Flashback Friday

Now that I’ve caught you up on all the great races I completed at the Disney Dark Side Challenge and the Newport 10K, let’s take a trip through the rest of my recent running (and non-running) adventures, through pictures, shall we?

My first workout after the Dark Side Challenge was a strong one, with a bunch of strength training, a solid bike ride, and a mile time trial in under 10 minutes!

The following week I celebrated May the Fourth by surprising my coworkers with a pop-up Tosche Snack Station, followed by a solid 4 miles and a night of Star-Wars themed painting and wine at Pinot’s Palette with my friend Jenny!

Following the Newport 10K, instead of jumping right back into training hardcore, I’ve been listening to my body and have taken it relatively easy. I even let myself go wild with a whole bag of popcorn to myself on Mother’s Day when me and mama celebrated by seeing Snatched together!


hanging with our girls Goldie and Amy 😉

My “downtime” isn’t really much different from training, I just cut back on distance during the week and add some weight training to maintain my strength. This time around I’m also doing some slightly longer runs of 6+ to keep my legs conditioned for when I start back up on double digits.

This week I ramped things up with 3 workouts in a row from Tuesday-Thursday (run/Xtrain/run) and the downtime has apparently paid off: my 5K time Tuesday shocked me in a good way, and last night I crushed 5 miles unexpectedly at a solid negative split effort:

Now it’s Friday, my official Rest Day (TM) and I’m hydrating and looking forward to a bunch of happy miles on the trails and treadmill this weekend.


How about you: what running plans do you have this weekend? Let’s hear it in the comments!

Not My First Rodeo (er, Full Marathon)

Fact: I will be running my first marathon at the 2017 TCS NYC Marathon this November.

Fact: I will start training officially for this marathon sometime in May or June of this year.

Also fact: This is NOT the first time I’ve started training for a full marathon.


I know. Shocker.

But it’s true: I signed up for the Atlantic City Marathon back in 2014 and had to drop down to the half after injuring myself during training and basically losing my mental toughness as a result of said injury.


I’m not proud of this; in fact I don’t talk about it a lot because I’m still kind of upset by it. I’d be lying if I say that redemption isn’t like 80% of why I’m ready to attack NYC later this year.

But I’m writing about it today because it’s real. If we’re all honest with ourselves, I bet you’ve experienced something similar in your life. I want to share my story so you realize you’re not the only person to set a big scary goal and not achieve it. And just because you don’t achieve it on the first try doesn’t mean it will never happen.

[just imagine a fun “never say never” gif that DOESN’T involve Justin Bieber, because I didn’t realize that’s like his phrase now]

While scrolling through my archives, I found this post about training for my first full marathon, and at first I was upset – seeing my old posts about marathon training bum me out. They remind me that I set up a huge scary goal for myself and I failed at the goal. Runners knee in both knees, calf strains, failed long runs and a few illnesses along the way all caused me to postpone my goal and that hurt. I can still remember crying on the phone with my friend as I told her I couldn’t do it. But I ALSO remember the relief I felt in finally saying it out loud: I wasn’t going to run the marathon.


And while I didn’t run 26.2 miles, I gained a LOT of knowledge about myself (which I went into in greater detail in this post). Long story short, I discovered that I should want to run the marathon for myself, not for other people. And in getting there, I learned how to listen to my body, how my anxiety affects my training, how to manage that anxiety, and so much more.

I wasn’t ready to cross that finish line in 2014 for a number of reasons, both physical and mental. But the training I DID accomplish, and the lessons I learned as a result, taught me how to prepare on all fronts.


And now I’m ready: ready to train, ready to fight, ready to push myself, ready to be scared. But above all, I’m really ready to cross that finish line and accomplish a goal it’s taken me nearly 4 years to accomplish.

How about you: what have you learned in setting big scary goals for yourself? Have you ever had to defer your dream? Let’s talk!

My 2017 Racing Schedule

2017 is shaping up to be pretty awesome, I’ll have you know! I know it was semi-official because I had run the 9 races and volunteered at 1 to earn my guaranteed entry through the NYRR’s 9+1 Program, but now that the applications have opened and I’ve paid the entry fees and received my confirmation email, I can officially say it:


I’m running the 2017 NYC Marathon!


I’m quite excited. Also terrified. But more excited than terrified. At least right now I am. Ask me again when I’ve got to run 16-18-20 milers in the dead of summer.

Things are going well post-Rebel Challenge. During my first workout back, the Wednesday after the half, a one mile run was easy-peasy. But when I jumped back on the treadmill after a bathroom break my knee was NOT having it. I took to the bike for another 7 miles instead, tried another mile after that, and still had pain. So I rested it for another 3 days and tried again Sunday. I already made peace with taking all the recovery time I need, and it paid off because Sunday’s run was de-licious.


I felt a slight bit of pain in the first mile, but not as strong as I had Wednesday. I pushed through, focused on my form, and by mile 2.5 I was feeling unstoppable. I was able to negative split and even finished the final .5 at a 9:50/mile pace (!!!) without the knee pain when I was done. After a generous stretching and rolling session and more rest for the remainder of the day, I’m still pain free today. Safe to say my speed is back, my confidence is back, and I’m ready to take on what the rest of the year has in store for me!

Speaking of which…


I also upgraded my Dark Side Half Marathon registration in Florida to the entire Dark Side Challenge! So once again, I’ll be taking on 19.3 miles, this time through Disney World! Also, Mike is tapping out and my mom will be accompanying me on this adventure instead, so we’ll even get a little girls’ weekend action in there as well. I can’t wait!


Pictured: my mom and I and two new friends we’ll make in Disney, I guess.

With that news, though, comes a bit of a bummer as well: I’ve officially deferred my New Jersey Half Marathon entry from 2017 to 2018. The NJ Half is the Sunday after the Dark Side Challenge, and knowing now how my body recovers from 19.3 miles of racing + all the extra time walking in the parks, I’m not about to race back to back weekends and wreck my knees right before jumping into training for NYC. Some folks might be able to bounce back faster and are better conditioned to take on the challenge of racing back to back weekends, but I know my limits. So see ya in 2018, NJ Half – and hello, two runDisney Challenges in one year!


Fun Fact: Doing both Star Wars Half Marathons in both parks in one year earns me this gorgeous bling: the Kessel Run Challenge Medal! How stinking fun is that?! I already know what my half costume is going to be, but I get to be a little more fun with the 10K… what to do, what to do…? ::insert evil laugh here::

How is your spring shaping up? Have you ever had to defer a race? 

How Bootcamp is Changing My Game

Since the reality finally hit me that I will be running 19.3 miles over 24 hours in less than 6 weeks (and 26.2 miles around the City of New York in less than 12 months!), I’ve decided to step up my fitness game, one month at a time.

This month, I joined Bulldog Strength and Conditioning for a month of bootcamp/ Crossfit-style classes, with the goal of upping my overall endurance and strength training game in the home stretch before my next half marathon and spring race season.


My friend Kevin found this place about a month ago to get us ahead of the holiday weight gain by taking a drop-in class the Saturday after Thanksgiving with our friend Angela. I’ll admit: I was hesitant. I’ve done a few month-long boot camp style memberships at other gyms and while they were good workouts, I wasn’t a fan of their mentality and sometimes condescending attitudes. In some cases, the instructors cared more about socializing with the members than helping them get a good workout. Too often I’d see people sacrifice form for time and just flail around without the personal attention they should have been getting for $150+ a month – or worse, they’d get injured!

Having an injury-prone body to begin with, I like to focus on form and doing things the right way for the maximum benefit and to keep myself healthy. And it’s important to me that if I’m working with trainers, I make a personal connection with them about my fitness history and don’t feel too intimidated to ask them for help. So I went into this class with a grain of salt. But from the beginning, the owner Keith was super helpful – asking me about where we found him, what our goals were, what we were currently doing to stay active, etc. When I brought up running, he was psyched to hear about my plans for a half in January and asked me smart questions. Before we even started, I was impressed.

The class size was small; about 10 people, which was great – no crowding, plenty of time for personal interaction, and room to move. We kicked things off with a warm up that included 200M sprints, and Keith and his co-trainer were quick to point out that I should find this part easy, calling me out in front of the class – this was fun! After the warm up, they started cranking some old Alice in Chains and Nine Inch Nails music to get us into the groove, and we were off onto interval training, two workouts that we repeated two times each. The moves seemed simple at first, but after one minute on and only 15 seconds to move to the next workout, we were MOVING. My one friend had to tap out because it was so intense, and I don’t blame her – I had to pause a few times to keep my breakfast from coming up to make an appearance!


After just over 40 minutes, we finished completely spent, sweaty and shaking, and I was hooked. I hadn’t pushed myself like that in months, and it felt great. I’ve been so scared of overdoing it and not being able to run that I’ve been shortchanging myself. No more.

On the spot I decided to commit to a month with Keith and his crew. But because he’s a smart businessman and a good trainer, he was open to discussion. He understood that I couldn’t commit to a full 5x/week schedule simply because the gym is 30+ minutes away and I need to spend more time running for now, and was able to work with me on a plan that fits my schedule and my budget.

Last night I took my first class of the month and I already can’t scratch my nose without that soreness in my arms and shoulders – and I screamed when a sneeze earlier this morning made my abs work unexpectedly. But I’m pumped to see where these workouts take me in my running. Tomorrow I’ve got 7 miles to run, and another class Sunday.

It’ll be a tough schedule to stick to this month to get all of my miles in AND reap the benefits of a month of bootcamp too, but I’m committed. If I’m going to do this 26.2 thing, I’ve got to do things I’ve never done before and work harder than I ever have in any training cycle – but I’m ready!

Preparing For Marathon Mania (When You’re Not a Marathon Runner)

I don’t know about you, but every fall, I find myself getting swept up in marathon madness. It seems like everyone and their mothers are training for and running marathons, while me and my bum knees are sitting over here like “I’m running 13 miles, wheeee!”


I know, a half marathon is nothing to sneeze at. It’s a huge accomplishment, and I take it 100% seriously. Hell, it’s the longest distance I can [barely] manage, of course it’s awesome! But when you see those troopers out there clocking runs of 15, 18, 20+ miles, sometimes it’s hard not to feel all the (running-related) things.

Take me for example: having tried and failed training for a full marathon a few years back, I have a love/hate relationship with the marathon. As I scroll through my feeds and chat with full-running-friends, I flip flop almost hourly between runner envy (damn I wish my knees and my brain could let me run that far!) and runner schadenfreude (pfft, you won’t catch me running 20+ miles, that’s more than 5 hours!). But I know better than to say “never”, because I said that after my first 5K 4 years ago even though everyone told me I’d get hooked, and look at me now, with a blog about running and everything!


Anywho, suffice it to say that the fall racing season is always filled with lots of conflicting emotions for me. So this year, I’m doing a few things to curb the marathon mania before it hits me.

First, I’m loading up my calendar with lots of other races to get my fix while not putting my poor joints on overload. As of today, I’ve got shorter distance races on 9/6, 9/13, 9/19, 9/26, and 10/31, a triathlon on 9/20, and a half marathon 10/18, with more in the works in October. So believe me when I say it: I’ll be running plenty.


(you have NO IDEA how long I’ve been waiting to use this guy in a post. FINALLY!)

Secondly, I’m fully embracing the triathlon for the first time during marathon season. I’m competing in another triathlon on September 20th, which is taking up a lot of my training time but also gives me a new “mania” outlet. It’s a new (to me) sport and I’m fully in love with it! I’m not kidding. I still really love running and it’ll always be my favorite, but getting to switch it up with biking and swimming AND competing in those three things at the same time? It’s awesome.

love it

Lastly, I’ve set an unofficial goal for the last few months of 2015 to run 14 miles in one go. My motivation is simple: I need to prove to myself that I won’t turn into a pumpkin – or my knees won’t turn into jelly – once I break the magical 13.1 spell. So once I finish my goal race on 10/18 in Atlantic City, I aim to keep up with running long every other weekend just to see what I’m capable of. Who knows, with all the extra cross training thanks to my newfound love of the triathlon, I may surprise myself!


How do you cope with marathon mania? Do you have envy like me or are you 100% sure you’re only half crazy? And those of you who ARE running those fall marathons: how is your training going? Sound off in the comments!

The First 10 Minutes of Every Workout

Confession time: the first 10 minutes of every workout I do – running, strength training, cross training, you name it – are sheer hell. I spend the whole time just going through the motions while one long “UUGGGHH” drones on silently in my head. It takes a good 10-15 minutes before I’m feeling the burn, sweating it out, and reaping the benefits of the whole fitness thing.


This is especially the case when I work out in the mornings. I simply cannot drag myself out of bed, get warmed up and get an efficient workout in less than like 2 hours, and I’m not losing 2+ hours of sleep if I don’t have to, dammit. By the time I get in a groove, I need to start cooling down, showering, and getting ready for my day. First world problems, I  know.

Having said that, I keep trying to fight the system by waking up early for a morning run every now and then. And while these runs are always technical successes in that they are runs that take place in the morning, I can still safely say that I hate morning workouts.

IMG_5303Every time I try to run before work, I only manage to get about a half hour (or 2.5 miles) in before the morning routine has to start, and then I’m exhausted for the rest of the day. Sure, it feels good knowing my workout is done, but the pros don’t really outweigh the cons there.

IMG_5314But of course that sunrise was really something to see, and I would have missed that if I slept in.

I know what my problem is: I need to build it into my schedule just like everything else to make it a habit. Once my body realizes this is the norm with more frequent sessions, it won’t be so bad. But until then, I’ll tough it out and try to enjoy myself.

IMG_5302I also battled the “first 10 minute scourge” this weekend when I did my favorite HIIT workout in the living room Saturday morning.

IMG_5328Back when I first started working out in 2004, I relied heavily on group fitness classes to stay motivated. Looking back, I’m like 90% sure the strict start times and “follow me exactly” routines were the sole reason that I was so successful back then. Working out on your own time, by your own rules, and doing your own made up routine? It’s really hard to stay focused. Especially when you’ve got a nosy cat and a husband watching Bob’s Burgers and laughing in the next room.

IMG_5332I would do one set and get distracted by the mailman or the cat or my own short attention span, but I finally managed to  struggle through the full 40-or so minutes (burpees included)! The humidity outside was a real killer, but I felt nice and accomplished afterwards – even if my legs and glutes were screaming for mercy.


And that’s the happy, sweaty truth I have to keep reminding myself of: even though the first 10 minutes of every workout suck a pretty big windbag, the last 10 minutes are probably the most rewarding and blissful moments of my day. And SO worth fighting through that wall to get to 🙂

How about you? Do you suffer from the same affliction? How do you conquer the first 10 minutes?

Mermaid in Training

After buying my new swimming gear a few weeks ago, I finally made the leap (dive?) and hit the pool at our local YMCA last night after work for some cross training.

So I slipped into my swimsuit and immediately had a small panic attack when I looked down at the rest of my swimming accoutrements and realized I had NO CLUE how to properly use them. I bought the swim cap, wax ear plugs, and goggles because they looked cool, but once I found myself shivering in the freezing cold locker room staring at these foreign objects on the bench before me, I panicked. Did my hair need to be wet to put the cap on? Then what was the cap for if my hair was going to get wet? Does it go over my ears? If it does, do I need the ear plugs too? Should I walk out with the goggles on or put them on in the pool?

photo 3Like I’ve said before, sometimes it really is hell inside my mind.

So after a fruitless Google search and some mild cursing for being so totally pathetic, I just decided to wing it and slapped everything on to the best of my ability. After pulling a third of my hair out by the roots trying to get the swim cap on, nearly losing the wax in my ear twice, and pinching myself hardcore with the goggle strap, I was ready to rock.

photo 1

Or at least I looked like I was ready.

It became clear that I needed to have some confidence if I was going to pull this off, so I grabbed my towel, took a deep breath, opened the door to the pool and flip flopped out to the closest bench.

I slipped into the water and pretended that it wasn’t as cold as it was. Little kids were getting swimming lessons in the far lane, for god’s sake! So I pulled my goggles down, dipped under, and kicked off… and felt myself break into the biggest smile since I crossed the finish line of my last half in April! It was amazing!

For the next half hour I did lap after lap, trying out every swimming stroke my grandma ever taught me in our backyard pool, none of which I know the proper names for. Some I’m pretty sure I even made up as I went along. But I loved it! The rest of the pool cleared out and I found myself alone in my last few laps, in my own little sound-proof world (thanks, wax earplugs), my heart beating out of my chest as I finished one lap and geared up for another.

photo 2Finally, as I glanced behind me at the clock to see how long I’d been in, the poor teenaged lifeguard who had been standing there waving at me since I couldn’t hear her finally got my attention: “I’m sorry but we have to close the pool because of the lightning storm!”

I hadn’t even noticed, but it was indeed storming badly outside, so I hopped out of the pool, toweled off, changed into dry clothes and relaxed in the locker room for a minute: I felt ike I’d worked out hard but I wasn’t sweaty and gross like after a run; I was just fresh and dry and blissed out on an endorphin high!

So overall, I’d give swimming an A++. I cannot wait to go back! How about you? Do you swim for cross training? Any triathletes (or tri’s in training) out there? Let me hear it!

Week 1 of 18

Well I’m still here! I know I’ve been quiet lately (ok, SILENT), but it’s been a very eventful first week of marathon training and I’m really excited to share it with you!

So I’m officially following Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 plan, and I adapted it to allow for extra cross- & strength-training (and to accommodate my still-kinda-new-ACL). I started on Tuesday of last week – in this plan, Mondays are rest days. This works out perfectly because I’m usually pretty active during the weekend, and Sunday long runs keep me from going out drinking on a Saturday – so even my liver wins! So after mentally prepping and adjusting my diet accordingly on Monday, I was good and ready for an early morning 3.1 miler on Tuesday!

Image I know that it should be 3 miles, but does anyone else have a hard time just running 3 without the .1 to make it a 5k? No? Just me? Ok then. Moving on!

Anyway, it was hot. And humid. Frankly, it felt like I was running through chicken soup. I was leaking from every pore and slow and kinda hated it, but I kept telling myself to soak it in because it was my first training run for my first marathon. How stinking cool is that? I got to watch the sun come up over the bay as I ran loops around the park, said Hi to some little baby bunnies out for breakfast with their mom on the side of the path, and I got through it with a smile. Winning!

To enhance my training, I also decided to add 15-20 minutes of strength training in each day. Even if it’s 3 minutes at a pop in front of the TV while the commercials are on, I’m getting it in. Arms, abs, back, and legs, no body part left behind (ew). So I did my 20 minutes with some coworkers in the office gym in the afternoon, and topped off my day in the evening with my handstand challenge practice.

Come Wednesday, my knees were extremely achy from wearing high heels at work and the humidity. So I invoked my training plan tweak and opted out of running, choosing instead to get the mileage the plan called for (4 miles) done on the elliptical. This saved my knees a LOT of pain, and it worked out fantastically.

ImageYou can tell it’s working because I look like death!

I still got all the cardio benefits (I was dripping with sweat!) by keeping close to my running pace and loved it. When I added another 20 minutes of strength training and more handstands into the mix that day, I was shredded.

So when Thursday called for 3 miles, I was surprised (not really though) to find that my body was not having any of that. I got my strength training in, but suffered all day through my monthly migraine (any of you ladies experience the same hell as me every month?). By the time I got out of work, I wasn’t even close to motivated to run 3 miles. It was 95 outside, about 97% humidity, and I was out of Motrin. I call that The “Trifecta of Suck”.

BUT – when I got home, I put on my gear and told myself to get out there. Even if I did one mile, I’d call it a win. So I got out there in the soupy weather and walked for most of a mile, threw in 4 sprints of around 8:00/miles just to get my heart rate up, and as soon as that damn Nike+ app said 1.00, I called it. I was just not feeling it. But I didn’t beat myself up – I chose to be happy with my training and chalked it up to good experience, and looked forward to rest day Friday!

ImageInstead of 🙂 or 😦 I decided on the third option, not shown here-  :-/

After resting (and yes, having a slice of homemade pizza) on Friday, I attacked Saturday and Sunday with what I can only describe as an intense desire to KICK ASS. And kick I did!

Image I tackled Saturday morning with an 8-mile bike ride before breakfast, and felt unstoppable. It was my longest ride since before my surgery, and I felt like I could have easily kept on going! Then Sunday I attacked my 5 mile training run in under an hour:

Imageby 32 seconds, but it counts!

And then punished my legs just a little bit more with 2 hours of hiking and trail running at Holmdel Park.

ImageMy legs were so tired I tried to ride the deer home.

Then I finished the day with some more handstand practice and looked forward to resting today!

So that’s my Week 1 (of 18). It’s kind of scary to think that I have to keep this up for another 17 weeks (my god I’m starving and exhausted!) but I’m feeling stronger than ever and very excited to see where this training takes me!

How about you, are you training for anything right now? How’s it going?