Saturday, May 28, 2016

One Year Later

So it is May 28th and not quite one year but close! Obviously, the Achilles issues have been a real thorn in my side. About a week after the 2 miler, I tried to force myself to run again with a series of unsuccessful short distances. After about a week of that nonsense, I laid off for 2 weeks and tried again without results and then repeated that cycle again until I went to an Ortho in August. After a 3 second assessment, he diagnosed me with "severe Achilles tendonitis, bilateral" and told me there was nothing I could do. I was old and maybe running wasn't for me. I grabbed my shit and got the hell out of there. I've heard stories like this before so I wasn't completely shocked but I was pissed that I had wasted my time and I cried the entire drive home out of sheer frustration. One thing he did suggest was to take a full 6-8 weeks off and I figured he was right about that. I also got a PT referral and hoped that would be at least a little helpful. I went for the initial assessment and knew I had made another mistake. I called the office back after I got home and canceled all the follow up appts. I then proceeded to eat my feelings and gain about 20 lbs. When I was injured the year before, I got a gym membership and did lap swimming. It was a huge pain in the ass though as there is no place to swim laps in my town so I had to commute 30 minutes. Since I needed to swim around 5 am, that meant getting up at 4:20 and heading out the door. It sucked. I knew I couldn't do it again. Sometimes I walked but that really doesn't burn a lot of calories. Life got really busy in August. My son started Kindergarten and shortly after that, my mom died of colon cancer. The next few months I stumbled through life and almost forgot what it was like to be a runner. I didn't even miss it anymore because I really didn't remember what it was like. I was sad sometimes when I thought about Boston and the amazing 12 weeks of training that lead up to it but that almost seemed like a far removed life even though it was only a few months in the past. Throughout those months, my ankles still bothered me. It was hard to walk when I woke up in the morning or sat for a long time. That did get better though but at a pace so slow, I almost didn't notice. Once the holidays came and went, I decided to try running again. On January 3rd, I went out and ran 1 mile. I did it in 8:52 and it was pain free but it was pretty hard. I'm always amazed at the amount of fitness one can build and being at the opposite end of that seems to bring it into focus. The next week I did 4, 2 mile runs all around 9 minute pace. The next week I did pretty much the same but did manage one 3 mile run. My fitness was very low and it was cold out. Motivation was not good but I kept plugging away. My ankles were sore sometimes but nothing terrible. I built up slowly and decided that I needed to get healthy. I got my diet in check and bought a spinning bike. I needed more time off after each run so another workout was going to be necessary. By the end of March, I got myself up over 20 miles per week which was pretty good since I was only running 4 days per week. My longest run had been 8 miles and felt great. I decided to shoot for a 5k in early May and figured it was time to add in some speed work. I went out with a goal of 3, 1 mile repeats. Early in the very first one, I felt my right ankle pop. I had to stop the workout. I limped through a 5 miler the next morning and then a 7 miler a few days later but knew I was in trouble again. I took the week off of running and only did spin workouts. For the next 3 weeks, I did maybe one run a week just to see how the ankle felt. It was never good so I'd take another week off and try again. At the end of April, things seemed better so I started building up again. I started with 16 miles per week. The third week I was able to run 28 miles and I did a 10 miler! The first since June of 2015! This past week I was able to run 5 days and got up over 30 miles per week. Hopefully, this trend will continue. I have learned that I am going to have to be very careful with speed work. Some of my miles on long runs have actually been fairly speedy. I did a 7:50 at mile 5 of my 10 miler today and several other miles were down around 8:00 so it isn't that I can't run fast at all. I think that morning speedwork may have been an issue. Shortly after starting it is when I got hurt last year. My ankles are worst in the morning but lately, most of my runs are done at 5 am due to logistics. I'm not going to push speed any time soon but when I do, I think I'll start with strides. If that works out, maybe tempo runs. If I do speedwork again, it will have to be in the middle or at the end of the day and I'll start out with nothing longer than quarters. The biggest lesson that I have learned is that above all else, I need running in my life, even if it is absolutely recreational. If racing is going to keep that from happening, then it has to go. I'm not giving up on it completely, but it is very low on my list of priorities right now. Running 5-7 miles 3-4 mornings per week and getting a good double digit long run in on the weekend has been great and I want to keep that going. I am down to 120 lbs which is a good weight for me. Being light is going to be important too I think. I'm pretty sure I'm less likely be be injured if I'm not carrying extra weight. I really wish I could swim laps at least once per week but the pool situation here is not good. I'm considering building an endless pool in my backyard but my husband is not too keen on the idea. I'm even considering triathlons again. My husband hates that idea but I know it would be a way for me to be able to compete again and I'd be less like to get an overuse injury if I was training 3 sports. All food for thought. Right now though, I'm am just happy to be running again!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

AR Runner 2 Miler Race Recap and Some Whining

I’m just going to get all the negativity our right away. The race didn’t go well. I haven’t got my legs back since Boston. The 8k, while not a disaster, did not go well. I tried to do some speed work after that hoping to get back into things. The week after the 8k I did a 12x400m work out and it wasn’t awful. I even managed to do a mid week medium long run. That weekend though, my actual long run was terrible. It was just so humid and hot. I slogged through 12 miles and really never ran well again after that. Doing speed work that next week just seemed impossible and like a really bad idea. I did manage some strides though. After that, I took it easy the rest of the week leading up to the 2 miler. No matter what I tried to tell myself, I just couldn’t get into the idea of the race. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have run it. I should have listened to my body (and my mind-I am so burned out) and sat it out. The race only cost $7.50 so it really wouldn’t have been a big deal and we would have saved money on a babysitter.

My 2m PR is 12:32. I ran that in 2011 at an early March race. In the past, I’ve liked 2 milers. As I get older or maybe as I focus on longer distances, my speed has really seemed to take a hit. I thought I would be fine though. Just 3 months ago I ran a 5k right at PR pace. The McMillian calculator predicts I can run a 12 minute 2 miler based on my 40:46 10k time from Capital City Classic back in April. I didn’t figure I could actually do that. Brian and I have looked at the calculator and it is pretty obvious that I’m the strongest at 5 and 10k so my shorter and longer stuff will always be a little slower than predicted if I use a 5 or 10k time. It didn’t seem like running my PR time would be that much of a stretch though so I figured I’d go out between 6:10 and 6:20. When I warmed up, I felt so sluggish. It was hot and humid but it was worse than just that. My legs felt like they had no spring in them at all. I’ve had many bad warm ups that came before great races though so I didn’t worry about it too much. The attitude though… Man, I just didn’t want to hurt the way you hurt in a 2 miler, especially in the oppressive conditions. I lined up and went out at my intended pace. A quarter mile in, I knew I was in trouble. I seriously considered throwing in the towel. I have never DNFed and I don’t want to but at the same time, it isn’t a good idea to just run yourself into the ground. I decided to keep going. I went through the 1 mile mark in 6:12. I was running pretty much on pace at that point but the thought of another mile seemed pretty hopeless. A girl that is approximately my speed but that I usually beat was beside me. I tried to just keep going and let the distance pass. We stayed together until the 1.5 mile marker. She pulled a little ahead of me and I figured I’d just let her go but the next thing I know, without even really trying, I was with her again. With a quarter mile to go, she took off and I fell apart. She ended up beating me by 14 seconds and we were together with a quarter mile to go. Ugh. My time was 12:51 and the last mile was 6:31. My overall pace was 6:26 which is about the pace I’ve been running 5ks. I felt really horrible at the finish line even though I slowed way, way down. I started cooling down pretty much immediately. What an awful experience. I sulked the whole time I cooled down. I do not like feeling this way about running. I know I need to do something different but I don’t know what it is. My left Achilles was bothering me but that happens periodically. I had actually felt it on the Wednesday and Thursday run before the race. I felt it in the cool down but it didn’t feel like anything more than a little ice and some stretching would fix.

Brian and I talked on the way home and he agreed that I needed a major adjustment of some sort. He suggested getting through the Go!Mile which was the next weekend and then taking and entire rest week and reassessing. I agreed. Later that night, I went to do a recovery run and it was clear that my Achilles was more than a little sore. I decided to just skip the Go!Mile and take my rest week immediately. I was sad but it felt like the right only thing to do. I was already signed up for the Go!Mile but too bad.

Through Tuesday, the ankle hurt bad enough that it was hard to walk without a limp. I iced 3-4 times a day. I didn’t stretch because it seemed like it might do more harm. It felt a little better by the end of the day Tuesday so I went to yoga and really got it stretched out. That was the best it had felt since the race. After yoga, it continued to feel better every day. We all went to the Go!Mile because the kids were doing the Mini Mile. Brian had a great race. He did 4:40! I really wish I had skipped the 2 miler and done this race but what’s done is done. I ran with Leo and the ankle felt good although it really wasn’t a true test as it was only about 3/10 of a mile and Leo only ran about half of it. I wanted to test it out but it was pretty hot by the time we got home. I waited until 8pm and ran 3 miles. I was hoping that I’d get out there and feel great. I’ve been really missing running this week and even longed for my pre dawn runs. It didn’t go well. My left ankle hurt pretty bad after a mile or so and my right ankle started hurting too. WTH!? I haven’t had problems with the right ankle since at least 2011. I’ve had Achilles issues off and on throughout the years so it is a problem for me and I can’t be that surprised.

I have to believe that this too shall pass. This is running for me. A big series of highs and lows. Marathoning has always done a number on me and Boston is just so punishing. I was so sad a couple of weeks ago that I couldn’t do anything but run 6 milers and now I’m limping through 2 and 3 milers. Gah!!! So frustrating. I’ve been doing eccentric exercises for the Achilles that really seemed to help last time. I’m also icing 3-4 time per day. I plan on looking up more PT type things I can do and I plan on getting to yoga as much as possible. I haven’t complained on here about it but the gym I was going to shut down the location with the best yoga instructor/kids club. They brought her over to a new club but only once per week and the kids club isn’t ready yet. Just last week, they started having a Tuesday night class at a new place with a kids club and we all liked it (all being me, Leo and Darwin). She has a new Monday night class to so I’m going to try to make that as well.

From here on out, I’m going to think long and hard about marathons. I do really enjoy training for them but they aren’t my best distance and, as much as I will miss them, I don’t want to be in this type of position ever again. I know I will be from time to time because that’s just running, but I don’t want to purposely walk into the lion’s den so to speak. I do still want my sub 3:15 and I plan to do Houston if I can and it seems like the right thing to do as the time gets closer. Houston is fairly flat so it shouldn’t tear me up as much. One thing I learned in Boston training is that I’m really good at 10k! I’ve always had such a mental block about that distance and was convinced I was bad at it. I am not and I feel like I could be really happy focusing on it and 5k. I’m hoping to rehab myself and focus on the Chile Pepper 10k XC in October. If I can maintain some fitness and build back up, it would be really good timing to have a good race there and then transition into Houston training. I’m just going to stay as positive as possible and work through this. I really miss running.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Rock Run 8k Race Recap

It is that time of year. It is hot and humid and most of us aren’t acclimated to it yet. Not that anyone really ever gets used to it but you do cope better after you’ve had some time to adjust. Every year there is one Grand Prix race that is the first really unpleasant race of the seasn. The Rock Run gets that distinction this year. Brian does a lot of the work for this race so he got up early and went out to do things like mark the course and set up water stops. I stayed home with the boys until the sitter arrived at 6am. The race started at 730 and it was about a 30 minute drive to the course. Thanks to early packet pick up, I didn’t need to do anything except show up, warm up and run. It was raining when I arrived but it wasn’t a downpour. As I warmed up, I realized that it wasn’t that warm and the wind was blowing in my face cooling me down. It was almost pleasant. This did not last long. Before I even turned around for the second mile of my warm up, I was already starting to feel pretty hot and gross and the soupy air was not exactly conducive to breathing. As the sun tried to peek through the clouds and the temps went up, it soon started to feel a little like a sauna.

I haven’t felt great since Boston so I was a little worried about this race. I figured I should be prepared though and my recent speedwork was respectable. I put my Capital City 10k time in the McMillan calculator and it predicted I could do 6:30s for an 8k. Capital City was perfect weather and was pre-marathon but it also was done on a lot of miles. I didn’t taper at all and ran a 15 miler the Wednesday before the race. With the weather and the questionable legs, I figured I would go out at 6:30 and just play it by ear. I did manage to do the first mile in 6:30. It wasn’t horrible but I could tell that there was no way I would be able to keep that up. I backed off and did the second mile in 6:45. At that point, I knew I was in trouble.  I felt awful but I figured it was the horrible weather and I told myself to just keep going and that everyone probably felt as bad or even worse than I did. There was a girl a few feet in front of me so I just locked on to her and tried to focus on bringing her in. I also started to watch for the leaders. It is an out and back course and I felt like I should at least be able to see the first few people soon. For some reason, it really bothered me that I couldn’t see them yet. Finally they came into view. Brian was in second place. He looked to be running well but didn’t seem to be enjoying himself much. As I met more runners, I could see that most people weren’t feeling too good. The turnaround came just before mile 3. Ughhh… I still had nearly 2 miles to go. I was really feeling terrible. Mile 3 was 6:46 pace so at least I wasn’t continuing to slow down. I caught and passed the girl in front of me but she hung on and came back up beside me. I was in no mood to go back and forth with someone for another mile and a half but I didn’t have the energy to drop her either. Sometimes, running beside someone is helpful but sometimes it really bothers me. Today, running beside someone felt like extra weight or maybe a too warm shirt that I wanted to strip off. I just tried to hang on to my pace and, lucky for me, she fell back. At the 4 mile mark, there was a little bit of a decline so I tried to tell myself that it was all downhill and less than a mile to go. Unfortunately, the split was 6:58 so I was getting slower. There was nothing I could do though. At that point, I was just hanging on and had no fight left in me. If someone would have passed me, I wouldn’t have had the speed or the motivation to try to stay with them. I knew there was at least one girl at the turn around that was close enough to catch me and there was the girl I had passed that could also come back up. As I got closer, I really started to feel bad. All I could think about was finishing. I started to worry that I might pass out. I did every trick I could think of to get me to the finish line. I would pick short goals like telephone poles and other landmarks and just focus on getting that far. Once I got pretty close, I somehow found the strength to speed up and the last split ended up being 6:40 pace. Brian was near the finish and told me that I was probably fine but not to “put the brakes on”. I finished and really was a little woozy. My vision swam but I could tell I would be fine. After I got my chip clipped, I saw the two girls behind me finish up. They were 14 and 22 seconds behind me. The looks on everyone’s faces said it all. People were pale and drained and just looked spent. Like I said, there is one of these races every year.
Just before the turn around.

While I didn’t do great, I did good enough. I ran a 33:36 which is 6:46 pace. The only other 8k I’ve ever run was in 2002. I was actually able to find the results online and it was a 36:52 so this was a big PR even though it didn’t feel like it. I was 4th overall and the 3 ladies that beat me are typically quite a bit faster than I am so I beat everyone that I should have. It sucked hard though. I was not very happy out there so I’m hoping this will motivate me to work harder. From here until October, it is all short stuff thankfully.  The next race is the Arkansas 2 miler on 6/13 and the very next weekend is the Go! Mile.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Recovering and Looking Forward

It is 3 weeks post Boston now. I felt better than expected in the days after the race but my legs are pretty sluggish now and I can tell I need some recovery time.  The week following Boston I ran 46 miles but that is a little deceptive because Boston itself is included in that total. The next two weeks I did 42 with the longest run being 10 each week. I think I’m starting to feel better but the temps are rising so it is hard to tell for sure. I’ve just been doing easy runs but next week I’m going to start gradually upping the mileage and adding speed work and tempo runs. I’ll build up slowly over the summer and be ready for some fast running in the fall once it cools back down.

Yesterday, I signed up for a lot of races. The next will be an 8k on 5/30. I’ve only done one other 8k and it was about 13 years ago. I’m not sure it was a certified course and I don’t remember my time so this will be almost a first for me. I also signed up for the Arkansas 2 miler on 6/13 and the Go!Mile on 6/20. I better get started on that speed work! I do plan on some 5ks and maybe a 4 miler this summer as well but I’ll wait and see how my legs feel. I also want to do the Chile Pepper XC 10k in October. I love that race but I’ve never been able to do it in top form so I’m hoping I can make that happen this year.

The other thing that I must mention is that I signed up for the Houston Marathon on 1/17/16. I know, I just did one marathon and I’m already signed up for another. I’m an idiot. The thing is, after finishing Boston, I was happy with my performance on that day but I was disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to run what I know I’m capable of running. I’m certain that a sub 3:15 was in my legs that day but the course and the weather made it difficult. I really want to train and run a race that will give me the best chance to maximize performance. Houston is a fast course and the weather is about as consistently good as you can hope for.  Their guaranteed entry for time qualifiers opened on 5/6 so I felt like I had to go ahead and secure an entry. If I waited to see how my legs felt, I would have to go into the lottery and I might not get in. January will give me a full 9 months between marathons and I won’t have to start official marathon training until the last week of October. Just like weather, healthy legs are never a given so you really are always taking a little bit of a gamble. Now that I have signed up though, I’m going to try to put it on the back burner and have fun focusing on shorter distances this summer.

I’ll be back in a few weeks with a race recap of the Rock Run 8k unless something more exciting happens before that.

Book wise I have been very busy listening to the 3rd and 4th Game of Thrones books. I'm about a third of the way into the 4th one. They are long and tedious but there is no turning back at this point.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

One Week Post Boston

So the race is done and I’ve been in a weird in between place for a few days. I’ve been able to bask in the glow of a great performance which is always nice but you also end up with that strange empty feeling you get when you are done chasing a big goal. For me, it is almost like that mourning period you get after you finish a good book and you’ll miss the story and the characters and wish it could keep going. I feel like I am recovering well. I took the day after the race off and then ran 1.8 on the treadmill the next day. It didn’t feel that bad. I ran 4 miles the next day and it went really well. We were in Concord, NH so the temps were brisk and the air felt amazing. I ended up running 7:53 pace. The next day I ran 5 miles around a cove in Portland, ME. The trail was crushed gravel so it felt good to my feet and joints. It was cold and windy and I managed 7:46 pace. Running in a new place is always great. I took Saturday off while we were flying back home and then ran 9 miles this morning. Sunshine and 60 something degrees felt so hot after the cool New England temps. I took it easy and ran 8:07 pace. I do have some aches but they are minor. My left groin hurt for a couple of days after Boston but seems better now. My feet are still sore too. The worst thing right now though is my back. After carrying luggage and kids through airports yesterday and then sleeping in a weird position, my back ribs are sore on the left side. I’m also bloated and sluggish after a week of eating pretty poorly on vacation.

The good news is, I’m raring to go! I want to get faster at shorter races and I’m eager to work toward that goal. Right now, the hardest thing will be forcing myself to recover properly. I typically feel pretty good after a marathon and I’ll start training or racing too soon. I’m certain this is why I got injured last year so I have to really be on myself to go easy for a while. Next week, I’ll add a little mileage but I won’t do anything big. I’m loosely following my Boston taper in reverse and won’t do any formal training plan for another couple of weeks. My next race will be an 8k on May 30th.
I’ll probably take a break from this blog until I really get into more focused training so I’ll be out for a couple of weeks.

P.S.-Here is my favorite pic from Boston. Check out the rain drops and my red from the cold skin. As much as the weather sucked, I am starting to look back on it as a fun adventure.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


So I did it! The weather was terrible. Miserable actually and it looked like Mother Nature was going to ruin everything but it went pretty well. It was hard fought. I couldn’t run my 3:15 but I did manage 3:16:11 which is a 3 minute PR! This entry will get long because I’m into the minutia of running and racing so bear with me...or don’t. I’ve already told you the ending anyway.

Let me start with week 12. The plan was 32 miles. Monday I did 5 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon. The weather was terrible with rain most of the day. It started after my morning run which I managed in 8:30 pace. I was not so lucky in the afternoon. I hit the treadmill and did 8:10 pace. My legs were finally starting to shake out. I went to the gym for some yoga but the instructor couldn’t make it so a Piyo instructor taught the class instead. I should have walked out but I felt rude so I stayed. I’m an idiot. I got absolutely no stretching out of it and she had us do a bunch of squats and lunges. I don’t know if my gym has the worst Piyo instructors in the world or if it just isn’t a workout I enjoy but I HATE it and it is the worst thing I could possibly do on a marathon week. I was sore the next day. WHY DID I DO THIS!?!? Commence freaking out. I got up early again on Tuesday for 5 miles. My legs hurt so bad I couldn’t sit or stand without pain. The run sucked and was 8:29 pace. I went to yoga that night hoping to shake everything out but it just isn’t the same. I did get a good stretch though. My legs felt even worse on Wednesday. This was the dress rehearsal run. I’d had a lot of drama with what I was going to wear. I need to carry 4 Gu packets with me so either my shorts, top or some combination of the two has to support this. I also want whatever I wear to be flattering and functional. This is impossible for some reason. I do have an Asics top that is very functional but it looks terrible on me so I try to avoid it. I ordered several different shorts and tops trying to find something but most of it didn’t work. None of the tops worked at all and the final option arrived the day before the dress rehearsal run. I loved it. It looked good, was really supportive and it had large pockets in the back for all my Gu. This meant I could wear whatever shorts I wanted since all my Gu would be in the singlet. Unfortunately, when I ran in it, it rode up. I also didn’t like the feel of the material when it got sweaty. At that point, I was so frustrated that I just gave up and went with the old Asics top. The run itself went well except my legs still hurt. The two miles that were supposed to be at marathon pace were run in 7:20 and the overall run was 7:45 pace. Legs hurt but seem to still work. On Thursday I did 5 at 7:56 pace wearing the Asics top just to make sure it really did work. It did. Legs still felt terrible but running didn’t seem to be a problem. I kept telling Brian how sore I was and that I didn’t know what to do and he kept telling me the race wasn’t until Monday so it would be fine. I woke up just as sore on Friday. I also started looking at Boston weather forecasts. The temps looked ideal but it was supposed to rain. I actually don’t really mind the rain but it was saying the wind would be up to 20 mph from the East. That was very bad. Boston is a point to point course that runs pretty much West to East. I tried not to worry about it but I did. The Friday run was 4 miles in 8:11 and my legs did seem to feel better. I got packed and ready to go. 

Our flight left at 6 am on Saturday morning. We loaded up the car the night before, woke up at 4 am, got ready and were in the car by 4:30. Not bad considering that included dressing and loading up a 3 and 5 year old. The flights went pretty well with both kids and we ended up in Boston in the early afternoon. We took the T to the hotel, got checked in and set out for the expo. I wanted to get my bib and be done with everything so Sunday could be all resting up and relaxing. Our good travel behavior with the kids ran out on the way to the expo and Darwin melted down pretty bad. I didn’t even actually go to the expo. I just went to bib pick up and got out of there. The forecast got worse and worse every hour I looked at it. It was calling for 38 mph gusts! Brian assured me that this is measured at the airport which is right on the water so it would probably be better the further inland I was. I hoped he was right. The hourly forecasts said it would be in the 40s and raining but it would feel like the low 30s. That didn’t sound fun but I wasn’t worried about that. I ran 2 miles on Sunday morning. It was 50 degrees and windy. I ran from Cambridge across the Charles to Boston and back. I felt great! Even taking it easy, the first mile was pretty quick and I had to really hold back on the 2nd one. The soreness was finally gone. The overall pace was 7:56. I relaxed the rest of the day and even got a nap. The Boston Athletic Association sent out a warning email about the weather and suggested dressing warmly. Honestly, if you are wet, what does it matter? I had a sleeveless singlet and short shorts. I did bring gloves and I had a pair of sleeves so I figured I’d wear those. I didn’t have any pants to wear to the athletes village so I did go buy a cheap pair of those. I actually slept well but Darwin got in our bed around 5 am and I never got back to sleep. I got dressed and checked the weather. Yep. Still terrible. I wasn’t sure what to do goal wise. I knew that 3:15 probably wasn’t going to happen but I couldn’t give up all hope. I decided to go ahead and see how it felt at the race and just go from there. I had a pace bracelet for 3:15 and figured I could just add 5 or 10 seconds to each mile as needed. I like the bracelet because I try to run with an even effort meaning that each mile may be a different pace depending upon the topography of the race. has a huge database of marathon course elevation profiles and you can generate your custom bracelet based on your pacing strategy and goal. This way the bracelet doesn’t just help me keep pace, it lets me know when the hills are coming. I figured that would be handy even if I couldn’t keep up with goal pace so I took it. 

I rode the bus to Hopkinton with a girl I met from my suburb named Whitney. She was 2 corrals back from me. We didn’t even know each other when we signed up for Boston but I looked her up when I saw her on the entry list. She lives a little over a mile from me and we were able to do several training runs together. I was so glad to be able to ride to Hopkinton with her because that is a long ride to take alone when you are all keyed up with nerves.
Whitney and I freezing in the athletes village.

It started raining on the ride but stopped before we got there. The athletes village was freezing. We stood in the porta potty line forever and then found a little comfort in one of the tents. It was still cold but the wind was blocked. Before long, my corral got called and I was out of there. I kept my extra clothes on until just before I got in the corral. I took my pants off but kept my fleece hoodie. Once the corral was loaded we had a little under 10 minutes to wait. About then, the rain started. I couldn’t feel my feet at all. I considered starting the race in my fleece but when they moved us up to the start mat, I took it off. The rain on my bare neck and shoulders was torture. The gun went off and we started. Boston plummets downhill hard in the first 2 miles and is a net downhill until about mile 16. I had to really hold back to stay on pace. Besides being cold, I felt ok. The rain stopped or at least slowed down at some point and I felt ok around 5k. I was right on pace and felt relaxed. The rain started again and was sometimes just drizzle and sometimes a downpour. The wind was present and unpleasant but it was not the wall I had feared. At 10k, I was still easily on pace but I was getting colder. I’ve never had that happen in a race before. My teeth were chattering and I was uncomfortable. I was fine through 15k but I had some trouble opening the Gu packet at mile 10.
Still feeling ok at 15k.
With a lot of effort, I got it open with my teeth but I still had trouble actually squeezing it into my mouth. I was so cold that my hands weren’t working and even my forearms felt weak and useless. So useless I didn’t have the strength to squeeze a Gu packet. Before my mile 15 Gu, I was still on pace. My quads hurt and were stiff but I couldn’t tell if it was because of effort or cold. I saw a medical tent at some point and actually thought about quitting. I figured they had blankets and could get me to the finish line. I started fantasizing about warm baths and coffee. From mile 14 to 15 I squeezed my hands open and closed trying to warm them back up. I had done this on training runs in the past and it worked. No such luck today. I did manage to get the Gu open but I couldn’t get it into my mouth. Some of it went in, some of it went down my chin and a lot of it just stayed in the package. I got some water and decided I would try to make up for it by taking the packet offered at mile 17 by the volunteers. I had a similar experience there and got part of the Gu down my throat but it was not worth the trouble. At that point I was well into the Newton hills. Around mile 15, my arms started shaking so hard that I really couldn’t read my pace band anymore. I was on pace to that point and I knew mile 16 was supposed to be fast and then the climbs were slower. After Heartbreak HIll, I was supposed to drop down in the 7:15ish range. I didn’t take the bracelet off but I quit looking at it. No more Gu and no more pacing. I wasn’t giving up though because I was still doing good. I hurt so bad but it had little to do with the actual running. I did slow down for the hills but they weren’t that bad. I did feel myself tightening up though. I just really hoped that I wouldn’t cramp up in the downhill after Newton. There was one of the downhill sections between the Newton hills that was supposed to be quick but I didn’t really speed up for it. When Heartbreak came, I ran right up it and my time for that mile was 7:40 which was actually quicker than my pace band intended. I was able to speed up after that but not to the degree I had planned. At that point, I was overtaking people from the wave in front of me. Lots of people. Sometimes it was fun but other times it was obnoxious. On the hills, people would just start walking right in front of you and you’d have to dodge them. Same thing once I was in Boston. I almost plowed right into a couple of people because they abruptly stopped. Sometime around mile 20, I botched a water grab so bad that it went all over me and the volunteer. My dexterity was a joke at that point so I gave up water too. I put my head down and just ran for the finish line. The crowds were great despite the weather but I had my head down and was just thinking about running. The wind did start to suck and I had to reach up and tighten my hat because it almost blew off my head a couple of times. It also tore into you like a dagger. I already felt like I couldn’t get any colder and the wind made me feel like I was going to freeze solid. Before I knew it though, I was at the Citgo sign with 1 mile to go. The last mile in Boston flies by. Even in 2008 when I completely fell apart, that mile was over before I could blink. This time when I turned onto Boylston, the finish didn’t seem a lifetime away. It also wasn’t as crowded. I had a clear path and I could run. I could also see the 26 mile marker. I completely missed it in 2008. I ran for it and then ran to the line. The fact that it wasn’t my ideal goal was not even on my mind. That weather sucked, the course is hard regardless of conditions and it is freakin Boston! 3:16 is a 3 minute PR so I smashed my secondary goal of setting a personal best. They hadn’t switched to clock over from the 2nd wave yet so it said 3:40 something. When I stopped running, my legs tightened up so hard that I had a weird floating sensation. I felt very bad and I had a pretty long walk to get to the T. I was cold. Like I want to just scream cold. My teeth chattered so hard that my jaw got sore. They gave us our medal first and we had to walk what seemed like eternity to get a blanket. The blankets were nice. They had armholes, a hood and they velcroed shut. A volunteer very carefully helped me into mine and I love her for that. They handed us food. I was not hungry but knew I had a good trek back to the hotel and should eat something. Once again, my hands failed me. I couldn’t even peel a banana. I should have asked for help but I didn’t have the energy. The people in front of me were moving so slow and I felt like I would never get out of there. Once I hit Boston Common, a lot of people went into the park. I didn’t check any gear so I stayed on the sidewalk and made a beeline for the T. The wind ripped into me and I did my best to hold the blanket down over my legs. I saw the green line stop but didn’t see the first red line stop. I need the 2nd red line stop. I had a panicky moment where I thought I went the wrong way but I saw it on the other side of the street. My T pass was zipped into a pocket in the back of my singlet in a ziplock bag so it wouldn’t get wet. I kept wondering how I was going to get it out with my hands being worthless and all. I decided not to worry about it until I got down into the stop and out of the wind. I actually didn’t have much trouble going down the stairs. It didn’t feel good but I made it. A Boston police officer let me in without my card. I guess the T was free to marathoners. That was so great! I didn’t have to fumble with the card. I worried that in my post marathon fog, I would get confused about which line to take but I easily found my way to the outbound red line platform and the train mercifully arrived less than a minute after I did. Once I got on the T and sat down, I felt so much better. I was warm and I could rest. I only had 2 stops until our hotel and the stop was right in the courtyard of our hotel so I only had to walk a few feet to the elevator. I never got my room key out. It was in the ziplock baggie with my T card. I knocked on the door and Brian answered right away. I immediately cried a few tears in the most pathetic way and said something about how much that hurt. I got into the bath immediately and Brian, after giving me a hug and making fun of my stupid looking, yet functional race blanket asked what he could get me from Starbucks. I love him. I got in the bath and life got like 1000 time better almost instantly. With dry clothes and coffee, I felt like I would after any marathon except that my skin hurt. Everything felt sort of wind burned yet it didn’t actually appear to be chapped at all. I had so many messages of support and praise from friends, relatives and e-friends that it took a long time to get through them all. I felt really loved! I was also happy to see that I was my state’s top finishing female! Both of the local running stores back home had given me shout outs on their Facebook pages so that was cool. People I didn’t even know had liked and commented on the status updates! Nearly all of my local running friends PRed or ran right at PR pace. My friend Whitney had a 5 minute PR for a 3:29! In that weather and on such a punishing course, that is really something. I know how easy it is to have a bad race in Boston so it is amazing that at least one of us didn’t have a bad day. I’m still a little bitter about the weather but mostly because it ruined a lot of the experience for me. My overall feeling about the race is still negative but I’m hoping that will fade with time. Boston is magical and I had my head down willing myself to finish for a lot of that. There were a few moments out there that I did smile and think to myself how great it was to be there. I LOVE the Boston crowd. Love them. Thankfully, while my head was down and I was missing the sights, I could still hear. From Heartbreak all the way to Boylston, the crowds were insane. They were good before that too but it really got rowdy in Boston. I feel sore but not nearly as bad as I did in 2008. I’ve been up and down and in the car a lot today (the day after) and I’m getting around pretty well. I’ll try to run tomorrow and I’ll let you know how that goes. TIme to regroup and come up with a new focus and goal. I’ll let the dust settle on this one first though.
Me, Leo & the medal.

P.S. Brian, who actually wrote down “not run a marathon in 2015” as one of his goals this year, got bitten by the Boston bug and wants to go again! We may be back sooner rather than later. I feel done here though. I had a bad race and now a good one. I think doing it again would be pushing my luck. I will never say never though.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Week 11

Coming into this week I was excited to really get to scale down. Unfortunately, between the week end combination of a 10k and a 17 miler, my legs were tight and tired. I got it in my head that the Monday run was 6 miles and when I finally looked at the plan and saw 8 miles it was like someone kicked me in the gut. I tried to be positive and suck it up but my legs protested. I got it done though. The run included 10 strides and I just tried to relax for everything which ended up at 8:10 pace. Fair enough. I am tapering after all. I celebrated with a 20 minute yoga video. I’m determined to take care of myself these last few days of training and my tight legs needed to be loosened up. That night, Leo was fussy and ended up in our bed. In the middle of the night he woke up and puked all over Brian. I stayed home with him which meant I wouldn’t be able to run until Brian and Darwin got home which also meant I wouldn’t be able to make it to my usual Tuesday night yoga class. I pulled out another DVD and did 25 minutes of yoga while Leo napped. I set out for an 8 miler with 3 mile repeats at 5k pace around 5pm. It was 80 degrees. In my 3 mile warm up it became pretty clear that mile repeats were a bad idea. I went ahead and did one at 6:45 pace. That was all I could do. That isn’t even my 10k pace. That isn’t even my OLD 10k pace. With Boston less than 2 weeks away, I decided to just finish the mileage. I’m not worried about my speed. I’m PRing or near PRing at short distances. The speed is there. I squeezed in another 20 minutes of yoga for good measure. Since the Wednesday run was only 7 miles I got up at 5 am and ran it. I managed 8:18 pace with the legs still feeling tight and tired. Can’t complain though because NO WEDNESDAY MEDIUM LONG RUN! Seriously, those were the worst! Once again, I managed a 20 minute yoga DVD. It is my goal to get as much yoga as possible for the rest of the taper. I was up again at 5am on Thursday for a 5 miler. 8:21 pace this time. On my way to the power yoga class I like to do on Thursday night, we drove into a storm with hail, crazy wind and like no visibility. Traffic came to a complete halt so I turned into a neighborhood and went back home. Leo was with me and was very freaked out by the hail hitting the car. We made it home but it was quite an adventure. A huge tree fell and completely obstructed the road at one point. I drove on the sidewalk to get around it. The universe just really doesn’t want me at a yoga class this week! Oh well. I did manage a 20 minute yoga DVD when I got home. I took Friday off. On Saturday I did my last double digit run. I did the 13 miles at 7:58 pace and the legs felt ok. I always feel like my legs should feel amazing during the taper but they never do. Brian ran the 1500 at a college meet that afternoon and had a really good race. We then went to a get together at a friend’s house with lots of people that are also heading to Boston. Both of our boys ended up with their shirts off and ultimately, Leo ended up completely naked. It was fun. Before we had kids, I felt like I was a big part of our local running community and that I knew most everyone that was around. Brian has managed to stay ingrained but I’ve missed a lot and I feel like I know less and less people. I used to go to a race and know everyone at the starting line and I’ve really felt like a stranger lately. It was nice to get to know some of the newer crowd. Brian worked on Sunday so I had to wait until 5pm to do my run. It was only 5 miles but it was 80 degrees. I still managed 7:57 pace.

Next Week’s Plan:
M-Recovery 5mi am, 4mi pm
T-Recovery 5mi
W-Dress Rehearsal 7mi w/2mi@marathon race pace
R-General Aerobic + Speed 5mi w/6 x 100m strides
F-Recovery 4mi
S-Rest and fly to Boston!
S-Recovery 2mi

Just to give you an idea of the work that has gone into just this training cycle which officially began on 1/26/15, here are some stats.
  • 676 miles run up to this point (4/12/15)
  • 22 medium long runs completed (runs 10-15 miles long)
  • 18 books read
  • 13 hour long yoga sessions plus all the yoga I did at home
  • 12 lbs lost
  • 8 long runs completed (runs 16 miles or longer)
  • 4 races completed (2 5ks, 1 10k & 1 half marathon)
  • 2 PRs set (soon to be 3 hopefully)
  • 0 ice baths! Interestingly enough, I usually do several but I didn’t feel like absolute crap for any of this training and a lot of it was done in pretty cold conditions. Last thing I want to do after running a 20 miler in 30 degree temps is submerge myself into ice cold water for 15 minutes.
  • 0 massages! Again, a real testament to how well my body held up through this training.
I really have loved nearly every mile of this training. It was hard and some days were downright brutal (33 degrees with rain for 10 miles and sleet for the last 5) but it was so much better than any other marathon training I’ve ever done both physically and mentally. Even if I don’t get the outcome I want in Boston, I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve accomplished. Honestly, that 10k PR is one of my brightest running achievements to date and I’m not going to lie. I’m really, really proud of it. Goal wise, I’m just going to set two. The “if the universe cooperates and everything is perfect” goal is 3:15. The secondary goal is to PR which would mean faster than 3:19:16. I’m fine with either. I’ll be fine with neither too if that is the way it works out. Boston is a punishing course so we shall see but I have no reason to believe I won’t have a great race.

On the book front, I finished All the Light We Cannot See. It was haunting and wonderful but sad. I then read some much lighter chick lit. Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews. It was not really that good. I’ve just started Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. I’ve meant to read her stuff for a while but it is so popular that it is never available at the library. I’m only a few chapters in so no judgment yet.