Race Report | Saucon Rail Trail 10K

Screen shot 2013-09-02 at 5.36.37 PMIf there’s one thing I’ve learned from my year of post-collegiate racing, it’s this: After crossing the finish line, head directly toward the nearest trash can or open field because I’m… about to throw up. (Don’t mind me, it’ll pass! Just gimme a sec…)

My coworker Meghan, who also won her age group at the 10K today (RW represent!), wondered out loud why we keep racing when, frankly, running so hard that you want to throw up at the finish really isn’t that much fun. Why exactly did we choose to race 6.2 miles in 90% humidity when we could’ve stayed in our cozy beds and let the thunderstorm lull us back to sleep?

Because it’s fun to test ourselves. It’s fun to be able to justify a post-race root beer float (and possibly a doughnut). It’s fun to write “PR” in your training log and decorate it with highlighters. It’s fun to endure those tough miles knowing that you might catch a second wind down the road. And it’s fun knowing that everyone around you is hurting just like you are and that they, too, made the decision to get after it instead of sleeping in today.

I know this isn’t a revolutionary realization, but today’s race reminded me that feeling like crap during a race–because let’s face it, it’s inevitable–IS FUN.

I’ll be the first to admit that there were many weekends in high school and college where I absolutely dreaded racing. Sometimes I’d be so nervous that I’d cry during warmups. Ugh.

I was afraid of the pain I knew was coming. I was afraid of the outcome, good or bad. I was afraid of what others would think of my results. I was afraid of letting myself down. You don’t need a glaring newsflash to know this isn’t a good way to go into a race.

But this morning I stood on the line with 10,000 meters ahead of me, anxious to find out what I could do. The difference between today and most of my racing career, though, was this: I was excited to see what I could do, too. I wasn’t afraid. I was confident. Granted, this wasn’t a goal race by any means, but I knew a PR and an age group (or maybe even an overall) award were within reach.

Before now, even that tiny bit of self-imposed pressure had the power to ruin a race before the gun fired. And because every race felt like the end all, be all of my running career, I was blind to the bigger picture.

A starting line is a runner’s opportunity to do something great, something meaningful. By stepping over that line, you make yourself vulnerable to both success AND failure. That moment is never wasted if you dare to cross it fearlessly in the first place. The key is to learn and grow from both outcomes. Strive for and cherish the good races; remember to accept and move beyond the bad ones.

Today was one of the good ones. I knew my legs might still feel Hood to Coast and Saturday’s 16-miler. I knew it was friggin’ humid outside. I knew that I usually avoid 10Ks at all costs. BUT I felt surprisingly fresh during my warmup, and I had a summer’s worth of speedwork and steamy lunch runs under my belt. I had nothing to lose, everything to gain.

The first three miles felt smooth and under control. I was definitely a bit fast, but lord knows I can’t go out slow and run negative splits for the life of me. I played cat and mouse with the other women around me, sticking to their hips, surging ahead before they’d pass me back. We went back and forth for the entire second half of the race. It hurt like heck, but that didn’t matter. I was competing. And it was fun. 

I even dug down deep for the final .2, missing third overall female by a second. And yes, I rushed through the chute to go gag in private and spare the poor spectating kids from witnessing a potentially nasty, but necessary scene. (Thankfully, it was a false alarm today!)

I pushed myself this morning, and it was worth it.

Annnnd an apparently meaningless 10K can inspire me to hash out the finer details of my running career. Who knew? (I certainly didn’t before I started writing this post!)

Here’s to hoping I choose to fearlessly cross many, many more starting lines knowing that I very well may end up looking like this (taken after Big Sur in April) when I finish: photoQUOTE OF THE POST: “What I’ve learned from running is that the time to push hard is when you’re hurting like crazy and you want to give up. Success is often just around the corner.” ― James Dyson

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A Spark of (Invisible) Potential

photo“The weird thing about running is how people keep running faster and faster. Take the great example of the four-minute mile. One guy breaks it, then all of a sudden everyone breaks it. And they break it in such a short period of time that it can’t be because they were training harder. It’s purely that it was a psychological barrier and someone had to show them that they could do it. It’s the same thing if you’re a runner and you’re around older runners, you just get a sense of what’s possible. You have no clue, if you’re by yourself, how fast you can run. You have no sense of what your limits are.” – Malcolm Gladwell, September 2013 issue of Runner’s World 

I read this earlier in the week, and though the realization Gladwell discusses here–that the runners already had the ability to break four minutes, they just needed to learn that it was indeed possible–wasn’t necessarily new to me, for the first time it got me thinking. This summer brought with it the re-ignition of my desire to truly train again after a year’s run-for-fun hiatus post college. (Hallelujah!) That means I want to go to the gym, I want to do speedwork, I want to log more mileage. And now I want to run fast.

Now it’s not lost on me that I’m still very much a marathon newbie. It’s a distance that just doesn’t mess around. You have to respect it. And since it’s still so new, I’m pulling numbers out of thin air when it comes to goal times and potential race paces. Yes, I have my first four marathons as benchmarks, but I’m learning from experience that those first few cracks at any distance aren’t worth fussing over when it comes to what you can do down the road.

Screen shot 2013-08-03 at 1.43.40 PMCase in point: My freshman year of college, I decided to try my hand at the steeplechase. I’m (embarrassingly) uncoordinated–this is why I run–but the challenge was exciting and new. (Trust me, when you’ve spent the last six years running in circles, mixing in a few hurdles is a welcome distraction, intimidating as they might be.) I was the lone freshman on a squad of water pit pros who could leap over the water in fluid, powerful bounds. I, on the other hand, was a pencil-diving pro. I remember thinking, Wow, I will absolutely never run as fast as those girls. I know I’ll improve, but I can’t imagine ever touching their times. This was a game of gazelles vs. baby giraffes.

3274_539101569066_5984858_nI ran my first steeple (above, laughing because I was soaked head to toe) in 12:08 and dropped it down to 11:45 by the end of the season. My teammates were running in the high 11:20s (that’s them on the left!). Dang they were quick. It might not seem like much, but over a 3K, seconds are like months. It’s tough to shave off time.

Fast forward to my junior year when one of my all-time favorite running moments happened. I won our dual meet and ran 11:23 (below). I dropped it to 11:17 at the league championships. I honestly still can’t really believe it. No, the pencil diving never improved. I don’t remember feeling like I had done anything different to get there. Sure, I had gained experience by then. But it felt more like a miracle rather than months of work paying off. Finally a good race in a sea of crappy ones.

But those magical races were few and far between in college because my head was so far up my own a** (pardon my French) most of the time no thanks to unnecessary nerves and pressure. I know my brain held me back more than I care to admit.

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Looking back on those races, I think they were hints at my true potential. But since I didn’t really see them that way, or at least fully believe that I really could run faster, I never did. I was stuck running 11:52s my senior year.

A (ridiculously fast) alum told me then and still tells me now that I could go sub-11 in the steeplechase. That’s like telling me I could run in the 3:0Xs in a marathon. (Which she reminded me of again last weekend). To me, that’s crazy talk.

In fact, one of my coworkers truly believes I have the potential to make it to the Trials if I set my mind to it. Again, say what?

Every time both of them say it without hesitation. They genuinely believe I could do it if I wanted to. She’s watched me pencil dive dozens of times, yet she still thinks I can go sub-11. He’s spent hundreds of miles watching my knees knock together, but he still thinks I can run close to a 3-hour marathon. Their faith in my potential is both unsetting and…inspiring?

I’ve spent my whole running career looking at people that spoke of my potential incredulously, like, Hey, that’s great and all, but let’s come back down to earth. Thanks. So far that mindset hasn’t really gotten me anywhere.

But what I’m starting to realize is that they have the ability to spot those sparks of potential. They have a clear view of them without all of the negative self-talk that fogs it up in my brain. Maybe it’s my year-long hiatus that’s helped me see this, who knows? I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m finally getting a sense of what’s possible. And possibly believing in it, too?

So from now on, here’s why I’m going to do to try to help me reach my potential:

  • Keep an eye out for those successful workouts or runs. I remember doing a solo 20-miler in January, and I ran every mile under 8 minutes. I’ll never forget it because when I finished I couldn’t believe I’d done it. I want to remember that run (and the other good ones) when I get to the starting line in October. 
  • Keep an open mind when it comes to race goals. That means not feeling restricted to a specific time goal or pace. I want to run by feel and go from there. If I feel good, I’ll pick it up. If not, there’s always another race.
  • Quit writing off my support group when they’re encouraging me to aim higher. Rather than putting up a barrier, I want to use those opportunities to think about what more I could do to run better.

A 7:30/mile marathon (or 7:00/mile marathon for that matter) seems crazy now. But who knows? It might not seem crazy a year or two from now! I want to leave the doors open for those opportunities rather than locking ’em shut and waiting for something to seep through the keyhole. I want to listen to the people telling me I can break through my own four-minute barrier, rather than telling them that it’s impossible. I know I can trust them since I bet they’ve been in my shoes in one way or another.

QUOTE OF THE POST:  “You have to know your body. It’s part of the beauty of the training process, and once you’ve determined how much your body and mind can take, you can then begin to reach your potential.” – Frank Shorter

On My First Group Run With My Local Running Store…

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my running group at work. It’s been over two years since I began running with them, and they somehow still make me laugh so hard. But when Hannah suggested we go to the Tuesday group run from our local running store, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet new runners and try something new. Hey, a change of pace was in order! (Pun totally intended).

Since the run on tap was only going to be three miles, I decided to run at lunch, too, so I could get in enough miles for the day. Plus, I was pretty pumped to do a surprise double for the day. Win, win all around! We arrived at the store and hung out with a few of our Rodale coworkers before the run was announced.

You can imagine my confusion when a plastic cups were handed to us BEFORE the run. What were they for? One of the store’s employees then told us that we’d be running to the river (it’s about a mile and a half away), filling our cups with water, and running back with them. The challenge? Whoever returns with the most water in their cup wins. No walking allowed.

Alright, challenge accepted. This’ll be interesting…

We took off toward the river, running at what felt like almost tempo pace. Speed wasn’t a factor in this game, but since we only had to run a tad over a mile, we ran fast. We got to the river, filled up our cups to the brim, and began to slowly…carefully…steadily… retrace our steps. It didn’t take long for us to realize this game felt like a race water stop from a nightmare.

Some of the guys covered the top with their palms, but that proved ineffective thanks to my small hands. Running unbalanced with both hands on the cup was much tougher than holding it with one hand. I tried to run (more like shuffle) as smoothly as possible, but as soon as I thought I’d found a rhythm, the murky water would slosh out. Dang it! Ha!

The competitor within made me want to run faster, so we caught up with a few of the guys in the front. We all ran through the neighborhoods, passing people sitting on their porches. Don’t mind the weird runners carrying cups of water! We’re not odd at all, I swear.

We were all giggling (with a few swear words sprinkled in when the water spilled) and it was way too much fun.

After the run, we headed to a local bar for running trivia, which, despite my occupation, I’m apparently awful at. But the evening as a whole was so awesome. It introduced me to new runners in my community–always a good thing!–and I had a blast doing it. I think the Tuesday group runs will become a regular part of my running routine, that’s for sure!

QUOTE OF THE POST: “Running is a mental sport…and we’re all insane!” – Author unknown

Packing List For Hood to Coast With NUUN

htc_300x300*** Update: This might be a tad old, but I have to say, this list totally worked. Comment below if you have any relay-related questions!

Okay, I can’t believe we’re only a MONTH away from the Hood to Coast relay with Nuun! It’s one of those things I forget about, then remember again only to become more and more excited. Oregon. Team Watermelon. So soon!

To keep me occupied until Hannah and I are finally on our West Coast-bound plane, I’m starting up this packing list (to build on this one, which also includes some tips) so I don’t forget anything. (I’m excluding the obvious things like toiletries, because, hey, we all know we need Body Glide!) I’ll keep adding to it as I think of things, and share your relay essentials, too!

1. iFitness belt (or something similar) – I carried my phone and emergency info in this just in case I got lost or had to stop. I also attached my bib to it so I didn’t have to pin/unpin it between legs.

2. Travel pillow – Sleep is key. This’ll help make that uncomfortable van a tad more cozy and make dozing off easier on the plane.

3. Car charger for your phone

4. Small towel and/or moist towelettes/baby wipes  Showers are rare, so a sweat rag is a must.

5. Flip flops – To wear between legs and in the shower if we get access to ’em!

6. Cozy clothes – Bring a sweatshirt/long sleeve shirt and sweats to change into when you’re done running. Again anything to make that van more comfy is essential.

7. Headlamp/reflective vest – Your van should provide this, but if you don’t feel like sharing sweaty gear, bring your own!

8. Three sets of running clothes – Unless you really want to pull on that stinky sports bra for round two. Pro tip from Lisa @runwiki: “Put each running outfit in a gallon-sized zip lock with the leg number on the outside. Then after you run a leg, put the wet sweaty clothes back in so that they don’t get your dry, non-running clothes wet.” ***YES! Pack your base layers (socks, undies, sports bra, singlet, and shorts) for each leg in ziplocks. Then after each leg, change into your next fresh set ASAP. Anything to keep you from feeling grimy is key.

9. Plastic grocery bags – To double as a laundry bag and keep dirty clothes separate from clean ones.

10. A layer for any weather – That means a water-resistant jacket, a slightly heavier top, maybe tights, etc. The weather can change drastically over the course of the race, so come prepared. Don’t get stuck running in freezing wind in just a singlet. 

11. 2 pairs of running shoes – Just in case it rains! (Via Jess at Blonde Ponytail)

12. Compression socks

13. Cap/sunglasses

14. Colgate Wisps – An easier solution to the toothbrush/paste and water bottle method. (Via Kimberly @healthy_strides)

And as tough as this may be (girls, I know we like to pack like this), bring only the essentials in as small a bag as possible. You’re sharing a van with six other people (and their stuff, too), so you’ll want to pack as lightly as possible.

What else should I add to the list? Let me know in the comments section below!

My Marathon Playlist: 26.2 Trigger Songs

It’s been almost two months since my last marathon. Believe it or not, all I can think about is running another dang marathon. I’ve been considering squeezing in the El Paso Marathon in my hometown between Disney and (hopefully) Boston. And thanks to twitter, I physically can’t avoid seeing everyone’s super inspring tweets about their races each weekend. (Oh and Spirit of the Marathon II literally made me want to go for a run right after the movie). Bahhh can’t Marine Corps come any faster?!? 129 days is way to far away. I’m in full-blown marathon withdrawal – it feels sort of like…taper crazies?

So with that said, here’s my not-mid-marathon-training-but-still-marathon-related post about what I call “26.2 trigger songs.” During a late-night convo with my roomie (check out her blog if you’re a fitness junkie – it’s awesome!), I realized that I have a song or two for each of my marathons that, whenever I hear it, reminds me of the race. For some, it’s a specific moment and I can picture it clearly. I’d bet I’ll forever associate those songs with each marathon. That’s why I call ’em trigger songs. Without further ado, here’s my playlist so far!

1. Steamtown Marathon, October 2012 – “Twist and Shout”


This came on around mile 24, and, despite the crazy amount of pain I was in, I began singing along, completely and entirely having a blast. Then I turned the corner away from the music and the hurt returned. Still, it carried me through some vital moments in that first, perfect marathon.

2. Walt Disney World Marathon, January 2013 – “Gangnam Style”


I will shamelessly admit that I LOVE this song. And yes, I’ll break into the dance whenever it comes on regardless of where I am. This race happened in the midst of the Gangnam craze, and it’s all Disney played all weekend long (except they bleeped out “sexy” in the chorus, so it was more like Heyyyyyyyyyyyyy…ladyyyyyyy – it was as awkward as it sounds). I danced to it in the pre-race tent, during the race, and even managed to eek out a few moves post-marathon despite my cramping legs. Way too much fun.

3. Boston Marathon, April 2013 – “YMCA” and “Thrift Shop”


This came on around mile 10 (maybe?), and I’ll never forget seeing the sea of runners in front of me throwing their arms up in the air doing the dance while running. It’s such a classic song, and it was so fun seeing everyone do it in unison.

My brother is a boss at finding songs before they become mainstream and popular. This is one of them. He’d been playing it for me when I was home for Christmas, and I always think of him when it comes on. It played a lot between Hopkinton and Boston, and I smiled to myself every time – carried me through some tough miles! Love you (big) little bro!

4. Big Sur Marathon, April 2013 “A Thousand Years”


Played by a tuxedoed man on a baby grand piano next to the Bixby Bridge, this echoed throughout the canyon at the halfway point of Big Sur. It’s by no means a “pump up” song, but given the breathtaking setting, it felt so right at that moment. And with all that happened at Boston and what this race signified because of that tragedy, this song brings me to tears without fail. I’ve heard the original Christina Perri version on the radio a couple times since then, and it instantly reminds me of how I felt in Boston and Big Sur. It’s an elegant, poignant song that makes those emotions bubble right back to the surface. Music has a way of doing that, huh?

———

I’ll update this post as I do more marathons. No doubt each will have its own trigger song.

Tell me about your trigger song moments below!

QUOTE OF THE POST: “Some people create with words or with music or with a brush and paints. I like to make something beautiful when I run. I like to make people stop and say, ‘I’ve never seen anyone run like that before.’ It’s more than just a race, it’s a style. It’s doing something better than anyone else. It’s being creative.” – Pre

What a Whirlwind of a Year

photoA couple weeks ago was my alma mater’s graduation day, and a couple weeks before that was my one-year “run-iversary” (I consider mine May 4, the day of my last collegiate race, because I couldn’t tell you what day I started running!). And somewhere in there was my official one-year anniversary at Runner’s World. Seriously, say what? It’s been a whole year?!?

The last time I spoke with my Dad, he said, “Can you believe how much you’ve experienced in just one year?”

After falling right back in sync with my college teammates like nothing had changed, like the year had been shortened to maybe a month, I genuinely can’t believe how different a runner I am today. I’m thankful to report that I’m still just as in love with the sport as I was a year ago. I’d even venture to say that that passion has grown deeper. Career-wise, to say it’s been eye-opening is an understatement.

So here’s what happened this year and a bit of what I learned along the way:

  • I helped cover two major marathons that (unexpectedly) turned into major nationwide events: At the New York City Marathon press conference, I sat beside one of my professional and running idols Amby Burfoot as NYRR CEO Mary Wittenburg announced the cancellation of one of the world’s most famous marathons. After the Boston Marathon, my post was published on runnersworld.com, and the positive feedback I received played an essential role in the healing process. Interviewing witnesses of the tragedy further helped me process all that had happened. After both events, I watched the stellar RW staff pull together two of the most powerful issues I’ll likely ever be a part of in my career. They are the very definition of professionals. I can only aspire to be even a little bit like them in the future. And in both instances, I witnessed the running community unite to support each other and complete strangers. All around, very powerful experiences.      
  • I ran FOUR marathons! I still remember the spring of last year when I registered for my first marathon. I spent the rest of the day in sheer disbelief that I’d just paid $80 to run 26.2 miles…voluntarily. Turns out, it became one of my all-time favorite experiences so far in life. 104.8 miles later, I can say I learned: that following my veteran colleagues’ advice will more than pay off, to respect the distance (feeling like crap at mile 10 sucks) but then discover that mystical “marathon magic,” that the running community is far greater and more awe-inspiring that I ever imagined, and that runners can endure far more than the 26.2 miles in front of them.
  • I started this blog! Beyond helping me grow as a writer, this digital diary has introduced me to SO many incredible runners. Having a platform to share experiences with others and compare notes on all things running has been way too much fun. (I now understand why y’all do it! =) ) I get totally engrossed reading blogs, virtually taking part in your running world. I’ve learned so much, and I’ve grown as a runner and person. I really can’t thank y’all enough for the words of support and encouragement. I hope you know that you have inspired me, too!   
  • I took up running naked (meaning sans watch, not actually naked, hah) most days and adopted what my boss calls “secondhand training.” It’s been a pretty drastic, but freeing change that’s helped me enjoy running for what it is, plain and simple. Rather that worrying over my paces or what workout is coming up on the calendar, I’ve embraced the spontaneity and learned how to love racing again. Let me put it this way: I PR’d after a day (and night’s) worth of St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans, just four hours of sleep, and arriving to the race maybe five minutes before the gun. Compare that to my college self who would hyper-worry over every pre-race meal and warmup drill. Personally, I like modern-day, let’s-just-have-fun-and-see-what-the-day-brings Megan.

And for some not-nearly-as-life-changing, but still pretty sweet highlights:

  • I ran up the Empire State Building and got my butt whooped by Kelly Ripa along the way.
  • I ran my first long-distance, over-night road relay and learned what it’s like not to shower or sleep for 30 hours straight.
  • I met the U.S. women’s marathoning trifecta: I ate Dunkin’ doughnut-holes with Shalane Flanagan, told Colt that his mommy Kara Goucher is one of my running heroes, and ran into (and probably scared the s*** out of) Desi Davila at our hotel at the Walt Disney World Marathon.
  • My current track record for throwing up after a marathon is 50/50. So there’s that.
  • I won the media heat of the 5th Avenue Mile. (It’s not as impressive at it sounds, honestly).
  • I got Nick Symmonds’ sweat on my jacket when he hugged me at the Millrose Games. He’s an incredibly nice guy, and it was very cool getting to meet him in person. (And seriously, where can I sign up to be a contestant on The Bachelor if he ends up being on the show?)
  • I lost whatever upper-body strength that I once had (and likely–hopefully?–channeled that “strength” toward those absurdly long marathon training runs).
  • I ran over the Golden Gate Bridge at midnight and through a closed-down Times Square.
  • I learned how to snot-rocket in motion.
  • I freaked out my 10-year-old self when I met “Figure it Out” (from Nickelodeon, remember that 90s kids?) host Summer Sanders and was meters away N’SYNC member Joey Fatone.
  • I’ve held an Olympic gold medal. Literally made my heart race.
  • I can now run or race at all hours of the day or night, thanks to Disney’s 5:30 a.m. race starts and the midnight relay legs.
  • I’ve done a lunch run in a tutu and did a (totally legit) stair-climb race at RW HQ.
  • I began blogging for–and therefore became friends with–Lauren Fleshman. Love this girl and everything she represents. ‘Nuff said.
  • I’ve almost gotten over being star-struck around elites. This past year, I’ve met or been in the presence of: Bernard Lagat, Meb Keflezighi, Evan Jager, Kim Smith, Alysia Montaño, Hannah England, Anna Pierce, Matt Centrowitz, Leo Manzano, Stephanie Rothstein-Bruce, Jenny Simpson, Brenda Martinez, Mary Cain, Jordan Hasay, Molly Huddle, Amy Hastings, Derrick Adkins, Dean Karnazes, (…and I’m sure a few more) and the legends Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and Katherine Switzer. Crazy.

Since it was such a whirlwind of a first year in the “real world,” I wanted to take the time to collect all that happened in one place so future me can go back and remember it. Looking back on this year, all I can say is that I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunities my work has given me and the people who I work with who have made me a better, happier runner. It’s opened my eyes to how truly unique the running community is, and I’m reminded every day of how lucky I am to be a part of it. Runners are a different, but brilliant breed. This year–maybe more than any in at least my life time–this fact was all the more apparent. And I got a front-row seat. What a whirlwind.

Here’s to another incredible year!

QUOTE OF THE POST: “Keep your head up, keep your heart strong.” – Shalane Flanagan

I’m Going #RWRunStreak-ing! (Because…Why Not?)

runners-world-rwrunstreak-pardon-my-streakingIn case you missed my tweets over the weekend and the super-snazzy badge at left (and at right and down a tad), I’m officially going to attempt the summer edition of the #RWRunStreak. After an unfortunately delayed flight home derailed my winter streak last year, I’m determined to finish at least one of these dang things. Thanks to my strong aversion to heat and humidity, I know this 39-day streak will be tougher than the winter one. But for that same reason, I want to use it to get my butt out the door during my in-between-marathons training lull. I’ll be updating this post throughout the streak to track my progress between now and July 4, so check back to see if I’m (hopefully) still on the bandwagon! And let me know in the comments section if you’re streaking, too! I’d love to have someone to vent to about the ungodly about of laundry that’s inevitably going to pile up!

So, to kick the whole thing off…WE’RE GOING STREAKING!

Day 13 Update: 62.25 Miles To Date: I’m going to kick-off this recap with wow, this streak has surprisingly gone much more smoothly than my winter streak! Heck yes! I haven’t once seriously considered quitting (granted, it has been pretty mild weather-wise, so that’s helping), and it took next to no time to just expect to run every day, no questions asked. The first few days, my absurdly inflexible hips and weak butt hurt like a mother f-er (pro tip: don’t take a week off, then do a 7-mile hill run) to the point where I woke up a few mornings and immediately felt the need to stretch out. But I mixed in a few “recovery” 1-2 mile days, and so far I’ve been in the green. I’ve done a couple 7.5-mile long-ish runs and did an impromptu 5-mile tempo run–my first in a long, long time–yesterday. Considering I haven’t done any genuine speed work in a while, it actually didn’t go half bad! So far, this streak is shaping up to be good off-season, maintain-my-strength-before-my-fall-marathon training. =) If it weren’t for my broken washing machine and the ever-growing pile of dirty running clothes (a side-effect to this streaking business), I’d couldn’t be more glad that I decided to give it another go. Until next time!

photoDay 23 Update: 103.25 Miles To Date: Hot damn people! We’ve surpassed/plowed through/cruised beyond the halfway point! Just 16 days left until the finish line. Unlike my previous update, I finally (and not really surprisingly) had some days where I thought dang, I’d really rather NOT run today. My hips have been sporadically tight (but I rediscovered my love for hurdle walkovers – had my first date in over a year with them last weekend) and my left knee has been achy, which is weird. But I’ve iced a bunch and done a few easy one-mile recovery days, and all seems to be more or less in working order. I’m trying to be smart and not hurt anything, but I’ve come too far to quit this now. On the bright side, I finally got a hard 5K effort out of my system today! I had to push my run to after work but squeeze it in before an impending flash flood. I thought about doing an easy mile and call it a day, but I felt good and decided to push it. Won’t lie, I love, love, love those days when you unexpectedly feel good! Now I need to do a real 5K! And thankfully, the washing machine is fixed. Thank. God.

Day 39 FINAL Update: 164 Miles Total: Ahhhh the streak is OVER! Can’t really believe I made it, and if anything, I emerged on the other side more motivated than ever to run. I capped off the streak with a four-mile run (for the Fourth of July, of course) in the blazing summer heat. Had I not been streaking, I likely would not’ve run at all. I even began integrating some speedwork, AND I became a member of the gym downstairs! Between my super fit roomie, watching nationals, and the fact that Marine Corps Marathon training starts on Monday (!), the need to regain some measure of upper body strength and speed has finally returned. It took over a year, but it returned. Heck. Yes. (More on this later – stay tuned). So to cap off the streak, here’s a bit of what I learned along the way:

  • Even if it was only a mile, breaking a sweat every day was wonderful and I began to crave it. Doing something physical every day was easily better than doing nothing at all.
  • Speaking of those one-milers, on days I would’ve normally “taken a zero,” seeing the sunrise over the bridge and feeling my creaky, tired legs loosen up in just 10 minutes was a surprise benefit of the streak.
  • I HATE summer running. I’m sorry, but suffering through a run in sauna-like conditions is just not appealing to me. But thanks to the streak, this summer has sucked a little less. Traditionally I take the full month of May off to recover from nine months of being in season, leaving me to deal with the heat while being out of shape. Ooof. This year I swore, never ever again. The streak helped me maintain my conditioning and make a smoother, less painful transition into the summer. I’m feeling fit and motivated to get even fitter. BAM. Suck it, summer.
  • As much as my “secondhand training” has worked for me thus far, imposing a no-excuses-you’re-running-today regimen was a much needed change of pace, especially because I was in training limbo. It kept my laziness at bay at a time when laziness could’ve easily killed my fitness.
  • The streak has proven yet again that it’s an excellent way to get back on (or stay on) the bandwagon. Before I started this streak, I said it would likely be my last, a means to redeem myself from the failed winter streak. Today, I’d say there’s a good chance I’ll do it again. I didn’t resent my committing to do it as much as I thought I would, especially since it took place during my least favorite time of year to run.

Looking forward, I hope this streak serves as a solid springboard for my next bout of marathon training. During the streak, I started integrating some speedwork and lifting. If hitting the track and gym becomes a habit, I’d be thrilled because I know both can only help in my quest to drop my marathon PR. I’m ready to get full-body strong, and the streak inspired me to really want it. And to that I can only say, “Thank you RW Run Streak!”

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