How to Improve Your Marathon Finish Time

Hope you all had a great weekend! Mine included relaxing/seeing family and friends/eating a lot of delicious food/running a half marathon yesterday. I ended up finishing the half with a new PR! I am excited because it gives me a confidence boost for my upcoming marathon in Phoenix. More about the half in another post!

In November, 2014, I ran the Philadelphia marathon in 4 hours and 3 minutes. After crossing the finish line (my 11th marathon), although I felt fatigued as anyone would after running 26.2 miles- I did not feel like I had pushed my body to the maximum. I felt that I still had some strength in me- maybe not at that exact moment of crossing the line, but in the hours, days, weeks following the race.

IMG_0758Finish line @Philly Marathon

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Sidelined by an Injury: An Interview

IMG_4411Montage of sunrises during Angela’s morning runs

Today’s post will feature one example of an exercise enthusiast who has had to deal with an injury. My close friend Angela was in the middle of training for her first marathon and was sidelined by an unrelated foot injury (specifically, while playing recreational softball). Injuries are common among runners, so I wanted to share Angela’s situation and positive perspective on injury, as her patience has enabled her to heal appropriately and eventually sign up for another marathon. Enjoy!

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Trail Running & Weekend Fun

Hope you had a great weekend and that your week is off to a great start!

My weekend included lots of fun activities, such as spending time with some friends:

IMG_1399Liberty hotel post several rounds of Cards against Humanity at la casa. That game never gets old.

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Currently Loving…

1.      Netflix show “Master of None” with Aziz Ansari. Must watch if you are in the mood for a good laugh (who isn’t?!). They say that this show is the modern “Seinfeld” and seeing that I can easily relate to many of the issues brought up in the show, I agree! From dating disasters, to debates on the appropriate text message responses, to issues with friends and family—this show is relatable and outstanding.

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Workouts, Work Party, and Looking Forward to the Weekend!

Boston, you sure can be warm for December! I guess winter is imminent in New England, but it would be nice if it could wait a few more months!


This week included some tough workouts, including my first true speed workout since training for Big Cottonwood Canyon this summer. I had to take the speed work inside on the treadmill due to the rainy midweek weather. After that experience, I will aim to run sprint workouts outside going forward if at all possible. The workout included a two mile warm-up, and 5 X 800m (half mile) sprints, with 400m (quarter mile) recovery in between, and a one mile cool. This is a fairly typical marathon training sprint workout. However, I found it very difficult to keep up my target 3:30/800 meter pace. I managed to hit the splits, but was more out of breath than I think I ever have been. Let’s hope that next week’s speed workout goes better!

Continue reading “Workouts, Work Party, and Looking Forward to the Weekend!”

Welcome to December and 2016 races!

I can’t believe another year has almost passed! 2015 has been a good one- I got a new job that I enjoy, moved into a new place, moved in with a new “roommate” :), traveled around the world and within the USA, and ran some fun marathons. I saw several close family members and friends get married and engaged, have babies, get new and exciting jobs, hike new mountains, start new relationships, and run PRs!

2016 is just around the corner, and I am even more excited to dive in to the next year!


Continue reading “Welcome to December and 2016 races!”

Long Run & Family Fun

Welcome to Monday, readers!

Yesterday’s long run went well overall. It was in the upper 30’s when I first left home, and reached the low 40s towards the end of the run. I wore tights, a long sleeve shirt, and light running jacket with thin gloves. About an hour into the run I started to feel warm, but once the wind blew I cooled off again, so it was one of those confusing running days in terms of attire. Taking off the gloves helped.

Even though it was cold outside, I was happy I carried water with me. I went through an entire bottle by the end of 16 miles since the water fountains are finally shut off. The first 8 miles were roughly a 9 minute mile pace, but I had to pick up the pace in the last 8 as I was running late. Miles 12, 13, and 14 were supposed to be at marathon pace (8-8:10 minute miles), but I ran the following splits: 8:20, 8:12, and 8:07. Last mile was a cool down. My legs weren’t able to move faster in the first MP mile, but luckily I was able to speed it up in the second two miles. I will just have to practice this again!


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Taking it Outside on Friday

Good morning and hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones!

My Turkey day was the usual: delicious, relaxing, full of laughter and interesting conversations. I always feel inspired by my family and love the time we spend together. No family is perfect– but I’m very thankful for mine!

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Holidays, Turkey Trots, and Treadmills

Living in Boston during the holidays, especially Thanksgiving, has always been special. I grew up in a town not far from where the Pilgrims landed and founded Plymouth Plantation, so I can’t think of a better place to be to celebrate this holiday!

IMG_1140.JPGOne of my favorite places to run in my home town!

Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday to begin with: the time spent with family and friends, the delicious food and dessert we all eat, the non-commercialization of the holiday makes it top of my list.  Christmas is a close second, but probably because it extends throughout the entire month of December!

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Carbo-loading and Other Thoughts on Food

Last night my sister, some cousins, and I got together over sushi- one of my favorite foods. I’m also very lucky to have lots of family all over the Boston area!


Yesterday was another 6am wakeup call for me, as I had to get in 6 miles of speed work before work. My coaches have incorporated speed work into one run a week, which I usually run on Wednesdays. I ran on the treadmill this time which was on a slight incline given the somewhat crooked floor of my gym- so this added some extra difficulty! I felt a little sore from that run, as well as this morning’s easy 6 mile run. But the soreness is not an injury, and I know that my body is just adapting to these new running routines. I need to include more stretching into my routine going forward too.

Continue reading “Carbo-loading and Other Thoughts on Food”

Getting a Sweat in Before the Sun Rises

Hope the first half of your week has been great so far!

My alarm was set for 6am yesterday morning, as I had 7 miles to fit in before work. I had an event after work, so it was either get up early and run or miss the workout. I followed the same routine this morning, but ran 6 miles easy.


Just a pretty drone pic of our New England fall last month! @imnotquitejack :)

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New Orleans Marathon Review


When I started working with my coaches a couple of weeks ago, I decided to train for a marathon and re-qualify for Boston with a finish time that would allow me to register for the race. This was a change from my initial goal of just “running for fun” in my next race, without a time goal. But seeing that motivations and aspirations can change depending on one’s mood, I decided to attempt a time goal one more time.

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Patriots win and welcome to a new week!

Good morning and happy Monday!

My 60 minute easy run yesterday turned into a 75ish minute run as I didn’t plan for the extra distance it would take me to get home. I felt strong while running, but will plan better next time. I am still getting the hang of these time-based runs! An estimate of yesterday’s mileage brings my total mileage for the week to 41 miles. 

Workouts for this upcoming week include a pair of 6 milers, a 7 miler, and a 15 miler. I will start to incorporate marathon pace into my long runs (which will be in Philly this weekend!). My marathon training for the rest of the month is primarily focused on recovery from the Marine Corps Marathon, while continuing to maintain a decent base of mileage. Training in December will be focused on building up marathon base mileage to increase overall endurance. My coaches will also start to incorporate marathon-specific speed work into my December workouts.

IMG_1051Boston Public Garden 

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Sunday Funday

Good morning! Hope you all had a great Saturday night!

This morning is full of coffee and nuun– I like the tri-berry flavor the best! Nuun are electrolyte tabs without sugar or carbs. They add light flavor to water, and I drink them on a regular basis. I like how the nuun tables are portable- great to take on trips!


On the schedule for today: time-based easy run (60 minutes today). I’ll switch the settings on my Garmin to only display time, and won’t worry about the distance covered.


This will be followed by lots of stretching, getting organized for the week, and then celebrating a friend’s birthday.

What are your Sunday plans? 

Have a great day!

My Favorite Gear

Happy Friday all! 

I have received some questions from fellow bloggers and runner friends about my favorite running gear. Over the years, I have experimented with many different outfits, brands, fuel options, electronics, and other running gear. The list below includes the items in which I currently rotate depending on the run/season.


  • Brooks GTS Adrenaline 14 & 15 (I own both and rotate between both).

FullSizeRender (2)Brooks Adrenaline 15’s, 14’s and Glycerin (I prefer Glycerins for walking, not running)


  • Garmin 310XT watch: large face so you can see your time while running, lightweight. Watch has some glitches, but is easy to reset. Boyfriend prefers the Garmin Forerunner 15, which is less bulky.
  • Apple Ipod shuffle: This small music device seems almost weightless, and clips well on sports bras/shirts/shorts for both men and women. It is not too pricey, has functioned very well for me so far! The only negative is that you cannot digitally see the songs that are playing, but you don’t want to fuss with that while on a run anyway!
  • Yurbud headphones: These babies have taken quite a beating in all elements, and still fit well in the ears. Highly recommend these!


Shirts & tanks:

Compression Socks:

Jackets/neon gear:


  • GU (chocolate, vanilla, and salted caramel are my favorite flavors, although I recently tried a salted watermelon and thought it was also delicious!)
  • Honey Stinger Waffles: I eat these before races, rather than during as they are a bit hard to carry given their size. They are light on my stomach and give you some last-minute extra calories as needed, with a lot of taste.

FullSizeRender (3)

Other gear:

  • Running belt: I wear a Spibelt during runs (training and racing) to conveniently carry my phone/GU/keys/money etc. I find the stretchy waist belt very comfortable.
  • Foam roller: I have used a variety of different foam roller models over the years, but my current favorite is the “Trigger Point” foam roller. This high-density foam roller has just enough firmness to massage my always-tight muscles.


  • Running stick: They say that this is a “toothbrush for runners”. I am not sure about that, but the stick helps me self-massage muscles! Sticks have a variety of flexibility, but I use the firm model.

So that is my list of current favorite gear– what are some of your favorite clothing/fuel/other running items?

What are your weekend plans? 

-Mine: Party at la casa tonight (it’s been awhile!)/14 miler on Saturday with a running buddy/friend’s birthday party on Sunday. Busy weekend! Hope you have a great one and get outdoors!!!

2015-09-treetops-day-2-32Just a nice photo of one of my favorite mountains (Cardigan, NH) taken during a hike with friends last month. Starting to plan some more spring hikes! Thanks @imnotquitejack! :) 

Throwback to First Marathon @Disney!

Most Americans visit Disney World for the first time as a kid. I was 26 years old for my first Disney experience – my first marathon. Some may say that I was a deprived child, but I disagree. Needless to say, I loved Disney Marathon! Yes, both the physical running of 26.2 miles as well as being at Disney.


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First full week of workouts and why I have a coach

Marathon training requires workouts most days of the week. In an ideal world, I would run around 11am, but my full time job doesn’t allow for that kind of flexibility! While I’d love to consistently get up early and run before work, I sometimes find running later in the day works better for me. My workouts happen before or after work depending on the day’s schedule (or my mood!).

IMG_0977State House all lit up- running through Boston after dark isn’t the worst thing!

Still, I prioritize getting my runs in each day, so my post-work plans determine the timing of my workout. Last night I fit my coaches’ prescribed 7 miles/stride-outs in after work, whereas this morning, I woke up early and ran my 6 miles with speed work and strength routine before work. These were both great ways to end/start my days.

I mentioned in a previous post that I worked with a coach for the first time while training for Big Cottonwood marathon. My coach at the time helped me build up my speed and endurance to a place where I could run my fastest marathon- my ultimate goal. Since this experience, I have been hooked on the idea of having a coach, but decided to switch to another coaching program, Run Farther and Faster. My new coaches Julie and Lisa have been fantastic, and I am really looking forward to working with them as I train for my next couple of marathons, including my goal race: Phoenix.

IMG_0976Another night shot of this beautiful city where old & new seem to blend well together

A few reasons why I enjoy working with a coach:

  • Coaches do the hard part by creating a training plan based on your level of fitness, using their expertise.
  • Coaches push you to work harder and help you push to your potential, particularly because of the accountability factor. I find that when I self-report versus reporting to a coach, I tend to make more excuses for cutting corners, etc.
  • This is an obvious reason, but coaches can be supportive, encouraging, and provide you with feedback to all of your questions and concerns- I enjoy receiving feedback from experts in the field!

These are just some of the reasons why I have chosen to work with a coach in my next training cycle.  Have you worked with a coach?

What does your week look like in terms of workouts?

My Journey to BQ at Big Cottonwood Canyon Marathon 

Warning: this is a long post! I have been meaning to write about my BQ at Big Cottonwood Canyon UT for a while and wanted to include info on the training leading up to the race as well as an overview of the race itself. If you don’t want to read about the blood, sweat, and tears I faced in this race, I won’t be offended if you click away :)

After my annual viewing of the Boston Marathon this past April, I found myself more determined than ever to attempt to re-qualify for the marathon (even despite the horrifically rainy and cold conditions of the 2015 race!). I decided that day in April to find a race in a unique location, which had a favorable course for a PR. I perused through my marathon go-to source (, and quickly found my race of choice: Big Cottonwood Canyon in Salt Lake City, Utah. The race is put on by REVEL, and had great ratings. I watched some footage on a previous year’s race and promptly signed up.

IMG_0886Marathon training in Boston is fun!

My training:

My Big Cottonwood marathon training cycle started in mid-May. I had already built up a solid base after running Philly marathon the previous November, and had also run a couple of half marathons in the spring. But in general, I was starting this training cycle with fresh legs, and was determined to train hard and with consistency.

As a part of this plan, I hired my first running coach because I needed to make some changes to my training, and needed someone to push me. I also work best (like many others) when I am held accountable to someone other than myself- and this ended up being the missing link for me.

My coach set up my training schedule on google calendar a month ahead of time. I would log each run, and she would comment on occasion. Throughout summer 2015, I built my long runs up to 22 miles, and also added in speed work and tempo runs (400 meter, 800 meter, or mile repeats, with cool downs in between). I incorporated 4 half marathon races into my training, and at times added on more miles post-race if the day called for more miles.


Providence half & Gloucester half this summer. Love incorporating half marathons with marathon training!

Some of my long runs were “fast finishes”, ie- the last several miles were at marathon pace. One long run included a couple mile warm-up, 10 miles at marathon pace, and a couple mile cool down.

IMG_09494th of July road race!

In general, I think I was prepared for Big Cottonwood Canyon on marathon day (September 12th, 2015). Some of my long runs during the training cycle did not go as well as I had wanted, particularly because of the time of year (summer), but I usually hit my speed work splits, so hoped that those runs would help me run strong in those last few precious miles.

IMG_0951Another training run along the Charles River

The race:

Big Cottonwood is known as a fast race, amenable to PRs. The first 19 miles of the course are mostly downhill, but miles 19-23 have some rolling hills. The last 2 miles are mostly back to being downhill, a change which is subsequently very tough on the legs (well, more tough than usual for the last two miles of a marathon). My sig Mark (who was running the half) and I decided to drive the course the day before the race, which helped me mentally prepare for the downhill and course logistics. I highly recommend driving a race course to prepare if you can, especially if the course is completely unfamiliar!

IMG_0947View in Moab during my last training run before the marathon!

Race expo was easy, on the small side. Plenty of parking, but you’ll need a car. Note that Utah is a very car-friendly, car-necessary state.

Our hotel was not one of the official hotels for the race, as those had sold out, but we were fine with the Courtyard Marriott in Sandy, UT. On race morning, we had to drive a few miles to the shuttle pickup. The lines for the shuttles were VERY long, but moved surprisingly quickly. They took us to the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon, roughly 9700 feet high in the sky, to where the marathon starts. Half marathon started a couple of hundred feet south of us at 7300 feet. Coming from Boston, I felt a little hard core being so high in the mountains.

REVEL runs an organized race- the top/start had plenty of porta potties, and our bags at bib pickup included mylar blankets and gloves, which were perfect for early mornings on the top of a mountain. Coming from sea-level, I could feel the effects of being almost 10k feet high, but the downhill nature of the course outweighed some of the effects.

True to the course description, the first 19 miles of the race were basically a steady downhill (with an exception of a steep hill at mile 4, which was at an elevation of roughly 8500 feet high- this was tough on the lungs to say the least). I maintained a 3:25-3:30 pace for this portion, and was determined to stay well ahead of the 3:35 pacer. A 3 hour 35 minute (or less) marathon finish was the time I needed to qualify for Boston.

After the half-way point, I desperately wished that I had trained on downhill courses more frequently to prepare for this terrain. But despite the deep fatigue my legs were feeling from all of the pounding, I felt great and ran consistent 7:30-7:45 minute miles. At mile 19, my pace slowed up as the course became hilly. Hills at 5500 feet elevation were no joke. At one point I had to stop and stretch, and also just catch my breath. It was a very interesting feeling, being out of breath at this point even in the flat sections. I knew that I was far from home.

At mile 23, I noticed the 3:35 pacer slowly creeping up to me and at that moment felt very emotional and overwhelmed. The pacer caught up to me at 24, and asked me how I was doing. I was honest and told her that I was very disappointed to see her. She said that she was running a minute or so ahead of a 3:35, that the rest of the race was downhill, and that she knew I had it in me to push myself. I know she had no idea, but her motivational lines helped me push through.

At that point, I was determined to reach my goal and pushed I crossed the line @3:33.06 and saw Mark, who promptly yelled “you friggin qualified!!!”.

The rest of the day was a blur, but I remember bits of the following: devouring pizza and Gatorade at the finish, crawling to the car, showering off the massive amounts of salt that caked my body (maybe the dry air evaporated the sweat?), passing out for a long time, then crawling to the movie theatre and lastly eating amazing Mexican food at a restaurant in SLC where I devoured so many chips and guacamole, that I got my fill for the year…almost :)

End of story: run this race if you can. Loved everything about it, and it’s a great one if you’re serious about qualifying for Boston (aren’t we all?).

661About to cross the finish line- won’t ever forget that day!

What is your favorite running memory? 

Anyone else on the road to a BQ?

Let’s get through Monday and heading to Philly soon!

Good morning and Happy Monday! Hope your week gets off to a great start.

Two weeks from now, I will be heading down to Philadelphia with some family and friends. My sister and cousin are running the Philly marathon, and I am going to cheer them on!

IMG_0919City Hall along race course

I’ve run the Philly marathon three times- in 2011, 2012, and 2014– and just thinking about the race brings back many happy memories. Philly marathon was my second fastest marathon finish (2011 race), as well as one of my slowest finishes (2014 race).  Yet in the three times I have run the race, I learned so much and enjoyed it every time.

IMG_0747 update2014 race with my sibs and Mark

Some thoughts:

  1. This marathon is great for a PR. The course is relatively flat (with the exception of some moderate hills between miles 7-10 (University Park areas and West Philly zoo/memorial) and 19-22 (Manayunk area), but the race falls in the time of year for ideal race temperatures. In the three years I ran the race, temps ranged from the 40’s to low 50’s—ideal for a great time.
  2. Given the timing of the race, training starts in the summer but the majority of the long runs will be in the cooler September/October months.
  3. The race has great spectator support. There are sections of the race where spectators are more sporadic – through the park prior to the halfway mark and along the schuylkill river miles 15 to 26.2 (with the exception of lively Manayunk). However, the out and back course layout enables you to see the elite runners pass by, which is especially motivating for me.
  4. Race day is held the weekend prior to Thanksgiving holiday, allowing you some nice rest (and food!) for the week following the race (week zero).
  5. The city of Philadelphia has a lot of great food options- we have always eaten very well pre- and post- race!
  6. Spending a weekend in Philadelphia before the holidays is special time. The city is decorated and festive.
  7. There are plenty of hotel or airbnb options close to the race course. We’ve always stayed downtown and have been able to walk to the start of the race (and crawled back post-race). Super convenient!
  8. Race logistics are organized, with pacers as well as adequate hydration stations throughout the course.

IMG_09172012 race finish

I am disappointed to not be running Philly this year, but am really looking forward to being a spectator this time around! I might jump in towards the end of the race to help pace her, but TBD. She is going for a BQ and I think she will meet that goal in this race!

IMG_07582014 race finish

Stay tuned for a recap in a couple of weeks!

Has anyone run Philly marathon? Any tips or tricks that you’ve learned from the race?


Nice fall Saturday in Boston!

Hello Saturday! Hope your weekend is off to a great start.

Last night I saw “The Martian” with friends and I highly recommend it. It would be amazing to experience being in outer space- but it could be very lonely out there! I won’t say anything more to spoil the movie- but just see it if you haven’t!

I had 12 miles on the schedule to run today but was only able to get in a few miles in this morning as I had to get to a brunch to celebrate a close friend. Splitting up runs is not something I normally do- but it is better than nothing. I had another time constraint in the evening, so knew I’d only have a short window of time in the afternoon to run the second set of miles.

IMG_0909Boston has some beautiful running paths!

It was another beautiful fall day in Boston- would love the temperatures to just stay put for while!

IMG_0913Heading towards the Charles for a run- suddenly the scene seems more winter-like!

I’m taking it easy tonight because I’m running a 5k tomorrow morning. I haven’t run a race at that distance in awhile and I’m looking forward to it!

Anyone else racing tomorrow? Good luck!