Nuun is fielding a team of fitness editors for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in Washington, D.C. on April 27. One of our team members, Sheila Monaghan, will tackle the half six days after running the Boston Marathon. Monaghan is executive editor of Equinox’s Q blog and an accomplished runner, duathlete and triathlete based in New York City.
What’s your motivation to do the Nike half six days after running Boston? What do you hope to run at both?
I ran the Nike Women’s Half in San Francisco back in 2009 and loved the experience—it was my first major women-only race, and I’ve wanted to do another ever since. Plus, I love D.C.; I lived there for some time after I graduated college, so I’m so excited to experience the feeling of racing in that city. The half marathon is my favorite distance, too. It’s long enough to require endurance but you can also run hard, so I find it really gratifying.
Boston is extremely special to me this year. I was at the race last year but, thankfully, had left the finish line area about three minutes before the bombs exploded. It’s been on my mind and in my heart ever since.
I knew I was going to come back to Boston no matter what, but in the weeks that followed last year’s race, I decided I wanted to try to break my PR of 3:11:38, so I’ve been training hard in the hopes of making that happen. If not, of course, there will be other races. But I’d love to come to the Nike Half with a new PR in hand, and run as well or better than my March NYC Half time of 1:26:00, if possible. It’s a tall order, but I’m going to go for it! That’s the fun and joy of racing, to me: Setting a goal and challenging myself.
Have you done such quick turnarounds before?
I have. My first back-to-back was Boston to Big Sur, six days apart, in 2011. I was terrified at the prospect, especially with the challenging hills in Big Sur. But it was magical – the scenery was so beautiful and I felt great. Later that same year I did the NYC and Philly marathons two weeks apart, and I set my PR at Philly, so I am a fan of the back-to-back. One training calendar, two chances to race! Last year, I competed in the duathlon world championships two weeks after I completed my first Ironman, so I’ve experienced the multisport two-fer as well.
Will you do things differently in the immediate aftermath of Boston than if you weren’t running the half the following Sunday?
There will be considerably less pizza and beer than there would have been without a race the following week. I will be focusing on maximizing my recovery those days immediately after Boston with ice baths, foam rolling, hydration and sleep. And then I’ll introduce some light running later in the week just to keep the legs fresh and ready to turn around in D.C.
Is it difficult for you to be so running-centric for a little while given your experience as a multisport athlete?
I feel little pangs watching cyclists in the park or seeing my triathlete friends post about their swim workouts, for sure. But I made a conscious decision to focus this first half of the year on improving my running times, and I knew that to do that, I’d have to turn off my multisport brain for a bit. I made a similar agreement with myself last year while training for my Ironman, that was my big goal and the other races couldn’t become priorities.
This year, I chose multisport races that take place in the late summer and early fall so I’d have time to catch up with my swimming and cycling after Boston and D.C. I’ve had people tell me that to hit my ceiling as either a runner or a multisport athlete I’d have to eventually choose one path, but I enjoy them each too much to do that right now!
Given that women now make up more than 60% of half marathon finishers, what’s your take on the role of women-only races in 2014?
I think women-only races are awesome, and I expect there will be even more of them in the coming years. They have such a great energy and vibe. Nothing against the guys! But I think these races give women runners a much-deserved platform, a place to both compete and to shine.
What’s your favorite Nuun product, and why?
I am bona fide obsessed with Cherry Limeade Active! It is my jam, and it got me through my Ironman training last year. The tabs are great for cyclists because you can pack them in your bike bag and refill your bottles when you’re out on the road (or at the 56-mile mark of an Ironman) instead of lugging around three or four water bottles.
Cherry Limeade has been my go-to for long runs this training cycle as well. I don’t do well with a lot of fluids or gels while I’m running—I have a sensitive stomach—and Nuun gives me the energy I need without making me feel like I’m drinking a heavy, syrupy sports drink. I repeat: I’m obsessed.