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October 31, 2012

A Quick Hurricane Update

Wow! It's been a long couple of days! To everyone affected by Hurricane Sandy, I hope you're all doing well and staying warm! To those of you not affected, count yourself blessed!

I said on Monday that I was staying at my mom's house in New Jersey. We're doing ok. We haven't had power since about 8pm Monday night and our house seems to be getting colder by the minute. Thankfully, we have hot water but have been playing lots of games of Scrabble by candlelight to keep busy! We had a tree come through our roof and destroy our fence but thankfully, it just missed coming through the ceiling so we're doing a lot better than some of my other family members who have serious flooding and trees in their living rooms. Everyone is safe and sound though and that's what matters.

Right now, I'm hanging out in a Staples while my phone charges and using one of their computers, so thank goodness for that!

This morning, I went out for an easy 5ish miles. They felt easy but ended up being relatively fast, which is great. I scoped out the damage around the town and was grateful to see nothing more serious than some down trees and power lines and an overturned trampoline.

As far as the marathon goes, I'm praying it still goes on. Social media has been aflutter with people demanding a decision and raging as to whether or not it will go on. My first reaction? THERE IS A TREE THROUGH MY ROOF, I DON'T CARE IF YOUR FLIGHT IS CANCELLED AND YOU CAN'T GET TO NEW YORK. I DON'T CARE ABOUT THE MARATHON.

Once we were able to assess the damage on Tuesday morning, I started thinking about the race. I've seen a lot of people saying that they hope it gets cancelled and that just breaks my heart.

Yes, the city has a lot on its plate right now and the marathon is the least of its worries but this race has always been a tremendous celebration for the city and if they're able to clean up and rehabilitate in time for Sunday, then that will only further show the true resiliency of New York City. If the race has to be cancelled, it has to be cancelled, but as someone who has yet to run her goal race this season and has been affected by the storm, the idea of running on Sunday is the light at the end of the tunnel for what is going to continue to be a very long week and I would love to get out there and run as I'm sure so many other people do. I'm ok with whatever decision is made, I just hope that New York is able to bounce back from this as quickly as possible.

That's all for now! I'm praying for everyone affected by the storm and hoping that a sense of normalcy is returned to everyone soon! For those of you in other parts of the country, HAPPY HALLOWEEN and make sure to count your blessings this week!

 

October 29, 2012

It's Race Week!

I hate that I haven't posted in a week because I've been working mega overtime at work and haven't had time to sit down in front of a computer. I've had so many things to say and it makes me sad!

Work is definitely going to slow down now that my company's big event is all said and done and that we're closed today (and most definitely will be tomorrow) thanks to Hurricane Sandy.

Last year, a snowstorm almost derailed the Marine Corps Marathon for me. This year, a hurricane is striking days before NYC and it's causing me to slightly go into panic mode.

As of right now, we have a little bit of rain and it's really windy. Every governor, mayor, town council member, etc. keeps warning that "the worst is yet to come" so we'll see what happens. I'm at my mom's house and she's terrified that a tree is going to come crashing through the living room so I may evacuate to The Pilot's house where there are no trees that may come crashing through any living space...even though he isn't stocked with any preparations should we lose power because he was supposed to be flying this weekend.

Hmmm.

Anyway, it's MARATHON WEEK. Y'all have heard me talking about the NYC Marathon for months on end now and come Sunday, that's all going to stop (or at least until I get my recap up.)


These ads have been posted all over New York and, while they've been met with mixed reviews and opinions, I can't help but agree with it.

My marathon journey started in May 2010. I ran my first half-marathon and within a few hours of crossing the finish line, eating all the bagels and heading back to my apartment, I registered for the Philly Marathon. After Philly, I took a month off and started training for the 9 races I would run to get guaranteed entry into this race. I've run a few other marathons along the way and it's been so much fun, but I would never have run nearly as many Halves as I've done or anywhere near as many races if I wasn't trying to get into New York. So, even though it's taken a lot to get me to this point - both in terms of good races and bad races and frustration with NYRR and - everything else has been a warm-up...a 2 year warm-up that culminates in 5 short days as I toe the line in Staten Island for my 5th marathon.

I'm freaking pumped.

As far as my knee goes, I ran 10 miles yesterday with the last 3 at marathon goal pace (or really close to it since Sandy winds were already starting to rage) and felt great. My knee didn't bother me at all and I'm so incredibly thankful to have had a doctor willing to treat me as aggressively as possible to not only get me to the Start but to get me to the Finish Line within my goal time.

The doctor sent me for acupuncture which I did for the first time on Friday and feel great. I'm also using a topical prescription anti-inflammatory, pain reliever, muscle relaxer, nerve receptor fixer...and a bunch of other fancy ingredients in this made-for-me cream that I've been slathering over my knee somewhat religiously for the last 3 days.

I'm so ready to make that climb up the Verrazano Bridge and run New York. I think the marathon will be a great way to come to terms with the city that I really don't love all that much.

In the mean time, I'll be braving the hurricane and praying that I have power so that I can run on a treadmill (and blog) because a power outage would lead to me not running and would probably lead to the most severe case of taper tantrum the world has ever seen...not only on my part but on the part of everyone else in the area.


Are you in the path of Sandy? What are your thoughts on it? Is it sensationalized or the Real Deal? Are you running NYC? 

Have a great week everyone!

October 22, 2012

Love/Don't Love

1. I had off yesterday and enjoyed sleeping in way too late, going for a run in the beautiful weather and catching a movie with The Pilot. Love.
2. Something is wrong with my knee and it absolutely terrifies me. After MDI, I took 2 days off and ran a fantastic 5 miles on Wednesday afternoon. Friday, I went out for a run and was having some knee pain but nothing too bad. On yesterday's 12-15 mile run, I stopped at 8 miles after my knee starting bothering me again. I really don't know what my game plan is before New York...I'm not sure if it's rest I need or what but 2 weeks out from New York, I can't help but freaking out. Don't Love.
3. Yesterday, The Pilot and I went and saw The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It was absolutely amazing. GO SEE THIS MOVIE. You won't regret it. It was the best movie I've seen in a really long time and may very well have climbed to the very top of my list of favorite movies ever. Seriously. It was that good. Love.


4. There were 2 different official photographers at MDI (Brightroom and a photogapher from Runners' World) and none of them got a single photo of me during the race. I don't always buy my race photos but I like having the option to. Don't Love.
5. After a crazy week few weeks at work, I think things are finally going to slow down this week. I've been working a lot of early mornings and long hours so I'm ready for things to slow down. Love.
6. I'm hoping and praying that my knee starts feeling better soon. I've had the best training cycle of my life and I'm so ready to run New York. I need to figure out what it's going to take over the next 2 weeks to get me feeling like my best self and ready to run on November 4th. Love.

Have you ever had an injury develop during taper? How did you handle it? What did you do? Have you seen "The Perks of Being a Wallflower?" Did you read the book?

Have a great week!

October 17, 2012

Race Recap: Mount Desert Island Marathon Relay

I didn't have any expectations going into MDI. I would have aimed for a PR if I hadn't messed up my back last week. With almost 2 weeks between my last long run of 21 miles and MDI weekend, and only about 13 miles, I really wasn't sure how things would play out. I knew my back wouldn't be an issue and that was a giant relief.

Sunday morning, Ally and I got up bright and early and headed down to breakfast where we met up with Sara, Danielle, Andy and Meg. After a quick breakfast, we packed up the car and made our way to the Start. 

It was already drizzling and pretty cold and I was having a hard time deciding whether I should remove my top layer or not. I always have a hard time deciding just how much to wear when it gets to those awkward temperatures in the 40s. 

Sara, Danielle, Me, Sarah and Ally
I decided to toss my first layer and line up with Danielle and Sarah. After the National Anthem and the sound of the gun, we were off. We started off at a relatively easy pace and I was feeling strong. The course was all rolling hills but I didn't find any of them to be that bad. I've always felt pretty strong on hills...with the exception of that damn mountain at Mile 26 of Marine Corps. 

At Mile 5, Danielle and Sarah stopped for the porter potties and I went on ahead. The rain was starting to pick up at this point but it wasn't really bothering me. This was my first race in the rain and I was worried how I would do with the weather, but I was fine. 

Right around Mile 7.5 or so, my right knee started killing. It almost felt like I had just slammed my knee into something. I had had this pain for almost 2 weeks after Marine Corps but never since. I tried to stop and stretch it out, knead it with my fists, nothing was helping. The inclines were ok but the descents were absolutely killer. There was one particular downhill (see below) that, as I saw approaching, I literally yelled out, "Holy shit" much to the amusement of the runners around me. 

I seriously felt like I was going to fall and roll down the hill into the water, it was so steep. 
By Mile 9, I didn't think I was going to be able to keep going. I was in so.much.freaking.pain. I was desperately hoping Andy would ride by on his bike or Meg would drive by in our support car so I could bail but at the same time, I knew I wanted to finish this race...and I knew that I wanted to keep going beyond the 13.1 exchange. The last 3 miles of the Half were such a mental battle as to what continuing would do to me for New York. I was trying to be smart but at the same time, I knew I how badly I needed this run, since I hadn't run long the weekend before. At Mile 11, I stopped again to knead out my knee and felt like I actually shifted my knee cap. From that point on, I felt like I could handle the distance. I was still in pain, but I knew that I could keep going. 

I got to the exchange in 2:07. Not my worst half, not my best. Considering what was happening with my knee, I was happy to finish. When I handed off to Ally, her first comment was "Your HAIR!". You can see where her priorities lie. Yes, my hair gets wet and curly in the rain. NOW GO RUN! I told her I was going to try and catch up with her in a bit. 

I stopped to stretch my knee out some more saw Sarah and Danielle come through the exchange. Then, I decided to keep going. I told Meg and Sarah's mom to come pick me up at Mile 18. I caught up with Ally and Ruddley who were running together within the first mile and decided to stick to their pace for as long as I would be running since it was nice and easy and wasn't too hard on my knee...except for those freaking down hills. I was feeling pretty good and when we saw Meg at Mile 16, I told her to pick me up at 20.

At 20, I told her to pick me up at 22.

The 2nd half of the course wasn't as bad as the 1st...at least the next 9 miles of it weren't.
Also, I have no idea why I reset my Garmin after 13.1. Rude.
I wish I could say that at 22, I said I would see her at the Finish. I would have loved to have titled this post "Oops...I ran a marathon (again)" but I was hurting and Ally talked me out of it by saying that there was no way she was going to let me compromise New York to be selfish and go an extra 4 miles. 

So, at Mile 22, I stepped out of the race. Ally (my relay partner) went on to finish strong. It was honestly tough to step out but I knew that I needed to. I would never forgive myself if I injured myself 3 weeks out of my goal race for being dumb. I took a prescription anti-inflammatory as soon as I got in the car and I'm happy to say that today (3 days later), I went out for a run and felt great...no knee pain at all.

The majority of the course was on a road that was a bit slanted and I felt like my form was off because I was  running with a very slight incline on the right side, rather than on flat road. I think that may have had something to do with it, but who knows. What's important is that I finished, I added on and that now I don't have to run 22 miles this weekend and I AM OFFICIALLY TAPERING FOR THE NEW YORK CITY MARATHON!

Half-marathon #9. Check! Here's to not suffering through taper tantrum and gearing up for N.Y.C.

Mount Desert Island Marathon Weekend

...and then some.

I apologize from my lack of posting. My shabby sister and I are currently house hunting in Maine. Despite the lackluster weather, this weekend was AMAZING.

Me, Ally and Danielle driving up to Bar Harbor
I flew into Portland early Friday afternoon and headed to Danielle's house to immediately start carb-loading with Andy and Meg. Danielle's TV went out so we played a few heated rounds of Scrabble before the rest of our crew joined us for a pasta party.

I had told Danielle that I would run with her at 6:30 the next morning and to come wake me up when she was ready to head out but when she came in and said, "Ready to run? It's 30 degrees outside!" I bailed. Sorry, I need to acclimate to the weather getting colder and I didn't have nearly enough clothes to get me through a run and a race. Excuses, excuses. I'm a big giant baby and hate running in the cold and immediately regretted my decision to sign up for a spring marathon.

Moving on, I slept in...and in...and in before getting up and heading to breakfast with everyone and starting our journey up to Bar Harbor.


MOOSE!
Since we're runners (and girls) and drink gallons and gallons of water, we made a dozen pit stops (ok 3) and took lots of photos.

When we got to Bar Harbor, it was time to hit the expo, get lunch and walk around downtown Bar Harbor. Bar Harbor is absolutely gorgeous! It was my first time there and I would definitely go back...you know, in July...when it's not bitterly cold.

Ally and I on the Harbor

That night, our caravan of runners, old friends and new friends alike made our way to dinner for laughs and drinks all around. Brendan had brought a copy of the race manual for me which somehow, either by fault of gmail sending it to spam or just never receiving it, I had never seen. I became somewhat terrified when I saw in the instructions that this race should be treated as a 'mini ultra-marathon' and that one should not expect to run their personal best.

I immediately felt better though when one of the girls mentioned that having lived and trained in Bar Harbor her whole life, she found the NYC Marathon to be a really easy course. My thoughts going into the race were that this would be tough, but that if I could get through it, New York would be fine.

This post is getting long enough already so stay tuned for the full race recap to come!

Have you ever been to Bar Harbor? When was the last time you had a girls' weekend?

October 12, 2012

Friday Things

I'm heading to Maine for the Mount Desert Island Marathon Relay this weekend and I can't wait! It's been an insanely busy week at work but I've been taking good care of my back and I'm happy to say that last night, I went for an easy 4 miles and felt great! I actually ran slightly faster than goal pace without even realizing it because I was wearing long sleeves and had my watch covered!

The MDI course
The first and last time I went to Maine was for mine and The Pilot's anniversary (11 months ago tomorrow!) and I absolutely loved Portland. This time around, I'll spend Friday in Portland before we all (by all I mean about 9 of us or so) caravan wayyy up to Bar Harbor for MDI! Sunday, Ally and I will toe the line for the marathon relay...I think I'm doing the 2nd leg? I should know this, I know.

Danielle and I at LL Bean on my last trip to Maine!
Can we make this happen again?
Please?
Monday night, when I got out of work, The Pilot texted and asked if I wanted to go to the Jets game that night. Heck yea I did! I had never been to an NFL game and he had said at the beginning of the season that that needed to change this year and it did! The Jets played abysmally, it was 4 degrees outside and the hot chocolate was really just chocolate flavored water but we had a blast as per usual. I swear, we could have fun in a dungeon.


I was REALLY against them calling it Met Life Stadium until I saw all of the Charlie Brown characters at the stadium!
So that's that! In other news, I got a promotion at work...which is why this week has been so super busy and I've neglected my poor little blog but hey, I managed to go to a football game with my awesome boyfriend and tomorrow, I'm heading to see my Madrid sister, my RTB relay team captain and Danielle, who introduced me to the glory that is LL Bean...and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Have a fabulous weekend everyone!
Good luck to everyone racing!

By the way, can anyone recommend a good domain registration site that works with Blogger?

October 7, 2012

Sidelined.

3 weeks before the Madrid Marathon, I headed out on a Friday evening for my last long run of marathon training before I would kick off taper. The next morning, I would take the bus to Washington, DC to run the Cherry Blossom 10-miler.

Instead, I was crippled almost immediately after finishing my 22 miles with back pain that not only kept me from running Cherry Blossom but sidelined me for a week.

In the end, I still ran my heart out in Madrid (pain free).

Thursday night, I headed out for a 10 mile run. I was running low on time so I knew I'd have to cut the run short. I had had a niggle in my back for the past few days but when I came back from my run, I spent the rest of the night on a heating pad in terrible pain.

I got up for work Friday morning and 2 hours into my work day, I was in so much pain, I not only called out but took myself straight to the doctor. The doctor was...useless. He prescribed a muscle relaxer, an anti-inflammatory and an x-ray which...let's be real, if there's anything wrong with my back it would only show up in an MRI so that was pointless. I've spent the weekend taking the left over Vicodin from my last back injury along with the other drugs the doctor prescribed while laying in bed with a heating pad and not doing much else.

I'm optimistic. It took a total of 5 days off last time and the doctor told me to take 5-6 off this time. I'm hoping that by Wednesday or Thursday I can go for an easy test run to see how I'm feeling before heading up to Maine to run MDI.

It's funny because...when this happened last time, I was a hot mess. I was pissed that I was missing Cherry Blossom for the 2nd year in a row and I was terrified that I would miss Madrid. This time around, I'm feeling better already and I'm taking the break as rest that I probably need. I'm not sure how MDI will go but I'm confident that I'm still in great shape for New York and I'm staying optimistic and saying lots of prayers that I'm all better soon.

I don't think it's possible for marathon training to every go perfectly and this training cycle certainly hasn't gone perfect but you know what? It's going great. Temporary setback or not, I'm still loving this training cycle and excited for what the rest of it brings.

How do you handle setbacks in training or in life? Do you dwell on them or are you able to take them with a grain of salt? I can say for certain that this is the first time EVER that I'm handling a setback this well. I just hope that it's because I'm right that I'll be back on my feet in no time!

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

October 2, 2012

New York City Marathon Training: Week 12

My last training update was during Week 8.

You know, I've been writing these training updates each week during marathon training since I started training for my first marathon as a way to hold myself accountable, talk out my training and seek advice from other runners.

Approaching my 5th marathon, I am by no means an expert, but the way that this training cycle is going, I just haven't felt the need to talk about it as much as I normally do. I think that training is just becoming so much more familiar. I wish I could say the same about the distance!

It's amazing how much time and effort we put into a goal that will only take the better part of a morning to achieve.

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Training has been going really, really well. I don't know if it's the increase in cross training, the familiarity with being in training or simply the fact that I'm starting to fall in love with running.

I've never really loved running. It's always been a hobby...something I enjoy doing. Lately though, I've found myself smiling at Mile 18 of a 20+ mile run, feeling strong and empowered after pushing myself to the limit during a workout and loving the way that that makes me feel. This little habit of mine...this whole running thing...started as an experiment...an "I'll see how this goes, and if I like it, I'll pursue it a bit more seriously." Then, it developed into a sort of crush and now, my heart is happy and full and I've fallen in love - not head over heels - but into that deep kind of love in which you know something is going to be around for awhile.

It's like dating. I guess.

So, marathon training is going really well. I'm entering into the Peak Weeks of training and really putting on the mileage. I'm at 40 miles per week right now with the goal of hitting 50 before the marathon. This weekend, I'll throw 22 miles into the mix...a distance I've only run once in training (and ended up in the hospital afterward, thus missing my 2nd Cherry Blossom 10-miler...I know that's not going to happen again) and next weekend, I'll make my way up to Maine to run MDI with some of the most incredible girls I know. 

I'll keep cross-training and from this point on, I'll run hills like it's my job. In previous training cycles, I've run hills at the beginning of my training and then transitioned from hills to speed. I had read that this was a good training plan in Runners' World and I've found that it really doesn't work best for me. So, I've been running speed workouts from Week 1 (even before then actually) and now, I'm starting to kick up my long runs by running on tough, hilly courses. I think this will prepare me for New York City much, much better.

Take a look at the comparison in elevation profiles from my last 2 long runs:

20 miles on Sunday, 9/23

21 miles on Sunday, 9/30
Aside from adding hills to my long runs and incorporating another hill workout into my weekly runs, I'm planning to pick up the pace towards the end of my long runs starting to practice not only fast finishes but continue to hit on that marathon goal pace that I've been nailing during my goal pace runs.

I keep seeing the..."OMG xx days until NYC! Where has the time gone"...posts on Twitter but you know what? I feel like I have all the time in the world. I feel ready and I feel good. I know that I could run the New York City Marathon tomorrow...but I know that the fact that it isn't tomorrow, means that the rest of my training is only going to make me stronger, faster and better prepared to tackle the distance for the 5th time.

"No one should ever be afraid of failing; it's being afraid to give it your all in trying that I urge against." - Chrissie Wellington

October 1, 2012

Love/Don't Love

1. First things first, everyone needs to go visit Danielle and Christine and congratulate them on awesome marathon PRs this weekend! My Twitter feed was blown up yesterday with news of awesome races and long runs and I'm glad that my 21 miler went just as well as everyone else's runs/races. Love.
2. It's October! It's time for that obnoxious weather where it's too cold to run in shorts and too warm to run in capris. Don't Love.
3. My next big race is just 2 weeks away! I can't wait to head back to Maine to race MDI with some awesome friends (Reach the Beach reunion!) on what Runners' World has dubbed the Most Scenic marathon. Love.
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That's Danielle...she's kind of awesome...running on the MDI course.
4. I'm annoyed that I had to cancel my doctor's appointment last week after they called me twice to confirm...both with different times, insisting that the latter time (which didn't work for me) was the actual time. I really want to nip whatever is going on with my hip in the bud before it starts to become an issue! Don't Love.
5. The Pilot comes home tonight! He's been doing a lot of 4-day trips lately and we haven't been seeing much of each other. I'm excited to see him! Love.
6. Baseball season is almost over and I didn't make it to all of the ball parks. I only have 12 more to go but with my employment situation over the summer, heading out West to visit all of those West Coast teams was going to be tough. Don't Love.
7. That just means I'm going to be going to a lot of baseball games next year...and a lot of new cities! Love.
8. The Jets got absolutely slaughtered yesterday. I'm glad I opted to drink Bloody Marys and eat pancakes with Emily post-run rather than watch the carnage but come on, I just went through a brutal baseball season...football season can't be this bad too! Don't Love.


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9. I'm starting to contemplate my 2013 race schedule...and by contemplate, I mean I may or may not have already registered for some races. Love.
10. I finished Chrissie Wellington's book yesterday and it was awesome. No, it did not give me any desire to do an Ironman. It was still a great book and I recommend it to any endurance athlete. Love.


So tell me: What's on your calendar for the month of October? Pumpkin picking? Football games? Not complaining about the weather getting colder? Do you follow football? How's your team doing? Anyone on any fantasy teams out there? Read any good books lately? I want to know!

Happy Monday! And Happy October to all you crazies who love the Fall! 
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