Training was going swimmingly with four solid weeks of outstanding runs, including a weekly tempo run and fartlek workout, as I outlined in my Running New Year’s Resolutions for 2015. I started working toward those goals early.
We’re now one week into 2015, which means I should set some running New Year’s resolutions!
I wrote 10 Running Goals You Should Make for 2015 for SHAPE.com, a collection of resolutions that will make you a healthier and happier runner. Some of them I’m already good at doing, like “Work Hard, Play Hard“—pairing hard-lined PR goals with ones that are more fun, like taking a runcation. Others, I need to work on, like “Prioritize Injury Prevention“—I could certainly be better about dynamic warm-ups, strength training, rolling, and other preventative measures.
So here’s a look at how I did with my personal goals in 2014 and how I’m going to tweak them for 2015. As always, I want to build on my successes and learn from my failures.
New Year’s Resolutions For 2014 Analyzed and Tweaked For 2015
Chasing Cinderella (Phil Hospod)
1) 2014: Get even faster
I make this goal every year. I finished my very first race, a 4-miler, at an 11:34 pace. Now, almost eight years later, I run a 5K at a 7:59 pace. I’ve gotten much faster over the years. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that.
How’d I do in 2014? So-so at this one. I nabbed three PRs: 8K/5-mile road, 10K road, and ITU Sprint Distance Triathlon.
Why do I say that’s so-so? I still have 8K and 10K track times that are faster. The IAAF and USATF log track and road records separately, so I do too. That said, track records tend to be faster than road ones. The track is a nice flat, predictable surface. The road is not. My 8K PR was set on a hot, muggy day whereas the track PR was on a nice, cool fall day. So I’ll take it. Same with my 10K PR. I set it during the same fall track workout as my 8K, whereas my new road PR was the first half of the hilly Staten Island Half Marathon. So, all in all, I’m happy with both of those.
As for my triathlon PR, I was deliriously happy with that. It was the second time I’ve raced an ITU Sprint Distance course and I walloped my swim, bike, and run times. OK, so maybe I did get faster in 2014.
2015: Run tempos
This year, rather than focusing on PRs, I’m going to focus on faster overall paces in targeted workouts. I’m excellent at the easy run, and those will remain just that—easy. But what I’m not great at are tempo runs. I don’t do them, and it reflects in my racing. So for 2015 my “Get even faster” will be dedicated to hitting those tempo paces, which will hopefully pay off on race day. Read the rest of this entry →
Greetings from sunny California! I’m here for a New Year’s runcation, and so far, I’m cleaning up. I’ve logged 11.5 miles in two mornings. But today’s run was the best: a Los Angeles Griffith Park run to the Hollywood Sign in the Hollywood Hills.
Space Shuttle Endeavor
I arrived late Monday night and awoke to a cold, rainy day on Tuesday. What to do in LA on a rainy day? I visited with a dear friend and her kids at the California Science Center, where we saw the Space Shuttle Endeavor.
Endeavour’s tail (RunKarlaRun.com)
It was pretty incredibly to see this beast up close and personal. The tones and textures of the tile and thermal blankets that line the shuttle are so interesting in person. We had a great time at the museum.
Griffith Park Run To The Hollywood Sign
This morning, I awoke to sunrise looking over the Hollywood Hills from The Line Hotel in LA (my husband, Phil, works for the company that owns the hotel). The rain cleared away any trace of the city’s famous smog, leaving a glorious, clear sky. This was one of those clear days where you really can see forever.
Hello Hollywood! (Phil Hospod)
So Phil and I hopped in our rental car and headed for a run in the city’s sprawling Griffith Park, a 4,310-acre oasis in the Santa Monica Mountains and home to the famous Hollywood Sign. (Yup, it’s five times the size of New York City’s Central Park). Read the rest of this entry →
Running in some of my favorite gear of the year. (Phil Hospod)
Christmas is right around the corner and New Year’s isn’t far behind. Putting together a wish list for your running resolutions? Still need a gift? Here is my favorite running gear of 2014.
The products on this list are the best clothes, gadgets and running gear that I’ve tried this year. There are more than 50 items from more than 25 brands. For every item here, I’ve sampled another two or three things that didn’t make the cut, including products in every category. Companies send me loads of samples, many unsolicited, and I often receive products in swag bags at races and events. So I didn’t buy anything you see here. I also don’t keep most of what I receive.
But if it’s on this list, I officially own it and love it—I don’t list anything I haven’t used myself. In clothing, I’ve tried the women’s versions, but many come in men’s options too. And I’ve included the list prices, though you’ll find many items for less than that.
Also, if it’s been in a past gift or gear guide of mine, I didn’t include it here. But many of the products I highlighted in the days of yore are still available. So here are my gift guides from 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2009.
Bia is a new two-piece device consisting of an ultra-light, slim wrist piece paired with a GPS “Go Stick” that clips onto your top, waist-band, visor or anywhere else you want to wear it. The Go Stick is the brains of the operation with an SOS safety alert, fast-connecting GPS, automatic uploads to your training log, and multi-sport functionality.
Run, swim, bike or do all three in one workout. And with live tracking, your friends and family can follow you on race-day or when you’re along in a remote area. I tested it while I ran the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco, and it worked wonderfully. Best of all, Bia comes in six fun colors. I have it in purple. Stay tuned for my full review.
Are you looking for a small, simple, and streamlined GPS watch? Look no further than Timex Run x20. In three bright colors plus basic black, this watch is the antidote to the big, bulky, expensive GPS watch with features you never use.
Instead, you get the features you really need: reliable GPS workout timing with speed, pace, and distance; run/walk timer; interval timer; stopwatch; automated pace alerts; night-light; alarm; and water resistance up to 50 meters. The interface and menus are supremely easy to use. Plus, it’s really easy on the eyes.
The Nike+ Fuelband SE is the first fitness tracker that I’ve tried, so I have no basis for comparison. That said, I love it (and I’ve tried a few other watches and gadgets this year that I can’t say the same about).
I work from home, so I don’t take nearly as many steps in my daily “commute” as most folks. In other words, if I’m not running, I barely move from my desk chair. Wearing the Nike+ Fuelband has shown me just how little activity I really have in a day unless I make a conscious effort to get up and move more. Thankfully, the Fuelband reminds me when to move, tracking my steps, Fuelband “points,” calories, and more. It’s motivated me to make my days more active outside of my workouts. That’s a win!
Headphones made for women, by women in five fun colors and two styles—clips or buds. With three different ear cushion sizes to choose from, Koss FitClips fit my ears perfectly and stay put during sweaty runs. The FitBuds do too. Plus, they’re comfortable. I barely notice they’re there, even the around-the-ear clips. And they’re super light too. Once I got these, I handed my old black and red headphones to my husband with a, “Here. You can have these.” FitClips are it for me now! Read the rest of this entry →
Winter is here and it can be hard to stay motivated on cold, snowy, dark-too-early days. But in the last few years, I’ve found that winter is one of my favorite times to train. Where I used to hibernate over the holidays, I’ve grown to love winter runs. Marrying a Canadian will do that to you. Don’t get me wrong: there are few things I hate more than running in 38-degree rain. But I find the mix of cold, brisk outdoors runs and focused treadmill work on a dark evening more invigorating than the summertime equivalent of sweltering, humid outdoor runs or treadmill workouts when it’s bright and sunny, but too hot outside.
So here are a few of my latest stories at SHAPE.com meant to pump you up for winter running, with lots of running tips from experts in the know.
Rocking my run streak in New York City’s Central Park. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)
Don’t let frigid temps stop you from getting the most out of a workout! From warm-up exercises to running essentials and how to adjust your stride, follow these 10 running tips to make the most out of your winter run.
Holiday running streaks are popular. I know, I’ve done two myself, logging 46 days in a row at the longest. But running every day certainly isn’t for everyone. Experts explain how to make this winter motivation strategy a healthy—not harmful—habit with key running tips.
I ran a 4-minute negative split at the GORE-TEX Philadelphia Half Marathon to run my fastest 13.1 in more than two years. And I did it after writing this article. These running tips from expert coaches were in my head the entire race. In other words, they really work. I even got a new mantra from it: Last Mile, Fastest Mile. Training your body to start slow will help you finish faster (and happier!) at your next race.
The Bermuda Triangle Challenge (Photo: Bermuda Tourism Authority)
Bermuda Triangle Challenge PR Attempt
When I first wrote about the Bermuda Triangle Challenge 12 weeks ago, I threw down the gauntlet: “I will run a personal best at one of the three events. I’m not sure which one I’m going to target yet, but I’d love take down any of my 1 mile, 10K or half-marathon PRs.”
But which one to choose?
At the Philly Half, I showed some serious closing speed that I didn’t know I had in me, finishing the last two miles of the race in 8:37 and 8:49 and with an overall time of 2:05:46. As a result, part of me is tempted to go for the half-marathon PR. But honestly? I’d rather not have it hanging over my head all weekend. I think I want to just enjoy the scenery on that one.
Plus, if the weather is on the warm side, that will put the kibosh on that. I’d rather bask in the glory of having run my best half-marathon in two years and take down a shorter distance before working up to the 13.1-mile PR has proven to be my personal Everest. Plus, the year that I ran my 2:00:30—my current PR—I ran 2:05:15 eight months before, awfully close to what I just ran in Philly. I think asking five minutes less of myself after just two months might be a stretch. So scratch PR-ing at the half. Read the rest of this entry →
Training in my Gore Running Gear (RunKarlaRun.com)
It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted a GORE-Tex Philadelphia Marathon training update. I’m running the race with Team Gore, and training was going well. Gore helped me gear up for the race with Gore Running Wear and GORE-TEX Saucony shoes. The sky was blue and birds were singing. In other words, all was right in my world.
During my bi-annual skin check in September, my dermatologist found a mole she didn’t like. She immediately pulled out her scalpel and sliced it off to be biopsied.
A week later, the results were in: it was precancerous, a term used for atypical moles that are more likely than regular moles to develop into melanoma. This particular mole was classified as “severely” atypical, the worst it gets before possibly becoming cancer.
Though my doc had already removed the entire mole, both she and the pathologist were in agreement: an entire patch of skin surrounding the mole should go too. It’s standard procedure when a mole comes back that abnormal.
So the day after the Nike Women’s Half Marathon San Francisco on October 19, I went under the knife. It was a simple procedure. My doctor used a local anesthesia to numb the area, remove the skin, and sew it all up with four sutures.
The skin was then sent back to the lab to check that all of the margins around the mole were clear of atypical cells, since it’s impossible to tell simply with a visual exam. Thankfully, all my margins were clear. After three weeks of bandages and healing cream, all I have to remember the incident by is an inch-long red scar.
At the Nike Women’s Half-Marathon San Francisco the day before my excision.
Doctor Demanded Downtime
There was just one problem: my doctor didn’t want me to run for two full weeks, lest I inadvertently rip open the stitches. The mole was on the right side of my back, over my latissimus dorsi, a muscle that plays a large role in your running gait.
I never realized how much the muscles and skin on my back move when I do, well, everything—putting away dishes, reaching in my closet, walking my dog, turning over in bed, you name it—until I had stitches. Give your skin a pat on the back—it works really hard.
So my doc told me one week of no activity at all. During week two I could add in the elliptical with no arms, leaving them dangling at my side, or ride a recumbent bike. Marathon training would have to wait. Read the rest of this entry →
Today is my five-year blogiversary! And I’m celebrating the best way I know how: going for a run. On Sunday, October 19 I’m running the Nike Women’s Half Marathon San Francisco as part of a Nike media group. When I cross the finish line and earn my Tiffany & Co. necklace, it will be a reminder of just how far I’ve come since I launched “Run, Karla, Run!” back in 2009. And how far we’ve all come together.
Before the 2009 Chicago Marathon. (RunKarlaRun.com)
It’s appropriate that my five-year anniversary is occurring around a race. My very first post was about running the 2009 Bank of Chicago Marathon on the anniversary of my father’s death. I’m from Chicago and the course runs right past my dad’s old office, a place I spent many weekends growing up. Running that race on that day in that city was bittersweet for me. You can read that first post, and its follow-up if you’re curious.
Chicago’s Merchandise Mart, where my dad worked. (Phil Hospod)
But opening my blog with a post about the town where I got my start as a writer—on my high school newspaper, where I eventually served as editor-in-chief— was a fitting beginning to my career as a running reporter, which has taken me from Chicago and my home in New York City to places I never would have dreamed of five years ago: to far-flung locales like Israel, Peru and the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, to new career frontiers like hosting a web and TV show for New York Road Runners on ABC in New York, to seeing my byline in publications like SHAPE and Canadian Running, RunnersWorld.com and Active.com, and right here on RunKarlaRun.com.
Now, I’m off to my first race in San Francisco. Rather than try to PR on the city’s fierce hills, I’m going to use the Nike Women’s Half Marathon San Francisco as a litmus test. This time, it’s all about my marathon pace for the upcoming GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon in November. Can I run 13.1 miles at my goal marathon pace? If I can, will it feel easy enough? It’s time to find out.
Lessons From The Track
Last month, I hit the track with a Nike+ NYC training group, including some of the ladies who are joining me in San Francisco. We ventured to Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island in New York City where we ran a workout led by Nike+ Head Coach Chris Bennett. It consisted of a warm-up, dynamic stretches and drills, strides across the infield, a speed workout on the track, cool down and foam rolling. Read the rest of this entry →
I feel like pulling aHarold Zidler from Moulin Rouge! and screaming, ‘Everything’s going so well!’ But I know that training can change as quickly as the wind. So instead, I’m simply grateful that I’m motivated and on track. That certainly isn’t always the case.
Um, yerp. Of course, as Yeats wrote: “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.” Hold it did not. The train fell off the tracks.
A week later, I missed my long run for no good reason whatsoever—life simply got in the way. The following week, I set out on Saturday for my long run of 12 miles, only to eke out 6. I wasn’t feeling well at all—a sore throat and general tiredness soon gave way to a full-blown cold with fever and chills. It was ill-timed. My husband, Phil, and I were on our way to Peru and Panama the next day for a two-week running vacation.
Machu Picchu! (RunKarlaRun.com)
Sick on Vacation
We left on Sunday morning and got to the base town for Machu Picchu on Monday afternoon. I spent three flights and one train ride to Machu Picchu and the first full day on the ground in Peru incredibly sick. As Phil walked around town, I laid in bed shivering and desperately trying to get warm and healthy. We had tickets to tour Machu Picchu, the impetus for our trip, on Tuesday, the next day. There was no way I was missing that.
The classic Machu Picchu shot (RunKarlaRun.com)
Thankfully, my fever finally broke on Monday night after almost three full days. We bussed to Machu Picchu early Tuesday morning, toured the ruins, and hiked Montana Machu Picchu, the mountain that gives the site its name. It was a big push for me, and I was incredibly tired, but I really didn’t want to miss it. All told, we were on our feet for 10 hours and hiked 5,560 ft of elevation change, topping out at 10,112 ft.Read the rest of this entry →
When my husband, Phil, and I planned our last-minute whirlwind trip through Peru and Panama, I started searching for races that might be happening while we were there.
Luckily, I found the Marathon RPP Scotiabank in Lima on Sunday, September 21, which bills itself as Peru’s biggest race with 20,000 runners. Interestingly enough, the winners of the race get all-expenses paid trips to the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October. Funnily, both Phil and I ran that Toronto marathon in 2013—Race Report: Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
Kismet? I think so.
Maraton RPP Scotiabank Lima Registration
Maraton RPP Scotiabank in Lima
So I turned to Google Translate to figure out the details on the Maraton RPP Scotiabank website. Contrary to the name, Peru’s “red tide” is not a marathon but a half-marathon with a 10K option as well. Perfecto! Both Phil and I are training for the GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon in November and the race fit in well with our training plans.
I clicked “Inscripciones” only to discover that the registration process is anything but easy. Runners must first pay 50 Soles (about $17) in person to an escrow account at a Scotiabank. Then, 24 hours later, register online with their bank receipt. So I went into problem solving mode. Read the rest of this entry →
Buen viaje! I’m off for a 12-day trip touring Peru and Panama! It’s a last-minute adventure—and by last-minute, I mean my husband, Phil, and I decided on the vacation and booked our flights exactly one week ago. We still don’t have all of our hotels sorted. Details, details.
What’s important is that we’re going to straight to Machu Picchu, which has been on my lifetime bucket list as long as I can remember. I’ve written about the Inca Trail Marathon in the past, and while we booked too late to hike the trail (trail passes sell out months in advance), we’ll still get to tour the ruins and hike one of the mountains around the ancient Inca citadel.
After Machu Picchu, we’ll spend a few days in Cuzco, a UNESCO World Heritage Site as the capital of the Inca empire. With Machu Picchu at nearly 8,000 ft. and Cuzco at11,200 ft., Phil and I keep joking that we’re altitude training for the upcoming GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon and the Nike Women’s Half Marathon San Francisco leading up to Philly. We’re just hoping we don’t get altitude sickness like so many people I know. (Shout-out to running and blogging friend, Elle at a Fast Paced Life, who just went to Peru, too.)
Maraton RPP Scotiabank in Lima
Then we head to Lima for one last Peruvian adventure: running the Maratón RPP Scotiabank. After we’d already settled on Peru and come up with a tentative itinerary, in my usual way, I started Googling to see if there were any races going on when we’d be around. I found three: The Panamericana Running 10K and 5K in Cuzco, The Terry Fox Run 5K/10Kin Lima and the Maratón RPP Scotiabank in Lima.
Rather than put ourselves through a race at elevation in Cuzco, we got really excited about the idea of the Maratón RPP Scotiabank, which bills itself as the largest running race in Peru with 20,000 registrants. Contrary to the name, it’s not a full 26.2-miles race, but an event with half-marathon and 10K options. Obviously, Phil and I were in. More on that later…
Since we are flying Copa Air through Panama, and Copa Air allows free stopovers in Panama City, we decided to end the trip in the land that connects North America and South, the Caribbean to the Pacific. We’ll spend two nights in Panama City and two nights on the beach in the Gulf of Panama. Yep, I can’t get Van Halen’s “Panama” out of my head. Especially now that I’m sitting in the Panama City airport surrounded by stands selling Panama hats.
I’ve never been to either Peru or Panama. Excited? Crazy excited! We’re hiking, running, touring and relaxing in two countries that have long been on my radar. Perfecto.
Rocky cheers on runners at the GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon. (Photo: Philadelphia Marathon)
The 2014 GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon on Sunday, November 23 is a little over 10 weeks away. I’m running as a guest of GORE-TEX, my second tango in City of Brotherly Love. The 2012 race is where I ran my current marathon personal best of 4:28. I’m looking to put a huge dent in that number. So far, all my training and racing points to “Yes!”
It wouldn’t be a proper Philadelphia playlist without some Will Smith. For more comic effect The Fresh Prince of Bel Aire theme song would work in a pinch. But I’ve always liked the laid back vibe of Smith’s ode to hot summer days in West Philly.
Yes, The Boss’s version is the original and I’m sure many will disagree with me, but I prefer The Fray’s rendition. It feels a little more raw and running friendly. Either way, lyrics like “I walked the avenue, ’til my legs felt like stone,” don’t get any better for marathon training.
Recently, someone asked me: What’s your running mantra? I didn’t always have one. But this summer I’ve been using two mantras that have really been working for me. When I’m struggling and need to dig deep, I turn to these two phrase that somehow spur me on.
1) Just keep pushing
Pushing is easy when the run is this beautiful. (RunKarlaRun.com)
This is my go-to racing mantra. My husband thinks it’s too simple. “There’s no magic to it, no poetry to it,” he says. He prefers mantras like, “Pain is weakness leaving the body,” and, “Pain is temporary, glory is forever.” Yes, he actually says those to himself. Perhaps that’s why he is a Boston Qualifier and I am not.
But that’s the funny thing about mantras. What works for one person does not always work for someone else. Anytime he’s tried to encourage me during a run with one of his mantras, I just get annoyed. I don’t know why, but waxing poetic about pain seems to make me angry. And not in a good, “Yeah, I’m going to crush this run!” sort of way. But in a “Shut your face, you’re not helping!” sort of way. Read the rest of this entry →
A few weeks ago, I announced that I’m running the Nike Women’s Half Marathon San Francisco on October 19 as part of a Nike media group. I was waiting for Nike to release the course map before I decide if the race will be the scene of my sub-2 hour half marathon attempt.
Well, the course map is finally here! For the 11th edition of the race, Nike has drawn a completely new route through San Francisco.
Like years of yore, the Nike Women’s Half Marathon starts in San Francisco’s Union Square.
But instead of heading north to the Marina and Presidio, the first three miles take runners through the city streets, including the iconic Alamo Square neighborhood with its rows of Victorian houses.
San Francisco’s Alamo Square neighborhood. (Nike)
Miles 4 through 8 tour the bucolic 1,017-acre Golden Gate Park before another mile through the often-foggy Richmond District. Read the rest of this entry →
Coming out of the water at the Wild Dog Triathlon. (Phil Hospod)
As I stare down my sixth triathlon— Triathlon Valleyfield in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec on Sunday, August 24—I realize that I have fully fallen down the multi-sport rabbit hole. In that hole is an assortment of athletic equipment that I’ve accumulated to help me swim, bike and run my heart out. Before every race, I write out a triathlon gear list to be sure to pack for race day.
Biking my second triathlon. (Capstone Photography)
Unlike running, triathlon is incredibly gear intensive. All that “stuff” is the main barrier to entry for runners who are interested in dabbling their toes in the open waters of the sport. Buying everything at once can be intimidating and expensive. I’ve staggered my purchases over the course of three years, reached out to sponsors, and still don’t have all the gear a truly competitive triathlete calls their own, like a tri-specific bike, areobars and the like. But that hasn’t stopped me from getting into the sport and it shouldn’t stop you either.
So here is my triathlon gear list. Some of these items are essential, some merely nice to have. But once you know that the sport of triathlon will be part of your regular racing routine, you’ll want each of these items in your gear bag.
I’ve listed the full price for each item, but in many cases I found them on sale or got them for free, and have indicated where that was the case. Where gender specificity is a factor, I’ve listed the women’s gear. But most items are available in men’s options too.
Triathlon Gear For The Entire Race
Your tri kit is the outfit that takes you through all three events. Ideally, you can swim, bike and run in it. You don’t have to buy a fancy tri kit. I certainly didn’t. Here’s what I use to race and train. Both of my kits have two things in common: 1) They’re designed and tested by female triathletes for female triathletes, and 2) They’re from American companies that manufacture the majority of their products in the U.S. 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!