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Week in review: Tips to training in the summer sun.

                  LET’S EAT ALL THE PIE 🙂

 

Since I’ve already written my existential crisis post-of-the-month then I think it’s high time that I write about running on this running blog. After running a 3:25:XX at the 2017 Boston Marathon I set my eyes on racing the Chicago Marathon this coming fall. My hopes and dreams revolve around a marathon PR, which would mean a sub 3:16 (sub 7:28 pace per mile- holy jesus).

Post Boston recovery included lower mileage weeks and no speed work for April and May, but since June hit it’s been game on! Each week I have been running approximately 52-58 miles. Each week includes 3 hard effort workouts including:

  • an 8-9 mile tempo run of a warm up, then  2 x 12 min intervals sustained hard effort, then cooldown
  • 8-9 miles with 5-7 hill repeats to build strength
  • A 16 mile long run focused on building endurance /durability, practicing hydration/fueling and nailing pacing

I recently realized that after running consistently for 4 years I now don’t get nervous about running long, hill workouts or tempo runs. I have built up the mental confidence and physical durability to KNOW that I can head out there on the road and not have a problem. And that’s pretty darn cool! I want to be clear that IT STILL HURTS to run in 80+ degree temps when you feel like you are breathing air through a straw- I am human after all- but I feel like I have learned how to successfully train in challenging conditions. Here are the runs I did this week along with some tips/tricks on how I adjusted for the balmy New England weather…

 

Monday– 7 miles @ 8:15 pace HR zone 1 @ 141 = conversational pace (splits- 8:46, 8:27, 8:25, 8:19, 8:02, 8:06, 7:44)

*Tip: if it’s an easy day then RUN EASY. Watch your heart rate and don’t push at the end. Just run comfortably!

 

Lilly and I woke up early on Monday morning and drove from CT to Boston. I was able to move my 10 am appointment to 11 am and still squeeze in 7 morning miles- phew!

 

Tuesday– 10 miles of 7x hill repeats @ 8:18 pace. Body was TIRED so I took 3 miles to warm up very slowly. What a difference.

Tip: If the body says NO, then give it an extra mile to run slow/do a longer warm up and then GIVE IT A TRY. Don’t bail on a workout before you even try.

Tip: For hill repeats, MENTALLY CHUNK the workout to get through it. “Do 2 repeats then a water break… only 7 minutes of HARD work. I CAN DO ANYTHING FOR 7 MINUTES“.

Morning miles make me smile 🙂

 

Wednesday– 4.5 miles @ 9:27 pace (Recovery day, HR @ 131, miles were just to warm up legs); Strength train for 70 min.

Tip – Every run DOES NOT have to be faster than the previous one. Today’s run was just about getting out there, watching the sun rise and plodding along at whatever pace felt comfy. Didn’t look at watch. NO pressure on this one.

Two words: DRY. SHAMPOO. I got a run AND a lift in and didn’t have to redo my hair before work. BEST DAY EVER.

 

Thursday- 9.5 miles @ 8:03 pace overall- with 2×12 minutes of hard tempo intervals integrated (interval paces @ 7:04 and 6:57)

Tip: My ipod shuffle is on the fritz so I’ve been all about mantras to pull me through on the runs. Today’s mantras were “Can’t stop, Won’t stop.” and “You get what you give.” Yep, that means for 12 minutes straight I’m repeating the same statement over and over to myself. For the warm up and a cool down I look like a happy golden retriever, tongue out, wagging my tail happily all along Wollaston beach, but once that interval hits I’m out there hunting down that rabbit, focused and determined. You want to get faster? At some point it’s going to have to hurt! Welcome to tempos!

 

Friday- 5 miles @ 9:37 pace (HR @ 130)

Tip: The day after you run HARD, you should run EASY. Don’t think that you’re getting slower!! It’s what your body wants, so don’t question it.  Today I just kept on plodding along and singing my song… and it was allllll good. 😉

 

Not sure about where you live, but around central CT we got some CRAZY thunder and lightening storms on Friday night!! So crazy that lightening actually hit the neighbors house ACROSS THE STREET and obliterated his chimney!! Terrifying and awesome at the same time.

 

 

Saturday- LONG RUN 16 miles @ 8:09 pace (course went steadily downhill for 8 miles then all the way back uphill)

*Splits- 13 @ z1, 3 @ tempo/z2- 8:42, 8:35, 8:33, 8:14, 8:02, 8:04, 8:23, 8:02, 8:03, 8;28, 8:20, 8:20, 7:47, 7:59, 7:47, 713)

 

Tip- Today’s run was all about heart rate and hydration. I ran with one 10 oz handheld flask, which I refilled 2x on the run AND took in extra water at water fountains for an estimated total of 35-40 fluid oz (plus 2 GUs @ miles 5, 10). I believe I needed MORE fluid for this run due to the extreme temperature of 82 degrees, humidity @ 100% and dewpoint of 72, but I did feel good throughout the run and never bonked due to dehydration- I’m calling that a win! For HOT long runs I aim to sip water every .5-.75 miles to practice consistently hydrating throughout the run. I always plan long runs around water fountains and/or dunkin donuts to ensure access to extra fluids. All these fluids mean that I typically pee while out there; I used to be shy about this. Key words: used to be.  

Post-long run refuel: Since I didn’t have my recovery drink on-hand I focused on getting a mixture of carbs and protein in ASAP. Helllloooo toasted banana bread with peanut butter and a large glass of milk. Protein-carby galore!

 

 

Sunday– 5.8 miles @ 9:58 pace (HR @ 125) ;  same EASY EASY effort as Wednesday, but much hotter out and higher dewpoint. Focused on HR to keep it low and just plodded along happily.

I spent most of this morning sipping coffee & emailing athletes and telling them that they need to run earlier to beat the heat…. and then I went running at 8:15 am- whoopsies! Do as I say… not as I do. Sometimes.

 

Total miles – 58

All in all it’s been a great week of training. I may have had to go to bed a little earlier to be able to both run earlier and still function at work. I know I know, who needs to actually function at work? I suppose this is me trying.

On to the next week of runs that make you feel like your eye balls are melting while running —and yet in a strange way you enjoy the sufferfest- yay summer running.  🙂

 

As for today? I get to run in hilly CT and then drive back to Boston to be reunited with my mini-me!!

IT’S GOING TO BE A GOOD DAY!! <3

Never Stop Running,

Kass

Happy 4th of July!

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Stop Chasing Happiness.

What exactly is happiness? What does it look like? What does it feel like? And how do you know when you have it?

I have spent so much time of my life chasing after happiness.

Let me be the first to tell you: I’m a bonehead. For so many years I had it all wrong. Before I get ahead of myself and flip to end where I’m all enlightened and shit, let’s take a look at what went wrong, so very wrong.

I’ve met enough people to know that people approach life in very different ways: some prefer to discover their path at the same time they walk it, whereas other prefer to know their destination ahead of time and plan out their route step by step to ensure a timely completion. While some find bliss in the unknown journey, others embrace the feat of arriving at the destination. The high-strung, destination focused type- yea, that was me, times ten-thousand.

By the time I reached college I had formulated a mental checklist of accomplishments that had to be achieved in order to live a happy life.

 

The checklist: 

  1. Graduate college
  2. Fall in love and marry a good, hardworking man who comes from a good family
  3. Get a dog
  4. Develop a career
  5. Have a few babies/raise a family

 

I realize that these milestones are not particularly odd or extraordinary.  In fact I’m sure they were on your own list too while growing up- okay okay, maybe not the dog one, but most of them. It’s human to dream of and visualize the future that we want to build for ourselves. I grew up dreaming of working part time, raising two or three kiddos, baking and having a house with a lot of land far away. I wanted to be a counselor or coach of some sort. I wanted to help people, to inspire and motivate others. I longed to make a positive impression on others’ lives.

Somewhere along the line I convinced myself that accomplishing these milestones were the ingredients to a happy life. Early on the lure of the ingredients in the recipe of happiness motivated me to be dedicated, show resolve and stay the course. Armed with an arsenal of high-lighters I studied a lot- dare I say it too much in college and grad school.  Instead of being motivated by my idealistic future happiness, I became wholly unsatisfied in my present life. I began to believe that I couldn’t be happy until these mile markers were achieved. Or maybe I wouldn’t allow myself to be happy. I’m not sure exactly which one it was.

 

Feed that bergen a troll? Am I right? Amiright???

Troll-less, I was.

Empty, I felt.

Lost, I am… or maybe it’s now a was.

 

Two years ago I wasn’t necessarily “unhappy” but far too often I let my worries cloud my ability to revel in the little moments… beautiful moments like this one with Lilly.

Two years ago my happiness check-list was one baby short of completion. I nearly had it. Happiness was within my reach!!! Yet, I didn’t feel happy. I felt unfulfilled as a stay-at-home mom, then felt like the knowledge I worked so hard to earn at graduate school was seeping out my pores while working at the running store and then the worst part arose- the more interested I became in running, the more disconnected I felt with my husband. In my darkest moments I worried that I was somehow drifting backwards, farther and farther away from the life I wanted to live. I felt empty, lost and confused. How could I feel this way when the checklist was nearly complete?? Deeply unsettled I desperately tried to push these feelings down inside where no one, including myself could witness their destructive nature.

 

What did I do instead? At first I rationalized to myself that I needed one more baby and then life would feel full and complete. I even alluded to these thoughts in a post written in early September 2015; I remember going out on a run during what was many children’s first day of school. As I ran through the local neighborhoods I witnessed many seemingly happy families snapping First Day of School pictures on their front porches. I finished the run in tears and told my then husband that I wanted another baby. I didn’t feel done yet.

 

One fateful day in October 2015 the walls came tumbling down and I realized my marriage was over; it had been slowly dissolving for years, but I repeatedly ignored the signs and focused on the check-list. I held that damn check-list tight to my chest that it began to blind me to living and enjoying my life in the moment.

 

Seven months post-separation I was rattled with anxiety over now being a single mom who had to pay bills, raise a child and muster up the confidence to build a career all on her own. But what career path should I take? I could work at a college counseling center, go into private-practice, work with children or in a hospital. The options were endless. But which option would lead to happiness? Rattled with fear and anxiety, I didn’t know what to do or what path to take. I was in post-divorce shock and was starting to shut down. During the many months of job searching and cover lettering I sought out advice from my parents, my sister and even my new boyfriend Chris, “What do I need to do to be happy? I wish someone would just tell me and I’d do it! What do you think I should do??”

My parent and sister did their best to console me, advise me and point me in the right direction, but their words never truly quelled my worries. Chris said something different, something new that I’d never thought of before.

 

Figuring out how you want to live your life is a soul-searching, gut-wrenching process. Don’t rush it. But know that only YOU can answer that question….People need to stop chasing happiness. Happiness is intangible. It’s a feeling, a state of being… it’s not a badge to be earned. You don’t catch happiness, you experience it. People who chase happiness are often the most unsatisfied, and likely to be more depressed souls out there. Just live Kass.

 

His words rolled over me.. I heard what he was saying and yet it still took me another year to fully process their meaning.

I have stopped taking so many pictures. I’ve been leaving my phone at home, putting it on silent at night and disconnecting. Yet once in a while you see something magical, something you truly want to remember: Ocean Drive, Newport 2017.

 

Last Sunday I spent the night in Connecticut with Chris and Lillian. I gave Lillian a bath, read her some stories, sung her a song and put her to sleep by 7:30 pm. I walked down the stairs to find Chris but he was nowhere to be found. The sun was setting and the air felt cool. Maybe he was outside watering? Or weeding? I walked around the house in my bathrobe and nearly missed him. He was laying in the grass by the side of the house looking up at the sky. Quietly I approached him. What are you doing silly boy? …. I’m watching the planes fly from New York to Europe. And the clouds move. And listening to the birds chirp. Sit. Lay down.

So I did. I felt the breeze on my face. I watched the sun set over the horizon. Side by side in the grass, we held hands in the quiet night. For the first time in a long time I let my mind get completely lost in the moment.

The next day back in Boston I wrote Chris this poem…

 

We lay there in the grass, we two.

We lay there with absolutely nothing to do.

Nothing to do but feel the cool breeze on our skin,

And bear witness to the chirping birds filling the empty air within.

We watched the planes sail across the sky,

And gazed upon the sun-kissed clouds passing us by.

As the day turned to night we lay there in the grass, we two.

We lay there with absolutely nothing to do.

And I was sublimely happy.

 

The more I live and learn the more I realize that happiness is not a prize to be won. Happiness is allowing yourself to exist solely in the moment and allowing the warm moments in your day to surround you, fill you up and make you smile.  The mind is rarely allowed the opportunity to fixate on a single moment in time. Instead, we often churn through to-do lists for the day and fears about the future. We spend our time organizing, planning and preparing for the future- all things that are by no means “bad.” And yet all of the goals and destinations can be dangerous a dangerous game. They can make us lose sight of what is right in front of our eyes each and every day: the peaceful world during morning miles, the tickle fights between Lillian and myself, the warm hugs, COFFEE (happiness in a cup), hearing Lilly sing in the bathtub, the I love you’s and the many, many more moments that comprise a day.

It’s high time I learn how to walk the fine line of embracing the warm, cheerful moments within my day, while also setting goals for myself for the future.What’s interesting is that I’ve been able to train with this approach for a while: I train for PR’s, but I don’t approach every training run as if it’s going to make or break my marathon. That level of intensity will lead to one unhappy runner and burnout. I’ve used my run time as my morning reboot before my work day.

How will I do this with my career, my relationship, my Lilly-time? I don’t know.

But I am sure of one thing-

I’m done with chasing happiness.

 

Can’t stop. Won’t stop. Never stop running.

The Lone Runner.

 

Runners grin in full effect 🙂

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Post-Boston Training Bliss

When I’m not writing mildly depressing posts about being divorced, I’m actually having a pretty amazing time in life lately!!! Feelings ebb and flow. I’m not too shy to admit the tougher moments, but it’s also important to know that I have been making some fun memories too.

I can’t believe that it has already been five weeks since I ran the 2017 Boston marathon!! Since then I have focused on physically and emotionally recovering from training, incorporating a new strength training regime into the mix and slowly increasing my mileage back to a base of 40 miles with some, but not much speedwork built in. After such an intense training cycle for Boston (peaked around 65 miles/wk with TOUGH speedwork sessions) I typically enjoy a few weeks after a marathon to just RUN! I run however far and fast (or slow) I want and it feels good to not be tied down to a rigid plan. I relish in the few weeks off of training post marathon to be flexible and flip my run days depending on weather or parenthood schedules etc. This allows for my body to just guide the process of recovery. My post Boston weekly mileage has looked like this:

Week after Boston: 3 miles SLOW, lots of walking around Acadia National park

2 weeks post B: 29 miles (5 run days, 2 strength), NO SPEEDY RUNS

3 weeks post B: 38 miles (6 run days, 2 strength), on day 7 jumped in on Providence half and a smidge ran too fast! (see below)

4 weeks post B: 38 miles (5 run days, 2 strength), one 2×10 min tempo AND long run with 3 tempo miles

5 weeks post B: 45 miles (6 run days, 2 strength), one 2×10 min tempo AND Strawberry Shortcake 10k Race

6 weeks post B/ week of 5.22 to 5.29- recovery week with lower mileage around 30-35 miles, no speedwork

 


I’ll be honest- I’ve had A TON of fun over the past 6 weeks :).  Immediately after the Boston Marathon Chris and I drove up to Acadia National park for the rest of the week (pics above). One week. In the woods. With my guy. Perfection. Oooook, it was about 40 degrees and rainy most of the time we were there… but it added to the charm. Sort of, but not really. WHO GOES TO MAINE IN APRIL? These marathon boneheads! Oh well. haha.

 

 

We made it work. We played pool, ate his and hers mac and cheese, LOTS OF GLORIOUS CINNAMON BUNS and went hiking in ALL THE SHOES! 🙂  I’m starting to realize that it really doesn’t matter what we do, as long as we’re together. <3

 

 

Since that vacation I’ve been back to the grind at work. But there was that day that I found some cupcakes pretended to be Pusheen the cat (and proceeded to send these weird pics to the BF, naturally)… anyone? ANYONE?

 

 

A few weeks later Chris was running the Providence Marathon (yes, he did Boston in 3:06 AND Providence in 2:53, cause he’s crazy) so I decided to hop in on the Providence Half Marathon with Kristi, one of my athletes who lives in the area. We ran 8-9 miles completely conversational at an 8-8:30 pace and then started pushing the pace. We didn’t intend to go crazy, buuuuuuut we did. We crossed the finish line with a 1:45 (8 min splits) and a final mile pace of 7:20- whoopsies!! Ha!

Well, apparently my foot didn’t like adding that pressure so fast after Boston because it chirped back at me. Later that week my heel stared to feel very sore. Nothing greater than a pain of 3/10, but a dull soreness. I mention this so that others know that I don’t run “pain free.” Ha. I am pain tolerant. I’m not running through intense, tough pain, but my body told me loud and clear that it needed some attention- and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. I’ve been focused on stretching out the calf, foot and hamstring muscles and even massaging my feet regularly.

 

 

I spent mother’s day weekend with Lillian and the BF down in CT. It was low-key, just the way I like it. I spent about an hour of Friday night watching Chris mow the lawn with Lillian on his lap. I watched them go back and forth with Lilly driving, then playing “no hands” and laughing and smiling the whole way.  A simple task yet such a powerful moment for me. Simply put- I’m so thankful to have found a man who treats my daughter with such sublime adoration.

 

 

And then there was this weekend…. Chris and I ran the Strawberry Shortcake 10k in Plympton, MA. Last year we *surprisingly* won for the men and women. This year there were some very strong runners in this tiny, low-key race and we managed 3rd place womens (with a 43:15, 6:56 pace and 1:45 better than last year!! I am SO HAPPY!!!) and 2nd place men’s (with a 36:55, 5:56 pace, 6 seconds faster than 2016:)). We didn’t win, BUT we gave it all we had and ate plate after plate of victory Strawberry Shortcake at the finish.

It’s been a while since I’ve gone all in on a short race and risked blowing up but this time I felt like I had nothing to lose. I went for it and it payed off bigtime! My splits were as follows: 6:50, 7:02, 6:44, 7:02, 7:11, 6:50. My goal was to break 7 min splits. My engine was built for longer distances; 10ksand 5ks are where I truly struggle. Think about it: I can nearly run a 7:05 min/mi half marathon but can barely break 7 min splits for half of the distance! I call this race and effort a win! 🙂

 

In general things in my life have been pretty awesome. Run a few races (yay). Nab a 3rd place women’s medal (horray). Even take 1:45 off of my 10k time (yah000!!!). THEN today happened.

This section deserves a post of it’s own. However, I know my track record lately with writing, so I want to say something here and now. Last summer a blog reader, Sarah M from Rhode Island, emailed me out of the blue. She was interested in my coaching services buuuut was a wee bit apprehensive. She didn’t want to commit to training for a marathon before we had the opportunity to get to know each other and our styles/personalities.

After some discussion we settled on having her train for a 10k in Newport last December- she crushed it. In fact she crushed every single workout I put in front of her. She’s a whippersnapper she is. I’ll be honest, she made me work for my money questioning me every step of the way and I loved it! I told her to run a workout at a specific pace and she asked – WHY. She would do it, of course, but she needed to know. She was readily invested in the process and so was it. Now mind you, I had never met Sarah M before. I worked with her for 6 entire months, emailed her every single day and never met her. Training together she has PR’ed in the 5k, 10k, half-marathon and today- the marathon!!!!

I AM SO DARN PROUD OF THIS LADY! She is a hard working loving mama of 2 crazy kiddos and puts her heart and soul into running. Today she ran the Martha’s Vineyard Marathon. Today I met her at mile 21! When she made it to me she told me her stomach was off, that something went wrong back in mile 10 and she wanted to stop. HELL NO. Together we dug deep and ran it in where SARAH MOTHER F*ING M FOUGHT MILE AFTER MILE FOR A 13 MINUTE MARATHON PR and a final time of 4:45:41. She physically felt like crud for 16 miles. She even did a walk/run here and there. She is capable of much much faster, and yet today this woman proved just how important mental fitness is during a race. She simply wouldn’t give up!! So amazed. I was absolutely honored to run her in to mile 26 and watch her fly her way to the finish.

Honored to run with you today, Sarah.

Proud to call you my athlete.

CAN’T WAIT TO BRING IT ALL TO CHITOWN THIS FALL!!!

So yea, life feels pretty darn good 🙂 Want to hear the good news? Only 4 more days of work between me and my next vacation- THANK GOD! wooooooooosah!

 

Can’t stop. Won’t stop. Never stop running.

The Lone Runner