Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October 2012 in Review

This month couldn’t have played out better. I’ve had my fair share of crappy running months (umm hello March) in 2012 so I was due for a super good one.

Mileage Recap
A year ago - October 2011: 125.05
January: 181.21
February: 86.84
March: 6
April: 89.59
May: 128.43
June: 137.72
July: 200.1
August: 177.48
September: 230.85
October 2012: 270.09

I am astounded at that number. I really expected to hit something more around 250, so 270 is a freaking miracle. My highest month ever and a record that will likely stay for awhile (at least until the spring). Woo hoooooo!

Cross Training Recap

161.76 miles road cycling

Another month of no pool, no pilates, no yoga, and no boxing. I even cut back on the biking a lot in comparison to previous months, but it was a sacrifice well worth it. I wish I had time enough in the day to do everything, but little things like work and school lessen workout time considerably!

What went well

My training this month went just as I had hoped all the months of this training cycle had gone: three weeks of build and one week of cutback. I guess better late than never. I started the month with a cutback week and then had three weeks of excellent mileage. I had a surprise super huge PR at the Baltimore Marathon, ran my first back-to-back 20 milers, and peaked with a 50 mile weekend.

What didn’t go well

Despite the overall positivity of this month, it did have its downs. I have never had my physical and mental strength worn down so much and there were definitely times when I questioned my ability to run this race. The important thing to realize during these times of doubt is that if you don’t work through them they will eat you alive.

November 2012 Goals

The next few weeks are all about getting ready for race day, so here’s the plan:

- Taper, taper, taper!
- Drink lots of water
- Cut out the dessert and excess sugars 10 days leading up to the race
- 8 hours of sleep a night
- Continue ab work, foam rolling, icing, and stretching every night

17 days and counting until JFK. Bring. It. On.

Monday, October 29, 2012

JFK Training: Week 17

The last big week! Can't believe its actually over. I went into this week thinking I would shoot for about 25 miles during the weekdays because I knew I had a 50 mile weekend. It turned out to be a good call, because I was super lazy and barely made 25 anyway. If I had been expecting more out of myself I would have been very disappointed.

Monday 10/22:


After back-to-back 20s I was more than happy to take it easy. I made sure to eat as many bagels as possible to aid in faster recovery :)

Tuesday 10/23:

5.08 mile run
7.83 mile bike

I was happy to get on my bike Tuesday morning, but was also more than willing to take a ride home in the car with Mike. I waited until the evening to run to give myself that extra 12 hours of recovery time. My legs felt like I hadn't run in weeks. Score one for bouncing back!

Wednesday 10/24:

5.08 mile run
15.65 mile bike

Blah blah blah another 5 miles. Why is it so humid out?!

Thursday 10/25:

5.09 mile run AM
3.03 mile run PM

I ran 5 at lunch and only made out with 3 in the evening. My weakest double runs to date this training cycle. I just could not get the mental energy together this week.

Friday 10/26:

7.28 mile run
13.08 mile bike

I always end up pushing extra miles to Friday's run and I HATE it! I'm sure the last thing my body wants is a longer run on Friday right before a big mileage weekend, but since I just couldn't get it together earlier in the week I ended up with 7 miles on Friday morning.

After work Friday I rode downtown to my hair stylist's new salon. I would follow this woman anywhere. She is a rockstar. I was eager to chop a few inches off (who knows maybe it will make me run faster).

Saturday 10/27:

20.01 mile run

This was a weird weekend. Usually I start on Saturday feeling great and my body and mind slowly deteriorate so that Sunday's run is always less pleasant. This weekend I felt the opposite. I had no desire to run 20 miles on Saturday morning. Even though Mike and I had decided not to run FOTM on Sunday, that didn't mean I was getting a pass on my 30 miles. I think mentally knowing I still had to run 30 on Sunday made Saturday that much harder.

I had a route all planned out, but about 4 miles in I decided to scrap it and just make one up to give it some more spice. After what felt like forever I returned home to find that I only ran 15 miles. Color me pissed! I refueled and unhappily headed out for 5 more. Then I drowned my sorrows in cupcakes and tried not to think about Sunday.

Sunday 10/28:

30.07 mile run

Despite my craptastic Saturday run, I woke up feeling slightly more positive about Sunday's. Perhaps it was knowing that in 12 hours or less I would officially be tapering and the hard work would be done. It always helps when you have the finish line in sight, right?

In order to make 30 local miles more bearable Mike and I decided to journey to the new-to-us Pennypack Park about 30 minutes away. I was thrilled that Mike still wanted to run with me even though we wouldn't be racing and he ran a marathon two weeks ago. I freaking love that man.

A match made in heaven crazy town 
When we arrived at the park a half marathon was just beginning. We ended up running with them on the bike path for the first 6.5 miles. It was kind of nice to have others around, but I also felt like I was getting caught up with the "racing vibe." So NOT what my body needed considering my mileage expectations for the day. The run went much better than Saturday mentally and physically. Its a wonder what new scenery can do.

When I first mapped the run it was about 22 miles and then I knew I'd do the other 8 around my house afterwards. Everything was going according to plan until we neared the Delaware and found the gate on the bike path locked! I had no idea how many miles just got unintentionally cut out of our run, but I was not happy about it.

Well I guess that part is out. Thanks a lot Philadelphia park system!
By the time we got back to the car I was feeling pretty sore, but I felt confident that I only had another 9 or so miles to get through. Like a bad dream from Saturday, I returned home to find we had only run 19 miles. I was nearly in tears. I had no desire to run 11 more miles. Double digits seemed impossible. But I bucked up, refueled, mapped a new run, grabbed my music, and hit the road.

Amazingly, and in accordance with this weekend's ongoing trend, my last run was even better than the previous one. Maybe it was knowing that I was nearing the end. Maybe it was the music. Maybe it was the rain. Whatever it was, I felt pretty zen and my legs felt great until the last mile or two.

Week 17 Totals

75.64 miles running
36.56 miles biking

I'm thrilled to be closing out this training cycle with 75 mpw, numbers I honestly never thought I'd see. I had already planned to take Monday off of work to recover, but fate decided I should get two days off and sent a hurricane to cancel work and classes through Tuesday. 

Stay safe everyone and happy training! :)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Bailing and Baking

There is a Frankenstorm coming, have you heard? Of course you have. My FB newsfeed is almost as sick of it as it is of the election (seriously who cares who wins at this point, just shut up about it!)

I admit when I signed up for FOTM a few months back I did see that it was a four hour drive. But hey, that was months ago and its just four hours. Totally doable!

I really was all prepared to make the trip. Run 20 miles Saturday morning, leave around 3pm, drop the dogs off at the boarders, drive to western Maryland, get a hotel, wake up ass early, run 31 something miles, drive home. And then this crappy storm happened. And even though its not really supposed to affect the race location (I'm not afraid to run in bad weather if that's what you're thinking), it would affect the ride home. And honestly the last thing I want to do after running a 50 mile weekend is sit in the car for what would likely be more than 4 hours with traffic and slow speeds.

Bad weather and running? No prob

So, sadly we are bailing on the race. It might be a different story if both of us weren't planning on running, but since we would both be physically and mentally exhausted its probably not a safe idea to traverse windy, wet roads for so many hours when neither of us are on out A-game.

I'm sad to miss my first 50k since February. I'm said to enjoy/suffer through a new-to-me course. Most of all I'm sad to finally meet Abbi and Alyssa in real life. I guess I will just have to continue incessantly stalking them on their blogs until JFK weekend.

I'm also sad that I will still be running 30 miles tomorrow, except solo and locally. I am going to have to find somewhere new to run nearby because I cannot take another 20+ miles in my neighborhood. I. Will. Lose. It.

The good thing about bailing on our trip means that until I have to deal with tomorrow morning's run, I can spend my time sinking into my couch cushions and shoving as much food as possible down my throat. I even felt inspired to bake:

Ok, maybe not bake as much as emptying-cake-mix-and-3-other-ingredients-into-a-bowl-and-stirring. Whatever, at least they look nice

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Haunted Body: Tale of a Ghostly Injury

Get ready dear readers, for a truly scary story....

It was All Hallows Eve and Tom was just putting on the last piece of reflective gear so he could head out for a short run. The big race was coming up. He had been training for four months already. He was reaching peak week: sleeping less, eating more, and running longer. It would be well worth it though, once he strode across that finish line. 20 minutes into his run he felt an old familiar twinge. The twinge turned into a dense thobbing, the dense throbbing into a sharp pain. Soon he was walking, hobbling home. Passing trick-or-treaters shouted compliments on his well done zombie runner costume. Alas, it was no costume. For Tom was being haunted. An old injury had returned!!!!

I told you guys. Spooky, scary stuff. I have chills.

Seriously though, if you are a runner, getting injured is probably in your top five fears (along with maybe accidently crapping your pants mid-run or bonking in a race). Injuries suck. Plain and simple. They take a toll on your body and your mind. Suddenly you question what you might be doing wrong and how you can fix it. Today I want to talk not just about injuries in general, but old injuries.

Confession: I am being an old injury.

Last October I started to have some pain in my left calf. I kept running on it and then ended up taking about 8 days completely off running and it went away.

Fast forward to the end of January. The pain reappeared. I kept running longer, faster, harder. I ended up having to take six full weeks off (talk about a nightmare!). I started going to PT. I crosstrained. I rested. After six weeks I ran my first mile and built my mileage slowly from the ground up again.

Fast forward to today. I'm putting in 50-70 miles per week. Most of the time they are comfortable and enjoyable. Then all of a sudden I feel throbbing or stubborn pain in my shin. I slow down. I ice, I compress, and stretch. It disappears for days. Randomly it comes back. It never appears in full force as it did six months ago, but its there, waiting, bidding its time, ready to freak me out again at the most opportune moment.

Do old injuries ever really go away?

Truth - I don't know. Shortly after I first started running, I had some knee pain and had to stop running for 3 or so days (and I thought that was bad). I switched to minimalist shoes and haven't had any knee pain since. I don't even worry about it. Its just gone. The shin thing hasn't seemed to fully go away, however, and I'm starting to doubt it ever will. It makes me think that I will deal with this for the rest of my running career.

Am I actually in pain or am I just going crazy?

Speaking for myself on this one - most definetly both. Sometimes its hard to tell whether the pain is in my mind because I'm mentally focused on that area of my body or if it actually hurts.

How can you prevent old injuries from returning?

(Just a note - I am not a doctor, so I can't really tell you what works and what doesn't. I can only share my personal experience)

This training cycle has taught me a lot about listening to my body. If there was ever a day when something wasn't feeling right I lowered my mileage or went extra slow. I've foam rolled every single night and iced every single day whether I'm in pain or not. I wear compression gear on a daily basis (you know all the super cool people are wearing Zensah sleeves under they work pants) and take a multivitamin and a calcium supplement. And I still do my PT exercises every other night that I learned seven months ago.

Running is hard work and sometimes I don't feel like taking extra time out of my day to do strength training or foam roll, but its always worth it!

So tell me, are you being haunted? Have you ever had a running injury that has really completely gone away?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

JFK Training: Week 16

Wow, 16 weeks already!? Hard to believe I started this training cycle the week after my honeymoon ended in the dead heat of the summer. It seems so long ago.

Monday 10/15:


Damn straight I rested post-PR marathon!

Chloe is an expert at resting - I just follow her lead

Tuesday 10/16:

6.0 mile run 4.24 mile run
15.65 mile bike

I woke up ready to run, but my calves were still feeling super tired from Saturday's marathon, so I chopped two miles off and called it a day. Better safe than sorry!

Wednesday 10/17:

6.01 mile run
15.65 mile bike

I waited until the evening to try running again. It felt much better than Tuesday morning, but the bottom of my feet were still hurting as if I had been standing for hours (instead of staring at my computer all day like a champ).

Thursday 10/18:

6.0 mile run AM
5.4 mile run PM

A slow and steady 5 am run before work and then another run during lunch around noon. Its kind of nice to run when the sun is still out on a weekday. I'm getting really sick of running in the dark!

Thursday dinner I finally made my own spaghetti squash!

Friday 10/19:

7.28 mile run

Hello humidity! Weren't we past this? Its a shame because my legs finally felt back to normal, but mentally the last thing I wanted to do was run in that skunk weather. Gross!

Saturday 10/20:

20.34 mile run

Sunday 10/21:

20 mile run - Delaware Canal 20-Miler

My back-to-back 20s - a lesson in finding mental and physical strength!

Week 16 Totals

69.27 miles running
31.3 miles biking

I admit that I was seriously considering doing a quick extra mile around the neighborhood on Sunday night to get over 70 miles for the week (because I'm OCD like that), but really, I need to learn to be happy with what I've done. Three quarters of a mile doesn't make a difference. I still feel like a badass for getting through this week, which is my highest mileage ever. Hopefully my badass performance can translate to some badass recovery skills because I've got another big week ahead!

P.S. I don't think I've ever looked more forward to tapering

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Back-to-Back 20 Milers

I usually think of running as something that enhances my weekend, but this time I felt exactly the opposite.

After my "August of Tragedy" I was feeling unsure about my training thus far for JFK. I decided I needed to push harder and run longer. And so an ambitious October peak month was born!

I have no clue where I got the smart idea to run back-to-back 20s, especially the weekend right after a marathon. Last November after my first marathon I spent the following weekend knocking out an easy 4 miles Saturday and 5 on Sunday. Sounds much more appropriate.

In any event, back-to-back 20s in what I did, and here is how it all played out:


Its funny to think how 20 miles used to be "the big one" on my training schedule. I admit, after running them so often now, they have lost their intimidation effect quite a bit. For Saturday's 20 I planned a nice little loop around Center City. There was nothing outstanding or notable  about the run except that I was already feeling pretty sore by mile 12 and I ended up having to walk up every hill (fortunately there were very, very few). I guess running a sub-3:50 marathon seven days before probably accounted for both of those things (umm yeah...). Fortunately I could have cared less about my pace. I stopped often to fuel and use the restroom and took my sweet time.

The short but sweet Boxers Trail on Saturday's run
By the time I got home, 3-4 hours later, I felt an overwhelming amount of exhaustion. While I usually spend an hour or two in recovery mode post-run, this time I spent the rest of the day on the couch. I could barely move. Even getting up to get a cup of tea seemed to require too much energy. I wanted to sleep so badly, but I couldn't get myself to nap. I didn't even feel this depleted after the marathon last weekend.

20 #1: 
Mentally - fine
Physically - exhausted


When my alarm went off at 6 am on Sunday the last thing I wanted to do was run, let alone run another 20 miles. My legs felt surprisingly good, but I was still exhausted.

I was out the door by 7 am and stopped to get some fuel and breakfast. After the weird look I got from the cashier the imaginary unspoken conversation in my head went something like:

"Really, this much junk food at 7 am on a Sunday?"
"Umm yeah, I need it for my workout."
"Riiiiight, that makes sense. Crazy person."

"But I NEED it!"
I'm so thankful I decided to sign up for a 20 mile race in lieu of mapping yet another solo 20 miler by myself. The Delaware Canal 20-Miler was about an hour from my house in Bucks County, PA. I'd never been up there, but the pics looked beautiful and it seemed like the fall foliage was finally out, which drew me to the race in the first place.

Once I arrived I started feeling a little more positive about the run. I checked in and rushed back to my car to enjoy the heater until it was time to start.

A few minutes after 9 am the race director said the magic words and myself and 50+ other runners took off (it was a very small race!). The first mile was on pavement and looped around the park. I was so cold I couldn't even tell if my legs felt okay or not. Everything was just numb! Soon we were on the Delaware Canal tow path. The race was an easy 10 miles out and back with next to no elevation. Exactly what I was looking for.

I really wanted to enjoy the beautiful scenery, but at mile 1.5 I had to stop and walk because my calves felt like they were on fire. Every so often we I wear compression socks during a run I have this odd, 3-4 mile warm up period where the back of my calves start burning and feeling like bricks. I have no idea what triggers it. It appears to be random and turns up at the worst times. So here I was, at mile 1.5 of 20, already walking and in pain. Super start Kristin.

I did the run/walk thing until about mile 3. By mile 4 the burning sensation was gone and I just focused on trying to keep a 10 min/mile pace. Unlike the Baltimore Marathon last weekend, there were zero crowds and next to zero runners around me, so I really felt no compulsion to "race," which is exactly how I hoped I would approach this run.

I can't recall exactly which mile I started to feel sore, but safe to say it gradually increased from at least mile 5 and on. "How are you feeling?" "I feel like I ran 20 miles yesterday." Yup, that pretty much sums it up.

I hit the 10 mile turn around in 1:40 exactly. Perfect 10 min/mile pace. At that point all I wanted to do was finish. My hips were getting sore and I was feeling more and more physically strained. I began to speed up and started passing runners. It wasn't out of any sort of pride, I just really didn't want to be running anymore.

By mile 15 I was seriously ready to stop so I kicked into gear a little harder to get to the finish. I crossed the finish line in 3:11:44, meaning I gained more than 8 minutes in the second 10 miles. I told you I was ready to be done! Honestly averaging a 9:35 pace on this run probably wasn't the smartest idea and I should have taken it a little easier, but it is what it is.

Done and tired
Post-race I grabbed some pineapple at the finish line (best post-race food ever!) and drove back home.

20 #2: 
Mentally - tough
Physically - exhausted

I have to give my legs some major love for the next 48 hours for being so good to me. I'm sore and tired, but overall things feel pretty good. I also don't feel nearly as exhausted as I did after Saturday's 20. Strange.

This weekend was really humbling for me. I've found the past four months of JFK training relatively easy, or if not easy at least manageable. But this weekend I was really tested physically and mentally. A part of me fears that I am over training, but the other part of me is happy that my body and mind have experienced what it has so that on race day maybe I will be a little more acclimated.

What is the toughest training weekend you've had? How did you deal?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

JFK Training: Week 15

A little late with the recap this week. Still recovering from Baltimore on Saturday.

Oh so much pain by the time I reached the finish

Monday 10/8:

15.65 mile bike

I've been completely resting on Mondays and taking the bus to work, but after last week's cutback week I felt like I had a lot of energy and didn't want to be stuck on public transit. It felt great to get back on my back after a few days off. Mike and I are starting to invest in some winter gear. Right now that includes a pair of leg warmers that I can roll under my bike shorts, gloves, and a pullover. Its only been around 50 degrees and I'm already freezing on the ride in. I have no idea how I will survive December bike commuting!

Tuesday 10/9:

6.13 mile run
15.65 mile bike

Nothing special here. Blah blah blah another 6 mile run.

Wednesday 10/10:

5.96 mile run AM
15.65 mile bike
6.01 mile run PM

I've been avoiding biking and doing doubles in the same day, but I felt good and I knew I wanted to take it easy the rest of week so I stacked them.

Thursday 10/11:

4.44 mile run
15.65 mile bike

For the first time ever I think, I ran during my lunch break. My coworker and I did a few laps around a park near work and barely broke a sweat thanks to the cooler weather. I am going to try and make this a Thursday tradition for now on.
Friday 10/12:

3.03 mile run

My version of a mini-taper for Baltimore. I was considering not running at all, but with all of the mileage I've been laying down could a super easy 3 miler relaly do any harm?

Saturday 10/13:
26.2 mile run - Baltimore Marathon!

Still running 8:30s for some amazingly strange reason
Sunday 10/14

10.84 mile run 6.13 mile run

I really did have every intention on getting 10-ish miles done on Sunday and in the afternoon I headed out for my usual run along the river. By mile 3, however, after I had already had to stop twice to walk because of calf cramping, I called it a day and headed home. I was a little upset to lose the mileage, but if thats the cost of running a sub-3:50 marathon the day before then I will happily take it!

Week 15 Totals

57.91 miles running
46.95 miles biking

Only two more weeks until taper!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Just Roll With It: Baltimore Marathon Recap

I'm still in shock at how the Baltimore Marathon went down this weekend. Before I talk about race day, however, let's back up a bit.

Last week I wrote up a quick summary of all of my October "training" races. The goal was not to really race any of these, but use them as long runs for JFK prep. Regardless of this point, going into Saturday's marathon I wouldn't have had high hopes for a PR anyway. I ran my first marathon last November after what I felt like was a solid training season. After my injury this past spring I've felt endlessly slow, far slower than I was last fall. So my thoughts for Saturday were that I wasn't in PR shape anyway and I should just roll with a comfortable pace and readily accept a 4:15 or a 4:20 or wherever the time fell.

I owe this race to a lot of things coming all together at once: perfect weather, perfect fueling, perfect outfit choice, and a perfect attitude and race plan.

We left work early on Friday and drove straight to Baltimore and hit up the expo first to pick up our packets.

Nice Under Armour tech shirts for the win!
Afterwards we checked into the Baltimore Hilton. The hotel was super convenient to the race. The next morning we literally stepped outside and were at the start line. I was not expecting it to be so fancy!

We went in search of dinner and found a deli a few blocks away where we carbed up.

Better than bottled sparking water? Sparkling water in a can - how did I not know of this before?!
We finally got up to the room and I started laying out things for the race:

Shorts, shirt, bra, Pro Compression socks, SPIbelt, salt tablets, fuel, bib
The next morning, after a decent enough night of sleep, I woke up at 6 am, stretched, ate a granola bar and banana, got dressed, and got my fuel together.

I've been experimenting with non-traditional running fuel for awhile. Swedish Fish = tastier than a GU, but difficult to carry. The fish kept trying to flee my SPIbelt every time I unzipped it!
At 7:30 am we made our way across the street to gear check and then the start line.

I mentioned at the beginning that we had perfect weather. It was about 44 at the start and in shorts and a thin long sleeve I was frigid, but of course several hours later everyone who wore pants and jackets was drowning in sweat and was still cruising.

So cold!

Mike and I settled into the crowd behind the 4 hour pacer. I had no intention of attempting the sub-4 that I had coveted so much last fall, but I wanted to hang out with my husband until the gun went off and he was hoping to finish around 4 hours.

At 8 am sharp the crowd started moving and we were off! Mike sped off right away and I wished him luck on his first 26.2. I knew the first 3 miles were going to be straight uphill. I settled into a comfortable pace and paid attention to my breath. Anytime I started to feel like it was becoming strained I scaled back a little. When we passed the first mile marker I looked down at my watch (I didn't wear a Garmin) to see where I was at. I was shocked to see an 8:53 because the pace felt so easy. I was a little concerned I would bonk early if I kept up that pace (considering 90% of my training runs have been10 minute miles), but since it felt good I kept going.

When I got to the top of the hill I was still hitting sub-9 paces. I flew on the downhills. I kept thinking of my boxing instructor when he tells us to "refuel your gas tank" in between rounds. I let gravity take over and let my lungs and heart recover on the downhills.

The miles flew by and before I knew it I was at mile 11 and was passing the 3:50 pacer. That's right, 3:50, not even the 4:00 pacer. My mind went a little "WTF!?," but I still felt like I was running easy so I kept it up.

I passed the 13.1 mile marker at 1:51:58. Coincidentally this would have been a half marathon PR. Still, I didn't let myself think of possible finish times, because as I learned at my first marathon anything can happen in 26.2 miles. In my opinion, nothing is really in the bag until after you hit mile 25. So, while I started having dreams of crossing the finish line in not only a sub-4, but a sub-3:50, I refused to do any revised goal setting and kept to my original race plan of "just roll with it."

Unlike my first marathon, where we started the race with the half marathoners and then lost them at the 13.1 mile marker, at this race they started at our 13.1 mile marker and ran with us to the finish. I liked this setup a lot better. While the course did get a lot more crowded the second half, they brought a renewed sense of energy. It was also encouraging for me as I passed not only fellow marathon runners, but many half marathon runners also.

The second half of the race had another hill climb. It wasn't as static as the first climb, however, and felt more like rolling hills. And even though it wasn't as high the first, I was feeling more fatigued and was having a harder time getting myself up the inclines. At mile 17 I turned on my music to try and perk myself up.

At mile 20 I reached the top and had to run a one mile loop around a lake before heading back downtown to the finish. Mile 20-21 was the last "feel good" mile for me and I think I was running around an 8 minute mile.

Miles 21-26.2 were just pure hell. Everything hurt and I was slowing down. At this point I had calculated, however, that even if I ran 10 minute miles I would come in under 4 hours. I decided that I should keep trying to push the pace through the finish even though initially I had no time goals for this race. I mean if I didn't try to race the last hour wouldn't that make the previous three a total waste??

There were a few more little uphills between miles 21 and 24 and I cursed under my breath during every single one. My "ride the downhills"  strategy was becoming harder to do because my legs were so sore already. The crowds were really good the last miles and I turned my music off to let them spur me on.

I was still clocking 9:xx minute miles and realized I would likely finished under 3:50 and it was just a matter of how much under. Finally, after what seemed like forever, mile 25 came around. At mile 26 I gave a full out sprint with my last bits of energy. When Mike later described his final miles of this race, his first marathon, he said he was surprised because he had never felt such a full depletion of energy before. It's true, you give it all and have practically nothing left by mile 26.

Final stats: 3:46:05, average 8:37 pace

I found Mike at our pre-arranged meeting place. He had a great race and came in a 3:39:58! Super job for his first marathon! (He is totally hooked now by the way and is already talking about attempting a sub-3:30 next time)

In case anyone is curious, I took four Swedish Fish at miles 5.5, 11, and 16.5 repsectively. I walked through 2-3 water stops during the first half of the race and walked through 3-4 stops during the second half of the race and had some gatorade a few of those times.

Post-race we met up with Baltimore friends and found a delicious grilled cheese shop:

The perfect ending to a perfect race
I cannot believe I am a sub-3:50 marathoner! It is such an unexpected thing to happen. I will have a goofy smile on my face the rest of the week!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Welcome to October! AKA "peak month." AKA "the month where I run a race almost every weekend."

But, let's be honest. There is only one race I really care about. One race I've really been training for. My goal race, the JFK 50.

I knew I wanted to run another marathon this fall. I also knew that I wanted to tackle another 50k before attempting 50 miles. My previous two 50ks were in January and February, which at this point seems like a lifetime ago. In addition to those two distances, I added a 20 mile race to my calendar a few weeks ago. The addition was born purely out of boredom, as in "I'm so goddamn bored of coming up with new, creative 20 mile runs I'm going to die."

But while this month could be called "Racetober," the fact is that I really have no intention of "racing" any of these events. That's not to say I won't end up getting caught in the excitement of things during the run, but ideally I'm not pushing the pace and using the distances purely for training purposes.

Here is what "Traintober" holds:

October 13: Baltimore Marathon

I'm really excited to run another marathon. I love road races and there is certainly something special about the marathon regardless of what other distances I've run. Mike will be running it as his first actual marathon (he was registered for Philly last year, but got injured). Hopefully I will take it nice and slow because I'd like to get in at least 10 miles the day after and extreme soreness will certainly be a problem.

My first marathon last year
It is a little strange that this time last year 26.2 miles was the BIG one, and this year it's just a bump in the road. The difference a year makes, eh?

October 21: Delaware Canal 20 Miler

Not only is this race conveniently an hour's drive and somewhere I've never run before, but fall foliage should be in full swing (we hope). The plan is to run back-to-back 20 milers this weekend, which means I only need to creatively map one 20 mile run that weekend instead of two.

Will it actually look this gorgeous out in 11 more days? Based on the absurdly warm weather I doubt it, but hears to hoping!

October 28: Fire on the Mountain 50k

I'm a little scared of this race (ok maybe a lot scared). I've read a bunch of recaps and the elevation and trail terrain are intimidating me, especially since my trail runs have been almost nonexistent lately. The good thing is that this will be peak weekend, which means I can put it all out there and then look forward to a three week taper.

How is your October shaping up? Are you using other races as "training" for bigger ones?

Monday, October 8, 2012

JFK Training: Week 14

I was really lame this week and took practically no pictures, so sorry in advance for this extra boring post. Luckily my husband did happen to capture a lovely pic of me passed out of the couch with the pups.

This is what 50 Mile training does to me in the middle of a Sunday
This week was a cutback week and I was really looking forward to it. Unfortunately work was insanely busy, so while I ran fewer miles, I was still as tired as ever thanks to some early mornings and late evenings at my job.

Monday 10/3:


After spending the previous day in my pivot shorts and compression sleeves post-25-miler, I was feeling surprisingly good and had very limited soreness. Score 1 for adaptability!

Tuesday 10/2:

5.04 mile run
15.65 mile bike

I was so exhausted all week, that I ended up sleeping through most of my morning runs and saving them for the evening. This turned into a bad call, because Tuesday evening was around 98% humidity. I felt like I was swimming through a swamp.

Wednesday 10/3:

5.08 mile run

Another super humid evening run. I was supposed to go 6, but couldn't muster the tolerance to stay outside any longer.

Thursday 10/4:

6.02 mile run
15.65 mile bike

I had planned for Thursday to be a double day, so I had to run in the AM. Sadly it took me way over an hour because I was so exhausted and it still felt like swamp outside. I literally could have curled up on the side of road and passed out. I kept reminding myself that I made it through 25 really difficult miles only 5 days earlier, so 6 miles was no big deal, but even that logic didn't make it feel any better.

By the time I got home after work I was in no mood to run. All I wanted was some ginger tea and my bed, so I decided to save the double run for the weekend since I had lower mileage planned.

Friday 10/5:

7.28 mile run

Finally a sort of decent run! Or maybe I was just excited that it was finally Friday. Or maybe because I feel asleep at 8:30 pm the night before. Either and any way, things were finally looking up!

Saturday 10/6:

10.69 mile run AM
5.87 mile run PM

Saturday morning I let myself sleep in. Turns out nowadays that is only 7 am. Mike and I got out for a run around 9 am and it was already pretty sunny and warm out. Of course we made the mistake not to bring water and even though I had eaten monstrous amounts of food the night before I was so hungry when I got up that I felt like my stomach was eating itself. The combination of all of that meant that I really struggled during an otherwise easy 10 mile run. I just wanted it to end the whole time so I could get home and drink the entire Brita.

My make-up double run ended up being a great idea for Saturday. The two runs perfectly bracketed my sit-on-your-fat-ass-and-do-nothing kind of day. When I left at 5 pm for the second round you wouldn't have known I'd even struggled during the morning run just six hours before. With a 10 degree drop in temperature and some food and water in me, I thoroughly enjoyed an easy 6 miler

Sunday 10/7:

10.84 mile run

Do you know what Sunday was? PERFECT RUNNING WEATHER. It has freaking arrived people. 52 degrees, breezy, and overcast. I couldn't have asked for a better way to end the week. I spent most of the day cozy in my sweatpants and then left to run in the late afternoon. Before I knew it I was back home, having crushed nearly 11 miles in an average 8:30 pace. Where the hell did that come from?? I'll tell you where: PERFECT RUNNING WEATHER! Hopefully fall is finally on its way.

Perfect running weather also means sweater season for Chloe
Week 14 Totals

50.82 miles running
31.3 miles biking

I'm ready to kick into high gear for three more weeks and then its taper time!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What Running Has Done For Me

I've already expressed how much difficulty I had with my long run on Sunday. Sure, physically it was challenging and I was feeling sore by mile 15 already, but my real issues came not from my body, but my mind. It's been awhile since I've wanted to quit that many times during a run. And at each moment of self-doubt I had to think of ways to inspire and push myself forward. When it's just you and the road, you have to create the motivation to keep going.

So I got to thinking: "What has running done for me? Why do I keep doing it?" Obviously there is a lovely endorphin boost that comes with any exercise, but really running has done much more for me beyond a happy smile on my face after a 6 mile run.

Weeee endorphins!
I used to be a person who quit things. I quit all of the after school activities my mom signed me up for when I was a kid. I quit studying for the SATs because I felt overwhelmed and outnumbered by all of the overachievers in my graduating class. I quit studying in college because partying seemed a lot better.

And then I found running, and I became a person who didn't quit things. While it might have started with not quitting on an early morning jog or racing a new distance, eventually it spread to other things to. Soon quitting became something that wasn't even an option in my life.
From a recent New York Times article "The Honorable Clan of the Long-Distance Runner":

"Nonrunners often imagine that people can cover 26.2 miles only because they have lean, muscled legs and a highly developed cardiovascular system. Nothing could be further from the truth. The runner's most important organ, by far, is the brain -- the source of our dreams, drive and determination. Almost a century ago, the great Finnish distance runner Paavo Nurmi said: 'Mind is everything; muscle, mere pieces of rubber. All that I am, I am because of my mind.'"

You always hear about how running is a metaphor for life and blah, blah, blah some people chalk that up to being cheesy. But really, how much easier is it to get through a tough day or a tough situation, when you've physically and, more importantly, mentally gotten yourself through your first long run or a marathon or a speedy 5k?

My most mentally challenging race thus far: PHUNT 50k
I may not be the fastest person on the block, but thanks to running I've got a mind of steel, and that will get me places (hopefully to the finish line of the JFK 50 for starters, eh, eh?). Running has made me a stronger person and that is why I keep doing it.

Chime in! Do you feel mentally "tougher" since you started running?

Monday, October 1, 2012

JFK Training: Week 13

This week marked the third week of a three week mileage build. Part of me feels great for working so hard, but the rest of me is just freaking tired! I'm ready for a cutback week!

Sophie is also ready for a cutback week. Less running around, more sleep
Monday 9/24:


I purposefully took Monday off this year after Ragnar because last year I remember cursing myself for going right back to work afterwards. I slept in a little bit (not nearly as much I should have as I would find out later in the week), read a bunch of articles for my class, watched some CSI, and basically sat on my ass the whole day. It was glorious. Exactly what a rest day should be.

Tuesday 9/25:

7.28 mile run
15.65 mile bike

Tuesday morning I was amped to run again. I had a wonderful, relatively-speedy-for-5am run along the river. It wasn't too humid so I got to rock some long sleeves, which I love.

Wednesday 9/26:

6 mile run
15.65 mile bike

When I woke up Wednesday morning something was off. Maybe it was the fact that I fell asleep at 8:30 pm the night before, slept through my run, woke up at 7 am, and still felt utterly exhausted. Umm delayed Ragnar exhaustion or what?!

Thursday 9/27:

5.08 mile run AM
6.06 mile run PM

By the time Thursday rolled around I couldn't believe I was still standing. I can't remember the last time I was so tired for such an extended number of days. I couldn't bear to get on my bike to work so I bused it, which is a good thing because I totally passed out for a few minutes on the ride. Still, got my running miles in, albeit slow and sleepily.

Friday 9/28:

5.71 mile run

I overslept again on Friday morning and had to wait until after work to do my run. I decided to bus it to work again. I did my run right after work around Center City. On my way back I remembered I didn't have to bike home and it was the best feeling ever.

Saturday 9/29:

10.84 mile run

I tried to let myself sleep in a little bit on Saturday because I was so exhausted. When I finally did wake up around 7:30 am, I realized I probably wouldn't have enough time to get the 25 miles I had planned done in time for Mike and I to go to the local food festival with some friends. So instead I decided to switch my weekend days and run 10 miles instead. I ran straight down the river path for what seemed like 5 miles and then just turned around. I was pleasantly surprised to find out I did almost 11 miles and got them done at a reasonable pace. The weather was crisp and cool and there were tons of people out including some partaking in a 5k on the path. It's really motivating to see that many people enjoying exercise and certainly made me run a little faster.

Afterwards we hit up the food festival and enjoyed some yummy food truck treats.

Sunday 9/30:

25.07 mile run

I struggled a lot with this run and I was dreading it all week. I've done one other training run this long, another 25-miler, back in August. But even though I dealt with DC humidity and had my left arm in a cast, I still had company for most of that run and it was in relatively new territory. This time around I was running on my own and the most creative, haven't-run-there-in-awhile course I could come up with included 15 miles on the bike path up to Valley Forge National Park followed by two 5-mile loops of the park.

It's a funny thing when you get yourself all worked up about long runs and end up having anxiety about them. I was terrified of being bored during the first 15 miles. To be honest, it was dreadfully boring. Even though I've only biked a good portion of it one time, the monotony of paved bike path, trees, and a factory every so often was killing brain cells. The thing is that I was dreading the run even while I was running. It's like I just couldn't accept the fact that I was already doing the run and shouldn't be afraid of it anymore. As if somehow 12 miles in I would suddenly want to quit even though I would almost be done with that section.

At Valley Forge
When I finally got up to Valley Forge I had new anxiety. This time about the hills. I've only run at Valley Forge one other time, a year and a half ago, for my first 10 mile run ever. I remember dying on the hills and needing to walk a lot. So, by the time I got there, after 15 miles on the bike path and feeling sore and tired, the thought of 10 miles of hills was hard to think about. Luckily I am in much better shape than a year and a half ago and on top of that I think my memory really overestimated the degree of the hills. My legs were terribly sore so I was going pretty slow, but overall the Valley Forge loops went well and didn't feel too horrible.

Pretty Valley Forge
I would be curious to know if I would have struggled as much with this run if I had just done it Saturday as originally planned and not run 11 miles the day before. I guess I will never know. This was my toughest training weekend yet. It was challenging and successful, but I'm left wondering whether I'm really cut out for 50 miles in seven weeks. I felt pretty sore after 25 miles and don't think I could have gone much further. But who knows, I suppose a good taper will help!

25 miles done!
Week 13 Totals

66.04 miles running
31.3 miles biking

Now on to a much needed cutback week!