One year ago today, Runaissance Mom was created. At the time, I wanted a single location to share information since many of you were messaging me asking similar questions. Writing a blog was never a plan of mine; I disliked writing essays and papers during high school & college and not once did I ever think I’d pen blogs or share my inner thoughts with the world. Being so open with all of you has been both scary and therapeutic, but also a lot of fun. I’ve enjoyed putting my goals on paper for you to see and reliving races through my recaps.
So, one year and many milestones later, what’s next? 2 months from now, I’ll be tackling the JFK 50 Mile with my friend Sara. When I have talked about doing this challenge, I’ve had people question, “Are you a glutton for punishment?” and “What possesses you to run for so long?” All I can answer is “Why not?”
Why not try to see how far you can go? Why not jump into what could be a life-changing adventure?
We aren’t trying to set any records or finishing in a fast time; we just want to have an experience. Being out in nature, walking and running along the Appalachian Trail and the C&O during the autumn months is sure to be beautiful.
Yes, 50 miles is a long way (about the same distance from Winchester to Reston). I imagine we will experience every emotion through our travels – excitement, anxiety, pain, worry and a sense of accomplishment when we reach that finish line. I am lucky to have someone willing to attempt such a crazy idea with me. We’ve only been friends for about a year, but I know we work well together and will keep each other good company along the way. I can’t wait to write the race recap!
Thank you for sharing the last year with me. Who knows what the future holds, but I look forward to telling you all about the crazy challenges I say yes to!
Microwave some popcorn, sit back and get ready for a novel!
Let’s rewind to the Monday prior to the race – woke up with a sore throat. Really?! I rarely get sick or deal with allergies and of course it would happen race week. Then Tuesday, I woke up with poison ivy! I guess when I was taking photos of friends at Chick-fil-a Dash for Diabetes, I must have leaned against a tree with ivy on it. Crap. Now I could barely breathe and was itchy.
On top of all of that, reduced mileage for a taper and my body wasn’t feeling all that great. Ran a solo 10K in the rain Wednesday morning and felt okay. Wednesday eve, added a little streak of blue for Boston luck.
Thursday, met up with Shane for an easy 4 and ended up running into a few other running friends along the way.
Friday around 9 a.m., the nerves started. I was running a marathon in 2 days – yikes! Still wasn’t feeling 100% and was running out of time.
Before I continue, I need to go back a few months. When I first said I would run Erie, Mario said he was thinking of coming along to run with me. A couple months later, he showed up to a group run and presented me with a piece of paper – proof of race registration!
So, Saturday morning, woke up ready to roll. John, Mario and I piled in Mario’s car and we were off on our 5 hour journey.
We stopped a few times along the way and arrived at Presque Isle just as packet pickup and the expo began. The process was quick and the expo was very small as expected.
We walked over to the lake shore, took a photo and the drove the course. Flat, shaded and beautiful.
Next, we headed back to check in at the hotel and got ready for a shakeout run. Since the hotel was around a lot of shopping, we headed back to Presque Isle to run. I was feeling a little better, but still felt a few niggles here and there. Tried to just get myself into race mode. After our run, back again to hotel and took a dip in the hot tub. Felt great!!
Off to a pasta dinner – of course so many runners there, and Boston jackets all over!
With a 4 a.m. alarm set, I was in bed at 8 p.m. after a nice rubdown. I thought I would have a tough time falling asleep, but was asleep fairly quickly. Unfortunately, woke up around 2:45 a.m. My eyelids flew open and my neck was stiff. Great. I tossed and turned for the last hour, uncomfortable and ready to get out of bed. Finally, 4 a.m.
Dressed, ate my pre-race breakfast, gathered my things and we were out the door.
We parked just in time for the shuttle buses to arrive and jumped on board. It was DARK! We got flashlights in our race bags and now we understood why. No lights in the bathrooms, around the pavilion or starting line.
The weather was absolutely perfect. Just about 50 degrees and no wind. After a few trips to the Portapotties, the sun began to rise and it was time to head to the starting line.
The starting line was fairly crowded, yet a couple runners in front of us were from Loudoun County; not too far from Winchester. We had a few last minute race instructions, the anthem was played and then we were off!
Getting off the line was slow going; congested through a narrow path. Mario and I had to weave through and around runners until we caught back up with one another maybe 200 meters off the start.
Now Mario is a sub 3 hour marathoner and here he is running my pace. During one of the early miles, he jokingly yawned at the pace and then mentioned how this would be his slowest 10K ever. Thanks Mario.
We locked in pretty well at a good clip. Felt easy; wasn’t breathing hard and was enjoying the tree-lined path and lake to our left. Around mile 7, we hit one of the only (tiny) hills we would see twice on the course. We passed a man playing the accordion and several very energetic spectators.
The Erie marathon has a water stop at every mile, which is great not only for hydrating but for helping those miles go by. In addition, local sports teams man the stops and everyone votes on who was the best. One had a moonbounce and yet another around mile 10 featured young men in Speedos!
Still feeling great, we were headed to the halfway mark. I knew I’d see John soon. Around mile 12, I heard people yelling for a Becky with signs. I thought to myself, “I’m going to pretend they are cheering for me.” As we got closer, Mario yells, “Look who it is!!” Our running friends who are family, the Ilnickis. They surprised me by driving all the way up just to cheer us on! Wow.
Mario turned to me and said, “There’s some motivation for you.” Uh yeah. So much so that I dropped two fast miles in a row accidentally. I knew I’d see them after I passed the halfway mark again, so made sure I was close to the side for high 5’s and I even blew a kiss.
Off we continued; still plugging away at pace and feeling great. Fueled for 3rd time and kept hydrated. Around 19, I started feeling a couple of twinges in my calves. Crap. Up until now, was feeling absolutely on point…and then the cramps set in.
If you’ve never experienced these before, the only way I can explain what I felt was along the lines of something crawling under my skin, up and down my calves. Then, extreme tightening and straightening of my lower leg. Ugh. I stopped and stretched, drank more, etc. Whatever I could do. Poor Mario was concerned but did such a great job keeping me moving. At each stop, he’d grab extra drinks for me and would run holding them until I needed more.
This continued for 5 miles. Mario kept looking at his watch. I knew he was trying to calculate our pace and what we needed to do. I also knew what we needed to do and his constant watch checking was stressing me out. Finally, I said, stop looking at your watch! I was angry and frustrated with the situation but never felt like giving up or felt like I wasn’t going to qualify. I knew I’d make it to the finish one way or another. Mind over matter. I knew I wanted this BAD.
At mile 25, I gave it all I had. It felt awful and it felt slow. Calves were still seizing up and I was so close to the finish line. Mario was hooting and hollering; so excited that we were going to finish soon. Somehow I ran the last mile in a 7:44 even though it felt like the longest and slowest mile ever.
We crossed with a clock time of 3:26:05 (chip time 3:25:24) – I qualified for Boston and PR’d by almost 20 minutes. Wow. Surreal.
I was so excited to tell my family, my friends and my coach my results yet I had no service at the park. Finally was able to get the word out to all who had been impatiently waiting. So many people played a role in helping me achieve this goal and I was ecstatic to share my success. It truly has been an adventure filled with highs and lows.
Looking back at race photos sure makes me smile. Having Mario run this race with me will always be a great memory. Thank you Mario – for your time, encouragement and support every step of the way!
Thanks to John for the pre-race massage and encouragement, Ilnickis for surprising me, Jeremy for coaching and running with me, TRD for all the training support, and all of you friends and family who sent lots of well wishes. I thought of so many of you along the way.
Today, I get to submit my registration for the Boston Marathon! I will definitely keep you updated on Boston as well as the next adventure…what’s next?! I’ll share one tidbit with you – it involves this pretty lady!
Less than one year ago, I ran my first marathon. At this time, I said I’d only run one. It was painful. Difficult. Rough. Long.
Yet, I wanted more. Boston. Why not?
Over 700 miles run…over 80 days of 4 a.m. wake up calls.
Dark, cloudy mornings…
Rain, wind, and thunder…
Oppressive heat and humidity…
Hills (oh the hills!), speed work, tempo runs…
Finding the time…
Blood, sweat and tears…
Hitting the pavement as the world sleeps
Sound of footsteps beside me
SVR track workouts
Stupid, “punny” jokes
RIT group runs
Feelings of success after nailing a workout Confidence Focused.
You all have given me a plethora of positive memories to carry with me over 26.2 miles. When I begin to hurt, when the defeating voice pops into my head, I will think of the fun I’ve had over this training cycle.
remember running around Handley as you ran your first track workout.
remember running and listening about the infamous fowl attack.
think of running from Winchester to Woodstock with you.
think of sharing a glass of wine and pizza with you after a tough run.
remember running 14 miles through the streets while kicking a ball with you.
think “the floor is lava!” and want to jump onto the nearest ledge.
remember sharing in your successes and in your failures.
I do believe things happen and people are brought into your life for a reason. Being surrounded by those who challenge and push me to my limits (and beyond) has changed what I once thought possible.
Do I have what it takes?
One shot, one opportunity to seize everything I’ve ever wanted in one moment. Will I capture it, or just let it slip?
I’m not foolish; this will not be easy. No matter how well the training goes, the race itself is a blank slate. Anything can happen.
The mental battle will rage, my muscles will fatigue, I will have to push through.
Even if I do not BQ, how could I fail? Overall, I’ve won.
To all who comment on my workouts, my social media posts, and cheer me on from the sidelines, thank you.
To those who have taken one step with me along the way, thank you. Getting to run with you at group runs – whether you are in the front or the back of the pack – you’ve inspired me to keep going.
To my teammates, who have seen me at the crack of dawn, no makeup on, sweating, dirty and on the verge of puking (or passing out), thank you for never leaving my side.
To my coach, thank you for the guidance, having the ability to know when to pull me back, push me ahead, speak the truth (“it’ll hurt in the marathon too”) or say nothing at all. It’s been a training cycle full of highs and lows, but we made it to the end.
To my family and husband who have supported my crazy goals, thank you. Thank you for the breakfasts, dinners, and whatever else has been needed so I can train.
Although I will be 300 miles away, you all will be with me every step of the way.
Am I ready? Yes, more than ever. My time is now.
This week has been tough. Allergies, poison ivy, heavy workload; obstacles. The marathon is a monster. Anything can happen Sunday. Besides qualifying, having fun is one of my big goals – I want this to be a memorable experience.
I’ll see you on the other side of the finish line!
Have little time to fit in running AND a strength workout?
Maximize time and perform this circuit routine for an quick, intense full body workout. While improving cardio, you will also increase the calorie burn, develop strength and enhance flexibility which all can contribute to faster and healthier running.
No need for fancy equipment since we will be using bodyweight. Buuuuut, you have to promise to work hard through the entire workout!
Start with a 400 meter jog or run between each set of exercises. Do each exercise for 30 seconds. Progress up to 800 meter jog or run, and 60 seconds of each exercise.
Jog/Run 400 meters
Jog/Run 400 meters
Downward Dog Pushups
Jog/Run 400 meters
Alternating Step Ups (ledge/park bench/bleacher)
Tricep Push Ups
Jog/Run 400 meters
There you go! A mile of running with a full body workout and still plenty of time to go get ice cream, or, I mean, enjoy the rest of your day with your family and friends…and ice cream.
Runners, and many other athletes, can benefit from adding this short routine into their workout routine. Most runners suffer from weak, tight and under-developed hip muscles and believe me, your hips will not lie – they will let you know when they are struggling. Weak hips can attribute to a myriad of injuries including sciatica, IT band syndrome, runner’s knee, piriformis issues and more.
Think of the hips as the fulcrums of leg levers driving our bodies forward. If your hips are tight, your legs are not going to be able to provide optimal power and speed. Concentrate on your form as you perform each exercise; not only strengthening but being mindful of the movement pattern.
“It’s all in the hips. It’s all in the hips.” – Chubbs, Happy Gilmore
Hip strengthening and mobility exercises should be a part of your weekly plan, whether you are injured or not. You can easily perform these exercises before your next run (or during your next Netflix binge watching sesh). Make the time, so you won’t lose time due to injury.
All exercises will be performed 10 times on each leg.
Side Hurdles (front & back)
Bent Leg Swings
Leg Swings (front/back)
Leg Swings (side/side)
You will see we need to work on Jeremy’s hip mobility a little (I’m not immune either, need to do this routine more often!).
Better. Faster. Stronger. No, not lyrics by Kanye, but the benefits you can gain through plyometrics.
Bouncing off Jeremy’s post last week about a jump rope workout (see what I did there?), I thought I would delve more into the world of why distance runners should add jump training into their routine.
When we put one foot in front of the other, our leg muscles engage in what is referred to as a Stretch-Shortening Cycle – an eccentric contraction (lengthening of the muscle) immediately followed by a concentric contraction (shortening of the same muscle). A muscle which is stretched right before an explosive movement will contract more forcefully and more rapidly.
Think about a rubber band. If I wanted to shoot the rubber band at someone, what do I do first?
For maximum performance, I’d pull back (stretch) on the band to build up energy. When I release, the stored energy will take action and (hopefully) hit the target. Our muscles are the same. During the stretch phase, our muscles store energy and then release – hopefully quickly and forcefully – to propel us forward.
Simply put, running is a form of jumping – a series of single leg hops, over and over again. In a marathon, men average about 57,640 strides whereas women average about 63,000 strides – those hops sure add up! Isolating the jumping element through plyometrics is a great way to boost running performance without needing to increase your mileage as well as make each of those strides count.
Proper form is key – not only for injury prevention but for maximum benefit. You should have a solid base foundation of cardio and strength before adding plyos to your routine. If you are working through one of the Runner In Training Enhanced Run+Strength plans, explosive training is added to your program after we’ve built up your overall endurance and strength and can be strategically prescribed leading up to prepare you for your big race.
Plyometric Exercises for Runners:
Bounding: this exercise is also great for stretching the hamstrings. Bounding is performed by exaggerating your running form and jumping with each step for about 25 meters. Repeat 2-3 times.
Squat Jumps: Powerhouse. Explosive and effective exercise to power up those glutes!
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Toes should be pointed straight ahead. Bend down into squat position and explode upward with your arms stretched above your head. When you land, land softly with your knees bent as you lower back into the squat position. Do 2 sets of 10-15 reps.
Switch Lunge Jump: You can’t get much more running-specific than a jump lunge. Switch jumps target all those running muscles in an explosive fashion.
Begin in a lunge position, weight equally distributed on both legs. Jump and reverse the position of your legs, lowering back down into a lunge position. Drive your arms just as you would while running. Do 2 sets of 12-15 reps (each leg).
Single Leg Lateral Jumps: C’mon coach – running is forward! Why do I need to jump side to side? Moving laterally, we are engaging different muscles which can help us not only with our athleticism but with injury prevention. Strength, stability, balance, control – simple and effective.
Find a line or use tape to create a line on the floor. Jump over the line back and forth. Minimize ground contact time – land softly and take off quickly. Do 2 sets of 12-15 hops (each side).
Burpees: Brilliant move – full body exercise and also boosts your cardio.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Squat down and place your hands on the floor, jump feet back into a plank position. Do a push-up. Jump feet back to hands, stand up and jump as high as you can. Repeat. 2 sets of 10-15 reps.
Bench Taps: Quick turnover!
Stand in front of a step with both feet on the ground. Rapidly alternate tapping the top of the step with each foot, springing off the ground each time. Drive your arms in your running motion. Do 2 sets of 20 taps (each foot).
Plyometric training can be a powerful tool for improving your running economy. So, if you are ready, go on now – jump up, jump up and get down!
Holy smokes, I haven’t posted a blog in almost a month! A lot has been going on, so let’s have a #FlashbackFriday recap.
June didn’t include much racing, but lots of crazy hill training, closing out running club and putting finishing touches on an exciting project.
This 3rd session of running club was fun and yes, a little challenging with 40 kiddos! So thankful for all my volunteers who run with us at practices. Each session I coach, I learn a little something new and am always inspired by these young runners. Below is a message I received from one of my runner’s parents:
“You have truly given my son a sport he loves! We have tried t-ball, baseball and basketball. All of which he didn’t complain about going, but we could tell he wasn’t into it at all. This is the first time he has ever been excited to go to practice or do a race! In fact, immediately after the Apple Blossom race, his first words were, “When is my next race?!” This running club has helped him find his sport! Thanks to you and running club, I know he will have many more races he is looking forward to in his future.”
Yes, my heart burst. The joy I receive in helping to foster a love for running in others is unfathomable. Watching someone reaching their goals or overcome an obstacle they didn’t think is possible is truly amazing. Which makes me want to tell you about that project I’ve been working on…
If you haven’t heard by now, my running coach/partner and I launched a new business this month – Runner In Training, LLC! Jeremy and I have been running together for nearly a year and have seen much improvement by combining running and strength workouts. Many times during our early bird runs, we’d chat about the possibility of combining our strengths and offering other runners a comprehensive training program. Since we have similar ambitious personalities, the dream didn’t stay just a dream for long. Once we started sharing ideas, the business was full speed ahead and we can’t wait to share all we have in store over the months to come!
Side note: We are about to have our 2nd group run tomorrow, so if you are in the area, please join us. Check out the details here:
On the 4th of July, I raced at the Liberty 5K here in Winchester. What a fun race. There were approximately 300 runners, great awards, fun door prizes and a lot of red, white & blue. Prior to the race, I didn’t really set a time goal. Since I am deep into marathon training, shifting into 5K race pace gear was a bit different. I went out hard at a 6 flat with teammate Alex ahead of me by about 50 meters for the first half of the race. Alex and I run track workouts and long runs often side by side so I kept telling myself there was no reason I couldn’t catch him. Around mile 2, I finally passed him up a hill and felt bad for just a second since it was his birthday (Sorry Alex!). The course is a bit challenging with a few late race hills which didn’t phase me too much after all the hill work the previous month. Surprised myself with an 18:45 – a new PR. My favorite part of the race: after I finished, I ran back down to the last hill to encourage other runners and help them push all the way to the finish line as well as cheering on the kids in the mile.
What else has happened since I talked to you last? Well….although I have my degree in Kinesiology, I never had any certifications. I am proud to say after a lot of studying and a tough exam, I received my National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Training certification! In the near future, I am hoping to add another certification to my name but will tell you more about that one in a future post.
Update on chasing the unicorn …. Wow, as soon as I wrote that, butterflies started dancing in my stomach. At this point, I am under the 60 day mark for my BQ attempt. Training has been going extremely well. Since the Erie marathon is in early September, there is a chance of warmer temps, so I’ve been trying to adapt to running in higher heat and humidity. One of my major goals in this training cycle has been to stay healthy and injury-free and I’m happy to say I haven’t had any issues. I’ve been averaging 45-60 mile weeks with a lot of variety – track, fartleks, hill repeats, LSD (not as slow as Coach would like I think) and am feeling strong. Training has been a lot of fun and I am thankful for my running crew who is very encouraging and continues to push me every week.
Sorry so long but I had a lot to say! Hope all of you are enjoying the summer!