False Start and Some Training Goals

While I’m a sucker for happy endings, I’ve always enjoyed the start of things more. Whether it be a movie, first day at a new job or a vacation, the first day is always full of possibilities and potential. Over the course of whatever it is there will certainly be ups and downs, but the start is filled with hope and anticipation. It shouldn’t come as a shock that this is also how I feel about my marathon-training schedule.

I woke up yesterday morning after a pretty rough night of sleep and hurried myself off to my first day as a full-time grad student. It all seemed so fitting: first day of school, first day of training, all my new beginnings rolled into one. I got to class with 30 seconds to spare, opened my planner to see how much mileage I’d be doing when I got home when I saw a note I never expected.

Yes, I have every run for the next 16 weeks written out. And non run days. Just to clarify.

Yes, I have every run for the next 16 weeks written out. And non run days. Just to clarify.

How I didn’t realize that I had created my schedule to have Monday rest days is a little beyond me, but somehow that fact had exited from my mind. A normal person may have thought “Perfect, first day of school and all I need to do is study. Great planning, Brittany.” All I thought was “No, this can’t be right!”.

There was something about starting everything at once that I was quite excited about. I slumped in my chair a little and reminded myself that it was still the first day of my training schedule and by resting I was abiding by the schedule. I didn’t like it but I agreed to it. Hmphf.

I’m pretty excited about taking on a new kind of training schedule, this one having two long runs each week. This weeks workouts look like this.

Monday- Rest

Tuesday- 3 miles with hills

Wednesday- 3 easy miles

Thursday- Rest

Friday- 3 miles at MGP

Saturday- 13.1 miles (Jamestown Half Marathon)

Sunday- 6 miles

I had to reverse the long runs this week to accommodate for the Jamestown Half being on Saturday rather than Sunday. Other than that, I think the run I’m most nervous for in Friday’s MGP miles. I think if I knew what my goal pace was I’d feel better but I’m still trying to figure that out. I guess I have until Friday to figure that out.

So while I didn’t get to run yesterday I did use the time wisely. I got to spend the afternoon with my dad who is currently down with a couple broken ribs thanks to a graceful fall from a ladder on the 4th of July. I swear the man is gifted in coming up with new ways to injure himself. There was one time when I was in high school and I came back from vacation to find my dad with 12 new stitches in his chin. Apparently when he got home from bringing me to the airport he went back into his bedroom, put one foot in the laundry basket and tumbled into his dresser. He went to work with a band-aid before a co-worker informed him he was still bleeding pretty profusely and may want to have that looked at. That’s my dad!

With my dad on college graduation day. His most recent stitches had just healed.

With my dad on college graduation day. His most recent stitches had just healed.

I also used the time to think about my training more than the actual race. I thought about my past few training sessions and where I could improve. I went through a lot of my old Nike+ data and came up with three goals for this training session.

  1. Every run will be outside. Every. Single. Run. I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t predict the weather on race day. The only way to not stress out about that is to train in every possible condition so no matter what race day brings you can say “No biggie. Been there, done that”. So from here on out, there will be no treadmill love in my life.
  2. Cross train at least 3 days a week. I tend to focus solely on running when I start a training schedule. This time I want to make sure I’m not cutting out spin classes or Group Power just because I’m running a marathon in the fall. I love my cross training and I honestly believe my running is strongest when I’m hitting spin and yoga on a regular basis.
  3. Fuel my runs with real, healthy food. I tend to be the person that will eat a big bowl of pasta or a pizza the night before a long run and say “whatever, I’m running 17 miles in the morning!”, then wonder why I felt like crap 5 miles in. I’ve been cooking a lot more recently and coming up with some amazing healthy, fueling recipes that I can’t wait to share.
This is a frittata filled with veggies and healthy cheese. I'm unusually proud of myself.

This is a frittata filled with veggies and healthy cheese. I’m unusually proud of myself.

I know there will be good runs and bad runs. Some days I’ll wonder why the hell I signed up for this is the first place and want to sit on my couch with a bottle of wine and a plate of mozzarella sticks. And on days like that I’ll remember people like Ali, Jeff and the countless others who can’t run right now no matter how badly they want to. I’ll remember that on April 21, 2014 I’ll be back in Hopkinton getting my third chance at Boston. And then I’ll start.

What Fall races are you training for? Any training advice you’d like to share? Did your dad hurt himself in some ridiculous way too? I would like to hear all of your stories. Please and thank you. 

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!

Start Running. There is No Step Two.

Have you ever seen “How I Met Your Mother”? I’m just going to go ahead and assume that you’re nodding your head in agreement and will completely understand the characters I’m going to refer to and be able to add their little inflections in yourself. If not, my apologies and please consult your On Demand during your next well earned couch ride. You’ll thank me later.

There is an episode in season two where Marshall decides on day in April that he’s going to run the NYCM that year. I’m going to overlook the incredible odds of deciding to take up running in April, register for the NYCM lottery, get in and train without a hitch here. There just isn’t enough time to rant appropriately. Anyways, Marshall trains for the NYCM and the day before the race he breaks his toe. Barney scoffs at the idea that Marshall even trained for this race to begin with and when everyone reminds him that a marathon is a true feat of human endurance, Barney utters these words of sheer genius.

“Um, guys, here is how you run a marathon. Step one: Start running. There is no step two.”

Despite the story ending with Barney running in Marshalls place, finishing the race then being unable to use his legs and getting stuck on the subway for six hours; this has been my personal mantra for every race I’ve ever run. Since my first road race was the Chicago Marathon and a few friends thought I was absolutely insane for going from 0 to 26.2 (I would agree with them in hindsight), I had to remind myself that this was no different than a 5K they had all run. Just start running. That was all I had to do.

I look excited. That's to mask the sheer panic.

I look excited. That’s to mask the sheer panic.

This morning I shared those same words of wisdom on one of my best friends, Ida. Now something you should know about Ida up front is that she is in incredibly good shape and can kick my running butt on a spin bike any day of the week. She’s the girl who screams ‘Woo!” with the instructor from the bike and gets the energy of the whole room up. Yes, she was a college cheerleader. Who would have guessed?

Every time Ida asks me about my runs she does two things. The first is to call me a crazy person, the second is to say she wishes she were a runner. I’ve told her time and time again that she should just come with me for a run. I’d be easy on her. It would be as good for me as it would be for her because it would give me someone to run with and her someone to “coach” her through it. Disclaimer: I am not a coach. I’m not even kind of a coach. But I can read the “Couch to 5K” plan online and do it with someone.

So this morning Ida finally took me up on my offer and met me at my house at 8am. The first 5 minutes of stretching was filled with her repeating the words “I’m going to die”. I assured her she would not die and that we’d keep an easy 11:00/mi pace just to ease her into it. She told me she didn’t know if she could even run a mile at a 13:00 pace, never mind 11:00. That’s when I told her “Just start running. There’s no step two”. And off we went.

Fifteen minutes later we were back in my driveway slightly sweaty and very proud of ourselves. Her for making it through 1.38 miles in the pace I promised, me for actually keeping her at the pace I’d promised. I’ve always been very bad at pacing myself but apparently I have a knack for pacing other people. Not quite sure how that’s possible but I guess it works for me.

She agreed to run again Thursday and join me for 2-3 runs a week during the summer. Not the winter. She said I’m out of my mind if I think she’s running when it’s cold outside. Can’t really blame her for that one. I told her when November rolls around I’ll teach her some treadmill work outs. And I’ll start with the same words. Just start running.

How was everyone’s weekend? Any races or awesome workouts? I want to hear all about them! 

For The Love of Endorphins. And Beer.

photo 1

The best item in the 2013 Boston Marathon swag bag.

Some workouts are done with a specific goal in mind. A BQ at the next marathon. New distance acheivements. To win an impossible bet with your 6’5” boyfriend that was entered into over one too many beers. That last one just me? Ok. Fine. You know you’ve done it too but I’ll let you pretend.

Yesterdays workout was done with a less athletic goal in mind. Beer. Sam Summer to be specific. Jim came home with a twelve pack of the good stuff on Monday night and it has been staring me in the face every time I’ve opened the fridge since. Even though summer has yet to make an appearance for more than a few hours around here, rumor has it that it’s bathing suit season. With that in mind, I have been abstaining from the joy of an ice cold beer after long sweaty workouts. I knew I truly had to earn the beer this week. I may have taken that slightly overboard.

A morning of errands and healthy grocery shopping was followed by a morning Group Power class. I love Group Power and the way I feel like I’ve had my distance running butt handed to me following every class. If you’ve ever tried Crossfit, Body Pump or aerobics picture a combination of all three. It’s amazing but you most certainly feel it the next day if not immediately afterward.

After Group Power I went home and made Bob Harpers skinny pasta sauce to cover my spaghetti squash in. See, told you I went healthy grocery shopping. Does anyone else dream about food during their workouts or am I the only fat kid in the gym doing it? Just me. Again? Ok fine. Back to the pasta sauce. My amazing auntie Gina is full blooded Italian and I grew up eating her pasta sauce. Classico just isn’t doing it for me. Never mind all the sugar and chemicals in it. Just the taste alone. Ick.

Believe it or not, all these healthy things equal sauce. No sugar. No corn syrup. Imagine that.

Believe it or not, all these healthy things equal sauce. No sugar. No corn syrup. Imagine that.

Feeling fairly accomplished for my day off, I parked my butt on the couch for an hour and read this months Runners World. After Wednesday night it just felt right to read the stories about the true heroes from that day.

After a couple episodes the little voice in my head started whispering “You’re being lazy. Go do something productive”. It turned into more of a yell than a whisper rather quickly, so I went back to the gym for a run. Nothing crazy, especially since all the treadmill running I’ve had to do lately is boring the crap out of me. I have such a beautiful running route now that staring at a TV screen just feels terrible.

My obsession with Nike+ is still going strong.

My obsession with Nike+ is still going strong.

I got home, checked the sauce was doing what Trainer Bob told me it should be doing and jumped into a wonderfully hot shower on a rainy day. I don’t like warm showers. I prefer to feel like an ambulance may need to be called at some point if I stay in one spot too long. My only mandatory criteria in the rental property was that it had incredibly hot water and good water pressure. The beach was a bonus.

After drying off and changing into sweats I re-parked my butt onto the couch and saw a text from my friend Ida.

“Spin?!?”

Sure?

I knew going into it that the class would be downright painful. My legs were already pretty tired from the two other workouts of the day but I love spin and there was a different instructor Ida had been telling me to try. So I went. It was worth it.

John’s class is all up tempo, upbeat, happy riding. Yes, the hills made me want to cry at certain points. I cursed his name and swore I would come back next week and do twice as many hills if he promised to let me off the hook. No deal. Oh well, I tried.

The end of the hour came faster than I could have expected and to be honest, I wanted to keep going. I was on that crazy endorphin high usually reserved for 16 miles into a run where you haven’t hit the wall quite yet and feel like you could run on forever. I took that feeling home with me where I fell onto the couch in a post long run glory type of way.

Thankfully Jim came home soon after because I’m pretty sure if I was left to my own devices I would have slept in my sweaty clothes right there. The endorphins were still there but even those weren’t enough to get me on my feet at that point. I yelled to Jim to take the pizzas out and he yelled the three words every woman loves to hear at the end of a long day.

“Want a beer?”

Yes. Yes I did.

Cheers and happy Friday everyone! Are you running any races this weekend? Let me know!

Getting Back to Normal

You may be wondering where I’ve been. To be honest, I was wondering that for a while too. Life has thrown more than a few curveballs in the past few months and while they all were leading to something pretty fantastic they certainly threw me off my game for a bit there.

From the time I was born I have not been known as one to seek out major life change. Arriving a month and a half past my due date (sorry, mom!) my family eventually admitted they should have taken that as a sign that I am content in routine and will change that routine in my own good time. So when I came home in October and broke the news to my family that Jim and I were buying a house 45 minutes away from them and I left my job to take a new position closer to the new house they were understandably a bit shell shocked. To be honest, I was too. At 27, I was finally ready for the much needed life change I had been craving for so long.

October feels like a world ago. The universe decided to have some fun with my little plan and challenged my Type A personality in a declaration of war type way. I’ll sum it up like this- if you can at all avoid it- do not buy a short sale house. We spent 5 months with our money and time sucked up into a home that fell through on closing day. I cried for days. I refused to see any silver lining in the situation and every time someone reached out to offer their sympathy about the situation I immediately had to hand Jim the phone while I had a mini breakdown in the corner. It wasn’t dramatic at all, I promise. However if you happen to know of any official “Boyfriend of the year who stayed with a woman clearly having a psychotic break” awards, please let me know. A friend of mine wants to nominate someone. Again, just asking for a friend here.

A few weeks later Jim told me he found a perfect rental for us while I mourned the resale of our dream first home. He reminded me that there will be a million other houses and that this was a great opportunity for us to take a year and live together in a setting outside of my moms house and do whatever we want. After all, we didn’t have a mortgage to worry about. We looked at the rental house, I cried again, and told Jim do whatever he wanted I would hate everything anyways. Again with the positive outlook on life. I’m a winner.

We moved in last month and I have to admit I couldn’t be happier. It’s a perfect house for just the two of us, located 5 minutes from my job and 10 minutes from his. Grad school is 25 minutes away. Oh, and this is our backyard.

 

 

This does not suck. In the least.

This does not suck. In the least.

Overall I’m adjusting pretty well and I think running has been a huge part of that. I’m such a creature of habit and as strange as it sounds, changing my morning routine was my biggest concern about moving. No longer would I have a Marylou’s Coffee shop where everyone not only knew my name but usually had my coffee made perfectly waiting for me by the time I walked through the door. I wouldn’t have a quick breakfast with my brother in the morning before we played musical cars for whoever had to leave first. For all the things I don’t have- I still have my run. It’s not at the same gym on treadmill days, it’s not in the cemetery on perfect weather mornings, but it’s still my run and that’s adjusting too.

These days every run is done with the end goal of a BQ at Boston 2014 in my head. It’s going to be tough. I’ve never really trained for speed before, I’ve only trained to finish. I’m excited for the challenge and ready to put in the work. Before Boston I have a slew of other races to get through, including my most ambitious race yet. In October I’ll be running the Cape Code Marathon Chowdah Challenge. Like the well known Goofy Challenge during the Disney World Marathon Race Weekend, it’s the half marathon on Saturday followed by the full 26.2 on Sunday. I’m excited. I’m terrified. I’m sore already.

If any of you nice folks have any advice on how to run a double race weekend and not die I’d love to hear it. Looking forward to more daily posts and getting back to the wonderful world of run blogs!

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?

Running Makes Me Happy

Some days it’s that easy.

Today it’s really that simple. Sometimes I forget how much I love running. When you have a training schedule or are coming off of an injury, it can seem a little daunting to get out there. There are days when you feel like crap, wonder why you do it and just want to hop on a spin bike or lay out your yoga mat for your workout. Then there’s the past couple days.

Saturday’s disastrous “Long Run” made me nervous for the remaining 15 weeks of my Newport Marathon training. Huffing and puffing on a two miler doesn’t bode well for the half marathon in Jamestown in July, never mind the 26.2 in October. When I set out Monday evening for my 1.5 miler around the cemetery I was cautiously optimistic. I was also immediately put into a good mood by an adorable little boy who was standing at his grandfather’s grave with his dad. He was telling Papa about his day, school and what his plans for the summer were. Keep in mind I was not being a creep and staring at them, I just happened to overhear all of this while I was stretching nearby. The little boy then said “Oh, and I got in trouble today because I pushed Tyler. Don’t worry, you wouldn’t like him either so it’s OK”. It took every ounce of restraint in me not to run over and hug this kid for being so cute.

It could have been the good mood that the little guy put me in, but when I started running it just felt… good. Not the “I’m going to do a Forest Gump run across country!” good, but the “This is comfortable and helping me clear my mind” type of good. I even left the cemetery and headed back around to the entrance I came through on the main road with the large hill. I felt great, and even got the illusive negative split I’ve been working on. I know, for 1.7 miles, huge accomplishment. I will continue to congratulate myself on it. Deal with it.

1.7 on a scheduled 1.5- Yeah, I’m an overachiever…

Yesterday was insanely busy as I was offsite for work at a photo shoot all day. I was on my feet all day running around and could not have been happier about that. I really hate sitting down all day long. I try to stand as much as possible but most days I spend at least 6 hours locked to my desk trying to get stuff done. The lunchtime walks are helping. It’s pouring out today so I’m not going to get one in, and that makes me kind of sad.

I was a little worried that after all that running around my legs would have been slightly exhausted for my scheduled run last night. Once again, I surprised myself. Negative split, big hills and finished strong.

Feels good.

I don’t know if it’s the two months of “rest” paying off. Maybe it’s the new types of cross training improving my strength. Most likely it’s the refreshed mindset that’s powering me through. I rested, I recovered and I’m taking it day by day. I know I’ll have rough runs in the future, but I’ll remind myself of runs like these that make me excited for my next workout.

What great workouts have you had lately? How long does the high usually last?