Hartford Marathon recap (2:53:32)… and what’s next?

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Hartford was everything I hoped it would be. I accomplished my goal, and left the race encouraged and hopeful for the future. And so happy to have finally put a good race together from start to finish.

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I was lucky enough to be invited to the New England’s Finest program, so we got to stay in Hartford on Friday evening, eat dinner at the hotel, and just relax. I had to attend a quick technical meeting, but besides that we were able to just talk with the other athletes, get a glass of wine from the bar, and just enjoy ourselves. It was a very nice change of pace (versus wrangling two toddlers the night before a big race). Must remember this for the future.

We walked to the elite tent with Erin and Allie on race morning, which was directly next to the finish line. So nice not to have to worry about finding friends and family after the race (looking at you, Boston Marathon). Race organizers were top notch, and they thought of everything, It really cut down on stress and allowed us to focus on our races.

My goal was to go out easy for the first 5k (suggestion from my friend Mary), and then settle into my goal pace (around 6:30/mile). Since it was humid, and the course has quite a few hills, I knew I was going to have to be flexible on my pace and just monitor how I was feeling and adjust accordingly. Luckily I was able to settle in with a group of ladies for a few miles, and then fell into a group with one other woman and her teammate for a good chunk of the middle of the race. I fell off the pace a little bit at the turnaround (around mile 17), or so I thought. I decided not to look at my watch and just run.

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Besides breaking 3 hours, my other goal was to run negative splits. So when I got dropped and saw the girl ahead of my pull farther and farther away, I was definitely worried that I was slowing down. But I remembered something from a podcast episode I had listened to awhile ago, that when you are feeling bad in a race and want to quit you’re really only at 30% of your capacity. I misremembered the number (thought it was 20%) so I kept telling myself to suck it up and that I still had 80% left to give. That worked pretty well. And then I started to do the math on the race clocks at each mile marker and realized that I hadn’t slowed down at all and was on pace to run well under 3 hours. That carried me through to the finish: first half 1:27, second half 1:26:32, final time 2:53:32. (My splits are on Strava if you want to see those).

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I’ve been taking it pretty easy the past two weeks or so. I took 6 days off completely and then since then I’ve just been running when I feel like it. After following structured training for several months it’s nice to get back to just running for the love of it. And recently I have realized that I need to do a better job of keeping my body in balance, so I’ve been seeing a massage therapist, keeping up with Pilates mat classes twice per week, and doing Jasyoga videos each day to address any areas that need extra attention. I joined the Jasyoga challenge, which started yesterday; anyone can join, and all you have to do is 5 minutes of yoga per day for the month of November. I’m such a big fan of those 5 minute videos.

Logically I think I have a good chance of eventually getting closer to the Olympic Trials standard of 2:45, but I don’t want to make that my main focus right now. I really just want to continue to enjoy races, work on getting stronger, and keep having fun. I will be running the Honolulu Marathon in a month, just for fun. I won a trip to Honolulu with Run Gum and I’ll be taking Pete along for a fun getaway. After that I’ll probably take some down time and pick a goal race for the spring. If you have any suggestions for a good spring half marathon or full marathon, I’d love to hear it! (preferably flat, fast!)

Hartford Marathon Training and Indy Women’s Half recap

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So, I tried. I really did. But, I don’t think I’m going to ever catch up on these weekly recaps before the actual race (since it’s NEXT WEEK, y’all). Here’s a run down of the last five weeks and then I’ll recap the Indy Women’s Half.

Week 10 (Week of 9/4 *recovery week*)

M 8 miles easy

T 8 miles easy

W 9 miles with strides

T 8 miles easy

F 8 miles easy

Sat 3 warm up, 5k race at 17:14 (5:30/mile), 3 at 6:45/mile, 2 cool down

Sun REST

(49.5 miles)

Week 11 (Week of 9/11)

M 8 miles easy

T 3 x 3 miles at MGP w/ 1 mile jog recovery (15 miles)

W 10.2 miles easy

T 10.2 miles easy

F 10 miles easy

Sat REST

Sun (Palio half) 13.1 miles at 6:15/mile! 2 miles warm up, 5 miles cool down (20)

(74.8 miles)

Week 12 (Week of 9/18)

M 10 miles easy

T 10.2 miles easy

W 8 miles easy

T 24 miles with no carbs, had eggs + coffee for breakfast and only water during the run

F REST

Sat 10.3 miles easy

Sun 8.2 miles easy with the girls in double stroller

(70.7 miles)

Week 13 (Week of 9/25)

M 10 miles easy

T 3 mile warm up, 6 mile easy fartlek, 3 miles cool down (12 miles)

W 10 miles easy

T 12 miles easy

F REST (travel to Indy)

Sat 2 miles warm up, Indy Women’s Half 1:18:59, 1 mile cool down (16 miles)

Sun REST (travel home)

(60.2 miles)

Week 14 (Week of 10/2)

M 8 miles easy

T 10 miles easy

W REST

T Fartlek 10 X 3 mins with 2 mins recovery, 2 warm up, 1 cool down (10)

F 8 miles easy

Sat 12 miles easy

Sun REST

(48 miles)

Training really has been going well. I went into my race last weekend hoping to just break 1:20, and surprised myself running 1:18:59 feeling in control and relaxed for most of the race. When I got to 10 miles I tried to drop down the pace and immediately felt  bad, so I just concentrated on getting to the finish and staying as relaxed as possible. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to see the finish line, but I did feel pretty good. My recovery has been good as well, body-wise. And I have a massage scheduled for later today, a luxury I almost never afford myself, but I figured it would be a nice treat with my race coming up in just a week! Lindsey’s live show for her podcast was later that evening. Tons of fun. Too much wine. That flight home was ROUGH.

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If I’m being honest, I am starting to feel a little nervous about Hartford. In my mind I’ve had the idea of just running my goal pace of 6:30. At the beginning of this training cycle that felt like a lofty goal, but now that I’m feeling fit and race day is approaching, my anxiety is starting to creep in. And I’m feeling tired, and ready for that post-marathon break. But I always try to remind myself that it’s just running, and there’s nothing to be nervous about.

A few other quick notes: I recently won a high performance blood test with Inside Tracker. I just got the blood test results back this morning, and although I was initially skeptical, I think the results give me some concrete goals to work on to optimize my health. I may go into a little more detail on this in the future. We’ll see.

I’m currently reading this book, Present Over Perfect (not an affiliate link). So many people have recommended it to me, and after hearing the author on a few podcast interviews I decided it was time to start reading it. I can’t even begin to describe how much I love this book, and how much I feel like the author in some ways. She talks about the concept of “fake resting”, where you’re in your pajamas and appear to  be in chill mode, but in reality you’re running laps around your house checking off things on an endless to-do list. And I love this passage, “The very thing that makes you you, that makes you great, that makes you different from everyone else is also the thing that, unchecked, will ruin you.”

I don’t really want to end on a super serious note, so enough of that talk for now.

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Good vibes appreciated for next weekend! I’m out!

Hartford Marathon Training: Week Nine

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Week Nine: Week of 8/28 

I mentioned last week  that we traveled to visit family after the wedding. It ended up being a perfect little short trip, and despite some rainy days we still managed to get in three good beach days. I did a few treadmill workouts at the YMCA in Norfolk. I also got to meet up with my friend Kris for a short run and some strides at a park in Virginia Beach.

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Trashmore run with Kris! Can you tell which one of us lives in upstate NY now?

We traveled home on Friday, so I decided to make that my rest day. I felt terrible on Saturday, but just took it really easy and ended up having a really good workout on Sunday.

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Cold and rainy long run with Allie and Karen!

 

Week Nine: 

M REST

T 2 mile warm up, 15 X 1 k at HMGP on the treadmill, 2 mile cool down

W 8 miles easy

T 6 mile warm up, 10 x 200 strides, 2 mile cool down 

F REST

Sat AM 10 miles, PM 4 miles

Sun 6 miles easy, 12 miles at marathon race pace (6:30)

Total: 63.4 miles

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Family beach day!

Hartford Marathon Training: Week Eight

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Week Eight: Week of 8/21

I had a great week of training, even with travel and not getting as much sleep as I usually do. The Tuesday workout was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I did the 400’s in my neighborhood, and wasn’t thinking about the fast that my neighborhood isn’t flat. So half of the 400s were uphill and the other half were downhill.

We left for an out-of-town wedding on Thursday, and I had planned to get my long run done early on Thursday so I wouldn’t have to do it on the hotel treadmill. I was dreading that run, and didn’t think I’d be able to do the cutdown part of the workout. But the run ended up going well, and after the first 8 miles (and a gel) I suddenly felt good enough to tackle the cutdown.

After the wedding we took a short trip to the beach and to visit family in Norfolk. More about that next week!

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Week Eight:

M 10 miles easy

T 3 miles warm up, 20 X 400, 3 miles cool down (12 miles)

W am 6 miles easy, pm 4 miles easy

T 20 miles total (8 miles easy, 10 mile cut down starting at 7:00/mile and working down to 6:00/mile, 2 mile cool down

F 10 miles easy

Sat 4 mile warm up, 10 x 20 second strides, 4 mile cool down (9 miles)

Sun 10 miles easy

(81.6 miles)

Travel means being doing your best to plan ahead but also being flexible. I ended up running on Sunday instead of taking a rest day because I had something else planned for Monday morning. So my mileage is a little higher than usual, but it will balance out next week with an extra rest day.

Looking for more of my training for the Hartford Marathon?

Week 7

Week 6 

Week 5

Week 4

Week 3

Week 2

Week 1

The correlation between running and mind sports

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Running is one of the most popular ways to exercise in the U.S., while the two most popular mind sports in the world are chess and poker. While chess and poker may appear as far away from running as possible, the two types of sports can equally benefit the other.

You might be wondering, what could these two drastically different sports have in common? Well, both types of sports require players to have a strong focus, concentration, and psychological fortitude to be successful.

Distance runner and chess player Christian Fuller told the Mammoth Times that the sports complement each other. “Running, being athletic and active, trains the body, which helps the brain function better. Chess trains the mind, which in turn, helps develop strategies and tactics for running. It’s a big full circle.” Such is his passion for combining the two sports that he teaches them together.

One man who may agree with him is professional poker player Sorel Mizzi. Mizzi told an interviewer, “[exercising] before a tournament makes such as major difference to my mental clarity.” Studies have shown that exercise boosts the amount of blood that gets to the brain which in turn helps with memory retention. Like chess, remembering the opponent’s moves and habits is the key to winning.

Both chess and poker have seen a resurgence in popularity due to online gaming. More players are competing not at the card table or across the board but on their computers and mobile devices. A study focusing on gaming outlet Gaming Realms showed that the gaming industry is expected to keep growing with mobile gaming as the key driver. Gaming Realms principal gaming site Slingo features digital versions of popular card games that can be accessed on mobile devices. The same is true of chess with ABC revealing that chess players were swapping the physical checked board for the virtual one. As more players use their computers or mobile devices to play so too does the importance of exercise increase. Online players are much less likely to be active than someone who plays in physical tournaments.

Exercising has long been considered one of the most effective ways to train the mind and the body. Running a marathon is both a physical and mental challenge, as a runner must overcome the pain in their legs and the negativity in their mind. Michelle Hamilton believes that to improve your running ability you need to “train your brain like you train your body.” She recalls how she was diagnosed as a “negative thinking, results-oriented runner.” In order to train her brain, she uses focus tools (“a word, phrase, or action that mutes destructive chatter and keeps you in the moment”). Her focus point was concentrating on her footsteps. After many attempts she gradually managed to employ them and saw a marked improvement in her motivation and performance.

In chess and poker the negative feeling of doubt can also have a huge effect on performance. Exercising regularly will increase focus and boost concentration. Chess, poker, and running all require a person to rely on their mental strength to succeed. A runner who doesn’t focus on their mental game, and a mind sports player who ignores physical activity, are both stopping themselves from reaching their full potential.

What do you do when your mind starts wandering toward negative thinking late in a race? I usually resort to counting, because it keeps my mind focused on something besides the pain. Hey, even marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe used the tactic of counting to 100. “She had talked herself through near-exhaustion by counting to 100, by aiming at landmarks, and by thoughts like, ‘No matter how exhausted I might feel, a half-an-hour run is one I can manage.’ ”

This is a contributed post. 

Running and chess

Hartford Marathon Training: Week Seven

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Week Seven: Week of 8/14

I was fighting some negative thoughts this week about marathon training. I think anyone feels that way at the beginning of a training cycle, and particularly for longer races. It’s intimidating. You start to think and compare your current fitness to where you’ll need to be to reach your goal. How can I possibly run 26.2 miles at a faster pace if I can barely run 4 miles today?

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Week Seven:

M 10 miles easy

T 2 miles warm up, intervals at marathon race pace (6:30), 2 miles cool down (14 miles) 

W 10 miles easy

T 14 miles 

F 8 miles easy

Sat 18 mile long run with surges at half marathon race pace (6:00/mile) 

Sun REST

(74.1 miles)

How do you work through doubts and day-to-day negative thoughts? Sometimes I just have a bad day, so I try to remember that and not make it into a big catastrophe. Blogging, keeping a detailed training diary, writing in a journal, any of those things help me keep track of patterns. I know that it’s normal to have a bad week sometimes, but that I need a recovery week with less miles and lowered intensity. And if it becomes a few bad weeks in a row, then I know there’s a bigger problem. But a bad day here and there is nothing to freak out about.

Hartford Marathon Training: Week Six

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Week Six: Week of 8/7

(Previous weeks are here: Week 5, Week 4, Week 3, Week 2, Week 1)

I felt tired at the beginning of the week. Pete was out of town the previous weekend so I was solo with the girls and it caught up with me Monday. But I’m starting to understand this parenting thing and how it works, so I knew I just needed to spend the day giving my body some rest.

On another note, when did everyone start becoming so serious about this whole running thing? You guys, running is supposed to be fun. Some of my best times are when I’m just chatting with friends on a long run, laughing about stupid stuff. When I coached high school, my favorite memories are from the days when we had inclement weather and got creative playing games and coming up with workouts we would do indoors. We don’t have to be inspiring people all the time. Life is ridiculous. Look around you and laugh at things.

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Week Six:

M 8 miles easy on the treadmill (7:35/mile)

T Fartlek (7.5 miles at 7:02/mile) 2 miles warm up, 1.5 cool down (11 miles) + Pilates mat class

W 10 miles easy (8:08/mile)

Th 4 mile warm up, 10 x 20 second strides, 4 mile cool down (9 miles)

F 8 miles easy (7:41/mile)

Sat 16 miles with Allie (7:15/mile)

Sun REST

(62.7 miles)


What’s something ridiculous that’s happened to you recently? 
I left my kids downstairs while I was cooking dinner and discovered this masterpiece on my nearly brand new NordicTrack. Luckily it was just chalk, so it cleaned up fine. I didn’t have the energy to be mad, but even if I did I think I would have just laughed anyway. At least they were being creative, right?

Treadmill Fail

Hartford Marathon Training: Week Five

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Week Five: Week of 7/31

I got the most well-timed and amazing email this week. You may know that I’m a podcast junkie, and I was listening to an episode of one that I don’t usually listen to. At the end of the episode, there was a prompt to enter the contest so I did. I’ve probably entered at least 100 contests on social media and have never won a damn thing. But I figured, what the hell?

You guys, I won.

Unfortunately I can’t give all the specifics yet, but once it’s announced I think you’ll realize why this was such a big deal to me. At the beginning of the week, before I got email, I was seriously doubting my ability to train for a marathon. But I realized that this was absolutely a sign. It really helped me re-focus and cut out distractions.

And now… something that made me laugh way too much:

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Week Five:

M 4 easy treadmill miles, (~34 minutes)

T 4 miles easy (ran most of this outside, last 11 mins on treadmill (~32 mins) + Pilates 

W 10 miles treadmill (7:42/mile)

Th 2 warm up, 5 mile fartlek workout, 3 cool down 10 miles (7:13 avg)

F 6.1 miles easy (7:54/mile)

Sat 14 miles on the treadmill (7:19/mile)

Sun REST

(48.1 miles)

Hartford Marathon Training: Week Three

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Week Three: Week of 7/17

We’re on the road (in real time) this week. I’m writing this from somewhere in Delaware or Maryland, on the hunt for a Chick-fil-A, because that’s basically the best fast food you can get. Mmmm Chick-fil-A…

 

Base Week #3:

M 10 miles on the treadmill (7:24/mile, making up for missed weekend long run)

T Pilates mat class + 5 miles (1 mile “race” 5:11 on the track)

W 8 miles (7:49/mile)

Th Pilates mat class + 5 miles treadmill (8:20/mile)

F 8 miles treadmill (7:32/mile)

Sat 12.7 miles (7:16/mile)

Sun REST

(48.7 miles)

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This was the first week when I felt like things clicked. I went to Pilates twice this week and had a fun long run with friends. I got a ton of stuff checked off my personal to-do list as well, which I think helped me feel a lot better in general. Sometimes when I have a lot to do I get overwhelmed and my running suffers. So I’ve been making an effort to be more systematic and organized with my daily STUFF. Always working on ways to be better.

What’s your current favorite show to binge on?
We just finished The Night Of on HBO and I’m so sad it’s over.

Hartford Marathon Training: Week Two

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Week Two: Week of 7/10

Yesterday I mentioned that my last marathon training cycle didn’t go well. In all honesty, I set myself up for that. With a 2 year old and an infant at home, I was barely hanging on by a thread. Add in marathon training, work, home renovations, adjusting to northeast winters, and it all became too much.

In the last few weeks of training for Boston, I started to feel off. After the race, I realized something was actually really wrong. Although it took me awhile to figure this out, eventually I learned that I had form of post-partum depression (PPD) known as post-partum anxiety (PPA). Basically, I was having more frequent and unexplained panic attacks that would occur without warning, and it caused me to withdraw from my normal activities because I didn’t want to have a panic attack in public. And yes, it’s just as horrible as it sounds.

It took a few months to get better, and then I had a relapse this spring after weaning my second daughter from breastfeeding. You can hear more about my experience with PPA here on Lindsey Hein’s podcast, I’ll Have Another. When we recorded that episode I was coming back from that second bout with PPA.

A lot of people told me that things would get better with time, and I had a hard time believing that in the moment. I’m so used to being in control of everything. But it is absolutely true: you’re not alone, it’s not your fault, and it will get better. And I do think that it made me a much stronger, more empathetic person.

So, anyway, things are much better now. I’m happy to have running to channel my stress for sure. This week was another easy week, although I missed my long run due to travel and laziness and had to make it up the following week.

Base Week #2: 

M 6 miles treadmill (7:34/mile)

T Pilates + 4 treadmill miles (8:03/mile, supposed to be easy but wobbly legs after Pilates)

W 8 miles treadmill (7:25/mile)

Th 5 miles treadmill (7:41/mile) + Pilates mat class

F 7 hilly miles (7:43/mile)

Sat REST 

Sun REST

(30 miles)

(Week one is here in case you missed it…)

One of my goals is to continue to go to Pilates class twice a week. I started taking classes at the YMCA during my running break, and I fell in love with the joy and pain that is Pilates. It works all of the muscles that I’ve been neglecting for years and my butt is actually starting to take a normal shape again. So, even though we had planned to leave for a trip to our old college town on Thursday morning, I made sure to sneak in a class that day.

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I always struggle with sticking to my training when I’m traveling, so that’s something I have to work on. I did well the first day, and got up early enough to (somewhat) beat the heat. But I got lazy and slept in both weekend days.

Do you have any tips for getting in your workouts when you’re on vacation or traveling for work? 

Here are some resources that helped me when I was at my worst:

Postpartum Progress

A Cup of Jo: The Hardest Two Months of My Life

Kathy DiVincenzo’s experience with PPD

Shades of Light (*this is a local organization, but the website lists additional resources)