Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Training Update: Amp Up the Mileage!

It's finally that time, folks. With my next race over a month away, there's no better time to start shooting for higher mileage in my training and focusing on preparing myself for Hartford (less than 6 months from now! O_O).

This week I've knocked down 6.5 and 8.5 mile runs, and after a day or two of rest & stretching, I'm hoping to get into the double digits. So far, I know I can run 13.1 miles. A half marathon is the longest distance I've ever run at one time. By the end of May, I'm hoping to push myself into the 15-16 mile range. The overall goal is to get into the low-20's by the end of the summer.

Physically, I know I can complete a marathon. It's the mental aspect of running 26 miles that I need to work on. When I'm out on my longer runs, I get extremely bored and keep glancing at my watch, wondering when it will be over. I never really get this boredom when I'm actually racing, but when I'm training alone, I can not wait for the hours of running to just be over so I can be around people I can talk to.

Lucky for us, Louie and I don't live too far from each other, and we're both equally intimidated by taking on long runs on our own. Our big plan for the months leading up to Hartford is taking on the same long run every week TOGETHER, so we both have someone to motivate us and get us past those mental blocks that make long distance running so difficult! (With, of course, and amazing post-run meal.)

We'll be sure to update everyone on how our longer runs go as we get closer and closer to 26.2! :)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston Marathon Bombings

Hey everyone. Just wanted to make a quick post regarding yesterday's tragic events.

First and foremost, Louie and I are both safe and healthy. Louie was safe at work a few miles from the race. I was at the marathon, but 9 miles from the finish line. It's chilling to think that some of the runners I was cheering on were right next to the blasts a couple hours later...

We  both went to college right on the Boston Marathon route, and Marathon Monday has been a special day to us for quite some time. It's a Lasell tradition to cheer on the runners as they pass us at mile 17, and it's really a day of school spirit and city spirit. Everyone wants to be at Lasell on Marathon Monday, enjoying the atmosphere of Boston pride.

It's really heartbreaking to see someone ruin such a happy event that celebrates our city and the people that work so hard to reach their goal of running such a historic and prestigious race. Competing in the Boston Marathon is the crowned jewel in any distance runner's career, and the fact that someone had to turn these athletes' opportunity to shine into their own opportunity to hurt people makes me sick to my stomach.

I'm currently wearing a race t-shirt in honor of those who were killed, injured, and otherwise affected by this cowardly attack, and will probably wear one every day this week. To show the running world your support, feel free to do the same. Runners are tough, physically and mentally, and we aren't going to let some lame terrorists take our sport or our city away from us.

If you'd like to read about yesterday's events from my point of view, you can check out the post over on my personal blog.

Stay safe. Stay strong. #RunforBoston

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Race Review: Great Bay Half Marathon 2013

Nick (#290), Louie (#876), me (#291), and my mom (#1267)
On Sunday, Louie, our friend Nick, and I all ran the 7th Annual Great Bay Half Marathon in Newmarket, NH. This event was sponsored by Exeter Hospital, and was run at the same time as the beyond the Rainbow 5K, which my mom ran!

Pre-race was a bit hectic. Packet pick-up was at Newmarket High School, and most of the participants kind of hung out in the gymnasium before heading up to Newmarket Elementary School, where the starting line was. There weren't many bathrooms available, so if you needed to use the bathroom, you had to risk missing the start of the race due to the giant lines. Shortly after we started running, we ran by a few stragglers that were still waiting in line.

The 5K and Half Marathon runners all started at the same time, which was awesome because I got to start the race with my mom! The course split after 2.5 miles - 5Kers heading back towards the city, and the Half Marathoners headed into the woods of NH. The half marathon course was beautiful, taking you past streams and great views of the water front. There were lots of supporters hanging outside of their houses, partying, playing banjos on top of their cars while hula hooping (talent!), belly dancing, and giving out pretzels and Twizzlers to the runners. (I'll admit, I took a Twizzler. It was awesome after 8 miles!) It was a great change of pace from Hyannis, which (due to the pouring rain) was pretty desolate.

One of the biggest challenges of this course was how hilly it was. If you aren't used to running on hills, this course will definitely be a challenge for you, because there are some monsters along the way! Luckily, being from New Hampshire, conquering hills during long runs is something I'm no stranger to, but I don't think I can say the same for Massachusetts natives Nick and Louie.

Even though this course is challenging, it's definitely manageable for beginner half marathoners. Louie and I both PR-ed by a considerable amount, and Nick, who was running his first half, reached his goal of finishing under 2:45. Don't let the hills scare you off - if we all finished, so can you!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Spotlight: Charity Miles Running App

So, recently I was told about a great App, by my friend Brianna Strunk, for anyone who walks, runs or bikes.  It's called Charity Miles. The premise of the App is that due to it's initial corporate backing they have $1,000,000 do donate to charity.

The way it works is 25 cents is donated for every mile you walk or run and 10 cents is donated for every mile that you bike. These may not seem like a lot of money, but every little bit counts.

The app itself keeps track of the time and distance of each run as well as the amount of money you raised by being active. For example, my first run was 3.142 miles and it raised 79 cents so you do not have to complete full miles as it will credit even portions of a mile.  It does require you to log into the app. You can create an account with Charity Miles or log-in using Facebook or Twitter. Also, you are allowed to post to social media to help get more people involved in the causes and generate awareness for the charity you are running for.

The app has a wide range of Charity options as well from the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society to the Wounded Warrior project. There is a cause that anyone can support. My cause of choice has been Stand Up to Cancer.

As far as the tracking of time and distance is concerned, you may want to run a second tracking app such as Endomondo or MapMyRun along with Charity Miles if you are interested in tracking your splits, calories burned and other statistics as it does not get into that much detail for it's tracking. Running the second tracking app does not interfere with the using a second one.

I highly recommend this app to anyone. It's a great way to generate funds for great causes by simply doing what you already do! Please give this app a try and leave feedback on it in the comment section.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Pre-Race Survival Guide

I'm running my second half marathon this weekend with Louie and our good friend Nick (it will be Nick's first!) and I'm well into my pre-race rituals. I've been thinking this week how important the week before your race actually is. Though I've been training for weeks, this last 7 day period before pinning on my number, lacing up my shoes, and running 13.1 miles with my 3,000 new best friends, is probably more important than all of those miles I've logged getting ready for the big race. So, today I wanted to share with you a little Survival Guide to the week before your race!


"Taper" is a fancy term runners use that basically means slow down and give your body a rest. The week (or in some cases 2 weeks, depending on how long your race is) before a big race is the time to let your body recover a bit from the long miles you've been putting down day after day during your training. It is still important to continue to run so you don't fall completely fall out of shape, but make sure you're running shorter distances at slower paces. In doing this, you're saving your body from stress so it is in top condition to race.

Rule #2: Water, water, and more water.

Water is your best friend the week leading up to your race. Try to drink one or two Nalgene-esque bottles of water a day. Choose water over other drinks with your meals. Water when you wake up. Water when you go to sleep. Water when you're thirsty. Water when you're not. Drink so much that it annoys you how often you have to run to the bathroom with a full bladder. (That means you're doing it right!) Although it may be refreshing in your dry mouth, the water that you drink during your race does not actually hydrate you, so it's important that you start chugging your H2O during the days leading up to your race.

Rule #3: Ssssttttrrrrreeeeeetttttcccchhhhh

The same idea of drinking water applies to stretching. Do some simple stretches at your desk at work. Instead of plopping yourself on the couch, take 20-30 minutes to get a good stretch in while your catching up on your favorite reality TV show. Stretch in the shower while your muscles are warm and loose. The more your stretch in the days leading up to the race, the better your body's going to feel during it.

Rule #4: Stalk the Weather

I'm a bit obsessive when it comes to checking the weather for big events, but with a race it's a little bit more important. Since you'll be outside for an extended period of time, you need to know exactly how you'll need to dress in order to be comfortable throughout your run. Temperature wise, dress as if it's 15 degrees warmer than it is. If it's raining, dress with lighter, less absorbent materials, so you aren't running with extra weight absorbed into your clothes. Dressing right can make a huge difference in how you run your race!

Rule #5: Pick out your race day attire!

This is my personal favorite part. You want to pick out clothes you'll feel running in, and if you have people coming to cheer you on, something they can spot you in out of the thousands of other competitors. I prefer bright colors!

Rule #6: Lay everything out the night before.

This way you can make sure that you have everything you need for race day and you'll cut down your chance of forgetting anything early on race day morning when you're groggy and trying to mentally prepare for the race. I like to have my race outfit layed out (everything from my number to my socks), and put all of the extras (change of clothes, foam roller, snacks, water bottle, headphones, etc) into a bag that I can just grab in the morning.

Rule #7: Visualize

Think about your goals throughout the week and how you plan to accomplish them throughout the race. Positive thinking is one of the most powerful techniques in sports (and life) for success. Tell yourself that you can accomplish the goals you set out to reach, and if you put the work in during your training, you will reach them!

Rule #8: Relax!!!

At this point, you've trained all you can, and there's no use stressing over it if you think you didn't do enough. Have confidence that you've set yourself up for success and that you'll do the best you can come race day. Once the race is over, you can evaluate what you did right, what you did wrong, and how you can adjust your training to have a better race next time. But for now, enjoy the race and the events surrounding it, take in the atmosphere, and have a great time!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Welcome Back Beautiful Weather!

Now that the weather is getting nicer, I wanted to take some time to just quickly write about how weather influences my running. Last Tuesday I set out to do an easy 4 mile run. This served two purposes. The first was to get in a few miles in preparation for The Great Bay Half Marathon. The second was the try and break in my new shoes.

What started out as a 4 mile run ended up being a 9 mile run. This is where the weather comes in. This was the first time in quite a while the weather was so great for running after I got out of work. Once I started running I just wanted to keep going. It was so nice to be free of the treadmill.

I have already run a few races outside this year, but running a race and running to train are completely different for me.  When I am racing, I try to improve my Personal Records. When I'm running as part of training, I tend to take in my surroundings more. I go at a lighter pace and focus more on just getting the distance in than on running faster.

Tuesday was the first time in a long time, I remembered why I love running so much. It may sound lame or corny, but as I was running I did not have care in the world. It was all about running. It was me vs. the road. I think 9 miles was great for a random run, unfortunately the road always wins though. A person can only run for so long but the road continues.

Happy Race Season!!