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.


Tale of two workouts: lemonade & an audience

During what was probably simultaneously the busiest, hardest, and generally most awesome week of my training thus far, the week that just ended, I ended up doing two workouts. I  mentioned two posts ago that I was leaving to do the “Michigan workout.” Well, no such luck. For the second year in a row, something went wrong and I didn’t end up doing it, meaning I haven’t actually done the workout since March 2011. Someday. I swear. Anyway, it wasn’t the end of the world. The track area was completely occupied because of a lacrosse game, and there was too much traffic to drive to another track. I had also already warmed up two miles to the track. I took control over the situation (there was a group of four) and decided we should do mile repeats on the neighboring roads instead. We did a trial loop together to figure out a good mile to use, and luckily got it on the first try (my sense of distance is getting good, what can I say). We basically just ran until our watches said 1.00 anyway, because we were all wearing GPS watches. We alternated directions and there were rolling hills the whole time, especially during the mile where I didn’t make a turn and improvised. Yeah that’s right, I got lost and made up the loop myself. It happens. I could tell I felt pretty tired though, almost moreso than after the 21-miler the week before (I only did 16.5 Sunday), so I chose to just do four repeats and then cool down two miles: 6:17, 6:31 (the one I accidentally made super hilly…), 6:21, 6:28. It was hard to compare the effort to track times, but I’d say I would have been hitting 6:08-6:14 if I had been on a track. Overall I finished feeling like I gave a pretty good effort but felt a bit flat. Being my typical corny self post-workout, I exclaimed that these were the “lemonade miles,” because we made lemonade out of lemons (the lacrosse players occupying the track). Ha, ha, ha.

 YASSO 800s

I don’t know where the fatigue went from Tuesday’s workout, but it was gone by Wednesday night and I was itching to run so much that I did a rare after-work run in the dark around 8:00pm, averaging 7:36 and feeling smooth. Maybe I was partially just mad that my bike tube was flat when I went to ride it in the morning. ( 😦 ) Regardless, the week was not over yet. Friday, I had a marathon of a day that included a 6AM-12PM work shift at one place and a 3PM-7PM shift at the other, giving me less than three hours – more like less than two – to do something worthwhile, running-related. Not to nap, who would think of that idea?

I was torn between a six-mile tempo on the towpath at 6:35-6:45 pace or Yasso 800s. Then on Wednesday night, I saw online that Jenny had beasted her Yasso 800s and it inspired me so much that I knew I had to choose them for my workout too. I got excited to see how my times this year would compare to last year. It was a wet and windy afternoon. I headed to the University track having recently remembered that there was an evening track meet there. A few teams had already arrived, and it looked like people were doing drills. Not many, though. Normally I would leave because I a.) don’t like to be in anyone’s way, I really should work on that because sometimes I don’t even recognize my own rights to be places/etc., and b.) I would hate it  if a coach told me to get off the track mid-workout…especially during Yassos, when I would not be stopping at all. Luckily, I took the risk and everything was totally fine. The meet didn’t start for several more hours, and hardly anyone was running on the track for more than 100 meters, and not even in lane one. Phew (I can only make lemonade so many times in one week).

Last year, I averaged 3:22 or 3:23. I remember there were a couple times I stopped after a hard 800. I was not feeling mentally 100% that day. This year, I did not stop once, or even want to. I know there are different versions of Yassos out there, so for clarity, I did 8 x 800m with 200m recoveries at a not-super-slow pace. I could have done 10 but I was short on time and I thought 8 was sufficient since I did the mile repeats two days before. The results….

So, I averaged ~6:24 pace (I could’ve sworn I calculated a 3:10 average, oops) for the 800s and 8:01 pace for the 200m recoveries, which I consider “normal pace.” I’m pretty sure I can credit the latter faster-than-“recovery” pace to the fact that 1.) There were a few dozen people around me watching, and if I ran them really slow I’d look lame for using the track if someone didn’t see me do the fast portions, and 2.) I was afraid I’d get asked to leave at any moment and wanted to get the workout done as quickly as possible without cutting it short. Sounds ridiculous I know, but hey – there is apparently something to be said for having an audience (of probably very good athletes) during a workout! Overall, it went by really quickly and I felt really good throughout. There was a strong headwind on the backstretch, but just as I made the turn after, I was almost being pushed by the wind, so it was both my friend and foe. While I’m not one to say that Yasso 800 times = Boston times 100%, it was a good workout regardless and it made me more confident in the way any good workout does. One more stat that’s pretty cool to think about: the workout totaled (I know Garmins are a little off on the track, but whatever) 5.02 miles in 33:09, 6:37 average pace. It might be fun to run one of the big five-mile races at the shore early this summer….

Girls on the Run!

The next day was my first day coaching Girls on the Run! It was pretty awesome. The highlight was a literal goose chase: a dog jumped in the pond to chase a swimming goose, and the girls freaked out and started sprinting the path around the pond chanting, “get the goose!” At this rate, they are going to learn the importance of pacing a lot earlier than is in their curriculum. The incident channeled my inner 9-year-old, because I thought it was just as hilarious as they did and proceeded to tell friends about it as I’m sure they did (and, I just told you all now…). I think it will be an interesting adventure for both me and the girls. 🙂

I forgot to take a picture (there are pretty yellow flowers among the brown branches on the little island!), but here's one of the pond we run around (also for Intervals!).
I forgot to take a picture (there are pretty yellow flowers among the brown branches on the little island!), but here’s one of the pond we run around (also for Intervals!).

Next, a recap of my final [really long] long run before Boston on Sunday, a day that ended up having an itinerary mimicking those in my book of hypothetical Best Days Ever (which only exists in my head as of now, if you were wondering).

runnerd excitement!

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 EdgeThe 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.

Part of the loop (downhill section) we did for our interval workout Tuesday. First time on a soft surface in sooo long!

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.

Image5.) 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….)

Running friends! Jane was the one who told me about the event. As usual.
Running friends! Jane was the one who told me about the event. As usual. 

View from the "yoga studio."
View from the “yoga studio.”
They said they'll fill anything...waterbottles, pitchers....
They said they’ll fill anything…waterbottles, pitchers….

…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:

Must see.
Must see. I f I knew how to write that in Italian I would. 

 That’ll do for my exciting news for now!