Friday, April 24, 2015

The best race pics ever, fashion and recovery!

Ugh recovery! I was such a strugglebus up until today. I'm not sure what to blame, the notorious hills, the cold weather, the 7 week training plan or WHAT but I can't remember the last time I was so sore after a marathon. ***whine*** It might not have been ideal to climb into the car and drive home quickly post race but it got me back to work and bringing home the bacon quickly and that was the goal for this year. Mission accomplished.

The stellar news is that starting today I felt quite good. I suppose that the other pleasant news is that my "problem areas" from the past did not flare up at all and the agonistic pain and suffering was completely in my quads and (oddly) inner calves. Woof. Send help, or a massage therapist.

I plan to ease into a couple of miles this weekend and then see what happens. I have some upcoming plans so while PR's and speed won't be a goal for a while, I do hope to recover enough to run some solid, easy miles soon.

I found out some great news post race, which was that the Crow Athletics Women's open team that I was on place 10th! This is really incredible and while I know I was not one of their fastest women it is an honor to be on such a badass and impressive team. Way to go ladies!

Due to my good mood this year I got some pretty funny Boston race pics- I always hesitate to shell out mad cash for race photos but sometimes you just have to go for it.
I was the only person with an umbrella. The photographers took like, 45 pics just like this....

For the first time EVER that there was NO line for the sign! So there I was!
Also, please take note of my incredible layering system. The winter hat and visor. The glorious poo brown sweatpants (with running tights AND long underwear underneath) The incredible AQUA fleece (which had a 20 year old thermal fleece underneath and a singlet...) It merits mention that (in my BAA approved FANNY PACK) I also had an emergency heat sheet (which I used) a rain poncho, hand and foot warmers (which I used and shared) plastic bags to wrap around my shoes to keep the rain out- fashion win- as well as a battery pack for my phone (which I gave to a kid at the start) and snacks, obvs. If anyone wants to hang out with the best prepared person next year please come find me!

15K. The guy in front of me really wins for fashion. I am impressed. 

OMG JAZZ HANDS! SO PUMPED. ..relax lady you have 168 miles to go...

Newton. Soooo cold, trying to warm up my lobster claw hands....

The fun thing about this year- on top of having a blast and a great race- is that I knew, for the most part, where photos get taken so I could prepare and ham it up. I took full advantage. I'm going to make my Mom a collage of "Sara's amazing race pics" which she is sure to love and cherish. Lucky my Mom.

Finish! WHOO go me and my bright pattern tights!
In other fashion news, you can clearly see the effects of my added clothing in Newton. PINK gloves and arm sleeves. So glad to have them. So damn cold and rainy!

The obligatory post race pic, BIG smile!


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Shake it off: Or, Boston Marathon 2015: where things get awesome.

Everyone knows about last years Boston experience. I was PR hunting in a big way and was very singularly focused on that- to the point where I ignored overly warm weather conditions and was not willing to change my plan. Mile 18, DIE. Then I spent the next few months questioning everything including if marathoning was worth it. (it isn't all rainbows and unicorns.)

Fast forward one year to yesterday and there I was, in Hopkinton with thousands of other people, in a tent, in the cold and rain and grinning my stupid face off. Yeah, that was me.
I was so happy to be there. I was the happiest person in the damn world! I was totally ready for a crap day of weather and so pumped to shake off the demons from last year and run whatever race was in store for me. Clearly, I had decided that it WAS worth it.

Two hats, two fleeces and a sweatshirt and three pairs of pants. YEP.
I'm still running garmin-less since I'm just too cheap to buy another. My plan was to "feel" like I was running 8:30's since that seemed like a reasonable pace given my training. I figured I could use the clocks at each mile for a rough estimate of how I was doing. "Calm and Reasonable" was my game plan- I wished to make it to the final 8 miles with gas left in the tank.

I snuck into my coral with only seconds to go. I'm sick and tired of having to take a pee break at mile 5 so I made a start line pit stop. Super smart, and I made it to coral 6 in time for the all important selfie. 

Down to one sweatshirt. One pair of pants. Two hats.  Happy not to be sweating!
From the start I felt good. I have always had some issue in Boston, either I take 10 miles to get into it or I'm a dumbass and run like I'm an elite and then fall over. Needless to say I was happy that my body got right into the action and even happier that I was consciously limiting my desire to sprint away with the win.
"Just be smart and easy" I kept telling myself  "run your own race, don't get sucked into chasing people." "Don't think about last year, just shake it off!"

There were a few rain showers in the first miles and it was cool but the wind was non existent (or, so little that I did not notice it.) (I had my last long run in a 40 mph headwind so there's that too.) The crowds were still out in droves despite the weather creating all kinds of mayhem which was great fun.

Thru the 5k and 10k I was running perfectly even splits according to my mental math. I thought I was somewhere in the 8:15 range and that was fine because I was feeling great. Happy legs, easy breathing, no issues. Somewhere around the 10K I had one of those "OMFG I'm running BOSTON AGAIN and it is SO AMAZING" moments which, of course, turned me into a crying mess. I pulled myself together because, seriously, and turned on my ipod for distraction from my own excitement.

Everyone talks about the Newton Hills but I have my own issues with Natick. It is 400 miles long and uphill in every direction. WHY? I really hated that stretch of road last year but this year I was up, over and through it before I even knew it. Which promptly had me celebrating and sobbing some more about how incredible everything, especially running Boston is.
I was just SO. DAMN. HAPPY.

From Wellsley to Newton it rained pretty hard and I was glad to have the distraction of more big crowds and a good (above pace- I'm bad at math) half marathon split. 1:44 might be the slowest first half I have ever run in Boston but it certainly was the smartest.

I feel like there are a few miles, maybe between 14-17 that are a little tricky. Maybe it is simply because one has been running for a while and there still is a ways to go, or maybe the adrenaline has worn off- who knows, but every year I lag slightly in this zone.  If I ever hit a small low point during the race it was then and I snapped out of it quickly. "SHAKE IT OFF" I shouted at myself "you are running smart and strong and there will be no whining!" And so it was, I had some snacks and got back to work.  Upsettingly, I also saw a clown during this period of time which is most certainly something I never wish for. (really, there was a clown creepily standing on the roadside. OMG. Who does this?) It was a good reason to try to run faster, so I fled.

Because of the cool temps and precip I was getting pretty chilled but knew that at mile 18 my Dad was waiting with a bag of dry clothing.*heaven* I was having a debate with myself about if stopping was worth it, but since my arms were completely numb and my hands were like little lobster claws I knew I had to! I started looking forward to warm arm sleeves and dry gloves at mile 15....

Needless to say at 18 I came to a full halt, my Dad and I wrestled the sleeves onto my soggy arms, I snagged some extra food, grabbed my gloves and I was off- about 2 minutes later. (my poor Dad drives 600 hours to see me for 2 minutes! Best Dad ever.) Dad and his brother had been standing there with gigantic umbrellas for who knows how long just to see me for a tiny moment, but it is a great couple minutes of the race for me!
At any rate, it was the smartest 2 minute stop that I have EVER made. I was immediately so much more comfortable that I dropped the hammer and started running like someone was chasing me!
....and then my shoe came untied.... Triple knots. UNTIED. So I stopped and my lobster claw hands managed to get the damn shoe tied- I was laughing and wishing someone would help me! I felt like it took 10 minutes but it probably took 1.

Anywhoo. I jumped back up and ran as fast as I could to the finish.
No seriously, that is what I did. Like an effing boss. Sure, it was a positive split finish but there was all that mile 18 stopping- and the hills- and shit shoelaces- but no lie, I ran like a superhero for those last 8 miles. High fiving all the people, smiling like an idiot, telling my screaming quads to shut up.

All I could remember was the death march of last year and how now I was running through the rain like a lunatic, having the best time ever and leaving 2014 in my dust. Honestly you guys, it was incredible. I have never had such a good time running a marathon. And yes, it was cold and rainy and not exactly a stylish running day but I didn't care- I trained in horrible weather all winter for a horrible weather day and here is was. No complaints.

Turning onto Boylston I ran by my Uncle Bill who was cheering his head off and, keeping in the mood of the day I started crying and cried all the way through the finish line. I'm an emotional mess of a woman. While a 3:33:07 might not be the fastest time of my running career I honestly believe it was one of the best runs of my life. Complete redemption. Happiest marathon that I have ever had.

Upon finishing I immediately froze a horrible death. I don't know if the wind just picked up then or if I simply ignored it while running (I believe that is the case) but either way, it was 45 degrees and wet and windy and I got stupid cold. Luckily my perfect husband met me quickly and put all 3 of his jackets onto my shivering body. If THAT is not love I don't know what is! I told him that giving me all of his clothing on this particular day made me almost as happy as the day he proposed a few years ago. That says something about how cold I was! (and how thoughtful Eric is!)

Back to THREE jackets and a heat sheet of magic.
I spent today being pretty damn sore but it certainly didn't take away from the sense of pride that I have in my race yesterday. Getting to run Boston is a really big deal and I felt so lucky to be there again. While I was focused enough to run my own race I really picked up on the positive energy of the crowds this year more than ever and tremendously enjoyed what a special experience it was.

So there it is, Boston Marathon 2015. A day of rain and cold, happy crying, the best feeling marathon I have ever run, my great family supporting me, terrifying clowns, screaming crowds and redemption.

The HAPPIEST of running!


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Boston Marathon Expo Time!!

For the past two years Eric and I have turned Marathon weekend into a big event. Usually spending several days with Family and staying in the city, socializing, seeing a game, running the 5K (Eric) and having a really fun time.
This year shaped up a bit differently with both work and finances telling us to trim down a bit. While Boston is a bit of a drive from us it is close enough to be able to make an early trip down for the expo, returning on Sunday to stay with family living within easy striking distance.

So this morning, instead of waking up at zero dark thirty to dash to the 5K I woke up at home, and proceeded to put on all my new attire and drink coffee. Totally normal!

Love the mug!!!! And the jacket, which looks better in person.
Much to my delight, yesterday was Expo day! One of the best days of the year!

Fridays are not always the easiest day for me to take off but since I have had months to plan this outing I was able to work it all out and my Dad and I hit the road right on time to get there the second it opened.

Road trip yo.
After a rather amusing attempt at parking, which resulted in us throwing our hands up in the air and opting for Valet (so fancy) we moseyed up Boylston and saw the longest line ever waiting to get in.

Apparently we are the best at timing things, and smart not to bring bags, or just famous- because as we walked up to get in the huge line an additional door opened and they shooed us in! (it was obvious that the long line was a line with people who had bags- we are not the biggest line cutting jerks to ever live.)

In typical BAA form they kept the line moving smoothly and I was able to obtain both my bib and shirt in under 15 minutes which is delightful.

Good luck copying my bib with the big red X, bandits... :-(
 You NEVER would have thought  the short lines possible with all the people pouring in!
Just like that!
I had prepared a plan of attack for the expo itself. I am one who becomes easily distracted by all the pretty things and any plan I might have started with fails quickly. I had a feeling that my Dad might not be too fond of my distracted meanderings so I had created a list of places to go, where they were and exactly what I needed. Literally, turn by turn GPS directions.
So. Organized.

I was delighted by how pretty the finishers jacket was in person so I went off list a bit and splurged on one. I LOVE my jacket from 2013 and would love to keep it nice, so I did not feel guilty about this purchase! I collected my other hoped for items (track jacket and mug- I could not find the winter hat that I was wishing for...) All that shopping and we easily moved thru the Adidas booth in under 15 minutes. An absolute record- the line itself typically is twice that long!

Some of my Favorites. Official gear, HOKA and Oiselle!!
From there things went smoothly and as planned. Happy runners were everywhere but the crowds were polite and manageable. I enjoyed being able to talk to the reps and chat about the products that I use. In the past when I have been expo-ing things are so busy that I don't bother with chatter.

I had excellent luck at City Sports, grabbing the beautiful, limited edition Oiselle Boston shirts. I loved the color choices this year and was happy to get an extra as a gift!

I'm sure it comes as no great shock to anyone that I picked up my next pair of Hoka's. I got pretty excited seeing some of the soon to be released shoes- they are doing a nice job creating a great product which works wonderfully for me.  I love freebies so was pumped to be gifted a visor and shirt, totally made my purchase even more worth it!

Cheezin' it up. I'm such a geek haha.
After swinging through North Face for a couple more gifts my Dad and I went to the most important booth at the entire expo....!!!

Sam Adams. Obviously.

My cup had more beer than my Dad's and he was jealous!
It was the only line that we stood in all day and only about 90 seconds long. We enjoyed our 3 ounces of beer, I picked up a pint glass and an opener for my collection (it is an utter travesty that they did not put openers in the swag bag this year...) We took some selfies which is important.
As we made our way out, my Dad made friends with many of the husband/Dad types who were in dire need of a beer! The tiny cups are not inconspicuous. 

Impressively, we were walking out with everything I had hoped to find (and in good spirits!) two hours later. My Dad was an excellent expo buddy, very helpful in the navigation department, excellent at carrying bags and (as always) good at making new friends. And he helped to drive which was key!

From there we hit the only slight bump in the road when first, the Valet seemed to have lost my car (yeah. he did. but we found it!) Then of course, we hit some traffic but it was no big deal.

So great success! A very fun expo trip!
While it is a bit odd to be back here in Maine working on Marathon weekend it is totally fine for this year. The camaraderie of the thousands of like minded people is something that you don't get to experience that often and certainly is what I miss most but I'll have a few hours on Monday to enjoy it!

So until Monday comes, I'll be staying out of trouble and (sort of) off my feet!

Good luck Everyone!


Thursday, April 16, 2015

It's going down FOR REEEEEEAL!

Four days people. four days.

Other than the constant sense that I certainly could not have trained properly and am terribly unfit I feel reasonably prepared for the upcoming adventure. My feelings of unease, unpreparedness and horrific fitness are normal taper shenanigans so I'm only slightly panicked..!!!

GAME F**ing OVER MAN!!!!! Yeah, slight panic.
All of my workouts of note are done and all that is left to do is get to the damn start line!

I tend to ruminate about the training cycle while tapering and contemplate what I managed to pull off despite horrid weather and general malaise and what I really botched.

This was last week.... Yeah.
-The past 7 weeks, no workouts missed or screwed up
-I have seen consistent improvement in my fitness and speed
-I felt very positive, no whining, procrastinating or avoiding. I just DID my runs.
-Totally decent 20 miler at Eastern States
-Every week had speed, mid length run at base, hill work, super easy day and a long run. Boom.
-Staying uninjured. Yes, complete win.
-Singing. I scare these chickens down the road by singing to them. You're going down FOR REEEAAALLLLL, ya chickens.
-Hydration. For the first time even I believe I have my act together in the hydration department. It only took 3 weeks of feeling disgusting for me to pick up a glass of water and drink it. (more than like, once a day that is.) Go me, much health.
-EATING. I seriously ate so much. WIN.
-Shoes. LOVE the Hoka Clifton's and no, I'm not getting paid to say that....


-Most long runs! the mileage was fine but I felt like the junk queen of crap mountain
-Long runs with an attempt to create the hill profile of Boston. Nope. NOT AT ALL.
-Serious, half marathon pace speed or better. HA HA HA NO NO. Oh well.
-Any kind of cross training. However, I did not expect to do any. I'm not super human...

So here I am 4 days out with legs that are cooperating and ready to get me to the finish. I'm glad that I was able to dedicate some hours to good training this Spring, and I'm also glad to be feeling happy about running and not burned out. Good balance!

I don't have a specific finish time in mind, 3:40 would be great but might be a lofty goal after the #manychallenges of the winter. Thus far, the forecast looks good.

So here's to the next few days of carb loading, trying to rest, going to the expo and getting into the spirit of things! (getting into the spirit won't be hard, I'm really looking forward to getting out there again on Monday and feeling really fortunate to be there again.)


Monday, April 6, 2015

Suddenly... It is TWO WEEKS until Boston!

Two weeks to go...
GAH! How did THAT happen? For the longest time I had about 1,856 weeks to get ready and now the shit has hit the fan and I'm tapering.

Snow. Hill reps. Nut butter. Hoka's. Basically my life.
My final long run, of 18 miles was yesterday and it was the worst. It was 35 degrees with a serious 35-40 MPH wind which made things just as amusing as you would think. At mile 10 I turned onto the road back home and face first into the most intense head wind that I have had the pleasure of running in in quite some time. (also, Emma's Dad- if you are reading- I notice you have a cat. Yeah, I'm the creepy runner that notices spare animals in driveways, let that cat inside and get your son an allergy pill, he'll be ok! ;-))
Anyway, wildlife aside the run was fun good times, and perfect acclimation for what is sure to be an 80 degree day in Boston. I felt as though I was being pushed backwards and I could do little more than laugh and swear and try to stay upright (yeah, now the people in my town think that I run while intoxicated due to my staggering gait. Woof!

Horrid long run aside, last week was decent. All of my other workouts went off without a hitch and that is encouraging. It is hard to believe that I have only spent two weeks fully back on the road vs in on the treadmill but I might as well believe it- because that's the truth! Luckily I was able to get some road time in during the last two weeks in March so that counts for something. I'm also thankful for a successful run at the Eastern States 20- without that I might feel like a hopeless case.

My LEFT FOOT is a hopeless case...
Per the norm I am reflecting back on this training cycle and wondering how this Boston experience will play out.
Two years ago I ran in a 3:31:xx  and felt like I had trained hard, spent 90% of my time road running and despite my worries about the hills I was able to push through. I had an amazing second half of the race and set an (at the time) PR. Like a boss.
Last year I felt like I nailed my training cycle and despite a decent amount of indoor running I had been able to get in all my long runs outdoors, I had run several lead up races and had cross trained like a complete hero (and I was on the verge of a serious burnout but did not know it yet.) Nothing could have prepared me for a hot day and I had a miserable run, ran the first half at PR pace and then blew up, finishing in around 3:55. (this is a respectable pace for sure- simply not what I had trained for. No disrespect to any marathoner of any speed- but when you are training for a sub 3:25 and miss it by 30 minutes it is a lie to say that you are pleased!) 

I ran every run this year, until a few weeks ago on the treadmill- and certainly felt it when I got out onto the roads again. (sorry trashed quads.) It has been terribly cold and I'm used to it, I run nicely in the chilly weather and ask that it just stick around in some capacity until the 21st. While I'm not exactly setting speed records this time around I have been extremely consistent in my training and have been enjoying it. (if only more of it had been on the road in real life conditions...) My mileage has made me happy and has balanced out my concern about lack on endurance over tricky terrain. I'm always worried about the Newton hills- for good reason. They are scary as you think they are.

Bottom line, if it is an 70 (or 60- who am I kidding!?) day in a couple of weeks I am effed to the maximum but will still have fun. I will have a beer with the drunk BC boys, kiss a Wellesley girl, take selfies with my Dad at mile 18.5 and steal candy from the kids in Kenmore. This actually sounds like a really great time!

If I luck out and it is a maximum of 42 degrees and variably overcast, with freak snow showers, maybe some ice, and also a 50 MPH wind (tail wind, or tail gale as I have been calling it) I will win the whole race and be on the cover of Runners World next month since the entire world will be shocked by my running dominance in horrible conditions! HAH! This too is a great plan. There will be no middle ground, I plan to either win or walk. The end.

I'm excited though. I feel like there isn't pressure this year, I already qualified for 2016, I don't feel like I have trained for a PR, I am taking the casual approach to the whole shebang (says the person who just tapped out a million miles.... it's all relative!)

My motto for this year is "flexibility' I plan to roll with the punches, adjust according to weather and have a helluva great day out there. I'm lucky to be able to experience something as cool as running the Boston Marathon and I appreciate every year that I make it to the start. After questioning my ability as much as I did last year I appreciate even more what it takes to make it to the start of this journey and it isn't something that I would ever take for granted.

All of us who line up in two weeks have a hard earned spot there. We all deserve to celebrate the fact that we made it, and this year I plan to enjoy every step on my way to the finish.