Week 2 | Brooklyn Half-Marathon Training

I decided to take this year OFF from the 26.2 distance, and focus more on 13.1. The half-marathon distance is by far my favorite, because it is a significant distant but the training doesn’t completely consume my life. So far this year I’ve run two half-marathons, Disney and New York City, both with fairly little training. I was CrossFitting 4-5 days a week, but the harsh winter conditions kept me off the road. I had been following Jess Underhill on Twitter and reading her blog for a while, and when she started posting about her 6-week Brooklyn Half training program, I was intrigued. Even though I’ve trained for races in the past, I’ve never had individual 1:1 programming that was based off of ME as a runner, and not just a pre-planned weekly marathon training plan that worked for all novice runners. I emailed Jess, and after our first phone conversation, I knew I wanted to be on her team of #racepacerunners. I was all in! The programming includes CrossFit two days a week, but as we get closer to Brooklyn, I’m going to drop that to one day. Everyone knows I absolutely love CrossFit, but for the next six weeks I want to spend more time running and see if I can actually achieve my goal on May 16th at the Brooklyn Half.

Week 2 – April 13-19

Monday – CrossFit – 1RM back squat (150#), then 15-12-9-6-3 of: toes to bar & push-ups
Tuesday – 5 mile tempo run in my brand new New Balance 890s. I wore the 890s from last year during the NYC Marathon, and really loved them so wanted to get another pair to rotate through mileage. These are the v5 model and I am in love.

New Balance 890 V5

New Balance 890 V5

Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – CrossFit: Ladies’ Night WOD at CrossFit Port Washington.

CrossFit Port Washington WOD + Wine

CrossFit Port Washington WOD + Wine

Friday – 35 minute run, including some stride work (came out to just over 4 miles)
Saturday – Long run – 7 hilly sister-run miles with my Roo Roo and a FAST FINISH!

USA!

USA!

Sunday – Rest

Weekly Mileage – 16

NYC Half-Marathon 2015 | Race Recap

The NYC half-marathon is one my favorite races of the year. Not only is the half-marathon my favorite distance, but this is my PR course from 2014! It’s relatively flat, draws a really decent crowd, and if you haven’t run straight through the middle of Time’s Square while traffic is completely blocked off, you haven’t lived! It is definitely at the top of my list for best NYC experiences. For both the 2014 and 2015 races, I entered the lottery to gain entrance. The entry fee is pretty steep as far as half-marathons go, but the tee-shirts are among the coolest I’ve received, and there is an insane amount of race-day support (water stops, PowerBar endurance gel, Gatorade, etc). Plus it’s NYC. These streets will make you feel brand new.

ready to race!

ready to race!

I headed up to the expo on the Friday before the race around 5pm. It was a quick in-and-out, and the lines weren’t bad at all. Since United Airlines was the sponsor this year, they had some really cool installations at the expo. If I wasn’t trying to get a train home for the weekend, I might have browsed the booths a bit longer, too. Lots of good stuff!

Sunday morning I headed in on the 5:45am train from Manhasset. I got into the city and found a Starbucks just off of Columbus Circle to hang out in while I hydrated and had a banana. I was checking a bag (which I rarely do, but I wanted to have some dry clothes so I could grab a beer/food after the race) so I had to make sure I got to the trucks by 7am. I met my friend Meghan just at the bottom end of the park, and we walked through security together and into the corrals. The line to get INTO the park was long. Leave plenty of time to get through, because they definitely have hyped up security.

While I love this race so much, I can totally understand why people don’t love big-city races. The starting corrals are insane, even though they are well-organized. There is a lot of standing around before you start shuffling towards the starting line, so definitely wear some throw-away clothes (and gloves, if you’re me).

Mile 1-6 are through Central Park, running counter-clockwise. Unlike last year when I went out way too fast, I kept my pace controlled for the first 6, including those hills on the UWS, so that I could come out of the bottom of the park and through Time’s Square and really pick it up. There is this adreneline rush that just happens when you get to 6th Avenue, and it is one of the main reasons I love this race. I took the right onto 42nd St, and headed to the West Side Highway still feeling pretty good. The wind definitely picks up on the WSH, and I think my paced slowed a little between 9-12 miles. At mile 12, we head under the tunnel, which spits you back out on the FDR. I remembered from last year that the tunnel slopes up at the end, so definitely don’t go all-out until you crest that hill. From there, its a few quick turns before you hit the finish line, and the crowd was really loud!

I was pleasanlty surprised to cross the finish line in 2:04.18, without training very much. The snow and the cold really held me back, so knowing I could knock out an almost-2-hour half makes me feel confident in my base so I can turn things up training-wise for the AirBNB Brooklyn Half on May 16.

second 13.1 or 2015

second 13.1 or 2015

Meghan and I celebrated our 13.1 finishes over some beers and pretzels!

yay for us

yay for us

Disney Half-Marathon Race Recap – 2015

Better late than never :) I registered for the Disney Half waaaay back in April when I was at the expo picking up my bib for Boston. I had run this race back in 2007 before I had Ellie and Emmy, so it seemed like the perfect excuse to get our Disney-fix for 2015.

Ellie, Emily and I flew down to Florida on the Friday before the race to pick up my number. The expo was really easy to navigate, and we had the number and snapped some pics all within 20 minutes.

ready for 13.1 magical miles!

ready for 13.1 magical miles!

Saturday morning, my alarm went off early. Like 3:45am. OOF. One of the only downsides to Disney races is that they are all so early (unless they are super late…) because they need to get the race done before the park opens (or close to it). The official start of the race was 5:30, and I was driving myself into the park this year (we were staying just outside the park). There was a little bit of traffic getting into the Epcot parking lot, but I still had plenty of time. I didn’t want to check a bag, so I stayed in the car where it was warm until the last second I could, and then started the walk through the village and towards the start line. Here is what I wore…

yes I made a custom Elsa shirt with my name on it

yes I made a custom Elsa shirt with my name on it

I was in one of the first corrals because I put a really fast estimated finish time, which ended up being great. If you are in a later corral, you could be standing around for a LONG time. So tip from me, lie about your time :) There was an awesome fireworks display to send us on our way, and then we were off! Pretty much every mile had a character picture opportunity, and I stopped at almost every one to get my photo taken. When I was running, I was moving at a pretty decent pace and definitely felt the Disney magic the whole entire way. I don’t think I stopped smiling once!

I cruised into the finish line with a time of 2:18, which wasn’t horrible considering how much I stood in line waiting for pictures with characters. From start to finish, there wasn’t a single moment of pain, or unhappiness. It was truly 13.1 magical miles, and if you are even THINKING about signing up for this race, do it. You will not regret it one bit. And I’ll probably go with you :)

Random highlights: Running through Cinderella’s Castle, meeting Mickey on the golf course at the Grand Floridian (yes, I am 32 years old and just typed that), fireworks at the start, and high-fiving Minnie Mouse at mile 13.1 

NYC Marathon 2014 | Race Recap

The whole week leading up to Sunday November 2nd felt like it crawled by so slowly. I had a million things on my to-do list between marathon prep, getting the girls ready for Halloween, and of course WORK. The expo opened on Thursday at the Javits Center, but I didn’t have time to get over there on the first day. I waited until Friday around 2pm, and there were absolutely no lines to get bibs. It sounded like earlier in the day on Friday the lines were pretty insane, but mid-afternoon on Friday was easy-breezy. If you go on Friday, you’ll avoid a lot of crowds as out-of-towners mostly arrive to NYC on Saturday. Grabbed my bib, snapped a pic, and headed out for trick or treating with my kids!

ready to run!

ready to run!

Saturday afternoon: Team MR8 had a team dinner at Carmine’s in Times Square. There is a whole separate post on that. I ate pasta with vegetables, chicken, lots of garlic bread and a canolli. We ate on the earlier side, so by 7:00pm, I was hungry again and had Gino’s Pizza. If there was any night to have two dinners, it would probably be the night before 26.2! I laid out my “flat runner” to make sure I wasn’t missing anything, and tried to get to bed at a decent time.

do I have everything?

do I have everything?

Sunday Morning: Astrid met me at my house at 5:15am. We got on the 5:45am train from Manhasset, which got us into Penn Station a little past 6:30am. The 2 train was packed with marathoners, all more looking like hobos than runners at this point. If you are reading this (and there are probably like 5 of you) and you’ve never run a marathon before, let me fill you in on what happens before you run. If you are running in the fall or winter, its pretty cold outside, and there is a lot of standing around and waiting. Runners wear a “throw-away outfit” that they’ll be comfortable standing around in, but one that they don’t mind completely discarding before the race. For me on the morning of November 2nd, that included sweatpants bought from a dollar store, high knee socks that were at least three years old, a sweatshirt I got for free, a Zara winter coat that I was going to donate to GoodWill, a winter hat that had seen better days, and (perhaps the best part) was my Snuggy. People loved the Snuggy. I loved the Snuggy. It has a zippered bottom so I didn’t have to fuss with it too much every time I used the bathroom that day. Brilliant. I had a hard time parting with it, but alas, it was destined to hit the ground in Staten Island.

this is what 6am on the Staten Island Ferry looks like

this is what 6am on the Staten Island Ferry looks like

When we got to Staten Island, we were herded through the ferry terminal, and out on the sidewalk to get in line for the buses that were going to take us to Fort Wadsworth where the starting village was awaiting. I was in the green starting village and in corral D, but finding this wasn’t that easy. In fact, I really only had about 10 minutes of actual downtime before they were calling my wave. In a matter of minutes, I transformed into an actual runner, rather than a completely crazy looking person in a Snuggy. I was down to my long sleeve shirt layer, headband, sunglasses but I kept my hooded sweatshirt on just to combat some of the wind on the Verzanno Bridge. They moved my wave through the corrals, and up onto the starting line at the base of the bridge. I was actually pretty surprised at how easy that part was, but I wouldn’t say the Fort Wadsworth was super organized; that was stressful. And once I parted ways with Astrid, I really didn’t like being alone. It was pretty quiet in my head.

hello, I'm cold

hello, I’m cold

The music started, the famous NEW YORK, NEW YORK was blaring over the speakers, we were off! I crossed the starting line and I was running the NYC Marathon.

The bridge was windy. Really windy. It sounded like people’s bibs were going to rip off from their shirts entirely, and hats were flying all around. I actually saw two people running back the way we had come (don’t run backwards in a marathon. Ever. Like, ever) to chase down various articles of clothing that were blowing around. I was running fast, too. Too fast. Like super-excited-everything-feels-too-easy kind of fast. The view from the bridge was pretty incredible. I teared up a little as I looked over at downtown Manhattan, thinking that in just a few hours (or five…spoiler alert!) I would be a finisher of the NYC Marathon. Emotions, people! They are real. There were barges in the water, and choppers hovering on each side of the bridge. I was on the lower level but I swear I could hear the footprints and whoops and hollers of the folks on the top level as well. People were pumped up.

When you come off the bridge into Brooklyn, you go down and around a highway exit, and then you’re in a pretty residential neighborhood. This must have been around the three-mile mark, because I saw someone holding a sign that said “only 23 miles to go”. Don’t ever make signs like these.

Brooklyn was amazing. I can’t even really put into words (and trust me, this race recap is 3 weeks late; I’ve been TRYING) how much I loved running the first 13.1 miles of this race through Brooklyn. It was everything. The crowds are literally standing on top of one another, almost at times in the way of runners in the street. There was a band on every corner. Every church had a choir on the steps, and the sound was upbeat. My steps were quick too, I was pacing way too fast for me in this type of race. At one point I turned my phone off of Airplane Mode and opened the NYC Marathon app, and I was pacing to finish in 4:15. I was averaging around 9:15/9:30 miles at this point, but I felt GOOD. I knew I should slow down, but my legs just wouldn’t listen. I was all sorts of pumped up when I saw my AdRoll friends at mile 11.

MarathonRoll!

MarathonRoll!

I hit the halfway point in Brooklyn still feeling really strong, and pacing for about a 4:30 finish. Not bad for half-way! As I made my way to the Queensboro Bridge, I started thinking about where I would find KJ and my brother-in-law on First Avenue. I texted him to get his exact location, and waiting for the text to come back occupied my mind on the slow climb of the bridge. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, after I had built up the quietness of it all in my head for so many weeks. One of my favorite memories is actually looking to my right and seeing the Roosevelt Island Tram gliding past the bridge. The passengers inside were waving at us and holding signs. It was one small moment in the day that I haven’t forgotten about.

I no longer have this pony tail

I no longer have this pony tail

Coming off the bridge and onto First Avenue lived up to expectations completely; it was LOUD! The sun was in my eyes (even with my sunglasses on), so I had to stay completely to the left of the street even though the crowds were on the right side. I checked my phone to get KJ’s whereabouts, and from 59th Street all the way to 80th, I just stayed to the left and tried to get to him as fast as I could. I spotted him and Matty in front of Bar Coastal, and made a pit stop with my fam. KJ had carried some GuChomps with him, and opened them for me and I ate one. Bad idea. All of a sudden, I couldn’t really swallow any of my food and I felt nauseous. It was only mile 18, and it was a little “early” to be feeling like this. I left them with promises of “I’ll go as fast as I can!” and pressed on up First Avenue. The crowds thinned a little as I crossed into the Bronx at Mile 20, and I still felt like something wasn’t quite right. Then again, it was mile 20 of a marathon, so nothing was quite right. I walked a little around mile 21, and tried to drink two cups of water before I let myself “run” again. I turned off my Garmin watch so I wouldn’t get discouraged by the paces that were flashing. I told myself to just have fun and enjoy it, and to forget about the clock. I picked it up through Harlem to Mile 23. Confession: I had to walk a lot of Mile 23. Like more than I would have liked. It had started to get chilly, and I grabbed a pair of gloves off the ground (I had chucked mine in the warmth of Brooklyn about 13 miles ago), and I even accepted a warmth cape from a medical tent around mile 24. My teeth wouldn’t stop chattering!

At mile 24.5ish I gave myself one last pep talk. I thought about Martin, and Team MR8, and all the money that I had raised. As we entered Central Park, I was running. I made it up the backside of Cat Hill and down the wonderful-oh-so-wonderful downhill by the bottom of the park. I smiled, and gave high-fives, and tried to make the most of (what I knew was) my last mile of my last marathon. There was a moment in Central Park where a girl in a red shirt darted out in front of me, almost cutting me off (if I was running at any sort of speed). I almost said, hey watch out, but then I saw her shirt. On the back, she had taped her name: Lulu. My Lulu was at home waiting for me to finish this damn marathon, and I laughed thinking that this was SUCH an appropriate sign to see at that moment. I knew I was close.  The finish line was in my sights, and I could see the clock; I was SO CLOSE to breaking 5 hours!

thank you very much

thank you very much

Official Time: 5:02, a new marathon PR for me. I wanted to (finally) break 5 hours, but it just wasn’t in the cards for me. Pretty close though!

This is where things get bad: the finish line SUCKS at the NYC Marathon. I can totally see why some people who love to run marathons, don’t love to run big city marathons. We had to walk easily another half a mile to get to the fuel stations and get our warm ponchos, and I was FREEZING. I started crying (super emo day!) and a nice man next to me asked me if I was crying because it was my first marathon. I said, “no, it’s my last and I just want to find my husband.” What a mess!

We wound out of the park, and I walked a few blocks to 72nd Street, where KJ and Matt were waiting for me. They claim that I looked better than half the people hobbling and limping around them, but I think they were just being nice. But either way, I appreciated the compliment.

Finished! Now beer me

Finished! Now beer me

I finished! We headed down to Brother Jimmys for some beers and fries (my biggest craving!) and I was already proud of myself for being able to drink a beer. After Boston, I couldn’t drink anything until the next day. So this was a win.

Corona + marathon bling

Corona + marathon bling

So yes, I am retired from the 26.2 distance! I have now run Chicago, Boston and NYC, and raised a pretty decent amount of money for three incredible charities. When they decide to change the distance to a more manageable 20 miles, let me know. I’ll sign up for that.

Team MR8 Team Dinner | Pre-NYC Marathon

I’ve never run a marathon NOT as part of a charity team. When I ran Chicago in 2006, I ran as an Honored Teammate for Team In Training and raised over $6,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, 6 months after my last chemotherapy treatment. This past April for the Boston Marathon, I represented the amazing Pediatric Hem-Onc department at Mass General Hospital and raised a combined $12,000 along with my sister. When I received the phone call this past July that my application had been accepted to be part of Team MR8 for the 2014 NYC Marathon, I was so proud that I could represent the amazingly strong Martin family, and raise money in honor of such a true “Boston” kid.

Bronx 10 Miler for a Boston kid

Bronx 10 Miler for a Boston kid

Between July and November, TeamMR8 mostly stayed in touch over Facebook, and weekly emails from our charity team leader, Susan. Susan’s Friday emails were a highlight of my week; she covered training tips, fundraising successes, and made sure we all had our eyes on the prize- we were running for TeamMR8. In August, I received a whole box of TeamMR8 gear and a personal note from Debbie and Bill, Martin’s parents. I proudly rocked my MR8 gear during my training races, and keep a photo of Martin in my planner, to remind me why I was again asking my friends and family to donate, and why I was putting in the time and miles to train each week.

all geared up for TeamMR8

all geared up for TeamMR8

The day before the marathon, the whole team got together for a carb-loading pre-race meal at Carmine’s in Times Square. It was my first time meeting any team members, even though we felt like old friends since we had emailed so much over the course of the past few months. The dinner was perfect – enough food to keep us all fueled up, and so many smiling faces. At the conclusion of dinner, Bill Martin spoke to the whole team. It was one of the most motivating pep talks I’ve ever received (and I’ve been privy to MANY a pre-game speech). Bill kept thanking us for being part of the team, and raising almost $90,000 for TeamMR8. He spoke about the various programs that the Martin Richard’s Charitable Foundation is able to participate in because of these funds. Perhaps the biggest program at the moment is through the Dorcester YMCA, which was started to allow kids with any type of physical or mental handicap the opportunity to participate in a variety of sports. With the funds that TeamMR8 raises, the foundation is able to roll this program out to YMCA’s and communities across the US to give more children the opportunity to play sports, and be part of their community. It is something that Martin would be so proud of.

me and my date for the team pasta dinner

me and my date for the team pasta dinner

Needless to say, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Bill was finished speaking. I thought about Martin when they played New York, New York as I crossed the start line. I thought about Martin when I saw the kids dancing in front of a band on Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn. I thought of Martin when I wanted to stop running at Mile 20. I thought of him almost exclusively for the last mile, with tears in my eyes, feeling a true mix of pride and relief. Like I said at the beginning, I’ve never NOT run for a charity team, but I couldn’t imagine running a race like this with any other purpose.

TeamMR8 NYC Marathon Team 2014

TeamMR8 NYC Marathon Team 2014

NYC Marathon Lululemon Giveaway | Team MR8 Fundraising

Lululemon released a limited-edition NYC Marathon collection that you can only buy in NYC stores starting today. This line is expected to completely sell-out! I stood in line for over an hour today, and snagged this gorgeous #BeenThereRunThat sweatshirt featuring the NYC skyline and it could be YOURS! I am running 26.2 miles on Sunday for the amazing Team MR8 in honor of Martin Richards, the 8 year old boy who was killed in the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013. 

front + back

front + back

Every donation starting today of $26.20 will be entered in a raffle to win this exclusive sweatshirt than any Lulu addict will LOVE! The winner can choose a size 8 or size 6. 

To win? Click here, donate $26.20, and receive an email confirmation from me, and you’re in. 

The winner will be announced on Saturday morning, and the sweatshirt will be shipped out early next week (as soon as my legs are recovered enough to walk to the post office). 

Thanks so much for your support, and GOOD LUCK! May the #LuluBeWithYou, and GO #TEAMMR8

Race Recap | BAA Half Marathon

Ever since I finished the Boston Marathon this year, I was excited to run another BAA.org race. This year, the BAA Half boasted a crowd of 8,000 runners, and covered 13.1 miles of the Emerald Necklace park starting in Franklin Park. Since Roo just moved into the sickest apartment ever in Dorchester, we had a sleepover there the night before, complete with the best. dinner. ever.

all ready for 13.1!

all ready for 13.1!

We woke up at 6am, and munched on bagels, pb and bananas. We opted to drive to Bayside Expo Center and take the shuttle buses from there, which was only about 5 minutes away. There was absolutely no parking available at Franklin Park, but they did offer two different shuttle options. We got on our shuttle at about 7:30, and made it up to Franklin Park just before 8:00am. It was chilly, and I totally wished I had more than just one layer of throw-away shirt, but the weather report said it was supposed to get to 60 degrees, so I didn’t want to overdress. Ah, #runnerprobz.

waiting in line

waiting in line

We got in line around the 10:00 min mile marker, and tried to take our minds off the chill. Training for Boston in the SNOW was colder than this, so we sucked it up. At 8:30, the starting gun went off, and off we went. Not! The starting line corrals had a really tight turn, and it was almost like tip-toeing up to the start line. It took us about 22 minutes to get to the start, and it was slow goings for the first half a mile for sure. I stuck to the sides and tried to stay with a nice even pace of about 9:50/10:00 while my body warmed up. Roo and I fist bumped and picked a spot to meet after the race.

starting line crowd!

starting line crowd!

I absolutely loved the first uphill which was across the William Casey overpass. There were amazing views of Boston, and we were up higher than the trees. It was a climb for sure, but it didn’t bother me too much and I even got the courage to take off my long sleeve and drop it on the side. The weather was warming up!

Around mile 4, I felt a tap on my shoulder and it was my work friend/client, Jess! We have done Flywheel together a couple times and I should have known she would be running today. It was about the time that I saw her that we took a turn back towards the start line. I’ve never been in a race that had such tight 180 degree turns. You really had to watch your step so you wouldn’t get trampled from behind or from the front. I picked it up for miles 5-9 and felt really good, really strong. I was probably hitting just under a 9 minute mile. At mile 6, I decided to go for my Gu Chomps. I always (always, always) open the bag up before I start running, but for some reason I totally forgot. I tried to rip into the bag while running, and I couldn’t get it open. My hands were sweaty, and this thing WAS NOT opening. I was expending too much energy and getting frustrated, so I just pocketed the Gu Chomps and welcomed the PowerGels that they were handing out at mile 7. I got vanilla and it was actually really delicious. Thanks for handing those out! I totally needed something, and I’ll never not open my GuChomps in advance again. Jeesh.

So they weren’t joking when they said this course has rolling hills. Its all either up hill or down hill all the time. Like the whole time. And the last 3 miles especially, weren’t even on concrete the whole time. It was like a 10 mile road race with a 3 mile trail race to finish up. I felt good the whole time, and I knew coming into the final 800 meters that was I close to the two hour mark. I knew I wasn’t going to be close to my half marathon PR from NYC, but this wasn’t a course to PR on at all. Not even close. I was PSYCHED to be close to 2:00, and finished with an official time of 2:03. I got my awesome BAA medal, and meandered through the bagels, bananas and PowerBar line. I was hungry, but I didn’t want to eat too quickly so I just had a quarter of a bagel and waited to get a text from Roo. She finished at 2:25 and we met up at the family meeting area.

yeeeeeehaw, all done!

yeeeeeehaw, all done!

sisters + 13.1

sisters + 13.1

I will definitely keep this on my race calendar for 2015, as it was well-run, and the shirts were AWESOME. It was a lot of ppl and course was tight and hilly, but I absolutely love the half marathon distance so much. See ya next year, Franklin Park!