Post Race Surprises

I’m still riding the high of Sunday’s race… it makes all that hard work worth it!

I’ve been surprised with the way my body and mind responded post race.  Every race is different, and every recovery period is different, although prioritizing recovery is always key!  These are some of the surprises for me so far in the 3 days post race:

1. I can’t sleep

This is never a problem for me.  I love to sleep! I am typically out like a rock from 10 pm- 6:15 am but my body stayed on an adrenaline high for two days.  Despite the early wake up Sunday, I could not fall asleep until almost midnight and was up at 5 am… what?! I cannot tell you the last time I got out of bed at 5 am other than to catch an early flight or get to a race, ha! Mornings are not my thing.  But I was wide awake, so I rolled with it and came downstairs and got a jump start on my work day for two hours before anyone else stirred.  That was pretty amazing… if only my body was up for it more often!

I realized my body doesn’t know the difference between a bear chasing it for 13 miles or me choosing to race, and may have been worried that there was still danger nearby, ha! I slept like a rock last night, finally.

2. I’m itching to get back to training

This is also not typical for me.  Usually post race, I soak up that week of nothing.  But I’m excited to hit the track and continue to prepare for my upcoming 5k, 10k, half and then summer 5ks.  I’m keeping it easy, of course, because I’ve learned the hard way from jumping back in too soon.  My quads were sore for a day or two (probably from picking up the pace downhill) and so far I kept it easy with a walk on Monday and 3 slow miles yesterday.

But I’m encouraged that mentally I’m still motivated… this is a good sign that I’m not over trained or burnt out from the training plan.  And I have my next training journal waiting for me.

3. I still have no desire to add a spring full marathon

I thought having a strong race would tempt me to add on a few 18 and 20 milers and tack on a May/June marathon but I’m not ready for that.  I’m getting excited about building for a fall marathon again, but I’m very happy with my decision to stick with the shorter distances this spring.

What’s next?

I have a 5k in ten days, and a 10k the week after that, and the NJ half two weeks later. So there isn’t time to train specifically for the 5k or 10k, but I’ll use them as good workouts as I prepare for another half, and then I’m looking forward to more 5ks this summer.  I may even try my first one miler, which scares me more than probably any other distance! But why not push myself in new ways?

How do you typically feel physically and mentally post race?

Do you enjoy the rest or do you find yourself impatient to resume training?

I am linking up with SuzRachel, Lora, and Debbie for Running Coaches CornerPatty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, Nicole, Annmarie, Michelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday.

New Half Marathon PR- Finally!

Those of you who have followed me for awhile know that I’ve been stuck at the 1:35 half for a few years now! It was my best time before baby J came along, and although my fitness was there to break it last year, the two half marathons I did fell apart (one from heat, and one from starting too fast and crashing!)

So breaking through that 1:35 barrier was extra sweet this weekend! Here’s the story:

I shared an Uber into NYC with my neighbor and got in a little later than I had planned- just as my bag check was closing.  I quickly threw my extra sweatshirt in the bag and my bus ticket home and totally forgot to pull out my Garmin! I realized it and went back but it was too late.

So I would be running the race naked, a first for me, but I was up for the challenge.  I found my wave and got in but realized I was with the 1:45 pacer.  I couldn’t even see the 1:40 pacer, let alone the 1:35 group! I tried to weave ahead as much as I could before we started, although I hate doing that.  I think I was in this corral because they have my time from the NYC marathon (3:43) which I ran for fun, and listed me as an 8:00/mile half average.  There was not much I could do at this point.

When the race started, those first 2-3 miles flew by as I tried to pass slower runners and find the groups running my pace.  I did a lot of weaving and in retrospect, probably too many surges trying to squeeze past people, but it kept me distracted.

Before I knew it, we were on the loop through Harlem before climbing up the Harlem hill. The extra little loop was super crowded, so again I felt stuck behind people and tried to keep my pace, but was doing a lot of surging and slowing, surging and slowing.

We came out of the loop and headed up Harlem hill, which is the toughest hill in the course.  I was feeling it at the top but overall, I have to say the hills were not as bad as I expected.  I was really happy to head down the other side of that one knowing that there were only a few more rolling hills to go.  My 5k split was 22:07.

From the mile one clock at 14ish to the mile two clock at 21ish, I knew I was running somewhere in the low 7s and that it had been an extra 6-7 minutes before my chip time began.  That was helpful as I continued on to have a general idea of how I was doing by the clocks.

After a few more small rolling hills through miles four and five, we soon began heading out of Central park.  The 10k split was 44:16, so approximately 7:08 pace again, although I’d love to know how what distance my watch would have had with all the weaving in that first half!

I struggled a bit to find my rhythm as we headed down through Manhattan.  It was flat and the perfect opportunity to pick up the pace but I hit some self doubt. Was I already going too fast or could I pick up the pace and hold it for another 6 miles? 15k: 1:06:40

Right after the 15k split, I decided I was feeling good.  I started to pick it up and knew I could handle 4 more miles.  I wish I had my splits because I know the last 4 were my fastest miles of the day! I felt really strong.

In the final two miles, I picket it up a little more.  I focused on a visualization trick I remember reading… choose someone ahead of you and pretend to throw a giant rubberband around them and pretend that rubberband is pulling you in to catch them. I probably did this 6 or 7 times in a row, passing people in that final stretch.  It was a great distraction and helped me keep pushing!

I still had no idea what my time would be as we came through the final tunnel and down the last 400m.  I was hoping for sub- 1:35 but that’s what I thought at my last half, too! As I got close and saw 1:40, I knew I would pr (with the extra 6-7 minute start time!)

Final: 1:33:31, a two minute pr!

I am so happy with this race!! I was doubting that it would be a pr race during some sections in Central Park, and again as we started down through Manhattan.  But everything came together!

I’m excited to continue to chip away at the half… I know I have more to give, especially if I can avoid all the weaving I did in the beginning.  Looking forward to what else 2017 has in store!

Congrats to everyone who raced this weekend!! There were so many new prs and great races!

 

Taper week!

It’s race day!

We got some snow and rain last night but it’s supposed to be clear this morning.  The only downside is the 14 mph winds… I’m hoping with so many bodies, we won’t notice it too much?!

The taper recap:

Sunday: 5 easy miles

Monday:  Barre + a short walk

Tuesday: 6.5 miles with 2 at goal race pace (6:59)

Wednesday: 4.75 easy (9:10 ave)

Thursday: 3 mile walk + running the school Scholastic Book Fair

Friday: 4 easy miles (8:45 ave) +8 – 4:30 running the book fair- my legs were so tired Friday night!!

Saturday:  off + more book fair

I am now the Book fair chair for our school and while it’s my favorite PTA event by far, it’s a lot to combine it with race week! I’m hoping my legs will feel fresh this morning.

I’m a little nervous about the roads being icy and the wind knocking me back … but no matter what happens with the crazy wind and cold, I’m determined to have fun and try my best!

What are the worst race conditions you’ve run in?

Are you watching the NYC Half broadcast this morning?

I’m linking up with Fitness and Food with Ilka and Angela, and Tricia and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap!

 

How does the taper affect you?

It’s Wednesday.  Four days before the race, with the aftermath of the Stella stow storm still out the window.  And the taper crazies are just starting to settle in.

I find that some people look forward to the taper and backing off the workouts while others get antsy and go a little crazy.

I typically fall in the first category- especially when training for a marathon.  I welcome those last two to three weeks of less running and intensity.

This time I’m feeling a little antsy.

But regardless, there are a few taper signs I almost always experience:

1. One really rough run during my taper

I haven’t had this run yet, but I’m anticipating it will either be today or Friday.  I always seem to have a run where hitting a normal easy pace feels way too hard and I feel like I’ve lost all fitness!  When our body notices the cut back, it works hard at repair and recovery which can make some runs feel more like a slog through mud.

2. Questioning if I did enough

That mental component is tough! I want to determine a conservative starting pace and an accurate finishing goal time but it’s hard to say what exactly I’m trained for. I’m wondering if I should have had more race pace tempos and mile repeats to teach my body the pace. But the work is done- worrying does nothing, so it’s time to turn that negative energy into excitement!

3. Phantom niggles 

Again, with the lower mileage, our bodies sometimes begin working to repair muscles or tendons that were on the verge of injury and it’s common to feel some of those aches during the taper.  Typically these are “phantom aches and pains” meaning that they don’t signal an injury.  Overall, I’ve felt good so far this week with just a little something in my shin after Sunday’s run.

 

For how to taper, check out this post I wrote before my first BQ at the Houston marathon a few years ago!

What do you experience when you taper? Love it or hate it?

What surprised you about the taper experience?

I am linking up with SuzRachel, Lora, and Debbie for Running Coaches CornerPatty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, Nicole, Annmarie, Michelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday.

Half Training Recap (1 week to go) + Meal planning

I’m stalking the forecast and reviewing my training log and trying to visualize the race course and finally figuring out traveling logistics… all of the things that can only mean it’s race week!

I had another solid, confidence boosting week of training.  It’s true that everything clicks in those final 4-6 weeks as you finally see the training gains paying off and get in those sharpening workouts before race day.

The recap:

Monday:  8.5 miles mostly easy (8:25 ave) with 6 x 200m @ 5:43 pace + Barre

Tuesday: 4 miles easy (9:15 ave)

Wednesday: 9.2 with 5 x 1 mile with 60 second recoveries (2 mile warm up, repeats were 6:40, 6:20, 6:39, 6:34, 6:42 and 2 mile cool down)

These splits were faster than I expected as the goal paces were 6:45-6:50, but I didn’t look at my watch until I finished each split.  The 6:20 was way too fast so I slowed it down after that.  Overall I feel strong and ready for this race!

Thursday: skipped Boot camp but did 30 minute strength at home + 3 mile walk

Friday: off – supposed to be an easy run, but we were all feeling a bit run down and I spent the day in my pj’s fighting off something but thankfully I never officially got sick.  I’d rather feel off now than next week!

Saturday:  9 miles on the treadmill (7:58 ave)- so cold out there! I felt better when I woke up but still not 100%.  The rest of the day was low key and I got a short nap in.

For this week, I have one workout with a few race pace intervals and then easy peasy until race day.

I agreed to host another Scholastic book fair at our school which unfortunately turns out to be this week, so I’ll be on my feet Thursday, Friday and Saturday but am trying not to worry about that.  There’s always something out of our control!

Meal planning:

Sunday: Homemade Sushi

Monday: Turkey Cabbage Stew

Tuesday:  Tofu and veggie stir fry

Wednesday: Soba noodles with roasted red pepper peanut sauce

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Avocado Tomato Gouda Socca Pizza

Saturday: Pre-race pasta and chicken

Finally, for those of you who have always wanted to run the NYC marathon or who missed the lottery another shot at getting a bib.

PowerBar believes everyone deserves a Clean Start, so to help launch the new Clean Whey product line, they are offering 17 deserving athletes the chance to approach the starting line at the 2017 TCS NYC Marathon. 26.2 miles. 17 Clean Starts.

From March 1, 2017 through April 12, 2017, you can visit PowerBarCleanStart.com and share why you deserve a Clean Start at the 2017 TCS NYC Marathon. Winners will receive a race bib (entry to the race), along with training tips from PowerBar athletes, PowerBar product and gear leading up to the race.

What are you planning to make this week?

Have you tried using visualization for a goal race?

I’m linking up with Fitness and Food with Ilka and Angela, and Tricia and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap!

Anyone else want to join me at the Newport 10k?

I’m excited to have announce that I’m teaming up with the Newport 10k as an official blog partner!

I had to look back at my records to find the last 10k I ran and I realized it’s been years! Both the 5k and 10k intimidate me a bit with the faster paces that you have to hold onto.  I make myself do some 5ks because, well, they’re over faster.

But the 10k is an awesome distance and I had promised myself I’d do a few in 2017.  So I was excited when Newport reached out about running their race on Saturday, May 6th.

It’s flat and fast, and if you’re anywhere near NYC, it’s a must! It runs along the Hudson River Waterfront Parkway with some amazing views of the NYC skyline.

I loved running the half here in the fall and am excited to head back for a shorter race.  As it gets closer, I’ll share some 10k specific training tips and my own race experience afterwards, of course.

Join me?

When’s the last time you’ve run a 10k? Do you have one on your 2017 calendar?

Is anyone else signed up for the Newport 10k or considering it? I’d love to meet up before or after!

Race Strategy for the NYC Half Marathon

The NYC half is now just 11 days away.  Over the weekend, I ran 6 miles of the half marathon course through Central Park and was reminded that this is not the easiest course.  So I’m doubting myself a little bit but hoping to run strong regardless.

For Tuesdays on the run, the topic is how we put together a race strategy, so let’s talk about that today.

1. Study the course map

I always begin by knowing the course well.  If I can run it (like I did this weekend) that’s ideal, but if not, races almost always have a map and description of the race course.  Many half and full marathons also include an elevation profile so you can get a sense of where the hills are and plan accordingly.

For the NYC half, the first half has the majority of the hills as it looks the outer part of Central park.  The second half is much flatter.  With this in mind, I know I need to start conservatively and not worry when I see some slower mile splits up those tough hills.

Ideally, the plan is to keep something in the tank and negative split the second half.

2. Assess your training

One of the best ways to assess your fitness is with a shorter tune up race before race day.  For the half, a 10k is an ideal distance to get a sense of your abilities.  However, there are many other ways to track your progress as I discussed in this article.

I like to compare current training cycles to previous training cycles and look at similar workouts like tempo runs, 2 x 2 mile workouts, or overall weekly mileage.  I also tally up how many miles I ran at near goal race pace or faster than goal race pace for a confidence booster.

My current training cycle has been just slightly stronger than my fall cycle, which gives me a good indicator that a half marathon pr is possible.

3. Consider the weather

Unfortunately, even with a perfect training cycle and pr-friendly course, anything can happen on race day.  The weather can slow us down if it’s too hot or too cold, so that’s also something to consider.  Runner’s Connect has a temperature calculator to give you a sense of how much a given temperature might impact your effort.

4.  Stick to the plan!

Once you have a good idea of what your body should be capable of, you want to start there or just slightly slower and ease into the pace.  Starting too fast will burn through too much fuel and lactate acid and force you to slow down at the end.  Starting too slowly could mean you miss minutes that you can’t make up later.  But starting conservatively yet with focus ensures your splits will be as even as possible and gives you a good shot at a negative split.

Based on my training, I know that a 7:02-7:10 pace is doable.  With the hills, I’m hoping to average closer to 7:10 for the first half and then finish with an average closer to 7:00 for the second half.  But of course, anything can happen!

I have one more tough workout tomorrow, and then it’s time to taper for the next week!

How do you plan out your racing strategy?

Have you had a race experience that was altered by the weather?

I am linking up with SuzRachel, Lora, and Debbie for Running Coaches CornerPatty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, Nicole, Annmarie, Michelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday.

 

Two weeks to half (training recap) + meal planning

Happy Sunday! It’s crazy how drastically the weather can change in a week.  Last weekend, I tossed off layers until I was down to a tank.  Yesterday, I had on 2 long sleeved shirts and a jacket, running socks and compression socks, tights and my wigwam, hat and gloves.  With the wind, the feel like temp was in the teens. So cold!

I’m crossing my fingers that race day is a mild 40 degrees.  And toes.

The recap:

Sunday:  5 recovery with the MRTT ladies (probably 10 ave)

Monday:  am Barre; pm 10 mile tempo in 1:15 (8:38, 7:29, 7:16, 7:13, 7:11, 7:16, 7:15, 7:08, 7:04, 9:15 cool down) – this was the confidence boosting run I said I needed last week! I was planning to do my tempo on Wednesday, but my legs were ready to go so I went with it and did my 8 at near half marathon pace.  I felt amazing! Those runs don’t come very often.  I hope it’s a good sign for race day!

Tuesday: 30 minute easy walk + 30 minute easy spin

Wednesday: 7.5 easy am (8:45 ave) + 3 easy pm (9:00 ave)

Thursday: Boot camp – I am loving this class!

Friday: 15 long run with 3 at tempo (7:13, 6:59, 6:45) and 2 at tempo (7:11, 6:53) … I ran a hilly 3.5 miles to start and did the tempo portion on a flat stretch, then finished with more hills.  I was spent at the end of this, but surprised with my tempo paces and feeling strong.

Saturday:  8 slow and easy with a running client in Central Park (12ish pace)…. She has run the NYC half a few times and showed me the first half of the course.  It’s a bit hillier than I expected… eek! But the second half is mostly flat.  I’m glad I got to see (and run) the hills so I can better mentally prepare myself.

For today, I’m hoping to get in a short strength workout and maybe a few easy miles later.

Meal planning:

Sunday: Roast chicken and veggies with brown rice

Monday: Leftover chicken in Broccoli Curry Rice Noodle Soup

Tuesday:  Tempeh and veggie stir fry

Wednesday: Veggie Frittata with hub’s sourdough bread

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Grilled Tuna Tostadas with Black Bean Mango Salsa <– how amazing do these sound?

Saturday: Out!

I’m loving the runner’s reset … I feel back in control of prepping foods, choosing good balanced meals and fueling my workouts well, which is sometimes hard in peak training.  One week down, two to go!

Have you run (or raced) in Central Park?

When’s the last time you had a surprisingly good run?

I’m linking up with Fitness and Food with Ilka and Angela, and Tricia and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap!

Running for fitness vs Running to race

Every time I take a little step back from running (as I did mid February) it forces me to recognize (again) that running is a central piece of my life, for better or worse.

And suddenly I feel like a ‘normal’ person… waking up and starting my day without a run, having more time to sleep in, maybe squeezing in a spin class or 30 minute strength session – but with zero stress about if/how/when my run will happen.  It’s kind of nice!

And I’m reminded, again, that to run for the sake of fitness and good health, 30 minutes is really all you need.  However, I love running with the end goal of new race records- not overall health.  Is that okay? Is that something I should be doing year after year?

I recognize that “runners” can be a little bit crazy in pursuit of our goals.

Here’s an overview of the difference between running for fitness vs racing:

Running for fitness:

  • 30 minutes 3 days per week is sufficient for heart health, bone health and cardiovascular improvement
  • Injury is rare as the body is not overtaxed and as plenty of time for proper recovery
  • Moderate exercise balances hormones
  • Metabolism is balanced
  • Healthy weight is easier to maintain
  • Hunger is regulated
  • Sleep is improved
  • Immunity is improved

Running to race or really push the limits:

  • Often requires at least an hour per day, with one or two days off or cross training
  • Injury is more common as the body is frequently overtaxed
  • Hormones are more likely to be out of balance, particularly estrogen which can be suppressed
  • Metabolism is more likely to be out of balance and confused if diet is not a careful consideration
  • Healthy weight can be harder to maintain (too much weight loss for some, weight gain for others)
  • Hunger can be hard to regulate, especially for endurance athletes
  • Sleep can be improved but can also be lacking as sleep needs continue to increase
  • Immunity is hampered

With my rational brain, I can see that less running and more cross training has more benefits for my health.  With my emotional brain, I want to push my limits for a few years and see what I’m capable of!

Is one better than the other? When I’m injured I start to think I’m crazy for ever pushing so hard! But when I’m in the middle of it there is nothing more fun and satisfying!

The aches and pains pop up for a reason – to ensure we are taking care of our bodies and not crossing the line into poor health when what we’re doing should be good for our bodies.

Bottom line: If you’re not pushing yourself and running as much as the “crazy” runners, be confident in what you’re doing- it is (in many cases) better for you! You should never feel “less than” for not running crazy amounts of miles.

If you are an endurance athlete, continue to pay careful attention to all of your bodies signs so you can do so in a safe and healthy way.  If you ever get to a point when it’s no longer giving you the same amount of joy, back off and know that your body will get just as many benefits (and likely more) from doing a little bit less!

Do you consider yourself running for run or running to race?

Is it hard for you to remember that less can be more? Do you ever feel like you’re never doing enough?
I find social media often tries to tell me I’m not doing enough.  I’m content with my training and am able to (mostly) ignore those messages, but they’re intense!

 

 

A confidence boosting run + 3 things I’m doing every night to stay healthy

How are we already wrapping up another month?!

February had highs and lows in training… a pull back week or two in the middle from pushing too hard (low) and then a solid weekend of running with a surprisingly strong 8 miles of tempo work yesterday (high).

So I’m back to feeling like maybe there is some hope for this half in 3 weeks.  My husband commented that my life has much higher highs and lower lows than his, thanks to running. Ha! Definitely some truth to that!

I’ve been taking all the preventative care pieces very seriously… no more aches or pains!

Here are the three things that I’m doing every. single. night.

  1. Icing.  Typically I only ice my shin when it’s starting to feel tender, but I’ve continued to ice after every single run to boost recovery.  So far so good!
  2. Rolling.  I know how important it is, but honestly, I was lucky to do it once a week.  Now I’m doing a 5 -7 minute roll out every evening… my chiropractor taught me a simple roll starting with the back and glutes, and then one leg at a time for hamstrings, calves, and quads.  It really only takes a few rolls on each body part- 5 minutes total!
  3. Yoga:  I am so NOT a yoga girl- terribly unbendy and inflexible.  But I’m started doing a simple sequence (again 5 minutes, that’s it!) I typically run through downward dog, cobra and do a few hip stretches and warrrior holds.  I don’t know if I’m even naming everything correctly, but it’s a nice way to stretch out and get some deep breathing in.

For Tuesdays on the run, we were asked to grade ourselves on our month.  It wasn’t exactly what I hoped but February is finishing strong and with these new habits in place, I’m giving it an A!

I am linking up with SuzRachel, Lora, and Debbie for Running Coaches CornerPatty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, Nicole, Annmarie, Michelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday.