Lesson Learned: Don't Slack During Marathon Training

Oh blog friends, how I've missed you!  My new job as a kindergarten teacher has taken over my life.  I'm not complaining, and I absolutely love my school, colleagues, and  students; but if I let myself, I could spend all hours of the day/night/weekend planning and prepping for it.  But now that I'm getting more and more in the swing of things, and conferences are over, I'm going to make time for blogging because I love being a part of this amazing community! 

Sure I've had no time for blogging, but you may be asking if I've made time for other things in my life.   Actually no; I've had no time for running (or a lot of other real life activities for that matter). Which may not have been such a bad thing; except for the fact that I ran a marathon on November 20th!

I started off my marathon training pretty gung ho, and had my mind set on PR-ing.  I ran quarter mile repeats on the track, completed my first ever tempo run, got in two 20 milers, and even ran the morning of a hurricane!  But after I got my job at the end of October, I ran maybe 5 times on a treadmill.  I never doubted that I would finish, and a hopeful part of me still thought I may be able to PR by a few minutes.  However it didn't quite end up that way...
All smiles at the start....
 The Philadelphia Marathon got sold out, so I signed up for The Bucks County Marathon in Pennsylvania (awesome decision as this was a WONDERFUL marathon!).  It was this marathons first year and the smallest race I've ever done, capped at 500 participants.  The course was extremely scenic, winding mostly along the Delaware Canal Tow Path.  Shout out to all the volunteers, they were great!

I just joined a gym  and I was talking to one of their trainers.  He's a seasoned marathoner and iron man, so he knows his stuff.  He told me that going into a marathon and not being at my best, I should focus on achieving negative splits (well you should always do this, but especially if you're under trained) and really listen to how my body felt.  And the first half I took it easy, although looking back I should have taken even slower, and I felt super.

Seriously happy before the running began

 As I ran past the 15 mile marker I distinctly remember thinking to myself, "Wow, it sure doesn't feel like I've ran 15 miles!  This is great!  Maybe I will PR!"  <-----hah!

Mile 16 is when I began to feel a few aches and pains, but nothing alarming.

I had been rockin' a pretty steady pace (on track for 4:45 to PR) and had been doing well with fueling about every hour.  Had my GU's about each hour, starting from 1:00. 2:00, and 3:00.  But for some reason, around the 3 hour mark, when I took that 3rd GU my stomach began to have major issues.  I felt like I needed to throw up, and I came close to doing it a few times.  After that I *dumbly* did not take another GU.  

I went from feeling great to utterly blah, in a matter of 2 miles.  By the time 20 hit, I was in pain.  Miles 20-26.2 are a blur and I mentally started to doubt myself at that point.  Here are a few snippets of my thoughts.

"Who the h e double hockey stick would sign up for this?  I am NEVER EVER EVER doing another marathon again!"


"I can do it.  I can do it.  I don't care how slow I am.  I can do it."

"Never mind.  I can't do this.  What if I just called Shane and asked him to come get me?"

"If I stop taking walk breaks and pick up the pace, maybe I'll still PR???"
"Get real Melissa.  WHO CARES ABOUT PR-ING!!!!! "

Things also got a little scary in those last 4 miles.  I felt terrible, due in part for not taking another GU, and I started to get a little spacey.  I was close to tears a few times because my body felt bad.  I hyperventilated 2 different times; I couldn't get in more than a shallow breath, my airway constricted and I could hear myself wheezing.  I was not running fast enough to be out of breath, I just kept getting into these tearful, unable to breath, episodes, and it was scary.  I'm a hard headed person, and wanted to finish so after it passed I continued on, walk/run/walk/run.  

The last mile an extremely nice girl came up behind me and I started to run with her.  We were chatting and she was so motivating!  However my sick stomach did not enjoy her quick pace, so I wished her luck and she continued on.    As I left the towpath another runner came up next to me and he also shared some much needed positive energy.  He kept repeating, "We're almost there!  We can do it!"  As my feet hit the pavement, I knew we were close, but my body was giving up on me.  I begrudgingly gave into my bodies demands and began to walk.  As though there was a light at the end of the tunnel; a literal tunnel we had to run through to get to the finish, I saw my Dad, Kelly, and Shane cheering me on!  It was the extra oomph I needed to get my butt running, ahem, hobbling again. 

I couldn't wimp out with the finish line in sight!

It took every fiber of my being to make it across that finish line...but I did it!  5:05:11

 So what did I learn from my second marathon experience?  

TRAIN!  This one is obvious, but it still needs to be mentioned.  Even though *most* of my training had been completed, not running for a month completely threw me off.  And thankfully I made it across the finish line and a few days later I feel great, but maybe it could have taken a scary turn for the worst.  Check out *this* article from Runner's World about sudden death in races.

Have a fueling strategy.  Sure my stomach hurt, and just the thought of a GU made my stomach queasy.  But I should have sucked it up and taken another one around hour 4.  I think my breathing difficulties, mental haze, and overall fatigue could have greatly been reduced if not completely gone, if I had fueled properly.  I sort of "go with the flow" but next marathon I will have my fueling strategically planned.  No ifs, ands, or upset stomachs about it!

Know your limits.  As much as I would have loved to beat my previous time, I could tell my body was not going to do it.  At the end maybe I could have skipped the walking and pushed through the pain but I knew my limit had been reached and in order to finish I had to run/walk.  I'd rather be a bit slower than not finish at all!
Never make a bet on pre-marathon adrenaline.  I bet Shane 1,000 dollars he would not run a marathon by next year.  We shook on it and it was posted to Facebook.  He's running Philadelphia next year (so he says) and wants it delivered in a brief case...in one's.  

Any suggestions for my next marathon ;)  The amnesia has already set in!

**And Happy Thanksgiving**  A little late, but I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday.



Blog Hiatus

Hi Friends!  Guess what?? I GOT A JOB! It's my dream job, *kindergarten teacher*, in a dream school with a dream staff.  Everyone is great and I'm so looking forward to beginning teaching on Monday.  I've been going in early and staying until 8 these past few nights prepping my classroom for my students.  I'm going to take a week or 2 off from the blog so I can focus my energies on my  new class!  I haven't run at all this week either...eeek!  Hoping to get in 22 miles on Sunday though.  Well, I'll be back soon.  I'll miss you all <3 xoxoxo


20 Miles + Plenty of Candy Corn

20 miles is a long time to run by yourself.  Back when I was training for my first marathon, I was lucky enough to be a part of Team in Training.  

 While fundraising for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and running my little heart out, I had the opportunity to meet a group of amazing people.  We would meet each weekend to conquer our long runs, and boy was it fun!  Chatting about running, life, and the cause we were running for made the miles fly by. 

 This time around I'm training by myself.  Although one day I see myself joining back up with Team in Training, for now I am training sans a team.  But training for a marathon with out running buddies can get monotonous and can even be dangerous.  During a 17-miler I ran out of water and was super thirsty when I got home.  Sure I made it home, but what if it had been hotter?  After hearing this my mom promptly got online, looked up a local running group, and signed me up.  Thanks Mom!

Saturday night, after carbo loading with sweet potatoes, I got all my running gear together in preparation for my big day.  This running group is very organized and has routes posted online, so I figured I'd run the 10 mile loop with everyone, and then do the other 10 by myself.  Due to some events going on, the turn out was small, and only one other person was doing the 10 mile loop + a 6 mile loop.  It was so great!  About 15 minutes before we started I ate a banana, then we all started out together, and at mile 3, 2 runners split off to finish the 6 mile loop, while Barbara and I continued on to complete 10.  We arrived back at our cars in 1:46:39!  

When running with a buddy, your mind doesn't have time to second guess itself and the thought "I can't do this" never surfaced.  Instead we talked about our love of running, how awesome it was that we had the same running pace, and just got to know each other.  Mentally it was also easier to think of this as two separate 10 mile runs.  After hydrating we set out again, and Barbara split off at 3 miles, which left me only 7 miles by myself.    My second 10 was run in 1:51:51, slower than my first 10 but I was just happy to cover the distance with no ankle pain!!!

Refueling wise I took some of your advice and tried new GU flavors.  Espresso Love at mile 7 and Chocolate at mile 14.  It was like eating dessert while running!  Really enjoyed the flavors and so happy I'm over my non-fruity GU fear. 

When I got home Shane had an ice bath waiting for me, and I soaked for 20 minutes.  I really feel a difference in my recovery when I use an ice bath!  It may be hard getting in, but it's totally worth it for me!  And then I enjoyed a recovery shake. (recycled this picture...they all look the same!)

2 medium bananas
large handful spinach
1 1/2 cups soy milk
1 packet chocolate Amazing Meal

After a long run all I want to do is nap, eat, repeat.  I filled my body with lots of nutritious eats, but I also indulged in my favorite fall candy...CANDY CORN!

Yea, I'm pretty much obsessed with candy corn.  Shane and I first started dating in the fall, and one day he surprised me with flowers...and a bag of candy corn.  He knew the way into my heart even then <3

And if you ever want to show your love of candy corn through the art of baking, make these cupcakes!  Instead of water I used Candy Corn flavored soda from Target.  They were so cute and tasty!

One more candy corn related note, mix dry roasted peanuts with the autumn candy corns (white, orange, brown) and the sweet/salty flavor is the bomb.com!

Do you prefer to run by yourself or with a group? A lot of days, I find running to be my "me" time and enjoy running alone.  However long runs are wonderful with a group!  And although I haven't done it myself, I've heard having a friend to do speed work is super fun and is really helpful motivation wise.

What's your favorite fall candy?


Family Time

Before moving to California, I guess you could say I took my family and friends for granted.  You can basically drive from the top of NJ to the bottom in about 4ish hours.  

It's not that big.
But with my fam in north Jersey, and friends spreading out all over NJ after college, I didn't always make the time for them.

 Before I left for Cali I met up with fam and friends who I hadn't seen in ages.  All because there was never time or they were "too far away".  When I left I questioned myself, why did it take moving 3,000 miles away to start making coffee dates to see the people I love?

Friendships take work.  And when I got back from Cali, a state so large it takes up most of the west coastline, I made a decision to make the effort.  The effort to drive to see family.  The effort to call up an old friend. The effort to get over my tiredness on a Friday night and be social.  

This weekend I went home and spent some quality time with my 9 year old brother and the rest of the fam.  
I had never been to this park, but we had a blast!

Matt and Dusty had fun exploring.  Matt even found a salamander, the highlight of our hike!

This place has a lot of history.

The American Studies major in me just loves it!  During the Revolutionary War, Washington used this rock to watch for the British; you can see as far as 30 miles out!

After we got home we enjoyed sugar cookies that had been baked with Grandma earlier!

Sure, it's not always fun driving 2 hours up the Turnpike...but it's worth it :)

Do you live close to your family?

Do you get to see your friends as often as you'd like?  



What is MTE, you ask?  It's Marathon Training Edition!  I ran 17 miles on Monday and thought it might be fun to show a day of Long Run Eats.  

Monday morning I woke up around 6:45 to be out the door by 7:30.  I fueled up with a banana and peanut butter.  That's right, no bread.  Sometimes it makes me feel too full before a long run.  I got outside and was greeted by crisp, fall weather.  I layered up with running tights, tank, and long sleeve shirt; about 45 minutes in I tied the long shirt around my waist.   I felt prepared with 3 GUs and 20 oz water bottle. 
I struggled again with my water bottle conundrum.  Although 20 oz of water ended up to be perfect for the distance/weather, the bottle felt heavy in my hand.  I was also juggling the water bottle in one hand and my cell phone in the other because my SPI belt was too full with the 3 GUs to fit anything else.

I took Blueberry Pomegranate Roctane 45 minutes in and around 1:45 I took my 2nd GU, Strawberry Banana.  I tend to stick with fruity GUs, the thought of espresso or chocolate on a run just turns my stomach!

When I got home I did as much streching as my muscles would allow and then made myself a smoothie.  I call this a *Super Smoothie* because it gave my body the nutrients it was craving!

1 cup baby spinach
2 tbsp ground flax seeds
1 packet Amazing Meal Vanilla Chai
2 medium bananas
1 1/2 cups unsweetened soy milk
1 cup frozen blueberries

This super smoothie is full of nutrient packed calories and plenty of protein!  

Lunch time I ate some delicious soup and 2 slices of Trader Joe's sprouted multi-grain bread.  Seriously, how did I ever live before a crock pot!? The other day I threw in lentils, pearled barley, veggies, spices, water, and had a hearty soup 8 hours later!  

If I've ever said anything negative about TJ's seaweed snacks, I take it back!  I love wasabi and couldn't resist buying these.  They did not disappoint.

Dinner was soup...AGAIN!  With one slice of Trader Joe's sprouted multi-grain bread with a side of roasted turnips, brussel sprouts, and a big ole squirt of ketchup!  Even WIAW: MTE couldn't stop me from repeating meals! 

Soy Creamy is dreamy.  For reals. This stuff is so delicious, and has none of that funky soy taste/funky texture.  

Are you a meal repeat offender? When I cook, I like to make big batches because I honestly don't mind repeating meals.  And it makes my life so much easier.  Plus, I tend to like the things I make, so it's enjoyable to eat the same thing for a week straight!  The lovely Jenn at Peas & Crayons calls this being in a "food jag"!

How do you fuel your long runs/exercise?  This run the GUs worked well.  I experimented last week with natural fuel, but it was too messy!  At least with GUs it's quick, simple, and I can focus my energy on running.  I used to do a PB Banana sandwich, but now find the banana and PB to be much better.

How do your taste buds feel about Trader Joe's seaweed snacks?  My taste buds didn't know what to expect, and so I was a bit grossed out at first.  Then I tried the wasabi and fell in love!  I think they have such a strong ocean-y flavor, but once you get used to it, it's really tasty.



Ohh, We're Halfway There {Sorta}

I'm in week 7 of a 17 week marathon training plan.  Eeeek!  I know I'm not even halfway through, but it seems like it's sneaking up on me!  

Like I said in an earlier post, I'm using this book

And so far I've really like this plan.  A typical week looks like this:
Monday: Jog 40 minutes
Tuesday: Cross train 30 minutes
Wednesday: 400x___ quarter mile repeats
Thursday: Cross train 30 minutes or rest.
Friday: Jog 30 minutes
Saturday: Long Run
Sunday: Rest
During training plans I'm always good about getting in my long run, and this time around the speed work out.  However, I ALWAYS have trouble sticking with the plan during the week with those jogs and cross training.  Looking back at my Daily Mile  I've definitely switched days around and not followed the plan to a T, but I have gotten in miles and some cross training.

Weeks 1-8 are part of the Endurance Phase and so every Wednesday I've been increasing my endurance with quarter mile repeats.  Starting in week 9 through week 14 I will enter the Stamina Phase, and my Wednsday quarter mile repeat workout will be replaced with tempo runs.

During weeks 1-7 so far I've been using some of the "jog 40 minutes" day as a very loose tempo run.  Basically just running fast.  Since I don't own a Garmin, I have to just run at a pace which I perceive as being "fast" and then when I get home I plug my route and time into Daily Mile and get my average pace.  Not the most accurate, but it's been working.  I'm a little wary of the Stamina Phase and setting out for a "real" tempo run!  

And I don't think I'll be able to just drop the quarter mile repeats.  As much as I don't look forward to them, I've grown to enjoy them how I feel when I'm done with them.  So I think that they'll sneak their way into the stamina phase.

If you look at week 6 on my Daily Mile (this past week) it was so terrible.  In my last post I mentioned I took a break from blogging...well I also took a break from running.  Not because I was injured.  Not because I was tired.  But because I just gave up on myself for a little period of time.  I hate to admit it, but I was a weak person last week.  Mentally I knew running would make me feel better and help lift me out of my funk, but instead I had a pity party.  But I'm over it and on Monday I got in 15 miles!

These 15 miles were important for two reasons.  One because this is the furthest distance I've ran since last year.  And second because this was a key run in my fuel experimentation.  I have been toying with the idea of fueling my runs naturally and I made my own sports drink and energy gel.  No Meat Athlete is a great resource.

Natural Gel from No Meat Athlete
I didn't have all the ingredients so this is what I used:
6 dried apricots (soaked in water)
1/4 cup light agave 
lime juice
sea salt

My thoughts: It tasted alright, but it had some teeny apricot chunks in it.  Also, it was really messy.  I used a small ziplock bag (like in No Meat Athlete's picture) and tried to eat it out of the top corner.  I had to walk while taking it and it got my fingers sticky!  Also, this amount was too much and I only ate about 2/3 of it.

Sports Drink from No Meat Athlete
This is actually called Chia Iskiate.  I mixed it in a 16.9 oz Poland Springs bottle so I could hold it with me on my run.  

My thoughts: By mile 11 I had finished it and was feeling thirsty around mile 13.  I'm debating between investing in a fuel belt or a camel back for extra hydration on training runs.  The jelly like consistency of the chia seeds was a bit strange, but if I took a big gulp I didn't mind it.

Overall, I think I had enough fuel but not enough water.  Afterwards I took an ice bath and I think that definitely alleviated soreness!  Today I feel great!!!!

If you actually read all of this, thanks for sticking with me!  And sorry for the lack of pictures.

Do you follow training plans 100%? I've never been able to follow them exactly, but I'm okay with that.  Although this marathon I have a time goal (my first marathon I ran just to finish) I believe as long as I'm completing the most key workouts(i.e. quarter mile repeats/tempo and long runs)  and staying active during the week I should be fine.
How do you hydrate?  Camelback or fuel belt? Hand held bottles are out for me!  I really don't like having my hands full while running!



Back from a Break

My last post was August 25th, can you believe it?  I've been reading blogs but just haven't had the urge to update my own.  Sorry little bloggy!!!!  I have been keeping busy though!

I drove into Philly all by myself since Shane was working and navigated my way through an unfamiliar part of the city.  Anyone who knows me can attest to my terrible sense of direction and uncanny ability to ALWAYS get lost!  I of course did get lost in Philly, but thankfully made it to Aimee's SURPRISE party in one piece.

Delicious Italian food and plenty of vino was enjoyed by all.  I brought red velvet wine from Cupcake Winery, and it was heavenly.

In case you didn't notice, we survived Hurricane Irene.  {Feels like so long ago}

We headed to Allison and Nick's {love that they're now 5 minutes away!} for dinner, wine, lots of Storage Wars...and then the power went out.  So we enjoyed playing Clue by candlelight.

And of course this weekend Shane and I attended Christina and Chris's wedding!  She was such a gorgeous bride and it was such a great time.
Taste the rainbow :)
The weather was perfect.  And look at us, we look like pretty Skittles!
Allison got our table hooked on wine spritzers.
What a fabulous night with long lost Phi Sig loves!
Congrats and thank you Christina and Chris!!! 

Bloggers, do you sometimes just need a break from blog world too? When I'm feeling over whelmed in real life, the last thing I feel like doing is blogging!!


It's WIAW Time!

Let's get right to it, shall we?

I finally went to a track to do my speed work.  And can I be honest here...I'm not a big track fan.  All the other days when I couldn't get to the track I was kind of bummed and didn't feel like a "real" runner doing my speed work by measuring out a quarter mile on DailyMile.com or using a treadmill at the gym.  But now, I think I liked those better.  First, I don't even know if the track I used was 400m, my times were way too fast.  And even though the track may have been shorter than 400m it felt like longer!!!

Unpictured post-run smoothie, as per usch.
*banana, soy milk, chocolate Amazing Grass, ice*

I love summer because I CRAVE veggies.
And when you don't have much else left to eat, you make it work.
*sliced radish, zucchini, carrot, Whole Foods spicy thai dressing, nooch*

Dinner included my fave root vegetable....

sweet potato!
If you haven't had the chance to order sweet potato sushi rolls, you don't know what your missing.  My fabulous sister, Alli, introduced these to me when we went out for sushi last month.  For the longest time I ate fish just because I couldn't give up sushi.  But veggie rolls, including this one, satisfy my craving and go above and beyond my expectations for sushi!

After dinner I got to meet up with my friend Kerry and her 5 month old baby, err, I mean puppy, Tucker.  We took Tuck on a nice long walk around a gorgeous lake by her house.  It brought back memories of Team in Training because that's where we would meet for long runs!!  

And I almost forgot the un-pictured late night snack I ate...frozen mangoes!  Seriously.  I got home and Shane was eating ice cream and all I wanted was something cold.  So I took out some frozen Trader Joe's mango chunks, and as they thawed a little they were the perfect cool treat!

Hope everyone enjoyed their Wednesday...
now go make Thursday a great one!

Have you ever tried a sweet potato sushi roll?  

Do you like to use a track for speed work?  If so, what are some tips for making it more enjoyable?!


I love my friends.


I know it's a pretty obvious statement to make, but I just wanted to throw it out there.  Like I told them yesterday, if it wasn't for them, or my wonderful family, I would most likely still be living in the palm tree wonderland of San Diego.  But the past few weekends I was able to get together with my BFFs "just because" and it was seriously fabulous to see their beautiful faces.  

We had great dinner at a cute little Mexican place in Freehold.  It was BYOB and Kerry made some fantastic sangria!  Good food, good people, good drinks.

This past weekend Shane and I hosted a little BBQ and lake party.

Thankfully the rain held out and we had a gorgeous day!

Shane was the ultimate grill master and made jalapeno/monteray jack & bacon/cheddar stuffed burgers.  All the meat eaters said they were the best burgers they ever had!

We had a wide array of delicious food and I made a salad from Jenna at Eat, Live, Run.

This salad was so light and fresh, the ultimate summer salad if I do say so myself!

I LOVE being close to my friends and I'm so happy I have got to see them the past few weekends.  Thanks girls, love you<3



Peachy Keen

I baked a fabulous vegan peach pie the other day.

Oh yea, and I promised you the recipe!

The mess you make while baking this pie is well worth it.


Kathy over at  Healthy Happy Life posted her recipe for summer peach pie.  And there's a video how to also!  So get on over there and get baking!