Brooklyn Half Marathon Race Recap


Spoiler alert! I did it!

Spoiler alert!

The short version:

I finally ran a sub-two half marathon in my 10th half. (About 5 years ago I ran my first half in 2:38.) I’m beyond proud of myself. It was the best day ever. The end.

The long version (I feel a little silly assuming you guys want to read all this, but I’m going to write it anyway):

I woke up at 4:15 AM and with coffee in hand, was out the door by 4:30.

Hello, Verrazano! (My car was stopped when I took this, promise.)

Hello, Verrazano! (My car was stopped when I took this, promise.)

I easily got to the finish line on Coney Island, where I parked at the New York Aquarium and met Kim to hop on the Q train to take us to the start line. (Get off at the Prospect Park stop, if you’re wondering for next year!) The ride was way quicker than I thought it would be (maybe 20 minutes?) and we were to the start with plenty of time to get through security and walk to the corrals. (They had port-a-potties IN the corrals, which I’ve never had before. Saves so much time and energy!) It was the most gorgeous morning – beautiful sunshine, not much humidity, and temps in the 50s. Such perfect running weather.

We were in the corrals for awhile – I think we got in around 6:40-ish but didn’t cross the start line until about 7:25. After a slow shuffle, we were off!

Kim and I both were on a mission to run a 1:59:59 or faster; a 9:09 pace. It was so motivating to have a partner-in-crime and be working toward the same goal! We planned to start off conservatively at around 9:15 – 9:20 for the first couple miles, then down to 9:10-9:05, and then just go as hard as we could.

After the first mile we clocked in at 9:14, which was a little faster than planned but not by much. We kept saying out loud “too fast!” at random points and then adjusting, but the second mile was an even faster 9:05. When we saw mile 3 flash an 8:52, we both looked at each other and I’m pretty sure we both laughed out loud. Whoops! I was feeling good, but a little nervous that I wouldn’t be able to keep it up. I was happy to have those seconds “in the bank”, even though I know that’s not the best strategy!

By mile 5 we were in Prospect Park and as Kim crushed the big hill, I, well, did not. She dominated it as I wheezed up, just trying to keep her in my sights. I ate 3 ShotBloks at this point to give me a boost. I’m so glad I didn’t see my mile 5 and 6 splits flash on my Garmin (9:21, 9:20) because even though they included a decent hill, I’m pretty sure I would have freaked out that I had two miles in a row that were much slower than my goal pace. Although I did look down and notice I PRd the 10K…in my half. Hmm…wasn’t sure if that was good or so, so bad!

And then came a glorious downhill around mile 7, as you can see by the 8:32/mile! I was so surpised to see that number…and again, laughed at myself. I know it was a downhill, but how come I can easily run this pace in a half marathon, but not in a 6 mile tempo run?

Around mile 8, as we were running down Ocean Parkway, was when it started feeling tougher. After I saw my friend Anna (thank you for being out there cheering, friend!) I reminded myself to just “hang on”. That mile clocked in at 8:54. (No downhill, so I was super excited to see I was still in the 8s!) I took a salt pill here because it was really warming up at this point. Thankfully there was shade under the trees on the left side of the road if it was needed.

My friends Tommy and Sam had sent me this inspirational video the night before, and I listened to it around this time. (They’re the same ones who sent me the basically life-saving video that I constantly thought about throughout the Ironman!) It made such a HUGE difference in this race, too. (Thank you guys!) Miles 8-13.1 were so hard, and listening to the inspirational clips in the video made me so emotional. You would have thought I was saving the entire world by running this race, with the amount of emotion I was feeling. At this point I thought I could realistically go sub-2, and I just kept telling myself to be my own hero. I don’t even know what that means. I was delirious, I think. I also took a Roctane Gu (with caffeine!) around this time which helped. (I fueled more than normal in this race – typically I would only have taken one Gu. Maybe that was the key?!)

Miles 9 and 10 passed and I was STILL running 8-something minute miles, much to my bewilderment: 8:56 for mile 9 and 8:54 for mile 10. (Hey, I was consistent for once!) I was even thinking, hey, maybe I can run a 1:57 or 1:58! #Overzealous. My left shoulder randomly starting getting this sharp pain out of nowhere, so I tried to relax, take deep breaths, and stretch it out by pulling my elbow over my head. It was hard to run with the pain so I started wondering if my stupid shoulder would deter me from reaching my goal. It randomly stopped after a few minutes, so I’m not sure what that was about.

Around this time, I was trying to do a lot of math. It didn’t work out well for me, per usual. But, I did know that I was going to over-run the course. My Garmin was beeping about .15 before the mile markers, so I stopped trying to calculate based on my watch. I waited until I reached the actual mile marker before trying to figure out if I could run the remainder in X amount of time. (Normal people probably do this already but evidently I JUST learned this.) I started getting nervous because I knew my overall pace would need to average lower than 9:09 since it was looking like I would be running about 13.3 miles instead of 13.1.

What helped the most: I kept telling myself that I didn’t want to go through this pain again, so I better go sub-2 today. I would be so angry if I was suffering this much for “nothing”.

Around mile 11 I calculated that I needed to run 9:30s to cross the finish line before the clock read 2:00:00, and was so scared that I couldn’t keep up the paces I was running. What if I crashed?! I was hovering around 9:05 at that point.

At this point, it was ALL mental. 100%. I started wondering if sub-2 mattered…I knew I would PR at the very least. But thankfully I didn’t give in to this crazy talk and stayed the course. (Literally and figuratively!) I pushed any thoughts of crashing out of my head and thought about how it would feel to cross the finish line and tell everyone I reached my goal. I thought about the people who were tracking my splits. I thought about the ice cream Brendan always takes me out for if I PR. (Yep.) I thought about Kim who I could still see about 100 yards ahead, and how motivating it was that she was absolutely dominating this race.

NYRR had a sign for the 20K mark, which I KNOW is 12.4 miles, but at the time I thought that I just had a half-mile left. When I realized I had a little more, I got SO nervous and tried to kick it into my highest gear possible. I was NOT going to cross the line at 2:00:01. That would have devastated me. I literally pushed as hard as I possibly could to get there. As I went up that stupid, final little hill and turned onto the boardwalk, the finish line looked so far away. I couldn’t smile or high-five all the spectators or do anything but will my legs to move as fast as possible. And to not throw up. I was terrified as I watched my Garmin tick to 1:59:30. But…

I think this shows it all.

I think this shows it all.

I think this shows it all.

This is my ninja outfit. (I need more colorful  clothes.)


I'm like, camoflagued in this picture. Can you even see me?

I’m like, camouflagued in this picture. Can you even see me?

The final numbers:

Brooklyn Half Marathon Sub 2 Splits

A little close for comfort, but it doesn’t matter because I FINALLY reached my goal and achieved a 3 minute, 24 second PR.

It's official!

It’s official!

I saw Kim as soon as I crossed the finish line and I think we both had the same look of sheer exhaustion. After a few minutes (and some water) we perked up and went into the Brooklyn Cyclones stadium to sit on the turf and chat. After wandering around for awhile (they make it really hard to get back to the boardwalk…all the entrances  but a couple were closed!) and some cheering, we finally made it to Nathan’s where we enjoyed big cups of Coney Island Lager and soft pretezels that were most certainly dipped in lots of butter. And it felt like the best “meal” I’ve ever had.

So thankful I had a friend to enjoy it all with! Also, sorry for stealing your photo, Kim!

Sorry for stealing your photo, Kim!

Even though we finished around 9:20 AM, we didn’t leave Coney Island until 1-ish, I think. Sitting outside, soaking up the sun, and reveling in our success was SO much fun. I couldn’t have asked for a better day. My body was tired but amazingly I had no blisters, no chafing, and I felt fantastic. (Unlike after my last half in which I felt like death the entire day.) It was basically a miracle.

The new "happiest place on earth?"

The new “happiest place on earth?”

Also, I offically think that a terrible “last week” before a big race is a great sign.

That night, Brendan took me out for Mexican food (with sangria!) to end the most perfect day. I couldn’t be happier.

Kim – I couldn’t have done this without you. I definitely pushed harder to keep up with you, and I’m sure I would have been a little more conservative if I was on my own. Thank you for being so badass and for motivating me not only on raceday, but all throughout this training cycle!

Also, thank you to everyone who sent me congratulations and supported me in the weeks leading up to this as I continuously freaked out. It’s so, so much appreciated. It made me so happy to see texts coming through immediately after finishing! You made it that much more wonderful.

Now…you guys know me…1:55? :)

What was your most favorite race experience EVER?! Tell me all the details!


Brooklyn Half Marathon Prep

I’m ready for Brooklyn.

Foggy downtown NYC on the walk to the expo.

Foggy downtown NYC on the walk to the expo.

Wish it wasn't so rainy when I went to the was such a gorgeous spot!

Wish it wasn’t so rainy when I went to the expo…it’s such a gorgeous spot!

I have my bib. Good sign.

I got my bib. Good sign.

I’m ready to run through Prospect Park, down Ocean Parkway, and onto the beach at Coney Island all in hopefully less than 1 hour, 59 minutes, and 59 seconds. (Although I hope I don’t cut it THAT close!)

Most of you already know my main goal for the Brooklyn Half Marathon: Run the elusive-for-me sub-2 half.

I’ve been training hard for it and have been pleasantly surprised with some of the paces in my tempo runs – I ended up running faster than was called for in most of them. It wasn’t easy, but it was do-able and although I’m nervous, I’m pretty comfortable with where I’m at. A couple weeks in there ended up less-than-ideal, but I did what I could (and got a half PR in the middle of it all!) so all I can do now is remain confident in the training I have done and have faith in myself. That being said…I’m scared to be overly confident because I feel like I’ll jinx myself, so that’s all I’ll say!

For the rest of the evening, I’ll be finishing my usual pre-big-race checklist:

  • Put gas in my car.
  • Get cash for parking.
  • Paint nails. (Gotta have race nails!)
  • Eat carbs.
  • Finish playlist.
  • Pick out outfit. Pin on bib.
  • Pack a bag so I’m ready to go in the morning (bottles of water, Gu and ShotBloks, headphones, Garmin, etc…).
  • Foam roll.
  • Sit in pigeon pose for an hour. (Maybe not an hour. But a long time.)
  • Review confidence-building workouts I’ve done this training cycle to remind myself of the hard work I put in.
  • Put K-Cup in Keurig with to-go coffee cup underneath, ready to go. (No time to waste, people!)
  • Pack breakfast.
  • Read inspirational race recaps.

Reading about other people’s PRs or otherwise awesome races really pumps me up. Some of my favorite inspirational half marathon race recaps that I’ve been reading tonight:

Beth: Long Branch Half

Beth: All State 13.1

Theodora: Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half

Ashley: NYC Half

Kim: Wineglass Half

Michele: NYC Half

Laura: Richmond Half

Dori: Newport Half #1

Dori: Newport Half #2

This quote from one Dori’s half PR recaps really stuck with me and I hope it can be the same for me. While I’ve had a mostly good training cycle, over the past couple weeks I’ve had some pretty crappy runs…AKA I could barely run race pace in a 3-miler:

“I needed this validation too because while my training is going well, I’ve been unhappy with my training run times. But the thing is — I thrive at races. I’ve always thrived at races. So what if I can’t hit my half marathon pace during a tempo run? At least I’m giving it the effort and my body is trained to work at that effort level. The speed, for me, comes at races.”

And now, I’m off to finish my to-do list! I have an early morning tomorrow – I’ll be up at about 4:15AM to make it to the 7AM start on time. Yikes! Good luck to everyone running this weekend. If you’re running Brooklyn too, come find me on the beach post-race!

A special thanks to my wonderful friend Beth for sending me this photo.

A special thanks to my wonderful friend Beth for sending me this perfect, timely quote!

How do you prepare on race evening?

That Time I Was (Sort Of) On the Red Carpet

I’ve begun doing a lot more social media in my current job at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It’s fun, challenging, and something I’m super fascinated by. When I was tasked with live-tweeting a brand new, huge-for-us event, I was ecstatic. I mean, we had a real red carpet and press and photographers and everything! I know, so fancy.

I'm wearing a dress so you better believe I documented it.

I’m wearing a dress & did my hair so you better believe I documented it.

The premise: A comedy night to raise money for the NYC Chapter of LLS. Going into it, I thought I’d just be watching the show: tweeting jokes, photos and random little tidbits. However…I got an all-access pass to go whereever I wanted and was specifically tasked with taking “behind-the-scenes” photos. I’m so beside myself that I’m going to brag now. I can’t help it.

Fun photos:

John Mulaney, Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers, Tina Fey.

John Mulaney, Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers, Tina Fey.

Nick Kroll, Vanessa Bayer, Jack Antonoff, Amy Poehler

Nick Kroll, Vanessa Bayer, Jack Antonoff, Amy Poehler.

Seth & Tina, Judah & Seth, Nick & John.

Seth & Tina, Judah Friedlander & Seth, Nick & John.

They were all SO nice. I felt lame with my head buried in my iPhone all night (and creepily snapping random pictures) but I’m okay with it. The jokes were hilarious and I laughed my way through the entire night (and the back pain from standing for so long).

I started to write out some of my favorite lines, but there’s just too many. (If you want, scroll through #LOLwithLLS to read some little snippets!) The most noteworthy occurrence had to do with Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers’ credit card. I’ll have my pal Seth tell you about it – I’ll wait:

(I’ll take the credit for announcing tweeting the end of CreditCardGate to the world, thank you.) AND THEN…the best part. At the end of the night, some colleagues and I were hanging out in the green room, just sitting on a couch waiting for a few things. Amy Poehler and Tina Fey had left to go to a birthday party.

But…Amy (first-name basis, yep) came back! She sits with us on the couch and starts chatting. I’m normally not this fan-girl-ish, but it was the most amazing moment. She asked us all about LLS and Team In Training and truly seemed interested in what we had to say. She kept commenting on how great of a cause it is and how glad she was that she could help. She explained that Spike TV wanted them to come to that party and tell a few jokes, and they said no because they would be at the LLS event. Spike TV then offered them $100,000 to come, so they said they would if they’d just give the $100K to LLS. (!!!!!) Sidenote: How do I get people to pay me $100K for attending a party? Suggestions welcome. Tina actually mentioned it in her “skit” (is that what it’s called?), saying :

Spike TV said if you get in a car and do 3-5 minutes of comedy we will donate $100k. We were like no, but then we were like, hey free car ride! So we’re going and we would very much like that donation to go to Beat AML (one of LLS’ initiatives). We’ll see you at the party!

I thought the donation was a joke. It wasn’t. I want to cry just writing this because that’s so incredibly kind and helpful to our chapter.

Alright, my bragging is over. I hope you enjoyed. On to the running. Just a few little updates on some key workouts from the last week. Brooklyn Half in 7 days, ahhh!

  • I did a 6 mile sort-of tempo run last Thursday along the west side of NYC.
Pretty nice day, I guess.

Pretty nice day, I guess.

I LOVE running there along the water. (And not just because it’s super flat. I swear.) I ran after work and it was a pretty hot day, so I was roasting. And hungry. The goal was 4 miles at 9:00 (with a warm up and cool down) but I was struggling and turned it into a warm up with 3 tempo miles and a longer cooldown. Not the best, but that’s what happened. Average pace: 9:21.


Total time: 56:05

  • I ran 10 miles last Saturday. It was so-so. I waited until 11:15 AM to start (DUMB) and by then it was, again, hot outside.
That girl on the horse was taking a selfie. Just FYI.

New Jersey: As seen on the run. That girl on the horse was taking a selfie. Just FYI.

It was tough but I thought my splits would be worse than they were. I was dragging until Beth and Kim started texting me encouragement and reminding me I could get iced coffee at the end. (THANKS ladies!) My last mile was the fastest for the day at 9:43. Average pace: 10:11. 

Don't worry I got my coffee. Right after the sky clouded over and cooled down. Grrr.

Don’t worry, I got my coffee. Right after the sky clouded over and it cooled down. Do you like my fashionable outfit?

  • Last night I ran 6 miles. It was supposed to be a tempo run but it did not work out that way at all. I was tired and it was basically just a 6 mile run. I spent more time taking photos than I should have. Whoops.
See? New Jersey IS pretty!

Dang it, I forgot to bring my horse.

Average pace: 9:58. (And then I got to hang with Jennie & Ashley for the NFL Draft!)

Jets 4 life. Right Jennie?

She keeps copying my outfits. This is the second time. Sheesh.

  • I’m running a 10K in Central Park tomorrow. It’s supposed to rain the entire time, so that’s fun. I’m planning to add four miles onto the end since this is my last long run before the Brooklyn Half next weekend, but we’ll see what my level of miserable-ness is. I do love running in the rain, but not so much when I have to drive an hour to get home.
  • I’m worried that because I didn’t end up using the More/Fitness Half as a training run (AKA I went all out), I ruined my chances for going sub-2 in Brooklyn. Yeah, I got the PR…but that wasn’t really my main goal for this season. I needed almost a full week to recover from that race (SO SORE!). And then the next week I skipped a long run when I had family in town.  Lesson learned.

Phew! That was a lot of words. Your turn: Have any good celebrity stories? Any races coming up? Has the heat been getting to you while running, too?

Weekly Training Recap – Brooklyn Half

I can’t remember if I mentioned registering (it was sort of a last minute thing) but I ran the More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Half Marathon today! I had a 13 mile run on the training schedule so I figured I might as well get a medal and t-shirt for my efforts. Plus, a race in Central Park is much more entertaining than running around my town. AND I got another credit for 9+1.

So, I actually wrote the rest of the post below on Saturday afternoon, but am just now getting the chance to finish and publish it. (Such a great blogger I am, I know.) It’s incredibly ironic (you’ll see why in my next post!) so I decided to keep it instead of just deleting it. Here we go.

 My problem with using races as training runs is that I find it hard to not go all out on raceday (unless I’m running with friends who also just want to have fun). When I’m alone, I start trying to PR and get all caught up in my splits. But I want this to just be an easy long run. Plus I’m totally not ready to PR. By Brooklyn, maybe (hopefully), but not quite yet. I guess we’ll just see. I’ve had a really low mileage week so far (uhhh 2.75 miles, more on that below) and I’ve noticed that the less I run, the more tight my IT band and hamstring feel. What is that about? I guess I’ll be spending the night foam rolling. While watching The Hills. Yep. I’m not afraid to admit it.

It's just SO GOOD.


Moving on. I was such a slacker this week. The was the worst workout week I’ve had since I began training for the Brooklyn Half.

My “easy run” on Tuesday didn’t go well. I was planning to run 4 or 5 miles and it was a gorgeous day outside. Perfect. I should have been excited. But when I got home, I felt extremely sluggish and tired. I told myself to just make it 4 miles. As I was running, I bumped it down to 3. Just make it 3. I got back to my house around 2.75 and gave myself permission to quit.

forrest gump tired

I blame it on my lunch; I didn’t bring enough to eat and was starving all afternoon. When I finally got home I think I stuffed chips or yogurt-covered raisins or something like that in my mouth. Needless to stay, my stomach hurt. Totally my own fault.

On Wednesday…

Can you tell I love gifs?

Can you tell I’m now obsessed with gifs?

I went to Body Space Fitness and the instructor made my day. He came up to me, mid-sandbag-pull-with-push-up, and very curiously asked: “Kara, what’s your athletic history?”. I said “uhhhh…” wondering if he was going to compliment me or tell me I suck, and then said “I can tell you’re an athlete”. And it MADE MY DAY. My LIFE, really. I’ve never felt like an athlete and was never a superstar in any sports I’ve played. And I’m still just an average runner, even though I’ve been running for years. But dang it, I can do pistol squats and kettlebell swings and TRX pikes and keep up in a group fitness class. HIGH FIVES TO EVERYONE.

Ever since I joined ClassPass (a pass that gives you access to a bunch of studios throughout NYC – you get 10 classes a month for a flat fee) I’ve noticed I’m much stronger. I always look for classes that incorporate strength and/or HIIT, and for me, they 100% make a difference (when compared to just running/steady-state cardio). Pre-ClassPass, I was never very consistent with lifting – it was hard to motivate myself to do these types of workouts alone. I kept coming up with excuses. It’s much nicer to have someone give me all the equipment, tell me what to do, and push me for the full hour. I’m so much more productive in a class.

Anyway, back to my super exciting week. Thursday I baked chocolate chip cookies with Brendan instead of running. (Oops.) I’ve been trying for years to bake the perfect chocolate chip cookie, and it turns out the whole time Brendan can already do that. The secret could potentially be mixing the baking soda in water before adding it to the batter. (Shhh don’t tell him I told you.) Or maybe it was all the love he baked in. (AWWWW.) They were just so good. Although I would have liked them a liiiiiiiittttle better without the chocolate chips. Not a chocolate fan. (Don’t hate me!)

Friday, I went to the race expo over lunch and took an extra long walk with a coworker, but that’s about it. So basically I did nothing all week. And here we are now at Saturday. TGIS. I was planning to go to yoga this morning but it’s so nice outside that I couldn’t bear to be indoors.

Again, I need to move to Florida for outdoor beach yoga.

Again, I need to move to Florida for outdoor beach yoga. Who’s with me?

Since I’m not anywhere tropical, I took a walk up into town and am currently sitting at an outdoor table at a coffee shop drinking a strawberry + orange juice smoothie.

Just setting the scene for you.

Just setting the scene for you. You’re welcome.

A guy who just got here asked his wife to order him a large chocolate banana shake with extra whip cream, and an egg, bacon and cheese breakfast sandwich. I’m jealous of that order.

Annnnnd lastly, the Wyatt Picture of the Week, courtesy of my dad:

He's just reading.

He’s just reading.

Wow that was a lot of rambling. I want to know about your weekend! Are you a go-go-go person, or do you prefer to relax on Saturday and Sunday?

Fall Marathons

Despite the fact that I was only thinking happy thoughts, and that Mary Wittenberg actually tweeted me a personal “good luck!” after my girl Beth desperately tweeted her to let me in, I did not get into the NYC Marathon. I wonder if Mary was giggling mischeviously while she was wishing me well. That Mary. She’s so contrary. Or whatever.

I was bummed about that yesterday but I think I’m over it now. (That is, until marathon weekend in NYC. I’ll be crying in a corner somewhere.) After two full days of constantly checking things… and my inbox (which is now surprisingly clean), I’m ready for a break. (Still waiting for an update on the writing job, though!)

Not giving up on this just yet. I STILL BELIEVE.

Not giving up on this just yet. I STILL BELIEVE.

On to the running. This week’s speed workout was a tempo run, which I did, once again, on a treadmill. I feel like I’m cheating when I do important workouts on the ‘mill. When I’m on it, I just set the speed and go. (This cold spell better end soon, I swear to all that is holy.) I should be learning to manage my pace on my own though (AKA outdoors) right? Oh well. I guess you just gotta do what you can. Anyway, workout was:

1 mile warmup

3 miles at 9:03

1 mile cooldown

Here’s how I did:

Proof. In case you don't believe me.

Bam. Proof. In case you don’t believe me.

I’m feeling preeeeetttyy good about that. Right on point. (I guess I have the TM to thank for that. But at least I never flew off of it…?) Mile 1 felt easy enough, mile 2 was a little harder, mile 3 I was getting concerned, to be honest. But I did it. High fives all around. I hope I can continue crushing these important workouts over the next month and a half and toe the Brooklyn Half starting line fully confident.

So now, moving on to the big topic of the week. Fall marathons.

On my initial list:

Nike Women’s Marathon (California, October TBD) 

Wineglass Marathon (New York, October 5)

Twin Cities Marathon (Minnesota, October 5)

Des Moines Marathon (Iowa, October 19)

Richmond Marathon (Virginia, November 15)

Philly Marathon (Pennsylvania, November 23)

Bonus: all of these are quite a bit cheaper than the NYC Marathon! Someone just tell me what to do. To be honest, I’m kind of waiting for the NFL schedule to come out in April. I know the Jets are playing Kansas City in KC so I’m 1,000% going to that game. Yep, basing my schedule around football. Don’t judge me.

Me on a camel in Kansas City. Totally relevant.

Me on a camel (llama?) in Kansas City. Totally relevant.

What’s your vote? Any others to add to the list?

Brooklyn Half Marathon Training Week 1 + SPRING?!

Is it Monday already?! I want more weekend! I guess it doesn’t help that we lost an hour. Although, I am THRILLED we’ll be getting so much more sunlight in the evenings. The sun boosts my mood so much, meaning I won’t be as BLAHHH anymore. You can thank the farmers for that.  OMG I went to find a link to explain that comment but instead, my mind was blown. I always thought DST was to help farmers. I was proven WRONG! See # 5: Daylight saving time in the United States was not intended to benefit farmers, as many people think

Anyway, I finally feel like we’re beginning to come out of the horrible, never-ending depths of winter.

Winter is only fun for like, 2 days. After the first snowfall I'm DONE.

Don’t let that smile fool you. Winter is only fun for like, 2 days. After the first snowfall I’m D-O-N-E.

New Jersey’s weather on Saturday was absolutely gorgeous. 54 degrees? Hello! Considering the recent trend of snow and freezing temperatures, 54 felt downright tropical. Everyone was outside enjoying the weather and I swear, the enthusiasm was contagious. Runners, cyclists…so many puppies! Absolutely fantastic. Random runners were actually waving at me, which usually only happens when I’m in the company of my fellow midwesterners back at home.

Yep, that’s right. I went running again. (Insert photo of me patting myself on the back.) Knowing warm temps were in the forecast, I planned my first official long run of Brooklyn Half training for Saturday morning. I know, 10 weeks before the race is probably less than ideal. But whatevs. Just please don’t yell at me for only running outside when it’s convenient, and I promise I won’t complain if I suck on raceday. I’ve already accepted that this was the Official Winter of Laziness.

This is more my style.

This is more my style.

After sleeping in and cooking breakfast with Brendan, I downloaded a few new songs for my running playlist and headed out the door. It’s a nice change from summertime Saturdays when I’m rushing to beat the heat, or when Brendan is gone for work before I even wake up. I’m trying to soak up the extra time together as much as I can! (Yes, we’re still getting married, in case you were wondering. We just haven’t planned a thing. But we’re actually going to look at venues in two weeks! Finalllyyyyy.)

Anywhooooo, I had every intention of running 6 or 7 miles and calling it a day. Per my usual, I ran toward a local trail. At the last minute, I decided I wanted a change of scenery. Instead of turning left, I headed straight toward some quiet back roads.

on the road again

You make me wanna take the back roaaaddds…make me wanna take the long way hooooome. (Any country fans out there? Bueller?)

It was sunny and warm and I felt so carefree that I caught myself singing aloud a couple times. (I promptly looked back to see if anyone was around. Thankfully just me and the birdies.) As I came around a corner to a piece of land I have deemed “fake Iowa” (it’s a horse farm and reminds me of home) I planned to hook back onto the trail and take a shortcut home. Literally, over a river and through the woods. Like the song. How splendid, dontchathink? But, surprise! This portion of the trail hadn’t been cleared off yet; it was still covered in snow. Layers upon layers of irritatingly crunchy, cold snow. STOP TRYING TO RUIN MY SPRING, SNOW. I ended up going back through town. Up a huge hill. (That’s my excuse for my random mile 5 split below.) Even though I knew my change of course would tack on more mileage than I originally set out for, I was feeling spectacular and was thrilled to spend a little more time outside. Plus I had no other option.

I know I shouldn’t run this long…but I’m going to.

I continued along on my running high the rest of the way home and ended with 8.5 miles total, a number I was very happy to see (especially since my body never once yelled at me).

I have that “register for every race NOW” itch again. I feel much more like myself. (This just proves I need to move somewhere tropical. Stat.)

Then, after watching some basketball (Rock Chalk!) and running some errands (Trader Joe’s and Starbucks, my favorite Saturday activities), Brendan’s brother came to visit from NY. We made the most of the gorgeous weather by walking up into town to grab a beer, and later continued along to a cute little mexican restaurant that we love. We walked back home to end the night with a board game, a tasty chocolatevanillacarmel ice cream that I want to eat all the time for the rest of my days, and some Modern Family-watching on the couch. Could it get much better? I THINK NOT. (Umm…wait. Does this make me sound old? DOES IT?!)

Sunday was a lazy day, complete with a delicious diner breakfast, visiting with friends, and Brendan’s homemade pizza (soooo goooddd!). And a new puppy! Not mine, dang it. Our friend’s. But I’m peer-pressuring Brendan every day to get one. He’s showing no signs of caving in. I need a new plan. Help.

"Get off me lady, I just wanna play."

“Get off me lady.”

OH and FYI I beat Brendan and his brother in Settlers of Catan. I didn’t want to play, and they made me, and, well…THAT’S WHAT YOU GET, BOYS! (In actuality, I’ve played this with them like 9 times and this is the first time I’ve won. But I’m still going to brag for the next month.)

Here they are being jealous of my board game skillz.

Here they are being jealous of my board game skillz.

Question of the day: What’s your favorite Saturday afternoon activity? 

Choosing Your Attitude

My past three half marathons have been superb learning experiences.

Bling bling!

For the Brooklyn Half in May, I had started training with speedwork but was still slowly coming back from injury. My longest run for that training cycle had been 10 crappy miles. Before the race, I was terrified; I wondered what I was doing there and seriously debated darting out of my corral. My foot (not even my original injury) REALLY hurt until it went numb around 9-ish miles. I was too stubborn to DNF (the worst three words in a runner’s repertoire…Did Not Finish.) But, surprise! I PRd by 13 minutes…if only because I was so distracted worrying about my foot pain to worry about my pace or going out too fast*.

…and taking in the scenery!

*Disclaimer: seriously, pretend I didn’t say all that. Injuries do not equal PRs – be smart and drop out of a race if you need to! Injury is NOT worth it! 

The Staten Island Half was a different story. Ragnar was the previous weekend, and the night before I was up late dancing at a Long Island wedding about 2 hours away from the starting line. About 3.5 hours after hitting the sheets, Brendan and I were back in the car driving to the next island. Needless to say, I was running on fumes and a serious lack of motivation. Thankfully I had Dayna to run with or I might have snuck onto the ferry when we ran past it during mile one. Although I ran a few minutes slower than I did in Brooklyn, I was fine with it. I felt good. I was in good company. Done and done!

Now, here we are the day before my failed marathon the Philly Half. As you all know, marathon training just didn’t work out this season so here I am, anxiously awaiting the start of Ironman training in January with only two (slowwww) full marathons under my belt. Both were under horrible conditions, so I’d like to think I can improve on those someday…I was hoping it would be today. But, as like to say, you can’t choose what happens to you; you can only choose how you respond to it. 

When in doubt, Tebow.

My consolation prize is tomorrow (that would be the half) and I don’t even know what time I’m leaving today. Ashley and I are driving to the City of Brotherly Love together and haven’t even decided on a time. I don’t know if I have throwaway clothes to wear to the start, or how bag check works. What is up with my overly easy-going nature for the past two halfs? I think I’m not-so-subconsciously reminding myself that there’s a reason I need to keep up with training…THIS is it. Who wants to travel to a half marathon and not feel fully prepared? THIS is what I need to remind myself when I don’t want to get up on those cold mornings, or when I just want to cozy up on the couch with a glass of wine and catch up with the roommates after work. I’ve succumb to those feelings more than I’d like to admit and that needs to end. A little balance is key, right?

Reminder: workouts and wine DO go together.

But, I feel rested and a little excited and overall, fine. I can run. I’m healthy. I can’t wait to see my friends. I’m doing this. I need to have a better attitude. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I need to remember to be THANKFUL all year ’round.

Today, I choose to respond positively to all of these learning experiences.

Philly, here I come.

*A special good luck to Lora running the Brooklyn Marathon tomorrow, along with all the Philly runners! Go get ’em!

My Finish Line + Giveaway!

As you may recall, I’m a big fan of Saucony’s “Find Your Strong” campaign.

Remember them?

I’m also a big fan of winning running stuff. (What! Who doesn’t like winning?) Naturally, I have fun entering running-related contests and dreaming about the possibility of those new shoes or that sweet jacket. Even better? When the contest gets the wheels in my head turning and reflecting on my running history.

This week’s Find Your Strong Project theme is: This is My Finish Line”. The topic got me thinking about what motivates me, which led me to think about all the times I’ve pushed myself to finish a race. What was my motivation? What was special about those races? What was going through my head and why was that particular day so successful? More importantly, what about my training prepared me to reach my goals?

How did I even end up at the starting line of the NYC Marathon, a goal I’d had since high school?!

There isn’t a “finish line” in most aspects of life. There are turning points, like graduations and weddings and birthdays and new jobs and moving, but we all know those are transitions as opposed to “the end”. Sure, you cross a finish line in the races you run. But there is no finish line to running as a sport. Maybe you’re sidelined. Maybe you need a break. Maybe you think you’ve reached your most ultimate goal or ran an unbelievable PR that even you think must have been a fluke. There’s still always room to improve. You can always learn. You can always make a “comeback”. This goes for life in general, right? There’s no finish line; that’s the beauty of life. It goes on no matter what. There are always bigger goals to work toward, more stars to reach for, more frozen yogurt to eat. (Please say the frozen yogurt supply will never end!?)

My finish line is very elusive; one that can’t ever be reached and in turn constantly challenges me. It’s more about the journey, as the (cliché yet true) saying states.

Health. Improving as a runner –whatever that means to me at the various stages in my life. For now, that means getting faster. PR-ing. Treating fitness and workouts as priorities that can’t be overlooked or missed. Running because I CAN. Showing thanks for what I can do. These are the things that motivate me.

But, of course, there are certain raceday finish lines that give you trouble. Every runner knows that story…those in-the-moment struggles, the time nothing went right, the time you wanted to give up SO BAD but didn’t. Or maybe you did. But I bet you learned from it regardless, right?

Maybe the last mile felt like 16 miles. But you pushed through.

I don’t have some spectacular story that ends with fireworks and rainbows and Boston Qualifying times…just one small, simple story about a time I felt like quitting but didn’t.

Even though I’ve been running pretty consistently for about 12 years, the Brooklyn Half a few weeks ago was one of the first distance races where I was extremely focused on my time and pace all throughout training. In high school I never raced more than a 5K – even then, as I’ve said here a million times, I just ran as fast as I could and hoped to beat my PR. We did track workouts and tempo runs in practices, but I didn’t have a Garmin; I just ran. Same with my first few half marathons and marathons…even my NYC Marathon…I just wanted to finish.

Brooklyn was my first half in over a year, and I really wanted to blow my PR out of the water. (Get it? Coney Island? HA!) I had faith I could do it, despite coming back from injury and having a slow training season. I’ve been more focused on running lately than I ever have been. I went into it feeling on top of the world, until race morning.

It was so tough, as races usually are. But never have I felt like dropping out as much as I did that day. I wondered what I was doing there.

I was pushing hard and was anxious. I liked the paces I was seeing but wanted to stop. I was terrified of re-aggravating my injury. Other than that, I don’t have a real reason for the intense fear I felt. It wasn’t hot, rainy, or freezing weather. It was was a beautiful day. There are no “excuses”. I just had to deal with it.

So, I distracted myself. I thought about people who couldn’t run. I thought about my training. I thought about how much being sidelined from an injury sucks and how thankful I was to have the opportunity to be there. I thought about the strong cancer patients and survivors I’ve met through work and how much cancer sucks. I repeated that I was strong and reminded myself of the reasons I run and why this race was important to me.

It worked! I PR’d with a 2:03 and a strong notion that I WILL beat my current goal time of 1:50. Yikes – it’s scary to say that…but that 2:03 came after a low-key-coming-back-from-injury-Spring that gave me the confidence I need to run the splits I eventually want to hit. Yes, I was exhausted. Yes, it was ridiculously hard to convince my mind to convince my body to keep moving. I could barely muster the strength for my signature sprint to the finish.

Half PR – check!

But I did it.

Thinking about that race more in depth made me realize one thing – I’m strong. The huge lesson I took away from this? I choose how to react and what decisions to make. THAT’S WHY I RUN. That’s why I want to reach a finish line. It empowers me.

Think about it: How do you find your strong in a race?

How could I forget…my loving family helps me find my strong, too!

So, now, while you’re thinking about that, I’m beyond thrilled to announce…

…suspense is building, right?…

Snowflake Suspense

(That was a really random photo, right? I Googled “suspense” images and that came up. So relevant. And hilarious.)



The lovely folks at Saucony are offering one of my lucky readers (US residents only, sorry international friends!) the chance to win a pair of Saucony trail, track, or road shoes! Awesome, right? Who doesn’t love shoes?

Please click here to enter the weekly contest. Then come back and leave a comment telling me about a time you pushed yourself to finish a race. I want to hear all about it! Your comment will be your entry. The contest ends on June 12th at 11:59pm and I’ll pick a winner via on Wednesday, June 13th.

Ready…set…inspire me!

*Many thanks to Saucony for providing the details and merchandise for this giveaway as part of my participation!

Brooklyn Half-Marathon Race Recap 5/19/12

Roller coasters.

Roller coasters were on my mind this morning. Not because I knew the Brooklyn Half finished on Coney Island, known for their hot dogs and carnival rides, but because of the feeling I get when riding them. To clarify, I hate roller coasters. I hate how they make me feel and the three I’ve ridden were each only because of constant taunting from my friends. They elicit a feeling that bubbles up gradually until I’m locked into the seat as the car starts moving, wondering why the heck I’m there and terrified because I have absolutely no way to get to safety. The only way out? Ride the ride.

That’s how I felt this morning in my corral. My thoughts were along the lines of “OH MY GOD WHAT AM I DOING HERE I SHOULDN’T BE IN THIS RACE I’M TERRIFIED HOW DO I GET OUT OF THIS.”

Oh. So. Dramatic.

Hello again, Verrazano. You’re a lot less crowded than the last time I visited you.

After hitting traffic (at 5 am, WTF), parking near the finish line, and riding the subway, I jogged from the subway station to the starting area. By that point A) My foot already was tingling and B) I couldn’t find the bathrooms at all. I ran around in circles, wondering how on earth I couldn’t find them. (Um hello, runners at races are perpetually always looking for port-a-potties, shouldn’t there be signage or something?) I finally tracked them down, waited in line while listening to an announcer saying “the corrals are now closing” repeatedly, and did that whole “should I stay in line? I’m leaving! UGH hurry up people” commentary back and forth in my head. (I chose to wait, if you care.) I sprinted to my corral and swooped in just before they started sending people to the back. Phew.

So, back to the roller coaster feeling. There I was, wondering if there was any way to get out this. I decided it would be more effort to do my commuting triathlon again, so I might as well run back to my car (again, conveniently located at the finish line). This is very unlike me…I LOVE racing, but injuries have done me in a little (AKA have made me a scared little girl). But because I started off a little on edge, I knew my mental state needed an upgrade. As “they” say, knowing is 90% of doing, or something like that. (I think I totally made that up. Is that a saying?) I pumped up my music and somehow, throughout the race, I made it happen. SPOILER ALERT; I PRed!

Miles 1-6: Running in Prospect Park = lovely. Lots of people cheering us on. Pace felt easy, but I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to keep it up. Then I asked myself, “WHY NOT?” and kept at it. However, the outside of my foot was hurting. I was freaking out and constantly thinking about it; probably just enough to make me forget I was supposed to be feeling tired. Still not sure I would finish and debated taking that whole “listening to your body” thing to heart and dropping out.

Miles 7-9: My foot either loosened up or went numb as we got to the flatter portion of the course. Feeling good.

Miles 9-12: Started hitting a wall. All of the following thoughts were in my head:





THERE IS AN OCEAN AT THE END OF THIS RACE. (Only slightly off-topic.)

Yes, apparently I scream at myself in my head, as evidenced by the ALL CAPS. Also, is it clear I’m originally from Iowa, a land-locked state? To this day, oceans still excite me more than normal.

Miles 12-13.1: I kept reminding myself that I can run a mile in my sleep and can do anything for 9 minutes; to which I promptly also reminded myself that this is a freakin’ half marathon, not a mile jaunt through the park.

The last 800 meters was the longest 800 meters I’ve ever run in my life.

It seemed really important to document this at the time.

Splits? Not so even, but here you go:

Exactly 13.10. This never happens.

I didn’t reach my sub-2 goal, but wasn’t expecting to today. I’m thrilled with my new PR of 2:03; my previous PR was 2:16, making this race a full 13 minutes faster. Speedwork, people. It works wonders.

One down, four to go.

Sidenote: beachside finish lines are quite possibly the best thing ever. Hot sand and freezing cold ocean water are fairly amazing on tired, sore feet.

Happy runners! Sun! Sand! Water! Perfection.

Does anyone else think of “The Sandlot” when they see a ferris wheel? No? Just me?


Sadly, Brendan couldn’t be at the race today. But look what I came home to! I’m the luckiest girl.

His note reminded me to RICE. What a guy.

Next up?

Working on that 5-Borough Challenge!

Since the race is over, I guess that means I have to start on Lora’s burpee challenge! Happy Saturday, everyone!

Did you run today? Have any good stories about improving a PR? What’s your favorite way to recover from a race? Also, you know what RICE means, right?

The Art of Doing Nothing and Other Random Musings

If what “they” say is true about the night before the night before a race being the most important for sleep, then I nailed it this time. I went to bed early-ish, after a relaxing yoga session (more on that later), fell asleep immediately, and slept through the entire night. I don’t think I even moved, which is unheard of for me. My friends call me a “flopper”, AKA I move around and kick all night. Flopping. Anyway, I slept wonderfully. It’s amazing what having a job will do for your sleep schedule. When I wasn’t working, I had the hardest time falling asleep every night…I’m talking hours of laying awake. Now, I’m out in 4 to 9 minutes. Exactly.

Wyatt likes sleep too, just like his mama.

Note: I left out the part about frozen yogurt for dinner; not the best decision pre-half but I can’t be perfect, right? I put strawberries on it, at least…my excuse is that I was hot from hot yoga. And wanted to hang with Brendan and Aaron. They didn’t love being seen with me in public with my hair all a sweaty mess, but that’s just the price you have to pay for my company, guys!

For today, I have a compilation of random thoughts from my train ride this morning. I get to think a lot on the train, and thinking is always a good thing to do, right? Here we go:

1) Yoga last night was weird. I went in expecting a hot Vinyasa flow class, which was noted on the schedule, but got a lot of chanting and stories and slow movements. I totally appreciate that that’s what some people are looking for, but it’s just not so much for me. Eventually we did move more and I fulfilled my mission of getting a good stretch for Saturday. It was certainly hot and I love feeling the heat seep into my muscles, so it was a win overall. But the teacher started creepily referring to tightening different body parts that I’ve never heard mentioned in a yoga class. Or in public. Maybe I just need to open my mind more. Or maybe I just need to find a hot yoga for runners class, because honestly, I’m so NOT in it for the peacefulness.

This is more my style. (Source)

2) In this technologically advanced generation, I’ve noticed that no matter where I am, like the train, no one “does nothing” anymore. Riding on the train? Waiting in line?*** Sitting in a taxi? Gotta pull out the phone. Do people enjoy life in front of them anymore? There is a phrase for this in Italian; L’arte di non fare niente . The Art of Doing Nothing. (I think I read that in the book Eat, Pray, Love). I AM GUILTY OF THIS TOO, just so you know. But I’ve been trying to stop and take in my surroundings lately. Today on my walk to said train, I decided, hey, I’m going to stop checking my email and look around and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. What a novel idea! I always preach about how uplifting the sun and warmth is and how anxious about summer I am, so why not fully embrace it? I wish trains had windows that slide open like on trolleys. Train trolleys!

Hooray for nature!

***Friendly discussion: IN line or ON line? East Coasters say ON line and it drives me nuts. You’re IN a line! There is no line you are standing ON!

3) How do we get companies to change how they operate in regards to excessive sitting at computers? I believe if we find a way as a nation to change how “desk jobs” operate by being innovative, we could solve a lot of health and productivity problems. And general uncomfortable-ness at work problems. Sitting on stability balls isn’t going to cut it. We need to do something that really gets to the core of the problem…why does work for so many people involve sitting only? What can we do about this?!


 4) How do you encourage people who don’t have the desire, drive, or education to live a healthy lifestyle, to have the desire to be healthy and get educated about it?

5) Do you ever stop in your tracks and think, “Wow, life moves SO quickly.”? I was driving yesterday and “Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith came on the radio and I was catapulted back to seventh grade and the Armageddon movie. Normally I would have changed the station. But, I’m such a nostalgic person about EV.ERY.THING. so I started thinking about junior high and my life in Iowa and I couldn’t believe how fast time has gone. It’s scary to me. Usually it’s a song that makes my mind wander to the past. Are you nostalgic too?


6) Friends, stop being so hard on yourself! Be kind to yourself and remember that YOU ARE important to take care of. So many people are awesome at supporting others, but don’t do the same for themselves. Follow the advice you would give to a good friend. One thing my yoga teacher said last night that resonated with me was “Be kind in self-talk to your body”. Don’t think negative thoughts about yourself all the time; be positive and “nice” to your body.

7) New Yorkers aren’t as rough and tough as they make themselves out to be. I can see right through that act now! They can be friendly, contrary to popular stereotypes (gasp!) I’ve sadly only learned this recently (after living here for 4 years), mind you. Remember, a smile goes a long way.

Enough with my thoughts, what’s on your mind today? Happy Friday!

Oh, and see you at the finish line! If you feel so inclined and want to help a sister out, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SEND INSPIRING TEXTS/TWEETS/EMAILS/CARRIER PIGEONS WITH TREATS throughout the race tomorrow. 7am start. I’ll be running with my phone and will be eternally grateful if you choose to send encouragement through various points in the race. I’ll definitely give you a high five at the LEAST!

Post race will consist of treats and snoozin’. Snoozin’ and treats.

Finding Your Strong

Thanks for the support on my last post, ladies and gents. I. AM. PUMPED. for Saturday and am feeling much more positivity flowing through my veins. And now, I have a few questions for myself:

Why do I limit myself?

Why WOULDN’T I be able to reach my goals?

Just because I’m not ready for something NOW, doesn’t mean I NEVER will be. HARD WORK PAYS OFF. Thanks for reminding me that I, too, can get there if I stay the course and continue to learn from every situation. I especially appreciate your relatable stories – it’s always nice to know I’m not alone here!

So, back to my day-to-day life which I know you love hearing about. I just finished my last easy run before the Brooklyn Half, complete with strides. My legs felt sluggish starting off but warmed up after a mile or so.

Weee! I Running!

I think I’ve “found my strong” just in time. You know, a la Saucony? I’ve been watching this video over and over ever since learning about Dorothy and her running story. As one of her readers I feel like I “know” her, which makes it even more exciting to see her in the video. She looks like such a champ. And I’m loving the arm warmers. And the headband. Need these ASAP. HASHTAG MARKETING GENIUS.

What does “Find Your Strong” mean?

Strong can be found in every runner.  Personal.  Powerful.  Insanely motivating.  We find strong in others.  We find it in ourselves, and when we share it, we all get stronger.

I’ve been focusing on the “when we share it, we all get stronger” sentiment ever since I began blogging; the running community is extremely open and supportive, and I’ve become so much more self-motivated and empowered by sharing and reading about others’ accomplishments. Seriously empowered. I am one million times more confident in myself and my athletic abilities…feelings a true passion should elicit. I  find my strong within myself, but like I said before, even if I have a terrible run, YOU all help me to see things in a positive light as well. THANK YOU. I aim to do the same for my readers, friends, and family. Share, and we all get better! Good deal, right? Let’s move forward.

I’m all about this #FindYourStrong campaign. All about promoting fitness and reaching goals. If you’ve spoken with me for more than 3 minutes, you know this. I especially like to alert people about influential, positive companies that I can get behind. Enter Saucony! Anytime a company makes a real effort to connect with their community, I notice. Again, it motivates me to be stronger. It makes me want to share that feeling. Remember Kindergarten? Sharing is caring!

Anyway, do you like cute, functional running clothes? ‘Cause I do. You would know this if you saw my drawers. They’re overflowing with workout gear, while my “work clothes drawer” is a little bare. I have a pretty pathetic work outfit rotation.

So, here’s your bonus: when you enter the #FindYourStrong contest by sharing your personal achievements (remember how sharing makes us ALL better?), you can win some fabulously cute gear to get strong(er) in. This week’s question: When I Was Stronger Than I Thought. Tell us about a time you rose to the occasion and beat the odds.

I’d say I was stronger than I thought when I signed up for Team In Training and ran my first marathon. I had moved all the way to New York from Iowa. I signed up to make friends and just to run, but I ended up raising money for blood cancers, meeting great people, and of course, running my first marathon…something I dreamed about since age 14, but wasn’t ever convinced I could do it. I was nervous. I was lonely. I was feeling down-and-out about running. People always told me that I was too short to be a runner. TOO SHORT TO BE A RUNNER?! What kind of crap is that. Again, I gradually felt empowered by surrounding myself with so many positive, inspirational people. And now I work for TNT! Funny how things turn out, right? I’m 100% certain that enveloping yourself in positivity – positive people and a positive attitude – brings good things.

Positive. Positive. Positive. Have I said it enough?

Write out your answer. Inspire others. Inspire yourself. Maybe win a jacket! Win-win-win.

*Note: if you win the jacket, I at least want a high five.

Other important things:

I got this email today. Thoughts?!

I’m leaning toward a big Y-E-S! Heyyy Philly!

Perfect for pre-Ragnar, right?

TELL ME: When were you stronger than you thought?  

ALSO IMPORTANT:WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE RUNNING SONGS!? I am compiling a new 13.1 playlist and would appreciate some suggestions. My iPhone welcomes any and all genres of music. He doesn’t discriminate.  

Learning From Every Run

I hope there’s some truth to the saying that if you have a horrible long run, the next one will be stellar.

Okay, maybe it’s not an official “saying” per se, unless you group tweets from well-meaning friends together with all those wise old proverbs (which I do).

You get out what you put in. A rolling stone gathers no moss. A stitch in time saves nine. It’s not over ’til it’s over. After a terrible long run, your next long run will be glorious.

Thanks for the pick-me-up, ladies!

I sure hope you two are right, because Saturday’s long run was NO BUENO.

Mistake #1: Never start a 10 mile run at 2pm. Especially not when the temperature is over 75 degrees.

Since I’m not necessarily training to RACE the Brooklyn Half on Saturday, I didn’t do much of a taper over the past week. I decided to stick with a 10 mile long run instead of scaling back. I AM hoping to PR, only because my current half PR was run while in marathon training, back when I barely ever noticed pace or had time goals in mind. I just ran to finish. (I feel sorry for old me! I love tracking my paces and evaluating as the season goes on now.)

I think that my experience and mental motivation should help propel me to a glistening new half PR, fully racing or not.

Back to Saturday. The first half of my 10 miles was fine. Hot and hilly, but I felt strong and continued to keep a semi-even pace with each mile. I even ran in two states! No big deal.

Hello, neighbor. Nice to see you!

Mistake #2: Don’t make your first mile your fastest one.

I NEVER DO THIS! I excel in warming up slowly and picking up my pace with each mile. However, in this run, my first mile was the fastest. I rested my foot all week and was a little overeager about getting back out there. Plus, I had been waiting all day; I’m used to long runs being first thing in the morning, but it just wasn’t feasible on Saturday. So there I was, anxious and semi-speedy and all hopped up on Nuun.

The hills nixed that fairly quickly.

They only make me stronger. They only make me stronger. And WTF miles 8-10?!

Around mile 7 I stopped to refuel for literally 20 seconds. It was all downhill from there.

Mistake #3: Don’t get lost.

I veered onto a high school cross country path that A) was totally overgrown in the middle. A weed whacker would have been useful. And B) the path randomly fed me into a fenced in soccer field, where I proceeded to run around in circles trying to find my way out.

Notice: random circles everywhere. This is just the last few miles of the run. Probably the reason why I was so worn out? Also, the roads aren’t even on this map. WHERE AM I.

Eventually I made it out of high school soccer field hell, and ended up finishing the last 4-ish miles extremely slowly and grumpily.

I haven’t had this bad of a run in months. MONTHS. I’ve never wanted a run to be over so badly. Legs dragging, heavy breathing, hot and sweaty and salty and exhausted. I think I needed it though. I need to remember that feeling; every run isn’t going to be all rainbows and butterflies, people! I’m trying to learn from this experience and remember what it’s like to struggle in a double digit run. I’ll be able to draw strength from this experience next time I’m toughing it out on a hard race course.

Since my friends say this means I’m going to dominate my next long run, AKA BROOKLYN HALF, I’ll take my less-than-stellar run with a grain of salt (another saying! I’m full of them!) and will continue to be positive about Saturday. I’ve spent a good portion of the past few days playing around with pacing calculators and have been trying to figure out every possible PR-worthy combination. I have my eventual sub-2 goal, on my phone alarm, calendar…I would write it on my forehead if that was socially acceptable.

However…Sub-2 isn’t something I’ve been training for seriously quite yet; this is more of a “hooray I’m finally back from injury and am running my first half in over a year” race. I have my coach Michele ready and waiting to get me there once we’re past Brooklyn. I WILL get there eventually, but I’m not going to be unrealistic about my first half back. I went into this planning it as a training run. I WILL stay motivated though, and will not be afraid to push myself. I WILL listen to how my body feels; I hope I have the strength to back off if my body tells me to.

For me, this race is about staying tough but smart. Motivated but cautious. Remembering why I run and why I’m out there zooming (I hope I’m “zooming”) through Coney Island. Simply for the love of it. As much as I want to go out there and absolutely dominate Brooklyn, I know I need to be careful. I want to run for life; not just now.

Maybe Saturday’s run felt rough in the moment. Maybe I didn’t follow “the rules” about pacing and fueling and proper time of day to run. But I made it happen. I finished. I wasn’t in any injury-related pain. I learned from it. I evaluated what I did wrong. I ran 10 miles. That’s nothing to shake a stick at! (That IS a saying, right?! What does it even mean?). A conscious runner learns from every run. I simply never come back after pounding the pavement as the same person. Through every step I’m growing and overcoming different challenges and becoming a better athlete.

If anything, it’s just another day of being FitFluential!

I even felt good enough the next morning to go to a light strength training class with my friend Sam and two ridiculously peppy instructors. We totally skipped the jumping parts; I’m being extra careful with jumps! I felt like a cheater! But the good news is, I wasn’t sore from my run the prior afternoon…which is amazing to me. I remember training for my first half-marathon and being unable to simply walk down subway steps after 9,10, or 11+ miles. How’s that for seeing specific, measurable results?

Must be my compression socks, right?! (Or maybe I’m getting stronger and tougher! Who knew.) Regardless, I’ve become obsessed with Pro Compression. I’m slowly adding to my collection and am still debating which color I should wear on Saturday. Pink, black, or white? Everyone says pink but I’m wearing neon pink shorts. Can you have too much pink? Probably not.

What do you think about running a race without fully “racing” every once in a while? Do you like to add races into your training plans like I do? Ever gotten lost on a run? Do you like compression socks? Running the Brooklyn Half? Let’s meet up!

9 Miles

This morning, I pulled on some knee high compression socks, slapped on my Garmin, and tied up my ridiculously colored, un-matchable but comfy Brooks Launch shoes, and I ran 9 miles. 9 gloriously pain-free miles (for the most part). I started out a little achy which seems to be normal for me. After the first 2-3 miles I loosened up and felt strong – every single mile was faster than the previous, with the exception of the last which I used as a cooldown. Yeahhhh negative splitting!

I spent the whole run thinking about running; my past, my future, and how soothing the sound of feet galloping on gravel is. Okay, maybe I wasn’t galloping but you know what I mean. I even enjoyed my favorite Gu! I haven’t had one since the NYC Marathon, and maybe they aren’t totally necessary on a 9 mile run, but I didn’t have anything in the house for breakfast and I thought I would want a little pick me up in the middle of the run.

Weeeee! YUM! I don’t know how people don’t love these.

I totally painted my nails to match.


I was all happy and skipping and proud when I finished. HOWEVER. Now, I have this weird, intense foot pain. I felt it the tiniest bit around mile 8.5, but it seemed like nothing. Now, 6 hours later, the outer edge of my left foot hurts like crazy…but only when walking. It doesn’t hurt to touch, it doest hurt when I’m sitting, but when I walk, I feel pain just on the outside of my foot. Right where the bony bump is on the edge, halfway between my toes and heel. That one little spot cries out with pain with every step.

It’s literally making me cry – more out of frustration than pain. I was on a running high this morning; I came home and analyzed my splits and compared this 9 miler to 9 milers over the past couple years AKA ever since I was blessed with the wonderful technological gadget that is the Garmin watch. This one was the fastest of the whole 9 miler bunch. Even some of my 10 milers!

I suddenly came crashing down from my spot in the clouds when I started to head out for the day and felt this new, random tingle that got worse with each step. Why do all these random things keep popping up? Is it my new shoes? Are my feet not used to them yet? My form? Overtraining? Did I never really heal from my last injury? The world hates me? I’ve never had a foot problem, this is new.

Honestly, I’m pretty sure I have solid running form. I’m fabulous at mid-foot striking. I’m neutral. I don’t bunch my arms up or move them across my body or clench my fists. I feel like a relaxed runner, even when I’m picking up the pace. Physical therapists have told me my form is great and not an issue. What’s going on?

The rest of the afternoon I’ll be trying to keep myself away from Google, and this:

Who knows if a foot bath will help? I just like the warm bubbly water.

This little foot bath was actually a gift to B from myself (aren’t I a great gift giver? Yes, that’s sarcasm.) because he is on his feet a lot and I get lazy about giving him foot massages. Anyway, I’m stealing it today – but he’s a good sharer so I’m sure he won’t mind. By the way, I think he is jealous that the roommates are becoming so famous on the ol’ blog so I’d like to introduce him:

Meet Brendan!

Remember his first 5k?  That’s where this picture is from. I’m so happy and he’s all “Dang you, woman. Why did I do this?”. (P.S. See?! Mid-foot strike! Maybe I do swing my arms across, though…hmm.)

You also met him via photos here and here, but I was sneaky about it and didn’t mention him. I’m sure you figured that out, though. You all are smart! So, here he is, the love of my life. Awww!

Anyway, this pain better go away magically overnight, because I have lots of running plans coming up:

5/19: Brooklyn Half Marathon

June/July/August : [insert various NYRR races that are opening for registration on Monday here]. My target half marathon will most likely be in August or September – my talented new running coach Michele at NYC Running Mama is graciously training me and we are thinking that perhaps the Bronx Half will be my big race! (Ahhh I have my own personal running coach! I feel so fancy. And she is amazing, I’m so looking forward to working with her!)

9/28-9/29: RAGNAR RELAY that Lora at Crazy Running Girl and I have been diligently trying to organize. I think we have recruited about 5 lovely ladies to our team! I am beyond excited, a relay has been a goal of mine for a long time. OH, and by the way, she told me last night that the relay will be a few short weeks before her wedding, so OBVIOUSLY this is going to be a bachelorette party style relay. HOW FUN DOES THAT SOUND?!? I’ve been secretly planning outfits and bachelorette-ish things for our runs so I hope she’s prepared.

October or November: Post “big half”, I want to continue training for a Fall marathon.

SEE ALL THE PLANS? I hope you’re listening, foot. I don’t have time to play games.

Tell me something wonderful; a great thing that happened to you today, a fun,sweaty, workout you did, a good book you’ve read…yay for positivity!

Checking in on Brooklyn Half Training

Hello, friends! And a big CONGRATS to all you Boston runners! Seems like it was an especially tough one with the hot weather. I’m so proud of all my friends who participated. I want to hear all about it and am stalking all of your blogs waiting anxiously for your recaps :)

So, I feel as though I’ve been spread a little thin over the past couple days. I’m trying to keep up with everyone in my family/friends/running and/or blogging world but also trying to convince my new employer that I’m amazing and lovely and a good hire, of course.

On a lunchtime walk...such a cute little work neighborhood! And, yay America! (See the flag?!)

So far, work-wise, I’m feeling good about things.

All day I was antsy for my 5 mile run in the beautiful NYC weather, but when I headed outside tonight my legs felt so heavy. Plus, I couldn’t fit my Stick or a foam roller in my bag, so no muscle massage action for me pre-run. No bueno.

I ran uptown to Central Park from work (which is further downtown). BAD IDEA. Nothing like a lot of stop-and-go at every block to start a run off on the wrong foot. All of the speeding up, slowing down, and weaving in and out was tiring and unproductive. But once I made it to the park I felt better – I found a little more pep in my step, if you will! I totally thrive off energy from all the other sweaty people who frequent the little green oasis in the middle of the huge city. Love it.

I entered Central Park around the 72nd Street Transverse and did a loop. I followed no particular path, just ran.

You can't see them, but there were lots of happy runners!

5 miles, complete. Add it to the Brooklyn Half training books. (Yes I DO actually have a book!)

I think the elevation profile looks kind of scary but it wasn’t so bad:

Imagine if that's what the hills actually looked like? All steep, sharp and jagged-like?!

This Saturday I think I need to scale back my long run to let my body recover a bit from the big increase in training. What do you guys think?

Overall, I’m happy with my Brooklyn Half training. I feel as though I’m progressing and am doing what I can to get faster, but again, am trying my best to watch out for those terrible toos: too much, too fast, too soon.  I do NOT want to do anything to hurt my body again. On my run today I was thinking about how hard it is to just SLOW DOWN sometimes (slow down your neighbors! HA! Anyone watch Modern Family and know what I’m talking about?)

Personally, when I’m surrounded by lots of people (especially in Central Park) I want to keep up.  I don’t want to slow down. I don’t want to take it easy.

I want to run fast. I want to improve. I seriously enjoy watching my pace improve day to day. Sometimes my body seems totally on board with it…more miles? 2 minutes per mile faster than normal? Faster than recovery pace? Sureeeee! Who needs an easy run?!

But then later it tells me that maaaaybe upping the ante wasn’t such a good idea. It always tells me one way or another. I need to learn to distinguish between those times when I can push a little harder, and when I need to recover. I think this weekend I need to recover a bit. Remember, you need to recover to get better, too!

Since it’s now past my bedtime and I’m too tired to formulate any inspirational thoughts, I want to send you to Abby’s blog, Run Stronger Every Day.  She’s much more eloquent than I am, and I love this post she just wrote about some all-star ladies. Oh, and watch the video! NO EXCUSES! Thanks to Ms. Abby for motivating me every day.

Tomorrow I’ll be FlyWheeling it up for some cross training and am trying out a new teacher, Aleah. Can’t wait – I’ve heard so many good things about her!

How’s your week? How often do you scale back on your long runs? Do you follow some sort of percentage rule? I’m terrible at math – help! What’s your favorite trail/path/street to run?! Do share!

Miles for Breakfast

There is nothing better than a track workout, people. NOTHING! At least after the fact.

My favorite breakfast is officially a whole bunch o’ speedy miles on the track. Or in today’s case, 5 miles.

Allllright, really just 2 speedy miles plus a bunch of warming/cooling/recovering. (I’m easing back into things, remember!?) Anyway, I digress.

For today’s edition of  “Kara’s Brooklyn Half-Marathon Training Saga”, I present you my first speed working in a very long time. My current plan is a mixture of the Smart Coach program from the Runners World website and a book I’m reading called “Smart Marathon Training” by Jeff Horowitz.

Speed Workout

1 mile warm up

2 x 1 mile w/ 800m recovery jog

1 mile cooldown 

When I plugged by numbers into the handy McMillan Running Calculator, I used my last half-marathon time from April 2010 (SO LONG AGO! Makes me sad. I’ve run two marathons since then but I miss the half distance, it’s my favorite).

Anyway, the pace it gave me for mile repeats was around 9:05. I didn’t think that sounded hard enough (especially for only 2 repeats) but seeing as this would be my first speed workout in a long time, I figured I’d see how it went and adjust.

8-lane gem at the University of Iowa!

After a slow warm up on a nearby trail, I started my mile repeats on the track. Definitely could have done this workout on the trail but I’ve been itching to get back to the Tartan. (Did you know Tartan is the popular brand name for synthetic, all-weather tracks?).You’re welcome for that exciting fact of the day.

I settled into a good pace; it wasn’t comfortable, but didn’t feel unmanageable for the whole interval. My 800m recovery jog was really slow. I definitely over-hydrated because my stomach felt a little uneasy going into the second interval – too much water sloshing around. Oops!

I was pushing it on the 2nd mile; it was tough but I felt strong. I was trying to channel Kara Goucher but I don’t think I was quite to her pace. But it did motivate me to think of her accomplishments and how hard she works. Thanks other Kara!

The cooldown was again, super slow. Here’s my question: does it matter just how slow your warm up/recovery/cooldown pace is? I know you need to run slow enough to recover…but is there a “too slow”? Do you try to stay within a specific range? 

Just wondering. I could have picked up the pace during my recoveries but just took it super easy (as referenced by recovery 1. Ouch).

Here are the stats you’ve been impatiently waiting for, I’m sure:

I guess I was being too conservative with my pacing – 9:05 was obviously more than do-able. I’ll take the 8:25 and 8:35…even though half of you can run that pace for the whole 13.1! PLEASE HELP ME.

Oh, and no knee/hamstring/hip pain!

I already can’t wait for my next speed workout. Even though they always make me nervous, I kept reminding myself of my half-marathon PR goal and that “to run fast, you have to run fast!” It feels so great to be working toward a goal and to know I’m doing the right things to become a better runner.

Oh and in case you were wondering, yes I’m sad about Kansas losing in the National Championship game last night, but I’m so proud of the team and of a season during what everyone said was a “rebuilding year”. We made it to the NCAA Finals…I’ve been part of a championship in my lifetime…we are contenders in the tournament pretty much every year….and we have the best coach in the world. I’ll take it! Love my Jayhawks!

Obviously I’m maturing. I’ve never taken a loss this well. +1 for me.

How do you calculate your pace for speed work? Do you use online calculators? Do you stay within a certain range during recovery/cooldowns? How about a good speed workout, guys?! Isn’t it the best??