Category Archives: Running

Lessons From My Marathon One Year Later

March 26th 023

This weekend marks a year since my first marathon. It’s true what they say: Hindsight is 20/20. I feel like a much stronger runner than I was then physically and mentally; I’ve learned a lot about running from doing things right and doing things wrong. And since I want to get better and run a third some day, it feels right to reflect on the things I’ve learned and put the words onto paper—or a blog post, at least.

Listen To Your Body

It sounds simple, but this is probably what runners are worst at. Listen to your body and back off as soon as you feel an injury coming on. I wasn’t a very strong runner for my first marathon having just came back from a stress fracture and now whenever I feel shin splints acting up I know well enough to stop. You can always find something else to do and run the next day, or next week—it’s all better than injury.

August 22nd 162

Diet Matters

If you eat a lot of sugar and fat, your long run the next day is probably going to be great. If you eat a lot of sugar and fat every day and aren’t training hard for anything, you’re just going to get fat. A year ago I was running at roughly a 10:00min/mile using the Galloway method. For my 2nd marathon I ran at a 9:00min/mile pace. Now that I’m not training for anything I average an 8:00min/mile. The difference is less fat and more muscle, which all boils down to diet for me.

All Cardio And No Strength Makes A Sorry Runner

I love running. I’d run every day if I could. But my legs would get sore and my arms would get small and I’d look like an orc extra from a Harry Potter movie. Not only does having extra muscles make you look better, it gives your legs a break and keeps your body overall fit. It doesn’t even matter what you do so long as you do something; I’ve done the gym-machines-thing, the Shred, and now I pretty much stick to yoga. The only time my results change is when I start slacking. The one thing that hasn’t changed is that I’ve been getting faster since I’ve started.

Right now I don’t have any more marathons planned. But I know as long as I keep these things in mind I’ll be in my best shape and the next marathoner can only be better.

Philadelphia Marathon Recap

8 months ago I ran my first marathon. I swore I would never do it again… and then I signed up for the Philadelphia marathon 5 days later.

August 22nd 142

What made me change my mind so quickly? I got injured really early during training for my first marathon and was really lucky just to be able to finish. Originally I had hoped to run under 4 hours but learned to live with 4:19:37… or at least for 5 days.

The Philadelphia Marathon appealed to me because it was a big marathon in the North-East region which has no registration standards or lottery. It also helped that Fall in the North-East is perfect for distance running and Philadelphia is fairly flat. I came down in April and ran a 16-mile run here along Kelly Drive, which ended up being the same route as miles 13-17 and 21-26, so that worked out pretty perfectly.

As for training, I posted my plan here but the core of it was fitting in 3 20-mile runs. This didn’t really make me feel 100% prepared for the marathon; then again, knowing me, the only way I would have felt prepared is if I had run a practice marathon and in the time I was aiming for, which is usually considered excessive as far as training plans go. What the 3 20-milers taught me was that 2:50:00 was a reasonable 20-mile time for me and that if I did that I could drop my pace significantly over the last 6 miles and still make my goal, so that was more or less my marathon strategy.

Funny Encouragement Ecard: Good luck not hitting the wall and shitting your pants in public.

Fueling during the race became my biggest obstacle to overcome(you can skip this paragraph if you don’t want to hear about bathroom talk, but I’d say it’s a pretty big deal when it comes to marathons). I have GI problems when I’m not traveling 5 hours and anxious about running a marathon; this weekend threw my body off way off. I ate oatmeal and some almond butter a few hours before the marathon, tried to go to the bathroom and no luck. I knew drinking water or Gatorade or a GU during the race would send me racing for a porta-potty and use up time I didn’t have, so my plan ended up being drinking as little as possible for the first 20 miles. This might sound crazy, but since I never ate or drank during my 20-mile runs, it wasn’t a huge shock to my system. And the cool weather helped since I wasn’t sweating much.

Nov. 21st 080

The first 6 miles or so were pretty crowded and it was hard to go ahead of many people. Normally this would be a bad thing but I think the crowd helped to pace me and prevent me from going out too fast at the start.

The next 7 miles people started breaking up. It made it a lot easier to find a comfortable running spot. It was pretty noticeable when the half-marathoners split off from the marathoners but there were a surprising number of full runners so the course didn’t feel empty at all after the break.

Miles 13 through 18 were surprisingly good. It felt like I had picked up my pace a bit and was passing a lot of people. It really helped that Kelly Drive was flat and that I had ran it before so I had an idea of what to expect.

18-20 had us go down through Manayunk and back. This is when I first started feeling exhausted. I tried to drink a cup of Gatorade and water and later an orange slice from a spectator which helped a little; still I knew I couldn’t overdo it on the liquids if I wanted to avoid using the bathroom. The crowds down at this part were great and kept everyone’s spirits up. When I checked my watch I realized I finished the first 20 miles in around 2:53, so just around goal.

The last 6 miles were by far the toughest. I think there are two halves of a marathon: The first 20 miles and the last 6.2. My legs were exhausted and I was definitely in need of more electrolytes. I tried to zone out into my playlist as best I could to not obsess over how much longer it was. I remember seeing that I had almost an hour to run 5 miles and figured I was in good position. Still, my pace dropped by about a minute each mile because I just didn’t want to go on anymore.

When I got to the last 5k I told myself it was only 30 more minutes of hell. I thought about taking walking breaks but questioned if I had time for them. I settled into a 10 minute/mile running pace for the last couple of miles telling myself it would only be 20 minutes of hell and that was do-able. As cliché as they are, the signs that said “Pain is only temporary” really helped me through this part and reminded me that if I couldn’t hold out for the toughest part than what was I training for all this time? There were also a ton of people cheering the last .75 mile so that helped to keep me going, and once I could see the finish I just took off and forgot my legs hurt at all.

Nov. 21st 021

I knew as soon as I finished that it was faster than 4 hours. After drinking a bottle of water and a cup of Gatorade, I checked online and saw that my official time was 3:52:17. That couldn’t have been a bigger relief.

Funny Encouragement Ecard: Best of luck finishing a marathon that doesn't involve episodes of Law & Order.

Now that I have a sub 4:00 marathon under my belt, I’m not rushing to sign up for another any time soon(don’t quote me on that in 5 days). But really I don’t have any more running goals in mind at the moment, so if I did train for another race it’d be more for the fun of it. You call a marathon a lot of names when you’re running it; “fun” isn’t one of those.

Philadelphia Marathon Update

Funny Encouragement Ecard: Good luck not hitting the wall and shitting your pants in public.

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about my marathon training lately, questions like “Are you still running that marathon?” or even “You’re running a marathon? Since when?” Oops. I guess that’s a fair thought since I haven’t mentioned this in months. Hopefully this will satisfy any questions.

For those of you who don’t know, I really like running and even ran a marathon last March. It wasn’t the marathon of my dreams, but I finished; getting over an injury and training in just 12 weeks made my original goal of a sub-4:00 marathon overambitious and while I proudly finished it was no picnic. I even told myself while I was still running “I’m never doing one of these again.” And then 5 days later I signed up for the Philadelphia marathon on the first day of registration. Here we go again.


From the National Marathon expo with Madeline and Holly

Since there were almost 8 months in between registration and race day, I didn’t think about training for most of the Summer. I decided that training would begin the day of a local half marathon I was running for fun. A week after that I went to Philadelphia for the Healthy Living Summit and to scope out the city to get a feel of what it would be like for the marathon.

Sun Mon Tues Wed Thu Fri Sat
13.1 Fitness 24 (Bike) Rest 10 Rest 10
Fitness Fitness 10 Rest Fitness Rest 16
Rest Rest 12 Rest 10 Rest 10
Fitness 10 Fitness 25 (Bike) 10 30 (Bike) Fitness
Rest 10 Fitness 10 Fitness Fitness 12
Fitness 10 Rest Fitness Rest 17 Rest
Fitness 10 Rest 10 Rest Fitness 12
Fitness 10 Rest Fitness Rest 20 Fitness
10 Fitness Rest 10 Rest Fitness 10
Fitness 10 Rest Fitness Rest 20 Fitness
10 Fitness Rest 10 Rest Fitness 10
Fitness 10 Rest Fitness Rest 20 Fitness
10 Fitness Rest 10 Rest 13.1 Fitness
10 Fitness Rest 10 Rest 10 Fitness
8 Fitness Rest Fitness Rest Rest Rest


I wouldn’t say I’ve really been following a training “plan” since then, though here’s what my routine has looked like. I knew I wanted to fit 3 20-mile runs into this training cycle and built the rest of it around that and to fit my schedule. Besides the long runs I do, the rest of my workouts are pretty standard. As anyone can see from looking at this I love running 10 miles and easily fall into a routine.

So what is “Fitness”? Since I’ve been trying to burn fat and build muscle over the past 8 months or so, I’ve been doing more cross-training with weights. When I didn’t have a gym over the Summer, I got accustomed to doing Jillian’s Shred(which I highly recommend) followed by a 25-minute yoga routine with plenty of lifting. Now that I have a gym membership again, I usually do 20 minutes of HIIT on the elliptical and 30 minutes of free weight exercises which I basically stole from all 3 levels of Jillian’s Shred so I won’t go into describing them.


The runs this time around have been nothing but stellar—a complete 180 from my last training cycle. Since my goal is a sub-4:00 marathon, I’ll need to run at or below a 9:00 pace, which has been no problem as of lately. The one 20-miler I’ve done so far I finished almost 30 minutes faster than the 20-miler I ran back in March in preparation for my first marathon. Where is this speed coming from? I don’t really know.

With the marathon 6 weeks from today I’m feeling confident, maybe even a little cocky. My first 20-miler was a breeze and I’m hoping #2 and #3 will be even faster. My pace has quickened significantly lately even on the days I’m feeling “off” and I have no clue why. Maybe it’s the cooler temperatures, maybe I’m getting faster, or maybe the cross-training is working.

Funny Seasonal Ecard: The arrival of sweater season has coincided perfectly with my new habit of eating every carb I can possibly wedge inside my body.

One speed bump I have hit lately is eating healthy in the month of September. In between moving back to Providence and new stresses appearing there were a lot of times last month where I wasn’t making the best decisions. Even though my runs have gotten faster, a lot of the muscle definition I built up over the Summer went away over night(or over 30 nights). Since last weekend I’ve made changes to try and eat better to burn fat but still fuel well for workouts which has been nothing if not a learning process. But that can wait for another post.

If you want to stalk follow my training more closely, friend me on Dailymile. I’m also happy to answer any further questions below in the comments.




Plant-Based Diet: An Update

May 13th 030

We’ll get to that in a minute.

Back in April I posted about a plant-based diet to get back into shape after a rough 4 months or so.

And then I fell off the wagon that weekend. I had some excellent chicken dishes at the Elephant Walk and later the best raw dessert from Wildflour Bakery and other stuff I don’t really remember. But I didn’t want to stop trying then so I put on my big boy pants and made a salad.

May 13th 009

Lots of them, actually. A typical meal has become vegetables, roasted or sautéed, with some beans or a few eggs. If I cooked an egg any way other than frying it I’m sure that’d be healthier but fried is perfection. Who can argue with that?

May 13th 014

Oh an I drink a lot of these, too, “for my health”. They just taste so good.

Anyone, if you asked me I wouldn’t say I feel or look any different. Everyone says “Start a plant-based diet and you’ll suddenly have so much energy.” I’ve never been a bounce-off-the-wall person before and I’m still not.

But then something funny happened this week. Tuesday I casually ran 10 miles in just under 1 hour 24 minutes. That same course took me over 5 minutes longer a month before. Then, 2 days later, I ran it again in 1 hour 25 minutes, like I do this every day. I don’t. Or I didn’t, but now I do? And I’ve been increasing the weights I lift, too, so I must be doing something right.

May 13th 023

That’s not to say I eat perfectly by any means. I eat chocolate all too often. I have honey by the spoonful when I’m bored or stressed. And I eat giant slices of vegan/gluten-free pound cake from Wildflour when I’m done with exams. It’s vegan so there must be plants in there somewhere. But progress is progress, and this is an update, not an end.

And now I’m off to run. I hope I don’t run too fast and taste cake. Or maybe I do.

10 Things My Marathon Taught Me

1. Now is the time to eat those cupcakes.

March 26th 012

I’m an avid believer in carboloading for anything. Got a big test? Carboload. It’s a Tuesday night? Carboload. 11am? Carboload. But for racing it’s actually encouraged and socially acceptable, so grab a few friends and dig into dessert together.

2. Don’t plan anything for the rest of the day. Or week.

I was most sore immediately following my race(actually, I was really sore miles 20-26 but I don’t think that counts). I walked like I was in a Western and looked bad enough for people to give me their seat on the train. Looking back, planning a lunch and dinner after the race was a little overambitious. I’d recommend planning a day in bed with a Law and Order: SVU marathon(that’s my kind of marathon).

3. A kickass playlist really does matter.


I don’t know how people run a whole marathon without headphones. I’d get bored and probably quit at mile 4. Music really helps me zone out and push forward. A lot of time I had this conversation in my head: “Another hill? I don’t think I can do it. I don’t think…*Britney Spear’s new single begins to play* I’ve got it in me. I can do this.”

4. Porta Potties are hot commodities.

At my marathon there were about 15,000, and that many people needed to use the bathroom. I should have waited in one of the lines at the start line because even with porta potties every other mile they were filled up. Eventually I stopped and just waited in one of the lines because when you have to go you have to go. I learned you need to practice and plan your bathroom breaks as much as you do for the running.

5. Vanilla bean GU is freaking delicious.

April 1st 004

I was always under the impression GU was a nasty, vile mix of chemicals with a taste to match. It’s still a mix of chemicals, but I was shocked at mile 18 when I had my first taste of it and thought it was better than anything I’ve baked lately. It actually tastes like vanilla beans! I grabbed extra and have been hoarding them since the race for a night I want them as dessert… I hope I’m not the only one.

6. A good cheering crowd makes all the difference.

The loneliest miles were the ones without people shouting and cheering on the side lines. Even the people who don’t know you support you through the endeavor and that’s worth more than anything. I can’t thank enough the people who stood in the cold holding signs that said “You have a nice ass” and “That’s What She Said” shouting “This is as hard as it gets”. I do and it was.

7. The last thing you need after running a marathon is someone to surprise you with a camera to capture how miserable you look.

3008 Course

Race pictures are a cruel joke. Nobody looks good in them because you don’t expect it and don’t have time to prepare. Instead, get a friend to wait by the finish line to take your picture as you pose for free. Bonus points if they bring wet wipes to wash your face and make you look halfway decent.

8. A marathon medal goes with anything.

Whether you’re wearing a sweatshirt, jacket, denim(don’t wear denim) the marathon medal is going to match it for that weekend so wear it proudly. Just remember to take it off at airport security; they get touchy about things like that.

9. You’re going to be hungry for the next week.

March 27th 140

Just go with it.

10. You’re going to want to do another one.

I’ve already forgotten how much it all hurt, how I’m actually still injured, how it sucked to stay in Friday nights to dedicate Saturday morning to long runs, and how much it all costs. 5 days after running my first marathon I went ahead and signed up for my second. What was I thinking?