It’s a beautiful day…don’t let it get away!

I just got back from a short recovery run on the Charles…it was absolutely gorgeous out and I got hot in a T-shirt and shorts! It’s days like this that give you hope that spring and summer are very close by.

This weekend has been fantastic. Had a great 12.1 mile run yesterday with the team…my Garmin died after five miles so not exactly sure of my pace but it was okay. Felt almost zero leg fatigue by the end of the run, but was a little tired when I got home. I had overdressed for the temperature and sweated a lot so I’m assuming it was partially due to dehydration, but other than that, had an awesome time running with a group at the beginning and then by myself trading places with Josh for the second half of the run since I try not to stop too long at water stops. Also saw Gayle at our last water stop…she looked so great heading back from what I found out later was an 18.5 miler! We had an amazing water stop crew…I have to idea how they made it from mile 17.5 to mile 22.5 so fast while making sure all the runners hit all four stops! I really wanted to work on the hills this week and dedicated each hill to the three people who donated this week – Lauren, Leanne, and Doug – you guys are awesome!

Also spent some of last night doing one of my favorite Boston city activities – walking around Boston when it is nice out. Josh and I walked from Porter Square to Beacon Hill…the city was so beautiful from the Mass Ave bridge view. Makes me realize how lucky I am to live here (even though the weather has been a little difficult to handle this winter). We also talked about how even though we’re both so excited for the marathon, how sad it is going to be not to have training every Saturday! I always look forward to seeing out Coach Rick and the other marathon coalition regulars and not seeing a lot of them the past two weeks made me realize how much I am going to miss it! Hopefully joining a running club after the race will help alleviate some of this, but I know that this year’s team is irreplaceable and I cannot be more grateful for the time I’ve had getting to know them.

Well, I am off to enjoy some of this beautiful day that will end with my fundraiser at Jillians!

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Beginning the home stretch…

It is the first day of March and the last full month of training. We will run our final “long” trainign run on March 26th and begin our taper immediately after that. This training season has FLOWN by! I can’t believe this week is already our first “step-back” week. After completely a very successful 18-miler from Newton Center to Natick and back at an 8:41 average pace and a negative split, fueled by 2 packs on honey stingers taken even couple of miles, we will be dialing back the long run distance to 13 miles this Saturday. I know that it is important to have these weeks in training, especially since I have really been feeling the effects of these 40 mile weeks through February. Part of me just wants to keep pushing the distance…but since I am not an experienced marathon runner I am going to tell that part of me to be quiet for now.

 I also am excited to report that I have completed every timed run  (this would exclude some recovery runs on the Charles and the New Year’s day 8 miler) below my goal marathon pace (which I think is a 9:09 but I’m going to say 9:05 to be on the safe side for Garmin tracking purposes on race day). My MV 20 miler was my slowest run at a 9:09 pace. So I have a really good shot at my 4-hour time goal for this marathon, which is great. But it also makes me nervous too! I’m almost as afraid of reaching my goal this year than I am of not reaching it. I kind of got used to the fact that I don’t always perform well on race day due to the anxiety and nervousness I get in the hour or so before the start. What will race day be like this year? How come some days during long runs I need to hydrate a ton but others I feel like I don’t need it at all? I still haven’t pinpointed the source of my side stitches, so who knows if they will come back? Is the taper we have on our schedule right for me…should I be doing something else in preparation for race day? Too many questions and not enough time to get answers!

I guess to sum up, I am really excited about the marathon this year. I know I have and will continue to put in quality miles. I am listening to my body and making sure I stretch and do core work to help my form. I’m even continuing my pushup regimen so that my arms won’t get sore before me legs do this year! I’m working on eating right during the week and properly fueling myself during my long runs. I know I just have to accept that I’ve done all I can and I just have to go into marathon day with a positive attitude…whatever happens, happens!

We had a team meeting at the MOS last night and it reminded me of how lucky I am to be part of the team! Such great people both running and supporting our team’s efforts. The Museum is going to have marathon related programming all through the month of April and is even going to park the van bought with last year’s funds in Copley on marathon day! I hope that this partnership with the BAA extends for years to come. It really makes all the fundraising efforts worth it, which leads me to.

MY FUNDRAISER! This Sunday, March 6th 6-8pm at Jillian’s Boston near Fenway. Free bowling and apps as well as a chance to enter the “Guess my Time” Pool. I’m asking for a $10 donation from all attendees.

The Museum is also holding a fundraiser Friday March 11th from 6-9pm. For $40 (all of which goes to the Traveling Programs), you get a full pasta dinner, demonstration of the Traveling Programs, free parking at the Museum, and access to the entire Museum after dinner until closing. It was a great night last year and I’m excited to attend again this year!

Thank You!

I’ve been a little busy the past couple of weeks, so I haven’t been able to post to update on my training. I’m going to keep the “training” part of this post short and sweet. I’ve been feeling pretty good the past couple of weeks. Had a great 15.5 mile long run 2 Saturdays ago and spent a good portion of it running with Sam and really just enjoying the run without focusing on my time. It was the first run since we hit about the 10 mile mark that I felt great through the 2nd half and wanted to keep going after we had completed the distance. I went to see my physical therapist this past Friday because I’d felt some tightness in my hip, but after checking everything out, he said I was in great shape with no problems, which was awesome! Last year it was around this time I got hurt…I am so relieved that with all the extra efforts I am putting in to be very mindful of my body and how I am feeling, I have had nearly zero issues (at least in terms of pain)! On Saturday, Josh and I went to Martha’s Vineyard and ran the 20 mile race. I had a good first ten miles, but when we turned around and faced a headwind and a temperature drop the 2nd half, it really affected me. I felt like it was really hard to breathe and stay warm in that headwind, so my 2nd half of the race wasn’t great (all between 9:20 and 10:00 minute miles) because I made the decision to walk a minute every mile to drink/eat and keep form. So I finished at 3:03, a 9:10 pace, which is slower than I would like for Boston, which will be a much harder course in terms of hills, but I’m hoping the taper might give me a little extra energy. But regardless of what happens on race day, this training season has been so amazing and I have definitely realized how much I love this sport.

Anyway, on to the real purpose of today’s entry. I just checked my fundraising total and I am at $2,283! I still have a long way to go before I hit my goal, but I am confident I will be able to do so especially with my fundraiser coming up. I wanted to take time to thank everyone who has contributed to the MOS Traveling Programs so far…you have no idea how much it means to me and the Museum!

1. Julie – thanks for being such a great mentor at work, friend, and supporter of all my athletic endeavors over the past year! I was thinking of you this weekend when I was running around Martha’s Vineyard…the first half of the course was very familiar from our day long bike trip around the island almost 2 years ago!

2. Kara – You were one of the first people to donate to my cause this year, which meant a lot. I also really appreciated all the support you and Trinity offered via email and facebook while I was struggling on the course last year. It was really great to finish the race and see all the words of encouragement and congratulations.

Chris R – Your PMC ride this summer inspires me so much, as the longest I’ve ever spent on a bike was 25 miles and it felt like forever! Maybe someday I’ll find the inner strength to take on the challenge of biking across MA…

Mosi – I am so happy I met you and Rob at MCM this fall. You both are amazing athletes and people. Everytime the training and/or fundraising starts to wear me down a little, I can always find inspiration in seeing what you two are up to. Can’t wait to see you rock Boston this year!

Josh – Seriously can’t thank you enough for EVERYTHING this year. From the first day of training this year, your constantly positive attitude and enthusiasm for running (and biking…and swimming) has been absolutely infectious for me, and I think almost everyone on our team. You will have an amazing experience at your first Boston!

Mike R – From our days in Winthrop House, you have always been a great friend and teacher. I know you are personally furthering the Museum’s mission to spread science education in your career, and your students are all the better for having someone like you as their teacher. THANK YOU!

Gayle – Every week I look for you out on the course because I know how hard you are working to train for your first Boston! I love reading your blog and training updates and appreciate the frequent support and encouragement you send my way! I just hope my first half-Ironman this year goes as well as yours did!

Susan – thanks first of all for putting up with me to be my roommate for over 4 years of your life and listening to me when I refuse to stop talking about marathons and triathlons. I also was so happy to see you on the course last year! Hopefully this year I won’t make you late for class…

Bryan – I can’t believe you just ran your fifth marathon yesterday! In less than a year and a half no less. If I hadn’t met you in the fall of ’09, I’m not sure I would have had the courage to believe I could run a marathon, nevermind three in one year. You have been so generous to me in my fundraising efforts, which i appreciate so much. You work so hard and I know you’ll get your BQ soon!

Aaron – your donation kept me in the lead for fundraising total in January, which was awesome, so thank you! Thanks for introducing me to my VFFs and the world of barefoot running. I did actually get in a quick run in them yesterday as a recovery from Saturday…and I still can’t believe you ran the entire Boston marathon in them last year (and in costume)!

John -Claude – So thrilled to have your support and to hear you’ve started to make your way into the world of multisport! You’ll have to let me how your Nike Free experiment goes…

Amanda S – Thanks for donating two years in a row! I hope your foot heals soon so you can get back to running and motivate me to go faster on the treadmill, as you are a speed demon. 🙂

Kevin F – I literally just saw your donation about ten minutes ago. It’s been great to see you at various races the past couple of years. You are an amazing runner! I love all of our running-related chats at work and appreciate all of your encouragement through my training. Can’t wait to see what great time you’ll post in your next race!

Aunt Dottie – Thank you for being so supportive of literally every endeavor I have embarked on my entire life, including the marathon. I love how you got the entire family to sign the history of the Boston marathon book for me last year, and looking at it this year has been a source of inspiration for me during this training cycle. Thank you soooo much for everything.

Annejeane – Thank you so much for supporting me this year. I also thought of you this weekend when I was running around Martha’s Vineyard as it was because of you that I got to go on vacation there…and I can’t believe that was 12 years ago! Little did I know when I was there in 1999 that I’d be running around the whole island (almosy) someday!

Mom, Dad, and Steve – You guys have been my biggest supporters the past few years. It meant so much that you were all out on the course to watch me last year and have been so generous in your donations to the Museum…I would not have been able to run the Marathon, or pretty much to accomplish everything I have been able to so far in life, without the amazing support of my family. I know it hasn’t always been easy, especially when I haven’t been able to hit my goals, but you all have hung in there with me and it means so much. Having you there to cheer me on during races is always that extra boost I need. Love you guys!

Writing this entry has reminded me of how lucky I am to have so many people supporting me. And with that, I am off to run!

Keeping the focus

I had another tough run yesterday. I did keep my promise to start off slower and I worked on taking in some fuel in the form of a drinkable electrolyte gel every couple of miles. However, I still struggled with leg muscle fatigue in the last 3ish miles. I made the decision to run back on Comm Ave since I got a little lost on Beacon Street last week and it seems to be colder on that route. Running up the back side of Heartbreak in the closing miles was definitely a challenge! But I know I have to keep working on my hill running to be prepared for that section starting at mile 16 on marathon day.

So even though I am a little disappointed in how my past two long runs have went, I’m trying to focus on figuring out why that might be so I can learn from it and get a better understanding on what I need to go to have a great marathon day.

It’s definitely hard sometimes to stay focused and positive when you’re performance on the training runs is not what you want. I was at an 8:30 minute/mile pace until about mile 9-10, and finished with an 8:46 average for 14.77 miles. I know that some of this was due to dealing with running on ice and waiting at intersections during that end of the run where I didn’t have to do this at the beginning, but mostly it was just me really slowing down due to the soreness I felt in my legs. I also know at the beginning of the run, I felt that I was putting in a  harder effort for the pace I was holding, which has actually been something I’ve noticed during my training runs during the week leading up to the 15-miler. I also ran 22 miles between Monday – Thursday, which was the first time my mileage was over 20 during the week during this training cycle. I also took in less water (even though I carried a fuel belt with me). And I did get the dreaded side stitch a few times, the worst one coming during the last mile which is why I didn’t run the little bit of extra route to get to the full 15.

So, what have I learned from the past two weeks? One, that I should start incorporating walk, refuel breaks at least every 2 miles starting at the very beginning and continue to start off slower (and keep in mind that “slower” will be different each week based on how I feel). I should carry water, gatorade, and potentially other sources of electrolytes with me during every run so I utilize them during this walk breaks. And I need to make good nutrition and plenty of rest a priority (something that did not happen this week). I’m sure if I go back to my past entries, I will probably have been saying the exact same things, but it’s always easier to say than do, so hopefully by the end of the training cycle, they will have stuck.

Sightings on this week’s training run

1. Current coworker blazing down the Newton Hills

2. Soooo many charity teams on the course! Definitely inspiring seeing how many people in Boston alone are running this marathon for Charity.

3. What looked like the BC men’s cross country or track team also speeding down the Newton Hills

4. Several dirty looks from drivers wondering why this crazy girl in a fluorescent jacket was running up Beacon and Comm Ave in the street (sorry, I am not going to run on the ice covered sidewalks)

5. The Museum of Science Traveling Programs Van purchased using last year’s team funds at one of our water stops this week!

I’m still just past halfway to my fundraising goal for the MOS. I am having a fundrasier next month and I hope that those funds will get me much closer. When I think about what the MOS was able to do with the funds raised last year, it makes me even more determined to get the word out. Every dollar raised goes a longgggggg way.

Well I am going to make sure I stretch and foam roll a lot this morning. I am exceptionally sore, and now secretly glad that the 5k i was supposed to do today was postponed. Happy Superbowl Sunday everyone! And don’t forget to watch Puppy Bowl this afternoon. 🙂

Reflections

This week’s long run was okay for me. The best parts of our 14-miler on the course was seeing some friendly faces from the Liver foundation team! I know two members of that team who will be running their first marathon at Boston this April, and they both looked awesome out there! I know how excited and nervous I was one year ago and how amazing it is to hit each training milestone (aka, running 14,15,18, and 21 miles straight for the first time). In terms of my run, I definitely felt very fatigues around the mile 10 mark and felt the same stomach pain that seems to be hitting each week around the same time. After thinking about it and talking to my coach, I think that this was due to maybe not having enough pre-run fuel (maybe I need to switch to a bagel instead of an english muffin), not having enough water (none after 7 miles) during the run, and a lack of sodium. Next week I will either try carrying licorice dipped in salt or carrying electrolyte tables with me. I am also going to start carrying some water and gatorade so I do not have to rely on the water stops. I didn’t carry any last week because it was really cold and whatever I carry often freezes before I get a chance to drink it. I’ll just have to be careful about keeping the bottles from freezing on those very cold days. So I did 14 miles at an average 8:39 pace. I was at an 8:25 until probably the 10 mile mark. I’ll also need to really start off much slower since the long runs are getting over the 2 hour mark at this point.

In Coach Rick’s most recent blog post, he talked about us now hitting almost the halfway mark in training and how it is a good time to evaluate our progress. Since I do a lot of morning treadmill running, the amount of snow we’ve gotten in MA the past few weeks hasn’t affected my mileage at all. However, I am going to try to run outside at least one weekday for a longer run. Relying on the treadmill is good for tempo or interval runs, but is a lot easier than running outside with the uneven roads, hills, etc. I also have been slacking a bit on my core and upper body work the past two weeks, so I am going to work on improving that. However, I have been consistent in my training, added speedwork, and been very good about stretching which has kept me relatively pain free. I just did my first post run ice bath yesterday, and while the 1st minute was very difficult, once I got out my legs felt completely recovered from my run. I also now have gotten the referral I need to see a physical therapist, which I plan to do in the next 2-3 weeks just to make sure some of the minor aches I’ve felt aren’t anything more serious. So overall, I am very happy with how my training is going so far and I look forward to my runs every single day.

I am so lucky to be part of the marathon coalition team. I know that I am working hard to train and raise money for the Museum of Science, but I honestly feel that I am getting so much out of this experience. The runners on the team are such great people that I really look forward to seeing and catching up…Saturday morning training runs are by far the best part of my week!

I also wanted to let everyone know about my upcoming fundrasier for the team. I will be having a bowling fundraiser at Jillian’s in Boston (by Fenway) on Sunday March 6th from 6-8pm. We’ll have a few lanes to bowl and Jillian’s is generously providing us with appetizers as well. I hope that this event will help get me closer to my goal of raising $4000 for the MOS. I am asking for a $10 donation to the MOS Traveling Programs (preferabley with a check for the purposes of the Museum being able to track donors) from all those who attend. In addition, I’ll also be having a “guess my time” contest. I will have a posterboard with me showing a range of potential finishing times for me at Boston this April. $1 allows you to write your name next to any minute during that time range, and whoever guesses correctly will get to “split the pot” of money raised by the contest! Hopefully this gives everyone even more of a reason to track me on marathon day.

And the streak continues…

I feel like I keep writing the same blog post over and over again, but the good training runs just keep coming! I know that eventually there will be a day when I really struggle during one of these, so I am going to make a point to celebrate the little milestones every week and truly enjoy every great run I have.

Today we did a 13 miler…the first 2 miles were along Center Street in Newton. Then we ran from just below Heartbreak Hill on Comm Ave down the course is the reverse direction to the Newton Fire Station at mile 17. Next we ran up the entire Newton Hills section down to Beacon Street, then back by BC, up by Heartbreak Hill in the other direction, before turning onto Center Street and heading back to our meeting point. When I started to run today I was hoping that I might get a PR for the half marathon distance based on the past few weeks of training, but I was having some stomach cramps early on that really kicked up around mile 9ish. So the first 8-9 miles were moderately uncomfortable, but when I saw myself slowing around mile 9, I figured that a PR was probably not going to happen.  Running back up that last hill was definitely difficult, but once I saw my average mile split at around 11.5 miles, I realized I still had a shot. So I pushed as hard as I could for the rest of the run and set a PR by almost 2 minutes for 13.1 miles (1:50.04)! Previous PR was at the BAA half in the fall at 1:51:59, although my Garmin said 13.16 for that distance. Anyway, I do know that Garmin’s aren’t always accurate, but I am very excited that I could break 1:50 this year if I keep this up! I tried GU Chomps today before and during the run, and they didn’t help the GI distress, although my energy levels stayed pretty high. I think I am going to stick with the Sportbeans for now and I might try carrying a small bottle of water mixed with GU with me to see if that would be an easier way to take in sugar. Pre-run fueling was an white english muffin with jelly and about 4 oz of G2. Also drank 16 oz of water before the run. No problems feeling dehydrated.

Post-run, I went to brunch with a few of the guys on the Summer Search team, which was a a good time. We went to Paramount in Beacon Hill, where the wait was a bit long, which just made the food taste even better by the time we finally got it! I’m really enjoying getting to know the people on this year’s marathon coalition. It’s awesome spending time talking to people who love running and are as excited for the marathon as I am.  

I’m now alternating between running in my new lightweight trainers and my old Asics Gel Kayanos. Haven’t really had the time to do any barefoot running…maybe i’ll do a cool down mile in those tomorrow. I also want to pick up a pair of another pair of Nike Frees (my current pair is too big) and test them out again.

The rest of the week went pretty well also. I had a good recovery run last Sunday, a solid tempo run Monday (6 miles), 5 miles at a consistent 8 min mile pace Tuesday, recovery run Wednesday, super short fast run Thursday, and just a 5k Friday to keep up the streak. Friday’s run was probably the worst – I always have a hard time in hotel gyms since it’s all different equipment and it’s usually really early in the morning. This hotel gym was also particularly hot, and I didn’t have water with me. Another lesson learned! Always be prepared with a water bottle when the temperature is higher than 50.

I had forgotten to talk about my experience trying compression socks last week. I only used them for recovery, and probably wore them too long (i.e., all day), but they definitely helped with leg soreness. I felt pretty strong during my recovery run the next day. I had planned to try an ice bath today, but that will have to wait until next week. I want to see how to best prepare for my Sunday 5k in a couple of weeks after a 15 miler on Saturday. I’m excited to see how I do in such a short distance…better keep up the tempo work over the next couple of weeks!

Last week I joined the Somerville Road Runners and am hoping to add their track workouts to my training schedule starting this week. I haven’t done these since early high school…we’ll see how well I handle it!

Also, I passed the $2000 mark fundrasising this week, so thanks to everyone who has donated so far. I’ll be posting details of my fundraising event in Boston in the next couple of weeks so stay tuned!

I LOVE RUNNING!

Had another really great training, week capped off with this week’s 12 miler this morning. I’m really making sure that I savor these great runs because I know that not every training run is going to go so smoothly. But runs like these always help in giving me the confidence that as long as I follow my own internal game plan, I WILL have a great Boston.

Backing up to earlier, this week, I did do all my weekday runs on the treadmill. A few reasons for this were a) my quads were definitely feeling the effects of training running lots of downhills and b) we had a TON of snow this week and while snow running is fun, it is not exactly conducive to running fast, as there is always the fear of slipping on ice and lots of slowing down to make your way around snowbanks. However, I did get in 1 recovery run, 2 moderate runs, one mini speed workout, and then one faster paced five miler yesterday. I’m gradually learning how to keep my form and maintain pace when experiencing a lot of muscle fatigue…this will be key in the last 10 miles or so of the marathon.

So today’s 12 miler took us from Newton Center down to mile 16.5 of the course. We then ran mile 16.5 to just past mile 22 (I think), around the BC reservior, back through BC, and back up Comm Ave tackling Heartbreak Hill from the reverse direction. While I did not quite negative split this run, I think my second half was within a minute of my first half, which is still something to be happy about considering how tough that last hill was. Overall pace per mile was 8:26, an improvement from the ten miler last week.

A couple of things to note about this run. It was probably in the low twenties. I carrier my water and SportBeans with me since there weren’t any water stations set up. Unfortunately these both froze by the time I wanted them at mile 3. I did manage to get the frozen jelly beans down, but wasn’t able to get much water out of the bottles. However, just past Heartbreak Hill I snagged some Gatorade from another charity teams station, which gave me a boost for the last 4 miles of the route. My race belt holding the water also kept moving around so I probably lost time constantly trying to adjust it. Also, the sweat from my head froze into ice crystals by the time I got back to my car, and when I took my gloves off, they were steaming. My face was also pretty numb. I think it’s so weird that it seems the worse the weather, the better I seem to run. Guess we’ll have to test that theory in a blizzard or something.

I’ve been reading lots of books and articles about marathoning, ultra endurance running, and the Boston Marathon. I love these stories – they are so inspirational and remind me of why I love running. One I just finished is called “UltraMarathon Man.” It is about Dean Karnazes and describes his first attempt at a 50 miler, the Western States 100, and a 200 mile relay he completed while on a team of one. Although I am still not convinced that I’ll ever join this elite ultra-endurance group, I am always amazed to see what we are capable of doing. Makes the marathon seem like a walk in the park in comparison. I am also really excited to race again! Speaking of which, I have an additional 3 races on my 2011 calendar now.

1. Super Sunday 5k (we’ll see if I can sprint the day after a 15 miler)

2. Martha’s Vineyard 20 miler

3. Timberman 1/2 Ironman Triathlon – my first half ironman!

I haven’t raced a road race 5k since 2002, and I’ve never run the 20 mile distance as a race, or done a half ironman. So 2011 will be a year of firsts!