Sky Runs

Taking the long way round

Category: Training (page 1 of 2)

Whippets Take Manhattan 50K Fat Ass-Fundraiser-Fun Run

 

This was my incredible send-off to the 2015 IAU 24-Hour World Championships. My final long training run before heading to Italy and one of my all-time favorite running experiences.

Back around mid-February, perhaps inspired by the fundraising efforts of others on the US team, some of my NYC running club teammates inquired if I had any fundraising plans and if they could do anything to help. Honestly I hadn’t given any thought to fundraising- apart from the funds committed by USATF and the IAU, and the very generous support of RunnerClinicNYC, I fully expected to cover the rest of the costs out of my own pocket.  I hoped to secure some kind of stipend from the NY office of USATF, as our team manager said we could contact regional chapters about this, but had no luck there.

So I got to thinking, if people would like to support my efforts, I would certainly be grateful for any help. But rather than just say, “hey, gimme some money!,” I wanted to do something special for the fundraising and give something back that could be of value to the running community- so I came up with the idea of organizing a 50K run around the perimeter of Manhattan and making shirts to commemorate the run (and, by extension, my participation in the world championships). The run around Manhattan is something many runners might think of doing but wouldn’t necessarily know how to- there are some tricky stretches, and the two times I had done the route previously I wound up somewhat lost in Harlem, where there is no path by the river.

I felt uncomfortable asking people to donate just to run with me, so I decided run itself would be free and open to all, with donations of $20+ getting a shirt. And knowing that 50K is not everyone’s idea of a fun run, I encouraged people to join for whatever mileage they felt up to and we combined it with the regularly scheduled Saturday morning Whippets run which I co-host- mainly I wanted to have a big running/going-away party!

A few weeks before the run, I scouted out the more unfamiliar northern half of the route to make sure I’d get all the directions right. I thought about letting people “race” Fat Ass-style, but figured it would be more fun if we could stay together as much as possible or at least regroup regularly, so I planned stops every 4-6 miles, where people could also find toilets and buy food or drink. These break points were near public transit, so others could also join in or leave the run as needed. I estimated the full route, with breaks, would take about 6 hours (5 hours of running at an easy pace, plus 1 hour divided among the five rest stops, waiting for traffic lights, etc.).

Im a sticker!

Im a sticker!

Thanks to my the design talents of Dashing Whippets teammates Patricia Tirona and Jerlyn Thomas, and financial support from the Whippets and RunnerClinicNYC, I was able to offer a nice soft long-sleeved cotton t-shirt (with snug ladies sizing too) and a commemorative sticker that I had printed up while I was in Hong Kong. I got back from Hong Kong late on Thursday night, organized all the things on Friday, and was up bright and early on Saturday to get rolling.

The ultra-rock star Mary Arnold of New York Running Company in Time Warner Center had offered to open the store early so that people could leave drop bags there for the finish, and she even brought coffee. There were already a bunch of people there by the time I got there around 7:45, and I was soon busy distributing shirts and stickers, posing for photos and signing some shirts. Mary was a great help with keeping things organized, as we had to hurry down to meet the other crowd of mainly Whippets who had gathered downstairs.

Swag pickup. Photo: Jerlyn Thomas

Swag pickup. Photo: Jerlyn Thomas

I made some announcements- most importantly, about food and beer downstairs afterwards, and we were ready to go around 8:10. It was cold! When I started thinking of this run back in February, the only Saturdays I could fit into my schedule were March 7 or 28, and I picked the later date for a better chance of nice weather. Not so, as we had a final bit of winter in store, but at least the paths were clear compared to earlier in the month, when too many of the uptown sections would have been covered in snow and slush.

Briefing the downstairs crew. Photo: Vincent Hsu

Briefing the downstairs crew. Photo: Vincent Hsu

Here’s the rest of the run, mostly in photos:

Early miles heading down the west side. Photo: Vincent Hsu

Early miles heading down the west side. Photo: Vincent Hsu

We started a little faster than expected.

First stop, South Ferry/ Staten Island Ferry Terminal Building (mile 6). Photo: TSP

First stop, South Ferry/ Staten Island Ferry Terminal Building (mile 6). Photo: TSP

Best to get the downtown portion of the run over with early before the area gets busy with tourists.

Heading north, we pass under the first of three bridges on the east side. Photo: Vincent Hsu

Heading north, we pass under the first of three bridges on the east side.  Photo: Vincent Hsu

We started seeing snowflakes as we headed uptown and some of us thought we were hallucinating.

After a detour onto First Ave. due to the UN, we took our next break at 59th and First Ave and a few others joined us there. Photo: Vincent Hsu

After a detour onto First Ave. due to the UN, we took our next break at 59th and First Ave (mile 12) and a few others joined us there. Photo: Vincent Hsu

 

Photo: Vincent Hsu

Up the East River Promenade. Photo: Vincent Hsu

Into Harlem, a bit of zigzagging inland as there is no river path through this part of town. C’mon NYC- let’s give this neighborhood river access like the rest of the city! But we got to see some of historic Harlem- 125th St and Malcolm X Blvd.

Starbucks at 145th and Bradhurst mile 18. Photo: Wade Lambert

Third stop: Starbucks at 145th and Bradhurst (mile 18.) Photo: Wade Lambert

We all went a bit crazy for coffee, food and the restrooms at the Starbucks here and spent a bit more time than scheduled.

Giant stairs on the way to Harlem River Drive. Photo: TSP

Giant stairs on the way to Harlem River Drive. Photo: TSP

By now the snow was really coming down. and we are running into a headwind. Crazy!

Twin Donut. Photo: Vincent Hsu

Twin Donut. Photo: Vincent Hsu

Fourth and most fabulous stop: Twin Donut at 218th and Broadway (Mile 22.5). We were running a bit late due to our extended break at the Starbucks but that gave a few more people a chance to meet us there, including Eric who had gone to the other Twin Donut 2 miles south of here!

GWB. Photo: Vincent Hsu

GWB. Photo: Vincent Hsu

Onto Seaman Avenue, Riverside Drive and the west side, with a few bits of hill before we head under the GWB and cruise the flats to the finish. The snow has stopped and the wind is at our backs, we can even see the clouds are starting to break.

Fifth and final stop: Fairway Supermarket at 125th and Riverside Drive (mile 27.5) I told folks back at Twin Donut that this stop would be optional since it was only 4 miles to the finish from here. We only pause briefly to say goodbye to Sara who has to get back to her family.

A few more miles to the finish. We have one more uphill stretch to climb in the last half mile back to TWC. I tell my companions we have to run it since we haven’t walked any of the previous 31 miles. I do feel a little tired in the last two miles.

Photo: Tiger Ellen

Photo: Tiger Ellen

And then we were done! Beer and food at Whole Foods Tap Room: a great spot for post-race/long run activities since you can bring in whatever you want to eat from the supermarket.

Huge thank you to everyone who joined for any mileage, and congrats to the full 50K finishers: Jeremy (longest run ever!), Martin, Wade, Margaret, Themba, Jerlyn, Otto, Stephen, Keila, Vincent and Vadim! I am so happy I could get a bunch of around your first trip around Manhattan!

Week in Review: 3/23

Monday: 11 miles easy

Tuesday: Rest and strength training

Wednesday: 6 miles easy

Thursday: 9 miles mostly easy to moderate with a few short intervals, strength workout

Friday: 5 miles easy

Saturday: 32 miles easy

Sunday: 13 miles easy

 

Training Lag and Managing the Hurt

I’ve fallen behind in posting regularly. So sorry. What I’ve discovered is that it doesn’t always feel so interesting to me to write about training, training, training, especially when much of it is solitary and involves struggling through (what I hope is only) a minor overuse injury. Mentally, that has been a drain and I’ve been in an ongoing funk over it that comes and goes depending on how my last run felt. There are moments of great excitement too- it’s been great fun planning my fatass fundraising fun run and the support has been overwhelming, and Team USA uniforms arrived this past week- a huge bounty of gear that I look forward to wearing with pride!

Two weeks of high mileage (for me) in late February– with most of the second week on the treadmill–  left me with some growing aches and pains in the left calf. It felt like shinsplints, something I haven’t had a lot of experience with, but it was also tender to the touch along the bone, which set off alarms in my head over the possibility of a stress fracture, something I’ve been lucky to have zero experience with so far. During a cutdown week earlier this month I had to cut a workout short, something I hated doing, and luckily got an appointment with my chiro for the same day. He checked the bone and said it was unlikely to be a bone issue (yet), got to work on the muscles and prescribed a day off and seeing how it went on the weekend.

It went well. I felt fine on moderate long runs that Saturday and Sunday. But then it got iffy again the following week during my second speed workout of the week- another one cut short. More easy running and some revisions to my training plan from my coach. Another expensive trip to my chiro. Plenty of sleep. Ice, exercises, massage and rolling. The good news is I’ve nailed some key longer workouts without any pain, including a 2-hour interval session, pacing 1:50 at the NYC half with extra miles before and after, and running a fast-ish hilly 15K in Hong Kong this weekend, again bookended with some easy mileage. Now racing – that is a bit more exciting to write about so I’ll have a full report up soon.

Weeks in Review:

3/2

Monday: Rest and acupuncture

Tuesday: 12 miles with long intervals on the treadmill, strength workout

Wednesday: 8 miles with 10×1 hill repeats

Thursday: AM: 4.5 miles easy PM: 3.5 miles treadmill, strength workout

Friday: Deep-water running class, 2 mile walk.

Saturday: 15 miles mostly easy

Sunday: 15.5 miles easy, deep tissue massage

3/9

Monday: 3 miles easy, 1 hour elliptical intervals, 3 miles easy

Tuesday: 16-mile long interval workout, strength workout

Wednesday: 5.5 miles easy, 4.5 miles walking

Thursday: AM: 6 miles with some intervals, 3 miles walking

Friday: AM: 3 miles easy PM: 5 miles easy, 2 miles walking

Saturday: 8.5 miles moderate pace

Sunday: 2.5 mile warmup, paced 1:50 at NYC Half, 6 mile cooldown

3/16

Monday: 7.5 miles alternating easy and hard effort, chiro and acupuncture

Tuesday: AM: 6.5 miles easy PM: 5 miles easy, strength workout

Wednesday: AM: 5 miles easy PM: 6.5 miles alternating easy and hard

Thursday: 10 miles easy to moderate progression, strength workout

Friday: Off due to travel and the time difference

Saturday: 6.5 miles easy, strength workout

Sunday: 4 mile warmup, 15K race, 4 mile cooldown

 

Midway

So it’s about halfway through the training cycle for Italy and I’m doing a bit of stock-taking.

Overall, I am stronger. My muscles have never been sore from the running, whether I’m doing doubles on days with long interval workouts or back-to-back long runs on the weekends. That is unprecedented for me. The worse muscular aches have come from massage (thanks Tiger Ellen) and one bootcamp-style class back in January.

The streak got completed. I ran every day for a month, sometimes twice a day. And yeah, I know February is a really short month, so I bookended it with running on January 31 and March 1 for good measure. 30 days, done.

I’m not sure it was the best idea for my body, which really wanted a break during the last week, but I was stubborn and determined to finish what I started. That’s a little issue I have with my training: once a goal gets put in my mind I’m gonna reach it- whether it’s minutes or miles or months. For example, yesterday I had 10×1-minute hill repeats scheduled at the end of my run. After the first one I felt godawful and thought I should just call it a day. But I did the second one and it wasn’t as bad, so I kept going. It was worth it just for this moment: heading back down after the last repeat, and older gentlemen who’d been walking his dog stopped by the side of the road to applaud my effort. Literally clapping.

But I’m at the point where training advice gets challenging. You have to listen to your body, but you also have to push through its pain to make it stronger. There’s the fixed training schedule and  there’s how I feel. The highs and lows come in every training run and before and after- mental preparation for what to expect during the run itself.

I ran long intervals on the treadmill with an upset tummy. I spent what felt like half of last weekend on the damned machine, and I am by no means a treadmill-hater. It’s just that enough is enough already.

There are other small sacrifices along the way. I was feeling pre-cold symptoms coming on so I cut back on my outdoor running time when it was very cold, missing out on social runs. I set aside my minor dream of running a sub-4 50K until next year. I cut back on my carb intake. I don’t go to parties and limit myself to a few sips of beer at occasional dinners. I don’t even go on runs that promise to end with hot chocolate and pastries (well more because it was too cold that day). These are minor things. I rely on plenty of hot coffee and hot baths to get me through each day, each workout. And I’m fortunate I get to do this.

My brain is a bit tired of all the speed work and parts of my legs have been crying out at me on a daily basis, which makes it harder to do the speed work as I have to channel more mental energy into it, thus tiring the brain even more- a bad cycle. So this next week is a bit of a cutback week following the last 2 intense weeks, which includes letting go of one of my short speed sessions because I have some calf pain that is aggravated by very fast running. And hopefully this week is also the last of the real winter weeks- snow, cold, ice, freezing rain, more cold- we’re really packing it in!

 Week in Review 2/23

Monday: 4 miles easy, about 150 pushups and light core work

Tuesday: AM: 11 miles with intervals and strength workout. PM: 3 miles easy and acupuncture

Wednesday: AM: 5 mile tempo. PM: 2 mile walk

Thursday: 13 miles with intervals on the treadmill and strength workout

Friday: 5.5 miles easy to moderate

Saturday: AM: 6 miles moderate pace outside. PM: 12 miles long intervals on the treadmill and strength workout

Sunday: 2 miles outside and 19 miles on the treadmill with some hills mixed in, easy to moderate pace

And the Streak Goes On

I’ve never been a streaker, neither the naked kind nor the running kind.

And while I have no interest in taking off all my clothes and dashing outside (especially in this weather!) I’ve sometimes been intrigued by long-term run-streaking and its gateway drug, REDFAM (Run Every Day For A Month), though I could never see myself putting on running clothes and getting sweaty just get one mile in to maintain a streak- I’d spend more time getting ready than running! I’ve always preferred to run at least 4 miles or 40 minutes in one go, and it’s only very recently that I can stand to run only three miles at a time- usually it’s the second run of the day and/or me running to get somewhere. Just another funky runner’s quirk.

When I started running a decade ago, I was, at best, an every other day kind of runner. I always needed at least a day to recover from any kind of effort. By five years ago, I could manage two days on, one day off, and three days straight would be pushing my limits. Over the last couple of years I gradually built up to four, five, even six days without a break, but as recently as last March I became Little Miss Crankypants when I hit nine or ten days of continuous training.

Less than a year later, it’s late February and we’re in the home stretch of my first REDFAM. I didn’t set out to do this. Even though my current training plan doesn’t have any scheduled days off for February, any of the easy days can be taken as a rest day or used for cross-training. But now we’re in the final week of February and my last rest day was on January 30th, and before that I had completed a 20-day streak (about twice as long as I had ever run before). Even after back-to-back long runs this past weekend, I feel like I can carry on with my usual training for a while longer. All of my runs have been at least 3 miles or so, and I’ve run twice on about half a dozen of the days so far.

I don’t really know how this happened. I’ve had some difficult moments, like last Friday, the day after a long-ish session of very cold early morning speedwork, when I felt moody, but my short run and pool running class later in the day left me feeling much better. My muscles aren’t screaming at me or demanding a break, and it doesn’t seem to take me as long to get that warmed-up feeling at the start of a run. My body is working differently now, and while I can’t pinpoint exactly what is doing what to me, I’d like to give shoutout to my coach Michele Yates’s Rugged Running training plan, as well as the products and services provided by my sponsors Carbo-Pro, Runner Clinic NYC, and Tiger Ellen LMT of Knot It Out Now Massage.

But as one streak continues, another comes to a close. I started a pushup challenge on January 1, an idea I got from a runner I met last year. The concept goes like this: do one pushup on January 1, two on January 2, and so on, adding one pushup per day of the year until you are doing hundreds of pushups a day, up to 365 on December 31. But as I got into the low 50s I started to feel that the pushups were starting to detract from my main focus of running and strength training- so I’d take a day off here and there and make up for it the next day- easy enough to do now but it will be far more difficult to make up later- especially when I’m tapering , recovering and running for 24 to 30+ hours at the races I have scheduled for this year. I took the weekend off while I was running long and exhausted after getting home, and did a total of 150-ish yesterday (in sets of 15-25), which is a huge enough accomplishment for my spaghetti arms.

Week in Review 2/16

Monday: 7 miles easy to moderate on the treadmill

Tuesday: AM: 10 miles of intervals and strength workout. PM: 3 miles easy. Acupuncture

Wednesday: 4.5 miles easy with some hills, 1-hour MELT class

Thursday: AM: 11 miles with intervals. PM: 3.5 miles easy to moderate and strength workout

Friday: 3.5 miles easy and 45-minute pool running class

Saturday: 18.5 miles moderate to hard to easy

Sunday: 22.5 miles easy, lower body massage

Training Takes No Holidays

Since I was already out of town pacing for Rocky Raccoon, I figured why not extend the break from the cold a little longer. I spent the week in Miami and the Florida Keys, ruining my diet with every variety of fried conch fritters and Key Lime Pie encountered, but I held up my end on the training front. After the first day, when I put of my run until late in the day and felt anxious about it the whole time, I woke up early every morning to get my workout in before the temperatures rose and it was time to go sightseeing and do other fun stuff.

... to this

… to this

Back home on Sunday, I completed my first proper long run in a while, 3 loops and change in Central Park with clouds, cold and wind. Reality bites.

 Week in Review: 2/2

Monday: 5-mile tempo

Tuesday: 11 miles long intervals and strength workout

Wednesday: 5-mile tempo

Thursday: 7 miles short intervals and strength workout

Friday: 4 miles easy

Saturday: 8.5 miles short intervals and strength workout

Sunday: 20 miles mostly easy

Pacing at Rocky Raccoon

Winter officially arrived with the threat of a record snowstorm in NYC that didn’t turn out to be all that and a bag of chips, but still managed to shut everything down, including my gym. I made up for it by doing stair sprint repeats in my building’s stairwell, destroying my calves in the process.

So the timing was perfect for a getaway to anywhere warmer, and when I heard that my friend Yoshiko was in need of a pacer for her sub-20 goal time at the Rocky Raccoon 100-miler, I couldn’t wait to pack my bags. I’ve been curious about the Rocky Raccoon race for some time, as it’s supposed to be one of the “easier” trail 100s, run on a relatively flat but rooty 20-mile loop course.

I flew out early on Friday just as another bout of snow started to drop, experienced a few stressful fight delays but eventually got lucky with my connections to Houston and hit the road to Huntsville with crewman Ken and Jackie, who was also running. We did the usual pre-race stuff: picked up supplies at Target, at went to packet pickup and the pre-race briefing, had an early and excellent dinner at Lindo Mexico, picked up more supplies and attempted to get to bed early.

Saturday morning Ken and I got to sleep in since we had enough cars to go around. We headed to the start/finish area in time to see our runners come through after their first loop. Yoshiko was right on schedule and looking strong. The weather was mild, with the threat of rain holding off during the day at least. Of course, mild weather for running = cold for me to stand around in, so I was ridiculously bundled up out there.

After the first round

After the first round

Apparently in previous years crews were allowed to drive out to the further aid stations, making the job a round the clock one, but this year there was a new rule: no cars at aid stations. From a crewing perspective, that meant we had plenty of time to go and do other important stuff, like eat and take naps. Ken and I went out to pick up some more supplies and coffee and donuts before going for lunch at Bennie J’s Smoke Pit, the real deal Texas BBQ.

Pre-pace meal

Pre-pace meal

We came back to wait for our runners to come from their second loop, the last time we would see them before we started pacing into the night. Yoshiko was behind. I asked runners who knew her and had been near her earlier if they had seen her and was told she was coming soon, 5 to 10 minutes behind, they both said, even though they were about 15 minutes apart.

The hardest part of crewing for me is the waiting. I am the extremely anxious one standing at the edge of the course, neck craned trying to spot my runner, worry mounting over each minute of lateness. Yoshiko arrived about half an hour behind her 20-hour schedule looking a little flustered- her hands were puffy and she had gotten very dizzy on the course: sodium imbalance, possibly too many electrolytes. She didn’t seem to be dizzy anymore, so I told her to stop taking electrolyte pills and to drink only plain water and to eat non-salty food until the swelling started to go down, and gave her some ginger candy and coke to calm the tummy. It was too bad, she said the dream of sub-20 was gone, but she would still finish.

Crew city

Crew city at Rocky Raccoon

After our runners left Ken and I went to the car for a nap before we came back ready to pace. I slept solidly in the back seat for close to two hours, then dressed and readied up for the long night. As I waited for Yoshiko there was a little rain, it got dark, and Ian Sharman came in for the win. Yoshiko was not far behind and we headed out after a brief break for her.

I had forgotten that I’m still pretty uncomfortable running trails in the dark, especially with my crappy headlamps that just got crappier. Due to a baggage snafu at The North Face 50-Miler in December, the headlamp I had dropped off at the designated aid station after sunrise never made it back to me, but a staffer from the race production company’s Dallas office kindly offered to give me some of the other headlamps that were never claimed, and it just happened that he was coming down to Rocky Raccoon to volunteer. I was hoping for a Petzl Nao but instead I got two older but usable headlamps, each with their own flaws. Worried about relying on an unfamiliar piece of gear to do something important, I mostly stuck with my old backup headlamp, a Petzl Tikka with a cover that keeps popping off at the wrong times.

The course was not quite as rooty as I expected, in that the roots were spaced apart pretty nicely, but that is the thing that lulls one into a false sense of security, and with my crappy light source it was very hard to make out exactly where all the roots were. I fell twice in the early miles- the first time was an easy slow-motion tumble that I brushed off as no biggie, but the second came with a hard smack to the right knee, the kind that forced me to walk it off for a few minutes as I questioned my fitness for this treacherous overnight pacing gig. I knew I would pay for this later with swelling and discomfort, but at least I hit a new spot near the top of the kneecap, not further down where it had been hurt a few too many times before.

Yoshiko had asked me to run in front of her early on, but I kept getting too far ahead and I didn’t like that feeling, so after about 12 miles I asked her to go in front and I would pace her from behind. This worked out better as we could stay close together and when the trail opened up a bit we could run side-by-side. We came back in to the start/finish after around five and half hours which was good, it meant we were not losing much time on each lap. Yoshiko wasted no time getting out of the aid station as I was still fiddling with my gear, I’d catch up to her in a bit. It was still warm-ish so shed most of the excess clothing I had carried (windbreaker, buff, gloves and the outer layer of socks) but I kept my poncho just in case.

Even though our second loop together took a bit longer, it went by quicker because we were chatting more and we knew it was the last round. We had a bit of pouring rain, enough that I was glad to have the poncho handy, though of course as soon as I put it on the rain would ease off significantly. Once the sun started to rise and we hit the last stretch, Yoshiko took off at a fast enough pace that I wondered whether I should have pushed her harder earlier on. Her hands had still been puffy throughout the night, and given the uncertain risks I felt more comfortable keeping her company and making sure she was safe and taken care of.

The course became downright lovely in the daytime, and the roots were much easier to spot, though I’m still unsure of whether this will be one for me to race, as I still managed to fall (lightly) one more time after the sun came up. The organization was really terrific, with well stocked aid stations and kind volunteers and all the good stuff you’d expect from a well-run 100 mile race, including some very cool awards.

Week in Review: 1/26

Monday: 6.5 miles easy to moderate

Tuesday: AM: 3 miles easy out in the snow. PM: 17 x 1 minute stair intervals

Wednesday: AM: 5 miles walking. PM: Pool running class

Thursday: AM: 7 miles short intervals. PM: 3-mile tempo and strength workout

Friday: Off

Saturday-Sunday: 40 miles pacing

RRCA Coaching Certification

No wonder I’m tired, and it’s not just 6-hours of sleep the last few nights when I prefer 8ish. I had one rest day in the last four weeks, and ran consecutively for 20 days, a new streak PR by something like 10 days. I like my rest, and I get cranky when I go too many days running without a break. Yet it seems like my tolerance has gone up with training, because it wasn’t until the last few days that I began to feel the effects of so many consecutive training days. And again, the lack of sleep probably contributed quite a bit.

For my patience I got a bonus of two days off, not because it was strictly necessary but because I planned to attend the 2-day RRCA Coaching Certification Course offered in somewhat nearby Oakhurst, New Jersey. Anyone who has attended one of these courses will understand that the hardest part may be just getting in. New courses are announced by email, so the first step is getting on the email list. Next is finding a course: they are offered irregularly in somewhat random locations, and with only 42 spots per session, they fill up muy rapido. The organization of courses is a bit funky because each course needs a “host,” ie someone local who can provide a venue for the course over the weekend. (Point being, if you really want to attend a course in your area, find some space and ask RRCA to come to your hood, and as a thank you for your efforts your registration will be comped).

Our course was held at a pre-school

Our course was held at a pre-school

The course was held over two full days, starting at 8am and wrapping up some time after 4pm. There were slightly more women in attendance than men, and the average age skewed older, with quite a few of us in our 40s and 50s, it seemed. Many were already involved in coaching within their local communities, some professionally, and to my surprise I was not the only crazy ultrarunner- one guy had completed 20 100-milers, and another woman was an Ironman and seemingly competitive ultrarunner.

We received a thick binder of course materials (primarily the powerpoint slides we’d be looking at for two days) as well as a copy of the latest edition of Daniels’ Running Formula (which I already own, doh!). The focus throughout the weekend was really on the development of training plans for adult runners with varying levels of experience in distances from 5K to the marathon. We also covered topics such as nutrition, injuries, psychology and the business of coaching.

Day one was largely lectures, with a lot of time spent on the concept of periodization in training plans, while day two was more, um, interactive, as we split up into small groups to develop a training plan for a hypothetical client. This was tough, as there can really only be one coach in charge and here we were, five or six of us trying to coach poor “Robin” to a BQ by consensus, with our very different backgrounds and assumptions of what makes an ideal plan.

The knowledge. Our instructor was an MD

The knowledge. Our instructor was an MD

Overall, it was very different from the USATF coaching certification course I attend in NYC in December 2014. The USATF course is fairly easy to get into, as it was held in the auditorium and cafeteria of a large public school. The students were generally younger, and the curriculum covered all track and field events, so I learned more than I will ever need to know about the physics of the javelin and hammer throw. We spent no time on training plans, and the implied target of our studies appeared to be the high school or college athlete that competes in short-distance running and all those field events. It’s all relative though: USATF defines “middle distance” as 800 meters to a mile, I hear “middle distance” and think marathon to 50K.

I’m glad to have completed both courses for a fuller view of what is involved in coaching, however I don’t plan to hang a shingle as a professional running coach anytime soon. I’m still way too early in my competitive running career and still gaining experience with various kinds of training.

Week in Review: 1/19

Monday: 4-mile tempo

Tuesday: 8 miles long intervals and strength workout

Wednesday: 3 miles easy and 45-minute pool running class

Thursday: 8 miles mixed intervals and strength workout

Friday: 8.5 miles easy to moderate

Saturday: Rest with 3-mile walk

Sunday: Rest with around 30 minutes body-weight strength trainin

How Soon Is Now? Timing for a Breakthrough

Hot damn! I am bouncing off the walls, that is how good I feel. Is it the enthusiasm for hard training, the dietary changes, or some combination of the two? I’m not used to having so much energy without caffeine and sugar in the tank. I don’t want to jinx myself or speak too soon but if feels like a breakthrough moment.

Highlights of the week:

  • Was officially selected for the 2015 USA 24-Hour National Running Team that will compete at the World 24-Hour Championships in Italy in April
  • Started a new training cycle under my coach Michele Yates
  • Wrapped up the 10-day low carb experiment
  • Took  my first running “test”
  • Started looking ahead to the fall

Team USA

I woke up Monday morning to messages from Maggie about Facebook updates from USATF on the US 24-hour team selections- it was still unofficial at that point but a great way to start the day! On Wednesday I received an email from USATF informing me of my selection, and by Thursday the official roster was posted. Though I’d been thinking of this moment for the past two months, I only knew for sure that it would come for me after the final qualifying races took place earlier this month, and it’s still a different feeling once the announcement goes out there and becomes official. It’s real. I made it! I don’t usually brag too much but this is one time where I’m just jumping for joy.

Photo: Linsday Bruinsma

Photo: Linsday Bruinsma

Training

Since I’d been trying a short-term carb reduction for the past week, with mostly easy running as my body adapted to the fueling changes, I was nervous about going into my new training plan and doing speed work without carb-y dinners and breakfasts leading up to the workouts. The worry was unnecessary, my initial workouts felt amazing, with no bonking, no weakness and plenty left in the tank. I feel like the nerdy kid who wakes up raring to go to school every morning. Which brings me to the diet.

Couldnt refuse beers with the beard. Photo:

Couldn’t refuse beers with the beard. Photo: Veronica Mikhaylove

 The Low-Carb Experiment, part 2 (aka the lifestyle)

After 10 days of this, I felt so good that I had little desire to go back to eating a lot of carbohydrates, though I did go have some ramen for dinner on Wednesday to carb-load for my “running test” the next morning. The noodles didn’t agree with me very much, which is too bad because who doesn’t love ramen? I gave up on my caffeine fast Thursday morning as I was heading to do running performance tests on an empty stomach, but I did go back to eating lower carb diet most of the rest of the day. It’s really difficult to completely restrict carbs when there is ramen in the world, beer on tap with Rob Krar, and famous Staten Island pizza after a freezing wet trail run, but it’s not every meal any more.

Ready for takeoff. Photo: Polly DeMille

Ready for takeoff. Photo: Polly DeMille

 The Running Test

You can’t fail this one but the numbers won’t lie. I’ve long been curious about finding out what my real max heart rate is but it wasn’t until recently that I’ve considered the value of getting all the data: VO2 max, lactate threshold, and metabolic efficiency (ratios of fat and carb burning at various intensities). I’ll detail more about my experience in a separate post, but the short version is that it was worth it to me. Some of my hunches were confirmed: I burn fat well (actually much better than I imagined possible), my max heart rate of 190 is close to the maximum number that I see on my watch during the fast sprinting end of a race, my lactate threshold pace does correspond to my 15K/half-marathon PR pace, and the VO2 calculators at Jack Daniels are pretty close but not entirely accurate.

 Looking Ahead

Summer and beyond still are a big empty space on my race calendar, but not for long. I’m leaning towards committing to Spartathlon and the NYC Marathon, with the possibility of no other serious racing in the fall. Even the late winter-early Spring is up in the air. I think I’d like to race something at some point but I don’t feel very motivated to focus on anything but Italy right now.

Week in Review: January 12

Monday: 4-mile treadmill tempo

Tuesday : 7-mile treadmill intervals

Wednesday: 3.5-miles easy

Thursday: AM: Treadmill test: ~6 miles in a14 minute warmup and 36 minutes of progressively harder running, strength training. PM: 6.5 mile moderately easy hilly trail run

Friday: AM: 45-minute MELT class. PM: 45-minute pool running class

Saturday: 8 miles of longer intervals on the treadmill

Sunday: 11 mile trail run

The New Year’s Low Carb Experiment

I love sugar. I wish I didn’t, but the only time I lose my taste for sweets is when I eat way too much of them and am forced to cut back, or after a gel-and-sports drink fueled race, when sugar is the last thing I need for a few days. But normally, I could eat chocolate for breakfast, followed by a post-run energy bar, a muffin and croissant for lunch, and cereal for dinner, with basic snacks of froyo and macarons in between. I must be genetically adapted to sugar, because I’ve never had a cavity.

However, I also have a sensitive gut. Or sensitive everything. Too many carbs make me sleepy right after eating, constipated the next day, and hangry in between. I often get the shakes from hunger, and low blood sugar gives me a depressed feeling that can be cured quickly with a prescription of a snack, preferably of the sugary variety. I’ve also had GI issues during many races, and something went very very wrong during Bryan Court and after the BUS Trail Mix-Up last month. I needed a reset, a cleanse, a fresh start, and maybe an opportunity to figure out how to improve my fat metabolism for running so that I can consume less during races and suffer less GI troubles. Running slowly is one part of the equation, weaning myself off of heavy carbohydrate consumption could be another.

A friend of mine had a good experience last year with this fairly simple 10-day plan that involved cutting all sugar, grains and starchy vegetables. While I have previously tried diets free of refined carbohydrates, I had never entirely cut out the fruit, grains and potatoes. This seemed impossibly hard to do until early January—after the holiday indulgence period has passed and before I start the next training cycle. While I’m at it, why not take a break from the coffee and diet sodas too? It’s only ten days, after all.

Seven days in, I can say that apart from feeling shitty in the first couple of days it’s been very good for me. I practice caffeine withdrawal a week before major goal races, and it sucks every time. Couple that with sugar withdrawal and I just felt very weird for a couple of days. But other than that, my energy levels have stabilized and I’ve noticed a huge difference in my response to hunger. No shakes, no low blood sugar induced depression, no hangriness. I could run hungry and it didn’t feel like the end of the world. A few almonds or a spoonful of almond butter work magic.

This is what passes for an exciting recipe that I can make at home.

This is what passes for an exciting recipe that I can make at home.

The big drawback is that the diet can become really boring and tedious. I’m only managing it for a short while because I spoil myself with fancy fish from the appetizing counter at Zabar’s, aged balsamic vinegar, halibut, olives and raw organic nuts and produce. I ate a lot of eggs, avocadoes, tofu, and Simply Bars (recommended by Michele Yates). I bought expensive crackers made entirely from flax seeds. I wouldn’t have madei it without decaf coffee and green tea .

Today was a fairly typical day and this is what I ate:

Breakfast:

Decaf with a little whole milk

2/3 of a Simply Bar

A teaspoon of almond butter

Then I went out to run and exercise for a couple of hours

Lunch (at Peacefood Café):

Half a bowl of lima bean and spinach soup

Half a piece of raw lasagna and some vegan Caesar salad (minus the croutons)

Steamed or roasted zucchini and eggplant

Ginger soymilk decaf latte

Afternoon snacks:

Homemade chia almond milk pudding with a tiny bit of coconut sugar

Some almonds, walnuts and sunflower seeds

Lentil poppadum crackers

Green tea

Dinner:

Miso soup

Smoked sable

Flackers and baby carrots with hummus

Some almonds and almond butter

Most of a bag of Trader Joe’s crispy crunchy broccoli florets (the best thing I had all day!)

Digestive tea (mint, chamomile and anise)

Supplements:

Ester-C, turmeric, and liquid iron  for a diagnosed  iron deficiency

I am so looking forward to eating a banana and some oatmeal.

Ultimately, I’m going to eat carbs, especially right after big runs. I have zero desire to consume a truly high fat diet with over 90% of calories coming from fat (especially since the performance benefits are questionable) and diet of more than 50% fat diet seems like a stretch, even with the potential benefits for ultrarunning. I may try to adopt Pam Smith’s “carb back-loading” approach, eating more carbs when they count the most to get a bigger bang for the buck. (She’s a doctor and a champion so she should know!) I’ll do my best to stay away from sugar, other refined carbs, junk food and even beer (gasp!) over the next few months until I can sense whether it has any impact on my performance and recovery. I am usually a big proponent of enjoying life all the time and eating whatever’s appealing at the moment, but now I have something that I’m willing to make sacrifices for to see how good I can get.

Week in Review 1/5

Monday: 5 miles easy

Tuesday: 6 miles easy to moderate on the treadmill with some hills

Wednesday: 3-mile easy walk

Thursday: 3-mile easy treadmill run, 1 hour MELT class

Friday: AM: 45-minute MELT class. PM: 3 miles easy getting to and from 45-minute pool running class

Saturday: 9 miles moderate-easy

Sunday: 9 miles easy, 1-hour Ironstrength class, 3 miles easy

That’s it for the easy weeks of low miles. The new training plan begins tomorrow!

2014 in Review

This is a review of my year in running only. I didn’t start the year with too many concrete goals, so it’s interesting to see how things developed.

Towards the end of 2013 I put some broad ego-boosting goals in the “someday” file that include winning a race overall (it would have to be a very small one), running a sub-3-hour or seeing how close I can get, being the women’s winner at a marathon (again think small), and winning some prize money (think really small– even $25 or $50 would count!). I didn’t meet any of those this year but that’s fine because I can’t say I tried for any of them either. The closest I came was with the prize money. I won some expensive gear in the Hong Kong mountain races I ran, I helped my road running team win $400 as the second place women’s team at the NYRR Dash to the Finish Line 5K, and I got my entry fee for NJ One Day refunded for hitting the 120-mile USA team qualifying standard, plus 75% off my next NJ trail series race for coming in second– but still, no “prize check” in my name!

Winter training in the Palisades. Photo: Tommy Pyon

Winter training was a frigid blur. Photo: Tommy Pyon

Coming into 2014, I only had a few races on the calendar (or should I say, that I’d already paid for): Boston, Berlin and NYC marathons, the Rock n Roll New Orleans, NYC and Lehigh halfs, Caumsett 50K and the North Face San Francisco 50-miler, plus I had committed to pacing 4:00 at the New Jersey marathon (Okay, maybe more than a few but still very little compared to the 34 races I ended up with!) Come January I started adding some big races that filled up quickly (TGNY 100, Vermont 100K) as well as last-minute sign-ups to run some low-key shorter races like the Boston Buildup races (a terrific series, btw). I started the year with some hip pain that still hasn’t totally gone away and spent a bit on chiro with Wayne Winnick and other treatment to keep me going at least to Boston. My original plan was to train well for my first Boston, run some half-marathon PRs along the way, and race the Caumsett 50K for a sub-4 hour time.

Cold-weather pacing at the Fred Lebow Manhattan Half. Photo: Atsede Aemro- Selassie

Dressed for cold-weather success pacing the Fred Lebow Manhattan Half. Photo: Atsede Aemro- Selassie

My real focus for the first several months was the Boston training. After a rough PR day at the New Orleans Half in early February, I dove in to week 9 of the Hanson’s Marathon Method and stuck to it pretty consistently for the rest of the cycle, with the addition of a few longer runs (20-22 miles) instead of the prescribed 16-mile maximum. This was my first winter of running and it was a baptism by fire. I got colds and the flu fairly regularly, especially after fast races, and my hip was a concern, so I scrapped the Caumsett 50K and ran the 25K instead. I did most of my speedwork on the treadmill, and even some of my easy runs when there was too much snow on the roads. Thanks to the New York Sports Club’s $30 for 30 days trial (which can be re-tried annually), I was able to use a treadmill two blocks from my apartment during the rough month from late January through most of February.

Framingham, Boston Marathon 10K mark. Photo: Joan Kim

Framingham, Boston Marathon 10K mark. First warm day of the year and I got a fantastic race outfit sunburn on the right side. Photo: Joan Kim

The training worked and I PR’d at the NYC Half and then ran an emotional 3:14:15 PR at my first Boston. It had taken me so long to get to there (8 years!), and after all that the city and running community had been through, I broke down in the Wellesley scream tunnel. Even now, the memory of their haunting cries brings tears to my eyes. The infamous hills did do me in but that will give me additional motivation for next time.

Four hours or bust! Photo: Otto Lam

Leading the charge to 4 hours at New Jersey. Photo: Otto Lam

Pacing the New Jersey Marathon six days after Boston was really tough in the state my quads were in, but Otto Lam did such a superb job of organizing the pace teams for the full and half that I really wanted to be a part of it, and we had a great time in the marathon party house that Kino arranged. I took it pretty easy for most of May, racing my first ever 5K (which I won, haha!) and starting a new training plan under my new coach Michele Yates. I told her my near-term goals were to get a sub-4:30 trail 50K, a win and under 20 hours at TGNY, and under 14 hours and podium at the Vermont 100K.

5K bling is much bigger than ultra bling. Photo: Tommy Pyon

Buckles shmuckles– 5K’s where all the bling is at. Photo: Tommy Pyon

My first ultra of the year was the PinelandsTrail Festival 50-Miler over Memorial Day weekend. I was signed up for the 50K and really wanted to run 4:30 or under to qualify for the elite corral at The North Face San Francisco 50-Miler. However, I wasn’t sure if I could run that time on trails and I didn’t know the Pinelands course at all, so I thought it might actually be “easier” to run the 50-mile race in under 8:30, the TNF elite qualifying time for that distance. I slept on it, woke up feeling pretty good, and changed my registration just minutes before the start. I started out a little too aggressively and had to slow in the last part of the race, but finished my first 50-miler with what felt like my best trail result to date, 8:11:30 and 2nd female! Oh, and I didn’t trip and fall!

This must be, oh, about 10 hours into the 12-hour. Photo: Larry Sillen

This must be, oh, about 10 hours into the 12-hour. Photo: Larry Sillen

After 50 miles, it was time to gear up my training for the TGNY 100 4 weeks later. I made a very late decision to run my first 12-Hour race at the BUS Joe Kleinerman run in early June, and won with just over 75 miles. The .97-mile loop was the shortest I’d ever run, it was hot that day and the course had a pretty significant hill, but I had a pretty good experience, while swearing to myself that this was enough and that I was NOT going to run a 24-hour race later this year.

Photo: Atsede Aemro-Selassie

Times Squaaaaaare here I come. Photo: Atsede Aemro-Selassie

TGNY was my first big goal race of the summer- the one that I really wanted to win and improve on my time from last year, which was a little under 23 hours. It was my first 100 miler last year and would now be my second. I didn’t spend as much time training on the course this year since I remembered most of it, just one group preview run organized by the RD Phil and another review of a tricky stretch in the Bronx. The 12-hour race was my real heavy training run and I felt good going in to TGNY. I only hit a few low points late in the run, and had great support from my pacers Emi, Simon and Francesca, as well as all the volunteers on the course. My goal was sub-20 and I ran 19:06. I also learned a few things about what I’ll have to do to run an even better race in 2015, which is what I plan to do.

In Vermont. Photo: Lucimar

A month later in Vermont. Yeah so I basically wear the same three things for all my races, especially when it’s warm. Photo: Lucimar Araujo

In July I ran the Vermont 100K. The big 100-mile race is very popular with NYC ultrarunners, but despite all their assurances that the trail was “easy,” I needed to see for myself before I’d commit to 100 miles on a course that might chew me up through the night and spit me out the next morning. Of course they were right, it was easy (defined as: I never fell down, and if I don’t fall on a trail it must be easy). I ran with the ladies’ winner from the previous year for the first part, until we ran off course and added three miles, and then she got in a hurry to make up her position, so I spent the rest of the day solo relaxing on the peaceful country roads and trails, power-hiking the hills and running the rest. I beat my 14-hour goal by a lot, finishing in 11:54 for 2nd.

Mountain time

Mountain time on the infamous Incline.

August was a very difficult month for me for non-running reasons, and you could say I made it more difficult by challenging myself on the unfamiliar terrain of big mountains. I had won the UTMB lottery in my second year of trying, but was very indecisive about whether or not to go for what felt like a long time. A great group of runners I know were going and had booked a house in Chamonix for a week before the race, so that was a huge plus, and I couldn’t shake the dream of running through the Alps in 3 countries in one go. However, I couldn’t realistically run this race and go back to Europe for the Berlin marathon a month later. Reasoning that I might not have such a cool opportunity to do UTMB again in the near future (since you need both qualifying races and lottery luck to get in) I chose UTMB.

Two weeks out I ran the Pikes Peak marathon to prepare for UTMB, since the uphill portion of Pikes Peak would be much bigger than the biggest hills at UTMB, and the altitude greater. I absolutely fell in love with Colorado and got in some amazing mountain training on the days before the marathon. After all, I was training for UTMB, so no taper needed for Pikes Peak. I really enjoyed the Pikes Peak challenge but took a bad fall and banged my right knee on some rocks about a mile and a half before the finish.

Taking a break in the Swiss Alps. Photo: Harald Zundel

Taking a break in the Swiss Alps. Photo: Harald Zundel

It was really too bad as the sore knee followed me to Europe, where I did some easy hiking in the Swiss and French Alps during the ten days leading up UTMB. As much as I tried to avoid downhills that would aggravate my knee it simply wasn’t possible. And again, there was not much time for proper training or tapering, but I’ll take what I can get, especially when it involves unbelievable terrain.

Such a relief. Photo: Aleks Zuber

That’s 45 hours worth of relief on my face. Photo: Aleks Zuber

UTMB was an epically long race with some struggle. I had a great start despite the rain the first night and felt strong until around halfway, when my knee became an issue and I had to make the call on whether to quit or keep going with an occasionally hobbling pace on the downhills. Around 90K I was about ready to call it a day when I met an American guy named Nick who said, “oh please don’t quit” and reminded me that we had plenty of time to finish the race within the 46 hour cutoff. Thanks to him, who I occasionally met up with on some of the remaining parts of the course, I determined to stick it out.  Anyways, I always want to see the rest of the course and have a knack for persuading myself that, no matter how gnarly or soul-destroying the previous section was, the next one won’t be so bad (of course it can be worse!). I got my money’s worth at the aid stations, ate lots of cheese and salami and noodle soup and crackers, took a few catnaps, got massaged, sometimes hallucinated (but knew I was hallucinating), got sleepy and bored during the second night, sometimes lonely (no pacers allowed) and only cried in despair once at a never ending downhill and what felt like a long- delayed second surnrise. At the last major aid station, 20km from the finish, I got pale and dizzy, vomited, and made a big poop, and was held at the medical tent for an hour and half while my vitals were monitored. Once I was given the all-clear, I continued through one final brutal mountain, back to the village where I had started nearly 45 hours earlier, with my housemates there to run me in and cheer me to the finish. That made me feel like I can do anything.

To the finish of the Tahoe 200. Photo: Rebecca Lippman

To the finish of the Tahoe 200. Photo: Rebecca Lippman

2014 was also the year that I learned how to be an ultra pacer and crew person. I crewed and paced Teaspoon for 30-ish miles at Umstead in April, and within days of finishing UTMB I was on a plane to Reno to help Mama Michelle at the Tahoe 200, a 200+ MILE race around Lake Tahoe. I was so glad to be able to crew and pace Michelle since she was one of my pacers the first time I ran TGNY. 200+ miles has to be one of the hardest things I have ever seen anyone do- not just Michelle but for everyone out there. I was really glad that she persevered and despite all the struggle and pain she finished strong, running all the way down the last mountain. Remember, if she can run at the end of 200+  mountain miles and four and half days of sleep deprivation, you can always keep running too!

Hong Kongs Victoria to Peak Challenge. Photo: Club Balance

And chicking my way to the top of Hong Kong island. Photo: Club Balance

From Tahoe I traveled to Hong Kong for personal business, and made the best of the heat and humidity. I ran a couple of short steep uphill races and greatly enjoyed them, plus I won some fancy prizes like Salomon shoes and wireless headphones. It suits my lazy nature to walk hard up a lot of the big hills, plus pushing up a mountain in a race is something that makes me feel very alive.

Photo: Donna Sajulga-Tabios

Bloody but unbowed. Photo: Donna Sajulga-Tabios

Returning to New York in early October, I was in no way ready to race for good marathon times, but I still ran the Steamtown marathon the day before my birthday and decided to pace NYC instead of racing.  By this point I was pretty sure that if I wasn’t going to run good fall marathons (meaning PRs), I would go for my first 24-hour race at New Jersey One Day. I was familiar with the race venue and it wouldn’t require much travel or stress, and if the weather was bad I would stay home. I ran a 6-hour race two weeks out as my long run (got the win and a course record as a bonus), paced 3:45 at NYC on November 2nd, and toed the line at One Day the following week, running my marathon split in exactly 3:45 again. The 24-hour experience was a real handful and I’m still recovering. I was very happy with my 136 miles on my first crack at the 24-hour puzzle.

Two thumbs up for 24 hours. Photo: Otto Lam

Two thumbs up for 24 hours. Photo: Otto Lam

After a couple of weeks of recovery, I headed to California for my two final big races of the year, the Quad Dipsea and The North Face San Francisco 50 Mile. Very tired by this point, I still couldn’t pass up the chance to finally run in one of my favorite places in the world. Then I went and did a few more social races before I was really really really done for the year. Five days off and then back to some easy running, trying to stay around 30-60 relaxing minutes each day before the next training cycle begins in January.

Fun to the end of the year. Photo: Donna Sajulga-Tabios

Fun to the end of the year. Photo: Donna Sajulga-Tabios

A few other highlights from 2014 on the non-racing front:

Taking a quick break from pacing to give Mama a big hug. Photo: Young Cho

Gotta give our Mama a big hug during the marathon. Photo: Young Cho

After putting together a pace team for the 2013 NYC Marathon, New York Road Runners decided to start a pace team for its half marathons as well. I made the team and paced most of the NYRR halfs this year, as well at the marathon again. I love wearing the pacer singlet, carrying the sign (it’s not at all heavy!), and helping others achieve their goals with a steady pace.

I found a coach who’s my kind of crazy and a community of like-minded, hardworking runners at Rugged Running. Michele Yates is an incredible athlete and so inspiring, she really makes me want to train harder and smarter. As a bonus her services are pretty affordable and it feels like she is always there for us, even with a newborn baby and her own ambitious goals!

Whats inside is top-secret :-)

Whats inside is top-secret :-)

Purely through the luck of wearing a sample shoe size, I became a wear tester for Hoka One One and have logged a lot of miles and provided feedback on some of their shoes that will hit the market next year or later. This was really a dream come true!

Chilling at the TCS NYC Marathon Opening Ceremony and Parade of Nations

With my pro hospitality teammates at the TCS NYC Marathon Opening Ceremony and Parade of Nations

Through a chance volunteer assignment at the Milrose Games in February, I met the team that handles professional athlete hospitality for the big events with New York Road Runners and I had the opportunity to work with them on the preparations for the NYC Half, Mini 10K and the really big one, the TCS NYC Marathon. It’s a cliche but true that the world’s best runners are the nicest people too.

IMG_3920

I won some accolades too: My team gave me the Ultrarunner of the Year award for the second year in a row, I was awarded the New York Ultrarunning Grand Prix Championship title in March for racking up the most points in their races last year, and New York Road Runners recognized me as (ultra)runner-up for Ultrarunner of the Year. I can’t say I run for any of this kind of recognition but it is sweet and I am grateful for it.

And finally– 2014 in statistics!

Races run: 34

Marathons: 5

Ultras: 9

Race miles: 1013

Road race miles: 643

Trail race miles: 370

Total mileage: 2706

It sounds hokey but I’m very grateful that I was able to run this much, in so many beautiful places and surrounded by wonderful people all along the way. I get a little emotional when I think about it, how far I’ve come and how long the road ahead still is. Happy new year!

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