One Run for Boston Part II

Remember last summer when Aaron, my dad, and I volunteered to drive to the remote parts of New Mexico to run several miles through the desert, sometimes in temperatures hot enough to melt the asphalt under our feet? And if that wasn’t absurd enough, that I also volunteered to pick up a complete stranger named Ty from Maine at the airport so he could run with us?

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Just in case you don’t follow my life as closely as I do, last June a nice man from England emailed me because he and a couple of his British runner friends were organizing a relay across America in order to raise money for the OneFund, the foundation that supports those most affected by the Boston Marathon bombings.  We enthusiastically participated and made some friends along the way! (You can read the recap HERE).

Well, they are doing it again.

One Run for Boston Round II is kicking (running) off  this March in Santa Monica, California, traveling (running) across the country, and concluding in grand style at Harvard Stadium in Boston about a week before the 2014 Marathon.  Bart Yasso, the social media running maven from Runner’s World, has committed to running a stage along with almost 600 other people (Aaron, my dad, and myself included).

The relay runs though California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.

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The cost to sign up for a stage is $50 (they are also asking for a $250 fundraising minimum but you will not be charged if you don’t meet the fundraising goal and as far as I can tell nothing bad happens to you).  Most of the stages seem to be in the 5-17 mile range (I know a lot of people split up the longer stages).  There are also group stages organized in major cities along the way (cost is $25 for group stages).  You can get more information HERE.

All participants get a free t-shirt and access to a very supportive and encouraging online community along with the excitement of running in slightly oddball locations during slightly oddball hours while raising money for a cause that I know has touched many people in the running community.

Aaron, my dad, and I are all signed up for stages in New Mexico (they changed the route this year, so our stages are in a much more accessible place which makes me very happy).  I get to run through a place called Pie Town! I LOVE pie! I’m also hoping not to have to pee roadside this time…March is also typically much less scorching hot than June.

I would love to have you join our ORFB family! And, it goes without saying, that if you want to fly to Albuquerque to help us cover New Mexico, I will gladly pick you up from the airport (at least, probably…for all I know, I have a bunch of secret internet stalkers who are ax murderers…I would probably not agree to pick up someone who is an ax murderer)! You can also donate toward my fundraising goal HERE (this is actually the first thing I’ve done in the way of fundraising for this adventure).

I KNOW you want to be this cool too!

I KNOW you want to be this cool too!

Let me know if you sign up (or if you just want to come and feed us snacks and give us water).

Hope everyone had a wonderful first full week of 2014!

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The 117th Boston Marathon Race Recap

10:19 a.m., April 15th.  I was looking down compulsively at my Garmin.  I had activated the satellite location finder a few minutes before and it had sprung into action faster than anticipated (it usually takes 5 minutes), so I was worried that it would shut off before I could initiate the timer as I crossed the start line.

Lined up in corral 7 of the 2nd wave, my Garmin was my most pressing concern.  At that moment, the Boston Marathon was still just the Holy Grail of races for marathon runners, an impressive race for some non-runners in the know, and for most people in the world, an event with little to no importance.  In fact, I imagine that very few people outside of Boston or the running community had any idea at all that some 24,000 runners were nervously lined up in a small Massachusetts town called Hopkinton, waiting to embark on possibly the most coveted 26.2 mile journey in all of road racing.

I wish that was still the case. But, we all know what happens next.

I’ve seriously contemplated whether or not I should write a race recap.  After a lot of encouragement, I decided that while these people hijacked our lives and thrusted us into the era of successful “soft target” terrorism in America at 2:50 pm, I won’t let them have a second more.

So, let’s talk about the Boston Marathon as it was at 10:19 a.m.  A simple yet momentous road race that signified determination and achievement to runners across the world.

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Pre-Marathon Monday

Aaron and I flew into Albany on Thursday and explored three different states (and two counties) with stops in Saratoga Springs, Burlington, Hanover, and Montreal before making our way to Boston on Sunday.

We checked into our Cambridge Hotel, and took the “T” (Boston’s public rail transportation system of which I am personally not a fan) across the Charles River and over to the Copely Square station for the Expo. The historic town of Boston slowly came into view as we emerged from the underground, and we were greeted with a sea of blue and yellow jackets…2013 jackets…walking in all directions.  Apparently, in Boston, wearing the current year garb before the race is more than acceptable.  It is expected. It was here that I got my first glimpse of the famed, brightly painted finish line from the other side of the barriers.

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The Expo

The expo was held at Hynes Convention Center right on Boylston which is apparently a different location than it had been held in years past.  The expo is a 3 day long endeavor, but it seemed as if most people decided to go right when we went…at 1:30 on Sunday.  The bib distribution was held in a hallway and the process was pretty painless, but I was sad that they were out of my t-shirt size. TIP: Don’t wait until the last minute to go to the expo. 

When we entered the main expo and I was immediately overwhelmed by the hoards of runners crowding the narrow aisles, snatching up free samples and Boston themed merchandise (EVERY company has special Boston themed merchandise).  Luckily, the Adidas store was the first exhibit, so I was able to locate the Unicorn Jackets and buy myself one. They were well stocked, and none of the sizes appeared to be in danger of selling out.

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In a moment of non-run nerdery, I didn’t look up when any of the elite runners would be appearing (I only obsess over Kara Goucher every day, yet apparently I have no desire to actually see her), but we did come across Katherine Swisher, known as the first woman to (illegally) run the Boston Marathon.  As can be expected, she had a ridiculous line of fans waiting for her autograph, so I snapped this stalker type photo and moved on.

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We exited the expo, and hopped back on the “T” to get to Cambridge. We took the “T” twice during our time in  Boston and both times it took far longer than it should have to get where we were going.

Because of all the driving we’d been doing (from Vermont to Montreal the day before, and from Vermont to Massachusetts that morning), I wanted to do a shake out run (I do this before every race).  Our hotel was right on the Charles River in Cambridge, so we ran a lovely two miles with great views of the city.  All of my body parts felt ok, and overall it was a run that at the very least, reassured me of my ability to run 2 of the 26.2 miles required of me the next day.

We headed back to the hotel, showered at the speed of light, and met Jon, Ellie, Adrienne, Mike, and Susan downstairs for drinks.  If Jon wasn’t my first ever blog friend, he was pretty close, so it was one of those situations where you kind of forget that this is your first meeting.  They all ran the B.A.A. 5-K that morning, and I think just about everyone PR’d! We had a wonderful time talking about Boston (I complained a lot about the “T” to my captive audience), and I hope to meet up with everyone again should we make it back next year!

After drinks, Aaron and I headed across the River to Boston’s North End which is exactly like San Francisco’s North Beach…an entire neighborhood made up of small, family-owned Italian restaurants, aka, carb-load heaven.  I had made reservations about a month in advance at Panza on the recommend of Hyedi. The place was small and packed, and about 10 parties walked in with 7:00 reservations which they obviously couldn’t accommodate, prompting some of the locals to get quite heated.  I love the people of Boston, but they can be quite… high strung? We actually had to share a table with a couple from Sacramento (he qualified at CIM). It was nice to sit next to our fellow Westerners who were refreshingly laid back.

I ate the linguine carbonara with sangiovese (I don’t think that is a recommended wine pairing, but whatever).  The meal was perfect, and my glycogen felt sufficiently stored as we headed back to Cambridge to settle in for the evening.

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Marathon Monday

Despite my 10:20 start time, the logistics of the morning required a typical 5:00 a.m. wake-up call. I’ve never participated in a race that started after 8 in the morning, so I had to plan nutrition, water, bathroom, and supplies accordingly.  At the hotel I drank a glass of Nuun, but held off eating.  I showered, got all of my stuff together, and headed out the door at 6:10.  Aaron went with me into the city because the last thing the world needed was a nervous, sleepy runner trying to navigate the Boston public transportation system by herself.  Plus, he was planning on walking the Freedom Trail while I ran.

I had made arrangements to meet Beth and her friend Sheliah, also from Albuquerque, in the bus line.  She said to look for the tall blonde lady wearing a black baseball hat and throw-away clothes which easily described 30% of the population.  When we emerged from the underground,we were met the with sight of thousands upon thousands of runners waiting for the bus (it took us over an hour to get through).  In some sort of miracle, we were able to find Beth and Sheilah, and we hopped in line.  Sheilah has run Boston multiple times, so she was a great resource.

At 7:30 I ate a Luna bar, and was mindfully sipping water throughout.  Somewhere in there, we came upon a group of porta-potties.  They were emitting a pretty rancid smell, so I was hesitant to use one, but Sheliah assured us that even after we got to Hopkinton (an hour drive), we’d still have a long wait, so using it now was a really smart choice.  I heeded her advice, and it was absolutely the right decision. TIP: Use the porta-potties in the bus line.

IMG_0745 IMG_0744Bus line craziness

By my estimation, school buses from the entire state were being used for marathon transportation.  They would load about 10 at a time, those buses would drive off in unison, and 10 more buses would drive up. The whole thing was being run by MIT students, and it worked like clockwork. I sat next to a man from Utah.  He had run Boston in 2008, and this time he’d brought his brother with him.  They both qualified and they were going to run and cross the finish line together! I hope they were able to do it.

IMG_6402I’m waving!

The drive was pleasant.  I got to see some of the Boston suburbs and multiple crew teams training in the river. You could feel the excitement on the bus as we reached the town of Hopkinton and pulled up to our final destination, the Athlete’s Village.  As a seasoned pro, Sheliah led us away from the herd and up toward the bag check (there was a lot of uphill walking) toward a second set of porta-potties with less people (still about a half hour wait).  TIP: Bring toilet paper because there was none to be found.  Luckily I noticed with enough time to make necessary adjustments, but I can imagine there were some uncomfortable situations.

In a moment of desperation, I decided to pop a couple of ibuprofen.  My calf had been giving me issues for weeks, even driving me to see a specialist, and I had lost my most valuable training weeks trying to rest it.  It hadn’t been bothering me during our last few shake out runs, but I didn’t want to get a few miles in and be in pain.  This isn’t something that I think you’re supposed to do, but if I’ve learned anything, it’s that marathon runners aren’t particularly rational when it comes to racing. And, of course, the pain relief starts fading right at about 3 hours when you need it the most.

I had opted to stop drinking water aside from small sips after 9:00.  I ate a banana at about 9:20 (1 hour before start). We started organizing our stuff, peeling off the layers (it was comfortably warm at this point), reapplying sunscreen and body glide (apparently I did a good job…no chaffing!), and prepping to head to the start line. Gear drop off was fast and easy, and with little time to spare, we started on the LONG walk from the Athlete’s Village to the start line at about 10:00, and we had several Wave 1 runners (10:00 start time) frantically run past us. I’d heard that there was an epically long walk from the Athlete’s Village to the Start Line, and turns out this was not an exaggeration.

Much to my surprise, a whole colony of porta-potties was situated at the start corrals.  These ones had toilet paper and the lines only 1-2 people long which was a miraculous sight!  They also had what I can only describe as “out in the open” urinals…so that was awkward. TIP: Be prepared to see lots of peeing men. 

I parted ways with Beth and Sheliah as we headed into our respective corrals.  I got my Garmin set up, tried to focus my energy, and attempted to pump myself up (I forget what song was playing) as I heard the gun. AND WE WERE OFF!  I remember smiling, completely satisfied, as I started running and waved cheesily at the start line video camera.

Every course guide tells you to start Boston slower than you want to because it starts at a steep downhill.  For the most part, everyone started off slow, and kept that pace for the first half a mile.  But then, half a mile in, we got our first taste of spectating, Boston Marathon style.  And that resolve to keep a reasonable pace disappeared as every runner got caught up in the energy of the crowd.

The First Half

In my head, the first half of the race is a series of snapshots strung together.  It seemed jam packed with new sights and a new town every few miles.  Highlights include:

1) The huge “All in for… (insert town here)” signs as you exited each town.  I liked being able to check each town off a mental checklist as I ran through the course.  And each town takes great pride and pleasure in making sure you remember THEM as the best. I don’t remember why, but I have Framingham in mind as my favorite.

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2) Having about 10 kids jumping on trampolines with inspirational signs, and one at the end, holding up a giant Sam Adams cut-out.  Because what’s Boston without a Sam Adams cut-out?

3) The sheer number of people handing out wet towels/oranges/water/snacks/Popsicles, alcohol, Vaseline, etc. along the course.  These people literally spent their money on supplies for the runners and their day off handing them out.  While Chicago spectators were more entertaining, Boston spectators were far more functional.

4) How “amateur day” the whole thing felt.  Considering this is the marathon of seasoned professionals, I saw many rookie mistakes, like people just coming to a complete stop in the middle of the course (I literally ran into two people who did this).  I also saw more people stop to walk in the first few miles and along the entire course than I saw stop in the last 6.2 miles of Chicago. And men were peeing everywhere.  If we ran by a slightly wooded area, guaranteed there were male runners peeing in it.

5) The fun college kids. We passed by several college campuses, and a lot of areas where students lived.  You could easily identify them because the whole place started smelling like beer.  They were loud and enthusiastic cheerleaders.  I don’t remember any groups handing out beer specifically, but some girls were handing out jello shots, and cheered wildly when one runner slurped it down with experience in the earlier miles.

6) Noticing how different a race feels in the back.  For Chicago, I was near the front and the course was relatively clean.  In Boston, about 15,000 people had already gone through the water stations by the time I came through.  It was like running through a sticky Gatorade river of yuckiness.  I was sufficiently grossed out by the feeling of having Gatorade splash ups on the back of my legs.  And the cups.  They were everywhere.  I had visions of slipping on a cup and breaking my leg.

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Ewe.

7) People with homes along the course used the occasion to host big BBQ’s and parties in their front yards.  Marathon Monday is truly a day of celebration, and I was impressed at the atmosphere for the entire race.

8) Running by the Hoyt’s.  This is a father/son team who runs the marathon every year.  The father pushes the son (who is in a wheelchair), and they are easily the most popular (and maybe even the most famous) runners on the course.

All through this, I was keeping a pretty good pace and I was on track for a 3:35 finish time. It didn’t feel as effortless as my last few races, but I didn’t feel like I was pushing it to the point of epic failure toward the end either, and I was having fun.

I will say this though.  If I had never heard that this was a downhill course, I wouldn’t have described it as such.  There was downhill and, especially at the beginning, it was severely steep downhill.  But for the most part, the course was full of rolling hills.  I had done plenty of downhill training and quad strengthening, but I hadn’t done really any rolling hill training (mostly because it is impossible with the Albuquerque landscape). TIP: Train for rolling hills. 

Somewhere between miles 11 and 12, I started hearing a humming noise.  As I ran on, the hum increased in volume.  I started looking around at my fellow racers, and we all started smiling.  So this is what thousands of screaming girls sound like from half a mile out! And sure enough, in a few minutes, we entered the Wellesley Scream Tunnel, a stretch of road in front of Wellesley College where, what appears to be the entire student population, lines up with their “kiss me I’m from (insert home town/state/country here)” signs.  The energy was incredibly motivating!  I actually ran my fastest mile of the race during the Scream Tunnel. If only every race could include one.

The Second Half

We hit the halfway point, and I was starting to get worried.  I wasn’t feeling tired necessarily, but I felt a blister forming (my shoes were soaked from the aid stations) and my feet were staring to ache.  As we passed the half marathon timing mat, I heard a man say, “Oh, you all know the second half of this race is the easier part, right?”  We all laughed because we knew the worst was about to come.

I don’t recall how we entered Newton exactly.  I remember that most of the towns had beautiful signs announcing your entrance, so I’m guessing Newton was similar.  However it happened, I remember getting butterflies in my stomach.  Despite the fact that the entire course had been littered with hills, I knew these were different.  All of the hill repeats and elevation gain during long runs would come down to the next 4 miles.

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The Newton Hills are a series of four.  The first one is long.  The next two are steep.  But it’s the last one that gets you.  This one has been infamously named Heartbreak Hill because, not only it is both long and steep (though to a lesser degree than the other ones), but by the time you get there, you are 21 miles into your marathon and not in the mood to deal with any shenanigans.

The first hill felt long, but I managed to keep up my pace.  Just when I was feeling good again after the downhill, I spotted the sea of runners winding their way up the next hill. This hill was steeper, but it was shorter, and the downhill portion felt like a wave of relief.  But the relief was temporary as the next hill came into view.  I was starting to run out of steam, and my fellow comrades were losing it even more.  As much as I was slowing down, I was the person passing people.  In fact, several people started to walk.

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My mind starting getting fuzzy.  I had studied the course, but I suddenly couldn’t remember how many hills there were.  Three? Was that Heartbreak? Four? Or were there five?  I didn’t think I could take much more of this. I approached the base of the next hill, and started wishing with all my might that this was Heartbreak because I was done with these hills.  This was my slowest mile. I remember looking down at my Garmin and seeing my slower pace, and not even caring.  I didn’t have the will to push forward with any sense of urgency.

I reached the top and I was looking for the giant inflatable Boston College arch that let me know that Heartbreak was over.  I didn’t see it.  I immediately panicked, wondering if that wasn’t it.  The prospect of the largest hill looming ahead was frustrating.  But then, probably half a mile after that last hill, I spotted the arch. I had survived! Like most people say, Heartbreak Hill wasn’t all that bad.  But my legs had been fighting hills all race and I didn’t train well enough to not have it affect my pace, so it was a little bit heartbreaking for me.

Someone yelled, it’s all downhill from here! And I had a sudden resurgence of energy.

But that person lied.

The hills just kept going.  They weren’t big ones, but after Newton, I hadn’t really counted on having to use more energy on more hills. The last four miles felt really long.  I remember deciding (again) that marathons were stupid and I was especially stupid for running them.  I was incredibly envious of the drunk Boston College kids and how unmiserable they looked.

I also knew that Aaron would be somewhere around here.  I started looking back and forth, but we were now in Boston, and the streets were packed with spectators.  It turns out that looking back and forth for someone requires a lot of energy and focus. More energy and focus than I wanted to use. My calf was hurting, my IT band was hurting, my blister was hurting, and my feet were screaming in agony.  I could tell that the ibuprofen was wearing off.

IMG_6516Aaron’s picture from where he was waiting for me.  As you can see, blue tank tops were pretty popular.

IMG_6515Aaron’s picture: Elites making their left turn from Hereford to Boylston

At mile 24, I gave up looking for Aaron and instead switched to focusing on the finish. (Meanwhile, Aaron was at the 40K mat, chatting with none other than Bart Yasso. He didn’t see me pass by, and started back toward the finish area when he got the notification that I had passed the 40K mark).   I was tired, and I really didn’t feel like running another 2.2 miles.  I had to dig deep and focus on my mantras and remember the wounded warriors from Bataan and how any pain I was going through was insignificant.  Except in my head it sounded more like “THIS ISN’T PAIN,” and I knew what I meant.

I remember seeing the Citco sign, another noted Marathon landmark, and knowing that I was supposed to be excited, but not remembering if that meant I only had 3 miles or if I only had 1 mile, and that you could see it from deceptively far away, so I might still have 4.  My brain was done with the thinking.

Luckily, somewhere right around here, someone was blasting Don’t Stop Believing, which is my jam for life.  I owe much of my ability to finish to that person!

The course took a sharp turn to the right.  I looked down at my Garmin, and realized that, with only about half a mile left, I had officially taken THE right on Hereford. Hereford was short, and I could see the next turn (the big one) directly in front of me.  In my head, I was screaming something like “The left! The left!”  The left turn onto Boylston. I remember my first sighting of the finish line and being so happy that I was so close to it.  And I also remember thinking that there was STILL so far to go (I think almost half a mile).

IMG_6512The Finish line area.  This picture was taken at about 1:00

Slide1I LOVE this photo…what marathoners look like when they see the Finish Line for the first time.

I passed the 26 mile sign, and looked down at my Garmin.  I was at something like 3:38, and I was sad that my 3:35 had gone so far out the window during Newton, but if I hurried, I could get there in under 3:40.  So, I pushed as hard as I could.  I remember reaching the famously painted finish line, looking down in excitement, and realizing that the mats weren’t there, but several feet ahead.

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I crossed the finish line in 3 hours, 39 minutes, and 52 seconds.  6 minutes slower than my Chicago time, 5 minutes slower than a Boston qualifying time, and about 5 minutes faster than what I was expecting. I was elated, but I also felt slightly dizzy and weak. I started noticing runners collapsing all around me.  There were so many people, and I was starting to hyperventilate a little bit with claustrophobia.

I heard someone call out my name, and I looked over and was surprised to see my childhood neighbor Brandon (he guest posted here last summer!).  He works for ESPN and lives on the East Coast now and had gone to watch a couple of other friends run. We said a quick hello, but I knew I needed to keep moving. The finisher’s chute had all of the necessities for tired runners. First space blankets, then water, then Gatorade  then little snack packs with some amazing dinner rolls, and at the end, the medals.  I’m not sure if there was one of those backdrop photo stations.  If there was, I didn’t see it, but a photographer was standing there snapping as many people as he could.  So, my finish line photo was kind of gross with my space blanket.

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Gear check was at the end of the chute, and after a few minutes of waiting, a volunteer handed me my bag and I made my way back the opposite direction (walking against the crowd was pretty hard), and to the next street over from Boylston toward the family reunion area. I called Aaron and he said he was waiting for me at the “L” sign (they had signs with all the letters of the alphabet).  The letters were lined up on both sides of the street, and it turns out that “L” was pretty much the farthest back down toward the finish line, which felt pretty annoying at the time since essentially I walked the distance of the finisher’s chute twice. The annoyance turned to excitement as I spotted Aaron and he handed me a rose and let me know that I had a giant ClifShot goober on my face.  Lovely.  I had talked to my neighbor, taken my finish line photo, and talked to a bunch of other runners and volunteers with a giant poo brown goober. TIP: Use those wet towels handed out along the course to wipe your face.

I wanted to rest for a bit and munch on some items in my snack pack, so we walked down the street until we found an empty spot on the curb.  Aaron took my victory picture and texted my mom before coming to sit down next to me.  She replied back at 2:48 saying that I looked quite burrito-esqe, wrapped in my space blanket which was a pretty accurate statement. We were still laughing about my resemblance to a burrito when the first explosion went off.

IMG_0748About 2:45 p.m in my burrito outfit.

Post Race:

Once we got back to the hotel maybe an hour or so later (I had no concept of time), we sat downstairs in the bar watching the news. I forced half a cheeseburger down, really the first thing I’d eaten since the Luna Bar at 7:30, and ate a wedge salad much later at about 11:00 p.m., definitely not the post-race fuel I’d normally go for, but I wasn’t hungry.

IMG_6521Back safely in Cambridge.  I thought this was clever, and shows just how much the city embraces the race!

I actually recovered much faster than I did after Chicago which I attribute to the 2 mile walk to Cambridge after the marathon.

In Conclusion:

Even though I truthfully enjoyed almost everything about Chicago more, Boston is still a world-class race.  With so many potential logistical nightmares like busing 24,000 people 26 miles out of town before 10:00 am and setting up a course that runs through multiple municipalities, the execution ran like clockwork.  And the spectators had so much heart.  They did an amazing job of taking care of the runners, and I really think they, along with the dedicated volunteers are what makes this race so great.

From the social media interaction over the last 4 months, the “Unicorn Television” YouTube videos, the walking down the street and seeing a sea of blue and yellow jackets, and running from one historic town to the next, you aren’t going to run a marathon that will make you feel more special and more appreciated as a runner.  And while I was a bit worried about potential Boston run snobs, the general attitude from the runners was one of support and joy.  I had a wonderful experience (even during the miles when I wanted to punch the man who ran the first marathon…those are the miles that show you what you are made of).

I do want to make it clear that in no way do I feel cheated, and in no way do I feel like my experience or my achievement were taken away from me.  I got to finish (an estimated 5700 runners were stopped before crossing the finish line), I got to get a medal placed around my sweaty, goober-covered face, and I even got to celebrate with Aaron before the marathon became a national headline for all the wrong reasons. I fully intend to run this race again, because in the end, there is nothing quite like crossing the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Details:

Finish time: 3:39:52 (8:24 average pace)

Fuel: Luna Bar and banana pre-race, ClifShot (with caffiene) at miles 7, 14, and 21

Hydration: One glass of Nuun and one water bottle pre-race, alternating between water and Gatorade at every aid station (located almost every mile)

Gear: Brooks Adrenaline shoes, ProCompression socks, Lululemon Pacesetter skirt, Lululemon cool racerback, Nike Visor, LOTS of sunscreen and Body Glide

Favorite Moment: The Wellesley Scream Tunnel

Least Favorite Moment: running through aid stations and getting splashed with stickiness

Biggest Piece of Advice: Thank EVERY spectator and volunteer that you can

IMG_6706And with that, I am ready to move on.

ABQ 4 Boston 5-K

Yesterday, Aaron and I joined other local Boston Marathoners, Boston Marathon spectators (aka the husbands, wives, and children of the runners), and other Albuquerque runners/walkers to raise money for the Boston First Responders Fund.   Like many other people who were at the Finish Line, we’ve been searching for ways to provide meaningful support to the people of Boston. There is no doubt that the encouragement and hospitality from Bostonians toward the people who run the marathon is unparalleled.  They take their job as runner support very seriously, and they do it well.  During their time of need, we want to give that same support back to them.

This race allowed us to do that.  100% of every race registration went directly to Boston.  The goal was to send $47,00 from the 47th state, and while I thought they announced that we reached that goal, I think we came in at just over $30,000.  Still, an amazing effort with less than 2 weeks of planning!

Beth, who graciously let me hang out with her in the Hopkington bus line, was one of the volunteers, so we got to see her and meet other Boston runners including one guy who ran the marathon with a broken foot and STILL managed to come in much faster than me.  Boston runners got to lead the race as the other runners cheered loudly and gave us high-fives.  It was amazing to see the support not only for Boston, but for the people who ran the marathon.

Presentation1Leading the way! (I’m the one in yellow, Beth is wearing the adorable tank top that I wish I purchased)

The race started at 1:00 pm (kudos to the race people for getting this together so fast, but I would have been ok had the race started earlier in the day), and it was about 85 degrees yesterday.  I wanted to wear something from the race, but the only thing I bought at the expo was the Unicorn Jacket, so I opted to wear the long-sleeved race t-shirt with the understanding that this would likely be a very uncomfortably hot run. (It was).

After the ceremonial start, I pulled off to the side so I could run with Aaron, and I spotted Niecy, another Albuquerque blogger who I have corresponded with via the internet but never met (her legs alone are easily longer than I am.  NOT FAIR).  We did a quick double take (is that her? or not? maybe?), waved excitedly when we both realized that we WERE who we are, and then continued on our race.

The race itself was…interesting.  The course was mostly on soft sand, and I’m still not all that recovered from the marathon, but Aaron ran with me (this NEVER happens during races), and I think we did ok (neither of us wore Garmins, and the race was untimed, so I could be very wrong).

I also had a couple of ladies ask to take pictures with me.  It was quite humbling to have these people think I was cool enough to warrant a picture.  Also, I’ve decided that I’d make a really good celebrity!

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??????????????????????Sprinting toward the finish! 

???????????????????????????????Getting interviewed for the news (they didn’t end up using it because some dude went on a stabbing spree at a church and they had to cut the story short).  Thanks to my mom who was standing on the sidelines, rapidly snapping pictures during my interview! 

???????????????????????????????Group photo! I don’t know why we were holding the “pre-registered” sign…

While for us, the whole “moving on” thing is a day-by-day process, I think this event really showed us that 1) we aren’t alone, and 2) coming together as a community and supporting a city clear across the county is a great way to spend a warm Sunday afternoon.

A Big THANK YOU to Race Volunteers

You may not know it, but this week is National Volunteer’s Week (today is also Administrative Professionals Day, so don’t forget to to tell your favorite administrative professionals how much you appreciate them…or you know, buy them wine because they probably need it).

I work at a non-profit, so we do a lot of volunteer appreciation all the time, but I wanted to take a second to thank my other volunteers…RACE VOLUNTEERS.  Those who get up early on days off just to make sure that runners stay hydrated along the course, who make sure medals get placed with importance around sweaty necks, and who spend hours upon hours making sure every bib is placed in a bag with exactly 4 safety pins.

It definitely isn’t glamorous work.  They get sticky Gatorade thrown at them, they have frustrated runners yell at them when all of the size-small t-shirts are gone, they have to repeat the word “water” over and over and over again for hours at a time, and they have to keep enthusiastic (and sometimes drunk college-aged) spectators from running across the course during the race. But they do it, and they do it with amazing conviction.  I have seen plenty of volunteers frantically filling cups at an empty aid station but I have never seen one just stand there, waiting for someone else to do it.

Our running lives are greatly enhanced by the commitment of volunteers, and I would even venture to say that without the support they provide, the races that we train for and love so much would not exist.

So THANK YOU to anyone who has ever volunteered at a race to make my and my fellow runners’ experience better.  

You rock our little running world far more than you know.

And a special personal thanks to:

1) The aid station volunteers at the Bataan Memorial Death March who ALL sprung into immediate action to hand me snacks and drinks and cheers even though I was the only runner in the general area.

2) The nice MIT athletes who probably didn’t actually “volunteer” themselves to run the bus line to Hopkinton at 5:00 am on a school holiday, but still managed to keep everything flowing smoothly while helping poor little nervous runners like myself keep calm and collected with humor.

3) Actually, every single volunteer at the Boston Marathon this year. They saved lives, lifted spirits, and went above and beyond in various ways including handing out medals and gear bags long after the marathon was interrupted.

4) Anyone who has handed me a cup along the course.  I’m sorry for the amount of spillage I have caused.

IMG_6400

The nice and helpful MIT Boys (in the yellow jackets).  THANK YOU, BOYS! I am on the bus in the 2nd row checking my cell phone (Aaron had just sent me a text message.  Apparently everyone in this picture knew he was taking it (including Beth in the front row!) except for me. 

One Week Later

I cannot believe how much has happened in the last week.

From waking up and lining up with Beth and Sheila at the ridiculously long bus line to Hopkinton at 6:45 am; crossing the start line with race-fueled adrenaline; swearing once again somewhere during miles 17-26 that I would NEVER ever even think of doing another marathon; taking a left on Boylston, spotting the finish line and mustering up every ounce of strength to get there;  to finally finding Aaron after walking the long finisher chute and getting to the family reunion area.

From hearing first one then two explosions, seeing the first emergency vehicles rush en masse toward the finish line and knowing right then that something very bad had happened; hearing for the first time that two bombs went off at the finish line; walking aimlessly around downtown Boston trying to get a call to go through to my parents; attempting to get text messages out to let people know that, while we had no idea if we were in danger or not, that for right now at least, we were alive and uninjured; watching officers with assault rifles barricade themselves around public transportation stops; to walking 2 miles to our hotel.

From turning on the hotel TV and seeing video of the incident for the first time and crying uncontrollably yet unsuccessfully because I was too dehydrated to produce tears; hearing the details and feeling scared, sad, and angry; walking around the Freedom trail on Tuesday and running into armed guards at every single street corner; finally getting home on Wednesday night and still not feeling at ease; reliving the day over and over as concerned coworkers came by to give me big hugs, hearing that photos of the suspects had been released, waking up on Friday morning to completely shocking news that one suspect was dead and one was on the loose, to updating coverage on my desktop all day, to getting home from work, turning on the news right away and watching the drama unfold live; to watching the ending with the capture of the second suspect.

Not to mention, flooding in the Midwest, an explosion in West, TX that killed 14, and earthquakes in China (and I think Iran and Mexico).

As the Onion headline says, “Jesus, This Week.”

All last week, I felt like we were living under a cloud.  Neither Aaron nor I could sleep, and I know I couldn’t watch anything aside from the news, I couldn’t sing in the car to the radio, and I couldn’t look at pictures of my marathon without feeling guilty about it.

I woke up Saturday feeling like a completely different person.  It is amazing to me how even just knowing that these (excuse my language) assholes cannot do any more harm or hurt any more people has lifted such a huge weight off my chest.  I have always felt, and I think the police have confirmed it based on the amount of weapons and bombs they’ve found, that this wasn’t the main event.  It was a trial run.  A test to see if they could pull it off and what they needed to improve.  Knowing that the attacks they had planned will never happen has brought so much peace to me, and likely to many others who have been attempting to make sense of this event over the past week.

The last post was written at 1:00 am on Monday.  I think I was so wrapped up in my personal experience, that it wasn’t even until Wednesday that I was able to start reading stories of the other people who were there.  As much as the whole thing has shook me to my core, we were so very lucky.  I had finished the race, I had my bag and my cell phone, and I had already reunited with Aaron.  I cannot imagine going through all that actively worried if your family and friends were ok but not having any way to contact them, especially with the end-of-race marathon exhaustion.  I saw far more people collapse toward the finish of this race than I did at Chicago, and I’m guessing that many runners didn’t get the medical attention they may have needed.  One lady on the plane with us was across the street and her purse was part of the active crime scene, so she was without her wallet and ID. But everyone got through it, and I haven’t heard any complaints.

Because we all know that despite the inconvenience, and even the emotional distress that we will likely experience for a long time, we did not lose our lives, and we made it out safely without injury.

Also significant are the stories of those people who HELPED.  People who pinched arteries with their fingers, people who ran to give blood after running a marathon, people who gathered displaced runners in their homes and fed them.  Even people who lent out their cell phones so others could contact loved ones.  More than anything, this event is a reminder that the good far outweighs the bad in this world. 

I do want to again (and forever) tell you how much I completely appreciate all of the concern and support I’ve received over the last week.  I know most readers of this blog are people who I only know through the internet.  While I am very excited to have added Beth and Jon, Ellie + Family to the list of of “real life” friends last week, I am so grateful for this community of running bloggers.  You have played such a huge part in my well-being this week, and I don’t know if you’ll ever know how much I appreciate it.

And I am working on that race recap.

While I was on the fence about running Boston 2014 even after crossing the finish line, I am positive now that I want to go back, if for no other reason, to “high-5” every kid and thank as many spectators as I can.  I don’t know if the qualifying standards will be waived or how registration will be handled.  I think it is absolutely fair to grant every runner who started but didn’t cross the finish line (about 4500-4700) an automatic entry.  Most of these runners were charity runners who weren’t running for themselves but to raise money for other causes.  And I know that maybe now my qualifying time might not get me in when every runner is doubling efforts to get there.  But I hope to get the chance to run next year in honor of the spectators, and in honor of those heroes who rushed in to help.

AT 2:50 p.m., Eastern Standard Time (in a few minutes), there will be a moment of silence to remember the four lives that were lost.  Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell, and Lu Lingzi who were at the finish line, encouraging tired runners to give it one last push, and Sean Collier, the law enforcement officer who spent his life protecting others have been in my thoughts and prayers this week.  I will remember them today, one week later, and for every race that I run for the reminder of my life.

Calf Desperation Update and Marathon Motivation

First: an update on my calf issue.

A few weeks ago Beth, a fellow Albuquerque runner/blogger who is also running Boston next week, offered up her sports doctor as a potential healer of my pain.  She was having similar calf issues and he got her up and running again, so I called him up and made an appointment.

His area of specialty is ortho-therapy.

As far as I can tell, his method is pretty similar to ART, and I would basically describe it as a tear-inducing massage with some chiropractic stuff thrown in.  This guy is a former college football player and a general athlete, and he’s just a little bit older than me (people in my age group are already doctors???), and he comes with a wealth of knowledge about all sorts of sports injury stuff since he’s had plenty of injuries himself.  Last Thursday during our first appointment, I was right in the middle of a huge work project so my brain was hurting, and he threw all sorts of big words and body part names at me, and I really don’t remember any of it.

He did an evaluation and diagnosed my problem as……? I don’t remember (my brain was busy piecing together e-recycling statistics), but it is a combination of two things, one of which is the pesky IT band issue that has been plaguing me off and on for well over a year.  Then the following conversation took place:

Dr.: Well, if you’ve been through childbirth, this should be a walk in the park for you.

Me: I haven’t been through childbirth…(even though I guess technically I have been on the baby end).

Dr.: Oh. Hmm. Well. Regardless, women tend to handle this much better than men.

Fantastic.

I really don’t do anything without extensive research, and even though Beth had made mentions about her appointments on her blog, and even though I looked at this dude’s website and signed a bunch of scary sounding waivers, I didn’t really internalize what it was I was doing here.  But then the “massage” started.

It hurt. Badly.  My leg was bruised and sore for a few days.

Luckily I’ve started the “positive thinking” and “push through the pain” portion of marathon training.

I also got taped up with Rock Tape (same thing as K-T Tape, but with industrial strength stickiness) and sent with a bunch of homework assignments, basically things I’ve already been doing.  But instead of rolling out twice a day, I’m supposed to roll out 4-5 times a day and do hip strengthening exercises which I do sometimes but not all the time.

I went for my second session yesterday, and while there is a noticeable difference, I am still worried that I’m going to have big issues again during/after the race because I’m not even in the ballpark of 100% healed.  BUT, I think that I will be less miserable because of these sessions.

Regardless, I would recommend testing out “ortho-therapy” if foam rolling, stretching, rest, and massage just aren’t working and if you are up for some “mind over body” practice because you’ll get it.

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Marathon Motivation

I really like the idea of dedicating each mile to a different person who has either helped you or could use the thoughts and prayers. But I can’t do it.  I think there are some truly good-hearted people out there who have really good intentions, but I know that if I were to choose people, it would not be for them, it would be 100% for me.  I would only be using them to get myself through the race, and I know that some bad karma would probably result.

Plus, what happens if I have a really terrible mile?  I know I would forever associate that person with whatever awful thing happened (and so many bad and gross things can happen), and I might even hold them a bit responsible for creating havoc upon their designated time frame (assuming I could even remember which people went with which mile…26 is a lot of people to memorize).  I kind of feel like this practice would encourage me to be a worse person than I already am and that’s not good for anybody.

So, I’m not going to do that.

Something I HAVE been thinking about a lot this training cycle is the privilege of being active.  For one, it seems like so many of my blogger friends got injured over the last few months.  Not silly stupid calf issue injured, but actually bone breaking injured. I know that people who are sidelined when they’d rather be running would gladly trade places with me and my relatively functioning legs.

Also, incidentally, today is the 71st anniversary of the Surrender of Bataan.  Aside from the fact that my little marathon is nothing in comparison to say, 80+ miles worth of marching through the hot jungle as a prisoner of war, it also brought back memories of my most recent race.  Running the Bataan Memorial Death March and seeing so many of the wounded warriors out there kicking butt on a dirt 26.2 course also made me realize that to have a healthy strong body is such an amazing gift that I take for granted every day.  I did absolutely nothing to deserve two legs that can run, and at any time, I can lose the ability.  Running marathons isn’t easy for anybody, but it is so much easier for me, someone who hasn’t had to overcome any sort of adversity to get there.

SOURCE

And when I’m in pain and my legs don’t want to go and the thought of laying down in the middle of the road sounds borderline euphoric, I try to remember that people suffer for so many reasons everyday, and for many of them, that pain will never go away.  Generally, my pain will end at the end of the marathon.  Just a few hours.  My few hours of pain (completely self inflicted) are so minuscule compared to the pain of others, and I try and keep that in perspective.

There are so many people who are strong and determined and who have had to deal with so much more than 3.5 (or however many more) hours of running.  And when I start losing faith in myself, I remember that so many people would love to have this chance, and I try to run stronger because I have been blessed with the opportunity.

What have you thought about to get yourself through the pain of running? 

Marathon Reflection Monday: 1 WEEK!

(First, I MISSED NATIONAL BEER DAY! I mean, not really since we enjoyed some locally brewed La Cumbre Malapais stout yesterday, but I didn’t celebrate with purpose).  

Holy cow! We are SEVEN days until GO time.  Not quite close enough to determine race day weather with any certainty (looking like high 50’s with a chance of rain), but not quite enough time to “cram study” my way to a passing grade (at this point of every year, I start having nightmares about passing finals even though my college career is long over…for now…).

weather

While I haven’t been doing a lot of “blog” marathon reflecting this time around, I have been thinking a lot about what mistakes I’ve made, what I would do differently, and at what point everything changed from “on track for a super PR” to “not so much.”  Basically, I’m giving myself this one last whine fest, and then starting tomorrow, we are transforming to the intense mental workout that will hopefully carry me from Hopkinton to Newton and on into Boylston Street. Preferably on my own two feet as opposed to in an ambulance.

I made no secret over the fact that I didn’t love marathon training during Chicago.  Crossing the finish line to my first marathon was amazing, but I was re-reading my race recap, and I state very clearly that I didn’t want to make marathons a habit.

But I figured since I got the chance to run the marathon of all marathons, that I should probably soak up the experience and push for a very respectable PR time.  And I started training for marathon #2 in January.

I  had pretty high hopes going into this race.  For one, at the beginning of last training in June, I was at a 1:47 half.  At the beginning of this training, I was at a 1:41 half, meaning I was starting stronger and faster.  My first official run was 7 miles at marathon pace (about 8:10).  My first official run of last training cycle was a 7 mile long run that felt absolutely terrible.  And, there would be none of those dreaded 96 degree temperatures.

But my mindset going in was a bit different.  For one, I didn’t have the goal to re-qualify because I already have a 2014 qualifier (not that it guarantees anything), so the drive to accomplish a specific time goal was significantly less.

And as much as I complained about training in the heat of summer, as it turns out, I’m a much bigger wimp when it comes to cold weather.  During the winter I had to either run at night (dark and scary), or run in 10 degree temperatures in the morning, and a lot of times I just hung out on the treadmill.  And when winter gave way to spring, my allergies took over (they still are) making breathing feel much harder than it should.  And, when the time changed and there was daylight and warmth…well, let’s just say patio happy hour felt far more appealing than running. But then I would feel bad and try and run after happy hour. And running hard after happy hour doesn’t feel as good.

But all of that was easy overcomable.

Unfortunately, I made 3 sabotaging mistakes this training cycle that hindered my success:

1) Not letting myself completely heal after Chicago.  During my last 20 miler in September, my calf suddenly started bothering me to the point that I barely ran in the 2 weeks leading up to Chicago.  During the race, I was fine, but within hours after finishing, that little calf issue turned into a big problem.  I couldn’t run for 3 weeks post marathon.

The calf issue was kind of annoying through RnR Arizona half training  but nothing too bad, and I jumped into marathon training, even though it wasn’t completely pain free.  Three weeks ago, it got to the point where running was impossible.  And it hasn’t gotten better despite desperate efforts to fix it (I have session #2 with the sports chiro dude, so I’m hoping for good things).  I run one day and have to take the next couple of days off, which hasn’t lined up with the training plan very well.  I have lost speed and I have lost endurance.  I am not in as good of shape as I was before Chicago.

2) 12 Week Training Cycle.  For Chicago, I did 16 weeks, and it worked fine.  I chose the 12 week cycle because Hal Higdon’s “Boston Bound” plan said it was ok, and because I wanted to finish the RnR Arizona half before I started training, BUT I also thought that I would have a stronger base built at that point.  In the end, I ramped up faster than I was ready, probably not helping the calf issue.

3) Getting caught up in the mileage envy.  Right at the beginning of training, I started secretly reading Boston training blogs and they all had one thing in common: significantly more mileage than I was doing.  I panicked and started doing more weekly mileage than my plan (which worked PERFECTLY for Chicago) called for (see also, ramping up too fast above).  This bombed fast.  I don’t think I ever got a complete week in.  I was either hurting or burned out.

I burned myself out on running and managed to get hurt as wel, which are really inconvenient ways to enter into a marathon.

I don’t want to get completely down because who knows what will happen on April 15th.  I believe in the power of confidence and positive thinking, and I still somewhat believe I can will myself to a decent race time.  And truly, even though I’m not in PR shape, I should still finish in about 3:45, which isn’t a terrible time by any stretch of the imagination.

I’m comforted by the number of people who emphasize that Boston is a “victory lap” and shouldn’t be used to PR. Stressing out over a time goal or an unsuccessful training schedule is counterproductive to the experience.  Also, Meb dropped out last week due to a lingering calf injury which is a reminder that even elites have bad training cycles.

And on the upside of all of this, I have been much less stressed this time around.  I haven’t been having marathon nightmares, and taper has been much more relaxing.

So, now that my marathon sadness session is over, we can transform to the mental workout and CHEERLEADING! Time to prepare for the pain and resolve to push through it!

Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

Running Update: 18 Days Until Boston

Hi friends!

So, I’ve been kind of holding off on this post because 1) I haven’t had very much spare time recently (I feel like I haven’t had spare time since January), and 2) I was trying to wait until I wasn’t angry about this dumb leg and its dumb inability to move without pain (just like I was trying to wait to run until after I could walk up the stairs without hurting, but since neither of those things have happened, here we are).

I am angry about my dumb leg and its dumb inability to move without pain.

Since last we spoke about marathon training, I had just completed an uneventful 20 miler 2.5 weeks ago.  YAY! 20 miler complete, ability to complete marathon verified.

Then I attempted some mile repeats (finally running a sub-7 minute mile for the first time this training cycle) which caused massive shin splints.  Annoying, but not a big deal. I rested for a couple of days, and everything was ok. BUT THEN, when the shin splints were not bothering me any more, the dumb calf thing appeared out of nowhere (during a rest day) AGAIN and started hurting AGAIN.

More rest. More annoyance.  Mild panic over the fact that my most crucial training weeks were rapidly being wasted.  I did however buy a bag of Easter egg Reese’s cups (they were on sale at Target!), and eat them.

Then, last weekend, I ran Bataan (bad Amy) but at a slower pace than I wanted, not because I was being cautious, but because I hurt so bad.  When I caught up to my dad, he asked me if everything was ok since he was expecting me to pass him long before.  I said no, as a matter of fact, I wasn’t ok.  But, as I mentioned in that epically long Bataan post, that particular race really changes one’s perception of “discomfort.” And, at mile 10 my body just stopped caring and the pain went away.  Until I crossed the finish line and remembered it.  Then it came back.

MORE rest.

I didn’t run all week.  I tried once, but I got less than 2 miles in before having to stop.

Sunday was scheduled as our final long run.  We had chosen the course weeks ago as a ridiculously challenging 22 miler with a steep uphill and a steep downhill, up and down until mileage was complete.  A 10K is actually run on this course…it is called, “The World’s Toughest 10-K.”  My goal was to mimic the long downhill stretches followed by long uphill stretches of the Boston course.

Tramway Elevation

It sucked for the following reasons:

1) I was throw-up sick both Friday and Saturday (this happens for no apparent reason every once in awhile, and no, I’m absolutely not pregnant), so most of what I ate didn’t stick around long enough to provide energy or nutrients,

2) The course included almost 1,000 feet of elevation gain over 4.5 miles (meant to make the Newton Hills look easy),

3) Intense spring winds made downhills feel like work (even Aaron said so!).  My average pace was 10:20 which was not confidence boosting.

Thanks to a fabulous bacon themed party the night before, we stayed up past our bedtime and woke up late/got a later start than planned, and I ran out of time.  I only got in 19.6 miles instead of the 22 I had wanted to run.

Luckily, the course ended at a resort (we’re so clever!), and we headed straight into a massage (slightly ironic that the massage was the cause of my run being cut short).  It simultaneously felt amazing and painful.  I told the masseuse to let out her life frustrations on my calf, and she did.

But I still hurt.

It isn’t an injury.  Nothing is broken.  It just hurts.  I’m making an appointment with a sports chiropractor (thanks, Beth!), and I’m hoping he doubles as a miracle worker.

I’m able to run, but not fast.  I’ve lost 2 weeks of training and my last long run wasn’t long enough to satisfy me (I considered attempting 20 miles again this weekend but I have decided against it).  And we are EIGHTEEN DAYS AWAY from Boston.

So, my training isn’t suggesting that I’ll hit 3:30 much less even match my Chicago time (not that I won’t fight to the death to try). But I am excited nonetheless.

My Runner’s Passport and welcome brochure came in the mail this week which was comparable in excitement level to getting my first college dorm and roommate assignment. In just a few short weeks, I’ll be lining up in Hopkington and running this amazing race.  IMG_6120

Also, thanks again for all of your kind words regarding the Bataan Memorial Death March! I shared a photo album (from someone else) on the blog’s facebook page if you want a better idea of what that race looked like!

I hope everyone is having a good week!

Marathon Reflection Monday: 34 Days Until Boston

For me, there is an exciting moment when the Garmin beeps, and I realize that I have just run 20 miles. I don’t think there is anything more reassuring during marathon training than knowing that you have hit that milestone.  It is the moment (for me, anyway) where I realize that I am going to be able to run this beast of a distance.

THANK GOODNESS I was able to experience that moment again this past weekend.

I was worried about Saturday’s run because my last attempt at a long run ended with a 5 mile walk home.  I also approached it cautiously since my last successful long run was 17.5 miles…more of a mileage jump than I’d like.

The weather on Saturday was supposed to be pleasant during the morning and rainy in the afternoon, but I think weather.com lied.  Because it was windy and snowy (I was wearing shorts) so, it wasn’t the least miserable run ever.  Aaron had to work on Saturday morning, so I ran this one solo, but he did get out on his bike to meet me at about mile 14.

As luck would have it,  I ran into a coyote during this rare solo run.  It just ran across the road in front of me, and then stood there, about 10 feet away, eating something while I had a heart attack.  Albuquerque is a city where coyotes can be found in just about every part of town, but this was only my second time running into one.  My reaction was to freeze, call Aaron (more as an “in case I die, this is where to find me” precaution), walk slowly, and then bolt.  It worked, apparently, but I was pretty nervous.  That mile split was about 13:00.

Also, it is worth acknowledging that despite the random snow storm on Saturday, we have had great spring time weather which unfortunately means pollen.  I only developed allergies maybe 2 years ago, but now I’m a sneezy little person.  This past week, I have hacked up more yuck stuff from my throat then I care to think about.  I also think, unscientifically, that my lungs aren’t taking in adequate amounts of oxygen, leaving me much more out of breath than I should be.  All part of the sport I suppose.

Otherwise, the run went as well as it could.  I was expecting to feel like hell at mile 19 since I hadn’t built up the mileage, but everything felt great during and post run.  We celebrated victory by watching basketball ALL day.  Aaron’s team (New Mexico) lost by 1 point in the last few seconds.  I was only minorly sad since I typically don’t cheer for the Lobos, but the environment of disappointment was almost too much to handle at the sports bar.  Except for the lady watching hockey.  She didn’t care.

Meanwhile, my Saint Mary’s Gaels won by 3 points and are set to play Gonzaga for the WCC championships tonight.  Interestingly enough, the way the current bracket predictions are going, Saint Mary’s COULD play New Mexico in the 3rd round.  I do not want to see what this might look like for our marriage. Also, I would fear for my life if I went anywhere in this town with an SMC shirt should that game occur (though really, the odds of us getting past the 2nd round aren’t high).

Bracket

UH OH

ANYWAY.

I have a back down off it week this week including Bataan next weekend (14.2 trail race) and then one last long run before tapering.  SO NUTTY.  This has gone by so much faster the second time around.  And I’m so thankful that aside from some minor hiccups, I’ve managed to stay injury free.  Let’s just hope I can get through the next 2 weeks without any major issues!

TRAINING RECAP:

Monday: 5 mile recovery run

Tuesday: 1.2 mile walk (had to postpone the scheduled workout to Wednesday morning)

Wednesday: 8 x hill repeats (7 miles total) + 1 hour spin

Thursday: 5.5 mile tempo run/7.5 miles total, 58:48 (7:58 pace).  I really wanted to die for a lot of this, and had to stop on about 3 occasions to cough stuff up.

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 20 miles!!! 3:03:34 (9:10 pace)

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Sunday: BLERG. We put off running until the afternoon because we didn’t get up in time (time change), but on my way back home from lunch with my family, I started feeling really sick and I spent the afternoon in bed sleeping.  The thermometer confirmed my fever.  I’m feeling fine today (even though I still technically have a fever…don’t tell), but I was looking forward to celebrating 50 miles this week, and now I can’t.

TOTAL MILEAGE: 40.7

MARATHON GOALS:

I think this week was one of those that really shows how hard it is to lose weight while marathon training.  Spinach salad with grilled chicken just wasn’t enough to satisfy my enormous hunger, and after a hard workout, the last thing I wanted to do was more squats.  Sunday night is usually our yoga night, but I wasn’t up for it yesterday.  Staying on track with my goals was just much harder than it has been.  With 5 weeks to go, I’m running out of chances to hit 2 perfect weeks in a row.

IMG_6047Hope you have a great week despite the sleepies this morning!

 

Marathon Reflection Monday: 41 Days Until Boston

Today officially marks the half-way point of my Boston marathon training.  Well, that went by fast!  I have three weeks left of actual training before the taper, and this is the point where I (and apparently most people) start having a minor freak-out (because I haven’t been freaking out the rest of the time?).

The taper crazies are definitely, well, crazy, but there is another perhaps more intense type of panic that occurs when you still have time to make a difference.

I feel faster and I feel stronger than I did at this point in Chicago training, but my mileage has been much more in line with a half marathon training program (I haven’t even hit 40 miles a week yet).  And I also don’t feel like I’m working as hard.  It might just be that everything feels easier the second time around, but I truthfully don’t feel like I’ve put forth as much effort.

So, I don’t really know what’s going to happen at the start line in 6 weeks.  It is quite tempting to go Rocky Balboa style for the next three weeks, but I know the “right” answer is not to over-train.

The Boston Marathon actually has a really helpful social media presence, and they posted this on Thursday.

Training TipBE CONFIDENT WITH WHERE YOU ARE WITH YOUR TRAINING. I mean, I’m not, but all I can do is finish out strong and make the most of the time I have.

My plan for the next few weeks is to really rededicate myself to injury prevention. Now is the time to make sure that my core is strong and my quads are adequately prepared for a mostly downhill course.  I didn’t put “get 8 hours of sleep” on my checklist, but I probably should have because I have been going to bed way too late and waking up way too early.  So, sleeping will be a priority. As will making sure that my body is prepared to successfully finish the last two long runs (two twenty milers).

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I have created a facebook page for the blog.  I’m not too concerned with how many “likes” I can get, but I would like to have a place for all of my running related links/pictures/etc. that doesn’t impose on the news feeds of my personal facebook friends who have likely all unsubscribed from me already.  I’ll very likely use this more than twitter since I’m considerably more comfortable with facebook.  You can like me HERE.

facbookWorkout Recap

Based on a lot of advice, I decided to take things pretty easy last week in order to not push myself into injury.  Also, last week my job had me on my feet all day on a concrete floor (easily walking 4 miles a day on said floor) which surprisingly tired me out, and made my legs ache.  My little desk-dweller body isn’t used to not sitting down for that many hours. I’m hoping this was the main cause of my heavy legs all week. We did yoga three times this week just to make sure that all my muscles were loosened up and less prone to causing sudden bursts of sharp pain because that wasn’t too fun.

Monday: Rest (still trying to figure out and heal the weirdness from the failed long run)

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: 1 hour spin, plus 2 easy miles to test the waters

Thursday: 5 mile tempo run: I accidentally ran too far.  I only like to add .5 miles per week to my tempo distance, but I mis-remembered last week’s distance, and added a full mile.  7.1 miles total (8:04 pace).

Friday: 3 easy miles

Saturday: 14.2 miles (9:05 pace).  This is back down off it week, so our long run was shorter.  Overall, I felt ok.  Still having issues with that side calf that has been bothering me for weeks now, but no leg spasms, and no problems afterward.

Sunday: 3 easy miles.

Marathon Goals:

SO CLOSE to hitting all of my goals! As I’m heading into these last few weeks, I’m rededicating myself to getting those goals accomplished.  If over-training isn’t encouraged, then at least I have six weeks to make a difference with the little details.

IMG_6046Hope everyone has a fantastic week! It is suddenly springtime here (this week anyway), and I couldn’t be happier!