Baystate Marathon Recap!!

Marathon #3 is in the books and boy, this was a good one. I’m still finding it hard to put into the words the excitement and giddiness I feel over this race, but I know I owe you all a race recap so I’ll give it a shot.🙂

2016 Baystate Marathon Race Recap

I went into this race a little bit nervous after what happened in Delaware – I finished but ended up going to the hospital with heat stroke. Not an enjoyable way to wrap up 26.2 miles.

Delaware Marathon Race Recap

Back when my mom convinced me to sign up for Baystate, I was excited by the idea of running a marathon in very cool temps (we had frozen our butts at this race in 2015). So I started getting apprehensive when the forecasted temps for Sunday crept up from the low 60’s to a high of 67. There’s nothing you can do about the weather though, so I just promised my parents (multiple times) that I would not run myself into the ground on this race.

I also went into this race with the goal of running relatively consistent splits. I had gone back and checked my training log to see what I had done in Delaware and saw that my mile splits were ALL over the place in that race. Granted, it was a little hilly, but in hindsight, I think I was a little too aggressive in my goal pace for that race. My training for Baystate had been compressed since I signed up late, so I backed off a little on the pace and decided to aim for splits between 8:45 and 8:55/mile. I did not want to fall apart at Mile 20 the way I had before. I figured I would take it a little easier the first 3 miles to let myself warm up as well.

On Sunday morning, my mom and I headed out bright and early to make the short drive to Lowell. My mom had to back out of the half marathon because of ongoing injury problems, but I was SO thankful to have her there with me before the start to keep me company and help keep the nerves at bay. We had no issues getting in and parking. As always, the Greater Lowell Road Runners had things running like clockwork!

We hung out inside the Tsongas arena for a while (which meant I got to use real bathrooms – score) and then before I knew it, it was time to head outside and line up in the corrals. I lined up between the 9 and 10:00/mile pace signs. I knew everyone was going to be excited and running fast, but I wanted to make sure I stuck with my plan. I saw the 4 hr pace group was a bit ahead of me. The National Anthem played and we were off!

I felt good once we started running. The nerves were mostly gone and I was just excited that the race was finally happening (no more 20-mile long runs for a while!!) I clocked my first mile in 9:18 – which also happened to be my slowest split the entire race! Mile 2 was a bit faster in 8:56 and Mile 3 was a 9:01 – very close to my plan. Once the first 3 miles were over, I worked on slowly bringing my pace down to goal pace.

By Mile 6, I had caught up to the 4 hour pace group. They were a huge pack at this point. Part of me was tempted to stick with them for longer, but they were running a very consistent 9:00/mile pace and I knew I could push faster than that. Plus, I knew I wanted to beat my previous 3:57 and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to make up enough time if I stuck with them for too long. So with a little maneuvering, I made my way past and just prayed that I wouldn’t see them passing me later in the course.

Going into Mile 7, we hit some AWESOME water stations. Local high schools were volunteering and had gotten so into it! Some had gone with an 80’s workout theme, others were decked out in pretty intense Star Wars costumes – it was amazing!

From Miles 7-11, I focused on making my way to the bridge where the half marathon and marathon courses intersect. The half marathoners are looping back towards the finish at that point and the marathoners are going out for another loop. I remembered it being a really high energy area the year before with tons of spectators and I was excited to get that boost again. Plus, my mom had planned on heading to this spot to watch.🙂

As expected, it was an awesome spot with tons of spectators with funny signs. I reached the other side of the bridge and saw my mom! Look, I’m actually smiling while running a marathon (didn’t think that was possible)! She was a fantastic course photographer and managed to take a bunch of great photos!

Baystate Marathon 2016 Race RecapI’m actually smiling!

Baystate Marathon 2016And off I go to run another 14 miles.

After crossing the bridge, I made the turn to make my second loop. I knew this was when things would potentially get tough. I checked in on my breathing and effort levels and felt shockingly good. I thought about the bit of advice my mom had gleaned from Bart Yasso in the most recent Runners World podcast (that she kept reiterating to me in an effort to keep me from the Fly and Die method) – It should feel so easy that you feel like you could run forever. My pace was hovering around 8:50/mile and shockingly – I did feel like I could run forever. I hit the halfway mark in 1:57. On track for a sub-4 hour finish, but I knew that would be contingent on staying strong even through the last 6 miles (where I really fell apart in my last marathon).

Around Mile 15, I actually started speeding up a bit. My pace dropped down to around 8:46 and stayed there through Mile 19, where I hit an 8:40! I think I was excited to get to Mile 20. I wanted to find “the wall” and kick it’s a$$. Throughout these miles, I also found myself checking in on my form. As marathons progress, runners have a tendency to stoop forward and tighten up as things get tough. I made sure to keep my shoulders back, arms swinging straight instead of across the body, and stay relaxed. By this point, I was passing a decent number of runners. I’ve been that runner before – the one who has gone out too fast only to be passed by someone who looks incredibly strong when you’re thinking you can hardly go another step. Boy did it feel good to be feeling so strong.

My mom called me just before I hit Mile 20. I had called her last year during this race and she had always said it was a great boost for the final miles of the race. This was technically her second time calling me during the race. She had called me around Mile 5 because she was tracking me with the online timing software, which was apparently HORRIBLY inaccurate as it was telling her I was running an 8:26/mile pace, so she had called me to tell me to slow down. Lol, I was so confused! Not a single one of my miles had been at that pace! This call was a better one though and she told me to just stay strong through the finish. We chatted for probably a minute before saying our goodbyes.

Shortly thereafter, I hit Mile 20. I checked in on my effort levels again. Did I have another 6.2 miles left in me? I felt like I did. I knew at least, I didn’t need to walk. Mile 20 I clocked an 8:48, followed by a 8:52, 8:52 and 8:54 for Mile 23. I will admit that around this point, things were starting to get uncomfortable. Around Mile 21, it became clear to me that I was going to lose the same toenail that I had lost in Delaware (that wasn’t even fully grown in yet). I could also feel a couple blisters despite the fact that I had applied Body Glide to my toes.

The last 3.2 miles were easily the most difficult miles of this race for me. Despite knowing I only had a 5k to go, my stomach was beginning to feel slightly queasy (though nowhere near as bad as Delaware, which I now think may have had something to do with the Gatorade I drank at the water stops). This was also probably the least attractive part of the course. Most of it was along a river with beautiful views of the foliage. The final stretch is along a highway in full sun. This was where I finally had to dig deep. Mile 23- 8:54, Mile 24 – 8:49, Mile 25- 8:52. At Mile 25, I checked my watch and knew I had a PR. Even if I ran a 10-minute mile, I would still be finishing in sub-3:57. This was a relief, but I also told myself I couldn’t relax too much – I wanted to finish strong with as big a PR as I could. Just before Mile 26, I was back at the Tsongas Arena where the course began. You make a sharp turn and run down this road, lined with spectators with an announcer reading off the names of the runners as they hit Mile 26 and head around into the final .2 of the course. I knew this wasn’t the finish, but there was a part of me that was confused about how close (or far) I was from the finish. What can I say, it’s hard to think straight after running 26 miles.😉

Baystate Marathon 2016

The course makes a sharp left turn and then there it was – the finish!! I actually had enough left where I was able to kick in an 8:15/mile pace for the finish and crossed the line, looking and feeling strong. Official chip time – 3:53!! That works out to an average pace of 8:51/mile.

Baystate Marathon Race ReviewCruising into the finish feeling strong!

I am so pleased with that time. I feel that I can confidently say I ran the race I was trained for. I ran smart, I never walked (a first for me in a marathon!), and I finished feeling strong. My splits were very consistently in my goal range of 8:45 – 8:55/mile, with my very first mile being my slowest. I also managed a negative split! I ran my first half in 1:57 and second half in 1:56. I’ve heard it’s incredibly hard to negative split a marathon and I am stoked that I managed it on my third attempt at the distance. This was the race I so desperately needed to convince me that marathons aren’t necessarily god-awful. I’m sad that my mom wasn’t able to cross the finish line as well, but I loved having her there serving as spectator, coach, and my own personal race photographer!

Baystate Marathon 2016 | 2 Generations Running

I have a thousand more thoughts and feelings to share about Baystate, but this post has already turned into a marathon in and of itself, so I will hold off and share those in a few more posts. For now, time to let my legs rest up and my toenails heal. Again.🙂

Also, because it’s a funny picture… I looked strong crossing the finish. Here’s what I looked like approximately 15 minutes later –

Baystate MarathonStretching, cramping and rolling around on the ground like a baby. Marathons will do that to ya.😉



1 Week To Go!!

Happy Monday!

So here we are, 6 days away from Baystate andddd… I have a cold.😦 I started feeling a little stuffy at the end of last week and much to my dismay, it has spiraled into a full-blown cold – sore throat, stuffy nose, the whole works.

My last long run on Sunday was supposed to be an easy peasy 12 miles, but after a horrible night’s sleep and waking up to pouring rain, I finally admitted it probably wasn’t going to happen. I opted for an hour walk on the treadmill at the gym instead and spent the rest of the day parked on the couch drinking tea. Not exactly a confidence booster for next weekend.

So needless to say, I’m a little bit nervous. Marathons are sooooo hard and I really really don’t want to run 26.2 miles not being able to breathe through my nose. Ugh.

Can't BreatheI hear ya, Keira Knightley.

On the bright side, it’s looking like the weather should be pretty good on Sunday – partly cloudy with a high of 63. I would prefer a few degrees cooler, but I should be done well before temps get into the 60s at least.

Other final marathon preparations have included putting together a killer playlist and getting my nails done (on the agenda for this week!). Though I don’t think I will be able to top Delaware’s manicure –

Delaware Marathon Nails | 2 Generations RunningThis week, I’ll be taking it super easy (a few short runs, no Mystryde classes) and trying to fight off this cold. Wish me luck!

Do you have any special routines for big races?

Why Running Isn’t Boring

Hey friends, happy Friday!

So as I’ve mentioned this before, but I work with a lot of very active, health-conscious folks. They’re into hiking, rock-climbing, boot camp, you name it! Most of them like to run, but for the most part, they aren’t into distance running.

Why Running Isn't Boring | 2 Generations Running

The expressions I get when I tell them I’ve gone and signed up for another half or full marathon are priceless.

Eye Roll | 2 Generations Running“Ugh, why would you do that to yourself? It’s so masochistic” 

“That sounds so boring

Boring is actually the word I get a lot. Maybe that’s a function of being in the OCR industry – a lot of OCR athletes prefer obstacle course racing because they see the obstacles as breaking up the monotony of a run. And I get where they’re coming from. Just plain old running by yourself with nothing but your thoughts for hours on end? It sounds boring. But it’s not – not if you’re doing it right.

I think what has really hooked me on running is the goal to be constantly improving on my last race. And once you have that goal that you’re fixated on and training towards, there are suddenly so many variables, so many schools of thought, and so many training plans, that how can you be bored? It’s this big experiment, and you’re both scientist and lab rat. Your variables include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Nutrition (both your pre-run breakfast as well as your overall nutrition)
  • Distance
    • Training for a 5k looks very different than training for a marathon, but both can be incredibly challenging depending on your goals.
  • Training Plan (custom, Hansons, Hal Higdon, Runners World, etc…)
    • Once you have your training plan, there’s even more variables, like speedwork, hills, long runs, and tempo runs. Hopefully, a good training plan will give you direction on how to control these things.
    • Having a coach – another variable, but also a source of control over the variables of the training runs.
  • Shoes
    • Minimalist or heavy cushioning or somewhere in between?
  • Stretching
  • Foam-rolling
  • Gear! For example, there are a THOUSAND different types of GPS watches as well as many different types of compression socks/sleeves. Both types of products are designed to be used to make better runners.
  • Fuel (like GU or Honeystingers)
  • Life. Because like it or not, it sometimes gets in the way.😉

Maybe I was a crazed scientist in another life, but a big part of me needs to keep playing with these variables until I reach my peak performance. And with this many variables, I could be experimenting for a long time. But that’s part of the thrill for me – I’m not in this for quick results, just steady improvement, however incremental that may be. It’s this mindset that has led me from a 2:12 half marathon (4 years ago) to a 1:45 half marathon and from a 4:36 marathon to a 3:57 – and I know there is SO much more I can do to get faster as long as I continue to run.

Runners World Classic Review 2016(Happy days when you score an age group win and a new pint glass!)

And if I get “bored” with marathons and half marathons, well then maybe I’ll start training for a crazy fast 5k.🙂 That is actually what I am hoping to do once I’ve adequately recovered from Baystate in 2 weeks. See, it’s kind of hard to get bored when there are so many races to run and PRs to set!

So that’s my little rant about why running isn’t boring – I’ll get off my soapbox now.🙂

Have you been told running is boring before?

Staying Fresh with 2Toms

Disclaimer: I received a free sample of 2Toms Sports Detergent and Stink-Free Shoe and Gear Spray for review as part of being a BibRave Pro.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out to review find and write race reviews! Thank you!🙂

Hey there!

Hope everyone’s week is off to a good start so far! I took a rest day on Monday to recover from Sunday’s 15-miler and then hit up a Mystryde class this Tuesday. I think it will probably be the last one I will attend before the marathon because they can be pretty challenging and I want to go into Baystate feeling fresh and ready to run.

Speaking of fresh… let’s talk about my sneakers for a second. Here’s what they looked like when they were bright and shiny and new –

Just One Run 5k RecapAaaaand now, a few hundred miles later (nope, not an exaggeration)-

FellsfestYeah, not so fresh anymore sadly…

2Toms Sports Detergent Spray Review

My sneakers (and all of my running gear) gets a lot of use. That’s why I was excited to try 2Toms Stink-Free Sports Detergent and Spray through my Bibrave pro ambassadorship!

2Toms Stink Free Sports Detergent and Spray ReviewThe primary difference between 2Toms Sports Detergent and other basic laundry soaps is that it’s intended to remove all the gross smells – not just mask them the way other detergents do. I only had a small sample of the detergent good for 1 load of laundry, so I can’t really speak to the soap’s long-term capabilities. I will say that my clothes seemed fresh and clean after that 1 load at least!

I also received a nice big bottle of the Stink-Free Spray to try as well. This product really surprised me! I expected it to have some sort of perfumey smell, but it was very neutral. I’ve been spraying it in my sneakers for the past couple weeks after getting back from my runs, and I’ve been really impressed with how well it works. I don’t exactly have a stinky feet problem, but I wouldn’t say my sneakers normally smell “fresh” either. After a few uses, I went to smell my sneakers – and I couldn’t smell anything! Not exactly new shoe smell, but wayyyy better than what you would expect for the amount of sweat and dirt caked into those things!

I could see this spray being particularly useful on other smelly sports gear too. When I played soccer in high school, my shin guards were always pretty nasty smelling. If you’ve got any soccer, hockey, or football gear you’re currently hiding because of the stench, I would definitely recommend giving this spray a try. One word of caution – this spray is not intended for helmets or any type of equipment that goes on your head, as the chemicals could drip down into your eyes with sweat. Sadly, you’ve got to keep this away from your bike helmet and running hats.

Because the folks at 2Toms are so generous, I have a coupon code for you to try 2Toms products for yourself! Use code 2Toms20 for 20% off, now through 12/31!

Do you follow any special rituals/routines to keep your exercise gear smelling nice and in good condition? Does anyone get as depressed as I do when your sneakers start to get dirty (although I suppose that’s part of the fun of getting a new pair!)?


2 Weeks To Go!

Well here we are!
It is officially October which means that Baystate is 2 weeks away. Holy crap.

Marathon Training | 2 Generations RunningI am definitely feeling a little anxiety over this marathon. You would think they would get easier the more you do, but I feel like I also finally understand just how painful marathons are. And maybe Delaware is still a little too fresh in my mind.

I’m also sad because for the first time in my running history, I’ll be running the full 26.2 miles without the comfort of knowing my mom is out there suffering through those same miles on the same course (first in Rochester NY during my senior year of college and then most recently in Delaware). For the most part, we haven’t run these marathons together, but there was still something reassuring about being in it together. More than anything, I’m sad for my mom that she is struggling through this awful injury and is going to have to DNS (Did Not Start) a race for the first time ever.😦

But on the bright side, it will be WONDERFUL having someone to cheer for me when I cross that finish line in 2 weeks. Here’s a few other things that would make crossing the finish line of Marathon #3 even better:

1. I’m PRAYING for cool to even slightly cold temps. If we get hit with an unseasonably warm day, I’m gonna be pissed and will probably have to throw all my time goals out the window to avoid a repeat of DE. No more heat stroke for me.

2. Here’s to hoping my stomach doesn’t freak out at mile 20 again. I’ve been experimenting with Huma gels this training cycle, and they seem to be working pretty well for me. I’m hoping that by mixing these with my regular GU gels, it’ll keep my stomach under control (I’ve read that mixing up your gels can help because they all use different types of sweeteners).
Huma Gel3. I’m really, REALLY hoping I don’t lose any toenails. My right big toe has grown back just about 85% and so help me god if I lose it again…

4. I hope to finish feeling happy (even if I’m in pain). I do think I have a tendency to lose my mental toughness sometimes when things get hard, and I just want to be able to look back on this marathon and know I gave it everything I had.

5. I’m hoping for a fresh new PR in the marathon. Then I can feel content to take a break from running fulls for a while.🙂

Throwback photo to finishing Marathon #1. Fun fact, I didn’t even have a GPS watch when I ran this race! I just used a regular stop watch to try to keep an eye on my overall time.

Rochester Marathon

Have a great week!

Hobbled by Hobble Creek

I am off in Virginia this weekend! Since I’m on the road, I’m sharing some updates from my mom today! Enjoy🙂

Unfortunately, I have to say the Hobble Creek Half  lived up to its name! After 5 miles of pounding downhills,  I pretty much walked the rest of the course, feeling pretty down and somewhat crippled. (At mile 12, I did perk up enough to take this picture of this really nice horse and the scenery to try to take my mind off my aching shins and hamstring.)

2 Generations Running

img_5334But basically, since this race, my training (even with my innovative 28-day plan) has just not been smooth.

Despite everything, I did manage the first of my 20-mile long runs this Monday, which went surprisingly well. At first I was heartened by this. Then, during a yoga class that night, I finally began to take in the long view. By the morning, wisdom and common sense had won out and I changed my Baystate Registration from the Full to the Half Marathon. Maybe the yoga relaxed me enough to quiet my ego and let the rational person in me speak up. Either way, I’ve finally made my decision and made my peace with it.

It might seem odd that having the 20-miler go well would help me make my decision to switch, but it was the fact that for the first time in a long time, that run felt almost normal.   And the idea that I was just on the edge of getting that feeling  back – and the thought that if I was pushing just a bit too hard, a bit too soon, I would lose it again –  that made me switch.

It was finally time to admit that my earlier plan of running an enjoyable marathon on a familiar course, in nice fall weather had gone out the window. Now, I could only hope to hold on and not make any lingering injury worse.

Baystate Marathon 2015(Photo from last year’s Baystate where I ran the full and Nora ran the half).

And before the race, there would be another 5 weeks of anxiety filled training runs, stressing over every stretching session, and worrying about icing and taking (or not taking)  anti-inflammatories.

Or, I could stop all this worrying, ease back into my normal runs again, and if necessary  rest as much as I wanted in these last few weeks going into the half at Baystate  (Not looking to PR at this one!). And that just seemed more sensible. I also reminded myself that  my ultimate goal is to be running in my eighties and that means I need to practice  accepting disappointment, and recognizing when I have to tell my ego to take a hike. So I’ll be going into these last few weeks trying some new physical therapy, resting and walking, and hopefully that will get me back on track.

I’m disappointed, especially since I convinced Nora to sign up for the full – but at the same time, I know I’ve made the right decision.   And so this year, after running what I hope will be a pleasurable half -marathon, I will wander around Lowell, get two really great coffees and then head back to the finish line – to wait for my running partner!  And that will be a perfect day!🙂

Mystryde Boston: A Review

Hey friends, I’m back!

I mentioned before that I’ve been incorporating some new routines into my training for Baystate this time around, and one of those changes has been the Mystryde treadmill classes I’ve been attending. I figure some of you are probably a little curious about how a treadmill class works, so I figured I would share a review and some of the details of why I think these classes are so great.

Mystryde is Boston’s first treadmill studio and is located in the North End of Boston, about a 5 minute walk from the Haymarket station on the Orange line. For where I live and work, this makes it very convenient to get to, plus I love having an excuse now to walk through the North End because it’s probably the cutest part of Boston with all its Italian cafes and restaurants. The trick is to avoid the temptation to grab a cannoli or some gelato after one of the classes!

The studio itself is pretty small, and you could almost miss it, if not for the funny/motivational sandwich board they keep out in front.

img_1622Image courtesy of Mystryde’s Instagram page

Inside, there’s a waiting area where they sell some pretty cute merchandise with the Mystryde running man logo so you can represent your favorite treadmill studio on all your runs.

Ok, onto the best part now – the classes! There are 3 different ones which range from 45 minutes to an hour: Endurance, Stryde, and Power Stryde. Endurance focuses on building strength over longer intervals, and usually includes some pretty tough hill segments (I’m talking about 12% incline tough… Yikes!). According to one of the instructors I asked, Endurance most closely resembles a tempo run, while Stryde is a little bit more like a track workout, with more short, fast intervals. Power Stryde is basically boot camp meets running intervals. It is TOUGH! I am definitely one of those runners who tends to neglect strength work, so I love that Mystryde offers classes that combine the two. In the Power Stryde class I attended, everyone was partnered up so that while one person was running their intervals on the treadmill, the other was doing exercises on the floor. These included squats, push-ups, plank get-ups, crunches, and a bunch of other exhausting moves. I was a quivering puddle of sweat after this class, but I didn’t hate it.🙂 The setting also helps keep you going – they crank up the tunes and turn the lights down, so it feels like a party, albeit a sweaty, exhausting one!

Mystryde Boston | 2 Generations RunningDuring the classes, the instructors tell you what level incline and speed to take your treadmill up to for each interval. Every treadmill comes with a pace card that explains what speed setting you should use if you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced. This makes it really easy for everyone to get in an awesome workout, according to their own specific experience level – without anyone being left in the dust, which can happen easily during a workout done on a track. So far, I’ve been using the intermediate paces, but hopefully I’ll graduate to advanced some day!😉

The instructors here are also totally friendly. I feel like some professionals in the fitness studio world can be a little full of themselves and not very approachable, but I’ve never felt that way at Mystryde. They’re always going to push you to give a workout your best, but they do it in a way that’s not intimidating. Just this past week, they also started offering group runs on Wednesday evenings at 6:30. I went, and we did a gorgeous 4-mile loop that came with just about the prettiest sunset I’ve ever seen.

Boston Mystryde Review

Mystryde Boston ReviewCan you even believe that? I’m so glad I went for the run with these ladies because that was one pretty epic view!

In terms of cost, the classes are a little expensive, but not any more so than what you’d typically expect to pay for studio fitness classes in a city. They offer a bunch of different packages to suit everyone’s individual goals and budget. They also tend to do a decent number of promotions – like donate a pair of used sneakers and get 15% off.

Overall, I really love these classes, and I know I’m going to be an even bigger fan come the winter and that first snowfall. If you’re a runner in the Boston area, I highly recommend checking them out! We’ll see what happens on October 16th, but I have a strong feeling attending these classes on a weekly basis is going to be a BIG help with my marathon goals.

Treadmills – yay or nay? Are you a fan of fitness studio classes? What running goals are you currently working towards?