March 30, 2015

Running Bloggers & Training Plans

Mom and I have always discussed how much we enjoy reading about other runner’s training plans and results. We genuinely enjoy reading how people put together a plan, whether it’s working with a coach, evaluating notable plans like Galloway or Higden, or incorporating cross training and strength training. Honestly, I wish more bloggers talked about their training plans and how they picked them. Given all of this, you can imagine my sentiments when someone posted something on Twitter last week directly addressing bloggers and asking them not to write about training plans unless they held an exercise science degree or are a certified coach.

I sat back for a minute and thought about it…and then became really fired up. Just because I don’t have an exercise science degree or a personal training certification or a coaching certification does not mean that I shouldn’t discuss training. Furthermore, I don’t believe that I have ever portrayed myself as a coach or fitness professional so there shouldn’t really be any confusion in how I’m discussing my training. In the posts where we have talked about our training, we have discussed how and why we developed a plan. As you know, Mom now uses a coach from an extraordinarily reputable running club.  Basically I bow down and worship Sami, a twelve time Ironman finisher and Kona IM qualifier. We have both had great success using the Run Less, Run Faster plans so we’ve recommended that plan for consideration to other runners. And we’ve used Jeff Galloway’s plans for many of the runDisney challenge races.

Heck, I can write whatever I want on this page, but generally speaking we try to be coherent, honest, and transparent about running, racing, and everything else. More specifically, we both feel passionate about being transparent with our training. We hope it might be insightful to someone else. Maybe someone would realize that you can do speed work on a TM like I do when you don’t have access to a track. Maybe someone might consider adding pick-ups to a long run like Mom often does. Maybe someone would read my post about core work and provide recommendations for something that worked for them.

My Twitter buddy also seemed to say that personalized, custom plans were the only legitimate training plans. Obviously a plan that is tailored specifically for you has benefits and lots of them. I’m not in any way discounting the personalized coaching experience. However, I don’t believe that’s the only option and in some cases, that may not be the right option for everyone. Mom and I have discussed this several times. She has tried to encourage me to consider Sami or the rest of the WOL coaching crew for virtual coaching. When she recommended it to me earlier this year for Princess, I told her I wasn’t ready to commit to an intense training plan. My heart wasn’t in it so I used Jeff Galloway’s Glass Slipper Challenge plan instead. And guess what, I scored a sweet 10k PR?! Guess the plan worked, eh? When it comes to personalized coaching plans, some folks may not have the financial resources for this option or may not simply be interested in working with a coach. You can find a very solid training plan from highly reputable sources such as Galloway, Higden, or Runner’s World. And these are free online resources!

I generally subscribe to the philosophy that blogging is about community. Its a community of shared experiences and camaraderie. When it comes to training plans, there are many options for consideration and I’m of the mindset that there is no “right” option for everyone. Finances, schedules, family support, goals, and the like all play into what makes a training plan right. We greatly value from sharing our experiences with others and hearing your opinions and we hope that conversation continues.

How do you choose a training plan and what advice would you give to others about selecting a plan?

March 29, 2015

Weekly Roundup: March 29th

While this was the first full week of spring, but it sure did not feel like it.  Race day Sunday was far too humid and we only had one day in the 70's, but by late afternoon it was back in the 50's.  It snowed all day in the Boston area Saturday but luckily it did not stick on the roads.   Yesterday was my longest run of my marathon training cycle and it is so nice to know there are only 16 miles on my training plan for next weekend.  Reading and relaxing were part of my week, especially the day before my 22 miler.  This book has been such a fun read!

In between rain and poor weather , little Lulu got a few walks, but not every day since rain was part of our week!  She wanted play time on the other days!

My weekend has been wonderful so far including some exciting family news and then this arrived in my mailbox:

Here is a peak at what we did for training this week:

Sunday, March 22nd
Pam: Ran 10.26 miles with Lynda 11:59 average pace
Christine: Volunteered at Shamrock races for 5 hours!

Monday, March 23rd
Pam: Rest day
Christine: Rest day, resistance bands for hips

Tuesday, March 24th
Pam: 5 mile run at 9:10 average pace
Christine: 3 mile TM run at 9:00 pace, Abs with medicine balls, push-ups

Wednesday, March 25th
Pam: 20 minutes stationary bike, 25 minutes elliptical machine, sit ups, plank
Christine: 30 min stationary bike, resistance bands for hips

Thursday, March 26th
Pam: Ran 5.4 miles (50 minutes) at 9:15 pace
Christine: 3.5 miles on TM at 8:55 pace, weights, stretching

Friday, March 27th
Pam: Rest day
Christine: 30 min stationary bike, squats, lunges, weights, stretching

Saturday, March 28th
Pam: Ran 22 miles at 10:00 pace and ate everything in sight afterwards
Christine: Long walk for Paddy, stretching

Did you have a good week?  Anything special happen?

March 27, 2015

Jeff Galloway running school coming to Connecticut!

Disclosure:  As Galloway bloggers we were sent this information to share with our readers.  No compensation was received.

If you are lucky enough to live in Connecticut or nearby, you will have a great running opportunity coming your way on April 11th!   Jeff Galloway, former Olympian, author, runner and running coach will be holding a workshop for runners.  Christine and I followed Jeff's training plans for several of our Disney challenge races, most recently Christine ran the Glass Slipper Challenge and got a huge PR during the 10k.  Our first encounter with Jeff was during the Wine and Dine Half Marathon runDisney meetup in November of 2012.  What an experience to be able to run with Jeff and then listen to him speak.  He is so encouraging to every runner whether you are a back of the pack runner or a sub 3 hour marathoner.

Jeff next to Mickey!

 Please let us know if you sign up!  We will be most anxious to hear all about the program.  Unfortunately, neither of us can attend this year because we will be in Boston the following weekend!

Jeff Galloway's Running School

Olympian Jeff Galloway is coming to our area to help you stay injury free, run faster, go farther, weigh less and enjoy running more.  Beginners, Boston Qualifiers, runners at all levels will learn the tools to gain control over the mental and physical challenges, using mind, body and spirit.   His energizing style and successful methods are based upon the feedback from over 300,000 runners.

See what others had to say about the running school experience!
“Extremely motivating”      
“I got all of my questions answered”  
“This was fun and energizing”                                          
“I learned more in Jeff's Running School than during my 15 years of marathoning”
This was easily the best value in time and/or money that I have ever spent on running”

Where: The Italian Society of Middletown
72 Court Street, Middletown.  (located across from the CT Superior Court building). 
Free parking in municipal lot adjacent to Court Street.

When: April 11, 10am-1pm
Cost: online ($99) or walk up ($129)

●         Three hours of the information you need to reach your goals—injury free
●         Ask all of your individualized questions
●         Email access to Jeff afterwards
●         Specific methods on nutrition, running form, setting up pace, running hills, breathing
●         How to stay injury free, run long runs without being exhausted, run faster, stay motivated

Favorite spring foods and a confession

For the Friday linkup with the DC girls, Courtney, Mar and Cynthia this weeks topic is food, specifically your favorite spring foods.  Be sure to check out the other posts in the linkup!

My list will be a little different than others, because right now, with Boston looming on the horizon, I have given up some of my favorite things in order to be in optimal shape when race day arrives.  Yikes, only 24 days and I will be running the biggest race of my life.  Back to the topic at hand, here are some of the foods that make there way into our home in the springtime or that we will indulge in when we go out!

1.  Boombalati's Ice Cream This place, located less than 3 miles from my home has seriously the best homemade ice cream in town.  Refraining from nightly visits is a chore, but with warmer weather, the staff will be seeing me more frequently.

Tom had chocolate peanut butter and I had coffee and mocha chip

2.  Hand picked strawberries  We have a lovely farm nearby that has a gorgeous produce stand and pick your own strawberries and blueberries in the spring.  I usually pick at least once and sometimes twice to stock the freezer with fresh berries.  They are so sweet and of course we eat some while picking. This is allowed, but be careful, I had a stomach ache from eating so many my first time picking!

3.  Dinner at Bluewater Grill  Being lucky enough to live in a beach town, we have some fabulous seafood restaurants practically on our doorstep.  Last night we made a last minute decision to go to Bluewater, famous for their crabcakes.  I forgot to take a photo of my meal, but I did get a photo of the view from our table.

View from our table, pretty sweet!

4. Fresh vegetables from our garden We only have rosemary in our garden at the moment, but next week we will be planting red and green peppers, tomatoes , and more herbs.  There is nothing better than fresh produce you pick in your back yard.

5.  Christmas Candy  Hidden in the recesses of my kitchen pantry are all these goodies from Christmas.  After binging on sweets for a solid month, January was the time to step away from the candy.  However, on April 22nd, when I return from Boston, I plan to dig in and have a little feast!

What is your favorite indulgence?  Are you good at stepping away from the treats?

March 26, 2015

I'm running with the Marines!!

You probably think Pam is writing this post, right? Because I swore off marathons for 2015. Heck, I considered swearing them off FOREVER after Richmond Marathon. That race sucked. It sucked hard. And I wasn't sure I ever wanted to tempt that devil again. But I did. After chatting with my MCM running buddy, Danielle, I entered the lottery on Sunday.  I didn't really tell anyone. I figured I wouldn't get in and that would be that. But yesterday morning when I woke up and did my typical social media scrolling while brushing my teeth, I saw someone mention they had gotten their lottery notification on Twitter. And I quickly clicked over to my email. It started with "Congratulations..."

"I'm in." I literally said it out loud to myself. And then I grinned. I was going to run another marathon, one that means a lot to me and holds a special place in my heart. I texted Mom. And then Danielle. And I waited. A few hours later, my heart sank. Danielle didn't get in. I had already made plans for us to run together in my mind. I'm hopeful that there might be a charity bib or a transfer bib in her future (hint hint).

I can't wait to share more about my journey back to "Take the Iwo" this October. It's sure to be a busy summer with ramping up for marathon training!

March 25, 2015

A missed PR or goal time does not equal a bad race

As runners, we set our sights on certain goal races each year.  Trying to achieve a personal record (PR) in a race is both exciting and terrifying at the same time.  If you have trained hard and done all the work necessary to make the PR happen, good for you.  But, unfortunately there are things you can't control on race day.  I observed many runners on Sunday have both great races and disappointing ones.  But missing that PR does not mean that you had a bad race.  On the contrary, sometimes our best fought battles in adverse conditions will make the next PR attempt happen with ease. The conditions for racing on Sunday included warmer temps than normal and 90% humidity. Some runners thrive in these conditions and others wilt. Personally I find heat and humidity stifling when I run, so cold weather races are my favorites.

How you handle a missed PR or goal time after a race can be the most challenging thing a runner has to do. No one has a perfect racing year so there is bound to be a race or two that you would like to have as a "do over".  My do over race from last year is the Marine Corps Marathon.  I still look back on that race with some disappointment, but more due to my lack of pre race knowledge than my actual performance.  Making a tactical error where I lined up to race was a mistake. However, this was a great learning experience and I will now always research every aspect of a race so this hopefully will never happen again.

Most runners need a few weeks to get over a performance that did not meet their expectations.  The first few days you will deal with many highs, lows and a sore body which is not very helpful after a long training cycle for a half or full marathon. But here's the thing.  You probably need to spend this time resting your body and figuring out what race you want to run next as redemption.  Just last year, we saw a blogging friend Jen have a miserable day at the NYC Marathon and then crush her local marathon two weeks later.  I am not suggesting that is the right course of action for every runner, but she had trained really well for NYC and handled the nearly back to back marathons with ease. Her redemption race turned into a huge PR race and happiness all around!

One of the greatest things about running is that there is always another race and another chance.  Each race teaches us so many things and future goals can be met from those experiences.  Let's try to celebrate those less than perfect races for what they are, a way to learn from our mistakes.

Did you ever have a bad race?  Did you run another for redemption?

March 24, 2015

Volunteering at Shamrock Half & Full Marathon

Volunteering at a local race has been high on my list for a while. The only absent factor was an opportunity. Considering the (literally) thousands of people who have donated their time on my race mornings to make MY races happen, I have always felt that supporting a race on the other side was important. When I did some research on Shamrock race volunteer opportunities a few weeks before the race, I was surprised to see that there were still openings for the coveted finish line positions. I inquired with Adam if he was interested and he was, so I signed both of us up for finish line duties during the half and full marathon races.

In advance of race day, we received great communication with clear instructions on what to expect on race morning and where to park. We were easily able to find the parking area at the Convention Center in Virginia Beach and within a few minutes, hopped on the shuttle to the finish line area. We were easily able to find the volunteer tent and pick up our shirts. Mine more closely resembled a t-shirt dress but I wasn't really concerned about fashion at this part of the morning. We snapped some early morning photos of King Neptune, presiding over the finish line and then it was time to find our volunteer coordinator at the finish line.
I never get tired of seeing the King

Such a quiet place about 90 minutes before the runners arrived! 
Once we arrived at the finish line area, we were excited to learn that we would help with medal handouts! The first step, however, was unwrapping and organizing all of the half marathon medals onto tables. Considering there were 14,000 runners (I think that was the number they mentioned), there were A LOT of medals. The cool temps made it tough to open the small plastic bags in which each medal was wrapped but we all seemed to find a rhythm eventually. Every time we were working on our "last box" for our table, another 2 or 3 boxes of medals seemed to materialize out of nowhere. It took us a good hour to finish opening and organizing the medals.
Medals for days! 
Once we were done, it was time to wait on the half marathon runners. And luckily we didn't wait long since we heard that when the front runners hit the boardwalk, they were on pace for a course record (which is 1:02-something). There were no course records on Sunday, but the winner clocked a 1:03.40! Wowzers, that's fast! AND he won the 8k on the previous day. Speedy!

At first, the runners came through slowly and then all of a sudden (probably somewhere around 1:50 pace or so) it was as if flood gates opened. I handed out medals as fast as I could grab them off my arm, where we all had them staged. I tried to make a note to congratulate each runner by name, if it was on their bib. Now I understand why many races don't place medals around your takes a lot longer than simply handing out the medals.

Throughout the morning, I saw local friends, coworkers, blog friends, and Twitter friends. The finish line is simply an amazing place to see people. For the most part, we saw smiles, hugs, cheers, and high fives. We also saw wobbly legs and a few tears (and not the good kind of tears). I loved sharing hugs with buddies and squealing over new PRs. I'm so proud of everyone I saw - Preston, Kathryn, Mar, Sarah, Becca, and many others.

The volunteer experience was easily as rewarding as running and I appreciate the organization and great communications from J&A about the event. We even received a post-event follow-up email today asking for feedback for future races, and not just for volunteering. That impressed me! Ever volunteered at a race? What was the highlight?

I can't write this post without mentioning a really sad piece of news from Sunday morning. As we were sitting on the shuttle headed to the race finish line area, Adam received a call that his beloved aunt who had been battling stomach cancer passed away. He was a real trooper to stick out the morning and keep his commitment to volunteer at the finish line area. Aunt Cathy loved to volunteer and he felt it was an appropriate way to honor her memory on Sunday morning.