Thursday, April 17, 2014

Race Recap: Paris Marathon

Almost two weeks after the race later...I am back from Paris AND have a race recap for you!

Let me just say that my trip to Paris was absolutely amazing. I lived there for six months during college and I feel like this 10-day trip was even better than those six whole months. Dan and I walked everywhere, ate delicious food, and drank loads of amazing (cheap!) wine. I can't forget to mention the pastries and countless cafe cremes consumed either!

Overall, the race was a good one. It was also insanely hard and it was the first marathon where I haven't listened to any music (the two may have been related...). It was sunnier and warmer than I'd expected, and also hillier than I thought it was going to be. But let's start at the beginning, shall we?

Dan and I arrived Friday morning after an overnight flight in coach. I slept a bit on the plane, and when we landed, we headed to our flat and went to the expo. I had absolutely no problems getting my bib and swag bag, and we wandered around the (enormous) expo for a bit before heading home for a much-needed nap.
2:03 is a reasonable goal, right?
Friday night, I slept incredibly well, but the night before the race I slept pretty horribly - a rarity for me. I was up for about an hour around 2am, tossing and turning, and finally fell back asleep around 3am. At 6:45am, my alarm went off and I started prepping for race day, snacking on a bagel with almond butter I'd brought from home, with banana slices and a cup of coffee. Before I knew it, it was time to head to the starting line! Dan headed over with me as well, and I handed off my gloves and arm warmers to him, knowing I wouldn't be needing them today (the temps were already in the 50s).
Pre-race Arc de Triomphe selfie!
I got to the corral around 8am (the race had a staggered start, with the first corral going at 8:45 - I was in the fourth corral, I think) and immediately hopped into the neverending portapotty line. For some inexplicable reason, there was exactly ONE portapotty in my corral of several thousand people. I had made my opinions of this terrible idea very clear in my Paris Marathon survey response, so I will spare you here. Suffice it to say that one portapotty is not enough portapotties.

ANYWAY! I crossed the starting line around 9:15am. We start out running along the Champs Elysees, away from the Arc de Triomphe and toward Place de la Concorde. Also, the Champs Elysees is sort of cobblestoned - not a surface I had trained on, but nice anyway! We ran around Concorde and headed east along rue de Rivoli, which offered some much-needed shade. 

My first four miles were good ones and I felt strong - 8:30, 8:25, 8:29, 8:25. I'd hoped for 8:30s so was pleased when I was holding to that.

Miles 5 to 8 - 8:21, 8:22, 8:24, 8:15. These were also some great miles, but shade was scarce. I saw Dan and our friend Ryann around mile 7.5 in the Bois de Vincennes, a gorgeous park on the east side of Paris, and I felt so relaxed and calm during that part of the run. Seeing them was a great pick-me-up, as you can see in my mile 8 time!

Miles 9 to 12 - 8:24, 8:42 (uphill), 8:07 (downhill), 8:17. I liked these miles as well, and was so happy to turn around and head west. The sun was at my back and I was almost halfway there!

Miles 13 to 16 - 8:22, 8:18, 8:27, 8:27. I actually almost fell on my face when a runner nearby tripped me by one of the nutrition stands! Luckily he also caught me before I fell, but it threw me off a bit. There was the ONE AND ONLY Powerade station around mile 14 as well (why there was one...I do not know, but it was NOT ENOUGH!), which was the best thing to see on such a warm day. Around here was also where we ran by Notre Dame. I remember seeing some signs for it, but to be honest, I barely took in any sights during the entire race!

Miles 17 to 20 - 8:38, 8:36, 9:14, 9:00. Around here was where the wheels started to come off. I saw Dan again near the Trocadero (~18.5), and seeing him was a much-needed pick-me-up. I was starting to really struggle mentally, and I think in these miles some music would have been good to throw on. I had my phone and headphones with me, but I also have a password on my phone (for work, so I couldn't disable it), AND my phone was in a plastic baggie, so I just didn't even bother. 

Miles 21 to 22 - 8:48, 9:38. Yep, you are reading that right correctly, 9:38 for mile 22. There was a hill and there were tunnels and I don't remember much other than pretty much wanting to stop. My goal for a 3:40 marathon was way out the window, and I strongly considered throwing in the towel and just running whatever pace I wanted for the rest of the race. 

Miles 23 to 24 - 9:00, 9:00. We entered the Bois du Boulogne, which meant there was like, HARDLY any race left at all! And I told myself that it was going to hurt no matter how fast or slow I went, so I might as well go fast! This was a great trick to play on my brain and totally got me moving :)

Miles 25, 26, 0.4 (because I suck at running tangents...and because the crowd NEVER thinned in this race!) - 8:46, 8:50, 7:37. One thing I hated around here - I could see these enormous streamer things ahead of me and was like OMG THE FINISH LINE! But NO! It was just some decoration to show you were at the 42km point! RUDE. Anyway, when I realized that I actually COULD PR (by a tiny bit), I sucked it up and ran with all that I had left in me. It was not pretty, and it was not fun, but it felt SO AMAZING to cross that damn finish line.
Just a little excited about being done!
I finished and immediately wanted to collapse/fall over/chug some Gatorade and/or a smoothie. My official time? 3:46:56, exactly 44 seconds faster than my Chicago Marathon time of 3:47:40 (on a flat course on a perfect marathon temperature day, mind you! And only one hour of jet lag instead of six!). As soon as I finished, I texted my dad and Dan to share with them the lesson I had learned during the race: "Holy sh*t, that was hard!" 

It was actually super easy to get my medal, my poncho, my finisher's shirt, and find Dan. It was a much faster and easier process than when I'd waited over an hour to find Dan after the NYC Marathon in November.
Somehow still standing!
So YES! I PR'ED!!! Very exciting, I'm totally thrilled. I worked my ass off through a challenging course on a (much) warmer day than I'm used to, on a hillier course than I'd expected, where electrolyte beverages were distributed exactly once. And I moved up places in every single 5k, which means I passed more people than passed me - which is awesome and an accomplishment I'm incredibly proud of. However, to say I'm not at all disappointed would be a lie. I am a very teeny tiny bit disappointed that I had such a strugglefest for a few of those miles. I was trained for a faster marathon for sure, and I know that I have a faster one in me. 

But, as I mentioned, there were a lot of things out of my control, and I'm incredibly proud of how I handled them all. I could have given up, thrown in the towel, and run a non-PR marathon - which would have been fine, because there are pastries to eat and wines to drink in Paris, after all. 

I was quite close to giving it all up, actually, but decided to give it an extra push and see what I am made of, and I can't be disappointed in myself for doing that. In fact, I celebrated.
Champagne, jam, and butter procured on Saturday since
everything is closed on Sundays
Dan bought me macarons and flowers. And we went to the
Trocadero to take pictures by the Eiffel Tower. Because Paris.
Till next time, Paris. And till next time, marathon. I'm coming for you, 3:40. Maybe not this year, but 2015 better start looking out.

A post about all the fun and cool stuff we did in Paris to come soon!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Quick bonjour from Paris!

I'm popping in just to say that today I ran the Paris Marathon - and PR'ed after a particular strugglefest during miles 17-22. I PR'ed by 44 seconds but I'm  not discounting that - a PR is a PR and I'm damn proud of it!

I'll be back next week with a full recap. Until then you can find me drinking wine and champagne, eating macarons and pain au chocolat, and wandering around my favorite city.

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram for pictures!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Week 15 - Ready or not...

It's here...RACE WEEK!

Last week I only strength, no cross training, just running (sadly, all on the treadmill). The marathon is only six days away. I have two more runs to get done before Sunday - and they shouldn't be tough at all: 6 x 400m to keep leg turnover quick, and a 3 mile run at marathon pace (which I may save for when I arrive in Paris).

Here's a look at last week's workouts:

2 miles warm up, 3 miles at an 8:00 pace, 1 mile cool down. Legs felt good, even when I thought they'd feed like total lead. I told myself I could take a break during the tempo miles, but ended up not needing any breaks! This was the first run where I wore my new marathon shoes (I know, should have worn them the week before if not earlier!) so they felt a little weird - one shoe felt tight, the other felt perfect. They felt better by the end, and two more runs later, they feel MUCH better.
Old and new!
1 mile warm up, 5 x 1000m at 8.2mph with 400m rests, 1 mi cool down. Great run! Pretty unmemorable, but it felt good, went well, and legs felt great!

8 miles! I went back and forth about running outside or running inside. It rained all day Saturday and rain was threatening on Sunday. I had a million errands to run on Sunday (including DSW for cute Paris shoes, Jack Rabbit for gels, Lululemon for a marathon top!) and by the time I was done, it was 5pm and thunderstorms were predicted, so I took it inside. Not ideal at all, but I figured it was better than risking illness. Plus it was windy, cold, and rainy! Of course, now rain is predicted on April 6 in Paris, so maybe it would've been good practice ;)

That's it they say, the hay is in the barn. I've put in the work. Nothing I do between now and Sunday is going to make me any faster. I'm going to focus on eating well, sleeping a lot, and finishing all the errands I have before I go (laundry is on the list for tomorrow!).

So what are my goals? I'm hoping for a 3:40, but I will be SUPER happy with a PR. My current PR is 3:47:40 from the 2012 Chicago Marathon, something I did not know was possible based on my training. This training cycle, I've been running a lot faster, so a PR is possible!

While a PR would be awesome, but I know that there are a lot of things working against me: a plane ride, jet lag, possible dehydration (planes are dehydrating by nature)...but I've got weapons to fight these! I'll bring a water bottle (and Nuun!), wear compression socks, and try to get right on track with sleeping as soon as I get on the plane.

I'm not bringing my computer to Paris, but follow me on Twitter and Instagram for my Paris adventures! And please send me fast thoughts on Sunday, April 6 - I need them! :)

Monday, March 24, 2014


Another week of training in the books, and one week closer to the Paris Marathon!

This week's plan was: 
Monday: Off - check!
Tuesday: Run - check! 7 mile tempo
Wednesday: Strength - nope, off
Thursday: Run - nope, off
Friday: Strength - nope, ran (speed!)
Saturday: Run - nope, spin!
Sunday: Off (might switch Saturday and Sunday) - ran!

After running 21 miles last Sunday, I NEEDED rest!!! So I rested. And then attacked a tempo run on Tuesday night. I just could not get up in the morning this week to workout. I also slacked on strength workouts, but it was a busy week at work and I wanted to get a lot of sleep. I actually took RIP Ride in an effort to get a little strength work in! Hey, whatever works, right?

This week's tempo was 1 mile warm up, 5 miles at 8:15 pace (7.3 mph), 1 mile cool down. My leg was bugging me again - felt really tight in the calf area, then loosened up after a mile or so. It ended up being a really good run! I ran the last tempo mile at 7.4 - gotta love when there's a little left in the tank!

The speed run was 8 x 800m at 8.3 mph (3:36 for each 800) with a warm up, cool down, and 90 seconds rest intervals between 800s. For the last 800, I ran it at 8.4 mph! I felt so good during this run - no tight leg, felt strong, and the 800s FLEW by. That is the thing that I LOVE about speed workouts. I was tired and didn't feel like running after work, but after a little pep talk and a reminder that speed workouts go by quickly, I went for it and before I knew it, it was over!
My speed workout method involves Post-Its
It was a great run! So happy I got it done. The reminder that I had only eight runs between me and the marathon also helped!

Long run:
On Sunday I ran 13 miles in Central Park. It was windy and cold, which is why it took me a million hours to get out the door (plus I was watching Breaking Bad on Netflix). After I realized that this would be my LAST double digit run before the marathon, I got more psyched up. I ran without music, took it easy, and ran all over the place!
Before - terrified for the cold
After - happy!!!
I averaged 8:31 over 13.15 miles. I'm SO ready to tackle this marathon!

So yes, I was lacking some motivation on the running from this week. It was tough to get out of bed, hard to get moving sometimes, but weeks like these happen to the best of us. And this one reminded me that once I DO get moving, it's not so bad! The marathon is on the horizon. It's so close I can almost taste the butter croissants and cafe cremes. I've put 14 weeks into preparing for ONE race...and I'm not going to lose those 14 weeks of hard work! 

In addition to the running, I was also lucky enough to receive a StrideBox special for Paris Marathon, on behalf of Schneider Electric, the main sponsor of the Paris Marathon. 
Supersweet StrideBox!
I actually bought a couple of the items in this box last week at Jack Rabbit, so I'm excited to have more opportunities to try them out. The box came with:

  • Gu Brew in lemon lime - always good to have on hand
  • Gu energy gel in salted caramel - so delicious - seriously, amazing
  • Lenny & Larry's Fit Protein Brownie - looks yummy!
  • Hyland's Bioplasma Sport - the little packet dissolves on the tongue - so cool!
  • Skin Strong Slather Anti-Chafing Cream - I'm usually a Body Glide girl, but it's good to know this exists!
  • Fluid Recovery Drink Mix in chocolate wave - this was one of the things I bought last week, but haven't yet tried
  • Honey Stinger protein bar - love their waffles
  • LaceLocker (I like the idea of this - I HATE when laces click on my RoadID so this could be a good solution
And some cute little signs, perfect for selfies!
Next to my quote of this training cycle - if you want
something you've never had, you must be prepared to do
something you've never done!
Thanks Schneider Electric for the #Xperience! TWO WEEKS TILL PARIS!!!

This week's workout schedule (March 24-30):
Monday: Off
Tuesday: Run
Wednesday: Strength
Thursday: Run
Friday: Strength
Saturday: Off
Sunday: LAST LONG RUN!!!

FIVE runs to go...let's do this thing!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Week 13 - Dreamy peak week

This week....this week was a magical week. I did absolutely no strength training, but I did spend a collective 14 hours on a plane, 60 hours in Paris, and 5 hours running. I ran 36 miles in two beautiful cities, PR'ed in the half marathon, AND enjoyed a kir on a Parisian terrace. It was a truly wonderful week and a fantastic way to head into taper city.

A recap of my week's workouts (March 10-16):
Monday: Off - check!
Tuesday: AM run - check! 10 x 400 before work
Wednesday: Off - check!
Thursday: AM run - check! 8 gorgeous miles around Paris
Friday: Strength? - nope
Saturday: Off - check!
Sunday: 13.1 for the NYC Half + 6.9 miles! - check! 21 miles and a half marathon PR!

Here's a rundown of this week's runs:

This week's speed workout was 10 x 400m at 8.5 mph with 400m rest (plus a warm up and cool down). I ended up going just 6.7 miles in the hour - 400m rest is a LOT of time off when you're just doing 400m repeats! The 400s felt really good, and in the last two repeats I bumped up the speed to 8.6 mph. I was so happy to get this in before my flight to Paris that night!

I arrived in Paris early Wednesday morning and spent most of the day working. I woke up Thursday to sunny skies and temps in the mid-50s - I couldn't NOT run in that weather! So I set out for a scenic loop of Paris, hitting up the Louvre, the Tuileries, the Champs-Elysees, the Arc de Triomphe, the Trocadero, Eiffel Tower, the Seine and its many bridges, and Notre Dame, before heading back to the hotel, which was near the Louvre. It was perfect! Even though I spent just over an hour running, an hour and a half had elapsed from when I started to when I finished, since I took about a million pictures. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful run!
Tuileries, Champs-Elysees, and L'Arc de Triomphe in the distance 
Gorgeous flowers 
Eiffel Tower selfie! 
Amazing route throughout Paris!
I went to bed last night looking forward to running 20 miles in the morning. I felt well rested, happy, and excited. It was my last super long run before marathon day! This positivity helped me immensely during the race.

I split today's run into three: 3.1 miles to the NYC Half start, 13.1 miles during the half, and 5.1 miles after a nice, long nap. I had to hustle to the start line but made it with about 5 minutes to spare, hopping over the barricade to my corral. My Garmin went craaazy during the race and said I ran 14.24, I know I suck at running tangents, but I don't suck THAT badly. Somewhere along 7th Avenue it just went a little wonky and for the rest of the race it was all wrong with crazy splits. Ohhh well. 

The race was actually REALLY great! I wasn't such a fan of it last year, but this year I was really impressed by it. Around mile 9 I realized that I could probably PR today, and started to kick it up a bit in the last two miles. In the last four miles, I also did some visualization for marathon day, imagining that I was at mile 22, tired but strong, and how I was going to be so happy to be running in PARIS!!! I also negative split the race - the first 5k was at an 8:33 pace, and ended with an overall 8:15 pace! So happy with this race today. It was awesome! Came in at 1:47:54, which is a minute and a half PR. Plus friends came and met me, and we went for brunch at a cute little diner - I was hungry!
Shiny medal, shiny PR
The last 5 mile run followed a lovely nap and was a simple out and back. It was cold and windy, and probably not ideal that it was done a few hours after running the 16 miles (ideally I'd have run all the miles at once, but I did what I could with what I had), but 21 miles for the day is GREAT!!! I'm so happy with today's long run!

Overall, this was a GREAT week of running. No strength training, but a trip to Paris, a half-marathon PR, AND I got all three runs in! 

Here's the plan of attack for my first week in Taper City, USA (March 17-23):
Monday: Off
Tuesday: Run
Wednesday: Strength
Thursday: Run
Friday: Strength
Saturday: Run
Sunday: Off (might switch Saturday and Sunday)

Hope you all have fantastic weeks!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Week 12 - I'm going to Paris!

Your thought right now is probably "um, DUH, Margaret, that's where the MARATHON that you've been talking about for forever is!" And yes, you're right, the marathon IS there, but I also was asked last week if I'd go to Paris THIS week for some focus groups, and of course I said yes, because who can say no to two trips to Paris in three weeks?! Plus it'll be an amazing experience getting hands-on experience with focus groups, one of my key development areas at work.

Tempting though it may be to wish me luck this week, the race is still four (very short!) weeks away. Is it just me or has December till now just completely flown by? I feel like I was just starting training not that long ago - and look how far I've come now! In four weeks, I'll be a four-time marathoner! And winner of the Paris Marathon! OK, mayyybe not the second one...

Here's a recap of my week 12, March 3-9:
Monday: REST DAY! - check!
Tuesday: Run? - nah, took a rest day
Wednesday: Strength - nope, did my speed workout, 3 x 1600
Thursday: Run - nope, strength
Friday: Strength - nope, ran (faux tempo)
Saturday: Run - nope, took off
Sunday: Off/yoga - nope, ran 13 mi!

Sooo I totally didn't follow the plan at all. Ah well, I got my runs in! Week 12 was a tough week. March is the first month since November where I don't have my trusty ClassPass :( Without it, I'm trying to maintain strength workouts, but an at-home workout without shoes (and no stretching after!) was not what I had in mind. Still, that's what I did on Thursday, and it made Friday night's run totally suck - and it was actually pretty painful, too. I would run 1.5 mi, then have to stop and stretch, then run a little more, then stop and stretch, till I got to five miles around tempo/race pace. It wasn't pretty, but one bad run every once in a while isn't going to kill me.

My speed workout this week was 3 x 1600 at 8.0 mph. I felt GREAT during this run. Seriously, so good. I even popped up the speed on the last mile repeat to 8.1 - THAT'S how good I was feeling!

Sunday's long run was quite uneventful. I don't even have any pictures from it! I couldn't quite get myself together to get running this morning, so I decided to run in the afternoon after brunch. (This was a terrible decision, because it meant the rest of my day was an utter waste when I need to do things like buy shoes and travel adapters! But I got the run in, which is super important.) I finally got myself together around 3pm, then went outside and was absolutely freezing in what I'd decided to wear (long sleeve, vest, tights). So I went back upstairs for a jacket instead of a vest. THEN I got really hot...thank goodness the jacket had vents! THEN I got really I had to zip them up. It was a super fun game of too hot/too cold, but eventually I ran around the park so dang much that it was time to head home. I'm glad I got some hill practice in before next week's half!

Next week is my last week of super hard work - and then it's TAPER PARTY TIME!!! I keep forgetting I'm running the NYC Half - it's just a race I'm running, and I'm adding 7 miles onto the end to get up to 20 for the day on my last hardcore long run before the marathon. PARIS is where my head's at, and I think that's where it should be. Could I PR in the half next week? Probably, I've been training my ass off! But do I want to go super hard in a race that I don't care quite so much about as Paris? Maybe some people would do it, but it's not the option I'm going with. Paris is my goal race, and while I don't have a coach to bounce ideas off of to see if I maybe should push myself in the race, I'm going with my gut, which is telling me to follow the plan and run 20 miles that day. It's worked for me in the past, and I have a good feeling about it working this time around, too.

Traveling this week is going to throw a bit of a wrench in my workout plans, but I'm going to do my very best to get in both the speed and tempo runs this week. The long run is already scheduled!

Week 13 (March 10-16):
Monday: Off
Tuesday: AM run
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: AM run
Friday: Strength?
Saturday: Off
Sunday: 13.1 for the NYC Half + 6.9 miles!

I'm coming for you Paris - TWICE over the next four weeks!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Week 11 - I can do this!

Five weeks left AAAHHH! This week was a really, really good one. All my runs got done the way they were prescribed, and I got in some awesome cross training!

Week 11 (Feb. 24-Mar. 2):
Monday: Lotus Hour at Laughing Lotus - check!Tuesday: Run - check! 7 mile tempoWednesday: Body Ride at Revolve - check!Thursday: Run - check! Speed work over 6.6 miFriday: Uplift Strength - check!Saturday: OFF - check! 
Sunday: Run - plus Oscars watching! - check! 18.6 miles and a lot of laying around :)

This run happened after work last Tuesday. I didn't feel like running, but I (smartly) had taken my gym bag to work and went STRAIGHT to the gym (thank you, express train!). It also helped that the Bachelor was on, which is always a good distraction. I did a mile warm up, 5 miles at "marathon pace", and a mile cool down. Now, I don't know what my marathon pace really is, but I went with a guess between 8:00-8:19 (7.2-7.5) for the tempo miles. I FELT AWESOME! Like I was floating. I definitely felt like I could have kept going!

Another evening run at the gym. Again, didn't really feel like going, but as usual, am VERY glad that I knocked it out! Speed workouts ALWAYS fly by, and added up don't amount to a TON of actual "hard work" time. Telling myself this got me out the door! I did 1.25 mi warm up, 1000m at 8.2, 2000m at 7.9, 2 x 1000 at 8.2, 1.25 mi cool down, with 400m break between each interval. I felt really good during the run!

Not gonna lie, I drank quite a bit of wine Saturday night (after having the most productive Saturday ever!), so I didn't have very high hopes for this long run. But I got up, had my peanut butter banana toast, threw on some clothes, and filled up my CamelBak (thank goodness I brought water on this run!). I ran a loop of Central Park, exited at 110th St. and headed west. I ran to the little red lighthouse (exactly 12 miles!), then ran back down and headed home! Miles 10-14 I did "marathon pace" miles, which were 8:05-8:30. I felt really good during the run - I ate Gu around miles 6 and 12, which fueled me really well. My overall distance was 18.64 miles at an average pace of 8:43. This run reassured me that I CAN DO THIS!!! It's gonna be doable. I'm gonna GET IT DONE!!! WOO!


After the run, I took an epsom salt bath (SO lovely!), had a smoothie, and took a nap. And then the Oscars came on and I had a feast! And tonight I figured I still needed some calorie replenishment, so I took myself to Shake Shack for a burger, fries, AND concrete. Best ever.
Refueling the day after the run still counts as refueling, right?
In addition to the runs, I also had two awesome cross training classes (Body Ride with Jason Tran - dance party on a bike!, and Uplift Strength - such a great class!), plus a yoga class, which was just what I needed. 

I went to all these classes via ClassPass, but I've put my pass on hold for March and April so I can focus on getting my runs in. I feel really good about that decision, but I'm nervous about getting in my strength training. I am going to have to make it a part of my schedule - as important as the run days AND rest days! 

And with that, here's my plan for the week!

Week 12 (March 3-9):
Monday: REST DAY! 
Tuesday: Run?
Wednesday: Strength
Thursday: Run
Friday: Strength
Saturday: Run
Sunday: Off/yoga

I'm not sure if I'm going to be quite ready to run tomorrow after Sunday's long run. This has been a heck of a recovery for me - my knees were SORE after that run...but not to the touch, just generally achy after the run - especially noticeable when walking down the stairs. I wish I knew what was up with that...but I'm just going to ice and rest still I feel totally better.

That's it from me! Have a great week!