What I Wore, Packed, Ate, and Carried at My First Ultramarathon

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Last weekend, I ran the Ultimate Direction Dirty 30, a 50k race in Colorado.  Read about it here.  As promised, this post is all about those pesky logistics of ultrarunning:  what to carry, what to pack in a drop bag, what to eat at aid stations.  These are things I’d never given much thought to during a road marathon, and they seriously stressed me a little bit for the ultra.  I think I did a pretty good job packing and eating, so here we go…

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How to Lose Weight While Training for a Marathon (And Still PR)

IMG_8835We have all been told that — contrary to conventional wisdom — it is really hard to lose weight while training for a marathon.  In fact, a lot of people gain weight when they up their training mileage.  Personally, after 21 marathon training cycles, I know these struggles all too well.  (There may be people out there who start running and watch the pounds melt off; I am not one of them.)  But I also think it is pretty unhelpful to say “It can’t be done,” and as I recently learned while completing a cut on the RP diet and simultaneously training for a BQ-pace marathon, it can be done.

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Non-Race Travel: The Best of St. Moritz, Florence, and Rome

IMG_3321Better late than never on this one!  My husband and I were fortunate to be invited to a wedding in St. Moritz, Switzerland in mid-January this year.  I honestly had never heard of St. Moritz, but as soon as I Wikipedia’d it, I was pretty pumped, even if I mis-pronounced it for several weeks until someone correct me (Mor-RITZ, not MORE-itz).  We also decided to extend the trip with stops in Florence and Rome, Italy.   Here are some of the highlights.

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Did Orangetheory Help Me BQ?

I feel like I could write about 234,908 posts about all of the things I learned, tried, tweaked, etc. during my journey to BQ.  So I’ll just do that until you or I get bored, whichever comes first… So far I’ve covered nutrition and pacing and my race tunes. Today’s topic is Orangetheory.

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How to BQ: The Right Tunes

I’m continuing my post-Phoenix Marathon brain dump, which I hope can help me with future races, but also help my readers who are looking to optimize their own performance.  I previously provided an overview of all the thoughts I had during the race, and then I wrote about how pacing and nutrition played key roles in my success. Next up: MUSIC!

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How to BQ: Pacing and Nutrition

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I spent years working toward my goal of running a Boston qualifying marathon time.  Recently, it all came together for me at my 21st marathon, the Phoenix Marathon, where I ran a 3:28:56, over six minutes faster than the BQ application cutoff for my age.  This race was obviously a PR for me, but I was shocked with how much I was able to improve over my three most recent races culminating at Phoenix.

First, I PR’d at Chicago with a 3:42.  I credited a fast course, good weather, improved training (mainly Orangetheory and running hills at altitude), and a stronger mental game. (My previous PR of 3:44:46 was achieved way back in 2012; for my thoughts on what went on in the five intervening years, check out my slowdown story and my thoughts about getting back on the BQ wagon.) Two months later, I PR’d again at Kiawah with a 3:37, an unexpected five-minute improvement.  Again, I credited a fast course, good weather, new mental strategies, and my altitude training.  But I also ran negative splits for the first time in a long time, and I felt like that made a huge difference compared to Chicago. Then less than three months after that, after training back at sea level, I PR’d and BQ’d at Phoenix with 3:28:56, a whopping eight minute improvement over Kiawah, and a 13 minute improvement over Chicago in less than five months.

As someone who thought that Chicago might be as good as it gets in terms of race conditions, that 13-minute improvement was unfathomable — especially without significant changes to my training. (During the buildup, I frequently Googled “What is a reasonable marathon time improvement?” and “How long does it take to BQ?”  Here’s my answer!) So what made the difference?

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