Chicago Marathon 2018 Race Recap

Here we are, a week out from Chicago and I am finally sitting down to write my recap. To make a long story short, I didn’t achieve my goal. After running 3:32 in less than ideal conditions in Hyannis, I felt ready to break 3:30 and that’s what I had trained for this whole cycle, but unfortunately I didn’t get it done on race day. But I’ll get to that.

Chicago BoundI flew out Friday afternoon and thankfully had no issues with my flight. I landed in Chicago around 3 and quickly Ubered to my hotel downtown (I stayed at the Congress Plaza hotel directly across from Grant Park and highly recommend it). I dropped my bags quick as I could and walked a couple blocks up the street to the Hilton where I was able to catch a free shuttle to the expo. There were multiple shuttle pick-up points throughout downtown, which I thought was an awesome touch on the organizers’ part.

After picking up my bib without incident, I wandered the expo, picking up some great swag and bumping into a few friends who were also running. With Chicago being my first World Major (and big city marathon), I was really excited to get some good gear at this one and the expo did not disappoint.

I got a late dinner with friends that evening and then crashed pretty hard back at the hotel.

Saturday came bright and early with some pretty intense thunderstorms. Thankfully, they seemed to have passed by the time I went out for my 20 minute shakeout run, but it did make me nervous about the weather for Sunday and whether the start would end up being delayed if there were storms. After my shakeout, I met up with the other Oiselle Volee members who were in town at a nearby Panera. I ended up sitting across from Allie Kieffer there, and LOVED getting to chat with her a bit about marathon training and her build to NYC (Allie is a professional runner who came in 5th at New York last year).

Oiselle Volee at Chicago Marathon(Allie is the one in the middle holding the baby – haha, that’s not her baby!)

In the afternoon, I went to a live podcast recording hosted by Bibrave, featuring Peter Sagal and Mebย kKeflezighi. This ended up being SO entertaining (love Peter Sagal!) and the perfect activity to keep me off my feet and relaxing.

Oiselle VoleeThe Oiselle group who attended the podcast recording!

Chicago Marathon Bibrave live podcastAfter that, I just headed back to my hotel to relax and get ready for the big day. I watched some Netflix, laid my things out and generally did a good job keeping things very low-key. Going into the marathon, I knew I was going to be tempted to do ALL of the meet-ups and special events that were going on with the race, so I wanted to make a concerted effort to relax and do everything I could to ensure a good race day. Mission accomplished on that front at least.

That night, I read and tried to go to sleep around 9:45 or so. Unfortunately, as soon as I laid down, I started thinking about the race and getting excited. Despite using every trick in the book to try to fall asleep, my body wasn’t having it. I knew my sleep had been pretty good leading up to the race so I wasn’t overly stressed about it, but it was more annoying than anything else. All told, I think I got about 3 hours of sleep MAX that night. It was definitely the worst I’ve ever slept before a race, so maybe it did affect me but it’s hard to say.

FINALLY, my alarm was going off and it was time to get up. I got ready in my room, alternating between drinking coffee and Maurten. I had my bagel and peanut butter which I had brought with me and I was ready to go. Team Paws was doing a bag check/breakfast for team members right in the hotel I was staying in, so I popped down and dropped my bag off. This was much nicer than trying to deal with the craziness of the race bag check.

Team Paws Chicago MarathonI used the indoor bathrooms a couple times and wanted to use it ONE last time before heading out to the corrals, but the lines suddenly became INSANELY long in the hotel. The wave 1 runners for Team Paws were on their way out, so I headed out with them thinking I could just do a quick porta-potty stop before jumping in my corral (this was about 6:30 am, the race started at 7:30).

I should have known this would be cutting it too close for another bathroom stop. The lines for the porta-potties were INSANE. And even though there were a lot of them, the line barely moved. At 7:15, I heard someone say behind me that they closed the corrals at 7:20, so I immediately jumped out of line and headed to my corral (E – the last one in the first wave).

At this point, the crowds were PACKED. We were all standing on top of each other and people were jostling for position, but it was impossible to move very far. I tried to relax and stay calm, but mostly I was freaking out about the fact that I hadn’t been able to use the bathroom. I debated whether to stop for a porta-potty on course, but I knew that would probably add at least 1 minute (probably 2) to my time and I didn’t want to risk that and possibly miss my goal. I figured I’d give it a few miles to see if the feeling went away.

Chicago Marathon(Picture of the start from Saturday, hence the lack of runners)

FINALLY, the race began and my corral began to creep towards the front. It took a good 15 minutes for us to finally reach the start chute and actually cross the line. As we started, I thought to myself, “Here we go. 26.2 miles.”

The first few miles ticked by quickly. My coach had advised me to use the manual lap function on my GPS watch since the tall buildings and bridges completely throw GPS watches out of whack in Chicago. I was supposed to be around 8:10 – 8:15 for the first 10k. I clicked off the first mile in 8:06, followed by 8:26 and then 8:09.

I felt great. I was so excited that after MONTHS and MONTHS of hard work and anticipation, I was finally running the freaking Chicago Marathon. The spectators were amazing. Even though it was cool (low 60s) with spitting rain showers, the crowds were out and they were cheering.

(I was too focused to notice and/or smile in a SINGLE race photo. Oh well…)

I tried to settle in, knowing the plan was to pick up the pace a bit after the first 10k. According to the Chicago tracking app, I averaged 8:10/mile for the first 10k. On the fast side of what my coach had prescribed, but still within reason.

Miles 7 through 11, I was aiming for 8 – 8:05ish pace. I ran 7:52, 8:02, 8:02, 8:04, and 7:58. Pretty good. I was running relaxed and soaking in all the cheers I was getting for Team Paws along the course. I particularly loved the woman who was standing with her two dogs, who yelled out to me “We love Team Paws! They gave me these two!”ย I focused on sucking down my gels every 3-4 miles. I think around this point, I may have started using a mantra I had heard from Amy Cragg that I really liked – “I breathe in strength, I breathe out weakness.”ย I was still feeling good, I was more just trying to focus on my breath.

After mile 11, it was time to start getting more serious. The goal was 7:50-7:55 pace for the next 4 miles. I ran 7:58, 7:54, 7:51, 7:56 and 7:53. I checked my overall time as I came through the halfway point and I was at 1:45:56. A little behind where I wanted to be, and I definitely felt a little rush of nerves. On top of that, I could feel some light fatigue in my quads. I knew it was WAY too early to be feeling the miles, and that was my first inkling that maybe it wasn’t going to be my day.

It was after mile 16 that things began to fall apart more rapidly. I was supposed to be running 7:45ish pace, but I hit a 7:57 and then 8:06 for mile 18 and it was pretty much at that point that I realized sub 3:30 was not going to happen. I was using my mantras and trying to stay strong, but I just knew I didn’t have any more 7:45ish miles in my legs and I didn’t want to blow up with 8 more miles to go.

To my credit, I didn’t freak out. I decided to ease up and to try to have fun and enjoy the crowds and the experience as much as I could to the finish. I was NOT going to let myself walk, but I would run slower. Mile 19 was 8:09, followed by 8:49, 8:48, 8:49, 9:01, 8:50, 8:49 and 9:01 for mile 26. I wish I had been able to kick a little more at the end, but I was having this awful high chest cramp that wouldn’t go away.

After crossing the finish line, the emotions started to wash over me. 3:37 is a great marathon time and definitely not something to be ashamed of, but I just felt so sad to miss my PR and the BQ. On top of that, my legs were in HORRIBLE pain and the damn finishing chute was so long and they kept yelling at us to keep moving forward. All I wanted to do was sit down but there was nowhere to sit and I was getting cold and my bag was back with the Team Paws bags at the hotel.

In the hours after finishing, I really thought that this might be my last marathon. I couldn’t get over how much my legs hurt (and how much the last 8 miles hurt). To devote so many months to training and to miss my goal just sucked. Now that I’ve had a little time to reflect, I know I’m not done with the marathon. I’m going to take the spring off to focus on shorter stuff like the half marathon and the 10k – and any other race that sounds fun. ๐Ÿ™‚ I also want to focus more on strength training so that I can really get ahead of the Achilles and hamstring issues that tend to plague me during marathon cycles. Next fall, I hope to be ready to take another crack at 26.2 miles.

And I would be remiss not to give everyone who reads this blog and supports me a HUGE THANK YOU. If you donated to my fundraising efforts, I am so grateful. I ended up raising $1800, $300 more than my required minimum. If you cheered for me or tracked me, THANK YOU. All of the positive vibes and support I felt throughout this training cycle was incredible.

Team Paws Chicago MarathonMarathon #5 is in the books!

Advertisements

20 Days to Chicago!!!!

Holy crap,

I can’t believe how fast this snuck up. In typical fashion, life got REALLY busy and I haven’t written a blog post in ages. But I’m back. ๐Ÿ™‚

Chicago TrainingAs this training cycle begins to wind down, I don’t 100% know what to think. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster. In the time I’ve been training for Chicago I encountered:

  • an achy Achilles (seems like this is likely to keep popping up if I don’t stick to my PT exercises).
  • TWO hamstring scares – one on each leg.
  • a cold that wiped me out during my peak weeks of training.

But I’ve also run the most consistent and highest mileage ever during a marathon training cycle.

Chicago BuildLook at that consistency! That steady build of miles! According to my Garmin, in the past 4 weeks, I’ve averaged 48.2 miles/week. I’ve had one week over 50 miles already and I’m set to run one more big week this week before the real taper begins.

Before Hyannis, I didn’t have time to accumulate this many weeks of steady training (Hyannis was in late Feb looking at the chart). So while I have felt more fatigued, I’m also really excited because I KNOW I’m stronger.

In this cycle, I’ve run two 20-milers and two 18-milers. The first 18 went GREAT. I remember finishing and feeling like, “hey, I bet I could easily go another 2 and hit 20 miles no problem.” The middle 8 miles were supposed to be moderate, about MP + 15 seconds, getting faster towards the end. I hit those splits solidly. Two weeks later, I ran the first 20-miler, a doozy of a workout with a lot of MP miles and faster. I can honestly say, I went into it excited and ready to work. The first two sections of the workout went well, in that I was hitting my goal splits, BUT I could tell that I was working really hard to do so. I was supposed to run 7:30 and 7:15 pace for 2 miles and 1 mile respectively after that, and I came NOWHERE close, slowing down pretty dramatically.

A day or two later, I came down with a pretty rough cold. In hindsight, I think maybe it was already beginning to affect me which was why I struggled so much on that run. The cold lasted longer than I expected and made everything feel really hard – even easy little 6 mile runs. THANKFULLY, I think I’m finally on the mend from that.

All of this to say – that no, this training cycle hasn’t been perfect, but looking back, I do think it’s been really good. During my cold, I think I got a little depressed that everything was feeling so hard and I didn’t know what to think. Now, I can honestly say that I’m excited again. I’m ready to run the streets of Chicago and experience my first World Marathon Major! Haha, it’s definitely going to be different than all of the small-town marathons I’ve run before.

Hyannis MarathonLoved Hyannis, but not exactly many spectators out there!

Oh, and speaking of Marathon Majors – today I get to submit my qualifying time for Boston! My time of 3:32:01 puts me right on the bubble of whether or not I’ll actually get to run in 2019, so honestly it kind of feels like I’m entering a race lottery! I thought I would feel panicky about it, but I honestly don’t. I’d love to run Boston in 2019, but if it doesn’t happen then that’s ok too. If I don’t get in, at least it means I won’t have to train for another marathon through a New England winter! ๐Ÿ™‚


July/August Chicago Training Check-In

Hey there, hope you all had a good weekend!

Mine was (unsurprisingly) filled with running. Marathon training is basically taking over at this point, but I’m ok with it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s how my mileage shaped up for the month of July:

 

Chicago Marathon TrainingThe week of 38 miles included a work trip to California for 5 days. I’m pretty happy I managed to get that much running in while on the road. The plan is to keep me in the 40 miles/week range for a while and I’ll probably peak around 50-55 miles in early September.

Another big plus – I MET MY FUNDRAISING GOAL!I was fairly confident I would be able to raise $1500 (the minimum I was required to hit for Team Paws), but I was still a little nervous and I didn’t want to cut it too close to the deadline in mid-September. I’m glad that this is one less thing I have to worry about now!

One thing I AM slightly worried about has been the tightness that popped up in my right hamstring just over a week ago. The week that I was in California, I had been doing some goblet squats after my run and felt a weird twinge in my left hamstring. I immediately backed off and decided to do my long run that weekend at a nice easy pace with no speedwork just to play it safe. That went fine. A few days later, I was feeling 100% back to normal and did a relatively tough speedwork session. I didn’t have any pain throughout the session, but then running that evening with some friends, it felt tight and weird.

Now, a few GOOD things about this since I am becoming a bit of an expert on hamstring pulls. Last year, I had done something similar where I tweaked my hammy doing strength work and then full-on pulled it later in the week during a tough speed session. In that instance, the pain was immediate and I knew I had done something terrible. Even running my easy, slow pace was pretty painful. This time around, there was no acute, ‘Oh sh*t’ moment. I think I was probably compensating for my left hamstring during the speedwork, even though I thought it was completely recovered. That, coupled with a boost in mileage after traveling, seems to have mildly irritated my right hamstring. Mind you – the right hamstring is the side I pulled badly last year, and is in general, my weak side.

I discussed all of this with my coach and we’ve cut out speedwork for a couple weeks until it calms down. Thankfully, I don’t feel it AT ALL running easy, so I’ve been able to keep my mileage up and focus on my good ol’ hamstring rehab exercises.

I’m slightly annoyed with myself BUT I also do feel from my previous experience that this is a truly minor bump in the road. My number 1 goal for Chicago is to get to the starting line healthy. Any time goals I have are second to that.

Couple of other random training things I am going to throw into this mish-mosh of a blog post –

  • At a friend’s suggestion, I took my Team Paws singlet to a tailor to get altered. Before, there was a lot of extra fabric and bagginess under the armpits and I was very concerned about chafing. I got it back early last week and it fits like a dream now. I’ve tested it on a few runs and no chafing whatsoever. **If you’re running a marathon for charity and not super thrilled with the fit of the singlet, I highly recommend taking it to a tailor. I can’t even tell mine was altered and now I’m confident that it will do the job for 26.2 miles come October.**
  • I picked up a fresh pair of sneakers the other day! I went with the On Clouds again. I’m a big fan of this shoe. It’s a lightweight, neutral trainer with a 5 mm heel-toe drop. It’s a little funny looking, but the pods on the sole of the shoe give it just the right amount of cushion. I love it as a training shoe for the Nike Vaporfly 4%s. Those don’t hold up for a ton of mileage so I’m reserving my pair for very important races (like Chicago).

On Running - Cloud

On Running

I think that about sums up my training for the time-being! I’m excited to continue to build in August and get back to my speed sessions soon.


Training Check-In + the Malden 10k!

Happy Monday!

I wanted to pop in quickly to share an update on all things Chicago Marathon-related!

First off, I got my singlet so I can represent Team Paws in October and I am so excited.

Team Paws Chicago Marathon

Fundraising is also going great! I am so SO close to reaching my fundraising goal! Less than $300 to go!! (If you would like to donate, you can visit my page here).ย Again, HUGE thank you to everyone who has donated! It really means a lot to have so much support.

Now for the training stuff! For the past 3 weeks, my mileage has been hovering right around 40 miles a week. I’m still doing a lot of shorter, faster interval workouts, but I have started getting some marathon pace work in during my long runs, and boy are those workouts fun. My A-goal for Chicago (assuming everything goes well in training and I get a nice weather day)ย is a 7:45/mile pace. I don’t know if it’s just a confidence thing, but this pace has been feeling a lot more comfortable from the get-go than my 8:00 pace did when I first started training for Philly last summer. Last year, it took quite a while for that pace to feel comfortable and like it could be sustainable for 26.2 miles. Maybe I’m just learning to trust the process, but I feel in my heart that 7:45 is totally doable for me in Chicago. But time will tell!

Speaking of marathon pace miles, yesterday I ran the Malden 10k. My coach had me use it as a workout to do a marathon progression, and I was SO happy to comply. The course had a really challenging uphill pretty much from mile 1.5-2.5 and it was a hot, sticky morning so it would have been a tough day to race hard.

Malden 10k Race RecapThe elevation profile from the course. See?? I was not kidding about that hill!

I did a 3 mile warm-up to tack on some extra miles for the day, and met up with my friend near the start. It was pretty crowded in the corral, but thankfully the pack of runners thinned out quickly. My coach had told me to start out around 8:00-8:10/mile and to cut down from there, just focusing on making each mile faster than the one before it.

Malden 10k Race RecapNot perfect, but pretty darn good! I had looked at the course elevation profile before, and I was a little worried about how the hill was going to affect me, but thankfully it was early enough on that I was able to handle it. And you know what they say – what goes up must come down! Mile 4 had a HUGE downhill section that felt amazing. That 7:22 pace threw off my perfect progression, but it truly felt effortless. Mile 5 was back to reality, but even then I felt really strong and in control running that 7:36 split.

By Mile 6, I definitely got excited. I still had some juice in my legs and I was passing a lot of people which always pumps me up. ๐Ÿ™‚

Malden 10kI think my friends were cheering for me here at the finish, which is why I’m smiling even though I’m desperately trying to kick.

Malden 10kOverall, I’m really pleased with how this went. I ran within myself and finished feeling strong and like I could have gone further – and that’s with the hills and humidity! This has me so excited for what’s to come. I’m toying with the idea of doing a half in early August and I think I’m leaning towards doing it. It’s time to knock a few minutes off the half PR!

Hope you have a great week!


Chicago Marathon Training Check-In

Hello hello!

So I didn’t run any races this week, but I thought it would be a good time to check in and update you all both on my fundraising for Team Paws and my base building for the marathon. These are still the early stages since Chicago isn’t until October, but I am still doing plenty of running trying to lay a strong foundation for when the hard workouts come later.

Chicago is my first time running for a charity, and I have to say – fundraising is its own challenge! Props to all the charity runners who raise thousands of dollars for Boston every year. This isn’t easy!! I have to raise $1500 for Team Paws and while I think it’s 100% doable, I am starting to have to get creative. I need to raise about $600 more by September, so I’m currently offering a couple of fun incentive for folks to donate.

  • For anyone who donates between now and July, I will mail homemade cookies! I’m going to do batches of chocolate chip and white chocolate macadamia nut and will ship them out around the 4th of July. I’m also happy to take requests. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Anyone who donates between now and Sunday, June 24th (12 pm EST) will be entered in a giveaway to win either one of these cute, paw print bracelets (I have two of them) or a key chain. I made these myself with the help of my oh so crafty Momma!

Chicago Marathon Fundraising for Team Paws

Chicago Marathon FundraisingJust a simple cute way to rep the furry, four-legged friend in your life. ๐Ÿ™‚

Here is the link to my page if you are interested in donating!

As for the running, things are off to a GREAT start! I think if it weren’t for my coach, I’d probably be trying to dive into 15-16 mile long runs by now, I’m feeling so excited. My mileage has been hovering around 30 miles/week, with one week that was a little higher (42 miles) and a few weeks that were a little lower because of some work travel (25-27 miles).

I’ve consistently been getting in two harder efforts a week – usually some shorter, faster intervals during the middle of the week and a longer tempo run on the weekend. On Thursday this past week, my workout was:

1.5 mile warm-up, 4 x 600 meters @ 2:30/rep (2 min recoveries), 4 x 400 meters @ 1:40/rep (90 sec recoveries), 1 mile cool-down.

I went to the track to tackle this and it was SO fun. Challenging, but I always managed to be pretty much right there with my splits.

Chicago Marathon Training

Saturday’s long run was a fun one too. 9 miles with 3 miles around 8:10, a recovery mile, and then 2 at 7:50. My splits for those target miles were 8:09, 8:09, 8:02 and then 7:47 and 7:51. Pretty much right on the money!

Oh Yeah.It sounds weird, but I really cannot wait for those long runs to keep getting longer and for the tempo sections to keep extending. Honestly, it was such a good feeling going into Hyannis, knowing I had run 20-milers with 3 x 4 miles at 8:00/mi and felt comfortable. It was huge for my confidence, and gave me the self-belief that I could BQ. While it’s REALLY early and my coach and I may adjust the plan based on how training goes, my new goal race pace is going to be 7:45/mile for Chicago. Woof. Right now that sounds so fast!

Race-wise, next up will be something for the 4th of July – I’m still toying with a few different local options. Overall, the summer is looking good!


The 2018 Wine Run: Race Recap and my first WIN!

So I’m back again, this time with another race recap!

I think I had forgotten how many awesome races there are to do in the spring in New England and it becomes really easy to sign up for a different race every weekend! Case in point – I ran Harpoon on May 20th, the Run to Remember Half the week after, and this past Sunday, I ran a Wine Run in North Dartmouth, Mass!

Harpoon 5 Miler Recap

Run to Remember

I ran the Run to Remember super easy, just treating it as a supported long run. The Wine Run was supposed to be another casual fun run. I had signed up to do it with a friend months ago, in the dead of winter. It sounded like a blast – a 3 mile run through a vineyard, followed by a wine tasting, buffet dinner, and live music. Not a bad deal for the price of the race registration!

In the week or so leading up to the race, they sent out a participant information guide, and I noticed that all age group winners received a free bottle of wine! Well, the wheels in my head started turning, and my plan to take this easy evolved into “let’s see if you can win your age group!”. Haha, whoops.

The race was a little over an hour outside Boston at the Running Brook Vineyard. My friend and I arrived with about 30 minutes to spare to pick up our bibs and warm up. However, the check-in process was taking FOREVER and I started to get a little anxious. It eventually became clear that the race was not going to start on time because there were still plenty of people behind us in line who also still needed to get their bibs. After a good 40 minutes of waiting in line (not exaggerating), we finally got our bibs and were able to get settled and ready for the run.

Wine Run 2018I knew the course was going to be interesting. It was more of a trail run, looping through the grassy field and then zig-zagging through the aisles of the vineyard. Ideally, I wanted to run fast enough to place in my age group, but slow enough so that I wouldn’t trip and break an ankle. It was a pretty small race, probably around 400 people and I felt like winning my age group would be doable.

The “map” of the course –

Wine Run 2018 CourseRight before the start, the race director warned us to be careful of our footing and remarked that the course was a little short – around 2.7 miles instead of the advertised 3 miles. ‘No problem‘, I thought to myself, I was ok with running a little short. Then, with the blasting of the air horn, we were off!

I started towards the front of the pack, with two other fast looking ladies in front with me. Within the first quarter mile, the group settled into single file as that was about as wide as the track allowed. My early thought was to settle in behind the other women and then push later in the race. I didn’t stick with that plan long.

Wine Run 2018By about half a mile in, I was essentially on top of the first woman and felt like I had the energy to pass her. So with some trepidation, I passed on a slightly wider part of the trail, moving into the spot of first woman and third overall. At this point, my thought process was a little something like, “Oh shit. You better commit to this pace now. Don’t get passed!” Not exactly positive self-talk, but oh well – that’s still a work in progress.

At this point in the course, we started the weaving through the vines. I had to really focus on my footing and making the sharp turns at the end of the aisles. They had arrows directing the course, but there were a few spots that were a little confusing with me and the second place guy almost going down the wrong way.

Wine Run 2018 Race RecapI hit mile 1 in 7:20. I was a little surprised to see I was able to manage that time on this terrain, so I celebrated it as a small victory and kept pushing. Finally, after no less than 8 hairpin turns, we were done with running through the first vineyard and had a brief straightaway to recover on. I tried to soak it in and took a moment to assess where the nearest women were. The first woman I had passed was a ways back, but a different girl seemed fairly close, about one length of the vineyard aisle back. I would have to hold it together if I wanted to win the race outright, which by this point was the new goal.

I hit mile 2 in 7:20. Hot dang, only another .7 to go! Or so I thought. We entered the second vineyard and started running through the aisles with the sharp turns again. Ugh. I was so ready to be done with all the zig-zagging. In this stretch, I was clearly able to see where the second place woman was and the fourth place guy behind me. While this should have been a positive, I felt like it just heightened my anxiety about getting passed in the late stages of the race to know exactly where they were.

I was working pretty hard by this point – harder than I had really wanted to run, but I HAD to hold onto first. My watch hit mile 3 in 7:35. Wait, what? We were still running down the aisles of the vineyard, not near the finish yet and it was clear the course was NOT 2.7 miles, but actually over 3!

Wine Run 2018I had a moment of grumpiness, but it was relieved by finally finishing with the loops through the second vineyard. All that was left was a stretch of straightaway through a grassy field, onto a dirt road and into the finish. Without all the hairpin turns, I was able to pick up the pace again, running 7:06 pace for the last .37 of a mile, nearly catching the second place guy. As I came around the final turn up to the finish, I was surprised to see the race organizers pull out a finish tape – which I got to break!! It was such an exciting moment for me, never having won a race before!

(There were race photographers there so I am hopeful that a good picture was taken but as of this writing, no race photos have been published yet. I’ll update this post to include some if they ever go up!)

The first and second place guys congratulated me, and we all stood around catching our breath and chugging some water. Not too long later, my friend finished and we celebrated by grabbing our wine glasses and bee-lining it to the sampling.

Wine Run 2018It was such a beautiful day for a run and some wine. ๐Ÿ™‚

My prize!

Wine Run 2018Overall, this race was a ton of fun and I’m not just saying that because I did well! Even with the troubles with bib pick-up, the run and post-race party more than made up for it. And I am SO excited to now be able to say that I have WON a race! Now please excuse me – I’m going to go have a glass of my wine. ๐Ÿ™‚


Harpoon 5 Miler Race Recap

Hello hello!

I am always so slow to post these, but I figured it was finally time to share my recap of the Harpoon 5-Miler that I ran last week.

Harpoon is a hugely popular race in the Boston area, and I’ve always heard it spoken about with the kind of reverence typically reserved for races like the Boston Marathon. In the past, it had a lottery system to get in and I was never alert enough to actually throw my name in. But this year, registration was on a first-come, first-serve basis and thanks to some friendly reminders from folks in my running groups, I was actually able to sign up! And good thing I did right away because it sold out in 30 minutes.

I haven’t been doing any crazy speed workouts since Hyannis, but I’ve been steadily base-building and getting more serious about focusing on my strength and core routine so I knew I was in pretty decent shape. After the 5k PR at Run for the Troops, I was pretty sure I’d be able to run fast, especially on such a flat course. My coach suggested taping my watch for this race – something I’ve never done before! I was excited by the idea. I could just go out and run hard and see what kind of time I could throw down with zero pressure.

The morning of the race, my friend and I parked in the North End and then jogged over to the Seaport, about 2 miles. It was cloudy but muggy and we were both sweating and happy to peel off our longsleeve shirts once we got there. We had a little time to walk around and check my bag and then it was time to make the way to the start!

Because the race is so big, I was having lots of anxiety about getting boxed in during the early miles. I was probably a little too worried about this honestly. But because I was being neurotic, I made sure I got up towards the front, amongst a LOT of very speedy runners (like former collegiate D1 runner types). Haha, I was a little out of my league, but I just kept telling myself that I was gonna go out “hard but comfortable”.

Well, the gun sounded and off we went! As I mentioned earlier, my watch was taped so I didn’t know exactly how fast I was running, but I knew I was pushing it. I kept telling myself to be careful; that I had 5 miles to go, but I felt good(ish). There were so many fast runners around me and I kind of let myself get pulled along with the tide.

The first mile was fast, but ok. I told myself to ‘lock in’ to the pace and I think I managed to do just that pretty well. I hadn’t really thought about it, but of course being in the shipping district of the seaport – there weren’t really any spectators. I was also running without music so it was almost eerily quiet.

Just after mile 2.5, the course looped back on itself and I was able to see all the other runners. At this point, I was entering the pain cave so I was honestly pretty oblivious to seeing anyone I knew. I was also trying really hard to keep pushing – it can be so easy in the middle miles of a 5k or 5-miler to become complacent and ‘reserve’ energy and I was trying to avoid doing that.

By mile 4, I was in rough shape. My watch was still beeping at mile splits, but I was so out of it, I had lost track of what mile I was on and thought I was finishing when I really still had a mile to go. That was a bit of a slap in the face. I could feel my pace slipping and I was cursing myself for going out so hard in the first mile. I also swore to myself I would never race another 5-miler as long as I lived.

I got passed by a lot of people in the last mile. I hate that. I love negative splitting and finishing strong. I tried to be mentally tough and I would say I held up for a long time, but the last mile was pretty dark. When I crossed the finish line, I sat down immediately against the fence with the help of a nice volunteer who was clearly a little concerned about me.

I was having a lot of difficulty figuring out my watch for some reason (seriously, I was out of it!) but I finally figured out my official time was 34:59, 7:00 average pace. 1 second faster per mile than on the 5k I ran in April. ๐Ÿ™‚ I had taken the first mile out sub-7 and while I held on pretty good for 4 miles, I did fade badly by the end. And I can honestly say that in all my years of running, this was the closest I ever came to puking at the end of a race (I didn’t, but it truly was a close call). Not sure I should admit that on the blog, but I really am proud of how far I’ve come in being able to endure hard efforts for extended periods of time and that almost-puking sensation felt symbolic of my newfound grit.

Once I had recovered a bit, I looped back up with my friends and was able to take advantage of my drink tickets, grabbing a cider, which tasted pretty awesome by this point. The finish area filled up quickly as runners came in and the place took on a festive, party vibe. I was able to relax and soak in the accomplishment of what I had done.

Harpoon 5 Miler 2018 Recap

Initially, I was kind of beating myself up for going out so fast, but I had a good conversation with my coach about it. As she pointed out, rarely does anyone execute a perfectly negative split race with a taped watch. That’s not the point of it. You’re supposed to just throw down and see where the chips land. I never would have guessed I’d be able to average 7 flat over 5 miles. If I had run with my watch untaped, I probably would have aimed to be around 7:10/mile and I never would have discovered what I was capable of.

Harpoon 5 Miler Recap

So overall, I’d say Harpoon was a tremendous success and I hope to continue to run it in future years!