Monthly Archives: November 2014

Training Log – Week of Nov. 24 (Week 46)

And just like that, Thanksgiving is over. It was great to spend some QT at home relaxing, recharging, and seeing my family. The city wears you down after a while, and I always leave home ready to take it on again. Yesterday, we got our Christmas tree and went to our annual extended family Christmas party.

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So much room for winter activities!

In other news, my 2015 race calendar is starting to take form.

2015-usat-age-group-nationals-qualified

Third time’s the charm—Milwaukee, I’m coming for you! Honestly, I didn’t expect this email and figured I’d have to qualify at South Beach in April, so this news alleviates a ton of early-season pressure.

General training notes: Even though I didn’t “race” the Philadelphia Half last weekend, this week took the form of a step-back period. All my workouts aside from Sunday’s steady run centered on recovery. Case in point: I swam twice and biked zero times. Ha!

Monday – a.m. run and p.m. swim

I actually felt pretty decent upon waking sure. Sure, a little soreness in my quads, but nothing worse than what usually sets in after a normal long run. Even so, I stuck to the plan and ran two easy miles. After work, I went to the pool and pulled for 1,000 yards. (Full disclosure: I tried to swim, but my legs said no way.)

Tuesday – off

Wednesday – a.m. swim

Back home, I headed to a local pool and planned to log a true workout that included tech work. And for the first time in about three months, I revisited my favorite (finger-tip drag) and not-so-favorite (catch-up) drills and swam a total of 2,100 yards. On the bright side, my 5x100s were all where they should be (1:21-1:23), but I felt gassed after each one. Meh, I’ll take it.

Thursday – F-M Turkey Trot (8-K, technically 4.66 miles)

Coach Pat gave me the go-ahead to run this local yokel turkey trot as long as I treated it as an easy run. But it’s highly possible I went out too fast and logged a couple of “steady” miles before easing off the gas. Sorry, Coach. I also kinda felt like a jerk because people around me were coughing and dry-heaving while I chilled out. Hey, getting out there and running is awesome, but if you’re on the verge of throwing up at a turkey trot, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Friday – a.m. run

You know you’re in Upstate New York when you spot more snowplows (four) on your run than runners (zero). No complaints, though—just an easy 9.25 miles around the lake. Things got a little dicey at some points with the snow and ice combo, but on the bright side, that ensured I kept an easy pace. Just trying to be a good athlete, Coach Pat!

Saturday – off

Sunday – a.m. run and strength training

Since this was supposed to be quality run, I hit the ‘mill for 40 minutes. It wasn’t good, but it wasn’t bad. Let’s blame it on the … stuffing. I ate all my grandma’s stuffing. No regrets.

How was your Thanksgiving? Did you run a turkey trot?

2014 Philadelphia Half-Marathon Recap

Any day you can run 13.1 miles is a good day. Any day you can do it faster than ever before is a great day. And any day where your friends and family are there is an awesome day. This past Sunday proved to be one awesome day.

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And when your coach gives you a shout out on Instagram … #nothingbutgood

Let’s backtrack a bit further first.

During my triathlon season, a pattern emerged during races: I’d rock the swim and bike and would simply hang on for the run. Bottom line, the off-season needed to address this weakness, but I had no idea where to start. (More detailed off-season running post to come!) So I enlisted Coach Pat to help me become a better runner—and hopefully, this translates to being a threat off the bike.

And here we are.

Even though it’s easy for me to dedicate myself to training, I become more invested when there’s a race on the schedule. As my weekly mileage increased, Coach Pat and I talked about doing the Philadelphia Half-Marathon as a long training run. Er, technically, I approached him, and he gave me the green light—and kept me on a tight leash. He broke the race into three sections (miles 1-7, 7-10, and 10-13.1) with specific paces. We hoped to negative split it and targeted a sub-1:50 finish. Basically, as a short-course triathlete, I would not be racing the Philly Half. It would not be a goal race, but it would be a training check-in point and opportunity to practice pace execution.

In the days leading up to the race, I felt zero pressure—which was a nice change from triathlons—but I was a tiny bit anxious: what would happen after mile 11? Even though I logged two, 11-mile runs, I didn’t know what my body would do past that point. But I did know this was hands down the best I’ve ever been running and the most prepared I’ve felt for a running race. What would happen between miles 11 and 13.1 would be what it would be; I trusted my training. And going sub-1:50 would be icing on the training cycle cake.

And unlike tris, I don’t have a detailed race breakdown. Sure, I could talk about the perfect, 37-degree weather, the PR-friendly course with only two hills at miles 7 and 10, and the delicious post-race soft pretzel and chicken broth, but I’m feeling a bullet-point format. So let’s run (get it?) with it.

My brain remained “off” during most of the race, but I did find myself repeating three phrases: “Slow the eff down, Red!” because the crowd made it way too easy to go too fast; “discipline” because I needed to stick to the plan; and “wow, that guy is cute!” because 98 percent of the male spectators were gorgeous. Walls of Dudes lined the streets, which was entirely welcomed because they were not riding two- or three-abreast like their usual triathlon congregation. And this phrase was usually followed by “slow the heck down!” because I’d get excited and run faster—and I didn’t want to tell Coach Pat I blew the race because cute guys made me run too fast at mile 6.  But really, Philly is doing something right. (And seriously, Philly gentlemen, come to NYC anytime!)

The fans were awesome. As if you didn’t know that from what I wrote above. The energy, the cheers, the LOL-inducing posters, even the drunk college bros, it all contributed to an unforgettable race experience. I will definitely do the Philly Half again–as in next year.

I smiled for 12.5 miles and felt invincible for 12.5 miles—no cramping, no GI issues, no negative thoughts. I’m finally getting more race experience and maturing as an endurance athlete, and it’s paying off. It’s rare when everything feels effortless, and I felt like that for the majority of the race.

2014-philadelphia-half-splits

Race plan: stay at 8:30s for miles 1-7, check; work to 8:20s for miles 7-10, check; see what’s left in the tank and unload for miles 10-13.1, check. It blew my mind to see 7:40-7:55 post-mile 10, but that means the engine is there.

Bottom line, I accomplished what I set out to do in Philly. I followed the plan, felt amazing, and secured the sub-1:50 finish. Sure, I rode the pain train for the last 0.6 miles, but I felt great overall and crossed the finish line feeling satisfied (and “amped and wired” according to my parents because I said something about running back to the hotel). Turns out I like running long. And you know what would make it even more fun? Going faster, yes—and biking beforehand. Maybe 56 miles or so. And I guess I could swim a bit too.

Woah, slow down, Red. Let’s leave the 70.3 distance out of the equation for a few more years.

Training Log – Week of Nov. 17 (Week 45)

Spoiler alert: This was one of the best weekends ever.

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Friends, family, running … what more could you want? A PR perhaps? Got that too.

General training notes:  Woohoo for “race” week! Even though Philly isn’t a goal race, my workouts did change a bit in preparation—no true speedwork, no normal Thursday long run, and no Friday bike ride—so my legs would feel fresh on Sunday.

Monday – a.m. run

Four-and-a-half unofficial miles with BoMF, plus four miles easy

Tuesday – a.m. run

On the bright side, I got this bad run out of my system. After a 10-minute warm-up, Coach Pat had me log five miles with some pick-ups, but the West Side Highway wind was unrelenting. Everything progressed as planned through mile four, but then the wind chill became too much. Still got in seven miles, but didn’t feel great doing it.

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

I loved this class! On the bike, I struggle with maintaining an even power output, which means big wattage swings. Long story short, power spikes are not good, and this workout focused on dialing into specific efforts: slightly over threshold, then slightly under threshold. During this “over/under” session, I focused on making cadence changes (rather than shifting), and my numbers were pretty steady. Progress!

Thursday – a.m. swim

Yes, I’m finally swimming regularly again (and by regularly, once a week), but the last time I went to the pool during the morning? Aug. 25. Wowza. Nothing too exciting: my usual 500 warm-up, 5×100 solid, and 500 cool-down. I’m still about three seconds off my in-season 100 times, but I’ll deal with the damage.

Friday – a.m. run

Easy four miles. The hay is in the barn!

Saturday – off

Sunday – Philadelphia Half-Marathon

Any day you can go out and run 13.1 miles is a good day—and when your family and friends are there too … I’m one lucky girl. Race recap to come later this week, but I executed the pace plan and PR’ed (1:49:26), so mission accomplished. Hope I made you proud, Coach Pat!

So what’s next? A local yokel Thanksgiving Turkey Trot! What are you doing for Thanksgiving?

It’s November?

Whew—marathon madness has finally ended, so I can finally come up for a breath. Throughout October and the first week of November, JackRabbit was firing on all cylinders: various events and group training runs, plus a pre-New York City Marathon party and race-day cheer zone. So many 26.2 activities!

full-throttle-whoa

Full Throttle Endurance says, “WHOA!”

Marathon week—plus Monday actually (because Meb Keflezighi had a book signing at our Upper West Side store)—centered on stress, semi-organized chaos, and tons of excitement. We live for this time of year and all it encompasses; for me, that meant making sure our Saucony pre-party and Brooklyn cheer zone were successful events.

nycm-saucony-pre-party-whoa-face

Behind the scenes–and mission accomplished!

And now, I’m embracing the work “off-season.” Thank GAWD. Here’s what’s going on:

Last week, my fam and I went to Florida to celebrate my dad’s birthday. My grandfather lives there, and my uncle flew in too, and it was great to spend some quality time with everyone. And it wouldn’t be a trip to Sanibel without plenty of beach time (where running, reading, and sunburning occurred).

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This weekend, I have my first “race” since Nationals in August: The Philadelphia Half-Marathon. Some of my teammates and (work) friends will be there, plus a few BoMFers and my family. I’m really excited! Not only is it an escape from the city, but it’s also an opportunity to test my training and gauge my progress. Coach Pat and I have talked race strategy, he things I can string together a solid 13.1 miles, race the thing, and shoot for a big PR. A few months ago, I planned to simply go out and run and see what happened; now, though, I feel confident pushing it. Speedwork is coming along, and my long runs have gone pretty well, and this is hands down the most prepared I’ve felt for a “straight up” road race. Fingers crossed I feel good on race day and can hop aboard the pain train for a while!

And then, it’s Thanksgiving, which means even more family time!

In other training news, I ended my 72-day swimming boycott and went to the pool. Honestly, I planned to wait until December, but several knowledgeable individuals—including but not limited to Coach Pat and my tri coach—said getting back in the water sooner may be a good idea. Specifically, “not swimming is totally going to bite you in the a** come January!” according to my tri coach. The race isn’t won during the swim, but one of my friends/Girls’ Club colleagues questioned: “How fast can you run if you’re last out of the water?”

i-hope-you-swam-this-week

Talk about tough love—and a serious wake-up call.

So two weeks ago—about 12 hours after my endorphin-inducing 11 miler—I walked to the pool after work. On the way over, I visualized myself swimming, flip turning, and doing all the little things right, but I couldn’t shake the insecurity: what if I don’t remember anything? What do my arms do again? How does one execute a flip-turn?

As it turns out, swimming is a lot like riding a bike; you never forget how to do it. When my feet touched the water, I went on autopilot: adjusted my cap, put on my goggles, and just went. Sure, I felt semi-winded 200 yards in, but those 1,500 yards felt OK. And they felt slightly better—and faster—a week later.

To be honest, I’m not sure what will happen after Philly—in terms of training and life. It feels like I’m on the brink, like a breakthrough is right around the corner, but I don’t know what is it or what it will entail. But I just hope I’m ready.

Training Log – Week of Nov. 10 (Week 44)

“We can always be chasing the sun! So fill up your lungs and just run.

sanibel-2014-chasing-the-sun

“But always be chasing the sun!”

General training notes: A solid week of training, plus a short getaway to Sanibel, FL? Done and done! This was my final week to complete tough workouts before the Philadelphia Half-Marathon this Sunday (eeeek!), so Coach Pat and I rearranged my schedule a bit; as you’ll see below, my speedwork and long run occurred before flying South on Wednesday. Now, the hay is in the barn, and I’ll be doing my best to take it easy this week so my legs feel fresh.

Monday – a.m. run

Whew, Mondays are rough anyway, so why not add some speedwork? Coach Pat had me do 500s, a new-to-me interval. They felt a lot like 400s, but longer (obviously), and it took long for the “my butt’s going to fall off” feeling to kick in. As I plugged away, it occurred to me the paces I was hitting was essentially how fast three-time Ironman World Champion Mirinda Carfrae ran her record-breaking marathon in Kona this year. So painful, so humbling.

Tuesday – a.m. run

All right. I take full responsibility for this OK 11 miler; after last week’s long run, I anticipated another confidence-boosting outing, but that was not the case. Isn’t it funny how staying out late, not getting enough sleep, and not wearing the proper layers can affect a run? Granted, my average pace was still where it should’ve been, but it just didn’t feel good.

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

Abbreviated sufferfest at Tailwind because I had a flight to catch.

Thursday – a.m. run

Four easy miles on the beach

sanibel-run-selfie

Doesn’t count unless there’s a selfie, right?

Friday – a.m. run

Another four easy miles on the beach

Saturday – off

Sunday – a.m. run

Last 45-minute steady run before Philly—and I nailed it!

And with that, it’s taper time!

Training Log – Week of Nov. 3 (Week 43)

Woah, it’s really November.

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Hello, Empire State Building!

Sure, last weekend’s marathon mayhem marked the start of the month, but still … it’s actually November. Which means Thanksgiving is right around the corner. And the holidays too. There was Christmas music playing in Papyrus today. Wayyy too soon.

General training notes: Good, but tough training week. Coach Pat’s speed workouts continue to kick my butt. (Well, technically, they make my butt feel like it’s going to fall off.) But—ha, ha!—they are working. I’m feeling better and going a bit faster during my long runs, and the distance I cover during steady runs has slowly increased.  AND, I SWAM this week.

Monday – a.m. run and strength train

Four easy miles, plus upper-body strength training and corework

Tuesday – a.m. run

#FireOnTheTrack? More like death on the track. Coach Pat prescribed 8x800s: The first three were on pace, but I slowed down big time on numbers four and five. I was able to get back on track for six and seven, and my legs were totally dunzo by the eighth.

Wednesday – a.m. indoor bike trainer and strength training

Tailwind Endurance hosted a swim camp in St. Croix this past week (yes, seriously), so I didn’t hit the CompuTrainer. Instead, I watched 2012 Kona coverage, hammered away on my indoor trainer for an hour, and then did some push-ups and corework.

Thursday – a.m. run and p.m. swim

Hands down, this was the biggest endorphin high I’ve experienced in a while. Even in the rain, my 11 miler went really well, and … guess who returned to the pool for the first time in months? This girl! I can still breathe, swim, and flip turn, but not very fast—or for very long (just did an easy 1,500 yards). Totally my own fault, and I accept full responsibly for the 5-6 seconds I’ve lost per 100 yards. Back to #wannabeswimmer status.

Friday – a.m. indoor bike trainer

Sixty-minute spin-out with some pick-ups

Saturday – off

Sunday – a.m. run and strength training

Forty-five minutes steady, plus upper-body strength training and corework

Another week, another month—here we go!

Training Log – Week of Oct. 27 (Week 42)

I’ll be honest. I had every intention of publishing this log last night, but after throwing a pre-marathon party at work on Saturday and manning our cheer zone on Sunday, I was spent. Not only did I take an hour-long nap yesterday, but I also slept nine hours last night.

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Marathon-related activities take a lot out of you. And I didn’t even run the thing like 50,000-plus other people.

General training notes: Between marathon madness and general life happenings, this week was both extremely long and emotionally taxing. For whatever reason, when things pick up “in real life,” I find it’s easier to throw myself into training and log some solid workouts. Coach Pat reintroduced speedwork this week, and I had a phenomenal long run, plus two quality bike sessions.

Monday – a.m. run and strength train

One mile at BoMF, plus four miles easy. Closed out the morning with some pushups and corework.

Tuesday – a.m. run and corework

Dun-dun-duuuun! To say I was a little anxious about returning to the track would be an understatement. Up until now, I’ve been building my base and running easy miles, and true speedwork hasn’t happened since July. Basically, I wasn’t sure how it would pan out—but it was surprisingly OK. Coach Pat’s workout called for 800s and 400s, and it was relatively manageable. Sure, my legs were trashed by the third and fourth 400, but that’s how you get faster. And I was also able to hit and hold paces slightly faster than what I could do at the tail-end of the triathlon season, which is promising.

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

Hands down, this is the best I’ve felt on the bike in a while. And I executed this workout really well. After warm-up and a few build efforts, we faced a two-block ride: five minutes of threshold and sprint efforts, followed by a five-minute threshold block. I felt smooth and strong throughout, and for once, I didn’t have 50-plus wattage swings during efforts.

Thursday – a.m. run

Believe it or not, this run topped last week’s 10 miler. Everything clicked, felt good, and I could not get over how quickly the first five miles went by. Great energy in Central Park too with the upcoming marathon. At mile nine, my legs seemed to unwind on there own, and my stride opened up and my cadence increased—but it felt effortless. My average pace was on the faster ride of the range, and my closing mile was 7:15 (which is fast for me). And I felt like I could and wanted to keep going. Is this another running breakthrough?

Friday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

To get into the marathon spirit, we rode the pre-loaded New York City Marathon course. Nothing too interesting to report: averaged 19 mph and 185 watts during the 26.59 miles. Should’ve been faster and should’ve pushed more watts, but I’ll take it coming off a long run.

Saturday – off

Sunday – a.m. run

Woof. Serious props to the marathoners. The wind blew me around on the West Side Highway, and I lasted 25 minutes outside before I retreated to the treadmill for 20 more.  The fact that 50,000-plus people ran 26.2 miles in those winds is a testament to their toughness. Although I have to say, watching the marathon this year kinda sorta made me want to do it. Not for a long time, of course, but running 26.2 miles doesn’t seem as unfathomable as it did a year ago.

Would you (or have you) run a marathon?