Monthly Archives: June 2011

Out of My Comfort Zone – Body Pump

Today I tried Body Pump for the first time! My favorite Spin instructor teaches this class and she encouraged me to come try it. I have been trying to do things that are out of my comfort zone of running, and since I have the time now that it’s summer I decided to go this morning. I am really bad at doing strength training regularly so I knew this was going to be a challenge for me.

Here is a description of the class from the Body Pump website:

“BODYPUMP™ is the original barbell class that strengthens your entire body. This 60-minute workout challenges all your major muscle groups by using the best weight-room exercises like squats, presses, lifts and curls. Great music, awesome instructors and your choice of weight inspire you to get the results you came for – and fast! Like all the LES MILLS™ programs, a new BODYPUMP™ class is released every three months with new music and choreography.”

The instructor told me at Spin on Friday to come a little early so she could help me get set up and explain things to me. When I walked into the group exercise room I realized what she was talking about- each person had so much equipment set up next to them! I needed a step bench, four of those square lifts that go underneath the step bench (I don’t know what they are called), a weight bar, several different sized weights to go on it, a mat, and a towel. Whew! All this equipment intimidated me at first but my instructor assured me I would be okay and catch on quickly.

The class began and after the warm up I knew I was in for a challenge! I had very light weights but it still felt difficult for me, since you repeat the strength moves over and over again for the whole song. My instructor also told me how to modify some moves and the amount of weight to use since it was my first time. I had to watch other people in the mirror to make sure I was doing the right thing and that my form was okay. I loved the music and the variety, though. The hour truly flew by. When it was over my whole body was jello!

Group exercise is still pretty new to me but I am slowly learning to love it. I think that doing things other than running is making me much stronger and it is definitely giving me more muscle tone. I really, REALLY want to continue taking Body Pump during the summer and when the school year starts up again. We will see if that happens!

Must Be Summer!

Updating my blog two days in a row? Must be summer! Going to spinning not once, but twice this week? Must be summer! Actually fitting in some strength training twice this week as well? Must be summer!

I am LOVING summer break, if you couldn’t tell. I love having time to work out in the mornings and then not rush to get ready for work afterwards. I love that when I go to the gym during the day it’s not super packed. I love that I can relax for the rest of the day, knowing that I worked out hard that morning. Well, I am not totally relaxing yet. I am trying to finish up a final paper for my grad class, THEN it will truly be summer break for me 🙂

One thing I am not enjoying is how humid it is lately. I can deal with some heat, but when I leave the house and it feels like I’m walking through a sauna, that’s tough. Even on shorter runs I come back completely soaked with sweat and it’s difficult to get enough water throughout the day to make up for what I lost. Plus it just feels more difficult to run, especially when I try to run fast!

I haven’t taken any rest days this week so I am planning to take one tomorrow. So here is my weekly run-down a day early. FYI- This week was a cut back week in our training plan, so we kept the runs easy effort and our “long run” was only 7 miles.

  • Monday: 7 mile run (1:06:45/9 :32 pace)
  • Tuesday: 6 mile run (56:40/9:26 pace)
  • Wednesday: Spin class (1 hr.) + Arms (20 min.)
  • Thursday: 6 mile run (55:40/9:16 pace)
  • Friday: Spin class (1 hr.) + Arms (20 min.)
  • Saturday: 7 mile run (1:04:36/9:13 pace)
  • Sunday: Rest
Looking forward to many more summer weeks like this one! 🙂

Marathon #5 – The NYC Marathon!

I don’t even know where to start telling the story of my fifth marathon- The New York City Marathon- because the entire experience was so amazing. It was the best race of my life so far and I have a feeling that it will be hard to beat in the future. I ran this race on November 7th, 2010, but the story of my NYC marathon actually began one year before, at the 2009 NYC marathon!

I was on the spectator side of the 2009 NYC Marathon. I had gone up to New York City with my friend Hani to see her dad and uncle run the marathon. It was a week after I had run the Marine Corps Marathon and I was already feeling the itch to run another one. I had heard that this race was amazing, but I had no idea just how BIG and awesome it was until I was there on the sidelines.

We waited around mile 18 and saw Hani’s uncle first. He is blind and runs with a team of trainers through the Achilles group (He is on the left in the picture below). He is attached to them with a rope for his safety. I can’t imagine running a marathon completely blind- but he has done MANY! He’s an inspiration!

Then we saw Hani’s dad! This was his third NYC marathon and he was looking great!

We raced over to mile 24 in Central Park to see her dad again. We were at the top of a huge hill but the energy was incredible. It was then that I completely fell in love with the New York City Marathon.

I knew that I HAD to run this race! Since it was my fifth marathon I decided it was time to run for a bigger cause. In January 2010 I signed up with Team For Kids, which is a charity organization that raises money to fight childhood obesity and promote physical activity and healthy living for kids. This is the same organization that Hani’s dad ran with in 2009, and it hit close to home since I am a teacher who sees the effects of childhood obesity every day at school.

Partnering with Team for Kids gave me an automatic entry into the marathon if I could raise the required amount of money – $2,620! Since the NYC Marathon uses a lottery system to select from literally hundreds of thousands of applicants, I was happy to know I had a spot. However, I was nervous about raising the money. It took a LOT of work and support over the next 9 months to raise the money. I asked for donations from family and friends and had an ‘activewear’ fundraising day at school where the teachers gave donations in order to wear their favorite active/sports wear. I had a fundraising night at Chili’s restaurant. I held a charity yard sale with a lot of things that were donated to me by family, friends, and co-workers. Finally, Kevin sold Power Balance bracelets and donated his profits to Team for Kids. It came down to the deadline date, but I was finally able to raise the full amount. Fundraising was very stressful at times but I was so glad that I did it. I was proud to support Team for Kids and run for them, and I felt like I was finally running a marathon for a reason bigger than myself.

For my training I tried the Run Less Run Faster approach again which had me running 3x a week and cross-training 2x a week. It was very challenging, but I found myself hitting my goal paces on almost every workout. Kevin even joined me on many of my runs because he was getting ready to run his first half marathon in September. I loved having him by my side.

I felt faster and stronger than ever, but I knew I had to be prepared to probably not PR in New York. I had heard the course is very tough with all the bridges and turns, and the late start time (my wave began at 10:40 am) made me nervous too. I ran 20 miles twice during training, and both times I practiced getting up super early, eating, waiting around for a few hours, eating again, then heading out to run around the same time that the marathon would start. This was very hard to get used to, but when race day came I was really glad I had done a couple practice rounds. It made me feel much more confident and comfortable.

Marathon weekend finally came and I could not be more excited. Kevin and I left for NYC early Saturday morning and began the five hour drive.

We got our first glimpse of the city and we saw the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, where I would start my marathon the next morning!

When we got into the city we immediately went to our hotel in Queens to park and then we hopped on the subway to go downtown. We got off at Times Square and walked to the expo a couple of blocks away.

The whole entire city was buzzing with marathon excitement! We got to the expo and I was really impressed with how smoothly everything went when I picked up my stuff and went through the whole expo experience. For being one of the biggest marathons in the world, everything was very under control and organized! It was definitely crowded though.

The most exciting part for me was meeting some people that I have idolized for a long time. First up was RYAN HALL!

He wasn’t running that year but he was going to be riding in the leading car at the race. He signed my bib and wished me good luck! Then I met one of my biggest running inspirations- Bart Yasso! Love him and his book, “My Life on the Run.”

He was at the Runner’s World Booth with another inspirational runner, Matt Long. Matt is a marathon runner who was hit by a bus in NYC a few years ago. He had to learn to walk all over again and now he runs marathons again. He also has a book, “The Long Run.” He is awesome!

After the expo excitement we went back to our hotel to officially check in. We rested for a bit then went back to Manhattan to go to our pre-marathon dinner in Central Park.

The special dinner was at Tavern on the Green, and it was filled with tons of runners and their families. As a vegetarian, I was very happy to see that I actually had options. I had rolls, salad, vegetarian lasagna, and roasted vegetables. It was delicious! The best part of dinner besides the food was getting to meet some other runners. It was amazing to meet people from all over the world who had come to run this race. 

After dinner we walked around Central Park a little bit. A guy was giving free soft pretzels out to the runners. Soft pretzels are my favorite so I HAD to have one.

We visited some special places, including the finish line, the famous Fred Lebow statue (he founded the NYC marathon), and the “100 yards to go” point.

Then we went back to our hotel. I put on my race pace tattoo and we passed out shortly after. We were exhausted and I had a 4:30 am wake up call ahead of me!

I didn’t sleep very well because I was full of nerves and excitement. I jumped out of bed when my alarm went off and began the process of getting ready. I got dressed in my race outfit, including my special Team for Kids singlet.


I wrote my name on the front and MACHINE on the back, because during my training I loved to repeat “I’m a machine” to myself as my mantra when things were tough. I got ready to say goodbye to Kevin and head out to catch my bus. He would be meeting me at mile 18 with Hani and her family.

But before I left I bundled up in old warm clothes. It was cold outside and I knew I would be waiting around for a while!

I left the hotel around 5:30 and got the subway to Times Square. Then I walked a few blocks to catch the Team for Kids bus to Staten Island. While I was walking I had my first breakfast, a cinnamon raisin bagel with almond butter and banana. I got the bus right before it was scheduled to leave at 6 a.m. It was awesome to be on the bus surrounded by other people who had partnered with the same charity and raised money for them.

The ride to Staten Island took longer than I had expected it to. We got there a little after 7:15 a.m. We got off the bus and started walking to the Team for Kids start village, where they had a special tent with food, coffee, and bathrooms for us. I got right into the bathroom line and went through about three times after that. I get bad nerves before a race and it really affects my belly!

Waiting around was really hard. I had about three hours to kill before it was time to line up in my corral. I passed the time by people watching, making friends, going to the bathroom, and eventually eating my second breakfast around 9:30, a clif bar.

FINALLY it was time to line up! I was so excited that I was shaking. I took off my extra clothes and joined the masses. I felt like a bunch of cattle being moved along. I was still so far back from the start line that I didn’t hear the gun go off, and it took a good 7 minutes or so to reach the line. But as soon as I crossed it I was overwhelmed with emotions. I couldn’t believe I was running the NYC MARATHON!

It was very, very crowded and stayed that way almost the whole race. But the energy of the runners and spectators was amazing right from the beginning. We began the race by crossing the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. It was steep but I didn’t notice much because I was on such a high. I was able to snap this quick photo with my cell phone as I climbed the bridge.

I posted the picture on Facebook and one of my friends immediately responded, “Ummm how about you stop taking pictures and RUN!” So I listened.

How amazing are those pictures? They are a few of the photos that were on the CD I bought after the race that contained all my race pictures. There will be many more in this post.

I ran pretty fast at first. I tried to hold myself back but it was so hard because the energy was so amazing. The first miles were a blur, to be honest. I was just so happy to be running and taking in my surroundings. I had read A Race Like No Other: 26.2 Miles Through the Streets of New York before the race, so I had an idea about what the course would be like. We ran through Brooklyn first, and then around mile 8 the blue, orange, and green groups finally met up again which made the roads much more crowded. All along the course there were spectators lining the streets. There was never a time where the road was filled with only runners. People were there were signs, music, noisemakers, and yelling words of encouragement. It was amazing 🙂

We crossed the halfway point and my pace was right on track. I loved having my pace tattoo on my arm. I was running almost exact splits and I was feeling good. But I knew that the course was hard and the toughest parts were yet to come as we entered into Queens.

I was comforted by knowing that my cheerleaders were at mile 18 waiting for me.

Kevin was waiting at mile 18 with Hani and her family, including her dad who we watched last year. Her uncle was running the race again this year, but he had started in an earlier wave.

On the Queensboro Bridge right before mile 16 is where I lost all momentum. My speed and the excitement from the first 16 miles caught up with me and the bridge was KILLER. A lot of people struggled on it. In fact, I later found out that earlier that morning, famous elite runner Haile Gebrselassie decided to drop out of the race on this bridge. I slowed way down and was starting to feel very fatigued. Kevin had 2 of my Gus and I couldn’t wait to see him so I could get one.

Coming off the bridge I had a little burst of energy because we entered into Manhattan on First Avenue. I also knew that my friend from college, Jared, would be waiting to see me there! He lives in NYC and we had planned for him to be on the left right at the beginning of First Avenue. I was SO excited to see a familiar face. It made me forget the terribleness of the bridge.

First avenue was loooong. The runners are on it for almost 4 miles, which felt like forever! I couldn’t wait to see Kevin at mile 18. I stared at my Garmin and watched the miles slowly creep by, and then finally, I saw them!

I stopped for a second to say hi to Hani and her family then Kevin jumped on the course and ran with me for a few minutes. He told me I looked good, and I immediately asked for a Gu. I was almost at mile 19 and I had already taken 3 Gus, but I needed it bad! He gave me a kiss and told me he would see me again at mile 23, only 4 more miles. He left and I was smiling again 🙂

Next I crossed the bridge and headed into the Bronx. I knew from reading the book that this area was different from the rest of the course. It was much quieter with less spectators. This was also when I hit mile 20. This was a big deal to me!

We were only in the Bronx for about a mile and before I knew it we were headed over another bridge and back into Manhattan down Fifth Ave.

Mile 21 came, then Mile 22… I was really starting to feel the effects of the race on my body. My feet were hurting and I regretted not getting new shoes earlier. The shoes I was wearing had too many miles on them but I hadn’t had time to get new ones. A Team for Kids coach saw my bright green TFK shirt and jumped in to run with me. She asked me how I was feeling and I told her I felt good but I had foot pain. She told me to swing my arms forward as I ran to take my mind off the feeling in my feet. It worked and I did that for the rest of the race. I was very thankful for her help!

Right before mile 23 we started running alongside Central Park. I knew that the end was near! I saw Kevin and Hani earlier than I expected to see them and again, I was SO HAPPY. I nearly cried when Kevin jumped in with me. I was in a great mood and feeling better than I ever have at this point in a marathon. Usually mile 22-23 is where I break down and lose it, but I was holding strong even despite the hills of Central Park. The tough course had taken its toll on me, but I was right on schedule to finish the race in about 4 hours and 15 minutes.

Kevin ran with me for a little over 2 miles, from mile 23 to just past 25. I got some cramps in my leg and found it difficult to talk much, but I was still in good spirits (despite what I look like in the picture below!)

He left me when the barriers started coming up along the sides of the course, which meant the end was near! I started seeing the familiar signs that I had seen the night before at our pre-race dinner. I got a little choked up as I saw the finish line ahead. I couldn’t believe how good I felt at the end of a marathon. I gave it everything I had and sprinted (as best as I could) to the end. I checked my watch and I had finished in 4:12:08. My second fastest time. I was ecstatic!

I stopped running and immediately stiffened up. I had not really walked at all during this race so it was a shock to my body to stop all of a sudden. All the blood rushed to my legs and I felt instant pain and a strong urge to sit down, but there was nowhere to sit! The finish chute had us walking like a half mile (!!) to the runner area and the Team for Kids tent where my dry clothes were. I started walking very, very slowly, and I was feeling a little sick and freezing cold. A wonderful volunteer saw I was having trouble and she helped me. She let me lean on her all the way to the TFK finish tent, then she got my things and let me use her cell phone to call Kevin (mine was dead). He hadn’t been able to make it to the finish in time to see me and he was making his way to where I was. The volunteer even helped me change clothes and shoes! She was amazing.

I finally met up with Kevin and gave him a huge hug. By this time it was almost 4 p.m. and I was exhausted! We figured out how to exit the park and tried to get to the subway (very slowly!) but we ended up walking a long time in the WRONG direction! I was annoyed at first because I was so tired and stiff. Eventually we found our way and got on the subway. It was packed and I felt bad because I didn’t smell very good 🙂 Oh well!

We made it back to our hotel in Queens (that I had run by earlier in the day!) and took a shower. It felt soooooooooooo good. Then we ordered veggie pizza that I promptly devoured, and then passed out.

The next morning we checked out of the hotel and went downtown to Times Square. My legs didn’t feel too terrible (probably because of all the extra walking after the race), so we wanted to explore a bit. I also knew it would be good for me to get my legs moving, even if it was a dark and gray morning!

We got on the big screen! (Upper left corner)

We walked around Times Square and picked up a copy of the NY Times because we knew they had a special marathon section with the names and times of the finishers! I’m in there, I promise! Middle column, somewhere in the middle of the list. It says Allen, C – 4:12:08!

Then we went to our true destination: The Today Show! I was SO EXCITED for this! We got there early and got a great spot outside. I knew that Al and Meredith had also run the race the day before so they would be talking about it. There were a lot of other runners there sporting their medals.

Al came around and shook everyone’s hands. Then he stopped right in front of where we were standing to do the weather report, so we were able to get on TV for a few seconds! Luckily, we knew we were planning to go to the Today Show so we had set our DVR at home. When we got back to Virginia we were able to see ourselves and take a picture of the TV.

Do you see us on the right next to Al’s head??? We had so much fun!

The New York City Marathon was the most perfect race experience. Everything from the organization of the race, to the volunteers, the course, the runners from around the country and the world, and the spectators… it was all well done and just amazing.

Kevin also said he loved experiencing the race as a spectator. He was able to see awesome things during the race, including the Chilean miner, the elite runners, and people in crazy costumes.

Chilean Miner

I loved, loved, loved this race. It will be hard to beat. I wish I could run it every year!

Mount Vernon Trail & SUMMER BREAK

This week has been super busy! I am a teacher and this was my last week of school before summer vacation. It was filled with tying up loose ends, finishing mounds of paperwork, and school events during the day AND at night. I barely had time to run let alone strength train or cross train! But we WERE able to finally do something I have been wanting to do forever- go for a long run on the Mount Vernon Trail!

The Mount Vernon Trail is an 18 mile multi-use recreation trail that is heavily used by bikers, runners, and walkers in the D.C. area. It stretches from Mount Vernon (George Washington’s home) up through Alexandria and Arlington. It also connects to many other trails in the area.

Mount Vernon is about a 20 minute drive from where we live. Not far, but only really worth driving to for a long run. We had a 16 miler on the schedule for Saturday morning so we thought it would be a perfect time to try it out. We got kind of a late start and made it to the trail a little bit past 8:30. That is much later than we like to begin long runs, especially in the summer. It was already warm and very humid, but we started on our way down the trail.

I LOVED the trail. I have gotten so used to my normal running routes and it was so exciting to have new scenery. Especially when the scenery is so beautiful! The trail took us alongside the Potomac River, through wildlife reserves and forests, and neighborhoods. I loved it. Since it was so hot we decided to take walking breaks every 4 miles. At the turn around at mile 8, right before the Woodrow Wilson bridge, we realized the toll the heat/humidity had taken on our bodies and it hit us like a ton of bricks. We ran the first half pretty fast because we were excited and full of energy. The second half was much tougher. It was getting later in the day and we found ourselves needing to take more walking breaks. The water in our Camelbaks had gotten warmer too, and my Gu tasted horrible to me so I didn’t want to eat it. I felt nauseous and I had even less energy as a result. At mile 13 we were struggling so we decided to cut the run short and make it 15. It was only one mile shorter than what we were supposed to do but it made a big difference to us at the time! It’s all about ADAPTIVE RUNNING 🙂

I can’t wait to run on the Mount Vernon Trail again. I also want to try biking the entire thing sometime (I don’t think I will ever be able to run 18 miles up the trail and back!) Next time though, I will make sure to get there earlier and I will have to bring my camera!

Here’s my weekly run-down:

  • Monday: Rest (We did our long run on Sunday)
  • Tuesday: 5 mile run (47:16/9:27 pace)
  • Wednesday: 5 mile run (45:35/9:07 pace)
  • Thursday: 7 mile tempo run- 1 mile warm up, 5 miles @ 8:12 average pace, 1 mile cool down (Splits were 8:08, 8:05, 7:58, 8:06, 8:11)
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 15 mile run (1:50:59/9:23 pace)
  • Sunday: Rest

Wow, I rested a lot this week! Probably because I was so busy and exhausted from the end of the school year. I am looking forward to summer break for so many reasons. I am excited to have more free time to do yoga, hit up morning spin classes (I couldn’t handle the evening ones during the school year), and get into a strength training routine. I also can’t wait to get back into my wedding planning. We started today by picking out our wedding bands! It was so exciting. We have less than 5 months to go, which is crazy because we got engaged over a year ago!

Summer… bring it on!

Warrior Dash!

Another week has flown by! This past weekend we found ourselves traveling again. This time we were going back to my hometown in Pennsylvania to visit my family and to run the Warrior Dash!

The Warrior Dash races are a series of events across the country that involve running and going through crazy obstacles. I had done one last October and LOVED IT!

The race involved climbing, crawling, going through swamps and over logs, mud pits, fire, and more! It was dirty and so much fun. I knew I had to come back and do it again with Kevin. So we found out that they were coming back to the area on June 11 and 12th and we signed up immediately!

We downloaded our waivers and signed our lives away…

And we left early Saturday morning, nice and clean and ready to be WARRIORS!

The drive to the race was about one and a half hours north of where I live in the Philly suburbs. It was raining when we arrived and the parking lot was already muddy and slippery. I knew we were in for a wet and dirty day.

When we finally found a parking spot we waited in a long line for the bathroom and then another long line for the shuttle bus that would take us to the start area.

As we were waiting for our buses people started returning to the parking area once they were finished with their races. They were all super muddy and everyone was laughing and having a good time, and it made me even more excited for our wave that was starting at 11.

Once we actually got to the race area we still had to pick up our bibs, timing chips, shirts and WARRIOR HATS (to be seen in a later picture). Then we had to check our bag of clean and dry clothes. By the time all of that was finished we had only 15 minutes to spare before our 11 am start time. The race had waves of 500 people each that began every thirty minutes. It helped stagger the crowds a bit but it was still packed everywhere. I was so glad we left the house when we did that morning!

Our race started right at 11 and it was very crowded. The whole course is spread across a Paintball park that goes through the woods, open fields, and trails. The ground was muddy from the start and it was hard to move very fast because of the volume of people.

Our first few obstacles came quickly and before I knew it I was crawling on the ground through a “blackout” tunnel that seemed to last forever. After that we had to “jump” over a series of TALL boards. When I say jump I mean, try to jump and then hoist myself over it with the zero arm strength that I have. After jumping each board we had to crawl under barbed wire to get to the next board, then it repeated that way six times. By the last one my arms were jello and I needed a boost from Kevin!

Then we ran a bit more, and ended up at an obstacle that had us running up a very thin wooden balance beam then running back down it. The balance beam was in an upside down V shape. I have TERRIBLE balance issues due to inner ear problems and this obstacle really messed with my equilibrium. I got to the top and felt dizzy so I had to sit down and scoot down on my butt on the way down. Kind of embarrassing but oh well, I got it done!

The next few obstacles were quick- crawling through tubes, getting through a tangled web of strings that were attached to trees, trying not to twist an ankle on the rocks and roots that were everywhere (note to self- do ankle strengthening exercises! Mine are weak!). The one that put me over the edge was when we had to drag ourselves through knee-high THICK sludgy mud. It smelled so bad, I think it was more than just mud, if you know what I mean. I was gagging the whole time! It was like quicksand and everyone was sinking and getting stuck. Some people even lost their shoes and continued on without them.

Next we went into the waist-high water and crossed a river, followed by more trail running and ankle-twisting. Then we came across a huge wall that we had to climb up using a rope. Kevin estimated that it was about 25 feet tall. There were some ledges to help us get up, but they were all super muddy so my feet kept slipping. Not to mention my upper body was dead so I couldn’t pull myself up. At this point I saw some people actually give up on this obstacle and walk around the wall, but I didn’t want to do that. The guy behind me (dressed in a beer bottle costume) gave me a lift and I was able to pull myself up the rest of the way from there. But when I got to the top my equilibrium messed with me again and the view looking down on the skinny flimsy board was too much for me! I started to panic and had visions of myself falling on my head. Luckily, Kevin was there at the top waiting for me and he talking me through it and I made my way down the other side.

We only had a few more obstacles after that- including climbing over hay bales, climbing a huge cargo net, running over old beat up cars, running through a field of tires, and jumping over fire! By this point, 3.5 miles had felt like 15 miles and we were exhausted. We saw the mud pit at the finish line and Kevin took a BIG leap right into it!

How awesome is that picture???!!!

Then we crawled in the mud pit, being sure to stay low because there was barbed wire above us. When we got to the end we stood up and ran to the finish line together.

The guy next to Kevin at the finish line is the one in the beer bottle costume that helped me over the wall!

We were tired, we were muddy, we were so happy! We had the best time together! Our finishing time was 50:54. We definitely didn’t set any records but that didn’t matter to us. We had so much fun and we did it together.

We slowly made our soggy way back to where we checked our stuff and changed into clean(er) clothes. We also put on our warrior hats now that we had earned them!


Then we walked around the finish area and did some people watching. There were so many people in hilarious costumes. The race had waves until 6 pm, so there was a constant flow of people coming in and out.

Eventually we made our way back to the shuttle bus and back to the parking lot. Once we were back in the car we were able to really see how dirty we were.

I also noticed my poor beat up knees! It’s hard to see in this picture, but my legs are destroyed. It’s probably from all the crawling on rocks and dirt.

We were starving so we stopped at Subway on the way home. We definitely got some looks from confused people…

It was so much fun. I already want to do another one. Maybe something even more challenging next time-  like Tough Mudder??? 🙂

Here is my Weekly Run-Down:

  • Monday: 6 mile run (56:44/9:27 pace)
  • Tuesday: 6 miles of speedwork- 1 mile warm up, 1600 x 3 @ 7:37 pace, 1 mile cool down (Splits were 7:29, 7:26, 7:31)
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: 6 mile run (55:51/9:18 pace)
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: Warrior Dash Race – 3.5 miles (50:54/14:32 pace)
  • Sunday: 14 mile run (2:09:49/9:16 pace)
On Sunday we went to my favorite home running spot – The Perkiomen Trail – to do our weekly long run. It was tough because we were both pretty sore from the Warrior Dash (and not properly stretching afterwards). Kevin was hurting so he followed “Adaptive Running” principles and took it easy. I felt better than him so I attempted to go out and back 7 miles like we had planned. It was lonely running without him but the trail is beautiful and the scenery took my mind off it. It was very quiet and secluded and full of animals. I saw groundhogs, rabbits, a rooster, and even two GOATS! So random. But before I knew it I was at the turn around and then I was back at the start. Kevin was already there and he had managed to run 10, which was awesome. After our run we proceeded to take our sweaty selves to brunch with our friends to stuff our faces. We didn’t look or smell very nice but our friends are very understanding and supportive so they didn’t mind 🙂
I am so excited because it is finally the last week of school! I can’t wait to have more free time to blog, wedding plan, run, strength train and cross train. This summer is MUCH needed after a very stressful year of teaching and grad school. I love my job but I love the time off in the summer too!

Air Force Marathon Training Plan

What a crazy week! I can’t believe it’s June. I have been really busy with wrapping up the school year and my grad classes. We officially began training for our next race too! We will be running the Air Force Marathon on September 17th. For this race we decided to use a training plan that was created by the Runners World SmartCoach tool based on our previous times for the National Half Marathon that we ran in March. We decided to use that time as the basis for the plan because during the Country Music Marathon a lot of things happened that were out of my control, and as a result I did not perform as well as I feel I could have that day. I ran my half the month before in 1:48:55 and I felt I was in shape to run a 4 hour marathon in April. Instead I ran a very disappointing 4:41:24, my worst time yet, and I even considered taking a DNF during the race.

After that race I am even more motivated to get my sub 4-hour marathon. My current PR is 4:07:43, and I KNOW I can do it this time. We modified the SmartCoach plan to fit our schedules, needs and goals, and came up with the following basic plan:

  • Running: 4x a week (2 easy runs, 1 speed/tempo run, 1 long run) @ paces determined by SmartCoach. I will also be trying to get in the habit of finishing all my runs fast. I know that my biggest weakness is keeping my pace steady in the last few miles of the marathon. That is when I lose control every time. I know that adding speed at the end of my runs will help my body adjust to maintaining speed when I am tired.
  • Cross-Training: 2x a week. Spinning, Zumba, Yoga, Elliptical, Row Machine, Biking outside, etc.
  • Strength-Training: 3x a week. This is something that I always have good intentions of doing when I begin a new training cycle, but it quickly gets pushed to the back burner when the mileage picks up. I want to focus mainly on my upper body and core because these areas can definitely get stronger and it will improve my running.
  • Rest: One day (or more depending on how we are feeling that week) of total rest.
  • Sleep: At least 7 hours a night… This is very, very important to us this time around!
  • Nutrition: I eat a vegetarian diet 100% of the time and Kevin eats that way probably 80% of the time. We eat mostly whole, natural, unprocessed foods and although we have good percentage of carbohydrates, fats, and protein in our diets, it can sometimes be hard to eat enough to fuel our high mileage and keep our energy up. We are going to pay a little more attention to our basic calorie intake/outtake to make sure that we are maintaining a good balance!

In addition to this plan we are also going to use some of Adaptive Running principles to guide us. I recently read the book Run Faster from the 5K to the Marathon: How to Be Your Own Best Coach by Brad Hudson, and he believes that Adaptive Running is the key to success in all training plans. Adaptive Running is all about listening to your body and adjusting your planned runs depending on how you feel. This is going to be difficult for me, because I notoriously follow my training plans religiously no matter WHAT. But I know that doing that is not the best thing for my training and my body. I hope that by using Adaptive Running principles I will remain uninjured and not get burned out like I have before. If I need to cut back (or add on!) mileage, pace, etc., then I will. If I need to take an extra rest day or cross-training day, then I will. I’m going to try to be more flexible with my training, be more ‘in the moment’, and not so set in following a plan that was created months before. I guess we will see how it goes! 🙂

Our entire plan from May to September can be seen in Google Docs.

Here is my weekly workout recap for Week 1 of training:

  • Monday: 5 mile run (44:52/8:59 pace)
  • Tuesday: 7 mile tempo run- 1 mile warm up, 5 miles @ 8:13 average pace, 1 mile cool down (Splits were 8:10, 8:09, 8:06, 8:13, 8:31- BIG HILL!)
  • Wednesday: Rest + 20 minutes of arms and abs
  • Thursday: 6 mile run (56:55/9:29 pace)
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 12 mile run (1:52:08/9:20 pace)
  • Sunday: Insanity Workout – Pure Cardio (40 minutes) + Abs (20 minutes)
I skipped Zumba and Spin class this week because I was REALLY tired and was feeling weaker than usual. I think that is a result of running hard 5 days in a row while I was at the beach over the holiday weekend. I just couldn’t help it though- I love running at the beach! So using the Adaptive Running principles, I listened to my body and rested on two of my rest days, and did 5 miles instead of 6 on Monday. This made the rest of my runs much better and now I feel refreshed and ready to take on Week 2 of training!