What I’m Working Out to Wednesday

Coleman Hell
“2 Heads”

Not the newest song, but it took me awhile until I found it catchy. It’s on my playlist for the Kentucky Derby Marathon this weekend! Enjoy!

Ever hear a song that you think initially is “so-so” only to end up loving it so much you play it on repeat?

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Race Review: St. Luke’s Half Marathon (1:45 Pacer)

I always pace a half-marathon the week before Boston (Garden Spot), but starting last year I began pacing one the week after, too. It is a race that holds a special place in my heart because it was my first ever half marathon. I wrote about my first experience pacing it last year here, when I was asked last minute to fill in as the 1:50 pacer.

This year, I was asked to pace the 1:45 group. That’s my favorite group to pace, and I knew I had the Kentucky Derby Marathon the following week and would probably run 10-13 miles around that pace anyway. When race day came around, I woke up and was less than amused with my decision. I wanted to sleep in, put on my iPod and go for a run – not go to a race. Why did I think this was a good idea?

I drank some coffee and headed out. I got to the race around 7am, and once I was in the gymnasium of William Allen High School (the staging area for this race), I was glad I decided to do it. Pretty much all of our local running community was out, whether they were running, volunteering, or spectating. We have such a wonderful community that I would have been bummed if I’d missed out on this event.

The race goes off at 8:10 am (there’s a 5K that starts at 8am) so we made our way to the starting line about fifteen minutes early. I had a fairly large group, and several runners asked my strategy. I always like to do even splits, but possibly a few seconds per mile faster until mile eight for this race to account for the Parkway. Most runners lose steam around mile eight because we enter Lehigh Parkway, which is a narrow cinder path with some moderate climbs. It slows you down to run on cinders, plus the climbs and the tight space means you expend more energy trying to pass runners and stay on pace. Whether I run the race myself or I pace it, I find those miles to always be the slowest of the race.

An older gentleman came up to me and told me he wanted to run an 8 minute mile and has been trying to hold onto that pace for years. He seemed familiar, and then it dawned on me: we ran several miles together when I paced the D&L Half Marathon in November! I reminded him of that, and he remembered me immediately. At the D&L, he ran exactly a 1:45. It was fun to see someone from a past race, and he seemed excited to see I would be his pace leader again.

The race went off on-time, and it was a gorgeous day. It starts with a steep downhill, so I focused on not taking the group out too fast. The first eight miles of the race are my favorite. Once you hit mile two and get on Martin Luther King Boulevard, you get to see the lead runners coming back from the turnaround so there is a ton of cheering. My good friend, Zafer, started with my pace group and running with him is like running with a celebrity. Everyone knows and loves Z (he is seriously the sweetest guy ever) and was cheering for him. He, in turn, was cheering for everyone – including the spectators. My mom got this great shot of us running together – it might be my most favorite running picture ever:

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Once we could see the lead runners on their way back, I saw that my training partners were leading the women’s race! Megan was in 2nd (she ran a 1:23 and took second overall), and Cassie was in 3rd (she ran a 1:25 and took third overall). It made me extremely proud and happy to cheer them on as they came BLOWING past us. Watching them cruise back at their speedy pace made our 1:45 group look like we were standing still. It was awesome and exciting to cheer my friends on and watch them run such strong races. I cracked up as Chris G. came blowing by us – I’ve done a few long runs with him over the past year. He organizes the pace team and I thought he was pacing. Nope! He ran a 1:19 half marathon that day, but he also ran Boston in 2:55 a few days earlier! He told me after the race that the half was his first run back from Boston. Mind BLOWN! I love it!

Through this point and up through mile eight, I’d maintained around a 7:55 pace. The mile markers seemed slightly off so I relied on clock time and effort to keep the pace consistent. I saw so many other friends in this section of the race, and everyone was all smiles and cheering for each other. How could you not be? It was a gorgeous day, a great course, and our community rocks. If you live within a reasonable distance from me, I highly recommend coming to run this race next year. The Lehigh Valley is a great place to be a runner, and the St. Luke’s half  has been around for over 30 years. It’s a great place to be.

We entered the Parkway, and Emily came running up next to me! I knew she was trying to run somewhere in the 1:45 range but had a more casual approach to training this year. She was running with her fiance and looked great. They ran with Z for awhile, and were a little ahead of me through some sections in the Parkway. Once we crossed over the red covered bridge, there was still a few more Parkway miles left to go. That’s when the struggle seems to hit most runners. Z was feeling good and took off here, and Emily fell a little behind. I had a few runners from my original pack with me, but picked up a few new ones along the way. It was through this section that I began averaging a true 8 minute mile – some were even slower, 8:08ish pace – to try to keep the group together through the hills.

A local runner that I’d never met before, Nanette, caught me towards the end of the Parkway. I recognized her name because she works with my old coach, Kenrick. She had a tough winter and had the goal of 1:45 for the day even though she’s run faster half marathons before, so she stuck with me for a few miles. Around mile 11, most of the runners I began with had either fallen ahead of me or slightly behind me. I maintained an 8 minute mile pace and tried to motivate whatever runner’s were in my general area.

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Chris G. gave our pace team the task of coming in around 30 seconds under goal, and I came in at 1:44:39 according to my gun time, but 1:44:22 according to my chip time. It was about eight seconds fast, but I didn’t seem to have anyone upset with me. Many runners came up and thanked me and told me that they had a great race. Both Emily, her fiance and Nanette ran 1:44:55, which was exciting.  Another local runner, Beth, sought me out after and said she made it her goal to keep me in her sights and finished in 1:46 – a PR! That made my day.

I truly enjoy being a pacer. You meet so many amazing, strong people and to have the opportunity to watch them achieve their goals is incredible. It’s the most rewarding experience and one of my favorite ways to participate in some of the local races. I love any chance I get to help out our running community. I’ve met some of my closest and best friends through running in the Lehigh Valley, and it’s a joy to watch my friends succeed and help others reach their goals. We are such a supportive group, and everyone is always cheering each other on. Great job to everyone who participated in the race this weekend – it was a spectacular event!

Boston Recovery/Kentucky Derby Marathon Taper, Week 1

Recovery, taper…what’s the difference? These two things are interchangeable, right? Back in 2014, I had a season (the season that ended with the marathon PR that I can’t seem to touch) where I ran one marathon every three weeks. That went on from March through May (four marathons from the beginning of March through mid-May). Then I went and changed it up and threw in a half-Ironman, followed by my final marathon of the season. I think I did something like five marathons, a 10 miler, a half marathon (as a pacer), a 5K and my first half-Ironman in that time period. I checked off a lot of states that year.

Unfortunately, it’s becoming harder for me to have seasons like this for a few reasons. The obvious one: I’m not getting paid to do this, and marathons cost money. I’m almost out of marathons I can road trip to for a long weekend and most are going to require flights. Secondly, I got a bit faster in 2014. I’ve found that with more speed comes the need for more recovery. I didn’t think much about signing up for the Kentucky Derby Marathon. I knew it was two weeks after Boston. As a matter of fact, I signed up for it because it was two weeks after Boston. It’s the race I want to do for Kentucky, and it often falls on the same weekend as Boston. Not this year, so I signed up.

I’ve done two marathons in one week several times before – two weeks is fine. Once, I ran a marathon on a Sunday in Vancouver and then a marathon that following Saturday in Anchorage. But that was before – before I was getting closer to that three hour mark. I also didn’t factor in that Boston is Monday; Kentucky is Saturday. So it’s not even two weeks in between. Oops.

I didn’t really think too hard about signing up, or about the timing until after Boston was over. When planning my season, I chose to make Boston my A-race, based on how my fall ended. I did Hartford as a tune up for Indianapolis, but got injured in between so I felt like I never really got to race a fall marathon. If I were going to continue multiple marathoning, I would do the first one as my goal race and take the pressure off for marathon #2.

My goal for Kentucky is simple: Check another state off my list and enjoy a weekend away with friends. If I line up at the start and feel amazing, then I’ll give it my all. If not, it’s a catered long run with a shirt and a medal. Either way, it’s going to be fun. We’re leaving super early on Friday morning and road tripping our way down south.

There isn’t much you can do to help your marathon training once inside that 10 day window, but you can do everything to hurt it. Being as Boston was on 4/18 and Kentucky is on 4/29, that 10 day window began the day after Boston. I’m treating this race as if Boston was my last long run before the marathon, followed by a hard taper. I’m doing zero speed work before this race and I’m simply focused on getting my legs back under me. My quads were pretty sore post-Boston, and it took until Saturday before I felt normal running again. I took it pretty easy [for most of] last week.

Monday, 4/18: Boston

We already discussed this 🙂

Tuesday, 4/19: REST

My day consisted mainly of this:

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And lots of this:

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Wednesday, 4/20: Pole Fitness + Core

After consuming a disgusting amount of junk food on Tuesday and spending the whole entire day on my couch, I figured I should do some abs and go to pole. I showed up, but it was unproductive.

Thursday, 4/21: Easy Run, 4 Miles + Pole 

First run back and I felt surprisingly good. I ran four easy miles around Lehigh Parkway and even though my quads were a little sore, I felt better after my run. I went to pole at a different studio – the one sponsoring the pole competition in May – and got to play around on the poles I’ll be using to compete. They’re different than what I’m used to, so it’s important to get some experience on them. The instructor there liked my routine but hated my floor work (big shocker there, since I try my best to stay away from floor work at all costs). I left feeling a little frustrated.

Friday, 4/22: Pole 

Headed to my regular pole studio and discussed what went down on Thursday with my regular instructor. I went over my routine but felt pretty fatigued. Unproductive again.

Saturday, 4/23: Easy Run, 4 Miles + Pole

Had a great run on the Plainfield trail, and spent a few hours at the pole studio. I re-worked my entire floor work section, so it was more productive than the rest of the week. I felt heavy and tired all week long. I think the carb loading and junk food caught up with me, and I was still fatigued from Boston.

Sunday, 4/24: St. Luke’s Half Marathon + Core/MYRTLs

Yep, ran a half marathon! I was the 1:45 pacer. Somehow that seemed like a great idea when I agreed to it. When my alarm went off on Sunday morning, I thought differently. It ended up being great, and I’ll do a whole post on it for you. My mom took this picture and it pretty much sums up the race:

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I managed to get my ass off the couch later that day for core work. Nothing crazy: planks, bridges, leg raises, hip lifts, MYRTLs and NTC’s Core Strength workout (it’s only seven minutes long). I even did some meal prep for the following week! Slowly returning back to normal.

♥ Total Miles ♥ 47.2 ♥

Ever run multiple races in a relatively short time frame?

The 2016 Boston Marathon: Run Bold

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I’m just going to lead with this: no, I did not run a PR. And I’m okay with it! Let’s just get this out of the way so we can get to the storytelling, shall we?
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3:11:28. A far cry from the 3:05 I’ve been going on and on about. But based on the conditions, I am more than happy with it. Also, I never ran a 3:11 before. I’ve run a 3:10 and a 3:12, but now I’ve completed the trifecta. #itsTheLittleThings

You can train harder than you’ve ever trained before, and try your best to simulate race day conditions for a race. There are always unpredictable variables. It’s the nature of the beast. The marathon – that distance – is no joke and demands respect. Each year, Boston always reminds me of that. Even in perfect conditions, I never seem to remember how hard that course is until I’m running it. Even now, sitting here and reflecting on it I find myself thinking, well there’s so much downhilll…But there’s also uphill, and the late start. The New England weather always proves to be unpredictable, and it’s a crowded course.

It was a hot day, and I just didn’t have it. The heat got to me about a third of the way through the race and I backed off immediately. I know how long of a day it can be on that course if you don’t listen to your body. I was there in 2012 (90 degrees that day) and was happy to come in under the five hour mark that day. So without further adieu, here is my recap!

Saturday, April 16 – The Expo

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We shipped up to Boston around 7am, and headed right to the expo. I quickly found my bib and a free 26.2 Brew at the Sam Adams tent. My parents had given me the obligatory jacket as a birthday gift this year, so I didn’t have any other shopping to do.

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I headed over to the Runner’s World tent to see Bart and Kathleen (friends and neighbors of mine since RW is published in my hometown). I also found Bill, someone Bart had introduced us to when we all traveled to the Marshall Marathon together a few years back.

Quick side note about Bill: he was incarcerated for most of his life and running saved him. I’m not going to get into all the details but he is easily one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met through running. He ran his first 5K in shorts and a polo shirt, and with help and encouragement from Yasso he qualified for Boston just a few years after his release. Bill is an amazing person, and just published a book about his story, called Behind the Wall to the Boston Marathon 2016. If you are looking for a quick read, support him and check out his book!
imageThe expo seemed much crazier than usual this year, so as soon as I found my friends and snapped a few pictures, we headed out. We went to my aunt and uncle’s house in Brookline, who generously open their home to us each year. We hung out with them until it was time to meet some more Lehigh Valley friends out for dinner at a restaurant in Brookline called Hops ‘N Scotch. The restaurant was just okay, but the company was great!
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Sunday, April 17

We woke up when we felt like it, and I headed out around the Charles River for a three mile shakeout run. It was a beautiful day.

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I grabbed a coffee at Starbucks on my way back and got cleaned up for church. After mass, my aunt had brunch for us and we just hung out around her house. I took a nap in the afternoon and stayed off my feet as much as possible. We met my cousin for dinner at Pomodoro, an Italian restaurant in Brookline. I filled up on pasta and bread, and we were back at my aunt’s house and in bed before 9pm.

Marathon Monday, April 18

I woke up with my alarm at 4:30am and had a tiny headache. That worried me, but I ignored it as I made my coffee and got myself together. I went to the bathroom (always a stressful part of the morning. What if I can’t poop?) and refilled my coffee for the road. My husband walked me around the corner to the train stop near my aunt’s house. I take the green line into the city from Brookline – it’s super easy. As we arrived at the train stop, the train was pulling into the station so I was able to get right on.

I still had a slight headache as I got off the T. I took the train to Boyleston, as usual – only to find that I didn’t do my homework. They moved bag check a few blocks closer to the finish line so that you didn’t have to walk to Boston Common after the race. I hadn’t heard this and didn’t read my packet carefully enough to catch it, and got flustered. I was early for the bus and had plenty of time, but I had to walk about a quarter of a mile to drop off my bag. I walked with a guy from Indiana who made the same mistake, and chatting with him eased my anxiety.  Bags were checked, and it was time to go back to Boston Common to load the busses.

Everyone looks homeless in Boston because they don’t allow you to bring your gear to the start since the bombing in 2013. The outfits are pretty awesome and most people try to get something outrageous at a thrift store. All of the clothing at the start gets donated. If you don’t want to wear it racing, you are never going to see it again so you don’t want to wear something that you want back at the finish line. I raid my closet and find something I was going to donate to wear to Hopkinton. 
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I got on the bus and sat in the first seat next to a guy from New Zealand. One of the many things I love about this race is the chance to meet people from all over the world. His name was Aaron, and this was his first time in the US. Boston was going to be his third of the marathon majors since he already did London and Berlin. It’s a long bus ride from the city to Hopkinton, and sitting with him made it fly by.

We reached Athlete’s Village and I headed directly to a porta pot. Once the rest of the busses show up, the lines for the bathrooms are out of control. They have tons of bathrooms, but there are 30,000 runners hydrating for a marathon. It was 8am, two hours before the start of the race. I took a garbage bag that I brought with me and laid it out on the grass. I ate my breakfast (my homemade sweet potato waffles, Just Great Stuff powdered chocolate peanut butter, and a banana) and drank my water with a Lemon Tea Nuun tablet, and dozed off for about 45 minutes. I hit the bathrooms again since the lines didn’t look to horrible, and grabbed a small cup of coffee. I sat back down and got everything together: put on my iPod, got my watch ready, and stuffed my bra with my GU (one of these days, I will review the Lululemon Race Pack bra :). I stood in line one more time for the bathroom, and then it was time to start heading towards our corrals.

The Start

I walked to the start with a guy named Tom from Illinois. He was shooting for about a 3:10 (he ended up running a 3:22), but was worried about the heat. I was starting to get worried about the heat myself. In 2012, when the temps reached the 90s,  I remember sweating before the gun went off. Not only did I shed my throw away clothing pretty early this year, but I was starting to sweat on the walk over to the starting line. It’s about .7 of a mile walk from Athlete’s Village to the start. If I was sweating while walking at a leisurely pace, what was going to happen while running 26.2 miles?

Tom and I weren’t the only one concerned about the heat. We were in wave 1, corral 8 and lined up next to a woman named Emily from Scotland. She’d run a 3:07 in Tokyo but was injured. Like Aaron from the bus ride, she also wanted to run all of the marathon majors. She was hoping to qualify for Chicago (sub- 3:45) since she battling an injury and lucky to be running at all. She told me she trained all winter in crazy Scottish weather, like hail storms, and was a ball of nerves.

I repeated what Megan told me. Don’t breathe. Whether that meant a 6:50 pace or a 7:50 pace, I needed to be mindful of the conditions. After six years, I know this course well. The first time you get shade on the Boston course is when you make that left turn onto Boyleston Street – at mile 26. I was not abandoning my plan for a PR, but I was certainly preparing myself for a different race than I’d trained for. I know what it’s like to bonk on the Boston course, and ultimately that was what I wanted to avoid.

Miles 1-6

The gun went off, and I kept repeating my mantra: Don’t breathe. I also told myself that I was not going to go faster than a 6:50 pace. I suppose I should tell you my goals and thought process for the race. As the weather forecast developed, I had quite a few numbers to prevent me breaking down mentally if things didn’t go my way. It really helps take my mind off of the marks I missed if I still have something to shoot for.

  • Goal A: Sub 3:05- I’d trained for a 3:05. I also felt really strong and thought a sub-3 could be possible depending how I felt at the start of the race. That’s how my PRs always happen: I line up at the start and go for it. It was in the back of my mind, but I wasn’t willing to blow the whole race for a sub-3. The theme of the race this year was #RunBold, so I had to at least try.
  • Goal B: Sub 3:09- I might be able to get into wave one for next year if I could bring it in under 3:09.
  • Goal C: Sub 3:12 – This would be my fastest marathon since 2014.
  • Goal D: Sub 3:14 – This would be a course PR.
  • Goal E: Sub 3:35 – A Boston Qualifier
  • Goal F: Drink all the beer on the course and finish. If this were a 2012 repeat, I was determined to have a fun day and drink my face off with the Boston College kids.

My first mile was a 6:47 and it felt like I was walking. But that’s the name of the game in Boston – there’s so much adrenaline and it’s a net downhill at the start that unreasonable paces feel reasonable. I checked in with my breathing – don’t breathe. I wasn’t. I felt great. These miles felt really good, even though I could feel the sun really heating up. I thought, Holy shit. This might be the day. I took a GU at mile 5, and drank at every single water stop. I was taking in mostly Gatorade. I wanted to try to stay on top of my hydration. Miles 1-6: 6:47, 6:49, 6:46, 6:47, 6:51, 6:45.

Miles 7-9

I started feel a bit warm and uncomfortable, but my legs still felt good. I told myself to relax, and to make sure I wasn’t breathing. I slowed down a little, but as I approached the 15K mark I noticed that the effort was creeping in. I was worried I went out too fast because 9.3 miles into a marathon isn’t when you should be feeling effort. I didn’t panic, I told myself to relax and back off. Goal A was still not off the table if I backed off for a few miles, and I know the last 10K is a fast 10K if I can pace myself accordingly. Back off. Miles 7-9: 6:48, 6:53. 6:54.

Miles 10-13

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That was the end of my sub-7 minute streak, but I still held on nicely and felt really good through these miles. I had a good sweat going by this point, and the sun was relentless. My legs felt good, but I felt some general fatigue in my body, likely due to the rising temperatures. We hadn’t hit the hills yet, and I didn’t want to walk up Heartbreak. I took a GU at mile 10 and noticed it didn’t go down too easily. That normally doesn’t happen to me until after mile 20, so I knew something wasn’t quite right.

These are the miles where I think the course gets super exciting. The first 10 miles are great because there are quite a few spectators and the 10K is huge. When you hit mile 12 and see the Wellesley girls out in the masses kissing the runners, the energy is high. These were my favorite girls in Wellesley:

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I didn’t take that shot but I’m still laughing at how cute they were. For the record, they had on strapless shirts and little shorts and weren’t naked.

I think the course has some uphill grades in these miles because I always seem to lose some steam here, even with the crowds. Miles 10-13: 7:04, 7:04, 7:07, 7:09.

Miles 14-18

I came through the halfway point and it’s hard to explain what I was feeling. My legs felt like they wanted to just GO, but my body didn’t agree. I started to feel nauseous and didn’t want to drink anything, even though I was forcing myself to take at least one sip of something at every single water station. Around 14.5, I saw a sign that I vaguely remembered from my Facebook news feed that morning – it was Susan! I’d been following her blog since early fall and met her very briefly at the Runner’s World Half Marathon. I was so excited to see a familiar face on the course and yelled to her. It took my mind off of running for a bit.

I choked down another GU at mile 15. Part of the problem were my flavors: I LOVE the chocolate peanut butter and caramel macchiato, but I wanted something more refreshing since we were being baked alive. Not only was I feeling nauseous and a bit dizzy, but I realized something. I had to go to the bathroom. And it wasn’t just pee, or I would have just peed my pants (wouldn’t be the first time I did that – totally peed my pants on purpose during the bike segment of a half ironman once).

I wasn’t having stomach cramping or anything like that, I just had to go. I’d gone before the race started so I thought that if I ignored it, it would go away. It didn’t. I cruised through mile 17 and it was the first mile where I thought my pace was noticeably slower and I felt uncomfortable. I told myself I would stop at the next porta potty, which ended up being around mile 18. It was good timing, because it was just before I would hit the hills of Newton. I ducked into a porta pot and was out in record time. Miles 14-18: 7:05, 7:23, 7:09, 7:34, 8:03 (bathroom stop).

Miles 19-21

At this point, I could have achieved that 3:05 but I knew it would mean that the last seven miles had to be perfect. My legs felt like it was a possibility, but my body disagreed. I took the focus off my pace and knew I was likely looking at a Goal B or C kind of day, depending on how my body handled the heat and the hills over the next few miles.

These are the hilliest miles of the race. It feels like you start climbing, and it just keeps coming. One after the other, until finally you reach the top of Heartbreak Hill. At that point it really is all [mostly] downhill from there. While these miles are often not the easiest, the crowds make them so much fun. The amount of people that line this course to cheer on the runners is nothing short of amazing, and each time it keeps me moving up the hill. These were not my fastest miles, but I refused to walk and continued to pass other runners as I looked forward to cresting the hill.

I always think it’s the last 10K that’s fast. In reality, Heartbreak Hill isn’t over until you reach the huge blow up sign at Boston College that tells you The Heartbreak is Over (photo cred: Boston Globe). I look forward to that sight each year!

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Even though these are often the hardest miles in a marathon, these are my most favorite miles of this race. While the weather was not ideal for running, it was perfect for a bunch of college kids to be out drinking their faces off and cheering. That certainly makes it all a whole lot more fun for the runners in the last miles of the marathon. I begrudgingly took a GU at mile 20 even though it was the last thing I wanted. What I really wanted was a beer – and there are usually people handing it out on that course – and I couldn’t FIND ONE! I drink beer around that point every year and with the way I felt, it would have been a welcomed change from the sugary drinks and GU. Miles 19-21: 7:25, 7:46, 8:08 (the top of Heartbreak – whew!).

Miles 22-26

I came around mile 22 and I heard someone scream, “GO ALLISON!” It took me a few seconds to realize I was Allison, and they were cheering for me. I looked over my shoulder and saw a familiar face and yelled back to them. It was my friend Missy’s sister, Julie, and her husband Tom. They live up there and somehow picked me out. It took my marathon brain about a mile to figure out who it actually was.

My legs were still moving and weren’t too fatigued (thank you, HANSONS!) but my body was tired. The best way to explain how I felt was almost like I was in a fog. I was aware of everything going on around me and I was enjoying the crowds, but it was like I was watching it on TV or something. It was the strangest feeling. I continued to feel nauseous and dizzy, so I took a GU at 20 and again at 23 to help me through that final push down Beacon street. I came through mile 24 and saw my husband, Ashley and Mike out cheering.

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I knew they were standing on the left side of the course. I can never remember exactly what mile they are positioned at, so I usually start running down the left side and focusing on the crowds after mile 22. Since I was feeling foggy and dizzy, having something to focus on really helped keep me moving. I spotted them, and it perked me up. About a half mile later, I saw my Uncle Dennis cheering for me. I was almost passed him when it registered: oh hey, I know him! 

That last mile and a half was really like a blur. I crested the last “hill” (really just an incline on an overpass) and passed the infamous Citgo sign. I felt like I was going to pass out but knew the finish line was so close. I spotted the “One Mile to Go” sign, put my head down and focused on just putting one foot in front of the other without tripping. Miles 22-26: 7:26, 7:24, 7:48, 8:00.

Mile 26.2

The thing about Boston is, when you make that right onto Hereford and turn left onto Boyleston, it doesn’t matter what you feel like. I glanced at my watch and knew today, the only PR I would run was a course PR. It was good enough for me. I turned the corner and, oh, could that finish line be any further away? It didn’t matter. As much as I wanted to reach it, I also didn’t want it to be over. This is the moment I wait all year for. This is my happy place. My runner’s high. There was nowhere else in the whole world I’d rather be. Even in less than favorable conditions, I was sad that it was about to be over. Last .2: 7:12 pace.

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I crossed the finish line and walked out of the way, off to the right side and squatted down. There are medics everywhere waiting to help the runners, so one of them (Jamie) made a beeline over to me and asked if I was okay. I told her I just needed a minute, but as I stood up I started to fall over so she grabbed my arm. She wanted me to get in a wheelchair but I said I just needed to walk, so she held my arm and walked me to the medical tent. I sat for a few minutes because I really thought I was going to puke. A few minutes earlier, I was finishing the race and unbelievably hot, but now I felt extremely chilled and had goosebumps.

She got me a water (the last thing I wanted) and made me drink a bit of it while asking me questions to get me to talk and see if I was coherent. I really think I just needed a minute because I stood up again and still felt foggy but I could walk. She walked me over to get my medal, and I grabbed a Mylar blanket. She finally felt satisfied that I could handle it on my own, so I headed to gear check. I changed into some dry clothes, but I was still chilled. I was chilled for the whole train ride back to Brookline and until I got into a hot shower. Not sure what that was all about since it was so freaking warm all day long.

I am extremely proud of this race. It wasn’t the race I trained for, but it also wasn’t the conditions I’d hoped for. That’s the nature of the beast when it comes to marathon running. You spend months training and hope that every variable works in your favor. There are so many variables you can’t control and can go wrong. I might be good enough to run a 3:05 or faster when the conditions are favorable. I am not good enough (yet) to run it when something is not going my way.

I don’t say that to sound negative, because really I mean it to be positive. While the past 18 weeks of training were focused on a specific pace that I did not run, I can say that it undoubtedly prepared me for less than ideal race conditions. There was a time where those conditions would have caused me to finish the race in whatever I could manage, and simply dream of the day I could run a 3:11 in good conditions.image

Despite my best efforts to run a PR, this still ended up being my fastest marathon in two years, and my fastest time I’ve ever run in Boston. A lot of people asked me if I was okay, but how can I be unhappy with it? I am beyond grateful that I was healthy and able to make that trek from Hopkinton to Boston for my sixth consecutive year. Being part of that field is a privilege and something that I will never take for granted. A PR would have just been icing on the cake. I left Boston on Monday after the race, and my heart was full of joy.

 

For most people in Boston this year, the race was a struggle. It was a hard day for everyone – not just me. Is it bad that I take some solace in knowing that we all struggled? It’s not that I want to see anyone struggle, but I’m glad we all struggled together. It demonstrates the strength and resilience of our incredible running community, something we take pride in. We are bold. We are strong. Boston Strong! 

 

Any good stories from Marathon Monday?

What I’m Working Out to Wednesday

X-Ambassadors
“Litost”

This is a song off their earlier EPs. Litost is a Czech term that means ‘a state of agony and torment created by the sudden sight of one’s own misery’. It’s such a beautiful song – maybe not a “pump you up” beat for a workout, but it’s on my running playlist and I enjoyed hearing it in the later miles of my race!

Any slow songs on your playlist that you like to run to?

Boston Marathon Training: Hansons, Week 18

Ohhhh I know I owe you guys a race recap, and I have lots to catch up on in your lives! Recap will be coming your way soon – promise! I’m crazy busy today and I wanted to publish my last training post from my taper! I didn’t write this as the week was going on so it will be short and sweet (for once!).

I will tell you this – my toe stopped really being a big deal last week. It still hurts but it did not affect my race and feels almost totally fine today. I will also tell you that based on the conditions, I am so happy with how Marathon Monday went down. But, that’s all you get for now!

Monday, 4/11:  6 Mile Easy Run + Core/MYRTLs

I went to the Saucon Trail for this. The weather was ugly and I felt horrible – dead legs, run down and exhausted. My throat hurt and I was afraid I was getting sick. So instead of going to pole, I skipped it. Went home, did core, cooked dinner. In bed before 9pm in hopes that I would wake up feeling better.

Tuesday, 4/12: 5 Mile Run + Pole + Core/Strength/MYRTLs

My throat still hurt and I was starting to think I really might be getting sick. I pretended it wasn’t happening and kept taking crazy amounts of vitamin C. I walked around school carrying a Clorox wipe and refused to touch anything without it. True story.

I didn’t know what to do without a track workout on the schedule! Crazy! I headed back to the Plainfield trail, did my easy 5 (which felt crazy hard anyway) and went to pole. Ran through my competition piece a few times and called it a day. Added in some core work at home, and was in bed before 9pm again.

Wednesday, 4/13: Pole+Core/Strength 

No running, but went to pole and did some core. I woke up feeling a LOT better, no more sore throat. My toe was also starting to feel better. 

Thursday, 4/14: Easy Run, 6 miles + Abs/MYRTLs

I felt so much better running. Sooooo much better. I headed to Lehigh Parkway and did a loop there, then home to do some abs and go to bed early.

Friday, 4/15: 6 Miles Easy + Core/MYRTLs

Took a sick day from work since I was sick of hearing the kids at school coughing and sneezing all over the place. Running felt better again. Went to my massage therapist and got everything ready for our trip the next day.

Saturday, 4/16: REST + Plank

Drove to Boston, did a plank and went to BED!

Sunday: 4/17:  Easy Run, 3 Miles + Plank

What is a 3 mile run? It was over before I realized it even started. It was along the Charles River and was glorious.

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Who raced this past weekend!?

♥ Total ♥ 26 miles ♥

April 15, 2013

“If you’re trying to defeat the human spirit, marathon runners are the wrong group to target.” 

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I can’t let this day go by without saying anything. Today marks three years since the tragic bombing at the Boston Marathon. I ran the race that year, but thankfully was nowhere near the explosions. I was finished, on the train and almost safe and sound at my aunt and uncle’s house in Brookline. On April 15th, 2013, I was lucky. I’ll be wearing my 2013 jacket today in remembrance of this event and those who were not as fortunate. If you want to read about my experience, you can find it on my blog here, or on Elephant Journal.

Every year, I do some sort of post about running the race. This is my sixth consecutive time toeing the line in Hopkinton, and I feel like words still can’t express the excitement and gratitude I feel to be participating. Each year, I am just as excited to head up north and begin the weekend festivities. I am grateful that I am able to run and take part in this event. I am humbled that my body has carried me through the past 18 weeks. I hope I can go up there and run the race I have in mind. I know I will enjoy the experience from start to finish, regardless of the outcome. My bib number is #7204 this year, and I will carry the memory of the 2013 race in my heart as I run.

Today is a bittersweet day for since it is the anniversary (that seems like a happy term) of a tragic event. On one hand, I woke up today with a bit of sadness in my heart. But I’m also excited for the upcoming weekend. Please take a moment – if possible, at 2:49 pm –  today to think of those who are not excited for this day – for those who are still hurting, and for those whose lives will be forever affected by the tragedy that struck.

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