A bit of Winter respite from our own Ms. Megan Jones. Stay warm! JAK
When I joined the Whippets my main intention was to not run alone, and to meet a friendly group who also loved running. Through meeting many Whippets who were much more advanced runners than me, and with all of the supportive coaches (Big HUGE thank you to Scott [Batten], Simon [Durkin] and Chris [Forti]!), I was actually learning how to pace myself and becoming much more comfortable in a faster pace. It had been over 10 years since I ran with the CYO’s Staten Island’s Saint Patrick’s School track team, and I had only started running again as an adult to stay in shape and clear my mind. I ran easy and never really pushed myself doing any sort of speed work or hill repeats. Attending the Tuesday night practices in Central Park I found myself paying more attention to my training plans (Thank you Scott for the weekly emails!!!).
This year my ultimate goal is to complete my first marathon. In preparation for that I decided I wanted to get much better at the Half Marathon and trained hard for the Fred Lebow Manhattan Half-Marathon, resulting in a huge improvement! In comparison, my 2014 time was 2:07:15 ,while my 2015 time was 1:45:12. I did most of my daily training on trails, which for me, made going to pavement much easier. But overall it was a mix of things that aided my improvement from a year ago.
A big help was reading the book “ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless and Injury Free Running“, by Danny Dreyer. This book really helped me to focus; I’ve had a good yoga practice since college, so everything made complete sense. The book was a good reminder to apply form, focus and breathing to my running (And it gives really good pointers on how to keep yourself in check during your runs.). I highly recommend it if you haven’t read it; I know it may not be for everyone, but in reading it, I had many “AH-HA!” moments, and it had a lot of great tips that stuck with me.
Then, sneakers! Like most girls I have always loved shoes a lot. But honestly for my running sneakers I’ve learned not to care what they look like – for me it’s most important that they keep my stride correct. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten new sneakers without spending at least 2 hours in a shoe store testing out every single pair. I’ve really liked the New Balance 880’s, Adidas Adizero and Adidas Boosts. I try not to stay married to a brand because they always change (…and until I have a sponsorship I’m trying them all!). I’ve noticed too much cushion encourages sloppy form, while the supportive, less cushy shoes allow me to be more aware of what my feet are doing. Again, it’s just what works for me; we’re all different.
Then I started to pay attention to what I was eating. I’m normally a super-picky eater so I’ve been trying to work on my fueling plan by hydrating really, really well the day before. Also, instead of just regular pasta for my carbo-loading I made Pasta Carbonara for that extra bit of protein! Race day I had a hot chocolate Ucan about 20 mins before the race, ran with a water bottle of Nuun during the race, and took one PowerGel around mile 7. I think I ended the race with too much energy, so I suppose that worked out well!
For pacing the Manhattan Half I studied my past race paces in Central Park and tried to have a good idea of where I could save energy by riding the downhills and not waste energy by holding back, along with staying 100% focused with my head up on the uphills. Maintaining my focus ahead really helped me keep my head up, as I used to have a bad habit of keeping my head down on the uphills. The day of the race my watch never actually synced up to the GPS, so I just ran with the stop watch. I knew the time I wanted to beat: my previous spring time CP PR of 1:56:04. Unfortunately I would have loved to know what my splits were, but just kept my focus on my form instead of the time. I do remember when I did glance at the time (at mile 6; it was around 45 mins) I thought, “I can definitely PR today!”, so I went for it! Soon after (around miles 6-8) I found Patricia [Tirona] (thank you!!), who let me know what my pace actually was, and kept with her for a bit so I could reach my goal. Coming towards the finish and seeing the Whippets cheering section with pom-poms and cow bells, all decked out in their very fancy new team jackets at the 13 mile mark, encouraged me to sprint super hard to the finish, and still have a ton of energy after to cheer on the rest of the finishers!
I really want to emphasis how much I appreciate the team support! The support that you get from seeing Whippets in corrals right before at the start. The support during the race seeing the other racing Whippets. Then, that extra support you get from possibly seeing Simon during a race, and trying your hardest not to pass him with bad form! And, of course, the most appreciated and important boost for me are always the awesome cheer zones! So big thank you to everyone who has come out and cheered! It’s been a pretty good start to another exciting year of races ahead!
This post is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the opinion of the Dashing Whippets Running Team, its board, or its captains.