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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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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!

Hartford Marathon Race Report

To start recapping the story of Hartford and Newport, I must first start in why I would sign up for two marathons in a row. No, I didn’t bump my head on a recent run. Although if you seen my instagram lately, I did come pretty close! My poor knees =(.

To be honest, I’ve wanted to run doubles for a while, but it always seemed silly to go through the logistics of travel and cost and not really be able to devote full power and energy into a race. Finally, I decided October, a few weeks away from Stonecat (my official 50 miler) and Ghost Train (A timed event where if weather is tolerable, I would like to break 50) was perfect timing.  It’s just two back to back training runs used for a ultimate goal. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Not the fact that I wanted to see if I could push my endurance to another level. Something I’ve been questioning as I failed a few attempts at a 50 miler. Am I the problem, is my terrain the problem, or is it all just a mental game. I still didn’t know the answer, but I knew that in the comfort of a marathon, the support, the familiar terrain and just the stubbornness that hits me when my feet hit the pavement, I knew that I would succeed, maybe not fast, but I would finally hit my threshold of getting 50 miles in a two days.

So back to Hartford, I signed up the race sometime mid to end of September. While the cost wasn’t completely tragic, around $100 versus I think 80 or so for earlier registration, I did miss out on some conveniences. If I registered before September, I could have had my packet mailed to me (for a cost of course), and I could have had a seeded corral start (not that it ended up mattering).

The expo was a Saturday race. I know, you don’t see that happening too often in large scale marathons. And like my other Saturday race that I’ve done, they don’t do same day packet pick up. That means there’s only a few ways of getting your packet. Paying them more $$$$$ to mail you a number, which I couldn’t do since I signed up too late, taking a vacation day and driving up early, or having a friend pick it up for you with a signed waiver and copy of your photo ID. Luckily, a friend of mine was also running so I went with my final option. Although, I didn’t go to the expo, from the photos I saw, it seemed to be a fun time.

And so Friday began once of the longest (non-snow related) drives of my life. Tony and I left work around 5:30 and my Google Maps was still saying it was about 2:20 to go from Boston to Hartford. I figured we get my number from my friend and have some dinner.

Yes, I’m a late dinner marathoner. Here’s my theory. If I eat late, I’m not starving in the morning and I don’t have to wake up early to eat and then digest. So far it works far better than the 5PM dinner idea where I go to bed hungry by 10 and starving at the sound of my alarm.

Anyways, it gets to 7:30 and we barely have left Boston. We’re about 20 miles out of town, in a gridlock. I guess Columbus Day weekend Friday is the worst travel day of the year, worse than Thanksgiving. Considering Tony and I have never worked for a place that had Columbus Day off, we were like… seriously? I’ll avoid the rant about what a terrible person Columbus was and let you enjoy your day of if you get one.

So yea, we gave up; the next exit was about 9 miles away, which probably meant another hour, so we hit one of those highway food courts. I really hate eating at highway food courts. They’re sort of like mall courts only dirtier and have you trapped on a pike because you really don’t feel like paying the toll twice. However, they rig the prices up 30% and somehow everything tastes more stale and oily than a regular chain off the highway would.

I’ve been craving pizza for a while now, so we hit up Pappa John’s and got a whole pie because I was starting to get really hungry. I don’t remember what my lunch was if any, but it couldn’t have been very exciting because at this rate I contemplated getting two pies for two people.

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Anyways, we eat and try to wait out some traffic, but nothing seems better 30 minutes later so we move on and eventually make our way into Hartford, where I get my number from Lori and we head north another 15 minutes to our hotel. Upon my number, I immediately inspected my swag and was really excited about the long sleeve shirt that came with the race packet.

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Our hotel north of Hartford was nothing exciting, it was somewhere between a motel 6 and a Holiday Inn; comfortable enough to sleep but not enough to keep you from not wanting to get up when your alarm goes off.

6:30 AM for an 8AM start. 45 minutes for me and Tony to get ready, maybe nibble at some bread at the hotel breakfast, drive 15 minutes to Hartford Downtown and be ready to start by 7:45…

All plans have good intentions and although I’ve done countless races, and I should know better… I don’t.

I will take an extra 30 minutes of sleep over a stress free race morning.

Yes, they closed all the exits off the highway and then all the roads leading up to 2 miles to the race start area.

And it’s raining so I’m really in no mood to add an extra 2 miles to my 26.2ish (I ain’t no pro). We circle around with several other cars that are probably in the same, oh shit, I should have woken up earlier problem. There’s police detail, but the weather is miserable and most seem to be hiding inside their squad car and we’re at a loss of where to go. We see another car sneaking through the police barricades via Walgreen and etc. parking lots and Tony follows to get me closer to the start. When I’m a few blocks away and it doesn’t look like we can get any closer, I kiss goodbye and off I head out, hoping the starting line is somewhere nearby.

So I find a starting line… I’m getting ready to wiggle my way in when I hear something about a 5K and I dumbly remember, there are TWO starting lines.

Yes, my dumb wet butt almost started the race in the wrong line.

I quickly, turn away from that started and tried to find people whose bibs matched mine. Luckily, it was nearby and the race already started so I tried to make the best of it.

I don’t know how many people run Hartford between the full and the half marathon, but I know they take up the whole road. I’m not sure how many minutes we’re into the race, it’s raining, so my cell phone is safely stashed in a ziplock in my rain gear I decided to test out. Thank you Adidas outlet $15! I’m not fully sure how late I am, but I could tell by the large mob of people in the front, it must have been a few minutes at least. I tried to make the best of it, and make wave through the people, on the sides, maybe a sidewalk but I’m at a dead end of walking trashbags.

I know, I really try not to judge and I have incredibly respect for all sorts of runners, but theirs is nothing more frustrating than wanting to move forward and being stuck behind a group of women walking at the start of a race. Yes, I know, it’s my fault for getting there late.

I’m pretty much kicking myself and then reminding myself that it’s good I’m being forced to take it slow. After all, I have another marathon in less than 24 hours I should worry about. But if there’s one thing I really hate, it’s running in the rain.

I have run and completed more marathons than I’d like in countless degrees of rain from freezing to heat-wave). If I’m racing, there’s a high chance of precipitation. It’s just how it works. The amount of training runs on my own accord that I have done in the rain? ZERO and I will probably keep it that way. I hate running in the rain. I’ll swim in the rain, maybe even dance in the rain, but I am not running in the rain unless I absolutely have to because I paid to run on that day.

So, I try to make my way through as my current running pace my Garmin is currently having me at a 11 minute per mile on a downhill is driving me crazy. I was starting to feel really wet and really cold. I needed to find space and at least get into a 9 minute jog. Unfortunately, the sidewalk in downtown Hartford is about as pleasant at Providence. And after my faceplant on the pavement a week ago, I try my best to avoid the obstacles.

And then, like a beacon of heavenly light, a few miles in, the half and the marathon course split up. I give praise to one god, or another, or whoever will listen to me. Because finally I have room! What can I say, I love road races, but I’m a claustrophobic at times.

I decided to cover up my Garmin in rain jacket and just run at a comfortable steady pace as if I was doing a regular long time. I pretty much keep my Garmin cover for the next 10 miles or so. I decided that I wouldn’t allow myself a peak until I hit the halfway point.

I slowly started catching up on the pace groups. 4:30 first, 4:00, 3:45, and eventually the 3:30 group where I told myself to slow down. I know that 3:35 is about an 8:11 pace and with the slow/late start, I knew I must have clocked in some sub 8 miles. So it was time to relax more. I had a slow week of running as I tried to adjust to my new work schedule and I knew, the ease of running I was feeling, was the feel of a taper. Nice, but I needed to not use it all up in Day 1 of the weekend.

So 3:30s and I hung out for a good while. I tried my best to stay just in front of them, but still keep them in my sight. I don’t generally like to run in pace groups, because I find them crowded and I like being a lone soldier on the road. Maybe a buddy or two, but otherwise, I don’t like staying in a pack. Also, I’m pretty sure someone in that group crapped themselves around mile 8. I felt sorry for the dude, but not enough to keep smelling it. I’m like a pregnant woman when I run. Any smell can set me off into a gag reflex.

The course for the first 14 miles or so was an interesting mix. We hit the downtown area, some industrial parks and what looked like a really nice running path along a river.  In between that we went up and down highway ramps to go from place to place, but It kind of felt like we were running a circle a bit. There were no real hills, but the highway ramps did start to feel tiring after a bit. I’m sure there were more interesting things to take note of, in fact, the race organizers provide you a very nice long list of things to look out for at every mile, but with the rain and my visor on, I just focused on moving forward and keeping my rain out of my eyes.

The second part of the race was an out and back suburban road. While, I normally find a little boring, it was nice to get even more robotic into my run. There was no, twists, turns, curbs to look out for. I can just run forward, find a turnaround point and run back. It was really cool to see the elite runners run on their way back. First ran the men, then a woman, then some more men. Elite runners always look so elegant. I don’t know how when I run, I always look like an orangutan. My hair is always sticking out at all ends, and the sides of thigh jiggling. I may be able to get faster, but I don’t think I’ll ever get to be a Runners World model. O well, such is life.

We hit mile 20 and I realize, I’m currently running a sub 3:30, maybe 3:25 marathon. Which is probably a very bad idea and I decide now is a good time to walk. I try my best to slow down but the rain seems to only fall harder. I decide to work my best on a run/walk combo at every mile marker. I figured if I turn this into a 20 miler and a 10K easy run, I had hopes of having a strong half marathon at Newport the next day and I thought this would work. Trying to take an easy slow run when it’s miserable outside and you just want to be finish is definitely a mental strength I did not half. The walk breaks at every mile helped, but it was hard to keep walking when the other side of the road runners were cheering you on. So I ran more than I should have and before I knew it, I was in the final two miles. I was closing in on the downtown area finish line, and the crowds of cheering people seemed to get louder. And as I got into the final mile of the race, I forgot all about my walk break and got lost in the cheer and excitement of a crowd and the joy that as soon as I crossed that finish line, I can seek out dry clothes and warmth.

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I found Tony, my loyal cheerleader and crew waiting for me at the finish line as I walked trembling shaking, from the coldness that hits me when I stop running. In the car we cranked up the heat and I began my routine of changing in a car that I’m a pro at by now post races. And I continued by putting on every layer I had with me because I packed like a child the night before bringing everything and nothing I actually needed. Why yes, I am wearing 4 cotton long sleeves and no coasts. It’s the new classy.

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After getting dry, we walked back to the festival. I think the award ceremony probably already happened and I went in search of the food. The food tent at first felt disappointing. They had a cup of those scary preserved fruit, a banana, tomato soup and cold grilled cheese sandwiches. I really wanted some chicken noodle or clam chowder. Luckily, no one minded me taking extra cups of coup and by my third cup; I was starting to feel a bit happier and even wholeheartedly enjoyed my cold grilled cheese.

There was a hot dog stand too, that made my day, even though normally I don’t even go near a hot dog. However, when you’re hungry and you just ran a marathon, you can eat all the crap you want.

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And of course nothing tastes better than a pumpkin beer; no matter how wet it got out there.

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Overall, I had a great time at Hartford and if you’re looking for a race to knock off Connecticut for a state, or just something nearby if you’re from the area, this is a good one!

Pros

  • Volunteers are amazing. Seriously, the only thing I could imagine that’s worse about running in the rain is standing at an aid station in the rain. My most respect to you guys and gals!
  • Music, bands, bagpipe players! It was a shame the weather was so terrible, because I could tell in sunny weather this would have been a giant party
  • The race is really well organized, it started on time, aid stations well stocked and after party village from the food and beer tent seemed in top shape.
  • Relatively flat course, particularly the second half
  • Halloween candy aid station, yes
  • Well at first I didn’t get it, the tomato soup/grilled cheese combo really was comforting
  • Harpoon beer! I like Harpoon as a beer and sometimes I find beer really refreshing after an endurance event. Just not shitty beer.
  • Pretty nice long sleeve shirts, really loving mine

Cons

  • You need to get to the start early since the roads close and unless you’re in a race hotel there’s no way to get there without a car.
  • No day of packet pickups for race numbers which means either paying extra if you register early, having a nice friend whose there early, or taking a day off from work (if you work Fridays).
  • Full marathon and Half marathon starts at the same time causing mass congestions if you want to run your own pace and not the mass pace
  • There’s parts of the course where it’s just the marathon on a bike path that I felt were pretty tight and crowded spots as well. Luckily, I wasn’t racing.
  • Hartford is not a very exciting place to visit, sorry, but its two hours from Boston and two hours from NY so all the fun tends to go elsewhere. So, I wouldn’t really say it’s the best destination race unless you’re on route to somewhere else; but it is a great Connecticut fall race if you’re in the market for one.

Total Time: 3:31:31

Overall Place: 376/2419

Gender Place: 70/1070

I feel pretty happy that I was able to run a BQ on a fairly steady pace. I think with the exception of my first few crazy miles and my last 10K that I tried to slow down in, I ran a fairly steady race with no wall besides the I really wish it would stop raining already wall.

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.

48 Hours in Atlanta, Hotlanta, Georgia

Did you guys miss me? Or forget me? Regardless, I am back!! After being MIA for about a month with the exception of 2 days I spent in Atlanta, I’m happy to get back to my “writing.”

Writing a race recap takes up more time than I currently have available with Boston training and work, so instead, I thought I would share some snapshots from my weekend in Atlanta that wasn’t running those crazy, humid hills.

Sunrise

We took a 7AM flight which sucked waking up for, but we got rewarded with a flight full of screaming babies and a beautiful sunrise over the Boston Harbor.

Cuban 1

After checking into our Hotel, we decided we need food because being up since 5AM makes you hungry. We were actually gonna check out a southern place I found on Yelp, but when I walked by Papi’s Cuban and Caribbean, I knew we had to eat there! I love Cuban food! And yes, this place was one of my favorite meals in Atlanta.

pinkberry

 

On our first day, we tried to walk around Buckhead, except no one in Atlanta really walks around. It got hot, and we decided getting Pinkberry was a smarter option. A day later we came back with a rental car, drove around and gawked at all the mansions. That was a tad bit more fun.

BBQ

After the marathon, I felt like I could eat a pig, literally. So we went for some BBQ. Sweet Water Brew

We got some sample platter that we split at Daddy D’z BBQ Joint. It came with ribs, mac n cheese, corn bread, collard greens, pulled beef, pork and chicken. I think the tender beef was my favorite. And yes, all this meat was more than enough for the two of us.

Little Five Points

After packing in some meat, I showed Tony around some of the neighborhoods, I ran through just hours before.

Coffee Shops

Honorable mention is Little Five Points, which is called “Bohemia” of the south. They had a ton of really cute used clothing stores and I was widely impressed with their selection of dresses compared to the coldness and sweaters of the consignment stores here.

In the evening we visited the Westin, and took the elevator to the top of the Sundial Restaurant. They have an amazing view of what little skyline Atlanta has. Plus it was cool to see the old Olympic Park!

Sundial View

I thought the Ferris wheel looks a little out of place. It’s kinda just in a random parking lot out there haha.

As for dinner, we went to Alma Cocina in downtown Atlanta. I guess me and Tony prefer Latin food over anything else.

Latin 1

I want to jump into the photo and eat the guacamole now!

Latin 2

Arugula salad, since after eating all that meat for Lunch I wanted some greens.Latin 3

Chicken mole for Tony

Latin 4

Some creative ceviche for me!

Olympic Park Me 2

On Monday, we went back and walked around centennial park.

Olympic Park Me

The little area that was packed with runners 24 hours ago, was completely devoid of life as we made our way to the Georgia Aquarium.

Georgia Aquarium

There, I tried to explain to whitey the merits of why running is so much better than swimming.

Georgia Aquarium 2

I love aquariums and marine life. Although I would prefer to be suba diving instead, this is as close as I could get in the moment.

Whale Shark

The Georgia Aquarium is one of the largest in the world and houses a few whale sharks with a large amount of controversy. Entrance is also not that cheap, as its about $39 per person to enter and included a very cheesy dolphin show. Actually the dolphins are amazing, but the story line with the human actors is unfortunate at best. Either way, I decided that despite my internal confusion regarding animal life in cages, the aquarium was a worthy visit.

Mrs Mac's Tea Room

For our final meal in Atlanta, we finally forced ourselves to get southern food with a visit to Mary Mac’s tea room. I got grilled blacken catfish with fried green tomatoes and broccoli souffle that was absolutely amazing! I actually couldn’t finish it all, but I dragged it with me to the airport and it made just as stellar of a dinner.

Mrs Mac's Tea Room 2

Tony got a burger with grits and potato salad. The sides were great!

So my final thoughts on Atlanta? It was a fun place to visit for a weekend. There were so many dining options that I wish I could carry a second stomach to try more things. However, I didn’t find the city very fun for walking. Yes, there’s sidewalks, but no one uses them and it felt like a ghost town with the exception of the weekend. I love the hustle and bustle of the crowd. We started the weekend with no car, but ended up getting one after doing everything we could within walking distance in a day.

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

NYC Marathon Race Recap

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

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

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

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

NYC Marathon Ferry TL

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

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

NYC Marathon Photo Brooklyn Bridge

I think that might be a view of Brooklyn?

NYC Marathon Ferry Sunrise

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

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

NYC Marathon Ferry Bridge

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

NYC Marathon Ferry

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

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

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

As for the rest?

NYC Marathon Layers

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

NYC Marathon Village

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NYC Marathon Pace Group

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

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

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

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

NYC Marathon Liana

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

NYC Marathon Brooklyn

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

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

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

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

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

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

NYC Marathon Final Mile

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

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

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

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

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

NYC Marathon Everyone

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

Overall
Place
Gender
Place
Age
Place
10677 2008 415 7392

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

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