My First Marathon Training Plan

Ever since I finished my 9+1 last November and received my guaranteed entry to the New York City Marathon for this year, I’ve had people asking me how I was going to approach my training. It’s no secret that I’ve never followed a training plan before. I’m not particularly fond of doing things just because someone else is telling me to (“because I said so” is probably my least favorite response to “why”?) and even though I considered trying to stick to something for my first half, when I was able to do it after figuring it out for myself I simply carried on that way. Yet the marathon is different. To successfully cross the finish line I need to get advice from those who have been there before and use a training plan so that I stay on track. I think I’ve now settled on my first marathon training plan, but getting there was definitely a process.

 

 

Cloudsurfers

 

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Racing For Fun

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about running and racing for fun. As I’ve mentioned many times on this blog, when I first started running, I made a promise to myself that I would not ever let it become just another competitive activity. I took every activity I tried very seriously when I was a kid, and running was going to be something I did just for me, to have fun, get outside in the fresh air, and get away from the craziness of life in law school. And then, about six months after I started running, I entered my first 10K race.

 

 

NYC Half Marathon Three Years

 

 

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March Monthly Recap

They say that March roars in like a lion and goes out like a lamb where the weather is concerned. Well, the opposite is true if we’re talking about my life. The first two weeks of the month were relatively quiet, coming off the whirlwind of my Florida trip. Then things sped up, quite literally, with my PR in the New York City Half Marathon, continued on to a weekend escape to Connecticut, and now it’s full steam ahead into April and everything planned for the spring. Read on for my March monthly recap and a peek at what’s ahead!

 

 

Central Park Reservoir at the start of spring

 

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What a PR Means to Me

I’ve been thinking about what a PR means to me for the last few days, since I set a personal record for the half marathon at the New York City Half Marathon last Sunday. It isn’t about being faster than other runners. It’s not even about being faster than I’ve been before, as the term suggests. It’s about achieving more than I thought was possible, not just in this race but with running in general, and beginning to believe I really have it in me to run a marathon.

 

 

Walt Disney World Half Marathon 2015

 

 

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WIAW #50: Half Marathon Weekend Eats

I cannot believe this is the 50th time I’ve written a WIAW post. They’ve become a staple on the blog. I found, after years of wondering why in the world someone would bother taking a picture of their food, that they’re actually some of the easiest and most enjoyable posts to write, because I like eating, cooking and baking, and it’s nice to think others might admire the result of my endeavors, or just be interested in the combinations of eats I create. And I find inspiration for my own meals by reading similar posts on other blogs. So here we go again, this time with a rundown of my eats the weekend of a half marathon in New York City.

 

 

Half Marathon WIAW Instagram

 

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Third Time’s the Charm at the NYC Half Marathon

Yesterday I ran the New York City Half Marathon for the third year in a row. This race was my first half marathon ever in March 2014. I was so happy and proud (and freezing in the 15 degree weather!) afterwards, and the moment I crossed the finish line, just a year after I first ran three miles without stopping, was the same moment I began to dream of running the marathon one day. My second time around last March was a little warmer and a little less momentous – still fun, of course! This year felt like the third time’s the charm. Not only did I set a personal record, it marked my first longer distance race of 2016, putting me on the path to the Marathon come November.

 

 

NYC Half Marathon Three Years

 

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My 2015 Running Year in Review

As Christmas is upon us and it’s just a week until the clock strikes on 2016, I’m sharing my 2015 running year in review. I debated whether to do this, since earlier this month was my first blog-iversary and I recapped a few highlights then. But since Renaissance Runner Girl started off as a running and gluten free recipe blog, and I still focus a lot on running (with more lifestyle posts now than then) I figured it was only fair to give running a dedicated post!

 

NYRR Retro 4-Miler

 

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Race Recap: NYC Half Marathon, Take Two

I can’t believe that the New York City Half Marathon has come and gone. 3/15/15 was a big day in more ways than one. I marked several running milestones as I raced through Central Park and down the streets of lower Manhattan:

  • It was the one-year anniversary of my first half marathon.
  • It was also the one-year anniversary of the first time I ever ran double-digit miles (the longest I’d run in training due to the polar vortex of early 2014 was 9 miles!)
  • And it was the two-year anniversary of when I laced up my sneakers and ran three miles without stopping for the first time.

 

Ready to pin!

Ready to pin!

So much has changed since the fateful day when I realized I could run. It took me months to build up from running 3 or 4 miles to running 6, and to get to my very first race, a 10K that was as exciting to me as a marathon. And believe it or not, it was even longer before I felt like I was allowed to call myself a runner. Going to the Expo took me back to the first time around, when I wandered around the cavernous pavilion with my eyes wide open in wonder. I’d never seen most of the running gear and tech on display, and I was definitely intimidated by the other people milling around, tossing around terms like fuel and fartlek.

 

Since then, I’ve reached my running equilibrium. I’ve picked up a few of the terms, and learned the hard way that some of them are not really optional (by that, I mean fuel – it is a NECESSITY!) Not all running shoes are created equal, but I’ve found my favorites through trial and error. I’ve adapted to running in all conditions, although I was certainly happy that the New York cold snap subsided in time for this Sunday. Running in shorts was a welcome change from last year’s double layer of fleece and frozen fingers! (I wore shorts because I tend to get heated quickly, which was paradoxically a better choice here than in Florida in January at the Disney Half Marathon – but at the end, my little legs were freezing!) I still run for myself, and not for any particular time, or to beat or impress anyone else. It would be nice to be faster, I guess, but slow and steady wins the race in my opinion – I’d rather be able to run a half marathon and finish strong than sprint a 5k, because the long runs are what I really love. Running is not a competition for me, it’s a way of life (even though I sometimes feel a little pressure to keep up when I’m around my November Project tribe, I know that getting another injury isn’t worth pushing myself past my limits!)

 

The Expo entrance was set up like a flight - it is the United Airlines Half, after all.

The Expo entrance was set up like a flight – it is the United Airlines Half, after all.

 

This morning, lining up in my corral in Wave 2, moving around a bit to stay limber and feeling the adrenaline start to pump, I knew without a doubt that I am a runner. I didn’t need to look to anyone else to copy what they were doing, or worry that my own warm-up method was somehow inferior. Do what works for you and what’s tried and true, and don’t try anything new on race day – sage words of wisdom for all the runners out there!

 

 

 

Starting in Wave 2, you line up on the 72nd street path that crosses Central Park, perpendicular to the start, so I knew roughly when the starting line was getting close. I crossed at 7:57am, and the first few miles up East Drive were slow and steady as expected. I hit a bit of a rough patch after rounding 110th Street and heading up Harlem Hill – I felt a pull in my calf muscle, and decided to walk for a few minutes to shake it off. I usually don’t run up this hill anyway, as it aggravates my right side (due to my ankle, knee, and hip injuries!) It ended up being okay, as I also had a little tummy trouble around this time between Miles 3 and 4. My 5k splits were 10:02/mile and 10k splits were 10:57, reflecting that. But I came down the western side of the park and out at 59th Street feeling better, and running down Seventh Avenue through Times Square, I flashed a big smile at the JumboTron!

 

1WTC-with-7WTC

Freedom Tower at One World Trade Center

 

Around Mile 7, runners took a right and went down 42nd Street, hitting the West Side Highway at Mile 8. The four miles down the highway elicit mixed feelings – there’s a very slight downward incline the whole way, so it’s actually the physically easiest part of the course, but it’s also the time when a lot of runners hit a half-marathon wall, and where there are the fewest fans cheering runners on. For me, this stretch definitely flew by faster than last year. I actually made up ground here, with a 15k split of 9:58 and a 20k split of 9:54. I just felt good here, and it was really cool to see the Freedom Tower in the distance and as we got closer. It’s a wonderful symbol for my home city and for America, and after all these years with a gap in the skyline, it’s a pretty awesome sight to behold.

 

 

 

At the finish line - it's not sweat I'm covered in, it's pixie dust!

At the finish line – it’s not sweat I’m covered in, it’s pixie dust!

 

Running through the Battery Park Tunnel, I really kicked into gear for the last mile. I don’t like running in dark, enclosed, subterranean spaces (I’m more of a high-in-the-sky adventurer) so both momentum and the motivation to get back outside kept me going. My last mile was at a 9:21 pace, and I finished strong in 2:13:13 with overall splits of 10:10. I was tired, sore, and chilly.  Luckily, I met my parents and my puppy at the finish, and we were able to get on the subway quickly. Since I hadn’t really taken in fuel during the race, I downed my water bottle and NY State McIntosh apple fast! (My parents also brought me a pack of Kay’s Naturals Protein Pretzel Sticks, since the pretzels in the recovery bag provided are definitely not GF.)

 

 

 

Once home, I had a welcome hot shower, and some delicious breakfast – a PB&J Oatmeal Cake, some yogurt and berries, and a few spoonfuls of peanut butter straight from the jar! And I was perfectly content, in more ways than one. Today was more than just a race for me. It was a reminder that running is something I do for health and fitness, sure – but even more importantly, for happiness. Running opened me up to a whole new outlook on life, and that’s something I will always be grateful for.

 

My new mantra!

My new mantra!

Greek yogurt with peanut butter, blueberries, and a crumbled Banana-Maple-Oat Muffi

Greek yogurt with peanut butter, blueberries, and a crumbled Banana-Maple-Oat Muffin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2015 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.

A Long (and Winding) Run

I looked at my calendar this week and realized I was just past the halfway point between my two winter half marathons – I’m not sure how that happened so quickly! To be fair, it does feel like quite awhile since I was in Florida, having an amazing time running the Walt Disney World Half Marathon and fueling up with all the delicious allergy-free treats on offer. But I thought that it felt far in the past because of the winter weather we’ve been having in the Northeast…the realization that it was over a month ago crept up on me! I’ve got less than four weeks to go until the New York City Half Marathon.

 

At the finish line of my first half marathon!

At the finish line of my first half marathon!

 

While I’m sure lots of seasoned runners think nothing of running multiple half marathon distances in a compressed period of time, it’s a first for me. I cut back during the two weeks after the Disney half marathon, running only 4-6 miles a few times each week. About two weeks after the race, I did an 8-miler, and today was my longest in-between run of 10 miles. At this point in my running career, I consider anything over 8 miles to be a Long Run, and this one definitely felt that way!

 

The long and winding road (or run!)

The long and winding road (or run!)

Long runs don’t feel different than short distances just because of the length of time your body is in motion. In fact, I find that it takes me a good three miles to get into a run, and once I hit mile 5 or 6, it’s easy to keep going for another few. Any little aches or pains usually fade away (they come back with a vengeance post-run, but that’s another story!) What I really need to keep me going is to focus on something positive. I don’t necessarily mean that I need to think happy thoughts –  in fact, I’ll often devote a lot of time on long runs to thinking through a problem, something in my life that isn’t going quite the way I’d like it to. I’ll usually have found a way to put a new spin on an off-kilter situation by the time I’m ready to cool down. There’s something about being out of doors and in motion that puts all the little things in life in perspective, and my long runs give me the chance to take a metaphorical step back and gain that perspective, while also literally moving forward.

 

Today, I shoved all thoughts of law school and my impending graduation and relationships and my upcoming dinner party and literally EVERYTHING ELSE out of my mind. Instead, I ruminated on running (of all the things!) as I ran. More specifically, the time I’ve spent running. Just under a year ago, I was gearing up for the same race, my first half marathon and only my fourth race ever! Looking back, I’m amazed at how far I’ve come – two years ago was the first time I ran a 5k distance without stopping, something I never dreamed of doing. I was the girl tried to get out of running the mile in gym class by bringing a note from my ballet teacher saying it was unsafe for dancers. Even when I started jogging as a coxswain, it was never more than a mile and change down the river path or around Oxford, and always with plenty of walking. Now, I have two half marathons under my belt, a third coming up, and a fourth already on deck for September!

 

Taking the scenic route by  a snow-capped Harlem Hill

Taking the scenic route by a snow-capped Harlem Hill

If I had told my 13- or 16- or even 20-year-old self that this is where I’d be at 23, I wouldn’t have been able to believe it. And that’s something I need to keep in mind. A long run is the perfect time to refresh my memory, because even if I feel a little sore for the first few miles, or the wind is a bit harsh, or I’m certain I won’t be able to finish – I realize that every step is an achievement in and of itself, pushing beyond imaginary limits into a new realm of possibility. It’s a wonderful thought, an even better feeling, and today, it was just the fuel I needed to finish 10 miles strong.

 

 

And now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to refuel, because even the best mental state requires a plate of healthy, delicious and nutritious calories to maintain! I’m thinking a few muffins for a quick protein and carb fix while I whip up a plate of eggs and my special pancakes…

Saucy Cinna-cakes with scrambled eggs and fresh blueberries!

Saucy Cinna-cakes with scrambled eggs and fresh blueberries!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2015 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.

A Long and Winding Run

I looked at my calendar this week and realized I was just past the halfway point between my two winter half marathons – I’m not sure how that happened so quickly! To be fair, it does feel like quite awhile since I was in Florida, having an amazing time running the Walt Disney World Half Marathon and fueling up with all the delicious allergy-free treats on offer. But I thought that it felt far in the past because of the winter weather we’ve been having in the Northeast…the realization that it was over a month ago crept up on me! I’ve got less than four weeks to go until the New York City Half Marathon.

 

At the finish line of my first half marathon!

At the finish line of my first half marathon!

 

While I’m sure lots of seasoned runners think nothing of running multiple half marathon distances in a compressed period of time, it’s a first for me. I cut back during the two weeks after the Disney half marathon, running only 4-6 miles a few times each week. About two weeks after the race, I did an 8-miler, and today was my longest in-between run of 10 miles. At this point in my running career, I consider anything over 8 miles to be a Long Run, and this one definitely felt that way!

 

The long and winding road (or run!)

The long and winding road (or run!)

Long runs don’t feel different than short distances just because of the length of time your body is in motion. In fact, I find that it takes me a good three miles to get into a run, and once I hit mile 5 or 6, it’s easy to keep going for another few. Any little aches or pains usually fade away (they come back with a vengeance post-run, but that’s another story!) What I really need to keep me going is to focus on something positive. I don’t necessarily mean that I need to think happy thoughts –  in fact, I’ll often devote a lot of time on long runs to thinking through a problem, something in my life that isn’t going quite the way I’d like it to. I’ll usually have found a way to put a new spin on an off-kilter situation by the time I’m ready to cool down. There’s something about being out of doors and in motion that puts all the little things in life in perspective, and my long runs give me the chance to take a metaphorical step back and gain that perspective, while also literally moving forward.

 

Today, I shoved all thoughts of law school and my impending graduation and relationships and my upcoming dinner party and literally EVERYTHING ELSE out of my mind. Instead, I ruminated on running (of all the things!) as I ran. More specifically, the time I’ve spent running. Just under a year ago, I was gearing up for the same race, my first half marathon and only my fourth race ever! Looking back, I’m amazed at how far I’ve come – two years ago was the first time I ran a 5k distance without stopping, something I never dreamed of doing. I was the girl tried to get out of running the mile in gym class by bringing a note from my ballet teacher saying it was unsafe for dancers. Even when I started jogging as a coxswain, it was never more than a mile and change down the river path or around Oxford, and always with plenty of walking. Now, I have two half marathons under my belt, a third coming up, and a fourth already on deck for September!

 

Taking the scenic route by  a snow-capped Harlem Hill

Taking the scenic route by a snow-capped Harlem Hill

If I had told my 13- or 16- or even 20-year-old self that this is where I’d be at 23, I wouldn’t have been able to believe it. And that’s something I need to keep in mind. A long run is the perfect time to refresh my memory, because even if I feel a little sore for the first few miles, or the wind is a bit harsh, or I’m certain I won’t be able to finish – I realize that every step is an achievement in and of itself, pushing beyond imaginary limits into a new realm of possibility. It’s a wonderful thought, an even better feeling, and today, it was just the fuel I needed to finish 10 miles strong.

 

 

And now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to refuel, because even the best mental state requires a plate of healthy, delicious and nutritious calories to maintain! I’m thinking a few muffins for a quick protein and carb fix while I whip up a plate of eggs and my special pancakes…

Saucy Cinna-cakes with scrambled eggs and fresh blueberries!

Saucy Cinna-cakes with scrambled eggs and fresh blueberries!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2015 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.