Posts Tagged by race prep

Race Week is Here Again

The trouble with not writing regularly is that once you fall out of the habit, it’s really hard to get back into it. And the whole prospect of putting your thoughts to paper can feel a bit overwhelming .

The same can be said for racing. Not that racing ever gets easy, of course. But when you do it often, you fall into a rhythm. The prep, the nerves, the adrenaline…it becomes part of the everyday noise. The thrill of an upcoming race excites instead of cripples; creates a manageable hum instead of full out nausea.

Right now I’m out of practice with both. Writing was once a huge part of my work and personal life. Now it’s a background activity. And racing? In high school and college I would race at least once a week. And I continued a habit of regular races throughout my twenties. But over the past couple of years, the number of times I have toed the starting line has decreased dramatically. And suddenly I find myself transported back to my first tri meet during freshman year of high school. The shaking nerves, the anxiety, the lack of confidence about what would happen when the gun went off. I’ve got it all.

The only difference? I now know that once the race starts, instinct will take over. My body will move independently of my brain. I know how to push, I know how to hurt. No matter how the race unfolds, the process of racing is instinctual. A bit rusty, perhaps, but the basics never go away.

hilly runScene from a hilly VT run

So what do you do when you’re out of practice? You jump right in! To a short and rambling blog post. To a weekend filled with racing.

That’s right — it’s race week in the HOTR-household. Or rather, race weekend. The races are here! Tonight I will be heading down to Manchester, NH for the Cigna 5K with a team from work. It’s an annual activity that’s awful and fun at the same time (Oh — traveling almost an hour to run a 5K on a hot August evening is not at the top of your Fun List?). This 5K also happens to be the first 5K Evan has ever beaten me in (not race, just 5K)….so as you can imagine, the stakes are high.

Then to continue the fun, we’ll be heading up to Stowe, VT on Saturday to run the 100on100 Relay. This will also be my very first weekend away from Amelia…ever. That’s right — it has taken me over a year and a half to leave my daughter overnight. My pre-motherhood self would be horrified. But that’s a story for another day…

Last year was the first year I ran 100on100 and it is nothing short of amazing. Exhausting in a different way than an overnight relay (same distance to run per person – less time to rest in between legs). I’m so excited that our team, Tread Lightly, will be back for Year 2. But this year feels like higher pressure. I’m running the same legs (Runner #2 for those who know the course – with a last leg up Mt Killington – barf) and so of course I want to do them faster. Even though there’s no real indication in my training that I am capable of doing so.

But I have been training. Never as much as I feel like I should, but there have been some great runs….and some crappy ones. Some speed work and hills and long runs and rest days. I’ve been reflecting a lot on training in general over the past couple of months, actually. And thinking about why I’m so quick to make excuses about what I’ve done at this point – why I’m so hesitant to even call it training. Despite the fact that I’ve fallen into a manageable rhythm, there’s still this tiny voice way in the back of my mind telling me I should do more. Relatively speaking, I’m running much less now than I used to. Taking more rest days. Where weekends used to revolve primarily around running (the prep, the run, the recovery), now they’re focused on lower impact activities. So it’s easy to discredit the work I am doing; to feel like it’s not enough.

walkingAmelia’s favorite activity – walking (or running!!) up and down and up and down the street.

 But the reality is I’m not training for marathons at the moment. My mileage, while lower, is not nothing. I may run less than 35 miles a week, but there’s structure to those runs. I push hard some days and recover on others. I hit the roads at 5:00 when I’d rather be sleeping, face the heat of the middle of the day to get my body acclimated, and seek out big hills when I’d rather run the flattest route possible. Could I do more? Most certainly. But I’m also proud of the work I have put in. Proud of the balance I’ve been able to strike between motherhood, work, and running (even though some weeks things feel anything but).

So I am determined to go into this weekend confident. This is my pep talk to myself. I am strong. I am able. And it’s going to be F-U-N.

Now you’ll have to excuse me. Just typing this post has caused my heart to race and hands to shake. If you need me, I’ll be in the bathroom….


Friday Facts

{Some random ramblings for your Friday afternoon, such as: The Running Tight Boycott lives, exciting Nuun news, and initial thoughts about the Saucony Mirage 3s}

December 7th, 2012. Exactly one year ago today, I confessed my hatred of running tights and proudly proclaimed that I would not wear a single pair until the start of 2012. My legs have never run so free (or so cold, but…minor detail).

While I wish I could tell you that I kept strong for the entire year of 2012 and never once let my legs suffer the confinement of tights…that would be a lie. But thanks to a strangely warm winter, the occasions when I broke down and wore them were few and far between.

Today I’m proud to announce that the fall/early winter running tight boycott is back and going strong. I am still running in shorts and plan to do so at least until the start of 2013. This year, I’m even taking it up a notch and not allowing myself to run on the treadmill when it’s really cold. Outside and in shorts all the way. I’m sure you all are incredibly impressed by my stupidity hardcore-ness. But that’s what we do here at Health{ontherun}: inspire the masses every single day.

Running Tight Boycott 2012

This means that during tomorrow evening’s 5K (which starts at 4:40pm…i.e. in the dark) I will be the fool dressed in short-shorts and compression socks.

Luckily for me, these beauties arrived in the mail just in time.

Holiday Pro Compression.jpgPro Compression Marathon Holiday Socks – first compulsive holiday purchase of the season

They will be the only bit of “festive” gear I’ll have on tomorrow. Because when you have a penchant for racing in neon pink and green, it isn’t long before your entire wardrobe consists of nothing but those two colors. (Someone send me a red Saucony shirt, stat!)

Holiday Pro Compression_2.jpg

Speaking of which, tomorrow’s 5K is going to be a complete suffer-fest. There. I said it.


I know I told you all that I was doing this race purely “for fun” and I suppose that’s still true….insofar as to say that I’m not under any sort of delusions that I can PR. I don’t even have any pressure on myself to hit a specific time goal. However, when you’ve barely been running for weeks, a race of any distance starts to lose a little bit of its “fun” and just becomes incredibly painful. Saying you are going to have fun running a 5K implies you are in some sort of shape to begin with. Well, besides “cheese-belly round,” the hot new shape I’ve been rocking the past couple of weeks…

In case you missed the announcement on Twitter earlier this week, Nuun will soon be releasing three new flavors. Among them?

watermelon nuun_posterPhoto via runhydrated on Instagram

My #teamwatermelon pleas have finally been answered!!

An {ontherun} Application – 2012 Nuun Hood to Coast Team from Lauren Buckel on Vimeo.

I have been waiting-wishing-hoping that Nuun would create a watermelon flavor since August 2011. This past summer, all my Nuun-dreams came true when I was handed a sample tube of Watermelon to try during Hood to Coast weekend. I can honestly tell you that it did not disappoint! The flavor isn’t too sweet or overpowering. It’s just a light, refreshing watermelon taste that is now one of my absolute favorites. And I’m not just saying that because I’m biased…

These new flavors are due out sometime early next year. I am already counting down the days.

I’ve done two runs in the Saucony Mirage 3s and really like them so far. But they feel like a totally different shoe. The design is now more similar to the Kinvara – the upper has the same FlexFilm overlays and the heel/midfoot has more/deeper grooves than the previous version. I loved how the shoe hugged my foot and the way that the new design makes it feel even more responsive than the 2s. I want to wait until I’ve put more miles on them before I do a full review, but my initial verdict is that the upgrades are good ones.

Saucony Mirage 3_side

Related: I have run a whopping 13 miles this week. Which is a big improvement from the 0 I ran last week, I suppose. The goal here is to start building back up slowly for the rest of the month. Come January, I want to hit the ground hard. I plan to end the week around 25 miles — a nice, conservative start back into the land of running. I’ve also managed to work in two days of strength training, a habit I’m going to actually try to stick to throughout marathon training this time around. We’ll see how that goes…

Marathon Week: Surviving the Storm

In case you haven’t heard the news, it’s NYCM Week Hurricane Sandy week! So far things have been relatively calm up in Vermont…weather-wise, anyway. I don’t think we’ll be getting hit nearly as hard as all of you down in DC/NYC/NJ. But after the devastating effects of Irene up here last year, I think it’s pretty safe to say that everyone is a little on edge. We’ll see what happens when the wind and rain start picking up later this evening.

I hope those of you who are getting hit right now are staying safe, warm, and dry. Yesterday, we prepared for the hurricane by buying a few essentials.

…or technically I should say Evan went out to buy the essentials.

hurricane essentialsWe won’t be able to cook anything or get water if the power goes out. Since carbs are essential this week, I had to make sure I was able to carbo-load somehow…even if that means drinking them.

…while I ran 9 miles. But considering the huge event that’s coming up this weekend, I’d say that was just as important of a task.

So now my final “long” run has been completed. Our dishes are clean. The laundry is done. We have extra water, carbs, board games and fully charged Kindles. All that’s left to do is relax and ride out the storm.

…both the one caused by mother nature and that which is the result of taper crazies + PMS’ing. (Sorry, TMI?) The {ontherun}house is not the most relaxing place to be this week.

For the rest of the week, I’ll be trying to stay sane and avoid annoying Evan and my sister as much as possible by focusing on a concrete list of marathon “to-dos.”

Things like…

Testing out new marathon gear. {This is the Saucony AM Run Cap in case you’re interested. I want one in every color.}

saucony capI heart sweat…and Ali

Rocking compression like it’s my job.

procompression&miragesPro Compression + brand new Mirage 2s…I may have a small obsession with green running gear.

Officially starting Operation: Leave No Carb Behind. Yesterday we made marinara sauce, homemade bread, and apple crisp, so I think I’m off to a pretty decent start. The plan for the next few days is to gradually increase the amount of carbohydrates I’m eating while still focusing on getting enough protein and healthy fats. As the week goes on, my overall intake of simple carbohydrates will increase while my consumption of fruits/veggies/other high fiber foods goes down.

Shouldn’t be too hard to do, seeing as all my favorite foods are carbs.


Figuring out my race day outfit. Obviously it’ll be heavy on the green and pink, but I still haven’t quite decided what top I’ll be running in yet. I guess we’ll wait and see how Sandy affects things for this weekend before I make the final call. It’s a good thing NYC is within driving distance, because I’m pretty sure I’ll be bringing a suitcase the size of a raft.

Reading race recaps and watching NYCM videos. Ali posted this one the other day and has promised me another showing on the big screen Friday night. If you’re running on Sunday, I highly recommend watching this. It’ll definitely get you excited.

The Road To The Finish from StoryView on Vimeo.

Obsessing over Writing down marathon goals and pacing plans. I plan to actually post about this later in the week, but it’s been difficult for me to actually figure out real goals for the race on Sunday (well, besides: “Don’t trash your legs before Ragnar Vegas”). You know how they say “The hay is in the barn” when you get to the taper period…? Well, my hay may be in there, but that doesn’t mean I feel confident I have enough. Although I’ve completed some great tempo runs and hill workouts, my overall weekly mileage and long run mileage were not really as high as they should’ve been. And I honestly don’t know what that means for the marathon. It sure would be nice if I had a little crystal ball I could look into to tell me my ideal race plan…

Trying not to freak out over marathon nightmares. Last night I dreamt that I finished the race in over 6 hours. I kept thinking “this has to be wrong!” when I looked at the time. Except that it was dark and everyone was gone when I got to the finish line. And then I couldn’t find my way back to Ali’s apartment, so I wandered aimlessly around the city for hours. Very productive race day visualization I’ve got going on over here…

Putting together my list of marathon pump-up songs. I don’t usually listen to my iPod for an entire marathon, but I do like having it to help with focus or motivation when I’m struggling. At this point I’ve been listening to the same old list of songs for every single long run this summer. Changing up my music is one of those never-fail pump up strategies for me.

Buying my ticket to Vegas. I’ll be celebrating my NYCM finish with a 24-hour party…relay style. The only problem is that I haven’t actually gotten myself a flight yet…despite knowing about this race for months now. Have I mentioned that I have a small problem with procrastination?

Putting my feet up. It can be hard to relax when the nerves are kicking in. But no amount of training that I do this week could actually help my marathon performance (in fact, extra running would only hinder it). So even though I have lots of extra nervous energy to run off, I’m focusing on getting 8 hours of sleep and spending more time on the couch.

The one upside to this nasty weather is that it makes it easier to be inside. So if it means I miss a planned run or two, so be it. Bring on the rest. Come Sunday, I want these legs to be rarin’ to go!


Insomnia & Mystery Pain – It Must Be Race Week!

This weekend, I’ll be returning to Hyannis to run my first race of 2012. And until this past Monday, I hadn’t actually given much thought to the race at all. In fact, I sort of forgot that it was coming up so quickly. I signed up for the Hyannis Half awhile ago because I had such a great time there last year and figured it could be a fun race to mix up my training a bit.

But, since I haven’t really been thinking about it, I haven’t actually done anything specific to prepare. I haven’t changed my training and haven’t exactly been the picture of health when it comes to my eating habits this week either. Instead, I just kept telling myself that there was no reason to be nervous or stressed about the race at all, because the plan was (is) to do it as a training run.

But we all know how good I am about making a race into training run <sarcasm>. And if I’m being perfectly honest, I will admit that I want to run this race fast – or faster than last year, at least. Last year I ran this half through the snow, while battling a really bad cold and nasty congestion. I wasn’t expecting to do anything spectacular, and ended up with a new PR. A PR that still stands to this day.

hyannis half_group

Granted, I don’t do too many half marathons, and all of them have been in the midst of training for something else. But if I can run a 1:33:07 while sick, reason goes to show that I should be able to run faster when I’m not sick. It hasn’t happened yet, though. Either I’m not so great at racing half marathons, or my secret to success is racing while sick.

Anyway – I hadn’t really been paying attention to any of those thoughts swirling around my head. I’ve actually been refusing to acknowledge any and all thoughts about the race. You know…because denial is always the best pre-race strategy.

But then this week – the problems started. Insomnia and mysterious foot/ankle pain. And I’m starting to wonder if maybe (just maybe) I’m a bit more nervous about this half marathon than I’ve allowed myself to admit.

The insomnia thing is nothing new. Sleep and I have always had a troubled relationship. I’m not the type of person that can fall asleep anytime and anywhere without problem. I often have trouble sleeping anywhere besides my own bed, and go through phases a couple of times each year where sleep becomes more difficult than a 20-mile run. It stops coming natural and starts feeling like work. Of course, the cruel irony is that the more you stress about not being able to fall alseep, the harder it is to do so. I try to tell myself that lying in bed, thinking about how I’m never going to be able to fall asleep isn’t exactly doing myself any favors. But I repeat the cycle every night anyway. Instead of letting my body drift off, my brain somehow thinks that if it works hard enough, it can will my body to sleep. Because that makes a whole lot of sense, right?

I suppose here is where I should have a few bullet points to tell you what healthy things I’ll be doing for the next couple nights to make sure I get enough rest before Sunday. But honestly? I’m 99.9% sure there’s going to be some Nyquil in my very near future. Yes, it’s that bad.

Which brings me to the foot pain. On Monday, I noticed some pain in the arch of my foot and my ankle. It didn’t seem awful (feels like it’s bruised…although there’s no actual bruise that I can see), so I kept my run really short and figured I could stretch/roll and be good as new the next day. Except I wasn’t. And like the smart stubborn runner that I am, I kept running on it anyway. You know, because if you run 8 miles easy instead of at the prescribed tempo pace, the pain will obviously go away. Right??

Yesterday, I finally came to my senses. Obviously continuing to run on something that hurts with every step (and especially when I take right turns…which I seem to do a lot. I think I need to start running in the opposite direction) is not good. And it certainly won’t help me race well on Sunday. So, despite the fact that yesterday was probably the nicest day of the year so far, I did not run. Instead, I took Koli for a 2.0 mile walk after work.

IMG_0878.JPGThis is not from yesterday’s walk. But it is my dog.

Just kidding! I actually have no idea how far we walked. The point is, though, that I walked. I did not run. And last night I crossed my fingers and went to sleep (or at least attempted to), hoping the pain would be gone in the morning.

As you may have guessed…it’s not. I know I can’t be frustrated that things aren’t completely better after one day of rest, but since I don’t know what is causing the problems in the first place, it’s hard not to be. The plan for now is to cross train today and hope to take it on a short test run tomorrow. And if all else fails…that’s why they make ibuprofen, right? (Kidding!! ….kind of).

So those are my jumbled pre-race thoughts. No calm inspirational message…just focusing on trying not to freak myself out too much. I know that the tougher I am going in mentally, the better the race will be. And at the end of the day, this is supposed to be fun. Yes, I want to do well, but this isn’t a race that I’ve been working really hard toward for months on end. No matter what happens, there will be other races. And plenty of time to chase down that half marathon PR.

Now if I could just get some sleep….

Honestly – if you have any great sleep tips that don’t involve knocking myself out with nighttime cold medication, please share!


To Race or Not to Race?

I’m not sure how it happened, but this summer I’ve gone a little race happy. Since June, I’ve done a 5K, two 10-mile races, a half marathon, and two 200-mile relays. And this is on top of the two relays and half marathon I did in May. To some, this may not seem like much. But considering that this is more than I used to do in an entire year, things are definitely changing over here in {ontherun}land.


The truth is, the girl who fell in love with marathon training because of all the long slow miles alone has suddenly come to dread them. And if you asked me today, “Would you rather go out and run a nice easy 10 miles alone or do a 10 mile race where you’ll be running so fast you’ll want to puke?” I’d choose the race. Hands down. I can’t tell you how or why it happened, but somewhere along the way, I fell in love with racing. And I’ve come to crave that feeling of pushing my legs to move faster than I ever thought they could.

But because of this, I find myself 6 weeks out from MCM without a single 20-miler under my belt. Since my goal usually is to run three 20’s before the race, this fact has me more than a little nervous. I know it’s not the end of the world if I just run two, but it does mean that I’ve got to toughen up and get myself out there for my first 20 this weekend – only one week post RTB Relay (recap coming soon!).


I have to admit that this sort of terrifies me. Through no fault but my own, my training this summer has been sub-par. I’ve gone through the motions, but I haven’t comitted the time and the miles that I did while training for National Marathon last March. I’m still committed to running MCM in October (don’t worry, that’s not what this post is about!) but I’ve got to use these next 6 weeks to really get my attitude in check – particularly because the next 3 are going to be especially tough.

So that brings me to this weekend, and the 20-miler that’s looming on the horizon. I’ve been trying to think up ways to make those long, lonely miles seem more bearable. And after a long summer of racing, my mind immediately asks, why not race??

Fortunately for me, there just so happens to be a Half Marathon this weekend in the same location as the 20-mile race I loved last March.


I’ve heard of the Wicked Half in the past, and have always thought it’d be fun race to run. I love the North Shore of Massachussetts, so doing a half marathon up there would be a lot of fun. But at this point, I’m just not sure if it’s the best idea.

On the positive side:

  • Breaking a run down into a warm-up, a half marathon, and a long cooldown sounds much more manageable than running 20 straight miles
  • I’d have support for 13.1 of those miles, which cuts down on the amount of water and fuel I’d need to bring.
  • I wouldn’t have to stress about mapping out a course beforehand – all I’d need to do is show up and start running.
  • I’d be surrounded by people, which would definitely help keep me motivated.
  • I think it would be a lot of fun.

But on the negative side:

  • I have a hard time running my “training pace” during races, and will most likely push harder than I should.
  • It’s only 13.1 miles – adding 7 on top of a race may be harder than I think, especially if I get on the line and start running too fast.
  • It starts really early and isn’t exactly around the corner. Traveling 1.5 hours for a 7 am start means it’ll be tough to fit in a few miles before the gun.
  • The fact that I keep signing up for races is sort of the reason I’m in this mess to begin with. Is adding another one to the mix really the answer?
  • {And finally} I keep racing but not PR’ing. Although I don’t expect to PR every single race I run, maybe it’s time to scale back and start focusing on running quality races over quantity.

I’ve been staring at the registration page for the Wicked Half for the past two days, and I still haven’t made up my mind. I can’t figure out what I’d rather be doing this Saturday morning – and what would make the miles go by quickest.

So, since all of you always have great insight, I figured I’d just ask. What would you do – race or not? And if you just think I’m crazy, that’s okay too. Feel free to tell me. I don’t hold any illusions that I’m the most logical runner in the world.

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