Training to Recover and Recovering to Train

What a difference a day makes! We were met with sunny, spring-like weather over the weekend which quickly turned to wintry rainy weather yesterday. At least it wasn’t the reverse!

IMG_0018Sign of spring in Boston: Duck Boats are back on the streets!IMG_0017

Keep Reading!

Advertisements

Making Peace on a Friday

Happy Friday to all! Hope you’ve had a great week and are staying positive, as the weekend is near! It’s darkest before dawn, so hope you are gearing up for a mix of fun plans/workouts/runs/family time/friend time/alone time over the next couple of days.

This week commenced with sadness in the wake of the terrorist attack in Brussels. My heart breaks for those touched by this tragedy. In my seemingly powerless little corner in Boston, something I can control is the persistent feeling of empathy for those around me, and a promotion of kindness. Spreading peace and compassion to neighbors won’t curb violent attacks around the world, but helping others on an individual level might be the right amount of influence to deter those considering violence.

A photo I took when I visited Brussels a few years ago:IMG_2966

Keep Reading!

Happy St. Patty’s Day & Boston Marathon Advice

Happy St. Patrick’s Day friends!! Hope you’re having a great week so far. Are you doing anything to celebrate the holiday? I’m going to hold off until the weekend to observe the splendor of my heritage. :)

new-boston-magazine-cover-features-sneakers-worn-in-the-boston-marathon

Speaking of celebrations, I am so excited that Boston marathon is just over one month away (one month and one day to be exact!). On that Patriot’s Day weekend, Boston will be swarming with excited and eager runners and their patient family members and friends. It’s always such a special time to be in the city, bustle and all! Stay tuned for an upcoming post on must-see’s and do’s in Boston over marathon weekend (or any other time!).

IMG_2456

Keep Reading!

Five Updates from this Week!

Happy Friday! Hope you all have had a great week! 

This first full week of March has been a great one! It’s felt like spring over here in Boston, a huge contrast to last winter where we had about five feet of snow still blanketing our city at this time. I will take it!

Five highlights from this week:

1.I signed up for my next race, which is tomorrow morning! It’s called the Black Cat 10 and 20 mile road race and is located in Salem, MA, about 20 minutes north of Boston. The race is held during the Boston marathon training cycle for those training for that race, but is for all levels of runners. Mark and I are signed up for the 20 mile race, although I am going to run about 15 because I am still recovering from Phoenix. My sister is running the 10 miler as well. It will be so great to run together again! I ran this race a few years ago and felt that it was very well supported and had great scenery. There is no better way to run 10-20 miles than with others! Race recap to come.

BanneratDevereux

Keep Reading!

Phoenix Marathon Review

Thank you so much for all of your Phoenix Marathon love in my last post! I promised you a full review, so here you go!

PhoenixLogo4

First off, while I am so thrilled to have run a personal best and BQ, I am always looking to improve, and think that I can potentially meet my “A” goal, which is a finish time somewhere in the 3:20’s.

Keep Reading!

Back to Reality

We got back to Boston late Monday night and I’m definitely missing the Miami sunshine already! While I love my home city of Boston, there’s nothing like escaping to warmer climates during the winter to cleanse the soul. Even a quick weekend away was such an incredible mental boost!

We wrapped up our trip with a great lunch with my parents who were also in town. Lunch with a view:

IMG_2379

Keep Reading!

Take Me Back to Siem Reap, Cambodia

Hope you all had a great weekend, and for some of you, a day off today! I am finally feeling better (although Mark is now under the weather!), but it will be nice to get out of the house a bit today!

This cold Boston weather has me thinking about steamy Southeast Asia, and the incredible time Mark and I spent there last year. Today’s post will have a different focus from running, but will take you to Siem Reap, Cambodia!

IMG_0058

Keep Reading!

Hello from PR and Thoughts on New Year’s Resolutions

Hope your week is going well so far! Just wanted to check in with a quick trip update. I consider blogging a fun hobby of mine rather than a chore or job (a sentiment encouraged by long-time bloggers!), and so here I am blogging from the tropics :)

We have loved San Juan, PR so far! The island has extensive history dating back to the 16th century, and the streets are full of culture and color.

IMG_1866IMG_1686IMG_1869

Keep Reading!

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.

IMG_0989

Keep Reading!

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 (www.marathonguide.com), 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.

C85D1986-380D-4DD6-BB34-768B0F3FAE2EIMG_0950

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 as.hard.as.I.possibly.could. 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?

 

Chicago Marathon Review

I ran the Chicago marathon in October 2013. It was a race to remember for many reasons, but most memorable was the fact that I ran with my sister and brother (my cousin came too but sadly couldn’t run due to an injury). My parents also came to watch the race, and we had a fantastic time together in the Windy City.  There are so many things to say about the race, one of the largest races in the country, but I will narrow it down to two quick lists of what did and didn’t work. Chicago was my 7th marathon, but I still learned a lot from the race.

IMG_0888

What didn’t work:

  1. Not following the #1 running rule of thumb of not going out too fast in the first half. I had not trained adequately for this race (skimping on the long runs, no speed work), so thinking that I could pick up and run 8 minute miles was not a reality that would last for long. I bonked somewhere between mile 16 and 18- not ideal!
  2. As I mentioned above, not training adequately for this race. In 2013, I pulled away from having a focus on running and training for races for many reasons, and this resulted in some slower marathon times, including Chicago. It is what it is- you get what you put into it. I am not disappointed by this span of slower races- I was happy to even finish them! Running was there for me when I wanted to get back into being in better shape/work hard in training.
  3. I went out too fast, and I think this is why I tweaked my left hamstring at mile 20. So I had to walk the last 6.2 miles, but I was determined to finish. My second half was two hours longer than my first half!
  4. The weather in Chicago was on the warm side for this marathon- the race started in the high 50s and jumped into the mid-to-high 60s towards the end. My ideal running weather is in the 40s and 50s (this is proven to be ideal for most runners- read here), so this was a bit warm for me. The weather factor was unavoidable, but just added to the difficulty of this marathon.

IMG_0891The Chicago bean (cloud gate)! Can you spot me?

What worked:

  1. Chicago really does live up to expectations of being a flat, fun, memorable race. It is very well organized, with so much spectator support. My parents said that it was very easy to get around and watch us at several different locations, so a great race for spectators!
  2. Given the popularity and size of the race, the course tends to be crowded, but I felt that there was a good flow going with my corral. All water stations were well-supported with volunteers so there wasn’t much traffic there either.
  3. Chicago is an amazing city (I don’t have to sell you on that!)- beautiful buildings, great restaurants and bars, and great people. It was a welcoming city to spend a weekend and run a marathon.
  4. Staying in the downtown area made getting to and from the start and finish line very convenient for my siblings and me. I would highly recommend staying on Magnificent Mile.

IMG_0887 (1)

I really want to run this race again one day, after training sufficiently. It is certainly a race to run a PR- and if not, you’ll still have a wonderful time in the city!

IMG_0892

Destination Utah: Part 2, Zion National Park

517Zion National Park in between monsoons

After Big Cottonwood Canyon marathon in Salt Lake City, Mark and I packed up and drove four and a half hours south from SLC to Zion National Park. We didn’t think that anything could compare to our time in eastern Utah at Arches and Canyonlands, but we were wrong!

466

First stop en route to Zion was Kolob Canyon, a section of the national park that is northwest of the main site. We were still very sore from the marathon & half marathon, but were able to drive to an amazing overlook.

IMG_0885

We then headed to Zion, which is accessed via the quaint town of Springdale. Our B&B for the next few days was situated in the downtown area, and surrounded by the canyon. Shuttles buzzed back and forth from Zion entrance to downtown, making the location of our B&B very accessible to the park. We loved the Novel House Inn!

FullSizeRender (8)Virgin river was wild post-monsoons!

We spent the next couple of days exploring Zion’s impressive geology, molded by the elements over thousands of years.  Our legs continued to feel the effects of the race, so we opted for more moderate to easy walks. Some memorable hikes include Emerald Pools Trail, Weeping Rock, and Riverside Walk, the gateway to the narrows.

During our second evening in Zion, Mark attempted to hike the Canyon Overlook Trail (which is on top of a tremendous switchback road) while I rested my legs in the car. As he started to ascend the overlook, rain began to trickle down, but the trickles soon turned to monsoon rain. Luckily he was able to climb down without too much difficulty, but this gave me a real scare! We noticed right then that waterfalls appeared suddenly out of nowhere across the canyon walls. On our drive down the switch back, a boulder had fallen in to the road! We were able to drive around it but were reminded again how powerful nature is, and how Zion National Park is an active park continuously being formed by nature.

FullSizeRender (9)

While in Zion, the surrounding area experienced some intense flash floods, an intense battle between water and rock. At the Zion visitor center, there was a hand written note at the wilderness desk indicating that flash flooding was “probable”.  At the entrance to the narrows, there was another more permanent sign indicating the same thing. Regardless of how formal or up to date the warnings were, we did not make it far into the narrows/slot canyons, given our physical shape post-marathon. We were lucky, as the flash flooding in the area became a very serious issue. Another reminder of the power of nature.

IMG_0647Beginning of the narrows

In between monsoon rains, I was able to take a photo of the rainbow (top of post). Our third day in Zion was met with some rain, so we stuck to the shuttles and visitor center, as well as the town of Springdale. We were sad to leave this incredible place but are looking forward to returning some day! I am eager to visit Zion (and Utah!) again with fresh legs! Angels Landing here I come!

Destination Utah: Part 1, Canyonlands & Arches

Good afternoon readers! Hope your day is going well.

I have been working on my post for Utah for awhile now, and it’s been tough to narrow down the photos to use for this blog- the state is so photogenic! There is so much to say about Utah that I decided to break up the posts into three sections- stay tuned for a post on Zion National Park as well as the Big Cottonwood Canyon marathon review!

When I signed up to run Big Cottonwood Canyon marathon (Salt Lake City, UT) in September, Mark and I decided to make the most out of being out there. We booked a week-long trip, with the marathon falling in the middle of the week. Neither of us had been to Utah, so we wanted to see as much of the state as possible! Thank you to friends and bloggers such as Hungry Runner Girl for inspiring us to visit Utah!

IMG_0882Canyonlands National Park

After landing in Salt Lake City, we picked up the rental car and headed directly east to Moab (about a 4 hour drive from SLC). We checked into our glamping site, Moab Under Canvas, and headed to Canyonlands National Park for a quick afternoon visit.

379381

Sun rising slowly over Moab

Canyonlands is a beautiful national park, and we loved the areas we explored on the Island in the Sky side of the park. We checked out Mesa Arch via a short hike, and then chose a slightly longer hike up Aztec Butte. Both hikes offered incredible views of the canyon.

366Mesa Arch

We wished we had more time in Canyonlands, but it was hard to fit everything in!

345Looking over Canyonlands

367View from Mesa Arch

Our stay at Moab Under Canvas was a memorable experience as well. It was truly glamping at its finest! Everything you would need under a tent, with hot coffee and breakfast each morning and relatively clean portable bathrooms with showers. Camping under the Moab sky allowed us to see a night sky that was nothing like I’ve ever seen- everything from the milky way to the north star was glowing. We would highly recommend staying at MUC if you’re in Moab.

326Our glamping site

Following our first night in Moab, we spent the day at Arches National Park. This majestic park has over 2,000 stone arches, and amazing sandstone rock formations molded over thousands of years by the elements. The sunsets over arches national park are also incredible, lighting up the red rocks so they appear to be on fire.

445

453Arches at sunset

Arches is accessible by car, with lots of parking at many of the must-see sites (we did go slightly off-season, in September, as opposed to the peak July and August season). Many of the sites require walking and/or more intense hiking. Given that we were running a marathon a few days from our visit, we decided to stick to the easy to moderate trails. Some highlights include balanced arch, skyline arch, delicate arch (only saw from ground), fiery furnace, and park ave.

IMG_0884Delicate Arch

438Fiery Furnace

We can’t say enough about how much we enjoyed Arches National Park. It was a stunning and unforgettable, very different from anything we have ever seen. Words do not describe the incredible beauty of the park, and it is a must-see when you are in that area of the country!

IMG_0883Arches at sunset is incredible!

Los Angeles Marathon Review

Good morning, hope your week is off to a great start! Running outside after work in the dark yesterday reminded me that daylight savings won’t happen again until March! Only about 4 months to go until longer days! :)

Last March my sister and I decided to escape the Boston winter and run the Los Angeles marathon. While running a PR was not the goal of this race, I did fit in some long training runs prior to the race. However these runs were mostly inside on the treadmill because of the weather. The race was just over three months after my previous marathon, Plymouth Plantation in MA.

015 Santa Monica Pier 

We flew to LA the Thursday night before the race. We stayed in Santa Monica, near where the “stadium to sea” race ended at the Santa Monica Pier. We loved this area of LA (like most people!), and found some great food options. Sugar Fish, Stella Barra– pizza and other carb-rich items were perfect pre-and post-race! We also enjoyed exploring the Santa Monica Pier, Muscle Beach, and Rodeo Drive and shopping at Third Street Promenade.

Bib and t-shirt pickup were at the LA Convention Center- plenty of parking and we thought it was conveniently located in the city. After eating our pre-race meals of peanut butter and banana on bagels, we shuttled over to Dodger Stadium a couple of hours prior to the 7:30 am race start. We felt that the shuttle system was convenient, and enjoyed hanging out in the stadium until the race started. Always a luxury to use real bathrooms instead of porta potties!

019 (1)Dodger Stadium prior to the start

The race started with a steep downhill, and a few more rolling hills followed. The rolling hills continued throughout the race until mile 24, when the course veered steadily downhill until the last 0.2. Course was overall scenic, passing all of the notable LA sites including Hollywood Hall of Fame, Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, Palisades Park, and Santa Monica Pier.

FullSizeRender (7)Santa Monica Beach

There was also a decent amount of entertainment along the course, and adequate water stations. The issue that my sister and I had with the race was the heat—the race started with a 70 degree temperature and climbed up into the mid-80s by the time we finished. I decided early on that given the heat, I would take this race easy and enjoy the sites. The race directors pushed up the date of the race by several weeks, which I think is a great idea. Hopefully future LA marathons are met with cooler temperatures!

028
Santa Monica finish line shot

My sister and I were happy to relax in the California sun on Santa Monica Beach for the rest of the trip!