A How-To Guide for Holiday Races

On Saturday, I ran the Ted Corbitt 15k in Central Park. I came thisclose to bailing on the race (it was early! cold! why did I sign up for this again?), but I got myself to the starting line in one piece. My whole m.o. for December running has been to maintain a good base (40-50 miles per week), but more importantly to enjoy the holiday season. Late January through April will be dedicated to Boston Marathon training, so I’m trying to let loose a little now. I want to make sure I’m fresh and ready to put in miles and hard work when the time comes.

Obviously, this 15k wasn’t a goal race, but I was pleasantly surprised with how things shook out. Despite the 5 hours of sleep I got the night before, my legs felt springy on my warm-up. At the starting line, I decided to start on the slower side and see how I felt. My first 3 miles were around 7:15 pace and felt relaxed. I brought the middle miles down to about 7:00 pace, and then finished up with some 6:50 and 6:45 miles. Of course, all of these mile times are estimates since I don’t race with a Garmin and let’s be honest….my mid-run math skills are a little fuzzy. Anyway, I finished the 15k course in 1:05:10 (7:01 pace) which is quite a bit faster than my previous “PR” (1:06:51 in March 2010). The last few miles were quick, but I felt relaxed the whole time and didn’t really “dig deep”. Part of me wishes that I had started out faster and fully raced the entire event, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel and didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself. Talking about races on the blog and setting high expectations for myself can be a good way to hold myself accountable, but it’s also a big risk. If I put myself out there and don’t meet my goal (ahem Philadelphia Half-Marathon), it’s a huge blow to my confidence and major bummer to explain what happened. Obviously, setting the bar low isn’t always the best decision, but sometimes removing the pressure and just  racing by feel can be a lot of fun. And I did have a lot of fun on Saturday! Even though it took near Herculean efforts to drag myself out of bed, by the time I was running the first mile, I was reminded of how much I enjoy running fast, especially when my legs are feelin’ good! The next day’s run felt completely fine, not a bit of soreness, which is very encouraging! If I can run 7:01 pace for 15k and have it feel not so hard, I suppose I’m in okay shape.

I hit the high 40’s last week in terms of mileage, which is exactly where I wanted to be.

Monday, December 12 – 7 miles p.m.

Tuesday, December 13 – 7.5 miles p.m. w/ 3 miles @ HM pace

Wednesday, December 14 – 5 miles a.m., 60 minutes yoga p.m.

Thursday, December 15 – 7.5 miles a.m. run commute

Friday, December 16 – 3 miles during lunch break

Saturday, December 17 – 12 miles total, including 15k at 7:01 pace

Sunday, December 18 – 6 miles a.m.

Total: 48 miles

Of course, Saturday’s PR could have also been a result of my stellar race week preparation. I began hydrating early, with wine and fondue on Wednesday night. Well, actually it was more like “afternoon” than “night”. I took a half-day of work and went to see the matinee of War Horse with my theater buddy, Joe. The show was excellent and if you’re under 35, you can get pretty cheap tickets ($30!). Post-show, we popped in to Kashkaval, a cute wine and cheese bar in the West 50’s. After fueling up on fondue and Sauvignon Blanc, I headed to a hot yoga class. Not my best decision, friends. You should really start questioning the advice I write on this blog.

Preparations continued on Thursday with a steady supply of salt-rimmed margaritas (electrolytes!), mexican corn, &  grilled pork and cactus tacos from Chavella’s. I love this place for so many reasons – it’s less than a 10 min walk from my apartment, authentic Mexican fare, reasonable prices, and a veryyyy extensive drink menu.

We all know that it’s especially important to fuel well the night before a race. I followed through by eating a slice of pizza the size of my head.

A diet that contains a wide variety of colors will ensure that you’re getting all the vitamins you need. I think that rainbow sprinkles really cover all the bases.

So in summary, all you need to do to PR is: eat pizza and cupcakes for dinner, sleep no more than 5 hours, and perhaps stop to tie your undone shoelaces around mile 6.

Remember when I used to give sound nutritional and running advice?


But we’re not done yet! Your post-race fueling plan is very important. I recommend re-hydrating with beer. Bonus points if you begin this process at 2pm.

A friend and I headed to the Weyerbacher Brewery in Easton, PA on Saturday afternoon and I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited. Ever since discovering the Imperial Pumpkin Ale last Fall, Weyerbacher has been one of my favorite breweries. (Side note: Weyerbacher, I really do love you. Please hire me and/or send free beer. xoxo) Taking the brewery tour and sampling nine (yes, nine!) of their offerings was the perfect way for this gal to spend an afternoon.

Of course, I couldn’t leave without purchasing some beer to-go. No, I’m not really drunk in this photo. And Yes, I did share the growlers. Reluctantly. The Imperial Pumpkin Ale is my favorite, but since that wasn’t on tap, we chose the Hops Infusion IPA and the Old Heathen Russian Imperial Stout.

Lest you think all I do is eat cupcakes and drink beer, I will show you a sampling of the delicious food I ate at a holiday party on Saturday night. I wish I had the recipe for this homemade eggplant parm, but I do not. So instead, I just went back for thirds.

On Sunday morning, after a few hours of sleep and a chilly 6-mile jaunt around Prospect Park, it was time for another holiday soiree. I’m not complaining. Can I go to parties all year round?

Ali invited over the sweat squad regulars for a holiday brunch and secret santa exchange. Did you know that brunches can last until nearly 7pm? Yes, yes they can.

There were mimosas, smoked salmon, cucumber sandwiches, cheese & crackers, and desserts galore. I ate at least 3 of the ridiculously good nutella cookies that Kelly made. Ali might tell you she’s not a good hostess, but that’s a lie. You should see this girl’s Gouda cutting skills.

I somehow lost the photo I took, but the secret santa gift that I received was the best ever. And when I say best ever, it’s not a hyperbole. It’s the truth. Lindsay ventured into Brooklyn and picked me up 3 pints of my favorite ice cream (holla at you Ample Hills Creamery!). When she pulled my gift wrapped present out of the freezer, I knew I was in for something good.

Edited to add: Ali posted a photo of my reaction upon opening my gift. Priceless.

Susan’s gift was all about hot guys and baby animals. Good work gift-giver Ali.

I believe Ali received a pair of Smart Wool high socks. I predict they will bring mad boys to her yard (Hi Brian!).

I tried to fix the red-eye in this photo, but decided that Meggie would prefer if her eyes matched her sweater. Luckily, I was her secret santa and perhaps the 16 Handles gift certificate will be a distraction from my bad photography skillz.

Is Kelly’s hand glowing?! Yes! Because she now owns reflective glove-mittens from Brooks. Bring on the wind, sleet, and snow, Mother Nature.

I’m pretty sure this was the best weekend of the year. Or at least one of the top 3. I left Ali’s apartment all full of holiday cheer (I was like the Grinch – I’m pretty sure my heart grew three sizes yesterday). I even stopped to purchase a mini Charlie Brown Christmas tree after leaving. And I didn’t even mind schlepping it home to Brooklyn on the subway.

What’s the best holiday activity you’ve participated in this year? You get a gold star if it involved running, drinking, or BOTH.

  • Ali

    1. Congratulations on the 15K PR you little beast! Way to represent the females in that first corral. I felt honored to know you.
    2. You mention you went to the brewery with “a friend.” Can you please be more specific on this very public forum? Thanks.
    3. So much fun yesterday. I love you for drunk-buying a tree. Well done.

  • OMG, I love Weyerbacher’s Imperial Pumpkin Ale, too!  What a great idea for a day trip!  How long did it take you to get there and what mode of transport did you take, if you don’t mind my asking?  Congrats on nailing the Ted Corbitt, too!  My also sleep-deprived, hungover showing wasn’t nearly as impressive as yours! 🙂

  • Anonymous

    I took NJ transit to Dover and then a friend picked me up and we drove the rest of the way. The Weyerbacher visitor’s center is only open from noon-3pm on Saturdays, but they are very generous with their samples. It’s definitely worth the trip if you have access to a car!

  • fact: i’ve had some of my best long runs after eating absolute crap the night before. please explain. congrats on the race, speedy!

  • Anonymous

    when are we all coming over to help you eat that ice cream? Yum. Nice racing! All that half marathon training has made you even speedier. It’s weird, the times I don’t really care about what I eat or how much I sleep sometimes produce the best runs the next day. Perhaps you’re on to something!

    would you say that you highly recommend my cookies? bwahaha.

  • I second you on Weyerbacher’s Imperial Pumpkin Ale. Fantastic! Need to stop by the brewery sometime on the way to/from my folks house in northern DE.

  • Anonymous

    my masseuse highly recommends your cookies.

  • MR/F

    Those are some great pictures.  Some real photographic genius if you ask me.

  • Anonymous

    ahaha, i wonder who is behind the lens?

  • MR/F

    Clearly someone whose awesomness knows no bounds.  And whose baked goods mysteriously don’t make it to him/her.

  • What a great weekend! Congrats on the 15K! Good for you for continuing to race (even if you’re not going for a PR) this time of year. Great mileage, too! It’s all about balance. Holiday parties are a perfect way to stay balanced 🙂
    I also went to two holiday parties this past weekend. And the ONLY way for me to get over a hangover is to go running – it’s torture for the first 10 minutes but suddenly the hangover goes away and I can have a productive day. So, yes, my holiday activities have involved running and beer, too 🙂

  • Lauren

    funny post! I love your green jacket – where’d you get it??

  • Congrats on the PR and the awesome weekend! I spent my weekend recovering from my marathon of essay writing during finals week, which basically means waking up, running, and changing back into my pajamas to spend the rest of the day lounging around the house baking and watching Disney movies. Not as fun as your 7 hour brunch, but still very relaxing!  

  • Umm, obviously I want my sweater to match my eyes!!! Duh. Don’t even take that red-eye out. I also like Red Velvet flavored 16 Handles, which I can now get thanks to you!!!! Ahh, yes!!!!

    I cannot recommend a brunch til 7 pm more highly.

  • Can I have your life?  haha.  PR?  Boyzzz?  Brunch?  Ice cream?

    My favorite part is the fact that you bought a tree on your way back to Brooklyn.  Also, pretty sure the UES is calling you.

  • Oh my gosh, that corn looks so delicious I want to grab it out of the lap top screen and eat it!  Have you ever been to Portland Oregon?  The local brewery beer flows like water out here – you should check it out some day!

  • Katie

    Congrats on your PR! Looks like such an awesome weekend, too… and I wholeheartedly agree that booze and sugar are the best exercise fuels.

    I LOVED War Horse (the play).  Those puppets were amazing!

    P.S. We should solo date after the holidays!

  • Anonymous

    yes please! i need to hear about your life updates. Rebecca and i still really want to go to Queens Kickshaw…

  • Chavella’s has been on my must try list for a while..definitely need to get there for some tacos! Congrats on the PR! That’s amazing!

  • ample hills

    holla back yall! happy holladays!

  • Megan

    One of my best was the Egg Nog Jog on the 11th. A 5k, part of which was thru the snow followed by beer and spiked egg nog with two of my friends! If I knew how to add the photo, i would. There you go! Drinking + running + holidays = WINNING!!

  • Congrats on your PR! This entire weekend almost qualifies as epic. Almost.

    My best holiday activity was on a much smaller (and less awesome) scale than yours. Last weekend I fueled for a 5K on champagne and cookies at a Christmas/engagement party (not mine!), then got up early the next day and raced on trails for the first time since college. No PR, but I did win…so that was pretty exciting. And then I wrapped up the weekend with a “cocktail party” at my bf’s grandmother’s house. It was a really rocking time, as I’m sure you can imagine…

  • Ali

    I can’t say enough good things about those cookies.

  • Anonymous

    nice job on the trail race W! i ran one last June and it was so different from my usual (crowded!) road races. definitely a nice change and even nicer to finish at the head of the pack 🙂

  • Anonymous

    yes, you must try chavella’s! the pitchers of margaritas can be dangerously good 🙂

  • Anonymous

    the jacket is from urban outfitters. it was on sale a few weeks ago!

  • Ellen Collis

    How did you get the $30 War Horse tickets?! I can’t find them :/

  • Anonymous

    i signed up for lincoln center tix (for people ages 21-35), but i think you have to time it right because there are only a limited number of $30 seats for each performance.