NYC Runs Hot Chocolate 5K - Riverside Park

NYC Runs Hot Chocolate 5K – Riverside Park

In three years of running, I’ve raced a near gamut of distances. My first race was a 4-miler, and from there I kept building. I’ve raced a 1-miler, 4-milers, 8000 meters, 5-milers, 10Ks, 15Ks, 10-milers, half marathons, 18-milers, and marathons. But it wasn’t until yesterday that I finally ran my first official 5K!

Leave it to me to choose a race in January, on a morning that “feels like 10 degrees.” Hosted by NYC Runs, the race followed an interesting course of twists and turns, flats and inclines, through Riverside Park. Never quite realized just how hilly it is off the river path.

Riverside Park Hot Chocolate 5KPhoto: Vital Vision Photography

Riverside Park Hot Chocolate 5K
Photo: Vital Vision Photography

I love the small, independent feel of NYC Runs races. Their racing field is smaller, so the start is more relaxed. You roll up, place yourself in the start pen, and wait to run. This time, they held a moment of silence to honor the late Mayor, Ed Koch. I respect that gesture; thought it was a lovely thing to do.

The plan was to race this with my friend, Jason. When we met up that morning, he warned me his hamstring felt off. Immediately after crossing the start mat, and hitting the first incline, we decided to ease off the pace. No need worsening an injury over a race.

We stuck together on the course and clocked in with an 8:03 min/mile average pace. Even after backing off, we rolled in a respectable 25th and 26th places overall. For me, I landed 8th place female and 1st place age group. Seems a bit ironic to finally place in my age group with a non-race pace! I can’t help but joke that it simply means the speedsters were home that morning. But, the stats don’t lie.

No matter, the experience was great fun. Numb feet, frozen hands, and burning lungs (from the cold): I loved every second of it!

Now I’m determined to register for another 5K race in the near future. I want to race one with everything I’ve got! I’ve a new respect for this shorter distance. It’s a refreshing change of pace.

nycruns5kresultsSince I ran Garmin-free, the stats are per NYC Runs results:

  Distance – 3.1 miles

  Time – 24:57

  Pace – 8:03 min/mi

  Overall Place – 26th

  Gender Place – 8th

  Age Group Place – 1st

Eugene Marathon Training: Week Two

Photo license: © All rights reserved

Photo license: © All rights reserved

Week two was marked by especially frigid temps. Still, enjoyed all my outdoor runs this week. Training is ramping up in intensity, which makes me happy. Logged longest run since November injury and am thankful to feel my endurance still intact. Working on slowing down pace on long and easy runs, which is my biggest struggle. My tendency is to speed off on fresh legs. Invoking patience…

Used my heart rate monitor for first time in quite a while on Sunday’s long run. However, seems I need to head to the treadmill for a max heart rate test. Per Garmin’s standard formula, I was hitting 88-98% of my max on the long run. Which doesn’t reflect how I felt, running  at conversational pace with even breathing. Suspect my max heart rate’s higher than the formula indicates. TBD.

Monday: Spin for 45 minutes. Scheduled for yoga but needed to use last pre-paid Soul Cycle class before expiration. Fun class at new NoHo studio. Liked the instructor (“String”) who varied the pace of class nicely.

While class was good, will be taking a much-needed break from spin this training cycle, with more focus on strength training.

Tuesday: Run. Switched Thursday’s easy run to Tuesday because of schedule issues. Was out for a 6am run with a friend. Temp was in low 20s with wind chill of 9 degrees F. Didn’t feel nearly as bad as expected, but thankful for hand warmers in gloves.

Admittedly over-paced this run. Was supposed to stick with an “easy” effort. While the pace did feel comfortable, I probably should have slowed this one down a bit.

  • Plan = 7 mi @ easy pace (9:00 min/mi-range)
  • Actual = 7.13 mi – 59:31 – 8:20 min/mi avg pace
  • Splits = (1) 8:37; (2) 8:22; (3) 8:17; (4) 8:27; (5) 8:22; (6) 8:14; (7) 8:22

Wednesday: Strength Training for 30 minutes with personal trainer. Biomechanics assessment where some muscle imbalances were identified. Most notably weakness in hips, hamstrings, and glutes. Also, over-tight back muscles are affecting arm range-of-motion. All culprits contributing to lack of flexibility.

Circuit workout included:

  • squats
  • single-leg squats
  • pushups
  • planks
  • static bird dog
  • oblique bird dog
  • plank with side leg reaches
  • plyometrics long jumps
  • burpees
  • cross-lateral side-steps (like mimicking a speed skater)

Thursday: Hill Repeats. Moved Tuesday hill repeats to Thursday. Another cold day with weather reports saying it felt like 3 degrees F. But it was sunny and calm, which helped.

Workout incorporated skipping drills on flat and uphill surfaces, 3 x 50 yds each, focusing on swinging knees straight and forward, swinging elbows back, pushing off slightly with feet, and keeping hands relaxed. Focused on forward movements.

Six hill repeats with relatively even splits (mid-7:30s with last at 7:10) on Cat Hill.

  • Plan = 2 mi warmup; skipping form drills; 6 x 2 min hill repeats; 1 mi cool down
  • Actual = 5 mi – 41:57 – 8:23 min/mi avg pace

Friday: TRX for 60 minutes. Strength training circuit consisting of:

  • Step ups, using chair, with high knee into reverse lunge, (12×2) each leg
  • Single leg squats using chair, (12×2) each leg
  • Pushups, (12×2)
  • TRX squats, (12×2)
  • TRX squats w/ jump, (12×2)
  • TRX hamstring curls, hips up, (12×2)
  • TRX low row, (20×2)
  • TRX low row, single arm, (20×2) each arm
  • TRX T deltoid fly, (12)
  • TRX standing rollout, (12×2)
  • TRX kneeling rollout, (12×2)
  • TRX crunches on hands, (20×2)
  • Oblique bird dog, (12×2) each side

Saturday: Rest Day.

Sunday: Run. Used the NYRR Manhattan Half Marathon as long training run. Temps reported as feeling like 10 degrees. But, was a beautiful sunny morning. Once moving, felt great for running. Ran with friends, which helped me keep pace in check. Maintained even effort throughout, even on hills. Was able to drop pace to sub-8:00 in last mile, which made me happy. Only recorded 13.29 mi on my Garmin, but jogged to bag drop and start line, which I believe makes up the difference in distance.

Fueled with two packets of protein-enhanced chocolate UCAN, which meant there was no need to refuel during the run. Even energy.

  • Plan = 14 mi @ easy pace (9:00 min/mi-range)
  • Actual = 13.29 (on Garmin) – 1:57:15 – 8:49 min/mi avg pace
  • Splits = (1) 9:00; (2) 8:44; (3) 8:41; (4) 9:00; (5) 8:57; (6) 8:54; (7) 8:47; (8) 8:57; (9) 9:12; (10) 9:11; (11) 8:59; (12) 8:47; (13) 7:52; (14) 7:32 (for .29 mi)

Weekly Totals:

  •   5 hrs 53 mins
  •   26.13 miles running

See all weekly workout recaps here.


To Lora V…The Girl Who…

Portrait by Sam Smith of Sam Smith Creative

Portrait by Sam Smith of Sam Smith Creative

So began the subject line in a recent email from a dear friend. In its entirety it read, “To Lora V…the girl who never lets the snow stop her.” Attached to the email was this fabulous surprise: the above portrait, illustrated by the incredibly talented (and dare I say beautiful)  Sam Smith, who’s recently launched Sam Smith Creative.

Sam’s cheered me on through every marathon training cycle I’ve done. Wholeheartedly, enthusiastically, unwaveringly. When I saw the way she chose to depict me – in running gear, race bib meticulously pinned (better than I can manage in real life), amongst a bed of snow in Central Park – I just smiled big. This woman knows me well: the runner who won’t be deterred by elements or obstacles.

To Sam, I say thank you for the gift – that of your heartfelt friendship and immense support. And, for the lovely portrait. I adore it!

Her kind, unexpected gesture reminds me to express thanks to those who continuously support my endeavors. To the pillars of encouragement in my life – my family and family of friends (as my brother often says) – “Thank you.”

Runners, we are indeed a fortunate community with the richest of gifts: each other and those who support our efforts to reach further, push harder, and unearth our potential with every mile.


Eugene Marathon Training: Week One

Photo license: © All rights reserved

Photo license: © All rights reserved

Week one of marathon training went well. Had an extra rest day to kick off. Met with Mike, who will be coaching me this training cycle. He’s armed me with a training plan, based off my goals and taking into consideration my past injury. Have some new drills to try which aim to get my knees up, my forward lean better, and get me off my heels! This training cycle focuses on speed work in the form of hills and slower long runs to build endurance. More strength training, more yoga, less spinning. Coming out of week one feeling quite good.

Monday: Rest Day.

Tuesday: Run – Hill Work. Met with Mike to review my running form and for first hill workout. Form drills by skipping up Cat Hill to encourage me to lift knees higher and to move off my heels as I run. Also focused on arm swing back to help drive forward. Did several drills up Cat Hill and also on the west side of the lower loop, that latter focusing on form with a bit more speed. 

  • Plan = 2 mi easy; 6 x 2 min Cat Hill; 1 mi easy
  • Actual = Form drills; 2 mi easy; 6 x 2 min Cat Hill; 1 mi easy; sprint drills (est. distance: 4.5 mi)

Wednesday:  Anusara Yoga for 60 minutes. After several weeks away from yoga, this class was a nice return to strength & flexibility routine. Poses focused on arm strength, using back muscles to draw shoulders/shoulder blades back for support, and to open chest.

Strength Training for 30 minutes. Leg presses on machine after yoga.

  • Single leg presses = 10 each leg, x2
  • Double leg presses = 12 x2
  • Calf raises/presses = 12 x2

Trigger point release with softball after – glutes/piriformis, hamstrings, adductors, and IT bands.

Thursday: Run – Easy. Goal was easy effort (pace ~ 9 min/mi or slower). Effort felt comfortable (conversational pace) for duration of run. However, paced a bit faster than plan. 

Slight DOMS in upper legs from Tuesday hill work. Tightness in shoulders and upper arms after yoga. No foot pain.

Foam roll pre- and post-run.

  • Plan = 6 mi easy (9+ min/mi pace)
  • Actual = (1) 8:56; (2) 8:30; (3) 8:34; (4) 8:29; (5) 8:42; (6) 8:48; (7) 8:11 (for .53 mi)
  • 6.53 mi – 56:24 – 8:38 min/mi avg pace

Friday: TRX for 60 minutes. Cross-training for glutes, core, back.

  • Step ups with high knee on chair, down into reverse lunge (12 x 2)
  • Single leg squats using chair (12 x 2)
  • Pushups (12 x 2)
  • TRX squats (12 x 2)
  • TRX squats w/ jump (12 x 2)
  • TRX single leg squats (12 each leg x 2)
  • TRX low row (20 x 2)
  • TRX low row single arm (20 each arm x 2)
  • TRX T deltoid fly (12 x 2)
  • TRX standing rollout (12 x 2)
  • TRX kneeling rollout (12 x 2)
  • TRX crunches on hands (12; 20)
  • TRX oblique crunches on hands (12 each side x 2)
  • Stretch

Saturday: Rest Day. Stretching & trigger point with softball. 

Sunday: Run – Long. Beautiful run along the Hudson River path and back. Kept pace easy and close to 9 min/mi. Ran negative split, dropping pace to 8:30 or a bit faster in the last few miles. Warm (but windy) weather for mid-January – shorts, tank, gloves – didn’t need long sleeves about half-way through. Tendons in right foot felt a twinge in the first two miles, but then eased up and caused no further trouble. Was mindful to relax my shoulders and hands, especially in later miles. Felt this made a big difference.

Fueled with protein-enhanced UCAN pre-run; had steady energy throughout the 12 miles. No need for any additional fueling during run.

Longest run since Pensacola Marathon. Felt fantastic!

  • Plan = 12 mi easy (9:00+ min/mi pace)
  • Actual = 12.14 mi – 1:50:52 – 9:08 min/mi avg pace

Weekly Totals:

  •   6 hrs 17 mins
  •   23.17 miles running

See all weekly workout recaps here.


2013 Spring Marathon Season: Eugene

Photo license: © All rights reserved

Photo license: © All rights reserved

“You must not only aim right, but draw the bow with all your might.”

Henry David Thoreau


I’m not a New Year’s resolution kind of person. There’s nothing about the calendar hitting January 1 that drives me to make changes. When I see fit, I change. When I need to, I change. And, when I’ve a big goal to reach, I make changes to make it a reality. Welcome to 2013: the start of spring marathon training, and my renewal to be Boston-bound via Eugene Marathon.

I’m making some adjustments to my marathon training this cycle. With the guidance of some experienced runners and trainers, I’m learning to relinquish some control and trust the process. More strength training, building endurance by slowing down, building speed by running up hills…lots of hills.

In the past, I’d followed training plans from books and made great progress. In three marathons I decreased my finish time by 32 minutes. And, have come away from each injured in one form or another. I know how to train hard. Now it’s time to train smarter. Last cycle I struggled with emotional obstacles; but now my mind’s in a good place. And, it’s my hope that aligning all these pieces – my head, my plan, my goal, my approach to training – that’ll land me at 3:35 (or faster) in April. Injury-free.

Only one way to find out, really. Back in training: that’s something I like immensely. I’ve got a fantastic support crew with me – new and old alike. And I’m grateful for them all.

I’ll consider Emerson and Thoreau part of the army. Those quotes above, they’re the theme for this training. I’m ready to run Eugene with my heart; I’ll set it aflame and make great things happen. And all that strength training, it’ll help me draw the bow with all my might.

Eugene Marathon Base Building: Week Four

Photo license: © All rights reserved

Photo license: © All rights reserved

Week four is the last base building recap for a while! It was a relatively slow workout week, which I decided to keep easy. By the time Friday arrived, I actually felt a bit tired and worn. Decided to rest in preparation for Sunday’s 10-miler which turned out to be a good decision. That run felt great. Monday, 1/14, officially starts Eugene Marathon training!

Monday: Rest Day.

TuesdayPersonal Trainer Session for 90 minutes. Went to outdoor track for benchmark time trial. First speed work since late October. Ran several laps at 80% effort. In between, I did some x-training (plank, single leg squats, plyometrics jumps on picnic bench/table) or ran slow recovery lap. Single laps at 80%, then two continuous laps at 80%, final lap at 90% with all out effort at the end.

She pointed out some helpful form corrections while I ran. Relaxed fists, shoulders, face. Forward lean from ankles, core in, push from glutes.

End of final lap clocked in at equivalent of 6:32 min/mi. Though I felt rusty, that was a much better outcome than I anticipated.

After, went to gym to do leg work. Single leg presses on weight machine in sets of 10. Double leg presses at up to 90 lbs in sets of 10. Calf presses in sets of 12 (no additional weight).

Foam roll pre-session and stretching by trainer at end.

Wednesday:  Run. Ran 6.5 miles with Erica on a beautiful 50-degree January evening. Kept pace easy and comfortable. No soreness after yesterday’s time trial and strength training. Un-timed run, but pace felt to be ~ 9 min/mi. Foam rolling before and after.

Thursday: TRX at home for 30 minutes. Exercises focused on core/glutes.

  • Squats (1 min, 2 min sets)
  • Squats into overhead arm raise (1 min, 2 min sets)
  • Single leg squats (1 min, 2 min sets – each leg)
  • Y-pulls (shoulders) and overhead arm raises (1 min, 2 min sets)
  • Standing row out (1 min, 2 min sets)
  • Kneeling row out (1 min, 2 min sets)
  • Suspended pikes (5 count, 6 count)
  • Sit ups with suspended feet (1 min, 2 min sets)
  • Saw plank w/ crunches (1 min, 2 min sets)

Friday: Rest day.

Saturday: Rest day. 

Sunday: Run. NYC Runs Central Park 10-Miler.

  • 10.14 mi – 1:25:44 – 8:27 min/mi avg pace
  • Splits: (1) 9:05; (2) 8:27; (3) 8:17; (4) 8:41; (5) 8:20; (6) 8:24; (7) 8:34; (8) 8:24; (9) 8:23; (10) 8:09; (11) 7:25 for .14 mi

Weekly Totals:

  •  4 hrs 24 mins
  •  16.5 miles running

See all weekly workout recaps here.


NYC Runs Central Park 10-Miler

Me, Ashley. Photo by Erica

Me, Ashley.
Photo by Erica

Today was the NYC Runs Central Park 10-Miler, my first official timed event of the year. While I hesitate to classify this as a true race recap – I went in decidedly not racing the course – it was a great way to usher in spring marathon training.

When Ashley mentioned running this together, I couldn’t refuse! She’s a great running partner. Proof?  We’d previously tackled three hot, grueling Central Park loops together during the NYRR 18-Mile Tuneup, and her company makes the miles fly. Since we’re both starting another round of marathon training, we agreed to keep a moderate pace (~ 8:30 min/mi).

The weather was completely uncharacteristic for a northeast January. The city was covered in a humid layer of fog with temperatures hovering in the mid-40s. Conditions were perfect for a tank top, arm warmers (which became unnecessary mid-race), and shorts. It almost defied logic to dress this way in the midst of winter.

Plenty of room on the course. Photo courtesy of Erica.

Plenty of room on the course.
Photo courtesy of Erica.

I quite enjoyed running my first NYC Runs event. The participant field’s capped at a small, manageable size. I’d seen this when volunteering at their Roosevelt Island Hot Chocolate 5k/10k race. Since there’s no need for start corrals, you’re able to line up as you see fit based on your pace and goals. The course isn’t over-crowded and has plenty of room to run from the start. It’s a very low-stress experience.

The 10-mile course consisted of two 5-mile loops of the park. We started on West Drive, not far from Tavern on the Green. Running counter-clockwise, we ran through the lower loop, up East Drive, up Cat Hill, crossing west again at the 102nd Street Traverse. We returned to West Drive hitting the rolling west side hills.

The small nature of the race also meant Ashley and I ran into a lot of runner friends while there. We saw Jocelyn, Abby, Meggie, Fiona, and Susan at the start, running parts of the course together. We also saw Jess doing her training run. And, on each lap we saw Erica and Steve cheering the runners, taking fantastic photos of the race.

Ashley, Fiona, Erica, Leticia, Abby, Susan, Me.Photo courtesy of Steve - NYC Running Source

Ashley, Fiona, Erica, Leticia, Abby, Susan, Me.
Photo courtesy of Steve – NYC Running Source

Overall, I felt great throughout. Because I’ve a tendency to get caught up in races, I’m pleased I stuck to my plan and controlled my pace. With Eugene Marathon training officially kicking off on Monday, 1/14, these miles were a chance for final base building. Having run two 10-milers in the past two weeks, I feel prepared to jump into my training schedule.

After injury, it was a confidence-booster to run 10 miles continuously, at a decent pace, pain-free.

For a great photo gallery of the race, check out Steve’s work on his site, NYC Running Source. This is also a terrific resource for current running news and upcoming races in NYC.

Ashley, Me.Photo by Steve of NYC Running Source

Ashley, Me.
Photo by Steve of NYC Running Source

Of course, here’s the run data:

Stats per Garmin:

  • 10.14 mi – 1:25:44 – 8:27 min/mi avg pace
  • Splits: (1) 9:05; (2) 8:27; (3) 8:17; (4) 8:41; (5) 8:20; (6) 8:24; (7) 8:34; (8) 8:24; (9) 8:23; (10) 8:09; (11) 7:25 for .14 mi

Stats per NYC Runs results:

  • 10 mi – 1:25:45 – 8:35 min/mi avg pace
  • Top 10 age group

Now, let the training begin!

Eugene Marathon Base Building: Week Three

Photo license: © All rights reserved

TRX Suspension Trainer
Photo license: © All rights reserved

Week three consisted of more running and less gym time. Mostly due to holiday schedule/winter break. Slowly increasing miles and logged first double-digit run since November injury. Finally at a point where my body’s feeling the closest to normal it’s felt since before injury. No noticeable discomfort or difference in the right foot anymore. Starting to rebuild endurance heading into training.

Monday: Run. Lovely sending the year off with a short, fantastic run on a beautiful day. First two miles on bridle path, which was slushy and icy in spots. Slowed pace and warmed the legs. Hit the street last two miles. Felt comfortable and strong. First run in quite a while where I wasn’t over-analyzing how my legs and foot felt. Just let go and enjoyed as pace dropped. So long, 2012!

  • 4.01 mi – 33:31 – 8:21 min/mi avg pace
  • Splits: (1) 8:30; (2) 8:56; (3) 8:07; (4) 7:54

Personal Trainer Session for 60 minutes. TRX session focused on core. Started out easy and progressively got tougher until I wanted to curl up in a heap under the equipment. Which means it was a great workout.

All done as circuit training with multiple sets going up to 45 seconds each.

  • Squats
  • Side lunges
  • Squats into overhead arm raise
  • Single-leg squats – each leg
  • Y-pulls (shoulders) and overhead arm raise
  • Standing row out
  • Kneeling row out
  • Suspended oblique crunches
  • Suspended pikes
  • Sit-ups with suspended feet
  • Saw plank w/ crunches
  • Suspended mountain climbers

Tuesday: Run. Emerald Nuts Midnight Run. Third workout in 24 hours and third year in a row for this run! Gorgeous night for it, even if I was dragging the first two miles. Running after drinking margaritas and champagne isn’t ideal. Felt much better last two miles. Silly run to time as it’s a fun run, but can’t resist run data. Especially the first of the year. Hello, 2013!

  • 4.05 mi – 34:10 – 8:26 min/mi avg pace
  • Splits: (1) 9:03; (2) 8:11; (3) 8:33; (4) 8:02 and crossed the finish line w/ a 6:39

Wednesday: Rest Day.

Thursday: Run. Chilly but beautiful weather for winter run. Lungs still don’t feel fully adjusted to cold weather running. Easy, relaxed pace.

  • 6.26 mi – 56:36 – 9:02 min/mi avg pace
  • Splits: (1) 9:06; (2) 9:09; (3) 8:56; (4) 9:22; (5) 9:12; (6) 8:45; (7) 8:00 (for .26 mi)

Friday: TRX for 33 minutes. At-home workout, based on core/glute exercises trainer showed me.

1 min each, 3 sets.

  • Squats
  • Squats with overhead arm raise
  • Single leg squats
  • Y-pulls
  • Standing row out
  • Kneeling row out
  • Suspended oblique crunches
  • Sit-ups
  • Saw plank with crunch
  • Mountain climbers

Saturday: Rest day. 

Sunday: Run. Longest and first double-digit run since November 11. Majority of miles on bridle path, which required more effort. Finished run on lower loop. Felt like a bit of a slog at times – distance, pace, and trail all significant factors. But, it’s a step in the right direction preparing for marathon training. Last three miles were fantastic. Zero foot and/or muscle discomfort.

  • 10.02 mi – 1:24:54 – 8:28 min/mi avg pace
  • Splits: (1) 9:11; (2) 8:48; (3) 8:29; (4) 8:32; (5) 8:33; (6) 8:34; (7) 8:35; (8) 8:19; (9) 8:12; (10) 7:32

Weekly Totals:

  • 5 hrs 02 mins
  • 24.34 miles running.

See all weekly workout recaps here.


2012 By The Numbers

Emerald Nuts Midnight RunPhoto license: © All rights reserved

Emerald Nuts Midnight Run
Photo license: © All rights reserved

Running without my Garmin’s nearly unimaginable. That being said, my Garmin obsession pays off at the close of each year. After ringing in 2013 with the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run, there’s now some run data to be analyzed! Since I only started running in 2009, I still get a massive kick out of seeing my progression year-to-year. Below is nothing serious, just a few numbers from my 2012 running journey.

Happy New Year!

Total 2012 Mileage: 1134 miles

I’m aware many long distance runners log significantly more miles than I do. Still, I’m pleased to see I ran 244.35 miles more in 2012 than I did in 2011. That’s taking into account two injuries that each required several weeks’ rest from running. With the Eugene Marathon approaching in April, I’m looking forward to running even more this year. What’s clear is staying injury-free will be my top priority.

Average Running Speed: 7.1 miles/hour

Though I’ve been acutely focused on training and race paces, I never really thought about it in terms of miles/hour. Thanks, Garmin Connect, for that fun fact. After comparing 2011 and 2012, it seems I actually increased my average running speed by one mile/hour. Huh.

Marathon Training: New Jersey Marathon – May and NYC/Pensacola Marathon – November

2012 was the first year I’d completed two marathon training cycles within a 12-month period.

  • NJ Marathon Training: 461.43 miles logged
  • NJ Marathon Time: 3:53:44
  • NYCM/Pensacola Marathon Training: 522.08 miles logged
  • Pensacola Marathon Time: 3:48:39

It was fantastic to have two progressively faster marathons this year. Both were challenging races. New Jersey Marathon was an “experiment” in which I knowingly went out too fast and blew up part way through the course. Still, I landed a 27-minute PR there. On the other hand, I executed my race-pace very well at Pensacola Marathon. On target for a 3:35, I wound up with a 3:48 after a stress fracture erupted at mile 20. Despite the 5-minute PR, I believe I’m more thankful to have finished the race at all given the circumstances.

2012 PRs: Setting the benchmark to beat in 2013!

  • Marathon – 3:48:39  (Pensacola)
  • Half Marathon – 1:45:03  (Philly RnR Half)
  • Mile – 6:38  (5th Ave Mile)

Eugene Marathon Base Building: Week Two

Photo license: © All rights reserved

Photo license: © All rights reserved

Week two was more cross-training than running. Overall, feel yoga is providing great strength and flexibility training. Really enjoyed the personal trainer session. Each session with her helps me build muscle to support running, and trains my body to stay in proper alignment while working. Only one more day of the year to possibly log some running miles!

MondayVinyasa Yoga. “Slow Flow Yoga” for 60 minutes. Class focused on deep twisting and inversions. Foam rolling & trigger point massage w/ softball after.

Tuesday: Run. Quick, short run in park at dusk on Christmas day. So beautiful on a chilly day as the sky got dark and the buildings lit up.

  • 4.06 mi – 33:52 – 8:20 min/mi avg pace

Wednesday: Run. Quick and easy pre- and post-yoga runs on treadmill.

  • 2.0 mi – 17:00 – 8:28 min/mi avg pace
  • 1.0 mi – 8:52 – 8:52 min/mi avg pace

Anusara Yoga for 60 minutes. Lovely class. Nice balance between Anusara (holding poses longer, concentrating on correct form) and Vinyasa (flowing through a sequence). Poses focused on deepening breath, moving with intention, and twisting. A lot of hip opening and side stretching. Liked straight-leg pigeon pose, which took pressure off knees. Instructor had tips for getting a better hamstring stretch.

Thursday: Vinyasa Yoga for 60 minutes. Different instructor than other Vinyasa classes I’ve tried at the gym. Class felt challenging at first – possibly because I’d been to yoga the evening before. Body was quaking supporting own weight in downward dog. As class progressed the sequences became more strenuous, and my body adapted. By end, downward dog felt like a recovery pose! Fantastic strength & flexibility workout. 

Friday: Personal Trainer Session for 60 minutes. Core and glutes circuit training.

  • Treadmill run warmup – 5 mins
  • Foam rolling
  • Rowing Machine – 3 mins/fast reps, med resistance
  • Single leg squats using bench – 12x each leg
  • Single leg step-ups, high knee, down into reverse lunge – 12x each leg
  • Walking lunges w/ 15 lb kettlebell (pass weight under leg & switch hands)
  • Plank – 3 mins
  • Single leg squats using bench & 15 lb kettlebell on shoulder – 12x each leg
  • Single leg step-ups, high knee, down into reverse lunge w/ 15 lb kettlebell on shoulder – 12x each leg
  • Rotating planks (prone-to-side) – 10x each side
  • Plyometrics bench jumps up, down, into pushup – 10x
  • Walking lunges w/ 15 lb kettlebell (pass weight under leg & switch hands)
  • Stretching

Saturday: Rest. Travel day to PA to visit family.

Sunday: Run. Treadmill run in PA. Snow on Saturday was a sheet of ice Sunday. Took my run indoors to avoid injury. Intended to do 10 miles, but only gave myself enough time to run 8. Gym at my parent’s place felt like running mid-summer: so hot! At least I got in the majority of the miles I’d planned. Staying on track when I’m not home is never that easy. 

  • 8.0 mi – 1:12:00 – 9:00 min/mi avg pace

Weekly Totals:

  •   6 hrs  11 mins
  •   15.06 miles running.

See all weekly workout recaps here.


Running In 2012: Q&A

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Photo license: © All rights reserved

The 2012 year-in-running Q&A caught my attention after being mentioned by three amazing runners – Ashley, Jess, and Melissa. The questions got me reflecting on the year’s experiences. Since it was quite unpredictable and unprecedented (for me), I decided to follow suit and offer up a few words to give the year its due credit. And then, to finally say farewell as I look ahead to 2013.

I’ve added my responses to the questions originated by Miss Zippy.

Best Race Experience: Pensacola Marathon

Anyone who followed my fall marathon season is probably scratching their head thinking: Really? Pensacola, the race that was never meant to be. It was my last-minute backup plan to the canceled New York City Marathon. It was also the race in which I had 20 fabulous miles at target pace before a stress-fractured foot stole my Boston Qualifying time from me. Why, then, would it be my best race experience? Because it was real life. The Pensacola experience taught me that even with quality preparation, the unpredictable’s still a very real factor. The events that unfolded here afforded me more life-lessons than I would’ve received had I easily achieved my goal.

Best Run: 22-Mile Training Run (20 miles courtesy of the New York Flyers)

This run came 13 weeks into New York City Marathon training. It was my last, and longest, training run prior to taper. In the beginning of training, I’d struggled with the idea of running five 20-milers. By the time this long run rolled around, it was my sixth 20+ miler! I ran this with Jess, and it was a defining moment. I realized that not only was my Boston Qualifying time (3:40) a real possibility, but that I had the ability to blow that time out of the water. It was when I confidently ushered in my “A” goal time of 3:35.

Best New Piece of Gear: Generation UCAN

UCAN isn’t necessarily gear, but a fantastic product. It came highly recommended by endurance athlete friends of mine (think triathletes, Ironmen, and an Olympian). How could I refuse trying it after they’d touted its benefits. It was a wise switch, mid-training, on my part. The slow-release starch eliminated my need to carry and consume copious amounts of gels. It saved my stomach; and it helped me comfortably get through 15 miles of my long runs before needing to refuel. I can’t sing its praises enough!

Best Piece of Running Advice Received: Things don’t just fall into place. You MAKE them fall into place.

Those are words that came from a dear friend at a pivotal moment in training. I’d struggled with a plethora of emotional obstacles in the early weeks. My confidence was faltering, my training paces were consistently off. Then I took control and turned a corner. As my confidence increased, my training strengthened. Or, was it the other way around? Either way, those words made me realize I owed it to myself to take credit for the hard work I’d done. Things indeed didn’t just fall into place. It was my effort and determination that enabled the change I needed most.

Most Inspirational Runner(s): Jess, Kristy, Ashley, and Courtney.

These ladies are a constant source of encouragement – not only by their words but by their actions as well. Their training, running, and outlook on life are galvanizing! You can’t talk to them and not want to do your absolute best. I’m thankful the New York City Marathon brought them into my life.

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?

2012 was the gateway to infinite potential.

Eugene Marathon Base Building: Week One

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Photo license: © All rights reserved

Week one of base building for Eugene Marathon! Am enjoying working with a personal trainer to help build muscle mass and work areas that’ll help balance out running form. Running is feeling less rusty each time I go. Am careful to assess how I’m feeling with each run. This week saw my highest mileage since Pensacola Marathon and injury. Feels good to start building back up carefully and slowly.

Monday: Run. Treadmill run and second run in Saucony Ride 5. I like them. Few minutes warmup, with majority of run at 8:30-8:20 pace at 1.5-2.0 incline.

  • 3.34 mi – 30:00 – 8:58 min/mi avg pace

Vinyasa Yoga. “Slow Flow Yoga” for 60 minutes. Class began with a relatively easy sequence and progressively got more challenging.

Tuesday: Iyengar Yoga for 75 minutes. Liked this class much better than Vinyasa yoga. It closely resembles the yoga I was practicing at an outside studio. Poses were held longer, concentrating on correct posture. Challenging class that built on basic concepts of balance and hugging the midline with the legs. Poses advanced, incorporating all concepts presented. Loved trying out handstand and crow pose again! Been a while.

Run. Slow outdoor run taking advantage of 52 degrees and sunny weather in mid-December. Legs felt a bit looser. Foot muscles were more relaxed.

  • 3.01 mi – 26:32 – 8:48 min/mi avg pace

Wednesday: Rest day.

Thursday: Spin class at Soul Cycle for 45 minutes. Went to 6:15 am class. Fun to be back (haven’t been since before marathon taper). Was a bit disappointed class didn’t feature any hill work and/or higher resistance.

Run. Chilly, windy evening run. Focused on form (relaxed shoulders, engaged core, forward lean, engaged glutes) and was happy to see pace increased without extra effort. Enjoying running in Saucony Ride 5s.

  • 4.01 mi – 33:43 – 8:24 min/mi avg pace

Friday: Personal Trainer Session. Back and shoulders weights session.

  • Foam roll
  • Treadmill run for warmup. 5 mins
  • Softball trigger point on glutes & hamstrings
  • Single leg presses on weight machine. 3 x 8 each leg.
  • Calf presses on weight machine. 3 x 15
  • Plank. 2 mins
  • Lat Pulldowns w/ increasing weight. 3 x 12
  • Row machine, both arms. 2 x 12
  • Row machine, alternating arms while squatting. 2 x 12
  • Row machine, laying down while holding and releasing hands-to-knee crunches. 2 x 8
  • Free weights on yoga ball, 5 lb dumbbells: (2 sets each)
  • Quick, forward presses (heartbeat) out from chest & back. 40 secs
  • Shoulder presses. 40 secs
  • Lat raises. 40 secs
  • Stretching

Saturday: Rest day.

Sunday: Run. Longest run since Pensacola Marathon & post-injury. Slow, easy run with Jess around the lower loop of park, onto bridle path, and back to lower loop. Felt good to get a longer run in. Body felt fine. Lungs adjusting to winter running.

  • 8.01 mi – 1:11:46 – 8:57 min/mi avg pace

Weekly Totals:

  •  6 hrs 42 mins
  •  18.37 miles running.

See all weekly workout recaps here.


Post-Marathon/Injury Recovery: Week Five


Week five was a good week. Was my first official week with the personal trainer; and I received clearance to re-introduce running into my workouts! I’m enjoying the trainer sessions as she has me doing more strength and weight training. The workouts are tough but they’re the path to faster and healthier running.

My first post-injury run was on the treadmill so the trainer could perform a gait analysis. She suggested moving from a stability shoe into a neutral model. Visited Jack Rabbit, where a second gait analysis confirmed: I’m no longer over-pronating. Am trying Saucony Ride 5, which has a lower heel-to-toe profile than the Brooks Adrenalines I’d been wearing. The goal is to eventually transition to something like the Saucony Kinvara 3, which is even flatter.

The path to Boston via Eugene Marathon‘s suddenly looking a lot clearer.

Monday: Elliptical. Strength training intervals for 1.27 miles in 30 minutes. Quick workout pre-yoga class. Cardio resistance = 30, strength training resistance = 75.

Vinyasa Yoga. “Slow Flow Yoga” for one hour. Series of intense poses focused on hips and back. Instructor pegged me as a runner, which means my flexibility is sorely lacking.

Tuesday: Personal Trainer Session. One-hour session focused on legs and core. Workout highlighted how my muscles are over-tight and underworked. If I was on track for a 3:35 marathon until injury struck, what will I be capable of with proper cross-training? It’s highly motivating to find out.

Workout included: 

  • Leg press machine – both legs & single leg to engage glutes; toes to work calf muscles.
  • Dynamic stretches for hips and hamstrings – forward standing bend, walk hands forward to plank, right foot up to hand & back, repeat left side, resume plank, walk feet to hands to resume standing forward bend. Across floor & back.
  • Sideways walking plank – plank, swing leg out to side, walk hands over, bring other leg over, resume plank. Across floor & back.
  • Hamstring/lunge work – kick foot to butt, extend leg forward (mechanical motion) into lunge. Across floor & back.
  • One-legged squats.
  • Foam roll.

Wednesday: Rest day.

Thursday: Personal Trainer Session. Seventy-five minute session, including gait analysis on treadmill. My first run post-injury! Felt creaky to run and form was way off after four weeks of no running. Session focused on fast twitch muscles, and engaging core/glutes.

Workout included:

  • Foam roll.
  • Treadmill – flat for gait analysis; 9.5 elevation to engage core/glutes; barefoot to observe natural foot strike.
  • Hamstring/lunge work – kick foot to butt, extend leg forward (mechanical motion) in to lunge. Across floor & back.
  • Fast twitch muscle drill – running butt kicks backward, quickly.
  • Fast twitch muscle drill – from a prone position on floor, jump to starting block position, high knee sprint.
  • Power sled – 70 lbs on frame; engage all muscles to push sled back & forth across studio x3.
  • Power sled – 120 lbs total on frame; back & forth across studio x3.
  • Foam roll.
  • Dynamic stretches for hamstrings and hips.

Friday: Rest day.

Saturday: Vinyasa yoga for 75 minutes. More vigorous session with some difficult poses and challenging sequences. Crowded class.

Run. Short, easy road run to test foot. First run in Saucony Ride 5’s. Felt good, no foot pain. Muscle needs to adjust to doing work again. Can’t imagine what this would’ve felt like if I’d done no exercise while recovering.

Actual: 2.01 mi – 17:17 – 8:36 min/mi avg pace.

Sunday: Volunteer at NYC Runs 5k & 10k. Not necessarily an active workout, but five hours on my feet. So not quite a rest day, either.

Weekly Totals:

  • 5 hrs 17 mins
  • 1.27 miles on elliptical
  • 2.01 miles running.

See all weekly workout recaps here.


Post-Marathon/Injury Recovery: Week Four

Photo license: © All rights reserved

Photo license: © All rights reserved

Week four was a somewhat easy week, workout-wise. The good news is my right foot is feeling great and continues to be pain-free. Walking is back to normal, as is getting up and down the stairs. Feels as if nothing happened a few weeks ago. Finally made it back to yoga class, which was fantastic. And, although I don’t love using the elliptical machine, was nice to hop on there and not experience any foot pain.

Joined a new gym and met with a personal trainer.  Will be working with her moving forward. She suggested incorporating more strength and weight training into my workout schedule. The idea is to train the core and glutes to take on more of the work load when I’m able to run again. Right now, I’m too quad-depenedent.

Return to the doctor this coming Wednesday for an X-ray and prognosis of when I may be able to return to running.

Monday: Stationary bike. Interval spin session on bike for 15.2 miles in 46 minutes. Included: seated flats; seated climbs; standing climbs; jumps; and standing run. Moderate to hard resistance. First spin session putting pressure back on my right foot. No pain!

Core session. Worked on abs, glutes, and legs for 30 minutes.

Tuesday: Rest day. 

Wednesday: Personal trainer session. Met with personal trainer for a 60-minute trial session. Strength training circuit workout using own body weight and weight machine focusing on core and glutes. She suggested I incorporate more strength/weight training to build muscle mass. A lot of one-legged exercises.

Elliptical warmup; bench step-ups coming down into lunge; pushups; planks; plank to pushup; variation of one-legged squats; weight machine for core, back, and triceps; standing side leg lifts while balancing on bench; foam rolling cool down.

Thursday: Elliptical. Short cardio session for 2.1 miles in 45 mins. Sore after Wednesday’s trainer session.

Deep Water Running. Forty-five minute class forms; cadence drills; 5-minute run, 4-minute run, and 3-minute run with various forms; and sprints.

Friday: Elliptical. Hill intervals for 1.92 miles in 35 minutes. Didn’t have much time for a workout today but wanted to a short session in.

Saturday: Rest day.

Sunday: Hatha Yoga. An hour session of gentle yoga. Perfect for today as I haven’t been to yoga for some time. Felt good to stretch.

Weekly Totals: 5 hrs 21 mins; 15.2 miles on stationary bike; 4.02 miles on elliptical

See all weekly workout recaps here.


Post-Marathon/Injury Recovery: Week Three

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Photo license: © All rights reserved

Week three of recovery was a good one. The podiatrist examined my right foot and cleared me to remove the walking boot. I’m now in running shoes full time for the next two weeks. Matching shoes – great progress! Foot muscles are adjusting to no longer being immobilized; however, there’s no pain walking, exercising, or using stairs. I’m also cleared to return to yoga, spin class, and elliptical workouts. An X-ray in two weeks time will show if I may be able to ease back into running. Fingers crossed.

Monday: Deep Water Running for 45 minutes. Fairly certain every ounce of me didn’t feel like going this evening. Didn’t sleep well night before (4.5 hours) and was tired all day. But knew best thing for me would be to go to class. No regrets. It’s these workouts that help me stay in shape until I can run again.

Substitute instructor, same format as last week: warmup, form drills (four types), cadence drills, sprints, cool down.

Tuesday: Stationary bike for 22.4 miles in 60 minutes. Higher resistance, “endurance” range – which calls for even, steady cadence.

Core work for 30 minutes. Did abdominal work based off Body Conceptions workout.

Wednesday: Deep Water Running for 45 minutes. Same routine: warmup, form drills (four types), cadence drills, sprints, cool down.

Tonight, one woman and I left everyone in our dust (waves?) during sprints. We beat them all, and by far! Oh, you didn’t know we were racing? It’s always game on when it’s called a “sprint”!

Thursday: Stationary bike for 19.3 miles in 50 minutes.

Core and Glutes for 40 minutes. Crunches, ab work, leg lifts, etc.

Friday: Rest day. Off day from the gym, but did the most walking I’ve done in three weeks.

Saturday: Stationary bike for 18.3 miles 48 minutes. Followed spin instructor video for about half the ride. New Age music and funky flashing colors behind him got to me. Unplugged and put on my own music. Finished with a small puddle of sweat on the floor…finally!

Core and Glutes for 40 minutes. Various crunches, leg work, and stretching.

Sunday: Rest day.

Weekly Totals: 5 hrs 58 mins; 60 miles on stationary bike.

See all weekly workout recaps here.


Post-Marathon/Injury Recovery: Week Two

Reflection Of An Injury
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Week two marked my return to working out post-stress fracture. Did various cross-training, all without impact to my foot. What’s good: had some excellent and challenging workouts. What’s bad: I really, truly miss running! Back to the doctor on Wednesday, Nov 28, for a follow-up exam. Hoping for decent news, recovery-wise.

Monday: Pilates for 60 minutes. My first Pilates class. Instructor focused on core, legs. Felt good to do a workout after a week off. One benefit was most moves didn’t require any weight on my foot. However, missed the endorphin rush of a cardio workout.

Deep Water Running for 45 minutes. First deep water running class and am thankful for this instructor! Class began with a warmup, focusing on four running forms: power walking, flat surface running, uphill, and downhill. After warmups, we did cadence drills – increasing cadence for each form every 15 seconds. Next followed core work. And finally, running drills where we actually got to do sprints within swim lanes.

This was a much harder workout than imagined. Felt like the effort needed to run intervals for 45 minutes but with full body resistance. Must keep every muscle group engaged lest you start drifting around the pool. Easily helps identify muscle imbalances, and requires constant core work to stay upright.

Hope this class helps me maintain conditioning from fall marathon training. Believe I’ll keep incorporating this workout even after my stress fracture is healed.

Tuesday: Body Conceptions by Mahri for 60 minutes. Private session tailored to target arms, shoulders, core, and legs without impact to injured foot. Body Conceptions workouts are about body lengthening and sculpting using dynamic movement and muscle exhaustion. Happy to feel some muscle burn again – especially in abs and glutes. Best part? Mahri’s company for an hour!

Wednesday: Deep Water Running for 45 minutes. Followed same general format as Monday’s class. Held in a different facility that had a warmer, salt water pool. Sprints solely focused on uphill running today.

Thursday: Rest day. Thanksgiving.

Friday: Stationary bike for 60 minutes. Rode 24.2 miles, pain-free. That’s a plus! Also got to wear matching shoes for the first time since Nov 11. Another happy moment. Rode moderate resistance at the upper end of “endurance” range. Didn’t want to immediately throw too much resistance on the bike until I could assess how my right foot felt. Threw in 3 x 20 seated pushups against the handlebars.

Saturday: Rest day.

Sunday: Stationary bike for 40 minutes. Rode 15.8 miles, again pain-free. Shorter workout today, but higher resistance.

Core work for 10 minutes, styled after some moves I learned in Mahri’s Body Conceptions class.

Weekly Totals: 5 hrs 20 mins; 40 miles on stationary bike.

See all weekly workout recaps here.


Pensacola Marathon Training: Week 17

Sunset – Pensacola, Florida
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Week seventeen wound up being an extra week of taper to carry me through to Pensacola Marathon on November 11. Wrapped up training feeling strong and healthy. Who would have guessed the outcome of the marathon, then? Thus proving that even when training’s spot on, a good race isn’t necessarily guaranteed.

Monday: Rest day.

Tuesday: Intervals. Replaced intervals with tempo-like run. Ran slightly under MP for same amount of mileage. Temperatures dropped enough that my muscles took time to loosen up.

  • Total = 5.09 mi – 41:09 – 8:06 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 6 x 400m @ 6:38 min/mi
  • Actual splits = (1) 7:57; (2) 8:01; (3) 7:51; (4) 8:01; (5) 8:35

Wednesday: Rest day.

Thursday: Tempo run. Last training run on (revised) schedule. NYC was hit with snow and Central Park was closed as a result. Ran on streets, dodging pedestrians and cars. Cold weather, streets were wet and slushy. Pace felt comfortable and legs feel like jet engines ready to go!

  • Total = 5.01 mi – 40:27 – 8:04 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 3 mi @ 8:23 min/mi
  • Actual splits = (1) 8:15; (2) 7:59; (3) 7:48; (4) 8:29; (5) 7:50

Friday: Travel day. Flight to Florida.

Saturday: Rest day.

Sunday: PENSACOLA MARATHON! Race details are in the fall season conclusion. The concise version is: I was on target pacing for a 3:35 finish until a stress fracture in my right 5th metatarsal at mile 20. I missed both my A goal (3:35) and B goal (sub-3:40), losing my Boston Qualifying time. I finished the race by slowing pace and then run-walking when it became necessary. However, I finished with a 5-minute PR.

  • Official Race Stats = 26.2 mi – 3:48:39 – 8:43 min/mi avg pace
  • Total (Per Garmin) = 26.55 mi – 3:48:23 – 8:36 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 26.2 miles
  • Actual splits = (1) 8:18; (2) 8:11; (3) 8:07; (4) 8:11; (5) 8:07; (6) 8:05; (7) 8:07; (8) 8:10; (9) 8:09; (10) 8:04; (11) 8:09; (12) 8:07; (13) 8:03; (14) 8:06; (15) 8:06; (17) 8:05; (18) 8:23; (19) 8:10; (20) 8:52; (21) 9:14; (22) 8:28; (23) 9:37; (24) 10:04; (25) 11:42; (26) 10:59; (27) 8:29 (for final .55 mi)

Total weekly mileage: 36.65 miles

See all weekly training recaps here.


2012 Fall Season Conclusion: Pensacola Marathon

2012 NYC & Pensacola Marathon Medals
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Write injuries in dust, benefits in marble.

Benjamin Franklin


To start with the obvious, this training and racing cycle was full of unprecedented and unpredictable events. A hurricane swept in the week before the NYC Marathon and wreaked havoc on the five boroughs. The race was on! The race was off! Never before had the New York City Marathon been canceled. Yet it was. So, I quickly searched for another racing opportunity and found my chance in Pensacola, Florida.

There’s so much good and so much heartbreak wrapped up in this race. Yet, I can’t say there are regrets. Disappointment, sure. Growth, yes. It’s hard to lament an experience that while denying me one thing, generously bestowed much more.

I spent months visualizing a race in which there’d be 45,o00 runners and millions of spectators. That energy, I’d hoped, would help me to the finish. I looked forward to seeing friends and family along the New York City Marathon course. Jess and I planned to pace each other to a 3:35 finish. After the cancelation, I decided to try a different direction. The Pensacola Marathon, with its 535 finishers, would be the perfect environment for self-focus on the course. It would provide a chance to rely solely on myself to get through the race. I could have space to regroup, settle in, and push for my Boston Qualifying goal.

Pensacola Bib for NYCMers
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It was wonderful to see how graciously the Pensacola race organizers welcomed displaced New York City Marathoners. They expanded the race field and discounted our entry fees. We received special red bibs (full runners had white; half runners had yellow) that said “New York Marathoner” on them. With my race bib in hand, I was set to prepare for race day.

Marathon morning was beautiful. I awoke well-rested and calm. The temperature was in the low 60s, with the sun just rising and a cool breeze from the water. There were no race-related nerves: it was simply time to execute the last 26.2 miles. I stood quietly picturing what was to unfold. I had no doubt about my ability – this is what I trained for. With 17 weeks of training behind me, and my 3:35 pace tattoo, I was ready.

Due to its size, the Pensacola Marathon had no start corrals. I tucked myself in behind the front runners knowing I’d get room to ease into my pace from the beginning. My biggest challenges would be to not get lured in by the half marathoners’ paces, and to not go out too fast.

I couldn’t have been happier with how I started the race. My first mile was about 10 seconds slower than my goal pace of 8:12 minutes/mile. After, I consistently began hitting a range between 8:04-8:10 minutes/mile. As I chatted with runners along the course, I was confident and in control of my run. I was having a great time enjoying the few enthusiastic spectators who cheered us on. After the turmoil surrounding the New York City Marathon, I felt grateful to finally be running.

Before Mile 6

The course itself was a bit cumbersome with many turns to navigate around the neighborhood. The scenic start along the water veered in around 4.5 miles to less beautiful views. We wove through residential sections and industrial buildings. We passed an airport twice on a serpentine road that made hell for cutting tangents. For the first half, the course was completely closed. Around mile 15, we came out onto a partially closed course, running mostly in a wide shoulder. However, the police did a fantastic job of giving runners priority over vehicles.

At mile 15 I finally refueled (thanks to Generation UCAN) and tossed my Spibelt. I was running unburdened, still barreling along at pace. I began mentally preparing for an upcoming incline around mile 17 – a small bridge a bit steeper than Cat Hill. I took that on without much problem and completely forgot another incline followed about a mile later. That one seemed to slow me down more.

Around mile 20 is when something happened. There wasn’t one defining moment – no twisted footfall, no landing on debris – but my right foot began to hurt. I kept pacing, trying to assess the situation. The foot pain increased the more I ran and this is when the race began to unravel. Still running, I slowed down, hoping my earlier pace would sufficiently buffer the last miles. At that time, a sub-3:40 finish was still within reach. That was the case for the next few miles. But the pain kept increasing, and I knew something was seriously wrong. A quick walk break provided a little relief, but the pain intensified each time I began running.

I finished the final 4 miles by run-walking and trying to manage the discomfort. Both 3:35 and 3:40 slipped away. I ran across the finish line and gathered my medal. It was emotionally difficult to start the race feeling strong and finish it feeling broken.

The medics at the finish line were amazing people. They took great care of me and gave me the names of local facilities to be x-rayed. An urgent care facility confirmed a stress fracture on my right 5th metatarsal. I left wearing a splint and on crutches.

I can’t say I’d ever imagined this conclusion. But running marathons is no easy business. Unfortunately, injury has its role to play. Just seems this happened to be my time to have that experience. After the chaos leading up to the Pensacola Marathon, the dramatic ending somehow seems befitting the whole ordeal.

There was no Boston Qualifier this time; but I earned a five-minute PR by finishing in 3:48:39. My race stats are:

  • Overall Place: 68/535
  • Gender Place: 19/212
  • Age Group Place: 5/47

Garmin Stats

Now that some days have passed, I can attest that more good came from this experience than disappointment. I’ll have another go at my Boston Qualifier as soon as I’m properly healed. This race proved the ability and physical conditioning are there as long as my body cooperates. When it mattered, I sought my own path and gave myself a second chance. I’ve learned I’m fiercely protective of my goals and I’m even more protective of the longevity of my running career.

I look forward to giving my body a chance to strengthen and heal. For I truly believe in this down time is a moment to learn something about myself. A hurricane, a canceled race, a destination marathon, and injury couldn’t stop me from trying my hardest. I’m already looking toward spring. Then, that BQ goal will be mine!

In urgent care

Finish Line

Race To Recover: Thank You!

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“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”

Mother Teresa of Calcutta


This post is to simply and whole-heartedly say THANK YOU! Two weeks ago I wrote about running the New York City Marathon as a “Race To Recover,” in which I pledged to raise funds for hurricane recovery efforts around NYC, post-Hurricane Sandy.

Contributions quickly rolled in from a wonderfully supportive community of people: runners, non-runners, friends, family – some local, some abroad. In short, all friends of New York and equally concerned about the devastation brought upon this magnificent city.

After the New York City Marathon was canceled (a day after announcing my intention to run and fund raise), I quickly made alternate plans. This past Sunday, November 11, I ran the Pensacola Marathon with a special bib that designated me as a “New York Marathon” runner. I ran with heart and with thoughts of your encouragement.

I’m happy to announce we reached the target goal of donating $2620.00 to support relief and recovery efforts in NYC through the Mayor’s Fund. None of this would have been possible without you!

So again, my sincerest thanks and appreciation for helping this become a goal realized.



The Road Diverged: Pensacola Marathon

My trial and triumph, as well as that of others.
Asics Marathon Experience, Nov 2012

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road…unless you fail to make the turn.”

Author Unknown


By now, we all know the 2012 New York City Marathon story. It became the “race that wasn’t” amid natural devastation and a dose of controversy. I admit my emotions have scaled a far-reaching range. They’ve been complex and shifting. But when November 4 came and went, I found the peace to say goodbye to this marathon chapter.

More important than any race are the people still suffering and the damaged city neighborhoods. I can’t think of a more accurate word to describe this hurricane’s aftermath than “heartbreaking.” There has been so much loss. Undeniably, some much greater than others. When the NYC Marathon was still declared on, I made public my intention to run the race in support of New Yorkers recovering from devastation. I wanted to do something positive by raising relief funds and donating recovery supplies. With the race canceled, that goal hasn’t changed.

Still, under the desire to help was this whispering trace of guilt for feeling a loss about the marathon.

When a friend comforted me with these words – “Sadness is relative. Doesn’t make you less sensitive to others by feeling down about what happened to you too.” – I realized something important. The damage to NYC was beyond my power. The race being canceled was as well. These were events over which I had no control. What I do have, however, is an ability to choose my reaction to the situation. And this ability – this opportunity to say, “where can I go from here?” –  is amazing.

I choose to continue supporting hurricane recovery and I urge others to do the same. Also, I accept the fact I’m not willing to throw away months of hard work and my dream to Boston Qualify. I’ve registered for an alternate marathon at which I’ll leverage my training and go for my time goal. I am moving ahead with both efforts with equal determination.

The Pensacola Marathon may be a polar opposite to the New York City Marathon in size, location, course support, etc. But, it’s still an official Boston Qualifying-course consisting of 26.2 miles. I may no longer have the advantage of friends and family spurring me on in person, but I still have 17 weeks of training on which to lean.

If you care to virtually cheer me on come November 11, please consider donating a few dollars toward my Crowdrise page. All proceeds go directly to the Mayors Fund, which is aiding hurricane recovery efforts.

I will be thinking of all your support – and the New Yorkers we can help – to get me through this race! When it hurts, I’ll dig deep knowing this chosen pain pales in comparison to the pain others have no choice but to burden. As runners, we take the turns as they come, we keep moving forward, and we encourage others to do the same.


NYC Marathon Training: Week 16

Week sixteen was meant to be the final week of NYC Marathon training, ending with 26.2 miles through the five boroughs. Hurricane Sandy swept in on Monday, devastating neighborhoods, causing flooding and power outages. After the storm subsided, the NYC Marathon was announced to be on-schedule, as planned. I picked up my race bib on Thursday; Friday, the race was canceled.

I’ve registered for another marathon – Pensacola Marathon – on Sunday, November 11. So there will be an additional week of taper.

Most importantly, I am still raising hurricane relief funds for NYC. In three days, we’ve reached 70% of the target amount! Information is here – LV Runs NYC: Race To Recover. Donations benefit the Mayors Fund, which is providing hurricane recovery around the city. Any dollar amount contributed is very much appreciated!

Monday: Rest day. Hurricane Sandy arrived in NYC.

Tuesday: Easy run. This was meant to be a 400-meter interval run. With Central Park closed and weather still quite windy, took to the streets, ran easy, and met total mileage on plan for the day. Ran partial perimeter of park to survey damage. Crews were already in park clearing downed branches. Truly fortunate, minimal damage on upper west and upper east sides of Manhattan.

  • Total =  6.10  mi – 48:13 – 7:54 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 6 x 400m @ 6:38 min/mi
  • Actual splits = (1) 7:58; (2) 7:31; (3) 8:05; (4) 7:48; (5) 7:46; (6) 8:18

Wednesday: Rest day.

Thursday: Tempo. Kept this run short by cutting out warmup and cool down. Just did quick shakeout and hit slightly under marathon pace. Ran in street, so pace wasn’t consistent after dodging bikes, cars, and pedestrians. Could see marathon supplies being set up along the west side of park. Legs felt good. Plan was to meet up with Kristy on Saturday to do a pre-race shakeout of 2-3 miles.

Went to marathon expo and picked up race bib with Erica, Jess, and Melissa.

Melissa, Erica, Jess, Me at Expo
Photo courtesy of Erica Sara

  • Total = 3.01  mi – 24:14 – 8:03 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 3 mi @ 8:23 min/mi
  • Actual splits = (1) 7:55; (2) 8:14; (3) 8:01

Friday: Rest day. Revisited marathon expo to meet up with a friend. Found out while at expo that NYC Marathon had been canceled.

Saturday: Easy run. This was originally meant to be the Dash to the Finish Line 5K. Kristy, Ashley, and I had planned to run this NYRR race easy as a pre-marathon shakeout. After the hurricane, this race was canceled. And, after learning the marathon itself was canceled, Kristy and I met up to do some easy miles in Central Park.

Mile markers, flags, and the finish line were all up. So many runners there.

With Kristy – NYCM Finish Line
Photo courtesy of Kristy

  • Total = 4.97 mi – 42:20 – 8:31 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 3.1 mi @ 8:23 min/mi
  • Actual splits = (1) 8:56; (2) 8:42; (3) 8;25; (4) 8:06; (5) 8:26

Sunday: ING NEW YORK CITY MARATHON DAY! Long run. What was to be marathon day became another long training run.

Pace was all over the place – just an emotional day. Wanted to stay out of the park so ran down West Side Highway. Saw many groups of runners with their orange marathon shirts, wearing their race bibs. Was wonderful to see them in good spirits. Wound up by Battery Park, where I watched the Staten Island Ferry running and the Verrazano Bridge in the background. A bit sad, and a peaceful way to say goodbye to the 2012 NYC Marathon chapter.

Will be tapering again this week in preparation for Pensacola Marathon on November 11.

  • Total = 13.96 mi – 1:52:37 – 8:04 min/mi
  • Plan = 26.2 miles
  • Actual splits = (1) 8:04; (2) 7:35; (3) 7:39; (4) 7:42; (5) 7:49; (6) 8:29; (7) 8:26; (8) 8:17; (9) 8:14; (10) 7:59; (11) 8:02; (12) 7:52; (13) 8:07; (14) 8:42

Total weekly mileage: 28.04 miles

See all weekly training recaps here.


NYCM: Race to Recover

Early Hurricane Rain
Photo license: © All rights reserved

I’ve been quiet the past week or so with the incoming hurricane and its devastating aftermath. NYRR, the City, and partnering agencies decided the 2012 New York City Marathon will continue as scheduled. This post is not intended to be a forum for opinions on this matter. There are a variety of other social media options for that. Rather, as I’ve decided to run the race, I have also chosen to turn this run into a means to raise much-needed relief funds for the city.

Join me in supporting the Mayors Fund, which is providing recovery efforts around New York City. Perhaps consider a $26.2 gift to this fund. It’s $1 for each mile I’ll be running with New York City in my heart. This is my home; I wish nothing more than to see its indomitable, amazing residents recover and stand stronger than ever.

Information is on my crowdrise page – LV Runs NYC: Race to Recover

No gift is too large or too small. All are received with equal heart-felt appreciation and gratitude.

On a personal note, I offer thanks not just for your encouragement throughout the miles of training; but also for standing with me now. This journey was one in which I became a better version of myself. I already feel I’ve achieved much of what I set out to do. Now, I aim to make this race about the city I call home and the people who make it the greatest place on Earth to be.

Photo Credit: Erica Sara