2014 Boston Marathon Race Recap

Monday was an epic day. Those are probably the best words out there to describe the whole seen. Actually this article sums up everything I felt and saw down to every last word. It’s like he went into my head and wrote from there.

The whole weekend I had grave anxiety. It started with the Boston Marathon Expo. Normally, I go at noon during my lunch break, pick up my bib and go home. This time, I got there at 12:02 th an expo that opened at 12:00 and waited over 30 minutes in one of the biggest but most orderly lines ever.

Boston Marathon Expo

I walked around the expo stopping by to stay hello to some of my favorites, Sketchers, Level Renner, Energybits and UCan (which I’m excited to try since I heard awesome things from my trail running friends). I also stopped by the Sam Adams booth for a 26.2 tasting. The energy level was high, but so were the crowds.

Boston Expo Beer

After somehow finding an exit out of the expo, I made my way back to work with a short bit stop by Boston Old South Church to be scarfed up.

Liana with scarf

Not the sexiest photo of my face, but be grateful there’s no boogies. The church received over 7,000 of these scarf donations for the runners from all over the world. Each one is uniquely handmade and beautiful.

Jack Scarf

Then on Sunday night, I randomly decided to stop by the pre-race pasta dinner. I don’t usually do the dinner, but I wanted to pick up the dessert. In the past, the lines for the dessert and dinner were separate. This time it was one line. I got there around 5PM and barely moved by 5:30 before giving up. The line was going all around Government Center for blocks on end. At this point, after seeing the crowd, I gave up any of hope of being able to even run a mile with the crowds.

Boston Marathon Pasta Dinner Line

On Sunday night after Easter and giving up on spotting running celebrities on the pasta line, I kicked back and prepped my breakfast and outfit. Two slices of bread, generous serving of peanut butter and a bottle of water. I packed a Hammer gel, 5 salt tabs, Imodium (just in case!) and my ID so I can get into my office to shower and change. I declined a glass of wine for dinner and went to sleep.

Marathon Outfit

When you live in a house with two cats, there’s very few things you can do without a ginger in your photo.

When I think about Boston, it always seems like a bit of an ordeal, from the buses, village, the slight hike to the starting line. Yet it always happens so fast and before I know it, it’s just another blurry memory.

The bundle of prerace nerves barely woke me up this time. I woke up at 6:30, only 30 minutes before my 7am alarm. Since I was planning on eating my breakfast on the bus, all I really had to do was get dressed. So I lazed around in bed a bit like it was any other Monday.

Luckily, Tony checked traffic before we were about to leave, because a giant trail flipped over and exploded on 93, but luckily for us (not the unfortunate drivers in the accident) we took an alternative route. We got to the buses in downtown Boston in 25 minutes vs expected 20 at around 8am.

Boston Marathon Bus loadingThis time instead of the buses being a mess of crazy lines, each a separate entity, it seem almost empty. The photo makes it look busy, but I think a lot of those are runners’ friends and family saying goodbye and wishing their friends luck. Maybe everyone decided to be an early bird. Then, I found the golden and blue arch or metal detectors as you may call them. The entry to the buses only had one access point and a small line was gathered as volunteers checked that no one has any bags, or sleeping bags or something “suspicious” looking. The whole process took maybe a minute and I was on a bus in about 5 minutes tops.

What did take a while was getting our bus full enough to leave. Where have all the runners gone? I sat there for about 15 minutes before we were full and had the green flag wave us out. The bus pick up volunteers did an amazing job on what I expected to be a zoo!

On the bus, I was a white bib in a sea of blues and yellows and I started to doubt my decision. Last night I was convinced I was okay with starting in the third wave, since my corral was in the back of the second wave. Better than waiting; however, everything changes the morning of when prerace jitters make you doubt everything!

The ride to the village was an unusually slow one. For some unknown reason, traffic built up on the Mass pike heading out of Boston and according to Waze, there was an accident. Everyone around me chatted excitedly as we all bragged or mumbled how many Boston’s or New Yorks or other marathons everyone’s done. I wondered are these my people? Are trail runners my people? Who am I and other existential thoughts. Luckily before my brain went into a song of I don’t belong here, I started chatting with a very friendly woman whose done 27 New Yorks! Runners, no matter what type, all love geeking out on running. 

And just like that, before I knew it, traffic opened up and we were turning into the Hopkington exit, a monstrous wave of every school bus in the state! I got off the bus at 9:36 (about 30 minutes later than planned due to traffic) and scurried of to find the entrance and corrals!

I was in my hobo outfit that was carefully selected from everything Tony would like to never see again. I shed a tear for my valour pants! However, within a minute I was immediately sweating as 40 degree weather seemed to have come and gone!

Boston Marathon Hobo OutfitWe walked through another golden and blue arch/metal detectors with a volunteering glancing that we all had bib numbers. Could you have sneaked in? My thoughts probably yes, but with all the marine and military volunteers at the village, I personally wouldn’t risk it.

Boston Marathon VillageWhen I got to the corral entrance, they were only letting in red bibs and then a terrible announcement was made. They claimed there was no bathrooms once we exit the village into the trail of corrals. I debated peeing in my skirt and quickly went to go look for a bush or a portapotty. That’s when I finally got a good look at the village and realized no one was sitting and relaxing, everyone was on the longest bathroom lines I’ve ever seen! I got on and one and waited for. 20 minutes barely making a dent. Luckily, a few people in the front let me go in front of them so I only waited another 10 minutes before running to my corrals just as they were planning on closing them.

I exit the village and what do I see? The bathrooms they claimed wouldn’t be there. I give out a yelp of exasperation and scurry on to try to find the 6th corral.

I walk by the usual. The friendly tent with sunscreen, gels, hair elastics and any other last minute goodies you could need. Next is the tent of drink men pushing beer and bagels in our face (that I’m sure are in good nature). I hear them saying 30 seconds to gun time just as I contemplate a second layer of sunblock and decide I ain’t got time for that. How bad could the sun be when my heating oil is still burning every night?

Hopkinton BeerAnd just like that we are off like cattle!

I’m not going to break up the course mile by miles since I already did that before. The elevation and the course hasn’t changed since I studied it mile by mile earlier in the week.

The only time I felt crowded during the race was the first four miles. I couldn’t pick up my speed above 7:45 where as last year I was around 7:15 minute miles. However, slowing down allowed me to notice more about my surroundings.Boston Marathon 2014 (2)

Like all the guides running with blind runners zooming by, or the kid on crutches that I was terrified would get trampled.

Boston Marathon 2014 (3)

I could feel the heat of the run and the drench of sweat already starting. Luckily, I wasn’t too frustrated with the slow down pace since I expected it and figured it was probably a good idea with the weather soaring past the 60s and up into the 70s. I had a long way to go before a friendly face.

Immediately, you’ll notice crowds building up along the curb early on in the race where it used to be scarce in years before. Anyone, whose anyone and was within proximity wanted to see part of the race. The kids and their orange slice, the adults cheering on. It was incredible!

Boston Marathon 2014 (5)

My friend took this incredible photo at mile 11!

I started sucking up salt tabs and water every 30 minutes pretty early in the race. I usually race without food or water, but today it was just too hot for me, to try otherwise. I could feel my body burning up and I slowed down my effort. Emotionally, with the pressure of trying to train for a PR, it was hard to allow myself to slow down, but I learned the lesson on what happens if you don’t in 2012.

After mile 13 or so, I started dumping water over my head every other water stop. If I saw a kid with a cup of ice, bless his heart, I wanted to hug them. Slowly but surely, I moved on! I tried to push my pace, but slowing down every time my head would get dizzy.

At mile 15, I saw a friend volunteering at the water station as I hugged her in the joy and hallucinations of seeing a friendly face again. I was dying of thirst again!

The only funny part is, that despite the heat and how much struggle I felt during the race, the hills felt smaller and shorter than ever before?

Boston Marathon 2014 (4)

Another friend got this wonder of me taking a little walking break as I look for water! You have to be very careful and not confuse them with Gatorade, as I imagine a cup of that over your head would be awful.

Despite how difficult the second half the course is, it’s always my favorite. This is where I run from left to right looking for all my favorite faces! Since security was so tight and no one was allowed to cross the route of the runners, it was a mystery of where I would find anyone. I almost ran past Tony and my brother and some of our friends. Well I actually did run past them and waved when I heard my name. I was too tired and delirious to run back the few steps. I’ve given up my goal A and goal B, but I was still focused on my goal C!

Boston Marathon 2014 (1)

The last 5K is the biggest blur of it all. Suddenly hills seemed to pop out where I don’t remember there being any. The tunnel on Comm Ave under mass ave felt like a mountain. People around me are collapsing from heat exhaustion just minutes away from the finish line. I look at my Garmin and see 3:31 just minutes below my goal C. I dig deep and begin to focus. No more walking breaks, no more jogging. The crowds on Bolyston are screaming at a new level but I don’t hear any of it. All I can focus on is the golden blue arch  that stands between me and a shaded place to sit. I must go under. And within a minute, it’s all quiet.

I’m finished and so did hundreds of runners in front of me who were just sprinting moments ago. Except now, they all seem to have forgotten how to walk and keep moving. I crossed the finish line just as they were announcing that Meb, an American won the race and that Rita Jeptoo broke the course record! The walk to exit the finish line feels forever and the medics with their wheel chairs are always so tempting. My head is spinning and I think about taking a seat down, no one will notice, I don’t have to tell anyone. Instead, I just ask a medic for a water, because my whole body feels on fire and I didn’t think I could make the walk past the blankets, and the runners who can barely take a step forward without it. With water in my hand, I zoombie crawl on for my silver cape, my baggy of food and the glorious shade on a side street.

photo 2 (4)

Total Net Time: 3:33:56

Overall Place: 10,509

Gender Place: 2678

Division: 1969

It wasn’t my best Boston, nor my worse, but I’m already looking forward and counting the days until 2015.

Weekly Recap – Little Rock Faper and a Forced Slow Down

I’ve been on a roll lately, race or not, I’ve been keeping my mileage high and feeling great. Of course eventually all good things come to an end. I generally try to schedule in down weeks and rest days but sometimes I get over excited with the endorphins and run on. I guess something like that must have happened because now I’m tenderly taking a few days off due to what I think is a strain. Basically the part where my foot meets my leg in the front is very cranky. It got cranky enough that I had to call my favorite driving half to come pick me up mid run! Anyways I spent the day icing and elevating and it’s feeling better to I’m only in semi panic mood.

Anyways, I’m behind on two weeks of recaps so let’s get this in the books.

The week of Little Rock marathon was a slow week but only because I needed a rest day from my 35 mile weekend and I spent 2 days in a car for the drive to Little Rock.

Monday 6.5 Miles
I was going for an easy 4 miler or so but I got really into my episode of Doctor Who and before I knew it I was past 10K at average pace of 7:50

Tuesday Rest
Because I really should have taken my rest day on Monday

Wednesday 11.15 Miles
2 part run with 8 miles 7:34 pace on incline 2 and a short 5K in the evening at 7:26 pace.

Thursday 8 Miles
Progressive run on incline 3 while rocking out to the new Glee episode with Adam Lambert. Average pace ended up being 8:01!

Friday, Saturday – Road Trip Fun

Sunday – 26.2 Epic Little Rock Marathon

Total Mileage – 52 Miles

Total Feelings – Running on Happy

 

My week after Little Rock was anything but recovery. Although it didn’t feel like a mistake, it probably was.

Monday – Rest/drive back to Boston

Tuesday – 6.5 Miles
I was going to run only a few miles, but I was so happy to be back running and not traveling that I kept running a little further than I should.

Wednesday – 14.3 
After Little Rock I was feeling great and wanted to keep upping my mileage. 8 miles at even 7:36 pace on incline 2 and 6.3 miles later in the evening at 7:37 while watching Nashville.

Thursday – 8 Miles
8:10 on incline 3

Friday – 8 Miles
7:47 Pace on incline 2

Saturday – 6.25 Miles
8:33 Pace. I was going to do a long run but my effort was all off. My path that I usual run 7:30s on were turning into 9 min miles and so I cut my run short. Nothing hurt at this point but I sensed an overall fatigue.

Sunday – 11.13 Miles
This run actually started of fabulous. Cutting my run short on Saturday seemed to add an extra kick to my run! And then around mile 10 I started to feel a pain in my lower shin or top of foot and within a mile I could barely walk. I didn’t fall or trip or anything weird, so the only thing I could think that caused the strain might be the hoping over puddles and mud craps from all the snow in my area. Either way, I stopped my Garmin around 11 mile mark when my average pace was still 7:57 and tried to walk my way home. About a mile away I got picked up where I iced and rested my foot and thus my little drama fest began.

Total Miles – 54 Miles

Total Feelings – Injured =(

2014 Little Rock Marathon Race Report

As far as I can tell, Little Rock Marathon is known for two things, a running theme and a big A$$ medal.

The theme for this race was EPIC…

Epic

There was promises of everyone dressing up as Superheroes and just busting out 26.2 miles in costume for a medal as big as a pie.

So of course when my friends signed up and said they’re driving the 22+ hours to Little Rock, I jumped right into their trip. Tony declined due to lack of vacation days and of course left me to be the third wheel. The journey to Little Rock was just as Epic as the race, but I’ll save the details for another post.

Expo – I don’t have a write up of the expo because we never made it. I heard they had massage tables and blah blah usual expo stuff. Little Rock marathon does not allow race day pick up which is a little annoying, but luckily, we were allowed to fill out a waiver selling our souls to have a friend pick up our numbers.

We stayed at La Quinta, about a mile from the race start. I’ve never stayed at a La Quinta before and I plan on never ever again. First of all, I didn’t know they still had smoking rooms in hotels anymore in the US. And if they did, the hotel of course always disclosed that those were the only ones available. So yea, we were on a smoking floor with 100+ pissed off runners that will probably never stay in a La Quinta again as well. No apologies, no options, nothing but a smelly room on a smelly floor. At 10PM an employee comes to our room offering to shuttle us to another location 30 minute drive away for a smoke free room. Lady! we booked this hotel because it’s a mile from the starting line, we have an 8AM marathon and getting ready to pass out, no a shuttle to a remote place miles away in the middle of the night will not remedy this mess. We declined and attempted to sleep.

Night before race meal – I actually believe that what you eat the night before is way more important than race morning. However, we got into the hotel pretty late and our nearby options were pretty limited by 9PM. We went to a place called Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches, a chain, but our other option was Taco Bell. I got an Italian sub which is probably something I should never do outside the east coast. I’m pretty sure my bread had freezer burn. Subway would have been 5 star dining in comparison.

Race Morning – I woke up feeling like crap. We had the AC blasting to make the room less stuffy from the smell; unfortunately, that also meant we were freezing the whole night. I had phlegm upon layer of phlegm in my throat with my head stuffed up to another planet.

I had two pieces of toast with peanut butter and a cup of tea. My usual long run routine. It always works and no matter how appealing the waffle maker looked at the breakfast buffet, I decided to really not risk it, particularly with last night’s “dinner” still floating in my belly.

I know this seems like a pretty negative trip, but the drive up was a blast! Stay tune for that post for some positivity!

Anyways back to the race! We said goodbye to some of our friends in the hotel and went up to finish getting dressed. I originally planned to run in a skirt, tshirt, arm sleeves and calf sleeves, but upon seeing the temperature be 10 degrees colder than I thought it would be the night before, I flipped my plans.

Little Rock Driving Team

I ended up wearing capris, shirt, long sleeve, cap, and wright socks. The only thing that I would have switched would be a windbreaking/rain shelter instead of a long sleeve. I don’t think it was that cold for running (my body is used to 15 degree runs by now), but the long sleeve soaked up a lot more water than a windbreaking/ rain shelter would. However, I stupidly decided to not pack my Boston jacket moments before leaving my house for the trip. Stupid Liana, stupid Liana.

The weather was miserable. The forecast got worse and worse with every hour. It was about 52 at the race start and probably 36 degrees by the end of the race. I’ve never ran in dropping temps before so trying to plan for that was a challenge. It almost seemed like a cruel joke when as soon as the race started at 8AM it began to pour.

Although I was grateful that on my walk over it wasn’t raining. All I asked from the rain gods was to let me make it to the starting line dry, and they held off just long enough.

The corrals went from A-M with about 15,000 runners between the 10K, Half marathon, Full Marathon. It actually took a lot of effort to make it up the crowd to the start of our corrals. I was in B, while my friends were in A, C & D.

Luckily, Heather was also in corral B so I got to meet her IRL (in real life)! She and her friend were running the half marathon and my plan was to stick with them for as long as I can. They were running a 1:40 which was a bit fast for me, but the weather was so miserable that I wanted some company for the first leg of the run. I did stick with them for the first 10K, but by mile 7 I decided I should slow down with the hills if I planned on making it through the marathon without feeling like death afterwards.

Little Rock Meeting Heather

As I mentioned in my goals and expectation post, I decided to treat this marathon as a long training run for Boston. That meant holding myself back to 80% effort instead of race pace. It meant letting people pass me (although that happens all the time) and still holding myself back even if I felt like I could push more.

To slow myself down, I took some photos along the course when the rain would calm down in bits. After losing my phone, I wasn’t really wanting to break my new one.

Little Rock Scenes 2

The first few miles are flat, if not on a decline, but after mile 6 the hills start rolling, rolling!

Overall, I think the marathon would have been a blast. Sadly because of the weather none of the bands came out and the crowd support was almost non-existent. The volunteers however, were amazing. They were so supportive and great even though I could tell they were freezing and shaking from the cold. When I ran Hyannis in similar conditions last year in Massachusetts all the volunteers ditched the course after the half marathon, so I was so impressed with these cold shaking souls out there cheering and helping us runners out there!

Is Little Rock Scenic?

To be honest, I don’t think there’s much to look at along the course of Little Rock, although I rarely see scenic road marathons. I felt like we ran through either industrial roads, and something that looked like a bike path of some sort.

Little Rock Course

This was the one scenic part of the course and one of the rare flat spots. We also ran by a few blocks of some nice houses.

Is the course hilly?

Hilliness is in the eye of the shoe-wearer, but I’d say yes, compared to most road marathons, this is a hilly monster. Although never quite steep, it has several slowly inclined rollers with a massive hill climb for about Mile 15-17. But what goes up, must go down and I love blazing down the hill.

Little Rock Elevation

My Personal Performance 

I kinda had a few numbers in mind, but the main one was 3:35. It’s the BQ for my age group and I feel like if I’m going to pay for a race, I should at least race for a BQ since that’s currently within my capabilities.

I finished in 3:34:18 so maybe a little predetermined destiny right there? I know I took it way easier than ever before after mile 20. Part of it was trying not to injury myself, the second part might have been that mentally I was wearing down. It seemed that after the 20 miler mark, each mile was further and further! Particularly mile 22 that my watch clocked in at 1.20!

My legs felt sluggish and I think sitting in a car for 22 hours played a role on it. I’m not a tapered runner since I perform better on high mileage so the two-day sitting break made me feel sluggish. Or maybe my body was still recovering from the long runs I did back to 7 days ago. Or maybe it was the weather? Nah, the weather been perfect, I doubt I would have ran faster. If anything miserable weather made me run faster to get it over with!

Splits

I also shared my splits from NOLA on my Facebook page. I guess for me, no matter what pace I start at, I am a big positive splitter. It’s a mental weakness I have that I’m trying to train through. The best race approach for me is to just run as hard and fast as I can for as long as I can since the exponential slow down is inevitable.

My Results

Time 3:34:18
Overall  165/1,750
Gender 29/778
Division 10/87

My Race Fuel 

I ran with salt tabs, a hammer gel and my phone but I ended up using none of it. I saw lots of bananas, oranges, GUs along the course, but I was too cold for any snack breaks. I don’t think I stopped for water until mile 24. I was just too cold to feel thirsty or hungry for most of the race. If you’re a runner who uses fuel on a course, there’s definitely lots and lots of it provided for you.

The Finish Line 

The finish line was a blur. I saw the poor shaking volunteers trying to get the blankets of the rollers with difficulty. I stood on a line for a while shaking since they seem to be having difficulties. By the time I got a marathon blanket I couldn’t understand where I was and what direction to go to get back to the hotel. As I contemplated crawling under a fence, I bumped into my friend Dave who pointed me in the right direction and took this gem of a photo!

Little Rock LIana

The volunteers didn’t give me anything to fasten my blanket so it kept flying around me! At one point my head was lost in it!

The food past the finish line was bananas, lots of little debbie unhealthy treats, I think I even saw a twinkies haha. I grabbed a banana, pretzels and a brownie and tried to make my way towards the hotel. I really wish they had a bag there so I could have been more thoughtful in what I grabbed.

I wasn’t making it very far in my goal to reach the hotel. I kept going inside anywhere I could for warmth after every block. I silently thanked every business that didn’t try to kick me out since I was soaked and not buying anything. I made it a half mile before I found an expo looking building and I went inside to try to get warm. I washed my face with warm water and tried to stop shaking.

I’m never in pain running a marathon, but those moments after the finish line when my body temperatures starts to plummet are the worse for me.

Luckily as I contemplated hitchhiking a ride back to the hotel room (it was .7 miles away and I had no money) my friend called me up and asked if I needed anything from our hotel room. YES!!! So instead of hitchhiking a ride from some stranger that could kill me and dump my body by whatever park I ran by, I ate some more of my brownie. I ended up giving away the banana and pretzels because I had no will to carry them. I wanted to use my hands to hold my blanket as tight around me as possible.

Once I got my change of clothes from my friend, the world seemed like a less cruel cold of a place again.

Little Rock Marathon Overall Thoughts; Would I Ever Run This Again?

Aside from the crazy medal and the amazing volunteer support, there’s nothing in this race that would make me do it again. It’s a bucket list race for the medal. I think I paid $100 in race fees which makes it a relatively high race fee since that’s what I paid months in advance.

As far as I know, this race has been happening for over a decade. Frankly I think the race organizers should have had this shit together instead of making excuses. Honestly, I think if they just apologized, people would get less pissed but I’ll get to that later.

First the corral system while great in theory is a little wacky. There were 13 corrals with a few minutes before each corral would start. I heard it took some people 40 minutes to start. I was lucky, I was in corral B, so I got to start 3-4 minutes after the gun, which I’ve never done before. Usually I’m about 15 seconds behind gun time. I get that they are trying to do crowd control but I think maybe having different start times for the 10K and maybe even the half marathon than the marathon would be more effective than having runners wait 40 minutes in their corrals to start. Had I been one of those runners, I would have been a much crankier Liana.

6AM walkers… now first let me start by saying that I love LOVE an event that’s welcoming and encouraging to anyone to do a marathon. I think its amazing when an event will support anyone, any pace to try to complete a marathon. I have more respect for the 8 hour marathons than I do for a lot of the middle of the pack. You guys are amazing. However, the merge between the runners and the walkers is clumsy at best. For the most part, I didn’t have much of an issue until after mile 21 when the cross got more narrow and the walkers would be walking in a line with giant tutus. Merging and running around people is not something my tired legs wanted to be doing at mile 24. Maybe this is a race etiquette issue.

Now to the biggest issue of them all – rerouting, cancellation and whatever you want to call it. I want to preface with that I was lucky enough to finish without any issues but 2 out of the 5 runners in our little Massachusetts group were faced with this issue. Had I been in their position, I hope I would have been strong enough to say no and kept running like they did.

The race directors claimed the race was never canceled and that the runners were just given a rerouting option due to the storm getting stronger. However, Volunteers held up signs that read, “Event Alert System: Extreme. Event Cancelled.” This started occurring around the 23 mile mark for four-hour marathoners! Race participants were told by KARK police that the course had been closed. They were all pushed off the roads and told to stop running. Many runners at mile 18 were rerouted to a Walmart location on Cantrell where a bus that never came was supposed to pick them up.

Some were rerouted towards the finish line cutting the course short with a faster time. Basically the overall results of the race are a wreck! I’m not sure what the BAA will have to say about anyone whose relying on their BQ from this race but I wish them the best of luck.

That being said, I did have an EPIC time! The volunteers and my fellow runners made it epic even if the race directors could use a course in organization and communication. The race was even more EPIC because of these cool kids.

Little Rock MA Gangsta

2014 RnR NOLA Marathon Race Report

The Rock n Roll New Orleans marathon was held on Sunday February 2nd. Both the full and half marathon started at 7AM. The race had about 10,000 half marathons and 3,000 full marathoners that ran and finished, I don’t remember the cost of it because we signed up probably a year ago to get the best deal, but I can tell you it wasn’t cheap.

Expo

There’s no same day number pick up, so we got to New Orleans on Saturday. The expo was your typical Rock n Roll expo. Huge Brooks area, some local running store, and your usual socks/headbands/running stuff etc. etc. etc. Sometimes, I like to walk around the expo and stop by my favorites and restock on Nuun, but I had all our lugguage with me so we kept it short. Number picked up, empty swag bag check, t-shirt scored and out the door we went.

I did manage to somehow register myself using my last name as both my first and last name. Luckily, the RnR people cleared my issue up in 2 minutes.

The Start

There’s a lot of things I didn’t really like about the start and finish of the race. The race starts and ends miles apart and that involved some tricky logistics if you’re not from around the area. From what I understood (I could be wrong) there were limited free parking options since the race started downtown. Instead you could pay $10 to the competitor group in addition to your race fee. Now that you paid for parking, you could get a shuttle from the race finish back to your car, but this shuttle pass was only good for the driver and anyone else in your carpool had to pay $5 or something for the shuttle. We ended up not using any of these options because it all seemed too complicated. Plus, we decided on not renting a car for the race weekend.

Instead we ended up getting an AirBnB place that was within a mile of the finish line. We got a cab for 6:30 AM to drop us off at the race start. We probably should have left for the start of the race a little earlier, but I like to cut it close.

Cab driver – “So they paying you to run”

Me – “No we pay them to run”

Cab driver – “How long a marathon?”

Me – “26.2 Miles”

Cab driver – “Louisiana ain’t that wide”

When I got to the start, I couldn’t find the bag check area, so finally I hopped into the elite area until someone pointed me to the trucks. Found them, checked our stuff, and sped walked to try to get into corral 1, just as the gun went off.

I started 20 seconds after gun time, so talk about cutting it close!

The Course

RnR Nola Map

Not sure if the map shows it well, but the course kind of goes in and out for both the first half and the second half of the marathon. We ran through a lot of construction and unexciting areas. Since I was pretty focused on running, I didn’t take in the sights to the same extent I would otherwise.

I can break up the race into 3 stages

Mile 1-13 This is the first out and back loop that ends around city park. It was super flat with no wind. There were a lot of misty sections with limited visibility. I ran it in 1:34 or so. I would say, this was my favorite part of the course and that I had a ton of fun on it.

photo 1 (6)

Miles 14-20 This felt like absolutely hell. It wasn’t that the course got crazy hilly, but compared to the flatness and no wind of the first half, any gain in incline, felt magnified. I don’t know the speed of the wind, but it felt like a hurricane as it went against me. It was also around mile 14 that it started raining!

photo 2 (6)

The scenery after mile 14 or so got more boring than even before. It was all concrete, concrete with nothing to look at. These felt like slow painful miles, where I started to settle down my goals. Before, I was running well ahead of the 3:15 pace group, but by mile 16, they passed me. I also ran for the first two hours without headphones, but as I started to lose the 3:15 pace group, I decided that I needed some music.

Speaking of music, I don’t know if it was the rain or what, but I saw almost no live bands on the course? They just had speakers that felt like they played the same 3 songs over and over again. I’ve done a handful of RnR races, and they always have bands, so I don’t know what went wrong here. Maybe the 7AM start?

Mile 20-26.2 At mile 20, I made my video on instagram to entertain myself from the pain of the past few miles. Luckily, as we turned around to head back to City Park Finish line, it got easier. It still felt like rolling hills, but this time the wind was with me, instead of against me and that made all the difference in the world. By mile 22, I realized, I could PR, or least come darn close to it. I was in pain, but I sucked it in, and tried to ignore it. I told myself that if I ran faster, the pain would end sooner. I would tell myself, walk break at the next mile, and then I would keep running and say to myself walk break at the next half mile, and so on. I would end up not taking that walk break, because I didn’t need to! However, this little compromise with myself gave me something to look forward to.

photo 3 (5)

Before I knew it, when my legs wanted to collapse on the side of the road, I started to see the white barricades indicating the finish is soon. I looked behind me to see if I was racing anyone near by, and there was no one there. Then I looked at the clock and decided to give a kick to shave off as many seconds as I could.

Nola Results pretty

My Fueling and Pacing

I tend to not eat or drink a lot before or during the race. It works for me. In the morning I ate one slice of some crappy Walgreens bread with Jiff peanut butter. Tony made coffee so I drank some of that and ate some chocolate. I also took an Imodium because I got lucky enough to get my period day before and it always makes my stomach weird (TMI, but o well deal with it boys). I did try to drink some water as well before the race start.

I packed with me a Hammer gel and 4 salts tabs in case I dropped one. There was a water stop every mile or so and I probably stopped a total of 2-3 times max to grab half a cup. I don’t carry water with me on my long runs, so race day isn’t too different for me.

Liana Flat Outfit

Can you tell I have some favorites when I race? I have a whole dresser devoted to running clothes, but I rotate only my specials when it comes to racing.

I ended up not using any gels, or salt tabs either because I was worried if I took the time to stop, I wouldn’t want to keep running, so I just tried to stay in the moment and run like a Kenyan. Thinking back, I probably should have taken a salt tab or two, it might have made my legs feel less cramped.

As for pacing strategy, I went back to my master of positive splits. I tried starting slow and saving energy for second half, but I find that boring, and mentally draining that it kills my second half of the race for me. Instead, I run as strong as I can for as long as I can. It’s not quite sprinting, but probably around 75% effort. I’m glad that I went with how I felt vs. a more traditional pacing myself strategy. I got to bank in some time at the start, and take it a little easier on the middle windy section.

Nola Results

Would I do this race again? 

It’s hard to say. While I didn’t think we ran by anything that exciting on the course, it’s a great excuse to visit New Orleans. Also, it’s a flat and fast course and if it wasn’t for the travel, I would love to see how hard I can push each year on it. So most likely, I wouldn’t run this race again, but only because I want to try so many new courses!

Overall, Tony and I had a blast. I walked away with a 2 min 30 second PR, and he walked away with a 10 minute PR on almost no training. In fact, if I told you his training, you would want to smack him and tell him life is unfair.

stylin

#RnRNola Marathon – Thoughts and Expectations

In about 4 days I will once again toe that line. The line that starts the journey of 26.2 and beyond before it ends. Between the spring and the fall I’ve gotten very comfortable racing. My 50 miler training last year made it really easy to bang out a marathon and a 20 miler in one weekend. Okay, maybe not easy, but it got done with a sub 4 hour marathon. Winter training has been a brutal story this year. This will be my 3rd winter running and the coldest, iciest yet. To be honest, I don’t know what to expect in New Orleans, I know I’ll finish, but how the journey happens, I’ll have to wait until Sunday to find out.

photo (2)

Advantages

  • This is a flat course which makes it easier than say a hilly course.
  • It’s going to be nice and warm, reaching up to the 70s
  • I ran four 20 milers in the past month
  • I’ve been having some killer tempo runs

Disadvantages

  • It’s going to be nice and warm reaching into the 70s which might feel like 100 degrees for someone used to running in 20 degree weather. I’m hoping my treadmill runs at work where the gym is kept at 70 will prepare me for it.
  • Two of the four 20 milers were done 13 days before race day
  • I introduced biking into my training to further build up fatigue
  • Current forecast says thunderstorms – I’m really scared of lightening!
  • If it doesn’t rain, it will probably be humid
  • Since I took most of November and part of December off, my training has been less than 2 months

Basically, at the root of it all, I feel severely under trained for the distance at my targeted pace. I just don’t have enough long or medium long runs under my belt for this training cycle. Have I gotten faster? Yes, but can I hold my pace for my distance? Probably not. I’m targeting a 7:30 pace. However, due to the snow and ice on the roads, I haven’t really trained race pace on my long runs, leaving me a little nervous.

Why haven’t I switched distance? 

I have flirted with the idea of running a half marathon to see what my fitness would be. I would love to PR; however, I booked this marathon a year in advance and most likely won’t be returning to New Orleans soon. I’m passively tying to collect all 50 states. I’m not a marathon maniac member (cause I don’t want to pay to join), but I like the idea of running this distance in every state. Besides, I got plenty more marathons in the Spring, so this can just be another training run!

Regardless, rain or shine, I really can’t wait to eat gumbo, crayfish, and jambalaya! Drooling just thinking about the food.

Have you ever been to New Orleans? Any suggestions?

RUN FASTER! RUN FURTHER!

I originally had this as a guest-post on MizFitOnline, one of my favorite blogs. Since I’m on my 36 hour flight (or something like that) to get to Myanmar (Burma), I thought I would re-post it here!

So lets talk about running. There’s two ways to improve, you either run further or faster and if you’re really lucky, you get both!

 Run faster! Run futher! (guest post)Happiness in running… the weekend I ran the most miles

I ran my first half marathon in 2011 (Boston’s Run To Remember) at 1:48:45 by 2012 I cut my time to 1:38:46 on the same course. I wish I could say I quit my job and devoted my life to running, but that would be a lie. Instead, I got smarter (with my running that is).

To get faster you need speed workouts.

The traditional tempo runs and track workouts make me want to hang up my running shoes on an electrical wire and never look back.

First let’s get the definitions out of the way.

A tempo run is sustained effort training runs, usually 20 to 30 minutes in length (but could be longer if you’re marathon training), at 10 to 15 seconds per mile slower than 10-K race pace (if you’re marathon training). For example my 10K pace is 6:52 so my tempo run would be about 7 minute miles continuously for up to 12 miles if I’m marathon training.

Ugh sounds painful to me. Instead, I’ve come up with alternatives that I can do on the treadmill or outdoors!

Mile repeats – These can be painful but less painful than say the dreaded tempo run so I deal with it. This workout was first popularized back in the late 1970s by athletes such asAlberto Salazar (yes he’s a fast one). The mile should be ran at your race pace which can be hard, but just remind yourself that after that mile you get a few minutes of a walk or jog to rest up before you repeat. How many mile repeats you do, depends on your race distance but I like doing 6-7.

Hill Repeats – Hills get a bad rep but they’re actually a ton of fun. Okay, maybe running up isn’t fun but think of the fun you have as you blaze down the hill afterwards!

1043977 10101588244097900 48694429 n Run faster! Run futher! (guest post)

Before you know, every time you drive you’ll be thinking, gosh! I wish I could just get out of this car and just run up that baby!

Intervals Similar to mile repeats but shorter distance. I like the sound of 5 minutes. 5 minutes gives you enough time to get comfortable but not too comfortable to space out. This was also the first speed workout I learned when I started running. I went from 6MPH (10 minute miles) to 6.5MPH (9:14 minute miles). Within a few weeks, I was doing 6.5MPH without my slower interval. You might want to raise your speed on the slower interval but try your best to stick with the easy half to save up your energy for the faster portion.

Progressive run This one is one of my favorites! Start at a comfortable (VERY comfortable) pace and slowly every half a mile or mile move up your speed. You can either keep going or what I like to do is after 3 miles, repeat. Below is an example of a workout I do at least once a week since it’s my current addiction.

 Run faster! Run futher! (guest post)

1 minute tempo run – I read about this one in Running Times and thought it was perfect for someone whose attention span is shorter than the time it takes to type attention span. Doing 30 minutes of consistent tempo is a little hard, painful and boring (to me). Doing 1 minute is fun! So I run 1 minute hard, 1 minute less hard. I don’t go down to a jog pace, but it’s definitely a little slower than race pace.

There you go, five alternatives to avoid skipping your speed workout. At the end of the day it’s all about effort. You want to make sure that on your “speed” day, you are exerting more effort per mile than you would be on an easy run or even say a long run.

Before you know it, you’ll be finding your inner speed demon.

420894 10101412261468500 427903341 n Run faster! Run futher! (guest post)Starstruck to meet Kara & Shalane

Okay so you might not be as fast as these two pretty ladies but I know that your personal and my personal best is still out there!

  • How have you approached trying to run FASTER or FURTHER?

Also don’t forget to enter my KIND bars giveaway!

NYC Marathon Race Recap

I didn’t have the race I wanted and expected but I guess that’s what makes me so infatuated with the marathon. I’ve done 9 marathons and 2 ultras since March 2012 and I can’t really say any of them have ever been similar. A lot can happen in 26.2 miles. For some things you can prepare (train, gear etc), other things, you rely on the luck of the draw (weather, stomach, etc). Luckily, I am somewhat of a racing addict so when one race goes bad, I know I have another one lined up for redemption.

After having a few days to reflect, I’d say I did enjoy the NYC marathon even if large events like these are no longer my style, it was exciting to run through the streets I grew up in and be part of something that big. However, there’s a lot of things I did not enjoy about the NYC marathon that I’ll get to as I recap, but for the most part if I didn’t think it was incredibly overpriced, I would run NYC again. Maybe in a decade or so, I’ll enter the lottery again and seek redemption on the same course that killed me this year. We’ll see.

So let’s start from the beginning. Luckily, since it was daylight savings time, I got an extra hour of sleep! I woke up bright and early at 5AM even though my alarm was set for 5:45. I made a few pita bread peanut butter sandwhiches to take with me. I was VERY concerned about getting hungry between waking up and starting the race at 9:45.

My dad dropped me and my very favorite marathon assistant at the ferry around 6:40.

NYC Marathon Ferry TL

We got on the 6:45 ferry. I was a little freaked out because according to the NYRR people and etc. they can’t guarantee you will start on time (9:45AM) if you take a later than 6AM ferry aka complete and utter bullshit to cover their asses. I decided the hell with my 5:45 AM ferry sticker (that NO ONE checked). Besides, worse case, I start in a later wave. I’m not exactly elite and my best marathon time is still from RnR USA marathon where I started 20 minutes late due to a broken train. I’m a pro at dodging people and toeing the line at the last second. Reflecting back, I could have probably taken the 7:15 ferry and still been okay but that wouldn’t leave much room for error since they stop letting you into your corral at 8:40 or so. 

Anyways the ferry ride is definitely the way to go for transportation.

NYC Marathon Photo Brooklyn Bridge

I think that might be a view of Brooklyn?

NYC Marathon Ferry Sunrise

NYRR basically take over all the Staten Island Ferries for the marathoners and leave the locals in the dust with no bridge, and no ferry to get them off the Island. Tony learned that in a mob of about 300 angry Staten Islanders who an hour later got a ferry.

Security was in full force starting with the ferries. National guard was on patrol. All bags were searched. FYI, you can have a friend or family member take the ferry with you with a backpack. They will however, search through it. Your family member and any other backpacks,etc. will not be allowed on the bus from the ferry to the village.

NYC Marathon Ferry Bridge

The bridge that looked so long and mean, seemed hardly that long when I ran on it at the starting line.

NYC Marathon Ferry

These are the views you will miss by not taking the ferry. There are other options to get to the village. You could take a bus from midtown, but I think that also gets you to the village around 8AM. I’m not sure why it takes them so long to drive over there since I can’t imagine there would be that much traffic at 7AM but who knows. My other option was getting dropped off at the village.

The Verrazano Bridge closes to traffic at 7:00AM “promptly” so I would have been chilling all by my lonesome self at 7AM. All my other friends were starting in later waves or were too busy being special in the ING bus ;). The bridge is 3 miles from my parents house, and was a much quicker drive than the drive to the ferry, but I decided if I’m going to experience the NYC marathon, I had to take the ferry with it.

Me in half the layers I had for the starting line.

As for the rest?

NYC Marathon Layers

Purple hoodie that I finally left behind, an old winter coat that finally got donated, long underwear, and a pair of sweats that were just too big and annoying for me to ever wear. Under it was my running outfit of sports bra, running shirt, long sleeve and capris. I also had a hat, gloves and an extra pair of socks. Needless to say, being cold, was not going to be a concern for me.

NYC Marathon Village

While the ferry ride took about 20 minutes, I think the bus ride from the ferry to the village was about 30 minutes. I thought the ferry was only a few miles from the village but maybe it was further than that. Expert on Staten Island, I am not.

To enter the village, I think every NYPD officer who wasn’t working on a different part of the race was at the village. They had metal detectors, dogs, and your number and bag were checked before you could walk in. We were only allowed an official clear athlete bag and one clear bag that you could check. Nothing more. No sleeping bags, no camelpaks. I saw a very nice pile of camelpaks and sleeping packs that could make someone a nice fortune if they resell. To be honest, I felt a little like I was entering a prison camp and not a marathon. Had there been a cavity check, I don’t think I would have been shocked. The whole experienced really saddened me about how to feel secure we had to do all this.

Now the athletes village is HUGE. Like you can seriously burn you legs out just trying to navigate around it. The bus conveniently dropped me off in the blue village. The NYC marathon is so big, it’s broken up in 4 waves and each wave has 3 colors, blue, orange and green that run slightly separate ways until they reunite at mile 8. I think over 50,000 people ran it this year, making it the world’s largest marathon.

I was going to meet a friend at the ING tent but when I asked a volunteer where it was, they mentioned having to walk far and then walk up a hill and it seemed like a journey. The Blue village is also conveniently where the corrals start so I decided to just chill around.

Dunkin Donuts earlier were giving out hats, but by 8AM they said they were all out. They also had some coffee. I heard there was hot chocolate in the village and almost came to tears when they said they didn’t have any. At about 8AM I ate my first peanut butter pita sandwich. I ate half of a plain pita at 6AM before leaving the house as well. I also drank about one bottle of water.

The village had plenty of portypotties but I felt like the line moved a lot slower than it did in Boston. I don’t know, maybe i stood on the wrong line.

At about 8:25 the corrals open up. At 8:45 I was told if I don’t get into the corral, I will have to start in the next wave. Meanwhile, I read somewhere that they were suppose to close at 8:55? Guess not. I’m freaking out and they tell me that the clear athlete’s bag I have for village is not allowed into the corrals that I’ll be waiting in for the next hour!

I’m getting pretty cranky as I try to shuffle my stuff out of the bag as they yell at me to hurry up because I will be locked out of the corrals. Anyways I grab my extra socks, my phone, sandwich, gels, and leave my bag and magazine behind.

Into the corral I went, kinda like down the rabbit hole. The corral did indeed have a ton of barely used bathrooms. However, at 8:55, we got kicked out of the corrals onto the bridge! O and by the way, any layer you wear to get on the bridge, won’t be donated? Yea, wtf! I’m suppose to freeze my ass off on the bridge, with no bathroom. It was worse than being on a delayed flight with the seatbelt light on. I ended up giving up my winter coat because I couldn’t bear not donating it. I kept the rest of my layers.

NYC Marathon Pace Group

I found the 3:15 pacer. There was a single pacer from what I saw for each time. Yup, this is how we stood for the next 50 minutes. I changed my socks, ate my second sandwich because I’m stupid, drank more water, until I pretty much was ready to pee my pants when the race started.

You know, they kept warning that peeing on the bridge is illegal, and will get you disqualified, yada, yada, but if I was a guy, I probably would have went for it too. Standing on the bridge, cold, with no bathrooms in the stink of anxiety and Bengay. I’m not gonna lie, I saw more than a fair share of men peeing on the bridge, and even more so, right after they got off the bridge.

Oh and by the way, while you wait those 50 minutes standing to start, they’re playing ads for sponsors the whole time, giving you a headache. A little music would have been nice? No?

Anyways my race is divided into two parts. Mile 1-15 where I stuck with the pacer and had a good time. And miles 16-26.2 after my disaster on the Queens-borough bridge.

NYC Marathon Liana

In case you’re wondering what I’m doing here. This is me trying to give my headphones to Tony after mile 8. The first 13 miles or so are in Brooklyn and I don’t mean to brag, but Brooklyn really is the best. The crowd support was amazing and the bands were around every half mile or so playing awesome songs and covers such as Ramones or Lit! I was having a ball in Brooklyn which is why I gave up my headphones to Tony.

NYC Marathon Brooklyn

Seriously, the first half in Brooklyn, probably makes the NYC marathon worth it alone. I had so much fun and I felt great! Everyone is dressed up from superheros, to their country flag, to random voodoo things that might be something spiritual? I’m not too sure, but I loved it all!

There’s about 2 miles or so in Queens before you hit the Queensborough bridge. Around mile 15.5 or so, I started to feel really sick to my stomach. I think it was the combination of eating too much and holding in my pee for too long and excitement and anxiety and everything in between. I usually run on just a piece of toast and peanut butter, so having 3 times that amount was not working out well after less than 2 hours of running. I also never really got a chance to go to the bathroom and do my business since I thought I would have time and then didn’t.

My life was going to flash before my eyes. I’ve heard that runners can have involuntary reactions while running and OMG I thought it would happen to me, on video, or camera or something. I started to walk, to try to calm my stomach and freaking out and panicking and that’s when I got nauseated as well. Luckily, that was a little easier to solve than my other potential problem. I walked to the side and threw up a little. Sorry, I like to share all the details. Bodily functions happen. I saw a few men peeing on this bridge as well! I don’t generally have penis envy, but during races I can’t help but be resentful. My stomach was still upset, and I’m not gonna lie, I contemplated my odds of hoping over the barrier to the other side of the bridge to do what had to be done. It’s times like this that I really miss the freedom of running on a trail! (Although I haven’t had to do that yet).

A lot of thoughts and prays went through my head and I think when I saw the bathroom at mile 16, I have never felt more relieved! It was also there that I might have shed more than a little bit of tears for the end of my race. My 7:25 average pace was dropped down to 8:10. When I tried to run, I could barely get above a 9 minute mile. The Queensborough bridge really took it all out of me.

Running through first avenue was still fun but not as great as Brooklyn. The next four miles were a blur where I went between nausea and sadness. I think my spirit broke afterwards, I went through another awful sick feeling at mile 19/20 on the bridge to the Bronx when I tried to eat a shotblock to get some food back in me and I just couldn’t swallow anything besides liquids. Someone mentioned it might be motion sickness since I only felt that awful mid-bridges?

Mile 20-24 were a blur as well. I remember entering Central Park and being so happy to be in the park and not on the hills of whatever Avenue we ran down. At mile 24, I saw my friend Michael cheer me on and that got me through mile 25 without a walk break. After that I saw Tony and that got me to mile 26 without a walk break! As for the final .2? I ran as hard as I could because I just wanted to be done so badly with this race!

NYC Marathon Final Mile

I’m not gonna lie, crossing the finish line did indeed feel magical, but then again, it always does for me.

As soon as you cross the line, you want to sit, take a break and catch your breath. But the volunteers won’t let you. It’s their job to get 50,000 tired, runners across the finish line and out of the park and they do their job well. You feel like a sheep, a cranky sheep as you try to regain the feeling you once had in your legs while being forced to walk another mile to exit.

About a quarter of the mile you get the space blanket and a little shortly after that you get a bag with water, a very tasty apple, and some other snacks I didn’t really look at because the last thing I wanted was food.

And then you keep walking, and walking, and you’re wondering will I ever be able to sit, will I ever get out of this park, am I doomed forever in this nightmare of no break?

Eventually, a long time, or what feels like forever, you exit the park and if you selected no baggage option, you get the most amazing, warm fleece lined poncho. Yea, it’s orange and won’t ever leave my house afterwards, but that thing really keeps you warm.

NYC Marathon Everyone

P.S. My friend to the right, ran NY in 3:13!

Overall
Place
Gender
Place
Age
Place
10677 2008 415 7392

It’s not exactly the results I wanted, but I got to go home with my bling regardless! Luckily, I got RnR Nola in Feb & Georgia Marathon in March to attempt this all over again!

How do you handle a poor race? I sign up for many more!