Kaiser Permanente’s San Francisco Half Marathon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And now I go look for more races.

2014 Jamestown Half Marathon Race Report

What a fun weekend!

For the most part, I am a lone weekend warrior when it comes to running and racing, but when I get to combine those moments with friends, I find them most rewarding and memorable. Quite frankly, if it was up to me, I would convert all my friends into runners! Worry not if you don’t run, I’ll still hang out!

Anyway, when we saw a Groupon for $30 for the Jamestown half marathon in the Newport, RI area, a few of my friends and I jumped right on it. Of course little research was done until we realized not only is this race starting at 6:30 AM but it’s also one of the hilliest courses in the region that is still a road race. Great way to try your first half marathon!

So with some planning, we got two nights of hotel in the most luxury level of Ramada Inn. Yuck! But we needed a place to sleep and not spend a small fortune so we put up with the outdated tiny beds and the lack of lighting in the room. We should be sleeping anyways come darkness.

The drive from Boston to Newport was anything but fast, I don’t know what happened, but the highways were backed up all the way to my house. We did eventually make it to the expo, if you can call it that, and picked up the bibs and numbers.

photo 1 (7)

The expo consisted of number pick up tables and a small area with some clearance items and socks for sale. The swag? Was a large sized gender men’s tech shirts that barely had any effort in them. They had some cute baby blue shirts next to them, but those you either had to buy or be part of the triple crown. The triple crown consists of Providence, Jamestown and Newport half marathon. Since I’ve already run the other two, I contemplating doing Newport for the heck of it all. We’ll see.

Anyways, after number pick up, we had dinner and went straight to bed in our luxury accommodations. Despite the tiny bed, I slept quite well. While I wasn’t thrilled about a 5AM wake up call, I didn’t feel completely miserable either. By 5:30 we were all out the door and getting ready to drive to Newport Grand Slots, a casino whose parking lot was hosting the shuttles and parking.

photo 2 (7)

The race organizers kept repeating that we might not start on time unless we get on a 6AM shuttle to Jamestown. What we didn’t expect was that it would take about 25 minutes to get on a shuttle because there was a severe lack of buses to take us runners over. You know, if I’m standing on a line, I might as well pass a bathroom, except those were on a separate long line that we decided to skip and just wait on the shuttle line instead.

Jamestown Group Start

Since the line was barely moving, we decided it was perfect time to take some photos! Not pictured is our friend Kerwin who although was not running probably ended up walking 13 miles on his own since he woke up same time as us.

Once on the bus, the ride was about 10 minutes as well got to watch a beautiful sunrise.

Jamestown Morning

There was about 2,000 runners and for the most part, the porta potty lines were fairly short. I did appreciate the race announcer mentioning that the start is 5-10 minutes late; giving me just enough time to do a pitstop.

Afterwards it’s kiss Tony goodbye, good luck to the friends and dart my way to the start of the group.

Jamestown Start

The race start had no real corral system. Up in the front, I saw a 1:30 pacer chatting with a 2:00 pacer. However, I’m not sure if it was because a few people were still waiting for shuttles or what, but even with 2,000 runners, I didn’t feel too crowded.

For the first two miles I ran with the 1:30 pace group until the hills started to roll. That’s when I told myself to stop being stupid and to slow down to my own pace. It wasn’t the fastest, and I started to get passed by a lot of men, but it felt a lot better than trying to keep up with the lead pack.

Jamestown tomtom1

By 6:40 am, the weather was already 65 and it felt humid and sunny to me. Luckily on the course we did hit a lot of nice patches on shade. At times, I did go outside the cones when I saw no incoming traffic because quite frankly I rather run a longer distance with shade, then be exposed to the sunlight.

jamestown map

As you can see from the map, the course goes around the island with lots of rolling hills to keep your heart rate racing. For the first time in a while, I was actually feeling awesome during the race and ended up focusing on running instead of photographs.

I do remember that the hill at mile 5-6 got the best of me and  I had to take a short walk break. My calves were burning!

Jamestown tomtom2

I think I’m trying to run away from this sweat shirtless dude?

As difficult as hills may be, I really do enjoy the hillier courses. Going up might really suck, but I love passing others on the down side of the hill.

photo 3 (6)

For a while, I was worried the course was short. My garmin was always about .07 of a mile shorter than the mile marker. Clearly, it stopped being an issue when the final mile refused to end and Garmy clocked me in at 13.18 miles. 1:37:18, not a PR, but I was very excited by my time with how the weather was and the rolling hills.

Jamestown Splits

Overall, I feel pretty happy with my race strategy and results. I wanted to reach 1:40 with a plan that my second half of the race would be a bit slower with the heat. However, I was lucky enough to be able to hold onto my pace despite the feel of the hills. I think trying to be more realistic about my goal pace and running a little slower than I normally would for the first half helped me a lot in keeping up with my pace.

After crossing the finish line, I tried to get an icepack for my tendon but the chemical ice wouldn’t get cold enough so I just gave up and went to go cheer on my friends.

JamesTown Half Marathon 5

I loved watching all my friends sprint to the finish line. Unfortunately everyone was running so fast that my IPhone wasn’t fast enough to get photos.

At the finish line they had some bread rolls from a local bakery, cliff bars, water and Gatorade. Enough to get you by, but not a breakfast replacement.

The shuttles to get you back to your car however were not pleasant.

photo 4 (5)

After watching everyone finish the race, we took ourselves to the long unshaded shuttle line where we stood for about 30 minutes. Sweating, hungry, dehydrated but proud and excited with our accomplishments for the day.

Jamestown Group Photo Finish

My friends app showed that I was 3rd place in my age group so I went by the prize packs to see if I would get anything fun. Turns out that because the first two ladies were overall winners, I was actually first in my age group and I got a pretty awesome prize box!

These are the contents of my race pack that I won. I’m very excited for the car cover seat! Tony doesn’t like it when I get my sweat all over our glamorous Prius. Although I really wish I could

The box is really cool though and will now be where I store all my Gus at home.

James Town Prize Pack

Total Time 1:37:18

Average Pace 7:26

Division Place 3/324

Gender Place 9/984

Overall Place 70/1632

First place woman ran the course in 1:19 and finished second place overall! Feeling very proud of the fast ladies on the course!

Pros

Scenic Course – Really beautiful course

Hills – If you love running on rolling hills, this is a fun one

Free photos – I get to share some of these thanks to TomTom sponsoring the race course photos. Always cool!

Cons

Roads Not closed – They use a cone system to give runners a shoulder of the road, but this barely fit anyone single file. Furthermore, I heard from friends that it was hard to pass anyone or speed up because if you got out of the cone area, the cops were yelling at the runners. I didn’t have this issue in the front, but I wasn’t passing too many people either.

Last Mile Might be long – I don’t know if it’s true, but my Garmin and a few others clocked in the final 1.1 miles at 1.3 and that’s within the cone space.

Shuttles – Terrible, the stress of getting to the starting line and the annoyance of waiting for 35 minutes to get back to your car.

Hills – If you don’t like running hilly courses, this might not be for you

No Post Race Hang out area- Unlike other races, there’s not really a great hang out vibe. You grab you banana, some cliff bars and get in line to wait for the shuttle.

Conclusion

Although I’m listing a lot more cons than pros, I think the scenic course really makes up for all the shuttle and cheapness of race organizers issues. Had I paid the full price, I probably would be annoyed at how cheap everything felt, but for the price we all paid, I really can’t complain. It was a blast and great morning run while in Newport.

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!

2013 Narragansett Running Festival Half Marathon Race Recap – Running for beer!

The Narragansett Running Festival was an inaugural event featuring a 5K, 10K, and half marathon that took place on July 21st, 2013.

Registration was actually very minimal (relatively), about $50 for the half, and $24/30 for the 5/10K. Needless to say, the race completely sold out.

Tony was anxious to sign up for another half, after his killer race at Run To Remember in May.  So as much as I detest summer running, summer racing, summer anything, I signed up with him.

Before race day, the race director sent out a few emails reminding everyone to get there an hour early to guarantee start time since the race was held through Stonehill College and roads will get closed. I was a little disgruntled with the warning, but I guess it was a fair enough warning since we needed to pick up our race numbers anyways.

An extra hour was good.

Portapotty line was 15 minutes to spare

Tony’s nephew was running his first half marathon and he made sure we got there an hour early so he wouldn’t miss his first 13.1 race.

My iPhone keeps taking blurry photos, I am not impressed!

We couldn’t tell where the race was to start so instead I took multiple walks to the car and back, stretched, and sweated my tail off as it was already 77 and humid.  I scoped out the crowd.  The half marathon field was relatively small with only 350 runners.  I was a little surprised and impressed that the event wasn’t oversold and overstuffed, like many road running events tend to be.  It was a great small race, and had a trail run feel to it vs. the general road race type.  If you’ve been to both, you know what I’m talking about. If not, go run a trail race! They’re amazing! All you feel is LOVE!

I don’t know who the guy in the marathon maniac shirt is, but I hope he has sunblock on. Speaking from experience, fish net tights make horrible tan lines!

Race Start
Photo by Bud Morton

The half marathon started exactly on time at 8:30. I believe the start went something like that “O it’s 8:30, 3,2,1 go!” I was fiddling with my phone trying to get runkeeper to start. It was a rough morning for me, when I got to the race and realized my beloved Garmin was sitting by my bed plugged into the outlet. I panicked, felt naked and decided to run this race retro!

Before the race started, the director told us it rained before and that we should expect puddles. So of course, I started to have TARC 50/100 flashbacks.

The course wasn’t the best, nor the worse. On the site it said about 95% trail, which I guess is true if you count the gravel, pebbles as road.  Otherwise I would say its more 85-90% road.  A good handful of miles, about 3 or so is scattered through Stonehill College in loops. Another part is on a horse trails and the gist of it, is on a road that goes around the pond. You run through a residential pond area for most of the course. While the road is not closed to traffic, it was in fact light traffic and there was police to help at each intersection. It was a far better experience than at many other races where I ran on an uneven shoulder of a major route with a UHAUL next to me in the pouring rain. (coughHYANNIScough). Also, since the race only had 350 runners for the half, I never had to struggle to weave in and out of other runners. I only really saw a few runners ahead of me, and while I didn’t look, I’m sure there were only a few directly behind me.

Splits1

 I had runkeeper on, but I actually ran without my headphones for about 10 miles of the race. I wanted to save the  music for when I really started to suffer, but I think it didn’t help me save myself from the crash I got after mile 9.

Mile 1-6 I thought I started myself conservative and at a comfortable pace. The course was a rolling course, so the pace variation is more a result of the elevation change rather than effort.

Mile 7-9 These were my struggle miles. The heat was getting to me and maybe I needed electrolytes or something. I was starting to feel dizzy. Luckily, I decided from the beginning that I wasn’t going to race, I was just going to run by comfort.

Mile 10-13 Sometime after mile 9, Tony passed me and that’s when I realized, a month of little running has left me weak. I thought about gathering my remaining energy to race him and then decided I rather save it for another race. Tony, you can have your victory for this one.

Splits2

The last 5K was ugly. Almost as ugly as my 5K at Appleman. I guess running in air-conditioned treadmills instead of outside has made me a complete failure at running in hot weather.

At the end of the day, it’s all about the bling
Yasso Froyo, another great reason for racing!

I’m really glad I ran without my Garmin

Looking at my splits after the fact, had I had my Garmin on, I know I would have freaked out, pushed myself harder and probably overheated and completely crashed like I did in the 2012 Boston Marathon. I’m glad, that without my Garmin, I was able to run by feel and not by pace. And with the exception of the last few miles where I kept getting pebbles in my shoes, I had a great race. I was slow, but so was everyone else. I got passed by a few runners, but not by a swarm. I finished the race and at the end of the day, instead of almost passing out on the grass, I was able to enjoy a full day of ice cream and mini golf.

The boys enjoying their froyo! Tony finished around 1:43 beating me by over 3 minutes and Matt in 2:13:03 and he just started running like 2 months ago!

My brother ran his second 10K!
Tony, looking pretty content with himself

There was a mild issue with them running out of bottle water at the finish line. Luckily, I was able to get a bottle for myself, my brother and Matt before that happened.

The other issue I heard, was that a few 5Kers were pointed in the wrong direction by a volunteer that took their run from 3.1 miles to like 3.8 miles. I would say, that’s a pretty major issue. At one point when I was running and the half marathon converged with the 5/10K race, I asked a volunteer if I was still on the half marathon course since I only saw a sign for 5/10K. Her response was I don’t know. I freaked out a little at first but then decided the 5/10K must end at the same place so regardless it would lead me to a finish line.

Other than that? The race was well-organized, especially for a first year event. There was water every 2 miles. The mile markers were great! There was no congestion at all! There was plenty of bagels, bananas, granola bars, Kind bars, coffee cakes and probably many more post fuel options that I didn’t note.

And my refuel? Yea! Hey, it was a hot day. Yup the beer garden had plenty of beer for everyone that was included in all over 21 race entrants!

The Results
Total Time 1:46:05
Total Pace 8:06
Division 7/63
Total Place  58/334

Conclusion: I think there should be weather PRs!

2013 Boston Run to Remember Race Recap

This was my third year running Boston’s Run to Remember and to be honest not much has changed from 2012.  It still features my favorite half marathon course that starts at Seaport, runs through State Street & West End, kills many miles along the Charles on the Memorial Drive, Cambridge , returns through Beacon Hill, and wraps through the financial district of Boston.  If you run the 5 miler instead of the half, you just miss out on Memorial Drive portion of the run.  I don’t know of any other half marathon course that lets you run through so much of the downtown area, if you do please share!.

I skipped the expo and waited by the door until 5PM on Friday so I could grab my number with a friend.  The race volunteers did make sure that not one person got their number a minute earlier.

Run To Remember 1
We watched the storm gather as we waited for the clock to strike 5PM

Number pick up took a minute or two and with the show of Tony’s license, I was able to steal  grab his as well.  From what I could see of vendor set up, similiar to last year the expo would be small.  8,000 runners is just not enough to lure companies out here I guess =(.

Race Swag

The shirt designed this year compared to prior years was really nice.  Although it was cotton, they had a women’s and a men’s fit so I appreciated that much.

Run To Remember Shirt

The other contents of the bag seemed to vary bag by bag.  Mine had like 30 sunblock samples and too many coupons to count.  Meanwhile my friend got no Marathon sports coupon or sunblock.  I also heard that some people got a Boston Strong pin in their swag bag.  Neither mine or my friends got them so I have no idea if it existed.

The night before routine

I don’t usually have a routine but I went to a BBQ on Saturday.  Meats + a few beers = not a great rainy day pre-race routine.  I ended up eating a toast with peanut butter around 8PM because I didn’t want to run the next day with just beef sloshing in my tummy   Tony copied me because he decided he’s doing everything I’m doing so he can PR.  T & I also prepped some PB sandwiches to take with us in the morning before the race and to save some times in the morning.  That worked out great.  We each also downed about 16 oz of water with one Nuun tab each the night before for hydration.

Race Day

We woke up at 5:40AM and quickly got ready.  I wasn’t sleepy but I felt awful.  My period (TMI I know) was starting and the first two days my body always feels like it’s going through hell and back. I know I have ladies that can relate! As for the men? Just be happy I’m ending my details there.

Anyways the drive into Boston took about 15 minutes and here’s an inside tip, don’t take exit 23 if you’re coming from the north as the website says, take the next exit to south station.  You’ll skip the traffic into seaport and just loop around an extra half mile back.  We parked around 6:45, which if we took exit 23, we would probably still be trying to exit the highway.  Seaport has $5 parking lots but I just wanted to park and not worry so we parked at the closest one to race start near Bank of Pavilion for $14 for 2 hours.

The bathroom lines looked long and I was just not in the mood to go into the smelly horrid thing.  Instead I weighted my options and decided that I’ve held in pee for longer than 13 miles before and that I’ll live.

It was also about 40 degrees at the end of May and raining.  Much different than the 70s weather we got blessed/cursed with in 2012.  The race started a little late but few extra speakers were really touching.   There was bagpipes and a tribute to Officer Sean Collier with his family present.  They also had second bibs honoring him that you could wear on your back but I never saw where you could get them.  Another confusing part of the swag bag.

The Race

I’ll let my Garmin summarize the story, the tragedy that unfolded…

Run To Remember Splits

The first two miles were fast and what I expected but after that my heart just wasn’t in it.  That’s what happens when you run a lot of races.  Sometimes you’re just not in the mood to race, or maybe your mind is but you body isn’t.  The 8 miles on the Charles have never felt more tedious.  I’ve run faster on a training run on the Charles in the past than I did during the race.

Around mile 7 as I was making the turn around point, Tony screamed I’m coming after you as I saw him just a few minutes behind me.  I turned to go deep within me to get faster (since I can’t get his ego too big) but there was nothing.  My pace went from 7:24 to 7:20 but then I decided that was too much work.  I kept turning to see if he was behind me, but luckily, I didn’t see him.

Last 2-3 miles were almost more miserable than the last 2-3 miles of a marathon.  I was running sure, but I just wanted the course to end.  My Garmin was ahead by .3 of a mile and I really regretted having it with me.  I’ve run this course for two years without a running watch and had no problem.  Things to ponder.

When we got back to Seaport, I found some strength, I might not be achieving my goal, I might have sucked for 13 miles, but in the last .1 of a mile, I’m passing everyone else by!  I kicked off and found energy that I wish I was able to dig up many miles before!

The Finish Line

I crossed the finish line and found Dan looking like her barely ran.  15 seconds later Tony hopped on over.  There was boxes and boxes of food available from bananas  to oranges, Cape Cod chips, to coconut water, to this almond/granola breakfast thing, to literally whole loafs of bread! The bread people tried to convince us we should take two loafs! I had to politely decline since I could only see so much bread in so short of a time.  We grabbed a small box to hoard all our spoils of the race in.

Run To Remember 6
A cat burglar tried to steal our spoiled while we napped…

The Results

I finished in 1:36:51.  A PR, an almost 2 minute PR, but I still felt a little heartbroken or maybe just tired.  I was striving for a 1:35 and felt really disappointed in myself.  The course was easy but even the 1:36:51 took a lot of effort to reach for the whole race.  The weather was prefect for running since it stopped raining.  However, no matter how hard I tried, my legs just felt heavy for the entire course.  I don’t know if it was the full week of rain and clouds, the lack of speed workouts, or too much running on Friday, but my legs just had no energy.

Overall Place – 368/6,393
Division – 37/1,610

Tony, Dan and I finished the race and we each had 3 medals and 3 PRs

Run To Remember 2

Tony PRed by like 6 minutes or more from two weeks ago.  He ran a 1:43:16 in Providence but crushed it with a 1:37:05.  He also barely runs beyond the races we do, so feel free to hate him because I do! ❤

Run To Remember 4

In 2010, his first race, he ran 1:58 on the same course.  Since three years ago, his training consists of doing half marathons when I run my races and he has cut it by 20 minutes with probably only like 20 runs!

Run To Remember 5
If you’re wondering what a 1:26:54 half marathoner looks like, this is it. I’m incredibly jealous and proud of Dan!

My friend Dan, who I’ll be chasing after during the NYC marathon, completely crushed the race!  We ran the Malden 10K, two months ago and finished within 15 seconds of each other.  However, between those past couple of months, he has secretly become a white Kenyan.

Run To Remember 3

As you can see, just as soon as we finished running, the day started to get gorgeous.  Still cold but the sun was shining!

Did you race last weekend?

Have you ever been a little sad about a PR before?

Half of Quincy Half Marathon Race Recap

I originally signed up for this race as a Boston Prep speed test check on March 10th.  Then mother nature of New England decided to dump buckets (2 feet) of snow the day before the race.  The city freaked out and canceled the race.  You see, it’s been a rough few weeks for Boston area runners.  Snow and rain for Hyannis marathon, and a full out cancellation for the Hampton, NH half.  So a big part of me was not expecting much luck in a race.  Then the race director surprised us with a new date or an option to defer to next year!

KUDOS!!!

Very few times has a race been rescheduled after cancellation.   And if it has, I have never had an option to defer to next year! I thought about deferring next year, but there was some questions about Quincy allowing the race to happen in 2013, and I didn’t want to risk it for 2014.

So new date May 5th it was!  I think registration was only $45 or $50.  The race started at 8AM.  Since it was a fairly small race, there was a limited number pick up on Saturday (2-4PM at the Y) and most runners grabbing their bibs before the race.

I woke up at 6:45 (I know not a good idea for a race 30 minutes away that starts at 8AM).  In my defense I’m currently battling a cold that’s trying to destroy me.  I usually prep my clothes the night before, but felt too sick and tired.  There was a slight panic at 6:45 when I realized it was going to be high 40s and all my capri pants were dirty.  As much as I didn’t want to, I dug out my winter tights with a grumble and a whole lot of resentment.  It’s May!

On the bright side, I sweet talked Tony into driving me to the start line after some record breaking breakfast eating. On the downside, I gave Tony the wrong directions and got us lost on the way to the race.  GPS, I am not.

Sorry, no self photo for this race.  I was tired, sick and not looking like my pink usual self.

Luckily the closed roads didn’t create much issues in getting to the starting line even at 7:45AM.  I got my number, got my free shirt, checked my bag, visited the bathroom and was at the starting line by 7:57!  I patted myself on the head and brushed my shoulder off right before the bag pipes started.  We had a moment of silence for Boston, and I don’t think I’ve seen as many slightly teary eyes during a national anthem before.

I AM Boston I WILL Run

This little card was in our swagbag.

Anyways the gun went off at like 8:01 and the first 5 miles were a fast blur.  If only the last 5 miles ever felt as good as the first.

I’ve looked at the course map (below) but I had no clue what elevation changes would be.  I said “Quincy is flat, right?.”

Half of Quincy Map

To be fair, although only a few miles from Boston, and one stop off the red line, I have only been to Quincy once.  And that once was to go to Fat Cat after watching a saliva dripping episode of Phantom Gourmet.

Anyways, as I mentioned, the first 5 miles were fast.  Then there was a small bump but nothing too bad.  Next few miles were okay enough.  My pace was dropping and not towards the faster direction…  Then the hills came.  They weren’t large, but enough to shock my body into wanting to stop.  Mile 11, 12, 13 were no longer a blur.  Instead it was slow and I tried to push myself into gear but my quads were clearing only speaking Spanish for Cinco De Mayo that day, because when I said go, they would walk.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the finish line in sight… until I realized I had to run on a track for about 1/4th a mile to reach it.  I have never stepped on a track before.  It felt weird and I tried to sprint but about 200 meters in I was about to throw up and had to walk a second.  How embarrassing!  I’m 200 meters from the finish line and I’m walking!  I wanted to kick myself!

The track that everyone says is good for speedwork didn’t seem so fast, it seemed slow and painful but I crossed the finish line 1:38:43.

Although my Garmin said I only ran 12.99, more than 1/10th of a mile short of the distance.  I know the course is measured and I’d like to think that I didn’t somehow cut off a block since I was following runners in front of me.  I guess I’ll call it a Garmin error?

Quincy Half Marathon

Positive split for the win?

Half of Quincy metal

The medals are super cool.  They’re smaller and lighter than others but I’m in love with the design.  I think the ribbon alone makes this my favorite medal I got in my drawer.

As I was looking up at the results, I got to meet Dani/Weight off my shoulders! Dani PRed on the course after just finishing the Boston Marathon!  I also got to meet her wife and father and invited myself into a ride home =).  Thank you Dani & family!

Quincy Half Food

After finishing the race, I went back to the school and was pleasantly surprised with the food.  At the finish line they had bananas and water, but back at the gym there were two or more tables of sandwiches!

Half of quincy Lunch

There were also two types of soup.  I grabbed a vegetable soup and a grilled veggie wrap and took it with me.

Overall, Quincy half was a great race.  Everything from number pick up, to starting line to finish line went smoothly.  Over 650 runners ran and while the roads were not fully closed (only one direction would be closed), the volunteers and police did such a great job that I was never worried about getting hit by a car.  My only suggestion is wishing they had women’s shirts.  The small they gave me was big and has been donated to Tony’s collection of race shirts Liana runs and Tony wears.

Total Time – 1:38:43
Pace 7:32M
Total Place 118/672
Division 18/111

Less than a minute from a PR!  Maybe if my legs were fresh and I tapered I could have PRed this race but I’m okay with my results.  My priority is the TARC 50 Milers and I must keep my eyes on the goal.

Derry, NH Boston Prep 16 Miler – Race Report

Boston Prep 16 Miler Race Recap

Derry Boston Prep 16 Miler

The Derry Boston Prep 16 miler was held on Sunday, January 27th, 2013 at 10AM.  Race fee was $45 and went up to $55 one week before the race.  I picked up my number at 9:30AM and by then two out of the three parking lots were full.  The first think you will notice upon walking into the gym full of runners is that this is the real deal.  This isn’t the I just want to get in shape and try out running type of crowd.  These are lean fit machines.  These are runners and they are ready to race and race hard.  When they call this the Boston Prep, it really is.  Most people I noticed have ran Boston in the past (or at least own a 2009-2012 Boston Marathon Windbreaker jacket) and from short conversations are training for just another Boston Marathon.

It was cold and a little windy.  Weather was at 16 degrees with wind at 14 mph, windchill around 2 degrees.  I wore everything I mentioned in the winter layers post since I knew what to expect from Saturday’s similar weather.

Greater Derry Track Club

The course is known to be one of the hilliest and most challenging courses in New England for the distance.  I’m not completely sure I would agree.  Maybe I’m in much better shape now but I found the Gloucester Half Marathon I did in May 2012 much hillier and more difficult for me.  The hills weren’t as steep as Derry but they were constantly rolling.  The difficult part about Derry is that there’s a large number of steep downhills and those do a number on your knees.  There are two major steep uphill.  One smacks you around mile 5 while the other keeps punching you between mile 10.5 to mile 13.  The great news?  After your finish your half marathon distance of 13.1, it’s easy cruising from there!

Why this is a perfect Boston training running – Boston is a mostly downhill course with a mean hill at mile 21, Derry is mostly a downhill course with a nasty hill at mile 11.  Derry is perfect practice for training how to take a beating to your knees on a downhill before running against a steep hill.

The video below is a drive view of the race course.  Add some snow to the side and single digit temperature and you’re almost there.

Personal Race Experience

Derry 16 Miler Garmin Report

Miles 1 – The bathroom line was long and by the time I made it to the starting line the race has started and I had to struggle to get through the mass group of people to a better pace for myself.  My stupid Garmin refused to find a signal as well. I was running strong but I wasn’t getting anywhere due to all the people and kept hoping from side to side trying to get through.

Miles 2,3,4 – 7:41, 7:23, 7:40 A mile later my Garmin woke up, and I have come to the middle of the pack, a faster more open group of runners.  It was downhill and I was trying to run as slow and comfortable as possible.  I didn’t have a lot of trust of how far or fast my legs could carry me on what should have been a recovery run.  However, with the downhill miles I was at an average 7:30 Pace. Amazing how you find energy to run so much faster when you’re in a group vs. alone.

Miles 5, 6, 7 – 8:19, 7:44, 7:40 There was a hill around mile 5, I also remember it suddenly getting really cold as we ran in a shaded part of the course. I saw the clock say something like 40 minutes and since I started the race late I think I was still at a 7:43 average pace.  Official results say I was at 39:21 or 7:53 pace at 5 miles.

Miles 8, 9, 10 – 7:44, 7:52, 8:29 I remember these miles just feeling comfortable until I needed to pee.  I knew there was a porta potty at mile 10.  I saw a sign in regards to it in mile 10 and yet I somehow missed it and ran past it. You can also tell where the hill started… yup. Mile 10 was crossed at 1:18:29, 7:51 pace.

Miles 11, 12, 13 – 8:32, 8:51, 7:47 Starting at 10.5 Miles, it was hills, up and a little down, to more up up, to down.  Surprisingly I was able to keep running through most of the hills  I didn’t say it was fast running, but there was some running.  I walked a little when my quads were burning but for the most part I tried to shuffle up the hill.  Also hills, and a desire to pee is not too comfortable.  I think I debated the merits of peeing at the side of the road in front of my fellow runners, however, after the great show of community support and race volunteers, I couldn’t bring myself to be that disrespectful regardless of how desperate my need was growing.  At this point with the hills, my average pace was 8:00 according to the Garmin. Official results say I crossed the 13.1 barrier at 1:44:27, 7:59 pace.

Miles 14, 15, 16 – 7:46, 7:20, 7:02 These were a blast.  I knew the hills were over and I gunned it down the road.  I ran the last 3 miles in about 20 minutes.  I was surprised that with all the miles this weekend, and the hills, I still had so much kick left.  I guess that’s what happens when you pace your race instead of gunning down until you slowly burn out.  The only frustrating part was that the last 2 miles were on a main road that wasn’t fully closed.  It was a mash of runners and cars and it was a little hard to run my heart out while watching my back for a heart.  After crossing the finish line I kept running because peeing my pants was not how I wanted to remember this race.

Total Time 2:05:36
Total Pace 7:52
Total Place 141/556

Post Race Fuel – This was probably the most food I have seen available after a race.  There was no finishing medal but the availability of food to refuel on more than made up for the lack of bling.

Derry Boston Prep 16 Miler Free Food

To recap everything that was available for consumption because every runner is a secret fatty – pizza, nachos, salsa, cheese spinach dip, chilli, chicken soup, tomato soup, yogurt, yogurt drinking sticks (gogurt), pretzels with yogurt sauce, hot chocolate and probably more things I missed.  This is one race that you will have to work really hard to leave hungry.  When one of the volunteers asked me if I needed a tray, I was a little confused but as you can see from above, I made full use of that “Tray.”

Overall great race, great crowd, great course, and great food!