Twas the night before 2016 Boston Marathon

And I feel a sense of familiarity. Butterflies going through my tummy and up to my throat, the excitement of running in an event the whole city partakes in. The mixed feelings of Goal A, B & C all sitting on my mind.

And gratitude that despite all my whining, I am still running and for the fifth time in a row I get to compete in one of the most sought after marathons and that despite all that has occurred, I still feel the safety of putting on my running shoes and pounding my way through the road.

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If you want to follow me and aren’t sick of me telling you how already, here’s the info.
Text RUNNER to 234567 using your US mobile phone. You will then receive a text response with instructions on how to submit a runner’s bib number. You will receive up to 8 texts per bib number. Message & data rates may apply. Text STOP to cancel.

My bib is 17723

My outfit is ready and I am somewhere in between. The weather started at 70 expected, down to expected 61 this morning and is now saying high of 57. At this stage, it sounds like perfect weather to me. I’m just hoping for no wind.

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After much debate on shoes, I have decided these more light weight Asics feel better on my heel/foot than anything else with more cushion. The pile to the left is my throw away layers. There’s a slight concern about being cold, but I rather not stress out about throwing away something I love.

My goals:

Goal A- 3:30 – BQ city

Goal B 3:45 – Because I needed something in the middle

Goal C- 3:59 – Because a sub 4 is always a nice

My training this year is so much different than it has in the past. On one hand, I got some solid 20 miles this cycle due to the moderate weather we had this winter. On the other hand, my weekly mileage was at a relative low, my high weeks were around 55 and on average I ran 45-50 miles per week (compared to 60-70 in prior years). I took 6 months off from running so this training cycle was more about building base than speed. I would have loved another month of training to add speed to the mix.

And on the final note, I’m running naked… well wrist naked for a mix of seasons one that starts with I have no idea where my Garmin is after I left for Argentina and ends with that it’s probably better that at this stage I run by feel and not time pressure. I am not ready to hit the times of my prior fitness. The beeps on the watch stress me to run by old goals and not by feel. Injury and crashing and burning can only result from that.

So naked wrist and the motivation to get the race finished shall be my driving pace.

And of course all the smiling faces on the course 😉

Welcoming Spring with True Runner

This post is sponsored by Vocalpoint and True Runner. All opinions are my own.

Hi there!

Remember little old me? Yea, I’m still around, still slightly limping but mostly running! I found some things that work for me (maybe before I jinx it, I’ll write a post for it) and it’s been helping me gear up for Boston. So much… that dare I say I am dreaming bigger? Yes, I think, if the stars align and I do enough meditating, I might even have another BQ in me for 2017! I don’t know yet which race will be it, so if you have recommendations, let me know! I’ll try to re-qualify during the Boston marathon, but historically, I just never perform well in that race. I get excited and go out too fast, the headwind in the final 10K makes me whiney, and the whole wait to start drains out about 30 seconds of each of my miles. I’ll try, but plan B race needs to be found before September. I don’t know if my foot will ever love me enough to run daily marathons again, but I think there are hopes of me completely this list

If you’re a runner, Boston is probably one of the best cities to call your home, despite the drama and craze that comes from the Boston Marathon. With that large demographic, there’s no really no shortage of running stores, running groups, and running events. Especially once the sun starts to shine!

Recently, I’ve been exploring some new hoods and stumbled upon True Runner in Chestnut Hill Mall area (shopping mecca as I explored the new Wegman’s that opened up). True Runner  carries a wide range of shoes, apparel and gear to support all your running needs that you can come up with and more.

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Not only is True Runner a store created for runners, by runners, it’s also a community. To celebrate rising temperatures and the start of running season, True Runner is hosting their annual Spring Gear-Up event on Saturday, March 19 & Sunday, March 20.

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Spring Gear Up Event

March 19 | 9:00 AM

The Gear-Up Event will have a bunch of delicious nutritional samples to try and be sure to stop in and take a picture in our photo booth. Share your photo and your “Why I Run” story with us socially for a chance to win great prizes. On-site brand reps will have countless giveaways and don’t forget we will have True Runner freebies all weekend long.

March 20 | 10:30 AM

The Gear-Up Event will have a bunch of delicious nutritional samples to try and be sure to stop in and take a picture in our photo booth. Share your photo and your “Why I Run” story with us socially for a chance to win great prizes. On-site brand reps will have countless giveaways and don’t forget we will have True Runner freebies all weekend long.

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Additional Event details:

    • Photo booth: share your picture and your “Why I Run” story on social media for a chance to win great prizes
    • Face painting
    • Prize wheel: spin the wheel for a chance to win prizes from top brands
    • Nutrition sampling
    • Brand reps on-site offering product expertise and demos

For more information visit True Runner and join fun kids like the ones below!

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Come join me on Saturday for a fun run at 9AM and to welcome the new spring collection at True Runner!

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Learn more about True Runner on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter!

20 Gifts Under $20 for your favorite (or second favorite) running addict

So I do this every year, where I kinda review things I have and things I wish to have and things I want every runner to have and combine to this list. For the most part, the list stays a bit static, but luckily some things are refillable and some things change priority for me depending on how much I run, where or I  run, or maybe in the case of 2015, how little  I run.

Without much more of a ramble, here’s the list!

It is not in any order besides my amazon search order. As a full disclosure, I do get a few pennies kickbacks from Amazon. So even if  you’re not shopping for running gifts, but are using Amazon, check out through one of my links so I can continue to support Jack Meower’s growing organic Wholefoods catfood addiction.

Due North Foot Rubz Foot Massage Roller – $13.99 Sort of a little alternative to the ball I usually recommend.

Due North Foot Rubz Foot Massage Roller

Nuun Tablets – $15,38 for a 4-pack – Honestly, they just make pretty awesome hangover cures as well.

Nuun Active Hydration, Electrolyte Enhanced Drink Tablets, Original Mixed Flavor 4-pack: Lemon+Lime, Tri-Berry, Orange, Citrus Fruit (4 Tubes/12 Tabs Per Tube)

Body Glide –  $9,95 for medium size. They make a for her version, but it’s twice the price and this is already odorless and works great, so what’s the point?

Seat Cover for your car  -$19.95  I won this once at a race, and its actually quite useful since I always tend  to just jump straight  back into the car after a race. Tony loves that.

Shower Pill – $9.99 Basically wipes your a travel shower lol.  Or you could just use babywipes,  but they look less cool in your race bag.

Athletic Body Wipes by ShowerPill-(10 Wipes)

KT Tape – $12.71 For the consistently injured runner who just wont give up.

KT Tape Kinesiology Tape, Original Cotton Elastic Therapeutic Tape, 16-Feet, Uncut Roll, Pink

Mini Foam Roller – $18.80 Fit for travel… as you can see I guess my list has a bit of a theme this year. Yay injuries and dealing with them.

Portable Charger – $9.99 For when you run 100 milers and need a recharge. Or when you travel and see to never be able to find an outlet.

Meals on the Run – $12.99 for kindle version.  A book with recipes that take under 30 minutes to scramble together

Compression Sock – $19.99 I know socks,  how cliche… but honestly, just like underwear you can never have enough… and giving underwear is more awkward.

Reflective Bracelets and kit – $13,97 I don’t run outside at night, but if you do, you should probably make sure people can see you. They give anybody a license these days (including me).

Skirtsports – Prices vary and their site always has some great deals!

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Toesocks – Okay so I’m back on socks, but everyone could use some cooler socks for the 3 times a year they go to a Yoga class (or maybe it’s just me).

Running Mug –  Kinda trinky, but all runners love coffee… how else do I survive the 20 miler after a week of work.

Runner mug, large 15 ounce ceramic running mug

The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances – $10.19 I love The Oatmeal and I love running….. and he also has a great cat book as well

Runner’s Calendar – $14.99 Okay, so it’s another cliche gift idea, but runners are kinda obsessed and we do love calendar. But if your runner also loves  cats, dare I suggest this one instead?

Beer Socks – $11.99 okay I’m back on the socks…. and I’m not sure how comfortable they are in a marathon, but totally worth  sporting in a beer mile, right?

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Running Ornament – $16.99 or better yet, make your own!

Tea Tree Foot Soak – $14.95 It’s kinda  small pack, but its my fave!

Tea Tree Oil Foot Soak With Epsom Salt, Helps Treat Nail Fungus , Athletes Foot & Stubborn Foot Odor 16oz

Sparkle Skirt – $15.97 for Halloween or brunching runs, every girl (and boy) needs some sparkle in their run

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And there’s so many more!

For more idea check out my other lists:

2014 10 Gifts Under $20 (I guess I got lazy this year)

2013 20 Gifts Under $20

Have your own gift list or suggestions? Link up in the comments!

RRCA Coaching Certification Recap & Was it worth it?

What a weekend! Gorgeous weather, gorgeous coastal city and what did I do? Spend 18 plus hours in a make shift back room of a running store turned into a classroom. All for a better cause I would hope!

What is RRCA and what am I certified for?

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RRCA, stands for Road Runners Club of America. It’s basically a club of runners, coaches, running clubs and maybe a few other things all with an overall goal of promoting distance running. You can read the history more on their website and if you belong to a running club, chances are it might be an RRCA member club,

RRCA is one of several running coach certifications. So far, they offer the one basic level of training, and they are hoping to develop a level 2 course and some continuing education options.  Other programs include USATF Levels 1 and 2, NAASFP Marathon coaching, Natural Running coaching, etc. Maybe I should go make up my own and start certifications? I’ll call it run, eat, run, run get Plantar Fascia and fall of the face of the running blog world certification. 

Do you really need it?

As far as I am aware, there is nothing in state law that requires to be a certified running coach in order to coach running. Each different organization looking for a coach can have all sorts of requirements on its own. RRCA is one of the few that is more highly recognized (at least by me) and to some degree helps you gain a network and a structured (but not specific) theory of coaching. Also, once you complete your certification, you can give yourself a title of some sorts with credentials, cause we all love credentials in this world to separate us from all the other Slim Shadys, I mean running self proclaims experts.

How do I become an RCAA running coach?

You get online.. unless you have a hook up, the class open up a few months in advance and fill up in about 30 minutes (at least anything near Boston or NY does). You sit through two days of lecture and such.  You take a test, you give more money and get a first aid & CPR certification and bam…. through effort and such, you’re not deemed worthy of being a coach.

Why I want to be certified?

Of course I love running and I mostly wanted to learn a bit to self coach myself. However, I’ve had an increasing number of readers and friends asking me for coaching advice (or at least before I feel off the face of the blog world into self depression of Plantar Fascia world). I always here’s a few things that works for me, and talk about me. However, clearly, what works for me, is not even great advice since I broke down anyways. So, I wanted to find a more structured way of advising and helping potential clients and friends, as well as being involved in community running events and I felt a little lost with all the information that is out there. So I decided the RCAA course/certification program might not be the all in all solution, but it can make me focused a bit.

Things we covered

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  • Coaching history – Done via video
  • Types of runners and their training needs – Novice, Experienced, Elite
  • Building a training program – This includes lots of side topics
  • Running Form
  • Small amounts of bullet points on Nutrition & Injury
  • Runner Psychology
  • Insurance – they sold their perks and reminded you to be mindful, they do happen.
  • and maybe a few things more that I zoned on in

Things I learned and focused on

  • RRCA stresses uniform usage/meaning of certain terms like cross training, tempo run, or intervals, as it relates to coaching running. As coaches, they want us to be careful with how we use these terms. Basically, each different coaching theory uses a different definition for terms like “tempo” and intervals so when we give our runners plans, we need to be very specific on what we want them to do
  • Aside from putting together a running plan, most things in regards to said runner is most likely out of our scope, which includes but is not limited to:
    • Nutrition and diet
    • Injuries and dealing with them
    • Therapy
    • Legal stuff
    • And pretty much most other things
  • “Effort days” are basically workouts that occur at a harder than conversation pace and in a good plan only include 2-3 “effort day” per week with all other runs/workouts being “conversation pace” I think this is the theory that most of your workouts should not be in that grey area and should either matter (be hard) or easy. The rest is wasted effort if you’re on a goal for something.
  • Periodizing your training where the macrocylce includes the entire training period up until the goal race, the mesocycle includes a shorter training phase within the macrocycle that is targeted towards a specific goal, and the microcycle is a short period (usually a week) within a mesocycle. Then there’s a typical infographic pyramid structure used for overall goals of each mesocycle.
  • A tempo run in their definition where its lactic treshold is your fastest pace you can go for an hour, but should be trained in 20-40 minutes according to their training philosophy

What’s next and overall impression

Next step is a 100 choice test, CPR, & First aid certification. Will I be opening up for coaching? Probably not yet. A lot of passion for running is tied to my own running and until I resolve my plantar fascist nightmare, I think taking on running clients will make me more depressed about the fact that I myself cannot run. However, if you do have any questions, feel free to reach out to me and if I ever do start to pimp my coaching for business, trust me, blogworld, you’ll be the first to know!

Is it worthwhile and for whom?

I still haven’t made up my mind if the class was worthwhile for me. I think a short pros and cons list might help.

Cons –

  • The classroom was not decided for 35 students sitting there for 9 hours a day. The classroom, essentially the backroom of a running store and was not designed for the amount of people it was holding, felt miserable to me.
  • Lecture format – I loved learning and discussing, but sitting in a lecture for 9 hours a day for difficult for me. Personally, I would rather read a large portion of what was lectured in my personal time. I’m also not a hearing/listening learning. I can sit there and focus for hours on end while reading, I can memorize things I read and see, but if I heard something somewhere, the chances of me recalling it, are slight.  Everyone is a different type of learning and the part about slides on a projection board was not for me.
  • Too short – I really wanted to have time to soak in and discuss so much more running nerdness that I almost felt like a weekend wasn’t enough

Pros – 

  • All the things I learned that I listened above. Have this in a structured format was incredibly valuable.
  • Discussions, our instructor Randy did a great job of incorporating as much discussion as possible in the limited amount of time available. I felt comfortable approaching him with questions throughout the whole week.
  • Discussion with other “students” It was great to learn about other backgrounds and experiences, from the fellow “mommy bloggers” to competitive runners and other community leaders
  • I am ready to coach individuals and groups. While I am choosing to not pursue coaching yet, I do feel comfortable workings with group runs and individuals now and can confidently say I can work with you if you’re interested
  • Free (okay not really since I paid for the course) Daniels Training book

Overall, I do plan to walk away focusing on the things I learned and benefits I took from this class and certification (once complete). If coaching if something you are seriously considering, this class is a definite must even if it is just to cover some of the more obvious things since everything else is so subjective and individualized.

Weekly Recap – Why I ignore injuries

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I really hate admitting it, but I’ve been a terrible follower of my own advice. I hate admitting injuries, and taking the steps to fully recovery versus elevating them to a higher level. Absolutely hate it, and unless I am getting sharp pains, I pretty much have been ignoring issues for months now.

For those who have followed me for a while, I’ve been a “runner” for over 7 years with half marathon/marathon running over 4 years now. Sometimes, I feel like a complete newbie, but yes, it’s really been that long! For those 7 years I’ve been incredibly lucky, where although I was a really uncoordinated kid growing up, picking up running as an “adult” has come incredibly easy for me! I ran my first 5K 25:28, not elite, but pretty well for a girl who spent most of her childhood being inactive and chubby. My first marathon in under 3:25 and while not always following the all righteous rule of gradual increase, I have led a very injury-free running life. The most was maybe taking two extra rest days to rest out some soreness and a cranky piriformis from lack of stretching.

And then 2014 came with a string of discomfort that just couldn’t be resolved with two extra days of rest and for a while I refused to believe it. I ran my official 50 miler on what I highly suspect was a stress fracture. I still don’t regret it, because I’m not sure when I will take the time to train for a 50 miler again, but in the grand scheme of running things, I’m sure it was not my best move.

And recently, as I am coming back into training and running, I started ignoring another pain. My heel… which has been on and off problematic probably since October. At first the back of it bothered me and now the outer right side is. The outer pain went away and the side pain came sometime when I was actually not running and cross training in December. And while the pain is dull and easily ignored for a bit, and boy have I done a great job of denying it’s existences; it has come to a point where I can tell it’s alternating me gait and my walking… terrible signs.

So yes, once again.. I am taking a short running break. Hopefully it’ll be only a week break.  I’m seeing a doctor on Wednesday to do an X-ray because while after enough poking and testing, I’m relatively confident it’s not a heel stress fracture, there is definitely some inflammation occurring and I have a terrible guess it’s a heel spur, but maybe it’s just a weird case of plantar fasciitis where the pain is on the side of the heel versus the arch? Either way, I am trying to stay optimistic and positive about what I can expect from my spring races. I am trying to contain my anxiety about lack of performance at Boston because while I would love, love to PR on that course, I can also have a blast running it for fun. I’m also hoping for a quick recovery so I can resume training for a sub 1:30 half marathon in mid-March giving me about 6 weeks of training left.

After two days of easy paced “short” runs, my heel is feeling less inflamed; however, I am resting until official diagnosis and this is giving me hope that I will be okay. So why am I writing this whole speculative analysis of my injury when my appointment is two days away? Because if there’s nothing more; runners love talking about their running, and when they’re not running, they will go on and on analyzing what is keeping them from running. It’s a fixation, maybe not the healthiest, but also not the worst one either.

So my week of training where I ignored all my issues Monday-Friday and then finally googled MDed myself into a panic attack Friday night.

Monday – 8 Miles 7:08 pace.. my first “speed” workout where I did 4 x 1.5 Miles at 6:55 my Half marathon goal pace with rest in between

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Tuesday – 6.2 incline 3; 7:74 pace + Tabata 1 hours

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Wednesday – Rest

Thursday – 10.1 Miles 8:19 pace with heeling feeling weirder than usual

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It was literally negative 3 degrees Fahrenheit in Boston on Thursday morning!!!

Friday – 8 Miles 7:37 pace on incline 3, still doing a great job of ignoring potential injury

Saturday – Fun Run with Somerville Road Runners club at Casey’s 4.1 miles.  Casey’s Tavern provided a stellar brunch offering post run!

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Sunday – Fun Run with Slumbrew in Assembly Square where I ran with old friends and new. 3.1 miles

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Weekly – 39.6 Miles

Getting Over Rock & Blog Rejection

So last night many running bloggers around the world or maybe just US opened up their email and either got great news

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or my news

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And I have to confess…

I got really upset.

I love running, aside from cats, it’s my favorite thing in the world.

And while I may not be the greatest writer, photographer, and that advance of a recipe writer, the one thing I’m great at is getting excited about running, inspiring others and talking my face on in regards to marathons and running. So of course the rejection kinda hit a nerve that has not been hit in a while. The older I get, the tougher I get, but every once in a while I can still get sensitive.

Then I went to bed, okay correction, drank a glass of wine and then went to bed. I slept on it and got over myself.

I realized that this rejection is actually for the best. As far as running goes, the races and events I love participating in are local. Large national level events are not my thing. In fact, while running Rock N Roll New Orleans, I thought to myself that this might be my last Rock N Roll event. I find them impersonal, cookie cutter and only appeal is that it’s in destinations I want to visit. I hate running in packed courses. Running with 30,000 other runners is not appealing to me personally. While I love running Boston and I plan on running it for as many years as the BAA accepts me in, it is pretty much the only large scale marathon that I ever wanted to repeat. The races that tend to stick with more are the smaller Adirondack, or Vermont City ones. The race directors are generally local to the area, the pricing is more fair and reasonable and has more local flavor as you go place to place.

So yes, while I would have loved to run in Rock n Roll Denver & Vegas marathons, it’s not at the top of my marathon bucket list. I’m happy for my friends who got accepted and am excited for their 2015 races. However, it’s time to start knocking out more of the 50 states and hitting up my bucket list.

So here I am, making a virtual toast to staying true to myself and not trying to be anything else. This is my hobby, this is my passion, and I should stay true to myself and run to the beat of my own running path and no one else’s.

And no, needless to say, I am not adding myself to the wait-list or applying next year.

What’s your favorite marathon? I’m looking specifically for things not on in the North East so I can knock out more states. Currently I got Fargo and maybe Chicago. 

2014 Stonecat 50 Miler Race Recap

I signed up for the stone cat 50 miler way back in July… but the idea of running Stone Cat has been festering for well over a year after my first 50 miler DNF at TARC 50 that ended up being a 25 mile swim. Unfortunately the 2013 Stone Cat was the same day as the NYC marathon… So I waited again and tried another TARC 50 miler on a different course… with the same DNF result… In July, I signed up for the lottery to get into Stone Cat and got in! I wasn’t sure what to expect for a fall race since historically Fall is busy time of year for my job where I end up working most Saturdays until 10/15… However, I ended up switching jobs and for the first time in a while, I had weekends opened up to get some of the long runs I would need to get myself ready for this adventure… I can go into more about my training, but I think it warrants a post of its own since it wasn’t the most traditional of plans.

The Stone Cat 50 Miler was held on Saturday, November 8th 2013 at 6:15. The cost of the race is $85 plus fees so essentially $90. The cost to the lottery is Free and while I’m pretty sure the getting picked rate is probably around 100%, the lottery is there to relieve some of the registration stress that seems to happen with races nowadays and servers going boom on the opening hour of registration.

The week of the race I wasn’t traveling for work and unfortunately didn’t get the best rest that I would have liked… It was also that week that I started to feel pain on the side of my leg. Basically the part where my foot connects to my leg in the front. I ignored it for the most part, thinking it was maybe the hotel treadmills and me not getting enough sleep… I got home and ran on Wednesday night and felt okay. Thursday, I went for a 10K on my home treadmill and when I was done, my leg was killing me. At this point, I still thought my pain was muscular and would be gone with a good day of rest. So Friday I worked from home, icing, elevating and the whole RICE treatment hoping that my leg would be good to go by 6:15 AM Saturday.

But first there was the headlamp fiasco… I couldn’t find my old headlamp I used.. and the Fenix flashlight I usually use has had an unfortunate death with Duracell batteries refusing to remove themselves… so I did what any ordinary girl would do… I ordered 1 day delivery from Amazon… only to be disappointed…. Yes, as a prime member, I paid extra to get my delivery in 24 hours only to be disappointed that my headlamp was still in Indiana… so Friday night after packing everything else… we tore the house down looking for the old headlamps because I doubt REI is going to be open at 5AM… luckily we found them.

Initially if everything went to plan, I wouldn’t have needed the headlamp… but as I learned two weeks ago in Ghost Train.. it’s always good to have.

So finally.. I am fully packed with 20 pairs of socks, a few extra layers ready from 100 degrees to negative 100 degrees and more pairs of shoes than most people own in 5 years… yes, when I pack for an ultra.. I pack more than I would for a 3 week trip to Asia. But yes, finally I am packed and ready for bed.

And BAM! the 5AM alarm goes off… I can wake up early… but I really hate it and this wake up with the stress of traveling during the week really felt like a punch in the face. Luckily, the race is only 30 minutes from my house in Ipswich. Tony graciously dropped me off at the race start as we got there around 6:05 AM… Yea probably a little bit late. As I grab my number and shirt from the awesome volunteers, I start to set up my drop back area. My leg feels better, but I can still feel a minor dull ache that I continue on ignoring.

The weather is somewhere in the 30s and I feel groggy and a little cranky as I try to evaluate what layers I need. I finally decide to go with a tshirt and my 2012 Boston Marathon Jacket for some comfort and warmth…Plus it’s bright and orange and makes me happy and reminds me of one of the most difficult runs I ever had. 2012 Boston Marathon was no joke and I’m proud that I stuck through it.  I also kept a hat on which I probably didn’t need but I was just not in the mood to be cold. For the bottom I am wearing a pair of old black Capris I got a few years ago from Express… Yes.. not exactly ideal tights for 50 miles of running… Unfortunately with all the commuting, travel and working from home, I forgot that I pretty much horde a whole closet of workout clothes at work in Boston which is where my three pairs of favorite running capris were currently residing at. Whatever, it’s not the gear that makes the runner… it’s the runner that well fuck it gotta do what she gotta do because a 3AM drive to Boston was not in the cards.

So I am dressed… or undressed from my warm layers… hearing the trail briefing and ready to start when I decide maybe it would be a great idea to take a bathroom visit before I start running. Unfortunately, unlike road races, trail races for some tragic reason (for the almost late Liana) seem to always start on time… so as the rest of the runners start their 50 mile journey, I scurry over to look for the bathroom… which of course is proceeded by a line. So aside from being a 50 miler, stone cat trail races also has a marathon that starts 15 minutes later at 6:30 so all of those runners are being timely. In my head I scream a few expletives about being such a morning wreck and debate the merits of peeing on myself instead of this line… but eventually decide that running with a full bladder or wet pants for 50 miles will probably not be fun.

About 5 minutes later, I am off, joining the first of the pack into the woods. Stone Cat 50 miler consists of FOUR 12.5 mile loops. The aid stations are at mile 4 mile 7.5 and then back at 12.5. I’m used to running 20 miles with no food and water and I decide that at least for the first loop or two, I’m going to leave my handheld in my drop bag. I liked being hands free.

The first mile or so of the first loop is a bit lonely as everyone has had a 5 minute head start and I kinda enjoy the peace and quiet of it all… then I start to catch up and see a bunch of runners but none of whom look familiar and I kind of get a little more cranky.

To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of rolling single track at the start of races… I don’t run on trails often and sometimes it takes me a bit to get into them. Also, I’m not a fast runner but I’m also not a slow runner until the downhill part. So for the majority of it, I am trying to get around runners on the uphill and flat part and having panic attacks as others run around me on the downhill. And while I’m usually relatively social, I found myself in a mood. Maybe, it was subtle stress of my leg, maybe it was exhaustion, maybe it was everyone looking so at ease and me feeling the struggle of mile 1 like it was mile 31, but I was in a mood. The hard part about being in a mood is that I can’t fake being happy but I also don’t want to be a debbie downer. I am so grateful for having these trails so close by but at that point in time, I was cursing every bump, rock and root. I was just not in the mood for trails or people… or maybe anything. Maybe it was my lack of caffeine?

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Around mile 2, I saw my friend Anj and I instantly felt better. Maybe, I just needed some familiarly to comfort myself as I felt so out of place on the single track terrain. I decided to stop looking at my watch, or time, or miles and just take it step by step. So what if I had to walk every downhill, if that’s the break I needed, then I’ll take it and just run a little faster on the flat part. Many ultrarunners take walk breaks and while most don’t do them on downhills, it’s okay, I don’t have to be like all the other children… As I was working on letting go of my insecurities, I hit the first aid station at mile 4 that was playing music and full of perky, happy volunteers. I immediately downed two cups of coke, not because I was thirsty, but because I’m pretty sure I was feeling caffeine and sugar withdrawal. I didn’t really eat a breakfast even though I probably should have. In the next 3.3 miles I started to pass by more familiar faces from TARC and was finally feeling a little bit  more comfortable. I wasn’t an outsider trying to keep up. These are my people and while most of them I only see at trail races, I am constantly in awe of all their accomplishments, just like sometimes they are of mine. Our accomplishments and skills and background might be different, but we’re all here to challenge ourselves and achieve our individual goals. Maybe it was the caffeine kicking in, but in simple terms, I was finally chilling the bleep out.

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The 7.5 aid station came by quickly as I decided to pass it and hold out for the end of the loop at 12.5. Somewhere in those 5 miles there was a volunteer dressed as a clown… clowns and woods… not cool people.. not cool… I prefer the Yeti ;). It was also around this time that the faster marathons started catch up and lapping me. It’s always though on the ego when you get passed and it messed with my pacing a bit. I wanted to run faster, and keep up with them.. but I kept trying to remind myself that I got double the distance and should focus more on finishing the course versus racing others.

Before I knew it, I hit the first 12.5 miles in about 2:27 (minus my 5 lateness minutes)… a little smarter, a little slower than stone cat. I immediately changes out of my jacket and hat into a thin long sleeve. Had a few bits of pumpkin pie, some salted potatoes and moved on. My second loop was meditative… for the most part I was running alone and I liked it. I love the support and volunteers of races, but when I’m running, I like being in my own head and gazing around. Suddenly, a large portion of the terrifying single track seemed pleasant and beautiful. I went from not just chilling out, but really enjoying myself and remembering why I love trail running and ultra running. The second loop went by quickly, and I even started to pass some of those marathoners that flew past me… pacing is a skill that takes practice physically and mentally.

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As I finished my second loop at 4:53 (less 5), I saw a few more of my favorite familiar faces who were waiting to pace their friends. Then I realized, I kind of forgot to get myself a pacer… in TARC races, the 50 milers weren’t allowed to have them and in Ghost Train since you’re running 7.5 miles pack and forth, you don’t really need one on the rail trail… so it sort of slipped my mind that I might want one on my final 12.5 miles.

As I started my third loop, I started thinking whether I wanted a pacer. I was still feeling great. In fact, I was surprised by how much energy I had as I was going into the middle of my third loop. At mile 30 at ghost train, I was fading fast,, versus here, with a slower and more consistent pace, I was keeping relatively steady with my energy level. Maybe this whole pace yourself theory does have some logic. As I continued, I would sync up and chat with a few runners. I loved hearing where people run, how far, and other details. I love that you can run alone for a bit, have a nice little chat and then go back into your personal zone. When people ask if I ever get lonely running for 10 hours in the woods. The answer is no. In a world where I’m so connected via social media, and close coworker cube office environment. I cherish those moments when I’m unplugged and with nature. Plus, I know if I slow down or speed up, I can eventually find another like minded person I can chat with for a bit.

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The great and happy selfie…

On my third loop, around mile 36 just as I was thinking of how great I felt with energy, my left knee gave out. It just wouldn’t take any more running. When I got near the clown, I had to get over my fear and borrow his chair for a stretch. For the first time in a rice, I felt great, my back wasn’t hurting, my energy was on cue and only thing that was stopping me was a sharp pain in my left knee with each step. I tried to do a jog, a run walk and eventually just gave up to walking the final 2 miles of the loop. Before my sudden sharp pains, I was on cue to hitting 37.5 miles in under 7:30. Right on plan with my 10 hour goal. My actual time at loop three was 7:45 minus 5.

As I was in the zone of debating between what to do with my life… because I’m so dramatic… I mean race between loop 3 and final loop 4, I decided to sit down and grab some food. I drank a little noodle, had some hot coco and take a few steps into a warm school bathroom because even though I was running with no hydration, I was definitely downing more liquids than I needed to.

My mind was racing and I was going back and forth about whether to DNF or not. I always said I would never run on an injury. However, I figured what’s the worse that could happen. I heal fast. At this point, I still thought my injury was soft tissue. Plus at this point, I had more than 4 hours to walk my final 12.5 miles of the course. Should I really DNF because I didn’t want a slower time than my goal? That seemed silly. I was tired of DNFing for all the wrong reasons and while for the first time, I probably have a legit reason, I felt like a disappointment if I didn’t finish this one. I wanted an official 50 miler and ghost train because the loops were 15 miles, didn’t really count as one. I’m also, not sure when I’ll have the time and energy to train as hard again. This had to be it.  I grabbed my Jacket and my head lamp. I wasn’t cold. but I knew I had some serious hours and miles ahead of me if I was going to get through the final loop. I also decided to change my shoes from trail to road because they had a bit more cushion and I wanted comfort for walking vs. the protection and feed back of my Innov-8.

I was definitely not making the sunset cut-off. After chatting a little bit with my friend Mike and walking a half mile. I felt a bit less shaken and determination took over. I can finish in the time I had left and at this point, all my pride wanted was an official finish.

My final loop was a haze. Well that’s a lie. The first 8 miles of the 4.5 was a haze as I was right foot, left foot. My knee stopped hurting but the pain in my leg by the shin returned. Any down step felt like what I always imagined a kick in the balls would feel like. I started to get passed by runners I passed before and there was nothing I could do about it. I was running my own race and they had theirs. It wasn’t about others anymore, it was just me and my battle.

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At one point I saw my friend Anj on her final loop and was really excited by how great and strong she looked! She asked me to run with her, but I just couldn’t get my foot to match my energy and wish her luck on her final miles. It was also at some point that I hit my right toe straight into a rock as I was texting on my phone… and for a bit, the pain in my toe, made me forget about the pain in my left foot and I rain for a few minutes.

I made it to the final aid station with 5 miles left to the course and Tony wasn’t there. I convinced him to walk the final 5 miles with me but he couldn’t find the trailhead and said the road was too rough for our Prius. I continued and only made it half a mile before darkness took over.

The funny thing about sunset in the woods in the November… it sort of happens in a flash. One moment you’re running and you’re fine, the next you’re dependent on a headlamp that you realize has a lot less light depth than you thought before. You’re looking for the trail marks and ribbons, but none seem to be visible. Instead, as you enter single track again, you rely on your footing.. if the footing feels consistent you’re on trail, if things get a little bit more soft, less trimmed, you’re bushwhacking off trail. Amazing how much you start relying on the feel of your footing when you’re visibility is limited to a step or two in front..

For a mile or so, I felt okay… I was slowing down to make sure I was following the trail but I was okay. However, after about 20 minutes alone in darkness, I started to freak out. Out of nowhere, I heard coyotes all around me howling. Now logically, I know coyotes don’t eat people… but my brain is fried from running for 10 hours and it’s dark and I’m in the woods and I just lose it. I start freaking out that I’m lost since I haven’t seen anyone in a really long time and shouldn’t have somebody passed me by now? I try to go on, step by step and finally hit double track again. I know I still had about 2 more miles to go which at my current pace was at least 35 minutes at best.. but at least I could see where the trail was more clearly.

Suddenly, I hear women behind me. There’s two runners and two of their pacers, reminding me that I really should have picked a pacer but I just felt so guilty asking someone to walk 12.5 miles with me. It’s one thing to ask a friend to run with you, but walking? I don’t know. Anyone’s other humans! Inside, I screamed from joy, but the city road runner in me was starting to get really terrified of being alone in the woods in the dark. I couldn’t run but I was walking uphill at a much greater speed than most at this point. I used all the energy and strength to block out my pain and keep up with this pack. Two more miles, at this point, the damage to my foot was done, I just needed to get to the finish line. Being in the company of other runners for the last few miles, made them go by a lot faster than the single mile I did alone. And when I saw the field, I was in pain, but the joy of being done made me break out into a jog. I just wanted to be back in civilization and lights!

I crossed the finish line 11:42 gun time with probably 11:37 or so net time based on my Garmin.

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I found Tony right away and started to pack up all my gear as I grabbed two slices of pizza. I didn’t really eat much the whole day and got most of my energy from soda so finally chewing some food was a really treat!

The volunteers lined the finish area with light sabers and sparklers adding to the excitement of crossing the finish line.

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Instead of finishing medals, we got these awesome gym bags as our finishing prize. Not going to lie, because part of why I wanted an official finish as this bag! And also…

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and the shirts are super cute and when someone asks me about the race, i was to tell them about a finish and not a DNF.

I don’t know if I will have another 50 miler any time soon, but I know eventually I want to return to the course and run uninjured. I also don’t quite know what is happening to my leg. Based on research, I think I have a stress fracture. It’s been a week and still feel pain when I bend it. Going to the doctor this Thursday to find out the damage done before I resume my 2015 marathon goals.

Back to Back 50 miler weekends

Okay first things, I need to pimp myself. I applied to be a Rock and Blog ambassador with the Rock N Roll marathon group. And I’m trying for some brownie points, so if you have twitter and can retweet this little message that would be great!

I got a question the other day asking what I did between my double marathons and my first 50 miler as I had less than two weeks in between. Since I haven’t been best in doing weekly workout recap posts, I figured this would be a great excuse to do one.

The short answer… not much!

So let’s start from the start… one weekend, I achieved probably one of my biggest running accomplishments to date. I ran two marathons back to back in an almost equal BQ time. 3:31:31 & 3:31:40. Now my marathon PR is sub 3:22 so two run two marathons back to back less than 10 minutes from said PR was unexpected. I’m still in shock and I’ll probably write a post what I did to train eventually since it might help other runners who like me have trouble getting in their 20 + milers some weeks.

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After basking in my glow of running and realizing how much I love the marathon distance on roads… I relaxed for a few days.

On Monday and Tuesday, I did a mix of nothing, eating and more nothing. I went to work and did a little bit of more nothing. Do you realize how many TV shows I could be watching if I didn’t run… a ton. I hate taking two rest days back to back, but I got caught up in work and life things and decided that I needed to give my body recovery time.

Wednesday, I finally gave my body a run. 9.1 Miles. It ended up being an 8:09 pace… which for me after two days of rest, felt harder than usual.

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Thursday-Monday... I went on vacation… and I packed my running shoes and my running clothes… and I never unpacked them until I got home. Yes, I could have found time for at least a 30 minute run, but I decided to take my vacation as a vacation from literally everything. I don’t think I’ve ever done such a great job of nothing doing much.

Vacation Recap to Jamaica is up! 

I returned home on Monday at midnight and at 6AM Tuesday, I woke up, excited to be back in the Fall weather and went for a run.

Tuesday – I went for the same 9.1 mile run, I went before Jamaica, only this time, my pace was 7:51 while keeping it easy. Same path, same annoying car lights, same time. Looks like vacation and rest healed me up.

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Wednesday – 6.33  miles 7:38 pace on a treadmill

Thursday 5 miles 7:13 pace on a treadmill

Friday – Rest day

And of course Friday is some carboloading with this baller pizza we made at home.

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It’s an ugly photo, but it was delicious. Taco seasoned ground turkey and extra sauce!

As I went from two major endurance weekends, I skipped all strength workouts. I would have loved to attend my favorite tabata class, or do a Jillian Michaels DVD, but my muscles take forever to recover and I’m usually sore for days. So I decided, to sacrifice my muscles and avoid any strength workout that would tempt me. It just takes too big of a toll on my body and I wanted to save my strength for recovery.

Saturday – 9 hours 48 minutes Ghost Train 50 Miler… recap to come! Maybe next week.

Before every race, I like to take a full rest day. I don’t know if there’s physically benefits of taking a rest day vs doing a 2 mile shake up run that some people like. However, personally, skipping that day, helps me out mentally. It prepares me to be excited to run on race day, instead of feeling repetitive. I also try to run at least 20 miles the week of my race. I tried a complete taper of where I run a handful of miles the week of a race and it just makes me feel sluggish.

So there, my recipes of what I did. Maybe this will work for me tomorrow as I attempt on another 50 miler… Stonecat… I can’t make any big promises… but I can only try.

QOTD

Tell me what your weekend plans are. I have a race Saturday and Sunday night I’m going to a birthday party

Skechers Motvations to Run – My Motivation to Run

Today’s post is sponsored by Skechers. I was given the opportunity to try their shoes in support of the fight to end breast cancer. All opinions are my own.

A lot of times when we talk about running and health we tend to focus on the physical aspect of health when by now we already know it’s so much more than that. Yes, running improves your physical health. No, you don’t need to run for hours to get that benefit. A simple 30 minute walk or run a few times a week can be more than enough. Simply put, physical activity can improve your physical health.

However, I’m going to share my number one reason for running and that’s my mental health.

Growing up, I wasn’t the most confident kid. I wasn’t exactly shy, but something was missing. Yes, as puberty hits and we go through teen angst, many of us were awkward in those years. However, I always felt like I was lacking some self assurance. Something to push me to go after things I want. I was simply complacent just existing. Which is okay for a while, but looking back, it’s not how I want to live my life.

Luckily, running gives me confidence in a way nothing else can do in my day. It doesn’t matter the pace, it doesn’t matter the distance, as soon as I step outside, I feel reassured with myself and the world. It never really matters whether I’ve done a mile or 30, I feel accomplished for the day even if it’s a small part of that day. It’s probably why I can’t say any run is truly terrible, even if I didn’t meet all my goals.

The great part about running is that it can work whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert. If you’re an introvert, it’s a perfect excuse to go out alone for hours stuck inside your own head. If you’re an extrovert, well there’s so many running clubs out there, that you can talk you head of countless myself.

Yes, I call myself a runner and although it’s not an exclusive club, I say it with pride. It’s who I am and that knowledge and feeling builds confidence into other aspects of my life. Conquering physical obstacles reminds me that I can handle other challenges in my life whether it be a tough day at work or a hellish commute or a difficult person I might have to deal with. I know in the grand scheme of things, the challenges I faced aren’t as big as the challenges being faced in families with cancer, but running helps me and I hope it can help them too.

On Thursday, I took a 5 mile taper run in my new Skechers GOrun 3 – Awareness shoes. Designed with innovative performance technology, the GOrun 3 celebrates anyone who uses sports and fitness to lead a healthy and fit lifestyle. We already know that I like Skechers GoMeb for racing, so I was curious to find a shoe I can use for my easy runs and walks.

Skechers Go RUn 3 (2)

Designed for speed with innovative performance technologies to promote a midfoot strike, it fosters a barefoot running experience while offering cushioning and impact protection.

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These shoes offer a good combination of support on a fairly light shoe. Additionally they also offer the following:

  • Improved breathability and flexibility
  • Roomy forefoot. 3 layer Power-prene mesh on front panel allows for support while offering ample room for toe splay
  • GOimpulse sensors offer flexibility and feedback for a responsive running experience
  • M-Strike Technology™ promotes a midfoot strike
  • Custom Fit insole is removable for an even more minimal feel
  • 4mm Heel Drop to bring you closer to a natural barefoot experience
  • Resalyte™ Midsole – Proprietary lightweight injection-molded compound with memory retention helps absorb impact
  • Nearly seamless flexible mesh upper with lace up front

Skechers Go RUn 3 (3)

Skechers Performance Division proudly supports American Cancer Society in the fight against breast cancer with a special collection of products that includes the GoRun3 and so much much more. All produces are designed with innovative performance materials and technologies and celebrates those who use sports and fitness to lead an active, healthy lifestyle.

Furthermore Skechers Performance is joining American Cancer Society in the fight to end breast cancer. Skechers Performance Division’s support will help the American Cancer Society continue to invest in ground breaking research, provide comprehensive support to people diagnosed with breast cancer, and advocate for laws that ensure access for women who need it so more lives are saved.

In addition to the “Awareness” footwear and apparel line, Skechers Performance Division supporting American Cancer Society in several ways:

  1. Skechers Performance Division is offering a donation to American Cancer Society, and all of the Skechers Performance Division Awareness apparel and footwear will feature the ACS logo and messaging.

  2. Skechers is hosting the American Cancer Society San Francisco Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, and will be donating a percentage of proceeds from the sales of Skechers shoes on-site that day.

  3. Additionally, Skechers is launching a register round-up program in Skechers Retail stores in which customers can round up their purchase to the nearest whole dollar to benefit American Cancer Society for the entire month of October. If consumers donate $5 or more, they will also receive a 20% off discount for their next visit. This will offer anyone shopping for any item in a Skechers retailer store the opportunity to give back and support the cause.

  4. Furthermore, Skechers Retail stores are offering a gift with purchase for customers who purchase a pair of limited-edition Awareness shoes. The gift with purchase will be either a breast canvas awareness canvas tote back or a pink water bottle.

So if you are looking for a really great shoe that is super comfortable, supports a GREAT cause and looks pretty cute, I suggest you check out the Skechers Performance Division line.

QOTD

What motivates you to run?