Post Marathon Recovery and Return

In the final weeks leading up to my race I spent less excitement on running my first marathon and more on the anticipated freedom from training. So much time for activities!

More than just the time training takes, it requires a lot of time thinking about training- planning when to run, when to eat, what to eat, how much recovery is needed, how early before work do I need to finish eating and showering to get there on time, etc.— it’s a lot.

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But, with everything being said and done, I found myself antsy to get back on the road a few days after my race. My head suddenly filled up with a mixture of starry-eyed thoughts about cool races to get under my belt and a creeping fear that I’d lose all my fitness and quickly turn into a useless slug if I didn’t immediately resume my 40 mile weeks. You can tell I’m a bit of a worrier.

However, I was relieved to hear I’m not the only one with these kinds of thoughts. They’ve even got a name for it!—PMS: Post Marathon Syndrome, ha. Although I haven’t been suffering one of the most common afflictions – regret about my performance (it was a PR, after all 😉 ) I do find myself imagining how much better I might be able to run my next race.

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So where does that leave me? My legs might be able to run a marathon but they’re not invincible — I’m still injury prone and probably tied to hip strengthening exercises for the rest of my life. Right now my focus is getting back to strength training (I missed it in those taper weeks!) and keeping my cardio between cycling and easy runs. I did find this  post marathon training plan by Runners World, which looks like a good start to getting back on track for a Spring race.

But maybe I’ll just do a half marathon this time around.

x

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

 

 

 

 

Training, Nutrition & Tips for Healthy Eating

Temperatures are dropping, coats are coming out and Fall is finally here! Call me cliche if you must but autumn is my favorite season and October is my favorite month of the year.

One of the best things about October is the beautiful and *perfect* running weather. Sunny skies, cool breezes and leaves littering the trails makes getting myself off the couch and out for a run so much easier than in sweltering summer heat.

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Ok, I won’t totally give up sunset runs.

Another thing I love about fall (& the change of seasons in general) is the new produce available / the ability to use my oven. I love looking up recipes that use pomegranates, Brussels sprouts and all sorts of squashes.

With my race just a little more than a month away (it makes my stomach flip just writing that,) cooking and finding inspiration in new recipes is more important than ever. I’ll be honest, I haven’t been the most diligent this summer in making sure I was properly fueling my training. I regretfully admit that many times I used running as an excuse to eat like a garbage truck.

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I know that life works for some people – but I’m not one of them. Although I haven’t noticed any weight gain or dramatic consequences, I can definitely say poor nutrition has negatively affected my training. The biggest thing has to be energy levels. Training for a marathon can be draining on its own. Rest, as much as exercise, is crucial to getting through it. However, it has become very clear to me that eating the right stuff and eating enough of it is really important too.

On the days when I didn’t have enough fruits, veggies, and water, I came home from work starving and exhausted. In that state of being, I usually didn’t have the energy or appetite to whip together something healthy so I perpetuated the cycle of poor eating. It was only when I stayed healthy throughout the day that I found myself mentally and physically prepared for a strong run.

So how do I stay healthy? Let’s be real – it’s hard. So many people, myself included, struggle with healthy eating on a regular day to day basis. Layer heavy exercise on top of that, and you find yourself hungry all the time if you’re not dedicated to providing your body the correct nutrients.

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  1. One good thing I find with healthy eating is that I do actually crave junk food less if I eat healthy meals so it might just take an initial strong push to pull you out of a crappy cycle. Alternatively, sometimes when I find myself in a rut I try to make at least one meal a day really healthy. Usually that one meal makes it easier to make healthy choices at the next meal, and so on.
  2. Another way I stay healthy is by looking up recipes and meals on Pinterest/Youtube. I follow a number of people who inspire me and I watch their “what I eat in a day” videos to get a look at realistic meal plans. As much as I love a good food blog, I have a hard time believing that bloggers have carefully crafted, beautiful meals every time they sit down to eat. And I don’t have the time for that anyway.
  3. Although I could be better about this, it definitely helps to plan out meals on some level. I’ve never been one to mass produce food and separate it into color coded Tupperware (I do love those photos though.) However, picking a recipe or two and making enough to last me a few days does save me time and effort.
  4. Keep healthy food in the house. Whenever I go to the grocery store I make sure to keep my apartment stocked with a number of items I consider essential. I do my best to keep 2-3 kinds of fruit (enough to last me 3-5 days,) 2-3 different vegetables (kinds that I know I like and could easily throw into a recipe,) and basic items to glue recipes together – rice, pasta sauce, peanut butter, nondairy milk, etc. This helps the most on days when I don’t have anything planned and can throw together something simple and mostly healthy, like pasta and roasted veggies. 

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    Lunch today: a heaping plate of roasted veggies + lemony vegan alfredo
  5. Keep junk food in the house. –Okay, I know this seems like a contradiction and if you’re the type of person who swears by “out of sight out of mind” then keep doing what you’re doing. But if you’re like me and will go out and buy junk food when it pops into your head, this might be helpful to you. I usually keep one junk food item at a time in my house — for me it’s sweets. Sometimes it’s a bar of chocolate in the freezer or a package of cookies in the cupboard. That way, when I’m craving sweets I can satisfy that craving with a cookie or two without going out and demolishing a bag of mini donuts. It keeps me in check before I get out of hand.

I hope these help you & I’d love to hear how you guys stay healthy during training, or in general!

chelsea

 

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?

 

Night out in Boston

Long run today. And by long I mean longer than I’ve been running for the past few weeks. Right now before my official training plan starts I’m just trying to really build my strength more than anything because I will be devastated if I get injured again while training for this race.

So today, I’m just going to take it nice and slow and listen to my body. It’s cooler today luckily– sunny and 65– which is perfect.

Last night Chris and I walked around Boston after the heat broke and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. Chris, who’s from New York, made the point that Boston is so quiet. You can hear a plane flying by when you’re in the middle of a busy Newbury Street. Yesterday was one of those days when the charm of Boston really came through. I don’t know how else to explain it except that it was lovely.

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After walking around for a bit we stopped in the Back Bay and tried out a restaurant called The Salty Pig. It wasn’t vegan, as you can imagine from the name of the place but they did have some of the best pizza I’ve ever encountered. If you’re in the area and can handle a little heat, the Piccante pizza–salami, broccoli rabe, cherry peppers, and provolone, is incredible.

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Last night was just perfect. And I’ve been pretty stressed lately so it was a great way to unwind. It was the kind of night when you just feel like.. everything is okay. I might not have it all figured out right now, and that’s scary, but there are still so many things to be grateful for. It’s really not all bad, you know? My hippie, earthy crunchy love and peace signs side is showing, hahah.

Anyhow, I should get to my run. Have a wonderful day guys xx

Bare Necessities

Finals have finally ended and I feel anew!

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1: Sometimes for my runs I like to run the full length straight along the length of a subway line, and then take it back home. There’s just something about running back along the same route that’s never totally appealed to me.

2: Someone I follow on Instagram posted this and it’s been my motivation these past few weeks. Health and fitness for me is all about finding what works, over and over again.

Getting through these past few weeks of school has felt like a marathon training in its own. But amidst this mad dash I’ve finally reconciled with myself that it’s OK to put some things on the back burner. I don’t need to do EVERYTHING all the time.  Functioning at full capacity is not the most efficient way of living. At least not for me. So these past 3 or so weeks I’ve taken it easy on work and training and let myself delve into the torturous pursuit of finals. And although it has been helpful, it has left little time (and even less money,) for grocery shopping.

So I’ve decided I’m on a mission. (Out of curiosity, and financial necessity.)

I want to eat my kitchen bare. No, this isn’t some weird nude food fetish. I want to clear out the ingredients I have in my cupboards and cabinets and leave lots of room in my fridge for when I get around to the supermarket.  Aside from having a limited budget, I also just hate wasting food. And I’m really, really good at it. Chris is helpful because he’ll eat the stuff that I think is too old, and he, like me, doesn’t mind eating strange food combinations. Last week we had leftover salad topped with homemade falafel, chia seeds, quinoa, and tomato sauce. Yeah, it was weird. But about a year ago I decided I wanted to become a fearless eater. I may have written about this before but I decided that a) I love to eat, b) how can I teach my kids (someday) to not be picky eaters if I’m a picky eater?, c) There’s so much good food I could be missing out on! and finally d) I want to be a better cook. And to be a better, healthier, know-ier cook, I have to be willing to try new things.

It’s interesting, really, because I’m one of those people who can eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, for a month straight. I guess we’ll see where this takes me.

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1: I was writing a paper all day last Sunday and by the time I left the library, the weather had gotten pretty chilly and I was ravenous. So when I got home I wanted something quick, warm, and nutritious: soup! I sauteed tofu with garlic, onions, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and coconut oil, and simmered that with some frozen veggies in a little miso broth before adding vegetable broth and rice noodles to finish it off. It was easy, fairly tasty, and there were plenty of leftovers (which, per usual, tasted better the next day.)

2: Just a typical breakfast. Chris cut this all up before leaving for work and I woke up to a nice little platter of fruits and veggies to start my day off.

3: Sometimes my meals are super simple. Like after my run, I just went for the PB& J. Or rather, almond butter & J on whole grain. I try to make sure that I eat fruits and veggies before and with every meal. It’s better for digestion and makes sure you get in all the nutrients before you’re too full or too uninterested.

Now, it’s on to the next challenge: Holidays. Hope you all are having a good week! xx

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