I run so I want a pair of arm warmers that is comfy, soft, and not too thick.

5. Running tights

I have also been on a quest for the perfect pair of tights or capris for months now. I recently ordered a pair of the Oiselle Lesley Knicker but they are for Christmas so I haven't been able to try them out yet. I am very picky when it comes to running tights so hopefully these will do the trick.

6. Yoga mat

Over the summer I got really into yoga, going twice a week every week. I love how yoga enables to me quiet my mind, relax, and focus on being in the present. I am currently using an old mat I bought back in high school to use during dryland at swim practice. The mat is worn out and very slippery. I don't have any mat in particular picked out but my only requirements are not slippery and cute.

7. As the Crow Flies

Craig Alexander is a triathlon legend. He won the 70.3 and full Ironman world championships in the same year while breaking the Kona course record. I bought Chrissie Wellington's book when it came out last year and absolutely loved it. I have always been a fan of Crowie and have heard really great things about the book. I'm not sure if it's available for order yet but you can sure I will be buying it soon.

8. BlueSeventy Vision

While I don't love the look of these goggles I love how functional they are. I have been swimming in the Speedo Women's Vanquisher goggles since I was something like twelve years old, and while I love them for pool swimming they aren't cutting it in the open water. These goggles are designed specifically for the open water and make it easier to see in the early morning with the sun beaming in your eyes.

What are you lusting over this holiday season?!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Getting Back in Shape

This morning I did my first P90X workout. I only had time to do ab ripper but I could tell from just one workout that I'm going to really like this program. I don't plan on following the program for 90 days but instead I want to use it as a supplement to my off-season running. I love the feeling you get after during strength workouts but I hate going to the gym at my school. Plus it will be really easy for me to just pop in the video and not have to drive anywhere.

I was really surprised this morning with how out of shape I have gotten since high school when I was swimming. It makes sense that going from training for 18 hours a week to less than 10 will decrease your fitness but it really hit me today. I used to be known for being really fit and a good swimmer. Once I quit swimming I feel like I lost my identity. My upper body & core especially were strong. Since I've started running my legs have become much stronger than ever before but still my overall fitness level is not where I want it to be.

Well I want to do something about that. I want to feel strong and fit again. I want to be happy with my body & proud of it. I don't start training for my spring half marathon until the middle of January so I am going to use this time to whip my butt back into shape. After taking a few weeks off to recover from the Harrisburg Marathon I am really antsy to start working out again. My plan is to run at least 3 days a week and do some form of strength training 3 days a week.

I want to ring in 2012 & kick off 2013 healthy & happy!

Friday, November 30, 2012

My New Baby

Over the summer I trained for my first triathlon and have been hooked ever since. I grew up as a swimmer and can easily finish a tri swim towards the front of the pack with minimal training. I have been taking my running to the next level by training for a marathon and taking 20 minutes off my half marathon PR. The thing that I really need to work on is the biking portion.

After I quit swimming I knew I wanted to get into triathlons but I wasn't sure how much I would like them or how long I would stick with it. I didn't have a bike so I bought a hybrid bike that I could use pretty much anyway I wanted. I completely two triathlons on my hybrid and after a super hilly course I decided I was ready to dive head first into the world of triathlon by purchasing a bike.

I wasn't sure what type of bike I wanted to get, all I knew is that I wanted something faster than my clunky hybrid. After a few months a looking here and there I found a shop about 35 minutes away that seemed like the perfect fit. They offered a fit where you ride a completely adjustable bike and based off of your measurements and comfort choice they can tell you what bikes would be a good fit. While this may not be necessary to people who have more experience with bikes I found this to be helpful beyond words.

I went last weekend for my fit and was suggested the Cannondale Synapse, Cannondale CAAD 10, and the Scott CR1 Team. We discussed the different bikes and ultimately decided on the Scott bike. I decided not to purchase the bike then, though, because I wanted to do a little research on my own before I dropped a good chunk of change on the bike.

Ultimately I decided to get the Scott bike and went back this morning for my final fit and to pick up the bike. I am completely giddy over this bike and every time I look at it I can't help but smile with excitement. I know I made the right choice and can't wait to train with it this summer. It's hard to see in the picture but the bike is black with sliver/gray writing and purple details. I think it's perfect!

I just need to think of a name. Any ideas?!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Off Season Running

This morning I went for my first real run post marathon and boy did it hurt. Not even 2 miles in my legs were already tired and reminding me I ran a marathon 2.5 weeks ago. I wasn't expecting to feel this way after taking 2 weeks completely off with the exception of last week's turkey trot. I am glad that I have a good chunk of time to fully recover before I jump back into training.

It was supposed to rain this morning with temps in the upper 30's. I like running in the fall/winter despite icky weather because I get to wear clothes that I haven't worn since last winter. Lame, I know. Anyway, I dressed warm this morning wearing long tights and a short sleeve shirt with a rain jacket overtop. I completed my first cold weather running morning with a fleece headband and gloves.

The only problem was that it ended up not raining until the last 15 minutes of the run. I was cold when I started, quickly warmed up & then got really cold again towards the end. Despite the back & forth weather and how grumpy my legs were it was still such an enjoyable run. I ran without my Garmin and just focused on being in the moment and not worrying about silly numbers.

I think I'm going to take a cue from Jess and skip the watch until training starts up again. I like not having any pressure to run a certain speed or distance. And hopefully when I start training for the Nike Women's Half Marathon in April I will feel completely refreshed, rested and ready to train my butt off.

Monday, November 26, 2012

What I Learned from My First Marathon: The Race

I decided to split my typical "what I learned" post into two parts since my first marathon was such a big deal to me. Training and the actual race were two different beasts so I wanted to treat the post as such. If you missed what I learned from training for my first marathon you can read it here. Now onto what I learned from the race

1. If possible, have your spectator carry extras of everything
I was lucky enough to see my parents multiple times during the Harrisburg Marathon. I took the idea from the Ironman to have a special needs bag filled with stuff just in case I needed it. In the bag was extra GU & Shot Bloks, socks, bodyglide, chapstick, hair ties and other stuff that I am forgetting. At first I thought the idea was stupid but when my Shot Bloks fell out of my pocket at mile 5 and I didn't have any extra with me I was so glad I had extra in that bag. I saw my parents around mile 8 and never ran into any fueling issues.

2. Run your own race no matter what
I started the race with the 4:45 pace group because I didn't know where else to start. For the first 10 miles I stuck with the group despite that the pace didn't feel as easy as it should have. I knew I should have slowed down but I liked the idea of running a 4:45 and so I clung onto the group for as along as possible. Miles 10-20 were absolutely miserable because I was already feeling pretty crappy. Lesson learned. Pay attention to your body and don't get caught up in what others are doing.

3. You are always more capable than you think
I felt so crappy during miles 17-20 that I walked almost all of them. I was going to walk the last six miles too had Robert not come to the rescue. I ran the last six miles only stopping at water stations and felt pretty damn good for the last six miles of a marathon. I was amazed with myself the entire time. I had all but given up and then ended up passing everyone in sight and cruising to the finish. The mental aspect of racing and training has repeatedly proven to be my downfall.

4. Make friends with the people around you. 26.2 miles is a long time to get to know people
When I was running with the 4:45 pace group I was constantly talking to the others about what races were their favorites where they were from, what their goals were, etc. Despite how bad I felt it really made the time go by quicker. And those last 6 miles with Robert, they were something I never thought possible. I was in a lot of pain but we kept chatting and stopped paying attention to the fact that we were running a marathon. We talked about everything and just enjoyed being out there. And in the (delayed) spirit of Thanksgiving, I am incredibly grateful to Robert for taking me under his wing and helping me as much as he did.

5. 26.2 miles is a long time, period
The thing about the marathon is you can experience just about every emotion possible throughout the course of the race. Just because you are feeling great now doesn't mean you won't feel crappy later and vice versa. I learned the hard way that you can't dwell on things. No matter how bad you feel you will also feel better for times. Those hard mental times make it really easy to give up and throw in the towel but it is so important to just ride out the storm.

6. Running a marathon is 90% mental
Honestly, when I woke up the morning of the race I wasn't mentally into it. I didn't want to race that day and from the minute I crossed the starting line my legs felt heavy and slow. I was upset about not running New York and just couldn't get excited for this race. My attitude was bad and only got worse. Running a marathon is not something to be taken lightly. If you are not excited for it it will show in your performance.

Friday, November 23, 2012

York YMCA Turkey Trot 5K 2012 Race Recap

The York YMCA Turkey Trot is one of my all time favorite races. I run in almost every year and always have a blast. This year my mom and dad, my boyfriend and I all ran it. The race is only a few miles from our house so we were able to sleep in a bit and ended up getting there around 8:15. I was hoping to run Tuesday or Wednesday but I just didn't want to so this was the first time I ran since the Harrisburg Marathon. I was a little nervous about how my legs would feel and contemplated doing a short warm up but never got around to it. Even though it is a "small local race" there were over 4,000 runners. Pretty impressive for York, Pa!

The race started a few minutes late but before we knew it we were off and running. My boyfriend decided to stick with me for the first mile but I could tell he wanted to run faster. I tried to keep up with him but my lungs didn't really want to. I really struggled to fall into a groove during the first mile and was getting frustrated. A little after the first mile my boyfriend decided to run ahead of me so I could do my own thing. I loved that he ran with me but I'm glad I didn't hold him back the entire time. During a nice downhill I started to find my rhythm. My chest was really burning and I was having trouble breathing but my legs felt pretty good. Definitely couldn't tell I ran a marathon a week and half before.

The last half of the race was much better than the first. I started to pick up the pace and finally felt comfortable in my stride. The course was new due to the increase in runners and I was really loving the rolling hills. I love flying on the downhills! The end of the race snuck up on me and before I knew it it was time to sprint to the finish. I felt great the last half mile and was reminded why I love running. As soon as I crossed the finish line and stopped running I felt like I was going to get sick though. This seems to be a common occurrence after 5K's. After grabbing some water I went to find my boyfriend and my parents. Everyone had a great race!

Mom- 27:47
Dad- 28:07
Boyfriend- 23:30
Me- 25:41

This was my mom's first ever running race and she has been been training for months. She had a botched knee surgery 9 years ago and started to run in the spring. It took her awhile to build up to running a 5K but she did great. My dad just had hernia surgery 2 months ago and this was his first time running since the summer. Both did awesome! My boyfriend didn't do a best time but would have had he not run with me for the first mile. He is the best! I'm really happy with my time. I didn't care too much about my time but a PR is always nice.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What I Learned from My First Marathon: Training

When I signed up to run the ING New York City Marathon back in March I really didn't know what I was getting myself into. I was intrigued by the marathon and wanted to give it my best shot. I pictured myself doing all the things that I thought marathons did, like ice baths, foam rolling, compression socks. I thought if I acted the part then I would be a real marathoner. The problem is, nothing ever goes according to plan. Even after finishing the Harrisburg Marathon I still don't feel like a marathoner. I don't even feel comfortable calling myself a runner yet. Despite all this, I learned more than I could have ever imagined. I think it is important to write down these things so I don't forget them the next time around, and hopefully they provide some help to others. So here we go.

1. Long runs will end up consuming the entire day
I lucked out in that I could do my long runs on Friday since I didn't have class and then have the rest of the weekend to do weekend things. The trail that I did my long runs at was anywhere from 30-45 minutes away depending on traffic so that added 60-90 minutes to the whole trip total. The actual runs lasted anywhere from 2-4 hours depending on how long I was running plus a few minutes here and there for switching out my water bottles. I would have to wake up early in order to eat breakfast in plenty of time. Then after the run I often would take a nap because I was tired. My day would start at 6:00 and I wouldn't be back to the apartment until 1:00. This ended up working out for me since I had no Friday classes but it sure took up the entire day.

2. Expect setbacks during training
The month of September was pretty rough for me. Instead of really pushing myself and getting into the heart of training I had to take a week off from running to rehab a strained quad muscle. Even before that week I had backed off of training quite a bit to try to relieve some of the pain. Then I had to ease back into training. I didn't really plan for anything to go wrong and so the rest of my training was messed up. I did the best I could for the rest of training but that setback really messed some things up. I am now allowing for setbacks in my training so that if something does go wrong it won't greatly affect my race.

3. A running partner is a wonderful luxury
I did almost all of my training by myself and I was fine with it most of the time. I truly like running by myself so I really didn't mind it. It was the long runs that really got to me. I was constantly doubting myself and I often cut runs short because I thought I was doing terribly. For my last three long runs I asked my dad my bike alongside with me to keep me company. What a difference. The time flew by and I knew I couldn't bail out early. I still don't have anyone to run with though (hint, hint anyone who lives in Baltimore County).

4. Long runs are invaluable to training
Due to my minor injury in September I got behind on my long runs. I did two 14 milers, a 15 miler, a 16 miler and a 20 miler. Next time I want to do a lot more long runs to get more comfortable running for longer distances. While my training did get me across the finish line in under 5 hours I know I can make significant improvements with more endurance training. I also think it's important to do some longer runs during the week to held build endurance. My brain hasn't quite caught up to my body so I kept thinking 7-8 miles was too much plus a long run but when I did try it I did absolutely great.

5. Bad runs are just a part of the program
At the end of the summer I wrote a post about how I had been having some really great training runs. I most likely jinxed myself because I had a whole slew of bad runs throughout September. Bad runs are annoying but they will always happen.

6. Strength training and other forms of cross training will help keep you healthy and happy
When I first started marathon training I was also training for a triathlon. I ran 3-4 times a week, biked twice, swam once, did yoga 1-2 times and did strength work 2 times a week. I saw great improvement in every area and I felt great. Once school started and I was pretty much only running I strained a muscle in my quad. I don't think that was a coincident. I put so much importance of the actual running that I neglected to do anything else. Not again.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Planning Ahead: Spring 2013

As sad as I get when a training cycle comes to an end, I am even more excited about what will be coming next. After I finished the Harrisburg Marathon I found myself with no races on my calendar except for the Thanksgiving turkey trot I'm running. With the cancellation of this year's NYC Marathon there is a good chance I will receive guaranteed entry into next year's race but that is just speculation as of now.

I tossed back & forth the idea of running the Pittsburgh Marathon in the beginning of May but wasn't sure if running another marathon so soon was a good idea. Regardless of whether I run the NYC Marathon next year or not, I still want to run a fall marathon and I worried that 3 marathons in 12 months wasn't a smart move.

While I am typically a person with a plan I try not to plan to far ahead. I try to live in the moment as much as possible. I do want to spend more time training for triathlons this year though. My ultimate goal is to do an Ironman and I think the best way to start that journey is to establish a base and get comfortable racing sprint and Olympic distance triathlons first. I also really like focusing on different things throughout the year to prevent burnout. If I ran the Pittsburgh Marathon I wouldn't have much time for triathlon training because of the longer recovery time associated with marathons.

Last spring I ran the Rock N' Roll USA Half Marathon in DC but didn't completely love this race. I didn't want to travel for a race but wasn't getting excited for any of the races around. I ran 3 half marathons in 2012 and between those 3 dropped 20 minutes. My current half marathon PR is 2:03:00 and now I am itching to break two hours.

Enter the Nike Women's Half Marathon. I found out about this race back in September but thought I would have to enter the lottery in order to get a spot. The race is also pretty pricey for a half marathon at $160. Earlier this week I found out about the college registration that is both guaranteed and only $125. Three cheers for being in college! I registered for this race hours after registration opened on Friday and am beyond excited. Spring 2013 is all about running a fast half marathon. Bring it on!

Post Marathon Recovery & Update

I still can't believe I ran my first marathon last weekend. It seems like so long ago, yet so close at the same time. 2012 has been a really big year for me and I made a lot of progress in my running and training. I have spent the majority of the year training for something and haven't really had a break. Not only did I need a physical break from training to recover from running 26.2 miles but I also needed a mental break. Balancing school with training is always hard for me because I feel guilty going for a run when I have a test the next day. I feel I should be studying even though the break will probably help me in the long run.

So for now I am enjoying not doing anything. I took off the entire week from all exercise more for my mental health than anything else. I really enjoyed the extra time to clean up my apartment and focus more on my schoolwork. It was a much needed stress-free week for me. By Friday I started to get a little stir crazy and wanted to do something active but I restrained so I could completely focus on resting and relaxing. I don't want to feel forced into working out again. My goal is to be anxious and excited to exercise with no pressure.

Even though I haven't tested my legs out on the roads yet they are feeling pretty good. My whole body was pretty sore Monday and I was waddling instead of walking but there wasn't much actual pain. By Tuesday I was pretty much back to normal, only more tired than usual. Besides my total body soreness Sunday & Monday only my calves were really sore Tuesday & Wednesday.

Not working out all this week also allowed me to catch up on sleep. I was in bed by 10:30 Monday through Thursday instead of my usual 12:30 bedtime. I had a lot of trouble sleeping Sunday night because I was so achy but the rest of the week has been glorious. I was amazed at how tired I was the entire week.

This next week I will start easing back into exercise but will only do what I want. I want to enjoy the off-season and start my next training cycle feeling rejuvenated and rested. I am running a 5K on Thursday and will hopefully run once before that to loosen my legs out before the race. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Harrisburg Marathon Race Report

It has now been two days since I ran my first MARATHON! This has been such a long journey and one that I am sad has come to an end. This has also been an incredibly rewarding experience. I have learned so much about myself and am even more excited to train for my next marathon.

When I found about the NYC Marathon being cancelled I chose to run the Harrisburg because of its close proximity to my house. Harrisburg is a small race that doesn't have an expo so I picked up my bib before the race. We got there around 7:00 and the race started at 8:30. There was a nice enclosed pavilion with heaters that runners were allowed to wait in. I especially liked that there was no line for the bathroom until about 15 minutes before the start.

The race started promptly at 8:30 and there were no corrals. There were some pace groups to help runners decide where to line up. I wasn't sure where to up so I hopped in with the 4:40 group. The start of the race was not as exciting as I would have liked. I expected to be emotional when I crossed the starting line but I didn't really feel anything.

I saw my parents a few times within the first few miles and felt pretty good. The 4:40 pace group was all getting to know each other and I really enjoyed feeling that I was not alone. I also liked the idea of just following the pace leader and not worrying about how fast I was going.

In retrospect, I should not have tried to run with a pace group. There were times when I wanted to slow down some but was afraid to fall behind. I wasn't running my race and that is a mistake I will not make again.  I split off from the group around mile 12 and was so glad I did. I slowed down and ran however felt comfortable.

Despite splitting off from the group I still wasn't feeling fantastic. Miles 14-20 were absolutely brutal for me. My legs felt terrible and I didn't want to be running. There were hardly any spectators, which I hated. Around mile 18 a long serious of hills started which is where everything fell apart.

My knees hurt so badly and only felt worse with each uphill and downhill. I was just going to walk to the finish line because of how miserable I was. At almost exactly the 20 mile marker I met a man named Robert who tried to get me to run again. I didn't want to run but I wanted the race to over even more.

So I ran. We ran together all the way to the finish and those 6 miles were my favorite of the entire race. I felt the best and happiest then. Throughout those 6 miles we talked about ultra running, marathons, injuries, and life in general. There were also periods of time where nothing was said and those were just as wonderful.

I felt so at peace running with someone else. I was and am so incredibly grateful to Robert for putting me first despite the fact that I had never met him before. He ran a 50K the day before and was running the marathon to put in miles for training for his first 50 miler. I am honestly not sure I would have run any of those last 6 miles if it wasn't for Robert.

The greatest feeling during any running race is feeling strong during the last mile. I didn't feel fast but I felt in control. We were even able to pick it up during the last half mile. I never thought I would say that I enjoyed the last 6 miles of a marathon so much.

I finished in just under 5 hours, which I am okay with. I would have liked to run faster but I did what I could. It was a really hard day both physically and mentally. Some days produce great runs and others, bad runs. Sunday was a bad run day. I wish I could have changed the outcome of the race but it is what it is.

All in all it was a great experience that taught me so much about myself as a runner.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Night Before

Tomorrow is the big day. After the whirlwind of events last weekend I wasn't sure if I would be running a marathon this fall or not. I had all but made up my mind to bag the marathon and ran a half instead when I made the impulsive decision to not give up on my dream. So now I am running the Harrisburg Marathon tomorrow as my first ever marathon. It's definitely not what I expected would be my first marathon but I am out of the world excited for it.

The plan was to come home Thursday night and spend all Friday and today relaxing and getting my homework done so I could enjoy race weekend. But then a meeting popped up on Friday and before I knew it I had gotten none of my homework done at the end of the day Friday. I woke up determined to get as much done as possible without stressing out. It wasn't my ideal day for before a big race but it could have been so much worse.

I have been a good endurance runner and have been eating every carb that comes my way today. I have also had enough to drink to probably fill a bath tub. I have been living in my compression socks and have been staying off my feet. I feel well rested and ready to race tomorrow.

I'm not sure what tomorrow will bring for me but I am letting go of all time goals and focusing on solely enjoying this experience. I will only have one first marathon and I want it to be as memorable as possible. I want to finish tomorrow's race inspired to learn how to improve at this distance not regretting my decision to sign up to run 26.2 miles. I am not wearing a watch and quite frankly I don't give a rats ass what my time is. I am doing this race because I love running and I have something to prove to myself. I will worry about time goals during shorter races.

Despite all this excitement I am still really nervous. On Friday I told one of my professors I was terrified. When my nerves start to overtake my thoughts I try to remember being told by a writer for Runner's World that if you aren't nervous there is a serious problem. I have trained for this race. I ran a brutal 20 miles a week after knocking 18 minutes off of my half marathon PR from the spring. I may not have trained like an experienced marathoner but that is because I am not one. This is my first marathon and only my second year of casual running. Yes, casual running. I run because I enjoy it. Racing is an added bonus.

Tomorrow I am going to run the most enjoyable 26.2 miles of my life.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The NYC Non Marathon

Before I went to bed on Saturday night I decided I had to go for a run in Central Park before heading home on Sunday. I woke up with plenty of time before we had to catch our train and could hear tons of runners screaming and cheering in the park. My uncle's apartment where I stayed over the weekend overlooks Central Park and when I looked out the window Sunday morning I saw hundreds of runners enjoying the beautiful morning. I quickly got dressed to go for a short run but never expected my run to be so inspirational. 

My dad and I walked over to the park and were greeted with hoards of happy runners, many of whom were wearing their NYC Marathon shirts. It was an absolutely gorgeous morning in New York, one that would have made for a very enjoyable marathon. 

After arriving I quickly started running to warm up and also so I could run as much as possible before catching the train home. When I first started running I knew there were a lot of would-be marathoners out but I had no idea the extent of what was happening in the park.

I was amazed how as soon as I started running I felt like I fit in. I have a really hard time calling myself a runner and often feel like I stick out among runners. I feel that other runners have more experience and in general run more than me and therefore I am inferior as a runner. But while running in Central Park on Sunday morning I truly felt like I was a part of the unique marathon experience. I didn't know anyone so I hopped in with a group of runners from Mexico and chatted with them for awhile. I never would have imagined I would use all my years of Spanish while running.

As I was running I passed a large group of runners who were all wearing their NYC Marathon shirts and wearing their bibs. I found out from the runners from Mexico that a lot of runners were running the full marathon throughout Central Park. I couldn't believe just how many people actually ran a marathon on Sunday morning.

After a mile or so I left the group of runners from Mexico and sped up a bit. As I was nearing the would-be marathon finish line I had to slow to a walk because so many runners were out. The finish line was gated off so you couldn't run through it but there were tons of runners taking pictures near it. 

The bleachers were still set up and were filled with both runners and spectators who were out to cheer on all the runners. A group of runners from Sweden or Norway (I think, I really can't remember which country) set up a makeshift finish line for everyone to run through. People were out with cowbells, signs, water bottles supporting all the runners who were doing what they do best.

It was during this run that I knew I needed to run a marathon this fall. Originally I was torn over whether I should run a marathon or a half marathon but this run was pure inspiration. The movie Spirit of the Marathon could have been about the run in Central Park on Sunday. There was so much energy and emotion among all the runners. I was so proud to be a part of such a wonderful community full of dedicated and motivational people.

Monday, November 5, 2012

NYCM Replacement Race

When I found out that the NYC Marathon was cancelled I decided I would run the Philadelphia Marathon instead. Except the Philadelphia Marathon was closed within an hour of the cancellation. I thought about running Richmond but really had no desire to make that my first marathon. I've heard great things about Richmond but I just couldn't get mentally on board for that race. I didn't really know of any other races within the next few weeks that would be easily able to get to so I decided to run a half marathon in December and shoot for another PR. I figured I would just retrain and run a spring marathon.

Late Saturday night, after spending the day exploring New York I started thinking about how I did want to run a marathon this fall. My training may not have been perfect but I still trained with the intention of running marathon on November 4th. I called my mom but was still undecided about what I should do. I decided to sleep on it and decide later. When I woke up in the morning I went for a run in Central Park and decided during that run that I needed to run a marathon this fall.

I had heard about a small marathon being held on November 11th in Harrisburg, Pa about 45 minutes from my parents house and a little less than two hours from my apartment at school. I was hesitant about running such a small marathon since crowd support really helps get me through races. Once I got home I checked out the facebook page I saw that dozens of fellow displaced NYC marathoners would be running this race. I saw how accommodating the race officials were and knew this would be a great race.

Harrisburg Marathon- November 11, 2012

If it is even possible I may be more excited for this race than I was for the NYC Marathon. This whole thing has been such a unique experience and I am in a weird way glad to be a part of it. My respect towards the running community grew exponentially this weekend and after spending the weekend touring the city and am itching to run the race next year. I never would have imagined this is how everything would have turned out but I am excited and ready to take on the challenge.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Lot Has Happened...

A lot has happened since the last time I posted. I meant to post all this past week leading up to the NYC Marathon but I couldn't get internet connection and then when I did things just got too crazy. Up through last weekend I didn't know that Sandy was supposed to even hit New York. I knew some rain and wind was expected but I never expected all the damage and destruction that happened. I followed the reports all through Monday night since campus was closed on Tuesday and started to realize how bad things were. When I woke up on Tuesday morning I called my mom in tears that there was no way the marathon could be held. I was sure that it would be cancelled based on everything I was seeing on twitter.

But then the marathon wasn't cancelled. In fact, we were told that the race would absolutely happen. I didn't understand how that was possible but I figured that they knew their city best and they wouldn't have said the race was going to be possible if it wasn't. I continued my taper expecting to run a marathon today. As the week continued I kept seeing how uncomfortable many runners were with the idea of running a marathon while so much of the city we were supposed to run through was under water. A lot of people decided to defer to next year but I didn't know what to do. I had paid a lot of money and not only me but my family had sacrificed a lot to get me ready for this race. There was no way that I couldn't run if the race was still being held.

Friday morning my dad and I took the train out of Lancaster and arrived in New York around 2. We walked from Penn Station over to the expo and spent a couple hours wandering around, listening to speakers, and just soaking everything in. The more time I spent at the expo the more I wanted to run this race. Sometime around 5 we decided to finally leave and head over to my uncle's apartment where we were staying. While in line for the bathroom I heard a girl say that her friend had text her that the marathon was cancelled. I instantly had a pit in my stomach. A lot of people said it was a rumor and shrugged it off. I knew though that what we were hearing was true.

I quickly told my dad what I had heard and then jumped on my phone to see what I could find out. I saw on CNBC that the race was off. We walked over to the registration booths to try to get a confirmation but the volunteers hadn't heard anything until then. After receiving a phone call from my mom that it was all over the news that the race was cancelled we headed to a local pizza place to try to catch the press conference on their TV. We could only get the local news station but it was enough. The race was not happening. I was heartbroken but at the same time relieved. I knew it was the right decision but it should have been made Tuesday or Wednesday.

My dad and I decided to make the best of our time in the city and what started off as a nightmare turned into one of the most enjoyable experiences.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Taper Confessions

This first week of taper has been going so much differently than I expected. I am having feelings of wanting to increase my mileage to make up for missed runs throughout training, but mostly I want to run more because I have really caught the running bug lately. Instead of dreading my runs and constantly rearranging my run schedule I am trying to convince myself NOT to run and instead relax. I imagined that when I hit taper I would be ready to embrace the extra rest and catch up on cleaning and seeing friends. And as much as I could use the rest I have the urge to go for a run as a way to relax. I am really glad I decided to only do a two week taper instead of the usual three weeks as I'm pretty sure I would go insane.

The thing that is surprising me the most about taper is how calm I am. The NYC Marathon is only 11 days away and yet I am still so chill about the whole thing. I am waiting for the moment when it hits me that I am really running 26.2 miles on November 4th. Although the fact that I already completed my 20 mile long run has still not set in. I was thinking the other day that I hadn't done any long runs and that I was not going to be ready to complete a marathon until I realized that I have done long runs of

2 x 14 miles, 1 of which was the RNR Philadelphia Half Marathon
15 miles, that included the Baltimore Half Marathon
16 miles
20 miles

I had initially planned on doing more long runs but now when I look back on my training I am realizing that this is only my first marathon. I have only been running for about a year and a half and consistently running for 6 months. I am a competitive person so it is hard for me not to get caught up in trying to do too much too soon. I also had some nagging injuries that derailed my training. Given the circumstances I am happy with what I have accomplished and look forward to putting it all to use on race day.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Welcome to Taper Town!

It's been a long road to get here but it is finally taper time! I never expected my training would go the way it did but I did the best I could with what was thrown at me. Sure there were times where I skipped runs but I'm not dwelling on those missed runs. I am trying to focus on all the successful things about my training cycle and how much progress I've made as a runner this year. I have come to terms with the work that I have put in and now it is just time to relax and embrace the taper.

This is really the first race where I've had a real taper so I'm not too sure what to expect. I've heard horror stories about people becoming cranky, irritable, sick, developing injuries, etc. I have dealt with minor injuries/aches & pains throughout training so I'm being extra cautious to stay healthy. Just last week my throat felt scratchy and I thought I had come down with the flu. I don't want to take any chances. I want to be ready when November 4th roles around.

I'm ready for you, NYCM!

On Saturday I went for a quick shakeout run that my sore legs didn't love. I was pretty much shuffling but by the end of the run my legs felt much better. I felt somewhat recovered from Friday's 20 mile long run. But then a few hours after the run I started getting this weird pain in the back of my knee. It was kind of a sharp pain that happened randomly. After it started occurring more frequently and the pain became sharper I started freaking out, running around the apartment telling my boyfriend I was broken. I'm not always the most rational person.

Lucky for me my knee has felt fine since then. I took an extra rest day just to make sure that everything was okay. I have a little bit of tightness in my shin but nothing that a little ice and some compression socks won't fix. I am anxious to test my legs on a run tomorrow morning. I am excited to get back on the trails and feel the dirt under my feet. I am trying to soak up every moment of this marathon experience and that includes the taper.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

New PDR: 20 Miles!

Yesterday I ran 20 miles. That still hasn't sunk in yet. It wasn't the confidence boosting run I was hoping for but either way the miles are in the book. And based on how my runs went the week after RNR Philly I wasn't expecting anything fantastic after Baltimore. At least I was mentally prepared, I guess.

My dad had agreed to meet me again to bike along as I ran but due to a little thing called work he couldn't meet me until 12:30. Since the temps have been cooler I didn't mind starting the run later. I figured it would be good practice since I don't start the NYCM until 10:55. The late start time for yesterday's run also meant I got to sleep in and miss the storms and rain that hit in the morning.

I knew I wanted to run 8-12 miles before meeting up with my dad so I got to the trail around 11. As soon as I started running I could tell it was going to be a tough run. I couldn't get my legs to settle into a pace and just felt all over the place. I kept trying to reign it in so I didn't go out too fast and crash & die later on.

The first four miles flew by and before I knew it I had finished 8 miles and was back at my car. I stopped to stretch for a minute and waited for my dad but then decided to run around some until he came so my legs didn't cramp up while sitting. I felt really good until mile 10.

Miles 10-12.5 weren't really too bad but them there on out the run got worse with each mile. I realized I hadn't taken in as many calories as I should have. I stopped to stretch around mile 15 and ended up sitting down for a few minutes. I wanted nothing more than to be finished running. But since the only way back to the car was running those last 5 miles I had no choice. So I ran.

Those last 5 miles were absolutely brutal. Every part of my body hurt but somehow I finished without too much walking. This run did the exact opposite of give me confidence heading into my taper. After how painful those 5 miles were I couldn't comprehend how I would another 6. But that is why we taper for marathons. Now it's time to embrace the taper and rest up so my legs are feeling fresh on November 4.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Another Day On the Dirt

Today I went for my first run since the Baltimore Half Marathon. I had intended to run earlier in the week but school work got the better of me. The hardest part of running, for me, is simply getting started. I had such a mental battle over going for this run and almost bailed but luckily didn't. I was really tired and my legs were still a bit cranky from all of the hills in Baltimore.

When I first started running I felt pretty crappy and wanted to turn around. I tried to convince myself to only run a few miles just to shake my legs out. But then as I continued running I started feeling better and better. Once I entered Patapsco I was greeted with a steep downhill that I ended up walking most of out of fear of falling and how tight my quads were. I knew this was going to be a slow run so I let myself walk a few step here and there when needed.

With every time I go running in Patapsco I fall even more in love with trail running. I love the feeling of adventure and freedom I get when running on trails. I love how peaceful it is exploring nature while everyone else is dealing with the daily grind. I really don't know how to put it into words but you can be sure I am going to keep trail running for awhile.

When I go trail running I normally leave from school and run the mile over to Patapsco, run some trails, and then run back to school. That mile back to school is always my favorite because I feel like I have escaped from school to my own secret haven and nobody will even know it.

This marathon training cycle has certainly not been ideal but I am really starting to feel comfortable with running and calling myself a runner. Even when I have bad runs I am glad to be out running and enjoying nature.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Baltimore Half Marathon 2012 Race Report

Yesterday was such an incredible day. Honestly. I didn't get to bed until 2:30 in the morning the night before the race and then had to be up at 6:30 to drive from my boyfriend's down to my apartment to meet my dad. I was exhausted and wanted nothing more than to just stay in bed and sleep all day but I knew I needed to get in a long run and so I forced myself out of bed. To make getting out of bed even harder, it was the coldest it has been all year :32 degrees. I'm glad I checked the weather and saw that it was going to warm up to in the fifties during the race.

I was planning on wearing shorts and a short sleeved shirt but due to the cooler temps I wore a long sleeved shirt instead. I bundled up with extra layers for before the race and by 8:15 my dad and I were on our way downtown. We hit a lot of traffic on the exit ramp due to roads being closed from the full marathon so we didn't make it to the race as early as we had planned. Initially I wanted to run 3 miles before the race and then 2 afterwards for a total of 18. I only had time for one mile before the race though. I then decided to make it a harder effort and only do 15 miles.

The corrals for this race aren't very well marked so I just hopped in when I saw a bunch of people who had numbers close to mine. After a minute or two we were off and running. I tried to remember as much as I could from last year about the course and what to expect. I knew there were some hills in the middle miles that were pretty brutal but I couldn't remember exactly where they were. My plan was to run the first 5 miles at a really comfortable pace so I would have energy left in the tank for the final few miles. I wore my garmin but didn't reset it after my warm up and had it set so it wouldn't give me my mile splits. I actually really liked not knowing what pace I was running at.

Last year I remember thinking that the first 3 miles took forever, but this year they flew by. I couldn't believe how quickly the race was going by. At the first aid station I thought I grabbed water but ended up grabbing Gatorade. My stomach has had trouble in the past with Gatorade but I was really thirsty and there was no more water so I drank it and luckily had no issues. I also experimented with eating Shot Bloks through out the race instead of taking a GU. I only had 1-2 Shot Bloks at a time and also had them right before a water station. I preferred them so much more than eating a gel and will definitely be taking them during the marathon. I also liked that I could take as many or as few as I wanted to keep my stomach happy.

I saw my dad at mile 5 and loved the burst of energy seeing him gave me. I picked up the pace a tiny bit but not too much yet. Between miles 4-7 is where the most/biggest hills are located. I went up the hills with the mantra even effort not even pace. I went up the hills at a pace that felt comfortable and then flew down them, taking as much advantage of the downhills as possible. I kept running along happy as could be when before I knew it we were entering the lake which meant that the hills were over. Already?! What hills?! I couldn't believe how easy they felt.

At about mile 8 I started to pick up the pace even more. I knew I was going to PR but I wasn't sure by how much. I just decided to run hard and see where it got me. I was blowing by people and loving every minute of it. I seriously don't think I stopped smiling the entire race. Once I hit mile 10 I really picked it up so I was running at a slightly uncomfortable pace. I was charging up the final few hills and riding the downhills. I picked out people who looked strong that I wanted to pass. Despite how hard I was pushing it over the final few miles I was impressed with how strong I felt. I would it was a 300% improvement over how I felt running this race last year as my first half marathon.

Once I saw the 13 mile marker I sprinted with everything I had to the finish line. I knew I was going to get a nice PR but I still didn't know by how much. After I crossed the finish line I waited in an insanely long line to get my medal and some food and drink. I soon found my dad and stretched out a bit. Then I went for a short jog around M&T Bank Stadium with hopes of loosening my legs up. I was already really stiff but started to feel a little better the longer I ran. After we went to Noodles for lunch and then back over to the race finish area to check my time.


A PR by 5+ minutes from the RNR Philadelphia Half Marathon 4 weeks ago. Last year I finished this race in 2:23:03. I can't believe how far I have come in only a year and am now itching for that sub 2:00 half.

Sorry there are no pictures in this post. My computer screen cracked & now I'm using my old one which is being very temperamental. Will add pictures when my computer is fixed.

Monday, October 8, 2012

I Had Myself An Adventure

This morning I woke up at the ungodly hour for college students of 7:00 for a meeting with the honors section of one of my classes. The meeting went from 8:00-9:30.. and I don't have class until 2:30 on Monday's. I only live a mile off campus so I could have just gone back to my apartment and taken a nap but then I would have lost my precious parking spot. After 11:00 all parking becomes pretty much nonexistent. I figured I should stay on campus and be productive. I decided to use my huge block of unscheduled free time to go for a run in Patapsco State Park, which is located about a mile off campus.

I was looking forward to this run for a few days, until this morning when it was in the 40's all morning. It was in the 70's last week, wtf weather? Anyway, I started my run at 10:00 and had a route mapped out. I knew how to get to Patapsco and figured I would do an out-and-back on the trails so I didn't get lost.

As soon as I started running I felt great. I was a little chilly but besides that was really enjoying the run. Once I got to Patapsco the run only got better. Being on those trails felt cozy in a way that I can't explain. I felt safe, like I belonged there. I didn't know where I was going but I just kept running and running and soaking up every minute of it. When I reached the end of the trail that I took I wasn't ready to head back so I took another trail so I could keep running.

The second trail that I took ended up being a loop and I ended up at what I thought was an entrance/exit to the park just down the road from the one I used. As I approached the clearing I realized there was no road in sight. I knew I wasn't lost, I would just have to retrace my steps on the trails to find my way back. Just as I was about to turn around I saw some park workers and asked them how to get back to the entrance I used. They told me it was faster to take the stone road I had found until it intersected with the road that I had come in on.

Easy enough, right? Wrong. I ended up running through a hunting zone that was on private property with warning signs everywhere. Once I made it back to the main road I was a lot farther away and ended up running on the shoulder of a pretty busy road. I felt relatively uneasy the whole time. To make it even better I wasn't even sure I was on the right road. If I wasn't then I would have been really lost. Luckily I found my way back to campus pretty easily. Despite my little snafu, this was one of the most enjoyable runs I have had in a very long time.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Successful 16

Yesterday morning I had a 16 mile long run scheduled, that I deemed my redemption run. Having a bad run is hard enough, but having a horrific long run can be enough to kill your confidence and leave you questioning everything. Even though I was excited to try another long run, I was nervous about what it would mean if it was as much of a disaster as the last one. I tried not to think about it too much, which didn't work all too well unfortunately.

The biggest problem during my long runs seems to be my mind, so I asked my dad to ride his bike alongside while I ran. He happily obliged. I wanted to get in a decent chunk of miles on my own before he got there so I could use him when things got tough.

I was really tired when my alarm went off at 5:15 so instead of getting up to eat well before running I continued to sleep. I snoozed until about 6:30 when I absolutely had to get up. I ate a big bowl of oatmeal and was quickly on my way out the door. For my long runs I have decided to drive to a great paved trail about 35 minutes north of my apartment. I left around 7:00 and luckily hit minimal traffic.

I started the run off feeling great. I was actually surprised how good my legs felt since I hadn't run much in the past two weeks. It was pretty chilly during the first few miles of the run, especially since the trail is shaded, but it was a gorgeous fall morning. I decided to switch my garmin out of autolap so I wasn't constantly reminded of my pace and consequently trying to run faster. I also left it on the main screen so I couldn't check how far I had left.

After the first 4 miles I started to feel a little defeated. I had 4 miles back to the car and then had to do another 8 mile out-and-back with my dad. When negative thoughts creeped into my mind I tried to focus on the present and only think about the 4 miles left to the car.

It was really nice to get a quick stretching break once I got to the car. I switched my water bottle and we were on our way. I wasn't really sure how it was going to go with my dad riding along side me but it was incredibly helpful. We chatted the entire time and the miles flew by. I was in shock with how fast it seemed like we made it to the turn around point.

The last four miles were definitely hard but so much better than if I was on my own. My dad kept me laughing despite how much pain I was in. I had run out of water, unfortunately, with about 2 miles left so those 2 miles were pretty brutal. The sun was coming out and I was really thirsty. Despite all this being with my dad didn't let me dwell on those things. We just kept talking and before I knew it the run was over.

16 miles 2:54:20 (10:52 pace)

I was also pleasantly surprised to see that my pace was under 11:00 min/mile. I have been trying to keep my long runs evenly paced and not go out too fast. I hit the lap button after every 4 miles and my pace ranged from 10:49-10:57 average. This was really a run I needed. I'm starting to feel ready for this marathon (I still have a lot of work though) and more importantly confident. I know I can do my remaining 18 and 20 mile long runs.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

One Month

It is weird to be writing this since November 4th has always seemed so far away. But yet it is now only one month away. My decision to sign up for the NYC Marathon was kind of out of the blue, meaning it was not something that I spent a lot of time thinking about. I got the idea to run a marathon and then signed up a few days later. Since April I have had this race on my mind, but it was more in the back of my mind. I had other races to train for over the summer and so I focused on them. I worked on building a base throughout my triathlon training so that when it was time to jump head first into marathon training I was ready.

As always, things have not gone exactly as planned. I loved my training when I was also focused on training for triathlons and when I had no other responsibilities to worry about. Being in school is the thing that has really affected my training. I don't have beautiful trails to run on for days and can't go out for a run whenever I choose. The added stress of assignments has constantly left me pushing off runs in order to get things done in time. I have tried not to pay attention to all the countdowns about how little time is left before race day.

Today was when it really hit me though. In one month from today, although on a Sunday and not on a Thursday, I will be toeing the line of my first marathon. Despite struggles with my training the race is finally starting to feel real. I can finally imagine being in New York being a part of something that has inspired and driven me so many times. I spent the first half of today scared shitless about the dwindling about of time I have left to prepare for such a big task. But after going out for a run, even though it was a pretty terrible one, I became excited again about finishing this journey that I have started.

I am not ready to call myself a marathoner, but hopefully in a few weeks when all of my long training runs are behind me I will feel confident and ready. I also went from being terrifyingly nervous for tomorrow's 16 mile long run to excited and anxious. Instead of dreading these remaining long runs I am ready to embrace them, since they are the key to me being marathon ready. Sometimes it is hard to forget that I am a beginner and this is my first marathon. I should not be training the same as someone who is running their 20th marathon. I am doing this because I want to prove to myself that I can. No added pressure necessary.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Return of the Baltimore Half Marathon

One of the things I have been struggling the most with training for a marathon is getting in my long runs. Normally I don't have much trouble doing longer training runs or even bike rides, but that is because there is a wonderful dirt crushed trail that runs for 40 miles into Maryland. Now that I am back at school though I am really struggling to find places to run that are safe.

After my disastrous 14 miles long run the other week I was wishing I could just use half marathons as long training runs like I did with the Rock N' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon. Enter: the Baltimore Half Marathon! I absolutely loved running this race as my first half marathon last year and spent months wishing I could run it again this year. I am looking forward to not racing and just running for run.

The plan is to run 5 additional miles to make a total of 18 for the day. I always thought it would be difficult to run additional miles before or after a race but I actually really enjoyed doing a few warm up miles in Philadelphia. I have not decided how I will split up the miles but I will most likely run 3 miles before and 2 after. I am also toying with the idea of running the actual race at marathon race pace, which by the way I have idea what that would be.

I really can't put into words how excited I am to be running this race again. After each race my parents ask me which one is my favorite and I always answer with Baltimore. Everything I remember about this race makes me overwhelmed with happiness. This race taught me that I can overcome anything and to always love whatever you are doing.

Monday, October 1, 2012

NYCM Peak Training

I can't believe I am entering my final three week build of marathon training, which also means I am entering peak training. It seems like yesterday that I started training for this race yet at the same time it feels like so long ago. I wouldn't be honest if I said that marathon training hasn't been hard. In fact, it's been really hard. I've had a lot of ups and downs emotionally that resulted in an anxiety induced breakdown last week. Last week was not supposed to be a rest week but all I did was rest. I only ran once, which I'm sure was a really stupid thing to do but I needed that break mentally. After last week's catastrophic fail of a training week I finally feel ready to tackle the rest of my training.

What I have come to learn is that to be successful at training for a marathon you really need to do a lot of planning ahead. There is more to training than just running. Insert foam rolling, stretching, extra sleep, meal planning and cooking, etc. Add homework and studying for tests and it's enough to make me want to hide under my comforter until Christmas break. I spent some time over the weekend planning out my week in a lot of detail. I hate having everything planned out but if I'm not careful I'll end up with a scheduled 8 mile run and a paper to write at the same time. And when I have a lot of schoolwork looming over my head I struggle to take the time to go out for a run. Luckily I don't have a very busy week and can hopefully get ahead on some schoolwork since I have three exams next week.

Here's what on the plan for this week:
Monday: 4 miles easy
Tuesday: 45 min cycling
Wednesday: 2 miles easy, 45 min swim
Thursday: 6 miles easy
Friday: 16 miles long, 1 hour yoga
Saturday: REST
Sunday: 4 miles easy

Week total: 36 miles

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Enjoying My Rest Week

I wasn't originally planning on making this week a rest week but between all of the terrible runs I had last week and how tired I was at the beginning of the week I switched moved my rest week up a week. Now that the week is more than half way over I am sure I made the right decision. So far I have enjoyed two rest days and have slept in almost every morning. All runs have been easy and in general I have been more relaxed this week. I am taking advantage of my extra time to take care of tasks around the apartment that I have been putting off for weeks. I have also knocked out all of my homework and have gotten a head start on next week's work.

Tomorrow I am running 10 miles and for the first time in weeks I am not stressed or anxious about that number. I know I can run 10 miles and I am actually looking forward to the run. Last week's 14 mile long run gave me so much anxiety that the idea of running 16 this week completely overwhelmed me. After a few days of rest and relaxation, though, I am getting excited about tackling my long runs again.

I am also looking forward to a weekend without traveling anywhere. Every weekend since I started school at the end of August I have been going home to deal with random things. For the first time this semester I am just staying at my apartment and hanging out. I am going to finish cleaning up my apartment and do simple things like make pancakes for breakfast and watch a movie. I feel like I have been go-go-go for so long lately that all I want to do is sit on the couch with a chai tea latte and watch a good movie.

It can be really easy to get caught up in training and to get the mentality to always do more. I constantly feel like I am not running enough so the thought of taking a rest week daunted me a little bit but it is proving to be exactly what I need. What I am most surprised by is how much stress can affect training. I started the week so stressed I thought I was going to have a breakdown, especially after last week, but now I feel ready to tackle my three weeks of peak training.

Monday, September 24, 2012

6 Weeks To Go

I was emailing my super fast marathoning cousin last night and realized that the New York City Marathon is only six weeks away. At first I started freaking out that I would never be ready in time. The longest run I have done so far was 14 miles while most people have already knocked out at least one 20 miler. My mind was plagued with thoughts of how I will never have enough time to build up enough endurance. And last weekend's long run certainly didn't help. Instead of filling me with confidence it left me questioning everything.

But I have been an athlete long enough to know that a lot can happen in only six weeks. I went from walking my bike up the hills on the Keystone State Triathlon course to hammering up them and actually passing people in six weeks. Back in high school I recovered from surgery and qualified for nationals after only being in the pool for six weeks.

I had some really great training runs in August that gave me a tremendous amount of confidence heading into both the Keystone State Triathlon and the RNR Philadelphia Half Marathon. I only ran three or four times a week but my training also consisted of cycling, yoga, strength training, and swimming. I did weekly track workouts that increased my love for running and boosted my confidence. I increased my long runs and actually enjoyed doing all of them.

I am writing this post to remind myself not to get too stressed out and just to take everything one day at a time. Don't get worked up about the long runs and find my love of running through track workouts. I am doing the best I can and that is all that matters. I will run 26.2 miles on November 4th and I will enjoy every mile. I signed up to train for and run this marathon because I love running and I want to challenge myself. I don't ever want running and training to become something that causes me anxiety.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

NYCM Training Week 4

After the Rock N' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon on Sunday I was in need of a rest day. I debated swimming or biking for a little but all I wanted to do was sleep so I opted for a total rest day instead.

I set out early Tuesday morning for an easy recovery run from Sunday's race but my leg pain came back and was still there a mile into the run. I turned around and ran/walked back to my apartment. Once I got back I did 15 minute of ab work followed by 15 minutes of stretching and foam rolling. Not happy with the failed run in the morning, I hopped on my trainer for a 45 minute easy ride while watching Friends. By the end of the day my leg was feeling much better, giving me hope for the rest of the week.

I took advantage of my big break again on Wednesday and got in a quick swim. I only got in 1,000 yards before the pool was evacuated for vacuuming. I had no leg discomfort or pain during the swim, which is improvement from the last time I went swimming.

I wanted to get in a track workout this week but also wanted to sleep in on Thursday. I thought it would be a good idea to go to the track after class, at 2:30. The only problem was that it was very sunny and there was a lacrosse game about to start. I did my mile warm up and then tried a mile for time. I finished in a slow for me 7:53 and felt crappy the entire time. As I was starting my second mile I was told to leave the track because of the game, so I ended up running back to my car for 4 miles total for the day.

I went out for an easy run on the trail near my house but felt pretty bad the entire time. I was really struggling to breathe and just couldn't get into any kind of groove. This run was a real sign about the long run I had scheduled Saturday. I was able to get in 6 really slow miles though.

I had planned on doing 16 miles on Saturday but only made it to 14 miles. This was literally one of the worst runs of my life. I just couldn't get going. I felt tired the whole time and ended up taking walking breaks. I considered stopping at 8 miles but pushed on. Hopefully next week's run will go better than this one.

I closed out the week with a 2 mile recovery run on the treadmill followed up with 30 minutes of strength and core work.

Weekly totals
  • Running: 28 miles
  • Swimming: 1,000 yards
  • Biking: 45 min
  • Strength & core: 45 min
  • Total hours: 7 hrs 22 min