Tag: races

Richmond Marathon Race Report (BQ #3!)

Here’s the Richmond Marathon race report….more thoughts/musings may come in another post. Just like every race is different, every report is a little different, so if I don’t cover something you expect to see or want to know, feel free to ask.

The short version: BQ #3, 2nd in 4 weeks!

Least fast of my 3 2014 races & BQs. Please don’t read that and think “Is she complaining?” and stop reading. I absolutely am not. That’s simply a comment on my finish time – which still beat BQ by 3:26!  I am GRATEFUL. I am – taking a big step back – a bit flabbergasted. Of course I pretty much always want to PR even if I say it’s not a goal (don’t most of us?), but at least part of me knew that would be pretty unlikely without magic dust or something similar. But I DO know that if you’d told me, during injury struggles last year and 10 years ago, that I would have run 3 marathons in a year, gotten BQs in all of them (a couple pretty big ones), PR’d big time in 2 of them, run 2 in 4 weeks and be feeling pretty decent – I’d have been speechless and probably thought you were crazy or had mistaken me for someone else.

The long version (get your coffee/snack ready): 

Pretty good race!  The leaves were incredibly gorgeous, especially for a couple of miles right along the river (though that path could use some resurfacing). There’d be points where leaves would just rain down on us, glowing in the sunlight. Some were huge! The colors were something else. I tried to imprint them on my mind and kept thinking/saying “so pretty” and trying to absorb how lucky I was. I wish I could share the images with you. Having run both the half and the full at Richmond now, the full is definitely the prettier course.

As you’ve no doubt heard/read, it was very cold – below freezing at start (28 maybe, may have hit 40 by finish). I couldn’t stop shivering while standing around pre-race. Probably burned more glycogen than I expected that way….walked to start, then spent 20 min in portajohn line, then had to hustle to corral, get spectator help to take off my fleece pants and start! (My shoes’  tongues felt kind of misplaced from the pulling off of the fleece, which concerned me a bit but eventually settled out.) So my legs were completely not warmed up despite drills in the hotel and the walk over. I even think the cold affected in how my shoes felt – the road felt very hard on impact in the first few miles (and I think my feet were sorer later too). I couldn’t really feel my toes and the front half of my feet till we got through the first mile.

Fortunately, we had full sun for most of the race, and other than the bridges there were only a couple of light breezes where I thought “ooh, that’s chilly”. (the Lee Bridge around mile 16 had a NASTY crosswind for the whole half mile) We did pass through shade in a number of sections, so every time I thought about ditching a piece of my kit, I reminded myself of the possibility of shade again and kept it all. I think it worked well. I’d say it was my coldest race this year, but more sun – and less wind – than Shamrock, thank goodness. My legs were quite chilly at several points during the race, and especially during the breezes, which went right through my shorts and over my bare legs….

I wore:

  • North Face Better Than Naked Split Shorts (very light – bought some shorts the day before, but…..rule #1 “nothing new on race day” won out here)
  • Champion C9 seamless bra
  • North Face Better Than Naked s/s shirt (again, light, meshy – the race bib and vest helped some)
  • Nathan arm warmers, then a charcoal handwarmer on inside of wrist at bottom and inside upper arm under a 2nd set of arm warmers (Frank Shorter brand, fleece-lined, bought at expo – yes, I know, violating the rule). Wound up keeping that config the whole race. Managed to wash one of the charcoal packets with my kit yesterday, but no issue.
  • Manzella gloves (bought at expo)
  • Smartwool earband under North Face visor – kept the earband on until the last downhill into finish as I knew it wasn’t a great look in pix (proofs prove me right)
  • Of course, sunglasses

I went out around race pace, found a guy clipping off super-consistent miles who had to be local based on how many people were saying hi to him by name (“hi Adam!”) even in areas with minimal spectators and from how well he seemed to know the absolute best place to run in the road at any point. He was impressive in his consistency and how well he prepared for/ran corners (learned a lot from him) so I hung with him till maybe 10. I slowed down a bit, he speeded up. (Earlier, in the first few miles, I had horrible sharp pain in some of the small muscles between my left lower ribs – not exactly a stitch, maybe something to do with the vest….wasn’t sure for a little bit if I could keep going in the race if it kept up, but thankfully it passed. Maybe being so intent on watching Adam helped.)

I tried to keep pushing the pace (keeping an eye on average pace as it dropped) till about mile 16 even though I knew pretty much in the first mile it wasn’t going to be a PR day. Then I said “ok, now its’ a training run” and stopped pushing. I was getting a little more tired and feeling heavier legs as the miles went by. Eventually I got worried about how many people seemed to be passing me and what my time would be, but kept telling myself finishing was all that was important. I realized somewhere after 20 that I could beat BQ and picked it up from 23 on.

I actually had fun on the downhills! There was one long shallow one around 6-7 that I really enjoyed running. Once I got a sense of how long it was, I just got to clear road space, opened up my stride and took about 30 seconds off that mile. I knew about the super-steep one at the finish (about the last 0.3 – 0.5 miles) and tried to get ready for it and run it carefully, resulting in only one moment where it felt like my shoe scuffed or caught and I almost stumbled. I finished really fast because of the downhill, and it felt pretty cool. Seeing Bart at the end of the chute was great – though I almost ran into him as I was going so fast! But I got my high five and hug from one of the nicest, coolest guys around.

This was the slowest of my 3 races this year, but I still beat BQ by a few minutes! (average pace only 6s/mi slower than Shamrock on a much hillier – comparatively – course, 2:09 slower total time than Shamrock) Slowest BQ of year, but since I had a great BQ for 2016 at Baystate last month, doesn’t matter. This one would probably would be enough to get me in to 2016, but my Baystate time lets me register earlier and be in an earlier start wave. (I’m very excited about that and proud of my Baystate time.)

I think there were more little hills than the course profile suggested – or than I understood…since reading profiles isn’t perhaps my strongest skill.

My Garmin says this was the profile:

Richmond 2014 elevation

Richmond 2014 elevation

There was that one extended downhill I hadn’t expected to be extended, and the super-steep uphill in the late miles wasn’t where or what I thought it was. Nevertheless, in both cases, I managed well. I even found a new way of running uphill on one hill that might work better than how I usually try to run uphills.

I may not have hydrated enough. Given the cold, I’m not sure I’d do it differently….I needed to make a pit stop of much of the race, but didn’t stop. (that whole “then you have to get started again” thing…) I had a headache at dinner Saturday night. We had to keep the hotel room thermostat set into the 80s to get the room tolerably warm, so all that heated air did not help. (I pushed fluids Saturday night but woke up Sunday with a headache which dissipated quickly after allergy meds, tea and water.)

Someone tweeted an interesting RunnerAcademy piece today on how cold affects pace that suggests the cold would have affected my ability to hold pace and the energy I used/needed…but I think I run best in 30s/40s, maybe low 50s if it’s a shorter race, so it may not have affected me this much. Good to know it’s a factor though and good to keep in mind the caloric effect of trying to stay warm. (For other cold weather tips, see this.)

Should I have taken more gel to offset the cold and my pre-race shivering, which no doubt burned glycogen? Maybe. But I hadn’t trained with much more than I took, so that would have been a risk. I wasn’t hungry (once we started) or bonky, so it’s hard to tell if I’d have felt better or run faster with more fuel.

I took the same amount of gel as at Baystate (1 serving at start, then every 3 miles then half a GU Jet Blackberry gel at 25) but I may have needed more due to the cold….not sure how I would have gotten more in me though except to take it every 2 miles which seems excessive and might have caused stomach issues. Took a mouthful or two of water a few times on course (cold water!) and with the gel at 25. My EFS is mixed with a little water in the flask though, so I wasn’t completely without. I think I took in ~190 g of carbs over the race, about 50g/hour. Water, maybe 12 oz total.

From a geek perspective, my Garmin time and chip time were an exact match, which has never happened before. Also, my Garmin shows 26.36 miles, which is probably the closest to 26.2 I’ve ever gotten – glad I followed “Adam” and hopefully I can retain what I learned from him and use it in future races.

The mental game: 

I was a bit worried about how my mind would handle this race given how hard Baystate had been.

Richmond had moments of pain or discomfort (ribs, a couple of ankle twinges and a ham complaint on an uphill) or once I thought “you know, I could do the half and walk off the course” (not true, since the race split early, and would have derailed my Maniac efforts) but those moments were pretty fleeting. My legs certainly weren’t happy about the Lee Bridge and my brain/ego wasn’t happy with me slowing down. Really, I’m not sure how much happier my legs were running slower, but I pushed them hard early so who’s to say they wouldn’t have been fine if I’d gone out slower. But there wasn’t that overwhelming, continuous “I want to stop, I just want to stop” that I felt at Baystate.

I even enjoyed part of the race near the river (still in first half of race, miles 7-9ish), it was so pretty with the leaves and the sunlight and the river. I wanted a wide angle lens to take it all in. I really loved the beautiful trees along the way (I love fall colors).

I liked the challenge of following Adam and trying to run his lines and learn from him and his consistent pace.

At one point in the middle part of the race, knowing the course profile (I thought) and that we’d have an uphill ending at 18 after which it would smooth out till the finish, I told myself I couldn’t walk or use the portajohn till 18, then I could do whatever I wanted to the finish – take restroom breaks, walk, whatever – as long as I finished. Of course, I immediately would tell myself I couldn’t walk because I would get too cold, but I’d go through the promise/don’t walk cycle in my head every so often. Fortunately, my need for a portajohn seemed to vanish eventually (though it really didn’t).

Later in the race, I thought about the people I was seeing and how hard it must be for most of them in their own ways. I don’t know that running a marathon is easy for too many people, so you have to think everybody’s struggling with something, especially after mile 20 or so. I was impressed with the Richmond SportsBackers team folks, especially late in the race, coming back to encourage their runners, running with them, riding next to them, whatever it would take to get them to finish. I thought of other people I knew doing the race like Christine and Briana, and what their goals were.

When I was hurting a little, watching my average pace drop and getting passed by what seemed like lots of people, I’d remind myself by talking to myself that:

  • the goal is to finish and not be stupid, do whatever it takes to make that happen – if it turns out to be walking or running a pace that you’re unhappy with, so be it….but don’t walk because you’d get way too cold and you don’t really need to (I didn’t walk at all)


  • I’m so lucky….this is beautiful and there are people who’d kill to be able to be doing this, no matter how you might feel at the moment

I probably dropped off pace more than I needed to once the goal became “just finish”. I say this because when my brain finally kicked in and I realized that “hey wait, I can maybe still BQ”, I was able to pick up the pace by about 15-20 seconds a mile (ignoring the downhill boost). I’m glad I realized it, and it’s good to know I can make a final push like that.

I’m generally satisfied to pleased about this race, both my effort and the outcome.

I’m grateful I was able to do it, and I thank you for your support!

Miscellaneous thoughts about the race/event organization:

  • Beautiful leaves on the (heavy) medal, and pretty leaf ribbon. Blanket seems nice enough, and the finisher’s hat is kind of nice. The tech shirt – women’s cut option! – is a nice fit and drape with lower hems in front and back.
  • Gear check for the full, at least for my wave (I moved up a wave at the expo) was MUCH better than it had been for the half, both drop off and pickup.
  • The expo was well-organized, but as in past years, big enough to be a bit overwhelming, and crowded because we got there at lunch. Something about the overhead lights makes me tense and want to get out of there quickly. Probably not the worst thing as otherwise it’s some decent shopping – though I wish the organizers wouldn’t funnel you through all the race merchandise to get to the rest of the expo, a bit tacky and I tend not to buy if I feel forced in some way.
  • Nice of them to have water at every mile after 20 (earlier was every 2) but some of the streets were narrower and there was still a bit of slowing at water stops that possibly could be improved with changing placement or staggering of tables. Seemed to be plenty of volunteers and water when I came through.
  • The cheer stations are a great spirit item for some, as are the bands – but I prefer my own music and found myself getting irked at having to repeat a song after having it drowned out. This got more frequent when the water stations were only 1 mile apart. Just me being late-mile cranky.
  • There were plenty of spectators. (Best sign I saw: “Vortex Shmortex”) Even on the Lee Bridge, some of the (few) people walking would stop to cheer and clap, and the race (and maybe SportsBackers) had a few folks out there to cheer us on, one with a megaphone. On that bridge, cheers could be helpful.
  • The folks at the finish line were organized, each doing there job, including taking the top off the water for you…wish I’d noticed it was gone as I spilled a little. (however, they couldn’t answer my question as to where the bag check truck was, which was just up the road)
  • The post-race festival was probably nice, but I don’t stay at those things. I knew they’d have finisher merchandise available from running the race before (stashed a $20 just in case) but they should tell folks ahead of time as if you didn’t carry cash/credit card or have someone meeting you who did, you couldn’t buy anything. Nice to have hot food/drink (coffee, hot chocolate, pizza) available for those who could/wanted to indulge.
  • The steps/bridge and walk back to the hotel aren’t any more fun after the marathon than the half, but at least I knew to expect them, and truly, it wasn’t THAT bad. I think the walk back to the hotel probably helped me in fact, but I felt bad for some of the people I was walking with who hadn’t checked warm gear for post-race. Can’t imagine how cold it would have been to walk back in just running clothes, sweaty and cooling off, but at least they had the finisher’s blanket. I put – on top of my gear – a shirt, sweatshirt/hoody, hat, sweatpants and was okay.

Overall, I’d recommend the race and would consider running it again.

So, that’s the report! More to come in another post on post-race thoughts and what I learned. If you have questions, please ask! 




Training Recap – Week of Nov 3, 2014

Here’s last week’s training recap. 3rd week post-Baystate. Richmond is 11/15. Knock wood, legs seemed to start coming back this week.

Updated Monday night:

I’m sort of not processing that Richmond is in 5 days, and really haven’t figured out how to deal with running in 28 degrees. (short sleeve & arm warmers w/ shorts – will it be enough? in full sun, would my tank be ok?). I expect tomorrow (a day off work, thankfully) and Wednesday (telework) to be a suddenly accelerating flurry of list-making, packing, etc.

I’m also starting to get nervous, as I might have goals for the race. Yes, I know I said “to finish” and “training run”, but I may go for something else. Or I may not. Or I may start that way and back off. Goal #1 is healthy body for Boston training – Boston is 23 weeks from today. Goal #2 is to finish for progress toward Maniac. After that….but I’m not sure if I’m more nervous that I’ll 1) want to go for a goal and not have it on the day and fall short of that goal 2) not push myself and thus possibly not learn the extent of my abilities as well as test my limits (and execution, and mental toughness, and physical fitness). I guess no matter what, I’ll learn some things about myself.

Run: 41.2 miles

  • T – 10 miles, tempo intervals:  3mi warmup, then 3x(1.25 on, 0.5 jog) at 27s/mi faster than race pace, 33s mi faster than race pace, 39s/mi faster than race pace. 1 packet of Vanilla Bean GU, took some before each rep. HR132 at end. 1st rep was a little work, 2nd good, 3rd ok but harder. Same workout I did at this point before Shamrock and Baystate except I forgot the jog intervals were supposed to be 0.25, not 0.5. Oh well.
  • W – 3.1 miles at recovery pace. Better as it went along. Noticed a definite boost from my FRS chews this morning – either the new bag has a bit more oomph, or I really needed the little caffeine they provide and reacted to it. (probably the latter as the time change has left me a bit more tired this week)
  • Th – 8 miles, including tempo. (pre-Shamrock, this was a fartlek run, but Greg McMillan’s new e-book plan had this as a tempo run, which I did before Baystate, so I stuck with that workout for Richmond) 3mi warmup, 4mi at 20s/mile faster than race pace, 1mi cool. Calves very tight. 1st mi a bit hard, 2nd mi good, 3rd ok, 4th settled in but not sure how much longer I’d have gone. Used Salted Caramel Gu, split between 1st 2 tempo, 2nd 2. Reasonable. Maybe I’m doing sort of a reverse taper & peak for Richmond by accident. (it’s actually an approach but I hadn’t really planned it)
  • Sat – 13.1mi: 6 mi w/u ez pace (increased pace every 2mi), 3mi race pace, 4x1mi each 0.1mph faster than prior mile (about 7s faster per mile), finishing with 0.1mi at 0% incline (downhill) at 50s faster than race pace. Wanted to load up on GU without my usual EFS gel to buffer it, see how my stomach took it. Took a Salted Caramel at mile 3, a Blue-Pom Roctane at mile 6 (slight headache in the temples after this, which passed within a mile) and a Vanilla Bean at mile 9. I’d originally planned the Jet Blackberry – the most caffeine of all the ones I use – for mile 9, but decided to go with the less-caffeinated Vanilla in case my brief headache was from over-caffeinating. (I figured out on the run that taking the 4 GUs I plan to is almost the equivalent of my mug of tea in caffeine levels, plus the FRS chews I take beforehand on run days – might be a bit more than I’m used to.) My stomach handled them fine though, so I think I’ve got my fueling plan for the race now. Tried my North Face BTN short sleeve shirt with arm warmers – I think I can use that for the race if needed or I may just go with my tank as the vest does help keep me warmer (overnight low the night before is forecast to be 30, with race day sunny, high of 49). I’ll bring both and decide (I always bring multiple outfits for an away race.)
  • Sun – 7mi, recovery pace. Despite the gorgeous weather – and breaking with the pattern I’m trying to hold of mimicking the runs up to Shamrock and Baystate – I ran inside on the treadmill. The “reason” – I have a tendency to go too fast on recovery runs (hit goal pace in this run pre-Baystate) and the treadmill prevents that. The reason behind the reason – wasn’t sure how my legs felt or if I’d be able to push myself to hit the mileage I wanted if I went outside. And – bonus – I listened to Desiree Linden’s interview on the excellent Cloud259 podcast (they describe her in a tweet as “unflappable” and I’d tend to agree). I am enjoying learning more about this accomplished runner (5th place in 4 of the World Marathon Majors, and 2nd at Boston by seconds!) who flies under the radar. She’s smart, tough, funny and has a good perspective. I also heard a brief interview with her on Babbitville Radio. I’ll be looking for more with Desi, especially as we approach the Trials.

Bike: M: 40 min in AM, 40 min at lunch at work; 40 min at lunch at work; F 30 min in AM, 40 min at lunch at work
Core: M, W, F
Wharton flex: 5 (skipped W & F to keep dinner on schedule – gotta keep an eye on this)
Chiro exercises: nope
Coach Jay GSM routine: slacking….at best Myrtls a few days
Calf stretches: Didn’t actually count it – did them most days, multiple times. Calves have been a little tight.
Walk: 15 min before runs. Added a 30min post-work walk to test new Adrenalines.
Drills: Back to regular drills, if a bit less energetic than usual.
Other: Chiro Tues, massage Sun

Onward to Richmond!

Post-Baystate thoughts and musings

Some thoughts and musings post-Baystate.



Baystate Marathon shirt (back) & medal

Baystate Marathon shirt (back) & medal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last and by no means least:



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

The very short version:

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

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


And beat my Shamrock PR by 6:38!

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

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

Ready? Here we go!


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

What I wore (same as Shamrock):
race kit

race kit

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


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

pre-race supplements, gels, vest for race

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



Come ON where is the turn?


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

Training 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!

Friday Five – Five Race Memories

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

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

This week’s theme is “5 Race Memories”.

1st race that I remember – Frank Lloyd Wright 5k 2002

Looking at results online, it looks like I did a 5k Veteran’s Day race in 2001, and I can kind of picture the start. But the first race I remember was a 5k in my hometown in the spring of 2002. What I remember most is that it was a Sunday and it was raining pretty hard and fairly cold. I wore a yellow rain jacket from Lands End that I still have – completely not made for running but fairly water-resistant. It was my first experience running in the rain, and it completely put me off running in the rain. My socks and shoes were soaked, and the “squish squish” noise and feeling really irritated me.

Indianapolis at Lawrence Marathon 2004 (my 2nd marathon)

I’d trained to run this race in 2003, but had caught an upper respiratory infection on a plane trip just prior and ran the 5k instead (setting a PR I only broke a couple of years ago!). So I was determined to run it well, and trained really hard. I trained myself (unknowingly) into an injury, which I carried into the race thinking it was just one of those “you run, you hurt” things.

Race day was going to be colder and more windy than I’d planned for, in the 40s plus wind chill, and I remember buying a long sleeved base layer and a rain vest at a local running store the day before (both of which I still have – the vest is huge because everything was still unisex then). It also drizzled on and off, not the best conditions.

On race day I found a woman to run with, we were going at a nice pace and stayed together all the way until mile 20, when I stepped down and a horrible pain shot across the bottom of my left foot from the inner ankle to the outer bone under the little toe. I was sure I’d broken something and had to stop for a moment as the pain was so bad. I tried to run a few steps but it hurt too badly, and I told the woman to go on since I didn’t want her time to get screwed up. (she finished in 4:52) I was so upset, and mile 20 was in a state park, not on a road where someone would see me – though there was a sag wagon that came by.

Here’s where I want to make a point – do NOT do what I did. I decided I would not DNF. So I finished the race – doing the last 6.2 miles incredibly slowly. I walked, ran when I could – sometimes the ankle didn’t hurt much – and probably cried some, though at least it was raining so you couldn’t tell. I did this in cold, wind and rain, so I’m really lucky I didn’t get hypothermic. However, I’m pretty sure that I added on some additional damage that didn’t have to have happened. As I said, I saw a sag wagon at least once, and I’m sure there would have been volunteers at some point where I could have stopped. I DID finish, in pain, in 5+ hours.  But not DNFing that one race may have added months or years to my injury recovery time. Not worth it. As someone once told me, there’s a fine line between stubborn and stupid, and I definitely crossed the line.

1st race post cancer – 5k at Indianapolis at Lawrence 2006

In July 2006, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. In August, I had my thyroid removed, and in September got to ingest radioactive iodine (glow in the dark, woo hoo).

After the treatment finished, the long process of getting the thyroid meds adjusted to the right level began. Basically, this is “tweak the dose, go away, get a blood test in no less than 6 wks, have a followup with the doc, repeat”. It’s a very challenging process for a number of reasons I won’t go into but suffice to say getting the dosage to what’s right for you both feeling-wise and numbers-wise is not as simple as one might think, and it can take a long time. It’s very frustrating, and does affect your energy and running.

I was determined to get back to running though, so 2 months after the surgery, when I’d only been back on meds for a month, we drove to Indianapolis at Lawrence (6 hours) and I ran the 5k. I remember friends being really worried about me doing it so soon and telling me to walk, but I was bound and determined to run the whole thing, and I did. It managed to be only my second-worst 5k time, but I was proud of myself for doing it, and that was the start of the road back.

1st sub-2 half marathon – Richmond 2012

In the summer of 2012, I changed jobs to the one I had now and I think this has made a huge difference in my running. After a not-so-great (above 2h) half marathon at the National Half in DC in the spring, I started training for the Richmond half in November, I wanted to run with the 2 hour pace group. I lined up with a couple of other women with the same goal behind the pacer with balloons, but the pacer dropped the balloons at the start, never to be seen again. One of the women and I hung together till about mile 9, chatting when we could and passing each other back and forth at aid stations when we couldn’t exactly keep the other’s pace, and then I lost her at a water stop. I wish I’d gotten her name so I could thank her for all her support. She was from somewhere in the DC/MD area….

(I also crushed my 5k PR a few weeks later.)

BQ – Shamrock, March 2014

I still find it hard to believe this happened sometimes. I treasure it, and probably even more so for how hard it was, especially all the work I put in coming back coming back from last year’s injury. I’m amazed by how many things went right for me “on the day” and how lucky I was. My most vivid memories, I think, are of the Fort Story wind tunnel miles (and how brutally hard they were physically and mentally) and of finishing knowing I had left everything out on the course. I’m rarely proud of myself, but this is one time I am.

What are your top five race memories? What are you most proud of, race-wise? 


Pacing at HHHalf & Boston-related misc

After posting the race recap last week, I got some feedback from a reader (runner/coach) interested in more pace detail.

Some of the reasons I don’t put much detail in terms of speed in posts and tweets are the same reasons I don’t blog under my full name – privacy, safety, day job. Additionally, I know I can find myself challenged when reading the posts of those faster than I am (many folks) – they can be inspiring, irritating or depressing depending on how I feel and how my running is going….someone who to me is “fast” complaining about a “slow” time sometimes is tough for me to read. Thus you’ll note my tweets and posts talk about which pace “zone” I am in or paces relative to each other (e.g., 30s faster miles x-y). Since I’m slower than some and faster than some, I don’t want to be the cause of anyone else feeling bad, or losing a feeling of kinship with fellow runners because someone thinks I’m too different one way or another.

However, point taken that more detail might be interesting to some readers and might be useful for me to look at in the future. So what follows is my attempt at balancing detail with the other concerns.

I started the race running with a pace group, since I don’t have much experience with hills and I wanted to run with folks who did. The pace leader was clear we would run even effort, not even pace, given the hills, so some variability no doubt was in her plan as well as making sure to hit each water stop. I finished the race ahead of the pace group’s target finish time. According to the race results web site, my average pace was 7s/mi faster than the pace group’s target pace; my Garmin has my average pace at 15s/mi faster than the pace group’s target pace.

I don’t think I’m that great at pacing, given I have the treadmill to do it for me. It’s something I need to work on. When outside, I tend to run by feel (trying to not feel unpleasantly pushed, mostly) and just check my pace from time to time. In races, I generally have some idea what I’d like to run, will check my pace at mile markers or other splits, and try to adjust as I can. If I feel I’m working harder than I should be, I’ll definitely check my time and see if I need to pull back. Speeding up is, of course, usually harder….. My DH ( @mrrdeatwriterun ) tells me I tend to go out conservatively in races and then speed up at the end, possibly out of old fears of not finishing. (He may not be wrong, though I think at least now I’m more afraid of going out too fast, blowing up, and then having to trudge at a slower pace than I want to finish the race and likely in a time I won’t be happy about.) Much for me to improve upon in pacing for my fall races and Boston!

Note the mile pace info I’m using as the basis for comparison are the ones from my Garmin (since the race splits/pace aren’t to this level of detail). My Garmin shows a different average pace and finish time (Garmin was about 0.15mi longer than course) than the race results. So the below is deltas of what Garmin says is my pace for that mile with the other relevant paces.

Here’s a graph of my pace and the elevation of the race according to my Garmin (pace is blue, closer to the X axis is slower).

HHHalf pace and elevation per my Garmin

HHHalf pace and elevation per my Garmin

Note: “-“ means this mile’s pace per Garmin is faster than the other pace,  “+” is slower, both in seconds & ignoring the last 0.1 or 0.2…..

pace deltas HHHalf per Garmin mi pace

pace deltas HHHalf per Garmin mi pace

Re Boston:

I’m starting to think about what I might want or need to change, improve, tweak for Boston. It’s hard when it’s all N=1. Do I go with what worked to get me where I am, which is someplace I’m thrilled and amazed to be (BQ!), or do I change things up to see how much faster, stronger, better I can get?

One example is changing the timing of my Saturday long run. Since Boston starts so much later than I normally run, I think my training cycle starting in January will need to be adapted to start around the time I’d expect to start Boston. This definitely means I need to think about pre-race fueling. While now I take my required meds at 4 am and may be up by 6 or so on the weekend, running by 8, Boston will be different in how long between when I get up and when the race starts, and the level of activity and alertness required of me in those hours.

Another example of something I may want or need to play with is fueling. I love my EFS Liquid Shot gel, but again – can I get better performance from something else or a different approach? Fueling changes are something I want to try now, and use my training for my A race (Baystate in October) as a learning/testing ground. I don’t take food before a race or long run since my stomach tends to rebel once I start running if there’s any food in it (water and BeetElite with my supplements seem to do ok). Right at the start of a race, I take a tiny bit of Liquid Shot during with water.

Lately, I’ve seen more and more runners (Meb and OT hopefuls ultrarunner Larisa Dannis @larisa_elaine and Erin Henderson @seemomrunfar among others) talking about the success they’ve had with UCAN, which is a gluten-free “superstarch” made from nonGMO corn. It appears they take UCAN before running, and sometimes also during the run. Using UCAN would violate my self-imposed grain-free status (a choice for GI comfort and performance; gluten-free isn’t really a choice given how horrible I feel if I consume gluten). I’m wondering if it’s worth a try given the results I’m seeing/hearing.

Re my dietary constraints, some are because the items in question make me sick, some are avoided for other reasons like GERD or autoimmune concerns, and some are choices for comfort or some other benefit like lower carb eating. I have made limited exceptions to my “rules” in certain areas, for particular reasons. For example I use (isolated) whey protein for recovery and supplemental protein in bars, powders and in Arctic Zero, because the research seems to show it’s the best bet and because I can tolerate whey (possibly not casein). However, I am otherwise dairy-free due to significant lactose intolerance (as much as I miss goat cheese, yogurt, etc.)

It is challenging for me to make these consider and make these tradeoffs. I know there really aren’t dietary “police” and no one is grading me except me, though I’m my toughest critic. My performance and health/well-being are the real goals rather than conformance to rules, even my rules – but it’s hard for me to change these decisions once I’ve made them and they seem to be working out. Occasionally doing so can seem like a “failure” or “compromise”. (kind of strange, I know, but being honest here) Risk vs. reward vs. ego? A challenge on multiple levels for me.

Have you encountered similar challenges in trying to improve your running? How did you decide whether or not to stick with what’s apparently been working and when/how/why to change? What have your experiences been?

Thanks for reading!


Friday Five – Heartbreak Hill Half edition

Welcome to the Friday Five Linkup, hosted by my blog buds/local tweeps
Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!,
Courtney at EatPrayRunDC and
Mar at Mar on the Run.
Make sure to stop by their blogs for their picks and hop along to the other bloggers in the linkup, featured at the bottom of their pages!
This week’s theme is “free Friday” – pick your own topic, so may I present:

The Post of Fives from the Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Weekend

5 Things I Loved About the Weekend

  • I got to hear legendary and inspiring folks: Bart Yasso, Dave McGillivray, Sarah Reinertsen, Shalane Flanagan, Amby Burfoot, and others
  • The setting and location were outstanding. What a great concept and opportunity for people.
  • I felt like part of a big community of runners, many of whom share my interests and struggles, whether that’s women’s running, masters running, how to get faster/go longer, BQ’ing and running Boston, whatever. My tribe!
  • I loved seeing so many of the RW staff (and being able to identify them). Putting faces and conversations with the names of the people who come into my home daily/monthly and talk to me about one of my absolute favorite topics (running) was absolutely great.
  • I got to give suggestions to Liz Comeau on content for the women’s running channel she’s just joined RW to edit.

5 Takeaways

  • Running truly does unite us regardless of other differences.
  • Runners are – by and large – incredibly friendly and generous, eager to strike up a conversation or help a stranger.
  • While there were plenty of men, it felt to me like an overwhelmingly female event – I think this reflects the growing participation of women in running and in half marathon and shorter events.
  • “Run often, at different paces, mostly easy.” Jonathan Beverly, RunningTimes editor
  • All runners can/should work on hips (see recent RT article) and cadence. Jonathan Beverly

5 Things About My Fall That Were Lucky

  • I was going uphill – I think I would have been more injured (or trampled) going downhill
  • I didn’t hit my head or face or suffer any serious injury (or even break my iphone)
  • It happened early – when I was fresh enough to keep going and able to regroup, and others were fresh enough to avoid running me over
  • I was near Meghan Loftus and friend, who got me up and stayed with me (see “runners are incredibly friendly and generous”, above)
  • I learned that I could handle a fall and keep going – knowledge I hope I don’t have to use, but I am pleased with how I thought, what I did, how I checked on myself and made my decision. I’m kind of pleased with myself on a quasi-badass level for refusing to quit and finishing so well, a confidence-booster!

5 (+1) Suggestions/Comments

  • Make the aid station tables consistent in the order of the drinks available (I don’t think they were), and let runners know ahead of time. What I mean is that Gatorade is always first, last or in the middle.
  • There were a lot of stairs for runners to deal with. The expo was one thing, but all the stairs between the parking garage and athlete’s areas were tiring for Hat Trickers on Sunday going to the race and apparently people were in bad enough shape that they were falling going down the stairs after the half. Kudos to getting a volunteer there to warn people though. This may just be something folks have to accept to be on the beautiful and convenient BC campus.
  • Publicize event details as far ahead of time as possible and don’t limit it to Facebook. I found out at the event that the pasta dinner menu had been publicized on FB (which I don’t use) but I hadn’t gotten an email with any details, nor had anyone responded to repeated Twitter requests for info as to gluten-free options. Since you have our email addresses, it’d be easy to send out plenty of info that way. Allowing people to indicate special needs or submit questions to a designated account would also be helpful.
  • Much of the weekend seemed targeted to those doing the Hat Trick, and the comments at the seminars “for those of you who did the races this morning/were here yesterday” reflected that. Could feel a bit exclusionary for those “just” doing the half, which I’m sure wasn’t intended.
  • The expo could be a bit larger – not too much though. This was the first year, so I think the expo will grow. There were plenty of nice folks and good giveaways. The RW cover photo was a blast, a fun take-home! (I’d have gone to the Shoe Lab, but I think I’d stump them.) The small size wasn’t bad for me (quieter) and I wasn’t looking to buy anything. I did like being able to just sit in the stands and watch the expo and chill out/eat.
  • It was nice that some food was available at the concession stands at the expo. I didn’t realize it was from the RW cookbook for quite a while, the signage could have been bigger and better. Also, publicizing that info (and even the recipes chosen) would have helped me in determining ahead of time what I could/couldn’t eat on site. Given my restrictions, I had to assume there wouldn’t be anything I could eat. (I was right) I had to pack and carry all my food around with me, which wasn’t fun. (I do realize I’m a special case in this regard but I may not be the only one.)

5 (x2) Quotes – I love quotes

  • “Have no fear. Cold execution.” Shalane Flanagan
  • “Never cross a finish line – ever – and be disappointed. That’s selfish. There are so many people who can’t do this.” Dave McGillivray
  • “There are 2 million runners who want to be in Boston. If you are one of the ones lucky enough to be there, enjoy it.” Bart Yasso, talking to runners before the Boston Marathon
  • “Tragedy is not equally dispersed. You don’t know how long you’re going to have the body you have.” Sarah Reinertsen, talking about Jim McLaren, one of her role models
  • “Quitting isn’t an option. It’s never an option.” Sarah Reinertsen
  • “You can’t let fear or embarrassment stop you. Feel it and do it anyway.” Sarah Reinertsen, about learning to swim
  • “I don’t tell you my story just to impress you; I tell you to impress upon you the possibility that exists in each and every one of us.” Sarah Reinertsen
  • “Every step forward, no matter how small, is progress.” Sarah Reinertsen
  • “Fear less, live more.” Sarah Reinertsen
  • “We all have the potential for success; you are UNSTOPPABLE.” Sarah Reinertsen

5 Reasons I’m Glad I Made the Trip and Ran the Race

  • I got to run part of the Boston Marathon course. I have a little bit better feel for it now, and have ideas about how to incorporate course specifics into my training. It also means that Boston won’t be the first time I’ve seen some of the later miles, which I’m sure will be helpful.
  • I made new friends! I got to meet and spend some time with cool people like Alana Bonner, a tweep of mine from Montreal and Kim, a (currently) local Boston area runner.
  • I learned that I’m a little better with heat/humidity/hills than I thought and/or that I did the right things with regard to hydration, electrolytes and pacing.
  • I learned that even without access to my normal pre-race dinner and all my routine comforts, I can run a good race, and I’m able to take care of myself in slightly odd situations without it impacting my performance. (yes, some of that was surely luck, but I’ll take it)
  • My performance, with or without the “spill”, shows me I may be a little stronger/faster than I thought, and reconfirmed that all the extra work that takes time, energy and commitment (hill reps, strength exercises, stretching, drills) is WORTH IT.

Have a great weekend!



Hills, Spills & Thrills: Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Half recap

Hills  – that’s really the point of the event, to run on the infamous Newton hills….here’s the course profile according to my Garmin:

Heartbreak Hill Half course profile

Heartbreak Hill Half course profile per my Garmin

Spills – well, only one – we’ll get to that, but if you follow me @readeatwriterun you know what I’m talking about

Thrills – finishing strong AND under my goal time (and not far off my half PR) despite a challenging course (especially for a flatlander), heat, humidity, not perfect food or rest the day before AND the spill….and getting to run part of the Boston Marathon course before April. It was a terrific opportunity!

AND my pace wasn’t all over the place, despite my lack of pacing experience, the hills, the heat, etc. You can see one problem water stop though – it was more of a pace hit than the fall!

Heartbreak Hill Half pace top faster x axis zero

Heartbreak Hill Half pace top faster pace, x axis zero

Quick take: Good race, well-organized especially for the first year (but I’d expect nothing less from RW and Dave McGillivray). The hills were hills, but – dare I say this, knocking wood – not as terrifyingly hard as I’d thought they’d be or I made them out to be in my mind. That said, they weren’t coming in the last 8 miles of a marathon, so I’m not taking them lightly and plan to continue hill training.

Though it’s much later in the year than I normally race (I don’t like heat), I’d do the half again. I also find myself vaguely tempted by the Hat Trick (5k & 10k Sat, half Sun). So many people did it, but I know at least one who’s going to only do the half next year to focus on it. So we’ll see what next year brings.

Now on to the details! (get a cup of coffee/tea and a snack, this is a long one)

Saturday – the race-related parts (more on the expo/festival in a later post)

Up at 3am to get in a warmup and 2 mile shakeout run before a snack, tea and heading to the airport for a 7am flight. All went fine at the airport and on the flight, and had a really nice flight attendant.

Grabbed a cab after my flight landed around 830, not realizing I’d be approaching campus while the 10k was still going on. The road closures caused traffic backups and detours which gave me plenty of views of the lovely houses of Newton (yowza, and what landscaping), and a cab fare that was more expensive than I’d planned. I got in a little extra walking as a cop at one of the detours told the cabbie it’d be easier to let me walk. Cabbie kept driving around for a bit after then gave up and took me back to the cop. So I walked a block (me and my backpack of food, race gear, etc.) and then walked along the 10k course, probably the last 0.5miles or so, clapping once in a while. At about 930, it was over 80 and sunny, and walking up the hill toward BC, I thought, “this is not gonna be good tomorrow!”

Saturday on fast forward: expo; seminars; lots of eating the food I had brought throughout the day – was so hungry I ate about every hour;  a failed attempt to get to my hotel mid-afternoon which had me walking almost an hour and a half with my backpack on in the heat/sun; dinner of food I’d packed and convenience store purchases at tables outside the building where the pasta dinner was being held; listening to Sarah Reinertsen’s amazing story

I finally got to my hotel via cab around 845pm. The cabbie was so nice – when I mentioned my struggles to find a cab earlier and find food I could eat, he insisted I take one of his two bananas. The hotel couldn’t find my gel for the race which I’d shipped ahead though they’d confirmed receipt via phone multiple times. I went up to the room and they brought it up within a few minutes. (Turned out to be the pattern with this hotel – I encounter some minor problem, but they solve it quickly.)

I started “unpacking”, pulling everything out of the backpack I’d been lugging all day. I knew I had to get race prepped and then get as much sleep as possible. I put a bath towel down on the couch and laid out my full race kit on it including ipod, Garmin, and loaded fuel belt. I find the white background of the towel helps draw my eye to remember to look there and makes the items stand out. I made a list of the things that HAD to come with me to the race in the morning – I don’t trust myself to remember. Then I set up my post race (hot pink, from Eukanuba at the expo) bag with Ultragen, bottled water, empty water bottle, sportlegs and a few other items. I’d been crashing and feeling sleepy but getting everything laid out and the bib pinned on – with emergency info on the back, of course –  woke me up. I made some hot water in the coffeemaker (didn’t drink much because it tasted like coffee) and read a little before trying to go to sleep around 1015. I don’t think I slept much between then and 1am when I had to get up briefly, but I slept pretty well between 1 and 4am….

Sunday – race day!


I woke just before my 4am alarm in the hotel room and turned off the alarm. I thought perhaps I could get a bit more sleep before the next alarm went off at 445, but nope, so I got up around 420. I’d actually set 3 alarms: my usual 4, then 445 and 5 as backups. Given that the charming & gracious Alana Bonner @alanadbonner was picking me up at 6, I wanted to be sure to be ready! I got up and started puttering around, taking my usual pre-race (and pre-long-run supplements, including my BeetElite).

It felt awfully quiet in the hotel room and I knew it would be easy for me to get distracted and lose track of time, so I listened to an old Endurance Planet podcast episode I have stored on my iphone. It helped keep me moving, kind of like background music (but endurance sport focused) and it was one where Tawnee mentioned my BQ, so that helped pump me up. (thanks Tawnee & Lucho!) Also sent some tweets, DMs and IMs to various folks while I was getting ready. I so appreciate everyone’s support and encouragement – it helped to know you were thinking of me!

Slathered on lots of sunscreen, then added a bit more, recalling the full sun of Saturday. The RiteAid sport version I got (it came in a travel size) smells just like Coppertone sunscreen from my teenage years. I got lucky that my skin tolerated it okay as I hadn’t tested it before – I know, violating the rule. Heck, at this point with my eating and hydration on Saturday, I was pretty far past the “nothing new or different” rule. Got dressed and still had plenty of time, so back onto twitter for a bit. Alana was right on schedule, and down I went.

It’s a lovely gift from the universe when you meet someone you’ve only corresponded with and they’re just as nice and cool and interesting and fun as you hoped/thought, as well as generous and thoughtful. That’s Alana! So glad we got to meet, looking forward to our next time together!

We very quickly got to campus (thanks googlemaps! weird to hear distances in k, for my Canadienne driver) and parked. Alana had done the 5k & 10k the day before, so she was more familiar with the athlete’s village and start areas. She graciously offered to grab my bag from the car after the race – since she’d finish ahead of me – and bring it to me at our designated meeting point, building steps in sight of the finish. (see what I mean?) She put on some sunscreen and we threw stuff in the trunk.

My Garmin made its usual pre-race dive for the concrete in the garage but I caught it this time. At least it wasn’t at the start like it was at Shamrock and the Parkway 10 miler, where it picked up a ding on the edge.

Re the Garmin: The problem is the plastic band broke, and I replaced it with a Garmin velcro band, but my wrist is so small only a little of the velcro loops meet. It’s very easy to knock it apart if you hit the end of the strap, which sticks out – I’ve even done it on the treadmill. The watch face (610) is bigger than my wrist as well, so the watch always moves around. I think perhaps this third time was the charm and I’m really going to get the 620 before my next race, sooner if possible so I can train with it. (the question is white or black – I’m leaning white like Meb!) I’m also thinking of selling my 610 with HRM and footpad on ebay. Hey, why not?

We strolled toward the start, with a stop at the outdoor facilities, chatting and having fun. We stopped by the water table for a while and met up with a friend of hers (whose name escapes me, sorry!) and talked some more. I should note that at this point, I was comfortable in a super lightweight tank, running bra and shorts, especially if I was in the sun. So….I knew it was going to be a warm one. (my Garmin says 70 and sunny with 69% humidity at the start) Alana’s Garmin didn’t want to play and apparently died. Fortunately, she had a different Garmin in the car, albeit with less charge, so she went back to get it. I headed back to the portajohns but happily discovered there were campus buildings (with indoor bathrooms!) open. That just rocked. (not sure if it was intentional, but much much appreciated)

I headed back to the water table. I wasn’t going to take any, but decided to take a 2nd dose of Endurolytes (had one at the hotel) just in case. Swigged a little water with it, stuck an Energy Surge tablet in my mouth and went to find the pace group I was going to run with. The pacer was an energetic woman, tiny (didn’t come up to my shoulder!) and very experienced. She explained we’d try to run even effort not even pace, she’d take water at every stop and suggested we do too, and said she’d talk during the race and hold the pace sign the entire way. (helpful because of her size, but that’s gotta be tough) A little chat within the pace group about races we’d run, times, goals, nerves and all the fun stuff that comes up when you pack runners in corrals, and then it was time for the National Anthem. You could hear the silence roll back through the corrals as the notes carried on the warm air. It was a lovely rendition. Then the front pack was off, and shortly thereafter, so were we!

The Race 

The start was quite crowded and of course everyone wanted to stay close to the pacer. So there was a fair amount of jostling, weaving and bumping. I remember turning right after heading out the gates, and running down a road I’d walked yesterday, then heading toward a downhill and thinking, “don’t go out too fast” (echoes of Dave McGillivray in the strategy seminar). I did remember to start my iPod but couldn’t really hear it until we had gotten on the road. I kept turning it down to hear the pacer or a conversation or up to try to get the music in my head.

There were so many people it wasn’t really possible to get into your own rhythm/head and just run your own race in the early miles. It would have been almost dangerous to do so given we were limited to half the road in many places, so if – like me – you tend to run in the middle of the road, you need to sidestep the cones meant to keep you to your half. (I need to get better at this, the lateral motion is wasted energy.) Runners needed to pay attention to the hills, to manhole covers and occasional poor pavement (spoiler alert!) and to where everyone else was. I know I bumped into one runner trying to pass and though I apologized, saw from her shadow behind me that I’d unbalanced her momentarily and felt horrible about it. I was grateful it was on a flat section, not on a downhill.

According to the pacer, we were doing well on our pace even with the hills. The road we were on had some trees on it so there were little patches of shade, but not much. It was mostly full sun.

The Spill

Somewhere around mile 4, perhaps a little before, I was running uphill and caught the toe of my right shoe on something in the road. Not sure if it was a manhole cover edge (they’re recessed, so there’s an asphalt lip) or some other pavement oddity, but whatever it was, it was enough. I felt the catch and realized I was going down, and got my hands out in front of me. I slammed hard into the pavement on the heels of my hands and my knees (especially the R knee) and my right shin (road rash & bruise). Thoughts flashed through my mind about runners being “trampled” after a fall, and I moved my body to look behind me. All I saw were legs from about shorts’ end down coming at me, and I was scared. Then I heard two female voices saying “are you ok?!” and saw hands reaching down. I grabbed the hands and they pulled me up. We almost immediately turned forward and started running again.

My rescuers were two women – one whose name I didn’t get, a blonde in a blue sparkle skirt over shorts, and Runner’s World editor Meghan Loftus. (note to David Willey – having the staff in shirts so they could be identified was a terrific idea) I was a little bit shocky – first the adrenaline rush, then the pain, then the feeling shaky and like you’re going to cry, all typical after such an incident – but I didn’t want to stop. I’d been so nervous about the race, and had the stress of travel and food worries the day before – now I was running it and I didn’t want to DNF, couldn’t stand the thought. My saviors asked me repeatedly if I wanted to stop, if I was ok, told me the medical tent wasn’t far, and offered to go get medical personnel.

As we were running, I looked at the palms of my hands and saw red, so figured I’d scraped them up. I couldn’t really see much of what happened to my knees/legs given the angle, but I didn’t see blood running down. I asked them how bad it was, and Meghan ran ahead, looked back and said, “not too bad”. She wasn’t totally convincing; the look on her face conflicted a little with what she said, so I figured she was trying to give me the choice to keep going. The places I’d met the road hurt, but not in a way that suggested an injury that would affect my running (though my right VMO twinged for a minute or two, making me think ‘uh oh, the chiro’s going to have to fix that’). I didn’t feel like my gait was different. Every step just hurt my knees in a new and different way, but I didn’t think I’d be doing myself long-term damage, so I said again that I didn’t want to go to the medical tent. (I figured they’d just clean me up, but it would take a while to clean me up and then my race would be over and that was unacceptable.)

I realized after the race that I had these clots/scabs of blood on my right knee, lots of red on my right shin and a red spot on my left knee. 

legs after RW HHHalf 06-08-2014

legs after RW HHHalf 06-08-2014

Explains why the medical personnel at every aid station looked at me carefully as I passed. Very pale runner with blood on her leg? You’d be keeping an eye on her too. I can’t wait to see the on-course photos. I really want one of me that shows the injuries.

We were chatting a little, trying to get my head back into the race. Having a water stop at 4.5 (soon after the fall) helped, I had to focus on that. I knew it was hotter and more humid than any conditions I’d run in since last summer, and since I’m not an outside runner by any stretch, I thought I was probably at higher risk of dehydration. I think just prior to this station I took a swig of my gel, figuring the sugar would help not only energy but my mental recovery from the injury. I swallowed the water I could and kept going. I lost the blue sparkle skirt runner pretty soon after, but Meghan and I stayed sort of together or in the same area for a while longer.

Water stops seemed to collect bunches of runners more than they usually do – you had to be careful where you stepped and to not knock into anyone. There were plenty of stops – about every 1.5 miles – and except for one, they were well stocked. Everyone seemed to be using caution and taking water or Gatorade (offered at all stops but the first), and I saw some people carrying liquid in belts, handhelds and even a few Camelbaks – good day to do that. I don’t remember if the stops were consistent about whether water was first or Gatorade, my recall is they weren’t and if that’s the case, that could be improved. Shamrock had a water table, Gatorade table, water table order at every stop, and they publicized that pre-race, worked great.

For the rest of the race, I remember snapshots or moments over the rest of the race, and where certain things happened may be mixed up, which seems to happen to me when I try to go back through the miles:

  • starting to dump water on myself, down my back – first time ever – at the mile 6 water stop, and every time I took water after that
  • hearing the pacer, shortly after the 10k mark saying “halfway there!”
  • the water stop at 7.5 (I thought it was 9, but my Garmin thinks otherwise) that was overwhelmed – I kept yelling “water” and got to the last table, had to keep going, stopped and turned back trying to get water only to be handed about an ounce of Gatorade by a frantic young woman; I tossed it, knowing it was only 1.5mi to the next stop – I really was thinking water stop to water stop, and then “only x miles to the finish” at each one
  • lovely flower scent wafting from some of the beautiful yards on the course
  • patches of shade from leafy trees that were so much cooler everyone tried to run in them, and one breeze for about 10 seconds in the last 3 miles
  • the nice houses and yards in the neighborhoods
  • seeing the Heartbreak Bill gorilla high-fiving runners and the HHRC Newton store on a corner on the course
  • a few spectators out on the course with signs or dogs – not that many and in some places none, but there were enough runners to keep the energy up
  • the famous Newton fire station (mile 17.5 on the marathon course I think) with its Boston Strong sign up – I waved to the firefighters out front but got no response
  • the “frontage” road we ran on alongside Commonwealth for the last few miles – the pedestrian crosswalks had a foot-wide strip of concrete, maybe 8-10 rows of flat cobble-like bricks and another strip of concrete; I was already trying to be really attentive to anything in the asphalt that could be a problem like manhole covers, holes, overfills, dips, and then got the added concern of these crosswalks as I figured the bricks might be overly smooth
  • appreciating that I’d had to walk the last bit of my trek to campus on Saturday, because I recognized when we were getting fairly close to campus and paused my iPod – I even high-fived one guy I’d seen the day before (who I swear I know but I can’t place him) and another woman
  • turning into the gates of campus, then heading toward toward the finish and everyone speeding up, like when a jet surges just before you land
  • speeding up myself, seeing the long straight line to the finish, and moving to the left to try to not be behind anyone but not necessarily pass anyone
  • the announcer (not Bart) announcing my first name, pausing (my last name isn’t easy) and just moving on to the next runner
  • realizing too late that I was stopping my Garmin right in front of the finish line photographer, then double checking I’d actually stopped it
  • getting my medal a few steps later, then seeing photographers who asked if I wanted a picture with my medal (yes), then heading to the food tent and the steps to meet Alana

Post-race, Alana continued to be a terrific running buddy. She kept asking if I wanted to go to the medical tent, and I said maybe I would but after I got my drink in me, found a bathroom, etc. She went and got a security guard, who looked at my legs as I sat on the steps and said he’d get medical. Apparently in addition to all the medical support people on the course and at the medical tent at the end, they had roving medical staff too (big kudos to the race organizers, best med support I’ve ever seen). A guy came over with a bag and checked me out. He sprayed something on my right knee to clean it (guess in addition to the blood there were little pavement stones in the skin/blood) but it didn’t hurt too badly. He didn’t work on it a lot since he said it had stopped bleeding and clotted nicely. He saw things were bruising and suggested I go get ice and told me to clean it well back at the hotel. I said I’d ice it back at the hotel too. (I still haven’t iced it, and it’s Tuesday – just didn’t feel like I needed it)

Alana took this photo to share our triumph over the heat, hills and humidity (triple H threat – hey, HHHalf)

HHHalf medals shoes photo courtesy Alana Bonner

HHHalf medals & shoes photo courtesy of Alana Bonner

What I don’t remember but wish I did: the Johnny Kelley statue. I’ve seen photos of it and the course description as well as the strategy session mentioned it. I don’t remember seeing it AT ALL.

Music – I don’t recall hearing that many of my songs. I could probably only say for sure I heard less than 10 of them, identifying them in my mind with particular snapshots of road and sun. I think had the volume pretty low. I felt like the course had enough people that I needed to be paying attention and be able to hear runners around me whether or not I was talking to them. Given that we ran near a hospital with ambulances going in, and at once point a fire truck & ambulance were brought onto the course, I think it was the right decision. I prefer to take the “change the volume” approach rather than go completely without a player, that way I can make the decision real-time and the music is there if I need/want it. No song reached the 5x pinnacle of Wild Wild West in Shamrock, but I do recall playing Tusk twice – good beat for the uphill section I was on – and Raise Your Glass twice, mouthing along with the words.

Thanks for reading! To come, probably Friday – my thoughts on the festival (expo, seminars).

Read on if you want info on my race kit and lots of detail on my fueling.

Race kit
Brooks Adrenaline GTS13 with custom orthotic
Feetures socks
The North Face Better than Naked shorts
The North Face Stow-n-Go bra (iphone in ziploc)
The North Face Better than Naked tank
UltrAspire Quantum fuel belt
Garmin 620
ipod shuffle with yurbuds
The North Face visor
lots of sunscreen!

Race day fueling & hydration
Pre:  The usual supplements – Hammer Endurolytes, Endurance Amino, and Anti-Fatigue Caps, Wobenzym, Acid-Ease, glutamine, MAP.  2 FRS chews and 1 packet BeetElite (mixed with about 6oz of SmartWater). Also made sure to take my regular meds (4a), my Prevacid and my Allegra. Just before race start, I took 2 more Endurolytes with a sip of water, and a Hammer Energy Surge.

During: I think this went well. I took water at all but one stop though I wasn’t really ever thirsty. I think I got down probably 14oz of water total. I am better at drinking from a cup on the run now! Calorie-wise I took EFS First Endurance Liquid Shot (vanilla) at 4.5, 7.5 or 9 (I think, whichever stop I missed water at because I remember thinking how glad I was that it goes down ok without water) and maybe 10.5. I was trying to make sure the fall didn’t mess with my energy too much and keep up on electrolytes which the gel has. So though I didn’t feel like I desperately needed it, I made sure to take it regularly and wound up taking the whole 400calorie/5serving flask. (BTW, I don’t like the new flask tops but the new shape is ok. I’ll still use Hammer flasks at home though.) During the race I wasn’t really thirsty, I wasn’t hungry – my stomach did “re-announce” a few of the water/gel inputs but that’s fairly normal for me so I wasn’t concerned. I wasn’t queasy and my stomach wasn’t rebelling. All good.

Post: I think this went well also. I grabbed a bottle of water at the post-race food setup and took a few sips. I wasn’t really that thirsty but knew I should drink. Alana was incredibly nice and grabbed my gear bag from the car after she finished so that she could meet me and I could have my recovery drink immediately. I think it was less than 10 minutes after I finished the race when I started mixing it. I used a full 2scoops (travel packet) of EFS Ultragen cappuccino (only for races, at home I use 1-1.5 scoops) and about 12 ounces of water and swigged it down in maybe 5 minutes along with 3 sportlegs. I had a few sips of plain water as well.

When we got back to the car to head to my hotel, I opened the 11 oz bottle of Zico coconut water I’d put in the gear bag. It was warm but not hot, and still palatable, so I sipped at it and eventually finished it back in the hotel room. I got back to the hotel and took 5 MAP and 2 more Endurolytes. I brewed about 12oz of tea using SmartWater. I drank the tea, finished the Zico and ate the rest of my last JSP with salt. I had a second Zico, which I opened and started drinking; I wound up taking it in the cab and finishing in the airport. I filled up my 12oz Klean Kanteen with water from a drinking fountain for the flight. On the flight I ate a Quest bar (protein/fiber). I really think having the Ultragen immediately and taking in so much fluid made a big difference in how I felt and recovered (well) and that my Saturday hydration and eating helped as well.

Saturday fueling – different than usual so thought I’d log it since the race went well
Pre-flight – 12oz tea, 2oz chicken breast
Flight – Quest bar (protein/fiber), JSP with sunflower seed butter, 12oz matcha tea
At expo – 12oz water from fountain, coconut bread sandwich with almond butter, dried bananas, a bite of a JSP
After first seminar – half an Epic bison bar, half an apple/mango fruit bar, more water
After second seminar – other half of bison bar, more water then
1.5hours walking outside carrying my backpack looking for a cab and finding a convenience store, followed by half of 11oz of Zico coconut water, serving of kale greenola, more dried bananas before last seminar
Dinner (530pm, after second trip to convenience store, sitting outside) – Muscle Milk (vanilla), second serving of kale greenola, remainder of JSP and salt, 3/4 of a (6 serving) bag of Terra crinkle cut sweet potato chips, dried bananas, rest of the Zico, probably some more water
Hotel before bed – maybe 4oz hot water with stevia
I felt REALLY hydrated and somewhat overly carbed, but I had been getting hungry about every hour, really hungry, so I just went with it. I probably ate 1000 calories over what I’d normally eat or had planned, but it sure seemed to work out for me on race day!


Ready or Not, The Heartbreak Hill Half is Coming…

Some tweeps have been asking me if I’m ready for Sunday’s race. The answer is “I really don’t know”….and I’m a bit nervous about that. I suppose it all depends on your definition of “ready”.

I haven’t trained for hills or in warmer weather, but I am used to covering the distance. The intent of this race is to be a learning experience for me (my only chance to run on some of the Boston course before the big day) and a hill training run at a good pace. I am struggling with my expectations knowing it won’t be a PR (there’s just no way that’s gonna happen), trying to keep a “just run strong and have fun” mindset. I don’t really think of myself as competitive but I have been told (by DH) that I am, especially with myself.

I’m trying to decide whether or not to run with a pace group. At the moment, I’m thinking yes, because I don’t yet have a good feel for my pace on flat roads, much less hills. A pace group would let me just follow people familiar with the course, and help me learn a little by watching them – as well as, hopefully, keeping me from imploding from rookie mistakes.

In preparation updates, I shipped my preferred gel to the hotel today, but will bring packets of a second choice and an empty flask as backup. I also have to carry bread, nut butter, bars and some other food since my dietary restrictions mean not much of what’s readily available works for me. If I want lunch or snacks, I’m on my own. I’m not looking forward to lugging the whole kit & caboodle around all day and night, but that’s what’s got to be. I won’t hit the hotel until after Sarah Reinertsen’s speech, cabbing it there and then back to the race start the next morning. (then back to hotel post-race, and airport to fly home!)

Still TBD: what’s on my iPod, music v. podcasts. I’m leaning music, faster-paced to help me keep pushing. I love my podcasts, but I might unintentionally slow down listening to the interesting discussions. I realize the race “discourages” headphones, but I need all the help I can get! I’ll keep the volume pretty low, and if I’m with a pace group, that should mostly allay concerns about missing instructions or announcements. Of course, this means a bit of playlist tweaking and syncing has to happen in the next (gulp) 3 days as well as laundry and packing (list-making!). Hoping to have a semi-regular/relaxed Friday night, even if an early bedtime, means everything needs to be done by COB Friday. Yay for teleworking!

Also TBD: whether i get up even earlier on Saturday (need to leave the house around 5:45am) so I can get in a quick 3mile max shakeout run. Right now I’m leaning yes, but we’ll see. I find the shakeout runs help me – so do drills and a brief run before race start. I won’t have any other chance to do a run on Saturday, and while walking to dinner and back will help, a lot of Saturday will be standing and sitting (including the plane), not ideal for the day pre-race. If I don’t want to do it Saturday, I’ll need to run Friday instead of bike or my body will be even more confused as it will have had two days between runs, something that only happens post-race.

If you’re going to be at the race, the expo or the seminars, I would love to meet up with you. Get in touch ahead of time, or if you want to look for me there, I’ll probably be the only one attached to a bright green Speedo swim backpack (aka my carryon luggage). My “schedule” such as it is, is below.

Current Saturday Plan:

I expect to get to the expo around 10. (7am flight lands around 830, cab to expo) I’ll do packet pickup and see what goodies I might “need” (and what fits in my backpack). While I love that they’re doing book (and autograph card) signings, I already have many of the books, so not sure I’ll do more than wander by.

12pm Women’s Running seminar (if that doesn’t hold my interest, I’ll move to the Masters seminar)

12:45 Bart Yasso’s seminar!  (if possible given the previous seminar, not sure how long sessions last)

1:30 How to Get Faster and Go Longer

(looks like I might have some free time between these two to chat, probably not enough to get to my hotel and back)

3:45 Course Strategy – How to Run the Heartbreak Hill Half (a must, and probably helpful for me for Boston too)

I would have loved to attend the 3:45 blogging session – and hope to meet some of the panelists – but course strategy has to take priority. I’m actually surprised they scheduled anything else at the same time.

Then, I’ll walk a mile or so off campus to a casual restaurant called Boloco (seems Chipotle-like) that assures me they can meet my dietary constraints with a salad and chicken, and then walk back for the 7pm Sarah Reinertsen keynote. Can’t wait, I’m reading her book now, amazing woman. If anyone would like to join me for dinner, I’d welcome the company!

Whether or not you’re going to be at the race, sending strong and speedy thoughts my way on Sunday morning (race start 7:30 ET) would be much appreciated! If you’re racing, in Boston or elsewhere, know i’ll be sending some good vibes your way too.