Long time, no blog…

So… it’s been a while since last I blogged. I just needed a good long break from everything running, but I think I’ve finally, FINALLY managed to pull myself out of this major slump. So let me sum up the last almost-3-months:

May
May was a horrendous running month. I’m so glad I didn’t try to throw another marathon in at the end of the month, partially because there were major heatwaves the weekend that I would’ve run, but mostly because even by the end of May (after a not-so-great marathon on May 1) I was still not able to put my heart into the miles I was running. I went from running 50-60+ miles per week in March and April to barely making it to 25-29 miles a week for all of May. I was basically just going through the motions, trying to reignite my love for running and failing miserably.

And in the meantime, I took a step back from run blogging (writing, obviously, and reading along with everyone else who I follow), the running challenge forum folks on My Fitness Pal, and avoided all but my core group runs, slogging my way through weekend runs solo or skipping them all together. I managed 135 miles for the month of May, but I think I could count on one hand how many of those runs I actually enjoyed.

June
June was better than May, but that isn’t saying a lot. However I managed to get back on a training plan and knock out a couple 45-55 mile weeks before I had to cut back the miles to accomodate moving to my summer place and then adjust even further downward for a horrendous cold the last week of the month. I started to feel like I was getting my mojo back, though the sudden onset of heat and humidity — and continuation of some horrible allergies! — made it hard to really enjoy running the miles, and I did a lot of whining.

I started going back to all my group runs in June however, and doing more weekend group runs. And with my mileage returning to higher (normal) levels, my parents and a few running buddies all told me that I was more “like myself” and I totally knew what they meant. Even if I wasn’t full recommitted to my running yet, I could tell that I was less whiny, complaining less, and far less bitchy than I’d been in May. I also managed to run 189 miles which was a huge improvement from my May mileage.

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I even mostly enjoyed this 13.1 mile group run despite grueling mid-morning heat!

July
July has been the most “me” feeling, especially in the last few days. It’s been a pretty hot and disgustingly humid summer so far, which has made the longer runs really difficult. Last weekend, I had a 20 miler scheduled but cut it short at 18 because it was nearing 80F and there wouldn’t be much shade for the rest of the route, and I just couldn’t stand finishing the last miles. I’ve been going to tons of group runs, because if I’m going to get gross and sweaty and suffer in this heat, I am not going to do it alone!

But this month I’ve run 2 races and had some good runs and had some amazing news.

First, I ran the Belmar 5 mile race on July 9. I was still getting over my cold (read: phlegmy lungs) and it was a humid, drizzly morning, but the race went WELL. I ended up pacing in the low 7:30s, which was my goal, and I managed to run my last mile close to the same time as my first mile split. I hadn’t raced since the New Jersey Marathon and that didn’t go well, so it was nice to go fast and feel good for the first time since the Caesar Rodney HM in April. Plus it was a fun race morning spent with friends, and after the race, I started to feel that competitive itch for the first time in ages.

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Me and my running crew at the Belmar 5!

Then three days later, I ran a small club XC race. Now, I LOATHE cross country. I ran it for 2 years in high school: hated it. I ran it for a season in college: hated it. And now I can say, I’ve given it a fair 3 tries and it is not for me. My calves hated the constant stabilization, and my lungs were awful from the pollen/allergen levels that day. I wanted to cry in the second half of the race because I was just so miserable and I was almost panicking that I couldn’t breathe well. But I got a good race photo out of it!

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But then on Thursday, I got amazing news: I FINALLY HAVE A JOB! And all my runs since Thursday have gone really, really well. I think that I’ve been carrying around the “OMG WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT MY EMPLOYMENT STATUS AND MONEY AND OMG” stress for so long that it just sat there silently draining me of energy. As soon as that stress was lifted, it was like someone took 10 lbs weights off my legs. I ran a 10 mile easy long run on Saturday and felt great; then I did 15 miles on Sunday and managed to keep it at a quick ~8:30 pace (which for a long run, for me, is much faster than normal!) and it felt EASY. I haven’t had a run feel really, truly easy in months. It’s nice not to be counting down the “miles to go” from the first mile of a run.

I’m hoping that with my stress levels significantly reduced, I’ll make some good progress with training for the rest of the summer. I finally want to run and I have the desire to challenge myself, which is so much better than just wanting to survive the constant heatwave of this summer.

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At least the morning runs have been pretty, if hot and humid.

So what’s next for me?

I’m signed up for the Via Marathon on September 11, where I am going to try my darndest to BQ for 2017. Then I’ll run a HM in October (maybe) and then run the Philly Marathon on November 20 and try for another BQ for 2018. And now instead of dreading having to tackle 26.2 for the fifth and sixth times, I’m excited to see what I can do in the next 4 months to chip away at my marathon goals.

Oh, and I’m going to try not to let there be a 2 month lapse between blog posts next time. 🙂

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It’s been a while…

I’ve been pretty incommunicado on my blog since the marathon. I’ve heard rumors of  post-marathon blues/depression/funk, but I’ve never really truly felt it until this go around. While the race was fine — I wish I’d done better — I wasn’t really upset about it. I made up my mind pretty quickly to run another race on May 29: the Vermont City Marathon in Burlington. However, last week I firmly decided against it, and here’s why:

I needed a break.

Looking back, I trained hard August-November last year, then as soon as my hamstring recovered in mid-late December, I was back at it with 35-40 mile weeks, and shortly after I bumped up to 55 mile weeks in late January and never looked back. The fewest monthly miles I’ve run in the past 9 months was 110 miles, when I was injured/recovering last December. My legs need a break from training, but so does my brain.

img_2836Beautiful sunrises do help me get out the door though.

So I’ve been laying low. I’ve only been going to group runs for the last two weeks and keeping my mileage around 24-28 miles per week. It’s been hard because my heart just hasn’t been in it. I’ve been out in the middle of a run — doesn’t matter how far: 5 miles, 10 miles, whatever — and suddenly I just don’t want to be running anymore. I want to be at my desk getting work done, or in my bed taking a nap, or back home eating breakfast. After a few runs like this, I definitively crossed Vermont City off my “to do” list and decided I needed to take care of my brain before I could get back to running full steam ahead.

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Instead of running a million miles per week solo like I’m used to doing, I’ve been going to group runs — that gets me out the door at least — and I volunteered at a race last weekend instead of running it (see the lovely, neon yellow course marshal vest above!). I’m trying to reclaim my “happy running” feelings, but it’s been tough. I’m trying to be supportive of my other running friends, but my involvement on my running forum on MyFitnessPal has definitely tapered in off the last few week (sorry, MFPals!).

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Big group run of 13 x 1 mile hill repeats… we’re crazy!

I think what’s making this running funk even more difficult is the fact that I have so many major, real life stressors right now. I am meant to be finishing my thesis, but I defered my degree to September for a whole host of reasons. Primarily, because I really, truly, desperately need to focus on getting a job. I’ve been applying to jobs like a madwoman: jobs in Princeton, Philadelphia, D.C. and NYC. It’s just taking forever to hear back from anyone, so I’m in this awful “wait and see” limbo in which I can’t do anything  real world productive… like find a place to live, since my university lease ends June 30. Everytime these thoughts cross my mind while I’m running, my energy is zapped and I feel guilty for taking the time for myself when I should be working on applications. I know that’s silly, but that’s the way my brain is working right now. So I’m just trying to run enough to keep my stress level manageable.

Hopefully I’ll be back at it in 1-2 weeks with regular updates and a new zest for training, but for right now, I’m in a definite slump, and I’m just going to have to ride it out. I’ve got too much on my plate to even let myself feel bad about not running 50-60 miles a week again (yet) or for not even wanting to run most days. Plus, with all these rest days and low mileage, my legs are the peppiest they’ve been in almost a year. It feels great to get up in the morning and not hobble to my coffee maker!

I hope everyone’s spring–>summer running and/or training is going well!

New Jersey Marathon race report!

I PR’d at the New Jersey Marathon today! 3:49:08! It was a tough day — rainy, windy, surprisingly chilly — and it didn’t go my way, but I still nabbed a pretty big PR, so I’m calling it a win! Read on!

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Start and conditions:
7:30 am start, with waves going every 1-2 minutes
Around 50 degrees, warming to maybe 54. Winds 8-15 mph. Began with a drizzle that turned into a light rain… but after 26.2 miles, I was definitely drenched!

Results:
3:49:08 – 8:45 chip pace; 8:40 Garmin pace (clocked it at 26.5, ugh!)
This is a 13.5 minute PR for me, so I will gladly take it!

Event Logistics:
Arrived at the race start around 6:15; parking was easy, but I know people who planned to arrive between 6:30 and 7:00 barely made it with time to use bathrooms and dart to gear check. For anyone looking at doing NJM, plan to get there plenty early to get parked, settled, and bathroom-ed with time to spare! Gun went off pretty much right on time; corrals were well-labeled and just the right size (not too full), with each corral going off every 1-2 minutes. I did the half last year, so I knew where to go and what to do, which was pretty fun.

Goal(s)
I really wanted to BQ at this race — and looking at the results, you can see that I didn’t. I aimed to run 3:27-3:32, which would be a 7:55-8:05 pace. Looking at all the hard work I put in this training cycle, that was totally in the realm of possibility… but it was just NOT my day. Details below!

Gear and fuel
With rain forecasted, I went with basics: Oiselle Distance shorts, Oiselle Pacers singlet, a running cap to keep the rain out of my eyes, and my trusty Saucony Ride 8 shoes with my favorite Feetures socks. I treated my feet, sports bra line, under arms, lower back, and thigh chub rub area with a ton of Aquaphor (on and between toes) and Vaseline (everywhere else). I still ended up with thigh chafe, but that can’t be helped with how soaked I was by the end of the race. As for fuel, I had a cup of coffee and oatmeal for breakfast before we left at 5 am. During the race I had nuun in my handheld water bottle, plus I was drinking some water and Gatorade on the course. I planned to take 4 gels, but I ended up running 20 mins longer than I anticipated so I took my 5th & extra gel (gels at 1 hour, 1:40, 2:20, 2:45, 3:15). I also took 3 salt stick caps, one at mile 8, 16 and 21.

The Race!
I was super jazzed about this race. It’s all I’ve been thinking about for weeks, and it was the main focus of this training cycle. I had a firm plan in place for the race: 8 miles at 8:00 minute/mile (ish) pace, then from 8-20 run 7:40s-7:50s, and then go as hard I could the for last 10k with whatever I had left in me.

Miles 1-8: 7:41, 7:55, 7:59, 8:01, 8:05, 8:10, 8:06, 8:12
Well… the 3:30 (8:00 min/mile) pace group started a tid bit fast. So I backed off and got behind the pace group after miles 3-4 were also too close to 8:00 for comfort…. And then I never caught back up. Oops.

Miles 9-12: 7:54, 8:07, 8:05, 8:24
After mile 8, I did what I always do during speedwork. I thought, “Ok, now race pace!” And… not much happened. That 7:54 mile felt like a 7:40 mile. And that was my last sub-8 of the race. My legs just had no “oomph.” I had been worried about this. Because of where I am in my cycle (ladies…), I knew that sometime soon my legs would get “flat.” I was just really, really hoping it wasn’t going to be today. My shakeout yesterday felt so good and easy. I ran an 8:22 pace and it felt effortless. That 8:24 mile in this stretch felt as hard as a 7:24 mile.

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I felt blah, but I managed to smile for my teammate’s camera!

Miles 13-20: 9:06, 8:34, 8:54, 9:10, 8:34, 8:55, 9:20, 9:12
By mile 12, my shoes were getting HEAVY with rain. And so after I hit 12, I had a choice: a) Let my wet, heavy shoes stay tied as they were (a bit loose) and keep gripping them with my toes to keep them on OR b) Stop at a park bench and retie them so they wouldn’t fall off. I chose b. That’s why I had my (first) 9 minute mile at mile 13. But then my miles still didn’t improve. In fact… I just kept getting slower. By mile 16, I decided I was going to run by effort and run whatever time I could. While I was shoe-tying, I was passed by the 3:35 group, and while I tried to keep up… nope. I couldn’t catch them and they faded away into the distance. It was getting really rough. It felt awful to be trudging along at paces that any other day would be a cakewalk.

Miles 21-26.2: 9:31, 9:42, 9:26, 9:19, 9:32, 8:58; last half mile at 8:18 pace
The last 5ish miles were a suffer fest. I had determined by this point that the course was going to run long by about .3 of a mile, which means 2-3 minutes tacked on at the end of the race. I just kept trudging and trying not to walk, even though around 20-21 I got hit with the unavoidable quad cramps. I’ve gotten them at every marathon no matter the hydration, sodium intake, etc. And once they hit, there’s no real chance for stepping it up. You just gotta slog it out. A buddy of mine who was having an excellent day caught up to me at 23 or so and we ran together for a bit until I told him to go on without me since he was feeling good. (I out-kicked him down the 1.5 miles on the boardwalk, but barely.) This was just a really bleak set of miles. I couldn’t enjoy it because of the cramping, and the wind we’d run into for most of the race was at a weird angle so we were still running against it going the opposite direction. And knowing I had to run MORE than 26.2 was really disheartening. But I tried really hard to smile for the cameras, and I pushed it despite my aching, cramping quads in the last 2 miles because I knew if I put a little bit of effort in and kept below a 9:30 pace, a sub-3:50 was doable.

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Finish and feelings
Was I disappointed in my time? Yes. I trained for a 3:30 race. I worked so, so hard. I ran 800+ miles training for this thing. I dedicated hours and hours to running and reading about running and thinking about running. But today just was not my day. I gave it what I had, but I just didn’t have much in me to begin with unfortunately.

All things considered, 3:49 is a great time. It’s a huge PR for me, even if there was no BQ victory at the finish line. It just feels a little anti-climatic to have my race totally fizzle out the way it did. There was no crash and burn… I just didn’t have it in me today. And I’m trying to convince myself that that’s ok. There will be more races and Boston will always be there. I have already scouted out late May races I could use to try to BQ, but they’re all pretty darn far away (6-7+ hours) and I can’t afford a hotel stay somewhere (yay grad student life!). I’m hoping I can find a favorable early September race before the BAA application deadline (which frustratingly isn’t posted on their site yet)… maybe VIA marathon? I really want to do Boston in 2017 because I have so many friends (online and IRL!) who will be running it, but if Boston has to wait until 2018, then I will have to come to terms with that. But I’d love to at least have the chance to give it another shot before I throw in the towel for 2017.

And, well, in summary…
I am happy with this huge PR. And I know I have a 3:30 in me if the conditions are right. But it’s also tough that this is my second lackluster marathon in a row… though at least this one I didn’t spend 10 miles in leg-cramping misery! I just know now not to schedule my marathons the Sunday before my period starts! I am even more determined now to a) figure out how to avoid my quad cramps and b) figure out how to RACE a marathon and not just SURVIVE it and c) get that darn BQ! But for now… ice cream, Netflix, and putting my feet up for a few days! And, you know, finishing my Masters… aaah!

 

General format is borrowed from this article in Women’s Running:
http://womensrunning.competitor.com/2016/03/fat-girl-running/why-you-should-write-a-race-report_55754

 

The Taper is Over! Race Day Looms!

The taper is over! New Jersey Marathon is tomorrow and I am simultaneous psyched, excited, nervous, and anxious. I was totally chill until yesterday (which is not like me!), but then going to sleep last night I started to feel the nerves and they haven’t gone away. I think it’s taken a while for the reality to sink in. Luckily, this is the first marathon I’m not injured for so I’m not feeling the usual poo-inducing terror that I normally would.

Brief rundown of miles from this week:
Monday: 4 miles easy with my Monday coffee group
Tuesday: rest and core work
Wednesday: core work and 6 mile workout: 1.5 up, 3 miles at marathon pace (7:47, 7:45, 7:46), and 1.5 easy to cool down.
Thursday: 6.4 drizzly miles with my Thursday crew; conditions very similar to race day forecast
Friday: carb loading and core work
Saturday: 3 mile shakeout run pre-expo

So I ran a grand total of 19.4 miles this week to prep for the marathon. The workout Wednesday was a really good choice, I think. I started off really slow and feeling blah, but I still managed to think, “Ok, cruising marathon pace!” 1.5 miles in, and down my paces went like switching gears in a car. If I have learned anything this training cycle, it is how to run a 7:45-7:50 mile like nobody’s business 😉

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Now the marathon is, quite literally, right around the corner… less than 12 hours to go! And Flat Kristine is ready! We’ve got a zillion gels to choose from, throw away arm sleeves made from socks, and extra Aquaphor in a tiny tube in case the (forecasted) rain brings about any unexpected chafing. I’m all kinds of nervous and excited and anxious for tomorrow, and I just hope that I can race my plan for this BQ. This training cycle was a great one, and I can’t believe the victory lap is almost here!

A Sampling of Songs from my Marathon Playlist

El Condor Pasa (If I Could) – Simon and Garfunkel
I decided a couple weeks ago that I wanted to add this song into my section of “chill but runnable” songs at the end of my marathon playlist. I love the way this song builds, I like the lyrics, and I’ve been listening to it over and over while getting ready in the morning since I re-watched Wild a few weeks ago.

Sweet Thing – Hozier (cover)
This song came on one day during a tempo/hill run when I had my iPod shuffle on “all songs,” and I had an amazing time coasting up and down some rolling hills listening to this song. I added it to the chill section of my marathon playlist because I’m hoping it’ll help me channel that run and bring a smile to my face when I start to get tired.

Lean On – Major Lazer
This is a go-to speedwork song for me since last summer/fall when I first heard it. When my running group was still considering doing a Ragnar, I listened to this a lot and visualized that race. We ended up not doing it, but this song guided me to enough fast finishes through the end of summer and early fall that it’s on frequent rotation during speed sessions. It’s like a Pavlovian response: I hear this song and I start to push the pace!

Get Your Freak On – Missy Elliott
This one is got on my playlist last summer thanks to this commercial, and it’s been a pump up jam ever since:


My Shot
– Hamilton OST

This song gets me so pumped. I often sing/rap along while I’m running or at least mouth the words if I’m running hard. I listened to this song over and over in the final miles of my PR half marathon this spring, and I have a feeling I’ll be skipping a lot of songs to get back to this one in the last mile or two of my marathon Sunday. I’ve got a bunch of my favorite songs from Hamilton on my playlist for approximately mile 16-19; hopefully I can channel some badass Founding Fathers and avoid the dreaded Wall!

Work B*tch – Britney Spears
I’ve run some really speedy miles listening to this song during this training cycle. I reserve it for circumstances when I need a serious push. I’ve put this one strategically in the last half hour or so of my playlist when I’ll really need the boost and the reminder to “Work, bitch.”

Just A Girl – No Doubt
This has been my jam since I was about 4 years old and it never fails to get me pumped up on the run. I have this song placed in the mix right around when I should be hitting mile 8 when I plan to drop the pace to really-really race pace. Gwen Stefani will get me down to those 7:40s and keep me there!

All These Things That I’ve Done – The Killers
Ever since this song was featured in a Nike commercial, it’s been a really good song for “inspirational running hard.” Every time I run to this song, I feel like I’m an elite athlete in a cool commercial. This one is also toward the end of the playlist when I’ll need the boost both emotionally and physically.

 

Now I will admit that my marathon playlist is currently 4 hours and 1 minute long… and I only intend to be running for 3 hours and 32 minutes (or less!)… but that just gives me the freedom to skip a few here and there!

Do you listen to music when you run/race? What are your pump up jams?

5 (Atypical) Pieces of Marathon Advice

Going into my fourth 26.2 this Sunday at the New Jersey Marathon, I’ve decided to write up some of my advice that I haven’t heard/read over and over elsewhere. I’m no expert, but I know a lot of other people racing on 4/30 and 5/1 too, so maybe this can be helpful to other people who are also suffering taper crazies and marathon anxieties 🙂

Advice the First: Always bring an extra gel.
No matter what your favorite marathon fuel happens to be, no matter what, on race day, BRING AN EXTRA. You may think from your training runs that you know exactly how many gels you’ll need to go 26.2. But let me tell you a story.

When I ran the 2015 Philadelphia Marathon, I figured I’d need four gels. But I’d packed five in my overnight bag so I figured, “What the heck? I’ll bring the last one. Don’t want it to get lonely!” And this turned out to be a very fortunate decision when at mile 21 I ripped the top off my fourth gel and… nothing. It wasn’t open. The tear-off was just a little bit misaligned. So I angrily threw the traitorous gel aside and pulled out my fifth and EXTRA gel… and miracle of miracles!! Gel emerged! Sweet, delicious, life-giving gel!

Lesson: Always bring an extra gel. It may give you an extra boost or it may save you from a major crash when your final gel of the day betrays you!

Advice the Second: Lube. Everywhere.
Body Glide. Vaseline. Deodorant. I don’t care what you use. Spread it everywhere. I’ve finished three marathons chafe-free and let me tell you how. Vaseline in my arm pits. On my thighs. Slathered on my feet. Under my sports bra. EVERYWHERE. I’ve learned in the past that even if I don’t chafe during training, that extra 4-6 miles on race day can often produce unique and painful hot-spots later. Play it safe: lube everything.

On a related note to spreading stuff all over your body: sunscreen is good too. Highly recommend.

Advice the Third: Make a mantra and stick with it.
I have some mantras that I will think on repeat when the going gets tough. Some remind me to stay tall and (relatively) light on my feet. One of these is “Butterflies,” which I stole from Bill Rogers after reading his memoir. Also just repeating the word “strong” in my head helps.

Some are inspirational or encouraging. “You can do it.” “Why not me?” “Feeling good.”

And lately, a line from Hamilton pops into my head during the hard parts of a workout: “Hercules Mulligan, I need no introduction; you knock me down, I get the fuck back up again!” Since this marathon is largely redemption for me after struggling to run-walk and finish Philly last fall (after my legs started cramping intermittently starting at mile 15/16), this line gets me super pumped.

But honestly, in the final miles of a marathon, nothing beats (for me), simply muttering, “Fuck fuck fuck” to myself. Swearing is a special kind of catharsis that relieves the pain of 26.2 — even if only momentarily.

Advice the Fourth: Visualization is key.
Something that helps me a lot in the last miles of a long run or at the end of a hard race is visualization. I visualize coming across the finish line strong. I visualize the food I’m going to eat and the sweet, sweet blue G2 Gatorade I’m going to drink. I will also (and this may sound a bit crazy) visualize friends or family running with me, cheering for me just ahead, or waiting for me at the finish line. Thinking about people who are near and dear to me gives me a little extra push when I’d rather just give up, lay on the ground, and take a nap.

Advice the Fifth: Gear check/bag check is your friend.
I was texting with a running buddy the other day, and he told me that he has never once checked a bag for a race. I was shocked. And so here I am to tell you that gear check is your friend! Especially for a long race like a marathon, and double-especially if you’re going to be hanging around for a while (without access to your car/home) waiting for others to finish, before going to lunch, etc.

For a marathon, here’s what typically goes in my gear check bag:

  • A change of shoes (or at least fresh socks): By the end of a marathon your feet are GROSS and in desperate need of a change of scenery. I can’t wear flip-flops post-race without major foot cramps, so I usually go for my well-worn pair of Toms.
  • A jacket and possibly sweatpants: Depends on the weather, but I guarantee that once your sweat starts to dry and if you’re going to lunch in an air-conditioned restaurant, you’ll want something to keep you warm.
  • A change of clothes: Always a good idea to bring a change of clothes if you won’t be getting home or to your hotel for a while. Fresh clothes means less time sitting around in stinky, sweaty clothes feeling disgusting.
  • Baby wipes: Wanna go above and beyond in feeling fresh? BABY WIPES. Wipe that grime off your face, out of your pits, off your feet, etc. It feels so, so good.
  • Gatorade and a protein bar: Races give you bottled water and maybe a cup of Gatorade, but that is never enough for me. I almost always bring a giant bottle of G2 (or two smaller 20 oz bottles) to guzzle post-race as well as my own snack because I never ever feel like eating a banana, a giant pretzel, or a bag of chips after a race, but I can certainly stomach a chocolatey protein bar.
  • Money, ID, keys, phone: If you can’t fit these things in your shorts, you gotta have ‘em in your gear check bag for reunions, beer tents, and post-race food. I keep my keys on a lanyard, so I toss that in my gear check bag rather than have a key jingling in my pocket for several hours. Usually if my phone is going in gear check, I put it in a case and then wrap it up in my jacket just in case the bag gets stepped on. I’m never really worried about theft, just breakage, though I do try to keep the valuables out of sight.

Hopefully these are some tips that you haven’t read on every single running website and advice column. Do you have any good “lesson learned” stories? What other tips and tricks do you have for race day?

Training recap: April 18-24

2 of 3 weeks of marathon taper are done!! Hooray!

Monday, April 18: 6 miles
Nice and easy run with my Monday morning coffee crew. Legs were feeling good and the weather was nice. Great start to the week!
Core work: single leg balances, single leg calf raises, single leg squats, reg squats, lunges and bridges (regular, single leg and extended)

Tuesday, April 19: 0 miles
Just core work today! Sit-ups, leg raises, scissors, bicycles, clamshell extensions, planks and push-ups, plus some foam rolling.

Wednesday, April 20: 8 miles
Woke up to a HUGE calf cramp in my right calf. It released fairly quickly once I hopped out of bed, but the tenderness persisted until Saturday. This happens every taper. It’s no fun.
Cramp or not, I still did my run as planned: 2 miles warm-up then four mile at marathon pace (7:50, 7:45, 7:40 and 7:50), then two easy miles to cool down. Had lots of roving aches — typical taper — but overall felt good. The coolest thing was that I realized that I’ve totally nailed sliding into marathon pace. I just think “Cruise speed!” and I’m down in the 7:40s-7:50s. I’ve done a good job training these paces, and I hope it serves me well on race day!

Thursday, April 21: 6.4 miles
Fun group run with my Pacers store group! Pretty warm and didn’t hydrate well plus spent the afternoon sipping coffee instead of water… so though I was running fast, it did not feel great in my heart-chest-space. Made a note in my training log to “HYDRATE HYDRATE HYDRATE” since I’m awful at it anyway. Gotta get my hydrate on pre-‘thon!

Friday, April 22: 0 miles
More core work! Sit-ups, bicycles, Russian twists, modified Supermans (just glute activation), lunges, squats, pushups, bridges (regular, single leg, and extended), plus some foam rolling.

Saturday, April 23: 6 miles
Started my run at 8 am and it was 63* and 80% humidity. Gross! Plus my legs were stiff from taper + rest day, so I spent the first five miles battling stiffness and trying to get my body how to remember how to deal with humidity. Not a great run, but at least my calf wasn’t sore from Wednesday’s cramp anymore!

Sunday, April 24: 10 miles
If Saturday’s run was awful, Sunday’s was great! Some folks from my Princeton running group met up with some NY Harriers members and we did a nice 10 miler on the towpath in Stockton, NJ (followed by some amazing doughnuts and BBQ and fried chicken!). I was in a good pack with 5 guys, chatting and yammering on and on at an 8:07 pace til we turned around. Ended up pacing 8:02 overall. Decided to label this my “tempo run” for the week so I can skip my Wednesday speedwork. It was confidence boosting to know that I was able to run and chat at race pace (almost all our splits the second half were sub-8). That means that when I’m focused and NOT talking next Sunday, I should be in good shape to hit 7:40s-7:50s when I decide to push the pace!

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Beautiful day for a run!

Total: 36.4 miles

Overall, this was a great week of tapering. I felt pretty good the whole time — other than the calf cramp achiness. And here’s something new: NOTHING HURTS! My last three marathons, I’ve nursed injures in the week(s) leading up to the marathon: IT band pain before Baltimore, a stiff heel/calf before Minneapolis, and a strained hamstring before Philly. This time: Nothing! I feel great! So now I’ve just got to stay healthy and keep my legs happy. I am anxious and excited for race day to get here. For once, I don’t fear my body failing on me. Just gotta keep my brain in the game!