Category Archives: running

Giveaway: Marathon Woman

There are few running scenes more recognizable than that of Katherine Switzer being forcibly removed from the Boston Marathon course. With the help of fellow runners, she was able to fight back and finish the race, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon and an undeniable marker of women’s coming of age in running. When Switzer ran Boston again this year, it was in her original bib 261 and was one of my favorite moments of the day. I even told the story to my non-running colleagues in the SICU and they too celebrated as she crossed the line again.

I was thrilled, then, when the publisher of her new book offered me a copy of Marathon Woman and a copy to share with others!! I haven’t finished the book yet but it is an inspiring read that I would recommend to all runners. 

Enter to win by Sunday May 21st at 11:59 and I will select a winner on Monday. There are three ways to enter and you get a chance to win from each:

  1. Comment here on your favorite Boston Marathon moment.
  2. Head to my Instagram (@runswatrun), find this Giveaway Post and comment there on what running means to you.
  3. On the Giveaway post, tag three friends who inspire you to move daily.

Do one or do all three for three chances to win! Winner will be chosen via random number generator. 

Race Report: Sleepy Hollow Mountain Race

1:01:56, 18th Woman.

First and foremost, I am a road runner and spend very little time on trails (although I would like that to change in the coming years as we’re moving to an epic trail running town!). That said, I LOVE playing around in the woods and am wholly entertained by sliding sideways through mud and skittering along cliff edges. Despite moments of frustration yesterday, I had a complete blast getting out of my comfort zone and up some big hills at Sleepy Hollow.

Before I recap, let’s take a flash back to my last trail race and the areas of improvement I identified after that adventure.

  1. Learn how to tackle downhills.
  2. Don’t give up time on the easy parts.
  3. Tie your shoes tightly and learn how to cross rivers/mud.
  4. Know when to hold em, know when to fold em.

Coming into yesterday, my goals were simple: finish, keep both shoes on and try to apply lessons from last year’s Rivah. I actually spend a fair amount of time at Sleepy Hollow in the winter on skis but had literally never seen it without snow until yesterday. That said, I knew it featured some super gnarly singletrack and set a goal of 10 minute pace overall to balance the faster grass sections with the singletrack. Other than that, I didn’t have any plans, hopes or dreams.

The weather was perfect for a trail race with temps in the low 40s with just a touch of drizzle. We were well protected in the woods from wind but I suspect spectating wasn’t a ton of fun. Will and I ran the last 2 mile chunk of the course as a warm-up and although it was technical, it featured an amazing last mile of downhill and flat with good footing so I hatched a plan to use this place to move up if my legs allowed it.

This was the largest Sleepy Hollow Mountain Race (300 runners) ever and since I’m no trail runner, I positioned myself midpack for the start. When the horn sounded, people shot off while I jogged up the first incline. Since I didn’t know what to expect, my plan was to take it easy on the first ascent and see how I did. Even at that easy pace, I was breathing hard by about 5 minutes in. We turned onto a lovely singletrack and since we were still densely packed, this gave me time to calm my breathing and settle in. One of the best parts of this race was that it was either up or down and once you survived a climb, you knew you had a lot of recovery coming. After we crested the first hill, I felt good and started on the downhill. And people started STREAMING by me. Apparently my downhill skills have not really improved since last year…With rocks and roots and mud and leaves, I just wasn’t comfortable sending it and just did my best as what seemed like half the field went by me.

We then hit a long section of flat to downhill packed gravel/grass and I found my tempo effort and went. This awareness was a HUGE improvement from last year and was something I was able to do throughout the race. As we reached the bottom of this trail and the lowest point of the course, the hardest climb (for me) began. It started as a mudslide uphill that was nearly impossible to run, so I stayed to the side of the trail and powerhiked. (Look at all this learning!) Then after another short section of wide gravel/grass , we turned onto a switchback heavy singletrack where you could see so far up the ridgeline that the leaders were visible. Mentally and physically taxing, this was probably the hardest part of the course for me, especially when we hit the mile 3 marker and I realized I wasn’t even half done. Towards the top of this section, we saw Darth Vader and traversed a sketchy little cliff section where I literally grabbed a tree as I second guessed my footing. We went up over the absolute top of the land (another powerwalk hill) and finally headed down towards the start/finish area and the final loop.

This downhill and flat section offered a great opportunity to settle back into tempo effort and I felt strong and in control. Cruising past Will at the beginning of the third loop, I focused on my form with driving knees and turnover and felt super confident in my ability to tackle the third loop. After all, I’d already run it and it wasn’t THAT bad. Ha. As we turned onto the singletrack portion (most of which is at a 28% grade), I found myself struggling to powerwalk, let alone run. The only reason I wasn’t completely devastated was that literally everyone else around my was powerwalking too. Turns out that what might seem easy on a warm-up is a bear after 4.5 miles of racing. When we finally reached the top of that climb, I forced myself back into a jog and carefully watched footing then rejoiced when we hit the gravel/grass road descent. As I’d planned on my warmup, I clicked into tempo pace and started moving towards home. I was able to pass two people and caught up to the woman whom I’d passed on every uphill but who decimated me on the downhills. As we worked up the last hill, I realized I wasn’t sure what the etiquette was for kicking it in at a trail race and felt like maybe, that wasn’t cool. I stayed a couple steps behind her as we finished up and crossed the line at 1:01:56.

All in all, I’m so happy with the way this turned out. I wanted to get a solid effort in, have some fun in my last race in Vermont for a while and see if I could apply what I’d learned from my last trail race. I did a great job of keeping both shoes on, powerwalking when appropriate and running fast where it was possible. My downhills, however, still leave a lot to be desired. There’s always next time!

 

Week in Review 4.24.17 to 4.30.17

MEDICAL SCHOOL IS OVER!!!!!!! Finished up my last shift in the SICU on Friday and when it was done, wasn’t sure if I was supposed to spike my badge, fist pump through the halls or run out of the building. Med school was never as bad as I expected it to be but I would never, ever want to do it again. Sorry, not running related but good riddance!

Monday: Tested out the ankle with a 30 minute trail run. All good, although I was being a wimp on the more technical portions. Legs after.

Tuesday: Simple treadmill fartlek with 10 by 1 minute on, 1 minute off. On pace was somewhere between MP and tempo.

Wednesday: Got out of the unit early and snuck in a 13 mile long run. Did a couple of miles alternating between regular pace and MP to shake out lazy legs.

Thursday: Rest Day, prorated at 4. Much needed after three days that were harder than easy in a row.

Friday: 7.6 miles easy. 82 degrees out so I felt terrible! Arms afterward.

Saturday: 3 mile shakeout. Ran to the track and back, then a mile of ins/outs.

Sunday: Sleepy Hollow Mountain Race.  Remember the last time I ran a trail race? My only goal for this morning was to use some of my lessons from last year’s Rivah. My biggest goal was to keep both shoes on, which I did! I’ll recap the rest in a Race Report tomorrow but I had a blast, stayed upright and finished somewhere around 1:01:50, although I don’t know what place I was.

Total Miles: 44 miles, 2 strength workouts

Total April Miles: 153

Going up…

Now that school is done and I have a couple of months off, I’m looking forward to getting in some more consistent training. I’ll slowly be increasing my mileage towards 55 and working on fitting three explicit strength workouts in weekly (plus my daily toothbrush squats/core etc). My next race focus is the Asheville Half Marathon. I haven’t honed in on goals yet but as I get back into workouts, I’ll be setting my A, B and C goals. I also spent a lot of time putting all sorts of possible races on my calendar for the next year. Although I don’t have my call schedule, I’m hoping that I can just keep myself in good enough shape to jump in races as I can!

 

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!

Weeks in Review: 4.10.17 to 4.23.17

When time is short, write up two weeks of training at once!

4/10/17 to 4/16/17

Monday: 5 mile recovery run. Feeling Unplugged now!

Tuesday: 7 mile run at the crack of dawn.

Wednesday: Planned off day.*

Thursday: Fartlek workout, 5 miles.

Friday: 2.5 mile early morning run.

Saturday: 12 mile long run.

Sunday: 4 mile trail run, most of which was spent sideways in mud.**

Total Miles: 35.5

4/17/17 to 4/23/17

Monday: 4.5 mile run plus striders.

Tuesday: 7.5 mile fartlek. 2 by mile uphill at t pace. 5 by 45 seconds hard uphill.

Wednesday: 2.5 mile early am run.

Thursday: Planned off day. Arm routine. 

Friday: 2.25 shake out run with 4 by minute at tempo pace, 2 by 30 seconds at interval pace.

Saturday: Off. Ankle. ***

Sunday: Off. Ankle.***

Total Miles 20.5

1 decent week, 1 not so decent week. I have 1 (how?!!?!??!) week of medical school left now and am so excited for a few weeks where all I have to do is pack, move and train.

* As I mentioned on my Instagram earlier this week, I have decided to schedule an off day every week. My recovery has been really poor over the past year and as much as I want to pretend my life is set up for optimal training, it’s not and I have to do what I can to maximize my training impact. As such, I’ll be taking a day off each week instead of a day every other week.

** This run was absurdly muddy and my ankles were sore after which I think set me up for an ankle twist later in the week.

*** I wear clogs in the SICU and usually, they + compression socks are the most comfortable thing going. On Friday, however, I was a little overzealous when wandering around in them and tweaked my ankle. It didn’t swell too badly but was sore bearing weight on Friday night so I decided to forego the Rollin Irish Half Marathon and rest instead.

The weather is beautiful, I’m ready to train again and I’m so looking forward to getting back in a groove and looking forward to the Asheville Half!

Race Report: Unplugged Half Marathon 2017

First race of 2017 done!

When I came into 2017, I had planned on making Unplugged a focus event for the spring but then life got in the way and it ended up being a workout/rust buster/engine check. My A goal was to break 1:30, my B goal was to be under 1:32. My (unstated) C goal was to finish and not get injured, which was not a forgone conclusion. I came in at 1:31:54 and felt pretty good, so mission mostly accomplished!

Despite living and training in Burlington for many years, this was my first year really running Unplugged. Until recently, it fell on Boston Marathon weekend and I was either running or going down to spectate or in the midst of VCM training. The race is truly unplugged; no awards, just water on the course, few spectators. All of this sets up for an awesome opportunity to get a good workout in without too much stress.

I was excited to have a chance to get a marker for moving forward for the Asheville Half and a fall full, but I was even more excited to see my dear friend Abbey who is my running buddy/confidante extraordinaire who was coming back to Burlington to race. Warming up with her and standing on the start line was enough to make the whole day worth it. She went on to kick ass and I can’t wait to work towards our next running (and life) goals together.

On race morning, the only piece I was worried about was the weather. The forecast called for snow, rain, windy and high 30s which is a tough temperature to dress for. While the mountains got anywhere from 4 to 9 inches of snow, Burlington was relatively dry but the start was COLD. I warmed up in two pairs of pants and two coats and for the first time ever, planned to race in full tights. Will tried to convince me to do a singlet and arm warmers but since he wasn’t at the start and I was being wimpy, I put a long sleeve on under my singlet which would ultimately turn out to be a big mistake.

The gun went off and we had a mile of out and back. I eased into the race and tried to resist the urge to chase after people. The first mile was distinctly uphill and conversely, when we turned, the second mile was downhill. I tried to stay in control but ended up running 7:03 and 6:49. I’m not sure if this second mile ultimately bit me in the butt but I did have to remind myself that I didn’t have the fitness to run that whole race in the 6:40s. The first few miles of the race had multiple turns and full circles through neighborhoods and it was hard to get into a rhythm. Miles 3, 4 and 5 were 6:50, 6:54 and 6:57. The 6:57 was the mile where I had to strip off my undershirt, a feat I accomplished without losing a step or falling down.

After mile 5, we turned onto the bike path and I was able to cruise a bit. Since the race started at 11, I was pretty hungry by the time we started and took my gel shortly after 6 in hopes that it would stave off a bonk. This seemed to work and Miles 6 and 7 were 7:02 and 7:03. I threw my gloves at another friend at mile 7 and was collected but definitely starting to feel some quad fatigue and quickly shed the idea of pushing the last 3 miles in favor of just staying consistent.

Mile 8 passed quickly in 7:03 and mile 9 was the downhill mile in 6:54. I was starting to get some confidence back after this but when we crossed into Waterfront Park, I came to what felt like a complete stop with stomach cramping and the worst GI distress of my life. I can generally tolerate gels without too much water but since I went into the day a tad dehydrated, I expect it sat like a brick in my stomach. I limped through mile 10 in 7:04 (no WAY was this race worth a GI disaster) and just hoped I could hang on for 3 more miles. Mile 11 passed in 7:07 with waves over the Causeway ala VCM 2013.  At least this time, the wind was at our back! Mile 12 was a mess and I alternated between smooth running and stomach saving pace, ending up with my slowest mile of 7:16. I was able to collect myself and ran mile 13 in 7:06 pace. I failed to stop my watch after crossing so have no idea what the last .1 was but I just tried to stay smooth and didn’t do much of a kick.

Is it easy to be excited about my second slowest half ever? Not really. Am I thrilled for the effort it took to accomplish my B goal? Yes! I have had a tough season of training and to be able to run a 1:32 comfortably off essentially no training is something even I have to begrudgingly be proud of. The best part, however, is that it left me hungry for more. I want to get back to being 10 minutes faster, to chasing that sub 1:20 and my Olympic Trials qualifier. I want to push my fitness forward. Onward and upward!

Week in Review 4.3.17 to 4.9.17

Monday: Kicked my own rear. 1.5 miles at tempo up the UVM Bike Path, 1 mile at T on the track and 2 by 200 all out (ha!) on the track. Did this full body lift and loved it!

Tuesday: 4 mile recovery run in the torrential rain. Quite miserable.

Wednesday: 2 miles easy plus round robin lift.

Thursday: Off day. Didn’t totally intend to do an actual off day but exhausted from my first week back in the ICU.

Friday: 3 mile shakeout run with 5 by 1 at MP, 5 by 1 at T Pace.

Saturday: 2 mile warmup then Half Unplugged at Steady State pace. Finished in 1:31:54. Super happy with my ability to do my workout and not overdo it despite two early miles that were probably too aggressive.

Sunday: 5.25 mile recovery run in 60 degree weather. Amazing!

Total Miles: 37.6

Quite pleased with this week. I started up in the SICU again this week (read, dead legs from all day standings) and still managed to get some reasonable training in including a huge workout yesterday at Unplugged. It was mentally challenging not to press as hard as I could but I was really happy to get a controlled tough effort in and am especially happy today as I’m tired but not trashed.

What I’m most excited about, however, is that I am much more interested in training again! I don’t know if it’s the weather or getting something like Unplugged under my belt, but I’m ready to get back into workouts and start the improvement cycle.

One thing I did differently this week was run after work. I have to be in by 5:30 and with our current schedules, it’s hard to go to bed early enough to get good sleep in time to get up at 3:30. Even with compression on, my legs were miserable but at least I got some runs done in the light! For this week, I’m going to try am workouts and see if it’s better.

One thing I didn’t do well at this week was hydration. It’s hard to drink enough water in the ICU because we can’t have water on our work stations and we spend a lot of time running around trying to keep critically ill patients safe. Every day this week, I would come home completely parched and realize that the only water I’d had was in my coffee. I need to prioritize drinking more water this week so I’m not so miserable by 6 pm.

 

Week in Review: 3.20.17 to 3.26.17

Monday: 5 mile workout, half power of my usual 5-4-3-2-1 fartlek. Legs felt pretty clunky. Lifted legs afterward.

Tuesday: 3.8 mile recovery run with the dogs.

Wednesday: 7 mile workout, 4 by 5 at tempo pace with 60 seconds between. Felt pretty good.

Thursday: 4.3 miles. Legs tired!

Friday: Hour of cross country skiing with the dogs; new snow and leaving for the weekend? Needed exhausted dogs.

Saturday: Travel to Asheville. Lots of walking but no run.

Sunday: 3 mile Asheville hill classic. Great to be back. Tons of walking as well.

Total Miles: 23.1

Lots of good news this week. First, I found a house!!!!!! My mom and I spent a busy 36 hours in Asheville looking for houses and by Sunday night, I found an amazing one. Interestingly, it was the smallest one I looked at but it used the space well, has a perfect location and is a great setup for dogs. One of other parameters I used to evaluate places was ability to run. Although the new house sits on top of a hill (it’s Ridge Street, after all), it has great access to all sorts of running and even a greenway that is under construction.

Second, I’m cleared to lift and workout fully (as tolerated). I saw my fabulous breast surgeon yesterday and she cleared me for all exercise AND the surgical pathology confirmed that I had a sclerosing papilloma which means that it was a benign tumor. All great news.

This week, I’m back to reality. As I said last week, Unplugged has gone from a race to a supported workout for me so I’m training through it. I have a combination workout on the schedule for tonight and a long run planned for Saturday. In between will be easy workouts, just trying to get a base underneath me.

 

Spring 2017 Racing Schedule

For many reasons, the last year has not been an optimal one for targeting races. From away rotations to interview travel to surgery, it’s been a whole lot of two steps forward, one step back. On top of that, I didn’t know where we were moving in May, so it was difficult to aim forward at any race. Now that I know we’re heading to Asheville however, I’m ready to plan!

I’m still not able to run a ton without discomfort so I had to adjust Unplugged from a goal race to a workout. I hate running races as workouts. First, I think it’s a cop out that people use. Second, I think that even if you’re not using it as a pre-made excuse, it’s difficult to execute your workout plan and not get caught up in the race. That being said, I’m going to try to make Unplugged a valuable workout although I haven’t decided if I’ll do a progression run or a steady state run.

After that, however, I’ll be gearing up for the Asheville Half in June. What better way to kick off life in my new city!! This is a hilly half and I expect it to be warm, so I’ll be adjusting my training to prepare for the hills and hope that I’ll have enough time to adjust to the heat.

April 8th: Unplugged Half Marathon

April 22nd: Rollin Irish Half Marathon (super hill, muddy race)

April 20th: Sleepy Hollow Mountain Race (Trail 10K)

June 3rd: Asheville Half Marathon

After Asheville, my first task is to adjust to a new town and build a good base and coming up with a training plan that allows me to get good workouts in AND be an intern.

Week in Review 3.13.17 to 3.19.17

Monday: 2 miles easy. Downhill skied.

Tuesday: 2.5 miles easy. Downhill skied again as Stella rolled in. Shoveled the first foot of snow in the evening.

Wednesday: Shoveled the second foot of snow (and the next 6 inches). Downhill skied in the most amazing powder ever.

Thursday: 3 mile run easy.

Friday: Match Day!

Saturday: 45 minute nordic ski at Catamount.

Sunday: 5.75 mile run outdoors.

Total Miles: 13.2

The first big news is that we Matched!!! We will be heading to Asheville NC and Greenville SC for our General Surgery and Emergency Medicine residencies respectively. We were incredibly lucky to interview at a whole host of amazing institutions and are looking forward to starting our careers in the Blue Ridge.

To see just how excited I was, here’s a great video my friend Jack got of the whole shebang:

We also got an INCREDIBLE snowstorm on Tuesday and Wednesday that dropped 30 inches on Burlington and an insane 58 inches at Bolton Valley, which is where I am lucky enough to have my pass. I spent the first three days of the week bombing around on my skis and Wednesday was easily the best day of skiing of my entire life.

I was also able to start doing some easy running this week. I was doing well and excited to get back to normal running…and then my steri-strips fell off which leaves my incision in direct contact with my sports bra. I did finally get 6 miles outdoors in today and although I felt 100% out of shape, it was good to get out there.

One of the nicest things about knowing where I’ll be for residency is being able to plan upcoming races! I now have my schedule set through June and have even been doing some longer range planning for my fall sub 2:50 marathon.

For this week, I’m trying to get back into regular training while also listening to my body. At this point, it’s clear that Unplugged is going to be a training run but I’m hoping to set myself up such that it can be a great workout as well.