Sunday, November 11, 2018

New York, New York - 2018 NYC Marathon Recap


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A city so nice, I ran it twice.

When I found out I got into the 2018 New York City Marathon through the lottery, it was almost like finding out I was unexpectedly pregnant.  I threw my name in the hat while still riding my post-2017-race high, never expecting in a million years I'd get in.  I'd entered the lottery several times before and was always denied.  Surely they'd let a first timer in before letting me in again.  Surely I'd be wrong.  

Fast forward several months, and for the sake of full disclosure, my heart wasn't 100% into going through the marathon training/racing process again so soon.  Even if it was New York.  Heck, especially since it was New York.  I'm not the girl who runs several marathons a year, and since I started working for the company whose races were always my go-to, I barely trained or raced at all for months after New York last year.  My fitness was a far cry from where it had been when I started training for 2017, and New York is a beast of a course.  I wasn't sure I remembered how to beast.  My new mantra was now "Fake it til ya make it."  And enlist help.

Enter Mother Teresa.  She lives hundreds of miles away, but this dear friend, badass mother runner, and honest-to-god saint of a human being mentioned she was interested in dabbling in coaching, so I asked her to help me get this shit show of a body ready for New York 2018.  She knows me well, and she knows the demands of my family and my job.  She has accompanied me on training runs and even raced with me to my second fastest half marathon in what I have to believe are the worst weather conditions in Shamrock history.



Basically, she knows what makes me tick and she has a knack for drawing the best out of those around her.  And if she was putting time and energy into my training, I couldn't let her down by being a wimp.

TRAINING

Last year's training cycle was fine.  Not the amazing experience I was hoping it would be, but that's not what last year's New York was for.  Last year's New York was for raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and giving cancer the middle finger.  This year was all mine, and I wouldn't let myself forget how lucky I was to have another crack at that race.  And since a great race is not guaranteed no matter how stellar your training cycle is, it was my mission to be so proud of the work I put into training that the outcome of the race was as insignificant as possible. 

I became a robot, and Teresa was my programmer.  She gave me one week of training at a time, I wrote it down on my calendar (sometimes getting a good chuckle out of the workouts), and did the work.  I reported back, especially when the numbers on my Garmin didn't tell the whole story of the workout, and left all the analyzing to her.  I checked each box, good or bad, and moved on.  I worked just as hard to stay out of my own head as I did to hit the paces on my training plan.  My sanity depended on it.

I had great runs and shitty runs.  School started and with it came a brand new schedule to adjust to.   Race season was in full swing at work.  August weather stuck around through half of October.  There were plenty of mornings when I just didn't want to get up and run.  I was sick of running in the dark.  I was sick of running every mile by myself.  I would lie there in bed and try to figure out any other time I could possibly get a workout in that day and the conclusion was always never.  So out of bed I slogged, and once I got going I was fine.  Especially those times I'd turn on my music and the first song to play was Dave Matthews' "So Damn Lucky."  Or the moon and stars would give way to a ridiculous sunrise that everyone else was missing.  The universe always had a way of reminding me I'm so damn lucky to be able to run.  Period. 

GOALS

I struggled with goal setting this training cycle.  Typically, I'll set A, B, and C goals for a race.  My A goal is my holy shit, shoot for the moon and stick the landing goal.  My B goal is usually a PR, even if it's by 1 second.  My C goal is typically to run a smart race.  Since my fitness at the start was nowhere near where I usually am going into training, I really had no idea what shoot for the moon goal was realistic.  Kinda hard to create a training plan with a goal race pace of ?:??, but Teresa made it work.  My early workouts were effort based instead of time based, and I think that really helped keep me from playing the comparison game with myself.  A successful workout meant I worked to my potential and fought when things got hard.  And eventually it dawned on me that this is exactly how I would define a successful race as well.  Effort based, not time based.  My ABC goals got turned upside down.  Running a smart race - and being brave from the start - was now my A goal.  A PR was still my B goal, and my C goal was now my holy shit goal. 

But I also had so many little victories within the 16 weeks of training that it felt like I had already accomplished an A goal.  The highest weekly mileage I had ever seen before this training cycle was 43.  And that was just one week, with every other week being in the 20s and 30s.  This time, I had 6 weeks of 40+ miles and 3 weeks of 50 or higher.  Each of those weeks felt like a win.  I had an incredible summer with my kids because it was of the utmost importance that my time with them didn't suffer because of my training.  Win.  I put in more double digit runs before getting my kids off to school than I can count on one hand.  Win.  I didn't compare myself to the runner I have been in the past or to other runners I follow on social media.  Double win.

RACE DAY

I arrived at my picture-perfect-Autumn-in-New-York race day happy, healthy, and oh so ready to run.  My mantra was "Go For Great," and "great" meant a finish time in the low 3:40s.  My coach and every bit of data from my training told me this was within reach, and I just had to throw caution to the wind and replace it with courage and confidence.  Check and check. 

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By the time I reached the summit of the Verrazzano Bridge at Mile 1, I learned I couldn't trust the pace on my watch.  It didn't register a mile until almost Mile 2, so I had to run on feel.  Thankfully, most of my long training runs were done by feel and not pace, so my confidence never waivered.  I knew I was off to a slow start because of the crowd, but I felt it was just what I needed early on to settle in to a faster pace after a few miles.

Only I never truly felt settled.  Between being shoulder to shoulder with my fellow runners from start to finish and the normal congestion of water stops every mile, I felt like as soon as I started to find a groove, I had to pump the brakes again.  The involuntary push and pull of my pace was taking its toll on me, especially since the hills and bridges on the course naturally cause you to slow and surge anyway.  I was still feeling good at the halfway point (on the Pulaski Bridge crossing over from Queens into Manhattan - gorgeous skyline views!), but the elapsed time on my watch was 1:55...meaning I would absolutely have to negative split the tougher second half of that course if I wanted to see 3:4anything.  Not impossible, so I repeated my "Go For Great" mantra and just kept plugging away. 

The Queensboro Bridge was up next on the agenda, and I knew from last year that it felt like an endless climb to the top.  I was ready for it.  I was even looking forward to it, mostly because I couldn't wait to have it behind me.  And I knew my friends Dayna and Michelle were waiting for me on the other side.  I thought once I got over that bridge, I'd have several miles to cruise before hitting that last climb up 5th Avenue to Central Park. 

Looking for Dayna and Michelle took my mind off the miles until I saw them, and then it was my goal to get to them again in the park. 

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There was a downhill after I saw them, and I let gravity do the work.  A stitch in my left side caused some concern around Mile 18, but it worked itself out and I was focused on getting to the Bronx.  Miles 19-21 felt progressively harder and harder, and I sensed 3:40s were long gone.  Having run the course last year may have been a slight disadvantage at this point because I knew mile 22 was a son of a bitch of a hill, and that was a major blow to my confidence.  I was already feeling like I had slowed to a crawl, and I wasn't going to be making up for lost time on that long climb. 

My pity party was interrupted by a spectator shortly after that.  It went down a little something like this:

Spectator:  "Way to go, 3:55 group!"

 [I turn to my left and see the 3:55 pace group chugging away beside me.] 

Me (out loud):  "Aw FUCK no!!!"

[Fight mode activated]

In that moment, I was fine with not running a 3:4x.  I was even fine with not PRing.  But I was NOT fine with not running faster than I did last year.  I worked too damn hard from July to November and then again over the course of those 23 miles to run slower than last year.  I had too many people tracking my dot through the five boroughs to not put up an all out fight for that finish and keep that 3:55 pace group behind me.  So fight I did, and I smiled when I saw my friends again and continued to fight while simultaneously wanting to slow down and soak it all in. 

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The sunlight, the colors of the fall foliage, even the nauseating smell of the food trucks.  Those were my final moments of this epic race and if I ran faster, it would be over sooner.  But I didn't work that hard to have my own private parade, so I gutted out the longest 800 meters of my life, uphill to the finish line. 

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Ahhhhh.  And ouch.

I didn't even look at my watch.  Pain is all that registered.  My legs hurt so bad.  I almost grabbed a stranger to lean on.  But I kept moving, collecting my medal, posing for the finisher photo, and getting wrapped up in my heat sheet.  It was another endless walk waddle to the poncho and the park exit, and inched my way toward Central Park West with my fellow finishers.  I called my husband and told him how awful I felt and how hard that was.  I glanced at the texts that had come in the seconds after crossing the finish line.  I had a quick broken up FaceTime session with Teresa and texted Kristy to look up my time from Shamrock 2014...over a mile past the finish line and I still didn't even know for certain if I had PRed. 



Shamrock 2014 - 3:54:32
New York City 2017:  3:55:56


Course Record by 2:09.
Marathon PR.  By 45 seconds.

Fuck yeah.

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The more I think about this experience, the prouder I feel.  Nothing about this training cycle or race was easy, but people don't run marathons because they're easy.  We run them because they teach us so much about who we are at our best, our worst, and everywhere in between.  They force us to listen to our bodies and focus on what matters.  They have taught me that defining success solely by the time on the clock is a waste of 16 weeks of training.  In my opinion, the only guaranteed way to feel truly successful running a marathon is to have goals that will serve you better than a finish time.  Otherwise you miss all the good stuff.

I love NY









Tuesday, October 24, 2017

New York City Marathon - Weeks 11-14


"Get me to the airport
Put me on a plane
Hurry, hurry, hurry
Before I go insane."

~The Ramones

October?  More like ROCK-tober!  This month started with a race weekend, is ending with a race weekend, and had countless miles of both running and driving crammed in between.  Sadly, my weekly training brain dump has taken the back seat but here's the long and short of it.  

Training for a marathon is hard.

The miles.  The maintenence.  The eating.  The hydrating.  The recovering.  The mind fuck.  And oh yeah, the being a wife and mom and coach and having a job and running a business.  Hard.  All of it.  Trying to do all of those things while minimally impacting my family life at the same time is one of the most challenging things I've ever attempted.  But along with the exhaustion, this month has brought so much satisfaction.  I feel like I'm doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing right now, and I get 26.2 miles through New York City to celebrate it all.  

That's not to say my training has been stellar.  It's been meh at best.  My left leg never got the memo that we were going to crush this training cycle and therefore never got on board with all the speedwork my coach and I had planned.  With the exception of the first few weeks and a handful of runs in these later weeks, I rarely got into beast mode during training.  I've struggled with disappointment over that, but there have been no pity parties.  Because guess what...I still get to run the New York City Marathon!!!  I've still been healthy enough to put in the miles to prepare my body for a marathon, even if those miles were (in my own ridiculous opinion) nothing to write home about.  I've had to let go of Plan A and work Plan B as hard as I could, and that should come in handy on race day.


A Smooth Sea Never Made A Skilled Sailor
When I ran my first (and only) marathon, I often compared the training and the race to pregnancy and childbirth.  It's physically and emotionally draining.  The excitement, anticipation, and fear of the unknown are enough to drive you batty.  Race day comes, and it hurts and it's harder than you imagined.  Then you cross that finish line and for a brief moment, you forget every bit of pain and suffering you just endured over the last 26.2 miles + 16 weeks of training before it.  Elation.  Relief.  Amazement that you did what you just did.  

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For me, it took a bit of time before I was ready to do it all over again.  As if by magic, the stars aligned to bring me back to my roots in New York for my second marathon, and it's already been so different than the first time.  This time, I have a team of big hearted people sharing this experience with me, and the race is almost secondary to the work we did just to be able to toe the line.  Together, Cancer Better Run has raised $16, 225 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  A drop in the bucket when it comes to the cost of cancer research, treatment, and patient support, but it's a number we're incredibly proud of.

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This time, I'm feeling pure excitement as I go through a three week taper.  12 days out before my first marathon, my body had betrayed me with IT band syndrome and even walking was painful.  If there wasn't already doubt that I could run a marathon, this certainly brought it to the forefront of my mind.  Today, I know my body may rebel a little, but I know it is capable of running strong in New York.  

This time, my spirit is energized.  11 days out before my first marathon, my mother-in-law, Peggy, lost her battle with cancer.  I ran Shamrock just a week after we laid her to rest.  Three and a half years later, this loss is still more profound than I ever imagined.  My family has been forever scarred, and raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has been my way of giving cancer a big ol' middle finger.  Cancer may have won that battle, but the war is still raging.  And since my engagement ring features the diamond Ryan's dad gave Peggy when they got engaged, I'll be carrying her with me for a 26.2 mile, 5 borough tour of New York City.  Happy early Birthday, Peggy.



I'm ready.  I'm so ready.  The Big Apple is waiting and I'm ready to take a bite.


If you'd like to follow along, the best way is to download the New York City Marathon app.  It features a calendar of race weekend events, spectator course maps, and live tracking of your favorite runners.  Search "TCS NYC Marathon" in your app store to download it for free.  If you plan to be out on the course, please text me or send me a Facebook message so I know where to look for you...I'll need all the good mojo I can get!  I'm hoping to get another post in next week, but time is tight so this might be it until the race recap.   

Although I've been trying for years to bring "holy smokes" back into vogue, this is far more effective. And in neon.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

New York City Marathon - Week 10

"All I wanna do is
zooma zoom zoom zoom
and a boom boom
(don't break ya rump)."

~Wreckx n' Effect (Fancy's marathon remix)

As we get further into training and the weeks tick by at warp speed, these posts get harder and harder to write.  I look at the pictures and remember taking them, but they seem like a lifetime ago, not just days ago.  Part of it is probably that I do most of my runs before my brain is fully awake yet, but it's mostly because my days are filled to the brim, juggling all the hats I wear.  It's both exhausting and exhilarating at the same time.  Normally, writing would be the first thing I take off my plate when life gets hectic, but I know I'll regret not keeping some sort of written record of this journey, so I forge ahead with Week 10's recap.

MONDAY
6 miles total with 4 conservative tempo miles
Thanks to my unhappy hip, most of my miles have been at an easy pace.  While I'm thankful to be able to still put in the miles, they are starting to feel like a bit of a grind.  These runs have not excited me nor given me the boost of confidence one needs at this stage of marathon training.  To change up my headspace a little, I dusted off the pretty blue Nikes I normally reserve for speed work and wore them for this tempo run.  If I'm wearing my fast shoes, then I'll run fast, right?

I wasn't sure what my target pace would be for those tempo miles, but I knew it certainly wouldn't be 5k pace.  I just went out and ran a comfortably hard pace that I thought I could hang on to for 4 miles.  And while the paces I found comfortably hard were slower than I would have liked them to be, I was pleased that the hip and hamstring felt decent during and after.  It's gotta be the shoes.

TUESDAY
Easy 8 miles + dry needling
As I mentioned, all these easy miles are starting to feel a bit monotonous, especially since I run a lot of them in the same general area.  I had to switch it up a bit for this 8 miler, so I threw it back to 2011 when I was training for my first half marathon and ran down Dam Neck and all through Ocean Lakes.  
It's where I did the majority of my long runs - including my first ever 10 miler - for that training cycle, and between the nostalgia and the realization of how far I've come as a runner, it was a truly enjoyable run...dreadfully easy pace and all.  

I had my arse dry needled later that morning, and PT Lauren and I were both really pleased with how little the hip musculature was jumping now compared with when I first came to her.  I was in and out of my appointment and right on time for lunch at school with my girls.  But all day, I couldn't stop thinking about milkshakes, and somehow I managed to work one into my day.  Pregnant?  Nope.  Just marathon training.  They're similar like that.  

Next time I get a bigger one.  A much bigger one.

WEDNESDAY
3 x 1600s
I tried my damndest to fit this workout somewhere else this week but this day had to be the day. Since I got needled the day before, my pace for the mile repeats was going to be determined by my level of soreness. Zero soreness = move your ass!  While the 1600s were significantly slower than I would have preferred to do them (and have done them in the past), I kept reminding myself there was no need to run that fast right now.  I won't come anywhere near those paces on race day, and it's not worth blowing my body up just to feel better about the numbers.  

I didn't get any photos before, during, or right after the run, but I did get a good chuckle about where I charge my watch these days.  I have a solid 30 minute commute to and from work, so I can charge my watch without missing out on any step counting and mile tallying.  It's important to keep myself in check in these late weeks!

And keeping myself in check usually doesn't mean wearing high heels at the end of a long day, but on this particular day it did.  The price you pay for being Fancy (and working for some amazing people) is a mid-week gala with my guy.  And my feet did just fine.


THURSDAY
yogahhhhhhhhh
I never have much to say about yoga other than ahhhhhhhhhhh.  I love you.

And not only do I charge my watch in my car now, but sometimes I eat dinner there.  Don't worry...I only take photos (and text and Facebook and Instagram) at red lights.    


FRIDAY
Long run (12.2 miles)
When you're training for a marathon, at some point you consider 12 miles "just 12 miles."  I have reached that point.  I paid little attention to my nutrition and hydration the day before these miles, and I was hoping I wouldn't suffer too greatly for it.  12 miles is still 12 miles and your body doesn't care that you did 18 the week before...it's work.  And it was hot.  And there were snakes.
Thanks to our mother hustler schedules not jiving very well the past few weeks, I had the rare opportunity to run these miles with Sara at First Landing.  Aside from us nearly stepping right on this guy as he crossed the trail, it was great to catch up on life and running on a gorgeous September morning.  

SATURDAY
1 mile beach walk + 3.3 easy miles
I was going to the beach this day come hell or high water.  I got jipped out of my beach day last weekend and I wasn't letting it happen again.  It's late September and we don't know how many more beach days we'll get.  I knew I wanted to get 4ish miles in, but I was in no rush.  In an effort to soak up as much of the salt air as I could, I headed south for a little walk to cut down on the miles I'd have to run on the blacktop later.  Beach walks are always a good idea.

SUNDAY
Rest (like for reals)
My rest days have been more restful these days.  It's needed.  My body is tired, and it's amazing how one little day off can recharge your battery for the next week. I think I reached maybe 25% of my normal daily steps and it was glorious.  And I also found this fun little watch face app for my Garmin that counts down the days until the race.  I'm in love.  And see that?  8:46pm and I'm in bed.  

With only 6 weeks to go, the next few weeks are going to be tough.  If I can hang on for another 3 weeks, I'll be rewarded with a solid taper.  I also booked my plane ticket for New York this past weekend.  It's really happening.  In 42 days.  Ermagerd.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

New York City Marathon - Week 9

"Ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes..."
~David Bowie

Week 9, you were a blur.  But I strapped in, held on tight, and enjoyed the ride.  From a training logistics standpoint, I was supposed to have a cut back week.  But my training plan has gone rogue as I deal with this little hip issue, and since I felt great after my 17 miler last weekend, I really wanted to keep the momentum going and increase the mileage again this week.  This change was Coach Bob and PT Lauren approved and it was full steam ahead.

MONDAY
6 easy miles + PT exercises + dry needling
My hip has been feeling really good lately.  Not 100% and not ready to kill any kind of speedwork, but ready to push the pace a little quicker than I have been in the past couple of weeks.  To be honest, these slow paced runs have been getting to be a bit of a drag and I ran 2 of these 6 miles a little faster just to break up the monotony.  I'm sticking to the 3/10 rule for discomfort, and thankfully the hip has been staying below that 3.  I loved breathing a little harder on this run, but I did not love how dark it still was when I finished.  

After getting the kids off to school and a quick shower for me, I did a big thing:


I started my new job at J&A Racing!!!  Crazy pants.  I'll be taking the helm of their retail operation next spring, so right now I'm learning how to do my future job.  I wasn't looking for work - in fact, I was wondering how I could clear my plate a little and really focus on training for New York - but this opportunity was too good and too compatible with my primary role of wife and mom to pass up.  I still can't believe I get to do this.

After work, it was home to get the kids off the bus and back out to PT for some more dry needling.  The girls got to watch this time...that was interesting.

TUESDAY
MY Ride w/Mike
I sat in the back row this time...I normally like the front row because a) the air flow seems better and b) I don't have to look at anyone's ass in front of me for 45 minutes.  But it was kind of nice to just do my thing without feeling like anyone was watching me.

When I got home, Kristy alerted us all to an email we received about our fundraising status:
Um, yeah...this is out of all teams raising money for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to run the NYC Marathon.  We're in 3rd place, with 4th place right on our heels and 2nd place totally within reach.  It was just the push we needed to dust off our fundraising hats and get back to working for donations.  

WEDNESDAY
5 miles with 3 at marathon pace + PT exercises + dry needling
This workout lit the fire again for me.  It was hot and the humidity came back with a vengeance, as evidenced by my nest of a ponytail I finished the run with.
But I was able to push myself for 3 miles at a pace I haven't seen since I started PT, and the hip felt good doing it.  This run truly set me up to kick ass all day long.  
I'll spare you the play by play of how this day went down, but let's just say I killed it.  And I slept really well that night.  

THURSDAY
6 easy miles
This run was nothing to write home about, but I'm proud of it because I didn't look at my watch once.  These miles were totally by feel, and once I finished and looked at my splits, I was pleasantly surprised by the perfect progression of negative splits that happened naturally.  I knew I needed to save everything I had for Friday's long run, and I was able to do just that.  I didn't get a photo during or right after the run, so here's a shot from where I parked for work on Thursday.

FRIDAY
18 miles with Kerry
  Ooooooh this run.  In an ideal world, I would've started this beast long before the sun came up and finished just as it started to get hot.  But that just wasn't my reality on Friday, so I had to start this run at 8:30 and endure the heat and humidity Mother Nature thought would be cute.  
Kerry and I met at the aquarium and got along on our merry way.  She immediately scolded me for not carrying water with me.  The thing is, I bought myself a FlipBelt at the start of the summer and hate it.  It doesn't let my shorts move the way they need to and I end up with hellatious chafing in so many god forsaken places.  I'll give the FlipBelt a second chance when the weather cools down enough for capris and tights, but it ain't happening with shorts again.  
I did have a hydration plan though, so don't think I'm a total bonehead...we were running along the oceanfront and into First Landing State Park, where there are ample opportunities to stop at a water fountain, which we did. The shade of the park was so refreshing, but once we emerged and hit the blazing sun again, we were both feeling less than amazing.  But oh, thank heaven for 7-11!!!
A gatorade and a cup of ice later, we were off to finish the rest of that run.  We stopped a bunch of times along the way...sometimes for water, sometimes for shade, sometimes because it was just so f-ing hot.  But we finished that run strong and could only tell ourselves race day should be cooler.  Hopefully much, MUCH cooler.
After I finished, I walked around in the shade for a while before feeling the need to kick my shoes off and get off my feet.  What better place than the aquarium parking lot to sit and enjoy a water bottle full of Tailwind (part of my amazing hydration plan was having a full bottle in the car for when I finished and needed replenishment).  I got up and went home before anyone had the chance to offer medical assistance.


After Week 8's 17 miler, I rode my beach cruiser around Norfolk, which I think helped contribute to my quick recovery.  I employed the same strategy after Friday's 18 miler by riding my bike up to Green Flash for hydration, calorie replacement, and leg elevation.


I also returned later than evening for another dose of hydration with Sara, who beasted out a 22 miler in that heat.  At this rate, we're going to need to modify our Cancer Better Run gear to read "Cancer Better Run - sponsored by Green Flash."

SATURDAY
Rest
I actually did rest a lot this time.  I planned to have my ass parked in a beach chair and toes in the sand most of the day, but through no fault of our own, only the former part of that plan came to fruition.  I sat in my beach chair in my driveway and got some work done while watching the Blue Angels air show and my kids played with their neighborhood friends.  We also got to go for a little joyride in my neighbor's antique (yet still younger than I am - don't get me started) Mercedes convertible.  I think we turned a head or two going through the Wendy's drive thru for some Frosty's.  

SUNDAY
4 easy miles with a few passes over the Rudee Bridge
The thought of running another out-and-back down Nimmo Parkway bored me to tears, so I hopped in the car and had some bridges for breakfast.  It was another hot, sticky morning, but the breeze we're already getting from Hurricane No-Way Jose made it bearable, as did one of my favorite views of the water.
After this run, I had to scoot over to a far-too-lengthy training session to coach Girls on the Run at my girls' school, but I checked my weekly mileage after dinner and realized I was at 39.3.  Unacceptable.  So with a belly full of tacos and a Blue Moon Belgian Wheat Ale, I headed out to get that number to 40.  My first 40 mile week of this training cycle, and it just so happened to be my first week of work in almost 11 years.  From this day forward, I'll be trying my best to listen to the words of encouragement I give my girls...you can do hard things.  I can do this.  I am surrounded by the best people who push me, pull me, listen to me, guide me, run with me, and raise a glass with me.  Week 9 was a big one.  And I can do big things.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

New York City Marathon - Week 8

"You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I'll come running"
~ James Taylor

Week 8.  The halfway mark in our 16 week journey to the start of the NYC Marathon.  And the last day of summer vacation.  And the first day of school for my girls.  And last week of holding an official title of stay-at-home mom.  It was an emotional week, and I'm glad running - but more importantly my people - were there for me.

MONDAY
Easy 8

I was a little nervous about this run...my last attempt at more than 6 ended in a long walk home, but I was hopeful that keeping it slow and steady would allow me to finish all 8.  The running gods had my back on that one...it was a great run that included one stop at the world's coldest water fountain (because Sunday night included Green Flash).  

I hit the road again right after my thirst was temporarily quenched, and finished out the 8 miles with a 1 mile phone conversation with Dayna.  I never ever ever answer my phone mid-run, but I was craving company and what better company than your BFF.  

We really lucked out on the weather for Labor Day, and we hit the beach for one last hurrah before the school buses rolled in Tuesday morning.  
God help these kiddos...they all have runner moms and surfer dads.

TUESDAY
Easy 4 + PT exercises and dry needling

This run was totally boring, other than I ran into Karen and got to see her off on her mile repeats.

WEDNESDAY
Spin

I was invited to try out a new spin studio in town in a private session with my new coworkers.  They put me front and center...which authorities do I notify to report hazing of the new girl???

THURSDAY
Easy 5  + PT exercises and dry needling

I got to go for a moonlit run with my hubby at 5:45am.  The full moon was bright in the sky and we got to compare notes on training plans and race strategies.  Totes normal married people behavior.

One thing Week 8 reminded me of is that training for a marathon makes you hungry.  So very god damn hungry.  I took my mom out to lunch for her birthday and devoured every last bite of the most delicious balsamic steak and bleu cheese wrap you ever did see, and she may have been slightly disgusted about my membership to the clean plate club.  Dinner was no different.  I wanted something quick and easy - because I was so friggin hungry and didn't want to wait long for food to actually cook - so I whipped up this Asian quinoa concoction with chick peas, broccoli slaw, peanuts, and a homemade peanut dressing.  


I then proceeded to eat entirely too much of it and needed to walk around the block to aid digestion.  Luckily I had a willing companion.


FRIDAY
Easy 5
Rest (hang out with an inquisitive 4 year old and his copycat 2 year old brother) 

Lauren (PT extraordinaire) hit a new spot with the dry needling on Thursday, leaving me pretty sore on Friday, so I decided to let the hip rest up and save itself for Saturday's long run instead of running a few junk miles on Friday.  That worked out well, as I had been in a Benadryl haze for the better part of the week thanks to being stung by a bee last Sunday.  Five days later, this is what it looked like:

And since social media is a pretty reliable tool for diagnosing medical conditions, I dragged my little buddies to urgent care - on their last day with me, no less - to rule out a nasty infection.  The nurse practitioner didn't find my elephant arm as alarming as others did and instructed me to keep up with the benadryl but hang on to a prescription for antibiotics if the redness spread.  My worries were eased tremendously, so thank you to everyone on instagram who advised me to get it checked.

SATURDAY
17 miles

Not gonna lie.  This run scared me.  Like scurrrrred scared.  Not knowing how my hip would hold up was stressing me out, and I knew I'd be so much better off having company for as many miles as I could muster.  Enter Team Cancer Better Run.


I made my way to the oceanfront to crash the J&A Training Team party and run with my people.  Karen and I did 6 miles at 6am before the rest of the training team kicked off at 7.  At 7, we headed out for 10 more miles, and Steve was with me as I tacked on one more to make my 17.  This run wasn't fast.  I stopped a number of times.  But there was no quit in me.  I set out to run 17 miles if my level of discomfort stayed below a 3 out of 10, so 17 miles I ran.  I'm not sure what would've happened if I had to run those miles by myself, but I do know I'd be bored to tears.  I am so thankful I had these people to pull me along, and it was great to meet the other runners they spend their Saturdays with.

One thing that makes marathon training such a challenge is that I'm still Mommy after I've run for 2.5 hours.  My kids still deserve my time and my energy, so once I've showered and refueled, it's always on to the next adventure.  On this particular Saturday, that adventure included packing up the bikes and heading out to Norfolk to explore some new (to us) bike paths and breweries.  And street corn from the food truck.



By the time I collapsed into bed, I had racked up some steps.

SUNDAY
Easy 4-or 5
Rest

I thought about going for a run pretty much all day Sunday.  My legs felt pretty decent after Saturday's 17 miler, and I definitely could have squeaked a few more miles out of the week, but I spent my energy around the house instead.  Ryan took the girls to the rec center so they could play while he got his swim done, and I stayed behind to clean.
Hahaha, me back about 10 years living with 3 grown ass men, one of which was mine so I didn't mind cleaning up after him but the other 2, oh man I wanted to choke them sometimes!

When they returned, the girls found some friends to play with and Ryan and I found some yardwork to get into.  I was pleasantly surprised by how good I felt all day, which made me really look forward to the coming week.  We're getting into the meat of training now, and we're going to have to dig deep.  I'm so glad I'm not the only one holding a shovel.

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