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?

Bellingham Bay Marathon Training Week 4 – Cape Cod Running

Andy and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary with a week-long vacation with the pup on Cape Cod. It’s our favorite spot because it is the most chill place on Earth. When you love to do nothing – which just so happens to be our all-time favorite activity – there is no better place to be than the Cape. We even got engaged there.

August 30, 2012

This week also happened to be my first step back week, which worked out well because as nice as running at the Cape is, I was really in full relaxation mode.




Week 4: June 9 – June 15



This is what it looks like to run at the Cape

  • Monday – Maintenance Legs
  • Tuesday – 2 mile warm up, 4×800, 2 mile cool down (6.74 miles)
  • Wednesday – OFF
  • Thursday - 1 mile warm up, 2 mile tempo, 2 mile marathon pace (5 miles)
  • Friday – Plyos
  • Saturday – 8 miles
  • Sunday – OFF

Total (running) miles: 19.74


Summary of Week 4 running:

Fucking humid.

Tuesday: So, for the 800s. This was actually my first time ever doing a workout of only 800s (they were part of my track workout in Week 2, but so were other distances). I checked through last year’s training schedule and my former coach never gave me 800s. That makes me feel a liiiiiitle better about sucking so hard during this workout. I’m not used to pushing that hard for half a mile.

But at some point I need to stop making excuses and wonder if I really am just not good at the shorter, faster interval workouts. On this day, it was raining when I woke up and still 100% humidity when I got to the running path. There were no other cars in the parking lot, which actually says a LOT. I run on a very popular biking/running trail and there are usually lots of other people there. But this day was so unbelievably shitty that no one else bothered. So, that should tell you something.

It was humid. My stomach hurt. I never did this particular workout before. Whine whine excuse excuse. My interval splits were:

(1) 400 – 3:39
(2) 400 – 3:36
(3) 400 – 3:43
(4) 400 – 3:57

During the second and third intervals, my neck hurt. The pain radiated to my collarbone, which was a new type of terrible feeling. But I stretched during the active recovery and my neck didn’t bother me during the last one. Which was also by far the slowest, so, there’s that.

And then my stomach hurt so badly that I had to walk a number of times during my 2-mile cool down. Maybe this just isn’t my thing – and that is OK! All that really matters is that I am working my hardest, and I absolutely was. And also, I don’t enjoy it.

I don’t like the feeling of my lungs about to burst and just wanting it to be over. I do like pushing my pace in tempo workouts because while difficult, I can maintain it if I have to. But for these fast intervals? Not fun for me. Not why I run. The reason I have no interest in training specifically for a 5K. If I PR in a 5K, yay. But I will never reach my full potential there because this type of running simply isn’t fun for me. I like pushing my limits and seeing what I can do, but I like it in a longer type of workout. THIS is why I like marathons so much.

I still need to test an interval workout in better conditions because for some reason every track-type workout I’ve had so far has fallen on the hottest and/or most humid days. But I have a feeling it’s just not my strength.

I emailed Coach Abby and said as much after this workout, telling her that I had a feeling Thursday’s workout would be much more up my alley (based on all the things I just said). And I was right.

Thursday: Ah, Thursday. How I looked forward to this workout. Not only was it a little less humid, I also felt a lot more confident about this one. 1 mile warm up, 2 miles tempo (~8:20-8:30 according to Coach), 2 miles marathon pace (9:10). What I did was:

(1) 10:24 (warm up)
(2) 8:07  (tempo)
(3) 8:24 (tempo)
(4) 9:03 (marathon pace)
(5) 8:57 (marathon pace)

I clearly have to work on my marathon pace, since you know, that’s the most important one! The warm up went well, the first tempo mile went well, and then I got the most painful stomach cramp on the lower right side. The only thing that helped was stopping (not an option) or pressing hard into it (difficult to do while running). So basically, I suffered through the rest of this run.

I somehow managed to stick to a decent tempo pace during the second tempo mile, despite my pain. I was so relieved to be able to slow down to marathon pace! But I need to get better at it, I was so worried about being too slow that I was still too fast. And for the final marathon pace mile, I caught up with Andy and Larry on their walk when I had .30 left to go so I grabbed Larry Gary’s leash and we ran the final stretch together. Fast. Because it was fun and I love to see my baby boy run!

And that’s why that final mile was really too fast. Like I said, work to be done.

Cape Cod running

This is the photo that fogged up my shades

Saturday: The long run, which was a shorter long run than I’ve had in a couple of weeks. I was happy to “only” have 8 miles, even though it felt like I was running forever. Another 100% humidity day, one of the sweatiest runs of my life. I stopped to take a photo and my sunglasses fogged up!

It cleared up once I was running again, but when I finally reached 8 miles (in 1:21) and got in the car to go home, sweat poured into my eyes, stinging them like crazy. I couldn’t wait to get home, wipe my eyes and get in the shower!

And, just for the record? While running on vacation is fun (wee! I’m running in a new place! How fun! So pretty!), doing plyos (squat jumps, lunge jumps) while on vacation really fucking sucks. It feels like the total opposite of vacation.

I just wanted to be on the wicker with Wick.


We nicknamed Larry ‘Wick’ because he loved his wicker so much


Do you like running shorter intervals? Thoughts on training while on vacation?


P.S. One more reason the Cape is the best? COOKIES MADE OUT OF CUPCAKES.

cape4And OH YEAH one last thing: This comic completely resonates. Especially the making up bizarre measurements of distances: The DOs and DO NOTs of Running Your First Marathon


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