Nine Miles

Last week when I was doing my scheduled speed work I actually had a thought about how great it feels to be healthy again. If that is something you think about while doing speed work then I guess you aren’t working hard enough. To be honest, it was during a threshold run while I was on the “run very easy for three minutes” portion of the workout. But yeah, it really is nice to feel like I am fully healthy again and that was a thought I had during my nine mile long run on Sunday.

The 10 mile race distance isn’t really that popular. Here on the East Coast, and these are just the ones that I know of which means I’m missing others, we have the Bronx 10 miles race, the Cherry Tree 10 miler in DC, and Philly Broad Street. I’ve done Cherry Tree once, and am training for my third Broad Street Run. The Bronx 10 mile race was always included in my marathon training. The other one I have done haven’t involved a whole lot of training. The thought was there but it just never really happened.

This time around I wanted to make sure I was good and ready. Even better is that I have been able to stick to most of the schedule. There a few Sundays when it was just too cold for me to run outside and I just couldn’t get to a treadmill to complete the runs. Even with the missed runs I had one nine mile run that I had completed and one that was scheduled for this past Sunday. That is plenty for me to get a good feel for what I can expect performance-wise on race day.

Playland Pier

I always try to incorporate this into my long runs. It always gives me a boost to run by here. (c) Stacey Cooper

When I did my first nine mile long run I felt pretty good and confident that I could possibly match my PR for the distance but really wanted to wait and see how I felt after this final nine mile run.

We finally had weather cooperated nicely compared to the previous weekend when I was freezing my way around Yankee Stadium. So I hit the road in short sleeves and shorts (feels good to say that) and headed out on my usual route. I should mention that my route has hills, a lot of hills, and some really steep hills. Philly is flat and has slight downhill elevation.

I kept these elevation facts in my head as I climbed each and every hill. When you look at my mile splits for this run you can clearly tell that most of the hills were on the back half of this run but I never felt exhausted or spent as I was making my up those hills.

I’ve also been using UCAN for my nutrition for these long runs and really like it. Form me I find that it provides more energy for a lot longer than Gu and it is hasn’t caused funky tummy feelings on some of the longer runs that Gu would sometimes give me. I think this along with the proper iron level in my system has made this training experience a much better one than in recent years.

I finished the long run feeling pretty good and faster than my previous nine mile long run. My calculations put at roughly the same time as my PR. But no matter what happens I’ll be happy with how I trained for this race. It certainly has me in the right direction as I start planning out my training for the Philadelphia Marathon in November.

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Damn Yankees

Damn, it was cold this past Sunday morning when I headed up to da Bronx to run the Damon Runyon 5k at Yankee Stadium.

Friday we had temps in the 70s. Saturday we had temps in the mid-60s. Sunday we it was 40 degrees with a feels like of 31. That was outside the stadium. When we go into our starting are in side the stadium one really learned about wind tunnels and I swear the feels like was more in the 20s.

I was never more thankful for the beanie and arm warmers that I brought along as a just in case it felt really cold. Putting those arm warmers on really saved the day and my race and for once my need to feel over prepared and over pack came in handy.

So that was the pre-race stuff but once the starting gun went off I was able to get into a nice rhythm (side note: that no matter how many times I try to spell the word rhythm I always spell it wrong.) and I don’t think I ever thought about being cold. That is how you know you are in the zone.

Knowing this course as well as I do was also a huge help in getting into a steady pace a settling in for a fun race. I let all the over-excited sprinters go ahead and mostly avoided all the walkers who often stopped to take pictures. No complaints, it is Yankee Stadium and you get to see it from a unique standpoint.

 

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Oh, just that time a few years ago when I was having brunch in the same place a Desi Linden. (C) Stacey Cooper

As usual, I had permagrin when I got onto the warning track. I swear, as a lifelong Yankee fan this is the coolest thing ever. As I was going around the field I kept thinking to myself , “this is where Aaron Hicks stands, this is where Brett Gardner hangs out, and this is where Aaron Judge owns right field.” You also notice that the stadium crew needs to do some dusting along the walls by the dugouts and bullpens. Minor detail.

On the running front for this race the key is to remember that the race is for charity, there will be walkers and sprinters who suddenly stop. You will end up weaving back and forth a lot so they key is not to get frustrated. Suck it up and enjoy it. It’s a charity race at Yankee Stadium!

But with all that I was still able to run non-stop, get up the stairs (OMG, the stairs never seem to end.), and make up any time while running down the ramps. I seriously should have earned an award for running the tangents on those ramps! The two miles that consisted of the stairs and ramps were pretty consistent pace-wise so I was very happy. I was even happier when I earned a new course PR for the day.

I cannot tell you how great it feels to be able to run like this again and just feel at peace when I run these days.

My next race is the Bronx Zoo Run for the Wild 5k on April 28 and then the Rye Derby 5 Miler on April 29. I’m adding on two miles for my final long run before the Broadstreet Run in Philly on May 6. Right now I’m feeling very good about that race and feeling the more prepared than the first two times I ran it. (knock on wood!)

I’ll feel even better when we can get some consistent sunshine and spring-like temps!

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Getting Ready for Broad Street

Yup, it’s been a while since I last posted. I can’t even begin to try and explain what has been going on so let’s just say that I started on a nice upswing in mid-February and have been on a nice forward path since. I promise I will fill you all in on what has been going on in the near future. In short, I was officially cleared to resume all running related activities in mid-February and have been on a bit of a tear since.

This has meant that I went on a bit of a race registration blitz. One of those registrations included entering the lottery for the Philadelphia Broad Street Run 10 mile race in May. I’ve done this one a couple of times before but always enjoy this one and a quick trip to Philly makes this easy to get to. Plus Philly Cheesesteaks from Geno’s! My training officially started at the time I was cleared to run so the timing couldn’t have been better.

In March I completed the NYC St. Paddy’s Day 5k on Roosevelt Island. This was the first race since my training began and a good test to see how well my training was going. Winter has been long and drawn out this year in New York and due to everything I have been going through I am not conditioned to do too much outdoor running in these cold temps which left me with a lot of treadmill training.

I was feeling pretty good the week leading up to the race and certainly noticed that my conditioning and overall fitness levels were improving. But I just wasn’t sure about how this was going to translate out on the road so this race was going to be good measure on where I was with my training. Because I suck at writing race reports I’ll just say that race went well and was my 5k time in a few years. So yay to training and good iron levels!

This weekend I’ve got the Damon Runyon 5k at Yankee Stadium. It’s also been a couple of years since I have done this one as well. It also figures that we’ll have temps in the 70s on Friday and Saturday but will dip back into the 50s on race day. This is my life.

In a couple of weeks I’ve got back to back races on a Saturday and Sunday. The first will be the WCS Run for the Wild 5k at the Bronx Zoo and the next day the Rye Derby 5 mile race benefiting the Rye YMCA. I’ll be adding two miles onto the five mile race for my final long run before Broad Street.

You can tell that I’m obviously feeling good about my running again.

One of the the things that has helped has been a new training plan for Broad Street. The race organizers teamed up with the runcoach app and provided all participants access to free training plans through the app. You enter into a recent race time and your goal race and it prepares a training plan for you based on this and some other data. One of the cool things is that the training plan will adjust based on your training. Feel its too easy or that you missed some training runs? Simply have the plan adjust itself to match. It syncs with a lot of other apps on your phone and works pretty well with my Apple watch. The app also provides instructional videos and cross training workouts.

My one problem that I have is that it never accepts my times for my speed work day. I’ll follow the plan  and yet the app always treats my speed word as an easy run. You can edit the logged info, which I do, to specifically state that it was a speed workout and it will save it, mark it as completed but the next time you go into the app it has changed back to an easy run. One, I guess my speed workouts aren’t fast enough for their liking and two, they don’t like their interpretations of your workout to be edited. I’ve contacted them to look into this and will keep you posted.

That aside, the training plan has been great and I really like it. I feel that I have made steady improvements to my time and feel really ready for this race. I would recommend it even with the logging of my speed workouts issue. If I can still use it for free for other distances I would seriously consider using this for future races.

I hope all of you are having the most perfect weather for your running and I can’t wait to experience our warmer temps here in New York!

 

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Rockin’ the Weekend

There’s so much to say about this past weekend’s races, some I can fully explain and some that I’m still processing and keeping to myself. But the feeling of fully enjoying and being in the moment for the three races in Virginia Beach, the 5k, Mile on the Sand, and the Half marathon, is really one that I want to hang on to for a very long time.

While my training did not go quite as planned, it was up until my iron deficiency diagnosis, consistent. I was completing every workout from the day-to-day running, crossing training, and long runs. Knowing about the iron issues now really makes me wonder what I could have accomplished if I had healthy levels for the entire training period. But I’m not looking back in a negative way. In fact, it has provided me with a positive outlook on the upcoming goals I have.

Now, about the weekend!

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My two bibs and medals from the Saturday races. (c) Stacey Cooper

For the Saturday 5k and Mile on the Sand the temps were nice and cool which hid the 93 percent humidity. I was so excited to be running and really wanted to see what I could do with the improved iron levels and speed but I really focused on staying within a certain pace keeping Sunday’s half in mind but also knowing I had about 45 minutes between the 5k and Mile on the Sand.

With that in mind I ended up cutting 5 minutes off of my current 5k time. I’m now 7 minutes off of my 5k PR from a few years ago and that now seems in reach. I haven’t felt that optimistic about working towards a PR in a long time.

One of the hard parts for me was to keep my muscles warm in between the two races. A lot of people I met were talking about just walking the mile so I still wasn’t quite sure what my plan was for this. Ultimately, I figured I start out running and see how I felt. If the sand was too difficult to run through I would walk it. When I have been running on the beach in Miami there is a section closer to the boardwalk where the sand is packed and easier to run on while in Virginia Beach the sand is very loose. It had also rained heavily the night before which made more divots in the sand and more challenging.

I started my run and took it slow to warm up my muscles again. I never felt like I was pushing myself or struggling to keep going so I ran the whole thing and smiled most of the time. It was a really great experience to have a race on the beach that I just wanted to enjoy it. So consider that goal met!

I took it easy for the rest of the day in order to save my legs for the half on Sunday where the heat and humidity would be in full force for us. The night before consisted of alight dinner and my UCAN prep for the race. Just a quick tangent here. I started using UCAN during my training and really liked the slow release of carbs while running. The unfortunate thing for me is that I started using before my diagnosis and treatment and never got a long run with it before the race. So I made my drink to have 30 minutes before the race and also made a gel version for about six or seven mile mark of the half as a just in case. They really worked well and now I’m a UCAN convert.

Now back to the race. My one and only goal was to just really enjoy this and I did just that!

Of course, once it got going I still wanted to accomplish certain things. I wanted to keep my pace pretty even and fell strong all the way. At the start my left leg was really tight and hurting to the point that I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I just kept talking to my leg and begged it to feel better. It actually listened!

I was able to keep my pace in a certain range for most of the race until I got onto Camp Pendleton State where the roads haven’t been paved in decades. I took my UCAN gel when I entered the base but my leg started to really hurt as we were nearing the exit for the base but as soon as we got onto less choppy pavement it felt fine the rest of the way. My quads were a bit sore but nothing I haven’t experienced before and thing if I had one more long run before this that would not have been an issue.

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A rare picture of me on my blog! Also, a rare picture of me being happy at the end of a race. (c) DY

Getting onto the boardwalk was a great feeling because I knew I would be able to run it our and stay within my goal pace range. I was also able to to pass runners on the one major hill and along the boardwalk. That is always a good feeling.

An even better feeling is shaving 30 minutes off of your current half marathon pace and just 20 minutes off of my half PR, another goal to work towards.

It has been such a long time that I have been able to really thoroughly enjoy a race weekend like this!

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Not So Iron Strong

Things were going so great. I was able to complete all of my training, I was even cross training, and wait for it…I did that damn Yoga for Runners DVD again. Then I went for my annual physical. Everything was great except for one oh tiny, but oh so major issue, my iron was critically low.

Now I knew that I had been struggling through some long runs in the sense that I just couldn’t seem to get my pace to pick up. No matter how diligently I trained and making sure that I did my cross training and got my rest days nothing would improve. I just thought it had to do the weight gain I had and that as soon as I lost it all everything would kick in.

So now I know why my time never improved but how to go about correcting the anemia.

Turns out that had a solution as well and no it did not involve eating raw steak, although some friends would say that my tendency towards rare steaks would qualify as raw. Anyway, I was immediately started on iron infusions. This is a good thing because if I wasn’t so healthy in other areas I would have been sent to the hospital right away for a blood transfusion.

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One of my first iron infusions. It’s like a hookah lounge for iron. Lounge and snacks provided! (c) Stacey Cooper

The first couple of weeks I was going twice a week lasting approximately 30 minutes each. I’m now down to once a week and my numbers are improving steadily. I’ll hopefully have one or two more infusions before I go on a maintenance program. I do know why this happened and it is nothing I did wrong but I’m not going to share those details with the entire world.

But man, iron is my new super drug!

After being sidelined for two weeks until my levels got back up to decent levels I was cleared to run but only short easy runs. That meant my 10 mile long run, my longest for this weekend’s half marathon was out. The good news is that I am now able to run faster and it seems easy.

My pace for a 5k has improved by 2:30 to 3:00 minutes!

I have no idea how my races for this weekend’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach series will go. I’m doing both the 5k and Mile on the Beach races in Saturday and the half on Sunday. But I figure that running eight miles with critically low iron might be the equivalent of running 10 with a decent amount of iron in your system.

So my moral of the story for this is to be healthy and get an annual physical.

I’ll keep you all posted about the races this weekend!

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Setting Goals and Sticking With Them

Having goals is good, sticking with them to the end is even better.

If that sentence doesn’t scream, “duh,” I don’t know what does.

A few months ago I set out on a plan to try an improve my 5k time, a distance that I never really ran that much but found myself running more frequently this year. I’m still ways off of my 5k PR time but I wanted to improve my time from over the previous year. The year where I tried to get running consistently again over and over again.

This year has seen a tremendous improvement on the consistency so I knew that setting a goal like this was realistic. That’s part of the deal with settings goals — they should take work to achieve but still be in reach. That’s what I have found to keep moving forward and achieving those goals then setting new ones. That’s my life coaching hat I just put on for you.

(LC hat now removed)

So I kept plugging away at my training plan and enjoyed seeing the endurance return as well as the confidence. My next step was to actually go out and run a 5k race to achieve this. Details.

My original plan was to run a 5k while on a trip to Arizona but that just was not going to work out. So the next option was a 5k about a mile from my home. It was perfect. I could sleep in a bit and not have to rush to the race.

The weather the during the week was awesome and beautiful so of course that meant it was going to be chilly and pouring rain during the race. Thank you Mother Nature and Running Gods!

I pretty much knew that my goal time was not going to be met. But I accomplished my “B” goal of sticking to my race plan and having fun. The time goal would come another day.

That “another day” came on Memorial Day when I decided to sign up for a 5k on Roosevelt Island in NYC. Yup, it rained on race day! While it didn’t rain as heavy as my last 5k it did bring the temps down a bit. This time around I switched my “A” and “B” goals by making sticking to the race plan and having fun as the “A” goal and beating my time as my “B” goals.

This 5k course is flat so my chances of hitting both goals was improved before I even crossed the starting line. The start of this course has a couple of tight turns near the start and a couple at the finish. Other than that you just run around the island.

Turn out keeping it calm and relaxed did allow me to enjoy the race. It wasn’t until I was off the island and headed to my best buddy’s place that I realized that I hit my time goal. Yup, I had a bit of a goofy grin on my face when I realized that.

By having those realistic goals I was able to accomplish them and now am in full on training mode for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon on Labor Day Weekend. There was a hurricane there last year when my buddy and I went that brought the temps down to a very comfortable level. I’m fully expecting the super crazy heat and humidity this year that may make me wish that I never decided to do this race again. That’s just how it rolls!

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Just Running Around Here and There

Just because I haven’t anything in a gazillion weeks doesn’t mean that I have stopped running. Quite the contrary. I have been running and steadily building up my endurance. It’s just that I’ve been busy with other things lately. All good things but we’ll keep this post focused on the running since this a blog about running.

I can’t tell you what a difference a year makes. Last year at this point I was training for the Philly Broad Street Run and the Cape Cod Ragnar Relay. I was really overweight and focused on just being able to run three minutes without stopping.

Right now I’m at a much healthier weight with more to go and running much better and longer. Things are so much better that I’m back at the point where I feel a void if I don’t go out for a run. It seems like ages ago that I had that feeling.

I even got a chance to run in the Canadian Rockies last week when I had a quick overnight business trip to Banff. Running there was fantastic and invigorating. I’ve never been to Banff before and with just a quick turnaround I am so glad that I got the opportunity to see a little of the area we were staying in. I can’t wait to go back for a longer visit and run.

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It’s easy to forget how far you’ve run when this is in front of you. (c) Stacey Cooper

Next week I’ll be headed to Scottsdale, Arizona for another business trip and found a 5k that I’ll be able to participate in after my meetings are completed. I’ve been following a Coach Jenny training plan so that I can try and improve my 5k time from about a year ago. I’ve been feeling so strong while running that I’m sure I can achieve this goal.

After I take on the streets of Scottsdale I plan on running a local 5k that it about a mile from my home. It will be my first race in this area and I’m really looking forward to it before I start focusing on my next planned race, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Half Marathon in Virginia Beach during Labor Day weekend. My friend and I enjoyed it so much last year that we decided to do this one again. The course is really beautiful and I highly recommend it. Of course, last year we were there for a hurricane that kept the temperatures down so I’m expecting plenty of heat and humidity this year!

What may be the last big trip of the year that I’m in the planning stages for is the Havana Marathon. There are several races on my bucket list and even though I have always wanted to go to Cuba the timing of this race never seemed to fit and so it just remained a dream. Now it seems that the stars have aligned and I’ll be able to go this year! The trip is from November 17-20 and please let me know if you are going. Perhaps we can have a mini scoopsontherun blog meet-up!

I just wanted to give you a quick run-down (ha!) on what has been going on and the future plans. It’s spring and getting warmer so let’s get out there and be active!

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