Changing race plans


At the beginning of March, I mentioned that I was working with Coach Bennett to revise my training to set me up for a stronger fall race season. After a fairly craptastic winter, I really needed to take a step back, re-access some goals and decide what I really want to achieve before 2014’s in the history books. Coach Bennett and I have agreed to shift the focus to shorter distances and work on building some speed, before going after some goal half marathons in the fall.

So, of course, this means some changes to my race plans:

  • While I’ll be running the Newport 10 Miler at the end of the month, this will just be a fun run – my goal of 10-mile PR will have to wait. I’m no where near ready to “race” this distance, but I do love the course and look forward to a fun blogger meet-up that’s in the works. Given how few 10-mile races there are in the area, it looks like I may have to let go of the goal of a new PR for this distance until next year.
  • This will also be the first spring in three years where I won’t be running a half marathon. Originally, I had planned to run the Runner’s World Heartbreak Half in June, but when the planets aligned for our family to book a much needed vacation during the same time, vacation & family-time won out over racing.
  • I’m now hunting for a couple of 10K races – like the 10-milers around here, they’ve become harder and harder to find.
  • And, as for the goal of 14 races in 2014 – for now I’m backing off. It could happen, but I’m not going to push it. Staying injury-free, getting stronger and going after the much-desired half marathon PR will be the priorities.

 Anyone else re-thinking goals for this year?


Choosing Goal Races


I’ve been pouring over race options lately trying to figure out a plan for 2014. Thanks to GI issues and a tumble that left me seriously hobbled, I came up short in my goal races and there were no PRs this year. While I don’t have all my goals figured out for next year, I am clear on one thing, I’ll be gunning for some personal bests!

Obviously there are lots of factors that can play a role in whether you snag a shiny new PR on race day – some you can control and some you can’t. In talking with Coach Bennett, who I’ll be working with again for my goal race, he urged me to pay much more attention to the course when choosing the race. While that may sound obvious to some, I’ll admit the course map has rarely factored into my races choices before. And while yes my current half marathon PR was earned on the Newton hills, it does make me wonder what kind of time I could put down on a more forgiving course!

So many things to consider: the timing of races (especially in light of family commitments and a goal to go after #14in2014); local vs destination, and now the course map — decisions, decisions!

How do you pick your races?

Do you have your 2014 races figured out yet?


Newport 10 Miler – Race #3

Newport 10 Miler

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

This is how I started my email to Coach Bennett to let him know how the race went (my apologies to Charles Dickens) – pretty much sums up this race day.

A couple of weeks ago I ran the inaugural Newport 10 Miler with my running buddy E. Let’s just say this run did not go as I had hoped — in a nutshell, my stomach mysteriously decided to not cooperate just a mere 2 and half miles into the course. I have no idea what set it off because I have become boring and predictable in my pre-run/race fueling. But,  it was not happy and any attempt at picking up the pace was met with serious discomfort….not a great way to spend the remaining 7.5 miles!

By the mile 4 water stop, I was walking – I urged E to keep going saying I would catch up. And while I kept her in my sights for the next 2 miles, by the mile 6 water stop I did something I’ve never done in a race before – I came to a deadstop! Not good! This race really was a mental battle – there was a lot of self talk going on – I used every mental game I could think of to will myself through those final miles.

So what about “the best of times” part?

The course was beautiful! Seriously Newport is a beautiful spot to run – we were either along the water or running among the mansions. The wonderful scenery helped to be a much needed distraction.

Newport group 3

Jill, Nancy, Samantha, me & Amy

A chance to meet-up with these wonderful ladies is always good!


Got to finally meet the lovely Kim, co-leader of Black Girls Run Boston.  She hung out with E & I at the start and best of all I spotted her with just over a mile to go – she became just the focal point I needed to push hard and we ended up crossing the finish line together!

With Kim at Newport 10

Despite my stomach distress, the rest of me felt really good and still managed to will myself to tie my 10-mile PR! And while I wish I had been able to run every step with E, she absolutely rocked this race and is now talking about joining me for a half marathon – so proud of her!


The race itself was a good one – a couple of first year kinks like running out of some of the post-race food and poor planning on the t-shirt distribution…but those were minor. They were super-responsive to questions pre-race; it was a beautifully laid out course; and, they had a great group of enthusiastic volunteers at every water station. I will definitely be back to run this one again next year!




Returning to Hills

Today marks the return to hill work on my training plan.

I’ve been looking forward to today with an odd mixture of dread and glee.

Yes I said it…glee! Because while I know in the moment of running repeats, my quads will be burning and I’ll be cursing like a sailor  that there’s the other side – there’s the strength training and confidence building that only running hills can bring.

And I’ve seen the results – last summer Coach Bennett introduced me to hill work and I truly thought the man was trying to kill me 🙂 Then I faced ZOOMA’s hilly Cape Cod course and the Newton hills of the Chilly half! While both courses were definitely challenging, the hill work Bennett had put me through prepared me both mentally and physically and I PR’d both courses! That’s where the glee comes in, from knowing the potential payoff.

So for the next few weeks, Thursdays are Hill Days and I say “Bring it on!”

Do you do specific hill training? Or do hills make you want to run screaming in the other direction?


Friday Shout Out: ZOOMA’s Personal Best Challenge

You know I’m all about getting out of my comfort zone – when you get out of your comfort zone, there’s a chance for growth and great things to happen.

So when I heard about ZOOMA’s Personal Best Challenge – it was just one more reason to love ZOOMA and I had to give them a shout out!

What is the Personal Best Challenge?

ZOOMA is encouraging women runners to push themselves in 2013 to run a Personal Best – either by taking on a new distance or by pushing your training to the next level to go for that PR. Achieve a Personal Best at one of the ZOOMA races this year and ZOOMA will reward you with a special gift during the post-race party! ZOOMA’s also showing their support along the way by providing training care packages, training plans and tips and sponsoring weekly Twitter chats to keep runners motivated.

When I served as a race ambassador at last year’s Cape Cod race, I met a lot of women running their first half marathon, first 10K…and in some cases, their first race ever – the camaraderie of these races is a great backdrop for first timers! And, from personal experience, I can safely say that hitting a PR on one of ZOOMA’s challenging courses requires you to dig deep! So this idea of encouraging women to push themselves beyond their comfort zone to achieve a personal best seems like perfect fit for ZOOMA!

You can learn more about the Personal Best Challenge at  

3 Things: Almond milk, gym and PRs


Silk Dark Chocolate Almond Milk is my new guilty pleasure. If you are a fan of chocolate milk post-run, this is a must try! Just the thought of having a glass of this dark chocolately goodness got me through a trip to the gym… and you all know how much I love my gym (insert sarcasm here!)

Yes thanks to a lovely combination of snow that switched over to icy rain, I made my first appearance this year at my gym for a lunch date with the ‘mill. While I whined the whole way over there … and even briefly considered skipping my run altogether, I’m really glad I went. The gym was basically empty so there were no gym crazies to contend with – win! Training plan called for intervals, and if I have any hope of keeping my sanity on a treadmill, speed work is the way to go – so double win!

I want to give a shout out to my running coach Bennett Cohen who will be hosting a great teleclass tonight called “Nail Your Personal Best Regardless of the Candles on Your Cake.” Bennett helped me shave over 5 minutes off my half marathon PR on hilly courses so I encourage you to check out this call. You can find the call details HERE


Recharging for 2013

We’ve been in full holiday celebration mode for a week now around my house – soaking in time with family and friends. After all of the rushing around and planning, it’s been great to be present in the moment and just enjoy the days as they’ve unfolded. It wasn’t until late yesterday afternoon, curled up under a blanket nursing a sore throat that I really started to think about goals for 2013.

Looking back at the running goals I laid out in January, I’m happy to say that I hit almost all of them (the 10K PR still eludes me). I had a heck of a lot of fun this year with lots of highs:

  • taking the whole family along for a race in DC
  • getting to meet a bunch of runner/bloggers
  • serving as a ZOOMA race ambassador
  • getting away with my friend E for run and fun at ZOOMA Cape Cod
  • working with my running coach Bennett Cohen – learned so much!!
  • new PRs in the half marathon, 10-miler and 5K
  • ran over 900 miles

Now that I’ve had a little down time, I’m looking forward to kicking up my training for a half marathon in March (still debating which one!). So, what are some of my running/fitness goals for the upcoming year?

  • complete the 13 in 2013 Challenge— I think I’ve almost got the race calendar sorted out!
  • looking to shave some more time off my best times for both the half marathon and 10K (specific target times to come later) – I really need to find a flatter course for the half!
  • continue to do all of things that I believe helped to keep me off the injury-reserve list — yoga, strength training, massages and time with the chiro.

But, as always, the biggest goal is to continue to have fun — to run with friends, to run in some new locales, try an obstacle course race (or two), be a race volunteer, and have more blogger meet-ups!


Chilly Half Marathon Race Recap

All last week I had been agonizing over the hilly route, imaginary aches and pains, the weather & what to wear, my less than stellar final long run….you get the picture.

On Friday, I had a final call with Coach Bennett to discuss race strategy. Then Saturday morning I found this email from Bennett in my inbox:

Have a great run on Sunday.
 Be confident that you have trained well and
that you are well prepared to reach your goal.
I’ll be cheering for you (virtually).
“Run hard, be strong, think big!”
Percy Cerutty, legendary running coach

I read and re-read that email several times on Saturday and once more before heading to the start. Surprisingly, for all my angst all week, I was very calm Sunday driving to the race. Timing worked perfectly and I snagged a parking space with about a half hour before the race started. I ate a banana, took a short warm up run, and since I had time I opted for the indoor bathrooms. Then I headed to the starting area and chatted with a few other runners.  One runner, who had run the race before, warned me where the hills were and in particular to be prepared for one last climb at mile 12…seriously!?!? But despite what I was hearing, I was surprised at how calm I was.

The start was a bit of a mess as there were no corrals to self-seed and it was quickly clear that some people were not where they should have been. The lack of seeding plus the narrow streets made it pretty hectic. Adrenaline definitely kicked in because I went out too fast! I kept checking my Garmin and knew I should reel it in, but I was feeling really good. I decided I’d just keep going for the first 5 miles, knowing that the hills were coming. I saw J and the boys just around the first mile marker. I settled in, enjoyed my tunes and the first 5 miles seem to fly by. I’d see my family again, this time my dad and brother were there too. I don’t know how they managed it but my family seem to be everywhere on the course! (Other runners even commented on how great it was that they were out there, especially since in many spots they were the only spectators!)

As I got into the hills, I let go of looking at my Garmin and ran by feel as Bennett had advised. The water stops weren’t where I expected them so I didn’t take a GU until around mile 6. Almost instantly my stomach was not happy. Hills and an unhappy stomach?!? I took a couple of short walk breaks, hoping things would settle and just willing myself to the 8 mile marker, as I knew there would finally be a big down hill coming. As we came out on to Comm Ave I got the biggest smile on my face — the downhill 🙂 I fell in step with another runner and we chatted a little and just soaked in being able to open it up again.

The course was open to traffic and the police were doing an amazing job of keeping runners and cars moving — until we reached a large intersection where Beacon St and Comm Ave meet. All of the sudden we had a police officer telling us to stop for the traffic. He apologized but said that some local area groups (including a church) had complained that they were holding up people in traffic too long because of the race. So there a group of us stood on a corner, trying to keep our legs going… waiting. I didn’t even want to look at my Garmin and see the seconds ticking by. When we started again, my legs were not happy but at least I was running again.

No bling?! Finishers’ Gloves

Around 10 1/2 miles I spotted my oldest son running down the sidewalk towards me. He ran with me and told me he and J were leaving for his lacrosse tournament. So we wished each other good luck and I thanked him for sticking around for so long. (He did make it in time for the 2nd half of his first game!) The 12 mile marker appeared and I thought, ok one more hill. As I got to the top, I felt a little light-headed (despite having taken another GU at mile 10), I started to walk for a second and I heard a woman behind me say “Oh don’t stop. I’ve been pacing off of you for the last couple of miles.” I told her how I was feeling and she encouraged me to pace off of her. I promised her I’d catch up and that she should keep going; and soon I started to run again. There was one final uphill before the finish so I just tried to focus on picking off each runner in front of me. Then I came up on the woman who’d been pacing off me. I ran up beside her and urged her to push with me to the finish – and we came across the line together!

2:26 and a 3 minute PR! I was ecstatic!
I have lots of thought swirling in my head regarding this training cycle, but this post is long enough, so I will save those for another day.

Monday Recovery


 I’m still basking in the glow of yesterday’s race – a 3 minute PR! Race report to come later.

Yesterday’s soreness seems to be subsiding. All-in-all I feel pretty good today, apart from one serious blister, I’m just a little tired. So today is about getting some rest…well as much rest as is possible with the boys home with a day off from school today. And, a much needed massage is on the schedule for tomorrow!

How was your weekend? What have you got planned for the week?

October Rewind

Good things for the month:
Things I could do without:
  • No complaints – it’s all good.

What’s up for November:

  • Chilly Half Marathon is next weekend! 
  • Running without a training plan. I haven’t been without a training plan since I started working with Coach Bennett in July. And, while I have really enjoyed training, I’m looking forward to having a break and just running whatever and when ever I want.
  • Continue focusing on making my left ITB happy again. With some down time coming, I need to get this ITB beyond just the “manageable” stage.
  • Once again I’ll be participating in the Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge organized by Amanda at Run To The Finish. The Challenge starts November 19 and is an awesome way to stay motivated during the holidays. Amanda does an amazing job pulling this Challenge together and there are some great prizes for added incentive. There’s still time to register, so come join me  — and if you do sign up, please tell her I sent you 🙂
How’d your October go? What have you got planned for this month?