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Bellingham Bay Marathon Training: Week 11 – Mistakes and Praise

At the end of an interval, my watch beeps. It beeps, I stop.

But it actually beeps a few times in a row. I’ve been stopping as soon as I hear the first beep and either hunched over my knees gasping for breath or, on a less grueling interval, walking as I start my active recovery.

But that first beep? Not the end of the interval. It’s the last beep that ends it. So not only have I been ending my intervals a few seconds too early, I’ve been skewing all my times by walking or totally stopping for the last FEW SECONDS of an interval! And when I’m running 200s or 400s or even 800s — hell, even my 2 mile repeats — my times have been slower than they would be if I just kept running a few seconds longer. ALL MY TIMES.

I realized this four 400s in on Tuesday’s 6×400 run. So the only true 400s were the last two. And they were faster. See how that works when you actually run through the entire interval?

400m splits

1 – 1:47
2 – 1:41
3 – 1:39
4 – 1:42
5 – 1:39
6 – 1:37

So, lesson learned. It’s just frustrating because I feel like 11 weeks in, I shouldn’t be making these dumb mistakes anymore. I know it’s just a few seconds and not actually THAT important when it comes to my goals, but still. All my times could have been just a little faster. At least now they will be.

That 6×400 run wasn’t so bad. It was hard the way it should be hard, and while I had moments of rib pain and neck pain, those didn’t last. The intervals were hard because I ran them hard, and I feel good about my effort.

Here’s how the rest of my week was:

Week 11: July 28 – August 3

  • Monday – Maintenance Legs
  • Tuesday – 2 mile warm up, 6×400 (active recovery), 2 mile cool down (5.9 mi)
  • Wednesday – Refine
  • Thursday – 2 mile warm up, 6 x hill repeats (400m hill), 2 mile cool down (6.72 mi)
  • Friday – OFF
  • Saturday – OFF
  • Sunday – 15 miles (2:33:06)

Total (running) miles: 27.62

Summary of Week 11 running:

Wednesday (cross training)
I met Emily (who also uses Coach Abby!) for the first time on Wednesday. She was on vacation in NYC, so of course I brought her to my favorite cross training workout in the world – Refine Method.

Boxes and bells at Refine Method NYC - Dori's Shiny Blog

Boxes and bells at Refine

It was so nice meeting her in person! We’ve been talking through Twitter, email and Gchat for a year now. She used the same coach as me last year too (not Abby) and had a lot of the same concerns I did with our training. We bonded over that, along with running in general, and I just really liked her! I’m so happy that she loved Refine (but really, how could you not?)

On Thursday, I had my first hill repeats of this training cycle. The instructions were 2 mile warm up, 6 x hill repeats (.20-.25 hill), 2 mile cool down. I grappled with myself about the distance for this one. I knew I’d run my repeats up the Brooklyn Bridge because it is the most convenient option, and since the hill up the bridge is longer than .25 miles, I basically had my pick of how long these intervals should be. Going .20 seemed like taking the way out, and I want to stand at the start line at Bellingham feeling like I did everything in my power to hit my sub-4:00 goal.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with choosing the shorter option – especially if my legs were tired or something was bothering me. But I felt fine, and there was no reason not to go for it. Since I just did 400s two days before, I decided to go with that for the hills as well. Then I could have a baseline for comparison!

Brooklyn Bridge sign - Dori's Shiny Blog

400 meters to this

This sign marked 400 meters exactly, and it was in my line of sight for the entire interval. Having an end in sight definitely helped me push hard, knowing exactly how far I had to go.

After my first hill, I could not believe I still had five to go. It felt ridiculously hard, but I was able to jog right back down for my active recovery. But after a few more, I had to stop and hunch over catching my breath before starting my descent down – which started with some walking before I could summon up the energy to jog. And 400 meters up a hill cause a LOT more sweat than 400 faster meters on a flat road.

On the fifth repeat, I felt nauseous. But with one to go, I gave it everything I had – and my final hill interval was my fastest. And I really like the consistency!

400m hill repeats

1 – 1:53
2 – 1:54
3 – 1:54
4 – 1:54
5 – 1:54
6 – 1:51

Ah, the long run this week. This was a stressful situation.

I woke up Saturday, planning to meet American Cancer Society Team DetermiNation teammates at the Hope Lodge. We were going to run 14 miles (I had 15, and intended to do 1 mile before I met them) up and down NYC’s Summer Streets (every summer, they close Park Avenue for three Saturdays in August and it is AWESOME). The run would end back at the Hope Lodge where we would have breakfast with some of the patients staying there while getting their cancer treatments.

I was really looking forward to this for two reasons: (1) Doing most of my long run with my teammates because I had all easy miles on my plan and (2) spending time with the very people I’m helping by raising money for ACS to run the NYC Marathon. I wanted to feel more connected to why I am doing this.

But when I woke up, it was POURING. I went outside, thinking I’d do my mile here in Jersey City as a weather test, but I only made it  few steps. It was just coming down so hard, and the thought of running in that for 2.5 hours was miserable. I was still considering it though, when I saw the PATH Train tweet that there were signal problems and delays.

That meant that I couldn’t be sure what time the train would come and if I’d even make it to the Hope Lodge to meet my team. Along with the crappy weather, and the fact that I actually didn’t feel great (my left foot was hurting [I went to PT for the foot during the week, more on that in another post] and I just felt exhausted), I made the decision to stay home. And spent the entire day feeling guilty. And napping. And feeling down. And feeling exhausted. When the rain stopped, I felt worse. When I saw everyone’s tweets and Instagrams from Summer Streets, I felt jealous that they got to experience it and guilty that they ran just fine when I didn’t bother. The only thing that got me out of the house was dinner at Razza, because you don’t turn down the place that perfected the pizza.

Razza NJ - Dori's Shiny Blog

Razza perfected the pizza. Trust me.

And the next day, I woke up and my foot felt much better. I wasn’t so exhausted, and I knew I could run 15 miles. The only downside was I’d be running it alone, and I’d be running it in Jersey City – the land of totally flat running paths and no shade. Oh, and it was raining. But it wasn’t pouring, and running in this rain was totally doable.

The run was fine. It wasn’t awesome but it wasn’t terrible either. About halfway through, the rain stopped. I ran through Liberty State Park to the Port Liberte area where my friend lives, and then I ran all around there (partially to check out the area because it’s gorgeous, and partly to see if she would wake up and feel better from her food poisoning and want to come out and play). Killing so many miles there helped big time, and by the time I was back in the park I had just 6 miles to go.

I thought about how during the marathon, if you only have 6 miles to go you know that barring a broken bone or major vomiting, you will finish the race. Even if everything hurts and you have to walk, there’s not much quitting going on after 20 miles. You’ve come too far, and the finish line is in reach. This helped me get through that first of 6 final miles.

It got better after that, I felt less tired though I was very hungry. The thought of French toast helped me speed up and finish those last few miles faster than I started. I don’t usually share long run splits for easy long runs, but I really like how I negative splitted (not a word) this run.


Statue of Liberty/NYC view from Port Liberte on a cloudy run

Long Run Splits

1 – 10:39
2 – 10:30
3 – 10:31
4 – 10:30
5 – 10:38
6 – 11:18
7 – 10:19
8 – 10:20
9 – 10:14
10 – 10:10
11 – 9:41
12 – 9:50
13 – 9:42
14 – 9:17
15 – 9:24

And then I had French toast.

Madame Claude French Toast - Dori's Shiny Blog

Amazing French toast

This long run day also marked another milestone – 8 weeks to race day! I can’t believe it is so soon. August will be my most intense month of training – the longest long runs (up to 22 miles) and longer, more intensive weekday speedwork. Plus, I’m starting a new job on Monday that involves a bigger commute and I will have to figure out how to balance it all.

But back to the long run – I felt proud that I did all 15 alone! That was the last thing I wanted, but I got it done. I really wanted people to praise me. After a long run, I always feel like I deserve lots of praise. Especially when I do it alone. Do you feel that way?

Bellingham Bay Marathon Training: Week 10 – The Ultimate Runner’s High

Saturday’s scary-sounding long run — while really hard at the time — went so amazingly well that I’ve been on the ultimate runner’s high ever since. ALL I want to do it talk about this run with anyone who will listen. Unfortunately, the only person I’ve really seen is Andy and I don’t think it excites him too much. I’ve also seen my neighbors but I get shy when talking about myself and tend to play down my running. What I need is other runners/runner sympathizers to discuss every last detail of this run with.

And that’s you.

So, I tweeted this on Friday night:

A few very nice people responded with messages about how I can do this run. While I appreciated their support, I had my doubts. Because my long run? Was this:

18 miles: 8 miles easy, 8 miles marathon pace, 2 miles negative splits

My “easy” 10 miler earlier in the week felt so, so, so hard and I wasn’t even trying to run fast at all. How would I do 10 HARD miles after already running 8 miles? And 8 easy miles is still not easy! I’d say the first hour of any easy run is easy, and then it takes me a lot more effort to hold the same pace after that first hour.

And marathon pace actually seems quite doable to me during an actual marathon (I’m a very different runner on race day) but it seems SO FAST for a long run. And THEN 2 miles FASTER than marathon pace? After 8 miles of marathon pace?

AAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. dshfunihdnuresudsgydffdsyreien7e7nfe9n7q3nfdjnkcjnfld

On Saturday morning, I took the train into the city and ran 2 miles to my American Cancer Society Team DetermiNation meeting spot in Central Park.

Like the last time I ran with the group I joined the 10 minute milers. But once we started running it was clear we were going faster than that. A glance at my watch confirmed that we were at about a 9:36 pace. On an “easy” long run day I might have gone with it, but I knew I needed to save my energy for the marathon pace miles. I hung back from the group, and luckily found two other guys who did the same. I was happy to have people to chat running with for this part of the run since I had 10 lonesome miles coming up!

My time running with the boys flew by  – though the last mile took a bit more effort – and before I knew it I was saying “I’ve got to go!” They wished me luck and I ran off ahead.

18 Mile Run – Miles 1-8 “Easy”

1 – 9:52
2 – 10:53
3 – 9:54
4 – 9:52
5 – 10:04
6 – 10:15
7 – 10:15
8 – 11:46 (walked to drink + eat)

Eight miles at marathon pace sounded so overwhelming to me. 8 miles is so far. I wasn’t even thinking about the last 2 negative split miles at this time. I started counting down from mile 8 automatically. I’d deal with those last 2 when I got there.

I was aiming for a 9:10 average pace, although on race day I hope to be slightly faster than that so I have some cushion to come in under 4:00.

That first mile was difficult but not too bad! Since there was an official NYRR long training run in the park I even walked through a water station just like I would on race day. And even after that walk, I finished the first mile in 9:04 – pretty perfect, and it wasn’t even that bad! 

For the next two miles, I ran to the reservoir to give my legs a break from the hills and concrete. I figured the flat dirt path would be good for maintaining speed. As it turned out, those two miles were the slowest in this entire section of the run – 9:19 and 9:17.

I think I am so worried about slowing down on hills that I work extra hard to maintain my pace. But then after the hill I think I must have gone really slowly, so then I try and make up for lost time. The mind of a runner.

I also found the reservoir scene a little dull. Lots more runners and sights to see on the main loop!

When I got back on the main loop, I made a point to skip the Harlem Hills. But the rolling hills on the west side of the park — which I never usually notice on easier runs — were brutal.

Jersey City Project: Eats

The anticipation of all the food I’d be eating later kept me going.

Each mile was just a countdown to the end of this section. I got through it one mile at a time, walking through some water stations, and just doing my best to hold on to the pace.

At mile 13 I felt so defeated, and needed a break. I stopped my watch and stood at the side of the road to eat a Honey Stinger Chew (after 4 years, I finally got sick of my ShotBloks. This was my first time using a new fuel and I really liked it!) and stretch my neck.

As I stood there someone ran by, calling out “hi Dori!” It was Michelle Roos! I expected to see a number of people I know out in the park but Michelle (who I’ve never actually met in person) was the only one. And she’s speedy. So I took off after her, figuring if I could keep her in my sight that would mean I was running well.

Running behind her definitely lifted my spirits and motivated me when I really needed it. She exited the park shortly after, but by then I was feeling strong again. Mile 14 was one of my faster in this section.

My brain gets jumbled when I run long distances, and i thought I had two miles in the section to go when I realized I only had one! Well, one I can do!

I powered up Cat Hill for the final mile at marathon pace. I finished feeling strong and ready to tackle the last two miles – negative splits. I knew it would be hard but it was hard for 8 miles already. I knew I could do it. All I had to do was push just a little harder.

18 Mile Run – Miles 8-16 “Marathon Pace – 9:10”
9 – 9:04
10 – 9:19
11 – 9:17
12 – 8:51
13 – 9:14
14 – 8:54
15 – 9:11
16 – 9:00

Aided by the downhill direction of Cat Hill and my adrenaline at finally being at the final section, I killed that mile! The last mile felt tougher, but not nearly as bad as the last mile of easy long runs feel. You have to focus to negative split like that, and I was too close to the end to give up.

18 Mile Run – Miles 17-18 “Negative Splits”
17 – 8:38
18 – 8:46

Just like that, I was done!

Larry and Andy sleeping

After the run. Neither of them ran 18 miles. Just saying.

And I’ve never felt more elated, more accomplished, more obsessed with a long training run in my life. I DID IT. I didn’t think I could, and I had my excuses ready to go. In fact, during the first MP mile I thought about how I needed to ask Coach Abby if my sub-4 goal was too ambitious (you’ve heard this from me before). But then I took it mile by mile, and while not every mile hit 9:10 or under, they were all close enough to make me feel happy about my effort. It was also humid, so I give myself some slack there.

At the end of each mile I was surprised by my pace and if never felt too impossible to complete. All I wanted to do (and still want – TWITTER ME) is talk about this run. Ever since I finished, I’ve been on the ultimate runner’s high. 

Dori and Andy at Jersey City Project: Eats

We went here twice. Because food.

The week also started off well, making this a solid week of training: Here’s the rundown:

Week 10: July 21 – July 27

  • Monday – 2 mile warm up, 5K time trial (25:02 5K)
  • Tuesday –OFF
  • Wednesday – 10 miles easy (1:45)
  • Thursday – Refine
  • Friday – OFF
  • Saturday – 18 miles (8 miles easy, 8 miles marathon pace, 2 miles negative splits)
  • Sunday – OFF

Total (running) miles: 33

Summary of Week 10 running:

I started the week on vacation in Cape Cod, and did my 5K time trial on Monday morning. My 6-month-old Garmin FR220 wouldn’t charge, so I used the iSmooth Runner app to track this one. While I set it to call out my pace every half mile, the experience was so different from wearing a watch where I can quickly look down and adjust my pace at any time if I’m going too fast or too slow.

Which is why I started out WAY too fast. I was so worried about going too slow, and without being able to easily see my pace (my phone was in the pouch on my handheld water bottle) I just didn’t realize.

Larry Gary unhappy about patio

Unrelated: A certain crybaby did not like it when we went onto the patio.

After a slow 2 warm up in — you guessed it! — high humidity, I set out on my 5K time trial. I had a goal in my mind: I wanted to run each mile in around 8:00. My current 5K PR is 24:19 and I ran that race while coming off two injures, and after running 4 miles already. I figured that I might be able to come close to it, and on a better day maybe I would have. But I’m really, really happy with how this run went even if I wasn’t able to stick to my plan.

As I said, the first mile was too fast, and then I was so tired and hot that I had to slow down. To make matter worse, I felt intense ribcae cramps. I had a rib injury last year and I do get cramps in that area during most of my faster training runs, but it hurt so much this day that I freaked out that my injury was coming back.

One of the biggest perks of having a running coach who is also a physical therapist is access to her wisdom. Abby explained to me late that the scar tissue may have healed tightly, so when I exert myself and increase lung expansion it may feel like a cramp and tight.

This makes complete sense and makes me feel better about the pain, understanding why it is happening and that it isn’t too serious. The downside is that I will keep experiencing this pain, which slows me down and drives me crazy.

Anyway, I made it through this run. I finished 3 miles in the same time as my 5K PR (24:19) and then with the .1 brought my time to 25:02. I’m happy with it!

5K Time Trial (25:02)

1 – 7:45
2 – 8:13
3 – 8:22
.1 – 8:05

Shining Sea Bike Path - Cape Cod

The Shining Sea Bike Path in Cape Cod

And by the way, my Garmin not charging? It was because the charging prongs needed to be cleaned. With TOOTHPASTE. I swear, that is what the Garmin rep on the phone told me to do – and it worked.

On our last day at the Cape, I went back to the Shining Sea Bike Path for an easy 10 mile out-and-back run. The first 5 miles really did feel easy – I had lots on my mind, I drafted brilliant blog posts in my head that I’ll never write, and the miles went quickly. I barely lo0ked at my watch at all!

After the turnaround, the run got really hard. I struggled to keep going, I couldn’t get lost in my thoughts because I was unable to hold any train of thought, and no matter how slow I went it never felt easy. And I couldn’t stop looking at my watch – while the distance moved soooooo slowly. But once I finished — in 1:45 — I felt really great! I was so happy I ran 10 miles before a long car ride and thrilled to not have this run hanging over me to do later in the week. Plus, running on that trail means I get plenty of shade – not that it helped that much, I was insanely sweaty after this one!


Have you ever been on the ultimate runner’s high? What run caused it? 



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