I Should Probably Get Back In Running Shape.

This past week I applied to run as part of Team MR8 in the New York City Marathon. The team was created in remembrance of Martin Richard, the youngest victim of the Boston Marathon Bombings. The charity honors Martin’s message of peace by investing in education, athletics and community. When I didn’t gain entrance to the New York City Marathon by the lottery system, there were (and still are) a few other charities I could have joined to get a number. Nothing felt personal to me though, and I didn’t want to raise money solely because I want to run 26.2 miles. It didn’t seem genuine. When I heard the news that Team MR8 (who had a HUGE prescence at Boston this year) was still looking for 8 runners to represent, I jumped at the opportunity to apply. It would be an honor to be part of a Boston-based team, and wear the MR8 jersey on November 2nd, and carry on Martin’s name. I find out in two weeks if I am one of the eight, which doesn’t give me much time to seriously get into training!

Since I MIGHT be running 26.2 in November, I should probably start my next training cycle. May, June and July — you guys were good to me. It’s time to get to work again though. Today I hit 4.5 miles and felt pretty good, despite the heat. It definitely felt cooler at the onset of the run, and when I finished I think it was almost 80 degrees. I don’t do well in the heat. Straight into the kiddie pool! PS – those Lululemon shorts are my FAVORITE running shorts.

 

Johnston Country Club

Johnston Country Club

Today I also finished a little project that I’ve had on the backburner since Boston. I framed our bibs, and the background is made from the heat cape that is handed out at the finish line. I have one that I made from the Chicago Marathon in 2006, too.

FInishers!

FInishers!

Week 1 of Marathon Training, let’s go!

Last “Long” Run – 2 Weeks of Training Left.

I never thought I’d be thinking of a 9 mile run as an “easy” one, but here we are, five months of marathon training behind us, and the last “long” run before Boston. I headed out to do 10 miles, but my Nike app failed me halfway through. It was actually very liberating to pace myself by how I felt, not worry about what how far or how long I went, just focus on feeling strong. I did a lot of good hills (and visualized Heartbreak), so when I got home after the run and mapped it out, I was totally fine with coming in under the 10 mile mark.

9 lovely miles

9 lovely miles

Running feels different to me after five months of training. I feel lighter on my feet, like I could run 20 miles on any given Saturday. My head is clear, and my breathing is much quieter. I don’t look at the top of hills when I am running, but just ahead of me and focus on moving my feet quickly, and lean into the hill. I finally run just because I love it, and that’s the best feeling in the world.

As we move into April, the press coverage of the Boston Marathon is plentiful. I pick up Runner’s World magazine every once in a while, and the May issue is a tear-jerker. I also really loved this Dan Shaughnessy article in the Globe. Boston is ready for April 21. And so are we.

Next stop, Hopkinton.

Next stop, Hopkinton.

Welcome to Tapertown! – 20 Mile Run Re-cap

The day started early with a 6am wake up and a 7:00am departure from Beverly. Our whole team was meet at Dr. Howard Weinstein‘s house in Newton to run our LAST long run of the season before Marathon Monday. When we arrived at his house, it was packed with other MGH team members. Perhaps the BEST part of the whole morning was meeting the fabulous Kelly Sarno, my IG bestie. It was like we were long lost friends! We picked up our SWEET MGH team tee-shirts, too. This isn’t what we’ll be running 26.2 in, but our whole fan club will be sporting them at the Mile 20 Party. We munched on some last minute fuel, and boarded the buses for the drive out to the marathon starting line in Hopkinton. Once we were boarded and moving, there was no turning back. Our only option was to JUST RUN the 20 miles back to Howard’s house.

Ready at the starting line

Ready at the starting line

When we arrived in Hopkinton, there were so many runners. I recognized all the Team in Training shirts right away (gotta love that PURPLE), and most people had crowded around the “start” line. I really didn’t know this was such a well organized training run. I thought it was just going to be our group!  I have seriously run real races that had less spectators than this run. The Boston Marathon is a celebration of the entire city, and the volunteers, and people along the route were SO proud to be out helping the marathoners-to-be. We high-fived kids in their front yards in Ashland. We were pumped up by a front-stoop DJ at Mile 10. Shops along the route in Wellesley left out buckets of water and Gatorade so that we could grab them if we needed them. Every single fire station offered a pit stop, complete with music, bathrooms, and candy. And after a week of tragedy, they were still out there, putting a smile on our faces, and offering encouragement. Boston Police held up traffic at every intersection for the runners so that we could cross safely. It was all so overwhelmingly generous.

Signs were placed the entire 20 mile route for our safety

Signs were placed the entire 20 mile route for our safety

Miles 1-3: We were off in Hopkinton We starting our run with Kelly, MJ and Jess and I think you could probably hear us before you could see us coming. Chatting, laughing and stopping for a few key photo ops made the first few miles fly by. At the first mile marker, there was a tree of running sneakers in honor of Meg Menzies who was struck and killed by a drunk driver while out on a morning run in Virginia, #megsmiles.

Tree for #megsmiles

Tree for #megsmiles

Miles 3-5: We hit Ashland at a pretty good clip. Marissa and I separated from the group and plugged in to our music.

Miles 5-9: Framingham. We passed our MGH team pit stop at Mile 5, but didn’t stop for too long. We had 15 more miles to run! We stopped briefly at the TNT table around mile 8 to grab some water.

Mile 10: HALFWAY! As we closed in on Natick Town Common, we saw the best sign of the day: 10 MILES TIL TAPERTOWN! That fired me up! MGH had a table set up, and we stopped for a second to stretch and grab some snacks. I have to say, Swedish Fish never tasted so good.

Miles 11-12: The road got residential, and we had to switch sides of the street as we climbed up a hill to reach Wellesley College.

Mile 13: The small town of Wellesley rolled out the red carpet for marathon runners. Stores had buckets of water and Gatorade sitting out for us, and fans were cheering us along with cow-bells. I had to keep reminding myself that this was just a training run. I pictured us crossing this point on Marathon Monday, and we could say that we were halfway to home!

Mile 14-16: Heading down Washington St in Wellesley, we knew we were getting close to the turn onto Comm Ave. A father/daughter combo was handing out lemonade and water from their driveway, and we happily took them up on it. Pretty much as this point, we were taking food and drinks from every stranger we met.

Mile 17-20: At Mile 17, runners turn right onto Comm Ave, which is a crucial part of the race. The crowds (if they aren’t already dense) get thicker as the route turns towards Boston. The Newton Fire Station was amazing. The guys had a whole spread of goodies, water and refreshments and even opened up their bathrooms to a bunch of weary runners. The last few miles were definitely the toughest. We took some short walking breaks to stretch our legs out, and switch up our cadence. At mile 19 we met a woman who was shuffling along with a TNT shirt on, so we started chatting. She beat cervical cancer THREE TIMES and is running her first marathon. Meeting her and chatting passed the time, and before we knew it (or, in what felt like an eternity) we finally hit the Heartbreak Hill Running Company at Mile 20. We did it!!

Tapertown, here we are! We have some light runs the next few weeks, but we’re ready for the Big Show. 21 days…

Team HudsonStrong

Team HudsonStrong

Twas the night before the NYC Half…

It’s finally here! I have been looking forward to this race all training season, and I’m all prepped for tomorrow morning. I just took a Sharpie to my race shirt given to me at the Expo and wrote a big MEREDITH on the front, and SHIPPING UP TO BOSTON – 6 WEEKS on the back.

Here is the plan: Alarm goes off at 5am. Eat half a bagel with almond butter, half a banana and have a cup of coffee at home. Start drinking water.

Wearing: lululemon run ispire crops, Under Armor long-sleeve, NYC Half race shirt (with my name on it, and my number pinned to it), my favorite lululemon socks, Mizuno Wave Inspires, and my new lucky hat from my dad.

ready, go.

ready, go.

I’m going to bring my phone, headphones, Gu Chomps, the other half of the banana, and a water to the start line with me, along with an old sweatshirt and sweatpants to wear on top so I don’t get totally frozen standing in the corrals.

Leave the house at 6:00am, and meet my  CrossFit516 friends Astrid and Ed at the Forest Hills subway stop. Astrid has promised to run the first couple miles with me to help me pace it out, but I expect her to TAKE OFF once we leave the park and go on her merry way of her FIRST HALF-MARATHON!  We should get to Central Park by 7:00am and we’ll be racing by 7:45am.

Tonight I am going to make sure I eat a good meal, lots of protein, and good carbs. Also, restricting to ONE glass of wine. Tomorrow post-race (and hopefully with a new PR, fingers crossed) I’ll be celebrating with some bubbly!

I am so pumped to run NYC tomorrow, that I hope I’ll be able to get a good night’s sleep tonight. If you are in NYC, and anywhere along the race route, be sure to come out and cheer! I’d love to see you!

Happy trails & swift feet tomorrow everyone!

NYC Half-Marathon: Goal Time

On Sunday March 16th, the New York City Half will be my fourth half marathon. I love the half marathon  because it is the perfect combination of a long distance race and a shorter amount of hours on your feet training for it.

Here are my race times so far in life at this distance:
2006 NYC Half – 2:07
2007 Disney World Half – 2:26
2014 Brooklyn Half – 2:07
According to my Nike Running App, my PR for the 13.1 this training season is 2:06 during a 14 mile training run.

2:06 as part of a longer run

2:06 as part of a longer run

My goal for Sunday is to run this race in UNDER 2 hours. It will require an insane amount of control to not start too fast (something I am always guilty of), and some guts to keep the second half of the race pace under 9 mins per mile. The hills are in the first 2-3 miles, and after that, its a fast, flat course. As long as I can keep my wits about me, and work on running each mile a little faster than the last, I feel really confident that I can reach my goal. I want it SO badly. I am obsessed with visualizing the race, rearranging my playlist, going through pre-race checklists, and planning my race-day outfit. I’ve done all the prep work that I could have, now its just time to RACE. Can’t WAIT for Sunday!!

 

NY Weekend Workouts

Since I slept in on Friday, neither Saturday or Sunday could be rest days. I didn’t really mind though, since the nice weather was finally here. Here is what I did this weekend:

Saturday: 45 min run at 90% tempo. Not gonna lie. This was brutal. My first mile was 8:17 (more like 100%, than 90%!) and each mile thereafter was SLOWER. Not the negative splits that I wish I could have hit. I had to stop once, catch my breath and regain composure (which totally kills my confidence) but when it was all said and done, I ran 5.5 miles at an 8:35 pace. My speed is definitely improving this winter!

fave new hat from my dad

fave new hat from my dad

Sunday: 6 X 3 min max effort, 3 min rest after runs 1,3,5 and 1 min rest after runs 2,4 I really liked this workout. There is a street nearby that is long and ever-so-inclined, so I started there. Up and down the street once was about 3 minutes, and I really liked knowing exactly how much further I had to push myself on each run. Those 1 minute recoveries were NOT enough!!

I am tapering a little this week, because I am running the NYC Half on Sunday. I’ll post this week about my thoughts and goals going into that race.

Weekend Workout – Less miles, more CrossFit

I’ve written about CrossFit Endurance on the blog a couple times, but I wanted to explain some of the reasoning behind why we aren’t running “long” in these last 7 weeks leading up to Marathon Monday. Since Marissa and I started doing CrossFit in summer of 2011, we’ve been incredibly amazed by the increase in our overall strength and stamina. The faster, shorter CrossFit workouts have changed our bodies because they are constantly varied, and incredibly intense. It totally made sense to me that the same theories would apply to training for endurance events such as marathons, triathlons and cycling. With a focus on power and speed, you can train an athlete to be successful while eliminating unnecessary volume, which lead to more overuse injuries. “Less miles, more CrossFit!”

I had the pleasure of visiting CrossFit Hilton Head on vacation last year, and was coached by Jeff Ford. Jeff is not only an incredible CrossFit coach, but he has a deep focus on the CrossFit Endurance training program, and runs  his own business called Fire Coach Consulting. I stay up-to-date with Jeff’s blog, and love his podcasts. He will be running Boston this year, too! One of the things that Jeff mentioned in his first podcast is how you need to “trust the program”. For someone (like me) who has previously trained for a marathon using the old “Long Slow Run” method, I’d be lying if I said that I’m not just a little bit nervous to not hit 16, 18, or 20 mile runs before Marathon Monday. Will I have what it takes to finish fast? Or, better yet, will I have what it takes to just finish?! The answer is yes. Trust the program. It’s not easy, and I’ll share more of the exact interval, tempo and time trial runs that I’ll be doing in March to give you a better idea of the programming. Knock on the biggest wood pile in the world, but we’re not injured, our bodies feel strong, and I’ve never been pacing this fast in my whole life of running (including as a Division 1 Athlete at Yale). Trust the program.

Weekend Workout Recap:
Saturday – 8 Miles Tempo Run @ 75% of Max Effort
In this case, for me, 100% effort would be an 8 min mile, and I could probably only sustain that for a 5K (without hills, LOL). For an 8 mile tempo run at 75%, I knew I wanted to be just under a 9 min mile when I could, and not too far over that on some hills. Here are my splits: 9:28/9:17/8:45/8:55/9:08/9:05/8:34/8:23
It felt good to have really fast miles at the end of the run, and I was visualizing that I was running down the West Side Highway in the NYC Half-Marathon. My goal is to go sub-2:00 hours in the half on March 16th, and I know that this program will get me there.

Sunday – REST!

6AM on quiet Saturday Morning on my favorite streets

6AM on quiet Saturday Morning on my favorite streets