Pittsburgh Half Marathon - The Comeback!

I know I haven't written in awhile, but I haven't been completely dormant. I went back to Crossfit in March and didn't run during that month. We moved to Pittsburgh at the beginning of April and I also started at Pittsburgh Fit. It's been great there so far, a little more balanced than a normal Crossfit gym. I've been going there five times a week and running four times a week, taking either Saturday or Sunday as my rest day. I also signed up for RunCoach and it's been pretty helpful as well! It basically gives me the same schedule that my former running coach gave me. Since I hadn't run much from December through March, I was pretty worried that I wouldn't be able to finish this half. I was worried that my knees would start to hurt again.

But then Sunday came and I just ran my own race. I put my podcasts on and ran a 7min run, 1 min walk iteration the whole way. The hills definitely got to me a bit and I slowed down a bit near the end, but I never had to switch to a 3:1. Overall time was 2:05:13, which was my second fastest race since Run To Remember (this race had 300 ft more elevation gain). My fastest mile was actually my last one at 8:39/mile, which I was pretty stoked about. I ended up in the top 35% overall and top 25% in both all females and in my division. I didn't start this race intending to go hard, but I was feeling good and I just ran my race and it turned out pretty darn well. I got a small amount of knee pain at the end of mile 13, but luckily that went away as I sprinted to the finish. I also got a few "nice tights!" shoutouts from the spectators. Which, fair... my tights are awesome.

2016 in Review & Looking Forward to 2017

I ran a total of 17 races in 2016: 1 marathon (DNF, 19.25 miles), 6 half marathons, 3 10Ks, 5 5Ks, and two random distances for a total of 159.2 miles. I ran 1,297 miles including training runs over the past year, which helped bring my 5K pace down by 2 minutes. I dealt with a couple of mostly minor injuries (including the never going away plantar fasciitis). Overall, I'm proud of what I pushed myself to achieve this past year.

For 2017, I only have two races planned: the Pittsburgh Half Marathon in May and the Chicago Marathon in October. The Pittsburgh Half Marathon will mostly be an excuse to explore my new home city, so the Chicago Marathon is what I am going to put most of my focus toward. I know I can do better than I did in December if I stay healthy and train properly. Right now, I'm still focused on recovery. I'm doing pretty well, but I only ran 68 miles in January (plus the 3-6 I'll run today). I'll keep posting about progress and how training is going. I'm probably overdue a post on my experiences taking two months of spin classes...

Roxbury Marathon Recap - DNF

First up: even though I did not finish this race, I still am very proud of my performance. And I'm also proud that I was finally smart enough to know when to quit before I really injured myself.

I have a long history of knee injuries. I first got diagnosed with patella tendonitis while playing ultimate frisbee my freshman year of college. I have not been able to play competitive ultimate since. I did 8 months of physical therapy and was finally able to get back to working out. I was told that I shouldn't run, so I started crossfit and mostly did a bunch of rowing as a running substitution. A few years later, my stubbornness got the best of me and I decided (without talking to a doctor or PT) that I was now healthy enough to run again... so I signed up to run a marathon. I trained for 4-5 months, did a mediocre job, missed some training ones, and totally ate it on race day. I finished in 5:55:50, limping across the finish line. Got myself another 6 months of PT and took another year off running. When I started running again in earnest in May 2015, I decided to take it slow. I did mostly just 5Ks in 2015 and did my first half in May 2016 after running all winter. I've had a few setbacks, but overall my knees have been doing pretty well. Which bring us to...

This past Saturday at the Roxbury Marathon. The route is pretty brutal and it was 18-20F that morning. The water in my hydration pack actually froze! I started off strong. My coach had recommended that I lean forward (really, resist leaning back) while going down hills. That really helped me gain some speed without killing my muscles. I was able to keep up a 9:30 pace for the first 16 miles. Sometime near the end of mile 17, my right knee started to hurt. It was a familiar feeling and I immediately started walking. I tried running a bit more, but then the pain got worse. I walked the last 1.75 miles and called it quits at 19.25 miles (my third out of five loops), a total of 3:26:46. Had it not been so cold, I still could have finished in under 5:30... even walking the last 8 miles.

I have never run that fast that far, so I'm still really proud. My second fastest half was at a 9:33min/mile pace, and I managed to keep that up for an extra 3 miles. The cold plus the hills plus my knee just did not end up being the best day for me. I'm feeling pretty good today, so after another couple of days of rest, I'm going to keep running and try another marathon in the fall.

Manchester Road Race Recap

It was the 80th year of the Manchester Road Race in Manchester, CT and they definitely have this nailed. This was one of my favorite races that I've ever run. It was packed (11,225 people finished the race, but about 15,000 were registered), but the atmosphere was great, it was well organized, and I didn't feel too crammed at any given point (despite being constantly surrounded by people). The spectators were the best part. I've never been to a race that was that well attended! You couldn't run more than 10 feet without encountering another group. I also appreciated that they actually seeded people (instead of letting people self-select), so you were either in a corral (and had a ticket) or you were just in the mass of people in the back. I was able to get in the U42 corral and I think that definitely contributed to my enjoyment of this race.

As far as the actual race, it was mostly smooth sailing for all 4.748 miles, other than the massive hill that took up the entirety of mile 2. I ended up walking a bit of that due to my total lack of hill training, but I was able to make it up by keeping up an 8:20 pace as soon as I crested the hill through the end of the race. I finished the race in 41:33 (an 8:45/mile pace) and finished 3,032 (top 30%) and was 302 out of 1513 in my division (top 20%). I'm pretty proud of my run and could not be happier with the finish. I know I could definitely do better with some more hill training, but for a first go around, I'm pretty stoked!

Now to prepare for the marathon in under two weeks...

Cambridge Half Marathon

This past Sunday (November 13, 2016), I ran the Cambridge Half Marathon through Cambridge and Belmont.

Splits

  1. 9:03
  2. 9:19
  3. 9:10
  4. 10:13
  5. 9:04
  6. 9:07
  7. 9:28
  8. 9:21
  9. 9:56
  10. 10:47
  11. 10:17
  12. 9:49
  13. 8:43

Pre-race

However... I barely ran this week because I got unroofed blisters on both my arches from running the previous weekend. I didn't figure out the best way to deal with them until Friday and ended up taking 4 days off running this past week. I only did 6 miles on Monday and 3 on Saturday. I felt pretty good on the morning of the race, got enough sleep, had a solid dinner the night before. I didn't get up as early as I had planned, so I wasn't able to eat breakfast, but I did have a GU Stroopwafel prior to starting the race.

Race

I told myself I would keep the pace around 9:15 for the first 7 miles, then speed up just a bit for the last 6. I was mostly able to do that (other than a side stitch in mile 4 that caused me to stop for a minute). However, during mile 7 I started fading and I really hit a wall in mile 9. I had to start walking a bit because I felt I had no energy left. I had a bit more GU and was able to rally in the last two miles, but I really fell short of my goals and was not feeling really positive. The race itself was great... they did a great job of closing off the roads, plenty of spectators, not too crowded once we started running. But apparently, it was not the day for me.

Final Time

2:06:05

BAA Half + Oktoberfest 5k Recaps

I just got this tool and it has made a huge difference in how my feet feel. Because I was feeling slightly better, I was able to argue myself into doing both the Oktoberfest 5K and the BAA Half. I was pretty much always going to do the 5K... it's short and I didn't see any reason to skip it. However, I had convinced myself that I shouldn't do the half. Then I convinced myself that I should a few days before. Why? Because it was the last race in the distance medley and I didn't feel like I should skip it unless I was feeling really shitty (which I wasn't). So here are the race recaps!

Oktoberfest 5K was a solid race. The Cambridge 5K folks always know how to put on a great event. They are never too crowded and always a good time. Since it's Cambridge, the courses are almost always completely flat. While I didn't improve as much as I wanted to, I did decrease my overall time by about 30 seconds and finished in 25:26 (an 8:11 min/mile pace). Near the end I started slowing down, so I made the choice to take some strategic walk breaks. I had been on track to finish my last mile in 9 minutes. By taking the walk breaks and catching my breath, I was able to keep that last mile down to 8:20. Lesson: there is no shame in walking. Granted, half the time I walk during a race, I get some comment like "you got this! almost done!" from some stranger. Not sure about everyone else, but comments like that make me feel like I'm failing by walking... instead of making a strategic decision that will allow me to get a better time than I would if I had kept running.

The BAA Half was not what I expected. Mostly my own fault because I didn't bother to look at the course map ahead of time. It's in Jamaica Plain, so it starts off in the opposite side of the city from me, so it was a bit hard to get to and from there. The course was also quite hilly, which was a surprise since the other BAA races (the 5K and the 10K) were downtown and incredibly flat. It was also incredibly rainy this past Sunday. And cold. Considering 10000 people were registered and only 6200 people finished, I think a significant amount skipped this race. And since the cutoff time was 3 hours, I'd wager a large amount of people didn't finish. I finished in 2:08:52, which was 3640 overall and 416/832 in my division. The extra cool part for me was that I was one of the last people to start (they closed the start 2 minutes after I crossed), so getting to run past at least 3600 people was pretty cool! The course was also really pretty. If it was a nicer day, I probably would've really enjoyed this race (despite the crowd). As it was, I was not too cold while running, but as soon as I stopped, I was freezing. My clothes were soaking wet. I had a jacket that I had kept in my hydration pack that I put on, but it quickly soaked through as well. I had to wait about 20 minutes for an uber, so, by the time I got home, I had been cold and soaking wet for about an hour. My lips were blue and I couldn't stop shaking. But at least I got a medal with three unicorns on it! As for the Distance Medley as a whole, I finished in 3:31:33, 71/196 in my division and 322/932 out of all women. While it does feel like an accomplishment, I probably wouldn't do it again.

Quick rainy selfie right after finishing the race. Not freezing yet!

Quick rainy selfie right after finishing the race. Not freezing yet!

On Injury And Illness

This past month has been a rough one. My plantar fasciitis flared up, I had a stressful week out of town where a friendship was ended, and I also got strep throat (complete with multi-day fever and severe headache). Needless to say, this has had a dramatic impact on my running. Last month (August), I ran a total of 175 miles. This month? 112 miles. And since I have to take two weeks off running to help my plantar fasciitis calm down and become less inflamed, that number is not going to be increasing. I almost feel a bit hopeless where that is concerned because what really irritates it is walking... and I have to walk commute. I can't stop walking every day unless I work from home every day, which is not possible right now. Anyway... here's how I'm getting through this:

  1. Lots of indoor cycling: I need to exercise and stay off my feet, so hopping on a bike is the best way. I haven't managed to get my heart rate up super high yet, but still working on it!
  2. Ice: I have used a frozen water bottle (roll out my feet and ice them at the same time!) and just plain old ice packs that I wrap on my feet. Helps tremendously.
  3. Rolling out my calves with my addaday roller: I got this gem at Ragnar New England and definitely one of my favorite purchases. It really helps me dig into my muscles like none of my other tools.
  4. Golf/lacrosse ball: I use a golf ball at home and a lacrosse ball at work... all rolling out, all the time!
  5. Ball Leg Curls: My hamstrings aren't quite as strong as they need to be, so I'm trying to take this time to do some strengthening exercises so I can come back even better. This particular one was recommended by my physical therapist.
  6. Planks: My core is strong... ish. Not strong enough and that actually does matter as a runner. It's not just your leg muscles that make a difference! Trying to do planks for about 3 min every day (1:30 per session).
  7. Food: Crappy two weeks mean I also was putting crap in my body. That ranged from too much bad food to not enough food to have any strength (thanks strep!). Going back to my two favorite Runner's World cookbooks, plus some other healthy basics. Gotta have good nutrients to recover and stay strong!

I hope no one else is in my shit-tastic situation, but if you are, you don't have to despair. Just switch it up a bit and take care of yourself.

Ragnar Trail Relay New England Recap: Always Good To Be Prepared

This past weekend I ran my first Ragnar Trail Relay (which was also my first trail race). This particular race was in the mountains of Northfield, MA, just about two hours outside of Boston. I was pretty sure I was going to enjoy the trails, but significantly less sure that I was going to enjoy the "camping overnight" aspect. That ended up being totally accurate. I really don't like camping! The only relief is that I couldn't actually sleep that much anyway, so my back could only hurt so much. My team also forgot the cover to our canopy. And the fuel for our camp stove... luckily b.good was there with food that we could buy and I was definitely grateful for the breakfast sandwich Saturday morning. Speaking of teams and being prepared...

If you do one of these, definitely make sure you are with a team that you feel like you can count on. The team that I was on was definitely not prepared and I'm not just talking about forgetting to bring things. One of my teammates was wearing shoes that had no support and a hole in the sole... he rolled his ankle in the first loop and couldn't do the rest of the trail. Another teammate hadn't run more than 3 miles in years and only ran on a track. Another one only runs occasionally and was not prepared for the 7 miles. The lack of preparedness led to us not actually finishing. We were going to try to make up the injured guy's legs, but then I also said that I would take the long leg for the woman who didn't run distances. We fell behind and the most I can say is that everyone who could run, finished their 3 legs. Whatever, let's talk about the actual running!

The scene while waiting for a teammate to finish on Friday afternoon.

The scene while waiting for a teammate to finish on Friday afternoon.

The trails were awesome. They were super clearly marked, so it was pretty hard to get lost, even at night. Like most New England trails, there were tons of roots and rocks, so I did have to be careful. And even being careful, I still rolled my ankle a bit (not to the point of injury, just mild frustration) and I fell on my face once while I was running down a hill. Even with all that, the runs were awesome because everyone was so positive and supportive. Anyone who runs by would say "awesome job!" or "keep it up!". The struggle on these hills was definitely real, so it was nice to hear that as I'm going up a hill that would never end. Also, almost everyone I talked to walked up every single hill. It wasn't really worth the effort expended to be 1 minute faster up each of them.

My first run was at 8pm on Friday and was the 7.3 mile loop. That was my most potentially fatal run and I'm still surprised I didn't hurt myself given the amount I tripped. Even with that, it was still one of my best runs. After that, I stretched and attempted to get some sleep. I got up around 4am to prep for my next run (which ended up starting at 5:20am). That was the yellow loop: 4.9 miles. The time and temp made it feel the best out of all the runs, but my time was the worst. I think the lack of sleep made the hill at the beginning feel just a bit worse. At this point, we had talked subs and I was going to sub my green for another red. However, I really wanted to experience the green. When one of my teammates asked for a running buddy on her green leg, I happily volunteered. The green leg was pretty fun! It was nice and short and had a solid downhill for the second mile, which made it just fly by. By the time I got to my second red loop an hour after finishing the green loop, it was almost 10F warmer and even the shade of the woods couldn't stop me from sweating. Running the red loop in the daylight gave me a more accurate comparison to the other loops... the second time running it, I barely tripped at all. I think if I had run red as the sun was rising, I could have had a pretty excellent time.

As is, I feel pretty good with my performance. I also feel like I would probably do an ultra team if I were to do this again. While having time in between the runs was nice (stretching helped recovery SO MUCH), the 6-8 hours between legs (had I just done the ones I was supposed to do) was way too much. I would also buy some more camping equipment so I didn't end up sleeping on the ground. Definitely a fun environment and well organized, so I would recommend Ragnar events to others without hesitation.

Summer Gear: A Quick(ish?) Review of All My Running Gear

Preface: I get no money from any of this, I just really like these products.

Running this winter was actually pretty easy. Running this summer has been anything but. Luckily, I've found some great items that have made my runs go a little smoother and have kept me from passing out.

Most importantly:

WATER

To stay hydrated, I use the Nathan Intensity Hydration Pack. It holds 2L of water and has extra space for toilet paper, snacks, some GUs, my phone, and my wallet. It also has space in the back where you could strap in a towel, rain jacket, or first aid kit. I have done every one of these! Also, it is super stable. I don't have any issues with it bouncing up and down. I love this pack and so far, it has not let me down. If you cannot do the hydration pack (or just don't have any runs longer than 4 miles), the Nathan SpeedDraw Plus Insulated Handheld Water Bottle is my favorite. It has a little pocket that can fit GUs and keys, fits great on your hand, and holds just enough for cooler, shorter runs. Heck, I made it through the Run To Remember Half with this! It just... wasn't as hot.

SUSTENANCE

While I may just fill my pack with water, I'm a bit of a fan of GUs to keep me going. I've definitely noticed a difference between when I use them and when I don't (holy leg cramps Batman!). Some people think GU is gross (which, fair) BUT they just came out with something amazing. GU now makes STROOPWAFELS. Regular stroopwafels are a delicious dessert, but GU Stroopwafels are delicious fuel for my runs and I definitely prefer eating one for a pre-run snack to just actual GU. My favorite right now is the GU Mixed Berry Stroopwafel. These you will not regret. For regular GU (cause I can't keep eating stroopwafels my whole run... OR CAN I???), I like Tri-Berry and Roctane Blueberry Pomegranate. I'm a little more iffy on the taste of the Roctane, but if I have an intense run planned, it definitely works a bit better.

FEET

Socks

Good socks really do make a difference when it comes to whether or not your feet are covered in blisters. I have two favorite pairs: Feetures! Elite Ultra-Light Cushion No-Show Tab Running Socks (Anatomical) and Darn Tough Vertex Tab No Show Ultra Light Cushion Socks. The Darn Tough socks provide a bit more cushion, but I like that the anatomical Feetures! socks really fit my feet well. Both are great, you will not regret the purchase.

Shoes

I run in Newton AHA IIs, but really, everyone has such different requirements for running shoes, you definitely need to go to your local running store and find a pair that works for you. I will strongly recommend my trail running shoes: Salomon Speedcross 3 W. When I first tried them on, it seriously almost felt like I was walking on air. My first run out, I did a 9 mile trail run with no issues. They have fantastic traction and make me feel super secure on the trails. I couldn't ask for anything more in a pair of trail shoes.

Insoles

I used to not wear insoles, but after a run in with a pair of shoes that didn't really work for me, I've been dealing with plantar fasciitis and good insoles have been a godsend. My trail shoes have a pair of Insite Insoles Fusion Elite and the Orthaheel Active Orthotic in my normal running shoes.

CLOTHING

Rain Gear

I ordered a bunch of rain jackets just in case of a downpour and I ended up with the Outdoor Research Helium II Rain Jacket. This was the only one that was remotely cool and seemed to breath a bit while still being waterproof. You'll still be a bit warm, so it's not really worth it if it's just a light drizzle. But if you are like me and hate being soaking wet, this will definitely prevent that and still let you feel some breeze. This jacket also stuffs into it's own pouch and I can shove it on the back of my hydration pack. Perfect for when I'm not sure what the weather is going to be like. Plus, it's easy to stuff in my backpack for a potentially rainy walk home from work!

Hat

Truth: I'm not a fan of their new design, but I do love Oiselle's Mesh Cap. It's light, keeps my hair in line, and folds up when I don't need it.

Bottoms

Only pair of spandex running shorts I can deal with are the UnderArmour React 3s. I've tried others, think I can make them work, then never actually leave the house wearing them. And since Boston is so damn windy, I also end up using them for double duty under most of my dresses. I also recently got a pair of CW-X Stabilyx Tights and they are pretty rad. Definitely comfy enough to wear after a hard run to get a bit of extra compression time in, but also cool enough to wear during summer runs (at least in the morning... probably not in the direct sunlight!). I also love my Physiclo Resistance Capris, which are perfect for when I want to make a run extra hard.

Tops

Surprisingly? No strong feelings with tops. Mostly wear a bunch of UnderArmour and City Sports (RIP) stuff. 

And I think that's it! Hope you have some great runs!

Runner's World Classic Recap: Not Dead Yet

This year was the inaugural Runner's World Classic in Andover, MA. The weekend featured a 5K, 10K, and a half marathon. At first, I was only signed up for the half. However, when my husband mentioned that he wanted to do a few 5Ks with me, I signed him up for the 5K and signed myself up for the hat trick (all of the races!). It was a total of 22.4 miles: 9.3 on Saturday and 13.1 on Sunday. Despite having to get up at 4am both days, this was a great weekend. I cannot recommend these races enough. They were really well organized and there was plenty of food after the race (and a beer if you wanted one). The only downside was that the 10K started an hour after we finished the 5K (and we were pretty slow). Considering the very last person in the 5K finished in an hour, it would've been nice to start the 10K pretty soon after. Especially since there were loads of people doing both.

I'm also realizing that I should maybe not sign up for summer races? Saturday was AWFUL. I mean, nothing they could have done, it was just about 80 degrees. Kevin's not used to running yet, so the heat really did him in and we went a bit slower and took more walk breaks during the 5K. I started off pretty strong during the 10K, but the heat really got to me and I ended up having to take frequent breaks due to feeling unusually weak. Same with the half, even though it was a lot cooler. Sunday was fairly overcast, but it was still really humid and pretty hot for about half the race. There were some hills that I felt like I couldn't make it up.

So how'd I actually do? We finished the 5K in 35:21 and I'm really proud of Kevin for pushing through to the finish. I finished the 10K in 1:03, 222 out of 463 women. The half was 10 sec/mile slower and I finished in 2:15, 166 out of 299 women. My total hat trick time was 3:54:03 and I finished 171 out of 241 participants. Considering how hot it was and the total mileage for the weekend, I'm pretty proud that I finished.

Running in Scandinavia

I was in Scandinavia for 10 days on vacation and it was fantastic. Kevin and I went to Oslo, Stockholm, Malmö, and Copenhagen. Luckily for me, I got to explore the best way: by running. I had 49 miles of runs planned throughout the trip and I. WAS. STOKED. We started out in Oslo and that ended up being my favorite place. There were all these amazing walking paths all throughout the city. I went out with no plan and it was no problem. I passed by multiple waterfalls, a beautiful garden (pictured below), and ended my run going through the Bygdø Royal Manor (the royal farm). It was a gorgeous run and I couldn't have asked for a better place.

Halfway through my Oslo run

Halfway through my Oslo run

Stockholm posed a bit more of a challenge. I ended up just going across the water to Kungsholmen and looping around a bit. It was nowhere near as pretty as my Oslo run, but I did get a nice picture near the water.

Short run in Stockholm

Short run in Stockholm

My 7 miler went much better. I ran around the entirety of Kungsholmen, which provided much nicer views! There was a nice path all around the island which was about 5 miles, so that made it pretty easy to get an even 7!

Views from Kungsholmen

Views from Kungsholmen

Malmö was a great place to run. I ran out to the beach and then ran back through this beautiful garden. Super easy and not too many cars.

Beach AND garden run!

Beach AND garden run!

Copenhagen ended up being my favorite run, but that's mostly because, for the first 14 miles of it, I did a tour with Lena of Running Copenhagen. If I had tried to run in Copenhagen by myself, I think that, I would have been super lost. And just totally bewildered when I saw people still trying to get into clubs at 4am... when I had just woken up. Lena took me all around the city and through Christiana, which was really cool to see. I definitely would recommend Lena's tour! It was so much fun!

Lena and I after 14 miles

Lena and I after 14 miles

B.A.A. 10K Recap: OMG SO HOT

I did the B.A.A. 10K this morning and it was so hot and awful. They said at the beginning that 10,000 people had signed up, but luckily only 7,811 showed up. Small blessings. It surprised me that there were only 900 fewer people than at the 5K, which was such a small dent, I didn't even notice that there were fewer people. It was so crowded that, even though I was waiting in line at the porta-potties when the race started, I still made it into the right corral and started the race with everyone else... 15 minutes after the initial starting gun.

At the start with about 5000 people behind me

At the start with about 5000 people behind me

I do not do well in the heat. It was about 73 degrees and super sunny with no breeze (WTF BOSTON YOU ARE ALWAYS WINDY). I don't really sweat, which is a blessing and a curse, because I overheat like crazy. If I didn't have my hydration pack, I legit think I would have passed out. I felt strong the first two miles and did those sub 9. But then the next two were at 9 minutes and the last two were 9:30+. I really didn't feel good about this race overall, but it definitely felt better organized than the 5K so there's that.

In the end, I finished in 56:11. I finished in top 40% overall and top 27% in my division. Combined with my 5K time, I'm now 70th in my division for the Distance Medley and in the top 26% of women overall. For that, I'm super proud!

On Being An Overly Ambitious Beginning Trail Runner

I've recently been going trail running with run of my friends at dawn (or before). We've only gone twice so far together and it's been an adventure. Our first time out together, we got to the Fells at 4am, had no headlamps, and used our phones to light the trail. We also just had a paper map and kept missing turns, so we ended up going three miles less than we intended due to time. But it was a beautiful morning!

Sunrise over the reservoir in the Middlesex Fells

Sunrise over the reservoir in the Middlesex Fells

The next time we went, we intended to go 15 miles. Still being a very amateur hiker/trail runner, I picked the Skyline Trail in the Blue Hills Reservation because it was easily marked in the app I found on my phone and was about 12 miles long. Seemed not too bad and I thought we'd get some hills. We did... and got some great views.

View from Eliot Tower

View from Eliot Tower

View of Boston from Eliot Tower

View of Boston from Eliot Tower

However, the trail was super tough and rocky. At one point, I wasn't paying attention and fell pretty hard. I tripped at just the right spot so there was a large rock beneath my left knee... so my knee just slammed straight into it. After the shock wore off, I was able to keep running, even though my knee was swelling a bit and both knees were bleeding. However, we met our end when my friend rolled her ankle during a misstep running downhill. Luckily she was able to keep walking and we just took a short cut back to the parking lot. I looked worse at first, but I ended up being the lucky one... she hasn't been able to run the past few days because her ankle has been turning all sorts of crazy colors.

What happens when you don't look where you're going when trail running

What happens when you don't look where you're going when trail running

Have we learned our lesson though? ABSOLUTELY NOT. As soon as we're both back from vacation, we're going right back out. And I can't wait.

Mayflower Brewing Half Marathon Recap

This was a very hilly, hot race. From that perspective, it was a good training run. I now know that I do need 2 liters of water when running long distances on a hot day. Also, that I really need to do more trail runs. However, as a half marathon, it was not that great. My main complaint is that for at least 4 miles, the roads were open to traffic both ways. Routinely we had to cross the road while cars were coming down and it just didn't feel very safe. It was a good after party, but it just wasn't quite worth it. Also, they definitely did not have enough porta-potties. There was a massive line before the start of the race, but then there also weren't enough during the race. I spent 7 minutes just in line waiting to go to the bathroom at around 3.5 miles in. The next one, at 8 miles, looked like the line was probably just as long.

Overall, I ended up finishing in a chill 2:21:30. Glad I did it, but I will not be running this race again.

Run To Remember Half Recap: KILLED IT

That went infinitely better than I thought it would. I didn't get quite enough sleep, but when I woke up, I was excited and feeling good. I was planning on doing around 10 minute miles and felt like that was a good speed that I could keep up (and would cut five minutes off my time). Then I didn't keep with my planned pace...

Because I went a lot faster. I not only PR'd my half marathon, I also PR'd my 10K. I was really worried I went too fast out of the gate and wouldn't be able to keep it up, but I just kept feeling great. I decided to only do every other walk interval (ending up with a 7:1 run:walk) except for miles 9-12, when I did 3:1. I was able to do 6 out of 13 miles at a sub 9min/mile pace. I finished in 2:00:37, almost a full 15 minutes faster than my last one. I did a 9:12 pace, 1:08 faster than my last per mile, and 13 sec per mile faster than the Freedom Run 5K just last year.

I didn't actually win this race... but I sure as hell felt like I did! I finished in the top 40% in my division and top 41% overall.

Figuring Out A Training Plan

I mentioned yesterday that I was going to do a Hal Higdon plan to train up for a marathon. However, I realize that, with my race schedule, I needed to change it to fit my needs. I also had to make sure I wasn't going up in mileage by more than 10% in any given week (generally every other week). I also wanted a plan that I could realistically keep increasing (at that same slow rate) to train up for an ultra. Sometimes the distances are a bit wacky because I have a 5K that weekend, which is definitely a shorter distance than my normal weekend runs. With this plan, I'm also planning that a majority of my half marathons will actually just be at training pace, not race pace. Which I think will be good if I get in that mentality of not trying to go nuts on race day. Here's my plan... interested in any comments anyone has:

Running plan from May 30 to November 13

Running plan from May 30 to November 13

Ok, Now I'm Addicted To River Runs

Since I put a pause on my gym membership (only til June 13), I can finally run before work. Yesterday I did my normal boring MIT to Harvard and back run (~4 miles), but today I upped my game and ran along the Esplanade, which was SORTA BEAUTIFUL.

I did 6 miles, but severely underestimated how far it was to get back when I turned around, so I ended up having to do a few loops. Now I know better!

I think I'm going to start on a marathon training plan. I really like to stay on an actual plan and, right now, I'm just sort of running whatever I want between races. Not the best decision. I decided to go with Hal Higdon's Novice 2 marathon training program. Free and starts with where I'm at right now. I might have to start getting up earlier to do some of these runs, but I'm really looking forward to it! I also just bought a Nathan Intensity hydration pack when I realized this morning that my little water bottle would not get me through long summer runs. I'll follow up with a review!

Running In London

I was in London for the past week and definitely tried to take advantage of it. I ended up running a lot because there were pretty great paths on both sides of the Thames. I ended up doing a total of 33.5 miles and felt pretty great. I also went to workout with Project Awesome London on Friday. They were an awesome group! Definitely live up the name.

We were doing sprints up and down Primrose Hill, doing exercises in between. It was definitely a bit rough because I don't really run hills that often (and I had to run 3 miles to get there). The best part was that the hill gave a great view of the London skyline.

If you're in London, I highly recommend hanging out with them. They were seriously so much fun.

Trail Running

I did a trail run with TARC in the Blue Hills in Milton, MA on Saturday. We went for 7 miles up and down the hills, then a few of us did an extra two miles around the lake. I recently got a pair of Salomon Speedcross 3s to use during Ragnar New England and decided that I needed to break them in (and also start running some trails so I could get used to the hills that I don't encounter in Somerville). I found TARC, had a free Sunday, and decided to join. It was so much fun. If you live in the Boston metro area and are interested in trail running, I would absolutely suggest you join. They did a great job of making sure everyone stayed together (the faster folks would stop and wait up for everyone to catch up) and were just a great group overall. Plus the Blue Hills were great to run in. The hills were great - tough, but not impossible - and the trails were well marked. It was seriously the most fun I've had on a run in a while. And I'm also super sore today! Which is pretty rare coming off a run...

View from the top of Buck Hill (you can sorta see Boston if you look slightly left of center)

Recovery

My blog has been pretty quiet because I haven't really had much to report. I went to Crossfit last week, but I mostly rowed a lot and did a ton of substitutions to go easy on my knees. This week, I'm trying to get back into it. Today I did the following WOD as prescribed and completed 237 total reps:

Tabata 16
(:20 on :10 off)

Box jumps (24/20)
Sit ups
Wall balls
Burpees

As for running, I've got a gait analysis scheduled for Saturday so I can make sure that I'm running correctly. I've also been reading a lot and I think I need to stop being focused on my time and just enjoy my runs. With that in mind, I went on a 6 mile run yesterday, switched up my intervals to 3:1, and slowed down significantly. It went pretty well, but my knee still started hurting around mile 4. I definitely need to get over this hump and get back into actually having enjoyable runs.