Archive for October, 2019


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.