Boston Training and Goals

I hope everyone is surviving this week so far.  Work yesterday felt so strange…what’s my password?  Where’s my to do list?  What happened in December?  Tuesday was a blur.  I did manage 7 easy miles outside in the numbing wind.

Onto my Boston training…not surprisingly I’m using the 3:40 FIRST marathon plan.  It worked well for me in the past so I’m going with it.  Each time I modify it even more to fit my needs.

More mileage – hopefully (maybe) I can hit 60 miles this training cycle?  I hit 53 last cycle but I think I was running my easy runs too fast.  If I slowed down I probably could have accommodated higher mileage.  My hard days are really hard, so my 2 easy runs should be really easy.  Of course, this will all depend on how I feel.  Adaptive training 🙂

Strength training – barre and yoga each week.  I think I figured out a schedule that works, which was an issue in the past.  This means 6AM barre class on Wednesday mornings!

Hills, hills, hills – Uphills and downhills!  My LRs will be done on a hilly course and I’ll probably swap out a track or tempo workout every now and then for hill repeats.

Less Garmin-obsessed running – like I mentioned Monday, my track workouts will be based on effort and my easy days (which are now really easy) will be Garmin-free.

As for goals, I want to re-qualify for Boston at Boston.  That means a sub-3:40 which should be doable.   Here’s how I see it…I’ve shaved 30 minutes off my marathon time from May 2010 to September 2011, so what’s an additional 4 minutes?  It won’t be easy, Boston is a tough course, but it’s not impossible!

Another unrelated goal is to eek out a sub-7:00 mile.  6:59 would be acceptable.

This morning is my first time going to barre class before work.  I’m getting changed at the gym and then heading straight to work.  No shower.  The thought of showering at the gym skeeves me out, like I’m back in college.  I don’t sweat that much at barre and I will shower beforehand.  Matt thinks this is gross.  I can guarantee I will be no cleaner after using a communal shower!  I just hope I don’t forget anything important, like my work pants.  If so, wunder unders it is!

Ever shower at the gym?  Is it gross?  I just have flashbacks to dorm living and wearing flip flops in the shower!  

Are you currently training for anything?  If so, what are your goals?


Lehigh Valley Marathon: Week 8 Recap

7 miles easy / 1:05 / 9:17 avg pace

I am more than halfway done this training cycle.  Makes me excited and nervous at the same time.   I hate to complain about the heat again, but it’s really starting to do a number on my confidence.  I know that I can’t do anything about my pace when the humidity is off the charts but I was moving along so well!  I was feeling good, handling more mileage, pulling through on speed work, running (near) marathon pace on long runs and then BAM.  Everything came to a halt.  So. frustrating.

Let’s review…

MON: 7 speed
TUE:  11 easy (7 AM and 4 PM)
WED:  rest
THU:  8 easy
FRI:  17 long
SAT:  10 tempo, MP, MP intervals
SUN:  rest / 20 min yoga video

Highlights ~
1.  Monday’s speed work, before the heat wave kicked in.  This was a tough workout and I was very pleased with my times.
2.  53 miles for the week!
3.  My ability to remain standing during Friday’s 17-miler.  I’m not kidding!  And Operation Hydration was a success!

And the not so good ~
1.   Sunday’s run.  Oh this sucked.  Supposed to be a tempo run (3 miles at 7:44 pace).  There was no way I could sustain that in the heat so I planned on doing a MP tempo.  Riiight, scratch that too.  Apparently MP was too much.  So instead I would run MP for a mile, then recover for a mile, then repeat.  Pathetic.  The heat was a big factor but I was incredibly exhausted from Friday’s run and my legs felt like lead.  I have never been so happy to finish a run.

Onto more positive stuff, I am so looking forward to the weekend!  We are heading to Baltimore for my friend Amanda’s wedding.  I even have Friday off.  I’m squeezing all my runs in Monday to Friday this week so I can take 2 rest (hungover) days this weekend.

Since it is hump day, what are your plans for the weekend?  Any long runs planned?

Lehigh Valley Marathon: Week 2 Recap


7 miles speed

Back to the track this morning!  After laying around on the couch sick for 2 days, I wasn’t sure how this speed session was going to go.  On my schedule was a ladder workout, where I get slightly faster with each interval.  The 1.5 mile warm-up was interesting.  I felt like an old lady dusting off the cobwebs on my joints.  I decided to not worry about pace today and instead just keep myself in the no talk/5K zone for each interval (knowing full well that my pace today wouldn’t be consistent with my normal 5K pace).

1200m at 7:06 pace* — 7:09 actual; not too shabby!
1000m at 7:00 pace* — 7:07 actual
800m at 6:58 pace* — 7:26 actual; that was ugly and really slow
600m at 6:55 pace* — 7:23 actual; clearly I’m tired
400m at 6:50 pace* — 6:44 actual; did that just happen?!  I actually beat my time?!  Maybe there is some sprinter in me after all!
1.5 mile cool-down
*400m rest between each interval

LVM Week 2 Recap
MON:  7 miles tempo
TUE:  6 miles with hill repeats + 1 hour strength training class (yeah!)
WED:  5 miles easy
THU:  8 miles easy
FRI:  yoga FAIL.  Got stuck working through lunch and never made it to the class.
SAT:  15 miles
SUN:  rest/sick/bummed knee

A total of 41 miles for the week.  I love the increased mileage and running 5 days a week.  Also happy that I ventured out of my comfort zone for a ST class.

What I’m Looking Forward To…

A rest day with an easy yoga class at noon!

I was thinking about this summer yesterday and how many fun things we have planned.  So…why not list them?

  • Early morning summer running.  Can’t beat rolling out of bed, throwing on shorts and a tank, and hitting the road.
  • Long runs (do I need to say more?).
  • Summer wedding season!
  • Trips to the Shore for Amanda’s Bachelorette (fun!) and 4th of July weekend (more fun!).
  • Attending the Healthy Living Summit in August.  I couldn’t pass it up since it’s in Philly.  Can’t wait to meet some of my fellow bloggers!
  • Celebrating our 2-year wedding anniversary.
  • Celebrating Matt’s birthday.
  • Running marathon #9 on 9/11 (technically still summer so it counts).
  • Hopefully BQing in marathon #9.
We kick off wedding season this weekend with my friend Camille’s wedding.  I met Camille when I was a grad student at Georgetown.  She is one of the nicest and kind-hearted people I know.  I’m so happy for her and can’t wait to celebrate.

Me, Matt, and Camille at our wedding. We love our Miller Lite.

Dancing away...

What are you looking forward to this summer?

Changing Things Up

8 miles (4 at tempo) / 1:09 / 8:37 avg pace
2 miles @ 7:44 — 8:02, 7:39
2 miles @ MP — 8:42, 8:32


“If you keep doing the same thing, you’ll get the same results”.  So very true when it comes to training for a marathon.  So what will I do differently with this training cycle?  For starters, it’ll be more challenging.  I’m still using the FIRST training plan with the following modifications:

Increase overall mileage
Since NJM was only a month ago I still have a good base built up and plan to build on top of that (starting at ~40 miles per week and going from there).  I’d like to max out at 60 mpw, but not sure if that is possible.  We’ll see.  So in addition to 3 hard runs (speed, tempo, long), I’ll be adding 2 easy runs to get my miles in.

Switching between hill repeats and track workouts
When I trained for Steamtown, I did lots of hilly runs and I felt so strong.  For NJM, I concentrated on flat and fast.  Both worked well for me but I want to combine the two for the Leigh Valley Marathon.  I need speed in order to BQ and I need hill repeats so I can maintain my marathon pace over hills.  So one week I’ll hit the track for intervals and the next week I’ll hit the hills for repeats.

Trail running
Since 12 miles of the Leigh Valley Marathon will be on a trail, I need to be able to maintain a fast pace on gravely terrain.  I’m going to try and do my tempo runs on a trail.

Still aiming for yoga at least once a week and maybe (gasp!) some strength training.

Long runs – some fast and some slow
Usually I do my long runs pretty close to my goal marathon pace.  I still plan on doing some of them but I also plan on slowing down my pace every now and then.   

Hopefully all of this will lead me to a BQ in September!

Review of the FIRST Training Plan

I never mentioned the actual name of the marathon I’m running on 9/11. It’s the Leigh Valley Marathon (or Via Marathon). It’s a point-to-point course starting in Allentown, PA and ending in Easton, PA. The course was designed by the wonderful Bart Yasso! I love Bart!

I wanted to do a review of the FIRST training plan, which I used for the NJ Marathon. For a description of the plan and the modifications I made, please see this post. Overall, I really liked it and will be using it again (with modifications) for the LVM.

What I liked:
1. The FIRST program has specific Boston qualifying plans. For NJM, I used the 3:50 plan and I liked that all my workouts were focused on getting me to run a 3:50 marathon.

2. Nothing but quality workouts. There are 3 key runs per week: speed, tempo, and long. I added a 4th run each week (an easy run) to increase my overall mileage. These key runs were hard but since my overall mileage was lower, my body could handle them.

3. The speed workouts each week nearly killed me; but they absolutely without a doubt made me faster.

4. The tempo runs were manageable and I was able to do them without too much difficultly.

5. I felt the long runs were a little easy. I often ran faster than I was supposed to but I generally do that anyway (see this post for an explanation). My endurance is much greater than my speed and this training plan made that very apparent as I was sucking wind at the track!

6. I only had 1 case of “brick legs”. Usually when I train for a marathon, this happens a few times. Again, I attribute this to less overall mileage.

7. Running 4 days a week allowed more time for yoga, which I desperately needed during this training cycle.

What I did not like:

1. Even though running 4 days a week was a plus, I had to get over feeling like a lazy slug. I have always run 5 days a week, with 2 rest days. But I really wanted to make yoga a top priority so I kept to the 4-days-a-week running regime. With 3 tough runs a week and 1 easy run, I don’t think running a 5th day would have any added value.

2. My overall mileage was low. I had to get over this too. I maxed out at 43 miles per week! My body doesn’t thrive well on high mileage (I consider that to be 60s and 70s) but in previous training cycles I was getting into the 50s. It was hard to not see those numbers climb higher than 43 but I think my legs were thankful.

3. This wasn’t an issue for me but I want to give warning to anyone thinking of using this plan. There is no base building phase. Most plans have you build mileage first (slowly and safely) before you do speed work. With the FIRST plan, you literally “hit the ground running” (pun intended) with speed work. I wouldn’t recommend this plan for beginners. If you don’t have a strong base of 30 miles per week established add about 6 weeks onto this training plan to get your base building time in. You’ll be less likely to get injured.

What training plan are you currently using? Or are you winging it?  I love seeing what plans people use to train. It’s such a matter of preference.

Week 15 Recap


6 miles


8:40 avg pace

First things first, let’s talk about Boston!  Unbelievable, right?  Desiree Davila taking second place and missing first by a mere 2 seconds. Geoffrey Mutai ran the fastest marathon ever, 2:03:02, but it won’t be considered a world record since the Boston course is point-to-point and has a net downhill elevation.  So how fast was Mutai running?  Oh, you know, just your normal 4:30 pace!  I can’t even fathom that amount of speed for 26.2 miles!  Impressive finishes all around.

Kara Goucher came in 5th place with a 1-minute PR just 6 and a half months after having a baby.  Damn!  Check out the Runner’s World post-race interview and video here.

Onto today’s run.  I was supposed to hit the track for my last round of speed work and decided a marathon-paced run would be a better fit.  I just don’t see the point of tiring out my legs with 1000m repeats.  I’d rather practice my goal marathon pace (8:40); which I followed precisely 🙂

Week 15 Recap of NJ Marathon training:
MON:  7 miles easy
TUE:  5 miles speed + yoga
WED:  rest
THU:  rest
FRI:  5 miles tempo (fail!)
SAT:  rest
SUN:  12.5 miles (Penn Relays 20K)

Only 29.5 miles for the week.  I was hoping for 32 miles but Friday’s tempo just didn’t work out as planned.  The good news is my asthma is much better and I’ll still be on antibiotics for another week.  Yeah, no germs can catch me!

Random Wednesday

Rest day!

  • I found out my bib number for the NJ Marathon is 700.  Winning!  Not only is it lucky, it’s an even number!
  • I went back to yoga last night for a 75-minute Vinyasa class with my favorite teacher, Candace.  It was a nice n’ easy class which is exactly what I wanted.  Candace does a ton of swan-dive-forward-folds (sometimes I get dizzy) and always throws in the pigeon pose at the end which makes my glutes/hamstrings happy.
  • Since my plan to cut out all sweets until after the marathon failed miserably, I am going to try portion control (imagine that).  Matt and I don’t have sweets in the house because we have no self-control around them.  So I bought ice cream yesterday (well, 2 actually) and I told Matt that we need to practice portion control and make these 2 cartons last as long as possible.  Surprisingly, Matt agreed!  It’s a good thing we’re both on the same page or we’d be out of ice cream.
  • I never posted these pictures from our DC trip.  Hawk is pretty darn cute…

Friday Favorites

Hooray for a rest day!  And hooray for another one tomorrow.  I’m going to an easy yoga class at lunchtime (the mm hmm lady – she’s growing on me).  We are headed to DC tomorrow and staying until Monday…with Mr. Hawk in tow.  We found a pet-friendly hotel.  Hawk is very excited. Race day weather still looks awesome.  I can’t wait!

It’s your favorite day of the week…time for Friday Favorites…the travel edition!

Matt and I caught the travel bug during our honeymoon.  We went on a Mediterranean cruise and saw a bunch of cities in Europe.  We didn’t care much for the cruise itself, but we loved getting a little sample of Europe and now we have a list of places we would love to go back to.  The following year, we went to Australia.  It was unbelievable.  We spent time in Sydney, Port Douglas (Great Barrier Reef area), and Melbourne.  Next up…


For real!  Matt and I just booked our flights this week!  We always wanted to go there and found amazingly cheap flights too good to pass up.  So we’ll be Ireland-bound in May 🙂

If you’ve been to Ireland, please let me know your “must sees”.  I would love to hear your suggestions!

I included pictures of our favorite places in Europe and Australia.  It was hard to narrow it down since we pretty much enjoyed everything.


Before boarding the cruise ship, we stayed overnight in Barcelona. Our hotel was right on the beach.

Drinks in the El Born district - Barcelona. Notice Matt's drink compared to mine 🙂

Amalfi Coast of Italy - absolutely breathtaking!

Santorini, Greece. I could go on and on about this place...


Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik - spot the orange yoga mat? Heaven!

Venice, Italy


Sydney - when I first saw the Opera House, I was speechless.

Canyoning/abseiling in the Blue Mountains (outside Sydney)

Surf lessons on Bondi Beach

Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef

Great Ocean Drive - south of Melbourne

Pit stop along the Great Ocean Road



7 miles easy

10:00 pace

7 miles on the boring treadmill while watching Teen Mom.  It’s freezing here and doing the rain/snow thing.  I kept the pace real easy since I have an 18-miler on schedule for tomorrow. 

Moving on to more important stuff…welcome new readers!  To say I’m overwhelmed by being yesterday’s featured cat lady would be an understatement!  I’m still in the process of reading all of your comments (thank you!) and plan on responding to each and every one of them (all while stalking your blogs).  To bring you up to speed, I figured I’d include some running fun facts in this post.

  • I’m training for my 8th marathon, the NJ Marathon, on May 1.  I’m thinking of sporting a Snooki-esque bumpit and faux tan for the marathon….to, ya know, blend in.  I kid, I kid…my parents live at the Jersey Shore.
  • You can read about my training plan here.
  • I’m obsessed with the Boston Marathon (trying to qualify, that is).  I don’t plan on qualifying on May 1 (I hope to run a 3:50); just hoping to get one step closer.
  • I LOVE long runs – especially 18-20 milers.
  • I LOATHE speed work but do it each week.
  • I incorporated yoga into my training cycle this time around and it has made a huge difference in my flexibility.  I didn’t realize how tight my hips and hamstrings were from running until I went to a class.

Speaking of yoga, last night I went to RYAH for a 75-min vinyasa class.  Maura was the instructor; I’ve taken her Wake Up Yoga class before and really like her.  Her class last night was kinda intense (holding poses for a long time) and kinda relaxing (letting us stay in child’s pose for just a wee bit longer).  The only problem?  The music!  Didn’t help that I was right next to the speaker either.  I know I tend to fixate on things while practicing yoga but this was like a techno song that never ended (but it was chanting…nonstop).  During savasana all I could concentrate on was “om shanti om shanti om shanti shanti om”.  Over and over.  Eek!  I’m still singing chanting it!

Is it just me or do you fixate on certain things during a yoga class?  Or while running?  Sometimes during races, if I’m iPodless, the sound of feet smacking the pavement gets to me after awhile!

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