Spectating the Boston Marathon + An Announcement!

Well at this point we are one week removed from the Boston Marathon, but I am still slightly awestruck from the experience of watching the marathon this year. It’s interesting because at this point, marathons and races are nothing new to me. I’ve always said I love the excitement and joy of a race atmosphere.

Boston is on a whole different level.

Around 9:30 in the morning on Marathon Monday, I met up with my coach and a couple of her friends to head out to mile 18 to spectate and cheer on the other McKirdy Trained athletes participating in the race. Already at 9:30 in the morning, it was HOT – probably in the 60s and bright and sunny. Pretty nice for spectating but not at all good for running a marathon. We got off the subway close to Mile 16 in the race and were just in time to watch the elite women breeze by us.

Elite women You could tell they were working hard but they still looked FAST. The crowds lining both sides of the streets erupted in cheers every time one of these women passed.

Shortly thereafter came the elite men. We saw the lead pack with Galen Rupp and a bunch of others cruising right along. A minute or two behind them was Meb! We cheered for him like no other and I was so excited to get some good pictures. His stride looked so powerful, I was in awe.

Meb Boston Marathon 2017We continued on our way, walking to just before mile 19 on the course. I knew Boston was huge on spectators, but still, it was something to experience, seeing the course lined with spectators on both sides so far outside of downtown Boston. There was also a much more relaxed vibe out on this part of the course. There was still plenty of security but there weren’t security checkpoints at every corner, which made it way easier to get around. People had set up tents and/or picnics outside their homes, kids were running around, and the whole thing just felt like one big, epic block party (one that just happened to be bisected by a marathon).

As we continued on, we saw a McKirdy Trained athlete coming our way who we immediately started cheering for. She saw us and stumbled toward Mary, clearly not in good shape. Just as she reached us at the side of the road, she toppled over onto the ground. Mary and her friend immediately scooped her up, protecting her from being trampled by the steady flow of runners behind her. Someone ran over and gave us a water bottle which we gave to her, and then she insisted on continuing on her way, despite assurances that she could stop and get some help. It was honestly a little scary and really hit home how tough the conditions on the course were.

Boston Marathon spectatingFinally, we got to our prime viewing area just before Mile 19. By this point, the elites were passed and more of the ‘average’ runners were passing in a steady stream. I had so much fun cheering for all the runners and listening to the funny cheers and comments from the group standing near us. It was hilarious how many runners ended up striking up conversation with those guys as they ran past!

Last year, I had gotten caught up in the chaos of trying to find my way to the hotel my running club hosts an after-party at right by the finish. Crowds of people, security checkpoints, and general pandemonium had me so stressed out I was hardly able to enjoy the marathon. It was so different this year and so nice to actually be able to spectate and enjoy the race. I would highly recommend the stretch of Mile 16-18 to anyone looking to spectate along the Boston Marathon!

I had felt passionate about running Boston someday before this whole experience, but watching it this year really brought the feeling to life for me. More than ever, this race feels like the Olympics of running for the everyday runner. So… after all the excitement and inspiration, I figured it was finally time to cement my own plans for 2017. Namely, marathon #4 and my attempt to BQ once and for all…

Philadelphia Marathon 2017

Philly.

Bring on Marathon #4.


Boston Marathon Weekend 2017

Hello and happy Marathon Monday!

I hope you all had a great weekend. As expected, mine was packed with running. If I wasn’t actually running, I was hanging out with runners, listening to runners give inspirational talks, or shopping for running stuff at the expo. 🙂 It was a lot of fun.

Happy Dance I had Friday off from work so I slept in and went for a nice relaxing 45 minute run.

2 Generations RunningThis past week I felt so solid in my runs. Even my easy runs were on the ‘fast’ side of the easy spectrum. Despite some digestive issues Thursday evening during my workout (*Note to self: Don’t eat Chipotle for lunch when planning to run after work.), my paces were right there where I wanted them and I felt fast.

In the afternoon, I went to the expo for a little bit before hitting up a yoga for runners class. In some ways, I’ve been glad I’m not running on Monday since I was on my feet A LOT walking around the expo and jumping around to different presentations/seminars. It’s been a ton of fun, but not what you want when you’re about to run 26.2 miles.

After the yoga for runners class, I hung out at the Runners World Pop-Up store, to hear the presentation on how to run your best Boston. No, I’m not running it this year, but I definitely see this race in my future, so I figured it would be fun to get some tips. Ryan Hall was one of the speakers for this seminar (did you know he ran 2:04 at Boston in 2011?!?) He was SO funny and interesting to listen to. He joked that he likes to think of Boston as really only a half marathon since all the downhill sections are “free miles”. That got a good laugh. 🙂

On Saturday, I had the BAA 5k in the morning, which I had been REALLY excited for. While it was a cool race and I’m glad I did it, it was not quite what I expected. My plan had been to do 30 minutes easy as a warm-up before the race before using the race as a workout to do some 7:30 miles. Well, I guess I forgot that the race had 10,000 people in it. By the time I finished my 30 minute warm-up and got over to the corrals, they were already packed with people.

BAA 5kI jumped in where I could, but within the first mile, I realized there was not a shot in hell of me running a 7:30 mile. The streets were narrow and I was bobbing and weaving around walkers and slower runners. It was still cool getting to experience running part of the Boston Marathon course.BAA 5kCitgo sign!

So lesson learned. Don’t plan a workout for races where you know it’s going to be overcrowded. The shirt and medal were super nice though, so that was a nice little bonus.

BAA 5kAfter the race, I made my way back to the Runners World Pop-Up to take in a couple more seminars. First up was a discussion from the First Ladies of Running – this panel included Bobbi Gibb, Sarah Mae Berman, and several others.

Runners World Pop-Up

It was so amazing listening to them talk about getting started running races when it was still seen as improper for a lady to break a sweat (they also used to say a woman’s uterus would fall out if she ran too much. LOL.) Next up, was a presentation by Kathrine Switzer to commemorate the 50 year anniversary of her first running the Boston Marathon.

I have to say, I think I have a new running idol. (If you want to learn more about her story, I highly recommend listening to the Runners World podcast interview with Kathrine). She was so funny and just amazing to listen to. I was so inspired listening to her talk about how she went from a 4:20 marathon to a 2:51 through hard work and training (especially during a time when running was seen as such a bizarre hobby for a woman).

If I wasn’t excited to start marathon training  again soon, I sure am now!

Hope you had a great weekend and are ready to watch the marathon today!

 


Happy Monday everyone!

Can you believe the Boston Marathon is EXACTLY 1 WEEK AWAY?? No, I’m not running it, but I am looking forward to doing the BAA 5k on Saturday and spending many hours wandering around the expo. I’m also super psyched that I will finally get to meet my coach, Mary and a whole bunch of the other McKirdy Trained athletes who will be in town for the marathon.

How much running/marathon-related conversation is too much for a weekend?Exactly.

As I mentioned a couple posts ago, I’m diving right back into half marathon training to give the PR a shot in mid-May. I was pretty disappointed after the Half at the Hamptons, but things continue to improve.

I was listening to a podcast the other day (Lindsey Hein’s I’ll Have Another) and on it, she was interviewing Teal Burrell, an Olympic Trials qualifier in the marathon (if you’ve never checked out Teal’s blog before, I highly recommend it!). Teal’s story is pretty incredible – she went from running a 4 hour marathon to a 2:42 – so freaking fast. But what really struck me in her interview, was when she talked about the races that went wrong. She talked about putting in the paces and training and knowing she was capable of a sub-3 hour marathon, but then things wouldn’t go as planned on race day, and she’d come up short (and this happened multiple times). The marathon (and arguably half marathon too) are definitely races where every little thing has to line up just right in order to run to your best ability. The part that really hit home for me was when she talked about trying to remain confident in your running after missing your goal. The training is all there, the fitness is there, you just don’t have that stark proof of a race time to validate to yourself what you’re capable of. And of course, you have to have the courage to go back and keep trying again and again.

Yes, yes, yes.

I think it’s finally hitting me that while I didn’t run the time I wanted at the Half at the Hamptons, my fitness is still 1000 times improved since before I was working with my coach. Do I have a new PR yet? No, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a faster runner than when I began this whole process. My workout this past weekend wasn’t anything too crazy as we’re still building things back up, but the goal was a 2-mile warm-up followed by 3 x 1 mile at 8:01 pace with 60 second recoveries followed by a 2-mile cooldown.

Half Marathon TrainingPost run playtime w/ Brady.

I ended up running a 7:58, 7:48, and 7:44 for my goal pace miles and I felt solid. I know it’s not always a good idea to run faster than target paces, but in this case, my legs felt good. I could tell I was working, but it didn’t feel crazy fast like these paces used to so I decided to go with it. Like I said, this wasn’t one of the harder workouts, but it’s something I know I would have struggled with in 2016.

So my goal throughout April and into May is to continue to trust the process and to have faith in myself. Who knows what will happen on race day. It could be 80 degrees and humid. But I can’t control the weather, so no point worrying about it. For now, I’ll continue to focus on the workouts and getting comfortable being uncomfortable.

How was your weekend? Anyone else going to be in town for the Boston Marathon this week?


Run Fast Eat Slow Post #7: Giddy-Up Energy Bites

Happy Friday all!

Last weekend I was finally home and able to dive back into some recipe testing of Run Fast Eat Slow. I felt like it had been ages since I had whipped up one of Shalane and Elyse’s recipes (yeah, we’re on a first name basis at this point). Saturday was a gross day where it sleeted and snowed all day – perfect for staying indoors and cooking. 🙂

My parents had very generously gotten me a Cuisinart food processor for my birthday and I wanted to pick a recipe that would allow me to finally use it. The Giddy-Up Energy Bites (pg. 57) were a perfect fit, plus I had most of the ingredients already on hand.

I’m no stranger to the “energy ball” snack genre. I’ve always enjoyed messing around with dates, oats and various other mix-ins to create an easy tasty snack. I never would have thought to combine all the flavors contained in this recipe though! Toasted coconut, chocolate, coffee – it’s kind of a lot going on. Somehow it works though because these are AMAZING.

The preparation was super simple. I toasted my coconut, and while that was in the oven, I combined the dates, cacao powder, dried cranberries (the recipe technically calls for cherries but I made this substitution), chopped walnuts, almond butter, and coffee in my food processor.

giddy up energy bites

Then you just process it until it starts to come together! My “dough” seemed a little dry at first, so I added a tiny little bit of water and then it came together perfectly.

Giddy-Up Energy BitesI may have had a few sample bites. 😉

And the finished product-

Giddy-Up Energy BitesI was going to skip toasting the coconut at first out of laziness, but it’s definitely worth the added step. So yummy! I have been eating these all week as a pre-workout boost and boy are they good.

As a sidenote, I saw that Shalane is going to be in Boston for the marathon (though she isn’t running it anymore after coming down with an injury). I’m hoping to get my copy of Run Fast Eat Slow signed while she is in town! 🙂

Have a wonderful weekend! Hope the weather is Spring-y and warm wherever you are!


Getting Back into the Routine

Happy Monday and happy April!!

I don’t care that it snow/sleeted all Friday and Saturday in Boston. I can feel that Spring is coming and warmer weather too. This winter feels like it’s gone on FOREVER. New England may not have figured out that it’s Spring yet, but that’ll come. 😉

I mentioned briefly in my last post, but I recently got back from a week long work trip that really messed with my routine. I was staying in some pretty old hotels in the middle of nowhere (but right off the highway of course) so my running was SUPER limited. I managed to squeak in one easy 4.5 miler one day and did get to take in a nice view of the sunrise.

2 Generations RunningSince getting home, I’m sliding back into my structured training regimen again. I did some easy 45 minute runs this week and then a workout on Saturday.

Because of the slushy snow, I was forced to take my workout to the treadmill AGAIN. Even with running indoors, I still managed to soak my sneakers through on the 2-minute walk over to the gym. Nothing like starting a workout with water squishing around between your toes!

Face palm | 2 Generations Running

The workout was 2 mile warm-up, then 6 x 2 minutes at 7:30 with 1 minute recoveries. 3 minute recovery then another set of 6 x 2 minutes followed by a 1 mile cool-down. The total distance ended up being just about 7.3 miles. It wasn’t super easy but it was fun to be working hard again and the intervals made the time on the treadmill fly by.

A few weeks back while I was still recovering from the Half at the Hamptons, I tried out a yoga class for runners near my office. It was called ‘Stretch and Strengthen’ for runners and focused on strength in the glutes, hamstrings, and core. I’m not a huge yoga fan but I REALLY liked this class. The instructor was very friendly and knowledgeable and the class was very dynamic. There were only 3 of us in the first class I went to (and 4 in the second) so the small groups make for a lot of personal attention and form corrections which was awesome. I could tell I had worked muscles that weren’t used to it by the slight soreness I felt the next day. I think the class could be a really good addition to my training regimen so I’m going to try to keep up with going to it on a weekly basis as much as possible.

How was your weekend? Are you as happy as I am that it’s finally April?


What’s Next?

Hello, I’m back again!

When we last left off, I was disappointed in the result at the Half at the Hamptons and pondering next steps. I think I definitely tend to experience a sort of let-down/depression after big races when that feeling of chasing a big goal is over (I distinctly remember feeling this way after my first marathon). It’s easy to feel a little lost when something you have been looking forward to for months comes and goes.

Half at the HamptonsThe one good thing about not hitting my goal at the Hamptons is that I don’t feel like it’s over. I didn’t hit my time so that big exciting goal is still sitting there, waiting for me to catch it. Only a few days after the race, I was searching for another race to give my PR a shot and I’ve settled on one – The Fast Half on May 13th. Can’t beat a name like that, right??

Fast Half | 2 Generations Running

I’m hoping this race really is the flat and fast course it’s advertised as.

I’ve taken the better part of 3 weeks almost completely off (some of that due to travel for my job and not necessarily by intention). Either way, I am well-rested and ready to dive back into some hard workouts again. I want to really focus on my nutrition and mental toughness as I feel like those were areas where I experienced some shortfalls as well.

I’ve got a few other races on the calendar as well that I am SUPER excited for! Coming up in only a few short weeks is the BAA 5k! No Boston Marathon for me this year, but I am really looking forward to being part of the festivities by racing the 5k on Saturday. There are also a bunch of McKirdy Trained athletes running the marathon and I’m excited to finally meet some of these folks in person! Marathon weekend is probably one of the most fun times to be in Boston and I can’t wait!

I’ve got a few smaller 5ks and 10ks that I’m looking at doing in the spring. But the race that I am REALLY excited about is my first international race – Rock n Roll Montreal!!!

Montreal Rock n RollI will be running this race as a Bibrave ambassador and I cannot wait. I’ve never run a Rock n Roll race, but I have heard amazing things. It’s not until the end of September, so anyone who wants to join me has plenty of time to sign up! Code BIBRAVE15 will get you $15 off the half or full marathon. 🙂


Half at the Hamptons Recap

Hey All,

I’m back! Apologies for disappearing the past few weeks and leaving you hanging on the Half at the Hamptons. If you follow me on social media, you’ll know the race was not really the result I had been looking for and I needed some time to process it. The week after the race, I was traveling for work so writing the race recap got pushed back even more.

But I’m here now. 🙂

So let’s rewind to two weeks back when my mom and I headed up to Hampton, NH for the race.

When I first started weather-stalking the race (ie, checking weather.com every few hours for the raceday forecast), they were calling for temps in the high 40s and sunny. I got so excited I was even contemplating wearing shorts.

Half at the HamptonsI jinxed myself the minute I posted this tweet.

As the race drew closer, that high temperature steadily dropped. We ended up having a high around 32 and a very cold wind off the ocean. Not exactly ideal racing conditions.

Half at the Hamptons

FML.

My mom and I drove up Saturday night as I had decided to book a room in the hotel that was hosting the packet pick-up and post-race party. It was a really cute hotel, right on the ocean. You could tell it was the kind of place that would be PACKED during the summer, but it was very quiet for the beginning of March.

We had a quiet night on Saturday, eating dinner at the hotel restaurant and relaxing with some movies on TV before turning in early. I felt relaxed and honestly I was just excited to race. It didn’t even occur to me to be nervous.

The race started at 10 am on Sunday so I was able to sleep in comfortably. I had my pre-race bagel with almond butter and honey and layered up in my warmest clothes. I picked up my bib easily in the morning and headed out into the cold for a light warm-up.

It became obvious very quickly after going outside just how cold it was. I jogged along the beach for my warm-up and while the views were beautiful, it was kind of hard to enjoy in the wind. Still, I focused on jogging a couple miles knowing how important it would be for my muscles to be nice and warm for the start of the race.

After discussing with Mary, the plan for the race was to go out around 7:45 and to hold that for the first 3 miles. Most of the tempo work we had done during the training cycle was around 7:36/mile, so I knew that was a nice, conservative pace to start with. From there, the plan was to steadily drop the pace, hopefully leading to a negative split. The plan was a solid one, but sometimes even the most well laid-out plans don’t end up happening.

I lined up in the corral with all the other bundled runners and right on time, we were off. This was it. Months of hard work and 5 am wake-up calls were all coming down to this. I was definitely feeling the excitement during the first mile and I had to reign myself in a bit to keep to the 7:45 goal.

Mile 1: 7:46

Mile 2: 7:45

Mile 3: 7:46

My splits were RIGHT ON for the first 3 miles and I was stoked. I felt strong. Then came the straightaway along the ocean. We were running right into a fierce headwind. I tucked in and prepared to dial the pace down a notch.

And nothing. I felt like I was pushing harder than I had in the first 3 miles, but the split on my watch was going UP not down. Mary had advised me not to panic in the event of wind, so I sucked it up and figured I would make up the time in the next few miles once we were off the ocean a bit.

Mile 4: 7:49.

At this point, I still wasn’t too nervous. I thought I’d settle in and be able to work my way down to the 7:30s.

Just as I was thinking this came the hills. I had NOT expected any sort of incline. From what I had been able to find online, the race was supposed to be flat and fast. Well, I overheard another runner say that they changed the course this year so all my research and planning was out the window. I was peeved about the hill, but I sucked it up and did my best to keep running hard.

Half at the HamptonsYeah, that’s not flat.

Mile 5: 7:50

Mile 6: 7:53

At this point, I think I realized that things were really falling apart. Every time the wind would die down and I would think to myself it was time to push, I’d hit a hill and even with the increased effort, my pace would slow. If there wasn’t a hill, then it was the wind slowing me down. I tried to do my gels but I felt like I couldn’t breathe and swallow them at the same time. During my training, I had typically done my gels in between intervals which is all fine and dandy, but when it came down to it, I didn’t feel comfortable trying to take them while running fast. That was a stupid mistake on my part and something I need to think about more for my next half.

Mile 7: 8:16

Crap. At this point, I had really just been hoping to keep all my miles sub-8. So much for that goal.

From there, it was an absolute grind to the finish. I was still hoping and thinking I would finish in under 1:45, but my lofty goal of 1:39 was 100% out the window. Mentally, I just wanted this race to be over.

Mile 8: 7:58

Mile 9: 7:55

Mile 10: 7:58

I felt like absolute crap and knew I only had a 5k to go. I wanted to push. I really did. But we were back at that straightaway along the ocean and the wind was blasting me. I watched the pace fall off on my watch and felt absolutely powerless to do anything about it.

Mile 11: 8:00

Mile 12: 8:12

Mile 13: 8:21

I crossed the finish in 1:45. I immediately felt a sense of defeat upon seeing the clock. Not only did I miss my goal, but I didn’t even break my PR. After all the effort and all the training, I failed.

Half at the HamptonsHappy to be done. Not happy with the result.

My mom and I hurried back into the hotel to warm up. It seemed like it would have been a pretty nice post-race party with free beer, soup, and hot chocolate, but I didn’t feel much like celebrating. My stomach also felt like it was tied up in knots, much the way it gets after a marathon.

So obviously, I’m still disappointed that I didn’t reach my goal. But here’s the thing: I KNOW I’m in awesome shape and better trained than the last time I ran a 1:45. I KNOW I’m capable of a faster time. And now that I’ve had some time to let that sting of disappointment fade a bit, I look back and think ‘hey, I raced really freaking well for those conditions.’ My average pace ended up being 7:58/mile and to run that on such a terribly cold, windy day on a course that threw a few significant climbs my way? That’s actually a solid performance.

Everyone has races that don’t go their way. That’s part of the sport. You try to control everything you can in training, but on the actual day of the race, you also need a little bit of luck for everything to come together perfectly. It didn’t happen for me at the Half at the Hamptons, but that’s ok. All it means is that I need to start hunting for half marathon #18 so I can give sub 1:45 another shot.