Way up high or down low, I’ll go wherever you will go.

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This blog has seen me through lots of ups and downs: my summer of service in Namibia, graduating college, Bike & Build, trying to get back into running, and the many stumbling blocks of my first two years of medical school.

In order to create a more professional/medical and running-focused blog, I’ve created and will now be blogging over at Marathons and Medicine. The layout may look familiar! Mostly because I ain’t got time to make something fresh in third year. That stuff takes lotsa time.

Looking back, Meghan’s Mind holds a lot of the triumphs and pain of the last five years of my life that I’m glad I’ve chronicled for my own memories. I hope you’ll continue to follow my adventures continuing through my last two years of medical school, working through the rest of my medical training, and working to become the best runner I can over at my new little home on the internet!

Training for the Shamrock Marathon Using Hanson’s Marathon Method: Week 3

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I definitely got a little carried away with the mileage this week, but my body felt pretty good

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Monday

On the Schedule: 6 miles easy

What I Did: 10 miles with first 8 miles in 1:05 (8:07 pace)

What started off as a nice, fast 8 mile run because we couldn’t feel our legs, turned into a mad search for Moira’s keys we somehow abandoned on the bike path. Luckily, with her great/better-than-my sense of direction and the flashlight app on my phone, we found it, but we both learned a lesson in zipping our pockets and holding on to our stuff on runs!

Tuesday

On the Schedule: Speed Workout: 8 x 600 (goal pace 2:29-2:33) with 400 rest

What I Did: 2 mile warm-up, 8 x 600 (2:39, 2:34, 2:30, 2:30, 2:38, 2:26, 2:24, 2:18) with 400 rest, 2 mile cool-down; 9 miles total

My legs were pretty tired from the longer than expected run the night before, but I was able to power through this workout. 600s are such a funny distance to me, awkwardly caught somewhere between 400s, which are so easily mentally, and 800s that aren’t my favorite workout. Still, I was really satisfied with my negative splits (ish), something I want to try to make a focus of my workouts during this training plan.

 

Wednesday

On the Schedule: OFF

What I Did: Beginning Pilates class

Thursday

On the Schedule: 6 mile tempo run (8:01 goal pace)

What I Did: 2 mile warm-up, 6 mile tempo run in 47:48 (7:58 pace) on treadmill, 2 mile cool-down outside

First tempo run of this training plan, and my legs were pretty tired. I’ve decided to at least start my tempo runs on the treadmill until I get a better sense of pacing, but I nearly died of boredom trying to run 10 miles on the darn thing. Luckily it was warm enough outside to finish my cool-down outside.

Friday

On the Schedule: 7 miles easy

What I Did: 8 miles easy in 1:10 (8:45 pace)

Nice, night time run with Moira down and around UAlbany and back.

 

Saturday

On the Schedule: 6 miles easy

What I Did: 10 mile long run in 1:28:52 (8:53 pace)

Swapped my scheduled Sunday long run for a long run on Saturday to meet up with Erin, The Little Runner Girl, who I met through Instagram/the Oiselle Volee, and her running group, many of whom are coached by Nark Running Strategies, which has developed quite a presence in the local running scene. It was fun running in the Guilderland/Voorheesville area, where I never run, and with lots of new, fun people.

Sunday

On the Schedule: 10 mile long run

What I Did: 3.5 miles easy

My mileage was already pretty high for the week, but my legs were itching to get out, so I just shuffled around in the Pine Bush for a little bit.


Total Weekly Mileage: 50.5 miles

Total Mileage Thus Far: 122.41 miles

Training for the Shamrock Marathon Using Hanson’s Marathon Method: Week 2

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After my exam on Monday, it was nice to return to Maryland and revisit some of my favorite places to run at home. Tuesday’s workout has gotten me really excited for the weeks ahead…I’m really itching for this Tuesday and Thursday to roll around so I can work my legs again!

I need to be better about actually logging my workouts in my training log-I’ve been relying on Instagram a bit too much, but I know I would be much more honest in my private account with how I’m feeling, and that’ll prove much more useful down the line for my own training.

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Monday

On the Schedule: 6 miles

What I Did: 5.25 miles

My time was really limited after my exam on Monday morning; I had a doctor’s appointment and a flight to catch that I couldn’t change, and unfortunately, I could only get 5.25 miles in. My doctor’s office is close by UAlbany’s campus, so I ran there (I mean if I’m going to cut it close, I might as well run somewhere new, right?!). It was really nice to explore a little bit over there including some nice little trails around a pond that seemed vaguely familiar-we ran at the UAlbany Invitational every year in college.

Tuesday

On the Schedule: Speed Workout: 12 x 400 (goal pace of 1:40-1:43) with 400 recovery

What I Did: 1 mile warm-up, 12 x 400 (1:47, 1:43, 1:42, 1:38, 1:40, 1:40, 1:37, 1:37, 1:36, 1:38, 1:37, 1:31) with 400 recovery, 1 mile cool-down

I was nervous going into this workout-I haven’t done speed work or run this fast in years! My first 400 was almost comical-my concept of pacing is so off these days because I just run however I feel. Still, I think I got the hang of it by the end (some of my faster repeats in the middle of the set were because I didn’t want to look slow to the other people on the track…some things never change!) and was able to finish strong. I took the day’s Instagram picture on the last interval, and I’m pretty impressed with how cool it turned out! It’s really hit or miss with the GoPro, and honestly, I have a lot more fun running than I do messing with the camera.

I ran into an old teammate, Trevor, at the track, too, who kept me company on my cool-down.

 

Wednesday

On the Schedule: OFF

What I Did: Did some work, attempted this ridiculously hard Sudoko, spent too much time at Starbucks, and caught up with friends and old teammates, Catie and Alicia!

Thursday

On the Schedule: 6 miles easy

What I Did: 7.5 miles easy

It was hot on Thanksgiving. I ran in my neighborhood and the adjacent development, which is one of my favorite runs in the summertime at home because it’s so shaded. It’s also pretty darn hilly, but a good way to prep for the glutton-fest that is Thanksgiving dinner!

Friday

On the Schedule: 6 miles easy

What I Did: 5.5 miles easy

I was not feeling this run at all, was running late to meet some high school friends to paint pottery, and almost went home at around 4 miles, but I forced myself run loops around my elementary and middle schools. Before my most successful season running in college, I just made sure I was getting the miles in even if I was crawling, and the speed eventually followed. Hopefully that strategy still works for me!

Saturday

On the Schedule: 6 miles easy

What I Did: Steven Dankos Turkey Trot “5K”-I put 5K in quotes because my watch said the distance was actually closer to 2.7-2.8 miles, putting me at 7:16-7:33ish pace (first two miles were 6:53 and 7:14).

The race was on our home cross country course, which was really fun to run on again, especially with my old teammate, Laura, and my sister, even if the harder parts were cut off. I didn’t realize how much harder running on grass is compared to racing on the road! The first place woman (and first place overall!) joked that we should just claim the times as our 5K PRs, but the sad part is that it was still slower than my PR by a good 40 seconds! Still, my body felt pretty good, and at the very least, it was a good workout and for a good cause (the race is in memory of Steven Dankos, who was two years below me in high school, and to support the Steven Dankos Foundation which seeks to educate teenagers on the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption).

It was a fun event, and definitely something I would do again. I have serious respect for the 8 year old who was in front of me for the first mile of the race and finished in 21:38-he looked like such a boss in his sunglasses, too!

Sunday

On the Schedule: 8 miles easy

What I Did: 8 miles easy

It was a cold and rainy run for my last day in Maryland before heading back to Albany, but ended up being really nice. I ran at Centennial Park, which is where the run course for the IronGirl triathlon that I’ve done twice takes place (and is surprisingly hilly…it gets me every time!).

 


Total Weekly Mileage: 39.87

Total Mileage Thus Far: 71.91 miles

Training for the Shamrock Marathon Using Hanson’s Marathon Method: Week 1

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Week 1 of training started off strong but slowed down a bit after spraining my ankle on Friday night. Thankfully it’s feeling much better today (I’m writing this on Wednesday night), and it’s only the beginning of the plan, so a few miles this early on is nothing to lose sleep over. Here’s what I did this first week:

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Monday

On the Schedule: 0 miles

What I Did: 7 miles easy

Tuesday

On the Schedule: 0 miles

What I Did: 6.79 miles easy

Wednesday

On the Schedule: OFF

What I Did: 100 lengths freestyle

Thursday

On the Schedule: 6 miles easy

What I Did: 6 miles easy

Friday

On the Schedule: 6 miles easy

What I Did: 7.03 miles easy

Saturday

On the Schedule: 6 miles easy

What I Did: 22 lengths (0.25 mile) easy freestyle alternating with 22 lengths with pull buoy for a total of 110  lengths (1.25 miles) + ran/walked 5K with my Girls on the Run Running Buddy, Precious! (not included in weekly mileage)

Sunday

On the Schedule: 8 miles easy

What I Did: 5.22 miles easy; probably could have run more, but didn’t want to stress the sore ankle too much too soon…we’ve got a long 17 weeks ahead of us!


Total Weekly Mileage: 32.04 miles

Total Mileage Thus Far: 32.04 miles

Training for the Shamrock Marathon Using Hanson’s Marathon Method: The Plan

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 8.08.36 PMToday marks Day 1 of marathon training for the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach on March 20th, my second marathon, and I could not be more excited! But really. I’m, like, so excited.

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I will be following Hanson’s Marathon Method which has conjured up a lot of criticism for its “radical” approach since their book was published in 2012, most notably the long run which maxes out at 16 miles. I mean, the book’s tagline on the front cover is “A renegade path to your fastest marathon.” You really don’t just toss the word renegade around willy nilly unless you mean business. While a large percentage of most other training plans’ mileage is concentrated in the weekend long run, this one focuses on higher mileage during the week including speed, strength, and tempo workouts and a quality, although relatively short, long run on the weekend.

The book offers both beginner and advanced plans that each lasts 18 weeks: the beginner plan ranges from 15 to the upper 50 mile range with speed, tempo, and strength workouts beginning at week 6, while the advanced plan floats around a weekly mileage of 26 to the mid-60 miles with workouts beginning on week 2. I decided to go with the advanced plan mainly because I am itching to start doing workouts after some fairly encouraging races this fall. The name of the Ironman game last winter/spring was, without a doubt, survival and quantity over quality in all three disciplines and after months of going long and slow, I’m ready to put these legs back to some fast work! 

I recently ordered and perused several other training plans (notably Daniel’s Running Formula, which I’ve realized is what my high school cross country coach toted around with him everywhere and brought our program so much success, and Advanced Marathoning, both of which had excellent ratings on Amazon), but I decided to go with the Hanson’s plan for two simple reasons:

  1. I’m lazy. I don’t mean lazy as in I don’t want to run over 16 miles until race day kind of lazy (from the reviews I’ve read about Hanson’s, it is not an easy training plan!); it’s more like lazy as in, at the moment, I don’t have the desire (or time, really) to sift through all of the books and online guides for a plan that might be compatible with my running style. Running in high school and college, I just did the workouts that my coaches prescribed, which for the most part seemed to turn out okay. But frankly, the marathon is a beast, and I just don’t even know how I would begin to approach coming up with a training plan on my own. Even as someone who has been running for 12 years and has a science background, I was pretty intimidated by the pages and pages of charts and graphs provided in the other books. (Although, in my defense, I didn’t spend too long inspecting them…). Regardless, Hanson’s literally tells you day by day how far and at what pace you are supposed to run each mile with a straight forward, easy to understand, and proven approach. I want to spend more time running and less time thinking about the physiology and biology behind why I am doing what I’m doing. So I can, you know, spend my time actually thinking about the physiology and biology behind what I’m learning in school. 😛
  2. A renegade running transformation calls for a renegade training plan. I’ll be totally upfront: I am hungry for a huge PR (my 4:04:14 at my first marathon in 2014 was not something to write home about). I would absolutely love to run the Boston Marathon one day and although I’m not certain that that will happen for this race, this is the first time in a long time that I’ve been so excited to run fast. I’ve been running 30-35 miles a week since the end of August/beginning of September and had some success with higher mileage in college. There’s been a lot of criticism surrounding this plan, and I’m kind of curious to see what will happen, first-hand. Why not give it a go again and see what happens? What have I got to lose?! 🙂

If you’re interested in following me on this 18 week journey, I hope to blog about my training here each week as well as post a daily Instagram picture (@hanmeg) with updates, mainly as ways to hold myself accountable, connect with the running community, and to have a back-up source of what I did each day (I was never very good at keeping a running log!).

So here it is. Wish me luck! (Ha, get it? Because it’s the Shamrock Marathon? 😀 )

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So fill up your lungs and just run, but always be chasing the sun.

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Mohawk-Hudson Half-Marathon & Stockadeathon

My training has been pretty unstructured since the triathlon in July, but to be honest, it took me a good two months or so to feel normal on a run again. I honestly thought I’d never get back to wanting to run again, let alone feeling good on a run, but I suppose I did put my body through quite a bit over those six months!

I have some unfinished business with running and don’t think I ever really want to make the transition to become a full-fledged triathlete (I’d more like to be a runner who dabbles in really long triathlons 🙂 ). Not to mention triathlon training can be quite time consuming to balance the three disciplines, and with school, ain’t nobody got time for that! Before prices went up for the race in August and as an early birthday present/post-exam present to myself, I signed up for the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach the Sunday before the end of spring break, so that is my next big race on the horizon, and I am gunning for a huge PR.

For some motivation to get myself back into running shape, last month, I ran the Mohawk-Hudson Half-Marathon on a bit of a whim. I have only heard great things abut both the half and the full (read: fast and flat), and I thought it would be pretty cool to run a race that takes place where I actually train at least once a week. Despite no specific training for the race and hoping to average 8 minute pace, I surprised myself with a 43 second PR with a time of 1:41:27 (7:45 pace). The beginning of race excitement carried me to a 7:30 minute clip, which felt oddly pedestrian (I don’t think I had run faster than 8:15 pace on a training run…maaaaaybe 8:00 pace) so I kept with it…until I heard a runner tell another that she was trying to run sub 1:40! I was vaguely aware that my PR was somewhere in the 1:42 range meaning that I needed to slow. the. heck. down. After calming down and repeating to myself that I needed to relax if I was even going to survive these 13.1 miles, I chatted and ran 4ish miles with a super nice older woman who was running the NYC marathon in a few weeks. From there, I tried to stay in the 7:45 range and realized maybe a sub 1:40 might actually be a possibility if I kept at it. I felt great until the last two miles when things started to fall apart, but not enough to keep me from a PR and a time I impressed myself with. Least favorite part of the race? When my left shoelace came untied at mile 2 causing what felt like every runner to inform me that my shoe was untied for the remaining 11.1 miles. IMG_8150

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Running confidence somewhat restored, I signed up for the Stockadeathon three weeks after the half. The Stockadeathon is a race I’ve wanted to do for a while now. Not gonna lie, the novel race distance, a 15K, appealed to me. You see, a new race distance = an automatic PR. I am planning on using the Hanson’s Marathon Method to guide my marathon training that will officially begin next Sunday, so for the past month, I’ve just run and worked out however I felt that day, whether that meant an 8 mile run with strides at the end, step class, swimming, or spinning with friends. I set a goal of 7:30 pace based off of my half-marathon and the pretty, round, and easy to remember 1:10 finish time.

Meeting Frank Shorter, the 1972 Olympic gold and 1976 silver medalist at packet pick-up the day before the race! #lol

The race did not disappoint. Schenectady has always kind of sketched me out, but the race took us through the best of the city and was lined with spectators throughout almost the entire race. The rolling hills broke up the course and kept things interesting, and the last half mile that was practically all downhill was a pleasant surprise when I really started to hurt. I went out with the crowd pretty quick at sub 7 minute pace but tried to not get caught in the excitement and to settle into my goal pace. I haven’t been running with a watch lately (the darn thing takes so long to sync! And is always off by a smidge anyway), so pacing was a not-so-fun game: I freaked out any time I would look down and see that I was slower than 7:30 pace, speed up, and then realize I was running way faster than I should have been. Another fun game? Trying to get an older guy from drafting off of me at some windy points. Still, I kept averaging between 7:15 to 7:30 pace and enjoyed the perfect 50 degree weather. At the 7 mile mark, I knew sub 1:10 was within reach as long as I kept pushing and mentally told myself I only had two miles to go. Which was a lie. Because I had 2.3 miles to go. Which kind of broke my spirit for a moment and made me question whether this was going to be a thing today or not. My body began to feel heavy and my mind cloudy at this point, and I felt myself losing my pace. But here’s the great thing one of the greatest things about running-even when you think you can’t do it, your mind and your body will continually prove you wrong and show you otherwise. I remember thinking to myself, What’s the worst that could happen if I just go for it? So I went for it, refused to look at my watch, and gave it all I had for the last half mile. And seeing the timer read 1:08 as I was coming down the homestretch was the greatest thing. I finished with a 1:09:04 (7:25 pace) and smiled at the volunteer as she handed me a sub 70 minute bumper sticker…that I will surely not put on my car and have no idea what to do with, but it was still much appreciated.

Met Kristen, another Bird, at the finish line!

My splits were crazy consistent, and I even negative splitted (how that happened is beyond me): 23:20, 23:26, 22:23 for each 5K. I love to think about how I ran my first 5K in high school in 25:04. My freshman self would be so surprised to find that I can do three 5Ks in a row even faster than I could do ONE back in the day! Even though it was my first one, the 15K may actually be my favorite distance to race now-not breakneck speed (I think I’ve lost any semblance of speed I ever had), but not long enough to hurt too badly due to lack of training like I usually do in the half-marathon. 😛 But really, there’s some great mental aspect to be able to break up the race into three 5Ks.

I’m taking the confidence I’ve gained from these two fun fall races into my marathon training this winter, and I’m excited to see where it takes me when I really buckle down and focus on running!

Merck Manuals Student Stories Reblog: A Patient Patient

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Originally posted on Merck Manuals Student Stories.


“My parents abandoned me when I was five years old.” I listened intently, trying not to show the shock on my face, as the woman, about twice my age and sporting an edgy variation of a mohawk continued on. She had been drinking since her parents fed her beer in her baby bottle. She had smoked marijuana for decades. She had finally given up cocaine a month ago, “With a couple relapses,” and she was here today because of residual nose pain and bleeding from her years of drug abuse. With hours of lecture on seizure and anti-epileptic drugs to review looming over my head, this was not what I was expecting today.

For the past month, I’ve spent my Tuesday evenings shadowing a resident at the family medicine clinic, a couple blocks away from school. Before we saw the patient, the attending physician preceptor briefed us, informing us she had a complicated medical history and that her therapist had had to accompany and continually convince her, even just now in the parking lot, to come into the clinic today for her medical needs. Needing to run off to see another patient, the resident I was shadowing allowed me to gather and perform a full history and physical before she saw the patient herself. As a second year medical student, with little to no experience of working with, you know, actual real live patients, I freaked out, straightened up my short white coat, and knocked on the door.

I was nervous, but she was patient with me as I asked her questions and performed her cardiovascular, respiratory, abdominal, musculoskeletal, and neurological exams with pauses here and there as I gathered my thoughts. After finishing the history and physical, we chatted while we waited for the resident to join us. After telling me about her son, the main reason for her wanting to quit using drugs, and her trips hiking with her dog all over the state, a pastime we shared, she smiled and sighed, “You know, I was afraid of coming in here today. But you guys here are nice. You’re nice doctors.” I blushed at the compliment, not to mention her mistaking me for a full-fledged doctor.

Before coming in that evening, I was nervous about the time I would miss studying for my exam that Friday. However, all it took was a half hour with a patient who showed her appreciation for our time and a desire to better herself to help me see the bigger picture, one beyond books and test questions and one focusing on helping others.