Category Archives: Philly Half

Salt In the Wound

For the last few weeks, I felt like I was finally moving beyond Philly. People had stopped asking about my training, the Olympic Trials came and went and I survived and I had a few good weeks of training. Then yesterday happened. The rest of my classmates are full, official 4th years while I’m making up the rotations I missed while I was training this fall. I was doing 4th year electives while I was “off” but I have to make up those clerkships before graduation and I opted to do them right off the bat. As such, I’m now surrounded by 3rd years who don’t know me or my story and who assume that I failed the Boards or otherwise floundered in third year and have to repeat a clerkship. I guess I could let them assume that and maybe so doing would ultimately be less painful, but I have had to have the following conversation multiple times in the past day.

“You’re a 2017, right? Why are you in this rotation?”

“I took the fall off to train for the Olympic Trials.”

“Cool, did you make it?”

“No, that’s not really how the United States system works. I needed to qualify for a chance to compete but I didn’t make the standard.” Awkward silence….

I’m facing a similar issue with writing my personal statement. My advisor is the Program Director here and she has encouraged me to demonstrate that I’m both a team player and have the ability to persevere, which is best done in my case via my running career. How do I demonstrate that perseverance when I feel like I failed at my big, bold move? How do I articulate that although I didn’t reach my A through E goals, I did achieve a lot of amazing things? How do I get over my shame enough to represent myself well?

Huge leap of faith, huge way to fall…

2015 In Review

It’s a bit mind boggling to be at the end of 2015 because it means I’m just a tiny bit over a year from being an MD and our next move as a family. I had huge goals for 2015 and took big chances and although I don’t regret the process, it didn’t turn out quite the way I’d imagined. Falling short of success, however, offers lots of opportunity for insight and plenty of competitive drive to get back out there in 2016.

Mileage:

2,627 miles (219 miles a month, 51 miles a week on average). In contrast, 2014 was 2,282 which included time off for surgery but came out to 190 miles a month and 44 miles a week on average. The distribution of my mileage isn’t even of course, as I have periodized training and end up with some chunks of time more in the 30s and then big training that is up in the 60s.

Races:

The year started off well with a great run on a windy, cold day at the First Run 5K. I’ll be racing this again tomorrow and hoping for a fast time to help ease the pain of Philly a bit.

Once Clerkship year started, I had to set my sites on shorter races and took advantage of being in Maine for Family Medicine to race the Falmouth 4 Miler.  This was the first race this year where I learned that I don’t tolerate racing on cold legs anymore. Foreshadowing for Philly, I suppose.

In early May, I regained some confidence on one of my favorite courses, the Champlain Classic 5K. I have no idea what my race schedule looks like for 2016, but I’ll definitely be back for the Classic.

In June, I raced a 5K for beer in 80 degree sun and ran a 3K on the track in the wind, also foreshadowing for Philly. It was a blast to do something totally different.

On the 4th of July, I raced the Montpelier Mile and re-learned a valuable lesson about running through the finish line. I felt so stupid for this tactical error until I saw Molly Huddle do it later in the summer and gave myself a bit of a break.

In late September, I felt like I turned a corner in training. After many weeks of feeling punky secondary to anemia, I toed the line at the Downtown 10K with no expectations and was surprised to execute a great tactical race. I’ll definitely be back at this one!

Finally, I ran the Philadelphia Half Marathon in November. This was supposed to be my big event of 2016 and I’d be lying if I said that the sting of that outcome has faded.

Until I looked back today, I hadn’t realized how diverse my races were this year and there is some fun in race distances that you rarely run. The race I’m most proud of is the Downtown 10K; I stayed calm and executed my race plan. I continue to realize that I need more racing experience to help me deal with situations like delayed starts, wind and racing alone.

How do you review a year of training? What were your highs and lows of 2015?

Race Report: Philadelphia Half Marathon 2015

Short Story: 1:22:25 for 24th place.

First, apologies for a bit of a bummer post. To me, it’s more valuable to be honest about disappointments than gloss over them. As another runner said to me in the Elite Tent yesterday, we often learn more from our failures than our great moments.

Second, it’s always a little touchy to complain about a time that many people would love to run, so please know that it’s not my intent to be ungrateful for the time, it’s just that it is far below what I expected for myself given my training and fitness.

Philly Bib 2015

I’ll get to the positives at the end, but unfortunately, this race was one of those where you just never feel good. I slept relatively well on Saturday night, waking up just twice at midnight and at 4 am. When the alarm went off at 5, I felt rested and ready. In hindsight, perhaps I was TOO calm. I ate my bagel and sunbutter and drank a cup of coffee while I put contacts in and got dressed. I left the hotel by 5:30 and walked to the start. It was oddly warm out but the wind was already blowing pretty well. I tried to stay positive and hoped that it would mellow with the sunrise. Security was relatively seamless and I got to the Elite Tent a little after 6. Headed out to jog at 6:15 and felt okay, but not great. Striders, however, felt totally fine so I figured things would snap together.

At 6:50, they asked us to walk from the elite tent to the start so we did. The wind was blowing and it was much cooler without warmups on. 7 o’clock clicked by with no wheel start. Then 7:05. Then 7:10. Finally at 7:13, they sent the wheels and at 7:15, we were off. Needless to say, any benefit of a warmup was gone and I was happy to just not trip over the starting line. From mile 1, I felt clunky and stiff. I tried to stay calm and hoped I would warm up. I went through the mile at 6:10, a little slower than I hoped, but not an insurmountable deficit.

By the time we reached mile 3, however, it was pretty clear that it wasn’t going to be a banner day. The wind was very strong at times, from seemingly all directions, and it was hard to find or hold a pace. Beyond this, my legs just felt punky. I found myself counting the miles very early which is never a good sign. I didn’t feel like I had gone out too fast, I just couldn’t move my legs. At mile 6, I saw my girls (more on that later!!) and had a few moments of feeling good so tried to capitalize on the moment. In fact, I went through the 10K in 38:24, which is a small 10K PR. By mile 7, however, the wheels were off. The 2:43 pace group for the full went by me, I had a shitty water stop (my fault, I didn’t really need it but thought maybe a gel would help) and I was flailing through the hills. Of note, I don’t think the pace group was running the right pace and I’m pretty certain they lost everyone by the end. When I ran Philly in 2012, I barely remember any hills. Today, it felt like mile 7.5 to mile 9.5 was ALL hills. I saw Erin just before 8 and gave her a thumbs down. At that point, I was just hoping for a PR.

The good news is, I never really crashed, I just couldn’t pick it up at all. I never needed to use one of my faster breathing patterns because I couldn’t turn my legs over fast enough. Even at mile 12 when I KNEW I needed to push, I just kept plodding along. When I rounded the corner and saw 1:22, it was all I could do to not burst into tears. I crossed the finish line and made my way back to the Elite Tent, just stunned at how badly things had gone. I think I would have liked to have cried, just to get some of the hurt out, but I honestly felt too shocked to do so.

The run didn’t feel like much more than a workout, so there may be hope to use the fitness for another race soon. I can’t discount the effect of the wind either; at race time, it was a steady 15 miles per hour with gusts up to 25 miles per hour. Even a modest adjustment for a 5 mph headwind predicts a 1:18 without wind. This is very, very, VERY little solace but at least I feel like it wasn’t all on me. The start delay didn’t help me at all either. Looking back, I wish I’d decided to run the first two miles much slower to warm back up. Ultimately, I don’t think it would have cost me a lot of time and I might have actually been able to make some gear changes.

On the great side, my girls team came down to Philly to surprise me. I was sitting in my hotel on Saturday (in my robe, having just showered) when the front desk called to see if I would take a package. I didn’t know who would send me something but thought maybe Will sent flowers. Imagine my surprise when I opened my door to see my girls!! They had been planning it all season and I had NO idea. They came equipped with giant pictures of me, tinsel and all their screaming voices. I will never, ever be able to articulate how amazing that gesture was but they saved the weekend for me. It would have been very easy to mope for the rest of Sunday but having them there made me realize I have to practice what I always preach to them about moving on from rough races.

I'll never be able to explain to them how much this meant to me.

I’ll never be able to explain to them how much this meant to me.

It’s similarly hard to articulate what I’m feeling right now. Devastated, heartbroken and humiliated all come to mind. I know that one race doesn’t define anyone but I don’t know when I’ll get the opportunity to give it my all again. That’s the risk with taking a big chance! You might not get the result you want and when you put it out there and are vulnerable, failure stings that much more. As my sister said when I was pathetically texting her, it’s just going to be raw for a few days. And as the much more brilliant Lindsey said, some days you just don’t have the magic.

For the next week or so, I’ll just take it easy, run when I want and try to figure out what went wrong, what I can do to salvage the cycle and where I want to go from here. If anyone knows a great December half marathon, I’m all ears!

(No) Looking Back

When I was learning to drive, my dad took me to this hilly old cemetery in town to teach me how to back up. Petrified, I asked “But what if I hit one?!” “Then you’ll pay for it.” I proceeded to creep backwards but kept my eyes forward, which prompted my dad to give me some of the best life advice ever:

Look where you’re going, not where you’ve been. 

I’m not sure he said it to be prolific. In fact, I’m quite sure he just wanted me to use my rear view mirror but nonetheless, it’s important life advice. Taper week brings up a lot of self-doubt and a strong desire to look back. I want to look over my last Philly cycle, to see if there’s a crystal ball that will tell me what might happen on Sunday. Will has forbidden this particular activity so I’m stuck looking at the current cycle, which I think is a more productive exercise. I’ve done a lot of work. I’ve run a lot of miles. Not all of my workouts have been great, but I’m fit and not injured and most of the time, that’s all you can ask for. So without further delay, here are the workouts I’ve done in Phases 3 and 4 this year.

  • 16 by 400
  • 15.5 mile long run
  • 5 by mile at tempo
  • 8 by 800
  • 16 mile long run
  • 6 by 1000
  • 2 by 2 mile at T pace
  • Downtown 10K in 38:33
  • 17 miles with 6 at M pace
  • 16 by 400
  • 3 mile continuous tempo
  • 5 by 1K
  • 15 mile long run
  • 3 by 2 mile at T pace
  • 6 by 800
  • 18.2 mile long run
  • 5 by 1 mile at T pace plus 4 by 400 at R pace
  • 4 by 1200
  • 13.6 mile long run
  • 5 by 1000 plus 4 by 200
  • 15 miles with 8 at steady state pace
  • 14 by 400
  • 16.5 miles with 5 by 1 mile at T and 5 by 200 at R
  • 6 by 800 plus 4 by 200
  • 14 mile long run
  • 5 by mile at Tempo plus 5 by 200 at R
  • 3 by 1K plus 5 by 200
  • 3 by 1200 at T pace plus 4 by 200 at R

With that last workout done today, nothing left to do but stay calm and rest up until Saturday!

Do you look over your training cycle to gain confidence or does it just make you more nervous?

 

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.

 

Week in Review 11.2.15 to 11.8.15

Back from an awesome weekend in DC. Somehow our little group of friends has turned into a big group of families. We had 15 adults, 2 teenagers and 5 kiddos under 3 in the very grown up house of the newest married couple in the group, the night ended at 6 pm and the only person who ended the night without pants on was a 3 year old. The times, they are a changing!

Monday: 16.5 mile run with workout embedded. 5 by 1 mile at T pace (6:09, 6:09, 6:07, 6:09, 6:11) and 5 by 200 at 34 seconds followed by enough running to make it to 2 hours and 10 minutes. Legs afterward.

Tuesday: 7 mile recovery run plus reffing XC lacrosse.

Wednesday: 8 miles on the complex plus striders.

Thursday: The first meh workout in a while. 6 by 800 (2:48, 2:52, 2:54, 2:56, 2:51, 2:53) plus 4 by 200. 10 miles total. Legs afterward.

Friday: 14.2 mile long run before the flight to DC.

Saturday: 5.25 mile recovery run with KC and Emmy! Super humid.

Sunday: 8.2 mile run on surprisingly hilly roads near KC’s new house. Legs pretty wiped but presumably poor sleep for two nights didn’t help.

Total Miles: 69.1 

Not my most focused week. During my workout on Monday, I kept finding myself thinking about something else only to realize I was in the middle of a tempo mile. On Thursday, I just couldn’t get my effort right and my legs felt exhausted from the first step. I don’t know if I was just not recovered from Monday or if I’m starting to get antsy for taper, but this week felt scattered. I’m glad I got the mileage in that I did but I’m hoping this coming week brings a little more focus.

Taper starts midweek, so I’m looking forward to all the crazy that goes along with that! I’ve already been bugging Will about what time he thinks I can run and how he thinks I should approach the race. More on that later this week…

Week in Review 10.26.15 to 11.1.15

Monday am: 15 miles with 8 at marathon pace. Ended up being 6:23 pace, so I was psyched with the effort.

Monday pm: Drills, 1 mile warmup then legs in the weight room.

Tuesday: 6.5 mile recovery run.

Wednesday am: 9 mile recovery run in what turned out to be miserable weather.

Wednesday pm: Drills, 1 mile warmup then striders.

Thursday: 400s on the track. Given the crazy wind on the home stretch, rotated start points around the track. Goal was 85, result was pretty dependent on Mother Nature. 84, 83, 84, 83, 82, 85, 82, 83, 85, 84, 85, 85, 86, 85. Legs felt totally awesome but it was admittedly frustrating in the wind. Legs afterward.

Friday: Unplanned rest day (I planned to take it on Saturday) courtesy of the dogs, who accidentally knocked me down in the driveway. Knocked the wind right out of me and banged me up pretty good but after laying there for a few minutes panicking that they had broken my leg, I determined that I was mostly okay.

Saturday: 4 miles in the early morning before we headed out then another 4 around the States Course. Amazing day for us, with some great teamwork and some stellar individual performances too. We beat Burlington by 1 point to qualify for the New England Championships, which was our team goal for the year. Doesn’t get better than that!

Sunday: 8.9 miles with striders.

Total Miles: 65

Total Miles for October: 282

The upside of a flexible schedule is that I can push my long run to tomorrow since my legs (and body and soul) are tired from yesterday. The downside is that it makes me feel like I’m messing up my training because I’m not following some arbitrary schedule. This downside is obviously all mental – my body doesn’t care that tomorrow is Monday. Still, it irks me!

Besides my fall on Friday, this week was actually a great week of training. I’m starting to feel really strong and am continuing to improve in workouts. I don’t have a lot of “big” work left before taper, which will start the week after next. My long run tomorrow will be long: 2 hours 15 minutes with 5 by mile at tempo pace and 8 by 200 hard at the beginning. With the tempo miles, this will be about a 17 mile effort. Later in the week, I’ll do my long run on Friday because I’m headed to DC this weekend to see my best friends for our Friendsgiving. I’ll be running while I’m there but it’s much less stressful when I don’t have to get a 2+ hour long run in.

Week in Review 10.19.15 to 10.25.15

Somehow another week has passed and we’re now a month (!!!!) from Philadelphia. Just a couple more weeks of hard work left until taper.

Monday: 8.2 mile recovery run plus hip core.

Tuesday: 7.5 mile run with the team. Lower back bugging me.

Wednesday am: Workout. 5 by 1000 plus 4 by 200. My Garmin was misbehaving on the track and had a variety of distances for 2.5 laps, all equally 5:38 pace. Didn’t time the 200s but they felt fast.

Wednesday pm: 2.4 mile shakeout run plus legs.

Thursday: 9.55 mile recovery run. Legs pretty darn tired but I took it really easy. Arms afterward.

Friday: 8 mile easy run plus core.

Saturday: 8.5 miles before the meet.

Sunday: Swapped my long run workout with a regular run because of the wind, so just 8 miles of easy running plus strides.

Total Miles: 62.3

This week was an average week of training: nothing great and nothing bad either. My legs are feeling a bit crummy again, but I suspect that’s because I’m finally able to push myself again rather than fighting chronic oxygen debt. I’m not sure why my lower back is bothering me, but I’m hoping that stretching plus the magic of taper will resolve that before November 22nd!

I’ll do my long run workout tomorrow (2 hours with 8 miles at marathon pace, 6:30). Because I pushed my workout to tomorrow, it makes the end of my week crowded with a Thursday/Friday workout combo. The State Meet is on Saturday, so I won’t aim to do any of my own running that day, but will be cheering and running all over the course.

 

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. 

Someday

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?

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!