Category Archives: Olympic Trials

Weeks in Review 11.30.15 to 12.13.15

Holy sh*t the transition back to real life has been tough!

11/30/15 to 12/6/15

Monday: The beginning of heinously early running. 5.7 miles plus striders.

Tuesday: 6.3 miles.

Wednesday: 6.1 miles of muddy, messy running with the dogs. Collection of new strength exercises for 20 minutes after.

Thursday: Just strength in the basement.

Friday: 5.25 mile fartlek run with the dogs.

Saturday: 5 mile run.

Sunday: Exhausted and out of time before my last night on.

Total Miles: 28.4 

This week was about the most abrupt way to return to the wards: I was on nights, Will left for Connecticut and I started the surgery clerkship. Running is actually easier for me when I’m on nights because it’s still light out when I try to run but everything else about nights is generally chaos. The good news was that my legs really started to feel great in the middle of the week, even with standing in the OR for hours on end. I also got to try a lot of new strength routines, which was fun.

12/7/15 to 12/13/15

Monday: 7.5 mile “long” run post-call.

Tuesday: 4.3 mile run and striders.

Wednesday: Off. Totally wiped from flipping shifts.

Thursday: 5.9 mile run.

Friday: 5.7 mile run plus striders.

Saturday: 8 mile workout. 3 by 4 minutes at T pace, 4 by 200. Legs afterward. Definitely clunky but was moving really fast (for me).

Sunday: 8.5 mile “long” run with Erin.

Total Miles: 40

I flipped back to days this week which left me drooling-level tired by Wednesday night. Because of my schedule, I just got up early and got my run done. It’s miserable when the alarm goes off at 3:45 am but it’s so nice to have my run done and not be stressing about when I’m going to get out of the hospital on the other end of the day. I am just trying to keep it simple right now- 45 minutes as many days I can, an hour on days that I’m off with workouts that include tempo and R pace as possible. I was so excited about my workout this week; even though I haven’t done much lately, I averaged 7:08 for the whole run on Saturday, which means I was moving pretty well during the uptempo sections.

Despite feeling really proud that I got my runs in this week, I was pretty devastated (and angry) to hear the news that they changed the Olympic Trials standards yesterday. The half marathon standard didn’t change but the full marathon time was dropped back to 2:45 again. Had I known this was afoot, I might have considered running the full at Philly or even gearing up for an early January marathon. For reference, that means the half entry standard is now 87% age graded while the full standard is 84%. Sarah-luck at its best. I also feel horrible for the women who were aiming for the OTQ, had a slightly off day and ran 2:45 and change, thinking they were 2+ off the standard. I understand where USATF is coming from but the timing downright stinks.

Week in Review 11.9.15 to 11.15.15 and Goals for Philly

Taper begins…

Monday: 9.2 miles at practice.

Tuesday: 5 by mile at T pace (6:00, 6:08, 6:08, 6:06, 6:02) and 5 by 200 at R pace. Felt pretty clunky but once I focused on cadence, everything felt better. Legs afterward.

Wednesday: True beginning of taper with an off day, prorated at 5.4 miles. Drills and arms.

Thursday: 6.3 miles easy with striders on the track. Calves very sore.

Friday: Me versus the wind. Again. 3 by 1K (5:38 pace) plus 5 by 200 at R pace. Felt clunky again but got it done. 2 times through leg circuit after.

Saturday: Ran 2.5 with the girls at New Englands (they kicked butt!!!) and then did 3 easy with Will when I got home.

Sunday: 8.1 mile “long” run with 8 striders on the track. 1 set of arms after.

Total: 50.2 miles

The start of taper is always met with such mixed emotions. On the one hand, it’s nice to know that you are done with all the hard work. On the other, you instantly begin to think about all the things you should have done or could have fit in. Things haven’t been too bad thus far because I’m actually pretty sore (I’m hoping from the 200s) and happy to have the easier days.

I also spent most of last week harassing Will about what he thought I could run. Not trying to sell myself short, but the 1:15 just seems out of grasp given the way my fall went. I’m not disappointed in this training cycle but definitely could have used the 6 weeks I spent feeling awful in August/September! I’m a huge fan of A, B and C goals so here are mine:

C Goal: PR (under 1:21:45). I’ll be honest that I’d be very disappointed if I couldn’t better this time, excluding crazy weather which we aren’t forecast to have.

B Goal: Break 1:20. This is essentially where most of my race plan is focused. 1:20 is a big mental barrier for me but also a major entry point into many of the top level races that I’d like to be a part of going forward.

A Goal: 1:18:30. Just under 6 minute pace, this would be a great run for me.

Race Plan: I’m not planning on wearing a watch and will approach Philly much like I did the first time: ease into the first 2 miles, steady state effort til 6, tempo effort til 10 then send it for the last 5K. One adaptation to this may be that I connect with a group of women going for the Trials Standard in the full, who I imagine would go out right around 1:20 pace. It’s far easier to pull along with a group, so if the opportunity presents itself somewhere between 5:55 and 6:05 pace, I’ll be trying to chug along with them to pass some miles. The other adaptation will depend on how I feel in this final week; if my tempo miles tomorrow start to show taper pop and I’m down around 5:50, I’ll have a little more confidence to go out at 6 minute pace and hold it, rather than accelerating through the race.


An 18 Month Check In

18 months ago, I put my goals out there for all to see, judge and watch me strive for from behind their computer screens. Since some were on an 18 month time frame, it’s time to check in on how things are going.

18 Month Goals

PR in the marathon. Done, 2:54 at Mohawk Hudson in 2014. 

Break 1:20 in the half and 37 in the 10K. Not so much, although the first is possible at Philly. 

Get a shiny new 5K PR. Done, 18:44 at Champlain Classic in 2015. 


Win a marathon. Nope, was 2nd by 20 minutes last fall. 

Win a national title. Nope. 

Run a beer mile. Nope.

Break 2:45 in the marathon, 1:18 in the half, 36 in the 10K and 17:30 in the 5K. Nope, nope, nope, nope. 

Run a trail marathon. Nope. I forgot I even had this as a goal. I actually loathe trail running. 

Transition to an excellent masters career. We can give me credit for this, as it’s a process of staying uninjured and stacking cycle on cycle. 

Pie in the Sky

OTQ. Not yet. 

Elite Women’s Start at Boston. Nope.

Get invited to the USA Running Circuit. Hoping this happens in 2016 after a great Philly. 

Get a mention on Let’s Run or Running Times. Nope, but I did post my first ever comment on Let’s Run recently. Does that count?

In all honesty, I’m actually pretty happy with the way I’m progressing towards these goals despite the fact that I haven’t met all my 18 month goals yet. I named those goals less than 6 months out from foot surgery and at the end of my first year of medical school before I knew what my recovery would look like, what studying for the Boards would mean and what clerkship hours would feel like. Despite all that, I’ve made continual forward progress and continue to chip away at these goals.

For the next 18 months (which terrifyingly takes me up to my graduation from medical school and beginning of residency), my goals are to:

Break 1:20 in the half. Breaking 1:18 at Philly would be my A+ day goal.

Break 18:00 in the 5K.

Run a trail marathon.

Win a marathon (perhaps VCM 2017 before we leave Burlington for a while).

What are you short term goals? Long term goals? How often do you check in on them?

Recently Read: Youth Sports, the Trials as a BQ and Master’s Goals

  • I’m a huge advocate for lifelong activity, not only because I believe sports teach valuable lessons for surviving life’s obstacles but because obesity is a pathology that crosses over all walks of life and costs us enormously both financially and emotionally. Thus, I was interested to see new data on participation in youth sports and disheartened to see that overall participation has dropped. This is one of the reasons I love cross country; it’s not expensive to be a part of and there is a place for absolutely everyone.
  • Sometimes it’s difficult to explain to people that my goal is the Olympic Trials when I have no chance of making the actual Olympic Team. Although the by-line is a little offensive and the USATF quote is similarly obnoxious (The average marathon time in 2013 for women was 4:41, almost 2 hours slower than the OTQ at 2:43), this article does a decent job of capturing what the Olympic Trials Qualifier means to runners for whom the Boston Qualifier is not enough. I qualified for Boston by almost 20 minutes in my very first marathon but still wanted something to strive for and needing to shave 34 minutes off (I’ve taken 23 off to date) is my version of the BQ.
  • I joke that I’m really training for my masters career after I finish residency, so stories like this (and like Deena being top American at Chicago at 42) give me tons of hope!
  • I love this article about the purpose of education because it’s also spot on for the purpose of a high school sport. The score is NOT the main event. Showing up, working hard and pressing on when things don’t go your way IS the main event. Being accountable to teammates and coaches is the main event.

Week in Review 10.12.15 to 10.18.15

Ah, an adaptation week at last. Par for the course, I actually felt worse than I did during my full volume weeks but I know recovery is necessary.

Monday: 6 mile recovery run with Acadia while the girls did their workout. Acadia is running for Vassar so I was thrilled to get 45 minutes with her to hear all about college and her new team. Arms after my run.

Tuesday: 6.8 mile normal run.

Wednesday: 7 mile run, including a trial of my new Night Runner 270 shoe lights. I ordered these as part of a Kickstarter campaign and finally got to try them out. Full review coming soon but they were awesome!

Thursday: Tempo plus speed on the track. 5 by mile at tempo pace (5:57, 6:06, 6:12, 6:10, 6:13) followed by 4 by 400 at R pace. The 400s felt clunky at best but the miles were awesome. I definitely went too fast on the first one because I felt so good but was more honest about tempo effort for the other four. I was helped in this effort by the wind as it got pretty breezy on the track by the time we were done. 10 miles total. Legs after.

Friday: Off day, prorated at 6.8. I did jog around our home course for the race but kept it as minimal as I could. Amazing team day with every runner posting a season’s best and many posting huge lifetime bests.

We're so lucky to have a team parent who is a photographer! Me in my element.

We’re so lucky to have a team parent who is a photographer! Me in my element on Friday, watching my girls kill it.

Saturday: As Will said, it was like I had an oscillating fan on me on the track. Got a 4 by 1200 workout in between the snow squalls (yup!) and really battled the wind. The goal was 4:15 but I came through at 4:20 each time, which was a little over a second lost per lap. The Daniels SMART calculator estimated 32 seconds lost per mile given the wind speed so I’ll take it! 8 miles total with legs afterward.

Sunday: 13 mile long run with Will and Amy. Pretty chilly out and was actually really tired, so I was glad it was a short long run.

Total Miles: 58.2

As I wrote earlier in the week, I really am feeling better now after three weeks of liquid iron. Easy runs are back to normal and my workouts are happening at the paces I expect although I’m still really anxious every time I start one. My sleep hasn’t been great lately but I think that’s more to do with Will starting surgery and waking up at 5 am every day. I usually fall back to sleep but it feels more disrupted than normal.

The week ahead is back to normal volume (65 to 70) with a big marathon pace effort next weekend. We’re into Phase 4 now which means that after my regular workout efforts, I have to remind my legs how to be fast. Tough task as the weather gets colder and I’m at the peak of training!

Week in Review 10.5.15 to 10.11.15

Finally some hope!!!

Monday: 7 mile recovery run.

Tuesday: 3 by 2 miles at tempo pace. (6:22, 6:25) (6:15, 6:25) (6:21, 6:19). Much better than last time! 11.6 miles total.

Wednesday: 6 mile recovery run.

Thursday: 7 mile normal run.

Friday: 9 mile normal run. Put workout off because the weather was horrible.

Saturday: Intervals. 6 by 800. (2:50, 2:48, 2:48, 2:49, 2:48, 2:50). Hard to believe that a month ago, I was struggling through at 2:57 pace. 10 miles total.

Sunday: 18.2 mile long run in perfect fall weather.

Total Miles 68.8

Finally turning a corner! Between last week and this week, the tone in my running log has changed from “survived” to “felt great!” Easy runs no longer feel like slogging through quicksand and my workouts are both speeding up and feel much more reasonable effort wise, especially my tempo efforts. I’m a little over two weeks into my iron supplementation and feeling so much more like myself. I’m still adjusting my goals for Philly but with a whole lot more hope and happiness.

Welcome to Phase 3

It’s a Phase 3 kind of week around here. Joe, the MMU girls team and I are all starting Phase 3. Phase 3 is a Jack Daniels phenomenon (the acclaimed physiologist, not the booze), the goal of which is to optimize the components of training that apply to your event of primary interest.

For the girls that I coach, this represents the transition from general fitness to 5K specific speed. We spent the bulk of the summer running easy miles and climbing up mountains (literally) around Vermont to build as big an aerobic base as we could muster. In the past few weeks, we’ve started basic workouts to remind our legs that in fact, we can move fast. Starting today, we’ll move to workouts that prepare them more specifically to race a 5K. This includes intervals, tempo runs and full speed work. We’ve also revamped our drills to improve form and will spend a day a week working on tiny details like how to run downhill, how to pass and how to run tangents.

For me, the transition to Phase 3 always feels like the beginning of “real” training. I know I’ve been training for months but Phase 3 always feels more real because workouts become more traditional in terms of repetitions and effort. Daniels also states that phase III is usually the most stressful in terms of quality training sessions and I would have to agree. That stress is one of the reasons that Will didn’t have me start Phase 3 until I had a week of sleep under my belt. Other changes for Phase III for me include aiming for 10 hours of sleep a night, emphasizing rest when I’m not running and no alcohol until Philly. Giving up beer and wine isn’t a big deal, but I’m definitely struggling with the new rest schedule. I’m not a great sleeper and I’m definitely bad at relaxing. By Thursday last week, I texted Will to ask what I’m supposed to do between workouts. His response? Sit on the couch. Thankfully I’m doing a reading month and have lots of interesting obstetrics articles to catch up on, but sitting is still tough.

Are you a Daniels person or do you follow Higdon, Pfitz or another plan? What parts of training are you best at? And what do I start watching on Netflix?!?!


You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

This may go down as the most exciting and most effing terrifying blog post I ever share. Thanks to the flexibility of the UVM College of Medicine and the unwavering support and encouragement of Will, I’ll be taking the fall of 2015 to actually take a crack at seeing how fast I can get. For 13 weeks from mid August to mid November, I’ll be living like a professional athlete and my only focus will be on running and recovering to the best of my ability. I’ll still be doing some medical school related things, I’ll just be doing 4th year electives (reading month and some research) instead of clerkships, which I’ll make up when I return in November. My day to day schedule will focus on training and ultimately pushing towards a half marathon in November.

Why target the half marathon when the standard is 1:15 rather than the relatively easier 2:43 for the full?

1. The half marathon requires a little less perfection than the full to have a good day. If the weather is awful, it doesn’t take months to recover. If I have an off stomach, I can survive 75 minutes without fuel.

2. It capitalizes on the work I’ve been doing this Spring and doesn’t set me back into the pattern of long slow runs and lazy form.

3. If I am feeling really amazing and it looks like I could get a 2:43 in December, I’m able to turn around and try that with all the requisite speed already acquired.

4. From a long term perspective, we’re trying to set me up for a solid career through my 30s and 40s and although I’ll always have endurance, I won’t always have the ability to build speed.

What happens if I fall on my face?

1. A half marathon PR still pushes me forward to some of my other performance goals including gaining entry to National Championship events, the Boston Elite start and getting my elite entry to most of the big races around the country.

2. I don’t spend the rest of my life wondering what my limits are if only I wasn’t in medical school.

What’s the plan?

At this point, I don’t plan to go to altitude. That would be tough for us financially and logistically, as Will remains in the 3rd year Medical School curriculum and will need all the support a non-working spouse can provide. We are about 6 months out from race day, so I’m back to Phase 1A of training. I’ll spend May, June and July building as good of a base as I can while continuing to do speed work and working on efficiency. August, September and October will be where the bulk of the hard work happens and November is essentially for taper.

In terms of extras, my big focus for the first three months is building the muscle strength required to be fast and continuing to work on hip mobility. I’ve really locked up a lot over the past few months and need to spend some attention on loosening up again. During my months off, the focus will be on recovering as much as I can, on nailing workouts and on sharpening my mental game. I’m already finding myself second guessing whether I can do this, so that particular task will be very challenging!

The other benefit of more time is that I can do a better job of cataloging my experience. I know that I’m extremely lucky to have this opportunity and that there are many other runners who can only dream of 13 weeks off so I’m hoping that keeping this blog full of my lessons learned at least passes some of the benefits on to others.



Not The Cool Kid

I spend so much of my time around runners or people I’ve bullied into being runners (or at least running regularly) that I sometimes forget that it’s not standard to run every day or to run for at least an hour every time you lace up. Asking me if I’m running today is akin to asking me if I brushed my teeth; almost guaranteed that I did or will on both. I was reminded of my relative eccentricity today when some of the residents and other medical students asked me if I wanted to join them for dinner. When I asked about time frame, they said 5 pm. In moments like these, I always have a rapid, painful internal struggle not unlike a middle school kid. Of course I want to go to dinner with my colleagues and be part of the club. Of course I want to destress and eat delicious food. But here in Lewiston, I run at 5 pm for at least an hour or until the light fades.

When I responded “Oh, I’d love to but I am planning on running this afternoon,” I was met with the familiar “But you can run tomorrow and dinner is way more fun!” This always puts me in an odd position. Of course I can run tomorrow (and I will) but I also need to run today because I have crazy goals and it’s all about the miles run…and no normal person gives a shit about this answer. And as I’ve done a hundred times, I thanked them so much for the invite and said I hoped I could make it next time. I do legitimately hope this, but the invite has to fall on a rest day or a day when I’ve run in the morning.

As I was running (and not socializing) this afternoon, I started to wonder about the repercussions of always saying no to such things. In my life at home, almost everyone assumes I’ll show up to things after my workout or doesn’t bother inviting me to things that are in direct conflict. What happens, however, in two short years when I’m out in a Residency trying to build important bonds with colleagues and Attendings? Am I hurting my career and networking by skipping out on these things? Will I miss out on the personal bonds that are so critical to sanity and survival in medicine?

Anyone have any experiences (positive or negative) with situations like these? How do you balance running and other social obligations?

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