Philly Marathon and Winter Training

Today was the first time in a week where I felt a flicker of spring. We were blanketed by a blizzard last weekend but perhaps it’s the sun setting after 5:00 PM or the slightly above-freezing temperatures that is starting to make a difference. But because of that snowstorm, I’ve been relegated to running inside on the treadmill. But I am dreaming of getting outside soon. Binging The OC (yes the TV show from 15 years ago) has almost made me believe I am running along Newport Beach.

Looking backwards though, Boston 2021 is an experience I won’t soon forget. Six weeks after that special weekend, I ran my 3rd Philly marathon on November 21st after claiming a late entry.

Here’s a little race recap:

I didn’t do much training in between Boston and Philly and used my base to get me to the finish line. Initially the plan was to take the race very easy, and I followed the plan until about Mile 16 when I realized I had already passed the “big hill” of the new course and still felt good. This came after an earlier boost when I stopped at the 10k point to hug Mark and the kids. After this hillier section, I turned on my music and focused for the last 10 miles. The Manayunk section around mile 20 also gave me a great push. I’m not sure if it was the initial low expectations or the perfect weather (42, sunny, no wind), but I felt great until about mile 25 where the course turns to an uphill finish. I worked through that last mile and crossed the finish line in 3:31. I was so happy, a feeling that can be fleeting these days. For the first time, I felt fitness come together.

After soaking in the spirit at the finish line, I walked back to our rental in Rittenhouse Square and hugged Mark and the kids.

I had missed these “runcations” since having kids and with the pandemic. I didn’t realize that the world was about to shut down again so I’m thankful to have had that special weekend away.

Looking forwards again, I’m in full Boston Marathon training mode these days as the race is about 2.5 months away! Something recently clicked in terms of motivation. I think it just took a bit of time to recover from my back-to-back marathons last fall. I have signed up for some other races to get me through the next wave of Boston training, including the Martha’s Vineyard relay race and Hyannis Half marathon. The big race I’m signed up for is NYC half in March. Depending how the next few weeks of training go, I’d love to aim for a half marathon PR there.

The biggest addition and positive change to my training recently are the amazing running friends I have found in my small town! They’ve really helped me get out there during the cold wintery days.

**11ish more** weeks to go ’till the big marathon and I hope to keep you more up to date on training! Thanks for following along :)

What are you currently training for?!

How are you handling winter running?

Boston Marathon Recap Part 2

If you missed it- check out my recap Part 1! After my bus arrived in Hopkinton, I realized an earlier start meant that I could ditch any additional food and just get going. Crossing the open starting line was much different than waiting for your wave in a corral.  I felt all the emotions and couldn’t believe that this was actually happening! I quickly zoned in and reviewed my plan of attack:

  • First 5k, “laughably slow”. The goal was to make the difference between the first mile and last significant.
  • Miles 4-13, make it to 13 feeling fresh, thinking, “controlled aggression”.
  • Miles 14-16, either bumping things up a bit or sitting pretty.
  • Miles 16-21 the 4 Newton Hills, time to get the party started!! Effort level 7/8 out of 10. I was thankful my coach had outlined expectations for each of the 4 hills.
  • Miles 21-26.2: run with heart.

I was thankful that there was a nice chill in the air at the start. The day ultimately turned into a warm one but proved to be nicer than training in the summer heat!

I managed to comply with the first 5k plan and I think it set me up for later success. Before long we approached the roaring crowds in Natick center. The amount of energy from the crowds there was unreal and it was fun to see my cousin! I generally followed the race plan for the next bucket of miles but turned up the speed a bit when I approached the Wellesley College scream tunnel. Some runner next to me shouted “Some things never change” and I reflected on that happily for a bit.

My pockets were lined with 4 Honeystinger gels and I held a plastic baggie of two bags of Honeystinger chews combined. I went through the chews first, without any real rhyme or reason but knew I needed to get through the entire baggie (320 calories) within the first 1.5 hours. I am working towards 200 calories/hour!

After seeing my parents, Mark, and my friend Luke at mile 14, and Amber at mile 15, the course takes a sharp downhill before the first set of 4 Newton hills at mile 16. I was feeling GOOD at this point! I was carrying my Jaybird headphones until then. During a downhill, I found an opportunity to put my headphones in, and turned on the music lightly. From mile 16 through 21 (the hills), I blasted my favorite tunes to help distract me.

My mantra for the Newton hills was “forward is a pace”. I walked part of the second hill which was as coach Mary describes, “just annoying”.  Even so, after cresting the 3rd hill I was mentally thinking/hoping it was heartbreak but it most certainly wasn’t. My effort was 8/10 but I kept chugging.

The last five or six miles of the race were a complete blur with some surprising small hills. I fed off the crowds but really it was all mental and just thinking, “one step in front of the other”, “I belong”, “every second counts in a BQ cutoff”, and “how many times have you run 4 miles…you got this”. One thing my coach wrote to me just before race day REALLY cycled through my thoughts throughout the race: “Might as well go for it, you know?!? You’ve worked WAY too hard not to.” The final miles were still a blur until I turned left from Hereford to Boylston with the finish line then visible. I will never forget running by my family at mile 26 and crossing the finish line feeling PROUD. Proud for my body and proud to have contributed to the MGH team.

I was grateful for being in Boston, thankful that the race was happening after a long pandemic, SO appreciative of the incredible support of donors to my fundraiser contributing to nearly $10,000 raised, grateful for my family, friends, and legs that could carry me this far. I’m still in shock at my finish time, one that I positive split by 32 seconds (this dream outcome has never happened!!). When I first ran a marathon in January 2011, I never knew what was possible. It took me 24 marathons to PR and I’m finally starting to believe that the world is my oyster.

Thank you for reading this far! I HOPE my time gets me in to Boston 2022 (BQ-6:44), but we won’t find out until after registration in mid-November. The good thing is my time qualifies me for 2023 and hopefully by then the cutoff times won’t be as severe as these pandemic years. If I don’t get into Boston next spring, I’ll find another marathon before I start training for NYC 2022. I just can’t get enough and am so thankful for the adventure that running has brought. Stay tuned for more training updates and race recaps to come!

Packing List When Travelling to a Race

Good morning and happy weekend! Given that I recently ran a race away from home (Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC), the logistics of running a destination race are fresh in my mind. Destination races/”runcations” are one of my favorite parts of running! You don’t want to be without the essentials for race day, so I have developed a list of things you should bring with you.


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Seattle Review

A few months ago, my sig Mark and I jetted off to Seattle for a long weekend. We loved our time in this beautiful northwestern city- including the food and coffee,  and access to amazing national parks!

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Trail runners/hikers/outdoors enthusiasts: I’m sure you’re aware of Mount Rainier National Park. A roughly two hour-three drive from Seattle, the park offers many hikes of different durations and difficulties. Mark and I drove out to the northwestern section of the park for a two hour hike which started at Mowich Lake– an unbelievably crystal clear and majestic sight!


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