It’s that time of year: sprint triathlon training. Ever since I got bit by the multi-sport bug in 2011, my summers have been a mélange of cross-training activities. This year is no different: swimming and biking and running, oh my!
I got a later start than usual this year. I’ll blame it on the long, cold winter. But I know myself and know that the best way to get me to train is to sign up for something. So that’s what I did. I now have two triathlons on my calendar: the Newport Naval Station Triathlon in Newport, Rhode Island on Sunday, July 27 and the Triathlon Valleyfield in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Québec on Sunday, August 24.
Swimming in a friend’s pool (RunKarlaRun.com)
Sprint Triathlon Training
I’m two weeks into training, and I’ve managed to ride my bike three times and swim three times. One of my swims was in open water, which is a must for me before any open water race like the tri in Newport.
Since I’ve just started biking and swimming, my goal for the Newport Naval Station Triathlon is just to survive the 1/3 mile swim, 10.5-mile bike and 3.1-mile run. Read the rest of this entry →
WorkoutLabs compensated me for the time it took me to test their product, write about it, and share it on this blog. Compensation I receive from any company is not compensation for my good opinion. Consider this an advertorial where I have complete editorial control.
I travel a lot. And while I do my best to squeeze in runs wherever I go, sometimes I’m traveling in an area or at a time when I don’t feel safe running alone; can’t stomach the tiny, windowless gym in the hotel basement; or might not have access to a gym at all.
I’m also a fan of calisthenic workouts. I’ll often roll-out my mat in front of the TV to squeeze in 30 minutes of exercises while I watch an old Friends or Seinfeld episode. But my rotation of exercises often gets stale, and I’m constantly losing the pages of exercises I’ve clipped from magazines over the years.
The concept is simple—a deck of cards, the size and shape of playing cards, depict an exercise or stretch per card. Each deck has 40 exercises that don’t require any equipment, nine stretches and five workouts plus a stretching routine. A blank exercise card and workout card are also included, so you can create your own favorite routine among the included exercises or add an exercise of your own. Read the rest of this entry →
So you didn’t get into the 2014 Nike Women’s Half Marathon SF? If you want to be one of the 25,000 runners at the start on October 19, you still can. Charity bibs are available with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training (TNT), the series’ major beneficiary.
A TNT runner. (Photo courtesy of Team in Training)
Since the first Nike Women’s Marathon in 2004, Team in Training participants have raised more than $147.9 million in Nike Women Series events, helping The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) fund research to advance lifesaving blood cancer treatments.
Through its 25th anniversary last year, TNT had trained more than 600,000 participants and raised more than $1.4 billion for LLS.
If you want to run the Nike Women’s Half Marathon SF with TNT, you’ll be asked to raise funds in exchange for your spot in the race. You’ll also train with TNT coaches for four months, receive access to clinics on nutrition and injury prevention, and race past San Francisco’s iconic sites.
Nike has yet to reveal the 2014 course. Previous editions started at Union Square in San Francisco and finished on the Great Highway at Ocean Beach, travelling along the San Francisco Bay with views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. Read the rest of this entry →
Greetings from Boston College! I’m in my dorm room (yes, dorm room!) at the Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon & Festival as part of the official blogging crew (Runner’s World is covering my race entries, dorm room and some meals).
The weekend has been packed with activities. I’ve been to Q&A’s with Paralympian Sarah Reinertsen and Olympian Shalane Flanagan. I watched the Saucony and Runner’s World film Finding Strong, and hit the expo to pick up my race bibs, among other things.
Sarah Reinertsen talks about life as a parathlete. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)
Tomorrow I’ll toe the line in the Runner’s World 5K as a shakeout run for the Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon on Sunday.
In two weeks from today I’ll be at the start of the Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Half in Newton, Mass. The race will be my third half marathon in 2014, but my first attempt at a sub 2 hour half marathon this year. My current half marathon personal best stands at 2:00:30 from the 2012 Staten Island Half. Breaking “2” is the one running goal that has eluded me time and time again. It has become my Everest.
On Saturday, I finished my last long run before the big race. I ran 12.15 miles total, with 10 of them in Central Park’s rolling hills at a 9:40 pace overall. My goal half marathon pace is 9:00, which would bring me in at 1:58. A sub 2 hour half marathon pace is 9:10. I’m absolutely within striking distance.
I don’t like that I had two 10:13 miles as I climbed one of Central Park’s steepest hills twice during miles one and five. But I like that I was at least consistent over said hill. And I love that my last mile was my fastest.
My goals for the race are:
A) Run a sub 2 hour half marathon
B) Run a personal record, which means besting 2:00:30
C) Run as hard as I can, whatever time that means
My “A” goal is a sub 2 hour finish! (Photo: morgueFile)
I know I have the speed in me to finally break 2 hours. I’m much faster than when I set my current half-marathon PR. My long runs have been consistently 30 to 40 seconds faster per mile than they were in fall 2012. And I’ve since lowered my 5K and 10 PRs by two minutes and three minutes, respectively.
But I’m just not sure I have the endurance I’d like to have at this point in the season. Going into the Staten Island Half, my longest run was a 16-miler since I was in the middle of marathon training. Going into this race, my longest run was yesterday’s 12.15-miler, with just 10 of them at speed. The other 2.15 miles were an easy warm-up and cool down. Do I have 13.1 fast miles in me? That remains to be seen. Read the rest of this entry →
The New York Harrier men (inlcuding my fist-pumping husband) are ready to cheer on the Harrier women at the 2011 NYRR Team Championships. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)
I stared down the track in front of me. I’d already run a 1600, two 800s and four 400s at an all-out pace. Now just one more 800 stood between me and the end of the workout. I didn’t know how to run faster. But that was the task before me.
“Group 4, you’re up!” my coach yelled.
“Why do we have to run another 800?” someone moaned.
“Because it mentally prepares you to run hard, even when you’re tired,” he said. “All right, this is all-out. This should hurt. Group 4, go!”
I had a cramp in my left foot, a stitch in my right side, and I still hadn’t caught my breath from the last interval. Everything in me wanted to quit.
But I took one look at the rest of the runners in my group, and I thought, “I can do this.”
Over the years, team speed workouts have become my favorite part of half-marathon and marathon training. There are so many reasons to train with a friend or a team. Camaraderie, accountability and encouragement are some of them. But my favorite reason to show up to team speed workouts is that I like to run with the fast crowd. It’s inspirational, motivational and encourages me to push myself harder than I ever would on my own. Read the rest of this entry →
Seven years ago to the day, I toed the line in my very first race. My raceiversary reminds me how far I’ve come: from a totally clueless newbie in cotton socks to an intermediate runner with seven marathons under my race belt. Running beginners, take heart.
On April 29, 2007, I remember being incredibly nervous as I readied for my first race ever, with 5,720 other runners lining up in New York City’s Central Park. I’d being running casually for two years already, so I’d run those hills countless times. But I still didn’t know what to expect from a “race.” It was New York Road Runners’ Run as One TGL Classic. I pushed myself as hard as I could and finished the 4-miler in 46:19 at an 11:34 pace.
Seven years later, I’m amazed by how far I’ve come. My 4-mile personal best is 34:38 at an 8:40 pace. I clawed my way from the back of the pack to the middle to the front of the middle. My half-marathon personal best is 19:18 faster than the national median time of 2:19:48 for women.
And I’m still getting faster.
I hear from running beginners a lot. Having started running from scratch after battling a bone tumor in my leg for a decade, I know what it’s like to hit the pavement and be instantly out of breath. But I also know that by sticking with it, I just kept getting better and running just kept getting easier.
So I thought I’d share some cold, hard stats about just how far I’ve come as a runner. Here’s a comparison between my race times from 2007 and now. The moral of the story: If I can do it, anyone can.
My first 1 miler at the Norway Run. (Photo: brightroom)
Inspiration For Running Beginners
My first race, April 29, 2007
4 miles then: 46:19 at 11:34 pace
4 miles now: 34:38 at 8:40 pace
At a 2013 track workout
My first 3-miler/5K, May 22, 2007
3 miles then: 32:17 at 10:45 pace
3 miles now: 23:22 at 7:47 pace
At the 2013 Wild Dog Triathlon
My first 10K, June 9, 2007
6.2 miles then: 1:11:20 at 11:30 pace
6.2 miles now: 54:09 at 8:44 pace
At a 2013 track workout
My first 1-miler, October 6, 2007
1.7 miles then: 16:14 at 9:32 pace
1 mile now: 6:46 at 6:46 pace
At the 2011 Fifth Avenue Mile (I haven’t raced a mile since then!)
Crossing the finish line of my first marathon. (Photo: brightroom)
My first marathon, November 4, 2007
26.2 miles then: 5:54:25 at 13:31 pace
26.2 miles now: 4:28:06 at 10:14 pace
On April 21, he did it again by becoming the first American Boston Marathon winner in 30 years. Even more amazing? He won at the age of 38 and in personal record time of 2:08:37.
Keflezighi is without question the U.S.’s best distance runner on the roads today. With an Olympic marathon silver medal and New York City and Boston Marathon titles to his name, he enters an elite group of American runners known as “the greatest.” Even Frank Shorter, the 1972 Olympic marathon gold medalist and 1976 Olympic marathon silver medalist, said it during the Boston Marathon wrap-up show on Universal Sports: “If there is a club, welcome to it!”
But we mere mortals can learn a thing or two from Marathon Meb. Here’s what comes to mind.
Meb Keflezighi at the 2013 New York City Marathon. (Photo: ccho/Flickr)
1) The big 30 isn’t old. Neither, it seems, is 40.
So many people think the end is nigh once your age no longer begins with a “2.” I’m as guilty as the next runner, wringing my hands at what feels like the inevitable decline now that my age starts with a “3.”
So it’s refreshing and inspiring to see a runner like Meb, just two weeks from his 39th birthday, becoming the Boston Marathon winner, running not just the best time of his life, but the best time in a field of younger guys.
Lesson? You’re only as old as you think you are. Being young at heart pays and, yes, 40 is the new 30.
2) Being the fastest runner doesn’t always matter. But being the smartest does.
Meb Keflezighi is rarely the fastest man in the field. In the 2014 Boston Marathon, no fewer than 14 men had personal best times speedier than Meb, some fully 5 minutes quicker. Read the rest of this entry →
Last week, I popped over to Niketown in New York City to try a pair of the new Nike Free 3.0 Flyknit running shoes. They’re an update to the Nike Free 3.0, a shoe that previously did not have a Flyknit upper. Nike gave me the shoes to keep and a spot in one of the Nike Free Stride treadmill sessions taking place at Niketown in New York City.
I’m warming up in the Nike Free 3.0 Flyknit shoes. (Photo: Nike)
The 32-minute Nike Free Stride workout focused on curating a more efficient and natural stride in the Nike Free 3.0 Flyknit shoes. A gentle warm-up and mini-stride clinic preceded a butt-kicking hill interval workout, as a DJ pumped throwback jams into the multi-story atrium of Niketown.
I’m not usually one for exercising on a stage while shoppers watch, but I was curious to try the shoes.
Nike had previously given me a pair of Nike Free Flyknit+ shoes, which came out in summer 2013. They were similar to the Nike Free 5.0, but with a Flyknit upper. I ended up not reviewing them and not including them in my Holiday Gift Guide for one simple reason: I didn’t love them.
I found them too tight around the ankle, to the point of being constrictive. Another runner I know even cut his Flyknits to reduce pressure on his Achilles tendon. While I like my shoes to fit well, I like my laces tied loosely. With no functional laces, the Flyknits are more like a supportive sock. With a tight top, they just weren’t the shoes for me.
That’s me giving the Nike Free 3.0 Flyknits a try. (Photo: Nike)
So I’m happy to report that the Nike Free 3.0 Flyknit running shoes have a much more comfortable fit in this newest version of the Flyknit upper.
Altogether, Nike made three major changes to the 2014 Nike Free 3.0 Flyknit from the previous versions of both the Free 3.0 and Free Flyknit. Read the rest of this entry →
Finishing Run For The Parks in Central Park. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)
Regular readers know I host On The Run, New York Road Runners’ Web and TV show about running. It’s a job I genuinely love that has one flaw: I don’t get to run any of the races I cover for the show. It’s OK. I’ve run most of NYRR’s major events in the past: TCS New York City Marathon, NYC Half, Brooklyn Half, Staten Island Half, Fifth Avenue Mile, the list goes on.
Thankfully, NYRR puts on dozens of other races throughout the year. I’ve done a New York Road Runner’s 4-mile run in April every year since 2007, except 2012. It’s traditionally my first fitness test of the year. Basically, this one is my annual wake-up call.
Stretching in Central Park after my 6-miler on Saturday. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)
First, I’m lucky to call Central Park home turf. The day before the race, I logged 6 miles, much of them through the park. After a winter of hiding out on the treadmill and running errands on the city streets, Central Park kicked my butt. It’s both an unusually beautiful and challenging place to run.
My splits at this race were a case in point. Mile 1 is uphill and (and pretty crowded): I ran 9:20. Slow for me. Too slow. Mile 2 is mostly flat: I ran 8:39. Mile 3 is a series of three hills: I ran 9:01. Mile 4 is largely downhill: I ran 8:35. Read the rest of this entry →
The view from my room at the Karl Schranz Hotel. (Photo: Cara Morgan)
Sparkling snow, pine tree tunnels and glimpses of blue sky awaited me on the Verwall Trail in Sankt Anton am Arlberg, Austria. St. Anton is known around the world for its lively apres ski scene. But I was delighted to discover that the town is home to a large network of walking and cross-country skiing trails that snake through its corner of the Austrian Alps in the state of Tyrol.
I was staying at the Karl Schranz Hotel, a lovely inn owned by the famous Austrian Apline skier. If I’d never heard of Schranz before I reached Austria, townsfolk made certain I left knowing of his World Championship titles. But I’m no Alpine skier. So I was excited to see what else the Austrian Alps had to offer.
But I cursed silently to myself when I discovered that I’d forgotten to pack my Yaktrax, traction devices that slip onto shoes for running on snow and ice. But that wasn’t going to stop me from getting in at least one trail run in this winter wonderland. Luckily, there was a trail close to my hotel.
About a quarter of a mile up a steep road was the beginning of the Verwall Trail that winds through Verwall Valley. I knew I’d found the trailhead when I found this sign: Loipen und Winterwanderwege, which translates ski trails and winter trails.
The trailhead sign. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)
The loipen or cross-country ski trails, with their own magnificent entrance, ran beside the walking and running trails. Read the rest of this entry →
But I had yet to decide if I would use the race as a sub-2 hour half-marathon personal record attempt or a training run for a PR attempt later in the spring.
This is how I felt after the Newport Liberty Half Marathon. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)
Well, I’ve decided.
While the runs I’ve been doing indicate that I am in or near PR shape, I haven’t put in the mileage I’d like to. Rather than have another crash and burn attempt, like my run at the DirectEdge Newport Liberty Half Marathon in the fall, I’d rather keep training, get my mileage up and use the race as a hilly, long run. Then I’ll target another race in April or early May as my big PR attempt.
1) It took me longer to get over jet lag than I would have liked. It was a 6-hour time difference and took me four full days to adjust to the point where I didn’t want to take a nap every moment of every day. Jerusalem is a 7-hour time difference and I’ll have been there for three days before I toe the line. I don’t want to get my heart set on a PR when my body will likely be dazed and confused. Unfortunately, I’m just one of those people who needs lots of sleep.
This trail through the Apls proved slippery for running without traction. (Photo: RunKarlaRun)
2) I meant to run every day on my trip. I really did. But I forgot to pack my Yaktrax. Crucial mistake. In the Austrian ski town of Sankt Anton am Arlberg, where I spent most of the trip, the roads weren’t even remotely safe for running—no shoulder, no sidewalk, steep inclines covered in ice, blind turns, and ski buses speeding by.
Trails abounded, but they were covered in packed snow and ice. I went for one run on a gorgeous trail intended precisely for walking and running, but it was so icy it took me 80 minutes to cover 4.5 miles. After nearly wiping out three times, I realized baby steps were the only way I’d get through the run.
But I cross-trained galore throwing in curling, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, downhill skiing and swimming at my hotel pool.
3) I came home from the trip with a mystery pain under the ball of my left foot. I don’t notice it at all while walking. But it was bad enough that I curtailed my first run at home after just a mile and hopped on the bike instead. I did three more runs of increasing mileage, but still felt the pain lurking, especially on the road more so than the treadmill. I’m guessing I bruised a bone or something. I’ve been babying it in case it’s something more serious. Read the rest of this entry →
I thought this would be the perfect time to share an essay I wrote back in August 2007 called “I’ve Got Peace Like a River.” I was one month into training for my first marathon—the New York City Marathon—and at the end of a religion reporting fellowship. I’d spent the previous eight months immersing myself in the world of belief, traveling to India and across the U.S. to uncover stories of faith.
Near the end of the fellowship, my colleagues and I went on retreat at an Anglican monastery that observes complete silence for 12 hours every day, from 8:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. It was a unique experience to play Scrabble in silence and eat breakfast at communal tables in quietude.
But it gave me a chance for reflection; I think that was the point. In the stillness, I found that running, rowing, and swimming—the exercise of my life—have been the conduits of my own spirituality.
I’ve Got Peace Like a River
A tree on the Hudson River. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)
Floating. The sun stares down, turning the inside of my eyelids red. The water feels warm, but a cold current tickles my fingers, rolling over them in tiny waves. My arms above my head, my toes pointed, I stretch as long as I can, tensing all my muscles, then relaxing. Little splashes of water wash over my face as the wake of a boat crosses the river toward me.
I float downstream. I am all alone. Just me and my river.
The Hudson runs past my home in Manhattan. But here, at the Holy Cross Monastery in upstate New York, it’s a retreat. A retreat from my work-a-day world into the inner sanctum of my own being. Read the rest of this entry →
The Jerusalem Marathon and Half Marathon. (Photo: Nati Shohat/Flash90-IsrealTourism/Flickr)
In exactly seven weeks from today, I’ll be on the starting line of the Jerusalem Half Marathon as part of a press trip sponsored by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism in cooperation with El Al Airlines. Last week, I wrote about how meaningful this race will be for me. Now, it’s time to dive back into my half marathon training plan.
After the Walt Disney World Half Marathon on Saturday, January 11, which marked the end of my 46-day running streak, I took two weeks off from running. My body needed it. I did run once during that time: On Saturday, January 18 to participate in Meg’s Miles, honoring a runner killed by a drunk driver and raising awareness for runner safety.
Come Saturday, January 25, it was time to ease back into training. The Jerusalem Marathon and Half Marathon is an odd duck in the running world in that it’s on a Friday. So my new training schedule is Saturday to Friday, instead of the usual Monday to Sunday. I’ve got an eight-week half marathon training plan mapped out and am happy to say that Week 1 is successfully behind me.
We’re nearly a week into 2014 and my first three races of the year—the Disney Family Fun Run 5K, Walt Disney World 10K and Walt Disney World Half Marathon—are already upon us.
I guess it’s finally time to write down my running goals for 2014.
When I look at them, one thing comes to mind: I’m a Maverick. I want to go faster. In 2013, I made the realization I’m a Speed Demon, not an Endurance Monster. I love speed workouts. I hate long runs. I run a 6:46 mile, but have struggled to break 2 hours in the half-marathon. Speed, not distance, has been good to me. So I’m giving into that for 2014.
But let’s see how I did on my 2013 goals, first.
Running Goals For 2013
1. Get even faster
SUCCESS! I make this goal every year because it works for me. Last year I wrote: “In 2013, I’m going to try to knock out a 5K and 10K PR.” Done and done. I knocked out the following personal records in 2013: Read the rest of this entry →
I’m not the fastest runner and I’m not the slowest, but I am a running nerd. A journalist by trade, I love to research, read, learn and cogitate. So stick with me. Like all good nerds, I’ll do the homework and share it. But the running is up to you!