NJ Half Marathon First Reaction

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Well, I did it. I finished the New Jersey Half Marathon in 1:45:57, about a minute off of my goal of 1:45 flat.

I was running 7:50 pace through 8 miles, and then my watch died. I have no idea what I ran for miles 9-13; I just know 9 and 10 were fast (probably too fast) and 11, 12 and 13 were veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeery slow.

I’m not totally sure how I feel right now. Last year was a really awful year for me in a lot of ways, and even just finishing this race should have been sweet redemption. But I’m also a really competitive person, and I’m feeling a little bummed. The 1:45 pacer passed me in the last mile and I was totally out of juice. All I could do was watch her go.

I think I did the best I could with what I had. I just wish I had had a little bit more.

I don’t mean to sound totally negative; I did have a ton of fun with my friend which was what I was really, really looking forward to. I think I just need a couple of days to process the race and figure out what’s going to be next for me! When I have, I’ll post a full recap.

Thanks so much to everyone that texted or called or messaged me to wish me luck on Sunday. When I started to fall apart I thought of all the people rooting for me, and it got me to that line. I truly appreciate the support!

I also want to congratulate everyone else who raced this weekend; especially my good good friend Crystal Burnick, who FREAKING WON BROAD STREET ON SUNDAY (<–that video = #relationshipgoals). It was horrible weather in PA/NJ so an extra special congrats to all the Broad Street, Pittsburgh, NJ Marathon runners! 

Training For My First Half Marathon (Weeks 5-8)

Training For My First Half Marathon

Wow. Before I say anything else today, I have to start with this: THANK YOU so much to all the Oiselle Volée members who reached out yesterday to welcome me to the team. I am completely overwhelmed with gratitude. If this is any indication of what the next year is going to be like (and I think it is!), then I am even more convinced that my purchase was worth it. Head up, wings out!

Ok – half marathon training. I said in my last half marathon training post that I was going to be writing weekly updates…but then, of course, life got crazy. We had a fire in our apartment, I moved back in with my parents (then out again), my friend came home for a very limited time before leaving to become an officer in the Marine Corps…time just got away from me, and other things took priority. But I’m back! And just in time, because I race the Novo Nordisk New Jersey Half Marathon on SUNDAY MORNING (what!?).

So without further ado, here’s the last month of my training:

Week 5

  • Monday: off
  • Tuesday: 3 miles easy
  • Wednesday: 6 miles easy
  • Thursday: 5.5 miles easy
  • Friday: 3.5 miles easy
  • Saturday: 1.5 mile warmup, 6x400m hill sprints with jog down recovery, 1x800m hill sprint, 1 mile cooldown for about 5 miles total (shout out to my boyfriend for waking up early and pacing me through this even though it was FREEZING and pouring rain – he’s a saint)
  • Sunday: 8 mile long run

Total: 31 miles

Week 6

  • Monday: off
  • Tuesday: 1 mile warm up, 1 mile time trial in 6:04 (so close to breaking 6, but I dropped 22 seconds in just one month! this was a big confidence booster), 1 mile cooldown for 3 miles total
  • Wednesday: 1 mile to get the lactic out
  • Thursday: 1 mile warm up, 12x400m cruise with 200m recovery (first 8 were all between 1:40-1:42, last 4 were 1:37, 1:37, 1:35, 1:32), 1 mile cooldown for 7.5 ish miles total
  • Friday: 5 miles easy
  • Saturday: 3.5 miles easy
  • Sunday: 10.5 mile long run (FINALLY HIT DOUBLE DIGITS!)

Total: 30.5 miles

Week 7

  • Monday:off
  • Tuesday: off
  • Wednesday: off (this was when the apartment fire happened and life got insane and I just…didn’t run)
  • Thursday: 6 miles easy
  • Friday: 4 miles easy
  • Saturday: Race Against Racism 5k in Kutztown, won in 21:13! 1:13 improvement over 5k in 1 month. Another big confidence booster!
  • Sunday: 11.5 mile long run averaging about 8:05 pace <–was psyched about this

Total: 25 miles

Week 8

  • Monday: off
  • Tuesday: 1 mile warm up, 4 mile progression in 7:45, 7:39, 7:25, 7:10, 1 mile cool down for 6 miles total
  • Wednesday: off
  • Thursday: 5 miles easy
  • Friday: off
  • Saturday: 6 miles easy
  • Sunday: 6 miles easy

Total: 23 miles

Thoughts and Race Goals:

  • I’m now in race week (week 9), and all I’ve done is some shakeout runs with strides afterwards. I have felt completely terrible everyday but everyone has been assuring me that that’s totally normal so I’m not (too) worried.
  • I’m running the race with a friend/teammate of mine from high school and I am SO EXCITED to see her. Like, probably more excited for that (and going to the expo with her) than the race even.
  • My goal for this weekend was originally to run around sub-1:45, but after seeing the weather forecast and talking to some smart people, I’ve (mostly) let go of that goal in favor of just finishing. I think I can at least run close to 8 minute pace on a good day, but there’s just no point in beating myself up if I can’t do it in the pouring rain and wind. However, I am crazy competitive and if I feel good that day and someone is near me I’ll probably try anyway because I get wound up and can’t help it 🙂

I can’t believe race weekend is actually here. When I signed up for this race, I was literally not running at all. I could barely comprehend running 13 miles, much less at the pace I think I am currently capable of (whether I run that Sunday or not). After such a long time being unable to train at all, I am infinitely grateful for every mile I’ve been able to run so far. I actually get really emotional thinking about it and have a very real fear that I am going to start bawling as soon as I cross the line on Sunday like the HOT MESS THAT I AM.

But again, thanks so much to everyone for your feedback on my post yesterday, and GOOD LUCK to all my friends and fellow birds racing this weekend! Let’s all send each other speedy vibes 🙂

Have a great weekend friends and happy running!

Why I Paid $100 To Join The Oiselle Volée

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And why it was totally worth it.

Last week, after thinking about it for months, I signed up to join the Oiselle Volée team.

If you’re scratching your head saying “oy-who?” let me give you some background: Oiselle (pronounced Wa-Zell) is a Seattle-based company that designs and produces beautiful women’s running apparel. The Volée team is their pet project: hundreds of like-minded ladies racing in the same singlet, all with the same commitment to community,  sisterhood, and the sport of running as a whole.

It’s not free. You pay an annual fee of $100 – $25 of which goes towards Oiselle’s Emerging Athletes Fund and $75 of which covers your singlet, spike bag, and a slew of discounts.

That’s not cheap to me. I’m a 24 year old girl-woman with the word “coordinator” in my job title. I very recently started paying rent for the first time in my life, along with a monthly loan payment and a slew of other bills you don’t realize you’ll have to pay when you’re 18 and deciding you want to be an English major. I’m not broke by any means, but I drink the free coffee at work, I buy generic brands, I carpool to save gas money, I wear hand-me-downs; I don’t have room in my budget to spend $100 on a whim.

But I spent it on this, and I don’t regret it.

Because you know what? I miss being on a team. I miss getting my hair braided before big races, dancing in the bus aisles on the way to cross country meets, striding in unison down the back straightaway of the track. I miss the shared pain of Tuesday intervals, Friday tempos, Sunday long runs. I miss running mid-pack during an easy day, losing myself in the throng of swishing ponytails. I miss screaming at the top of my lungs for my best friends as they desperately fight for just one more second, one more place. I miss having a uniform and the sacred ritual of laying it out the night before my race, pinning my bib just right. I miss hitting the hard part of a 5k and knowing I’m competing not just for myself but for all the girls I train next to everyday, and all the girls that came before us. I miss the strength that gave me.

I know that the Volée can’t magically give me this back. I know that most of my runs will still be done alone, when the sun is setting and no one is around to help me out or get me through. That’s ok. That’s growing up.

But I also know that when I finish those runs, I’ll have sisters to turn to. A group of women who care how my run went, what I felt like, if I hit my splits. They may not physically be there that day, or the next, but I can feel them out there, rooting for me. A whole new flock of swishing ponytails for me to get lost in.

I know a hundred dollars is a lot of money, but in the end, the decision for me was a no-brainer. Head up, wings out.

Race Against Racism 5k Recap (Post Grad PR!)

 

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Though the focus of my training so far has been developing my endurance to the point where contemplating a 13.1 mile race doesn’t make me want to cry/die, I always like to have secondary goals to keep myself accountable during the buildup to my main goal as well. I’m a liiiiiiitle competitive, and while I do enjoy immersing myself in the everyday grind of training, I’ve found that I tend to lose focus on the big picture unless I’m given a steady diet of intermediate challenges along the way.

Knowing this, I tried to schedule some races into the buildup to the NJ Half to keep myself motivated (and to try out my race outfit!). I ran the Ice Scraper 5k on March 13, finishing in a time of 22:26, and this past weekend in the Race Against Racism 5k I somehow took almost a minute and 15 seconds off that time to take the win (for the ladies side at least) in 21:13! This not only surpassed my goal of 22 minutes flat, it’s actually the fastest I’ve run since graduating college. I was so shocked I double checked my GPS watch, mapped it on RunKeeper, and asked the race director if he was SURE it was a full 5k. Verdict was yes, so ya girl ran a nice little post-grad PR! 😉

(Side note: my actual 5k PR is 18:32. I joked with my boyfriend after this race that I’ve never been so happy to run almost 3 minutes slower than my PR. HA.)

The race itself was kind of bizarre. It started at 9am, so I thought I was running late when I started my warm up at 8:30. At 8:55 I was hurriedly changing into my flats and wondering if I had time to get some strides in when the race director announced we would be hearing a talk on racism – which lasted 15-20 minutes. It was thought-provoking, and a great talk, and I get that that was the point of the whole race…but it was cold, I was wearing only shorts and a tank top, and all I could think about was how tight my legs were getting while we stood there listening. I think if I was the race director I would have maybe saved this talk for the post-race awards ceremony, but that’s just my opinion!

Weirdness aside, the race was a lot of fun. I figured I’d be stiff from standing, so my plan was to work into it then try and pick people off. I sat behind a bunch of guys for the first half mile while my legs got used to the shock of sprinting, then passed most of them when we hit the first hill and never really looked back. Though it was suuuuper windy and a fairly hilly course, I felt pretty strong and like I could have kicked it into another gear if I had to.

(Further sidenote: it was super trippy and fun to race on Kutztown’s campus. The whole time I was reminiscing about dumb things we did when we still lived in dorms and ate at the dining hall every night. I highly recommend doing this race if you went to Kutztown, it’s worth it for the #remthemems factor alone!)

This race was such a huge confidence booster for me, and with two weeks till the NJ Half, it couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m getting more and more excited to line up to run 13.1, and it’s looking more and more like my way-out-there goal of 8 minute pace might (if all goes well!) actually become a reality. I’m starting to actually believe, you guys, and it’s kind of scary!

Thanks to everyone that texted me to wish me luck or see how it went; I honestly woke up on Saturday NOT WANTING TO RACE AT ALL but you kept me accountable 🙂 Not sure if that makes you good or bad friends but either way…thanks!

PS- Above graphic was taken from Kutztown Race Against Racism Instagram page.

Anatomy of a Race Day Outfit

One thing that I remember vividly about my collegiate days is how POWERFUL I felt pulling on my maroon and gold uniform top and donning my spikes on race day. It was like one minute I’d be in my big poofy warm ups feeling like a potato, the next I’d be peeling off the layers to reveal A BAD A$$ LADY READY TO TAKE ON ANYTHING.

Lauren Fleshman has written about this phenomenon in the past; it’s called enclothed cognition, and it’s about the act of associating something external (like a piece of clothing) with something internal (like the feeling of power), and calling on that association to summon up the power when you need it most (like the day of a hard race or workout).

Since I no longer have the privilege of racing in the Kutztown singlet (*cries*), I had to build a brand new race-day-power-outfit for my upcoming half marathon. In selecting my armor, I tried to combine the power of enclothed cognition with really functional clothing (because AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR CHAFING over a 13 mile race). All of the pieces I chose make me feel fierce and powerful, but they’re also really practical. Here’s what I chose:

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  1. Oiselle Flyte Tank – Oiselle’s Flyte line is not only really pretty (I absolutely love the bird pattern and heathered look of this tee, and it says “fly” on the back which is so cute), it’s also made from seamless, lightweight, moisture wicking fabric. I sweat a lot (like, a LOT), so the moisture wicking element was essential for me. I also like that this tank is looser than your typical seamless piece; it gives my belly a little room to breathe.
  2. Adidas Adios Boost 2 with Oiselle/Howl Attire Lace Tags – I am a really big fan of Adidas’ Boost line. I think going into the science behind Boost probably requires a post of its own, so for now I’ll just say that in my everyday training I alternate between the Adidas Energy Boost 2 and the Ultra Boost, so snapping up the Adios, which is a lightweight flat meant for racing, was a no brainer. Bonus: they’re purple. Extra bonus: these lace tags were a collab between Oiselle and Howl Attire and they are my favorite thing in the world. Here’s a close up:

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    The coolest.
  3. Sweaty Bands “Bloomerang” Headband – I HATE getting hair in my eyes when I’m running, especially in a race. This is a shame because I apparently have a really strangely-shaped head that most headbands don’t stay put on. Enter Sweaty Bands: they’re backed with velvet so they really, truly do not budge, and they’re also really cute! I like these thick ones, but they come in various thinner widths as well.
  4. Oiselle Roga Shorts – You guys. These shorts! They are magical. As one of the curvier distance runners on my college team (all of my weight tends to sit in my thighs and donk), I struggled so hard to find shorts that I liked. If I wore spandex, they would ride up so high that it would be borderline inappropriate. If I wore looser shorts (like the Nike Tempo), they would chafe the crap out of my inner thighs. A desperate google search led me to the Rogas, and they changed my life. They’re chafe-free, lightweight, and actually flattering. And, though I am partial to the classic plain Roga, they now come in three different lengths and there’s also a version with a ton of pockets.

The most important thing to keep in mind when you choose your outfit is the golden rule of racing: never try anything new on race day. There’s nothing worse than buying a “seamless” shirt only to realize 3 miles into a 13 mile race that it’s going to chafe you for the next 10. You should always do a dress rehearsal of anything you plan to wear. I’d also advise you to pack body glide in your race bag and if you’re prone to chafing or blisters, wear it just in case. Better safe than sorry!

All that being said, I actually ended up entering Kutztown’s Race Against Racism 5k tomorrow morning on a total impulse earlier this week. I haven’t been feeling so hot this week, so I’m intending to use the race as a final tempo before my race in a couple weeks, and to run a final check on the worthiness of this outfit. I’ll make sure to let you all know how it goes!

In the meantime,

Is anyone else racing this weekend?

What’s your favorite shoe to race in? How about for training?

Does anyone else feel like they have a weird-shaped head?! 

Happy training friends!

PS – None of the brands mentioned compensated me for anything written in this post. I just happen to really like Oiselle and Adidas. And I would rather not write/race in things I don’t like 🙂

Learning To Let Go Of Perfection

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If you follow me on Instagram, you know that last week my roommate and I had the scare of our lives when she and her boyfriend turned on our oven for the first time only to watch as it began billowing smoke and fumes.

Thankfully, we got out of the house quickly, and the fire department responded in minutes to our 911 call. No one was hurt, and the fire didn’t leave the oven. The biggest damage was from the smoke; which, though preferable to flames, was still substantial. I tried to tough it out and sleep in my own bed after the firefighters cleared the house for carbon monoxide but after coughing up black mucus (TMI, sorry) the next morning, we decided we should both leave the house for a week to let it air and be professionally cleaned.

In the grand scheme of things, this is not a big deal. I realize that. But it still disrupted my training rhythm! I didn’t have many clean clothes, I couldn’t find my running watch, I accidentally left my foam roller in the wrong closet. I was a mess.

So I missed some days. And the days I did run, I didn’t run all that much.

But you know what? I’ve learned that that’s ok. 

I’ve been running consistently for over 2 months now. I’ve done solo workouts in the dark, in the snow and in the rain. I’ve done tempos, fartleks, hill sprints, 400m repeats. I’ve done long runs, easy runs, recovery runs. I’ve had some easy 6 milers and some painful 3 milers. I’ve dutifully rolled out sore muscles, iced my shins, gotten enough sleep.

I missed a couple of days, yes, but I’ve worked so hard to get to the place I currently am, and the sum of that work is much, much greater than that of these small parts. 

So here’s my plan: pretend that it never happened. Start this week with fresh focus. Execute my plan. And on race day, when I step up to the line, think only of what I’ve done – not what I failed to do. Because, like Kara Goucher says, “Hard work + dedication = a shot at your dreams”. Period.

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Last week’s training wasn’t ALL bad, and I have some highlights I’ll be sharing here soon (including hitting MY FIRST DOUBLE DIGIT LONG RUN IN SO LONG) but for now, tell me – how was YOUR training last week? Broad Street runners? Anyone?

How to Become a Morning Runner When You Hate Waking Up Early

Tips and tricks for getting yourself out of bed and out the door.

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Waking up early is hard for me. Like, EMBARRASSINGLY hard. Like, I will literally set 10 alarms spaced one minute apart each with a different threatening message and combination of skull emojis and still ignore every single one of them to sleep for 6 more minutes.

And honestly, that used to be fine. I worked at a running store that didn’t open until 10; I could roll out of bed at 8, run, sit with my coffee and oatmeal for an hour, then do the work thing. The store was 5 minutes from my house, and most days I wore yoga pants, a t-shirt, and a pair of running sneakers to work (I know…#blessed).

But these days, I work an 8-5. I commute to my job. I have to wear real pants (!!). And sometimes I know that I have a very long, hectic day ahead of me, and that I won’t get home until very late. And at that point, I will want a pint of ice cream. And probably a drink.

On days like this, it’s in my best interest to run before work, even if it’s PAINFULLY early. So I did what every girl’s gotta do eventually: grow the HECK up and figure out ways to trick myself into doing something I desperately hate.

That said, here’s the 4 things that have worked for me:

1. Lay Everything Out the Night Before

Or, if you have to, sleep in your running clothes. The less thought you have to put into getting out the door, the more likely you will be to get out the door.

2. Find People That Will Hold You Accountable

For me, this means EVERYONE AND ANYONE. The night before I know I have to run at 5am, I tell all my friends that I’m going to do it. I tweet that I’m going to do it. I post on my Tumblr page that I’m going to do it. When that first alarm goes off, I picture having to answer all those “so, did you do it?” texts with “no, I’m a baby”, and the thought of that shame is usually enough to get me out the door.

3. Do it for the ‘Gram

Ok, this is kind of terrible, and I will obviously never be able to do this again because of personal shame, but COME ON, who doesn’t enjoy posting a perfectly filtered pic of the sunrise to their Instagram page and watching the likes roll in? Do it for the likes, guys. Do it for the likes.

4. Bribe Yourself

Step 1: Think of a delicious food. Step 2: Wake up and drive to a place that sells that breakfast food. Step 3: Start your run from there so that when you finish you can go right from “I hate my life” to “I love bagels” or “I love pancakes” or “I love donuts”. Or, in extreme cases, “I love Rita’s water ice, even at 8am.”


Honestly, waking up before the sun to get my run in is still a work in progress for me. So far I’ve learned that workouts are a no-go at 5am because they take so much time and mental preparation for me, and I just don’t have it in the morning yet.But I can knock out a 5-6 mile recovery run fairly easily, and that is a huge step in the right direction.

If you guys have any more tips, I’d love to hear them. A girl can only post so many ‘grams before all her friends hate her, so the more solutions I’ve got, the better. Let me know, and until then, happy training!