This was supposed to be my highest mileage week (well, first of 3) for this training cycle. I was headed to New England on vacation Thursday night and needed to frontload my mileage a bit, but also scheduled a platelet donation Tuesday night and fantasy football draft Wednesday night. Then I actually went on vacation and remembered that I don’t like running on highway shoulders. C’est la vie.
8/27: 8.3 miles on the Williamsburg and Manhattan Bridges. Stuck to an easy pace and went by effort on the bridges.
8/28: 4 miles easy on the treadmill. Well, 3 miles very easy and 1 mile at goal marathon pace. Donated platelets after work. I’m planning to donate blood again right after the marathon.
8/29: Rest day. Did some restorative yoga and had my fantasy football draft. There was beer, there was pizza, and I drafted some strong picks. More importantly, the yoga stretches felt so good. I should be doing this weekly.
8/30: 4 progressive treadmill miles before work, then flight to New England. 2 at easy pace, 1 at goal marathon pace (9:30s but would be happy with anything under 10minute miles), then a mix for the final mile between easy and goal half marathon pace (08:50s currently).
8/31: Walked all over Portland, Maine. Ate all the lobster, plus some oysters.
9/1: 4 miles with my friend, then we drove up the Mount Washington Auto Road. We had planned to do a moderate mileage hike, but the fog and cold at the top were too much. Went back into town and explored North Conway after.
9/2: Long run fail. I was all prepped and ready for 15 miles but it didn’t happen. Mentally, I wasn’t there and didn’t feel safe running by cars on the Kancamagus Highway. I headed up Bear Mountain a bit and ran along a ski trail but my energy was kind of zapped. Threw in the towel, then later we floated down the Saco River slowly in inner tubes with some blueberry cider.
Total: 21.5 miles. Surprise cutback week! I still feel really good about Week 6 and have signed up for my first race since April (a 5K, still looking for possible tuneup 10K and half).
After surviving my Memorial Day weekend test run, I slowly ramped up mileage. 2 miles here, 4 miles there, a few times a week. The goal is to get back to 5 days a week with medium midweek mileage for marathon training. I’m looking at a scaled down version of my original 18 week marathon training plan of choice. Maybe soon I’ll actually run enough to run off some of the baking I’ve been doing.
May 28 – June 3: 9.3 miles over 4 runs
June 4 – June 10: 11.6 miles over 3 runs. Double digits, woohoo! I also baked the Momofuku Milk Bar birthday cake thanks to the unique baking supply birthday gifts of my friends. It took some time but was worth it!
June 11 – June 17: 7 miles and some canceled ClassPass spin. I volunteered at a race to get credit for future races and had a great time at the bib pickup table. I also managed a full loop of Prospect Park for a total of 5 miles, which is my longest since the Monument Avenue 10K on 4/14. I had to break for water a few times but it felt good overall.
June 18 – 24: UK trip! I flew out Saturday the 16th and back the 23rd for my cousin’s wedding in Scotland with my parents and boyfriend. I didn’t get in as many runs as I had wanted in London due to food poisoning/stomach flu. I did manage a spin class, a hike up Arthur’s Seat, and a trail run near the castle that ended up with me getting lost in the woods and having to climb over cow pen gates. On Sunday, I did not use my jet lag to my advantage but finally staged myself onto the treadmill for another 3 miles. Total running mileage of ~8 miles but I turned my GPS watch off while I was lost and walking/running so we’ll never know.
A lot of life happened in March and April. Some miles happened. Not a lot. Or, not as many as my 10 week half marathon training plan called for.
3/19 – 3/25: 17.7 miles. I did a trail run in Prospect Park Monday with a running club friend Emily who’s training for her first 50-miler. I also squeezed in some treadmill workouts, including on a Wednesday snow day, where I did a 4×800 interval workout at goal 5K pace. After running MTW and doing RowHouse Thursday with a friend, I did not run again. Grief kind of hit me hard on the weekend because of my friend’s memorial service. I got to see some out-of-town friends who were visiting that and we had some nice meals together.
And matcha kakigori from Bonsai Kakigori at Canal Street Market.
3/26 – 4/1: 26.8 miles. Back at it, with a Central Park weekday morning jaunt, late Saturday morning 9-Mile group run, and a running club Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday. My team split the win with a team captained by another Hilary.
There was also karaoke, shabu shabu, funfetti cupcakes, and pizza from Emily.
4/2 – 4/8: 16.1 miles. I had plans to run TuWFSaSu. I made it to The Distance at Mile High Run Club Tuesday, a Beer Runners loop to the bar Wednesday, then replaced my Friday run with several miles on the exercise bike before heading to Phoenix for my friend’s other memorial service. No runs Saturday or Sunday due to the hotel no longer having gym access and time crunches, but there was a hike at Saguaro National Park. And tacos. And Sonoran hot dogs.
4/9 – 4/15: I started off the week still in Phoenix (early flight back Tuesday morning), so I got to hike Camelback Mountain on Monday. Well, mostly. I ended up running 3 miles from Scottsdale to the base of the Cholla Trail, then hiked up. I got in 1.5 miles of hiking roundtrip (the trail is 1.4 miles each way; I had to turn back once I realized I was strapped for time and also had the rental car keys). I met the guys at Cartel Coffee then rented an Ofo bicycle and rode back to the car. So much activity! I had hoped for a longer run round trip, but the hike definitely got my heart rate up.
I flew back to NYC Tuesday morning and took the day off. I got a Prospect Park loop in with my friend on Wednesday then had a quick 3-Mile solo Queensboro Bridge trip Thursday after work.
Then I flew to Richmond! I went to see family but signed up for the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K. I was overdue for a 10K PR (last one I raced was Queens 10K in June). Then the weather forecast turned to bright and beautiful. I was concerned because I’ve been running for months in temperatures not topping 55 and feel like the sun has been elusive. My corral was due to start at 8:45, so I hoped to escape the worst of it. I didn’t get to warm up but was just happy to find a real bathroom and meet up with Kate before we got into our corrals.
I tried to take it easy the first mile, but maybe went out a little fast. I felt pretty good at the turnaround point, but we were heading into the sun on the way back. As you can see from the Strava splits, I flagged significantly during the last miles, but was able to have a strong, painful, uphill finishing kick for the last 0.2. I stupidly thought I could keep it under 53:00 for the last minute. But this is still a 1.5 minute PR! So I’m pretty pleased.
I flew back to NYC Sunday, fairly stiff from the race. The weather was warm and beautiful Friday and Saturday, then turned cold and gloomy Sunday.
18.2 miles total, including a 10K PR.
And now I’m going to see a musculoskeletal doctor this week to see about my weird left foot/ankle pain. It doesn’t hurt while running, just when I flex it and during some walking. Let’s see!
So this was technically Week 1 of Brooklyn Half training (3/12-3/18) but I was also taking a trip to LA with Gabby and didn’t manage to get in any runs before I left Wednesday 3/14. So this is mainly about our hikes and run in LA and all the things we ate!
We flew in early Wednesday afternoon, dropped off our stuff in Hollywood, then headed in a very long car ride to Venice Beach.
It was so nice to see and smell the beach! We then had dinner with some friends of mine at A-Frame, Roy Choi’s Hawaiian outpost in nearby Culver City. No pictures because we were starving but we had loaded fries, two kinds of spam musubi, Brussels sprouts, and crispy chicken.
The next day, we took off on a Runyon Canyon hike. We took what we thought was the main route but then realized we were on the Eastern side of it. We figured out that we could keep going around the rim and back down but we had no idea how steep it would be.
We made it! It was 2.8 miles roundtrip and 740 feet of elevation gain.
After showering (I got some mud on my hiking leggings from bouldering and scooting down), we got some delicious ramen from Urban Ramen, bought snacks at Ralph’s, then walked to Hollywood to see the sights, namely the walk of fame and Mann’s Chinese Theater.
Oh, and some churros. Later on, I had dinner with a friend at Bowery Bungalow, then ice cream from Scoops in Silverlake.
On Friday, we headed to Universal Studios Hollywood. I was excited to see their version of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter after going to the one in Florida in January. It was almost exactly the same, down to the butterbeer (hot, cold, and frozen). We did the hour-long studio tour, which was super cool because I got to see Jaws in action and see the set of recent favorite The Good Place.
Plus, huge donuts at Simpsons World/Springfield.
We hit up the race Expo on the way back and got to see some more of Downtown LA. I got street tacos, finally (was on the hunt after seeing the LA taco episode of Ugly Delicious). And it rained, which we were totally prepared for in our hooded jackets and umbrellas.
On Saturday morning, we ran The Big 5K, which is sponsored by Big 5 Sports and is affiliated with the Los Angeles Marathon (the next day). We signed up sort of on a whim, figuring that we were in town anyway and it would be a fun race. We didn’t look up the course profile until the day before the race because they didn’t really highlight it on the website. Now we know why. There were some brutal hills, especially for this relative flatlander. It starts off in the parking lot of Dodgers Stadium, then around nearby Elysium Park.
According to Strava/Garmin, you are climbing for 33% of the time. Most of the first mile started out great and I was on pace for a PR. There was a slight downhill coming out of the parking lots, then boom, climb #1 just before 1 mile. I chugged my way up and hoped that was the worst of it. But of course, what goes up must come down. Then back up again. Then down. Then up.
My grade adjusted pace for the first mile says it all; I went out hard then couldn’t hang on. Around mile 3, I got to laugh with other runners at what felt like an onslaught of hills. But I was pretty bummed that I couldn’t handle the hills.
Gabby and I grabbed our medals and snacks (she got the swag bag, I passed on it not realizing I could have had another Clif Bar). Then it was time to eat! I tried a pastrami egg and cheese burrito as well as a smoothie from some food trucks that were there. I was tempted by the taco truck too, of course.
We took a Lyft home, showered off, then headed back to Runyon Canyon for a gentler hike. We took the easy, paved road up this time then came down on the east side (where we had headed up on Thursday). It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday and so many people were out! It was impressed to watch all the runners, but we had a good time taking it easy and recovering. Lots of foam rolling that day! We had Korean BBQ bowls on the roof, coffee from nearby Blackwood Coffee, then I met with my friend Gina to hang out with her pup Riley and get donuts from California Donuts.
Before we headed to the airport (I had a red eye), we stopped off at a mural that Mabelle had wanted to check out. And it’s right next door to See’s Candy factory and store.
Then I spent the extra time before my flight screaming at the Houston-Michigan basketball game and eating chilaquiles. I missed out on all the NYC Half action, but I’m going to enter the lottery for next year.
Mileage: 3.6 miles of running, most of it spent wheezing up hills. 4.6 miles of beautiful, sunny hiking.
Hello from the other side…of the second hardest half marathon of my life. This was my 9th Half ever and the 7th that I really raced (I treated both Nike Women’s Half San Francisco 2015 and Fred Lebow 2017 as training runs due to injury and low mileage, respectively).
Pre-Race: I had peanut butter and banana on toast with some canned iced coffee from local spot Cuvee. Gabby and I took a Lyft to the start (our driver was impressed with our early morning activities) then met up with other PPTC folks. Bag check was easy and portapotty lines weren’t too long. Then came the corrals, or lack thereof. I waited for friends, then realized there was no way to get close to the 1:55 pacer without shoving my way.
The good: Miles 1-5 were great. Having only been in Austin a few days, I had no idea where we were North of the city (somewhere near The Domain?), so I just took in the sights. Like the industrial office parks. The width of the roads early on (everything’s bigger in Texas?) let me pass folks and get closer to the pace I wanted early on despite the crowded start.
The bad: Pretty much as soon as I hit the 5th mile, everything started to get tough. My legs felt heavy and my breath was a little more labored. I was pushing hard to maintain the same pace. I had a gel around mile 6, but that obviously wasn’t enough to save me. I also had 2 salted watermelon Shot Block chews at some point. I declined the Bacon Station, but maybe I should have partaken.
The ugly: Mile 10 and its last major hill. This course has a net downhill, but you never quite feel like it throughout the rolling hills. I am delighted to say that there are absolutely no photos of me on the course. I looked like death at the finish.
It was raining again at the finish, so I grabbed my medal and goody bag and shuffled 1 whole mile up the hill to Gabby’s to shower off. That mile was not easy, despite drinking some Gatorade.
Final time of 2:02:46 which actually makes this my 4th fastest half marathon despite what I consider a ‘bonk’ in the second half. Not bad.
Don’t worry, we got Gourdough’s after!
I was pretty sore that day and the next but did an easy recovery run around Austin to see more of the riverfront trail.
I needed some time to recover both physically and mentally from this race. Not every race goes the way you want for a variety of reasons, so I’ve tried to reflect on my training and preparation and race execution. On to the next one.
After hitting a one-week mileage PR 12/29/17-1/5/18 of 39.5 miles in 7 days, my training motivation slipped and my planned 2 week taper kind of became a 3 week one without a final long run. Whoops!
Week 9: 11.2 miles over 3 runs. Final “long” run of 5 miles, where I found some money. I also ate some really delicious things with my friend Lori on account of her instagram @girleatsnyc.
Week 10: My travel began to Austin for the Half. But first, Disney World! And Universal Studios! I ate everything.
I walked around a lot in Orlando but didn’t hit up the fitness center. I did eat Mickey ears ice cream, Dole Whip on top of pineapple upside down cake, and half the menu at Le Cellier steakhouse in EPCOT Canada.
I flew from Orlando to Austin on Wednesday the 17th, just missing an ice storm by a day. I did a shakeout run on the hotel treadmill once in Austin but hadn’t brought enough cold-weather clothing for their surprise post-ice storm cold snap.
I also ate a lot of queso and brisket.
17.1 miles including the Half Marathon and a cool-down mile afterward. Race recap to come!
Ok, finally. I think many of you already knew from Strava or other forms of social media, but I had a great race on Saturday 11/11/17. This post will be a little light on the images because my parents were so busy cheering (and it was cold before and after) that they didn’t take any photos and I didn’t run with my phone.
Start: It had dropped below freezing the night before and was still in the low to mid 30’s for the 7:45am start. I wore a longsleeve cotton shirt and pajama pants as my throwaway clothes over my PPTC tech t-shirt, Lululemon shorts (same outfit as last year’s NYC Marathon), makeshift arm warmers, DarnTough socks, and Lululemon gloves (a Christmas gift from a friend last year). I ended up choosing my Brooks Launch 4s as my shoe since I did most of my marathon miles in them, especially the last 8 weeks.
Miles 0-7: My corral (#4) was pretty crowded, but we got off to a decent start 6 minutes after the first wave did. We turned a corner and then we were running west on Broad street. And boom, at mile 0.5, there were my parents cheering in the median. Nice! I took the first several miles faster than I meant to, closer to a 10:00 pace than the 10:15-10:30 I meant to do.
I meant to take a gel at 45:00 but due to the spacing of the water stations (every 2 miles, I believe), I held off until closer to 1 hour on the clock. I started with a Salted Watermelon Gu, one of my favorites. We were climbing up a hill at Mile 6 but I didn’t notice too much, as I was chatting on and off with other runners, I had started behind the 4:30 pace group, then I passed them, they passed me, and I passed again. At Mile 7, there is a significant downhill after crossing the James River to go from the West End to the South Side. This felt great. I spent the next couple of miles along the river taking in the beautiful views and sunshine. I chatted up a woman wearing a JMU long-sleeve (my alma mater) and took in some of her cheers as my own. If I do another Richmond race, I’m definitely rocking the purple and gold.
Miles 8-15: South Side was fairly uneventful, as I was mainly trying to not overdo the pace. After we climbed out from the River, I still felt pretty strong. I chatted with a runner from Chicago who was shocked at my choice of shorts and a NYRR employee. I had my second gel of the day, Toasted Marshmallow and it was AMAZING. I hadn’t tried it before (I know, nothing new on race day) but it was delicious. Around the half mark, I took some mini gummi bears from one of the candy stops. We ran alongside traffic for several miles of Forest Hill Ave and Semmes Ave, which I didn’t love, but some of them lended us cheers or music. Right as we turned to take the bridge back north across the James River, my parents surprised me at the 15 Mile marker. The bridge is fairly windy and an incline, but the boost from my parents helped so much. I had also latched on/decided to draft a couple who was also shooting for under 4:30 but wasn’t with the pace group. On the bridge, the pace group caught up to us, then we peeled away and I never saw them again (spoiler alert).
Miles 16-20: I still felt good but tentative, as I expected things to get harder in the 20’s. I slowly ate my mini gummi bears and had another gel, plus water every couple miles. We ran through some more familiar territory of West Main Street, then past the Diamond on Boulevard. I remember still feeling strong and passing people who were starting to fade. The stupid grin hadn’t left my face yet.
Miles 21-25: These miles turned out to be both well-populated by great spectator groups and the ones where I felt great and realized I was going to surpass not only my A goal of 4:29:xx, but my A+ goal of 4:26:03 (a 30 minute PR from NYCM last year). I believe that in lieu of a 4th gel, I just had a single Salted Margarita ShotBlock and increased the blue Powerade consumption since the frequency of the tables increased. I supplemented this with a banana from a nice lady around Mile 22. I turned down the beer and other junk food on offer, as well as the pickle juice. I had told myself to hold off the pace from miles 21-24, then up the gas if I was still feeling good. My parents showed up for the 3rd time at Mile 23.5 and I yelled to them “See you at the beer truck! Hurry, I’m picking up speed!”. It was true! See my splits above after Mile 21; I knew the end was near and almost nothing could stop me.
Mile 25-26.2: There were a few small bumps/hills before the big finish. At 25.5, I was passing people left and right and really turning on the juice when a woman told us the finish was “around the corner”. Well, we knew it wasn’t. I heard a girl comment on this and despite running at my half marathon pace now, I agreed with her and we talked about how we hate when people shout stuff like that about the finish when we just want to SEE the finish. I turn to look at her better and boom, she’s an internet running group friend! I managed to choke out my name and we both screamed. What are the odds? I knew we would get the final half mile in together, and boy did we ever. The downhill was ours. All of the pictures are of me talking to her (lol) and flying down faster than my 5K pace. We hit the finish, threw up our moose ears, and were done.
Final: I hit the clock at 4:21:34.2, which apparently rounds up to :35. I beat my A+ goal by 4 and a half minutes, which still seems unreal. And I had the best time doing it! Everyone I talked to on the course was sweet and beyond pleasant. The crowd support was impressive for a marathon of this size. We were handed our medal, the blanket, and the mug, plus a bottle of water.
Then I went off to find my parents at the Beer Truck. Sure enough, I beat them there. I grabbed a slice of pizza and some blue Powerade. I didn’t have my ID, only a sweaty $20 bill, so I couldn’t even get a beer. By the time they arrived, I was able to change then requested that we skip the beer and get straight to Bottoms Up Pizza, the source of my favorite pizzas from my Sweet 16 to my high school graduation. They actually had a table open and I had a Southern Tier Imperial Pumpking, a huge slice, and some Oreo pie to go.
A million thanks to everyone who has commented here, on my Strava, or out in the ‘real world’ plus my parents who cheered and cowbelled so hard. Y’all the best.
Until next time, Richmond! 50 weeks until NYC Marathon!