Six in One

I’m solidly in the camp that you do not need to run every day to be a successful runner. I’ve adhered strictly to my run only three to four days/week rule for years now. That is, until last week, when I was reminded why I don’t run so much.

Monday morning I was excited to try a strength training class that I hadn’t done in years. I’ll admit, I went in a little cocky thinking that it wouldn’t be a big deal since I’ve been doing Orangetheory for more than a year now. I.was.wrong. Holy cow, an hour of strength training did me in. I was sore before the class was even over. Come 7 p.m. I get a text from my friend Ashley asking to go for a short, easy run with her. Couldn’t pass that up. We did about three miles.

Tuesday I had my usual run. I did a six mile tempo and my butt and legs felt it the entire time. I knew I was in for it on Wednesday night at OTF.

Wednesday, Orangetheory. Usually I run between 1.5-3 miles total. Yeah, not this week. This time I ran 4.16 miles of pushes and all-outs. Now I was up to three days in a row of running. That’s ok, I do that fairly frequently.

Thursday I did my first 400m intervals in a long time. With warm up and cool down, that was a total of 5.75 miles. That was my third day in a row of intense running, fourth day in a row of running. My body was feeling it.

I took Friday completely off. In fact I think I only took 6000 steps the entire day. I had the Rice Lake Classic to run Saturday morning and I didn’t want to totally blow it after four days and 19+ miles.

Saturday morning, I really did not want to go to the race. It was hot, humid and I was tired. Tired from my intense workouts, tired from having company all week, tired from not getting enough sleep. As soon as the race started, my legs made it known they were done. I felt my sore glutes with every step. I tried to move my legs faster, but they didn’t listen. Instead my bone fragment pulled in my leg causing burning and by the second mile had a minor locking incident. I just wanted it to be over. Turns out, I ran the exact.same.time as I did two years ago and came in third in my age group. I should be happy right? I placed in my age group. I was so disappointed. All I could think about is that I am stronger and faster than I was two years ago, so I should easily be able to run a faster time.

After talking to my mom last night I realized, I am stronger and faster. Two years ago if I had worked out that hard leading up to the race, I would have run way slower. I would have walked more and been in pain. I guess I needed someone else to help me look at it from another angle.

I was supposed to run 10 miles total Saturday, but after the Rice Lake Classic, running the kids run with Ella, and spending two hours at Maple Grove Days in 90 degree weather, I was exhausted. Sunday afternoon when we got back from camping, I went to the gym and slowly, ran my 10 miles. I wasn’t going to do all 10, but slowing my pace down made it doable.

Monday morning, I was so tired and sore. My body was not happy. I went for a walk and called that good.  It’s amazing how a few unplanned runs and an additional session of intense strength training affected me. Lesson learned, six days a week of running doesn’t really work for me. At least not when I have four intense runs. Not when I want to excel. I am considering adding a fifth day, just a short recovery run maybe on Sundays. We will see how it goes.

Boston Marathon Part Two {Race Recap}

Even though I set three alarms, I was up well before any of them went off. I was up at 6:15 am, ready to go. I got dressed and just sat around. I ate a single piece of toast while I packed up my other two pieces to eat on the bus ride to Hopkinton. I was abnormally calm considering I was able to leave to run the marathon I’ve worked towards for years. I said goodbye to Josh and went to get on the buses at Boston Common. Looking at the weather, I knew that I wasn’t going to get to run in my optimal conditions. Luckily I had already told myself, this is about the experience, not setting a new PR.

I was able to get on a bus right away which was great. The bus ride was long and hot. So warm that I took off my sweatshirt immediately upon sitting down. I definitely wasn’t going to need it. I choked down my toast as I talked to a guy from LA who had qualified in Chicago, the same year I ran it sick. The ride was about an hour long. When we arrived in Hopkinton, we walked about a quarter mile to the athlete’s village.

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The village was buzzing with runners. I dropped off my sweatshirt in the donation bags, got in line for a porta potty and waited. As soon as I had my turn, I grabbed a bottle of water and got right back in line. I was in the village about 90 minutes before being called to start walking to the start line. I finished my water and headed out. I wished I’d grabbed one more bottle for the walk.

It was almost a mile walk to the start line. Along the way, spectators were offering sunscreen, Vaseline, shots of whiskey and beer. As we got closer, my nerves turned to excitement until I realized I only had about eight minutes to get to my corral. I lead a group of five others through the crowd to get up to our spots in the first corral. I made it with four minutes to spare. Phew. I was sweating already.

After a few announcements, we were sent on our way. I crossed the start line of the Boston Marathon with a gigantic grin on my face. I probably looked ridiculous. I teared up again as I looked around me. I told myself, do not go out too fast. Let people pass you. My goal was to run the first 4-6 miles at an easy pace. I didn’t want to burn myself out on the downhills. I settled in checking my watch every once in a while to make sure I was in the 8:15-8:20 range. I was taking in the spectators and the people running with me. While the first few miles are mainly downhill, there are a few rolling hills. The first 5k flew by. I felt pretty good but I was hot already. There was no shade and the sun was almost directly overhead.

5k split: 25:55 (8:20 min/mile)

Between the 5k and 10k points, I decided I should grab a cup of water from every water stop. While I had water with me, I needed that for my gels and it was pretty warm already. This lead to some congestion and bumped elbows. Just past the six mile marker, the Sixth Mile Experience was bumping. The crowd was amazing, their was music and people on loud speakers. They were so into it and I loved it!

10k split: 51:54 (8:21 min/mile)

With the first six miles under my belt, I started to speed up a little bit. I was finally warmed up and ready to start making up some time before the Newton hills hit. I knew that I was no longer going to speed up substantially because my body was just not responding well to the heat, but I was going to knock a few seconds off. There were some little rolling hills that reminded me of some of the trails I had run during training. I knew once we hit Natick that Wellesley was the next township we would run through. I was looking forward to seeing some fellow Support the Girls affiliates who found out I was running and made a sign to cheer me on.

15k split: 1:17:22 (8:18 min/mile)

Honestly the only thing I remember here is how cute Natick was. I focused on reading signs the spectators were holding. Same favorites included: “Hold onto your uterus!” and “If Trump can try to run the country. You can run this marathon.”

20k split: 1:43:31 (8:19 min/mile)

I was entering Wellesley and getting closer to the “Scream Tunnel.” I was also trying to figure out what I needed to do in order to cool off. I was already drinking one cup of water and dumping some over my head and running through any sprinkler that was on. I was slowing my pace to compensate for the heat, but I was still struggling to bring down my body temperature. I decided I’d try to make it a few more miles before I started walking through water stops if I hadn’t cooled down a bit.

Half split: 1:49:14 (8:19 min/mile)

Just past the half, I was running by hundreds of Wellesley ladies holding their Kiss Me signs. The signs with all the reasons why to kiss them were hilarious. Kiss me…I have no ties to Russia, Kiss me…I’m not a Patriots Fan, etc.

And then I saw my Support the Girls cheer squad with their amazing sign!

I was so excited for their support. It made me perk back up and keep working towards the finish line.

25k split: 2:10:35 (8:24 min/mile)

By mile 16 I was walking through all the water stops. I had stopped sweating which really freaked me out. Training through the winter in Minnesota had not prepared me for 70+ degree weather and direct sun. I knew that I had to do what I had to do to safely get to the finish line. There were medical tents at every mile and each one I passed was full of runners. I tried to just focus on keeping my legs moving and looking forward to seeing my cheer squad in the next few miles. A spectator was handing out ice. I was so excited. I grabbed a handful and put it down my bra. I held onto an ice cube in each hand until they melted. It really helped temporarily. We made our biggest turn thus far on the course at the Newton Fire Station a slight breeze started blowing across me. It felt so good!

30k split: 2:39:40 (8:33 min/mile)-18.6 miles

I’d just passed the 30k mark when Josh called to tell me that they were at mile 19. I was ready to see them. I was almost to the base of Heartbreak Hill when I heard them cheering. I was so excited to see them and just felt so lucky as I ran toward a dozen people schlepping all around the Boston metro area to cheer for me. I was soaking wet after running through water spraying from one of the fire hydrants the fire department had opened.

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Then I did something I’ve never done in a marathon, I stopped and talked to them. I drank some amazing ice cold water and started running again.

Then it was time for Heartbreak Hill. I was so happy when I saw a sign that said “This is the top of Heartbreak Hill.” I knew the biggest hill was now behind me. I also knew that there was another hill right after Heartbreak, regardless of what a few signs said. It was no big deal, though I’m glad I knew it was there and didn’t take me by surprise.

35k split: 3:09:05 (8:41 min/mile)- 21.7 miles

Heartbreak Hill was behind me. I could walk back to Boston under the 6 hour limit if I really needed to. This thought totally crossed my mind as I poured another cup on water over my head and took another gel. I was wishing I had brought some salt tabs with me because I think it may have helped me replace all the salt I had been sweating. Something I needed to think about for warmer races.

I started looking for the Citgo sign. I knew I was going to be able to catch a glimpse of it. That was my sign that I was going to finish this thing. I was almost to Boston! A head wind started picking up as some clouds started moving in. I was so thankful for a bit of shade and even for the head wind because I needed some cool air.

40k split: 3:37:28 (8:44 min/mile)-24.85

Seriously, a foot cramp. Yes, I got a crazy cramp in my left foot. Out of all the aches I worried about, I never thought I’d have a foot cramp. I walked up the final hill just past mile 25 while trying to stretch it out. Once I had that worked out, I started running again. The crowds were amazing. They were helping carry me through. All the sudden I saw the Hereford street sign. I was almost there! I made my right on Hereford, ran the short block up to Boylston, Left on Boylston and I could see the finish line. The streets were PACKED with people cheering. I did everything I could to pick up the pace. I was smiling from ear to ear. I tried to sprint and as I really started pumping my arms, I heard these guys yelling out, go orange shirt go!

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I raised my arms as I ran across the finish line. I had done it. I’d finished the Boston Marathon. I’d achieved a goal I’d been chasing for years. I’d qualified for Boston, trained hard and taken my victory lap. My friend Ashley captured me on video crossing. So cool.

Finish: 3:50:10 (8:47 min/mile)

I didn’t even know what my official time was until almost a week later. I stopped looking at my watch somewhere around mile 18. I pushed stop and save before I even glanced at the screen. I still haven’t looked at my mile splits. I knew I was not going to be as exciting after performing well under my ability. Anyway, once I crossed the finish line, I saw my family. The tears started flowing especially when Ella told me that she was proud of me. I hugged everyone then turned to get my medal.

Lucky for me, my family brought me a change of clothes. I popped over to the changing area and got into dry clothes. After changing, we took a few more pictures before I decided I was ready to head home.

I walked the two miles back to the North End. It actually felt really good. I think it helped delay the onset of post-marathon soreness. First stop, Mike’s Pastry.

A sweet reward, for a hard earned race.

 

Boston Marathon Recap Part I {Expo and the Night Before}

After a mere four hours of sleep, I was wide awake at 6:30 am, anxious to get to the expo so I could hold my bib. With hours to go until that was even a possibility, I got cleaned up, ate my toast and requested my Lyft to the convention center.

As our driver started getting closer to the convention center, I started seeing signs for the marathon, Boston Strong signs and hoards of runners walking around with their celebration jackets on.

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As we pulled up, I could see the finish line about a quarter mile in front of us. Walking into the convention center, I was on the verge of tears. Who had possessed me? I’m not one to get teary over packet pick-up.

We got in line with all the other eager runners and waited for the doors to open.

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Once we were moving, the line went quickly. Before I knew it, I had my bib in hand and a tear on the verge of falling. We snapped some pictures before heading into the actual expo.

I went into the morning thinking I was going to buy all.the.stuff, but the official merchandise area was a zoo. Not wanting to waste energy on fighting the crowds, I grabbed a tank top, beer glass, a couple of Spike stuffed animals for the kids and got out of there.

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After paying for those, I hit the KT Tape booth to have them tape my shoulder. It was pretty achy but once the tape was applied, it actually felt normal-ish. I walked around a bit more and picked up one more t-shirt. I was getting overwhelmed. Suddenly I became fearful that I was going to have a bunch of Boston Marathon stuff and then DNF. What would I do with it all if that happened? I stopped looking for anything else to buy, which I’m a bit bummed about. I should have bought the water bottle I wanted (only available at the expo), the license plate cover and  key chain that I need for my new car keys.

Done with the expo, it was finish line time. There were yellow daffodils in blue foiled pots lining the windows of the businesses all down Boylston.

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The closer we got to the finish line, the more anxious I got. Again I started worrying about having my first DNF. I really had no reason to think I wouldn’t successfully finish the race, but my nerves were getting the best of me.

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We crossed the street and there I was. Standing in front of the finish line I’d be crossing the next day. Of course we took a million pictures. And once again, I was all choked up. Who was this emotional basket case?

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Pictures taken and crowds getting bigger, I was ready to leave. It was nearing 86 degrees. Not wanting to get dehydrated, and getting hungry, we swung by Whole Foods to pick up my bland food to make for my dinner that night. When we got back to the apartment, I ate my safe lunch and took a nap while the rest of the family went to enjoy delicious looking pizza.

A short while later, our friends Ryan and Claire arrived from Providence. We met up with the family and headed for a stroller through Boston Commons and the Public Garden. We even took a ride on a swan boat before walking across the street to Cheers. While I drank more water, we all discussed spectating plans for the race.

Shortly thereafter, we went back to our apartment, I made my sweet potato and pork chop with a side of toast with almond butter and jam. Super exciting. I laid out all my race stuff and pinned my bib to my tank top before sending Josh to get me some melatonin so I could actually fall asleep. Of course the next morning I ended up changing my shirt and having to repin it all over again. I seemed to get it on properly without any trouble the second time around.

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By 10:30 pm I was out…for a few hours. Then I was waking up every two hours, just in case I overslept.

Boston Marathon Training {Week 14}

Peak.Week.

What a week it has been. Mileage is all down hill from here to race day. I’ve been feeling more anxious about race day this week. I don’t think it is so much the distance, but the race itself. It’s the Boston Marathon. A marathon that is for many, like myself, the holy grail of marathons.

It was fitting that this week, as my anxiety levels started rising that this picture popped up on my Facebook memories.

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Exactly five years ago last week, on a work trip to Boston, I took advantage of my opportunity to visit the marathon finish line. I had my coworker take my picture to show that yes, I had been to the finish line of one of, if not the most, prestigious marathons in the country.

Back then I was a 5:07 marathoner who had not gotten through a race without crying because I was tired and questioning my sanity. I had an eight month old and honestly didn’t know if I would do another marathon. I NEVER thought I would be fast enough to qualify for Boston. That was my moment to ‘cross’ the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Fast forward to today, now I have two kids and am just 20 days away from running the race I never thought I’d be fast enough to earn a spot in. I still cry occasionally at races, but they’re usually tears of joy as I cross the finish line. While I want to take a little break from the marathon distance after Boston, I know I’ll run another one.

The tears I shed as I crossed the finish line at Lake Wobegon, after smashing my qualifying time, almost seem like a dream. Did it really happen? Did I really qualify last May? Can I really run that fast again?

It really happened. I really did. I really can (I hope). I have worked hard. I worked hard to get back into running after having Ella and ran my first sub-5 hour marathon. I worked hard to get back into running after having Anderson and ran my first sub-4 hour marathon. I’ve worked hard to take off nearly an hour and 40 minutes off my marathon time to run my first sub-3:30 marathon. I’ve worked hard to qualify.

I worked hard. I earned my spot. I deserve to be there among some of the fastest marathoners in the world.

Now I just have to get through taper.

Monday – 9 miles w/7 at tempo
Tuesday – Rest
Wednesday – Orangetheory (3.68 miles)
Thursday – 6×1200 @ 6:40 min/mile w/2 mile WU and CD
Friday – Rest
Saturday – 22 mile long run
Sunday – Walk