Saturday, April 16, 2016

Here I Go Again!

Disclaimer: I've decided not to reread my old posts before writing this one. I thought about starting a new blog, but really, I'm just too lazy to come up with a new name.

6 year summary: 2010 was my biggest year for running, logging over 80 miles over three half marathons, one relay race, one sprint triathlon, and one marathon. 2011 wasn't much different, at 58 race miles. 2012 was about 70 miles, and included my second marathon. After that it went downhill. I began a Master's program in Speech Language Pathology in Fall 2013, where running quickly dropped down on my list of priorities. I did two half marathons in 2014 and one half marathon in 2015. I graduated in August 2015 and have been attempting to get back into running since then.

When I began running back in 2009 after moving to Boston, I got bit by the running bug after signing up for my first half marathon, the Hyannis Half Marathon, which takes place at the end of every February on Cape Cod. After succumbing to my new life as an addicted runner, a coworker sent me a link to one of her favorite blogs, No Meat Athlete. I read the following post by the writer:, and thought, dear god I want to do this race so badly (a little bit of masochism goes a long way when you like distance running). I thought it would be too difficult to get in the miles and training required, so each year I think about it and then decide to save it for another year.

In March, I turned 30 (woohoo!) and decided that to celebrate I either had to finally go skydiving or begin training to run the Vermont 50 in September. I'm really not crazy enough to jump out of a plane. But I am crazy enough to attempt an ultramarathon. When registration for the Vermont 50 opens up in May, I will be signing up for it.

I began "training" for it in March and have been fumbling my way through the various books and websites about ultramarathons. See, the problem is that I am lazy and worry about injuries, and don't want to spend hours running and then worrying about every twinge of pain I feel. I've chosen to deal with this by breaking up the training into pieces. I've trained for a marathon, so why not train for another marathon? I signed up for the Mad Marathon in Vermont in July as a halfway point to the 50 miler training. I can do marathon training. I've done it before with minimal injuries and have hopefully learned (and more importantly will act) on the things I've learned to keep from getting injured again. Hellooooo foam roller and hip strengthening exercises.

It has also helped to talk to people who have done ultras before. A random person I started talking to during a 10k I did in February (I'm that person that talks to random people when running, so sorry) recommended the following books: Relentless Forward Progress, by Bryon Powell, and Never Wipe Your Ass With a Squirrel, by Jason Robillard. The former is a fairly serious approach to training for an ultramarathon. The latter is, naturally, a less serious approach. Both have been immensely helpful. I've decided on a combination of training plans: I'm using a combination of the plan from Relentless Forward Progress and a plan from The Santa Clarita Runners plan has me starting my ultra training on May 23 with a total weekly mileage of 20 miles, running 5 days a week.

Where I am currently: I'm trying to build my weekly mileage so that 20 a week is comfortable. I'm a 4-day a week runner right now but I think getting up to 5 days a week will help with be successful in the ultra. I am also beginning to run on trails. 2/3 of the Vermont 50 is on trails or jeep roads. I've done one trail run so far and it was hard, although I was able to catch myself each of the 20 times I tripped. I have my work cut out for me.

I've heard its important to figure out what you want out of a race, and to figure out what success means. I define success in the Vermont 50 as no DNF and no injuries. And, hopefully, no crying. I'm flexible on the crying part.

Monday, December 13, 2010

February 27th, 2011

I've come full circle and am now registered for the Hyannis Half Marathon on February 27th, 2011.  Last February, I ran this half marathon as my first, and was hooked.  But more importantly, one year ago, I began training for my first long distance race.

I've had several people ask me why (seriously--there's no follow up, it's just the single word).  Usually, they will continue to say they ran a mile about a month ago and almost died.  There's an unasked question of "how" that is implied in the "why" and I'd like to try to answer that.

Training is an interesting thing.  For me, it is the reason I became a long distance runner.  I did not run so that I could run, I ran so that I could do a half marathon.  The 13.1 miles looming in my future provided the fuel for running, and running most days out of the week made it a habit. 

A year and some months ago, I was one of the incredulous "why" asking people with an implied "how."  For a quite literal answer to that, here is how:  Sign up for a race.  Make it a hard one (like, say, a half marathon).  Then follow this schedule:

Courtesy of Hal Higdon (
The other "how," the less literal and more, I don't know, inspirational, is just get out there and start running.  Hate it if you want, detest it.  Let yourself feel those feelings.  It doesn't matter, though, you just have to do it.  There's a reason Nike's motto is what it is.  No one likes sweating and hurting.  But trust me, eventually, the hurting goes away.  You should probably learn to like sweating.

Eventually, it also gets easy.  After awhile, you're going to start to look forward to running.  Trust me, it's worth the effort in the beginning. 

After taking a small break from serious running, I'm also having to put in the work to get out there and run.  It's tough to make a priority sometimes, especially in this busy season.  Fortunately, I've graduated from the above schedule, which is "novice," and am now working on the intermediate one.  It's a small victory, but totally worth it.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Heavier Things

If running has brought anything unquantifiable and worthwhile to my life, it has brought the knowledge of what it feels like to push through difficulties to reach something that I know I want.

There are several parts to that, the first being the end: something that I know I want.  When I ran near the finish line of the marathon around mile 16 (because of the race's strange set up over the last half), I had zero desire to turn in a half marathon time instead of a full because I wanted the full marathon.  I wanted to run and finish it so badly that I gleefully kept going.  The second part of it is that I had never really before felt the satisfaction of pushing through something to get somewhere I knew I wanted to be.  As proud of myself as I was to graduate from college, it was (almost) a given.  I did struggle with things during those four years, and there were challenges to face, but somehow it was different.  

This is one of the reasons that has kept me running.  I want to keep that feeling alive, I want to keep building my mileage, although at this point it is rebuilding, and I want to keep reaching those goals.

Now, though, I want more.  I want to have that feeling in my life.  I want to discover a goal, go and do the work to achieve it, and then achieve it.  Whether this needs to happen in my work or in some outside activity, I'm not sure.

Where does running fit into this heavy question of what to do?  It is, hopefully, a catalyst that will place the big picture into perspective.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Good Life Ain't Half Bad

It's been one month since I ran the marathon.  The days don't seem quite as long now.  I can almost feel the breeze, whipping past my aching legs...almost.  But then it goes away...and I wonder, will I ever, ever feel that way again?

Sike! This has been a great month.  I've really taken advantage of my new found free time and have gotten back in touch with friends, including the better-rested, less-stressed version of myself that I'm quite fond of.  The things that needed attention, like say, what I'm doing with my life, have also been getting the attention they deserve, and I'm finding that things are going in a direction.

Not to say that I didn't love training for the marathon and then running it.  If you've read any of my posts, you know that I did. Satisfaction doesn't even begin to describe the feeling that I would get after a run.  Athletics have never really been my thing, so it was a new and very appreciated experience.

But now I find myself here, one month later, asking what's next.  Since I'm the type A person that I am (sorta), I can actually tell you what's next!

1) the Hyannis Half Marathon--this one will probably be on my schedule every year as long as I am in the area.
2) Massachusetts Reach The Beach Relay in May--it's the inaugural year for this springtime race, and team Too Late to Turn Back (from Vermont!) is at it again

I've realized a couple of things that I wish I had done differently in my training the past year.  I really wish I had done more speedwork.  Speed was not my goal when I did those races, I really just wanted to finish, but now that I've done the races, I think it's okay to let my competitive side out a bit.  No more running just for the hell of it.  Well that's not true...but more speed workouts.  We'll just go with that....

And in case you were wondering, the number of times I've run since the marathon?  5 times.  5 glorious, wonderful times.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Marathon, Or, My Tour of San Francisco

My plane wasn't delayed, the weather was good, and I found myself in San Francisco three weeks ago, doing anything BUT thinking about the marathon I was to run the next day.  We walked around Union Square, registered for the race, got some free stuff, went to brunch, and had a generally relaxing day.  When Jenny, my friend who went with me, asked if I was nervous, I could honestly say no.  That's because I just wasn't thinking about it.

The next morning, however, was different.  I was bounding down the stairs in the hotel to use the restroom, I was bounding back up them to meet up with people, I was awake, I was excited, and I just wanted to run.

The night before the race was the Team in Training Inspiration Dinner.  There were 3800 TNTers there.  3800!  That's a lot of people raising a lot of money for LLS.  Joan Benoit spoke at the beginning and gave us some inspiration for the run the next day.   "The Penguin" of Runner's World magazine was the host and told some funny jokes and kept us entertained.  Then the honored hero of the night came up and spoke about her sister passing away a year ago and how she and her other 5 sisters were running in the race in memory of her.  It was a great way to remind everyone that there are bigger things in the world.  Nerves just don't stack up when it comes to things like that.

The best part about the whole event--the 3800 of us managed to raise $13 million for LLS for this race.  The Massachusetts Chapters raised $106,000 of that.  I've never been moved by people's generosity so much before.  Thank you all.

On to the race.

The following is not how you would expect a tour of San Francisco to go:

"First, you will walk through the streets of the financial district, where you will see clothes strewn about on the street.  Don't worry, this is totally normal.   Next, we will be going along the Embarcadero, where you will worry about tripping over the train tracks there.  A few hills and 6 miles later, we're going to climb a doozy of a hill.  But there's more!  At the top will be a beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge, where you, in all your sweaty and exhausted glory, can stop and be photographed!..."

Nicole and I gearing up
We're ready to go!

But that is, in fact, how the race started.  The streets were deserted, save for a few dedicated fans and runners strewn-about unneeded 2nd layers.   Nicole and I started the race together and ran these first 6 miles together.  Nike had "Power Song" stations every 4 or 5 miles, and the station for mile 6 was special because at the pre-race expo, we were able to vote for the song that would play.  This was important because it was the start of the largest hill we would encounter.  I may or may not have voted for "Dynamite" three times.  And guess what--it won!  I have to say, I felt incredibly strong going up the hills.  I have no idea why, but it's great that my love for hills has returned and I've temporarily forgotten about Vermont. (oh Vermont...).

Nicole and I became separated on this hill, and so I ran the next 5 miles by myself, and by that I mean with way too many people surrounding me.  It was great that the race was so popular, because you never really were running by yourself, but it was also a source of frustration in the beginning.  On the way down the hill, I ran next to a lady from the Central Ohio Chapter of Team in Training so we sparked up a conversation about Columbus and the Buckeyes.

Just before mile 11, Jenny joined me.  I can't even begin to thank her enough for running with me for the next 7 miles.  I really, truly can't.  With her, I picked up my pace a little bit and we kept ourselves entertained by talking.  Around mile 17, we passed a station playing "Eye of the Tiger" and we belted out our beautiful voices to that song.  At mile 18, she turned around to go back to the finish line to patiently wait for another hour and half for me to finish.  I have no idea exactly how much having her run with me actually helped but I know that she left me with high spirits and confidence.  Thank you Jenny!!
Jenny and I at the end
What also helped with the race were the myriad of Team in Training coaches dotting the course and calling good luck to everyone whose name they could see clearly.  Mine was written on my singlet as well as my right arm, and apparently it was clear enough that I had my name called out a lot.  Towards the end of the race, people started saying to me "Looking strong Kristin," which I was coherent enough to question whether I really did look strong or whether I looked so weak that they were shouting confidence in my direction.  I have no idea...
Teammate Danyell and I at the end

The weather was, in my opinion, perfect for the race. The sky was overcast and there was a light rain that came and went throughout the whole thing.  I know some people said they were cold but for me, it was ideal.  Everything would have been so much more difficult if it had been hot.

Overall, it was a great day and an experience that I won't forget.  I realize how lucky I am that I didn't have any issues or injuries while running it.  I know several people who have had such issues, or who just had a plain old bad day, and while they were all able to finish the race, it wasn't easy.
To the Finish!

I'll definitely run another one of those things.  Not anytime soon, though.  I will be doing several half marathons again next year and I also plan on doing another sprint triathlon.

ALSO I do plan on keeping up with the blog!  My facebook status updates about it will probably cease but feel free to check back every so often!

Thanks so much for everyone's support!  


More Details on the Run (because I didn't want to bore most of you...)

I finished the race faster than I expected.  When I started training in May, my goal was to run it under 4hr 30min.  As I ran through the summer and into Autumn, that adjusted to under 5 hours, with the ultimate goal being 4hr 45min. I started off pretty slow, probably going just over 11 min/mile.  I was passed at some point by the 4hr 45min pacer, and while I tried to keep her in my sights (she had a sign saying 4:45, afterall), I lost her and eventually went back to a comfortable pace.  But with the increase in pace with Jenny, I caught up with her at around mile 19.  Since I become even more social than normal when I run sometimes, I said to her "I'm so glad to see you!" and her response was "well stick with me, the coming miles are uncharted territory."  I thought about that, and assessed how I was feeling, and heeded her advice, but only in making sure I didn't go all out just yet.  I continued on, passing by the group that was sticking to her like glue, and stayed strong through the last 8 miles.  It did get harder, and my legs did get tired, but it was never enough to make me even think about stopping or slowing down.

Around mile 24, I felt confident enough that I'd be able to finish without breaking down that I picked up my pace, with the full intention of slowing down once I hit mile 25.  I slowed a bit, but not much, and I was able to finish with a time of 4hr 38min.

Next marathon goal--break 4:30

Friday, October 15, 2010

Things On My Mind

With only two full days left standing between me and the 26.2 miles I'll be running in California, there are quite a few things that have the potential to keep me awake at night.  So far, sleep hasn't been a problem, knock on wood, but here it is:

1)  Many of the things I've read say that the pre-race week jitters will get to you.  I haven't had much, if any, anxiety about the race, which in itself makes me anxious.  I think this might be what they are talking about...I just remembered, in fact that I need to go pick up Gu and Shot Blocks for the race.  So I think I can say I have the pre-race jitters, which makes me less anxious, but then I have to deal with those nerves.  My mind is not a place you would want to be right now...

2)  A Nor'easter (however it is spelled) is supposed to hit today and high winds are supposed to stick around through Saturday.  My flight leaves from Boston tonight and naturally I'm concerned.  If I can just get myself to San Francisco, which is all the way across the country, and completely in the hands of JetBlue airlines, then I can run those freaking 26.2 miles. 

3)  Will I get enough rest the day before the race?  I will likely worry about getting enough rest, and worrying keeps rest away, and I find myself wishing that I had actually read the book Catch-22.

4)  Blisters?  Leg pain?  Side cramp?  General existence pain?  Probably.  That's okay. If I get those, it means that I made it to the race.  It means that I'm in the race.  It means that, barring any medical condition, I will finish the race.  Because once I start, I'm not stopping unless I pass out, get struck by lightning, get struck by a car (I'll only stop then if it's really bad), etc. etc. 

Thanks so much to everyone who has been following my blog!  The updates have been sporadic, yes, but hopefully they've been entertaining.

Wish me luck and send energetic, caffeinated and carb-loaded thoughts my way on Sunday morning!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


The schedule is pinned to my bulletin board on my desk, behind my computer.  The daily running, cross training, and weekly mileage is marked, telling us when we should be training the hardest and when we should be taking a recovery run.  On Saturday, September 25th, the chart said I was to run 20 miles, or 2.5 hours, whichever came first.  20 miles would be the longest distance I would run prior to the marathon, and with the pace that I run, it was more likely that I wouldn't even hit that.

I ran for 3 hours alongside my Team in Training teammate Nicole and a few of our mentors.  There was no lull in attention, or intensity, and I didn't get at all bored.  A really bad pop song was stuck in my head almost the whole time, but that didn't bother me.  In those 3 hours, I ran 17.6 miles, and guess what--I felt great. Sure, my legs weren't the most comfortable they had ever been, but I had energy left and I could have gone further, had it not been for the time limit.

After that, I began to taper.  I've been on taper mode for a little over a week now, and I gotta say, it's been nice to not have to worry about the upcoming long run.  I ran a half marathon this past Sunday, as the end of a trilogy of half marathons I have done throughout the year, and dare I say, it felt easy.  Of course this is in comparison to the 17.6 miles I ran the week before, and all that shows is that everything is relative.  

The marathon is a little less than 2 weeks away, and I'm beyond excited to run 26.2 miles.  It's going to be hard, especially if I have the bad luck of having a bad day.  But I feel like I'm ready for the mental and physical challenge of the race.

At some point during the race, I know I will hit a point where I just don't want to run anymore.  This happened during the 100 mile relay race, on my last leg, and it took 3 miles to deal with it and get over myself.  I'm hoping that since I've experienced the fatigue and lethargy of exhaustion, I will know how to better handle myself when I hit this point.  I have a race mantra in my head, and I'm anxious to see if it will help me get through the miles.

Until then, I just have to wait.  Oh, and run approximately 20 more miles between now and then.