Goodbye April, Hello Recovery!

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  1. Total run miles for April: 207
  2. Miles run, year to date: 1000.3
  3. Number of races in April: 5 (wtf)
  4. Longest run in April: 26.42 miles (too much weaving in Boston)
  5. Highest volume week in April: 58.1 miles

My mileage was almost 100 miles less in April due to tapering, racing and recovering. I was excited that I crested the 200 mile mark at all, and I’m on track to meet my goal of 2,500 miles for the year. I need to be at 1,250 in June. I expect to have a low volume month for May, but to start increasing mileage again in June. My mileage wasn’t as high in April as it was the over the past few months, but this month might go down as my best month of racing ever. I raced (or paced) every single weekend during this month. It began with winning a 10 mile road race, and ended with winning a marathon. I don’t think I could ever top that.

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Just like the past few months, I can truly say that each and every mile brought me a lot of joy. There were a lot of huge breakthroughs for me this month. The biggest breakthrough was running a marathon PR: a target I kept shooting for, but missed for the past two years.

While it goes down as one of the best months ever, April was a funny month for running. We had everything from snowy winter weather, to almost summer temps. The first week, I ran a 10 mile road race in the pouring rain. It was a minute off of my PR from March, but I won the race and ran on effort. It was a huge confidence boost just a few weeks out from Boston. The following week was spent pacing a half marathon in a snowstorm. It was my first time ever pacing the 1:40 group and I was nervous with the weather conditions, but it went really well and I enjoyed pacing that time. When Boston finally rolled around, it was way too warm. It resulted in a course PR, but still not the 3:05 goal I’d set for myself.

The Sunday following Boston, I paced the St. Luke’s half marathon. The weather was ideal, and I got to pace the 1:45 group. I really enjoyed pacing 1:40, but 1:45 is my favorite time to pace. St. Luke’s was my first ever race, so it makes me happy to be able to pace it and give back to the running community.

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I spent the week after St. Luke’s running easy miles in preparation of my final marathon of the season. I’m not going to lie – I felt a little burned out and was ready for some recovery.¬†I didn’t¬†look at my calendar closely enough¬†when I was committing to these events and didn’t realize how close¬†they all were to each other.

It was a rainy day in Kentucky, but I finally did it. After two years of trying everything I could possibly think of and failing, I broke my PR. I ran a 3:02:19 at the Kentucky Derby Marathon, and I was the first overall female! It was one of my most favorite days to be a runner, ever. Not just because winning a marathon felt pretty freaking cool. I poured my everything into training for the past two years and I finally had my day. I am still on such a high from that moment.

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With the racing/tapering/carb loading, I gained about two pounds back of the 13 I’d lost. I anticipated gaining a few pounds back over these past few weeks, and I felt really good racing at the weight I got down to. I also realized how much better I feel when I eat a certain way. I really love junk food, but over the past few months I’ve learned that I might like feeling better more. It’s a lot easier for me to have a cheat day, but get right back on track the next day. Moving forward through my recovery, I will certainly be more relaxed about my diet but I plan to continue my eating habits. It’s not even really a question anymore – it’s become my lifestyle. That was my ultimate goal from the start of that conquest.

Moving into May, I plan on still running easy miles but I’m giving myself some “rules”. Nothing over 10 miles, and no speed. Maybe I’ll pick up the pace towards the end of the month to get my legs moving, but there will be no track workouts or pace specific work until June. I’d like to get back on some real trails to do some trail running, and I’m eyeing up a trail race in late May. Mostly, I don’t want my focus to be on running. I want to spend a lot of time in the pole studio and work on strength. My pole competition is on May 21st, so I have the rest of this month to prepare for it.

In the pole world, I didn’t learn many new moves since I’m still preparing for the competition. Busting up my big toe right before Boston scared me a lot little, so I’ve been a little more intimidated of pole class. And rightfully so – it is a dangerous sport, and while I’ve benefited so much from building up that kind of strength, I also have to be mindful of the consequences. I’m not planning to back off or stop doing it, but I don’t have quite the fearless attitude I’ve had since I began¬†the sport.

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I¬†continued¬†my¬†‚̧ԳŹ StrongBody Streak¬†through April, but I did take a few days off surrounding Boston and Kentucky. I can see a huge difference with just a little bit of strength training. Although I plan to be relaxed with running throughout May, I will be focusing on strength training. Without racing, I can do actual “leg” days with weights and build some additional strength and balance.

Moving forward to May, I have a few goals – but mostly recovery goals!

  • Strength training – stick with my 15 minutes each day. Keep the emphasis on core/hips/glutes, but really pay some extra attention to legs now that my mileage and intensity will ease up.
  • Diet:¬†Keep up the healthy eating, and cook¬†every single recipe in¬†this:
    imageCook’s Illustrated is my most favorite cooking resource. Their cookbooks are like textbooks. They don’t cater to any diet or lifestyle, so if I wanted to make a “paleo” version of their recipes, I end up tweaking it on my own. They came out with a magazine full of 73 Paleo recipes, and I almost passed out from excitement when I saw it at the checkout line in the grocery store. The authors realize that there are different definitions of Paleo, so they designed the recipes by adhering to the most strict paleo guidelines they could find. It might take me the whole summer, but I want to cook my way through it, cover to cover.
  • Pole Fitness:¬†Compete in my first pole competition!
  • Cross Training: I want to get on my bike and get to some yoga classes this month. Maybe, if I get really motivated, I’ll get back in the pool.
  • Instagram some more fun pictures as the weather gets nicer!

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How was your month? Any goals for May?

Race Review: Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon

“You’ve got what it takes, but it will take everything you’ve got.” – Author Unknown

WARNING: this is probably one of my longest posts yet:) #sorryNotSorry
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I ran the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon on Saturday, which kicked off the Kentucky Derby. I know nothing at all about horse racing. I’m not one for bragging, but I have to say it: I hit the trifecta this weekend.
  1. Spent a weekend road tripping with some of my oldest friends and watched one of them run a five minute marathon PR ‚ąö
  2. ¬†Ran my own marathon PR/Earned a time for wave 1 in Boston 2017¬†‚ąö
  3. ¬†Won first overall female in said marathon and broke the tape crossing the finish line¬†‚ąö

After two years of trying for a PR and consistently coming up short, I finally did it. Ever since I ran my last marathon PR in 2014, I’ve tried it all. Coaches, training plans, weird recovery methods – just¬†name it – I did it. After 2014, some part of me thought I’d never see a sub-3:10 again, let alone run¬†a marathon PR (sub-3:06). Never say never.

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Jenny and Kate have been my friends since fourth grade. We grew up together, living in the same neighborhood. Jenny was always the one who loved to run – I hated it. That’s a story for a different day. I mentioned my interest in the Kentucky Derby Marathon to Jenny. Perfect timing for the three of us to take a road trip.

 

We left Allentown at an ungodly hour on¬†Friday morning and made the ten hour trek to Kentucky. The ride was relaxing and uneventful. We focused on hydrating, relaxing, and carb loading the whole way down. We made it to the expo by mid afternoon, and easily found our way around town. First stop was to get our bibs and walk around the expo, which was bigger than I’d anticipated. I was unprepared for the race, but I knew there was also a half marathon and relay happening simultaneously. What I didn’t realize is that the entire field of runners totaled something like 15,000. I was pretty shocked when I rolled up and saw that it was an actual expo with merchandise and vendors – not just a table with our bibs, T-shirts, and a few packages of GU for sale.

 

The pasta party started at 5:30, so we killed some time by relaxing at a Starbucks downtown. We read the literature about the race in our packets and made some concrete plans for race morning. We also stressed over the forecast. Accuweather predicted temperatures in the 50s and rain, which was ideal. Weather.com painted a scarier picture. They forecasted severe thunderstorms, including hail and damaging winds.

 

We received¬†several emails from the race director telling us that they were¬†“monitoring the forecast closely and were confident the race would proceed as scheduled”. I worried the severe thunderstorms would cause them to cancel, or worse – start us, re-route us and¬†cut the race short. I liked Louisville, but I didn’t want to do another 10 hour trip to check that state off my list. Regardless of how much fun we had road tripping to Kentucky, I’d rather take my chances with the lightening and the hail. I have other states to run marathons in!

 

We headed to the pasta party, which I would recommend to anyone traveling to this race. We paid $20/person for the tickets and it was worth every penny. Not having to worry about finding a safe pre-race meal is worth more than $20. They had salad, pasta with marinara sauce, chicken and penne in an alfredo sauce, and garlic bread. Entry also included a free beer, and there was lemonade, water, and sweet tea available. For dessert, there was something called Derby Pie. It was a pecan pie with chocolate chips. Derby Pie had a photobooth set up and provided free photos for the runners.
photoboothOnce we ate our fill, we headed to our hotel to set out all of our race gear¬†and go to bed. We’d gotten up at 3 am that day to get an early start, so we wanted to get a good night’s sleep.
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I woke up at 4:30 am and made some coffee. I relaxed, made breakfast (my sweet potato waffles and Just Great Stuff PB) and choked down a few bites of a banana. We left around 6am, and found a parking garage in downtown Louisville that seemed close to the start and finish of the race. We walked to the start, took a few pre-race photos and checked our gear.
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Kate was volunteering at the finish line and headed off to check in with the other volunteers. I was in corral A, and Jenny was in corral E. Shortly after checking our gear, we parted ways and found our respective corrals.
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I made my way to the front of the corral and chatted with some of the other runners. I like to be up front because I don’t like weaving around people – I think it takes up too much energy.¬†
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This was my fifth weekend in a row racing (Kutztown Fools Run, Garden Spot Half Marathon, Boston, and St. Lukes Half), whether I was actually racing for myself or acting as a pacer. This was the final race of my spring season, and my legs were tired. I didn’t know what to expect from myself and didn’t have the same sort of lengthy list of goals I had for Boston. The¬†goals I gave myself this time were simple:

  • DO NOT¬†go out too fast. You didn’t train for sub-3, you trained for 3:05. Seven. Minute. Miles. !!!
  • Try to run a time that will get you into wave 1 in¬†Boston 2017 (something under 3:09). If¬†you¬†feel good, aim closer to that 3:05.
  • Have fun and check state¬†#31 off the list.
Miles 1-5
The national anthem was sung, and the race started promptly at 7:30am. Just like every other race, everyone shot out like racehorses (cheesy pun intended). I looked at my watch and felt like I was walking at a 6:16 pace. Seven. Minute. Miles. Slow down.

 

I slowed, and it felt like the whole field was passing me. At first, it¬†messed with my head. I reminded myself that¬†the half and full started together,¬†so some people were running the half and should¬†be running much faster than me. The first five miles weave through the city, and there are lots of turns. I focused on enjoying my surroundings, “not” breathing, consistent pacing, and running the tangents. It was overcast, but humid. I didn’t like the heat but knew it was going to rain.

 

I took my first GU at mile five. I bought all brand new GU flavors at the expo and thought it was a good idea to use all of them in the race (risky, but it ended up being fine). In Boston, my GU made me nauseous and I thought I might need to switch up the flavors. I figured it would keep me looking forward to my next GU and give me something to think about. First up, Chocolate Coconut Roctane. The verdict: YAS. Miles 1-5: 6:55, 6:58, 6:56, 6:56, 6:54.

 

Miles 6-10
I was feeling just okay – my legs felt decent but not completely fresh. My energy level was good, but not great. My stomach felt a little weird, but it wasn’t from the GU. It was sort of unsettled at the start of the race so I anticipated¬†it might be an issue at some point. At mile eight, you enter Churchill Downs and run through it. We went down a ramp and through a tunnel, and up the ramp on the other side to get into the Downs. When I ran through, the horses weren’t out, but everything was set up for the Derby. I was in awe.

 

We exited the Downs by running down a different ramp/tunnel and came back out onto the roads. Shortly after, the half marathoners broke off and the race really began. This is where the course turns into an “out and back” since you start running on a portion of the course that you have to return to downtown Louisville on. I began passing other runners, rather than being passed. It started to rain, and it¬†felt great. I prayed that the thunderstorms would hold off, and spied a female in the distance. I kept my pace steady, but passed her easily.¬†Seven. Minute. Miles. Slow down.¬†At 10, I took my next GU. Sea Salted Chocolate. Another winning flavor. Miles 6-10: 6:55, 6:56, 6:52, 6:52, 7:01.

 

Miles 11-15
Shortly after mile 11, we entered Iroquois Park. This is the section of course that’s supposed to be “hilly”. Up through this point, the race had been relatively flat: some false flats where we were gradually going up or down, but nothing noteworthy. We began to climb, and I kept bracing myself for a sharp, steep incline. I slowed down significantly to save my energy. I didn’t want to get burned out on the hills, especially since it was before the half marathon point.

 

Except the incline never came, and I sort of slowed down for nothing. When we reached the “peak” and began descending, I looked at a guy next to me and asked if that was the hill. He asked where I was from, and I said “Pennsylvania”. He laughed, and said, “Honey, that was the hill. I don’t think it’s going to register as much of a hill for you, though.”

 

We chatted for awhile¬†and I found it easy to talk, but I could tell he was running faster. I didn’t want to mess up his pace or force myself to speed up. I stayed on his tail but reminded myself to run my own race. He sped up a little, and I found myself running alone through the park. I was really enjoying myself and didn’t look at my watch much. I felt like I was at home running through Saucon Valley.

 

At the base of the park, we began to weave towards the road where you would begin to head “back” and I could see other runners up ahead. I saw the guy I had exchanged a few words with, and a female.¬†Seven. Minute. Miles. I didn’t change my pace, but I passed her easily within a few minutes. We smiled at each other and said¬†“good job”. The course began to feed back onto the road, and you could see oncoming runners entering the park that we were leaving. I removed one of my earbuds so I could start to look for Jenny, but also to hear if any of the oncoming runners would shout out what place I was. I thought, maybe I’m in the top 10!

 

Within minutes of entering the “back” portion of the course, I heard an oncoming runner yell, “3rd female! 3rd female!” I started looking around. Where is she? Maybe I can catch her. I couldn’t see any women up ahead. A few minutes later, an oncoming runner looked me square in the eyes and said, “Looking good, #3!”¬†What? Me?

 

I knew¬†(because I looked this up for shits and giggles) that there was significant prize money, and 3rd place was $500. It was like someone flipped a switch and I was running a new race. I was hunting down the rest of the women ahead of me, but I also realized I was being hunted. Rihanna’s “Work” was playing so I kept one earbud in and played that song on repeat.¬†I took another GU at mile 15: Salted Caramel. Hey, I’ve had this one before…yup, YUM. Miles 11-15: 6:56, 7:20 (the “hill”), 6:57, 7:06, 6:54.

 

Miles 16-20
I saw Jenny coming and I saw her facial expression when she realized it was me. She screamed, “Allie, you’re THIRD!” I slapped her five, and just kept “working” (work, work, work, work, work). I heard someone say, “Looking strong, #3! #2 is only a few seconds ahead of you!” What? I started scanning the runners ahead of me and saw a flash of bright orange. There was she was, probably only about a quarter mile ahead of me. It’s mile 16. Do not race this woman at mile 16.¬†Seven. Minute. Miles.

 

I was moving a bit faster, but it was because of the¬†adrenaline. I kept the effort as controlled as I could. Before I knew it, I was passing her almost as if she were¬†standing still. She looked panicked and asked me if there were any other females close by. I told her I passed one back in Iroquois Park, miles ago. I encouraged her to run with me and chase down the first place female, and she got a little defensive. “She’s been leading the race since the beginning and looks REALLY strong. Good luck.” I found out later they’re friends and training partners, so I get it. If someone was passing me and hunting down one of my friends, I’d probably have a similar reaction.

 

We were entering a section of the course where it¬†feeds in with the half marathon runners that hadn’t finished yet, but were¬†separated by a metal fence. We were¬†all moving in the same direction, but on separate sides of the road. ¬†The half marathoners that caught sight of me would cheer and tell me I was in second place. I had no idea how close the first place female was to me, so my focus was now on staying ahead of 3rd place. Around mile 18, I spotted¬†her. The first place female was running with a guy and the course marshall¬†that was her bike escort was riding next to them. From further away, she looked strong. Do NOT¬†race this woman at mile 18. Stay back. Be patient. She doesn’t know you’re here, so you have the upper hand. Seven. Minute. Miles.

 

I didn’t speed up, but before mile 19 I was starting to gain on her quickly. At mile 19, the guy she was running with spotted me and did a double take. I wasn’t speeding up, and I continued running my pace. I realized that hanging with her (or just behind her) would mean slowing down.

 

I weighed my options and made a choice. If I were going to pass her, I needed to put enough distance between us so¬†it wouldn’t result in an all out sprint in the last .2. My odds of winning if it came down to that would likely not be in my favor. It happened at the Quakertown 10 Miler.¬†I don’t know if I just didn’t want that one badly enough, or if I really just need to work on my kick. I didn’t want to take that chance here and find out. I politely told her “nice job” as I was passing her. I told myself to focus, hang on for dear life, and drop her.

 

Regardless of how good I felt in that moment, I knew the rest of the race was not going to be easy. I knew the last 10K would likely hurt more than running has ever hurt in my whole life. Hitting mile 20 is usually a welcomed milestone for me in a marathon. This time I knew it meant 42-ish minutes of running in fear of being passed and trying to hold on to my pace. At mile 20, I grabbed another GU. Maple Bacon. Eh. Not terrible. Miles 16-20: 6:36 (I got excited), 6:57, 6:41, 6:48, 6:48.

 

Miles 21-26
I was running scared that second place would catch me. I knew a PR was likely, so my adrenaline was going. I started¬†to feel a little fatigued¬†and remembered¬†Megan’s advice: no breathing until mile 20. Now was¬†the time to give it everything I have. My splits during¬†these miles were not as fast as 16-20, but my legs felt surprisingly good. I was consistently passing men, and passed the guy I’d spoken to briefly in Iroquois Park.

 

Sometime after mile 20, the course marshall on bike said, “I’m your bike escort today and will be bringing you in.” I noticed a sign on the bike that said “Female Marathon Leader”. That was ME! Is this really happening right now? I removed my iPod completely and tucked it into my bra. These¬†last miles¬†might hurt more than anything I’ve ever done, but I was not going to miss one second of it.

 

The half marathoners were still on the left, but some sections were not fenced off. They would begin to trickle onto the “marathon” side of the road (the right side) and the course marshall would loudly blow his whistle and tell them to get out of the way – for ME! The stream of half marathon runners would¬†cheer loudly as I ran by as¬†they caught sight of me.

 

When we approached a water stop or a section of course with spectators, the course marshall would call out, “Female marathon leader! First place female!” The crowd would cheer, and I got¬†goosebumps every single time. Finally, around mile 22.5, the course veered off from the half marathoners. I could hear the course marshall on the radio: “Mile 22.5, lead female. Bib number 184.” Is this real life?¬†I decided to take one more GU to try to keep me as energized as possible for the last 5K. A 5K. You just ran one of those in 18:48. You can do that in 21 minutes. You can do this today. Vanilla Spice. Not my favorite.

 

The course was much quieter now that the marathon course didn’t include the half marathoners. I wanted so badly to look over my shoulder and see if I could see second¬†place. I refused to do it. Instead, I started chatting with the course marshall. His name was Murphy, and he was the president of their local bike club. We chatted about Louisville, biking, and he asked where I was from. I told him how I drove here from Allentown, and I was running in Kentucky as part of my quest to run a marathon in each state. He was so excited that he kept radioing information about me to whoever was waiting at the finish line.

 

Before I knew it, it was mile 24. Murphy stopped abruptly and looked over his shoulder. I worried immediately that second¬†place was gaining on me. Could I pick up the pace right now? Could I “race” her?¬†I felt okay, but I didn’t know if I could possibly go any faster. He resumed¬†his position riding¬†next to me again, and I asked if she was close. His reply was not at all what I expected: “I can’t even see her. I can see a few blocks in the distance, and she isn’t there. This is your day, baby.” I was speechless.

 

At mile 25, I was still talking to Murphy but we were getting closer to the finish line. There were tons of spectators and we were re-joining the course with the half, and everyone who saw me coming was cheering loudly. I was smiling from ear to ear and I kept saying to Murphy, “I can’t believe this is happening right now! I never won a marathon before!” At mile 25.5, he said to me, “Okay baby, this is it – around that turn is as far as I can go.” I thanked him for keeping me company over the past few miles. I half contemplated hugging him, but I probably would have knocked him off his bike. I saw the marker for mile 26 and that’s when I started to cry. Miles 21-26: 6:46, 7:05, 7:12, 7:03, 6:58, 7:14.

 

Mile 26.2
I turned a corner and saw the finish line, and saw two people holding finish line tape –¬†for ME! I probably looked like the biggest dork, but I was smiling, cheering loudly, and fist pumping the entire way to the finish line. I didn’t care. I did it.

 

Two years. Two years of miles, races, injuries, blisters, tears, and disappointment. Two years of trying everything I possibly could for this moment.¬†I put in the work, got myself to that starting line and dragged my ass 26.2 miles in 3:02:19. A 6:57 overall pace. A¬†brand new PR by four minutes and 37 seconds, and first overall female. I won a marathon. It was overwhelming, and it was all worth it. I don’t know if I could ever repeat that performance, but on that rainy day in Louisville for 3:02:19, I got to be a rockstar.

 

Another highlight of my day: I got to break finish line tape! I always wanted to do that. How fitting that the first time I get to do that, it’s in a marathon.
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Kate was volunteering at the finish line and handing out medals. She was standing there as I crossed, waiting for me with my medal. She placed it around my neck and we both started jumping up and down and crying. Someone was placing a heat blanket around me, and the race director guided me over to a VIP tent where they started handing me things. A bouquet of flowers, a ceramic plate, a bottle of champagne, chocolate milk. They had me take pictures immediately, and I had no time to even think about it. I was starting to get really cold since I stopped running and it hadn’t stopped raining so I was drenched. The pictures they took were pretty terrible, but Kate got a good one:
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This is the one they used on Facebook and Twitter:
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Kate took my bib and got my gear bag for me, and I saw the next two girls finish. They were the girls I saw on the course, only the one who had originally led the race for 19 miles ended up taking 3rd. They came over and introduced themselves to me. I ended up having much more of a lead than I realized.
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In addition to the flowers, a ceramic plate, and some booze, I won more money than I’ve ever won…ever, for anything! The prize for first place was $1500. I still can’t even wrap my head around the whole weekend, let alone winning money.¬†It’s Tuesday, and I’m still riding that high and wondering if it all really happened. I had to go back to work today, and it felt so surreal. I feel like I just woke up from a dream.

 

What makes this experience extra special to me is that I finally feel like I earned the time on that clock. Even when I ran that 3:06 in Charlevoix, I never specifically trained for that – or anything close to that. That day, the stars were aligned. I felt good, took a risk, and got lucky. The purpose of¬†that race¬†was to show¬†me the potential was there. What I didn’t understand was that I needed to put in¬†the work if I wanted to do it again and improve. You’ve got what it takes, but it will take everything you’ve got. I spent the remainder¬†of 2014 and all of¬†2015 expecting to break my PR as easy as it came to me. While I wish I would have been able to PR earlier, this is a lesson I needed to learn.

 

I am grateful and humbled by this experience. I don’t just mean the race experience itself, but by the past two years. ¬†The first thing I did when I had a moment to begin to process everything¬†was go back and read my Indianapolis post. I promised myself I would do that if I ever ran a marathon PR again to remind myself that PRs are not to be taken for granted. I’m taking this time to enjoy my recent success, but also to reflect on the journey.¬† Running is hard – physically and mentally.¬†And with that in mind, I will recover: physically, I’ll be kind to myself and relax. Mentally, I’ll remind myself that anything worth having is worth working for, and that nothing good ever comes easy. When I begin again, I’ll remember¬†the lessons I’ve learned over the past two years and hopefully, I’ll grow from them.

 

Thank you – from the bottom of my heart – for reading and supporting me. ‚ô•

 

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Kentucky Derby Marathon Training, Week 2: Race Week

I REALLY REALLY REALLY want to post a race review today. Problem: I didn’t get my race photos yet and I REALLY REALLY REALLY want those first. The struggle is REAL. But here are some pretty pictures of my dogwood tree and my barn to hold you over. Because I can never take enough pictures of that damn tree or old barn:

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I know I made very little mention of the¬†Kentucky Derby Marathon during Boston training. If you read my overly wordy weekly updates and posts VERY carefully, you might have caught one or two mentions of it throughout the whole thing. I didn’t do that on purpose – I was never focused on that race and it was strictly about going on a trip with two of my oldest friends (we’ve known each other since fourth grade!) and having FUN. Anyway, if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ll know that race that was supposed to be “low key fun” had a very different outcome. I promise, I am chomping at the bit to tell you about it but…pictures. I want them! So instead, today you get to read all about how my final week of Tapecovery went (taper for KY while still recovering from Boston…sorry, lame but I’ve had a lot of coffee already today).

Monday, 4/25: Easy Run, 6 Miles + Core/MYRTLs + Pole Fitness

Did an easy paced loop around Lehigh Parkway after work and it was absolutely gorgeous out. For abs, I did my usual exercises and my MYRTLs followed by NTC’s Alpha Abs. I went to pole class at night and we learned a bunch of new stuff, but I felt fatigued and wasn’t too good at any of it.

Tuesday, 4/26: Easy run,  5 Miles + Core/MYRTLs + Pole Fitness

Got in my core/MYRTL exercises plus NTC’s Core Stability workout early in the day, then headed to Penn Pump Trail (which, I am starting to like better but only for five miles or less) for an easy run. I went to pole class and ran through my routine a few times, which went pretty well.

Wednesday, 4/27: Easy Run, 6 Miles + Core/MYRTLs + Pole Fitness 

Once again got my core work and MYRTLs in early, plus NTC’s Perfect Alignment workout. I headed to the Plainfield Trail after work and did an easy run, which felt really good.¬†As good as I felt, I remember thinking I had no idea how I was going to run a whole marathon. I think I was averaging something in the 8:20s and couldn’t imagine racing further and faster anytime soon. I headed to pole class and worked on my routine, but still felt heavy and fatigued.

Thursday, 4/28: Easy Run, 3 Miles + Pole 

I ran three easy miles on the Saucon Trail and went to pole class to run through my routine. I went a little harder than I planned to at pole and was really sore after and thought I was really setting myself up for a disaster of a race. I planned on doing core work that night after dinner but I actually FORGOT. I got wrapped up in cooking and packing and knew I needed to be up by 3 am so I headed to bed early. As I headed up, I saw my yoga mat and realized I never did it. Oops.

I did, however, shop for road trip foods. Mainly for foods to eat after the race, of course:

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I also made another batch of my sweet potato waffles. Lately I’ve been using cashew butter instead of almond butter and I think I like them even more:

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Friday, 4/29: Rest

10 hour car drive to Kentucky meant no shakeout run. I wasn’t trying to run when I got there – we just did a bunch of walking to loosen up our legs.

Saturday, 4/30: Kentucky Derby Marathon

:):):)

Sunday, 4/24: REST!!!

We drove home so I had no choice, but I felt REALLY good. After the marathon on Saturday, we showered and headed out and did a lot of walking and I think that really helped. I wasn’t too sore – I felt less sore after this than I did after Boston. I came home immediately after the race in Boston and was cooped up in a car after running, versus being able to stretch my legs and walk this time. I think that made a HUGE difference! Oh yeah – I ate a lot and boycotted water. Lots of coffee, junk food and soda all day long.

And that’s all you get – for now!!!!:)

♥ Total Miles ♥ 46.2 ♥

How was your week?

What I’m Working Out to Wednesday

Coleman Hell
“2 Heads”

Not the newest song, but it took me awhile until I found it catchy. It’s on my playlist for the Kentucky Derby Marathon this weekend! Enjoy!

Ever hear a song that you think initially is “so-so” only to end up loving it so much you play it on repeat?

Race Review: St. Luke’s Half Marathon (1:45 Pacer)

I always pace a half-marathon the week before Boston (Garden Spot), but starting last year I began pacing one the week after, too. It is a race that holds a special place in my heart because it was my first ever half marathon. I wrote about my first experience pacing it last year here, when I was asked last minute to fill in as the 1:50 pacer.

This year, I was asked to pace the 1:45 group. That’s my favorite group to pace, and I knew I had the Kentucky Derby Marathon the following week and would probably run 10-13 miles around that pace anyway. When race day came around, I woke up and was less than amused with my decision. I wanted to sleep in, put on my iPod and go for a run – not go to a race. Why did I think this was a good idea?

I drank some coffee and headed out. I got to the race around 7am, and once I was in the gymnasium of William Allen High School (the staging area for this race), I was glad I decided to do it. Pretty much all of our local running community was out, whether they were running, volunteering, or spectating. We have such a wonderful community that I would have been bummed if I’d missed out on this event.

The race goes off at 8:10 am (there’s a 5K that starts at 8am) so we made our way to the starting line about fifteen minutes early. I had a fairly large group, and several runners asked my strategy. I always like to do even splits, but possibly¬†a few seconds per mile faster until mile eight for this race to account for the Parkway. Most runners lose steam around mile eight because we enter Lehigh Parkway, which is a narrow cinder path with some moderate climbs. It slows you down to run on cinders, plus the climbs and the tight space means you expend more energy trying to pass runners and stay on pace. Whether I run the race myself or I pace it, I find those miles to always be the slowest of the race.

An older gentleman came up to me and told me he wanted to run an 8 minute mile and has been trying to hold onto that pace for years. He seemed familiar, and then it dawned on me: we ran several miles together when I paced the D&L Half Marathon in November! I reminded him of that, and he remembered me immediately. At the D&L, he ran exactly a 1:45. It was fun to see someone from a past race, and he seemed excited to see I would be his pace leader again.

The race went off on-time, and it was a gorgeous day. It starts with a steep downhill, so I focused on not taking the group out too fast. The first eight miles of the race are my favorite. Once you hit mile two and get on Martin Luther King Boulevard, you get to see the lead runners coming back from the turnaround so there is a ton of cheering. My good friend, Zafer, started with my pace group and running with him is like running with a celebrity. Everyone knows and loves Z (he is seriously the sweetest guy ever) and was cheering for him. He, in turn, was cheering for everyone – including the spectators. My mom got this great shot of us running together – it might be my most favorite running picture ever:

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Once we could see the lead runners on their way¬†back, I saw that my training partners were leading the women’s race! Megan was in 2nd (she ran a 1:23 and took second overall), and Cassie was in 3rd (she ran a 1:25 and took third overall). It made me extremely proud and happy to cheer them on as they came BLOWING past us. Watching them cruise back at their speedy pace made our 1:45 group look like we were standing still. It was awesome and exciting to cheer my friends on and watch¬†them run such strong races. I cracked up¬†as Chris G. came blowing by us – I’ve done a few long runs with him over the past year. He organizes the pace team¬†and I thought he was pacing. Nope! He ran a 1:19 half marathon that day, but he also ran Boston in 2:55 a few days earlier! He told me after the race that the half¬†was his first run back from Boston. Mind BLOWN! I love it!

Through this point and up through mile eight, I’d maintained around a 7:55 pace. The mile markers seemed slightly off so I relied on clock time and effort to keep the pace consistent. I saw so many other friends in this section of the race, and everyone was all smiles and cheering for each other. How could you not be? It was a gorgeous day, a great course, and our community rocks. If you live within a reasonable distance from me, I highly recommend coming to run this race next year. The Lehigh Valley is a great place to be a runner, and the St. Luke’s half ¬†has been around for over 30 years. It’s a great place to be.

We entered the Parkway, and Emily came running up next to me! I knew she was trying to run somewhere in the 1:45 range but had a more casual approach to training this year. She was running with her fiance and looked great. They¬†ran with Z for awhile, and were a little ahead of me through some sections in the Parkway. Once we crossed over the red covered bridge, there was still a few more Parkway miles left to go. That’s when the struggle seems to hit most runners. Z was feeling good and took off here, and Emily fell a little behind. I had a few runners from my original pack with me, but picked up a few new ones along the way. It was through this section that I began averaging a true 8 minute mile – some were even slower, 8:08ish pace – to try to keep the group together through the hills.

A local runner that I’d never met before, Nanette, caught me towards the end of the¬†Parkway. I recognized her name because she works with my old coach, Kenrick. She had a tough winter and had the goal of 1:45 for the day even though she’s run faster half marathons before, so she stuck with me for a few miles. Around mile 11, most of the runners I began with had either fallen ahead of me or slightly behind me. I maintained an 8 minute mile pace and tried to motivate whatever runner’s were in my general area.

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Chris G. gave our pace team the task¬†of coming in around 30 seconds under goal, and I came in at 1:44:39 according to my gun time, but 1:44:22 according to my chip time. It was about eight seconds fast, but I didn’t seem to have anyone upset with me. Many runners came up and thanked me and told me that they had a great race. Both Emily, her fiance and Nanette ran 1:44:55, which was exciting. ¬†Another local runner, Beth, sought me out¬†after and said she made it her goal to keep me in her sights and finished in 1:46 – a PR! That made my day.

I truly¬†enjoy being a pacer. You meet so many amazing, strong people and to have the opportunity to watch¬†them achieve their goals is incredible. It’s the most rewarding experience and one of my¬†favorite ways to participate in some of the local races. I love any chance I get to help out our running community. I’ve met some of my closest and best friends through running in the Lehigh Valley, and it’s a joy to watch my friends succeed and help others reach their goals. We are such a supportive group, and everyone is always cheering each other on. Great job to everyone who participated in the race this weekend – it was a spectacular event!

Boston Recovery/Kentucky Derby Marathon Taper, Week 1

Recovery, taper…what’s the difference? These two things are interchangeable, right? Back in 2014, I had a season (the season that ended with the marathon PR that I can’t seem to touch) where I ran one marathon every three weeks. That went on from March through May (four marathons from the beginning of March through mid-May). Then I went and changed it up and threw in a half-Ironman, followed by my final marathon of the season. I think I did something like five marathons, a 10 miler, a half marathon (as a pacer), a 5K and my first half-Ironman in that time period. I checked off a lot of states that year.

Unfortunately, it’s becoming harder for me to have seasons like this for a few reasons. The obvious one: I’m not getting paid to do this, and marathons cost money. I’m almost¬†out of marathons I can road trip to for a long weekend and most are going to require flights. Secondly, I got a bit faster in 2014. I’ve found that with more speed comes the need for more¬†recovery. I didn’t think much about signing up for the Kentucky Derby Marathon. I knew it was two weeks after Boston. As a matter of fact, I signed up for it because it was two weeks after Boston. It’s the race I want to do for Kentucky, and it often falls on the same weekend as Boston. Not this year, so I signed up.

I’ve done two marathons in one week several times before – two weeks is fine. Once, I ran a marathon on a Sunday in Vancouver and then a marathon that following Saturday in Anchorage. But that was before – before I was getting closer to that three hour mark. I also didn’t factor in that¬†Boston is Monday; Kentucky is Saturday. So it’s not even two weeks in between. Oops.

I didn’t really think too hard about signing up, or about the timing until after Boston was over. When planning my season, I chose¬†to make Boston my A-race, based on how my¬†fall ended. I did Hartford as a tune up for Indianapolis, but got injured in between so I felt like I never really got to race¬†a fall marathon. If I were going to continue multiple marathoning, I would do the first one as my goal race and take the pressure off for marathon #2.

My goal for Kentucky is simple: Check another state off my list and enjoy a weekend away with friends. If I line up at the start and feel amazing, then I’ll give it my all. If not, it’s a catered long run with a shirt and a medal. Either way, it’s going to be fun. We’re leaving super early on Friday morning and road tripping our way down south.

There isn’t much you can do to help your marathon training once inside that 10 day window, but you can do everything to hurt it. Being as Boston was on 4/18 and Kentucky is on 4/29, that 10 day window began the day after Boston. I’m treating this race as if Boston was my last long run before the marathon, followed by a hard taper. I’m doing zero speed work before this race and I’m¬†simply focused on getting my legs back under me. My quads were pretty sore post-Boston, and it took until Saturday before I felt normal running again. I took it pretty easy [for most of] last week.

Monday, 4/18: Boston

We already discussed this:)

Tuesday, 4/19: REST

My day consisted mainly of this:

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And lots of this:

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Wednesday, 4/20: Pole Fitness + Core

After consuming a disgusting amount of junk food on Tuesday and spending the whole entire day on my couch, I figured I should do some abs and go to pole. I showed up, but it was unproductive.

Thursday, 4/21: Easy Run, 4 Miles + Pole 

First run back and I felt surprisingly good. I ran four easy miles around Lehigh Parkway and even though my quads were a little sore, I felt better after my run. I went to pole at a different studio – the one sponsoring the pole competition in May – and got to play around on the poles I’ll be using to compete. They’re different than what I’m used to, so it’s important to¬†get some experience on them. The instructor there liked my routine but hated my floor work (big shocker there, since I try my best to stay away from floor work at all costs). I left feeling a little frustrated.

Friday, 4/22: Pole 

Headed to my regular pole studio and discussed what went down on Thursday with my regular instructor. I went over my routine but felt pretty fatigued. Unproductive again.

Saturday, 4/23: Easy Run, 4 Miles + Pole

Had a great run on the Plainfield trail, and spent a few hours at the pole studio. I re-worked my entire floor work section, so it was more productive than the rest of the week. I felt heavy and tired all week long. I think the carb loading and junk food caught up with me, and I was still fatigued from Boston.

Sunday, 4/24:¬†St. Luke’s Half Marathon +¬†Core/MYRTLs

Yep, ran a half marathon! I was the 1:45 pacer. Somehow that seemed like a great idea when I agreed to it. When my alarm went off on Sunday morning, I thought differently. It ended up being great, and I’ll do a whole post on it for you. My mom took this picture and it pretty much sums up the race:

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I managed to get my ass off the couch later that day for core work. Nothing crazy: planks, bridges, leg raises, hip lifts, MYRTLs and NTC’s Core Strength workout (it’s only seven minutes long). I even did some meal prep for the following week! Slowly returning back to normal.

♥ Total Miles ♥ 47.2 ♥

Ever run multiple races in a relatively short time frame?