...not so fast.

As defined in my previous post, speed work is, in fact, “not so speedy, but I try really hard with longer rest breaks in between bouts of “speed” ”. Wednesday was my first official mandated day of speed work. The excel spread sheet that governs my life dictated three miles in total. Mile one was a warm up followed by a stretch and then the fun begins. The next quarter mile is a build to race pace, then the following quarter mile is at or below race pace, finally the last half mile is one minute above race pace – then repeat. Because the mile markers were so specific, I hit the track to give my knees a break and so I would have clearly marked start and stop points. I decided that the best possible time to do this would be at 2pm on an 89 degree day in June. I breezed through the warm up. It was a real confidence booster until the speed work actually began and I hated my life. I was tricked into thinking this would be an easy workout by the total mileage being three, with a full mile warm up. Between water breaks, stretching, starts and stops, my total time spent on the track was an hour for a whopping total of 3.25 miles. I ran a 5K in 28mins and 16seconds earlier this month. I’m struggling to see where the speed comes in to play. The only comfort I have is knowing that these workouts may prevent me from finishing after race have deconstructed the finish line the marathon with a less than ideal time. Yikes.


rest day training partner

I’ve always wanted a dog. When I was little I begged for a golden retriever or a lab (all the cool kids had one). When I realized my dream I found myself with a spunky cocker spaniel crying when we put him in his crate and peeing on the kitchen floor two inches shy of his puppy pad. He's cleaned up his act a bit now and thankfully pees outside and only cries if someone comes within a millimeter of stepping on his paw. When he was a bitty baby, his crazy parents decided it would be a great idea to take him on a walk! Fantastic. Being idiot newbie puppy owners, we thought quick 1.5 mile loop through the park was a great idea. No, we didn’t care at all that it was February and freezing with snow on the ground. Marley cared. He loudly voiced his displeasure (again with the crying) and decided to park it on the pavement. The walk consisted mostly of me carrying a small, whining puppy in my arms on a path through the park… in February.

Bitty Baby
I guess I should have known then that Marley was not going to be a running partner, but I held out hope. Some other clues should have been his short legs, hatred of a leash, inability to walk in a straight line and frequent stops to smell another dog's pee the roses, but alas, I was young and naive. As time passed and pup spent more of it snoozin’ on the couch, the prospects of having a running buddy in my beloved canine were quickly fading.
Not loving the leash. Not loving the snow.

That didn't stop me from trying. Twice I took the poor pup on a "run" (ahem...well crafted jog/walk that involved a lot of tripping over paws, pup, leash and my own feet). Each time was a sloppy disaster and had to be discontinued before we hit 1/4 a mile. Embarrassing.I still feel pangs of jealousy when I see a runner and (wo)man's best friend running side by side on a nice fall day, but I've moved on.

Marley plays an integral role in the training plan and has exceeded my expectations as my rest day training buddy. He truly excels at rest days (just like his mom!). Lounging is his forte, he loves to snuggle and there is never enough time for napping. Recently he has taken the liberty to appoint himself resident pre-long run breakfast companion. Toughing it out and waking up at 6:30a on Sundays with me, Marley knows the pre-run ritual well. He fancies peanut butter on toast and never misses the opportunity to snag a stray crumb or beg to lick the peanut butter off the knife (for the record - this is gross and he's never succeeded in swaying me).
Marley Sockhands. On the couch, duh.


peer pressure

After training for my first only half marathon on my own, my time showed that my lackluster training plan (and by plan I mean the unscientific method in which I coaxed myself into running every other day for a few weeks before the race) had failed me. Shocking, I know. So when I got the bright idea that running 26.2 miles in succession with a bib pinned to my shirt and a timing chip on my shoe I thought it best to revamp my aforementioned training plan.

You can imagine my delight when I found that the organizers of my premiere marathon also host a training group. Guess who stayed up late on the night registration opened to ensure I got a coveted spot. This girl. Obviously I enrolled without a problem (because who else stays up until midnight on a Tuesday just to register for torment) and anxiously awaited the first email from our “coach” (side note: that email came 5 months later – I wasn’t joking when I said I was super eager to sign up). I figured peer pressure would be a good motivator. Oh. I also convinced a friend that this would be a good thing to do, so I have a runBFF in this crazy quest. Poor girl…

If you’re like me and had no idea what to expect from a running training group, it goes something like this.

1. You have your first meeting. This was nerve racking as very little detail was given about the goings on of said meeting. Turns out we all got t-shirts (that say “marathoner in training” on the back, I thought it was cute), a race training plan and had a meet and greet with the coaches and mentors. Not exactly a crisis situation.

2. You meet weekly for long runs (Sunday, specifically) and our coaches and mentors impart wisdom as you run. This is both fun and annoying. Fun because you have this group of friendly new faces to talk about your weird obsession beloved hobby, you pick up great advice from the coaches and mentors and there is strength in numbers, so you never feel like you’re alone on the trail. Annoying in that when you first arrive and people are reviewing their goal distances, mine is always a few miles shy of the overachievers. Whatever, it’s supposed to be fun.

3. It’s been promised that as we move closer to m-day (that's shorthand for marathon day, runners love shorthand) we will be meeting on a weekday to work on hills and speed. Super. Two of my favorite things. I’m foreseeing those training sessions ending in tears…or puke…or both...


r & r

I knew that the 20+ week training plan would be foiled at some point and last week was that week. Life interfered with my training plan and I had a bit of a break. I just assumed I’d be sidelined for a while because I sprained my ankle while stretching or something (it happened before… yoga circa 2002). And so there I was with a nine day hiatus from pounding pavement.

As luxurious as my mini-break sounds, I was bummed because my scheduled long run was in the double digits, the first time this training plan. When I finally mustered up the energy to lace up my kicks it was for a local 5K with 549 participants and the route lined with spectators. No pressure.  Much to my surprise, my legs felt great and I was able to keep up reasonably well. The first mile was annoying, but once I stopped whining about it in my head worked my way around the crowd and was able to settle into a comfortable pace it was great. I ended up finishing 21 seconds over my 5K PR.

And now the best part:  a peanut butter and jelly (or as my Gram would call it, "peanut butter and jel") sandwich station. Yep. After the finish a table of snacks greeted you. You could find the usual suspects; water, bananas, oranges, granola bars (gross)…but beyond the monotony of typical post race snacks was the best idea ever. A table with a few kinds of bread (sliced in half), various peanut butters, an impressive array of jellies and jams in multiple flavors and a whole lot of plastic knifes – genius! Why doesn’t every race offer this?? Regardless of time, it’s clear we were all winners at the snack stand.


a definition of terms

Since I’ve forayed into this mystical world where I drag myself out of bed at 6:30am on Sunday mornings so I have enough time to walk the dog, brush my teeth and have my preferred pre-run breakfast of toast with peanut butter, I’ve noticed myself throwing around an awful lot of terms no one else cares about understands as they relate to my particular lack of athletic ability.

running: something that looks like running (sort of…) at a leisurely pace, probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 8:45 – 10:30 minutes per mile. Not breaking any world records here…

fueling: this is basically an excuse to eat pasta (example: dinner on Monday – tortellini; dinner on Tuesday – spaghetti; dinner on Wednesday – mac ‘n’ cheese; dinner on Thursday – pad thai; dinner on Friday – pasta salad).  This is also a great excuse to eat a ridiculous amount of pistachios in preparation for a post work run; all in the name of protein.

carb loading: not only can I have all of the pasta I want (because that is fueling), but I will add French fries as well.

marathon training plan: ah yes. The fantastic 8.5” by 11” page that details the next 18 weeks of my life, you know… the one that judges you harshly should you not obey it’s wishes completely? Yep.

training run: can refer to any time I hit the pavement. Example: I ran from my car to the mailbox – training run. I ran after the dog when I realized he wasn’t tied to the patio – training run. I ran to my car after work when it was hailing – training run.

long run: here is where the waking up at 6:30am on Sunday mornings comes into play. I’ll be up and at ‘em with my favorite gear on and eager to go. I’ll start off too fast and by mile 4 I can feel all the tiny bones in my feet and am complaining in my head about what a stupid idea this was.

recovery run: I will be outside. I will be running. But, I will be taking my sweet time because I feel like the miles logged on a long run were enough to carry me through the week.

rest day: this is where I excel. The glorious days when there is zero physical effort scheduled on the ‘ol training plan. Please find me by the pool and bring me some sangria.

speed work: not so speedy, but I try really hard with longer rest breaks in between bouts of “speed”.

PR (personal record): for me this typically involves being close enough to see the clock at the finish line and trying to coax my legs to turn over faster in an effort to shave precious seconds off my race time. Usually once I cross the finish line (saving maybe 5 seconds) I feel violently ill and instantly regret that "quick walk break" I had at water station number 2.

MP – marathon pace: ...maybe… possibly… I’ll be under 10 minutes per mile for the majority of 26.2 miles.

junk miles: these don’t exist. If I ran a mile, it counts.


...and so it began

As a child I have vivid memories of the dreaded physical fitness test in gym class (yes, they still have this). Each year was the same, the pushups and sit ups went fine, I excelled at the v-sit, the shuttle run was my favorite and I could even dangle on the pull up bar for a while. As the class gleefully made it through one circuit after another, our excitement was short lived as we all knew what was coming: the timed mile. As soon as the words escaped the gym teacher’s mouth I was plotting, scamming and scheming in my mind trying to figure out any way to be absent next class. I would have rather been anywhere than that track engaging in my “pre race” ritual of lacing up my sneaker and slouching my neon socks perfectly over my stirrup pants. 

Clearly I survived the torment of the gym as a child and today, I am training for my first marathon. I got over the dreaded timed mile somewhere in college when I would catch myself setting out for a jog around finals week or before a beach vacation. I would even get a few trail runs in during August where you could find relief from the heat under the dense pine trees of the park.

2010 Team Teagan volunteers
When my friend and co-worker began training for a half marathon with Team in Training, I noticed. I guess it never occurred to me that you could be running for a purpose or for fun. Listening to her talk about group runs, getting in hill and speed work and finding a new hobby was inspiring. Because she's awesome and is an overachiever, she took up the extremely ambitious task of appointing herself race director in an effort to help a local family with an ailing child. Team Teagan’s Annual 5K Benefit Run was born. 

On June 30th, 2007 I completed my first 5K in support of Teagan, her family and the noble efforts of my fabulous friend. From that point on, I was hooked. Watching more experienced runners toe the line in their race day duds and snazzy sneakers would have been reason enough for me to jump on the bandwagon, but the support of the community and fabulous volunteers rallying around one family was amazing– I figured those crazy running people must have been a bunch of good eggs. I've continued to run in and volunteer at the race each year and they've proven me right.

happy national running day!

I thought it would be fitting to launch a blog primarily dedicated to running on National Running Day. When I began training for the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon in January, I was excited, so I talked about it - often. I thought that would wane. Six months later my poor friends and family (and co-workers, strangers in front of me in line at the grocery store, anyone else within a 6 foot radius…) are still listening me to chatter away. I know they (mostly) don’t care and are just humoring me, so I decided to write about it in an effort to resume normal, non running related conversation. I’m 99% sure I’ll still be blabbering about negative splits, my beloved Garmin, long run Sunday and PRs, but maybe blogging about it will tire me of running related banter… right.