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Our award  Second place finish

After winning 1st place in the female relay division last year, team Dietitian Divas got automatic entry into this year’s race and set out to defend our title. We all joked that our highly competitive spirit didn’t quite match up to our training (or relative lack thereof), but we gave it our all and managed to get a team PR of 2:29:19, 2 min and 40 sec faster than last year. Go team!

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It was a very early morning. I forgot how painful it is to have to get to transition on west 72nd on the Hudson by 4:30 am and sit around (in the rain, this time) for 4 hours waiting for my teammates to do their parts before I have to spring into 10k mode.

Thankfully, the time went by fairly quickly, and the event was extremely well organized. Like last year, it was cool to be a part of such a different type of event and watch all the athletes, especially the pros. I can’t imagine doing the entire thing and have no desire to, so I’m glad I get the chance to participate as part of the relay. I loved the tri tats we got to put on this year – hand tats and MASSIVE arm tats. I felt badass – I wish we got these for marathons!

Here’s our team before the start, looking surprisingly awake at 5am:

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Most of the time we shaved off was thanks to our swimmer, who was 3 minutes faster compared to last year, as well as our cyclist, who was nearly a minute faster! I’m so proud of them – they really pushed hard.

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I was pumped to try to win again, but as I crossed 72nd street before mile 1, my legs were really feeling it. Not a good sign! I told myself that I would start pushing more later in the park to avoid blowing up, thrusting myself down the hills and really going for it after the halfway point. Picking off triathletes one by one gave me strength (I know, it’s not fair given I jumped in for the run, but it’s still exhilarating to pass so many people in such a short race). And when a one-armed guy flew past me at mile 5, that inspired me to push even harder. The finish was worse than I remembered – like a never ending maze that zig zagged all around the 72nd street transverse. I was so happy to hear the cheers of my teammates and friends near the finish to keep me going!

Unfortunately, I did not beat my time from last year – I was 1 min 24 sec slower, which is pretty spot on what I predicted to my team. I knew it wasn’t realistic to get a PR given that I’m in the middle of marathon training (and didn’t really taper) and am also slightly heavier than last year. I also had to stop to adjust my chip, which was too loose around my ankle at the start of the run, and we were about 10 sec slower during our transitions, so I guess it all adds up. I tried my best, and that’s what matters! Check out my Garmin details here.

When I found out that we missed 1st place by just 35 seconds, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat responsible for our second place finish despite our overall faster time given I was the only one that slowed down this year. But that’s okay – it was a faster field and we were extremely close to winning, so 2nd place certainly is something to celebrate! Perhaps more importantly, we beat the team that used to win every year until we beat them last year (they placed 2nd last year and 3rd this year), which made us happy (competitive much?!). I’m proud of our team for getting a PR and we were excited to once again get up on that podium. I know for me at least, it’s likely the only time I’ll ever be up on a major race stage receiving an award! It’s also a great feeling to be part of a team for once, in a sport that for me mostly involves racing solo.

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We had the same commentator, you said the same thing as last year when we accepted our award: “Dietitian Divas – that’s so New York.” Um…okay!

We had tons of time to kill in between our finish and the awards ceremony, so we hit up the finish area booths before grabbing brunch. I’ve never gotten so much swag in my life! Check out all the Clif products I got. I swear, I didn’t rob a running store! They kept dumping things into my bag! I’m not a huge fan of recovery drinks, powders, protein bars etc (I prefer REAL food after a run), but I am experimenting with new gels and other products for the Marine Corps Marathon, and given how expensive they are, I was very grateful for these goodies to try.

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Now that the triathlon is over, it’s back to marathon training (I’m about to enter my 5th week of training) and studying for the RD exam, which I started to do yesterday. I also have one more week left of my Community rotation – my last rotation of my Dietetic Internship at Montefiore. I can’t believe I’m nearly done – it’s been a tough year and I know I have many more challenges ahead, but finishing this internship and taking the RD exam (hopefully in early September) will be such a relief. I don’t think the internship will really feel over until I have my credentials and finally start working!

I’m looking forward to heading to CA later this month for a little break before the exam to see my family, relax, study a little, and mostly just escape NYC for the first time in over 7 months. I have my first 20 miler coming up, which I am grateful to be able to run along my favorite trails in Nisene Marks. I can’t wait to breathe in that fresh redwood air and run on my beautiful local beach. Visions of home will get me through this final stretch!

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I love the Oakley Mini 10k – definitely one of my favorite NYRR races! This was my third time running it with one of my friends and I was excited to be back and experience once again everything the mini has to offer. However, I couldn’t help but feel a bit apprehensive last night when I picked up the following bib number on a very rainy Friday the 13th:

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I mean, really NYRR? You couldn’t have skipped that number?! 🙂

Thankfully, despite my ominous number, I had a great race today. Was it fast? No. I came in at 47:08, which makes this year my slowest yet (compared to 46:47 last year, and 45:58 the year before…wait a minute, I don’t like this trend!). But it was my first all out racing effort in a loooong time – without ANY hamstring pain I should add – and it was super fun!

As I wrote in my first mini race recap in 2012, the mini is inspiring and unique in so many ways. NYRR always gets an amazing elite field, which this year included Desi Linden back again plus Deena Kastor, Molly Huddle (who won and broke the 30-year standing national all-women’s 10k record by 1 second), Lauren Fleshman and many others. It’s the only race that I get to be right up front – able to actually see all those incredible women start the race – which is very cool. The pre-race speeches are awesome (especially since I get to be right next to the stage for once) – today, Mary Wittenberg got the crowd revved up as usual, Katherine Switzer (along with the other female founder of the race) got up on stage to share the history of the race since it started in 1972, which I always like to hear because I certainly cannot imagine a time without women running! Desi gave a quick speech as did one of the Boston survivors, who said some very moving words about the space between where you are and where you want to be. It was a great start to the morning!

It’s also a very useful training tool for me, as I’m usually in between training cycles (i.e. post Spring marathon, usually climbing out of my gluttonous lazy phase), and thus is a great barometer of where I stand as I begin to prepare for late summer (NYC triathlon) and fall racing (Bronx 10 and Marine Corps Marathon). Two years ago – the last time I was able to really race – it told me I was in good shape for the start of my Chicago training and sure enough, I went on to BQ.

Lastly, the mini is a fun opportunity to catch up with my friend and this year – unexpectedly – race with her! I’m usually faster but this year she’s been getting one PR after another and I apparently am getting slower, so the gap is closing! She took off at the start and normally I would let her go and catch her later, since I tend to start out slower and gradually speed up (at least this works great in longer distances), but today I decided that I couldn’t let her out of my sight. My legs were feeling pretty heavy and I knew I needed a little competition to spur me on! So it was interesting for once to take off and try to hold on. Not my usual strategy but for a shorter race I guess it’s not a bad one.

I finally caught her around mile 1 and told her, “You’re really giving me a run for my money!” From that point onwards, we ended up running within a few steps of each other. I could hardly keep up with her at times and I was pushing HARD. I hadn’t raced like that in a very long time – it was uncomfortable, and at times horrible, but also wonderful to get in touch with that feeling of hard work and that good (i.e. non injured) pain that goes along with it.

I looked at my watch during the first couple of miles but then didn’t bother. I was just trying to hang on and continue to carefully toe that line of racing but not blowing up. Around mile 5, I could tell she was struggling (I was too) and so I gave her some words of encouragement about how well she was doing. She said she didn’t think she was doing that great – so I told her, “Well, you have one mile to change that! Don’t let me beat you!” That seemed to get her going – and sure enough she got a PR. That last mile was brutal. She got ahead and I managed to pour every ounce of energy I had left into one final sprint so that we crossed the line at the same time. We both nearly fell over when we finished. I had no idea what time we got but thought surely that at that effort we must have finished in 45 something. Nope – 47:08! I couldn’t believe it. But I was happy. What a great combination of camaraderie and competition.

So this year, the mini revealed that I have a LOT of work to do before my next race on Aug 3. We’re defending champs of the women’s NYC triathlon relay and I can’t let my team down! It was warm and humid out, and I hadn’t rested much during the week (silly me, deciding to start strength training again a couple days before), so I’m sure that’s part of it. But mostly I just need to get back to the gym, hit the track more regularly, and get rid of those extra pounds I’m carrying. Time to get to work! I’ve started to keep a food journal just to get back into more mindful eating. It’s VERY time consuming (even with myfitnesspal), and I’m proud of myself for sticking with it for 6 days in a row. It’s really increased my awareness of my eating patterns and how I can make some positive changes to optimally fuel my body and help get myself back into racing shape.

As in previous years, I couldn’t leave the post-race festival without getting my medal signed. This time, I got Desi’s signature (as before) as well as Deena’s and Lauren’s, and got to chat with all of them about how they ran, upcoming races etc. Definitely a wonderful experience!

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I made a killer whole wheat pizza packed with veggies as well as some chicken sausage and cheese for my post race meal. YUM. E had just gotten back from a 50 mile bike ride so we both happily stuffed our faces. Here’s the pizza before I popped it in the oven. I love Trader Joe’s dough!

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And now back to the books. I stupidly left some substantial projects for my Sports Nutrition class to the last minute (these summer courses really fly by) and thus tomorrow I’ll be in the library all day rather than enjoying the beautiful weather. I dream that someday I will be done with this program!! The good news is that I finished my clinical rotations last week and only have about 8 more weeks to go before I finish my Dietetic Internship and can take my RD exam. I won’t be truly finished until May 2015, but still…light at the end of the tunnel!

 

I’m starting to think that the races I go into with relatively low or neutral expectations are often the great ones. Not to say that setting ambitious goals for yourself isn’t worthwhile – this is what I usually do, and it’s what led me to BQ in the NYC Marathon, for instance. However, my perfectionist tendency to put so much pressure on myself and over-analyze the journey to the finish can sometimes backfire rather than motivate me – it’s a fine line!

Take my very first half marathon, for instance – I had taken a week off due to a bad cold and didn’t really know what I was capable of achieving. Rather than plot out a detailed race strategy or obsess about pace bands, the gun went off and I just started running. By the second mile, I realized how strong I felt and gradually pushed harder and harder until I reached the finish. I ran a 1:37 and am still trying to beat that time! I trained hard for that race, but my ability to remain so focused and in tune with my body was equally important. Just run forward as fast as you can until you are done – it really felt that simple. And yet most of the time, for me, it never is that simple!

I didn’t break any personal bests at yesterday’s Mini 10k race, but I did exceed my expectations and had a fantastic race. I went into it utterly exhausted (I haven’t really slept much in the last two weeks – part insomnia, part organic chemistry), I didn’t feel like running, my stomach was upset and I wasn’t prepared for this race (I’ve done minimal speed work since March). Hence the low expectations! This race was supposed to be a diagnostic to assess my fitness level as I launch my Chicago marathon training, but my real goal was to improve my NYRR race “best pace” of 7:39 so that I could be placed in a higher corral going forward. It wasn’t a very lofty goal, given I normally run a 10k much faster, but I wasn’t sure I could even manage a 7:38.

  

My running buddy met me bright and early at Columbus Circle, where the race began. Racing is always more fun with friends! I decided to test my running skirt out in a race – figured wearing a mini skirt would be appropriate for the all-women’s “mini” 10k – and my skirt didn’t disappoint. I might have to buy another one…

The race started at 8am and we really lucked out – it was supposed to be a hot one and the sun was kind enough to hide behind clouds until later in the day. This was my first all-women race – I normally wouldn’t go out of my way to do an all-women race, but I loved it (minus the crazy long toilet lines – they definitely needed more toilets!). The course was challenging but awesome and being surrounded by so many women runners was inspiring. Without all the men in the way, I was right up front – I could see the elites (Desi Davila, Edna Kiplagat and many others)!

The beginning (running up Central Park West) was crowded and I was feeling pretty apathetic about the whole situation, but at some point during the first mile, my attitude shifted. I don’t know why. Maybe being surrounded by so many other female runners and feeling proud to be part of something much larger motivated me – or wearing my Claire tank, which I usually only save for big races – or looking at my watch at Mile 1 and seeing my 7:20 average pace. Whatever it was, something stirred within me and I felt that fighting spirit come back. “Slow down!” my brain yelled, but my body said “screw it” and kept pressing on. The roads opened up as we entered the park and I was able to get “into the zone.”

It’s really tough to toe that line successfully in terms of pushing as hard as you can without crashing and burning before the finish – but in a relatively short race, you can afford to be a bit more risky at the start and I decided to just go for it. The hills were a bit brutal, reflected in my slightly slower split at Mile 4, and I was losing a little steam in Mile 6, but I managed to keep up the momentum for the most part. The downhills felt incredible (why do so many people fail to use the downhills to their advantage?!) and I LOVED the fact that the last part of the race was similar to the NYC Marathon course, including the same finish (minus that horrible hill at the end – I could’ve done without that). It brought me back to how hard I was working at that stage of the marathon to reach my goal and motivated me to keep pushing.

Finally I reached the finish – it took me a long time to catch my breath. My official time was 45:58 – just 54 seconds shy of my 10k PR, which I ran on a flat course several years ago. I really left it all out there on the roads – it’s been awhile since I’ve pushed that hard, and I’m really proud of myself given my current fitness level. What a great starting point! I really am more of an endurance runner and usually don’t like 10k’s because they are so fast, but I was really happy crossing that finish line and it was actually really nice to be finished in 3/4 of an hour! I placed 287th out of 6,122 women overall and was 77th in my age group, 30-34, out of 1,146. My average pace was 7:25 – great news for my future NYRR corral placements. Here are my Garmin details.

This bodes very well for my Chicago training, assuming I can keep myself injury free. Clearly I have more speed in my legs than I previously believed – surely helped by the fact that I’ve trimmed down slightly since I raced my last 10k, over a year ago. My hamstring felt fine during the race, but it has occasionally felt a bit sore after workouts so I just need to keep up my strength training and be very mindful of how my body feels.

  

After the race, my friend and I enjoyed our popsicles and other post-race goodies and chilled out on the grass, stretching and listening to the live music. She got a PR so we were both really amped up.

  

We were about to leave when we noticed a crowd around one of the tents – turns out Edna Kiplagat (who won the race – she also won the NYC marathon the year I ran it) and Desi Davila were there signing medals and taking photos with fans. Awesome! I LOVE Desi so it was such an honor to meet her. I’m kind of obsessed with this photo. I couldn’t believe how tiny she is in person!

Both women signed my medal – Edna wrote “good job” and Desi wrote “Claire, run happy!” Best medal ever.

We finally left the race area and on our way out, we saw Desi running with her coach. They were speeding along, doing some cool-down miles presumably. I can’t wait to watch her run in the London Olympics!

I’m definitely doing this race again next year. Great course, great crowd and truly inspiring to see how far we’ve come in the last 40 years – GO WOMEN RUNNERS!!!!

I wasn’t feeling too stoked for today’s Pacific Grove 10k when my alarm went off at 4am this morning…a combination of race anticipation but mostly anxiety from my school application process had led to yet another relatively sleepless night, and running a race at 7am was the last thing I wanted to do.

Fast forward a few hours, however, and I am so grateful that I participated! Why is that? Because for the first time ever, I placed in a race!

My two racing buddies – Kim, the woman who cleaned my teeth, and Albert, who coaches her – picked me up at 5:15am. I started to wake up and get into the racing spirit as we chatted about our training and various other things – really lovely people! It was also quite convenient that Kim’s parents were volunteering for the event, and had already picked up our numbers (mine was 10019 – old NYC zip code!) and bags, and later on, watched our stuff. Nothing like a bit of VIP treatment!

I had pictured the Pacific Grove 10k as a smallish event, with around one hundred or so runners. I had also imagined a bustling race atmosphere, given that the 10k fun run was part of a much larger triathlon event, and chilly but sunny weather (according to the weather report, at least). Therefore, I was quite surprised when we showed up to the race village at 6:15am for the 7am start, and not only was it still pitch black out, but there was no one there! Everything was set up, but completely dead, with only a few volunteers out and about. Finally at around 6:45ish, some runners started to appear, triathletes started to gather in the transition area (their event started at 7:30) and the sky slowly brightened (although it remained quite foggy and chilly). Here are a few photos to give you a sense of what it was like, merely 20 minutes before the start.

 

A few minutes before 7am, I approached the start line with my two running buddies. A very enthusiastic race organizer said a few words of welcome on the microphone, as if he were speaking to a massive crowd. I looked behind me and practically started laughing when I realized only about 40-50 people were participating in the event! The course also turned out to be three laps – not exactly exciting, but the route was along the water with beautiful views, and I do love my three-lap 10k courses for pacing purposes.

I set off aiming to run the first two laps at marathon pace (8:15ish) and the last lap at tempo pace (7:23ish). However, with such a small field and a pretty fast course, we found it hard to put on the brakes and ended up running between 7:49 and 8:01 for the first four miles. A part of me wanted to just go all out and see if I could break 45 minutes, but I knew I had to hold back for tomorrow’s 15 miler, plus I was having fun chatting with Kim and Albert. By the last lap, I was itching to pick up some speed and squeeze in my planned tempo session, so I bumped up the pace to the finish. Check out my Garmin details for my splits and a map of the course, and the photos below to see me in action (sorry for the horrible quality).

   

My injured areas were feeling a bit tight, and my gel belt (which I wore with 5 gels to practice for the marathon) was loose and bouncing around everywhere (I forgot to tie a knot to keep the tightened belt in place – drove me crazy), but otherwise, I felt really good throughout. What a contrast to the Reykjavik 10k only three weeks earlier – I felt pretty good then too, but it was a MUCH harder effort and only 24 seconds faster! I still have a ways to go, but it’s a relief to see proof that I am finally starting to recover my fitness!

The real confidence booster, however, was hearing my name and hometown announced on the loudspeakers (which rarely happens for me) as I sprinted towards the finish and crossed the line in 47:10, and being told as I was handed a cup of water that I was the first female and fourth overall finisher! Had I actually raced it, I probably would’ve come in 2nd. I couldn’t believe it – well, I guess I could having looked at my fellow runners, but still – this is the first time I’ve actually placed in a race! Even though my race time isn’t anything to brag about and the competition wasn’t exactly fierce, it still made me incredibly happy. Kim and Albert came in just after me – it was a great workout for all of us!

I was even more excited when I saw the official results! Check this out – my name is listed first in the top 10 women finishers, even above the winning female triathlete, which is quite hilarious, given her 10k time was nearly 10 minutes faster than mine! But hey – I’m not complaining…although I think I CAN complain about the fact that they said I’m 30 years old, when I still have a full week of racing left as a 29 year old!! Oh well…have to start getting used to seeing the big 3-0 next to my name anyway!

*Slight update on the above – over the course of the day the results have shifted, obviously, to showcase the triathletes with crazy fast times…however I’m still top of the list when you search a few of the results options!

Several hours later, I’m a bit sore and very tired, but my spirits are high and my ego has received a sizable boost. So if you’re approaching a big race and your confidence levels are starting to sag, try entering a local race and see if you can place in it! It’s an awesome feeling, regardless of finishing time and/or competitor field…

Here are a few more photos from the race:

   

Yesterday afternoon, I went to the Dentist. I ended up leaving not only with clean teeth, but also with a plan to participate in a 10k race down the coast in Pacific Grove this Saturday morning with a new local running buddy. Turns out my dental hygienist is a marathon runner (she ran NYC last year too, and is currently training for CIM in Sacramento) and invited me to join her in one of her training races. She also knows the local trails far better than I do and we run at a similar pace, so I’m hoping she can join me for my 15 miler on Sunday and show me the ropes! I have a trail map, but it’s always more fun to learn on the go with someone who knows the area well.

Initially, I was a bit hesitant about entering the 10k – it cost $56, which is REALLY expensive for such a short race, and not at all friendly to my unemployed/student budget. I think this may be because it is part of a much larger event (the Pacific Grove Triathlon). Also, Pacific Grove is an hour drive from where I live, which means getting up at 4am for the 7am start – that’s a good two earlier than I’m used to in terms of start times – and I’ve been feeling a bit run down recently with everything else going on (I don’t know why, but it seems many US races start far earlier than UK ones). Lastly, I had just done a MP run that morning and was planning to do a tempo run on Saturday, so I wasn’t sure how useful the race would be in the context of my training.

I mulled it over as she finished my x-rays. After she said she would drive and that the guy who trains her would be pacing her at 8:15, I decided I should just go for it. I’m a firm believer in the importance of training races (they really contributed to my success in NYC) so normally, I would have tons planned, but due to my injury and my move to California, I haven’t had any for Portland except for the Reykjavik 10k. What really forced me to sign up, however, is that the Portland marathon starts at 7am and not once yet have I practiced waking up at 4am, eating, and running at 7am, which I will obviously have to do on October 9th. I really should be doing this for my long runs, but not sure I can stomach two 4am wake-up calls in a row…

Also, when have I ever signed up for a race so spontaneously?! Most of the time I don’t even have that option, as races fill up so quickly these days, but also I’m such a planner (particularly with out-of-town races, because you kinda have to be) that I rarely decide to throw a random race into my training schedule. It’s great to suddenly mix things up like that!

Lastly, it seemed like a great opportunity to meet local runners and get back into the California racing scene, which I haven’t been a part of since I was 16 years old, while on my high-school’s cross country team. Check out the course – flat and fast, not that I’m racing it at 10k pace, but looks fun!

I’m not sure yet how I’ll approach the race – my friend and her running buddy will be running the entire race at 8:15, which is good practice for me too, since I haven’t done any MP work in a race environment yet. However, I may reach a compromise with my planned tempo session and decide to run 6k at 8:15 and 4k at 7:25ish. That way I do MP, tempo and practice running faster on tired legs. I just have to be sure not to go overboard, as I still have my long run the following morning! My injury is doing slightly better, I’m happy to report (I hate to admit it, but it probably is because I am finally doing my rehab exercises again after being a delinquent for a couple weeks, and I’m also getting stronger simply through training). However, I’m still in a slightly precarious situation, so I’m not counting on anything just yet!

Right, well I need to stop procrastinating now (sadly, this blog – and anything that isn’t related to school applications – is considered procrastination at the moment). I finally started my applications yesterday, and I have to say, it’s a really frustrating/stressful process. In short, the CA school system is a bit messed up, so NYU (and lots of student loans) may be my best option assuming I can get in there, but I’m not giving up on anything just yet…wish me luck!

How about that for timing – literally as I was about to finish this post, the mail came and guess what arrived on my doorstep?! My favorite running shoes (Saucony omni progrid, updated from 9 to 10) – in PURPLE! Aren’t they pretty? I feel cheered up already!

I can’t wait to try them out – hopefully the 10 is a good update from the 9, but more importantly of course, I finally have shoes in my favorite color, which match my racing outfit! 🙂

And on that note, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Winter training – particularly winter racing – is tough. I realize that I’m saying this in March, but if you’ve been in London recently, then you are probably aware that winter has made a sudden (but hopefully brief) comeback.

Apparently, the ideal marathon racing temperature is a chilly 41 degrees F (5 degrees C). Based on my last marathon experience, I can believe it, but for shorter, faster races such as the 10k, I find temperatures of 41 degrees or in today’s case, lower, to be challenging. With a half marathon, you can get away with going a bit slower in the first mile or so and ease into your race pace, but in a 10k, you don’t really have that luxury because it’s so much shorter. All you can do is devote more time to your warmup and ideally begin your race immediately after, but even after jogging and drills, my legs sometimes still feel stiff and heavy and race logistics inevitably force you to stand around and get cold again.

Needless to say, today’s frigid, windy conditions didn’t exactly invite me to race a PB-shattering 10k, but I was hoping that I had enough fight in me to go for it anyway. At 6:30am, however, the fight was fast asleep and very much not interested in getting a new PB. The thought of a steaming bowl of banana oatmeal (my usual pre-race breakfast) finally lured me out of my cozy bed and into my chilly race gear, but what ultimately motivated me was the fact that I would not only have a race companion (I convinced E to join me, obviously), but also members of “Team Claire” (ie my parents) would be cheering me on!

My parents have been visiting me this weekend from California and, to my surprise, were actually eager to watch me race a local running club 10k at 9am on a Sunday in freezing temperatures during their holiday. They really are troopers! It was such a treat, because I have done the Mornington Chasers 10k race series many times, but mostly on my own, and never with support! I suppose they considered this to be a piece of cake compared to their recent marathon spectating (the course was three laps around Regents Park, so no traipsing across a major city required), but I still really admire their energy levels. They’re over twice my age and I can hardly keep up with them! So after two days of chasing them around London, I guess all I could do to make myself feel my own age was race 6.2 miles as they stood and watched.

My original goal was to beat my best time of 45:04, but by the time the gun went off at 9am, the fight inside me was still only stirring and my legs felt heavier than usual. I tried to muster up that strong sense of trust that has carried me through recent workouts, but the reality was that I didn’t believe that I had a sub-45 in my legs on this particular occasion…maybe 45:30 and definitely sub-46, but sub-45 was not going to happen. I accepted this at some point during the first lap and quickly attached myself to a more realistic goal of sub-46. As long as I get under 46, I started to tell myself…

I think this race series is great because the course, being three laps, provides a wonderful exercise in pacing (particularly, practicing a negative split), mental toughness, and also not relying on external factors such as exciting scenery or crowd support to motivate your performance. Not to say the park isn’t pretty and no one is cheering you on, but it’s a small race predominantly geared towards training, so you need to look within and to some degree to your fellow competitors instead. The turnout today was pretty good – around 253 runners participated, 78 of which were women. I placed 12th in my gender group and 98th overall, with an official gun time of 46:00 (but a real time of 45:46).

I felt quite pleased when I finished – (secondary) goal achieved! I was also very proud of E, who made his 10k debut with a time of 52:00. This was particularly impressive given that he had a terrible cold, but raced nonetheless (which perhaps isn’t advisable…but who am I to talk). My parents enjoyed watching the race, and although it took awhile, we all finally defrosted over hot coffees in the cafe at the Hub.

My parents and I then went on to explore Primrose Hill, Camden Lock and Camden Market, where I devoured a delicious crepe, the most massive pork bun ever and other goodies. The buzz from the 10k stuck with me for hours – it had been months since I had raced and I realized how much I missed that feeling. Here are some race and post-race photos:

After Camden Market, my parents wanted to continue their marathon day of sightseeing and I had hit my sightseeing wall, so I made my way home to finally shower and rest. A few hours later, the race started to sink in and I couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed. I still got a great time, but the last 10k I raced was in July, after having not trained much following a lengthy post-marathon running break. And you know what time I did then? 46:49, on a very hot morning.

So here I am, having trained for months, and I could only muster about a minute faster than that last race? We all have off days, but I guess it’s making me come to terms with the fact that I’m not in 1:37 half marathon shape right now. According to race predictors, I’m closer to 1:40, which may be relatively accurate, given that the last half that I raced was 1:39:56 this past September. But obviously I know I CAN do 1:37 – I did it a year and a half ago! *Sigh* The simultaneous joy and frustration of making a half marathon debut at a time you can’t touch…

So who knows. And I guess who cares. What concerned me more was that I had to actively remind myself to push hard today. Rather than only competing with myself, I looked to others – just stick with her, don’t let that guy beat you etc. – which isn’t entirely new and certainly not a bad thing, but I’ve never had to rely upon that kind of competition to fuel a race. I’m usually more focused, solely concerned about my own performance. That said, it was quite fun to sprint at the end against a competitor, and afterwards shake hands and share some banter. That’s good sportsmanship, and what would a race be without some friendly competition, both with yourself and with your fellow runners?

Happy Holidays from the fight and flight response! I hope you have all managed to rest up, enjoy time with your loved ones, indulge in some delicious food and also (perhaps) squeeze in some runs or other forms of exercise! I had a relaxing staycation in London, which has left me feeling energetic and psyched for my next big challenge!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m still on my marathon break, having just run the ING New York City Marathon last month and the Paris Marathon before that. But having trained my heart out for over 18 weeks to smash my sub-3:40 marathon goal, it seems wasteful not to take advantage of all that hard work! Each day I catch a glimpse of my “race wall” – a wall in my bedroom that I have plastered with race numbers, medals, photos and other memorabilia, mostly from 2010 – and think, “Did I really do all of those races?! How I can keep up my momentum and continue to improve as a runner in 2011 without completely giving up my social life, travel plans etc?”

Don’t get me wrong – I loved my post-marathon time off of running and the weeks of aimless exercise that ensued! Garmin-less easy runs, yoga, new gym classes and many rest days helped me make a strong recovery both physically and mentally after having pushed myself for so long. After awhile, however, I started to get bored and hungered for new goals to keep me motivated during the dark, cold winter months – something more interesting than simply “stay in shape.”

My running coach, Sam Murphy, suggested that I enter some shorter races, which sounded like a great idea as I stared at my unusually empty race calendar. Given my increased strength and endurance from marathon training, I could perhaps achieve some new PBs! I also hope to expand my running horizons and try a few more trail races once it warms up, as well as a marathon in the fall to keep me in marathon shape before I (hopefully) tackle Boston in 2012.

Although I’ve been back into structured training for many weeks now, this week officially marks the beginning of my new target – a half marathon PB.  This will be the first race I train for without any regular assistance from my coach in about a year. I’ve been very spoiled, receiving Sam’s training schedules each week as well as other general advice! You can never really predict what will happen on race day, but I’m confident that IF I stay focused, listen to my body, train wisely and somehow keep my sweet tooth in check, I’ll do just fine. I’ve learned so much from my coach and from my own experiences while training for two marathons, two 20-milers, six half marathons, four 10ks and many other races in the last year and a half (yep, I just counted them on the wall!), so I’m pretty revved up to take on this next challenge on my own.

THE GOAL: To finally beat my best half marathon time of 1:37:34. I’ve been trying to get sub-1:37 ever since I discovered that this time would give me automatic entry to the NYC marathon, which would be pretty awesome. I would love to do that race again.

THE RACE: Ideally, I would run the same course, the Royal Parks Half Marathon, to eliminate as many variables as possible. However, Royal Parks is in October, and thus too late, so I settled on the Asics Fleet pre-London Half Marathon on March 20th. This race is local, advertised as a fast course with an excellent chance to achieve a personal best time, small enough to give me room to run my (very ambitious) pace and exactly the time of year I was after.

THE SUB-GOAL: To beat my best 10k time of 45:04. I haven’t done a 10K race in over a year, and I’ll be racing this right after my beach holiday, but I am still hopeful!

THE (TRAINING) RACE: The Mornington Chasers Winter 10k in Regents Park (same course as my best time) on February 6th.

THE PLAN OF ATTACK: So far, I’ve been borrowing bits and pieces from my previous marathon schedules, which include tons of great sessions, but I need to compose a full 12-week schedule (which is, apparently, the ideal build-up to a half marathon) that is more geared towards the half distance. For those of you who are interested, I will be posting my training program so you can follow my progress, or even better, join the fun!

THE NUTRITION STRATEGY: My diet has been pretty horrible lately (and by lately, I mean since the NYC marathon), but hey it’s the holidays, right?! New Year, new goal, new nutrition effort. Although I certainly don’t look like I need to lose weight, I need to lose about 5 pounds if I hope to achieve my goal. On average, runners are two seconds per mile faster for every pound they lose, and that really adds up over longer distances! I’m going to make a concerted effort to be more mindful of what I eat and to ensure I consume plenty of protein, complex carbs, fresh produce and healthy fats to fuel my runs! Check out my recipe page for some of my favorite runner-friendly recipes!

And now, it’s time for a sports massage. What better way to prime myself for the New Year?!

Happy running to you all, and wishing you a very healthy and exciting 2011!

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

My latest photos

Grateful for quality time this week with my little pumpkin! 🎃😍 Happy Monday from California! I haven’t posted any running pics for a long time as I’ve been dealing with a hip injury for the last few months (and zero running for the last 5 weeks). 😓 I haven’t run a race, even a short one, in over a year - so different than how I imagined my postpartum running life to be. It makes me sad that I can’t run especially while in Santa Cruz, but I’m trying to stay active in different ways, be diligent about my PT, and remain positive even though the road to recovery feels endless at times. Yesterday, E and I went on a beautiful beach walk in the morning and then I did a hike with a friend and our babes in the afternoon, where I normally run in Nisene. I miss running but hopefully will get back to it soon, stronger than before! Baking “for the baby” tonight (so I say as I gobble up these delicious treats). Made mini pumpkin muffins (and a few mama sized ones), recipe adapted from @babyfoode. So easy to make - I added full fat Greek yogurt and almond butter to include some healthy fats. I think Arielle will love these - if for some crazy reason she doesn’t, more for me!! 😂 Nice work on tonight’s dinner, @trailz.io!! So good I’m going back for seconds. Veg bake with layers of eggplant, red onions, tomatoes, zucchini, ricotta, breadcrumbs, & spices with arugula on top. 👌🏻 Surprise package in the mail today! Thx @rxbar - stoked to try out the new gingerbread flavor. Speaking of, how on earth is it already the holiday season?!?! #rxbar Love @siggisdairy triple cream yogurts - perfect to satisfy a craving for something sweet and indulgent while providing 9g protein, relatively few calories (170), and calcium. The chocolate flavor was so delicious! #dailysiggis

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