Monthly archives: October, 2014

Friday Five – Halloween Edition

Welcome to the Friday Five Linkup, hosted by my blog buds/local tweeps

Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!,
Courtney at EatPrayRunDC and
Mar at Mar on the Run.
Make sure to stop by their blogs for their picks and hop along to the other bloggers in the linkup, featured at the bottom of their pages!

This week is the Halloween edition!

Of the three traditions below, my family always “celebrated” Halloween with trick-or-treating, I’ve read about Samhain as I had friends who celebrated it, and over the years I’ve become more interested in Dia de los Muertos, or at least what it represents and tries to accomplish.

Halloween/All Hallows’ Eve

It initiates the triduum of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed believers.Within Allhallowtide, the traditional focus of All Hallows’ Eve revolves around the theme of using “humor and ridicule to confront the power of death.”


Samhain is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year. It is celebrated from sunset on 31 October to sunset on 1 November, which is nearly halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. Along with Imbolc, Beltane, and Lughnasadh it makes up the four Gaelic seasonal festivals. It was observed in Ireland, the Isle of Man, and parts of Scotland. Kindred festivals were held at the same time of year in other Celtic lands; for example the Brythonic Calan Gaeaf (in Wales), Kalan Gwav (in Cornwall), and Kalan Goañv (in Brittany).

Samhain is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and is known to have pre-Christian roots. Many important events in Irish mythology happen or begin on Samhain. ISamhain (like Beltane) was seen as a liminal time, when the spirits or fairies (the Aos Sí) could more easily come into our world. 

Dia de los Muertos

Assured that the dead would be insulted by mourning or sadness, Dia de los Muertos celebrates the lives of the deceased with food, drink, parties, and activities the dead enjoyed in life. Dia de los Muertos recognizes death as a natural part of the human experience, a continuum with birth, childhood, and growing up to become a contributing member of the community. On Dia de los Muertos, the dead are also a part of the community, awakened from their eternal sleep to share celebrations with their loved ones. 

The most familiar symbol of Dia de los Muertos may be the calacas and calaveras(skeletons and skulls), which appear everywhere during the holiday: in candied sweets, as parade masks, as dolls. Calacas and calaveras are almost always portrayed as enjoying life, often in fancy clothes and entertaining situations.

Favorite things from past and present Halloweens:

  • Candy – As a kid – ok, and older than that – my all-time goodie bag fave were the little Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. But as I got older, candy corn and mellowcreme pumpkins were always what appealed to me (made by Brach’s, a local candy company where I worked as a temporary secretary during college). The sweetness is nicely offset by a strong cup of coffee, and a few candy corns post-run will perk you right up! And then someone invented pumpkin kisses….and a few years later, I mostly stopped eating candy. Go figure.
  • Pumpkin carving and putting a candle inside – my mom had a talent for this. I can picture her at the kitchen table with the pile of pumpkin innards on newspapers next to the gourd. As I got older, I got to draw on the pumpkin and she’d carve. Then I was old enough to carve. Then we went back to just drawing on them with markers – easier and they didn’t rot as quickly!
  • Skull stuff – like this marshmallow candy DH picked up
sugar skull candy

sugar skull candy

or this InknBurn sugar skull tech shirt that I own – It’s great to run in or just wear! Always gets noticed. (I put it under a sweater for work.)

sugar skull shirt


or these mash-up Halloween/Dia de los Muertos decorations painted by Endurance Planet’s Tawnee Prazak (multi-talented woman, an artist as well as triathlete, coach, podcaster….)

  • Seeing little kids in adorable costumes carefully making their way up the stairs to take a piece or two of candy in their chubby fists before making their way back down, step by step….usually prompted by their parents to say “thank you” – we’ve had some real cuties show up!
  •  It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! 

What are some of your favorite things about Halloween, Samhain, and/or Dia de los Muertos?

Have a happy – and safe – holiday, whichever you celebrate – and happy Friday if none of the above!



Almost Wordless Wednesday

As of Tuesday evening…..(yes, I know I picked odd times)

the countdown....

the countdown….


Training Recap – Wk of Oct. 20, 2014 – and thoughts stuck in a loop

Here’s last week’s training recap. Recovery week post-Baystate! Slightly even more “recovery” than useful due to fighting off either allergies or DH’s cold. Actually took a sick day from work Wed and didn’t work out at all. I did not run for 5 days after the race, per past experience and suggestions from coaches. Never did get to the pool.

Run 10.02 miles 

  • Sat – 2.42 mile shakeout run with the Runner’s World Marine Corps Marathon Challenge group (kind of them to let me participate). More on that run in my Weekend Update post.
  • Sun – 7.6 mile recovery run on my treadmill, catching up on part of the Marathon Talk podcast from this week and the Another Mother Runner podcast ep detailing Sarah’s BQ at Victoria Marathon.

Bike: 1h Monday in hotel, 30 min Tues, 1hr Th, 1h Fri
Core: F AM 
Wharton flex: 6 (skipped Tues post-chiro)
Chiro exercisesWas able to do Ohnos Thursday, 4 days post-race! Full 6 set, jumping – not huge wide leaps, but real jumps nonetheless!
Coach Jay GSM routine: Thursday, LC #1 fine. Laterals a bit clumsy. Pedestals w leg raises! Laterals and front fine, back as usual tougher. L ham complaining a little, did Myrtls.
Calf stretches: Didn’t actually count it – did them  most days
Walk: Sunday, walked 15 min before run.
Drills: Didn’t wind up doing much in the way of drills Sat outside with other runners. Sunday, did normal drills but forgot my lunge matrix.
Other: Chiro Tues, massage Sat
Nutrition: Gave myself M/T to have extra treats at dinner/evening, then tried to get back to “normal” eating (vaguely controlled/regimented with uncontrolled periods). Ate like a weekday on Sat/Sun since I didn’t run much. Much nutrition stuff to figure out.

Looking forward:

I’m trying to figure out how to approach Richmond. Originally it was to be an “easy” (as in take it easy, not it will be easy!) training run for my ultra in Dec. per Coaches Tawnee and Lucho at Endurance Planet. Then, I started thinking that really, everything after Baystate is actually training for Boston, and less important on its own than for what it gives me in that regard. (I want to finish Richmond and the 50k well and may have a goal time for each – and then will submit Maniac forms.) Richmond has a good stretch of downhill around mile 6-7 and a good/nasty stretch of uphill around mile 16. Great Boston training.

THEN, my DH (as he is wont to do) put a bug in my ear, thought in my brain, etc….of wondering if I could do even better at Richmond than I did at Baystate. He suggested I go out with a faster pace group and see how it felt, see how long I could hold it. If I feel good, maybe I do better. If I’m not feeling it, drop back and finish. He tends to be more of the “go hard, see what you can do” type in races, where I will go hard, but I want to have a fair amount of confidence and training to back up the goal I’m after – and I try to want to stay even pace, not blow up. I guess I set goals that aren’t gimmes, but that I think I might be able to reach. (unless you count my super-ambitious goal for Baystate that I backed away from during training) On the other hand, he has always had more confidence than I have in my abilities, and so far, he’s been proven right. I’ve been able to do things I thought were only dreams, and I’m dreaming bigger (well, faster) now. Why NOT go for it, being willing to pull the plug at the first sign of any physical discomfort that might cause me problems in maintaining consistent, healthy training for Boston?

OR, I could just run however I feel, go with podcasts, start with a slower pace group or maybe find a tweep to hang with and take it very easy for those 26.2 miles……I don’t know what I want to do or what the “right” thing is to do – quite often that’s only clear in retrospect once you’ve done something that went well or awry.

And so my brain spins on the hamster wheel. I may only decide day of race or as I start the race – and may even change my mind then!


The other main hamster wheel topic is my nutrition, diet, food, whatever you want to call it.

I still need to decide whether I’ll go back to gluten-free grain (and possibly goat cheese!) for a while to see if I note a performance improvement. (and if so, when) It’s an experiment I’m leery of, because I did well last year and at Shamrock and Baystate with the paleo-ish non-grain diet.

Looking at what I could eat before a late start race and still follow my current constraints leads me to maybe a cranberry Hammer bar but it’s pretty high fat and high sugar. Obviously, a GF bagel or oatmeal would be easier.

One part of me is really tempted to try GF grains again – the part that misses options and yumminess,and eating out with DH would be SO much easier if GF were the “only” constraint. It’s darned near impossible now, quite stressful except for one restaurant that’s a bit pricey for a regular visit and one where I have one or two things I can get but it’s limited. (ignoring our Chinese and BBQ takeout joints)

I almost think “keep the diet till after the ultra, then go wild in Arizona with GF and see what happens”. I would love to eat GF pizza, GF chocolate chip cookie and GF treats from some places there. (sadly one fave closed in Scottsdale but is open in Gilbert… and Tammie Coe still wouldn’t be an option) And would I dive into dairy? (goat cheese on pizza or maybe Sweet Republic, which didn’t make me sick the last time I ate it some years ago, maybe no additives is key?)  Do I want to get sick in Arizona and on the way home, and start the new year that way? Would i get sick? (wow, I’m really obsessing about food lately – and missing certain things, obviously…it’s hard because you have to eat, and it’s all choices, all the time)

My sister suggested I try going back to GF grain as an experiment, see how it goes, and that I didn’t have to eat everything all the time. My MT suggested maybe try 2 days a week of GF grain and see how that went. But it’s often easier for me to be an abstainer rather than a moderator, maybe because I’m so rule- and routine-oriented. (I think my sister is a moderator – she can eat a small bowl of something and stop. Sometimes I can do that, more often I get a second bowl! I envy moderators…..)

I just started reading Older, Faster, Stronger by Margaret Webb last week, and am finding it interesting. Trying to read a chapter a night. (keep reading, I do have a point here)

Description from her web site: Older, Faster, Stronger: What Women Runners Can Teach Us All About Living Younger, Longer (Rodale Books, 2014) grew out of my midlife crisis. Forget the sports car, I wanted to achieve the seeming impossible: To enjoy the wisdom of a 50 year old but inside the body of a very fit 20 year old. So I set out on a quest to shake off my midlife malaise and get fitter after 50 than I was as a varsity athlete at university. My journey took me across North America to run with pioneers of the women’s running boom and uncover secrets as to how they manage to run well into their 70s, 80s and even 90s; to Africa to train with elite marathoners and reach back to the dawn of the human race to explore why women can live so strong and for so long; and, finally, to Europe where I tested myself in a race against some of the fittest 50 year olds on the planet. Along the way, I consulted with a team of experts, tapped the minds of leading researchers and delved into physiology and aging labs, all in my quest to understand how to live longer, younger and enter a glorious second act to my life.

Part of the advice she gets is on eating….and she winds up going essentially Paleo (she calls it “Cavemam”) with timed carbs/high carb before, during, and after races and specific runs. The book argues well for staying the course i’m on.

And then there’s dairy (goat cheese! whey protein! Arctic Zero!) and things to address my GERD like not eating after dinner, eating dinner really early and trying to get to bed by say 8:30. I don’t know which of these changes I *should* make for improved performance and recovery, which I can tolerate in my life – although I can pretty much do anything if I want it bad enough….but Boston is 6 months away (only or a long time depending on what I’m thinking of).

So many decisions! Almost too many, decision fatigue. And all I really want is to get back to training. I need to put my plan together for Boston. I need some hours to focus on that, figure out goals and work through my trusty YOU again to come up with the plan. I’m thinking hill and speed modules first, along with Richmond and the ultra, then the regular 12 week module starts in January. Need to figure out what additional core and strength work to do, and other tweaks (mostly adds, I think) to my training so I can give it my absolute best on April 20th. Also need to figure out if I’m going to Greg McMillan’s Boston training retreat in February – Valentine’s Day weekend – in Phoenix. Would be the first time I’ve run a half in training for a full. Would also be first V-Day away from DH since we got together many years ago….

And in random running/racing thoughts…I was having race envy with all the MCM vibe this past weekend, and that really hasn’t happened before. I like training more than I like racing, generally. I’m sort of thinking about a 10k on Sunday (someone reminded me that post-marathon or in marathon training, one can often set 5k/10k PRs, and my 10k is really old) and some 5ks in Nov/Dec. But Sunday is the NCYM (I plan to watch Deena and Meb after my run is over) and it’s also fall-back day….that extra hour of sleep is something I prize. Is a 10k – driving into DC early, walking a mile plus each way to and from my car, etc. worth it? I’d like a better PR, sure, but marathons are really my thing.

Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts on any or all of the above.

Note: I wrote this post Monday night. Tuesday morning, I was adding a few links when I got a (much-needed?) dose of perspective. Michael Csapo just posted an update on his fight with pancreatic cancer. He’s been having a very, very difficult time. Perhaps you could read his post and offer some words of support to him via twitter (or if you’re on tumblr maybe you can comment). Thanks!


Weekend Update 10/25-26, 2014

This post is part of Tara’s Weekend Update linkup – check out her site to see what everyone’s been up to! (training recap coming Tues)


Sat – 2.42 mile shakeout run.

I went into DC (thanks DH for the ride in!) to meet up with the fabulous Bart Yasso as he led the Runner’s World Challenge group for Marine Corps Marathon on an easy shakeout run. Having been lucky enough to run with him the day before Shamrock and confirm that he is just as awesome as you imagine, I couldn’t pass up a chance to run with him again AND have it be my first run post-Baystate! Along with Bart from Runner’s World were Amby Burfoot (Boston Marathon winner! heard him speak at a HHHalf seminar), Budd Coates, Christine Fennessy (great hair) and Robert James Reese. (I don’t think I got the photographer’s name – sorry) Also joining the pack – local fave (I’m a fan), marathoner, ultrarunner Mike Wardian (before he heads to Doha, Qatar to represent the USA at the World 100k Championships) and his adorable Vizla Rosie. This is my my first in-person sighting of Mike.  Eventually I hope to actually meet him, speak with him and maybe grab a pic and pet Rosie!

I met an interesting gentleman from Canada – struck up a conversation because he was wearing this year’s Chicago Marathon shirt. Since I’m from the area originally, asked him about it. Turns out he ran Chicago, Toronto and now Marine Corps! He runs a lot of marathons and he and a friend signed up to run Comrades in 2015 (that race that fascinates me, not sure I’ll do it but…..). And he’s 50, so someone close to my age, showing more is possible. Had a fantastic time chatting about all sorts of running topics for the whole run and quite a while after (why I missed hugging Bart or meeting Mike). We exchanged emails, would be great to stay in touch.

Metro’d home, with more runners….while waiting, met an older woman who normally does triathlons but was doing MCM to raise money for cystic fibrosis as her 30 year old nephew has it. On the train met a woman who now lives in Florida (she rec’d the Donna 26.2 there) but who came from West Virginia, so we chatted a while about that. She said the Marshall University Marathon in Huntington is great – flat, fast and you finish in the stadium. She told me it was next weekend, and you know, I actually thought about it, came home and looked it up. If it wasn’t such a long drive (and they allowed headphones), I’d be tempted, even though I’m not sure I could or should do it. Who am I? The MCM vibe this weekend is making me – who loves to train but isn’t that fond of racing – miss being in a race. I’m even considering a 10k next Sunday.

Sun – 7.6 mile recovery run on my treadmill, catching up on part of the Marathon Talk podcast from this week and the Another Mother Runner podcast ep detailing Sarah’s BQ at Victoria Marathon.


Saturday – Mostly puttering. Post-run, had breakfast and spent time online. Had to have this snack before my massage – and ate it again Sunday morning!

paleo bread with pumpkin puree, TJ's blueberry preserves and Penzey's pumpkin pie spice, warmed in the microwave

paleo bread with pumpkin puree, TJ’s blueberry preserves and Penzey’s pumpkin pie spice, warmed in the microwave

Had a lovely massage and chat with my MT. She’s also an artist, so I got a preview of the holiday cards she’s going to be selling. After that, I went to my local Pacers running store (I’d tweeted with them earlier in the day) to put in a pre-order for the Brooks Adrenaline 15s. Cross your fingers everyone, I NEED these shoes to work! I’m running out of my stock of 13s and I have much training to do. (the SuperFeet/orthotics question is a whole other story, but let’s start with the shoes) Got a chance to catch up with an ultrarunner who works there and ran Leadville 100. While doing that errand, I stopped by CostPlus and determined they had decided Halloween is over and it’s now Christmas. I am firmly in the “no Christmas stuff until the day after Thanksgiving” camp, so this disturbed me enough I forgot to get more sugar-free chocolate syrup. Another trip will be required. Went to RiteAid and picked up the rest of the Halloween candy we “needed” (it was on sale at least), and got myself Chinese steamed chicken and veggies for dinner. Had it Friday, will have it Sat and Sun also – same exact thing. 3x in a row is a bit much even for me, but it’s easiest.

Sunday – Bad stomach night for multiple reasons, so awake at 4. Got up since DH was getting ready to head to the marathon….went back to bed at 5:30 after he left. Tossed and turned, dozed for a little. Got up around 7, got kabocha and spaghetti squash in the oven and got my run in. Hung out online, then got cleaned up to go cheer the MCM runners not far from my house. I was out there for a while, ringing cowbells and yelling encouragement. Saw only one tweep I was cheering for and somehow missed DH. I know from his splits and the time that I was out there when he passed. There were large clumps of runners at some points though, and more people taller than he is than I would have expected, so he must have just been blocked from my view. I saw on the text alert that he’d hit the 40k split so I headed home to await news of his finish, then his return home a couple of hours after that.

I used the time to finish prepping food for tomorrow. Feels like I’ve been off work for a while with my race, a brief bout with a cold last week, and telework, but tomorrow is an office day, and busy week coming up. I also accomplished this!

new chair for standing desk breaks at work - put it together myself!

new chair for standing desk breaks at work – put it together myself!

And before the last of my motivation/productivity left me (the chair didn’t take long, but crouching and sitting on the floor wasn’t something my legs loved), I changed the city sticker on my car. Then Whartons, Chinese for the 3rd night in a row, a little TV and now writing this up. Soon, snacking, reading and bed before….hey, how’d it get to be Monday again?!

Hope you had a great weekend! Please tell me about it in the comments, especially if you raced.

Post-Baystate thoughts and musings

Some thoughts and musings post-Baystate.



Baystate Marathon shirt (back) & medal

Baystate Marathon shirt (back) & medal

Your mind can be a bigger enemy – or ally – than your body.  I’ve read this, thought I understood it, and probably even RT’d some related quotes, but it really sunk in from this race. I have some experiences with physical aches, pains, niggles, past injuries and how the physical side of a marathon (and worrying about all the aforementioned things) can feel and can be in your head, both in the race and in training. Trying to hit new paces and get faster and stronger is also tough in both ways. But in this race – and, thinking back, in this training cycle – it was the mental aspect that was the most challenging. That was kind of a surprise to me, as I can be fairly driven and goal-oriented, and I like that and use it to my advantage. My mind turning into a balky horse that didn’t want to go anywhere wasn’t something I’d expected during the race. Sure, I’d had early morning speedwork/tough runs or long runs where it seemed like it was taking me longer and longer to get going or where I had to coax myself through it, but for my mind to chatter at me about stopping before 10k in the race itself? I didn’t see that coming, and I hadn’t spent time training for it. (I’m still feeling kind of surprised and battered by it, wondering what my own mind was doing behaving that way, seemingly out of my control.)

I hadn’t done as much mental training and visualization for this race as I had for Shamrock, preferring most nights to read and eat bananas and nut butter and Arctic Zero (aka lazy). So perhaps fear had gotten hold of me even in training – fear of not hitting my goal (and disappointment at adjusting my goal, followed by fear of not hitting THAT goal), fear of injury, maybe even fear of success? Whatever it was, it reared its ugly head for several hours on Sunday. But I beat it back. I may have had to do so ridiculously frequently, and with any and every means at my disposal (gel, music, watching people’s shoes), but I did it. And I kept the physical side of myself going while I did it, keeping my fueling on plan, my speed up and getting me a better BQ and new PR.

Though I wish it hadn’t happened, I am proud of how I handled it – the effort and the process – and I’m so lucky to be happy with the outcome and proud of that too. Beating BQ by 12:13 is awesome (sort of still in disbelief that it happened, AND a spiffy PR), and I’m looking forward to being in the second wave of registration for 2016. And someday I intend for that first wave to be MINE.

I am mentally even tougher than I thought. I thought I was fairly tough after the Fort Story miles at Shamrock, and after pushing myself through training basically since the end of last year. But I really showed up in the mental toughness game for this race. That said, mental toughness shouldn’t be taken for granted, and I plan to get back into the mental training aspect in this new training cycle. Improvement in all things if I can!

I wished at some point on the Tuesday after the race – driving to chiro and feeling fatigue hit – that I was one of “those people” who could finish a marathon so strong they would jump across the line, go out and tour around, etc. But then I thought, “that’s just not the way I do it”….if I had that much energy left, I probably could have done the race faster. When I’m going after a PR, or even just wanting to give it my best, I want to know that I left it all on the course and gave it all I had. If that means I cross the line spent, exhausted and a little incoherent, so be it. If that means I’m tired and low energy for a while after, so be it. I’m okay with that. I don’t want to be left wondering “what if I’d pushed myself harder?” or “did I really do all I could, was that my best?” I may not run every race full out (Richmond will be done as a training run) but when I do, I want to know that I gave it everything I had, whatever that was on the day. That’s one of the things I’m proudest of with both my marathons (both BQs!! and PRs!!) this year, and I think that’s my approach, at least for now.

All the strength exercises – from my chiro, from Coach Jay’s GSM or anywhere else – they mattered. They helped. I could feel it during the race. So every time I made myself do them, made myself late for something else BY doing them, or otherwise overcame whatever trivial barrier there was between me and strength training – paid off. Same with my Whartons.

Though I am much stronger than I used to be, I need some serious hill training for Boston as well as more strength work – core and leg, including single leg and balance. That said, I have told myself the story in the past that “I’m not good at hills” and I don’t think I’ve run enough of them to be able to say that. I think I did pretty well in this race! I never walked, tried to keep even effort on the uphill and take what I could from the downhill. Hills are an area I can really make some improvements in, which will pay off in strength, speed and my Boston times! I could also try to do some knee drive and more “gazelle” like form work to open up my stride and increase my speed. Up to now, I’ve been more of a glider by “nature”, and it works, but I’ll take improvements and benefits in any part of my running.

The regular chiro (weekly) and massage appointments (every couple of weeks) helped keep me healthy throughout the training and allowed me to get to the start line healthy, trained and grateful for that and the opportunity to race. I am so lucky to have the ability to take advantage of these professionals on my team, and I know it. Their support is needed and deeply appreciated.

All the focus on running goal pace or faster miles during long runs and at other times paid off.

I can’t say if adjusting my goal pace to be a bit, um, less fast, was the right thing to do, but given I got to the race and through the race healthy, uninjured, with good results, it probably was. It was a  tough choice, disappointing and upsetting. I’ll always wonder if I could have hit that other goal. (I plan to hit it eventually, haven’t let it go!) I’ll never know if it was just fear on my part or some internal warning signal that said “this is a lot harder than maybe it should be, you might be taking a risk here you don’t want to”. Would it have been “better” to push harder during training and wind up with an injury, or try to do something I wasn’t ready for and blow up in the race?  While there is some appeal – ok, a fair amount of appeal for me – in the hardcore push-it-to-the-limit approach, the problem is that you often don’t find the limit until you’ve passed it, with consequences that are unacceptable. I have to be able to train consistently to improve, and for my health and sanity. So what keeps me healthy and able to run consistently is the right thing to do. Sometimes that’s not pushing as hard as my ego wants.

All the decisions about eating this or not, sleeping or not, doing a workout or backing off….they were tough in the moment, and I second-guessed myself, but on balance, they worked out for me. It’s hard to know with any one decision or choice if you’re tilting the balance the “wrong” way and getting yourself into trouble. I was cautious in some ways and not cautious enough in others, and it’s a constant learning experience. Hopefully I will get better and “smarter” as time goes on, learning from others and sharing what I learn.

I was once again very lucky – my health, my training, my GI tract, the weather, the course and a host of other variables came together to allow me a great race. Perhaps not easy as I’d hoped, not necessarily fun, but in its own way – in what I learned and my results especially – great.

Last and by no means least:



Baystate Weekend (non-race) with pictures

Since my race recap was a LOT of words (thanks for reading and commenting!) I thought I’d go picture-heavy for the non-race stuff. I don’t have any photos of the race itself as I didn’t carry my iPhone and didn’t have anyone waiting for me at the end. I’m sure there will be photos of the race online at some point (though not of me) if you want to see what it looks like. You can also check out Nicole’s recap and follow-up posts. I may still have one more race-related post coming, thinking about it.

Here’s what greeted me on arrival

fall at Manchester airport

fall at Manchester airport

I didn’t take any photos of the expo on Friday, so let’s move on to Saturday.

I got up to do a shakeout run to the start/finish and back, in part so I would know where I was going on Sunday! After warming up on the hotel treadmill and doing drills in the small fitness center (yes, even for a shakeout run, you know me and my routine), I checked my map one more time and the guidance folks at the expo gave me and headed out the back door of the hotel, to be greeted with this terrific view:


canal behind hotel

canal behind hotel

Lowell - The Venice of America

Lowell – The Venice of America

another canal view

another canal view

canalway/walkway toward the race venue

canalway/walkway toward the race venue

I headed up the canal way – that little ramp you can see is where I started my 2.3 mile shakeout run. The first mile felt loose and good, the second was tighter in my hams/glutes. My hips were painfully tight from the super-pillowy-soft bed, making me wish my chiro was handy. They hurt almost all day, making me worried for the race! I even thought about sleeping on the floor, but decided not to, and was fine on race day.

I ran over to the Tsongas Center (finish) and high school (start) – which are across the street from each other. I ran what I thought from the course video I’d watched was part of the finish (it was, just in the other direction!) noting that the pavement had a lot of potholes and rough surfaces in it, reminding myself to be careful at the end of the race when I’d be tired and perhaps my foot placement less careful. I headed back to the hotel on the other side of the streets I’d run, so I could look at different shops. I saw a running outlet store and decided to swing back there later.

Once back at the hotel, ate my usual weekday (pre-long run day and thus pre-race day) breakfast of asparagus, paleo bread turkey sandwich, sweet potato. Then showered and did my Whartons, arranged to meet up with my sister later. I walked over to the running outlet store I’d seen, only to find it closed (someone had been in it on my run) and figured out that they were closed because they were part of Marx Running, and thus at the expo. Oh well. Saw a t-shirt I’d seen at the expo and decided against getting for DH, but took a pic to send him, and he concurred I’d made the right choice not getting it. Walked around a bit more, found the place I planned to have dinner post-race with my sis & BIL and a coffeehouse I’d seen online. For some reason, being in the Northeast was making me crave coffee more than ever, and I thought I might take the risk of a little on the day before the race but I decided to wait for my sister.

My sister arrived and we headed over to LifeAlive, which had been highly recommended by Nicole and others. I didn’t want to load up on veggies by this point in the day (1:30) so wanted to try the famous FoMu coconut milk ice cream they served. I liked the vibe of the place, but the service was a fail. It took 10-15 minutes for me to get my little cup of ice cream, which it wasn’t all that great anyway so I only ate a few bites. (I like pints I’ve gotten in the store better.) Also, no coffee for me here as they didn’t make decaf! Fortunately, I’d called ahead and knew this so avoided being surprised on site. I also noted that they do their dishwashing by hand – which I can appreciate – but it raises a cross-contamination risk for me, so they’re off the list in the future. The food I saw being served looked quite good, and cute decor. I did get a Not Your Sugar Mama’s chocolate bar (oh, to eat gluten-free oats! look at the chocolate chip cookies on their web site!) and a Budi Bar that I will try once I’m back running decent mileage (both are in fridge now).


LifeAlive restaurant

LifeAlive restaurant

Not Your Sugar Mama's Salted Caramel bar

Not Your Sugar Mama’s Salted Caramel bar – gluten, dairy and grain free! from a place on Martha’s Vineyard

Not Your Sugar Mama's Salted Caramel bar  - back label

Not Your Sugar Mama’s Salted Caramel bar – back label of ingredients, nutrition info


Budi Bar - front label

Budi Bar – front label – another gluten, grain and dairy free local treat

Budi Bar - back label

Budi bar – back label with ingredients, nutrition info

From LifeAlive, we wandered over to a “coffeehaus” called Brew’d Awakening, small and funky, even had a live musician on Saturday afternoon! Another service fail however, as they left the chocolate out of my sister’s mocha and my Americano tasted burned. They fixed my sister’s by adding some syrup, but we were both disappointed. I seriously thought about buying some of the local gluten-free, dairy-free treats they had on display – if I were eating “just” gluten-free, they would have gone back to the hotel, no question! But rice, sorghum and pea flours are among those I’m currently not eating and didn’t want to tempt myself. The apple cinnamon donuts, blueberry pie (!) to bake/micro and the HOMEMADE POP-TART were super tempting though. Took the picture in case I go back to eating GF grain and want them to ship me some yumminess. Looks like Something Sweet Without Wheat may not ship all their items, but I bet my sister could be persuaded to pick me up any goodies that they won’t ship like the pop tarts and pies and ship them anyway!

Something Sweet Without Wheat treats

Something Sweet Without Wheat treats – blueberry pie and pop tart!

We took our less-than-sublime coffee beverages back to the hotel and sat outside being soothed by the rushing water and chatting, until we were chilled by breezes turning into gusts and adjourned back to my room.


chillin' with my sis by the canal

chillin’ with my sis by the canal

We chatted a bit longer, then it was time for me to start cooking my pre-race dinner: shredded carrots, baby bok choy, sliced mushrooms and coconut aminos along with more of the smoked turkey sliced lunchmeat I’d had for breakfast. (I’m a pretty decent hotel microwave cook by this point.) Also on the evening meal plan were dried bananas, the rest of the vanilla maple Arctic Zero from the night before and some so-so sweet potato chips that I had to keep salting – I mistakenly bought the no salt version.

I spent some time laying out my race kit (see race recap for those pix) and talking to DH about singlet v. short-sleeve and other consuming thoughts. He said he thought I hadn’t eaten enough calories during the day (he was probably right, due to timing I wound up skipping lunch) and convinced me to cook another sweet potato, but after I got off the phone with him I decided it would sit too heavily in my stomach and put it in the fridge, where it came in handy post-race – after my recovery drink, while getting cleaned up.

Sunday, the race!

I’d researched a restaurant called Fuse Bistro for post-race that looked to be very gluten-free friendly but turned out to be something of a fail. I’d planned on getting their burger (BBQ sauce on the side, no bun of course) and sweet potato fries and maybe one of their two rib appetizers. When I stopped in the day before to make sure that we wouldn’t need a reservation, I asked about some of the GF items, to be told that making, for example, the short rib appetizer GF meant leaving off the sauce. Boring, no thanks.

Turns out I should have done more research. Fortunately, on Sunday, even in my post-race depleted (physically and mentally) state, I thought, “hey wait, what else do they serve that’s fried?” I asked the server if they fried the GF items in a separate fryer and she said “no, but not much of the flour stays behind, and we have a guy here who’s gluten free and fine with it and we’ve never had any complaints”…..I worked really hard not to cry or lose my temper. (remember, this is something like 3h post marathon!) I just explained to the server that they didn’t really understand GF and they needed to tell people all these details. I also said that if I’d gotten sick after eating there, I wouldn’t call them to complain – I just wouldn’t go back and I’d tell other people about the experience. (She was nice and well-meaning, but this gives you some idea of the risks I have eating out – imagine this kind of oversight for a pre-race dinner!)

So I wound up with a (tasty enough) burger patty, one piece of bacon, and some spring mix (didn’t eat the lettuce/pickle/tomato/onion as they don’t agree with me). I got the huge side of fries and truffled salt that came with the meal for my sis/BIL, who said they were excellent, took the rest home with them. The BBQ sauce resembled no BBQ sauce I’d even had (BIL concurred) and wasn’t that good. I didn’t bother to try the sherry vinaigrette, just ate the spring mix dry. Not the best post-race meal, and not the one I’d been craving.

my burger and bacon

my burger and bacon – the burger is under the bacon, which is broken into multiple segments but is only one piece

On the other hand, both my sis and BIL really enjoyed their meals and plan to put the restaurant in their regular rotation, as they’re in the area fairly often. I will say that the prices are quite reasonable for the quality and quantity of food.

My sister’s meal: fried chicken breast, pumpkin waffle, red gravy, butternut squash with port-soaked cranberries.

fried chicken and pumpkin waffle

fried chicken and pumpkin waffle

My BIL’s ahi tuna burger with “tater tots” which turned out to be huge deep fried “coins” of yukon gold mashed potatoes and cheese.

ahi tuna burger with "tater tots"

ahi tuna burger with “tater tots”

He also got a “blueberry beer”, from a local company. Both he and my sis said it was good, subtle but not overwhelming.

blueberry beer

blueberry beer

They were full enough that I couldn’t entice them to have any of the dessert so I could live vicariously. Warm pumpkin cake or an ice cream sandwich with housemade salted caramel ice cream sounded really good to me (even though I wouldn’t be eating any), but they didn’t go for it.

We dropped my BIL off at the hotel, then my incredibly kind sister drove me 10 miles each way to a Whole Foods for more vanilla maple Arctic Zero and some taro chips so I could at least have some treats in the evening in the hotel room while I watched Netflix and read.

Monday morning, up and at ’em around 6am, got myself down to the fitness center for an hour on the comfiest, smoothest, quietest exercise bike I’ve ever ridden. It was Matrix brand, like the treadmill I walked on for my warmups and the elliptical (in the picture) I tried momentarily on Monday till I thought “bad idea right after a marathon”.

great exercise bike

great exercise bike

I enjoyed the fall leaves in Massachusetts and New Hampshire on my way back to the Manchester airport. After only a brief delay, I was safely back in Northern Virginia. But wait….there’s one more thing… when I dragged my suitcase up the front steps, I was reminded once again how lucky I am to have DH….new Boston flowers to celebrate my new BQ! (and because the other ones keep dying in the unseasonably warm temps)

new Boston flowers!

new Boston flowers!

more new Boston flowers!

more new Boston flowers!

That’s all, hope you enjoyed the photo tour of the weekend!

Baystate Marathon Race Report (BQ #2, PR!)

The very short version:

BQ #2! Beat my BQ time for 2016 by 12:13!!

Being over 10 minutes faster gets me one wave earlier in registration if they do it the same way. I’m also told that I can submit my time to Boston and possibly get an earlier wave/corral for 2015!


And beat my Shamrock PR by 6:38!

Below is my long Baystate race report, crafted from a fatigued brain and notes I put into my iPhone on the flight home – so don’t be expecting the most polished and eloquent post ever written. I figured sooner was better than later, especially given MCM and those race recaps to come. Posts on Fri/Sat/Sun pre/post/non-race activities and a race assessment may come later in the week or next week, and possibly some recovery and lessons learned type posts. If there’s a question you want answered about my race, race gear, fueling, whatever, please ask in the comments and I’ll try to include it in another post!

Get yourself a cup of your favorite beverage and a snack, and settle in…..

Ready? Here we go!


The forecast has been for cloudy, low 40s (real feel low 30s) with variable gusty winds 15+ mph. Last night I spent time freaking out over the possible cold, asking for advice on twitter, then trying on my short sleeve shirt and deciding it would chafe, so singlet is the way to go. Fortunately, it was a little warmer than they’d forecast – I think mid to upper 40s at the start – which helped, though it was COLD going over and waiting to start.

What I wore (same as Shamrock):
race kit

race kit

Champion yellow bra, The North Face Better Than Naked yellow singlet, gray/green The North Face Better Than Naked shorts, Feetures yellow light cushion socks (3rd wearing), The North Face visor. Nathan arm warmers, black toss gloves. Sunglasses.


Pre-race supplements and fuel I carried in UltrAspire Spry vest :
pre-race supplements, gels, vest for race

pre-race supplements, gels, vest for race

Two 5 serving flasks of EFS Liquid Shot vanilla (filled each Hammer flask with 4 servings plus water, combined the remainder in one flask with water that I took at start) plus a number of GU in case I needed more fuel. The winds at Shamrock had me burning a lot of effort and fuel, and I wanted to be prepared. Pre-race, my usual supplements, FRS chews and Beet-Elite. I took the pre-race stuff at 5:45 for an 8am race and that was the last fluid I took in until the bit of gel/water I took at the start.


At 6:30, I went down and walked 15 min on the hotel treadmill and did my drills. (glad I did as I didn’t get my mile warmup run as I’d wanted!) Felt fine. By 7 am I was hungry and thirsty, but that’s way too late to take in anything pre-race. Just after 7, I gathered my pre-packed gear bag (extra gloves, hat, Ultragen powder, bottle of water and empty Hammer bottle to create my recovery drink immediately post-race, a tyvec lab coat I’d planned to wear pre-race, my teal Yellowman shirt and a blue SportHill hoody DH loaned me). I wore nylon wind pants and an illuminate jacket over my race kit – it was a chilly walk of about a half mile to the finish/start area. I tried to jog a little on the way but tough with a gear bag.


(Aside: this race was incredibly well organized….there are no paid staff, ALL volunteers and most are runners who know what’s important to runners. There’s a reason the slogan for the race is “for runners, by runners”. May say more on that in another post.)


I went into the Tsongas Center hoping to meet up with Nicole and maybe see Colleen or Liza (warmth and indoor bathrooms, supposedly) No luck on finding anyone and only one bathroom was open. Waiting in a long line at 7:30 was out of the question. Plus I still had to check my gear. So, outside to the portajohns – plenty but somehow never enough. Met a young woman doing her first marathon and hoping to BQ – saw her after and she missed BQ’ing by about 3 minutes, but I’m sure she’ll get it next time. After that brief stop, needed to get to gear check and get in the corral. No time or place for a warmup mile at this point (something to work on in the future as I think it helped me at Shamrock).


Gear check was super-easy and located at the back of the marathon corrals. It was staffed by local high school XC runners who were efficient, cheery, and friendly. I made my way through people to try to get to my targeted spot ahead of one of the pace groups. My goal pace put me between two pace groups so I decided I’d start at my goal pace, hold it for as long as I could knowing I could tag on to the pace group behind me if needed. Talked to that pacer – bright orange shirt, carrying a big sign on a stick – asking him some Q like “how do you go through water stops, run or walk?”, “are you running even splits?” He appreciated that reminder as he’d forgotten to tell the group he was going to run through the water stops! He said he was going to try to run even splits a couple seconds faster than target (target splits were on the back of his shirt – brilliant!) and that a second pacer would join around halfway and he’d drop at 16, leaving the second pacer to get the group to the end. Again, brilliant on the part of the organizers – I’ve never seen a race rotate pacers through, everyone should do it.


We all huddled together for warmth (I was about midway between the sides of the corrals) and listened to the nicest Star-Spangled Banner performance I’ve ever heard at a race. There were multiple voices and harmony. It was lovely. Not sure if it was live or pre-recorded. Chugged my gel/water and got the nice guy next to me to pitch the empty flask out of the corrals as I was afraid I’d not get it far enough and hit someone.


Here’s a fun video of the start! (I love the guy yelling “GO GO GO” at the beginning) The right side of the road (as you watch this) is the full marathon, the left is the half. We’re on the same course for a while, but it does split – there’s plenty of signage. Here’s a video tour of the course.


Spoiler: this may have been the toughest race mentally for me of any I’ve ever run, including the Shamrock Fort Story wind tunnel and my 2004 injured marathon finish (walking last 6.2 in pain, in rain). It was so hard. I don’t know why, it may have been a reflection of my odd mood and mental state during this training cycle, all the stress I’ve been under and my weird feeling of detachment as the race approached. I don’t know if it had to do with changing my goal time during training – don’t think so, but I know that had affected my mood. My chiro (post-race) said that in the last couple of weeks pre-race, he thought I was really overthinking it and stressing. At my last appointment pre-race, he told me to “just have fun and do what you love to do, run!” That really made me think about when and how I love running. I will say that this race had its good moments, but it was not “fun”.


After the announcer’s yell to start us off, we crossed the timing mat and I started my music. Or so I thought. My iPod started with a song I knew in the middle of my specifically-ordered playlist – those of you who know me know how well I’d react to something like that – so I got briefly consumed trying to fix it. I thought of Sarah’s problems the night before her recent BQ, but I knew I’d checked the order of the playlist, so some sequence my gloved hand pressed screwed it up. I kept trying to fiddle with it and thought it might be on the shuffle setting, which requires fingernails to adjust and looking at the darned thing, partially hidden by my vest and singlet. I pulled off my R glove trying to fix it (and sent the expo-purchased pace band flying) and then gave up as I could see the leader of the pace group I intended to stay ahead of was now ahead of me! We were also running on half the road (middle divider) with cones between the lanes that kept getting knocked down. (the shouts of “cone” would ripple back through the pack) I decided I’d live with shuffle and try not to be too irritated, just go with it being a different race experience as my sister had said. But I was thrown, frustrated and worried about time loss already as I pushed around and through people to get ahead of the pacer. (FYI, the iPod DID play in order, just played the 2nd half of the list first, causing me to mess w forwards/back later to keep peppier songs going.)


I decided right away that I would take gel every 3mi starting at 3, which is more frequently than I usually take it. I often go more for 4-5 miles between, and tend not to take it until I feel a need. However, I realized that sometimes that might be too late to enable me to stay on a tough pace, and that the hills and gusts of wind were going to make me burn more energy as well. Also, from reading Sage’s Racing Wisely and my own experience, I recalled that negative thoughts can sometimes be an indicator of needing more fuel, and I needed to bat away negative thoughts any way I could. I got through mi 24 taking the gel every 3 miles on my 2 flasks of 8 servings of EFS mixed with water. Love that stuff. Only a couple of times did my stomach momentarily have an opinion, and it passed. I took water at aid stations maybe 4-5x on course, running through the stations yelling “water” to get matched up with a  volunteer. I took only mouthfuls, sometimes after my gel but sometimes separate from it, if it was just a desire to wet a dry mouth or some sense of “hey you might need some water”. I even purposely spilled some out of a cup that was too full to drink and ignored the splashes on my face. So I may be getting better at this aid station thing! It helped that the stations were well organized and fully supplied, with runners (high school mostly) staffing them, and that the race field wasn’t that big – no crowding. Also, this race doesn’t really attract lots of people running in pairs or groups or people who don’t know water stop protocol – no one cut across in front of me, came to a dead stop or any of those other issues you might encounter at other races.


So why did I say this race was mentally tough? Because from very early on in the race, the first miles, it just felt hard and I kept thinking that I didn’t want to do it. I thought “what if I just stop, walk off the course, DNF”. I wanted to walk. I can’t remember feeling like that in a race before at the beginning, and certainly not as often as I did during this race. It was hard and the effort hurt physically of course (I checked in on myself periodically physically but nothing was “wrong” – no odd pain, no tummy upset, nothing like that) and I knew I’d already done 18 miles at my goal pace as part of a 22 miler, so I probably could do at least that – but I just wanted to stop. I don’t know if it was the hills or the gusty wind or being on my own, which I was for the whole race. Yes, there were people in front of me and behind me, but because of the field size, the roads (we ran on the shoulder a lot, single file in something no wider than a bike lane), it was basically a solo effort. I fought myself for the whole race.


I paced myself with my Garmin and sometimes used the clocks (every 2 miles). I’d check my Garmin at every mile split buzz, looking at instant/average pace and how many miles covered. I’d think “x miles till the next gel”. I also checked the Garmin every couple of songs. I don’t think I’ve ever kept that close of an eye on my pace before, and I know I wasn’t accounting properly for hills/wind, though I did try not to get freaked about instant pace, coming up with explanations when it was weird, like “there are trees” or “you just took a gel” but always coming back to “speed up, keep going”. (DH tells me average pace is a lagging indicator….great.) That said, though my splits aren’t even pace, I think they were as even an effort as I could manage. I “took” what I could get on the downhills and tried to stay steady on the uphills. Every single mile was marked on the road, which was helpful. I was within 0.1 of the course markings for most of the race, but by the end I was off by 0.24 – all of a sudden in the later miles it jumped. I tried to stay close to the road edge and run the corners as efficiently as possible. There were few enough people that I didn’t really have to go around anyone or spend lots of time weaving in the early miles (yay – people self-seeded well too), though when we were mostly single file, you did have to go around to pass.


The course is mostly double loop, which has the advantage of letting you “learn” the course for the second loop, if you’re alert enough to manage it and be able to make any adjustments (I wasn’t, forward was the only thing I cared about). The first time though it was hard as you’d see the “marathon mile 14” mark just before the “marathon mile 4” mark, and that went on for many miles, making me think every time “oh, I have to do this part again”. There was one fun thing I noticed the first time – where mile 20 was marked on the road, someone had painted or chalked a small red brick wall (helpfully labeled “the wall”) and a few stray bricks marked on the road past that point, as if you’d broken “the wall”. Strangely though, I looked for it the second time when it actually would be mile 20, and didn’t manage to see it.


I don’t remember enough details to give you a mile by mile recap, so here’s more of “how I ran the race”.


I watched people ahead of me a lot. I tried to keep people in sight who seemed to be doing the right pace. I watched lots of shoes as I spent a lot of time looking down at the road – especially while we were on the shoulder – for grates or pavement problems in road. I watched people’s gait and looked at their clothes and how they carried fuel or water.


I looked at the trees and water as much as I could tried to express gratitude for the beauty – the fall colors were quite nice. I tried to take snapshots with my mind. I tried in the beginning and at end to be grateful and express it out loud (quietly) for getting to the start trained and healthy, for all the people who helped and supported me. I had my music up loud, breathed and sang along some if I felt so moved. I tried some tricks I read about in Kristin Armstrong’s book, like Kristin’s coach Cassie saying  “up and over” before some hills. I’m not sure it helped, but it gave me something to do momentarily. I used Kristin’s tough race mantra of “just run to the end of your hat” and also told myself to just follow the shoes of a runner I picked in front of me.


In the late miles, I followed a small muscular young woman with a ponytail wearing a race shirt with Montrail and some Hagerstown trail race info on the back. No headphones (maybe half the people wore them), no hat or sunglasses, not carrying fuel or water. She came up in the 20s and I hung with her for a while then she sped up at maybe 23 or 24. She looked really strong and steady, just clipping away but she obviously was going fast. I kept thinking “stay with the Montrail chick” and marveling at her ability. And how easy it looked, wondering if someday I could do as well. I decided she was probably more of a trail runner, maybe ultras, so this race may have been easy for her (or just may have looked that way).


At some point, I thought of Richmond in 4 weeks and laughed at myself for thinking it could be anything other than a training run, and how am I going to do even that in 4 weeks, how crazy must I be?


I refused to let myself slow down or stop or walk. I just kept moving my legs, pushing hard no matter what I felt. I don’t know how I did it.


Thoughts along the way (italics are thoughts as if you were inside my head, scary!):
  • Get to 6, 6.2 then only 20 miles to go, a long run
  • I get stronger as I go longer
  • Just get to 10
  • Get to 12, toss one flask, you’ll be lighter
  • Just get to 13.1, then halfway done
  • Run to the next gel, just run to the next gel
  • Get to 16.2 then single digits left
  • Get to 20, then it’s just another hour even if you slow down, don’t slow down, what’s my pace, how slow can I go and still hit my goal, can’t slow down
  • Do NOT let the pace group catch you! (I repeated this to myself MANY times)


Somewhere in the late miles after 20, on the first loop you turned but the second time through you go straight. Not only was that clearly marked with a sign, there were spectators several people deep cheering and blocking the turn so you couldn’t mess it up. Appreciated that!
  • mile 23 – could maybe still hit goal with 10s, no, have to stay below 9, no, don’t slow down, less than half an hour
  • mile 24 – take last gel, toss flask…… OMG are you kidding me with this hill?! Come ON! This is just MEAN! (I said this out loud several times….too tired to muster up anger but got irritation/crabbiness and used it to push myself on)


I knew there was one more water stop at 25.2 (I had the water stop list on my treadmill during training). I decided to take a GU and settled on vanilla bean GU – least caffeine and I’m still new-ish to that in hard running – just in case it would in any way – even mentally – help me push to the line. I ripped open the pack, got a little more than half in my mouth, swallowed it and grabbed a cup for a mouthful or two of water. I’m glad I took it. We turned a corner – and I lost 2 GUs, they bounced out – to be met with a nasty uphill bridge, slanted sharply down toward the outside of the road, and open to traffic in both directions. We had to run to the right of the cones again, and on the slant, every time my left foot struck the ground, I felt the pain of that slant all the way up that leg.



Come ON where is the turn?


Had realized I’d have to run to almost 26.5 on Garmin. Realized we were running opposite way than I’d run shakeout (but glad I watched video as I had recognized things and glad I ran it so I knew road pavement conditions were not good). Turn L onto main st, L again, see another L to go, hear announcer, try to speed up (trying to finish fast and alone…see guy on my L but think I dropped him). I hear them say my first name, mangle last name but get closer on the second try. I’m try again get closer, sprinting as much as I can…I can see the clock and arch, raise arms where is mat?


I cross, stop my Garmin and make sure to save, then see the time on my Garmin. I put my gloved R hand to my mouth and break into OMG “I did it” tears and sobs.
Suddenly my legs stop working, lock up and I’m off balance. One volunteer cracks open a bottle of water and hands it to me. I’m still crying, can feel the tears running down my face. Someone tucks a mylar blanket around me. A female volunteer puts my medal on me and asks me if I’m ok. I tell her I beat my BQ, she excitedly hugs me. (these people understand what that means and how hard you worked to do it!) I’m still crying, ask her for Garmin help, she sends me toward the bag check & finish area.


The first tent I see is from the Marx Running store, they were at the expo. I recognize the founder/owner, Mark, and stop to ask for help with my Garmin, but he doesn’t know. I ask him again about the jacket I’d looked at the night of the expo. (I hadn’t wanted the colors they had and hadn’t wanted to jinx myself by buying it. The logo has “Bridge to Boston” on it, just like the medal, and I didn’t want to presume, kind of like not wearing the race shirt IN the race – he said I wasn’t the only one.) He says to call him, they’ll do whatever I want. I tell him I beat BQ by over 10 minutes and he grins, says “that’s FANTASTIC!” and gives me a huge hug. He then says they can even stitch “Boston Qualifier” and my time down the arm if I want.


I go stumbling along and see the girl from the portajohn line at the start who was running her first and trying to BQ (3:35). She had hard time with either hills or wind, got 3:38. I congratulate her on first and tell her she’s going to get BQ. See she’s got Garmin. Ask her for help and she is able to help me make sure I can see my results.


Everybody looks kind of dazed. I head to bag check. Nearby there’s a guy on ground with a girl rubbing his legs – he’s saying glad she’s there as he couldn’t possibly do it himself. I see two women bent over from cold & leg pain, speaking to each other in a foreign language. The nice XC kids quickly get me my bag, though I had to have one untie the strings. Everybody’s legs seem to fail in the same clumsy way, we’re all walking differently than other races I’ve been at. Maybe camber & turns in last miles? I take off the vest and visor (hey, conscious thought!) put on yellowman shirt (so glad I brought it), DH’s blue hoody, hat, illuminite jacket. Lean against pole to pull on wind pants, nearly fall over. Hard to make Ultragen – which requires opening a packet, putting it into an empty Hammer water bottle, adding water, putting the top on and shaking – but manage. I start drinking it.


Looking for trash bin, see a computer setup. You can check your results already! Absolutely fabulous setup, so cool. Shows you splits on a screen, you can compare yourself to women/men/everyone (shows bar chart by time). And if you’ve got someone with a camera (I don’t) you can get your finish time on a digital clock next to the setup and get your picture taken.


I walked past the medical tent through the finish food area – there was nothing for me due to dietary restrictions (and I wasn’t expecting there to be), but they had:
  • bottled water
  • bananas too green to eat for me (why is that always the case)
  • a selection of PowerBar Crunch items
  • homemade PB&J sandwiches in big boxes – this choked me up thinking of the volunteers making them for us all, wish I could have had one
  • homemade minestrone soup
  • homemade chicken noodle soup
My stomach handled the Ultragen fine, lurched a bit while drinking but finished it. I walked back to hotel very slowly, thinking about the race and tearing up along the way. As hard as it had been to believe it was coming, then here (that detached feeling), it was now hard to believe it was over, and that I’d achieved my goal of a faster BQ and a new PR. My brain kept making me repeat “that was SO.HARD.” out loud even to myself. I got back to the hotel and went into the bathroom to start cleaning up, saw myself in the mirror and burst into tears, saying “I did it” while smiling (grimacing?) and sobbing at the same time.


Even now, 2.5 days after, it’s hard to process and I’m not as coherent as I’d like putting this together. I think some of that is the fatigue hitting me now that I’m home and not having to care for myself on travel or be around other people much. The mental stress of training and getting myself through travel and then clamping down to get through the race is something I probably underestimated post-Shamrock (and even after the Heartbreak Hill Half), so while it’s unpleasant, it’s less of a surprise. The lack of sleep over the last few weeks and the physical effort of the day are also catching up with me, I’m sure. I’d say I’m surprisingly not too sore – parts of me might disagree depending on what I’m doing – but I had no problem negotiating stairs immediately post-race and I can feel things improving. The underlying fatigue is really the thing, and not doing a run before I’ve recovered more. (planning a short run Saturday, some folks in town I can’t miss seeing)


More thoughts about the race:
  • So many beautiful trees and leaves along the course. Fall is so beautiful in New England. I’m so glad I got to see it.
  • There were many great views of the water – you run with the Merrimack River on your right for a lot of the course. I have some postcard-level pictures in my head, I tried to burn in the views but am not sure how much stuck.
  • There was a waterfall/dam thing on the river near the end. It was loud and I tried to pretend the rushing water was pushing me on.
  • The dreaded wind gusts did happen. They were not insignificant, but mostly short, under a minute. They blew leaves across the road and once in a while tugged at my visor. It wasn’t every mile or all wind like Fort Story at Shamrock. The sun came out after 10am and then the wind sometimes felt good. I thought about taking off my arm warmers and gloves but decided not to because of the wind and some shaded portions. I will say when the wind and the hills combined, that was a bigger challenge.

I reminded myself at the start and multiple times during the race how lucky I was be able to do this, and to have gotten to the start line trained and healthy. It was a lot of work on my part, yes, but I also have a great team in my super chiro and great massage therapists.

Though I ran the race alone, I knew there were so many people thinking of me and rooting for me. Thank you all so much! My brain didn’t work well enough during the race to go through the list I’d made the night before (more names than miles!) but I know your energy helped, and I tried to send some to those of you I knew were running your own race on Sunday.

I also wouldn’t have gotten to the start line without the amazing, unfailing support of my DH for the last months and years. It can’t be easy being tethered – by choice yet! he’s a little nuts, yes? – to someone who’s as obsessed with running and my goals (as well as nutrition, schedules, routine,  and all my other quirks, neuroses, etc.) as I am. Words are inadequate to express how lucky and grateful I am.

Training Recap – Wk of Oct. 13, 2014

Here’s last week’s training recap. Second – and last – week of peaking for Baystate! Race recap to come.


  • Looking for peaking/taper tips and info? Check out this post from last week. Hang in there!
  • If you are interested in the “peaking” approach to the taper that I’ve discussed or want some advice on getting through the last 2 or so weeks before your marathon, you might also want to read Greg McMillan‘s short new e-book Surviving the Marathon Freak-Out.

Run 15.3 miles not including race

  • T – 7mi Stomach pain overnight, awake 330-530 ugh. Spiky heartburn lately too. Digestion way off. Plan was cruise intervals. Nailed it. 2mi warmup then 5x(0.65 at 50s faster than MGP, 0.12jog) cooldown. Used 2 servings EFS gel, some before each interval. Not easy. 1st 3 PG then got harder. Glutes, feet, shins. Misc pains in L arch/PTT, glutes, hams.
  • W – Was supposed to be an easy run, didn’t run – took my own advice: “when in doubt, do less”. Slept in chair till 3am. Then fell asleep dreaming I was having a hard time falling asleep. Tired, needed more sleep. Walked 30min.  Decided to telework due to impending rain and a draft to review.
  • Th – 6 miles. Slept in chair till 2am, woke for pills at 4, woke at 5, woke after 8am (!!) due to workmen down the street. Obviously was in desperate need of sleep. So glad I took today off work! Had first race nightmare – being off course and creepy police officers (zombie-like) who wouldn’t help me because they wanted burgers. Yeah, I actually can figure out where some of that came from, but bizarre how your mind splices things together. Plan was leg speed (did this workout Th before Shamrock, 12 reps). Nailed it. 3mi warmup increasing pace, then 12x (25s on at 1:07 faster than MGP, 1min recovery) then cooldown. On 1st one L ham complained, then improved some. Shins bugged me. Took 1 serving of EFS gel mixed with water before and during intervals. Ammonia smell after may suggest I needed more.
  • Sat – 2.3mi shakeout run to/from the start/finish area of race. Finished with some strides in the parking lot. First mile legs felt good and fresh, then L ham and hip started to act up. L hip bugged me all day, R tight too. Think hotel bed is too soft. Warmed up before run with 15 min walk on hotel treadmill and my drills in the fitness center. The mirrors there confirm what I knew – definitely need some strength/form work on my backward lunges. Always things to improve!
  • Sun – race

Bike: 1h Monday, 37min Friday
Core: M/W/F AM 
Wharton flex: 5 (forgot Friday with travel & food issues, realized on T 10/21 I did absolutely no stretching at all Sunday post-race!)
Chiro exercises: Ohnos Th, light
Coach Jay GSM routine: Most of hard day routine T, a couple moves plus Myrtls on Th, Myrtl after run Sat.
Calf stretches: 7x 
Walk: pre-run 15 min warmups
Drills: before every run – lunge matrix, high knees, skips, butt kicks, butt kicks moving in reverse, karaoke, front & lateral leg swings
Other: Chiro Tues
Nutrition: Very up and down. Backed off the beets due to some GI issues I couldn’t nail down. Tried to control myself & eat normally at least until Friday’s day of travel. Pleased with my ability to be flexible and controlled while on travel, worked out well!
Life/work stress: Wasn’t super useful at work but got enough done. Still felt odd about race. Sis suggested it’s just a different experience this time and roll with it. She’s likely right, as usual. Hard to wrap head around even as I’m typing this in the hotel Sat night before race. Am getting a little nervous but mostly trying not to think about race.

Still thinking ahead to what comes after Baystate. I may ask the son of the office manager at my chiro to help me with treadmill/boards sooner rather than later – avoid asking DH to do it and affecting his running.

I also need to decide whether I’ll go back to gluten-free grain (and possibly goat cheese!) for a while to see if I note a performance improvement. (and if so, when) It’s an experiment I’m leery of, because I did well last year and at Shamrock with the paleo-ish non-grain diet.

Part of my re-thinking my food options is being tired of so many dietary restrictions affecting my life and DH’s. Some are imposed on me by conditions/pain but some are chosen and I’d start with those. Another part of is coming from wondering if I’m fueling the best I can for performance and recovery, and yet another part of it is trying to think about Boston and the ultra, logistics and making things work and be easier. Both those races start much later than I’m used to, which seems to indicate that not only do I need to train later in the morning to adapt, I need to figure out what to eat before the race. I don’t think not eating will cut it for a 10am or noon start, and to find something that will work for a race means trial and error, repeatedly in training. It seems something like gluten-free bagels, or hot cereal, works for a lot of people and that is something I could try if I went back to grain. I feel like a sweet potato might sit too heavily in my stomach to then run on, especially if I’m trying for a particular pace.

Hope you’re having a great week!

Friday Five – 5 Favorite Fitness Tunes

Welcome to the Friday Five Linkup, hosted by my blog buds/local tweeps

Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!,
Courtney at EatPrayRunDC and
Mar at Mar on the Run.
Make sure to stop by their blogs for their picks and hop along to the other bloggers in the linkup, featured at the bottom of their pages!

This week’s theme is: 5 favorite fitness tunes. Flashback to old playlists, new race playlists….Too bad podcasts don’t count!

I train with podcasts but race to music (though I’m thinking of running Richmond with podcasts to keep it as a training run in my mind). My trusty shuffles are below (the blue is older, and smaller – the yellow I got for Shamrock and it’s now my “race” shuffle whereas I currently tend to train with the blue one).

my iPod shuffles

my iPod shuffles

Over time, my taste in music hasn’t changed too much, which is why there are a lot of older songs on my playlists. The selection certainly dates me a bit! Some are from when I was running at a slower pace than what I go for now.

I had to add a lot of songs for Shamrock, trying to keep closer to 180bpm – also figured out that I can tolerate some dance/electronic music and that some of what people think is 180bpm really isn’t. I won’t listen to rap, hip hop, or songs with misogynistic/violent/depressing lyrics, which narrows the set of fast songs with a strong beat quite a bit. I can’t just block out the lyrics (though I don’t remember hearing some of the songs at Baystate!) so I make sure the lyrics are mostly words I’m okay with my brain hearing during training/racing.

I’m adding a Taiko drum piece to my Baystate list, should be interesting. (Richmond has a taiko drummer early on – wish they’d move them later in the race), and I think Big Sur does too. I heard Lucho on Endurance Planet talking about using taiko music to get into kind of a meditative state when he runs, which sounded helpful. I was also thinking about a Native American drum piece but haven’t found one yet I wanted to try.

The list below – in no particular order – is a mix of old and new, favorites for different reasons (some for lyrics, some mostly for the music, some for both). Yes, there are more than 5, bonus for you. Some I’ll be running with on Sunday at Baystate, some are just songs that make me smile when I think of training to them. Enjoy!

  • Best Day of My Life – American Authors
  • Unwritten – Natasha Bedingfield (a good one for very early in the race playlist as it’s slower and reminds you things are possible)
  • The Middle – Jimmy Eat World
  • Wild Wild West – The Escape Club If you recall, I played this song a LOT during Shamrock. When I start it up now, I immediately am taken back to those miles and the picture in my head.
  • Never Gonna Stop – Rob Zombie Thanks to UltraRunnerPodcast for this one (it’s their theme song).
  • Synchronicity I – Police H/T to DH for this one, good pace.
  • Raise Your Glass and Get This Party Started – Pink The first one because it was re-made (so to speak) for a conference I have fond memories of, and the second because it’s just such a great “let’s go” song.
  • Don’t Look Back – Boston
  • Beautiful Day – the original from U2, though I’ve added a remixed version rec’d by Deena Kastor to my playlist and like it pretty well too. 
  • Footloose – yep, the Kenny Loggins 80s movie theme
  • Thunderstruck – AC/DC
  • We Will Rock You – Queen
  • Head Over Heels – the GoGos
  • Single Ladies (my only Beyonce song) Great beat and peppy, easy-to-sing lyrics.
  • A 30 second or so clip from the Marathon Talk opening theme is placed at multiple points through my playlist (unfortunately, the clip includes the word “talk” which is a bit jarring but oh well). Don’t know where they got it, but since I listen to their podcast first (and only) on my long run, the music kicks my brain into “we’re running long now” mode. This is similar to using the Ultrarunnerpodcast theme, but more than once. I’ll be a week behind on their podcasts after race weekend (and it looks like a good one), possibly 2 since I won’t be running much in the first week post-race. That means I’ll get backed up on other podcasts too. Just have to run more to catch up, I guess.

What are your 5 favorite running or fitness tunes?

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Our first Halloween decorations are up!



Peeps pumpkin candy on plate

Happy October!