Running together, apart

NYC marathon route flags

NYC marathon route flag

Last Saturday, a few running friends and I ran 20 miles of the NYC marathon course. I got so excited when I noticed that they put up the route flags along the course in Brooklyn & Queens. Even though I’m not running NYC (my friends are but I’m running Philly marathon on Nov 17), I still feel the thrilling energy whenever marathon day approaches in the city. I’ve run this course multiple times this training season and every time it makes for a great morning. Plus the Queensboro bridge hill no longer bothers me!

As everyone is approaching their race day we didn’t stay together past mile 10 – we all fell into our own definition of “race training pace”. However as I ran those last miles I still felt their encouraging spirits. I still felt the camaraderie that comes with our shared love of running (sometimes bordering on obsession). It’s much like the shared smile when I see another runner sticking it out in the rain/cold/heat/early dawn.

Run strong runners!

Running through step-backs

It’s been awhile since I have written a blog entry – summer turned insane for me between work, travel, training for marathon #2 and life in general. It’s been a rough past 12 months but I am discovering my true self in the process and counting my blessings; I’m preparing for a life reset. The thing that continues to add pure joy and clarity to my life is running and yoga.

VIA Lehigh Valley Marathon

Marathon #2 the VIA Lehigh Valley Marathon on September 8….. I had such high hopes for this marathon. Since I qualified for Boston my first marathon with novice training, I figured this time around I’d run even faster. However the day turned out terrible. First, I sat in race related traffic for ONE HOUR because the race directors didn’t have anyone directing cars. I was by myself so I couldn’t leave my car and run to the start as many other runners did. I crossed the start line minutes after the gun. Stressed, I tried to calm down and just run my race and was holding a great pace. However, the course turned out to be almost 50% TRAIL and my muscles were not prepared for this. Around mile 20 – on pace to finish in 3:30 hours – I had to begin a run-walk-run cycle. Since I ended up walking 2 miles towards the end, I finished at exactly 4:00:00. Even though I finished well before the average female marathoner‘s time of 4 hr 42 min, clocking about twenty minutes slower than my last marathon absolutely crushed my spirit.

After marathon #1 I was able to bounce back quickly, this time around I had two black toenails, pulled muscles and a bruised spirit. It took me 3 weeks to return to normal. Demoralized and wishing to really honor the hard training I’ve done this summer I quickly signed up for marathon #3 – Philly Marathon on November 17. I hope I can close out 2013’s race calendar with pride.

“The great runner continually interrogates himself. How badly do I want it? How much of my soul am I going to put into this? How lost am I willing to feel? To what degree will I fight against the natural defense mechanism that protects me against losing and pain? How bitterly will I reject failure?” by Alberto Salazar

Training Paces – I’m running my long runs too fast and my fast runs too slow

just run

Like most runners, I often run my long runs too fast and my fast runs too slow. Lately I’ve been trying to force myself to slow down on my 10+ mile runs and really sprint my shorter ones. I found this super convenient training paces calculator on Runner’s World – http://www.runnersworld.com/tools/training-paces-calculator. You enter in your goal/actual pace for a race (I used my 3:33:00 marathon goal) and it gives you the ideal training paces. Even with the last few 90*F weather days, slowing myself to 9:09 pace is a bit awkward sometimes. But then I remind myself of the 6:52 pace I have to run in 3 days and enjoy the rest.

My training paces for a 3:33:00 marathon:

  • Easy Run 9:09 per mile
  • Tempo Run 7:37 per mile
  • Maximum Oxygen 6:52 per mile
  • Speed Form 6:22 per mile
  • Long Run 9:09 – 10:20 per mile
  • Yasso 800s 3:32 per 800 meters

NYRR’s 9+1 = I’m going to be running a lot this year

NYRR Women's 10K - 2011

I decided to sign up for NYRR’s 9+1 program*….. so basically I will be spending most of my time this summer/fall running races, training for races and eating & sleeping tons to replenish :/ The things I do for guaranteed 2014 NYC marathon entry.

My race calendar now looks insanely packed…..between the 9 required scored races + color run+  training long runs + marathon…. I’ll have to be proactive about avoiding injury this  year to finish them all. On top of that I have a 2-week June vacation in Tanzania and other possible international business trips this summer. It’s about to get BUSY!

*For those of you unfamiliar with the “run 9 give 1” program -> If you run 9 “scored” NYRR races and volunteer at one in the same year you get guaranteed NYC marathon entry for the following year. I indicated my 9 scored races in red.

United we run

As the ongoing saga related to the Boston Marathon bombing continues (click here for a summary of events), I log into Garmin Connect to enter my week’s mileage and I’m brought to tears (for like the 9th time this week) by Garmin’s message of support: “Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the tragedy at the Boston Marathon. You have the strength and support of our entire community.”

Those two sentences contain so much emotion for me. Running has saved my body, soul and mind countless times over the years. Throughout it all I’ve felt nothing but love from the running community. A community mostly of complete strangers (especially for a solo runner like me).

I remember my first marathon….at mile 25 I was in a lot of pain, there was a slight hill so I figured, ‘I’m pacing 20 minutes ahead of my goal, I’ll just walk the last mile.’ I only had time to walk for 5 seconds before a fellow runner tapped me on the shoulder as she ran by and said “Only 1 mile left. I know you can do this.” She sounded so sure of me that I forced myself to run through my sore knee, aching left foot and throbbing left hamstring. The memory of that continues to play in my mind whenever I need encouragement.

So when people say “you have the strength and support of our entire community”, know that this includes me…..it includes every runner and then some.

Garmin message of support

2013 Race Calendar

Spring is finally here. I went on my first run this weekend without my winter gear 🙂

Spring time for me equals the start of race season. This year I’ve signed up for a lot. My credit card is worn out, but I’m super excited. The husband and I will be running our first “color run” ever. The pictures of people covered in colored dust look really fun. I decided against the NYRR’s Brooklyn Half this year. Instead, I’m going to support the local Rockaways’ running club and run the Rockapulco Half. Also I’m tempting fate and trying for another marathon this year, fingers crossed no injuries this time.

What race are you looking forward to this year?

Sometimes you need to just slow down and enjoy the view

North County Trail - Snowy Run

It’s been hard to stick to my marathon training schedule these past 2 weeks. The hubby, dog and I have been traveling between Ithaca and Westchester, NY. Both places got quite a bit of snow and bouts of 0*F weather. To cope we used tons of gym guest passes and tried to brave the freezing weather for shorter runs.

Today I decided to ignore the pace on my Garmin watch and just let my feet guide me. I put on Florence + The Machine‘s album Ceremonial and slowed down. The trails were covered in snow and empty. For 6 of the 8 miles, it was just me, my thoughts, my breaths, my footsteps and this beautiful world I’m blessed to witness. It made for quite the “zen run”.

If anyone is ever in Westchester, NY I highly recommend the North County Trailway:   A paved, multi-use path that spans north through the heart of Westchester for 22.1 miles to the Putnam County border.