My Half Marathon Comeback 

This may not be a huge deal for some people. Heck, there are running moms out there who run marathons right away after giving birth. For me it was a big deal because it was a long, long break from long distance running. I didn’t think I had time to train…I had to learn to MAKE time. And I had to train smart and make the most out of the minimal time I had.


If you had told me 2 months ago that I would be running a half marathon and crushing my last PR, I would’ve said, “Are you kidding me?!” I wasn’t sure I could train properly with my busy mom life. At first, I told my husband I wanted to just run the relay for the Superhero Half, a local company that puts together 5Ks and half marathons. We had, after all, been running this event for 5 years in a row now (last year I only did the relay though as I was only 5 ½ months PP) and I didn’t want to stop my streak.


I looked at the calendar and saw that I had just enough time to get some decent training in. During the week, I got my stroller miles in and did some strength training. I took it easy on my long runs on Sundays with the local group I run with, but then I slowly started to gather…confidence. I was already pretty fit and I truly believe in muscle memory, but it was the process of letting my self-confidence take over that allowed me to get faster in my runs, both with and without the stroller.

So then it was a couple of weeks before the Half, when I looked at my progress and realized I needed to reassess my goals. I was thinking that finally breaking 1:48 would be really nice. Maybe even to get to 1:45. And then I analyzed my Strava data from my last long run and saw that I ran it at the same pace I did that 1:48 Half marathon a couple of years ago. When my running friend, Massoud, said to me that I should run with the 1:45 pace group and then take off if I felt good, I thought, Hmm maybe I can…

We had incredibly beautiful weather that May morning. My husband ran the first part of the relay and stayed with me until his part was done. We stayed with the 1:45 pacers but then slowly got in front of them. Once I was on my own, I stayed well ahead of the pacers and could hear them saying remark that I was actually pacing them. I kicked it up a notch at mile 9 and felt like I was flying at mile 10. I had to dial it back a little bit because I didn’t want to empty my tank too soon. I was feeling extremely exhausted at mile 12.5 but I knew the Finish Line was so close so I maintained my speed and then went into my kick for the last few hundred yards. I glanced at the clock but felt like my vision was a little blurry. Did it really say 1:43? I stopped my watch as soon as I crossed the finish and accepted my finisher’s medal. I looked down at my watch and it said 1:43:33! It was an amazing feeling of accomplishment.


MoralS of the story, don’t think it’s too late to start something. Don’t think you’ve taken too much time off. Don’t listen to self-doubt. Run when you can, run happy and run strong. Whether it’s 17 months or 17 years post-partum 😉

Xo,

Julia

The Importance of Foam Rolling

As my half marathon approaches, I’m decreasing the intensity and length of my runs, and taking it easy with strength workouts as well. The main focus now is on rest and myofascial release massage (foam rolling). 


The roller helps limit soreness and tightness by increasing blood flow and flexibility. It also helps with mobility. Even though most people think of rolling before some workouts and after every workout, it’s also beneficial to roll on a rest day, which is what I’m doing. All this helps in the enjoyment of your training process and your recovery- not to mention injury prevention.

The denser your roller is, the more of an intense stretch/massage you’ll get. For daily use, I’d recommend a regular roller with a soft, even surface (like the blue one I’m using in the photos in this post). A tennis ball also makes a good alternative for a harder, more intense roll. 

Clients often ask me, What should I roll? Gently and slowly glide back and forth on different spots on your body- calves, quads, upper back, glutes, etc, focusing on areas where you feel tightness. 


If you have a specific painful spot, it is most likely due to imbalances in other areas of your body. Rolling directly on that spot won’t do you any good.  You should actually foam roll the peripheral areas. For example if your shoulders are feeling tight, roll your chest. If your knees are achy, roll your hips and calves. 

For a video on how to use a foam roller properly, check out Sarah Fit’s blog

How often do you roll? 

Xo,

Julia

Conquering some fears at the Jersey City Challenge 

Last Saturday, I woke up with almost no voice, not quite sure if I was going to be accomplishing what I had signed up for many months prior. I was supposed to do my first obstacle race, the Jersey City Challenge, but I was still getting over a cold and now had lost my voice. The hubby was sure I was going to say we should just chalk it up as a sunk cost, but I told him to give me til after breakfast. And so…I had my coffee and breakfast and said, Let’s do this!

I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel during the race. Would I start coughing and have to stop? I decided it was worth it to at least get there and see how far I could go. 

It was a chilly, rainy day as we arrived in Jersey City. We brought a backpack to check in (for $5) with a change of clothes and where we could leave our wallets and phones. That was a nice thing they offered and we didn’t mind spending a few extra dollars for it. The bib pick up was slow- surprisingly there was only one person trying to help everyone. Although they do highly suggest that people pick up their bibs ahead of time, that’s just not posible for some of us non-locals. Hopefully they realize this and make it easier for next time.

I had not intended to do this race for time. I didn’t even wear a watch. However, I knew that chances were high that I’d get stuck behind people in front of me so I made sure to sprint between obstacles to give myself the best workout I could.

The penalty for not completing an obstacle was 30 jumping squats. The obstacles included barricades, cargo nets, walls of different heights, and a pyramid that had to be climbed. There was also a reverse wall and a rope climb. Oh and we had to jump over a cop car and taxi cab. I chose going on top of the cop car- that felt pretty badass.


 Prior to running it, I was fearful that the walls were all going to be super high and that my fear of my heights would get the best of me and I’d had to skip some, but it turned out to not be the case. It must’ve been partly due to the adrenaline that I felt- I got through all just fine and was really proud of myself. I climbed the rope all the way up and rang the bell! I even got half way through the rings which were set up on monkey bars (and so I did my 15 penalty squats). Those were among my top two highlights of the race.


There were also other CrossFit-type obstacles like box jumps, kettlebell swings, sandbag carries, heavy jump ropes and bear crawls. The heavy jump ropes were super hard! There was also a balance beam and I ended up having to get help from the City Challenge Staff because it was super tricky. I think that if I took my time and didn’t rush through it, I could’ve done it a little better. 


So my lack of voice or any other doubts or discomforts didn’t hinder me. Would I do this event again? I think if a group of my friends wanted to do it, I definitely would again. A bonus was that there was no gross mud involved. After all, their motto is, “Think outside the mud!” It’s one of those things that you do for the experience. To test your strength and your fears. To have fun! It was not something I cared to do for time.  I’ll leave that to my running races. 


Xo, 

Julia 

Stroller runs are fun!

I’ve been taking Frankie out on the stroller the past few weeks and it’s going great so far. I was nervous that he would start complaining after just a mile or 2 but we’ve done up to 4 miles so far. Success! 


It has been really fun going out and spending time outside with Frankie. Sometimes we run to the park which we are so fortunate to have so many in our vicinity in Morris County.

I remember how hard it felt to push the stroller last year when I would run with him occasionally. Umm and it’s only gotten harder now that he’s 25+ pounds! I’ve been looking on Instagram and online for bloggers who may be training for runs with a stroller but haven’t been very successful. If you are one and I missed you, please comment and let’s connect! I feel like I’m going sooo slow in the BOB, so it’s hard to gauge how I would do in a race.


Speaking of which, I’m doing my first 2017 5K this Sunday (after skipping out on one due to super cold weather last month). And I’m contemplating doing a Half next month. I know I can do a half but the competitor in me wants to test my speed first before I commit. 


Have you trained for a race while racking up miles in a stroller? I’ll take any tips! 🙂 

Xoxo,

Julia