Last weekend was a “Weekend with a capital W,” as I like to say (mostly to myself…). As I mentioned in my last post many days ago, it kicked off with dinner and drinks with Adam Goucher and Tim Catalano. During dinner we mostly talked about food and the YMCA, since YMCA staff members who were helping organize the event were there. I hardly got to talk with the guys then, so I was pleased that they wanted to go out for drinks to chat some more after dinner. We were joined by another one of their former Colorado teammates (and a customer of mine…and the husband of the lovely, inspiring Oiselle bird Jen) who lives in the area, and the stories and laughter that ensued was quite the experience! It was really cool to just be sitting there chatting about running and everything over beers, right in Princeton. Both Adam and Tim were really chill guys – if you ever get a chance to meet them, take it!
Unfortunately, as I mentioned, I was unable to attend the event for which they actually traveled to Princeton the following morning. I really wish I could have gone, or at least heard about it from one of my coworkers (the store was so busy no one ended up being able to sneak out) so I could report on it as well! I got there at the tail end of everything after the CPR class I had to attend about 25 minutes away, but it was wrapping up. If you are from the Princeton area, I hope you were able to attend! I am definitely adding Running the Edge to my list of running-related books I must read ASAP, especially now!
On a related note, a few life updates that will help explain things better…might as well share them here since we all know I won’t have time to dedicate two whole posts to them. I took the CPR course Saturday the 22nd (and it had to be on that day) for two reasons: First, I am coachingGirls on the Run this spring! I went to training this past Saturday, and I have a lot more reading to do to prepare, but it starts this Saturday and I am really excited! I think it will be a great experience. I love helping young girls in that age range with shoes when they come in the store, and so I think it will bee really fun and rewarding to become a good influence in their lives even more!
Why do I still have a ton of preparing and reading to do? Because…I started a new job last week! I am now working part-time as a Rehab Aide at a nearby physical therapy clinic. After what seemed like the longest process ever of orientations and physical appointments up at the affiliated hospital a half hour away (now that I hardly drive I hate it!), I am finally on the schedule and working at the clinic. I actually opened the building all by myself today before 6:00 AM. So, I’ve been pretty exhausted! I’m still working at the store, so don’t worry…the ultimate shoenerd remains the voice behind this blog. 🙂
I was going to write all about my awesome point-to-point 21-miler to PA last Sunday (we’re going way back to the 23rd now…) and other thoughts on Boston training, but I’ll leave that for next time. I’m about to run off to do one of the hardest workouts in my training cycle (deep breaths, deep breaths…don’t get yourself sick...), the “Michigan”, which still scares me even though I’m not on a college team anymore.
I’m EXCITED today! Let me give a quick run-down on the reasons why….
1.) I am meeting Adam Goucher and Tim Catalano tonight! And having dinner with them! So pumped. I’m such a nerd. They are coming to town for an event Saturday at 11 AM at the Princeton YMCA, where they will talk about their book Running the Edge. The event is sponsored by a long-time customer of ours at the store, Tracy, and her fitness organization Bee Fit with Tracy. She graciously invited me to have dinner with them since we are partnering with her for the event! I was really disappointed when I learned that I cannot attend the actual event on Saturday because I have CPR training at the same exact time…and it is non-negotiable that I attend the CPR class on that particular day for reasons (also exciting!) that I will share very soon. Because of other very exciting plans on Sunday morning, I cannot work Sunday and therefore must work immediately after the class Saturday, or else I’d catch the tail end of the seminar at the YMCA. Phew. Anyway, I’m super excited to meet them both tomorrow evening, and I will try my best to keep any starstruck runnerdiness to a minimum (how do you do it all the time Megan?!). I suppose wine will help (or hurt?).
Speaking of the Gouchers, and runnerd status….
2.) Kara Goucher did it! She signed with Oiselle!!! I had a feeling this was going to happen, with all the talk flying around (no pun intended) that she would follow in Lauren’s footsteps. In an interview with Competitor, she admitted to being turned down by Sally at first, then persuading her to come to a symbiotic, nontraditional deal. I thought this was especially interesting and speaks to the fact that she’s following her heart, and gut feeling, rather than a seven-figure offer (!!!). Although on a much smaller scale, this is the way I strive to make decisions in my own life, I believe that no matter the hardships and sacrifices I have to make along the way, staying true to myself and what I want and believe in will consequently be worth it if what I want is to live a happy and genuine life. So, kudos to Kara. Any decision that involves two or three rounds of tears and questioning one’s entire future is one that deserves the utmost respect.
3.) The Boston Marathon is one month from today!!! It’s starting to feel a little more real to me. Of course, I’ve entered that phase where I’m like, don’t do anything stupid, don’t do anything stupid all day every day, but I’m doing a pretty good job staying sane yet still training hard. My 15.5-mile run Sunday in between “long long runs” ended up being at a pace that was faster than I’ve been running for long runs – more on par with my long runs from the fall, which was nice. I went to a new chiropractor Wednesday, and it was a great experience. It was obvious I needed some adjusting, so I’m glad I was able to get in there and realign myself for the weeks to come…it’s nice to run the next day and not feel like I’m making anything worse! And, now that my specialist co-pay has somehow become $15 instead of $40…well, I just might be seeing a chiropractor at my leisure from now on. Cheers to that (and to being under 27 and my dad’s new job, I suppose?). I did two workouts this week, both of which felt really smooth. The second was a little rough because I had to alter my route (for 3 x 2 miles with 0.5 mi rest…same ~10 mi loop I did pre-Philly Half actually). More specifically, I got kicked off the towpath by construction workers. I was really pissed about this at the time actually, because getting off the towpath meant running on the side of a pretty busy road with a slanted, almost non-existent shoulder I never would have chosen to run on, ever. It also meant doing the last hard two mile stretch all uphill into the wind and in the sun as opposed to on a flat dirt path. Oh well. It was one of those workouts that made me stronger, I suppose. I ended up averaging 7:14 for the entire thing; much better than the 7:28 I ended up averaging when I did the same workout in early November. My fastest two-mile stretch was the middle one, probably because I was so angry at the guys on the trucks and also had to stop briefly to climb through bushes…13:19. The other two were “eh”: 13:49 mostly uphill and 13:59 all [unexpectedly] uphill. My recoveries and warmup and cooldown ended up being faster than normal, which made the entire run faster, 7:30-7:45 for those miles (oops?). In an effort not to get worked up again over the towpath thing, since I know the men were probably improving the path in some way, here’s a little PSA to drivers: move over a little more than you think you should. Runners are paranoid, and it may not be entirely their decision to run on certain busy roads. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, or just happens. They’re there. So, slow down and move over a little more so you don’t scare them half to death.
4.) Long run plan for Sunday: 20.7 miles to Lambertville! You may recall that I ran to Lambertville (actually New Hope, PA, then back over the bridge) last February. It was one of my favorite runs of the year, and this year I’m doing the whole thing! It will also be the longest run I’ve ever done in training, and the longest run I’ll do until April 21. You bet I’m looking forward to this year’s recoverosas, but only as much as those Sourlands hills.
5.) Yoga + beer. Well, I’m not excited for this anymore because it already happened. But I was. Also, I found out it happens every Thursday night, so I suppose I could always go again if I ever find I’m lacking excitement in my life (not for awhile at this rate…). Last Thursday I attended a yoga class at River Horse Brewery in Ewing with friends. The yoga wasn’t the hardest, but I was challenged to do some things I haven’t done in awhile, which was invigorating. I was able to do Bird of Paradise for the first time ever. I remember a couple years ago I tried and it didn’t make any sense at all; my legs just didn’t want to do that move. This time, it happened really naturally and that in itself was super exciting to me! (I didn’t get my leg straight up, but it was a start…marathon-training hamstring status, what can I say….)
View from the “yoga studio.”
…and of course, I did sell the girl who poured us our samples her shoes before the Philly Marathon. Of course.
6.) Trade a movie for a song? As you may know, I get super excited over songs that often get stuck in my head during runs. I’ve been in a bit of a rut lately though. Any suggestions on what to listen to in preparation for my long run this weekend to call to mind if I happen to be alone in the countryside are much appreciated. In return, I will provide you with a stellar movie suggestion. This film has been referenced over and over by a regular group run attendee at the store, and he finally gave me a copy of the DVD when he learned I still hadn’t watched it yet. I ended up watching it on my bike trainer in my shed in the pouring rain the other night, and it was awesome:
I’m obviously a little late with this, as Valentine’s Day was over a week ago…but who doesn’t want to extend the love for another week, right? I’ve never celebrated the day in its traditional sense, but I sure had fun last year making running-inspired, styrofoam Sweethearts candy replicas and throwing around fake snow in the window while everyone else made dinner plans. I had no reason not to come up with an equally fun display this year, and so I took a few minutes to find an idea, and suddenly a glittery masterpiece was underway. You know that saying about being distracted by shiny things? That phrase is actually about me. I am instantly drawn to glittery and shiny things; they make me so excited. Anyway, for the first part of this post, please enjoy the following photos from my Valentine’s Day store window, 2014 edition:
First, I constructed a giant cardboard heart. The concept was an oversized card, or love note to running. I had no clue what I was going to write on it.
I miraculously cut it out:
…posed with it:
…and proceeded to write notes like, “Meghan’s heart – do not touch/break” because…well, I was already making a giant love note to running out of cardboard, there was no harm in furthering the corniness of the ordeal.
For the record, these little scraps of confetti paper were way easier to clean up than the clingy styrofoam “snow” from last year! I’m not sure what to do with the giant “card” now, but I’ll figure something out….
…but back to what I learned
I learned more than the fact that our vacuum cleaner is so awful it doesn’t pick up loose glitter from a carpet. I learned a fundamental reason why I love running. As I mentioned in my last post, the week of Valentine’s Day wasn’t going so well. I was planning on doing a workout Wednesday night, and then I felt sick and needed to bail on that. Thursday it was dangerous to go outside with all the ice, snow, and wind, and I still felt kind of sick. I committed myself to getting up early Friday and doing a workout regardless of the road surface. That is, I was going to suck it up and join the rest of the world…on the treadmill. This was a huge deal for me. I hadn’t been on a treadmill other than to test shoes since 2008. I had never done a workout on a treadmill either. I was determined to have fun with it though; I was telling myself I’d get to play with the speed, I’d get to wear shorts and a tank top in the dead of winter for once, I’d get to listen to music. Things I normally don’t do. It would be fun (insert meme here?).
The plan: walk to the store. Get on the treadmill. Warm up two miles, switch into flats (another bonus point, I thought!). Run two miles at ~6:30, into one mile at ~7:00, into two more miles at 6:30. Cool down inside or outside. The warmup wasn’t too bad. I felt good and thought the hard segments would be fine. HOWEVER. I ran the hard two mile segment in around 13:10, with my pace faltering (meaning, I needed to hit the down arrow or I’d be at the back of the belt) as the end neared. I faced a mental battle, as well as a row of orange Nike shirts (the treadmill faces the wall now…). This was awful. How do so many people do this on a regular basis?! Props to all of you, seriously. Running on the treadmill takes a tougher person than running outside in the snow. I’m not sure if that is true or makes any sense, but that is what went through my mind that Friday morning. I jumped off after the two miles, feeling dizzy and dehydrated. I threw on a long sleeved shirt and gloves and ran outside.
I ran about four miles and loved every step of it, ice or not. The sun was as bright as it had been in days. The streets were slushy messes, but I felt so free. This was it, this is why I love running. No, I didn’t get in the rest of the workout. I wasn’t running a decent pace on this dangerous, uneven surface. But that was okay. Because for those four miles spent on the treadmill, especially those last two, I didn’t like running very much. I wasn’t having fun. I’m not saying I expect to have fun on every run, but I should at least feel like the run was my choice, and that I would rather be doing it than not. I didn’t feel that way on the treadmill, and the stark comparison of the post-treadmill run outdoors made me realize that I loved running in part because it makes me feel free.
When I run, I shatter the demeaning power of self-doubt and feel like my most confident self.
There’s no need to think of what others think of me when I run, because I’m doing what I enjoy most and that is all that matters in that moment.
When I run, I can reach a mental and physical state not many others can understand, and that is something special.
I can run away from annoying things – whether they are people playing loud music, or taking up the entire sidewalk when they walk, or my own self feeling too tired to accomplish all I want to do, or thinking too much about one thing.
At one point, I realized I was wearing my favorite running shorts and shirt, like I planned it but I didn’t. I felt like I could run all day, conquering the world, at least my world, one street at a time. Eventually I headed back though, because I did have to work all day. What began as a bad experience with a treadmill, an overheated room, and legs that questioned my sanity for starting this thing in the first place ended with a renewed sense of passion for running…one could even say it was like the perfect Valentine’s date. 🙂
Dark horse, huh? Sometimes I write blog posts asking people for advice, when I really end up deciding for myself just by writing down my thoughts on the choices. My last post was one of those times. I won’t be shooting for a PR here. I won’t need to travel overnight or spend over forty dollars. I could do both of these things, if I picked another race. However, I decided this is best. Boston is my goal race. It will be the biggest race I have ever run in my life, and so that is the race on which I want to keep the focus. Therefore, choosing a really hilly, low-key half marathon to run seven weeks before will force me to not stress over it and treat it as a race I’m running purely as part of my training. A running friend of mine said she’s running it as well, so it will be nice to have her there too (whether or not I can keep up).
Recent long runs
If there is one common theme to my long runs so far in 2014, it’s HILLS.If my memory serves me correctly, it was on the last hill of the first one of these runs that I decided something like, this is a hard run because of all these hills. If I do this often, any hill on the Boston course will feel easier. And thus it began, my new motto:
Suffer now. Glory later.
I may have just made up the wording right now. The concept has been in my mind for awhile though: why not do things the hard way in training, so that on race day, the same factors are so much less of a problem? I can watch the pace on my watch slow down and try not to give in to a steep incline on mile 11 of a long run in January, February, and March. I can make weird faces and wonder how my quads can possibly burn so much after the ascent. I sure as hell want to feel better than that at mile 22 on April 21st. Therefore, I must commit to doing more than my necessary share of hills in training, right now.
Here is what my recent long runs have looked like, elevation-wise.
Those of you living in the Rockies or San Fran, I don’t want to hear it! I’m basically finding all the hills in a certain radius and doing the opposite of avoiding them. I’ll hopefully drive to some even hillier places later, but for now I think I’ve done a decent job. Each of these contains the same hill at one spot on the run, I believe, and my average pace for that particular mile has gotten faster.
Theorizing: more is more?
As you may know, I am a little terrified of high mileage training. In high school I would run 45-50 miles a week and was just fine. When I started getting injured I cut it back to 40ish and added cross training. When I still was getting injured, I cut it down to 35ish and added even more cross training. I was paranoid for a reason: when you get stress reactions in places like your pubic ramus on 32 miles a week and people say you “must be overtraining” – newsflash: you are going to get really scared of normal mileage levels. Training for the New Jersey Marathon last year, I really did the minimum possible. I just maximized the training I did on the days I did run. My highest mileage week was 40…and that was the week I did my 20-miler. I did a 20-miler and a 18 (okay, 17.8...)-miler, and those were my two “really long” runs. That’s it. To feel totally prepared for 26.2 as I did come May 5th…that was pretty awesome. I’m considering the theory now that running more will teach my body to handle more, though…and furthermore, actually prevent overuse injuries my strengthening everything just because I’ve taught my body to better handle stresses.A podiatrist once told me he thought my stress fractures happened because my body needed more years of running to truly get used to the stress of running. It took awhile, but I’m starting to get that. I am in no place in my training to experiment – Boston is a mere three months away! However, I’m going to try to add one more run a week that my former, paranoid self would not have done. Continue to do PT and core and cross training to the max. See how I feel. It can’t hurt…unless, well, it does.
I did one workout last week with the Intervals group. It was nice and easy to start: 3 x 10 minute tempo with five minutes rest (mostly active). I felt better as time went on, averaging about 6:59 for the first, 6:42 for the second, and 6:35 for the last. Clearly that was not a workout meant for marathon training, but it’s still early. As the weeks go on though, expect me to be on the prowl for the best marathon-specific workouts others (all of you…) have done…as I said before, this is something I do not want to skimp on over the next three months!
* * * * * * * *
SHOE REPORT: this just in, from the land of shoes…
New Ravenna: I am still running through the pair of Brooks Ravenna 4s I got in October, but the Ravenna 5 came out January 1st! I’m getting seeded a pair any day now and I can’t wait to try them out!
Sayonara: Riley stopped by today and graciously gave my coworkers and me some lightly-used (former testers) pairs of the Mizuno Wave Sayonara! The first time I tried on this shoe I wasn’t a fan, but it turned out I was trying a half size too big. I wore them for the rest of the day at work and concluded that I really liked them! (It may have helped that they weren’t the magenta ones….) I’d like to try them out for a short and fast workout…I will report back after said workout occurs.
New Balance Fresh Foam 890: This new technology from NB won’t be released until the first of February, but we were given a sneak peak at our annual work party Friday. We’ll all be getting a pair so I shall report back on those as well. It reminds me of the Adidas Boost, but then again we don’t carry Adidas so I was never fully teched on that anyway.
Brooks Transcend: Finally, the Transcend is coming out February first as well. I’ve seen the shoe in person several times – heck, I’ve even sat inside of it:
…and falsely advertised its release date months after the fact:
…so long story short: it will be good for this thing to actually get here. In the meantime, I’m channeling the energy garnered from my anticipation toward drawing spaceships:
I’ll have lots more to say when I actually run in all of these shoes, of course. This got lengthy; I didn’t even realize I had enough to say about shoes to fill an entirely new post until I was well underway!
Last weekend, I went to New York City to work the marathon expo, as I did last year. I was not particularly excited this time around, mostly because it took a lot of planning just to get there, and I was in the peak of training and I knew it would take at least a few days to recover from the physical and mental exhaustion of the event. Still, I remained positive as I put together this whole plan of packing, dropping everything off at work, running to work, staying at a friend’s house, storing extra stuff at work, and walking to the connecting train early Friday morning to take it to the main NJ Transit station, which would in turn take me to NYC. Phew. To make matters worse, it was raining and ridiculously windy, and an entire water bottle leaked in my bag before I set foot on the first train. By the time I got to the Javits Center with all my stuff for the weekend, I already wanted a shower. Heck, I wanted a shower before sunrise. A twelve hour day of working on my feet, bright lights, and talking was ahead of me though. Long story short: I will never be a candidate to commute to another city for work. I need hours to get myself together after a single trip, it seems…that’s not good.
Thus, my own mini-marathon began. On Friday, day two of the expo and day one for me, I was assigned to work with CEP, but we had so many staff there that we were actually blocking the product, so I moved over to Superfeet, where I got to see two of my favorite reps, Anna and Rich (they were at the RW expo too)! I also tried beef jerky for the FIRST TIME, which was mind-blowing. Perhaps I shouldn’t have tried expensive, gourmet, flavored beef jerky first…I’m probably going to expect all future beef jerky experiences to be just as good. It was KRAVE Jerky…I can’t even look at the pictures, I just can’t…linking it and exiting that window right now.
Clearly, the beef jerky was a memorable event at this year’s expo for me. Moving on. I eventually found myself needed at the Brooks booth (yessss), where I was stationed in the apparel section and then on one of the registers for the remainder of the expo that day. A strange moment happened when I saw a man holding two basketballs and commented, “Basketballs? That’s the wrong sport!” He replied with, “Or the right one! You don’t know who I am?” Note: when someone says “you don’t know who I am?” take that as a
warning that you are a.) justified in not knowing who he/she is, and b.) you are about to get a lengthy explanation of who he/she is. Turns out he was “Doctor Dribble,” and dribbles two basketballs while running marathons to raise money for charity. Apparently he holds a Guinness World Record for dribbling during a marathon.
Eight o’clock finally came. After closing up the registers, warding off rumors that the expo was until nine, and convincing fellow female coworkers that we should request a departure for the hotel, I escaped to fresh air for the first time since before 9 AM. Expos give you a warped sense of things…NYC air becomes fresh air, etc.
Later that night, everyone who was anyone in the running industry found themselves on the lower level of Rosie O’Grady’s, like every year on NYCM weekend. I got to catch up with people I hadn’t seen in awhile as well as meet new people I had heard of but never met before. I saw Megan and Hannah, met an editor at Running Times, met some cool people from our corporate office, had a business-related chat with the founder of a successful chain of running specialty stores, possibly met Desi, and definitely lost my voice. It was an overwhelming runner’s paradise, complete with alcohol. I only wish it wasn’t so late and everyone could have stayed longer…but unfortunately everyone still had at least one work day ahead of them.
Saturday…I somehow held on surprisingly well after little sleep and general exhaustion. I worked at the Garmin booth all day, which was more exciting than I anticipated. I got to play around with the brand-new Forerunner 220 and 620! And let me tell you…they are awesome. You know when you see an old gadget and think of how it looks ancient compared to whatever is new? These watches made my 210 look old. No lie. I don’t wish I waited for the 220, since I got my watch in April and it has helped my training tremendously since then. However, if there was some sort of option to trade, I would do it in a second. The most notable improvements, in my opinion, are: 1.) weight and size: the 220 is as
sleek and light as an everyday watch, 2.) wireless uploading, and 3.) the buttons are much easier to press. The third reason may sound strange, but sometimes I have issues with the buttons on my 210…they aren’t the easiest things to find or press hard enough, especially while you’re running and wearing gloves, or during a hard speed workout when you really don’t want to expend your energy on pushing a darn button. Kudos, Garmin. Both models have increased $50, but for the improvements, it’s probably worth it. The black and blue 620 was so popular at the expo, we sold out of it early on Saturday.
I’m not going to go into detail about the extra time we spent after the expo technically closed at 5:00 PM on Saturday. We were there until after 9:00 PM, with the union workers, moving and carrying and stacking heavy boxes and not really knowing what was going on or how late we would be needed. I debated trying to get another night in the city out of my trip, but after going to one bar with a coworker for a quick drink while carrying two big bags, I decided to catch the next train back to Princeton from Penn Station. I ended up boarding one with three minutes to spare, not even realizing a train was leaving at that time, and then catching a free University bus back to town after that. I met up with some friends as soon as I was back, and they questioned my sanity for leaving New York after ten on a Saturday night. But you know what? I was so relieved. I felt so at home and so relaxed. I no longer was holding heavy bags, no longer felt rushed (I even wished I’d skipped the little bar and ran right to the train from Javits, honestly). I was happily exhausted and I couldn’t wait to go to sleep and then return to normal life. I will write more about this later, because this was a weekend that made me realize how much I love Princeton.
Princeton Half Marathon Morning
On Sunday, I awoke to the sound of cheering outside. I had thought about waking up early enough to catch the start of the inaugural half marathon, then go for my long run, and then go to work. Plan B was to wake up and start my long run way before the start, so I would arrive at the finish in time to see the fastest runners come through, then go to work. I decided on Plan C: do whatever the heck I felt like doing, and maybe the timing would match up and I would see part of the race. I ended up beginning my run at 9:00 AM, and the start had been at 7:30 AM, so I did see some people I knew heading down the final stretch to the finish. The first few miles of my run (my plan was 13 miles) was along the course; I ran on the other side of the road in the opposite direction. I saw plenty of people I knew, friends and customers alike, and cheered them on as I ran. It was a nice, distracting start to the run. I split from the course eventually, and entered a more quiet zone. I had expected this run to be quite the death march after the crazy weekend on my feet with very little sleep (and Halloween week before…just saying). It wasn’t so bad, though. I didn’t go out far enough for thirteen, and ended up doing some circling around downtown when I got back. In hindsight, I should have done an actual extra loop somewhere, but I didn’t…oops:
A very interesting phenomenon occurred, during the entire run when there were people around, but particularly in the last couple miles when I was doing all this adding-on-distance nonsense to make 13 miles. People on the sidewalks seemed to think that if I was running, I should be running the half marathon. At least, that was the vibe I got from all the comments: “You’re running the wrong way!” “Why are you still running?” “Did you get a late start?” “You should’ve started earlier and done the half marathon” “Why aren’t you in this?” “Doing your own half marathon?” And the comments behind my back: “Why is she running now?” “Why didn’t she just run the race?” “Why is she running over here?” PEOPLE, CALM YOURSELVES. ALSO, YOU’RE NOT FUNNY. Just because I am running, and there is/was a half marathon within a few blocks of where I am right now, does not mean I cannot run through this town. I wasn’t really angry or frustrated by the comments, I was more amused by the number of people who just didn’t get it. Call me a running snob, I don’t care, I’ve probably earned it long ago and that’s cool with me if I’m speaking truths, but:
Running is not racing. I am training for the Philadelphia Half Marathon. I raced a ten miler and a 10k a few weeks ago and I am allotting the three Sundays in between those races and that race for quality long runs. I just worked the New York City Marathon expo and got back to NJ less than twelve hours ago; I spent twenty-four hours on my feet this weekend, with poor sleep and poor nutrition to boot. I am feeling run down from all of this, and I need to run thirteen miles easy today. Running thirteen miles at whatever pace I feel like running is what my body can handle. Racing a half marathon after all that, and two weeks out from my goal race? No. Why would I ever do that? If I ran the Princeton Half Marathon, with a bib number, I would race it. I would probably feel horrendous, yet still make myself run pretty fast, and then get sick, and sabotage my goal race. I might injure my calves, which were noticeably cramping up after not having much time to hydrate during the weekend.
To summarize: yes, I live in Princeton. Yes, I work at a running store in Princeton. Yes, I had thirteen miles to run on the same morning. Yes, I chose not to run the Princeton Half a long time ago because I knew my schedule and I knew that it didn’t have a good place in it, for smart reasons. I am happy with my decision. Some runners can run races, and work them into their schedules as long runs. I can’t. That’s just the runner I am, and honestly, I don’t have a desire to change that. Running may be racing to some people, and I respect those runners’ goals and perspectives. But, I am not one of those runners, and I can only hope my goals and perspectives can be respected too.
Anyway, I ended up running a semi-hilly 13.0 miler at 7:51 pace (I ranged from 7:20 to 8:20…), feeling much better when I finished than when I started. The marathon of a weekend continued, as I worked all day and tracked lots of people via the awesome NYCM tracking app on my phone and watched live coverage at the finish on our store iPad (yay for working technology!). The app allowed me to track up to ten runners…as each one finished, I added another – there were so many people I wanted to track! Congrats to everyone who ran (and a shout-out to fellow bloggers I follow, Susan and Hollie, my coworker Becca, and a member of my running group, Michelle, who finally got her sub-4)!
That weekend was very much about waiting my turn to race. I was absolutely fine with it.
Next up, the last couple weeks of training and Philadelphia Half Marathon goals, all that required stuff….
If I told you my Halloween fun (and stress?) stopped when I put my sparkly green Tinkerbell shoes away in the closet (to be worn again…when? No clue), I would be lying. When I realized I had very limited time left to snatch the opportunity to decorate the window at the store, I spent all day on Tuesday getting supplies, and all night after the track workout putting my plan into action. Each year I make a store pumpkin, and there was no way I was skipping it this year. Here’s an evolution of the pumpkins…I’m on year three:
And a drumroll please for this year…
I should tell you that I added some glow-in-the-dark paint, and glitter, to this year’s pumpkin! So, what it lacks in creative paint design, it makes up for in luminescence. Clearly, I didn’t stop at the pumpkin this year. I got totally tangled up in fake spiderwebs each time I turned on the pumpkin lights (i.e., twice a day), and when I realized I hadn’t changed the mannequin’s top yet, but this window display was worth it. The result:
The loose straw will inevitably cause my coworkers to give me some grief, but I assured them I would clean it up thoroughly. They responded with comments that reassured me the Styrofoam snow (from the Valentine’s Day window) was still on the top of the Meghan’s Messiest Projects list. In the clear. I think the green glitter (St. Patrick’s Day window 2012) is second, because there was some deja-vu-inspired outcries when my Tinkerbell shoes and sparkly shirt made their way into the store last week….
I contemplated dressing as some sort of inanimate object we sell for Halloween at work Thursday, but the thought of constructing something out of cardboard that would resemble the Stick or a foam roller made my head hurt after all the other efforts I had already put into this holiday. So, I decided that an inspiring female runner would be my costume. I actually started off in normal clothes, and had just thrown some things into my bag; not feeling like doing it after all after putting final touches on another costume and packing for New York the night before. Then I got excited about it, and a Grete Waitz costume was fabricated (appropriate for pre-New York City Marathon weekend):
Gosh, I love dressing up. So does the local high school cross country team, who ended up running past the store during their practice! One of the mothers gave us a heads up, so we had plenty of warning time to go outside and take a lot of pictures. I sent them in to a local newspaper the next morning on the train to NYC, but I’m not sure anything ever became of that…perhaps Halloween was already old news (never!). Anyway, they were pretty sweet.
We had some trick-or-treaters stop by later in the evening, which was fun also. THge clock struck closing time and after taking out the trash still dressed as Grete (I’m glad it was 65 degrees and humid that day!), I transformed into a flapper/Great Gatsby-themed character via costume number three! I am a big fan of the book and movie…and the movie’s soundtrack! I went to see it before the official opening day this May, and my friend and I dressed as flappers. That was a subpar effort, however. Halloween night I tried to do a better job, but didn’t go all-out and make a dress with beads and such, as I thought I should do back in the spring (enough stress is enough…I’ve never had three costumes before!). Here was the movie outfit (May 9th):
I learned that day that my hair is not compatible with the traditional flapper-inspired headband across the forehead. It just doesn’t stay put. So, I bypassed that entire idea and embellished a traditional headband of my own with gems, feathers, and pearls. I wore heels, tights, a dress I already had, and a couple different necklaces attached together.
…and part of a mandatory photoshoot before these candle pumpkin bags are thrown out:
With “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody” stuck in my head, I attended a party at a local bar, at which my friend won a $100 cash prize for best costume! Afterward, I watched Scream for the first time (CHECK, for all those who have as list going of the movies they cannot believe I haven’t seen), which was superb. Not even kidding. Just when I thought Halloween was over, it got better. Cheers to that!
A lot of people ran in Halloween-themed races…I have yet to run in a costume (the sparkle skirt doesn’t count); if you have, tell me what it was like! I hope you had a great Halloween!
Next up: My NYC Marathon expo experience, the basics from a work perspective…and probably all the in between the lines, cold hard truth stuff surrounding it which is bound to come out sometime.
I feel like this year especially, the vibe in the city is going to be amazing for all the runners, since the marathon didn’t happen last year and this part of the country was rather distracted by sad, discouraging things as a result of Hurricane Sandy. I am heading up on Friday morning to work at the expo all day Friday and Saturday (8 AM – 8 PM…bring on the insanity! Just kidding, I’m totally not mentally ready yet). The NYCM expo last year was a big week for me…if you’ve ever had a moment you define as a “turning point” in your life, you understand. I can’t pinpoint one thing that made it like this for me, but I came back to New Jersey feeling like there was “Before NYC” and “After NYC.” Or more accurately, “Before and After Sandy/NYC.” It wasn’t the first expo I had worked, but it was the first at which I felt truly immersed in the running industry community. This was strengthened by the fact that staff from other stores had flown in from across the country to work with us that weekend, and I was finally getting to meet them! At this time, I was still interested in pursuing job opportunities within the field (more on this later, but there’s a reason I avoid writing about it), so this was a “day-in-the-life” experience for me to the extreme. Not to mention the experience of being there when rumors were flying about the cancellation, people were being denied their bibs after cancellation (that didn’t last long…), and the official announcement was made. The run in Central Park among a sea of orange shirts, many runners speaking different languages, just solidified the entire weekend. A combination of all of these things – and an escape from my wind-beaten, electric-powerless town – made my first true NYCM expo experience like stepping into another life for five days. I can’t believe a year has passed…wait, I can…since this monumental weekend of meeting new friends and coworkers and witnessing the power and unity of the running community. I remember signing up for Twitter as soon as I got home (but not using it until February…) and asking a friend about how to start a blog. That’s how much I wanted to write and reflect on my mixed-emotion experiences that week. Here’s a look back on the 2012 NYCM weekend in pictures.
First, here’s the scene I left:
...and here’s the world I entered in NYC:
Clearly, this post isn’t really about the marathon itself. Those posts can be saved for those of you who are actually racing this weekend! Good luck to everyone and relish in the energy. Someday I’ll run New York, but I’m not in a big rush. (I clearly need to get my priorities straight before committing to racing on a Halloween weekend…).
If you’ll be at the expo Friday or Saturday, I’m assigned to work with CEP allll day Friday (8 AM – 8 PM) and with Garmin alllll day Saturday (8 AM – 8 PM again). If you come and say hi, I would love it if you also gave me some free food. I know it’s around at the expo…but sometimes we can’t escape (and Gu Chomps do not agree with me for lunch!). Expos are hard work but they’re worth it because I get to see so many people I am acquainted with through running, all in one place.
Good luck if you’re running NYC! Visit me at the expo!