Saturday, December 22, 2012

2012 Highlights!

2012 is the year I got serious about running. It has definitely been my best running year yet and it has made me super excited to see what's ahead. I've seen a few other people answer these questions on their blog and think its a nice way to wrap up the year!

1. Best Race Experience: Hands down, this would be the Philadelphia MarathonIt was my first marathon, and as anyone that has run a marathon knows, there's no better feeling than crossing the finish line and knowing that you've completed something so big. I doubted myself every day leading up to this race, and was somewhat terrified of my goal to BQ. Running this race made me realize how strong I am and what I'm really capable of when I put in the time, effort, energy and heart. I was also lucky enough to have SO many friends and family members there* cheering for me before, during and after the race that made it a day I will truly never forget. (*cue tears, over 1 months later....)

2. Best Run: My last long run before the marathon. It was a 22 mile solo long run and I felt great the whole time! It was exactly the run I needed to boost my confidence and it reminded me again of why I run: pure happiness.

3. Best New Piece of Gear: Anything Oiselle! At that start of 2012, I didn't own any Oiselle and now I wear their products constantly! Rogas are definitely my favorite shorts, and there's nothing like a good pair of running shorts! I also am in love with my new Sherpa (no longer available on but there are some on!)

4. Best Piece of Running Advice You Received: Have fun! So simple, yet sometimes I put so much pressure on myself before/during races that I forget why I run. I'm not running to win (although I wouldn't mind if I did win a race sometime!), but I run because I love it. I run to enjoy myself, reach new goals, gain confidence and because it's fun! Never lose the pure joy of running!

5. Most Inspirational Runner: This is a really hard question because I'm constantly inspired by everyone on Twitter and whose blogs I read! But if I had to pick one, I would say Jen Bingham. She's on the Oiselle Team and is constantly winning races while raising her adorable daughter! I also got to meet Kara Goucher this year and she's pretty inspirational....

6. If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, but what would they be?
Confidence building, inspirational, amazing

2013 goals coming soon! Sorry for any typos, incorrect links, lack of pictures etc.- it turns out that writing a post from an iPad/iPhone isn't easy!

How was your 2012? What are your goals for 2013??

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Yurbud Giveaway Winner!

Thank you to everyone who entered (and retweeted!) my Yurbud Giveaway!  Because of you all, I have some new tunes to listen to while I run! You thought that the giveaway was all about you, but I got something out of it too! :) What I learned from your comments is that I apparently live under a rock. I had to look up almost every song you all mentioned on iTunes. Sad, but true! Don't judge.

Now, onto important business! The winner of this giveaway, who will receive a free pair of Women's Small Yurbuds, is:  Steph from! Congrats!

Steph, email me at by next Wednesday, December 12 to claim your prize. Happy listening! :)


Friday, November 30, 2012

Happy holidays! Yurbud Giveaway!

'Tis the holiday season! What better time to do my first blog giveaway than now?!

By now, you've probably heard of Yurbuds. They are headphones designed specifically for women, and are guaranteed to NEVER fall out and NEVER hurt! Maybe you put them on your Holiday Wish List, or maybe you've been wanting to give them to a friend or family member.  Well, here's your chance!  I will be giving away one pair of Women's Small Inspire Yurbuds! 


You can enter this giveaway until Wednesday, December 5 at 5pm. After that, I'll use Random Number Generator to chose a lucky winner!

We're all busy during the holiday season, so I'll keep this simple for everyone!

Leave me ONE comment telling me your two favorite songs to hear while running that motivate you to push harder!

The winner will have until Sunday, December 8 to email me at to claim their prize!


I ran a marathon! Now what?

A week and a half ago, I ran my first marathon.  I still almost can't believe it and have probably had a huge smile plastered to my face since just before crossing the finish line of the Philadelphia Marathon.


I usually get the post-race blues after my goal race, and while I haven't had the blues, I've been trying to figure out what to do next.  While I said I wasn't going to run a Spring marathon (don't let me!) I've been so tempted by the idea of racing another. Until the last few miles of Philly, I felt like I was running pretty conservatively and now wonder what else I'm capable of. However, if I were to sign up for a Spring 2013 marathon, that would basically be two years of constant marathon training for me. I'm going to run a Fall 2013 Marathon (Chicago? NYC? Wineglass? Something else?) and then Boston Spring 2014 (as long as it doesn't fill up before I'm allowed to register!), so this is my only chance to take some time "off".  I plan to focus on speed and maintaining/improving my current fitness level so that I'm ready to start training again in the summer.

Since the marathon, I've debated the idea of getting a running coach.  Here are my thoughts:

For getting a coach:
- All the cool kids are doing it
- All the cool kids are running awesome races with the help of their coaches.
- My times would probably (hopefully) drop faster than without a coach
- I love following a plan. Probably especially when it has been made just for me.

For not getting a coach:
- I have been getting faster on my own, and know I still have more to give. Part of me wants to see how much I can do on my own.
- Adding more speedwork/days per week/miles per week on my own will make me faster
- I don't know exactly who I'd want to coach me
- Costs money, that I don't really have (least of my concerns, but still a factor)

I have a friend from grade school that qualified for the Olympic Trials Marathon (but didn't run because she was pregnant) after her first marathon. I asked her to coach me, but she unfortunately said she doesn't have any experience coaching.  However, she did give me some advice and things to try out, so I think I'll stick to those for now and see what happens.  Maybe I'll reassess the coach situation again next year.

My next "big" race is the NYC Half Marathon in March. I think I tend to run better when I put my goals out there (I have something to live up to!) so my goal for this race is 1:35-1:40. My half marathon PR is 1:43:23 from the Brooklyn Half Marathon in May and know I'm definitely capable of setting a new PR, I'm just not sure by how much!

I'm also in the lottery for the NWM Half Marathon in DC in April, am planning on entering the lottery for the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile and am thinking of running the NJ Half Marathon, depending on what happens with the lottery races.  Those races should keep me busy, and hopefully also keep me from signing up for a Spring marathon! :)

For now, I'm still taking it easy and keeping my mileage low until I'm totally recovered from the marathon, but I can't wait to get my mileage back up and run fast again!

What races do you have coming up? Are you running a Spring marathon? What are your thoughts on running coaches?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Perfect Weekend

Warning: I apologize for this lengthy, sappy, and not necessarily running-focused race recap! :)

This past weekend was perfect.  I couldn't have asked for a more incredible first marathon.  I may have been the one to do the work during my training, but my friends and family were the ones that got me across the finish line. In the days leading up to the marathon, I received SO much support...from everyone.  I got more emails, calls, facebook messages, texts, tweets and in-person good luck wishes and positive thoughts than I ever could have imagined or asked for.  Just thinking about it all brings tears to my eyes.  The running community is absolutely amazing, as is my family.

A week or two before the race, I started getting really nervous whenever I thought about running a marathon.  Everyone was asking me if I was excited, and I was, but I was way more nervous than anything else.  But yet, at the same time, I felt an odd sense of calmness over me.

Since this was my first marathon, I didn't know what to fully expect.  Training runs only prepare you so much, and I had never run more than 22 miles.  I was afraid that I was going to start out way too fast. Or have a mental breakdown mid-race. Or that my goal was unrealistic and I'd be disappointed in myself. Or that I'd get injured. Or it just wouldn't be my day. But in the end, I loved everything about Sunday.

A year ago, when people asked me about running a marathon, my answer was that I had no interest.  It wasn't until I watched the Boston 2012 marathon that I contemplated running a marathon myself.  It still took me several weeks after Boston to sign up, but I finally registered for Philadelphia.  From then on, I knew that I wanted to give the marathon everything I had.  Sure, I could have run 5 days a week instead of 4, or done more speedwork, but when I got to the starting line, I knew I had trained well and was going to leave it all out on the course.

Anthony and I took the train to Philly Saturday afternoon, dropped off our stuff at the hotel and went to the expo.  The booths were a crowded disaster, but once you got  past them, there was no line at packet pick up!

We met up with some of my childhood friends there, and probably ended up walking/standing too much to find something to eat.  We finally made it back to the hotel and checked in to find out that this was our view:

It was a perfect view of the start/finish, except that I wouldn't be there to see any of it! But it was nice to look out Sunday morning and see what was happening before I headed out myself.

My mom, sister and her in-laws, Anthony and I went to Thai for dinner.  I had Pad Thai, which I had the night before the Philly Rock 'n' Roll Half marathon and was fine, but a few hours after dinner, my stomach wasn't feeling great.  By the time I finally went to bed (too late and I woke up so many times), my stomach felt terrible.  Fortunately, when I woke up at 5:30am Sunday morning, it was better!

My sister, mom and me after dinner

Anthony and me after dinner

                                           Walking to the starting line Sunday morning.

When I signed up for this race, I just sort of decided that I wanted to run a 3:35 marathon, which also happens to be the Boston Qualifying time for my age group. At first I just thought it'd be cool to qualify, but then as time and my training went on, I became determined to make it happen. I became so attached to this goal time that I was slightly concerned for myself if I didn't meet it! I had days where I thought it was possible and other days (ahem, including the day before the race) when I thought I was crazy for setting my goal so high for my first marathon.  But I guess you have to set your dreams high to live up to your full potential!  

Walking to the start Sunday morning, it made me glad that I ran the Philly Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in September. This race was set up basically the same way- porta potties (not enough- had to go but would have missed the start), start line, baggage- I knew where everything was so didn't stress out. I got into my corral around 6:50 and it was really chilly, but sunny (great running weather!) so I kept my throwaway clothes on as long as possible. They started the National Anthem a few minutes before 7 and I started to tear up. Already. I told myself to hold it together at least until the start!  Soon the wheelchairs were off, then the elites, the second corral, then me! I crossed the starting line and pressed the wrong button on my Garmin, so it was inaccurate before I even took two steps. Smooth.  Fortunately, I caught it within a few seconds so it didn't make a big difference overall.

I saw Anthony cheering at mile 1, which got me excited.  Since I knew where all my cheerers (is that a word?) were going to be, this race quickly became about counting down the miles until seeing my next cheerer.  Mentally, for me, this made the race go by really quickly. Not so much mile by mile, but while looking back on the race towards the end, it felt like I had only been running for a few minutes. Although, whenever I thought "only an hour left of running!" I immediately freaked out. But when I thought "only 7 more miles" it seemed totally manageable. Whatever works for you! 

So after seeing Anthony near the start, I was counting down until mile 6 where my dad, Anthony, Ashley, Beth and Erica were going to be. During the last week of tapering, I started feeling some knee pain.  Nothing serious, but I did wonder if it would become a problem after running a marathon on it. Within the first few miles, I could already feel that my knee didn't feel great. I was also kind of in a bad mood for the first few miles and wasn't mentally with it or into the race. I got slightly worried, because 3+ more hours of running when you don't want to is TOUGH! It also really annoyed me when I saw a sign around mile 4 that said "Hurry Up, We're Cold!" I may have even said a not-very-nice word out loud to that person "cheering" - oops. However, as soon as we turned onto Chestnut Street around mile 5, there were SO many people lining the streets and cheering that I forgot about being grumpy and got really excited. There was so much energy and it gave me some adrenaline. My pace dropped consistently for the first 5 miles.

I saw Ashley around mile 6 (but missed Beth and Erica - I think they were on the other side of the street) then Anthony (but missed my dad- same story!)  Even though I missed some people, seeing Ashley and Anthony at that point helped me so much.  Then it was a countdown until I'd see my mom and sister- somewhere between miles 8 and 10.  I think not knowing exactly where they were going to be might have actually worked to my advantage.  Miles 7-10 were the hilliest of the whole course, but I was mostly looking at everyone cheering, trying to spot my mom and sister, so I wasn't focused on the hills.  These miles actually ended up being some of my fastest.  

I usually don't pay attention to my elevation charts from my runs, so an elevation map really doesn't mean much to me.  I can obviously tell where the hills are, but don't really know what a 100 foot climb over a mile feels like. But after running the course on Sunday, it seemed like (for anyone that knows Central Park) the hill at mile 7 was like Cat Hill and the hill at mile 9 was like the Great Hill. But by then I was feeling great and wasn't going to let a hill ruin that! 


Just before mile 10, I finally spotted my mom and sister, yelled to get their attention, they cheered something back at me, I waved and kept on my way. After 10 miles, I was feeling great, except my lower back started to hurt (already).  My pace was consistent at 8:04 (on my Garmin- texts from tracking varied from 8:06-8:09) and I knew there were some downhills coming! I was feeling really great, aside from back pain, and felt like I could keep running this pace forever.

Next up, find Anthony and my dad at the halfway marker, and don't accidentally only run a half marathon. Fortunately, the signs for the split, where the half marathons go right and marathoners go left, were really clear so it wasn't an issue.

Before the race began, I decided I was going to break this race up into three segments:

1. First half- 13.1 miles
2. Out to Manayunk (6.5ish miles)
3. Back from Manayunk to finish (6.5ish miles)

Because of the way this course is set up, this worked really well for me.  The race wasn't really half over at the halfway point, because as I've been told by so many people, the last 6 or so miles are always the hardest. Makes sense, and they were right.  For me, at the halfway point, mentally I was 1/3 of the way done. Just before heading downhill (which later becomes an uphill...) onto Kelly Drive at mile 13, I saw my dad and Anthony.  I yelled "Happy birthday" to my dad while they yelled...?!  I don't know what, but I was glad I spotted them!  I hit the half marathon marker in 1:46:11.

After that, I unfortunately didn't see anyone I knew for almost 10 miles. I'm glad I didn't know that was going to happen, because I think it would have made it mentally really hard for me.  Around mile 15, I felt invincible and had big plans to pick up the pace after the turnaround at mile 19.5.  I'm glad I planned to wait on that one, because as it turns out, it didn't happen that way at all.  

Around mile 17 we crossed over the river for a short out and back, and I saw the 3:35 pace group a bit behind me.  While I knew I was ahead of my goal of 3:35, it was nice to have it confirmed by seeing the group then.  I finally turned on my music around mile 19 and continued looking for my mom and sister from miles 18-21. They apparently spotted me around mile 20, but I completely missed them.  There were SO many people cheering here in Manayunk- it was SO loud and had great energy! I will also say that there were many more hills at this point than I was expecting.  They weren't huge, but they started to feel pretty big after 18-20 miles. Shortly after making the turn around back towards the finish, I heard someone yelling my name and saw Jocelyn!  She was looking awesome! I just remember yelling "JOCELYN! SUB 4!" to her! She wasn't far behind me, so I knew she was going to do it- just didn't know she was going to beat her goal by 10 minutes!!! So awesome- congrats!!! 

These miles were pretty quiet (and pretty- they were along the river with beautiful Fall foliage!) and uneventful. Or else I was already delirious and just don't remember much from those 10 miles! I was still feeling mostly good and was just focused on counting down the miles and finishing my first marathon! Then, at mile 23, I spotted Anthony on the side! He was now wearing running clothes and jumped in to run the last few miles with me! We had talked about him running from mile 25, but weren't sure that would work, so I was extra happy to see him, and earlier than I expected!  He kept telling me how great and strong I looked, while I kept telling him everything that hurt- my feet, my calves were killing me at this point, my lower back. I said more than once that I just wanted to stop, but knew I was so close to qualifying for Boston and beating my goal (but didn't have THAT much time to spare) that it wasn't even an option to stop and walk. He kept yelling my name and saying "Go Abby!" which got everyone else around us yelling my name too.  It definitely kept me going. Thank you, Anthony, for getting me to that finish line when all I wanted to do was stop!  He ran with me until around mile 25.75 where he pulled off before the finish chute. At that point, the crowds were AWESOME! I apparently ran up a hill, but had so much adrenaline from the cheering that I didn't even notice!  There were people completely lining both sides of the street, everyone was yelling and Ashley, Beth, Erica and Kara (who ran the half marathon- congrats)! spotted me and were cheering for me. With their encouragement and only .2 to go, I decided it was time to pick up the pace!

I crossed that finish line with a huge smile on my face and tears in my eyes. And as soon as I stopped running, my legs were so wobbly that I almost collapsed! I got my space blanket (whatever it's called!) and medal and found my family. And continued to smile for the rest of the day. 

Official results:

I beat my 3:35 goal and qualified for the Boston Marathon in 2014! So many people told me that I could do it, but it wasn't really until the last mile or two that I realized I was actually going to meet my goal.  Even though I tried not to get my hopes up too much about running sub 3:35, because I didn't want my first marathon to be a "disappointment" to me if I didn't meet my goal (that I pulled out of nowhere), I knew that if I didn't qualify for Boston, I'd want a redemption race in the Spring. I think that might have been the real motivator for getting it done on Sunday- I didn't want to have to go through another 4 months of training during Spring 2013! I had an amazing time, and wouldn't change a thing, but am not quite ready for another marathon just yet! :) 

Photo credit: Erica Sara

This was my first race as a member of the Oiselle Team and I couldn't have been happier to represent the company! I've only met a few teammates, but had SO much social media support from dozens of other Oiselle teammates that I've never met.  They motivated me to run a strong race and I'm so thankful to be a part of the team!

Note: If you chafe a lot (or at all- it's never comfortable!) and don't already wear Oiselle, try their products! Not only do they fit well and look good, I've NEVER chafed while wearing anything of theirs. Maybe I'm just lucky (but I have chafed in the past while wearing other apparel) so I'm sure the non-chafing has at least something to do with their products!

Special thank you to Beth for this awesome 
sign!!! Photo credit: Ashley

While I'm super sad that I didn't see this sign while on the course, it made so happy to get a picture of this afterwards, with one of the Oiselle mantras!

Congratulations to everyone else that ran on Sunday! There were so many PRs!  I loved everything about this race- the people cheering, the course, the weather and the energy. I already loved Philly, but now it holds a special place in my heart.

Note: I'm really glad I carried a small water bottle (thanks Emilia for the recommendation!) with me (until I handed it over to Anthony at mile 23).  Water stations always get bogged down and I was able to just stay in the middle of the road and breeze by them without too much congestion. Also, for me, it's harder to stop/slow and then start again than it is to just keep going.  I will definitely do this again in the future!  I ended up stopping for Gatorade a few times in the last 6 miles, after I ran out of water, but having the water bottle definitely helped me stay on pace and not have to worry about fueling before getting to a water station.

Here are some post marathon & pre celebrating/consuming-my-weight-in-liquid photos!

Signs/artwork courtesy of my mom! 

My mom, dad, Anthony and I all walked back to our hotel together after the race, and this sign was taped to the outside of our hotel room door when we arrived! Mom, you're the best! Thank you for all the cheering and awesome signs you made for me!!!

 Post shower marathon bliss

This Oiselle sweatshirt, which happens to be the softest thing I've ever worn, was my marathon gift to myself.  I haven't really taken it off since I finished the race. Do yourself a favor and go buy one!

Regrets of this race: 
-Not seeing the signs that my mom and Beth made for me during the race.
-Not hearing "The Edge of Glory" during the race. I don't know why, but I really wanted to hear this during the race and I didn't. I have been listening to it ever since though...
-Not getting a picture of my mom and me together after the race. This one makes me sad, but it's just something we'll have to change after the next marathon!

Things I'll never forget:
-Hearing my mom and sister cheer for me at mile 10, Anthony and my dad at mile 13, and Beth, Ashley, Kara and Erica just before the finish!
-Realizing that I was going to qualify for the Boston Marathon
-The feeling of crossing the finish line of my first marathon
-What it felt like to accomplish my goal after so many months & miles, aches & pains, early nights & early mornings with so much determination.

Thank you EVERYONE who cheered for me, sent me a text/tweet/facebook message before or after the race, ran with me during training, tracked me or believed in me. A special thank you to my mom, dad, sister, Anthony, Ashley, Beth, Erica, Kara and Jocelyn for making Sunday a day I will never, ever forget.

Did you run the Philadelphia Marathon/Half Marathon?  What was your favorite part?  Never run a marathon but want to? I'm not a marathon course expert, but Philly was pretty awesome! Just sayin'...  (Hint hint, Beth! :)  )

Want to commit to cheering at my next marathon (whatever it is)? I'm fairly confident I wouldn't be able to run a marathon without having friends and family spread along the whole course...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I'm running a marathon in 3 days! EEK!

I've been meaning to write a blog post all week, but I've been busy doing those things that one does during race week: eating, sleeping, watching Revenge, obsessing over the weather forecast, obsessing over the course and my race "plan" (i.e. don't die), eating carbs, sleeping, foam rolling, washing all my running clothes, eating & sleeping more, stretching and relaxing.

And now, the Philadelphia Marathon is only three days away! This both excites and frightens me.  In a way, I'm so ready for this marathon, but in a way, I feel like there's so much unknown. The course, how I'll feel on race day, how I'll sleep the night before, how cold it'll be, whether I can stay focused for 26.2 miles...

After almost three weeks of tapering, my body is feeling really good.  Except for those few weird and suspicious "pains" that have appeared in the last few days, but don't hurt while running.  I figure they're just trying to get me to freak out during tapering, but really, I've been loving the last three weeks of lower mileage! It's exactly what my body needed after a long training cycle.  It has given me a chance to really visualize race day, think about my goals and most importantly, give my body a break so I can come back feeling stronger and ready to go.

This morning, I had 4 miles on the schedule with two mile repeats at 6:47. My times ended up being:

For once, these mile repeats felt almost easy! If I wasn't three days out from my first marathon, I would have added more on! It's such a great feeling to see real results in both your training and your tapering. Rather than leaving me feeling like I'm not doing enough during taper week(s) (like I've felt during half marathon tapering), today left me feeling fast, rested and ready to race.  I have three easy miles tomorrow, and then the race on Sunday!

I know the marathon won't be easy, and I know there will be times when I want to give up, but my mind knows (at least now, while I'm sitting on my couch....) that I can push through it and finish strong.

Regardless of how fast or slow I run, I just want to enjoy myself for 26.2 miles. I want to feel the energy from the crowd, take in the views along the course, smile, and be super proud of myself when I cross that finish line.

Marathon #1, here I come!

Go Fast. Take Chances.

Are you running the Philly marathon?  Will you be out there cheering?  If you've run it before, what's the best piece of advice you could give someone? If you've run any other marathon, what advice would you give a first time marathoner?!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Go Fast. Take Chances. Oiselle Team!

First, I just want to say that my thoughts are with all of you that have been affected by the storm. For those of you without power, hot water and/or homes, PLEASE let me know if there is anything that I can do to help you and your families. While I was fortunate enough to survive the storm without any damage or power loss, I know others were greatly affected. But, even though I wasn't directly affected, I have been affected emotionally. The news in this post is one thing that truly made me smile last week, among all the sadness, damage and heartbreak that NYC and the East Coast has endured. 

A few months ago, I took a chance on something that I only dreamed of coming true.

Last Wednesday, while watching my fourth episode of the day of Homeland (don't judge. Just go watch it. It's awesome), I got a text from my boss telling me to check my email.  Before I could make it to my work email account, I saw that I had a new email in my personal account.  Obviously that seemed more exciting, so I checked that first. It was from Kristin, the team manager, at Oiselle. I opened it, saw "Welcome to the Oiselle Team!", jumped up and ran into the other room.  My boyfriend was on the phone, so I just pointed to the shirt I was wearing (Oiselle Start Line), pointed to me, and said "Team! I made the team!" and then proceeded to smile for the rest of the night.  I called my mom, but she didn't answer, so I just sent her a text with a lot of exclamation points that happened to include the words Oiselle and team. Needless to say, I was SO excited and honored to be accepted to this team.  I AM so honored and excited. It makes me giddy just thinking about it!

I first found Oiselle's website about a year ago while probably googling something like "cute running tee shirts" and loved the look of their products.  After buying a few things, I loved more than just the look of them! Then I think it's safe to say that I became obsessed with everything Oiselle. I don't think a day goes by that I don't wear something Oiselle- either on a run, around the house or out shopping. Sometimes the Stripey even makes it to work! And I've figured out a plan for how to get the Happy Hoodie there too!

In case you don't already know how amazing and awesome Oiselle is, first, go to their website and look at their super stylish and fun products. Then, read this about how they got started:

So why a new running apparel company?

Our first year in the market was 2007, however, the idea for Oiselle started several years earlier. After two kids and six years of “just running,” I was ready to train and race again. But what I thought would be a quick trip to the running store to buy new shorts ended in disappointment. Too poofy, too baggy, too high-waisted, and all wrong in the color department.
Over time – and many a long run – that disappointment became an idea. Not only about new women’s running apparel, but also about a new kind of company. One that would draw from my ten years’ experience of branding and marketing for both startups and Fortune 500 companies, and cross-pollinate with the ideas and skills of a select group of partners. So in the end, the question became not so much why a new running apparel company, but why not?
—Sally Bergesen, Founder + CEO

As everyone in the world now knows, the NYC Marathon was canceled.  After the cancelation announcement Friday afternoon, Oiselle tweeted that they were arranging a run for Saturday morning. Even after a late night out Friday night, I set my alarm and made it to the run Saturday morning. And I'm so glad I went! I got to meet and run with Sally Bergesen and some awesome teammates. I knew I was excited about the team before, but after spending only a short time with these people, I was even more excited! Everyone was so nice and welcoming and we ended up having fun doing an impromptu photo shoot along the Reservoir in Central Park!

I couldn't be happier, more excited or more honored to represent this brand that continues to impress me every day. From my first shirt from Oiselle, to multiple pairs of Rogas and countless other tops, I've loved every product.  I love their social media style, I love that they're partnering with Every Mother Counts to raise money for this important organization, I love when they release new products and I love that I'll now get to represent them at every race and while training!  I can't wait to get my team kit and wear it proudly-hopefully in time for the Philadelphia Marathon! But regardless of when I receive my team kit, I know I'll be wearing all Oiselle come November 18!

Head up, wings out

Monday, October 29, 2012

Love trying new products? Try KLUTCHclub!

I hope everyone is safe from Hurricane Sandy!  So far, I'm just enjoying a little forced-vacation and am actually getting my laundry done but it's definitely starting to pick up out there. Be careful!

I was recently contacted by someone at KLUTCHclub and was offered a free box (except shipping costs) in return for a review on my blog.  I had never heard of KLUTCHclub before, but after looking at their website, I thought it was a great idea!  KLUTCHclub assembles a new box each month "of more than $50 worth of nutrition, beverage, supplement, skincare, and fitness products and cost only $16-18 each month and are for men and woman who like to try new products from brands with which they many not be familiar." 

What a great idea!  It gives people a way to test out new products without having to spend a lot of money on products they may or may not end up liking. Plus, I think it's so much more fun to receive a bunch of smaller products than the price equivalent of one full sized product. 

At the beginning of each month, they show what is in the box for the month, so you know what you'll be getting.  While it would be fun for it to be a surprise, it's also nice to know whether you want to spend the money that month or not!  Their prices seem totally reasonable too, since you definitely get more than $18 worth.

Here's what came in my box that arrived a few days ago!

Sorry, slightly blurry, but it tells you what the products are, why they chose them and how to 
use them.

(I should have looked at that chart before trying the Omega3 + D packets. Apparently I'm supposed to mix them with something and not eat it straight from the packet....)

Note: There were two more samples of the Good Greens bites, but one was Chocolate & Peanut Butter (didn't last more than a few seconds) and the other was Chocolate Raspberry. Those types of things never last more than a day with me around. The chocolate and peanut butter one was especially good (but really, have you had anything chocolate and peanut butter that wasn't good???) and I will be looking into buying some more of them!

I haven't tried most of these products yet, because I hadn't taken enough pictures of them for this review, but here are the ones I'm most excited to try!:

DeVita Natural Eyeliner
Pure Matters- protein drink
King Arthur Whole Flax Meal

The only thing that I probably will not try is the Hungershield appetite control drink mix.  I've never been one to use any type of diet supplement- no diet pills or other appetite suppressing products, and I'm not about to start.

That product aside, I think this is a really great idea and I'm excited to see what they're putting in the November box!

Interested in joining KLUTCHclub? Here's a link!

In other news, after running 22 (awesome) miles on Saturday and 7 (tiring) miles yesterday, I'm now officially tapering! And I couldn't be happier!!! My body is definitely ready to lower the mileage, sleep as much as possible (thanks Hurricane Sandy for allowing me to sleep until 11am today!) and eat healthy for the next (almost) 3 weeks until the Philadelphia Marathon!

Stay safe!!!

Have you ever gotten a KLUTCHclub box? Thoughts? Are you prepared for the storm? Are you loving or hating tapering, NYC marathoners? Are you excited, nervous or both?! If you're not running the marathon, are you excited to cheer/watch on TV? 

Disclaimer: I was not paid by KLUTCHclub but did receive the box at a discounted price. I did not have to give a favorable review.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

1 Month to Philadelphia Marathon!

One month from today, I will be running the Philadelphia Marathon.  This still seems far away, but I know it'll go by quickly.

So much is going to happen between now and then.
-My best friend is coming to visit this weekend.
-I have two more long runs to do.
-SO many people are going to kill it at the New York City Marathon on November 4. (Can't wait to cheer for you all!!!)
-We'll know who the President for the next four years will be on November 6. (I'll leave my political views out of this, but PLEASE go my way.)
-I GET TO TAPER! Can you tell I'm excited about this?

I've now been training for this marathon for three and a half months (with two weeks off in the middle due to foot injury). It almost feels like yesterday that I started training, so I know that November 18 (my dad's birthday!) will be upon us (me) so quickly.  It's time to watch my training (hopefully) come together, prepare mentally and TAPER. There's that word again.  It's my favorite.  I can't wait until I'm TAPERING and get to talk about TAPERING. And then get to complain about TAPERING. I've always struggled mentally during TAPERING :) (even when it has only been a week for half marathons) so it should be interesting this time around, with gradually decreasing my miles for three weeks before the marathon. But as of right now, I can't wait for it.  Oh, did I already tell you that I'm excited about it?! Sorry.

This morning, to kick off the last month of training, I ran mile repeats.  Ever since getting tendinitis in my foot back in August, I've been horrible about speedwork.  Meaning, I haven't done it.  I've done LOTS of races (6 in 5 weeks), some tempo runs, and some MGP (marathon goal pace, mom!) runs, but I skipped most speedwork. I dread it. For weeks. It hurts, it's not fun, I struggle and I much prefer to run anything else.  But today, I did speedwork!  I'm running (pun) out of time, and don't want to regret anything on race day, so I got my butt out of bed at 6:25am and out the door by 6:50am for some mile repeats.

On the schedule today was:
8 miles including warm up, 4x1600 in 6:56 with 800 recovery and cool down.

Actually that's not true.  What was on the schedule today was a tempo run, but I did speedwork instead! That's right. I went out of my way to do speedwork for once!  I attempted some 800s last week, but my legs felt like total crap and everything hurt so I only made it through one and called that run a disaster. So today, I made up for it.

Today, I busted out my Oiselle Arm Warmers, which I was told make you feel like a badass (it's true!), and warmed up for a mile.  I always do my speedwork on the east side of Central Park, from 102nd Street to the bottom of the reservoir. That's a mile usually, depending on how my Garmin is feeling on any given day, and it's also the flattest part of the park. However, as you (especially) notice when doing speedwork, it is not ALL flat. There are two inclines while running south, and one while running north. These inclines seem like mountains during speedwork!

So today, here's how my run panned out:

Warm up mile (slow, Garmin was off. Shocker)
1x1600: 6:54
800 recovery
1x1600: 6:48
800 recovery
1x1600: 6:52
800 recovery
1x1600: 6:42
run until Garmin hits 8 miles, slow pace

That's right, my last mile was a 6:42! BOOM!

See you next week mile repeats, and Oiselle Arm Warmers! (I think they're the key to successful and almost-fun mile repeats!)

I'm starting off this last month feeling good. Hopefully it'll continue through to November 18! After my
10k race last Saturday, I'm beginning to finally feel like my training is paying off. With a few more long runs (16-18 this weekend and 20-22 next weekend), some more speedwork, tempo runs, and TAPERING, I'll hopefully be well trained, well rested and ready to RACE on November 18!

How's your training going? Are you TAPERING? Do you love it or hate it? Tell me about it for the next 10 days until I get to start TAPERING!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Proud and Feeling More Confident!

Yesterday I ran the Rock 'n' Roll New York 10k- my fourth 10k race.  I ran this race last year, in it's inaugural year, and it was a bit of a disaster.  Baggage and pickup were horrible.  However, the shirts, medals and course were good, and they promised to make some necessary changes for this year, so I signed up again. Maybe I also have a special spot for this race in my heart because it was my first 10k.

Anthony (boyfriend) was also registered for this race, but as of Friday night, he wasn't planning on running it.  He felt bad about it, although I told him not to.  I woke up a little after 5:30am yesterday, and put my race outfit on (shorts, compression sleeves and a long sleeved shirt, and I put on gloves later), along with sweatpants and a sweatshirt to wear until I had to ditch them- it was only 39 degrees out!  When I came out of the bathroom, Anthony was getting ready too!  I wasn't planning on having him there, since he hadn't run in a week and I knew he was tired, but it was a nice surprise to not have to go to Brooklyn at 6am by myself!

We finally made it out to Brooklyn at 6:40, but had to get to packet pick up by 7am, so we started running.  Fortunately it was downhill and warmed us up because it was COLD!  We finally found the packet pick up/baggage area (note to Rock 'n' Roll- some signs in the future would be REALLY helpful) and got our stuff.  The porta-potty line was relatively short for a race- score! We put our stuff in baggage and were on our way to the start around 7:20am, for a 7:30 start.  We were in wave 1 so were up front and able to see/hear everything going on.  However, at this point I was only wearing my race outfit so it was really cold!  Fortunately Anthony and I hugged/huddled until the start to keep each other warm! Although we probably looked super cheesy! :)

I have the Garmin 110, which is basic, but I love it.  I've always had the auto lap set for a mile, which means that unless I'm constantly doing math in my head (which gets complicated when you're running lots of miles!), I never know my average pace until the end of a run/race.  However, I took my auto lap off, so for the race yesterday, my Garmin was saying my average pace, rather than pace for the current mile.  As a result, I don't have any splits (unfortunately), but liked it much better to have the whole overall race average, rather than the current mile pace.

Course map

The first three 10k races I ran were hard, and I could never figure out how to pace myself.  It's too far to go all out, but not far enough to hold back like in a half marathon. How do you do it?!  Going into yesterday's race, my 10k PR was 47:04, which I set two days before I started marathon training.  For this race, I was hoping for a PR of around 46:30. Nothing crazy, but hoped/thought it was doable.

The race got started a few minutes late, but were finally off!  The first time I looked down at my Garmin, probably less than 0.5 miles in, it said 6:44.  I knew this was too fast, so slowed down a little bit.  I settled into a pace that felt really comfortable- 7:02-ish per mile. What?! This now felt comfortable?!  Since when are low 7's manageable?!  They feel so terrible when I do tempo runs or speedwork around that pace.... However, I wanted to stick with it as long as it was feeling uncomfortably comfortable.  I felt great, was cruising along and was even singing along (not out loud- that would have been painful for everyone) to my music! I hit the 5k mark right around 22 minutes (7:05 pace). Right after that, we made the turn back into the park, and I struggled mentally for the first time.  But I quickly got rid of the negative thoughts and kept thinking, "even if I bonk the last few miles, I'll still PR! But I'm not going to bonk, I can totally do this!" Mentally, I only had a few brief moments of doubt about my pace, or making it up the next Prospect Park hill during the race, and physically, I felt awesome!  I was passing guys left and right, even up the hill the 2nd time! [I've really come to love running races mostly only around guys- it gives me adrenaline every time I pass one, or when they look over their shoulder and see a girl coming up behind them! Sorry dudes...but thanks for the extra help! :)]

I hit the 6 mile mark, turned towards the finish, and picked up my pace as much as possible!  I finished in 44:14, 7:07 pace.  I'm not one to brag or gloat about my times, or even get super excited and proud of myself for PRs (that's dumb, I know I should be happy about ANY PR). But I am SO proud and happy about this. And honestly, I'm still in shock.  I always calculate paces before races (well, also before and after every run, and probably 20 other times throughout the day....runner nerd!) but for this race, I never calculated any paces faster than a 46:00 finish.  Even halfway through the race when I was still feeling good, I was only hoping for 45:xx.  I had no idea that I had this type of race in me. After this 10k, I'm feeling so much more confident about the Philly marathon and about running in general.  I would of course to love to qualify for the Boston Marathon at Philly (sub 3:35)- who wouldn't?!  There, I said it (scary).  After yesterday, I'm feeling much more confident that it might be possible.

When I ran this race last year, my time was 48:13- almost exactly 4 minutes slower than yesterday! And  when I ran the Queens 10k two days before starting marathon training, I ran almost 3 minutes slower than yesterday! Yes it was disgustingly hot and humid, but I definitely didn't have a much faster time in me that day. It's so nice to see some actual and big results come out of this marathon training!

Based on Running Times, McMillan's Running and Riegel Predictor and my new 10k time, my predicted marathon time is between 3:26-3:28! I don't need to be greedy. I'd be plenty happy with even just a few seconds sub-3:35! However, I do have to keep in mind that this is my first marathon and 26.2 miles is, well, FAR. I don't want to be disappointed if I don't BQ, or don't finish sub-4:00. But going into this marathon, the confidence I gained from yesterday was exactly what I needed for my last few weeks of training! I just need to remember to carry it with me through my last few long runs, and on race day.

Official results:

BTW, Anthony also PR'ed yesterday!  I don't know how he does it, since he usually doesn't run more than once or twice a week, but he beat his time by about a minute! Congrats!!!

So, I've now figured out the key to racing a 10k: train for a marathon. I'm a genius and you're welcome. :)

What Garmin do you use, that shows average overall pace, as well as current pace? What did you think of the new course and race yesterday? Are you tapering now?! If you are, I'm jealous of you.

Monday, October 1, 2012

My first trophy!

Yesterday I ran a low key, but totally awesome, race.  It was a 5k in Prospect Park that an organization called Music That Heals puts on every year.  A few weeks ago, I was researching smaller, shorter races in the NYC area and came across this one.  As a former violinist, this is a cause that I think is so important and noble.  The overview of this organization is, "MUSIC THAT HEALS provides musical entertainment to seriously ill children and adults."  While growing up, I played in nursing homes and hospitals more times than I can count. The 20 or 30 minutes that you spend performing for these ill and aging people can have a life changing impact on them (and also on you as a performer), and completely turn someone's day, week or month around.  It gives the ill a chance to take their mind off of being sick, to have something to look forward to and to hopefully put a smile on their faces.  Couple this with running (and a 10am start time!), and I'm in!  

Actually, I almost wasn't in.  After running 4 races the three weekends prior, I was tired, wanted to sleep in, and stayed out too late Saturday night (with a few glasses of wine). When I woke up Sunday morning, I really just wanted to snooze my alarm and crawl back under my covers, but knew that I'd be disappointed in myself if I didn't go, so dragged myself out of bed.  I hadn't picked out an outfit, hadn't thought about what I needed to bring with me for a morning in Brooklyn, and wasn't totally sure where I was going- I still had to pick up my race stuff before finding the start.  

This past week, my running shoes have been bruising the outside ankle of my right foot.  Like, I had an actual bruise the other day from my shoe.  As soon as I put my shoes on and was walking out of my apartment, my ankle started hurting.  I think part of the design on the outside of my shoe isn't flexible enough and rubs my ankle the wrong way.  I took inserts out of my shoes this past week, because they were slightly too short for the shoe and were sometimes hurting my toes.  I think this started causing the problem, because now my foot is lower so it's rubbing in a weird way. I spent most of the subway ride trying to bend that part of my shoe so it wouldn't rub and hurt. Not totally successful. Note to self: put inserts back in/buy longer inserts. And for once, could I just have an awesome, I feel amazing and nothing hurts, week of training?!

Anywayyyy....I got off the train at Grand Army Plaza and began warming up by running the mile to the church where registration was held.  My foot felt decent, but not great.  It was super easy to find registration, and it turns out that it was just a few blocks from the start.  Everything was well organized and easy to figure out.  The staff (and volunteers?) were all very friendly and helpful. A few minutes before 10am, there was a performance of the National Anthem by some people associated with Music That Heals, then we were all walked down to the start of the race.  The course was (almost) one loop of Prospect Park, with the hill just before mile 2.  As I said, this was a low key race, so we just lined up along a piece of duct tape on the road, and were off when they blew the horn.  There were no chips timing this race, so it was up to my Garmin and the clock at the finish line.

The course started on a downhill and I could see that two women were in front of me.  I was feeling good, but then again, I was running downhill. That's usually pretty easy.  By the time that the road flattened out, another woman passed me, so now I was in fourth. My foot and legs were actually feeling fine, and my first mile came out around 6:33 pace, I think (forgot to upload my run!).  Another woman passed me, then I finally passed one woman, so was still in fourth place. I began to feel like I was working really hard, but my Garmin was hovering around 7:20s. What?!  Why is running fast so hard?!  Then the hill came. And took forever.  I've honestly never thought much about this hill in the past, after running in Central Park for years, but yesterday it seemed to last forever.  Just when I thought it was over, I rounded a corner and saw more of it up ahead still.  Finally, I reached the top, and mile two, and knew that it would be an easy run to the finish.  However, I couldn't get my Garmin (or me rather....) to drop below 7:00 pace again.  I should have uploaded my run for exact times...but they weren't that impressive.  Around mile 2.5, a younger girl (found out later she's 16) passed me, to put me in 5th place.  At this point, I felt like I was losing some steam, so didn't have it in me to try to catch her.  The time on my Garmin at the finish was 21:30.

I finished 5th overall female, and 1st in my age group!  Later, "official" results were posted on the church wall and I'm pretty sure it said 21:16 for me.....but that's definitely not possible, unfortunately.  The clock said 21:27 as I was about to finish, so I'll stick with my Garmin on this one, which gives me a 1 second 5k PR!  I was hoping to run faster, but after a late night, wine and not much planning, I'll take it.  They haven't posted the online results, but from what I saw I was 22 overall, out of about 400 people.

I even got a (my first) trophy and a $15 gift card for a RoadID at the awards ceremony! AWESOME!  

This was a great, fun race, for a cause I believe is really important, so it was a feel-good morning and a great way to end September!  I definitely hope to do this race again next year!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Three Loops of Central Park=Super Tiring. Aka 18 Mile Tune-Up Race Recap

On Saturday I ran the 5th Ave Mile and yesterday I ran a NYRR 18 Mile Tune-Up race.  These two things are very different!  Yesterday's course was three counterclockwise loops of Central Park.  Which means three times up the Great Hill, three times up Cat Hill and three times up every other hill in Central Park that normally doesn't seem big, but seems like a mountain when running three loops.

I went into this race somehow thinking that it would be easier than the 5th Ave mile.  I'm not a sprinter and I prefer longer distances, but yesterday was equally hard, or maybe even harder. (Duh, it was 17 miles farther!) Three weekends ago, I ran the Bronx 10 Mile race.  Last weekend I ran the Philly Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon, then the 5th Ave Mile on Saturday.  No wonder I've been so tired the last few weeks- physically and mentally.  While I didn't race any of these races, except for the mile, I ran them all at a much faster pace than a normal long run for me.  I don't think I really took this into account before the 18 mile tune-up.  I just assumed that my legs would be fine and that I could run this easily at 8:30 pace (my goal for this race). But, combine tired legs and lots of hills and this becomes a hard, tiring 18 miles!

Yesterday was a great morning for a race (actually, all of my races this month have had perfect weather!)- slightly chilly and the sun was just coming up as I left my apartment. I made it to the start in just enough time to put my stuff in baggage, look (unsuccessfully) for a few people, spot Laura (you'll hear about her later) crossing through the corrals but too far away to talk to her, and then get ready to run!

Just after 7am, we were off!  I felt great through the first loop.  The Great Hill was in mile one, so I hardly even noticed it since I was just starting and had a little bit of adrenaline.  But the second time up the Great Hill took a lot out of me, and I was really beginning to struggle mentally after about 8 miles.  I knew I was almost halfway, and only had to run the Great Hill one more time, but was feeling fatigued and not super excited to be running.  Right after the halfway point, I saw a flash of green and blue out of my eye as a girl ran next to me.  It was Laura!  She had headphones on so didn't hear me say her name, so I tapped her on the shoulder.  We said hi, asked how the other was doing, discussed our desired pace (at this point, I said 8:30-8:40 for me- wasn't feeling too confident anymore! And she said 8:30 for her) and caught up a bit.  I was able to get out of my head and carry on a (breathless) conversation.  While I definitely noticed that we were picking up the pace, it was great to have someone to run with and make the miles go by faster (literally)!  I asked her to pace me in Philly.  She's running NYC and isn't registered for Philly, but those are just little details, right?!  She didn't say no.... :)

I felt like I was holding her back so was telling her to go ahead if she wanted to, but we stuck together for 6-7 miles.  Running with her (or maybe trying to keep up with her would be more accurate...) made the rest of the 2nd loop, and half of the 3rd loop go by fairly quickly!  I was more tired physically, from runner the faster paces (see the splits below from miles 10-16...that's when I was running with Laura....) but less tired mentally.  And sometimes, your mental state is more important than your physical state on a long run.  After mile 16, Laura started to push ahead, but my lower back was really starting to hurt and I just didn't have it in me to push it to keep up with her. I did, apparently, have some steam left for mile 18 though, which I did all on my own! Yay! I think I just really wanted to be finished. And to sit down. And stretch. And sleep. And give my legs and entire body a break.

Splits from my Garmin:

Official results:

Thank you, Laura, for helping me reach my goal pace for this race!  I definitely would NOT have been able to do it without you!

While this race felt hard, I think it puts me in a really good place for Philly.  I still have 8 weeks left (wow, so long!), and after 3 weeks of tapering before the marathon, my legs will definitely be much more rested and ready than they were yesterday.'s a LOT less hilly in Philly than Central Park.  But then again, most things are when 3 loops are included...

Now it's cutback week! Except that still includes four runs of 8 miles each, which doesn't seem that short or easy to me.... Maybe I'll take these runs to the Westside Highway to get away from the CP hills!

How's your training going?  What did you think of the tune-up race?  What's your next race?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

5th Ave Mile Recap

Yesterday I ran the NYRR 5th Ave Mile, which was my third race in three weekends.  I've never raced a mile before, so honestly didn't know what to expect.  It seemed fun that your race would be over with within a few minutes- something that my previous races as of late have NOT been!

I ran slowly over to the start, and was already tired by my nearly 2 mile warm up! When I got there, I was waiting to meet my former roommate when Stephanie appeared.  Then Jocelyn, Meggie, Jessica and Jenny found us!  It was great to run into friends and have people to hang out with before the start of the race!

There seemed to be a lot of confusion about where we were starting, why we were running with an age group ranging from 15-29 and what the weird barrier in the middle of the road, blocking the corral, was there for!  Finally, the gun (horn?) went off, and people started running and we finally made it into the corral. After the race already started.  Note to NYRR: the barrier that took up almost the entire road was just weird and didn't make any sense.

We got to the starting line fairly quickly and took off.  It felt really hard, but that's probably because my watch said 4:xx.  Um, I'm confident I can't run a 4-anything minute mile, and wanted to quit after a quarter mile, so slowed down!  I also had a really weird tingly tongue sensation- has this happened to anyone else when running fast/faster than you normally do!?  It lasted the entire mile and was so bizarre!

After realizing that I would crash and burn if I kept up my 4:xx pace, I was holding on to a low 6-minute pace, which is what I was hoping for, but that still felt really hard.  I haven't done any speedwork or tempo runs in weeks (bad, I know) so haven't run anything faster than a high 7-minute mile in the recent past.  (Note to self: start doing speedwork again, after my legs recover from 4 races in 3 weekends!)  My legs felt like lead and it felt like I was moving in slow motion, except it felt super hard!  Apparently, I should stick to longer distances!

Here are the official results:

For not doing speedwork or knowing how to race a mile, I'll take it!  And will actually attempt a mile speed trial before this race next year if I do it again...

The race started at 8:55 and was over just after 9am, which allowed me time to have breakfast with a friend, go home and shower, hang out a bit and get back down to 5th Ave and 60th Street in time to meet Kara Goucher!

I love her.  She's so friendly and down-to-earth and genuinely seemed to care about each and every person that she met yesterday.

After meeting Kara, I found a spot right in front to watch the elites run their mile race.  They looked like this. Note: this is NOT how I looked while running. And they finished in 4:xx. Amazing.

You can't even see their shoes they're so fast!

All in all, it was an awesome day!  The weather was perfect, the running was (mostly) fun, it was great to meet Kara Goucher and see these crazy fast elites!!!

Do you prefer to run shorter or longer races? How do you pace yourself for a mile race?