A Great NYC Summer Run

You know those runs that go exactly as planned? Everything clicks and you feel as if you could run forever? Luckily, that is what Bo and I enjoyed yesterday morning.

I don’t think it was a coincidence that we enjoyed a strong, fast run yesterday. Unlike week’s past, we set ourselves up for success.

Friday night we cooked together, whipping up a delicious Frutti di Mare and spent a few hours watching Orange is the New Black and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. We both foam rolled and stretched before going to bed at 10pm. Yes, we went to bed on a Friday night at 10pm and it was glorious.

IMG_2696

Even though our alarm clock went off at 6am, far earlier than either of us would like on a Saturday, we felt rested and refreshed. We sipped on some NUUN, coffee and had a few bites of bread and peanut butter before heading out the door 30 minutes later.

IMG_2706

We chose to run early on Saturday for three reasons: avoid crowds, avoid heat and get it done before we headed out of town for the day.

image

We created a great path which allowed us to enjoy both the water views and breeze off the Hudson River as well as NYC’s Summer Streets. On three consecutive Saturdays, August 1st, 8th and 15th, NYC shuts down seven miles of streets so the public and tourists alike may bike, run, walk and play in the streets from 7am until 1pm.

IMG_2717IMG_2714

It is AWESOME and includes five rest stops, outdoor yoga, bike tune-ups, a Vita Coco sponsored slip and slide, as well as music and lots of other great activities.

IMG_2712

Yesterday morning’s run was such a blast. Since we were rested, the miles came far easier than last week’s long run. Our goal was to keep a 9:45-9:50 for the first seven miles and then drop the pace for the final mile. Due to rested legs, proper fueling and perfect weather we were able to finish the 8 miles at an 9:26 pace including the final mile at an 8:02 pace!

IMG_2720

Hope you guys had a great weekend and remember, if your run doesn’t go well take a few minutes to think about how you can make it better next time! Our goal for the next few weeks is to make sure we are well rested for long runs!

Follow:

A Weekend of Friends, Running and Yoga

Happy Marathon Monday! I’m so excited for everyone running, especially those ladies I’m tracking today including Tina, Sarah, Janae, Michele and Michelle. These ladies have trained in such tough conditions this winter that I know they’ll run strong even in horrible Boston conditions today!

IMG_8782

Inspired by the many runners in Boston, a few of us woke up with the sunrise for a four-mile run along the lake. It’s mornings like this that remind me why I love running. A wonderful, friend filled four-mile run followed by a cup of coffee always makes Mondays more bearable!

IMG_8779

But, before kicking off our Monday on the right foot, our weekend revolved around three things that make me very happy: friends, running and yoga.

Friends

As so many of us were traveling during March and early April, it’s been nice to have a few weekends in Geneva to catch up and relax. Each day this weekend we were able to enjoy time with different groups of friends, in both small and large settings. Between a Thai dinner date, a yoga workout, manicure and wine relaxation with a girlfriend, post-run brunch and a terrace barbecue party, we were able to see just about each of our friends and hear about about their Easter holidays. Even though we live so close, it’s easy to go a few weeks without seeing each other due to weekend travel plans and busy work schedules! Hopefully, now that Spring and longer days have arrived, there will be many lakeside barbecues in our future.

Running

After a relaxing, lazy morning enjoying one too many cups of coffee and our peanut butter and toast breakfast, Bo and I headed out for a 10-mile run. Bo’s longest run since the 2013 New York City Half Marathon, this run wasn’t as enjoyable as last week’s eight miler! We spent the first eight miles of our run fighting 25 mph headwinds. Even in the wind and rain, our countryside path found a way to be even more beautiful than the week prior. The fields transformed during the week, resulting in a sea of yellow blossoms. The inclement weather kept other runners and bikers at home, leaving the path just to us. It is a stark contrast to the crowded lake front path we typically frequent.

IMG_8728 IMG_8731IMG_8736

The weather did a complete 360-degree change during our run, going from rain and wind to sunshine and blue sky. We finished our final two miles, sprinting along the lake, enjoying clear views and tulips! The good news is that, even though, the early miles weren’t easy, we were able to push our pace by the end and finished strong. In addition, runs like this build mental toughness, which is important for race day and something I’m trying to really focus and improve. I can’t believe our half marathon is in less than two weeks!

IMG_8741 

Yoga

Stepping out of bed Sunday morning, my body felt the affects of the week’s workouts. While I originally planned on heading out early for InnerCity Yoga’s Sunday morning yoga class, the thought of relaxing on the couch convinced me otherwise. Having missed the opportunity to practice yoga in a class setting, I decided to bring the yoga studio environment to our flat. I opened the windows, lit a few candles, made lemon water, rolled out two yoga mats, invited a friend over and streamed yoga workouts.

IMG_8774

The plan worked so well that I completed a total of five restorative yoga videos yesterday, for a total of 2 hours.  I fell in love with JasYoga’s streaming video website yesterday, after discovering her short, effective restorative yoga videos. The website describes JasYoga as a revolutionary approach to yoga.

Welcome to the Reset Revolution.

Jasyoga is a revolutionary approach to yoga for athletes. Our practical solutions are designed to help you recover, prevent injuries, and perform so that you can achieve your goals, no matter where your active lifestyle takes you.

Her hamstring and quad focused videos released all the tension from my legs in just 15 minutes. Many of the moves include using props such as pillows, straps, and even your nearby wall to ensure that you can properly complete the moves while relaxing your body. 

IMG_8760 

Thanks to many supported poses like the one above, I woke up this morning feeling fresh and ready to tackle work stress and the week’s workouts!

Your turn: Can you bring yourself to do at-home workouts? How do you motivate yourself? What are your favorite home workout videos?

Follow:

Sometimes It Just Clicks

Sometimes a run just clicks and the result is nothing but sweat and smiles. 

IMG_8551

Yesterday was the first time I can remember that a long run was equally enjoyable for both Bo and me. As you know, Bo has dealt with numerous knee and leg issues over the past five years including a torn calf muscle and two meniscus surgeries. Due to these issues and before that our different paces, the Geneva Half Marathon is the first one that we are training for together!

After a great week of workouts, our long run plan from Jess yesterday called for 8 relaxed miles. The goal was to maintain a consistent pace, somewhere around a 9:40. Historically, I’ve had a hard time wrapping my mind around why long runs are typically prescribed at a pace slower than half marathon goal pace. But, this time around, I’m listening to my coach!

We decided to get a preview of the half marathon course by taking the tram up a few stops to where the actual race begins. After some dynamic warm-ups, we hit the road.

IMG_8529

Our route was beautiful and very different than our typical lake front path where we run during the week.

IMG_8541Instead, we found ourselves running past horse farms, vineyards and even through vegetable fields. While the sun wasn’t out in full force, it snuck out between the clouds every now and then.

IMG_8530 IMG_8532IMG_8542IMG_8539 IMG_8547

The first six miles included small, rolling hills while the final two miles were flat and fast. We kept our eye on our Nike+ app to ensure we kept our pace around the 9:40 point. This slower pace meant that we were able to spend the time running catching up, a nice change versus this week’s other runs, which left us breathless. While we shared a water bottle during our run, neither of us felt the need to stop or take fuel. Our pre-run breakfast of toast, fruit and coffee fueled us perfectly!

IMG_8550 IMG_8555 

We dropped the pace during our final mile, to see what we had left in our legs. We were all smiles when we realized that we finished right on target and our final mile was the fastest!

IMG_8554 

Within minutes we were refueling with brunch at Le Pain Quotidien!

IMG_1772

Did you run this weekend? What’s your favorite way to refuel after a run?

Follow:

Semi-Marathon de La Cote Race Recap

This morning I woke up bright and early for the Semi-Marathon de La Cote. I signed up for this half a few months ago when I saw that it was on the same day that my training plan called for 13 miles. Since this was the race’s inaugural year, I didn’t know what to expect.  However, the website promised gorgeous views during the point to point run from from Allaman to Nyon.imageSince my starting block didn’t start until 10:39, I was able to sleep until 7:30. I spent the next 45 minutes foam rolling, stretching, sipping Nuun and coffee, and making sure I had all my gear. Mary volunteered to meet me at the train station and spend the morning cheering along the course. We spent the 30 minute train ride catching up while I enjoyed my banana, oats and the last of my Whole Foods Almond Butter.  IMG_2076IMG_2075

We arrived at the starting area with 30 minutes to spare (i.e. perfect timing).  The weather was cool, 60 degrees and a bit overcast, which is perfect running weather in my opinion. Mary hugged me goodbye and headed back to the train so she could cheer further along the course. Luckily she made some friends on her way back to the train station.

After saying goodbye, I ended up making friends with some guys from Geneva Runners before moving into my starting block area. The organizers did a great job with the starting area making sure there were plenty of bathrooms, clear signage for the bibs, bag storage, and the starting area. Like most other Swiss races, they also had a warm-up area where participants could participate in a dynamic warm-up. Each block started three minutes apart to keep the course from becoming too congested. IMG_2077

IMG_2080 IMG_2086I used this race as another opportunity to test my marathon race day outfit. I’ll be wearing this entire outfit, from head to toe, in two weeks for the Berlin Marathon. It has served me very well! As the group before us crossed the starting line I realized I had three minutes to figure out how I wanted to treat the race. Would it be a long run or would I use it as a confidence booster? I knew that the course included a flat to downhill start followed by gentle rolling hills for the middle miles and a gradual climb between miles 8-10.

Instead of stressing out, I decided to take a deep breath and just let my body and legs choose for me. Instead of a time goal I vowed to do two things: not walk and not allow a 7 minute or 10 minute pace to show on my Garmin. Those are two paces that were far too fast or slow for a strong training run, regardless how strong or weak I felt.

At 10:39, on the dot, our group crossed the starting line.

IMG_2087 The views were absolutely breath taking. I turned on my playlist and just let my legs and heart do the work. My legs felt incredible and I had to hold myself back when I saw the number 7 show up on my Garmin. I told myself that it was important to hold back if I wanted to last the entire half marathon.

IMG_2088 IMG_2089 IMG_2090 

The splits for first 5k, the downhill portion, were fast but manageable. I felt so good that I skipped the water station at the 5k point as I’d barely sipped any of my water. For the rest of the race I took water at each of the water stations, 10k and 15k.

Mile 1: 8:39

Mile 2: 8:41

Mile 3: 8:50

As I entered the middle miles I knew that I should see Mary once or twice and could use the rolling hills to slow my pace. The miles flew by as I spent time watching the right hand side of the road for Mary and enjoying the lake views as the path took us through small villages. IMG_2093

I saw Mary for the first time around mile 4, just past this sign. It was so fun hearing her scream my name and wave to her with a huge smile on my face. I felt absolutely fabulous!

ashley 9kI told her I’d see her farther up the course, continuing on along the gravel path. I recognized parts of the course such as Rolle, from day trips we’ve taken previously. The course didn’t have many spectators but there were always people in the small towns cheering from their door steps and windows.

Mile 4: 8:52

Mile 5: 9:11

Mile 6: 9:20

Mile 7: 9:23

Mile 8: 9:12

I started watching the right side of the course just past the 9 mile marker, knowing that Mary was going to cheer around the 15k point. I actually saw her before she saw me, noticing her Cigar City Brewing Company shirt out of the corner of my eye! Ashley 15k

I still felt great at this point though I was starting to get quite hot. The course was now in the full sun, save for a few trees here and there. I told myself that this is when I typically become weak during a race, telling myself I need to walk. While I fully respect people who can walk run a race, today was a day when I wanted to prove I could run the entire course, pushing through the tough spots. I noticed the gentle climbs in my thighs and hamstrings but felt strong, considering my pace. Once passing Mary I knew that I only had 4 miles left, less than 40 minutes. In order to make sure I didn’t get into my head, I switched my Garmin to watch mode.

Mile 10: 9:37

Mile 11: 9:30

Mile 12: 9:22

Mile 13: 9:46

As I passed the 20k point I told myself not to start sprinting as I didn’t want to risk pulling or straining anything. The energy of the crowd pushed me through as I crossed into a small park and stadium, towards the finish line. I crossed the finish mat, pushing stop on my Garmin and then continuing through the finish line in search of some much needed water, banana, and medal.

IMG_8066 IMG_8067I looked into the crowd, in exhaustion, to see that Bo and my co-worker Ema were cheering at the finish line. IMG_8068I was hot, sweaty and exhausted but my watch said 1:59:57! After years of months of hard work, I broke 2 hours.

IMG_2097 According to DataSport, a few minutes later, I saw that my official time is 2:01:23. Note to self, do not stop until you cross all the finish mats. Oh well, 2:01:23 is a 2 minute PR versus the Geneva Half Marathon.

While some people said that racing a half isn’t smart just 2 weeks before Berlin Marathon, I know myself better than anyone else. This race was exactly the confidence booster I needed before the marathon. I didn’t walk one time, my fueling strategy worked perfectly, my music kept me motivated and anytime my body started to ache I reminded myself that it’s a normal feeling during a race.

Today I ran the strongest half marathon ever and I owe that to the Run Less, Run Faster training program and the motivation of all of you! You’ve told me that I’m stronger than I thought for years and finally, I believe that too!

Bring it on Berlin, I’m ready and more pumped than ever before!

Follow: