NYC Marathon Training: Week 15

Last 10 Miles – Jess, Gia, Meggie, Jocelyn, Ashley, Me
Photo courtesy of Gia

Week fifteen was full of crazy taper emotions. One minute excited, the next full of nerves. Cut back on some cross-training, and have poured all energy into keeping my speed work sharp. Am starting to get my gear and plan organized for next weekend. You see that? I said, “next weekend.” One week until RACE DAY!

Monday: Rest day.

Tuesday: Intervals. Body protested a bit this morning. Sluggish and tired. First two intervals were a push. Then a beautiful thing happened. Body realized it had work to do. It could cooperate and feel good, or it could complain and feel bad. It made the right decision. Intervals eased up and pace dropped. Felt comfortable and hit a good rhythm.

  • Total =  6.31  mi – 47:53 – 7:35 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 5 x 1000 m @ 6:52 min/mi
  • Actual splits = (1) 6:54; (2) 6:49; (3) 6:47; (4) 6:48; (5) 6:53

Wednesday: Rest day.

Thursday: Tempo run. This run was fueled by nervous taper energy. Just had to let the legs go and hit a good pace. Beautiful run in the park – fall colors are finally taking hold. Marathon Route flags are lining the course. You can feel the marathon energy in the air!

  • Total = 6.22  mi – 47:05 – 7:34 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 3 mi @ 7:35
  • Actual splits = (1) 7:24; (2) 7:16; (3) 7:18

Friday: Rest day.

Saturday: Long run. Last 10 Miles Run, part II. Ran same route as last week, covering final 10 miles of the NYC Marathon course. Many thanks to Mike Keohane (MK Coaching) for hosting a fantastic run. He provided bag check, fuel, water, and post-run bagels and candy. So awesome! Met up with Jess, Jocelyn, Ashley, Gia, and Meggie. These kick-butt women are great company on the run!

Kept pace near or slightly below marathon pace. Felt much more comfortable this week than last. Even 5th Ave Hill felt more manageable today. Ran a bit with the girls, then paced with some runners from various running clubs, and broke off on my own for a bit.

Despite being relatively mild (61F at 8 AM) and humid (impending tropical storm), it was a perfect last long training run. Next weekend is Go Time!

  • Total = 10.09 mi – 1:21:18 – 8:03 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 10 mi @ 8:23 min/mi
  • Actual splits = (1) 8:32; (2) 8:11; (3) 7:54; (4) 8:02; (5) 8:03; (6) 8:03; (7) 7:58; (8) 7:57; (9) 7:50; (10) 8:07

Sunday: Rest day.

Total weekly mileage: 22.62 miles

See all weekly training recaps here.


Tapering With Gratitude

“Rest and be thankful.”

William Wordsworth


With the longest training runs behind me, taper is in full effect. It’s now just over a week until race day. The past week’s been full of emotions that undulate much like the NYC Marathon course. One moment is electrified by nerves and a tightening of the gut; the next is euphoric. As I flow with it all, underneath is a steady mood of peacefulness and gratitude. I am feeling strong, and for this I am grateful.

I’m aware of this journey’s impending conclusion. It’s been a lesson in self-discovery and empowerment, disguised as miles. I’m thankful to have run many of those miles with some fantastic people. To those whose company and unwavering support I’ve been fortunate to share: I appreciate you and your extraordinary dedication to your goals. You are the embodiment of inspiration.

In this culminating moment, I’m enjoying the dichotomy of excitement and calm. It’s a wonderful and rare place to be. I’m staying present and taking in each little detail.

Like many marathoners, I’m captivated by this video. It brings forth memories of last year’s race, recent training runs along the course, and the promise of what November 4 will hold.

NYC Marathon Training: Week 14

Queensboro Bridge
Photo license: © All rights reserved

Week fourteen was the start of taper. Speed work and tempo runs maintained their intensity; long run shortened but required marathon pace. Time to let the body rebuild, and get race day necessities in order. Most importantly, time to appreciate the journey that began in the July heat. Excitement for race day is starting to culminate! It’s emotionally charging to see signs of race day preparation: “Marathon Route” flags, borough banners, bleachers in the park. Love it!

Monday: Rest day.

Tuesday: Intervals. Was worried if I’d be able to hit pace due to high wind. Considered it extra resistance training. Couldn’t be happier with the outcome of this workout. Eased into each interval and comfortably outpaced plan. Let stride open behind me and felt concentration on form aided pace.

  • Total =  8.00 mi – 58:35 – 7:19 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 8 x 800 m @ 6:48 min/mi
  • Actual splits = (1) 6:38; (2) 6:36; (3) 6:31; (4) 6:33; (5) 6:35; (6) 6:33; (7) 6:40; (8) 6:28

Wednesday: Cross-training. Spin class for 45 minutes. Good class with a mix of speed and resistance training.

Tempo run. Had to move tempo up a day due to schedule conflict. Seriously expected to feel sluggish with the run a day after intervals and hours after spin. Thankfully, legs delivered again and was able to pace ahead of plan.

* Last tempo mile was on sidewalks/streets; reflected in pace.

  • Total =  7.00 mi – 55:25 – 7:54 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 5 mi @ 7:50
  • Actual splits = (1) 7:34; (2) 7:38; (3) 7:44; (4) 7:36; (5) 7:51*

Thursday: Rest day.

Friday: Rest day.

Saturday: Cross-training. Spin class for 45 minutes. Two consecutive rest days made me feel edgy. Taper madness? However, wasn’t crazy about this particular instructor or her routine. Worked up a sweat, but class felt disjointed. Left feeling a bit disappointed.

Sunday: Long run. Last 10 Miles Run. Was meant to run Runners World Half Marathon in Bethlehem, PA. Decided not to travel this weekend after some unforeseen circumstances came up. Instead, met up with Jess and  Team Run 2 Remember to run last 10 miles of the NYC Marathon route. Beneficial to get reacquainted with the gradual, but noticeable inclines along 1st Avenue, Willis Avenue Bridge, and 5th Avenue Hill.

Paced a bit faster than plan. Added an additional 3 miles to meet total mileage for the day. Overall, felt good to push through those hills. Hope to remember that feeling on race day.

Fun to remember running the same route last year when I paced at a 10 min/mi. This year, 8 min/mi and faster. Truly appreciative of my progress!

  • Total =  13.15 mi – 1:44:38 – 7:57 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 13 mi @ 8:23 min/mi
  • Actual splits = (1) 7:54; (2) 8:39; (3) 7:59; (4) 8:11; (5) 7:47; (6) 7:51; (7) 7:47; (8) 7:56; (9) 7:53; (10) 8:02; (11) 8:01; (12) 7:58; (13) 7:34

Total weekly mileage: 28.15 miles

See all weekly training recaps here.


NYC Marathon Training: Week 13

Week thirteen finally ushers in taper! Increased final long run from 20 to 22 miles. Overall, coming out of this week feeling accomplished! As they say: all the hard work is done. Now it’s time to start lowering mileage, keep up pace, and rest up for race day. 20 days and counting.

Monday: Rest day.

Tuesday: Intervals. Running commute in the form of 400 m repeats to get to Body Conceptions by Mahri class at Lolë Showtique. Cool, drizzly weather was perfect for today’s run. Felt good hitting interval pace. Unfortunately, only had sufficient time to do short warmup and finish intervals, but not cool down.

  • Total = 5.74 mi – 43:35 – 7:36 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 10 x 400 m @ 6:38 min/mi
  • Actual splits = (1) 6:26; (2) 6:48; (3) 6:32; (4) 6:35; (5) 6:31; (6) 6:30; (7) 6:23; (8) 6:34; (9) 6:42; (10) 6:35

Cross-training. Body Conceptions by Mahri for one hour. Mahri’s workout had a killer abs conditioning series today. Doing this workout immediately after my intervals, thought I’d collapse in a puddle of exhaustion. But the workout was amazing! Again, the stretching and lengthening moves had my legs feeling good by the end of class.

Wednesday: Cross-training. Spin class for 45 minutes. Nice, fast-paced class with Melanie G. Speed intervals and hills. Good arm series.

Chi Running class for one hour. Focus on uphill and downhill running form.

Thursday: Rest day.

Friday: Tempo run. This run was to be 8 mi at marathon pace with a 10-minute warmup & cool down. Due to time constraints and some fantastically cool weather, ran all 10 miles at sub-marathon pace. Thought to slow down. Then thought faster pace has its purpose to make make marathon pace feel more comfortable & controlled. So be it. Ran hilly route and felt comfortable with pace throughout.

With a tank, shorts, & gloves, felt cool even while sun ducked in. Good wardrobe trial for race day.

  • Total =  10.01 mi – 1:19:46 – 7:58 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 8 mi @ 8:23 (marathon pace)
  • Actual splits = (1) 7:56; (2) 8:04; (3) 7:55; (4) 8:08; (5) 7:53; (6) 7:56; (7) 8:07; (8) 7:58; (9) 7:51; (10) 7:54

Saturday: Rest day.

Sunday: Long run. Three Bridges Run part II. Two weeks ago, ran this same course with 9:00 min/mi pace group. Today, went out with 8:30 min/mi group. Was a challenging, manageable run. Good indicator of how race day pace may feel. Jess and I wound up being at the front of the group and were definitely pushing a low 8 min/mi pace at times. We crushed the 59th Street Bridge today, running it nearly 45 seconds – 1 min/mi faster than two weeks ago!

Body felt good on this run. Legs are tired post-run, but to be expected. Overall, weather cooperated and body cooperated. Nice way to send off the bulk of training and ease into taper.

  • Total =  21.96 mi – 3:01:56 – 8:17 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 20 mi @ 8:38 min/mi
  • Actual = 21.96 mi – 8:17 min/mi
  • Splits =  (1) 8:25; (2) 8:15; (3) 8:28; (4) 8:28; (5) 8:27; (6) 8:22; (7) 8:29; (8) 8:25; (9) 8:20; (10) 8:44; (11) 8:23; (12) 8:16; (13) 8:18; (14) 8:03; (15) 7:57; (16) 8:19; (17) 8:03; (18) 8:16; (19) 8:07; (20) 7:59; (21) 8:02; (22) 8:07

Total weekly mileage: 37.71 miles

See all weekly training recaps here.


NYC Marathon Training: Week 12

Week twelve was an excellent running week. Some faster paced runs are making training fall into place. This was the second to last long run before taper. Over all, my body is feeling good with the mileage and the pace.

Monday: Rest day.

Tuesday: Intervals. Running commute in the form of mile repeats to get to Body Conceptions by Mahri class at Lolë Showtique. Interval pace felt manageable! Body felt great – no noticeable aches or pains.

  • Total = 6.01 mi – 46:38 – 7:48 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 3 x 1600 m @ 7:04 min/mi
  • Actual splits = (1) 7:01; (2) 7:03; (3) 6:53

Cross-training. Body Conceptions by Mahri for one hour. Mahri’s workout featured a lot of core work and glute strengthening. Participated in this class immediately after finishing my interval run. Some of the leg exercises and lunges had my quads screaming (in a good way). Since she incorporates a lot of stretching and lengthening moves, my legs actually felt looser by the end of class than before. Great way to compliment my marathon training and fun to switch up my workout schedule.

Wednesday: Cross-training. Spin class for 45 minutes. Good class focused on high-resistance training. Legs felt a bit tired after Tuesday’s double workout and a full morning on my feet. But, didn’t stop me from pushing through class.

Chi Running class for one hour. Evening session focused on hip rotation and lower leg lift.

Thursday: Tempo run. Was supposed to be at marathon pace (8:23 min/mi) but I wanted to push the pace up a bit. Range in mind was 8:10-8:20 min/mi. Took off a bit fast (must’ve been feeling good) but eventually reined pace in at the low 8s. Mile 6 was running across town on the street – so had to contend with people and traffic. Miles 7-8 were on the Brooklyn Bridge: also crowded. Still managed to plow through the congestion and maintain a decent pace.

Worked on opening hip rotation, which actually eased the work load on my legs. Need to keep practicing that.

Rained for a very short time. Mostly the run was overcast, mild, and humid. Made for a sweaty outing. Overall, though, thoroughly enjoyed this run.

  • Total =  10.00 mi – 1:19:58 – 8:00 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 10 mi @ 8:23 (marathon pace)
  • Actual splits = (1) 7:44; (2) 7:44; (3) 7:58; (4) 8:00; (5) 7:57; (6) 8:11; (7) 8:09; (8) 8:01; (9) 8:07; (10) 8:08

Friday: Rest day.

Saturday: Rest day.

Sunday: Long run. Ran 15 miles with Jess and we both decided to push the pace a bit. Weather was cool, which was great for cranking out the quicker miles. First time in a while I’ve run in long sleeves and light weight gloves! Kept the route relatively flat. The entire run was on that verge of controlled but pushing that I like. I call it “comfortably uncomfortable.”

Worked on form. Was pleased to keep my hip swing open, which also opened my stride. This meant being able to pace quickly without taxing my legs as much. Much easier on my quads and calves. Good test run for race day!

  • Total = 15.01 mi – 2:01:32 – 8:05 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 15 mi @ 8:38 min/mi
  • Actual = 15.01 mi – 8:05 min/mi

Total weekly mileage: 31.02 miles

See all weekly training recaps here.


I’ve Changed My Mind

Photo license: © All rights reserved

“You have to want it, you have to plan for it, you have to fit it into a busy day, you have to be mentally tough, you have to use others to help you. The hard part isn’t getting your body in shape. The hard part is getting your mind in shape.”

~ Amby Burfoot

An interesting thing happened over the course of some runs. Things changed. It’s a bit like the age-old dilemma: what came first, the chicken or the egg. But, for me it’s: what changed first, the mind or the miles.

The beginning of training was difficult in certain respects. I was dealing with an onslaught of doubt. I made no secret of the emotional obstacles against which I was facing. In fact, I wrote about them here, here, and here. Certain workouts seemed a guaranteed breeding ground for insecurity. Speed work was made for me to fall short on pace. Long runs were host to the inevitable battle against a self-critical voice. Through the heat of the summer and the thickness of unease, I struggled to find my footing in training.

Regardless, I kept pushing forward. And both my workouts and I began to transform.

What exactly happened? I started to feel more confident. There’s a noticeable dissipation of anxiety and hesitation. While training continues to ramp up, I suddenly feel lighter. The workouts didn’t become easier, they became achievable. I began hitting my target paces during intervals. The long runs became stronger.

What I’m unsure of is if the more successful runs led to boosted aplomb; or, did the self-confidence result in better workouts. It’s difficult to identify the precise order of things. Does one need to occur first? Can they happen in unison to create a metamorphosis? Does it even matter?

What I can assert is I did not change solely on my own. I believe some incredibly supportive runner friends noticed a level of ability in me, which took me much longer to acknowledge. There’d been a discrepancy between what I’d felt and what they’ve seen for quite a while. Their encouragement, patience, and occasional frankness planted the seed that enabled my confidence to conquer doubt. They refused to let me sabotage my potential. For this, I’m genuinely grateful. The words may be simplistic, but they’re the container for unspoken affection and gratitude: thank you.

One day I’d remarked, “Things are falling into place.” To which a friend responded, “Things don’t just fall into place. You MAKE them fall into place.” There was truth in those words I needed to hear. It made me reflect on the evolution of my training, and more importantly, the transformation of my mind. And, it made me accept that I’d been responsible for doing the hard work. To see how far I’ve come since July is a true gift.

Now that I’m in the final month before the NYC Marathon, I’m feeling questions fall by the wayside. They’ve been replaced by palpable excitement. Whatever race day brings, this training cycle has been a growth experience. When I line up on November 4, I expect each step to seemingly rejoice: I’m in a good place.

NYC Marathon Training: Week 11

NY Flyers 3 Bridges Run

Week eleven brought September to a close in the most fantastic way. It was an incredible week in which I met or exceeded training paces for all three running workouts. That’s a first for this training cycle. I’m encouraged to see evidence of progress. I feel more capable on my long runs lately. Sure the cooler temperatures are helping. More than that, however, is a feeling of confidence that’s worked its way into my brain. I quite like it: now need to preserve and strengthen that feeling over the next few weeks. Logged 145 miles for the month.

Monday: Rest day.

Tuesday: Intervals. Racing the 5th Avenue Mile gave me new perspective on intervals. Realized I’m more capable to push pace lower than I did previously. This session helped solidify that. Actually considered this a fun workout: a first! Felt great after this session.

  • Total =  6.33 mi – 49.21 – 7:48 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 1000 m, 2000 m, 1000 m, 1000 m (400 m RI); (1000 m = 6:52 min/mi; 2000 m = 7:08 min/mi)
  • Actual splits = (1) 6:43; (2) 7:05; (3) 6:53; (4) 6:45

Wednesday: Rest day.

Thursday: Tempo run. Legs felt refreshed after extra rest day, and it showed in my pace. Noticed on this run that left shin is finally feeling better and right piriformis has been cooperative lately. No complaints about aches and pains of the past few weeks subsiding.

  • Total = 7.01 mi – 57:33 – 8:13 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 5 mi @ 8:23 min/mi (Marathon Pace)
  • Actual splits = (1) 8:03; (2) 8:01; (3) 8:07; (4) 8:05; (5) 7:51

Friday: Cross-training. Spin for 45 minutes. Sadly, no class with Emily as I needed to switch days this week. The instructor focused on core work, which I liked. However, arm routine was a bit light for my taste. Need a good dose of Emily’s arm series!

Saturday: Rest day. Spent much of the evening standing on the Great Lawn in Central Park for the Global Festival concert. Good for the legs before a long run?

Sunday: Long run. NY Flyers 3 Bridges Run. NY Flyers organized a fantastic 20-mile run complete with fluid stations and pace groups. The course went from the upper east side (Jack Rabbit on 85th & Lexington) west through Central Park, down the west side highway path to Chambers Street, east to and across Brooklyn Bridge, through Brooklyn and over Pulaski Bridge into Queens, across Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan, back into Central Park and ending at Jack Rabbit.

Ran with Jess and Gia, whose lovely company and conversation made the miles fly. Body felt good on this run despite not eating or hydrating properly the evening before. Also only got 5 hours of sleep. Ran with 9 min/mi pace group, which seemed to go a tad faster than planned. But overall, pace felt decent and manageable. Elated to finish this run feeling strong!

Note: Garmin didn’t have GPS signal first few minutes of run (See: “Total”). However, we compared results to another runner’s watch which showed total mileage of 20.4 mi at 3:00 even (See: “Actual”).

  • Total =  19.96 mi – 2:55:07 – 8:46 min/mi avg pace (Garmin stats)
  • Plan =  20 mi @ 8:53 min/mi
  • Actual = 20.4 mi – 3:00 – 8:49 min/mi

For fun, here’s a before and after photo of the three of us. I honestly don’t see much difference between the two! Do you?

With Jess & Gia: Before 20 Miles

With Jess & Gia: After 20 Miles

(Thanks to Gia & Jess for sharing the photos!)

Total weekly mileage: 33.74 miles

See all weekly training recaps here.


NYC Marathon Training: Week 10

NYRR 18Mi Tune-Up

Week ten was an eventful but excellent week of running. Came away from the Philly Rock n Roll half feeling healthy. My legs recovered quickly. The week ended with the NYRR 5th Avenue Mile and the NYRR 18mi Tune-Up. Both runs went very well! Coming out of the week feeling a bit tired but pleased with how well my body help up with the busier schedule.

Monday: Rest day. Post-Philadelphia Rock n Roll half marathon.

Tuesday: Recovery run. Replaced intervals with an easy run of same total mileage. Legs felt great: no noticeable soreness after the race. Now trying to pay greater attention to foot strike and running form after Philly race photos showed some pervasive heel striking.

  • Total = 6.01 mi – 50:00 – 8:20 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 4 x 1200m intervals @ 6:56 min/mi
  • Actual splits = (1) 8:23; (2) 8:19; (3) 8:12; (4) 8:16; (5) 8:12; (6) 8:34

Wednesday: Cross-training. Spin for 45 minutes. Great class with Melanie G. First time spinning with her and liked the energy of her routine. Some really tough speed sessions and a killer standing arm series. Kept up with the double weights.

Chi Running marathon prep class. Good one-hour session focused on form: forward lean, foot strike, and arm swing.

Thursday: Tempo run at marathon pace. Opted for a hillier run by including Harlem Hill, the west side hills and two Cat Hills. Expected my legs to feel better on this run but definitely noticed some stiffness. Had a terrible knot and muscle tightness in my right shoulder. Cooler weather helped keep things comfortable, but it wasn’t until mile 6 that my body finally loosened up and felt good running.

  • Total = 10 mi – 1:21:47 – 8:13 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 10 mi @ 8:23 min/mi (Marathon Pace)
  • Actual splits = (1) 8:18; (2) 8:15; (3) 8:09; (4) 8:08; (5) 8:05; (6) 8:04; (7) 8:11; (8) 8:15; (9) 8:08; (10) 8:12

Friday: Rest day.

Saturday: Race. NYRR 5th Avenue Mile. Felt great racing the mile!

  • Total = 1.02 mi – 6:38 – 6:30 min/mi
  • Official NYRR Result: 6:38

Sunday: Long run. New York Road Runners 18-mile Tune-Up. After a busy week of racing and running, decided to pace this one easy. My goal was to come away from running three full Central Park loops feeling good. Enjoyed the company of a friend, which made the miles fly. Only down side to the run was some bruising of the tendons on the tops of my feet, near the ankles. Happened on an uphill (2nd Cat Hill). Re-laced my shoes which helped relieve the pressure on the tendons. Was able to run comfortably the rest of the run.

  • Total = 18.25 mi – 2:47:57 – 9:14 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 18 mi @ 8:53 min/mi
  • Actual = 18.25 mi @ 9:14 min/mi

Cool down & run home from finish line.

  • Total = 1.91 mi – 16:27 – 8:34 min/mi

Total weekly mileage: 37.19 miles

See all weekly training recaps here.


NYRR 5th Avenue Mile

“Blink and you miss a sprint. The 10,000 meters is lap after lap of waiting. Theatrically, the mile is just the right length – beginning, middle, end: a story unfolding.”

Sebastian Coe


Fifth Avenue is beautiful on any given day. It truly is. But it becomes phenomenal when the NYRR 5th Avenue Mile arrives.

This was my first time running the 5th Ave Mile. My only recent mile experience involves mile-long repeats as part of New York City Marathon training. Running those furiously, the result is usually frustration over pace. And, perhaps wanting to keel over in the grass for a recovery nap. I’ve been so focused on long runs – all between 13-20 miles lately – I hadn’t a clue how to approach racing a single mile.

Fishing for guidance, I polled a few athlete friends on how to pace myself in this race. They offered knowing advice: don’t go out too fast; start to push and then hold steady; throw it all down in the last quarter mile. “Run the damn thing as fast as you can so you want to puke your brains out by the end.” Yes, all sounds doable. Strategy finalized: fast and puke.

Race strategy aside for a moment, I will say the Fifth Ave Mile is the most fun I’ve ever had at a race. For many reasons. It’s a race that brings the running community together. Sprinters, middle and long distance runners all show up to give the mile what they’ve got. Elite athletes, the wicked fast, and the rest of us – all hanging out for the race.

Milers: Elyssa, Erica, Abbe, and Me

It’s a rare NYRR race where you’re afforded both opportunity to race and spectate. Rather than follow in the elites’ dust cloud, here you actually run before them.  Men and women are grouped into heats by gender and age. This gives ample time to race, watch your friends, see the inspiring masters runners, and then gape as the elites blow past. They come blasting down the avenue in a pack. In a matter of seconds you see them approach and speed by. I did note maybe I should become a sprinter in order to get my body to look like theirs. But I digress…

For me, the race was a positive experience. I was excited to change gears for a day and push hard at a short distance. It was a welcome break from all the long mileage. After a short warmup (probably too short) along an empty stretch near the Metropolitan Museum, I lined up for my heat.

Women aged 30-39 were scheduled to run at 9:25 AM. It seemed like a large group. With five minutes before start time, I arrived to a jam-packed corral. Women were pouring around the sides of an oddly placed barricade. I squeezed in ahead of the barricade and chatted with a lovely woman from New York Flyers. She was kind to warn me of an incline in the second quarter mile. After, a welcome downhill with gravity aiding us toward the finish line. Noted.

We hear the start horn and take off. It’s an odd race start as we’re grouped by age rather than pace. It’s a mix of runners with differing paces all negotiating and navigating for space. Eventually the course opens, providing more room.

I was happy to see how quickly each quarter mile marker came up. I was conservative in the first quarter mile, reserving energy and trying not to weave around people too much. I dropped pace steadily, even on the incline, each quarter mile after. By my Garmin stats, my pace was around 7:19 min/mile at the start, progressing down to 5:46 min/mi by the finish.

I could see the finish line straight ahead as I passed the last few meter signs. What a great pull toward the end. I crossed the finish feeling tired but good. Which obviously means I didn’t run it hard enough. There was heavy breathing, but no puke. However, knowing I’m running the NYRR 18-Mile Tuneup the next morning, it’s all

Garmin Stats

good. I gave the 5th Avenue Mile a decent go and was pleasantly surprised to see my official result: 6:38.

After, it seems I had too much energy to spare. Erica and I became volunteer cheerleaders and danced around the empty course between heats. The excitement of the mile is completely contagious. It’s a classic race distance deserving respect and enthusiasm.

All that’s left to do is wait to see my finisher’s photo. Big smile, flexed muscles…because I just showed the mile a little personal smack-down!

Official NYRR Results: 

Distance – 1.0 mi

Time – 6:38

Lora & Erica: Cheerleaders

With our cheerleading crew


NYC Marathon Training: Week 9

Week nine was basically a mini-taper in preparation for the Philadelphia Rock n Roll Half Marathon. The half marathon was meant to be used as a tune-up race to assess how full marathon training is progressing. The race went very well and I wound up running a PR! It felt good to replace speed and tempo workouts with easier runs. Nice break for the legs. And it showed on race day. Back to regularly-scheduled training this coming week.

Monday: Rest day. Deep tissue massage to address piriformis and quad tightness in preparation for Philadelphia Rock n Roll Half Marathon.

Tuesday: Marathon pace run. Replaced interval session with marathon-paced run of same total mileage. Day after a massage, the run felt like a shock to the body. Everything loosened up after first two miles.

  • Total =   7.05 mi – 57:49 – 8:13 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 7 mi @ 8:23 min/mi
  • Actual splits = (1) 8:23; (2) 8:12; (3) 8:11; (4) 8:19; (5) 8:11; (6) 8:06; (7) 8:00

Wednesday: Cross-training. Spin for 45 minutes. Great class with Emily. Some tough hills and doubled up on weights during arm series, finally!

Chi Running marathon prep class. Co-teaching this class every Wednesday until the NYC Marathon. Session focused on proper posture, forward lean, and cadence. I run with the class so I’ll log it as an easy extra workout.

Thursday: Easy run. Replaced tempo run with easy run of same mileage. Ran without Garmin, so no time information. Kept pace relaxed, but admit these “easy” runs always feel hardest. Was achy until I finally dropped pace toward the end due to time constraint. Then my body felt happy!

  • Total =  6 mi – Un-timed.
  • Plan = 6 mi @ easy pace

Friday: Rest day. A lot of walking around Philadelphia kept the legs loose.

Saturday: Rest day. More walking around Philadelphia.

Sunday: Race. Philadelphia Rock n Roll Half Marathon. Stay race recap here!

  • Total = 13.42 – 1:45:03 – 7:48 min/mi

Total weekly mileage: 26.47 miles

See all weekly training recaps here.


Rock n’ Roll: Philadelphia Half Marathon

Philly RnR Half Marathon Hardware

This past Sunday marked my third consecutive running of the Philadelphia Rock n Roll Half Marathon. And, I’m excited this year’s wound up being a PR (Personal Record) race for me!

City of Brotherly Love

Philly RnR has a significant place in my running history. In 2010, it was the first half marathon I’d ever run. Thinking back, that race featured a spectacular crash and burn around mile 10. Fun memories. Despite that first experience, I keep returning as it’s a convenient race – both schedule and course-wise – as a fall marathon tuneup. I ran it as such last year, racing it comfortably. This year, I wanted to full-on RACE it as an assessment of marathon training progress thus far.

According to Run Less Run Faster, a 1:45 half marathon is a good indicator of feasibly running a 3:40 marathon. I decided to make the 1:45 push in Philly as a test. It’s early enough yet (a bit more than half way through training) to make any necessary training adjustments, post-race.

The lovely Erica and I arrived in Philly Friday afternoon to settle in and visit the expo early. We did a quick sweep of vendors at the expo and left with race bibs in-hand. The rest of the day was spent walking around the city, which helped loosen up my legs.

At race expo

Friday and Saturday were relaxing. I had time to meet up with a childhood girlfriend for brunch. I did a little carb loading. I finally met Jess (Fit Chick in the City) in person! All good things.

Sunrise on race morning

Sunday morning was forecast to be the coolest day of the weekend. Weather reports showed morning temperatures in the 50s and sunny. My plan was to race in only a sports bra and shorts to stay comfortable on the course. I brought a long sleeve throw-away shirt for before the race start. Didn’t even need it. It wound up feeling much warmer than expected. I lined up in my corral and waited.

The race went smoothly. My plan was to conservatively aim for a 7:56 min/mi pace to hit my 1:45 time goal. Of course, I realized the reality meant I’d have to race at a slightly faster pace to account for any extra distance accumulated over the course. For some reason, I always seem to run an extra .15 – .30 miles over the race distance. This even after I took care to run tangents in the city portion of the course where there were a lot of turns.

One of my main goals in this race was to practice pacing. I admit my tendency to run too fast in the beginning of a race. The wave start at Philly RnR is truly great. They do an excellent job of easing congestion on the course. However, it also means there’s a lot of running room from the very start – ideal conditions to speed off feeling great on fresh legs! I found myself getting caught up in some faster paces than I’d planned. Once I realized, I began keeping a closer eye on my own pace and let people around me pass by. (So hard to do!) I reined myself in and let my body settle into a nice, even effort.

The first 4.5 miles within the city confines went quickly. I was careful to avoid any potholes and uneven pavement. I practiced taking water from the fluid stations (I’m weaning myself off my fuel belt). My only gripe would be the first few miles were head on into the sun. I didn’t bring my sunglasses, so any discomfort there was my own fault.

As we turned back toward Eakins Oval, where the start line is, I was comfortably running around a 7:53 min/mi pace. My form felt spot-on. Perhaps race photos will confirm? My foot strike was light and my legs felt at ease. A few times I found myself assessing my form by inspecting my shadow as I ran. It’s actually quite amusing to do.

The race course gets relatively quiet as you move out to Kelly Drive, along the Schuylkill River. It seems you don’t see many spectators from mile 5.5 until close to the finish line. Except for the few bands that line that part of the course, there aren’t a lot of distractions. Since I generally race without music, this was the stretch where I had a lot of time to think. I considered my racing effort and how it felt compared to my recent 20-mile long runs. I thought about how the effort of running double this distance (granted at a slightly slower pace) would feel in November. I expected to feel tired around mile 10 or 11, so I began to prepare myself to push through.

I broke the course into segments to help with the mental aspect. I knew the early stage in the city would be easy. The next stretch, miles 5 through nearly 9, would be quiet and steady. It’s helpful knowing the turn back toward the finish line comes close to mile 9. That’s where I knew the mental coaching would begin. I told myself to hold steady until mile 11, and then begin pushing pace. I wanted to convince myself that holding onto my sub-8 min/mi pace would be easy enough I’d have energy to kick at the end. There were a few moments when that felt doubtful, but I was willing to stick to the plan.

There were two water stations in the final miles where I did slow to a fast walk. I had been taking water at most tables while still running. Quickly found that most water wound up on my arm, shorts, and face than in my mouth. Many of the water cups were overly full. I’d spill some water out until it was partially empty. That helped relieve some of the splashing. But at those last two tables, I was seriously getting thirsty. I figured hydrating was worth the few seconds lost. (Tho, I will have to make this process smoother in the NYC Marathon, when every second will count.)

Funny enough, leap-frogging place with another runner helped me keep pace in the last few miles. We seemed to take turns passing each other. He looked like a relatively fast runner who was keeping an “easy” pace. So I decided to stick close to him on the course until the end. I saw him after the finish line and congratulated him on a good run. He said, “You were running fast so I decided to stick near you!” Guess that’s just what we runners do to get through the final miles.

I was very happy to have reserved enough energy to kick in the final mile. I dropped my pace to 7:47 min/mile and ran the last (nearly) half a mile at 7:29 min/mile. Quite a surprise as when I ran the NYC Half in May at an 8 min/mi pace, I had no energy left at the end to speed up. To end the Philly half that way was a big boost!

Garmin stats (actual work):

  • Distance – 13.42 miles
  • Time – 1:45:05
  • Average pace – 7:48 min/mile

Official race stats (race credit):

  • Distance – 13.1 miles
  • Time – 1:45:03
  • Average pace – 8:01 min/mile

Finisher stats:

  • Overall – 1988 out of 15119  (Top 13% of all finishers)
  • Gender – 542 out of 8845  (Top 6% of female finishers)
  • Division – 106 out of 1530 (Top 7% of female finishers in my age group)

This was both a distance PR and a course PR!

  • Distance: 2:06 faster than previous fastest half marathon time (1:47:09 – NYC Half, March 2012)
  • Course: 24:48 faster than last year’s time on the same course

My 2012 race splits (each mile) were:

  • (1) 7:56; (2) 7:38; (3) 7:53; (4) 7:56; (5) 7:53; (6) 7:53; (7) 7:52; (8) 7:53; (9) 7:53; (10) 7:41; (11) 7:50; (12) 7:52; (13) 7:47; (14) .42mi @ 7:29

And, here is a quick look at my Philly RnR Half Marathon finish time history:

  • 2010 – 2:24:22
  • 2011 – 2:09:51
  • 2012 – 1:45:03

So cheers to a new half marathon PR, and to running with good friends!

Me, Erica, and Jess after the race

Me and Jess after the finish

NYC Marathon Training: Week 8

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Week eight was a decent training week despite contending with the humidity. Ready for cooler, drier running weather. Happy with both tempo and long runs. Next Sunday (Sep 16) is the Philadelphia Rock n Roll half marathon. Will be running this as a tune up race for NYC Marathon. To accommodate the race, am shifting a few long run workouts around. Ran 20 miles this week instead of the scheduled 18-miler. Next weekend is the half marathon; weekend after Philly is the NYRR 18-mile Tune Up. Works out quite nicely, schedule-wise.

Monday: Rest day.

Tuesday: Intervals. Although I worked hard, pace was sluggish. 96% humidity didn’t help; was a soupy, damp mess to run in. Bit disappointed to see such disparity in pace despite the effort. Happy to have plowed through the workout though.

  • Total =  7.62  mi – 1:03:05 – 8:16 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 2 x [(6 x 400m @ 6:38 min/mi) (90 sec RI)] (2:30 RI between sets)
  • Actual repeats = (1) 6:50; (2) 6:56; (3) 6:54; (4) 6:59; (5) 7:03; (6) 6:40; (7) 6:56; (8) 7:01; (9) 6:40; (10) 6:53; (11) 6:45; (12) 6:43

Wednesday: Form review. First day assisting at a Chi Running class training people for the NYC Marathon. Spent evening doing form review; had mine re-evaluated, as well. Always interesting what you can relearn.

Thursday: Tempo run. Was a hard run after a long, busy day. Definitely happy getting this close to, and then exceeding goal pace. It was a push with the humidity. Quads and piriformis are feeling tight. Seems I’m due for a deep tissue massage as foam rolling and stretching is only doing so much right now.

  • Total = 6.01 mi – 48:33 – 8:06 min/mi avg pace (plus extra .50 mi cool down @ 8:57 min/mi pace)
  • Plan = 3 mi @ 7:35 min/mi
  • Actual splits = (1) 7:37; (2) 7:42; (3) 7:31

Friday: Rest day. Epsom salt soak and foam rolling.

Saturday: Long run. Comfortable long run that included two bridges (Manhattan & Brooklyn). Legs felt great entire time. Quads and piriformis weren’t bothersome at all. Pace was a tad fast, but controlled and comfortable. Watched storm roll in over the city, which was incredible to see. Caught in pouring rain in last 1.5mi of run.

  • Total = 20.01 mi – 2:53:10 – 8:42 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 20 mi @ 8:53 min/mi
  • Actual = 20.01 mi @ 8:42 min/mi

Sunday: Cross-training. Spin for 45 minutes.

Total weekly mileage:  34.14 miles

See all weekly training recaps here.


NYC Marathon Training: Week 7

Art courtesy of Dela Vega.
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Week seven was an intense training week. It capped off August and my first full month of 2012 NYC Marathon training. Running-wise, I totaled 141.35 miles. This is the highest monthly mileage I’ve had in any marathon training cycle, thus far. I realize Dean Karnazes runs this mileage in a day; but I’m pleased with it. Happy to end the month feeling fit and healthy. Also nice to see training pace falling into line with plan more often now.

Monday: Rest day.

Tuesday: Intervals. This session went really well. Best round of intervals yet. Ran outdoors. Didn’t look at Garmin while running. Concentrated on maintaining relaxed form. Body felt good, no aches or pains. Finally hit that sub-7:00 min/mi pace!

  • Total =  6.01 mi – 50:50 – 8:27 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 6 x 800m @ 6:48 min/mi
  • Actual repeats = (1) 6:51; (2) 6:48; (3) 6:54; (4) 6:54; (5) 6:54; (6) 7:03

Wednesday: Cross-training. One-hour Body Conceptions by Mahri workout. What a great session! Cardio through dance-inspired dynamic movement and body sculpting using own body weight. Large concentration on engaging core. Really enjoyed trying something new.

Thursday: Rest day. Active recovery. Spent nearly 8 hours out and about walking around the city. Epsom salt soak and foam rolling in evening.

Friday: Tempo run. Early AM sunrise run. Didn’t eat well previous evening, so expected low energy and sluggish legs. Pleasantly surprised to find legs (and whole body) feeling good. Cooler temp was fantastic. No problem dropping down to, and maintaining tempo pace. Intentionally over-paced a bit to fit total mileage into my time constraint.

  • Total = 8.01 mi – 1:03:22 – 7:54 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 6 mi @ 8:05 min/mi
  • Actual splits = (1) 8:04; (2) 7:47; (3) 7:52; (4) 7:46; (5) 7:43; (6) 7:45

Saturday: Long run. Moved run to evening to give legs recovery time after Fri tempo. Took about two miles to warm up and for legs to feel good. Comfortable pace, controlled form. Shorter long run this week, so made it a hillier route. Also bumped up mileage to a half marathon for my own amusement. Saturday night half marathon for one.

  • Total =  13.1 mi – 1:51:20 – 8:27 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 13 mi @ 8:38 min/mi
  • Actual = 13.1 mi @ 8:27 min/mi

Sunday: Cross-training. Spin for 45 minutes. Fantastic to have class with Emily again! Speed work, hills, killer arm series, and lots of core work.

Total weekly mileage: 27.12 miles

See all weekly training recaps here.


Long Run Redemption

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“We can be redeemed only to the extent to which we see ourselves.”

Martin Buber


Run long enough and bad runs are bound to surface. They’re certainly not subtle when they do. Last Saturday I had one of the worst runs of this training cycle, thus far. My schedule called for 20 miles; I could barely make it five. Uncooperative legs, riddled with aches and pains, refused to loosen up. My mind wasn’t fully present and prepared to tackle a long run. It’s one of a handful of times I had to quit early. This time, not by a mile or so, but by 15! I walked home nearly in tears – disappointed, deflated, angry.

As demoralizing as the run was, I knew it wasn’t due to lack of ability. I’d run 20 miles two weeks prior without issue; and I ran 18 miles the previous weekend feeling great. Perhaps it was the result of cumulative factors; maybe it was more in my head than anything. Whatever the reason, I knew I’d attempt long run number two the following morning.

I always allow myself a degree of flexibility in training. Not every training run needs to be spot-on. Workouts get shifted around; pace isn’t always where it needs to be. Usually, I’m content knowing I do my best given the circumstances of the day or week. However, the long runs are the cornerstone of my training. I need them not only to build endurance, but to train my brain. It’s one thing on which I’m working diligently – building confidence to make my race day push. Until November, the closest conditions to race day I get are these long runs.

Originally I told myself I’d run 15 miles on Sunday. Combine those with the junky five from the previous day to total 20 miles. Done. I can manage 15 miles. I would still hit my weekly mileage goal in the end. In reality, I knew a full do-over was in the works. My thoughts were churning. I wanted to make amends and run all 20 miles in one shot. It was a matter of restoring conviction.

Saturday evening, I was in Brooklyn for dinner. Walking, I noticed graffiti (always catches my eye) in a lovely script. The striking white letters on a black post read, “Let it be easy.” I snapped a photo and let the words take root in my brain. Later that night, I did an Epsom salt soak for my legs. Foam rolling unearthed an alarming amount of trigger points in my calves and quads. My legs felt pulverized by the time I went to sleep.

The next morning, my legs were comfortable and ready to run. My brain was also anticipating redemption. I was ready to have a go at those 20 miles. I set out for one of the best runs I’ve had recently! My body felt comfortable the entire workout. I kept my form relaxed, my mind easy. At no point during the run did I have doubts about making the full distance. Everything fell into place and it felt amazing. Looking back, maybe I paced a bit too fast compared to plan. But it was the result of just letting go, enjoying the moment, and letting the miles roll under my feet. It’s a feeling I hope to have on marathon day.

As I traveled the city by foot that morning – with views of the water, skyline, and bridges as backdrop – I thought, “let it be easy.” Not that there weren’t moments I needed to push, or harden my resolve. It was more a matter of accepting the moment and being present. There was no struggle – no coercing my body – just a peaceful run that reestablished belief in myself and my training.

This weekend I learned the bad workouts are just as important as the good. They’re opportunity in disguise. Nothing fuels the fire better than realizing we have a choice to give in or push back. I needed that. I’d rather a detestable training run, with the chance to rectify, than a bad race experience. In training, as in life, the bad days don’t last. Never doubt the difference a day can make.


NYC Marathon Training: Week 6

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Week six of training had its highs and lows. Some runs were better than others. It was a strong, rather intense, workout week. Thankful it ended on a good note. Lesson of the week: bad runs happen, regardless of physical conditioning. And just as surely, those bad runs are followed by the good ones. As of today (Sunday, Aug 26), the NYC Marathon is 69 days away.

Monday: Rest day. Break between Sunday’s spin and Tuesday’s intervals.

Tuesday: Intervals. Dodgy set of treadmill intervals. Evening workout immediately after nap. Not a good combination. Wasn’t able to drop pace nearly enough. Gave it what I could without losing control of my form. All intervals were at same speed.

  • Total =  7 mi – 1:00:00 – 8:34 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan =  2 x 1200m @ 6:56 min/mi; 4 x 800m @ 6:48 min/mi
  • Actual repeats = (1) 7:14; (2) 7:14; (3) 7:14; (4) 7:14; (5) 7:14; (6) 7:14

Wednesday: Rest day.

Thursday: Tempo run. This run felt spot-on. Didn’t have high expectations since it was an evening run after a full day on my feet. However, everything fell into place. Felt in control of pace – a nice balance of working hard and feeling comfortable. Only off split was on Cat Hill.

  • Total =   7.01 mi – 56:01 – 7:59 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan =   5 mi @  7:50 min/mi
  • Actual splits =  (1) 8:02; (2) 7:44; (3) 7:45; (4) 7:52; (5) 7:37

Friday: Rest day.

Saturday: Long run. First long run attempt of the weekend. Legs had many aches and pains. After several miles, still no sign of loosening up. Mind also wasn’t fully present and prepared. Miserable couple miles before I decided to call it a day. Epsom salt soak and foam rolling. Discovered many trigger points in calves and quads.

  • Total = 4.75 mi – 41:53 – 8:49 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan =   20 mi @  9:08 min/mi
  • Actual = 4.75 mi @ 8:49 min/mi

Sunday: Long run. Second long run attempt of the weekend. Woke up with legs feeling much better. Debated running 15 miles to combine with previous day’s mileage for total of 20 miles. Decided to take a full re-do and ran 20 miles. Body felt great on this run. Form was comfortable throughout. Seems I over-paced quite a bit compared to plan. Didn’t spend much time analyzing Garmin during the run. Finished feeling strong.

  • Total = 20.01 mi – 2:46:51 – 8:20 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 20 mi @ 9:08 min/mi
  • Actual = 20.01 @ 8:20 min/mi

Cross-training. Spin for 45 minutes. Granted, I wouldn’t normally do back-to-back, same-day cardio workouts. Because of Saturday’s running mishap, didn’t have enough time to cancel bike reservation. Decided to spin to shake the legs out, post-long run.

Total weekly mileage: 38.77 miles

See all weekly training recaps here.


Arming Myself

Custom Bracelet: Erica Sara Designs
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“Before you begin a thing remind yourself that difficulties and delays quite impossible to foresee are ahead…You can only see one thing clearly, and that is your goal. Form a mental vision of that and cling to it through thick and thin.”

 Kathleen Norris


Form a mental vision of your goal and cling to it. It’s advice I’m trying to embody by actively visualizing amidst marathon training. Empowering imagery’s cultivating in my mind. Still, I want another motivational weapon. This would be something physical, a concrete representation of my big goal. Its presence is a reminder. To achieve, I need to pull through the depths of challenging workouts and push. Don’t give in; don’t give up; just keep going.

One afternoon I mentioned this idea to a dear friend, Erica. She’s the muscle and creative brains behind Erica Sara Designs. What I envisioned was a bracelet. Something delicate and beautiful to remain on my wrist until I earn my Boston Marathon qualifying time. Being a magnificently supportive force, Erica immediately had ideas. We talked about wording, font, and color. Not long after, the bracelet was ready. The result: it’s pictured above.

This thin navy and silver bracelet sits comfortably. It’s hardly noticeable to wear, but it’s attention-grabbing. The charm is engraved with my key word mantra, “Boston Bound.” This message will not leave my body until I’ve run my sub-3:40 marathon. When will that be? Best case, the bracelet and I may part ways after the New York City Marathon in November. Or, it could remain with me longer.

The journey to Boston will inevitably contain workouts that make me question my ability. My mind may seek its happy place. Or, I may wind up thinking, “Why exactly am I doing this?” In those muddled moments, a small silver mantra will spark the reminder. The answer: because I am strong and I’m Boston bound. I can see it now.


NYC Marathon Training: Week 5

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Week five went very well. Made it to spin and yoga, so training feels a bit more balanced. Solid running made training paces feel like they’re coming together. Speed work is finally feeling more manageable; oddly enough, it’s from running intervals on the treadmill. Have to go with what works. Keeping close eye on some muscular pain in left shin. Foam rolling to help manage that. Overall, feeling good.

Monday: Rest day. One day break between Sunday’s tempo run and Tuesday’s mile repeats.

Tuesday: Intervals. Treadmill seems the easiest way to consistently pace through interval sessions. Ran on Woodway treadmill, which I prefer. Feel less like I’m keeping up with belt speed since it more closely resembles feel of street running. Thus, was able to pace faster. Only noticeable issue is left shin feels a bit sore. Foam rolling and stretching.

  • Total =  6 mi – 52:00 – 8:39 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan =  3×1600 @ 7:04 min/mi
  • Actual repeats = (1) 7:14; (2) 7:14; (3) 7:14

Wednesday: Cross-training. Evening Asana Yoga for 1:15. Relaxing practice focused on stretching hamstrings, quads, hips, and shoulders. Great poses for runners. Foam rolling.

Thursday: Tempo run. Started off achy, which subsided after stretching and increasing speed. Tempo miles were a push midway through on rolling park hills.  Dropped pace back down at end of speed session. Some mental interference cropped up. Working on overcoming that. Legs feel fine post-run.

  • Total =   6.01 mi – 49:10 – 8:13 min/mi avg pace (plus 1.5mi warmup/cool down)
  • Plan =   3 mi @  7:35 min/mi
  • Actual splits =  (1) 7:32; (2) 7:47; (3) 7:31

Friday: Rest day.

Saturday: Long Run. Birthday run! Took advantage of last Summer Streets. Cool temps, rainy – pouring rain, actually – then sunny. This run felt much easier than the 17 miles I did two weeks ago. Felt great on bridge inclines. Revised fueling plan seems to be working well. Only residual soreness is that troublesome left shin.

  • Total =   18.01 mi – 2:37:11 – 8:42 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan =   18 mi @  9:08 min/mi
  • Actual =  18.01 mi @  8:42 min/mi

Sunday: Cross-training. Spin for 45 minutes. Actually had to increase resistance on hill work today to get a good workout. Good progress!

Total weekly mileage: 31.52 miles

See all weekly training recaps here.


18 Miles: A Celebration

Age 5
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“I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.”

Joseph Campbell


This Saturday is my birthday. Being a glossy Leo, it easily remains one of my favorite days of the year. That may seem childish for a full-fledged adult; but it’s this outlook that enables me to embrace my age as it ticks onward and upward. While I offer a respectful nod to the years that brought me thus far, it seems more appropriate to toast the year that will be.

It’s fair to say I’m a girl (woman, really) with hopes of achieving some big goals. I sense some changes on the horizon, whose potential is very exciting. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing change and personal evolution don’t cease at a certain age. If anything, experience assures me the things I wish to achieve needn’t remain optimistic dreams. Those aspirations are within my reach; I just need to work hard to realize them.

Age…not 5
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I’m closer to 40 now than 20. I consider that a good thing. I like who I am – there’s a comfort in having skin that fits just a bit better these days. There’s a strength in placing less significance on other people’s opinions of me, and more value in my own feelings. It may have taken me a while to reach this point, but I’m happy to finally be here. It’s not to say that journey’s done; it’s not. But I credit running as the enabler to discovering my own strength. It’s afforded me time alone with my thoughts, goals, and resolve; and it’s brought me to a wonderful place.

Tomorrow I’ll wake early to give myself a gift. I’ll run 18 miles on August 18, as I turn 18 x 2. As I go, I’ll think of the city streets as the path to this year’s potential. It may be a day of celebration, but training also continues. With a determined eye focused on Boston, and the comfort of miles beneath my feet, this is one year worthy of vivid dreams turned reality.


NYC Marathon Training: Week 4

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Week four introduced the first of five (5!!!) scheduled 20-milers, according to Run Less Run Faster. A hectic schedule, including weekend travel, meant I couldn’t attend spin class; also, rearranged my long and tempo runs. Body is actually feeling good and cooperating with the increasing mileage. Happy to report no noticeable soreness in legs the days following long runs.

Monday: Rest day. After last Saturday’s 17-miler and Sunday’s spin class, Monday was a recovery day.

Tuesday: Intervals. Late evening run meant intervals on treadmill. Pacing always feels faster to me on treadmill than the setting indicates. I took belt speed as fast as possible without compromising my form. Result was nice, evenly paced 1000m intervals. But, by the numbers, appear slower than plan.

  • Total = 7 mi – 1:06 – 9:25 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 5 x 1000m @ 6:52 min/mi
  • Actual repeats = (1) 7:24; (2) 7:24; (3) 7:24; (4) 7:24; (5) 7:24

Wednesday: Cross-training. Yoga for 1:15. Free evening yoga session on Pier 25 hosted by Lolë Women and YogaWorks New York. Great workout with poses focused on arm and leg strength. Made me realize just how overly tight my shoulder muscles get from running.

Thursday: Stretching. 30 minutes of stretching focused primarily on piriformis and hip flexors. Extra stretching seems to help keep these aches & pains under control.

Friday: Long run. First 20-miler of the training schedule. Went better than previous week’s 17 miles. Adjusted gel intake to every 4 miles (rather than every 50-minutes). Helped maintain higher energy levels. Felt a bit mentally tired nearing mile 15. Broke through the barrier by telling myself the remaining five miles were manageable. Miles 15-20 felt great. Had hard time maintaining slower pace, per plan. Kept most mile splits near 9:00 min/mi. Let myself drop pace in the last 4-5 miles to 8:45-8:30 min/mi.

  • Total =  20.01 mi – 2:59.59 –  8:57 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan =  20 mi @ 9:23 min/mi
  • Actual = 20.01 mi @ 8:57 min/mi

Saturday: Rest day. Traveling.

Sunday: Tempo run. This run came after an evening wedding, another day of travel, and less than an hour after dinner. Not ideal conditions! Still, was able to pace close to plan despite feeling tired. Body felt good.

  • Total = 6.01 mi – 48:14 – 8:00 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 4 mi @ 7:50 min/mi
  • Actual splits = (1) 8:00; (2) 7:43; (3) 7:57; (4) 7:50

Total weekly mileage:  33.02 miles

See all weekly training recaps here.


20 Miles: Risk for Progress

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“If what you did yesterday still looks big to you, you haven’t done much today.”

Wid Matthews


There’s a saying – in one of its various incarnations – that goes: If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have received. Accepting this truth, I opted to use an advanced marathon training plan for the first time. I reason a more challenging plan better befits a more challenging goal.

Per schedule, I’m logging my first 20-mile run this weekend. Doesn’t sound like a big deal for marathon training, really. It’s not like I haven’t run this distance several times before. But, it’s a milestone for me. Here is my realization, affirmation, confirmation:

NYC Marathon 2011: Ran one 20-miler 17 weeks into a 20-week training plan.

NJ Marathon 2012: Ran one 20-miler 15 weeks into an 18-week training plan.

NYC Marathon 2012: Running first 20-miler four weeks into a 16-week training plan.

Sometimes a quick look back from where I’ve come is what I need to readily move ahead. It’s empowering to acknowledge progress made over three marathon training cycles. Knowing I’m asking more of my body than before, I’ll tackle my 20-miler while carefully assessing its feedback. The increased training load is a challenge for me. But, I have to accept some smart risks…or be willing to risk my goals entirely.

Since forgoing my goals is not an option, I’ll choose to appreciate every moment of my long run tomorrow. Even the moments that require me to dig deep signify growth. This is what makes us runners amazing: we don’t flinch at the amount of muscle and gumption it takes to realize our potential. We know in our deepest instinct it’s worth the effort, and worth the risk.

So, here’s to everyone’s impending weekend or long-term goals. Whether in training or racing: may you find yourself strong, willing, and liberated by your progress.

Stories motivate: What goals are you working to achieve?


Visualization: Like An Athlete

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“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things that escape those who dream only at night.”

Edgar Allan Poe


Sweat is rolling. I’m inward-focused and forging the last hill. My body is paradoxically energized and depleted. The day before, I ran 17 miles in 87 degrees. Now I’m in spin class. I shut my eyes and push my legs against high resistance. Then I hear one of my favorite things Emily, the instructor, says: “How do you want to cross your finish line – like a diva, like a princess? Or do you want to cross it like an athlete, like a champion?” This always stirs me: “Like an athlete.”

I love the visualization encouraged in spin class. In the dimly lit studio, Emily advocates self-focus. We work hard, drop our heads, and close our eyes. The finish line of which she speaks? It’s a gateway to personal transformation. I picture approaching the New York City Marathon finish – spent, pushing, using everything I’ve got to cross that line in under 3:40.

I’d forgotten visualization is such a powerful tool. Conceptualizing the challenges of training and racing helps me feel prepared. It’s a way in which I can practice reactions to certain situations before they emerge. This may help me overcome some of the psychological obstacles I’m encountering in training. Oddly enough, I’d used this approach last year and it worked quite well.

When training for the 2011 New York City Marathon, I imagined crossing the Central Park finish line on nearly every run. I pictured those last moments on the course repeatedly. I memorized the feeling of running that final incline. Although I hadn’t run 26.2 miles before, I pieced together how my race day experience may feel. The visual, physical, and emotional cues became deep-rooted. When the marathon arrived, my finish line experience was familiar as I’d mentally practiced it for months.

It’s time to start visualizing again. I’ll be interjecting a bit more dreaming into the actualities of training. Perhaps those dreams will be so vivid, so detailed and well-thought out, they’ll support my race day reality. A few months hence, I’ll cross the finish line of the New York City Marathon. If it’s anything close to what I imagine, I’ll have given everything I can muster – in body and mind – to realize my goal.


NYC Marathon Training: Week 3

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Week three was the highest total mileage I’ve run in nearly 12-13 weeks. Body’s worked through some kinks, but overall legs are holding up. First time trying an advanced marathon plan, which means long runs are hitting major mileage early on.

Monday: Reverse ladder intervals. Moved this session up a day. Incorporated workout while assisting with Joel’s Chi Running session. Intervals were punctuated with form reviews and some hill work. Actually welcomed the variation. Tough session; though pacing was all over the place.

  • Total =  5.5 mi – 42:57 – 7:48 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan =  1200m @ 6:56 min/mi; 1000m @ 6:52; 800m @ 6:48; 600m @ 6:45; 400m @ 6:38; (200m RI)
  • Actual repeats = (1) 1200m @ 6:45; (2) 1000m @ 7:05; (3) 800m @ 7:01; (4) 600m @ 6:26; (5) 400m @ 6:42

Tuesday: Rest day.

Wednesday: Cross-train. Nike Training Club “Butt Buster.” (Go ahead and laugh – I know, I know…). Four-minute plank. Thirty minutes of stretching – especially piriformis and hip flexor.

Thursday: Tempo. Humid, sweaty evening run. Slow start due to knotty and achy legs. Wasn’t certain I’d be able to continue, but stretching helped. Met plan pace.

  • Total = 7.01 mi – 58:05 – 8:20 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan = 5 mi @ 8:05 min/mi
  • Actual splits = (1) 8:08; (2) 7:56; (3) 7:58; (4) 8:03; (5) 7:52

Friday: Rest day. Stretching and epsom salt soak for legs.

Saturday: Long Run. Maintained good pace, though need to pace slower for these summer long runs. Nearly 87 degrees and humid. Ran Summer Streets, plus two bridges, which was a lot of fun. Public water fountains above 51st Street on Park would help. Was late refueling, which I believe caused me to overheat toward end of run. Break in shade, cold Gatorade helped. Finished 17 miles.

  • Total =  17.01 mi – 2:27.33 –  8:42 min/mi avg pace
  • Plan =  17 mi @ 9:08 min/mi
  • Actual = 17.01 mi @ 8:42

Sunday: Cross-training. Spin class – 45 minutes.

Total weekly mileage: 29.52 miles

See all weekly training recaps here.