On to 2016!

This past year was one for the record books in good ways and bad. I don’t feel like this or this, but a quick reflection is in order before moving ON TO 2016!!

2015 By the Numbers:
Miles: 3,565
Days Injured: 77
PRs: 1
Athlete PRs: Marisa Cummings (4) John Cummings (3)
DNFs: 1
Races: 10
Wins: 3

The numbers don’t tell the story, but with the events of the year leaving me with much to (still) digest and process, I will have to leave it there for now. That being said, Athlete PRs deserves more explaining and celebrating! For the past couple of years I’ve had the honor of coaching my Dad and Sister. The experiences I’ve been afforded along my coaching journey have been more rewarding than I ever could have imagined. I am so humbled and grateful for the opportunity to coach two amazingly talented runners. This past year I was presented with a challenge: coach while injured. By my own assessment, I failed. I can only hope I learned. One extraordinary and unforeseen silver lining was the opportunity to run workouts and races with Dad (Marine Corps Marathon) and Marisa (Hartford Half Marathon) during my return to running. These cherished moments and memories wouldn’t have occurred had I remained healthy through the summer.

ON TO 2016:
I am so lucky to have the continued support of my family, Coach Terry Shea + Team TBone, The New York Athletic ClubNuunUrban Wellness Clinic, and AthleteBiz  in 2016. Thank you!

After three great years as a member of the Brooks I.D. program, I’ve accepted an awesome opportunity to run for Skechers Performance in 2016! I’ve quickly become quite attached to these and these. I will also have CEP Compression joining me on my running journey in 2016. Can’t wait for what is ahead!

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A favorite shot from 2015: PanAm Games celebration!

 

Where I’ve Been!

Six months since my last blog post and six months since my last vacation… This is not the start of a new trend, I promise! Here is a quick recap of the highs and lows since February:

ONE Team USA Jersey!  

SIX Races: US Marathon Championships (9th; 2:42:20), NYRR Run as One (1st, 22:12), NYRR Brooklyn Half-Marathon (2nd, 1:15:33), Spring Lake Five (1st, 27:44), NYRR Healthy Kidney 10k (6th, 35:14), Pan American Games Marathon (DNF @ 18mi, Tibia Fracture)

EIGHT 100+ mile weeks

ONE Award: New York Road Runner (NYRR) 2014 Runner of the Year

THREE Injuries: Tibia Fracture (L), Acute Compartment Syndrome (L), Foot Drop (L)

TWO (New) Gym Memberships and 94 hours on the elliptical

ONE ElliptiGO! Thanks Jeff Caron!

ONE Awesome Watch Discovery-

I train with a GPS watch but race with an analog, deferring to course mile markers to take my own splits. My high school-era analog watch, neglected and almost ten years old, was in dire need of an upgrade.  Enter the Soleus Chicked! My new gadget made its debut at the Pan Am Games Marathon and almost helped me forget how scared I was to race (on a broken tibia) after not running for the preceding five weeks!! The display on the Soleus Chicked is awesome and the split recall is super user-friendly. The old watch has officially been retired. Can’t wait to get back racing with the Chicked!

ONE Hydration Success Story-

Half of the Pan Am Games Marathon field dropped out due to heat and humidity-related effects. Not entirely surprising with race morning temperatures in the 70s, humidity of 90% and an exposed loop course.  Thanks to my experience running in 80+ degree heat at the US Marathon Championships in Los Angeles and the Nuun Plus in my bottles, the heat was the least of my worries! The Pan Am Games Marathon was my first experience with Nuun Plus. Unfortunately a DNF reads next to my name.  Had I been in good health, I think I would have been in a position to capitalize on the tough weather conditions thanks to Nuun Plus! I will definitely be using it during my next marathon.

24,000 Airline Miles: TWO countries (Chile, Canada) & THREE states (Florida, New Jersey, California)

And last but not least…

ONE incredible vacation with my best bud!!

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Here’s where I’ve been. Don’t know where I’m going…. Next update when I do!

Sunday Scoop

QOTW: “Whatever you do in life, surround yourself by smart people who’ll argue with you.” -John Wooden

Training Tidbit: With temperatures hitting record lows in Central Park, I ran my highest week of mileage EVER. A Liam Neeson sighting on Thursday didn’t hurt the effort!

Workout World: Coach Terry Shea is featured in Competitor Magazine’s Workout of the Week!

Must….read/do/see/listen/follow

Book Club: Crazy is a Compliment: The Power of Zigging When Everyone Else Zags

Current Obsession: Moving Comfort’s collaboration with Brooks Running

Bookmark this link to follow Running Times’ newest (and best) columnist!

Check out my latest discovery, Simply Protein and get 25% off with coupon code: “LoveSimply25”

Countdown: 20 days until LA Marathon!!!

And last but finally not least….tomorrow marks the start of a NEW chapter for me!

Off to the Races in 2015!

We are nearly two months into 2015 and I am finally publishing my first post…that and this title pretty much sum up the start to my year! Before more time passes-

Sponsors & Supporters:
I am so lucky to have Coach Terry Shea, The New York Athletic Club, Brooks I.D., PowerBar, and Urban Wellness Clinic supporting me for what I hope will be another awesome year! Thank you! I am very excited to announce that I am now a Girls Gone Sporty Ambassador and will also have Nuun, LouvaGear, and AthleteBiz joining me on my running journey in 2015!!
 

Nuun, based in Seattle, WA, was originally the brainchild of a student and professor from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. An avid cyclist, he longed for a lightweight, easy to use hydration method that didn’t include a sticky high-calorie mess. His research led to the creation of a sugarless, dissolvable, and portable tablet called Nuun.

Eight years later, Nuun Active Hydration is the #1 selling sports drink tab in the cycling, running and outdoor specialty marketplaces. As education about hydration and wellness grows, Nuun has become more accessible to a wider range of people. In response, Nuun has expanded its product line from sports performance hydration to include two all-natural, vitamin-enhanced products for everyday use, Nuun All Day Hydration and U Natural Hydration.

I’ve been a proponent of Nuun for awhile and have posted multiple times about the product — see here and here. I am so excited to finally be a member of Team Nuun. As a member of the competitive athletic team, I will be an ambassador of the brand in all the areas in which I live, work, play, and compete! Hoping to take my training to the next level this year with Nuun as my hydration product.
 
I stumbled across LouvaGear on Twitter and got in touch with co-founder Amy, who in 2013 decided to make her passion for running a bigger part of her life! It all started with a running blog and the rest as the say, is history…
 
I’ve always loved the look of arm sleeves and when I finally decided after college that I was going to stop pretending I could tough out the cold, I loved their feel, versatility and practicality! LouvaGear takes it up a notch with an innovative sleeve product that combines arm and hand coverage. The awesome hybrid sleeves are sleek yet simple, comfortable and inexpensive! Excited to hit the roads with Louva this year!
 

AthleteBiz, founded by USATF vice-chair Jack Wickens in 2013, is a web platform designed to launch entrepreneurial opportunities and fitness role model activations for aspiring Olympic athletes. Athletes can use the site to share updates, offer inspiration, and build their personal brands. In turn, fans can use AthleteBiz to connect with athletes in a social setting, follow their journeys, and hire them for engagements ranging from sponsored content to speaking opportunities.

 Check out my new profile here!

Races & Training:

I started off 2015 just like 2014, with a trip down to Houston, TX for USA Half-Marathon Championships! I had a blast (again) and really surprised myself, coming away with a 55s PR of 1:13.11. I couldn’t have asked for a better day with ideal race-day temperatures, an awesome and supportive roommate and pack-running perfection!
Can you find me?!

Can you find me?!

With my return to the frozen tundra came a big jump in mileage with the US Marathon Championships (LA Marathon) rapidly approaching!! I’ve made good friends with the treadmill and have done many of my workouts for this training segment on the torture device, memorizing a number of iTunes radio stations and exhausting a couple of “seasons” of podcasts in the process. The race will be my first time back to Southern California since my parents moved back to the East Coast 4+ years ago! Can’t wait to run from stadium to sea on March 15th!

The RTW (Guest Post)

Lil sis Maris back on the blog here! In my last post we took a look at a day in the life. This time around, the spotlight is on runner jargon and abbreviations we create ourselves!

What is a “RTW”?

So, while we can’t lay claim to inventing nor pioneering the run commute, we came up with our own lingo / abbrev (in typical fashion) for our nearly daily morning run – the “run to work”, or RTW. The run to work is a very specific kind of run – not to be confused with the evening jaunt / joggle / struggle run north on the West Side Highway after a day at the office; nor is it akin to a lovely, caffeinated, Sunday morning LR in Central Park. No, the run to work is a combination of a few key components/variables (stress on the “variables”, here).

First – coordination – the RTW requires careful pre-planning in order for seamless execution. Outfits are laid out on Sunday and ferried in a canvas bag that could fit a small child and stashed at the gym or final destination early in the week. Bonus points for dresses that don’t wrinkle, a neutral color scheme, and cardigans you can wear on repeat.

Second – praying – to the weather gods (of course), for both a NNE tailwind & clear skies – since the hair-washing happens on a specific day of the week, given the 5 extra minutes you must bake in to your morning routine…so any unexpected rain/snow/classic NYC precipitation combo can derail our carefully laid plans.

Lastly, a buddy – since the RTW can get pretty lonely and the temptation to snooze and reset your alarm for that post-work run is always looming, it’s essential (or pretty nearly) to know you’ve got a friend, teammate, or sister joining you in the morning.

[Need you think the RTW is always flawlessly executed, we’ve all had our fair share of oopsies – ranging from bra-less days at work (better hope it was cold out if you intend to keep your sports bra on), to trekking into the office in neon orange Nike Pegasus sneaks with your black J. Crew dress + cardigan (thanks Princeton Athletic Department for the school colors, they match everything!), to appropriated XXL grey gym t-shirts worn in desperation the day prior to laundry day].

The RTW is a pretty essential component of the full-timer’s weekly run schedule – our ours, at least – it’s pretty nice not to have to rely on the unpredictable MTA subway “schedule” (cue cold sweats after the express starts running local), and since you have to get to work anyway, it’s basically the most efficient way to commute and work out, all at once! Not to mention you feel like a bad a$$ when you slip into your seat, exactly on time, with your run in your back pocket like the best kind of secret.

So there you have it! A snapshot of our weekly ritual – the RTW.

views from the rtw home stretch

views from the rtw home stretch

Training Update + Soleus GPS Fit Review

After a handful of days off after Chicago I was eager to get back at it! With the Boston Marathon in recent memory, I found myself repeatedly comparing the recovery process in the weeks following Chicago. Between the Boston course and the Penn Relays Corporate DMR 400m “sprint” later that week, I think I set myself back a bit more than I realized at the time! The transition back to a full mileage load + workouts has been much smoother post-Chicago. I am looking forward to wrapping up the year with some smaller local races, followed by the USATF Club Cross Country Championships with my New York Athletic Club team on Dec 13th!

Week of 10/13
20 miles
2x spin
2x yoga

Week of 10/20
71 miles
1x MLR
200s “workout” @ Riverbank State Park
Alexi Pappas run/visit

Week of 10/27
79 miles
1x MLR
1x strides
16mi LR
NYC Marathon/Meagan Nedlo weekend

Week of 11/3
80 miles
1x yoga
1x strides
1x MLR
Progression Run (5mi)

Week of 11/10
93 miles
1x MLR
1x strides
16mi LR
2x3mi with Allie (!!)
on/off 400s (4mi) @ Riverbank State Park

Week of 11/17
85 miles
2x strides
1600m repeats with Allie & Alexi @ E. 6th
15mi LR with NYRR Race to Deliver (4mi) in 22:08

Soleus GPS Fit Review:
For the past month or so I have been training with the Soleus GPS Fit ($99 MSRP) thanks to Sara Slattery at ModCraft! For all you naysayers out there, I am not going to try to sell you on the GPS watch. You can “take the plunge” whenever you are ready. I started wearing a GPS watch after graduation (2011), adding a much needed element of flexibility to my training. For me, the GPS watch removes much of the stress of planning runs and workouts over marked distances. With many of my runs  and workouts done solo, the GPS watch acts a little built in training bud, providing some feedback and (occasionally) an added boost!

I’ve used a few different Garmin models during my short GPS stint. My first purchase was the Garmin Forerunner 410 which was ultimately a bit too high-tech for my liking. I didn’t use many of the features so when it started to falter, I downgraded to the much simpler (although still very complex) Garmin Forerunner 110 model ($150 MSRP).

This was my first experience with the Soleus brand. The functionality and ease of use of the Soleus GPS Fit is perhaps its biggest selling point. I was up and running and well-versed in all features of the watch after glancing over the quick-start guide. The settings are easy to navigate and quite fluid (even on the run). This is not a feature the Garmin 110 possesses. For example: the Soleus Fit gives you the option to switch between kilometer and mile auto-laps. A warm-up could be run using the mile auto-lap function and with a few button-pushes the watch could be set to auto-lap for a 1k (400m, 2k, 3k, 4k, 5k) repeat workout.

The Soleus Fit screen is larger and much easier to read than the basic Garmin models. Although the watch itself is also a bit larger than comparable Garmins, it still retains a sleek quality. The diverse color options don’t hurt either! I do ~70% of my runs in the dark so the “always on”night light feature was a HUGE selling point for me. I customized the light timer for my schedule so that it automatically turns on when needed. Another feature that differentiates this watch from the basic Garmin models is the multiple beep auto-lap. I workout surrounded by the hustle and bustle of NYC. The West Side Highway is very loud and I often miss the single beep of the Garmin 110 and am left feeling frustrated with little guidance as to how to proceed with the remainder of the workout. The Soleus Fit beeps a handful of times at each lap so is very hard to miss.

My biggest issue with the Soleus Fit is its inability to display average lap pace. Current pace can fluctuate dramatically and it doesn’t present the best picture when trying to run longer intervals or tempo runs. One potential solution to this shortcoming is to switch to shorter auto-laps (i.e. 1/2mi or 1km). While the Garmin 110 can show average lap pace or current pace (depending on the setting) there is no split recall function while on the run. The watch must be plugged into Garmin Connect via USB to recall intra-run splits. This is a huge shortcoming of the Garmin 110 model. In NYC, the Soleus Fit takes a bit longer than the Garmin 110 to acquire satellites but once going the accuracy is top-notch. In terms of data analysis, I’ve found the Strava software and website to be extremely user friendly. Garmin uses its own platform that is a bit trickier to navigate and doesn’t have offer the same social media/runner community experience.

Although Garmin is the default option for many who look to purchase a GPS watch, I would highly recommend looking into the up and coming Soleus brand. With Thanksgiving behind us it is time to start Christmas shopping!! Does your favorite runner have a GPS watch?! A Soleus GPS could be just the answer!

Soleus GPS

One of my run to work (RTW) loops uploaded from the Soleus GPS Fit to Strava!