Week one: You gotta start somewhere

quoted shirt

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”
-Fred DeVito

Shortly after I started running, my sister made me a tank top with this quote as an inspirational message for me to keep challenging myself. I wear it every so often when times are tough or when I just need a motivation boost. I’m not sure she even knows how much it means to me. I wore it to my first ever running club track meet, since I am pretty challenged when it comes to track workouts. So of course, I made sure to wear it during my first week of marathon training.

Last week, I officially started my training program. I’m mostly working off a program from Marathon Training Academy that my friend Lori (who I am mostly training with) sent me. I won’t go into the boring details but for each week it has 3 days of running (1 regular run, 1 speed workout, 1 long run), 2-3 days of cross-training and at least 1 straight rest day. This is a 16-week training program, but assumes you have been running pretty regularly for about 6 months to a year. This is mostly true for me, with the exception of a month here and there taken off for injury recovery.

First…the challenge: I haven’t run 20-30 miles a week for a really long time, so I wasn’t sure how my body was going to respond this week. I have to say, it’s been adjusting pretty well. My first run on Monday was an easy 5 miles after work. I kept it at a slow pace as I didn’t want to over do it the first day. However, I did pick up the pace for the last 1.5 miles since storm clouds were rolling in. Luckily I made it inside before the lightning and torrential downpour hit, but I decided I should make more of an effort to get my run in before work. I did an additional track work out on Tuesday which gave me some extra mileage for the week, but then I got worried about doing too much too fast and re-injuring my tendon. My first speed workout was a mile repeat exercise for 7 miles, consisting of fast miles and short recoveries. The workouts felt good, but I was starting to feel like half my week was spent sweating. I actually ended up taking 3 showers one day, no joke.

My body seemed up to these new speed challenges and I’m looking forward to see how much I can push. My first long run was on a very humid Saturday with my friend Lori. We patiently completed the 8 miles, as if we were swimming through the damp, sticky air. For cross-training I added in two 45 minute cycling workouts – I was going to earn that rest day! All my hard work made it worthwhile to sleep in on Sunday and spend the day walking around Gloucester with some friends. Not bad for a first week, I’m really hoping I can keep this up. I want this experience to change me.

Bike path
On the Minuteman bike path, after completing some of my mile repeats. The red face means I’ve been working.

My main training worry is my schedule and fitting these extra workouts into my already busy life. I just have to make some adjustments and give things up. There are friends I probably won’t see for awhile and running will be like my second job, but I’m up for the challenge. If I can get through all this, I will change into something I can be really proud of – a marathon runner.

And thanks again sis, for top & the quote.



A picture perfect race: The Newport 10-miler

Newport, RI

“I keep on hoping we’ll eat cake by the ocean”

Race bib for 10-miler
Some of the schwiggity-schwag from the race. We also got some Kind bars and a can of seltzer.

I’m a little behind in my blogging as this race took place on June 4th, but here we go! Since the spring half-marathon plan blew up in my face, I decided to jump start my marathon training with this 10-miler I’ve been wanting to do for a few years now. The race promised a fairly flat course (not true) and some amazing scenery (true). It did not disappoint visually as the course took you from Fort Adams State Park, down by the ocean, through some gorgeous mansions and ended through the archway into Fort Adams itself. Definitely one of my favorite courses to date! Despite being tired from vacation and my lack of training due to my injury, I had a great time. Well by great time, I mean I had fun – my actual race time was just okay.

Starting Line
The starting line. With a 7:30 AM start it hadn’t gotten too hot at this point.

You really couldn’t ask a better day for a June race. There was sunshine and blue sky, but the air still felt cool with barely any humidity. I was thankful for this since I had been slightly dreading this race due to the fact that I had not trained for it at all. I couldn’t remember the last time I had run more than 6 miles (but I do remember snow was on the ground). Nervous energy aside, I made my way to the starting line. I decided to run in wave 2, recommended for people running between a 9 & 11-minute pace.

Mile 2 of Newport 10miler
Mile 2: There is something about that first ocean view when you are running a distance race.

Mile 1-3

I had to keep telling myself to slow down. I wasn’t listening. All my nerves bolted me ahead in the first half mile before I realized what I was doing. Slow it down! Distance! I had to keep telling myself. My feet finally got the message around mile 2, just in time for these wonderful ocean views.

running on ocean drive
Caught on camera! Pretty sure this was in the first 3 miles of the race.

Mile 4-6

The course stayed on Ocean Ave for a few more miles and running along the coast was incredibly scenic. Unfortunately I was starting to feel the effects of the sun beating down and I wished for some shade. As much as I love running next to the ocean, I was a little relived when we turned down Bellevue Ave, where many of the famous Newport mansions are located.

Mile 7-9

Finally some shade – and a change of scenery. Here you are running through what looks like a perfectly designed neighborhood with houses you would only be able to take a tour in. I can’t remember which mansions we actually ran by, but I believe I saw the driveway for Rosecliff, where I actually toured a few years back. Movies have been filmed there such as True Lies & The Great Gatsby (the 1974 film). After another turn took us running through an area with more average-sized homes and schools, which was very pleasant. There were open fields and trees that seemed perfectly placed. I was definitely feeling tired at this point and my lack of training began to get the better of me. When I finally saw the sign to turn into Fort Adams, some relief washed over me.

Pell bridge in background
I’m actually not sure which mile this picture was taken at, but it’s a great shot with the Newport Pell bridge in the background.

Mile 10

The relief was short lived with the quad-killer hill going into Fort Adams State Park. At this point, I was very happy I wasn’t running a half marathon. The last mile seemed to take it’s toll as I tried to ramp up my speed a little. The coolness factor of the race increased as I ran through the fort walls into Fort Adams for the final stretch to the finish line. I had a reach goal of finishing in 1.5 hours, but half way through the race I knew that was a pipe dream. I changed my goal to 1 hour 40 min, and then during the very hilly mile 8 changed it to…whatever just enjoy this race and stop thinking about your time.

finish line
The finish line in Fort Adams

In the end, I finished in 1 hour 39 min so I wasn’t too far off. Technically this is a PR, since this was my first actual 10-mile race. I have to say, I really like this distance and I think I might try to seek out more 10-mile races. It has the feel of a half marathon, but less chance of hitting “the wall” or just getting sick of the course in general. It’s enough of a challenge distance-wise, but easier to pace than a 10K.

after part in the fort
Finishing inside the fort was very cool, and they had a really great space for an after party.

As for this particular race, I loved it and would definitely run it again and also recommend it to others. The race and information was very well organized, the location for the course couldn’t have been better and the after party was well-run as well. Race photos were free as well as the first post-run beer. Of course the weather really helped in making this a great day. All in all, this was a moving postcard of a race, and a great way for me to kick off my distance training.

My finish line shot
The infamous race finish photo! Most of mine look the same, always gasping for air.

In a strange land: Running on vacation


“I can’t think of anything that excites a great sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything.”
-Bill Bryson

There are few things better than a long vacation. Especially when you haven’t taken one in a few years. My significant other & I had been planning on taking a semi-extended international vacation for a while and now it was finally time – 5 days in England and 6 days in Iceland. As I planned out what sights I wanted to see, what clothes to bring…the question came up – am I going to be running while I am there?

Since I technically already had a “vacation” from running when I had my inflammation injury and I knew I needed to start marathon training when I got back, I made the decision to take my running sneakers. My goal was to do at least one run in each country. This would hopefully help combat some of the vacation calories I was bound to encounter as well as keep me in decent shape for the 10-miler happening 4 days after I get back. My travel schedule was pretty tight, so I knew it would be a challenge to add one more thing to the agenda. I was determined to try.

There was a nice running & bike path along the beach. It was best to go early, around 6 AM, before the crowds made it difficult.

The first chance I was able to get a morning run in was about 4 days in, at Brighton beach on the south shore of England. As much as I wanted to sleep in that morning, I decided instead to tie up my running shoes and take an early morning run by the Brighton Pier. I was able to get in about 3 miles, just as the sun was starting to warm up the day. The weather ended up being really nice and almost summer-like while we were there.

Brighton Pier, as seen on my way back.

My SO joined me on the run, which was nice. I was glad we went out early enough to enjoy the view of the pier before the crowds settled in.

The roadkill looks a lot different when you are by the beach.

The path was pretty flat as you can imagine, but with some of the construction, I went back and forth between running on the path by the beach and the sidewalk. This gave me a chance to sprint up some very short hills, which felt pretty good.

pier run
Managed to get some hill work in as well!

As for running in Iceland, it didn’t end up happening. The roads seemed a bit dangerous for running, since there were no sidewalks and not much shoulder on the side to run. This was a disappointment since the scenery was so amazing, it would have made such a great backdrop. I also had some difficulties when I fell off a horse while the saddle was being adjusted and landed right on my hip. This caused some pain and stiffness, and when you factor in two straight days of rain, it just wasn’t meant to be. However we did have one very active day which started with an 8 km hike to some airplane wreckage.

The long windy trek to the airplane wreckage. It was like a death march through the desert, but gave us some much needed exercise.
Air plane wreckage
And here is the airplane (with me inside)…so glad when we finally found it.

Later the same day we did an even more difficult 6 km hike with steep hills and amazing views, ending at a natural hot spring.

Hiking to a natural hot spring. The trail was actually very scenic.
Just soaking it all in…while actually soaking. I can’t believe how much it rained!

We were incredibly tired from the first hike, nonstop sight-seeing and just the general dreariness of the weather. But I forced myself and my SO to push on, as I really wanted to see this natural hot spring. I have to say despite being cold and wet on both journeys, it was definitely worth the trek. This was something I had never experienced before and not something you find too often.

Hot Spring
The natural hot spring that we were trekking to. Felt nice to take a dip in warm water after all the rain and wind we encountered.

After a hot soak in the river, we were both satisfied and loving life. The only thing missing was a few post hike beers. Maybe next time.

soaking in the hot river

Soaking in the river also loosened up my hip a bit, which made the hike back a little easier on my body and also helped prepare me for my post-vacation run schedule. Now that I’m back, it’s back to the grind. Back to a real running schedule. I’m so grateful to have been able to take this vacation and have these amazing experiences. Now I feel I have the energy to face my marathon training refreshed and ready to work.