Boston Marathon 2015: “no place I’d rather be”

NOTE: This has been sitting as an almost-complete draft since June…going to drop this one here and get on to the present! 

Race morning began much the same as it did last year: shuttle van from the hotel to Boston Common, shuttle school bus from Boston Common to Hopkinton. Unlike last year, I knew no one on either shuttle, so I ended up talking about running and the Boston Marathon in general with two middle-aged men who had each ran Boston at least ten times, which made for interesting conversation. I did most of the listening. It was quite nice to be inside a vehicle for as long as possible because…it was going to rain. It was all anyone could talk about at first, yet it was what no one wanted to talk about. The sky was overcast but not dark, and I still believed there to be hope in the rain holding out, or at least keeping to a minimum.

The rain got worse. I found a dry spot in a white tent in Athlete’s Village and huddled there…for two hours. It was a long two hours, let me tell you. I was desperately looking around for someone I knew, because I’d rather talk for two hours to shake away my own thoughts, but I knew it would be best to stay out and remain somewhat dry and warm. So, i sat/laid down for two hours, taking in some calories and water periodically. Finally it was time to leave, but we just walked down to the next area before the start, where we did more waiting. It was very different from last year. I somehow missed the announcement about my corral walking to the start despite all the waiting, so I had to run and jump into the back of the corral. I didn’t realize this until hours after the race, but my watch didn’t even have a satellite yet, so it was just estimating my first five miles based on cadence (I think). Oops. I knew starting at about 9:00 that I did not feel 100%. Aside from my feet being absolutely numb from being damp and cold, acid reflux had started growling in my chest. I may have mentioned it a few times before, but I have been having major issues with this off and on for the past seven years. I have suspected a hiatal hernia, but then I always equate it to stress and stop running at night and it goes away. Regardless, it was happening at the start. The start of the Boston Marathon. It has never affected me in a morning race from the very beginning, so I was terrified starting this race. I have turned back after two miles on normal training runs due to this problem. This was the Boston Marathon.

My pace hovered in the 7:30s and 7:40s for awhile. My legs didn’t really want to go faster and my chest was getting tighter and tighter. Not good. During mile six I decided I really needed to pee and it would change my life if I stopped to do so. Yes, mile six at Boston I went into a porta potty just to pee. Who does that? The good news: I have a new bathroom PR. I think I ran around 7:22. Eventually I recognized that my legs did in fact feel pretty good, so I tried desperately to focus on that fact and not the awful feeling in my chest I had felt so many times before. I tried two times to make small talk with runners around me and failed. Before Wellesley, there was a poster stuck to a telephone pole that read: “Congrats [name], you’re halfway there!” I said, “I don’t like that poster!” jokingly, since we were running the eleventh mile…hardly halfway in a marathon! The guy next to me just replied, “Well, don’t believe everything you read” not in a very amicable tone. What? Okay. I passed him and moved along.

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This was somewhere mid-race; my soaked cotton gloves were still on. I did not dress (actually, pack) properly for this race, even by my standards.

Until I decided to go to the bathroom again in the next mile. Come on Meghan, I scolded myself. Really? Twice for non-emergencies? Despite feeling like I never wanted to ingest anything in the near future, I stuck with my plan. I was not about to feel like this and bonk. At least leave me a little hope, body. I had Gatorade at every water stop except for the ones I just didn’t feel like grabbing anything (just a couple) until mile 18 or so, and had gels about 60 minutes in and at mile 14. Let’s just say I did not look forward to them. During and after Heartbreak Hill, I ditched the half of the PowerGel I picked up and switched to water.

At some point near Heartbreak, some people were under a tent blasting the song “No Place I’d Rather Be” by Clean Bandit. When the song came out months before, I remembered liking the beat and all, but like so many other songs about love and relationships, not loving it because I couldn’t relate to the lyrics. Now that it was playing during the race, I made it context appropriate and just adapted it to being about running. I was certainly feeling “a thousand miles from comfort,” dry-heaving every five minutes, wondering if or when my quads would die, and getting totally pounded by the rain. Playing the chorus repeatedly in my head the rest of the race, I took consolation in reminding myself I loved running and I trained hard for this, therefore this will be fine. There is no place I’d rather be. It was a little comical, thinking back at the scene, how the lyrics contrasted the race. And also they might have simultaneously fit.

Desperately searching for my family to have something to look forward to...surprised I didn't have a sore neck, after looking at this picture!

Desperately searching for my family to have something to look forward to…surprised I didn’t have a sore neck, after looking at this picture!

From mile 20 to 22, I desperately searched for my family. The same crew was all back again: my mom, dad, two youngest brothers, and my grandmother, who was never a runner but is the biggest track and marathon fangirl you ever did see. I needed something else to focus on. They ended up getting to their spot just in time from the T, around mile 22.5. It worked out that they were farther up than I thought, because it got me through the hills on a mission. Something else happened right after Heartbreak…I started to feel better. I was no longer dry heaving out of necessity every five minutes (half Ironman deja-vu but I didn’t stop…oh wait I didn’t write about that…). The best part: my legs were fine. I was a little nervous my glutes were about to lock up like my quads did last year after Heartbreak on the downhill, but they stayed in check.

So, the game changed. No more acid reflux/dry-heaving awfulness + relatively fresh-feeling legs = go time. I waited twenty-one miles to start running the marathon I knew I could run. Not what I expected, but I’d take it over the whole thing falling apart. It still could, I thought.  But let’s run with this feeling and see what happens. Suddenly, everyone running in front of me was in my way. This was a stark contrast to the year before, when I felt like I wasn’t moving at all and was utterly jealous of how fast others could manage to move. I figured that if I could keep up the increased pace through the finish, I could still break 3:20. I saw Steve cheering with his friends at mile 24.5 for another boost, and kept rolling to Boylston St. It was a great feeling to finish feeling relatively strong at Boston, but the rain and the smaller crowds still made Boston 2014 a happier moment in my book. Not to mention the hypothermia after the race due to not getting warm clothes until over an hour after I stopped moving. I won’t write much about that. Shivering in damp, tight clothes after running 26.2 miles was truly awful. I promised myself to do bag check next time, regardless of the weather.

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I ended up finishing in 3:19:28, which was a two minute, thirteen second PR from the previous year. But, I had trained harder and I was stronger, and I knew had I not felt so sick I would have run much faster. The main reason I wasn’t pleased with the race, though, was that I didn’t have fun. I wanted to have fun, and I tried, I really did! But I didn’t have fun. The acid reflux felt horrible – as in, if it was a normal run I would have had to lay down for hours to feel better, yet it was during a marathon. Even when I tried to focus on my legs and the atmosphere, people around me were negative. When I did in fact finish strong, I immediately went into survival mode from the cold rain and nearly forgot all about it. My family was slow to get to me, and then plans were complicated after and I didn’t even have a place to take a shower, all the while feeling nauseous. I really tried to have fun. Sometimes, it doesn’t work.

Faking it. Though I guess I was happy in between finishing and getting cold - short window!

Faking it. Though I guess I was happy in between finishing and getting cold – short window!

Boston results

So that was that, Boston 2015.

I’m publishing this now so I can write a race recap that is much the opposite. 🙂

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2014 Boston Marathon Race Report

While my quads have finally began to feel like they didn’t run a marathon less than two weeks ago, I still hold all the memories of my first Boston Marathon on April 21, 2014 as if they were brand new. So without further ado…here’s how it went.

Race morning proceeded without a hitch. I arrived in Boston on Saturday, and it was nice to have an extra whole day to chill, since Saturday involved a lot of trains and walking, but it was starting to feel like a big waiting game – I wanted to get on with it! There was a free shuttle for runners from the hotel in Quincy to Boston Common. We all chatted off our nerves, and it was then that I received my first “small world moment” (of several) that day: two men on my van were members of the Raritan Valley Road Runners (somewhat local club) in New Jersey! This whole morning, pre-race, felt like I made several good friends only to walk off and not see them again: in bathroom lines, on the van, in Athlete’s Village, etc. I suppose that’s just a reflection of how friendly runners are, and the spirit we all shared toward this incredible day. Once at Boston Common, I found my friend Melissa, who had told me she’d be wearing a white 761496-1003-0022ssweatshirt. Yeah, I have skills like that, apparently. We boarded a bus together, where we shared stories with excitement and tried not to think about how we were a little too hydrated at the time. Athlete’s Village was just as epic as I’d imagined – hardly room to walk, with runners spread out on blankets and clothes all over the grass, a big white tent with hardly anyone underneath because the sun felt nice at the time, and porta-potties for days lining the sides of the huge area. In one bathroom line I spotted a friend I’d worked with at a cross country camp, here for the first time as well (she went on to run 3:07:04!), and in another I chatted it up with some strangers. As we were being called out of the Village by wave and corral, I started to look for my aunt after ditching my outer clothes, since we were only one corral apart. Sure enough, as was the pattern that day, I found her as soon as I started looking. We took the long walk to the starting line together, and it was really great to be able to wish each other good luck as we finally parted ways. As we were walking, I heard someone say my name. I turned around to see Lauren, who I had just been talking about because she helped me so much, who had guided me through 13 miles of the New Jersey Marathon last year! What a crazy thing – to find her among all these people, walking to the starting line (I ended up seeing her again around 10k I think)! I couldn’t help but be overcome by the magic surrounding this race at that moment. It was incredible.

Wave two took off, and my corral (5) ended up crossing the line about four minutes later. I focused on taking it all in and being really comfortable – hardly working – for the first six or seven miles. I could see why it was easier said than done  – here were all these people in all these little towns, shoulder to shoulder on the curb, shouting for thirty thousand plus runners traversing through their neighborhoods, holding signs and clanging bells. Sitting on roofs, blasting music, and having parties. We were the show. How cool is that? I think I did a pretty good job of not working much yet, I felt really relaxed…though I realized it was a bit warm for my liking. Miles 1-6, Hopkinton & Ashland: 7:40, 7:38, 7:32, 7:33, 7:42, 7:32. 

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So…I thought this was 15k until I bought the photo and zoomed in to see the gel I took at mile 19. Who knew I was still happy then?

Once I got through 10k, I felt things somewhat level out; that is, I didn’t feel like I was doing downhill as much and I could open up a little more if it still felt easy. So I did. I took half of a Gu at mile 7 and finished it at the mile 8 water stop. Mile 7 was also the first water stop where I had water. The 15k had a timing mat and a camera, and was positioned right by a big body of water, which was nice. Every time I went over a timing mat I thought of all the people tracking me, and it made me stay strong, and also excited that things seemed to be going well. Excited for the rest of the race, too. Around mile 12 we passed a sign that said Entering Wellesley, and I thought immediately to keep an eye out for my college cross country and track coach, who had recently moved to the Boston area and was coaching the teams at Wellesley College. Sure enough, as soon as I thought to look for him, I saw him and his family cheering on the right side of the road. I yelled his name and waved, and he and his wife cheered back! that gave me an extra boost, just thinking back on how I was constantly injured in college and now I’m here, running the Boston Marathon and feeling strong and healthy. I honestly don’t know if I would have thought I’d be here, two or three years prior. I wanted to, yes, but like all other running goals of mine from college, it seemed but a dream. I think Wellesley might have been one of my favorite parts of the entire marathon. Not just for the entertaining signs along the road, i.e., all the reasons the runners should consider kissing the girls, but it was also when I started feeling even better. It was also in the shade, I realized later. It was a sunny day, and while it wasn’t “hot” by any means…after all the cold long runs I did this winter and spring, it certainly started to feel quite balmy as the race went on. Miles 7-12, Framingham & Wellesley: 7:26, 7:28, 7:28, 7:30, 7:29, 7:21. 

I passed through the half marathon in 1:39:08, which I was content with. I knew it was far from being the real “halfway point” of the 761535-1313-0050srace, so I chose not to think of it like it was. I did another “Gu mile” from 13 to 14. By mile 15, I was starting to feel that awful feeling I’d experienced on every long run that I was really, really hoping to avoid during the race…the having-to-use-a-bathroom feeling. By mile 16, it was really bad. I felt really good otherwise, and so I weighed by options. I decided I would stop (and I really promised myself I wouldn’t) if and only if 1. if it would allow me to actually enjoy the rest of the race and run faster later, 2. it would only take seconds, and 3. if it wasn’t out of my way and there was no one in a porta-potty when I approached it. Mile 16 was a big downhill I didn’t anticipate, and because I was thinking so much about my emergency bathroom plan and not my pace, I dropped a 7:16. During mile 17, I spotted my opportunity in the distance and knew that I had just accidentally put some seconds in the bank anyway…so I took it. I got right back on pace and prayed that I didn’t loose too much time. I’m still not positive how long I was in there, but I ran a 7:44 17th mile, so I’m guessing twenty seconds tops. I’m pretty impressed with that, just saying…so it was probably worth it. Miles 13-18, Wellesley Hills, Woodland: 7:20, 7:25, 7:26, 7:16, 7:44 (bathroom!), 7:30.

I knew the Newton hills were coming, and all I could do was stay relaxed and hope that all the hills I did on every single long run would get me through them in one piece. The PowerGel station was during mile 17, but I didn’t want to take one just yet. I grabbed a vanilla gel and held it until well into mile 18. I was heating up quickly and the last thing I really wanted was to put anything sticky and sweet into my mouth. But I knew I should, because two gels probably would not be enough for the rest of the race. I sucked it up and ate it between miles 18 and 19, but I might have left some in there before tossing it aside at some point during mile 20. I had started taking some Gatorade too after the half marathon mark, I think. I knew my family would be at a point near the closest T station to mile 21, so I used that to get through this stretch mentally. The strangest thing happened as I approached this point…the thought that it was almost over popped into my head. Months and months of training and anticipating, and mile 21 was upon me already. Wow. Heartbreak Hill, as a standalone hill, is not that bad. Throw it into any of my long runs this year, and it would not be the toughest hill. Its location in the marathon is pretty cruel, however. I didn’t slow down horribly on it, but the main issue I had with it was its aftereffects…. Miles 19-22, Newton: 7:29, 7:40, 7:59, 7:26. 

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Charging up Heartbreak as best I could….

I thought I bounced back well and would feel fine, avoid the wall and such, since I ran 7:26 for the 22nd mile. Little did I know, sufferfest awaited me, in the form of a quad-bonking zombie march down Beacon Street. Okay, it wasn’t that bad, even on paper. But, it felt bad. Worse than anything I’ve ever felt on a run. I was also mentally concerned because I really didn’t think this would happen to me. I thought I did everything right! Trained my quads to be as strong as possible, went out easy, tried to be light on my feet on the downhills. Everything! Why did I still feel like this?! I felt like I had no control over my pace, but if I did, I would have been nervous to try to go any faster in fear of my quads just totally shutting down on me. I couldn’t walk. It would have been so, so easy to stop and walk. I already felt like I was hardly moving. But I couldn’t. I had to just keep moving. If this was the pace that would allow me to do so, I needed to just do it. Just get there. I tried embracing the cheers from the people yelling my name, which I wrote on my arm for this exact purpose. I smiled inside when I saw a guy holding up a sign that said, “MEB WON.” I watched the people encourage the physically impaired athletes rolling alongside me in their chairs. Tried to soak it all in. To keep moving forward. As I went up and over the overpass by Fenway I had walked over many times while cheering the past couple years, I tried to think about how much I wanted to be out here running in years past, how I couldn’t wait for my turn. And about the thousands of people to whom running Boston only seems like a dream right now. And I kept going, because I know that they wouldn’t want me to stop.

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Zombie march.

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I saw a turn up ahead, and knew it was the turn onto Hereford. Almost there. The roaring crowds must have injected some more resistance to lactic acid in my quads, because I did apparently manage to pick up my pace as I turned right onto Hereford and left onto Boylston. I looked up to see it up ahead at last, the finish. It seemed far away but I kept my head up the whole time, for the first time since before that awful feeling overcame me. While it seemed far, I knew this moment, the time spent here on the final straightaway, was not a moment to just get through, but rather to live out as best I could. I crossed the line with a smile, or at least, what seemed like a smile in my mind. Miles 23-26.2, Chestnut Hill, Beacon Street, BOSTON: 7:54, 8:18, 8:23, 8:16, 3:09 (last 0.43).

Official time: 3:21:41.

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Seeing the finish line for the first time.

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anddddd done.

After the finish line, I actually never felt so bad in my life. My body hated me in the most sincere way. However, I, like everyone else around me, embraced the unique, awful post-marathon feeling with each and every curb and crowded side street. I’ll spare the details.

I’ve had some time to process the race and put into words how I feel about it. Obviously, my goal was to run under 3:20, and I didn’t do that. I was on pace for 3:18 through 30k. I think I was in shape to run a sub-3:20 marathon in general; I know I was. Possibly 3:16-17. But not at Boston. I definitely underestimated the effect that the downhills would have on the last few miles – because honestly, who does a point-to-point 20+ miler in training with the first half all downhill to practice getting through this feeling? I don’t even know where I would do something like that. Which brings me to my next point: I really do think I ran a smart race. There isn’t anything I would change about my splits for the entire race before that bonk. This is slightly concerning, since I don’t know what to do to avoid it happening on that course again. I do have a year to figure it out, though….In the meantime, yes, I am happy with a PR, and I am also glad that I didn’t lose that much time during those last three to four miles (about three minutes I’d say). It definitely could’ve been worse. In the end, I’m 100% happy to have been able to run the 2014 Boston Marathon. In 2012, I ran five miles on the sidewalks along the course while spectating. I was getting over an ITB injury and that was my longest run since coming back. At one point, there was a guy who yelled at me, “next year!” referring to me actually running Boston the following year. I smiled and gave a thumbs up. In my mind, I said, “2014,” because I knew realistically that was my plan. I am so grateful that it actually happened: in 2014, I was running toward the city, on the roads, with over 30,000 other people.

I’ll conclude the “report” in pictures…

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the final countdown…

boston3daysGiven that I am leaving for Boston tomorrow morning and hope to get in a shakeout run before I leave, sleeping should really come before writing right now, but I would be remiss if I didn’t capture some of my excitement in these final days before the Big Day in writing.

I’ve been insanely busy and haven’t had time to share my awesome 19-miler last Sunday (the 6th): basically, I ran midday to mimic potential warm and sunny weather (okay, I just wanted to sleep in because it was the one day that week I could…), and decided that my final [very] long run would have to go through downtown Hopewell. I altered the route so that I would get a gradual uphill rather than downhill on Crusher Rd., a road that far exceeded my expectations. Having only remembered being on it in a car at night, I had no idea what beautiful views awaited me. Also on the run, I learned of a new bike shop opening soon in Hopewell called Sourland Cycle, and I found the exact location of a cool quarry-turned-swim club my college team had visited during preseason (aptly named the Quarry Swim Club). I consumed two Tri Berry Gus and 12 ounces of water on this run, and the method seemed to do me well. Farewell, Shot Bloks. Gels were not the cause of my unusual stomach distress, and therefore I will take them during Boston because they are way easier to carry. I averaged 7:47 for the hilly 19 miles, my fastest average yet this spring. I was pretty pleased with that, especially the fact that I finished the last couple miles at 7:28.

The weekly elevation check-in....

The weekly elevation check-in…I honestly think Garmin went a little crazy this day though, so there may be a couple errors.

While I am on the subject of hills, I found a site that previews what some of the vendors will have to offer at the expo, and apparently Brooks is selling THIS beauty:

Brooks-Boston-Marathon-Shirt_2I may just have to purchase it. The pointing finger is quite an open-ended question, however: at first glance, it seems like the statement refers to the one wearing the shirt…but is it really for a girl who convinces her running buddies (running/standing next to her) that hills are awesome as well? Both sound good to me. Expect me to wear this whenever I want to intimidate a new running partner (just kidding).

“Taper” week 1: I did one final hard workout last Thursday the 10th, because I couldn’t bear to start my taper in earnest until the weekend before….I warmed up two miles and did a five mile tempo, and out-and-back on the towpath. The intention was to keep it flat and even, but the wind coming off the lake had other plans. I hard to work much harder when I turned around after 2.5 miles to keep the same pace. Splits: 6:43, 6:40, 6:54, 6:52, 6:45 (average = 6:47). What was most interesting about the entire run was that I averaged 7:32 on my warmup and 7:24 on my two-mile cooldown, which was uphill, and I felt like I was taking it really easy after the tempo effort. Huh. I’ll take it. The next day I did a recovery trail run without my Garmin. I fell in a stream. Not going to lie, it was refreshing. I’m weird. This weekend was a twelve-miler with the usual hills…while it felt too warm (it was 64) and somewhat tiring, it felt really short, so that was a good sign.

Taper week 2: I was a good girl this week, in the world of tapering. Shocker! It helped to be working on my feet 50+ hours…I didn’t feel like running much. I did a really easy 6.5 miles Tuesday afternoon and then some pickups yesterday which felt amazing and left me with 5.3 miles at an average of 7:18.

A year since 4/15/13: Tuesday was an emotional day. All the news reports and the coverage on the memorial ceremonies and such on Boylston Street just brought back memories of last year: how I saw it everywhere I went, and how everyone asked me where I was, what I heard, what I did, how I felt. How I felt the need to read everything about it for some reason, and how I felt unsafe on the crowded streets of my town for a couple weeks. Now that it feels more like springtime here in New Jersey, the memories of those feelings post-Boston are easier to recall and feel again, and that’s a little hard to think about. I’d reflect more, but instead I’ll announce that on this past Tuesday, my aunt Diane and I ended up sharing our experiences last year and our thoughts on running this year with a reporter for CBS Philly, and the article will be run tomorrow (Saturday)! I’ll post a link via some means of social media, but for now I’ll direct you there for what I have to say about all that.

BOSTON 2014: I am so, so, so excited. All I’m nervous about is logistical stuff about race day. I trust that everything I’ve done from January 1 until now has 100% prepared me for this race. I hadn’t decided yet, going into this post, if I wanted to publicly share my specific goals. I probably wrote a long time ago that I definitely want to break 3:20, but that’s old news now. I’ve started to have some more confidence that I can actually surprise myself even more, and so I think I’m just going to leave it at that. I do have a plan, but the plan mostly entails responding to the race itself – the course, my body, the energy, the crowds, the magic. For some reason I’m really not stressing over it. So, track me to see what happens! I am Bib # 13857 (emphasis on my lucky 13!), and for text alerts, text my number to 345678.

On that note, I should stop listening to my “Boston Pump Up” playlist so I can actually go to sleep.

2014 Boston training outlook + help me choose a half!

Unlike those who say they are done with 2013 and want to start fresh in 2014, I fortunately was grateful enough to have a fairly solid, satisfactory year, particularly as it related to running. That being said, I don’t need to have some kind of calamity to begin 2014 with the same momentum as those eager to leave the previous year behind. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I make resolutions whenever resolutions need to be made: February 17th, April 2nd, September 8th, an hour from now – doesn’t matter. “Goals for the year?” Kind of a silly question when I’m already signed up for a major marathon and a half Ironman for 2014. So, January 1st held no special meaning for me this year. When everyone else seemed to be posting their race or run photos from the morning, I was in bed until the afternoon thanks to being struck with a cough, sore throat, and nearly-absent (it would be totally gone three days later…) voice. Didn’t mind. Life went on.

A calendar year is a recognized period of time, however, and my “marathon training started” immediately after that awful cold/sickness/whatever subsided, so I might as well share some thoughts on what I hope the first part of the year brings for me as a runner. And what it will bring…because I’m registered for things…so I’m doing them of course.

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Winter/Early Spring 2014 = Boston Marathon training. As I mentioned before, I am so excited to be able to say I’m “training for Boston.” So. Excited. When it’s five degrees and snowing, it doesn’t feel anywhere close to now, but that’s all a part of training for an April marathon I suppose. No complaints from me. I plan on making a lot of effort to have long run partners each weekend; I think that’s important and it has helped me tremendously in the past. Specifically, faster partners. I don’t want to do every long run at sub-7:30 pace, but I do want to find people who are 100% okay with the pace(s) at which I run my long runs so everyone gets something out of it and just enjoys it. Also, I want to incorporate some faster miles into some of the long runs, and it would be cool to run with people who are on board with that, and that particular faster pace, also. I want to run as many hills on normal runs and long runs as I can. As far as speedwork is concerned, I’d like to do some longer, steady-pace tempos in addition to the Princeton Intervals Tuesday night workouts. I was also thinking of adding in to the workouts I do with the group, since some of them cater more to 5k/10k/half marathon training. I’ll surely be writing more about my training plan as the weeks progress, but these are the main things I want to make sure I do.

The big question: Should I race a half marathon en route to Boston? Part of me thinks it’s only logical, but it should be about six weeks out. That will give me time to gauge my fitness but also have time to recover and continue training hard before tapering (oh, and note to self: decide what tapering actually means and if I really want to do it, because I think I’ve done it right in the past). I’m at a loss as to what half I should do, for two reasons: 1.) Most in this area are less than 5 weeks before Boston weekend, and 2.) I want a flat one. I’ve raced two halves and both have had hills near the end. Remove the hills from Philly and I know I would’ve ran sub-90. I know it. I hope to be in sub-90 shape regardless in March, but the truth is I’ll be training for a full, not tapering, and…well, I’d just rather play it safe. The hills in training will make up for it in time for Boston. I want a flat half course. I don’t care if it’s boring or really small. So what are my options?

e.murraytoddThis race is so low-key that it doesn’t even have its own logo or website. Kate did this en route to Boston last year, and I trust her decision timing-wise because she ran great at both (though they may have been a week closer together then). Negative: I do recall her saying it was “hillier than she expected.” Positive: $30 though! Could be convinced.

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I don’t know why I was so drawn to this at first. Maybe the magic “6 weeks out” of the event. Positives: One description says they eliminated a hill at mile 10 for this year (it’s like they heard my calls), the race course goes around some lakes and looks pretty, the late start could accommodate the extra hour it takes to get there. Negatives: it takes an extra hour to get there. Plus, upon further investigation, it appears that the staggered start times for runners slower than 2:30 and walkers will lead to lots of weaving around people. Lots. Just read this.

This was a top contender of mine for last year’s spring half marathon. Positives: IT’S FLAT, I would be competitive in it yet it’s a big race so that’s pretty cool, I’ve never been to Queens or Flushing Meadows Park, it’s on a Saturday which is rare. Negatives: it’s twice as much money as some other options, it’s only four weeks (and two days) out from Boston. Those of you more experienced than I at this marathon thing (ahem, almost all of you reading) please tell me your opinion: is four weeks too soon before Boston?

EML5FbqOrgegNQUE1C1JThis was another contender last year, especially since it was the same weekend as the race I ended up choosing. Positives: I think I could arrange to stay overnight in the area this year thanks to a relocated friend (wasn’t an option last year), 5 weeks away sounds okay to me, and I’ve never had a RnR experience and I hear good things about their races. Negatives: I’ve also heard bad things about their races, the price is steep (food vs. race fee…not a fun game to play), I would have to stay over somewhere the night before, and probably take days off of work for the ordeal.

So, those are basically my choices. I wish there were more races around here the weekend of March 9th! You’d think race directors would pick up on this void that falls in line with a prime Boston-tune-up weekend! I should also note that last year I did the Caesar Rodney Half Marathon in Wilmington, Delaware and have only good things to say about it. I would do it again, but it was hilly and it’s a week later this year, so it just makes sense to do the 13.1 New York race instead if I would consider CR (CR is cheaper though…). Obviously, my goal race is Boston, not a half. So, after writing this all out, I think there is one race I mentioned above that is calling to me more than the others. But I would appreciate any comments, opinions, and guesses as to which that may be. 🙂

Keep in mind, I think my current group of friends this March will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day the way you are actually supposed to, and I won’t want to miss out completely…. 😉

Mountain run, thousands, Nolcha Fashion Week, & other random things

Rather than write lots of separate posts, all published within an hour of each other, I think it would be more worthwhile to round up the past fast-paced and busy week in one post! September has indeed started fast from the gun, and there is plenty to write about already.

Sunday: we meet again, mountain

P1060070 baldpate mountain sign_0I mentioned in my last post that I revisited my former weekly long run spot. The route involves running up “the mountain.” Compared to some of the elevations I surely witnessed in the Pacific Northwest, this is not exactly a “mountain.” But, as I like to say, if it has a name, it can be considered a mountain. So, it’s a mountain if I say so. It was a nice, humid run up Baldpate Mountain, 10.00 miles even. It was my first time running up there with a Garmin, which was fun to analyze later. The view at the top was clear that morning, and I could see for miles across the river into Pennsylvania. (Side story: for years in college, I would say how I wanted to go on a picnic-date up there, and I finally did two years ago…except we missed the sunset due to an impromptu dog rescue, so it was very dark. Oh well.) One of the best parts of this run was that I started before 8 AM, and was even able to do some barefoot strides on the grass after, all before a busy day at work! I loved being able to say I ran ten miles up a mountain before work. It just makes everything after so much easier to handle.

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Here are some photos of parts of the route…(not mine).

view from near the top

view from near the top

baldpateTuesday: 6 x 1000m

The Intervals workout this week was 6 x 1000. I have done a variation of this (usually 4 x 1000 or 5 x 1000) several times in high school and college, on both grass surfaces and the track. I’ve always just tried to get around 4:00 or just under. I don’t remember ever averaging under four minutes, though, and I never did six. During this workout, however, I averaged 3:52 and I didn’t even feel as if I was giving it 100% (note: I am slightly concerned about my right hip flexor…there is no pain at all but I’m the most paranoid runner in the WORLD, I swear). That is a good feeling, to feel like I can hit those times with so much less effort than 4:00+ used to feel.

Nolcha Fashion Week…featuring OISELLE!

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In case you didn’t follow on Twitter, Wednesday Oiselle strutted their stuff on the RUNWAY at Nolcha Fashion Week in New York! This is exciting stuff – real athletes as models is a dream come true! I was more excited to see Lauren Fleshman, Sarah Mac, Kate Grace, & the other Oiselle gals than the new clothes themselves. It was a “I know you!” moment (as in, I’ve talked to you/met you, you may not remember this happening at all but I do…). And Sally, looking like the proud mother behind the scenes!

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Lauren looking fantastic after having baby Jude!

Lauren looking fantastic after having baby Jude!

I’m trying not to think about the possibility that I could have maybe, possibly attended the after-party…because that would be too much awesome to handle. And I don’t have anything to wear (actually just kidding, I could conjure something probably. Just not anything like Fast K8’s shoes). You can view all of Oiselle’s runway photos here.

Boston registration

bostonreg

I can register for Boston tomorrow (well, today, at this hour)!!!!! I could have registered Wednesday had I ran two seconds faster…but it’s okay. Because now I get to register on….

FRIDAY-THE-13TH

YES THAT’S RIGHT, I GET TO GIVE MYSELF THE GIFT OF THE BOSTON MARATHON ON MY BIRTHDAY! Never mind that my birthday is on Friday the 13th…that’s just typical of the kind of things that happen to me. Rather fitting. I am okay with it.

That being said, I’m off to go have a good birthday. One last random photo:

nasa frogMind blown by this NASA frog photobomb right now. It’s kind of creepy that it looks like a person though. And then I think of how the frog definitely did not make it. So, on second thought, it’s actually quite disturbing.

New song of the week – check it out. Heard in Forever 21, not going to lie: