Posts Tagged 'taper'

Unmistakes and the Lesson Learned.

So much has happened in marathonwiner world over the last month or so.

I ran my 2nd marathon and shocked myself and the rest of the world with a completely unexpected PR.

I finally learned why racing a 10k is so difficult and so hated in the running world.

I met lots of new runner friends, and thanks to running with them, I do believe I am actually getting faster. You can call it stupid, but I’m sticking with it.

I have grown to appreciate, and even LOOK FORWARD to, speedwork–the dinner dates after the summer 5k series certainly contribute to that, but doing Yasso800’s outside for the first time (ever?) turned out to be 4832904 more enjoyable than trying them out on the treadmill. Then again…what running isn’t better outside vs. on that mean black belt?

I took the RRCA run coach certification course (where I again met lots of awesome people and had a real-life Shining experience–details later?) and PASSED MY TEST (yes, please go start telling your friends).

I ran a 50 mile week during my “off” month. Was this stupid? Maybe. But it feels good to be able to put down some heavier mileage with a little more ease than in the past.

Speaking of stupid…that leads me to this long overdue story I’ve been wanting to share about my success at the Buffalo Marathon and how I did absolutely everything wrong to get me there. Every training plan, running book, professional or even recreational athlete–even the run coach class–supported the fact that I should have crashed and burned about 6 miles into the Buffalo Marathon. As someone who recently received coaching certification, I should be touting the benefits of dedicated training and not straying from a plan. But there’s also something to be said about doing everything wrong leading up to race day, then digging deep and seeing what your capable of. So here’s what I did wrong.

1. Tweak the training plan at the last minute.

I haven’t run a whole lot of races. But for those that I have, and for those that I had a designated training plan for, I followed that plan to a tee. Especially, the taper period. I had heard so many stories about how rest was just as important as the building period come race day, and too short of a taper could lead to fatigue and race day disaster. So when a plan called for a solid 3-week taper, I reluctantly followed it. My plan for Buffalo was not followed well from the get-go, but it was alright because I knew when I signed up for the race that wedding season (read: a million weekends away from home) was going to interfere with when I did my long runs and when I got that rest day (or 3) in. I did not, however, plan for insomnia and having to push my last run of 22 miles to about 2 weeks out from the race, thus giving myself a 2 week taper instead of 3 week. But again, I went into this training period knowing I’d have to adjust, and I was fine with the 2 week taper.

But then I failed to follow my usual taper plan.

2. Ignore the taper at the last minute.

Usually I try to spend taper time eating well, sleeping well, avoiding all alcohol and running easy. Well, my taper period before Buffalo was shortened to two weeks, which I spent hitting high miles and hitting the bar at my uncle’s wedding a week out from the race. Oops.

3. Wear brand new clothes that you’ve never run in before.

Ok this is just flat-out stupidity. Two days before heading upstate, I went shopping in hopes of finding cute summer sundresses to wear AFTER the race. Instead, I came home with cute summer running clothes, made of 100% cotton. And for some reason, thought it’d be a good idea to sport them on race day. My thought process at the time was “I’ve never had an issue with chaffing before, and this 100% cotton tank is loose-fitting. It won’t bother me at all”. The thought I should have had in response to that was, “Well genius, when have you ever attempted to run more than 6 miles in a straight-up cotton, much less 26.2 miles, much less on a hot summer day?”

My race photos were super matchy and cute. My underarms are still showing the battle wounds.

4. Experiment with new fuel. On the course.

I’ve heard horror stories of people trying out new fuel sources during training runs that end in projectile vomiting all over the side of Central Park. And yet, I thought it was a good idea to do something similar at mile 7 of my first-ever spring marathon. I deserve a trophy for smartest racer of the year.

In my short running history, I basically have always stuck to the same plan of small, simple breakfast prior to run (these days, its a Honey Stinger waffle) and a GU or two during the run, depending on the distance and how I’m feeling. Sometimes less, never more.

Well, just before I left for Buffalo a good friend of mine gave me a little “good luck” goodie back stocked with waffles, GUs and some Honey Stinger chews. I brought them along thinking at the very least, maybe I’d snack on some chews after the race, as me, the JD and my friend made our way to our post-race boat trip.

But when my friend dropped me at the starting line, I found myself still clutching my little bag of Honey Stingers. Never one to waste, I just held on to them, at this point thinking “well maybe I’ll want one along the course” or “maybe I’ll see a fellow runner in need and I’ll come to their rescue!” (no really, this thought crossed my mind. I’ve had a lot of running heroes in my day, and I wanted to reverse the roles for once I guess). Well just after I crossed the 10k mark I got really tired of carrying the little pouch. And for that reason alone, I opened it. And similar to how I can never have “just one” cookie or “just one” piece of candy. I ate the whole bag.

Afterwards I had that very girly moment of “why did I just eat all that? I wasn’t even hungry. That was stupid.” Turns out. It wasn’t so stupid. Because (and I credit this to those chews) I wound up having enough energy to bang out sub-8:50 all the way to mile 17 or so. Honey Stingers FTW.

5. Go out too fast.

This does not fit the rest of my unmistakes because no obvious good came from it at the end, but I still did something that most seasoned runners would “tsk tsk” at, so it makes the list. I told myself even as I was warming up before the gun that I could take this race as slow as I wanted. Afterall, my entire reason for signing up for it was to give myself a slower marathon than in Richmond, and create a mental buffer for New York.

And yet for some reason, I lined up with the 8:50 pace group. I told myself (are you noticing a trend here? I lie to myself. A LOT) that I could start out with them, see how I felt, but would likely drop back a few miles in. But of course a few miles in, I started to find my groove and pick up a little bit of a competitive edge. When I was still running just ahead of the 8:50 flag carrier at mile 6, it became my goal to avoid the lovely man holding it at all costs. A few times, around mile 8 and again at 11 or so, he and his posse got dangerously close. At the halfway point, he even got ahead of me, and I watched him hand off his pacer wand to the next runner. I surged ahead as fast as I could and from mile 13-17 played a game of rabbit, bouncing in front of and behind the 8:50 group. Eventually, I realized that there was no way I could keep surging on and off for another 9 miles, and started to see the group as an ally. They had pushed me through the first 17 miles, so I might as well make friends and let them carry me through the rest.

Some of us may know how the rest of the story goes. I made it to mile 20 in under 3 hours, and took that as a cue to calm down and take my time to a sub-4 finish. Could I have stayed with the 8:50 pace group? Maybe. But maybe I would have also wound up depositing those chews all over the course as well. I didn’t negative split. I didn’t even come close. But I tried something new, pushed myself hard, and shaved 5 minutes off my time. Lesson: while it’s not smart racing and it will never come recommended (and I can’t prove my finish would have been better or worse otherwise), I went out fast and it worked out pretty well.

Now that I’m (one CPR class away from being) a certified running coach, I know more than ever that not following my plan well, not taking the taper seriously, wearing new clothes, experimenting with new fuel and going out to fast are all poor tactics to recommend to anyone. And I likely never will.

I also know this sounds like I’m tooting my own horn in many ways. And that’s also not the case (count how many times I called myself stupid, I meant every one of them).

The point is again, that you are ALWAYS capable of surprising yourself.

You want to run a marathon? You don’t need to give up your life. You certainly don’t need to give up your wine. You don’t need to skip your best friends wedding to get in a long run. You don’t need to own the latest Lululemon tank or top of line sneaks to be able to run (but if you have a favorite brand I suggest sticking to it come race day…another unmistake I failed to mention). You don’t need to know what negative splitting means. You certainly don’t need to own a garmin. If you want to run a marathon, you just have to want to run a marathon. And then you can.


Go time!

Happy Thursday kids! And a happy one it is…in just a few hours (well, a few more than a few), I’ll be en route to Richmond for Marathon Weekend!

Holy crap, how is race weekend here already? It seems like I just ran my first half marathon Philly. And I just started stalking the lottery for the ING NYC Marathon. It was only yesterday that I religiously watched as they unveiled the lottery winners on the NYRR live stream, right? Of course, only to learn that I had NOT been chosen. But the marathon bug had bit. And it was only moments later that I signed up for the Suntrust Richmond Marathon…that seemed so very far away.

But it is upon us! Yesterday at work I 100% could NOT focus on anything other than marathon thoughts. If I wasn’t in meetings and needing to contribute words, I was hovering on the race web site willing some sort of update that would make my nerves disappear. Not sure what that update possibly could have been–oh, buses ARE allowed for the last 10k in this race? sign me up! oh, a marathon was recently redefined as a mere 21.5 miles? piece of cake! But alas, no changes. And that’s okay. If it wasn’t so very nerve wracking, sleep stealing, stomach churning and flat-out terrifying, everyone would run marathons…right?

I bet you’re well beyond sick of hearing me whine about how “race day is here” and “I’m so nervous.” I wish I could say I had something else to talk about, but like I said, I’ve got a one-track mind right now. Sorry kids, but just bear with me for a few more days.

Last night after leftovers of pumpkin mac n’ cheese (umm Christine, not sure if you saw my comment to you, but this dinner was a freakin HIT–amazing!), I deliberated for far too long on packing my marathon bag. And I’m still not sure I have everything, but I do have two pairs of sneaks, two pairs of shorts, compression socks, regular socks, two long sleeve tech tees and my marathonwiner shirt, courtesy of the JD. I’ve also got GU, sportsbeans, Gatorade chews and other fuel galore…which as I learned in my 21.5 miler, is really just a big waste of valuable luggage real estate. Oh, well. Better safe than sorry.

And the two most important pieces of all–my very nerdy white visor and my participant information packet, which will get me into the expo on Friday for packet pick up! Wootwoot!

The expo may be one of my favorite parts of any major race. My friend is driving in from Maryland to run the half (yay!) so we are meeting at the expo, then posting up for a night of relaxation and carbs with the fam. I’ll keep all of my attention focused on that fun stuff for the next few hours of work, and hopefully stop reading marathon recaps and other race related web pages until my eyes bug out…Oh and p.s. I SLEPT IN TODAY AND DIDNT RUN. Total rest day. Who whoulda thunk it? 🙂

Have a great day guys!

Hey runner friends–quick question…I’m signed up to do a bus tour of the marathon course Friday afternoon. Do you think it’s a good idea? Or would I be just as good being surprised come race day? My friend can’t make the tour so I’m not sure if I want to bother…

Any last-minute tips? Feel free to share 🙂

It’s in the Air

Manhattan is buzzing with all-things marathon this week. And it is awesome. Even for someone NOT running the ING NYC marathon. I can’t help but get completely caught up in the excitement–and get pumped for my friends running the boroughs on Sunday, and for my own marathon less than a week later.

In fact, that excitement carried me down to the Jacob Javits Center yesterday afternoon for a little expo action. Hey, it’s open to the public!

hiya, expo. next year, i hope to visit you as a nyc marathon runner. not spectator.

The expo provided me with a lunch of freebies–powerbar samples, Gatorade chews, Odwalla protein shakes–you name it, I tried it. But worry–I did not make a name for myself as a spectating freeloader. I tried those samples, and then I opened up the wallet and stocked up for my own marathon needs:

those little oatmeal raisin powerbar balls may be the best thing ive ever eaten. go try them.

words can't describe how happy i am about this purchase

I stocked up on lots of running fuel–both because it’s important to have while running, and because it was all delicious.

I also purchased some new Brooks running gloves after having lost mine during a random McDonald’s bathroom break last winter. These are amazing gloves for so many reasons. They are reflective, have mitten covers to shield the wind, and are super warm and comfy. A must have for winter running!

After the expo I decided I wanted to squeeze in a quick shakeout run after Wednesday night’s 12-miler. I have been reading that it’s important to do practice runs in your race day gear. Since the JD can’t make it to Richmond for Race Day (sad face), I definitely want to race in the shirt he had made for me, so yesterday I suited up in my marathonwiner/Richmondmarathon tee and went for an easy jog down Central Park West.

the crazy/terrified look on my face is due to the fact that the next time i rock this shirt will be marathon morning. eeks!

As it turns out, this shirt is good luck! Well, whether or not it’s good luck as far as crossing the finish line after 26.2 miles is yet to be told, but it I was wearing it during my first-ever, legitimate NYC celeb siting! While cruising down CPW in the 80’s yesterday I SAW ALEC BALDWIN! Holy bigtime siting. If there is a celeb to see in NY, I can’t imagine a better one than that! And perhaps the greatest part of the entire event was that I kept my cool–didn’t get all googly-eyed and trip and fall on my face. I’ll take that as a win!

After my star-studded run I was super late to my second-to-last shift at the restaurant. After a considerably uneventful night there I came home and stalked the internet for more marathon tips, tricks and other reads. It was then, that I stumbled upon one of many lovely little articles that talks the big 5 marathon courses (Boston, NY, Chicago, London and Berlin) and read this little gem:

The toughest: New York

The London, Berlin and Chicago marathon courses are all almost completely flat. Boston has its famous Wellesley Hills, but the course is a net downhill and it has hosted some pretty fast times. The toughest course among the Marathon Majors is New York’s. It features three significant hills and a lot of small ups and downs. And cruelly, the toughest part of the course is the end, where tired runners are slammed by the rolling slopes of Central Park.

This was a big confidence boost for me, because taper time has made me feel slow, undertrained and undermileaged (yes, I just made that word up). And even though I may have blacked out during it, I must remember that I DID in fact, run 18 miles through the “rolling slopes of Central Park.” And if those same slopes help dub that one of the trickiest marathon courses in the world, than I feel so happy and proud to have them under my belt. And I hope, hope, hope, that means I’m ready for Richmond on November 12th.

Today I will try everything in my power TO NOT RUN. And to fully take a rest day (even though I’ve still got runner’s guilt over two rest days in a row last Saturday and Sunday). I’ve got a trip to David’s Bridal (don’t get excited, it’s for a bridesmaid dress and not a wedding dress) and piles of laundry to hopefully distract me until MY LAST SHIFT AT THE RESTAURANT tonight. Then its a weekend full of running with friends (Katherine, let’s talk about tomorrow–and anyone else who wants to join) and watching friends run in the 2011 ING NYC Marathon on Sunday. Good luck out there runners!!!

Have an awesome weekend kids!

– And as always, I’m getting boring with my questions/requests. But any and all last-week-of-taper advice is more than welcome!


I officially have the song nightswimming by R.E.M. stuck in my head…anyone?

Anywho. As I mentioned yesterday, I had attempted to wake up early and get a run in before work, but sleep got the better of me. I pushed snooze and lounged almost until it was time to walk out the door.

My original plan to wake up early had had many reasons. I really want to get myself back in the habit of early morning runs before the new job takes off on Monday morning. I also really wanted to get myself in the habit before November 12th, when I’ll have to wake up at 5 something in the a.m. before running 26.2 miles. Eeks.

But I’ve been told sleep is just as important–if not more important–than mileage during taper time. So I took the mini fail in stride.

As often happens in the restaurant business, I didn’t get out until a full hour later than I had anticipated. This meant I had to tell Katherine to run without me, rather than continually keep her waiting (sorry again, Katherine!) and change up  my own Central Park attack plan. Since it was getting dark out and I had gorged myself on a gross amount of spinach dip before leaving the restaurant, I didn’t think the 12 miles I had planned would have been the greatest idea. Instead, I figured I’d see how busy the park was (I’d never really run it at night before) and if it looked like there was a good sweat crowd out, I’d do one outer loop and then head home.

Well, you know me. I’m stubborn.

I had 12 miles on the brain yesterday, and so 12 miles is what I ended up doing. Oops.

In all fairness, the park was probably just as dark as it would have been had I made it out at 6:30 a.m. (watch this be the one time my parents decide to read the blog and go apeshit when they see I DARED enter the park after dusk), but it was ALIVE with runners, bikers, tourists and who knows who else!

There were lots of glowstick-clad pace training groups sandwiching me in every segment of the run, and I felt 100% safe. And I guess the “newness” of a nighttime run super charged me, because the spinach dip as fuel did not have any negative impact on my run. In fact, it was best run I’ve had in a couple of days–I felt great!

I did one outer loop as planned, including the full scale of Harlem Hills, and then stuck around for one more 4-mile jaunt around an inner loop.

There were more bats than the birds I’m used to seeing. So that was weird. And I did get a little confused by the corral-like structures lining the west side of the park for this weekends marathon and had to retrace my steps a few times, but the run was otherwise a dream. Awesome views of the city skyline lit up, great weather, and an overall feeling of excitement from the other groups of runners and the entire west side of the park, but specifically, this little gem:

again, dumphone quality. but if you're a runner, you likely already know that this is the finish line of the ING NYC marathon. annnnd says "run for life" on it. LOVE.

I figure last night may have been the last chance I’ll have to get that close to the finish line…until maybe next November? We’ll see.

Once I got home I tried to be better about stretching and foam rolling and then spent the remainder of the evening stalking every single page of the Richmond Marathon to see if there’s anything I’m missing. It appears that the elevation for the course is considerably flat though, so I’ll be good to go if I keep my runs from here on out along Riverside park or even just the neighborhood streets. Because other than an 8-10 mile jog on Saturday, I really, really REALLY want to keep the distance down to Hal’s taper time recommendation. If you see me post about any other longer runs, leave your computer, hit the streets and track me down. And then punch me in the arm and drag me home. Because taper time means rest time.

Not sure what’s on the agenda for today, but very likely some wandering around the city until my shift at 4:00, because its beautifulllll outside 🙂 If there’s time, perhaps a VERY EASY 3-4 mile shakeout run, or maybe even a spin class to switch things up a bit! Who knows. Recommendations welcome!

*All this of course…AFTER I watch Hoda (and KLG, if that mention is necessary. sorry, that was mean). It’s my second-to-last morning of non-office freedom to enjoy the Today Show, so my butt will be glued here for a few. And I just found out Hoda and KLG will be reporting from Orlando [read: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter] next week. Maybe I should have put my work start date off a few days? Bahaha/Sera, sera.

Have a very happy Thursday kids!

…on being social

at the Social Table, that is.

This is something I highly, HIGHLY recommend. And my recommending it to you shows how much I care about you, because Chef Rebecca’s (owner, operator and cook at the Social Table) classes fill up so fast that it takes weeks and sometimes months of waitlisting to get in. Considering how much I love going and want my own name to move up on the list, I should keep this NYC class a secret for as long as humanly possible. But Rebecca is awesome (she even donated some classes to a great cause for me back in August) and deserves the plug, and blog friends are just as awesome and deserve this experience.

Last night the JD wrangled away from work early enough to meet me in midtown just before our Fall Chicken Dinner class. The menu consisted of:

– Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Mushrooms with crispy Shallots (that I will now be making every single night for the next 6 months or so)

– Smashed Fried Red Potatoes with Rosemary & Parmesan (this is the crunchy french fry lovers heaven. words just can’t describe)

– Pan-Crisped Chicken with Carmelized Onions and a Garlic Pan Sauce (anything carmelized always becomes 432423 times better)

– and a Classic Apple Crisp with Vanilla Icecream (super easy to make and the perfect fall dessert)

Sadly, my NOT being a food blogger was evident, because this is the only photo I walked away with last night:

this photo only just falls short of really capturing the fun and excitement of the evening...

Guess I got far too wrapped up in the cooking, and more importantly–the eating, part of the evening. Oops. Sorry kids!

Any who, the night was awesome but ended late. Which means that it was near impossible for me to drag my toosh outta bed when the alarm went off at 6:15 for what I hoped to be one last 12-miler through the park.

Hal and many others have told me that sleep is just as important (if not more) than mileage during taper, so I turned the alarm off and zonked out for another few hours. Now I’ve got some coffee to sip, foam rolling to force myself to finally do (it’s been ages) and my last 10-5 shift waiting for me at the restaurant. I’m reallllly hoping to get that run in after the work day is over. *Fingers crossed*

I know if I don’t hit 12 miles it’s not the end of the world, and I’m mentally preparing for that because I know it will be far more difficult a. late in the day and b. after being on my feet all day, but I know it would make me feel better about my overall training/taper. So we shall seeee what happens!

Have a verryyyy happy Wednesday 🙂

Again, a giant plea to all of you runners out there–my marathon is in 10 days. Holy crap.

– What do you recommend for miles from here on out?

– Howwww do I stop myself from wanting to eattttt as if I were in peak training?

Beating myself up

I’ve been beating myself up, both mentally and physically for a while now. If you’ve read this blog for more than one day you’re probably well aware of the fact that I give myself grief on the regular over having chosen Hal’s “easier” marathon training plan. I dote on that for a while, throwing lots of billying (billy=bully in my world. long story) comments at the mirror and scoffing when I look at my training log that reports a peak week of 55 miles instead of 60.

Then I back up and tell myself to chill. This is, after all, my first marathon. Given the fact that prior to signing up for it my running history had essentially consisted of one–I repeat, ONE–half marathon and a Ragnar Relay (that really shouldn’t count because it was far too fun to really be considered work of any kind) I know I should pat myself on the back for every mile run past 13.1. I should be happy knowing that I killed 20 miles on Friday afternoon. Yes, but you read about so many others who run 20 miles THREE times while training. And then 22. And then 231.

See? Did you see the mean little voice come out? Happens all the time.

That is me mentally beating myself up.

Physically, I guess you could say a 20 mile run is considered a beat down. But I won that fight. I felt great after a little couch time Friday afternoon, and even made it through a very long night of work afterwards, completely pain-free. In fact, I woke up Saturday STILL feeling well. I ran 7 miles and some change Saturday afternoon–all along the Bridle Path and reservoir to give myself a break from the concrete. And I felt great. And could have kept going. My confidence was soaring because I figured if I could run close to 29 miles in less than two days, I could certainly do 26.2 in one day.

But then Saturday night came. And while I swore to myself that taper-time would involve ZERO alcohol, peer pressure [read: severe lack of willpower] got the better of me. And I was the one suggesting a shot of patron immediately upon walking into a bar on the LES Saturday night. I don’t even like shots! What the hey?! I think I was subconsciously have a delayed celebration from Fridays run/trying too hard to keep up with the JD and his sisters and our friends. Le sigh. Epic fail marathonwiner, epic fail.

Yesterday was an almost perfect day–beautiful weather, our company extended to include the JDs parents at a delicious brunch, a late afternoon walk around town with the JD (during which I got a great deal on some workout clothes at Gap and finally found shoes for this weekends wedding!), etc. etc….all with a weenie headache that refused to leave.

And was still hanging around this a.m. when I got up to run. So I spent the first half of my 6.5ish mile run thinking about how I’d have to come back and write about the worst run since that fateful day in September when I thought I would collapse into a pile of mush in the middle of the Hudson River Park. Instead, as running always does, it cured me. Halfway through the run I found the high, I found the calm, I got deliriously happy over the fall weather and I felt good. And I vowed that I’d instead come back and announce to internet world that the last few days just don’t count. And from this taper point forward, no alcohol, no inhaling bags of Halloween candy (courtesy of the JDs mom) in one sitting, no following every meal with “just a little taste” of dark chocolate dreams PB. It’s time to get serious. Healthy eating, health drinking (hello water!), and healthy sleeping from now until race day. This (unfortunately) includes this weekend, where even though I’ll be celebrating my best friends wedding in Richmond with my family and favorite friends, there will be no cheating. Okay, maybe wedding cake is acceptable. Just a smidge. Hold me to it, internet world, hold me to it!

In the meantime, I’ve got a speech to write, an interview to kill, packing galore and lots of stalking/memorizing of the Richmond Marathon website to do. Busy week!

Have a very happy Monday kids–enjoy this gorgeous weather!

And here’s a fun little clip to keep you entertained if you’re stuck in an office and can’t enjoy the weather right now:

– Tell me more about your taper. Do you have a Jekyll and Hyde thing going on too? I need pointers!

– This wedding is the first one that I’m in/the first one of my nearest and dearest friends to tie the knot. If you’ve got ideas on anything I can do to make it extra fun and special, do tell!

%d bloggers like this: