Monday, November 23, 2015

Philadelphia Marathon: Basically Running.

And just like that, I blinked and it was over. Whew, what a whirlwind weekend.

And a GREAT one. Seriously you guys, there were a ton of great moments this weekend and I am absolutely going to give you a blow by blow of ALL the details.
*in two parts. even my most devoted fans can not be expected to sit through 48 hours worth of my musings*

(I will save details on our tiny bit of touristing, and non race day related shenanigans for the next installment.)

I will, however give you this bit of info. It is tradition in the Bradlowski home to take bets on my marathon finishing time a week prior to race day. Both of us bet on a 3:33xx finish. Never before have we agreed on my finishing time and this made me a bit uneasy....

We began our trip with a drive to Mass, just outside Boston where a lot of my extended family lives. We enjoyed a super fun dinner, a quality beer and (as always) excellent company and conversation with my Uncles Bill and Dave, and Aunts Ann and Karen. We only wish that we could have stayed longer to see more people and enjoy more family time- which there is never enough of! However, this short visit got us off on the right foot for the rest of the trip.

Eric and I were up at a decent hour to catch our flight from Boston to Philly. This was by far our smartest move of the weekend, as the flight was only 45 minutes long and eliminated not only hours of driving, but at least an extra day (and an extra day of lost work) for the trip.

We arrived late morning and took a very inexpensive train ride to Jefferson station, conveniently located right across from our hotel.

You know what was on the OTHER side of the hotel? The expo. Yes, we are possibly the smartest people alive! So the afternoon went down like this, we took a 5 minute flight to Philly, walked 1 foot to our hotel and one more foot to the expo. DONE, like a BOSS.

So how was this expo that I speak of? It was meh.
I'm pretty spoiled by the perfection that is the Boston expo and the splendor that is the NYCM expo. In comparison this one was pretty low key. I suppose I am not too upset about this because I did not bring a big enough bag to pack up tons of new things and I saved lots of money!
I did pick up a cute visor and a nice, and inexpensive fleece.

(we then did a few other fun things which will be included in part two)

Fun things like this
We ate dinner early (at the ever reliable Maggiano's- a stone's throw from our door.)
Following the carb loading, I brought a glass of wine and some chocolate to bed, watched several episodes of "Axe Men" which is both horrible and fascinating, and then proceeded to sleep quite poorly which is not at all unusual.

I awoke at 4:50 feeling fine.
I had packed food to eat, not trusting a reliable on site food source (smart). So I showered, ate food, dressed like some kind of hobo and we were on the road to the start, hotel coffee in hand at 5:30.
This got us (on foot) to the security line just before 6:00, and just before the big crowds arrived. Security was pretty relaxed compared to some of the other marathons I have done but I know that sometimes it is what I don't/can't see that is actually keeping us secure...

Time pretty much flew by- I stood in some porta potty lines, I snacked a bit and before I knew it we were inn the corrals ready to go.
And then, there was a delay because somewhere on the course a car was being towed away after a fender bender. *seriously people!!! get off the damn roads!!!* (kidding) During all the pre race rigmarole I felt completely fine, no nerves, no problems.

Pre Race time
I was in the black corral and being one of the slower people in it (it is based on a projected 3:15-3:35 finishing time I believe) I tried hard to place myself towards the back. Despite this precaution it was a bit of a WWE start for me and I was badly jostled and jabbed upside the head and whacked all around violently which certainly was exciting. Fortunately, the delay of the start had allowed me to freeze sufficiently so as to be too numb to notice the vigorous beating that I was given.

Anyway. After all the thrashing about I just got down to the business of basically running per the plan.
The first half was possibly the most normal 13.1 miles that I had ever run. I felt fine. I was not too excited nor was I bored. I saw Eric at mile 1.5 or so which was nice! For the first couple miles there were all sorts of excited spectators AND THEN.....!!!!
OK then. *spoiled by Boston, what can I say*

All of a sudden sometime around mile 3 I could hear a veritable dance party coming up behind me. I was getting into the groove of a little blurred lines when ALL OF A SUDDEN THERE WAS LESLIE AND SHE WAS THE DANCE PARTY!!!! This was exciting. She took a pic because she is good like that.
We had a very important moment of deep conversation.  Apparently we both felt good at mile 3, which we agreed was good news. I could not figure out why she was anywhere near me, and I bossily commanded her to run faster and win the race. So away she ran never to be seen again (or so I thought, sadly.)

After all that excitement I kept on running (as one is expected to do during such events), saw Eric again around mile 5 which was both confusing because I LITERALLY had no idea where this course went and awesome because I love him and his hot face.
I ran through the 10k in 50:28 and change, at an 8:08 pace.

Then there were a couple hills, and I ran by the 3:35 pace group. They were well adorned with the typical signs and red balloons, and I hoped to keep them just behind me (and assumed that I'd see them if they caught me...)

I really don't have anything too exciting to say about the first half. I ate stuff, drank water, ran like a normal person and did not think about anything much at all. I just ran. It was good. There were historical landmarks. And many runners.

I did have some time to contemplate the weather conditions. While I would say that the temps (48, start to finish) and the precip (none) and the cloud cover (no sunburns!) were absolutely ideal there was a wind brewing. This wind got much worse during the second half (15-18 MPH) and made for some extra challenges, as you will soon see.

I ran through the half in 1:46:10 and change, an 8:08 pace, saw Eric which was good, ran AWAY from the finish (which is at the mile 13 mark. which is also the start)  and PROMPTLY DIED AN AWFUL DEATH.

OK, not exactly. I really thought that I had my head on straight for running away from the finish at the half way point- it is NOT the first time I have done that! But pair that with running directly into the stupid wind and I was like BLEHHH to the MEHHHH. I turned into a real complainer.

For a few miles I tried to figure out how to get grievously injured in a MINOR way so that I could sit down for a bit. I wasn't actually tired at all but I was at that horrible mile 14-16 time when things get disgusting.
I developed a strong dislike for the Schuylkill River. And the Geese.
I got really grumpy at the WIND.
I plotted, half halfheartedly, various silly ways to calmly walk back to the finish and get out of there! In those few moments I was not a big fan.
I was just not that into it and completely lost the motivation to continue on.

UNTIL. I talked myself back into it.
Just after mile 17 we banged a hard left onto a STUPID bridge (yes, I was crabby) so for a moment the wind shifted to my right side. "LISTEN, SLACKER" I told myself "YOU WANT THIS DAMN BQ SO GET YOUR HEAD TOGETHER!"
There was a little out and back (so that we had to run over the bridge again and yeah- you guessed it- back into the wind.) But as I came towards the turn around there was Leslie! I was so excited! "FUCK YES!!! YOU RUNNNNNN!!!" I shouted, helpfully AND coherently which is always good. Then I grabbed my rarely used ipod turned on some skrillex (yep) told myself that I was a little badass, got pumped decided to win, AND CRIED because (per the marathon norm) I'm a wreck. Good grief.

Bolstered by friends, dance music, my own badasserry and by pulling my head out of my ass I ran on. Completely fine now, which is the weird thing about distance running.
Many ups and downs.
Many feelings, usually stupid ones.  

I ran thru the 30K in 2:31:28 an 8:08 pace. Evidently, my mental breakdown had zero effects on my running skills.

I tried to find the 3:35 pace group during this time since there were so many little out and back sections. I never saw them which made me feel nervous, I hoped VERY much that they had not passed me at some point like a sneaky bunch of sneaks. At this time in the race I decided that I would be genuinely irritated if somehow I had not noticed them passing me and then gotten with it and chased them down. With only a few miles to go I had developed a significant disinterest in missing my BQ opportunity.
(proving that a marathoner can go very quickly from giving zero fucks about finishing to deciding that it the most important thing they have EVER and will EVER accomplish. Yes, I am confused too and this is my life.) 

The final miles of the race were both alarmingly clear because I had kept myself well fed and hydrated and all kinds of horribly painful. This made me wish that I wasn't so alert, it's easier to deal with the physical side of things when you are a bit out of it
Shit. The last two miles hurt. Like the kind of hurt where afterwards you really wonder how on earth you can be so fragile one minute and so tough the next.
Who knows. You just put it out of your head. And you basically run.

Wonderfully, in the last couple miles there was a guy with a sign. It had a big Tardis on it and in bold letters said "BASICALLY, RUN." No, I could not believe this either but it happened.
I looked a him and said "this sign is EVERYTHING!!!:"
He looked back at me and said "Don't BLINK."
And what are the odds?? Seriously!!

THIS AGAIN!!!! But also, yes.
I felt like I could see the finish line for approximately 2,896,987 days before I got there and since my legs were actually broken and ready to fall off my body it seemed rude to have to run so far.
I saw Eric again just before the finish and I acknowledged him lovingly with a grunt or two and some kind of flapping arm motion that indicated how badly my legs were behaving. It was really romantic. 

And I finished in 3:33:55, an 8:09 pace. Consistent like a fucking boss. Holy crap.

However! I had no idea of my finishing time when I actually finished (no watch, and the race clock started when the Elites started, some two corrals ahead of me.) So no clue. And I was SO SORE SO SORE like, no walking skills at all kind of ruined. I staggered and gimped thru medals, heat sheets, and food service and then I saw Eric just outside of the staging.
"What was my finish time???" I asked- while at the same time proclaiming that I was broken for good.
"3:33:55" he said.

We both smiled.

And away I limped....
Boston 2017 here I come!!


Thursday, November 19, 2015


Right. Three Days until this marathon I'm doing.

Basically, I'm fine except for the normal "what on earth have I gotten myself into" nonsense. I might be a bit grouchy now and then but it isn't anything major. Seriously. REALLY!!!!!

Overall this has been a solid training cycle which I have executed in a pretty smart way.

It's just been short. Too short? Where the hell did the time GO??

Other than the expected feelings of terror I'd say I'm mentally stable.

I'm sure, per the norm on race day I'll wake up ready for a big adventure!

OK. Then I will run my race. Be badass. Be fast. Win. Or, survive. That's always the goal!

I have one plan!!! To basically run. Seems like a solid choice given my chosen activity.
Wish me luck!


Monday, November 16, 2015

Moose Pond Half Marathon

There are a lot of times where I am uninterested in spending money on a training run. Apparently, this training cycle is not one of those times! Pair a limited amount of training time with a limited amount of daylight and I'm pretty much crying for friends, aid stations (and daylight.)

THIS is the bright portion of my daily run. WOOF.
The Moose Pond Half (and 5k) is basically a stones throw from my home. It was also not terribly pricey so as soon as I discovered that several of our friends would be participating I was ALL IN.

With 2 weeks until Philly I was looking to get in about 18 before declaring it to be taper time. As luck would have it the famous Leslie was planning the exact same run.
I LOVE my running friends. I also love seeing them in real life, which is rare. 
You guys, I'm not going to lie. Leslie is a fast fast woman. I wasn't sure that our 5 mile pre race run would be something that I could handle.... I warned her about this and she was cool- so we pregamed with a brisk dash (for casual, leisurely, long run me) up the "flat" part of the course just prior to the race.
Basically, I ran along at a decent clip and she walked patiently alongside me waiting for my slow ass. Without her there with her 6 foot stride motivating me, I wouldn't have put forth a good effort so I very much appreciated the inspiration (shame) and delightfully amusing conversation!

Proof of the warm up 5. Proof that Leslie is slightly taller than I am. WHAT!!?
Eric was along for the fun and not just as a race supporter, he ran a total of 9.5 miles while waiting for me to finish (including placing 2nd in his AG for the 5k! YAY!)
The 3 of us met up after the warm up run- we didn't have much time but we snacked, changed, took selfies and managed to find the start (success!)

I knew that Jamie of MDI #badasscrowchick fame was pacing the 1:50 group and I made it my goal to finish as close to this time as possible.

Whoot 1:50!! And, randomly, the 2:00 pacer is the person I handed the baton to in run2respond. #smallworld
After the gun went off and I discovered that I certainly had positioned myself in a dumb place. (totally my fault, I was not paying attention... whoops.)  I was completely stuck in traffic and there wasn't much I could do as Jamie's 1:50 pace sign ran off into the distance. (with Jamie attached I imagine.)
Luckily, the crowds thinned out quickly since only about 3 people run in this town so I was good to go! (I'm KIDDING. It was a totally decent sized race, like 250 half marathoners!)

Anyway, at about mile one point something I saw the 1:50 group. The whole entire 250 participants had decided that Jamie was their key to success and so yeah, it was a little crowded.
I decided to ease by them and see what might happen. (well, I knew what would happen is that they would find me in short order.)

This race is a bitch. It goes straight uphill for 6 miles STRAIGHT up. NO down. NOT that easy. Luckily, I knew this and was not going full throttle but still- after a marathon training week(s) that is at your peak mileage, after 5 warmup miles you aren't going to feel all that zesty. Well, I'm not anyway.

Sometime around mile 6, blissfully, Jamie caught me. And it was just her. And This Guy. NOBODY else.
Seriously, I was like "THANK GAHHHHD" when I saw them because I was feeling a little draggy and sluggy and needed friends who would make me feel amused.

And yes. That happened. Jamie was a perfect pacer and That Guy was a freaking riot. Everything became fun. Everything became a That's what she said. I had possibly the best time ever running with them (and I am, once again, thankful for running friends. I would NOT have loved this run if it hadn't been for them!)

Luckily for me and my tired legs and ever increasing hunger the last few miles of the race flew by and before I knew it I was finishing on a horrible uphill-to-the-finish incline (ugh.) Eric was cheering me on waiting to steal my free beer ticket, and Leslie, who had already won her AG, and had time to shower and have lunch brought me water and gatorade and everything a person could need. It was lovely.

Yeah, summer racing attire. In NOVEMBER. Eff, yes!
We all grabbed some free BBQ and stuck around for bit to hang out and watch awards. It's nice when a race gives you a whole meal of food and not a few random bananas so I was a big fan of this part of the day.

I am pretty happy with the way the day turned out. I had a solid final long run at a totally decent pace, over some tough terrain. Seeing friends is a huge bonus and makes for an enjoyable day.
While the elevation profile was almost exactly the same as MDI I thought this was a more challenging course. There could have been many factors playing into this including crowd support, my training cycle timing, the severity of a couple of the inclines and who knows what else.
Overall though, I felt that it was an enjoyable and safe race and the convenience was undeniable.

At this point (as of now) I'm less than a week away from Philly.
If I continue to blog like a responsible person my next post will have some thoughts from this training cycle.
So until then.....


Thursday, November 12, 2015

MDI Marathon Relay, Badass Crow Chicks win it all! (almost)

To continue my story about how MDI worked out this year...

The original plan (due to my extremely tardy entry) was to use about 18 of the 26.2 miles as a good solid training run and then just faff along for the final 8. While I was not terribly thrilled about this prospect I knew I could manage to get it done and MDI is a spectacular place to have a nice 8 mile hobby jog. So there was that..

Much to my delight, just a couple of weeks prior to race day I spied a post on FB requesting a partner for the 2 person relay. Even better, it was somebody that I know like CRAZY on the internet which clearly means we are also BFF in real life. YAY! Internet friends for the WIN.
(in reality Jamie and I believe we might have met once in real life before MDI. But it is a hazy recollection and the details are unclear...!!)

Eric and I scooted up to the island during some crazy ass weather the day prior to the race.

Weather to the left, weather to the right. No lie.

We proceeded to do all the normal pre race things.
-Lunch with friends which involved copious amounts of mac and cheese? CHECK.
-Taunting the ocean and subsequently, and deservedly, getting drenched? CHECK...
-Dinner with friends, and then more friends that involved one or more bourbons? CHECK and CHECK!
Pre race beer? CHECK.
I got my butt up the next morning and was ready to roll. It was cold and since I am a compulsive weather checker I was prepared for the coldness.

Well, being cold with friends makes it better.
Jamie was kind enough to let me run the first half of the relay, I had decided to get 19 in and wasn't too excited about wearing my legs out beforehand (or, even WORSE if I had run the second half, having to run after the finish) No fun. Anyway. I was delighted with the arrangement.

Basically, MDI rocks every year without fail. IT ROCKS.

I had a great time. Even though I had completed a big week of training my legs were feeling pretty good and I had a blast. The people are nice, the views are legit and the waterstations are well above average. I kept up a steady pace and only froze half to death.

Only half frozen
I had an interesting first few miles as I seemed to be running with a group of people who were either hocking huge, loud loogies, burping uproariously or farting wetly and repeatedly. I understand and appreciate that these things happen but I wasn't into it. So I did my very best to gain some distance without burning myself out in the first 20 minutes of the race.

I was successful. By mile 5 the dulcet tones of juicy flatulence were nothing but a bad memory and I had found a good group of people to stick with.

These people were not spitting or burping

After quite a few miles of rolling hills (they don't quit) there is a little flat section around mile 12- I was able to pick it up a little in order to look impressive running to the 13.1 and the relay hand off point.
I made it in 1:45 and change and yelled at encouraged Jamie to run fast and bring it on home!

I ambled off to finish my miles and after a short time found myself running with Danielle which was just lovely. We seem to enjoy running together much more on days where it is not a 100 degree sauna out. She was having a kickass race and looked great, it was nice to see her motoring along like a boss and basically dominating.
But suddenly, my miles were over. Typical, I find a great running buddy and BOOM I'm done. I ran away from her and hopped in the car with Eric (best race support EVER) and she more or less beat us to the finish :-)

If you look closely you can see me on the left and D on the right.
Jamie, being freakishly speedy really DID almost beat us there! She managed to bust out a 1:38 half which is just stupid, stupid fast on that course. So badass.

We ran through the finish like a multi colored, winning (4th place) team and I FINALLY collected my damn claw medal!
Yessssssss. Badass Crow Chick for the WIN!!!
There were many things that made for a fantastic day, fun people, a great race and the obvious fact that the Relay option made for a much more desirable experience for me! I was very happy that the opportunity arose and want to give a huge shout out to Jamie for letting me join in her team- I loved every second (even my extra miles!) And let's be real, she totally carried the team to a solid finish. Crazy fast woman!!

Whooo! We are awesome! With awesome medals!!!
So once again, MDI makes the list of must do races. There really is nothing like it and every year I am happy to be there, with great people in a great place.
I plan to sign up like a responsible person (nice and early) for next year. Since I am just a bit obsessed with their medals I may need to choose another distance to run in order to collect a different color medal. You guys, these are the things that *serious* runners like myself contemplate. How to best enhance ones medal collection! (and the place to do just that is MDI, but back off on signing up for next year until I do!)


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Guess who's back?

And just like that, I'm back.
Just your typical 2 month blogging break!

Clearly, after such a long hiatus I have a lot to catch up on and absolutely no idea where to start.

Last time I was in a blogging mood I was about ready to begin my training for Philly and was being thwarted by a grouchy hamstring. I am pleased to report that my theory of time off equals healing proved to be true and I was back on my feet in no time. I was about 10 days late onto my short plan training program but being late is better than not showing up at all because you are an injured hot mess.

As is per the norm with my crazy self, once I began to train I was in, whole hog. While I might not want/need to run every day of my life, it seems that once I embark on a training cycle there is not much that stops me. I like the routine and I just suck it up and get it done with very little angst.
(I will post more later (maybe) about details of this round of training.)

In the meantime, let's recap shall we?

In early October Eric and I participated in the run2respond relay, a cross country relay to benefit first responders and to encourage them to have a healthy lifestyle.
We seem to jump into crazy adventures happily if it is for a good cause, especially if we have friends joining in. Once the baton had reached Maine we knew probably 90% of the people running so we concluded that it would be a fine adventure.
We began our leg/s quite late at night in Kennebunk and carried the baton straight up Rt 1 to Scarborough.

The handoff (s)!! And yes, MUCH darkness!
The moral of the story is that running at night on Route one is pretty scary and that I got a lot of confused looks from drivers who were clearly shocked to see me running at 1AM.
I do not suggest that anyone, ever, invite me to be on their 24 hour relay team because I am a terrible night runner.

To sum it up: I saw quite a few police vehicles in the first miles of my run and I prepared a lovely statement to give them should they pull me over for running in the pitch black night. "I am running to benefit YOU!!" I would say, joyfully. "Look a all my reflective/LED gear, I am clearly SAFE and running for a GOOD CAUSE!!!" forward 10 or so miles.....
*sees cop car*
Sigh. We finished and I fell asleep, post haste.

A couple weeks later I ran my way down (literally) to the Waterford 5K for a bit of speedwork over hills. I had just run 15 the prior day and had zero expectations other than to sweat and suffer.
I got exactly that.
Actually, it was a nice time and a nice day. I enjoy seeing all the people in my town and they do a lovely job with awards (medals for overall winners and AG placements- plus legit jugs of maple syrup!)
Typical 5k performance for me, I managed to lope in as the 4th woman and take 1st in my AG with a 22:51.
The big finish!
Through the early days in October I was a bit disturbed, knowing that running MDI was going to be a little challenging for where I was at in my training.
(by the time I signed up for MDI they only had slots available for the full- totally my lazy fault!)
I had formulated a plan to run to a certain point (18/19) and then basically schlep to the finish and collect my Lobster Claw medal in a blaze of glory.
This was a solid plan with the exception of those 8 or so miles that I wasn't really excited about getting my legs over.

Anyway, as things have the tendency to do it all worked out.
While most of you know the story by now I will sign off for today on this cliffhanging note, and a guarantee that I will be back soon to conclude this alluring tale!

Before I sign off for good, it merits mention that the weather has been absoultely spectacular for the past couple of weeks! Sunny, mild to downright warm and basically delightful.
I will leave you with a pic from my hilly run route, a picture that seems to be making a regular appearance as the seasons change.
Top pic, late August. Bottom pic, late October. Hashtag no filter!

You just can't beat this view!