Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Hyannis Marathon 2018, the time it rained. AGAIN!

Eric and I (along with my cousin, Evan) ran the Hyannis marathon back in 2013. That particular race has become infamous over the years as the coldest, the rainiest, the windiest (and puddliest, and muddiest) shit show ever. We tell war stories about it, and anyone who happened to be there shakes their head in earnest sympathy when we speak of it, as it was truly a study in suffering.

As the years have gone on, I have learned to appreciate a good chilly damp race day. I honestly despise getting overheated, and in February I can not handle a surprise 60 degree day with any level of grace. When Eric and I signed up once again for Hyannis, just a few weeks ago, we hoped for some nice mild and dry weather (because you aren't smart if you don't wish for perfect conditions.)
Believe me, we never thought we would see a carbon copy of 2013's  weather, because what are the odds?

I looked at the 10 day forecast when it became available, and texted Danielle the good news! It was going to be a nice, overcast day, with a high of 46. PERFECT.

Well, that did not last.
Luckily, in the 5 years since our previous run in with Hyannis, I have stopped stressing about cold rainy weather. I know I can run in it, and my PR marathon was on a very rainy (and tail windy) day. I would MUCH rather have cold and rain than 75 and blazing sun. So it was no problem in the Bradlowski household. I also knew that Danielle and Sarah could totally handle crap weather, as we all ran MDI in 2012 (the year of the drenching rain.) Basically, I was supremely confident in all of our weather related abilities.

Eric and I cruised to Hyannis on Saturday, as we had had some kind of psychic moment and snagged a room at the host hotel. "The weather certainly is not going to be as bad as 5 years ago" we laughed to ourselves "but if it is, having an immediate hot shower will be worth the cost!" (spoiler: it was.)
It was raining and 40 upon our arrival, just to let us see a preview of things to come.

We had a really nice dinner with Danielle and Sarah, catching up on life events, being suspicious of "what was in the butter" (mustard...?) giving the waitress a hard time about her pens (or so she thought) and somehow staying very upbeat about the weather situation. I think Sarah *might* have mentioned buying a day gym pass, and running her 13.1 on the treadmill, but she was obviously fibbing.

All my friends liked my neon shirt, supplied to me by our training run recovery team at Bear Bones Brewing. I have said for years that the key to success in running is making sure to have a good, quality beer post run (after water, but this goes without saying.) Eric and I will be continuing the pub run tradition leading up to Boston (so join in the fun, peeps!)

Beer equals winning. 
Eric and I tried to go to bed early, but I ended up faffing around forever, eating Cadbury mini eggs, listening to children run down the corridor like elephants, and watching a lot of HGTV and pondering why people would want shiplap siding on interior walls. Who knows. Anyways, I took a Benadryl like a good adult and slept like a baby until almost 7:00, which is nothing short of a miracle.

We got up, and it was raining.
We were going to walk to Dunkin, but it was raining wayyyyy too hard. Plus, we had real, and valid concerns about losing our parking spot. So, we ate hotel breakfast (which also proves how much I have mellowed as a marathoner) as I sampled some rather questionable bacon and eggs, and cold French toast and lived to tell the tale! I had a few pieces of toast and PB to back this up, and (obvs) a nice big pre race pb&j and a syrup.

Danielle and Sarah headed out for a pre race run, and texted us about the conditions so that we could dress accordingly. Nobody wanted to freeze (inevitable) or overheat (I do not think anyone did) and my final clothing choice was: Long-sleeve top, lightweight vest, gloves, insulated tights, cap, snorkel.

We all met up pre race and (once again) we all were really adult about the weather. I do not even know who we are anymore, but this is clearly a sign of being mature and well adjusted humans. I feel like there may have been some less mature talk about pooping, or something, but who really knows.
Eric vanished at the last minute to warm up before his attempt at a major 13.1 PR, and just like that, it was time to RACE.

Pre race! So dry and warm! (Eric, Sarah, Me, Danielle) 
After the longest version EVER of the anthem, we were off. It was cold. (40) wet (steady rain) and moderately windy (wind about 15MPH on lap one)

Remembering that the start was very congested in 2013, I settled in much more towards the front, which was a great choice.
The rain was coming down in multiple different directions, making for some serious looking at the street for me, while I tried to keep the rain off my glasses.
Right away, I was very soggy. There was no slow progression to being soaked, it happened swiftly. I suppose it is better to just cut to the chase, and get it over with! Kind of like leaping into a cold pond, rather than dipping one toe in at a time. Right?

For those of you who are smart enough to avoid mid winter marathons, the course is something like this: (keeping in mind, that I have essentially been regulated to staring at my feet during both of my experiences here, due to the driving rain.) For the marathon, you are looking at a two lap course. It is quite flat by "Maine" standards, but it does have several small hills to break things up. There is, without fail, a very water covered area of road right around mile 3. (ankle deep puddle) There is a stretch of beach that would be lovely on a pleasant day, but in my life has been exceptionally dreary and also puddle ridden. There are a good number of aid stations, and porta potties on course. The first lap is fairly crowded, and cheerful. You are almost guaranteed some alone time during lap two, unless you find friends. Pro tip: FIND FRIENDS.
(Honestly, when you go to bib pick up there are boxes, and boxes of packets for half marathoners. And one box, one quarter full for people in the full. Prepare your head for loneliness!)

So anyway, I was off and running. Drowning, perhaps. Lap one was quite alright. Mentally, I broke the race up into two 13.1 events. I never thought "25 more miles to go" (because that sucks) I ran one half marathon, and then another. I am sure that intellectually, my brain must understand that we are about to go whole hog for 26.2. However, there is some really easy to trick part of my brain that I have recently discovered. *THAT* part of my brain can break up long runs into smaller increments, which makes high mileage much more tolerable! I love that part of my brain, and I really hope that it never catches on to my trickery!

From mile 10-13.1 things became quite windy. And, since it was about 300 below zero, I got really cold. However, my run was going very well, I felt fresh and unreasonably cheerful, and there was no way I was going to call it a day at the half. I had also found myself in a little group of people shooting for a sub 3:30 (Hi Kato and Adam!!) They were excellent pacers, so I locked right onto them and we became the best of friends.

Or we would have become best friends, had any of us actually been warm enough to talk.
I ran through the half in about 1:43 which is excellent. I felt great, which was more excellent. I was sopping, dripping wet and covered in mud and probably seaweed, and maybe a seagull, but all was well.

Right around mile 15 I considered snagging my iPod and cranking some sweet tunes. My hands, however, were frozen solid into little blue lobster claws. So, the dexterity to remove said iPod from a plastic baggie and get it up and running were just not there.
So I did what I always do in such dire circumstances.
I made up songs. (all of you are lucky that I only sing them in my head)

I started with Christmas Carols:
"Oh the weather outside is FRIGHTFUL!!!!
But running is so delightful.....?
The rain my face does HIT...
....fuck this crazy shit....."

Perhaps not a new Christmas song for the children, but I was quite amused by my little tune (it doesn't take much) and as I drafted off Kato and Adam for some miles, I sang this little jingle a couple times.

At 16 Adam had to give up being the pacer, as it was time to take a mid race poop. (I know the feeling, man, I really do.) So Kato and I ran along together, and it was basically just the two of us. We assumed that we were winning the race, since there was not another soul in sight. We contemplated the possibility of being off course (terrifying) we continued to avoid the ankle deep puddles, (even thought our shoes were beyond help), and she motored along, in the way that a woman on a mission to break 3:30 by a solid amount does. I was basically along for the ride, and it sure was nice to have a running buddy in the ever worsening conditions.
(also, I saw a few race photographers and can't wait to see some really bad, sopping wet, race photos to document the thorough drowning that we were given. I will be sure to share.)

As is per the norm, I was feeling just fine and dandy until mile 23. Then, my legs told me to screw off and I could not really blame them! Since this is not a new thing for me to experience, and since I knew I could walk to the finish, and BQ, I was neither upset or offended by this turn of events. I watched little Kato flee into the distance, passing the few people we had caught up with left and right, and I sent her telepathic messages to finish strong, because I was too frozen to say thing with my actual voice.

I sang more songs:
"hello darkness my old friend....
here's mile 23 AGAINNNNNNN
and my legs are slowly GIVING UP!!
But I really do not GIVE A F**K
Because the finish line... IS *ONLY* THREE MILES AW-AYYYYYY!!!"
And still I pray....
That I can get... To the FINISH...."
(apologies to Simon and Garfunkel for my butchering of a lovely song)
(also. I am indeed the songbird of our generation. you're welcome)

So yeah, I slogged through my last few miles. My feet were so cold that I could not feel them, which added a certain level of concern about taking a tragic tumble. The wind got really, REALLY WINDY! (like, 25 MPH gusts! UGH!) But, I stayed remarkably happy. I was not overheating! I was not vomiting! I had zero on course potty breaks! I knew I was going to BQ, which I was so very happy about! I was like "Bradlowski! You are doing a really good job out here, running in all this crap weather!" (which is nice, because sometimes I can be a jerk to myself.) But I was like "self, you are out here doing something that most people don't do! good for you, kid!"

I creaked into the finish like a zombie, despite my glowing positivity. I heard some kind of ruckus and realized that It was my FRIENDS! Eric, Sarah and Danielle were out getting soaking wet, cheering me to the finish. Which was in 3:29:02, which happens to be my 2nd fastest marathon time ever. Holy crap. And what good friends, for standing outdoors on the grossest day ever! *LOVE*
I saw Kato at the finish, and she had smashed her race in the face with a 3:26 (and she knows my cousins, proving that it is a weird, small world!)

Still running!!
I frozenly went inside, and declared that I immediately needed a very hot shower!

Blue lips of hypothermia. no big deal
Luckily, we got a post race pic before I started attempting (and failing, because of freezing hands) to remove my sopping wet, ocean covered race kit. What a mess!

We are less warm and dry now, but are clearly victorious! 
It took me a long while to warm up. Believe me, the shower was worth every penny that we spent on a hotel room. I was frozen to the bone, but generally felt quite good (sore, tired, FROZEN, but pretty good!) After my shower I was so tired that I got straight into bed with a gingerale, and stayed there for a solid 40 minutes without moving. It was possibly the most magical post race moment of my life (again guys, it's the little things!)
Eric went out and about for soup and such (fully mobile, despite smashing his PR and running a 1:37!!!), and texted me a sweet pic!

This is such a great sign!

I am really very, very happy with this race. My body seems to have absorbed the training that I had done, I had a *fairly* ideal race day (the wind, I could have done without) and things just came together nicely. I never take a BQ, or a finish, or a START for granted. When I pull off a good race, I really appreciate the fact that I can do so.
I feel like a sub 3:30 finish is something that I will always be seriously proud of. That is 26.2 miles at a sub 8:00 pace, and by my standards that is FAST! I also have enough marathons under my belt to know how swiftly, and seriously everything can go totally wrong. I am VERY thankful when it is a good day on course. And it was.

So see you in 2019 Boston (oh, and in about 7 weeks too!)
A runner who never takes qualifying for granted, because it is god damn hard to run fast!


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Boston training week 7: the one with the taper. Not tapering for Boston, obvs.

I'm a little late getting this recap up from last week.
Unlike last winter at this time, when we were buried under endless amounts of snow, this February has been pretty mild (and therefore, I am pretty busy!)

While the weather is better, early in the week the roads were still pretty awful. We ended up having a pretty mild week, so much improvement happened!

I was hesitant to begin a full fledged taper until I could see the 10 day forecast leading up to this coming Sunday. This plan meant that Eric and I did a big, bad ass workout last Wednesday which consisted of 3x2 mile reps @ 7:24. A great workout.  Things went really well, and (if nothing else) I have really achieved the goal I set of getting my legs moving faster in training.
In other good news, I finally got to try out my new shoes, and they are good!

The ONLY good thing about Eric turning into a very fast runner (which used to be the title that *I* held in our home, and I'm a little sad about losing the crown) is that he is a fantastic metronome of a pace booty. I won't lie, at this point I shamelessly use him for his speed skills, and drag him out on runs when I need a rabbit. The kid is fucking fast, and as consistent as the treadmill. If we run one repeat at 7:24, we are going to run all of them at that speed. It is magic. (and he is mine!!!! how did I get so lucky??)
OH! And this was a Valentine's Day workout, so very, very romantic.

The romance is really intense

As it turns out, the forecast for the weekend does not indicate imminent race cancellation. Taking that into account, I had a pretty pedestrian week, and we wrapped it up with a short/long run to the pub.

Drizzly running conditions to the best pub

Where we got warm and found our friends! 

I keep thinking of this as an abridged training cycle, since I made the "extra" marathon commitment on the late side. In fact, I have been running consistently since early November, so I should be well enough trained to pull it off.

My confidence took a hit during my shit show marathons last Spring, and I have been working hard to leave the negative feelings behind. I think I had enough training runs in tricky conditions to develop a new, positive mindset.
I also made a deal with myself, that if at ANY point, this marathon sucks, I am dropping out and I do not care. Giving myself permission to be "ok" with a DNF gives me some room to find a more comfortable head space.
Whatever works, right?
I very much hope to be able to run a BQ. I would like to think that my fast days are not yet behind me! Whatever happens this weekend, I have truly enjoyed this training cycle, and actually think I found the right balance between work/working out/having fun/keeping it real.

And so, on to the race.
(and it looks like rain and wind, which is my honest to god favorite!!!)

Miles Run: 33.8

Elevation this week: 1,369 (all outdoors)

Lowest low temp: 11

Highest temp: 46 = heat wave

Total snowfall: A very sneaky 4", plus the world turned to death ice

Coldest day that I ran outdoors: It was like 33 on Wednesday which was like SO COLD!!! (so spoiled)

Random fact: I really can not stand the feeling of stuff caught between my teeth. I always have floss.  


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Boston training week 6: the one with the shoes that have 5167 miles on them

A relatively uneventful week in these parts.

I purchased a pair of new shoes last week (Hoka Clifton 4's, I had 4 pairs of the 3's and I really hope to like the update on the 4's.)
However. I like my first run in new shoes to be out on the road, in the magic of nature. As is typical for Maine, the roads were insanely disgusting this week. My outdoor running days were fairly warm and wet, and flooding, slime, slush and puddles reigned supreme.
I don't want to destroy my pretty new kicks the first time out, so I am still slopping around in a truly ancient pair of Clifton 3's. (exact mileage: 572 miles )

My week was extremely busy. No complaints here, as a self employed human in a good weather driven sport, being busy in February is a huge plus. That being said, I was more or less stuck on the treadmill until the weekend. (dark plus death ice equals doom. so nope)

Tuesday was a recovery run. After such a fast 20 on Sunday I wanted to closely evaluate how things felt in the days after. I was maybe a bit tired, but I was neither sore, nor completely destroyed. Actually, I was quite pleased with how my old bod felt.

(and then, I proceeded to NOT SLEEP for the rest of the week. It was really unpleasant. and that, plus PMS crap, and my old bod felt less good as the week went on.)

On Wednesday we had a pretty solid winter storm, and saw about 9-10 inches of snow fall upon us.

Storm day
I hit the treadmill for 6x1 mile repeats, 3 at 7:30, and 3 at 7:24. This is an impressive uptick from what I was doing prior to Boston last year, and since hitting my speed workouts has been a goal, I felt quite successful.

Also successful at snow removal
Friday had me feeling the consequences of an extremely busy week on very, very little rest. After another impressively long day on the job, I cut my losses and did an easy 4.
(and then, I took a Benadryl and slept for 10 hours straight. doesn't take much to knock me out!)

Oh, I made the banana bread from Run Fast, Eat Slow. We then had French Toast made from the loaf basically every day.
It. Was. Amazing.
Make this now, NOW. Go, do it now. Skedaddle.

Banana bread, French toasted. YES. 

Saturday was a totally decent day for a long run in February. 38 degrees and cloudy is about as good as we can hope for! The roads were very slushy, puddly, and icy in places which did present more of a challenge than would be considered ideal.
Eric and I both felt the effects of some cumulative fatigue during this run, and we both essentially put our heads down and gutted it out. It was not a disaster by any stretch, but it was work.
And coming in at 18 miles, probably *work* even on a good day!

We made it!
We met my Dad and sister at the pub and I proceeded to:

1: go pee
2: drink several glasses of water
3: change into dry clothing, and examine foot blisters from all the puddles
4: drink chalky protein shake, talk, pat Winston the bar dog, eat a slice of pizza
5: drink a delicious 12 ounce Picea on Nitro
6: take selfie to prove we were there
7: consume more water, pee 12 times, return home to eat most of the cheese in the house (or all of it, but who is really reading this.)

Selfie to prove that we were there
Downhill repeats have been a part of my pre Boston plan. I have yet to figure out the magic recipe to run Boston without feeling like a bucket of assholes (well, the year that it was freezing and raining really helped with that goal. Go figure)
I have a lot of problems with Boston. It is almost always one point two million degrees. It is a long fucking day. The course is a bitch of net downhill that ruins your life, and yet every mile has an uphill that punches you in the throat.
And yet, not only do I continue to return, but I really look forward to this mess from the bottom of my heart.
Really though...  At some point, I would like to learn the correct method of training, that will render my legs somewhat more useful at mile 18 and beyond on marathon day.
Anyway, in hopes of someday cracking the code, I headed out on a 33 degree rainy Sunday for some more downhill repeats.
The road was slimy, but I can't complain too much. I haven't had a lot of time to refine my rain/ road freezing technique yet this year, so it was good training (I'm serious, if you are going to run a winter marathon you really need to train in everything.) This was a good workout, I got absolutely drenched in puddle water, and my legs were smoked. Thankfully, I was still wearing the shoes with 4,987 miles on them. They honestly needed to go right in the hopper, totally ruined after this run.

I'm fogging up and look slightly deranged 
Overall, a good week in training despite some fatigue issues at the end of the week. Female issues certainly add to that particular problem, and I cut myself some slack for not feeling at the top of my game.

Miles Run: 46.8

Elevation this week: 1,547

Lowest low temp: 10

Highest temp: 38 = totally fine

Total snowfall: About 10 on Wednesday, and we woke p to 3 on Saturday morning. 

Coldest day that I ran outdoors: 33 on Sunday. Not a hardship. 

Random fact: 20+ years ago I had a green parakeet who I named Billy Joe and loved very much. I let his wings grow and I would let him fly around my parents screened in porch (because I was a kid and still lived at home.) He would land on my shoulder and was really a delightful pet! He had been around for quite a while, but died during the ice storm, basically as a little bird carbon monoxide detector. Luckily, this alerted my family to a problem (it was a very bad storm! Anyone who remembers knows it was a doozy...) Every now and then I think about getting another little bird, but I feel really bad keeping them cooped up in a cage, and I also feel bad letting a bird fly around the house pooping everywhere. So, no bird. 


Monday, February 5, 2018

Boston Training Week 5: The one with the Mid Winter Classic, no photos, and good advice

Somehow, the Mid Winter Classic has already come and gone.
I might be alone with this thought, but I feel like winter is flying by.

My early week running was fairly casual, and on the treadmill due to some more icy weather, some late evenings at work, and the desire to be warm and to watch Dance Mom's.

The only workout of interest was 6x800 @7:04 on Wednesday, which was good. Most likely my last short/fast work until after Hyannis (and possibly Boston, unless you count mile reps as short/fast.)

I made it outdoors on Saturday for a quick, icy, and cool (19 degree) short run.
My shoes have well over 500 miles on them, and need to be replaced! ("they say" shoes should be replaced every 350 miles. "I say" my bank account can not handle that. "I also say" if you like to replace your shoes more often, then you should do that, and not try to be cheap like me!)

Ruined shoes
Sunday's run was certainly the best adventure of the week.

First, I ran 10 miles, from Portland to Cape Elizabeth to log some extra mileage before the Mid Winter Classic 10 miler. So many 10 milers to deal with!
I had a pretty exact plan laid out, as I did not want to get to the race start too early and cool down, becoming a stiff waste of space. I also did not wish to miss the start.
I gave myself about 8 extra minutes to get there, taking into account mishap that might occur (removing/replacing yaktracks, needing to pee (I did not, for the first time ever) getting lost, or simply having a terrible day of running.)
The ONLY mishap that ALMOST happened was just barely missing a Casco Bay drawbridge opening. That certainly would have been exciting! Luckily, it closed up before I arrived. I did have to on and off the yak tracks a couple times, as the footing was complete ice in many areas. Also, the wind was blowing at a good clip. A 25-30 MPH good clip!! As I ran across the bridge, it literally buffeted me to and fro. It was quite remarkable and extreme, to the point that I was laughing out loud at the absurdity of my situation.
Despite the wind and ice, I made it to the race at exactly the appointed hour. Feeling good. 8:35 pace all the way.

I picked up my bib, waved a (very) quick hello to friends, and before my legs even knew they had stopped, I was on my way again.

I'm in the orange vest #proof that I was there!

Generally speaking, it was a quite good day for running. 35 degrees (perfect), overcast (perfect) and really high winds (not perfect, until they are at your back!)

I had a very good run. I was not trying to kill myself with absurdly fast paces, but I was not planning to hold back. The timing of this race is perfect for a pretty big workout prior to Hyannis, so I just let whatever happened happen.

The wind was pretty aggressive for many parts of the race, but it never made me want to cry, or fall down on the street having an adult tantrum.
And you better believe I LOVED the wind when it was at my back for the final mile and a half. It pushed me along to a legit fast finish, a 1:18:15 which is a 7:50 average, which is pretty damn fast, if I say so myself.

Post race, Eric set a HUGE PR

I felt great afterwards, spent some time catching up with friends, and then went out for a delicious late lunch/brunch.

MMMM. Brunch at Silly's is terrific. 
This was a really terrific workout, a good confidence booster, and confirmation that I am considerably more fit than this time (or any time) last Spring.

I feel like this was a great way to wrap up another good week of training!

Back to last week's post for a second. I got a couple comments (which is so rare!!) with some questions about the wisdom of pub runs, aka the wisdom of drinking alcohol after running.
And specifically, if I ever felt that my judgement might be poor after a run, due to being exhausted.

In brief, I can see how a non running person could be shocked that a run of 13-20 miles could leave you anything less than dehydrated, depleted, and possibly delirious! When I was not yet a runner, I could simply not imagine running even a mile without passing out and throwing up.

Now that I have been a runner for many years, my body is pretty used to endurance training. I also care for myself well during my time spent running; hydrating very well, and eating energy boosting (and all natural!) snacks. Also, the pace that I keep during my training runs is causal, and conversational. After a run, if I felt exhausted to the point of not being able to use proper judgement I would most likely go the the Emergency Room, not the pub! I usually feel good after a long run, and ready for a large glass of water (without ice!) a protein filled snack, and then perhaps a small beer, enjoyed with friends, good conversation, and camaraderie.

I would feel badly if someone thought that I was running a terribly hard, and technical long run, followed up with keg stands and body shots to rehydrate! Heavens, that would be a horrible choice! (for me anyway, if you can pull that off then good for you, and yikes!)

In conclusion, I think there are many bloggers out there who live life to an extreme. NO grains, NO dairy, NO sugar, NO beer, NO NO NO!!! I am fortunate not to have any allergies, or intolerances, and I truly enjoy almost everything in moderation. (well, I eat a LOT of veggies.... and I don't smoke ANY crack!!) But, at the end of the day, a little cake, a little beer, a little cookie, a little pizza is part of my well balanced life. I think I am a very accurate, and average example of an non elite athlete, who is honest about their life and training.

(and..... my Doctor agrees. Saying "If I had more patients who lead your lifestyle, I would be out of business!!)

In the long run, please do what you feel is right for you and your life. I know, and respect so many people (runners, and not runners) who have very different diets, lifestyles, and habits and who are all healthy and meeting their goals! Moderation is key, and that is my good advice for the week!

Miles Run: 43.7

Elevation this week: 1,848

Lowest low temp: 11

Highest temp: 36 which is just fine

Total snowfall: A few inches here and there. Plenty of ice. A thaw. And a freeze. 

Coldest day that I ran outdoors: 19 degrees. Not too bad. 

Random fact: I really dislike loud noises, to the point where I  bring earplugs to loud movies, to fireworks, and on planes (and clearly to any live music events!)  BUT, I have trouble sleeping without background noise. WEIRD.