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!


Welcoming the Light Back

You guys, we DID IT! 5:44am EST  this morning was the winter solstice, which means that we’ve all made it through the darkest, shortest day of this impossibly dark and improbably long year. It only gets better from here! (Yes, solstice also heralds the official start of winter but we are a GLOGG-GLASS HALF-FULL kind of crowd so we’re going to focus on the positive.)


My family has been officially pre-gaming the return of light with our annual solstice bonfire for 19 years now and it is by far my favorite holiday. None of the uncomfortable genocidal legacies of Thanksgiving (I knowwwwww I am a buzzkill, blame it on the liberal arts education), none of the panicked 2am Amazon purchases of Christmas – just 6 pallets of wood, a whole mess of crockpots, and everyone I love gleefully setting things on fire.


You see, while solstice is a celebration of the earth’s inevitable tilt back toward the sun, we Deschenes-Desmonds are not ones to sit around waiting passively for the light to return. No, we let it know EXACTLY where to find us.


Right here, by the 20-foot flame


My family has spent YEARS perfecting their methods – Conor’s got his woodchopping stance down (“Pretend like you’re doing the worm standing up, Cait”), Dad knows all the best spots to collect last year’s discarded Christmas trees for maximum incendiary effect, and Mom’s horrified gasps have a nice bellows effect on the flames. And of course, on top of that enormous wall of fire you have the light emanating from the hearts of people who have known and loved each other for anywhere from 6 minutes to 6 decades.


Which brings us, naturally, to Team in Training. The world can seem very dark at times for my teammates and their loved ones. We have to put our faith in the belief that it’s only temporary, that a medicine or a transplant or a chemo regimen will work and our worlds will tilt back into the sun again. But unlike solstice, that’s not a guarantee – so it’s even more important that we don’t just wait. We huddle together in the dark with the people we love and show the light where to find us.


Right here, by the 20-person brunch table

You’ve been showing up the sun for 12 years now, but if you want to throw another Christmas tree on the fire, you know what to do. Thank you, dear hearts, for bringing the light to my life and the lives of so many others. Enjoy that extra ~90 seconds of sun tomorrow!


Love and lighter fluid,


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.

#TBT: It’s Really Cold in Boston This Time of Year

Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love Spandex Tights

Editor’s Note: Hello there! It’s me, FUTURE CAITLIN, popping in from the year TWO THOUSAND AND SIXTEEN. As you may recall, I’m trying to raise $12,000 to commemorate my 12 years running Boston with the Team. For each $1,000 I raise, I’ll be posting a throwback email from that year’s fundraising campaign. So to celebrate my first $1,000 please enjoy this vintage 2005 number, sent 11 years ago TO THE DAY. 

Marathon update, comin’ atcha! (For those of you whose email addresses
I have recently acquired and who may in fact still be wondering
“Caitlin WHO?”, here are the pertinent facts: 1. Deschenes-Desmond. 2.
I am running the Boston Marathon, and 3. Point 2 is contingent on my
raising at least $2500 by January 23rd.)

So, what have I been up to since I last emailed you? Well, I learned
to knit, but you can’t knit your way to the finish of the Boston
marathon, friends. So, I’ve also been running! A lot. I ran in the
snow on Thanksgiving morning, I ran along the Thames in London, and
I’ve recently been testing out my penguin waddle on the 3-inch-deep
ice around the Charles. I’m now up to around 35 miles a week, and my
long runs are up to 9 miles (I’m looking forward to the point when
they get long enough to justify one of those fannypack/toolbelt combos
loaded with gummy bears and Power Gu).

On the fundraising front, I have $305! If you’ve donated already, a
million thank yous to you! If you haven’t, well, this email isn’t just
to let you know I love spandex. Please, if you can, consider making a
donation! It is the season of giving, after all, and your money will
go straight to helping people who really need it (see www.lls.org).
Any amount is appreciated and, as I said before, will quite possibly
earn you a baked good  (ask those who have donated already, I make
good on my promises).

So again, here’s my website link: www.active.com/donate/tntma/cait

If you want to send me a check, you can do that too! Make it out to
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and mail it on over to:

Caitlin Deschenes-Desmond
20 Royce Road, Apartment 3
Allston, MA 02134

In conclusion, I wish everyone a season full of all the best TV
specials being on when you happen to be home, warmth, good food, belly
laughs, and love. I’ll email you again in a month!


2005 Caitlin, bless her mesh shorts-clad heart

Muscle-ing Through Another Marathon Metaphor

Yes indeed, it’s that time of year! But before we get started let’s just…c’mere.

PHEW. I needed that. Guys I don’t have to tell you that it has been a YEAR. We lost Bowie, we lost Prince, we lost our collective minds over this presidential election. I know no matter where you fall on the spectrum, politically or musically, it has been a difficult 12 months. It’s seemed increasingly hard for us to find the good in the world and each other.

As a professional marathon metaphor-maker and scrounger of silver linings I think I’ve found a way to look at this all that might help. It won’t bring Bowie back from that spaceship he’s jamming on somewhere out in the far reaches of the universe, or help you navigate conversations with the nation’s uncles this Thanksgiving, but I hope you’ll find it comforting. I sure have.

You know how muscles grow? (Because I’m making a point here, I’ll assume you don’t and have been sprinkling your biceps with whey powder, please bear with me). In order get your muscles to do something they are not naturally inclined to do, you have to break them down. There’s no way around it. It’s painful. But when you do, the injured muscle fibers send out an SOS and satellite cells rush in to repair them, making them stronger in the process.

Marathon training requires that you dedicate several hours a day to breaking your muscles down, so I’ve had a lot of time to think about how this applies to the rest of my life – how I’ve grown by doing difficult things, sure, but also WHY I’ve chosen to do them. Like pretty much everything else, it comes down to love. Love is what challenges us to do difficult things, and also what makes us capable of doing them. My teammates are doing a very hard thing because it will help the people they love, and they’re able to do it because of the love that buoys them along the way, the human satellite cells that rush in to support them and help them grow to meet the challenge. And that I think is the other important lesson we can learn from our muscle fibers. You don’t grow if you’re only ever breaking yourself down, and you don’t do it alone.

The TEAM has always been a place that’s helped repair the tears in my life, even as my actual hamstrings are being ground to dust. It’s always where I’ve gone to find the good in the world, and myself, and I am so glad to be a part of it for one last year. Yep, after over a decade it’s time for these fundraising muscles to take a break! But before they do, I’m trying one last difficult thing. My goal is to raise $12,000 this year, $1,000 for each year I’ve run. So, my favorite group of human satellite cells – can you help?

Good luck this weekend, you adorable flock of turduckens. If you find yourself doing difficult things (like, say, discussing immigration policy with Uncle Bob) remember to tackle them with love and plenty of recovery time.

Love and an ice pack on the couch,


Running Towards

Today is the third anniversary of the 2013 Boston Marathon. It is also One Boston Day, and if you think I’m not going to give you several paragraphs worth of feelings with some fervent praise of Body Glide sprinkled throughout well then my friend, you haven’t been getting these emails for very long.

In the immediate aftermath of the bombings three years ago, I don’t remember being angry or scared (although I’m sure I was at least one of those). I just remember quiet, and in that quiet feeling how acutely connected and impossibly grateful I was to the people around me.

That connection is what makes us humans so beautiful, despite our tendency to use hoverboards in malls. When we are hurt, or scared, we find each other. When the fear fades, and sometimes even before, our instinct is to run the people who need us. That’s why on April 15th, 2013 you saw people – not just first responders but spectators – running towards the explosions instead of away. It’s why One Boston Day exists, why Team in Training exists. They give us a way to run toward the people who need us most.


It’s been three years and I am still impossibly grateful for the love and support you’ve given me. Your generosity has allowed me (quite literally) to run toward the people who need our help for going on 11 years now. Because of you, I met my fundraising minimum months ago. Because of you, Zac is well on his way to raising $50,000 and honoring his father’s memory by funding research that will help thousands of others. I know I say thank you every one of these emails, but the amount of gratitude I feel honestly makes my heart so full it hurts.

So before I go into cardiac arrest, let’s talk Body Glide! It is projected to be a chafe-friendly 70-degrees out there on Monday, which means that I will be shimmering my way to the finish line under a protective coating of gloop that would make Slimer green(er) with envy. In addition to a three-inch layer of Body Glide, I will also be sporting a purple singlet and the number 18510 – if you’re going to be on the course, give a holler and let me know where to look! If you aren’t, you can always track me online.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go run around this city and tell it I love it.


#ThrowbackThursday right into #FlashbackFriday

Hey guys, want to know what I love even MORE than a montage?? A FLASHBACK. And the start of my 10th season with Team in Training is JUST the occasion! Join me, friends, as we hypno-twirl, twirl, twirl back in time…



THE YEAR WAS 2005. Gold Digger was topping the charts (note that this is also FORESHADOWING since I will be asking for your money later. Employing every literary device in the book! Who said my time as an English major was wasted?). Facebook was only a year old, and so was Chris Mario (probably). I had just moved to Boston and experiencing that particular brand of panicked loneliness so common among the recently dorm-evicted. Sure, I knew La Giunta, but only barely and she scared the living daylights out of me. I was desperately in need of friends.



Then, inspired by one semi-successful 8-mile run in 10th grade, several strong beers, and Anna, I joined Team in Training. Hooooo boy you guys, I was a MESS. I ran in mesh shorts, I didn’t understand the concept of cross-training, and bless my own heart I didn’t bcc a soul on my first fundraising email (a review of artifacts from the era shows I was also referring to “the Facebook” unironically and receiving Friendster notifications on the reg, so let’s just say I didn’t have the most sophisticated grasp of social media).





I learned a lot about running that first year (the impact the discovery of BodyGlide has had on my life cannot be overstated), but what kept me coming back is what I learned about generosity. I was overwhelmed by it. I saw it in the stories my teammates told of how friends and family had rallied around them after their diagnosis. I saw it in the support I felt as a first-time runner who knew nothing and no one. And I saw it in the donations and emails that poured in from family and friends not yet weary of seasonal puns and paeans to Gu.


That generosity has stayed constant over the years, even as nearly everything else has changed. I still regard La Giunta with equal parts admiration and terror, for instance, but she’s now my friend AND roommate. My mesh-to-spandex ratio has COMPLETELY flipped, thank goodness, and I have finally mastered the art of the bcc. What’s changed  the most, though, are my reasons for running. There are still the friends and the miles of course, but there’s also Tarsh and Richard and Larry and Ann, and countless others who need more help and more hope. In the past 9 years you’ve helped me raise over $27,000. This year, can we make it to $30,000?


Love and one last contemporary jam to let you know how much I’ve missed you,