T-Minus 5 Days

When they told me training for a marathon would take a lot of my time, I didn’t realize just HOW MUCH of my time that meant. On top of a very busy season at my day job, running for 2+ hours after work and 3-4+ hours on the weekend leaves me with little time to do things like blog, hang out with friends, and keep up with laundry at home.

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…and painting Star Wars pumpkins for Halloween!

Thankfully, since I hit 20 miles a few weeks ago and began my 3-week taper, my mileage has slowly decreased and allowed me more time to catch up on things.

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PS – 20 miles?? HOLY HELL

Sure, I mostly just end up sleeping instead of doing the things I should be catching up on, but sleep is just as important as running in marathon training (or so I’ve been told).

One thing I’ve been grateful for these past few weeks is that I’ve got sponsors backing me up on this journey. It may seem silly or trivial, but having the support of Altra Running and Poland Spring Brand Water means I can focus less on my sneakers and my hydration plans and more on getting the most out of my training.

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When it comes to my sneakers, I’ve been a die hard Altra fan since I discovered them a year ago, so it’s fitting that I get to rep them as an ambassador. They truly saved my running career after I developed plantar fasciitis along with numbness, burning and pain in my toes. I suffered through the Rock n Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon in severe pain and nearly considered taking a break for a few months. After that race, the pain was nearly constant, no matter what sneakers or shoes I wore. But when I slipped into my Altras – seriously, within MINUTES of slipping into them – the pain subsided, the numbness faded, and I was walking without pain for the first time in weeks, if not months.

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and they’re cute, too!

So I joined the Altra cult and haven’t looked back. I’ve been training exclusively in them and have already broken in and marked up my NYC pair. I’ve been remarkably lucky this entire training cycle to not have any issues with my sneakers like I’ve seen other runners go through. I guess the old saying is true: when you know, you just know.

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And with Poland Spring Brand, I really lucked out: as a major sponsor of the NYC Marathon, they reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in partnering, to which I said sure. While I’m rarely seen without my refillable water bottle, I usually have a big flip-top bottle of Poland Spring Brand on hand for my runs because it’s easier to drink from while running. But, just like I mentioned earlier, refilling my bottles and buying more after I ran out usually ended up at the bottom of my marathon training checklist and I would wind up just filling my reusable bottle with whatever I had on hand, usually the office tap water.

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Enter Poland Spring Brand, with a nearly endless supply of water to help me throughout marathon training. No, really. I have 24-packs everywhere to ensure I never run out: in my car, under my desk at work, in the fridge at home – I’m talking everywhere. These guys have kept me running with fresh tasting water for the past month, and will even be there on race day, at every water stop along the 26.2 mile journey through the 5 boroughs of NYC.

And they haven’t just been there to help me while I’m running; I’ve also been able to up my pre-run hydration game thanks to them, and as a result have seen a huge improvement in my long runs. In the past, I’d heard folks talk about hydrating the day before a long run and thought “I drink water, I’m good.” But once I started keeping track of my hydration and forced myself to drink 2-3 extra bottles a day before a long run, I found myself going faster and farther without fatigue during my long runs. Sure, I also pay attention to what I eat and get lots of sleep and do all the other things they say you need to do, but the hydration makes a huge difference.

See those paces up there? Yeah, I’m shocked too.

So now here I am, having finished my last long run of 8 miles on Sunday (at 11:47/mile!), I’ve got 3 on the calendar today, and I’m ready to take on that marathon. I’ve followed the plan nearly to the letter, I’ve fueled the right way, paid attention to my body and rested when I needed it, and now it’s time to rest and prepare for the victory lap around NYC in 6 days.

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Bring it on, NYC!

NYC Marathon Training Update

Because “I ran, I ran, and I ran some more” gets boring awfully fast – and because I now have a few months of training under my belt and monthly updates are easier – here’s a look by month of how my training has been going!

August

If July was when I built my base, August was when I started to get serious. My training plan had me logging 3 runs between Monday and Friday, and this was the month where I found the right balance. The plan as it’s published has these runs back to back to back, but my body just isn’t built like that. So after a few weeks of burning out and a skipped run or two, I realized I needed to shift some things around to maximize my training time. The result was a solid month of miles – and the end of the piriformis/hip flexor pain I started out with! Total August Miles: 86

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September

In September, my mileage steadily grew to the point where my mid-week runs were up to 9 miles. NINE! Before this whole marathon training thing started, 9 miles used to require a few days of psych-up time and a full Sunday. Now, I bang them out under 2 hours after a full day of work and call it a Wednesday. That fact will never not impress me!

This month I also learned the importance of stretching and strength training. Sure, the hours and hours of running I do each week take up a lot of time, but I’ve learned the hard way that stretching and strength training are non-negotiables. With this being my highest-mileage month EVER, I finished September feeling strong and ready to take on the home stretch. Final September Mileage: 121 miles

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October

While we’re only 11 days into it, October has already started off with a bang, with my highest mileage week ever from 10/1-7 (37 miles). I kicked off the month with an 18 mile run and felt incredibly strong. This weekend I take on my longest run ever, a 20-miler. October will be my hardest month in terms of mileage, but I know the payoff will be worth it!

Training Notes

In general, I’ve hit my training stride. Through trial and error, I’ve figured out the magic formula that works best for me:

  • Sunday long run
  • Monday rest
  • Tuesday first short run
  • Wednesday long mid-week run
  • Thursday rest/cross train
  • Friday 2nd short run
  • Saturday cross train
  • Repeat!

That’s not to say that I haven’t felt the burnout that comes with any training cycle. I’ve only experienced it before in half marathon training, but this is a whole other beast.

There was a moment a few weeks back when things were getting tough. We all have lives outside of running, and mine weighed heavily on me. I broke down one night and wanted to quit everything. I was tired of running, my body hurt. I was over-scheduled and under-rested, and mentally shredded. After mentioning my struggles to my friend Liz, she surprised me a few days later with a beautiful gift that – of course – made me cry:

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It’s crazy what running has brought into my life. The emotions, the friendships, the pride, the tears; sometimes when you’re in the thick of it, it’s easy to lose sight of why you’re doing this. That end goal is pretty hard to see when you’ve got to drag your ass out of bed before the sun for a long run to fit in the rest of your day’s plans, or when you’re at mile 4 of a 9 miler at 7:30pm on a Wednesday and would rather do ANYTHING but spend another hour on that treadmill. I’m running this marathon for a whole bunch of reasons that I forgot in that moment, but I’m grateful for being reminded in the sweetest way possible.

I’m in the thick of Peak Week at the moment, with 10 miles on the schedule tonight. And while it sounds crazy, I look forward to it. It turns out, pushing my body to do things I never thought possible comes with a whole new sense of accomplishment I’ve never felt before. And I know that while this feels pretty incredible, it’ll be nothing compared to how I’ll feel when I finally cross that finish line on November 5th.

Newport Half Marathon Race Recap

After a great experience as a Blog Partner with the Newport 10K in May, I was invited to run the the Newport Half Marathon in September and jumped at the opportunity. Sunday started out muggy and warmer than expected; Mere was running this race with me (well, she finished like 90 minutes before me but you know what I mean) and as we headed into Jersey City we prayed the sun would stay behind the clouds for our race to keep the temps low.

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Spoiler alert: it did!

A note about parking: a big factor in my race decisions is how easy it is to get to. My nerves are already shot enough on race morning, I’m not about to drive myself insane circling a city for a parking spot or navigating a bunch of detours. Anyone who’s driven in northern NJ will tell you that it’s a bitch and a half, so I was skeptical about a race IN Jersey City. But these folks are total pros, and even though we rolled up to the race area a bit later than I wanted, we still managed to get a parking spot in the huge deck very easily thanks to the clearly labeled streets and tons of race volunteers. A++ for that, Newport Half Race Team!

After parking, we stopped at the porta-potties (again, plenty of clean options available, another A+ for the event crew), hung out for a bit, and waited for the start.

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Full disclosure: while waiting, I had a bit of a panic attack. The craziness of the pre-race crowds two days in a row, combined with the lack of sleep and extra physical pressure I had been putting on myself all came to a head and I just wanted out. I didn’t want to be there. I felt itchy all over. My skin burned and my insides churned. I couldn’t catch my breath and I felt like crying. So I sat on the curb while everyone around me chatted and took a few deep breaths to work through it.

I didn’t plan to wait until World Mental Health Day to publish this post, but it’s fitting that I share it now. Anxiety doesn’t always look like hysterical tears or someone hugging themselves and rocking; sometimes it’s a quiet, forced smile or a stoneface when everyone else is laughing. I’m not going to gloss over my mental health issues to paint an unrealistic picture. We need to break the stigma of talking about these things, and I want to help do that, one blog post at a time. So yes, I had a small panic attack before the start. After a few minutes I was able to pull it together and we went on with our morning, but if you ever feel overwhelmed and scared, just know that you’re not alone!

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Once we realized the crowd was moving to the start corrals we headed over with them and seeded ourselves. It was a smaller race so the corrals were about 50 feet apart, which was nice. Mere said farewell and headed to her corral and Mike stayed with me to send me off at the start, and away we went.

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Right away, the humidity was an issue. It was hard to breathe and my muscles were super tight from racing Seaside the day before. I took it slow because I still had the goal of adding miles at the end of the race. But by mile 3, my right calf and ankle felt like they were wrapped in super glue: tight, hot, and angry. So I pulled over to a curb and stretched for a good minute or two – clearly this was not going to be one of those “omg I am so strong!” races. I was OK with this.

After mile 3, I was feeling better, my ankle and calf had loosened up, and even though I was drenched in sweat already, I fell into a groove behind these two girls at my exact pace, who had to be twins – they had nearly identical builds and ponytails, even their gaits were similar.

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I took my first gel at the water stop near 4.5 and finally stopped for a bathroom break at about mile 6 in the park. Then we turned onto the waterfront path at 6.5 and came face to face with Lady Liberty and the NYC Skyline – and I kid you not – Taylor Swift’s Welcome to New York randomly came on my iPod and the run immediately took a turn for the better.

I sang, I danced, I pointed at the skyline – hell, I cried some happy tears – all while running straight for that beautiful city in front of me.

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I’m sure the folks around me thought I was insane, but I didn’t care. Seeing the city was just the refresher I needed to get me through the rest of the race. We curled through the park for another few miles, and about halfway through mile 9 we cruised through a water stop manned by a crew of teens who cheered us on with big smiles. I had to laugh though – as I took my second gel and walked through, one of the teens sitting on the curb nearby shouted to her friend across the course, “Oh my god, my legs are SO TIRED!” to which I replied without thinking, “YOUR legs are tired???” She immediately blushed and covered her face and laughed with everyone around her – “I’m sorry!! I mean I ran yesterday so I’m sore! But you’re running so much more than me, you’ve got this!!” It’s always fun to interact with the volunteers 🙂

Around mile 10.5 as we neared the city again, I started to feel some twinge-y pains in my left ankle, possibly from overcompensating for the sore right ankle earlier in the run? Either way, I slowed down a lot here, and even stopped to fish a rock out of my shoe at one point. Then just before mile 11, we turned the corner where a small group of spectators stood. A woman was there with an older woman and a younger guy, and she was holding a sign that said “Almost there!” Of course, I laughed and said with a smile, “You’re not allowed to say that until Mile 13!”

Well, apparently this woman had enough of being heckled by runners the whole race, because she immediately snapped back at me in a super-nasty tone: “IT’S AN INSIDE JOKE.”

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excuse me??

I laughed in her face and waved her off. Um, an inside joke with who? One of the thousands of runners out here on the course with me? How about if you don’t like the comments you’re getting, you put that sign down until this inside joker of yours passes by, and you keep that sourpuss to yourself, mmkay?

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ANYWAY, it was right about then that Formation came on my ipod and I kicked it into gear for the final 5K. I texted Mike to let him know I was about a half hour away and took off at my now slower pace to keep that tender ankle from rolling. At mile 12 we hit the waterfront and cruised along there for the final mile and a half, and I crossed the finish line at 13.5 miles in a semi-decent time for a training run on tired legs.

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Overall it was a perfect course and a well-organized race, just like the 10K. If you’re looking for a nice flat half marathon with pretty views (and a medal, too!), definitely check this one out.

Back to Back Race Weekend

Because they were both such awesome experiences, I’m going to write individual race recaps for each of the races I ran back in September, but first I want to talk about racing in back to back events in one weekend: in a word, it was challenging.

On Saturday the 16th, I headed down to Seaside, NJ for the 4th running of the Seaside Semper Five 5K. After what happened at the race last year, there was no way I was missing this one. Even though I had 16 miles on the training schedule the next day, I figured I’d go and walk it, just to participate.

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So we fought through the crowds and Mike and I met up with our friends Liz and Jess and Ed (Liz and Ed ran it, Jess hung back with Mike) and after BSing at the start for a bit, the gun went off. And of course my competitive streak came out and I ran. I mean RAN. It wasn’t my hardest effort, but I really pushed more than I probably should have.

The next day, I woke up again at about 4:30am for the Newport Half Marathon with the goal of adding 1.5 miles before and 1.5 miles after for my 16 NYC Marathon Training Miles.

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Well. Let’s just say that after my 2nd 4:30aM wakeup in a row, coupled with another crazy crowd of people, 90% humidity and tired legs all combined to make it not my best idea. I ended up having a minor anxiety attack before the start. I started out feeling OK but my right calf was super tight by mile 3. I really felt the burn by mile 10. At mile 12 this sharp pain in my left ankle caused me to slow down even more to avoid injury. By the time I finished, I was DONE with a capital D. Those other 3 miles were not happening.

And guess what? THE WORLD DIDN’T END.

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Shocking, right??

In the past, I’ve been so super strict with myself about THE PLAN that missing a few miles here or there would send me into a tailspin of anxiety and self-doubt. 13 miles instead of 16 means the next week’s 12 miler would be another shorter run and the next week I have to do 18 and jump from 13 to 18 and I CAN’T DO THAT!

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Once the crazy lady in my brain calmed down (and I got out of the ice bath after that half marathon), I realized: I still did a LOT that weekend. All told, I DID the 16 miles. Sure, I ran them over 24 hours, but I still ran them. And there’s always time to make up those miles. So I made the decision to listen to my exhausted body and mind, called it at 13 for the weekend and picked up at 16 the following weekend. And it was fine! I’m now at 18 miles and feeling groovy, ready for my 20 miler in a few weeks, and those 3 missing miles didn’t kill me!

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So yes, I ran back to back races in one weekend. No, I would not do it again. Or if I did, I’d be sure to take it super easy (I’m talking walking) during the pre-long run event. I’m simply not at the point in my fitness where I can race one day and go for 3+ hours at nearly 90% power the very next day. The marathon training process is teaching me a lot of things. I’ve learned that I’m capable of a lot of incredible things, like running 18 miles with a huge blister and not stopping. But it’s also teaching me what I’m not capable of, which is just as important.

Running and Doubt (and my NEW Longest Run Ever)

This past weekend, I had 15 miles on the calendar and BOY was I looking forward to it. I hydrated well in the days leading up to the run. I spent the day before walking and relaxing down in LBI. I got a lot of sleep that night. Because I wanted a change of scenery (and the boardwalk bathrooms are still open), I decided to take my run to a new venue down the shore. My plan was to park at my usual starting spot, go 5 miles in one direction, 5 back, then continue on for 2.5 then back for my 15 total.

So I got down to the shore and took off in one direction for about 4 miles… before I ran out of boardwalk. I’m sure I could have probably explored a little more and gone into town for a bit until I picked up the boardwalk in the next town, but instead, I ran up the side street for half a mile then back down to the boards again for my 5.

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Fun Fact: at Mile 5, I stopped for a stretch on the sidewalk. When I realized I’d shorted myself on this turnaround and I’d need to make up that extra .5 somewhere down the line, I let out a breath and f-bombed the frustration out in one long, loud groan. But when I stood up, that’s when I saw the tiny girl at her Hurricane Irma Relief Lemonade Stand staring at me from across the street in a perfect recreation of the wide-eyed-person emoji:

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She made the face. Then I made the face. And then I ran across the street and threw my five sweaty singles into her basket and thanked her for the awesome thing she was doing and basically bought her silence on the matter. And I didn’t even take any of her lemonade or cookies.

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Anyway, once I got back onto the boardwalk for miles 5-15, I found a BRUTAL headwind coming from the north. After about 2 miles, I started to flag. I walked a bit. My music wasn’t doing it for me anymore. I accidentally stopped my watch (!!!!) at like 6.16 miles and threw off my whole mileage count for the rest of the run. I tried doing mental math and said OK, start the watch again and just go 8.84. This is easier said than done when there are turnarounds involved.

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By the time I got to new mile 4 (really mile 10), I stopped at my car to refill my water and reapply sunscreen. Apparently that was the wrong thing to do, because the last 5 miles were THE WORST. With my new math, I’d told myself I just had to go until my watch said 6.5 and turn around. So I put my head down and went. I was so delirious that when I hit 5, I sighed in relief and thought OK, just a half left – but then I realized I’d said 6.5, and that was it – I started to cry.

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I pulled over, sat on a bench, and cried behind my sunglasses like a big baby. I said some mean things to myself. Discouraging, nasty things that I never would have said out loud to anyone else. A marathon is impossible, I have no right to claim I could even attempt that distance, etc. But after a few minutes of hating on myself, I knew I still had to finish the run, so I went about another half mile before I gave up entirely on that direction due to the crazy crowds, and turned around for the final 2.5 mile stretch.

While 2.5 miles seems like nothing right now, I couldn’t imagine going for that long. Not because my body couldn’t do it; the soles of my feet burned but other than that I was physically FINE. It was my mental game that had fallen apart, and there was no getting it back in order.

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I switched on my power playlist and took a bunch of walk breaks, shooting my pace to hell (in my mind). By the time I got to the car, I lapped the block I parked on over and over to get to 15, unlocked the car, got into the driver’s seat, and cried. And this time I didn’t try to hide it. I just put my head on the steering wheel and let it out. I was disappointed in myself, plain and simple.

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I posted some videos to my Instagram stories that day in the moment, and received a LOT of love from you guys there. I really appreciate that, truly. You have no idea how reassuring it is to know that I’m not the only one who’s had doubts and bad runs and all the negative stuff that comes with this process.

Upon reflection, I  know that I CAN RUN 15 MILES. I just ran 14 a few weeks ago and felt unstoppable. This is a fact, that I can physically take on these distances. But once I told myself I couldn’t do it, I knew it to be true in that moment. That Henry Ford quote really is true: “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.”

While I’m disappointed in what a flop that run turned into, I’m determined to learn from it and grow. I’ve slightly increased my strength training to keep every part of me strong, not just my legs. Last night I ran the 4 on my schedule even though I was still sore and slow. This run was proof that I need to work on my mental game as much as the physical part of it, and I’m not going to fail in that.

Newport Half Marathon, Here I Come!

Because I have the NYC Marathon coming up in less than 8 weeks…

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… I’ve purposely kept my racing schedule down to a minimum. This time last year I’d run more than a handful of races in all distances while leading up to my October half marathon, but that was because adding shorter distances while training wasn’t too big of a deal for me then. What was a 5K the day after a 6 mile long run, right?

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Fast forward to this summer, when I realized my marathon training plan would have me doing double digits nearly every weekend from August-October, and suddenly the idea of adding a 5K or 10K before or after didn’t seem so appealing.

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That’s not to say I’m completely bereft of races from now through November 5th; I could never miss the Seaside Semper Five on September 16th (especially after what happened last year), so I’m running that.

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I was a little wary of adding anything more though, because the next day I have 16 on the calendar. It will be my longest run to date, and while I just had a super successful 14 miler a few weeks ago, the thought of doing 3.1 before it is a little scary.

But when the folks at the Newport Racing Series reached out to me to see if I wanted to run the Newport Half Marathon the next day on 9/17, I jumped at the opportunity: I had a fantastic time at the Newport 10K back in May, and knowing how well the race would be organized (and being familiar with at least half of the course!), I would be thrilled to use the half marathon as a training run in the lead up to my marathon. Thirteen point one miles of cheering spectators, beautiful views, and aid stations on my long run? Meaning I only have to run 3 miles on my own afterwards for my 16 total?

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Yes, please!

So I’m super stoked to be running the Newport Half Marathon and can’t wait to nail my mileage with the help of a few thousand friends and spectators. Plus I get a medal at the end of it; how many long training runs give you a medal? Uhm, none, I think. So yeah.

It will be kind of weird knowing that everyone else is out for blood during the race while I plod along at my marathon goal pace to keep my legs fresh. I’m definitely going to force myself to walk most of the 5K the day before to really give it my best shot and not show up to the starting line completely shredding, but I won’t be gunning for time or a new PR at this race at all. It’s fast, flat, and a beautiful course, and I plan on just enjoying every step of those 13 (er, 16) miles.

What do you think: Have you ever used a race as part of your training? Would you consider it? Let’s hear it in the comments!

My Longest Run Ever!

This weekend, I hit a huge milestone not just in my NYC Marathon training, but in my running career: I finally broke my half marathon “curse” and ran 14 miles, my longest distance ever!

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Let’s rewind and talk about how it went down.

Going into this past weekend, I knew I had 13 miles on the schedule, but I decided to go 13.5 to break through the 13.1 stigma. With the past few weeks of hip flexor and piriformis rehab I’ve been doing with my chiropractor, on top of strength training I’m doing 2-3x a week, I was ready to run my longest run ever.

Having learned from past mistakes, I prepped for this run like I would a race: I hydrated well, laid off dairy and cheese, and upped my carbs the few days before the run. And the day before, I stayed active and walked my 10,000 steps on a visit to the local “zoo”, but didn’t overdo it.

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goats and horses being friends ❤

I had my plain pasta with simple marinara sauce and grilled chicken and my one glass of wine for my pre-run dinner.

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I even treated myself to some popcorn at the movies that night (PS – go see Logan Lucky, it was hysterical!)

The morning of, I had decided to stick to the treadmill because of an iffy stomach (thanks, IBS) and headed out to the Y. Because this was going to be a half marathon, I decided to try something different and brought some pretzels in addition to my usual chocolate Honey Stinger gels. This turned out to be a fantastic idea that I’m going to be using in all of my long runs going forward!

Miles 1-5 were a breeze, thanks to a random assortment of new music and some idle mind wandering. I took 60-second walk breaks at miles 2 and 4 (with a gel at 4), then stopped the treadmill at mile 5 to stretch for a few seconds and refill my water bottle before starting again for miles 5-8. My average pace was in the 11:45 range, which was right on target to keep me from re-injuring my hip but staying confident and comfortable.

I checked my Instagram during one walk break and saw that my friends Tiffanie and Carlos had both rocked their awesome long runs (of 14 and 20 miles, respectively!) ALSO on treadmills, and decided then and there that I was going for the full 14 too. It was time to do big, scary things!

So I walked again at miles 6 and 7, then stopped the treadmill at 8 when I felt some burning on the arch of my right foot that I didn’t want to turn into a big honking blister. So I stopped, took my sock off and applied some anti-chafe gel, popped 3-4 pretzels, watered up and started once more for miles 8-11. My goal was to finish this 4 mile chunk with just about a 5k left, to mentally make it easier to handle. This strategy worked – and the pretzels worked so well as fuel that I didn’t need to take my second gel until my final stop at mile 11!

I switched from music to YouTube videos in the last few chunks, and let me tell you – video as a distraction is fanTAStic. I learned this in earnest last week when I had to do my long run of 9 miles on the treadmill after work on Monday and watched Moana on Netflix for the first time. I was shocked to see how easy it was to run while watching a movie I’d never seen before, especially one as entertaining as Moana. Although it’s hard to run while crying (damn that stingray spirit guide and soaring musical score)! For this long run, however, I opted for some more physically inspiring videos: here are some of my favorites.

Anyway, I rounded out the run with the final 3 miles and felt strong straight through til the final mile, where I cranked up the intensity to finish strong. By the time I finished though, I was so sweat-soaked that I had no moisture left for the happy tears I wanted to shed!

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I was shocked to see my average pace hovered near my best Half Marathon PR pace – although I stopped my watch for those treadmill refreshes, I probably only added about 5-6 minutes to my time total, which I’ll take.

All in all this was a huge confidence boosting run for me. I mean, I KNOW I’m running the NYC Marathon in November. But in the back of my mind, that teeny tiny little sesame seed of doubt lay dormant: you’ve never run more than 13.1 miles. You’ve tried this before and failed. You’ll fail again.

With yesterday’s strong performance, I proved to myself that I WON’T fail again; that I’m stronger both mentally and physically this time, and that I’m ready to take on the rest of my training and rock all 26.2 of those miles on November 5th.

Listening to Your Body in Marathon Training

If my ACL reconstruction in 2013 taught me anything, it’s how to listen to my body. Since then, I’ve been lucky to remain relatively injury-free. Sure, I’ve had minor twinges here and there that have sidelined me for a few days, but knock on wood, I’ve managed to figure out a training plan that works for me and have grown consistently stronger with each training cycle.

But back in November/December, when I started to up my overall mileage in preparation for the Rebel Challenge in Disney in January, I noticed that the little twinge I would sometimes feel in my right hip and butt cheek had turned into a burning, achy mess. It would usually start when I increased my mileage and while it didn’t hurt too much during a run, it would make me wince when I simply tried to step up a curb after a run. It was not a good look. But I learned how to manage it, with rest and foam rolling and OH SO MUCH STRETCHING.

Throughout the past 8 months or so, the pain has flared up 4-5 times. And each time I’ve just taken a day or two extra rest, stretched it to oblivion, and have returned good as new on my next run. But it’s annoying! Cut to this past weekend when I took on 12 miles for my latest long run, and that pain returned at around mile 4 with a vengeance.

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But I stuck it out and finished strong, and stretched for almost an hour. It didn’t feel TOO bad after that, but when I woke up on Monday, it was bad. I knew I’d probably have to take another day off this week, and I was fed up. Finally, I caved and decided to see the chiropractor that my sis-in-law Mere has been recommending to me for months (sorry for not listening to you sooner, Mere!!).

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This guy is GOOD. He was a USA Olympic Team chiropractor in 2004 & 2006, and his specialty in Sports Medicine is exactly the kind of expertise I need. Some doctors will simply say “stop doing that thing” which we as runners know is impossible. But a doctor with a sports background will help fix the issue and work with you so that you can KEEP doing that thing, but in a pain-free, non-injuring way.

And at about 48 hours since my first appointment, I’m surprised at how good it’s feeling already! The official issues are my hip flexor and piriformis, and he’s already started working on squeezing and zapping them back into shape. I go back Friday (tomorrow) and while I’m a little bummed he told me not to run until then, I can understand his logic: this first time, because he’s beating me up on the table on top of me pounding it for 12+ miles, we need to let it heal as much as possible to start from square one again.

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Until then, it’s just me and my iced tea and vodka in a Jar Jar cup (or a “Sad-tini” as I’ve dubbed it).

The last time I was told not to run, I was bitter and angry and wanted to run ASAP. But this time, I’m taking a more zen approach to the whole thing: sure, 3-4 days off now sucks, but if it takes 3-4 days of no running to keep me running injury-free for another 4+ months – and it gets me across the finish line of the NYC Marathon?! – I’ll gladly sit here and take the rest.

I’m getting older, and I know my body won’t be able to do the things that I want it to do forever. So when something feels wrong or off, I listen to the signals and take care of the little issues before they become big ones. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but I know it’ll be worth it in the long run.

How about you: Have you ever seen a chiropractor? What’s your body trying to tell you? Do you think I could market the Sad-tini to other non-running Star Wars fans?

 

NYRR/Front Runners Pride Run & NYC Pride March

For Throwback Tuesday (which is a thing now that I’ve just made it up), let’s take a little trip back to June, when I ran the NYRR/Front Runners Pride Run 5 Miler in Central Park with my friend Kevin – and then returned to Manhattan for the Pride March the following day!

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Kevin has been by my side for a lot of training this year, so I was stoked when he wanted to do this race with me. After having such a great experience last year, I really wanted to share it with someone, and while it wasn’t as… DRY as last year, it was even more fun because I ran with a friend.

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As we waited for our 5:32AM train, the rain started coming down hard. No worries, we thought – we’ve got like 3 more hours! It’ll pass by then. Hm. Well, two hours later when we emerged from the subway, it was still pouring. We ran across the street and into bib pickup, then hid under a tree with the thousands of other people who also weren’t prepared to hang around in pouring rain for an hour waiting for the race to start.

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The only pre-race photo I was able to take through the plastic bag I stashed my phone in!

It was kind of miserable – and because we were drenched to the bone, our cameras had to stay hidden too, so we don’t have many photos – but once it was time for us to line up in our corrals, the rain slowed to a drizzle and we were grateful for the cooling effect of running while wet.

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We went out to have fun with this one. It was Kevin’s first NYRR experience, and first time running in Central Park, so we played a fun game where he’d ask me what hill was coming up next and how long it was going to be, then he’d curse at me for not lying to him. Harlem Hill was especially fun. Sorry, Kevin!

But we hit a good rhythm of running and stopping for walk breaks when we needed them. This race is always a good time – everyone is so chatty and friendly on the course, and we made lots of “hi-bye” friends who shared in our uphill struggles and water-break euphoria. By the time we got to Mile 4, we realized the end was near and picked up the pace for a strong finish with blue skies.

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After we picked up our new race shirts, we snooped around for something to eat, realized we (okay, me) were chafing, and headed home. We needed our rest after all – we had been invited by our friend Stephen to ride on a float in the NYC Pride March the next day!

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Stephen – aka Lady Champagne Bubbles – is not just a fabulous performer. He’s also worked hard to earn a bunch of letters after his name (MSN, MBA, RN) and works at the NYU Langone Medical Center as Care Manager and co-chair of the LGBTQ+ Advisory Council. When he invited us to ride on the NYU float that he’d also be performing on, I strapped on my rainbow fanny pack and jumped aboard – and it was SO MUCH MORE EPIC than I ever could have imagined.

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My heart is still so full when I think back on it. The music was loud, the hugs were strong, the people were beautiful and the love was real. When this world gets dark, I will remember that day and know that love is love is love – and no narrow mind can change that.

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We partied through the streets for hours, waving our flags and singing along with the crowds that lined the sidewalks the whole way.

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By the time we entered the Village, the crowds were so thick and loud that I had nearly lost my voice screaming and cheering with them. When we passed the Stonewall Inn, I couldn’t help but get choked up.

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The LGBTQ Rights Movement has always been close to my heart, but participating in the March and sharing the love with everyone in NYC really took it to the next level. Seriously, I lost count of how many times I looked at Kevin or Stephen and just said “Thank you!” It was an incredible experience that I won’t ever forget.

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tired post-Pride subway riders ❤

NYC Marathon Training Update

I feel like every tenth post I write should start with an auto-disclaimer: I know I’m a terrible blogger and it’s been more than a month since my last post. But I promise I’ve got some good stuff to share and I’ll try to be more regular! 🙂

So when we last left off, I’d taken a nasty spill on the trail (ok, on the sidewalk getting TO the trail) and developed an infection as a result, which put me out of commission for 10 days. When I returned, I was worried that my lack of training would set me back in a big way, but I was wrong.

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I hit the trails on Day 10 and nailed an easy 5K in 10:57/mile and felt fantastic. Having to take 10 days off really made me appreciate being able to run, and I jumped right in with both feet.

The next day, Thursday, June 15th, I jumped in a bit TOO hard and raced the Corporate Fun Run 5K with my company for the second year in a row – and ran my very first sub-30 5K!

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I’ll admit that the course was a tad short, but there have been SO many times where I missed a PR because a course ran long, so I’m taking it.

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We had a great time – in addition to coworkers, the race directors invited family and friends and clients to participate, so Mere was able to run this one with u! She nailed 2nd Female Overall and helped us get First Female Team overall, too!

Unfortunately, after pounding the pavement 2 days in a row after taking so much time off (and REALLY pushing it in the final mile for that PR during the race), I woke up Friday with a very tender hip. This is a minor issue I developed back while I was training for the second Disney race weekend earlier this spring. I learned how to take care of it with lots of different stretches and foam rolling religiously, so after taking an extra few active rest days with biking and stretching and yoga, it felt better relatively quickly and I was able to continue NYC Marathon training in earnest.

Instead of being All Caps Abbi with every run (where my Broad City fam at?) I’m forcing myself to run a bit slower to avoid re-injuring it, and I’m feeling very strong as a result.

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My training plan has me doing three shorter runs Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday, taking off Friday, doing cross training and a shakeout mile on Saturday, then running long Sunday. The only time I ran into an issue was with my mental game during my first double digit run of this cycle:

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It was a tough 10 miler. A touch of food poisoning kept me up til 1am the night before, so I slept in and felt good when I got up, but by mile 6 my body (and mind) were ready to quit.

Too often I’ve quit early on long runs because my body felt tired and I don’t like seeing my pace suffer from walk breaks. But with marathon training I’ve made a deal with myself: it’s not about pace, it’s about distance. No matter how I have to cover the miles on those daunting long runs, I’m going to cover them, pace be damned.

So when I wanted to quit at mile 6 on this run, I pictured myself at mile 22 of the NYC Marathon and realized there’s no way I’d quit THAT race with just 4 miles to go. So I kept going. And while I walked a lot, I still finished all 10 miles (the final mile was the fastest!) and I strengthened my mental game at the same time. It was a great learning and growth opportunity, and I look forward to many more throughout this training cycle!

After that 10 miler, I’ve managed to stay consistent, and rocked a solid 9 miler over this weekend. My mid-week runs will start to grow in distance as of this week, and I’m especially looking forward to doing the NYRR Long Marathon Training Run this coming weekend – 2 loops around Central Park in July heat and humidity is going to be a real test, but I need some hill and outdoor training- and Mere is coming with me, yay!

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Sister-in-law running fun at the Spring Lake Five ❤

So now that we’re caught up on my training, I promise I’ll try to be more consistent – I’ve got a few races to recap, along with some other fun surprises in the works, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, tell me: How’s your training going? Do you have a latent hypercompetitive streak like me and All-Caps Abbi?