Lehigh Valley Marathon Recap

Training for this marathon was an incredible experience as a Mother Runner. I really feel like it helped me bond with Frankie in a special way. I love the fact that now he asks to go for a run in the stroller. It helped us connect while he learned more about a sport that Mommy loves. And bonus for him, he got to spend time outside experiencing all  that Mother Nature brings- maybe even a brief bear encounter.

About 2 weeks after I finished the Superhero Half in May, I started contemplating signing up for a full marathon. I figured that since training for 13.1 had gone so well, I could push myself to attempt training for 26.2 while raising a toddler.  Some days it was really hard. I was tired. I was cranky. And some days Frankie was. But I’m really proud of the fact that I didn’t miss any runs. I had to modify the mileage sometimes, but otherwise I was able to complete the training plan I had created for myself (based on Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 1 plan). I will blog more about my training in a future post.

When I shared my goals with one of my mommy running friends, she mentioned she was doing the Lehigh Valley Marathon in PA and that I should consider doing it too. This small marathon with a descending course that starts in Allentown and ends in Easton is actually the second fastest marathon in the country, helping many runners qualify for Boston each year.  Since it’s less than 2 hours away from me, I thought it would be a convenient one to do.  I didn’t really know what sort of goal to give myself. The last time I ran a full, it was NYC in 2014 where I was recovering from ITB and had to deal with crazy wind on race day. I gave myself a range of 3:50-3:45 after feeling really great with the outcome of some of my long runs. Fast forward to late August and two weeks before the marathon, and the weather looked very promising. I told myself that that was my green light to try to run my best marathon and break 3:45. If I could do that then maybe I could start thinking about “chasing Boston” in the near future.

I booked a room at the Holiday Inn in Allentown and they were kind enough to give me a discount in exchange for my honest review on my blog. The location was great as it was less than 15 minutes away from the start, which took place at the Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown. My mom and Frankie were with us so we got a room with two Queen beds and requested a portable crib for Frankie. The room was clean and spacious enough for a quick one night stay for all of us.

Packet pick-up took place in Bethlehem at the Arts Quest Center, across from the SteelStacks. What an awesome place!  It used to be the old Bethlehem Steel plant and now is an event venue. It was so beautiful and just something completely unique. We arrived around 3pm and got my bib and swagbag and then walked around the old plant and took some photos. Then we headed to the hotel to check in. Once we arrived there, Frankie, my mom and I stayed in and rested. Frank decided to go out and explore a bit. He texted me saying he found a beer festival just a few blocks away. Definitely a fun thing to run into for my supportive spectator! I was a little sad that I couldn’t enjoy the festival but I was happy he had something fun to do!

We ventured out in the cool evening to find a place to eat and decided to check out an Italian place a few blocks away. It’s been a tradition for my past two marathons that I order gnocchi the night before, so that’s what I did. We finished dinner and headed back to the hotel to let Frankie run around in the lobby a bit before bedtime.  Unfortunately I did not sleep very well due to nerves (and Frankie being up late).

I woke up the next morning around 5am and got ready. The fridge didn’t seem to keep my food very cold, which I think led to some issues later. I brought a peanut butter sandwich and a smoothie and had those along with a cup of coffee.  I pinned my bib on, put my shoes on and left around 6:15 and was dropped off by Frank who said he’d see me at the half-way point with my mom and Frankie.

I waited around until the official start took place at 7:10am. I ran into another one of my running friends and we wished each other good luck. My Garmin decided to do a restart just as I needed to hit Start so it was off by 2 minutes. The first few miles had some big downhills and I tried to keep myself at a comfortable pace. It was very picturesque, with a cute covered bridge within the first 2 miles. I actually caught up to my friend and we ended up running most of the race together, until around mile 20 when I had to hold back.

I was feeling really great the first few miles, but I think it was around mile 8 that I started getting side stitches- which I never get! I ignored them and tried to keep focusing on running and the beautiful scenery.  We got to mile 12 and saw my family but my side stitches were pretty strong at this point. My stomach was hurting pretty badly and I thought maybe I should stop and try to use the bathroom. I told myself that I would try to keep going a couple more miles to see if the pain went away. I couldn’t figure out why this was happening. I had been hydrating the days before and was drinking water at every water station during the race. I was taking my salt tabs and my Honey Stingers like I had practiced. I immediately remembered the fridge was not very cold. Maybe that was it? Oh great, I thought. I have perfect running conditions, I trained so diligently and now I may not beat my goal. Maybe I’ll just try to break 4 hours, I thought.

I kept struggling through the next few miles but it was really nice to see my family again a few miles later. A few times I was tempted to run off into the woods, but I told myself, “You are tough. You are strong. You can push through this.”  So then we got to Mile 20. And it was rough. Really rough. We ran past a tiny abandoned cottage that looked like it should be in a fairytale.Then all of a sudden, I see Frank beaming at me and holding a sign that Frankie had made, “Go Julia! Frankie is napping but he sends artwork!” It was the perfect thing to hear and see to give me a little jolt of energy. At this point my friend was feeling great so he took off and I hung back. I knew I couldn’t speed up but I told myself that I would force myself to maintain my current pace. I got to mile 21, then mile 22, then mile 23, then mile 24. I was soo close. I really could do it. I looked at the time. “Wow, I really could get under 3:45 maybe,” I thought. Then it was mile 25 and it seemed to last forever. There was a windy right turn that we had to make just before the Finish Line. I was afraid to look at the time on the clock but I did anyway. It said 3:42-something which meant it was really 3:44-something since my watch was off by 2 minutes. My stomach was hurting so badly and I could feel so much tension in my face but I charged through the last yard, caught sight of my family cheering me on on the sidelines, and sprinted across the finish line with a pained look on my face. I looked at my watch and wasn’t sure if I did or didn’t break 3:45.

My legs were so cramped up at this point that I couldn’t even bend down to sit and rest. Frank found me and helped me down but it wasn’t long til I had to visit the porta-potty.  I wasn’t hungry or thirsty but I knew I needed some electrolytes. My father-in-law got me a beer and magically that brought me back to life a little bit. Frank looked up my time on the athlete tracking site and told me that it was 3:44:49- I had pulled it off!  We then headed to 3rd and Ferry Fish Market for a celebratory lunch where I enjoyed a much needed burger and beers. Bonus that they offered 10% off to the marathoners.

Overall it was a really nice Marathon- it’s small, scenic, with plenty of shade and well-organized. The fact that it benefits people with disabilities is also a big plus.

My quads were very beat up from all the downhill running and the miles done on a tow path. I rested for 4 days and then slowly started working out and running again. I have a 10K this Sunday and a Half Marathon on the 21st. I’m really hoping for new PRs in these distances too. I’ll keep you posted!

Xo,

Julia

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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

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 

Easy Treadmill Speedwork

Hello friends! Happy Tuesday. I have to admit, my running has been slacking the past 2 months or so, and except for the run we did while traveling in California last month, my mileage has been pretty nonextistent. 

Trail run in Sausalito, CA in February.

So what’s the best way to get out of a running slump? Signing up for a race! The hubby and I will be doing our local St Paddy’s 5K on Saturday. Obviously not aiming for any PRs, but just looking to get our groove back a little bit. I think that with Spring being right around the corner, I’ll be more motivated to get Frankie out in the BOB too!


Here’s a nice and easy speedwork workout I created. You can increase the easy and fast running if you’re training for a longer race.

Run 1/2 mile at a comfortable/easy pace. For me that was 8:30 pace.

Then alternate with a very easy jog for .2 mile (for me that was 9:31 pace), and then a sprint for .2 mile (for me that was 6:58 pace). Repeat for 2.5 miles (for a total of 3 miles).

Today I will be doing some barbell squats and core work and get back to running tomorrow.

Follow me on Instagram to see how I do on the 5K! @thepetitefastinista 


Xo,

Julia

One Year Blog Anniversary 

It’s been a year since I started this blog, mainly to keep myself motivated and accountable for staying active during my pregnancy. I don’t get a chance to post as often as I wish to but I really enjoy having this space to share with you about my life and workouts. 


This past weekend I ran my first post-pregnancy 5K. And boy did I surpass my expectations. I didn’t give myself a goal although I was secretly hoping to do it under 24 minutes…and I didn’t even wear my watch…I ended up running my second fastest 5K to date! According to my phone it was 23:15 but Strava said 22:45.

If you’ve been reading my posts you know I don’t get to run often- usually 2 mile runs on the treadmill or with Frankie in the stroller. I also have been coaching more CrossFit so I don’t get yo work out as often. I guess my takeaway is that LESS is more!

Another fun thing about the 5K is that I got to meet a new group of runners- the Asuncion Runners NJ. It’s a satellite branch of the Asuncion, Paraguay group that we’re a part of. We actually all walked away with awards! I got my first trophy ever 🙂


It might be too hot today to run with Frankie but I’m hoping to do my usual 2 miles on the treadmill while he naps and then a circuit workout once he’s awake.

Here’s an easy and simple equipment-free WOD:

15 AMRAP

10 burpees 

20 lunges

30 push-ups 

40 sit-ups 

50 mountain climbers

60 jumping jacks

Today also happens to be Frankie’s Half Birthday 🙂 And tomorrow is my birthday! Hop over to Instagram to see how we celebrate!


Cheers, 

Julia

Running happy 

I had back-to-back running days this weekend and loved it. I didn’t get a chance to do my once a week run last weekend so I was glad I was able to get these in. 

Saturday I did the same 5K loop I had done the past 2 times and shaved 2 minutes off my previous time (which was 30 minutes). I’m finally starting to feel like my old running self! 

   
I finished the run by doing a few sprints up and down my driveway. And can we just say how cute these leggings are? I got them from my local Athleta store recently.   
Later that afternoon, I did another workout:

1 round of

15 burpees

1 power clean (65#)

5 front squats (65#)

20 double unders

3 pull ups

3 toes to bar

Then, rounds 2-4 I did 15 deadlifts instead of the clean/squat movement. 

On Sunday, the hubby and I were supposed to go to CrossFit but overslept (thanks, daylight savings time!) so we went on a quick 25-minute run instead. The legs were feeling tired but I managed to make it through without any stopping 🙂

Today is my mom’s birthday, so there will be some indulging and I’ll probably take a rest day. 

Happy Monday to all! 😀