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.


Boston River Run 5k

Happy Monday folks!

Can you believe we’re pretty much halfway through November? I can’t. But, I’m stoked that Thanksgiving is only a short 2 weeks away. 🙂 I can’t think of anything better than a holiday that includes a race, time with family, and LOTS of pie. Seriously, Thanksgiving is the holiday of all holidays for runners!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. This past weekend, I ran the first 5k of 3 that I recently signed up for, the Boston River Run 5k. This was a small race held at Artesani Park along the Charles River in Boston. This was also my first race (and sustained effort) since Baystate. Chatting with my mom on Friday, we spontaneously decided to turn it into a girls weekend, even though she couldn’t run (injuries suck). We had a low-key night on Saturday, which was perfect since I was pretty exhausted from working an event Saturday morning.

On Sunday, we Ubered over to the park with plenty of time for me to grab my bib and fit in a decent warm-up. It was sunny and in the low 50’s, pretty much a beautiful fall day. I jogged an easy mile and then did some stretching and drills followed by a few strides. In the past, I’ve been very  loosey-goosey with my warm-ups, but I’m making an effort to try to include them now because they do make a huge difference.

We listened to the National Anthem and then lined up. My mom got into place to play race photographer. 🙂 It was a bit of a narrow bike path that we were running on, so I tried to put myself towards the front of the corral so that I wouldn’t have to weave around people like crazy. Right at 9 am, we were off!

I must have been pretty excited that first mile because I really took off. Probably a little too fast. But, the 5k is kind of supposed to be all out, so I’m still  struggling with figuring out how one is supposed to pace it. Anyway, I took off like a bat out of hell and was running hard with some very fast ladies at the front of the pack. I looked down at my watch and saw that my pace was in the 6:40 range. Eek. This was going to hurt. I hit the first mile in 6:57. As far as I know, this is the fastest mile I have ever run. Pretty exciting stuff, but running another 2 miles after that was really freaking hard.

After the first mile, it finally registered in my brain that I still had another 2.1 miles to go and that I was going to need to slow down a bit. There was a slight incline as we crossed a bridge to the other side of the river which also slowed me down a bit. I tried to concentrate on my breathing, but that was slightly alarming because I sounded like I was dying (I have mild exercise-induced asthma and it’s worse in the cold air). So I just tried to focus on the couple of runners ahead of me, trying to keep pace with them. Second mile – 7:31. I slowed down by more than 30 seconds, but this still felt tough!

Once I was past Mile 2, it all became about survival. I only had a mile to go, so I just had to hold steady and try not to fall apart anymore than I already was. We passed a water station and I was tempted to grab a cup but I knew it would probably add seconds onto my time (not really an issue in a marathon, but in a 5k, those seconds matter!).

Boston River Run 5k

After what felt like an eternity, we were finally looping back into the park where the spectators were waiting. My watch beeped for Mile 3 – 7:33. Score! I had managed to hold the pace for another mile. I sprinted across the finish, stride for stride with an older gentleman who had caught up to me during the third mile. Final time: 22:57, which comes to an average pace of 7:19 per mile.

Boston River Run 5k

Boston River Run 5kALMOST THERE!!

Overall, I’m happy with this effort. This does make me realize though that what I consider my 5k PR (the 22:29) was 100% because the course was short. My average pace for that race was 7:24/mile. Slower than what I ran on Sunday, but roughly 30 seconds faster in overall time, which doesn’t make sense. So if that course had been the correct 3.1 miles, I would have finished in 22:56, pretty much equivalent to what I ran today.

So this puts me in a bit of a conundrum. I guess if I’m being realistic, I should call today’s 22:57 my PR. Either that, or I just have to go out and run another 5k (on an accurate course) and beat 22:29. I’ll have another shot in a few weeks on Thanksgiving so we will see what happens then! 🙂

Are you running a turkey trot? Have you run a short course before? Favorite type of pie on Thanksgiving? I’m a big fan of pecan pie myself. 🙂


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. 😉

 

 


Utah Pt. 2 – The Hobble Creek Half Marathon

Need to catch up on Part 1 of our adventures in Utah? Find it here.

Arches National Park | 2 Generations RunningAfter spending a few days having a blast exploring Arches and Moab, my mom and I woke up early on Friday for a quick 3-mile shakeout run. We happened to come across a paved bike trail – perfect for running in an area we didn’t know that well! Of course, that didn’t stop us from getting slightly lost.

2 Generations RunningThe run ended with iced coffee from one of the many cute cafes that line the Main Street of Moab.

Fueled by CoffeeOnce we were cleaned up and properly caffeinated, we made the drive north towards Provo where we had rented an Airbnb close to the race start. The place ended up being quite cute and the hostess was so friendly! We would definitely do Airbnb again to cut down a bit on hotel costs traveling to races.

The drive was a long one, so we spent most of Friday relaxing after we picked up our bibs. There really wasn’t an expo for this race (the race was capped at 1,000 runners, so definitely on the smaller side). The pick-up was at a running store, so they had some stuff to check out, but nothing too new or exciting. We laid out our running gear when we got back and called it an early night.

At the crack of 4 am, we were up and at ’em! 🙂 This race was a point-to-point course with a shuttle ride up the canyon road and the organizers had stressed that everyone had to catch the buses between 5:30 and 5:45. If you missed the shuttle, you weren’t running the race! Luckily, we made it there in plenty of time to spare. The ride up the canyon took a surprisingly long time and my mom jokingly asked if I was sure we hadn’t accidentally signed up for a marathon. 😉 I have to say, I got a little nervous too there for a sec!

We finally arrived at the drop-off point, and one of the organizers hopped on the bus to warn everyone about hunters driving on the road and not to pee in the woods because rangers were watching. Ummmm, what?! Things were off to an interesting start. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any porta-potties at the drop-off, and we ended up having to walk up the road probably another 20 minutes or so before getting to the start area. My mom and I were slightly desperate by the time we got there!

0140f9f25dac5a861f1b32eace53c91af8a4521ba6(When you pretend to look happy, but are actually freezing to death.)

Hobble Creek Half Marathon Race RecapAfter a short warm-up, we arranged ourselves behind the starting line (drawn in chalk on the ground – yeah, it was that small a race!). A couple more quick announcements and we were off! My goals going into the race were pretty loose. A big part of me was hoping that I would be able to use the elevation profile to my advantage to score a new half marathon PR (my best time was 1:45 back in February at the Augusta Half). However, I also knew my training leading up to that race had been much more consistent and had included a lot more long runs at 8 min/mile pace. I figured I would start out in the mid 8’s and try to slowly bring that time down to sub 8-minute miles in the later miles of the race. If a PR happened, then awesome, but I wouldn’t be crushed if it didn’t because I hadn’t really put in the work for it.

Only a few miles into the race, I realized I was going to have to stop at one of the water stations to use a porta-potty again. Damn, that hasn’t happened to me at a race in ages! I knew that stopping would unfortunately add a couple minutes to my time that I would have to try to make up, but I also wasn’t about to run 13.1 miles feeling like I was going to pee my pants. 😉

Mile 1: 8:43, Mile 2: 8:37, Mile 3: 8:25, Mile 4: 8:55 (my porta-potty mile)

While I had been pretty cold before the race, once I was running, it really did feel perfect. It was early enough that the road was mostly shaded and we were running with Hobble Creek gurgling along next to us on the left. It was really scenic and SO nice to be running a race where I didn’t feel like I was melting into a pool of sweat.

Hobble Creek Half Marathon Race ReviewMost of the first 6 miles looked just like this.

Mile 5: 8:12, Mile 6: 8:02, Mile 7: 8:02, Mile 8: 8:03

It was around Mile 5/6 that I realized I would have to start hitting some sub 8-minute/miles if I was going to have any chance of a PR, so I started picking up the pace. Whenever I felt like I was getting in the groove of the faster speed though, it seemed like we would hit a small uphill and my pace would slow again. I felt like I was putting in the effort, but no matter how hard I tried, my GPS just kept chirping 8:00/mile – no faster.

Mile 9: 8:17, Mile 10: 8:21, Mile 11: 8:22, Mile 12: 8:40, Mile 13: 8:24

Around Mile 9, I think I accepted that a PR was clearly not going to happen for me. I still wanted to push the effort though and continued to work hard (apart from Mile 12, which I was clearly slacking on.) At this point, we were on a bike path, which was quite pretty but also sunny. It was around these miles where I was wishing they had a couple more water stations.

But finally, I was rounding the bend onto the road that wrapped around into the finish. There were actually spectators at this spot cheering, which felt awesome after such a quiet race. I saw the clock as I crossed the finish, which read 1:50. By my GPS watch, I finished just under in 1:49:54. About 4 minutes slower than my PR, but still a decent time. I was a little bummed though because I just missed out on receiving one of the special “Elite Top 100” medals they had for the first 100 male and female finishers. I still got a flower though, which I thought was kind of different and cool.

018cb4caa3a3c0093117b410a1e1fd520066748d09After chugging some water and sitting down for a few minutes, I started waiting for my mom to come across the finish. I knew she wasn’t planning on racing it hard, but I started to get more and more nervous as the time on the clock got later. Was this race going to be her turn to get transported by ambulance? I was probably being really irrational, but I really got panicked as the time ticked past 2:15. I knew she had been experiencing some hamstring issues, so my mind immediately jumped to her being injured and unable to finish the race.

I waited another 15 minutes and finally called her, remembering how she could easily answer her phone while running. Just as she answered, I actually spotted her coming into the last 1/2 mile. Hobbling slightly. She did not sound good on the phone, and we hung up quickly. Finally she crossed the finish line and filled me in on her race.

She told me how her hamstring started acting up after the first few miles of downhill running, and how by Mile 6, she was so in so much pain she had to walk. She had been mostly walking since then, not wanting to risk any further damage to the muscle. Hobble Creek Half Marathon was unfortunately a bit too aptly named for her.

So not one of the best for either of us, but we made the most of the day, hanging out at the finish for a bit before heading out to a nearby cafe for a bigger breakfast. We had plenty of time to discuss and analyze the race and came to a couple of conclusions.

  1. It was probably the drastic downhills that set off her hamstring, which was already bothering my mom a bit. She had thought it had been feeling better in the days before, but 13 miles of hard downhill running, was probably a bit too much.
  2. When you’re trying to run at least 50 marathons/half marathons, you’re going to have some bad races. Period. Life happens, training isn’t always perfect, and it is what it is.
  3. That said, my mom and I race pretty frequently. We did the RW Classic Half back in July, a bunch of 5ks before that, and then of course, there was the Delaware Marathon in May. If we want to run better quality races, it would probably be wise for both of us to back off a bit and pick only a few races to really target. This is what the elites do, and while I’m not looking to run a 2:40 marathon just yet, I do think it makes a lot of sense. Of course, I’m now signed up to run Baystate in October, but I promise I won’t do any races before then!!

Hobble Creek Half marathon Race Review

So overall thoughts: The Hobble Creek Half is a good, small race. I probably wouldn’t run it again, and I know there are some more popular half marathons in Utah with more bells and whistles, but it’s worth checking out if you are local to the Mapleton/Springville/Provo area. Also, I think it’s worth noting that they ran into issues with their timing equipment and ended up only being able to provide gun times for the racers, no chip times. Not a huge deal for us since we didn’t hit those PRs, but I’m guessing this was pretty frustrating for some other runners. But all in all, it was a really fun way to cap off our Utah vacation and to cross off State #12. Only 38 to go! 😉


The Runners World Classic: Race Recap Pt. 1

Disclaimer: I received a free entry into the Runners World Classic for review as part of being a BibRave Pro.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! Thank you!

What a weekend!!

Runners World Classic Race Recap 2016As evidenced by the above photo, my mom and I had A LOT of fun this weekend. A couple years back, my mom and I had done the Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon which is also put on by Runners World, so this weekend felt kind of like a running flashback.

Heartbreak Hill HalfThrowback to a selfie after the Heartbreak Hill Half!

Friday afternoon, my mom came up to my apartment to stay for the weekend. We had fun cooking and watching a little TV, keeping things low-key in preparation for Saturday’s early morning. The 5k started at 7 and we still had to pick up our bibs beforehand.

Merrimack College in North Andover was a great, easy location for the races. We had no problems getting there and parking was a cinch (despite my alarm somehow failing to wake me up Saturday morning so we were a little later than we intended.) We grabbed our bibs and shirts and took a minute to check out the expo. One of my ONLY complaints about the event would be the T-shirts – I love the color, but I was bummed that they were cotton! I’ll still wear it, but it would have been nice if I could have worn it out on runs.

Runners World Classic Race Recap 2016Not a great shirt, but not the worst….

The expo was also very small – I think there were 2 vendors, apart from Runners World! I was super stoked to see Sarah Marie Design Studio there (check out her website if you haven’t heard of her!!) I had actually just ordered one of her “Netflix and Treadmill” tanks, and me and my mom both decided to buy some new running tanks (I got “Positive Vibes, Negative Splits” – love that slogan!)

Finally, it was time to head out and do a little warm-up and stretching before hitting the 5k. My mom was also running this one.

Runners world Classic Race Recap 2016My plan was to push the pace a little bit on this 5k. Knowing that I also had a 10k and half marathon ahead of me, I had no intentions of trying to PR, but I wanted to put in a decent effort. Right at 7 am sharp, we lined up in the starting corral and were off!

The first mile was pretty congested and just took you out through the college campus so not super exciting. Mile 1 – 7:49.

Once the congestion had cleared, I was able to pick it up a little more. I tried to stay in tune with my breathing and exertion levels, not wanting to get caught up in the excitement of the race. Even so, I was surprised when I ran a 7:27 for mile 2 (this was mostly downhill so I think that was the real explanation).

01684b99551ad8925358c579d45b2f59cc5a11ea24

There was more climbing between miles 2 and 3 and my pace slowed a bit to 7:48 for an average pace of 7:38 per mile. Official time – 24:04. A pretty good time, but obviously well off from my PR of 22:29. I was happy with how I did, but I wasn’t even going to check the results because I figured there was no way that time was going to earn me anything. Thank goodness my mom and I just happened to walk by the results kiosk!! SOMEHOW, I got 1st in my age group!!

Runners World Classic Review 2016

017bcf9865b7156ac8cca84c6ffc94e0da7d30d6ecThis was a big surprise for me, and I was pretty darn excited about it. I think this glass is going to be getting a lot of use. 😉

I had about an hour to relax and then it was time for the 10k. By this point, the heat and humidity were really beginning to ramp up. I decided to think of this as just one of my regular training runs – I was going to take it pretty easy and finish when I finished.

Runners World Race recapI finished the 10k in 54:55, with an average pace of 8:46/mile. A little faster than I normally go on an easy run, but I felt pretty comfortable throughout so I went with it. There were plenty of water stations on the course, which was a good thing because the sun was really beginning to beat down in places along the course (temps reached the low 90’s in North Andover that day). At the finish, volunteers gave out sponges soaked in cold water – AMAZING!!! It definitely felt like DMSE Sports (the company putting on the race) had taken the forecast into account, adding some water stations, the sponges, and plenty of medical staff to keep everyone safe.

It felt great to be officially done for the day and I happily stocked up on plenty of the post-race foods (I had been really good about not eating much of anything in between the 5 and 10k). There was a great selection of chips, granola bars, yogurt, Yasso bars (probably my favorite post-race food!), and Tazo chocolate. The official finisher food was a single hot dog (though you could opt to buy a second one). I’m not a big hot dog person, but it kind of hit the spot after 9.3 miles. You also got a ticket for 1 free beer and they had a choice of Coors Light and Blue Moon. After missing the champagne toast at Delaware, it felt nice to finally get to take advantage of my drink ticket!

For the next hour or so, my mom and I hung out, walked around, and checked out the celebrity mile.

Runners World Classic ReviewThis included Runners World editor David Willey (up front in the blue in the photo), Adrienne Haslet (Boston Marathon bombing survivor), Dick Hoyt (of Team Hoyt), Bill Evans (the Boston police commissioner), and many more.

After the Celebrity Mile was over, my mom and I met up with a running friend to check out the seminars. What better way to celebrate spending your whole morning running than to follow it up with afternoon discussions on running? 😉 The first seminar was called “Getting the Most from your Machine: How to Become your Fastest and Healthiest Runner”. This one was led by Amby Burfoot, winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon,  and Bud Coates, a 2:11 marathoner and 4-time Olympic marathon trials qualifier. This discussion was a little more anecdotal, but it was pretty cool getting to hear these incredible runners describe their experience with running, injuries, and training.

The second seminar was led by 2 physical therapists on how to keep running injury-free. This was another fascinating presentation as we discussed why so many runners get injured, and how the regulations of the health care system contribute to that. I don’t remember the names of these speakers, but both were physical therapists in the Boston area and very engaging speakers. They also stayed around after the talk to answer questions, so my mom was able to get some advice on some nagging hamstring issues.

By that point in the day, my mom and I were wiped out. We decided to skip the last couple seminars which were similar to ones we had seen at the Heartbreak Hill Half and headed out in search of iced coffee.

Stay tuned for a recap of Sunday’s half marathon!

 

 


Sunday Runday (Just One Run 5k Recap)

It hit me the other day that I’m running the Runner’s World Classic Hat Trick in July… which is literally only a month away at this point! Eek!!!

Runners World ClassicGiven that I will be running a half marathon in just about a month and the next few weeks are going to involve some crazy traveling, I wanted to get in a long run this Sunday to cap off a week of pretty good runs.

I had signed up for a random little 5k a couple of weeks ago (found it through an email from Marathon Sports – the Just One Run 5k in Memory of Sean Curtis) when I saw it was being held walking distance from my apartment, in an area where I typically run anyway. I figured it would be just the thing to force myself into a fast finish for a 10-miler, so I headed out early to knock out 7 ahead of time.

I kept the first 7 really slow and easy, because annoyingly, my hamstring is STILL BOTHERING ME. Grr. I figured if anything, a long, slow warm-up would probably be good for it. Either that, or it would tire me out so I wouldn’t be so tempted to go crazy on the 5k (no such luck there.) I couldn’t believe how hot it felt at 8:30 am!! It was already sunny and in the low 70s and I was kind of dying in the capris I had opted to wear. I finished the 7 with about a half hour to go til the race start and went over to pick up my bib, drink some water, and stretch.

Just One Run 5k RecapWhile it was a little hot, they really did have a gorgeous day for this event (especially compared to the 5k my mom and I ran last weekend!)

Just one Run 5kIt took them a little while to get everyone started, but eventually we were all shepherded into the starting area. I knew it was going to be very congested at the front since it’s a route I run pretty frequently, so I made sure to get myself towards the front of the pack. I was thinking I could probably place in my age group, even with dialing it back a notch because of my hamstring. I was SO ANNOYED though when herds of little kids started pushing their way to the front of the group. I know, I know – I should chill out, it was a family event and not that big of a deal, but still. Weaving around them after they all slowed down by the first 100 yards got annoying. Mile 1- 7:20.

In the first mile, I knew there were 3 women ahead of me – two of them were really cruising, and I knew I wasn’t going to catch them. I was excited (although a little nervous), when I passed the third woman just before the first mile marker. As long as no other women passed me, I could get 3rd overall woman!! While I was waiting around for the start, I had noticed that they had some pretty nice trophies for awards, so part of me really wanted to get one. Mile 2 – 7:37.

In the third mile, I passed one guy who I had been tailing for the first 2 miles. He stayed with me all the way to the end, but didn’t pass me. I also kept looking behind me in this last mile, trying to see if there were any women sneaking up behind me. There weren’t. In fact, there was a gap of about 15 seconds to the next closest runner behind me, and another gap to the runner behind him. It definitely gave me that vibe that I was running alone and there was no real way I could screw up my place as 3rd overall female. I probably got a little complacent because the last mile was my slowest. Mile 3 – 7:47. Then again, if I look at it in relation to my whole 10 miles, it was one of my fastest miles! 😉 Official Time: 23:45, good for 2nd in my age group and 3rd overall female.

Significantly off from the PR I ran last weekend, but as I kept reminding myself, it was to be expected. I had run 7 miles and it was WAY hotter/sunnier than the week before where rain had kept me cool throughout. This was also a fun surprise-

Strava LeaderboardI am the proud queen of this 5k course on Strava!! Woo! My first time topping a leaderboard and I could get used to the feeling. 🙂

I ended up hanging out, waiting around for an hour because they wanted everyone to finish before doing the awards. I wouldn’t have minded – except, I didn’t get an award. They only had them for first place in each age group and the overall winners. 😦 I was so bummed. I understand it was a pretty low-budget event, but still it was frustrating that I specifically waited around for the awards ceremony for nothing. Also, the age groups were super weird in this race. The woman who got first in our age group was 38 – how do we belong in the same age group???

Oh well. I just need to keep reminding myself the trophies really don’t matter. Overall it was a great 10-mile run for me (the longest I have gone since Delaware)  and an excellent step in the right direction for half marathon training.

How was your weekend? Did you race? 


AIDS Walk Boston & 5K Run

Happy Monday!

Hope everyone is readying themselves for the Bachelorette tonight! Make sure you are stocked up on wine, go out and buy some red roses, whatever you have to do to get yourself psyched up before 8 pm!

The BacheloretteI’ll be getting my Bachelorette happy dance on too.

But anyways! This weekend was a fun one. My mom came up and spent the afternoon/night hanging out with me in preparation of the AIDS Walk Boston and 5k Run the next day. We went into Boston on Saturday and enjoyed walking around, doing the touristy thing near the North End and Fanuil Hall. We knew rain was going to be moving in for Sunday, so we took full advantage of the sunshine, walking over to Sargent’s Wharf and taking in the views of Boston Harbour.

Sargent's Wharf, Boston | 2 Generations RunningSo much fun! We kept it low-key Saturday night, working on some travel stuff for the next big half marathon (and new state) we are planning on tackling this summer (I’m planning on doing a full post on this very soon!).

Sunday morning, we woke up to lots of clouds and yes… rain. 😦 Fortunately, it was a 10 am start for the 5k, so we had time to wake ourselves up with a hot cup of coffee before heading to the Hatch Memorial Shell on the Charles River in Boston where the race was being held. It was an interesting Uber ride over there, with the driver spending the whole time asking us a bunch of questions about how to run 5 miles (I mentioned that a 5k was only 3 miles, but it seemed to go over his head), qualifying for Boston (“They don’t let you in if you miss the cut-off by 5 minutes? Really??!”), and generally not paying a whole lot of attention to the road. Thankfully, we made it there in one piece.

AIDS Walk and 5k Run BostonI did a quick warm-up along the Charles, snapping this picture of the gloomy Boston skyline.

AIDS Walk Boston and 5k RunAfter some stretching, I jogged back and it was about time for the runners to hop into the starting corral. Thank goodness the 5k started separately from the walkers – it was a pretty narrow chute, and it would have been PACKED.

The race organizer had the 6 and 7 minute milers line up at the front, with slower paces behind. I had decided I wanted to aim for 7:30 splits, so I went a little behind the front group. Standing there, I noticed there were not many ladies – 3 a little ahead of me, all who looked very fast, and one standing next to me. With those odds, I thought I might have a chance at placing in my age group.

The announcer started counting down the minutes to the start, and at around 3 minutes to go, I started the Strava app on my phone and went to tuck it into my belt. I was struggling to get it put away, when I noticed the race announcer saying “Ready… Set, Go!Eek! I took off, figuring I would survive carrying my phone for 3 miles.

Through the first mile, the 3 ladies who had been in front of me in the corral slowly widened the gap, while I tried to remember what it felt like to run a 7 minute pace. The one who had been beside me fell away, until it was me and a bunch of guys. Mile 1 – 7:07/mile. 

Thoughts during that first mile:

Oh sh*t… This is really hard. I forgot how freaking hard 5ks are…

That’s only 1 mile? FML. 

7:07? Hey, that’s pretty dang good! No wonder I’m dying.

The course made a hard right turn after that first mile so that we were running back on the trail in the opposite direction. I saw my mom at that point and she waved and cheered at me. I also noticed there still didn’t appear to be any other ladies around me. Ok, just keep this up Nora, not too far to go now. I had to slow down a couple times going over the cobblestone bridges we crossed because they were so slick from the rain. The last thing I wanted to do was wipe out. Mile 2 – 7:33.

Thoughts:

Ok, slower, but that’s more on target with what you expected. Hey, maybe I can get a PR? 

Still no ladies passing me… Just keep going!

Just one more mile…. arrrrrghhhh.

Is that the finish? Nope…. maybe that? nope. 

I honestly don’t know why I kept expecting to see the finish after mile 2. I know a 5k is 3.1 miles. Maybe lack of oxygen to the brain? I focused on just trying to maintain my pace. There was a guy in a black tank top who’d been in front of me since about the mile and a half mark who had been running pretty consistently to my pace, but he was fading and I was slowly reeling him in. Finally, I passed him. Mile 3 – 7:34.

And yes! There it finally was – the finish line!!! I was stoked to see 22:30 on the clock as I sprinted over the timing mats. Official chip time: 22:29!!!

I absolutely crushed my previous 5k record from last summer (23:01)!! A 30-second PR in a 5k is HUGE, and I think part of me was just shocked that I managed to not only break 23 minutes, but to do it by so much. A couple of notes about that though:

  • This course was a tiny bit short. My GPS watch (and my mom’s too) said it was 3.04 miles, not 3.1. Still, it wouldn’t have taken me 30 seconds to run .06 mile, so I’m 100% calling this a new PR.
  • It was pancake flat. 90% of the 5ks I’ve raced have been at the Lowell Good Times Series which has some climbs, sharp turns, and usually a little bit of bottlenecking along certain stretches of the course. I guess it’s not all too surprising that I would run a PR on a course that’s a little less challenging.

Even so, I’m totally stoked. I feel like I’m still in fantastic shape from training for Delaware, and I think it helps that I’ve been going to weekly speed workouts for the past 2 weeks.

AIDS Walk Boston 5kSo many good feels. 🙂

It gets better. My mom finished a few minutes behind me and after telling me about her race snafu (her music didn’t start on her phone, so she had to stop to fix it quickly), we made our way over to pick up our bag at bag check and noticed they were taping up the results (there were no signs that results were going to be posted there, so it was pure luck that we noticed and that we hadn’t grabbed our bag before they posted them!)

AIDS Walk Boston 5k RunWe did it!! Third place for me (turns out one of the women ahead of me in the corral was in an older age group) and FIRST PLACE for my mom! They didn’t give out any medals or shirts in general for he race, so I was thrilled to have an age group prize to commemorate my new PR.

AIDS Walk and 5k Run Boston | 2 Generations RunningIt drizzled/rained pretty steadily after we finished, but we still took the time to walk around and pick up TONS of free samples of awesome healthy snacks (and gelato – less healthy, still delicious). Whole Foods was one of the sponsors of the race and it was awesome. It was a bummer the weather was so horrible because it would have really been a great event on a nicer day.

After picking up enough samples to significantly weigh down our bag, we headed out to grab a hot coffee and more substantial bite to eat.

Boston Coffee | 2 Generations Running(Remember what I said about being fueled by coffee?)

We ended up at Cafe Bella Vita in the Beacon Hill neighborhood, a little cafe that we had actually eaten at on a previous running adventure. We split a margherita grilled cheese with our coffee and it was perfection. Grilled cheese and coffee probably sounds like a weird combination, but it totally works 😉

So another great race in the books! I actually have another 5k coming up next weekend because it is literally walking distance from my apartment (and along my typical running route!) and how could I turn THAT down?

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!! As tough as this was, I’m really enjoying getting back to the shorter races! 


Boston Run to Remember 5-Miler

Hope you all enjoyed the long weekend!

As promised, I’m back  with a recap of Sunday’s Run to Remember. This race consisted of a half marathon and 5-miler, both of which took you on a nice tour of downtown Boston. A coworker of mine had connections to the race organizer and was able to get us some free entries in exchange for volunteering. I knew it was a little close to Delaware to be hopping back into a half marathon, but I figured I would be more than OK doing 5 miles.

Boston Run to Remember 2016 | 2 Generations Running(They had this really cool photo station set up with the back-drop of Boston at the expo)

Of course, then I strained my hamstring on Thursday… I spent the days in between icing, taking ibuprofen, and resting my leg. By Sunday morning, it seemed to be feeling much better. It didn’t bother me at all walking, which was a definite improvement from Friday. I figured I would start the race conservatively, see how it felt, and potentially push the pace a bit from there.

I was glad the 90 degree temps we experienced the day before were gone, but it was actually a little chilly at the start! The race begins and ends at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston, so there was quite a breeze off the water.

Boston's 2016 Run to Remember | 2 Generations RunningI lined up towards the middle of the pack with a few of my coworkers who were doing the half marathon (it’s a group start). Right at 7 am, we were off!

If I had really wanted to race this, I definitely would have needed to line up closer to the front. There was quite a bit of congestion as we wove through Boston’s narrow streets. I was probably running around 9:50 through that first mile, and that was just because I couldn’t find the room to go faster, even if I’d wanted to!

2016 Boston Run to Remember | 2 Generations RunningI felt really good through the first mile, so I decided to pick it up a bit. In an ideal world, I would have loved to have aimed for splits just about 20 seconds slower than my 5k pace, but I didn’t want to risk it. As it was, my competitive nature had me running faster than I probably should have.

Now, my Garmin seriously struggles with maintaining a satellite signal running in Boston, so I don’t know how accurate my mile splits are for this race. For example, at one point, I looked at my watch and it was telling me I was running a 4:45 minute pace. LOL. There’s no way in hell I was running that fast.

Mile 2- 8:22 (maybe).

Boston Run to Remember Course MapCourse Map courtesy of the Boston Run to Remember website.

Right by the Boston Common, the half marathoners split from the 5-milers. It felt like the first time in a REALLY long time that I was one of the people doing the shorter distance! Normally, I love the half marathon distance, but on Sunday, I was pretty psyched to be only doing 5 miles. I kept running, soaking in the feeling of being able to run in the middle of the streets that are normally so jam-packed with traffic when I see them during the week. The course took me through some parts of Boston that I know really well (near North Station, and around the Financial District), and then other parts I was much less familiar with. Mile 3 – 8:06 (again, not really sure I believe that).

For the last 2 miles, I tried to pick up the pace even more. I could feel my hamstring – it didn’t exactly hurt, but it wasn’t normal either. I focused on runners up ahead of me and just concentrated on picking them off, one by one. Maybe I had just started too far back in the pack, but I definitely had a lot more speed left in me than the runners in my vicinity. Mile 4 – 7:00 according to Garmin, but this was in a section right around the Financial District with some seriously tall buildings, so I’m guessing that’s 15-30 seconds off from my true pace.

In the last mile, we headed back into the Seaport District, with a nice downhill. There were a decent number of spectators along this stretch and all the cheering was a nice change from the rest of Boston which was extremely quiet on this cool and cloudy Sunday morning.

Boston Run to Remember 2016 I could see the finish line and all the American flags in the distance, and I continued to push hard, passing some more runners in the last half mile. Mile 5 – 7:32 by Garmin, 6:47 by Strava, so maybe my true pace was somewhere in between? Either way, a solid effort for my last mile.

After crossing the finish line, all the runners were funneled back into the Seaport World Trade Center where they had TONS of post-race food, vendors, and bag check. Considering it was such a cool morning, it was kind of nice to be back indoors where it was warm. They had a great variety of food and my absolute favorite – chocolate milk!! Haha, I was so happy to have it especially since I never got my chocolate milk after Delaware. It’s definitely the little things in life. 🙂

I hung out for a while, and finally checked my results. My official time was 41:25, which comes out to an average pace of 8:17/mile. I was also 31 out of 499 runners in my age group! If I had been 100% uninjured, I think I could have done better, but given the circumstances, I’m happy. I think this gives me a good sense of my baseline and how I can work to improve for the half marathons I have coming up later this summer (*Hint – my mom and I have another state planned!!!)

Boston Run to RememberThe medals were also really cool at this race – The circular piece in the middle is actually a “coin” that is magnetized to fit into the medal itself. They had different coins to represent Police and Fire.

Overall, this was an awesome race – very well-organized, great expo, and a cool course that did a great job highlighting the city of Boston.


The Delaware Marathon: Race Recap

I knew the Delaware Marathon was going to be a BIG race, but I had no idea just how epic things were going to get. If you follow me on Instagram, you probably have an idea what I’m talking about. 😉

My mom and I trained our butts off for this for 16 weeks and for the first time, we were both shooting for aggressive time goals. Maybe a little too aggressive on my part, but I’ll get to that.

Friday morning, my mom and I road tripped down to Wilmington, Delaware.

Delaware Marathon Race RecapThe trip was pretty easy and took just about 6 hours because of some traffic we hit on the George Washington Bridge in New York. We made our way to the official host hotel, the Westin and were able to check in that afternoon. The location of the hotel was absolutely perfect – it was located right across from the Wilmington River Walk, which had tons of different restaurants, and it was an easy 1 mile walk to the Tubman Garrett Park which was where packet pick-up and the start/finish were. We also had a great view of Wilmington’s minor league baseball stadium right from our hotel room!

the Delaware Marathon Race RecapSaturday morning, we slept in and relaxed a bit before getting ready to head out on a little shakeout run. It also marked Day 6 of the clouds and rain the Northeast was stuck under all of last week, but we tried to not let it dampen our spirits. We ran down to the park and picked up our race packets and checked out the expo.

Delaware MarathonRainy selfie at the park.

We checked out the expo after we picked up our swag (short-sleeve shirt, pint glass, and a hat), but there was not a lot to see. I knew it was going to be small, but I was still a little bummed that they weren’t selling any Delaware Marathon-specific merchandise – it was just the basic running headbands and apparel. After that, we headed back to the hotel room to take it easy since they say you shouldn’t be on your feet too much the day before a marathon. We ended up going to see The Jungle Book at a theater right down the road, which was the perfect low-key activity.

That night, we went to a restaurant right by the hotel for our pre-race dinner. I opted for margherita pizza while my mom got a salad with salmon and sweet potato fries. Yum! We then headed back to our hotel room where we watched a silly movie for a bit before crashing.

Delaware Marathon Race RecapExcited to run.

The Race Day:

Sunday dawned cloudy, but with zero rain in the forecast – praise the gods! We were up at 5 am, having our pre-race coffee and bagels. Once we were good to go, we headed over to the park, with a few other runners from the hotel who were doing the same thing. We made our way straight to the porta-potties once we were there, and it was a good thing we did! There were some lines when we first got there, but they were OUT OF CONTROL 10 minutes later. We checked our bags and made our way to the corral.

The space for the corral was TIGHT. It didn’t help that they had all the half marathoners (nearly 900 participants) and the marathoners (450 participants) start together. They also had an ambulance staged basically in the corral. My mom and I managed to squeeze our way in, we waited for a few minutes, and then promptly at 7 am, we were OFF!

The course began by winding our way along the road back towards the hotel we were staying at and the shopping plaza across from it. Once we got to the plaza, the course made a hard left turn so that everyone was running through the plaza, out onto the riverwalk and then back in the direction we had just come from. It was kind of odd and while I enjoyed running on the riverwalk, it was a little too tight for that many runners, that early in the course. My plan was to keep these early miles slow and I did just that – Mile 1: 9:04, Mile 2: 9:09.

After those two miles, I decided to start picking up the pace a bit. I was nervous that it was going to get too hard for me to make up the time to my goal pace if I waited till later in the race when I was tired. I fully admit I don’t have a lot of experience pacing myself in marathons though, so maybe I should have waited longer (maybe it would have prevented me from dying at the end?)? We were heading into downtown Wilmington and it was still mostly flat. I knew I still had a LONG way to go, but I was definitely feeling the excitement. Mile 3: 8:49, Mile 4: 8:53, Mile 5: 8:44

Around this time, we passed the Wilmington Zoo, which was kind of cool – you could see and hear some of the animals! We continued on, entering Brandywine Park. This was probably my favorite part of the course – it was shady, flat, and ran along the Brandywine Creek. There was a narrow, wooden bridge that did not feel super structurally sound when we all ran over it – the boards were actually bouncing from all the runners! Mile 6: 8:51 , Mile 7: 9:00, Mile 8: 8:33. Mile 6-7 was the first of the hills and it slowed me down a bit. All I could think about was how much it was going to hurt on the second loop.

The next few miles were through a shaded neighborhood. The houses were beautiful and it was really scenic. One thing I didn’t like, was that there were a bunch of turns through the neighborhood and then we were running back the way we had come, on the opposite side of the street. It just felt like the race organizers were desperately trying to cram as much mileage as possible into the smallest amount of space. If I had only been running the half, I wouldn’t have minded as much, but by the later miles, I found it confusing and kind of annoying. Mile 9: 8:36 Mile 10: 8:34 Mile 11: 8:44 Mile 12: 8:21, Mile 13: 8:44.

In this stretch, I was still running with tons of half marathoners who were going into the final few miles of their race. I’d like to say I just got caught up in their excitement, but I know it wasn’t that. I wanted to run 8:35 splits, even though there was a part of me that guessed I wouldn’t be able to maintain that pace. I didn’t want to look back on this race and have regrets about not trying though.

The half marathoners split from the pack and the rest of the full marathoners began our second loop, running out along the riverwalk again, all the way to the end of it before making a hairpin turn and going all the way back again. Along the way, I passed my mom heading in the opposite direction and we gave each other a big high-five. We then turned into the park and got to run past all the spectators who had gathered there. This was an exciting part with all the cheering, but it was short-lived. Once we left the park, I felt an overwhelming feeling that I was pretty much on my own and that the second loop was going to be a whole lot less fun. Without the half marathoners, the field had shrunk to the 450 marathoners and the relay runners who’d breeze by you like you were standing still. Mile 14: 8:41 Mile 15: 8:41 Mile 16: 8:43 Mile 17: 8:55.

I tried to break the run into chunks at this point to wrap my mind around the miles I still had left to cover. From mile 15, I told myself all I had to focus on was the 5 miles I had to cover before mile 20. At mile 20, I would focus on the last 6.2. It was also around this time that I stopped trying to run 8:35 miles and instead began aiming for 8:45/mile. I was able to hold onto that pretty well until mile 17.

Mile 18: 8:57 Mile 19: 8:53 Mile 20: 9:39.

And this was where things began to fall apart. At first, I had firmly told myself no walking. I hadn’t trained 16 weeks to walk in my marathon. But by this point, I started walking at the aid stations, drinking my water and splashing the remainder down my back. It had gotten hot. The temps were probably in the low 70s and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Great Mother’s Day weather for sure, but not ideal conditions for running a marathon. And then, I was taking walk breaks on the hills, mentally beating myself up each time I slowed down, picturing my sub-4 hour finish fading away.

I also thought about something I had heard on the Runners’ Connect podcast. I forget which guest it was, but someone (a sports psychologist or doctor possibly) had said “When it feels like you are absolutely drained and have nothing left, you’ve really only tapped into about 30% of your energy reserves”. It sounds simple enough, but what this leaves out is the importance of listening to your body – which I began to ignore as I pushed on into the file 10k of the race.

Mile 21: 9:32 Mile 22: 9:09 Mile 23: 9:32. As you can see, my pace continued to slip. I felt so hot. I distinctly remember having the thought, “my feet feel red”. That doesn’t even really make sense, but it shows the kind of mental shape I was in. I just wanted to be done and I was having fantasies about laying down in the grass and never moving again. I was also wondering why the hell runners put themselves through this. The half marathon distance is so civilized in comparison! Even a 20 mile race I would enjoy. Why aren’t there more 20 mile races?!

Mile 24: 9:58 Mile 25: 9:33 Mile 26: 10:16.

The last mile sucked. so. much. I was on my own, with only a few runners up in the distance ahead of me, and I was running through downtown Wilmington. I knew it was going to be a turn to the left to the finish chute and every single side street, I would peer down, thinking I had made it and getting more and more depressed every time I realized I had further to go. I was also feeling pretty dizzy by this point. Again, I ignored the signals from my body, thinking about the advice from the podcast. Not smart.

FINALLY, I was making the left turn and entering the finish chute, pushing hard and mentally cheering as I realized I had done it and squeaked in under 4 hours, with a 3:57. I received my medal and then began to wobble, almost toppling over. I think some EMTs saw me and they immediately grabbed me, helping me over to the med tent. They helped me lay down and took my temperature – 102 degrees. Oh… So that’s why I felt so incredibly awful the last few miles.

It was all really overwhelming as the EMTs covered me with ice packs and helped me sip Gatorade while we waited for my body temperature to come down. I felt kind of stupid and guilty for not paying better attention to my body and for being so focused on my time goal. Once my body temp had dropped a bit more, they put me in a kiddie pool filled with ice and water – which you would think would feel good after running a marathon, but it felt awful. Finally, one of the EMTs was able to find my mom who had just finished (in 4:15 – a new PR, but not the time she had hoped for either) and brought her over. That was when they told us I was going to have to be transported to the ER. No champagne toast, no chocolate milk, no post-race food for either of us.

The rest of the afternoon was a blur of the ambulance ride, the ER, and then just waiting – for my IV of fluids to finish, for the blood work to come back, for the word that my mom and I could leave.

Delaware Marathon Race RecapIn all the downtime, my mom checked the results online and saw that we had both placed in our age groups! She got second in hers and I was third in mine. Luckily, she was able to contact one of the race organizers who brought over the trophies along with our bags that had been left at the bag check table.

Delaware Marathon Race Recap | 2 Generations RunningOur selfie with our bobblehead trophies once we were finally released and back at the hotel.

I feel like I am still trying to process this race. On the one hand, I’m happy that I broke 4 hours, even though I had even more ambitious goals that I really thought I could hit. On the other hand, it’s pretty scary how it ended. While I’m totally fine now, I have to admit there is no time goal worth sending yourself to the ER over. No matter how many years I run and races I complete, I think there is always something new I’m learning. The lesson from this race was pretty simple – Respect the distance and listen to your body. I didn’t do that this race. I put my competitiveness and ego ahead of my common sense and I tuned out the messages from my body and it landed me in the hospital. I don’t know when I will run another marathon (it won’t be for a very long time), but I do know that I won’t make the same mistake again.

 


Stu’s 30K Recap

Hey there! Nora’s mom and the other half of 2 Generations Running here posting today!

Since running the Augusta half nearly 3 weeks ago, Nora’s schedule has kept her super busy, so I thought I would do a quick guest post, and let her catch her breath.

The very next Sunday after Augusta, we tackled Stu’s 30K in Clinton, MA. Nora and I had done this as a relay, but neither of us had ever run the entire 18.9 miles! It was a lovely day, sunny and about 40 degrees, so nice for running. We decided we wouldn’t run this one together, because we were going to try to maintain our marathon paces, and Nora’s is a good bit faster than mine. (I was hoping to have an average pace of something between 9:30 and 9:15) The start of this race was pretty informal: no mat, just an air horn, and we were off!

Stu's 30K Relay Course Map.

So let me say that we knew this was a hilly course, but “rolling hills” does not begin to describe it. From the very first, it’s a constant up and down, and I for one really struggled to find, and maintain a comfortable rhythm.

Stu's 30k RecapI tried to concentrate on the views. There are some pretty views of the reservoir in the first nine miles, but the second half seemed to be a lot of highway with trees on one side and a brief view of the dam, until, at just before mile 18, you are back in Clinton and going up that last hill to the finish.

At this point the sidewalk was pitted and crumbling and I was tired and cranky and began to walk. Then I looked up and saw Nora running towards me and I thought, “She’s come to rescue me!!” Well, it wasn’t Nora, but another young blond runner, running back along the course to shout encouragement at all us tired runners. It helped me tremendously and I started running again and managed that last mile at 9:15, crossing the finish with a 2:56:35 at a 9:25 pace. Initially, I was a bit disappointed. I had met my goal, technically, but felt completely drained and felt that this did not bode well since I would need to do another eight miles for the marathon. But as I thought about it, I realized the course had been super challenging, and that I had run pretty well and kept it together “mentally” . Mostly. (Thank God for that young mystery runner!) So in the end, I decided, it was not a bad result, and that I had learned plenty!

Stu's 30K Relay

And Nora did equally well, with a finish of 2:41 and an average pace of 8:35.

2016 Stu's 30K

Afterwards, we had some delicious clam chowder and bagels in the school cafeteria as we listened to the distribution of the awards (we didn’t win anything) before heading home.

Overall, another fun race! If you have to do 18 miles, might as well do it with a whole bunch of other people and get a medal for it at the end. 🙂