2014 Chicago Marathon Recap

I meant to blog again before the race, but… oops. Sometimes taper seems to last forever, but this time it flew by and before I knew it I was meeting Betsy at the airport for our flight to Chicago. We flew in the morning before the race, which looking back, may not have been the best way to spend the day as it involved some stress (bumpy flight), plowing through the expo with our heavy bags to get bibs, checking out the merchandise and embarrassing myself in front of Nick Symmonds (maybe we’ll save that for another post), going to Whole Foods for pre and post-race essentials (bananas, chocolate milk, water, popcorn, pretzels and carrot cake), relaxing at the hotel for what seemed like 3 minutes before heading out to dinner. Yikes! It was an exhausting day but we were still excited to be there and pretty much ready to run.

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flat Kelly

Race Day
4:45 a.m. Woke up, coffee’d, ate some breakfast (for me: 1 slice sprouted grain bread with almond butter, 1 banana) and got ourselves ready. We were both feeling pretty calm, and the weather was perfect – 50s and clear.

5:45 a.m. Left the hotel and immediately found a cab, as well as a nice gentleman who asked to share the cab in exchange for paying for it. Done.

5:55 a.m. Cab dropped us off right at our entrance gate, which was a relief to me as I was stressing a bit about the logistics of getting to the start village. Turns out, it was extremely well-organized, huge and actually very pretty as we were in Grant Park.

6:15 a.m. We parked ourselves at Buckingham Fountain to chill out for a bit and I ate a Honey Stinger Waffle, another banana and some candy corn pumpkins (quick energy!). The sun was rising over the lake and it was such a pretty morning. The atmosphere in the start village was like it always is – excitement, nervousness and dashes to the porto-potties.

7:15 a.m. Made our way to the starting corrals, which was easy and again, really well-organized. Betsy and I were in corral B, so we were pretty close to the starting line. Before we knew it, they were singing the national anthem, announcing the elites and telling us to GO at 7:30 a.m.

Miles 1-2: 16:20; miles 2-6: 8:01, 8:07, 8:10, 8:08
Put my Garmin on manual lap and missed the first mile marker… oops! I felt ok during the first few miles but was also trying to warm up and find my grove. Betsy moved ahead of me pretty early on, and I wouldn’t see her again for a while. The first miles in a marathon are ones I typically do not like – I’m so impatient for the race to get started already and also pretty bad about holding back. I was right around goal pace for the most part and felt not ok (but not great). Took my first gel about 45 minutes in, which was a bit earlier than previous races but I really wanted to avoid any sort of bonk.

Miles 7-13: 8:13, 8:15, 8:16, 8:12, 8:13, 8:18, 8:10
My pace was steady, but something was feeling off. My legs didn’t have the freshness and pop that I was expecting after taper, and I started to wonder if maybe we should have come in two days before the race to rest up more. Or maybe I should have tapered “harder.” Tried to shut my brain off from the negative thoughts, but remember thinking, why don’t I just train for half marathons? DAMMIT I SHOULD JUST DO HALF MARATHONS. Or 5Ks. 5ks sound awesome. My mental game was definitely a bit off, but the crowds in Chicago were awesome and the combination of people cheering and loud music was a great distraction. I also tried to think about the people tracking me (mostly my sister) every time I crossed a timing mat and hoped they were cheering from afar. Every mile that ticked off, I thought, ok, one less mile than you can fuck this up. Keep going. Took my second gel around 90 minutes in.

Miles 14-19: 8:20, 8:15, 8:22, 8:30, 8:36; miles 20-21: 17:26
Pace was slowing slightly, and I knew I wouldn’t have enough to get in there for the BQ. I’ve been in this position before, though, and knew I still had a great chance at a decent PR. I started feeling more positive and tried to soak up what was happening around me – I was running the freaking Chicago Marathon! People were cheering for me! It doesn’t really get much better than that. I also thought of one of my favorite quotes from the Boston Bombing Memorial Exhibit that I went to last year: Lace up your shoes and run for those who can’t. This quote has always resonated with me, even more so recently. I took my third gel around 2:15 in and then started stopping at water stations to drink but picked it right back up, which I think helped me mentally. Around mile 20 (missed it for the split above) I saw Betsy, who had been running a great race but started struggling. I remember saying to her, you got it, dude! as I passed. And then I thought, hmm, ok I wonder if Betsy realizes I just quoted Michelle Tanner. It’s amazing the thoughts that go through one’s mind over 26.2 miles…

Miles 22-26.2: 8:31, 8:37, 8:45, 8:34, 8:53, 8:26
From this point on, it was all about counting down and focusing on the PR. Every mile that ticked by, it was ok, just a loop around the park. And then, 30 more minutes of running, that’s it! And then 20, and so on. I didn’t feel terrible physically, but was a bit too nauseous to take my fourth gel so instead focused on Gatorade at the aid stations and continued to walk through them quickly to make sure I got it down. I kept doing the math in my head to make sure I was on pace to break 3:40, a huge goal of mine. As we neared the final (and mercilessly uphill) turn, I knew I could do it and told myself there would be no slowing until I crossed that damn finish line.

Official time: 3:39:17, 8:22/mile (PR by 3 minutes, 31 seconds)

I think I said some expletives as I crossed the line – both from the joy of breaking 3:40 and of being able to finally stop running. The volunteers were great, and my only regret is feeling too nauseas and in pain to enjoy the free beer that was offered about 5 minutes after crossing the finish line. I hobbled over to get my checked bag and waited for Betsy, who ended up with a great PR. Chicago has an AMAZING post-race party in Grant Park with live music, more beer and other fun stuff, so we hung out there for a while as it was a gorgeous day and all we wanted to do was lay on the ground.

After showering and more laying in the hotel beds eating homemade banana bread from Betsy’s mom (clutch), we headed over to meet Dani and some CPTC ladies for celebratory beers and race rehashing.

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<3 <3

So, ok. I didn’t BQ yet again. And yet again, I really, really wanted to. But, I’m not too bummed. My “B” goal was to finally see 3:3X on the clock when I finished, and I did that. I worked through some negativity and some not-so-fresh feeling legs and didn’t stop running even though I wanted to more than a little bit. Every time I run a marathon I learn so much about the distance, myself and what it takes to get through such a unique challenge. And each time, I think I’m more prepared for the next one. That’s what’s so great about running – there is always a next one.

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(but first, recovery!)

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catching up & Chicago {updates}

So here we are, less than two weeks out from the Chicago Marathon. I haven’t been great at tracking my training here (or anything else!) – my job, other side projects and life in general has taken precedence the past couple of months and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Part of the reason why I started this blog was to talk about my “journey” towards becoming an RD and all things I loved about nutrition. Now that I’ve been a dietitian for a while, I don’t feel as much of a pull towards writing about it here. Partly because I talk and write so much about food and nutrition all day, sometimes it’s the last thing I want to do once I get home. Plus, there’s usually something work-related I could be doing. Since I’ve started this career a little “late” in life I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do experience-wise to see exactly where I fit in the nutrition and dietetics world and to get there with a great knowledge base and reputation. I just got promoted to a “senior dietitian” at the hospital, and in addition to my full time gig there, have about 3-4 side jobs going which mostly involve nutrition counseling and a little writing.

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kale break at my once-monthly Saturday counseling sessions for uninsured Harlem residents

Needless to say, things have been busy around here. Still, maybe could have written about my training more. But to be honest, I’ve kind of liked keeping it to myself and not feeling like I had to document every long run, workout and weekly mileage total along with my thoughts. I just did it, and it’s been feeling pretty good.

Even so, I do like having something to look back on when it comes to training and race recaps, and still feel the urge to write about nutrition-related things here from time to time. Right now, all I can think of is how much I can’t stand this whole “bullet proof coffee” nonsense. But that tangent is definitely for another day, so instead here’s the low-down on Chicago training lately.

Peak week (9/15-9/21)
I planned a traditional three-week taper this time around. Before the Buffalo Marathon in May I did a 20 miler two weeks before the race, which I don’t think gave me a sufficient enough recovery time before race day. So, this was peak week and here are the highlights:

  • Long run: 21.5 miles – 8 mile warm-up, 10 miles at marathon pace range (8:00-8:10), 3.5 miles cooldown with a few pick-ups. This run was exactly what I needed confidence-wise, as I felt a little tired but still strong enough to hit my goals. Bring on the taper!
  • Total mileage: 71.5  I’ve been trying not to stress too much about mileage this cycle, but will always be a believer that more is better as long as it’s done in a logical, non-injury provoking way. And I won’t lie, double digit pre-dawn weekday runs are my jam.

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Taper week 1 (9/21-9/28)
Cut my peak mileage by about 20 percent and hit around 58 miles for the week. Didn’t really feel like much of a step back, which I think is a good taper strategy as too much of a cut in mileage can leave you feeling sluggish. Highlights:

  • Workout: 2 mile warm-up, 5 miles at tempo pace of 7:30-7:40, 2.5 miles cooldown. This run felt good, and the tempo miles completely manageable.
  • Long run: 16 miles with 6 at marathon pace. Due to an unplanned trip to Boston, most of this was done pre-dawn on Saturday morning when more people were walk-of-shaming than running. Legs were a bit fatigued, but still had no problem holding marathon pace, which was a good test for those last 10 miles on October 12.

This week the plan is to cut peak mileage by about 40 percent, so we’ll see how it goes. I’m also making an extra effort to get good sleep, minimize the alcohol intake (won’t be hard…) and continue my usual (mostly) good nutrition plan with adequate vegetables, fruits, carbs and proteins.

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go-to breakfast, always

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training update {brief}

Not going to lie, I’ve been a bit nervous about Chicago for the last couple of weeks because of some IT band and hamstring soreness. Haven’t done any workouts and kind of felt like my training was at a standstill while trying to rehab the leg (via Dr. Levine) and run as much as I could without aggravating it. When Betsy and I were running together the other day, my response to her, “I feel gooood [about the race],” was pretty much “that’s great! I, um, err, don’t?”

I hate that feeling of not really knowing if things are going to head downhill injury-wise and if a goal race is going to have to be postponed (like I had to do last spring), especially when the race has been planned for so long with my bud. But, I do think I’ve wised up over the years and know that no one race is the be all that ends all, and whatever happens, it’s going to be fine. Still, I was relieved to finally have a great, pain-free long run on Saturday to help kick off this last stretch of training before taper time.

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#sorrynotsorry for the Garmin shot

Set out for the run without a set plan, but felt good and ran a good chunk of the miles a little slower than goal marathon pace (so, 8:15-8:25). Really conscious of my fueling disaster a few weeks ago and took two gels (Clif Shot at about 70 minutes in and Honey Stinger about 2 hours, 15 minutes in) and a handheld filled with Nuun (which had to be refilled twice, so sweaty!). This kind of made up for the fact that I stayed out a bit too late the night before drinking beer and am way too in love with early morning runs to sleep in. Even so, I felt 100% better after the run compared to the one without fuel. Besides the usual post-long run exhaustion (and a tiny hangover), felt like I could pretty much go about my day as usual.

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favorite post-run homemade “brunch” – two egg omelet with veggies and salsa, baked sweet potato fries

I haven’t really followed a training plan this whole summer, and plan on taking it week by week with some workouts and (hopefully) two more 20 milers until about a 3 week taper. A kind of controlled “winging it,” if you will. As fall marathon season gets closer, hopefully it’ll feel more like fall soon too…

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fueling fumbles {a bit on glycogen depletion}

Not really sure how it’s been more than a month since I last posted, but here we are! This summer (which is now almost over??) has been pretty busy with work and life things, but mostly good so I’m not complaining.

Running is going well but with a small “hiccup” of some IT band pain I’m trying to manage. Well, Dr. Levine is managing, I’m just submitting my left leg to his torture devices. Usually if I have IT band trouble – hasn’t happened in a few years so I guess I was due – I can’t run at all. This time, it feels ok to run but not normal, if that makes any sense. So, I’m still running but with a bit more caution, somewhat lower mileage and not so much speed work for right now. You know what they say about the best laid plans…

Anyways, I thought I’d share something stupid I did last weekend running and nutrition-wise, because why not? Even though I know better, I still make questionable decisions sometimes.

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like starting to drink caffeine again?

So, I had signed up for a 10 mile race with Betsy but decided not to run it because even the thought of racing for more than an hour on a hilly course made my IT band hurt. Instead, I decided to “just run” nice and easy without a plan. Since the band felt ok on easy runs, I did want to get in a longer effort but wasn’t sure how long. Sometimes long run prep stresses me out, so I really didn’t want to deal with it and brought NOTHING with me. “Just running” sounded so freeing, you know? Plus I know where all the water fountains are in Central Park (including the only cold one – across the road from Tavern on the Green, holla!) and the West Side Highway, so it would be fine. The IT band loosened up after a few miles and I felt good, so decided to do my typical long run route along the WSH and see what happened. I stopped at water fountains a few times but had no nutrition – no gels, Gus, whatever – which didn’t really bother me during the run. I felt fine! And got in a good long run, woohoo!

But then I got home, stretched, took a shower and finally ate something. For the rest of the day, I alternated between being too tired to eat and too hungry to sleep, and it was a chore to go outside to the drugstore. What I had done here is completely deplete my body of its glycogen stores by not fueling during the run, and dehydrated myself on top of that. It takes about 2-3 hours (give or take) for our bodies to use up all available glycogen stores, and since I run first thing in the morning didn’t really have much else to start with (1/2 banana, maybe). Needless to say, my tank was empty when I got home and my entire body was super pissed – this felt something like a hangover but maybe worse. So this is what it feels like after those “depletion” runs some people do, I thought to myself. Maybe you know what I’m talking about – purposefully abstaining from fuel on a long run to train your body to be more efficient with burning fat and prolong the complete depletion of glycogen stores, all in an effort to feel stronger for longer and avoid the “bonk.”

Depletion runs have been shown to be beneficial in the long run (ha!) for some pro athletes and by becoming more efficient fat burners, help them shave off precious seconds or maybe minutes. But! The act of training for something like a marathon and consistently running longer distances itself makes us more efficient fat burners, even if we fuel during our long runs. Maybe we can speed up these adaptations by doing depletion runs, but with the consequences of feeling like ass for the rest of the day. For me, a maybe front-of-the-middle-of-the-packer who will never win a race, this isn’t really worth it. You’re putting your body through a lot when this happens, and the benefits do not really outweigh the risks. I would rather fuel properly and be a functional person on a beautiful weekend day. To each his own, though, because I also wouldn’t blame a pro runner or triathlete for purposefully making these types of runs part of their training. After all, minutes and seconds can mean a whole lot more when running is putting food on the table.

And with that, I will leave you with a delicious recipe I got (and adapted slightly) from a recent issue of Runner’s World that is perfect pre or post-run fuel.

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Whole Wheat Pasta with Basil, Tomatoes, Tofu, Veggies and Avocado Sauce (adapted slightly from this recipe to add more protein and veggies)
Servings: ~4

Ingredients
12 ounces whole-wheat fusilli
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup broccoli florets
2 cups kale, chopped
1 1/2 cups firm tofu, cubed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 avocados, halved and pitted
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1/4 cup lemon juice

Instructions
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for about five minutes (before tender) and add in broccoli and kale. Continue cooking until pasta and greens are tender. Remove from heat and reserve 1 cup cooking water. Drain pasta and veggies, cover, and set aside. In a bowl, add tomatoes and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add oil and basil. Toss to coat. Set aside. Scoop avocado into empty pasta pot. Mash with a potato masher. Add garlic and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Whisk pasta water in, creating a light sauce. Stir in pasta and tomato mixture to coat.

 Enjoy!

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catching up {work/nutrition things, long runs}

Blogging is definitely the first thing to go when things get busy around here! I have no idea how we’re already almost halfway through July. Yikes! One of the (many) things I’ve been keeping busy with is my job at a clinic run by medical students at the hospital for patients in Harlem without health insurance. I counsel patients one Saturday per month on nutrition – lots of diabetes diet education – and have recently taken on a bigger role that will focus on teaching the med students what exactly nutritionists do in general, what I discuss with the clinic patients and what warrants a nutrition referral/consult – both in acute care and in the clinic.

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I do talk about vegetables a lot

The timing of this new role is pretty perfect, because a recent analysis highlighted what many of us nutrition professionals already know – most physicians do not receive adequate enough training or education on nutrition to talk with their patients about it. Part of me thinks, duh, that’s why registered dietitians exist. But a lot of times, they don’t know when or why to refer a patient to an RD. And sometimes, they are the only healthcare professional a patient will see. Aside from nutrition education, the other main goal of my new role at the clinic are to see how we (and other important disciplines like social work) can work together more as one cohesive unit, rather than many separate ones, for the ultimate benefit of the patient. I wrote a post about why dietitians are so important for another one of my side jobs here, if you want to check it out!

the running
After this Sunday’s long run (ok, during Sunday’s long run), I was absolutely wishing for fall. It was everything I hate about summer running – warm, humid and oh so sweaty. I tried to do a workout in the middle of the run, but a malfunctioning Garmin was all I needed to throw in the towel and just try to power through the run at a somewhat steady pace. Trying not to get too down on myself about it – shitty long runs happen – and focus on the good ones I’ve had the past few weeks. 

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July 6 long run workout: 3.25 miles easy warm-up, 4 x 6 minutes at between 10K and half marathon pace, with 1 minute rest, 40 minutes easy, 16 minutes at marathon pace, ~2 miles cooldown. Goals for the 6 minute sets were about 7:30 pace, and even though the splits were all over the place, the pace felt steady and pretty good. The main goal for this workout was to get more used to pushing the pace towards the end of the run on tired legs, and it definitely did that! By the time the MP minutes came around, I was fairly pooped but able to push through.

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June 27 long run workout: ~40 minutes warm-up, 3 x 10 minutes at a little quicker than marathon pace with 2 minutes rest, long 50 minute cooldown. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do for this run, but this kind of workout is a pretty good one in general and helped me get back into feeling what marathon pace is like.

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Mid-week workouts have been lots of hill repeats and short intervals, and I’ve hit 58-60 miles the past few weeks. Feeling kind of tired, so am trying to be really good about taking one rest day per week (so far, so good!). I’ll probably do more short intervals for tomorrow’s workout, but want to really focus on having a good long run workout before going away for a long weekend.

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countdown to chicago {marathon plan}

Seventeen weeks seems like a super long time, but when it comes to marathons it’s (usually) just enough time to get down to business. I feel a little unprepared to “officially” start training, mostly due to running a fairly unplanned marathon a month ago and trying to slowly get back into the swing of things. I haven’t really thought through a specific plan other than the fact that I’m still going to do a weekday workout (usually Tuesdays) and a workout within my long run on the weekend. This seems to work pretty well and gives enough time for recovery between the two.

I’ve always had trouble figuring the types of workouts to do and when, but with knowledge from Coach John, the Jack Daniels Running Formula book and a recent article in Running Times, I think I have more of an idea of how the succession of workouts should happen.

1. Base building/volume – DONE

2. Strength/hills – NOW

3. Speed via short intervals – in the next 2-4 weeks

4. Strength and speed via tempo runs, VO2 max workouts – August

5. Marathon-specific speedwork – September

I may loosely follow this kind of schedule while gradually increasing my mileage and making two distinct changes from my last training cycle:

  • REST One of my goals for this training cycle is to prevent an injury from happening like last time, and am going to make rest days a priority. I had substituted an easy run for a weekly rest day a bunch of times when I was training in the winter/spring, and I don’t think it gave my body proper time to recover and rebuild from long runs, workouts, etc. in the long run.
  • STRENGTH Since my injury, I’ve been keeping up with a good schedule of PT exercises and lifting to build strength in my quads, hamstrings, glutes, arms and core. I feel a lot stronger and my knee is feeling good – I figure a plan like this can only help prevent those little weaknesses that can easily turn into an injury.

It feels good to have some kind of plan outlined now! Yesterday I did my first long run with a small workout, and think it went pretty well.

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5, 10, 10, 5 workout: warm-up (this time I did ~40 minutes), then 5 minutes at between 10K and half marathon pace, 3 minutes easy, 10 minutes at ~half marathon pace, 5 minutes easy, 10 minutes at half pace, 4 minutes easy, 5 minutes at between 10K and half pace, cooldown (~30-40 minutes)

I like this workout because the last repeat is usually pretty hard, and it teaches you to push when the legs are feeling tired. This is what I need to focus most on, and while I didn’t exactly hit goal paces, it gave me a good starting point. Here’s to a great seventeen weeks!

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oakley mini 10k race recap

I signed up for the “mini” probably back when there was still snow on the ground – it’s a fun race and I missed it last year due to injury. It was 1.5 months after the New Jersey Marathon, so I figured I’d be totally recovered. But you know what they say about the best laid plans…

Three weeks post-marathon, I’m feeling ok but still not totally back to normal. Which I know is normal. So I went into the race with zero plan but a tiny glimmer of hope that maybe, a PR could happen since my current 10K PR is nothing to write home about (for me) anyways.

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sprouted grain toast, almond butter, banana, strawberry and chia seeds

Fueled up with my typical pre-race breakfast and a little decaf coffee. We had some pretty gnarly thunderstorms the night before, but luckily they were gone by morning (unluckily, the humidity stuck around). I ran to the park and met Betsy and Jenny on the west side, where we finished our warm-up together towards the starting area.

I really like that this is a women-only race, and I also really don’t like that it’s a women-only race. It has an awesome history of being the oldest women-only road race in the country (world?), started in the days of Kathryn Switzer when lady runners were not a common thing. Crazy to think of how far we’ve come! There were also a lot of awesome, fast elite women running, and since the corrals were seeded differently (no dudes), we got to start in the first corral and see a lot of great speakers on the stage before the race started. It was cool and inspirational to hear words from Deena, Desi, and Kathryn, to name a few. We also started the race right next to Mary Wittenberg, who I am always in awe of. Even so, I don’t do too many (or any, besides this one) women-only races because I find that much estrogen in one place to be a little overwhelming. And, I am not a fan of tutus, sparkle skirts, ruffles, feather boas, etc. on a race course. Moving right along…

Miles 1-3: 7:13, 7:23, 7:20
Ok, this doesn’t feel so bad, I thought once mile 1 ticked off. Betsy, Jenny and Mary had zoomed by me from the very beginning, and I told myself I was’t going to try to keep up. My legs felt ok but without any “pop,” if that makes sense. I knew the Harlem hills would be killer, and probably dreaded them for the most of these miles. It was hot and humid, and the sun was blazing. I can’t wait until this is over…

Miles 4-6.2: 7:51, 7:32, 7:45
True to their word, the Harlem hills kicked my ass and left my legs feeling kind of like jello. After that, I just wanted to finish the race and be done and didn’t care so much how fast I was going. Ok, maybe I cared a little. So this is still going to be a nice tempo workout to start off marathon training! Was my attempt to switch the mindset positively, and it kind of worked. I stopped looking at my watch and tried to work with the rest of the hills as much as I could until the finish.

Finish: 47:25, 7:38/mile

Ooof. I honestly felt like I was running in place for the last mile or so. Even though ~7:20 is about my goal 10K pace right now, I think I started out too fast for where I’m at right now and paid the consequences. When and how will I ever learn? After getting some water and meeting Betsy, Jenny, Megan and Dani for some post-race talk, photos and deliciously salty pretzels I felt better.

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yay for running buddies! 

Betsy, Jenny and I started our cooldown on the bridle path and saw a lot of the elites doing their cooldowns, which I will never not geek out about. None of us knew who won, but when I got home it was so cool to see that Molly Huddle had set a new 10K all-women’s road record.

Even though I did not enjoy the act of actually running this race, I’m glad I did it and think it was a good way to kick off marathon training. And really, a morning spent in Central Park on a nice day with favorite running buddies is never a bad thing.

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marathon training part 7; summer hydration {nutrition}

Getting back to running after a marathon is always tricky business – at least for me. I know a good amount of rest and recovery is necessary both mentally and physically, and I’ve been trying to honor that and manage my FOMO of the bridle path by taking easy runs of whatever distance I feel like whenever I want. It’s funny, but I look forward to that post-marathon break all throughout training, but then during the break all I can think about is getting back into a training cycle. The grass is always greener, I guess!

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i think i have enough running shoes, but i’m not sure

I’ve been trying to think of what kind of training “plan” to work with for Chicago (my seventh marathon!) and what I need to work on more this time around. One thing that has been consistent with my last three marathons – none in really ideal conditions either weather-wise or physically – I’ve started out a bit fast or right at goal pace and haven’t been able to hold the pace throughout the race. I don’t know if this is because I actually did start out too fast, or hot weather/tired legs/wonky training had more to do with the wheels falling off at various points before crossing the finish line. In looking back at my training, I’ve done most marathon pace miles in my long runs during the middle of the run and then let myself have a nice cooldown. It always seemed to work out well – I looked forward to that cooldown – but I’m wondering if doing more fast finish long runs with the MP miles focused on the later part of the long run will help me get used to holding a faster pace on tired legs. The race is in 18 weeks (yeesh, how did that happen), and I’m definitely going to include some of those runs into my plan. As far as everything else… I guess that’s still kind of TBD for right now (help?)!

on hydration
It’s been super humid in NYC this week, and it’s one of the first weeks I’ve had of super sweaty, I look like I just jumped in a pool runs this spring/summer. Thankfully, all of the water fountains are working in Central Park and along the West Side Highway, which are lifesavers in this weather. I talked about the importance of hydration during winter running a while back, but hydration on summer runs is, in some ways, a whole different ball game. Here are three of my most important tips for staying on top of hydration during summer runs:

know your sweat rate: Our sweat rate is typically a lot higher in warm weather and we naturally lose more fluids and sodium during our runs. If you calculated your sweat rate in the winter, that’s fantastic. But now is the time to re-calculate it in warmer temperatures to have a more accurate idea of how much fluids you need to drink during sweaty summer runs.

  • Weigh yourself naked before running
  • Weigh yourself naked after a run
  • Estimate how much fluid you took in during the run, if any

Now, subtract the post-run weight from the pre-run weight. For every pound lost, you should be drinking about 16 ounces during the run. Add that 16 ounces to any fluids you consumed while running to get your total fluid needs, and divide the number by hours to get an estimate of how much you should be drinking per hour on the run.

replete sodium: When it comes to sodium, we lose between 500-1500mg per 16 ounces of sweat depending on how much of a “salty sweater” we are. And, contrary to popular belief, those awful muscle cramps that tend to creep up in the late miles of a marathon or hot long run are not from potassium depletion, but sodium depletion. Drinking an electrolyte-containing beverage like Gatorade or Nuun can help replete lost sodium, and if you’re a super salty sweater, salt packets can be lifesavers.

drink early: Sometimes the body can’t tell it’s thirsty until we’ve already lost as much as 1.5 liters of fluid, or 2% of our body weight. That’s enough to affect performance, and by then it can be tough to adequately rehydrate without causing GI distress. The key here is to drink early and often. Make sure you go into your run or race well-hydrated (your pee should be a pale yellow) and that you consciously drink every 15-20 minutes after you start running. Pay attention to how your body feels, though, and take a break from drinking if your stomach feels full or “sloshy” to avoid over-hydrating.

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and make sure to re-hydrate post-run with my favorite green power smoothie!

Happy running and racing!

Posted in marathon training, Nutrition, Running | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

recovery, thoughts on “eating clean”

{thanks for your comments to my last post!}

The past week has been all about recovery and a little celebrating – both the marathon and this birthday thing that happened. It’s been fun to not really worry about getting up at X:XX o’clock to run or do whatever, but I have to admit I’m kind of itching to start training for Chicago. I was pretty sore up until about Wednesday, and then slowly started to feel like my normal self again minus some lingering exhaustion. I’ve gone on a few easy runs since the race and think some of the post-marathon sluggishness is starting to lift (hooray!). Still, I don’t want to push it so will probably keep the miles easy the next couple of weeks before really gearing back up.

That’s about all I’ve got when it comes to running, but luckily there is always something to talk about in the world of nutrition. One thing I’ve been wanting to write about is the term “clean eating” (or, #eatclean, if you will). This article said a lot of what I think of the term, but I think it’s worth a little more discussion. It’s everywhere – blog world, books, Instagram, Twitter, magazines – and the term is used by a ton of different people (even some RDs, to which I cringe). But what is “clean eating?”

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are vegetables “clean” ? What if they’re not organic? Or local?

That’s the thing – it doesn’t have a definitive meaning. It’s not a scientific or clinical term, and it’s basically subjective to whomever is using it and what they think it means. That’s kind of confusing and misleading, yes?

In general, I think people who use the term are trying to eat minimally processed, whole foods, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I think it’s great as more than half of the American diet typically consists of processed foods (!!!). But the term still bugs me because it is inherently negative in the assumption that if there are “clean” foods, then there must be “dirty” foods. And if you’re not following whatever version of “clean eating” you believe in, then you must be “dirty eating” or eating poorly. That doesn’t really make sense! And it sets a difficult standard for most mortals who enjoy a treat every now and again, not to mention it can also open the door to disordered eating patterns.

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elk burger from Bareburger – lean protein, whole grain goodness

I’ve said before that I don’t think there is any one “bad” food, and this term puts a lot of foods (again, based on your own personal definition of it) in that category.  Instead of “eating clean,” I think focusing on food as fuel, eating a generally healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and good protein sources with higher calorie, higher fat and heavily processed foods consumed in moderation is a more positive and doable way of looking at how we eat.

I’m always curious to hear thoughts on topics like this – do you ever use the term “clean eating”? Like it or dislike it?

 

Posted in Nutrition, Ponderings, Running | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

2014 Buffalo Marathon Race Recap

So, I ran a marathon on Sunday.

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smiling around mile 26

I started thinking about maybe running the Buffalo Marathon in the beginning of May, right after the New Jersey Marathon (the one I had been training for) happened. My runs were feeling good and I really wanted to have something to show for training through this horrific winter. So I found a cheap plane ticket (my family lives there, so staying and food = free), told myself that I’d run either the half or the full marathon depending on how long runs went the next couple weeks and how the knee felt. I did 16.5 miles ~3 weeks out and a 20 miler 16 days out and felt good, so decided to go for the full and see what happened.

Since this plan came together rather quickly (and spontaneously), I didn’t really mention it to many people partly for fear of jinxing how good I was feeling and partly because not talking about it seemed to bring a lot less pressure, and I put enough pressure on myself as it is. Plus, I told myself that if the knee started hurting for some reason, I’d pull out and it wouldn’t be a big deal. So it kind of became my Secret This-Might-Be-Crazy Marathon Plan.

I got to Buffalo on Friday and basically spent the next two days relaxing, eating and visiting the race expo. My sister and I went out on a three mile shake-out run on Saturday morning (she’s running her first 5K next week!) and I felt pretty good. The weather was great and promised to be decent for race day, and this was a relief since you never know what will happen in Buffalo when it comes to weather. My dad made spaghetti with venison meat sauce (it would be pretty hard to go veg there…) for dinner with a side of crusty, delicious bread and ice cream cake for dessert (birthdays…). #carbs

The race started at 7:00 a.m., so I woke up at 4:30 to have some (decaf) coffee and eat a little breakfast before heading to the start with my dad and sister, who, bless them, woke up just as early as I did and hung around for the whole race.

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bright shirts = easy spotting 

This was a small race compared to even the standard NYRR race, and leading up to the start I was astonished at how easy it was. We got there around 5:50 a.m., hung out in the Buffalo Convention Center with plentiful bathrooms and I didn’t mosey on over to the start until around 6:45 a.m. where the marathon and half marathon started together. Easy peasy, and before I knew it we were off. Shit, I’m running a marathon. 

Miles 1-5: 8:15, 7:59, 8:08, 8:14, 8:19
Obviously BQ-ing is always my A goal, but since I’ve had such weird training cycle and the injury, I thought shooting for sub-3:40 was more realistic. The weather was great – about 50 and sunny – but I knew it would get warmer and sunnier later on. Felt really good during these miles and they flew by – we mainly ran through some neighborhoods and back down towards the Buffalo waterfront. I don’t remember a whole lot else.

Miles 6-10: 8:04, 7:59, 8:14, 8:18, 8:09
Here I started thinking that maybe I could do it – go sub-3:40 and possibly even BQ if I just kept it up. I tried to remind myself that the race had barely even started, but probably got a little too over-excited. Took my first gel at mile 6 because I really wanted to be one step ahead of my nutrition and avoid any sort of bonking.

Miles 11-15: 8:12, 8:17, 8:20, 8:28, 8:32
My sister and dad were going to be cheering at about the halfway point, and I was looking forward to that as we got closer. Miles 9-12 ish were along the waterfront, which was pretty but super sunny and I was getting pretty hot. I also reminded myself that soon, the half marathoners would finish and the number of runners would thin out (A LOT) for the rest of the race. Saw my dad, tossed my gloves to my sister and hit the half in about 1:48 – right on target. Took my second gel and it didn’t go down easy – my stomach cramped for a good mile or two and I just kept telling myself it would go away eventually and to calm down. My pace was slowing a bit here and I was vaguely aware of it.

Miles 16-20: 8:18, 8:20, 8:43, 8:38, 8:50
This part of the course was the hardest, and it’s funny because it was what I was looking forward to the most because it went through Delaware Park, which I’ve never run through. It’s quite pretty, but the sun was blaring down without any shade, it was getting warmer and there were only a handful of other runners around me so it seemed to go on forever. Took my third gel around mile 19. My pace also slowed dramatically pretty suddenly. It was weird, like I was giving the same effort but the wheels were just not turning. Different from hitting The Wall because I didn’t necessary feel glycogen depleted, just tired. My mom and aunt were going to be cheering around mile 19.5, so I looked forward to that and got a little boost after seeing them and pushed on. 10K left, it’s only a loop around Central Park. Keep moving.

Miles 21-26.2: 8:47, 8:25, 9:07, 9:19, 9:06, 8:50
I hate miles 21-23 of a marathon. So close, yet so far away. I really, really wanted to stop here and throw in the towel. The 3:40 pace group caught up to me around mile 21, and I was like shit, ok. Just keep up with them. Do not let them out of your sight. That lasted for 1 mile (22, see above), and I just didn’t have it. I walked through a few aid stations and took some water and Gatorade because the thought of taking another gel was nauseating. I tried not to get down on myself and thought maybe I could eek out a PR if I kept moving. After mile 24 I felt a little better and knew the last few miles were on a nice downhill, so just kept pushing and telling myself things like, ok, only 15 more minutes of running. You can do anything for 15 minutes. 10 more minutes of running… and so on. Saw my dad and sister again around mile 26 which was awesome – my dad yelled “come on, push it!!” which definitely helped me keep moving. At this point there were crowds again so that always helps distract from the pain. I looked at my watch which seemed to be moving a whole lot faster that it should have. Dude, if you want to PR you need to haul ass to the finish. So that’s what I (tried) to do, and as always, crossing that line was oh so sweet.

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Official time: 3:42:48 (8:29/mile) – 10 second PR, 15th AG, 69th female (small races FTW!)

Hobbled over to my mom, aunt, dad and sister for some post-race refreshments. It was so cool to find them quickly and to have such a great support crew! They hugged me, held my bags and didn’t tell me how badly I probably smelled. The race put on a great spread of pizza and beer in the convention center, and even though I felt super nauseous choked down half a slice of pizza because I know all too well how important it is to get some carbs and protein in soon after the race. The thought of beer wasn’t too appealing at the time, but I made up for it later.

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veggie burger, sweet potato fries, blue moon <3

thoughts
I wore my “Boston Strong” shirt for this race partly because I like it, and partly because I wanted to channel how inspired I was from this year’s Boston into my race. My mantra was from the phrase I saw in the Boston Bombing Memorial Exhibit – Lace up your shoes and run for those who can’t. I think that says it all right there. Throughout the second half of the race, I kept thinking about The Goal (BQ) and whether I’d be disappointed if it didn’t happen yet again. Obviously, I would have been ecstatic if it had been my day. But really, that’s not what this race was all about anyways – it was about running because I could, in my hometown with support from family, two of whom (my dad and aunt) have never seen me run or watched a marathon.

I honestly do feel pretty lucky to be able to lace up my shoes every day, run a few miles or a marathon, and that so many people rearranged their whole weekend around me and my (arguably) crazy running habit [end cheesiness].

Now on to the next!

Posted in marathon training, Race reports, Running | Tagged , , , , , , | 19 Comments