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Back in November Rich and I purchased a Peloton bike. This wasn’t an impulse buy; we had been researching and saving up for about a year before we jumped on the bandwagon. Although I was definitely the one driving this purchase, it soon became clear that Rich loved the bike as much as I did (probably more). We bought the bike while training for the January Goofy Challenge and I figured that my marathon training would help my transition to cycling. Boy was I wrong!

I quickly realized that I was at the bottom of the leaderboard on every ride I did. For many of the popular “theme rides,” I simply couldn’t manage the targets that the instructors called out. I was particularly challenged by high resistance targets. I couldn’t pedal the bike at higher resistances and felt super frustrated by the process. Before our first week was out, I had cried in frustration several times and nearly gave up.

Luckily Rich discovered the power zone training programs on the bike. Power zone training seems to be the cycling equivalent of heart rate rraining. You take a test to determine your personalized metrics. In heart rate rraining you take a Lactate Threshold Test which allows you to set your heart rate zones and in power zone training it’s a Function Threshold Power Test which allows you to set your power zones. Heart rate training involves 5 heart rate zones and power zone training involves 7 power zones based on your output. Your FTP is supposed to measure the output you could maintain for 1 hour if you were riding at your maximum capacity.

The advantage to power zone training – especially for a novice rider like me – is that the classes ask you to ride in a specific zone rather than asking you to ride at a certain cadence/resistance. The instructor may specify a cadence but the amount of resistance you add on is totally dependent on your personalized power zones. So even though I’m still at the bottom of the leaderboard, I’m working as hard as someone at the top of the leaderboard. This allows me to have measurable improvements in my riding.

My initial FTP was a measly 59. This put me close to the bottom of the leaderboard on every ride. I learned to hide the leaderboard and just focus on my personal zones so I didn’t get discouraged. In January Rich convinced me to join the Power Zone Pack Challenge. Riders are assigned to team and are assigned 3 power zone rides per week. The 3 cores rides are “mandatory” to get your team points. Bonus rides can be done to earn extra points for your team. Points are not based on output but only based on completing each assigned ride. Team members “friend” each other on peloton and so there are lots of high fives given out.

After my first Challenge, I re-took my FTP test and went up to 67. The next challenge bought my FTP up to 73. And just this week as I’m finishing up my 3rd challenge, my FTP has increased to 82. That represents an almost 40% increase in my output over 7 months. I’m still not where I want to be but I hope as I continue to complete my challenge rides, I’ll see even more improvement!

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Although I’m super behind in my blogging, I’m trying to get caught up!

The morning after our Half Marathon it was time to run the full. We had been hearing about heat advisories and there was concern that the course might be shortened due to heat. Although Rich’s knee held up great for the half, we knew between the heat and his knee that we had to start slow and steady. Our plan was to start with run 20 sec/walk 40 sec intervals and decrease to 20/60 if needed.

We met up with friends before the start but decided to get to the corrals on the early side. Last minute nerves plus a lot of pre-hydration meant that I was hoping the fence for a quick pee in the woods before the start. Luckily this time I didn’t have as many burrs covering my body as usual!

The new course brought lots of crowding for the first few miles. Rich and I were both disappointed with how much extra walking we had to do because there wasn’t space to run. I didn’t think the trip into Epcot was fun at all and was happy to get back on the road toward the Magic Kingdom. The morning was already quite humid.

By the time we reached the Ticket and Transportation Center, I had already received a friendly text message warning that the course might get shortened. Luckily around that time we received some epic hugs from Stan and Pam! Nothing gives you a boost like seeing friends!!!!

The Magic Kingdom is one of my favorite places on Earth and there is nothing quite like running down Main Street USA early in the morning. And then you get to run through Cinderella’s Castle!

One nice thing about the full marathon is that the course opens up more than in the half. We got through Cone Alley and saw Stan and Pam again before heading off to Animal Kingdom by way of the sewage plant. Ah memories!

By this time the temps were climbing. Although we had some cloud cover, at times we were in full sun. We were taking care to hydrate and take salt tabs as we went. As we heading into Animal Kingdom, we saw the faster runners leaving. And we were lucky enough to see our speedy friend Michael. Although I always love to ride Expedition Everest, this was a race to get to the finish line. As we were leaving Animal Kingdom, it was starting to get hot. We also noticed that the balloon ladies and sweepers were entering the stretch into Animal Kingdom as we were leaving. (You can tell I’m starting to heat up!)

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On the way out of Animal Kingdom, we stopped at a medical tent to grab some tylenol for Rich. Although his knee wasn’t hurting much, we thought it was better safe than sorry. I also grabbed a bag of ice to try to keep cool. This caused a bit of worry because Rich had never seen me do that before. I reassured him that it was only a preventative measure! We shared the ice for the next mile or so. By this time it was getting HOT HOT HOT.

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And this is photo that Rich uses to remind me of why we aren’t running any more full marathons!

After Animal Kingdom we ran over to Blizzard Beach. We entered the parking lot and did a loop through the parking lot before making a quick jaunt into the park. The pathways were narrow and winding. Not ideal for marathon running. About 10 minutes after we entered Blizzard Beach, runDisney made the decision to cut the course. Runners after us did not enter Blizzard Beach at all. There was something worrisome about leaving the park and seeing an empty parking lot and the medical tent being taken down.

As we left the Blizzard Beach parking lot, we merged with the runners who were running the shortened course. This lead to huge crowding and made it difficult to run at all. We were hot at this point and happy to walk more than run. We tried to take some short runs when we could. The trip to Hollywood Studios was slow and hot and crowded. We did a short trip through Hollywood Studios before heading to the path to the Boardwalk area. This path was truly a death march. People were hot and tired and the crowding was so bad that you couldn’t run even if you wanted to. The path is about 2-3 across at best which cause frustration to those who were trying to run. We did a brisk walk – or as brisk as we could manage in the crowds – because trying to run seemed to a waste of energy.

When we hit the Boardwalk, we decided to do short run intervals. We would run from one landmark to the next and then take a walk break. We continued this strategy into World Showcase – at least until we met up with our dear friend Charlie’s daughter who was waiting for us in Germany with a cold beer in hand. A few minutes later as we were leaving World Showcase, other runDisney friends handed us a margarita. Seeing familiar faces (and maybe having a drink) galvanized us to the finish line!

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We met up with Charlie soon after the finish for some medal photos.

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And then it was time to celebrate. And cool off. The finish line temp was 86F with a real-feel of 91F. Definitely our hottest marathon ever. The medical tents were overwhelmed with runners suffering from heat disease. Although I’m glad we did all 26.2 miles, I think runDisney was smart to get people to the finish line quicker by cutting the course.

This was far from my fastest marathon but I’m very, very proud of how smart we ran. We started slow and slowed down more when the weather conditions called for it. I felt strong the whole way and I was happy with my training. A good way to finish!

Many months ago it seemed like a really fun idea to run the 2020 Goofy Challenge. Training wasn’t perfect but it went ok. We even did some “long walks” on the day before our longs runs. Rich’s knee was tweaked trying to do a long run on the treadmill and we were certainly distracted by the arrival of our Peloton Bike the weekend before Thanksgiving. But heading into Marathon Weekend our biggest concern weather. The Powers That Be were predicting the warmest marathon weekend ever and as Yankee Northerns, we were poorly prepared for this.

The morning of the Half Marathon was warm and humid. It’s funny because after the first 5 miles or so, I felt like the weather cooled off a bit until the sun came out. We planned a conservative 30/30 run/walk strategy with a goal to finish slower than 3 hours. I broke all the race rules and ran the half in a BRAND NEW running skirt. Luckily it’s a brand I’ve worn before and the fit was the same as others I have.

QHVLCLwvQpqKcjr2LbDd3gMy OR gown didn’t last long as it wasn’t chilly enough to need it!

mXEz59fnTBWfVBBTTE7tGQI didn’t do a great job with on-course photos but tried to take one of every mile marker. Many came out blurry.

The course crowding meant that Rich was running behind me for most of the race which made it hard to have conversation. A low point of the race was when we were running through the Castle and 4 women decided to stop dead in the middle of the course (not off to the side – right smack in the middle of the course) to take a group selfie. When someone commented on their rudeness, they replied that they had paid to have fun during the race. I guess everyone’s else didn’t??? I did think there was more selfish/rude behavior than I remember in the past….

IMG_8397(That time that Rich’s magic band fell off while running through the Magic Kingdom and the race photographer got lots of evidence – note, Rich has just picked up his magic band off the ground!) Also note my beautiful KT taping of Rich’s injured knee. Yay for You Tube!

IMG_8400Rich loves that point in my long runs when I’m just ready to be finished and I start running too fast because I just want the run to be over.

IMG_8478It did get warm. Not our finest look.

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Am I dragging Rich across the line like a crazy person?

IMG_8388Smiles at the finish!!!!

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Nice bling!

Overall we had a good day and a fun race. Our finish time was around 3:15 which is perfect for a half the day before a full. Legs felt great! Some minor heat issues at the end but a successful day.

I haven’t done a good job keeping up with my blog (again) but I want to update the time leading up to the Goofy Challenge and then do a race report of our (spoiler alert) hot weekend of running in Disney. Although my training started off strong, there were definitely some hiccups in there.

Our second 20+ miler was not a good day. The day before we went to the incredible Storm King Art Center – a sculpture park in Mountainville, NY – to do our pre-long run walking. It was a blustery day and the park is quite hilly but beautiful and peaceful and totally worth a visit (I recommend milder weather). Sunday morning I wasn’t feeling it at all. It was cold and we were expecting rain later in the day so we started early. The first 10 miles were fine and then it fell apart. My Garmin crashed in the middle of our run and we ended up walking the last 11 miles. Not exactly confidence-building. We did finish right before the rain started.

Our Christmas present to ourselves was a Peloton bike. We planned this purchase a year in advance and took advantage of the annual Black Friday sale. The bike was delivered the week before Thanksgiving. Rich took to it like a fish in water but I’ve been really struggling with spinning. When I was working with a fantastic strength trainer a few years ago, she told me my hips are weak and that’s why I can’t run faster. I suspect the bike is pointing out all of my muscle weaknesses. I couldn’t do the recommended cadences/resistances on many of the popular rides and this has been discouraging at best. On the other hand I enjoy riding and I think I need to cross-train more so I’m optimistic this will help my running.

Our last long week was the weekend of the torrential downpour. We had to run on Saturday and heavy rains started on Friday and flooded the trails. Rich got up early and did 11 miles on the treadmill before tweaking his knee. He did 9 more on the elliptical but that took him out of running to heal up until the week before the race. I managed 5 hours on the treadmill. I used the Peloton app to do five 1 hour treadmill runs (we don’t have a Peloton treadmill but I used the app on audio). I managed 22 miles on the treadmill before calling it a day.

Rich mostly trained on the bike between our last long run and race day because his knee wasn’t good. We did a 5 miler the weekend before Goofy with me learning to KT tape his knee. He felt ok – except maybe on the uphills – but we figured we’d be good enough to get through Goofy. I did a combination of Peloton treadmill runs and biking leading up to race day. There is no doubt that the bike is inspiring both of us to exercise more.

I have gained back some of my weight loss over the holidays (and we went on a cruise for Thanksgiving so that didn’t help) but still am about 3 lbs down. I hoping that as I get my fitness dialed in and work on better nutrition, the weight will come back off.

I will admit that my training has been a bit off since my 20 miler two weeks ago. The day following that training run was my 48th birthday and it didn’t exactly go as planned. That whole week was crazy busy from kid drama (anyone with teens or tweens should be feeling my pain), to school meetings (the 2 minute long parent-teacher conferences at the high school require parent volunteers to keep the teachers on schedule), to work craziness, to multiple attempts to have a successful birthday dinner. Even the weekend was busy for the kids and their adult chauffeurs.  Birthday party, Hebrew School dinner, lacrosse try-outs, bat mitzvah, more Hebrew School, and lacrosse tournament. That’s not counting homework…. This meant that my training sucked. And for the first time this cycle, I actually missed a weekend long run (it was luckily a 5 miler so not a complete disaster). Needless to say, this inevitably impacted my mood.

Even this past week my training wasn’t great. The stress of the previous week left me feeling rundown and exhausted. My work schedule was different from usual which threw off my schedule. And I just started to feel down and unmotivated. Not a great place to be with the long runs getting longer and race day getting nearer. Some of this is related to seasonal changes and some of it is just a reaction to stress but it makes it easy to find excuses and hard to figure out how to work around a busy schedule.

I managed 2 week day runs last week. They were Monday and Friday so not ideal but the best I could do with my schedule. These were “get it done” runs with no effort to follow the specifics of my plan. Saturday I was supposed to do 5 miles with a magic mile but wasn’t feel great. I skipped the magic mile but got 5 decent miles done. Not perfect but better than the previous week.  And today I snuck in a run after giving an early morning lecture. Trying to get back on track. The weekend was enjoyable with plenty of needed down time and an effort to reset the system. I’ll see how much that renewal carries me through this week when I’m on call.

Surprisingly, I haven’t gained back any weight during these off-weeks. I was worried that several celebration meals out with decreased physical activity would lead to some unwanted pounds. I was actually afraid to step on the scale last week as I was worried that all of my exercise and healthy eating would have been lost in my 2 weeks of slacking off. So I was pleased to see that things are holding steady. I’m not expecting to lose a lot before the marathon but it would be nice to keep off the pounds that I worked so hard to lose. The real victory is when I wearing clothes that were uncomfortably tight earlier this year and now they fit well and look flattering.

My  goal for the upcoming weeks is to get back into my groove – both from an exercise perspective and an attitude readjustment. Sometimes training is more about mind over matter and I think that’s where I am right now. I think forcing myself to get my runs done will help improved my mood. That may be a more effective approach than trying to change my attitude and hoping the training follows. This weekend is another 5 miles so I get another easy week before going super long again.

The week after the half marathon I took it pretty easy. I had to do my “weekend” long run on Friday due to taking my recertification exam on Saturday morning and then heading down to Washington, DC – with my family – for a medical conference. My scheduled long run was 5 miles with 3 miles at tempo pace. While I tried to run the 3 miles faster than my typical long run pace, I’m not training for time for the Goofy so I didn’t stress about pace.

I did two short runs last week which were uneventful and tried to prepare – mentally at least – for my longest run in almost 2 years. This past weekend was a Goofy prep weekend. Long walk on Saturday and long run on Sunday. Friday night we ate pasta in preparation for our endurance weekend. Saturday morning I got to sleep in a bit before heading into NYC for birthday-palooza. The weather was a perfect fall day – mid 50’s and bright sunshine. Rich had a surprised planned for me down at the Oculus at the World Trade Center with dinner in Chelsea, about 2.5 miles away. We decided to park in Chelsea and walk down and back. It was about 3 miles down to the World Trade Center. My surprise was to get to experience opening weekend of the Avengers at The Void. This was an awesome virtual reality experience!!!!

We walked back uptown afterwards. My Garmin clocked about 2.5 miles before I stopped it at Chelsea Market. We bought some yummy hot sauce from the Heatonist, stopped at Milk & Hops for pre-dinner beer tasting, and headed to The Meatball Shop for some pre-long run pasta and meatballs. The evening was complete with a visit to Ample Hills Creamery for some yummy ice cream (there’s a Disney connection – they have a location on the Boardwalk at Disney World, they provided free samples at the Mickey exhibit in NYC last year, and they currently have Marvel-themed ice cream).

Sunday morning started with a 6:30am wake-up. I confess that I was slow to get up after a fun-filled day in NYC. But 20 miles were calling my name and the heavy rain forecast for the afternoon was super motivating. We were out the door around 7:15 and at the trail by about 7:30am. The starting weather was chilly – low 40’s and overcast – with an expected increase to about 60F before the end of the run. We started wearing long-sleeves with running vests but had some other clothing options available in the car for later.

My legs were a bit tired from the walking on Saturday so I wanted to start slow, slow, slow. We did 30/30 intervals the entire way. With me being on call, we were cautious about how far away from the car we went and opted for 5 miles out and 5 miles back for the first loop. Everything felt pretty good for the first 10 miles. We stopped at the car to change into short sleeved shirts (I was getting warm and boy was I glad for a change of clothes) and took a quick pee break before heading out again.

The second time we did just over 4 miles out and came back past the car until the trail hit town. It wasn’t quite as far as we needed but we walked the last 0.25 mile in the parking lot to make the full 20 miles. My legs were tired and sore at the end but overall I am very, very pleased with this long run. I never really hit the wall and I can honestly say that I could have gone a bit further.  My heart rate stayed in zone 2 until the uphill on the last mile when it went into zone 3. No need for extra walk breaks. Fueling and hydration were pretty spot-on and I’m definitely feeling like I’ll be ready for January.

Rich spoiled me with a Basin-purchased bath bomb when we got home. Leftover from when we ran Goofy two years ago, the Epsom salts in the bath bomb were amazing. I have some mild soreness after the run but honestly feel really good. I opted for a walk today instead of a run but that’s mostly due to logistics (early morning teacher meeting, dropping car off for inspection, etc.) rather than necessity.

Weight-wise I’m down at least 7 lbs and that’s been pretty consistent. I know that I could be more careful with watching what I eat but I’m pretty happy with where I am. Still have more pounds to go to reach my goal but my clothes are fitting again and my training is going well. It’s not about the numbers, it’s about how you feel.

Having reached the 20 mile threshold, I only have 2 more long runs before Goofy. One long run per month! It’s such a great feeling. The off weeks are 5 miles each. Easy peasy. Goofy here we come!

When I ran the Ridgefield Half Marathon 2 weeks ago, I finished feeling very discouraged. Getting through the 13.1 miles was difficult and my body was pretty unhappy with me at the finish. I knew that heat issues were a big part of the problem but it really made me worried about running twice that far in January. Or really 3x that far to finish the Goofy.

I wanted another try so I signed us up for the Westchester Running Festival Healing Half Marathon. This is an annual half marathon that starts about 3 miles from house and runs out and back along the Bronx River Parkway. I’ve run this course several times so it’s familiar territory and I was hoping the 2 weeks further into the fall would bring better running weather. After getting the ok from Coach Twiggs – he only reminded me that since I was scheduled for 17 miles that day, I’d better figure out how to walk 4 miles after the race – we were ready to run.

Race morning was an overcast 60F. Driving to the start was only complicated by my remembering the parking fee requiring cash minutes before leaving the house (scrounging up $15 was far more stressful than it should have been). We headed to packet pick-up where I was mistakenly handed a 10k bib instead of the half marathon one (and the same woman gave a 10k runner a half marathon bib so it seemed to be a bit of a mess). Luckily we got the bib situation figured out, dropped our long-sleeved tech shirts in the car, and had plenty of time for port-a-potties before the start.

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We were hanging out near the start line when we ran into friends. The announcers called out “5 minutes until the half start” while we were chatting. A few minutes later Rich said to me, “I think they just started!” There was no announcement. No starting gun. And certainly no national anthem. I was a little annoyed when I realized there was no timing mat at the start line and we started at least a minute after the “gun”.

The course is an out and back on the Bronx River Parkway. There are rolling hills in both directions but the course is net downhill on the out and net uphill on the back with the two toughest hills of the course in the last 5k. It’s a pretty route and very peaceful. Having run this race a few times I can honestly say it’s one I enjoy – despite the yucky hills at the end.

My run/walk timer was set to 30 sec intervals but my strategy was generally run 60 sec/walk 30 sec. For the 1st five miles I would run another 30 sec if my heart rate was below 160 bpm and walk the next 30 sec interval if my heart rate was above 160 bpm when the beeper went off. This meant that on the downhills I was doing run 90 sec or even run 2 min for every 30 sec walk break but on the uphills it might be run 30 sec or run 60 sec for every 30 sec walk break. After 5 miles I increased my threshold to 165 bpm, at the halfway point I increased to 170 bpm, and at the 10 mile mark I went to 175 bpm.

The good news is that I felt really good for the entire race. My heart rate was much lower than 2 weeks prior and, although my legs were tired by the end, I felt strong the whole way. The hills in the last part of the course definitely kicked my butt a bit but I was still able to do some run intervals across the finish line. My unofficial finish time was 2:38:40 but since the race only recorded gun time, my official time was almost a minute slower (2:39:32). That’ll teach me to chit-chat at the start of a race! Still happy to take 3-4 minutes off my finish time in just 2 weeks.

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After I finished and we got some post-race goodies – water, Gatorade, and yummy bacon, egg, and cheese wraps! – it was time for our 4 miles walk. We stopped at the car to drop off unwanted stuff and put on our race shirts so we wouldn’t get cold. Then we headed north on the Bronx River Pathway – the trail alongside the parkway. It was a lovely day for a walk and we took our time. I was surprised by how much better my sore quads felt after walking 4 miles than at the finish of the race. Maybe walking after a race is always a good idea. We were happy to finish our 17 miles for the day and heading home to clean up for Oktoberfest at our local brewery.

Now it’s back to the grind of training. We agreed to add some long walks on our pre-long run days to get used to the back to back of Goofy. I think we both agree that being well-trained for January is important and that putting in the time will yield good results in the end. While my fitness levels are not yet back to where I was a few years ago, I’m feeling more and more like I can get there with a little commitment and a little effort.

Where oh where have I been for the past several weeks? Here, there, and everywhere! We had a delightful family vacation to Florida in August. I did one long run of 800m repeats but the heat and humidity really impacted me. Ten days after we returned, we headed off to 10 days in France. The trip was wonderful but very, very busy. We had a nice run in Disneyland Paris one morning and walked nearly 10 miles per day. My work presentation in Nice was well-received. Overall a successful trip but not necessarily a successful running trip. Five days after returning home, I headed to Syracuse for another conference. I did run on the treadmill and gave two presentations. Work 1, Running 0.

I returned from Syracuse on a Friday evening and was scheduled to run my Proof of Time half marathon that Sunday. The weekend was beautiful. Sunny, temps in the low 80’s with a light breeze. Absolutely perfect end of summer weather…..unless you’re hoping for a good finish time from an endurance event. On Saturday we drove up to Ridgefield, CT to pick up our race bibs. The shirts were adorable – long-sleeved with a hood. We stopped at a favorite local brewery for some beer tasting and lunch and spent an idyllic afternoon. We drank lots of water along with the beer and enjoyed the sunshine. Saturday night we ate some lasagne and planned an early bedtime. My pre-race nightmare involved getting lost on the course.

Sunday dawned early. The race recommended an early start for anyone slower than 2 hours 30 minutes. We were at the start line for the early 7:15am start time. The course promised rolling hills and a confusing course map, including a mid-course loop (hence my nightmare). Even parking was a little confusing. The early start contingent was small but friendly and off we went. My plan was 60/30 intervals with maybe some extra running on downhills and less running on uphills.

I felt good going into the race. I was nervous about the warm weather and should have been nervous about the hills. These were hills. Lots and lots of hills. My first few miles were great but the hills started to drive my heart rate up and I found myself walking more and more. I was also unprepared for how fast the other participants were. Despite starting 30 minutes early, I was being passed consistently for the last half of the race by much faster runners. They were mostly lovely and encouraging and many took the time to say some positive words as I struggled.

The hills never ended. Even though most of mile 13 was downhill, there was a steep uphill stretch up to the mile marker. I wasn’t feeling great and realized after the finish that I was overheating. I knew I needed at least 2:45 to help me with corral placement in January and I came in at 2:42:19. Disappointing but not terrible. And I was lucky enough to have Rich waiting for me at the finish line!

(The first photo is mid-race and while I’m sweaty, I still look like I’m having fun. The second is my finish line photo where I’m still pushing but look oh-so-done.)

I realized after the finish that I was really overheated. I sat for a while to cool down and drank some water. The finish line party seemed really fun but I just wasn’t feeling up to it. Somehow burgers and hotdogs at 10am wasn’t my jam! We finally headed home and I cooled off in an air conditioned car. A cool shower and a nap later, I was a new person.

After talking to Coach Twiggs, Rich and I decided to give another attempt at a better proof of time. We will be running the Westchester Running Festival this Sunday. It’s a race I know well and the start line is about 3 miles from our house. There are definitely hills but not as bad as the Ridgefield race. Weather predictions are looking pretty good. I haven’t done a lot of speed work since our travels started but I’m back in training mode.

In the meantime I’ve lost somewhere between 6-8 lbs and my clothes are fitting better. I wore a dress to my presentation in Syracuse that I could barely zip up in May. It fits really well now and that certainly helped my confidence levels – both in terms of feeling good about my presentation and about feeling proud that my training is paying off. Hoping to keep living a healthier lifestyle so I can keep feeling stronger and faster and fitter.

This week’s training was marked by slightly cooler temperatures and slightly lower humidity. Both factors made for a much more pleasant training week with faster and more comfortable running.

Thursday was a typical drill day followed by a 15 minute race rehearsal segment. I enjoy the cadence drills but I’ll admit that I’m never 100% sure I’m doing the acceleration-gliders correctly. I mean I’ve read about them and watched videos but I’m still not certain. My race rehearsal segment went smoothly and I didn’t have to speed up at the end to average the right pace. Definitely an improvement!

Sunday was my magic mile. My previous magic mile was almost 2 months ago and was a disappointing 9:37. I had a bit of weather magic – a big thunderstorm on Saturday night brought in better conditions for Sunday morning. I drove up to the Valhalla High School track where I was the only human in sight. I did a slow, easy warm-up mile using 30/30 intervals. For my magic mile I used run 60 sec/walk 15 sec. This has me taking short walk breaks at approximately the corners of the track. I felt pretty good throughout but did notice myself slowing down a bit at the end. I wasn’t sure how I’d done until I finished my run (3 more slow miles after the magic mile for a total run of 5 miles). During my last few miles the weekend warrior soccer players started filing onto the field which only made me want to finish quicker! I hit the 5 mile mark and up popped my new one mile record! 9:18!!! I took 19 sec off my previous mile. (This is not my fastest mile ever. When I was training for the Hartford Marathon, my magic mile times were in the mid-8 min/mile range but this is still the fastest I’ve been in the last few years.) I expect to hear back from Coach Twiggs in the next 24 hours or so with my new training paces. It is ironic that just when my training paces are starting to get easier, he’s going to speed them up!

Today was a race rehearsal segment. Lovely morning. Felt good. No issues keeping up with my race paces for all 20 minutes of the run. In fact I was a little faster than race pace which is great because – like I said – my anticipated race pace will be getting faster. I spent some time this morning thinking about how grateful I am that my training is going well and I’m sticking with it. A great feeling for sure!

I’m down about 4 lbs. I haven’t been super careful with my eating but I’m going to try to stick with it. I’m happy to say that I’ve avoided over-eating after long runs which had been a problem in prior training cycles. I wonder how much of an impact the weight loss has on my pace…. Hopefully both will continue to improve!

This week I got back on the training bandwagon. I did my Thursday run on Friday due to work obligations. It was the usual drills and race rehearsal segment. I struggled a bit with pace on the race rehearsal portion – not sure why – but pulled it off in the end. I don’t think the point is to sprint the last few run segments to “catch up” to my desired pace but ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

Sunday was my 15 mile long run. This is the longest I’ve run since January, 2018 so I was curious to see how it would go. I “carbo loaded” the night before by eating spicy chicken wings. And while I worried that I would pay a terrible price for my choice, it ended up being fine. I did a decent job of hydrating on Saturday in preparation for a long hot run on Sunday and that definitely helped.

I set the alarm for 6:15am and was on the trail by just after 7am. In a perfect world I would have started earlier but chronic exhaustion isn’t good for running either. My assignment was to walk the first 4 miles so I took my UCan with me during the walk portion and then dropped the empty container back at the car. I knew that with walking 4 miles, my overall pace would be slow so I kept the mentality that pace doesn’t matter on long runs and that I need to just keep it slow. I think that really helped me mentally and then physically when the day started to warm up.

Although the South County Trail goes on for miles and miles, there is a long uphill stretch somewhere between miles 3 and 4. With me being on call this weekend, it seemed like the perfect excuse to do shorter out and backs and try to avoid the hill as much as possible. I did walk the hill during the walking-only segment but then turned around early into the hill on the final segment. I somehow completely miscalculated my distances because I hit the 15 mile mark at least 1/3 mile before getting back to my car. I did walk that last bit – not sure how long it was because I forgot to stop my watch before driving home. When my watch beeped for mile 16, I realized my error and got a good chuckle over the fact that I had “run” (or driven?) a fast final mile!

During the run/walk segment my paces were very steady between 13 min/mile and 13:35 min/mile. There was one slow mile in there because I had to stop to pee (the trail was super busy with cyclists so I needed to find a hidden spot in the woods without getting poison ivy so I lost some time looking for the perfect place). The temperature was well into the 80’s before I finished but a combination of good hydration, pace management, good fueling, and steady salt intake made it a decent run. My last 2 miles were the fastest which was probably a combination of a downhill finish with just wanting to get the darn thing over with. Overall I’m thrilled with how it went.

Today’s run was tough. A late night emergency on Sunday night followed by a long day on my feet at work yesterday meant that I was exhausted this morning. It was also super hot and humid, even at 6:30am. I did only the “mandatory” parts of my race rehearsal run and left off the optional additional 10 minutes. I managed to hit my pace but my legs felt a bit dead and my energy levels weren’t great. Even so, done is done.

I’ve managed to maintain my weight loss between 3-4 lbs but haven’t really lost any additional weight. I’m not complaining because we spent Rich’s birthday on Friday exploring the craft beer scene in Brooklyn and eating yummy barbecue food. Not exactly low cal. I’m almost surprised I didn’t gain weight but maybe the extensive walking around Brooklyn offset some of the high calorie intact. I’ve been listening to the Weighty Matters episodes of the Another Mother Runner podcast and found them inspiring and helpful. I’m going to try to incorporate some of the tips into my life – not only focusing less on what I don’t like about my current weight but also trying to eat less packaged foods and making sure I eat consistently throughout the day so I don’t get super hungry and eat junk.  Here’s a link to the website with the podcasts: https://anothermotherrunner.com/?s=weighty+matters