Vermont City Marathon Relay: The Final Days of Prep

So we’re here! The Vermont City Marathon is this Sunday, and I’m getting SO excited to share the 26.2 with my Boston BFF/Roommate. The forecast has been switching back and forth between predicting sunshine and thunderstorms, and right now the Weather Channel is predicting a high of 88 degrees. Hello Summer!! I have not run too much in high heat during my training for this race, so things could get a little dicey on the course – especially since I’m running the second leg and will probably start around 10am. EEP! I’m glad I trained myself to get used to running more in the mid-day, though, because before this I was so used to only running in the morning and it’s been interesting to see how my body has adapted to later-day running. My last run (before this morning) was at 3pm and I felt pretty good the whole time (4 miles, lol so not saying TOO much). But either way, I feel good heading into this weekend. I completed every run that I had scheduled myself, and practiced different fueling strategies and used some new equipment along the way. For a rough overview of how my training went leading up to this weekend, here’s what I had scheduled for myself –>

I had been running pretty consistently 3-5 miles 2-3x per week leading up to my more structured running schedule. Learning from my last bout of training before I ran the Boston Half Marathon in 2014, I knew that overtraining was my enemy and I could get to a really good level of endurance without injury by running 2 times during the week with one longer run on the weekend. I started the first week of April, and upped volume pretty quickly given how used to running my body was.

Week 1: 3 mi + 3 mi + 5 mi (total = 11 mi)

Week 2: 3 mi + 4 mi + 6 mi (total = 13 mi)

Week 3: 5 mi + 4 mi + 7.5 mi (total = 16.5 mi)

Week 4: 5 mi + 5 mi + 8 mi (total = 18 mi)

Week 5: 5 mi + 5 mi + 9 mi (total = 19 mi)

Week 6: 6 mi + 4 mi + 10 mi (20 mi)

Week 7: 5 mi + 6 mi + 11 mi (22 mi) — peak week!

Week 8: 8 mi + 8 mi + 6 mi (22 mi) (had planned for a 12 mile long run this week but my friend’s Bachelorette party and travel plans led me to up the distance of my week day runs instead)

Week 9 (Taper): 4 mi + 3.5 mi + 13.1 mi (Race day!) — total 24.6 mi

Yoga became my new best friend. I found that long runs were much more enjoyable from the get-go if I warmed up with a 15-20 minute yoga session. Shout out to Adrienne, who has a youtube channel filled with TONS of approachable and effective yoga videos that last longer than 10 minutes. I did her 30 days of Yoga camp, and now always pop on to her channel when I’m in the mood for a centering, strengthening yoga session. I also incorporated about 1 day of strength training each week (definitely the one area I need to improve in my consistency). Overall I noticed a huge difference this year compared to previous years that I’ve trained for this distance. Mainly the fact that my body stuck with me and didn’t start to flare up with tendonitis or strains like it has in the past. I credit a lot of that with yoga, learning how to stick with proper warm ups and cool downs, and focusing on strengthening my hips, core and back/spine. Fingers crossed this routine continues to pay off as I work up to the full distance!!

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Things I learned along my 8 weeks of training included lessons in headphone management, heart rate monitoring (got a Polar that I am learning to love!), meal timing, and lots of GI adventures. Right around week 4 I discovered that dairy and I might have to end our relationship. I’ve been avoiding it (mainly milk, yogurt, ice cream/frozen yogurt — a little bit of cheese has snuck in here and there, I just love it too much!) for the past month or so and my GI tract is liking life (and long runs) a lot more. I’m still not 100% sure that lactose is the issue, and for a while was wondering if possibly whey protein could be the culprit, or if it wasn’t dairy at all and maybe the artificial Monk Fruit sweetener (this all started after one fateful evening devouring a pint of Arctic Zero..) I’m hoping to zero in on what might be causing the issues in my diet AFTER race weekend – keeping it dairy free until then and thinking I might do more of an elimination-style experiment afterwards along the lines of FODMAPs. Since I’ve had issues with IBS in the past, they seem to be popping up again now that I’m pushing my body to a little bit of a higher level of stress — and will continue to as I extend my training for the full marathon this summer. Though I know lactose has been an on-the-fence issue for me for a while, I  really hope my gut is OK with yogurt- I just miss it so much!

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I figured out my optimal pre-run breakfast is two slices of toast (my favorite is When Pig’s Fly Low-Carb bread — don’t let the name fool you this bread is made from some great ingredients and no weird fillers, doesn’t have an exorbitant amount of fiber..and it’s local!) with ~1.5 Tb peanut butter, one banana and a tsp of honey. If I eat this about 3 hours before running, I’m golden! I also try to keep my dinners the night before a long run balanced (with protein and fat to keep blood sugar on an even keel), but with carbohydrates as the main component, to make sure I have full glycogen stores at the ready. I have trouble fueling during races since my stomach is so sensitive to food, and causes me pain/nausea with GUs and chews, and got the idea to try jelly beans instead (basically a jolt of quick carbs, hello sugar!). On my longer runs, I found that I needed to dip into them right around 1.5 hours or so of running, but only needed 5-10 to keep me going. Each bean is equivalent to 1g of carbohydrate, so I can avoid huge spikes in blood sugar and just consume what my body needs. I’m planning on bringing a little sack of them with me during the half — hope they don’t melt!

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My roommate and I are planning on stopping for a traditional pre-race breakfast at our well-loved local restaurant The Neighborhood before catching our megabus up to Burlington. We are staying two nights at an Airbnb that happens to be “steps” from the starting line — total coincidence. This race has me giddy with excitement – so eager to get to the expo and live off of adrenaline for a good 24 hours. Despite the heat, I am super excited to explore Burlington (planning on checking off a few restaurants and breweries post-race — important!) and share this experience with my roommate. We’ve both worked our butts off for it, I’m pumped to say that we shared 26.2.

On your mark…

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Back to the Blogosphere

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Hello!

The first blog post is always so awkward. Like, I’ve totally been here for days just waiting to post something and send my voice out into the interwebs. But first I had to make sure the site functioned, you know? So it’s been a lot of simmering thoughts – how did I want to start? First impressions are daunting. The first post sets the tone for the whole blog. Will anyone even read this?

I digress.

Why did I start a whole new blog in the first place? Well, if you’re familiar with my previous wordpress (praise you!), you’ll know it was largely geared toward the transition from growing up in the Midwest and entering the “real world” in the Northeast, mostly documenting my experience with the dietetic internship. Curious? Click HERE. I considered opening that box back up for what I wanted to say with this blog, but it just didn’t seem to fit anymore. I feel much more at home in Boston now than that blog made it seem, and I’m focusing a lot more on developing professionally and personally. I also might just be addicted to new chapters and fresh starts. Either way, I felt like a clean slate was needed. And so A Balanced Pace is born!

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I feel like “Balance” is pretty cliche in this era of wellness blogging. But for good reason! It’s hard to stay sane when you have your toes dipping in more waters than you can remember to name. But it’s crucial to maintain balance to manage stress and avoid burning out in any aspect of life. Stress, the little bugger, while designed to get us through short bouts of life we’re otherwise unprepared to handle, wrecks havoc when it goes unchecked and unaddressed. No matter how much I enjoy running, or school, or planning, or socializing, I need to find a balance to do the best I can in each area without sacrificing another. I find that being mindful is extremely helpful, and I’m hoping that blogging it out will help me keep each aspect of my personal and professional life balanced. 

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I also have another pretty major incentive to maintain this blog. After gradually fostering a slowly burning love (sometimes love-hate) relationship with running, I decided to take the plunge into running my first marathon. One year ago, I would have balked at this concept. As I increased my endurance, my body tended to fight back (read: screaming joints, tendonitis, blisters that just would not go away). I tried different things over the years, and finally feel like I’ve found my groove with running. For so many reasons, it’s my favorite way to relieve stress, feel strong, and get in touch with my intuition. I’m running my second half marathon at the end of the Month, and will then start working one on one with a coach to focus on building up to the full 26.2, hopefully injury free.

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Along with my blossoming interest in distance running is a newfound interest in sports nutrition. I’ve really never focused too intently on sports nutrition, since I never found it very applicable to myself as a moderate exerciser. Paying more attention to my own body and performance as I ask more of it every day, I’m starting to dive more into the sports nutrition literature and re-immerse myself into the wonder and science of the nutrition-body-performance connection. This is another thing I hope to use this blog to explore. There are a lot of hot topics in the world of sports nutrition that come with a fair bit of controversy. With a passion for fighting through the crap and getting to the truth, I’m excited to dig into the crazy world that is integrative sports nutrition.