Tag: Boston

My First Boston Marathon – Recovery, Week 1-ish

Wednesday

Up early in Boston to walk Newbury Street a bit and get one last coffee from a place DH found and we both liked. Then breakfast in the hotel room and farewell to the place that was home base for us. It served us well.

We had an 11:30 flight and due to our protective scheduling and less traffic/travelers than anticipated, had plenty of time to kill in the airport.

Arrived home early enough to get inside before a rain storm blew through. DH even had time to mow the lawn before going for his run. I went to the grocery store and started washing running gear (priorities). Discovered that sitting in a cab, in an airport, and on the plane activated soreness in some areas (glutes especially) that really hadn’t been sore. I guess the solution is to keep moving.

In the evening, we got Thai takeout, trying a new place that we’ll definitely get food from again. We had yummy pad Thai, chicken satay and fresh spring rolls along with peanut sauce I can’t get enough of. We watched a little taped TV and back to regular snacking/reading. A bit of thrash for me as I’m pretty much out of running books to read (don’t find the magazines as relaxing in the evening) and still nothing else appeals.

DH went back to work Th and F, and I am glad I took the rest of the week off! I certainly could have returned to work – especially Thursday which is usually a telework day, but will take the extra time away.

Thursday

Slept 9:30-6ish (waking every 90 min), got up around 630. Puttered, started laundry. Around 8, walked at a stroll pace on treadmill for 40 minutes. Then breakfast and reading online. Stiffer than I have been, maybe due to travel and being in bed so long.

I feel TIRED and brain is not working. Think I’m still way down on sleep, and my allergies may be kicking in again as so much is in bloom here. I notice my reaction time, memory, attention span, and ability to perform tasks is off. Wasn’t my usual self driving. Super distractable.

Went to chiro – he was so happy for me! We talked about the race, but early in the appointment, he said – “1 year minus 3 days till next year, let’s get started!” Gotta love him. They put a congratulations sign on the front door and I walked right past it….the office manager told me to go out and back in again, and then I saw it. They were so pleased for me and proud of me. It was just lovely. Apparently my chiro had been tracking me and sent me a text when I finished, but sent it to the wrong number. I was so tired I almost fell asleep face down on the chiro table!

I ran an errand, went to Whole Foods and Mom’s Market. I know better, but let myself get dehydrated and hungry. That only added to fatigue. Eating and drinking not helping so much, really felt like I could nap mid afternoon but I didn’t. Didn’t get much done. My afternoon massage was cancelled as my therapist had some sort of cold/allergies and we decided I shouldn’t risk picking up a bug.

I’m becoming aware of heavier fatigue and a more “down” mood.

I don’t want my first Boston Marathon to be over…I’m missing the preparation, the focus, the anticipation. But I know I need a break after the last year or so, and I’ll be trying to take one, of sorts, for the rest of April and most of May. Easy running, some swimming and cycling and walking, as much sleep as I can get. Figure out the exercises I need to add (my gait analysis in late May and my chiro will help with this, as will Meb’s book, Coach Jay’s routines and Magill’s book)

Friday

Slept 10ish to midnight in the chair, then upstairs. Woke 3a, 4a, 6:20 (with the sun).

Looked like a beautiful morning (for a run – 40 degrees and sun rising though breezy) so I decided to walk to Starbucks and back rather than walking on tmill. That’s about 1.25mi round trip with an extra block or two thrown in. It was beautiful – saw and smelled lilacs in bloom.

lilacs

lilacs

On the way there, my stomach started being unhappy, so I decided not to get anything and walked back home enjoying the sunlight shimmering through the green leaves as they fluttered in the wind.

sunlight through leaves

sunlight through leaves

Of course I was comparing the walk and the view to DH & I walking on Newbury Street to the cute coffee shop, and it was coming up a bit short.

On the way back, I felt a little sad and isolated – it occurred to me that was one of the fantastic things about the Boston Marathon weekend was that the community of runners came together. You could walk up to anyone who kind of looked like they might be running and ask “have you done the race before?” (tell them it’s your first and you’ll get useful info and stories) and launch a conversation about all things running. It really felt like a community and I think I miss that. Of course nothing else will be like that weekend – especially the first time, though I imagine it can actually get more magical as you do more of them – but the conversations on the shakeout runs must be something like you get with a running group, and perhaps those even get deeper as you share experiences and build friendships.

My seat mate on the bus was telling me about her group with her local Running Room store (apparently there are a LOT of them in Canada and they all have groups) and how at the famous Around the Bay race in Hamilton (older than Boston and reputed to be a great race and great prep for Boston). Her group probably had 40 people in the race so when you finished in this stadium, you’d get changed and grab coffee and then come back out to the stands to cheer your friends in. I want to do that race, but I’m not sure if next year will be the year or not, as I have so little experience with racing in a training buildup and it’s a hike (and plane ride) so close to Boston.

I’m not sure if it’s allergies (my eyes feel puffy) or fatigue, but by 8am I feel like I could nap. Had breakfast, messed around online. I got myself to pool for “swim” at 11am, go me! (more time in transit than in the water, and some willpower to make it happen at all). Sport-specific fitness is truth, especially 4 days after a marathon. We’ll call what I did “intervals” to account for the times I was hanging onto the wall waiting for my HR to recover.

Spent some more time online and did more laundry. Eventually I took myself to the porch and worked on my race recap. It was quite chilly and almost blustery, but I wanted to be outside in the sun so I bundled up and made tea, and was out there till DH came home with our Friday Chinese takeout. Did my Whartons for the first time since the race. As usual, we watched a couple of TV shows and called it a night pretty early.

Saturday

Slept in, woke 610 but didn’t get up until 7. After much puttering and iPod fiddling, walked 1.35mi as a warmup, mostly at 0% as my L ham didn’t seem to like 1%. Ran 2 recovery miles. Went between 0% & 1% mostly at 1%. Quads sore! First time since race & only on run. Both at start, R got better after 1st mi, L got worse, sharper, so stopped. (now hurts when squatting, stairs) Glutes sore, all & mins. Hips tight. All else as ok as expected, calves little tight, feet little sore esp outer L bottom. ARGH. May just walk tomorrow as that doesn’t seem to bother it. People say they take 2 weeks off running (elite and non). Maybe I should. Crazy-making, but I’ve got to get this next month of recovery and return to running right to set myself up well for Baystate in Oct (and Beach to Beacon in August) and Boston in April. Don’t want to repeat the mistakes I did around my triple. So, will be trying to control the crazy with walking, biking and swimming. Maybe elliptical/arc at gym but suspect quad won’t love that. Poor DH – he’s racing tomorrow and next Sunday while living with me who’s not running and trying to control calories.

Spent a good bit of time finishing and posting my race recap and working on other Boston-related posts. Read the March Runners’ World while I had some toast and green tea. Dinner – going with Chinese steamed chicken and veg leftovers instead of the incredibly yummy pad Thai, chicken satay, and rolls we had Wed night. If I’m going to eat any potato chips or GF cookies this weekend, have to cut back somewhere. (seems so unfair)

Saturday night, a couple TV shows and an early night. DH is racing in the morning, and I’ll…..walk I guess or maybe bike.

Sunday

Wow. It’s already almost a week ago?! That just seems wrong somehow. I’m still not ready for it to be over.

Apparently my body has decided that sleeping in=sunrise. Ah well. Went to the pool, got in 1 hour pool run – just suit, no wetsuit! – listening to the remainder of the Marathon Talk ep with Yuki Kawauchi (started Sat) and part of the Another Mother Runner ep where Bethany debriefs her Boston Marathon. I wanted to do 90 minutes and finish the podcast, but they started pulling over lane markers for kids’ swim lessons, and I was getting colder and thought I shouldn’t push it. Probably good, as when I climbed out my left calf threatened a cramp and both calves felt like they were twitching. (calf cramps tend to happen for me when I have been off pool running for a while) The middle “meat” part of both glutes feels pretty sore too. Not sure if my massage will address that or if trigger point will need to. I can still feel my L quad strangeness, trying not to panic and just give it time as it seems a bit better than yesterday.

Filled the car with gas and stopped by the grocery store for more produce on the way home. I’m consuming asparagus, sugar snap peas, romaine, mushrooms and strawberries at quite a rate these days. Got some more Brussels sprouts too, even though I roasted a bunch for work yesterday. Breakfast of egg whites and artichoke hearts, cinnamon raisin toast and some coco bread toast. Finished up the podcast while doing food prep for the week and supplements.

Then headed out to the porch – such a gorgeous day, though a bit chilly yet. Working on posts and trying to catch up on blog reading. So much blog/magazine/etc running reading to do. Due to massage, my normal mid afternoon time slot will be taken, and afterward will need to shower before dinner.

In terms of my recovery protocol, I have gotten in a swim and a pool run, some walks and a short run. I haven’t yet done any core or strength work. I haven’t done rolling, icing or yoga. I have started doing Whartons again. Overall I’d grade myself low on recovery except for the first day after Boston. I know what to do, I just didn’t do it. Maybe the rest is doing me good? Yeah, lets go with that.

Monday 

Back to work. As my sis says “re-entry is hard”. 25 min bike in the AM. Glute mins hated standing, sitting, just kinda hated everything. Took a walk to the library before dinner, then Whartons. Worked on getting the Tuesday blog post done – lots of photo editing, kept me online way too late.

Tuesday

I chose not to run today, figuring I’d give my quad, which has been improving – knock wood the tweak may be gone – more time and telling myself that there is NO downside to taking a few more non-running days. None. NONE. (the loudness is for me, not for you) The rest will do my body good, and it’s not like I’ve got a race soon or even the start of training. So, I walked 5.25 miles this morning on my treadmill. My quads didn’t complain, but my hammies did. They also haven’t liked me sitting as much as I have been now that I’m back to work – even with a standing desk, I sit for some meetings, to eat lunch and sometimes to read documents.

Saw my chiro, who stretched my quads (saying the right was tighter than the left which I’d tweaked), e-stimmed and Graston’d them. He said my hams were probably getting more use because my quads were tight (in addition to my known gotta-get-em-stronger ham issues). He was quite amused at me wanting a gold star for stopping my run Saturday and not having run since then. He enjoys teasing me.

Week 2 is proving to be an interesting challenge as I REALLY want to start running again, even short runs, BUT I want to be overly cautious and set myself up well for returning to running and starting training again. I do NOT want to dig myself into a hole like I did last year. I may still be digging out of that hole, in fact. After each of my marathons last year, I got in 15 miles by the end of the following week and was up over 20 the next week. That doesn’t look like it will happen this time. I need to be ok with that.

I’m also finding I’m still easily distractible, a bit moody, having a hard time staying focused and mentally processing when doing even easy things (car keys? oh, they’re on the passenger seat, that’s helpful when I’m trying to drive) and not doing much productive like finishing putting away things from the trip, cleaning or other such required tasks. I’m only moderately useful at work, and the effort required to stay on task is high.

Right now I’m thinking I’ll bike or walk Wednesday instead of run. Saturday I plan to run; whether I run will Thursday or not I don’t know. It’s a different kind of challenge to see if I can make it all the way to Saturday without losing it – or making DH or others too crazy. The pool times don’t work well around my work schedule, so a pool run is unlikely.

Fortunately – or unfortunately (allergies, desire to run) – we’re having good weather if a bit warm. That means a walk to the library, a nearby store, or a lunchtime stroll are possibilities.

Rest and recovery is the priority this month, and staying as active as I can to maintain as much fitness as I can. Eating well but not too much is important (and not easy!). I’m working on getting as much sleep as I can and trying to head toward a routine that gets me to bed even earlier since my “get up” time is fairly fixed due to work. This isn’t easy as there’ll be very little time when I get home to do anything (including spend evenings online), and trying to get to sleep as the evening is light later will be challenging. The schedule may mean not eating dinner or eating a smoothie or soup or something very light.

My gait analysis is May 20th. My training for Baystate will start around Memorial Day (that’s the plan anyway) with a 4 week hill module, 4 week speed module, and 12 week marathon-specific training. I have many tweaks I want to make to my training, and things that need to be caught up on around the house, appointments, etc. (oh, and work) So I have training to plan and things to do to keep me occupied, but I really want to be running!

You know what I mean, don’t you? I thought you would.

Share your best recovery tips for the weeks post-marathon, especially how you stay sane and don’t gain too much weight. I need ideas!

 



My First Boston Marathon – The Day After

Let’s start with the night of race Monday…..after Ultragen and some hot decaf tea, realized we needed to get something to eat, for DH if not for me. Having scoped out safe restaurants and locations, we knew our options. Checked into a delivery service, but as all the restaurants were close to the race, some had eliminated delivery on race day.

So, DH and I walked – in the colder worse rain – to Five Guys and back for dinner around 6pm. It probably did my legs good. We were able to walk inside for all but a couple of blocks. Those couple of blocks were pretty unpleasant – dark, cold, very wet and very windy. I hoped Dave McGillivray was done! (Little did I know this impressive gentleman would be out on the course still moving toward his 20 hour finish.) After that, we just hung out in the hotel room. I snacked some because we had stuff and was pretending I needed to eat, but not hungry. I tired but so wired from the race or gels or both that I was online past 10:30, up past midnight.

I slept ok thanks to Benadryl and other sleep aids. I was able to make it to the bathroom multiple times (DH stayed on me about post-race hydration) without cursing or running into things or needing to hold on to anything. Woo hoo! Woke up a number of times, finally around 7 am, so not nearly enough sleep.

I want to share this lovely decoration DH bought for me Friday  – I added my own touch of decor Monday afternoon!

yellow roses & medal

yellow roses & medal

Stuff that hurt/was sore the morning after – less than I’d expected! (maybe the extra walk in the cold rain helped) The usual: hips are a little tight, upper hams at attachment just a bit (way less than normal thanks to sleeves), calves tight or knotted. Upper arms, even sore to the touch (happens to me after races). The new: a little above knees – thought it was only R, but it’s actually both (that makes me feel better that it was related to course/effort rather than a potential injury) probably tight VMOs. I should have iced/stretched, but didn’t. However, they improved over the next day or two. And, I knew my chiro appointment Thursday would address any issues. Overall, feeling pretty good – thanks to the sleeves, the cold and my slower pace, I imagine. Can’t really take much credit.

DH went out for a run and I went for a 1/4 mi swim in hotel’s saline pool. My first time in a saline pool, I liked it. I was tired by the end.

Whether because of swim or something else, the food we have in the room suddenly seemed appealing. Last night I ate because I needed to, and though things were tasty, I didn’t enjoy it that much and my stomach was still off. Not queasy, just very cranky when I ate.

I brewed tea while I took my first post-race shower. No chafing issues, no needing to hold on to anything, no real pain. Score!

I ate my breakfast of bacon, turkey on gluten free bread, asparagus, fresh berries and mango and some tasty gluten-free coffeecake. DH brought me a decaf Americano. I controlled myself but still ate quite a bit. I was hoping it would hold me over to our planned very early dinner.

Then, it was off to Newbury and Boylston streets to shop! We first went down Boylston, stopping at Marathon Sports and the Adidas RunBase. We took a few photos of the finish line area and decorations. We walked down to Mass Ave and then headed back on Newbury. We hit the Asics store as I’d seen some cute items there while at the fun run. They happened to be having a sale, so I added to my collection of running gear.

While out and about, got this photo of one of my favorite intersections

Hereford & Boylston

Hereford & Boylston

Below are photos from the very cool RunBase. If you’re in town, it’s worth a quick trip. They packed a lot of info into a small space that also contains an Adidas shop. The course profile sculpture (for lack of a better term) with additional information scrolling on it and graphics is really neat. They have interactive video display screens too. I asked them to please put the course video you can watch on a DVD and sell it – would be something many of us would buy, I think. (right? feel free to tweet them about it, maybe we’ll get it in time to train over the winter)

IMG_0763

Adidas RunBase window

Adidas RunBase window

unicorn in RunBase window

unicorn in RunBase window

why the unicorn

why the unicorn

The super cool course profile sculpture in panorama

course profile in panorama

course profile in panorama

sculpture snippet 1

sculpture snippet 1

sculpture snippet 2

sculpture snippet 2

Bobbi Gibb quote

Roberta Gibb quote on course profile sculpture

Each town the race passes through has a blue placard on one side of the sculpture that has a symbol, the distance the race spends in the town, and a bit more info.

sculpture with some town placards

sculpture with some of the town placards

Here are quick photos I snapped (it was crowded and I didn’t want to be in someone’s way, though people were very friendly).

IMG_0772 IMG_0773 IMG_0774 IMG_0775 IMG_0776 IMG_0777

Hopkinton

While we were out, we looked high and low for the Boston Globe, since in the past they’ve printed a special section listing every finisher and I’d been looking forward to that. Couldn’t find it. According to the very knowledgeable woman in the hotel gift shop – who was a bit beside herself about it – 2015 is the first time in 100 years (aside from 2013) that the Globe didn’t print the section, and they didn’t tell anyone ahead of time. She said the Kenyan delegation had come over from the Fairmont Copley looking for papers thinking the ones there were just missing the section. I was quite displeased with this decision, and I bet I’m not the only one. (goodness knows the gift shop clerk was, on all our behalf!) I bought the paper to read the coverage anyway, but imagine my disappointment if I’d been leaving town Tuesday morning, grabbing multiple papers at the airport thinking I’d be in them and planning to give them to people, and then finding out once I got home that there wasn’t one.

The “people’s Olympics” deserves its own special section, even if they put it in a commemorative edition and charge more. I’d surely pay for one – especially for this my first year – and I think others would too. Tell the Boston Globe via twitter, email or phone to bring back the section next year!

While on the hunt, saw this banner

Meb - There's Only One banner

There’s Only One banner

We went back to the hotel for a break, then headed back out. We went back over to Newbury to a cute coffeeshop that made me a decaf AeroPress Americano (!) and decided we wanted to go find the Make Way for Ducklings at Boston Common. Sadly, their race bibs were already gone, I was hoping for a picture. We then rode the carousel there (carousels are a thing for us). We made our way back to the hotel again, strolling on Commonwealth. I did a little bit of sorting and packing while we discussed dinner options.

We went out for dinner around 5 to a nearby dosa restaurant – I’d never had dosas and thought it would be cool. It was – they were huge and tasty. The manager was very helpful in keeping me advised of the gluten free options, of which there were many. I’d definitely eat there again or eat dosas elsewhere. I only wish I’d had room for their kheer, a favorite of mine.

Our dosas – mine was chicken tikka (near), DH had roasted eggplant (far).

our dosas

our dosas

The inside of mine

chicken tikka dosa

chicken tikka dosa

“Carrot cake” dosa for dessert- dosa filled with carrot halwa, drizzled with honey – outside and in.

carrot cake dosa outside

carrot cake dosa outside

carrot cake dosa inside

carrot cake dosa inside

We were so full we decided to walk for a while longer after dinner, headed over to the path by the Charles River, just like the fun runs did.

Welcome Runners sign on Charles River Esplanade

Welcome Runners sign on Charles River Esplanade

by the Charles River

runners by the Charles River

I was surprisingly fine with all the walking, I think I was actually more comfortable strolling than sitting, and it was probably good for me. My iPhone app clocked about 6 miles on Tuesday!

Then back to the hotel so I could do some packing and call my sister. She’d been unable to make it into Boston while we were there – she was under the weather and didn’t want to share germs with me, much appreciated. After packing and chatting, decided it was time to try to relax as pre-trip stress was kicking in. Snacked and read, and tried to get to sleep early, avoiding thinking of leaving Boston and that this wonderful experience was about to be over for this year.

Next post, the trip home and recovery week 1!



My First Boston Marathon – Weekend Events

This post is about my Boston Marathon weekend, one week ago. Tara is graciously letting me put it up late, with today’s Weekend Update linkup.

FRIDAY

Despite a 2 hour delay that kept me from getting to the expo on Friday, it turned out to be a magical day.

I think we got to our hotel room between 3 and 3:30, which meant I had time to unpack clothes for the fun run and the evening Meb talk and put out some things I’d want at bedtime. Nice view!

fantastic view from hotel

fantastic view from hotel

I changed clothes, swallowed some applesauce and started making my way to the Asics store on Newbury Street for a fun run with Deena Kastor (one of my 3 main role models/inspirations) and one of my all-time favorite guys, Bart Yasso. (together!!)

I got a hug from Bart and from Liz Comeau, editor of RWZelle, such a cool chick – and a picture with Deena. Here’s Deena and Bart:

Deena and Bart!

Deena and Bart!

Then we all set off down Mass Ave to the Charles River path. We got stopped at a number of lights, but at one of them, a BPD car turned on its lights so we could cross against the signal. Boston loves runners!

As if it wasn’t cool enough to be anywhere near these folks, I actually got to run next to and talk with Deena and Bart, and hear some of their conversations with others. Let me just say that again – I got to run next to and talk with Deena Kastor!! We talked about twitter, social media, group runs and her Mammoth Track Club. Deena seems exactly like she’d be from everything you’ve read/watched over the years – nice, funny, warm, welcoming and supportive, enthusiastic and in love with running and runners. I heard she’ll have a book out perhaps next year (not sure if it’s her memoir – please! – or a cookbook (also good). Of course I was trying to watch her form, but I imagine it was a bit different given how much slower than normal she’d be running….that said, it was the fastest Bart shakeout run I’ve been on!

I listened to Deena talking to other runners as much as I could. She said that all marathons hurt, they just hurt differently, and course-specific training is really helpful. (comforting to hear elites say they hurt – just because it looks easy…) She was giving one man course tips on Chicago and he said he’d watched Spirit of the Marathon and loved it. I ran and talked with him about the movie, which I watch the night before a marathon to get inspiration from Deena. I also ran into him at the Meb event in the evening, sat in the row with him. He happened to have gotten a picture of me at the fun run which he kindly shared with me. Pretty great coincidence! I ran for the last bit with another man who gave me tips on Boston and chatted about other races.

I was pretty blissed out, but couldn’t stay for the fruit/veggie/bagel spread and chatting at the store as I had to get back to the hotel and get cleaned up to head over to Old South Church to hear Meb (another of my role models/inspirations) talk about his running and his new book (which I’d already read a couple of times – but we got additional copies, pre-signed, for attending!). I took my Asics swag bag – a nice collection of stuff, and hustled.

The Meb event, moderated by David Willey of Runners’ World (who is a great speaker and moderator) was terrific. Meb was front and center, and joined by Amby Burfoot of RW (1968 Boston Marathon winner, also roommate of/trained with Bill Rodgers), Mary Wittenberg of NYRR (impressive RD!), and Scott Douglas, who co-wrote Meb for Mortals. Left to right: Willey, Wittenberg, Meb, Burfoot (Douglas is obscured).

Meb at Old South Church

Meb at Old South Church

Meb

Meb

Meb’s wife Yordanos and their three daughters, and Meb’s parents were in the pew one over and one back from us. (I think his dad must be a hoot, he stood up to cheer for Meb at one point.) It was briefly odd to see them all, and Meb’s brother/agent Hawi, when I’ve seen so many pictures of them. Kind of unreal. Meb was candid and humble, gracious and open and genuine – and funny. He was touched that Deena Kastor showed up to the event (they trained together in Mammoth). He takes appropriate credit for his hard work and diligence but cites so many people as his inspirations – his parents, the bombing victims and survivors, his coach and other legendary figures in running, and even us regular runners. Again, he seems to truly be everything you’d imagine from everything you’ve read or seen.

I think that’s one of the reasons I really look up to and try to learn from/emulate Deena and Meb. They’re incredible athletes – champions in so many ways and runners who’ve made comebacks to compete again at the highest levels – but they also seem to be incredible people. They really make you feel like you’re part of the same community of runners they’re in, and that they respect you for your efforts. They work very very hard to be the best they can be – both talk about getting the best out of yourself every day. They also find ways to give to and inspire others, and to support the running community and the communities where they live. Their character and how they live their lives – with joy and passion, with dedication and balance, with accomplishment and service, with continuous goal-setting and perspective – is something I hope I can do with my life and my time and energy. Every time I think of them, I’m inspired to try again, try harder, do more. I’m so grateful and lucky that I had opportunities to get a little bit closer to them this weekend.

SATURDAY

I wanted to get to the expo when it opened at 9 to get my bib and jacket and look for quad sleeves before the Meb/Greg McMillan Generation UCAN event at 10:30. I was a bit daunted at the long line outside the building, but as soon as the doors opened, it moved really quickly.

As you might imagine, I had some moments of tears at bib pickup. I wasn’t shy about telling the volunteer it was my first Boston, which of course got me congratulations. I found someone to take a photo of me and my bib at pickup. I then headed into the expo to get quad sleeves (so glad I did) and my jacket – the essentials. I also got two copies the poster that has every entrant’s name on it. Mine made it home safely, but I’ve yet to unroll it and search for my name – not sure my magnifying glass is strong enough. May want to get it framed.

As you enter the expo, there’s a wall covered with graphics and space to write messages. I had to stop and write a message of my own, one I hoped would inspire others. I think the guy said they keep it, but I can’t imagine where they’d put it! (think it’s a John Hancock thing) I headed straight for Adidas – which is the first thing you see anyway – to get my jacket, which I tried on very quickly to avoid bad karma. I also picked up a blue/yellow shirt and a backpack (which I highly recommend). I didn’t love the china mug but kind of wish now I had gotten it anyway.

Would have loved to stay, but I headed back to the Lenox Hotel to hear Meb speak again, along with Greg McMillan (my “coach” as I have used his book to train for all my marathons in 2014 and for Boston).

It was terrific to hear Meb again, he talked about his past races and how he’d sat in this room 5 years ago (with a lot less attendees) at the beginning of his relationship with UCAN. UCAN has an interesting history – they helped Jonah, a child with a severe medical condition that prevents his body from breaking down certain carbohydrates. At one point in his life he had to be tube-fed every 2 hours to survive. UCAN has helped he and his family a great deal. Jonah and his mom were there. Jonah spoke at the end and his mom sat on the panel with Meb, Greg, and Olympic Trials Qualifier Katie Edwards. Left to right: Meb, Jonah’s mom, part of Greg McMillan (Katie is obscured)

Meb at the UCAN event

Meb at the UCAN event

Meb was incredibly generous with his time (and his wife and daughters were there again, patiently waiting) and allowed people to take photos with him, so I got a photo with Meb! I thanked him, and since they’d asked us not to, didn’t shake his hand (germs) even though out of habit he started to stick his hand out to shake. We also got 5×7 pre-signed photos from Meb and a couple of samples of UCAN products. (They had their new bar out for people to try, but I didn’t.)

Meb signed photo

Meb signed photo

I spoke to Greg afterward just to let him know who I was and thank him for the books and support via twitter and his emails to his “Pro” site members that helped me get my BQs and PRs and get to Boston. He told me where the McMillan cheering section would be out on the course. I also asked him for some tips on using UCAN as I had tried it in the past – seeing it worked for Meb, I got enthused and bought a bunch of it – and hadn’t had the results others had. It seemed to not only not work, but cause issues. He had some suggestions, as did the UCAN guys, so I may give it another try. I really want it to work and I can understand why it should work – but me and my tummy may be an n=1 for which it doesn’t. But that’s for me to find out in the future.

Then I stopped at B.Good for a salad to take back to the hotel for a quick lunch.

After that, it was back to the expo for more shopping. While out and about, I saw this

Run Boston billboard

Run Boston billboard

and this….

finish line

finish line

After I’d gotten overwhelmed at the expo, we went to B.Good for dinner. They were safe for my dietary restrictions and right by the finish line. The items I had at dinner were good but not great, whereas I’d really liked the salad I had for lunch. I’d eat there again, but probably choose a bit differently. Very nice and knowledgeable folks about dietary issues and quality product.

SUNDAY

Sunday started with a well attended (video from MarathonKoach) Runners’ World 8AM shakeout run w Bart. Liz was there but not running. I saw other RW staff including Hannah McGoldrick (newly minted social media editor). I met and ran with Leah and she gave me some tips for Boston. She also talked about Chicago, which she’s run, and about the race she directs, the Rivanna Greenbelt marathon. I’m interested in perhaps RD’ing someday, so I love those conversations.

In the afternoon, due to the scary weather forecast, DH and I head back to expo yet one more time to search for gloves and then hit Marathon Sports again. If you read my race recap or my Thankful Thursday post, you’ll know I got gloves, a vest, and an ear band, and they made a big difference during the race.

We went to PF Chang’s for my pre-race “dinner”, eating around 2:30. It was quite disappointing. It’s also the 3rd time they’ve screwed up a pretty simple pre-race meal (steamed chicken and mixed vegetables) and it’s not worth the stress it causes, so I’ll be exploring other options in the future. Between the meal and the forecast, I was kind of twitchy and probably could have used more walking around to calm myself, but DH (rightly) was adamant it was time to get off my feet.

PRE-RACE EVE

After “dinner”, we headed back to the room. Does anyone else feel kind of “trapped” in the hotel room that last day/evening? You know you should just lay down and read/rest but instead you pace, tweet, obsess about gear while taking 15 minutes to pin your bib on straight (a new PR). Then time pulls its accordion trick and all the hours you have left are down to an hour to bedtime. ….. or maybe it’s just me.

DH and I speed watched the Deena sections of Spirit of the Marathon before snacking and reading. I’d gotten slightly better sleep Saturday night and hoped that would be enough. I did my typical “wake up every 90 minutes” thing.

When I woke up at 4:15 on race day morning, I was SURE it was 5 (my “get up” time) or later. When I realized it wasn’t decided not to bother trying to sleep as I figured I wouldn’t but if I did I might be groggy when I actually did have to get up. So, I grabbed my earbuds and listened to my guided visualization one more time to calm me down. Then it was time to get up and head to Boston Commons and then Hopkinton!

All in all, it was a great weekend – parts of it really amazing – filled with people and sights and help that make me so grateful for the experience.



My First Boston Marathon – Race Recap

I AM A BOSTON MARATHONER!

2015 Boston Marathon medal

2015 Boston Marathon medal

Pre-race, my goals were:

1) Finish healthy and safe (don’t do anything stupid, don’t injure myself, don’t push too hard if something hurts, don’t get tangled up with someone, fall or get overheated/go hypothermic)

2) Give it my best effort on the day

3) Embrace the experience

I achieved all those goals.

….and then there were some time goals, none of which happened. Am I disappointed? A little, mostly because they were very conservative goals that on a typical “day at the office”, I “should” have been able to hit. I realize saying I’m disappointed with my time may sound ungrateful (and I always thought I’d be thrilled with a finish no matter the time), and I don’t mean it that way. I just want to be honest about how I feel. Being disappointed in my time doesn’t mean I’m disappointed in the race. I got to live my dream come true and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity.

I am proud of my effort. I ran every step. I gave it all I had, I just wish I’d had more to give on the day.

Now, the LONG stream-of-consciousness recap you came here for…get a snack and some coffee, settle somewhere comfy and let’s get this party started!

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WEATHER AND GEAR

The weather was cold (not a big problem, better cold than hot!), and sometimes windy (but not “Shamrock bad” to me anyway). Then there was the rain… I ran a 5k in the rain many years ago and didn’t enjoy it. My second marathon, the one I ran injured, had cold spitting rain and wind that was not pleasant when I had to start walking at mile 20. Those two races, both many years ago, are the sum total of my experience running in the rain and so the weather was freaking me out a bit. (DH would snort – “a bit?!”) If it had been a local marathon with another one available soon, I might not have run the race – but it wasn’t, it was Boston….and if you’re healthy and think you can be safe in the conditions, you run Boston. (waiting for this to bite me next year) I don’t know if the conditions messed with me as much physically on the day as they messed with my head, but considering how cold my hands got (added to the difficulty getting gels) and the rain dripping off my visor onto my face at some points, it might well have. But it didn’t rain the whole time, for which I was grateful.

I’m thankful to the people who helped me do better in the conditions than I would have without the extra new and new-to-me gear.

Laid out kit the night before, pinned on bib, debated s/s v tank, both are super light weight, made for summer running, but I’ve worn the tank in every marathon, including the cold Richmond in November. Briefly thought of long sleeve (would have been my Shamrock shirt or a very warm base layer) but I was afraid I’d overheat. (you can laugh, knowing I’ve done 4 marathons now where I thought I’d toss gloves/arm warmers and didn’t) I’m almost always cold – sometimes REALLY cold – and I don’t like being cold, but I am not used to running hot so overheating scares me as I know less how to deal with it and less how it feels before things go bad.

I went to the Village with bra, tank, arm warmers, Teflon-coated running vest (extra pair of cotton gloves and some, ahem, supplies in the pockets), warmer “water resistant” gloves, ear band, visor, shorts with wet wipes in the pockets, and quad compression sleeves under my toss sweats. (along with wearing my FlipBelt loaded with 10 gels, and a flask in the sweats pocket with a Vanilla GU mixed with water for the start) I also carried a rain poncho which I used in the Village, overshoes which I ditched in the Village never having worn, but would bring them again, and carried a yoga mat via strap – had a yard garbage bag stuffed in the center in case of extra need. I didn’t carry my phone, and there were times I wished I had, to get people’s names or to chat with DH and friends pre-race. But once the race started it just would have been weight. I knew I wasn’t going to take pictures or text during the race, and I knew it wasn’t possible I’d be out there alone at any point in need of help that I couldn’t get, so I left it with DH.

Note that the vest, quad sleeves, ear band and gloves were new. Yes, I violated the “nothing new on race day” rule with my kit – and that, plus the shirt I added in the Village – probably saved me from hypothermia. I don’t recommend such big changes, but sometimes you have to take the risk, and I’m thankful to the folks who helped me!

New on me as I left the hotel, and all purchased race weekend:

  • CompressSport quad sleeves – purchased per my chiro’s Thursday direction as I’d pulled a groin muscle in my left leg Wed night getting out of a chair – you can imagine how freaked I was. The pull improved on its own and with e-stim, but after talking to the sales guy, I grabbed a pair. I did manage to test them before the race by wearing them from Sat afternoon through the Sunday shakeout run and was prepared to ditch them if needed. I think they helped my hamstrings a lot, my quads too – never even noticed the groin pull – and they added a little extra warmth (and made finding me in the finish line video easier). I think they’re awesome and am still wearing them, recommend. Just realized they come in other colors than the black I got. Goal of course is to be stronger and NOT need them. DH was so impressed with the sleeves he picked himself up some of their trail shorts. They appear to only have men’s shorts, boo.
  • Frank Shorter Teflon-coated vest from jacket w zip off sleeves (would have bought yellow, but blue was what they had at expo, may get yellow later) and warm ear band
  • Brooks running gloves with pull over nylon mitts (no longer for sale I guess, not on Brooks’ site) – L instead of needed XL but keeping these!

I didn’t pin my bib to my vest, in case I wanted to ditch it. I pinned it to my tank, which meant that every 5k, for the timing mat, I unzipped it partially and then re-zipped it. I had to trust that the chip would register that way. I didn’t think much about the photographers except the ones at the end (thought about that ahead of time) and it turns out that so far there’s only one photo of me that’s not in the last 600 meters where they could clearly see my bib – it’s one at the 10k split mat (where there are photographers above) and I found it in the unidentified photo section. My logic was that race photos usually aren’t that great, the conditions were bad, and timing is the priority – except for finish line photos!

PRE-RACE MONDAY

Monday morning, up 5am. Race schedule: bus loading start 7:55, those buses arrive at the Village around 9, to corrals 10:15, wave start 10:50. I ate my small cup of applesauce with 1/2 scoop of Hammer Whey around 6 or so. We’d decided the night before that we needed to leave the room shortly after 7am to allow for crowded elevators and the walk to Boston Commons for the buses , as well as one or more portajohn stops at the Commons. I paid attention to the tales of traffic backups and people begging to be let off the buses to relieve themselves anywhere. Didn’t want that to happen if I could avoid it. I carried a squeeze pouch of applesauce and a pouch of Vespa. The applesauce was to be taken if I got hungry on the bus or soon after getting to the Village so my stomach/blood sugar weren’t affected pre-race, and the Vespa to be taken around 10am.

BOSTON COMMONS

Even in my toss sweats, with the hood pulled up, it was quite a chilly walk to the Commons. I was pretty tense and in my own head, fretting about the rain, so it was a good thing DH walked me over. I might have found a pod of runners to tail, but I might not have, and I surely couldn’t hold directions in my head. We happened to leave our hotel and pass the tents at the time a huge number of race volunteers in their orange jackets were heading out – we followed them for a bit, then DH said they were going elsewhere and we changed course.

Got to the Commons and got in line for the portajohns. There were a fair number of runners, dressed in interesting combinations of toss/warm clothing, but not as many as I’d have expected. I think that’s because people kept moving into bus lines and heading out. There was a constant stream of announcements about not being able to check gear in Hopkinton, not being able to take gear bags on the bus (though people did seem to be able to get small bags with food/drink through security) and which wave was to be where. We hung out for a few minutes, hoping Leah, who I’d met at the shakeout would show up, but she was delayed leaving her hotel so I missed her. (found out the Sheraton had fire alarms go off at 12:30am, felt bad for those runners!) DH tried to block the wind for me, but it kept changing direction. Decided one more portajohn stop was in order, then we said farewells. The plan post-race was for me to return to the hotel, figuring the family meeting area would be too crowded for us to find each other (on a decent weather day, probably true) and I’d decided I’d just ask people for directions afterward….my brain function, memory and sense of direction are not high post-marathon.

THE BUS

I got in the security line for the buses. As I did, I passed a wide-eyed runner saying goodbye to her husband. He said “you look terrified” and she replied “I am!” (I chimed in “me too” – hoped to find her in bus line but didn’t happen)  Had to wait longer to get on a bus than I wanted, given the cold, and while it was warmer, it wasn’t warm. I don’t think our bus left until 8:25.

On the trip out, it started to rain, and the bus steamed up so much the driver opened his window. Again, not so warm. It stopped raining by the time we got to the Village. My seatmate, an Eastern European woman living in Toronto who only started running around age 50 (now 58), chatted. I think we got started because was shaking with cold and she asked me if I was cold. I put the hand warmers DH had given me into my gloves, and it helped a bit. (I kept them in through some of the early miles in the race.) We compared clothing notes (she was afraid she’d overdressed, I suspect she was fine), talked about this being our first Boston. Turns out our original BQ times were pretty close. I gave her my garbage bag since she didn’t have a poncho. She plans to run NYC (she qualified and happened upon registration) and is going to run the Grand 2 Grand ultra this summer. It was lovely talking with her. We unfortunately split up on arriving at the Village around 9:30 (as I headed for the portajohns) and I didn’t get her name or number. I hope she did well.

ATHLETES’  VILLAGE

In the portajohn line, standing on the grass/mud in the field (oh yeah, snow=mud) I jumped into the conversation the two women behind me were having (I will do this at races, especially if I’m nervous). They were charity runners I think, one was from South Carolina, the other from Vermont – the person behind them was local but was talking about skiing in Vermont. We wound up talking all the way through the line, me mostly listening, and then the SC & VT women and I wound up in the tent in roughly the same place. There wasn’t really a place to sit, so we stood. I could have made a place, probably, and had the mat for just such a purpose, but in my cold brain’s logic, I thought the ground would be even colder than standing and was afraid I might pull or tweak something sitting down or getting up. (see, I’m already not thinking too clearly)

I wasn’t doing well at this point. I could not stop shaking from being so cold. I don’t mean delicate little shivers, I mean shaking/trembling so that it’s visible to others. The last time I was that cold was before Richmond, but that was just waiting in the line for 20 minutes, not standing outside for an hour on top of already having been outside and cold. I also couldn’t think straight. I kept wondering if I should be taking my applesauce because I must be burning calories but now it was past 10 and too close to the start, what should I do. I couldn’t decide. I couldn’t decide if I should take the Vespa (knew I could run w/o it) as it was ~2oz of liquid and in the cold, liquid causes me to need to relieve myself more quickly, not optimal in a race. I also completely forgot about my FRS chews (so hadn’t had any caffeine either) – they wound up banging around in my pocket and annoying me for the race. Never wound up taking my pre-race Energy Surge tablet or the extras of that & Endurolytes I carried in baggies in belt. The Energy Surge might have helped. Actually, given how good salted gels tasted, the Endurolytes might have too.

This is where the Vermont woman pretty much forced her long sleeve toss shirt (midweight tech) on me, after being incredibly patient when she kept offering and I couldn’t decide. Of course then I had to take off my sweat jacket, vest, and tank to put the shirt on – when she saw what I was wearing, she said “oh yeah, you need this”. It helped right away, but I was still shaking.

At some point it was time to go to the corrals and then the start line. On the walk to the start, it began to rain again. Suddenly things seemed to be happening faster than I was quite ready for. I met a charity runner along the way who distracted me, kept me company, made sure I got to the portajohn by the start and helped me out of my toss clothes. He was planning to run at a very slow pace due to an injury, so we said goodbye before the start.

I must put a plug in for two books that really helped me be familiar with the course (along with whatever videos are online):

Boston Marathon: The Legendary Course Guide by Raymond Britt – he took photos while running the course himself one year and puts comments, tips and his splits as well.

and

26.2 Miles to Boston by Michael Connelly – a lot of history about each mile, but also helpful information and photos

Because of those books, I knew that the start was narrow and the first few miles were going to be very crowded, no way to find a clear path or make a pace. Just go with the flow and try to hold your own place in the crowd. People were very cautious – I didn’t get elbowed, stepped on or shouldered…at one point later in race someone bumped into me and apologized, I know I did the same. I’ve been elbowed and stepped on worse at other races. Many people wore ponchos (some the whole race) and the only almost oopses I had were with two runners who’d run their iPod cords outside their poncho, and there was a huge amount of slack cord. Both times, I caught the cord between my fingers on a forward right arm swing, realized it and yanked my arm back. Glad I didn’t wind up pulling it out of their ears, ouch. Also, guys really do peel off into the woods next to the road shortly after the start to urinate – and they’re not shy (I’d read about this so it was kind of funny).

THE RACE

So how’s the downhill start? Not unmanageable, even in the rain with the crowds. I think you’d need more space to really be able to take advantage of it and go out too fast, but that may have just been how it was on the day. I was nervous about downhill with the rain, but it was fine. I was being careful, trying to watch my footing and run with the best form I could.

Each of the towns you pass through has a sign on the course saying either “Entering X” or “Welcome to X”. The sign for the second town, Ashland, came very quickly – I thought “already?”

One really cool thing is that from the start, even when you begin to get some space in the pack, if you look ahead, as far as you can see are the bobbing heads and bright colors of the runners ahead of you. Britt had mentioned this in his book and it shows in photos.

Spectators giving out orange slices (I’d read about it) must be a Boston thing. I’ve never seen it anywhere else. People were standing out in the cold rain and wind with tubs and dishes of oranges they’d spent time preparing, hoping to help us. A few places were giving out their own water, one woman was trying to hand out Twizzlers. I think there were some sort of ice pops being given out at the top of Heartbreak, but doubt they had many takers. I did see at least 3-5 spectators handing out paper towels, a nice thought as you could dry your face or glasses and feel less soggy even for a moment.

Early on, I saw the man who does the race in a wheelchair, backwards, pushing only with his feet. I saw Peter Sagal guiding his Team with a Vision blind runner. Saw a few more guides/runners from them and Achilles. I saw charity runners supporting a variety of causes, some with names and pictures on their shirts. One in particular struck me, running in memory of her mom and someone else, made me wonder if I would have the guts to run for that knowing how bad I’d feel if I wasn’t successful. Props to the charity runners – training for and running the race is hard enough, raising funds is a whole extra effort.

The first half of the race felt like it took a long time to happen, though it was my faster half of the race. Somewhere around mile 9, it felt like some energy went out of my legs. I didn’t feel like I was bonking, but I wonder if I ran the race more glycogen-depleted than I thought due to all the time pre-start and being so cold. I knew there was a lot of race yet to go.

I started thinking about getting to 10 miles, then after that to the halfway, then thinking of it as a training run in terms of mileage (only 13 miles!), then told myself “get into the hills and you’re into single digits”, “get to Heartbreak and you’re under 6 miles to go”. I also was looking for landmarks and thinking when I would take my next gel. Sometimes I wasn’t thinking at all, just moving and watching out for anything in the road that might be a problem.

I was very lucky. I had no real physical problems including the “boo boos” (as my chiro would say) that had been nagging pre-race. Neither of my PTT tendons acted up, my glute mins were silent for the first time in months, my hamstrings were the quietest they’ve been in maybe a year (go quad sleeves!) and my quads didn’t hurt. My hips (flexors) and calves felt a little tight, and my feet definitely were feeling the pounding on the pavement, but there wasn’t ever anything that made me concerned or made me consider stopping. Somewhere around miles 9-10, I started to feel the weird “pre-collapse” sensation in my left ankle. I fretted about it a bit and tried to watch how I was landing, check my form. Thankfully, the sensation did pass without incident. Afterward, I noted real soreness (to the touch) in my upper arms (biceps). This happens to me post-race but less so on training runs unless they’re long/goal pace. Interestingly, Shalane apparently had the same problem at Boston.

At multiple points during the first half to 16 miles, I was getting cramping that almost felt like a side stitch, but not in the right place for that. It didn’t seem to be related to when I took gel/water, which sometimes has happened in training runs, and it felt different than that. I tried to treat it like a stitch and exhale hard when my foot hit on that side. It helped momentarily, but then it would come back. Slowing down a little seemed to help, and when I tried to speed back up, sometimes it would come back. I tried to do what I could when it wasn’t happening in terms of pace, but I’m not the greatest judge of pace, and the rolling course made it harder to hold a steady pace. After that, the cramping seemed to improve. Well, up until mile 19.

After the halfway point, then I started to think about the course more, knowing “downhill at 15, then the hills start, then downhill, then get to the Citgo sign, then you’re close”.

It looks “flat” from about mile 6 to the downhill before 16, but I knew from running the course profile that it wasn’t. I’m so glad I trained for the seemingly constant rolling. There is so little flat on the course, and sometimes my brain would say “geez, ANOTHER uphill, come on!” but it would be short and fairly shallow, and then over. If I’d not been expecting it or hadn’t practiced it, I think it could have gotten in my head.

It’s interesting how some irritating things you can just force your mind to ignore and tolerate during a run or race, and others just keep bugging you. For example, I had put the FRS chews in the upper chest pocket of the vest so I could easily get to them. However, since I hadn’t taken them, they started bouncing against my chest and were painful and annoying. It took a lot of work with gloved hands, on the run, to get them out and into another pocket.

FUELING & AID/SUPPORT

I took my Vanilla Bean & water at the start. The plan was to take a gel every 3 miles, which isn’t exactly what happened. I took a Vanilla at mile 3, Salted Watermelon at 6, Strawberry Kiwi Roctane around 10, Salted Caramel at 13, Blue Pom Roctane at 16 & 19, and Caramel Macchiato at 22. The “salted” gels tasted particularly good. (a sign I was down on eletrolytes? had some in my belt but no way I could have gotten them with hands so cold)

It was taking me longer to get the gel out of the wet cold belt (sweat more than rain) with wet cold hands (gloved or not) and I don’t think it was consistent whether the aid stations were before or after the mile markers. This made it harder to anticipate for me – it’s also easier to see them in advance when there are less people on course, the volunteers stand out more in empty space though their orange jackets were helpful for visibility.

I went through several iterations/process improvements with the gels. I started taking my right glove off to fish for the gel. (it eventually got so hard to get back on soaking wet that I just shoved it in my pocket) Then I’d transfer it to the left hand, open it, get as much down as I could and get a couple sips of water (which was pretty darned chilly).

The next improvement was to – since I was losing time at each stop anyway – get the NEXT gel out and put it in the chest pocket of the vest. Then I changed that to just carrying it in my left hand for the next 3 miles. I couldn’t get the gel I wanted at mile 9 (which is why I wound up taking the gel for mile 12 at mile 10) and got frustrated.

I turned the flip belt around after mile 10 – moving the emptier pockets in the front to the back – but what I didn’t realize was that the belt had rolled so that the slits to get to the gels were now facing my body, not away from it. This became frustrating and tiring. It was taking more and more effort to get any gel out, and it was work to make myself keep digging for them, holding them and taking them. I went from tossing the top you tear off to ripping it off with my teeth and attempting to at least spit it away from me before taking the gel. By the time I got to 22 and took what turned out to be the last one, I don’t know if I figured I’d make it without another or it just seemed like too much work. The Jet Blackberry might have perked me up if I’d taken it at 23 or 24.

The aid stations themselves were excellent. They were every mile starting at 2, great idea…. 4 tables of Gatorade then 4 tables of water…then another set on the other side of the road a little further down so you never had to change sides of the road…that said, you spent a lot of time running through a lot of cups.

There was plenty of on course support. In addition to the race volunteers, there was a huge law enforcement/security presence (local police in fluorescent vests & uniformed National Guard, guys in fatigues and barriers in some places) and a med tent about each mile with big electronic sign reminding us of that before you got there, certainly was each mile late in race. Some of the police and National Guard guys were even clapping, cheering and encouraging us. I tried to thank a few, but didn’t have much energy.

And, every med tent/aid station also had portajohns. This became important to me when the cramping finally indicated something was going to happen no matter where I was. Fortunately, I was approaching the mile 19 aid station at the time. I ran all the way to the curb, and afterward I made sure to go back to the point where I stepped off the road and start running right from there, so I do believe I ran every step of the race. I lost about 4 minutes, best I can tell. Glad it happened before Heartbreak.

MORE RANDOM THOUGHTS 

The crowd support was amazing, all that people had said it was, very impressive in the conditions and very helpful to me, surprising as I can get annoyed with people, crowds. The only thing that bugged me was so many spectators were on the course – not off to the side – for hand slaps, really too far into the road so that you had to move to not run into them if you didn’t want to slap. At one point, the crowd was pounding on the sponsor ad banners that are zip-tied to the barricades (in some places there are barricades) as they do in cycling races, and I really liked the sound effect of that. It was almost like the beat of music.

Due to the crowds, I paused my iPod a fair number of times. I repeated a couple songs early. While I wouldn’t want to run without music, as I like having that boost, I couldn’t rely on being able to hear songs or on the timing of them given the crowds and varying paces. I’d run with music again, but probably be quicker to pause or skip or repeat. It was also a little challenging in that my shuffle was on my bra, under the vest and 2 layers of shirt, so some fiddling was required any time I wanted to adjust. Managed it mostly with the gloves while I had them on, and was glad I didn’t screw it up somehow. The iPod came through unscathed as did my fantastic yurbuds.

People were cooking (or restaurants were) in the first 10k or so and it smelled wonderful. Wood smoke, barbecue and I think burgers. The thought did flash “I’d love to stop and get warm and have a hamburger” but only for a moment. Fortunately there weren’t really any smells that were unpleasant or made me queasy. (and with the rain I didn’t notice anyone’s cologne or detergent smells, as I have in other races – nice)

As far as the wet conditions, I think the rain didn’t affect my feet as much as unavoidable puddles did. I tried to get around them but sometimes I just couldn’t. Also, runners kicked up water onto my shoes as they passed. I suspect I did that to some folks too. I used Trail Toes on my feet (rec by my friend Felicia, she used it in Marathon des Sables) and it was was awesome, not a single blister including the one that had been popping up on runs at home! I body-glided the heck out of everything else, which I usually don’t. I think under arms, at bra straps and around where the vest hit my neck probably helped. I had no chafing.

I had a lot of moments of thinking, “Oh yes that’s that place I saw in the book or on video” – TJ’s bar, the ice cream store, the Ashland clock tower, the Framingham train station, shops I’d seen on video….somehow I missed seeing the Stylianos Kyriakides and Johnny Kelley statues as well as the Team Hoyt statue. So much is already hazy in my memory….Only on reviewing Britt’s book to help me with this recap did I recall that “yes, we ran by a lake” (Lake Cochituate, in mile 10). I’d completely forgotten. I wish there was a recording chip in my brain that I could play for myself as well as for you, to re-experience the race.

I’m glad I knew the places where there were train tracks to be careful of in the wet conditions. I really appreciated people who’d told me their perspective on different points on the course. I also appreciated DH’s tips on running in the rain – avoid running on the paint on the street and steer clear of manhole covers or other metal. The dips for some of the utility access, covered by small round metal plates set down below street level, collected water and were things to be careful of. I managed with the metal and only got forced onto paint a few times. With so many runners, you don’t always get your choice of where to run.

There wasn’t very much camber or tilt to the road, which I had worried about – yay!

I spent a lot of time focusing on the ground for caution, people around me, thinking about gels, looking at spectator and sights. I didn’t have a lot of spare brain power to think thoughts or really hear my music. Looking back, it seems like I was mostly focused on the race or not thinking at all, with some stray thoughts coming in, or giving myself reminders about gels, form, etc. I wasn’t spending a lot of time talking to myself either. Some encouragement, some nudging or determined “I will do x, I won’t do y” or things like that. I went through my apparently typical process (seems to happen each race) of telling myself “you can walk if you need to, or crawl, but you’re finishing” to realizing that I’d be really ticked and really cold if that happened, and that I didn’t NEED to walk, and then telling myself that I would run the whole race, no matter the pace. I can begin to understand how the elites race without music (believe they have to, under the rules) and how many of us regular folks do as well. I still like the option for myself though.

I have so many snapshots in my head of towns, trees, buildings, people and signs. I wish I could share them all with you.

I didn’t see any of the people I knew who said they’d be out cheering at different points along the course. But I didn’t spent much time looking, except scanning for Christine near Wellesley. By the way, her mom Pam really has some grit, running though she’d spent Saturday night in the ER with dehydration from food poisoning.

It was interesting to be running in such a huge event, surrounded by people and crowds, and also be quite alone. I didn’t see that many people running in pairs or groups (makes sense if you’re running for time, Baystate was like that). It made me wonder what it would be like to run the race with someone.

It was helpful to have run the Runners’ World Heartbreak Hill Half even though it was last June. I recognized the turn at the firehouse (which I’d also seen in pictures) and passed the hospital and BC thinking “been here, run this”. I really hope they can have the event again in 2016.

At the time I passed through, Wellesley college women were not out in full force (or I didn’t think so) and I didn’t see the sign I’d put in for. It wasn’t a scream tunnel, but people on one side. The Boston College cheering section, on the other hand, was deafening. Families out in Newton Hills. So many people out to cheer us the whole way.

I saw a woman w 75+ on her back and, in the last mile, a man with 80+, inspiring. I saw people with shirts indicating how many Bostons or marathons they’d done, or how many/which of the World Marathon Majors. I saw someone running in what looked like a gladiator costume, complete with helmet, cape and sword he was holding out in front of him. He was running with someone else, I’m not sure if he was supposed to be chasing her or what.

At some point in the first half I thought, “I can do this course better, this isn’t an unmanageable course for me”. I was pleased that I thought that and pleased to discover that it wasn’t so far outside my ability that I couldn’t do it or could never improve. I ran the whole thing the first time!

THE NEWTON HILLS

All my research and course-specific treadmill training paid off – the hills were not as bad as I would have expected, including Heartbreak! This is not to say they were easy, but I was pretty afraid of them after all the warnings and given my lack of downhill training and general hill experience.

The first is what I call “Dave McGillivray Hill” – because he always talks about it, says it’s hard and that people get surprised by it. It’s when you cross 95/128 and is basically an overpass open to the conditions. He says whatever the weather is, it’ll be accentuated there – more wind/cold/heat. I thought of Dave several times, particularly regarding the weather, as in his memoir he jokes that it rains whenever he puts on a race, and because I knew he’d be going back out on the course, later, when the forecast was for worse weather, to run his Boston. (He did, and the weather was worse. He’s such an impressive guy, I’m a fan.)

So I knew “that was the first, 3 more”.

I repeated some songs – Uptown Funk and My Body (thanks Felicia) almost the whole way in the Newton Hills. The beat and the lyrics helped.

I don’t remember much about the next 2 hills, I was trying to look at the houses and see if I remembered any from the half marathon, look at the people. Also, the aid stations every mile are a distraction and something you must pay attention to even if you’re not going to stop as you need to be aware of cups, other runners, etc.

I kept an eye on my Garmin, knowing from my training where Heartbreak was and knowing the offset of my Garmin from the course markers, and I thought, “ok, we must be starting pretty soon”. There was a fairly large hill, but I’d expected more spectators and sponsor tents at the top (from Britt’s book). I kept thinking “this must be it” and when I got to the top I saw a sign that said something like “top of Heartbreak Hill” off to the side, by its lonesome. I’d expected lots of hoopla, signs, yelling, music.

AFTER THE HILLS

If I recall there’s a little flat following, then another slight up, then the downhill I’d been warned about by the woman on Metro. It was noticeably down, but not bad on my legs.

I knew from the profile that there was one more brief incline before we got closer to the Citgo sign.

Somewhere late in the race volunteers were handing out heat sheets (think it was after the hills) and some people took them and ran with them. The people who were walking surely needed them but it can’t have been close to enough.

The Citgo sign appeared somewhat suddenly, and with the misty rain it was almost like a mirage as well as a beacon. Glad I knew that when you first see the Citgo sign (just around 24) you are NOT at mile 25 – it’s when you’re AT the Citgo sign. Happily, there are signs that tell you you’re at 25 and signs for 1 mile to go. By the time we got to mile 25, the crowd support was so deafening I stopped my iPod and pulled out my earbuds to soak it in. I had planned to pull them out on Hereford and tuck them under the vest so I wasn’t wearing them in the photos, so this was just early.

THE LAST MILE

Running on Commonwealth, the crowds were thick and very supportive, and could cheer for individual runners as we were spread out more now.

As I approached Mass Ave, I heard chants of “USA” from the crowd on Mass Ave, and I chanted for a moment. In front of me was a dual “blade runner”, and the back of his shirt said “The voice inside your head that says you can’t do it is a liar.” This choked me up a little. As I passed under Mass Ave, it got very quiet, as I’d read it would. When we climbed the small incline and I saw what I knew (from running it on 2 fun runs and walking it, and from videos) was THE turn onto Hereford, it started to hit me. Right on Hereford, left on Boylston, just like everything I’ve read, just like the tshirt I bought. It’s hitting me what it really means.

I‘m about to finish the BOSTON MARATHON.

I nearly lost it on Hereford, I was both smiling and in tears, I could feel myself start to gasp like I was crying and had to tell myself out loud “keep it together”. I put my sunglasses on top of my visor so the photos would show my face.

THE FINISH

Left on Boylston. The last stretch on Boylston after you turn the corner is indeed – as you have heard and read – longer than you think, even when you know that you’ll feel that way and know how long it is! You can see the finish at the turn, but mostly because you know it’s there (at least for someone with my poor eyesight) and you’ve seen it in the days leading up to the race. The crowds help you avoid that “will I ever get there” feeling when you see the finish far away, and you can see everyone trying to come up with a finishing kick with whatever they’ve got left. I know I did.

I knew the photographers were up above, so when I came around the corner, I unzipped my vest and tried to keep the sides behind my elbows so they could see my bib. I managed to flick my eyes left as I passed The Pour House, a bar/restaurant my father-in-law used to stand in front of when he went out to cheer the runners. He and my mother-in-law weren’t able to make it to Boston, but I knew they were sending me good vibes and I wanted to acknowledge that. I started that smiling/crying/effort thing again, and tried to keep my head up as I moved forward. I raised my arms a few times, or tried anyway (they didn’t get up that far) as I approached the area where I knew – from seeing other photos – they’d start snapping. I looked up, smiled, crossed the mat and went under the arch. Then I stopped my Garmin and walked forward.

AFTER THE FINISH

The finish volunteers were great. I was so overcome people kept asking me if I was ok (I was almost crying) and I just kept nodding saying, “my first Boston” and they’d congratulate me. I probably also looked a little cold. My lips can go kind of purple when I’ve been very cold for a long time.

First you get water, then you go longer than you think you would until you get that beautiful medal. There are a LOT of volunteers giving them out…I got a lovely woman in a Canada hat who gave me lots of hugs when I said it was my first. She said, “but not your last, right?” She volunteers while her husband runs – this year was his 15th Boston. I said I was coming back next year and she should wear the same hat, I’d look for her.

Then you go further to get the “heatsheets” which – in a lovely touch – the volunteers actually put ON you, requiring very little effort. One woman rushed over to me saying, “you look so cold” and I was. She asked if I had gloves (I’d shoved my soaking wet gloves in pockets, seemed colder to have them on) and when I told her they were wet, she said, “I bought dress socks and I have an extra pair in my pocket, do you want them?” I took them. So wonderful how nice people are. I know Boston’s a big race and a big deal, but the sheer number of volunteers, all of whom seemed pleasant and well trained/equipped to deal with runners, is impressive and appreciated.

Then I headed back to hotel, basically asking every little way – “can I get out of the runner area this way” and then “where is my hotel”. A few of us begged to cut through the hotel’s restaurant entrance and staff let us in even though they weren’t supposed to. Then there were (no kidding) 40 people in line for elevators, and some security guy took the 3 of us in our heat sheets into a service elevator to get us to our rooms quickly. Kudos.

I got back to the room where DH helped me get out of some of the wet cold clothes. I started drinking my Ultragen while telling him everything I could think of from the race, putting it in his memory so he could remind me. He’d gone out and watched the race, so had only gotten back to the hotel shortly before I arrived. He had a great vantage point at the turn onto Boylston but didn’t see me (of course, I was dressed differently than when I left the room).

Garmin geek moment: I ran only 0.29 extra miles, not bad especially given it includes the walk off the course to/from the portajohn – so I’m getting better at tangents and not weaving. More race experience helps I guess.

As time has passed since the race, and given I seem to have fared relatively well in terms of stiffness/soreness, it’s become easy to think that maybe I didn’t push hard enough. That’s when DH reminds me that the day before race, I’d started to have GI and (sorry guys) female issues. These weren’t caused by – but were not helped by – a more “al dente” chicken and veggie dish at PF Chang’s than ordered. (the server also put his thumb in the rice bowl when serving it – 3x they’ve screwed up my food pre-race, done with them)

These issues did affect me during the race, which I haven’t had happen before. I know there were times when I consciously pulled back my pace to see if I could get various GI/tummy pains to stop, and I’m sure there were times when I adjusted my pace without being aware I was doing so. I think those issues combined with getting very cold pre-race and possibly being down on fuel contributed to my pace slowing. Also, I lost ~4 minutes to the urgent portajohn stop. The GI issues have continued post-race but have gotten better in the days since.

We managed to find me on the finish line camera. DH watched the replay a couple of times and asked “were you raising your arms?” I replied, “I was trying to”. He said that watching me finish, he could tell I’d given it everything I had. He also saw me relatively shortly (20 minutes) post-race and knew how I was doing at that point.

I’m not saying the GI/female issues were the sole cause of my time being what it was but I do believe the GI stuff had more than a minor impact. There’s no way to know how much other situations (fatigue/poor sleep especially the week before the race, eating bars for meals most of Fri/Sat, standing in the bus line and in the Village, how the training cycle had gone) contributed, but they certainly may have. I plan to assess food strategies (I don’t think in-race fueling was a problem, will look at pre-race and day before) but I also know that sometimes things just happen, and certainly that’s the case with female hormones. One does what one can, but one is still not in control of them and when they go awry, it can be unpleasant.

I liked this quote from Shalane post-race: “Despite a rough race, I’m truly grateful to have had the opportunity to race the best in the world on the most storied marathon course. Races that don’t go well always make me appreciate even more the ones that do. Success is not linear. Time to keep pushing on.” I’m also encouraged by similar perspectives expressed by Andrea Duke in her recap and Kris Law in hers. One “bad” race is just one day, it doesn’t mean more than that. I love the Kenyan approach that you’re as good as your best race, even if you haven’t had it yet. They shake off bad days/races very quickly, from what I’ve read, and move on.

I don’t know that I’d put this race in the “bad” category – I don’t like my finishing time, but there was a lot of good on the day. I RAN & FINISHED BOSTON! I ran every step, I kept my head and achieved my main goals, I did better on the hills than I expected, better on the hills than I would have thought, and I didn’t do anything to set myself back. I learned some things about myself as a person and a runner too, and that’s always good. I can draw on the race in the future, and I plan to.

I had some near-perfect races last year that got me BQs and PRs. I happened to have a less-than-perfect day physically for my first Boston, but you know what? It was still a pretty terrific experience – even with the weather that so scared me before the race, which now I know I can handle!

I plan more posts on the weekend’s events (pictures!), the day after the race, and recovery once we returned home. If you have questions I didn’t answer above, or on those other topics – or anything related to my Boston experience – please get in touch.

May I always remember what a gift this race day was, and be grateful for it as well for as all the hard work and support and luck that got me to it. I am so lucky to have been able to do this once in my lifetime. That I have a BQ for 2016 and thus the opportunity to run it again, and do better, is very precious to me. I intend to work hard to do honor and justice to the legendary race that I’ve fallen for. I can see it being a race I do as many times as I earn the privilege to stand on the starting line.

Boston, love ya, mean it! I’ll be back……and yes, IT WAS ALL WORTH IT!

runner finish area exit sign

runner finish area exit sign



Thankful Thursday after my first Boston Marathon!

2015 Boston Marathon medal

2015 Boston Marathon medal

It’s the Thankful Thursday after my first Boston Marathon!

I am so very thankful for all who helped me along the way to my first Boston Marathon finish, all the way from DNSing Richmond 2013 and training for Shamrock 2014, supporting my BQ efforts that culminated in a dream come true.

  • DH – for so long, for so many things and everything, and extra special gratitude for amazing race weekend support
  • my chiro (especially all the last minute support/appts and calming me down)
  • my sister
  • my friends – especially K
  • my massage therapist (texting me during the weekend with support and after, eagerly asking “did you wear the jacket?”)
  • tweeps & blog readers – for all your support and encouragement every day and especially the times I’ve needed it most – I thought of you all during the race…..and many of you inspire me as well

I’m thankful for my role models and inspirations  – inspiring me in training, in not giving up and coming back, in putting in the time and effort to do the “little” and “extra” things that aren’t truly either: Meb, Deena, Joanie

And I’m thankful for people I’d never met before who helped me me race weekend:

  • The European CompressSport sleeve guy at the expo – If I could hug him, I would. I went to get quad sleeves, which I’d never used before, per my chiro, as I pulled a groin muscle Wed night before the race. The CompressSport guy promised they’d be fine on race day, He was right. I wore Sat afternoon, evening and slept in them, wore them for the Sun shakeout run and then walking around. I then broke rule #1 and wore them for the race – they really helped my hams, groin pull and probably quads for downhill, just as the guy had said! (also kept me a bit warmer as I was wearing very thin shorts) Utterly sold. Wearing for recovery also.
  • The helpful young man and woman at the Saucony expo booth during my desperate search for warmer gloves who sent me to Marathon Sports on Boylston, and the young woman at Marathon Sports who put gloves aside for me when I called ahead. Those gloves, though they eventually were dripping wet and so cold I had to take them off. I think having the warmer gloves really helped.
  • A fellow runner waiting in the Athletes’ Village….a Vermont woman who was one of the charity runners, I think her bib was something like 28xxx. She gave me a long sleeved midweight tech shirt that she was going to toss. She pretty much forced it on me as I was standing there shaking like a leaf as I was SO cold – I think I would have been way too cold without the shirt. In the cold, wind and rain, having that extra shirt layer on my core, plus on top of the arm warmers, really made a huge difference and may have saved me from hypothermia…in retrospect, based on my poor cognitive processes and inability to make a decision in the Village. I may have been inching toward hypothermia pre-race. I couldn’t decide the simplest things: Should I eat my applesauce and Vespa as planned though it was a bit late? Should I take the shirt? I dithered on that for a LONG time and the woman finally almost demanded I put it on.
  • I met Nico, a charity runner, while we were in the corrals. He had such an interesting and inspiring story and was a “double agent” Marathon Maniac. He also helped me find the last set of portajohns and helped me get my sweatpants off without having to sit down.
  • Post-race, the heatsheet volunteer who rushed over to me saying “you look so cold” and I was. She asked if I had gloves (I’d shoved my soaking wet gloves in pockets somewhere back around the hills, seemed colder to have them on) and when I told her they were wet, she said “I bought dress socks and I have an extra pair in my pocket, do you want them?” I took them. They may have helped a bit on the way back to the hotel, when the breeze was quite unpleasant even with the heatsheet (which doesn’t cover everything).
  • People who gave me directions that helped me get back to the hotel (I was pretty cold and tired at that point) and people who let us cut through the hotel’s restaurant entrance though they weren’t supposed to. Then there were (no kidding) 40 people in line for elevators, and some security guy took the 3 of us in our heat sheets into a service elevator to get us to our rooms quickly.
  • The many, many, many volunteers who stood out in really unpleasant conditions to make sure the runners had what we needed and were taken care of. What incredible spirit.
  • The law enforcement and medical personnel who kept us safe start to finish and were a supportive presence along the way, some clapping and cheering us on while they did their duties.
  • The spectators. The crowd support was amazing, even deafening in places, and it really helped. Kids and elderly folks in the road wanting hand slaps, families out in soaking cold weather, people with orange slices and candy and signs, people making noise however they could to lift our spirits and help us keep moving forward despite fatigue or pain or weather. You all are a credit to Boston!

The unicorn had to visit my pal the treadmill who enabled me to achieve this goal….I think they look great together. Dreams CAN come true.

unicorn and treadmill

unicorn and treadmill

And yes, I’ll probably leave the course profile there – why not? We know I’ll start training for Boston 2016 ASAP.

What are you thankful for? If you ran Boston, I hope it was a wonderful experience for you regardless of weather and finish time! 



Almost Wordless Wednesday – April 1, 2015

Welcome to marathon month!

marathon door wreath

marathon door wreath



Boston Training so far

Welcome to new readers! I’m pleased to join the Runners Connect linkup today to share my training for my first Boston in April 2015.

Boston 2015 Acceptance Confirmation

Boston 2015 Acceptance Confirmation

NB: I do my running on my treadmill unless it says otherwise.

Training Recap Week of Dec 1, 2014 

Run summary – details here

Bet you thought I’d forgotten how to write training recaps! Looking back, the last one was for the week of November 3rd (two weeks pre-Richmond). I don’t know why I didn’t post the week leading up to Richmond, but I didn’t post the weeks post-race because I figured my recovery wasn’t all that interesting.

BUT, since December 1 was 20 weeks to Boston, training has started again. (and the ultra is fast approaching) So here we go!

Run: 47.1 miles – this week, wearing the men’s Brooks Adrenaline 13s, size 9 2E, with toe separator for bunion

Training Recap Week of Dec 8, 2014 

Run summary – details here

Inside 18 weeks to Boston, less than 2 weeks to the ultra.

Run: 55.1 miles (woot!) Stopped wearing toe separator as of Wed. as it seemed like it was causing knee problems. Through Saturday, wearing the men’s Brooks Adrenaline 13s, size 9 2E. Sunday, had to go back to the women’s Adrenaline 13s (10 2E) I’m trying to save.

The two weeks above were hard but great training weeks (details at the links). I nailed the workouts and the second week I felt stronger than the first week. Then, the next two weeks, I was tired, sore, and heavy-legged.

Training Recap Week of Dec 15, 2015 

Run summary – details here

Inside 17 weeks to Boston, the ultra is this weekend! The hay is in the barn for the ultra. Hoping that last week’s fatigue is finally starting to move on out and this week will be an upswing to get me to the race.

Run: 42 miles Turned out to be kind of a “down” or “cutback” week – unplanned, though I probably should have planned it – after 2 great weeks of training. Pretty high fatigue load all week, and some sore, tired and heavy legs. So I went with it instead of trying to push through. We’ll consider that a win – trying to be smart about it.

Training Recap Week of Dec 22, 2014

Ultra race week pre-race week (structured just as I structure race week for marathons)

Mon – biked in the AM and at work at lunch

Tues – 7 mi including cruise intervals

Wed – 6.3 mi including leg speed intervals

Thurs – travel, up for 19 hours

Fri – biked 45 min at hotel gym

Sat – 3.35 mi easy pace shakeout run

Sun RACE DAY – 50k! Completed my first ultra! Race report here

Across The Years

Across The Years

Training Recap Week of Dec 29, 2014

Recovery week 1

Mon – biked 40 min at hotel gym

Tues – biked 25 min at hotel gym

Wed – crewed a runner at 24 hour race starting 9am Wed. (I am working on a post about this.) Up at 5a, to race site at 7am. Over the course of my crewing duties, I was up 33 hours, on my feet and outside most of the time, mostly standing, some walking, a little short running to and from the tent. It was very cold and rainy on and off. My iPhone Health app says I walked ~6 miles during the 24h of 12/31.

Thurs – finishing crewing, back to hotel around 10:30a, started to crash around noon. My iPhone health app says I walked 6.5 miles during the 24h of 1/1.

Fri – hanging with recovering runner, walked about 6 miles just easy out and about at hotel property and running errands, sightseeing

Sat – first run post-race! 6.5 miles easy pace on hotel treadmill, walked an additional 6.5 miles during day at property and sightseeing

Sun – 3.5 mile easy run on hotel treadmill, walked an additional 5 miles during day at property and sightseeing

Training Recap Week of Jan 5, 2015

Recovery week 2

Mon – travel day, no workout (sitting on plane should count for the soreness it caused)

Tues – 7 recovery pace miles, back on my own treadmill (yay!)

Wed – 7.1 miles, easy pace, increased pace 0.1 each mile

Thurs – 8 miles, recovery pace, followed by my chiropractor-prescribed “skaters” exercises (I call them “Ohnos”) and “hard day, weeks 1-2” of Coach Jay Johnson’s General Strength Exercises.  Of course, all my runs are preceded by a 15 min walking warmup and Coach Jay’s Lunge Matrix plus calf stretches on a rocker and drills including high knees, butt kicks, Monty Python walks, karaoke and lateral/front leg swings.

Fri – XT day

Saturday will be my first long run since the ultra. I’m hoping for anywhere from 10-16 miles but will take the “discretion is the better part of valor” approach and go shorter if any problems or excess fatigue seem to be in evidence. Sunday will depend on how I feel, longer would be better, but don’t want to push it. Monday is 14 weeks to Boston! I’ll be working to increase mileage, speed and hills over the next week or so before picking up my “official” 12 week plan.

What’s your biggest concern going into Boston? Mine is the downhills. I can simulate the uphills on my treadmill just fine, but it doesn’t have decline capability and 0% isn’t sufficient (though since I run at 1%, I do feel a difference). In past races, I’ve built confidence and comfort in the training cycle by simulating the race course to the extent I can during my long runs. I’m doing that as best I can for Boston.

Boston elevation spreadsheet and course profile on my treadmill

Boston elevation spreadsheet and course profile on my treadmill

I need to get my leg strength plan laid out (whatever I add to Coach Jay Johnson’s General Strength progression and my chiro exercises). I want to do whatever I can to improve in that regard as well as get outside at least once a week to do whatever downhill I can in my area. I also have core and upper body work to do. I’d like to add in some exercises from Sally McRae for whole body/running strength. I will keep up my usual Wharton Active Isolated Flexibility and hopefully add some Sage Rountree yoga via DVD/podcasts or YogaVibes. I’ve been reading books like Unbreakable Runner and Ready to Run as well as Build Your Runner’s Body. The concepts and exercises in those books, as well as things I learn from my favorite podcasts, will all play a part in my plan/training. I have to be careful not to do too much strength work though, as past experience has shown me it can tire my legs too much and affect my running.

I am torn between trying to soak in the experience of my first Boston (which is what most people suggest) and running as hard and strong as I can to give it my absolute best and do justice to the race, its history, and all the work and years it took me to BQ. If you’re interested, here are the posts on my BQ races: Shamrock – my first BQ, for 2015; Baystate, PR & BQ for 2016, and Richmond, 3rd BQ. I am thinking of a goal time that’s pretty ambitious even on a flat course, but I like to set the bar high. I’ll adjust during training if needed.

How has your training been going? Are you excited, nervous, both? Tell me in the comments or on twitter.

See you in Hopkinton!



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!

SUNDAY MORNING

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”.

 

THE RACE
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?

 

There! 
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.
THE AFTER
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 Tuesday: Recap, Week of Sept 8, 2014

Last week was a mixed bag, as you’ll see below. (and you’ll know if you follow me on twitter – thanks to all my tweeps for your support on Saturday!) Tuesday’s run was okay, but tough. Wed and Fri were recovery, so didn’t expect much. Thursday didn’t go the way I wanted, and neither did Saturday. Sunday was a pleasant-ish surprise. So it’s hard to tell what’s going on and how this week will be. Maybe I need to do double run days – add short recovery runs T/Th after work (not sure about Sat) to help with recovery and make the other runs a little better. I had started doing that last year right before I got injured (which I think was the effect of going from 50-80mpw in only a few months, not the adding on of easy 20-30 min runs a couple of times) and I noted that while the 2nd run itself was never that great, the next morning’s run was much better than if I hadn’t run the evening before. Fueling is an issue for me if it’s not first thing in the morning, but since T/Th are telework days, i could just eat lunch early then take some gel at the start.

(Reminder about that flu shot – there’s already a flu going around here, and the shots take 2 weeks to hit max effectiveness. If you’ve got a race in 3-4 weeks, especially with travel, it’s not too late!)

Run 60.53 miles this week. 2nd week above 60 in this cycle. I am sort of happy about this, wish I was happier. I’d wanted to have more weeks above 60, we’ll see how the rest goes.

  • T – 10.5 miles – The plan was 3-4 x 2mi tempo intervals, and I got it done! (took in as much gel as I did on my weekend long run, yeesh) 2mile warmup, then 3x2mi at (7sec slower than MGP, MGP, 6s faster than MGP) with 0.5 mi recovery after each set and 1mi recovery at the end. Hard physically and mentally, but I managed to hold out for each interval. Didn’t follow my whole routine after, as I had to go into the office after my chiro appointment. Then, the fridge/freezer died….so a little stress. Earliest tech appt late Thursday.
  • W – 6.2 miles, recovery pace. Kind of blah.
  • Th – 11.03 miles – today’s plan was either tempo intervals or easy. For the first time I can recall, I took the easy option. Ran 1.5mi warmup, 8.5mi at low end of ez pace zone, then the last mile did 0.25 faster, 0.25 faster, 0.5 faster, ending at the top end of the ez zone. No idea how I got through it – I feel like a weak wimp, but there must be some mental toughness because despite really wanting to stop a number of times, I got myself to keep going. Legs were kind of sore, and I was tired. Not feeling great. I’m starting to think some of my other physical/medical stuff – more than normal training fatigue and life stress – is affecting me, but not ready to talk about it and will require longer investigation than there’s time for right now. Still obsessing about what my goal pace should be or can be for Baystate. Today wasn’t encouraging.
  • Fri – 4.5 mi. I don’t usually run on Friday (do XT) since my long run is Saturday, but how could I not run before doing this? It was at a recovery pace and just fine. Legs felt looser after.
Boston 2015 registration

Boston 2015 registration

  • Sat – 21 miles. The best I can say is that I got it done, how I got myself through it is anybody’s guess. I’m both a wimp and mentally tough, apparently. (well, I’m very stubborn if nothing else) The PLAN was 10 miles easy pace, 10 miles goal pace, 2 miles faster than goal pace, with the last 0.25 as fast as possible. Actual: 10 miles increasing through easy pace one, 10 miles at (new, slower) goal pace (yes, I’m adjusting….) and 1 mile cooldown. Took plenty of gel. (~300 calories) I’m not sure whether I could have pulled off any more miles at goal pace, let alone faster, but one of the ways I got myself to get through the 10 was to tell myself I could cool down after – maybe you can only lie to yourself so many times to get through a run, then you’ve got to follow through. I think the goal pace was harder than it should have been given all the training I’ve been putting in and given that it wasn’t much faster than I trained for Shamrock – and that it was much slower than the pace I’d been trying. 10 at this pace, and I’d managed 8.5 at the faster goal pace some weeks ago. Truly don’t know what this all means. I am slowly realizing how much stress and poor sleep may be affecting my training, and how much stress I have been under in the last 4-5 months (much of it still present). There’s probably one or more aspects of my GI and related issues playing in as well. Not sure if I’m hitting diminishing returns on my no-grain diet (since Jan. 2013 roughly). I’d tweeted with Matt Fitzgerald and he said he’s seen athletes get great results from Paleo type diets for a while….lean out, better performance – and then it starts to go the other way (poorer performance, recovery, not sure about the weight/lean). But that’s the only data point I have on that possibility.
  • Sun – 7.25 miles OUTSIDE! Faster than I should have gone for a recovery run (I’m not very good at pacing), but less sore and bad than I expected after yesterday. Wore the below for the first time, comfy on the run.

Sustain the Pain tank from Reckless Running

Sustain the Pain tank from Reckless Running

Bike:  30 min after Saturday’s long run
Core: Skipped Monday as I didn’t get it in the AM and wanted to protect Tuesday’s run. Did it W AM, a bit modified. Skipped Friday. May need to move Core to T/Th/Sat along with other strength to give body a break…but no idea how to find yet more time on those days post-run!
Wharton flex: 6 days, skipped Tues 
Chiro exercises: Nope. No time on Tues, too sore on Th. Bleah.
Coach Jay GSM routine: 1 hard day T, 1 easy day Th (normally a hard day), easy day Friday. Sticking with wks 5-6.
Myrtl routine:  4 (days I do the Coach Jay GSM, there are some of the Myrtl moves in there)
Calf stretches: 6x 
Elliptical: None. 
Pool: none
Walk: pre-run 15 min warmups, plus 3 miles on Monday pre-interview (mind wanted to run but body didn’t feel like it wanted to)
Drills: before every run – lunge matrix, high knees, skips, butt kicks, butt kicks moving in reverse, karaoke, added front & lateral leg swings
Other: Chiro Tues, sports massage Sun.
Nutrition: Looking at nutrition again. Seem to be even more sensitive to volume with things like salads. Appetite weird, digestion slow. May not be eating enough carbs. Trying to use sweet potatoes for that. Controlling Arctic Zero early in week, as stress went up, started “treating” myself. (now I had someone tell me that xanthan gum, in all Arctic Zero, could be something I’m sensitive to – the symptoms are similar, but then again I get the symptoms without Arctic Zero too – think I’m sensitive to everything at this point….) Still avoiding nut butter, though not sure why. May just eat the darned stuff. (May do so tonight – Monday) Have been eating Terra original chips, putting extra salt on them. Had some good Taro chips (from Terra) Sunday, along with my yuca puffs. Those who worry I am not eating enough, no worries. I’d list all the food I eat daily or in a week, but you’d be really bored. It’s pretty healthy and very repetitive, since I can only eat certain things. And, if you read my Weekend Update post, you know that I tried decaf coffee made in an AeroPress over the weekend, first time in quite a while for coffee for me. Who knows, maybe the solution is to eat whatever the heck I want (except for the things that make me sick or in pain). I’m trying to only worry about the numbers on the treadmill, Garmin and chip – but you know it’s hard.

Life/work stress: You know how I thought this would get better? Yeah, that didn’t work out…doesn’t look like it will be decreasing soon due to stuff at work and in life in general. Not optimal for <5 weeks to Baystate.

My current struggles, challenges, whatever you want to call them are definitely making me appreciate how lucky I was in all areas in the buildup to Shamrock and a fairly magical race day (winds notwithstanding). I can still hope for best on race day and do the best I can to prepare, but I’m certainly not feeling the same level of readiness or confidence as I get closer to the race. I’m disappointed, deeply, that I may need to recalibrate my goals and expectations for Baystate (didn’t have many for Richmond or my ultra, but would look at those too). I also need to think about focusing on Boston. I wouldn’t say I’m giving up on my ambitious goals. I spent some time during one run thinking “well if I can do X at Baystate, maybe I can do Y at Boston and then Z at a fall marathon next year”.

I may have to think of Shamrock as my first marathon instead of my third – there was such a huge difference in my times and my training and race execution that Shamrock kind of stands alone. It may not be “fair” (to myself) or “reasonable” (not that I’m known for setting reasonable goals!) to try to cut as much time off in one training as I’d originally targeted. I ran Shamrock mid-March, recovery took a bit, ran a 10 mile race in April, the Heartbreak Hill Half in June, then started immediately with some extra training modules before the “official” 12 week cycle. It may take more of a progression – more time, more cycles – than that to get where I want to go.

It’s hard to think I may have just set up too ambitious of a goal for the time available and that that’s the real problem, not what the goal is, just when I can achieve it. But I learned the hard way in 2013 – by ramping up from ~50mpw to 70-80 in a few months and getting hurt – that trying to make the type of increases in mileage (or in this case speed) that would or “should” take years to do carefully and in a measured fashion can too easily lead to injury and having to take a break from running. I don’t want that. I’m in this for the long haul. But I DO feel like there’s a clock ticking, maybe because of my age/health, like I only have so long to do what I want to do. Wish I had some of the years back when I wasn’t training as much, but I was doing what I could then…and if wishes were horses, Wombles would ride! (anybody get that?) Certainly doesn’t lower the stress level. But it is what it is, and I will do my best to play well the hand I’ve been dealt.

Going forward, I’m not entirely sure how I’ll tweak my plan. I think I’m adjusting my goals for the race and thus the goal race pace, and will likely reflect that in my long runs. (I really don’t want to adjust, so I’m sort of dragging my heels and fighting with myself, but I think that’s what has to happen.) I’m of two minds of whether to try to continue to push toward my original goal pace in my T/Th long/speed workouts (tempo, intervals, etc.) in case I CAN actually do it – have a breakthrough or something – and because it might give me a little extra speed in the race. Feel free to make suggestions in the comments.

I’ve also got my first acupuncture appointment set for the 23rd, someone (who used to be a PT) recommended by my sports massage person. I want her to try to work on my posterior tibial tendon crankiness, sleep issues, GERD/hernia and some other health stuff. Apparently we’ll do an hour interview where she gets to hear all my concerns (should be fun for her, not) and then she tries to figure out how they hook together or don’t, we prioritize and then she starts treatment. I also am scheduling sports massage weekly if I can get it, and trigger point every 2-3 weeks (she’s much harder to get an appointment with) as well as my weekly chiro visits. At some point, I’ll return to my regular doc for annual blood tests and checks of things which may reveal underlying problems that are affecting me, but there’s no time to get that all done (tests, results, appointments) much less treat anything, before Baystate, so I’ll have to press on with what I’ve got.

Whew, that was a long one! If you’re still here, thanks for reading.

Hope you’re having a great week!



Weekend Update – Sept 13/14 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)

Before I forget – YogaVibes is offering a special deal, $150 for a full year of 24×7 online access to 50+ teachers and 1500+ classes! (more added often)  You know I love Sage Rountree‘s Yoga for Athletes…..but there are other teachers and classes as well! Though I wasn’t very consistent at using it during the trial period, I might go back and try again over a whole year of training as I know it is helpful! (and I’m always looking to improve)

This coming week sees “fridge repair – the sequel” in which the Home Depot warranty folks come out, figure out (like the first tech did) that it’s the compressor and tell me how long it will be for them to order the part and come back to fix the fridge. Meanwhile, we now have 2 dorm fridges and the chest freezer. The second dorm fridge should help, but my cookup of veggies for the entire week is probably not happening as there’s not enough storage space. Perhaps more purchasing of salads at work will happen. Other than that, a busy week at work, my chiro appointment and regular stuff.

My weekend started early as I took Friday off work for this!

Boston 2015 registration

Boston 2015 registration

 

RUN

  • Sat – 21 miles. The best I can say is that I got it done, how I got myself through it is anybody’s guess. I’m both a wimp and mentally tough, apparently. (well, I’m very stubborn if nothing else) The PLAN was 10 miles easy pace, 10 miles goal pace, 2 miles faster than goal pace, with the last 0.25 as fast as possible. Actual: 10 miles increasing through easy pace one, 10 miles at (new, slower) goal pace (yes, I’m adjusting….) and 1 mile cooldown. I’m not sure whether I could have pulled off any more miles at goal pace, let alone faster, but one of the ways I got myself to get through the 10 was to tell myself I could cool down after – maybe you can only lie to yourself so many times to get through a run, then you’ve got to follow through. I think the goal pace was harder than it should have been given all the training I’ve been putting in and given that it wasn’t much faster than I trained for Shamrock – and that it was much slower than the pace I’d been trying. 10 at this pace, and I’d managed 8.5 at the faster goal pace some weeks ago. Truly don’t know what this all means. I am slowly realizing how much stress and poor sleep may be affecting my training though. More on this in Tuesday’s Training Recap post.
  • Sun – 7.25 miles OUTSIDE! Faster than I should have gone for a recovery run (I’m not very good at pacing), but less sore and bad than I expected after yesterday. Wore the below for the first time, comfy on the run.
Sustain the Pain tank from Reckless Running

Sustain the Pain tank from Reckless Running

NON-RUN

Saturday – Most of this day, I regret to say, was spent feeling like crap about my run and my training, worrying about my race and my health, and feeling sore, disappointed, despondent and frustrated. My tweeps were a major source of comfort and encouragement, for which I thank you all from the bottom of my heart, one runner to another. DH was also a trooper, putting up with me and trying to talk me down/build me up. Additionally, my GERD kicked up worse than it has in months. Did try to enjoy TV and some snacking in the evening. All in all, a good day to have behind me.

Sunday – Post-run, there was breakfast, mostly on the porch….with my Irish Breakfast tea.

egg white scramble with artichoke hearts

egg white scramble with artichoke hearts

bacon!

bacon!

 

Then, I experimented with my new AeroPress and made a decaf Americano. It was quite yummy. Made it with decaf Starbucks Espresso Roast sweetened with a little stevia. First coffee I’ve had since Nov 2012 or 2013, when I gave it up due to GERD. I may keep this only as a treat on the weekends or other occasions, not sure I need to get into the addiction/habit again. We shall see. Cooked up a kabocha and noshed a little of that before heading to my much-needed massage appointment. MT recommended someone to do acupuncture to perhaps help with sleep issues, GERD and other things. I am more than willing to try it! Especially since I’m still having GERD today, and let me tell you, it’s NOT fun.

Post-massage, came back and finished prepping food for tomorrow’s in office day. Since, with the dorm fridges, I can only store so much, I was limited in my cooking and prep. May be supplementing during the week with tuna/salmon packets instead of usual grilled chicken, salads from cafeteria after tomorrow’s is gone, etc. I don’t really expect the Tuesday service call to be able to fix the fridge, they’ll likely have to order the compressor and come back AGAIN. (grrr) Grateful for our dorm fridges and chest freezer, but fairly annoying. Of course, when we got the 2nd dorm fridge (in the kitchen, other is in basement), certain items had priority.

dorm fridge freezer - priorities

dorm fridge freezer – priorities

And, yessss, got an email from the BAA, the next step in the process, telling me that pending confirmation of my times, I have been accepted into Boston 2015!! I’ll be checking the entrants’ database online starting tomorrow, and looking eagerly for the official postcard which will arrive in September. (Need to find a suitable frame.)

After that excitement, DH and I strolled to put some books in the library book drop and then meandered around the neighborhoods for a while, enjoying the not-hotness. Now I’m on the porch writing to you, soon to clean up for dinner and some TV before starting another week. The weekend was incredibly short, wasn’t it?

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