Thursday, December 26, 2013

Counting down to 2014 and through my good choices of 2013!

Continuing on with my end of the year wrap up!
I really can't believe it is time to count down the last few days of 2013. Shit, where did it go?

So, I'm going to start with my list of good things that I learned and good choices I made in 2013.
There are 10 of these, and they are not in any particular order. Except number one. That's a winner.

I have been known to make some pretty foolish choices over the years in my athletics which have sidelined me a few times. I am pretty bright though and pride myself on not making the same mistake twice (because that is the definition of stupidity, and is the definition of wasting your coaches time.)
So what brought about this change? A few things. One- as I said, I learn from my mistakes. Two- I had damn good guidance which brings me to our next good choice......

Yes, I still looked like this on occasion. Good choices are relative!
(also proving that I do NOT, I releat- DO NOT always photograph well!)

9: Hiring Coach Kelsey. A great choice. She made me walk the damn line. No more junk miles (well, fewer. I love junk miles...), no more avoiding cross training, no more obsessing over weekly miles. Total life changer. I think about where I am now vs where I was a year ago and I'm dumbfounded. I'm JUST as fit as I was then (or more fit) with NO nagging, repetitive injuries. Furthermore (and this is a big one) except for a month of so in the height of a training cycle when I know I need to be hitting 50+ weekly miles I don't care how many I'm doing. I can now see the big picture better- and the big picture contains more than constantly doing 50 junk miles a week for months at a time.

8: Backing wayyyyyyyy off on the racing. I didn't have a lot of extra cash to blow this year what with Boston AND NYCM costing me a mint. And in all honesty.... I might do fewer races in 2014....

This little medal cost me hundreds of dollars. F'n worth it. Hmmmm strange priorities.

7: Realizing that I do NOT need to PR at every distance: It is just a nice recipe for constant injury. This is a lesson I actually learned in 2012 but implemented successfully this year with good results. I PR'd at the distance I cared about and trained for!

6: Doing an Ultra. I discovered that I can do it! I discovered that perhaps, 26.2 is more my jam....

See, After a 50K I look close to death. Blerch.

5: FINALLY figuring out how to eat during a marathon. THANK YOU running Gods (picky bars) and a year of trial and error. This one is HUGE.

4: Only having 1 goal for my "A" race. It kept me from doing any negotiation with myself. It was BQ/PR or bust for Smuttynose and it worked like a charm! I think I can pull this off maybe twice a year as it was a pretty significant physical/mental effort!

Angie is holding me upright. That's what happens when your legs fall off at mile 25!

3: Realizing that I can't do an "A" race every month. Duh. What a shock. This is another lesson that I learned in 2012 to be honest. I definitely applied this amazing concept until October when I did all the races and quit running. was bound to happen....

2: Applying to be on the Oiselle Team, and being accepted! After meeting so many Oiselle athletes in NYC this Fall I really feel that I'm running with the right people. They are a serious but FUN group of ladies, and they love, love, LOVE running and racing. I loved talking to some of the elite woman- they are SO fast but were so down to earth and friendly- a real pleasure to converse with. I have enjoyed my time with Oiselle thus far and feel that it is a group of people, and a company that I believe in and can picture myself with for a while.

1: Deciding to marry my super wonderful exclusive dating partner. The best choice ever! My feeling is that if you have the opportunity to marry your best friend you should. I'm petty excited to tie the knot in 2014 and to spend the rest of my days having hot athletic dates with him and looking at his sexy physique. We really do have ALL the fun!



Monday, December 23, 2013

The end of 2013, the begining of the recap posts!

I love year end recaps! I enjoy writing my own to relive the year's fun moments (from back in the days when the world was not coated in ice- bleeerch!) I also like to read everyone else's recaps, I like to see what other crazy people have been getting in trouble doing.
It's also amusing to remember the worst, stupidest races of the year too so rest assured I'm going to do that too. 

I think I might do a few of these in a similar manner to last year. I'm so cool, I have multiple year end posts whooooo!!!

Okie Dokie. On to the good stuff.

Best Race.
Oh man... How I want to say Boston! That was supposed to be the race that sticks out in my memory like a shining beacon of amazing athletic accomplishment! I wanted it to be my perfect race so badly, and as fantastic as it turned out (my personal race, not anything else clearly) it isn't at the top of the list. Boston wins for other things though so stay tuned.

OK so REAL best race. It's an effing tie. Between a race that counted for a lot and one that totally did not.
Smuttynose (October-Marathon, 3:25:45)
And... The run leg of the Rev3 OOB team I was on (I know, random...?) (August-13.1, 1:37:10)

It was perfect and amazing (and VERY much worked for) for things to be perfect at Smuttynose. I had never had a marathon like that before and I know they don't play out that way every time. I went in determined to BQ with a time that would enable me to sign up earlier than this year- NO more squeaking in for me! Despite the crapola weather my race went exactly to plan. Every mile flew by, I did everything right, I left it all out there and was not 100% happy in the leg department for a few weeks.... And it was amazing. Whenever I need to remember why I do marathons I just remember that and I'm like "oh right..."

Smuttynose.... The last 400 hurts like a bitch. Woof.
As for Rev3 that was a complete surprise, and I don't get many of those since I pretty much know how my legs are going to react. It just happened that I was at the exact point in my marathon training, on a course that played to my strengths, on a day where the humidity finally broke (somewhat) and I was able to crank it up and run fast and badass. I had encountered a couple 13.1's this year that left my confidence shaken slightly- mostly just wondering if I had lost quite a bit of speed with ultra training. This took care of that nonsense and reminded me how much I like the Half Distance.

Rev3 OOB.... If I can show boat like this I'm clearly not pushing hard enough!
Best race because you only get one first time, and DUH I got engaged...
Well Boston Obviously. (and I did run a PR that day which I then killed at Smuttynose)
Other fun facts from this race: I did not have a great first half but then felt better and better, I certainly was tired at the end but maintained pretty well after I made it over the pesky hills. This was a huge confidence boost since my previous marathons had been a struggle for the final 10K.
I'm really excited to be qualified again this year. I have a feeling that I am going to enjoy myself even more since I know what to anticipate. I also expect the aftermath to be requiring fewer swat teams.... I'm not sure how Eric is going to top 2013 but he has 4 months to think about it (kidding Eric, kidding...)

Yay! A happy post race moment!!!

Worst stupidest biggest waste of time races.
UGH Effing Old Port Half. On the merits of sheer stupidity. I will never ever do this race again because it was terrible on so many levels and I don't make repeat mistakes. Like signing up for races that are awful more than once.

Stupid Old Port Half.
Also.... I just hate the Derry 16 miler. It's a well run race! They do a nice job running a decent sized race, in the dead of winter, in a pretty tiny town. What I hate about this race is nobody's fault- it's a race that leaves me questioning everything and 98% dead. So yeah, no thanks.
(and for 1st time Boston runners who do this race for the "prep" quality of it- the hills here do NOT accurately represent what you will see in Boston. Boston has hills. Derry has mountains. So actually, if you want Boston to feel easy do this ASAP!!!!)

Race that I ran on a whim to get an aided training run, which had a bad reputation and I ended up really enjoying.
Bands On The Run in Lewiston.
Who knows why I enjoyed this. Maybe because all I had heard was that it was a shit show in 2012 so my expectations were low. Reaaaaaaaaly low.
Now honestly, the majority of the course is nothing to get excited about. But it is fairly challenging without being brutal, has a section of trail that is entertaining if you aren't going at a blazing speed, and they did a good job this year with plenty of water stops and bathrooms. So, all in all not a bad race. I would consider going back in 2014 and I'd suggest it to friends as well.

Races that will be perennial favorites of mine, forever.
Mount Desert Island, Full or Half
Now that I have run both I can honestly say that the full is one of my favorite courses to run on, hands down. It is not an easy course or one that would be ideal for a guaranteed PR or BQ (although it is doable!) I really missed doing the whole course this year- although it would have god damned killed me.
As far as the half goes same deal. Challenging course for sure, but I expect that it will draw some very fast people in the upcoming years ending my reign as a podium finisher. There are a few wrinkles to work out after this year but nothing major or worrying. It was definitely "MDI lite" in 2013- a little messy at the start (and much less exciting! the start of the Marathon is legendary) and it would be nice to have a little pomp and circumstance for future podium finishers (*ahem* *use the podium* *ahem*) But those minor silly things aside, I'd definitely force my friends to get up to MDI and run this. Yearly.

MDI is even pretty in the rain! (good thing...)
My favorite picture.
Because why not? It's my blog and if I want to post all the pictures of myself I can!
This is the winner, from GCI back in July when it was warm and not snowy out.

It looks like I am winning.
I'm not.
I am, however, leading the peloton...
(before I bombed at mile 19 and they all caught me! Hah!)

So that is it for today's recap post. Much more to come since I like to string these things out for as long as possible!


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

How to work out when you are deathly ill. (Don't. Just don't.)

Last week was quite a good week in the workout department despite the fact that long days and arctic temps kept me inside. I ran some good miles, had quality bike time and even managed an outdoor 7 miler on Saturday in some pretty adventurous conditions while on vacation. (note to self: next years vacation must not involve a location that can have snow. we had a wonderful time but seriously, sun and sand people.....)
Really really pretty. REALLY REALLY COLD!!!

Sunday morning came and I awoke not really feeling myself. Blaming several late nights while making the pilgrimage from Maine, to Boston to NYC and then NJ (and all the shenanigans we got up to at those various locations) I basically tried to write it off and get moving.

Around noon I realized that there was no denying it. I was getting sick and getting sick fast.
Mother effer came in like a wrecking ball....

On Monday, with a fever, terrible cough, horrible aches and chills I made a trip to urgent care to have a scrub brush shoved up my nose to see if I was ridden with Influenza and needed to hole up in my house, all quarantined.
The good news? No flu.
The bad news? It was (is) one nasty virus and it was having fun making me feel terrible.

Paging McDreamy... Where are you??

Needless to say, when I am prone on the couch and am voluntarily staying there I don't work out. Especially with a fever and a cough. Working out in that ill condition would just be idiotic. I really felt horrible. I actually continue to feel quite nasty although I am somewhat better. I have had to take "breathing breaks" on a regular basis which is retard-o to the maximum. I mean really, who needs breathing breaks?! (me, for realz.)

I see a lot of chatter on the interwebs this time of year about when you shouldn't work out when you are sick. My bottom line is you just know, if you feel too damn shitty to do it then don't. Nobody gets any prizes for being a fool and pushing thru a 101 fever just to get in 4 miles, or whatever...
Especially when it is cold as shit out. WTF?

Well isn't that nice....

Have I run when I wasn't at 100%? Heck yes.
I ran a relay last November post bronchitis. (read: POST bronchitis.) While I was still coughing a lot this did nothing to set me back. I was back to being a picture of good health within days after this.
I ran Boston while about 50% sick. It was my A race and I wasn't running a fever, or even coughing. Just snotting. I will say that I got quite sick after the race with more of a respiratory bug but that had more to do with the fact that I was directly exposed to said virus than the run. Which didn't help because huge efforts like that tend to make your immunity all wacky.
If I had a race to run over the past few days I would not, and could not have done it. Which is how I knew to be smart and take a few damn days off! It won't make any difference in the big fitness picture.
So kids, the moral of the story is to be smart not dumb. If you have a tiny sniffle or a hangnail get off your ass and run. If you have the bubonic plague you have my permission to sit tight until it has passed. And Dr. Sara signs off.....


Monday, December 9, 2013

I return! And my thoughts on getting back into the swing of things.

Well hello internet, I am back.

I just took a couple weeks off from most things online. I completely avoided blogs! (I am a jerk but I really just couldn't take another sponsored "holiday gifts!!!" post) So instead of sticking around and getting grouchy about things that have nothing to do with me, I took a break from the whole thing. With only about 2 weeks to go until Christmas, and with the holiday frenzy in full swing this might seem like an odd time to reemerge.... However,  my break should enable me to be able to stomach 2,000 more reviews of various protein powders, and Mizuno Wave 17's (which everyone seems to have given a pretty cookie cutter review to. y'all wait, when I get a pair I'll let you know if they are REALLY that good!)
I also declined to look at Dailymile. (or even logging miles into it!) I just DID.NOT.CARE. Sometimes I find it quite inspiring to see what others are up to but for the past few weeks I have decided that it's more important to focus on what I need to do, with no regard to the training schedules of other people who have completely different goals than I! (novel, I know)
I enjoyed my break because I kinda hated the internet and that's not nice.
HAH!!!! That was ME!!!! But I'm better now...

Not wanting to cast the interwebs completely to the curb, I productively spent internet time on Instagram, winning all the Holiday prizes. Duh. With Grinchy gems like this how can you lose?

I was unimpressed by this lame Christmas parade.

I found my mojo early last week which was nice. Thanks to everyone for your helpful comments relating to my malaise. I sometimes need to remind myself that it ok to take a rest and that I should not get so damn emotional about it. The amount that I work out in no way, shape or form establishes my worth as a human being. And I really enjoy my routine so when I do not, it is ok to step back and take a breather. I did, and now I feel quite refreshed!

Mulling over things that contributed to my mini burnout.
I am not the kind of athlete who can race every weekend. **gasp call the blogger cops!!**
During the past year I did fewer races than in 2012 but I put 100% of myself into each one that was important to me. In the end, on top of being physically exhausted I was quite emotionally drained. I am very good at getting into a competitive mental mindset- but it takes a lot out of me! (especially in October- when I had 2 races that were very important to me and took a HUGE amount of mental fortitude, and a horse show where I threw down maximum effort in a challenging situation. tough stuff.)
I actually enjoy challenges like that where I can prove my mental (and physical) toughness to myself but need to cut myself a little slack about wanting to sit on the couch and watch terrible TV for 6 weeks straight after it is all over!
Physically I was pretty much done after NYCM and only in the past week have I felt remotely good and normal. I have no idea how people can do 6 marathons in 6 weeks... Good for them- but it certainly is not for me! I would have a broken leg constantly... Perhaps those runners simply use the races more as social outings and training runs? Or perhaps they have a bigger ability to stay at the top of their game for longer than I do? Either way, I know it is not for me!

Right now I am having a really good time with my training and working hard, without killing myself with a ton of mileage. I'm getting in some great cross training and focusing on getting much stronger to avoid any more weeks of butt discomfort. (which was a drag) I know that my improved training in 2013 thanks to Kelsey played a huge part in keeping me uninjured but I was close enough during the months of September and October. A good reminder to continue to get stronger!

I do not have a marathon planned until Boston and I feel quite fantastic about that. I clearly am trying to get arrested by the blogger cops today because I don't think that any marathoning blog author ever admits to that- or rarely, very rarely. I am quite excited for Boston and plan to train well this winter and to have a PR there, all things being equal. But am I bummed not to have to gear up for a February 26.2? NO!

I have a 10K on January 1st to ring in the New Year. I haven't "really" run a 10K in a very long time. My best guess is that I will not PR since my current (2012) PR is a 43:43 and I just can't see myself running 6, 7:02 miles- yuck!! My course PR for this particular race is 47:42 and I absolutely believe I can do better than that. Mo goal is 45:00 barring 30 MPH headwinds which are the bane of my existence. I'm excited by the prospect of only racing for 45 minutes but also a bit horrified thinking of basically redlining the whole damn thing! Hahaha oh well, it is bound to be an adventure!

So that's about it from the snowy and cold arctic tundra of Maine. Now that I am gracing the internet with my presence again I'll have a belated November recap up soon.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Screw off, January... And a blog first for me!

Ugh. Winter is here.

It has been sneaking in for the past week or so but has been mostly easy to ignore. Last weekend we had two days in the 50's which really took the sting out of the chilly conditions and early setting sun.

But this week has been a whole new (less than stellar) can of worms.

Kids, the shit has hit the fan. We have had cold temps (and I mean, January cold), high (like 40MPH) winds, enough snow to cover the ground (so not much by Maine standards) and the constant problem of the sun setting at approximately 2:45 in the afternoon.

Gross. I hate you stupid one inch of snow!

I am pleased to say that I have been very busy at work. Which is outside. In the cold.
I start early and finish after the sun goes down. It has been pretty god damned difficult finding motivation to workout. And that makes me grouchy! Whaaaaa!

I'm not gonna lie. I have hit a small slump. This happens around this time every year and it shall pass. I have a profound dislike of being cold and uncomfortable and I find that I really suck at acclimating to the sudden drop in temps. It's pretty hard to find time to run during the day right now and I'm not quite ready to make friends with my treadmill just yet. However, last week I was pumped to finish working at a decent time and hit the road for an hour run at what felt like an absurdly early hour... Only to have it get pitch black dark on me!!! Luckily I was almost home but that is NOT safety first. I need one of those Ragnar required glow in the dark vests, as being struck head on by a truck is not an ideal way to leave this world.  It was scary stuff. Basically, I thought a zombie was gonna sneak out of the night and eat my face off.

This was like.... 4:30 PM. Wow! NIGHT!!

Luckily, I really have not missed any workouts (well, today will be a different story as I was not finished working in time to make it to Yoga....)  The real reason that I have not missed any workouts is that I have only *really* been back at it for about 10 days. I had a good rest! I think I might keep on resting and hibernate for the winter!

In the big picture this is no big deal and I will figure out a way to make it work, I will soon be pumped to be working hard again (and not just working hard eating Hershey bars and drinking beer) and will have found my mojo and killer attitude.

Well it isn't beer but it was delicious.
Last year at this time business was pretty shitty (which was shitty, obvs!) However it did mean that I was done working most days around 2 or 3 and could then devote the rest of my day to amazing athletics. It was great (except that I had no coin!) I enjoyed ALL the nice, outdoor, daylight working out hours!!! WHOOT!
With my schedule being jam packed right now (which is awesome, obvs) I'm rarely finished working before 5:30. Dark-dark-dark-dark- DARRRRRKKKKK FML!!!! (dudes, I'd rather stress about how to find motivation to trudge thru an evening workout then stress about how to pay this weeks bills. these are first world problems at their finest, yo!) Basically, I'm spoiled and whiney. End of story.

Which brings us to a very special moment. Being that I am the worlds worst blogger I rarely ask questions of my readers. So this is the first! Fuck yeah!

So internet friends.... When you are usually the captain of motivation, the one people turn to for a plan of how to stay on track with workouts, and suddenly you get hit with the BLAH's what is your remedy?
Fix me please!

A PS to this: Not 2 seconds after I posted today I read This and was glad to see it isn't just me! We all want/need a lazy season!


Thursday, November 14, 2013

My favorite things!! And a repcap of what I have been up to lately.

I planned to take one solid week off post NYCM. I started promising this to myself/other people/the running Gods sometime in August and I'm actually doing it. Not only am I doing it but I am extending it to 10 days. Maybe 11. Maybe a damn bakers dozen!
Catching my typical post marathon season cold has contributed to my sedentary lifestyle but I certainly know that I was due (overdue) for a break!
My current plan is to go on a get fat and lazy quick training program and to have a certain amount of cake and wine that I need to consume daily then log in my training peaks. As well as my hours spent sitting (which are few, sadly...)
Ahhhhh, all the spare time gives me phenomenal ideas.

What have I done with all my spare time??
-Well, I have worked a lot which is hardly restful.
-I have kept up with the laundry folding for the first time since May.
-I have had time to catch up on blogs and internet crapola.
-I have been watching The Walking Dead (fun stuff) (late to the party) (and why are ALL the characters so dumb...? why do they even survive one season??)
-I have been sleeping. The post marathon exhaustion and being sick have put me to sleep very early.
-I have been eating mass quantities of veggies- while this hardly seems exciting I rarely dare to eat lots of fiber while running high mileage. So it has been rather delightful.

Veggies.... Mmmmmmmmm!
I have also been reminiscing since I am have almost made it to the 4 year anniversary of my first step of running! Shit, I'm old.

One thing I can attest to is that in the past 4 years I have become (for better or worse) one of those runners who puts legit thought into gear. My clothing has stood the test of time- for the most part my favorites have been favorites for the long haul. I tend to avoid fads, and the "next big thing" and stick with what works and things I feel comfortable recommending to my friends and family.  As far as the "extra" stuff- it has only been the last 6 months or so that I have become more satisfied with my nutrition. Read on for more details on that...

Long gone are the days when I could eat a handful of pretzels, throw on my 5 year old hybrid hiking shoes and purple yoga pants and happily run along.... *sigh, nostalgia*

A side note, I might be the only one who feels this way but I rarely put much stock into other bloggers "gear reviews" mainly because most of it seems to be given to that blogger to review or some kind of sponsored post. (ok, maybe it's just a few of the "big" bloggers who do this weekly/almost daily but I don't hustle to take their advice... mostly because they seem to rave about one brand then "overnight" change loyalties. it confuses me.)
All of the gear I recommend was purchased with my own hard earned cash. Henceforth, all opinions are my own (and therefore are the best opinions you will find on the internets ;-))

Everyone knows my duds consist mainly of Oiselle. This was the case even before I made it onto their team! I have some of their shorts and capris from wayyyyy back when and they have held up for hundreds of miles, tons of washings and general abuse. My favorite fall top is the Flyte long sleeve, it's an awesome running shirt for chilly days and cute enough to wear on a date. Which I do.

My favorite top. And the newest strappy bra, which is absolute perfection!!!!
I wore smartwool socks until this past April when I started having a helluva time with blistering and foot chaffing- ugh so nasty! I still like them for short runs but they are a big, huge NO for anything over 10. My long run socks are now the Balega Hidden's and they are the Bee's knees. 2 marathons and multiple long's and no problems. They are quite incredible.

I run in calf sleeves unless it is 110 degrees out and I'm not thrilled with any of the options (looking for suggestions but am not hopeful!) Zensah's are short enough but too loose. Pro Compressions used to be perfect but now they are running very large (as are their socks- I'm a once happy customer turned unhappy) 2XU's are the perfect amount of squeeze but are a bit too long and really bug the back of my knee after a while (like, 16 or more) CEP is ALMOST perfect but the ankle area is itchy- and I'm like a little kid who has sensory overload, forget it! (in all fairness, I wonder if I just have a flukey pair?) UGH. I have more trouble with my dumb calf sleeves than anything else!!

Y'all know I'm a Mizuno fan to the core. the Wave 16's have been my go to shoe all season and I have nothing but excellent things to say about them. They are super light, just enough cushion, they don't slip, slide or make my fussy heels hurt and they are so pretty...! I am really enjoying the Sayonara's as well- such a fun shoe for speed work or shorter races. (if you call a Half short) I REALLY REALLY want to try the Prophecy, they sound absolutely amazing... But at just over $200 they are going to have to stay on the wishlist for now. Bottom line though- I've suggested Mizunos to all my up and coming runner friends and they took my advice, for the happiest feet on the planet! I seriously doubt that I will ever run in any other shoe, they have performed admirably for me over the years.
And no, I do not work for Mizuno. Bummer.

A few pairs that I have lying around. Some have been delegated to barn activities!
Missing at least a half dozen pairs, I gave them to the barn "kids" this summer.
Nothing says love like giving a teenager a pair of kicks with 500 miles on 'em!
I use a Garmin. I have a Road ID, as everyone should. Except for that, not too many bells and whistles. I recover in whatever compression I have on hand (as previously discussed, I have a lot), I foam roll with a cheap-o Wal-Mart roller, and that's recovery in a nutshell.

My very fussy belly has caused me much grief over the years. This time last year it occurred to me that I might never be able to find something suitable to eat during a long run, and was going to have to suffer either with extreme GI upset or the horrible bonking that comes at mile 16 of a marathon when you have not been able to get any calories in. I won't go thru the whole boring list, but I had tried freaking everything. (literally. everything.)
I. Was. Desperate.
I was having moderate luck with packets of baby food (the barfing stopped) but my belly still got really crampy, and sloshy with the lack of substance. Not to mention I would have to work at sucking down a huge pouch of that stuff for a meager 50-60 calories. So depressing.
And then, the magic day arrived. I bought a Picky Bar on a whim to eat during a long run. I cut it up into chunks, tossed it in a baggie and snacked on it along the way.
Fucking miracle. Complete perfection. Problem solved.
Andddddddd... I thought it was a fluke! So the next week off I went ton a random 18 miler and same story. I basically fell over and cried happy tears.
So people, do you have a crabby stomach? Or do you just like a delicious (and nutritious! and calorie dense! and chocolatey!) snack, get these. NOW. Sometimes I eat them just for fun because they are so very tasty.
And no, I do not work for Picky Bars either which is too bad really....

I purchase in BULK.
So that, in a nutshell is my gear wrap up from 2013. With the notable addition of picky bars I'd say it is very similar to what I was using/wearing in 2012 (I'm a creature of habit, evidently!)
(now, if I was a real blogger this would have been a "my fav things" giveaway. no such luck! I'm keeping alllll my things for myself!)


Monday, November 11, 2013

October Recap, so late it isn't even ok!!

It was crazytown up in herrrr all thru the month of October. Sometime during the middle of August Eric and I looked at the list of dates we were planning to be busy and basically said "shit."
The good news is that we got through it and it was fun!
Oh, on a side note- my recovery post NYCM was a breeze. Since I never "pushed" the pace I was quite mobile the day after and feeling very good by late on Tuesday. Apparently I have turned into one of those asshats who can run a 3:35 like it is NBD. That is just rude.... I kinda hate myself right now!

So, what did I do in October?

Miles Run: 104 which included a zero week #score

Races run: 2

BQ's: ONE! (also, one marathon PR. cha-ching!!!)
Number of races where it poured on me: ONE. See below.

Smuttfest slogfest

Number of times that I randomly placed 2nd in a half marathon: 1.... which may never happen again?
But hell, I'll certainly take it! I could get used to that top dog thang. Clearly I'm famous now.

Oh the FAME! The FORTUNE! ...what...?

Number of times I puked on my shoes: ZERO. Damn I'm making this a habit!

Number of horse shows attended 4 days post PR marathon. One, ouch.

Recycling pictures. A true sign of lazy blogging...
Number of trips to massage therapist and chiropractor: 4 (it clearly could be worse!)

Core/Crosstraining: Fuck that. Oh I'm lying, I actually made it to yoga on a semi regular basis. I promise that after my post insanity break that I will recommit to strength and all that crap. Blah blah.

Now that we are well into November I've had a bit of time to think about how nuts-o it was in October. I actually kinda enjoyed it and wouldn't hesitate to do it again. I don't think that marathons that close together make for an excellent second attempt but I was no worse for the wear which is nice.
I've had a few days off since and I am enjoying a little break! I am also looking forward to getting back into the swing of things for the winter season though. However, history has taught me that for every serious training cycle you need to chill out for a while if you want to stay healthy. so that is what I'm up to (for the moment....)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Hey! I don't know about you, but I'm feeling 26.2! (part 2!)

It feels like a perfect night to dress up like hipsters!!!!
Or runners slash hobos... Oh yeah!

4AM. It was go time.
I had slept quite well and felt very relaxed as I moved thru my normal pre race routine. Get dressed, make and pace food, drink a few inches of coffee and some water, put on ALL THE CLOTHES to keep out the very chilly weather.

Eric and his Aunt Mare were kind enough to get up at half past ass o'clock with me and drive me to Giant Stadium where there was bus transport to the stop. This was a piece of cake, I jumped out of the car, got right on a bus and we were off!
We hit some truly remarkable traffic in the last few miles of the trip. Since I do not know the lay of the land very well it is hard for me to say what caused this, other than the obvious- 50,000 runners all trying to get to the start! I absolutely was not complaining about the delay as it meant more toasty warm bus time. It was chilly (about 43) and there was a steady wind blowing, with some stronger gusts from time to time. So, not terrible by any stretch but not the worlds greatest day for an outdoor picnic with 50 thousand of your closest pals!

Eventually (around 7:20) we arrived, disembarked and went through some serious security. Compared to the fairly relaxed feel at Boston this was a big change (thank you!) They gave you a clear bag for your things, you went thru airport like security screening, cops, the military, bomb sniffing dogs, helicopters everywhere (and a friend in the know mentioned that what we did not see what really the stuff keeping us safe. wow.) I have no problem with extra security and felt very safe!

I was in the orange village and it was quiet and peaceful for exactly 0.2 seconds and then everyone and their brother arrived. Even though I had a couple hours until race time it went quickly. The organization was top notch, getting into the corrals was easy, it didn't really feel like much time at all until we were heading to the bridge to get the party started! During this time, my feet had frozen solid but otherwise I was ok. I highly recommend overdressing, bringing a small blanket and plenty of handwarmers.

The start was really exciting and even though it was really windy on the bridge the sun was coming out and turning the day into a beautiful one. My plan was to maintain a reasonable and maintainable pace for the first half and then either step it up or back it down depending on how I felt. Solid plan, right there. Immediately off the Verrazano there was a taste of things to come- about 50 drummers playing away on the side of the road. Incredible! And loud.

Security was tight.
The first 5K- Just trying to warm up the feet. I believe I ran the 1st 5K in 25:01. Pretty maintainable speed.

The first 10K of the race was just crazy! I never expected Brooklyn to be so jam packed full of excited spectators (1st timer here...) At that point the weather was just great though so people were out in droves, there was music around every corner, the energy was amazing and it was enough to keep my mind off my funky feeling cold feet. I can see how it is easy to get too pumped and go way too fast thru here! Two things on my side though were my cold toes and the wind- while it certainly was not overwhelming there was a constant headwind which made running a conservative pace feel much more difficult than it was. I finally warmed up around mile 5 and peeled off all my extra clothing, and braced myself to get super sweaty.

It never happened.

Thru 10K in about 48 minutes. I had warmed up. I already felt minor aches from my upper hamstring but I had expected that.

Around mile 10 I was still feeling pretty good. Definitely not in the effortless, miles flying by way that I felt at Smuttynose but things were decent.  At this point it also began to get cloudy, the breeze took on a more frigid feel and a few drops of rain fell here and there. And I basically froze my face off. Hands, arms, thighs- damn cold. But better that then 95 degrees and dying so I put it out of my head and concentrated on getting to 16 where Eric and his family were waiting. I ate some picky bars, drank a little water, and thought warm thoughts. I knew that before mile 16 my goal was to get to the halfway point and evaluate how I was feeling.

I made it to the half in 1:43-ish. Faster than it felt. Legs definitely not having an easy day.

The Queensboro Bridge is my own personal Heartbreak Hill. I had no idea how tough it was going to be, I had no idea how eerily quiet it was, I had not a clue that it is made of the hardest surface known to man. It made me want to cry. I started having knee pain, foot pain, ankle pain. My hamstrings cramped up multiple times. I could not believe how stupid that stupid bridge was.
As I came closer to the end I started to hear something and at first was sure it was traffic. The noise grew steadily louder, and louder, and as we reached the end of that accursed bridge and ran around the corner I realized it was the crowds on 1st. The noise literally HIT me and took me by immense surprise. Over the din I heard Eric and Family shouting to me and caught a glimpse of them thru the utter mayhem. I was so glad to have the distraction of the enormous crowd because with the amount of pain I was in, at a smaller race I might have walked. No way did I want to have to admit to THAT though!

I had made it to the 16 mile point in 2:08. I wished to die.

I like getting to the point where there are only 10 miles to go. I must admit though, that these were not an easy 10 for me. I decided (per my game plan) to ease up a bit and see if things felt better. Not one part of my legs felt good at this point and nothing I did gave me any relief. So, as any legit runner would I said "suck it up, buttercup" and kept on running. Shockingly, my pace did not falter too much in the second half although I clearly slowed down somewhat it was not a huge embarrassing disaster.

After 16 my thought was on getting to 20 since my mindset is always "anyone can do a 10K!" It felt like 16-20 took a really, really long time.
But I made it to 20 in 2:41 My pace was slipping but I felt like even if the last 10K took an hour I'd still finish a minute over my goal time. So, still no disaster!

You know what WAS a disaster!!!??? Those damn last 4 miles. They went on, and on and on!!! This course is harder than anyone gives it credit for (thank heavens for the crowds- without them it would be kinda no fun!) My legs were SCREAMING!!! I just wanted to be finished and never run another step ever, ever again. I saw Eric and Fam at mile 24.5 when I was shuffling along in the most zombie like way imaginable. They said I looked great. They LIE!

Look at my FACE. I'm like "fuck this!"

But then I see Eric and Family and I'm like "WHEEEEE I LOVE RUNNING!"

There was no way that I could kick it up for the finish (or even muster a smile for the camera.) I finished, stopped, put my hands on my knees and groaned for about 10 minutes. Or more like 5 seconds because the medics yell at you to keep moving! Knowing that all my race pics were going to look like I was near death I snagged a finisher picture (smart move) then I did a 2 mile death march to meet Eric. This was not fun, not fun at all. I actually cried a little because I hurt like I had been hit by a train.
But I finished, in 3:35:57. Not my fastest, not my slowest. Exactly what I had planned on.

I do look pretty darn good. *humblebrag*

Once Eric found me I was shivering violently even though a super nice stranger had given me a hat and gloves. (dear stranger, I know I thanked you at the time but that was the best thing anyone could have done for me!!) Eric zipped a sweatshirt around me rendering my arms trapped, and meaning that he had to pour water down my throat when I was thirsty. Hah! With not an empty taxi to be found we proceeded to walk 20 blocks (yeah....) to a hotel room that our friends had so I could take the hottest shower ever. OMG. Amazing. Life saving!!

NYCM Finisher!!! In a warm hotel!
It took me a couple hours before I felt human again but once I began to recover I felt great.
It wasn't an easy race and October wasn't a restful month! It was completely worth it though, this might have been a once in a lifetime experience and certainly is one I feel fortunate to have had.

Eric and I headed out for burgers and to have a look at times square on post running legs. There were many people walking around with medals, and lots of finishers coming back (freezing cold!) adorned in the orange ponchos. It was so much fun!

Very shortly after we sat down for more food and a beer we heard from our friends who had finished too! They walked (gimped) to find us and we celebrated our success and running prowess! There is nothing more amusing than sharing race war stories and we did just that. a really perfect way to finish up the day!

Hahaha! Finished! ....thank heavens....
And now, just one more thing to wrap it all up.

Here it is!!! The sign that inspired my greatness! Thank you random stranger!


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Hey! I don't know about you, but I'm feeling 26.2! (part one)

Thanks to a brilliant sign that I saw somewhere along the course, this entire 2 part race recap might be dedicated to Taylor Swift. Apparently I am a 15 year old girl with troubles in love....? After I saw the sign that, if nothing else, inspired the title of my blog today, I continued to sing that song for miles and miles and miles. Not really a bad thing, to be quite honest.

Anyway, I digress. Nothing new there.

My Fall race schedule reached an peak of insanity this past weekend when I headed to NYC to run the marathon. YAY!!!!
Despite knowing that achieving a fast race was doubtful I felt good in the days leading up to the trip, I was not nervous at all and was looking forward to the adventure with much gusto.

My loaded up race bags and my lucky charm cheetah.

We arrived in NJ where we stayed with Eric's family, to some of the nicest, warmest weather that we have had in weeks! What a lovely surprise. It's always great to stay with family because we are so well taken care of (thanks guys!!)
The excellent weather continued into the next day. There is nothing I like more than walking around on a nice day (this might have been a bad thing...)

We headed off into the city pretty early as we had quite a few things to do. I headed out the door first thing for a few shake out miles then got down to business.
My request was to take the ferry since I had not done that before, and I'm a geek who likes to see new places from all angles. I immediately decided that the seas were too high for my liking but I was brave and managed not to get seasick (reason #1 why I am not a pirate...)

High seas. Amazing skyline.

While walking to our Oiselle brunch date we went on a small detour thru Central Park to take a look at the finish line and take in the final 0.2 of the course (hilly.) I was pretty excited to get a look at the finish since at the end of a race I usually am too depleted to notice, or care!

Ohhhhh yay! The finish line!!!
The next stop was brunch with a large number of Oiselle ladies. So many, in fact, that is was impossible to say hi to everyone but I tremendously enjoyed the company of the woman I chatted with. We enjoyed some serious food and talked serious race strategy (like winning, duh...)
Incase anyone had forgotten how I fail at subtlety and coolness here is a good story to remind you... We walked in and who do I see but Kate Grace, who is one of my favorite runners and is pretty much my superhero. "Oh MY GOD!!!!! I squealed like the silly fangirl that I am "You are SO FAMOUS and I LOVE you!!!!!!" Yes, way to keep it cool Sara, way to keep it cool...... *sigh* She was incredibly nice though and posed for pics which made my day! I'll try to develop a more mature and chic attitude for famous athlete meetings in the future (this is a lie.)

Ahhhhh! My hero!!!!
Post brunch we caught a cab to the Expo, and were able to get in and get my bib much more easily than we had hoped for (lots of dire warnings about big crowds had us a little concerned!)

All signed in and ready to win a marathon! Oh, wait...
I am a huge expo fan so when I end up at a giant race with a big expo I really enjoy walking around and taking a look at everything (another great way to rest those legs!! ...not...) I tend to find some sweet deals and today was no exception, I scored the final pair of Wave 16's in the house (Mizuno for the win!), snagged new compression sleeves, found a shirt in my size on sale, and snagged the last xs pullover in the entirety of expo land. Go me!

Yeah I'm that girl who takes pics with her lucky charm. Admit it, you're jealous of my coolness!
After that, it was clearly time for food (which required a bit of walking) and then in an absurd stroke of luck we were able to locate one of my BEST friends up in Times Square! (a bit more walking...) The walk was completely worth it as she and I have not been within 100 miles of each other in months, then find ourselves in the city on the same day. What are the odds? It was awesome to catch up with her, get swept along in a sea of 60,000 other walkers as we abled down the street, then I scooted away as she was about to bring her kiddo into Toys R us (terror) A quick but excellent visit!

Wisely, at this point we decided to hit the road and roll on back to NJ. We went back to the Ferry terminal where I took a moment to show off my fabulous race swag! (and yes, the seas were still mighty high on the Hudson...)

$75 well spent. I am quite fond of my new pull over!!

We enjoyed a large family pasta dinner, I ate all the kids Halloween candy and proceeded to head to bed, with plans to get up at the ass crack of dawn.

And yes, this is a cliffhanger. To be continued!!!


Saturday, October 26, 2013

MDI Half Marathon Recap!

After running pretty darn fast at Smuttynose exactly 2 weeks prior to this race I went in with a very flexible plan. While rest, massage and heaps of foam rolling had me on the road to hip/butt/IT Band/hamstring recovery I wasn't 100% (well, compared to the post marathon days I felt great! but great is relative when you are a marathoner. so I was more or less hopping around on one leg.)
So essentially my flexible plan went from calling it a day the second I felt a twinge, to running slower than molasses, to motoring along at a decent long-ish run pace, to trying to win the damn thing (I was given instructions NOT to do this.)

And here is how it all played out.

No matter how much I try, I am always the last kid to the party on MDI the day before the race. (and, apparently, I am the VERY LAST person to post a blog about the big day. Go me!)
Eric and I made it up there by the time normal runners were sitting down to dinner. Oops! We arrived at the very last possible second that the expo was still open, grabbed our bibs, looked at the cruise ship and went out for a beer with a friend (because THAT is what you should do pre race for sure!!)  Over the course of the night we had that beer, ate a decadent pasta dinner (the kind that is too rich for pre marathon fare but totally fine for pre half!) drank a glass of wine, ran into Danielle and New Sarah and called it a night a little on the late side.

All my sweet gear and pumped up kicks. Ready to go!

Then we proceeded to sleep not at all. Ugh!

We awoke to rain which is par for the course for MDI. Luckily, the rain was short lived and it turned into a truly glorious day!
We only had a short walk to the busses to take us to the Half starting point so we were able to wait for the worst of the rain to quit before we moseyed on out. On the way there we had a quick reunion with JenJamie, Crystal and Mike (all doing the marathon, and killing it! or a relay. nice job kids!)

The bus trip was super easy, we jumped onto the first bus we saw and made it to the start (a nice cozy Grange like hall of some sort) where we stayed warm and dry. There was a little confusion about the start and where it was located- it was certainly a good hike from where we were. We got there with 4 minutes to spare which seemed a little shocking (I heard from reliable sources that we went off a few minutes early. Some people are taking tips from me and starting after the start! Isn't it fun!?)
I think in retrospect the only bummer of the race was the start. The marathon portion of MDI has a start that is pretty special, any of us who have done it before and then ended up choosing the half this year noticed its absence from our race. I have a feeling this was a first year glitch but my request is that the Half gets gussied up a bit in the future? (needy, needy aren't I!?) So, Danielle- you were sad you missed the anthem? Don't be dude because there wasn't one...

Eric and I stuck together for the first mile, prompting me to believe that he was out to beat me. I would have been ok with that since chasing him down was NOT part of my master plan but we were separated just after mile 1 never to see each other again. Until the finish, that is!

I felt better than expected for the first few miles and forcefully slowed my pace. I knew that the hills would be a challenge during the late miles of the course, especially since I had no reserves to fall back on. So along I chugged, pretty happy and enjoying the views and the companionship of other runners until mile 3 when suddenly, I was ALONE. Alone to the point that I almost thought I had taken a wrong turn! 
Right before I found myself ALONE I passed a guy wearing my socks...

Dudes, there was nobody around. No effing people. Luckily, I came across a few early spectators (we started 30 minutes after the marathoners, but being halfway there already meant that the crowds were sparse...) so I knew I was on the right track. Honestly, this was a bit challenging mentally as I tend to get a nice boost from other runners and it can be pretty fun to pace off people for a while for a break.
It wasn't gonna happen. I had too much time to think which when you aren't racing at 100% can be a little challenging (internal monologue: am I running too fast? too slow? ugh my butt is tired! ugh more hills! omg I'm actually getting hot! am I too fast? too SLOW?!? oh shut up head...)

Right around mile 7 there was a long stretch of road and I finally saw a pack of runners way out in front of me. Thank the sweet baby Geezes, I have never been so happy to see other runners!!! I was doing a great job maintaining my "run at a pace that feels very manageable" plan so chasing them down and picking them off, the way I normally would, was not an option. However, they must have been feeling the challenge of the hills because within about half a mile or so I had caught and passed them.

There is no doubt that the final few miles of this course is hard as shit. I run a lot of hills here at home, and while they might be a bit steeper than some of the MDI hills those MDI hills are lengthy- they seem to go on and on for quite some time. I knew at mile 9 that, as expected, I did not have any extra gas in the tank to fall back on. My legs were genuinely feeling it and instead of the tired feeling vanishing after a bit of mental pep talk it stuck around. I took it in stride and focused on maintaining nice, controlled strides and was happy beyond ALL effing reason that I only had 4 miles to go.

During those last 4 miles I caught a few girls and started to think that an AG placing might be possible since I was on pace to come in close to 1:40-1:42. Certainly not a land speed record by any stretch, but I was taking into account the challenge level of the course and the toll it was sure to take on quite a few people, myself included..
 For the last mile or so I could see one lonely female runner out ahead of me. I was able to close the gap considerably but I had no intention of pushing thru the home stretch, and even if that had been my intention I didn't have the legs for it. I figured that she was about 15 seconds ahead of me coming into the last 0.2 and since we were running at the exact same pace it wasn't gonna happen.

And yeah, when the lady in front of me ran for the finish and I saw the tape go up I basically said "fuuuuuuuuuuuck" but then I said "hells YES! I'm second!!!!" which was just fine. I showboated a little thru the finish line because when you are in 2nd you can do that!

Haha! Yayyyyy! Coming in for the win, oh shit I mean second!!

I finished, and must have looked a bit off color because the medics kinda ran to me but I was just fine. Apparently I just look like a person who needs medical attention!
It was a cool way to finish because all of us who were in the top 3 were hugging each other, giving high fives, comparing races and the 3rd place lady was funny "This LITTLE GIRL beat me!" she kept saying, which made me laugh because she was maybe an inch bigger than I am....

I drank Garorade. Walked around trying to stay loose and saw Danielle sprint thru the finish right around 1:50. She threw me her handheld so I walked back around to find her and hear about how she was the last person to cross the start line due to the *prompt* start! (way to make up some time and pick off some people!!) Then, as so often happens my foot cramped up and completely crippled me. So Danielle got to witness me shrieking in agony, drop the F bomb a zillion times, frantically rip off my shoe and basically drop to the ground when there was no relief, and finally get it back together, a sweaty shaking mess. This is par for the course and she took it in stride. Sorry dude, someday I'll act cool in public. (I have no idea how she manages to look so put together after a long run. and then there's me, writhing on the ground like some kinda idiot..)

We actually look pretty good for people who just ran 13.1 fast miles!

Almost immediately after the foot incident Eric finished and we made a beeline for the showers since we wanted to beat the crowd. I must admit that the showers at the finish of this race are such a damn lifesaver...

Happily, we got to see all our friends who we bumped into at the start finish before we headed out for home. It turned into such a beautiful day for race spectating that we lingered for a while, having a beer and cheering the finishers on. We ended up staying for longer than expected since we were walking to the bus stop while a bus was leaving, then we were not aggressive enough and missed the next bus as well... So over an hour later we fought tooth and nail (kidding, kidding) for a bus back to Bar Harbour, more food, and our car.

The next day my legs felt pretty great and I was able to get over the slight disappointment of loosing 1st by 11 seconds. I prefer to feel this way then to have done something over the top and be flat on my back for NYC. So, the countdown is on for NYCM at this point and hopefully my legs continue to recover and cooperate.