Summer Running, Volume 2

I’m currently rethinking all my August/September races after getting hit with Covid July 7. My husband caught it and brought it back from a work trip to Indiana. His worst symptoms were that Tuesday and Wednesday but I didn’t feel a thing until Thursday night when fatigue hit me fast. I tested positive the next morning and spent all weekend at home.

I wisely took some time off of running (and the gym) then traveled to Oregon after I was negative. I did a test run on the 16th in Eugene, then have slowly returned to lifting and (slower, shorter) running since back in Connecticut.

Willamette River in Eugene

My current plan is to run the Richmond Half November 12 but do a few local races as supported long runs. I really wanted to try Hartford and the SoNo (South Norwalk) Half. I’ve done the full Richmond Marathon and the 8K and am excited to try the half. My July miles/base sucks but hopefully I can get it back in August.

Me with iconic former NYCM Race Director Peter Ciacia

I have a quiet August and September then am traveling to the Bay Area for work October, DC for fun later October, then Boston for work early November (right after NYCM). Looking forward to a few runs in different places! I’ll hopefully rebuild a decent base in August.

Running in Greece

Now for a little departure (ha!) from my 10K/speedy summer training block. We were in Greece May 6-15 for our honeymoon (had a redeye on the 5th) and I walked a fair amount, plus got a few runs in.

Athens:

After the first day exploring, I was more comfortable with my surroundings and could tell which neighborhoods had more tourists (certainly near the Acropolis) and which were more business-heavy. We cut through the National Gardens when walking to our hotel, the Royal Olympic Hotel, so I gave it a try for a run early the next morning before we flew to Santorini. The hotel had a gym but you had to reserve space in it (due to Covid) and I wanted to explore.

Good call. There was a running path along one side and going around the palace, Parliament, and gardens made for a perfect 1.3 mile loop. 7am was still mostly other runners and some dog walkers, so I felt like I could be in a city park anywhere, except for all the soldiers guarding the palace and historical sites, some in very traditional dress. I went again on the day we flew out of Athens, at 7am on the 15th. I fell in love with Athens in bloom; the scent of orange blossom trees (planted everywhere downtown but apparently their fruit isn’t as good as the ones meant for consumption in orchards) and honeysuckle combined together. I actually went on the hunt for a perfume of those two after I got back! May was such a good time to visit; temps were in the 60’s and 70’s and not too hot yet. I might do a separate post on dining because the food was incredible our whole tp.

Naxos:

I didn’t run in Santorini at all. Our boutique hotel didn’t have a gym and the cliff side hills are steep. There were either a ton of pedestrians out or very narrow shoulders/lack of sidewalks near where we stayed in Fira. But once we flew to Naxos, I decided to do a morning run our first full day there to the Temple of Apollo then to the Agios Georgios beach near our hotel.

We had an amazing breakfast awaiting us each morning at the hotel which I took full advantage of.

I didn’t see any other runners on Naxos (and only one in Santorini) but loved seeing so many others in Athens. Lots had different race shirts on and I wished I had worn a NYCM shirt (though they’re all long sleeve and this was definitely short sleeve/singlet weather). It’s fun to tap into the running community when traveling. My trip to London in 2014 was when I first reached 10K as a distance as part of a historic jogging tour – all my runs up until then had been under 5 miles.

Rest of November Recovery & Fitness

Immediately after the NYCM marathon, I wanted to take off any time needed to truly recover but also wanted to stay consistent with running and look ahead to training for 2022 races. I have a 10K early January that I want to be close to PR shape for (my PR is 53:xx from the amazing Monument Avenue 10K in Richmond).

11/8-11/14:

I did some serious recovery activities: steam room at the gym, low-impact Peloton ride, upper body/arms only weight lifting. It felt good to be active but low-key. I did two short recovery-pace runs this week as well since the weather was pretty nice. Saw my PT/acupuncturist which helped a lot as well.

11/15-11/21:

I actually ran less this week but stepped up the lifting at the gym. Got back to my squats and deadlifts but made a fatal error by trying to get back to my previous 10-rep max weights. Stupid. I was sore for days! Also got my flu and Covid booster shots Wednesday. Upper body lifts back to normal as well. On Sunday, I finally got out there for a ‘longish’ run again as per my 10K training plan: made it 6.9 miles/80 minutes. I was totally DONE and it was dark at the end so I didn’t try to hit 7 miles even.

11/22-11/30:

The real return to consistency. Easy shorter (30~ minute) runs Monday Wednesday Thursday, and a 20 minute treadmill tempo Tuesday (sandwiched between warm up and cool down). I had FOMO from all the Turkey Trot photos Thursday and will definitely try to be back in Brooklyn for it next year.

Totally off exercise Friday because we flew to Los Angeles! Then I had a charity 5K Saturday morning that I used as a fitness check. My Stryd Critical Power updated after which means my training paces will now be a bit quicker. Still not to where I was at March 2020.

Took off Sunday and Monday but went to Disneyland on a last-minute lark Sunday and logged a lot of steps.

We flew back Tuesday and then it was December!

Weeks 9 and 10 of NYC Marathon 2021 Training

Still catching up on these! I had a couple of weeks where my running was off. Physically I was fine, but I just didn’t FEEL like running. Especially the long runs. I think knowing that this marathon won’t be my fastest (and in fact will now definitely be my slowest) made it easy to take my foot off the gas during training. I kept thinking each week that I would turn it around, but then I would catch myself stacking up my Saturday with plans (and sometimes work) then being too tired/busy/annoyed with the rain or heat waves on Sundays. I considered my prior tactic of doing midweek long runs, but wasn’t really feeling those either. I think having the first few weeks of a marathon training cycle be ‘off’ is more normal for me, but this time weeks 6-10 were the hardest.

8/30-9/5:

8/30: Rest day

8/31: AM weight lifting then 7.1 miles along my favorite route in the late afternoon.

9/1: Rest day. My friend Carla visited from Chicago and I just missed the start of the downpours from Hurricane Ida.

9/2: 3 miles around town; flooding impeded one of my typical running routes along the Rippowam River.

Post-Hurricane Ida Flooding of Mill River Park

9/3: AM bench press and Peloton ride at the gym. Then the long drive up to Northern New Hampshire to my friend’s home in the White Mountains.

9/4: 3.2 mile hike up Mount Willard.

Herbie on the way up Mount Willard
View of Crawford Notch from the summit
Growing puppies and flowers at Sherman Farms

9/6-9/12:

Hmm, not much better in terms of running. In fact, even worse.

9/6 (Labor Day): 3 mile hike to Champney Falls. Pulled out the grill at night and had fun trying to perfect ribeye.

Labor Day Hike to Champney Falls
Ribeye, veggies, and pull apart garlic bread

9/7: 5 hour drive back to NYC area from NH. Finally tried the Starbucks pumpkin cream cold brew (TWICE because 5 hour drive). Exhausted regardless after I got home and did not run.

9/8: 4 mile run

9/9: Weight lifting and 4 miles including a 5K time trial. I did it as a progressive run. The 9 minute miles felt good, the 8:30s less so. Didn’t quite make it to the 8:00 zone as I had hoped.

9/10/21: 4 recovery miles

9/11: Tried the Dunkin Donuts pumpkin cream cold brew. Also acceptable and a full $2 cheaper than Starbucks.

9/12: Weight lifting in the morning, then seeing Shang Chi in theaters.

Snack Mix: ddukboki chips, shrimp chips, and Flamin Hots

Did you see any long runs? I didn’t see any long runs. More to come next time.

Week 6 of NYC Marathon 2021 Training

After this week, I’m 1/3 of the way through my 18-week training plan! This is my first time not doing a 16-week one, but I didn’t do much while on vacation the second week so it really doesn’t feel like that long.

Monday 8/9: Rest day

Tuesday 8/10: Speed workout day on the track. 1 mile warmup, 3x400m with 200m walking rest, cooldown mile for 3.5 miles total. Upper body strength and core at the apartment gym – shoulder press is so hard. I’m so weak at that.

Wednesday 8/11: Full body strength at the nice gym – deadlifts and Smith machine squats. Then 4.7 easyish miles on the apartment gym treadmill. These double days are tough but it’s great to get them done.

Thursday 8/12: Rest day and flight home to visit my parents in Richmond VA. Steamed Chesapeake Bay Blue crabs for dinner

Friday 8/13: 3.2 steamy gross AM miles around their neighborhood. It was a heat wave down there as well as back home, so this would have sucked anywhere. Bojangles fried chicken sandwich after since I can’t get that in the Northeast!

Saturday 8/14: I scrapped my plans for an attempted long run since the heat wave persisted and I got up too late (love how waking up after 7am is considered late for me once again). I drove to a nearby park so I could finally try to capture a spot on the women’s Course Record list on Strava. Spoiler alert: I couldn’t tell exactly where the 0.42 mile loop began and ended, so I full on yeeted 2 loops of it, hoping that one would count. Well, it worked! I ended up #5 all time on the list for women, and also raised the Critical Power on my Stryd by several points. My Stryd has a race predictor and it’s slowly decreasing its estimated time for the marathon as well as my tuneup races.

Sunday 8/15: 6:15am flight out of Richmond, and home by 8:18am. Ate a lot of the delicious mid-Atlantic junk food I’d gotten from Wawa and lazed around with the pup for many hours. Abandoned all hope of doing my long run. Eek.

Total: 14.4 miles out of a planned 21 (of the Hal Higdon Novice 2 plan, I’m somewhere between that and the Intermediate 1 plan). I was on track if I had done my 12-mile long run. I’m mostly just trying to hit the minimum upper 30’s/crack 40 miles per week by September.

Week 5 of NYC Marathon 2021 Training

We’re in the thick of it.

Monday 8/2: 3 recovery treadmill miles at a 14 minute mile pace. Upper body weight lifting at the gym.

Tuesday 8/3: Trying to take my easy days easy and my hard days hard. AM 4.6 mile tempo run, then PM lower body lifting at the gym. So hard. I was exhausted and crawled into bed by 9pm and missed the women’s 400m hurdle final.

Pre-gym selfie

Wednesday 8/4: Active recovery – 30 minute Peloton ride at the gym (Spice Girls class!). I took it super easy, adjusting both cadence and resistance down as needed.

Thursday 8/5: Normal run at what I hope is a normal speed. 5.6 miles (yay) around a park. Went to Target and got a lot of snacks and ate too many of them before this. Needed a late (4pm nap) and some tea to finally get my rear in gear at 6pm.

Target Snack Haul

Friday 8/6: 3.4 Easy treadmill miles in apartment gym.

Saturday 8/7: Long run cut short. I had hoped for double digits and was going to take my COVID work call on the run (well, on a park bench since I have to write down some of the numbers) but I couldn’t log into Zoom on my personal phone and didn’t have the login details. So I ended up sprinting for home after 7 miles. I thought about adding another 3-5 miles after the call but decided to just take the rest.

I got out of the house at 7:30am which was a win (watched the women’s 10M Olympic final first). But the run was definitely a struggle fest. The heat was normal but humidity was on its way back and my heart rate was shooting up the first few miles, so I took a few walk breaks as needed. I got Summer Streets FOMO and wished I was in the city for this and to hit double digits. Onward and upward to the next one.

Sunday 8/8: I did a 4.4 mile Hike to Mount Beacon and the fire tower with a friend and my pup. My legs were pretty tired after the initial steep ascent. I put Herbie in the backpack for some of the ascent but she held her own on the rest.

Casino Ruins

Total: 23.7 running miles, not counting the hike. I wanted to hit 27 but I think I will get it next week. Only did two strength workouts but they were good ones!

Week 2 of NYC Marathon 2021 Training

This post is going to be long on photos of Northern Michigan but short on running. After a decent kickoff week, I took my first girls’ trip since March 2020 (for the Olympic marathon trials and Atlanta Half) and flew into Traverse City, Michigan Monday morning. Carla and I hopped into a rental car and proceeded to log hundreds of mile, eat dozens of cherries, and see 3 out of 5 Great Lakes.

Monday 7/12: Hiking up and down Sleeping Bear Dunes – just under 2 miles. I kept my Teva Hurricanes on and was thankful for them. We decided not to go all the way down to Lake Michigan but had a good time trying to get closer.

We bought cherries and a whole pie at a roadside stand so sat down to eat it after the hike. It’s always the $15 pies by the road that you can never get again that have the perfect crust and fresh sweet cherry filling.

Lake Michigan/Sleeping Bear Dunes
Roadside pie and cherries after the dune hike

Tuesday 7/13: After strolling around St Ignace and having the rest of the cherry pie for breakfast, we took the ferry to Mackinac Island, which is car-free. Our original plan was to rent bicycles and get in a good cruise around the island but the rain started when we boarded the ferry and didn’t let up for hours. After getting back to the car, we crossed into the Upper Peninsula and did a 3 mile hike/trail run at Taquamenon Falls, then changed into swimsuits and got into the falls.

Lower Taquenemon Falls
Arch Rock on Mackinac Island
Loving the trail run but unprepared for the vert

Wednesday 7/14: After driving to Munising post-run and settling in, we did a boat tour of the Pictured Rocks area. Later on we tried the local special, pasties. I got to hop into Lake Superior and the cold water was super refreshing. We had missed the window for a morning run then it rained all evening, so we settled for an early dinner and a dip in the hotel’s hot tub. My legs were delighted by the hot and cold water combo and I tried to use the jets for extra massage pressure. I didn’t bring my Theragun on this trip, just a spiky ball for my feet, but was glad I brought it.

Pictured Rocks, Lake Superior

Thursday 6/15: We left Munising early for long drive back to Traverse City for our early evening flights. No fun stops except lunch at Culver’s and some pie to go. I could have definitely used another day or two up this way and would have liked to spend more time on Lake Huron. I think I hit my cap on pasties and whitefish but could have eaten several more cherry pies.

Who needs fries when you have cheese curds?

Friday 6/17: Back to CT and back to the gym. I did a 30 minute Peloton ride to the music of In The Heights and hit a PR! Then I did my upper body strength routine and some single leg stability exercises.

Saturday 6/18 and Sunday 6/19: I went out Friday night (footage not found) and was wildly hungover Sunday morning. I could already tell my ambitious schedule of long run, gym, and grocery shopping wasn’t happening. I hydrated and got delivery Szechuanese food and peeled myself off the couch slowly. Many hours later, I headed into Queens to meet up with friends and get pho.

Sunday was no better; I woke up a little late after getting home at midnight and skipped my long run again. Didn’t make it to the gym before friends came over for pizza and the pool. Went to Whole Foods and PetSmart with the fiancé then we got Dairy Queen at night in my final act of “I’m on vacation”. Onward and upward!

Atlanta Half 2020 Recap

Before coronavirus took hold of the US (more on that to come later, as a public health professional or maybe just as an extrovert runner in NYC), I met up with friends in Atlanta to see the Olympic Marathon Trials on Saturday 2/29. Then some of us toed the line at a hilly Publix Atlanta Half half on 3/1. I knew the course profile was a far cry from my very flat-coursed  half PR (1:57:04) but this was my first half marathon in 13 months (since a fun, easy time at Rock and Roll New Orleans 2019) and the first one I was actually trying to kind of race since Bay Ridge 2018.

The week of, I kept vacillating in my mind between 1) taking the whole thing easy, 2) racing my heart out for a PR attempt at a 8:55 pace or better, or 3) playing it by ear. Reasons I thought I could crush this: I was fairly well tapered. I had put in 8 weeks of NYRR Group Training on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Main reason I thought I would falter: After weeks of solid double digit long runs in January and early February, things petered out and ended with me barely squeezing out a two-hour, 11-mile long run 10 days before race day. I also took a Tuesday speed session easy that week, but still possibly had pushed too hard. Maybe I wasn’t well tapered.

The night before, I went out with friends and dinner took a bit longer than I would have liked, so I got to bed later than my planned 10pm. I woke up at 5:45am, had a canned Starbucks iced coffee drink and a Clif Bar, then got dressed. I hadn’t brought throwaway clothes but decided on crops and a long-sleeve with gloves since it was around 40F and some wind (but way less windy than the previous day). Gabby and I met up with Elle and sped-walked to the start and stood in line for bag check. I should have used a port-a-potty but the lines were long and we wanted to get into the B Corral.

Note: I forgot my Garmin so my Apple Watch splits are quite a bit off; obviously I didn’t run perfect tangents but it still said I ran 13.5 miles, so mile estimates are generous. Actual pace from the tracker for 5K and 10K was 9:47, then overall pace was 9:33.

ATLHalf

As evident, I did not PR. I took the first mile at “what feels like easy/doable” which was closer to 9:30/mile than 9:00 mile. I was initially a bit bummed that that’s where things are for me (um, but would be delighted if that was even my long run or marathon pace), but Elle was with me and I felt like I could get through this and maybe even enjoy it. I decided to try to run by feel and also negative split if I could. The total elevation gain doesn’t show it well, but the grade adjusted paces do. Every single mile had some sort of hill. Some were short and sweet while others were a bit more sustained.

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Early on, I saw my friend Janna and her amazing posters. She then surprised me by cutting through across and showing up again and caught me.

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As far as landmarks, there were quite a few, ranging from the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library to Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and his church, plus fun neighborhoods like Five Points and Virginia-Highland.

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At Mile 9, I felt strong(ish) and picked up the pace just a bit and separated from Elle, who encouraged me to go on. The last few miles were pretty torturous as we ran back into downtown after going through Piedmont Park. The hills kept coming and my lack of endurance started to show around mile 11/12 as my legs started to fail me at the current pace and my heart race increased. I had made it a point to only check my watch every couple miles and not obsess about the pace like I usually would.

Finally, we had the uphill finish back into Centennial Olympic Park. I grabbed chocolate milk, a banana, and what I could before grabbing my jacket and phone from bag check and shuffling back to the hotel. I managed to trip over the sidewalk 3 times on the ten-minute walk, so I was in somewhat rough shape.

Overall, I wasn’t overly pleased with my time of 2:05:09 but I was happy with my performance overall. I feel like the negative split showed grit since the course didn’t flatten out much in the later miles. I think my current fitness that week could have gotten a sub-2 (but not a PR) on a flat course, which is cool since I’ve only done that twice. This performance bodes well for Brooklyn Half as long as I don’t let my long runs slip. I also got a few actually flattering race photos for the first time in a long time because when you take it easier, you can try to actually smile for the cameras. Plus the trip itself was amazing and something I’ll hold dear for a long time.

 

Richmond 8K 2019 Race Report

My action shots from MarathonFoto are so awful, so there aren’t many photos to share. But I had a really great race, despite it being only my 2nd in the last 9 months. The others were Al Gordon in February where I was sick, then a tuneup 5K last weekend. And of course, many months of being injured in between. I’m so glad this was my comeback! I was hemming and hawing about doing the half in Richmond but knew that I wouldn’t PR and didn’t feel extra ready for the distance as my long runs had dropped off since mid-October. Plus, by the time I signed up, the half cost $100 and the 8K was only $40. Done!

After flying in Thursday night and going to bed at the late hour of 11pm, I skipped doing a shakeout on Friday. After picking up my packet, I ate way too much at ZZQ, Richmond’s new Texas-style BBQ joint. Then I had some pasta for dinner and slept poorly until my 5am wakeup call. The 8K went off right at 7am, so I hopped out for a 1 mile warmup and settled into the corrals. Times under 48 minutes were Corral 1, and I was shooting for 43. My previous 5 mile best time was 43:28 and I was pretty sure I could get this under an 8:43 pace.

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Those Splits tho

I met a fellow NYC-er in the corrals and we chatted for 5 minutes, then we were off! I took it out a smidge too fast then got concerned on mile two (plus that mile had the most elevation increase). Then after the turn onto Mulberry and move to Grace Street came the cobblestones. At one point, my foot got temporarily lodged into one and I stumbled. That was a real adrenaline rush and I recovered then was able to speed it up on the fourth mile. Then came the real downhills. I remembered the finish from running the Richmond Marathon two years ago and loved it again.

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Flying downhill

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PR Victory!

I was done by 7:43 and met my parents at the post-finish party. I rang the PR bell, ate a banana and my Dad kindly purchased me some Richmond gear to warm me up until we got back to the car. My pockets are bulging with the snacks I took at the end, though I skipped the Papa John’s pizza this time.

Then I met up with college girlfriends and we ate amazing food at Perch.

If my lottery entries for Berlin and NYC in 2020 are both no-gos, then I am strongly considering running the Richmond full again. I recommend their race series to everyone.

Richmond 2019 Training

This post originally titled Richmond Half 2019 Training and was supposed to cover everything in September, but then I never published it in September. Or October. My running has been pretty good (some weeks higher in mileage than others) but I’ve kept my weekend long runs right around 10 miles for the most part.  Essentially, I feel like I could run a half at any time, but I couldn’t hit a PR. I got medical clearance from my doctor and PT to run a half this fall/winter (but not a full marathon, which is fine). But the consistency of training never really happened. So I’m just going to do the 8K in Richmond on 11/16/19.

I moved out of Brooklyn in September and have been exploring Central Park a lot more. There are so many paths and trails and things to see (namely waterfalls) off the main 6-mile path. My goal is to run them all, plus run the entire perimeter of the park on 5th Avenue and Central Park South/West/North. It’s a lot easier to get to the many NYRR and other races in Central Park now, so I’ve popped by to cheer on friends or pace long runs.

In late September, I did a Tracksmith-sponsored long run in Rockefeller Park State Preserve and loved hitting the trails. The hills were killer, but I stayed steady and on the slower side. Obviously I wore Tracksmith.

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I went to Chicago in mid-October to spectate the marathon (for the third time in four years) and see friends from across the country and eat deep dish pizza. I ran a Nike-sponsored 4×800 race at Soldier Field and was pleased enough with my time. If anything, it made me want to get back to the track a bit more. In my injury-prone state, I haven’t been doing much speed work. Also, our team met Colleen Quigley!

 

Fall by the numbers:

Longest long run: 11 miles

Fastest speed: I hit 10 mph (a 6:00 minute mile) for maybe a minute during a Barry’s Bootcamp treadmill session and didn’t die or fly off the treadmill

I ran my first race since February, a 5K on Randall’s Island in 26:26, about 90 seconds off my PR.

I ran in Saratoga Springs NY, Chicago IL, and San Juan Puerto Rico.

Plus, I went to a driving range for the first time in over a decade, got into sourdough bread baking, am a happy owner of a Theragun, and kept up eating delicious stuff all over town (and other places).

Lunch specials at Cho Dang Gol

Piña colada and red snapper in Old San Juan

Deep dish pizza and the best salad at Lou Malnati’s in Chicago

Apple cider donuts upstate

Waiting for seafood boil