Category Archives: fail

“Race” Report: Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans

tl; dr – I was so sick the day of the race that I jogged this for fun.

I’ll say something for the Competitor Group/Rock ‘n’ Roll races: they are a GREAT way to see some classic cities on foot and New Orleans was no exception. When I registered for New Orleans, it was part of a master plan. I knew the Southeastern Surgical Conference was in New Orleans over the same weekend and I submitted a paper I was pretty sure would get accepted. It was 6 months after Ollie’s birthday and I figured I’d be in shape enough to run a good tune-up race. The best-laid plans…

The conference part of the plan went exceedingly well and much to my surprise, my paper was accepted for a podium presentation (the first podium presentation of my fledgling surgical career!). I convinced my sister to join me for the weekend in New Orleans and run the race as well. And that’s where the plan fell apart.

The months leading into New Orleans were exceedingly busy at work and I was rotating at a regional campus with a 45-minute commute each way. With a new baby and the busy holiday season, I ran maybe 20 miles a week with minimal workouts and had to scale back my New Orleans goals to a supported long run. In a perfect world, I’d hoped to do a progression run.

And then I got the plague. New momming + virus season (pre-COVID, we think) + sleep deprivation = the worst upper respiratory infection I’ve ever had as an adult. It started on the Monday before I left for New Orleans and by the time I arrived on Friday night, I had a horrendous cough, completely stuffed nose, and no voice. It only got worse in New Orleans. Suzanne and I decided that if I could go for a test jog on Saturday and not have lung involvement, I’d jog on Sunday. In general, my rule is that I’ll run unless my asthma starts to flare up and I didn’t have any issues on the test run, so I went for it on Sunday.

And by went for it, I mean jogged the entire race. Thankfully, Suzanne also had a busy winter and just wanted to relax too so we had a lovely 8 mile run together before we split up for the last 5 miles. I did pick it up VERY mildly the last 5 miles, but primarily because I just wanted to race to be over. I snuck in under 2 hours at 1:57 and called it a good long run day.

On the one hand, it’s frustrating that I can’t seem to get a foothold on post-partum running. On the other, I’m proud that I a) scaled back appropriately for my fitness and health situation and b) still got a valuable effort in on a D- day. I’ll talk about this more in a separate post but my biggest post-partum running observation is that I’m much, much better about accepting what the day gives me and I suspect this will pay dividends when life settles out again.

Race Report: Swamp Rabbit Urban Ultra 25K

Let’s start with the punchline first…

And now tell the funny story…

I was initially planning to do a half marathon two weeks ago as a fitness test but ended up tweaking my hamstring and getting the Resident Plague and spending that Sunday in a feverish ball asleep for 36 hours. Because I live firmly in the Bible Belt, finding a Sunday race is tough and I work on Saturdays so finding a replacement race was difficult. Thankfully, I am now on a rotation with the world’s most understanding Attendings who are generally entertained by my running escapades and they were okay with me missing last Saturday so I registered for the Swamp Rabbit 25K. When I discussed this with Dave, we were both psyched for the distance because it provided an opportunity to really assess my current marathon fitness. Of note, I MAY have mislead Dave into believing this was a road race because I believed it was. See, the Swamp Rabbit is the 30+ mile greenway in Greenville so I assumed this race used the greenway. I was wrong.

I woke up bright and early on race morning and headed to Greenville. As has been our lot lately, the weather was a bit on the miserable side. Summer has come back with a vengeance and the humidity is oppressive. It was about 70 when I got to the race course with an equal dew point, leading to almost 100% humidity. Thankfully, it was overcast with occasional rain sprinkles. The course was a 10K out and back but the 25K started at the halfway point and since we had to be bussed out there, I didn’t bother warming up until we got out there. I did a short run (on the paved trail) and some drills and we were off at 9 am.

I immediately ended up at the front and although another woman went with me for about a half mile, I spent the remainder of the race alone except for passing 50K runners or seeing other 25K runners on the out and back. The first mile was on pavement and I just tried to settle into a relaxed pace that approximated marathon effort. I came through in 6:58 and thought “perfect!.” And then we took a sharp right turn onto a goat path. Turns out that although the course was BASED on the Swamp Rabbit Trail, it actually included many segments on single track, boardwalks and sand. Whooops. As I sputtered internally, I focused on staying efficient and keeping my effort up while I explored the first 5K back to the Finish Area. We climbed a big grass hill with multiple switch backs, then barreled down the back side on a root filled descent. The remainder of the “back” contained boardwalks, trail, stairs and some pavement and a final grass hill up to the Finish/turnaround. I rolled through and headed onto the “out” section.

The first part of the out actually stays on the Swamp Rabbit Trail, so I tried to use this time to pick up my leg speed and bring my pace down again. We then climbed a long hill followed by a long descent and turned onto the same switchback that we had careened down on the way back. That climb was TOUGH. Roots and switchbacks made keeping momentum tough and although the first time over it wasn’t too bad, the second time was misery. Then it was down the grass hill and back on the Swamp Rabbit to the 10K/where we started.

I took my first gel at the 10K and this was where I realized how hot I was. Since my goals of using this a marathon simulation were a bit shot and I was comfortably in first, I actually stopped and took my gel rather than choking on it. Then I set off again for the return trip. On the pavement, I was happy to see my pace right around 6:50. On the trails, all bets were off. I will admit that as I wound my way through the last trail before the Finish Area, I was internally whining about having to do ANOTHER 10K on the trails. I came through the Finish/15K and stopped again for a sip of water and THE BEST SIP OF COCA COLA EVER. I see why real ultra runners swear by it…By now, I had soaked through my singlet and shorts and was just in survival mode.

The last 10K included a few moments of happiness but mostly a slog where I bribed myself multiple times with the idea of a) laying down and b) finishing the Coke I’d left at the finish. During this last 10K, the sun came out and the conditions went from overcast and humid to just plain brutal. Crossing one of the swamps on a boardwalk, I am pretty sure turtles were moving faster than me. Somehow I persevered and the next thing I knew, I was crossing the last bridge and running up the grass slope to the finish. I crossed in 1:57 and happily found my Coke. I didn’t lay down because I was SO soaked that I never would have gotten the grass off of me.

All in all, I’m very happy with this race even if it wasn’t quite the simulation run that I’d hoped for. My pace averaged out to 7:30 pace on super challenging terrain which makes me feel more confident about what I can do on the road in a month. I’m also happy with my mental game. I could have completely shut down upon finding out the course was a trail race but instead, I worked hard on the paved sections as I could and tried to be efficient on the trail sections without injuring myself or letting my heart rate drop too far. I also had a great time getting to know more of the local Ultra community. Maybe it’s the South but the two ultra “crowd” experiences I’ve had since moving here have been just overwhelmingly welcoming and positive.

Splits below, although not that useful as my Garmin is atrocious on trails/under tree cover. I saw everything from 5:50 to 12:00 minute pace during the race and although I believe the latter, I’m skeptical about the former…

















Weeks in Review: 4.10.17 to 4.23.17

When time is short, write up two weeks of training at once!

4/10/17 to 4/16/17

Monday: 5 mile recovery run. Feeling Unplugged now!

Tuesday: 7 mile run at the crack of dawn.

Wednesday: Planned off day.*

Thursday: Fartlek workout, 5 miles.

Friday: 2.5 mile early morning run.

Saturday: 12 mile long run.

Sunday: 4 mile trail run, most of which was spent sideways in mud.**

Total Miles: 35.5

4/17/17 to 4/23/17

Monday: 4.5 mile run plus striders.

Tuesday: 7.5 mile fartlek. 2 by mile uphill at t pace. 5 by 45 seconds hard uphill.

Wednesday: 2.5 mile early am run.

Thursday: Planned off day. Arm routine. 

Friday: 2.25 shake out run with 4 by minute at tempo pace, 2 by 30 seconds at interval pace.

Saturday: Off. Ankle. ***

Sunday: Off. Ankle.***

Total Miles 20.5

1 decent week, 1 not so decent week. I have 1 (how?!!?!??!) week of medical school left now and am so excited for a few weeks where all I have to do is pack, move and train.

* As I mentioned on my Instagram earlier this week, I have decided to schedule an off day every week. My recovery has been really poor over the past year and as much as I want to pretend my life is set up for optimal training, it’s not and I have to do what I can to maximize my training impact. As such, I’ll be taking a day off each week instead of a day every other week.

** This run was absurdly muddy and my ankles were sore after which I think set me up for an ankle twist later in the week.

*** I wear clogs in the SICU and usually, they + compression socks are the most comfortable thing going. On Friday, however, I was a little overzealous when wandering around in them and tweaked my ankle. It didn’t swell too badly but was sore bearing weight on Friday night so I decided to forego the Rollin Irish Half Marathon and rest instead.

The weather is beautiful, I’m ready to train again and I’m so looking forward to getting back in a groove and looking forward to the Asheville Half!

Week in Review 11.28.16 to 12.4.16

Monday afternoon: 6 mile easy run plus 100 pushups/200 crunches.

Monday evening: Hour spin class with Erin.

Tuesday: Unexpected cross training day. 10 minutes on bike, 10 minutes on elliptical, 10 minutes rowing. Core cross train.

Wednesday: 45 minute bike.

Thursday: 10 mile long run in Kalamazoo.

Friday: 5.5 mile run post-interview. Arm lift.

Saturday: 7.3 mile run.

Sunday: 5.5 mile run with a mile of 100 on, 100 off.

Total Miles 34.3

This week could be better described as ‘doh!’ Just when I was starting to get some momentum and literally within 5 minutes of looking at spring half marathons, I kicked my metal bedframe while putting laundry away and gave myself a huge, swollen foot that couldn’t bear weight. I cross trained for two days then when I was ready to run again on Thursday in Michigan, realized that I’d left my inhaler in Vermont which resigned me to easy, slow running so as to not have a medical emergency some 600 miles from home.

The upside is that I did get some lovely running in while in Michigan and am starting to look forward to some spring events and more importantly, to Trials 2020. The standards were released today. The full marathon window opens September 1st, 2017 and the standard is 2:45, which was the revised standard you may remember me griping about last fall. The half marathon window opens a year later and was dropped to 1:13. In otherwise, big nope on aiming for that standard. That means I need to start working towards the 2:45 (6:17 pace) and come up with a plan that accommodates a potential move across the country AND intern year.

Week in Review 2.15.16 to 2.21.16

Yikes, a couple days late on this.

Monday: 6 mile run on the treadmill, full body lift after.

Tuesday: 7 mile progression run. Hip core after.

Wednesday: 4.5 mile hilly recovery run.

Thursday: Off day.

Friday: 10.4 mile long run with 4 by 30 seconds hard uphill in Farrell Park. Full legs after.

Saturday: 5 mile run. 300 abs after.

Sunday: Unplanned off day. Skiing and waxing at the Eastern Qualifier

Total Miles 32.9

Not the week I’d hoped for at all. I’m happy that I planned well enough to get my long run in on Friday but frustrated that I got thwarted on other days with such a good start to the week. I feel like I’m walking on a tightrope trying to balance reasonable mileage with enough sleep to be functional throughout the day. On Saturday, for example, we were supposed to be early call and should have been out by about noon. Instead, we were there until 5 and I had to get up early Sunday to head to Craftsbury to coach. Instead of pushing it and getting up to run before Craftsbury, I gave myself the extra 90 minutes of sleep so that I could safely drive 90 minutes each way and get through the day. Definitely the better choice for Sarah the coach but not the best outcome for Sarah the athlete.

This week has started off much the same, with a very long day yesterday and miserably long post-call day today. Trying to stay positive and tell myself that it’s just 3 more weeks until I get to go to California and get some focused training in.

Things People Yell

Level Runner** recently ran a piece on the top 7 things people yell at runners in homage to David Letterman. Many of their top ten resonated with me, especially #3 and #6

I hate being yelled at when I’m running, mostly because it always scares the living shit out of me. I’m usually plodding along, minding my own business and having an internal conversation about why I continue to run when “YEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHSSSSSHHHH” gets screamed at me from a car full of (usually) 20ish dudes. In Lewiston, one car was so gracious as to even try to touch me while I was running. Had they been successful, I might still be in the local jail for assaulting a driver…

The most ridiculous thing that comes to mind, however, came on a shitty winter day a few years back. Erin and I were slogging through a long run with slush up to our shins when a young guy drove by, rolled down his window and yelled “I hate you so much!” Okay then.

What has been yelled at you lately?

**Also, if you’re not reading Level Runner or following them on social media, you’re missing out. They are doing an incredible job of covering what is going on in New England and with New England athletes all over the country.

Effective Coaching Praise

I recently had the pleasure of attending a Grand Rounds on praise. While the Rounds were intended for physician education on anticipatory guidance for families, there were some interesting themes that I scribbled down to remember when I wear my coach hat.

Essentially, there are two ways to praise someone: person praise or process praise. An example of the former would be “You are so talented at the 5k!” The latter would be “You worked so hard at that race today.” Both can make an athlete feel good, but the latter has been shown to cause positive adaptations while the former can actually lead to negative outcomes. Research has demonstrated that a person who is accustomed to person praise struggles to persist after failure because they’ve previously attributed (and been told) that their success is ingrained and determined by talent. Someone who has experienced process praise will actually try harder after experiencing failure because they see performance as determined by effort.

Even more incredible are the long term adaptations. A person who gets significant person praise will not only struggle after failure, but they will choose only to do easy tasks to essentially guarantee success. A person with significant process praise will take on even harder tasks after failure, focused on the end goal rather than repetitive but stagnant success. Who reading this hasn’t shirked from a hard workout in favor of one they KNEW they could do?!

I see this every year on my team: extremely talented runners are beaten handily by runners with less talent who work hard. Of course, a little positive self esteem or belief in one’s ability isn’t a bad thing, but it’s the athletes who connect the dots of hard work and great performances that really learn to compete. Running is a relatively easy place to incorporate process praise; most of our season is a process anyway and a bad individual race is truly just a step on the way towards the State Meet.

Perhaps Coolidge knew this long before the body of research caught up when he stated that nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.

Week in Review 2.9.15 to 2.15.15

Warning! Gross picture below for the particularly squeamish.

Highs of this week? Got two surprisingly good workouts in and a lot of solid skiing. Lows? Fricken freezing here (wayyyy below zero twice) and an allergic reaction that derailed an otherwise decent week.

Monday midday: Warmed up to the gym in another storm then did 25 minutes at T pace on the treadmill that just felt effortless. 8 miles total.

Monday afternoon: Hour of skate skiing with the team in epic conditions.

Tuesday: 4.5 mile recovery run nice and easy. Skied a little with the kids (maybe 3K) before coaching.

Wednesday midday: Another surprisingly good workout. Took advantage of sunshine and decent temps to head down to my waterfront “track” for 8 by 400 at I pace. Footing wasn’t perfect but I made do. 8 miles total. Felt really, really good. Encouraging.

Wednesday afternoon: 45 minutes of skate skiing. Conditions changed; lots of balance work!

Thursday: 6.4 mile recovery run at Mom and Dad’s over my old hills. Roads a mess but beautiful, sunny day.

Friday: Fricken frigid. -18 when I woke up, -8 when I skied. Did an hour on the VAST trail on waxless.

Saturday: Woke up with an allergic reaction, slammed some Benedryl and carried on. Previewed the race course with the team (5K) then swapped skate skis for backcountry and skied around to coach (and try to stay warm).

Sunday: Woke up looking like this:

I didn't need to see today, right?

In case you thought I was a sugarcoating blogger, I present my face this morning.

Spent 4 hours at Urgent Care and decided a 90 minute steady state run wasn’t a great idea. It never got above zero here today and wind chills were -35. Got some Prednisone and feeling much better, so I’ll aim to get that run in first thing tomorrow.

Total Miles: 27

Total Skiing: 4+ hours

Lots of mini-weight workouts on study breaks.

Although I’m frustrated with how the week ended up, I am encouraged that despite low miles and a schedule that stinks right now, I’m hanging onto my fitness. 2 more weeks of insanity then I can get back to normal running life! Maybe by then it will come above zero. What a winter! I was on the fence about Amherst but since I missed this weekend of running (and studying), I can’t afford a full day of travel next weekend. I’ve also missed long runs the last few weeks and feel like a 10 mile hard effort here is just as valuable as one in Amherst. Bummed to miss out but ultimately think it’s the right way to go. There are always more races…

This past week also marked a year to go until the Trials. Yikes! Once I get through the Boards, my big focus will be figuring out how to approach going after that standard. The big questions to answer are:

  • When to go for it (Considerations: summer weather, clinical schedule, backup plan if something goes wrong)
  • Where to go for it (Big competitive field? Low key race?)
  • Half Marathon or Full (Half is a lot faster (1:15 versus 2:43) but everything doesn’t have to go perfectly for a half marathon to go well and if it doesn’t go well, recovery and trying again is a little more feasible than after 26.2)

For the week ahead, I’ll aim for three workouts again and whatever other running and skiing falls in there:

  • 90 minute run with 45 minutes at steady state pace (10 to 15 seconds slower than tempo)
  • 5 by 5 minutes at tempo pace
  • Structured Fartlek



Turns Out, I’m Not Supergirl

Most of the time, my schedule seems totally doable and I go through my day feeling like even though people stare at me like I’m crazy for trying to coach, train and survive medical school, I generally have my shit together. My house is usually (mostly) clean, I get where I need to be on time, my team runs well, my workouts go well and they keep letting me come back to school. This week was an exception. We hosted two home meets (Tuesday and Friday), I had clinic on Wednesday and an exam on cardiology on Friday. In the midst of this, I missed my first run of the cycle on Wednesday. There were just not enough hours to see patients, study for the exam and get a run in. I beat myself up for a decent number of hours but then had to ask myself the question: What are you? What is your priority? I am a runner and I love running, but the world doesn’t end if I miss a run or don’t run well in Albany. The world gets a lot more expensive and closer to ending if I fail an exam.

I won’t hit my miles this week but thankfully, I did pass my exam yesterday and we didn’t lose anyone on our home course yesterday (which is a feat on that course). I’m going to work on accepting the fact that I’m not made of steel over the weekend…

LT and I a couple of Halloweens ago, just before Philly.

LT and I a couple of Halloweens ago, just before Philly.

Day 3: Memphis to Amarillo

750 miles
Tennessee to Arkansas to Oklahoma to Texas.
2 Sonic stops.
First phone call to Dad.

Long haul yesterday all on I-40! We had another beautiful travel day and minimal mishaps. It was officially Dillo Day; we saw 29 dead dillos on the side of 40. We’re also down to 4 states left on the license plate game. We also saw some (captive) buffalo and the hometown of Carrie Underwood.

I had high hopes for my recovery run in Amarillo as the Rock Creek bike path ran right behind our hotel. I failed to think about how far west we were, however, and woke to a completely dark city at 5:30. I have a rest day this week so I lifted instead. I knew I’d need some mental flexibility on this trip and am just grateful to have gotten any activity in.



Then there was that first call to Dad. Suzanne and I are lucky to have a Dad who has done everything for us our entire lives but it leaves us utterly unprepared for anything car related. This morning, Suzanne learned that the dipstick hole isn’t the same place that motor oil goes, which induced a call to Dad. He was impressed any oil went IN the dipstick hole then told us to just drive. We only smoked for a few minutes…

On our way out of Amarillo, we stopped at Cadillac Ranch. If you ever find yourself on 40, it’s highly recommended. The story goes that a local man bought a new Cadillac that turned out to be a lemon. When the dealership wouldn’t take it back, he buried it along the highway in protest. There are now 10 buried Cadillacs and people bring spray paint to decorate the cars. True living art!





Onward to Scottsdale!