NJ Half Marathon Training Week 0

Hey all! I’m currently in the middle of my first week of training for the New Jersey Half Marathon in May, and let’s just say I’m glad I added a few extra runs before the plan officially started:

I’m happy to say that the apocalypse you see up there is all but melted now, just over a week since it happened. Thank goodness, too, because I don’t think I could take trudging over a snow mound 4 feet high just to get to my front gate much longer.

To kick off my training a little early I did a few strength training + 1 mile run double workouts last week at the office gym just to get my body used to moving consistently again. I even surprised myself with a nice steady 3.5 mile run at what now feels like an “easy” pace – and on a treadmill to boot!

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Once the weekend hit, I went into high gear with an hour or so of strength training and cross training on Saturday, followed by my first “long” run on Sunday.

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The spinning, lifting, ab, and leg work I did on Saturday morning was made all the more intense thanks to those nifty little tights you see in the pic up there: Physiclo resistance tights. These babies have built-in resistance bands that add a little extra burn to every workout and make me sweat a little harder than I care to admit. That’s a good thing though, especially when I’m doing strength training!

Sunday morning I woke up to a delightfully sunny day, and did a happy dance when I realized it was almost 60 degrees. 60!! On the last day of January!! After babying a slightly pulled muscle in my back (thanks, over-zealous ab work and old mattress) all morning I decided to make the most of the weather and go for a run down the shore.

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I was so stoked! An hour or more all to myself with my new tunes and the ocean, what a great long run it was going to be! I went out thinking I’d aim for 5 miles, but if I did 4 that would be OK too. I’ve got the NYRR Gridiron 4 Miler next weekend in Central Park, which I plan on racing full out, so part of me is keeping things a little conservative this week.

Yeah, I was evidently SO stoked about this run that I left in a hurry and forgot my headphones at home.

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[sad trombone sound effect]

I had, however, driven more than a half hour to get to my running destination, so I had no choice but to go for it, sans music. Which I HATE. Yes, I know that running is all about connecting with your body and feeling the rhythm and getting into your own thoughts… yeah you know what? I’m kind of tired of my own thoughts. I’m an only child and have spent more time with my own thoughts than I care to admit. Sometimes I like just leaving the headphones at home and feeling it, but not this time.

To make things a LITTLE more bearable, I played a podcast by the hilarious Bill Burr on my iPhone speakers, just loud enough for me to hear, and took off on the boardwalk for my long run.

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It wasn’t exactly the head-clearing, zone-out for an hour and rock the groove kind of run I had hoped for, but it was good. I laughed at Burr’s ridiculousness – and had to turn the volume down when passing families with small children! – but after about 2 miles in one direction I started to feel the boredom creep in. This is usually where my tunes would kick in and carry me over the hump and into my second wind.

Instead of the refreshing boost I’d get with a new song, I instead just shut the podcast down and ran. It was not fun. I sang songs in my head. I bobbed and weaved through increasing crowds (who knew Asbury Park Beerfest was the same day?) and noticed that the lack of energy had affected my pace negatively – I was averaging about 11:49/mile at 3.5 and that made me angry. I knew I was capable of better!

So with the final half mile left before I got back to my car, I took off and breezed past everyone, leaping over crusty snow banks and splashing through puddles at around 9:xx/mile pace, loving the feel of the wind in my face and the cold breeze in my lungs. The sprinting paid off, and I finished at my car just over 4 miles at a much lower average pace, thankyouverymuch!

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I’ll call this Week 0 because while I’m more active than I’ve been in the off season, the workouts aren’t 100% on plan. Tonight is a rest night because I’ve got acupuncture appointment #3 (hooray!) and a run and strength workout scheduled for tomorrow, then a light shakeout run Friday to prep for Sunday’s race.

I’m really excited to see what Central Park has in store for me – my current 4M PR is 45:05 which will be hard to beat especially on those hills, but who knows? I plan on giving it 100% and seeing what I’m capable of.

How about you – how’s your training going? Any races coming up? Let me know in the comments!

 

Make Stuff Happen

I’ll write a full post about last night’s 2nd acupuncture appointment this weekend, but long story short: it was another home run. We started treatment on my knees and while the affects aren’t as immediately as apparent there, he did continue to work on my anxiety and over-eating pressure points, and those two areas of my life still feel like they’re in perfect harmony for the first time in more than a year. It’s a great feeling and I’m looking forward to keeping it up throughout this winter, especially now that we’re about to be hit with a snowstorm that will keep me in my house (where the junk food is) for the next 48+ hours.

After my appointment I went to bed at my normal time and slept so soundly that I didn’t open my eyes again until they popped open at 5:45 all on their own. It was like a switch was flipped and I went from “OFF” to “ON” and I was ready for anything. So I decided that instead of rolling over and fighting to get back to sleep for one more measly hour, I’d go to the gym for one last run before the snow keeps me in the house for the next 48-72 hours.

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Evidently only about 6 other people had the same idea. Nutjobs.

I wasn’t going out for any records with these miles – while not technically junk miles, they were more of a test to see how my knees would fare after their first acupuncture treatment. My doc had warned me that they might still be tender but harmless, so I wanted to see for myself what that meant.

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The earlier the workout, the louder my tights get.

As it turns out, I barely felt a difference at all – at least I experienced no NEGATIVE side effects. I hopped right on my favorite corner treadmill, turned on my tunes (the same random rockin’ playlist from the Joe K 10K) and after only about 3 minutes of warming up, I broke into a smooth 11:32/mile pace and stayed there for 2 solid miles. Not bad!

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The extra time was that silly warm up – I need to remember to stop and re-start to get accurate times on the treadmill!

I could have kept going. I even had about another 10-15 minutes, enough for another mile, but I just couldn’t help myself – the sunrise was too inviting, and I decided to do something different and shake up my routine.

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Could you stare at that and not want to go out and breathe it in??

I hopped in my car, pulled out of the gym and into the park’s parking lot (they’re right next to each other) and drove right to the edge. I parked, walked out to the beach, and just breathed in the frozen air while the sun rose before me.

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It was super cold – about 18 degrees – but I couldn’t help myself. I stood there like a fool for those full extra 10 minutes, smiling the whole time. It felt so good.

It hit me then that I never would have seen this – never would have felt this peace, gotten this fresh air – if I hadn’t gotten up out of bed and moved. I was so tempted to roll back over and sleep another hour. But that’s not what this whole thing is about, is it?

Too often we complain about not having time to make stuff happen. We’re “too” everything. Too tired, too busy… But after riding an emotional roller coaster for the past few months, I’ve realized that the only way to make shit happen is to make it happen YOURSELF.

No one is going to walk up to you with a free hour and tell you to do whatever you want. You need to make the time. Sure, you’re not going to feel like climbing out of bed an hour early. But once in a while, if you push yourself to do something that’s not on the schedule or that takes you off your usual course – even for 10 minutes – you just might surprise yourself.

Joe Kleinerman 10K Race Recap

After my surprisingly awesome acupuncture appointment the night before, I woke up at 3:50AM on the morning of the NYRR Joe Kleinerman 10K feeling refreshed, calm, and energized, even on 5 hours of sleep. This was a HUGE difference from pretty much every other early-morning race day wake up, where I usually feel anxious and exhausted. My calm was even tested when the jar of peanut butter slipped out of my hand while I was making breakfast and completely shattered the dish below it. Where I’d usually freak out and get angry or upset over my own clumsiness, I simply laughed and swept up the million pieces of ceramic and pulled out another dish. Score another point for acupuncture!

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The forecast called for overcast skies and a temp of about 44, but since we were driving into Manhattan, walking/cabbing the 3+ miles to the start, and waiting in Central Park for a total of almost 4 hours outdoors in 30-ish degrees, the word of the day was LAYERS. I went with a light longsleeve shirt under a Brooks lined jacket/windbreaker, along with Nike brushed interior full length tights with Pro Compression socks layered on top of them. And because I’m a maniac, I also wore a Brooks skull cap with a fun printed Greecie Girl headband over it. Because, matching.

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I also started my day with coffee from my spankin’ new Kylo Ren mug. Don’t be jealous. Join the Dark Side. We’ve got Guatemalan Blend and Stevia.

My cousin Heather had offered to drive us all in (thanks, Heck!) and so me, Mike, Meredith and Damian all piled into the newly-christened Kleinerman Kab a little after 5AM (nice naming, Mer!) for a quick ride into Manhattan. Traffic was light and we arrived at around 6AM, then started walking. It was COLD – thankfully because the guys came along, we got to wear winter coats over everything that they’d hold while we ran, but that wind was NO JOKE. After what felt like about 3 miles of warm-up walking, we finally caved and took a few cabs to the start at 102nd Street to spare another few miles. After our cab driver misunderstood me and we took a slight detour, we all arrived at packet pickup at about 7, still with a good hour to go before the start. More wind, more cold, but finally the sky grew lighter and the park got more and more crowded.

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After doing our own pre-race potty breaks, lace-tightening, and other random stuff, we said our goodbyes and headed to the corrals. The New York Road Runners recently switched from a color-coded bib assignment system (sayonara, “slow as crap” Brown bibs!) to an alphabet-based system. And of course that means that Heather and I were in Corral L. For Loser. Or Last. (Speedy Mere headed up to D, rock on Sole Sista!).

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Corral L for “Lonely”. Or “Last”. Or “Loser”. Take your pick.

The corrals started filling up and we prepped for the start  – it was a good sized race of around 5,000 people, which looked really cool at the back of the pack and the top of a hill:

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Once the gun went off and we started shuffling through the corrals, it took us about 6 minutes to get to the starting line, but once we did it cleared out nicely. I started by rocking out to a new mix of music I had just downloaded a few days before – not my usual techno/rock/pop, but some fun differently paced stuff that actually helped take my mind off things and kept me entertained.

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Like this 4-legged mop being walked by his family.

I’ll be honest: the only word I can use to describe miles 1-3 (or the whole race for that matter) is Bliss. For real. I just ran. I smiled, took in the sights, got lost in the feeling of just pounding the pavement, and rolled up and down the hills of Central Park (mostly downhills too, what a great route this was!). Given that I’d just come out of a pretty dark place the past month or two (and hadn’t run that much AT ALL because of it), I was worried that I might be miserable. Those hills aren’t nothing, after all. I’m guessing the acupuncture the night before had something to do with my newfound peace, but who’s to say.

My average running pace was around 11:55, but with walk/water breaks at every aid station I managed to keep a pace of around 12:30 which was A-OK in my book. The total absence of running from my life in the week or two prior to the race wiped any time goals from my plan – I was in it for the experience. And that experience was the best. I took time to admire the skyscrapers that lined the park, focused on the ornate balconies at the very top, imagined hanging out there with a bottle of champagne and watching the race from above. The crowds around me stayed pretty thick (I love the great range of abilities and paces in NYRR races), and the park was starting to get crowded too, which made for good people watching.

That’s not to say I didn’t experience the usual mid-race issues: at Mile 2 I realized one lace was too tight because my foot was numb and cold so I stopped and loosened it. I also realized I’d overdressed by Mile 4 and had to roll my sleeves up. But I just kept on truckin’! By around mile 5 I started to feel a slight fatigue in my ankles and calves, so I took short walk breaks here and there, stretched, got water and took a gel, and felt a new surge of energy for the final mile and change. At 5.75 my new favorite power song randomly clicked on my iPod and I decided to go for it from there.

Who knew Adele could rock so hard??

I lip synced and fist pumped, rocking out with the tune up the final hill and past where we started, actually sad that the race was over. Where I’m usually dying in the final sprint of every race, this one had me legitimately sad that it was ending! Madness, I tell you.

But I pushed through, smiled at all the people cheering us on, coasted down the last hill and into the finish chute at a respectable 1:18:19 (avg 12:37/mile)!

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After finishing I walked through the chute and grabbed an apple from a super enthusiastic volunteer (just another reason I love NYRR races: the people are the best), and chomped on it as I scanned the crowd for my people.

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I prefer my Garmin time to the actual time, but what can you do? 😉

With one earbud still in my ear, I jammed out to my tunes and ate my apple, stretching out my legs and even doing a little dance here and there just because I felt so great. I smiled at the folks who walked past, they smiled back – one even did a little shimmy with me when he caught me dancing! – and I snapped a quick selfie to remember that moment:

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With chipmunk cheeks thanks to a mouthful of apple.

Finally after not seeing my group I texted them and we all met up shortly after, congratulated each other on our finishes, and started the long journey back to the car, talking and laughing and taking in more sights along the way!

All in all it was one of my favorite race experiences yet, in terms of how my mood affected everything and made it all better. The usual pre-race anxiety, mid-race “I suck at this” regret, and post-race rush to go go go just wasn’t there, and made me realize just how much my own mood affects my experiences from start to finish. While it’s easier said than done, I’m going to work harder at being more aware of my mindset, because it makes a huge difference!

Also, I am TOTALLY going back to Central Park to run that same loop just for fun – it was beautiful! 🙂

Cinderella’s New Shoes

You know that saying “the grass is always greener”? Turns out it applies to running shoes too.

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Back in November, I noticed my knees ached after running even shorter distances. The two pairs of trusty Brooks Transcends I rotated (1’s and 2’s) were both getting up there in mileage, after getting one pair in June and the other in July. So I went back to Road Runner and had my gait analyzed, where I discovered that while my Transcends would still be just fine for my over-pronation, their most popular shoe, the Adrenaline, would also work.

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I’d been running in my Transcends for years. They were like a piece of well-loved furniture. Comforting, molded to me, you know how it goes. But I was intrigued by a different style. I had the seven-year itch, but for another pair of sneakers. So I caved and bought the Adrenalines.

The first run was great – this shoe is much lighter than the Transcend, and as a result I felt quicker. But there wasn’t as much cushioning. It felt almost like a pair of well-loved Transcends when all the oomph was gone; not like a hug for my foot, but still comfy. I ran shorter distances for two weeks in them, when suddenly I noticed a new kind of ache after a longer run of 6 miles: my arches were killing me and my calves were tight. With super high arches I’d experienced this before, but never like this. Could it be the shoes?

To test it out, I switched back to my old Transcends for my next run and it was like heaven. The aches and pains disappeared, I ran long and steady, and while my knees were kind of ouchy at the end because they were older shoes, my arches and calves felt like new. That’s what I get for cheating on my old lovers!

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After a few more experimental runs in the Adrenalines vs. the Transcends, I deduced that it was in fact the shoes that were causing me those pains. This is by NO MEANS a knock against Brooks – I’m one of the  brand’s biggest fans and would never think of jumping ship because of this. It just proved to me once again that there is most definitely such a thing as “the right shoe for you”. I’ve heard horror stories from other folks about switching shoes for a cute style or new color only to get sidelined by injury because of the wrong shoe.

So I returned my slightly used Adrenalines (thanks for the full refund, Road Runner Sports!) and went back for good. Because the Transcend 3 is now out and the 2’s gave me a tiny top-of-the-arch issue, the 1’s will forever have my heart. And without knowing what the new style has in store for me, I got 2 pairs of 1’s for the same price as ONE pair of the new 3’s. Bargain shopping for the win!

Have you ever cheated on your perfect shoe before? How did it go?

Training Turning Point

This weekend I was really looking forward to my long run. The week was super stressful and I didn’t get to run as much as I wanted, so I couldn’t wait to pound it out on the pavement. But because I was a little rusty, I went into it with no expectations. I just aimed for the usual super-hilly ~7 mile loop around town for one last solid long run before race day.

So after a good 9 hours of sleep, I set out later Saturday morning in 65-ish degrees and immediately attacked the first hill at mile .5 with a vengeance. As a result, mile 1 clicked by at 10:30 – waaay too fast.

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(I may or may not have been singing along to music at this point)

After mile 2 went a little better at 11:30, I reached the big downhill next to my old middle school – normally I scream down this hill to pick up some speed, but this time I felt like taking a detour so I went up the hill into the school parking lot, did a lap around my old alma mater, and ran down the hill connecting the middle school to the high school, retracing the steps I used to take every day in gym class when we’d march down to the HS track.

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In a moment of perfect timing, Just a Girl came on my ipod, giving me vivid flashbacks to those days 20 years ago when me and my friends would spend our lunch periods doodling “Mrs. Gavin Rossdale” on our bookcovers and leaving notes in our lockers for each other… Ah, 8th grade. I miss you so much.

Once I sailed down the hill and around the high school, I rejoined my usual route and maintained a slower pace for the rest of the run. At mile 4, the mile-long, flat, sunny stretch across town is usually where I start to fall apart, but once I got to the end and turned back around for the final 3 miles back to my car, I felt good. I took a Gu, sipped on water and walked a bit, then attacked mile 5 as ready as ever.

My legs felt strong, calves weren’t tight, knees were relatively happy – this was just the confidence boosting run I needed! I was feeling so good that by the time I neared the street I’d run back up to get to my car, I decided to keep going for the extra ~3 mile loop around the bottom of town and make it an even 10 miles!

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At that point I was averaging about 12:10/mile, and told myself to try to stay there for the last three unexpected miles. I had pushed pretty hard at the beginning of this run, and worried a little that I might fall apart in the final miles, but I kept it together better than expected! At the end of mile 7 I stopped for a good 2-3 minutes to stretch everything – since I hadn’t planned on the extra mileage I felt a little tight – but once I started up again I plodded along at a solid 12:15/pace for mile 8 and most of 9! Not until the end of the final mile did I feel the fatigue in my lower legs, which I’m noticing is creeping up later and later in my runs. So once I hit mile 10, I was so happy to see an awesome pace of 12:19/mile!

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This run was a turning point: I ran more double-digit runs this training cycle than ever before, and I’m feeling more confident in the 10+ range than I have for previous races.

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I also realized that this will be half marathon Lucky #7 in Atlantic City, so I’m taking it as an omen and picked up these fun little socks that I may have to incorporate into my day-of outfit (or if not, at least wear them at the expo the day before)!

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So when it comes to long runs, that’s all she wrote! I’m excited to ease out of full-on training mode this week and into pre-race mode for Sunday. I’ve started stalking the weather and have already begin obsessing over what my race day outfit will be. In short – I can’t wait!

How about you, is your training going well? Did anyone race this weekend? Tell me all about it!