Category Archives: Marathon

Weeks in Review: 7.18.16 to 7.31.16

Wait, it’s AUGUST tomorrow?!?! Slow down summer.

From my run today. It's not pretty here at all.

From my run today. It’s not pretty here at all.

7.18.16 to 7.24.16

Monday: Drove from Lexington to Charlotte then hung out in the Charlotte airport for a ridiculous amount of time. American Airlines, we are not friends.

Tuesday: Easy 3 with Will around the new XC course.

Wednesday: 6 miles with the team (hearttttttts, I missed them). Striders and hip core.

Thursday: 17 mile bike ride with Will. Every time I think I like biking, I actually do it and my butt hurts for a week…

Friday: 4.5 mile run around campus.

Saturday: Cougar Chase but no running.

Sunday: 3 miles with the dogs. Reminded myself why I never run with them. Flew back to Charlotte and drove to Asheville.

Total MIles: 16.5 

7.25.16 to 7.31.16

Every entry from this week is an iteration of “holy sh*t, humidity, hills and altitude are tough!”

Monday: 5.25 miles

Tuesday: 6.5 miles

Wednesday: 5 miles on the Mountains to Sea Trail.

Thursday: Slept in and found out why I have to run in the morning; 95 and humid when I got out from work.

Friday: 7 mile fartlek with some speedy hills on one of the many hills in town.

Saturday: 9 miles post Step 2. There is no flat here…

Sunday: 6 miles on the Mountains to Sea Trail straight up; climbed almost 2000 feet in 25 minutes.

Total Miles: 38.8 miles

This week feels like a huge accomplishment. I made it to Asheville, survived a week in the Neuro/Trauma ICU and took Step 2 (our second set of Boards). On that last item, it wasn’t my best effort with trying to cram studying in between work and training, but I’m hoping it will turn out okay.

Running here is TOUGH. It’s humid in the mornings (usually 88 to 90%) and there isn’t a single flat place in all of Asheville. The Mountains to Sea trail is pretty amazing, however, so I’ll take the elevation change for the opportunity to run on a trail like that. I seem to have adjusted to the altitude now (I had a horrendous headache on Wednesday) so I’ll be heading up higher for next weekend’s long run. I’m still stinging a little from Chicago and trying to figure out what the fall looks like but operating under the assumption that it will include a marathon so I’m stretching out my long runs little by little.

Welcome to Skechers

For someone who generally has plenty to say, it’s hard to put into words what today’s post means to me. For anyone who has run competitively, sponsorships are an incredible gift and shoe sponsorships are the holy grail. Yes, shoes serve a practical purpose since most of us go through shoes at an alarming rate but beyond the practical, a shoe sponsor is validation, hope and motivation all wrapped up into one incredible document.

I met Dave at the Craft Brew Race last June, where he got a pair of GoRuns into my hands. I subsequently fell in love with the shoe and started trying to get SkiRack and Fleet Feet to carry them locally. When the opportunity to apply for the 2016 Team came around, I jumped. Dave and I were able to chat leading up to Philly and I had high hopes that I could demonstrate to Skechers just how great an investment I would be. I won’t lie that part of my post-race disappointment came from feeling like I’d blown my chance with Skechers. Imagine my relief when within minutes of my race, a text came back from Dave that said “It’s just one race, we all have bad ones.” That’s a company that gets runners…

All of this to say is that for 2016, I am beyond ecstatic to announce that I’ll be racing for Skechers Performance along with some other awesome Northeast runners.

As you’ll start to see on my sponsors page and with product reviews for Skechers shoes and apparel, with great opportunity comes great responsibility. I’ve always aimed to be transparent when I am given gear to test and this will be no exception. Yes, Skechers will be providing me with free and discounted gear but they are extremely clear in their social media policy that we are not only encouraged but expected to be honest, good, bad or neutral. 

I’m so excited to reveal this next chapter in my life to all of you and to join with Skechers Performance as I strive for the next level in my running.

Have a fast day.

 

Recently Read: The Trials, The Trials and Thoughts from the Interwebs

The Trials are tomorrow and on everyone’s minds. In fact, I opted to work long call Sunday instead of mid call tomorrow so that I can give the Trials my full attention!

I loved this perspective from Mike Cassidy, who missed the Trials this time around. It’s so hard to see everyone arriving in LA and feel left out but it’s amazing to even FEEL left out, like it was within reach at all.

I also loved these stories from four women who aren’t competing for Olympic spots but are high level runners with real jobs. Full time professional runners are amazing but I’m more inspired by women who have real jobs too, as their experiences and training are a lot more similar to mine.

Rocking a singlet with Vermont on my right chest would be awesome! Patrick Rizzo’s suggestions for making the Olympic Trials Marathon more accessible and interesting to the general public are spot on. I’m skeptical that USATF will take note, but here’s hoping.

Skechers is sponsoring the LA Marathon this weekend, with something like 16 athletes running for them including Meb and Kara. Of note, they also signed a contract with Meb until 2023, long after his big racing days will be over (although with Meb, never say never). I love that they are sending a message that an athlete’s value is more than just their race performances.

I love the internet and I LOVE social media but I also see the dangers inherent in broadcasting only parts of your life and your day. No one is glamorous all of the time. I still haven’t mastered the selfie but rest assured, if I took one when I start my run at 3:30, it would be terrifying. As such, I like the point this woman was making with her recent Instagram post (although a little bit of irony given why she started her account in the first place…)

Finally, this article cracked me up because I am QUEEN of multitasking on the treadmill. I mastered the art of reading on the treadmill in college (Pro Tip: If you have a fat book or text book, a big binder clip does wonders to hold your pages open). This morning, I watched a board review video for my 6 mile run. I do understand where she’s coming from, however, as I feel that way about outside runs.

Olympic Trials Preview 2016

I’m not going to lie, it’s a bit bittersweet for Olympic Trials Week to arrive. During my training cycle this fall, I spent a lot of time daydreaming about what it would be like to toe the line in LA, how it would feel to don an Olympic Marathon Trials bib. When that didn’t become a reality AND I had a bad race in Philly, it was hard to not just throw my running shoes away entirely. I’m past that and inspired to be back to training but it still stings to not have made it to this coming weekend.

I’m still excited to watch the race next Saturday to see who will be our “three” in Rio. My prediction is that Desi will win, with Shalane and Amy Hastings Cragg hanging on for 2/3. There are a few dark horses in the field who might challenge early but ultimately, I think experience will win out. On the men’s side, I’m a lot less educated but expect it will include Rupp and Meb plus a dark horse. I wish I thought Ritz would get it together but he just hasn’t demonstrated the durability for the marathon.

Runner’s World did a cool infographic on the qualifiers. Looks like I have the right name but should have gone for the marathon standard instead of the half (which I already knew and considered…). New goal: get Vermont on the map the next time around!

Who do you think will make up the US Marathon team?

Paddle Your Own Canoe

paddlecanoe

There are plenty of things about being a third year medical student that are hard. You’re never entirely sure of your responsibilities, you’re almost always in the way and most of the time, you get your feet on the ground just to switch services again. It is the definition of in flux. Despite this, third year is also the time when you are supposed to pick your specialty. Picking your specialty is somewhat like picking a spouse. In fact for some people, their specialty will last longer than their spouse.

For whatever it says about me, classmates who don’t know me particularly well always assumed I would do Surgery. I wasn’t so convinced; after all, it’s a notoriously difficult residency and lifestyle and I like my dogs, my husband and my running. I loved my OBGyn clerkship and was fairly convinced that was the way to go for me. Until General Surgery. I absolutely fell head over heels in love with Surgery, not unlike falling in love with your spouse. As Abbey once said, when you know you know. As soon as I admitted it to Will and to my closest friends (and switched my Advisor and my entire 4th year schedule…), I just felt at peace. I was excited again about the next phase, invigorated by the challenge of tinkering with the human body.

As word spread, however, that I ditched OB to General Surgery (we get a little cliquey about such things), I started to get reactions from friends that included, “Well, do anesthesia before you really commit” and “Are you sure? Don’t you want kids?” As sure and as happy as I was (and am), doubt started to creep in.

While I was walking the dogs late this afternoon, I realized that choosing General Surgery as a 30 something female is par for the course for me. I’ve never been one for the easy path. I’ve never been one who avoids an experience because it might be arduous or difficult. People ask me the same thing about marathons/my running life: “Aren’t they hard?” or “I could NEVER run that many miles.” Ultimately what works for me (and ignites the spark in me) doesn’t have to work for everyone else. I love running and I embrace the challenges and disappointments that come with it. Some days it’s easy and I don’t have to think before heading out the door and some days it takes sheer force of will to get out there. But it’s always worth it. I am approaching General Surgery in the same way. I know it is an exhausting road, but I can tolerate exhaustion if it’s something I’m passionate about. That is a lesson gleaned from life as a long distance runner…

Paddle your own canoe. 

 

Millinocket Half and Full Marathon 2016

Maine has always held a special place in my heart. Although my dad was born and raised outside of Boston, his parents moved up to Belfast, Maine with his youngest sisters and that’s where we went for holidays and summer vacation. My aunt Stacey is one of Dad’s younger sisters (he has 6 of them!) and has always been a runner. She came down to cheer for my first marathon, held me in an ice bath after and continues to encourage my running in a zillion ways. She now lives in Lincoln, Maine on a beautiful pond where she continues to kayak, run and live the “Maine way.”

Millinocket is right next to Lincoln and as this article points out, has been hard hit by the closure of Great Northern. One of my uncles worked for the paper mills in Maine, another worked for Bath Iron Works and one of my cousins worked for the Verso mill in Bucksport, so the idea of using a race to stimulate the economy strikes a chord with me as I’ve heard my family talk about the very real impact of mill closures on their lives. I’m excited to see that it’s already full but also hoping more spots open up so that Suzanne, Stacey and I can run it in December.

What do you think about this idea? Have you done this kind of event before? Anyone sign up for this one before it filled?

Insanity

There’s a quote that states that insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result. A similar sentiment is captured by if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. I got to thinking about these two quotes when I was running around the track on Tuesday, dreading my next 200 meter repeat. I’ve been training for marathons so long that speed is almost theoretical at this point. I am still adjusting to running fast enough that I have to bend over at the finish to catch my breath.

This Spring has been/will be a marked deviation from my normal training. I’m happy with my progress in the marathon thus far, but also frustrated. I’m an endurance monster, I always have been. But it’s taken me 6 years to go from 3:17 to 2:54 and I recently had to admit that much of that is attributable to the fact that I haven’t developed my speed. With two surgeries and an almost annual marathon on the schedule, I’ve gotten really good at running moderately fast for long periods of time. The fact remains, however, that my 5K and 10K PR are way slower than my marathons would predict. It’s not I’m not capable of running fast; I can dummy Will in a 200. I just haven’t used those systems in a very long time.

In the past few weeks, my workouts have been a total deviation from normal. Instead of 2 hours at marathon pace or tempo miles, I’ve had workouts like 5 by 300 meters or 2 by 200, 200, 400. When I get my workout assignments, my reaction is almost always WHOA, that will be easy. Halfway through, however, my quads and lungs are burning and I temporarily miss tempo pace. All of my races for the first part of this season will be (relatively) short, with nothing over 15K on the schedule. The hope is that by working on my speed now, marathon pace will feel significantly easier (and get faster) come this fall.

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be racing a 4 miler. After that, it’s a collection of track and road 5Ks, a 10K and a 15K. And as much as these workouts hurt, I’m really enjoying the change of pace both literally and figuratively.

Have you done a training cycle that focuses on something completely different from your normal? What’s your reaction to short, fast stuff?

The Endurance Mindset

When Oprah was training for her marathon, she quipped that “running is the best metaphor for life; you get out of it what you put in.” There’s an enormous amount of truth to this. Sure, freak things may happen but for the most part, what you get on race day is a sum of quality miles trained plus the benefits of all the extras like strides, core, strength, stretching etc.

When I started to prepare for Step 1, I didn’t even know where to begin. I’ve taken big exams before; after all, I managed to get into medical school which required the MCAT. The MCAT, however, was a half day test and although it ostensibly determined my entrance to medical school, a poor performance didn’t mean I could never go to medical school (I could retake) and didn’t represent an investment of over $100,000. The USMLE Step 1 exam represents two years of classroom knowledge crammed into a day long test with a total break time of an hour. The only way you can retake is to fail but the space between barely passing and being competitive for a residency is enormous. The more I thought about it, the more Step 1 resembled a marathon. You study for about 12 weeks. You start by building a knowledge base and as you get stronger, you add workouts that are more and more specific to your task. Finally, you work on the endurance to sit and focus for 8 hours. Once I framed it that way, the test preparedness paralysis lifted. I wrote a schedule the exact way I write one in running, with dates down the y-axis and specific domains across the top x-axis. I built in recovery days. I even built in a taper so that I’m fresh and ready on test day (March 2nd), not crawling to the start line.

Throughout medical school, people have asked how I keep training at a (relatively) high level, almost always incredulous that I can find the time. Some of the answer is that running is a top priority for me and I make choices that support my running ahead of many other things. I don’t belong to any student interest groups; I choose to believe that a long coaching relationship with MMU demonstrates my interests just as well. I don’t do many social things; almost all of my friends are runners, so I make that my social time. However, making running a priority isn’t the only reason I’ve kept at it during medical school. Being a runner has given me an endurance mindset and gives me a set of tools to approach any enormous challenge that life can throw at me.

How do the things you’ve learned from running carry over in your life?

Wrapping Up 2014

I rang in 2014 on crutches and heavily sedated on painkillers. Looking back at where it started, I’m grateful that the year still held a marathon PR despite it’s immobile beginnings. I was lucky enough to coach another season of cross country and somehow finished my second year of medical school (courtesy of the funky UVM schedule). I fully intended to have at least part of 2015 planned out by today but studying for the Boards has taken up most of my time and I’m still waiting on some sponsorship information that will change my plans significantly. So into 2015 I go sans any kind of training plan, an anxiety inducing situation for me!

I wrapped up December with 156 miles. My 2014 total was 2259 miles which comes out to a weekly average of 43 miles (which includes the 6 weeks of 0 post surgery). Thus, one of my running related goals for 2015 is to up that weekly average to 50 miles, giving me a total goal of 2600 miles for 2015. Assuming two training cycles up in the 70 mpw range, this should be attainable without scrambling next December.

Another thing I did well at the beginning and end of the year but not so hot in the middle was weight training. I know strength work is key to injury prevention and maximum efficiency but I always cut that out first when my schedule gets crammed. Thus, for 2015, I want to make sure I am getting at least 1 arm and 1 leg workout in per week. Yes, more would be better but I’m trying to be realistic.

I generally have pretty good nutrition but there are definitely areas in which I can improve. First, we eat a little too much candy in this house which is not a calorie issue, but a “bang for buck” issue. We had a “Sundays only” rule for a while, so I may lobby that we go back to that. I’ve been working on taking my vitamins (multivitamin with iron, Vitamin D and biotin) every day and finally found that if I leave my pill container by my bed (I know this makes me 80+), I actually take them daily. We recently switched to a cast iron pan and continue to make sure we eat red meat twice a week to keep my iron stores nice and full.

Finally, I need to work on flexibility. I sit a lot for school and have tight fascia, both of which set me up for range of motion issues. I’ve been working on foam rolling consistently and will continue that in 2015 but am on the lookout for a simple yoga routine to do at home two days a week. In my optimal world, it would be about 20 minute long and focus on hips and lower back.

What are your goals for 2015? Anyone have a video or website that they love for yoga?

Lessons Learned: 2014 Cycle

Since I’m in my off season (to which my surgeon quipped so what, 60 miles a week?) and won’t gear up again until 2015, it’s time to look back on the cycle for 2014.

What I Learned

I can tolerate big mileage. I consistently ran 75 to 80 miles a week without injury and within 6 months of surgery without much more than occasional soreness. That being said, I was WIPED all the time and my workouts weren’t as solid throughout. Will and I assume that this is a direct result of never being fully recovered, courtesy of the mileage and of course, medical school.

Heartrate training works well for me, mentally and physically. I’ve had a heartrate monitor for a long time but hadn’t really used it much until this cycle when I started rocking it on every tempo run. It made an enormous difference for me mentally because “all” I had to do was get to 168 to 170 and stay there, whatever that pace was. I found it much easier to focus on the workout and not be stressing over pace and in turn, the paces were much closer to what tempo should be. It was the first time I really understood what tempo pace “felt” like.

I’m not done improving. In the back of my mind, I was worried that I had peaked with running and that working hard would bring no additional improvements. Although I wouldn’t call this a stellar racing year (I only ran 1 PR and had a collection of horrid races), I am thrilled with my marathon PR that came on mileage and just 10 months post-op. I’d love to see what happens when I have some speedwork on board and a totally solid ankle.

What I Need to Work On

Strength training. Right after surgery, I was in the gym almost every day and built a great base to come back to running on. As mileage got higher, however, and school got back into session, my gym time dwindled to almost zero. I’d do squats when I brushed my teeth and the occasional pushup, but I really wasn’t working on my strength and my quads paid for it during and after the marathon. I also need to improve my knee drive and I think strength is part of that.

Form. My form is okay and it’s holding up better in later miles but I still have a tendency to twist my upper body and shuffle my legs. If I’m going to click up another level, I need to get my arm swing working well and my knee drive far higher. Will recently built me a step up box for knee drive and I need to make a renewed commitment to practicing running arms daily.

Flexibility/Prehab. My back and hips hurt daily and if I want a successful open (and master’s) career, I have to get this in check before I’m crippled at 35. Some of this is that I currently sit a lot (which won’t improve over the next three months as I prep for Boards). Some of this is that I am not consistent about stretching and foam rolling. I’ve been working on making foam rolling my first activity of the day and am hopeful this will help.

I don’t have 2015 mapped out yet. I’m waiting on the final schedule from USATF NE to see what the Grand Prix schedule is and on a few other schedule related issues. I would prefer NOT to run a marathon in Spring 2015 (training in the winter sucks, I’m taking the boards in February and I am in Maine for my first rotation until May) but if VCM is the Grand Prix marathon, I am likely to join in. In my perfect world (ha!), I’d spend the first half of the year working on speed, getting a stint in at altitude and then target an early fall half for my OTQ. The marathon is more likely to get me in but almost everything has to go perfectly with a marathon that it can be hard to put all your eggs in one basket.

So my to-do list:

  • Build back up to 75 to 80 miles per week
  • Create and stick to a sustainable lifting regimen
  • Foam roll daily
  • Work on form, particularly arm swing and knee drive
  • Regain some speed and turnover
  • Use heart rate training for all workouts

What’s your 2014 analysis? To do list for 2015?