Night Running

When I started running again as an adult for what now seems ages ago but in reality was really only in 2009 I always ran in the evening with the exception of weekends. It just seemed logical to me. I slept my usual hours, got up at my regular time, went to work, came home, took care of the dog, and then went running. Repeat as needed throughout the week.

Then in 2013 when my mother became ill and for a time had recovered enough to go home I committed myself (Ha! Perhaps if I really committed myself to an insane asylum things would have been so much easier!) to training for another marathon. Not only was it just train for the marathon but this time around I used a more intense training program. Doing these training runs during the evening and caring for my mother just was not going to happen.

What did happen was that I forced myself into becoming a morning runner. But I still only had a limited amount of time before work so that I could make sure that I got enough sleep. I devised a great plan of during those weekday training runs into two-a-day runs. There is always some debate about this but in my case it worked and my long runs were never compromised or turned into two-a-day runs.

I would get up at 4:30 in the morning and head out for a four mile run. When my body finally got accustomed to this new routine I thoroughly enjoyed this morning ritual and wondering why I had been so devoted to running at night. I can still recall that amazing feeling of being out on the roads so early that only a few other die hard runners were out and about. It was great to be out in the stillness of the early morning and only hearing your footfalls and the occasional automatic sprinkler turning on. There were the rare car or two but most often it was just me, the chipmunks scurrying about, and the few deer now and then.

During my lunch break I would head to the gym and run the remaining miles left for that day’s work out. I went through a tremendous amount of running clothes during the week but I was convinced that I was forever a convert to the early morning run.

But, as life would have it, my circumstances changed. My mother passed away and began to lose my desire for running, then when I tried to get back into it I got injured and then my consistency faded and I’m now in the up and down motion of running. When I get into a regular schedule everything works out well but as soon as I miss a few days it usually takes a few weeks to get back onto the road.

With getting back into regular training I have turned back into an evening runner. To put it more precisely, going to the gym right after work and running on the treadmill runner.

The book that helped motivate to re-learn how to run at night.

The book that helped motivate to re-learn how to run at night.

But lately I have been feeling the urge to start running outdoors during the evening. I’ve got a wonderful and safe route so there was no excuse that could prevent from going out.

So last night was the night, even though I had been home all day and could have gone out at any time during the day but I was lazy during the day. Hey, it happens. There was an NCIS: Los Angeles marathon on tv.

I got dressed around and headed out at 6:00 pm. Where I live its dark and not so crowded out. Ah, the ultimate definition of a bedroom community. Most of my route is well lit so thankfully no need for my head lamp. I met a really nice giant dog who was a giant mush ball and got tempted to stop for an Italian ice (the place by me is pretty famous), and got to look at some really big houses with awesome holiday lights.

I was reminded about how much I used to enjoy this. It was an easy run and everything felt great. Then things got a little tricky.

The last mile of my route is very dark and kind of woodsy with uneven sidewalks where they even exist. But I had come prepared, or so I thought.

I had been wearing my headlamp from the get go along with all of my reflective gear. I must mention that it is always important to run wise and make sure that you can be seen from a good distance by people and cars. (My PSA is complete). Yeah, but you should make sure everything is in working order before you head out.

Sure enough, when I reach up to turn my headlamp on nothing happened. Batteries = dead. Not all was lost because I at least had my cell phone and could use the flashlight on that. Yup, I left my small handheld light at home. Then, my cell phone died. #NightRunningFail.

Thankfully, I only stumbled once but nothing could take away my happiness of being able to go out for a nice relaxing run when most people were getting ready for the evening meals. I felt that I earned mine and started planning my run for the next evening.

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All That Thankful Stuff

So here I am on Thanksgiving with my dog stretched out on the sofa with me. My best buddy will be here later and we will chow down on our Thanksgiving feast. I am so thankful for that but this a running blog so let me do a quicksy review of running things that I am thankful for without it being all too end of the year review-like. We still have 38 more days until the end of the year and more to accomplish.

I’m thankful for my 25th and 30th half marathons. Number 25 was the Miami Half that I wasn’t at all trained for and walked half of it. Not pretty at all but it is one that I was incredibly proud of. I could have easily dropped out for the first half of that race but somehow kept going.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Brooklyn Half was not supposed to be number 30 but just a training run for the NYC Marathon. I just was not able to train consistently for the marathon this year and I figured I would give it one last attempt. If I could do an 18 mile long run I would feel confident enough to give it a go and run the marathon. With that in mind, I added Grete’s Great Gallop to my race schedule with the goal of adding an additional five miles. The additional five didn’t materialize and at that point I knew the marathon was out of the question.

I think that gave me some relief in just going out there and running with nothing on the line. I finished, collected a nice medal and bonus R’n’R goodies, and made my way home.

With race behind me I was just able to relax and not get all hyped up about the fall marathon season. The only races I put on my schedule were a few 5k’s with zero pressure. I’m thankful for being able to run without any pressure and just enjoy it.

Since I’m just enjoying things I feel great about running regularly again I can start thinking about accomplishing things that are not racing related. So with that I’m going to participate in the Runner’s World Run Streak. I’ve done this in the past but during the summer from Memorial Day through July 4. This one will be from today, Thanksgiving, to January 1.

runners-world-run-streak-cover-photo-finalI ran two miles this morning and can’t wait to hit the road tomorrow for a few miles. I’m so thankful that I feel like this is a a doable challenge.

But really, I’m super thankful for the turkey that I’m about to put in the oven!


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Yup, I’m Still Here

Oh boy it has been a really long long time since I posted something. Thankfully, I have mostly good and upbeat running updates to give you all.

I’ve been running!

Not as consistently as I would like but I have been running and doing some races here and there. Well, more races as of late.

So let’s see about getting us all caught up on what has been happening lately.

The summer was going along at a pretty smooth pace and I had started my NYC Marathon training. The first few weeks were going well and then I had to move. This happened a little quicker than planned so I had to quickly find a new place to live, pack up the old stuff, move to the new place, unpack, and buy a shit ton of stuff for the new place. And oh by the way, I also switched departments at work. All around the same time.

The first day of this moving process started off well with me temporarily relocating to a hotel with my dog and then getting to run in the hotel in gym. Then the move took over and I did not get a chance to run for another month. Yikes!

At this point I was only able to get out for a run maybe once every couple of weeks. Slight panic about marathon training started to creep in at this point. I felt my conditioning slipping but at the same time I was completely freaking out, just the mild panic. I consider this to be a major improvement!

My hope that I could somewhat right the ship so to speak was with some upcoming races I had scheduled. I had registered for a few races to supplement my long runs and to keep them somewhat interesting.


Picking up some bling for a race that got canceled and one that I ran. Thank you Virginia Beach for not disappointing! (c) Stacey Cooper

So I first headed to Virginia Beach for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon over Labor Day weekend. The plan was to do the one mile beach run on Saturday and then the Half on Sunday. Well Hurricane Hermine had other ideas and was expected to pass over Virginia Beach that weekend. Our Beach Mile was canceled due to the storm but everything was looking great for the half. In fact, we were actually going to have cool weather!

Surprisingly I wasn’t even anxious about this and was to calmly and happily finish this race. Who am I?

The course was beautiful and I felt great about completing it without too much difficulty. It was a great confidence booster and gave me some hope about my marathon “training.”

My plan was to do some actual training runs when I got back but of course that never happened.

Two weeks later I was off to Philadelphia for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia 5k and Half Marathon.

The 5k was on Saturday and I was very restrained and focused on not working too hard. But I did have one little incident with another runner on the course. This one guy decided to be an idiot and run backwards so he could take a picture of his friend/girlfriend/wife and he ran into me from behind. He did step on the back of my leg and shook me up a bit. Thankfully I didn’t get hurt but please fellow runners, don’t be idiots and take pictures while running backwards or use those dumb selfie sticks!


A very blurry photo on the back portion of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philly Half. Another beautiful course! (c) Stacey Cooper

The half was on Sunday and again it went well. My legs did feel a little heavy especially when we had some slight inclines to go up and for me that was more due to lack of consistent training. If I had been training consistently my legs would be more than used to the back to back days of running. My overall time was not too far off from my Virginia Beach time so again, I felt confident about the results.

I followed that up with the NYRR Bronx 10 mile race this past Sunday. Again, no training in between. This is a very, very bad pattern and I urge the rest of you not to do this!

I felt rested enough, ha, I should be considering that I didn’t run at all! I took it steady and loved the new course for this race with the finish line next to Yankee Stadium. And no disrespect to Lehman College but I was so happy that the course did not go all the way around there. That section was always so lonely and desolate that one really felt that they


More bling! Happy to have completed this one. I’m a runner again! (c) Stacey Cooper

were no where near civilization.

This was a bit of a redemption race for me. The last time I ran this was two years ago and it was during this race that I realized that I could no longer ignore the pain in my foot. That lead me to a doctor and my severely swollen metatarsals. It took me so long to recover and get my confidence back. I can finally say that after finishing this race I really felt like a runner again.

It took a long time to get back here but I can finally say that I am back mentally and emotionally. That in itself is perhaps one of the biggest challenges there is and to conquer that is huge.

So I have completed some races and now have to actually get down to some real training. I know I can possibly salvage this year’s marathon. This weekend is my 18 mile long run followed by the Rock ‘n’ Roll Brooklyn Half the weekend after and the my 20 mile long run. This means I will only have one 20 miler under my belt but I figure if I can complete the 18 and 20 milers I can do the marathon. It won’t be pretty or for any time goals but it can be done. Considering that I missed the past two years with injuries I will consider that a great accomplishment!


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I’m Still Running!

Ugh, I have been so neglectful with this blog lately. Work has been very busy and I’ve been running in between.

Since I’m so horrible at race recaps this might actually work better. I can give you a brief synopsis of each race I have done with out going into all the details that I never seem to write about very well.

Philly Broad Street Run — This was the big one I was training for. I felt that if I could get close to what I did last year where this race sort of began my downward spiral that I could use it has by springboard into getting back into running/racing somewhat regularly. The week before the race I was thinking that I could even improve my time but then the weather decided to play a role.

From the moment I left my hotel for the race to the moment I got back it nothing but rain and rain, and rain even more. My corral started an hour after the first one so by the time I crossed the start line my feet were soaked and I was just cold. I ran with the plastic garbage bag on me the whole way. Mind you, not because of the rain but just because I was cold.

While I was waiting to start I eased back up on my plans and was happy to finish just a wee bit slower than last year. I ran well in the sections that I wanted to and knew what areas needed improvement going forward.

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I think all races should start near the water with this sunrise. (c) Stacey Cooper

Ragnar Cape Cod Relay — 12 women, 2 vans, 192 miles. What an amazing experience! Seriously, if you ever get a chance to do this type of relay please do.

I was so worried that I would be too slow and that I would let my team down but I didn’t need to worry. Everyone was so supportive of each other and it was so much fun.

I say this even though all of my legs had hills near the end and that it pure crazy heavy rain during my nighttime run on my second leg.

Retro 4 Miler — This was my first NYRR race since last year’s Pride Run and I was very nervous about this one. Even though I had been running with the beginners group I was co-leading for my running club, I still hadn’t run the four mile loop in Central park until the day before the race. Yeah, good timing on my part.

So it rained during this race too. I swear, mother nature does not like me. But at least this rain was the type I like. Nothing too hard but still made me feel a little hardcore.

I was bit slower than I wanted to be but for a first race back in Central Park I thought I did ok. Again, I know what I need to work on going forward and actually got to do some of that today during my run.

My next race is the Front Runner’s New York LGBT Pride Run on June 25. My favorite race of the year. It also just happens to be my first “long run” for my NYC Marathon training. For the first time I am going to do a 20 week training plan instead of the usual 18 week plan. I figured the two extra weeks will help me ease into he plan and get some extra base miles in so that I can really focus on the marathon.

This has to be one of my favorite times of year and Im so happy that running is a part of it again!

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I’m a Runner Again!

I can’t believe how happy I am to write that headline!

This is the plan I started so many months ago and kept restarting. This time I finally completed it.

This is the plan I started so many months ago and kept restarting. This time I finally completed it.

This week will be final week of that zero to 5k training plan that I started a gazillion months ago. The goal was to force myself to build up my endurance to avoid my usual cycle of re-injuring myself.

I have to admit that each time I tried to start this plan I was not at all confident in my abilities to re-engage with this sport. Maybe I still needed time away from it to heal emotionally. Who knows, but even as I started out this final time, it took a few weeks to feel I was improving. But I did.

As I was completing this past week’s schedule I just kept thinking over and over again that I was running again. That I am a runner again. I couldn’t stop smiling.

I’m a bit giddy about this and even more excited that the weather is finally cooperating so I can hit the roads again as a runner. To be able to start strategizing about my upcoming race is such a wonderful feeling that I didn’t think I would really experience again.

Speaking about that. I’m not putting any pressure on myself time-wise. I want to run the Philly Board 10 Miler and just be happy that I’m running again since I wasn’t exactly happy last year. This one is just about enjoying the experience.

Happy running people!

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Celebrating the Little Things

When I was going through the deepest part of my depression last year my therapist kept stressing to me that I needed to step back and appreciate some of the basic things I did as major accomplishments.

As I was running my reps from my training plan yesterday I was thinking that I had accomplished a lot and I was really happy and excited. Yes, this is from a person who has run countless 4 mile races, a whole bunch of 10ks, a few 10 milers, 26 half marathons, and three full marathons. But remember, I had hit my rock bottom as a runner late last year and am now starting over from the very beginning.

What I have learned along the way is to let go of measuring my current self against those past accomplishments and appreciate my steady improvement as I build myself back up again. That is probably the hardest thing to do.  But that is what this training plan has given me the opportunity to do and I am forever grateful for that.

This is from the Wortsboro 30k a little over two years ago. Also, probably the last time I smiled during that race. It was hilly and a major accomplishment in my running.

This is from the Wortsboro 30k a little over two years ago. Also, probably the last time I smiled during that race. It was hilly and a major accomplishment in my running.

So when I was on the middle rep of my training run yesterday I was reminded of the time when I was training for my first marathon. It was time when every long run was a point of celebration, Every 14 mile, 15, 16, 18, and 20 mile distance was new and a huge sense of pride in completing that long run.

In the following years marathon training became more about beating my previous time and not so much on cherishing the little victories along the way. That is how running was becoming for me, just logging the miles and appreciating them.

That really changed for me yesterday. Yes, I’ve logged many miles and distances but after not being able to run, not wanting to be able to run, and having a hard time getting back on track I finally feel as though I’m making progress.

I was so happy after my run and that I hit a wonderful new milestone in my training. I loved that I was sweating, I loved how my lungs and legs felt. I walked away with a smile and yeah, I celebrated that little victory yesterday and can’t wait to celebrate some more.

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Having Some Faith

Sometimes it can be difficult to stick with a training plan and believe that you will see the steady improvement each week.

When you follow your plan as closely as possible you don’t always notice the subtle increases in total minutes running or mileage added. That’s the point of the plans. You build up gradually and that ta-dah you have achieved your goal.

In all of the plans I have used from Hal Higdon, Coach Jenny, and numerous others they all require you to take that leap of faith. Suddenly there is that week where you need to run 10 miles on Wednesday or instead of increasing our run minutes by one minute each week they suddenly increase by two. But if you have been following your plan you begin to realize that you can accomplish this new distance.

Just a little snippet of what consistency looks like. (c) Stacey Cooper

Just a little snippet of what consistency looks like. (c) Stacey Cooper

Since I got back from DC I have been focusing on sticking to my training plan and thankfully I can say that I have been able to that. A new gym (Hi, Blink!) where I feel welcome has helped me show up even on the hard it’s too cold to do anything days.

I’ve been following the plan and starting to feel like a runner again. But this past week was one that had me concerned. It was one of those jump weeks. I’ve been following a run/walk plan to force myself to slowly build up without getting injured again. Every week we have been increasing our run minutes by one minute each week. This week it was two.

I was bracing myself for it and tried to be as mentally prepared as possible. If I accomplished this increase it would be a huge confident boost. If not, well, it would have been a blow.

To cut to the chase and not build up suspense — I did it! Seriously, I should have trusted Coach Jenny and this plan.

When one of my buddies joined me at the gym on Friday evening I decided to run a couple of extra intervals and I did it. While we were running, I had mentioned that I was finally feeling like everything was connecting and coming in line with my running.

I put my faith into this plan and I feel so confident and excited to go running again. It has been so long since I have felt like that!

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