Today's Run: Is the last run of the decade! It will be taking place in the snowy weather of Westchester, NY this afternoon.

Running Resolution #1: Be Thankful

It's not easy being a year-round road runner in New England. Here is a laundry list of reasons why:
  • It steals away your free time with loved ones.
  • It means running even when you hate the idea of stepping outside.
  • It requires a lot of expensive cold weather running gear.
  • It is dangerous running roads in the dark/snow/sleet.
  • It makes speed work tricky (hard to run hard when running hard on ice).
  • It often necessitate a huge shift in your daily routine.
  • It may require leaving work early/going late to fit in a run before a storm.
  • It could mean planning vacation around a race or long training run.
  • It may mean delaying a huge life event for a marathon. (As I did last spring, inadvertently pushing back our wedding day to run the Big Sur Marathon.)
This list goes on, but so does the running.

I do my best not to forget how lucky I am to be able to run every day. I'm healthy, strong and fully supported by my husband, who often has to eat dinner or breakfast late, take on extra housework or handle errands so I have time to run. I've never felt any pressure to run faster or qualify for Boston, but I want to. I want to show that all of the time dedicated to my running is paying off in more ways than one. I'm healthier for it. I'm stronger for it. And I can try to make myself and the people I love most proud.

What better inspiration for 2010?

Happy New Year!
 
 
Today's Run: 8 miles at 15K-half marathon race pace. Mid 3-4 miles were closer to 10K race pace. Glad I got in the run early... It just got colder!

Running Resolution #2: Drink More Water and Stay Hydrated

This may seem like a no-brainer but it's tough for me. I'm missing the thirsty button or something. I have to remind myself to drink throughout the day or I'll just forget. I do know how important it is to hydrate, especially when marathon training, so I can't keep letting this one slip!

A few hydration tips I've learned and should heed year round:

1. It's just as important to hydrate during cold weather runs as warm weather runs. You still sweat.

2. You should replace the amount of fluids you perspire throughout a long run. Wear a FuelBelt or carry a water bottle to sip on.

3. Hydrate well in the weeks leading up to a marathon, not just the two days prior.

4. One to two hours before a long run, drink a good size glass of water or energy drink - about 16 ounces. Be careful not to drink a lot right before your run, or risk serious cramps.

5. Hydrate with the same type of fluids (sports drinks, water, GU gels, etc.) that will be distributed during your marathon. Get your body used it, or risk a serious stomach ache.

Feel free to share your own hydration tips.
 
 
Rest Day - Marathon training officially starts tomorrow!

Running Resolution #3: Race Once Per Month

This one is pretty simple. Racing helps me gauge my progress, something I can't get from running on my own. No matter how hard I run during training, I'm still not as fast or effortless as I am when racing, so I use it as a way to tune up.

My goal this year is already under way. I'm signed up for a race every month through May, except for March. Still need to fill that gap and work on the rest of the year. I may not run every one of these races all out, especially those closer to the Providence Marathon (need to save my energy for the big one). Here's what's on the agenda so far:

Here's what's on the agenda so far:

January: The Boston Prep 16 Miler

February: Super Sunday 10K and Hyannis Half Marathon

April: 13.1 New York

May: Providence Marathon

Looking forward to every one!
 
 
Today's Run: ~ 12 miles on Heartbreak Hill - tough run but kept up ~ 8:30 pace
Notes: Misty rain and fairly warm for late December. Nice running weather.

Running Resolution #4: Run faster farther (no wimping out on long runs)

I started marathon training in October 2008 as a challenge to myself. I had just run my second BAA Half Marathon and my time was considerably worse than it had been the first time I ran the same race. I wasn't running regularly. I was only half committed to my running regimen. I was disappointed in my performance and knew it wouldn't change without a lot of hard work. So I signed up for my first marathon - Big Sur International Marathon - taking place 6 months later.

Nothing like a kick in the ass to get in gear. All I knew about Big Sur was that the views are incredible and it is supposed to be one of the hardest marathons in the world thanks to a steep 2-mile climb in the middle and numerous, mountainous hills throughout the race. All the better for me. I was too scared to miss a training run for fear of losing it on any one of those hills.

So I stuck to my training plan and ran 25-35 miles most weeks. However, I didn't try to run fast. I only cared about going the distance and being able to finish that marathon. Most of my long runs fell into the 9:30-10:30 range. I was hardly even winded when I got home.

Then the day of the race came. I spotted pace groups and decided at the starting line to join the 4:30 bunch. I figured I could run about this pace and thought the group would help me get over those hills. It did. The one thing I wasn't expecting was my surge at the end. I hadn't run any part of the race that hard so I had a ton of energy. I left the group at mile 24 and beat the 4:30 pace by more than 5 minutes . It shocked me (I loved it) and that's when I knew I had it in me to run faster.

A few short months later I ran the NYC Marathon, another toughie, and took about 35 minutes off my marathon time. Now I'm just 11 minutes shy of a Boston qualifier and I'm not slowing down.

This resolution, which I've already started working on, is to tackle my training runs stronger and faster than I did last year. I'll still account for recovery days and planned easy runs, but I want to be sure I'm making the most of everything I do. No more wimping out on long runs!

Oh, and I did run the BAA Half Marathon again this past October. This time I finished 10 minutes faster than last year. The extra effort and dedication is paying off.

How about you: Do you run for speed, distance or both?
 
 
Yesterday's Run: 7 miles around hills of Brookline and Chestnut Hill ~8:30 pace

Five days left in 2009. I've been very lucky to have had an amazing and wonderful year. It will be nearly impossible to top, but I look forward to seeing what 2010 brings. In preparation for the New Year I'm counting down some running goals and resolutions of mine, starting with #5.

Running Resolution #5: Run more miles (1,500+)

About this time last year, my then fiance and I placed a bet with two other friends. $10 to anyone who fulfilled their New Year's resolution. Of course we weren't after the $10... just the bragging rights and an excuse to make our little competition an annual event.

Each of our four resolutions for 2009:

* Complete two marathons (after never running one)
* Run at least 400 miles (up from 250)
* Attend at least one Bikram yoga class per week (big commitment for a traveler)
* Eat the equivalent of 100 loaves of bread (ok, so this is the antiresolution)

Soon we'll be celebrating the completion of every resolution! I ran my first two marathons; our friend is finishing up her 400 miles this week; another friend made it to 75 yoga classes, and my now husband ate just about that much bread - fuel for his almost daily basketball games. Now I'm left wondering what my resolution should be for 2010.

To help me decide, I'm going through some goals I'd hope to achieve in any case, starting with mileage. I'd like to run at least 1,500 miles in 2010.

I ran probably about 1,200 miles in 2009. Lost track because I didn't log every run, but I was running around 25 miles most weeks - a few in the 30s, some recovery weeks in the teens and two weeks off for our honeymoon. Over the past several months I've upped my routine to four or five days of running per week and I've made most runs longer. Soon I'll be running about 35 miles per week regularly, rather than sporadically, and peaking out in the 40s for my marathon training.

So I should technically be able to run 1,500 miles in 2010. Doing it of course is another matter.

Have any running goals or resolutions for 2010?
 
 
Today's Run: ~6 miles this morning with a pause in the middle to run up 6 flights of stairs and check on a friend's cats. More than happy to run over there every day!

My featured quote is personally fitting this week: "A run begins the moment you forget you are running." - Adidas.

Have to admit, I'm not a fan of Adidas. Never wear their sneakers (haven't tried) and I find their running clothes just ok. But as far as slogans go, they're not bad. I couldn't agree more with that one, especially now.

I'm one of those people who rarely warms up to a run with a jog or walk. I may start at a slower pace, but it's still a run. However, now that the temperatures have reached single digits, my body is rejecting my warmer weather ways.

When I start my long runs, everything is stiff. I feel my feet hitting the ground loudly, too loud, and no bone in my body wants to move. I have to force myself to move my arms away from their clamped position at my sides, and my legs to stretch farther ahead than my head can slightly lean. I don't even begin to feel blood flow until about three miles in...

Then that blood flow hits. That's when everything feels great. My hands finally start to sweat a little. My legs stride, my arms swing and my steps lighten. I enjoy myself! I'm able to run two or three times longer than I originally anticipated. And I start to really look forward to my 16 miler in New Hampshire next month. (Talk about cold!)

That's when I know I've started my run.

While I don't anticipate I'll keep up the warm ups forever, no sense fighting it now. May as well settle in and listen to what my legs are telling me. They're usually right.



 
 
 
Today's Run: ~ 7 miles from work to home with 3 x 1 mile loops at marathon pace
Notes: Running fairly easy this week. Start 18-week marathon training 12/27.

It's just a few short days till Christmas and a nice long weekend. I have a lot to do before then, including work to finish (and start) at the office, a few dozen cookies to bake, laundry and cleaning up around the house, miscellaneous errands, etc. etc. I refuse to drop my mileage or miss a day of running this week, so I'm squeezing in workouts whenever possibly, even if it means leaving my coat and laptop at work to run home in the dark, freezing cold.

Can't wait to hit those icy sidewalks! Hope I can see where I'm going...
 
 
Boston is blanketed with the first big snowfall of the winter. No driving, difficult walking and the perfect day to rest on the couch! One more week until I start my "official" 18-week marathon training plan. The next big snow day may not be quite so relaxing...
 
 
Today's Workout: 10.25 mile run including Heartbreak Hill - 8:48 pace
Notes:27 degrees, feels like 17, and snow emergency on the way!

I live at mile 24.5 of the Boston Marathon route, just a few short miles away from Heartbreak Hill. As a lifelong runner, that makes it my mission to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Even the image at the top of my site reflects my goal: It was taken about one mile away from Heartbreak Hill, near the Johnny Kelley monument.

It's hard to train daily on the course for a race you're not invited to run. I even tried to join the running club for the Boston Athletic Association - the group that organizes the Boston Marathon - and received a nice big rejection email. That's fine. Just fuels my motivation.

But on today's run, I got to thinking:  Am I trying to qualify for Boston just to say "I qualified" or because I actually want to run that race?

I believe, or I hope for most people, that a great deal of pride comes with qualifying for the Boston Marathon. I know I'd probably break down in tears, like I did when I finished my first marathon, and walk around in a state of semi shock. I also think qualifying is a badge of accomplishment. It takes a great deal of time and dedication to run a marathon in 3 hours and 40 minutes (women age 18-35) or 3 hours and 10 minutes (men age 18-35). Sorry, guys.

Don't get me wrong. I want to run the race, but I can think of a dozen others I'd probably rather run more... Marathons in Europe... on islands... through mountains... There's so much to see out there and here I am running the last 10-15 miles of the Boston Marathon route almost every week. Will that take away from my enjoyment of the race, if that day comes?

Actually, no. I'll qualify for the Boston Marathon one day and be so proud that I did. But I'll be even more proud to run that race, see my loved ones on the sidelines and motor past the place I call home just a few blocks from the finish line. I don't think anything could inspire me more.

I can't wait.

 
 
 
I just signed up for yet another running site and I'm beginning to lose track of myself. I can't seem to find just one online community with everything I want, so I end up signing up for everything and get a little bit from each. The problem then is that I'm updating several sites at once. There are just so many hours in the day.

For instance...

Active.com: Love the easy-to-use calendar and tips, but I haven't attached myself much to the rest of the site.

Athlinks: I'd love this site for everything. If I could just add my training and my top 9 rivals. It never wants to work.

CoolRunnning: Go-to site for results and upcoming events. I haven't used it for much else.

MapMyRun: Tons of great tools, but it can be a little overwhelming and kloogy at times. Takes me a while to map a long run accurately.

Not to mention lots of smaller running community sites like Dailymile and Tribal Running, running magazine websites like RunnersWorld.com, LinkedIn groups, Facebook groups, etc. etc.

I'm just looking for one site that has the following things for FREE:

1. Calendar for my training
2. Detailed reports on my training
3. Mapping tools
3. Upcoming running events
4. Comprehensive race results
5. Way to add friends/rivals
6. Way to set/reach goals
7. Discussion forums and/or tips

Am I missing it? Any favorite running community sites out there?

P.S. Today's Workout: Cut short - 2.4 mile run 9:00 pace - plus Bosu time indoors
Notes: Need to do laundry more often to keep my warmest clothes on hand for single digit temperature days like today. My cool weather clothes will not cut it. I should reread my own blog entry!