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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?


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Last Thoughts B4 Philly

Monday: 6.1m easy 8:40/pace

Tuesday: Crossfit, 5.7m 8:47/pace

Oh man. It’s here and i’m getting nervous. I’m ready to run, i’m ready to fly, but I accidentally looked ahead at the weather and…

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The weather has been nuts here anyway, it’s been warm and makes it hard for me to try out “race day outfits.” I haven’t been able to practice in much, so i’ll just cross my fingers and Body Glide my entire body and pray i don’t chafe.

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running in tank tops last week

I’m trying not to worry too much about the weather. I’ve raced in nothing but terrible wind this year and i’m not backing down from my goals. I’m just going to study the course, understand and accept where the wind might be bad and where I can breathe. And hey, i still have hope the forecast will change a bit, it’s early.

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sweaty selfie- cause yes up until a week ago, i was still running in sports bras.

Everything else I can control I feel great about. Mentally i’m ready to take this on. Physically i’ve never felt better. I’ve PR’d the 10k, my outdoor mile time, completed a 50K, a Beer Mile, bested my weekly and monthly mileage and PR’d my deadlift. The key factor here is i’ve been consistent. No setbacks, no sickness, no excuses. I did every workout, hit almost every workout pace and actually enjoyed it. (that helps!)

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175lbs 3 x 5

I listened to a Brute Strength podcast about mental training and the guest said “train today like tomorrow you’re going to have an injury that takes your sport away.” This does not mean kill yourself in your workout exactly — or work until you are injuring yourself or ignoring signs of injury/overtraining. He went on to explain in means living in the moment of your workout, giving everything you can, but making sure to enjoy it. Enjoy the work, because if it was gone tomorrow you’d miss it. Just another element of being present and living with gratitude. Running with that mindset has changed everything.

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I had one of those running a-ha moments, the run where training catches up with you and your emotions catch you off guard. I broke down in the middle of a trail, bawling my eyes out. Thank god no one was around, cause it wasn’t pretty. Crocodile tears and hyperventilating type crying was happening. I had only a few thoughts in my head at the moment, none i will share today, but if you run for long enough (i’m at my 10 year anniversary) you will no doubt, have moments like this. I took off my new shirt, for some reason that layer felt suffocating, and on the inside of the shirt was this…

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It was perfect. I needed it. And i repeated that phrase the rest of the way home. There is nothing more I can do with my training, mental or physical. I’m as ready as i’ll ever be. Wind or no wind I will take on whatever challenge comes at me Sunday and every day after.

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just another windy warm day in MD

If you’ve been reading along, or encouraging me in the gym, social media or texts, THANK YOU. Sincerely and from the bottom of my heart, it is awesome to have a community of people that support my crazy running hobby. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Last Week

Monday: 8m easy 8:49/pace

Tuesday: Crossfit, 10.4m interval (6 x 1m repeats)

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: 12.7m tempo (10 @ 7:35/pace)

Friday: 7m easy 8:45/pace

Saturday: 8m easy 9:20/pace, Crossfit

Sunday: 8m easy 8:55/pace

Total Miles: 53.7

How’s the weather near you?

Any last words of advice for the marathon?

 


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Marathon Things – Part 2

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The first time I wrote about marathon training was during week 7, then again at a difficult week 11. Now i’m writing about Week 13. A breakthrough week. The week where confidence begin building and I’ve started to believe I can run a marathon at a speed that scares me.

First, I have to say congrats to all those who ran a marathon over the past 2 weekends. My Instagram feed was full of people who qualified for Boston or ran a SOLID race. This was exciting and got me pumped for my shot at the marathon next month.

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Lauren KILLED her race @breathedeeplyandsmile Congrats again girl!

Pretty sure all the positivity on social media had given me a boost, either way this week was full of so many goodies I can hardly contain myself! Starting with some non-running related things: I won Mario Party! I haven’t won in a while and was super proud. #N64

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If you hadn’t noticed I got my hair fixed and I’m blond again and I love it. My stylist fixed it at no cost and was super cool about the whole situation.

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Now to the running stuff! I finished out the week with a mileage PR of 60.9 miles and raced a 10K earning a new PR of 43:40 (recap coming later this week). The weather finally cooled down a bit, which meant LE got her long walks and I’ve been running much happier without all the humidity.

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Tuesday started with Crossfit at 6:00am and then a 3 x 2 mile workout in the afternoon. I felt strong and the paces felt good. The first speed work session of the week is always mentally tough, but once it’s completed I feel like I can take on the rest of the week with no problem.

But this week was different, the workout I was most concerned with was Thursday’s 9 mile tempo at marathon pace. Most of these workouts have been done on a treadmill because Philadelphia is flat and I live in hills. It’s important I get time on my feet where there isn’t much of a grade change and can get my quads used to the repetitive, flat running. Now, I don’t want to do all tempos on a treadmill because it is different running on a treadmill and having a little help with leg turnover and being able to set a pace and stick to it. Thursday I wanted to take the tempo outside.

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Thursday was a big test. Try to maintain a 7:55/pace on hilly terrain (again after morning Crossfit). Good news – I did it. 2 mile warm up + 9m tempo @ 7:30/pace. Bad news is that 7:30 is too fast. Slowing down on these workouts will be key to pacing myself early in the marathon to avoid the dreaded wall. But tempo’ing on hills is all about effort so i might be ok? It’s hard to tell. Now i’m rambling since I’m questioning the workout! haha.

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hilly tempo splits

Friday and Saturday were both easy, long runs. Friday I logged 10 miles at a 9:05/pace and Saturday was 16 at an 8:52/pace.

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Saturday I had a small hiccup and almost quit 6 miles in because my knee felt a little off. I ran back home for a 5 minutes break, used the foam roller on my quad and did a quick stretch. Pain was gone immediately and I left feeling good about the knee being a freak thing (although I will keep an eye on it). Also noted: the Brooks Launch 3’s feel great and will possibly be the race day shoe.

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water fountains still on: another good thing! (Launch 3s on!)

I got a few fun running photos up on Instagram. I get asked often how I take them – usually i just put a self-timer on and run in front of the camera a few times. That’s it. Not much to it, I don’t drag Cameron along or have any special photographer with me, although one day I should get some professional pictures done!

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The most notable difference this week is finally believing in myself. Mentally i’m tough, but getting work done and believing you can do something are different. I can hit workouts yet still disbelieve I can do a marathon at goal pace. I can mind-karate my way through the toughest Crossfit workout or tempo workout, but somehow at the end of the day still think i’m not a good enough runner and that horrible marathon will get the best of me. This week was different because I’m starting to believe that not only can I run a solid marathon, but I have so much more in me that I might surprise myself on race day and in the future.

The 10k from Sunday was a prime example. I set out at a pace that seemed so far out of reach, yet by the 2nd mile I believed I could keep that pace and told myself to go for it and it worked out.

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Heading into these last few weeks of marathon training i’m sure will bring up many more thoughts. Hang in here with me, we’re almost toeing the start line.

Last Week

Monday: 5.3m easy 10:00/pace

Tuesday: Crossfit, 10m interval ( 3 x 2m @ 7:30/pace)

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: Crossfit, 11.7m tempo ( 2m warm up, 9m @7:30/pace)

Friday: 10.2m easy 9:05/pace

Saturday: 16.1m easy 8:52/pace

Sunday: 10K race (1.2m warm up, 6.4m race)

Total Miles: 60.9

Random thoughts you get during training?

Do you run outside, treadmill or mix it up?