I ran a marathon! (Long Recap)

GUYS. I DID IT!! I ran the New York City Marathon!!!

If you’ve read my blog through the years, you know I’ve dealt with running related injury for the past 8 years. Knee surgery, chronic ITBS, strained hamstrings, tight hip flexors, sprained arches, Patellofemoral syndrome–you name it. I’ve been in and out of physical therapy and doctor’s offices countless times. There were moments when I worried that I might never be able to run more than a few miles at a time, let alone 26.2.

But I did it. And I didn’t get injured or die even though it felt like it at times. Here’s my recap of the race:

After some heavy carboloading (bagels, pasta, pizza throughout the day), I went to bed around 9 pm on Saturday night to be up for 4:15 the following day. I wasn’t feeling particularly anxious but I still didn’t get a very good sleep that night. Thank God for Daylight Savings giving me an extra hour.

We left Long Island at 4:45 and headed towards Manhattan. I chose the 6:30am Midtown bus as my transportation to the starting line. I was worried we were leaving too early but when I got to the pickup spot I couldn’t believe how many people were there and already in line.

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After being loaded on to the buses we made our way to the starter village on Staten Island.  I ate the chocolate chip muffin I brought with me and took a short nap. We got there around 7:30 and I was in the village by 8am.

I wasn’t scheduled to start until the last wave, around 11am so I had some time to kill. I grabbed some coffee, food and water and got in line for the bathrooms while I was waiting.

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When it was finally time for me to start, I shed my extra sweatshirt and sweatpants (to combat the early morning cold) and ate a pre-race guu. There was music blasting and all the volunteers/police were lining the start, cheering us on.

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Crossing the Verrazano Bridge was amazing. We had a clear, bright day and a spectacular view of the city. It was also cool because the Verrazano is closed to pedestrian access regularly so there really isn’t any other way I’d be able to cross is by foot.

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The bridge let us off in to Brooklyn, where there were crowds, music and camaraderie everywhere. I made sure to start my mid race fueling early. I brought a combinations of beans, gels, and chews with me and tried to take some every 12-15 minutes. Aid stations began at Mile 3 and I alternated between Gatorade and water at each one, skipping about 3 throughout the race.

For the first 9 miles, I felt stronger than I ever had before. I was worried I would make the same mistake as many other runners in heading out too strong/fast and burning out in the second half so I made sure to check my pace regularly and keep it at a conversational level.

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I had read that the crowds in Brooklyn tend to peter out and it can be a difficult stretch afterwards but I found there were pretty much crowds along the entire length of the course, except for bridges.

Miles 11-16 were where I hit my wall. My pace slowed by about 2-3 minutes per mile and I was feeling overwhelmed by the mileage ahead of me. I started taking walk breaks at each aid station but ran for the majority of the time until I reached the Queensboro bridge, around Mile 15.

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Great view, tough bridge.

It was definitely the most difficult bridge in my opinion and I, along with many people around me, walked  almost the entire incline. With 11ish miles left, I didn’t want to waste too much effort on it so I did my best to keep up a steady speed walk and ran the downhill.

Around Mile 17 my body was really starting to ache but I was buoyed by the closeness of Mile 20 and resigned myself to keeping a steady gait. There was also a pace team close behind me, which encouraged me to stay ahead of them. It was around this point that I became repulsed by the gels/chews I brought with me and had to force myself to keep consuming them.

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Mid marathon texts

Seeing the Mile 20 marker was euphoric and exhausting all in one, but I did pick up my pace until Mile 24, which, by the way, is pretty much a giant hill along Central Park. 23-26 was hillier than I expected and I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t start crying a little when I entered Central Park right before 25.

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Pushing through the final stretch

Once in the park, it was like a giant party full of people, music, lights, and nearby attractions. 25 to 26.2 felt like the longest running stretch of my life but I refused to stop running until I reached the finish line.

I was emotional, exhausted, and so excited to cross the finish. When the volunteer placed the medal around my neck, I was full on sobbing, haha.

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I grabbed my recovery bag, took a finish photo, and headed on a 15-20 minute hobble to the early exit/poncho pick up. I exited the course and met Chris nearby at the corner of Columbus and W 81st.

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Overall I can say that the experience was amazing, not what I expected, and not anything like my training. I honestly think I’ve never run a stronger 10 mile stretch than my run through Brooklyn and I’ve never had a more difficult time on miles 11-16 despite having covered that distance a number of times on long runs.

Another notable difference I found interesting was that while my cardiovascular ability felts strong throughout the whole race, my lower body hurt significantly, whereas in training it has always been the opposite. I never felt more than foot pain in my long runs.

Although I swore off running for the two post-race days during which I couldn’t walk properly, I’m already feeling antsy to get another goal/race set in the future. I’m giving myself a solid week before I start running again but I did do an easy half mile on the treadmill yesterday, just to make sure I still know how 🙂

In my next post I’ll talk about how I’m recovering and returning to normal life (so much free time!)

Happy Saturday x

 

 

 

 

AM vs PM Runs

Good afternoon lovies!

I’m enjoying a day off today and trying to decide when I should do the long run I’m scheduled for today.

There’s always a little voice in the back of my head telling me to just do it NOW. Whatever it is I’m thinking of, do it now and get it over with. It works for most things, but running is usually different.

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As many runners know, there are things to consider in choosing when to do a long run. Factors like fueling, safety, temperature and just fitting it in to the rest of your day are all important.

Personally, I prefer to run around dusk in the *summer* for a number of reasons. The sun has almost gone down and by then the temperature is dropping. It’s not too late so there are people around who will notice if you get kidnapped (seriously one of my biggest concerns running in the city). And in general, I find fueling easier because I’ve already been eating all day so I don’t need much to keep me going.

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Plus, Boston’s a beaut at night.

I do still worry about what time I start running because if the run is a few hours long, it gets dark and the usual safety issues return but if I start early enough, I can finish by the time people are going home after their happy hour drinks.

Sometimes though, it’s a struggle to hit the streets after I finally get home from work and relax. I know what you’re thinking – the obvious answer would be to start working out in the morning, before work.

I have tried time and time again to be a morning work out person and I always go back to my evening workouts. It’s not that I’m “not a morning person” or that I can’t get myself out of bed. I love being up early. The quiet morning before everyone is awake, is my favorite time of the day. However for me, it’s a time for peaceful reflection. I like to sit in the early sunlight with a cup of coffee and think about the rest of my day.

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On the occasions that I have pushed myself to work out in the morning, I forced down a quick breakfast (I can’t workout on an empty stomach and I’m never hungry when I first wake up,) and struggled, sleepily, to get pumped up for the work ahead of me.

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I like to start my day with fruit but when I have a workout following breakfast, I have to make sure to include heavier carbs. This is the breakfast I’ve been having lately – oats with maple syrup, chia seeds, cinnamon, dried coconut and fruit.

Although it felt awesome to get my workout out of the way in the morning and gave me a great energy boost for the rest of the day, I’ve found that I work harder and push myself further when I’ve been awake for a few hours before my work out. Maybe someday I’ll be an AM exerciser but for now, I’m sticking to my night runs.

When do you guys prefer to work out?

 

Running & Not Running

Running is hard. Returning to running is really hard. That’s why I’m not doing it.

Not yet at least.

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I’ve trained for three different marathons in the past two years or so and injury has kept me from the finish line each time. I know what you’re thinking–I need to give up running. Every time the subject comes up, Chris tells me to get competitive with cycling or swimming or to try a triathalon. Finishing a marathon really isn’t worth running my legs into permanent knee damage, he says.

And he’s not wrong. But I don’t love anything like I love running. So here I am,taking a break from running with the hopes that someday I’ll be able finally finish that race.

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In the past I never really dedicated my time and energy to specifically strengthening my legs for running. I’d spend a few sessions doing leg lifts and ball squats and impatiently wait until my IT band stopped aching enough for me to bang out a few miles. Not a great  plan, I know.

However, lately I’ve been trying out the Bikini Body Guide by Kayla Itsines to push me out of my comfort zone and hopefully get my body to a place where it’s strong enough to run.

At first glance, I honestly thought it was going to be a piece of cake but let me tell you, I have never been more sore after a work out than after these. In fact, there’s not a time when I’ve done one of these work outs and I wasn’t sore afterwards. Despite this, I can definitely notice an improvement. I feel stronger. And it feels good.

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I love these stickers that came in my January Birchbox.

In the past working out was always about losing weight for me but I’m finally in a place where I’m happy with how I look. Now, I want to challenge myself to be stronger and healthier – and do so in a way that’s sustainable. It’s exciting and honestly a little nerve wracking to change focus but I’ve got some serious goals for this year. I can’t wait to see where this takes me.

chelsea

 

Vacation Recap Pt. 2

The day following our visit to Tarpon Springs, my grandmother wanted to go to Disney. Although it’s obviously for kids, it’s become a bit of a tradition to go when we visit.

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I think I’ve written about Disney before so I won’t go into too much detail but we visited Animal Kingdom (my personal favorite) and Hollywood Studios before calling it an early day.

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My family’s nick name for me is Tashy so we had to take a picure when we found this sign.

When I got home I banged out a brief run and some light strength training. On one hand, I could definitely feel the regression in cardiovascular capabilities but on the other hand, it felt good to easily get back into conditioning after having skipped a few work outs.

Run: 15 minutes
Strength:
30 sit ups
2×30 leg lifts

30 reverse crunches
30 squats
30 leg lowers
30 bridges
30 sit ups w/ a twist

I ended with some light stretching and a dip in the pool.

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The next day, the weather was expected to be in the mid 80s so we made our way to the Gulf again, this time to Clearwater Beach.

I was really excited because I’ve been wanting to visit Clearwater for a while. It was voted the number one beach in the U.S., which is a pretty hefty title when you consider all the beaches there are in America

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It certainly was a beautiful beach. The sand was white and the softest I had ever felt in my life. It was so fine that it was hard to wipe off my clothes.

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We laid on the beach for a while before my grandmother and I went to walk around a bit and do some shopping. The main road was lined with adorable little surf shops and restaurants, plus tons of attractions like parasailing and booze cruise tours.

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This blow up obstacle course looked so fun!

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In one of the shops I found a man doing henna so I got some done.

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Still drying in this picture.

Shortly afterwards we had a late lunch at a place called Crabby Bill’s. They had the best Bloody Marys that I’ve ever tried. The salt and pepper rim was amazing.

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Full of food and all sunned out, we headed home. Our day in Clearwater was my favorite of the trip.

chelsea

 

Back to Basics

Okay, maybe I’m crazy here, and Chris does tell me I’m an old person on the inside, but I am so relieved to have graduation weekend over. As much as I loved seeing my family and going to dinners and celebrating, at the end of the day, it was totally exhausting/overwhelming. I kept finding myself just wanting to go to the gym and get some grocery shopping done. … See? I’m an elderly woman.

Had dinner in the North End yesterday and stopped by Modern Pastry to pick up some sweets. Chris and I have been craving Key Lime pie since we visited Key West in March
Had dinner in the North End yesterday and stopped by Modern Pastry to pick up some sweets. Chris and I have been craving Key Lime pie since we visited Key West in March

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I finally got a chance to head over to this little local produce place near me and pick up some fruits and veggies. It’s a tiny, cash only store but they source local farms and the owner is this darling old man who always picks up a conversation with his customers. On top of that, it’s super cheap. I walked away from there with three big grocery bags for less than 20 bucks.

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I was happy to have the ingredients and time to get back in the kitchen and whip something up. I roasted some carrots and brussel sprouts in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and made corn on the cob. It tasted incredible after all the junk I’ve been eating. My energy levels have been really out of whack and I think my lack of nutrition was a huge factor.

IMG_3068Now, I’m headed to see a movie with a friend downtown. Thank god it’s summer.

Back at it

There are few things that bring me quite as much pleasure as sitting in bed on a lazy, rainy Saturday morning with a cuppa joe. Of course, this is far from a “lazy” morning, I’ve actually been insanely busy with work and finals season but I am happy to say there’s only about a week left of it, and then I’ll be free.

I’ve found that when I’m busy, I really enjoy cooking. I think it’s my way of taking a breather from work without feeling guilt about being neglectful. Is that crazy? I mean, I need to eat, so.. Anyway, Thanksgiving really took a hit to my healthy eating efforts, but I’m not too worried about it. If anything, it’s inspired me more to seek out vegan options because I felt like such garbage after the holiday.  So here’s what I’ve been up to lately:

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I’ve decided to return to marathon training. I think my legs have developed enough strength to withstand the work, and I’m going to be diligent in my cross training and rest. I’ve always found that funny you know, training to RUN a marathon and yet the difficult part for so many is learning how to take it easy. But I’m going to take it nice and slow. I’m aiming to run a marathon the week I graduate. My goal has always been to get it done in college.

Picture 1. is a bit old, but it was the most lovely leaves display I saw when heading out for a run a few weeks ago. Boston had a beautiful fall this year. And it’s my favorite weather to train in.

2: Me reading Runner’s World to motivate me to get out of bed and work out. I don’t have much down time but I’ve tried to make an effort to begin and end my day with a bit of reading instead of electronics. I found a great deal on an RW subscription and the articles always inspire me to push myself. So I’m counting reading as part of training. That can count, right?

3: Last night my first attempt at vegan mushroom bourguignonne! It was a success! I had to make due with the ingredients I had so I didn’t quite follow the recipe word by word but I’m satisfied with the result. I paired it with some roasted winter veggies, brown rice, and of course, toasted baguette. Next time I make it, which will probably be soon, I’ll make sure to post the recipe and steps on here. It was a really great seasonal dish.

I’ve been working on a project that has really encouraged me to expand my culinary knowledge and be open to using different ingredients. It’s almost done… I can’t wait to tell you guys about it.

But, like I said, it’s not really a lazy Saturday for me, time to head to the gym! I’ve got upper body today. Any of you guys know some good lower back exercises?

Have a good weekend! xx

Chelsea vs. Mountain

Yesterday I climbed a mountain.

I actually am surprised as I write this that my fingers are fully functioning and not as sore and tired as every other fiber of my body is.

I am proud to report, however, that it was the first mountain I ever summitted and despite the sorry state of my muscles, it was a thrilling experience. And it was especially satisfying because Chris and I had tried this trail previously and didn’t even make it a quarter of the way through. (That was a snowy, injurious trip to say the least.)

But that’s not to say it was an easy go this time. No, certainly not.

We woke up at 4:30 yesterday morning and we were on the road by 5:30 a.m. The ride to Franconia Notch (White Mountains in NH, where we hiked,) is about 2-2.5 hours from Boston but there was little traffic at the time (only crazies are up before sunrise on a Saturday,) so we started on the trail around 7:45.

It was grueling.

But worth it.

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We originally thought that our loop was only hitting 2 peaks, but we actually made it to three before descending. It was freezing up there but the view was amazing. By the time we got to the third peak, a cloud had engulfed it and it reminded me of being on a ship  in the middle of the ocean. It was just gray in every direction.

Coolest view of the cloud coming in from the ridge.
Coolest view of the cloud coming in from the ridge.

We did get to see a flag raising though. Trumpet and all.

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We had the misfortune of taking the wrong trail back down, however, and ended up in the middle of a rain storm, three miles from where the car was parked. Let me tell you, I’ve never been so tired in my life.

A view of the progressing cloud on our way down
A view of the progressing cloud on our way down
Chris and I, finally back in the car after 10ish hours of hiking. I look like Voldemort and he is a death eater hahaha
Chris and I, finally back in the car after 10ish hours of hiking. I look like Voldemort and he is a death eater hahaha

Despite what mishaps we may have encountered, I’m psyched we did it. Now on to the next! Kidding, so kidding. I can barely walk down stairs right now. I’m really diggin’ sea level stuff. Like sitting and beds and naps. But I’ll get back out (up?) there eventually. Let me stop wishing I had a walker to help me get around first.