Friday, February 28, 2020

Train, Hike, Race, Repeat: An IllumiNITEd Agenda

IllumiNITE Savannah Shirt
January and February are always my lowest miles months. The cold, short days really zap my enthusiasm, but I figure if there is any time to rest and recover, winter is the perfect excuse to kick off my running shoes and catch up on my shows. Remember, 2020 is all about finding balance.

So far, I'm finding my groove. I've settled into my new 5:00 am writing routine before going into my day job.

I've been working out at the gym with my sister on our lunch hour, adding in strength training and speedwork on the treadmill.

Sera: IllumiNITE Dovetail Tee
and Women's Shortie

And I've officially planned out my hikes and races for the year!

Yes! As part of goals for living a balanced life, I'm incorporating more mountains back into my athletic activities. Why? Two reasons:

1) I promised my life partner that I'd hike more if he ran a marathon (his first) with me (he did! and he signed up for two more!).

2) In 2018, I ran my fastest marathon and was in the greatest shape of my life. I truly believe it's because I incorporated mountain training/races into my running routine that year.

So what's on my IllumiNITEd agenda this year? I thought you'd never ask!


IlumiNITE Eclipse HeadbandVigor Singlet,
and Women's Shortie
First up is Loon Mountain Race in Lincoln, New Hampshire, in July. This race is 6.6 miles straight up a mountain—with the last kilometer on a black diamond ski slope—a 45-degree angle!

Check out the Upper Walking Boss video to see for yourself. Hang onto your'll get vertigo just watching!

It's brutal; it's dizzying; it's So. Much. Fun!

Instead of taking the gondola ride that's included in the race fee, I always run back down the mountain afterwards. And then I cool off in the river!

IlumiNITE Eclipse HeadbandVigor Singlet,
and Women's Shortie
Ahh, best mini-vacation ever! Since we're there, we'll hike up Franconia Ridge a few days before the race as well. That weekend is a 16-miler training weekend for us (for our marathon), so the hike and race will fulfill that requirement. This will be my third year doing this race, and I seriously cannot wait to run it with Mike!

Training for this race will include the Seven Sisters race route and Mt. Tom ski slopes. My quads and glutes are already burning thinking about it!


I ran so fast, I burned holes in my socks! haha
What goes up, must go down! Everyone who knows me knows how much I hate hills! So to reward myself for all this climbing, I've signed back up for the New England Green River Marathon in August. The course is one way, from Vermont to Massachusetts, on a tree-canopied road alongside the cooling Green River. The elevation LOSS is an appreciated 1,450 feet.

I ran this race ONCE, and it was my fastest marathon yet! At the time, I was at the peak of my mountain racing, so I'm hoping I can beat my record now that I'm adding mountains back into my routine!

I chose this marathon again because it's the perfect FIRST marathon, and since Mike's first marathon was the ever-grueling, mostly uphill, jam-packed marathon in Greece, I thought Green River would make for a nice contrast (he's still not convinced he likes marathons, but soon he will LOVE them, haha).

Training for this will include hikes on Mount Greylock and Mount Race (gotta keep up our strength) and speedwork (intervals) on a track.


My son and I costuming it up at
Ghost Train Ultra in 2018 
We'll end the year with Ghost Train Ultra Marathon in October. This was my first ultramarathon (I did 30 miles), and it's 15-mile out and back course makes it perfect for the newbie (or seasoned) ultramarathoner. The course is relatively flat with just one hill (that goes up both ways!), but is hardly boring as it's filled with spooky, Halloweenie decorations, costumes galore, and a tunnel—yes! a tunnel!—to run through!

This year, I'd like to accomplish 45 miles, 30 on Saturday and 15 on Sunday. We'll see how my year goes before I officially commit to that! What I'm most excited for is dressing up in costume for this race! Maybe this year, we can wear capes! I'm already feeling like a superhero as I think about bounding up all these mountains and racing at the speed of IllumiNITE!

IllumiNITE Fishbone Halloween Cape
New England Green River Marathon is perfectly timed 7 weeks before this ultra! I'll just continue on with Hal Higdon's Ultramarathon schedule to stay on track, maybe doing half-distance the day after my long distance runs to get used to running long stretches back-to-back. For example: 26 miles on Saturday and then 10 miles on Sunday. And I'll have to shave off one week, so I'll just skip week 21 and go right to week 22.

I'm crossing my fingers that Mike will feel motivated to "go the distance" and join me with my ultra training. He is thinking of running 15 miles on Saturday and 15 miles on Sunday for a total of 30 miles that weekend...but I'm wondering if all the excitement and magic of race day will get him to do 30 all at once!!! No pressure (yet!)!

Sera: IllumiNITE Ambition Hoodie
Mike: IllumiNITE Early Riser

So tell me:

What races are you signed up for this year?

What's your training plan? 

I'd love to hear! Leave a comment below!


  1. Well....apparently my training plan is listed above. :-)

    1. Silly! That's just the basics of it. It's much more rigorous than this ;)


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