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This week has been pretty calm in terms of running (taking it easy after the half marathon), but extremely high intensity in just about every other area of my life! It’s also been filled with blossoms – I can’t tell you how excited I am that Spring is finally here. Makes it tough to lock myself up in the library with the gorgeous weather we’ve been having, but my runs have been glorious.

I finally took my last midterm this morning – it was an online exam that I could take anytime this week and was more challenging than I expected so I am very glad that it’s over. Not my favorite Sunday morning activity, I must say! I wish that I could take the rest of the day off to relax, but unfortunately my next round of exams start up next week, and I have a lot of studying to do, not to mention other work for my two volunteer positions and countless other things. But I did want to take a few minutes to share my latest updates!

Firstly, I am very excited to report that I have secured my first formal coaching gig, coaching the Gilda’s Club team to run the 2012 NYC Marathon! This has been in the works for several weeks, but I didn’t want to mention it until my position was official. Physical Equilibrium, where I intern, coaches Gilda’s club every year for the marathon and needed a running coach, so I obviously expressed interest and interviewed for the job. I can’t wait to finally make use of my RRCA certification and get some great experience – earning money obviously is helpful too, given that my two other positions are unpaid!

I will be coaching seven long runs and attending several meetings beginning in June. I will of course be doing my own training for the Chicago marathon, so I’ll need to make sure I remain available and committed to my runners without sacrificing the quality of my own runs. The solution I’ve come up with is to do my long runs the day before or day after the group runs (since I have the flexibility to choose the group long run days), and use group runs as recovery (since I don’t have to run more than 6M with them, unless I want to). I can also perhaps bike alongside my runners if I’m too tired to run (if I can borrow a bike). I’m sure I’ll also do a few longer runs with them too, but I’ll figure that out once I have a better sense of everyone’s pacing and what my own training schedule will be like. Should be fun! Also makes me feel better about not running NYC this year, as this way I still get to be involved.

Second, in this past week’s cooking class, I learned how to butcher a whole chicken. I realize that doesn’t sound all that exciting, but it was pretty cool. It will also help me save some money, as buying a whole chicken is far more economical. Obviously, I took photos (look away if you don’t like chicken).

 

I also had my first training with City Harvest on Friday – it was our own training on the Fruit Bowl program, so that we are prepared to begin training teachers next week. I will be working with two other volunteers to train about 500 teachers at 60 or 70 sites (preschools, after school programs etc) on the basics of healthy nutrition, the goals and objectives of Fruit Bowl (essentially, promoting healthy eating habits and regular physical activity to fight childhood obesity) and various activities they can use in their classrooms. The goal is to enhance participants’ knowledge about the Fruit Bowl program resources and prepare them to provide healthy snacks and nutrition education activities for the children they teach.

The training went very well – we essentially reviewed the entire presentation we will be giving and practiced leading nutrition activities. I was slightly nervous but I got positive feedback from my trainer, which gave me confidence. It’s a lot of information, and I have quite a lot of prep to do to familiarize myself with the materials, but it was fun, interesting and I really like the two other volunteers. I think we’ll make a great team! Our first site is a preschool up on West 155th street early Friday morning. It’s going to be a lot of work, given that we will be doing several site visits a week (and each will take up to 4.5 hours), but I think it will be worth it. Certainly my experience as a nutrition educator will help me develop skills that will prepare me for coaching this summer, and also for my career as an RD.

Lastly, I decided to enter the Brooklyn Half Marathon tomorrow, which is on May 19th. I really want to get another shot at improving my time, but after speaking with my PT on Wednesday, I decided that I need to focus on letting my hamstring heal 100% before getting back into structured training. She reminded me that running strong in Chicago is far more important to me than shaving a minute or two off my half time. My hamstring has been a bit sore after the race, but I’m hoping that with some low mileage weeks, lots of stretching and continued PT, I’ll bounce back soon. I’m tired of being in this weird gray area of injury – well enough to run but not well enough to push myself as much as I’d like – so I need to put in the time now to make sure I’m feeling great before my next training cycle begins in May.

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After two days of diligently working on my RRCA coaching certification exam, I finally bit the bullet and submitted my answers for the 100 multiple choice question test. You get one chance to pass it, and must receive an 80% or higher. If you don’t, you have to take the course all over again! Thankfully, you are allowed to use all the materials and work with other students who took the course, the latter of which was INCREDIBLY helpful. We got some really great discussions going – it was a tricky test, and I really learned a lot through our team work!

I was quite confident I would get above 80% after reviewing so many answers with the others, but I was only the second person in the class to take the exam, so my heart was pounding as I completed the questions and clicked “Grade and submit.” A split second later, this is what flashed on the screen (and was simultaneously sent to the course instructors and the RRCA coaching committee):

I of course let out a big scream of joy when I saw that – 97%?! YEAH! I had worked hard on the test so I really wanted to get as close to 100% as possible – and a 97% is close enough for me!

I have already completed my First Aid/CPR course, which is the last step to becoming a certified coach for many of the other students. I’m quite pleased I got this out of the way earlier on, particularly since I’m in crunch time for my grad school applications (or more specifically, just my NYU MS/DPD application). This means that all I have to do is pay my RRCA membership fee (which will put me on the roster of certified coaches on their site) and get myself some insurance, and then I’ll be ready to accept clients! Extremely exciting. I think I should be able to sleep very well tonight, having gotten this off my plate!

Stay tuned for a brand new, separate coaching website – I hope to have this up and running in the next month or so. And if anyone is looking for a coach in the meantime, email me at thefightandflightresponse@gmail.com!

Today I attended an all-day CPR/First Aid/AED course at the Santa Cruz chapter of American Red Cross. This is one of the components of RRCA’s coaching program, and I’m happy to say that I am now one step closer to becoming an official running coach. Three wallet-friendly certificates now live in my purse – hopefully I won’t need to use my new skills, but should I encounter someone in need, I am ready!

I’m also ready to run Portland – mostly because taper-induced nerves have suddenly started to kick in and I want to get it over with! I’m really excited to race, but now that Boston is out of the picture, I can’t help but put a bit more time pressure on myself, which wasn’t the original plan given my hip injury. The original plan was to see how I felt and just try to run a respectable race but not attempt anything insane. As a good friend pointed out, however, I am insane! Who am I kidding, thinking I’m going to go into a race and not try my best to beat my previous time?! I thrive on self-competition – I love to prove to myself that I can do better! And after a somewhat tough running year so far, I could really use a “win” in this area.

Part of the struggle is that Portland feels like a total wild card. Maybe I’ll have a great race – or maybe I’ll crash and burn – or perhaps I’ll just get a decent time but nothing spectacular. I have no idea! You never can truly predict what will happen on race day, but you can make some educated guesses based on your performance in various training races and the overall success of your training cycle. I don’t have any longer races to look back on – just a couple 10ks which were more about building back miles after my injury rather than testing my marathon pace and planning my race strategy. If you compare Portland to NYC, the course is relatively flat and I’m a couple pounds lighter, which obviously both act in my favor. However, I didn’t put in as many quality sessions or miles and thus my confidence is slightly shaky in terms of how long I can maintain an ambitious race pace, if I decide to go for it – either at the sub-3:35 or 3:39 level.

Furthermore, I can’t discount the possibility that I will feel mentally drained from my intensive Friday and Saturday 8am – 5pm RRCA course. It might be a bit overwhelming and confusing to receive so much information, some of which may contradict what I currently practice in my own running, right before running a big race. Or will I feel jazzed up and even more excited to get out there, armed with knowledge and a new certification under my belt? Will I be able to control my diet as strictly as I did in NYC last year, without having access to a kitchen (or microwave or fridge) during the day? My greatest paranoia, from my Paris experience, is having GI issues again. Will not having my parents’ incredible support throughout the race (they saw me five times in Paris and three times in NYC) or other friends cheering me on along the course make a difference? These and so many other factors (weather, sleep etc) beyond my training may affect my performance in Portland, which makes it even more necessary to play things by ear.

The good news is that I have seven days left to mull over my race strategy and decide what feels right on marathon eve. In many ways, I really believe that despite some huge gaps in my training, I can pull off a PB and run a sub-3:39. I would be happy with that – any improvement on my time would be awesome. And then I have my occasional crazy moment and think I should just go for sub-3:35 and see what happens – although I realize that’s a huge gamble. My strategy never is to start out faster than I’ve trained to do, but rather slightly under goal pace and bump it up gradually, cranking it out in the last few miles. In this case, I did practice running 8:11 min/mile a few times just to see what running the new BQ time felt like, and it felt pretty comfortable yesterday in my six miler. However, I can’t confidently say to myself (right now, at least) that I could continue that pace for 20 additional miles….

Then again, when you’re really determined to do something and you convince yourself that you CAN do it, it’s amazing what you’re able to accomplish. Mental strength is key – it’s the only way I was able to finish NYC as strongly as I did, with the last few miles paced in the 7:50’s. My legs said NO WAY but my mind said YES YOU WILL, because I knew if I didn’t crank it up a notch, I wouldn’t reach my goal and I had worked too hard to let it slip away.

So whatever I ultimately decide to set as my goal, I just need to have faith that I can achieve it. There’s nothing else I can do at this stage, other than rest sufficiently and eat wisely. And when my nerves and negative thoughts inevitably start piping up about having only run 18 miles in training, I will just repeat my mantra:

I will do this. I can do this. Because I have done this.

After nearly four years in London, I have quit my job and will be moving back to the US on August 30th to spend time with my family and pursue a new career!!

Wow. That felt good to announce!

If you’ve already read my updated About Claire page, or have noticed my suddenly US-centric travel and race plans, then my news probably hasn’t come as a surprise.

I’ve wanted to change careers (or, from my perspective, finally start my career) for several years, but was never quite sure what I wanted to do. As a result, my priorities up until now have focused predominantly on life experience (travel, relationships, where I am living more than what I am doing) rather than pursuing a career that is more in line with my interests.

Just to give some background – after college, I fell into a corporate job in New York City, which I eventually quit to travel in South America, which inspired me to move to London (and travel as much as possible), where I ended up in another corporate job in the same industry, since that was my best shot at receiving a sponsored visa. Although not the right fit for me in the long term, my current BD & Marketing job has been a positive experience, and has provided me with skills that will prove useful down the line. I have also grown to love London, very much in fact. I look at my one-way ticket back to California and am happy to go HOME, but also extremely sad to leave what now feels like home.

I’m slightly nervous about starting a new career at this stage of my life, but I certainly don’t regret anything I’ve done. Every single thing that has happened since graduation has led me to where I am now – including my love of running. I’m not sure if I would have become such a keen distance runner had I not moved to London, met my running buddy (who encouraged me to enter my first half marathon), discovered my coach etc! And had I not entered my first marathon and become completely running obsessed, I probably wouldn’t have met E, either. Everything happens for a reason – I truly do believe that and am grateful for all of my past experiences, good and bad, which have each carried me to this moment.

In fact, my renewed passion for running (and healthy living, generally) ultimately helped inspire my career choice. I have decided to become a Registered Dietitian (RD), and a running coach on the side. I’ve always had an interest in nutrition and other issues relating to health, fitness and food (and as a side note, I also happen to be the only non-doctor in my family), so I am very excited to begin my new career path. I think it will suit me well.

As you know, I’ve already registered for RRCA’s coaching certification course (along with the Portland marathon) in early October, so those wheels are already in motion. I should be fully certified by the end of October and ready to take on coaching clients!

In terms of RD programs, this is where my plans are still fuzzy. Ideally, I would have applied to schools and resigned after having been accepted somewhere, but it’s not quite happening that way. I decided I was going to take the plunge after the fall/winter deadlines had already passed for September 2011 start dates, and I didn’t want to stay in my job past August. I’ve long outgrown my role and desperately need to get out and regroup before moving forward. Also, my older sister is having a baby, and it’s important to me that I spend an extended amount of time with my niece and the rest of my family after six years of living/traveling abroad. So, I decided it was time to go, even without a clear plan in place.

I’m very much into plans, so handing in my letter of resignation yesterday was both exhilarating and terrifying! Since I did my Bachelors in Humanities and my Masters in Music, I have very little science background, which means I have lots of catching up to do before I can enroll in many nutrition programs. And then depending on which school I choose (I’m considering schools in NY and CA), I won’t actually start my program until January or, more likely, September 2012! Applications for 2012 are due in October/November and I haven’t started them yet…

I have so much to do in the coming months (moving countries, school applications, marathon training, and so on), it’s making my head spin! But I’m taking things one step at a time so that I don’t get too overwhelmed, while also making sure that I savor my last moments in London as well as my first moments as an aunt. Everything will fall into place eventually – I know I’m making the right move and am confident in my decision, even if it feels somewhat bittersweet.

Did I seriously just register myself for the Portland marathon on October 9th? And put my predicted time down as 3:35 (otherwise known as the new BQ time)?!

Yup – apparently I did. So much for my marathon hiatus…Then again, it will have been nearly a year since NYC, so that’s a pretty solid break!

It was very early this morning and I couldn’t sleep, so I turned on my computer and received the following information: there will be no more RRCA certification courses in 2011 (I had emailed the head of coaching at RRCA) and thus Portland is my best shot unless I want to wait until 2012; my cousins are coincidentally moving to Portland next week, so I now have family in Portland; and, someone I went to high school with will be running so I also know another marathon participant!

After coming up against so many obstacles in my various coaching and nutrition course searches, I finally felt like things were lining up. I’ve never been to Portland (but have always wanted to go), didn’t know anyone there (and now I do), wanted to do a coaching course around that time and also wanted to do a marathon in 2011. I couldn’t help but think that it would be foolish not to sign up for the course, and if I did the course it would be foolish NOT to do the marathon too. (Okay, that last part – a bit crazy – but kind of makes sense, no?)

Within the hour, I was suddenly registered for both a coaching course and a fall marathon! BOOM!

As for the 3:35 predicted time – that’s my next lofty marathon goal, as I have a feeling 3:39 will be too slow to get me into Boston 2012 this September. (I will know for sure on September 19th – fingers crossed!) I am certain that I have a 3:35 in my running future (perhaps even 3:30 in good conditions) if I put in the work, but I’m pretty sure I won’t have enough time to make it happen in Portland. Things like being a new Aunt, turning 30, sorting out my future etc are much higher on my list of priorities. But I figured, what the hell, may as well put it down anyway!

I’m self aware enough to know I’m far too competitive to let myself perform below my best, unless I specifically announce that I’m doing it on purpose (and even then it’s still hard to accept my sub-par time)! So it’s only natural that with this new opportunity coming up, I would want to improve my time. My recent laid-back races have been refreshing and fun, but I am starting to miss being in prime racing shape and going after a big goal. And reaching it. Best feeling ever. Highly addictive.

However, I’m trying my best to be realistic and accept that I can’t do everything I want to do at 100% effort all the time, as much as I often try. For instance, it dawned on me that my heaviest training week would line up exactly with the week leading up to my 30th birthday. I am swearing to myself that I will not let training interfere with my (most likely two-week long) festivities – my time may suffer as a result, but I only turn 30 once! Also, a couple weeks before that, I will be spending time with my sister and newborn niece – I’ll fit in as much training as I can, as I would normally do even without Portland in the calendar, but again, not the most important thing going on, obviously! At least I’ll have three weeks of tapering right after my birthday, so that should be doable.

I’m not sure how this training cycle will go, but I’m excited. This will be a valuable exercise in trying to attain some much-needed balance in my life as well as a great excuse to bump up my running fitness a few notches. I’m just going to keep reminding myself that if I don’t push myself as hard as possible for once, it won’t be the end of the world. Maybe if I say that enough times I will actually begin to believe it. 🙂

I’m a bit sad that E won’t be able to join me, and that Team Claire (my parents) won’t be able to come either, but that’s fine. I’ve had enough race experience to know the drill! Hopefully I’ll meet some interesting people in the course, in addition to connecting with my cousins and my high school friend, so that I can have some familiar faces around me after the race, at the very least. I would hate to run a marathon entirely on my own, without anyone to celebrate with/collapse on afterwards!

It’s now 9:30am on a Sunday – if you’re a fellow distance runner, then you know what that means – time for a long run! This will be my first official training run for Portland, so I guess it’s only fitting that it’s raining outside…

Happy Saturday everyone!

Given how little time I’ve had lately to do things like, say, nutrition course homework (currently am two weeks behind), Spring cleaning (better one season too late than never), and a whole bunch of other stuff on my to-do list that I’ve been putting off for ages, I was forced to cancel other plans and finally get it all done today.

I haven’t been quite as productive as I had hoped, but I’ve definitely made some progress:

*I read one chapter in my textbook, all about Fats. Interesting stuff. I now know, for instance, why chocolate melts in your mouth and not in your hand. Crucial information, clearly. Only four more chapters to go…

*I did a 7.5M/60-minute fartlek run in the sunshine – not quite the tempo run I had planned on the treadmill (couldn’t face the gym), but still a relatively challenging run.

*I FINALLY registered for the Reykjavik Half Marathon on August 20th with E, and we also booked flights, so it’s official – I’ll be in Iceland for four days this August! Well, if the volcanoes behave, that is – fingers crossed!! We were very close to entering the full marathon, but then decided we would prefer to do some sort of day-long snow mobile/glacier trekking adventure the day after the race, which obviously requires the ability to walk! This is a big item off my list, since we have been talking about doing this race for over a year now – E ran the half two years ago and loved it, and I’ve always wanted to go to Iceland and can’t imagine going from anywhere other than London, since it’s so close. Even still, it will be an expensive trip, but hopefully staying in a hostel and flying at odd times will offset the total cost. I think it will be worth it!

*I also finally booked a flight to California at the end of August to spend some extended time with family, meet my niece and (gasp) turn the big 3-0. Very excited (well, not so much for the latter…)!

*And as an extension of the above, I just received an email from the RRCA yesterday that they have added new coaching certification courses to their September/October calendar. Sadly, there is no California course, and the date of the one in NYC (which would be an ideal location, since I am overdue for an East Coast visit) is too early for me to attend. However, there is a course from October 7-8 in Portland, OR which could be doable. It’s not too far from CA, I’ve never been there (but have heard great things – Nike HQ is near there too!) AND I could even sign up for the Portland Marathon on October 9th. I’m still not sure if I’m up for more marathon training just yet, but I’m already logging about 30M per week, so I could easily increase my mileage later in the summer and do the bare minimum to simply enjoy the race. Looks like the entries are filling up fast, so I’ll have to decide soon if I’m up for either/both.

Has anyone run the Portland marathon before and/or is planning to run it this year? I’m sure if I did the RRCA course beforehand, which would take up most of my time and presumably introduce me to some interesting new people, I’d be fine going to Portland by myself, but it would be nice to have some company (particularly for after the race). So if I do it, I’ll most likely try to recruit one of my parents and/or some friends.

Either way, E and I are considering some marathons in later November/December that could be fun. I would hate to let all of 2010 go by without at least one big race!

Anyway, that’s my update for now. Back to the books as well as the disastrous state of my room!

I’ve been toying with the idea of becoming a certified running coach ever since I started marathon training with my own coach, Sam Murphy, in 2009, and in particular, since I created this blog in December 2010. Usually, I’m not the type of person who signs up for personal training or coaching, primarily because it’s quite expensive and I can’t justify the cost. I love to run/exercise, I work hard and I devour running/general fitness articles, so it’s not like I need the motivation!

However, training for my first marathon was daunting, and although I’m sure I would have performed well had I simply trained and researched on my own, I wanted to make sure that I pushed myself as hard as possible without injuring myself. As many of you know, that’s a fine line!

Sam gave me the specific knowledge, structured training and support that really helped me reach my goals. Having someone there for me throughout the ups and downs of my training, armed with incredibly useful, tailored advice, was crucial to my success and in my opinion, worth every penny. So I guess it’s not that surprising that I would want to learn more and help other runners, after having had such a positive coaching experience of my own!

As some of my running buddies can tell you, I already act as an informal coach of sorts – dispensing various information when relevant, and often taking the lead as motivator in a more structured run. It would be wonderful to deepen my running knowledge not only to benefit my own training, but also to allow me to formally coach other runners safely and with greater confidence. Additionally, a coaching certification program would, of course, fit in VERY nicely with my current nutrition course!

Over the last week, I finally started to research how I could become a full-fledged running coach – both in the UK and the US, as it’s best to explore both options!

In the UK, United Kingdom Athletics offer a wide variety of coaching qualifications, including a Leadership in Running Fitness Award, which would qualify me as a UK Athletics level 1 coach. This course serves as a prerequisite for the level 2 Coach in Running Fitness Award, which is the qualification my coach holds and that I would like to achieve. Unfortunately, the timing isn’t ideal – the next LiRF course is in June, but there’s a possibility it may be cancelled due to a lack of interest and there isn’t another one that I can attend for awhile. Even if it isn’t cancelled, I must wait three months after completing it until I can enroll in the CiRF course, but there isn’t one currently scheduled anywhere close to London later in the year. I was told, however, that additional courses may be added, so I will keep checking the website.

Also, although the CiRF course is technically only three days, there is a period of several months in between the second and third day so that you can apply what you’ve learned before taking the final exam. This makes perfect sense, but that takes me to early 2012 if I’m lucky, and who knows where I’ll be then! Slightly more complicated than I had originally hoped, and I am kicking myself for not having looked into this sooner, but I obviously can’t let this discourage me.

Lastly, I need to consider the consequences, if any, of becoming qualified in the UK and ultimately coaching in the US. I suppose it would make more sense to study in the US if that is where I will eventually settle, but I’m not sure if it really matters with something like this. What do you think?

The Road Runners Club of America seems to be the UK Athletics equivalent in the US, and the best resource for a running coach qualification. Unfortunately, there aren’t many courses currently scheduled that have availability, and the only one that does is in Minnesota! No thanks. Apparently I can host a course in my area (I’ll be in CA in September, so that would be ideal), so I might look into that. I am a master organizer, after all! Anyone in the San Francisco or Los Angeles area interested in becoming a RRCA qualified running coach?! Otherwise, I’ve signed up to receive further information for additional courses that open up…fingers crossed!

So, I guess for the time being it seems that I cannot begin my coaching training as soon as I had hoped, but at least I have started the research process. I could perhaps just take the LiRF to jump start my training and leave me with the basics of coaching groups and in particular, beginner runners, and see where that leads me. I think I’ll sleep on it…

If anyone has any advice on this topic or anything else to add, please let me know!

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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