2014 in Review

Hey there everyone! I’m sorry I’ve been MIA lately – the usual holiday madness coupled with work insanity had me running pretty ragged until this week. But I’m back, and I hope everyone had an awesome holiday filled with love and laughter and family (and let’s be honest: lots of wine)!

With 2015 on the horizon, everyone’s talking about resolutions and goals and all these great plans for the New Year. But before I do that, I’d like to take a minute and reflect on the past year first. Yeah, it’s fun to remember all the great times I’ve had while running in 2014, but more importantly: looking at how far I’ve come will help me set smarter goals for the year ahead! So to help me do just that, I’m going to take a different approach on my year in review and look at my favorite lessons learned from my favorite races of 2014.

1. Running Happy at February’s Manasquan 2-Mile Beach Run.


This was my first race in nasty weather: 30-ish degree rain, sleet, and snow – it was also my first race in sand, too! But instead of focusing on all the things that were miserable about the day, I ran happy from start to finish. I mean come on, look at that dork in the gigantic winter coat up there. Clearly I gave two figs about the sleet and just enjoyed it.

At that race I learned to just go with it. I’d been lucky up til that point and had relatively perfect weather for every race I’ve run in the past 4 years. But the nasty weather during this run taught me that sometimes you’ve just got to suck it up and tough it out to get through it with a smile – because that way you’ll end up with some fun race pictures!

2. Tackling my first post-ACL surgery half marathon in Asbury Park’s Runapalooza.

IMG_3519I had a lot of anxiety coming up to this race. I didn’t necessarily follow the training plan 100% and was still leery of my knee in certain situations – and if I’m being honest, my superstitious mind had me convinced that I’d suffer the same fate as I did in the half before this one!

But I went out with the same mental attitude I found in my beach run that winter: just go for it with a smile. And what I learned that day is that anything is possible if you really put your mind to it. I hit the wall at mile 11 and didn’t really see myself crossing the finish line as triumphantly as I’d imagined, until I realized I was so close to a PR. My unofficial goal had been to beat my injured race time, and I just barely did by a few minutes, in tears and completely elated. While it wasn’t the shining, time-crushing win I had hoped for, it was still a win because I put my fear of the half marathon distance to bed for good!

3. You’re stronger than you think: Seaside Semper Five 5K & Make A Wish 5K

In September I had signed up for a handful of races before my big October race, and had told myself from the beginning not to push it. So while I approached these races as fun runs and went in with no expectations, I ended up surprising myself with both my results and the lessons I took away from each race.

In Seaside I lost my music a few feet into the race, and then decided to run without looking at my Garmin the entire race. When I got to mile 2.75 and realized I was blowing away my old 5k training times, I floored it and finished under 37 minutes!

2 A few weeks later I ran my first race with a cold at Liberty State Park for the Make a Wish Foundation, where I stopped to blow my nose every quarter mile and coughed through the end, and still came in only 10 seconds shy of my time in Seaside – proving to myself that all that training really does help!! While it may seem like I’m going nowhere fast between injuries and schedule setbacks, the miles really do add up and train you to perform some truly amazing feats that you never thought your body was capable of – and that’s pretty freakin cool if you ask me!

IMG_76824. Making Friends at the Atlantic City Half Marathon

Throughout the summer I’d been plagued by recurring knee and calf injuries that eventually forced me to drop from the full marathon to the half, and my ego (along with my joints) were still pretty sore over it. Before I even toed the start line, this race had taught me that sometimes things don’t go your way, and you need to change your goals. That doesn’t make you a failure, it makes you smart. It was one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn in a long time, but it was worth it.

While this race was supposed to be my first full marathon, it ended up being an even more important “first” – my first race with a running partner, who taught me that the road is a lot easier to travel when you’ve got a friend by your side.

IMG_8295In my 4+ years as a runner, I resisted running with others because I was afraid I’d slow them down or I’d tire too fast from talking. I met Alain through The Mermaid Club, and while we hadn’t ever run together before race day, we covered the entire 13.1 miles practically joined at the hip, chatting about everything from Melissa McCarthy movies and gummy bears to religion and family. We kept each others’ minds off of the task at hand and off the wind fighting us at every step. When I didn’t think I was going to pull a PR out of thin air, Alain told me matter of factly that I WAS, and he was right. It turns out that the old saying is true: “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

IMG_82975. Living in the Moment at the NYRR Dash to the Finish Line

This was an unexpectedly meaningful race for me. Originally I was simply excited to run my first race in NYC and cross the Marathon Finish Line the day before the big race. But from the moment we crossed the starting line in the pouring freezing rain, I realized that this was going to be much more than just a little 5K.

IMG_9199Being surrounded by almost ten thousand other runners from all parts of the world, the amazing skyscrapers of Manhattan, the tourists and locals standing on the streets cheering us on – it was a completely surreal experience. On more than one occasion I glanced around me and told myself to soak it all in: this was what running in the moment was all about. I’d never run in NYC before, but I was instantly hooked and couldn’t wait to return. Even though I was overdressed and overheating, I bobbed and weaved through the crowd (and added .75 to my distance!) and still managed to PR by an astounding amount.


While it was “just a little 5K in the park”, this race renewed my love of running and showed me that there’s this whole world out there just waiting for me to run all over it! Because of this race, I signed up on a whim for the NYC Half Marathon in March, won an entry, and now find myself a week into training for what’s probably going to be the coolest half I’ll ever run – and I can’t wait!


So that was my 2014 in a nutshell – what about you? What has running taught you this year, and how are you going to take those lessons with you into 2015? Tell me all about it – and Happy 2015!!

Funny Running

I love the internet. I mean, without it, I wouldn’t be talking to you right now.

But in addition to bringing total strangers together to talk about shared interests, the web has also made it so much easier to find funny shit to laugh uncontrollably at – especially funny shit about very specific shared interests, i.e., running.

Case in point: I’ve found a handful of funny running pictures that dissolve me into giggles every time I see them. I’m delighted to find a new post on Instagram or Facebook or wherever – but usually I’m giggling alone because my husband doesn’t find the humor in the word “fartlek” (wtf? it’s a funny word!!)

So I’ve decided to share with you some of my favorite running memes, in the hopes that I make you smile, even if you do so by yourself and your loved ones wonder what’s so damn funny. Enjoy!






I think that calls for an extra medal.


so cheesy… until you get to the end!




True Story: This just happened this weekend.



How about you – do you have any favorite running images or funny memes about our beloved pastime? If you do, please share the love!

From Zero to Two (Half Marathons)

So how is it that I went from absolutely loving the “no race to train for” off season to suddenly having only 12 weeks to prep for two half marathons only a month apart? Hmm…

3196d892ad5b284ae2f5800994bf804aThe truth is I’m not really sure what happened, because the fact that I got into that first race was pure LUCK!

On Black Friday I got a reminder email for the Asbury Park Runapalooza Half Marathon in April, and finally signed up. I knew I wanted to run this one again – it was my first post ACL surgery half  marathon last year and I loved it. They’ve finally repaired the last remaining parts of the course that were still damaged by Hurricane Sandy (plus I just really adore Asbury) so it was a given.

Cut to the following week when I threw my hat into the ring for the United Airlines NYC Half Marathon (scheduled for a month earlier than Runapalooza), never expecting to get in. It was a total blind try: my first time trying to get into anything NYC related that wasn’t guaranteed, I’m not even an NYRR member, I was brutally honest about my 3 hour predicted finish time; to say the odds were against me would be an understatement. But wouldn’t you know it, the Running Gods smiled upon me, and I got in!

So within about two weeks I went from leisurely starting my serious training around the middle of January to “Holy crap I’m running two half marathons within a month of each other with 12 weeks to prep!”

Have you ever found yourself in a similar position? I know I’ve asked about running semi-consecutive races like that, but does anyone have any advice (aside from “don’t fall in the first race”), or other training resources for a condensed schedule? HALP!

2015 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon: I’M IN!

OMG you guys, I am dying right now – somebody pinch me, because it’s actually happening:


I’m officially running the NYC Half Marathon on March 15th, 2015!!

After having such an amazing time running the streets of Manhattan in the NYRR Dash to the Finish Line 5K, I knew I had to race in NYC again, stat. So after seeing a few emails and online ads about the NYC Half , I thought “Wouldn’t that be cool?” and applied for entry, never expecting to be picked. I mean come on: I’ve only run one other NYRR race, I’m not a member, and I was brutally honest about my 3-hour predicted finish time. Why would they pick me?

My cousin ran this race last year and told me that they charged her entry fee before she got her acceptance email, so I began my day by obsessively refreshing my online bank statement. I didn’t have to wait long, because that magical NYRR charge popped up at 9am on the dot!! To make sure I wasn’t seeing things, I clicked over to my NYRR Account page and nearly screamed: there was the half, in my “Registered Races” section. I was in!!

So now I’m officially running my next half marathon in just over 3 months, and the Asbury Park Runapalooza a month later! My approach to running lately has been all “Meh, I’m not training for anything,” to “HOLY HELL I’M TRAINING FOR TWO RACES IN A MONTH?!”

This’ll be new for me, running halves so close to one another. Any of you super runners have any recommendations? Words of wisdom? Or even better- is anyone going to be racing that day? I’d love to meet some of you!

Race Recap: South Amboy YMCA Livestrong 5K

On November 22nd I ran the second annual South Amboy YMCA 5K, and can now officially say that I’ve run a race for as long as they’ve held it! Last year I ran the inaugural race and had a great (icy) time, and this year was exactly the same: freezing cold, windy, and fun!

This is a small local race, with about 90% of the course made of roads I run on every other day, including my waterfront park. I can’t explain how much I love running a race on my own streets – it’s like a parade just for me. Especially when it’s such a small race!

And when I say it’s a small race, I’m totally not kidding: there were a total of 64 runners. The pickins were so slim that I actually placed 5th in my age group (of 8). If I had just pushed like another 2 minutes faster I would have won an award. So at least I have something to aim for next year! 😉

But anyway – it was a bitterly cold day with wind gusts in the 20-25 mph range. We rolled out of the house with about 20 minutes til the start (like I said, it was a small, local race!) and found the starting area at the top of the hill down at the waterfront park. I grabbed my bag, snapped some photos, and we quickly retreated to the car for warmth and shelter from the wind.


Inside the car I was pleasantly surprised to see that they upgraded the shirts for this year’s race – after last year’s glowing orange cotton t-shirts, this year’s gorgeous kelly green tech shirts are a huge improvement! Nice job on that, race organizers :). So with about 5 minutes to go, we reluctantly hopped out of the car and I lined up for the start. Mike snapped his usual “at the back of the pack, waiting to start” pictures:


“If you’re going to be weird, be confident about it.”IMG_9498

I don’t know what to do with my hands.

After he snapped that last pic I started to make small talk with him because it looked like there were only about 40 of us there – surely they needed to wait a little longer for more people to sta–HONK!!!

It turned out that everyone really was there and we were off! I laughed for the whole first 50 yards – never before has a starting line taken me by surprise like that. Usually there’s a lot of waiting and dancing around from foot to foot to keep warm. Not this time!

So off we went, into the cutting wind. Within a few yards, tears were streaming from my eyes even with my sunglasses shielding my eyes, and soon my nose joined the running party. At a half mile in, I had to stop and blow my nose quite loudly, and made a group of ladies behind me laugh. That’s my lot in life – making people happy 🙂

This course was billed as “new”, which was a good thing: last year they had mapped it up every hill in South Amboy (of which there are MANY), but only down one of them. I distinctly remember cresting one gigantic hill towards the end and meeting a police officer holding traffic for me. He took one look at me and said, “I am so sorry.” I still laugh thinking about that.

But anyway, we motored through this new course, which led us through the tony waterfront condo development for one mile, back around for a second, and around the 1-mile waterfront park loop. I kept a good 11:30-ish pace, but that wind was really brutal! I especially slowed down after mile 2 when I had to blow my nose 2-3 times in a row. Every time I thought it was done, it started right up again. I couldn’t help but laugh – if I ran as much as my nose, I’d be finishing a marathon by now.

Once I got to the final mile I found myself in competition with 2 other ladies and a 12 year old boy. Well, not really “competition”, but you know what I mean. I made a mental note to myself not to let them beat me – every time I took off, my nose would slow me down while I took care of business, and these folks would pass me. But I consistently caught up to them and overtook them each time, so I set a final kick checkpoint in my head and conserved until then.

That final half mile is my favorite stretch of the park where I usually reserve my final kick for any run, especially because it curves back uphill at the end for an extra challenge. So once I got to that magic point, I hit the gas. And wouldn’t you know it, the 12 year old was holding out on me!! He took off like a spitfire right past me and blazed straight through the finish about 30 seconds ahead of me!!


I shook my head and laughed the whole time as I crested that last hill and crossed the finish with a huge smile – under 37 minutes even with the nose blowing! – because that kid beat me fair and square! But those other two ladies were way behind me, so 2 out of 3 ain’t bad!

That final kick had iced over my lungs pretty badly, which in turn gave me a nasty headache (anyone else experience that phenomenon after pushing really hard in the cold??), so I smiled for one more pic and headed home to thaw out in a hot shower – the best reward after a freezing cold run!


Well a cheeseburger would have been great too.

All in all it was another great race! Smaller shindigs like this usually weird me out – I hate being a back of the packer when there aren’t so many other people around – but I’m finding that it’s just enough motivation to push a little harder! The 5K is a fun distance and if it weren’t so expensive, I think I would run one every weekend! Nothing like a good race, especially in your hometown. Can’t wait for year 3!


Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

It’s been a quiet month for me as far as running goes – but I’m happy about that! After my excellent 5K at the NYRR Dash to the Finish Line, I thought I’d be itching to get back on the pavement to see how much better I could get! But the day after the race I took off on a rocky cruise vacation where running was all but impossible without Dramamine (damn my inner ear imbalance!), so I focused on strength training instead.

photo 1Roses are red, poems are hard, go to the gym and squat.

When we returned I was happy to hit the bricks again, and maintained that 11-15 mile a week average that I stick to in the non-training months. But I also really liked the feeling I had after my strength training workouts! So in addition to running, I added a few more strength sessions into the rotation each week, working up to 3-4x.

I know I’m stating the obvious when I say this, but all of that strength training has got me feeling super strong! I’m so pleased at how easy it’s become to open the heavy-ass door of my office building every morning, and how little energy it takes to haul multiple grocery bags anymore. But the best part is how great it’s got my knees feeling! That pinchy twinge I get when I try to squat or bend has all but disappeared! Stairs in heels don’t need to be taken one at a time, because my quads are finally (FINALLY!) starting to get that old strength back.

ACL surgery was an eye opening experience, and I’m amazed to see that it’s still teaching me things almost 2 years later. Yes: recovery was hard work – going from 20-ish miles a week to *nothing* for 3 months will seriously kill your strength. But it’s just the bare minimum. Once they get you back up on two legs and release you into the wild, you need to do some serious pushing on your own!
photo 2
In the 2 years since my surgery, without that doctor telling me to do my clamshells every day or the therapist urging me to try one more flight of stairs, I got – for lack of a better word – lazy! I thought “OK, I’m out of therapy, I’m ready to go!” and I jumped right back into running. Sure, I was vaguely aware of the need to incorporate strength training into my routine, but dammit, self-motivation is hard! Especially when my knees were killing me all the time from the rapidly increased mileage.
YES, hindsight is 20/20, and I realize NOW that my knees were achy because I let the weights collect dust, but you live and you learn.
The moral of the story is I’m happy to report that I’m finally feeling more balanced in my fitness routine – without something to train for, I’ve been able to take a break from the stressful “must get the miles in!” anxiety and really focus on strength, and I’m loving every minute of it. How about you? How many days do you strength train when you’re training vs. off-schedule? Let’s compare notes!