Cape Cod Marathon Chowder Challenge- Let the Training Begin!

I hope everyone had an amazing 4th of July! We had Jims family in town visiting last week and we did all of the tourist-y New England things that visitors think they should do. Overall, we had a great time and it was nice to have his family come see our lives out here and accept the east coast isn’t as bad as they thought it was. Jim also got to teach his nephew the glory he believes in Nintendo 64. From 1994. Yes, the real one.

His nephew is his mini-me. It's adorable.

His nephew is his mini-me. It’s adorable.

Other than the family time we stuck to our normal holiday traditions. The third was spent on a private beach with some of our best friends who are lucky enough to live on the cliff overlooking Manomet. Around 10:30 I could feel myself coming down with Jims sinus cold, so I went home and left him to drink his cold off with our friends. Surprisingly, I felt much better than he did yesterday. Who would have thought?

Happy Third!

Happy Third!

For the 4th, we spent the day with my family at my grandparents pool. It’s been a while since my whole family has been together and it was great to have so much love in one place. Of course, the kids were super excited for Jimmy to spend the day throwing them into the pool. I think he enjoyed it more than they did.

With all the quality family and friend time there hasn’t been much running the past few days. I’m more OK with it than normal because I’m taking advantage of the chance to re-charge my marathon-running-batteries before I start my 16-week training schedule for the Cape Cod Marathon on Monday. So while I wasn’t physically running, I used some of the down time to figure out how much running I’lI be doing for the rest of the summer.

like to do my research. I’m the type of student who will sit in the library from open-close when I have a term paper due printing 37 different articles, highlighting (always in yellow), cross-referencing and making sure I’ve approached the subject from every possible angle. The required page minimum is no issue. It’s the maximum that usually gets me in trouble.

The past few weeks I’ve taken the same approach to a training plan for the Cape Cod Marathon Chowder Challenge. I’ve never done a double race weekend before and I have absolutely no idea how I’m supposed to train for it. Add in the 5 half marathons, one 10K and one 7-miler I have before this weekend and I’m a little extra confused about the training approach.

There are a lot of training plans out there for races like this, specifically the famed Goofy Challenge the Disney World Marathon has every year. I think I’ve compared at least 10 plans and then compared the best of those to the official Cape Cod Marathon training plan. I knew up front a few adjustments would have to be made but I wanted a plan that I could make minimal changes to so I would fell like it was a real, tried and true plan. Earlier this week, I finally found one.

I have decided to go with Lee Hoedls Goofy Challenge plan. I like that it requires five days of running each week with two long runs back to back. I wanted a schedule that would still allow for the races I’m already signed up for in the 16-week time frame from now until I toe the Cape Cod starting line. Of course I will have to veer slightly a couple times, but overall the schedule works incredibly well with the goals I have for Cape Cod and the races in between.

Training officially starts on Monday for this 16-week program. One would think this is perfect timing, right? I get the holiday week to enjoy as I please and ease myself into a training schedule after my fun in the sun has passed. True, but there’s something else starting on Monday: Grad School. For the next 7 weeks I will be in class from 8am-2pm three days a week studying human biology. Then going to work. No big deal, right? Right. 

So for the rest of the weekend I’ll be analyzing every detail of the next 16 weeks of mileage and psyching myself up for the Chowdah Challenge. Ready…. Set…. Eeep!

What fall races are you in training for? Any tips for a double race weekend? Did you do anything over the top for the 4th? Let’s hear about it!


Thanks, Boston

Sometimes it takes a complete stranger to put things in perspective for you. Last night, I worked a private party for a solider returning from Kuwait. The party was about 30 or so older people congratulating an Army commander on his return from an overseas deployment that had lasted about a year. There were a lot of really kind words and big smiles. For all military families go through, it was really nice to see such a happy celebration. I had never met them and I couldn’t stop smiling for them.

Near the end of the meal a man in his 60’s walked over to me.

Man: “Excuse me sweetie, I heard you ran the Boston Marathon this year?”

Me: “Well, the first 22 miles of it, yes.”

Man: (extends hand) “I just wanted to congratulate you. I feel like with everything that happened you runners had your accomplishment, what you went through that day and the months of training overlooked. Congratulations young lady, I will be there cheering you on next year!”

I was dumbfounded. First, I had no idea how he found out I had run the Boston Marathon. I hadn’t said anything more personal than “Could I offer you another drink” to him at any point during the meal.

Secondly, the idea that this man wanted to go out of his way to congratulate me rather than offer his condolences. For the past two months every time someone has asked me about the race it has started or ended with “I’m so sorry you didn’t get to finish” or ‘Really makes you think how unimportant things like the actual race really are in the grand scheme of things”. For the first time since April 15 I felt proud of what I had done that day rather than guilty for being one of the 27,000 reasons people were drawn into a trap.

I’ve learned a lot about myself from this years race. A few days after the race Jim and I went to dinner and I confessed that I hated my job. Jim simply said “So quit”. That was it. No plan, no what-if’s. Just quit. His idea is that if it wasn’t making me happy, pack my desk and find something that would.

And that’s what I did. That Friday was my last day in marketing, and by the next Tuesday I was re-enrolled in my graduate program as a full time student. I’ve never been one to pull the trigger on life that quickly but if Boston taught me anything, it’s that life is short and precious. Don’t take it for granted and don’t think you can do anything tomorrow.

I’m not trying to pretend that I had all positive, life-affirming moments after Boston. It wasn’t until last week that I started to sleep through the night, and even that has only been a couple nights. I still can’t bring myself to display my medal, race bib or anything else from that day. I certainly couldn’t run the One Run Boston last month and cross the finish line. Not yet. Not without 26.19 miles behind it.

One day this will find its place in my house. For now, the sock drawer will do.

One day this will find its place in my house. For now, the sock drawer will do.

I’m trying to take a silver lining and let my experiences have an overall positive effect on my life. I can’t control what happened, and I can’t go back in time and warn everyone. But I can live my life to the fullest and take pride in the 22 miles that I accomplished.

Last Minute Racer

I’ve been debating for a while of running a half marathon this month to help in my Newport Marathon training. I had to miss the Jamestown stop of the UHC Triple Crown (of course, the one I was looking forward to the most!) and I’m trying to get my competitive running juices flowing.  I know, I don’t really have competitive juices. A girl can dream.

While I was looking through half marathons I was thinking about the last distance race I did- The Providence Half. I went into that fresh off an injury, a bow out from Boston and an overall question of why I bother running. I “ran” it just to finish it, and I affectionately refer to it as my “walking tour of Providence”. Before that was Boston training, and before that was the NYC Half Marathon. In 2011. It’s been 18months since I really raced a race. There has been tons of training, lots of long runs, even a few races; but nothing I actually went into wanting to race. This is an issue.

I’ve been running and training for Newport, and I’m going into this to race because of that little side bet I have going on. While I am confident I can race Newport, I don’t think I should go into it without having raced anything else first. I need to figure out how to really push myself and not take the safe route I’ve been comfortable in. After over training for Boston I’ve been hesitant to up my mileage very much. My longest run this training cycle has been 14 and I have zero intention of going above 18. The one part of training I’ve really improved on this cycle is listening to my body. If it hurts I rest it. If it doesn’t feel right I lay off. It seems to be working for keeping me healthy, but doing very little to help me get speedy. On a brighter note, my knee is feeling good thanks to a new trick I’ve taught myself. KT Tape plus an IT Band strap means no knee pain for this girl. And it’s pretty. That helps too.

My KT Tape matches my sneakers. We’ll pretend that’s an accident.

If I’m going to start racing that also means I need to start fueling and cross training better. Summer is always hard for me because there are lots of cookouts, lots of cocktails and lots of time on the boat.

Boat Life = The Good Life

None of this makes me sad. It does make me the slow kid on the track, though.  It’s hard to fit everything in, and Yoga has most certainly taken the biggest hit. Remember that New Years goal of 100 hot yoga classes? Not even close. Dinner last night? Salad. And fried brocilli cheese bites.

Heaven in a deep fried coating.


There is a lot I need to work on over the next 10 weeks leading up to Newport. I need to focus on pushing myself. I need to get outside of my comfort zone. I need to go back to Yoga so I can touch my toes without feeling the stretch anymore. I need to not eat everything in sight that is covered in cheese. I need to foam roll more. I’m also approaching the 8 week mark where I try to cut out drinking. Oh boy.

So- what do you think- is a half this month and next month a good idea? If so, what are you racing in the New England area this month? Any awesome races I need to check out?

Back to Basics

I don’t know what the weather is like where you are, but here in Boston is it cold, rainy and overall not in any way offering motivation to get out of bed in the morning. It has been like this for the past 3 days and it did not help me do anything of any note this weekend. Other than napping. I took 3 naps on Saturday. I wish that was an exaggeration. I put in a load of laundry, took a nap. Paid some bills. Took a nap. Then I got my traditional day before a training schedule starts pedicure. And then took a nap.

Obnoxiously bright.


What is motivating? Today is the official start of my training program for the Amica Marathon in Newport on October 14. In case you haven’t noticed, the past few weeks around here haven’t been filled with a lot of actual running. There’s been a lot of spin, a little yoga, some Zumba and even a try at CrossFit. All of these made me respect different types of workouts and excited to build some new cross training into my schedule, but more than anything they made me miss running. I think after the way my Boston training season ended I needed a mental break as badly as I needed a physical one.

Two months without a training schedule and I feel more refreshed than I ever have and ready to start training. I’m taking what I learned from my last training cycle and applying it to this one…

I Need To Take Nutrition More Seriously: I am terrible about saying “I’m training for a marathon, of course I can eat a massive amount of mac and cheese”. Yes Caitlin, I partially blame you for this. But I always feel the difference in my workouts when I eat cleaner, healthier meals.

Hot dog mac and cheese, crabcakes, fries and wine is not a well balanced meal. I should realize this.


I Have to Lean to Negative Split: For more than a 3 mile run. I’m terrible at this. I need to learn to pace myself, and to power through feeling tired. I can just say “Of course the second half will be slower” any more.

I Will Be More Accountable: Every run matters.  I will get tired. I will be sore. Not hurt, but sore. I will not always want to wake up at 5:30 to get in my run before work. But I want to win this bet, and I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.


Tonight I will run 1 mile. That’s right. One. Mile.

I’m taking the beginner schedule that my wonderful Miles for Miracles coaches gave us at the beginning of last season. Coming off of an injury and two months of not a lot of running, I don’t want to kill myself in the beginning.

I asked Jim what his training plan was for this, and he said “I’ll start training a month of so before if I have time.” Well, that’s one way to go about it. Part of me thinks he’s sneaking in 15 mile runs and not telling me. The other part of me really hopes he decides to skip the whole training thing and makes this easy for me. I guess we’ll find out. He’s certainly not taking the nutrition thing very seriously.

No fork? He doesn’t let that get in his way.


What Fall races are you training for? Any races coming up between now and then you’ll be using as a baseline? Jamestown anyone?

What Not Running the Boston Marathon Taught Me

It’s been a really rough few days. I pictured Marathon Monday going a lot of ways, but not starting was never a consideration. Then again, open deferment had never been a consideration for the BAA either. I guess it’s been a weekend of circumstance for everyone.

Not running on Monday was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. For 5 months, my life was training for Boston. Everything I did was planned around training runs. I barely went out, I spent an abnormal amount of time with my foam roller, and when people asked what my weekend plans were the response was always how long my long run was that week. Giving up the culmination of all of that hard work crushed me. I cried. A lot. I was angry. Really angry. Dad took me out to lunch, tried to reaffirm that it was going to be OK with sesame chicken and egg rolls, and my fortune even tried tobrighten my day.

Nothing worked. So I did what any girl in my situation would do- I asked my boyfriend to sit on the couch with me while I got drunk and cried. And he did. A couple times. And for that, I love him. High-five love. He also took me to Saquish Monday night so I could be as far away from the city as possible.

That view in April doesn’t stink.

Perfect morning view. Well, as perfect as it was going to feel.

But when I woke up Tuesday morning, my raging hangover reminded me of a thing or two…

The people in my life who matter love me not because I run marathons, most of the time, in spite of the fact that I run marathons. Dealing with a marathon runner is not an easy feat. They talk a lot about themselves, their training and their splits. Things that, unless you are a runner, you don’t care about. But my amazing friends and family have listened for the past 5 months, and I know how lucky I am to have those people.

I love training, and I love running. I also love being alive. When the BAA emails you “Speed Can Kill” and reminds you this is not a race, but an experience, you start to realize the danger of what you’re getting into. I can’t run another race if I drop dead of a heat stroke or asthma attack during this one. Let’s try to mitigate the possibility of that.

The people who judge my decision to defer are going to judge and there is nothing I can do to stop them. I read a lot of angry comment that said “Anyone who defers doesn’t deserve a Boston bib!” and things of similar tones. I deferred. I am proud that I listened to the warnings of my coaches and doctor and didn’t end up in the ER. Am I still terribly disappointed that my 5 months of training ended without a race? Absolutely. But I made the decision that was best for my health, and I’m okay with that.

The sheer animosity towards charity runners is sad. Not everyone can claim a Boston Qualifier. Yes, some people use the charity program as a way to buy their way into Boston. However, there are exponentially more people who could care less about running Boston, but are genuinely out there to support a cause they are incredibly passionate about. There was a woman on my team who reminded me of this every week. With two children under 6 at home, she still made time to make it to training runs every Saturday. She was admittedly looking at a 6-hour finish at Boston, but she didn’t care. She was there to honor who son, who was born at 1lb and spent months fighting for his life in the Children’s Hospital NICU. If he could get through that, she could get through a marathon. There was not a day that went by at practice that I viewed this woman as anything less than an inspiration for all of us who were running.

I thought of her even more when I started reading the comments about how it was so unfair that charity runners were being allowed to defer to next year and were taking spots away from “real runners”. This woman is more passionate and embodies the spirit of a “real runner” more than anyone I’ve ever met. So for anyone who says that charity runners should be kicked out of Boston, I ask you to take a look at the stories of many people running for charity and then see if you’re still so cold hearted about it.

Listening to your body is the most important thing you can do. My body has been freaking out of my for the past 4 weeks. My IT band that had not bothered me all season seized up and threw a wrench in my training. I started being clumsy and walking into things, and most notably down a flight of stairs. Accidents happen, but it was becoming a little too often to overlook. I was exhausted all the time. I tried to power through workouts despite all of these feelings.  After my cortisone shot, I was told to not work out for 3 days. Then Saturday happened and I found out I would not be running Boston. Today marks 8 days since my last workout. While part of me is dying to get out the door, most of me has felt more refreshed and clear headed in the past 3 days than I have in a while. My body and mind needed a break, and Saturday forced me to take one.

For those of you who are curious, I still went to spectate. For all the support the team has provided to me during the past 5 months, I wanted to make sure I made it to Wellesley to show my support for them. I even wore my planned marathon outfit. And yes, I cried a little when I got dressed that morning.

I was so excited to see this I teared up.

Going to Wellesley to see the families come out to cheer was the best thing I could have done with my day. It reminded me why I wanted to run this marathon to begin with, and how happy my 5 months of effort made so many families.

I loved my outfit. Green compression socks are awesome. Kayla is great too.

What happened happened. I can’t change it. I can’t go back and decide it’s a good idea to run. But I can look forward to Boston 2013 and know that 18 months of training for one race is going to make it an even more fulfilling experience. So for now, I’ll look forward to the Providence half on May 6 and getting back to a training schedule.

To everyone who had kind things to say over the past few days, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. And for those of you who had not so nice things to say, sorry you feel that way.

See you in 2013 Boston! Did you run Monday? Was it everything you dreamed it would be? Did you defer? Let’s hear your Boston stories!

Weekend (and early week) Recap: 18 Miles, Heartbreak Hill and I Got Drunk Off of One Glass of Champagne

Happy Thursday everyone! I will admit, I started writing this post on Monday morning. It had started out like this…

“This week is already promising to be better than last. The sun is shining, it won’t be dark when I get home from work and the massage I got yesterday has helped improve my state of mind and my ability to stand up without a hint of soreness. All good things.”

Well, this week has been good, but man oh man has it been busy. Crazy busy. But, we’ll get to that.

Saturday morning was 18 miles out-and-back on the Boston Marathon course.  I started out solo as usual, but at the mile 2 water stop I met two great girls from my team who were running just about the same pace I was. I decided company is always nice, so we ran together and started chatting. Turns out, one of the girls (Katie) knows some of my best friends who live in North Caroline. Knows as in was the Maid of Honor in one of their brother’s weddings. Small world, huh? It was great to meet an unexpected mutual friend and have something to talk about for the three and a half hours of hills. Lots and lots of hills.

As we ran we both shared stories about why we were running and how we were at least attempting to balance training with having a life. It was encouraging to hear that I’m not the only person who stays in on Friday nights, is too tired to go out on Saturday nights a lot of the time and gets teased by their friends for constantly saying “Sorry guys, can’t make it, training run”.

We couldn’t have asked for better weather for the long run this weekend. I realize that everyone training for Boston (or any race) this winter has been incredibly spoiled weather-wise. There was only one run in the snow, and one in a wind/rain storm. Compared to last winter where the snow mounds on the side of the Carriage Road were 7 feet tall, we have no right to complain. Saturday was low 50’s with a slight breeze. This amazing training weather does have me slightly convinced that race day is either going to be 90 degrees without a cloud in the sky or 50 and flooding rains. I’m from Massachusetts, we’re skeptical when we get too much good weather.

A few water and stretch stops, more than a couple stops waiting for traffic signals to change and a walk up the last hill on the way back (I hit a very frustrated wall), I think my actual time was somewhere around 3:32. I never pause my Nike+ while on long runs. I try not to pay attention to it, and if it messes up a couple splits when I stop for water or stretch a quad, well it is what it is. Overall, I was perfectly happy with my time. Jeff says long runs reflect about :90/mile slower than we will do on race day, and a 10:30/mi race day is fine with me. Would I like to be closer to 9:50? Absolutely. But for my first Boston Marathon, I’m not complaining.

While I love training on the course, the whole out-and-back thing is getting intense. Those nice downhills on the way out become torturous uphills on the way back. Thankfully, when we got back on Saturday, Coach Jeff let us know that this was the last out and back involving HeartBreak Hill we’ll be doing. He also said that this run was harder than the actual marathon will be based on the number and incline of the hills. Sweet?

Post run I decided to conduct a little experiment of my own. Now, being a good marathoner, I know the importance of the post race celebration. Food, friends and (most importantly)- booze. I’m a good trainer- I don’t drink unless for very special occasions, I eat right and I try to get my 8 hours of shut eye. But once I cross that finish line, I’m all over it. Realizing that 4 months of no drinking may decrease my tolerance all by itself; then add in the 26.2 miles I’ll be running before that, and I realized I may need to do a “sobriety check” on myself. So after my 18 miles, I went home, took a long hot bath to relax my muscles, and then popped a bottle of prosecco and poured myself a glass. It was pretty.

I figured one glass while I cleaned up, made myself lunch and relaxed on the couch would be nice. And it was very nice. It was also quite powerful. Turns out, Brittany + One Glass of Prosecco = Drunk. This could present a problem on race day when the post race celebration gets crazy. From now on there will be a glass of wine post-run. You know… training. It’s ok, Coach Jeff signed off on this plan.

The rest of Saturday consisted of very little food, and a lot of stretching. I went out for a little bit to get some shopping done, and maybe eat a cannoli. Ok, I went out for the cannoli and shopping just sort of happened. I need to work on eating immediately after long runs. Right now, I usually just eat something that night, go to sleep, and wake up on Sunday morning so ravenous that I eat more than any normal person should in a 24 hour period. Not the best practice.

This ravenous eating lasted through mid day yesterday (Wednesday). Monday night was beautiful, so I went for a 4 miler… outside… after work. It was incredible. 61, sun setting and the most hopeful “Spring has Sprung” run I’ve ever had. I was in love. I was even more in love with the crabcake, whole wheat pasta and green beans that I made myself for dinner.

I love when I have time to actually make myself a real dinner. I’ve been doing it every night this week and it makes me feel like a healthier person. Except when I end with fudge cake topped with chocolate chip ice cream. That does not make me feel healthy.

Aside from the running and attempted healthy eating, this week has been filled with crazy busy work days, yoga, attempts at spinning and not so patiently waiting for Peyton Manning to pick a team. I did find an interesting article today on today, that actually suggested I should be “snacking” every 20-40 minutes while training. Really? 20-40 Minutes? Does no one else find this excessive?

Tonight I’m going for another 4 miles outside, even though it’s not nearly as nice as it was Monday. They can’t all be winners, but I guess I should run through it anyways.

How has your week been? Any fellow Boston-ers out there getting nerves yet. Maybe?

A Change of Scenery

Keep in mind, I’m writing from my bed right now. Last night I didn’t feel great, and it’s carried over into this morning. I woke up at 5:15 ready for a quick 4 miles, and the second I sat up I realized that the queasy feeling hasn’t gone away just yet. Back to bed, and working from home sounded like the ideal option. I leave for Florida on Friday morning. I’m not taking any chances here.

This weekend the team long run was in Cambridge. And Watertown. We also visited Boston, Brighton and Allston too. But Cambridge was my favorite. I’m a sucker for good scenery, and this run had plenty of it.

Oh Boston, you may have your flaws but you sure are pretty.

We met at the Publick Theater in Brighton at 8, and I quickly ate what I consider to be the breakfast of champions.

Picture of health right here

It was good to catch up with the team and see how excited everyone was about a run that did not include hills. People were a lot happier knowing that there wasn’t going to be a ridiculous incline for the last mile of this one. After the warmup, it was a little chilly so I kept my North Face on. BIG MISTAKE. I always seem to forget a couple key points when dressing for long runs:

–       We start at 8:30. It gets significantly warmer between 8:30 and 11am

–       It may be 30 outside right now, but I will feel like it’s 45 in about 10 minutes.

–       Sweatshirts are heavy, and any extra weight is not appreciated around mile 9.

I will eventually learn to remember these things. This just wasn’t the week it happened. But what did happen this week? I ran without music, for the first time in my life. Maybe it was the pretty view, maybe it was my desire for some peace and quiet, but for the first time ever I took the headphones off and ran with the thoughts in my head. It was amazing. I may do this more often.

I think one of my favorite things about running in silence is it didn’t give me any perspective about how far or fast I was going. I normally have my pace pretty set and in my head I can say “this many songs is this many minutes, I should be at this distance by now”. Without music, you have no concept about how far or fast you’re going. It’s one of the few situation in life where the saying “Ignorance is Bliss” applies.

The scenery didn’t hurt either. Running along the Charles past Harvard is one of my favorite runs in the world. It makes me forget about my usual less than loving relationship with Boston. It’s flat, gorgeous and there are so many other runners out there on a Saturday morning you feel like part of a greater community. It’s hard not to find smiling runners with this view.

Marathon training hurts, but the view makes it better

Now, I’m not quite sure where or when this happened, but I took a wrong turn or two along this run because I did not encounter a water stop the entire time. Normally, if I know I’m not going to have a water stop I throw a few bucks in my iPod case so I can stop at a store and grab a bottle of water. Not thinking this was a concern, I was cash and card less. This became a serious issue around mile 10. I was dying for a drink, and I was still 4 miles out from the base. I ran the last 4 fast than 6-10, simply out of thirst. Probably not the wisest move ever, but yellow Gatorade has never tasted so good.

This was the first week that the sore set in. I’ve been lucky with training so far. I can certainly feel the impact, but I hadn’t really been SORE at any point. After I got home from the run Saturday, that changed pretty quickly. I changed, took a shower, and felt like absolute junk for the rest of the day. I did make my new favorite post run breakfast though.

Love in a cup.

This weeks training is going to be a little different. I leave for Florida Friday morning, and I asked Coach Jeff how I should handle my long run. He told me that any mileage done in a 24 hour period can be considered a long run, so if I broke the 15 miles I had to do into 2 or 3 runs, it would still count. This means that Thursday is going to kick my butt this week. Seven and a half before work, seven and a half after. Eeep.

Have you had to change up your training schedule like this? How did you feel after? I’m slightly afraid it’s going to kick my butt, or afraid I’ll love it and next weekends 17-miler is going to seem even more daunting. Advice?