Category Archives: running buddies

Hello Asheville

I’m about a week away from moving to Asheville and I should be packing. Instead, I’m researching places to run, races to jump into and ways to find new running friends in Asheville. Sigh. Can’t teach an old (running) dog new tricks. My schedule for the next few years will be much less predictable than it is now, so my basic approach is to try to identify every possible race in the area, write them in my calendar then register as I know my schedule! Will this lead to top performances in every race?  Of course not. What it will accomplish, however, is a general fitness base that can hopefully parlay into a few outstanding performances a year.

Luckily for me, Asheville is a well developed running town and there are lots of group runs and races to get involved in. I joined the Asheville Track Club last night so that I can be a part of the 2017 Grand Prix (although I won’t be able to get 10 races in to be eligible for overall awards this year) and I’m considering connecting with the Asheville Running Collective which seems like an Asheville version of Olde Bones. I was also excited to find the Carolina Runner blog, which is an amazing resource of events all over the area.

When I get to Asheville next week, my first order of business after unpacking is to get an Annual Pass to the Biltmore, where there are 22+ miles of relatively flat trails to train on. Also on my list is a membership to the North Carolina Arboretum (10 miles of trails) and exploring the Bent Creek Trails.  I’m also looking forward to exploring more of the Mountains to Sea trail and to finding my daily routes from the new house!

Here’s to new adventures!

Week in Review 1.16.17 to 1.22.17

Wherein I put together an almost reasonable week of training!

Monday: 4 mile campus loop with 2 laps of ins and outs. Arms in afternoon.

Tuesday: 6 mile workout on Roanoke River Trail. 10 by 1 on/1 off. Felt at little clunky but happy to be in shorts! Legs and core afterward.

Wednesday am: 4 miles with perhaps the kindest resident ever, who met me at my hotel at 4:30 am. He’s a big runner too but still…super nice. We had a great chat about balancing training and residency and I finished the run much more encouraged that I could do both.

Roanoke Star on top of Mill Mountain

Thursday: 3 mile campus loop with Will, super easy. Arms after.

Friday: 6 miles on treadmill with 3.5 at tempo effort. Legs after.

Saturday: 3.5 miles super easy around campus. Downhill skied in the morning.

Sunday: 10 mile run and a few runs of downhill skiing.

Total Mileage: 36.6

As we’re just barely into the new year and I’m just figuring out how to make my new goals work, I made a checklist on my whiteboard downstairs to track how I’m doing with all my various goals. I used to do this on paper in college for workouts and loved being able to check things off throughout the week.


I did a great job getting runs and strength training in this week. Foam rolling and nutrition, however, need some work. Some of this was travel related but I need to do a better job of planning so that I can hit these goals. Morning running was relatively successful; the days when I didn’t run in the morning were more because I didn’t have to so I’m willing to be flexible on that until I go back on service in February.

I’ll be bumping my mileage up to 45 this week with a 12 mile long run, a long hill repeat stamina run and fast paced repeats on the treadmill. As a bonus, I have NO travel scheduled this week. Wahooo!! I also found out that I was selected to be an Ambassador for Lumo Run and cannot wait to start tracking my biometrics. Lots more on that opportunity and all my sponsorship plans for 2017 soon. PSSST, want a coupon for $10 off your own Lumo Run? Use code “SM10” at checkout!

Race Report: Fallen Leaves 5K #3 2016

While this race wasn’t my best time (or even best effort), I will remember it as one of my favorites because I got to race with my girls instead of just cheering them on from the sidelines. I didn’t go into the race well-rested; travel back from Rochester was rough and I ended up being awake for almost 36 hours by the time I went to bed on Friday morning. I barely ran during the week so I decided it would just be an adaptation week and I would go into the race with a positive mindset. Regardless, it wasn’t pouring rain (although it was cold), so it was an upgrade from my past two races.

After an extended warm-up without the girls (diesel engine over here) and then our regular warm-up routine, we revealed our awesome new singlets and started behind a few other high school boys and other area men. One of my favorite things about this race is that you do the first two laps on a kitty litter track so you can calibrate your pace. Our first lap was an 82 and I said out loud to the girls with me “WHOA we need to slow down.” My/our goal was to be around 19 so that was a little hot. We went through the 800 at 3:04, which was a much more appropriate pace.

Squad Up!

Squad Up!**

As we hit the grass, I felt good and stretched out a little to find a rhythm. We made the first sharp turn onto the bike path and I went through the mile at 6:10 on the nose. Another woman caught up to me at this point and although I tried to stay with her, my legs felt more like lead than I’d anticipated. We rolled along the bike path and picked people off, made it around the 180 degree turn and headed back towards the school. These 180 turnarounds KILL me. I came to almost a complete stop and it took me a few seconds to get back into my groove. The woman I was running with got away from me here and I couldn’t make contact with her again.

A little past 2 miles, the wheels a-coming off the bus.

A little past 2 miles, the wheels a-coming off the bus.

I ran my second mile in 6:02 and mentally tried to gear up for the last mile. I felt like I was moving well on the bike path but when we got to the last sharp turn back onto the grass, my form went from collected to…terrible. It had warmed up enough that the grass was soft but wet and slippery and I got the oddest cramp in my forearms and felt like they weren’t moving at all. I just kept my eyes on the people ahead of me and trudged forward. We hit the track for the final 100 meters and I saw the clock ticking towards 19 but couldn’t find any turnover to get there. My third mile was a 6:18 and I crossed at 19:09 as second woman.

A rare decent finishing shot!

A rare decent finishing shot!

The upside? I can still beat my girls and I’m still improving every week! The downside? I’m a little frustrated with my third mile. I think it’s mostly a lack of specific fitness but my turnover is just nonexistent at this point. I’ll get a chance to race again this Thursday and will hope to continue to improve. I’m still waiting to hear what the new course will be for the First Run 5K but am planning on that as my next “goal” 5K.

**We are super lucky to have a parent who is also a professional photographer. He takes HUNDREDS of pictures at every race, shares them for free with our team and this time, I’m one of the lucky beneficiaries. If you are local and need sports, family or senior pictures, I can’t recommend Phil enough.

The Comparison Trap

The other day, one of my girls said, “I’m in a pain hole and I can’t get out!” We spend a lot of time on our team working to push ourselves when you reach that fork in a race where you can either choose to blast through the pain tunnel or stay where it’s safe and (more) comfortable. She excels at getting into the pain tunnel but post-race can be just plain miserable for her; when she crosses the line, that’s all she has and we end up carrying her back to the tent. As much as we giggled about her pain hole comment (and her question about whether she still had arms), I found myself thinking about it this week as I checked my email for the fifteenth time looking for interview invites (for residency), checked an online message board for the interviews others were getting and scrolled through Instagram looking at everyone’s seemingly amazing training and racing posts. I realized that I’m caught in a comparison trap and I can’t get out. 

There’s a saying about never knowing about the rocks that other people carry and I think social media exacerbates this in a way. Despite knowing that social media is highly curated, it’s hard to avoid the creeping sensation that everyone else is running faster, doing more and generally better than you. For me, daily posts by other runners that include phrases like #neverstop #workharder #rundaily don’t inspire me, they discourage me. I’m nowhere near lazy; I’m busy coaching a team, applying to residency, and keeping life going but if I’m not killing my workouts (or even really interested in doing them), I feel like a failure by the time I’ve done my first internet scroll in the morning. I’m not sure what the solution is but I definitely need to start the process of building a ladder or find some teammates to carry me back to the tent to regroup.

How do you react to the comparison trap? Have you tried a social media hiatus? What is it about social media that makes us automatically filter our lives?

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.

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?

The Plan for 2016

  1. Gain more race experience. As I reflected on 2015, I continued to notice race outcomes that might have been improved if I’d had more race experience. For example, after the start delay in Philly, I just continued my race plan of going out at 6:05 pace. What I SHOULD have done is go out a bit slower until I felt warmed up, then geared up towards my goal pace. I’m getting off on the right foot by racing today but will work on this goal by racing at least once every month this year. These don’t have to be big or long races; the goal is to put myself in a race situation so that I continue to add tools to my toolbox that can help with every race situation.
  2. Continue to build strength. I’m 32 and thus facing the sad reality that all my muscle mass wants to do now is disintegrate. I did a good job of establishing and maintaining strength routines in 2015 and want to continue that momentum. To do that, I have started to write down moves and routines that I really like or that really challenge me on our whiteboard in the gym. My goal is to do 4 sessions of strength training a week. In the past, I’ve separated these into arms, legs, and core days but for 2016, I’ll start experimenting with doing more “full body” approaches. I am likely to keep one day as legs only after my hardest workout of the week. One of the full body routines I’m curious about is this one that Nike shared on Runner’s World. At first glance, it doesn’t look difficult but my guess is that it will lead to some VERY sore muscles.
  3. Address my hip and lower back pain/inflexibility. Erin and I talk all the time about how we need to stop complaining about our back pain and hip pain and deal with it, but the reality is that with jobs that put us in weird positions (retracting on a step stool for 6 hours, anyone?) or sitting through epic conference calls (her world, not mine anymore!), it’s really hard to make headway. Not to mention, busy schedules that leave us with 45 minutes total for exercise find us heading for the roads rather than our yoga mats. The problem with that is that tight hips and backs affect those 45 minutes on the road and set us up for poor performances, bad workouts and sometimes injury. This year, I’m committing to 20 minutes of yoga a week. I’ll be doing it on a recovery run day and doing 20 minutes of yoga after an easy 25 minute run.
  4. Maintain my fitness base. We finish third year in March, take another set of boards in May, apply for residency in August and interview for November and December. Given this, I don’t have the highest expectations for huge personal improvements in running over 2016. That being said, I would really like to run a fast marathon at the Vermont City Marathon in 2017 (or aim to get my Trials Qualifier as soon as the window opens, presumably in August of 2017) so I need to maintain my fitness base as much as possible over the next year. To do this, I’ll be aiming for 2,800 miles in 2016 (approximately 55 miles a week). Here’s how my training will set up for most of 2016, with some exceptions when I have more time.

2016 Training

What are your hopes and dreams for 2016? Anyone have any target races or times already on the calendar?

Running Communities

I’ve been extremely lucky throughout my life to live in true running communities where there are plenty of places to run and people to run with. From Austin to Chapel Hill to Burlington, I’ve never struggled to find a place to run and clearly took that for granted. Over the last week, I’ve realized that having a place to run is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

Lewiston is definitely not a running town. Until today (when it was 65), I didn’t see a single runner. Zero. I’ve run on the bike path in town. I’ve run on the track. I’ve run through a ton of neighborhoods. And I’ve been completely alone. Cars aren’t exactly hostile, but not unlike Findlay, OH where I went for a disaster of a run a couple of years ago, they are certainly surprised to see the runner girl in neon with her ponytail swishing back and forth. The Hokas probably aren’t helping me. The roads and sidewalks here aren’t so great either. Even in the safe neighborhoods, sidewalks are broken up and uneven. Because it’s a rough town, I’ve also started running with pepper spray and my phone which significantly diminishes my zen of running. Better than not running, though.

Today, however, the Bates track was clear enough to run on and there were a few people out. I even had a “friend” who was doing 200s near where I was doing 300s. After I finished, he ran up to me and asked if I was “that 3K girl from Bates.” Flattering, but I am a long call from college and I hate the 3K. Regardless, we jogged some laps together and it turns out he was a sub4 miler back in the day from Mexico who ran for Cal State. Work brings him to Maine too and like me, his first act was to find his places to run. We complained about the sidewalks for a bit and then went our separate ways and on the way home, I found myself grateful for just a little runner connection.

The running community really is everywhere…

Guest Post: El Cajon St. Patrick’s Day Half Marathon

(You first met Suzanne a year ago. Since then, she moved across the country and kept spreading the #runlove. Lexy and Suzanne were scheduled to run the San Diego Half two weekends ago but as you’ll read below, sometimes you don’t even make it to the starting line. They ran a half this past weekend in the same heat that affected the L.A. Marathon and did an excellent job adjusting their goals to be safe and still have fun.)

Back in November my friend Lexy and I were chatting about what she wanted to do while her husband was deployed. This was his first deployment and we figured we should have a “deployment bucket list” of sorts. We decided we would sign up and train for the San Diego Half Marathon in March. We paid the race entry and dedicated ourselves to shorter weekday runs and a long run every Saturday. We ran every single weekend. We ran when I had a terrible cold, we ran when Lex could barely put weight on her foot, we even ran when we were on different coasts over Christmas break (Lexy wins the prize for that one – seven lonely miles around a snow covered track in Buffalo, NY). We prepped, we planned, we played around with meals and hydration strategies, we were 100% ready for race day and it was finally here. We had anticipated every obstacle and discussed anything that could go wrong during the race. What we didn’t predict was that we wouldn’t even get to start.

We woke up early on race day excited and nervous for the day ahead. We were on time (for the first time ever) to our friend’s house who so graciously rolled out of bed at 6am on a Sunday and drove us. Everything was going well – we were hydrating, we had our bag ready for gear check, and we were on the road in plenty of time. As we crested the top of the Coronado Bridge, we saw brake lights and came to a stop. Our first thought was that it must be some race traffic – we were only a few miles away from the start so maybe it was backing up a little. It quickly became clear that we weren’t moving at all. The clock said 6:09 when we stopped. At 6:30 we called 911 in case no one had. The dispatcher told us that highway patrol had both sides of the bridge closed due to a possible jumper. Unfortunately, this isn’t all that abnormal of an occurrence on this bridge but it never occurred to us to go the long way off the island just in case. An hour later we hadn’t completely lost hope; we were in a late wave and could still make it into the final wave if we moved in the next couple minutes. We didn’t move. As every minute passed we became more and more aware that we weren’t going to get to the race. We tried to keep everything in perspective; that the reason we were stopped on the bridge was for a far more significant crisis than missing a race. Even though we tried to think this way, we were still completely devastated. At 8:30 a highway patrolman helped all the cars make terrifying three point turns and head back to the island (Google the Coronado Bridge: not a place you want to be in reverse). Lex and I looked at the clock and knew we most likely wouldn’t be allowed to start if we got to the start line, but decided that if we didn’t try we would regret it. We arrived at the start line at 8:45 and there was not a person in sight. As we drove away defeated, we passed the party going on at the Finish Line a block away and started to cry. It was final. We weren’t going to finish our half; we weren’t even going to start it.

Driving over this when we arrived in San Diego remains one of the scariest moments of my life.

Driving over this when we arrived in San Diego remains one of the scariest moments of my life.

What happened that Sunday was so far out of our control that we never could have planned for it. The bridge didn’t re-open until 11am that morning. By that time, Lex and I were out running on the bike path near our house. As we ran we talked about how disappointed we were, how much we could never have predicted this, and how we go forward. We decided that we had to sign up for another half – as soon as possible, regardless of the cost. We signed up for the El Cajon St. Patrick’s Day Half Marathon scheduled for just a week later.

We approached this race a little differently. Our goal was no longer to finish the race, but to start it! We did start it (although there was an incident on the course that delayed the start for 15 minutes) and we finished it! It was not an easy race day. San Diego County saw record-breaking heat for March (El Cajon was in the 90s) and the course was very hilly with no shade. We had driven the course the day before and knew there was a hill from mile eight to mile ten. Around mile six we were really starting to feel the heat and knew we still had a huge hill ahead of us. We slowed way down to make sure we could make it the rest of the way and tried to keep our bodies cool by dumping water over our heads at every water stop. We crossed the finish line a little later than planned but it didn’t matter, we were still proud! Although it wasn’t the best introduction to the half marathon for Lexy, she was already strategizing for “the next one” before the race was over.

Looking great!

Looking great!

The El Cajon St. Patrick’s Day Half Marathon was much smaller than the San Diego Half Marathon but it was still well run. The course was hilly and hot but well staffed and there were lots of water stations. There were almost no spectators which made for a lonely stretch but the finish line had lots of people and live entertainment cheering us through the last mile.

It certainly wasn’t the easiest way to run a half marathon but the best news of the last two weeks was that the San Diego Half Marathon deferred our entry to 2016 so we will get to race next year! In the meantime, we’ll keep running here in beautiful San Diego!

Two happy finishers.

Two happy finishers.

Congratulations Kath and Derek!

Katherine has been one of my bestest running buddies since moving back to Burlington. Her brother ran at St. Lawrence with Will and when she and I met, it was mutual adoration at first run. We’ve run through everything and on every big day of our lives. A 10 miler in the snow and ice and near miss with the snow plow the morning before I got engaged. An hour on the indoor track as we picked my wedding day and fussed over wedding details we’d never even considered. The run ON my wedding day to keep me sane. The otherwise normal run when she casually mentioned she’d “met someone” and thought he “might be the one.” The run when she told me he WAS the one. A million and a half miles later, I get to celebrate her marriage to Derek today!

Snuggling as always, minutes before I got engaged.

Snuggling as always, minutes before I got engaged. She’s an excellent secret keeper.

Patiently doing 9 million buttons on my dress, which may explain why she opted for a zipper on hers...

Patiently doing 9 million buttons on my dress, which may explain why she opted for a zipper on hers…

The bride and groom, moments after THEY got engaged.

The bride and groom, moments after THEY got engaged.