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Richmond Marathon, the 3rd and Last Attempt.

This was it. The final marathon of 2018 I trained to race and finally see the red digital number I had worked so hard for, appear as my foot crossed the blue and red timing mat…

Richmond Marathon took place on November 10th, 2018 and I was as ready as I could have been although I was beginning to grow tired of racing marathons. I’ve never been one to “race” more than 1-2 half marathons per year, so racing 3 marathons was a lot and after all is done, probably too much mentally and emotionally to handle.

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When i pick out a race and start miles of training, I truly throw myself eyeballs deep into it. It will take a lot to skip a scheduled run. I will wake up before the sun or go out in the pitch dark evenings of the icy, winter to get the training it in. Nothing will hold me back, nothing will conquer me. But with each race after Boston, I found myself kinda falling out of love with racing, especially the marathon distance.

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Pre-Race!

Richmond training was different. The miles were there, the speed was there, but my heart wasn’t. I was supposed to run a 3:15 marathon at Richmond because it’s what I trained for. On paper my training looked excellent, but I was struggling between the ears.

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On the morning of Richmond, I was happy and content. Stephen was running the 8k that morning which started about 30 minutes prior to the marathon, which kept my mind busy and off my race. I got to send him off and watch his start. Then I got myself ready and dropped my bag (as well as allllll the extra layers) at the bag trucks. It was supposed to be 45 and sunny. I was excited to be running in shorts, in a new city, running my 7th marathon.

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37:32 (7:33/pace) after flying in from FL the night before!

The start of the race was nothing new, just familiar and meditative. Getting the crowd energized, the National Anthem, last minute stretching, eating, sipping, lace tying, watch beeping, then the start. Hearing thousands of shoes pelting the ground, people cheering in stereo along the barriers, we ran together forging a bond, ready to complete a 26.2 adventure through Richmond.

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It was beautiful. The sun peeked out, the weather was perfect, my legs felt alright. Not perfect, but alright. First miles don’t dictate the outcome of a race, usually the first miles are big, fat liars.

Somewhere around mile 5 someone who looked like Bart Yasso gave me a motivational “you’re looking great!” I found myself flowing in and out of race pace, 7:30s good, 6:55s slow down! The plan was to stick around 7:20/pace and speed up after the halfway mark.

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After 13 miles, I couldn’t find the push to go any faster. I was still on pace for a PR (anything faster than 7:40/p) and decided not to push, but to feel out a few more miles and adjust. I’m thankful I did because the park had tree coverage and I didn’t realize how windy it was. There were 14 mph headwinds for the remainder of that marathon. And it just crushed me and my already worn down spirit.

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I hate admitting that. The wind really deflated me. I always try and push as hard as I can when the going gets tough, but I saw pace slow and I kept getting side stitches from swallowing too much air from the wind flow and breathing hard. I had myself a little pity party, pretty sure I walked a few times, but I made sure to finish the marathon strong. I wasn’t getting my time goal, I wasn’t setting a personal record that day, but my god, i’m running in shorts and a tshirt and the love of my life is waiting for me at the finish. Life is good.

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I barreled down that final half mile (mostly because it was a downhill finish) crossed the line, felt a giant relief come over me and I walked on. Bart Yasso again my angel for the day, high-fived me and said, “GREAT BQ! CONGRATS!”  3:24:41 Oh man… Did I qualify for Boston, under the new time constraints? That was pretty cool. I kinda forgot about BQ’ing since the wind wouldn’t shut up. I use to dream about what it would be like to qualify for Boston, and now i’m doing it on a bad day. I need to stop taking that for granted.

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Finally I made it to where Stephen was. I don’t remember exactly what I said verbatim, but it was along the lines of, “I’m done with the marathon.” As soon as those words left my throat, I felt that heavy heart I was carrying for so many months disappear. I cried and laid into Stephen’s underarm while we walked toward the beer tents. Then he asked what most people ask as soon as you cross a finish line, “so what’s next?” And I raised my right hand with 5 fingers and the left with an “O” shape. He laughed, seemed excited and said “OK.”

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50 miles it is.

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We’re both signed up for this years JFK50! A new distance for both of us!

Then we hit a few local breweries up to refuel before heading home. This race, city and atmosphere was really great. I don’t know if i’d run the course again, mostly because there are SO many other places and races to run, but never say never!

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Ever get burnt out on a single distance or activity?

What is your favorite distance? 


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Philadelphia, You Sexy Beast.

Sorry about the delay, I finally sat down to write the recap!  I usually have tons of immediate thoughts about what went right, what went wrong, what i could have done different. But it happened, I had the perfect race. I guess I can Tarantino this race recap since most of you already know the result. 3:20:59. I’m a 3:20 marathoner and qualified for Boston!

This smile sums it up: i’ve been extremely content and overwhelmingly happy with the outcome.

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First beer post race

The week of the race was littered with ups and downs. The weather wasn’t looking favorable and Cameron got sick, so i was afraid I was catching his cold. My diet the week of the race consisted of carbs, water, nuun, zicam, vitamin c, and a few nights of 9+ hrs of sleep.

I had a few pep talks from clients and friends when the forecasted wind started stressing me out. Basically, I was ready to trash my goals for a sub 3:30 marathon because of the wind, but was quickly reminded that I trained super hard for this race, i’ve ran in crappy conditions all year and I could do this if I raced smart. Saturday came and I was feeling confident and ready to run.

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My bib number was perfect: 2600. I know it’s a little superstitious, but the bib from the Parks Half Marathon I did in September was 2612 and i’ve had good vibes about 26 this entire training cycle. This was the first time running a marathon that the miles didn’t scare me. I was prepped and ready to run 26.2 miles, I was only nervous about the weather.

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relaxing in the Sonesta hotel

We went out for pasta and the rest of the night was spent finalizing my playlist, hydrating & eating, charging electronics, choosing what to wear for the windy morning, and coming up with a game plan for the windy race.

The plan was to go out slower than goal pace for the first 10 miles in order to conserve energy that might be wasted against headwind. I kept telling myself that the Hansons Brooks Method I used, trained me for the back half of the race, not the beginning. The book said the first 10-16 miles should feel good. And that was my plan. Make sure the first 16 feel good and comfortable while staying close to goal pace. Then i could reassess and start speeding up. According to the weather and the course map, the wind was blowing from the west, and the last 6 miles were heading back to Philly, eastward. At mile 20, cross your fingers, pray for a tailwind and if worse comes to worse, you made it to 20 miles you push as hard as you can and don’t stop.

Game plan in place.

The next morning came quickly, but i felt good. I was prepared to do my best, I trusted the training and my race plan. Our hotel (the Sonesta) had shuttle service to the start, which was pleasant. It was cold out, but not awful. I used the bathroom, got right back in line and used it again 20 minutes later–best advice for a marathon, don’t wait until you have to go to the bathroom, just get in line cause you will.

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I headed to the start corrals, focused on positive thoughts, my breathing, making sure shoelaces were double knotted and comfortable, Garmin was on, and the sunrise… it was pink and orange and beautiful.

Then we started. My playlist began and I settled easily into an 8:00ish/pace. As usual during a big race there was crowding in the early miles and i wasn’t about to fight it and waste energy. I settled right behind the 3:35 pace group and stayed there for 4 miles.

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I get asked often what I listen to while running, so here’s the start of playlist “26.2”

My ipod was playing super relaxing music, just what i wanted to keep my breathing normal and pace slow. This was probably the first time during a goal race I wasn’t feeling any pressure or anxiety while running. My inner dialogue was a lot of: “this feels too easy. Good, it’s supposed to feel easy, it’s only mile 5.” I kept holding myself back doing anything stupid so early on.

 

For the most part, I didn’t notice the wind, but was happy i was wearing gloves, a headband and sunglasses! We had one major gust here and there, but not enough to where I felt like it was affecting me. At one point there was a gust for a few seconds that caused me a guy running beside me to look away, shield our faces and cringe a little. When it stopped we both looked at each other and laughed. I feel like that dude was having a good day too.

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Laughing into the wind, I started thinking about when to run faster. I was approaching mile 10 and finally had some elbow room as the crowds thinned out. I could see my paces getting slightly faster and I was feeling better with each mile, stronger with each step. I bartered with myself a bit. Make it to the halfway mark, see how you feel and we can start slowly getting into a faster pace.

Mile 13 came quickly, I felt better than alright, it was the easiest 13 miles i’ve ever run in my life. Alright halfway time to work a little and see where we’re at come mile 16. I have the legs under me and the workouts behind that supports a hard 10 mile effort. Come on 16…

“I wonder if I can go to Crossfit on Tuesday…” <—Literally what was on my mind right before mile 16 beeped at me. “Okay, now this is too easy. I have a BQ as long as I don’t do anything stupid. I have 4 miles until the turn around point where the wind should be at my back. Four miles to speed up and deal with wind and hills and then I get pushed home. I’ll let my legs fly at 20. Just get there first.”

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Mile 20? 7:30? Alright it’s time for the legs to show off. And like that. I switched gears and started hauling forward. I was hyper alert and aware of my body and knew I had a 4th and 5th and 6th gear to shift into.  When 20 came I was actually excited to see how fast I could run after holding back, saving energy and being smart. I wasn’t going to hit a wall. I wasn’t going to be disappointed. Even knowing I had a Boston Qualifying time, my mentality shifted to, “let’s see how much time I can go under.”

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I flew. I did not have one person pass me the last 10k. I had a smile on here and there and was constantly reminding myself to be grateful of this body. I realized that all the hard workouts…all the tempos in humidity, the mile repeats on hills, all the Crossfit Wods where I thought my heart would surely explode, were exactly why I had the power and mental stamina to not just muddle my way through 26.2 miles, but to own them. This was my workout of the day and I killed it.

I was powering through the last mile and started getting a cramp in my left foot. At this point I was ready to be finished, but I didn’t see signs of how far left I had. I knew I was close and this is where the tunnel vision set in. One foot in front of the other, throw your arms forward and get across the line. In my left ear I heard Cameron shout my name, in my right ear I heard the loud speaker say “Cori Maley, Silver Spring” and I didn’t realize where I was. In an instant I saw a time clock, a banner and my foot go over the first timing mat.

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I took a huge breath in, and let it out in a cry. A tidal wave of relief, happiness and pride overcame me. I was proud of myself. Proud.

I found Cameron, hugged him over the metal barricade still sobbing. I was so happy it hurt. He told me my time of 3:20:59… 30 minutes faster than my last, and 15 minutes faster than the Boston Qualifying time I needed.

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I have a pretzel in my mouth which is why my cheeks are super big! haha

This won’t be the last I talk about Philly. I have a thousand more thoughts on this race. For now i’ve been happy and content and enjoying the moment. Hang tight, tips for running your best marathon are going to be up soon!

Last Week

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: Crossfit, 5m easy 9:15/pace

Wednesday: 6m whatever I felt like 7:38/pace

Thursday: Crossfit, 5m easy 8:10/pace

Friday: 1.5hr barbell skill work 

Saturday: 10m easy 8:35/pace, 40 minutes lower body (PR’d deadlift 2 x 1 @ 195lbs)

Sunday: 5.5m trail running 9:41/pace

Total Miles: 31.5

Anyone running a December race?

How much time do you take off after a race?


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DE Beach Trip + Parks Half Marathon Recap!

 

Monday: 7m easy 9:50/pace

Tuesday: 8m interval (3 x 1m repeats 6:40, 6:37, 6:35), Crossfit

I broke my phone a week back and a lot has had me on the go, so i’m a little behind in uploading pictures and sitting down to blog. Forgive me? Good, cause a lot happened. Two weekends ago I drove out to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware for a friend’s bachelorette party. It was a super low key, relaxing girls night. Just the way I like it.

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Seriously such a pleasant quick trip. Sarah got married on September 18th and I was so happy to spend time with her family!

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Sarah & Kristin

The following day the beach was beautiful. The weather was perfect, the water was green and blue and we spotted dolphins on our walk down the sand.

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As much as I wanted to stay at the beach all afternoon, being a runner called for an early trek back home to pick up my bib for the Parks Half Marathon race the next day. I ran it last year and it’s one of my favorites. As long as I live here I will run this race. It is so fun, so coordinated and the swag is killer with a Brooks long sleeved shirt and a finisher’s blanket!

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The race start is 15 minutes from my house making the morning of the race super easy. I ate my normal meal: pb & banana, coffee, water + Nuun, and a Honey Stinger Waffle during the drive to the start. I actually had time to use the port-o-potty twice and got a quick warm up in. Compared to the last several races, this was a big deal!

The weather was warm and humid (73 degrees & 75% humidity)- if you’ve been following any blogs from the DC/Baltimore area the summer humidity has not let up! It feels like we’re living in Florida. It’s getting annoying.  Annnyyyway… my goal for this race was to run 7:20/pace however, with the warm weather, I naturally fell into a 7:30-7:40/pace instead (about 20 seconds off my goal marathon pace) which felt generally easy.

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I love running the Parks Half because it runs along several trails I’m on often. It’s familiar, i know every crack and divot, every turn and hill, so i knew where to push and where to slow down. I had a huge mental advantage with this race.

The physical advantage had to do with the marathon training plan I’m on. Hansons is not joking when they talk about cumulative fatigue and how you will learn to run on tired legs. Training for an ultra and then heading straight into this program, I can’t remember what it feels like to run on fresh, rested legs. It sounds bad, but I love it. I love knowing I can run through fatigue and run well at that. I keep envisioning the last 10 miles of the marathon and I know this is what will make the difference when the general fatigue sets in.

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This race was so much fun and worked like a long tempo which i was more than happy with. I crossed the uphill finish with a time of 1:40:22, grabbed a coffee from Panera and made my way back home.

2016 Parks Half Marathon - Photo by Dan Reichmann, MCRRC

2016 Parks Half Marathon – Photo by Dan Reichmann, MCRRC

I took my bib number 2612 as a sign that i’ll have a good marathon in Philly since it looks like 26.2 🙂

Last Week

Monday: 6m easy 10:00/pace

Tuesday: 9m intervals (6 x 800s), Crossfit (also did 3 x 800s)

Wednesday: 7.8m easy 9:40/p

Thursday: Crossfit

Friday: 5m 7:30/pace Ragnar Relay

Saturday: 9.1m 8:15/p Ragnar, 7m 12:00/p Ragnar

Sunday: Rest

Total Miles: 43.9

Do you have a favorite local race?

What’s the best race swag you’ve received?

 


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Zooma Annapolis 1/2 Marathon Recap!

Monday: 9.5m easy 8:35/pace

One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to be a more social runner. Maybe join a running group, run with friends, make new friends, reach out to people in the area who have the same interests… It’s hard to step outside my bubble, but i’m getting better at it, and enjoying each experience. When I was accepted to be a Zooma Ambassador I had no clue i’d be making friends and becoming part of a group of women who truly support and care for one another.

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It was so much fun putting names to faces…well, more like blogs and instagram handles to faces. These girls are smart, funny and all about a good time.

The morning of the race was nothing out of the ordinary. A runner leaving the same hotel lead me and Lauren (Breathe Deeply and Smile) out of the way to get to the start line, and like all the races this season we had 8 minutes between the port-o-potties and jogging to the start line. Hey, at least I didn’t have to pee in public this time. hahahah ugh.. please laugh with me.

We even missed the group ambassador photo–but i’m sharing it anyway because everyone looked awesome!

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Lauren and I didn’t have a game plan. I didn’t know we’d be running side by side the entire race, but it kinda happened that way. Neither one of us was planning to PR or pushing a crazy pace. We settled in around an 8:00/pace. Between the hills and humidity, that felt a lot harder than it should have. I wasn’t mentally or physically prepared for this race. Hence my struggle fest picture below.

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We didn’t talk to each other most of the race, just a a quick word here and there checking in and making sure we weren’t holding each other back. Lauren has a very similar running cadence so i kept picturing us as Shalane & Amy at the Olympic Trials. A stretch sure, but i felt like we looked strong side by side and were helping each other keep our heads in the race.

The course was hilly with a lot of out and back turnarounds in neighborhoods. I would have gotten lost had the volunteers not been there. Running around Annapolis was super fun, i’ve only done it one other time and promised myself i’d return.

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The details of this race are sort of lost, i think i was so focused on not stopping and getting the work done, such as ascending the giant bridge twice.

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photo cred: Deb Strong, Zooma Ambassador

Also, i was scared of losing Lauren. For the majority of the race we were alone or around only small groups of runners at a time. If she wasn’t next to me it would have been easy to  stop, walk or slow down plenty of times. She was my prime source of motivation. This was my first time running a race with someone, and i liked it! It was fun, we felt like a team in our matching blue Zooma singlets, passing runners together and laughing at times when we thought we may have taken a wrong turn.

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We crossed the finish line, grabbed water bananas & trail mix, took some blog pics and got out of there. It took a few minutes for us to cool down from the humidity–that was a SWEATY race. The New Balance singlet kept me cool even though it was soaked. I might be investing in some NB tanks for the summer.

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My official time was 1:45:23, 15th overall and 3rd in my age group. Zooma put on a great race. I loved it, the volunteers were outstanding and the much needed on course water stations were spaced perfectly. I feel like I came out of this race a strong, supported, female runner.

Once I got home I made Cameron take me to get pizza and a hard coffee. I was in heaven…

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I can drink coffee with any meal. Don’t judge. Till next time…

What’s your go-to after race meal?  

Any summer races?