Archive of ‘Marathon’ category

Bellingham Bay Marathon Training: Week 5 – My First Team DetermiNation Run

Another week closer to the marathon, and a memorable one at that. I ran my long run with my American Cancer Society DetermiNation team for the first time!

The team actually had two long runs while I was away at the cape, so last weekend was the first time I could make it to a practice. I don’t make friends easily, I have a ton of social anxiety and I struggle to make conversation for the sake of conversation. So, I wasn’t sure how this run would be.

The last time I tried a charity team run was back in 2011 and it was a terrible experience. I’m not going to name names (though you could find out if you really wanted) but the conversation felt forced and uncomfortable, and the team was too fast for me and ended up dropping me after just a few miles. I ended up running most of that 17 miler alone, and never went back to a team run again.

I’m happy to say that not only was this experience totally different, it was AMAZING! I came home more excited than ever about committing to raise money for ACS, my decision to run NYCM again and being part of a real team.

I ran two miles from my train to the meeting spot in the park, which I found easily after being too worried about not finding it. People were chatting in groups, stretching, getting ready for the run. When it was time to begin, one of the coaches called everyone around her and explained how the run would be organized:

There would be three pace groups (or four, if enough people expressed interest). Each pace group would be led by one or two certified coaches. Within those pace groups there would be three levels: Beginner (lowest mileage) Intermediate (medium mileage) and Advanced (highest mileage). I went with the 10:00 pace group with plans to run the Advanced mileage.

Before we started running a couple of girls struck up a conversation with me about my Zensah compression sleeves (only at first I thought they were talking about my Hokas. Some miscommunication ensued). When we started running I continued a conversation with one of the girls, Cara and we started chatting about everything! She has a bunion too (BUNION BUDDIES OMG), is a physical therapist, has run a couple marathons, suffered from injuries, used to live in Jersey City (!!!!!!!!) and even talked with me about trying to organize a Ragnar team together in the future. We just clicked.

That RARELY happens to me. The conversation flowed easily, we had lots in common and so much to say! We also talked about our reasons for deciding to fundraise for ACS and the people we knew who both beat and did not beat cancer.

The coaches were great about announcing to the team when a water fountain was coming so we could all stop as a group to drink/refill bottles. Each time we stopped, I started up running again with another teammate, getting to know them, why they are are running for ACS, their running background, where they live and more. One new friend even invited me to a prom!

The miles FLEW by. When the coach announced the Advanced distance was done, I felt sad! I wanted to run and chat more! And for someone who hates talking, that says a lot.

I ran back to my train for a total of 12 miles (I am head of my team mileage wise because Bellingham Bay is four weeks before NYCM). I felt incredible after this run! My body felt good, we kept up a great pace throughout the run, it felt easy the whole time while also being faster than I run when I am alone – and I really liked the people!

I’m excited to join them for more team runs. Unfortunately, there isn’t a practice next week because of the NYRR Hope & Possibility race. When there is a designated team race, they all meet before the race but then they run the race as the run. I’m in hardcore money saving mode now, and I’m not spending money on races.

Some weekends, my long runs aren’t “easy” – they incorporate marathon pace and other variations. On those days, I won’t be able to run with the team. But on any long run day that is an easy, straightforward run – I’ll be there! I can’t wait to run with them again in two weeks!

Even better than the run itself (which was just so awesome) was feeling comfortable and part of a team. I signed up to raise money so I could run the NYC Marathon in memory of my Aunt Dale. This race is very much for her – and when the miles get tough on November 2, I will think about my aunt, how strong she was, how positive she remained the whole time – and I will finish the race wearing her name attached to my Team DetemiNation shirt.

(Speaking of which – I am SO close to my fundraising goal for the American Cancer Society to run the NYC Marathon. I appreciate any donation at any amount – it all makes a difference. )

What I didn’t realize when I signed up how much of this team would be more me, too. Sure, I figured I could network and enjoy some team perks. But I didn’t consider how much of the team aspect would be valuable to me, how much it would empower my long runs and drum up excitement. And I know that as the months of training go on, there will be more events, more runs, and right before the race (and the morning of) I will have all this team support I never knew before!

OK, sappy sentimental over. Nitty gritty of the week begins now:

Week 5: June 16 – June 22

  • Monday – Hip exercises + easy 4 miles (43:00)
  • Tuesday – Refine
  • Wednesday – 1 mile warm up, 5 mile tempo (1:01 – Tempo FAIL)
  • Thursday – 8 miles easy (1:22)
  • Friday – Plyos
  • Saturday – 12 miles (1:55)
  • Sunday – OFF

Total (running) miles: 30

Summary of Week 5 running:

This week kicked my butt. After a slow, easy 4 miles to kick of the week, I took Refine on Tuesday. I didn’t think the class was any more intense or challenging than any other class, but for some reason (maybe being off the week before when I was at the Cape) it affected my tempo run the next day in a way I never experienced before.

As many ailments as I usually feel while running – stomach, ribcage, neck, etc – tired legs is rarely one of them. And the few times my legs have felt tired during a run, it hasn’t really affected the run very much. But on Wednesday, I had my first true tempo run: 1 mile warm up, 5 tempo miles (~8:20-8:30). It was 80 degrees and humid when I left at 5:30 am – and that was the least of my problems this day.

The real problem was my tired, heavy legs. They hurt with every single step. I’ve never felt anything like it. I knew I’d be sore from Refine, but I’ve run after class and never felt anything like this. My legs were beaten up, useless. My warm up mile was 10:56, and then it was time to start the 5 tempo miles (8:20-8:30 is the goal):

1 – 8:45
2 – 8:55
3 – 9:09
4 – 10:30
5 – 10:00 – this is a guess, my watch got messed up

Miles 1 and 2 were among the most brutally painful miles of my life – and I’m including the marathons I ran with a knee injury in there. I actually had to stop every half mile to collect myself. My legs were just not right and I felt so frustrated and powerless. The heat and humidity was making it all so much worse.

When I finished mile 3 at marathon pace instead of tempo pace, I couldn’t take it anymore. I needed a break. My legs were done. I quit trying to tempo and just took it easy for mile 4. And the crazy thing – my legs didn’t hurt any less during that slower mile. It was just as bad.

At first, I wasn’t even sure if I would do the last mile or just call it a day. But I decided to give it a try and I even managed to pick it up. Knowing I’m near the end really changes everything because running is so mental! I picked it up as much as I could, but I don’t have an accurate split because my watch went crazy and said I finished in like 7:36 or something. My guess is 10:00.

I finished this run feeling defeated, not knowing how I’d ever run another marathon, sure my sub-4 goal was unattainable. Obviously that’s not the case, but it had been a couple weeks of bad runs. I needed a good one. Later in the week I had a humid but not terrible easy 8 miler (I LOVE EASY RUNS) and then the amazing (and finally perfect weather) 12 miler I talked about above.

And now it is a new week. I already ran twice (spoiler alert: I NAILED today’s hard run!) and I’m back to Refine tomorrow, where hopefully I won’t be quite as beat up from it.

I’ll leave you with this dog. He is a Portugal fan.

My dog, though? USA:

Larry Gary USA


Have you ever been part of a team? How was your experience?

10 Bullet Points, 5 Updates, 2 Marathons

1. I already wrote most of my very first Bellingham Bay Marathon Training: Week 1 post! Since I’m still in the middle of week 1, I have a few more workouts to do, but I’m so excited that I actually couldn’t wait to blog about it. This has never once happened in the history of this blog. I’m in full-on can’t stop staring at my training plan mode, and I have to say – it’s nice to be back.

2. On Monday I went to my first Refine class since February. This is because of my asshole neck injury. I’m finally doing better and I can take Refine as long as Brynn (the founder) is right there making sure I’m not doing anything that seems dumb. I know some things not to do – anything overhead, pick up a kettlebell – but she can spot the others. She stopped me from climbing planks (which I was about to stop on my own, I think. It didn’t feel right) and sprinting in place, because my neck was like ‘HA bitch!’

3. The thing about not going to Refine for 3+ months after going consistently for 3+ years is this: I lost all my thigh muscles so at first my clothes fit better and I was all “YEAH I’M HOT I DON’T NEED TO WORK OUT” but then a month later my middle area got soft and all spread out and not only did I not like the way I looked, but my clothes started getting tight again. Just in a new way. A worse way. Also, I probably should have been wearing a full size bigger in the first place considering how much better the jeans felt when I lost the muscles. TL;DR: I’m out of shape and now that I am not so injured, I will get back into shape.

4. I’m trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.  I was on an awesome track and after two companies in a row got bought out by other companies, I found myself on a broken track. And that was four years ago. It’s time to get back on the awesome track once again, if only I can figure out what exactly that is. On that note, how the hell has it been 10 YEARS since I graduated college?! I still feel like I am in high school.


In memory of my Aunt Dale (far right)

5. One month after my goal marathon, I am running the NYC Marathon with Team AOL to raise money for the American Cancer Society DetermiNation. This is my fundraising page - know everyone asks for money, but I really appreciate ANY donation at any amount. Deciding to do this was tough – I agonized for weeks. In the end, I decided to sign up for the $3,400 fundraising commitment for the following reasons:

  • I am running in memory of my Aunt Dale. My aunt died in August 2012 after a long battle with kidney cancer. My grandma and cousin also had kidney cancer, by the way, so this really hits close to home. My Aunt Dale fought so hard and remained positive the entire time. Her positivity during her ordeal is inspires me and motivates me to raise money for ACS, and I will be proud to wear her name on my shirt on race day.
  • I have some unfinished business with NYCM! I didn’t realize how much I wanted to not only finish what I started in 2011, but actually experience the miles I was too sick to remember at the time. I’d like to get the real NYCM experience. I’m not running with any goal time – this is purely to enjoy the experience and have fun while keeping it meaningful and close to my heart.
  • The main reason I didn’t want to do NYCM again – waiting in the cold for hours before the start – is not an issue when you raise money for charity because you get to hang out in the heated VIP tent.
  • Networking/making friends – Not only do I want to meet more people at AOL to network with and become friendly with, but I’ll be meeting a lot more people who are also on the ACS DetermiNation team at team runs and events.
  • Team support – There are group runs twice a week, and additional events. While I likely won’t make it to most of the Tuesday night runs because my weekday runs are generally interval-focused, I will go to the weekend long runs. I like the idea of a built-in network of people to run with, including a coach, and getting to know people as the miles fly by.

I’m working on some fundraising ideas both on and off the blog. If anyone works at/has connections to brands that would be willing to help by donating an item for an auction or raffle, please let me know! I’m excited to get started – I welcome your advice on fundraising ideas and of course any donations.


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