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

Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon {Race Recap}

It was 2 am. In a fog of Advil PM, I wasn’t sure if I had actually slept yet or just shut my eyes willing my body to go to sleep. For the second night in a row it looked as though I wasn’t going to be sleeping. I did know that the Wild Beaver Saloon was really loud outside of our hotel room window. I got up, closed the blinds and tried to get some rest. Still no luck by three when I turned down the temperature in our room. Finally sleep came for a whole two hours before my alarm went off at 5:30 am.

My mom, Rachel and I got up, ate and lounged around our room until around 7:25 when we met Kelly (my mom’s friend and one of my trainees) in the lobby. I was so tired and trying just to put on my tough runner face. We made our way to the starting line where we huddled together outside my corral to keep warm. With about 10 minutes to go until the start we all wished each other luck and parted ways.

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I found myself in a crowd of anxious runners. I chatted with a marathoner coming back from injury and was trying to qualify for Boston again. A few minutes later, our entire herd started walking to the starting line as we began our journey.

The first mile was a bit rough. I was happy that it forced me to start slowly, but it was frustrating just how packed it was. I saw the 3:20 marathon pacer, but decided I was not going to follow a pace group. I was going to run purely on feel. It was a good thing because he flew by me with a pretty good size group by the second mile. By the 5k point I had pretty much settled in.

Splits: 8:18, 7:40, 7:44

After the 5k mark, I was feeling pretty good. My lungs weren’t burning as expected due to that darn cold and though my legs felt really heavy, I was easily keeping a sub-8 pace. I was pretty surprised it was feeling so easy. That might be why the second three miles leading to the 10k point were some of my fastest during the entire race.

Splits: 7:38, 7:39, 7:38.

10k Official Time: 48:19

I was starting to think about taking a gel. I was watching people around me, including one man who flipped off house after house that had political signs he disagreed with. Classy. There were pockets of cheering squads and many beautiful homes. I knew the split for the marathon was coming up, so just past mile 7, I awkwardly fumbled with my fuel belt to get out a gel and water bottle. Not going to lie, because I hadn’t been taking gels during training (they are too dang expensive) I was a bit nervous my stomach would revolt. Luckily as I turned away from the full marathoners and finished my gel, there was no GDF rumbling in my stomach. Miles eight and nine are total blurs.

Splits: 7:40, 7:45, 7:43

The home stretch. I only had four miles left. I ran by a group offering Pabst Blue Ribbon and immediately thought that I would definitely vomit if I attempted to drink one. I wasn’t sure where the family was going to be, so I was scanning the increasing crowds for a friendly face. By mile 11 my legs felt like bricks. I was calculating in my head how much I could slow down and still PR. I figured I could slow down to a 9-10 min/mile and still be ok. If it wasn’t for a guy right at mile 12, yelling at me that he could tell I was contemplating slowing down, and not to do it, I probably would have slowed just because I was feeling lazy. I was mentally tired and the lack of sleep wasn’t helping either.

As we turned the final two corners of the race, I picked it up. When I saw the finish line, I did my best to sprint, to empty my tank as my Orangetheory coach would say. I crossed the finish line, feeling good, great actually. I had surprised myself once again.

Final Splits: 7:37, 7:43, 7:40, 7:29, and 6:25 for the last 0.2

Official time: 1:41:10          Average Pace: 7:44 min/mile

I did pretty well working my tangents, running only about a tenth of a mile longer than 13.1. I think my new post-Boston goal will be to run a sub-1:40 half marathon.

I was shocked at my overall results for the race. I finished in 698 out of 8116 finishers, 33 out of 732 in my division, and 178 out of 4796 in my gender. That put me in the top 8-9% of all the half marathon finishers and the top 3-5% of finishers in both my division and gender. Never thought that would happen.

My stepsister Rachel killed her first half coming in just under two hours. My mom did amazing coming in at 2:16 and Kelly set a new PR! I’m so proud of all of us.

This race was nice, well organized and a pretty flat one at that. I would consider doing the full at some point, but we will see. I have others on my bucket list when I’m ready.

 

Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon Training {Um what?}

I was pumped, half marathon training was going well. I looked forward to my shorter runs and was hitting my goal pace ranges. I was killing it. WAS being the key. From my previous post you’ve seen we’ve been busy. Life and fun have gotten in the way. All the sudden it is race week. I’m feeling under-trained, over tired and surprise, surprise, sick with a nasty cold that just won’t quit.

Lately my training has consisted of one speed workout, Orangetheory and then my long run. I tried to catch-up on missed workouts, which I would never recommend because yikes, my body was not happy with me. I just decided to do what I had time for and leave it at that. Because I’ve been consistently running double digit long runs for about a year, I know that I can cover the distance. It is highly unlikely it will be my best performance.

This race is more about time with my mom. We have been planning on doing this race for about a year now. To get my mom ready, I wrote her a training plan several months ago and she’s been training hard to do her first half marathon in more than a decade. I’m really proud of her and excited to cheer her through the finish shoot! I also wrote a training plan for one of her friends, who happens to make the best almond cake I’ve ever had, who will be running too. I’m accepting payment in the form of cake, because yum. Also because they are two of my first clients as an officially certified running coach. I’m really excited to see how they both do. I’ll report back on how we all do as part of my running coach posts I have in my drafts.

The kids and I are flying to Indy at the end of next week. While I was not originally intending on bringing them, they are really excited to see their Nana, Papa, Uncle Riley and Aunt Emma. It should be a fun weekend with way too much food and a little running mixed in.

 

The End of My Streak [Race Recap}

Four years. For four years straight, I set a new personal record at every single race I did. Regardless of distance, I was on a roll. Sometimes they were small, sometimes they were big, but they were always a PR. Last night, that ended and I’m not going to lie, it stings a little bit. It’s not nearly as fun to write about but as I share my triumphs, I should also share my disappointments.

Last night was the annual Maple Grove Esprit de She. You might remember last year the course was significantly short. Well this year, they got rid of the 10k option and changed the course which was actually the right distance, if not ever so slightly long. While I loath 5ks, I’m not one to pass up a race minutes from my house that always ends with booze and great company from my amazing running group friends.

Just after 5 pm I drove over to the Town Green where the race was starting. Unlike in previous years, the course was not a loop. We were now finishing at the newly completed Central Park. We hung around for a while sweating before taking our group picture. Unfortunately, thanks to bag drop being at the finish line, we were missing more than a couple members.

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After the picture I tried to stay in the shade as long as I could. I was dehydrated and it was HOT and HUMID (it was nearly 80 degrees still). Blah. You’d think I’d be use to it by now, but no. Does anyone get use to humidity? I was silently cursing them for moving the race from late September to early August. Anyway, I made my way to the front of the corrals with some friends and sweated it out for 10ish minutes until the race started.

I crossed the starting line quickly, going out a bit fast as I chased after a ton of high school girls that were ahead of me. I knew it was going to bite me in the ass. I finished the first mile in 6:50. Bad decision. After that first mile I was looking for the water stop. It was about 1.5ish miles in. I stopped, drank one cup, poured one over my head and continued on. The second mile was 7:13. Already positive splitting.

Once I hit 2.5 miles, I’m pretty sure I stopped sweating. I don’t think I had enough fluid in my body to keep it going. I was overheating bad. I posed for a picture.

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When I thought I’d safely passed the photographer, this is what I was feeling.

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I was done. I just wanted it to be over. I looked at my watch and new that my chance to PR was gone. My third mile was 7:39…ouch. That is a HUGE positive split. The finish line was setup really poorly. We had two tight turns to make a U and had to run on uneven patchy grass.

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I tripped a little bit, but was just so damn happy to be done, I didn’t care. I honestly was so hot I thought I was going to vomit.

Official time: 22:41      Avg. Pace: 7:19 min/mile

I was 22nd overall of 1430 runners and 5th in my age group of 501.

I missed beating my 5k PR by 26 seconds.I was really bummed. I hadn’t really expected it. Yes it was hot and yes I was dehydrated and sore from Orangetheory the previous night, but I’ve gotten so much faster since November. I was kicking myself for the walk break I took to drink the water I needed so badly. Honestly, if I hadn’t walked then, my streak would probably be in tact.

It had to end sometime right? I’m trying not to be too hard on myself, it’s not like I totally crashed and burned, and no one PRs every single race forever. I’m trying to tell myself that one race that broke my streak, doesn’t mean I’ll never PR again. It’s silly to think that right?

After the race I got some free food (which by the way, has gotten worse every year) and even better, free booze while I hung out with the girls.

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Not a total failure of an evening. It evened cooled off nicely after the race. Maybe next year, if it’s in August again, they can start it an hour later.

 

Chicago Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon {Race Recap}

I did everything I could do blow this race for myself. I ate like crap, drank a ton and spent hours and hours walking around Chicago. So obviously, I went into the race expecting a horrible race. While it was definitely not my strongest performance, it could have been worse.

We walked over to the starting line with plenty of time to drop our gear bags, hit the porta potties and find our ways to our corrals. With a whole four hours of sleep and an upset stomach, I was not at all looking forward to running. It was also about 70 degrees and humid. Blah.

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The race started on time and about four minutes after the start I crossed the starting line. The first mile cruised by. I obviously didn’t look too closely at the course map, because I mistakenly thought that we’d be running much of the same course as the marathon. Not so much. We ran maybe a few blocks of the same course.

My watch distance was off by the second mile likely due to going under lots of overpasses and the buildings of downtown. I realized I should just not look at my watch because it wasn’t reliable as far as distance or pace. With no goals in mind for the race, other than to finish, I just trucked along.

The course was boring but the music, when there was actually a band, was nice. It was pretty warm out, but I was doing my best to re-hydrate. I carried my fuel belt with my water bottles filled with Nuuns and took water at every water stop. A few sips in my mouth and the rest of the water over my head.

I was doing a pretty decent job of holding a steady pace. According to my results I was averaging about a 7:45 min/mile pace. As I got to the 10k mark, I started wondering how many more miles I was going to be able to go before I had to make a pit stop. Turns out two. At mile eight I veered off course to the lone porta-potty. Much to my dismay it was occupied. I took a gel and anxiously waited for the person in it to leave. Finally they did, I popped in and ran out as quickly as I could.

I got in two more miles before I had to stop again. Luckily there was one available and it was the last time I had to stop. The last few miles felt long. We went through a really dark tunnel under the Solider Field (I think) that was filled with potholes and so dark I was worried about tripping and face planting. They definitely needed more light there. When I came out of the tunnel we were near the lake as we approached the finish line.

I was so glad to be done when I finally crossed the finish line.

Official Time: 1:45:29       Avg. Pace: 8:03 min/mile

For a standalone half marathon, I set a new personal record. But this was about a minute slower than the second half of Lake Wobegon. I’ll take it as my streak continuing.

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Those two bathroom stops really slowed me down. All things considered, little sleep, bathroom stops, warm/humid weather, lack of training, boozing and eating like crap, I did pretty well.

Shortly after I finished, my girls finished just as it started pouring rain with some crazy thunder and lightning. With a small break in the rain we went back to the hotel for a little R&R before the Cubs game.

Would I do this race again? Not so much. Will I consider doing the Brooklyn Rock N’ Roll Half next fall as an excuse for another girls weekend? Absolutely.