2019 Cowtown Marathon Race Report

I hate you I love you
I hate that I love you

Marathons hurt… but I guess we’re in an on/off relationship

I haven’t been posting much about running or racing cause well it’s been pretty minimal. In the past 13 months I have ran a half marathon, a 10K, another 10K I got too lazy to recap and the rest I ran vicariously in my sleep from the comfort of my pillow.

The 10K felt good and sometime in the fall, I decided hey if my crappy foot could hold out for 6 miles, why not 26. I started searching for  marathon in the January/February timeframe with a few objectives – If I’m suffering through a marathon, I want it to be a new state and possibly somewhere with a high chance of not being freezing rain.  Soo after several cruises of running in the USA and google flight searches, we landed on COWTOWN Marathon.

Cowtown is held in Fort Worth Texas (Dallas Area) and is actually a two day running festival with 26,000 runners consisting of 5k, 10k, a half, a full and for the overly ambitious a 50K and if you want to be extra, you can do a combination of some Saturday and Sunday races because why not be extra. In another time (another decade) that extra extra may have been me but for now the marathon was sufficiently 20 miles to extra enough for me.

My training wasn’t terrible, I stacked up four 20 milers including one pretty happy 21 miler, some solid high teens and pretty much swept up each week with about 35-40 weekly miles. Not quite BQ training, but the thought of BQ2020 did flirt my heart too often.

I even enjoyed my taper like a seasoned athlete, taking long naps on the couch, cruising a few 5 milers at race pace and carbo-loading with pizza like the pros.

By Saturday AM, I was ready for my flight and eager to get running. In typical fashion of getting too distracted by eating and exploring, I made it to the expo at 4:50 (we may have gotten a bit lost in the giant expo center block of buildings and museums). With 10 minutes to spare on picking up my number (there was no same day number pick up), I caught about zero to none of the expo, but it looked pretty extensive and I’m sure it had the typical – nuun, gus, shoes, and headbands that you would expect. If i had a do over, I would have come a little earlier to check out the new running digs out in the market.

The race started at 7AM and I was a little bit nervous about making it on time. Setting the alarm for 5AM made me want to cry and question why am I such a masochist. My wake up time is usually 8AM and I am more of a sunset runner than a sunrise anything. I also had the outfit dilemma. The weather was predicted to be anywhere between 35 – 60 degrees so I felt lost in how warmly or not I want to dress up. I opted somewhere for the middle – light leggings, a long sleeve and a sacrifice of a winter hat that I hated anyways.

Of course on the morning of the race, the Garmin that I haven’t used in months decided to crap out. I thought about using runkeeper, but I needed to save my phone battery to find Tony and my co post race.  I contemplated stumping the S— out of the garmin but then decided it’s not that important anyways.

The race organizes some hotels that offer discount runner rates but they were all sold out when I tried to book. We managed to snag one with a fairly decent rate that was 2 miles away. Except lesson for next time – avoid hotels around train tracks because instead of getting 6 hours of sleep, you’ll get 6 naps of sleep in between horn blasts 😉

The race organizers sent us an email the night before telling us all to be patient so I decided to try to make it to race start 30 minutes early but things seemed easy enough that I just chilled in the car until 15 minutes before the start. The Coral organization was pretty amazing! I forget how many in total (def more than 8) but there was plenty of space. The race started on time without any issues so massive kudos to the organizers, volunteers and everyone in between.

The above map was posted and if you can follow it, kudos. For me, I never really had a clue where I was so I just hoped there was a runner in front of me. The Marathon and Half shared the course for about 10 miles.

We passed the stockyards which were a fun little district of cowboy boot stores and saloons. It also happened to be on brick road which did not feel pleasant at all.

There were water stops about every 1.5 miles and while I didn’t notice any clocks on the course, the mile markers were there every mile and super easy to see and guesstimate into a pace.

For the first half things felt good. I mostly hung behind the 1:40 half marathon pacer (I couldn’t find the 3:25 one) as I figured I’ll slow down in the second. I didn’t have a watch but the race results have me clipping around 7:35-7:45 pace through the 13.1 miles. This got me through the half in 1:41:30, a pretty respectable half if I don’t say so myself.

I remember thinking somewhere between miles 10-13, it’s not that it’s hilly, but this sure as heck ain’t flat. The other thought, damn I forgot how painful running fast on concrete feels. (I usually run on a treadmill or dirt path on the Charles when I can).

Somewhere between mile 13-16, my quads decided they’re done with this whole running thing. Done with a massive DONE. And somewhere after the 20 miles, my right foot decided it really feel like being walk on either.


Mile 22-25 was around this park river that pass our hotel where my brother got a shot of me attempting to jog or walk or just not cry at mile 23. When your body starts losing it’s ability to move, you have two options – give up and cry or just get the damn thing done. I knew my BQ has slipped after mile 16 and I probably let that weight down my legs just as much as my angry quads – determined to finish but really not interested in running hard anymore.

I ended up crossing at 3:50:29. so 1:41 half 2:10 second half. Not my proudest pacing moment. I knew going in that I was probably a steady 3:40 finish but the dream to try for a BQ just won over. Could I have ran a smarter race in a faster overall time? Probably, do i regret trying for the BQ? Not at all! Maybe 2021? But I got a new state, a new medal and I rung a cowbell at the end.

The post race was just as organized as the start, they had marathon blanket and a finishers jacket that sort of resembled one of those reusable grocery bags in a neon green. After that, you went into this barn that had food – a noodle soup that felt like a beacon of hope (seriously, all marathons should have ramen or noodle soup at the end), some bananas and another gray finisher shirt that was quite nice and I’m excited to wear! There was also some music and a beer tent for two beers per runner.

Overall Time : 3:50:29

Age Group Place:  11/56

Gender Place: 49/406

Overal: 225/1,095

Until next time – As for now, I am resting my foot and eating some more donuts 😉

2018 B.A.A 10K Race Report

Maybe 10Ks are not that terrible.

Yes, I wrote that. After swearing for years that a 10K is a miserable distance. It’s got all the painful parts of a 5K that just refuses to end. However, the B.A.A. 10K felt different this time. I don’t know, I guess lately I’ve been embracing each racing distance almost like a racing virgin. Guess a 3 years racing gap with a rejuvenated love for running again can make you love the things you used to hate.

After my fun run, but race in my mind, Donut 5K, I signed up last-minute for the BAA 10K cause all the cool kids (my friends) were doing it. I generally don’t do BAA races because well I am cheap ($10 per mile!!!!!!), they’re early, and crowded but I’ve been feeling like I needed something now that I haven’t ran a BQ in a few years. However with summer hitting up Boston (who else is dying after 6 straight days of 90 degree weather?), the racing options besides post work evening 5Ks have become slim and this race started at 8AM. Early, but doable with an easy access of starting in the Boston Commons.

I picked up my race bib and race shirt at Adidas’ B.A.A store, RunBase and won’t lie, I was pretty pissed off to learn the shirts were Unisex. Prime example of sexism in the running industry by race organizers and sponsors. First of all, no they’re not unisex, they’re men’s that you think I should settle for. Let’s have a race director use women shirts as unisex and see how the men react. The shirt is part of my race fee, I deserve to havee a damn shirt that fits just as much as any male does. Also, Adidas makes women shirts, this isn’t a local race director putting on their first race who doesn’t know how what a tech shirt is to begin with, this is a well-oiled B.A.A. machine that should know better. A store for runners (not just male runners) should respect and realize the value in giving shirts to women that are cut to fit them. Running in ill-fitting clothes is a great way to get hurt and hate running. RunBase & B.A.A, you should be ashamed of yourself. SHAME SHAME SHAME

shame

Plus the shirts had unicorns 😦

IMG_3185

 Anyway back to race night as I’ll rant about “unisex” shirts another day. Although I am up to 10 mile runs now, I still had the race night butterflies that seemed a little like joy and excitement crushed by extra flavorings of fear of oversleeping, or stomach problems  so after waking up like 10 times, I finally gave up at 6AM (hey, I usually wake up at 8am) and decided to eat and get dressed. It was also probably not a good time to realize on race morning that, that I probably should have done workout clothes laundry the night before because my options of running clothes were limited to blah, eh & meh. At least I found an old unused sports bra and blessed the workout gods that let me forget this one at the bottom of the drawer.

So walking out slightly like a toddler who dressed herself in the morning half blind in clothes that no longer fit quite right, I still had goals in mind. My public goal, 50 minutes (figured with a 23 min 5K, this seemed reasonable given double the distance and the confusing weather where I felt overdressed and underdressed all at the same time). My secret goal was 48 minutes wanting to stay slightly on pace with my 5K time.

IMG_3125

So walked over, tummy feeling relatively okay, pondering if I drank enough water (yea probably didn’t cause half a cup of tea doesn’t count as hydration); I started trying to figure out corrals. It was self-seeded (with 10,000 runners in a relatively narrow street, I was surprised they didn’t do required seeding. I saw a 5:59 pace sign (yea definitely not even in my prime), and then the signs just dropped off. I started walking back and forth trying to figure out where my paced peeps are all at and settled on basically finding other women who looked like me, short girls, slightly soft with muscular legs and decided, yea these are people who probably run like me.

  1.  IMG_3126

Despite the feel of confusion when I tried to seed myself, the race started really smoothly! I fangirled over the elites like Meb & Desi doing their strides or charge ups or whatever it is that real runners do before a race to warm up (isn’t that what the first mile is for?). And before I knew it, it was my turn to run around 8:05 or so.

I stopped running with a Garmin when I was constantly injured. Getting reminded of my pace on a regular basis would frustrate me because I kept wanting to run at my former speed and so I was still running device naked. I had runkeeper on in the background of my phone, but with no audio queues. Instead I just ran by feel of where I pushed myself just enough but not enough to heave on the side of the road (or worse). At the mile markers, I estimated I was running somewhere around 8 minute miles. Also surprisingly, my corral seeding strategy worked as the group I was running with was in pretty similar pace where I didn’t have to zigzag to pass people nor was anyone really zigzagging around me. baa10k_coursemap The course starts and ends at Boston Commons and is basically the JP Morgan corporate challenge course that doesn’t end because part two is the BU 5K.  It runs up Comm. Ave, a short bypass to Bay State road and back to Comm. Ave to continue past all the BU green line stops wrapping up into a turn around by West Campus just to see the other side of Comm. Ave as you make your return.

Overall, the course is “flat” with the exception of the rolling hills around the BU Bridge. I cursed and really wondered how 15 years from when I was a little BU Freshman, that this damn thing is still under construction. The cursing at the bridge distracted me for the next few miles (I hate that damn bridge) as I looped back into the 2nd half. Cursing at things is usually what leaves me face planting into concrete, but luckily I avoided that stage in this run as I realized I had less than 2 miles to go (33%!! Yea anyone else think of miles in race through percentages?). While I was happy that I was feeling pretty comfortable in my pace (look Ma, no walk breaks!), I was struggling trying to pick up the pace as glory of negative splits came to my brain know that going back should have a decline. I guess with no real speed work under my belt, it makes sense I had no surge abilities.

As I went past the 6 mile marker, I did try to kick a little (or kinda look like a duck trying to run out of water for bread crumbs) and damn is that .2 miles always taking forever. But just like that it was over and I was into the finishing area. Medal check! I was stuck in a daze between wanting to grab all the “free” food I can and the feeling of if I eating anything this moment, I may throw up. There were bagels, bars, chips, cranberry raisins, and probably more crap that can let you eat up to your heart’s desire. Being lazy, I settled for a few bags of chips and a bottle of water and went to find Tony who was waiting by the finish line (yet somehow missed my champion finish line crossing).

IMG_3139

My runkeeper app said I ran 6.33 miles but the satelite on my phone isn’t the most accurate so the pace may be a little offer, but overall I am pretty happy with the fairly steady pace versus my old style where I start fast, die mid way, and drag myself through the finish.

Official finish time was 46:37! Woohoo I hit my goal and it’s been a damn while since I hit goals (I estimated for the photo).

IMG_3136

 Another unicorn joins the collection

IMG_3141

Kaiser Permanente’s San Francisco Half Marathon

I haven’t “raced” in about 2 years. Do I miss it? I am torn for the nostalgia of new PRs (and glory of small town age group winnings) but not the smells of humanity and beeping of Garmans or worse, that smell of Gatorade. None the less, nothing pushes you out of your comfort than the adrenaline rush of a horn on a race. And when it comes down to it, despite the struggles of the race or the early wake ups, I am always glowing in happiness and deliria afterwards.

While I planned to visit a friend out in San Francisco to escape from the Poler Arctic that is now Boston every winter (thanks climate change), I got the idea that maybe I should sign up for a race.

The old me would never fall short of a marathon when doing a vacation race, but this is the new, slower, fasciitis modified, climbing out of a rut to start running again me. She’s content with a 2 mile jog so a half marathon might as well had been 100000 miler. I haven’t seen double digits in a while but before I knew it, I handed my good money to some website that said it was secure and signed up for the 35th Annual Kaiser Permanente’s Half Marathon.

The good news, the course had a net decline in elevation and it was a on course I was familiar after running Bay to Breakers (coincidentally enough this was the last race I ran two years ago in San Fransisco!).

So I was ready to go! Training for the 6 weeks I had went great! I hit two double digit runs before race day.  I was ready! Sure I ate and walked tons the few days before (post to come) but I am a pro at burning out my legs walking the 7 bumps of SF as my taper.

Morning of the race, I was still on east coast time and woke up about half an hour early before my alarm. Ate some bread and cashew butter and ubered my way to the Golden Gate Park, the start of the race!

The 5k and half marathon both start at the lovely (but huge) Gold Gate Park. I knew the area, but the issue with the park is that it’s a hill and has these lane paths that can wind you out to the buffalos instead of the race start. After a little turning around and following/stalking behind people that looked like they might be running a race, the starting line was found in time.

The race had a little under 5,000 runners, but It never felt cramped or obnoxious and I barely smelled at menthol gels at the start. I was hoping for a little delayed started so I can procrastinate and figure out my music (my spotify didn’t download the albums I wanted to!!!! bad juju right there) but within 30 seconds, the horn went off and with the only music on my phone being an Eve 6 album, I worked with that I had.

The first 7 miles loop around the park in a few little rolling bumps (not really hills). Within about 30 second, i definitely regretted that long sleeve I had on, and I probably could have taken it off right away, but there’s something stubborn in me that tries to test out how long I can run while feeling hot and miserable. Just like that part of me that wants to see how many water stations can I pass before my lips chap from dryness and thirst.

I have a Garmin but I didn’t bring it, nor used in in years besides for when I bike outside (literally once a year). So I had no clue my pace and just went with my feeling of feeling too fab at the first miles of the race. The first mile marker I saw was around 4 and I guessed I was running about sub 8 minutes and gave myself an invisible dusting of the shoulder (most of my miles are in the 8:30-9 min range).

I tried to take a selfie, but the salt of my sweat was burning my eyes and my running selfie game is also not what it used to be. Plus there’s all these kids running with selfie sticks and shit. I can’t compete, esp not when I don’t have glasses or contacts on. We ran past some buffalos in the park too, but I didn’t even attempt to photo after failing at the water fountain.

After mile 7ish, the second half of the course is and out and back on ocean drive. Now, while I love me a good ocean view on a run, there’s some about a long, flat view of a path that makes it seem sooo infinite and never ending.

Somewhere between mile 7-9, I was starting to feel the burn. If you told me by mile 10, that it was the end of the line, there probably would be no complaints from this sweaty beast. I would have given you one big, sweat hug.

The first 3 miles of the ocean drive run also had a slight incline that made the endless open room in front of me seem even more daunting, but I definitely enjoyed the swing of it on the final 3 miles. Did I reward myself with a walking stretch at each mile marker I made to without vomit? Yes I did. Did the mile markers turn into stretches at every .25 miles after mile 12? I will never tell.

And then there’s the final .1 mile that always seems longer than .1 of a mile as you tell yourself what blast you had suffering for the past two hours.

And when all else fails, there’s always the join of collecting this gold medal (hey, we can’t all win the Olympics) that has a moving whale!

And I am glad to say that my skill of running positive splits has not diminished

Bib Number 4097
HALF MARATHON 1239 of 4972
Gender Place 328 of 2404
F 30-34 72 of 360
Gender F
Age 31 (shit I am getting old)
Start Time 08:11:06
4.7 Mile 00:36:47 07:49 min/mi 
9.8 mile 01:20:48 08:14 min/mi
Elapsed 01:52:01
Pace 08:33 min/mile

And now I go look for more races.

2015 Wisconsin Marathon Race Recap

The Wisconsin Marathon took place on Saturday May 2nd, 2015  in Kenosha, Wisconsin – a town of 100,000 residents located about 45 minutes south of downtown Milwaukee and 1.5 hours north of Chicago.  Normally, I would go into a rant about my hatred of Saturday marathons (because who has time for Friday bib pick-ups) but since I was in Chicago on Friday, the drive to Kenosha afterwards worked out quite well. Being the eastcoast self centered gal that I am, I don’t know much about the midwest, or Wisconsin, besides the fact that they have cheese. Kenosha seemed like a relatively quaint town with not a lot going on, but they did have a few tasty joints to eat at, and a pretty waterfront around lake Michigan.

Although, the race was on a Saturday (with I think no number pick-up on race day), they made bib pick up super easy! I believe they had a day or 2 in both Chicago and Miwaukee if you’re in that area, or on Friday up until 7PM as the “expo.” The expo to be honest might have been the smallest I’ve seen yet in an expo attempt. It was in the of a Best Western, parking was easy since there was no one there. Number took about 30 seconds, picked up a shirt. They had local medal display sales person and a chiropractor there. They also had I believe Jesus people table next to the photobooth.

The issue with small races out in small towns is the lodging situations tend to be quite limited. Your options are, be local and drive, Best Western or a further hotel. Due to lack of options at all, we stayed at  Radisson Hotel, which cost way more than it was worth per night, and they didn’t allow me for late check out to 1PM, massive grossness. Plus, although Kenosha is not very large, they had some road constructions, so it took us always about 25 minutes to get to downtown area. But hey, at least it was near so outlets where you can buy expired Milano cookies and Ghirardelli chocolates. We did check Airbnb and most things were booked by then as well. late bird losses the better lodging options I guess.

The race started at 7AM and as much as I grumbled about the early start, it was going to be a beautiful sunny day so a 6AM start probably wouldn’t have hurt me too much either.

Unlike the wake up for Boston, it was a gorgeous day!

IMG_8627

So off I went to the start line, 10 minutes to 7AM. They had some roads closed, but the runner drop off area was super easy and about 2 minute walk from the start. They had a special cheese corral if you wore yellow or cheese type things. Temperature was climbing up the 50s and just waiting to burst out into the 70s.

IMG_8628

I thought about going straight to the front of the start line, but decided I’m no shape to play the ego game and put myself somewhere around the 4 hours marathon pace group, although if you do enough small races, the pace groups at the start are always together and just spread out naturally on their pace.

IMG_8631

I don’t know much about the area, but here is my concept of the course – first 10K is a circle to the right, next 10K is a circle to the left followed by a repeat to the right with an extend loop to some country roads for about 13 miles.

IMG_8632

IMG_8634

A portion of the race hit up the water front with a great view and some local beautiful homes.

IMG_8670

And while the course for the most part is flat, I did find the bumps of up and down some small bridges and bike paths to be mildly frustrating. Luckily, the second half of the marathon was much smoother and feature some dirt roads that felt a gazillion times better on my foot.

IMG_8641

And although I’m not sure if the roads were ever officially closed to traffic, I don’t think I really saw more than one car.

IMG_8638

The my emotions and energy level seemed to bounce around the same, first 10K feeling great, second 10K feeling like crap wondering how the heck am I doing 13 miles more, nice 2nd wind for the next 10 miles and dragging myself and whatever is left of me for the final 5K.

IMG_8637

This same view that I passed about 4 times seemed so friendly on my 24!

I know many runners who have been injured, or had though breaks, or even just age know this feeling, but running faster and less fit than you were before is never that fun. However, at the same time, you gotta realize you’re still doing more than lots of other people can be doing, so you just gotta enjoy it!

Either way, I already adjusted my goals from the start. My goal was to break four hours. I felt like with all going well, I could do that even if I failed it two weeks ago in Boston.

IMG_8642

The tech shirt that came with the race bib featured the same design with a full black background.

The finish area was super chill. I was a little nervous that since it was a half marathon and a full, they would run out of food, but they did have a food ticket so I was able to grab my light beer, my wurst and a cheese sample or three. I rolled around in the grass a bit, trying to stretch before I gathered the energy to walk to the car so Tony and I can continue our trip to Milwaukee! I thought I would be really sore, but after a shower and change of clothes, I found enough energy for some sightseeing.

IMG_8643

The Final Verdict on Wisconsin Marathon B+ (7/10)

Pros

  • Friendly volunteers and crowd with lots of funny little signs to make you smile on the route. They might not have the same level of spectators as a big city marathon, but the spirit of the whole race, volunteers, and locals made up for it

  • Empty roads, I don’t think the roads were officially closed for the whole races, but I found the few drivers I saw super supportive.

  • 3,000 runners, I think a few K runners is my favorite amount of runners for a race. I just really hate being packed in with other runners, but at the same time I don’t want to feel alone and lost. I found that these type of events with about 3 thousand runners always feels the best for me.

  • Well organized event – race started on time, number pick up was easy, parking was easy, food available at the end, enough water stops.

  • Flat – although bumping in the start, is a pretty flat course.

  • Close to Chicago and Milwaukee, two fun places to visit

  • Fairly affordable – Race day fee was $90, but if you signed up early it was $70. Not a bad per mile rate when you come to what you pay for a Competitor group event.

Cons

  • Limited lodging options. I heard there was VIP lodging at the host hotel, but it sold out by January for a May Event

  • Repetitive first half with a lot of turns. My garmin distance was a little bit off and while i don’t think the course was definitely long, the turns of back and forth in the first 13 miles were draining. I think we also repeated some areas multiple times in circles.

  • Small crowds

  • Rough roads at times – Wisconsin struggles with the same problem New England does. After a long winter, the roads get a bit, okay more than a bit roughed up.

  • More cheese – I kinda was hoping there would be some cheese at water stops haha

IMG_8645

2015 Boston Marathon Race Report

The 2015 Boston Marathon was held on April 20th, 2015. And to be honest, I’m not sure what can I recap that I haven’t before? Like many others, I’ve gone mile by mile of the course and placed my best tips forward. The heat wave of 2012? My amazing PR in 2013 (before hell started), the joy of being back in 2014 and then there’s 2015. Cue the womp womp womp.

Boston by it’s design is my favorite race of the year. As a running nerd, I get to hype up on the competitiveness and as a local, I get to partake in one of the Boston sports I actually like. Marathon Monday for me is better than Christmas (and not because I’m Jewish).

By the time I gave in and admitted I am injured, it was March and I had two options.

1. Take time off, take physical therapy and basically give up on running Boston

or

2. Ignore my issue, go through half assed mediocre training and run Boston anyways

yea, it’s no surprise that I went with the kick myself in the foot for a longer term injury option, all for the glory of one day.

I kept my training pretty low key this year with weekly mileage 25-40 miles versus my usual 60-80 miles in prior years. And I have to admit, I miss it. I miss the exhaustion that can only come from too many miles in a week. I know some might call be crazy, but I really love high mileage weeks and it’s constantly making me on small line of depression since I stopped. However, while I wasn’t taking a break to resolve my issue, I was running every other day to try to minimize an increase of inflammation. I’m sure someone whose smarter than me would tell me all the ways I was doing myself more harm than good, but what’s ran is ran.

I took a half day off on Friday to stop by the expo and get my hair done! Nothing says marathon Monday weekend and end of tax season like turning my unintentional ombre back to my Lucius golden (slightly orange) lockes.

So the 2015 expo? Way better than 2014! I got my number within a few minutes on Friday. I sat down and immediately examined my swag and was on the verge of tears when I didn’t see my Boston Marathon Sam Adams Bottle opener. SUPER BUMMED! I don’t keep most race trinkets, but I liked hanging those up in a special Boston marathon hook I have in my kitchen. They gave us a plastic Sam Adams cup, but it’s blah.

The expo itself had some great vendors there and I made sure to leave my money at home, but I really didn’t need more running things, as much as I always WANT more running things.

There were two things that stuck out to my visit. I stopped by Topo Athletics and tried out their shoes on a True Form Runner treadmill… it’s literally a hamster wheel that was one of the hardest miles I ran.

Boston marathon 2015 (7)

They had a contest who could run the furthest in 5 minutes each day. I guess since I haven’t heard, I’m probably not the winner =)

The next VIP stop I had to make was Skirt Sports! More on my relationship with them later. Kathrine Switzer was there signing her book. She pretty amazing, and will be running Boston in 2017 in honor of her leading the way for women to run Boston. You know because before 1967, men had this theory that my ovaries would fall right out if I ran more than a 5k. Pfft men! It’s okay, now (or at least when I’m not injured), I get to run past them in a skirt.

I made a note to return to the expo and buy the book, but between a baby shower and other obligations, I never made it back to town.

Boston marathon 2015 (6)

After meeting Noelle and Nicole (owner of Skirt Sports), I had to dash to a very late hair appointment. Next time, I need to take my selfies after i get my hair done.

Boston marathon 2015 (5)

The streets were literally litered with runners and the city did a great job trying to pretend we’re in Spring, even though most of it still feels like winter.

Saturday, I did my last shake out run, a 4 miler and felt pretty good. A minute a mile slower than last year, but a run is a run.

Boston marathon 2015 (1)

Sunday went to brunch and then a baby shower that had a amazing Italian food and I tried to control myself. I have a pretty iron stomach, but I definitely didn’t want to test my limits with pounds of ricotta (no matter how badly I wanted to eat everything).

I taped my foot (excuse my gross callous. I still haven’t made up an opinion on k-tape besides that I think it’s super expensive for what it is and how many rounds I get for $18, but the added support does feel nicer on the heel.

Boston marathon 2015 (4)

And then like many others I continued agonizing over the weather as it was looking colder, wetter, windier.  I finally decided on a rain jacket for the added pockets and my favorite Skirt Sports, the Vixen.  Boston marathon 2015 (3)

A DailyMile friend said it best. It will never get NOT weird to go to sleep in my own bed, at my usual time and wake up and head into Boston, only instead of heading to work in the daily grind, I’m running a world marathon! Never.

I woke up at 7:00 and had most of my stuff prepared. My outfit, my throwaway layers (two sweatshirts from a friend and pajama pants), my peanut butter pita bread for the busy).  Left the house at 7:30 and got to the Bus loading area by 7:50 thanks to Tony. had a short little walk to get to the bus loading and was sitting in anxiety by 8am.

Boston marathon 2015 (2)

As I looked around the other runners on my bus, it was 95% women, which personally, I thought was pretty cool! The ride to Hopkinton was easy, and I was in the village by 9AM with more than 30 minutes to wait until I can start heading into my corral.

Boston marathon 2015 (1)

I usually like to roam a little, stretch my legs and see what’s there. But it was a bit chilly and wet already in the grass field. Instead I found myself a nice corner against some barrel than blocked the wind and sat/napped a bit more.

Boston marathon 2015 (15)

It’s the runner or homeless person guessing game

As soon as they told us wave 2 can start in their corrals, I went in. The bathroom lines in the village are always insane, and I know there’s some before the corral loading area so I was holding out for that. Downing a bottle of vitamin water through the bus ride was taking it’s toll.

They did set up something new this year. Usually when they start loading the waves, the corral system is kinda a free for all, where I have never been able to get to my actual corral. It’s 8,000 people! This time, they put us all in this caging area, and like us go in 2 corrals at a time so for the first time in my 4 year history, I actually made it to my corral!

Boston marathon 2015 (13)

The time in the corral flew by because before I knew it everyone around me was running!

Boston marathon 2015 (12)

The thing with Boston Marathon is that if you start with your corral, you are literally running with others at your best PR pace. I qualified with a 3:22 and so did everyone around me and they were gunning to beat it. Trying to take it easy was damn near impossible without being trampled. I stayed to the side and tried to not freak out about everyone passing me. Even with trying my best to keep it slow, my first 5K ended up being a 7:45 pace.  Last year I would have credit to be that slow as I was trying to go 7:15, this year was the opposite. I was really trying to keep an 8:30ish pace.

By 10K, I was getting a little bit more into my rhythm. I was trying my best to not get intimidated about everyone running by me. I saw a girl with crutches doing the race in worse shape than me.

Here’s the thing about Boston. We all qualify to get there at our best. What shape we show up to to actual run varies across the board. I did take walk breaks earlier than I ever would have in the past. People kept beating my back with words of encouragement. I did appreciate this spirit and on any other race, I would have dug deep and pushed on. However, on this day, I didn’t want the dig deep to push through the pain to lead to more pain later on. I know my logic makes no sense to a sane person, but it had it’s own flow to how I was justifying what I was doing.

By mile 8 it started to pour, and any time it would slow down to rain, the wind picked up. I remember after the 10K mark, just telling myself it’s another 20 mile training run. I’ve done them in more misery with less desire than today. I told myself to ignore the crowd, ignore all the other runners, and just get it done.

Sometime after mile 15, I started to get really cold and stiff up. There was a medic tent every mile and I would eye ball it each time. I contemplated stopping by for something warm, but I also wasn’t sure if I would continue if I stopped and DNF was not an option for me today. I have no shame in DNFs, but there’s just certain things you don’t DNF unless it’s life threatening. For me that’s Boston.

At mile 19, I finally saw my friend Sonia. Before that I saw my roommate at mile 7 or so and for the most part, unlike other years the race was a bit lonely. The weather made most people decide to go to work instead of partaking in day drinking. I couldn’t blame them. Hell, if I wasn’t running, I would be crawled up in bed on a day like this.

The hills of Newton came and went, and to be honest, compared to last year, they didn’t feel too bad. Don’t get me wrong, they didn’t feel like a slide either. But I guess since I’ve been struggling to get myself moving since mile 10, the struggle on the hills didn’t seem any bigger than the struggle on the flats.

Nothing get’s me happier than hitting the 21 mile mark or so around Cleveland circle. After living in the area for so long before I moved to Malden, there’s a certain comfort in knowing that I’ve walked this path soo many times in college, from sober to drunk, from friendly to a, shit the T stopped running and now I gotta walk home. I know that from Cleveland circle to Kenmore can be done. I can outline the terrain in my mind from memories alone. And then there’s the comfort of passing by so much familiarity only instead of alone, I’m surrounded by all these other strangers form all over the wrong.

around mile 23 is Coolidge corner, where I spotted a bunch of friends from the area on the left and they took this photo!

Boston marathon 2015 (8)

I may be pale, I may be tired and cold, but if I see a familiar face, I put on a good show 😉

Our other friend was on the other side because crossing for spectators was impossible. I’m excited for him, as he’ll be running his first Boston next year!

Boston marathon 2015 (9)

and then the final 5K. The final 5K is always like a scene in slow motion. There’s lots of crowds and cheers, and you want to keep putting on the show, but I never pace myself well enough to not feel like death at mile 24. I guess that’s why I keep running this race year by year. Each year hoping for something better out of myself.

I don’t know how it happened, but I somehow missed Tony and Adrienne. They were in Audobon circle and I kept looking for them. Tony had dry socks and Adrienne had her amazing cookie waiting for me. Two things I was ready to kill to get my hands on and didn’t see =(

As I was going towards Kenmore, I saw Tony’s family and group bringing me a little extra energy for that final 1.5 miles. As I went to Boylston, I searched the crowds for anything familiar as I still couldn’t find Tony or Adrienne, but to no luck. And just like that, as I couldn’t imagine how this race could be going any slower, it ended.

I crossed the finish line with many others. Just another race in the running crowd.

Boston marathon 2015 (10)

I think because of the cold, they took pity on the runners, and instead of making me walk the rest of the Boylston down to the gardens just to come back up to Clarendon, I was able to cut straight into the John Hancock tower. My office lobby was packed with runners and family. Usually they kick anyone without a pass out, but I guess the cafe saw the cold as great business so they let people hang around. I changed, sat by a co-workers space heater and slowly ventured back downstairs to meet Adrienne and Tony where I finally got my cookie, but no socks! Tony left them in the car which was all the way in Alston. We met up with more friends at Sunset so some margaritas, nachos and burgers. Because nothing says Marathon, like nachos and tequila.

IMG_8452

Net Time4:10:14

Overall 20559/26610

Gender 8595/12022 (Female)

Division 4490/6011 (F18-39 Age Group)

It’s not the best time, it’s not the worst time, but I can proudly say it’s my time and it was earned through the struggle, sweat and joy.

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?

IMG_6566

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.

IMG_6572

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.

IMG_6569

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.

IMG_6568

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.

IMG_6570

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.

IMG_9637

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.

IMG_6631

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…

IMG_6630

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.

Newport Marathon Race Report

Newport marathon… my second marathon in 36 hours, part of my crazy back to back marathon plan that started with Hartford, another notch on my 50 states belt. Why did I sign up for Newport? I already had Rhode Island as a state (times 2) and I’m not really thrilled with the race organizers that put on the event.

Well, I picked Newport because it’s relatively close to home (90 minutes with small traffic) and I wanted to force myself into some double long runs. And to be honest, the third and main reason is my ego. It’s the third race in the Triple Crown series that I have partly participated in this year. It consists of three races, Providence, Jamestown and Newport. It’s actually a half marathon series since Jamestown doesn’t have a full, but Providence and Newport those. To still participate, they take our first half split.

I wasn’t planning on competing as my Providence time wasn’t anything exciting after coming off Boston and a 50K the weeks before. Jamestown; however, came with a better time and when I checked the standings after the first two races, I realized I was in the standing if I can hold up in Newport. Now, I am not an elite runner, and the best I usually hope for is an age group in local races where the more competitive runners with more talent and discipline are racing elsewhere. So when I see a chance for extra bling and a new trinket with my name on my fireplace, I kind of want it. Sometimes, we all need our pats on the head, and running local road races is mine. Sometimes I get lucky, sometimes I run well, and sometimes I just have terrible runs.

Although, this desire for some extra bling, clearly wasn’t as important to me as my double long run goal, because otherwise, I wouldn’t have threatened my standings with a marathon the day before.

So right after I signed up for Hartford at the end of September, within 30 seconds I signed up for Newport. Registration was similarly around $100 and probably could have been a bit cheaper if I signed up a few months ahead like I usually do. Jamestown and Providence were much cheaper but way less scenic.

I was familiar with the course since I ran the half (after dropping from the full) two years ago when I started my marathon addiction. It was even my half marathon PR for a while, so I was excited to return to the course and see how it feels as a smarter, older, more experienced runner.

After finishing Hartford, my main objective was recovery. Tony and I walked around a little bit so I could stretch my legs and then headed to Newport. We took some really lovely smaller roads from Connecticut to Rhode Island that really showcased why New England at times is beautiful (when it’s not negative 50 wind chill and snowing for months).

Newport Marathon (2)

Although the race did have race day bib pick up, I wanted to minimize some of the race morning stress and get my number in advance. The expo was a pop up tent in a parking lot of the beach with some small local vendors. The shirts, terrible unisex boring designs like my Jamestown and Providence were. It’s a free for all when you pick your size, but they did have multiple color options. I guess if you’re a guy, or love running in oversize shirts, they may work. Sometimes, I wish women had the option to pass on the short and save 5 bucks instead since they’re clearly designed for dudes only. But aside from the short meh mehs, the line to pick up my number was quick (the line for half marathon was long) and the bag that came with it included some yummy snacks of dried cranberries, and nut mixes. I do always appreciate free snacks/swag.

After grabbing my number, we headed to my friend Anj’s house, about 30 minutes away. She volunteered to be our host for the Newport race. We relaxed a little bit in her warm house as I hung up my soaking shoes to dry. Yea, next time I run a double marathon, I might want to pack double the shoes. Showered, warmed up with hot chocolate (which is the true recovery drink) and turned into a functional human again. I’m always a little terrified of showering after a rainy race because I never know where I might have chafed, but lucky for me, no pain!

We grabbed dinner at a local spot nearby Pop’s that served a mix of pasta, pizza and Mexican and yet was amazing.

I started with the soup as this was my first real meal of the day post marathon. I know… recovery fail unless you count tomato soup and half a grilled cheese a meal. Then, I moved onto the chimichanga until I was happily stuffed.

Newport Marathon (4)

It was a food coma and I passed out into sleep somewhere around 9:30. I did take two ibuprofen even though, I usually never ever take anti-inflammatory meds post running, because I want my body to heal and adapt on its own. However, this was a special case, and I didn’t care how my body did it, as long as the inflammation, if any, went down.

The race started at 7:30 so my plan was a 6AM wake up with a 6:40 departure. The marathon and half marathon started 30 minutes apart and I knew there were a little less than 1,000 marathon runners with no road closures so I felt fairly comfortable in being able to get to the starting line. The other thing is that these races for some reason always start 10 to 20 minutes late so I didn’t really expect a time start as running Newport once, Providence twice and Jamestown once.

But instead, my early bedtime caused me to wake up at 5:30 fully rested. So I had time to enjoy some coffee and gluten-free brownies. Anj picked up some baked goods from Pumpkinpoolaza at RISD, cause she is the best host ever.  I don’t really eat real food pre-race as much as I just add calories, sugar and caffeine and hope for optimal results. For the most part, this works better for me than a steady meal of peanut butter and bread I used to have and then taste my whole run. And I’m not anti-gluten, but these were pretty amazing. I took a piece to enjoy post race as well!

Anyways, I get to the race start around 7:20. The weather is in about the 40s and expected to climb up to 60 with clear bright sunny skies. I’m wearing capris, a short sleeve, a long sleeve throwaway from the nightmare that was Hyannis marathon (although I did like the shirt) and a pair of throwaway gloves. This wasn’t exactly the plan of my outfit, but I realized I forgot a second running skirt outfit and so decided to go with this plan B as I was feeling a little too cold for the booty shorts I had as plan C. Yes, next time I plan on doing a double marathon weekend away from home, I’ll try not to pack the morning of.

As the marathoners gather around to shiver in a tighter circle, our watches hit 7:30 and no start time, 7:40 and no start time. Boy am I happy I decided to take a throwaway long sleeve this time and the gloves, I may never do another fall race without gloves again. They add this extra layer of comfort and warmth that can’t be replaced.

I spotted a 3:30 pacer and decided I would stick with him through the first half of the marathon and then see where I am. The race finally starts and maybe it’s those glutton free brownies of pure oil and sugar, but I feel amazing. I am filled with adrenaline and I decide to just run with it. This is my final race and I decide to make the most of my energy for the first half. In the back of my mind, I always knew that I would run the first half too fast and pay for it in the second half and I was okay with it. I just didn’t know how fast I would run. As I complete the first 10K and about a quarter into the overall race, I realize, I’m running sub 7 minute miles. After an hour at this place, I do start slowing down a little bit but for the most part I feel amazing. I don’t know for sure, but it felt like the whole first half was flat and the barely any wind to push me back. Even those 4 miles along ocean drive, I barely feel any push back. Before I know it, somewhere around mile 7, I start taking the lead and everyone is screaming first woman as I pass by them. I know I’m running too fast, too hard and probably too dumb for a girl on mile 34 of her weekend and almost 20 miles left in the overall run. However, I’ve never run the lead of the marathon and all this excitement is just fuel for my adrenaline. There’s smart runners and there’s passion runners and the elites have both, for me, my best performance isn’t always my ideal splits and running smart races, it’s usually the ones where the excitement takes over. Around the 10 mile mark, or maybe 11 mile mark, the lead girl takes back her place and I happily slide into a slower second place. As the final 2-3 miles runs along the avenue of mansions. Normally, I would take the time to admire and stare around, but I have a race to run and I just focus on the 13.1 checkpoint.

race_191_photo_11418070

The race provides free photos and that’s great an all, unfortunately, I seem to be making this face a lot as I get closer to the 13.1 checkpoint

race_191_photo_11423581

Anyways, after the 13.1 mile check point I slow down a bit to maybe 7:30 and those last me a few miles, but as the miles go by, my quads are starting to feel more and more sore. I don’t know if its because Hartford or the fast half, but I’m suddenly feeling the prior miles in my legs. I slow down to an 8 minute mile and that lasts me for about a mile before I’m starting to really not want to run.

Newport Marathon (1)

Around the final 7-8 miles the struggles hit full on. The course gets a little more boring with a little out and back loopy doo. Every little bump in the road felt like a mountain to climb. If you follow me on social media, you might have noticed the increase in tweets. It’s how I get myself through hard finishes. I distract myself a little bit. The final 10K was an ultimate ultra style finish. I would powerwalk and text every mile or so to recovery and run another mile or half a mile before taking a few seconds to walk. It wasn’t an ultimate way to finish, but it got my across the finish line. The final hill to the finish line is on Purgatory street… what a name.

And as I start to dash to the finish line, I don’t quite have the same kick as I did yesterday, but it’s still there, kicking. I forget the pain, the aches and complaints of the past miles and just remember the joy of why I run.

NewportMarathon (1)

My hair was on a marathon of its own!

After the finish line, I grabbed two slices of pizza and ate as one. The one problem with taking walks in a run is that it makes you realize that you are hungry!

NewportMarathon (4)

The weather did reach a lovely low 60s and as you know, here in New England, that screams beach weather!

NewportMarathon (2)

NewportMarathon (3)

Did I mention that I really love how scenic the course is and this is what you get to enjoy at the finish line.

Pros

  • GORGEOUS COURSE! Okay, so here in the northeast even if advertised, we rarely get good ocean front view for races. This one delivers on its promise. The ocean drive run gets a little windy, but nothing feels more epic than running against the wind with the ocean on your side

  • Pizza and beer post race, they had plenty left even for the marathoners!

  • Part of the triple crown series

  • Great volunteers and just overall great happy vibe on the race source

  • Pacers if you’re into using them

Cons

  • Support and crowds get a little more skimp in the second half

  • Roads are not closed – it’s a small marathon so understandable, but I think things get a little packed if you’re more of an average pace runner in the first half

  • Cheap unisex shirts – maybe they work for men, but I don’t even bother getting mine or I donate them

  • Delayed race start

Overall, despite the cons of this race, I think the gorgeous course makes up for it all. It is a fairly local race and they do a nice enough job that if I lived just a little bit closer I would run the course more often. At least for the half. Maybe even the full!

Total Time: 3:31:40

Overall Place: 70/807

Gender Place: 13/385

I have to admit, aside from the fact that I ran two very different races, I finished only 9 seconds apart. Hartford, although rainy was an almost perfect steady effort, while Newport was a more win, crash and burn type of event where I barely know how I got myself across the finish line. A perfect double if you ask me.

newport m arathon 6

And in case you’re wondering, I am happy to report, I did win the triple crown for overall female winner! Can’t wait for my trophy!