Category Archives: racing

Week in Review 7.11.16 to 7.17.16

This week has been an utter whirlwind. Finished in Chicago, ran a half, drove to Charlotte, got stuck in an airport for 14 hours and finally got back to Vermont. 

Monday: 2 by mile at T pace (6:25, 6:24) then 4 x 200 hard. Sweltering heat, the kind that makes the lines on the track blur. 6.1 miles.

Tuesday: 4 mile recovery run. Arms and core after.

Wednesday: Off Day.

Thursday: Quick interval workout of 2 by 400, 2 by 200. Super humid and hot but good prep for Sunday. 5 miles.

Friday: 4 miles easy.

Saturday: 2.5 miles easy.

Sunday: RockNRoll Chicago Half Marathon. 1:26:48 and 16 miles total on the day.

Total Miles: 37.6

I’ll write a full race report soon (probably next week after I get to Asheville and get through this next set of boards) but RockNRoll was not quite what I wanted it to be. It did serve as a good fitness test and will certainly propel me forward but it was frustrating to yet again find myself totally comfortable in the 6:30s with no real ability to pick it up from there.

The next two weeks will be pretty low-key from a training perspective for a few reasons. First, I need a small break from running and to evaluate what pieces of my training need to change. My reaction to a crappy race is always the same: one half of me wants to quit and never run again and the other half is angry and just wants to hammer harder. It’s fine to hammer but I need to take some time to figure out how to hammer smarter. Second, I have another set of medical boards next weekend that crept up on me. This test isn’t quite as big as Step 1 but it’s not one that I can blow off either so I’m spending most of my time studying for that and just keeping active for maintenance. Finally, I’m starting up in Asheville on Sunday and as it always is in a new place, it’s hard to know how the schedule will work.

Rock’N’Roll Chicago!

When I found out I was going to Chicago, the first thing I did was check out the running scene, identify my possible running routes and try to find a race that fit into my schedule. Since I’ll be on Emergency Medicine, my schedule is a little erratic so I didn’t want to sign up for a race that might conflict with a shift. When I found out that the Rock’N’Roll Chicago half was on the weekend after I finish, I sent in an application for an elite entry and crossed my fingers. It might be hot and miserable but I though the opportunity to have something to focus on and to check my fitness was a great one. In awesome news, I got word last night that my application was accepted for July 17th!

Excited for a new skyline next week!

Excited for a new skyline next week!

It’s hard not to go into a race with hopes of a PR but in this case, I’m just hoping for improvement from Plattsburgh and another great race experience where I can work for a top finish next to other fast ladies. It also offers an opportunity to see how my fall might shape up and whether I’m ready to tackle another 26.2.

Week in Review 4.25.16 to 5.1.16

Monday: 3 mile run WAY too fast for taper week.

Tuesday: Combo workout at Waveny. 2 by 5 minutes at tempo, 3 by 1 min hard for 5 miles total

Wednesday: 3.4 mile recovery run, again way too fast.

Thursday: 3 mile run on the treadmill.

Friday: 2 mile shakeout progression. Mini arms workout.

Saturday: 2.5 miles with 2 laps of ins and outs on the track.

Sunday: Plattsburgh Half Marathon, 2nd woman in 1:26:44 on goodness knows what length course. 16 miles total for the day.

Total Miles: 35

Total Miles for April: 170

Definitely suffering from cumulative exhaustion from stress, poor sleep and a lot of travel! I drove 5 hours home on Friday night, to Plattsburgh and back on Saturday for the Expo then drove back to Norwalk after the race this morning. I’m also not being careful about my recovery paces (7:15 for my run on Monday, 7:37 on Wednesday?!) and it’s starting to show up in my race results. I’m not unhappy with my run this morning but I’m definitely lacking gears and some of that is coming from an imbalance in stimulus and recovery.

Just a few more days left in Norwalk and I head home to Burlington and hopefully lock into a more steady routine. I’m also hoping some of my 4th year electives lock in soon so that I can really start to look at the next few months and not have absolutely everything up in the air career wise!

Depending on my call schedule for June, I’m hoping to add in the Freihofer’s Run for Women in Albany on June 4th. This is a race that draws some unbelievable talent and we have the opportunity to race through Skechers. It will take a bit of an effort to get some turnover back in my legs but I’m hoping that with my fitness base, I can turn in a PR effort in 4 weeks.

Week In Review 4.11.16 to 4.17.16

Monday am: 20 minutes on the elliptical to start moving things a bit

Monday pm: 3.37 very pathetic miles. Flats and uphills were fine, downhills were a disaster!

Tuesday: 6.87 miles with 4 by 50 meter striders. Feeling mostly better although left quad still a little sore.

Wednesday: 8.6 miles with 5 by 1 minute hard, 1 minute easy, 4 by 30 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy. Endurance legs and core after. Felt really good once I got going but definitely found some residual soreness after!

Thursday: 5.65 easy.

Friday: 2 mile morning shakeout.

Saturday: 10,000 meters on the track! 39:10, race report to come but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d anticipated. 11 miles for the day.

Sunday: 7 miles really easy at Waveny Park in New Canaan. Beautiful place for a recovery run!

Total Miles: 45

Tricky week to balance recovery and fitness but I think it went okay. I didn’t feel the fatigue from the trail run until about 4 miles into the 10,000 so that was a welcome surprise. Even more exciting is that I’m absolutely loving racing again because everything is so far from my comfort zone, there’s no way to be disappointed!

Back to the grind this week miles-wise, as soon as I’m recovered from Saturday. I’ll be keeping to my tempo/R pace schedule with some fast, quick intervals to work on my efficiency between now and the Plattsburgh half.

Congratulations to all the Boston Marathon runners yesterday! That women’s finish was something else. Ain’t over til it’s over…

Race Report: Merrimack River Trail Race 2016

There aren’t many races that I feel compelled to do every year, but this race was such an exceptional experience, I’m adding it to the list to try to do whenever possible. It was challenging enough to feel like a real accomplishment, fun without gimmick and an experience I’ll be thinking about for a long time.

Short Version: 1:16:20, 12th woman overall.

All smiles post-race. Should have taken a shot of my shoes...yikes.

All smiles post-race. Should have taken a shot of my shoes…yikes.

Long Version:

I got to the race at about 8:00 am and after a quick porto-potty stop, headed out to warm up on the trail and was happy to find that at least the first mile (and thus mile 10) were totally runnable. The first few feet of the course were seriously muddy but then it opened up to dry pine needle or sand trail. I did 2 miles, took my Gu and a couple more sips of coffee then got in line to pee again. This is when I knew the race was going to be a blast. The Race Director, who is clearly a native given that I didn’t hear an “r” uttered all day, started heckling in the porto-potty line that everyone was on a time limit. It cut through the anxiety (although it was a pretty low key crowd) and made me relaxed going into the race. With just a couple minutes to go to the start, I decided to lose my long-sleeve because I was worried about overheating. EXCELLENT call on my part.

I knew the race funneled down to single track quickly, but when I saw the distance between the start line and the trail, I realized it was really quickly. Like 15 feet. I didn’t even bother to position myself near the front and decided I’d just try to get through the start cleanly (fall-wise, mud-wise was a foregone conclusion) and deal with the rest in the first mile. Although we did slow down significantly, I was running free within 30 seconds and didn’t have any trouble with traffic til much later in the race.

Given that I have a 10,000 meter on the track this coming weekend, I tweaked my race plan a bit to make sure that I didn’t totally crush my legs. From my course research, my plan was to tempo effort the first 3 (which were allegedly flat), survive the middle section then tempo effort the last 3. My knowledge of the course profiled was a bit off but I was proud to go through the first two miles in 6:27 and 6:28 and feel in total control. The course got harder in the 3rd mile with some mud and a few bigger hills and my pace dropped to 7:19 while my effort stayed constant. Mile 4 was even harder with hard but manageable climbs and some descents that scared the LIFE out of me. Area of Improvement #1: Learn how to tackle terrifying downhills. Enormous apologies to the guy behind me when I hit the brakes before sliding down the steepest hill I’ve ever attempted to run down. (This would become like the 4th steepest hill I’ve ever run down shortly…) I finished mile 4 in 7:41 and was proud that I was holding my pace. Trail running is fun!

Too soon, Sarah. Mile 5 starts with a bang. And by a bang, I mean a sandy climb called Powerline Hill that necessitates walking and occasionally the use of hands and knees. This is the first time I’ve walked in a race since Junior High and by later in the race, I was kicking myself for ever resisting it. By the time I got to the top of Powerline Hill (incidentally where spectators and cameras were…can’t wait for those photos), I was literally seeing stars and had some moments where I wasn’t sure my legs could go on. Incidentally, I wish I’d had a heart rate monitor on because I’m pretty sure it would have identified my actual max heart rate. I was stumbling over the trail, just trying not to fall down. Of course, what goes up must come down and I started down the other side, just praying I wouldn’t fall down because I was pretty confident I’d never get back up. Just about this time, the lead runners started coming back towards us so we started the game of “get out of the way.” In trying to get out of the way for a group of guys, I rolled my ankle hard enough to make it numb for a couple of miles, which impeded any hope of feeling confident over the terrain. As I made my way towards the turnaround, I realized that it had flattened out again and urged myself to pick it up. Area of Improvement #2: Don’t give up time on easy parts!

I went through the turnaround, was almost caught up to the woman ahead of me when I stepped in serious mud and SQUELSH. Off came my shoe. I had this ridiculous moment where I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do and literally stood there for about 10 seconds considering my options. Once I got it back on, I took off again but had lost sight of her and let my gap ahead of the next woman essentially close. I also realized that I’d forgotten to hit the split on my watch at the turnaround, so decided to just let it run til the mile 6 marker. At the next river crossing, I jumped into mud and SQUELCH again, as my left shoe ripped off. Area of Improvement #3a and 3b: Tie your shoes tighter than you could ever imagine and learn how to deal with river crossings cause clearly, mud isn’t the answer. My split for those two miles? 18:53. Seriously. It was hard…

The return trip over Powerline Hill and the rest of the big hills in mile 7 was much better as I stopped trying to run them and powerhiked them like everyone else around. SO much more comfortable. It was tricky to navigate around runners still heading out but people were incredibly polite and stayed to the side, although I’m sure my flailing arms and sliding feet encouraged some of that. Again, apologies. Rookie. Area of Improvement #4: Know when to hold em, know when to fold em walking wise. Mile 7 passed in 8:07 and I started to think I might just survive this race. Mile 8 was much more runnable although jumping onto bridges on tired legs was a little more sketchy than on the way out. I went through Mile 8 in 7:51 pace and as we hit the flat sections, picked it up to tempo pace, cruising through Mile 9 in 6:59. My last mile is what really made me so fricken proud of myself. As we hit the last mile (which is definitely the easiest in the course), I shifted gears again and worked on quick turnover (a feat in soaked shoes) and pressing onward while keeping things at high tempo effort and came home in a 6:32 last mile, just a couple seconds slower than I went out. I crossed the finish line in 1:16:20 with just the biggest smile. (This may have actually been in my head, I’m not sure what my face looked like…)

Coming into this race, I had hoped to run around 1:10 but after seeing the course, I realize that I was unprepared from a technical (and likely physical) perspective to do so. My downhill running skills are poor and I didn’t do a good job on the way out of managing my energy. All of that is not to indicate any unhappiness with how yesterday went. I’m brand new to trail racing and I’m thrilled to both have such a good experience and to feel pretty normal today, minus very tired quads. I didn’t think I was particular fit going into this race and although I’m clearly not sharp (see, giving up time on flats), my fitness is actually in a good place and I’m excited for the races ahead.

Splits:

Mile 1 6:27

Mile 2 6:28

Mile 3 7:19

Mile 4 7:41

Mile 5/6 18:53

Mile 7 8:07

Mile 8 7:51

Mile 9 6:59

Mile 10 6:32

 

Week in Review 4.4.16 to 4.10.16

Monday: 3.25 mile recovery run with big arms and core.

Tuesday: 5.5 miles with 10 minutes at tempo pace plus 4 by 30 seconds hard uphill. Still feeling the residual of a lot of hours on the trails. Legs after.

Wednesday: 4.27 miles with striders.

Thursday: 4.4 miles.

Friday: 2 mile progressive shakeout.

Saturday: Merrimack River Trail Race, aka the “Rivah.” Finished 12th for women in 1:16:20, which was momentarily disappointing, but overcome by the realization that I a) had a ton of fun b) executed my race plan and c) smiled for almost the entire (really flipping hard) race.

Sunday: Off Day. My legs are tired from yesterday but nothing appears broken. Given that I have to turn around and race a 10K on Saturday, however, I opted for more rest so I can get a little training in this week around that.

Total Miles: 32.4

This week (well really weekend) was one of the most refreshing ones I’ve had in a while. On Friday night, I drove up to Boston and caught up with my Uncle on the drive. He’s a retired physician and has been an enormous support to me throughout this process so it was great to catch up with him. I stayed with my best friend from college and we got to giggle and catch up all weekend. Then today, I got to catch up with another dear friend on the way back to Norwalk. Medical School is BRUTAL on personal relationships and I am so grateful to have friends who stick by me and to have a few hours to just be a regular person.

The race was also an amazing experience. I’ll recap it more in my race report, but I am just overwhelmingly proud of my execution. It wasn’t my best race and I’d hoped to be faster but I did a great job of just running my race plan, putting in a solid performance without risking my race next weekend or the half in May and had a total fricken blast.

As I’ve alluded a couple of times, the 10000 meter component of the All-Terrain Runner series is coming up next Saturday. I didn’t intend to race back to back weekends but finding a 10K on the track is a bit of a feat and I can’t make the only other guaranteed date this Spring so next weekend, I’m heading up to Fitchburg State University to run in a college meet for 27 some odd laps!

All of this means that my week gets shuffled a bit. I need to recover from yesterday, sharpen for Saturday and still keep my eye on May 1st. I’ll do a glorified strider workout tomorrow even though I won’t be fully recovered, another workout on Wednesday (trying out the Greenwich Running Company workout this week) then two easy days, use Saturday as a workout/heavy tempo and long run Sunday.

 

Week in Review 3.28.16 to 4.3.16

201.9 miles for March, my first time over 200 since October.

Monday: 6 miles on trails for recovery.

Tuesday: Off day, prorated at 7 miles.

Wednesday: 9.5 mile tempo workout. Warmup then 3 miles continuous at tempo. Pretty windy but felt good once I was rolling. Legs afterward.

Thursday: 3.35 miles on the treadmill. Not what I wanted but serious traffic driving to JFK to pick up Will.

Friday: 6 miles at Mianus with Will.

Saturday: Super tough trail workout at Cranbury Park. 8 miles with 5 by (1 min hard, 1 min easy, 30 sec hard, 30 sec easy). Legs gassed but good to force them to work.

Sunday: 10 miles at Mianus.

Total Miles 49.9

4/6 runs were on trails this week, leaving my legs very trail tired this afternoon. Despite that, it was a good week of work and I’m encouraged that I’m getting better at seeing lines on trails and moving with confidence over technical sections. I don’t know what to expect next weekend (and that’s okay with me), but I feel better going into it with 4+ hours of trail work this week.

My goals for next weekend are pretty simple: finish, get in an hour plus at a good effort and try to race the people around me. I’m not setting a time goal since I have no idea how the course sets up other than it is flat for the first three, hilly for 4 then flat for three again (out and back). I also don’t know how muddy it might be there.

I will do a mini-taper this week since I’m due for an adaptation week anyway. Besides a tempo effort on Tuesday and turning Saturday into a long run, I’ll be taking things pretty easy which should (theoretically) allow me to catch up on some work!

Week in Review 1.18.15 to 1.24.15

Monday: 5.25 miles with 3 by 5 minutes at tempo. Legs afterward.

Tuesday: 4.2 mile recovery run. Arms after.

Wednesday: Off day.

Thursday: 6.3 mile progression run with hip core afterward.

Friday: Full workday plus our biggest MMU Pursuit ever! Lots of running around the course but no real run. Up for 22 hours…

Saturday: 9.5 mile long run. Flipping freezing out!!

Sunday: 7 miles with 10 by (1 minute hard, 1 minute easy) on the track. The hard sections were about 5:30 pace which I was psyched about. Legs after.

Total Miles: 32.2

Another solid week! I didn’t intend to take two days off but with the Pursuit on Friday, there was a ton of administrative work to do that meant I was up later than I wanted to be on a couple of occasions. Despite that, I fit in three quality efforts, plenty of strength work and another > 30 mile week. I also did much better on bringing my own food for the week which made me feel a lot better than eating cafeteria food (even if our cafeteria food at UVMMC is pretty amazing).

I’m at the end of the Surgery clerkship tunnel, with the oral boards and national shelf coming up at the end of this week. I should then have another hour in the morning which is just awesome. Hoping to push my mileage up towards the 40s as that happens. Also trying to figure out my racing schedule for February and leaning towards getting both my 3K indoor race in and the 7K snowshoe race as part of the All Terrain Runner series. I haven’t done this series before but with lots of different events that I would otherwise not enter, it seems like a great idea for a year where I don’t have the optimal training schedule.

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?

Why I Race Without A Watch

There’s an adage in medicine that instructs one not to do a study if it isn’t going to change the management of the disease or illness. Will and I often joke about this in our everyday life as well, in part because learning the art of medicine is basically our sole focus right now and in part because it’s actually good life advice. The same logic explains why I almost always race without a watch. When I race, save for the first mile, I’m giving it what I have on that day so how does checking my watch change my “management”?

I always used to wear a watch in races and for longer races, often wrote paces out on my wrist or forearm to “keep on track.” As I started to get faster and aim higher, however, one of my good friends (who also happens to be a multiple time All-American etc) and training partners suggested that I try racing without a watch. I made a deal with him that I would try it for one race, the Downtown 10K in 2012, and ended up running a big 10K PR AND feeling great about my race. From then on, I started racing without a watch and worked on trusting my body.

Of course, it’s hard to run any race completely blind because most big races have a clock at least at the first mile and often every couple of miles as was the case in Philly. For me, my memory of course clocks is a good subjective measure of how a race is going or went. The first time I ran Philly, I barely remember any race clocks except for the first two because the markers were way off and the clock at mile 10, This time, I can remember almost every fl*pping clock on the course because I was that miserable. Your watch can operate in the same way, especially if it’s a Garmin. While this can be valuable feedback, it can also create a situation where you aren’t as tuned into your body as you are to your wrist.

The only situation where I think a watch can be very useful is the runner who struggles with going out too fast. Almost none of my girls race with a watch, although many wear their watch because they are used to having them on their wrist. One of my athletes, however, ended up using her watch this fall after we realized that she was taking it out WAY too fast. The outcome? She ended the season with some incredible performances once she learned to use her watch to slow her first mile down. For me, the 5K is the most tempting race to go out too fast in because it doesn’t seem that long. Take it out 10 or 15 seconds too fast, however, and you’ll pay for it dearly in the home stretch. For this reason, I do often wear a watch in a 5K if only to check my pace at the mile marker.

Do you race with a watch? Why or why not?