Wednesday, April 08, 2015
"Before I started this training cycle, and even before I had a number for Boston, I said a lot of things. I told my friend Aly after failing to qualify at Lehigh in large part because of crappy training, that the next time I trained for a marathon I wanted to do it right. Go big or go home. When I found out I had gotten a number, I told Andrew that this time it was going to be different - no complaining, no whining, I was just going to do it. And I am happy to say, no matter what happens a weekly from today, that I kept my word on both accounts.
I have never had a training cycle where I so frequently felt such pure joy for running as this one. There were moments in the middle of a long run where I would just close my eyes and feel the wind rushing past my face as I ran. Sun above, earth below, fire within. I remember a 16 miler on the course early on, on a total tease of a January day that made you believe winter might not last another 2 months. The course was packed, and the joy of having one day to run in the sunshine was contagious. I couldn't stop smiling, waving, saying hi to everyone I passed. I think I knew then: this is gonna be fun. With each long run and workout that passed, something that had been laying dormant for years began to rise to the surface: I wanted this. I wanted to fly down the BC hill on the tail end of a 21 miler, near tears with joy. I wanted to nail an interval workout and wonder when I got that strong. I wanted to run in the silence of the less heralded parts of the course and to look into the distance and imagine: the roar or the crowd, the runners around me, thousands together as one. I have put my heart and soul into this training cycle, and for once, it hasn't been for the sole reason of "PR or bust". Would I love to run a PR? Of course. But that wasn't the endgame when this started. The strength and the fast times came from the heart that went into the training, I think, and not the other way around.
There is, of course, so much general emotion surrounding this race that its sometimes hard to tease things out. But I don't think I would feel any differently if last year hadn't been marred by such tragedy. I would still be unbelievably proud to represent my team on our hometown course. I would still be hoping to PR. But would I find quite so much emotion in the silence of the woods between Natick and Wellesley, in the rise and fall of the Newton hills, in imagining that moment just past mile 23 when my friends and family will appear like a beacon to guide me home? That's hard to say. I think, at the core, I have a much greater appreciation for just how damn lucky I am, and we all are, to be doing this. To even have this chance to push our bodies to the absolute limit for the sake of that one moment - just one - when you cross the line faster than you ever have before, and everything is perfect. And to say: I am stronger than fear. Stronger than pain. Stronger than the demons that chase us. How lucky are we to be able to leave them behind?"
And here I am a year later, still feeling much the same way. Only over the last year, something else has happened: I got faster. And that is what's currently scaring the shit out of me.
Here's the thing: for a long time in my athletic career, I had an unfortunate habit of getting into my head and psyching myself out, BADLY, for big events. The most glaring example of this is my epic choke that lost me a state meet berth senior year of high school, but there are so many others scattered in the dust along the way. Falling out of a turn in my dance solo when it really counted, the epic disappointment that was Boston 2010, my last track 5K in college where I failed to PR after doing so in every single race that season...the evidence is everywhere. And the utter desolation I felt following all of those events has never gotten any easier. I have felt like a failure, and like all of my hard work added up to exactly nothing...which let me tell you, is a shitty feeling. On the flip side of the coin, we had races that I went into with no expectations, or very low ones, where I've turned out the best performances of my life. And that list too, goes on and on. Stew Chase 2013, my cross country PR, both Baystate Marathons, Madison Marathon, NYC Half....all of my PR's to date over 10K came in race where I really had no specific goal in mind. I was just there because, well, trying to run fast is really fucking fun. Over the last couple of years as I've made a resurgence in my running life, I've found myself really calming down about races in general. I show up and I run; maybe I had a few beers the night before, or my legs feel weird, or whatever, but there's no more superstitious prerace breakfast, no song I have to hear, no lucky pair of underwear. And this new carefree attitude has seemed to be working, resulting in quite a few PRs in the last few years. But there's one race that always seems to be exempt from my new policy of "if it feels good do it, and have some damn fun". And that race is Boston.
Boston, what the hell is it about you? Is it the prestige, the history, the fact that everyone knows what it's about? Is it the fact that it's my adopted hometown course, and I know every twist and turn? Is it because every winter, I have a monster training cycle and psyche myself up into thinking this is it, this is the day, I'm going to do it, finally only to get burned by the course once again? Or the goddamn weather, or my own pacing failures? Is it on a course such as this one, "if it feels good do it" just doesn't work as well as advertised? I don't know. But all I know is, this is the 4th year that I've been standing here, in the single digits of April, feeling like I'm going to barf my heart up out of pure nervous energy.
My main concern at the moment is pacing/course strategy. Which connects to the fact that I have a goal time, but am not confident enough to commit to it, having gotten burned by lofty goal times in the past (you know, I actually STILL haven't run under 3:30 at Boston, that goal I set way back in 2010 when I was nowhere near the runner I am now...). I have had my best success in races where I ran by feel and sort of just let the splits unfold in front of me - and for the most part, on days like that, the splits were always faster than I expected. Which was awesome and bolstered my confidence and I think, in turn, lead to me believing that I could continue to run fast. And what happens when I set a goal, and then find myself not running exactly as I had hoped in the race itself? Well, then my mental game goes to hell and I defeat myself in my brain, on top of whatever's going on physically...and I think we all know that a marathon is at least half mental. And that is at the heart of where I have to get myself to before April 20. I have to go into this race with joy and with heart, with the intention of running by feel, and with a plan to have fun - and yet, I need to have a goal, and most importantly, I have to BELIEVE, without question that I can get there.
Believe. If I had to sum up my life mantra in one word, I think this would be it. It has a magic to it; an aura of possibility. You can believe in fairies, or magic, or Santa Claus, or God. You can sing at the top of your lungs "DON'T STOP BELIEVING", without knowing what you're believing - and really, who cares? You're believing in something. And to be my best self; to run PRs, well, there's only one thing I have to believe. I have to believe in me. I am a diehard Wisconsin Badgers fan, and watching the team's run in the NCAA tourney this year was really emotionally intense. It's so obvious that those guys live and breathe for each other and for the sport that they play, and to come *this close* to winning it all was truly heartbreaking (though in the process they slayed the goliath of Kentucky, which may have been the most magical sporting event I've ever watched). But all that aside, their slogan for this year was "Make 'Em Believe". And I'm not sure that I've ever found a motto I loved so much, or so perfectly summed up what I need to feel when I step up to that starting line (not to mention, it has the special emotional bonus of coming from my beloved Badgers, so there's that too). How many times I'm going to repeat this over and over in my head over the next 12 days, I don't know. But I hope that by the time I cross that line in Hopkinton on April 20, I will be ready to make 'em believe, and more importantly, make myself believe.
So with that said, here are some things I know:
-I had a really, really great training cycle despite the worst winter in the history of EVER
-I ran in conditions that many other people wouldn't, and I didn't make excuses
-I have run huge PR's in the 5 mile, 30K, and half marathon since February
-6 of my long runs have incorporated a "workout" in some form (2 races, 4 long runs with GMP segments and/or fast finishes)
-Paces that used to feel completely insane to me are now relatively comfortable
-I have actually done strength work this cycle
-The Boston course is still a crafty bitch
-The weather could either be incredibly magically awesome, or horrific
Based on these things that I know, I came up with some commandments for myself:
1. The first rule of Boston is you have to love running Boston
2. You are not going to get to feel like a magical pony for the entire race. There are going to be dark times. Ass Panther hill? You're not going to be having fun. This is not a race where you can run equal splits. Accept the suck, and then get back after it. Don't let one slow split or a tough hill define your race.
3. Modify your standards IMMEDIATELY if the weather is looking unfortunate.
4. Even splits are a lie. Even effort is the key.
5. Don't be an idiot.
6. You are ready.
"Angels are singing and everything's magic": Fuck it, I'm saying it - 3:15 (the fact that this is even vaguely on the table as a goal? Is completely mindblowing to me.)
A goal: 3:18
B goal: PR (sub 3:22)
C goal: sub 3:30
D goal: BQ (sub 3:35)
Goal of utmost importance (as always): Run proud. Run strong. Run with joy.
Phew. Man. This is quite a disorganized post of randomness, but it feels way better to have it out there vs. bouncing around in my brain. 12 days...
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Stuff that happened before the race
The week leading up to the race had been fairly stressful, culminating with an obnoxious doctor's appointment to work commute on Friday and a TERRIBLE run commute home later in the day. Both of my hamstrings kept seizing up for no reason and my legs just felt off. I went to support a friend in a dance show on Friday night which did take my mind off things somewhat but I was having some doubts about how this weekend was going to go. I took the 7:30 bus from South Station which of course required getting up insanely early. Joy and I were both half asleep when we met up at the bus terminal but also both excited about the race, which kept us chatting the majority of the way to NYC. The BoltBus ride was fairly uneventful, and we arrived in the city around noon. In the first of many magical things to happen this weekend, the bus dropoff point happened to be a mere 2 blocks away from the expo...perfect? I think so. It was drizzling a bit but I literally couldn't have cared less. I was utterly giddy with the fact that I was back in my favorite city on the planet. I sort of can't explain the weird love I have for NYC. I first set foot there as an 11 year old at dance nationals and it was one of those things where I just immediately was struck by something about the city - the energy, the lights, the pulse of the city that just seems to beat at a slightly faster pace. I traveled there several times during middle and high school for dance competitions and as I got a chance to explore more of the city outside of the typical tourist destinations, my love only grew. I dreamed of eventually living in NYC, and many many years later I lived that dream for 3 months while doing an internship for PT school. If all of my previous trips to the city had been the falling in love part, getting to live there just sealed the deal. Now not only could I love the city from afar, but there were little pieces and corners of if that I felt like were a little bit mine. I hadn't been back since finishing that internship in August of 2012, but the instant I stepped off the bus I felt it again - that 'something' that only New York has for me. As I later thought to myself during the race: "Boston is my home, but NYC is my spririt animal". Yeah, just go with it lol.
We got to the expo and I was immediately struck by what a big race vibe was going on. With 20,000+ entrants, OBVIOUSLY this was a big race on par with the big city marathons like Boston, but I think I had forgotten that other races besides Boston could behave like they were a big deal as well. We got our bibs and shirts, walked around a bit, and then waited in line to get some green screen photos to be posted to facebook at various points during the race (a GREAT decision, as it turns out). I had seeded myself at 1:32, which I did not think was remotely reasonable, but our idea was at the time of sign up that maybe a faster time would hold some sway in the lottery. That seed netted me a number in the 3000s, fairly far up in the pack of nearly 20K. There's always that feeling when someone puts a number in your had the day before a race; of possibility, of nerves, of excitement.
Monday, March 02, 2015
The race start was only about 45 min from my house and with a start time of 11 am, that meant that I got to sleep innnnn - I generally wake up around 8 on weekends anyway so I didn't even need to set an alarm and had plenty of time for coffee/puppy snuggles/trying to figure out what to wear, etc. I ate a bagel with butter and had some coffee and water on the ride to Clinton, while Joy and I pretty much planned our summer racing schedule. I'll be honest, by the time we got into down and started driving up the hills near the reservoir, I was NOT pumped to race. I kept telling myself that I had to do a long run anyway, so it might as well be on a supported course where I got a t-shirt and food at the end. I had absolutely zero idea of how this was going to go. I've definitely been training consistently but the quality of many of my runs has been questionable due to the whole "snow" situation. I wanted to use this race as a gauge of my current fitness, and for the first time in a LONG time, I was nervous about what exactly that might be. The mood was lightened a little bit by the fact that packet pickup was at a middle school, where there were hilarious middle school type posters all over the walls. "Failure is NOT an option" was written in big letters over almost every doorway, there was a whole wall of random positive sayings ("Smile at everyone you meet!" "Embrace this amazing day!", etc), and my personal favorite, a giant drawing of "The Resplendant Quetzal" on a door:
All of this reminded me of the stupid crap that my WTC crew and I always used to find and take photos with at track meets, and reminding myself of the good old college days definitely calmed me down. After getting our numbers and shirts, a quick trip to Joy's car to de-layer and change shoes, and a bathroom break, we were walking off to the starting line with the 340 other crazy people who thought that running 18.6 miles around a hilly reservoir was a good way to spend a Sunday morning. On the way to the start I overheard someone say "Well, there aren't any casual runners here!". True story - this was definitely a race for the die hards in the throes of spring marathon training. We headed out of the parking lot to the starting line, and with minimal fanfare...off we went!
Mile 1 was actually mostly downhill, and I just tried to stay relaxed and let thing shake themselves out a little bit. Luckily everyone else seemed to be in a similar mindset, and there was plenty of friendly chatter about the weather and the upcoming hills going on. I actually wore my Garmin for the first time EVER in a race, more because of curiosity and the fact that I still haven't figured out how to save/look at splits after the fact on my manual watch and I wanted to see how things went down in this race. I figured out pretty quickly that "my" mile splits were not going to match the official ones; there was a guy reading off mile splits at what my watch said was 0.95 (7:05, thankfully not the actual 1 mile), and the 1 mile mark on the road came up at closer to 1.2 on my watch. The overall distance of the race turned out to be pretty much spot on (I think I came in 0.1 over, which is definitely accounted for by some bobbing and weaving) but I couldn't decide whether I should trust my watch or the road. Either way, my GPS'd 1 mile split was 7:24, which I thought to myself, OK, but that was downhill. And I KNEW this race wasn't all downhill.
The next several miles passed pretty uneventfully. I started feeling some tightness in my left calf and hamstring almost immediately, which got me a little concerned, but after modifying my stride a little bit the cramping dissapated and everything seemed OK. We started to hit a little bit more noticeably hilly terrain, with my splits bouncing around accordingly...7:45 (uphill), 7:32 (uphill), 7:20 (downhill), 7:20 (downhill). I felt like I was putting in pretty consistent effort, staying relatively relaxed and just rolling along through the ups and downs. I had originally planned to listen to music in keeping with the "this is a long run" vibe, but due to the open course headphones were strictly not allowed. Thanks to my stellar internal mp3 player, I got to have Fall Out Boy's "Centuries" (yes...the one from college football) in my head during the ENTIRE race. It's one of my pump up songs this cycle, and I definitely do enjoy it, but I just could not get 2 random snippets of it out of my head. I also picked up a friend ("shorts guy") between 4 and 5 who wanted to have a conversation about the course, crowd support (or lack thereof; I think the number of spectators I saw not at a water stop or relay exchange was less than 20), whether my hands were cold without my gloves on (answer: no, that's why I took them off). I responded as pleasantly as I could using "yeahs", "uh huhs" and vague grunts which I hoped came off as "I'm trying to run, please stop talking to me". But unfortunately we also were running at such a similar pace that I couldn't lose him either. He veered off to use the Porta Potty around mile 5 and that was the last I saw of him...or was it?
By this point, as always seems to happen, I had found myself floating between packs. I could see up ahead a group that included 2 women, one in a green singlet and one of my teammates, but I wasn't confident enough yet to try to reel them in. Instead, I focused on just "keeping the pace relaxed", which is apparently my new favorite thing to do in the early stages of a race. I guess that makes sense - if you're going to make it through a distance at a certain pace, that pace probably shouldn't feel HARD right from the get go. Miles 6-8 continued with rollers throughout (7:40 net uphill, 7:20 net downhill, 7:20 flat). I took a Caramel Machiatto Gu and some water at the water stop near 7, and I remember crossing some railroad tracks. It also started to snow some little flurries which just made me made. REALLY SNOW? GTFO. At some point in here I actually made an effort to look out over the reservoir, where I saw the tower/structure that's featured on the shirts and medals...so THAT'S what that thing was! By the end of mile 8, I had picked up a small pack of an older guy in a blue jacket and a woman in an orange jacket. The 3 of us started playing a leapfrog game, where I tended to go ahead on the uphills (WHO AM I?!) and they would both pull ahead on the downs. We chatted a bit, and the guy mentioned that we were almost at the switchback, which apparently was near the halfway point of the race. "But we have to run up a hill to get there", he said. My response? "Of COURSE we do..."
That hill up to the switchback was one of the most difficult of the race for me. It was fairly long and one of the steeper ones on the course, and I could definitely feel myself slowing as we approached the top of it and the turnaround. Thankfully just around the hairpin was a fairly steep downhill...followed by another monster climb. When I saw that hill looming out of the distance I literally said "Oh, shit" out loud. Imagine my surprise when I made another, ultimately my final pass on orange jacket woman on the way up that hill...go figure. I kept thinking of Nicole, who always used to pass me on uphills during cross country races in college. I've never thought of myself as a strong hill runner, but somehow, here I was, the person doing the passing! And over the next several miles, somehow, I continued to reel people in. With each pass, the slowly closing gap on my red-shirted teammate, and the fact that the splits on my watch were starting to say insane things like "7:15", I started to get a little bit excited. Here we were at mile 12ish, and I was still feeling REMARKABLY good. I was actually starting to enjoy the constant ups and downs, because every time one type of terrain got tiring it seemed that the tables would turn and I'd be heading in the opposite direction. The uphills weren't bothering me nearly as much as I anticipated, and I kept thinking as I passed people on the uphills, holy shit, all of that strength training you're doing is actually working!! I took a Watermelon Gu at mile 13, followed by some Gatorade as I started to feel like my right hamstring was now cramping up and I was wondering if some hydration/electrolytes would help. And they DID! After a brief period of uncertainty, I went right back to feeling good and cruising. I felt like I must have been slowing down but my watch kept telling me otherwise. 7:16, 7:14, 7:25...at some point, I realized that I was doing the absolutely unthinkable and negative splitting. And underneath it all I kept thinking to myself I STILL HAVE MORE IN THE TANK?! I was certainly getting tired, and looking forward to the moment when I could stop running, but for now I was going to be OK. "Just 5 more miles, then the big hill, then kick". "4 more to the big hill, then kick". "3 more..."
By mile 15 I was most definitely ready to get the gigantic hill that I'd been prepared for at mile 17.25 over with and be done with this bad boy. My watch was still giving me information that seemed completely absurd (7:15, 7:13), and now I was close enough to the finish that I felt like there was no longer any need to worry or hold back. I was going to PR. I was going to run a really freaking brilliant race. Hell, I was maybe even going to sneak into the age group rankings! I knew that the big hill was still coming, but that was OK. Just one more mile, then the big hill, then you're done. "Some legends are told, some turn to dust, some to gold, but you will remember meeeeee, remember meee for centurieeeeees". There was a pretty legit hill at right around 17 on my watch, which I was crossing my fingers was "THE" hill. It was tough, but I powered up it, and into a nice downhill through town. I was starting to recognize the sights again and knew that we were getting pretty damn close. Unfortunately, right ahead I could see a sharp left hand turn coming up ahead, and I saw where the runners and cars were headed after that turn. And that direction was UP.
So, who wants to run a 7-8% grade for almost half a mile at the very end of an already hilly 30K? NO ONE, that's who. I think the only saving grace of this hill was the fact that I knew that once I got up it, it was basically over. But holy shit, this thing was brutal. My Garmin tells me that I briefly slowed down to almost 9 minute pace near the top of the hill, which doesn't surprise me at all. I felt like I was dragging my carcass across the desert. And guess who passed me on that final uphill...only one person, but it was SHORTS GUY! Who had apparently been reeling me in after his bathroom break for the entire rest of the race. But then, joy of joys, I crested the hill and there was a flat leading into a downhill...and on that downhill, somehow, some way, I actually kicked it in. I dropped back down to that 7:15 pace and even picked it up to sub-7 for the last quarter mile. I saw the clock ticking down at 2:19, and all I could remember was that I had looked up my previous 30K PR and it was 2:25 something. And then it was done, and I was looking at the data that was telling me I had just run 18.6 miles in 7:26 pace. I've run plenty of 5K's at that pace in life. I just could not believe what I'd just done.
Quick race logistics:
COURSE: Not even remotely flat. I think this is a GREAT Boston prep race because there are a lot of hills, but there's lots of downhill running as well. I think if I had been paying more attention to the scenery I might have thought this was pretty. There was too much wind for me to care to look out over the water, however. If I'm being honest, I actually really really enjoyed this course. I thought it was a great challenge but there was enough downhill mixed in with the uphill to give you a reprieve. 5 or 6 water/Gatorade stops, all with very enthusiastic volunteers. Minimal to no crowd support, but I honestly kind of liked that.
SWAG: Tech long sleeved shirts, sweatshirts for overall and AG winners (I think the overall winners may have also gotten some money.) I am completely obsessed with my victory sweatshirt. There was also a solid food spread post race - soup, chips, various Little Debbie snacks, your usual bagels/bananas/oranges and Polar seltzer
$$: This race was only $40. That is absolutely frickin' amazing, and one of the cheapest New England races I've done in awhile, especially with the included shirt. Keep it upppp CMS.
Bottom line: Man, I really really liked this race. If you're training for Boston it's a perfect training run and really falls at a good time to test your fitness. Do itttt.
Next stop, NYC Half! Where I think I'm now going to have to run for a PR. Why not, right?
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
I've tried really hard to minimize my bitching about the weather and just keep trucking, but there have definitely been times (I'm looking at you, people who decided they didn't need to shovel their sidewalks AT ALL) where I've totally lost my cool. Trying to put together any sort of decent training when everything is a mess of black ice/snow/slush/some combination of all 3 is just really frustrating. There was a 2 week span in the middle of the month where I wiped out 3 times while running. The first occurred during a super frustrating run commute where I had spent most of my time running around, over, into, and through thigh high snowbanks, and when I finally reached one glorious speck of snow free sidewalk, my snow blind self caught my foot on a tree root and completely ate it, landing HARD on both knees. The situation was made even more ridiculous by the fact that, due to an unfortunate combination of forgetting pants + waiting an hour for a bus and then giving up, I was running home in shorts. Soooo I spent the remainder of my run bleeding heavily, my right knee slowly swelling up to the size of a tennis ball. LOVELY. I really can only imagine what passers-by thought of the crazy, bloody woman running by in shorts. By some miracle (and some rapid response ice, Tylenol, and compression) there wasn't much lasting damage, but I managed to wipe out on black ice twice more in the week that followed, not to mention a non-running wipeout where I awkwardly caught my messed up right knee underneath me, AND a rolled ankle in a separate incident. February has not been kind to my body, to say the least.
Another problem with this weather has been trying to get long runs in, replacing them with races, and then having said races getting cancelled. After much hemming and hawing I finally signed up for the Black Cat 20 last weekend - I wasn't planning on doing it originally because I'm racing the following weekend, but the temptation of getting in a 20 miler fully on pavement was just too much. Apparently, it was also too much for the streets of Salem, because I found out earlier in the week that the race was being postponed and today learned that it was cancelled all together! Really a bummer, because it's a great event, though I guess now I don't have to worry about racing 2 weeks in a row...
And yet. Despite the fact that a lot of my miles have been frustratingly slow due to self preservation, or the fact that I'm going to finally show up at track practice a month later than planned since the track hasn't been OPEN on a Tuesday in a month, and the fact that I'm becoming a total pro at running on ice, I am still getting shit done. I'll be finishing out the month with 2 50-mile weeks, long runs of 17, 20, and 15 (faster) miles, and this week I've somehow started to feel like I'm actually sorta kinda in shape. There are days when I have what I hope are glimpses of things to come: a 5 mile tempo run that I did in sub-7 minute pace, the fact that I banged out the last 3 miles of my 20 miler in 7:30 average just because I wanted to see if I could, the fact that I've started learning to run sub-8 pace on ice and snow pack. I just feel like things are happening, and I have a great base to build up on during Monster March. As a replacement for the Black Cat, I'm now doing a 30K race this coming Sunday, which should be a great test of fitness. I'm not really planning on racing it, but let's be honest, when I have I ever said that and actually followed through on it? The course is apparently VERY hilly so that might decrease any grand ideas I have, but I still think it will be fun to get in some longer miles on the roads without dealing with ice/cars/off leash dogs/pedestrians/unplowed sidewalks/all of the other issues that this winter has created. That's the whole point, right? Have fun, try to run fast once in awhile, and just keep on moving forward...
Monday, February 02, 2015
Yesterday I ran the Super Sunday 5 Mile race in Kendall Square with the lowest of low expectations. I signed up for this race about a month ago and it seemed like a wayyyy better idea at the time - as race day approached my predominant feeling was "ugh, I'm going to run so slowly, this is going to suck". Add to that the fact that Andrew and I spent Saturday night first at a dance event at Aeronaut Brewery (one of my favorite new places this side of the river) and then indulging in an incredible dinner at Kirkland Tap and Trotter (fried pork ribs appetizer, I think I'm still drooling thinking about it), both of which involved some beer, and we had a recipe for a not-so-great race morning. When I woke up to see that the temps were in the low teens, feels like negative temps with the windchill, my excitement continued to decrease. I spent probably double the necessary time getting my crap together before setting out; the half-mile jog to the T station felt like I was running through Jell-O. I'm almost ashamed at how negative my thoughts were at this point: Ugh, it's so freaking cold. You're so slow. Your legs are such a mess, this is just going to be embarassing. Despite taking Saturday off I was definitely feeling my 17 miles in poor conditions on Friday and with a slight hangover on top of it things were not looking so nice.
Once I got some Dunkin' coffee and got on the train, I started feeling a little bit better. Several of us had decided NOT to wear our GBTC singlets to this race (mainly because of the above mentioned "I'm going to suck and not race" thought process), which gave me an opportunity to race in THE BEST SPANDEX EVER. I found them at Target for $15, advertised as "fashion leggings" which I find hilarious because a) in what real life situation would you ever wear pants like these? and b) they happen to be made of the same cotton/poly/spandex blend as basically all of my running tights. EPIC WIN!
|These pants are my spirit animal|
|GBTC ladies in non-GBTC apparel post-race|
Race details for those interested: RaceMenu/Race Cancer consistently put on really solid events that are clearly well thought out and fun. They tend to attract larger fields and are generally pretty competitive, this race especially so, but they're definitely super welcoming to first timers or more casual runners.
COURSE: Honestly, I couldn't ask for better for a city race. I really don't particularly care about scenery when I'm racing because I'm not looking at it anyway, so give me a nice flat boring course over hilly and beautiful any day. Definitely a fast course. Well marked, clocks at miles 1, 2, and 3, at least partially closed to traffic as far as I could tell. I believe I saw a water stop as well (one of the volunteers complimented my pants, which of course made me happy). The only detractor was the 5K influx at mile 3, which maybe could be fixed by modifying the 5K course slightly? It really wasn't that big of a deal but definitely took me out of my race a little bit.
SWAG: I was a little sad about the cotton t-shirt this year (my tech shirt from the old 10K is one of my favorites) but the color is nice and the design is fairly attractive and simple. As the race has grown I can imagine they would probably need to up the price to do a tech shirt and still donate the same amount to their charities, so it's understandable. We also got a bottle opener (you could exchange it for a hat, but let's be real, I really like bottle openers). Post race party included 2 beer tickets and some food - I only took advantage of 1 beer but on a nicer day or with a heated tent I would definitely have stuck around longer. If you're fast enough to win stuff (and you need to be pretty fast), there are cash prizes and the trophies were Super Bowl trophy replicas - nice touch.
ORGANIZATION: Again, this group really puts together solid events. My only complaints would be that a few more volunteers manning the bag check area would have been helpful, and a warmer and/or indoor space would have encouraged me to stick around longer for the party!
$$: I honestly can't remember how much I paid for this race, somewhere in the $30-35 range. I wouldn't pay that for the 5K option, but I think it's reasonable for a 5 mile given how well organized the race was, the amount of swag, and the fact that part of the proceeds go to several reputable cancer research foundations and charities, which I can definitely get behind. For a larger race, I'd say they're doing a good job of keeping it affordable!
Super Sunday 5M
34:17 chip time (6:52 pace), PR (also set an unofficial 4M PR of 27:27 within the race)
216/1419 OA, 33/746 F, 21/322 F19-29
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
First official week of training done! I've been doing a bit of a buildup the last few weeks (aka, just trying to establish consistency) but this was the first week that had some structure and a decent number of miles. And for the first time maybe ever, I ran MORE than I planned to. Hopefully that's a good sign. I've got like 4 different training logs going at the moment (I use Strava for GPS, Daily Mile out of habit, and recently restarted a paper training log) but I feel like the more I see the numbers written down, the more motivated I am to continue making them. So, here's a recap of week 1:
M - 2 hours of dance rehearsal
T - The short run commute (5.4 miles) at moderate effort
W - Run commute with an add on loop (6.7 miles) at easier effort
R - OFF
F - Charles River run commute with 3 miles at GMP (7:29, 7:22, 7:20) in the middle, 7.5 total. There was a tailwind so I probably went a little faster than I would have otherwise. Also did half an hour of strength work.
Sa - 5.5 fairly easy
Su - 16 miles with fast finish for last 5 (descended from 7:45 to 7:30), easy middle miles with Joy and Brianna who we ran into on the river. Haven't seen her in awhile and 5ish miles flew by while we caught up. Definitely felt better than expected throughout this entire run. A very casual 16!
Totals: 41 miles, 30 min strength, 2 hr dance
Despite some awkward injury niggles in the 2 weeks prior, this week went REALLY well. It actually was frighteningly easy to hit 41 miles running only 3x during the week...I give all the credit to the glorious run commute, which saves me time, completely takes "being lazy" out of the equation as a reason to skip a run, and lets my coworkers see how insane I am. Great success! I'm going to continue to just run 5x a week, with a long run and at least 1 up tempo or hill day for the next 2 weeks. I plan to make my triumphant return to GBTC and add structured track work back into the mix in February, which will also probably lead to a jump in mileage. This is my first time doing 4 marathon cycles back to back since 2009 it's gone 3 in a row - 2 year break - 1 that almost doesn't count - another year break until I finally got back into it at Lehigh), and I'm really hoping that all of my past 2 years mileage will pay off. But, there's a lot of work to be done first! Time to get after it.
Saturday, January 03, 2015
Miles run: 1542 - this is actually quite low for me, especially considering this encompassed 2 marathon training cycles. Still, I got results, so I can't complain! I also biked just over 500 miles, which is definitely something new!
Races: 10 - 1 solo 5K, 2 doggy 5K's with Dayton, 1 "10 mile" aka 5.25 mile aka no one will ever know the true distance, 3 half marathons, 1 20-mile, and 2 marathons. Definitely jumped the average distance I raced this year by a lot! Very few short races, and none of those races were taken seriously at all (I mean, I ran 2 of them with my 25 lb dog).
PRs: 2, half marathon (1:34:05) and automatically in the 20 mile (2:30:32). Dayton also set a 5K PR this year with a 21:56! And so very, very close to a marathon PR. I'm also fairly confident I PR'd in the 10K during one or both of New Bedford/Wolf Hollow halfs, but I don't have any exact splits so I'll never know for sure.
Hardest race experience: Toss up between Harwich Cranberry Half (stupid racing strategy + out of shape = noooo fun) and Boston because of the heat.
Best race experience: Madison Marathon...Boston's hard to top, but having the race I did in the place I did made this one for me! (Honorable mention goes to Boston, Black Cat, and Wolf Hollow)
-Last long run before Boston that I did with Joy, Katie, and Sara on the course, when all of the charity groups were doing theirs as well - almost as much atmosphere as the race itself!
-The time I did a negative split 20 miler in the morning, then went to a 4 hour dance rehearsal in the afternoon
-The ridiculous 90 degree and humid Labor Day 17-miler where Joy and I wanted to throw ourselves into the river
-Every run in the freaking polar vortex
Gear of the year: Mizuno Wave Sayonara, hands down. Never thought I would make it through a marathon in a semi-lightweight shoe, but these babies delivered and MORE. I'm in love.
Not running related...books read: 50!! I set this as a NY resolution in 2013 and failed, so I was seriously determined in 2014. It came down to the wire (I finished #50 on Christmas) but I succeeded! I may do a post on all of this year's books at some point in the future.
So...what about 2015?! Plans, goals, resolutions, do I have them? Well, kind of. If there's one thing I learned this year, it's that putting an exact specific number that must be hit at all costs do or die out there is just asking to be frustrated. Particularly when it comes to certain spring marathons where the weather odds have not been in my favor in any year I've run it so far. I already have my race calender planned pretty much through the spring, but I don't have any super-specific goals for any of those races. Or I just refuse to put therm out there right now. But that being said, here are some generalities:
1. Have a good race at Boston. Honestly, after running Madison I am much more confident that I COULD PR on a hillier course, even Boston, but the weather is just too damn unpredictable. If the day is perfect, it could be a perfect race. Or it could not. But I really want to take what the day gives me and use it to the absolute fullest, just like I did last year.
2. Mother fucking strength training. I think I've said this every. single. year. but this year I swear I'm serious. I've seen some big gains this past year but I feel like I'm stuck in a bit of a plateau, and it's going to take more than just more miles to take my running to the next level.
3. Race more "for fun" - 5Ks, 5 milers, maybe some track or cross country, maybe some more random halfs - I really, really enjoyed the Wolf Hollow Half that I ran completely for shits and giggles and I would love to do that more often.
4. Fine. FINE. I want a 3:19 marathon, damn it! I really don't care if I PR in the half this year (although that would of course be nice). I really don't care if I PR in the 5K ever again (that may not even be reasonable). But all signs point to my having the POTENTIAL to run under 3:19:59, and I want to use the past 2 years of base training to get it done.
2015 race schedule (so far, bolded races are 100% certain):
-1/25/15: GBTC Invite, possibly a 3K or mile
-2/2/15: Super Sunday 5 miler (auto PR! yeah!)
-2/22/15: Amherst 10 miler, maybe
-3/1/15: Black Cat 20 miler, maybe
-3/15/15: NYC HALF!
-4/20/15: Boston Marathon
-5/24/15: Vermont City Marathon...maybe...yeah, I said it, 2 spring marathons whaaat?! But Memorial Day Weekend + my BIRTHDAY weekend + supposedly flat course + I <3 grand="" indeed...="" p="" prix="" road="" tempting="" trip="verrrrry" vermont="">Everything after that? Totally up in the air! I may forgo a fall marathon to train for a 70.3 tri, but a lot of that rides on how winter and spring go. So...time to get cracking!