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