Hannaford Half Marathon (1:24:19)

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I’m going to try to not sound like a brat… because for any of the runners I coach or have coached, I always say that if you set a PB you really can’t complain. It’s easy to take that kind of thing for granted when you’re used to improving and setting personal records often. I’ve been on the other side many times (the side where you run through 2 miles of a 5k and think hmm I’m used to seeing that time on the clock at the finish line). I did a little bitching and moaning and feeling sorry for myself after the race, but then I remembered my mantra, that Teddy Roosevelt quote “comparison is the thief of joy”. I have it written on the chalkboard by the front door as a reminder to be grateful for where I am and not compare myself to other people or to myself at age 25 (or whatever).

So I’ll talk about the positives. First, I was able to actually run and finish the race after a few days off (some weird glute/hip injury). Second, I ran my fastest half marathon time ever, always a good thing to be able to say. And third, I was able to practice some key mental strategies that I know I’ll be able to draw on in the future. So, now let’s get to the dirty details.

The race started at 8:00- as usual I was running late and barely got to the start line before the gun went off, but that’s nothing new. I settled in with a good group of speedy women and just told myself to relax and zone out, expend as little energy as possible, and run the tangents. About a half mile into the race one of the women in our group made an abrupt stop and turned off to the left. A few seconds later we heard shouting from behind us, which I couldn’t decipher, but one of the other women in our group realized that we had been following the lead men who had turned the wrong way (following arrows for another race that ran through the same park) and alerted us. Shit.

The group of the three of us turned around and started to weave our way back through the main pack. Logically I knew there was no reason to panic, but I was pissed (I think we all were) and the pack of us probably ran faster than we should have. My thoughts were all negative at this point: well, there goes the race… also why didn’t the other woman say something when she turned around? Did she say something and we didn’t hear it? (and if not, that’s bad race karma). We hit the “mile” in 6:35 (s0meone was calling out splits). There were some F bombs. In reality my first mile was 6:13, but the manner in which that was run (running downhill, an abrupt stop, turning around and getting back on track, then traversing the only real uphill in the race) was not ideal.

During the second mile the pack completely split up and I was running alone. This was the only mile that I checked my split (6:09 on my Garmin) and realized I needed to relax. I was still aggravated about running that extra distance, something I was reminded of each mile when my stupid watch beeped well before the mile marker. I managed to zone out a little and just run- this section of the course is on the Mohawk River bike path with only a few random spectators. Splits for miles 3 and 4 (6:15 and 6:08).

Mile 5 is where we emerge from the path and run a steep downhill mile (5:56 and that was holding back). I saw my family and got an instant boost from their cheers, which is needed along this part of the course. Miles 6, 7, and 8 were pretty tough. I had a few thoughts of dropping out. I had to remind myself to run one mile at a time, especially when I realized I was hurting a lot sooner than I had expected. I intentionally backed off the pace a little in these miles because I knew I was going to run into trouble if I started “racing” before 8 miles (6:22, 6:22, 6:31).

Right around mile 9 we start running along the Hudson River bike path, and this is where things got ugly for a few minutes. Mile 9 was my slowest split of the race (6:43). I was feeling sorry for myself. I even started thinking, well if I run 7 minute miles from now until the finish I’ll still probably PR… but somehow I snapped out of that negative thought pattern and just sucked it up. I did the only thing I could think of, which was to start counting. I instantly felt better and got into a rhythm. So for the entire length of the Hudson bike path I counted from 1 to 100, then started over again. Miles 10- 12 (6:24, 6:38, 6:34).

The last mile was tough, but knowing I was close to the finish I tried my best to pick it up. My legs were dead. That last mile was a 6:38 and I ran my last 0.24 in 1:22. Official time was 1:24:19, my fastest half by over a minute.

I had told my family beforehand that I would run 1:22- 1:23 (although secretly I hoped I could pull off something faster) and I know without the extra distance I would have run 1:23. But there will be many opportunities ahead to run faster, and I think ultimately it was a good learning experience. I ran as fast as I could on that day given the circumstances, and I’d rather learn these lessons at a smaller local race. The situation could have been much worse.

Okay… no racing for a few weeks. I promise. Next one will most likely be a cross country race with my Willow Street AC teammates at the end of this month. I don’t really ever know how to end blog posts, so… what are you watching on Netflix these days? I keep falling asleep in the middle of watching a show, so I need something that will hold my attention😉

Arsenal 5k (17:20)

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If you read my recap of my most recent half marathon, you might remember I said something about trying to not look at my watch during my races. Basically, I have it there for insurance and so I can look at my data afterwards, but during the race I’m there in the moment and not worrying about mile splits. I’ve been working a lot on my focus during races and figuring out how to turn negative thoughts into positive affirmations.

None of this was purposeful. I’ve been listening to podcasts during my treadmill runs and I’ve found a few really useful bits of info that have stuck with me for some reason. One podcast in particular that I loved was this one from Runner’s Connect: How to Make Sure You Condition Your Mind the Way You Condition Your Body. It’s definitely worth a listen. Another piece of advice that I heard recently was to seek pleasure, not pain, with your training (I think this was from another Runner’s Connect podcast but I can’t remember which one). I like to run (obviously) and I love to race, so I’ve been listening to my body and trying not to put too much pressure on myself to hit a certain number of miles per week.

Back to race day… I started my warm up with my teammates but had to turn around early to make it back for the kids race (which we thought was a half mile but ended up being a full mile). Emmaline did great- she ran the whole way and was so happy when people on the streets cheered for her. By the time her race finished we only had 15 minutes until the 5k, so I dashed into the McDonalds to take off my warm up clothes and use the restroom. Then when I got back out, Emma had to go to the bathroom, and by the time we were finished it was 9:55… and my race was set to go off at 10 am. I looked off into the distance and saw everyone lined up, so I booked it there and made it with a minute to spare.

The race started and I was feeling pretty good, just trying to stay relaxed and run tangents as best as possible. Then as we approached the first mile, I saw the clock and it read 6:19 and my watch beeped a second later. I didn’t bother to look at my watch since because I thought the clock was accurate, I just figured I must have misjudged my effort. So I picked up the pace and immediately felt terrible- in my head I was reasoning that I must not be recovered from that half marathon last weekend. I tried to maintain my pace and just kept talking myself through the discomfort. My watch beeped as we crossed the 2 mile marker (and that clock wasn’t working) and I figured I’d rather not know my splits anyway so I just rode the pain train home in the last mile. Imagine my surprise when I saw the finish line, and then the finish clock just turning to 17:00. I was expecting to see 19:00 based upon my first split, so that was a complete shock.


Finish of the 2016 Arsenal 5k

Afterwards, I looked at my splits on Strava– that first mile which I thought was a 6:19 was actually a 5:35 (seriously?!) and then I somehow managed to run almost completely even splits for the next two miles (5:36 and 5:36) with a final time of 17:20.


High fives. mom!

So, I guess the takeaway from this race is that the mental side of racing is even more of a factor than we probably think- maybe if I had seen my real splits I would have backed off. I am going to keep working on conditioning my mind, especially because I think I’ve gotten a little lazy over the years. Sometimes I fall into the pattern of thinking that I’m getting older and that a certain time is beyond my capability, but I know better now from the research I’ve read recently and the podcasts I’ve been listening to.


Post-race cool down with my girl.

Also, I got a lot of compliments on my Pro Compression socks (and no, that’s not an affiliate link, I just like them… and PS they are always on sale so just do a quick google search for a discount code). Thanks for the photos, husband!

Saratoga Palio half marathon recap

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So, I’ve been running a lot of races lately.

I haven’t written many recaps because most of them have been low-key trail races or 5ks and there isn’t much to recap.  But this past weekend I ran the Saratoga Palio Melanie Merola O’Donnell Memorial Race, a half marathon in Saratoga Springs, NY.

The conditions weren’t ideal, but I wasn’t thinking about that too much, especially considering how awful the weather was at the Shamrock half marathon this past spring. It was pouring when I woke up, but the rain stopped while I was driving up to Saratoga, and it didn’t start up again until midway during the race itself.

So I got to the race hotel about an hour before the start, jogged in to grab my number, and then got in a warm up-slash-shuffle. I was planning to meet up with one of my Willow St. teammates, but she was running late (kids… always making their moms late for races) so I slogged through the two miles by myself. I had planned to wear a hat since it was supposed to rain, but I realized that wasn’t necessary since it would just retain heat. Thankfully I had remembered to bring hairspray and a brush so I was able to pull my hair back. I felt like I was getting some judgemental stares from the other racers for the amount of hairspray I was using, but it was necessary.


Start of the 2016 Palio half marathon running next to my teammate Erin

My plan was to try to run 6:30s for this race, but I wasn’t going to look at my watch. I was aiming to make the first 8-9 miles feel like a tempo, and the last 4-5 feel like a race. When the race went off I felt good, but I also felt like I might be running too fast. Then when I saw the clock at the first mile marker it was still at 5:50-something, but by the time I ran through it the clock had turned to 6:06… but then my Garmin didn’t beep for the first mile for a few more seconds, and the mile split showed up 6:22.

(Does anyone else get extreme rage when their Garmin acts weird? Is it because it was raining and cloudy, or there were a lot of trees? I don’t get how my watch could be that far off when we ran in a straight line from the starting line up to that point. Okay, end rant.)


Somewhere in the early miles of the race… hair bun looking nice thanks to extra hairspray

From that point on, I just ran and tried not to think. I ended up running a few miles with my teammate Erin (who is super fast and badass), but she was having an off day. As we crested the top of the only real hill in the race at mile 8.5, I started to feel the first signs of fatigue. I kept telling myself that it would get better soon but it took me awhile to get my legs back. At 10 miles I briefly had the thought “I wish this was a 10 mile race” but I managed to push that negativity out and recover. The last 5k I was just grinding it out, practicing some positive self-talk, and getting to the finish.


Looking up for some inspiration late in the race.

Mile splits according to Strava/Garmin:6:22, 6:31, 6:27, 6:35, 6:33, 6:18, 6:38, 6:33, 6:40, 6:52, 6:55, 6:29, 6:29 (total time 1:25:25)


Just a few steps from the finish…


So, I have a few more weeks until my next half marathon and until then I’ll be plugging away on the treadmill at the YMCA and pushing the stroller around town. Hoping for some cooler weather (but not too cold yet) like every other runner. Also hoping this post makes sense since I’ve been writing it during the nap time for the past three days, and it’s been kind of a funky week with naps.

I never know how to end blog posts. What’s your favorite pizza topping?

Colonie track mile (5:08) and a ShowerPill giveaway!

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Last night I spiked up for the first time in probably 4 years for my last race on the oval this summer. I hadn’t been nervous for my past two attempts, but something about lacing up the spikes got my adrenaline going. I was a little annoyed that I missed the start button on my watch, but luckily Pete was able to take lap splits for me (I accidentally left my Garmin at home too)… my splits were 77-77-77-75, not bad! I wasn’t feeling all that confident that I could dip under 5:10, but I somehow pulled it off!

The kids races were entertaining as usual. It was ribbon night (they actually handed out 1st- 6th place ribbons after each race, from 50 meters up to 400 meters). It was adorable.


After these late night track meets I’m usually disgusting (combo of sweat and dirt) so I always do a quick clean up with ShowerPill wipes. They really are perfect for after a race when you can’t get to a shower and need to look and/or smell presentable. I also use them after the gym, on camping trips, and on those days when I just don’t have time to shower.

I’ve been an ambassador for ShowerPill for the past year, and I wanted to do a giveaway for you guys so you can see why I love them so much. It’s not just a glorified baby wipe- these wipes use witch hazel, Vitamin E, and Aloe Vera to clean and hydrate your skin and never leave a sticky residue. I also like that they are antibacterial (with an FDA-approved formula that kills 99.99% of germs) and hypoallergenic and paraben-free.

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So, here are the giveaway rules and details:

  • Head on over to my Instagram page here (@molliedeturner) and tag a friend in the comments who you think would love to try ShowerPill. Make sure you follow me and Shower Pill on Instagram (@showerpill)!
  • You can tag more than one friend, but please leave a separate comment for each tag
  • The giveaway starts now (Wednesday 7/27) and ends Thursday 7/28 at 8 pm EDT.
  • The winner and their friend will each receive a free box of ShowerPill wipes (10 wipes)
  • I’ll announce the winner on Friday!

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One more thing! I’m excited to offer you guys 30% off ShowerPill when you use this link: ShowerPill and the discount code SPSHARE30

Disclosure: The above link is an affiliate link- I receive a small kickback from each ShowerPill purchase. You can also go to the ShowerPill website directly and use the code if you prefer. I was not compensated to write this post and all opinions are my own!


July Races and Places

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This July has been all about treadmill runs at the YMCA (thank you free child care) and racing my way back into shape. Since the Firecracker 4 on July 4th I’ve done 3 races: 2 track miles and the Roller Coaster Race 10k.


Roller Coaster Race 10k

Our local running club, HMRRC, hosts free track meets on Tuesday evenings in July. I hadn’t been to one since I was in high school, but I wanted to take Emma to run in the kids race and figured I’d hop into a race while I was there too. I surprised myself by running a 5:23 for the full mile. Emma ran the 50 meter kids race, although she kept running through the finish line and didn’t want to stop.


That weekend we took a quick trip up to Lake George, where we stayed at the Great Escape Lodge (the host hotel for the Roller Coaster Race). It was a nice hotel, and the kids loved the indoor water park. It was convenient for race morning too because we were able to just jog from the hotel to the start line, and then run back after the race to shower. The race itself went pretty well- I’m not usually a fan of 10ks because they just seem so long but this course had a lot of twists and turns, so you really had to pay attention and couldn’t zone out. I ended up running 39:58, which wasn’t bad considering my lack of workouts lately. We spent the rest of the day at Great Escape and Splashwater Kingdom (tickets were free with the race entry). Emma had the time of her life on those rides!


This past Tuesday I hit the track again for another mile, this time a few seconds faster (5:16). Emma and her cousin Mia ran the kids races again. We’ll be in town for one more track meet next Tuesday, so I might break out the spikes and see if I can get under 5:10!


We’ll be in Lake Placid this weekend for IMLP to cheer on my brother-in-law for his first Ironman! I’ve never spectated an Ironman race, so this will be a fun new experience. I’m not sure what to expect of an all-day endurance event (what do we do? will there be beer? where will my kids take naps?)… I’m still at a loss trying to figure out how anyone could swim and bike for hours BEFORE running a marathon. Badass.

A quick recap and Roller Coaster Race giveaway!

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Training has been very, shall we say, “relaxed” recently. After months of structured marathon training, I welcomed the recovery with open arms. It started with plans to take it easy for a few weeks after the Rhinebeck Marathon, and then all 4 of us got hit with a round of chest colds and ear infections, and no one slept through the night for the entire month of June. Let’s just say we were a cranky group.

My local team, Willow Street Athletic Club, was planning to run the Firecracker 4 on the 4th of July (this past Monday). I was in the middle of organizing Natalie’s 1st birthday party on July 2nd, so I was hesitant to commit to running it (never mind the fact that for the past 7 weeks I have averaged 10 miles per WEEK). But I knew I could run 4 miles, so I decided to just go for it and I’m so glad I did. I went out faster than I planned, and paid for it big time in the last mile (which happens to have a huge hill that I almost walked up), but in the end I still managed to run a decent race and finish just under 25 minutes averaging 6:15 (6:05, 6:08, 6:24, 6:27 woof)*.


After the Firecracker 4 with Mia and Emmaline!

Okay, all that being said, I found myself looking for more races to stay motivated over the summer and  one race stood out as a MUST do- Roller Coaster Race at Six Flags Great Escape in Lake George. I told Pete about it, and he thought it looked fun (and it’s hard to impress him with running). They have a 10k and 5k option as well as a roller coaster challenge that you can do in addition to the race OR by itself (if you’re not a runner) for a special medal. Plus the rides open early for the race participants and you get a ticket to Six Flags Great Escape and Splashwater Kingdom with your entry. I kid you not, the next day I woke up to an email asking if I’d be interested in doing a blog giveaway for this exact race!

roller coaster race

So, if you want to enter a giveaway for a free entry to Roller Coaster Race next Saturday July 16th in Lake George at Six Flags Great Escape, here are the rules:

  • To enter, just comment below and tell me your favorite roller coaster (or 2 or 3 if you can’t decide).
  • Share this blog post on twitter and tag @molliedeturner and @runorriderace for another entry. Make sure you follow me @molliedeturner and follow Roller Coaster Race @runorriderace so we can see your tweet!
  • Share this post on Facebook and tag me for another entry!

You can enter the giveaway through Sunday night July 10th at 8pm EDT** and I’ll announce the winner on Monday morning.

If you’d like to sign up on your own, here are the details:

Registration is open through Tuesday July 12th at 11:59 pm EDT. There are discounts on hotels through the race website as well as the option to purchase additional park tickets (if you have friends or family who want to cheer you on)! Registrants receive:
  • A t-shirt (tech for runners, cotton for riders- both if they’re participating in both events)
  • A ticket to the park good on event day
  • Free parking at the park on event day
  • A finisher medal for each event in which the registrants participate
Here’s my referral link if you’d like to sign up through that directly : The Roller Coaster Race

Disclosure: I did receive a free entry for this race, but I was planning on registering on my own anyway. I paid for a registration for Pete as well. All opinions are my own! 

*this is not the way to run a race, positive splits are BAD!

** I learned something today! EST is Eastern Standard Time (during the fall/winter) and EDT is Eastern Daylight Time during daylight savings (spring/summer). Lived on the east coast most of my life and never paid attention to that little detail…




My marathon history…

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(I haven’t finished my recap from this past weekend’s race yet but if you want to skip below I wrote a little blurb about it…)

One of the questions I was asked in the med tent in Boston was “how many marathons have you run?” and I had to think about it for a moment before I gave my answer. I was so dehydrated and exhausted that I couldn’t recall exactly, so I just said “six”, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized how abnormal it was that I didn’t know. So today I parked myself in front of my laptop to look up my past race results.

Part of me wishes this fit into a perfect little progression that makes sense. Instead, there’s a story behind each of these races.

#1 Charlottesville Marathon (Charlottesville, VA) 2006 3:52:29

… I was in grad school at JMU and had recently “retired” from running when one of my friends asked if I would train with her for this race. We followed a Hal Higdon plan (her idea) and did our weekly long runs together. I was hung over the day before the race, and ate veggie pizza for dinner that night- both were terrible choices. I felt good early on but spent portions of the last 8-10 miles walking and swore I would never run a marathon again. Because I hadn’t fueled properly, this was my first experience with “hitting the wall”.

#2 Vermont City Marathon (Burlington, VT) 2008 4:33:09

… My sister and her boyfriend (now husband) decided to run this race so I ran it with them. They followed a Hal Higdon plan and I followed a no running plan. All I remember from this race was that it was hot and very hilly, but I thought it was a nice course.

#3 Shamrock Marathon (Virginia Beach, VA) 2009 3:43:45

… Pete and I had moved back to Virginia and I started coaching cross country in the fall of 2008, which is when I started getting interested in running again. After cross country season I didn’t run at all and I was in school to get my teaching license. Between that and planning my wedding, I didn’t have time to train, so I’m not sure why I signed up for this race. I did one random 3 hour run at the end of February and otherwise made it through this race on the fitness I had leftover from the fall. I was on pace to run 3:40 and qualify for Boston (the old qualifying time) but ended up slowing way down in the last few miles.

#4 Mohawk Hudson River Marathon (Albany, NY) 2011 3:05:22

… The death of one of my college teammates prompted me to get off my ass and actually train for a marathon, so I started a blog on blogspot and chronicled my training (actually “our” training because Pete and I trained together and he wrote some of the posts). We used a plan from the Pete Pfitzinger book “Advanced Marathoning”. I had run a 1:30 half that spring without training, so I figured I might be able to run close to 3 hrs with a solid training block. I ran into a few issues training through the intense summer heat, so I was pleasantly surprised to run this fast and feel good doing it (and I learned how to carbo load properly which was why I was able to hold my pace in those later miles).

Shamrock Marathon  2012 DNF (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

… Had some great training for this race but also a lot of personal health issues which affected my training, and dropped out around 14 miles. Boo.

#5 Three Bridges Marathon (Charlottesville, VA) 2012 3:12:42

… Took some time off from marathons for most of 2012, but after spectating at the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon I decided to give it a go and find a winter marathon nearby. I had 8 weeks to train for this, mostly done on the treadmill at 4 am before work. I also got really sick about 3 weeks beforehand with a virus and didn’t know if I’d make it to the start line, but my doctor cleared me to run that week and I somehow pulled it off.

Boston Marathon 2013 DNS

… Preggers with Emmaline. This was the year of the bombing. I had initially planned to run this race or at least part of it, but changed my mind a few weeks beforehand.

#6 Boston Marathon 2014 3:46:44

… An injury forced me into cross training for about 6 weeks. I ran alongside my sister for about 21 miles of this until we hit the top of Heartbreak. This was the year after the bombing. I’ll never forget running up Heartbreak and finding out that Meb had won. It still gives me chills.

#7 Mohawk Hudson River Marathon (Albany, NY) 2015 3:05:25

… I surprised myself with this race, almost running a PR with a pretty pathetic training cycle. I ran about 5 days per week pushing Emma in the running stroller for almost every run. My mileage averaged about 45 mpw. I lost motivation at the end of August and took 10 days completely off from running. We were also in the process of selling our house… and a few days after this race I found out I was pregnant with Natalie!

#8 Boston Marathon 2016 3:24:57

… I trained with a new coach and although it wasn’t the time I was hoping for, I was happy to make it through the post-baby comeback without a major injury. It was very warm for Boston this year, not hot, but enough to affect many of us who train in cooler climates. I wrote a recap of the race, and my splits are up on Strava. In general, it’s best to run evenly or negative split a marathon, although that’s difficult to do in Boston the way the course is laid out (with the significant hills in miles 16-21). I was attempting to run this race at an even pace, around 6:50s, but around mile 10 or so it became obvious that wasn’t going to happen. I was really sore (even four days later when I originally wrote this post) particularly in my right quad.

#9 Rhinebeck Hudson Valley Marathon (Rhinebeck, NY) 2016 3:10:39

… This was such a fun race, and I felt great for this one even though it was another very warm day (probably similar to Boston weather but we had a lot of shade too). I signed up for this one a few days before the race and went into it without a goal time, just planning to run how I felt and maybe try to get my marathon mojo back after a disappointing result in Boston.  I ended up having a good group of guys to run with for the first half and finished feeling pretty strong. I loved this course- it was two loops, with lots of hills and gorgeous scenery. My splits are here.


So… maybe I’ll get it right by marathon number 10? I’m not planning to run one this fall, so I think number 10 might have to wait until Boston next year. Or maybe I’ll sign up for another one on a whim, who knows!

What are some of your favorite marathon courses? Big or small, flat or hilly, doesn’t matter, just looking for a good excuse to travel and run 26.2 miles (although a fast course wouldn’t hurt)!