Friday, October 28, 2011

Monument(al) Run

It has been a few since my last post - work and life interrupted me being able to post. It didn't stop me from running, though. In fact, over the last 13 days, I have run just over 64 miles at an average pace of 8:34 min/mile and an average HR of 134 BPM. Since I am in the taper phase for the ING NYC Marathon, the mileage isn't as high as it has been over the last few months, but I am pleased with where I'm at right now.

While none of the runs were that incredibly spectacular, I did have a few good ones. My latest run was scheduled to be an easy 5 miler. I was in DC on business, so I had the pleasure of being able to wake up and pretty much roll out to the National Mall.
Photo Credit: Running Weatherman
The run couldn't have been better - perfect weather, amazing scenery and good company helped the miles pass by easily. I didn't look at the watch at all (except to start and stop). After plugging the data into Training Peaks (love, BTW), I was shocked to see what I found. We ended up doing 5.7 miles at an 8:00 min/mile pace! I really didn't know and the proof of that is in my HR data - I averaged only 122 bpm. Shocked! I typically haven't enjoyed the taper, but apparently, my body is truly benefiting from it!

I have 8 days until the big race. I know that I have put in the training and I am confident that we'll do well. I have a few more easy runs to log and I am really looking forward to them. In fact, thanks to Scott over at @irunnerblog and iRunnerBlog, I have decided to run the 6th Annual Anna's Angels 10 Miler on Sunday. I'll take it easy and just enjoy the experience - plus, the race helps provide funding to promote research for Down Syndrome.

Do you enjoy the taper? Have you ever entered a race knowing that you were not going to race - to just enjoy running with others?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Beating the St. Louis Blues

At the beginning of the week, I was off to St. Louis for some much needed management training. You know the place, the Gateway to the West...

It was a great trip. Joining more than 50 of my colleagues from around the country, Mexico and Canada, we spent a lot of in "class" discussing case studies and hearing from senior leadership. To keep from suffering from that "cooped" up feeling, I had to run!

My favorite part of the trip - the opportunity to run with one of my colleagues from Vancouver. We had a great run and were able to spend some quality time talking about our shared passion for running. One of the cool things she shared was that she is participating in a running study that is looking at minimalist running. Definitely sounds cool.

While there, I got two good runs in around the Washington University campus. Thankfully the weather cooperated and the runs were early enough to be super enjoyable.

The runs pretty much allowed me to keep on track with my ING NYC Marathon training plan. I have my last long run this weekend. Looking forward to getting it done and then beginning the taper!

Thanks for the pics, Jen!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mental & Physical Preparedness

"Luck is for people who don't prepare." - unknown

I can't think of a more supportive quote for today's post. I can say that because I know that I am well on my way to being fully prepared for the upcoming ING NYC Marathon. It is a mere 33 days and some hours away from today. I still have one more big mileage week and I am really looking forward to it. Then, before I know it, taper time will be here.

I've only done two other open marathons, the ING Hartford Marathon and the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon. Hartford was my first and I was totally unprepared for the race. I lied to myself throughout my training - telling myself that I was doing great. While my speedwork was amazing, I was not putting in the time to log any real endurance miles. I finally crossed the line in 4:10:23. Disappointed, yes, but no one to blame but myself.

My second was in Burlington, VT. Read about it here. I was so much more prepared for this race. I put in the time and distance and had some great long runs. However, Ted and I didn't cross until 4:16:32. This was Ted's first marathon and it was all about getting the experience - getting prepared - so I can't be disappointed in the result at all.

On Saturday, I woke up early - earlier than I wake to go to work during the week - and drove over to Umstead State Park. I had only run there one other time and got lost, so I was really looking forward to getting on a different trail that I had mapped out and studied extensively on Friday night. At 6:10 a.m., I set off in the dark (this is important to note for later). I did not pace the first few miles well and my HR was spiking all over the place. This gave me some serious pause, but I stuck with it and trusted my plan. I finally fell into a groove between miles 9 and 10 and was ready to bring it home.

On my way back in, I did some quick calculations and realized that I was going to finish back at the car about a mile short. I figured I would just add in a short out-and-back to hit an even 20 miles. Somehow, though, I missed a turn and ended up heading off in the wrong direction. After not seeing any landmarks that I recognized, I had to stop and consult a map. How could I miss this?

Once I figured out where I was, I turned around to head back up the hill I just descended and backtracked until I found my way out of the park, back to the car. I did 20.91 miles in 3:03:38 for an overall pace of 8:46. This is my marathon goal pace (for a 3:50 mary...a PR). I feel confident with this goal, partly because I finished the run so strong. Check out these stats:
Mile 15 - 8:11
16 - 8:11
17 - 8:27
18 - 8:52 (climbing the hill back to the right trail)
19 - 8:07
20 - 8:05

Check out this elevation profile:

And an overview of the 20.91 mile map:

As I said earlier, I've got one more big mileage week to go. I back it down a little this week, then back up for another weekend 20 miler and then it is taper time. I will feel super prepared after I bag the 20 miler on October 15/16, but for now, I will just enjoy my "high" and the satisfaction that I am putting in the work to finish strong on November 6.

As the Roman philosopher, Seneca, said, "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." While everyone is wishing me luck as I take on 26.2 miles again, I will graciously say thank you - knowing that my "luck" comes from my preparation.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Long Run Mistakes

In thinking about this weekend's upcoming 20-miler, I came across an article that I'd read before over on Active, "7 Mistakes to Avoid on Your Long Runs," by Coach Jenny Hadfield. I believe that the article, overall, is targeted more toward beginner distance runners / marathoners. However, I actually found it helpful as I mentally prepare for the first of two 20-milers that I have coming up - especially the second mistake Coach Hadfield highlights:
2. Running too Fast
The difference between running for fitness and training for a long-distance running race is one stays consistent week to week (fitness) and the latter builds and progresses throughout the season. Because of this progression, it is important to vary your effort level as you train. In other words, run at a pace that is easy and conversational. If you can talk while you're running the long run, you're at the right effort. If you can't, you're running too fast. Avoid trying to run the long runs by a pace or target time. This sets you up for the race pace training disaster where you feel great for about four to six weeks, then things start to crumble when your energy levels decline, your body aches, and performance begins to suffer

In looking at my pace/HR data on @TrainingPeaks, I know what she's talking about. While I strive to maintain a conversational pace on my LSD runs (even alone and even if that means I look like I'm talking to myself - which I probably am), I sometimes get obsessed with my data. If my pace starts to tail off, I'll pick it up, starting a whole host of problems. My HR spikes, my breathing becomes more labored and I am apt to bonk out before getting in the complete distance targeted. 

Knowing that I am prone to make this mistake and the fact that I am re-reading this article, I know that am prepared to get into the mindset this weekend to take it slower and easier. With only 38 days and some hours left until I toe the start line at the ING NYC Marathon for the first time, I can't afford to get injured.

What do you do to slow yourself down when you need to?

Monday, September 26, 2011

American Tobacco Trail...and Snakes!

Per my ING NYC Marathon training guide that I wrote, this week was a back-down week for me. My long run was supposed to be an easy 13 miles. Unfortunately, I overslept (mistake 1) on Sunday morning. After a good breakfast, I decided to drive over to Durham, NC to try out the American Tobacco Trail, starting at 11:15 a.m. (mistake 2). Why was that a mistake? Because of the heat and humidity. I was not prepared for it and I let it DOMINATE me. My "easy 13" turned into a slog fest. I finished, rather quit, after 12 miles. While I averaged my targeted sub-9:00 pace, it hurt...bad.

I wrapped up my trifecta, hat trick, whatever you want to call them, of mistakes, when, around mile 8.5, I stopped to try my hand at snake charming. While I had already seen two other, smaller snakes on the trail, I wisely left them alone. This one, however, was a big guy and there were kids coming down the trail, so I made an attempt to encourage him off the path. He didn't like all. Instead of slithering faster, he coiled, raised up and was poised to strike.

Realizing that I made a situation that wasn't a problem much, much worse, I cut my losses, called out to those approaching that there was a snake in the path, and went on my way. The most interesting thing about this whole encounter came when I uploaded my GPS/HR data from my Timex Global Trainer. My HR spiked dramatically at mile 8.5 and stayed elevated beyond normal until around mile 10. That was interesting!

I'm back at it this week. Some strength and stretching work today, followed by 5 on Tuesday, 8 on Wednesday, 5 on Thursday, 5 @ MPP on Saturday and a lovely 20 on Sunday.

Questions for the day - 
What's on tap for you this week?
What's the most interesting thing you've seen on the run?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Blessed Weekend

This past weekend I was back home in Western Massachusetts. I couldn't have asked for a better homecoming. The weekend with Kerry was great. The highlight...going to church together! I had no idea that going to church alone could be so lonely after going together for so many years. So, sitting there together, listening, singing, praying, I felt at such peace. A truly blessed feeling.

While in town, we hit up our favorite restaurants, went out with friends, participated in a charity 5k that a friend puts on, Move 4 Behcets & Arthritis, and really just enjoyed our time together. It was very hard to leave on Sunday. Thankfully, I'm going back again soon!

Even though I was "vacationing," I didn't let it stop me from getting out for a run with Ted. Training for the ING NYC Marathon must go on. We did a fun 18 mile run on the roads and rail trails. When I say fun, I really do mean it. After training 11 weeks alone, having someone to run with is a treat.

Below is the map. Here are some stats:
18.07 miles
8:56 min/mile pace
131 bpm average HR
The kicker, miles 16 (8:16), 17 (8:18) and 18 (7:52) to close out the run.

Told you it was a good day and a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Newton MV2 - My First Thoughts

I tweeted yesterday about how I was excited to have received my new Newton MV2s from Road Runner Sports (my favorite place to get shoes and gear). It took some serious restraint to not blow off my scheduled rest day and lace 'em up for a test run as soon as I got home. I held back and waited until this morning. After my sweet wake-up call at 5:30 a.m. (thanks, babe), I grabbed a piece of toast with peanut butter, a big glass of water and a cup of coffee. By 5:51 a.m., I was out the door and on my run. I did 7.78 miles in 1:06:34 - an 8:33 avg. pace. Not bad for me for an early morning run.

While I only have those 7.78 miles on them, I thought I could provide my initial thoughts...

First things first, I think that they are beautiful. I know that I’ll get them nice and dirty soon, but I think the colors absolutely pop! Granted, I really liked the black version that was included in a slew of photos that Run Blogger posted with his review of the MV2.

As for the weight, you are aware of just how light they are before you even open the box. I’ll weigh them tonight to give an accurate representation, as no one really provides the weight of a size 13 running shoe in their descriptions. Yeah, that’s right, I wear a size 13.

My old Distance Racers are a 12.5. I followed the advice from the Newton website and sized up a half size – which makes them fit perfectly (in the house on the carpet)! I have a pretty wide foot, too, but the toe-box and forefoot has plenty of room, even given the race flat nature of the shoe.

As for initial, initial comfort – I was concerned at first. The way the tongue is attached to the upper seems different from any of my other Netwons. After slipping them on, I grabbed the tongue and pulled it up tight – as I typically do. However, with the way it is attached, the seam (?) felt like it was trying to fold under. So, right there on the top of my foot, it was folded under and ready to rub a big blister.

Not convinced that I would have to send them back, I took them off and unlaced them to see what the problem was exactly. Seeing how it was all connected and attached, helped me realize an easy fix – just don’t pull on the tongue so roughly/tight. It doesn’t need it. I relaced and set them up for them morning’s run.

Other pre-run observations – the insole is incredible thin. The lugs are pretty different from the other Newtons I’ve worn – Distance and Gravity – they have traction! The shoes also come with an optional 3mm heel lift that you can install if you aren’t fully ready for zero-drop. I have been running naturally for a while now, so I didn’t feel like I needed it.

Out on the run, they are whisper quiet. Not only do they feel slipper like, but the sound, rather the lack of sound coming from your footstrike, is slipper/sock like. It was like I was running lighter – super quiet.

As for the mechanics, I believe that the redesigned lug system is much more efficient in the MV2. Everything is on the lugs on the forefoot. This helps to keep you in great posture and running form. The only place that it felt different (and I think I just have to get used to it) is on the downhill. Staying on my forefoot, with a natural footstrike, on the downhill is pretty difficult for me, and the MV2 does nothing to help you out. I’m not sure my heel struck the ground once – throughout 1545 ft of elevation gain and 1565 ft of elevation loss.

Coming into the end of my run, I felt just as springy and responsive as I did at the beginning. I did not have leg fatigue really at all that I don't normally feel. And bonus, I did not get any hotspots at all, as I typically do when I wear my NB Minimus Roads.

I plan to continue to put the MV2 through its paces. Big test this weekend – how will they feel toward the end of Sunday’s 18-miler? Stayed tuned for an update.

Have you tried the MV2s? What say you? What about minimalist running? Is it for you or... for the birds?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Two-Twelve: Adding the Extra Degree

"The only thing that stands between a person and what they want in life is the will to try it and the faith to believe it is possible." - Rich DeVos

Motivation. We all get it from somewhere...from someone. Often, we (and I mean endurance athletes) have the innate ability to find motivation within ourselves. I mean, seriously, out on the roads training or out on the race course, there are times when we are all alone. No one is there to encourage us, to push us forward. What keeps us from quitting right then and there?

I believe what sets us apart is the fact that we gather and save motivation and support from each other - from other athletes, from our tri-spouses, from our families/friends. Many people think that what we do is crazy - no matter what distance in which you compete. But we do it. We may not necessarily look great doing it, but we do. We have the will to try it, the will to train for it and the faith to believe that we're going to finish...and finish strong.

We are a special breed and I am happy to know that I belong. I am thankful for all of you out there that provide me with that inspiration and motivation that I need to continue to train and compete.

I had a great 18-mile training run on Saturday. I knew I could do it.  Not only because I was with a training group that wouldn't drop me, not only because I'd done this distance before, but because I was motivated and inspired by all of you...all of us.

Sometimes, though, we need more. I find motivation and inspiration from my personal relationship with Jesus. I also know that there organizations out there that put together "training" materials that motivate and inspire. Recently, I was told that I might want to check out 212° the extra degree. The premise here is built on the idea that only a small amount of extra effort can have a big impact on results. "At 211 degrees, water is hot. At 212 degrees, it boils. And with boiling water, comes steam. And with steam, you can power a train. Just one extra degree can make all the difference."

There is a motivational introductory video on the site too. I checked it out and thought it was interesting...

I can't speak to the whole "training" of two-twelve, but I definitely believe and agree with the notion that the only secret to success is that there is no secret - hard work, commitment and perseverance is all that you need to achieve your goals.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Meeting New People

Moving to a new town, full of new faces and places to explore, is exciting. Moving away from your comfort zone, far from your training partners and favorite runs/rides, is sad.

To make it somewhat tolerable, okay, to make it fun and to find new folks to train with, I recently joined Meetup. If you haven't been on the site, you're in for a treat. There are meet ups for every imaginable interest. Crazy. To make sure I didn't get unsavory things sent my way, I set my "profile" to specifically find running, outdoor fitness, triathlon...and, well, just see this:

I am happy to say that the first Meetup I attended was awesome - thank goodness. Dedicated to Raleigh's "Fitness Buffs," the Live to Train...Train to Live group is full of athletes that are just looking for some no-nonsense motivation and camaraderie. The group is led and managed by Tim Kelly, a good Christian man and dedicated, highly-qualified trainer. Check him out at

I've already gone to two meetups, Tuesday and Wednesday. The Tuesday class was "ADVANCED Fitness Bootcamp" and the Wednesday class was "Running Class" (we did interval hill repeats). Needless to say, I am super sore today. Both meetups beat me into submission. I am excited, though, that I will be adding some true cross training to my NYC Marathon training. Yeah, I'm doing New York - awesome!

Anyone have Meetup stories - good or bad - to share? Anyone out there doing NYC?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Gone to Carolina...

Shooter Jennings sings, 
Every time I think I smell that sweet southern rain
It takes me to a station on the long black train
I wanna hear the wind blow and feel the earth move below me
Despite of all the good times, I gotta rest my soul
So I'm gone, yes, I'm gone
Gone to Carolina, where I know that I belong...
Alright, I think it is time. Time for me to get back at it, to check in and start chronicling my journey again. Not that I've been missed, but if anyone was curious as to where I've been, I have relocated to Raleigh, NC. Little did I know that Mr. Jennings would be so accurate.  I've not yet been here for two months and we've already felt the earth move below us thanks to the quake that was centered in VA and, well, the wind did blow thanks to Ms. Irene.

I am still running - training for the NYC Marathon. The training is going well, but the with the move and all, I am still trying to find a good group to keep me company on my longer weekend runs. I hope to get back to triathlon, too. I've been looking a few 2012 races that I may want to target.

Stay tuned here for more. I hope to be more active here and I look forward to resuming our conversations.  You excited?

Be well,


Friday, June 3, 2011

Key Bank Vermont City Marathon 2011

Last Sunday, the 29th of May, I finished my second open marathon - the Vermont City Marathon in Burlington, VT.  It was hot, humid and, by the time we reached mile 20, the signs posted at the aid stations read, Caution - High Risk. While the race officials were Ready for the Heat, that didn't keep it from affecting how I felt while running. Not to mention the pothole I found at mile 7 (see the image of my foot below from Monday afternoon). That bruising and swelling did go away pretty quickly and, according to my awesome podiatrist, Dr. Marc Lederman from West Hartford Podiatry, there are no broken bones. I think I lucked out there.

Excuses, excuses, I know. My gun time was 4:17:30. That is 7:07 slower than my first and I was in WAY better shape for this race. What changed? Everything! I wasn't doing this race for me...well, I was, but in a different way. I was running this one with Ted (even though he is a little behind me in the first pic - we really did run it together!). This was his first full marathon. He got to experience all of the challenges first hand. We were using this race just for the experience, so he can know what to expect when we take on the ING NYC Marathon this coming November. I think we will be in a great position to really enjoy it!

So, about the isn't my favorite course - by far. I think we crossed under the start line three different times, as the course is designed (as it was explained to me by a 3:45-finish pace leader) somewhat like a clover. It felt more like an X to me. Out and back one way, out and back another, etc. Also, while the 3:45-finish pace leaders were friendly and inclusive, I felt that they went out WAY too fast. There is a pretty significant hill at mile 15 that we were planning for by "putting time in the bank" early on, but by the time we got there, the group had thinned out significantly.

I haven't uploaded my splits from my Timex Global Trainer, but if my memory serves, we had at least three sub 8:15 min/mi with one definitely sub 8:00 min/mi. When you are shooting for an 8:35 min/mi overall pace, that is pretty quick early on - in my opinion. I am more of stick to pace in the beginning and then negative split the last few miles. I thrive on that model and, after this race, think I will no longer utilize pace leaders.

To wrap it up, I am glad that I did it. It was a good trip and I had another great race with Ted. Having a running and training partner is awesome. Enjoy! It is good to be back with you all.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Centering - Year of the Run

My multisport journey is not over...I am just taking a break.  Does that mean I'm done training completely?  Absolutely not.  In fact, my training is just going to shift somewhat.  I have decided that 2011 is the year of the run.  While I love triathlon, I really have to go at it alone.  Until I'm in a location with more triathletes that have similar goals and aspirations, I think I'll center my energies on running.  With a focus on running, I get to spend time with others (read Ted) and I love the camaraderie. 

Merriam-Webster defines camaraderie as a spirit of friendly good-fellowship, and that is exactly what I get when I'm out training with Ted.  When we head out on the rail trails and roads around Western Massachusetts, we enjoy some great conversations and spirited competition, pushing each other physically to limits we didn't know we could reach. 

For instance, I've done an open marathon, the ING Hartford Marathon, plenty of half-marathons and countless 10k and 5k races.  But never have I truly enjoyed them as much as I do when I'm running with a friend.  And while I reached a few PRs on my own, it has only been since I started training with Ted that I continued to meet success. 

The first big race of the year is less than five weeks away.  We signed up yesterday to run the Key Bank Vermont City Marathon in Burlington, VT.  And I am scared.  As I said, I've done an open marathon and it wasn't pretty.  I did well for 19 miles, on pace to a 3:30 marathon, and then I hit the wall.  I thought that "the wall" was a myth...and I was wrong.  When I hit that wall, it was miserable.  I went from a runner to an emotional basketcase sitting on a bench overlooking the river trying to decide if I was finally going to be a quitter.  I was _ _ that close to my first DNF.  Thankfully, I met some great folks who helped pull me through.  Would I have ever gotten to that point if I were running with Ted?  Probably not.  Which is why, although scared, I am really looking forward to taking on this challenge.

So, wish me...rather us...luck.  We are going to need it.  Stay tuned for more running updates.  I am also going to try to do a better job reviewing the shoes, equipment and nutrition that I use, too.  Also, if you have any advice, I'm all ears!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Business Embraces Cyclists

I love where I live.  The Hilltowns of Western Massachusetts provide some of the best cycling routes I've ever experienced.  They take you through and past farmland, challenge you with some heavy rollers and, best of all, let you ride in an area that, for the most part, welcomes and encourages cycling and cyclists. 

Last week, I read a great piece on the Active Travel section of, "Growing number of bike cafes gear up to serve cyclists."  It talked all about how bicycle cafes are cropping up to serve a niche audience - welcoming us “weird alien space creatures.” Yes, when we go from fueling stop to fueling stop, or meet up pre- or post-ride for a coffee, lunch, and/or beer, we look weird.  We wear spandex, yes.  Our shoes make weird noises when we walk around.  Some of us might even shave - only to be more aero, right?  Either way, we are doing what we love.  And then, we keep the money in community, so we eat/drink where we ride.  Welcome us with open arms!

This article made me extremely happy.  For one, I love the fact that someone wrote it.  Two, I love the fact that this is a real that is cropping up across the country in some pretty interesting places.  I mean, I expect this to happen in Portland, Boulder, San Fran, Boston, etc., but  You go Steel City, you get yours.

As for me and the folks that ride around the Pioneer Valley, we've got The Lady Killigrew.  This place wasn't made for cyclists and they don't have all of the other amenities that some of the Cycling Cafes have, but, they have a great staff, they welcome cyclists (read, they are nice to us and let us use the phone if we have a flat and then pinch flat our spare as we are heading out) and the food and drink is great. 

How about you?  Do you guys have a favorite?  Did you see the article?  Let me know!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tuesday Ramblings

Hello, February?  Where did you go?  After coming back from a fun ING Miami Half Marathon vacation, I have been incredibly absent from my blog.  Maybe it was the ever-growing snowpack on my front lawn or the fact that I changed gyms…heck, it could even be that I just feel somewhat unmotivated.  Most likely, though, it is a combination of all of those along with the typical stress that comes with commuting two hours round trip everyday and having not yet signed up for an A race.

Regardless, I’ve been lurking.  I’ve been reading your posts, catching up on what is going in your world.  I was reminded about my own successes and remaining body issues by reading about where Patrick, over at the The Road, has come from and where he's headed.  Caratunk Girl shared her excitement about IMLP by posting the IMLP 2010 swim start video - you can find me in there somewhere - yeah, I did that.  Other Jeff at Dangle the Carrot - well, let me just say that, while my day will come, I definitely do not want to crash like that.  Also, maybe shaving isn't such a bad idea after all.  And Kovas, found at Midwest Multisport Life, provided some stellar endurance gear reviews and provided an interesting three-part guest post series with Barefoot Charlie.  This came right as I was finishing Born to Run (a fantastic book and a great read)!

There are countless others of you out there that kept me informed, up-to-date and entertained.  Thank you for helping me get through a tough five weeks.  The stress of life is not going to get any easier - especially for the next few weeks/months.  I hope to be able to report back more here the interim, know that I will continue my running and swimming and tonight, tonight baby, I promise to be back on the bike.  The pain cave beckons and I must (Must.) heed its call. 

Train hard, race happy.