Mantra Me that PR

My own personal pacer, Megan, and me postrace.

My own personal pacer, Megan, and me postrace.

I set a 5K PR today and I have my new running mantra to thank.

On Thursday, I set out for my usual 5-mile lunchtime loop run. I had done intervals the day before and wanted to take it easy to prep for my race this weekend, a 5K. So, I started the run around 9:04/mile pace and I was feeling pretty good.

It was an overcast day and it was one of those runs where I was able to just let my mind wander, not worry about the work waiting for me when I got back, and just enjoy the miles. My second mile pace dropped down to 8:37. Huh. I guess I’m feeling pretty good, I thought. I decided to try to just maintain the 8:30ish pace for the remainder of the run and finish feeling good and fresh for my race.

Third mile: 8:34/mile. Ok, not too far off the previous one but getting faster and still feeling good. Fourth mile: 8:24/mile. This mile gave me pause because I thought I was on my way to a pretty solid progression run so at that point I set the intention to finish strong and fast (hoping for a 7:?? for my fifth mile).

This is when I came up with my new run mantra- “Last mile, strong mile. Kick it in.”

I wanted the 7:?? For my last mile. I really wanted it. So I channeled my inner Mary Cain, known for her incredible final kick, and kicked it in… “Last mile, strong mile. Kick it in.”

When I finally went in for the last 200m of my run and heard the beep of my Garmin for mile 5, I looked down at my watch- 7:45/mile.

I was really proud of myself after this run and it truly taught me the importance of having a mantra that you can fall back on to help you kick it in during that last hard mile.

Saucon to Boston 5K

So today when I went to run the Saucon to Boston 5K, I told myself, if it starts to feel too hard and I’m beginning to feel too uncomfortable I’ll just remind myself of my mantra. Well, I used it today and it worked.

I went to the race with Megan and Kelsey. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with this race. It was local, we signed up last-minute, and it was very small but it meant a lot to me to be able to do a run dedicated to Boston and the victims of the bombings. It was a beautiful morning, a little warmer than I would’ve liked, but it just felt great to get outside with friends and the local running community.

We did an easy warmup mile and Megan told me if I wanted to PR she would pace me for the race. Secretly, I really wanted to set a new PR but I hadn’t really done my normal race day prep so I wasn’t sure if my body would cooperate. I was feeling pretty good on our warmup so I told Megan I was all in, let’s set this PR.

My previous 5K PR was set at the Boston Marathon B.A.A. 5K on April 14, the day before the Boston Marathon. My time there was 25:23, a 5K PR by more than 2 minutes. I knew my next PR wouldn’t be that big this time, but I really wanted to break the 25-minute mark.

Race Time

This was a no-frills race- no chip time, about 100 people, no corrals- but I almost like those races better than the bigger ones. We lined up kind of close to the start and when the gun went off, Megan and I set off, dodging running strollers, people running with dogs, and little kids. Despite the obstacles, we were able to get into a break and ran the first mile in 7:56.

I wasn’t feeling 100 percent, my breathing was heavy, and my arms kept creeping up instead of staying in the optimal 90 degree position. But Megan, being the awesome pacer she was, kept reminding me to take a deep breathe and relax my arms. She said we’d run the next mile a little easier since we got a bit too excited at the start.

This was an out-and-back course on a gravel rail trail so when the turnaround point was in sight I could feel my body settle in- this is it. We kept trying to pick people off and Megan continued to remind me to keep my arms relaxed and ease my breathing. It all helped but by mile 3, I was starting to enter the pain zone. I had yet to look at my watch, I didn’t want to know where we were in the race or what my pace was, but at 2.58 miles, an 800 to go, I looked and saw we were on pace to PR. Megan yelled at me for looking but I feel like that’s when I was able to kick it into gear. I didn’t feel great but I reminded myself of my mantra: “Last mile, strong mile. Kick it in.”

The finish line was in sight and Megan turned to me and told me to open up my stride and that it was “balls to the wall here on out.” I did as I was told and gunned it to the finish coming in at 24:59, squeaking just under my goal of breaking 25-minutes. I was ecstatic and so proud of myself! Was it fun? No, not really, I felt like crap most of the time. But I did it, thanks to Megan and my mantra.

Thumbs up for PRs!

Thumbs up for PRs!

Postrace

We walked through the finishing chute grabbed our waters and went to pick up our shirts. Not too long after Kelsey joined us. She set a PR too of 25:50, nearly a 3-minute PR! Her race strategy was the keep us in sight for as long as she could, and it clearly worked.

I never knew the benefit of having a mantra because I never had my own. I tried to use other people’s mantras but I truly believe a mantra is something that can only be manifested on a really tough run. Mantras are so deeply personal in that respect, but I think that’s why they work, right? “Last mile, strong mile. Kick it in.”

What is your running mantra and how has it helped you?

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Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day 10-K Race Recap

Post race celebrations with Paige and Lindsey!

Post race celebrations with Paige and Lindsey!

Last weekend I ventured back to Massachusetts to run the infamous Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Road Race, a 10-K in the small western Massachusetts city known to have the second largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the country (this is no joke).

I registered for the race with a group of my best friends from home, which included my cousin (and faithful running buddy) Paige, my other running buddy Lindsey, another friend Lindsay, and Paige and Lindsay’s’ boyfriends, Johnny and John. No, we never get confused with all the common names.

Anyway, we all had very different goals going into this 10-K. Paige, Lindsey and myself are all training for marathons and had a long 17-miler on the schedule for the day after the race. Lindsay is training for her first half and was using this as a training run. John was trying to PR and go for a sub-50 10-K which he blew out of the water with a 46-minute finish. And Johnny just joined in for fun and beat all the girls.

Because I had a long run to do the next day I made myself promise not to race this road race. That last all of a mile and a half before I got way too excited and wanted to run faster.

The race began at 1:00 p.m., which was the latest start time I’ve ever experienced and made fueling beforehand difficult. We got to the start early because there were 7,000 people registered to run (just under 6,000 actually crossed the finish) so we wanted to ensure we’d have time to park and get to our corral.

We didn’t even know there would be corrals until we got there and made the joint decision to jump in the 8:00/mile section. The corral was packed and there was hardly enough room for me to sync my Garmin, let alone tie a shoe or stretch. But this helped because it was a cold, windy day so body heat was welcomed.

The race itself went really well. The course was pretty hilly, with the first major hill coming at mile 2, followed by a stretch of rolling hills until about mile 4. A huge downhill came just around 4.5 miles and it was a great opportunity for runners to kick up the pace and eat some time. I came running down the hill at 7:40/mile pace.

Overall the race was well organized and I thought the course was great. The people of Holyoke came out in droves and provided excellent spectator support along the entire route, which really helped to power runners up the hills. I think it would have been great if the race organizers provided an elevation chart prior to the race so runners could know where the hills were to better strategize how they were going to handle the course but I couldn’t find any so I just had to wing it.

My official time came in at 53:55, an 8:34/mile average. Splits:

Mile 1 – 9:14/mile
Mile 2 – 9:22/mile
Mile 3 – 8:55/mile
Mile 4 – 8:42/mile
Mile 5 – 7:41/mile
Mile 6 – 7:56/mile
Mile 7 – 2:03/mile (for 0.28)

I think, had I intended to actually race the course and planned out a strategy, I could have done better but this is a hard race to race if you’re not at the front of the pack. The first two miles were slow because the field was so congested. I think the hills split up the field a bit which helped but the beginning definitely hurts times for runners not at the front.

Despite some minor changes, I would absolutely run this race again, especially given the same company I had during and after the race. There’s a huge block party following the race and being able to spend the time with my friends was the icing on the cake!

A prerace photo with my friends before the Holyoke St. Patrick's Day 10-K!

A prerace photo with my friends before the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day 10-K!

Walt Disney World Half-Marathon Race Recap

Last Saturday I ran the Walt Disney World Half-Marathon and shocked myself with a huge PR! I went into this race thinking I’d just run it and take it easy- I’d be happy with whatever finish time I got. But at a certain point in the race, I knew I was on track to set a big PR so I decided (literally mid-race) to start racing.

I was put in corral B and lined up with Megan and Cait, two of my speedy Runner’s World co-workers, and we all had on our matching Runner’s World singlets. They were doing the Goofy Challenge (running the half and the full the next day) so they said they were going to take it easy during the half, which meant they would run at my pace (#slowpokediaries).

Disney Singlet pic

Cait, Megan and I before the race started (at about 4 a.m.)

We were right next to the 2:00 pacer but soon realized he was actually going much faster than he was supposed to.  Some of our other coworkers, Robert, Jeff, Mark and Chris, who were a little farther back in the corral, caught up to us and promptly zoomed by because they were taking it easy too- which meant 7:38 pace for them.

I forget exactly when Megan and Cait got away from me but it was somewhere around 5 miles. I was fine with this though because I really didn’t want to push it too hard or hold them back. However, it was also around this point when I realized I was pretty far ahead of the 2:00 pacer. This is when I decided to kick it up.

Looking back this was probably the worst time to kick it up because we were about the enter the Magic Kingdom where the course would narrow down from a four-lane highway to a three-abreast road, but we all make mistakes- especially in races. I did a lot of weaving and dodging going through the park but I have to admit it was pretty cool to run through it and see all of the characters.

Running through the Magic Kingdom got me really pumped and my pace reflected that- I was running 8:50’s which is a bit quick for a half for me. But once we left the park we were back to the highway and back to boredom and I also saw the 2:00 pacer get ahead of me.

I honestly really hated the highway portions of the half, which unfortunately was the majority of the course I think. The highways were pretty bare except for the water stops and some marching bands along the way. Also, the on-ramps killed me because the contour of the ramp was really hard on my hips.

I tried not to look at my watch during the race because I wanted to run at a pace that felt comfortable, not at a pace that would predict an ideal finish time but around mile 11, just before a huge on-ramp, I checked and saw that I was doing much better than I anticipated. However, at this point the sun was starting to come over the trees and it was getting HOT.

This last on-ramp killed me. After running on a flat course for the majority of a race and then hitting a quarter mile on-ramp with a tough contour, I was exhausted. I just wanted to be done. But I knew I was so close, I could hear the announcer yelling out finisher’s names so I decided to push.

The course had us run around the big space ball at Epcot and come in for the home stretch. I glanced at my watch to see the distance and it read 13.08 but the finish line seemed so far away. Nevertheless, I pushed through the pain in my legs and my possibly dehydrated self and crossed the finish line in 2:02:22– a HUGE 17-minute PR! I really thought I was going to go sub-2 (and my Garmin said I ran 13.28 miles so I probably did go sub-2 for 13.1) but I was so ecstatic!

As soon as I crossed I was delirious and tired and just wanted water. I got my medal and made it back to the race retreat somehow where I was greeted by all of my coworkers with congratulations.

Finished!

Finished!

I learned a lot from this race that I didn’t expect going into it.

  • This was not a goal race for me by any means but I knew I’d do better than my first half but I honestly didn’t expect to PR by that much.
  •  I knew the course was going to be pretty flat, which to me meant it would be fast, but it ended up being really hard on my legs. I couldn’t believe how tired they were after the finish.
  • I was nervous because I didn’t get a lot of sleep the night before (race started at 5:30 a.m. and I had to be on the bus to the race retreat at 3 a.m.- i.e. 2:30 a.m. wake up) but I don’t think it effected my running too much.
  • I wish I hadn’t been on my feet the Thursday and Friday before the race but I was working so there wasn’t much I could do about that.
  • I thought the heat was going to be hard but really it was the humidity that killed it. I have been used to running in the northeast so suddenly running in completely different weather conditions was a shock.
  • I ran in new running apparel, which is usually a bad idea, but I had to wear my awesome Runner’s World singlet and now, I will forever think of it as lucky.

I know this is a super long recap (and I usually hate race recaps like this) but I think this race deserved it. The Disney Half-Marathon was a great race and although it would have been amazing to run sub-2, I am really, really happy with the outcome!

Final stats:

13.28 miles in 2:02:22

9:11 average pace

1585 calories

Did you run at the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend? If so, how did it go?

Registered for my second half marathon!

Exciting announcement folks! I have registered for my second half marathon! Literally before I even crossed the finish line at the Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon I kept thinking, I cannot wait to sign up for another 13.1. Well, as of yesterday morning I am registered for the St. Luke’s Half Marathon in Allentown, PA on April 28.

I’ve heard really good things about this race already. For one, it is in the town next to me so it will be really nice to not have to travel far for a race. Also, it’s a scenic course through some of Allentown’s parks. The race is about medium sized with a 4,000 runner limit and has a course time limit of 3 hours so it should be pretty competitive.

Why did I sign up? Well, I’ve come up with a semi-informal race schedule for 2013 that will (hopefully!) end in a full marathon in the fall. My plan is to first work on some speed by training for a sub-50 minute 10K, which I’ll run in January. Then, I want to run two half marathons in the spring/early summer before I start training for a full.

I realize this is a little bit ambitious but if all goes as planned I know I’ll be able to have the endurance to run a full marathon and with any luck I’ll lower my half marathon time. While the St. Luke’s Half Marathon is about six months away, the 14-week training plan, designed by Runner’s World’s own Chief Running Officer, Bart Yasso, begins on January 19- the weekend after my 10K (perfect timing, right?). So for now, I’ll focus on my 10K training until it’s time to ramp up for the half!

Have you been thinking about your 2013 race schedule? What’s your running goal?

Race Recap: Cambridge Oktoberfest 5K and a new PR!

This past weekend was absolutely fantastic! I was able to see my Dad play for his acoustic duo (probably the last time I’ll see him play for awhile), I had a great going-away dinner with my entire family and my closest friends and on Sunday I PR’d at the Cambridge Oktoberfest 5Kand ran the race with some of my best friends! I don’t think it can get much better than that.

I registered for the 5K sometime during the summer and hadn’t really been focusing on it at all because I had been focusing so much on the half marathon. However, last week I did a little speed work to prep for the race and was feeling pretty good about the race. I was also looking forward to it because I was going to run it with my cousin Paige and my friend Lindsay who had both run it last year and said it was a blast!

I stayed over my friend’s apartment the night before the race to spend some time with her and be closer to where the race was actually taking place. I was pretty disappointed when I woke up however because it was cloudy and raining- I swear, every single race I run has been in the rain, I’m over it. But I got dressed, had a slice of toast, put on my hoodie and we were off.

Pre-race shot of myself at the finish line!

We met up with Paige, Lindsay and their boyfriends at the starting line outside of Cambridge Brewing Company, who was sponsoring the race, in Cambridge, Mass. We had quite some time before the race started so we took a bunch of pictures and did some dynamic stretching to get ready.

Around 9:45 a.m. we started to head over to the start line, which was about a quarter of a mile away from where the race would finish. Paige really wanted to line up at the front of the pack because she didn’t want to get lost in the sea of runners. I thought this would probably be a terrible idea because although we’re good runners, we’re not THAT good and I thought we’d be trampled. Lucky for us, when the gun went off, we were able to get out front and keep a really solid, fast pace for the beginning of the race.

I was SO disappointed my Garmin didn’t find a signal in time for the start but Paige was tracking the course on her iPod nano so we knew we’d have the most accurate times. Lindsay and I kept pace with Paige and her boyfriend for the first mile but they’re much faster than us so we lost them after that. Lindsay’s boyfriend was trying to PR with a time under 21 minutes so he was long gone ahead of us too.

I forget exactly when I lost Lindsay but she was dealing with a pretty bad stomach cramp and had to slow down a bit. I was feeling really good however and thought I had some extra energy to kick it up. As I came to the 2 mile marker I was feeling great and I knew I was going at a pretty good pace. My legs felt fresh and my breathing was steady.

When I passed the 3-mile mark the timer read 26:32 and I could not believe it! My last 5k I ran in 28:09 so I was going much faster for this one. Then something weird happened, the last leg of the race, which should have been .1 miles seemed like it went on forever! When I finally crossed the finish line the timer read 27:32- this is arguable still a huge PR for me but I was dying to get 26:??. I was still extremely proud of myself and at that point I was just focused on finding Paige and the two boyfriends while we waited for Lindsay to cross.

When I finally found them in the sea of runners Paige told me her watch said the course was actually 5.58 kilometers which we clocked out to be roughly 3.5 miles. I don’t know exactly how much time off that would mean to get my 3.1 mile time but it is most certainly in the 26:??-area!! I was on cloud 9 at this point and was ready for the much-talked-about Oktoberfest after party.

We met up with Lindsay and all went to claim our complimentary beers. The race coordinators were blasting some German techno music and even though we had zero idea what the lyrics were, we had a blast dancing in the streets with all of the runners. There was a dance off and Lindsay and I even took part in an impromtu limbo contest- it was awesome!

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After the race we grabbed a bite to eat at the Cambridge Brewing Company and drank some much needed waters. After lunch I said goodbye to Lindsay and Paige, arguably the worst part of my weekend because I knew I wouldn’t be seeing them for a very long time but it was definitely the best way to spend my last weekend with them!

Overall the weekend was amazing- an unexpected huge PR, fun times with my friends and family- doesn’t get much better than that!

Have you ever had a completely unexpected PR? Tell me about it in the comments section below!

Hampton Rockfest Half Marathon race recap

After months of training, the race day finally came last Sunday and I ran my very first half marathon. I feel like I have so, so much to share about the experience of running this half that it frankly will not fit into one post. Therefore, I’m going to break it up into two- a race recap (this one!) and then a lessons learned reflection.

For those of you who have been following my running escapades over the last eight-ish months, you know where I started- a couch to 5k program last March. Before starting this program, I could barely run a mile and the only running I ever did was for sports in high school. But for some reason, I decided I needed to start, so I started slowly. Before I knew it I was running more than 3.1 miles and my cousin, Paige, convinced me in June to register for a half marathon with her- the Hampton Rockfest Half Marathon. At this point, the most I had ever run was just under 6 miles, but we were both convinced we’d have plenty of time to train in the four months before the half.

Turns out we had plenty of time and before we knew it we were running even more than 13.1 miles on our weekend long runs! All of our hard work and dedicated training finally came to fruition this past Sunday when we crossed the finish line on Hampton Beach.

We planned out our weekend accordingly. Because we would have to travel to New Hampshire for the race, I stayed over Paige’s apartment on the North Shore (of Massachusetts) with our friend Lindsey, who was also running with us. This would be the first half for Paige and myself but Lindsey had run a few before. Once we were all settled in at Paige’s we decided to head up to NH to pick up our bib numbers so we wouldn’t have to deal with picking them up before the race. Turns out, that was a great decision and the packet pickup was also super easy.

My lovely number after the packet pickup.

We came home after and made a delish baked ziti, drank one glass of red wine each to calm the nerves and watched a few episodes of some trashy reality television before heading to bed at 10:30 p.m. Of course, I had a hard time falling asleep because I was thinking about what was about to go down the next day but eventually I fell asleep and woke up to my alarm blaring at 5 a.m. After making our breakfast and fueling up on coffee, we headed out of the house by 6 a.m. to get to the race with enough time to spare.

We arrived at the race around 7:15 and spent most of the time before the race waiting in line for the port-a-potty. When we were all set and warmed up, we headed to the start line. I couldn’t believe how many runners there were (more than 5,000!) and the start line was a little claustrophobic because of it, but the mass of bodies helped to keep us warm.

Awkward pre-race selfie at the start line.

That was the other problem. I think we may have had the WORST weather ever with temperatures in the low 50s and a steady, cold rain falling the entire time. Needless to say, after I crossed the finish line and stopped moving I was a frozen popsicle.

The race itself was pretty amazing and the course was pretty easy. It started off with a roughly 1-mile loop around the corner which crossed back over the start line. This was great because we were able to run through the crowd of spectators for a second time. The course then traveled down the beach road for about 2 miles before it cut off into the neighborhoods of Hampton, NH. This was kind of weird because we were literally running through residential neighborhoods and for awhile there were hardly any spectators which was not fun. However, because there were so many runners, the morale along the course was really high and we were even able to talk to a bunch of other runners along the route.

We had decided at mile 7 we would pick up our first cups of water and take our gels. This proved to be a little more difficult than we had anticipated because the water station was so crowded and some runners kept stopping before we could get to the water. Water in hand, we took off, ripping our gels open and refueling. After taking the gels I definitely had some fresh energy and felt great. However, some point right after mile 7 I got lost in the pack and Paige and Lindsey went on ahead. This was ok for me though because I knew they were going to speed off eventually (they are a lot faster than me) but I felt good at my pace and wanted to maintain it.

The last few miles went pretty smoothly. The course was extremely flat except for a moderately steep hill around mile 9, but once I got to the top of the hill I had a breathtaking view of the ocean and could almost make out the finish line down on the beach. I felt really good at this point but had to take it easy going down the hill because the pavement had gotten SO slippery because of the rain.

As I crossed into mile 11 I heard someone screaming my name and saw my parents jumping up and down on the side of the road. I knew they were going to be there but I wasn’t sure where they would be along the route because it wasn’t super well-routed for spectators. It was incredible to see them though and it gave me the extra encouragement I needed to blast to the finish line. With two miles left, my legs were started to feel crampy and heavy, mostly because of the cold. My hands were also freezing so I kept having to shake them to try to keep them warm. But overall, the last two miles were fantastic. With about a half mile left, the spectator crowd got thicker and I saw my parents again screaming my name. As I pushed hard to get across the finish line and pass a few more people I started to get emotional because I honestly could not believe I had done it! I crossed the finish line at 2:18:09 (not my best but the weather definitely took a toll) and someone placed a medal around my neck and I was ecstatic!

Finisher’s medal!

After finding my parents, I was walking around to find water and I heard two people call out my name and all of a sudden I was embraced by my two best friends Sydney and Angela! They had come all the way up to NH from Boston to see me cross the finish line. I’m getting emotional now as I write this because I was just so happy that they had come out to see me. They’ve been with me this whole time and have even wondered if I was going a little overboard with running but have been supportive no matter what. It meant so much to me that they were there.

At the finish line with my mom, and two best friends, Angela and Sydney!

Unfortunately because it was so cold and Paige, Lindsey and I were soaking wet, we didn’t want to stay around too much for the race after-party so we decided to all go out to lunch somewhere warm. I’ll talk more about the lessons learned in another post but overall the half was an amazing experience and the first thought I had after crossing the finish line: I can’t wait to do it again!

Picking the perfect pre-race breakfast

(via Pinterest)

After months of training, I am now three days away from running my first ever half marathon. I can’t believe how fast it has come but I feel so confident in my training and ready to run happy. However, one of my biggest concerns this past week has been how to fuel my body before the race.

I asked some friends and sought advice from Runner’s World and Active.com and the one major take away from everything- don’t change anything. I’ve known this all along, the worst time to try something new is on race day but I have a problem. In my training thus far, I really haven’t had much to eat on long-run days besides a cup of coffee and some water. Even when I did my 14-miler, the only thing I ate beforehand was a pack of Chomps and Gatorade.

However, I have fueled before some smaller races before with a slice of whole grain toast, some fruit (usually strawberries or oranges) and some coffee. This has always been a pretty good pre-race meal to me so I think I’m going to stick to this for the half as well.

After further research however, I had questions like, how much time should I leave between breakfast and start time. The answer I found from Runner’s World was at least two to three hours before. Although this will mean a very early morning for me (the race starts at 8 a.m. but I’ll have to be there at 7 a.m. and it’s an hour away) but it will allot enough time for digestion so I can start feeling nourished but not full and heavy.

According to the Runner’s World article as well I should sip water up to a half and hour before the race starts, this way I’ll be hydrated but not over-hydrated and have to stop at a port-a-pottie along the course.

Since I’ve basically already decided on doing my toast-fruit-coffee routine, I’m not planning on trying anything different but I’m interested in why this has worked for me in the past? According to an Active.com article, a solid pre-race meal should consist of 80 percent carbohydrates. The article said the type of carbs isn’t as important but many runners, like myself, tend to choose more bland foods like a whole grain toast or some runners like oatmeal.

Some ideas for pre-race fuel could be:

  • Bagel or toast topped with either peanut butter or a low-fat spread– many people eat this for breakfast routinely so it’s always good to stick to routine come race morning. Also, bagels and toast are chalk-full of carbs which are needed for fuel during a race.
  • Bananas– lots of runners love bananas as an addition to any pre-race meal (personally, I hate bananas so I can’t speak to this very much) but they have 30 grams of carbohydrates, low in fat and high in potassium which is lost while sweating during running.
  • Energy Bar– a lot of runners eat energy bars before a race but this is something you really have to be careful with in terms of not trying anything new. Stick to a bar you know that’s rich in carbohydrates but not too high in fat or protein (save those bars for after the race).
  • Shakes– there are a lot of runners who like to make a real-replacement shake before a race. I’ve never tried this but there are tons of recipes out there for these kinds of shakes.
  • Oatmeal– this is another good fuel-boosting carbohydrate option. It’s bland but won’t upset your stomach while racing.

I would also recommend drinking some kind of caffeine if you’re a frequent morning caffeine-drinker. I have coffee every morning so I try not to change this on race day but sometimes I’ll opt for caffeinated tea on race day instead of coffee (because I like cream in my coffee and that can be weird).

As always, DON’T try anything new on race day. A poorly picked pre-race meal could possibly wipe out all of those months of training and preparation. Stick to what you know, race hard and look forward to that amazing post-race meal!

What is your go-to pre-race breakfast fuel? Share your thoughts with me in the comments section below!

Week 16: Half-marathon training update

(via Pinterest)

I can’t believe my first half-marathon is now only one week away! That being said, this past week I started to taper my miles so I’ll be prepped and ready to go for next weekend.

This week as super busy and hectic for a variety of reasons, one of which I will announce tomorrow because it’s a HUGE deal!! But training-wise I did pretty well. I’ve never run a half obviously so it was weird to taper because after running a 14-miler last Saturday I just wanted to do it again. But in the spirit of not getting injured and storing my energy, I did what my training plan told me to do and tapered.

Monday was my crazy busy day so unfortunately I only had enough time to do a quick yoga session and ab workout in the morning. I was on the move for the rest of the day which I will talk about later..

On Tuesday I did a 2-mile pick up run with quicker paces of 8:03/mile and even some 7’s thrown in there. I was really tired from work and the day before but I knew I had to get this run in so I sucked it up.

I had planned to run 3 miles on Wednesday but my foot was really bothering me for some reason so I ended up just doing 2-miles (and change). However, because I cut my mileage I decided to do some strength training which included squats, lunges and some lifting. Also, I did ab work as well.

Thursday was shaping up to be another busy day at work (I had to cover a meeting until 10:30 p.m.) so I knew I could only get in a quick workout in the morning. I did two Tone It Up workouts, as well as my own arm workouts and abs.

I got out of work early on Friday so when I got home at noon, I quickly changed into my running clothes and went out. I did a quick 3-mile run and the route included some pretty ridiculous hills so this run gave my buns a run for their money. It felt really great though to push up the hills.

Saturday I had to work all day so I couldn’t get in a run but decided I needed a rest day after the week I had.

I went out for my “long” run on Sunday and I put “long” in quotes because the run was only supposed to be 6 miles, which felt like nothing compared to last week’s 14-mile run. This run went really well though and I tested out a new route which is always exciting. I took it really easy pace-wise with this run because with the half only a week away, I’m not taking ANY chances.

Overall it was a really great week for training. I’m looking forward to the half-marathon next Sunday because I feel like I’m really prepared (knock on wood!) Also I can’t wait to tell everyone my big news tomorrow so be sure to check back here to find out!!

How is your training going? What are your thoughts on tapering before a big race?

Mini race recap: Wrentham Wroad Wrace

Me at the Wrentham Wroad Wrace!

Earlier this week I found out there was going to be a 5K literally 5 minutes from my house in Wrentham, Mass. called the Wrentham Wroad Wrace. Of course I immediately signed up because usually I have to travel for races but this one was so close!

As I said it was just a 5K so nothing too crazy but it was really great to get out there and race. It’s hard to believe but I actually haven’t “raced” many road races. I’ve done a few since I started running in March but I can literally count them on one hand. This is not OK, I realize this. While I went into this race just wanting to have fun and get to know some of the local runners I came away from it with so much more.

Pre-race prep the night before the race.

I love to run! But I also really enjoy racing. I love all of it from the pre-race prep and dynamic stretching to the gun going off at the start line and the cheers at the finish. Nothing better. This race also made me realize the only way to get better at racing is to race often. There’s such a science behind where to line up at the start and how much water to drink, what to bring on race day and how to pass other runners without being obnoxious. And frankly, the only way to get better at these details of racing is to get out there and race.

While I absolutely love my long runs and going for longer distances, I think running these shorter, faster distances are the only way to improve on racing techniques. I know I’m never going to be a sub-3 marathoner (unless I’m talking about my Paul Ryan time) and I’m fine with that because more than racing and PRs and time, I just love running. To me, my end goal is to be a runner for life no matter how fast or how slow. If that means not racing for a few months, or racing every weekend I’m OK either way. All I know is today was a great race, and despite awfully high temperatures and unbearable humidity, the camaraderie of the other runners is really what makes it special.

Ready to run!

As far as my finish time, well I made a huge racing mistake here because I started my RunKeeper before I got to the start line and forgot to stop it at the finish line. These are the kinds of things you can only learn by racing often. Hopefully they’ll put up the results soon so stay tuned!

If you raced this weekend share it in the comments section below! What did you race? How did it go?

Twitter talk: Getting injured while training for a race

Getting injured while training for a big race is not easy. It’s hard to figure out if you should keep training, seek advice from a doctor, or just rest. I’m training for a half marathon and marathon now and an IT band issue cropped up. I decided to ask my Twitter followers for advice.

  1. FitHappyGirl
    How do you stay positive after an injury during training? #runchat #fitfluential
    Thu, Aug 23 2012 11:55:42
  2. RunningBecause
    @FitHappyGirl I focus on what went wrong first of all. Then enjoy the downtime. Then plot out a strong comeback.
    Thu, Aug 23 2012 11:57:57
  3. FitHappyGirl
    @RunningBecause good tip! I’m dealing with an IT band issue but have a half on Sept. 30. I’m trying to rest but I hate it haha #runchat
    Thu, Aug 23 2012 12:05:38
  4. RunningBecause
    @FitHappyGirl I had an ITB injury 2 years ago. Came back stronger and faster, but not after stupidly trying to run through it
    Thu, Aug 23 2012 12:12:15
  5. FitHappyGirl
    @RunningBecause good to hear. I was nervous if I rested too long I’d loose everything I’ve worked for.
    Thu, Aug 23 2012 12:17:50
  6. JWLevitt
    @FitHappyGirl I’m looking for answers on this one too. Have a stress issue in one of my arms. Not fun.
    Thu, Aug 23 2012 12:18:03
  7. ryanjknapp
    @fithappygirl What sort of injury do you have? I get my clients into another activity to keep them fit and happy!
    Thu, Aug 23 2012 12:25:29
  8. ryanjknapp
    @fithappygirl IT band..let’s look at cause and not treatment. Are you a heel striker at all?
    Thu, Aug 23 2012 12:38:01
  9. ryanjknapp
    @fithappygirl That is why you have the issue. Pronation only is an issue when you heel strike because of the roll from heel to toe.
    Thu, Aug 23 2012 12:53:27
  10. FitHappyGirl
    RT @ryanjknapp: Running injuries: If you have an injury don’t look at how to treat it. Instead, find the root cause and fix that! #runchat
    Thu, Aug 23 2012 12:58:42
  11. nathan7264
    @FitHappyGirl Mental counts a lot. If you have access to pool, consider pool running, did that with prior IT injury, not last year,&foamrllr
    Thu, Aug 23 2012 13:48:20
  12. Andrea_runs
    @FitHappyGirl you have lots of time. Don’t panic yet!!
    Thu, Aug 23 2012 12:27:06