New Year

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Now, I don’t mean to get all sentimental and mushy. I’m not sure why, but New Years resolutions make me want to gag. Maybe it’s because the normal quiet gym gets packed with people who all of a sudden decide to get in shape. Don’t get me wrong. I think it is super awesome that people want to make a change and get more active. That’s great! But for people who go all the time, the crowd can be a bit overwhelming. HOWEVER, I think it is important for improvement purposes to look back at my training every so often and plan out the next year.

2014 was a pretty big year for me. However, the first half definitely did not go well. My first marathon training cycle was a bit of a disaster. I ended up getting sick with a bad chest cold for the Half Marathon Unplugged and stupidly ran through it. Then I got a stomach bug for my first marathon (Maine Coast). I ended up finishing my first marathon at VCM, but that did not go so well either.

family after VCM 2014

family after VCM 2014

The second half of 2015 went really well, though! I cut nearly 1.5 minutes off my 10k PR in the summer. The fall races I ran at the Downtown 10k and Labor Day 15k were plagued with some pretty horrible weather, but I got some good efforts in. I qualified for Boston at the Baystate Marathon, which is my proudest accomplishment of 2014. I also got a half marathon PR at the Wolf Hollow Half Marathon.

running to my new 10k PR

running to my new 10k PR

Crossing the line at Baystate!

Crossing the line at Baystate!

I ran 2237 miles. That’s about 13.2 straight days I’ve spent running. Sheesh, it sounds weird when I put it that way. I got a marathon PR (well, obviously, since I never ran one before), a half marathon PR, a 10k PR, and a 15k PR (once again, never ran one before). Not too shabby.

The BIGGEST thing for 2014? My immune system finally picked up its game. Hallelujah! I literally have not been sick since May (knock on wood). This probably doesn’t mean much to most people, but this is HUGE for me. All throughout college and high school (maybe earlier but I can’t remember) my sports’ performances have been seriously affected by my weak immune system. It’s not like I would get any really bad sickness, but just constant colds with the occasional stomach bug. Every sports season in high school I would get a cold at least twice, but normally three times during the few months of competition. It was ridiculous. Oftentimes it would fall right around states or another important meet and I would have to suffer through. It’s not like a cold will always stop someone from competing, but the lethargy and difficulty breathing through one’s nose or chest definitely impacts performance in endurance sports. Just look at the first half of 2014 to see how it affected me. A chest cold made for a pretty miserable half marathon and a badly timed stomach bug ruined my first marathon.

I honestly am not sure why my immunity has improved because nothing has seriously changed in my lifestyle. I almost always get enough sleep (~8 hours). My nutrition (although not the best) has not changed much. My allergies have improved slightly so maybe that’s why. Or maybe it’s just luck? Whatever the reason, I’ll take it. Crossing my fingers that my immune system keeps this going in 2015!

I also didn’t have any major injuries. A touch of tendinities in March, and a tweaky groin/hamstring that came and went, but really nothing serious. I’m soooooooooo grateful for that.

All in all, it was a pretty solid year of improvement. I had some really big lows, but I also had some really big highs. I guess that’s running for you. Any sport, really. You are guaranteed to have ups and downs, but it’s just important to learn and get past the bad parts and celebrate and also learn from the good parts.

What’s coming in 2015?

I already told most of you that I’m not planning on running a marathon in 2015. I think I’ll run a couple halves (Unplugged Half Marathon and a relay at VCM) with probably some 10k’s or 5k’s thrown in. After my 10k PR this past summer and decent 5k I ran a few weeks ago I’m interested in seeing what type of damage I can do at those distances. I haven’t nailed down all the races as I’m still waiting for the dates of some of them.

What I’m most excited for, though, is the bike trip my dad and I are planning. I’ll provide some more details soon, but we are planning a big trip from the end of June until the end of August. We are so so excited! My dad has always wanted to do something like this, but has just not gotten around to it. I’m so happy to be coming along for the journey.

my Dad and I on our bike trip last summer

my Dad and I on our bike trip last summer

The aftermath of biking through a rain storm. Our legs were covered in dirt and grease when we got back.

The aftermath of biking through a rain storm. Our legs were covered in dirt and grease when we got back.

However, the bike trip will definitely impact my fall plans. I know that it won’t be possible for me to get quality running training in during this time. When biking 100 miles/day it’s just not feasible for me to also get in a good base. I’m still planning on running some as I don’t want to lose too much running fitness, but it’ll probably just look like ~25 miles/week. I don’t regret this at all, though, because the bike trip is a chance of a lifetime. Who knows the next time my dad and I can coordinate our schedules to do something like this?

I’ll figure out the fall when I get there, but I plan on using it to start getting ready for Boston in 2016. Hopefully I’ll get a spot in the race. If so, I would love to run in the Boston Marathon.

Goals for 2015?

  • PR’s in the half marathon, 10k, and 5k. Those first two I’m confident I can do, but that last distance makes me nervous just because I’ve been away from it for so long. It’d be really nice to get a new 5k PR, though, and would help me gain the confidence that I can still do shorter races.
  • Consistently get in 3-4 20-minute strength workouts each week. Sometimes I get lazy, but I normally get in 2 core/hip workouts each week of about 20 minutes. I know I should do more, but this is probably my least favorite part of running. I know it’s really important for injury prevention and performance, though, and really want to make a change next year.
  • Blog at least once/week. I don’t force myself to write a post when I’m not in the mood. Otherwise it comes out forced and weird. However, if I go too long between posts then it’s hard to make things flow when I get back to it. I think once/week is a good goal.
  • …. Yeah, guess that’s about it for now.

What did your 2014 look like? What’s on your plate for 2015?

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Motivational Monday!

Happy Monday, People! The last Monday of 2014! Here are a few things I thought I’d share with you guys because everyone needs some motivation at times.

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Most of you know that I LOVE the November Project. Although I go to school at UVM I love when I can join a workout in Boston on my breaks. It blows my mind how even in the winter there are HUNDREDS of people that show up to workout in the dark at 6:30 in the morning. Recently the cofounders of the November Project gave a Ted Talk on “How to Start a Movement.” They talk about the secret recipe to starting a movement and their own experiences. The November Project started with only one person showing up to their first workout, but now there are hundreds of us at each workout and November Projects in 16 different cities in North America! That’s powerful! If you’d like to get an idea of their enthusiasm and what they bring then check out their Ted Talk.

This is how dark it is at 6:30. We still show up, though!

This is how dark it is at 6:30. We still show up, though!

Group photo from last Friday

Group photo from last Friday. Oh Christmas tree…

Lastly, here’s an adorable video that I saw last week. It went viral a few years ago and I think I remember it vaguely, but I couldn’t help but smile/laugh when I saw it again. It’s a little boy giving a motivational speech after just learning to ride a bike. You can’t get much cuter than this!

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Happy Monday everyone!

Happy Holidays!

Sam and Rudy say Merry Christmas as well!

Sam and Rudy wish you a Happy Holidays as well!

Merry Christmas to everyone that celebrates it!

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It’s been a bit of a strange one here. I believe it’s my first Christmas without any snow. Sure, some years it’s been a bit scarce, but there was always SOME snow. This year there is nothing. Justine and I were fine with the warm weather on our run, though. It was nice not having to wear double layers or mittens.

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The view from my sister's back porch. Talk about gorgeous.

The view from my sister’s back porch. Talk about gorgeous.

Happy Holidays!

Dog Tales

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It’s no secret that I love my dog. Besides being cute, fluffy, and adorable, he also makes a great running buddy. He has a LOT of energy, which translates into a lot of natural running talent. He has enough energy to help pull me up some of those hills, gets along well with other dogs and people, and is not that interested in wildlife. That last one is surprisingly important when running. Otherwise how would he handle the geese that think they own the Charles?

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A daily occurrence

However, Samson can be a bit of a scaredy cat sometimes. Bikes, strollers, skateboards… Okay, basically anything on wheels makes him nervous. The funniest one, though, is that he is scared of bridges. Not the big ones that cars can go across, but the smaller ones that you can see through to the water below. We first noticed this a few years ago when we took him for a walk across a wooden bridge. He started walking really low to the ground like he was stalking something. It took us a little while to realize that the bridge was the problem. I can kind of understand the confusion. How do you tell a dog that they’re not going to fall through?

Today the weirdest thing happened. I did a new loop that I hadn’t run with Samson before. He was doing great and running along very happily. There’s this one spot right before going under the Longfellow bridge that is grated and you can see through to the water below. I’ve run across it plenty of times and never really thought twice about it. All of a sudden I found myself hurdling/tripping over Samson. He had stopped dead in his tracks and was apparently scared of the grate.

Bar Grating Bridge Decking Rtch

No matter how much I tried to sweet talk and coax him forward he would not budge an inch. Even using treats to try and make him walk across it didn’t help. He was just glued to the ground. I really didn’t want to run the 5 miles back the other way, so I ended up carrying my 70-pound labradoodle across the grate. Luckily, the grated section was only about 15 feet, so it wasn’t that long. However, I’m sure I looked absolutely ridiculous. It’s a good thing no runners were going by, but there were plenty of cars that saw us. I wonder if they thought I was dognapping him or something. Nope, just helping my scaredy dog out.

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The Goofball

Do you like to run with your dog? Is your dog scared of anything? Bridges? What’s the funniest thing your dog has ever done?

VACATION!!!

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I had my last exam last Tuesday and am OFFICIALLY on break! Yay! My break from school also coincides well with my offseason from running. Since my half marathon a few weeks back I’ve been taking things pretty darn easy. In New England, races are basically over and won’t return until the spring, so it’s a perfect time to take a break.

I don’t take my offseason completely off from running, but have a big drop in mileage and do barely any speedwork. I don’t have a schedule and don’t use my GPS watch at all instead choosing to run off of feel. If I’m tired I’ll cut my run short and if I feel great I might run a little longer. Granted, I do know most of the distances of my runs so I’m not running completely blind, but I enjoy not knowing my pace or the exact distance. I’ve been enjoying running with my dog and not feeling any obligation to work out. My toenails have grown back and I’m enjoying the extra time on my hands.

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I love running and I never want my passion to go away from the sport. My first post talked about how my ultimate running goal is to win the 70-80 year old age group – not because I’m necessarily running fast, but because I’m the only one running in my age group. I believe a vital part of making sure that happens is taking adequate breaks. Although I love running and preparing for new races, at times it can be a bit exhausting; both physically and mentally. I think of taking a break like recharging a battery. It’s good to feel fresh going into a new season or else you’ll be tired and stale when the important races come up at the end of the season.

Yulefest 5k

With that being said, I had my last “race” of the year yesterday. I know, I just said I was taking a break, but I definitely didn’t take the race seriously. I signed up to run in the Cambridge Yulefest 5k a few months ago. My brother and sister-in-law would be running it plus there’s a cool after party that sounded fun so I signed up. However, the sooner I got to the race, the more I was regretting it.

Let’s get this straight. The last 5k I ran was a year and a half ago. I’ve been in half or full marathon training since then and have kind of forgotten how to run a 5k. Plus, I’ve taken the past 3 weeks really REALLY easy. Add on top of that having that certain time of month come yesterday morning and I wasn’t too confident in my 5k ability.

My race strategy was basically to just sprint the entire thing. Okay, not actually sprint, but do what I thought a sprint would feel like. You see, I’ve been marathon training, which means that I’m used to tempo runs and marathon-paced runs. Anything faster feels like a sprint.

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In case you thought I always look good in race photos... Running isn't always glamorous.

In case you thought I always look good in race photos… Running isn’t very glamorous.

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Turns out that the race didn’t go as badly as I thought it would. I threw down a 20:25, which is 34 seconds slower than my PR, but all things considered I was pleasantly surprised. Who says that marathon training makes you slow?! I got an awesome new hat that I’m in love with (thank you for not giving another race T-shirt) and the after party was great. It was fun to run a shorter race and kind of made me miss that feeling of attacking the course. You see, in halves and fulls you have to go out extremely cautiously and the real race doesn’t start until an hour or two in.

The race kind of made me wonder about what type of races I should be running. I’ve tried out a bunch of different distances and am not really sure where my “niche” is. There’s a huge learning component that comes with marathon running, which I have definitely not mastered, but after the decent 5k I ran yesterday I wonder if my specialty is more towards the 5k/10k distance. It’s something to think about anyways. I probably won’t be running a full marathon next year (more on that later), so I’ll have more time to experiment.

What’s new in your life? What was your end of the year race? Do you enjoy taking breaks?