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 Meb 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!” 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.” 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. 🙂 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!

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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. 🙂

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. 🙂


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. 🙂 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!


From 3:53 –> 3:32

Hello hello!

I am back again! See – I told you I’d come back to the blog. 🙂

After the amazing success of Hyannis, I wanted to take a moment to look back at my progression and what I did differently with this marathon training cycle that allowed me to take a full 21 freaking minutes off my previous time.

Marathon Training**Disclaimer – this is not a post that’s intended to show how you too can take 20 minutes off your marathon time and qualify for Boston in one easy, breezy training cycle. Frankly, this post is so long because there is SO much that went into this PR and I don’t want to gloss over all the details.**

2016 Baystate MarathonSo, let’s go back to the Baystate Marathon for a sec. I ran this race in October of 2016. I was still uncoached at the time and the goal going in was pretty much to just have a better experience than I’d had at the Delaware Marathon which I had run that spring (finished, but had heat stroke and had to be transported by ambulance to the ER).

Rewinding even further- my initial goal training for Delaware was to try to qualify for Boston. After a few runs shooting for that 8 minute pace, I realized that might not be the best idea… So I backed off and focused on sub-4.

I decided to run Baystate pretty late in the game and didn’t officially start training until AUGUST (this seems insane to me now.) I also traveled for work a decent amount that month so I really didn’t do much training until the second to last week in August. I did have a base still built up from Delaware but even so… this is not ideal training.

Week of Aug 22nd – 41.5 miles

Week of Aug 29 – 26 miles

Week of Sept 5 – 50 miles (1 20 mile long run)

Week of Sept 12 – 43 miles (1 20 mile long run)

Week of Sept 19 – 9 miles (Traveling for work, but still – YIKES!)

Week of Sept 26 – 35 miles

Week of Oct 3 – 14 miles

Race Week – 8 miles + 26.2!

Looking back at this makes me cringe. My mileage was ALL OVER the place! Where was the steady build? How did I not get injured? I do remember the 20-milers in this training cycle taking a lot out of me. Like – spend the whole rest of the day on the couch doing nothing type tired.

I was trying to incorporate some marathon paced miles during my runs, but looking at my training notes, it looks like my long runs usually only had 5-8 miles at goal pace. For a harder mid-week effort, I was taking classes at Mystryde (a local treadmill studio). While those classes were good and a nice way to push myself, they were a little limited by time constraints (hour long class usually) and not very specific to my goals. I was also consistently taking 2 if not more rest days per week.

Shortly after Baystate, I decided to hire a coach. It was something I thought about for a long time and I finally decided that I loved running enough and wanted to invest in improving myself. I still wanted to qualify for Boston and I had a hunch that I was gonna need a little help. Somehow I came across  Mary through the interwebs and I’m so glad I did.

After chatting with her about my goals, we agreed that I would skip a spring marathon and use the spring to target a PR in the half marathon. The thought being that if I could build some speed in the half, my goal marathon pace would start to feel a lot more comfortable.

**I think this decision was HUGE. If I had tried to jump into another marathon in the spring of 2017, I would not have taken 21 minutes off my previous PR. It can suck to wait when you’ve got a goal you want to accomplish so badly but patience in running is critical.**

So I ran a couple half marathons in the spring. I didn’t really have great races, but the training was there. I was 100% getting faster. I was running more miles more consistently and beginning to dream about my fall marathon.

Philly Half Marathon

We all know what happened with Philly. IT DIDN’T HAPPEN. It sucked. I love the half, but I was pretty annoyed to be running ANOTHER HALF MARATHON. But again, this was a situation where patience paid off. My hamstring strain would not have allowed me to put together the proper training to go after my goal, so once again… I pushed back my goal race to February.

So now that you have the facts, here is what the build for Hyannis actually looked like –

October – very light on miles, nursing my hamstring (and my pride). 71.7 miles for the whole month.

November – again, very light on miles. While I felt great running the half at Philly, I felt like I restrained my hamstring during a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving. 100.9 miles for the month.

December – Things finally started to pick up. 128 miles for the month.

Week of Dec 11 – 30.3 miles

Week of Dec 18 – 25 miles

Week of Dec 25 – 39.3 miles

January – Finally, a solid month. I think I finally stopped being afraid that I was going to tear my hamstring during my speed workouts. 181 miles for the month.

Week of Jan 1 – 36.7 miles

Week of Jan 8 – 41.9 miles

Week of Jan 15 – 45 miles

Week of Jan 22 – 46 miles

Week of Jan 29 – 49 miles (1 20 mile long run)

Week of Feb 5 – 52 miles (1 20 mile long run)

Week of Feb 12 – 30.8 miles

Week of Feb 19 – 14.4 miles + 26.2 mile race!

Hyannis Marathon 2018So as you can see, this was a much more consistent and logical build. Again, this build only contained 2 20 milers. But I was running so many more miles during the week that I felt so much stronger on these runs. I was also training with WAY more miles at marathon pace. For example, my last long run was a 3 mile warm-up, 5 miles @ 8:15/8:20, 5 miles of 1 min on/1 min off (the min on was probably around 7:40 and the off was 8:50-9:00 pace), 5 miles @ 7:45/7:50, 2 mile cool-down. So roughly, 15 miles of work right around that goal 8:00 pace.

For the first time in a marathon  cycle, I actually really enjoyed running these 18-20 milers. I know that sounds crazy. But all the intervals truly helped break up the time and as I started to have success hitting these paces, I really began to believe I could run a 3:32 marathon. It was exciting!

In terms of rest days, early in the training cycle I was taking 2 rest days per week but as the mileage progressed, this dropped to one rest day per week. And I was fine!! I used to think I ALWAYS needed a rest day after a hard effort. Working with a coach has allowed me to see that easy miles can also work for recovery.

2017 was a long year. But I knew it would eventually pay dividends in my race times and it finally did. Hyannis was an incredible experience (rain and all) and I would not change anything about it. I can’t wait to see what I can do in Chicago come October!


2018 Marathon Plans

So I haven’t even run the Hyannis Marathon yet and I’m already signed up for another 26.2. Oops!

I entered the lottery for the Chicago Marathon back in November and on December 12th, I found out I didn’t get in. Initially, I was really disappointed. For some reason, I’ve felt a pull to run Chicago more than any of the other Marathon Majors. Maybe it’s all because before my first marathon, I watched the movie Spirit of the Marathon which chronicled the stories of 6 marathoners preparing for Chicago. Needless to say, I was inspired. After watching, I vowed to myself that I would someday run Chicago.

After talking it through with a couple of my running friends (who also didn’t get in), I decided to look into running it for a charity. I had heard about Team PAWS before from listening to the Bibrave Podcast and thought it sounded awesome. After adopting Callie this summer, it felt even more perfect. The amount of joy, love, and laughs she has brought into my life since July is immeasurable. Being able to support an animal shelter that helps connect animals with loving homes in the Chicago area felt like the natural choice.

Team Paws Chicago

Team Paws ChicagoI’ve never run a marathon for a charity before but I’m excited about the opportunity to raise money for a great cause while doing something I love. My fundraising minimum is $1500 but I’m hopeful I can raise a little more than that.

If any of you are interested in helping me in my fundraising efforts this holiday season, this is the link to my fundraising page.  Leave me a comment if you donate and I’ll be sure to send you a funny cat or dog picture as a thank you! Lord knows, I have plenty of options. 🙂

So we have not even entered 2018 yet and I’m already signed up for 2 marathons! At least there will be a long break between February and October for my toenails to grow back. 🙂


Philly Half Marathon Race Recap

So this post is coming to you very late but I figured better late than never!

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about going to Philly after having to downgrade from the marathon to the half, but with train tickets booked and time requested off from work, I was determined to have a good time.

My mom and I traveled down by train on Friday afternoon. It was an easy and comfortable trip and once we got to Philadelphia, we took a cab right over to the expo. It was a little bigger than I expected but well organized and I was quickly able to grab my number and shirt. We didn’t spend too much time shopping around the expo since I wanted to limit the swag purchasing.

That evening, we checked into our Airbnb with some takeout hamburgers from Spot Gourmet Burgers. If you are ever in the Philly area, I highly recommend as this burger might have been the best burger I’ve ever eaten.

We had a very low key evening, watching some Netflix and going to bed early since the half marathon was on Saturday (the full was on Sunday).

Philly Half Marathon

Obligatory pre-race bathroom selfie

The next day I woke up early and Ubered down to the start which was only a mile and a half or so from our Airbnb. I had heard the security lines could get long for this race so I showed up an hour early. There were hardly any other runners there at this point! It was a pretty cold morning and I hadn’t brought any layers since my mom was was going to bring my bag at the finish so I didn’t love having to wait so long in the cold to get going. But, I suppose it’s better than running late.

Philly Half MarathonAt least I got an awesome view of the sunrise!

Philly Half Marathon15 minutes or so before the start, I headed into my corral. It was not crazy packed like the NYC Marathon gets which I was extremely grateful for. I was wearing my Heartbreaker (that is the name of my Boston run club) singlet and within five minutes of being in the corral, another Heartbreaker said hello! (if you’re reading this, hi Sarah!) After chatting for a few minutes, it sounded like we had similar pace goals in mind so we decided to run together for the first few miles.

Right at 7:30, we were off! The start of this race was really beautiful, right through downtown Philadelphia. A decent number of spectators lined the start area and it was great to have that support. I think I have done one too many small races because I get way too excited anytime I see people cheering while I am running a race. 🙂

I’m not sure why, but looking back at my splits for the race, the first six miles fluctuate between around 8:30/mile pace and low 8s. Truthfully, this was a little faster than I had really intended to go, but once I was running I felt great and decided to just roll with it.

At mile 6, I said goodbye to Sarah and made plans to meet up for a photo at the finish. Then I decided to push the pace a little more. This stretch had great support. There was cheering, signs, marching bands playing drums – it was an incredible atmosphere. I definitely got a little swept up in it all and ended up running a 7:43 for that mile.

From there, I backed off a little bit back to my marathon pace, right around 8:00/mile. There was a bit of a hill at Mile 9 but I felt strong and didn’t get intimidated by it. I hit Mile 9 in 8:05 and Mile 10 in 8:10. From there, I could tell I still had plenty of gas still in the tank so I decided it was go-time.

There’s nothing I love more than being able to pick it up and pass tons of people at the end of the race. I’ve had races where I’ve had injuries act up which have kept me slow and races where I’ve just died in the final miles and it’s given me such a deep appreciation for that feeling of strength at the end of the race because it doesn’t always happen.

I hit Mile 12 in 7:33. At this time, I started to get a stomach cramp which hardly ever happens for me, but it did force me to slow down a bit, running Mile 13 in 7:45. By my GPS watch, I ran a 1:46:57 with an 8:03/mile average pace.

Philly Half MarathonI was absolutely stoked about this. For one, this is only a couple minutes off my PR and I felt like I was running really easy in the beginning. Two, this is right where I need to be for my marathon pace in February.

February 25th is still a long ways away and I’ve learned not to overly fixate on a goal race because who the hell knows what will happen with injuries and whatnot, but I will say I’m cautiously excited. I know postponing my marathon was the right decision and it will be fun to see how it pays off.


Philly Week

Hey there!
This Friday, my mom and I will be hopping on a train bound for Philadelphia. While I could be disappointed that I won’t be running the marathon, I’m choosing to be excited about running the half. I’ve been slowly working my mileage up in the past couple weeks and have been having zero pain in my hamstring so I feel confident that my body will comfortably be able to handle 13.1 miles. Not at a crushing speed but definitely in the “fun run” range.

When I look back on 2017, it really has been the year of Taking It Seriously. This was my first year working with a coach and understandably, my big focus was on PRs. It was also the first year that I actually experienced some really rough races. In March, I went after my half marathon PR at the Half at the Hamptons. It was a freezing cold day, the course was hillier than expected and I faded badly in the final miles to finish in 1:45 (my old PR). I was pretty disappointed afterwards and couldn’t even really enjoy the post race party. For the first time ever really, I did not have a pleasant experience running a half marathon.

Half at the HamptonsI then rallied my strength and gave it a shot a couple months later at the “Fast Half”. While this one was slightly better, I still struggled in the last two miles and ended up just squeaking under my PR at 1:44. While I wasn’t thrilled, I decided to view it as a success. It was definitely not the flattest or fastest course I have run so who knows what I could have accomplished on a more PR-friendly course.

Fast Half Marathon Race RecapAnd then there was the RnR Montreal half. This truly should have been a blast. And it was for the first 7 or so miles. I was using it as a workout and I felt great, nailing my splits. And then my hamstring seized up and that was that. The second half of the course was decidedly painful and filled with anxious thoughts about Philly. Despite wonderful spectator support in the final miles, I couldn’t enjoy it. I felt beaten up and depressed by the end.

So… not a great year for me and the half marathon.

But something positive can still come out of not running the marathon in Philly – I will be running the half. And my only focus for the race is to run it feeling healthy and happy for the whole damn thing. I am going to smile and relax and enjoy running a race with zero pressure or expectations. I think that is what I need more than anything right now. And afterwards, I’ll get brunch with my mom and enjoy exploring Philadelphia in a way we wouldn’t have been able to do if I was running the marathon.

Another added bonus: I will be able to run a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving! (This would have been ill advised if I had been running a marathon only 7 days earlier).

So maybe it’s a good thing I won’t be going for a marathon PR. That can wait till February.

How has your fall training gone?