Oct 31, 2011

22 Miles

AKA the longest long run.

I did it. I doubted my ability to do this run given it was my first run over 18 miles this training cycle (and in 2 years..). Both of my previous 20 mile runs were converted to 18 miles because of some setbacks.

When I was training for the NYC marathon in 2009 I stuck to my schedule like it was my new found religion. I only veered off course maybe 3 times in 18 weeks. I did my 2 scheduled 20 mile runs and wrapped up the monster month with a 22 mile run.

I think doing 22 gives a little extra confidence boost because the difference between running 20 miles and running 26 miles is HUGE. So for me pushing/training for an extra 2 miles brings me comfort (mental - plenty of physical discomfort) and confidence.

Thankfully I (very reluctantly) packed my tights at the last minute before heading back home this weekend. I literally shoved them in my suitcase as I was walking out the door. I was prepared for it to be cold in all other ways (gloves, ear warmers, layers, etc.) but I just had a difficult time accepting the fact that it might be cold enough to wear all of those PLUS tights. In retrospect I wish I had also packed my vest.

I opted for a new route that took me on some pretty deserted roads that, from what I remembered, promised to be pretty flat. It was about 30 degrees outside and I couldn't help but stop to take these pictures as I passed the Erie Canal with the sun coming up.

Those hills in the middle were an unpleasant surprise.

I owned you.
9:31 min/mile
Avg HR 159


  • I was able to test out my new fueling plan and a little and I'm feeling good about it.  As of now my plan is to take two shot bloks on the hour and one at the half hour.  I wasn't ravenously hungry by the end of the run so that's also a plus.

The BAD:

  • I was in the ZONE (I didn't even stop at the turn around point - just kept running through) on my way back and had to stop for a train right before mile 16 for a solid 5 minutes. Awful. 
  • The pain train came rolling through right around mile 18


  • I could feel frostbite forming on my ass when I was only 7 miles into the run. It was effing cold. Luckily I have the best mom in the world and carry my cell phone in my hydration pack. She was able to meet me where I was with another layer. 


  • Mile 20 I was running through town and a guy coming out of his driveway says "hey, I saw you running 2 hours ago" I laughed and told him I was on mile 20, with which he replied "holy shit". I laughed and kept running.
  • Mile 21 I stopped to mentally prepare for the last uphill mile and walk for a second. A police officer pulls over and motions for me to roll my window down (yes, that happened). I took an earbud out and he asks "how many miles are you running?? I saw you early this morning and thought you must be running a marathon". I laughed because it was not what I was expecting him to say. He then began to tell me about how he ran MCM for 5 years and how great it was and reminded me to stay focused. It was so great. I was pumped through the last bitch of a mile. Such a different story from when I did it back in '09 (STRUGGLES). 
  • Pancakes when I got back to my mom's house. Have I mentioned how awesome my mom is?

It should also be known that you should never underestimate the power of Justin Beiber at mile 20.

Oct 25, 2011

The New Yogurt Solution

You may have read my old rant post on yogurt and it's sugar filled craziness. My solution was to add a teaspoon to a tablespoon full of No Sugar Added jelly to a cup full of plain Greek yogurt. Well let's just say having the same flavor yogurt for an extended period of time is about as exciting as it sounds.

It was getting to the point that I would become a jealous 5 year old when I walked through the dairy aisle at the grocery store and see all those delicious flavors, knowing I have had strawberry yogurt for-ev-er. I tried to shop different jelly flavors but the number of containers in the fridge gets out of control and there are a LOT of bad ones out there.

I have grown so used to having less sugar/sweetness in my yogurt that even if I did buy a regular flavored yogurt I find it repulsively sweet. FINALLY I have found a new solution that lets me enjoy all the available flavors in a more nutritious way.

Start with a 6 oz flavor of your choice
 Buy bulk plain Greek yogurt of your choice.
Plain.. old faithful
Take two sealable containers (I use my Pampered Chef 1 Cup Prep Bowls - awesome investment) and fill them with 1/3 - 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt.

Open and stir your flavored yogurt of choice. Divide it evenly between the two bowls with plain yogurt.

Mix and store. Enjoy later :)

You still get all the protein (plus some!) and way less sugary sweetness. It's pretty perfect.

Have you tried this? What's your solution? Let me know what you think.

Oct 23, 2011

Week 14 Philadelphia Marathon Training Recap

I'm just going to put this out there - I have no idea what I'm doing anymore.

I'm just making up my training plan as I go now because it looks nothing like it was supposed to. This was technically supposed to be a cut back long run weekend but given the circumstances from last weekend I had a 20 mile run to make up. I did a little research and opted to do 18 and jump up to 20 next week because most of the advice I read said not to do two 20 milers in a row. So how about 18 then 20?? See what I mean -- I don't know what I'm doing. Is it time to taper yet? -- not that I really know what I'm going to do then either. But, you know - run less.


  • Tamiflu. I am %100 sure that I had the flu and the prescription for Tamiflu that I got saved my life training. I felt like death on Monday and was just pooped on Tuesday. Wednesday I felt like a whole new person. I put in 5 miles and spent the rest of the day resting just to be sure. 
  • I'm slowly figuring out my fueling plan for the marathon. My new go to option is the Clif Shot Bloks. They sit well in my stomach and are delicious (black cherry FTW). Only problem is they are a little difficult to eat and run with.
Those flowers are very dead by now and those Bloks demolished.


  • I had to backload my week because of being sidelined the first two days.
  • Lack of cross training and strength training (this seems to be a theme for this training cycle)
  • I've got a tiny little bruise on the top of my right foot. It also hurts. I don't know what this means. On the bright side I have ruled out my Mizuno's for race day. 
  • Blisters. See above for bright side. 
  • I got the BF to run with me!! He put in a whole 2 miles and I couldn't be more proud and excited. He even just signed up for the Tough Mudder in April - that's 11 miles! I love sharing/doing what I love with the person I love :o)

  • Long run dinner... chicken and dumplings from the crock pot. It came out AMAZING. Such a simple thing to make and super tasty. 

I called uncle. 18 miles or not that is FILLING. 

Monday - rest (flu day 2)
Tuesday - rest (flu day 3)
Wednesday - 5 miles EZ
Thursday - 5 miles EZ with fartleks in the last mile
Friday - 5 miles EZ
Saturday - 3 miles EZ
Sunday - 18 miles

Total: 36 miles

Looking back on my training brings up a lot of mixed emotions. I had a couple of set backs that I didn't want to talk about and some days where I just sucked and felt sorry for myself instead of running. BUT for the most part I think I played it really smart. I've just got a huge cloud of doubt hanging over my head right now as to whether I can run 26.2 miles in 4 weeks. I'm just hoping that next week gives me a little more confidence boost. I'm trying to mentally prepare for a finish time that I won't be super happy about.

Oct 20, 2011

My Happy Place

In class lately we've been discussing a lot of alternative methods for stress and anxiety reduction. We've been told to help patients try and find their "happy place" - a place that soothes them and they feel comfortable in. I joke a lot and said that mine was a small room with windows and padded walls (nursing school will do that to you) but when I really sat down to think about it...

This is my happy place and I'm grateful for every minute I get to spend there. I sometimes get caught up in thinking that I "have" to run 5 miles today. When really I should be saying I GET to run 5 miles today. I get to be out there doing what I love and what brings me peace.  I often wonder how I spent the first 21 years of my life NOT running but then I'm just so thankful that I've found it.  

Oct 19, 2011

Empire State 1/2 Marathon Race Report

I had been going back and forth on whether or not I wanted to do this race for a while. I had a 20 mile long run on my schedule for this weekend so I wasn't sure if I wanted to run the half plus 7 and all of the logistics that went with that.  Part of me felt I should focus on the 20 miles and get it done at once. The other part of me was just itching to race and see what I could do in peak training.

I've never raced an official half marathon (I know!) before so I really wanted to do this. I went friday at noon right when the expo opened and signed up!

I decided that in order to really see what I was capable of I would race the half and then run the seven miles afterwards to total 20 miles. 

Lets start with Saturday. To make a long story short - my throat started to hurt. This is and always has been my number 1 indicator that I am getting sick. It never fails. I tried not thinking too much about it and kept drinking my water and trying not to feel up lymph nodes every 30 minutes. Cue Sunday morning - I woke up at 1:48 AM to the worst feelings in the world. My legs literally felt like I had just run 19 miles and stopped dead in my tracks. If you ever trained for a marathon you know the exact feeling I'm talking about (foreshadowing - same feeling as the "Aches" that are associated with the flu). I couldn't comprehend why this was happening. Yes, my legs were feeling heavy all week because I'm in peak training but this was just uncalled for. The pain and discomfort would not go away and there was nothing I could do to get comfortable. I tried going back to sleep but it only happened for about 10 minute intervals until I decided to get up and go to the couch a little before 5AM. I felt like a steaming pile of poop. I knew I was sick. I was pacing around the house because A) it was the only thing that made the pain subside and B) I was trying to convince myself that it was nothing - all the while holding back tears of stress and dread. 

I pulled myself together and told myself I at least would go to the starting line and see how I felt (giving myself full permission to back out at any time). I had to choke down a mini bagel (usually have to restrain myself from eating 4) and I didn't even drink the cup of coffee I made (unimaginable). Struggles. 

It was about 49 degrees and the wind was pretty harsh at the start. I'm not really sure what eventually came over me but the pain and illness subsided. I'll now chalk it up to race atmosphere (love). I watched the full marathon start and I had to get ready for my start. I won't lie - I was terrified. I felt the usual race nerves/nausea but there was this big cloud of doubt hanging over my head and it was awful. I kept having to talk myself down and tell myself that I could go as slow or as fast as I wanted.

The half marathon course was a basic out and back (love) along Onondaga Lake in Syracuse. The course proclaimed that it was fast and flat and it actually was! 

THIS is fast and flat.
A++  1:45:00 or less
A+    1:45:01 - 1:50:00
A      1:50:01 - 1:54:59
B      1:55:00 - 1:59:59
C      2:00:00 and beyond   

The original plan was to take it easy in the beginning and ramp up my pace every 3 miles. I like to mentally "chunk" things because it makes the long distance easier to wrap my head around. The new plan was to push at a comfortably hard pace until the turn around at mile 6.55 and then gradually push more (real technical, I know). I knew the average pace I needed to keep for a 1:45:00 finish and a 1:50:00 finish so I kept those in the back of my head but didn't really think about them until the last 5 miles or so.

Here is how it actually went down:

I knew around mile 4 that I might be pushing a bit too hard to hold onto that pace for the duration and could  find myself bonking pretty hard at the end if I kept it up. I reminded myself about how I wanted to pick up the pace for the second half so I dialed back the pace in order to save some for later (see mile 5 and 6).  I took a gel at mile 7. Mile 8 was fun because you start seeing all the other runners the were behind you and it's entertaining so I picked it up a little without really realizing.  I remember that around mile 8 and 9 I was realizing that if held tight until mile 10 at a comfortable but hard pace that I only had 3 left and that was totally doable. THAT was when the pushing would really start. I think I was just really scared of bonking like I did in the Baltimore 10 miler so I would rather err on the side of caution and run too slow. 

Once I got to mile 10 I finally felt confident that I was going to finish and I stepped on the gas. Then, I got nervous about holding it until the finish so in mile 12 I dialed back again. It should be noted that for the last 3 miles I was passing runners everywhere. This was new for me. I'm usually the one getting passed in the end. Always. I was not passed once in the last 3 miles (as far as I remember). I felt like an animal. 

In mile 13 I stepped on the gas again. 1 mile to go. I got this. When I turned the corner down the finisher chute I gave it every ounce of energy i had and broke out into full sprint. I probably looked insane. SEE SPLIT 14.  Also, see Best Pace below.

SPRINT finish
Official Stats:
8:29 min/mile
Female 25-29 13/123

Overall 176/1138
Female 56/746

After the race I could hardly walk and I was FREEZING. I visited my mom in the medical tent (volunteer) and I hobbled my way to my car. I stopped at Panera for a bagel and cream cheese and was shaking uncontrollably. I could NOT regulate my body temperature for a solid hour after I finished. I took a hot shower and put on all the Under Armour Cold Gear I owned and a bath robe to try and get warm. I can't say I've experienced anything like that before.

Then it hit me. That sickness again. I don't know where it hid during the race but I would like to put it back there. I knew another 7 miles was completely out of the question. I was still frozen and by the time I got my legs back and functioning I had to leave for class. (Yes, class on Sunday).

Fast forward to Monday and I wake up with a 100.1 degree fever and a feeling of death. I go to the doctor and yes, I have the flu. Awesome. I've got to make up that lost 20 miler this week but somehow that seems out of the question. But that's for another day. 

Overall I'm just incredibly happy with how this race went. I give my self an A +++ for effort and heart and dedication. I loved it. I also think I love the distance. I can't wait to sign up for more half marathons and I think know I can totally smash that PR. 

Typing this post took all my energy for the day. Will post more pictures as they come up. 

Oct 12, 2011

2012 Race Calendar

I'm getting the list started for races I'd like to do next year. This is so exciting because for the last two years I have spent every other weekend in class! It really killed my race options. I graduate at the end of this year and I have a feeling I'm going to get a little registration happy. FREEEEEDOMMM!!!

A List (MUST do)
Cupid Chase (Philadelphia) 5k 2/11/12
Cherry Blossom 10 miler 4/1/12 - lottery dependent!
Broad Street Run 10 Miler 5/6/12
Philly Tri 6/25/12
Philadelphia Rock N Roll 1/2 Marathon 9/16/12
Army 10 Miler 10/21/12
Turkey Trot -- probably missing out in 2011 d/t Philly 26.2 4 day prior :(

undecided fall marathon (MCM/Philly/NYC or perhaps Tucson in December)
50k --- looking for suggestions!!

B List (would like to do)
Nashville Country Music 1/2 Marathon 4/28/12
Baltimore 10 Miler - to kick it's ass like it kicked mine this year
Bolder Boulder 9/24/12
run 27 miles on my 27th birthday 11/9/12 - could be tricky depending on fall marathon

What is a MUST do race that I should get done in 2012?! I'd really like to do more 1/2 marathons so speak up :)

Oct 5, 2011

Week 11 Recap

The Good:
Feeling like a beast. Perhaps it was the two down weeks from injury that I feel this good but I'll take it.

The Awesome:
I felt super awesome this week. Monday started off great because I felt like I could run for days AND be fast. I mentally and physically made myself hold back. I tried to think "caged animal" in an effort to save up for the weekends scheduled 18 mile long run.

The long run:

This week I took a different route for the long run because the mountains hills that I was bound to encounter on my usual route seemed just too daunting. It was a mental struggle to get out the door. When I get down to the bottom of my struggles I'm sure it all had to do with how intimidated I was of the distance. I haven't run that far in 2 years and I'm just coming off a mysterious foot injury. I played with the idea of pushing it back one more day to have a rest day on Saturday and run long on Sunday but when it came down to it I just couldn't justify it. I even convinced myself that when I start out a morning thinking like this the runs usually turn out pretty awesome. 

It was in the mid to high forties and completely cloudy. I did not realize it was raining until I stepped outside. I immediately stepped back inside for a change of outfit. I switched to a slightly warmer and more reflective top and added a hat. 

It was pretty smooth sailing from the get go. I did not let myself look at my watch until a little after mile 7 at which point I only looked at distance. I had never traveled this far on the new route and was unsure how far I had left. I was all about just running in the moment and not about the time. About this time (mile 7-8) my hips started to lock up. I don't really know how to explain it but the muscles in my butt and hips just get really tight and make each stride incredibly uncomfortable. I began to get really worried but was determined to make it to my turn around point (mile 9) and reassess from there. When I reached the turn around I looked at my watch and realized my hips were so tight because I was hauling ass and had no idea... it was so comfortable. 8:50ish min/mile is hauling ass lately (especially in the long run). So I stretched my butt and was back off to return home. I slowed down a little at this point to try and loosen up and it worked pretty well. I didn't really realize the elevation change was that much going out but I felt every single hill that I had to climb back up. It felt like they weren't going to end. BUT it oddly felt so so good. 

I literally jumped for joy when I came to my driveway at the end of this run. I felt AMAZING. I even ran up the stairs to get in the shower. I felt like I conquered the world. My original training plan called for this weekend to be my first of 3 20 milers but I cut back to 18 given having missed my last 2 long runs. I'm completely confident I could have put in the extra 2 miles but glad I held back. 

The doubt and worry I've been experiencing over this random foot pain and my ability to finish training strong enough to finish 26.2 miles seems to have subdued given the quality of this run. I still sometimes feel like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop or something else to happen and sideline me. But it's not going to stop me. I think I'm playing it smart and changing my plan as needed to meet me where I am in training and strength rather than trying to stick to the original numbers. 

Monday -  4 miles EZ (caged animal type run)
Tuesday - XT 10 minutes, strength training
Wednesday - 6 miles EZ
Thursday - 3 miles EZ
Friday - 3.5 miles fast and hilly
Saturday - 18 miles long

Total: 34.5 Miles

Week 12 Goals
Total: 36 miles
14 mile long run
Strength Training 2x

Week 10 Recap

Old news. But to bring you up to speed quickly, this was TWO weeks ago. I'm bouncing back nicely so far.

Monday - rest
Tuesday -6 EZ
Wednesday - XT elliptical
Thursday - 5 EZ
Friday - 12 miles
Saturday - 3 EZ
Sunday - 6 EZ

Total: 32 miles

Week 11 Goals
Total: 34 miles
Long Run: 18 miles
Strength Training 2X
Cross Training 2X