Workout of the Week

Last week I wrapped up week 2 of my half marathon training program. I’m putting it in the books as another successful week and am really starting to feel like my fitness is coming back.

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I got in a little more than 40 miles, although technically my long run didn’t happen until this week, I’m still going to count it for the last one! It was supposed to happen on Sunday, but my bachlorette party was also over the weekend and well, let’s just say I didn’t really feel up to running long on Sunday!

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My runs this week took me through D.C. in the early morning, along some running trails I haven’t hit up in awhile and by the waterfront in Hoboken featuring stunning views of the NYC Skyline, so needless to say there was a bit of competition for my favorite workout this week.

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Hands down it was my lone speed workout of the week, which took place after work on Wednesday. I made an unfortunate decision to sleep in that morning instead of going to the track. I set up a workout of 400 yard repeats with 400 yard recovery jogs in my Garmin and watched anxiously as I waited for the clock to hit five and saw the skies turning increasingly gray!

It was just sprinkling when I set out for the trail though that leads from the office to my apartment. After roughly a mile warm-up I started my repeats. As I progressed though, so did the rain until it was monsooning and I was getting pelted with rain. It might be the hardest rain I’ve ever run through. My clothes were drenched and my shoes were sloshing with water.

For some reason though I could not stop smiling. Everyone else on the trail was so friendly and seemed to be having the same experience as me – well except for the bikers, they seemed pretty grumpy. There were high fives, laughs and smiles exchanged and jokes yelled out about what a beautiful day it was to run as I passed others along the trail. It was a blast.

I questioned my sanity a bit more when I finished my repeats and got ready to do the roughly 2 mile cool down that would take me the rest of the way home – ALL UPHILL. Fortunately the rain had let up by then and I was able to stop by the Iwo Jima water fountain for a quick sip before the last push.

When I do the speed workouts on a trail on my Garmin, I don’t see the split times as I go along. Instead, I listen for my watch to signal the start and end of each repeat and don’t get to see how long each took me until I finish. I was really pumped with my times and very glad I didn’t resort to a treadmill because I would not have pushed that hard. I was mostly consistent with just a few slow ones in there, but given the rain and the not completely flat terrain I wasn’t worried about them. It was one heck of a workout!

Do you like running in the rain? What was your favorite workout last week?

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NYC Marathon Fun – Volunteering at Mile 22

I headed up to NYC this past weekend to give a little back to the sport that gives me so much. I signed up to volunteer at the 22 mile water stop for the NYC Marathon with a bunch of my Oiselle teammates. After a fun Saturday in Hoboken visiting my brother and his fiancée, I was up bright and early Sunday morning to make my way into the city.

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As usual, I had a bit of trouble figuring out the Subway system, but was able to take a fairly quick cab ride to my volunteer spot. I checked in, got a poncho and plastic gloves and met up with the other Oiselle ladies volunteering there. Most of them I only knew through twitter, so it was very fun to meet them in person, and not surprisingly they were all awesome.

We got a quick orientation from the volunteer leader. It’s amazing the things you don’t realize that go into race day. He went over set up and what to expect once things got rolling. Safety was the emphasis. He pointed out the closest medical tent, then talked about how to form a safety circle around a runner if someone were to drop, and asked anyone who was CPR certified to raise their hands. After thanking us all, we were off to work.

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I helped fill up water cups and stack them three rows high across the table to get ready for the onslaught of runners. After that, I enjoyed my front row seat to one incredibly cool marathon experience. The Marine Corps Marathon, which boasts finishers in the low 20,000s each year has always seemed HUGE to me. On Sunday, more than 50,000 runners set out to take on the five boroughs of NYC. Wow.

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The wheelchair and handcycle divisions came through first. I don’t usually see most of these racers after they take off, but wow they are impressive. Soon the elite women were making their way through mile 22. It was so cool to see the pace trucks coming and know the first runners were right behind them.

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These women were amazingly fierce and fast. It was so cool to see. I still can’t believe Priscah Jeptoo came away with the win – what a finish!

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Also, I want her abs!

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Not long after, another pace truck was coming through and we saw the elite men. Getting to see Geoffrey Mutai fly by up close on his way to his second straight NYCM victory was awesome. I couldn’t wait to see Meb come by, but of course had just put my camera away when he did, so I don’t have a shot of him. I know he didn’t have the race he wanted, but it was still so cool to see him and he is such an inspiration!

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Soon the everyday runners started pouring through and just kept coming and coming. There were so many volunteers and I was near the back, so I didn’t actually hand out that many cups of water.

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Still getting to cheer these runners on and see the determination and pain in their faces (or limps) as they passed us with four miles to go made for a great day. I yelled out for the runners who had names written on their shirts, cheered like crazy for random strangers and tried to pick people I knew running out of the crowd. So. Much. Fun. 

Congrats to everyone who raced NYCM Sunday! You are all amazing!

Footprints: Workout Recap

Ah, so I’m a day late with my usual recap. After a weekend out of town and pushing my long run till yesterday after work, there wasn’t much time for blogging! Last week felt good and strong. After a couple of tough weeks, it was just the confidence boost I needed going into taper time. Here’s the day-by-day breakdown:

Monday: I put in five easy miles along the Mt. Vernon Trail after work.

Tuesday: Despite the government shutdown and closing of National Parks, there were no barriers blocking the Mt. Vernon trail and plenty of other bikers and runners there, so I took my speed workout to the trail for the day. After a mile warm-up, I did eight half-mile repeats with 1-minute rests in between followed by a mile cool-down.

Wednesday: Another easy 5-miler along Mt. Vernon after work. I felt stiff and slow, but when looking at my watch at the end actually ran about 20 seconds per mile faster than Monday.

Thursday: Strength workout.

Friday: Rest Day

Saturday:  6.55 miles around Hoboken with the NYC skyline in the background!! I woke up a bit earlier than expected this morning so thought I might go long, but immediately realized that wasn’t going to happen. I’ve run in Hoboken a handful of times, but only really have one main route that I take. I was able to scoot through there once, but they were setting up for an obstacle course race, so multiple loops through there weren’t going to happen. Running the main streets was too frustrating for me with the constant stops, so I decided it would not be a very good long run to end on before taper mode and headed back towards my brother’s place after mile five. While the view is spectacular one things that drives me crazy about running in Hoboken is constantly having to be on the lookout for dog poop everywhere. After dodging it for the first 6.25 miles I managed to step in some in the last few blocks home. Pick that sh** up people!!

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Sunday: Rest Day. After a super fun night out at my good friend’s wedding and a drive back to D.C., I just wasn’t feeling like running at all, so the long run was put off for one more day.

Running Views: NYC Skyline Edition

I’m pretty fortunate to live where I do right outside of Washington, D.C., and have so many amazing views to take in while I’m out on my everyday runs. Few things can beat the sun setting or rising over the monuments, memorials, museums and other great sights this city has to offer.

It’s always fun to run while I’m traveling and check out some new sights as well though and one of my favorites is the New York City skyline. Whenever I visit my brother and his fiancée in Hoboken I make sure to fit in a couple runs along the Hudson River so I can take in the skyline for a few miles.

What’s the best view you’ve ever had on a run? Tell me your favorite city to run in too!

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Should the NYC Marathon Have Been Cancelled?

There has already been a boatload of coverage and debate about whether or not the New York Road Runners (NYRR) and the City made the right call canceling the New York City Marathon. I think they made the right decision, but they made it too late. Regardless, I would not have wanted to be in charge of making that decision. It was a very tough call.

There were plenty of reasons holding the marathon made sense. The marathon brings $340 million dollars to the city, which could go a long way in helping residents and small businesses trying to recover from the devastation caused by Super-Storm Sandy. According to NYRR, no resources would have to be diverted from relief efforts to hold the race, which was one of the same reasons given for still holding the Giants game. This post on FloTrack.org does a good job of summing up how important this marathon is for a lot of professional runners, especially those who aren’t at the top of the pack. MarathonGuide.com posted a message on their homepage saying the event was cancelled only because of the media turning public perception against it.

Former Mayor Rudi Giuliani even came out and supported Mayor Bloomberg’s initial decision to hold the race, saying how important big events like this race are to NYC. He said making sure that race still happened after 9/11 was a top priority for him. After hearing this I started to think it made sense to still hold the race. After all, nothing quite symbolizes community and resilience like 47,000 runners taking on a marathon. So, the show must go on.

Then more stories started to roll out, many that were not even showing up in the news. This was no ordinary storm and it caused an unbelievable amount of destruction. How can you justify handing out huge amounts of water when the spectators might need it more? How can you justify filling hotels with tourists when they could be used to house people who had just lost their homes and all of their belongings? Too many people were hurting too badly to let the race go on – not to mention the logistical nightmare it was going to be to transport all the runners to the start on Staten Island, which was hit very hard by the storm.

Many people criticized runners for being selfish about getting upset over wasting months of training when others had just lost everything. I don’t think this is fair though, and I think many runners probably handled it better than onlookers expected. They came for the race because they’d been told it was still on. The decision really should have been made earlier instead of waiting till the last minute, but even this turned into a positive as thousands of runners ended up pitching in for the relief efforts.

There will be other marathons and most runners get that. My friend Lindsay and I ran the Country Music Marathon in Nashville in 2010. Well, at least we started it. Forecasts for race day were a bit foreboding, predicting severe thunderstorms and a possible tornado, but the race went on. The day actually started off beautifully with no sign of a storm coming, but it turns out there’s something to that saying, the calm before the storm.

Around the halfway mark, the sun disappeared behind the clouds, the sky turned very gray and eventually it opened up. Thunder and lightning rocked the course as the rain got harder and some hail even started to fall. As I approached mile 20, a cop with a bullhorn was yelling at me that the course was being shut down. I didn’t want to hear it though, so needless to say I may have used some unkind words and ran around the officer. I was on pace for a more than 30-minute PR and wasn’t going to let a little storm get in my way. The volunteers forming a human wall at mile 21 forcing people toward the finish line did however get in my way.

I angrily ran the last mile to the finish and took a medal in disgust after “only” running 22 miles. After meeting up with Lindsay and making our way back to our hotel though, we were able to gain some perspective and even laugh about what had just happened. We were able to enjoy a great night out in Nashville, while joking about our really expensive training run. The storm let up the following day and we were lucky to fit in a trip to the historic Grand Ole Opry before leaving town.

We got out just before more major storms hit, leaving most of Nashville under water including the Opry. Many people lost their homes. We just couldn’t run a race. You can’t compare the two, and we – like many of the runners unable to compete in the NYC marathon – had the perspective to understand that. It made for quite and experience and quite a story.

While it’s a bummer for the runners who put in so much work to train for the marathon, it’s absolutely tragic what many of the residents of NYC and New Jersey are going through. In my opinion, NYRR and the City made a very tough call, but they made the right call.

What do you all think about the decision to cancel the marathon? Was it the right call? If you were planning on running the marathon, did you pick a back-up race? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear from you!

Check out pics below taken by my brother in Hoboken a week after the storm and pics from my 2010 trip to Nashville.