Moving Day – Meet My New Roommate!

Boxes

Hello Readers! I’m currently packing up my life and in the process of moving to a new apartment.

Highlight of the day, finding the 7 pairs of Asics Nimbus that I’ve acquired over the past 2 years –

Asics

While I’m schlepping boxes and getting sweaty, I have a special guest post from my new roommate. You might already recognize her from our cooking adventures or the Boston Marathon re-cap, but in any case – Meet Alma!

Hi Runner’s Kitchen Readers!  It’s Alma – Megan’s running buddy and new roommate. Megan and I actually met during a ½ Marathon last fall.  We were running side-by-side for most of the first five miles before we introduced ourselves and worked together to have a great race.  Now we’re Boston Marathon Finishers and Central Park Track Club teammates.

I’m a professional musician, performing and teaching in many different situations – including 14 concerts at Carnegie Hall!  Since my main instrument is the French Horn, and I am a relatively small person, I need to be in great physical condition to be able to play my best.  It takes A LOT of air to fill 27 feet of brass tubing!  This is where running comes in…

In this Guest Post, I’ll share the story of my journey from injury to fitness, but before I start, I’d like to share my usual breakfast. Most of the time, the first sound I hear after the alarm clock is the rumble of my tummy demanding food.  I answer my stomach’s call with stove-cooked oatmeal:

  • 1.5 cups 1% Milk
  • 1 cup (yes, a WHOLE cup) rolled oats
  • Dark Chocolate Chips (approximately 20)

I start by boiling the milk, and I add the oats just before the milk boils over.  If you’ve never boiled milk before BEWARE – do not take your eyes off of it!  After adding the oats, I stir and reduce the heat (about level 3-4 of 10 on my stove).  I let the oats cook 4-5 minutes, pour them into a bowl, and then add dark chocolate chips and stir until I have some nice, thick, and chocolaty goo.  Yum!  This breakfast contains 550-600 calories and is extremely filling.  To lighten it up (besides the obvious solution of cutting the portions of oats and milk) you could also cook the oats in water and add yogurt or a smaller amount of milk later.  I do this myself when I’m taking a week off or running lower mileage.  I would also like to add that, even if you’re trying to lose weight, don’t be afraid to eat a solid breakfast.  I’ve actually lost 10 pounds since I switched to eating a higher-calorie breakfast.  I’ve needed the extra calories to fuel an increase in running mileage (from about 25 to 35-50 miles per week)!

Chocolate oatmeal

Now, as promised, the story of my slow and gradual journey from being injured to being in the best shape of my life…  so far!  😉

Part I: In January 2008, I was pretty happy with how my running was going… I was running about 20-25 miles a week and had just run my best 5K since High School (21:17) and a Half-Marathon in 1:48:27.  Then disaster struck – I developed tendonitis in my right foot and was unable to run for more than two months.  I tried to make friends with the swimming pool, but still managed to get pretty out of shape.  In addition to losing fitness I was often crabby.  I had never before realized how important running was to maintaining balance in my life!

When I could walk without pain, my doctor said I could run for 4 minutes.  (Only 4 minutes!?!?!)  Two days later, I could do 5, two days later 6…Once I got to 10 minutes of running, I could add 2 more minutes at a time. When I reached 20 minutes, I could add 3 minutes of running at a time.  It was so frustrating!   Being patient paid off though, when about a month later, I could run for 30 minutes without pain.  From then on, I could increase my mileage normally (conventional wisdom says not to increase more than 10% every week and to include one reduced mileage week every 4 weeks or so).  Continuing to run every other day, I slowly increased my mileage and started to think about running faster.  In early June, I ran the NYRR Mini 10K in 49:08- 7:54 min/mile pace.  In a huge leap of faith, signed up to run the Philadelphia Marathon (to be run November 23rd).

alma new york mini 08

I continued to run 3-4 days a week, and run the occasional race.  My only goal was to be prepared to run the Marathon distance.  In early October, I ran a 1:42:12 (7:48 pace) at Grete’s Great Gallop (the Half Marathon where I met Megan!) and realized that I could do more than just finish the Marathon, I could qualify for Boston!  Even though I was feeling super fast and fit, I continued to run only 4 days a week.  My highest mileage week looked like this:

Monday: Off

Tuesday: 7 miles

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: 7 miles

Friday: Off

Saturday: 4 miles

Sunday: 20 miles

Total: 38 miles

When November 23rd came around, I ran a 3:38:55, more than a minute faster than I needed to qualify for Boston.

Alma Philadelphia Marathon

Part II: After the obligatory week off from running, I started to get excited about training for Boston!  Still mindful of the foot injury I had suffered nearly a year before, I felt that it would be OK for me to start running 5 days per week and to incorporate one quality workout every week.  I joined Megan’s club, the Central Park Track Club (CPTC) and started attending their road workouts on Thursday nights.  These workouts usually consisted of 4-8 miles of running at 10K to ½ Marathon pace in addition to a warm-up and a cool-down.  I also ran a few races during my Boston build-up, including the Coogan’s Salsa, Blues & Shamrocks 5K on March 1st where I lowered my 5K PR (personal record) to 20:24 on a hilly course, and the Colon Cancer Challenge 15K where I ran 1:05:42 (7:03 pace and also a PR)!  My highest mileage week (March 23-29) looked like this:

Monday: Off

Tuesday: 12

Wednesday: 6

Thursday: 10

Friday: Off

Saturday: 20

Sunday: 3

Total: 51

Megan (battling the same injury that she’s nearly recovered from now- fingers crossed!) and I ended up running Boston just to finish, in 3:47:46.  I’d never run a big city marathon before, and it was quite the experience!  I literally high-fived hundreds of people during the last few miles!

We finished!

Part III: The Boston course had really beaten up my body, and I had some lingering IT band issues, so I started my recovery with a week off, followed by 2 weeks of running 3-5 miles every-other-day.  At this point, with my next big goal, the ING New York City Marathon a whole 25 weeks away (!!!) I decided to have some fun and run a few shorter races.  I felt that now it would be safe for me to start running 6 days per week, and to incorporate a second “quality” workout to my training week.  So, I started to go to CPTC’s Tuesday track workouts.

My most recent goal was to run well at NYRR Team Championships, a 5-mile race where all of the New York area running clubs fight it out for bragging rights and double points in the Club Points Series.  I had a great race, covering 5 miles in 32:35 (6:31 pace). Here’s what my training schedule looked like 3 weeks before Team Championships:

Monday: Off

Tuesday: 8.5 including 6 x 600m @ 5K race pace

Wednesday: 4

Thursday: 9 including 2 x 2 miles @ 10K race pace

Friday: 3.5

Saturday: 5

Sunday: 14

Total: 44

Now that Team Championships are over, I’m looking forward to preparing more specifically for the Marathon again… although I’m definitely going to try to fit in a cross-country race and the Fifth Avenue Mile.

I wanted to share this story with you, the Runner’s Kitchen readers, because it proves that slow but steady does win the race.  When I began listening to Doctors’ and coaches’ advice and increased my mileage and intensity gradually and conservatively, I not only regained the level of fitness I had before I was injured, but greatly improved upon my previous level.  The 14 months it took be to get from not running to running 6 days a week were completely worth it because I was INJURY FREE the whole time (soreness doesn’t count, haha).  You can get faster and run longer – you just need to be smart about it.  When you combine smart training with adequate rest, cross/strength training, and healthy eating (Megan’s full of great ideas about that one!) you’re setting yourself up for healthy, happy, and sustainable running.  HAPPY RUNNING!

  • Hey Alma & Megan! Was just talking to Alex and he told me of this amazing coinkydink that you guys are moving in together today! What a small world! Hope the unpacking goes smoothly. Wishing you many happy miles together. 🙂

  • Evan Thomas

    I like the sound of that breakfast!

  • Georgiana

    Hey, Alma! Thanks for guest-posting and including pretty detailed mileage/times/workouts for weeks closer to race day. It’s super helpful.

  • Loved reading this! As a new runner I am so intrigued by how other people got into running/how they developed! Your story is great! I started off way too hard and got instantly injured so now I am trying to maintain a slow but steady attitude and it seems to be working so far!
    Thanks for an awesome post!