JP Morgan Corporatte Challenge Race Recap

There are 5ks, 10ks, and even 5 milers at times. These are the distances I’m used to. However, the JP Morgan corporate challenge is none of these.  Instead they decided to be a unique 3.5 mile race where instead of feeling like you want to die at .1 miles, you get to do it for half a mile instead!

It’s a race where us suits remove the Brooks brothers in exchange for just regulars Brooks, Mizunos, or Skechers for me.

That’s right, this was the official debut race for my Skechers GOMeb Speed 2! I was nervous and excited since I haven’t raced in flats for 3 years (I hated Mizuno Ronin because I kept feeling like my toe would pierce the fabric). Luckily if there’s one thing that I can’t complain about, it’s my Skechers!

So to participate in the race, you must work for a company that signs up to participate. Mine had a team of 30 men and 30 women.  Since we have over 700 people on the office, it’s done via lottery and after 4 years of trying, I finally got in! I know, I’m the biggest running addict in the firm, I feel like my entry should almost be guaranteed!

So I went into the week with a plan
Monday – run 10 marathon pace + 8 slower miles
Tuesday – rest
Wednesday – 4 miles easy
Thursday – race

Only there’s one problem with all this. As I’m sitting on the training getting excited for my first rest day in two weeks, I see a tweet about the Jp corporate challenge being today (Tuesday).

Ooops!!

Well luckily, I have not one, not two, but threw pairs of running shoes and plenty of running outfits because when you runmute and want to avoid carrying things, you just hoard stuff in the day before.

photo (2)
So I had the clothes, and all I was missing was my Garmin that I left at home to charge and a fresh set of legs.

So the race is at 7:15 pm which is my dinner time. I knew that this is a good time to get a big lunch so me and Tony went to Piccos.

photo 1 (3)

Why two people need a large? Because you get twice the value? I don’t know, boys eat a lot of pizza I guess.

I wasn’t very hungry, but I was worried about not eating anything since noon so I had some M&Ms and soda. Running ultras has made me really crave soda every time I run, even if it’s just a few miles.

jpmorgancorporate challenge 2

So the race starts in the Commons and people like to get there really early and just wait. Instead I went to go visit a friend and heading into the area around 7.

jpmorgancorporate challenge 3
Here’s the trick, if you walk up Beacon instead of comm ave or Boylston, the side is empty and it’s really easy to jump straight into the front .

Which is what I did and then immediately sat down for the next 15 minutes. My legs were still tired from Monday so standing for 15 minutes was not in my interest. So I watched the empty street ahead of me. 

jpmorgancorporate challenge 4

The first two minutes of the race are some of the scariest moments of my life. The race is packed, it’s about 12,000 individuals crowded into a small space with no real corral system so when the gun goes off, all these angsty, cubical dwellers take all there pent up rage and instead of saving it for a finishing kick, they start kicking in the first 100 meters of the race. It’s terrifying and this is the only race I see that at as men will push and shove anything out of there way just to fade out into a slower pace 2 minutes later.

The course itself is easy. After making two turns around the Boston Public Garden, it goes up Commonwealth Avenue until Kenmore Square and then comes back down Commonwealth Avenue with two more turns by the Garden.

jpmorgancorporate challengeThe course is flat with the exception of one small up and down ramp. There was a slight headwind in one direction that became a tailwind on the second direction. What really confused me were the mile markers. They were off by about a third of a mile and since I wasn’t running with headphones or my Garmin, I felt so confused with my effort and what I thought was my pace.

When I saw that I was a mile 3 (which turns out to be more like 3.3), at about 22 minutes into the race, I mentally gave up on the race a little bit. I definitely could have kicked harder but part of me wasn’t in the mood.

photo 4

After I crossed the finish line and saw my runkeeper splits, I’m not gonna lie I had a mini Shalane style fit on the grass. But once I snapped out of it and told myself to suck it up, I went ahead and grabbed some free Chia Bars, Yasso Greek froyo, core power and some ice tea mix. It always amazes me how the finish lines of 5Ks have more foods than some marathons.

Official Time – 23:07

Place – 356/10,001

Gender – 27/5,001

While I still feel frustrated about mixing up the race day, I’m happy that I was able to keep the pace I did on tired legs. If I could get over my own mental hump, I think I have a half marathon PR in my future.

Vermont City Marathon Race Report

Hi! I know it’s been a while. I’ve been traveling a bit, and at home I’ve been having some spotty wifi. Thanks Verizon Fios! Glad I’m paying you all $$$ to get limited wifi. Anyways end rant

It’s been two marathons and two weeks since my last update. I know I’m still behind on many race recaps, but I’ll follow a LIFO (last in, first out) approach to races because I rather have one fresh great recap and two slightly hazy memories than three hazy race recaps.

I’ve had Vermont City marathon on my calender since Christmas because it was one of my gifts. I was planning on making it a peak race and a PR race, but then I got into a dangerous world of weekly marathons. And while I still believe high mileage is the key to PRs (for me), high racing events takes a wear mentally and physically on me. What also didn’t help was that after my 50K, I was having some runner knee issues and pretty much took two weeks off running. Problem with the two week break is that I went straight into a marathon, a hilly one in Olympia, just to take a few days off again before going into Vermont. Needless to say, don’t do that if you’re looking for a PR.

So in three weeks, I covered about 80 miles, with three of them being marathons, two of them being very ugly time wise for me. I’ll get more into the race later.

Race Expo

So the first thing that makes Vermont City marathon so awesome is how late their expo is open. On the day before the race, I had until 7:00PM to grab my bib and they also offered race day pick up. Since, I no longer make a full weekend out of races, and sometimes traffic is a complete bummer, the later expo time was a huge plus to me. I went into the expo Saturday around 5:50PM and saw the usual expo stands, some food samples and the usual running expo fun. I didn’t linger too long, because Tony and I had an evening boat ride, but I was able to grab all our numbers and shirts and quickly scan over the booths within 5 minutes.

The swag back consisted of a chap stick, chocolate, soap (but only in one bag?), natural apple sauce, a cap, and our shirts. When I went to grab Tony’s shirt, they did run out of men’s mediums, but since he wasn’t running due to injury, I just grabbed a second women’s small for myself.

vermont shirt

I usually donate my race shirts, but between the memories and how soft it is, I’m keeping two of them!

Race Day

So we had our first AirBnB fail. We had a lovely studio on church street that got canceled a week before. My theory was the dude was airbnbing his place and when the landlord found out, he got kicked out. Being memorial day weekend, with a huge marathon, our lodging options were pretty depressing. We decided to camp at North Beach campground since our alternative of paying $250 a night for the Days Inn was not going to cut it. North beach is what they call an “Urban campground” basically you’re on top of each other in a dirt parking lot. Whatever, the weather was nice and we have a great looking tent.

Vermont Camping

I actually slept better than usual with the exception of an annoying group of women in tent next to us slamming car doors at midnight! Come on! They continued to annoy me with an early wake up call of door slamming as well. If I was a monkey, I would have thrown my feces at them. Instead, I grumbled and tried to assemble myself together.

The good part  of camping vs. hotel room, is that once you’re awake, it’s not really that comfortable lingering in a tent, so you get dressed and get going. I usually eat toast and peanut butter but since we had dinner at 9PM, I still felt insanely full so I just opted for peanut butter in one of those single serving JIFF things in the 3 minutes it took us to drive from the camp site to the race start.

vermont marathon start

I lost track of what number marathon this is, but every race day always feels like my first =)

The Course

When I first studied the course map, I found it a bit confusing and intimidating. I think since more than 5,000 of the 8,000 runners were participating in a 2-3 person relay, the design was so for the most part everyone can start and finish in the same area.

vermont map

I ran as a relay of one, but it seem like a great way to make team work a dream work.

vermont marathon course fog

The gun went off and I knew right away this wasn’t going to turn into a fast one. My legs felt dead and sun was already breaking through the humidity and fog. I think it was around 60 degrees. However, I loved watching the fog, and it was going to be a beautiful day.

vermont marathon course

I reached the halfway point around 1:55. At this point my strategy was to hang easy and steady. Slow running was better than slow walking.

I held about 8:12 average pace for the first 10 miles and then went through some major struggles as my body wasn’t used to running distance any more. I slowed to an average pace of about 10 minute miles for the rest of the race.

Somewhere between mile 8 and 26.2 we started going on and off this beautiful bikepath. While normally I would get cranky since I find them narrow and crowded,  this beautiful view of lake Champlain was only really accessible with the bike path so I loved it.

vermont hill

While the course has mild inclines and declines, there is technically one “hill” that goes on for about a mile. The photo doesn’t do exact justice, but it’s definitely a killer after mile 15. What’s cool is that they line it with Taiko drums!

drums

Totally loving how some of the drummers are rocking their bibs because they just ran part of the relay!

So I would like to say I ran the whole hill like everyone around me, but I didn’t! Instead, I took my time, and when I got to the end of it, I was rewarded with a downhill that I got to run on instead!!! One day I want to eat hills for breakfast, but not today.

vermont elevation

If I look at the elevation, it looks like there’s two hills, but I really don’t remember the one around mile 7-9.

vermont Residentual

Somewhere around mile 18 or 19 we ran through this little residential neighborhood where the roads sucked but everyone was all out and about with little kids cheering and make shift aid tables of fig newtons and watermelon and beads. I by passed the food but accepted some beads from a little girl and glammed myself up a bit for the final 7 miles.

If,  I had to guess, I would say I was feeling my best in the final 10K. Yes it was hot, yes I was barely breaking under 10 minute pace, but at this point nothing was bothering me. I had the finish line in sight and I found a nice dirt path on the side of the bike path that seemed to be agreeing with my legs a little more and I had this in my mouth

vermont icee

Or maybe I was so heat stroke, that I was in a new state of unawareness. Either way, I’d like to think I finished with a kick!

Finish Area

I guess if I had one complaint, it would be the finish area. I know they’re limited to the park, but I found it hard to navigate to the family meeting area due to the barricades they set up for crowd control. Maybe it was worse without them, but I got trapped in between crowds and couldn’t exit for a little while. I didn’t see much food, but it was hard to get around so maybe I just missed it. I grabbed a banana, a water and gave up trying to find the family meeting area and instead found a parking lot to meet up at instead.

The Runners, Spectators, Volunteers

What makes this race such a blast are all the participants from the runners, to the spectators to the volunteers. I think well more than half the runners around me where in the relay. This kept the course energetic and exciting, but also crowded. Despite that, I was felt pushed, spitted on, or any of the other annoyance I find sometimes when different distances are mixed in. The volunteers were all excited to be there. Sometimes when talking to random folks outside the race around Burlington, everyone loved to share their day whether they ran, screamed, volunteered and anything in between.

It was truly an event that everyone was participating in. It wasn’t Boston, but the excitement I felt around me, it might as well been.

vemront medal

Final Thoughts

I can’t say I feel truly happy with my time, but I don’t have anything to complain of either. It was such a beautiful day and I was doing one of favorite things in the world, running.

Plus how neat is this little infographic

Vermont Results

2014 Cox Providence Rhode Marathon Race Recap

The 2014 Cox Providence Rhode Marathon was held on May 4th, 2014. For the third weekend in a row I was running a back to back 5K race with a marathon or 50K race. Needless to say, it was all starting to catch up to me.

The full marathon started at 7:30AM and the half marathon at 8AM. Unlike 2013, this year my friend and I drove up the morning of the race. A 5:30AM wake up call was unpleasant, but the traffic-free drive was a lot better than the one I took mid day last year (at least as a passenger for me it was). I’m not sure what the original race registration fees were, but about a week before the race, a $25 off code was emailed out and I jumped on it Tuesday night so it was $75 for me. I can’t say no to a bargain ;). I wasn’t planning on running a marathon this weekend, but figured why not go for it.

Aside from some parking confusion (since the roads were closed around the starting area), number pick up was easy. Similarly to last year, they were out of my shirt size, so I just grabbed my bib, wished my friend running the half and bolted to the finish line. Except an hour drive and over hydration made me realize my bladder was a bit full. I looked at the bathroom lines and decided it wasn’t worth the wait and bolted to the starting line. And then I waited and waited and to no surprise, the race started about 10-15 minutes late. It wasn’t really a big deal for me since I had no expectations and the weather was warm, but I could see how in colder weather I would have been more cranky about a delayed start.

Once we started, I was feeling great. There was a light breeze and it was about 60 degrees. Last year, I played smart. Because I was running on tired legs (20 miles the day before), I started conservatively and kept a relatively steady pace. This year, I seemed to have forgotten my wisdom and busted out into 7-7:15 minute miles for the first 10K of the race. By the time the 10 mile marker arrived, I was running with the 3:15 pace group like an idiot because I was quickly beginning to fade.

Mile 10-17 were some of my least favorite miles. I was quickly losing speed, feeling hot and tired at the same time and very well aware of it. The water stations seemed to barely exist and what seemed flat on the elevation table and my 2013 memory, seemed to be a little bit more hillier. I’ve been taking salt tabs every 70 minutes but around mile 17, I decided to eat one of my hammer gels only to realize there was no water stop for the next two miles. Gross.

Mile 18-26 were physically the hardest miles of the race. At this point the wind picked up to 25 MPH with gusts up to 35 MPH directly against the runners. At some point I felt like I was running in place. However, mentally, I would say I was in a much better mood than the 2nd third of the race. With less than 10 miles to go, I felt assurance that it will soon be over. I also pulled up some Nashville soundtrack songs and rocked out to myself in some slow and steady but happy pace.

When I started this race, I was hoping to run a BQ time, a sub 3:35. It wouldn’t be a PR, but I like to make an effort if I’m paying the race fee. Last year, I ran a 3:41 so anything below would be a course PR. With two miles left in the race, and the wind stronger than ever, I realized there was a very small chance of me making my cut-off. It sucked, but I accepted and took pride that if I keep running, I can PR on the course.

Cox Marathon Results

Time: 3:36:08

Place: 223/1372

Gender: 48/657

Division: 26/213

I came in a little over a minute too long of my goal but so happy to be out of the wind.

They had sandwiches at the end of the finish line, but it was in the runners only area and with me trying to hold a water bottle, trying to hold onto a sandwich was getting too complicated so I just passed on and went to look for my friend who ran the half marathon.

Cox Marathon

I was pleasantly surprised that the medal design was a little bit different from last year’s!

photo (12)

After cheering on more friends of friends, we went to the beer garden and enjoyed our midday Narragansett because nothing like beer on an empty stomach post marathon =).

Don’t worry, after resting in the sun, we did eventually walk over to Federal Hill for a very late brunch.

Cox Marathon Refuel

Julian’s had a little bit of a wait (40 minutes) but the food didn’t disappoint. I got a tofu/spinach/cauliflower scramble with a side of spinach and blue cheese ash that was good to the last bite. I was famished at this point.

To Summarize Pros & Cons of the Cox Providence Rhode Marathon

Pros

  • Flat(ish) course – There’s some hills but more than half of the miles is on a fairly flat road
  • Post race sandwiches
  • Separate medal designs for the half and full marathon
  • Day of race bib pick-up
  • Gu available at several aid stations

Cons

  • Sporadic water stations, sometime it was a mile apart, sometimes I swear I ran 5 miles without water
  • Confused volunteers, for example although a gel was available at a few stations, many of the volunteers had them in a box off to the side and many runners missed them
  • Shortage on t-shirt sizes – don’t ask me my size, if I am not getting it!
  • Roads open to cars – Parts of the course was on a bike path and some on the roads, most were open to traffic
  • Construction along the course- there were several piles of dirt along the course that blew into my face and mouth with the wind. I probably wasn’t very hungry after the race because I had quite a few mouthfuls of dirty!

Conclusion 

To be honest, this is one of my least favorite marathon courses. While I am really grateful to the volunteers, I don’t think they were well organized and the water stations and support wasn’t the best. I also think it’s a pretty expensive race (over $100 at full price) for a course that doesn’t close the roads, with boring shirt designs (same every year) that are not even in the correct size you request when registering.

As far as this race goes, I find the half marathon route a lot prettier, it’s hillier, but it’s prettier. The only advantage to do the marathon is an excuse to visit Providence, or if you’re trying to find a Spring BQ opportunity in the area, this is an easier course than most. Otherwise, if you’re trying to do 50 states and need Rhode Island, I prefer the Newport marathon in the fall instead.

Race Against Extinction 5K Race Report

As racing season is in full spring (pun intended), I’m slowly trying to catch up on all the race recaps. I got through Boston, and the TARC 50K, now I just owe you a Spring Classic 5K, a MEA 5K, Providence marathon and a small little race called the Georgia Marathon from way back in March.

The Boston Race Against Extinction 5K was held on Saturday, 11AM, on April 19th in Artesani Park just off the Charles River in the Boston/Brighton/Cambridge area. Proceeds will be donated to the World Wildlife Fund. I don’t recall what race registration was because I was lucky enough to win an entry from The Perfect Fuel Chocolate, a local Boston company!

The 5K welcomed everyone from Cheetahs (experienced and first-time runners), Tortoises (walkers), Gazelles (inline skaters), Kangaroos (parents with strollers), Wolf Packs (runners or walkers with their pets)! and Sloths (those who cannot or will not be running, skating, walking or moving in general on April 19th but would like to support and help protect their fellow species!).

I wasn’t too sure how I would get there from Malden, but I found a bus that went from Sullivan square to Cleveland circle passing by Artseani Park (just a little tip for my fellow Northbound orange line friends). I gave myself about an hour to get there, but it only took about 30 minutes so after getting my bib number I met Miles and Nicholas (whom I actually met the week before at Yukan races) and fueled up on some chocolate pre-race.

Mark and Nick Perfect Fuel

and before I knew it, it was race time! The course was flat along the paved path around the river. I started out in my usual pattern way too fast and started to feel like lead by mile 3. It’s a good thing 5Ks are only 3 miles because if I had to run another mile, I would have thrown up.

photo 1 (14)As I was wrapping up the final mile, I saw Miles leaping forward as the green man. Having someone dash by you, only reminds you just how relative speed is. Luckily, only gender that dashed past me, was male and I got to win first place female! No tape to break sadly but I got to take this wonderful present home.

photo 2 (1)

My time for the 3.1 miles was 21:28 with a 7th place overall finish.

photo 1 (1)

I did feel a little disappointed about being 15 seconds slower per mile than my more recent 5Ks but I think a part of me tried to keep the race a little easy because I didn’t want to burn myself out in 3 miles, 2 days before the Boston Marathon.

Race WinnersFinish line photo with Miles (21:11), Ben (20:51) and second place female Rebecca (20:54)

There was no medal for finishing but I couldn’t believe all the finishing swag.

photo 3 (9)

photo 2 (13)

There was also a cap and a water bottle that I didn’t take because I already have a plenty of each at home.

I wasn’t very hungry post race since I had a fairly large breakfast (not sure why, but I fueled like I was running a marathon, two hefty toasts with a generous cover of peanut butter). However they had plenty of coconut water, protein shakes, bagels, cream cheese, chips, cookies and anything else you want post race.

So to summarize:

Pros

  • Flat Course
  • Best 5K swag ever
  • Great charity and overall vibe
  • Well marked and traffic free
  • 11AM start (I’m really not a morning person)
  • Plenty of parking
  • Plenty post race fuel

Cons

  • On an open bike path so you’re swirling around bikers, joggers, walkers and everyone else since the path is not closed off for race only
  • Limited public transportation to the race start

Overall it was a great race and a great alternative the BAA 5K if you’re looking for a final shake out before the Boston Marathon.

2014 TARC Spring Classic 50K Race Recap

In 2012 I DNFed (Side note, I laugh when I read my race recaps from 2 years ago, so young so arrogant I was)

In 2013 I DNSed, granted I was a few states away running a road marathon instead

In 2014 I rose from the ashes as a muddy phoenix

See me and the TARC Spring Classic have a long history. It’s always 6 days after the Boston marathon that destroys my quads. I’d like to think that I’ve gotten pretty good at recovering quickly. It helps when you don’t race too hard, but no matter what pace I run Boston, I’m always limping for a week or so. Don’t disrespect those downhill courses I guess.

The TARC Spring Classic course is also the site of my 2013 failed 50 miler attempt that turned into 26 miles of swimming.

Needless to say that between my complicated history with the Weston trails, my slow Boston Marathon recovery and the fact that I’ve avoided trails since October 2013 like the black plague, I was a bundle of nerves. My expectations were so low that a large part of me hoped I would oversleep my alarm and not show-up.

Luckily I didn’t, and while a little behind schedule, I got to the starting area just in time. Suddenly I was surrounded by familiar smiling faces that would accept me whether I ran 10K that day or 50K, whether I ran a 7 minutes mile or a 30 minute mile. And I began to calm down.

And then I realized my Garmin wouldn’t turn on. I was ready to turn around, get into my car and go take a nap instead. I quickly told myself to woman up and stop being a wimp. Animals that hide in a car because their running watch isn’t working, will be the first road kill. Before I had time to figure out something else, the race started and off I went, naked as the day I started running.

It’s weird trying to recap a race without any idea of what pace I ran or which mile or even my 10K splits. All I have are guesses. In a good way it was nice because I didn’t feel the normal anxiety that I do on trails because I always feel like my pace is too slow. I only had other runners to judge my pace on and since for the most part, I didn’t get passed too many times, I can only assume whatever pace I was on, was good enough.

It also helps that Weston trails are 98% most runnable trails you will find in New England.

TARC 50K 4

What else am I forgetting? O yea, this little thing called mother nature and her wrath for me whenever I am running. About 20 minutes into the race, it started to rain like crazy. The trees provided some coverage, but I was starting to get soaked.

TARC 50K

After my first 10K, I stopped for water and at my gear to trade my wet long sleeve for my rain jacket. On my second 10K, I stopped by for some water at the aid station and a PBJ. Since I had no watch or anything, I asked a volunteer what time it was who told me it was 10:20 so at the pace I was going at about 65 minutes per 10K, My third loop felt a lot harder than the first two as I recalled DNFing on this loop two years ago. I knew there was only one way for me to not, I had to make the decision to skip the aid stations between loop 3 and 4. I grabbed some potatoes, picked up my cell phone from my gear since I wanted to take photos on my fourth loop and back out I went.

TARC 50K 3

Although I spent most of the 31 miles alone without my watch or cell phone, it really was a beautiful run.

TARC 50K 5

I even began to appreciate the mud with each new loop… JK, no I didn’t, I was having minor flashbacks.

TARC 50K 2

We did have some minor bumps on the trail that seemed to feel like mountains when you’re on your 25th mile, but for the most part, the course was really runnable and fast had I been in racing shape, versus recovery shape.

I felt really tired on my fourth loop and did a good amount of walking. While my first two loops were about 65 minutes and my second loop 70 minutes, I think my fourth loop was about 85 minutes. That’s a huge variance in a 6.2 mile loop.

But here’s the funny thing about ultrarunning (even at my minor level), you go through so many high and lows between glee and tears and this was no exception. On my 5th loop, I don’t know what exactly happened, but i felt like I was running my first. I brought an extra pair of shoes and rocks, but my Mizuno waveriders worked well enough that I felt no need to change. However, my jacket was starting to soak through, so my 5th loop, I wanted to start out fresh and dry. I switched tops and off I went like a gazelle.

Except this part

TARC 50K 6

This part still sucked… There were three muddy hell crossings, this is the 2nd worse one. Unfortunately, I was too focused on not getting my shoes sucked off to take photos at the other two spots.

And I don’t know for certain, but I’m pretty sure my 5th loop was my fastest because according to official results I ran 5:44:35, a 45 minute PR for me.

I knew this week was going to be a PR worthy week, I just didn’t expect it to come from a 50K.

As for medals and tech shirts? For a $22 race? These are the trail race medals:

Trails Races Medals

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.

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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!

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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?

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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!

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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.

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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.

2014 Fool’s Dual Race Report – Breaking the white tape

On Sunday, I once again returned for some running in Gloucester. It took me two years to make my way back, but it ended up being a worthy day!

The race is called Fool’s Dual because they offer a 5K and a half-marathon for those of us that are dumb enough to complete both races back to back.The 5K registration goes up $35 and the half at $69 while both races are $89. Clearly, its not only foolish, but economically smart to do both ;).

The 5K started at 8AM but since I still had to pick up my bib number, I decided, I should get there around 7:45 with a 40 minute drive from home. The alarm was set for 6:30 but after working so late all week, waking up so early was not something I craved on a Sunday morning. Tony even tried to convince me that it’s okay, I can oversleep the 5K and just run the half! Luckily, I told him, no way buddy, get up, let’s go!

And then I discovered at 7:10 that I had absolutely nothing to eat! Yea, ladies, if you suddenly leave for weeks and don’t do food shopping, you can expect that your significant other isn’t doing it either. I found some peanut butter and flatbread pizza bread and decided, sure, it’s carbs, it’s peanut butter, it’ll work and with a cup of tea, out the door we went.

Number pick up was super easy and about 1 minute walk from the starting line. Swagbag came with some nice sponsor samplers and a shirt that was a size too big.

And at 8AM, the “gun” went off for the 5K. I don’t have a mile to mile break down, as I feel like it all happened too fast. I read some accounts calling the course hilly, but I honestly thought it had more of a decline than an uphill net gain. I remember on the drive over, we passed by this crazy hill and I prayed to running gods that I would not be running there, but the gods answered me in a better light. We ran down that hill and came back up a more mild way.

The one thing I remember that was making everything so difficult was the wind! I don’t know what direction it was coming from, but it always felt like it was in my face.

At around mile 2, I noticed that I haven’t had any female pass me yet. I tried to look back and see if anyone was near by, but couldn’t see anyone but another dude. Things were starting to feel painful but I decided to go with it! I could tell that my Saturday 18 miler was definitely making my legs feel heavy. The only good thing about 5Ks is that the pain is over relatively quickly. I knew that with a mile to go, I have less than 10 minutes. As I approached the finish line, I saw them putting up the tape back and before I knew it, I was running across it!

Finish line

Now picture me with a white tape looking confused because I still didn’t believe I was in first place for women and 9th overall.

Official time was 20:54:7! It’s not my best time and it’s not anything special, but sometimes showing up is more than half the battle! After crossing the finishing line, I grabbed some water, bananas, and went to wake up my driver/assistant who slept through my whole glorious moment!

I quickly made my way into the changing room, aka our Prius, for an outfit change.

Fools Dual Half

I knew that by giving my all, on tired legs for the 5k, I was going to have a pretty miserable half marathon. As I waited for start time (9AM), I could feel the lactic acid building up. Luckily, I had my compression socks to help relieve some of the soreness in my calves.

As the “gun” went off, my legs seemed to forget about the 5K they just ran 30 minutes ago, and wanted to push; however, by mile 3 they started to remember. Or maybe it was the hills that went up and down, down and up.

Fools Dual Hills

The course is an out and back rolling hill party. Every time we hit a downhill, I would curse because I knew I would see the uphill on the 2nd half of the course. As mile 4 rolled in, the only thing I could focus on was to remind myself that I only had about 2 miles (I like to round down) to get to the halfway point. At mile 5.5, I saw the Welcome to Rockport sign that reminded me that I’m almost halfway there.

As I started to reach the 7 mile marker on the return, I got a second, or maybe it was my third wind… Everything seems better when there’s only a 10K left.

My original goal was to finish under 2 hours, but I slowly bumped it up to 1:50 around mile 7; by mile 9, I dreamed about a 1:45 that faded into a sub 1:40 and PR by mile 10! I think, I was reaching my 4th wind at this point.

Fools Dual Ocean

It helped that for once in my racing days, I had perfect, beautiful water with amazing waterfront views. It’s always raining when I’m racing.

I ended up crossing the finish line at 1:40:48, about 2 minutes slower than the last time I ran this course two years ago.

Final Time

Why my Garmin is calling the course short is weird to me. I remember for half the course it was saying I was .1 mile long and somehow on the second half I cut off .2 of a mile? Maybe my Garmin took a nap somewhere at mile 8 as I was contemplating taking a nap myself.

Either way, while I didn’t reach a PR, a course PR, or my last second goal of sub 1:40, the time I ran was good enough. I ended up being 4th in my age group and 3rd overall female in the fools dual, combined time of both races. I lost second place by 8/10th of a second!

Awards

The day was truly a lesson in that sometimes, the hardest part was just showing up. Sure, there are countless faster runners in Boston and north shore area, but luckily they all decided to stay home, sleep, or somewhere else. What did I win? ONE BILLION DOLLARS… of bragging rights, these cool award paper things and awesome memories. I also got three $10 gift certificates to use towards shoes at Greater Boston Running Company, a sponsor. Although I haven’t been able to confirm if I can combine them to get $30 off shoes instead.

Key race review points

PRO – Beautiful, scenic course

Fools Dual

PRO/CON – Hilly course, but what goes up must come down and I think the hills make it a more fun of a run

CON – Roads are not closed and while it wasn’t an issue at 9AM at the start of the race, it became a little bit frustrating after 10AM when a lot more cars were on the road. Since the shoulder was very small, trying to bypass another runner, or even just running alone felt a little stressful at every curve.

PRO – Reasonable Price and great value for the course, support and distance

CON – The free shirt was too large for me and the visor we get for running both races was too large as well and felt cheap. The shirt felt nice, but was just too large for me to ever run in. I personally prefer for races to charge less and not offer free shirts since they all seem to always be too large.

PRO- WELL MARKED! This is so important, especially on a winding 5K course. I never felt confused or lost at all!

PRO – Amazing volunteers, great race director and overall a great small race vibe! This year they had about 500 half marathons and 200 or so runners on the 5K course.

I would love to return to Gloucester/Rockport for more racing!

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.

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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!

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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.

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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

Winter Classic 5K Race Recap

For the second time this year, I toed the line of a 5K. This time in Cambridge at the Winter Classic. The race took place December 8th at 10:30 AM. The cost was $30 plus fees and included your choice of pint glass or hat, a long sleeve tech shirt and beer!

You can sign up as an individual or as a team. Teams of 15 people or more got some perks, like their own beer supply, a table and a tent to chat around. Although, if you stopped by the team VIP area before the race, almost no one was there due to the cold.

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I’m rocking the I slept 4 hours and ran a bit look. O well, at least the shirt looks good. I’ve been wanting a black long sleeve to run in!

They had pre-race number pick-up for two days before the race, but I ended up grabbing my number before the start. It was easy and organized. It looked like all the volunteers knew what they were doing. They also arranged places for us to stay in doors and be warm before the race started. Basically the lobby of some of the business there and they had real bathrooms so I was content. Real bathrooms over portapottys always makes a race a winner.

The day was cloudy with high of 30 degrees and the wind chill making it feel like 25 degrees. So yes, most of us accepted the offer to wait in warmth before the race started.

At 10:30 the race started on time. They didn’t have corrals, but did have markings of where to stand based on your expected pace. I in my usual fashion, wobbled myself over to the front. I didn’t really expected myself to be fast, but I like starting in the front.

I was also running with some co-workers so I had two goals in mind. Maintain a 7 minute pace, and beat my co-workers.

The first mile fast, easy and hard at the same time. I forgot, how difficult and drying the cold air could be. I held back a cough and tried to old on. I saw one of my co-workers run ahead me and I decided to let him go. Around the mile and a half point I dosed off a bit as I noticed my pace slowing down into the 7s, so I told myself to snap out of it. Luckily, around that point, we hit the downhill part of the course and I whipped it into gear. I passed my main target and kept going for fear of falling behind again.

There was no mile markings that I saw, but I had a garmn that told me everything I would want to know. I was glad that I remembered to bring it last minute because it helped me manage my effort.

As I hit the 3 mile mark, with only .1 miles and a finish line in sight, I realized there was time for a PR. I kicked and kicked and kicked until I thought I would throw up the crab dip I ate for breakfast. Word of advice, don’t eat crab dip for breakfast, no matter how yummy it is before a 5K.

The good part about 5Ks is that everyone finishes together within a few minutes or so. And then there;s beer to be drunk!

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Tell me something about your weekend?

Do you run 5ks? What’s your favorite?