Marathon Training Recap (Weeks 2-3) + Irrational Runner Syndrome

I really need to get the training recap for the last two weeks out of the way before I get THREE weeks behind.

But first, I did want to offer a little insight, into my brain, and maybe yours too.

Ever since Jen asked if we thought marathons were healthy last week, I’ve been considering some of the commentary that followed.  I think all but one commentator had run a marathon before, so it probably wasn’t the most diverse set of answers, but I think the point was made a few times that marathoners (particularly ones who spend time training and trying to improve speed and skill) usually have the type of personality that values getting the job done no matter what, even if it includes personal injury.  And not only that, we are actually tough on ourselves when we don’t push hard enough or when we don’t meet those goals. “Results-orientated” is our resume term of choice. None of this is groundbreaking information. And I really think this is a source of pride for many of us.

Anyway, on Tuesday, we did our first set of 800 repeats since the puking incident three weeks ago.  Except this time it was 88 degrees outside on a high school track with some teenage pole vaulting club team practicing on the sidelines.

I didn’t push myself to my limit (likely out of fear of making myself sick again but in front of snotty teenagers) AND I FELT SO GUILTY. I was a sad panda all evening.  WHY didn’t I push harder? WHERE was my mental strength when I needed to talk myself through the discomfort? HOW am I going to run a 3:25 marathon when I can’t hit my 800 goal pace more than once per workout?

And then I felt guilty for feeling guilty over something so stupid. People out there have REAL problems, Amy.

And then I just felt crazy.

20140530-130212-46932644.jpgThis is me, wondering if I’m crazy.  Also, I need to get better at taking selfies, because this is scary. 

(Sidenote: I’ve been hanging out in the Run Disney Facebook page the last couple of days because I’m trying to figure out if the Star Wars Half Marathon will be the one that finally gets me to shell out $195 for 13.1 miles, and I’ve come to learn that those Run Disney people are a whole different kind of irrational!).

Did I really want to push myself so hard that I made myself sick again? Was I that upset over my repeat times which were actually not bad considering the heat? Am I making decisions that are causing marathons to be unhealthy for me? And is this something I do regularly?

In addition to the usual stuff like running when something hurt or pushing when I should not have, I have definitely done things like loading up on ibuprofen before a race to make myself more likely to push through the pain (I don’t care if I break my foot during the race as long as I can run through it!).  And last weekend we did the final 4 miles of our long run in the middle of a lightning storm (we had the option of cutting the run short…but we didn’t).  While I tend to think I’m somewhat rational about the running thing…there is a very good chance that I am…NOT.

So, please tell me: what is one crazy thing (or 10) you’ve done for the sake of training?  Yes, I am using you to make myself feel like less of a weirdo. 

TRAINING RECAP: Week 2

Monday: 3 mile recovery run

Tuesday: Hill repeats:  We did 8 1/10 of a mile repeats.  I never really have pace goals for hill repeats just because it really depends on the steepness of the hill, and the distance is all over the place.  I mostly just aim to push hard and stay consistent for each repeat.  I think this workout went well.  There was a hawk circling around us though, probably thinking that we looked near death.

Wednesday: 3 mile recovery run

Thursday: REST DAY (we moved Thursday’s workout back a day since we had sod delivered.  I got a fantastic strength workout carrying the heavy rolls of sod around.

Friday: 10/15/10 Tempo run: This workout was wonderful! I hit 2 miles in just over 15 minutes, averaging about 7:47 per mile. The angels sang.

Saturday: 6 miles (this was supposed to be faster, but we didn’t want to do back-to-back speed workouts followed by a long run, so we cruised it).

Sunday: 12 mile long run (10:14 average pace)  This went much slower than last week for a whole bunch of reasons, but mainly because I ran with a hydration pack for the first time ever (I’ve always used belts before).  I also had run out of sports bras, so I had to wear a supportive top from Lululemon with a decorative cut-out in back. Those two things didn’t mix.  The pack rubbed my skin so raw.  Luckily, I met up with Aaron at one of our long run “checkpoints” (since we don’t run at the same pace), and he had a bandanna that I could use as a bandaid.  It still sucked.

20140530-125620-46580470.jpgCathryn the Brit said this looks like a ninja and I agree! 

TRAINING RECAP: Week 3

Monday: 3 mile recovery run

Tuesday: 3 miles at half marathon pace (ran it with a 8:08 average pace): We ran this as part of a running group on a course that we didn’t create.  The course had 2 long stretches of uphill that really slowed me down on the last mile, ruining my average, but overall not a terrible run. Pushing speed on hills is never a bad thing.

Wednesday: 3 mile recovery run

Thursday: 10/15/10 tempo: I ran the tempo part with a 7:52 average pace which is slower than last week, but still within my goal range. The angels didn’t sing as loudly.

Friday: REST DAY!

Saturday: 13 mile long run:  I forgot to charge my Garmin and it died about 6 miles in.  Up to that point, I was at a 9:50 average, but I know I got faster towards the end because of a lightning storm (nothing like the threat of getting struck to push the pace!).

Sunday: 6 miler: uneventful, and actually feeling really good.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

 

Marathon Training Recap: Week 1

Two years ago, I started doing a reflection of my marathon training every Monday in a series aptly titled Marathon Reflection Monday.  In this weekly series, I would detail what type of workout I was doing each day along with analyzing what was going well and what needed improvement.  It really forced me to stay on top of maintaining good habits while also giving me a record of everything that I was doing to reach my lofty first marathon goals. You can lie to yourself, but you can’t lie to your blog friends.

MRMThrowback to 2012

It is a goal of mine to reintroduce this weekly series, even though I don’t think I’ll be calling it Marathon Reflection Monday anymore because CHEESINESS.  Also, promising something on a Monday is kind of setting us up for failure.  I would have already been behind on week 1 since today is Tuesday.

Marathon training started one week ago.  Unlike most of you crazies, it is my preference to only train for 1-2 races big  per year.  My last big race was at the beginning of September, so I’ve spent the last 7 months happily doing things that aren’t training (mostly home improvement projects…house update post coming soon!).  While this has helped me get to the start of training excited and hungry to work my ass off, it also means that I’m really out of practice.

For example, Garmins need to be charged or they will die.  Similarly, dehydration will cause side stitches and lots of them. Not to mention that when you start getting the clammy cold sweats, you might be close to throwing up.  All valuable lessons that I learned this week.

THIS is why I need the 18 week plan…two of those weeks are purely there to use as a grace period.

MONDAY: 3 mile recovery run

TUESDAY: 800 repeats:  By race time, my goal is to consistently hit the 800 meter distance in 3:25 for 8-10 repeats which loosely translates to a “Yasso 800” workout (no, I don’t buy the concept, but I do use it to determine my 800 speed).  This week we started at 4 repeats.  I was running the last one at the 3:25 pace when I got sick.  So, I guess this means that I have a long way to go.

WEDNESDAY: 3 mile recovery run

THURSDAY: Tempo run (10/10/10):  I forgot to charge my Garmin, and it died 7 minutes into the 10 minute warm-up, so I really have no idea how I did for the speed part which was supposed to be at marathon pace (eventually, I would like this to be in the 7:50 minute range, but for now I’m working toward an 8:00 minute mile).  My shoulders did tense up which I know only happens when I run faster than I’m comfortable, so I hope that was a good sign.

FRIDAY: Rest day: we were thinking of doing yoga, but I ended up having to work later than anticipated, so we just drank wine instead. Working out on a Friday night is lame.

SATURDAY: 11 mile long run: for me, the long run is the best gauge for what I’m capable of on race day.  In order to feel confident going into Santa Rosa, I want to run my last 20 mile run at a “cruising” 8:50 average pace.  Until that point, I want to keep my average somewhere between 1 minute to 1.5 minutes slower than goal race pace.  Getting time on my feet and building endurance are far more important to me during long runs, so, especially this early, pace isn’t a primary focus.  I ran 11 miles at an average of 9:34 per mile, which is exactly where I wanted to be.

SUNDAY: 5 mile recovery run: I know it isn’t a popular training method, but we do utilize back-to-back longer runs on the weekend in order to get more miles on tired legs.  I did this for Chicago but laid off it a bit for Boston.  In the end, I think it helped so much more to do the two long runs on the weekend.  In the next week or so, the Sunday long runs will work themselves up to marathon goal pace and in general are about half the distance as the Saturday long run.  First week in, we used it as a recovery run instead of a speed workout.

TOTAL MILES: About 30 (I’m estimating 4 miles for the tempo run)

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Getting all of the miles in, and feeling like each workout was a quality one and a step toward reaching my goals. Also, I’ve started my visualizations.  I’m imagining what I will put as my facebook status when I hit my goal time on race day! (kind of kidding, but not really).

WHAT NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: Nutrition (during the week…all bets are off during the weekend), hydration, sleep, foam rolling twice a day, core exercises, weight lifting (so…just about everything except the running).

Overall, aside from little mishaps, I’m very pleased with how this week turned out.  I’m finally getting to the place where my body is embracing distance training.  I feel so much stronger going into this race than I did for Chicago two years ago (plus, I have the benefit of now having 2 full training cycles and races under my belt). I’m still terrified that something is going to go completely wrong, but this first week back was incredibly reassuring that I have the ability to reach my goals and a that 3:25 marathon is an actual possibility.

It Wouldn’t Be Training Without Some Spewage

Marathon training officially began 3 days ago and there have already been mishaps.

First, The Plan: that color-coded excel spreadsheet that will dictate my life from now until race day.

We are using the same plan we used for Chicago since it seemed to work well (I used a 12 week plan for Boston and that didn’t work so well).  We had extracted the spreadsheet off the hard-drive of our old non-functional computer, but we hadn’t actually updated the dates.

We figured Monday, AFTER our first official run was a good a time as any to put things into stone. But Aaron looked visibly confused as he tried to copy and paste it into the current calender. WHY WEREN’T THE DATES LINING UP?

Back when I was determining our training start date, I counted 16 weeks back from marathon day.  But the plan so carefully created by Coach Aaron…is actually 18 weeks.

That would make us 2 weeks behind.

I won’t pretend that I wasn’t stressed out by this. I had looked at the plan, titled “18 Week Marathon Plan,”  several times over the last month yet somehow managed to not notice that 16 weeks is not 18 weeks. Stupid is as stupid does. Or something.

I know in the long run, 16 weeks is plenty of time to whip our bodies into shape, and we’ve adjusted the long run mileage for the next couple of weeks to prevent ramping up too fast, but this wasn’t how I wanted my glory marathon to start off.

A twitter conversation with CathrynJen and a glass of wine later, I made peace with the situation.

I woke up Tuesday morning ready to tackle my first speed workout: 800 repeats.

I slept in too late to make it to the high school track, so I did this workout on our treadmill.  I was doing ok considering this was the first speed workout I’ve done since August.  I was on my last repeat, and I started to get to the point of wanting to give up, which isn’t abnormal. 800’s are my least favorite running related thing.  But I talked myself through it and I kept pushing, even when my body started feeling clammy.

With .1 mile left to go, I got the taste of bile in my mouth, and I jumped off the treadmill and ran to the guest bathroom just in time to toss the cookies (I was also extremely grateful that this happened in my home instead of in front of a bunch of high schoolers).

I’m not a stranger to nausea during a tough workout, but this is the first time that I’ve actually made myself sick.

On one hand, I’m kind of proud.  I didn’t give up until it became physically necessary to do so which (I feel) shows progress in mental toughness (and I admit that after the puking incident, I marched right back and finished that last .1 mile at the same speed I’d been going… which seemed totally reasonable at the time but actually probably means that I’m disordered).  Plus, when people complain about hard workouts, I can now say something along the lines of “BUT DID YOU THROW UP” and *usually* they say no.

Not quite, but almost.

On the other hand, I hate throwing up, which I don’t think is unreasonable. And I know that my traumatized stomach will push me to take the next speed workout more cautiously which isn’t what I want.

So, that’s my week of running in a nutshell.  On the plus side, I haven’t broken anything yet.

And I know half of you already have seen this picture on his blog, but Aaron, Giuseppe, and I got to hang out with Fifty States Dan and two of his friends this past weekend.  Dan ran his New Mexico race in Shiprock, and we were able meet up for some beers afterwads on Saturday night. I’m always amazed at how I can meet internet friends for the first time and not feel like we’re all awkward strangers.

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L-R Aaron, Ryan, Dan, Tom, Me (should be noted that this is the first time in like 5 years that Aaron has been beardless)

I think we probably kept them up well past their bedtimes considering Dan had a very early flight home the next morning, but there was too much local beer to introduce and too many musicals to discuss.  We’re holding some fancy Rebel Donuts and a nice man named Tom hostage in order to make sure Dan and Ryan (and Dan’s wife Stephanie, who sounds just as awesome) come back.

Anyway, I hope everyone is having a fabulous week!

Marathon Training Prep Mode

Hola!

If you are anything like me, then you were probably going NUTS yesterday when Shalane was leading the way (she ended up finishing 7th), when Meb just completely dominated and became the first American male to win the Boston Marathon since 1983, and while watching various real-life and internet friends pass timing mats along the course.  I wasn’t able to watch the live coverage, but thankfully twitter described things perfectly in real time. What a morning!

The whole experience made me so pumped to run another marathon and hopefully get the chance to run Boston 2015.

And really, all of this excitement couldn’t come at a better time.

I can’t believe that I’m about to say this, but training for marathon #3 starts in less than 2 weeks.  The whole thing seemed so far into the future when we signed up for the race back in February (or was in January?) and now here we are, about ready to embark on the madness once again. It’s so hard to believe that just 2 years ago, a bunch of us were heading into training for our 1st marathon together, and now we are all repeat offenders.

We are now less than 18 weeks away from Santa Rosa.

Not that I'm counting...

Not that I’m counting…

Aside from desperately wanting to pin on a bib again and run through the streets while strangers cheer me on, mostly, I’m excited to have something to blog about again.  It’s hard to maintain a running blog when all you have to talk about are 3 mile runs every once in awhile.  Soon the internet will once again be bombarded by my training recaps, and occasional (and by occasional, I mean weekly) panic attacks over not hitting paces or wondering how I’m supposed to run 26 miles at a 7:53 pace when I can’t even hit that during my 800 repeats (I just shuddered thinking about 800 repeats).

Fun times.

With 12 days to go until training officially begins, we are starting to get into preparation mode.

We have:

* Started building up the mileage again and we are now running 6 days a week

* We’ve been modifying our marathon training plan

Training Plan

* Purchased new running shoes

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* Started stalking up on our arsenal of coconut water, Nuun, and ClifShots

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* We’ve started to become reacquainted with our BFF the Foam Roller (we will become very intimate at least twice a day over the next 4 months)

Hi, Friend! I HATE YOU AND YOUR PAIN

Hi, Friend! I HATE YOU AND YOUR PAIN

* We’ve looked into getting a chiropractor appointment in to correct any lopsidedness

* We’re also planning some sort of “kick-off” event.  I love being deep and symbolic, so we always try to do some sort of ceremonial thing that prepares us for 4 months of putting ourselves through running hell which hopefully yields Marathon PR Glory.

Climbing a mountain to kick-off Chicago Marathon Training in 2012

Climbing a mountain to kick-off Chicago Marathon Training in 2012

It may involve climbing a mountain again (but a bigger one since the goals are loftier this time around), or maybe something else.  I have just a few days to decide.

Also, Despite all of my big plans, I haven’t signed up for any other races.  We might still sign up for the Run For the Zoo (10-K since the Half sold out) which is on May 4th along with some shorter summer races, but I’ve really just can’t make myself excited over anything available.

Random question: I need to change my blog reading system.  Right now I use the WordPress reader (which sometimes includes all of the blogs I follow and sometimes doesn’t), email subscriptions (I’ve kind of been slacking on email reading), and the Blogger reader for those bloggers not on WordPress.  I need something a bit more comprehensive because my current system isn’t quite time efficient. Any reader suggestions? I know this was a big topic maybe a year ago, but I didn’t pay attention.

What’s your next race?

Will we be late summer/fall marathon training buddies? 

 

 

4/13/2013 Boston Strong

There is a condition called The Anniversary Effect, “defined as a unique set of unsettling feelings, thoughts, or memories that occur on the anniversary of a significant experience.” (thanks to http://www.psychologytoday.com for that tidbit of information).

Over the last month or so I’ve been following the One Run For Boston facebook group which of course is comprised of many Bostonians.  Several have mentioned that emotions have really been running high in the city recently, and one woman commented that the anniversary has brought so much back up to the surface that people thought they’d dealt with months ago.

I have to say,  I’ve been thinking a lot about April 15, 2013 over the last couple of weeks.  It is still so surreal to think that Aaron and I were in Boston one year ago.

Of course, there are the marathon memories. The Scream Tunnel at Wellesley that gave me so much motivation, the feeling of badassery that came with hitting the top of Heartbreak Hill, and finally coming to the Right at Hereford, then the Left at Boylston with my first Finish Line sighting.  All wonderful memories of my time running my dream race.

But the memories of post 2:50 pm are so much more prominent.

I remember that Whitney (a blog friend who I had met at a race before) was the first person to text me and ask if I was ok.  At that point, we didn’t know what had happened, and she was the one that broke the news to me that there had been an explosion at the Finish Line.

I remember all of the sudden getting a ton of messages, and having to post on facebook and twitter that we were all right.  Shortly after that, cell service was cut.

Slide1

I remember having so many racing thoughts during our 2 mile walk to our hotel in Cambridge.  Wondering if another bomb was going to go off.  Wondering where I’d run if a building collapsed behind me.  Remembering back to a cold fall day in October, the day after the Chicago Marathon, sitting in a Bacon and Beer Bar in Chicago, deeply conflicted over whether or not I should register for Boston 2013 or hold off until 2014, and thinking that I should have listened to Aaron and waited to run.

But the most clear memory for me was getting back to our hotel, turning on the television, and seeing footage of the Finish Line, where I had just been, getting blown up.  My body tried to cry, but I was too dehydrated to produce tears. I will never forget the feeling of seeing that footage for the first time.

 

I have never experienced fear like I did in the following days.  We went into Boston the next day and I couldn’t walk past any trash cans without wondering what was in them.  There were armed guards with automatic rifles on every corner.  We drove into New York that night, and even though we were far away, I couldn’t sleep.  Back home in Albuquerque on Wednesday, I still felt so vulnerable.  It wasn’t until I woke up on Friday morning to see that the suspects were in hot pursuit that I felt any relief.  When the younger brother was found, I felt the weight of the world lifted off my shoulders.  It is unfathomable to me that so many people live in that type of fear for an entire lifetime because it was truthfully maddening.

Slide3

I do believe in moving on and focusing on the positive, but sometimes, especially on milestones like anniversaries, reflecting on what we’ve been through is the only way to look forward. The more we talk about our bad experiences, the less power they have over us.

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But, more than our experiences, April 15th is about the amazing people who have shown strength in the face of adversity.

During the last year, we’ve seen stories of SURVIVAL.  264 people were injured, and 14 of them required amputations.  Despite this, we’ve seen them overcome.  We’ve seen them get engaged, get married, and start families.  We’ve seen them rock climb and train for marathons.

They haven’t lied about their struggles, but more often we’ve seen them smile,  and we’ve seen how much life goes on after tragedy. They inspire me every day.

The phrase “Boston Strong” has come to be the mantra of Bostonians, the people who were there like us, and all runners who have ever crossed a finish line or had supporters cheering them on from the sidelines.

AP Photo/Elise Amendola

CHARLES KRUPA/AP

There have been far more stories of hope and strength in the last year than of fear and terror. Just my experiences with One Run For Boston this past month have shown how supportive we are of each other and our community.

Sadly, there will be other acts of terror and other senseless violence.  Just this weekend three people were shot in Kansas City for no other apparent reason than being Jewish. Last week a teenager stabbed more than 20 of his classmates. Today is just one of many anniversaries that will draw forth strong emotions of loss.  But we will go on, and we will endure.  Days like April 15th will come to symbolize our patriotism, our pride, and our strength in the face of evil. And I firmly believe that good will always triumph.

“Turn from evil and do good.  Seek peace and pursue it.” – Psalm 34:14

In honor of all those who lost their lives and whose lives were forever changed on April 15, 2013 including:

Krystle Campbell, 29 Fatal injury

Martin William Richard, 8, Fatal injury

Lingzi Lu, 23, Fatal Injury

Sean Collier, 26, Fatal Injury

Richard H. Donohue Jr., 33, Severe injury

Kaitlynn Cates, 25, Severe leg injury

Brittany Loring, 29 severe head, leg and arm injuries

Sydney Corcoran, 17, severe leg injury,

Liza Cherney

Heather Abbott, 38, Severe leg injury

Jeff Bauman Jr., 27, Severe leg injury

Roseann Sdoia, 45, Severe leg injury

Jacqui Webb, Severe leg injury

Patrick Downes, 30, severe leg injuries

Jessica Downes, 32, severe leg injuries

David Yepez, 15, Head and arm injuries

Jarrod Clowery, 35, Hearing loss, leg injuries

Aaron Hern, 11, Leg injury

Remy Lawler, 25, Upper leg injuries

JP Norden, 31, Severe leg injury

Paul Norden, 33, Severe leg injury

Caroline Reinsch, 39, Severe leg and ear injuries

Christian Williams, 41, Severe leg and hand injuries

Adrianne Haslet, 32, Severe leg injury

Adam Davis, 33, Severe foot and leg injuries

Sarah MacKay, 21, Severe leg and ear injuries

Ron Brassard, 51, Severe leg, artery, and nerve injuries

Karen Brassard, 51, Severe leg and ankle injuries

Krystara Brassard, 20, Severe hip and ankle injuries

Karen Rand, 52, Severe leg injury

Alvaro Galvis, 62, Severe leg and buttocks injuries

Martha Galvis, 60, Severe leg and hand injuries

Beth Roche, 59, Severe leg injury

Marc Fucarile, 34. Severe leg, chest injuries

Erika Brannock, 29, Severe leg injury

John Odom, 65, Severe leg injury

Eric Whalley, 65, Severe head injury, other wounds

Ann Whalley, 65, Severe leg injury

Sarah Girouard, 20, Injuries to lower extremities, received surgery

Celeste Corcoran, 47, Sydney’s mother, severe leg injury

Nicole Gross, 31, Severe leg and ear injuries

Marilyn Kight, 63, Severe leg injury

Denise Richard, Severe upper body injury, Martin Richard’s mother

Jane Richard, 7, Severe leg injury, Martin Richard’s sister

Denise Spenard, Abdominal injury

Lee Ann Yanni, 31, Severe leg injury

J.P. Craven, 24, Head injuries

Michelle L’Heureux, Severe arm and leg injuries

Darrel Folkert, 42, Leg injuries

William White, Severe leg injury

Victoria McGrath, 20, severe leg injuries

Michael Gross, 38, Head injuries

Michelle Connolly, 52, Head injuries

Nicholas Yanni, 32, Temporary hearing loss

Ascer Barlatier, 35, Wounded in chest and leg

Jenny Chung, Shrapnel wounds

Dan Soleau, 36, Hearing loss

Ryan C. McMahon, 33, Back and arm injuries

Mery Daniel, 31, Severe leg injury

One Run For Boston Relay Recap

There is a little baton named Miles Junior who spent the last month traveling in the sweaty hands of runners across the country.  He made it to his final destination, the Finish Line on Bolyston Street in Boston, yesterday evening and served as a symbol of the solidarity against the senseless act of terrorism that hijacked The Boston Marathon last year.  (Miles Senior, who made his way across the country last June, lives at the BAA offices).

Photo from Danny Bent, One Run For Boston

But three weeks ago, Miles Junior was hanging out here in New Mexico, and Aaron, my dad, and I had the distinct privilege of carrying him for almost 35 miles between us in his cross-country journey.

To catch up anyone sitting there like, “HUH?”: The One Run For Boston is a cross-country relay that started in Santa Monica, CA on March 16th and ended in Boston yesterday, moving 24 hours a day, rain or shine (or tornadoes as the case was in Missouri). The concept was created by three British mates (see, I can hang with the British lingo!) who felt the overwhelming need to help the people of Boston who were affected by the bombings.  Last year, they dreamed up this cross-country relay and brought it to fruition, and we were part of the inaugural run (you can read that recap HERE).  Round Two was organized to conclude near the one-year anniversary of the bombings.

This year, we signed up for stages on Sunday, March 23rd somewhere in the western part of the state, south of Albuquerque. While our stages this year were much closer to home than last year’s, we still decided to drive an hour south and stay in a small town called Socorro overnight to prevent a very early morning trek out to Middle of Nowhere.

This year, we also decided to take Giuseppe with us on his first big overnight adventure.

America's Best Value Inn...truthfully not terrible

America’s Best Value Inn…truthfully not terrible

Unfortunately, Giuseppe was on edge all night in the strange environment with strange sounds, and an unusually high number of people seemed to arrive at midnight, so none of us Lavenders got very much sleep.  Aaron’s stage started at about 6:30 about an hour and a half away from the motel, so we got up at about 4:00 am after what I would call a 2-hour nighttime nap.

My dad had opted to stay in a small motel closer to Aaron’s start (smart man, that father of mine), so we drove out to pick him up before heading to the meeting point of  County Road A095 (thank goodness the relay organizers provided coordinates, because we could just copy them into our GPS to get an exact location instead of trying to find A095 on our own in the dark open wilderness).

When we arrived at the start of Aaron’s stage, a man was waiting there for us in a pickup truck.  That man, Scott, who flew in from Pennsylvania, had been traveling with the relay since Phoenix.  His brother Will, who came in from Fort Collins, CO was the current runner with the baton.  Will, who we met last year during the relay, was being supported by a woman from Phoenix named Amanda, and the Brits, Danny and Kate, who are some of the most awesome people you will ever meet, were with them.

We climbed out of the car to meet Scott (and gave hugs because this group of people is kind of obsessed with them), and realized that it was in fact freezing in a very unexpected way.  About 17 degrees actually.  When Amanda drove up, she was wearing an actual adult onsie covered in rubber ducks that they found in a K-Mart to keep her warm because she was similarly not anticipating an encounter with the tundra.

As we were all talking and devouring some Breaking Bad donuts that I brought, we saw a light slowly bouncing its way towards us, which turns out was Kate running with the Baton.  Aaron prepared himself as best he could for the frigid 13 miler he was about to embark on.

Since the relay had fallen about half an hour behind, Aaron wasted absolutely no time in the hand-off (plus, it was cold and we all wanted to be back in our warm cars).  With little to-do, Aaron started his stage into the sunrise.  He reported later that ice formed on his beard.

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Aaron and Kate in a very cold Baton hand-off.

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As the sun came up, the temperature rose, and each time I stopped to give Aaron some water, he stripped off some layers.  We slowly made our way closer and closer to Pie Town, NM where I would take over baton duties from Aaron.

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Aaron and his sushi hat…I can’t make him stop wearing it!

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Photo from Danny Bent, One Run For Boston

I can’t say that I’ve ever heard of Pie Town before this relay, but apparently it is well know for (wait for it…) PIE.  There are exactly two pie establishments in Pie Town and maybe 2 non-pie establishments.  The place is tiny, but I was so excited to get to run through a place dedicated to Pie! Sadly, there was no pie to be had in Pie Town.  Things didn’t open up until about 10:00 am, and despite some begging from some cold runners and friendly Brits, no doors were opened.

Thanks to Aaron’s super fast running skills, he ran into Pie Town about a half hour ahead of schedule.  I asked the Brits if they’d rather we wait for a bit in order to keep the relay on time, or if I should just go for it.  They decided it was best for me to keep going in case we got behind later in the day, so Aaron and I did our symbolic hand-off, and I started running. But first, I had to take a Miles Selfie in front of a Pie Town sign.

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It was now almost 9:00 am, the sun was up, and the temperatures were warm enough for me to strip off my Boston Marathon long-sleeve pretty early into my stage.  This year, unlike last year, we were so far ahead of schedule, that I had the luxury of really just enjoying my run.  I was able to enjoy the scenery, take photos, and even upload some to the facebook group and instagram when I had data and cell service.

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This year, Toyota donated the relay support vehicle, so Danny and Kate made it across the country in style, plus the car doubled as a moving autograph wall for runners to sign.  Danny and Kate were great cheerleaders, blasting music next to me as I ran (they were belting out some song that I truthfully didn’t know, but it was nice all the same).

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My support car with Aaron, my dad, and Giuseppe stopped every couple of miles to cheer me on with water and snacks.

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What support crews do in Middle of Nowhere

It turns out that I had the highest elevation point of the relay.  I was a bit worried, because 8,100 feet is about 2,000 feet higher than Albuquerque, but overall I was feeling pretty good and only noticed the lack of oxygen a couple of times.  Whereas Aaron had the steep uphills, I had the long uphills,and while a year ago that might have been an issue for me, (uphill is my weakness in a big way), I actually felt really strong pounding out the uphill miles. At some point I crossed over the Continental Divide which was kind of cool (less cool though because I didn’t actually see the sign, and I had planned on a Miles Selfie).

After that curve, the uphill keeps going.

After that curve, the uphill keeps going.

The highest point was pretty easy to identify based on my ability to inhale, and after I hit the summit, the rest of the stage was glorious downhill.

Miles had been redesigned this year and was much easier to hold.  I actually feel like I bonded more with him this year as we braved the wild west. I started thinking about all of the people who had held him before me, and all of the people who would hold him after, and as I was taking Miles Selfie pictures, I imagined all of the places that he would see and the landscapes that he would run though.  He might be the most personified cylinder of plastic that I’ve ever met!

Before I knew it, I could spot the entourage at the side of the road, signaling that my 12 miles were almost up.

In addition to my support crew, I had hundreds of people following along via the facebook group (there was some sort of glitch with the baton tracker GPS for about 2 days, so they couldn’t see exactly where we were), and I was sad to know, that once again, my time carrying the baton for Boston and for the survivors was coming to an end.

My dad was taking over the baton for me, but two other people had signed up to run with him. We were still running ahead of schedule, and the other runners hadn’t made it to the meeting point yet, and this was one of those points without cell service.  This turned out to be a good thing because Will, the IT guru of the relay who knew the secret to all baton issues, needed to do some surgery.

HOW MANY RUNNERS DOES IT TAKE TO FIX A BATON?

HOW MANY RUNNERS DOES IT TAKE TO FIX A BATON?

DeAnza is also from Albuquerque and she had three adorable little kids with her (her husband is serving with the military in Korea).  Steve is a track coach/cowboy from a small town in that area called Magdalena, and looked to be a pretty serious runner type.  He had his daughter, son-in-law, and adorable grandson with him.

Even though there wasn’t a true hand-off, they still headed into their 9 mile stage with a bang.

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As they made their way with plenty of support from other people, Aaron and I took this opportunity to head toward their finishing point and take a nap.

About an hour later, slightly more rested than before, we saw the trio triumphantly running their last little bit, and I snapped a picture that was actually used in a USA Today video about the event!

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They came to the end of their stage in a small town called Datil, and handed the Baton off to Matt, a runner from Albuquerque (originally from Boston) who was one of the qualifiers who didn’t get a spot in this year’s marathon.

As Matt made his way across New Mexico, we continued to bond with Brits, make friends with runners who had stages later in the day, and check out Very Large Array, which is a huge field of satellites in the middle of New Mexico.

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And, I am happy to report that in all, I only had to pee on the side of the road TWICE this year which is about 1/3 of the amount of times I had to last year.  I consider this a One Run For Boston victory.

Overall, I will say that the whole experience felt different this year, though not necessarily in a bad way.  Last year, there were less runners and the focus was on getting the baton across the country.  This year, the focus was on raising as much money as possible for the people most affected by the bombings.  Everything felt far more emotional this year, and I can’t imagine what the atmosphere must have been like when the baton crossed the finish line last night, led by the survivors of the attacks.

Everyone is in a process of healing, and with the upcoming anniversary, I’ve heard that people from  Boston are feeling very stressed and emotions are running high. I’m glad that an event like this exists to help facilitate some positivity and hope, and even possibly the celebration of resilience.  Walkers/runners/people in wheelchairs were all invited to participate. To date, we have raised over $434,000 for the One Fund. People like me who couldn’t be at the finish line this year were able to run in solidarity with more than 2,000 baton-carriers across the country. The little baton I held for 12 miles was also carried by people who have overcome so much to be running today. Sometimes I forget that people are willing to stand up and help those in need.  An event like this shows just how much can be accomplished by some big ideas and some running shoes.

And that is absolutely amazing.

LOVE this photo of me taking a photo! Courtesy of Danny Bent

LOVE this photo of me taking a photo! Courtesy of Danny Bent

A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

-Margaret Mead

A special thanks to the wonderful blog friends who donated to my run: Hyedi, Dan, and Dominick.  You can still donate HERE to the One Fund via my One Run For Boston fundraising page.

Back in the Double Digits

(Written and edited during my lunch break, so apologies because there WILL be errors and probably some prepositions at the ends of sentences, but it has been almost 3 weeks, and I needed my blog post writing fix even if it means typing while spilling guac on my keyboard!).

I knew someday it would happen.  Someday, I would be able to go more than 5 miles at a time and not wish death upon running.  It was a bit touch and go there in January and February, but with enough repetition, running was bound to get easier at some point.

That some point came two weekends ago with a 9 mile run.  I won’t complain about New Mexico weather because truthfully, since January, it’s been about 97% glorious with highs in the high 60’s.  But, on this particular Sunday, it was raining and snowing, and while we treasure those rare moments of moisture, most desert dwellers do believe that we will melt like the wicked witch.

So, I set out with my sunglasses, shorts, and light pullover to run 9 miles in the moisture.  There were a surprising number of other runners braving the elements, but they all looked prepared for a Niagara Falls excursion.  Two walkers were even using those poles used for hiking…on a flat asphalt surface…I got many a sympathetic look as I made my way across Tramway (one of about 2 long, flat-ish running routes in the city).

And, for whatever reason, it felt awesome.  I HAD taken the entire week off before that though because of some weird pain in the ball of my foot (according to WebMD, this is caused by the fact that I am *almost* 5 feet tall and wear high heels everyday just so people can see me). I couldn’t walk on it for about 2 days.  It healed on its own, but I don’t really know why it happened or how to fix it.

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Worried that the amazing 9-miler was a fluke, I set out for our 10-miler this past Sunday slightly nervous, because 10 miles is kind of a lot of miles. DOUBLE DIGITS is a lot of digits.

But I cruised along, and before I knew it, I was at mile 8, amazed at how little I had even thought about how many miles I was adding to my Garmin.

Lesson learned: if you keep running, eventually your body will get with the program.  Alternately, progress doesn’t happen over night. Don’t mind me.  Just trying to be inspirational.

I am finally feeling like myself again! I mean, I’m still running more than a minute per mile slower than I’ll need to be during those July/August 20 milers, but running isn’t sucking as much anymore, and my entire disposition is better because of it.

Which is good because my disposition needs all of the help I can get.  Between Daylight Savings Time (love the daylight, hate the screwed up sleeping pattern), that crazy vanishing airplane in Malaysia that hasn’t been found (I wouldn’t say I’m a conspiracy theorist, but I do love a good conspiracy theory, and I AM a “worst case scenario-ist” so the thought of an energy field sucking up something as big as a Boeing 777 is enough to keep me stressed for mankind), I’m kind of in need of something like a good run to get me through these days.

As far as the training-but-not-training that I talked about last post, I’m right on track.  Long runs are going well, and I should be good to fulfill my obligation of running 12 miles in the One Run for Boston Relay.

Speaking of that, it was brought to my attention that my stage is the highest in elevation in the entire event.  I will run about 11.5 miles uphill to reach a peak of 8,100 feet, and then start the descent only to reach the end of my stage and pass the baton.

As recently as September I trained at that elevation, but it was slow then and really, it can only be slower now.  And the baton has a GPS signal in it that allows everyone to see exactly where I’m at and how fast I’m going.  These relay people are REALLY into this event (I’m kind of becoming one of them), so I will probably have well over 500 people watch my progress which is kind of intimidating.

So, if you would like to support my efforts, you can donate to my fundraising page! 100% of your donation will go the the One Fund which supports those who were injured in the blasts.  You can donate to me HERE.

Do you know that most prosthetics only last an average of THREE YEARS and a set can cost up to $50,000 a pair? That means that someone like 27 year old Jeff Bauman, made famous as the subject of an intense moment of photojournalism in a wheelchair while “Cowboy Carlos” pinched his arteries, might have to go through 20 pairs of prosthetic legs costing $1,000,000 over his lifetime. I don’t ever want him or the hundreds of others injured to have to worry about whether or not they can afford what they need to live a normal life.   

Aaron is smoking me in our fundraising efforts, so now my main goal is to at least match his total. I would appreciate your help in this matter!

And since this post hasn’t been random enough, I did want to share that, per my 2014 bucket list, my new experience for February was going to one of those Sip and Paint concepts.

We did a Living Social deal at a place that was doing a knock-off version of the franchise.  While most of these things have one painting that everyone is guided through, we just got a canvas and had to go at it.  Now, I am descended from an actual French Impressionist from the late 1800’s and a great great uncle was the contributing sculptor to The Atlas in Rockefeller Center, and I don’t think I’m unartistic by any means, but I don’t know how to paint.  Aaron on the other hand is an actual artist (I have yet to find something that he isn’t good at) and manged to whip up something amazing in our 2 hour session.

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Hope you are having a wonderful week!

Base-Building/Maintaining/Attempting To Not Lose “It” In General

I still have more than two months until our official 16-week marathon training begins for Santa Rosa, so in the meantime, I’m in this Limbo Land (of the non-dancing kind) where I’m not required by Hal Higdon, or anyone else for that matter, to run at all much less any set distances or workouts.  Yet, to be able to start training for an aggressive PR marathon, you have to actually be in pretty good shape when you take that first 10-mile long run step. So I really should be running and covering some distance.

But, because I live in a state of paranoia, I believe that running more/harder than I’m supposed to is a recipe for injury and disaster, neither of which are useful. I’m scared to actively work at getting faster now because speed training seems to be the culprit of any weird aches and pains that I get.

I’m caught in this “why would I attempt to push the pace on a long run now if I don’t have to” vs. “I HATE that it is taking me 1 hour and 20 minutes to run 7 miles.”  I don’t like this place at all. It’s like I’m training, but I can’t actually train the way I want to.

I’m almost to enter into Year 3 of my runnerhood, and this is really the first time I’ve allowed a substantial break in between races, so figuring out the whole “downtime” thing is a pretty new area of study for me.

My last race distance was at the beginning of September.  We continued short bouts of running 3-4 miles until December, and then with the craziness of vacations, holidays, weddings, and sickness, I pretty much didn’t lace up my running shoes for about 6 weeks.  As I’m sure many of you can attest, you lose a lot in 6 weeks of inactivity.  We started running again in 3 mile spurts in mid-January, but it all felt so much harder.  Three miles seemed especially long, and the mere thought of ramping up to 5 miles just seemed like torture.

One Run for Boston is in about 4 weeks, and my leg is 12 miles, so we’ve been adding a mile to our run every weekend.  We ran 7 last weekend, and my feet hurt far worse by the end of it than they should have.

About a month after One Run is the Albuquerque Half Marathon, and about two weeks after that is the Run for the Zoo Half Marathon which happens to fall on the same weekend as our official marathon training kick-off.

As mentioned before, I want to do both of these races, not necessarily to gauge where I’m at speed wise, but more to get in the groove of racing again.

Downtime Dilemma.

I know that with the way I’m going, I’ll be probably hitting very substantial personal worsts in any race/relay that I do prior to official marathon training. I really (really, really) don’t like the thought of running personal worsts. At all.

On the other hand, any attempt to train for and “race” these events will likely interfere with my goal of entering marathon training uninjured and free from burnout.  Santa Rosa (even though it isn’t for another 26 weeks) is my priority, and I’m trying to make decisions over the next couple of months that support that, even if it means running practice races slower than my pride will let me.

I have two months to reconcile this in my head. I know this is way overdramatic, but I’m really not a “racing for fun” type of person.

Other efforts I’m taking during “downtime:”

1) Heavy weights to build leg muscles: Weak muscles result in overcompensation (resulting in injury) in other muscles. But, heavy weights result in tired and sore legs which do not make for great runs.  I’m trying to build muscle now so I don’t have to run 800’s with a sore bum.

2) Yoga: Being limber and stretched out is good. Being tight is bad. The more I can start training with un-tight muscles, the better.

3) Paying a ridiculous amount of attention to every little niggle, no matter how slight: Pulling in my calf? Lower back aches? If I notice it, I’m trying to address it immediately. I want to enter into marathon training feeling 100% because Lord knows it won’t last very long.

And, because it is Friday and Fridays are happy, here is my jam of the moment.  It makes me want to dance in the streets! But not too hard.  I don’t want to injure myself!

Have a fantastic weekend!

And We Have a Winner!

(Sorry, this was scheduled to go up early this morning, but obviously it did not!).

It’s time to announce the winner of the Spartan Race Entry Giveaway!

In a highly sophisticated manner, I numbered all of the comments and used an online random number generator to determine the winner.

And that lucky person is……(drumroll, of course): Static Seth! Congratulations! I’ll send you an email later on today with the details!

Thanks to everyone who entered! Remember to check out the Spartan Race series for upcoming events.

And happy Valentine’s Day! It appears as if Cry Me a River is the anti-love song of choice, so if you don’t have a reason to celebrate, Justin is there for you.

Committing to Marathon #3

FIRST: Remember to enter to win a free race entry into any 2014 Spartan Race! Right now, your chances of winning are pretty darn high! Winner is announced tomorrow. 

There is some sort of general theory suggesting that no matter how painful pregnancy and/or childbirth might be, and no matter how much someone might swear that she will never (ever, so help you God) subject herself to this torture again in the moment, most women look back 1-2 years later and remember 36 hours of labor as “bad, but not THAT bad,” and many (most?) decide to do it all over again. Multiple times.

(I am obviously at the life stage where 75% of my facebook friends are either pregnant or have a child in the newborn/toddler range).

While I have yet to bring myself to the whole childbirth thing, I think that this general theory also applies to marathons.

While there is nothing like the pride I experienced crossing the finish line at Chicago, my body HURT so very bad in ways I didn’t think possible starting at about mile 22, I was violently sick to my stomach all day, and I couldn’t walk like a normal person for about a week. Stepping up from the street to the sidewalk? Forget about it.

I thought, “wow, that was a great accomplishment, but this distance isn’t for me, or even humans in general.” Yet, despite all this, I registered for Boston the next day.

The whole cycle did a repeat 4 months later.  Except, when I crossed my second 26.2 finish line, I knew that I would do another one in the (far off) future when I could forget about blisters and chaffing.

Slide3Who’s idea was this anyway?

I didn’t apply to get into Boston this year.  I could have used my Chicago qualifier again, but I decided in September that a trip to Boston in April wasn’t in the cards. Closing on our house probably had something to do with this.

Turns out, it wouldn’t have mattered.  My qualifier wasn’t fast enough to get me in. Truthfully, it was a blow to the ego.  I had never thought of my time, 1 minute and 5 seconds under, to be a “squeaker,” but in the end, it wasn’t even that.  It was just plain insufficient.

So, it was with renewed enthusiasm that I made a commitment to not only run another marathon, but also attempt another BQ and run a time that would, without any shadow of a doubt, get me into Boston 2015.

And perfect timing really, because all of that pain that I described above (soreness, sickness, blisters, chaffing, fatigue, aching feet, etc.) is now a very abstract memory.  Like, I don’t even remember what it feels like to seriously contemplate whether it would be less painful to just chop your feet off than run another step on them.

However, I suppose saying that I’m going to run a 3:27 marathon (that’s my goal, which is a big fat YIKES) is the easy part.  Training for it is much harder.  But before I can even begin to train, I need something to train for.

STEP 1: Choosing The Marathon

For me, choosing the right marathon felt similar (if not more intense) to figuring out what we wanted in a first house.  For both, we had a list of non-negotiables along with a list of things we could compromise.  Except, with a house, we could fix almost anything with enough time and money.  I can’t exactly remodel a marathon course to fit my needs.

So, what was I looking for?:

1) Held in June, July, or August: Since I’m going for a BQ, I need the race to be prior to September’s registration, which essentially eliminates all of the big fall races.  Add on 4 months of training, plus about 2 months of base-building, and I’ve crossed off all late winter/spring races off the list too.

2) Mild Summer Weather:  Since I’m looking at a summer race, it needed to be in an area that has at least some chance of not being ridiculously hot or humid.  This really limited us to the Coastal West part of the country, or the far Northeast.

3) Needs to compliment our strengths: That means a relatively flat course without a huge elevation gain and something at sea level to take full advantage of our training in the mountains. Mentally, I’d prefer a course that wasn’t 2 loops of a half course, and a substantial marathon field (1000+) because I do well when I have the energy (and competition) of other runners off which to feed.

4) Within close-ish proximity to New Mexico: to keep travel costs down. We’re talking second tier on the Southwest Airlines sale scale.

There were slim pickings after all of the elimination.  Slim pickings.

It came down to Eugene, OR and Santa Rosa, CA.

E vs. SR

These marathons were ridiculously similar.  Both are designed as “Boston Qualifier” fast and flat courses, both are held in smaller towns, both run on bike paths and scenic nature routes, both appear to be well-organized with lots of positive reviews from fast runners, and both offer post-race pancakes which is actually sounding really good right about now…

But neither offer substantial spectator support throughout the entire 26.2 miles (unlike Boston or Chicago), and both have courses that do a bit of back-tracking. And, considering my first two marathons were World Majors, these two are pretty small without the bells and whistles you get from having Shalane Flanagan somewhere ahead of you.

While Santa Rosa’s course seems a bit harder (runs on a slight uphill during the last few miles, and portions run on gravel) and the the field is considerably smaller (capped somewhere around 1600), in the end, the fact that that Eugene moved it’s date from mid-April to July this year (meaning potential hiccups), and the 2 hour drive from the Portland airport helped us in our resolve to choose Santa Rosa.  Eugene is also the weekend before my sister’s wedding, so Santa Rosa fit better into bridesmaid duties.

With a bottle of wine and a jacket (and rumors of a Lululemon bag!) included in the $125 registration fee, Santa Rosa also appears to offers more bang for the buck.  Plus, the fact that it is only 1 hour from San Francisco adds about 10 points. I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned it (HA), but I’m obsessive over San Francisco. And wine.

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So, I will be attempting a Boston qualifying time at the Santa Rosa Marathon at the end of August (and hoping to meet some of you California folks!).

I am beyond myself excited (27 weeks and 1 day).  Training will officially start at the end of April, and I am looking forward to every 800 repeat in 90 degree temperatures and every 20 mile long run that I have coming up.  What pain? What torture? All I remember is the amazing feeling of looking down at my Garmin, and knowing.  I hope to have that feeling again.

The rest of our 2014 racing schedule looks pretty dismal, especially compared to all of the fun we’ve had over the last 2 and a half years. But I do need to get back into the racing groove with at least a couple of half+ distances because it isn’t second nature to me anymore.  What do I eat for breakfast? How many trips to the porta-potty do I need to make before lining up? These are answers I don’t think I have anymore.

1) Albuquerque Half Marathon: I really don’t like this race.  But, with the uninspired course, the heat, the smell of farm, and the small race size, it should help build up some mental toughness.

From 2012

From 2012

2) Shiprock Half Marathon: This is a HUGE maybe. Initially, I was thinking that the full version might be my goal race, but I don’t think the course lends itself to not-quite squeakers like me.  I do want to run it eventually because it is one of the best races in the state.  Plus, I’d get to see 50-states Dan in action as he crosses New Mexico off his almost complete list.  BUT, it is on the same weekend as…

3) Run for the Zoo Half: I love Run for the Zoo.  I ran my first ever 5-K here in 2010, and I haven’t missed a year since.  It really feels like everyone in Albuquerque is involved in some way, and I love all of the high fives you get from friends, co-workers, family, etc. as you turn into the last stretch.

So, there we have it.  One big race with the sole goal of qualifying (and wine), and some small local races.  And with any luck, the 2015 schedule will include a bus ride to Hopkington, a battle with Heartbreak, and a left on Boylston.

So, who wants to come join me in some running and wine drinking in Santa Rosa?

The expo is held at a winery, a bottle of wine is included with entry fee, and you actually run through a barrel room.  GOOD TIMES! 

Hope you have a wonderful three day weekend! Remember to spread some LOVE and eat lots of chocolate!’

*Also, thanks to the Santa Rosa Marathon facebook page for supplying most of the photos!