Monthly Archives: November 2012

Philadelphia Marathon – Race Recaps from CIR!

Read my Philadelphia Marathon Race Report here! Now, picking up at the finish line…

Post-race: I crossed the line and the tidal wave of emotion I have come to expect but am never fully prepared for washed over me. I shuffled in a daze to get my medal and as he placed it over my head, the ugly, heaving tears started. I had done it! I did not get my 3:49, but I had gotten a PR, I had run an evenly split race and I had done it despite this daggone pain in my groin!   Granted, I could barely walk since my quads and groin were so tight, but no matter, I had done it! Just as I was focusing in on the pain and wishing I was with someone I knew, Sherry and Scott found me! We hugged and compared race notes. They’d had a tougher go of it,  and we soothed some of our raw feelings with chicken soup, which can pretty much solve any problem.

Me soaking up the LaBree love! Thanks for the post-race chatting guys!

I was anxious to see GD  but that anxiety did not translate into speed as my legs were flat out refusing to move at anything faster than a shuffle. We started to walk towards where I knew my family was, but only made it halfway before I tried to call Lil Sis to tell her to come to us – we could go no further. As the phone was ringing, I suddenly saw she and Kat walking towards us!! Yay!! Her laughter filled the air and started to revive me! Sherry and Scott headed off to retrieve warm clothes from the bag check and our merry band headed off towards the rest of the family. Laur told me that GD had a GREAT race and my heart soared!! That was all I wanted to for him and it looks like that wish came true too! I came upon him as he was looking for the other Scott, hoping to cheer him in on his final leg, and when he turned around to meet my eyes, his trademark smile was bigger than ever!!

Oh yes, there was no mistaking it,  GD had had a very good day! He regaled me with tales of his race – how he felt better than he expected, how it went by so fast,  how he inexplicably bumped into a childhood friend at Mile 8 that we did not even know was running (what are the chances among 20,000 people of seeing her??) and ran for a few miles with her!

So let’s hear from the other Cape Island Runners (LaBrees I am counting you among our numbers – don’t worry, CIR is only a litttle cultish. Here, rehydrate with this Kool-Aid) about their races! I asked Sherry, Scott, GD, Tiff and Scott for their highlights, lowlights/lessons learned and future race plans. Here is what they had to say:

That’s me and Sherry under that heap of mylar!


Race Highlight:  I have to be completely honest.  The highlight of my race wasn’t the race itself (this wasn’t a great race for me), but rather every single event surrounding the race.  From the pre-race dinner at Kashi’s house, meeting new friends, snuggling up in a Cape May bed & breakfast, living it up in a lux hotel for two nights… and then downing way too many Insomnia cookies post-race.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a better marathon weekend!  Delightful from start to finish!
Lessons Learned:  More is not always better.  I pushed hard during my training cycle and I paid the price on race day.  When I completed my first marathon in 2011 (also Philly), I made note of that fact that I ran a very good first marathon (3:53) on rather low mileage and only one 20-mile run.  I ran 5 days per week during that cycle and included a weekly medium-long run and just a touch of pace work.  I felt fresh and ready to go at the start of that race and ran very strong all the way through to the finish line.  For my second marathon (Wisconsin 2012), I stuck with the lower training volume, but upped the intensity just a bit by incorporating more pace work and ran my way to my current marathon PR.  This training cycle, I upped the ante… all around.  Six days per week, more mileage, more long runs, more threshold work, more pace work… more everything.  When I toed the line, I was tired.  I felt like I needed another week of taper.  There is this notion in “pure” running circles, that you can’t run a good marathon unless you are putting in a lot of volume.  For me, this doesn’t hold true. I’ve learned that with both the marathon and with long-course triathlon, I actually seem to perform better when I utilize a more low to moderate volume approach and add in intensity.
FutureRace Plans:  I’m taking on Disney’s Goofy Challenge in January 2012 as a fun, no-pressure event (ed note: this is a half-marathon on a Saturday, marathon on a Sunday – and not a Sunday far in the future, but literally 24 hours later!).  After that, it’s all about Ironman Florida 2013.  I’ve taken almost a 2 year break from long course triathlon and I’m excited to get back to it.  I’ll probably do a half marathon sometime in February and then a few low-priority triathlons during my Ironman build.  I plan to revisit the marathon distance in 2014 with a trip to the “Florida friendly” Chicago Marathon.
Obvi not from the race. I stole this from FB because it shows what great shape he is in, but also because you can tell how nice he is from that smile!

Obvi not from the race. I stole this from FB because it shows what great shape he is in, but also because you can tell how nice he is from that smile!

Race Highlight: Course PR!  I also really enjoyed hanging out with everyone before and after the race.

Lessons Learned: Don’t stop and pee!  That course PR could have been a half-marathon PR.
Future Race Plans: I’ll be doing the Goofy Challenge in January and then I’ll move into training for Ironman Florida.  The wife is thinking about doing the Chicago Marathon in 2014 and I think I might jump onboard for that one.


Race Highlight – My answer to that would be the whole thing in that I felt great the entire time and obviously I just loved the cheering, the music, the 20 people in costumes and cross-dressed. And of course seeing Emily and her friend Kari at Mile 8!

Lesson Learned: Don’t drink too much Gatorade! (ed note: GD *might* have puked a bit at the finish and the official race pics *might* have captured some of this – and I would add that Nip Guards really work, nary a bloody nipple in sight!)

Future Race Plans:  Yeah, run a marathon next year (ed note: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

I have no questions for you today, I am too busy being insanely excited that GD wants to tackle to the marathon!!!!! Yahoo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

PS Stay tuned for Tiff’s report on Monday – I asked her the same questions and she sent me back a fully formed race report that I think deserves it’s own post – you’ll love the blow-by-blow from a newbie!

PPS I have not heard from the other Scott yet but will add his if I do! And can we take a minute to enjoy the Mars vs Venus thing we are rocking here – all the girls gave super long, detailed answers and the boys were short and sweet!


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What I Saw When I Ran Wednesdays

For those of you who read food blogs, you will often see a “What I Ate Wednesday” post. Same idea here, except it will be what I saw when I ran on Wednesdays.  So take a peek at what my orbs observed and then add your own experience!

Today was more like “What I Saw When I Walked Wednesdays”. Le sigh. I took a full week off and by Saturday had no pain in my groin. I gave it until yesterday before I tried running and went for a very conservative 2-miler- 1 mile of which went very well! But suddenly, somewhere early in mile two, I started to feel some tightness in my right quad that just got worse as I continued. It definitely was not my groin, but felt like something was not right in my quad- not pulled per se but very, very tight. Hmm. Later that night I  happened to be reading Amby Burfoot’s excellent article in Runner’s World about longevity in running – he has been running for 50+ years so I tend to believe he knows what he is talking about! Of course, there was a whole section about injury prevention/treatment and of course it highlighted the importance of backing off when injuries flare up and of course I wanted to ignore it… but then I again thought back to the speech I gave myself at mile 23 of the race which was “don’t give up, don’t give up… body, if you don’t give up I promise, promise, promise you I will take good care of you afterwards”. So I am resigning myself to a bit more time off, as I have BIG plans for the spring (more to come on that!) and must be ready to train all winter. For once, I am going to be smart and heal properly. Whether I can do that without going completely insane is another matter all together but at the very least I will show my body that when I make a promise, I keep it. So here is what I saw on my walk (happily, the pain does not rear up when walking):

No run today, just a walk at lunch at Tuckahoe

Walking along means you can check out bark on trees, so that is a plus.

The sky also cheered me up – yesterday was so dreary that I really appreciated the return of the sunshine today 🙂

Part two of my walk (it was like a double day in running except a lot easier) was this evening with GD under the watchful gaze of the gorgeous moon, Jupiter and the lighthouse.

What did you see on your run today?

When was the last time you were injured? How did you cope?


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Spectating Report: W.A.R.T.S. (We All Run Together For Sandy) 5k!

It all started, as  these things often do, with a group of friends and a fridge full of beer. We were converged at Lisa and Carrie’s for a girls night dinner and were up to our eyeballs in all things XX (as in the chromosome, not some watered down version of XXX, lol). The conversation rolled around to Lil Sis’ 12 Running Goals of 2012 (click here and here for previous adventures), where she told us that November was “run with someone new” – they could be new or old to running and new or old to her, but they had to be someone she had never shared miles with. She was told us how she planned to do this on the morning of November 24th with a few friends from work.  Moe (of my very-favorite-and-should-be-yours -too The Sneaker Shop) had recently received an email from a  woman named Cindy Bradley, who was wondering if someone could organize a charity run for Hurricane Sandy victims. Moe did the “people who want to help Sandy survivors” and “people who have running goals to complete” math and VIOLA! WARTS was born! (hmm, are warts born? or is it more like they are contracted? poor WARTS already suffers abuse from its fellow acronyms – ohh, SCUBA and LASER, you think you are so chichi! – and “WARTS was contracted!” is only likely to garner further teasing, so let’s stick with “WARTS was born!”, mmmkay?)

We had a good laugh, one of many that night, when Patty came up with the WARTS acronym, but when you stop to think about it, it’s kinda perfect. It concisely states our intention: “We All Run Together for Sandy!”. And although warts are not really anyone’s favorite thing in life to deal with, so too are they a fact of it. They share this distinction with hurricanes – no one wants to live with or through hurricanes, but they are simply a part of living in a coastal system. Like warts, some will be worse than others and Sandy certainly was a doozy. We hope to never see the likes of her kind again in our lifetime, but if we do (and as a scientist I am sorry to say that  at the very least it is likely we will deal with more flooding than we have in the past simply because of sea level rise – not gonna get all climate-y on you because no one really knows what the impacts of climate change will be, but now is probably a good time to pull our heads out of the sand and make some plans on how to adapt to our ever changing environment) we know that the runners among us will come together on a bright, beautiful morning and do what we do best:

I think the saying goes “never doubt that a small group of runners decked out in brightly colored technical clothes can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” Or something like that 🙂

Lisa gives the pre-“race” directions – run down to the music pier and back and try not to get blown away by the wind!

Some of the kids tore out of the fitness center, intent on making good time to the boardwalk. And who can blame them when this view awaited…

A breathtaking day on the boardwalk – and breathtaking not only for its beauty, but also for that cold wind! Apparently Sandy-like winds also thought they were invited. “The more the merrier”, the runners said, gritting their teeth, grateful at least for the ample sunshine and uncrowded conditions.

Here comes our fearless leader, Moe!

And check out this cluster of WARTS! Nothing can wipe the smiles from their faces, warts and hurricanes be damned!

Here comes Running Momma and two new buds! Love how easy it is to make friends when you are pounding the pavement… er, boards.

Bel and Laura looking strong! This was Laura’s first 5k, CONGRATS LAURA!! She liked it so much she is going to do another with Bel next weekend *heart flutters in happiness*

Observant eyes will recognize OC fixtures Sue and Terry from the boardwalk where they log many, many, many miles. With their speed and dedication, they are both inspirations to me.

The brain trust behind WARTS! L to R: Carrie, Janet, Moe, Patty and Lil Sis. I have known these women for going on a decade (well, a hair longer for Lil Sis!) and they have been instrumental in my growth as a runner and a person. These are some of the faces I miss the most when I set out on solo runs in Cape May. Love you ladies!

Two sets of Sissies!! But the reason is really important because of the sissy in the pink zip up – that is Heather, Carrie’s sister. She spearheads a chapter of Girls On The Run in Pennsylvania and her “girls” donated a SUVload of food to the effort!

Heather’s daughter and nephew, Emma and T.J., hold up a poster the New Garden Girls on the Run sent along with their food. If the idea of 8-13 year old girls gaining self-confidence through running and then being big-hearted enough to donate food to people they have never met from another state does not sell you on the benefits of running, I am not sure anything will. THANK YOU HEATHER AND NEW GARDEN GOTR!!!

And here are what some of those Girls On The Run might look like in 10-50 years. Talk about advertising for how healthy, happy and generous running will help make you (cute socks optional)!

One windy but beautiful run and piles and piles of food/cleaning supplies and $800 (!!) later, our WARTS 5k came to a close. Ocean City again showed it’s unwavering ability to seek out the good in the face of disaster and my heart hummed with pride for my old home and the friends who make it such a special place to live. Congrats to everyone who spent a little bit of time and a little bit of money to show Sandy what Jersey Strong looks like! And extra thanks to Moe, Patty, Janet, Bridget, Lisa and Carrie who showed us all just how fun WARTS can be!

PS I did not run since I am still nursing my groin injury –  I expect to be running this week, yay – but I did enjoy my time as staff photographer, which distracted me (almost) from how sad it was not to run!

PPS Thanks to Lil Sis for making her 2012 Running Goals, they have all been a blast! What will you do for 2013??

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Race Report – Philadelphia Marathon 2012

Disclaimer: I know this shiz is long, but I write these more for myself than anyone else so I can refer to them in the future to help me remember what worked and what didn’t. Apologies for the length, feel free to just check out this post  if you prefer short and sweet. Then again, if you are a marathoner, you probably don’t – so here’s the long and dirty version!

Pre-Race: I woke up Saturday morning with an ominous pain in my upper right groin.  Chalking it up to phantom race pains I went about my day, but this little poltergeist made itself at home, unpacked its bags and set up shop. It was clear by day’s end it was here to stay. I had a mini-meltdown in our hotel room that night, but pulled myself out of it through a combination of pep talks from Lil Sis and GD and by remembering that one of my race goals was a well-executed race, to “assess the situation and move on despite whatever obstacle is thrown in my way”. So I treated it like an obstacle and made a plan to get up and over it. This included a good meal (pasta with chicken and red sauce at Maggiano’s, a hot bath and good night’s sleep at Sofitel, highly recommend this hotel) and an attitude adjustment from “oh, no!” to “oh, yes!”.

Toasty warm at the start with Sherry and Tiff!

Pre-Gun: Woke up bright and early and started getting ready – this included a trip to Sherry’s hotel room for some Tylenol and Voltaren gel , eating a bagel, taking a shower and running around like a chicken about to run a marathon with GD – this was the first time we were both getting ready for a race and it added a new level of chaos that I was not expecting. We finally got our bibs and GUs and throwaway clothes and Garmins and extra toilet paper and last minute snacks and tumbled out into the pre-dawn air. Due to said chicken running and extra layers, I was downright hot on the way to the start line, no need for chemical hand and foot warmers today. It wasn’t too cold, it wasn’t windy, it was clear and it was perfect! We chatted nervously and followed the sea of humanity to the mouth of the river – the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Upon arriving, we all needed to tend to our own pre-race tasks and split up. Saying good-bye to your compatriots right before a race is akin to going off to war (well, more like video game war since no one is in any actual danger)– you send them off with high hopes and steal yourself for your own battle. It’s suddenly just you and the clock and when you walk alone to your corral, the whole thing starts to feel very, very real.

Miles 1-5: I was in the green corral, which went off 12-ish minutes after gun time. We shuffled to the start line (as is always the case in large races – no room to run yet!) and crossed the mat among a cacophony of Garmin beeps. I was scanning the sidelines for my parents – my dad saw me but I was not so lucky to see him. Once we got up near Willy Penn, I knew that I would not be seeing them ‘til Chestnut and turned my attention to the task at hand – running this mother! I am a slow starter and that is pretty much what everyone is in Mile 1 of a marathon is, but my goal this time was to run a more evenly paced race. When I saw 9:17 for the first mile, I was pleasantly surprised since Mile 1 is usually closer to 10:00 for me. Although I had aways to go to get to race pace (I was hoping for 8:45s), I also had aways to make it happen! I used these early miles to dial into my pace and get into the right head space. I also paid my respects, as I am apt to do during a race, to all these other people who were all out here for their own reasons but sharing my same goal of completing a marathon on this bright, beautiful morning. Go, strangers!

Thank you Canada, I mean Kat, for your support! Kat, I hoped you also high-fived the girl in blue behind me, she looks like she wishes she had some friendly blue gloves to slap.

Miles 6-10: This is one of my favorite stretches of any race, ever. The beginning is along Chestnut Street, which is jam packed with spectators. It was here I saw my favorite race sign: “Nate Silver predicts you have a 100% chance of kicking this race’s ass”. I gave lots of high fives and just like clockwork saw my family + Kat at Mile 6.5, where they always are. It is great to have this kind of history with the race – I always know where to find them even without coordinating beforehand. Seeing them gave me a boost (ran that mile 7 seconds faster than the two that bookended it) but there was one noticeable difference– no GD! Today he was out there running his own race and I got a little choked up thinking about him, fighting his own battle. I made do with the “ghost of races past GD” and pictured him running down the sidewalk yelling “Go, Kashi!!” as he is wont to do, which made me smile as much as always.  I also noticed that since I was working harder than usual, the crowds in the narrow streets and tight turns bothered me more than when I am just cruising. I thought “Move it, people! Kashi train coming through!” wayyy more than normal (where normal =  never)! The rest of this section included an awesome drum circle near the zoo bridge, the big hill at mile 9 and the big downhill after 🙂 I enjoyed this section immensely, I thought about GD a lot, everything in Kashiland was solid and I was pretty happy with my splits. I felt like I was on track for at least doing a stronger first half than usual.

The amazing cheer zone at Mile 11! (source)

Miles 11-15: Mile 11 brought my favorite cheer zone, which is the group dressed in crazy, tight, colorful costumes dancing to songs like “2 Legit 2 Quit” . I love these guys and look forward to them every year. This year there seemed to be more kids in their contingent than usual, so am wondering if they are indoctrinating as the next generation of Philly spectators – yeah, Philly 2022!!

One thing marathons have taught me is that the good times don’t last forever and by Mile 12, I started having some serious groin pain. I think the hills and the cambered roads took their toll – it was funny because it seemed that one minute I was barely aware of it and the next it was all I could feel.  I used Scott Jurek’s 4-step checklist (more on this in a later post) and allowed myself a mini-pity party before moving on and assessing what the situation was and what could be done about it. I thought to myself “ the situation is that my groin FUCKING HURTS AND THIS SUCKS!” This made me laugh and then I thought “Ok, but what can I do about it?”. I decided that I would keep going, consider stopping if it got (much) worse and would reward myself with some Tylenol at Mile 16, assuming I made it that far (ok, let’s be honest – I was finishing this sucker come hell or high water so it was more a matter of how I would finish – running or dragging my sorry self across the line ). I got through the halfway point at 1:57:25. At Chicago in 2009, I ran through the half in 2:02:54 so I consoled myself that even if the wheels came off now, I managed to accomplish my goal of running a faster first half. This thought propelled me through the next few miles, which are hard mentally because you have so much to go and if you run at my pace, you are already seeing the elites come back with mere minutes until their pain ends. I cheered as they passed and plowed on.

Miles 16-20: I dreaded these miles when envisioning the race beforehand, thinking they would be the hardest of the lot. You still have many miles ahead of you, yet plenty already completed so that if you are giving an honest effort, the fatigue is beginning to set in. Plus, you know it is only going to hurt more from here on out. But a funny thing happened on the way to my S&M party – it never got that bad! This is where I think the ultra training really came in handy. I knew when I got to mile 19, we would be in Manayunk and there would be eye candy galore. So I really only had to get through 5 hard miles (14-19) and honestly, that did not seem too bad! My groin continued to make a fool of itself by hooting and hollering and causing all manner of ruckus in my body, but importantly, it was not getting worse. I popped Tylenol in Mile 18 (just before a nasty climb in this weird extension of the course), paused my music to listen to the Rocky theme they were blaring and pressed on.  Manayunk provided just the atmosphere I needed and I enjoyed it as always – the beer guys, the drummer guy and the party it always is buoyed my already high spirits. At the turnaround, I thought back to when Lis Sis and I ran this race in 2005 and at this same spot she looked at me and said “Let’s go home!”. She said it to me again in my mind’s eye and I thought “Yes, let’s!”.

Almosssst there!!

Miles 21-26.2:  Still waiting for that Tylenol to kick in! Nope, no such luck, did not notice any improvement. I tried to tell myself, “well, imagine how much worse it would feel if you did not take it!” but that thought brought no relief, so I abandoned it 🙂 I was distracted briefly by seeing Lisa as I was leaving Manayunk , which was super exciting! My body was feeling tired, but oddly all my pain was in my groin and quads. Usually by this point my hammies, ankles and feet are crying uncle, but they stayed Jersey Strong the whole race. I decided this was a plus to running with an injury – you are so focused on it that you don’t feel anything else. During this stretch  you start seeing carnage on the side of the road – people crying, people stretching, people cajoling their various body parts, making all sorts of promises they won’t keep to convince their bodies to solider on.  I silently sent good vibes to them and moved on, clicking off the miles on my fingers. Throughout the race, I had been looking for the runners I knew, scanning the faces of the people running in the opposite direction of me. It was in this section that I ran out of energy to even do that. Instead I channeled Lisa and thought of how she tells us to “look straight ahead and run your line”. I did just that, locked inside my own world while surrounded by thousands of others.

I watched as my pace slowed and it is this point in the race that I am really proud of. I am used to negative splitting, so the late miles are often my fastest. Watching my splits go in the wrong direction was tough, but instead of beating myself up about it, I just told myself not to give up. I was running as hard as I was capable of and decided that as long as I was doing that, I’d call it a success. I told myself that I was running slower than usual because I ran a faster than normal first half and that it was a good thing. I hit Mile 25, always my nemesis mile, and felt good. Buuut about halfway through it I started feeling terrible, which my split shows! Damn you, Mile 25! Moving past that, I could see the art museum and again marveled at how one little mile can feel so incredibly long. The crowds began to thicken and usually I’d hit pause on the music to listen to their cheering,  but I kept my laser focus straight ahead and let Mumford and Sons lead me home. Every muscle in my quads was begging for me to stop and the rest of my body was starting to agree that this would be a very, very good idea. I turned up my music even louder and drowned out these thoughts, concentrating only on putting one foot in front of the other. Coming down the last stretch, I heard my family yelling for me, which was the sweetest sound in the world! I had the mental acuity to notice that Mayor Nutter was handing out high-fives and made my way over to him to claim my prize! Yes, Mayor Nutter, I did just PR by 4 minutes, I did just run an evenly split race and I did not give up!!! I will take that high-five, thank you very much!!!

Post-race: This monster of a post is already too long, so I am saving this section for another day 🙂

Nutrition: Nailed it! Pre-race I ate a cinnamon raisin bagel and sipped about 11 ounces of water. During the race I had 3 GUs (PB, Lemon Sublime and Mint Chocolate), taken on the :45 and :05 of each hour (1/2 packet each time), just as I’d practiced. I drank a full cup of water at every other water stop and had 3 cups of Gatorade in there as well (1 in first half, 2 in second). My stomach mostly accepted the Gatorade with little grumbling, which was a plus.  In the finisher’s chute, I had a cup of Gatorade which made my stomach grouchy and a cup of chicken broth (which continues its reign of best post-race food EVER!) which calmed it back down. About 3 hours later I had a turkey sandwich. It takes my tummy some time to get back to normal after a long run and I wasn’t really hungry the rest of the day, but I made myself eat just the same. Thanks Whole Foods!


First Half –       9:17, 8:40, 8:43, 8:51, 8:48, 8:41, 8:48, 8:51, 8:36, 8:44, 8:52, 8:44, 8:51

Second Half – 8:50, 8:36, 8:47, 8:50, 9:15, 8:47, 8:58, 8:45, 8:49, 8:50, 8:46, 9:03, 8:56

.51 – 8:21 (pace, time was 4:13)

Chip Time: 3:54:05 for 26.2, 8:55 pace

Garmy Time: 3:51:xx for 26.2, 3:54:03 for 26.51,8:49 pace

Final thoughts:  Although I did not get my 3:49 (that was my super duper time goal), I did manage to get everything else right, which means this day was a winner! Nutrition and hydration were perfect, I got close to my goal pace and I ran a smart, even race. I pushed through the groin injury, mentally and physically. Is it the smartest thing to run on a pulled/strained muscle? No. Am I saying you should do the same? Nope. Am I saying it was the right decision for me that day, given how much races mean to me and how depressed I would be with a DNS versus the downtime I would need to recover from it? Absolutely.

When thinking ahead to future marathons (which started for me the minute I high-fived the Mayor), I think I might try a tougher plan. While I enjoyed the Runner’s World Intermediate Plan and feel it had me well prepared for what I did, I know I can do more. I am ready to do more. So bring it on!

How cute are these guys? Go Cape Island Runners!

Stay tuned for a post-race entry to find our how Sherry, Scott, GD, Scott and Tiff made out!

How was your fall race?

What are some lessons you have learned during races?


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What I Saw When I Ran Wednesdays

For those of you who read food blogs, you will often see a “What I Ate Wednesday” post. Same idea here, except it will be what I saw when I ran on Wednesdays.  So take a peek at what my orbs observed and then add your own experience!

I don’t mind a few days or even a week off after a race but it is very unsettling when you are resting because you are afraid that you have a groin injury that might not take the hint that it is a very unwelcome guest. Only time will tell, but for now all I can do is rest, ice and repeat.

Boo to resting! And with such nice weather out there, it’s a crime!

In unrelated news, today marks the 4th year anniversary of my first date with GD! He knocked on my door that night with a pineapple and chocolates (his version of flowers – it totally worked, I go weak in the knees for quirkiness)  and changed my life forever. We ro-sham-bo-ed for the first of many times  that night to help us decide between Vietnamese and Mexican (Mexico won. Please go eat there right now if you have never before – it will totally ruin your ability to stuff yourself tomorrow but it’s worth it!) and had a first date that lasted until 6 am. I don’t have any pictures from that night but here is one from about a month later:

This was New Year’s Eve 2008 at Dave and Meg’s in Atlanta. Best NYE I’d had in a long, long time.

We’ve been inseparable ever since and even tonight when we are just chilling on the couch due to GD’s cold and our lack of funds (marathon weekend was very fun, tho!) and my bum groin there is literally nowhere else I’d rather be. Ok, maybe a deserted island with a warm breeze and lot of birds and places to run and an unlimited supply of Kashi food (me) and amazing bar-be-que (GD), mayyyybe there. But barring that? I’ll take our cozy cottage by the sea any day of the week.

What did you see on your run today?

Happy Thanksgiving!


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Philadelphia Marthon Preview

Full race report to come (at this point all I can manage is shuffling around, nevermind putting together actual sentences!) but wanted to post a few details of an incredible day.  Here’s the ClifNotes version:

Goals met? Almost! Got myself a shiny new PR – 3:54:05 (ugh, those dang 5 seconds are taunting me!) chip time, 3:51:xx Garmy time (remember, people always run a course long – so I hit 26.2 on Garmy at 3:51:xx but by the time I got to the official finish line, distance was 26.51). My super secret, just out of reach goal was 3:49:xx, so not bad! Gives me something to keep working towards 🙂

A few pics of the day:

GD KICKED ASSPHALT!!! More on this later, but could not have been more impressed with him! Just when I thought I knew all his tricks, he pulls another rabbit out of his hat.

My mom makes the best signs (click to enlarge). HUGE thanks to her and Dad for being there for us today!

We lost Diane and Samsters to injury and sickness (next time, guys!) but everyone who toed line line made it through to the other side!!! So super proud of GD, Scott and Tiff! Way to go!!!

Love running with the LaBrees. Who knew when we were running around a pool deck that we would one day be running in endurance events?! Great weekend with these two!

Lauren and Kat continued their super supportive spectating mixed with sexy photoshoot – this time with a fountain instead of a tractor (as in the ultra). 10 more races and we’ll have enough for a calendar!

Come back later this week for the full recap!




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Eve of the Eve

‘Twas the night before marathon weekend and all through the house,

Carbs were being loaded, compliments of my insanely adorable cooking spouse.

I admit that I don’t get the same thrill from Christmas as I did as a child, but I still experience those same sensations of December 25ths of days gone by on marathon weekend. This one is especially exciting since I am sharing the experience with a fantastic group of friends and my husband. Tonight we came together under the benevolent eye of the lighthouse and spent a few hours in the way that only runners before a big race can – by stuffing our bellies with stupid good food, sharing stories of races gone by and fears for the one to come.

We feasted on this beautiful pre-race meal – roasted acorn squash stuffed with black beans and veggies, topped with a poblano sauce and chipolte adobo pulled chicken. And yes, it was as amazing as it sounds! Ice cream, ginger cookies and chickpea blondies for dessert, accompanied by some bubbly, beer and Gatorade 🙂

We popped the race map up on our tv and geeked out to all things course, gear and clothing related.

“Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” Oh, Girl Scouts, how right you were! A runnerific night bringing together some of my favorites.

We spent the night celebrating the runners we are (and have become!!) and when we said good-bye to our friends, I felt just as I had many times as a child on Christmas Eve… wrapped in a warm cocoon of happiness and love, contentment in this moment mixed with unbridled excitement for what is to come. Now, if I could only figure out the marathon equivalent of laying on my back and staring up into a starlit tree.

What are some of your pre-race meals?

Do you still feel the same about Christmas/Hanukkah/holidays as you used to?


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What I Saw When I Ran Wednesdays

For those of you who read food blogs, you will often see a “What I Ate Wednesday” post. Same idea here, except it will be what I saw when I ran on Wednesdays.  So take a peek at what my orbs observed and then add your own experience!

Last real run before the maraaaaathon!!!! I was planning on posting a picture of me with my legs up today, resting, but yesterday’s crudilicious weather bumped that run to today. I laced up, stepped out into the sunshine and enjoyed 4 miles with 4 30-second pick-ups.  Here is what I saw:

It was finally a cold enough and a short enough run that I tried running with my compression sleeves without worrying about overheating and if I could get through the miles without going crazy if they were too annoying. Good news is they were super comfortable and delightful!

I kept looking at Garmy and thinking “you ready, buddy? We’re going to 26.2 and beyond in a few days!”

This is what passes for hillwork in south Jersey. God help us!

Everywhere I looked were reminders that a marathon was right around the corner! I’m not sure anyone else read this sign and thought about pasta fueling their race… but then again, we are in the heart of Philly marathon land, so maybe a few other runners noticed it too!


Every mile was infused with the smell of fallen leaves. Add in a brilliant blue sky and it was a quintessential November day.

Great day for a run, for sure!
When you are not-so-patiently waiting for a race, what reminders taunt you?

What did you see today?





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Marathon Training Recap – Weeks 13-16

Instead of recapping my marathon training on a daily or weekly basis, I am going for the corporate-style quarterly update. I am hoping to provide some business style charts, a la:

Since there are 16 weeks of training there will be 4 updates. Each one will be comprised of the quarterly report (like in business, but with less corruption and pantyhose. oh, and no bogus bonuses) and a topic germane to marathon training. So check out how I have been making out and then let us all know how your training is going (marathon or any other distance/race)!

Update 1 – Weeks 1-4

Update 2 – Weeks 5-8

Update 3 – Weeks 9-12

Update 4 – Weeks 13-16

Quarterly Report

Summary: The last quarter of a 16 week training cycle is a study in contrasts – the first week is your peak week of training and the last week features the big day, whilst the middle portion is a period of relative calm and reduced mileage. And by relative calm, I mean the kind that involved less running and more worrying (Will it rain? Can I hang onto my pace? Wait, I feel a tug in my hamstring – omg, please, please don’t let my muscle tear!? Umm, thank you for my change cashier lady, but you clearly coughed about 3 customers ago and now I need to figure out a way to stop letting those dollars act as a vector between me and your West Nile virus – you know what? You keep it! Yeah, I’d like to donate that money to the octopus juvenile diabetes research society that you are collecting money for! What’s that?  Oh, no, no need for my name on a star to hang up around the store, I don’t need the recognition, I am just doing this because I really believe in the power of the people to come together for what’s right!). Come to think of it, there is a lot of problem solving in Q4! lol

Peak week was fantastic. I kept expecting to feel beat up and ready for taper, but I just felt very strong. I am not sure what to make of this – either training for an ultra really DOES make that big of a difference (in terms of volume and mental preparation) OR I did not train hard enough this cycle. Guess which Anxious Annie over here is worried about??

Tapering going swimmingly – the first week of taper was 80-90% of peak mileage, so did not feel like too much of a break. Last week was definitely a noticeable decline and this week is just my body being all “waaaaait, a minute. What is going on here?? Where is all the running??”.

Tweaks and Twinges: Everything still feeling good! Last week a weird sensation popped up in my left upper hammie, but I am about 99.9999% sure it is just me freaking out due to the fact that the only time it hurts is when I am thinking about the run, lol. I often get ghost pains during taper, so this is right on schedule!

Mental Runitude: Mixed. I feel very good about the training I did. I did not have to skip any runs (though I did bag two sessions of speedwork and just put the miles in those days). I am happy with the times I was posting and am trying to recall those confident feelings of a few weeks ago. But I would be lying if I said that I was not also worrying about if it was enough, or if I should have picked a harder plan. I won’t actually know that until this time next week, so for the next few days I have to ignore the doubts the best I can, and try to claw my way back to invincible me.

Topic du Quarter: RACE GOALS

Almost everyone who runs a race of any distance has a goal for it – even those of you who don’t get giddy checking things off a list (who are you people?! do you realize what you are missing??) are still toeing the line with at least one – to finish. But for many of us, especially when you start running the same distance multiple times, setting goals is part of the motivation to get your booty out the door on each and every one of your training runs. And as someone who is highly goal-oriented, figuring out what I want from a race is one of the most satisfying parts of the process.

With experience, I have come to realize that if you set a time goal, it is important to set multiple ones for contingencies.  This is partly because these goals are so capricious. When many of us pick a time goal, we do so envisioning perfect weather, a course that is easy to navigate, that our bodies will perform perfectly and a million other variables that are impossible to predict and even harder to get to align on race day. So for time goals, I often pick a few. For Philly they are:

1. Finish (best to start small)

2. Break 4 hours

3. Break my PR

4. Run a 3:xx:xx (yes, I am keeping my actual time goal to myself for now, but I will let you know if I make it in the recap!)

I also believe that if you restrict your goals to those of the hourglass variety,  you are robbing yourself of other lessons that can be learned. For example, a good goal can also be to nail nutrition, especially if this is something that has tripped you up in the past. It could also be to run the course efficiently and get your Garmy time as close to your chip time as possible  (Explanation: when a marathon course is created, the shortest possible route is measured. Almost everyone who runs it will run longer than this distance because it is very hard to run it that well- but you can definitely do things that will help you keep your numbers down, like running the tangents and keeping weaving in and out of people to a minimum. It might not seem like much, but over 26 miles, this adds up! Lots of times after a race you will hear newbies complain that the course was long, that their Garmins had them at 26.4 or 26.5 miles – but it’s not that the course is long, it is that they ran it long).

For me, my overarching Philly goal is to run a well-executed race. I feel like I am building enough experience with the distance that I can start dialing in particular components. For me, this will be nutrition and distance, as mentioned above, but also pacing (I’d like to run by feel and that feel be my goal pace without having to look at Garmy’s beautiful face every two steps!). Finally, I want to get better at making adjustments to my plan on the fly – this is something I am not good at in a race OR in life! If things go wrong, and they will, I don’t want to panic and send all my hard work out the door with negative thoughts of not meeting my goals. Instead, I want to be able to regroup, assess the situation and move on despite whatever obstacle is thrown in my way. I don’t struggle with quitting, so that’s not an impulse I have to fight, but I do have a tendency to lose my shit when things go off plan. This is what I will be working on for this race (and in life, lol).

So that’s it! Come back next week to find out where all this hand wringing led me!

What are your race goals?

How do you react when the wheels fall off?


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Taperworm Diaries – Entry #1

Some people have the deep misfortune to be struck with tapeworms in the brain. But there are those of us that are a lot luckier and only have to deal with taperworms. No one really knows how they get infected, but it is almost a guarantee that symptoms will begin 2-3 weeks before race day. The worm starts small – maybe you feel some butterflies when you think of the start line or casually wonder what you will wear for the run. As the days tick by, symptoms often get worse. The following is a diary entry from a patient with full-blown taperworm madness. Note that during the later stages, the victim will start bonding with her captor, Stockholm syndrome style.

Dear Diary,

My brain is not my own. I have found myself doing the following over the last week:

1. Checking the AccuWeather extended forecast daily and letting the temperatures dictate my mood-  the upper 40s and warmer with sun= elated Kashi while cloudy with upper 30s to low 40s = nail-biting Kashi.

2. Looking forward to 11/9 when I could FINALLY see the 10-day forecast on no less than three weather websites.

3. Staring idly at this hypnotic wind map and wondering what Aeolus has in store for us. To be fair, staring idly at this map is something I do even when not infected with taperworms, but the difference is that I don’t usually look for hidden messages about how the race will go in its mesmerizing rivers of air.

4. Crying at anything even remotely emotional, including but not limited to, thinking about the NYC marathoners who will get the chance to run in Philly, scenes from Cloud Atlas, Sandy destruction, love I have for my sister, frustration during commutes and thinking that I was getting a cold (I was not -buuuut I probably just jinxed myself. Damn!).

5. Eating everything in sight, despite the fact I am running less. The taperworms need nutrition and I am happy to oblige but I am not sure my pants are on-board with this plan. However, the pants don’t wear the pants around here, so I continue to munch.

A starting line horn is the only known antidote so I just have to hold on for 9 more days. There is no escaping the taperworms, and truth be told I kinda like them. They remind me that despite the fact that this race means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things, it means an awful lot in my little scheme of things. So the taperworms and I will be strange bedfellowing it for the next week –  we’ll have movie night (paging Spirit of the Marathon!) while we chow like queens on carbs and worry endlessly about weather and imaginary injuries.


How are your taperworms treating you?

What do you do in the days leading up to a race?


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