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Philadelphia, You Sexy Beast.

Sorry about the delay, I finally sat down to write the recap!  I usually have tons of immediate thoughts about what went right, what went wrong, what i could have done different. But it happened, I had the perfect race. I guess I can Tarantino this race recap since most of you already know the result. 3:20:59. I’m a 3:20 marathoner and qualified for Boston!

This smile sums it up: i’ve been extremely content and overwhelmingly happy with the outcome.

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First beer post race

The week of the race was littered with ups and downs. The weather wasn’t looking favorable and Cameron got sick, so i was afraid I was catching his cold. My diet the week of the race consisted of carbs, water, nuun, zicam, vitamin c, and a few nights of 9+ hrs of sleep.

I had a few pep talks from clients and friends when the forecasted wind started stressing me out. Basically, I was ready to trash my goals for a sub 3:30 marathon because of the wind, but was quickly reminded that I trained super hard for this race, i’ve ran in crappy conditions all year and I could do this if I raced smart. Saturday came and I was feeling confident and ready to run.

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My bib number was perfect: 2600. I know it’s a little superstitious, but the bib from the Parks Half Marathon I did in September was 2612 and i’ve had good vibes about 26 this entire training cycle. This was the first time running a marathon that the miles didn’t scare me. I was prepped and ready to run 26.2 miles, I was only nervous about the weather.

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relaxing in the Sonesta hotel

We went out for pasta and the rest of the night was spent finalizing my playlist, hydrating & eating, charging electronics, choosing what to wear for the windy morning, and coming up with a game plan for the windy race.

The plan was to go out slower than goal pace for the first 10 miles in order to conserve energy that might be wasted against headwind. I kept telling myself that the Hansons Brooks Method I used, trained me for the back half of the race, not the beginning. The book said the first 10-16 miles should feel good. And that was my plan. Make sure the first 16 feel good and comfortable while staying close to goal pace. Then i could reassess and start speeding up. According to the weather and the course map, the wind was blowing from the west, and the last 6 miles were heading back to Philly, eastward. At mile 20, cross your fingers, pray for a tailwind and if worse comes to worse, you made it to 20 miles you push as hard as you can and don’t stop.

Game plan in place.

The next morning came quickly, but i felt good. I was prepared to do my best, I trusted the training and my race plan. Our hotel (the Sonesta) had shuttle service to the start, which was pleasant. It was cold out, but not awful. I used the bathroom, got right back in line and used it again 20 minutes later–best advice for a marathon, don’t wait until you have to go to the bathroom, just get in line cause you will.

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I headed to the start corrals, focused on positive thoughts, my breathing, making sure shoelaces were double knotted and comfortable, Garmin was on, and the sunrise… it was pink and orange and beautiful.

Then we started. My playlist began and I settled easily into an 8:00ish/pace. As usual during a big race there was crowding in the early miles and i wasn’t about to fight it and waste energy. I settled right behind the 3:35 pace group and stayed there for 4 miles.

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I get asked often what I listen to while running, so here’s the start of playlist “26.2”

My ipod was playing super relaxing music, just what i wanted to keep my breathing normal and pace slow. This was probably the first time during a goal race I wasn’t feeling any pressure or anxiety while running. My inner dialogue was a lot of: “this feels too easy. Good, it’s supposed to feel easy, it’s only mile 5.” I kept holding myself back doing anything stupid so early on.

 

For the most part, I didn’t notice the wind, but was happy i was wearing gloves, a headband and sunglasses! We had one major gust here and there, but not enough to where I felt like it was affecting me. At one point there was a gust for a few seconds that caused me a guy running beside me to look away, shield our faces and cringe a little. When it stopped we both looked at each other and laughed. I feel like that dude was having a good day too.

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Laughing into the wind, I started thinking about when to run faster. I was approaching mile 10 and finally had some elbow room as the crowds thinned out. I could see my paces getting slightly faster and I was feeling better with each mile, stronger with each step. I bartered with myself a bit. Make it to the halfway mark, see how you feel and we can start slowly getting into a faster pace.

Mile 13 came quickly, I felt better than alright, it was the easiest 13 miles i’ve ever run in my life. Alright halfway time to work a little and see where we’re at come mile 16. I have the legs under me and the workouts behind that supports a hard 10 mile effort. Come on 16…

“I wonder if I can go to Crossfit on Tuesday…” <—Literally what was on my mind right before mile 16 beeped at me. “Okay, now this is too easy. I have a BQ as long as I don’t do anything stupid. I have 4 miles until the turn around point where the wind should be at my back. Four miles to speed up and deal with wind and hills and then I get pushed home. I’ll let my legs fly at 20. Just get there first.”

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Mile 20? 7:30? Alright it’s time for the legs to show off. And like that. I switched gears and started hauling forward. I was hyper alert and aware of my body and knew I had a 4th and 5th and 6th gear to shift into.  When 20 came I was actually excited to see how fast I could run after holding back, saving energy and being smart. I wasn’t going to hit a wall. I wasn’t going to be disappointed. Even knowing I had a Boston Qualifying time, my mentality shifted to, “let’s see how much time I can go under.”

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I flew. I did not have one person pass me the last 10k. I had a smile on here and there and was constantly reminding myself to be grateful of this body. I realized that all the hard workouts…all the tempos in humidity, the mile repeats on hills, all the Crossfit Wods where I thought my heart would surely explode, were exactly why I had the power and mental stamina to not just muddle my way through 26.2 miles, but to own them. This was my workout of the day and I killed it.

I was powering through the last mile and started getting a cramp in my left foot. At this point I was ready to be finished, but I didn’t see signs of how far left I had. I knew I was close and this is where the tunnel vision set in. One foot in front of the other, throw your arms forward and get across the line. In my left ear I heard Cameron shout my name, in my right ear I heard the loud speaker say “Cori Maley, Silver Spring” and I didn’t realize where I was. In an instant I saw a time clock, a banner and my foot go over the first timing mat.

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I took a huge breath in, and let it out in a cry. A tidal wave of relief, happiness and pride overcame me. I was proud of myself. Proud.

I found Cameron, hugged him over the metal barricade still sobbing. I was so happy it hurt. He told me my time of 3:20:59… 30 minutes faster than my last, and 15 minutes faster than the Boston Qualifying time I needed.

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I have a pretzel in my mouth which is why my cheeks are super big! haha

This won’t be the last I talk about Philly. I have a thousand more thoughts on this race. For now i’ve been happy and content and enjoying the moment. Hang tight, tips for running your best marathon are going to be up soon!

Last Week

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: Crossfit, 5m easy 9:15/pace

Wednesday: 6m whatever I felt like 7:38/pace

Thursday: Crossfit, 5m easy 8:10/pace

Friday: 1.5hr barbell skill work 

Saturday: 10m easy 8:35/pace, 40 minutes lower body (PR’d deadlift 2 x 1 @ 195lbs)

Sunday: 5.5m trail running 9:41/pace

Total Miles: 31.5

Anyone running a December race?

How much time do you take off after a race?


7 Comments

I’m a Crossfitter

You know how you know a person does Crossfit? Don’t worry they’ll tell you. Do you know how you know if someone’s completed a marathon? Don’t worry they’ll tell you. That joke is old and dumb. People who are passionate about their hobbies and sports will of course tell you! I love talking about my ever evolving fitness!

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My love for Crossfit started years ago when I saw the Crossfit Games on tv. It was a strange competition with people working out in the weirdest, hardest ways you could imagine, but i was sucked in. These girls and guys are the epitome of FIT. And not in the strange, posed, spray-tanned, starved for weeks to make the veins pop, body builder way. They are active, healthy and moving fast. Simply put, they are athletes.

I had a small taste of Crossfit when I used the Crossfit Endurance training plan to work toward a fast 5k. I noticed the strength portion of the book was simple, effective yet tough. It reminded me of how I train clients: varied functional movements at high intensity levels. Crossfit also introduced the rower to me, which was especially important because of a calf strain that had me away from running a couple years ago.

This past spring I finished the Spartan Beast Obstacle Course Race. It was incredible and showed me what the Reebok Crossfit community is about: having a body that can DO things and helping those around you ACCOMPLISH hard things. I finished that race feeling like I could do anything. It proved I wasn’t just a runner and my body was so much stronger than I gave it credit for.

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I’ve had great experiences leading up to actually joining a box (what they call their gyms). It just took a while for me to join because i’m a trainer at Gold’s Gym–it felt a little dirty, like i was cheating on my home gym. But I craved my own, separate place to workout. A gym that no one stops me mid-workout to ask for advice or chat about fitness. In the same way i’ve had a running coach in the past, i needed someone else to program strength workouts. I wanted to take the stress off myself and enjoy being a place where i can concentrate on working out and where I’m treated as an athlete, not a personal trainer.

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Crossfit Silver Spring

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They had me at Beer Mile PR’s

I couldn’t officially start coming to the box for a WOD (workout of the day) until I completed a mandatory Crossfit Elements course (8 classes) at the CF Silver Spring box. Elements teaches the fundamentals and movement patterns of the sport and puts a daily WOD to the test at the end of each hour lesson. I was more than impressed with the level of professionalism and safety in this box.

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So far, I’m in love it. I’m obsessed with it and I can see why people tend to think it’s cult-like. It’s electric and motivating and FUN. As a trainer, i’m learning a lot. As an athlete I’m gaining a lot.

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The biggest misconception i hear about Crossfit is that it’s dangerous. Well let’s put it this way, any sport or intense training program has risks for injury. You need good coaches or trainers (like me!) and you need to use common sense. Also let’s talk about how often I’ve been injured running vs. strength training at intense levels.

Running: shin splints, runner’s knee, piriformis and hip flexor issues, IT band syndrome, bone bruises, calf strain…and these are just the ones I’ve had.

Strength/Crossfit: skinned knee, couple of bruises, maybe i’ll pinch my finger with a weight once in a blue moon. Now you tell me what is more dangerous. I’d put my money on running any day of the week as being more dangerous.

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My coaches Marcos & Katie!

The biggest changes I’ve noticed over the last two months are increased shoulder mobility + strength, glute activation and lat activation. The coaches take a lot of time each class to lead warm ups and mobilize our bodies using foam rollers, massage tools and various dynamic exercises to prep the body for the hard work ahead.

I went into Crossfit nervous because I’ve had issues with my right shoulder since I was 13. (My chiro even told me to stop doing overhead pressing exercises.) Six weeks later I have ZERO shoulder pain and i’m lifting weight over my head. My glutes have been sore and worked every class and i’ve PR’d my deadlift by 30lbs easily. Remember runners – strong booty means a strong runner, especially on the hills. And a strong body equals a powerful runner.

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I was worried I wouldn’t be able to train for a marathon comfortably with these tough workouts, but hey, it’s not interfering, it’s helping make me a well-rounded athlete. I haven’t had any issues juggling the running and Crossfit schedule. If anything i’ve felt stronger with each run because my strength training is on point.

What it comes down to, is I found a place and people I can put real effort and energy into to see results. When I’m working out I have people supporting me, shouting, “Go CORI!” I have coaches fixing my form and giving me expert tips to make me a better athlete. It feels fantastic being surrounded by people who want you to succeed, to be stronger, faster and better than ever. I hope everyone out there has a place like this, a gym or a trainer or coaches that can help push you safely to the next level to reach your goals or get you out of your comfort zone.

Last Saturday was the first time I felt the complete and utter exhaustion that comes from giving your all in a workout. The workout that makes you lay down on the floor afterward and create a sweat angel. The elusive Crossfit sweat angel. I achieved it and I want it again and again and again. Even if it means running 10 miles before class…

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If you have any questions about Crossfit please – ask away. I’m by no means an expert, but i’m all about new experiences to make you a better runner, weightlifter or get-in-shaper. This has quickly become my home away from home, my home away from the marathon course and the home that supports and motivates me all week long.

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Last Week

Monday: 6m easy 8:20/pace

Tuesday: 10.5m intervals (4 x 1.5m @ 7:03/pace)

Wednesday: 6m easy 8:29/pace, 20min shoulders/lats

Thursday: Crossfit

Friday: 12m MGP tempo (9 @ 7:50/pace)

Saturday: 10m easy 8:50/pace, Crossfit

Sunday: 9.9m easy 9:17/pace

Total Miles: 54.4

What’s your favorite type of workout besides running?

Have you ever had a coach or personal trainer?