Learning from the past! @FITNYCPamela’s Past Marathon Recaps & Goals/Tips for the @INGNYCMarathon! #ingnycm

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Ready, set, marathon…

I am getting VERY excited for the New York City Marathon this weekend!  If you are watching or tracking me, my number is 13,094! I start in Orange Wave 1 at 9:40.  I was aiming for an under 4 hour marathon (my lofty estimated finish time when I signed up was a 3:30), but I don’t think that is going to happen. I have been struggling with injuries on both calf muscles.  I know I will get to the finish as I am determined to and I have been training since June (not to mention for last years marathon before the cancellation), I am just hoping that it is in a decent time and I really remember to enjoy myself!

My favorite race distance is half marathons. It is a difficult distance, but achievable and very rewarding of me. I haven’t been counting but if I had to guess I would say I have done about 30 since I started running in 2007.  I also love NYRR and their 9+1 – I usually end up doing about 15-20 races throughout the year with the goal of getting guaranteed entry into the NYC Marathon.  I also like to do triathlons every now and again. I have done NYC Tri twice and few sprints!

I also do the 4/5 borough races to get guaranteed entry into the NYC Half Marathon in March (one of my FAVORITE races)!  I will write more about my experiences with this race and why it is my fav in the future!

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Pace/ Reasons I Run

NYC 2013 will be by 5th marathon!  Yay! I have improved more than I ever believed I could since I started running in 2007.   I used to run at about an 10:30/11 pace on a good day in 2008. I increased my marathon pace to an 8:45 pace and my half marathon pace to about an 8:30 in 2012. I was hoping to maintain this for NYC Marathon 2013.  However, due to my calf muscle injuries, I was slowed down toward the last month and half of training and digressed.  I think my body was ready for this race in August/September, but in actuality I didn’t rest my body enough for it to recover in between long runs and ended up getting injured.

I would say I am somewhere around a 9/9:30 now.  I try to remember when I am running now, how I would have LOVED to run a 9/9:30 pace when I first started running.

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I also try to remember why I started running in the first place: 1) I love the way I feel during and after a run, 2) I am doing something great for myself/being healthy and staying in good shape, 3) It is exciting and I feel free/limitless while doing it, 4) One day I won’t be able to do this anymore, 5) Many people can’t do this because their body can’t physically take it and many people endure much worse with disease/cancer treatments. If they can endure treatments and fight cancer, I can surely get through a marathon. 6) I run to be a better person. Running makes me think and running calms me. I come up with the best ideas when running and am able to process life.

I often forget these reasons when I am trying to get faster, push myself and attempting to maintain a fast pace that I think “I should be at”.  So sometimes I find it helpful to slow myself down, breathe in and out intentionally and remember these reasons.

Marathon Recap

Marathon #1: Rock ‘n’ Roll Phoenix: I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Phoenix Marathon in 2008 with Team In Training!

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It was my first marathon ever and my longest race before this was a half marathon.  Fast forward to race week … and I had bronchitis (booo) and the race was quite difficult for me to say the least.  I broke out a sweat within the first seconds. I luckily had my sister with me for it and pulled through. If I remember correctly, my official time was 5:55.  I figured if I could get through this marathon and was so sick, I could get through any of them in the future well trained, healthy and with determination!

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Marathon #2: Philadelphia Marathon: AWESOME! This was my first “feel good” marathon. The course was fast, flat and gorgeous. I loved running through Philly and the weather in November was perfect.  I remember killer knee pain came out of NO WHERE at around mile 22.  My knees have never hurt before when I was running or training and was so mad when the pain started!  I finished in 4:44 and was so proud of myself!

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Marathon #3 NYC Marathon 2010: I had a great time during this but was VERY slow. I was running for fun and trained myself and ran with my sister. I ran maybe  2 long runs (18 miles or so), but never built my mileage or did any strength training or hill/speed work. I thought I would be okay because I knew what I had to do at that point in marathon training.  It showed in my time.

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I finished in 5:05. It was very difficult for me after mile 18 and up until the finish. I struggled BIG TIME on 5th Avenue and had no clue what was in store for me. I just wanted it to be OVER.  I couldn’t rely on my training because it was slow and unpredictable – which turns out that was just how my race was.  I was happy to finish and had fun running through the boroughs, but I wish I trained better.

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(I deferred my NYC Marathon 2011 entry as it was Sparkly Soul’s first year at the NYC Marathon and for some reason I thought I could work 3 full days at the expo and then run a marathon.  I had trained myself not as awesomely as I hoped for that year.  Although I felt bad not running, I didn’t feel obligated to any spectacular training season or fundraising for a charity … so I deferred.  I watched in envy and vowed to never miss a NYC Marathon again and thought to myself that it was SO worth it to train for moments like these.

Marathon #4 Philadelphia Marathon 2012: In 2012, I became a mentor for American Cancer Society Team Determination. I was psyched.  The people were awesome, the coach (Ramon) was awesome (I trained with him in 2007/2008 with TNT), and the training plan was awesome.  I became faster and faster starting in May 2012 and ended up with an easy effort marathon pace of 8:45 right around when it was time to start tapering. My races throughout the season were all in and around the 8-8:45 minute pace!  I couldn’t believe it. I never planned on it because I didn’t think it was possible. But I was getting faster and faster than I was before.

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Right before this training season started, February/March 2012, I began strength training with a barre ballet studio, Physique 57. I put myself into the routine of going at least 5-6 days a week during pre- training and for training season. I also began Yin Yoga with Debra Downs once a week.  This gave me the opportunity to learn breathing techniques which carried over into my running.  It also stretched my muscles and aided my joints, which I never realized the importance of. (Until I didn’t have it… see 2013 below).  I also attended stretch class 1-2 times a week, which also really helped me slow down and recover.  The shorter Sunday races with NYRR also helped me increase my pace in the early part of the training season. I saw improvements that May just from running twice during the week and having my long runs on Saturday (10+ miles) and adding a 4-5 mile race or training run on Sunday.

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With the help of the ACS training plans and awesome workouts, my Garmin set at average lap pace (this was quite new to me before this training season), speed and hill workouts, Yin yoga, Physique 57 and stretching, I was faster than I ever thought I could be. And it showed in my times.

When the NYC Marathon was cancelled, we were all devastated.  My team and I were at our ACS pasta dinner when we found out.  I couldn’t believe it was cancelled – I thought for sure they didn’t cancel big marathons – especially the NYC Marathon. Since I was born and raised in Staten Island, I understood why they did it and whether it was the right or wrong decision is not for me to say.  But the spirit of the marathon was lost with the natural disaster and wouldn’t have been the same if it went on.  The marathon is about something great, your inner strength and the support of all the boroughs. Without that … it is not the NYC Marathon.

I immediately went into Plan B mode … what race could I do?!? I worried, continued my taper and freaked out a bit. When Philly so generously opened up spots to NYC Marathoners, I breathed a sigh of relief. I was in! I was going to see what I could do with the awesome training I had in me.  Philadelphia was my 2012 race!

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The race itself was my favorite one. Once again I had the flat, fast and awesome Philly course and I had the training.  I knew what to expect because I had done it before (which is always helpful and an advantage!) I felt great and up until mile 22 I was under a 9 minute mile, with most of the time at a steady 8:45.  I managed to finish at my exact time goal 3:50!  I had done it! I finished my first marathon in under 4 hours.

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I received the best advice that really stood out to me, the week before my race.  My coach was saying a lot of things but this one I heard loud and clear.  He said that it is going to hurt (I thought to myself duh its a marathon, everyone knows that), it just a matter of when and that you deal with the uncomfortableness.  Wait a second – it is a matter of REALLY understanding and processing that:  it … is … going … to … not … feel … good and you are not going to feel awesome anymore.  This time in Philly 2012 was different – as opposed to past marathons where I knew it but didn’t “know it” – when I started getting uncomfortable, I didn’t freak out with “oh my gosh it shouldn’t hurt this bad, I need to slow down”.  This time, it was more of “oh there you are uncomfortableness I knew this was coming” and I just tried to zone out into my run and the music and concentrate on getting through each mile. I like to watch the miles add up and then told myself that I only had a few more miles to go.

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Marathon #5: NYC Marathon 2013 (coming soon…)

This year I became a coach for the American Cancer Society Team Determination. I love it. I was able to still get in my own training and run with the team during coached sessions.  I was able to get to know some very awesome people! My season started out great building up to a few 16 mile Summer Street runs in a row and I had two 18 milers and one 20 miler.  Our team ran over all the bridges of the marathon so we know what to expect for NYCM day.  I ran the last 10 miles of the marathon course to remember why I hated 5th avenue so much.

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So I overall feel pretty prepared for the NYCM 2013 and prepared with the fact that it is going to hurt.  I find that the better trained I am, the farther into the marathon it “really” hurts.  ie. no training it hurts bad 18 miles until the end vs. good training it hurts around 22 maybe 23 until the end. BIG difference in my eyes.

I have the memories of the NYCM 2010 on 5th avenue that still get to me…I remember not wanting to keep running and just wanting it to end. But I try to tell myself that I am such a better runner now than I was then.  And that I am so ready for this – this training season was entirely too long for me. Maybe it was because last year was cancelled and I feel as if my “NYC Marathon goal” last year wasn’t accomplished. I feel that I have been mentally/physically “race ready” for  this race for a dragged out period now.

Triathlons! I have lots to say about my triathlon experiences! I will write a whole post on it soon!

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Running for a Reason

Over the years and this season, my ACS team has raised so much money to help ACS find a cure for cancer and have spent countless hours training in Central Park, over the bridges of the boroughs, trails and Riverside Park and the East River.  I am excited to see all our participants race on Sunday and finish strong.

We had a great season all together – we have been training for two seasons together, so I feel like everyone is just ready for it this year!

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It has been over a year in the making, but NYC I am ready for you!

Taper

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My taper has been great the last week. I started easing it up a few weeks back when my calf muscles really started to hurt me.  Like I couldn’t walk 100% without pain hurt. One calf muscle at first and then (after Staten Island half marathon) both and then the side of my foot.  I was like seriously…after all this you are hurting now???

I began going to Finishline Physical Therapy to see the awesome Michael Conlon for one calf muscle and then soon after the other.  He ensured me that I wasn’t damaging anything and that if hurt a bit and then let up, it was just tight and the muscles were warming up. I was okay to run. He gave me a bunch of stretches to do before and after.

I also bought a foam roller stick and some FANCY CEP compression socks (review coming soon!) from Jack Rabbit.  I at first bought the socks to wear before and after around the apartment for recovery. Then JP (my boyfriend) told me that most people wear them to run. OK “I’ll try it!” I thought.  At first it felt weird and I felt like a soccer player and thought I would try running with these for a long run. I wore them for Bronx and Staten Island and decided I would wear them for the marathon itself.

I also got back into my routine of Yin Yoga in the last 3 weeks before the marathon.  I kept thinking back to last year about what routine I was in, what was I eating, how is this year different and why am I injured? First I attributed it to starting training so early (June), never really giving myself a break from last year (training for half marathons all year round), or too many back to back weekends of longgggg run this year. I had been running 16+ miles on the weekends since the Summer Streets in August.  This had to take a toll on my body I thought.  Then I was thinking of other reasons.  I was doing the same training, with the same group, with the same strength training at Physique with the same diet and at the same weight.  What was happening?

Then it hit me – I was doing Yin at least once a week last year. It is the only thing I can think of that I was doing differently.  My breathing was off running, my recovery was horrendous and I was injured.  Could not giving my joints the attention they deserve really affect me this much? I wasn’t going to stick around to find out – to Yin it was!I went back to going twice a week to my favorite Yin teacher Debra Downs who teaches in NYC .

I also started going to  Chill Yoga at Exhale Spa and Stretch Class once/twice a week with my other fav Lindi at Physique 57.

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I immediately cut down my strength training to three times a week and kept up my cycling.  And really focused on just feeling better.  It felt like concrete bricks on both legs when I was running. When it hurt just walking to and from, I was worried and thought I would be in trouble for the marathon.  Now was the time to change my routine so I did.

I completed the Bronx race (with a bit of uncomfortableness – not my best run and I just wanted it to be over) then a few people on my team ran home to make up the 8 miles to make it an 18-miler.
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Staten Island Half Marathon was another tough one for me because I wanted to add on some miles, but knew I was still injured and a lot slower than usual.  I had a noticeable limp in the beginning of runs and I didn’t feel 100%.

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Staten Island is a hard race for me not “race” because I PR’d there last year with a 1:47 and was so proud of myself/excited. All year I waited to go back there (knowing it was weeks before NYCM) and PR again! I knew this wasn’t going to happen as the race approached with the way I was feeling.  I went there early to run 5 miles with JP before the half marathon knowing that I wouldn’t be able to race the half and just wanting to finish my last 18  miler.  The entire half marathon was a struggle. I felt like I had to work so much harder just to maintain a slower pace!  Ughhh, very annoying. Anyway – I finished with an average pace of 9:30, which I could live with.

Goal

My goal for this NYCM 2013 is to “embrace” the slower pace and enjoy everything around me.  It takes me a while to get into the flow, but I feel so awesome listening to music and going a slower/less effort pace then I do when I push it to try to maintain where I think I need to be. Isn’t that why I started running in the first place?

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One day I won’t be able to run (or run fast), but today is not that day. Another thing I think of when I am running is cancer patients and what they go through to fight their battle. I can surely deal with a bit of uncomfortableness.  I think of everyone who lost their battle to cancer and how unfair that is. I think of all those in my family I lost to cancer and how my opportunity to know them was cut short by this awful disease.  I think of all those ACS participants who are training for someone close to them they lost to cancer, some are even past cancer patients/survivors themselves, and I see how hard they train even when they are uncomfortable. Lastly I run because I can and because I trained hard for this race. My regimented schedule was for a reason. Those barre classes and not going out on a Friday night or not having that glass of wine (okay … extra glass of wine) was for a reason.  This is the reason and I am going to enjoy this race and get to the end … because I have worked hard for it.

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Tips

– Be sure to record yourself or have someone (or lots of people) record you a video at http://www.supportyourmarathoner.com/about – it is a virtual cheering section

– Don’t freak out. Treat it like a training run. Just get ready in your regular routine and treat it like you do any other race/training morning. You worked hard and know what 18 or 20 miles feels like.  After that get a second wind and push through the end. Think about why you run and you will get there.

– Slow down – this may be a “marathon” but take it all in before you hit the 20 mile mark and kinda black out into a running daze!

– Layer in the morning – it is cold. Then take everything off except long sleeve shirt and/or gloves for start.

– Smile pretty for the photographers. They are going to capture all your good and bad moments.  You would rather have your good photos to look back on in the future!

– If you listen to music, run with one ear phone out – you will want to hear, you will want to remember the crowd.  Take your music out when you need the crowd to push you. Put your music in when you want to dance and run to the music to motivate you. But be careful and I wouldn’t recommend wearing both headphones during the race because it is dangerous (lots of people and things going on around you) and secondly because you will miss all the fun and the crowd!

Expo

I went to the NYCM expo last night – it was AWESOME!  I can’t wait to write all about it and give you a recap!  When do you plan on going?  Let me know below.

Also don’t forget to stop by the Sparkly Soul booth for some sparkle!

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One thought on “Learning from the past! @FITNYCPamela’s Past Marathon Recaps & Goals/Tips for the @INGNYCMarathon! #ingnycm

  1. Hi Pamela…You are such an inspiration to me…really enjoy hearing your story!! I remember being with you in 2007 for the Big Brothers Big Sisters Running Event in NYC that Derek was part of and you were just beginning your running career at that time! You have come so far and are doing so awesome! So proud of you!! I too have become a runner but nothing like you. My husband, Bob, ran the NYC marathon 3 times and loved it…hoping to do one more and continues to say I will do it with him. BUT, I just can not see myself doing a full marathon…half marathons (Lehigh Valley one, which I love, we’ve done 4 times now)…but a full just seems impossible to me UNTIL of course I read and see how awesome you have done! I may just give it a try…the training however, seems very time consuming!! We’ll see!! I will be thinking of you on Sunday and waiting anxiously to hear how well you did!! Best of luck to you Pamela!! RUN HARD, BE STRONG, THINK BIG!! You go girl!!

    Debi Hewlett Saunders

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