Embracing The Treadmill

No one, I mean no one, truly likes the treadmill. But, unless you live in the PNW or California outdoor running isn’t a year round sport. There are seasons where outside isn’t always feasible and doesn’t always make sense to do. Add in factors like unlit running trails, safety and being tired of the cold and the treadmill is the only thing salvaging some runs.


This winter I learned to embrace the treadmill. Particularly with speed work. When I’m trying to hit truly hard (for me) paces it’s nice to just set the treadmill to that speed and go. No thinking involved. Especially appealing if I’m already mentally tired from work and life.

Set, (try to) forget it and zone out. And with the replacement of room temperature instead of the brutal cold, I’m not stopping every couple of minutes to blow my nose. It also holds my water for me and for days when my stomach is angry, there’s a bathroom a few feet away.

It is really, really boring but the treadmill has massive advantages. Skipping a run or slipping and falling on ice is far less ideal than being bored. And when I’m getting over a cold (a seasonal occurrence because I live in New York and am constantly around germy people), running out in the cold is just miserable/impossible.

How do I beat the boredom? The first key ingredient is breaking out my best of the best playlist, the one I only use for races and intimidating workouts. This keeps me distracted and happy. When I’m bored of that I think about the temperature outside and how miserable that is, I’m grateful to be indoors sweating it out inside of unable to feel my hands, feet and face. Another key ingredient is having a workout to do. Even if it’s just a warm up and then some uptempo work or varying easy-ish paces. It breaks it up and instead of 11 miles, it’s a warm up and then 1.25 miles, quick rest, another 1.25 miles, etc.


On a bitterly cold day, I’d much rather be sweating it out than slipping and sliding on snow and ice. I’m not an all-weather runner and you’ll likely never see me out there with microspikes on my running shoes. That’s perfectly okay. I’ll run in some brutal weather on occasion, but I also know that sometimes a run is simply going to be better and I’ll go longer if I’m indoors.

Even though it’s now spring, I’ve found the treadmill to be a powerful tool in my training. It makes speedwork mentally easier, it helps me test paces that I may not be able to hit on my own and gives me easy access to hills without a trek up to the park.

When do you use the treadmill instead of hitting the roads? What conditions make you stay inside?


NYC Half Recap

I signed up for this race 10 days in advance, which is pretty far in advance for me. I told myself, and everyone else I was running this for fun. I didn’t want the PR attempt pressure but secretly I wanted to chip away more time at a larger goal or maybe even hit it. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

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Friday night we picked up our bibs after Joe was finished with work (I took the day off to just relax). The expo was a little overwhelming for someone who doesn’t love crowds (yes, I know I live in New York City which means I should be used to them), but it was incredibly well organized. I was even able to get a corral change on the spot (I don’t do a ton of NYRR races so my last best time was much slower than my actual last best time).

We looked through the gear, took a couple of pics at the picture stops and headed to Trader Joe’s then home to relax.

Saturday was laid back, we prepped for the race, did a shake out run then headed into the city to run a quick errand then grabbed dinner at a cute little spot off 13th. One of my favorite things about living in the city, no shortage of great food options and all within 5-10 minutes of wherever you want. We got home around 8:30, I rolled out a bit then tried to get to sleep around 10:30.img_3417

I woke up race morning after getting the worst sleep of my life and went straight for the coffee. I drank my La Colombe Draft Latte and decided I’d go for broke today. I’d been somewhat preparing to do so and had a loose plan in mind, I’d keep it in the low 7s on the uphills and rip the downhills (my more muscular quads give me an advantage here). I don’t like planning out a pacing strategy too much, I prefer going by feel and knowing where I can play to my strengths (downhills and crowd support).

To get to the start, I took a cab to Prospect Park with Joe and Kurt which made it stress free and easy. The company also calmed the nerves. Within half an hour we were at the park. We checked our bags and warmed up. I felt ready minus that my coffee only woke me up and didn’t quite do its other job.

I got in the corral a bit early, I was planning to run faster than the fastest pacer in my corral and didn’t want to have to dodge people too much, especially on the downhill where I could bank time without interest.

I lined up with the 1:35 pacer knowing the first mile was uphill the goal was to pass them but not blow past them until the downhill. To be honest, I wasted a lot of energy passing people at the beginning. This is something I’ll want to reign in next time.

The first 4 miles I felt fantastic. I had all of the energy, and I was zooming. I saw my friends at the mile 4 water station just before heading up to the Manhattan Bridge – this was quite a boost, though I wish it had been at mile 10 or 11 where I desperately needed it. Heading up the Manhattan Bridge was hard, really really freaking hard but so cool. This bridge is really underrated and a lot of fun to run up even though it’s quite steep.

img_3523Running up the bridge I felt strong, but on the downhill my stomach fired off a warning shot. I knew this wasn’t good news so I slowed up a bit. My body wanted to go faster and my stomach screamed no, making the downhill pretty uncomfortable.

Next up was my least favorite part of the race, the lonely FDR drive stretch. It didn’t help that the mile markers here were WAY off.

53906710_10158470968957178_4930555213800013824_oI spent the next 2 miles searching for a port-a-potty. At mile 8 I spotted one and I cheered a little. I had resigned myself to the fact that I might have to make the side of the FDR a port-a-potty. By this point, I really had to apply the breaks to avoid that. 92 seconds later, I felt much better. I was starting to bonk a little and this is where I really should have taken a gel. I pushed through it but by mile 10 I was done mentally.

Going through Times Square is arguably the coolest part of the race, but by this point I was just ready to be done. I was really tired and didn’t truly get to enjoy it, especially not the incline at 42nd. For some reason, I really enjoyed that turn into the park, even knowing this would mean a LOT of hills. I saw Joe again for a brief second at mile 12.

Knowing his goal for the race meant I needed to get my behind in gear. I found a second wind for mile 12 but died again at mile 13 and had nothing to give on the uphill finish.

It wasn’t my best finish, and I didn’t feel strong on that last stretch.



This is a story of going out way too fast, and holding on for dear life. Is it a good strategy? Absolutely not. Did I learn to fight to hold on in a way I never would have to otherwise? Absolutely. Is that valuable? Absolutely.

I also tried something different this time. I didn’t look at my watch for the first few miles (except for the mile time), instead I went by feel.

While these splits are truly all over the place it is, ironically, a step in the right direction. Most ever sub-7 miles and despite mentally crashing at 9 and 10, I was able to rally a bit. My mental game clearly needs work but the other work is paying off.

Also worth noting; mile 12 was really somewhere around 7:08 – my GPS messed up a little, but the course was still about 0.10 to 0.15 long which is common with big races.

img_3426.jpgI’d highly recommend this half to anyone who isn’t afraid of potentially frigid weather (it can be in the 20s at the start and at best in the 40s), doesn’t mind a LOT of hills (360+ ft of gain) and isn’t from New York – I can’t imagine how cool it would be for a tourist getting to run through an empty Times Square. If you live here, it’s probably the coolest NYC course that’s only 13.1 miles and it’s logistically a breeze so I’d still recommend it if you’re going to be running long that day anyways.

What’s next? Figuring out how to really get in control of these stomach issues – hoping a more plant based diet helps. Sharpening up some shorter, short distance speed. Training for New Jersey Half and Brooklyn half with a couple of shorter races in the middle. And I’ll actually be tapering for these next two, so we’ll see how that part goes!

Cowtown Half Marathon Recap


For the past 3 winters that I’ve lived in New York, I’ve said February is the perfect time to go home and visit my parents. The weather is perfect in Texas right now and brutally cold in New York. This year I decided to go home for a nice relaxing and warm weekend. I lined up my trip with my hometown race as a fun way to get in a long run and do another big city race.

Training-wise, the last few weeks had been going really well but there wasn’t much training leading up to this race. Between recovering from Philly and then getting the flu I had about 6 weeks of speed work under my belt and one run over 12 miles. I had a peak week of 50 miles followed by 49 the week before race week. It was a very condensed “training cycle”.

Race week I was looking at this more of a rust buster than an all out, give it everything race. I got a late start to training so Brooklyn Half was my goal (still is!) race. I opted for a mini taper. I lowered my mileage race week and only did a Tuesday workout, leaving Thursday to just be a fun run. I also took an extra rest day. Tuesday I did 3×2 miles at my goal half pace-ish, these averaged around 7:10 and honestly it felt HARD. If I was going to hit 1:35 at Brooklyn, I had my work cut out for me. I followed this up with a legs-focused weights session at the gym (I aim to make my hard days really hard, easy-easy).

I was excited to head home for a nice, relaxing weekend and the race was sort of an after thought but something I was really excited for anyways – I really love races, I’m able to push myself so much better in this kind of setting than anywhere else and that’s feels good regardless of the result.

When I got on the plane Friday I was worried, my legs were STILL a bit sore from Tuesday. This was not a good sign. I spent the entire flight reading, forgot about my legs, and just relaxed. After an hour and a half delay and having not eaten much – I was more than ready for Tex Mex. My mom picked me up and we hopped around to a few restaurants, finally “settling” on a taco place for dinner – I had an entire bowl of queso and felt quite satisfied. We hung out for a bit, then got Joe from the airport around midnight.

Saturday we did a quick 4 mile shakeout run and I felt okay. I still didn’t have the usual calm and confidence that accompanies a good race for me. I felt flat, still. We headed to the expo to pick up our bibs and for me to register. If I can, I always register last minute for a race – you never know what may come up before the race; injury, illness and even just feeling crappy. I accidentally registered for the full marathon and for a split second I considered it but realized I’ve done ZERO distance training and that’d be a horrendous idea. I joked about it to Joe later who was not at all shocked when I came up and said, “so I registered for the full”.

We shopped around at the expo, got dinner with my parents then went back home to relax and prep for the race.


Joe and I talked about our race plans some but didn’t really study the course map or do too much planning. I was in the corral behind him and we weren’t planning to run similar paces at all so we decided to run separately. I figured I didn’t have much to lose here so I’d go out a bit faster than 7:15, then reign it in on the hills and just see how long I could hold on. I planned a pretty big positive split knowing that there were a couple downhills in the beginning and a boat load of massive uphills at the end (why?!).

Race morning I still felt eh but also pretty uptight and a little nervous. I had my usual clif bar and coffee (which did NOT help with the things it’s supposed to help with). I put on my lucky leggings and socks along with the rest of my gear, rolled out a bit, did my makeup, drank more coffee and then spent way too long in the bathroom trying to make things happen.

We all loaded up in the car, I had some water and munched on Pumpkin Spice cereal. Once we were near the start my mom dropped the three of us off and I dashed towards a porta potty with high hopes which were quickly dashed. This should be interesting, I thought. Time to just hope and pray because I don’t have the best track record here.

Joe and I finished our warm up and made our way to our respective corrals. I told him to just go for it. I quickly found the 3:10 marathon pacer and jumped in beside him. I felt eh the entire time I waited. None of the usual excitement or happy anxiety. I was mentally fatigued already.

At the start I flew past the 3:10 pacer as planned, downhills are an area I’m strong on and I needed to take advantage of this one. Mile one: 6:50. Faster than planned, but I felt fine. I reigned it in for the next mile. I still felt like I was struggling mentally but I faked a big smile and started genuinely enjoying myself until the first hill at mile 4. 7:19. Not bad, I thought. Let’s buckle up, run fast and hold on. I was on track for at least a 10k PR, I knew I needed that because then I could relax. As we approached the end of mile 5, we headed into the Stockyards. Admittedly a cool part of the race, but running on cobblestones for a mile was not something I was looking forward to. I first focused on flying to 6.2, I poured some more gas out of the tank. 6.2; 43:50 – I used the excitement from this to help me keep up the pace.

As we left the Stockyards, I welcomed the paved road again but was greeted with another big hill. I kept going, didn’t look at my watch and focused on making it up to the flat section. I could see the 8 mile marker ahead and at this point I was fading a lot mentally. I looked down once we hit that mile marker and saw that 1:32 was in reach if I could run 7 min miles the entire way home. It wasn’t realistic but I needed something to perk me up.

I could see *THE* hill in the distance. The mile 9 marker was a quarter of the way up that hill. At this point I was running mostly alone, save for a couple of guys here and there. I could see and feel the entirety of the hill. I found a good song and vowed to only look at my watch at the 9 mile mark, then not again until the hill was over. The climb was brutal, my glutes were exhausted already and by the end I wasn’t sure how much they had left.


At this point, I should have taken a gel but I didn’t trust my stomach. There weren’t quite enough port-a-potties for me to feel comfortable doing this.

We made the turn into downtown where there were a few spectators and it started to feel like the home stretch. I looked down at my watch and thought I could slow to 8 min miles and have a PR if I want to quit, and I really wanted to. I was mentally spent. I kept going strong knowing the spot my mom had picked out to look for us was coming up. I climbed up the last big hill and saw her there, I ran harder wanting to at least look like I was still doing okay. I had faded harder mentally and was counting down.

I let the energy from that carry me a little more. I had 2 miles left. My stomach grumbled at me. I had made the right choice not to take a gel. I pushed comfortably hard. Mile 12, it was time to kick it in. This mile was uphill but it didn’t matter, I was almost there.

My favorite part of any race is the finisher shoot. It’s the part where, no matter how tired or how exhausted I am, I find a second wind, a very fast second wind. With half a mile to go I started finding that wind. 1:33 is possible, you’ve got this – give it every last bit of energy. I thought of how I ran 6:50 pace for the last half mile of Philly – I sped up, glanced at my watch – sub-7, keep going, progressively speed up. I turned the last corner, saw the finish line and bolted.


1:33:34 isn’t a time I expected to see any time this year. I’d been training towards 1:35 in May. This was the first race, I’d really poured everything into. And it wasn’t an easy race. With almost 400 ft of elevation gain, most of which is in the back half, it’s the most challenging course I’ve raced.

img_3118-1With that said, it’s time to set goals for the year but at the same time I don’t want to hold myself to any number; I’ve found letting go of the numbers and just running works best for me. I went into 2019 not ready to set any goals but ready to work hard.

That said, this year I want to get into NYCM 2020 by time. I’ve run hundreds of miles through this city. It’s my new hometown race – I may not have grown up here, but I did grow up a lot here. The streets feel like home to me. I love the chaos of running through Chinatown, the solace of the Manhattan bridge, the energy during training season or a nice day on the West Side Highway, and the electricity of Central Park during Marathon week. What better way to embrace all the parts of this city than running 26.2 miles through it.