Marathon training for the non-marathon runner

Let’s talk about what it takes to train for a marathon, when you’re NO professional runner. Some people train like it’s their day job (for some people, it actually is their day job..), but for us “regulars” – this sh!ts tough.

Backup a few months, I was scrolling through IG, and I stumbled upon an old classmate who posted about an organization looking for charity runners to run the Boston Marathon. I jumped in and applied, because.. why not? It had always been a goal of mine, I just had never had the opportunity, and after all it was just an application. Next thing, I got a phone call thanking me for applying and they set me up with a phone interview. I had my interview where I told them I had done some fundraising in the past, have run a few half marathons, have never been injured, etc. etc. Then a few weeks later, I got the CONGRATULATIONS- you’re in! OMG. wut. how? What do I do?! I guess I should start running.

And so it began.

I started training right around Thanksgiving – which is earlier than norm for Boston. More experienced runners really don’t need to start until mid-December, but I needed all the time I had to begin building my base-mileage and strength. It started slow and fine… 4 miles here, 6 there.

Come January, things really ramped up and I felt myself more challenged than I ever had been before. As I mentioned, I had run a few half marathons in the past, so I wasn’t too intimidated with 9 miles.. 11 miles.. However, once I passed that 13 mile mark, my little world started to panic. Knowing I had a 14, then 16, then 18 mile runs coming up on weekends, had me feeling uneasy all week. And those distances were all smack in the middle of winter, so it would be 10 degrees, and I’d layer up and run 14 miles, it was just ridiculous. I would wear a scarf over my face so that my lungs wouldn’t freeze, and no matter how many layers I wore, my skin would still be discolored when I was finished. That was tough to get through. I didn’t realize then, though, that those runs were building mental toughness that I would desperately need in just a few weeks.

 

And then I got hurt. Couldn’t walk for five days kind of hurt. After 2-3 days of not being able to put any weight on my foot, I went to the doctor and learned I sprained my peroneal tendon, which is one of the tendons that connects your ankle to your foot (I had rolled my ankle). I had to take two weeks off of training – right in the middle of February. This crushed my spirit, but instead of letting it defeat me, I began to treat my injury like it was my sport. I babied my foot – I iced often, I tried to stay off it as much as I could, I bought new, supportive shoes and stopped wearing heels, I did strengthening exercises, and began going to physical therapy three times a week. It worked. I got through that (I still go to PT, twice a week now, just to keep it in check).

I have learned through this process how incredibly resilient our bodies are. I have learned to respect my body in a way I never had before. Your head will tell you to quit way before your legs will ever give in.

So what do I actually do? Here’s what my typical week looks like (in peak training):

Monday – shorter, faster run. Usually about 6 miles

Tuesday – spin, weights

Wednesday – off

Thursday – hill repeats. This is v important for Boston. Find a hill (not TOO steep) that it takes you about 1 minute to run up. Hill repeats anywhere from 4-10 times

Friday – easy day – light stretching, yoga

Saturday – LONG run. anywhere from 10-20 miles. followed by 5-7 minute ice bath for miles longer than 14

Sunday – off. try to go for a walk to help recovery

Every day- foam roll, drink LOTS of water, eat balanced meals of carbs/protein.

Before I started training, I thought that marathon training consisted of running 5x a week. It doesn’t. Elite runners can withstand that, but it actually just creates a higher risk of injury for an intermediate or beginner runners. For Boston, the long run is the most important workout of the week, followed by the hill intervals.

Another thing I didn’t realize, it is important to eat and drink during your long runs, I had no idea people actually eat during runs. Luckily, training on the course for Boston, there are so many other runners out that the charities actually have water stops for Saturday morning long runs. I try to switch off between Gatorade/water every other stop, and I have 1-2 Swedish fish every few miles. I tried all kinds of gels like GU, I just couldn’t get past the texture, but I like the Cliff energy gels, I will be bringing those with me on the marathon. The long runs are a good time to try out different snacks and drinks to find what works best for you for the big day.

This past weekend I completed the Mother of All Runs – 20 miles. Now begins the taper. It will have changed my life. I’m not there yet, so I’m hoping in the best of ways but either way, it will have changed my life because I will have done something that I NEVER thought I was capable of doing. I get emotional just thinking about the finish line. The day that has always only been a dream, is almost here, I can see it.

I have all of my plans in place, where and when to pick up my bib, what time I need to get on the bus that’ll take me out to Hopkinton. My focus now is rest, recovery, and staying healthy. My training has peaked, and I survived it, now I just need to trust in my training, and get to the start line.

The boy in the blue shirt

It was in 2011 that I first met Evan. I met him in the driveway of my childhood home. I remember it well, because while the four of us (my friend Julie and I, and Evan and his friend Steve) were going out for the night to meet up with other friends, I was supposed to like Steve. Imagine a world, where you’re supposed to like someone? I wish I could go back then and kick myself for allowing myself to feel like I had to do anything to please anyone else. Anyway…

I remember Evan because I thought he was cute right away. His shirt though, it was bright blue and two sizes too large. I knew he knew that too because the arms were rolled up and he kept tugging at it. He didn’t like it either, our first agreement was within seconds.

We went out that night and met a few other friends at Ladder 133 in Providence. I drove us all, in the cute little blue Audi I had, and it turned out to be a great night. We laughed all night. But the person I was focused on was Evan. He made me laugh the most. It would be the first, and last, night that I saw Evan for three years. I hung out with that same crowd of people we were mutual friends with, but we always missed each other. Whenever I was there, he wasn’t, whenever he was there, I wasn’t. Eventually, the boy in the blue shirt slipped out of my mind, after all … he was never supposed to be in my mind to begin with, or was he?

Three years later, I had recently moved to Boston. I was shopping after work one day, looking for the perfect throwback outfit to wear to a theme party I was going to that weekend. I had never been shopping where I was that day, and usually just went for a run or walked Cooper after work. But not that day, that day I went over to the BU area, and shopped around longer than I expected to. I was ready to head back home. I walked over to the MBTA train (the ‘T’), and waited for the next green line to take me back to my Cleveland Circle apartment. It came quickly, but was jam-packed with people heading home after work. I was deciding which car to get into, but they were both equally packed, I just picked one. I went up the stairs to the standing-room-only T, and found myself face-to-face with Evan Matzell.

He looked different but the same. He was wearing a light jacket this time. It fit. It looked great. He looked great. We talked the whole train ride. As people got off at each stop, seats opened up, but we just stayed there, face-to-face, talking. We talked all the way up until it was his stop. But it was also my stop. We learned that we lived within two blocks of each other. A week or two later, Evan and I went out on our first date. We quickly went on our second, then our third, then I met his mom, and then it was my birthday and he met my whole family. We quickly became a huge part of each others lives and neither of us wanted to slow down.

Over three years later, I still don’t want to slow down. I’ve never felt so right with someone, so at home. Who would’ve known, all these years later, that I’d be marrying that boy I met in my driveway. Life is funny that way. You never know when it’s going to zigzag and take you through a journey you wouldn’t have imagined. You have to trust your journey. I am so grateful that I’ll never go three years without seeing Evan Matzell again. My journey and his journey are now one, and I’m so excited for where it will take us.

Summer dessert

Master a good summer dessert recipe

I wanted to find a dessert that was easy, didn’t require turning on the oven, pretty, and on the lighter side.

Got it! I made this dessert just about a week ago when I went over my brother and sister-in-law’s house for dinner after work one night. I wanted to contribute something, so I brought dessert (and rose, of course). It was my first time making these, and it was delicious, SO easy to make – and very patriotic!

patriotic

Makes about 5 servings — and easy to add to if you need more

What you need:

Something to put them in: I bought plastic champagne flutes from a local liquor store, but you could also use ice cream or parfait cups.

10 Strawberries

Cool Whip (I use the light one)

2 Handfuls of blueberries

Several meringues (I had a hard time finding these. I checked Market Basket and Whole Foods, and neither had them. I was finally able to find them at Trader Joe’s, so if you have one of those by you, I’d start there)

What you do:

  1. Cut up the strawberries into bite sized pieces, and put them aside
  2. Crush up several meringues until they’re in bite sized pieces
  3. Put half of the Cool Whip into a larger bowl, and then add the crushed up meringues to the Cool Whip and stir. You can always add more Cool Whip, or meringues if needed. You want all of the pieces of meringues to be covered in Cool Whip, and enough meringues that each bite gives you a piece.
  4. Divide the strawberries equally between the cups, then top each with a hearty scoop of the Cool Whip/meringue mixture.
  5. Evenly divide the blueberries to cover each, then top each with a smaller layer of the Cool Whip/meringue mixture.
  6. Top each with a full meringue.

dessert

We enjoyed these on their roof deck in the South End of Boston, just at sunset. Beautiful!

Boston

Cheers!

On the right train, at the right time

Evan’s Mom recently gave this oil painting to Evan & I, and I am SO in love with it. It has such a significant meaning to our relationship.

Evan and I knew each other a few years back from hanging with a group of mutual friends a few times, but never really knew each other well. About 2-3 years later, we saw each other again on the Green Line MBTA (“T”) in Boston, where we both lived. He was on the T on his way home from work, and I stepped onto the jam-packed T from the St. Paul Street station where I had just been shopping. When the T is crowded like that, you’re standing pretttty close to the people next to you, and I happened to get onto the T and stand directly next to a guy, who happened to be Evan. We reconnected after years of not seeing each other, and found that we live about .5 mile from each other. We hung out that next week, and haven’t stopped hanging out since.

So when Evan’s Mom showed me this oil painting that her friend and artist, Seamas Culligan, painted, I was overwhelmed with how much it meant to me. This painting to me represents the day that turned my life around and brought me down a new track (no pun intended), to where I am today.

T

Mission Hill Traffic

Seamas is a Bostonian, who came here from Navan, Ireland. His serigraphs are so beautiful and the colors are vibrant. Here are a few more of his oil paintings, I just cannot get enough of these! Check out more of Seamas’ artwork at his site.

bike

Bike in Madrid

boston

Boston from Arlington

Sullys

Sully’s

from-brookline-shay-art

From Brookline

Cheers!

Five Cheers

macaroons

These macaroons [salted caramel and pistachio] from Thinking Cup in Boston. Perks to getting to night class early. Also, isn’t that the most perfect-looking latte?

beah

A night out with family to celebrate my brother’s birthday, and also him doing BIG things in the finance world.

books

Book Heaven. I can’t stay away from my all-time favorite bookstore, Brookline Booksmith.

Nars

The lazy-girl’s makeup. I just discovered this and I love it already! Nars makes this tinted moisturizer that works perfectly as a makeup, moisturizer, and also has spf 30 to keep your skin safe throughout the day. My tone is called Groenland. 

canam

My new PJ pants. E got these for me at the Can-Am hockey tournament he was at all weekend in Lake Placid. #TeamHenduus

Cheers!