the final countdown…

boston3daysGiven that I am leaving for Boston tomorrow morning and hope to get in a shakeout run before I leave, sleeping should really come before writing right now, but I would be remiss if I didn’t capture some of my excitement in these final days before the Big Day in writing.

I’ve been insanely busy and haven’t had time to share my awesome 19-miler last Sunday (the 6th): basically, I ran midday to mimic potential warm and sunny weather (okay, I just wanted to sleep in because it was the one day that week I could…), and decided that my final [very] long run would have to go through downtown Hopewell. I altered the route so that I would get a gradual uphill rather than downhill on Crusher Rd., a road that far exceeded my expectations. Having only remembered being on it in a car at night, I had no idea what beautiful views awaited me. Also on the run, I learned of a new bike shop opening soon in Hopewell called Sourland Cycle, and I found the exact location of a cool quarry-turned-swim club my college team had visited during preseason (aptly named the Quarry Swim Club). I consumed two Tri Berry Gus and 12 ounces of water on this run, and the method seemed to do me well. Farewell, Shot Bloks. Gels were not the cause of my unusual stomach distress, and therefore I will take them during Boston because they are way easier to carry. I averaged 7:47 for the hilly 19 miles, my fastest average yet this spring. I was pretty pleased with that, especially the fact that I finished the last couple miles at 7:28.

The weekly elevation check-in....

The weekly elevation check-in…I honestly think Garmin went a little crazy this day though, so there may be a couple errors.

While I am on the subject of hills, I found a site that previews what some of the vendors will have to offer at the expo, and apparently Brooks is selling THIS beauty:

Brooks-Boston-Marathon-Shirt_2I may just have to purchase it. The pointing finger is quite an open-ended question, however: at first glance, it seems like the statement refers to the one wearing the shirt…but is it really for a girl who convinces her running buddies (running/standing next to her) that hills are awesome as well? Both sound good to me. Expect me to wear this whenever I want to intimidate a new running partner (just kidding).

“Taper” week 1: I did one final hard workout last Thursday the 10th, because I couldn’t bear to start my taper in earnest until the weekend before….I warmed up two miles and did a five mile tempo, and out-and-back on the towpath. The intention was to keep it flat and even, but the wind coming off the lake had other plans. I hard to work much harder when I turned around after 2.5 miles to keep the same pace. Splits: 6:43, 6:40, 6:54, 6:52, 6:45 (average = 6:47). What was most interesting about the entire run was that I averaged 7:32 on my warmup and 7:24 on my two-mile cooldown, which was uphill, and I felt like I was taking it really easy after the tempo effort. Huh. I’ll take it. The next day I did a recovery trail run without my Garmin. I fell in a stream. Not going to lie, it was refreshing. I’m weird. This weekend was a twelve-miler with the usual hills…while it felt too warm (it was 64) and somewhat tiring, it felt really short, so that was a good sign.

Taper week 2: I was a good girl this week, in the world of tapering. Shocker! It helped to be working on my feet 50+ hours…I didn’t feel like running much. I did a really easy 6.5 miles Tuesday afternoon and then some pickups yesterday which felt amazing and left me with 5.3 miles at an average of 7:18.

A year since 4/15/13: Tuesday was an emotional day. All the news reports and the coverage on the memorial ceremonies and such on Boylston Street just brought back memories of last year: how I saw it everywhere I went, and how everyone asked me where I was, what I heard, what I did, how I felt. How I felt the need to read everything about it for some reason, and how I felt unsafe on the crowded streets of my town for a couple weeks. Now that it feels more like springtime here in New Jersey, the memories of those feelings post-Boston are easier to recall and feel again, and that’s a little hard to think about. I’d reflect more, but instead I’ll announce that on this past Tuesday, my aunt Diane and I ended up sharing our experiences last year and our thoughts on running this year with a reporter for CBS Philly, and the article will be run tomorrow (Saturday)! I’ll post a link via some means of social media, but for now I’ll direct you there for what I have to say about all that.

BOSTON 2014: I am so, so, so excited. All I’m nervous about is logistical stuff about race day. I trust that everything I’ve done from January 1 until now has 100% prepared me for this race. I hadn’t decided yet, going into this post, if I wanted to publicly share my specific goals. I probably wrote a long time ago that I definitely want to break 3:20, but that’s old news now. I’ve started to have some more confidence that I can actually surprise myself even more, and so I think I’m just going to leave it at that. I do have a plan, but the plan mostly entails responding to the race itself – the course, my body, the energy, the crowds, the magic. For some reason I’m really not stressing over it. So, track me to see what happens! I am Bib # 13857 (emphasis on my lucky 13!), and for text alerts, text my number to 345678.

On that note, I should stop listening to my “Boston Pump Up” playlist so I can actually go to sleep.

Tale of two workouts: lemonade & an audience

During what was probably simultaneously the busiest, hardest, and generally most awesome week of my training thus far, the week that just ended, I ended up doing two workouts. I  mentioned two posts ago that I was leaving to do the “Michigan workout.” Well, no such luck. For the second year in a row, something went wrong and I didn’t end up doing it, meaning I haven’t actually done the workout since March 2011. Someday. I swear. Anyway, it wasn’t the end of the world. The track area was completely occupied because of a lacrosse game, and there was too much traffic to drive to another track. I had also already warmed up two miles to the track. I took control over the situation (there was a group of four) and decided we should do mile repeats on the neighboring roads instead. We did a trial loop together to figure out a good mile to use, and luckily got it on the first try (my sense of distance is getting good, what can I say). We basically just ran until our watches said 1.00 anyway, because we were all wearing GPS watches. We alternated directions and there were rolling hills the whole time, especially during the mile where I didn’t make a turn and improvised. Yeah that’s right, I got lost and made up the loop myself. It happens. I could tell I felt pretty tired though, almost moreso than after the 21-miler the week before (I only did 16.5 Sunday), so I chose to just do four repeats and then cool down two miles: 6:17, 6:31 (the one I accidentally made super hilly…), 6:21, 6:28. It was hard to compare the effort to track times, but I’d say I would have been hitting 6:08-6:14 if I had been on a track. Overall I finished feeling like I gave a pretty good effort but felt a bit flat. Being my typical corny self post-workout, I exclaimed that these were the “lemonade miles,” because we made lemonade out of lemons (the lacrosse players occupying the track). Ha, ha, ha.

 YASSO 800s

I don’t know where the fatigue went from Tuesday’s workout, but it was gone by Wednesday night and I was itching to run so much that I did a rare after-work run in the dark around 8:00pm, averaging 7:36 and feeling smooth. Maybe I was partially just mad that my bike tube was flat when I went to ride it in the morning. ( 😦 ) Regardless, the week was not over yet. Friday, I had a marathon of a day that included a 6AM-12PM work shift at one place and a 3PM-7PM shift at the other, giving me less than three hours – more like less than two – to do something worthwhile, running-related. Not to nap, who would think of that idea?

I was torn between a six-mile tempo on the towpath at 6:35-6:45 pace or Yasso 800s. Then on Wednesday night, I saw online that Jenny had beasted her Yasso 800s and it inspired me so much that I knew I had to choose them for my workout too. I got excited to see how my times this year would compare to last year. It was a wet and windy afternoon. I headed to the University track having recently remembered that there was an evening track meet there. A few teams had already arrived, and it looked like people were doing drills. Not many, though. Normally I would leave because I a.) don’t like to be in anyone’s way, I really should work on that because sometimes I don’t even recognize my own rights to be places/etc., and b.) I would hate it  if a coach told me to get off the track mid-workout…especially during Yassos, when I would not be stopping at all. Luckily, I took the risk and everything was totally fine. The meet didn’t start for several more hours, and hardly anyone was running on the track for more than 100 meters, and not even in lane one. Phew (I can only make lemonade so many times in one week).

Last year, I averaged 3:22 or 3:23. I remember there were a couple times I stopped after a hard 800. I was not feeling mentally 100% that day. This year, I did not stop once, or even want to. I know there are different versions of Yassos out there, so for clarity, I did 8 x 800m with 200m recoveries at a not-super-slow pace. I could have done 10 but I was short on time and I thought 8 was sufficient since I did the mile repeats two days before. The results….

So, I averaged ~6:24 pace (I could’ve sworn I calculated a 3:10 average, oops) for the 800s and 8:01 pace for the 200m recoveries, which I consider “normal pace.” I’m pretty sure I can credit the latter faster-than-“recovery” pace to the fact that 1.) There were a few dozen people around me watching, and if I ran them really slow I’d look lame for using the track if someone didn’t see me do the fast portions, and 2.) I was afraid I’d get asked to leave at any moment and wanted to get the workout done as quickly as possible without cutting it short. Sounds ridiculous I know, but hey – there is apparently something to be said for having an audience (of probably very good athletes) during a workout! Overall, it went by really quickly and I felt really good throughout. There was a strong headwind on the backstretch, but just as I made the turn after, I was almost being pushed by the wind, so it was both my friend and foe. While I’m not one to say that Yasso 800 times = Boston times 100%, it was a good workout regardless and it made me more confident in the way any good workout does. One more stat that’s pretty cool to think about: the workout totaled (I know Garmins are a little off on the track, but whatever) 5.02 miles in 33:09, 6:37 average pace. It might be fun to run one of the big five-mile races at the shore early this summer….

Girls on the Run!

The next day was my first day coaching Girls on the Run! It was pretty awesome. The highlight was a literal goose chase: a dog jumped in the pond to chase a swimming goose, and the girls freaked out and started sprinting the path around the pond chanting, “get the goose!” At this rate, they are going to learn the importance of pacing a lot earlier than is in their curriculum. The incident channeled my inner 9-year-old, because I thought it was just as hilarious as they did and proceeded to tell friends about it as I’m sure they did (and, I just told you all now…). I think it will be an interesting adventure for both me and the girls. 🙂

I forgot to take a picture (there are pretty yellow flowers among the brown branches on the little island!), but here's one of the pond we run around (also for Intervals!).

I forgot to take a picture (there are pretty yellow flowers among the brown branches on the little island!), but here’s one of the pond we run around (also for Intervals!).

Next, a recap of my final [really long] long run before Boston on Sunday, a day that ended up having an itinerary mimicking those in my book of hypothetical Best Days Ever (which only exists in my head as of now, if you were wondering).

Through the woods and over the river, year two

A couple weekends back, I did my longest training run to date: 21 miles from Montgomery to New Hope. Last winter, I did a shortened version, but this year it fell perfectly on my calendar and I did the whole thing. I am not kidding when I say (and I said this during the last couple miles and everyone agreed, so it’s not hindsight speaking) it felt like six miles. Never before had a run of such a great length felt so short. I ran with Kate and Sarah, and we caught up and exchanged stories and chatted the whole time. Martin and Kate’s husband Nick had driven to Lambertville (across the river from New Hope, technically our “finish line”) and then ran back on the route until they found us and turned around to run with us into town. The landmarks we passed on the run, which have become iconic to the runners who have participated in this run several times, were no less exciting to pass this time around, and also made the run fly by. It felt so good, and so easy, that I forgot to take the Gu that I had brought (I had Clif Shot Bloks though). I’ll take that as a good sign. Most consider the route to be hilly, but compared to all the ups and downs I’ve done on every other long run this year, it was actually easier. There was a gradual up – then several miles – and then a steep down, basically.

Me, Sarah, and Kate, immediately after finishing the run. Note the Welcome to Pennsylvania sign.

After touching ground on the PA side and seeing my watch hit 21 miles, we stopped, snapped some pictures, and walked back over to New Jersey. Recoverosas at Full Moon Cafe were in order, as well as eggs and the like. For being called Full Moon Cafe, there is a lot of half moon decor. Just saying. They do have specials on every full moon night though, which is pretty cool.

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Recoverosas!

While standing up and walking to the car after our meal did not feel as good as walking back over the bridge right after finishing the run, I must say that I felt pretty darn good after this run. Recovery felt 100% within a couple days, and while I was still a bit tired, I even did the weekly intervals workout two nights later.

Boston is in thirteen days! I have many more training updates to share, since this run to PA was a long time ago (or so it feels – it’s even “warm” now!). Stay tuned for all sorts of runners-high-induced banter.

Run the Edge meets Princeton & life updates!

runtheedgeLast weekend was a “Weekend with a capital W,” as I like to say (mostly to myself…). As I mentioned in my last post many days ago, it kicked off with dinner and drinks with Adam Goucher and Tim Catalano. During dinner we mostly talked about food and the YMCA, since YMCA staff members who were helping organize the event were there. I hardly got to talk with the guys then, so I was pleased that they wanted to go out for drinks to chat some more after dinner. We were joined by another one of their former Colorado teammates (and a customer of mine…and the husband of the lovely, inspiring Oiselle bird Jen) who lives in the area, and the stories and laughter that ensued was quite the experience! It was really cool to just be sitting there chatting about running and everything over beers, right in Princeton. Both Adam and Tim were really chill guys – if you ever get a chance to meet them, take it!

20140321_223108Unfortunately, as I mentioned, I was unable to attend the event for which they actually traveled to Princeton the following morning. I really wish I could have gone, or at least heard about it from one of my coworkers (the store was so busy no one ended up being able to sneak out) so I could report on it as well! I got there at the tail end of everything after the CPR class I had to attend about 25 minutes away, but it was wrapping up. If you are from the Princeton area, I hope you were able to attend! I am definitely adding Running the Edge to my list of running-related books I must read ASAP, especially now!

On a related note, a few life updates that will help explain things better…might as well share them here since we all know I won’t have time to dedicate two whole posts to them. I took the CPR course Saturday the 22nd (and it had to be on that day) for two reasons: First, I am coaching Girls on the Run this spring! I went to training this past Saturday, and I have a lot more reading to do to prepare, but it starts this Saturday and I am really excited! I think it will be a great experience. I love helping young girls in that age range with shoes when they come in the store, and so I think it will bee really fun and rewarding to become a good influence in their lives even more!

logo_girlsontherunWhy do I still have a ton of preparing and reading to do? Because…I started a new job last week! I am now working part-time as a Rehab Aide at a nearby physical therapy clinic. After what seemed like the longest process ever of orientations and physical appointments up at the affiliated hospital a half hour away (now that I hardly drive I hate it!), I am finally on the schedule and working at the clinic. I actually opened the building all by myself today before 6:00 AM. So, I’ve been pretty exhausted! I’m still working at the store, so don’t worry…the ultimate shoenerd remains the voice behind this blog. 🙂

I was going to write all about my awesome point-to-point 21-miler to PA last Sunday (we’re going way back to the 23rd now…) and other thoughts on Boston training, but I’ll leave that for next time. I’m about to run off to do one of the hardest workouts in my training cycle (deep breaths, deep breaths…don’t get yourself sick...), the “Michigan”, which still scares me even though I’m not on a college team anymore.

See you on the other side!