Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I'm in!

113th Boston Marathon
(Most recently published application: 11/04/2008)

Your search returned 1 athlete(s).
Bib Name Age M/F City State Country Ctz *

Bank, Erin M. 27 F New York NY USA

Friday, October 24, 2008

Looking Ahead

I find myself in uncharted waters. I am anticipating a spring marathon (Boston), which I've never done at all, let alone following a fall marathon training plan. I need to keep my eye on the calendar to make sure I'm getting back to mileage in a reasonable fashion without overdoing it, so that I can focus building my base for a couple months before starting a training plan for Boston. And, I find myself in the realm of having a goal time and expectations far faster and better than I would have thought. In '05 I was thrilled to break 4:30. Now, the possibility of running an hour faster than that is on the horizon. An HOUR faster?? Where did this come from?

I'm excited for the potential to be better and overwhelmed with what I need to learn and overcome in order to do so. Now that the BQ race is in the past, I can critically analyze my race to know I could do better on the same training. But it's because I've learned lessons you can only learn from experience. Trusting my training. Being brave enough to go for the optimistic goal and strong enough to handle it if I fall apart. I think having a BQ - that which is the holy grail of running - in the bag, I can now focus on my long-term running life. That is, one marathon need not be the end-all of my training. That one marathon is but a piece of a year - or years - of training, and that there will always be another race. I think the fear of not qualifying perhaps slowed me down. From now on, I want to work on pushing myself and not being afraid to get out of my comfort zone for the potential to do something greater. 3:20s here I come.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Race Report

Hamptons Marathon, September 27th 2008, 8:00am
Finishers: 292, Males - 159 , Females - 133
Race Time OverAll
Sex Place
Div Place
DIV Net Time City, State, Country AG Time* BQ*
Hamptons Marathon
3:37:07 32 10 / 2 F25-29 3:36:53 NEW YORK, NY, USA 3:36:53 BQ

From my weather.com stalking the week preceding the marathon, I knew there was no hope for sunny skies or even dry weather. Looking out the hotel door after the 5:30am alarm, it wasn't raining but sure enough, the clouds looked heavy. I had 2 pieces of toast with peanut butter, a banana and a cup of coffee while getting dressed. R was also putting on his running clothes so he could run while waiting to catch me at his planned locations. We were in the car for the 30 minute drive to the start at 6:30. We parked a short walk away from the start and followed the rest of the runners to the staging area. It was certainly a difference from my past marathons - people milled about with their fans and dogs, coming in and out of the school gymnasium and the corral area was tiny! I had to find pins for my number, then R and I walked over to check out the starting line. We met a local man who outlined the course for me in great detail. By now, the rain had started coming down steadily; luckily we found a tent to stay dry (and BodyGlide up).

About 20 minutes before the gun, R started walking to his vantage point about a half mile from the corral. Here, he could see me right away, then again at 22 miles and 25 miles. I stopped sipping water, lost the long-sleeved shirt, and ventured out into the rain. By now the crowd was growing and I noticed pacers had come out; I joined the group huddling around the 3:40 pacer in hopes of using him for the first few miles to prevent myself from going out too fast. For a small group - 300 marathoners and ~1000 half-marathoners - the excitement was strong and people were smiling despite the rainy start.

The first few miles were rolling hills and my legs felt creaky and my hamstrings were a bit tight. I kept playing around with my stride to get into my rhythm and my splits were pretty much all over the place (1-8:47.49; 2-8:27.79; 3-7:54.86; 4-8:10.68). By mile 5 I finally got into a rhythm and could hold a good pace without really thinking about it. The water-logged t-shirt got ditched at a water stop and the half course split from the full course, causing the slight crowd to dwindle into a trickle of people. I took a Gu at the 7-mile mark; I had been alternating water and Gatorade at the stops (something I continued to do until mile 24). At mile 9, the course came out of the woods and wound through more agricultural areas and sand dunes as we looped around a narrow piece of land between the ocean and the harbor. Here, the rain was light but steady and there was a bit more wind since it was pretty unprotected. By now I was well ahead of the pacing group, but I could still hear the pacer yelling out encouragement now and then and thanking all the volunteers. I passed the half mark right below 1:50 - right on target pace - and took another Gu at Mile 14. (5-8:24.27; 6-8:26.35; 7-8:25.13; 8-8:22.41; 9-8:28.37; 10-8:24.92; 11-8:21.75; 12-8:20.20; 13-8:23.59; 14-8:21.33; 15-8:16.25).

At mile 15 I reassessed how I was feeling. My pace felt effortless, my breathing wasn't too labored, and my legs had continued to feel strong. The past 11 miles had been just what I wanted and I was still enjoying a runner's high. I wanted to keep this going as long as possible! At mile 17 I inwardly celebrated the entrance into single-digit-to-go territory and began comparing my distance remaining with runs I did throughout training almost weekly. They were handing out Gus at Mile 17; I took one but held onto it until Mile 19. (16-8:17.98; 17-8:33.66; 18-8:27.75; 19-8:33.83). Around mile 17 I also noticed I was steadily passing people - the few there were as by this point we were all very spread out.

At the 20-mile mark - 10K to go! - I reassessed again. And to my surprise I felt... great! My legs were tightening up but there was no hint of a wall yet. And I was still passing people. At this point we were back in the woods, on back country roads, which was slightly disconcerting as you could not see anyone and the tired brain would wonder if it missed a turn. As my legs were getting tired, I once again played with my stride a bit and used the rolling hills to my advantage to use different muscles. I was shocked to look at my watch at the 21 mile mark to see a 7:52. I had a momentary thought of slowing down back to pace, but then I thought, if I feel this great at a faster pace, why not just go with it - the last 5 miles are going to hurt, anyway. (20-8:21.16; 21-7:52.56)

At this point, the countdown really began and the mental tricks to get me through each mile started. Mile 21 - 5 miles, that's about the Reservoir loop that I've run so many times during my taper. At Mile 22 I'll see R and then it's just 4 miles which is the shortest loop in my repertoire. The torrential rain at this point feels good, nevermind the 5 extra pounds of water I'm carrying in my shoes.

Mile 24 - I've done 2 miles since I saw R, just do that again. Water won't help much now so run through the water stops. Mile 25 - one mile to go, I can deal with anything for one mile. R is still at the intersection cheering; he snaps a picture and runs along with me for about a half mile, yelling encouragement. Around the corner I can see the finish line. R peels off to the sidelines to let me cross the finish line with my arms up; the clock reads 3:37 and I've BQed! (22-7:45.62; 23-7:53.59; 24-7:53.35; 25-8:01.38; 26-7:53.70; 0.2-1:42.97) I hear my name over the loudspeakers as rounding out the top 10 women.

R is there to prop me up as I remove my chip and shuffle away from the finish. We walk around, grinning at each other, I think R is more excited than me (or has more energy to show it) and then head to the car to change into dry clothes. There is food and drink and dry stretching space in the gymnasium.

I was so impressed with the organization, volunteers, and small but enthusiastic crowds at this race. The only drawback would be if you don't like running without crowds and entertainment - but if you can deal with being alone and not needing the crowds for motivation, then it's a nonissue. For this race and what I wanted to accomplish, it was actually a benefit - I was able to concentrate on MY race and not get sucked into anything other runners were doing. Thanks, Hamptons!

**This just in: Brightroom Photos!**

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Fast Finish

Today I was slated for a 14-miler (it's a mileage cutback week) and decided to do what McMillan describes as a "Fast Finish Long Run." Basically, you start out at regular LR pace and increase to MP during the last 6-10 miles, finishing at 10K pace or greater. I came to this decision about an hour before I was going to head out, as I had been perusing his website for another reason and came across this workout. I was going to give myself a little bit of a break if I didn't hit pace because of yesterday's 8 miler, which I had done in a clippy 8:12 pace.

I headed to Central Park just before 9 - the temps were staying abnormally cool (high 60s) so I could be a little lazy with my start time. I did the first 7.1 miles in 1:08:50 - right on my LR pace at 9:37. I then picked up the pace for a loop around the park. Since I was going backwards around the loop and starting from a weird place, I didn't have a very exact idea of where the mile markers were, but I estimated to the best of my ability to start at around 8:30 and increase from there. By the 5th mile of this loop, I knew I was flying and was probably around 7:30. Total time for this 6 miles: 48:14, well below my marathon goal pace! Tack on another 1.1 "easy" (an 8:03 pace now seemed easy) for a killer workout.

McMillan states that if I'm able to do this "fast finish" portion at MP, I can have a pretty good idea I'll be able to hold it for a marathon. Granted, this was a pretty short fast finish run, but this puts me in a good place. It looks like I can put two more of these workouts in my schedule, and I'll be able to increase the lengths of them to see if this holds true for 8 and 10 miles as well. But for today, I'm happy.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Today's run was just great. It was the first time in a long time when the impending tempo run on the schedule was an excitement rather than a threat. I have said before that tempo runs always make me unduly nervous because I know they are never as bad as they seem. Well today was even better than that. I jogged about 1.5 miles to warm up, and I was a bit nervous because my inner thighs were a bit sore from yesterday's weights. But as soon as I picked up the pace, my stride just felt "on" and the first mile passed by quickly - and I actually had to rein it in a bit as I started at about 7:30 pace and didn't want to overdo it. It was the first run in a long time where I actually felt like I was focusing on speed - all the runs in Israel were challenging enough with hills and heat that I never felt like I was pushing the pace. Don't get me wrong, they were all great workouts, but there's something great about just feeling like I'm flying on the road.

My not-fresh legs were definitely the limiting factor, because my heart rate and my breathing weren't strained at all by the end. My legs were glad to be done after 5 miles, and looking forward my next tempo run won't follow a lifting day, so I hope I feel even better next week!

8.3 miles in 1:07:21 - 1.3 in 11:09, 5 in 38:28, 2 in 17:45

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ani ratza.

I have returned to Manhattan from the land of milk and honey... or should I say, the land of sun and hills. This being my second trip to Israel, at least the terrain and weather wasn't a surprise.

The trip was, in a word, amazing and on top of everything I was able to get a lot of good runs in. There was a tie for my favorite run of the trip:

Har Eitan (Mt. Eitan) is a park just a few minutes' drive from home and a favorite run of R's. There is a difficult 8 km trail loop, which I ended up doing in various repetitions and directions to get in the majority of my miles. I arrived on Friday, and Saturday morning R and I ran this loop together (plus an extra 4 km for me). The reason this one was my favorite? Because I was running with R :)

The Sunday before I left, R had to go to work for a half day, and I had a 12-miler on the schedule. The only trails I knew about from home was a 4-miler and a 6-miler. I decided to venture onto paths unexplored. With the help of R and a trail map completely in Hebrew (ha), I found myself on trails with views of vineyards and vistas. I also met these guys along the way:

wild cat!

Gray fox!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Attention all male runners

It is not impressive nor does it make your dick bigger to speed up when I'm about to pass you, maintain that speed for about 2 minutes before dying and slowing down, allowing me to be able to catch you again and repeat the process. It is especially creepy when you audibly coax yourself - yes I have ear buds in but I'm not deaf to your breathless chants, especially when I am the main character. We are not in a race. You'll notice I am breathing comfortably at my 8:10 min/mile pace while you gasp for every breath. If we were in a race, I'd be about 45 seconds faster and so far out of your league you could only dream of using me as your pacer.

*Rolls eyes*

9.1 miles in 1:13:42 (8:06 min/mile)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

I'm confused.

Well, I don't know what happened today, but I ended up running my long run way too fast. I felt great, and it didn't completely kill me (well, maybe I should wait until tomorrow to say that), but I am still perplexed. I even added on about a mile at the end, after looking at my watch and thinking there was no way I'd be close to 17, I must have turned around too early, better run until I hit 2:30.

The first few miles I definitely felt sluggish, and I know I was just under a 10-minute-mile through mile 4. I then left the park for the west side, where I'm not as familiar with mile markers to keep track of myself. I had to guess where my turn around point was because there were no street signs marking 170th St. nearby. Turns out, after having mapped it, it was almost exactly 8.5 miles. I hit that split in 1:24, and the split on the way home (including the extra mile) was 1:04. I knew I had felt better and was concentrating on keeping a relaxed stride in a concerted to pick up the pace a little bit to get to the low 9s, but this was ridiculous. I stared at the online map I made, thinking there must be some mistake, but it would be impossible for me to have accidentally added an entire mile someplace!

Next week is a recovery week, so I will take it easy. At least there is no workout scheduled for Tuesday because I'd be afraid this run would kill it. I'm not entirely sure how I could have prevented this, other than running somewhere where I can keep better track of my splits. I felt the same as on my other long runs, but was just a minute faster? That difference seems so drastic.

You know, now that this is in writing, I realize this has to be a mistake. There's no way I could have run the second 9 miles in 1:04. That would be, like, racing. I must have stopped my watch at some point and not noticed. I'm trying to remember when I stopped my watch for traffic lights or something to think if there'd be something about 10-20 minutes apart. That makes so much more sense.

Well, shit, now I have no idea how fast I ran that run. Bah. I'm going to say 2:42, because that puts me at 9 min/mile, and that would feel about right, I think. But, who knows.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


I'm here! I'm alive! I guess when things are just chugging along I don't think about doing a recap after every run. That, and I'm kind of in all-systems-go mode with my focus entirely on finishing my lab work to be able to write my thesis. I'm working on transitioning from "lab work with writing on the side" to "writing with lab work on the side." I'm learning this really means "write in addition to the same amount of lab work. Oh, and look for jobs and arrange interviews for your next trip to Israel. Oh, and make sure you start taking care of things that need to be arranged ahead of time, like making sure that cat of yours is going to be allowed into the country and that you'll be able to drive once you get there with some sort of license. Oh, and you still can't have a conversation in Hebrew (Hi, how are you does not count as a conversation). Oh, and this long-distance stuff isn't really getting any easier, is it?"

Yeah, hellooooo stress. It's a wonder how marathon training on top of everything else going on isn't too much. However, knowing myself as I do and how much running helps me relieve stress instead of adding to it, I had a feeling this was going to happen when I signed on for this marathon. I know how good it is for me to log the miles, and how easy it is for me to get caught up in my stress and let running slide, if I don't have a plan and a training program and motivation to get out there. That, and the exercise certainly helps me sleep at night, if nothing else will. And there is certainly something to be said for the chance to clear my head and be alone with my thoughts for an hour of the day.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Holy heat wave, Batman.

Ahhh summer in the city. It's amazing how the asphalt, concrete and steel bump up the temperature about 10*. It's oppressive. Don't get me wrong, I love the heat, there's just something about NYC heat that seems so... unnatural and uncomfortable.

The heat wave started on Saturday, just in time for our annual tradition of camping out at the Belmont Stakes all day. What a great recipe for a long-run prep: bloody Marys, pasta salad, brownies, and horse racing in 90* heat.

My 13-miler on Sunday morning was not actually as bad as Saturday's activities would suggest. I woke up early to beat the heat, although not early enough to think running in Central Park would be a good idea. It was the day of the Puerto Rican parade, and it is notoriously wild. Even at 7am I wasn't going to put myself anywhere near 5th Avenue, so I headed down the East River. I was a little nervous because there is only a couple miles of tree cover on this route, but since I had gotten out the door early, the sun was actually low enough that the FDR overpass provided shelter almost the entire way. Between that and the natural air conditioning provided by the wind coming off the water, my water-soaked towel and hat, and plenty of water stops to refill my water bottle, I didn't actually melt. I've felt the heat a lot worse on other runs.

This morning I was slated for a LT run - 8 miles with 4 miles at LT pace - but I decided to throw in the LT miles into my 10-miler on Thursday, after the heat breaks. It was in the mid-80s already by 6:30, so there was really no chance of beating the heat today. I did a comfortable 8:30-ish pace instead.

Monday, June 2, 2008

In other news...

... I booked a flight to Israel for 10 days in July to visit R. Hopefully by then I'll be in a place to write my thesis and meet with potential lab homes while I'm there. But, above all, it's a vacation and NOT a working trip, and I'm thrilled to be able to see R. before he comes to NY in September!

Stay tuned for the schedule-juggling that will ensue. The trip falls smack dab in the middle of my peak mileage. The 20-miler scheduled for the 20th miiiiight be pushed back a couple days. That should be fun on jet lag - I'll probably end up doing it at 4:00 am when I'm still on Israel time and can't sleep. I'll figure it out!


When I left the apartment for my 12-miler yesterday, I knew it was 68*, sunny, and breezy. I don't know what weather.com's definition of 68* is, because it felt so much hotter than that. I don't know what it was, maybe the intensity of the sun or something, but man did the heat get to me! And because I was "only" doing 12 miles and it was "only" 68* and I was running along a path with drinking fountains, I left the fuel belt at home. I should have brought it, because the last few miles (coincidentally, a stretch sans eau), I was sluggish. And I was salt-encrusted - even my watch had a white crust. If I were a red snapper, I'd have been delicious. This run officially kicks off the must-set-alarm-for-6-on-Sunday-to-avoid-heat phase of summer marathon training! 12.3 miles in 1:52:32 (9:08 min/mile).

Thursday, May 29, 2008

SO back!

Not much time to write today, but I had to mention this morning's run, as it was fantastic! I went out at a comfy pace, was tired by the end but not dead, and my pace ended up being faster than I thought, and nothing hurt! Plus, I had on a new pair of Gel Nimbus 9s, a new pair of Wright socks, the weather was great (sunny, high 50s, not windy)... ahhhh. 9.1 miles in 1:15:11 (8:17 min/mile)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Back at it.

After almost a week sans running and diligent rolling and icing (with some Aleving a few times), I'm feeling about 90% perfect. I still feel a slight tightness in my hip, but the aching is certainly no more. It will still take me being careful with the ice and the foam roller, but at least now I don't feel the ache just walking around.

I had my first run back yesterday - an easy 6 miles. It was slow, but pain- and twinge-free.

I also figured out that I'm 18 weeks out - so I'm just starting back in with the 18/55 schedule. This allows me to drop mileage for a few weeks to ease back in. Perfect!

6.3 miles in 56:53 (8:55 min/mile)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Curses, ITB!

I am having a little flare-up in my IT band and my hip hurts. I have been rolling and doing a lot of self-massage the past few days - and not running :( I can feel the tight ligament when I massage, it's awful. Right now I'm at the point of major discomfort, and not so much pain, but I am using my parents' visit as a self-prescribed rest period before it turns into something really bad.

This sucks! But I'm still 18 weeks out. I think I'll be ok.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I am trying to keep myself awake to take my midnight time point. Yes, I have to go to lab for about 10 minutes at midnight to drug my parasites. Fun stuff.

Running since last week has been good. Nothing too unusual to report. Despite myself, my pace during my recovery week last week did not at all resemble recovery pace. Oops. I think it's hard to go slow when I'm still at mileage (both daily and weekly) I can do without much effort. I'm sure as the mileage increases, my body will be more than happy to slow down during recovery efforts.

Today's workout was a 4 miles tempo run (9 miles total). For some reason, LT runs always make me nervous. I think I anticipate the LT portion to be like running a race and be killed at the end. I think about the pace I need to run and always get a knot in my stomach thinking it's too fast. After how many tempo runs? Today was no exception - and as I finished my 2 mile warm up, my stomach turned as I picked up the pace. But then, as I hit the end of the first mile at almost exactly 7:30 and realized I wasn't really going to die, I fell into the pace and really enjoyed it. This happens EVERY TIME I do a tempo run. You'd think, one day, I'd realize they are nothing about which to be nervous, but are actually a great way to feel fast and get a great workout. 9.1 miles in 1:13:59 (miles 2-6 in 29:58 - 7:30 pace) - 8:08 overall pace

The remainder of the week is a little mixed up. My parents are coming into town on Thursday and are staying with me. While I'm lucky they're 150% supportive of my running, something tells me their idea of fun in NYC is not accompanying me on my 15 miler. So, I am moving it to Thursday morning, and filling the time they are here with shorter runs.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Fun with maps

OK, I promise not to do this for every run (although admit it, it's kind of fun), but here's the loop I ran this morning:

I hit the road around 6:15 this morning, as I needed to hustle into lab by as close to 8 as I could manage (which turned out to be 8:15). It's nice having the entire run done by the time the park is opened to auto traffic. I felt great, and had to rein myself in a bit, remembering this is a recovery week and I don't want to stress myself out too much on top of getting in the miles. I did about 8 strides at the end (I say about because I always lose track around 4 - how do people count these? Or am I just missing that synapse?) and they felt the best they ever have. So, a great way to start my full day! 7.3 miles - including 8 x 100m strides - in 59:11 (8:07 min/mile)

Monday, May 12, 2008

After Thursday's less-than-stellar 9 miles, I was hoping to redeem my running self this past weekend. I've been keeping an extra eye on my IT bands and hamstrings all week - they have been TIGHT and I'm afraid I'm using my foam roller so much I'll soon wear right through it and need another one. I haven't had any flare-ups of pain, but they feel quite constricted.

That in the back of my mind, I was diligent about my rest day on Friday. I realized I had penciled in a 2 mile recovery run, but I thought it would be better for me to erase that. Instead, I headed to my favorite yoga class. The Friday evening class at my gym is taught by this great, dynamic, sarcastic, tough woman. Instead of focusing on flow, she focuses a lot on holding poses and moving quite slowly. For me, this is perfect and gives me the best of all worlds: it's challenging while being non-impact and inwardly soothing, it lets me work on both my strength and my flexibility, and I always come out feeling refreshed. One of the great things about the instructor is that she takes requests at the beginning of class, and really lets the class lead itself so no two classes are alike. Given my current state of leg affairs, I mentioned I'd love to do some hip opening poses and hamstring stretches. Well, I walked out of class feeling like I had a new pair of legs. It is like she had sat down with me and listened to my complaints for an hour before tailoring a class exactly to my needs. I loosened things I didn't know needed loosening. We even rolled side to side on yoga blocks to loosen the ol' ITB - and I didn't even have to ask (but I think the giddy look on my face when she suggested it said it all!)

Since this is a "running" blog I guess I'll also mention my weekend runs. Saturday was an easy 5.5 miles in the park. The weather was great, and my only complaint is that I should have gone earlier to avoid the tourists around the reservoir in the park. I must admit I took advantage of some of the huge puddles left by Friday's rainstorm by splashing in them extra hard every time a group of people forced me to run through one in the hopes maybe they'd get splashed. Yes, I'm a bit of a territorial bitch. But my god, people, it's water, not sulfuric acid. A little on the soles of your shoes will not do you irreparable damage. 5.5 miles in 47:22 (8:34 min/mile)

I went to bed on Saturday night excited for Sunday's long run. I was inspired by several sources to explore the Upper-upper west side of Manhattan. I've done countless runs in which I head west, but always have turned south along the Hudson River, through Battery Park, to catch the path along the East River back home. But for my 14-miler yesterday, I decided to run north through Central Park (I don't know how long the "but the Great Hill will be good training for a course with a hill at the beginning and at the end" will last cuz damn that was hard coming back home...), continue west to Riverside Drive, and head north. Oh, was this ever a great idea! Riverside Park to 122nd Street is gorgeous; the fact that it was Mothers' Day and families were out enjoying the perfect weather made it even better. I cut out of the park near Grant's Tomb, which I had never seen except to glimpse its stacked pyramid in the distance. I ran along Riverside Drive until about 140th Street, at which point I knew I needed to turn around. And it was a struggle turning around, seeing the promise of the George Washington Bridge in the distance, beckoning me with its amazing views. The only thing that made me turn around was the fact that on my future long runs, I'll always have a bit of uncharted territory as I venture further. Eventually I'll make it to the bridge, and across to Jersey perhaps.

That's why we run, isn't it - to get a taste of something we've never felt on each run. It can be tangible, like seeing things we've never seen or going somewhere new. But of course it's the intangible, too. Finding a part of ourselves we've never seen and letting it lead us, seeing where it will take us.

OK, I've figured out how to be extra-savvy and post the map of my run. Maybe I'll start doing this for all of them! Now y'all are gonna know where I live (I say that as if people read this. Just watch, I'm gonna make it to Digg.com)

14.1 miles in 2:09:55 (9:09 min/mile)

Friday, May 9, 2008

Uff da II

I tried to be creative with a new title, but this is pretty much the only thing that perfectly describes my life right now.

Today is a rest day - with a much-needed yoga class this evening. My run yesterday morning was one of those that was better once it was over. I had a hard time getting out of bed, I had a hard time getting ready, I had a hard time leaving the apartment, I had a hard time not turning around when the drizzle hit me, I had a hard time moving my legs at a faster speed than a crawl, I had a hard time not cutting my run short from my scheduled 9 miles. But, I managed to succeed in all of these things.

I think these hard runs are the runs that really make you think about why you get out on the road. At least, it makes me very introspective about what running means to me and what role it has in my life. Right now, I can definitely say that running is the one constant in my life. I'm at such a tumultuous time in my life right now: finishing up (hopefully) my Ph.D., thinking about a move overseas, not knowing where I'm going to be for certain in a few months - it takes its toll on someone who likes to be in control of every aspect of her life. I've never been in a position of such uncertainty about my future. My last year of high school, I knew where and when I was going to college; my last year of college, it was grad school; now - I know generally where I want to be, but the details are fuzzy.

So it's a comfort to know I'll be running x number of miles this week, y miles next week, and 26.2 miles on September 27th. It's not an obsession so much as a foundation. No matter what happens, I can run. Life can swirl around me, but I am grounded when I run. I feel unsettled, running pulls me back and makes me feel like myself. I have a day where I'm just going through the motions, running makes me feel alive.

T: 8.3 miles in 1:07:58 (8:09 pace)
W: 4 miles in 34:15 (8:37 pace)
R: 9.1 miles in 1:18:57 (8:42 pace)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Uff da

My head is spinning, life is certainly crazy right now. I'm still running, amongst about a zillion other things.

Last week was definitely one of those weeks where I got my runs in but they were always so tightly scheduled with everything else on my plate that they all seemed a blur. I mean, they definitely kept me sane, but none of them gave me much calm.

The week before that was much better - all my runs were at least partly with DBF on his visit :) While I felt great, the best part was definitely having him by my side.

I'm anticipating life calming down a bit after tomorrow - at least enough so I can get back to my daily musings. My goal this week is to cherish each run, not just look at them as something to cross off the to-do list. My to-do list is long enough, thank you very much!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

One down, 23 to go!

My eleven-miler today capped off week one of training. Didn't feel too much different than any other week lately, other than the fact that it came from a book. Pretty uneventful runs yesterday (4 easy) and today (11). I felt good and ready to ramp up again next week.

Next week DBF will be in town - I'll still be running just probably finding other ways to occupy my time than blogging :) We both love this city and have spent so many hours wandering and eating and drinking through its streets. This week we'll hit all our favorite spots and hopefully find some new ones. And, of course, I'll drag him along on my runs this week - we've spent hours running together through Central Park, too.

Saturday: 4.2 in 36:29 (8:39 min/mile)
Sunday: 10.7 in 1:33:53 (8:47 min/mile)

Thursday, April 17, 2008


I am trying not to be eaten by the stress-monster, but oy what a week. It's pretty much my own doing - DBF will be in town next week and I'd obviously much rather spend time traipsing around the city with him than in lab.

Thank goodness I have running otherwise I'd really be going nuts right now!

Yesterday's run was just an easy run to the gym before my shoulder/ab workout. This isn't a prescribed Pfitz run, but I'd like to keep myself at a 5x/week schedule to see if I can't push the 55 mile week peak a little higher. Wednesdays will be all recovery runs, and if I ever feel like I've bit off too much, they'll be an easy place to cut back since they're not actually part of the Plan. Admittedly, today's run was not in true recovery pace - it is my first week after all and am not feeling the training fatigue yet. That, and I was late to meet my trainer so I couldn't force myself to slow down very well... 3.7 miles in 30:26 (8:17 min/mile)

Today was another early-to-lab-in-running-clothes day. I hit the road around 10:30, when the weather was perfect and I felt great on my 8 mile GA run. It's the simple pleasures, really, that I think make running such a release for me: ducking out of lab for an hour to run, enjoying NYC in the spring, the smell of the cherry and pear trees, passing a biker on an uphill, passing more people than vice versa, hitting mile 7 and not knowing where the time has gone... Taking stock of the little things on a run is so important, both for stress relief and motivation. At the end of the day, if you're not running for those little things, I think running could become a source of stress, instead. Obviously I'm competitive and chase numbers myself, but take that away, I know I'd still run. 8.1 miles in 1:01:26 (8:16 min/mile)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Marathon Training Kickoff!

I count today, not yesterday, as my first day of training, as it seems strange to have the first day as a running rest day.

It was definitely one of those mornings where I wished I could have found time in the middle of the day to run, instead. It was hovering around 40* - that awful temp at which I have the most trouble dressing - but the high reached 60* and I so desperately wanted an excuse to enjoy that weather. I finally got on the road because I knew my day was such that a midday run would be impossible, and also because I need to run in the mornings after a leg-lifting day to avoid delayed onset soreness and to be able to stretch well.

It took a while for my legs to get into a rhythm this morning. I felt, for lack of a better word, creaky. Not sore, not tired, but just out of it. I played around with pacing to find where it would be comfortable, as the pace was to be GA and not too fast. As I went on, I congratulated myself for deciding on shorts and a long-sleeved tech tee because it was the perfect choice (for once). My legs did eventually find themselves, but only at the 5 mile mark. The schedule called for 10 strides, but I forgot how many I was supposed to do and only did 7 in the last 1.5 miles of the run - I will survive, I'm sure. Even though I wasn't sore, per se, the foam roller did feel especially good post-run. Sitting here twelve hours later, my legs feel good and I'm certainly glad I got out to run when I did. Once again, I was pleasantly surprised by my "not too fast" pace of 8:14 min/mile!

I consider Day 1 a success! On to Day 2!

7.45 miles in 1:01:26 (8:14 min/mile)

Monday, April 14, 2008

5K on the Runway

Sunday's race was a 5K on one of the runways at JFK airport. It was a fundraiser for the JFK Airport Rotary club. It's always a nice event, there are many groups participating and it's a very warm, inviting bunch of people. It's a small race, around 300 people, both runners and walkers. My goal was not to try for a new PR, but just to hit about 22 minutes. I am not in 5K shape AT all, so hitting 7-minute-miles was just fine with me. That, and I didn't want to start of my marathon training sore and tired.

I was awake before 6 to have my oatmeal and get to the train. I anticipated a long trip because the subway on the weekend is always slow. Sure enough, I found myself waiting forever for trains, readjusting my route due to rerouting, and trying to look around the subway for other runners to see if they wanted to head above ground and share a cab... But I made it. Registration was a zoo, but I finally got my number, chip, t-shirt, and changed into running shorts. The day was chilly but not frigid. We were bussed to the start line at the runway, and it was then the wind became apparent. I did a short warm-up with stretching and some striders and took my place towards the front of the group. There were no instructions to the crowd to line up by pace, except for making sure the sub-20 minute runners were ahead of the gaggle of children all wanting to be "first." I knew I wouldn't run sub-20, but I stuck to the back of this lead group. We had to stand around for a while, about 15-20 minutes, as there were some late-comers and problems with the computer system. By the time we finally started, my legs were cold again and my warm-up had gone to waste.

The course was an out-and-back down the tarmac. I fell into a fast-but-comfy pace the first mile, and I probably hit it in about 7:20 (there was not a marker at Mile 1). I picked up the pace a bit after one mile into the turn-around. Upon turning around, I hit a brick wall in the form of the wind. It was intense and my stride and pace definitely fell because of it. I tried to just keep my legs moving and my effort constant through the 2 mile mark. As I grew accustomed to the constant wind, I was able to fall back into a groove and pick it up a bit. I didn't get a split here. I felt fine, with the only problem being extremely phlegmy and needing to spit about every 10 seconds. This definitely affected my breathing a bit, but I just plowed on. The last mile was time to concentrate on form and cadence to a strong finish.

I came across the line in 22:22 - and whether it's true or not, I'm blaming it on the wind. The post-race was nice, we sat around eating bananas and frozen ice waiting for the awards ceremony. I was the second female finisher behind a woman who ran 21:low. It was a fun morning, despite the wind.

5K in 22:22 (7:12 min/mile)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Etiquette Training

I woke up as if it were a regular weekday as I had a full day in lab ahead of me. I just needed an easy 4 today, and it started off perfectly. The weather was cooperating and not dumping rain, the park was quiet... until I passed him in my second mile. I didn't really see him long enough to determine his age or any specific characteristics. Even though I wasn't pushing my pace at all, I passed him quite handily and did a little mental high-five - it's always an ego boost to pass someone, especially since I could tell by his labored breathing he was working quite a bit harder than me.

Apparently, he decided he didn't like the taste of my dust, because that labored breathing stayed right behind me. Every once in a while he'd get a little farther away, but then he'd try to catch up again. I maintained my pace for a while, but then started testing him. I would slow down a bit, then speed up, but no matter what, this guy was drafting me! I silently cursed the fact that I didn't have my iPod (in fear of rain) because that would at least drown out his breathing. Part of me was thrilled that he wanted to hang with my pace, but I thought it strange he was sticking so close.

I debated saying something, but I couldn't come up with the words. Anything I thought of would have just come off like I was insecure about him keeping up with me. I suppose if it would have been a longer run I would have stopped to "tie my shoe" or something and get him away from me. As it was, I turned out of the park a little less than a mile later and finished the last mile in relative peace.

4 miles in 33:25 (8:25 min/mile)

Friday, April 11, 2008

This morning was a nice and easy 5.5 mile run. I don't typically run on Fridays, but since Sunday will be a 5K race instead of a longer run, I needed to get the extra miles in somewhere. I felt pretty good, and although I'm not sore from yesterday's exertion, I certainly didn't feel fresh. So I ran at a conservative pace to loosen everything up, and I threw about 5 stride outs in the mix the last mile. It was another beautiful morning, and I was in the park early enough so there was no vehicular traffic. I paused my iPod and enjoyed the (relative) quiet for a mile or two. This weather is spoiling me, but since it's April in New York, I know rain is inevitable.

My routine of getting out the door in 30 minutes or less is working, too. It's getting easier to avoid the snooze button when my alarm goes off at 6. Today I was to lab by 8 - when I'm doing long midweek runs it's nice to know I'll be able to get in by 9/9:30. Amazingly, that will actually STILL get me to lab before everyone else!

5.5 miles in 46:25 (8:24 min/mile)

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Days like this are what it's all about. I got to run at my favorite time of day (late morning - I'm awake and fed but don't have the weight of a full day on me) at my favorite time of year (spring in NYC is the best, and today was absolutely perfect) and felt amazing. I knew I was pushing the pace a bit - just because the weather put me in such a good mood - but I certainly did not think I was going sub-8. That made the run even better!

The one downside is that I want to play hooky and spend the rest of the day outside. Spring in NYC is just amazing - there is this incredible energy throughout the city that reverberates through me. Everyone is coming out of their winter doldrums and the city just seems alive. I know I will miss spring in NYC when I move.

7.25 miles in 56:20 (7:46 min/mile)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Feeling Good

When I woke up Tuesday with the sun, I had a hard time gauging how my legs felt. They weren't sore, exactly, and I finally decided maybe they just weren't awake yet.

I woke them up on the mile to Central Park. In the park, I threw in a few segments at a faster pace - nothing killer but just to change things up. Overall my pace felt comfortable and not too strenuous at all - a perfect GA pace. I was actually surprised when I saw my time because it didn't feel like I was running 8:15 minute miles. I love the runs that feel easy but are surprisingly not slow - these are the runs that make me feel like I am improving and getting stronger.

6.3 miles in 52:37 (8:15 min/mile)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Cherry Blossom Race Report

Be warned: I am not one to report mile by mile because, quite frankly, they all sort of blend together and I never remember specifics...

I went to DC Friday night to stay with my friend A for the weekend. Our friend K flew in Friday night as well. It was a great weekend to be able to spend time with the two of them. We awoke Sunday to a cool and rainy day. Thankfully, the race itself stayed pretty dry, with only an occasional mist, and I actually stripped down to a t-shirt and shorts for the majority of the race.

I didn't really have much of a time goal in mind going into Sunday. I hadn't really trained for this race, per se, and didn't have much of a taper to speak of. I felt good when I woke up, and pretty much decided then to try for an average pace of 8 minute miles. My strategy? Run the first mile in whatever time I could, knowing the course would be crowded and it would not be fast. Hold 8 minutes and reassess at the halfway point. Crank it up the last few miles, which seems to happen no matter WHAT my strategy (might as well include it, I guess). This seemed to be a good way to go, because I came in at 1:19:24!

I do have my splits, even if I don't have much of a description of the race itself:

The first few miles was a loop around Haines point, next to the water. The trees were pretty although the roadways were pretty narrow, making the early-race crowds especially thick. The one advantage of the weather was that I didn't need to stop at any of the water stops, so I could cruise on by some of the crowds. I was actually surprised at how many people seemed to stop at all the stops, drinking Gatorade like they'd just come out of the Sahara. I was also a bit confused as to how exactly the race directors set up the corrals, because there seemed to be a lot of people who didn't belong so close to the front. Oh well.

My legs felt ok afterwards, it was just hard because the weather was not conducive to hanging out and stretching a lot - my energy went to staying warm waiting for my friends and finding the driest tree I could. My knees and ankles got a little stiff, I'm guessing from the rain and cold. I stretched a bit on the Metro ride back, but then between being lazy the rest of the afternoon and a 4-hour bus ride back, I was worried this morning when I woke up. I'm surprisingly fine, turns out.

This week I will be cutting back mileage down to 25 miles or so in anticipation of next week, when my 24/55 training plan officially begins! I also have a 5K race on Sunday - we'll see if that is a race or a run. It would probably be smart of me to not kill myself, although knowing me I'll probably want to at least do decently. We'll see how I feel.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Puddle jumping

There are days when the thought of running in the rain makes me jump right back into bed or find the nearest treadmill. For some reason, though, this morning was a delightful exception. Maybe because I have been stalking weather.com all week, willing the raincloud in the forecast to magically turn into a sun, and so the rainy mess I woke up to this morning wasn't a surprise. That, and I think the simple fact that it is spring makes running in the rain seem more romantic somehow.

First of all, this is day 1 of 1 of meeting my out the door in 30 minutes rule. I was out the door at 7am, rain jacket firmly in place. Temperature-wise I couldn't have asked for better: low 40s making my one "real" rain jacket the perfect weight over a t-shirt and a pair of capri length tights. Of course the first few minutes were the toughest because I hadn't reached that critical juncture at which I am mostly wet instead of mostly dry. That line where it's OK to start jumping in the puddles instead of avoiding them because hell, you're wet already, what's a little more water?

Another thing that got me out the door was the prospect of doing my favorite route for the first time in a while. Lately my runs, unless long or on a treadmill, have all been on the same 6.3 mile loop, and I was glad to change things up. This route takes me around the Jackie O Reservoir, meaning I have to be very careful scheduling when I do this loop to avoid the tourists who insist upon walking 5 abreast the wrong direction or the people who ignore the clearly posted "no dogs no strollers no bike" rule. Today was perfect: just me, the sleeping ducks, and the puddles. The drainage system on this cinder path leaves a bit to be desired, and since it had been raining since last night, 75% of the path was covered in an inch of water. There is something viscerally satisfying about each solid splash when my foot lands. Is it a feeling of childhood? Of rebellion? Of connecting with nature?

The one bad thing about having a great rainy day run is that I realize I need to stop being a wimp and do them more often. I would never have the same feeling on a treadmill about a run. I'd feel accomplished, sure, but wouldn't have that feeling that I've conquered something great. Great running stories never happen on treadmills, do they?

5.5 miles in 49:21 (8:56 min/mile)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Cruise Control

Today I woke up earlier than normal and in an ever-so-slight fog caused by an extra glass(es) of wine with dinner. It took a lot of coaxing to get my body out the door this morning, especially since my friend couldn't meet me as planned. But, I was awake without time to run this evening, so I finally convinced my legs to move.

If you can believe it, my calves are still sore from Monday. But the minute I started to run I knew my legs were back to their normal state of energy, and it was finally an effortless run. I actually found myself having to rein my speed in a little bit. I don't want to overdo it so close to Sunday race day. It helped that it was a beautiful morning - one of those early spring days when it's still quite cool but something about the angle of the sun and the feel of the air lets you know it's definitely spring. The park is beginning to bloom - the pear trees, crocuses and daffodils are appearing and shoots of green are peeking through last year's fallen leaves.

During my run I thought of a good goal over the next few weeks. As I increase mileage my midweek runs of course get longer. I would really like to get into the habit of a-waking up earlier and b-more importantly I think, hit the road no more than 30 minutes after my alarm sounds. This gives me time for a cup of coffee and a good morning chat with BF without wasting too much time. Focusing on this now will hopefully make the mornings where it's truly necessary feel easier.

6.3 miles in 54:57 (8:37 min/mile)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Ho Hum

Not much to report on today's run - just an easy 3 miles on the treadmill at the gym. I had to force myself to keep the pace slow because I certainly need another day of no stress on the ol' legs. My muscles are finally shaking out, after lots of stretching yesterday and more today. I'll use the roller before bed tonight and hopefully wake up tomorrow without soreness!

3 miles in 27:25 (9:08 min/mile)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Lead Legs

Well, I knew it. Today's scheduled fartlek turned into a cross between a recovery run and an easy run. My legs could barely pick themselves up, let alone the pace. The only good thing about the run was that I managed to sneak it in between rain storms and I was able to strip of my long sleeved shirt, officially marking it as the first t-shirt-and-shorts run of the year. Too bad it couldn't have actually felt better and hasn't been the slowest I've run that loop in one year. Although, I will say my legs do feel better after the run and a lot of stretching/Sticking/foam rolling.

The rest of this week will be lower intensity as I want to rest my legs for the 10 mile race on Sunday without dropping my mileage too much.

6.3 miles in 57:53 (9:05 min/mile pace)

Monday, March 31, 2008


My trainer killed me today. I may never be able to walk again. And I was thinking that before he had me do a stair running/calf raise combo that added up to a total of 130 calf raises. Yow. So, it's been nice while it lasted ;)

Weekend Recap

Saturday, March 28
I woke up in a bit of a funk and stayed there most of the day. The weekends I don't have a lot of lab work are tough because I spend my free time thinking about how much better free time would be with DBF and then I get lonely. That not-alone-but-lonely feeling is awful and saps my motivation to do much of anything. Finally that afternoon I put my running clothes on and made myself get out there, knowing that even if it didn't completely snap me out of it, it would make me feel better.

Apparently I was trying to out-run the black cloud over my head because I was not slow. And I felt great, physically - my "just relax and go with it" strategy for my pace led me to a new PR for my 6.3-mile loop!

6.3 miles in 52:04 (8:10 min/mile)

Sunday, March 30
Long runs this time of year are tough because when I wake up and it's 20 degrees but with the promise of peaking in the 40's, I really have a hard time not waiting until the weather improves. So, yesterday I reversed my regular routine and did errands right away in the morning, planning on heading out for a 12-miler at about 2. The prospect of wearing shorts, even though I have to run later, is enough motivation for me to take my day slow to be able to run later.

My legs were generally achy as I started my run, thanks to my speedy run yesterday. I had some strange aches in places I normally don't, the most persistent one being on the inside of my left calf. It wasn't pain, but it almost felt like I had a bruise there and the pounding was making it ache. It eventually did subside and never got worse, so I don't think anything is wrong with my leg, per se, but it just wanted to talk. I did have a few miles in the middle of the run (probably about miles 6-9 where I really did feel perfectly in my groove and weightless. This is the longest run I've done since my half marathon in January, actually. And it's the distance at which the long runs in my training plan for the Hamptons marathon will start.

Next Sunday I am running a 10-mile race in D.C. I hope to keep the mileage around the 32-ish mark, despite the race, since I want to cut back next week as it is the week before the start of my training plan.

12.3 miles in 1:50:08 (8:57 min/mile)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Fartlek Thursday

No matter how long I call myself a runner, I'll still briefly giggle at the word fartlek. I guess it's my inner child. But maybe that's ok, because fartlek runs have that sense of childish improvisation about them: run faster to race to the lightpost, slow down up a hill, let your legs carry you wildly down a hill, sprint until your chest burns and heart pounds and you feel alive. It's freeing to let your body do the talking and not think about whether or not you're hitting splits or getting a course PR. I always finish these runs with a sense that I have reminded myself why I love to run.

This morning I had to be up especially early to collect a sample in lab for a time sensitive experiment. The great thing about being a student and a scientist is that there is no dress code (both a blessing and a curse because some people would perhaps do better with a dress code that did not include old t-shirts and ratty jeans, but I digress...). I was able to wear my running clothes to lab, spend some time in lab, and then hit the road around 9am. I was happy with the timing, particularly because I managed to beat the onset of muscle soreness from my training session yesterday (well, almost... my glutes were already screaming when I woke up this morning). My legs felt a bit tired but loosened up after a few faster segments. I did my normal 6-mile loop through the park backwards - this always helps mix things up and changes the scenery on a course I have memorized. When I returned home, I did a lot of stretching, complete with the Stick and the foam roller. Tomorrow is a rest day, unless you count the yoga class I'm hoping to make.

6.3 miles in 52:51 (8:18 min/mile average pace)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Back at it...

My legs have been on the dead side the past few days, so I've gone easy on them. Monday I normally work legs with my trainer, but I requested arms instead. I moved yesterday's mileage to today. I decided to run to the gym before today's training session. The weather is finally feeling like spring is coming, so it was nice to be able to enjoy that in the middle of the day. My session was at 11am so I took off at about 10:20 from lab at a nice, easy, relaxed pace. I usually run to the gym by sticking to the streets, making it about a 3.5 mile trip. I decided to run on the path along the East River, figuring it wouldn't add too much on. Well, I was apparently geographically impaired and forgot how much the island bulges out, taking me pretty far east. So, instead it was closer to 5 miles, making me a few minute late for my session. It also meant I jumped right in, without much time to catch my breath, so my ass was definitely kicked. I suppose that's the reason I pay my trainer.

4.9 miles in 41:43 (8:34 min/mile)

Marathon Fever

Time to dust off the ol' blog because I have just registered for the Hamptons Marathon!

I didn't think I'd be able to do a marathon this year. I anticipate graduating this year and moving overseas, and since I don't know exactly when that's all happening, I resigned myself to forgoing a 2008 marathon. However, the knowledge I'd have time to train, on top of being the most consistent and most in-shape running wise I've ever been has been haunting me. That, and the elusive BQ that wasn't meant to be given the weather conditions at last year's Twin Cities. I guess just the fact that I found this marathon meant I was looking for a marathon meant I wanted to run ;)

The marathon is September 27th, and for a variety of reasons I am 98% sure I will be in New York that weekend no matter what. It seemed like too good of an opportunity to pass up. It doesn't hurt matters that DBF will be in town that weekend (I'm trying to persuade him to sign up for the half...) and I don't have to worry too much about travel arrangements.

I'm planning on following the Pfitz 24/55 training plan, so I'll be starting soon! I've been running 30-40 mpw for a while now, so I should be set to crank it up a few notches. Wish me luck!!!