WEEK 19 NYC MARATHON TRAINING: RUN THIS TOWN

Because, I mean, a run isn’t complete without Jay-Z, Rhianna and Kanye. 

So. This morning I ran my last training run for the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon. 2 slow and easy miles–it would have been easier if I hadn’t worn new booties yesterday. That’s another conversation. Here’s a cute pic!

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 11.44.00 AM

What an amazing 4.5 months it has been! What a ride!

Here’s some thoughts on the last 19 weeks:

I’m not going to lie, y’all. It was hard. I gave up my first-thing-in-the-morning coffee. I gave up make up.

I learned what it was to run at the back of the pack, and be among some of the last people to finish a race.

I pledged my life to Aquaphor, everywhere. I am still not tired of bagels. I prefer Power Gel to GU.

I found out that I could run 14 miles. I could run 16 miles. I could run 18 miles. I could run 18 miles again. I could run 20 miles–and it be the fastest miles ever. I learned it is absolutely possible to get blisters ON TOP of blisters.

It is not actually possible for you to get tired of talking about training for a marathon, not even in 18 weeks of talking about it, or posting on Facebook, or blogging about it. It is a game to figure out how quickly into a conversation you can bring up the fact that you’re training for the marathon.

My progression went from:

  • 1) Fear
  • 2) Doubt
  • 3) Hurt + Doubt once I passed 16 miles it turned to
  • 4) Acceptance of the training–I could say, “I’m training for the marathon” without irony
  • 5) Once I ran 18 miles, I was still cautious
  • 6) When I ran 18 miles again, I was still hesitant to say I was running the marathon.
  • 7) When I ran 20 miles, my husband escorted me to the finish line of my race-anniversary (Staten Island Half) and I knew all things were possible. In fact, my motto changed to, “Anything is possible”
  • 8) I now say, “I’m running the marathon Sunday”

I continue to give my allegiance to Aquaphor. And Ibuprofen. And IcyHot. My pain threshold is so much deeper than I ever thought it was, and have been running with a bum hip since August.

A marathon training plan is completed with a team. I’m a full believer. I have a full post about that, and perhaps a series of ideas around why I tried to do it on my own at first. Even though, definitely my feet had to pound the pavement, I absolutely did not have to do it alone. I want to thank my primary team: My husband. My Coach. My Nutritionist.

Facebook, and posting on Facebook and Instagram kept me accountable to myself and to the folks who followed me. I’m amazed at how many people were involved in cheering me on, giving me the motivation when I needed it, and the boosts of energy to make it this far. I’ll see someone I hadn’t seen in a while, and they would comment on how “inspiring” it is that I’m training. It brought me closer to friends, and it has stripped away some extra weight.

My folks at work have been amazing, and letting me change my schedule a bit to accommodate, and not judging how much I eat :)

When this is over I’m buying stock in the following things: barilla pasta. tomatoes (for pasta sauce). PowerGel. Brooks. Jack Rabbit. Garmin. Spibelts. SafetyPins. AQUAPHOR. ICYHOT. IBUPROFEN. NUUN.

I’m amazed at what becomes necessity when you’re training for your first marathon: fancy socks, fancy pants (THAT BASICALLY RUN FOR YOU), fancy bras, fancy jackets, special gym bags, special hats, camelbaks, etc.

Anyways.

I’m here. I made it 19 weeks later. These legs and feet carried me over 390 miles, 8 races, over all 5 bridges in NYC that you can run on, all 5 boroughs, 4:45AM wake-up calls, 8:40PM bed times (FOR REAL).

I think I’m starting to get emotional.

And you know, I’M RUNNING THE MARATHON, but if I for some reason couldn’t make it to Sunday, I do now understand–haven’t written this out–how the training itself is the gift. Because you realize all of these things about yourself, your resolve, your grit, your determination—YOUR STRENGTH DESPITE ALL ODDS.

And even how interesting some people can be: I can’t tell you how many times I would mention I was training for the marathon, and some green-bean-lean woman would look me up and down, and ask, “how far have you run?” Luckily, I wasn’t announcing that I was training until I got past the half-marathon distance, so I had some pretty impressive numbers to report: 14, 16, 18, 20! Then, instead of congratulating me, it would be some version of, “I need to start running!” as if if you can do it..i guess i can. And I smile and say, yep, I’m running 18 next week. And walk away. You can tell they have questions. I’m a big girl. And yep. I’m running the marathon on Sunday. The same happens on the road, a guy will come up thinking he’s catching me slipping, or some leaner person running near the back and try and pass me—-and I’m cruising, until that moment when they think that they’re going to “just pass [me]“—and my legs and heart and head come in alignment.

Speaking of, my heart. Has been so great. I’m still amazed that I can even run, honestly. And on today, on the 13th anniversary of my grandmother’s death–who died of congestive heart failure–and as I get closer to the age of my aunt Olive who died at 36 of congestive heart failure—and when I remember the week I spent in the hospital when i thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest…..GOD GOT ME HERE TODAY. HE IS GOING TO GET ME TO THE FINISH LINE SUNDAY. I’m running for all my loved ones I’ve lost, but who undoubtedly contributed to the person I found these last 19 weeks.

I can’t wait to write the post that will come after I’ve crossed that finish line. Thank YOU for following along on this journey.

WEEK 18 NYC MARATHON TRAINING: XO + Poland Springs 5M recap!

During one of my last speed sessions (which, went AMAZING), I had a 1/2 mile recovery. Now, usually, I walk, instead, I put on a slower-paced jamm, and jogged it out. ACTIVE RECOVERY SONG FOR LIFE. Beyoncé’s XO.  (though, I skip through the Challenger reference, out of, respect)

OK, Y’ALL. LET’S GET TO RECAPPING THIS SECOND TO LAST WEEK OF TRAINING!

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 8.02.03 PM

Stats:

  • Weekly Miles: 16
  • Longest Run: 7.7
  • Total Workouts: 3

Isn’t Tapering so beautiful?! To be fair, I missed one workout because of a cold that I’m trying desperately to keep at bay until Nov 2. I thought it would be best not to run on Saturday and save up my energy for Sunday’s long run, which I will tell you about later.

First, let me tell you, because your work out time is a mere fraction of the time it has been in the past few weeks, that leaves so much more time to freak out and stress out about the little things. Like, the weather. When Thursday hit, I started stalking the 10 day forecast, and on Thursday, it looked glorious! Clear, 50-something. Friday, I checked, and it said RAIN!! Yesterday I checked, and it seemed reasonable, though the temperature had dropped–high of 40-something. So I thought, starting today, I would screen capture the forecast. Here’s Sunday’s version of next Sunday’s weather:

I could live with this forecast!

I could live with this forecast!

This week, I had pretty smooth runs overall, though the trains in the AM made me cut them short—both days.

TUESDAY: 4 miles–easy. I ended up doing 3.5 miles, super easy, no walking, faster pace than I’ve ever done 4 miles, and felt GREAT. I prayed that it would carry over into Thursday’s run.

WEDNESDAY: I commit the taper deadly sin: wearing 4-inch heels for 4 hours at our Benefit, which was after work. My hips were not happy. I didn’t get home until 11:30 (clearly past my bed time) and didn’t know about running tomorrow, but, I had to! I didn’t want to write my Coach with some lame excuse (AGAIN, A REASON WHY GETTING A RUNNING COACH WAS THE BEST THING I COULD HAVE DONE)

THURSDAY: I ordered CW-X Stabilyx Compression pants, and shipped them overnight, thanks to Amazon Prime, so that I could wear them for Thursday’s run. Speed session; two miles at a pace I have not yet held for a mile, with half mile recovery. It’s kind of late in the game to still be trying to decide on Marathon gear, but I wanted to break these pants in. I didn’t tell my husband about this purchase, because of their hefty pricetag, and because I wanted to know that they worked. I call them my super pants now, though after Sunday’s almost-8 miler I’m not sure they’re marathon ready, yet. That’s for another day. But my conversation with C, when I got home from a very successful speed session went something like this:

Me: I rocked out my session today! I felt like I was flying! It was probably my super pants.

C: ?

Me: I ordered these pants, and probably spent way too much on them, but they’re GREAT!

C: HOW MUCH?

Me: *sends link*

C: !!!!!!!!!!!!! What, do they run for you or something?

Me: BASICALLY, YEH!

SATURDAY: Because I wasn’t running and C was resting his knee, which I hope feels better before 11/2, we used Saturday to figure out our pre-race, post race plan and to buy our “throw away” clothes for waiting on Staten Island. Nothing fancy, obviously. I bought a gray zip hoodie and black pants. I hope it will be warm enough!

SUNDAY: I was slow getting out of bed and moving this morning, but was determined to make this run, not only because it was my last long run (AND ONLY 8 MILES!) before the marathon, but also, it was race # 7  for me for 9 + 1 2015 NYC Marathon Qualifications. I didn’t want to pay for another race, and honestly, this is the first year that I’ve ran every race that I paid for :). Like I said, I had 8 miles today, and the plan was to run 3 before and then 5 for the race, however, I just couldn’t get my engine started running (again: low-energy week of my cycle) and so I settled for 2 slowwwwwww miles, and then I just chilled at the start. It had been a few races/weeks since I raced alone, so that was an interesting feeling to line up and wait for the start by myself. I knew that I wasn’t in as much of a time crunch this race and so I lined up in my corral :).

IMG_1520

Back of the pack, yall.

Anyways. So, even though I only did 2 miles, I decided to jump start my energy and take a Tri-Berry GU (it was laying around my house. I have switched primarily to Power Gels). AND ALMOST GAGGED. Why did I think this flavor was good? Why is this consistency so thick?!?! I suffer through it, and start the race. It’s a 5-mile loop of Central Park, Clock-wise, which is “backwards” for normal Central Park running, but I have to be honest, I am beginning to appreciate this way a lot more! The rolling hills are a lot more forgiving this way. I did more walking than I would care to admit, but totally used the downhills to save my pace. I kept pace with a few people, and listened to their conversations, and we leap-frogged almost the entire race. I started to feel a little bad each time they passed me, but I knew that I’d have a little more energy at the end, and that, I ran 2 miles before this race!

I rounded the corner near Columbus Circle where we would be re-entering the park next week (I should say, Poland Springs has the same finish as the marathon!), and decided to kick it in to gear. Now is the time to start counting the people I pass. Now is the time to mentally prepare for the uphill in the last 400m of the race. I finally passed these two women who had been in front of me for the majority of the race. One was a newer runner, and another was coaching her, it seemed. I heard them pick up their pace, and I did as well–NOT TODAY, YALL! NOT TODAY! I passed the other two women who I leap frogged with the whole race, and a few others who were strolling in. I started getting a little side stitch, so I couldn’t power all the way through to the finish like I wanted, and one woman came out of nowwhere (literally, no where. She must have been using me as her rabbit!) and crossed a hand’s length in front of me.

I finished, got my apple and bagel, and walked around for a bit.

I found a bench and cleared some of the debris that had fallen into my shoes, and this chatty gentle man walked up and we talked about our journey to here: ONE WEEK BEFORE THE MARATHON. We had both qualified in 2012 (me through 9 + 1, he through lottery, but b/c of Sandy, did not run), and didn’t run the marathon last year. We both gained a lot of weight, and he had lost about 90 lbs since June (which is crazy. and supports my theory that guys lose weight quicker than women!!), and it was my first Marathon, but it was his first for about 10 years, so it felt new again to him. We chatted for a bit, and I admitted I still had about .9 to go, and was off. I ran back to Columbus Circle, which put me at 7.7 and decided that I could go home.

It was SO WEIRD finishing at 10:30 in the morning. And being home by 11 AM. I don’t feel wiped out, my hips, of course, a stiff, but, there have been worse feelings in me. So for all accounts, I’m going into this last week READY AND HEALTHY! I decide to get a picture to mark this period in time:

IMG_1526

Ugh. Bloating. Bad angle. Whatever.

And there you have it. Just 3 more runs before THE BIG RUN.

WEEK 17 NYC MARATHON TRAINING: BLACK RADIO

This was an unexpected GREAT running song. Like, I love it, but I never thought to run to it: Robert Glasper’s Black Radio (feat. Yasin Bey)

Here’s the recap of workouts this week:

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 11.04.33 AM

Stats:

  • Total Running Miles: 24
  • Longest Run: 11.35
  • Total Workouts: 4

AS YOU CAN SEE I’M IN TAPER MODE. I do believe it is the most beautiful word in the English Running Language. I’m finally starting to feel the effects of training on my smaller runs, and I feel the strength building up in my legs, in my lungs. This week is made a little more difficult because I’m in my low-energy phase of my pre-menstrual cycle (I over share.), so getting out to do any of these runs has felt like a chore. Especially Saturday. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

TUESDAY I was supposed to do 4 miles easy. This was the first run after my epic 20 miler last Sunday, and then, because of work, spending 8 hours in a car the next day. So my hips were SUPER TIGHT, yall. I dragged my feet to a mile (with LOTS OF WALKING), then did a mile on the arc trainer, which actually loosened up my hips a lot!, and then did a more respectable mile after.

WEDNESDAY: I didn’t have a run, but I met with my nutritionist. We went over my last two weeks on the road and she congratulated me on working hard to make better choices, and we also talked about my race-day nutrition plan. More specifically, what I should eat because I’m waking up at 7:00am, but won’t run until 11:00am. I get two breakfasts :) I said I would try it out on Sunday’s run.

THURSDAY: 5 miles + Speed work. I had 4 x 5 Min at goal pace with 3 minutes recovery. My legs were feeling so good, I did 5 x 5 Min :) My “easy” runs are creeping lower and lower (re: faster time) and that is music to my little heart. I felt so good after this run!

FRIDAY: was supposed to run, but the snooze button won. I will regret this decision later.

SATURDAY:  A friend asked me how to get started running, and I said that I had 4 easy miles to run, so why don’t we meet up? It was great to run, and be able to chat with someone, and it be easy, and honestly, for me to feel like “the teacher runner” for a little bit. Hey, every ego boost helps these days! I felt energized after the run, and we’re scheduled to run again next week!!

SUNDAY: The STRUGGLE IS REAL, YALL. So, because I was trying out my marathon nutrition plan, I woke up at 7:00am, and ate my overnight oats (1/3 yogurt, 1/3 oats, 1/3 water. Nothing fancy. + 1/2 banana). I dont know what was in them oats, but, I promptly went back to sleep (I dont know that this will be in my marathon plan, LOL). I woke up a little before 11, and ate my usual pre-long run meal: banana, 1/2 banana, pb +j, nuun tablet in water. Even eating this meal was a struggle. I DID NOT WANT ANY PART OF A RUN. C watched me eat and felt sorry for me, and said i should have run yesterday (thanks, C), and then I proceeded to get dressed, and it took me the longest in the history of getting dressed, then I proceeded to lie in bed trying to figure out how to get to my starting point in Queens. C comes in and kicks me out of the bed. I sit on the couch. He pulls me off the couch and drags me to the door and waits until I put my shoes on.  This is what I had on tap:

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 12.10.58 PMStart in Queens, Run to the Bronx, Finish at 59th Street.

The plan was to run the last 12 miles of the marathon route, starting on the Queens side of the 59th Street Bridge. If you didn’t know, it was SO COLD and SO WINDY that when I finally made it to the bridge, it was 25+ MPH headwinds. I gave up on life. And walked it. I jogged down the downhill part of the bridge, but I still had no life in me, and contemplating going home.

I made it to first Avenue, and imagined what it would be like with thousands of spectators yelling for me. First Avenue, to the Bronx, isn’t “All Downhill” as they say, HOWEVER, there are enough downhill swoops to make you run super fast, and I was just thinkinga bout all the books and videos about the marathon that quote, “You don’t win the marathon on First Avenue, but you can certainly lose it.” I AM A BELIEVER, YALL. I BELIEVE. (See 5th ave) I kept seeing all these great paces on First Ave, and I didn’t want to stop. I was FLYING! I was riding this endorphin high, and not fueling like I knew I should have, and was just, running. I get to the Bronx, and need to consult the map, and followed the marathon flags, and that slowed me down a bit. Momentum gone. I made it back into Manhattan, and even in Harlem, I was OK until the Mile 22 mark (or mile 7 of my run). That’s when the wheels were coming off. I slogged down to Central Park to see what this “5th Avenue Hill” was all about. AND O.M.G. I won’t live, yall, I won’t live!

In addition to using up allll of the fuel in my tank from soaring down 1st avenue, and not replenishing the fuel, this hill just took everything else that was in me out. I almost gave up when I got to 90th street (the point of the route where you enter the park). But then I thought, I’d have to walk to a bus or to a train, I might as well keep going. And then I thought, what if this were the actual marathon, I wouldn’t be able to give up now. So I walked, and slogged, but mostly walked, to Columbus Circle, where I finally took myself out of my misery. I never made it to 12. It was something like 11.3….but it was a humbling experience to say the least.

Here’s some pictures from the run:

"Welcome to the Bronx"

“Welcome to the Bronx”

Willis Avenue Bridge (BX)

Willis Avenue Bridge (BX)

"120th Street, East Harlem"

“120th Street, East Harlem”

photo 4 (1)

"Madison Avenue Bridge"

“Madison Avenue Bridge”

Fred Lebow: 90th Street Central Park Entrance!!!

Fred Lebow: 90th Street Central Park Entrance!!!

Random event happening in West Harlem!

Random event happening in West Harlem!

Beautiful Beautiful Columbus Circle = The End

Beautiful Beautiful Columbus Circle = The End

NYC Marathon Training: “What do you think about during all those long runs?!”

So my training this period has been interesting. I’ve done 98% of my weekly runs inside on a treadmill (I get really cranky about which treadmill I run on at Crunch now. Who knew!) , so that means anywhere from 3-6 miles. Once, out of desperation, I ran 12 miles on a Treadmill, and when I was training for my first half marathon, I ran 10 miles on a treadmill, so I know in a pinch I can run long, boring runs, but I’m happy that my coach has kept my weekday runs to no more than 6 miles. SO VERY LUCKY.

During the training runs, usually early morning–I worked out a deal that on Tues/Thurs I can come in at 9:30 am instead of 9, but that still has me getting up before 6am on days that I run–and have *gasp* forsaken my coffee-immediately-upon-waking for the extra minutes I gain pressing the snooze button. Thank goodness my hubby sleeps like a log, LOL, or else I’m sure I’d be dead by now. Add “morning coffee for transit to work” to my list of things I gave up for marathon training (remember, make-up is on the list, also).

My workouts during the week varies a bit, thanks to my coach. Sometimes I have a structured workout–for example, today, I had 4 x 5 minutes at 12:00 pace with a 3:00 recovery and 5 miles total to run. I have come to love the structured workouts more, because I can just focus on little stretches of time–the 5 minutes, and holding on–instead of just basically steady-state running for miles and miles (tomorrow’s 6 miles “easy” would be an example of this). Given the tedium of running on a treadmill, I HAVE to have music. I’ve been slacking and haven’t really updated my music all training cycle save some songs here and there, but I’m certainly searching for some music if you have any suggestions. My “marathon training playlist” goes from Nirvana to The Roots, to Janelle Monae, to Adele, to Katy Perry, to Pharrell to Beyoncé. LOL. But, it makes those workouts bearable.

Recently–I would say on my last 5 weeks of long runs–I didn’t listen to music on long runs. The 18 Mile Marathon Tune Up, I didn’t run with music for 80% of the run. I thought that putting on music at mile 15 would be a treat, but I couldn’t find the right music for what I needed at the time, and it bothered me more than helped. So I took it off. I remember loving hearing other people sing to themselves, or really, just listening to the sounds of all the feet around me hitting the road. It was a nice distraction. I guess I can thank my years of marching band practice on a parking lot for that.

The next week, at the Bronx 10 Miler (I ended up doing 14 miles that day), I didn’t have music, and honestly I don’t remember what I thought about, I just zoned out, ran on the lines of the road and imagined that I was running on a treadmill like my body knows so well. It worked!

For the 18 miler I did in Central Park the second time–I ran 2 miles before a Half Marathon, and then the rest after–I didn’t touch my music at all. It was the ultimate test for me. My hip was hurting a little bit, I was running Central Park backwards, so it was sort of like unchartered territory, and I had 18 miles!

Once the half marathon started, I switched between a few techniques:

  • Body check: This is the most funny to describe, but I remember in college learning a relaxation technique of focusing your attention on one part of your body at a time until you covered every part of your body. It takes attention away from thinking about other things. This was most helpful when my hip was talking a little too loudly to me, so I decided to do a body check. Literally I would say (in my head): “Head, are you there?” and then, answer, “Here!”. Then, “Left ear, are you OK?” “Here!”. “Right ear, are you there?” “Here!” and so on down to my feet. I would break down my arms and legs to “bicep, tricep, hands, fingers” etc. to prolong the process. It worked and I forgot about my hip pain!
  • Counting my steps. I would count my left foot hitting the ground up to 100 and then start over. I would count my right foot hitting the ground up to 100 and start over.
  •  Army Count: Simply repeating: “Left, Left, Left RIGHT Left” ad nauseam
  • Coaching: On the hills, once I learned to “switch gears” and use different muscles to run up hill, I would just remind myself to lift my knees, that on the uphill that’s all I had to do, lean in, and lift my knees!

I’m sure there are other things, but I can’t remember them. I know I told myself repeatedly during the 20 miler that “this [was] the hardest thing I’ll have to do until the marathon” and that kept me moving.

Except during the 20 miler I was getting tired and hungry and I didn’t want to think anymore. So my music saved me. I think if I had been listening for the 4+ hours I was on the road, I would have been bored to death, but finally, near the end of my run, I put on music, and my body went into autodrive: my feet moved to the paces that they were so used to running on the treadmills. I could just run on muscle memory alone. And sure enough, my pace picked up magically! And it was then that I learned there was rhyme or reason to this training thing!!! I am thankful that I can run without, and that I can now use the music as a tool, to get me to the end.

WEEK 16 NYC MARATHON TRAINING & Staten Island Half Recap

Here’s my song for last week’s training. Beyoncé!

Still traveling, including a trip to Philly and Providence last week, but I made it to the hotel gyms, which, if you know me is a LOT of work :) I mean, who knew how heavy running shoes are until you have to carry them on a trip without your husband to carry your bags :)

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 10.44.40 AM

Stats:

  • Total Running Miles: 32
  • Longest Run: 20.25!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Total Donuts: 344.88

As I said, last week I was in Philly and Providence for work, and that meant a lot of hours in a car which was no bueno for my hips after 18 hilly miles on Sunday.

Tuesday: Tuesday I had “sprint” intervals 10 times, and 4 miles, but I could only walk in between the 1 minute sprints. I STRUGGLED to get the sprints in, and was overall just thankful that I could do anything at all besides limp. Getting into and out of the car was still a struggle by Wednesday.

Thursday I was supposed to have 5 miles on tap, but there was just NO TIME in the day to do it–I had to drive to Providence, meet with 8 students, have dinner with 8 students, and then hit the bed.

Friday morning I got up and got 5 slow miles in–some at a tougher pace than others. It was hard. The hotel gym was hot and dank. I struggled every mile, but it got done. That was most important, that I put in the miles. My hips were still tight from Sunday. This is why I worried about doing 18 one week and then 20 the next. If I couldn’t successfully pull off 5 miles, how on earth….

Saturday came, and the week before I had decided to coordinate a carb loading party. It was my race anniversary of 3 years, and me and C had 20 miles on tap, and a few other friends were running also. So I said, let’s get DOUGH donuts, eat at an Italian restaurant, and carb load the right way! My older brother and sister in law and nephew joined us, and my running friend Jill, and some other friends Abba and Syhaya came to load up the carbs! Before the dinner, I was tasked with getting the donuts from  DOUGH which was just over a mile from my house. Because I didn’t get 5 miles in on Thursday, and because on some level, getting some workout before a long run works, I decided to walk to get the donuts and walk back. That was about 2.5 miles. Then, I caught a bus to the Italian restaurant, or near it. I needed to catch another bus, but it wasn’t coming soon, and I was running a bit late, so I walked the rest of the way to the restaurant–not ideal, but I consider it cross training, yeh? Total miles on Saturday: 3 walking. Here’s the only picture from the night–DOUGH (What’s left of it) IN ALL ITS GLORY.

photo 1 (1)

STATEN ISLAND HALF RECAP: OK. So, C and I rented a Zip Car for Sunday’s run, because, who wants to mess with the Ferry, etc etc etc? Best decision ever. We had a 5:30 AM pick-up time, which meant waking up at 4:45AM, pitch black o’clock and go through the motions of getting ready. The beauty of having a car is you can pack things like 32 oz of water in a nalgene and baby wipes and a new shirt and compression socks and left over DOUGH donuts :)

When we got out of the car, the sun was coming up. Quiet at the start.

photo 2 (2)

The plan was to run 3-4 miles, then half marathon, then 3-4 miles. Secretely, I thought about doing 5 + 13 + 2 but thought that I would use up all my energy doing 5 so I should stick with 4. Welp, our car was parked 1 mile from the start. We started running from there and up the route 2 miles, and ran back 4 miles, yeh? NOAP. We still had to get to the start (technically we could have crossed perpendicular over the route to get to the start, but, did we? No. We ran the route backwards to the start) which meant my pre-half marathon run looked more like 5.3 miles. WOOPS. I will come to thank my lucky stars later, but at this point, I’m freaking out.  Still, C and I looked fresh-to-death for the start (and didn’t look like we just ran 5+ miles)

photo 1

So, I have a secret love affair with Staten Island Half. I think it was because it was my first race ever.  And I did myself so proud. I don’t remember it being so flat, but I remember feeling strong the whole way. I was excited to return to Staten Island, and do this race again, and the weather was certainly cold like I like it–but it warmed up. I need to figure out race-day attire–at the start, and the route is an out an back, which means no surprises, and even though they changed up the route (for the better–THANK YOU DOWNHILL AT MILE 13 (or 18!)), I still had a decent race.

Here’s our view at the start:

photo 2 (1)

Let’s see if I can remember any highlights:

  • At mile 2 (7) I started walking, and I heard a “spectator” comment: “Oh man, they’re walkin’ alreadyyy”. YES. WHEN YOU RUN 5 MILES BEFORE THE RACE YOU CAN DO WHATEVER YOU WANT. Rant over.
  • Mile 3 (8) was GU time. FINALLY. We ran up to this point and back before the race started, so I was familiar with the “rolling hills” and felt good. Because I knew I would be racing the clock (even more so now that I ran more than I anticipated because I ran so much before), I started a few corrals up. This would give me the time I needed to finish on time, and it would give C a Half Marathon PR in the middle of a 20 mile run!!
  • I had this great new belt that lets you put GU on the straps and so I had like 6 GU’s lined up ready for race-day nutrition. A guy ran past me and said, “It looks like you have a whole meal on your waist!” YEP SIR, when you’re running 20 miles, you gotta be prepared!
  • I take advantage of the downhill, which I know is going to bite me in the butt at mile 9 on the way back–the pluses and minuses of an out-and-back course. But I’m taking what I’m given when I get it.
  • At mile 6 (11), when there was supposed to be a water station (I need to pay better attentenion!) for my next GU, there was none. I realized i was HUNGRY. I’ve never felt hunger or such emptiness in my belly before. It made focusing on the run near impossible–I was just looking for the next water station. And suffering through a lot of walking, and barely any running. When I planned out my GU’s, I had a 2x Caffeine Caffe Latte GU that I would save for the half-way point. I needed it so badly then, but would not be able to refuel until after the 7 (12) mile marker.
  • Right before the turn around point (a little after mile 7), I hear a lot of yelling. and see people jumping up and down and waving. I think: man, this person has the BEST cheering squad ever! Then I see a police man running in the direction of the screaming, and think, oh, no. I see a man on the ground, shaking. A few seconds later, ambulances in both directions are coming to assist. By the time I make it to the point where he was, he is gone. I think to myself: Thank you, God, for allowing me to do all of this as safely as I can.
  • Mile 8 (13)–the GU is kicking in, and mentally my brain is like: we’ve done a half marathon! we’re done! Not so, my friend. We get back to the elevation-point of the course, and finally I have something to put my mind to–switching gears for uphill, letting gravity pull me down the down hill, and running in between. I realized I no longer like flat courses and this course proves it yet again. My mind is thankful for the distraction.
  • Mile 10 (15) comes and I sprint up the hill and walk some, but I start passing people on the hill. SO ALL THE HILL WORK IN CENTRAL PARK DID SOMETHING!! At this point, I start feeling better, because I remember when each of these people passed me on my “low point” of the flat turn around point. Now I get to reel them in. I always read about this in race re-caps but never understood what it meant, or how satisfying it really is. It IS!
  • I finally put on music between 10-11 (15-16) because I can’t do any more mind tricks. I just want the music to take me away. I shuffle through to find my good songs, and land on “Run the World” (hence the song of the week) as my first song. SCORE. My body just goes into automatic–it knows what to do. This is my weekday training on the treadmill, one foot in front of the other, listening to these same songs over and over. Just do what I’ve always done for the last 18 weeks, is all. And I did.
  • At one point, this guy I had been leap-frogging with comes into my peripheral vision. I’m on the jamming part of Run the World, and jamming, and he’s a pretty big guy in the way that I’m a pretty big girl. He glances over at me, but I’m looking straight forward–never let him see you sweat!–and he picks up his pace, and I pick up my pace. He looks over seriously at me at this point and smiles, and I look over and smile and nod my head, and think: what perfect music!! and Beyoncé carries me away, and I left him in the dust, and I never saw him again.
  • It goes like that with a few more people. I find some sprints in there somewhere, even at miles 16, 17, and at mile 12.something, I see C and a fire is lit beneath me! I’m so happy to see a familiar face! The race is almost over! He runs and I see my pace picking up, much faster than it has been all 12+ (17+) miles. Where is this coming from? Oh well, I go with it. I run with it. I run with C. I ask him where the hell is the finish line, and he walks me through it. And I’m half listening, watching the folks I’m passing by on my way. AND THANK YOU GOD AGAIN FOR THAT DOWNHILL TO 13 MILES.
  • We turn the corner into the stadium, and there are two more people between me and the finish line and .1 left. I tell C I’m going to sprint so that I can make it in before them! He says, GO! Then I say, but wait, will you hold my hand into the finish? So he grabs my hand, and we sprint to the end:

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 12.15.32 PM

I finish, and grab a bagel and apple, and eat the apple and take a bite of the bagel and continue walking. Even though I felt “finished” I still had 1.5 miles left. IT WAS HARD adjusting to going bcak to running, and immediately, I regretted the sprint (even though it felt SO GOOD at the time) at mile 13 (18!!). But I just had to jog back to the car plus a little more and I would be put out of my misery.

I kept repeating to myself, “This is the last hard thing you have to do before the marathon.”

And my Garmin beeped 1.5 miles

AND I WAS DONE LIKE BURNT TOAST.

I MADE IT! I MADE IT TO 20 MILES! AND TO THE TAPER! I still contest that “taper” is the most beautiful word in the English Running Language :)

And there you have it, folks. I’m in taper. This is the slow-roll into the station.

WEEK 15 NYC MARATHON TRAINING: A WEEK LATE & Grete’s Gallop Half Marathon Recap

Travel + Marathon training = late blog post and possible missed runs.

However! Here’s what last week looked like:

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 6.58.45 PM

Stats:

  • Total Running Miles: 30
  • Longest Run: 18.4!
  • Total Workouts: 5

I got a nice swim in on Thursday thanks to my brother in law! I love his pool!! I’m so thankful that he lets me cross train in it when our schedules align! Now for the weekly update. This is for September 29-October 5:

Tuesday: 5 miles with some pace work. I nailed it, and did more than expected of me. I swear—having an excel spreadsheet of my workouts and cross-referencing it with my daily mile workouts really lets me see how my workouts are changed by the time of the month. 4 days out, and I feel ON TOP OF THE WORLD! And sprint and do more than expected.

Wednesday: 4 Miles. What a difference a day makes! Now enter the working-out-is-so-hard phase right before my period starts. Please note the day before I rocked out–and speedy, too!–my run and had less miles, and struggled harder. Leh sigh.

Thursday was swim day. I did laps of the pool until I got to Letter T or 20 laps. It felt good to let my arms do a lot of the work on some of the laps and let the legs come along for the ride.

Friday: REST DAY! I think I was supposed to run, but it did not happen.  (See Wednesday’s PMS blues)

Saturday: Because I did not run on Friday, I wanted to get some miles in before the long run on Sunday. For October, all of my long runs are on Sunday. I have found that doing 3 or so miles the night before the long run lets me shake out my legs, and it sort of lets me get the crappy miles out of the way the night before rather than on the run. And for crappy miles, this run did not disappoint. See Facebook Status immediately post-run:

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 7.09.16 PM

LOL.

But. If I got those miles out of the way Friday to have THE BEST LONG RUN (to that point) EVER IN THE HISTORY OF MY MARATHON TRAINING. I’d go through it again.

So. First let me tell you that I have a friend running Chicago, and we compared training plans. Chicago is a week early, and because my coach had me do a lot of my long runs twice before I went up or stepped back, many weeks we ran the same distance. Except, last week she was running 20, and I was “only” running 18. I ran 18 on Sept 15, and it was successful enough that I didn’t want to ruin its success by trying again and failing. ALSO I wanted so badly to get to TAPER MODE (read: reduced training miles, specifically in the long-run category) that I was willing to run 20 last week to get it over with. AND I was scared of running 18 miles one Sunday and then turning around and running 20 miles the next sunday.

I wrote to coach to see if I could run 20, and 18. She wrote back: sure, run 20. But you’ll run 20 next week too. THERE YOU HAVE IT FOLKS. I ran 18.

I was also beginning to think about the fact that I had been using NYRR races for fueling and set-location running. Between June and October, if I ran the races I was signed up for, I’d have run 7 of the 9 races you needed to qualify for the marathon for 2015. And on the weekend that I had 18 miles, there happened to be a half marathon in Central Park (we are BFF’s now), and well, I registered to get to 8, and signed up for #9 and completed my volunteer requirement on 9/29.  YEP. We’re doing it next year!!!

Anyways. The Half Marathon on Oct 5 was Grete’s Great Gallop a race remembering Grete Waitz, and in honor of cancer survivors. I knew the half was going to be two full loops of Central Park, and as I had 18, I thought about doing 3 full loops a la Marathon Tune-Up, until I realized it was THREE BACKWARDS LOOPS OF CENTRAL PARK and then I changed my game, and did some miles, before (2) the half marathon (13.3) and miles after (2.7).

Because it was two loops of the park, I’m not going to recount mile for mile, but yall—I think I have FINALLY gotten the hang of running in Central Park, and dare I say it: I like it! I managed to figure out how to “shift gears” for uphill, downhill, and flat running, and prefer the elevation change to flat running now! Who knew?! Even some of the later miles, I ran some of my fastest miles in this cycle, and finished with a sprint (thanks, speedwork!). I finished 2.7 by doing a bottom loop of Central Park and then down Central Park West where C was patiently waiting for me to finish–that’s love!

And the kicker? I finished 15 MINUTES FASTER than the Marathon Tune up 2 weeks prior!

I want to write a separate post about how I’ve gone mostly no-music lately on these runs, and talk about other things I’ve discovered about myself while running. In the meantime, I still have to process this week’s feat: 20 MILES! I AM NOW IN TAPER MODE!

More soon!

WEEK 14 NYC MARATHON TRAINING: It’s our Anniversary & Bronx 10 Miler Recap

One year ago, I married my favorite man. Here’s a song for today. (Tony Toni Toné)

We spent Wednesday-Saturday in Philadelphia to celebrate our anniversary, and I was still getting over my sickness, so, marathon training was kind of lackluster…

Here’s the pictoral evidence:

Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 8.17.53 PM

Stats:

  • Total Running Miles: 20
  • Longest Run: 13.61
  • Total Cumulative Donuts: 291
  • Total Workouts: 3

Tuesday night, I decided to get some miles on my new shoes on the road instead of the treadmill, and went to Prospect Park. It was dark, it was hard. It hurt a little bit, and scary, because I was out there alone, and at night. But I did close to 5 miles, “by feel” which translated into probably more walking than I wanted…but I was rewarded with a pretty cool view at the end of the run:

IMG_1368

We did a LOT of walking in Philly, including the Mural Mile walking tour, which was super fun, and we decided to do that instead of going into the Philly Museum of Art (though we did take the obligatory pics in front of the Rocky Steps:

IMG_1400

Here are some pics from the Mural Mile Walk:

IMG_1412 IMG_1409 IMG_1408

I was “good” and brought my gym clothes to Philly in an effort to keep up with my marathon training, but the truth was I was still sick when we left. I tried to go down and do some miles, but it was hot and I couldn’t focus, and only managed to do about 2 miles, then biked while C was finishing up his 1.5 miles. That would be the only mileage “running” during the trip…

Here’s a cute pic of us (I’m SO SHORT!) after a great dinner in Philly:

20140926_211815

ANYWAYS—so, C’s favorite race is the NYRR Bronx 10 miler, which he ran in 2012, but could not because it was our wedding weekend last year. I agreed to run it this year on our anniversary both because, NYC Marathon Training waits for no anniversary, and I wanted to experience the bliss that he seemed to experience. SPOILER ALERT: There was no bliss on my part, only because I wanted it to be cooler, and we ran (RACED) 2.5 miles from Harlem to the start (shout out to the old hood, and the Starbucks that welcomed me for a bathroom break), and I was already spent before the race began.

If you’ll recall my open letter to NYRR, about the lack of water near the end of the race…I was certainly keeping open eyes to make sure that my experience matched everyone’s experience. And I’m here to tell you that each water station was filled with water and gatorade all the way until the end!

Bronx 10 miler is an out-and-back course which I tend to like. On the way “out” I’m thinking: YAY DOWNHILL. OH WAIT. THAT WILL BE AN UPHILL COMING BACK. Or vice versa. I was praying that the sun would still be behind the buildings on my way back, and for the most part, it was–enough–even though I definitely have sun-kissed shoulders. Because my pace has been MAD SLOW lately, I worried a bit about my pace for the race. Because the race is a road race–on Grand Concourse in the Bronx–they have a stricter time limit to get the streets back to normal for the folks in the neighborhood we take over. There was an honest-to-god sweep BUS creeping at the end of the runners, and yall, that put fire in my belly to make sure I was NOT ON THAT BUS. I swore I would rip off my bib and pretend to be a street runner before I got on the bus. If you’re familiar with NYRR rules, generally the course limit starts “after the last person crosses the starting line”, and so when I went to line up, I made sure that I was “somewhere up there” near the middle of the pack to ensure that I could get a few more minutes. I also went out too fast to give myself a “buffer” but having already spent everything on the 2.5 miles before the race, after the first mile of the race, I WAS BEAT, YALL. My pace dropped considerably and I just struggled to hold on, ahead of the struggle bus.

Anyways, I finished. C and I were re-united, spoke to some NYRR officials who asked to meet us on our anniversary…and I wobbled to the train. I’m still breaking in these new shoes, and I definitely felt it when I stopped running. I wanted to do at least one more mile when we got to Brooklyn, so we got off the train a stop early, and ran around Bed Stuy–C even paced me for a few fast blocks near the end, for my second-fastest mile of the run– before coming home.

We set out our cake to defrost so we could eat it on our anniversary day, and besides the fondant, it came out pretty good after a year–literally–in the freezer!

20140928_185942

 

It was the lemon piece of our cake, and it was certainly sweeter than I expected….but still delish, and I’m not sure I”ll eat more of it, but C certainly instructed me to save the rest!

In other news……………..

I’m one race sign-up away from completing another 9+1. Tomorrow I’ll head up to NYRR and complete my volunteer component….then participating in 651 ARTS’ conversation series, Love in the Time of Brooklyn., and Tuesday, I will attend Brooklyn Public Library’s Brooklyn Classic Cocktail Party; so excited!