TCS New York City Marathon me running
Running, Running Reads, Training

November Training

November brought a whole bunch of a lot of things. I ran my fourth marathon, took some time off, and now am getting back into running again. I didn’t really have a “goal” for November but to run the marathon, take time off, and then get back into running.

Miles Run: 150ish

Range of Paces: 6:34-11:15-untimed

Rest Days: 12


TCS New York City Marathon (3:27.19)

Cpl. Marc T. Ryan Memorial 5k (21:38)

Medford Lakes Turkey Trot 5k (20:33)


In all, it was a good month of training. I met my goal of starting and finishing the marathon healthy.  After pulling out of the Big Cottonwood Marathon because I pulled my hamstring, I was happy to start and finish New York healthy.

Now that the marathon is done, it feels like forever ago.  I can’t believe it was only a month ago. My goal for December is to build mileage and to ease back into running. I want to start running and training for shorter races consistently. Although I said that last year, I’m hoping to get back into a shorter distance shape.  I wrote a post about marathoning and why it’s not my favorite or for me. My 5k PR is about five years old now.

During December, I’ll focus on building a base.  I had a decent base for the marathon, but I would prefer to be comfortably running between 50-60 miles. Then go from there in January (which…who knows what the weather will be like in January, I’m sure NJ will get some snow days).

Posts from the Month:


Chimney Rocks Trail via Hermitage and Appalachian National Scenic Trail

Hiking the Pulpit Rock-Pinnacle Loop (Appalachian Trail)

Product Reviews:

Sport Suds Laundry Detergent Review

PonyFlo Hat Review

What Makes Maurten Energy Gel and Drink Mixes Different?

Shoe Reviews:

Asics Nimbus 22

Saucony Triumph 17 Shoe Review

Newton Gravity 8 Shoe Review

Diadora Mythos Elite TRX Shoe Review

Marathoning | Not for Me

Finally, have you subscribed to the LOLZletter? It’s a free newsletter that comes out each Monday. In the newsletter, I share running industry trends and things relevant to the sport. 

Questions for you:

How was your training in November?

Do you have any plans for December? 


She Power Half Marathon Indianapolis me running
Running, Running Reads

Marathoning | Not for Me

I don’t love the marathon distance.

I wrote this post almost a week before running the New York City Marathon. About 2 weeks beforehand, I realized I just didn’t “love” marathoning. Before New York in 2018, I thought maybe I didn’t like marathons because I hadn’t run enough. Maybe I just needed practice. So in 2018, I decided to run another. I did well and ran a PR of 3:07.

The truth is, marathons never swept me off my feet. I never felt like I “needed” to run marathons to be a runner. New York has been 3 out of 4 of my marathons. I’ve enjoyed those steps crossing bridges, through Midtown, First Avenue, and all of it. I liked the race, but I don’t enjoy the training, the exhaustion, and 20 miles run.  I don’t “love the grind” of runs more than 15 miles.

I like to run. I don’t need anyone to motivate me to run, but I don’t like to run 20 miles. I don’t go to bed thinking about a long run the next morning. I go to bed, get up, run, and move on with my day. I like the rush of finishing a half marathon or 5k, knowing that I may or may not puke at the end. I don’t quite get that rush from marathons. I finish the marathon, half delusional from exhaustion, and think about what happened.

A few years ago, I decided after my second marathon (Pheonix); I was done with marathons for a while. It was before “Instagram running” was a big thing and not everyone was training for a sub-3-hour marathon or even 2:45.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for anyone going after those goals, but it’s not for me. Neither has ever been a bucket list or goal of mine.

After Phoenix, it took me about 3 years to want to run another marathon. Maybe it will take me three more years, maybe 5, maybe 20, I don’t know. I’m not into it and that’s okay.

Anyone who I’ve talked to in 2019 (about running), knows it has not been my year of running. I’m running 1:30+ half marathons when my PR is 1:22.  sub 20 minute 5ks are working hard, when my goal used to be breaking 18 mins.

It hasn’t been because I don’t work hard, but things haven’t clicked. I’ve had outside stress and I attempted to start marathon training when I should have stuck to shorter stuff and gained speed back.

My goal from Big Cottonwood Marathon was to start and finish the marathon healthy. That didn’t happen. When the opportunity presented itself to run New York City for the third time, I jumped on it. I was beyond grateful from New Balance.

My goal from Big Cottonwood transferred to New York: Start and Finish healthy. It was never to “secretly PR” or to run X time. I simply wanted to finish a training cycle healthy. I was able to do that. The 1:36 a few weeks ago at the Atlantic City half or the 3:27 at NYCM is slower than I’ve run in a long time, I was beyond happy to finish my slowest marathon yet.

After some rest and recovery, my goal is to regain speed something I’ve lost since early 2018. I want to run fast. Gone are the days that a sub 20 minute 5k seems “easy” to me and it’s something I need to work hard to get back too.

I’m ready to start training for shorter things and gain speed back. I am ready for the rush of “feeling fast” and the feeling of a 5k. There aren’t a lot of winter fast 5ks so I’m hoping to get quality mileage, a base, and speed workouts and find some shorter races this spring.

I’m looking forward to shorter distances and a challenge that excites me. Running another marathon to finish or even PR, doesn’t.

Questions for you:

What’s your favorite racing distance?

Are you currently training for anything? 

TCS New York City Marathon me running
Running, Running Reads, Training

TCS New York City Marathon (3:27.19)

TCS New York City Marathon (3:27.19)

The TCS New York City Marathon 2019 might be my longest race recap ever so hang on tight.  I’ve run the New York City Marathon two other times: 2013 and 2018. 

In early September, I pulled my hamstring which caused me to miss my previous marathon (Big Cottonwood in Utah). Around that time,  New Balance asked if I wanted to run the TCS New York City Marathon as part of Team New Balance. I love the atmosphere of New York City Marathon and it’s hard to say no. If it were almost every other marathon, I probably would have said no.

The goal of the six weeks leading up to the TCS New York City Marathon were to get my hamstring healthy. I got ART from Dr. Craig and rested. 2 weeks prior, I was able to do a very loose 20-mile run. I ran 13.1 miles at the Atlantic City Half Marathon (logging a personal worst there too) and slogged my way through 7 more. At that point, I was like how on earth am I going to run the New York City Marathon? My hamstring seemed fine, but it felt like I took 12 steps back when I was never in front.

I got to New York City on Thursday night. Danielle and I picked up our packets, did a quick scan of the TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) New York City Marathon expo and went to a diner in Jersey City. The next two days were spent trolling around New York City. New Balance had a shakeout run with Emma Coburn and Jenny Simpson. It was a 2-mile shakeout run at the New Balance Pizza Co.

The theme of the TCS New York City Marathon was: I move me and inspiring people through running. It’s one of my more favorite themes from New York Road Runners.

I was on the sub-elite bus again for the New York City Marathon. This meant I got to spent the morning at Ocean Breeze (on Staten Island) amongst all of the elites and other sub elites. I exchanged good lucks with Sara Hall, and I sat within feet of Allie Kieffer, Kellyn Taylor, and Mary Kiettany. I enjoyed it last year and it was equally as fun this year.

First, the elite women off, then the rest of us.  Once we got off the bus, we threw out bags into the elite check-in. Initially, they said we could use the bathroom one last time, but then the line was too long and they made us head to the start. Unfortunately, this meant I started the race needing to use the bathroom. The start of the New York City Marathon is always amazing. They had music blasting and people dancing. They fired the cannons and before I knew it, we were off.  One thing I appreciate about the TCS New York City Marathon is the ability to track mile by mile with the New York City Marathon app. Not that it mattered to me at the time, but family and friends could do so.

TCS New York City Marathon me running

I spent most of the New York City Marathon being passed by people. The first mile of the TCS New York City Marathon goes up the Verrazano Bridge. This means it’s uphill and going to be one of the slowest miles you run. I hit the first mile of the New York City Marathon in 7:52.  All I could think was, wow, I’m in worse shape than I am. I knew it was a slow mile, but somehow seeing the clock beep at 7:52 and knowing (with my lack of training): I wasn’t going to negative split the race, I was nervous.

Luckily, the second mile of the TCS New York City Marathon cruises down the Verazzano Bridge and I hit mile 2 in 6:54.

The next few miles of the New York City Marathon alternate between uphill and downhill. There are very few parts of the TCS New York City Marathon that are flat. I kept my eyes peeled for a bathroom. I knew I was not going to make it through 26.2 miles without using the bathroom so I figured earlier rather than later.  Miles 3-5 of the New York City Marathon were all between 7:22-7:28. I felt fine and my hamstring felt fine.

Just after mile 5 at the New York City Marathon, I found a bathroom. I ducked in and realized I had to go more than I thought. I was in and out within 30 seconds and proceeded on. I hit mile 6 of the New York City Marathon in 7:55. I asked NYRR to pause the clock while I used the bathroom, but they didn’t so I didn’t pause my GPS watch either.

I took my first Maurten Gel around mile 5. I like to take gels every 5 miles of the marathon and Gatorade the rest of the time. Around mile 8 of the New York City Marathon, I saw Amelia in her Giraffe suit. I waved and she snapped this photo of me. During some of the water stops, I found myself weaving and before I knew it, my watch was not matching up with mile markers at all. I was slowly adding time and distance. While I tried to run the tangents, (because I didn’t want to run any further than needed), I also wasn’t that worried about it. I weaved around the course high fiving friends and I wasn’t going to stop in front of people.

TCS New York City Marathon me running

I hit mile 10 in exactly 1:15. Exactly the time I ran at the Cow Town 10 Miler a month ago. LOL, that’s not what is supposed to happen here I thought. I took my gel between mile 10-11 of the New York City Marathon. I could feel a cramp coming on, but after getting the water, it went away. The next 5k of the New York City Marathon was focused on getting to half. I knew the halfway mark was on a bridge. I hit the halfway mark in 1:40.12. I was already at 13.5 and I thought, ok, I am going to make a little more effort, so I don’t run 27 miles.

I thought if I ran a 1:50 for the second half TCS New York City Marathon, that will be under 3:30. It seemed doable, except I remembered my long runs for the TCS New York City Marathon were not there. I did 1 20, and 2 15 milers. I had no idea what to expect for the second half and rightfully so.

TCS New York City Marathon me running

Mile 15 begins the dreaded Queensboro Bridge. Mile 15-16 is one of the hardest miles of the New York City Marathon. It goes over the Queensboro Bridge, it’s quiet, and you only have yourself to motivate you up and over. My legs weren’t feeling fatigued going up. During my New York City Marathon, the Queensboro Bridge crushed me and my legs never recovered. During the second, I felt ok. This time at the New York City Marathon, I felt fine going up but going down my quads were on fire. I hit my 15 going up the Queensboro Bridge in 8:17 and rolled right back down in 7:44. I didn’t feel “good” going downhill and actually felt better going up.

The roar, after leaving the Queensboro Bridge, can’t be beaten. That propelled me to a 7:25 18th mile. I saw a few friends, including Amelia again. After mile 18, my goal was to make it to 20. I told myself: okay, Hollie. You have 8 miles to go, then 10k. It doesn’t quite make it easier. When I hit mile 20 in 7:52, I thought this is where you enter the unknown. I imagined 8 min miles would probably be about what I averaged the last 10k. I didn’t care; I just wanted it done.

TCS New York City Marathon me running

The last 10k of the New York City Marathon is no walk in Central Park and the long inline at mile 23 burns. I saw many people stopping and walking. I knew it I stopped; I would never start again. My legs were tired from running, but my hamstring was ok. I saw plenty of friends and I tried to wave, but my arms hurt. I could feel chafing on my arms, legs, and sports bra. At 23 miles, I said: 5k to go. You like 5ks, 5ks are your favorite. I hit mile 24 in 8:32. My slowest race mile ever. I didn’t care; I was making it to the finish.

TCS New York City Marathon me running

Then at mile 24 of the New York City Marathon, I recognized buildings I ran by during my shakeout run the day before. Okay, Hollie, you’ve run by these. 2 miles to go. I hit mile 25 in 8:15 and I felt better I was slightly faster. I knew I would be well above 26.2 miles and tried to prepare myself for that mentally. I hit mile 26 in 8:21 and just proceeded on.

The final countdown was there. I just focused on the New York City Marathon finish and what that would feel like. I kept trucking along and finally, I heard (in a familiar Ali F podcast voice:) Hollie from New Jersey.  I crossed the TCS New York City Marathon finish line in 3:27.19 and collected my things.

TCS New York City Marathon me running

TCS New York City Marathon Thoughts:

I’m happy with my time and effort at the New York City Marathon. I knew it wouldn’t be my fastest marathon and I was happy to finish healthy. It’s motivating to me, and I’m hoping I can resume training with a fully healthy hamstring.  I had such an enjoyable experience from before theNew York City Marathon to the end. For now, I think I’m done with marathons for a while. I prefer shorter distance and to get speed back.  Finally, thank you to New Balance for allowing me the incredible opportunity to run.

TCS New York City Marathon me running

Questions for you:

Have you run the New York City Marathon?

What is your favorite distance?

The anatomy of a running shoe
Gear Review, Reads, Running, Running Reads

The Anatomy of a Running Shoe

The Anatomy of a Running Shoe:

The anatomy of a running shoe is a post I’ve wanted to write for a while.

The anatomy of a running shoe

Since I write a shoe review most weeks, it occurred to me that many people didn’t realize what the actual parts that made up a running shoe are. No shame in that; your only job is to make sure the shoe feels good when you wear it.  It is easier to describe what you like or don’t like in a shoe if you know a few basic terms.

Pictured is the New Balance 1500 (a racing flat ideal for 5ks to marathons)

Anatomy of a running shoe

The “Upper”: 

The upper part of a shoe is exactly what it sounds like: the top of the shoe.  These days, most brands use an upper made of lightweight, breathable, engineered mesh. Although some uppers are made from leather or suede too. Some shoes are even waterproof and the upper can keep water out while still keeping it breathable.

Now, most uppers are seamless, so it doesn’t rub against a wider forefront or bunion. The upper and the shoelaces help secure the foot.  The upper protects your feet and is also what helps keep dirt, rocks or debris out of a shoe.

The anatomy of a running shoe

Toe Box:

The toe box of a running shoe is generally the widest part of the shoe and where your feet and toes are located. You always want movement in the toebox and don’t want your feet to feel squished.

You should be able to wiggle your toes before and after a run comfortably. There should also be about the width of your thumbs length from your longest toe (even if your longest toe is your second or third toe). Having the extra space helps reduce the loss of toenails and keeps your feet from going numb.

Also Included in the Upper Anatomy of a Running Shoe:

Shoe Laces: Shoelaces or Velcro are what hold the top of your foot securely into place. This portion of the shoe is one of the most important for fit in the anatomy of a running shoe.

Tongue: Many people don’t realize the tongue has a purpose! It protects the top of your foot from the pressure of shoelaces but also prevents debris from getting inside.

Heel counter: The heel counter is the firm cup in the back of your shoe to secure your heel. The heel counter makes sure your foot doesn’t slide around. It’s essential always to untie your shoes so you don’t damage the heel counter. Damaging it will bend the plastic and can cause Achilles tendon issues.


The midsole of a running shoe is located between the outsole and the upper. The upper is attached to the midsole of the shoe. Currently, the majority of midsoles are made of a foam called EVA (called ethyl vinyl acetate). Each brand uses different cushioning or EVA that they deem “the best.”


The outsole is a critical component of running shoes, especially when running in inclement weather. The outside is what provides traction on the roads. In trail shoes, the outsole is often thicker to offer more traction. Each brand has different traction in grooves to protect the feet.

Most road shoes are made from blown rubber, which is softer and more flexible. A trail shoe is usually more rigid and is often made of carbon rubber to keep it stiff.

Anatomy of a running shoe

Medial Post:

Not every shoe has a medial post or stability piece to it. Many do, but not all. Most running shoes fall into one of the following combinations: motion control, neutral shoes, or stability shoes. Motion control shoes are designed with the most support, where neutral have zero support. (They can have cushion, but keep in mind support does equal cushion).Stability helps keep a collapsed arch propped in or someone who pronates back into neutral.

The medial post is one of the most important components to determining if a shoe will work for you. If you need a lot of stability and the shoe is neutral, chances are it won’t work. Not everyone needs medial support and using a shoe that has support when you don’t need it can lead to other issues. Most stability components of a shoe are made out of a dual-density combination of TPU (thermoplastic urethane) and EVA.

Not all stability pieces are the same. Some shoes provide minor stability where some is much more corrective. Each brand and each shoe within a brand are different.

The Shank:

Many people don’t even realize a running shoe “shank” exists. The shank is what controls the flexion and torsion of a shoe. It helps the bend naturally and helps with a smooth transition from heel to toe.  The stiffer the shank, the less the shoe will flex.

Heel Drop:

One of the most common questions in the running world, is what a shoe heel to toe drop? I wrote a newsletter on it a few months ago. In short, the heel to toe drop is the height of the heel minus the height of the forefront (in millimeters). For example, a zero drop shoe (like the brand Altra) has the same height and cushion in the heel as the forefront. Most traditional shoes have between 10-12 mm.

Thicker heels will usually cause your heel to drop and hit the ground first, whereas a thinner heel will be easier to run more on your forefront. There is no right or wrong heel drop in the anatomy of a running shoe but it takes trial and error to figure out what works best for you.

Anatomy of a running shoe


When it comes to last, not every brand is the same. The last of the shoe is essentially the shape of the shoe. Most running shoe lasts curved, but shoe lasts can be curved, semi-curved, or straight. If you flip over and look at your Brooks shoe, you can see it curves in the front, pinches in the middle, and curves out in the back. Most traditional running shoes are semi-curved. Finding a last that matches the shape of your foot is just as important as finding a shoe that matches your needs structurally. In the anatomy of a running shoe, the last is what will help find the correct fit.

Anatomy of a running shoe

Why is the Anatomy of a Running Shoe Important for Runners?

Knowing the anatomy of a running shoe because you can find the shoe that works for you both structural and by shape. At the end of the day, you want to find the shoe you are most comfortable in.

Finally, have you subscribed to the LOLZletter? It’s a free newsletter that comes out each Monday. In the newsletter, I share running industry trends and things relevant to the sport.

Questions for you:

What is your favorite shoe? Why? 

Were you familiar with the anatomy of a running shoe?

Pennypacker Park
Running, Running Reads, Training

Pennypacker Park Cross Country Open 5k (21:00)

Pennypacker Park Cross Country Open 5k Recap (21:00)

I wanted to run the Pennypacker Park Cross Country 5k open for a while. Unfortunately, due to work, it’s usually not a race I can make work with my schedule.

This year, it was a couple of hours earlier, but to get my run in as well as the race, I ended up running 7 miles beforehand and then used the last 5k as a hard effort and fast finish. I wasn’t worried about time since it was a cross country race. The course itself was muddy but relatively flat. It’s a fun course that Haddonfield High School and most of South Jersey uses.

Pennypacker Park

I got to the Pennypacker Park Cross Country 5k around 7:30, started my run and got to the start around 8:55. If you’ve never run a cross country race, they typically start in “boxes,” and it funnels down into a narrow path. That’s exactly what we did. I chatted with a few people and then we were off. I wasn’t sure how my legs would feel. During the start, I got boxed in and got flashes of college racing. It does make me miss cross country!

We headed down Pennypacker Park and towards the first mile. I’ve run hundreds of miles in Pennypacker Park so I’m relatively familiar with the terrain and course.

Around mile 1, I passed another female. I hit the first mile in 6:40, which I was happy with. I had no idea of my place. We ran down a hill to the lower part of Pennypacker Park. It was slightly flooded but nothing unmanageable. It was narrow and hard to pass anyone. I felt better than I thought and caught a couple of men.

I hit the mile 2 of the Pennypacker Park Cross Country 5k in 6:50 and was pleasantly surprised. I kept plugging along and found myself feeling better than anticipated.

The third mile of the Pennypacker Park Cross Country 5k and Pennypacker course wraps around the finish and heads back. It’s hard to see the finish line and know your race is only 2/3rd done. In fact, as I got to mile 2.5, I saw plenty of people were already done!

I kept plugging along during the third mile and went around the fields. At the end, it was a mad dash between a friend and myself and we crossed the finish of the Pennypacker Park Cross Country 5k in 21 minutes exactly. I was happy for a solid hard effort at the end of 10 miles.

Pennypacker Park Cross Country 5k Thoughts:

I’m happy with my efforts. While it’s nowhere near a PR on a cross country course, it’s fun to race that. I do hope to run the Club Nationals in Lehigh in December. I’m glad I was able to run the Pennypacker Park Cross Country 5k and it’s a nice race if you’ve never run cross country or just want too.

Questions for you:

Have you run a cross country race?

What’s a race you’ve wanted to do before?