formats

Boston Bound: Meet Miss Laurie.

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It coming!!!!

It’s race week runners! I met with 24 clients this week, talked to a few potential new athletes and have one athlete racing the Newport Half Marathon and 3 athletes racing Boston. It’s Thursday night and my head is full of feelings from the day job. My belly wants all the carbs. My heart just wants to fast forward to Monday. Ahhh beautiful taper psychosis is in full effect but not just for me… for my athletes too! My inbox is FULL with back and forth threads from my Boston bound athletes pertaining to getting buses to the start, pacing, fueling and hydration plans (it’s going to be a warm one!). I love all of my athletes to pieces, but yes, sometimes I do feel like preparing marathoner’s for Boston is like trying to soothe a pair of triples to sleep in the same room. You soothe one to sleep and the other starts chirping! Haha we runners are so neurotic and I love it! Talking running is what I dooooooo! 🙂  I LOVE MY CHICKADEES!!!  <3.

This training cycle I had the honor of training three athletes for Monday’s Boston Marathon. You, my readers, have an insight into my running story but I wanted to give you the opportunity of hearing some of the other amazing stories that are out there. I have asked each of my Boston runners to write a short post about their Boston story, why they run and what they hope to accomplish on race day. I’ll be posting their stories in the next few days along with their name and bib # so you can follow them along on race day.

 

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Laurie S. (left)

Meet Laurie.

Laurie is a long-time blog reader who approached me last November via a FB message. She expressed interest in getting a coach (I’m listening...), things didn’t go well for her in her last Boston (because we weren’t training together, duh!!). Then she dropped the bomb: she is running for the mobility division, ran over 5 hours at her last Boston while limping to the finish and getting through training and the marathon injury-free is her number one priority (Whoa whoa whoa Miss. Lippy- tv time out. Whaaaat?!?). Number two? KICK ASS, TAKE NAMES AND PR (done and done). The combination of priority number one and number two gave me heart palpitations.

 

I talk a lot about coaching athletes to bend without breaking but this time I was TRULY worried that I might break Laurie. I’ll be honest- part of me was extremely apprehensive about taking Laurie on as an athlete. She was placing her marathon dreams and physical safety in my hands and I respect that as a huge responsibility.

 

One Friday afternoon in early November Laurie and I had a long conference call as I drove my bum down to CT to meet my guy. I drove and we chatted while I made my way from Boston to the CT border. Funny how when you start talking running you can talk to a complete stranger for hours :). While our back and forth emails helped me get to know Laurie I needed to hear her voice. Her voice was steady, her passion was powerful and she was determined one way or another to take revenge on the Boston Marathon course this year. During that phone call I became entranced with story and I wanted to be the one to safely coach her to her marathon dreams. So we brainstormed on how to ride the fine line of keeping her running safely, while also breaking down the walls of what she thought she was capable of. Holy wow! The results have been astounding!! Here is her story…

 

Laurie writes:

What running this Boston Marathon Means to me:

 

My story? What is my story?!? Hmmm. Well, I was born with a severe clubfoot, and my parents were told I would never walk. I have had too many surgeries to count and grew up mostly in a wheelchair. My parents drove me to be like everyone else, and would not allow me to feel sorry for myself. They signed me up for whatever the other kids were doing. I would drag my leg, I would be in pain – but I never gave up.

 

Five years ago I started pushing children who had disabilities through road races. I pushed my girlfriend’s child during a race that went from New York to Canada and by doing that I qualified for the Boston Marathon Mobility Division.

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Laurie and her son at the 2015 Boston Marathon

 

At one point in my life I was told that I would never walk and yet I have now run the Boston Marathon twice. Monday’s race will be my third and final Boston marathon. This time around running Boston means something entirely different. At mile 6 last year, I ruptured a disk in my back, fell to the ground in pain and I lost feeling in my leg and foot. The medical team came to my aid and tried to pull me off the course. I immediately looked to my son (who was my mobility division marathon guide at the time) and said

 

“In life you can choose to give up or keep going; let’s finish this.

 

I have never experienced so much pain in my life as during that marathon. Out of sheer will and determination four and half hours from that moment we crossed the finish line. Due to that injury, I still have yet to regain feeling in my thigh and cannot feel my foot hit the ground on my bad leg. In fact I had to relearn how to run without these feelings and unfortunately even more weakness in my already bad leg.

 

This leads me to my REVENGE TOUR! I am doing Boston ONE MORE TIME! This time I knew it would be the hardest thing I have ever done, mentally and physically. But I am determined to show my children that you can do anything in life you put your mind to, as well as the children born with my disability that they too can accomplish anything with no boundaries.

 

Kass has pushed me beyond my comfort zone and has helped me become comfortable being uncomfortable. She has shown me that I am capable of more then I ever thought possible and I am slowly believing it one step at a time. I have improved in such a short time, I was running 10:50 minute miles when I started training in December , my last long training run I did 20 miles with an average of 9:37 even with only running with one leg and the other leg just comes along for the ride. I will hit the starting line on Monday with my son by my side and I will take down Boston one mile at a time.

 

Boston HERE I COME! 

Laurie (bib #25171).

 

 

Isn’t she amazing?? Laurie, thank you for letting me coach you during your self-proclaimed Revenge Tour. No matter what happens on Monday it has been an absolute honor coaching you this training cycle- together we’ve seen you run your fastest mile, break your half marathon PR by over 10 minutes and safely push harder than you ever imagined for your body. Thank you for trusting me to coach you!! So. Much. Love. – Kass

 

FOLLOW LAURIE on Monday: bib #25171.

Never stop running,

Kass

 

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We are Boston Strong.

 

 

formats

How am I preparing for Boston? Let’s talk carbo-loading, relaxing and training runs.

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Run. Relax. Repeat. In Duxbury beach this weekend.

This is it! The final push! I am 7 days out from RUNNING THE BOSTON MARATHON!!!! The big training weeks are long gone, my mileage is dwindling and my doc says I have taper psychosis on the brain. How am I preparing for race day?  Aside from removing the nailpolish off of my fingers nail by nail in anticipation of race day I spent the weekend focusing on nailing down my pre-race fueling plan, getting HEALTHY again (yes, I was sick :(), nailing all of my final workouts (and no, 2 and 3 don’t go well together), and lastly- having some fun!!

 

 

Unfortunately my little Lillian got sick last week with a fever/cough so naturally I was infected with the same symptoms for the latter part of last week (let’s all take one huge ginormous sigh).  Behold the beauty of being a marathon mama. Lillian woke up last Monday morning with a fever of 102.6 and I scrambled to come up with a plan for the day.  What about my client appointments? WHAT ABOUT MY RUN??? Sick kiddos are stressful! Miraculously Lillian’s dad and I were able to come up with an arrangement that worked for both of us and most importantly for Lillian with a side bonus of me getting in my run! Phew!

Everything worked out perfectly until I came down with a similar lower grade fever/cough combo on last Thursday. I was supposed to run an 8 mile tempo run on Thursday- I didn’t (I ran 4 easy on the tread and then put myself out of my own misery). I planned on completing 5 easy miles on Friday- I didn’t and –GASP- I TOOK THE DAY OFF!!! Even though my fever didn’t spike as high as Lillian’s I felt run-down by the end of the week.

Feeling a little bit better on Saturday morning I attempted my final longer run of the training cycle (14 miles with 2 x 3 miles at goal marathon pace). Just one mile in I felt it tin my bones that attempting to run that intense workout was going to be a bad idea. My body was achy. My lungs felt tired (? is that a thing? I’m making it a thing.) My feet were slapping the pavement with no pep in their step whatsoever. Begrudgingly I bailed on the planned workout and just ran easy… or what should have felt easy, but really didn’t (8:30’s give/take). Altering a workout mid-run is not a decision I take lightly, however this run needed to be altered into a “run as you feel” run. Yes, it would have been nice to nail the splits on my final workout and have another boost of confidence, but my body was still recovering from the cold and emotionally I just needed to be outside and run. I have been working hard this training cycle, this I know. The work has been done. The hay is in the barn. So on Saturday I did something I rarely do: I changed the workout on the fly and just let my body run whatever pace it needed to.

I followed Chris around parts of Hingham, Norwell, Scituate and Cohasset feeling like crud …. and then we approached what looked like a river flowing through our path in Wompatuck state park. I stopped, paused my garmin and screamed, “What are we going to do???? We’re 9 miles out but we can’t go this way!!” I proceeded to watch my insane boyfriend slow down to a walk and walk his way through the small river that came up to his knees. Naturally, I followed while screaming out in pain from the FREEZING COLD WATER!! The man may be crazy but I’m crazy about him! Once we made it to the other side of the mini-river we took our squishy water logged shoes for the remaining 5 miles and ended up laughing most of the way back. What a run!

 

What were my goals again??

 

Goals

1. Stay healthy not really, but I’m DEFINITELY on the mend now 🙂

2. Nail splits not quite, but I still have 2 more mini “workout” sessions this week

3. Nail down pre-race carboloading

4. Have some fun!!

 

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Spending Saturday night with my guy in Bertucci’s in Kenmore Square = one happy marathoner

 

Since my first two goals didn’t quite pan out… I spent the rest of the weekend focusing on nailing down my pre-race dinner options at having some fun!! I took Chris out to Bertucci’s in Kenmore Square for his birthday dinner!! There we explored the many options that they have available that are ideal for a pre-marathon meal.

 

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From left to right: Chicken, Broccoli and Rigatoni, Shrimp Scampi and Four Cheese Ravioli

 

We noshed on lunch portions of Rigatoni, Broccoli and Chicken in a white wine garlic sauce, Sauteed Shrimp Scampi in a lemon wine sauce and Four Cheese Ravioli. Chris and I are big on pre-marathon carbo-loading so checking out Bertuccis’ pre-marathon meal options was a must!! Honestly? The Shrimp Scampi blew me away with its flavor and small hint of spice so much so that I wouldn’t share with Chris :). Oh well, he had two other dishes to call his own. I tend to stay away from meals involving a lot of cream and fat the night before the marathon so these options were perfect as they were high in carbs with a side of protein.  The dinner was absolutely delicious from start to finish as we were welcomed by warm rolls with dipping oil, pasta dishes perfect for our future in marathon carbo-loading and excellent service by manager Rob Miller throughout the evening. We also found out that Bertuccis is paying homage to its Boston roots by taking 26.2% off of all dine-in-dinners the night before the marathon- time for #allthecarbs !! Thank you to Bertucci’s for hosting us this evening!

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The Bertucci’s in Kenmore Square is located directly on the Boston Marathon route- right about mile 25. Go in on Marathon Monday and tell him hello and that Kass wants more peanut butter pie! Muhahahaha! ALL THE PIE!

 

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Remember that time we went to a concert, stood for 4 hours, DIDN’T DRINK, stayed out until midnight and then woke up the next day in SO MUCH PAIN we felt hungover? Ahh memories.

 

 

After dinner Chris and I walked over to the House of Blue to watch Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness in concert. Now I’m not much of a concert person. Correction: I’m not much of a “Leaves the house after 7 pm” person so going to a concert is BIG for me. The crowd. The noise. The not-sitting. Yea. Not me. BUUUUUT What is me is bopping around signing to good music- so thankfully we were able to make this adventure worth while. My ties with Andrew McMahon are super random (in that my grandpa was super close with Andrew’s wife’s grandpa… I told you it was random), so basically Andrew’s wife and I are family friends. Every time his band comes to town I try to get my bum off my couch to come see him play some kick-ass tunes. And guess what? Now his stuff is on the radio!!! You might know these tunes of his: Cecilia and the Satellite and Fire Escape.  Not only was it great to see Kelly, Andrew and Cecilia again this tour but it was AWESOME to get out of the apartment and do something completely different and non-running related!! Believe it or not- everything in my life doesn’t revolve around running… just 99.9%.  I guess I just did my one non-running thing for the year. Guess I’ll just have to start training for Chicago immediately after Boston :).

 

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Andrew crowd surfing in a big rubber duck, naturally.

 

On Sunday morning (cough cough, 11:30 am) Chris and I decided burn off Saturday’s food fest at Bertucci’s with a run in Duxbury! Neither of us have ever been to Duxbury before so we went to explore the beak, soak up the sun and test out our legs for the big day.  After three groggy miles my legs decided to show up for the first time all week and I FINALLY hit my ideal zone 1/goal marathon pace splits (between 7:45-7:50) with some ease. PHEW!! Sunday’s workout was intended to be a very comfortable 6 miles. Even though I wanted to go longer I held back because…. IT’S TAPER TIME!! I keep reminding myself: You’ve done the work. You’ve put in the miles. NOW just go and HAVE FUN!!

 

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Powder point road/ wooden bridge to Duxbury beach.

 

We are one week out from BOSTON and I’m getting chills!!

IT’S ALMOST TIME TO MARATHON!!

xoxo

Never stop running,

Kass

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formats

Eastern States 20 Miler.

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Me, my furrowed brow and the bf looking dreamy.

 

*Mile 12*

Our Garmin’s chirped in sync and he muttered, “7:36 for that one.” I impulsively exclaimed, “Too fast, that’s too fast. I can’t sustain that pace.”  “Yes you can. You are. Your breath is even, your arms are loose. YES YOU CAN.” I glanced down at my HR to reveal a 151. It’s exactly where I wanted and planned for it to be and yet the thought of running 7:36s or faster for the remaining 7 miles just seemed terrifying. Chris noted, “Focus on your breathing. It’s calm and it’s even. You got this.”

Do I? I do. But do I?? Can I run the remaining  13 miles at a 7:36 or faster? I can, at least I think I can. He’s right. My breath is even. The effort is entirely manageable. The heart rate is exactly where it needs to be and I feel completely in control of my body. Shit- the man is right!! I’m going to negative split  a 20 mile race!

 

Boston Training

For the past five months I have been following a customized training plan leading up to the 2017 Boston Marathon. I’ve been building my mileage from 40 miles a week up to 69.6 miles last week (and yes it physically pains me that I am missing that final .4). I’ve been completing tempo runs, hill workouts and track workouts that slowly but surely build on their difficulty to get me faster and fitter with each successive step. I’ve spent A LOT of time leaning into the pain, learning how to push HARDER and FASTER to uncover my fitness from my last marathon training cycle (Boston 2016). I’ve focused on hitting paces during tempos- aiming for 20 minutes at 7 min pace or faster! Hitting mile splits at 6:40 or better. Doing SO MANY hill bounding reps that my legs just want to fall off, but no- maybe I’ll just vom instead. All of these workouts and the miles have pushed my fitness ceiling higher and higher. In the past few weeks I’ve even lost a few pounds- not for lack of trying to eat everything in sight- I swear. The miles are adding up and the fitness is there; yes, I’m feeling Boston ready!!!

However, I’m leaving something major out of this pretty picture that is my training plan- something critical that I feel is beginning to make all the difference in my running and racing: I’ve started to train with an eclectic running philosophy that incorporates heart rate based training, pacing expectations for specific workouts and places a strong emphasis on biofeedback. Before you simultaneously yawn and close your browser give me a chance to explain what on Earth I’m rambling about! Heart rate based philosophy gives runners specific effort zones within which all of their runs should fall. Following your custom HR zones (b/c they are unique to the individual) will absolutely improve your fitness. I’ve seen it. I’ve done it. I’ve started a training cycle where I go out for a zone 1/conversationally paced run and my pace is 8:50 avg and then by the end of the training cycle I complete a zone 1 run with an average pace of 8:05. No joke, this training approach works.

 

My zones are as follows: 

Zone R/ gentle recovery days: Below 131

Zone 1/ conversational pace: 136-148 –  141 is the middle

Zone 2/ tempo: 149-160

Zone 3/ speedwork/ HARD tempo runs: 161 +

 

I have used these HR zones to structure my runs for the past 3 years and WHAT a difference it has made. But I believe that the human body is too complex to have such stiff numbers attached to it all the time. HR zones provide an excellent guide for an athlete, but are they the be all and end all? I don’t think so. Enter pace goals on training runs. Once I established a solid base of miles and completed about 2-3 months of tempo runs to heart rate my coach Beth started integrating goal paces for my tempo runs. It didn’t matter if my HR went into zone 3- Once she was confident that I was durable and my body could handle the intensity of harder workouts my mission was to squeeze out every last drop of energy during my tempo runs  and long runs. She had me reaching for 15 mile runs with the final 3 miles at a 7:10 pace or 2×20 min tempos with 7 min pace or faster. These paces terrified me, and yet time after time I was able to deliver on the day.

But something was still missing and I think – maybe- this is where Beth and I started to part ways. While Beth wanted my 2 recovery runs of the week to have an average HR of 125 (which translates into about a 10:15 pace) week after week my legs just naturally went to a 9:30-9:45 pace. This felt EASY to me. It was where my body naturally wanted to go when I told it to go trot along, smell the flowers and just relax. Mind you, this pace was still within my ZR heart rate zone but closer to the top at 131. Beth and I went back and forth on this often. She told me to slow down and I told her that it took more mental energy to slow down than it did to just run how my body wanted to run. Who was right? Who was wrong? I honestly don’t know. I’m not saying that running “my way” is better or right– (I mean, Beth has won and placed at her fare share of Ironman competitions! She’s a beast on the road and a hell of an amazing coach!!) but I am saying that running to feel seems to work for me both mentally and physically.

My body always tells me how it feels.  This training cycle I started to actually listen.

And that brings me to my third point: biofeedback. This cycle I have focused on becoming attuned with my body. I spend my runs listening to the sound of my breath (how deep/shallow? how long? How labored?), focusing on the tightness or soft nature of my chest/lungs and even honing in on the difference between true pain and annoying fatigue during long runs. I give my body about 2 miles (15-20 min) of nearly every run to simply wake up with ZERO pace expectations. What will be, will be. Then I focus on finding that rhythm, that groove, that natural turnover in my legs. I let it naturally unfold within my body. Ahhhhhh! The moment my legs turnover like a ferris wheel at the height of it’s ride, my eyes wide with excitement and yet my breath is calm and steady- THAT MOMENT RIGHT THERE is my happy place!! It’s the middle of my Zone 1. My “I’m not holding back, but I’m not pushing forward.” It’s my forever pace.

I haven’t spent months searching for my forever pace, rather my forever feeling. Since my forever pace is fluid and dependent on my level of fitness, I have spent time learning HOW MY BODY FEELS when I’m running comfortably.

Heart rate. Pace. Biofeedback.

Taken together I used all three to JUST PLAIN NAIL the Eastern States 20 Miler last weekend. I say this with such fervor because I didn’t realize what I was doing until it was done: I negative split a 20 mile run.  I felt strong. I felt confident. I felt IN CONTROL. I’m still in a bit of shock because honestly- it felt like a once in a lifetime run that came together!!

 

The race

At the race start I was your typical female mess. Honestly- I wasn’t even worried about the race. I was being a royal B anxious hot mess  delicate flower of a woman and needed some reassurance from my guy. And deliver he did, cause he always does <3. Replacing my furrowed brow with giggles is his specialty and by the start of the race I was feeling more focused and ready to run.

My plan was to run the first 10 miles in my zone 1 (at a conversational pace), 7 miles in zone 2 (my tempo pace, 2-3 words at a time) and the final 3 miles in zone 3 (DEFcon 3, vom pace, give it all you got until you cross that finish line, NO talking ONLY thumbs up to others).

 

My plan was awesome (obviously). It was perfect for me and my level of fitness and better yet I felt confident that I would be able to execute. It was perfect UNTIL lots of other runners started passing me in the first two miles. Did I say a lot of runners? Yea, I mean HUNDREDS of other runners passed me and I hated it. I 100% absolutely hated being passed by every singly runner out there. Each time I was passed I swallowed by pride, looked at my watch (which displayed HEART RATE, not pace) and reminded myself that I needed to run MY race.

Run your own race. Stay comfortable. HR needs to be at 140-142. Focus. Just find a groov

As each mile ticked by Chris’ watch would ding and he read off the mile split. 8:03…. 7:59….7:56… 

By mile 9 the pace descended to a 7:47 with a corresponding average HR of 146. For the next 8 to 10 minutes shit got REALLLLLLY close to the fan. It didn’t touch it. I swear to you that there was no splatter involved, but damn close it got! My hamstring in my right leg cramped up BAD. I seriously considered stopping to stretch it just to alleviate the tension. Naturally I started giving my body my version of a mid race pep talk, “Fuck you!! Fuck you!!” (Note: don’t scream F you when you’re running a 20 mile race with your BF.) Chris once again reassured me, “Your pace hasn’t changed. You’re still running in the 7:40’s. Your turnover is balanced and even.” Isn’t he so dreamy? (but seriously, I love when he talks running to me).  The man was right again- doh! I didn’t know what was going on in my body but I refused for it to mess up this race. I got quiet, subtly altered my gait to lean forward to possibly slightly alleviate the tension and went into the recesses of my mind to state, “Left foot, right foot, repeat.” My thoughts were focused on #1 not panicking and #2 refinding my rhythm on the road. By mile 10 my body started to cooperate- crisis averted.

By mile 12 the pace descended to 7:36 with a corresponding average HR of 151. I panicked and errupted, “Too fast, that’s too fast. I can’t sustain that pace.”  Right by my side, Chris reassured me,”Yes you can. You are. Your breath is even, your arms are loose. This isn’t hard for you. YES YOU CAN.”  The man was right. In my mind the pace was unsustainable, but my body, my HR and even my BF were telling me a different story. I pushed onwards.

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Mile 16. Finding a groove.

At mile 15 Chris went on his way to finish up the remaining 5 miles at his own marathon pace. Alone. I was left alone without any outside reassurance and yet by this time I didn’t need any. I had this. I ate my 3rd and final gu and leaned into the pain. All my thoughts were focused on getting to mile 17. Get to 17. Just get to 17. Why? Because at mile 17 I only had a 5k left. Just 20 minutes. Twelve laps around the track. Shorter than my easiest recovery run up Sea Street to Hough’s Neck where you can see the pretty view of the Boston skyline in the distance. Just a 5k left baby!! I can run a 5k in my sleep. Giddy-up!!!

At mile 17 I gave it all I had left: 7:17, 7:19, 7:17 and a corresponding HR of  162, 163, 166. My breathe was labored. My arms were stiff and probably too high. I was counting down the minutes. I focused on getting through one more song on my iPod and then another 4 minute song and then another. But I did it- I negative split a 20 mile race and better yet- in the final 8 miles I passed what felt like hundreds of other runners!!

I finished with a final time of 2:34:46 on my watch and a 7:40 average pace per mile for the run.

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Hey mom, I ran from Maine to Massachusetts!! Kinda cool!!

As we all are, I’m a work in progress as a runner, but I have to say DAMN!! What a day!! The Eastern States 20 Miler was a win! Physically. Emotionally. Romantically (mostly because the man put up with me for 15 miles, 5 of which with a furrowed brow of anxiety) <3.

 

 

It’s been one year since I’ve completed a marathon (Boston 2016) but this time something feels different. I feel different. I’m ready to listen to what my body has been telling me all along: how to run both smart and hard. I’m still teasing out a game plan for Boston pacing but you can be sure it will incorporate the big three: HR, pacing and biofeedback into the mix. Sadly, I’ll be flying sans man meat for these splits. I’ll be starting in Wave 2, corral 8 as the bf chants SHAME in my general direction before he leaves to take off in Wave 1, corral 1. Then again, I guess I will be surrounded by about 40,000 of my other best friends.

GUYS, I’M FEELING BOSTON READY!!

LET’S DO THIS THING!!

LET’S RUN OURSELVES A MARATHON!!

 

Never stop running,

The Lone Runner

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If you read to the end then I’m super impressed- thanks for reading!! 🙂