Monday, July 30, 2012

What’s 2 More Miles?!

Sunday I had plans to run with my friends Tami and Felice for my long run.  We wanted to incorporate the Dyken Pond loop into our run because that was our route for our awesome 20 miler when we trained for New Jersey and it’s a really beautiful route.  Felice only needed 10 miles, Tami needed 18 and I needed 16.  Well Tami is the type of person that can talk you into anything running-wise. She is so positive and motivating you always want to go along with her plans.  They usually turn out to be crazy hard and hilly but so worth it in the end.  So that’s how I ended up planning to do 18 instead of 16.  I was going to meet at her house, run 4 with her to the Dyken loop to meet Felice, do the 10 mile loop, then run back to Tami’s house for 18.

Sunday we woke up to a lot of rain.  On the way to Tami’s house I realized I forgot my garmin- ran plus no garmin wasn’t a good start.  I then heard from Felice that she wasn’t going to be able to make it.  When I got to Tami’s she told me about a triathlon that was going on at Grafton State Park and how we could change our route to run up the bike route and cheer the bikers on. We figured we would save the Dyken loop for when Felice could run with us. We briefly discussed how this would mean we would be running up a huge hill and we really had no idea how far we would have to run up the hill to see them but again Tami makes everything sound fun so we went for it. 

We parked at the local school and took off up the hill. We must have run over 3 miles before we saw our first biker.  We were so excited and cheered loudly.  This guy was super fast because it was a while before saw anymore bikers and then we saw more and more.  After finishing mile 5, which was really tough, we looked up to see that the hill got even steeper and longer and decided that would be a good place to turn around.  We figured we would run back down then finish up our run on more level ground. The run down felt great.  We were flying after that tough uphill.  We kept seeing more bikers and cheering for them.  It was cool to see how fast some of the women were.  I was in awe of all the bikers because it had to be a terrifying ride down that hill in the pouring rain.

Once we got back down we made a quick pit stop to refill our water and headed out the same road we ran for the Make it a Great Day Half Marathon back in May.  We figured we could do a “flat” 4 out and back.  Compared to what we had just run up I guess you could call this road flat but it really wasn’t.  It was a lot of rolling hills.  I had a rough time on this road back in May so it was nice to run it again and although I felt tired because we already had 10 miles under us at that point, I felt so much stronger than I did in May.  Before we knew it we were back at the car and had 18 miles done at a 9:37 pace!

I am amazed at how far I have come since I began training for New Jersey earlier this year.  During that training cycle I was nervous leading up to distances like 18 and 20 and now I feel so much more confident.  I know I can handle them.  I’m stronger and faster than I was in the beginning of the year and even since May. 

Last night Tami sent me some info on our run since I forgot my garmin.  Here is the total ascent for each of those 5 crazy uphill miles:

Mile 1: 200 feet

Mile 2: 231 feet

Mile 3: 241 feet

Mile 4: 443 feet

Mile 5: 388 feet

This is the kind of run I would never choose to do on my own but every time Tami talks me into something like this I am so glad I did it! Although she is now trying to convince me to do an ultra in 2013 and I swear I AM NOT doing it...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Recently there was a Living Social Deal for one month of unlimited CrossFit at a local CrossFit gym, Crossfit Beyond. I’ve wanted to try Crossfit for a while but I’ve been hesitant to try it because joining most of our local crossfit gym’s are pricey and I was afraid that I wouldn’t use it or wouldn’t like it. This deal was the perfect opportunity to try it because it was half the normal price.
Monday night I took my first class. Luckily there were 6 other new people who also had joined as part of the deal so they split us off from the regular class and did more of an introductory class. We focused mostly on doing squats properly, since we were told squats are one of the major movements in Crossfit. We did a bunch of squat basics and then we got to do our own WOD. We partnered up and had to do as many rounds as possible of 5 squats and 5 crunches in 5 minutes. It didn’t sound that hard but after all the squats we had already done this was killer.

After our WOD was over we joined the rest of the class to do a Tabata with them. We did 8 rounds of planks. We had to hold them for 20 seconds and then we would get a 10 second rest. Two days later and I can still feel this in my abs.

I felt like even though we didn’t do a regular class workout I got an great workout. I am going back tonight and while I am excited to try the regular class I am also a little nervous. We were able to watch the regular class on Monday during our workout and it was intense! Hopefully I will survive!

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Good Run is a Bad Run?

Saturday morning I met up at the bike path with Felice, Jenny, and Lois for a long run.  We were joined by Jenny and Lois' friend Sue and my friend Caroline who brought along her friend Janet.  We were going to do 14 miles and had picked the bike path because it's flat.  I know that I personally needed flat run this week as most of my running has been on hills lately and Jenny and I had done 9 miles the day before below marathon pace.  Running-wise it had been a tough but good week for me, I had tackled my first track workout and had run 22 miles by the time Saturday rolled around.  I was tired.

Anyway we hit the path and started running.  The first 8 miles felt good.  We were running about a 9:30 pace and that's when the fatigue started to hit me, my quads felt tired and my legs in general felt tired.  I was able to hang on though and kept up with Felice and Sue.  At mile 10 I made a huge mistake I let myself walk.  It was all downhill from there. Once I started walking I couldn't get going again.  The last 4 miles were a lot of walking and a little running. While I don't normally have a problem stopping to walk if I need it, this particular day I know if I had just kept going I would have finished the run feeling better than I did.  I think I need to work on my mental toughness.  Overall my pace was 10:03 which really isn't bad considering all of the walking I did.  I would normally be happy with that pace if I didn't feel like I had given up at mile 10.  I know I could have pushed myself and that's what bothered me in the end. 

Even though I didn't feel great physically on my run, I did feel great when I finished.  I felt proud and happy to be out there with such amazing women.  Sue, who I just met that day, is 64 years old and a breast cancer survivor.  She didn't start running until she was in her 50's after battling breast cancer and she is super fast. I think she said she has run a 3:20 or 3:30 marathon and she qualifies for Boston every year! Anyway, it was hard to be down after running with someone like her. 

Plus, I feel like I learned a few lessons from that run. This week I will not be doing such a fast run the day before my long run and I'm going to work on pacing myself better on this week’s long run.  It's all part of the training!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

My First Track Workout

I have been running 1 or 2 mornings a week with Jenny and Lois who I met through the Strong Running Mama’s group.  Both of them are training for the NYC Marathon and Jenny is also training for the Hudson Mohawk Marathon, which is what I am also training for.  I’ve been enjoying getting to know them both and also enjoying the new routes they have introduced me to. 
Anyway, last week when we were running they started telling me about a track workout they do with Team Utopia every Tuesday night.  They said the workouts change each week and that the team is a really great group and that I should join.  I was really interested but my potential problem was that Joe works on Tuesday nights so I would have to see if my parents could pick Mia up from school and watch her for me.  Luckily, we normally go there for dinner on Tuesday nights so I didn’t think it would be an issue and my parents were happy to do it.

I’ve wanted to do track workouts for a while.  I know they will help make me a faster runner and help me get closer to that sub 4 hour marathon goal, but I am always afraid to do them on my own.  I don’t know why, it’s probably ridiculous, but I’ve always felt like I needed someone there to tell me what to do so joining a team sounded like the perfect opportunity.

So I signed up late last week and started to get excited for Tuesday...until I saw the forecast.  They were predicting 96 degrees for the high! Great- my first track workout and I was going to die.  I checked with Jenny and she said we were still on so I sucked it up and went and I am so glad I did.

After a 1.5 mile warmup the coach told us we would be split up into 3 person teams and would be doing 200 m relays for an hour.  I think he said something about how this was the only workout he thought wouldn’t kill us in this heat.  Excellent...

Jenny and I were put on a team with Chuck who was super nice.  I got to go first and unsure of how to pace myself I tried to go as fast as I could.  Unfortunately I didn’t have my garmin set up properly for a track workout so my data isn’t very good.  But it appears I did most of my 200 m relays at a 6:30 pace. We ended up running 3 miles of relays so 4.5 miles for the night with the warmup.  Some people did a cool down run but the workout went a little later than I expected so I skipped that to go get Mia and get her ready for bed.  Overall my pace for the evening was 7:30.  Again, I need to figure out my garmin so next week I can have better data.

Having the teams of 3 really helped with the heat.  We each enough time in between our laps to drink some water.  By the end of the night we were all dripping with sweat and I felt beat but it was a good feeling. I can’t wait until next week.

I had made plans to meet Jenny and Lois the next morning for a 5 miler but I think I didn’t drink enough water after the workout.  I ended up not being able to sleep and had a horrible headache that lasted through part of the next day.  I just tried to rest and drink a lot of water and eventually felt back to normal although my legs are still tired. 

This morning I felt much better and was able to run 7 miles at a 9:26 pace.  The heat and humidity has also started to break so hopefully next weeks track workout won’t have the same effect on me.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Running Buddies

About 2 years ago the Happy Runner started a running group for moms who wanted to train for their first 5K.  This was not long after I had Mia and I was struggling with getting back into running.  A good friend of mine was friends with the Happy Runner and suggested I contact her and join the group.  Since then the group has gone from training for a 5K to running half marathons and a bunch completed their first marathon in New Jersey back in May.   It's become this amazing network of local women who support each other through our training.  Many of us train together and race together and along the way I have made a lot of friends that I probably wouldn't have met if it wasn't for this group. 

Today was one of those days when I reminded of just how amazing this group is.  Early each week members of the facebook group start posting about the long runs they are planning for the weekend and asking who wants to join in.  Usually we end up with a couple of small groups gathering at various times throughout the weekend for long runs of various distances.  This morning 11 moms showed up for our long run.  It was awesome.  We ended up splitting up into different groups based on paces and distances we wanted but it was so cool to see so many of us together at the start.  I was so proud to be a part of this group. 

This group has made me a better runner.  Just knowing that other women who are juggling kids, family, jobs, illnesses, and a million other stresses are also getting out there everyday and running makes me get out there too even when I don't feel like it, even when it's hard. 

So I just want to thank the Happy Runner for starting this group and bringing us all together and thank you Strong Running Mama's for always inspiring me to strive to train harder and keeping me going!

By the way, just so this post isn't completely's run was freakin' hard! 12.5 miles of hot humid hills at a 9:35 pace but we did it!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Boilermaker 15K

On Sunday Joe, my uncle John and I met the Hudson Mohawk Road Runners Club buses at 5 am to head to Utica for the Boilermaker.  This was our second time running it.  Last year we missed it because we waited too long to sign up so this year we were sure to sign up early.  Utica is about an hour and a half from Albany so taking the bus was a great idea.  We got to relax and sleep a bit for the ride rather than worry about driving.  The other great thing about taking the bus is that HMRRC already had all of our packets so once we got to the start we didn’t have to worry about packet pick up.

Once we arrived at the start we headed towards the bathrooms and looked for some of my Strong Running Mama friends that were running too.  We easily found them and a lot of other friends from Albany that were there too.  We all posed for some group pictures, wished each other luck and headed towards are corals.
Strong Running Mamas Pre Race

With so many runners (I think I heard that 13,000) had registered, they have to do a coral start.  I guess the corals were by estimated finish time although I don’t remember entering that when we registered but it was quite a while ago.  The coral that Joe, John and I were in didn’t cross the start line until over 6 minutes into the race.  The announcers were saying that at that time the lead women were already past the 1 mile mark- Amazing!

Once we past the start I tried to find my pace which was difficult the first few miles because of the crowds.  Finally I found my groove and before I knew it I was at the dreaded golf course hill.  The last time I ran this race I was about 6 months post-partum and it was a ver hard race for me, although I did have a lot of fun.  I remember hating this hill so much.  This time, no problem, I charged that thing and loved every second of it.  It felt so good to be able to do that.  The best part of that hill was the downhill that followed.  I was cruising for the next few miles and had some sub 8 minute miles!

While the race had started out overcast and with temperatures in the 60's, the sun came out halfway through the race and the humidity was really high.  Around mile 7 the humidity hit me.  I was still running fast but I felt like I was running in slow motion.  I was drenched.  I just tried to keep holding onto my pace because I knew if I ran strong the rest of the way I could PR.  Those last 2 miles felt longer to me than the first 7 but eventually I crossed the finish line.  My garmin said 1:18:47, my previous PR for a 15K was 1:19:25 at the 2011 Stockadeathon, so I was pretty sure I had it but wanted to wait to confirm with the official results before getting too excited.  Regardless I was proud of my time and had a lot of fun on the course.  There were so many great bands and DJ’s and the crowds are amazing.  Utica knows how to put on a race!

After crossing the finish line I grabbed some water and a popsicle and looked for my friends and Joe.  I found Sheila and Felice and eventually the rest of the crew.  The ladies were driving back to Albany so Joe, John and I headed back to the bus to change and enjoy the post-race party.  We had so much fun listening to the band and enjoying the free beer.  We kept running into more people we knew too.  Around noon the party ended so we headed back the bus and back to Albany.  It was nice to get to spend the day with Joe running and having fun for a while after.  He had been away the week before so it was a nice together for us.  Plus on the bus ride home we found the official results online and I had in fact PR’d - 1:18:42!!!
Joe and I enjoying post race beers

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Firecracker 4 Miler

Yesterday morning I ran one of my favorite races, the Firecracker 4 Miler in Saratoga Springs.  Joe is away for work this week so I got to run this race pushing my #1 training partner Mia.  Let’s just say that it was a very hot day and the course is a great course but has 2 hills towards the very end.  Knowing all this I just wanted to run the race and have fun.  My good friend Ryan was running it and so were some of my Strong Running Mama friends.
Mia in her 4th of July running attire

To prepare for the heat I armed Mia with two squirt guns for the race.  She loved it and was practicing by squirting Ryan and I before the race.  At the start we ran into some crazy runners from the Albany Running Exchange dressed up as various animals and snowman.  They run the race like this every year, I don’t know how they do it.  Mia loved seeing them though.
Albany Running Exchange Runners at the finish line

There were over 3,000 runners this year for the race so the start was crowded and hard to maneuver with the stroller but once we got going I felt pretty good but very, very hot.  Our first mile was 8:41 which I thought was great but I wasn’t sure if I would be able to maintain with the heat and the stroller.

This race is just a blast.  Even with the heat you can’t help but have fun.  The course runs down Broadway and turns into residential neighborhoods.  Residents have bands set up on their lawns.  It’s so much fun.  Mia and I cheered loudly for each group.  Residents also set up misting stations throughout the course.  We ran through every one and it really helped. 

Approaching mile 3 there is an uphill that normally sucks but really sucks when you are pushing a stroller.  After that you get a slight reprieve until the last half mile which is uphill again.  This is just cruel.  I was really struggling at that point but just tried to keep going since I could see the flag that marked the finish line. 

I ended up finishing in 34:37, an 8:40 pace.  I am pretty proud of that time.  It was a hot day and pushing Mia was hard!
Mia and I at the finish

After the race, Mia really wanted to see the ARE animals finish so we waited for them to come in and gave them some high 5's.  Then we went and enjoyed some free Chobani yogurt that the race provided.  We followed that up with some italian ice and met up with some of Strong Running Mamas.  Sheila won the Public Safety Division.  She rocks!
Strong Running Mamas

After that we watched the parade and headed to my aunt’s house for a bbq, water balloon fights, and kiddie pool swimming.  My munchkin passed out too early to catch the fireworks but it was still a great 4th of July.

Next up the Boilermaker on Sunday! Fingers crossed for cooler temps!