Improving Fitness

Last week I posted about my journey with half marathons.  In the past 3 years, I’ve run 17 total and gone from a 1:41 half marathon to 1:24.49.  I was asked how I did it…and to be honest I don’t have a great answer.

I don’t have an answer of how one day I woke up and dropped 10, nearly 20 minutes off my half marathon time.  I don’t have a clear cut answer about how it came to me easy.

I do have an answer though that I consistently worked at it.  I consistently logged runs when I didn’t want too.  I rested when I needed to and most importantly I tried to stay injury free.

If you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time you can probably guess I don’t follow a training plan.  I never used a couch to 5k and I haven’t had a coach since college.

I haven’t always had linear improvement and I’ve had my fair share of bad races, plateaus and terrible weeks (and months) of running.  I’ve had races that I’ve wanted to hang up the shoes forever.  I’ve had runs that I’ve had to stop early and REGRETTED doing.

I also haven’t stayed injury free (my personal injuries) in the last three years.  I got a tibial stress fracture on my 21st birthday.  I had an overgrown cyst a year and a half ago.  When I am injured I still work hard and cross train.  That is not to say I don’t rest when I need to but I never sat on the couch for 2 months, eating oreos and crying.  I kept living life.  I existed outside of running. I substituted cross training when I was healed enough and got the okay from a doctor.  I continued to work hard.

Part of improving in running is not giving up on yourself.  It’s working hard when you don’t want too.  It’s working hard when you do want too.  Honestly, it’s just working hard for your own personal journey and goals.

The other part of improving in running is knowing your limits. Knowing when you are injuring yourself versus fighting through the pain.  Knowing the difference of endurance pain and injury pain.  I know I didn’t get that lesson until I got my stress fracture and my whole training mentality changed.

There have been multiple days in the last three years that I have decided something felt off and I rested instead.  It plumeted my miles for the week…I didn’t hit my target mileage or goal.  This has been on workout days, on easy run days, and even ON RACE DAYS.  I would rather take a day off or two then take 2 or more months off for injury.  Staying injury free is the most important thing you can do to (in my opinion) to get better.  If you are improving and injured, you don’t have much to showcase for it.

I guess what I’m getting at is running is your own personal journey.  Like anything in life, in order to improve you have to work hard.  You’ll have “bad” moments and you’ll have amazing moments.  Realizing the amazing moments are worth the bad moments is part of the battle.  Realizing that taking a day or week off is not going to hinder your long term fitness is another piece of the puzzle.

These are all just my opinions and how I feel I’ve gotten better and improved.

Question for you:  How do you think you have improved your fitness?

Training (80 miles)

This week has been a solid training week for me.  Not only have I had quality runs (YAY) but I’ve felt like I’ve recovered pretty well from each.  I wanted a higher mileage week before going into a mini-taper for next weekend.   This was actually my highest mileage week in quite some time (possibly since before the marathon).  Please give me my emoji cookies and cake.

Monday 12.2 untimed
Tuesday 12.5 8:00
Wednesday 12.2 6 easy, 6 hard
Thursday OFF
Friday 13.2 8:30
Saturday BOMF 5 miler 6:14
Sunday 15 untimed

 

Thoughts:

The first few days were spent recovering and just going easy.  After last weeks 15 miler, I wanted to relax.  I felt good by Monday which was exactly what I needed to make for a solid training week.  Both the run on Monday and Tuesday felt relaxed.

Wednesday’s tempo run went very smoothly.  My plan was to run 6 easy and then 6 at a moderate pace.  I wasn’t exactly sure what “a moderate pace” would be but I hoped my legs did.  I ran the first 6 miles at an average 7:40 pace.  The second 6 miles I averaged just under 7 minute pace with the last mile at 6:37.  (each progressive from 7:15-6:37).  I was happy and motivated with this effort.

Thursday I took off and Friday I ran easy around my neighborhood and town.  My run on Friday felt really smooth and good.  It went by quickly and was rather enjoyable.

On Saturday I raced on first shorter distance race since January.  I’ll post a recap on Tuesday but it was very windy, rainy and I was (clearly) untapered. (I had planned to do this)  I ran in 31:10 which I’m happy with for the conditions.  My plan was not to taper for this race but speed work through this race.  That is exactly what I did.

To summarize the race: wind and rain and lack of my normal racing hat. (meaning bad hair day)
To summarize the race: wind and rain and lack of my normal racing hat. (meaning bad hair day)

Sunday, we went for an easy long run in the park.  It was rainy and cold.  (whine, complain, whine complain).   Nothing too exciting and it was an enjoyable run despite the weather.

This week was actually a very solid training week for me and I have no complaints.  It was exactly what I wanted and needed.

Next week:

I will be reducing my miles and getting ready for the Atlantic City half marathon.  If the weather conditions are good (which I really hope they are) I am hoping for a PR.

Questions for you: How was your week of training?  What was your best workout?

Vincentown Diner

Right now you could say this is in my top 3 favorite diners and restaurants.  We go once a week as a special treat.  It’s only 15 minutes away, and if we go early enough, it’s never crowded.  Don’t come after six though or you’ll be waiting for a while.

The Vincentown Diner, located in Vincentown, NJ, is a relatively unknown but delicious diner.

Vincentown Diner Atmosphere:

This is one of the “upscale diners” that you don’t expect from NJ unless you live here.  Plus the Vincentown Diner is one of my favorite restaurants in New Jersey, so I can’t bypass it.  It is an upscale restaurant with two separate rooms and a bar.  One room has a bar, and one room does not.  I’ve sat in both several times different times.  I enjoy the seating with the bar, though.

Vincentown Diner Coffee: 

I’ve been to the Vincentown Diner over 30 tomes, and the coffee is always brewed hot and fresh. It also comes in a giant cup. When I get whipped cream, they put a lot.  I have no complaints about this coffee and will probably order it every single time. The theme of Vincentown Diner is Nickle and diming you for everything, and while I find it strange they charge 75 cents per whipped cream, but to me, it’s worth it.  coffeewhipcream

Vincentown Diner Food: 

The Vincentown Diner has a smaller menu compared to other diners but everything is fresh. A few things they are known for are their french toast, organic eggs, mile high meatloaf, mashed potatoes, burgers, and crab cakes.

Currently, my favorite meal at the Vincentown Diner is the special salad with spinach, Gorgonzola cheese, walnuts, and strawberries.  I also get the salmon addition.  Although the salmon is an extra 10 dollars ($$$$). Everything at Vincentown Diner is local.

 

Here is my staple there. Salmon salad with pita bread.

I’ve also had a few other of their salads as well as salmon meals.

Vincentown Diner Dessert: 

Tim and I almost always get dessert here.  Since the dessert is homemade and I can’t cook, it’s worth it.  Though I don’t have photos of every single thing we have tried, we have tried: Red velvet cake, chocolate chip cheese, white raspberry cheesecake, apple cranberry crumble, bread pudding, banana cream pie, and the ice cream.  (wow that is a lot!).

My favorite dessert at the Vincentown Diner is the red velvet cake. My favorite cake is red velvet, so it makes sense.   My issue with the Vincetown Diner is they don’t have all of the desserts all of the time. I like cake, but they rarely have it (maybe only a couple of times a year).

Yes.
Yes.

Cost: $$$$$ (most expensive diner)

One big downside of the Vincetown diner is the cost. For the majority of the meals, it’s 20 dollars a plate.   The food portions are huge, and the food is delicious.

Vincentown Diner Service:

The second downside of the Vincetown Diner is the service. The majority of the time, it feels like the servers or the host has something better to do. They also are always talking about an upcharge for this and an upcharge for that. I get it’s a business, and they need to make money, but it feels as though they look down on you every time they mention an upcharge.

Vincentown Diner Overall Thoughts: 

The Vincetown Diner is a good stop. The quality of food is good. However, it’s the service that often keeps me away.

Overall: B

Question for you: What is your favorite local restaurant? 

Supporting Those in Your Community

This week there were two very public events in the running community. 

First, there was the woman who decided to bandit a half marathon, took selfies along the way and threw in some negative commentary as a bonus.

Second, there was a very well known magazine (SELF) that asked for photos of woman wearing tutus and running races.  After gathering photos they used one in particular (a woman running the race while in the midst of having cancer) and showed her very negatively.  They made fun of her.  They said something along the lines of “do tutus make you faster?” SELF magazine knows if they approached this woman differently and said “Hey do you want to post a photo of you wearing a tutu for our BS meter?” they would not have gotten the same response.  (Here is more information)

——–

As a running community we are just that.  A community of people who partake in the same hobby.  Whether we are elite or whether it’s our very first 5k we are all apart of this community.  Last year at Boston, it became apparent how strong and supportive of a community we are.  You don’t need a tragic event to see that though.  Going to a local road race and watching runners support others, watching youth run, watching the elites or the back of the packers you can truly see how supportive the community is.  It is a beautiful thing to watch a road race take place and the amount of effort, support and love that flows from every angle.

Running road races are expensive, I get that.  I get that no one wants to pay for a race but wants a time and a medal.  There is just something magical about finishing a 5k road race versus running 3.1 miles on your own time.  There are many runners who bandit a race. I can almost guarentee you that at every race there is someone who decides to bandit.

What if every runner started banditing races?  They refused to pay and then just ran?  They took a medal, utalized resources and ran these races.  Then races would not exist.  Without generating revenue they wouldn’t exist.  If you are going to take from the community, then you must give back.  You cannot take and not give back. Unless you ran the exact race course and took nothing (no water, no medals, no anything) then you are banditing the race and not running for free.

We are a community helping each other out.  The police are helping protect you during the race.  The race director isn’t trying to make the biggest profit and skyrocketing the price, they are trying to pay what each person accordingly.  They are heping you and they are helping those involved.  My point is together we are a community.  We are in a relationship together and you are taking more than you are giving when you bandit a community.  You are hurting the community.

The second part of this post comes from the SELF article.  We as woman are also a community.  We are a community that overlaps with running as well as millions of other communities.  Together we stand strong and help each other out.  We should be proud of each others accomplishments (whether it’s running related or not).

What bothered me the most from this article was the overall judgement of someone for what they were wearing to a marathon!

This woman was running a marathon and they were judging her for what she was wearing.

I wish I coud say I haven’t heard of people doing that at race (What is x wearing?  ect) but I have.  Maybe I’ve even been an offender of this statement but this article made me realize it shouldn’t matter.  If someone wants to race in a tutu good for them.  If someone wants to race in designer Gucci…good for them.  They are still racing.  They are still participating in the same race and doing the same thing I am. They are still in the same community.

My main point of the post is this.  Together we are a community and we stand strong.  We are brought together becvause we all love the sport of running, whether it’s a 4 minute miles or a 20 minute mile.  Whether we are streaking or wearing a full body suit.  There are millions of communities in the world and the running community is just one of them.

If you can’t support those in your own personal community…who can you support?  

My Half Marathon Journey

Half marathons are my favorite race distance.  I don’t really have an exact reason why but I have had the most success with the half marathon distance… We like what we are most successful at right?  So I guess I truly believe the reason I love half marathons so much is that I’ve had so much success with them.  There is enough time (for me) to get warmed up and race (5 and 10ks are so short) but neverending like marathon.

I’ve raced a lot of half marathons.  I often forget them all but let me try.   Until I actually compiled this list, I had no idea how many I had actually raced.  I’ve raced a couple of 20ks too but these are all the half marathons.

April 2011 Plattsburgh (1:41) PR
April 2011 Flower City (Rochester) 1:39 PR
May 2011 Run for the Dream (Williamsburg, VA) 1:36.56 PR

Run for the Dream half 2011(Williamsburg) 1:37
Run for the Dream half 2011(Williamsburg) 1:37

March 2012 Shamrock (VA Beach) 1:33.29 PR
April 2012 Plattsburgh (1:27.17) PR and win
April 2012 Flower City (1:29)
May 2012: Run from the Sun (Watertown, NY) 1:33 Win

Myself, dad and my oldest brother Doug
Myself, dad and my oldest brother Doug

May 2012 ZOOMA Annapolis (1:31)

At ZOOMA...
At ZOOMA…This might be my only centered bib ever

Sep 2012: Turning Stone Utica (1:33.33)
Feb 2013 Lake Effect Syracuse (1:31)
March 2013 Shamrock (1:25.15) PR
April 2013 Nike Women’s DC (1:24.49) PR

nikerunning
May 2013 Run for the Dream (1:28) Win
Sep 2013 RnR VA Beach (1:28.39)

lauraheatherandi
Sep 2013 Scallywompus (San Antonio) 1:28.30 Win
Feb 2014 Lake Effect (1:25.32) Win
March 2014: Shamrock (1:25.29)

Some random fun facts:

Hottest: Scallywompus

Coldest: Lake Effect 2012

merussianhat

Best Swag: Scallywompus gave out a huge growler for winning.  Also Run from the Sun gave out wine tour tickets so that is definitely a bonus.  I think in general the best race swag comes from the Shamrock races though.  (That is why I keep coming back).  I cannot remember the item from 2012 (edit: It was a sweatshirt!) but last year we got a blanket and this year was a towel.  (On top of a tshirt and medal and four free beers)

lolz
lolz

Best logistics: Any that I can physically park near the start or finish.  (This probably includes all of the smaller ones).  For the amount of racers Shamrock is very good at parking and logistics too.  Actually any of the races except for DC have been great logistics wise.  The only race I didn’t care for the logistics were Nike Women’s but I am not a city person.

Biggest: Nike Women’s DC  (15,000)

Smallest: Run from the Sun (Probably around 300-400 racers?)

Best On Course Aid (water, fueling, ect): Shamrock, Nike Womens, RnR.  (The pricer ones)

Worst On Course Aid: Run from the Sun had 2 water stations and you end up being in the middle of nowhere without a single person in sight.  There were several times I hoped and preyed I was going the right way because I really didn’t know.

Coolest Medal:  Lake Effect 2014 or RnR Va Beach

Most Zoned Out: Shamrock 2014.  Where did this race go?  In the blink of an eye I was done.

**Nike Women’s gave out a Tiffany and Co Necklace but I haven’t worn it.  It’s not for me honestly.

Overall Favorite Race: Shamrock 2013 .  It was a lot of fun to watch my dad run the full marathon, hang out with my friends, I PRed and the race is fabulous.  Shamrock 2014 and Lake Effect this year are very close runner ups.

Least Favorite: While I don’t have a least favorite or any I regret doing, The Turning Stone half was pretty miserable.  Also Run for the Dream 2012, my ipod broke at the starting line.  The race was hot, hilly and it was the first race EVER that I did without music.  (It is the reason I no longer race with music and haven’t since).

So glad t have finished this one.
So glad to have finished this one (Turning Stone).  This smile is a dirty lie…or the smile of I’m going to the casino now.

States Raced in: NY, VA, TX, MD (also DC_

Placements/Awards:

I’ve won 5 (Plattsburgh 2012, Run from the Sun, Run for the Dream 2013, Scallywompus, and Lake Effect 2014)

Finishing Plattsburgh
Winning Plattsburgh 2012

mebreakingtape1

I’ve placed second or third in 3.

I’ve come in places 3-10 in: 5 (My most notable is 9th in Nike Womens)

And I’ve had multiple half marathons with no placements at all.

Debut half marathon:  The Plattsburgh half marathon in April of 2011.  I didn’t know what to expect honestly.  With less than a full year of running and never having done more than 10 miles beforehand I ran with friends.  I took it out at a pace I thought that seemed maintainable and it was.  I felt so confident crossing the finish line that I could achieve more.

Hilliest: Either the Flower City Half marathon in Rochester or the Run for the Dream half marathon in Williamsburg.  They both have long rolling hills.  I would honestly say that Run for the Dream felt a little harder but that is because it’s also very hot and humid.

One of my first half marathons (Flower City, Rochester).  I was in the top 10 with a time of 1:38 and I was proud...on another note that top gave me the worst chaffing I've ever had in my life.
One of my first half marathons (Flower City, Rochester). I was in the top 10 with a time of 1:38 and I was proud…on another note that top gave me the worst chaffing I’ve ever had in my life.

Most Surprising time: Lake Effect Feb 2014.  I was absolutely not expecting that time at all.

lakeffectwin

Most Surprising placement: Nike Half Marathon I was 9th overall.  It was not expecting a PR either.

Worst Chaffing: Flower City 2012 (bad top…armpit chaffing) or Shamrock 2014 (thigh chaffing was awful).

Regrettable Races: Although I didn’t have the most desirable race at Turning Stone, I’ve fully enjoyed each race.  I don’t regret any races I have ran because I have learned from each one.

Questions for you:

Have you run any half marathons?  How many?

What is your favorite racing distance? 

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