Week 5 Training Recap

Hello darlings! Before we get started on this week’s workouts, a quick fundraising update. We just hit $3,000 which means we are 25% of the way to goal! I’ll continue filling up your feeds with Prince posts but don’t worry – if that’s not enough of an incentive to donate, you’ve got other options!

Saturday, February 4th, we’ll be having the 4th Annual High Kicks for Hope Dance-a-Thon at the Green Briar. For those who have attended this Sara Collins Special in the past, you know you watching Eric and Courtney Zawada perform is itself worth the price of admission ($20, in case you were curious), but we’ll also have raffle prizes and judges wearing bedazzled hats. Hope to see you and your dancing shoes there!

Monday (Track) – 5 x 1000 @ 4:10, 400 recovery between laps

Actual: 4:10, 4:10, 4:10, 4;10, 4:07 (7.8 miles total)

Why, look at that remarkable consistency! Did I finally crack the code on pacing? No. I looked at the Weather Channel app and decided a “feels like 3 degree” was a “feels like time for my first treadmill run of the season.”  The 1.4 mile jog to the gym was more than enough to confirm that I’d made the right decision.

Our coaches always tell us to put the incline at 1.0 to mimic wind resistance, even though I think the mental torture of running on a treadmill mimics wind resistance just fine, so I propped myself up to a 10 degree angle and started huffing through it. For someone who spent 4 years as an analyst, it took me an embarrassingly long time to do the long division required to figure out my desired mph (that last repeat was a panicked bet-hedge in case I’d done my math wrong).

It definitely feels hard to run this pace, so I’m a little nervous about holding it for a full mile in a couple weeks, but I guess that’s the point?

Tuesday (Easy) – 6 miles @ 8:45-9:15

Actual: 6.3 miles @ I don’t know but it felt fast. Let’s say 8?

Saturday’s long run with the team (and Monday’s treadmill run in isolation) made me so hungry for company that I was willing to get up PRIOR TO FIVE ANTE MERIDIUM to join my former teammate and running buddy Keith for a turn around the Charles. Totally worth it.

Sorry about the creepy red murder text Keith, the people need a visual aid.

I try to avoid women’s magazines to whatever extent possible, but I will say that the tip I’ve seen in many to sleep in your workout clothes really DOES make it easier to get out of bed and out the door. (Next up, seeing if sleeping in a dress and tights means I get to work on time).

Wednesday (Tempo): 9 miles, 6 @ 7:40

Actual: 9.2 miles, 6 @ 7:35

My friend Rohit told me a couple months ago that Boston is one of the windiest cities in the US, and after this run yeah, I’d concur (looks like peerless weather source currentresults DOT COM backs me up). You hear that, Chicago? You can have our Marios, but you can’t have EVERYTHING.

Thursday (Easy) – 7 miles @ 8:45-9:15

Actual: 7 miles @ 9:00 

Another jaunt through the Newton hills, another hour spent wondering how on earth I’ll be able to maintain a 7:40 pace up Heartbreak (current strategies under consideration include having Bree stand at the top with a giant milkshake).

Friday (Long): 12 miles @ 8:15

Actual: 12 miles @ 9:30(ish) 

Just over a 50k away from living in a country led by a panda-hugging feminist. Tempting, but it’s a little outside my training plan/contractual friendship agreement with Chris Mario.

I grew up skiing but I’m not willing to risk joint integrity with so much training on the line, so I spent this weekend’s group ski trip to Sugarloaf going up mountains instead of down them. Besides, I actually ran the Sugarloaf Marathon a few years back so it seemed like a good opportunity to revisit my old wheezing grounds.

The Schmanson Plan only has a “long” run every other week, meaning this was my week to run a little bit longer a little bit faster. I’m trying to hit my paces no matter what kind of terrain I’m running on, but leaving a house with a fireplace, hot tub, and 3 pounds of bacon cooking to run up a mountain in the cold was effort enough. I’m not going to concern myself  with speed on top of that. Besides, I had a couple watch false starts so that estimate of a 9:30 pace is based on the statistically insignificant sample of 3.25 miles on the way out and 1.37 on the way back.

Saturday (Rest)

Actual: 5 mile hike + one VERY vigorous fall out of a hot tub and some ice cream making (active rest)

It turns out 36 hours straight of playing drinking Jenga and eating bacon is enough to give even the most satisfied cabin-dwellers cabin fever, so we rolled out to explore the landscape. And boy am I glad we did!

We were tromping our way through the woods towards what the map told us was Stratton Brook Hut, when a lady snowshoeing in the other direction stopped us to let us know that if we were heading to the hut the lentil soup was really outstanding that day. Quaaaaaa??? I was picturing a ramshackle assemblage of sticks, not the kind of place you’d expect to find a friendly staff slinging soup. We picked up the pace.

Expectations vs. reality

The soup, and the hut, were even better than we’d hoped. In addition to lentil soup, they also had beer, free coffee, gender-neutral composting bathrooms, and a VERY instructive library of children’s books.

A question I ask myself every day

I could gladly have relocated there permanently, but the hot tub was calling so we slid our way back down the most direct route of descent. Which turned out to be useful practice for my own slide down the most direct route of descending the iced-over hot tub stairs later that afternoon. I rebounded quickly (LIT’RALLY) with no evidence of traumatic brain injury, and rounded out my day of active rest with some ice cream ball crossfit.


Sunday (Easy): 5 miles @ 8:45-9:15

Actual: 5 miles @ 10:00

In preparation for the 4.5 hour drive back home, I skidded down the mountain one more time to stretch my legs out and see what hidden treasures my iTunes library holds. I don’t normally listen to music while I run, but I had discovered on Friday that while dodging logging trucks wasn’t enough to distract me from the 20mph winds, exploring a playlist I haven’t updated since Obama’s first term did the trick. This run yielded such back-to-back hits as: Paul Simon live in Central Park, vintage Kanye, and Foxborough’s own JoJo.



HOW’RE WE DOING: My legs are sore as the dickens, but I’d attribute that mostly to doing 17 of this week’s miles on a sheet of ice.


Week 4 Training Recap

Hey buddies! Before we get started yes, thank you so much, it IS my monthiversary with the Schmanson Plan (I believe the monthiversary is Gu, if you’re looking to get any gifts). I wouldn’t say we’re in the honeymoon phase, per se, but my legs are still attached to my body so it’s still looking pretty rosy, all things considered.

I hit a roadblock this week in the form of a mayyyybe stomach bug, but one of the best lessons I’ve learned over the past 12 years of running is how to chill the eff out when I miss a few miles . So while I ended up a little short of my weekly mileage goal, I’m feeling good about where I’m at. Let’s see how it went!

Monday (Track) – 6 x 800 @ 3:20, 400 recovery between laps

Actual: 3:17, 3:16, 3:21, 3:21, 3:19, 3:20 (9 miles total)

For those of you keeping track, Monday was January 2nd, which is one day after New Year’s Day, which is not QUITE enough time to feel fully refreshed after 3 days of drinking wine like a disenchanted royal on Game of Thrones. It also didn’t help that on our drive back from Sunday River that morning I polished off an entire box of wasabi soy sauce Triscuits. But I got out to the track when we got home anyway, and I’m going to go ahead and call it as my top accomplishment of 2017.


It felt terrible, of course, but I was still able to hit most of my splits (and avoid hitting any of the gaggle of BMX biking youths charging down the straights).


Tuesday (Easy) – 6 miles @ 8:45-9:15

Actual: 6 miles @ 9:00 

One of the benefits of living close to the course is that I get to run Heartbreak whenever I want. By the time we get to April I’ve covered it forwards and backwards dozens of times, and although there’s really no way to prepare for the smell of the Sausage Cart at Mile 20, I’ve gotten my body ready for just about everything else. As a bonus, hills are also an excellent way to make sure I stick to my easy run pace!


Wednesday (Tempo): 9 miles, 6 @ 7:40

Actual: NOPE

There’s been a stomach bug tearing through town, and I woke up feeling queasy to texts confirming that the two people I share the most airtime with had been felled by it, so I held off on a run. Instead, I set about letting any lurking virus know I wasn’t scared by eating whatever wholly inappropriate foods I could find (fish curry, green apples, three-week-old bacon, ETCET). The “don’t let it smell your fear” approach seems to have worked, because all of the food I put in my body stayed there.


Thursday (Easy) – 6 miles @ 8:45-9:15

Actual: Also nope. 

Warding off a stomach bug through sheer power of will takes a lot out of you.


Friday (Easy): 8 miles @ 8:45-9:15

Actual: Tempo – 6 miles @ 7:35, 9.2 miles total 

Two rest days and 18 hours of sleep later, I was ready to tackle this week’s tempo run. And aside from the 17 impromptu tap numbers brought on by black ice patches, it felt GREAT.

Up and down the Charles

The rest probably played a big part in it, but I think my legs are also finally getting used to running this tempo which means my brain can go on its usual meander instead of keeping up a constant stream of “Run faster run faster run FASTER.”


Saturday (Easy): 8 miles @ 8:45-9:15

Actual: 10 miles @ 8:35


Oh my gosh, it is SO NICE to run with other people. This was my first TEAM run since early kickoff, and only the second I’ve done with any kind of company, and with actual conversational partners 10 miles felt like a spin around the block. So yes, blah blah blah training, but let’s get to the important stuff.

First, puppies. One of our new teammates brought this lil buddy to waterstop for us. His Gatorade pour could use some work, but he gets an A+ in the morale boosting department.

This is a REAL LIVE DOG and I will love him forever.


Second,  and more importantly, Sarah.

Our pre-run dedication this week came from Sarah Lucas, who has been running for her friend Heather, a stand-up comedian and tall drink of water from Denver who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2015. As Sarah’s friends, we’ve all been following Heather’s fight since the diagnosis – through two bone marrow transplants, increasing challenges and setbacks, and finally her hope to join a clinical trial in LA January 3rd. So when Sarah found out Heather had passed away December 31st, it felt like a punch in the chest even to those of us who hadn’t known her personally. For those who did, I can’t imagine the pain.

The reason we run as a team is to keep the people we love alive. Not just by raising money that might save lives, but by telling, and listening to, their stories. When my teammates get up and talk about who they’re running for, they talk about that PERSON. Not just their illness, or their fight against it, but the funny, loving, weird, annoying, wonderful, whole human that they are. I know the stories of the people my long-time teammates are running for as well as if I’d known them myself, and I’ll never forget them. So thank you to Sarah, for sharing Heather’s story, and letting us share in some of the light that she gave to the world.




Sunday: Rest Day

Actual: Rest Day

All that brings us to today! Before I go dive face-first into a platter of sushi and Benedict Cumberbatch’s mind-boggling deduction skills, just let’s all give someone we love a hug and tell them their hair looks great and they always make us laugh. And if you want to help keep someone else’s story alive: Sarah’s fundraising page.



HOW’RE WE DOING: Super. Ask me next week after I do a full 6 days of runs (including another one up a ski mountain – when will I learn!)


Week 3 Training Recap

Happy 2017, everyone! I hope you’ve shaken off the dust and grumbles of 2016 and are moving champagne-full and fancy free into a new year. I spent mine on top of a mountain playing board games with 95% of my favorite people on earth so it was grand indeed.

My liver and I put equal amounts of work into filtering this weekend

I was pretty proud of myself for actually getting all my scheduled runs in this week – I mean, yes, I guess I had LITERALLY nothing else to do, but nothing can be so, so appealing.

Monday (Track) – 8 x 600 @ 2:30, 400 recovery between laps

Actual: 2:25, 2:24, 2:28, 2:29, 2:29, 2:31, 2:27, 2:27 (9.5 miles total)

I don’t know what the geese who populate Lane 1 of the Harvard Track are eating but let me tell you what, it is going RIGHT through them.


Tuesday (Easy) – 6 miles @ 8:45-9:15

Actual: 7.5 miles @ 9:15 (6, gym, 1.5)

My pre-run brunch of coffee and 6 handfuls of walnuts probably had Nancy Clark rolling in her tracksuit, and with good reason. I  felt AWFUL (and thought I’d learned my lesson, til I pre-gamed this week’s track workout with a box of wasabi and soy sauce Triscuits).


Wednesday (Tempo): 9 miles, 6 @ 7:40

Actual: 9.2 miles, 6 @ 7:33

I ate a respectable 3 lbs of potatoes on Tuesday night, which turned out to be a MUCH better strategy. I also figured out where the 2 and 4 mile marks were on my tempo run route and used those to avoid unnecessary sprinting. It’s amazing to me, now that I’m tracking my pace for the first time, what a difference a few seconds per mile can make. This 7:33 felt completely different (in a good way) than the 7:27 from last week.


Thursday (Easy) – 6 miles @ 8:45-9:15

Actual: 4.5 miles @ 8:15 (3, gym, 1.5)

Unrelated to running, but I’ve been trying some “fun” new core workouts and I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to our downstairs neighbors for the thunderous bellyflops I inflicted on them in the course of trying to get the first exercise here. Turns out if you can barely do a pushup, you should maybe work on that before trying to leap into one from a plank!


Friday (Long): 10 miles @ 8:15

Actual: 10 miles @ 8:13 

I was leaving for Sunday River for New Year’s Friday, so I bumped my long run from Saturday to Friday. Despite only having a day between my tempo run and this (and despite covering lit’rally every hill on the course forward and backward) it felt pretty good! It seems that perhaps this dedicated approach to training thing is starting to pay off.


Saturday (Easy): 6 miles @ 8:45-9:15

Actual: 5 miles & who even knows, let’s call it a conversational pace

The house we rented was halfway up a mountain, so this run was about 1/3 sliding down it and 2/3 coasting through the slush at the bottom, but it was wonderful because it was with Anna.

As you can tell by the photo montage I’ve put together here, Anna is one of my oldest and dearest friends, and the fact that she is now back from her 7-year surgical residency in Tennessee brings me INEXPRESSIBLE joy (well, inexpressible except through photo montages and turning into a living heart emoji when I see her).  And what Anna and I do when we are happy, or sad, or really anything besides sleeping, is run. Running is what started and cemented our friendship, and after weeks of spending my runs calculating mile times it was wonderful to just throw pace out the window and spend it talking about life with someone I love.



Sunday: Rest Day

Actual: Rest Day

I mean, I did go on a vigorous walk up a mountain, but that was 1 hour out of 23 spent draping myself on various items of furniture.



HOW’RE WE DOING: GREAT. Nutritional missteps aside, the hard runs felt challenging but not impossible

and my legs have stopped aching 24/7. I’ve got one more week before the mileage jumps up again, and it feels like I’m starting to get the hang of this. So let’s grab a 10 lb bag of taters and see how it feels!

Week 2 Training Recap

Week 2 of the Schmanson Plan is IN THE BOOKS! Before we dive in, a quick note on how I’ll set these up. I’ll do Monday – Sunday, since my brain is used to adding up mileage that way, and put the distance/pace I’m supposed to do for each day in bold. What I ACTUALLY end up doing will be below in italics (you’ll be able to tell because I wrote “Actual” in front of it. Ehhhhh??). This week and next will look a little wacky because of traveling, but ideally there won’t be too much difference between the two. Let’s see how it went, shall we?


Monday (Track) – 12 x 400 @ 1:40, 400 recovery between laps

Actual: 1:36, 1:41, 1:38, 1:37, 1:38, 1:37, 1:38, 1:34, 1:37, 1:38, 1:40, 1:34 (10.5 miles total)

You’d think having this stuck in my head for all 24 laps would have helped me really dial in my cadence, but my splits were all over the place. Still, I’m happy with a 1:37 average!


Tuesday (Easy) – 6 miles @ 8:45-9:15

Actual: 6 miles @ 8:40 (with a break at the gym to benchpress and glower at the dude occupying 8 exercise stations simultaneously)

Since Tuesdays and Thursdays are shorter runs, I try to fit some verrrry rudimentary strength training in on those days. I’ll do a 4.5 mile run that ends at my gym, lift for ~30 minutes, and run home.


Wednesday (Tempo): 9 miles, 6 @ 7:40

Actual: 9.2 miles, 6 @ 7:27

My goal for these runs is to eventually be able to just go by feel, instead of reminding myself constantly that I need to be RUNNING FAST. Part of the problem is that I don’t run with a GPS watch, so to calculate my pace I try to remember how many minutes it took me to get to a random crack in the sidewalk along the Charles last week and I inevitably choose the wrong sidewalk crack, or forget to carry a 1, leading me to believe I’ve been running an 11 minute mile and need to sprint to make up for it. Next week, I’m going to figure out where the 2- and 4-mile benchmarks are BEFORE I start running so I can check my pace at those.


Thursday (Easy) – 6 miles @ 8:45-9:15

Actual: 6 miles @ 9:28 (4.5, gym, 1.5)

I have a feeling Thursdays are going to be on the slow side. I’m not too stressed about hitting my target pace for easy runs, especially early on in training when my body is getting used to doing track and tempo runs in quick succession.


Friday (Easy): 6 miles @ 8:45-9:15

Actual: 6.75 miles @ 10:28 (2 full hill repeats + 2 jaunts up and down the Summit Path stairs)

I’ve been going to November Project sporadically for a few years now. The workouts will beat you UP so I tend to back off during marathon training, but there is nothing like doing repeats up Summit Ave to make Heartbreak look like a heart-piece-of-cake (oof. sorry.) Besides, it meant I got to hug George Street Alumni and transcendent beauty Kori Kindya. How she manages to make running (and trashcans) look so glamorous at 6:30 in the morning is a mystery to me, but I certainly do appreciate basking in the glow.



Saturday (Easy): 8 miles @ 8:45-9:15

Actual: Rest Day


Well, active rest if you count the number of times I got up to refill my wine glass. There really is no place like home for the holidays!


Sunday (Easy): Rest Day

Actual: 2.5 miles @ 9:22

I’d done pretty long runs early in the week, and I don’t want to jump up in mileage too quickly, so I just ran whatever would get me close to the Week 2 plan total.  It was also convenient in that my parent’s house is on top of a ridge and 1.25 miles is the most I can run in any given direction without involving a hill.




HOW’RE WE DOING: Well, everything hurts but nothing hurts BADLY, so I think it’s going okay! I’ve been hitting all my paces with time to spare, so now it’s just a matter of trying to make that happen with less panic-driven sprinting. Stay tuned next week to see how that, and my attempt to fit in an “easy” run up the side of a ski mountain, goes!

Introducing the Schmanson Plan

Buckle in, buddies! Today, believe it or not, we’re actually going to talk about RUNNING.

I know you wouldn’t know it from the past 12 years of emails, but there’s more to this Team in Training thing than spandex and brunch. There’s actually some training involved! I don’t talk about that aspect a lot, both because mile splits are supremely boring to non-runners and because I can never seem to keep track of them. This year, though, I’m going to give it a whirl.

Since 2017 is going to be my last year with the team, I’d like to try for a PR not just in fundraising but in actual running as well. Friend and Fitness Goddess Sarah Lucas hipped me to what I will henceforth to avoid copyright infringement claims be referring to as the Schmanson Plan, which several of our buddies have used to bound gazelle-like over the finish line and their previous personal bests. Writing things down helps me with accountability and I think I have enough runner friends at this point in my life that some of you might find it interesting, so I’ll post weekly updates here on how it’s going!

Ready? Grab a Gatorade and let’s go through the basics.

The Plan

The Schmanson Plan is an 18 week program comprised of four basic types of runs:

  1. Speed/Strength (Mondays): Early on in the program this is track repeats, building in interval distance each week. About halfway through you switch into strength mode, which is longer repeats at a slightly slower pace.
  2. Tempo (Wednesdays): The tempo runs give you a chance to practice running at your marathon pace. These start at 6 miles and build to 10.
  3. Long (Saturdays): Unlike most plans, the Schmanson Plan never has you running more than 16 miles at a time. The theory is that because you’re doing heavy mileage on the other days of the week leading up to your long run, that 16 mile run is going to feel like the last 16 miles of the marathon. You also only do runs at a “long run” pace every other Saturday; the other Saturdays you do long runs at an easy (slower) pace. Which brings us to…
  4. Easy (Everything in between): The rest of your runs range from 6-10 miles, and you do them at 1-2 minutes slower per mile than your marathon goal pace. For someone whose previous approach to training was “run…faster?” having built-in “run SLOW” days is a real blessing.

I’m not much of a plan person (cue Biggins nodding emphatically), but I’m going to try to stick to this one with minimal modifications. When I do have to change things up, I’ll try to do so in a way that still allows me to hit my weekly mileage.  I’m also going to throw some weights and core in there, since I’ve found that without them I end up running the last 6 miles of the marathon at a strong right angle.

Rare footage of the author emerging from the Mass Ave overpass

The Pace

You base your pace for each of the four types of runs on your goal marathon time, which for me is going to be 3 hours and 20 minutes. I picked it because it’s not crazy far off my previous PR (3:26 in the 2014 Baystate Marathon), and looking at the track/tempo/long run paces associated with that goal time didn’t give me a heart attack – I’ve run close to them before. I’m doing the Hyannis half marathon in February, so I’ll be able to see if I’m on track or need to re-adjust.

One other note about this goal – I’ve run Boston enough to know that you can’t out-train a nor’easter, a heat wave, or a particularly aggressive bike wheel, so if I don’t actually run a 3:20 on April 17th, I’ll be okay. I just want to train enough to know I could.

The Prep

A 3:20 marathon means running a 7:40 minute mile, which is a good bit speedier than my off-season waddle. And it’s not just the pace – the Schmanson Plan STARTS at 40 miles a week, so I had to do some solid base-building just to get ready for training.

When I started in mid-October, I was running about 25 miles a week at a pace that allowed me to – just barely – stay ahead of the Brighton can collecting crew . I was most concerned about increasing my mileage without getting hurt and trying to run a 7:40 pace for *any* amount of time, so I started there.

I bumped a couple of my typical 3-5 mile runs up to 6-8 miles and started doing one tempo run a week, beginning with 5 minutes of fast running stuck in the middle of a longer run (listen, I watched Everest – I am NOT about to die on the slopes because I didn’t take time to acclimatize). I inched both of those up a little each week until I was running ~40 miles a week and doing 45 minutes at tempo. Which catches us up to today!


Week 1 of the Schmanson Plan is just three 6-mile runs, which is not an adequate on-ramp to doing a 10 mile track workout if you ask me, so I did my own thing.

Sunday 12/11 (Yulefest 5k)

Goal Pace: 7:05 (22:00 total)/Actual: 6:50 (21:13 total)

I ran a faster than I thought, got a sweet hat, and most importantly defeated a man in a T-Rex costume.

Crushed him

Monday 12/12 (Track): 8×400 w/400 recovery (8.5 miles total)

Goal Pace: 1:40/Actual: Something around that

I do track workouts on the outdoor track at Harvard, so I run there and get a 2.25 mile warm-up and cooldown. (I’m assuming if you read this far you are someone who understands the importance of logging your runs to the hundredth, so I won’t apologize for it here). This was my first track workout in months and although I hit my target pace it was a STRUGGLE.


Tuesday 12/13 (Easy): 2.8 miles



Wednesday 12/14 (Tempo): 9 miles, 6 at tempo

Goal Pace: 7:40/Actual: 7:27

The devious thing about tempo runs is that they also include a 1.5 mile warm-up and cooldown (I don’t track my pace for those). I got all the way up to 6 miles for the tempo part of my tempo run this week, and if I can learn to pace a little better instead of panic flapping my way around the Charles, I might actually enjoy it.


Thursday 12/15 (Easy): 7.5 miles

Goal Pace: 8:45-9:15/Actual: 8:50

I spent the first half of this run gliding on the wings of an eagle, convinced I should start targeting a 3 hour marathon. Then I turned around and directly into a 25 mph headwind.


Friday 12/16 (Easy): 0 miles (VERY easy)

It was like -45 degrees, I went to hot yoga. Not shattering your IT band is a critical component of a strong training schedule.


Saturday 12/17 (Easy): 8 miles

Goal Pace: 8:45-9:15/Actual: 10:00

I was home in Barkhamsted for solstice, which means that I was decked out in a headlamp set to strobe and a second reflective vest before setting foot out the door (thanks Dad). To everyone’s surprise, I made it through a full 8 miles and several axe-wieldings with 0 casualties.

IMG_2334 (1).jpg




Phew! One week down, 17 to go.