Category Archives: Vermont

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 would ultimately bite 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 have multiple turns and full circles 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.

 

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.

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!

Week in Review 12.26.16 to 1.1.17

Hard to believe another year has gone by! I ended 2016 with 2,216 miles and will be honest that I’m surprised I got that many in. It was a VERY chaotic year for training. I lived in Connecticut, Illinois and North Carolina for 14 of 52 weeks this year and spent October through December in the airport in three time zones and over a half dozen states. This past week, however, I had the pleasure of being at home and it was SO nice to sleep in my own bed and hang out with my dogs.

Monday: 8.5 mile outdoor run featuring wind and ice pellets. Not pleasant!

Tuesday: Super active day! Nordic skied at Sleepy Hollow then downhill skied at Bolton then did a fartlek workout on the treadmill. 7.5 miles total with 2 by (5 minutes at T, 4 minute recovery, 3 minutes at I, 2 minute recovery, 1 minute at R, 1 minute recovery). Legs after.

Wednesday: Easy ski in the morning and 5 mile recovery run.

Thursday: 45 minutes of continuous nordic skiing in the morning and a few runs at Bolton in the evening.

Friday: 8 mile tempo workout. 4 by 5 minutes at T pace.

Saturday: Downhill skied all day.

Sunday: Downhill skied all day.

Total Miles: 29 miles

I’ll write more about this in tomorrow’s post but this week was rock bottom in terms of motivation and prompted me to look back over my training log only to realize that I haven’t taken a break longer than one day since November of 2014. Which, if you’re counting, is over two years ago. I’ve been running and training for so long (sometimes I joke that running is like brushing my teeth, I don’t even notice that I do it) that I lost track of the biggest picture of periodization. At the same time, I bought a downhill pass to our local mountain and found myself BOUNDING out the door to alpine ski every day. I love being outdoors and active…I just wasn’t loving running because I’ve been aimlessly doing it for two years chasing my goals.

So, I took the pressure off and skied a bunch this week and it was AWESOME. Our big storm didn’t manifest and we’re heading for a meltdown this week but I’m off for another big set of travel so it shouldn’t affect me too much either way.

It Ain’t About How Hard You Hit (Olympic Trials 2020)

It ain’t about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. 

I’ve talked about it here before although not in great detail, but Philly 2015 and my failure to make the Olympic Trials or even break 1:20 did significant damage to my running soul. I’m still not sure I’ve recovered as evidenced by my lack of…caring during races but I’m starting to feel a bit more life since the 2020 Standards were released this past weekend. The full standard will be 2:45 and opens September 1, 2017, which is what it was relaxed to at the end of the window this past year. The half standard was lowered to 1:13 and doesn’t open til 2018. Aka, I’ll be going for the full standard.

When I asked Will on Sunday if I had a chance, he didn’t miss a beat and said, “without a doubt.” He’s generally pretty honest, so I allowed myself a little hope and even decided that I’ll run the New Bedford Half Marathon this spring as part of an extended build-up. My goal isn’t to PR but to start getting some long distance specificity back. I can’t pick a goal race or even a window yet until I know 1) where I’m doing residency and 2) what my schedule looks like for PGY 1 and 2 but I’m officially putting it out there as a big, scary goal.

Sometimes I forget how far I’ve come in the marathon amidst some disappointments, but here’s my trajectory AND what I’ll need to qualify.

  • City of Oaks 2008 3:17:35 (7:32)
  • Rock’nRoll 2009 Las Vegas 3:15:51 (7:28)
  • Boston Marathon 2011 3:11:18 (7:18)
  • Vermont City Marathon 2012 3:05:33 (7:04)
  • Vermont City Marathon 2013 2:58:28 (6:48)
  • Mohawk Hudson River Marathon 2014 2:54:38 (6:39)
  • Olympic Trials 2020 Standard 2:45 (6:17)

6 marathons, 23 minutes off and a drop in pace of 57 seconds. For a 2:44:30, I’ll need to drop 10 more minutes and 23 seconds per mile. It seems wholly insurmountable now, but we all have to start somewhere, right? I don’t anticipate doing it all in one bite; it seems more realistic to aim to get under 2:50 first and then take the final stab after that.

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.

Race Report: Halloween Hustle 5K 2016

For better or worse, I’m getting good at racing in the pouring rain and high 30s! Saturday morning was gray with moderate drizzle…until I started my warm-up when I got totally soaked. Since this was a Halloween race, I tried to get in the spirit without ruining my stride and had the unfortunate idea to rock a cotton Superman shirt. Red bunhuggers topped off my look and yes onlookers, I was cold.

Me and Pre, prerace. Yes, he always makes that face.

Me and Pre, prerace. Yes, he always makes that face.

I didn’t get back from Asheville until 11 pm and when my alarm went off at 7:30, I almost scrapped the idea but since I was registered and awake, I dragged my butt out of bed and got dressed. I was at the race site by 8:30 and the race went off at 9 am, leaving my with just enough time to jog a couple of miles and do a strider up the sidewalk. Right before the race, I asked Joe was his plans were and he said he was hoping for a 5:40 first mile. This comes into play shortly…

The start was a bit hilarious as the airhorn misfired and we took a step out, then came back to start again. We rolled out in the pouring rain and I was a few steps behind Joe and Adam and with Tim, Francis and Todd. We quickly separated from the rest of the group and headed out into the neighborhood loop. Since I thought Joe was running a 5:40 mile, I settled in behind him and felt super comfortable which probably should have been a sign that something was amiss. There were no mile markers, so I just went on time and assumed that I’d crossed mile 1 around 6 minute pace given where I was off Joe and Adam.

The first mile rolls uphill but each hill is followed by either a downhill or a flat for recovery, making it a great course to move on. Tim and I separated from Francis and Todd but worked together for the rest of the race, a needed boost in the pouring rain. Once we got to the top of the hills, we picked up the pace and started to hammer down the hills and float on the flats. I focused on keeping Adam in sight until we took a series of tight course turns and there weren’t any straight stretches to get back in contact. Around this time, I also stepped in a river running down the street and soaked myself up to my shins.

For the second two miles (again, no markers, so I was just guessing on time), I just focused on pressing the pace. When I got to 12 minutes, I picked it up again and worked on convincing myself that I had the fitness to do so. Unlike last week, I found it a lot easier to find that next gear and hold it. My only big mistake was that I didn’t know the course so I wasn’t sure when we were getting near the final turn. Tim did, however, and shot by me with 200 meters to go. I crossed the line at 19:22, very happy to no longer need to drag my cotton shirt along with me!

After the race, I was a tiny bit disappointed that my time wasn’t faster but then found out our splits from Tim. Mile 1 was 6:39, Mile 2 was 6:06 and Mile 3 was 5:49. Turns out, Joe had decided to run the first mile on heartrate and ran a 6:16 instead of a 5:40. We all gave him considerable grief about this! The upside is that I felt so good in the second two miles and was able to push hard. I do think I could have had a similar progression with a slightly faster first mile so that’s a lesson for me to be attuned to BOTH my perceived effort and what others are doing.

Not a lot of female company out there.

Not a lot of female company out there.

Overall, I was happy with a race well executed in crummy conditions and feel like I’m starting to remember how to race again. I also cannot recommend the course enough. It is a certified 5K course and has an awesome combination of hills, downhills and straightaways. I would LOVE to race it again when a) I’m in better shape and b) the weather is a little more favorable because I think it is definitely a PR course.

Good Eats: Fall Favorites

I think it’s virtually impossible to live in New England and not have a moderate obsession with all things Fall. From incredible foliage (this year was spectacular) to the crisp air, as the nights get cooler, I am all about fall flavors and recipes. Here’s what I tried from Pinterest this week.

Apple Gouda Stuffed Chicken: This was a slightly fancier chicken dish that I did a trial run of thinking that it would make a good dinner party option. It tastes great but the presentation isn’t that pretty, so if I were to make it again, I’d try to come up with something to make it fancier. On the list is a complimentary rub or poultry string to hold it together and give it a dinner party appropriate look.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burger: Ah, the hunt for the perfect homemade veggie burger continues. I love veggie burgers and am always looking for one to make at home that is healthy AND holds together. These were delicious but unfortunately, they just didn’t hang together as well as I wanted with pan cooking. When I make them again, I’ll do an initial bake in the oven to warm everything then do a flash pan fry in canola oil to make the outsides crispy and keep the burgers together.

Butternut Squash and Cranberry Quinoa Salad: Nom, nom, nom. In terms of fall flavors and powerhouse ingredients, it doesn’t get much better than this. I couldn’t find (and don’t particularly like) pumpkin seeds, so I substituted raw sunflower seeds instead and it was equally crunchy and delicious.

Moroccan Chickpea Quinoa Power Salad: The absolute hit of the week. I am OBSESSED with this salad and want to make it every day. I cooked up some chicken breast and added it in for a complete meal. Since I had sunflower seeds leftover from above, I substituted those for pistachios and of course used maple syrup instead of honey for the dressing. I thought this salad was perfection as it was but Joe thought it was a little sweet for his taste so on my next rendition, I may add in just a touch of rice vinegar to cut the sweetness for my picky testers. Seriously, make this salad ASAP. It is life changing.