Tag Archives: marathon

USATF Cross Country Specialist Course

I am officially a USA Track and Field Cross Country Specialist!  Even though I don’t coach a cross country team, I found the course incredibly valuable and it was a honor to learn from Dr. Joe Vigil, who coaches two of my favorite runners, Brenda Martinez and Deena Kastor.

The course was spread out over two days, a Friday afternoon-evening session and Saturday morning-afternoon sessions.  There were 129 other coaches there with me, all of whom were equally as excited.  We covered cross countryeverything from team dynamics to hill workouts as well as lab sessions on the track and a short but tough cross country course on the Villanova campus.  Coaches Vigil and Scott Christensen were amazing.  Their combined knowledge was mind boggling and there was certainly no shortage of stories after so many championships, Olympics and runners.

During dinner the first evening I spent time with my phone plugged into one of the classroom’s few outlets.  It also provided me a little bit of bonus time with Coach Vigil.  I was honored by his feedback and surprised to hear him say how much he loved the marathon.  While I’m not sure I share the same sentiment as a runner, I definitely agreed with him as a coach.  To really be successful at the marathon, you must change your life.  It’s amazing what can be accomplished when you give everything you’ve got to training.cross country

I can’t wait to employ some of the training and coaching techniques I learned.  As many of my runners prepare for fall marathons we’ll definitely have some cross country inspired fun.  If you coach, just want to become a better runner or learn from the best, I highly recommend taking this class.  I am definitely a better coach because of it.

Coach Meredith

Have you ever run cross country?  What do you like most about it?

Fit Friday: An Almost Trio of March PRs

March 2017 was a solid running month for me.  I raced three weekends in a row, hitting new PRs at the marathon and 8k distances while getting very close at the 5k distance.  It was my best month of running race-wise in a while and I’m really happy with it. 

The month started with a tune-up 5k.  I had no real expectations but knew I’d perform pretty well on tapered legs.  When I lined up to start the Big Wish 5k I looked at the distance on my watch but not the time.  I wish I would have.  Knowing my start time would have shown me that coming into the finish I was only seconds behind my best.  I had plenty left and could certainly have added another one to my March PRs if I March PRshad been more aware.  Lucky for me, I have plenty of 5k opportunities coming up over the next few months.

My marathon PR the following Sunday felt good.  It wasn’t the race I wanted to run after Mile 22 but I hit my goal and qualified for Boston.  I learned a lot during this race that I’ll be taking with me into my next training cycle.

My March PRs rolled on at the Shamrock 8k.  While I hadn’t run an 8k in years and a PR was almost inevitable, I’m still proud of my Shamrock effort.  I smashed my previous best by 90 seconds five measly days after running a marathon.  Imagine if my legs were fresh.

After almost three March PRs, it’s exciting thinking about what I can get done this fall.  I’ll be racing for PRs at the half marathon, 10k, 5k and 5 mile distances.  It’s likely I’ll count that five miler as an 8k since they’re so close.  I don’t have a fall marathon planned but am looking forward to Boston 2018.


Did you have any March PRs?  What distance?

Plantain Chips + Marathon Recovery

Marathon recovery is moving along nicely and I’m all ready to race the Shamrock 8k tomorrow.  I wasn’t too sure how I’d be feeling about tomorrow’s race after hitting my marathon goal last Sunday.  The good news is a week of rest, yoga, body weight exercises and light running has me ready to go.  I’d like hit a new 8k PR since it’s been quite a while since I’ve raced at that distance but the weather doesn’t look too good.  Rain with some reasonable wind might hamper my efforts a bit.

No matter what happens at Shamrock, I’ve had my best training cycle yet this year, learned a lot and am in a great place to hit my goals for the rest of 2017.  I’m ready for a little post race down time then kicking things back up later in the spring.

Since I had a quiet workout week, I hit the kitchen to try something completely new.  Plantain chips!  I’m not too familiar with plantains but received some from a friend and figured it couldn’t hurt to play.  My first thought was plantain chips since they’re simple and probably hard to muck up.  This experimental recipe is a mash up of others for both banana chips and plantain chips but it turned out well.  I hope you enjoy it, too!plantain chips

Cinnamon Plantain Chips
1 plantain, peeled and sliced thinly. 
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil. 
1 teaspoon lemon juice. 
Cinnamon as desired.

Pre-heat oven to 350.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Toss plantain slices with coconut oil, lemon juice and cinnamon until coated.
Place evenly spaced plantain slices on lined baking sheet.
Bake at 350 for 15 minutes then flip over for 5-7 additional minutes until edges are browned.


Do you like plantain chips?  Have a favorite plantain recipe?  Share it with me!

One City Marathon + What’s Next

The 2017 One City Marathon is in the books.  I had a solid run and was happy with the results in an official finish time of 3:29.19.

I came out of the gate fresh and ready to go.  Too fast.  I settled in around a 7:45 pace and kept telling myself to slow down.  I couldn’t.  A lovely runner named Jim had settled in right one city marathonalong with me and we chatted our way through the first 14.

After hitting the half in 1:41, I knew I had to slow down or I would be in big trouble.  Of course, I also had it in my head that it was race day, I had tapered well and didn’t actually know what I was capable of.  I walked through a water stop at 14 very easily in an attempt to bring slow my body down.  As you can see from the splits, it worked a little bit.

I still felt good downing an extra GU at 18.5.  The fast half was starting to catch up with me and caffeine was just what I needed.  Of course, I also needed water.  Unfortunately the water stop at 20 was all the way on the other side of the road.  Across four lanes on the outside of a turn.  Hitting it would have added even more to my already extra long marathon.  I skipped it feeling confident I could make it to the stop at 22.

I made it to 22 and grabbed a cup of water as I walked by.  More attention would have been a good idea at that moment because that cup was barely full.  I got maybe 2 ounces of water before continuing on.  Not more than five minutes later I started to pay for it as my calves locked up.  I gave them a stretch and tried to slow my run down to a jog.  My pace inevitably crept back up and my calves responded with hostility.  I skipped the next water stop at 24 knowing if I walked I would struggle to run again.  Powering through the last two miles was one city marathontough but I did it, crossing the finish line with a smile on my face.

I had run 26.39 miles in 3:29.19.  While not exactly the race I wanted to run, I learned a lot and will be much better prepared for my next 26.2.  If there is one.

Next up is the Shamrock 8k.  Only five days after this marathon I’m not sure what to expect but it’s been a long time since I’ve run an 8k and would love to see a PR.  I’ll also have to decide if I really want to run the Boston Marathon.  There are 51 weeks a year I’m not that into the idea but when marathon weekend kicks off, I always wish I was there.  I’ll have more on that later because right now my focus is rocking 5 miles this Saturday.


Did you run the One City Marathon?  Have you ever qualified for Boston?

**For more of the nitty gritty like parking and hotels, check out my review on BibRave**


Big Wish 5k Win + Marathon Week

It’s Marathon Week!  I’m ready to run and have had some solid workouts through my two week taper, including a great Big Wish 5k.  Currently the One City weather is looking less than ideal with temperatures in the high 30s, 20 mph winds and an 80% chance of 1-3 inches of snow.  Ugh.  I’m really hoping that changes as the forecast so often does around Hampton Roads and I’ll stay dry.  If not, oh well, there’s nothing I can do anyway.

My training is behind me.  It went extremely well and I feel 100% ready for race day after two weeks of taper.  I wrapped Taper Week 2 with a easy eight mile long run Friday then stepped the intensity up with the Big Wish 5k Saturday morning.  It was a brisk and breezy but sunnyBig Wish 5k morning.  My plan was to to keep my legs firing without taking too much off the table for this weekend’s marathon.  During my two mile warm-up I felt really good.  We went off right on time as I focused on not getting swept up with the fast starters.

I expected to run comfortably around half marathon pace (7:15/mile) but settled in faster.  The first mile ran by in 6:58.  Slow down, I told myself.  My legs and lungs both felt great as I made the u-turn at halfway.  Mile 2 registered as a 6:56.  Since I was feeling so good and picked it up a hair for Mile 3 in 6:45.  I crossed the finish line in 21:19 as first female.

I was bummed I hadn’t looked at the time on my watch after my warm up.  If I had, I would have known coming through those last few hundred meters I was only 5 seconds away from a new 5k PR.  A faster 5k is definitely in my near future and I look forward to seeing what I can do.

The rest of Marathon Week includes yesterday’s 12 x 400M, another short workout Wednesday and a 20 minute shake out Saturday.


What does your Marathon Week look like?

Taper Time + A Strong Finish

It’s here!  Taper time!  My final long long run is in the books and marathon day is less than three weeks away.  I’ll be sharing my race plan for the One City Marathon later but for right now I’m looking forward to a little time to heal up.

Don’t take that the wrong way, I’m far from injured.  It’s just the usual aches or hints of stiffness that sneak in after weeks of heavy mileages.  My left foot is a little grumpy for my first few steps every time I get up and some extra ab work has probably pushed them a little far.  Taper time is exactly what I need both physically and mentally.  I’m definitely ready to tackle 26.2 but need these three weeks to let my body get in the best position it can to help me succeed.taper time

I had a strong finish to my heavy training and will work to keep it going right through the finish line.  This week’s last long long run was 21 miles.  My goal was to run 8 easy miles, 10 at marathon pace and 3 more easy.  It didn’t go quite as planned.  It went better!  The easy 8 went off without a hitch and when I went to pick it up 15 seconds a mile, I couldn’t.  Instead of settling in at my goal marathon pace, 7:55, I found 7:45.  I was very comfortable there despite telling myself to slow down every ten seconds.

When one of my half mile splits around Mile 16 was 7:36 I thought I was done for.  I felt good but was waiting for things to turn south.  They never did!  I cruised through those 10 miles at a hair too fast a pace but had a strong finish and felt great.  Maybe my marathon pace isn’t 7:55 after all.  I’ve struggled to find it throughout training, instead finding a slightly faster or little bit slower pace more comfortable.

No matter what, it’s taper time and I have three weeks to nail down my pacing plan.  I can’t wait for race day to see what I can do.


What do you do at taper time?  What if you’re running ‘too fast’ but feel good?

2016 Running Year in Review

It’s 2017 and that means it’s time to look back on the year that was.  I ran a lot, raced a bunch and learned plenty.  It was a productive year and I can’t wait to see what the next 52 weeks have in store.  Here’s my 2016 Running Year in Review!2016 running year

Miles:  I ran 1,514.4 miles in 2016.  Some were fast and some were slow.  There were cold miles, hot miles, good miles and bad miles.  I didn’t set a mileage goal for 2016 and was happy to see it was my biggest mileage year to date.  My final run of 2016 was 20.16 miles of marathon training and a great finish to an up and down year.

Races:  21.  I raced some, tanked some and paced some.  Ran alone, with a group and with the dog.  I started with back to back half marathons, wrapped up spring with a marathon and fell apart at my goal fall half.  In the end, my racing wasn’t always what I wanted it to be though I did manage to PR at the 5k distance (20:50).  Technically my marathon was also a PR but since2016 running year I had bleeding blisters to contend with for the last 8 miles and hobbled through the finish, I have trouble counting it.

Favorite race:  Every race I pace is a favorite.  It’s always so much fun to help another runner accomplish their goal and everyone should give it a try.  Even the two 5ks I finished first female in weren’t as much fun.  If I had to pick, Monumental Half Marathon and Wineglass Half (even though it wasn’t my best day).

Injuries:  The worst was a high ankle bruise that didn’t come from running.  Worst actual running injury would probably be a seriously chaffed nose from some cold, windy outings or marathon blisters.  I chalk my resilience, durability and injury-free-ness up to Crossfit and daily yoga.

The biggest takeaway from my 2016 Running Year was that it doesn’t always go your way.  I worked very hard all summer for a new half marathon PR in October and crashed.  It was just not my day.  I also learned I need to eat more when I’m running 60 miles a week and that it’s OK to have a bad workout.  Now focused on hitting my 2017 marathon goal, I got the fun back, enjoyed my last few weeks of 2016 training and can’t wait to see what I’ll accomplish in 2017.


What did your 2016 Running Year look like?  What did you learn and what’s next?

Coaching Rocks + Celebrating My Job

It’s Week 4 of marathon training but instead of basking in the lovely miles I’ve been ticking off I’m celebrating my job.  As you know, I’m a running coach, personal trainer, otherwise motivator and I love it.  There are lots of advantages to loving the work you do.  Less stress, more excitement and more satisfaction on a daily basis are just a few.  There are plenty of other things I could do and I’d probably even make lots more money but I wouldn’t have nearly as celebrating my jobmuch fun.  Settling for something tolerable and being unhappy for 40 or more hours a week just doesn’t sit with me.

Yes, it’s hard getting up before the sun most days of the year.  Standing out in the cold and 20 mile an hour winds isn’t always awesome either.  Figuring out how to build and run a business without any full time help is a challenge all its own.  At the end of every single day, however, it’s worth the cold toes and horrible sock tans.  Here’s why:

Improvement.  I have clients with all different backgrounds and abilities.  It really doesn’t matter where they start.  Seeing them want to put in the work it takes to be better is all it takes.  That’s why Team ECRP‘s motto is #DestinationFaster, not Destination 5 Minute Mile.  Who cares how fast you are right now if you’re ready to work hard and get better?  It’s pretty much everything when I receive an email from a newly faster runner that reads “If I never run again, Meredith, I want you to know today’s run was the best run ever and it would not have happened without your help…Thank you!”

If that doesn’t make you think you’re doing the right thing, I don’t know what will.  I am so proud of my athletes when they find success.  That’s why I’m celebrating my job this week.  An email like that gets you through the challenging sessions and is a great reminder that so matter where someone starts they can always try to be better.  It’s an honor to watch people work hard for their goals and even better to guide them on their journeys.


Do you celebrate your job and what’s your favorite thing about it?

Marathon Training Has Begun

Marathon training officially started Monday with an easy 20 minute treadmill run.  Way to kick it off strong, I know.  I took things easy after racing a 5k over the weekend and figured there are plenty of miles to come, why rush.  This week features a total of 40 miles with 35 of them at an marathon trainingeasy pace.  I’m enjoying the easy running and hope it stays that way as my mileage increases and the weather deteriorates.

After Monday’s easy treadmill session, I dove in Tuesday.  A Crossfit workout in the morning, an hour biking with a member of Team ECRP, biking to take care of some errands and a seven mile night jog.  Wednesday was a nice easy six mile run and yesterday I kept racking up the miles with 5 easy miles and 5 at marathon pace.  Had to earn that Thanksgiving food somehow!

My 16 week plan has me ramping up the miles to peak at 60 per week in January and I am not in a rush to get there.  Last year I had fueling troubles and over training issues that I’ll be avoiding this time around.  Easing into higher mileage is a great opportunity to make sure I’m getting the calories I need.   After 6 weeks of base building, I’ll step things up with more intense miles for the second half.  Because my taper got thrown out of whack due to my overzealous number of 20 milers last year, I’m making sure to do it right this time.  My first three week taper into March’s One City Marathon is sure to drive me nuts.  I’m looking forward to it!

I’m excited to see where I can go with this more ambitious plan.  As of right now, a BQ time is definitely reachable and my goal will be 3:28-3:30.  Hopefully the winter weather cooperates and my training goes as planned.


How do you kick off marathon training?  How many miles do you peak with?


Ready for Marathon Training

I am ready for marathon training to start next week.  It’s been a while since I’ve run lots of miles or worked really hard more than once in a week.  For the first time in a long time I’m looking forward to tired legs that I know are getting marathon trainingstronger.  Since my goal race debacle training has been inconsistent and actually stressful.  At the moment I almost feel a little taper crazy and I haven’t even been tapering!

So let’s bring on the miles.  I want to go for a run when I feel like it, not make myself stay put because I’m on a breather week or looking to hit a 5k hard this weekend (which I am).  I miss just going out and doing something.  Maybe it’s a run, 50 box jumps or an extra leg added to my bike commute but I’ve been keeping myself away from those things and it’s starting to be a bummer.  Logging lots of easy miles and having fun will be the priority for my first few weeks. 

The marathon training plan I’ve laid out is more flexible than last year but also more ambitious.  My peak weekly marathon trainingmileage is higher than last year’s at around 65.  I’ll also be focusing more on taking my recovery runs at a slower pace and making sure my important workouts each week are very high quality.

This down time craziness wraps up with the Norfolk Harbor 5k tomorrow.  I was third overall female last year but with my lack of concentration lately have no idea how it’s going to go this time around.  It will be fun knowing marathon things kick off Monday with a 40 mile week.  I can’t wait to be on a predictable marathon training schedule again!


Do you get excited for marathon training?  What’s your favorite part?