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I have been meaning to write about running during pregnancy for a very long time, yet here I am – finally posting this at nearly 38 weeks pregnant!

Clearly a lot has happened since I ran the Big Sur Marathon last year. That was always the plan – run one last big race, and then attempt another far more challenging endurance event…PREGNANCY! We were fortunate enough to conceive right away, so I cruised from post-marathon recovery right into training for motherhood. We found out the good news shortly after an incredible trip to Hawaii, where we ran almost daily on the beach and had an epic trail running adventure down and around the Haleakala crater. I didn’t realize that I was 3 weeks pregnant at the time (if that even counts) and thoroughly enjoyed our 12 miles of running at altitude, hurling ourselves down the crater and across some of the most stunning and dramatic landscapes I have ever seen. It was my last blissfully ignorant running hurrah – before any of the now familiar pregnant running thoughts and concerns entered my mind. E captured the day quite well in his blog and I highly recommend hiking or running there if you find yourself in Maui – check it out!

Once I processed the initial shock and joy of discovering I was pregnant, one of my first thoughts was, “Wait – what about my running?!?!” I was averaging 30-40 miles per week pre-pregnancy, not training for anything in particular but trying to maintain my fitness after Big Sur for myself, and in case I wanted to squeeze in one last marathon or ultra over the summer. I couldn’t imagine not running. It is such an integral of my life – my “me time,” my release, a way I bond with my husband, and a large part of how I stay fit and healthy. I wanted to keep running as long as I could!

As a running coach, I knew the basics surrounding exercise during pregnancy, including:

  • Don’t start any new physical activities – unless it is something relatively gentle (i.e. if you weren’t active before, starting a walking routine is fine)
  • Limit or avoid sports that have a higher risk of injury/falling
  • Listen to your body and err on the side of caution if something doesn’t feel right – it’s just not worth the risk
  • Ensure adequate hydration/nutrition before, during and after exercise to maximize energy levels and recovery
  • Avoid exercising in heat or other potentially dangerous weather conditions (e.g. ice)
  • Most importantly, follow the advice that your doctor provides you that is specific to YOUR unique pregnancy!

Exercise, generally speaking, is without a doubt beneficial to mom and baby, assuming a healthy pregnancy. There is a great deal of research to support this, leading doctors to encourage most women to perform some type of physical activity for at least 30 minutes each day. But I was already very active – 30 min of walking doesn’t exactly cut it for me – and I couldn’t help but feel nervous, especially during the first trimester, so I wasn’t quite sure how to proceed. I knew that many women ran during pregnancy – some even finished marathons in their second and third trimesters – but there seemed to be conflicting information and opinions out there regarding distance and/or high intensity exercise. Could I continue with my previous mileage? What about long runs? What was safe for me and my baby? There wasn’t a whole lot of concrete information available on the topic.

I found myself doing a lot of googling and and blog reading about other women’s experiences. This of course did not substitute my need for individualized medical advice, and it’s important to note that every pregnancy is different, but it was reassuring and motivating to know that other runners were able to have healthy, successful pregnancies and stay in great shape without sacrificing their love of the sport. Did their running change and was it challenging at times to keep running? Of course! Was it worth it? Hell yeah! Did their successs mean that I would be able to run throughout my entire pregnancy? Definitely not. But I hoped I could and I am grateful my little one allowed me to run as long as I did, up until 36.5 weeks!

It also helped that I have a great OB who has been supportive of my running from day 1. With the thumbs up from her, I kept doing what I was doing, with some key adjustments that I have outlined below. My running obviously shifted as pregnancy progressed, but I pretty much followed these guidelines throughout, based on my experience as a coach and long-time runner, my own research on pregnant running, and my doctor’s advice specific to my exercise and medical history:

  • I approached training for childbirth as I would any important race. Preparing for birth (especially if you are planning for a natural one, as I am), is in many ways similar to training for a race. You have an overarching plan that includes all the physical and mental prep work to cross the finish line successfully, but have to take things day by day and adjust that plan as needed to get to that start line healthy.
  • I tried to stay flexible. If I felt particularly tired, queasy, or something didn’t feel right, I shortened my run, slowed down, took walk breaks, cross-trained, or took a rest day. As a side note, I didn’t wear a heart rate monitor  – keeping heart rate below a certain level for healthy pregnancies is old school advice – but simply paid attention to how I was feeling and adjusted my efforts accordingly.
  • Speed was no longer a priority – especially since pregnancy WILL slow you down eventually (for me, this happened later in my 2nd trimester). I cared more about CONSISTENT running. I still did some high intensity exercise to relieve stress and break up the monotony of easier efforts, but only when I felt strong and up until my third trimester, after which I kept things very low key.
  • I paid closer attention to the weather. I’m the type of runner who usually doesn’t get discouraged by a blizzard, downpour, or a hot summer day. That had to change! On extra hot days or if conditions were slippery, I adjusted the time of day that I went running, hit the treadmill, or did some indoor cross-training.
  • I was extremely careful about my running nutrition & hydration. I carried water if running for more than 4 miles, especially in warmer weather, and carried electrolytes/calories if running longer than 8 miles. I also made sure to have pre and post run snacks (always on my radar though, as a dietitian!).
  • I dedicated more time to strength training and lower impact cross-training, especially once my belly got bigger. Running became less comfortable for me around 34 weeks, at which point I started to run/walk and incorporate more spin classes and what I like to call, “Netflix & Elliptical.”
  • I bought a Road ID to wear in case something happened to me while I was running, especially for when I was alone. I also carried a credit card and if straying far from home, my phone (which I usually never carry), in case of emergencies.
  • I invested in a few key items of maternity exercise wear to stay comfortable as I got bigger. I was lucky in that I could keep wearing a lot of my normal gear until mid/late second trimester, as I already had some flowy and stretchy long tops, large running jackets, and some looser/stretchy shorts and pants. I did find a few things useful to buy, including a couple maternity tanks, a maternity long sleeve zip top, and a pair of maternity tights – all on sale from Old Navy and Gap. I splurged on my For Two Fitness “Running for Two” tank and long sleeve top, as they were too cute to resist!
  • I always ran within my comfort zone – and appreciate that this is different for everyone. For example, a half marathon during my second trimester seemed reasonable to me (I did the Staten Island Half at a slower but strong pace), as did running 12-15 miles with my husband on long slow run days during my 1st and 2nd trimesters, but I did not feel that longer distances were worth the risk. During my late second and early third trimesters, I was quite happy running 8-10M and 6-7M, respectively, as my “long” runs. Additionally, I felt solid running on technical trails up until my third trimester, as long as I ran with E and slowed down or walked particularly tricky sections. Our trail running adventures in Asheville, NC (check out E’s post here) at the start of my second trimester were particularly awesome!
  • I tried not to compare myself to other pregnant runners – what my body looked like, how much I was running, or anything else. Every pregnancy is different and the only important thing was to respect my own!
  • I always kept the “big picture” in mind – heathy mom and baby! Sure, I still had fitness goals – run/exercise consistently and as long as possible – but the ultimate goal always was to keep my baby safe. I’ll be honest, it was a bummer to miss a workout or cut things short because I wasn’t feeling well or my doctor wanted me to be extra cautious at times, but in pregnancy, it’s just not worth the risk.

I never sought to run a specific number of miles while pregnant, but when I realized that 1,000 was within my reach, it become the perfect goal to keep me motivated, especially whenever my running started to feel aimless. The last 50 miles were especially challenging, as I began to feel my increased weight and changes in my gait – a good chunk of those miles were walking – but I’m proud of myself for getting it done. As my doctor told me, my dedication to exercise helped maintain great blood flow to my baby and will likely lead to an easier labor! It also means that my return to running post-partum will not be *quite* so painful (although I know that it will still be pretty tough…).

My path to full-term pregnancy has not exactly been easy – without going into details, we have had many bumps in the road, and the process has been scary/overwhelming at times – but I am extremely grateful to have felt good for the most part and to have been able to stay so active. For the past week, I have only been walking because that is what feels best, but I walk every day for at least 30 minutes and at a good pace. I’m thinking of it as “tapering” for “race day” – I don’t get that same post-run high, but I still feel great afterwards. The finish line is within sight now and I cannot wait to meet my baby girl!

A quick note on training for natural birth – my husband and I enrolled in a birthing class that teaches the Bradley Method. It has been a huge time commitment (8 x 3hr sessions) but SO worthwhile. We knew very little about the birthing process pre-pregnancy and we feel so empowered and prepared now (as much as you can be, that is). E and I have always worked well as a team, often training side by side, exploring trails together, and pacing each other in marathons and ultras, so I knew that I wanted him to coach me through birth. The parallels between running a long race and birthing a baby naturally are actually quite astounding. I have been practicing various physical and mental exercises (e.g. kegels, squats, pelvic tilts, active labor positions, relaxation and visualization, breathing etc.) to help cope with labor pain, and also practicing E’s coaching techniques to make sure that they resonate with me. Kind of like strength training, structured running targeted at your race distance, mantras, and learning the art of pacing, right? Childbirth is not the same as running an ultra obviously, but having run for 12 hours and navigated the physical and mental highs and lows of that experience certainly gives me confidence that I can get through the many hours of labor and delivery!

If you’re interested in hearing more about my experience of running while pregnant, in addition to my coaching and nutrition advice for pregnant athletes, check out this podcast that I did with Jason Fitzgerald of Strength Running! We had such a great conversation on pregnancy exercise and I would love your feedback.

I’ll close out with a photo diary of my running and other exercise adventures while pregnant – check out the captions to see how far along I was. It’s amazing how much my body has changed, even if I haven’t gained as much weight as I thought I would (and believe me, I have been trying hard to gain more, especially in recent weeks). Then again, I have always been a small person and can’t imagine my belly being much bigger! It will be a long road to get my body and my fitness back post-birth, but I know I’ll get there eventually.

First trimester:

Second trimester:

Third trimester:

As anyone who participated will surely agree, the 2014 Boston Marathon was one of the most inspirational, celebratory and unique races I have ever run. But before I dive into my recap, I have to say, I didn’t fully appreciate just how challenging this race is or how strong and speedy I ran last year until I was back for a second try this past Monday. Nevermind the net downhill or even the years of work it took to qualify – that course is tough!

I may be a bit biased though, as this year’s race was an unintentionally slow one for me, with a finish time of 3:56:25 and average pace of 9:01 min/mile. That’s over 20 minutes slower than my time last year and 15 minutes slower than my previously slowest marathon, which is a huge gap given that I’m a fairly predictable runner (+/- a few minutes). But more on that shortly…

Readytorace Prerace

Race morning was like an episode of deja-vu. Once again, my college friend and I were making our way to Hopkinton in the early morning before the roads closed. We picked up the same runner on the way and drove backwards along several miles of the course to another friend’s house, watching the volunteers set up aid stations and feeling our stomachs begin to churn with nervous excitement. We got to Hopkinton just before 7am and relaxed for a few hours. It was all a bit strange – there we were, the same runners in the same outfits, at the same place, taking the same group photo against the same wall; I couldn’t believe an entire year had passed by already!

This year our friend was able to drive us right up to the entrance of the athletes village, which was jam packed by the time we arrived around 9:15am. The atmosphere was electric! It was also somewhat overwhelming; as last year, I was grateful to be there with a friend. Nearly every inch of grass was claimed by runners and running gear. The Wave 1 folks were moving towards the start (~0.7M away) and everyone else was either basking in the sunshine or waiting in the insanely long toilet lines. We waited for 45min, after which it was time for us Wave 2 runners to exit the village. At this point it was still quite chilly – the sun was warm but there was a cool breeze and my friend and I were nowhere near ready to part with our throwaway clothes. Funny, because just 2omin later, I would’ve given anything to feel that cool!

photo 2 photo 4

BAA did an incredible job organizing the start this year – far more streamlined and orderly compared to last year. As we made our way to our corrals, I felt the same “I can’t believe I’m about to run a marathon” feeling, but with an added sense of pride and solidarity. I had made a mental note last year to leave a bit early for the bathroom line near the corrals and was very happy to discover that there were at least three times as many bathrooms this year – absolutely no wait! And unlike last year (and pretty much every marathon I’ve run), we weren’t waiting around in the corrals. BAA timed it perfectly so that we entered our corral and immediately began walking towards the start as the gun went off.

Crossing the start line was exhilarating; it was impossible not to feel emotional. The amount of crowd support was unreal. Last year, there was an initial big cheer and then small pockets of spectators throughout the first half, but for the most part it was relatively quiet and dare I say boring. This year, the course was lined with spectators the entire way to Wellesley. It was beyond impressive!

This wave 1 runner’s awesome Google glass video of the race gives you a good sense of the athletes village and start line experience (the whole video is worth a watch).

Although I never stopped appreciating just how unique a day it was, unfortunately it did not turn out to be the race I had hoped it would be in terms of my own personal performance. Time was never my focus this year, but I invested a lot of it into my training despite the horrendous winter and constraints of the Dietetic Internship, and I had a strong, injury-free training cycle, so I couldn’t help but have certain expectations about my finish. In other words, if I was going to run what normally is a VERY relaxed pace for me, I would at least feel good while doing it!

But hey, not every race can go as planned. My experience was a perfect example of how training runs only make up one piece of the overall puzzle, along with nutrition, sleep/recovery, stress, weather etc. Some factors are within your control, and others are not. In my case, race day happened to fall right in the middle of the hardest part of my internship. I wasn’t feeling amazing on race morning, but I got a few nights of solid sleep, hydrated/carbo-loaded as per my usual routine, and wasn’t experiencing any GI distress, so I thought I’d be fine.

Several weeks of inadequate sleep and stress, and more importantly, a stomach virus caught 4 days earlier, left me feeling more mentally and physically worn out than I realized until I was out on the course. It was also hot outside (high 60s at the start), which felt like the tropics compared to the polar vortex that persisted throughout most of my training. So while I started out at my usual MP feeling okay, within a few miles I felt surprisingly fatigued and unwell (stomach cramps, nausea). No matter what I did (the usual mental tricks, adjusting pace, hydration, gels), I couldn’t shake it off. My fellow 3:33 qualifiers, and then all the corrals behind me, were passing me right and left for miles. This never bothers me as I always pass a good chunk of them later on, but this time I knew that wouldn’t be the case. It was frustrating, but ultimately all I could do was accept how I was feeling, slow down, and take things mile by mile.

Thankfully, the crowds were AMAZING and I was able to redirect my attention (which usually is intensely focused on my own race) to everyone around me to get me to the finish line. As soon as I would feel myself sinking into my own pain and discomfort, I would come across a new source of inspiration that made those feelings seem insignificant, whether it was listening to the deafening cheers, hearing hundreds of people scream my name as if they were my hugest fans, reading the hilarious “kiss me” signs and running through the “scream tunnel” at Wellseley, hearing that Meb won (GO MEB!), passing by Team Hoyt as they completed their 32nd Boston Marathon, running alongside amputees as they conquered the course, counting down the number of miles until I would see my husband, or taking a much-needed glass of water from one of many generous spectators in between aid stations. I was really touched by the amount of support we received from the Boston community. I can’t say I physically enjoyed every moment of the race, but I felt so lucky to be a part of such a historic and symbolic event and did my best to soak up the atmosphere.

Mile20 Out on the course

RunningtoE4 Mile25 Tothefinish2

Above are a few shots of me out on the course – at mile 20 at the base of heartbreak hill (where family friends, who we stayed with in Newton last year, cheered me on), a random by the official photo company, and at mile 25 (where I gave E a huge kiss). He watched me at the same spot last year, and seeing him (after counting down for so many miles) really gave me the lift I needed to get me through that final stretch!

Running towards the finish line was pretty epic. It was funny because I was nearly there and it occurred to me, oh yeah I should probably sprint! I was so mentally and physically not in racing mode that I nearly forgot!

Check out my Garmin details to see the progression of my race. I also included a comparison of my official splits from last year and this year, just to show the drastic difference between the two. As E said to me later on re: the slowing down of my pace, “that looks like one of my races” haha!

Boston Marathon 2013  photo.PNG

After I finished, I felt very ill and stumbled about for awhile before eventually getting my medal, water, food etc. The sun was so strong I felt like I was under a heat lamp, so this year’s amazing space blanket cape thing with hood provided some nice protection. I’m glad it took E awhile to get to the reunion area because by that point I was finally starting to feel more human again; still overheated and very nauseous but in better spirits with a little water and salt in my system. Here are some photos he took when he found me!

Tough race! P1100456 P1100465 P1100463 P1100460 Finish line1

We slowly made our way to the park, where many runners and spectators were lounging on the grass. So many happy, tired, celebratory people around us! We found a nice shady spot to relax for awhile, given I was still feeling a bit unwell. I can’t tell you how relieved I was to be done with the race and to have E by my side. Lying down felt so good – it was nearly impossible to get back up!

Park1 Park2

We made our way to the T back towards Arlington, where there was an awesome local ice cream shop. Two giant scoops of ice cream (and a huge burger, fries and hard cider later on with friends) – that’s how this future RD likes to recover post-marathon!

ice cream2 Post-race dinner

I confess that my frustration returned the day after my race (E had to listen to me vent for a couple hours during the ride back to NYC), but now that I’ve had a few days to process everything, I’m able to appreciate that I ran a really smart and strong race that was appropriate to how I felt on that particular day. I am proud of myself for being flexible, adjusting my goals and prioritizing my health.

Despite how horrible I felt, I didn’t once stop running until I reached the finish line, which was my new goal for the race once I stopped paying attention to speed. For the first time, I wasn’t a slave to my watch or pace band, which was very refreshing. I could have pushed myself a lot harder, but instead I listened to my body and let myself run at whatever pace felt okay so that I wouldn’t end up in the medical tent (as so many others did that day). I didn’t enjoy running a marathon in shorts (mostly I wasn’t used to it), but I avoided chaffing by taking every stick of vaseline offered to me along the course (since my pre-race application didn’t last long in the heat). I took the extra time to hydrate at every water station, and in between stations too when I was able. My stomach hurt but I didn’t have real GI issues, thank goodness.

As a result of all this, I was able to finish in under 4 hours, without any major problems! I went for my first recovery run yesterday and was amazed by how fresh my legs felt. Obviously I wasn’t racing on Monday, and I also got an incredible massage on Tuesday, but still – my legs didn’t feel like I just ran a marathon! Good thing too, because I’m running the Brooklyn Half in less than 3 weeks, and then I have two 10ks over the summer (including NYC Triathlon relay) and the Marine Corps Marathon in the fall. But first – a much needed break from structured training!

And that sums up my Boston 2014 experience! I don’t think I’ll be back there to race for awhile, which makes me even more grateful that I was able to be a part of this year’s marathon. Thank you again to all my friends and family who supported me throughout the long journey to qualification and during the 2013 and 2014 races! I have so many memories across the emotional spectrum from both of my Boston experiences that I will always cherish.

Finish line 5

Marathon weekend and Spring weather (hopefully lasting this time) have finally arrived and I think all runners regardless of what event they’re working towards deserve a HUGE pat on the pack for getting through this particularly tough training cycle. For me, as I’ve blogged about previously, it’s been challenging not only because of the crazy weather, but also the Dietetic Internship, which really ramped up in intensity this past month. My taper has unfortunately been accompanied by several weeks of sleep deprivation ending with a bad stomach bug this past week, nevertheless I’m grateful I was able to complete all my long runs without any major injuries and am now here in Boston ready to tackle this historic course for a second time. My stomach is still a bit queasy here and there, but that could just be the carbo-loading!

Official jacket Last NYC run Entering Hopkinton

It felt a little weird to be back in Boston at first, perhaps because we were on the same exact schedule as last year, which brought back a flood of mixed emotions and chaotic memories. E and I drove up from NYC and arrived around 2:30pm yesterday, spent a couple hours at the expo (sadly we missed all the big names this year), paid a visit to the finish line, took a bunch of photos, and then got settled in where we are staying. I opted to wear last year’s official jacket, even though I caved last week and bought a few items from the 2014 line (pictured above) – that jacket is just SO bright.

As I wandered around, it occurred to me how much things have changed since I last ran Boston, both for me – now married and nearly finished with my internship (last year I had just found out I had not matched, which was very upsetting) – and for the race too. That underlying somber element was of course still present, however, with the sun shining and thousands of people in Red Sox and Boston Marathon gear hitting the streets, I felt mostly positivity and solidarity around me. This was clear from the goodies in my race bag and the banners hanging at the expo to the excited smiles of pretty much every person I encountered. When I visited the finish line, I felt even more grateful than I did last year to have the opportunity to support and celebrate this race. It’s bound to be a good one!

Boston Expo Number pickup Expo goodies

I’ve included above some photos from the expo and below, a few at the finish line (including one of the bombing sites – huge lines to get into the running store). I really love the finisher shirt this year (especially the “Boston as One” with the unicorn logo on the back), my new orange headband (my one purchase of the day), and the little race bag packet including a 26.2 sticker, temporary heart tattoo (which I’ll wear on my arm tomorrow) and a bracelet with a lovely message. It was a really nice touch. Good job BAA!

Finish line 3 Boming site Finish line 2

Finish line 4 Finish line 1

I honestly have no idea how tomorrow will go. I am not fighting off injury as I was last year, but I also am less fit and not as well rested. I’m guessing I may be around 3:40-3:45ish, depending on how hard I feel like pushing myself (my slowest marathon time is 3:41:52, to give some context). Either way, I am trying something different tomorrow that I’ve been meaning to do for awhile. I will not be using a pace band, and I will also be covering up my Garmin (I still want to track the run but want to prevent myself from checking my splits) so I can attempt to run “by feel.” I know I’m not going to beat my hard effort from last year (3:36), but I’ve always been curious to see how I would run if I really listened to my body. It will be unsettling and will take a lot of discipline and trust in myself, but I’m excited to try it out. Even if I end up running a more relaxed race and don’t push myself very hard, I’m very interested to see what my splits will look like. I’m generally a pretty steady runner but maybe it’ll help even more – or not.

Race day is predicted to get up to 68 degrees, which is a tad warm for my taste. I’ve run every marathon in my compression tights thus far but last year I regretted that decision within a few miles of the start, so it’s time to finally try out 26.2 miles in shorts. I love my Lululemon shorts and have run many long runs in them over the summer, but my body has changed since then and I haven’t worn them for more than 9M recently…so I’ll have to slap on a ton of body glide on my thighs and hope for the best!

Here are a few more photos from the weekend, including my friend’s adorable puppy, all my gear ready to go and me this afternoon after my last pre-race run!

Carbo loading with Tessa gear check shakeout run

It’s already late afternoon and I have a pile of work to do for my program, but hopefully I can relax a bit tonight too because mentally, I’m feeling pretty worn out. I also have a really early morning tomorrow despite my 10:25am start (wave 2). Like last year, my friend is driving us out to Hopkinton (where we hang out at another friend’s house until closer to race time), and the roads close a bit earlier this year due to heightened security. We’ll probably also have to do a bit more walking to get to the athletes village, but that’s ok. My parents aren’t here this year (they are taking a break after last year) but I’m excited to see E at mile 25 near the Citgo sign, where he cheered for me last year too. I also will have a few other supporters along the course, and have no doubt the crowds will be even louder than usual. I certainly will be needing the encouragement!

Lastly, E and I found out that we got into the Marine Corps Marathon in October. I can’t say I’m psyched for NYC summer training, but I do love fall marathon running and am looking forward to running a new marathon with E, especially one near his hometown. It also means I have another racing opportunity coming up should I want one, which takes even more pressure off my performance tomorrow.

Good luck to everyone running tomorrow! I’m excited to get out there and experience what I can only imagine will be an incredibly unique race.

Yesterday I found out that I got into the 2014 Boston Marathon. By FOUR seconds.

Boston Marathon

Had I stopped at one more water station or gotten caught behind a few more people at the start, I wouldn’t have made the BQ – 1:38 cut! I wasn’t counting on getting in – I knew it was going be a very close call, with about 8,000 runners vying for 5,000 spots – and that I could easily be on the 4 seconds too short side. But by some miracle I wasn’t, and I am very excited. Once again –  like with my recent DI acceptance – I managed to just barely squeeze in (well, without being rejected first – ha!). But I’m in and that’s all that matters to me. The best part is that I used my 2012 Chicago time of 3:33:18 (since they accept qualifiers from Sept 22nd onwards) – the same BQ I used to get into the 2013 Boston Marathon one week before registration closed. That’s what I call a VERY lucky and extremely great value BQ!! Two of the hardest Bostons to get into with one BQ effort – *almost* makes up for not making the cut in 2011 with my NYC BQ! 🙂

It’s funny because I  didn’t think I cared  about getting into this race, perhaps mostly because I didn’t think I would. Also, I already ticked Boston off my bucket list. My first Boston didn’t end the way I had imagined, as I wrote about in RW, but I made it through the “four steps of the Boston Marathon” – I qualified, I registered, I was accepted, and I ran the race – and finally fulfilled these goals I had chased for so many years.

I registered on Sept 16th and forgot about it for the rest of the week, knowing that we wouldn’t find out until Wednesday (yesterday). It was easy to put the marathon out of my mind given how my Dietetic Internship (specifically my Medical Nutrition Therapy class) has pretty much taken over my life. Also with my recent idiotic knee injury (I fell off my bike, smack on my left knee), I haven’t been able to run for two weeks anyway. Huge bummer, btw, but I’m on the mend…slowly.

But then Wednesday morning  rolled around and I woke up with a knot in my stomach. That could’ve also been due to the fact that I’ve slept about three hours a night lately – but I’m pretty sure it was about Boston. I just wanted to know. And then I realized, I really really wanted to get in. Perhaps because I don’t think I’m necessarily going to push to qualify again – maybe I will (I do still want to get sub-3:30 at some point…) but I have a feeling that this will be my last opportunity to run it, so I wanted it to happen. I also wanted a happier ending to last year’s race. So like thousands of other “squeakers” I obsessively refreshed my email, the entry list and my credit card’s pending charges. Finally they announced the -1:38 cutoff around 2pm. It was a good feeling.

Aside from coaching and (until recently) my own occasional runs to maintain fitness, I’ve been pretty off the radar lately in terms of racing and clearly, blogging too. The NYC triathlon was my last race and I decided I just wanted to take a break, dial back the running to allow my hamstring to FINALLY heal (that was a big issue in my Boston race). I also needed a mental break – two hard training cycles back to back, combined with a tough semester and planning a wedding – it was a lot. Of course, I say that was a lot and now I’m in the DI which feels ten times worse – but oh well. So I’m enjoying the unstructured running and just being a coach to Gilda’s this season without worrying about my own training. I also hardly have time to fit workouts in so it’s a really good thing I decided to not run a fall race!

So I’m really feeling the worth of every second more than ever these days, not just with Boston but all aspects of my life right now, because I  just don’t have enough seconds to do everything that needs to be done. As I type I’m doing laundry and that has become one of my “luxury,” even “fun” activities. I’m only in week four of my DI and I’m really struggling with the workload. You know when you say you are going into something with your eyes wide open, and you know exactly what to expect and brace yourself for it, but then you’re actually in it and all the bracing and preparing you did really just didn’t matter? Yeah.

The program is great and I’m learning a lot, but it’s extremely tough to stay on top of my work and have time for anything else, like sleeping and seeing my husband (we pretty much have opposite schedules, with my night classes), you know those little things. It’s not fun feeling behind in everything, and overwhelmed and fried pretty much 24/7. I’ll give  E a hug after not seeing him for over a day and think to myself – oh yeah I just got married! There’s my husband! But I’m slowly adjusting and hopefully will get the hang of things soon. Or I won’t. In either case, the good news is that it’s all over by December 20th! Then off to California and Mexico, and back to NYC for the hospital portion of the DI (which I feel like has to be easier than this…but who knows).

So that’s the update! Basically just trying to survive and make every second count. And with a race on the horizon – the very distant horizon but still – I feel a renewed sense of motivation in my running life. I have no doubt that April 21st, 2014 will be an incredible day in Boston!

I ran my second Mini 10k (and first race since Boston) this past Saturday. Just as last year’s race served as a diagnostic as I prepared to begin Chicago training, this year’s mini was meant to reveal where I stand with this distance as I get ready to run in the NYC Triathlon relay next month. My “Dietitian Diva” team members are counting on me to help get us to the podium!

Last year, my fairly untrained but all-out racing effort resulted in a 45:58, so my original hope was at the very least to beat this time, with a real goal of crushing my very old PR of 45:04. My hamstring, however, had other plans for me, having flared up a bit after Boston. I’ve since been able to run casually without pain, but speed work still aggravates it so I opted not to race the mini. It’s unfortunate because the weather was great (coolest mini in history apparently) and with three strong recent races under my belt, I have no doubt I could have PR’d. Another time I suppose! Instead, I ran within what I’m calling my “hamstring comfort zone,” taking it fairly easy the first 2 miles and very very gradually speeding up as much as my hamstring would allow. I probably got up to 85% racing effort by the last mile – so it was more of a tough workout than a race I suppose. The good news is that I still managed to run 46:47 (7:32 average pace), less than a minute slower than my full-on racing effort last year, so that’s a good sign that although slightly injured at the moment, I’ve become much stronger in the last year. It also means that worst case, I know I can run a sub-47 without a problem next month; not ideal, but not the end of the world either.

Despite the frustration of not being able to let loose, I had such a great time at the mini. It felt good to get back out there after Boston and experience some positive race energy. What I love most about this mini is the history behind it – for over 40 years, this race has been celebrating women’s running! You can’t help but feel like you’re part of something when you run it. Also, unlike many other women’s races, the mini draws an awesome elite field as well as many other talented, competitive runners, while welcoming new runners and runners of all levels. Lastly, it’s one of the only larger races that places me right at the front! It’s quite inspiring being able to run right behind the elites (well, at least for a few seconds before they take off).

I started up front with my running buddy like last year, although this time she was able to keep me within sight for the entire race which helped her crush her PR, so that made me  happy! She finished right behind me so we were able to grab our medals, flowers etc together. I have to commend NYRR – perhaps not checking a bag helped (hence the lack of race photos), but it was such an easy race from an organizational point of view. Everything ran smoothly throughout the morning and it was never too crowded anywhere.

          Mini 10k   Run happy!

The highlight for me – like last year – was getting my medal signed, although this year it was much cooler. No lines, no official signing tables, just Desi Davila hanging out by the finish area after running her first race since pulling out of the Olympics last year. She ran well so she seemed to be in good spirits. My friend and I were about to wander away from the finish area to grab coffee when we saw her chatting with someone. I found a pen and we were able to go right up to her and get her autograph. We also got to chat for awhile – it was so chilled out and I was really excited to share with her that since I saw her at the mini last year, I had qualified for Boston and ran Boston. I told her I hoped to run again next year but unfortunately for us “real people” (which made her laugh) who just barely qualify, it will be tough so we’ll see. She’s awesome – and so so tiny! Every time I see her it amazes me.

So next up in racing is the NYC Triathlon relay on July 14th, and then I have ZERO races in the calendar, which is very strange for me. I didn’t get into the NYC marathon lottery, which I decided was a sign that I should take a real break from racing this fall. I am excited to coach Gilda’s again this year, so I will still be running, but I think my body could use a break from structured training, particularly if I am able to get into Boston and will be training hard next year.

In other news, I am very relieved to have completed my Spring semester at NYU – only one more class to go this summer and I will finally be done with my DPD’s! I also recently attended my ten year college reunion…pretty crazy that it’s been so long. It was fun to show Yale to E and see many old friends.

Otherwise, things have been insanely busy with all the last minute wedding planning, given how much I neglected to do during the semester, but everything is finally coming together. Last dress fitting this week (praying I can somehow stay the same size for two weeks, since my dress is very fitted), and a handful of things left to do but most of the big stuff is done. Only 19 days left to go!! Wow. E and I are beyond excited. I have no doubt it will be an incredible day! We fly to California next week…

And I will leave you with a delicious summer snack that I’ve stolen from some NYU friends. I have banana with peanut or almond butter all the time, but never in this actual form. It’s amazing. Simply slice a banana and freeze on a flat surface, then make little sandwiches with your nut butter of choice. SOOO GOOD. Enjoy!

Frozen banana & peanut butter sandwiches

Six months and nearly a full marathon training cycle have passed since I last wrote in this blog to confirm my acceptance into the 2013 Boston Marathon. So much has happened during this time that I don’t even know where to begin – but I do know that it wouldn’t feel right to cross the start line of the Boston Marathon this Monday without saying a few words here first! The creation of FFR was, after all, inspired by my first BQ in the 2010 NYC Marathon, and through this blog I’ve documented the many ups and downs that ultimately led me to my second (and more importantly, accepted) BQ in the 2012 Chicago Marathon.

Runner's Passport  Last 20 miler in my Boston gear!  Pace bands

It’s Boston Marathon weekend at last and I finally have some time to take a step back and appreciate how hard I’ve worked to get here. Before I comment on my training and how I feel going into this epic weekend, let’s give this race some context with some highlights from October – April!

 Before the start  Crossing the finish line  Beer at the finish  Post-finish with E

October of course was all about crushing the Chicago Marathon and getting one of the last remaining Boston Marathon spots, with registration closing the following weekend. My semester became really challenging, hence the extended blog hiatus, which meant that I didn’t have the opportunity to finish writing about my wonderful experience coaching the Gilda’s Club. The NYC Marathon in November was of course cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy (which is another story, given E and I practically live on the East River) but many of my runners completed other races and made me very proud. I really hope that I get the chance to coach Gilda’s again this year!

Post-engagement in Nisene  At the beach before sharing the news!  Redwood forest

Thankfully November wasn’t just about natural disasters…E proposed to me on Thanksgiving morning in Nisene Marks, in the middle of a long run (obviously) on the most gorgeous day. Forget about Chicago or Boston – that will always be the best run of my life! We’re getting married this June in a beautiful outdoor venue amongst the redwoods – basically a wedding-appropriate version of Nisene. Check out that staircase – what an entrance! Planning this event from across the country while in grad school, through marathon training and everything else has been a huge challenge, but everything will come together….eventually…I hope!

My accomplishments of December – February  included successfully finishing a hellish semester, celebrating the New Year with E, making progress on wedding planning in CA, kicking off Boston Marathon training and completing my Dietetic Internship applications (which took FOREVER). By this point I felt like I was just in one endless marathon without any recovery time, which is I suppose a fairly accurate description since I started this program in January 2012.

Leading a pack of men!  PR woohoo!  NYC Half finish line

In March, despite not being able to prioritize my Boston training and fighting off an old injury, I somehow managed to PR in the NYC Half, beating my previous best time from 4.5 years ago (the Royal Parks Half Marathon, in London) with a time of 1:37:21. Granted, it was a PR of only 13 seconds or so, but I hadn’t even come close to this time since I set it. The fastest I had run up until this race was 1:39:47, 2.5 years ago, so this was a very long awaited victory! The best part was that I felt so strong throughout the race and at the finish. My supposed peak training week that followed the race, which I spent in CA doing another week of intensive wedding planning, was pretty much thwarted by a bad stomach flu followed immediately by a cold, but at least I had my shiny new PR to build confidence for Boston!

And that brings us to April…which thus far seems to resemble the start of the Boston Marathon course, with a lot of downhills throughout the first half. Actually, the last week has felt more like someone came up from behind and shoved me off a cliff. You’re probably wondering what on earth I’m talking about so I’ll share – Match Day was on April 7th and I did not match. DI matching is an insanely competitive process, but to say that this came as a shock to me is a massive understatement. I haven’t talked much about it since I found out because, quite frankly, it’s embarrassing. It’s the first time I’ve failed at something significant in my life – I’m trying to put a positive spin on it by telling myself it’s a healthy thing to experience (ha!). It’s true, but after how hard I’ve worked since starting this program, and with everything building up to Match Day, receiving this news was a huge blow. Thankfully, I can continue to work on my Master’s (I have about two more semesters left anyway) and reapply to DI’s next year, so not the end of the world!

It took me a few days to accept what happened, mainly because I couldn’t make any sense of it. And I still can’t. But hey – if I’ve learned anything from Boston, it’s that you may not always succeed the first time around and if you want something, you just have to pick yourself up and try again. I qualified nearly three years ago, but my time was rejected and it took two more tries to get my acceptance! So, the timing of this race is perfect. I need a reminder that not everything comes easily, and I also need something positive and exciting this week to help me move forward, literally and figuratively.

That said, the sleep deprivation and anxiety I’ve been experiencing have not been so great for my marathon prep and despite my half PR, I’m not quite sure what to expect on Monday. I’m exhausted. And it’s been awhile since I’ve run a tough marathon course. My sights are still set on attempting to run a 3:35 again – would be pretty cool to BQ in Boston – but the great news is that I don’t have to! My Chicago time qualifies me for next year’s Boston, so if on Monday I want to focus on enjoying the race more than racing it, or if I race it and just don’t have a BQ in me that day, no biggie!

I want to run a strong race but it’s a relief not feeling the pressure I felt before running Chicago. In Chicago, I was there to get the job done. In Boston, I’ll be at the start simply grateful to be a part of such a historic and incredible race – and hoping not to get my ass handed to me at the finish. I’m really looking forward to driving to Boston with E and my parents (who flew in from CA to watch me race), focusing on this long-awaited weekend and leaving everything else behind me. No homework, no DI stress, no to do lists – just Boston, my loved ones, my fellow runners and the amazing crowds.

I can’t wait! Good luck to everyone else running on Monday! If you want to track me, I’m 14865. 🙂

I’m finally breaking my month of blogging silence. I didn’t intentionally abandon FFR for this long, but E’s move to NYC, final exams, recovering from final exams, ten days in Colorado, finally setting up our apartment (still in progress) and much more yanked me out of my weekly writing routine. I go back to school tomorrow so I figured it’s a perfect time to get back into the groove.

Where to begin…!!! Colorado deserves a separate post, including a recap of the 15M Continental Divide trail race (which was pretty much equal parts hiking as it was a running – or shall I say shuffling – at two miles above sea level) so I’ll leave that for later this week. It was a fantastic trip, filled with gorgeous scenery, tons of physical activity and ice cream cones the size of my head.

Caught on camera!

As for final exams – suffice to say, I was a stress case as usual, managed to maintain my GPA (just barely) and pray that I will never have to endure summer school ever again (unlikely). E and I celebrated my last final with an amazing dinner at Blue Hill. I had been dying to go back to the NYC restaurant for years, and it didn’t disappoint! I’m hoping to check out Blue Hill at Stone Barns sometime later this year…it’s supposedly even better!

Only after exams ended did I realize just how burnt out I was. And I thought I was run down after Spring semester! Ha. What a crazy summer. Even though I still had so much to do after exams, it was a huge relief to finally have some time off! Simply not studying has been incredibly liberating and restorative. I wish I could say that I’m excited for the Fall semester to begin – I guess I am, but not for it to begin tomorrow. My brain could use another week of recovery…

Speaking of recovery, I’ve been trying my best to err on the side of caution in terms of my training, sticking with running only four times a week and incorporating drop back weeks when necessary to help me reach the Chicago marathon start line in one piece. Race day is less than five weeks away, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about how it’s going to turn out. I still haven’t done any speed work aside from some tempo runs at half marathon pace (I’m up to 17 minutes) and marathon pace runs of 5-6M, and I haven’t done any hill work beyond what I encounter naturally in Central Park and, more recently, in Colorado. I also haven’t done many structured long runs, as I had originally planned. My weekly mileage has only gone above 30 miles a handful of times (!!), including my peak so far of this past week’s 38.7 miles.

But it’s hard to say how I will fare on race day at this stage. On the one hand, I haven’t trained as hard as I had intended to (part school, part injury), and the resulting lower mileage and lack of consistent speed work and strength training may end up thwarting my goal to BQ. My hip pain seems to be under control, but I have to be careful. On the other hand, I am leaner now, running in cooler conditions will hopefully begin producing faster results, all of my Colorado activities made me feel stronger and I have done many more long runs than in previous training cycles. I just completed my second 20 miler this past Saturday, and plan to run another the week after next. This is quite different to past training cycles, which included only one 20 miler.

Normally I race a half marathon to test where I’m at 5 weeks or so before marathon day. I couldn’t find an appropriate race nearby, so I’ve settled on running the Bronx 10 miler on September 9th. I’ve only run one 10M race before, and I ran it as a tempo run, so I’m interested to see how my first 10M racing experience will go, especially having done so little speed work. Hopefully it will give me a better sense of where I stand, so I can adjust my Chicago goals accordingly.

It’s getting late – how quickly my last weekend of freedom slipped through my fingers! I’ll leave you with a couple photo of two great meals I made for myself recently – breakfast soft tacos (veggie scramble with avocado) and an incredible, colorful fig and goats cheese salad. Fig season is the best – I hope to have my own fig tree someday!

 

This heat is killing me. I’ve lived in NYC before – I know the drill – but I wasn’t running regularly outside back then nor was I sitting in an un-airconditioned classroom for nearly six hours a day (not sure if that is better or worse than being blasted with too much AC in an office). It’s cooled off this weekend, but I know that probably won’t last for long…

I got back to NYC last Sunday, after a short but wonderful trip to California. It was a painful return, stepping out of JFK into this crazy urban sauna with a month of organic chemistry awaiting me, but I’m slowly settling into my new routine. I just hope my body can adapt to this weather! I attempted to run the day after my arrival – granted, I didn’t start until 10am, but it was brutal. I only ran 6.5M and I was a mess – at least I looked cute in my new Lululemon running skirt! I am so glad I made that purchase – it is very comfortable and lightweight, although I do look like I’m about to go play tennis…

I definitely need to get on an earlier running schedule for Chicago training, which officially begins in a couple of weeks. Fitness-wise, I am not where I had hoped I would be at this stage, having only run three days a week without any speed work at all since March, in addition to some extra pounds from recent weeks. I also don’t have the base mileage I should have going into a somewhat ambitious marathon training cycle – I am at 20-25M rather than 30-35M per week – but that’s okay. My main goal has been to run pain free and as of now my hamstring is doing well. It hurt slightly after my first attempt at speed work on Wednesday (8x1min repeats) despite my taking the pace down a few notches, but I managed to knock out a pretty solid 10.5M run at 8:37 average pace a couple days later in Central Park without any pain.

It will be pretty interesting to see how Saturday’s NYRR women’s mini-10k race goes! I haven’t raced a 10k in a very long time. It will be a great diagnostic tool, and will help me build my training program (currently I only have a skeleton of long runs plus a few races). I’m not expecting an amazing time, given how little I’ve prepared, but hopefully I won’t embarrass myself!

In terms of early morning running, I actually don’t have much choice this month, since my organic chemistry course starts at 9am up in the Bronx! That means 6am start times – yuck. This course is very intense – an entire semester’s worth of material crammed into the month of June. I suppose that’s the definition of all summer classes (this is also my first summer class). I’ve never been a chemistry fan, and the last time I actually took chemistry was in 1999, so to say that I was nervous going into it this whole thing is an understatement. So far I’m managing to hang in there (kind of) and my confidence has increased (slightly). In some ways, it’s refreshing to be problem solving rather than simply memorizing! I almost found myself enjoying it the other day, that is until I got to the much harder material and wanted to throw the book out the window.

We’ve only had two days of class so far and already we have our first of two midterms this week. I definitely haven’t been studying as much as I should be, but hopefully I’ll have a firm grasp of the material by Thursday. I made the executive decision that I need to at least have a partial social life this summer and of course still prioritize my training. Plus, the material is so dense, I feel like there’s only so much time you can actually stare at it before your brain explodes. I think I’ve done a fairly good job of maintaining balance between school, training and fun so far, and I even found some nice places to study in the sunshine that aren’t too distracting. Sleep has been suffering though…I need to work on that.

In other news, I FINALLY got a hospital volunteer position! I have been persistently calling various NYC hospitals since early April, and it was becoming a discouraging process (programs already full, no one returning calls/emails etc). I realize now that it’s just how it goes with hospitals – everyone is so busy and there are so many forms and rules to follow, and things take awhile to process as a result. I was relieved when the manager of Clinical Nutrition and Patient Services at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center called me in to interview last week. It went very well and I was offered the position on the spot – I start on July 2nd (four hours every Monday), or as soon as I am medically cleared. Very excited!

And last but not least, a quick announcement: my coaching gig with Gilda’s Club NYC will be starting soon (our first meeting is in June, first run in early July) and the team still has about ten spots open. If you or anyone you know would like to run the NYC Marathon and raise $3,000 for a great charity, please let me know and I will give you all the details!

Have a great Sunday! As for me, time to hit the books…my head hurts just thinking about it!!

As I write that title, I realize that I’m nowhere close to finishing anything. I’m trying to convince myself that there’s light at the end of the tunnel while I cram for my next two midterms (both on Monday), but I’m a first semester grad student who just started chipping away at a long list of prereq’s. With school, volunteering, training and much more, it’s go-go-go all the time. And this is supposed to be the easy semester!

Forgive me for being a physiology nerd, but this graph kinda sums up my life right now:

If you’re familiar with muscle contraction, then you know what I’m talking about. My big finish line is graduation, and that is a LONG way off – unfortunately it will take me much longer than 300 milliseconds to get there!

However, as with anything, you have to break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks to avoid going insane. I can’t help but focus on the future, but I’m trying my best to also be fully present. I’m trying to enjoy the craziness (it’s stressful but awesome stuff, for the most part) and take things One. Step. At. A. Time.

My physiology midterm this past Tuesday morning was my first big step. It was my first exam in eight years, I studied my butt off for it and I CRUSHED it. I only missed one question! It had been so long since I had taken an important test, the closest thing I can relate the experience to is racing. And really, when you think about it, racing and testing aren’t that different. You set goals, you work hard to prepare – and then you perform and get your results.

I woke up early Tuesday morning and pretty much went into race mode until I handed in my exam. I was even wearing running clothes (since I had planned a tempo run following the exam)! I ate a good breakfast, drank lots of water, gave myself a little pep talk in the mirror and then headed to campus, blasting upbeat music to rev myself up. In the classroom, I blocked out the chatter of my classmates with some calming music, closed my eyes and just chilled out. I was focused and ready, just waiting to begin. I could’ve been at a race start – same exact feeling!

So, with my physiology midterm under my belt and my last NYC half marathon long training run completed as of this morning, I’m going to let myself consider the next couple of weeks my HOME STRETCH! Two midterms and a race – I can handle that. Sure I have another midterm the week after spring break, and mountains of reading, assignments and a billion other things to deal with in the meantime, and then another round of exams shortly followed by final exams, all very tightly packed together, but I’m not going to think about that right now.

What I AM thinking about right now is the incredible bagel I just ate. Whole wheat everything Ess-a-bagel, still piping hot from the oven, with cream cheese and eggs (made a mini omelet with egg white and feta cheese) on top. It was so delicious I nearly cried. Ah I love my post-long run food! The second bagel is taunting me – but I’m going to try to save it for tomorrow morning. I did a HUGE shop at TJ’s earlier this week and have tons of other tasty things waiting to be cooked!

I logged 16.85M this morning at 9:12 average pace, bringing my weekly mileage to 40.45M! AT LAST, I crossed the 40 mile threshold. It’s been awhile – since Portland marathon training, I believe.

Today’s long run was very wet, but awesome – my last long run before the NYC half marathon on March 18th. My hamstring was a bit tight at the beginning and end, and I was tired from not sleeping enough lately, but overall I felt really good. I ran with a friend for the first 11.5M and then finished on my own. As you can see in my Garmin details, we covered most of the race course, which starts on 64th st, loops counter-clockwise around the park, cuts over to the west side highway and finishes at South Street Seaport. I really appreciated the change in scenery – I love Central Park, but after a loop or two I get bored. I suppose one way to alleviate that would be to a loop of the bridal path and reservoir – I’ll do that next time. It was also really nice being able to run back to my neighborhood and immediately stuff my face with a bagel!

I ran in my new shoes, and they were very comfy. I got the same ones I always get – Saucony Omni 10 – but in a new color. Loving the black shoe laces! I almost didn’t wear them given the rain, but I figured they’re bound to get nasty eventually, so it may as well be today! Plus, I need to get some mileage on them before the race. They were soaked by the end of my run, but still I’m glad I wore them.

Lastly, I just wanted to mention that I learned something quite useful in the park from my running buddy today. This is probably common knowledge, and I feel a bit silly admitting this, but I didn’t realize that every lamppost on the loop is marked with a cross street. I often wonder where I am in between the larger park entrances and exits, and now that will never be an issue!

I should probably stop procrastinating and start studying for my Intro to Food and Food Science exam. I wish I could take a nap! Instead I get to learn a long list of food borne illnesses and other things relating to food safety and sanitation; various pigments in fruits and vegetables and how they react when cooked; all kinds of information relating to potatoes; tons of information on fats, oils, sauces and emulsions; how to make stocks; “mother” sauces (that just sounds so wrong to me) and their various uses; and much much more! It’s a lot more complicated than it sounds, but at least it’s all very interesting. My other midterm, Nutrition & Health, is your typical intro to nutrition, so things like dietary planning and guidelines, digestion and absorption of the macronutrients (fats, carbs, proteins) in great detail etc…I’ll tackle that tomorrow. Fun weekend ahead!

It’s amazing what a good night of sleep, a weekend of sunshine and a few pain-free runs can do for morale. Nailing my physiology quiz on Thursday didn’t hurt either! I finally feel like all of my hard work – both in training and in my studies – is starting to pay off.

Running-wise, I got my mileage back up to where I want it to be at this stage of NYC Half training – just over 37 miles, including yesterday’s awesome 14 miler in Central Park and today’s short recovery run on the East River. More importantly, I’m feeling good. I introduced speed work back into my training schedule on Tuesday and Thursday, which went relatively well. I have lost fitness in this area after taking two weeks off due to my hamstring injury, but it was still nice to pick up the pace and mix things up a bit. I won’t have time to build up my speed before the NYC Half as I had planned, particularly since I am still trying to be cautious as my hamstring continues to heal, but hopefully I can at least regain some of the speed that I lost.

I also had a really great, and long, PT session on Wednesday afternoon. She gave me so many exercises that I don’t know how it’s actually possibly to do them each day, but I’m doing my best to work in what I can. My right hamstring/inner thigh is still a tiny bit tender, particularly when I sit for long periods of time (which unfortunately is a large part of my days as I approach midterms), but I have no pain when I run, so I have definitely improved since my problem first flared up a few weeks ago. Mostly, I’m just happy that I can run normally and without discomfort. It’s such a relief. I hope this continues to be the case – it’s always a bit tricky trying to get out of that gray area of injury!

I’m sure it’s no coincidence that my return to a more normal running schedule has led to a decrease in my stress levels. I’m still a bit nervous, given that midterms start this week, but I finally feel like things are (somewhat) under control. The material I’ve been studying for my first exam, physiology, is starting to gel at last. My performance on Thursday’s quiz gave me the confidence boost I needed going into this last stretch of studying. I still have a lot of work to do, though…the material isn’t difficult, but the INSANE quantity of information that we have to memorize is challenging. Thankfully, I’m discovering that my brain DOES work after all these years out of school, and I think I can actually be as good of a student as I was in college. It may just take a few extra hours for my older brain to absorb things, that’s all!

So if I’ve been a bit silent, that is why. My weeks consist of running, eating, studying, going to class, more studying and sleeping (if I’m lucky), repeated over and over again. My first exam in eight years is on Tuesday morning – wish me luck!

Welcome to FFR

Hi, I'm Claire! I’m a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (MS, RD, CDN) and a Road Runners Club of America certified coach. This is where I share my latest adventures in running, racing, food & travel! If you'd like to work with me, please visit my professional website, Eat for Endurance.

My PRs

Marathon (Chicago): 3:33:18
Boston Marathon: 3:36:14
Half-Marathon: 1:37:21
10M: 1:14:52
10k: 44:52

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Let the baby food making begin! Gotta say, I'm really excited. Got the @beaba_usa food maker and it is SO easy to use - as in you push a button to steam, then turn the button to puree - kind of feel like I'm cheating 😂 Started with puréed butternut squash (using mostly organic produce for her but this one wasn't), froze most of it in 2oz containers, and left a few out for A to try! I expected her to spit it out but she liked it! And because it's literally just puréed veg, I eat whatever she doesn't. 😜 Now that Arielle is nearly 6 months old (this week!), we finally took our new @thule running stroller out for a spin on @summerstreets. Running with this thing is not easy - esp pushing uphill (E and I took turns pushing) - but it was so fun to be active together as a family. Bonus - A slept almost the whole time! 👍🏻 How are you making exercise fun this weekend? Friday night pizza night! Can't remember the last time we made pizza - so much fun and so tasty! Got the whole wheat dough from TJs, cut it in half (otherwise dough is too thick), and made one large pizza to share and two personal pizzas to enjoy tomorrow (okay, we split one of them as seconds because it was so yummy). Topped with shredded cheese, portabello mushrooms, spinach, sundried tomato, olives and ricotta. 👌🏻 Pictured - the small pizzas before popping in the oven! Thanks for the samples, @barillaus! Excited to try these products, especially as I start to train for my first post baby races (a trail half marathon and possibly a marathon later in the year). #eatforendurance Tried out another bean based pasta tonight - @traderjoeslist black bean rotini with pesto sauce, tomatoes, artichokes and parmesan. I prefer normal wheat based pasta, but it was pretty tasty, super filling, and packed with protein and fiber! Good morning!! I love to bake healthy (and not so healthy) treats and realized I hadn't done any baking since the week before the baby was born (nearly 6 months ago!), so I whipped up a batch of my fav Superhero muffins from the #runfasteatslow cookbook to enjoy throughout the week. Made a few modifications this time (added flaxseeds and coconut flakes, as well as some chopped pecans instead of walnuts) and they are soooo delicious! Have a fantastic Monday!

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