The Snow Shuffle and Boston Week 3 Recap

An alternate title:  Separating the Crazy from the Sane.

I woke up Saturday morning determined to get 17 miles in – snow, blizzard, ice storm, what have you.  I woke up at 6:50AM, checked Twitter, and was surprised by all the “I’m treadmilling it today and getting my 20 miles done” tweets.  Crap, is it that bad out?  I checked outside and was surprised we got so much snow – about 3 inches.  Usually the weather people are way off.

I couldn’t imagine running for 17 miles on the TM, so I bundled up, and prepared myself mentally for the challenge.  I got myself out the door at 7:30 into the freezing rain.  It wasn’t terribly cold but it was tough to run – even with my YakTrax on.  The snow was deep.  The paved trail that I usually run on clearly states “no winter trail maintenance” and they mean it.  It pisses me off since they mow the lawn once a week in the summer but they can’t drop a plow and remove the snow in the winter.  Running on an unplowed trail wasn’t working.  I was shuffling along and my stride was all messed up.  There was no way I could maintain this for 17 miles.

So I found a 1-mile stretch that was plowed and managed to run around it 7 times, looking like a complete ass in the process.  By now my Garmin, my tights, my jacket, my hat, and my (right) eyelid were getting icy.  My eyelid was really starting to sting too.  I waved the white flag, ran the 1/2 mile back to my house, and decided to prepare myself mentally for another challenge – 9.5 miles on the TM.

I watched Leap Year while on the TM and tried to transport myself back to Ireland.  It helped for the first 3 miles.  After that I was just antsy and miserable.  I have no idea how people run 20 miles on the TM.  I’m in complete awe of them.

7.5 miles in the snow at 9:40 pace and 9.5 miles on the TM at 8:53 pace.  Done and done!

Boston Week 3 Recap
MON:  8mi speed
TUE:  8mi tempo with 5 miles at MP (8:28, 8:11, 8:12, 8:16, 8:07).  I experimented with doing 2 hard days back-to-back and it wasn’t too bad.  Those MP miles felt easier then they did last week.
WED:  barre class
THU:  rest!
FRI:  6mi easy with 5 short hill repeats at the end
SAT:  17 loooooong miles
SUN:  6mi easy

45 miles total for the week.

How did you deal with the snow and running this weekend?  If you live in the South or San Francisco and had perfect weather, I don’t want to hear it 😉

Does your favorite running route get plowed or do you have to get creative?  


Being Flexible and Boston Week 1 Recap

When I first started training for marathons and knew very little about myself as a runner (or really anything about marathon training), I would follow a set training plan.  All 16 weeks planned out in black and white.  This type of training is beneficial for beginners, as long as you are listening to your body and pushing when appropriate and resting when you need it.  My approach to training now is drastically different then it was back then.

Every Sunday, I plan out my running schedule for the week.  I’m using the FIRST plan so in a way those 16 weeks are planned out but I modify the plan so much it’s never set in stone.  Things I consider:

  • Am I busy this week?  Do I have stuff to do after work or during the weekend?
  • What’s the weather like (especially in the winter)?  If there is even a hint of snow, I will finagle my schedule to get all my key runs in before the snow hits.
  • What was my total mileage last week?  How much should I increase it this week or decrease if it’s a drop back week?
  • When will I strength train this week?
  • How am I feeling overall?  How did my runs go last week?  Did I hit all my key workouts?

All of these factors go into my planning.  The only things really set in stone are my track workouts and long run mileage.  Everything else I decide on the Sunday prior.  Even the days I do track, tempo, and easy runs change each week (although I try and get track work done on Mondays to get it out of the way).  I love the flexibility this gives me and my training has improved so much.

Boston Week 1 Recap
I’ll call week 1 a success!  Aside from my failed tempo run and yoga fail (I just couldn’t get my butt there on Sunday – I have no better excuse than that), I was happy with my long run on Saturday.

MON:  3 x 1-mile repeats
TUE:   7 easy
WED:  barre class
THU:  rest
FRI:  6 pseudo-tempo miles
SAT:  13 (avg pace – 8:37).  I totally under dressed for this run.  I started running at 7:30 and it was bitterly cold (it later went up to 60 degrees!).  I had a thin, long-sleeved tech shirt and cheap Target stretchy gloves.  I thought my hands were going to freeze and fall off.  I even stopped into a bathroom to use the hand dryer to warm them up (I hate stopping during long runs too but this was so necessary).
SUN:  6 easy

38 total miles for the week 🙂

Do you follow a set schedule or plan your runs weekly like me?

Ever think you were going to get frostbite during a run?  Once my hands get cold, it’s all downhill for me.  It actually gets painful and I can’t concentrate.  I do use hand warmers sometimes but apparently didn’t think it was necessary on Saturday.  

Effort based speed work

Boston training started off with a bang – mile repeats.  My nemesis.  I knew this was coming.  I’ve used the FIRST training plan for my last 2 marathons and I always start with mile repeats.  I was nervous.  I was worried.  I always think that I can’t do it.  Speed work makes me feel insecure and a little nutty.

On top of my nervousness, I checked the weather last night and saw 20mph winds.  Perfect.  I woke up a 4:30 this morning  and could hear the trashcans blowing around my street.  By 7:00 I was at the track (bonus – I guess the wind scared everyone away because I had the track to myself!).

My training plan called for 3×1-mile repeats at 7:02 pace.  The good news is that I only had to do 3 of them.  The bad news is that I had to do them fast.  Currently, 7:02 pace is pretty much all-out for me…considering I have yet to bang out a 21:xx 5K time.

I decided to do things a little different and NOT look at my Garmin during the repeats.  Effort-wise I knew what a 7:02 pace entailed:  I would be in the “no talk” zone and my breathing would be labored and quick.  I don’t need a Garmin to confirm that feeling!

1st repeat:  7:10
2nd repeat:  7:08
3rd repeat:  7:11

Overall, not too bad considering the wind!  They weren’t 7:02 pace but at least they were consistent.  Even though my legs felt tired on the last repeat I kept my effort level up (judged by my labored breathing).  I can 100% guarantee that if I went by my Garmin I would have (1) ran slower and (2) would not have been as consistent.

Another perk to ditching the Garmin during speed work?  I hate when it’s still dark and I have to constantly keep checking (and lighting up) my Garmin to see if I’m on track.  It’s such a waste of energy.

Day 1 done and I’m pretty damn pleased!

Off to enjoy my last day of vacation.  I’m not so pleased about that 😦

‘Tis The Season

Last week it was in the 60s and I was running in shorts.  This week, treadmill running made an appearance.


Don’t get me wrong, nothing is better than running outside.  Nothing.  I have no idea how (or why) people run on a treadmill year round.

I can’t complain – my treadmill is in my basement in front of a large TV.  I can watch any show or movie I want with the volume jacked all the way up.  This helps…but not all the time.  Some days I just can’t bring myself to run on it.

This week I’ve been pretty busy at work and had to get in early (7:30ish).  I’ve opted for treadmill runs on both Monday and Tuesday.  I do have certain runs that I can do on the treadmill and certain runs I refuse to do on a treadmill.  It’s very scientific…

– easy runs of no more than 4-5 miles
– speed work

– long runs
– tempo runs
– longer easy runs



I could never train for a distance race solely using the treadmill.  It’s just too easy.  You never learn to pace yourself, deal with varying weather conditions and terrain, and run downhill.  You reap so many more benefits by running outside.

Treadmill – yay or nay?  

If you use a treadmill are there certain runs you refuse to do on it?  


7 miles
*6 x 800m at 1oK pace (7:30 pace)

Things that are making me smile today…

1.  An unoccupied track this morning!  Last week there was a team there practicing at 6:30AM.  Totally foiled my plans.

2.  A great Halloween with Matt and Hawk.  

3.  Leftover Halloween candy

4.  The Philly Half Marathon is 20 days away.  I’m itching to race again!

5.  Fall weather!  Rumor has it by the middle of the week it’ll be back in the high 50s/low 60s.  No more snow!

What’s your favorite Halloween candy?  I would have to say Reese’s cups are the best.  And 3 Musketeers bars.

How much candy did you eat?  We only had 1 trick-or-treater (unreal!) and a bag of candy leftover.  You do the math…


7 miles
*Pseudo speed work.  I went to the track this morning and it was occupied…at 6:30AM?!?!?  Peeved, I drove home and attempted a speed workout on my usual paved bike path.  I managed 3 x 1-mile repeats at HM pace.  I can’t do speed work without a track.  I need to be able to count down the laps! 

Last night I went to the chiropractor for the first time.

Remember how I raced the Philly RnR Half the week after my marathon and got all sorts of tightness in my right hamstring?  Well, it’s still there.  It comes and goes.  The 2 weeks of rest I took helped but my right hamstring, hip, and glute just feel off.  Hard to explain.  I’m not in pain; my right side just feels abnormal compared to my left.  The tightness is directly proportional to how fast I run.  The faster I run, the tighter my hammie gets (I’ve been conscious of my overstriding too).  Since I’m not in pain, I’ve been running but I’m keeping my overall mileage low and not doing all-out speed work.  And I’ve been icing, foam rolling, and yoga-ing.

I decided that I want to nip this in the bud before it became an injury, especially with 2 races coming up in November.  I have heard such great things about ART but I wasn’t sure if I was a candidate since I’m not really experiencing pain.  I chose a chiropractor that performs ART over a physical therapist since my insurance covers it and I didn’t need a prescription from my primary care doctor to make an appointment.

Fast forward to last night.  First, I couldn’t believe that people were getting treated right in front of everyone (it’s a small office).  People are laying down on these crazy beds right near the waiting room.  And these people looked like they were in so much pain!  Ice packs, traction, etc.  Scary!  I got the whole work-up (x-rays, foot analysis, my oh my) and then laid down on a crazy bed.  The doctor immediately told me to put both of my arms out in front of me (if I was standing up, think of the mummy walk) and resist while he tries to push my arms down.  My right arm was fine; I was able to resist.  My left not so much.  I tried with all my might but I could barely keep him from pushing my left arm all the way down.  Strange.  Then he did something with my feet and my left was hanging lower than my right.  Hmmmm.  He did an adjustment to my left arm and then he tried to push it down again and it didn’t budge.  I was shocked!  I was pretty skeptical going into the appointment but maybe this will work???

I’m going back next Thursday for another appointment to discuss my x-rays and possible ART.  I just want to be in tip top shape for my upcoming 12K and the Philly Half.

Have you ever been to a chiropractor?  I’m trying to keep an open mind about it…
Do you prefer the track for speed work?  I’m OK with the treadmill too, at least it passes the time quickly.   

A 2-Week Hiatus

Yesterday marked the end of my 2-week running hiatus.  Odd, right?  Since my September was supposed to be filled with fun runs.

After the Philly RnR Half, which I foolishly raced the week after my marathon, my right hamstring was tight.  My legs were not ready for the final 3 miles at 10K pace but I got greedy.  I wanted another PR.  I was on a roll, right?

After the RnR Half, I could barely bend down to touch my right knee.  Normally I can touch my feet, and, on a good day, I can even do forehead to knee.  I knew I pissed off my hamstring big time.

My right hamstring gets tight after speed work, due to overstriding.   Once my pace drops to around 7:30, I lead heavily with my right foot, extended it way out in front of me, and heel strike like crazy.  A little foam rolling after speed work and I’m usually good to go.  But not this time, hence the 2-week break and lots of foam rolling, ice, and rest.

A little TLC went a long way since I was OK at Saturday’s 5K 🙂  Monday’s run was OK too…just some residual tightness but nothing like 2 weeks ago.  Yay!

The Philly Half is 6 weeks away and I need to get back to the track.  Since the tight hamstring only rears its ugly head at sub-8:00 pace, I’m hesitant to hit the track for speed work too soon.

What do I do when I don’t know what to do?  I make a plan…

  • continue to take it easy this week (no speed work)
  • go to yoga this week
  • get a massage (I really need someone to dig deep into my hamstring)
  • and, the BIG one…work on not overstriding.  Keep my feet underneath me (my center of gravity) and take quick, short strides.
This YouTube video illustrates overstriding perfectly (I find this completely fascinating).  I don’t think I’m as bad as runner #2…maybe more like runner #4.

Do you overstride?  Yes, no, maybe so?  I always have but it was never a problem for me until I started running faster.  Instead of increasing my leg turnover, I increase my stride length in order to pick up the pace.  Not good at all.  

what we want vs. what we have

6 miles speed
*6 x 800m at 10K pace.  It was freezing this morning!  OK, that’s a slight exaggeration but it felt amazing out.  I cannot wait for Fall running weather.   

Don’t we always want what we don’t have?  Aren’t we supposed to be grateful for what we have and make the most of it?  Absolutely, but that doesn’t mean we can’t dream or make a list.  Here are some of my current “wants”.

Want:  bangs
What I Have:  curly hair
Yeah, there’s no mixing the two.  Kinda like oil and water.   I would also like to run my fingers through my hair on occasion but they would get stuck.  Actually, I love my curly hair (I never straighten it) because it’s different and, most of the time, pretty low maintenance.

Want:  long, lean legs
What I Have:  short, muscular legs
So my legs will never look like Kara Goucher’s.  But they power me through marathons and totally came through on last week’s 22-miler.  This might be the worst picture ever, by the way.

Want:  a career involving running (talking, writing, blogging, and most of all, coaching)
What I Have: a job
I’m fortunate enough to even have a job but that doesn’t mean I can’t complain!  I’ll get to the running career someday…baby steps.  At least I’m lucky enough to spend a good deal of time outside my job coaching.  That’s where my passion lies and that’s what I will do someday…for a job and career.

Want:  a pair of TOMS wedges
What I Have:  not a pair of TOMS wedges
This isn’t the best “I want vs. I have” but I’ve been eyeing these shoes up for awhile.  And then Holly had a pair on at the HLS and raved about how comfortable they are.


Want:  to run the Boston Marathon in 2012
What I Have:  a slim-to-none and crappy chance of even registering
So this is my biggest want, obviously.  If When I qualify on 9/11/11, it won’t be by more than 5 minutes (i.e., 3:40 or sub-3:40), which is the rumored time you might need in order to get priority registration.  I could worry about that now or I could put that energy into qualifying and leave the stuff that is out of my hands to fate.

Now it’s your turn.  Give me a current “want” vs. “have”…or two!

Please keep voting for RTLR for CBS Philly’s Most Valuable Blogger (click here to vote)!

Running Etiquette

7 miles speedwork
*1000m, 2000m, 1000m, 1000m – all done at 10K pace (7:30-7:40) with less than 400m rest interval.  I loved doing intervals at 10K pace.  What a treat compared to 5K pace!  My breathing felt smooth and controlled.  

When you go out for a run, do you generally keep a respectable distance between you and the runner in front of you? I always do and treat it like I would driving – I don’t generally drive up someone’s ass so why would I run up someone’s ass? I thought this was plain and simple running etiquette but I’m not so sure after this weekend. (Note: I’m not talking races, just training runs).

Situation 1 (Friday’s long run)
I was on my first mile and I could hear feet slapping and breath sounds coming closer. I was expecting the sounds to pass me but they just hung around…for awhile. I immediately start to get annoyed for 2 reasons: (1) if I can hear you breathing, you are way too close and either need to pass me or back off; (2) I start to get a little nervous when it’s a male and I’m running by myself – you should never run that close to a female running alone! I finally decided to slow down and let him pass. Thankfully he diverged onto another part of the trail.

Situation 2 (Sunday’s ugly tempo run)
There was a guy ahead of me for a few miles (I was keeping my distance behind him). He started to slow down and I decided to pass him. As I pass him he speeds up (errrrr!), as I slow down he slows down. I dig deep (remember the run was ugly) and pick up the pace to try to get rid of him.  Not surprisingly, he keeps up with me. THEN he tells me that he is not being creepy, it’s just that I’m keeping a good pace for him!!  I shoot him a weak smile and try to ignore him. I “paced him” for another mile until he took off in another direction. He was being creepy in my book.

So what gives? Did both these guys break running etiquette? I think so.

Do you keep a respectable distance behind other runners?

Lehigh Valley Marathon: Week 9 Recap

8 miles speed
*3 x (2 x 1200 in 5:18):  1st set (5:10, 5:05); 2nd set (5:04, 5:09); 3rd set (5:13, 5:16).  Not great in terms of consistency but I did beat 5:18 on each interval.

MON:  7 speed — total fail.  I think I eeked out 3 miserable mile repeats and called it a day.  My legs were so tired.
TUE:  12 total — 8 tempo AM (ended up being a decent run) + 4 easy PM
WED:  7 easy
THU:  easy unplanned rest day
FRI:  20 long — very happy about this run!
SAT:  4 easy
SUN:  rest

So 50 miles for the week.  I wanted to do more but my legs would not cooperate.  I was going to force the easy run on Thursday but I’m glad I didn’t.  I think Friday’s 20-miler would have suffered.

I’ll end with a funny story.  Yesterday I was running and I ran into (pun intended) someone I used to coach last summer (I worked with Fleet Feet Sports to train a group of runners for the Philly Rock ‘n’ Roll Half).  We chatted about what we are training for, etc.  When I told him I was trying to BQ he asked what time I needed.

Me:  3:45.
Him:  Oh, that’s not so bad.
Me (sarcastically):  Oookaayyy.
Him:  Well I guess that’s fast for you…
Me:  (more sarcastically):  Thanks a lot.
Him (sensing my increasing sarcasm):  Well, a guy would have to run it in 3:15.
Me:  You are comparing apples to oranges.  Guys run faster.  

Apparently BQing is easy!   Don’t you love when people who never ran a marathon make comments about pace and time?!  I don’t encounter this often but I would love to tell people to go run a marathon and then come talk to me.  I’m sure they’ll change their tune!

Have you ever received any comments from the peanut gallery of non-runners?  Does it irk you?  

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