Author Archives: runnerunderpressure

Race Report: RockNRoll Las Vegas Half 2014

Short Version: SO not my day with almost everything conspiring against me. Still ended up 9th for women and 86th overall with a 1:25:02. Had an INCREDIBLE vacation with my family (more on that in a separate post).

Results from Vegas

Long Version:

I didn’t even get out of Burlington before the fuck-ups began. I boarded my original flight at 6 am on Saturday morning and spent 4 hours trying to get out of Burlington, including getting towed back to the gate and swapping airlines entirely. The real fun began somewhere over Detroit, however, where we circled the airport for over 40 minutes and landed at 11:46. My flight for Vegas left Detroit at 12:02. From Terminal C. I landed at A. Thankfully I’d worn my Converse and sprinted (I mean all out sprinted) for C26, making it with seconds to spare. The door closed behind me and I scrambled to my seat and climbed over my poor seatmates with sweat dripping off of me.

When I arrived in Vegas, my family was already there waiting. We picked up our rental car (a souped up Camero, bucket list item for my Dad) and headed to the Expo. Pickup was really smooth, which is just about the last thing that was smooth for the next 24 hours. After waiting 60 minutes to check in at Bally’s, it was time to race to our show for the evening so I didn’t get a run in.

All things considered (time change, moderate altitude, sprinting in Converse), I felt pretty good when I woke up on Sunday. I was a little achy from travel but my legs felt good enough. We kicked around for most of the morning and I just enjoyed the time with my family. At about 2:30, my sister and I headed off for the start line and the shitshow began. On the monorail, I started to feel sick to my stomach. Not nervous sick, but sick-sick. I hoped it would clear once we got outside again but no dice. When we got towards the start area, they diverted us into the Start Festival. As much as I like Macklemore (and hearing Thrift Shop live was pretty great), I just wanted to find a place to lay down by the Start. After some near tears halted by a great Competitor Group volunteer, I found the Start Line. When we got there, however, there were almost no CG employees and certainly no one who knew where elites were supposed to go or where we were supposed to use the bathroom. There was nowhere to pee and nowhere to warm up. Now in full tears, I found a photographer who let me use the media bathroom and a kind start line volunteer who promised that if I ran down the median, he’d let me back in. I did manage to get a few minutes of warmup in but no striders and no decrease in stomach pain.

As we got loaded in the Start Line, it was utter chaos. 2 hour half marathoners were standing on the line with the elites. Some over eager guy ripped my shoe off my foot. We were told we had 5 minutes til the start. 90 seconds later, the gun sounded. I sprinted off the line and still got knocked around and started to fumble with my Garmin to try to get splits.

Start of RnR

From Meb’s Twitter (thanks Meb!). Pretty sure this is right after aforementioned dude ripped my shoe off.

My original plan was to click in with the 1:20 pace group (6:08 pace) and hide behind them in the wind for the first few miles of the race. This plan quickly evaporated when they cranked through the first mile in 5:40 pace. Not for me, in even the best scenario. To make it worse, my stomach was not calming down. By 2 miles in, I was already counting miles and running splits. I settled for just trying to find a comfortable pace and kept my eyes on the people ahead of me. When my stomach felt stable, I pushed. When it started to threaten disaster, I backed off. As I went by my family around 4, I knew things were grim because my sister didn’t even tell me what place I was.

At about mile 6, the woman who was second in the marathon came back to me and we ran together until the race split off at 9. I was actually feeling okay around here and made a big move forward at 10 to pass the woman who was in 9th. This wouldn’t last however, and I spent the last 3 miles just praying I could find a porto-potty in time. Even as I saw the clock clicking towards 1:25, I couldn’t sprint for fear that my stomach would give up entirely.

Since my Garmin didn’t start, I don’t have much in the way of splits but the timing mats have the following:

5K: 19:47 (6:22)

10K: 39:42 (6:23)

10 M: 1:04:20 (6:26)

Last 5K: 20:42 (6:39, dear god)

Obviously I would have preferred to go into my down period on a high note, but it is what it is. Even if my pre-race prep had been perfect, my stomach was clearly not up for the task (my Dad got sick on Sunday night and my mom on Monday, so we had something kicking around) and every day just isn’t going to be a banner day. I also got to have a great time in Las Vegas with my family and decompress after what’s been a long fall of school, training and coaching.

So what’s next?

Two weeks of down time, doing whatever I want for exercise then figuring out what’s next! During down time, I’ll be looking back (and posting) about what I thought worked well this cycle and what needs improvement and also figuring out what the next year will look like for me. I fricken hate vague blogging, but I’m not ready to float the ideas totally publicly. Suffice to say that the things I’m thinking about are big enough (to me) that I want to make sure all my i’s are dotted before it becomes public knowledge.

Despite the snafu’s, I do want to thank the Competitor Group for comping my entry to Las Vegas. While I wouldn’t recommend Las Vegas for a PR race because of the afternoon start and general chaos of a big-city race, I would recommend it for the experience. Running on the Strip after dark is just an insane experience and one you can’t replicate anywhere else. If RnR Las Vegas is on your bucket list, there are some specials this week that make CG races (a little) more affordable; at $99, this race can form the beginning of a great reason to go to Vegas in November.

Who else raced this weekend? Anyone running Philly this coming weekend? Have you run a RockNRoll race before? Experience?

How Do I Get Ready for Speedwork Again?

A fellow runner is coming back from injury and asked for some input on how to get back into workouts after a bit of a layoff. It’s a great question and one that I face as an athlete at the end of the off-season and as a coach when we transition from summer mileage to in-season workouts. I don’t know how others feel, but there is little more daunting about those first workouts back. Despite the fact that an underwhelming workout doesn’t mean anything, there can be SO MUCH PRESSURE. These two workouts are designed to take the pressure off. One has no prescribed recovery time; you go when you’re ready to go. The other is just time based; when time is up, you’re done running hard and jogging back down the hill.

Caveat: If you are coming off of a long layoff, your first step should be to add striders back in to the end of your run. Aim for 4 to 6 at 90% pace and good form. Once you’ve done those for a week or two, you’re ready for the next step back towards the following workouts.

3,2,1 Rust Buster

Packard Repeats: This is named after the workout we do on the First Day of School every fall on a hill near the high school. Find a hill that is about a quarter mile long and after a warmup, alternate between 30 seconds, 60 seconds and 90 seconds hard up with a jogging return. Aim to do three sets (9 minutes of hard work). The benefits of this workout? Because you’re running uphill, it encourages good leg turnover and begins to strengthen your quads, two key elements for successful speedwork.

What workouts do you use to get back into the swing of things? Do you do strides regularly? (Hint, you should!)

P.S. Welcome back Fox!

Week in Review: 11.3.14 to 11.9.14

Finally feeling a little more like a real runner again including 2 runs where I felt borderline good!

Monday: Warmup, 6 minutes at MP then 4 by 800 at T pace and cool down. Quad finally calming down. 7.5 miles.

Tuesday: Clunky 7.4 mile recovery run.

Wednesday: Warmup, 3 by T pace on the track (6:07 pace) then a mile of 200 ins/outs plus cooldown. Then jetted out to MMU to coach and get another 4 in. 12.5 miles total.

Thursday: 7 mile recovery run in the sleety/windy/rain.

Friday: 7 mile run. Legs feeling pretty good!

Saturday: Warmup, then paced Flan to her first sub 21! Cooled down for a total of 7.7.

All smiles post race.

All smiles post race.

Sunday: Lovely long run on the Bike Path for World Run Day with the Olde Bones girls. 12.7 miles.

Total Miles: 62

Happy to have gotten a little more work in this week. It wasn’t as structured as I would like but glad to vary my pace a little and to see my regular run pace dropping back down. I’ll get a couple of early workouts in this week then taper for Vegas!

Changing Gears

One of the hardest things post-marathon is finding your speed again. The marathon, when well executed, is a very long run at a sort of hard pace. Workouts are usually tempo runs or marathon pace chunks of long runs and true speed work is saved for the very end and serves more to sharpen up the legs than confer any actual speed. Coming off of Mohawk Hudson, I am very fit. And very slow.

If I was just going into the winter season, this wouldn’t be a problem and I’d have time to remind my legs that I don’t always have to run 6:40 pace. However, I’m headed to Las Vegas next weekend to attempt to race a half marathon, so 6:40 won’t do. In the past two weeks since I’ve really been training again, I’ve had a lot of frustrating runs where despite my best “fast” efforts, I’m settling right into 6:30 to 6:40 pace.

I finally turned a (tiny little) corner this week. On Wednesday, I hit the track for 3 by mile at T pace and happily settled at 6:04 pace, followed by a mile of 200 ins and outs at 5:15 pace. Today I paced an athlete to her first sub 21 5K (Go Flan!!!!!) which was 6:40 pace (again), but did manage to kick at the end and shake out some more junk. I was also happy to find that 6:40 pace felt like jogging and that the 3 miles flew by. Good sign for next weekend.

In terms of next weekend, my “absolute best day ever, jump around at the finish” goal would be to break 1:20 (6:08 pace). My more realistic but still challenging goal will be to PR (under 1:21:45 so 6:14 pace). My non-time based goal is to execute a smart race; controlled through 6, cruise to the turnaround a little after 9 then send it once we’re back on the Strip heading home.

Anyone else struggle to convince their legs to turnover after the marathon? What are your tricks for reminding your legs that they can fly?

Recently Read: A New Beer Mile Record, Winter Reflective Gear and Lots of Science

Now that I’ve survived our “hardest” classes in medical school, I’ve had a lot more time to sift through articles that I bookmarked over the past few months. To add to your Friday morning distraction, here’s what I’ve stumbled across recently in the world of running.

A new women’s beer mile record! Although it sounds like her beer times need a little work, this is an impressive improvement on the standing record. Hard to say if it will stand long, however, with the Championships coming up on December 3rd.

Although I don’t agree with headphones for any outdoor runner, regardless of safety features, this article is a good reminder that it’s the season for running in the dark. I swear by my Nathan reflective vest and recently added a pair of Nathan gloves to my collection (product review forthcoming).

Every 20 minutes in a marathon would ruin my stomach but in my most recent marathon, I took a Gu at mile 6, mile 12 and mile 18, which is far more than I’d taken in previous attempts at 26.2 and had zero issues with nutrition. This article looks at what goes into a successful fueling attempt and concludes (in a sort of no shit way) that a plan is way better than just winging it. Although this seems self evident, a plan can also help when you start to experience the inevitable full or sick of Gatorade feeling at the end of the race.

A heartstring read for sure. I still remember the Trials where Ryan Shay went down and the absolute panic afterward as everyone tried to get information on what happened. Sudden cardiac death in athletes remains a research interest of mine and reading about Stephan Shay’s run on Sunday is just plain gut wrenching.

On the line of sudden cardiac death in athletes, there’s new evidence to suggest that deaths during the swim leg may be due to swimming induced pulmonary edema. In short, pulmonary edema is the accumulation of fluid in the lung space that shouldn’t be there. Fluid in a space that should be air filled interrupts gas exchange and can be life threatening in situations where ventilation cannot be restored.

Most of us spend our lives sitting way more than we want to and this sequence of stretches and movements can help with that. I’m embarrassed to admit that I cannot do the Grok squat. At all. I am religious about clamshells and glute bridges, however and can testify that they help injury proof one’s hips.

Finally, on the sad/frustrating/WTF news of Rita Jeptoo’s positive A sample, a timely explanation from Runner’s World about how EPO works in the first place. I found the fact that EPO alone has significant effects; generally I think of performance enhancing drugs as still requiring training and although that is still likely true, this indicates that EPO may have a significant impact independent of training load.

What have you been reading recently?

Good Eats: 11C Chicken

(An original recipe! Can you tell I’m not running 80 miles a week right now?)

This chicken is named for the large number of “c” items it contains, for the crockpot it cooks in and because it’s cheap!

20 minutes of prep, 5 to 6 hours of cooking = dinner and freezable leftovers!

20 minutes of prep, 5 to 6 hours of cooking = dinner and freezable leftovers!


2 pounds boneless chicken thighs

3 white potatoes

3 sweet potatoes

Can of Chickpeas

Can of Coconut Milk

4 large carrots

1 yellow onion

1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro




Cracked Black Pepper

Sea Salt

Chop everything into cubes, throw into the crock pot and season with the spices. If you are gone all day, 8 hours on low will do. If you put this together at noon, 5 hours on high works too. When it’s gone, give a good stir and serve as is or with a dollop of sour cream or plain greek yogurt on top.

Gluten Free, Dairy Free (without garnish), Egg Free.

My Kind of Sister Hero

There’s been a lot of talk of sister heroes recently, attributable in large part to Oiselle which uses the term frequently in print, on product and in interviews. Among the most commonly talked about “sister heroes” are Oiselle runners Kara Goucher, Lauren Fleshman and now Steph Bruce. All of these women have had exceptional running careers. All are also mothers, which lends to much of their mass appeal. And while all are interesting to me in their own right, they aren’t really my sister heroes.

Much of this comes out of watching the New York City Marathon on Sunday where yet again, the announcers totally missed the mark. Speaking off scripts and clearly undereducated about the sport (a shame, since a few of the announcers REALLY should have known better), the conversation focused on how tough a day Kara had or how disappointed Deena must be while entirely overlooking the two Americans who really showed their stuff: Desi Linden and Annie Bersagal. One announcer even went so far as to say that Bersagel “didn’t have her best day” despite her being 2nd American and battling horrendous winds for 26 miles. They didn’t bother to mention that Bersagal is unsponsored and legitimately works a full time job as a lawyer. They didn’t bother to mention how brilliantly Desi ran, tucked in the lead group and just quietly working away.

Bersagal and Lanni Marchant, another attorney-pro runner are my kind of heroes. It’s often frustrating for me to look at my training opportunities and race performances and wonder if it would be different if my life wasn’t centered on surviving medical school. Women like Bersagal and Marchant give me hope that it is possible to work full time and be successful at running as well. Yes, there are many concurrent sacrifices (such as zero social life) but one doesn’t have to live at altitude and live the pro lifestyle to be a top runner.

Who are your running heroes? Anyone else watch NYC this weekend?

Week in Review: 10.27.14 to 11.2.14

Monday: 6 miles easy.

Tuesday: Workout! 2 by 6 minutes at T pace, 3 by 3 minutes at I pace and a mile of 200 ins/out plus a leg lift at the gym.

Wednesday: Prorated off day, 7 miles. Ridiculously sore.

Thursday: 4.5 mile stagger through Burlington.

Friday: 9.5 mile run with Annie. Much colder than I anticipated!

Saturday: 7 mile run with Will in the sleety-cold.

Sunday: 11 mile run with 15 at T pace in the wind.

Total: 47 miles.

October Total: 146 miles.

Post-marathon progress is slow! I’m working to balance needing to get quality work in for Vegas (and for whatever I do in the winter) and respecting my body’s continuing recovery. It’s not easy! I’m still fighting a cold (sure sign that my immune system is still down from the marathon) and dealt with serious soreness this week after lifting for the first time since taper started. I’m also dealing a bit with the “blahs.” Somehow picking running routes and getting out the door is really challenging for me recently. I’m luck to have running friends to rope into going with me but it’s still a struggle.

Anyone else struggling to get their mojo back post marathon?

Good Eats: A Southern Sunday

One of my favorite things in the world is to have a house full of people to feed. Second to that is to cook up a ton of Southern food and sit around with those people. Medical school makes it difficult to host a lot of dinner parties so when we have a free weekend, my first thought is making up for months of quick, boring dinners. Tonight’s menu is full of classic southern items and some reinvented dishes.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork: I follow this pretty much exactly but use Frank’s for my hot sauce. Mix the sugar and Frank’s together first then add to the water and vinegar mixture. If there’s extra liquid left, throw it in a bottle and save it for those who like a little more spice.

Creamy Style Coleslaw: This is a new recipe for me. I love vinegar based coleslaw but with East Carolina style pulled pork, double vinegar can get to be too much for most people. I use maple syrup as the sweetener instead of honey and add a dash of Frank’s.

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad: I’m so excited for this dish. Pulled pork, coleslaw and banana pudding are delicious but it’s always nice to have something a little healthier to add to your plate.

Banana Pudding: An absolute classic. I do make some small substitutions on this to make it slightly healthier, including 2% milk, 1/3 fat cream cheese and lite whipped topping.

What’s your favorite menu for a large group?

Week in Review 10.20.14 to 10.26.14

It’s rough trying to get back into the swing of things after a big race, even when you have another race just ahead. It’s even rougher when you get an atrocious cold the day you are ready to start doing workouts again. I spent Tuesday through Friday down for the count with a head cold which proceeded to a chest cold and racking cough over the weekend. I’m still running easy but wasn’t able to get a workout in last week unfortunately.

Monday: 2.5 Miles

Tuesday: 2.5 Miles and full body lift.

Wednesday: Warmup, 1.5 miles of 200 meter ins and outs, cooldown. Total of 6.3 miles. Felt pretty good to shake it out but quads are definitely still tender.

Thursday: 6.3 mile run.

Friday: 2 mile run.

Saturday: 4 miles at the State Meet.

Sunday: 12 mile long run. Feeling almost normal.

Total Miles: 35.5

Thanks to my high mileage earlier in the cycle, I don’t have to worry too much about endurance between now and Vegas (20 days!) Instead, I’ll be focusing on getting back into some tempo runs and getting my speed sharpened up.