Looking Back and Looking Ahead

I debated about whether to write a 2011 recap post.  Last night I decided not to but then today I had this nagging feeling like I should.  2011 was a good year so I should do it justice!

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time you probably already know what I’m most proud of in 2011 – qualifying for Boston at the Lehigh Valley Marathon on 9/11/11.

3 weeks later, I found out that I would be running Boston in 2012.

There were other PRs too.  Cherry Blossom 10-miler (1:19), a hot and humid 5K (23:22 – I need to revisit this!), and a not-what-I-wanted-but-a-PR-nonetheless at the Philly Half Marathon (1:47).

I can’t forget our travels in 2011 either.  San Francisco in February.  Ireland in May.

Other good stuff:  I started a blog and “officially” started my own little coaching business.

Instead of resolutions, I prefer to make goals.  I want to document them here on the blog so, one year from now, I can see my progress (or lack of).  In no particular order, here’s what I’d like to accomplish in 2012:

1.  Run a sub-3:40 at Boston and BQ again (more on this later).

2.  Study and pass the CSCS exam.

3.  Revamp the blog and switch to self-hosting.

4.  Grow my coaching business.

I think that is enough!  I also don’t like to be unrealistic!

Happy New Year!

Tell me something you would like to accomplish in 2012 (it can be anything)…


WHYY 12K Recap

Well, today wasn’t my day and that’s OK.  Really, it is.  I tend to beat myself up over races but this was only a 12K and I’m going to cut myself some slack.

FACT #1:  I mentally checked out at the turnaround.
This was an out-and-back course (out-and-back on West River Drive is never fun).  My pace was feeling hard and, as I predicted, I was hating life.  I went around the turning point and just let my pace slip.  I was done.

FACT #2:  I lost a bit of speed since my last marathon.
The LVM was 2 months ago and I’m currently toeing the line between maintenance running and maintaining my speed.  I have been training non-stop for the past 2 years and this is the most lag time I’ve had between marathons (Boston training doesn’t start until around Christmas).  I need to allow myself some down time….some time away from weekly speed work.  So it’s only natural that I lost some quickness.

FACT #3:  I really need to get my iPod fixed.  I generally run without music but there are some races where music is a necessity (like today).  My iPod has been broke since the NJ Marathon last May!

FACT #4:  I can’t wait to run an ultra!  I just need to hang in there with the speed work for another couple of months until after Boston.

FACT #5:  I need to reevaluate my goals for the Philly Half next weekend…or maybe I’ll have a better day next Sunday!

Here are the Garmin stats.  A 12K is 7.45 miles so I didn’t do too bad running the tangents.  Clearly, if I held back more in the beginning I probably would have done better.  Mile 6 makes me laugh….yeah, that’s marathon pace!


The best part of today’s race?  Hanging out with Sara, Trish, and Ann and having a delicious brunch of french toast with Trish afterwards.

Tomorrow is most certainly a rest day too 🙂


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.   

Back On Track

6 miles
*3 x 1200 @ 10K pace…a mini speed session.  

I was winded during Tuesday’s tempo run (3 miles at 8:00 pace).  Breathing labored, wishing the run was over, and hating life.  That kind of run.  I kept thinking how the hell am I going to run faster than this next month (at the Philly Half)?  And…how out of shape did I manage to get in 4 short weeks post-marathon?

My 4 weeks after the Lehigh Valley Marathon looked like this:
Week 1 – race a half marathon (bad idea)
Weeks 2 and 3 – take it easy because of bad idea (and by “take it easy” I did run…just 2-3 times a week and nothing over 6 miles)
Week 4 – 34 miles of easy runs

I’m not out of shape.  Seeing it written out in black and white makes it more clear.  You’re supposed to rest after a marathon, lay off the speed work, and just enjoy not training for a bit.


It took me sooo long to get my speed to this point, I’m terrified of losing it.  I worked so hard and I want to further build on the foundation that I have now.

So I made it back to the track today to prepare for the Philly Half.  I’m staying away from the crazy speed work I once did (running until my lungs screamed).  For now, 10K pace is adequate and will allow me to improve and maintain, which is all I can really ask for.

AND I’m chalking that tempo run up to a bad run day.  Yep, just like a bad hair day.

Have you ever been afraid of losing fitness, endurance, speed, etc. after a race that you trained months for?  I must admit, I’m a little nutso about it right now.  

I’m Running The Boston Marathon (it’s official)!

OK, OK…I know…enough of the Boston talk!  But I promise this post won’t be whiny.

It has been a long 2 1/2 weeks since this happened…

Thanks Amanda for the video!  Pay no attention to my bad form.

But I finally received my acceptance email from the B.A.A. on Thursday (at 2:11pm, not that I was waiting or anything).  What did it take?

6:  emails to the B.A.A. from me
4:  phone calls to the B.A.A.
1:  fax to the B.A.A.
1:  email from the LVM race director* to the B.A.A.
1:  email from the LVM race timer to the  B.A.A.
*this email came from Gerry Yasso (yes, Bart’s brother).  Bart designed the LVM course.  I love Bart Yasso and now his brother is pretty awesome as well.   

I cannot believe it’s finally official!

AND, I cannot believe how lucky I am.

  • After the NJ Marathon (May 2011), I knew I could BQ.  I was lucky enough to get another shot at BQing and found a marathon within driving distance the day before Boston 2012 registration opened.  Talk about down to the wire.
  • There was hurricane Irene, then more flooding, and 90% humidity leading up to the race.  I was lucky enough to get a cool and overcast day with little to no mud.
  • Then the unthinkable happened, Boston registration was still open on September 19th and I was lucky enough to register.

Little did I know that I was about to get even luckier


One second slower (say I had a violent sneeze during Mile 24) and I would not be running the Boston Marathon.

This is a dream come true!  There are no words to express how happy I am right now!

Boston will be my 10th marathon.  What a way to ring in the double digits!

PS – My running twin, Cindi, is going to kick ass at the Twin Cities Marathon on Sunday.  Stop by and wish her the race of a lifetime!

Boston Update: Thursday Edition

If you want to hit “mark all as read” in your Google Reader because you are sick of hearing about Boston, I don’t blame you.  I’m pretty damn sick of it myself.

The update is that I still don’t know.  I make daily calls to the B.A.A. (I swear there is an audible groan when they hear my voice).  I send emails and faxes.  Has it helped speed up the process?  Nope.

Yesterday I was told there were 300 runners in my situation (most of them ran international races) and they hope to get through them yesterday and today and let us know on Friday.  I was told they are not giving away my spot; just checking that my finish time was not falsified.  They have 2 emails (which I also faxed to them) from the LVM stating that my finish time is 3:43:46.  What the hell more do you need?

Maybe I’ll hear today?  I’m not holding my breath.  Take your damn time, B.A.A.

In the meantime, I’m trying to focus on other things.  Like the fact that I’m running a 5K this weekend with my niece, Sarah (her second 5K!).

Sarah's first 5K

A Quick Update On Boston…

The update is that I still don’t know and may not know if I’m officially in for some time (officially is the key word here).  Most runners found out yesterday if they were accepted or not.  I have yet to receive an email.  All I know is the cut-off time for my age and gender is 3:43:46 which is exactly my finish time at the Lehigh Valley Marathon.


See the time for the 35-39 age group?  Through and including 3:43:46?  So technically, I’m in (by the skin of my teeth)!  How incredibly lucky is that?

There appears to be an issue verifying my finish time.  I have spoken and emailed the B.A.A. twice today.  They cannot use the posted times on the LVM website for verification (I asked).  The LVM does not give out finishers’ certificates (which the B.A.A. would accept for verification).  I also emailed the race director of the LVM to see if he/she can help in anyway.

The second time I spoke with the B.A.A. she said it may take up to 4 weeks to verify my time.  I burst into tears (thankfully, I’m working from home).  It has been a stressful 2 days and that was the last thing I wanted to hear.

I know my finish time meets the requirements but I cannot celebrate and be happy about it until I receive an acceptance email from the B.A.A.  

I feel like I am doing everything in my power to help out and move things along.  I guess I just have to wait some more 😦

Rant n’ Rave

4 miles easy

BOSTON UPDATE:  I should know by today or tomorrow if I’m in (or out, but I’m trying to think positive, so let’s just focus on the “in”).  My stomach is in knots and I’m terrified.  My BlackBerry will not leave my side today or tomorrow and every time it blinks, I’m going to say a little prayer that it’s the B.A.A. giving me good news.  Fingers crossed…

Back in July, me and my friend Sara decided to sign up for the Great Urban Race – Philly.  Think Amazing Race but on a much smaller scale.  We both have wanted to do this type of race for awhile and were excited.  We even came up with a great team name – Rally Girls, after Friday Night Lights (we are huge fans).  Loooong story short, the Great Urban Race sucks.  I successfully registered but Sara could not (it kept charging her for 2 participants).  Sara called and emailed the GUR staff numerous times and, essentially, they could not fix their registration issue.  Sara even asked if they could do something manually if she provided her credit card numbers.  Nope.  GUR’s solution?  Come down on race day and we can register you for $60 (the late registration fee, because it was our fault we weren’t registered on time).  Hell no.

Since I was the only Rally Girl registered and the rules are you need 2 team members to race, I asked for a refund.  They refused.  So, for what it’s worth, I’m blasting them on my blog.  Consider yourself warned if you sign up for a Great Urban Race event.

Back in June, Molly and Al from races2remember sent me a pace band for the Lehigh Valley Marathon.  I love myself a pace band and fully intended to use a 3:45 band for the LVM.  These aren’t ordinary pace bands though.  Split times are based on the elevation profile of the marathon you are running.  Races2remember staffers run marathons all across the country to “test out” the course (by the way, this would be my dream job).  So you get a pace band with realistic split times based on downhills and uphills.  Their list of marathons (and half marathons) is extremely comprehensive.  The LVM is a very small race, and it was listed.

You can get a set of 3 pace bands for $7.50, so you can mix and match finish times.  I would highly recommend them if you are into using pace bands.

Got any rant or raves to share on this Monday?  

*I was sent a pace band at no cost in exchange for my review; however, my opinions are my own.  

Thursday Thoughts

Since I’ve been rather verbose lately, I’ll keep this short and sweet.

Race fees are expensive, so is it too much to ask for a race T that fits?!  My pile of ill-fitting race Ts is growing.  I get the appeal of a unisex size  – it’s much easier to order and cheaper.  When I see that sizes are unisex I generally get a XS.  What usually happens is this…

Thanks LVM!

I end up with a Youth XL, which is wide and short (this one was just large in general and oddly tight on my neck).  I will never wear this shirt!

But sometimes, they get it right (thank you Philly RnR Half).  This is a proper unisex XS…

Someone wanted in on this picture

Is the word “Boston” everywhere or is it because I’m obsessed?  Last week my neighbor asked how my marathon went.  He was wearing a Boston T-shirt (kinda of ironic).  I went food shopping on Monday and there was a song about Boston playing.  I saw a truck the other day and all it said on the back was “Boston”.  I’m going crazy and I need to know NOW!

I’m still eating like I’m running 50 miles a week.  I may need an intervention or that LVM shirt will fit me.  Thankfully the “fun run” period is almost over and then it’s back to training.

What are your feelings on race Ts?  For the amount of money we pay, I think they should have women’s sizes.  


Thank you for all the incredible comments on my post yesterday.  I think Alyssa said it best…

I thought all BQers were naturally speedy and ran sub-4 marathons without even trying.

That’s a myth!  I used to think the same thing.  This is exactly why I wrote that post – to show you that an average runner can BQ!

How’d I do it?  Let’s start with the physical part first.

Know what works for you
When I’m coaching someone, I often tell them that I made every mistake in the book so they don’t have to.  I really think I did.  Lots of trial and error.  But it made me a smart runner.  I know what my body can handle and what it can’t.  I know which training plans will work for me and which ones won’t.  I know when to back off and rest and when to kick it up a notch.

Listen to your body and keep a training log.  After each training cycle and race, jot down what worked and what didn’t.  Review often and look for any patterns.

Marathon-paced long runs
I love me some marathon-paced long runs!   I wrote a post awhile ago explaining my reasoning for not doing long, slow distance long runs here.  LSD does not work for me.  I gave it a fair shot.  My coaching certification is through RRCA and they heavily stress LSD long runs for everyone – beginners to elite.  I 100% agree with LSD long runs for beginners who need to build an adequate endurance base.  But, if you have a time goal in mind, you need to incorporate some MP miles into your long runs.  For the simple reason that practice makes perfect.

Speed work (FIRST training plan)
I used the FIRST training plan for my last 2 marathons (with modifications – I added in some easy runs for more mileage).  I definitely credit it with helping me BQ.  Before the NJ Marathon, I went to the track here and there but I wasn’t consistent.  I’ve been doing speed work consistently for the past 9 months and the results are astounding.  My marathon pace dropped significantly.  And I saw results quickly.

Consistency is key here.  Pick a day each week and dedicate it to speed work.  It’s easiest to do on a track but any flat, paved path (free of traffic) will do.  And don’t think you have to run all-out…that is a misnomer.  You can do intervals at 10K or half marathon pace.  For my final weeks leading up to the Lehigh Valley Marathon, I kept my intervals at 10K pace because I found myself overstriding (and subsequently hurting my hamstring) when I did intervals at 5K pace.

2-week taper
This training cycle was the first time I experimented with a 2-week taper.  And I will never go back to a 3-week taper again!  For me, it’s more mental than anything.  I had a good 22-miler 2 weeks before the LVM.  The day of the race I kept thinking that all I had to do was repeat the run that I did only 2 weeks before.  It boosted my confidence significantly.

Before you try a 2-week taper, think about how long it takes you to completely recover from a 20 mile run.  If it takes awhile, I would err on the side of caution and stick with a 3-week taper.  You don’t want to have any lingering effects of that last 20-miler come race day.

Train for the worst case scenario
I learned this the hard way during the Pocono Marathon.  Know the marathon course.  Look at the elevation profile.  Ask people who ran the race in previous years (sidenote:  take their advice with a grain of salt.  A big hill to some is a little hill to others and vice versa).  If there are small hills, train for big hills.  It will only help you come race day.

Now for the mental part…

Break it up into small chunks
When I started to get closer to my BQ time, I looked at each marathon as a way to inch closer and closer to my ultimate goal.  My goal for Steamtown was to break 4:00 hours.  Then my goal for NJM was to hit 3:50…and finally BQ (3:45) at LVM.  This made it much more manageable and less daunting.

Such a powerful word.  Believe in yourself AND in your training.  If you think you can, you can.  If you think you can’t, you can’t.

Be present
This tactic worked well for me at LVM.  Instead of thinking ahead to the later miles (i.e., the last 6.2), I forced myself to focus on the current mile and mastering it.  It can get overwhelming to think of how many more miles you have and how you are going to maintain MP, blah, blah, blah.  It’s a vicious cycle of self-doubt.  If you find yourself going down this road, snap out of it (during the LVM I audibly said “stop”) and regain your focus.

Phew!  I had lots to say.  If you made it through this post, kudos…you deserve a gold star!

%d bloggers like this: