NYC Marathon Training Week #7 – Tuesday-Saturday

It was a busy week in Balser-land. And a hard one. I battled a sore throat most of the week as well as frustration. Running fast is hard work, y’all. That is all.

On Tuesday, I did a 45 minute Nike bootcamp in the morning. I really like these workouts, but I am wondering if I am not pushing myself as hard as I could with them. But how can I test that? I’m contemplating, actually, finding a trainer. Or a fitness group of some sort. I work out harder when someone is yelling at me. Fact.

On Wednesday, I needed to double up to get back on track after doing my long run on long weekend Monday instead of Sunday. The morning meant another 45 minute bootcamp. (The pool I swim at is undergoing renovations for three weeks, which means that’s not an option for a little while. Boot camps it is!)

On the way home from work, I had to do a fartlek-style run and run under 5:00 pace for 8 minutes, 6 minutes, 4 minutes, 4 minutes, 6 minutes, 8 minutes, with 60 seconds in between. This workout kicked my ass. I couldn’t find it in me to consistently run sub-5:00 and, towards the end, I almost quit. I don’t know if it was the doubling up, or residual fatigue from my long run or lack of motivation of what.

Here’s how that run went down:

8 minutes: 1.65k, 4:59 pace
6 minutes: 1.17k, 5:10 pace
4 minutes: 0.75k, 5:18 pace
4 minutes: 0.79k, 5:04 pace
6 minutes: 1.03k, 5:50 pace (I just bonked. I even walked for a bit to regroup.)
8 minutes: 1.5k, 5:20 pace

On Thursday, I had 3×1000 repeats in the morning. I cheated a bit and didn’t run these on a track: I ran them on the Waterfront Trail and hit a few red lights. I know this is cheating, but after the tough Wednesday workout, I think I would have cried some point in this run if I didn’t get stoplight breaks.

My splits were:


On Friday, my sore throat was a full-fledged fire in my mouth. Since I have a race on Sunday, I opted not to power through it (which, I admit, I felt guilty about all day.)

On Saturday, my guilt for abandoning my Friday workout meant I upped my shake-out run from 30 minutes to 45 minutes. My throat is better, I think it’ll be fine for race day. But the goal is sub-50:00 tomorrow. I don’t think I can do it: this week’s speed work wasn’t strong or consistent and I have a hard time maintaining 4:XX for any length of time that isn’t lapping around a track. But I’m going to go out there and do the best I can and not let the mental game beat me. That’s really what got me down this week, I think. I talked myself out of pushing hard, talked myself into quitting. I need to work on this.

Heh, work. The theme of the month. I can’t escape it.



NYC Marathon Training Week #7- Monday

Midway through this week, I will be halfway through my training. Crazy. Monday was the first day of September. I love September. I am excited for work to get busy again and have launches and events and awards and festivals and do so much that by the end of November, I want to fall over and die and wonder why I keep doing this. This is my work life cycle. My year has an arc and, after 4 years in the same job, I’ve come to thrive on it.

I am not looking forward to the mornings getting dark earlier, just as I’ve become (mostly) a master of the morning workout. I need to have faith. And confidence.

Each year, I’ve toyed with the idea of doing a word of the year. But a year is such a long time, so much can change, Priorities can shift. Earlier this year, I thought about doing a word of the month instead. I haven’t committed to it yet, but I think September is the time to try it out. So this morning I wrote a word on a post-it note and stuck it to my computer.


This applies to so many things. September is when my job picks up like crazy. My job is also at a pivotal moment, for my department, my company and myself. This would be a good year to work hard, focus, and figure out, exactly, what my job means to me and what I want out of it, bigger-picture-wise.

It also applies to fitness. I’m exactly halfway through my training and I’ve had a hard time staying motivated. I’ve also struggled with getting quality cross-training in these past few weeks. Now is the time to buckle down and put the work I need to do in to have a great race.

It’s also a good reminder for everything else. Summer is a time for delightful slacking, and I’m thankful for that. But things need to get done. Time to work on that.

On Monday, I did my long run. 22.1k in 2:35:30. As far as long runs go, it was of medium quality. It wasn’t as great as my long run in Halifax the week before. It could have been faster, more consistent. I could have been more focused.

It’s time to work on that.

NYC Marathon Training – the rest of week #6

Let’s catch up.

Wednesday was my birthday. No workouts as a present to meee! (I had actually planned to go to morning yoga, but when the alarm went off at 6am, I was like ‘screw this, it’s my birthday.’)

The next day, I thought I was on the ball. I brought extra clothes to work so I could run home Thursday and run to work again on Friday.

Then my Garmin went dead. And my computer didn’t have enough juice to charge it. So I ran home Thursday sans Garmin, guesstimating my pace based on effort. Then I ran to work on Friday, again based on effort. Both these runs felt okay. My legs are tired. But that seems par for the course for marathon training.

On Saturday, I did a 45 minute Nike app bootcamp. I’ve unlocked some fancy celebrity workouts, so I did 3 of those in a row (Paula Radcliffe, some surfer and some yogi).

On Sunday, I was supposed to run long. But it was so hot and so humid that I bailed. I went to the mall, bought a basketball, did a 60 minute solo shoot around and then signed up for a 4-on-4 ladies rec league. I haven’t played basketball in 10 years. I’m terrified. Come play with me so I am less terrified.

(I’m mostly terrified of being terrible. I had the same problem when I signed up for softball. I don’t like doing things I am not great at. And I used to be relatively great at basketball, if I exaggerate my past bball success. I need to get over this.)



NYC Marathon Training Weeks #5 & #6 – Wednesday-Tuesday

It’s been a week since I last blogged, but I have a good reason: I went to Nova Scotia for my cousin’s wedding and I didn’t take my laptop! Let’s catch up on the training:

Week #5 Wednesday: My coach says I need to get more hardcore about the cross-training. I know she’s right. I headed to Underpass Park and did a 45 minute Nike bootcamp for the first time this training cycle. I had a good time with this workout.

Week #5 Thursday: And I paid for it. I somehow threw my back out last week. It wasn’t one particular motion, but it felt gingerly all week long and on Thursday, it was the worst. I was supposed to do a hill workout in the morning (and then fly to NS in the afternoon), but it seemed like a bad idea, so I opted out.

Week #5 Friday: The back was still iffy this day, but after spending all morning walking around Halifax, it felt a lot better. Gentle motion seemed to help pain more than just rest. I decided to do an easy lap around Citadel Hill and see where my back was at. I felt strong enough to do the hill workouts, so I did 4 repeats of the walking path up Citadel Hill, and then felt relieved I could still get my training in.

Week #5 Saturday: Since the wedding was Saturday night, I wanted to get my long run in on Saturday morning. I took my time, but I enjoyed this 2 hour run through all my old haunts and also along a lot of the course from the Bluenose Marathon last year – my first.

Week #5 Sunday: This was rest or cross-training. It was also fly home from NS day and I wanted to see how my back handled being on a plane for 3 hours before I committed to a workout. It survived, but it’s still sensitive, so I took Sunday as a rest day.

Week #6 Monday: Back to work. Back still sore. Went for a bike ride during lunch, but kept it simple and short. 30 minutes all in. Hardly cross-training.

Week #6 Tuesday: In the morning, it was speedwork time. 4x800s at Riverdale Park. My splits were:


Which aren’t too bad. They are consistent, for sure. I think they could have been faster. But that’s what next time is for, right?

Then in the evening, I played softball. We lost. Our season is over.

Okay, back to real life and being on top of things like blogging and laundry and crosstraining.

I still haven’t unpacked, my house is a mess and it’s my birthday this week. But a long weekend is coming.

NYC Marathon Training Week #5 – Tuesday

Tuesday was one of those days were nothing went right and nothing felt right. I came home, headachy, tired and having screwed up my evening plans thanks to a last-minute work thing. But I forced myself out the door to get my run in. Then I forced myself to go be social as soon as my run was over.

I am glad I did both these things. Sometimes I need to take a step back and not think big picture or dwell on stress. If my run was bad, I could have stopped. If socializing was exhausting, I could just leave early. I forget these things sometimes. But the run was good. And the book club was engaging and satisfying, topped off with delicious food.

Usually, doing stuff ends up being the right decision. It was on Tuesday.

NYC Marathon Training Week #5 – Monday

How is it week #5 already?

I overslept on Monday, and had plans after work. I spent most of the morning convincing myself that I could do my cross-training after my plans. Then my co-worker went to the gym and I decided to say ‘screw it’ and go for a bike ride at lunch. Because I am almost always wearing gym shorts, a tank top and a sports bra on under my dress, preparing was easy. I had a pair of canvas shoes at work, too and boom: impromptu fitness outfit.

I biked to the Humber bridge and back, it was about 60 minutes all in. I pushed myself harder than I did on my bike ride on Sunday, I wanted to get my heart rate up. I’m still trying to master this cross-training thing, sometimes I feel like yoga/biking/swimming isn’t the right combination of stuff.

The bike ride was good. I liked breaking up my work day like that and didn’t mind making up the time at the end of the day. I need to do this more often.

NYC Marathon Training Week #4 – Sunday

Ah, Sunday. Because I did my long run Saturday night, this was a free day. Well, I had to do some cross-training. I biked Leslie Spit in the morning – almost the same path we took for Midsummer Night’s Run race the night before. The Spit is amazing, so pretty and peaceful. All in, I covered about 15km in an hour. I pushed enough to break a sweat but not enough to feel pained. I need to take my Garmin on my bike rides.

In the evening, I went to Kula live music flow with JK. It’s been good getting back into regular classes instead of self-practice. I push myself more. I focus more. I still hate all the church-like elements of it, but I like committing an hour to do something good for me.

NYC Marathon Training Week #4 – Saturday, A Midsummer Night’s Run

photo (13)
The TL;DR read recap: I crushed it.

The longer recap:

A Midsummer Night’s Run was back on the Spit this year, but with a few changes: we ran to Cherry, along the Martin Goodman trail, and then out on the Spit.

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 9.08.14 AM


I picked up my race kit around 10am and then went out for breakfast. My stomach wasn’t in love with this idea for the first few hours post-brunch, but it settled down eventually. I spent the rest of the day relaxing and freaking out. I ate again at 2pm (granola, fruit and yogurt) and again at 4:30 (bread, peanut butter and banana).

All day Saturday, it threatened to rain. And for the hour before the race, it did indeed rain. It eventually stopped, though – and then it didn’t rain again for the rest of the night, making it pretty excellent racing conditions. Because of the rain, I didn’t leave the house until 5:15, wanting to stay dry for as long as possible. I arrived at 5:30, stretched, walked around and used the bathroom one final time. Then I headed to the start – where I ran into my pal Ron. The start was CROWDED. Neither of us heard the starting horn. All of a sudden we were off!


I had a hard time jostling for position and getting my pace down, there were so many people and the course was so crowded. It got a little better on Commissioners, but there were a few road dividers that has us squeezed together. I ran as far outside as a I could in order to get closer to the 1:30 bunny, to get ahead of her. I had a race plan, but it all came down to beating the 1:30 bunny. Cherry was the same way – we only had one lane of traffic and it was barely enough. By kilometre 3, I had settled into a pace. There wasn’t any room to move, really, but I felt comfortable and there was enough space to breathe. I checked my watched every few minutes and as long as I saw 5:3X or 5:4X I wasn’t going to worry. 5:2X meant slow down. 5:5X meant speed up. Easy. I took water at the first station, but didn’t stop running. It was too early on the route, and a walking break wasn’t really safe, with the crowds.

Running along the Martin Goodman Trail had its pros and cons. It was so green and lush that it truly felt like running through a forest (“Through the forest I have gone..”) But it was, again, crowded. It was hard to dodge puddles or people taking walking breaks without bumping into another runner. The crowd opened up once we got out of the forest and on Unwin.


I ended up being paced by a woman from about kilometres 3-6. Or I paced her, I couldn’t tell. We ran side by side, silently, for about 15 minutes. I finally lost her at the second water station. I did stop this time, and spent an extra minute taking off my long-sleeved shirt. From here on out, the water stations were 3km apart, so I decided that I’d take my walk breaks then. I still felt good at the turn around, I could feel myself getting tired, but I could sustain the current place.

I like out and backs, because I like looking at all the runners, trying to find people I know and drawing strength from other runners.


At kilometre 10, I got a stitch in my side and my knee started to bug. It wasn’t quite pain, just a twinge cautioning me to slow down. Since this is the knee that gave me grief during the Ottawa marathon, I started to worry. I did slow down a bit. In fact, I took a wee walking break at the 11km mark, just before the final water station. But then the 30km winner was about to pass me, and I was asked to move to the side. He ran by me and I felt like a giant chump. I picked it up – and then saw the 1:25 bunny right ahead of me. She was within reach if I kept my pace. I took water at the last station, walked for a bit to drink it properly, and then decided I was going to pass the 1:25 bunny.

I passed her with 2k left.

I felt like I had it in me to pick it up, but there weren’t any road markers after the 13k marker, so I wasn’t entirely sure where I was. I decided to stick to my current pace and then just sprint to the finish line once we turned the corner. That last stretch lasted forever – it felt so much longer than I ever remember. We finally made it, I sprinted as hard as I could to the mat. My watch said 1:25:01. It felt possible I broke 1:25 with my official time – which was much faster than I expected.

Official time: 1:24:41.

This was my most consistent race, pacing wise, ever. And I PRed by 6 minutes, the last time I ran this race my time was 1:30 and change.

My splits:
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 9.28.16 AM

This race was excellent positive reinforcement, reminding me the importance of having realistic goals, a solid racing plan and how important it is to not go out too fast. I’ve really struggled with the mental game during this training cycle, trying to find purpose and positivity in running another marathon. This race was a step in the right direction.

NYC Marathon Week #4 – Friday

Today is the day before race day, so I had 4-5 easy kms on my schedule.

The satellite on my Garmin wouldn’t get going in the morning – I think the insanely cloudy weather we’ve been having was affected it. I needed to get going so I could get to work early enough to shower (having showers at the office is a life-changer), so I said ‘screw it’ and ran with just the timer. It felt good to be moving, but not pushing myself. My quads are a wreck these days, I’m a quad dominant runner and, oh boy, can I ever tell. My calves and hamstrings are fine, always are, probably always will be. (Masseuses are always perplexed by this.) The quads want a break. I’m nervous about Midsummer’s tomorrow, because I don’t feel race-ready. I feel tired. I’ve run this race twice before, 1:48 in 2011 and 1:30 in 2012. I’m hoping for sub-1:30, but my coach just wants to use this race to see where I am at.

I really hope I’m at sub-1:30. A 5:45 pace all the way through would be the best-case scenario.

NYC Marathon Training Week #4 – Thursday

The corner where the run began.

In an effort to be efficient, I decided that I would run home from work on Thursday and then run back to work on Friday morning, so I could bring everything I needed in one go and not have to walk to work – I could leave my bike at work overnight.

So that’s what I did. Since I was running home from work, that meant taking a route through the city, and not on a trail without stops. I was secretly glad for this, because I was supposed to do a 6k tempo run and get the last few kms under 5:00. I ended up stopping almost every kilmetre for red lights. I know this isn’t the best thing to be doing, but I was so dead by the end of this run, I don’t think I could have sustained that kind of pace without the breaks.

My splits were:

4:01 –>> DO NOT believe this. I think the downtown towers messed up my Garmin. I’d say this km and the km after it were both closed to 4:30s.
5:42 –>> I was SO DEAD by this km that even thinking about running fast overwhelmed me.

My training has been so speed-based that I’ve actually had very few runs where I just got to run. I miss that. I hate speed work so much.