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?

 

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I’m just about reaching the half way point in my training and I’m beginning to remember the feeling of not wanting to make time for my runs. That being said, I do feel stronger, healthier and more confident than ever before.

Last week I was out with a cold – one I’m still trying to shake – so I only logged about 10 miles and a very light strength training session.

Although each work out did help me feel a little better, in the end I needed more rest than exertion.

With all my free time I was able to finish 2 books, catch up on Once Upon a Time, and finally get some much needed, uninterrupted sleep.

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If you’re a Brave New World / distopian future fan, this is a good book to check out.

Yesterday was my first day feeling like myself again so I took it as an opportunity to get 2 workouts in. My first work out was a more vigorous conditioning because I’ve been falling back a bit with cross training and keeping my legs strong is vital. Here’s what I did:

10 minutes in the sauna – (I heard that using a sauna can help with heat endurance and I have definitely felt an improvement in my own ability to endure higher temperatures. Not to mention it works wonders for my skin and detoxifying)

30 walking lunges
30 crunches
25 donkey kicks
25 scissors

30 sumo squats
30 crunches
25 donkey kicks
25 scissors

30 step ups
30 crunches
25 bicep shoulders – (I’m not sure the real name of these but 1 rep is essentially a bicep curl on each arm followed directly by a shoulder press. I used 7.5lb dumbells.)
25 clam shells (each side)

15 miles stationary bike

Afterwards I was ravenous and whipped together the strangest sandwich I’ve had in a while, along with some fresh seasonal produce I got from the grocery store. There are few things more grounding than eating a delicious, perfectly ripe and juicy peach.

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I rested a bit afterwards and started a new book – Hollow City, the 2nd installment of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

Chris and I decided to try out a new pizza place called Stone Hearth Pizza which was really good and sourced local, organic and hormone/antibiotic free ingredients. It was delicious and inexpensive and I felt good supporting a business that supports local farms. They also have gluten free dough and pasta! I got the Farmfresh pizza, which was chock full of veggies.

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I headed out on my run around 8:30pm. I prefer running around dusk but it’s been hot lately and I learned my lesson after attempting a long run at noon in 87 degree weather. (I think it actually qualified as a long walk with intermittent periods of jogging.)

After about a mile I realized my body was still tired from my earlier workout and the last legs of my cold and I ended up cutting my run a mile short. I’m always trying to find where the line is with pushing my body and giving it adequate rest. You win some, you lose some I guess.

For my post run snack I had peanut butter, fresh fig, and chia seeds on a slice of whole wheat toast. I paired it with a big mug of ginger detox tea and fell asleep before I even got the chance to open my book.

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Today I’m slated for a long run but I’m a bit worried after last night’s performance. I guess we’ll see.

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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

 

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