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RAW: A Boston Marathon Recap

It was like running on a treadmill in a freezer, with someone throwing buckets of water at you with a high velocity fan to the face and another person is just fucking with the incline button for 26 miles.
-Cori Maley

Yep, that’s me describing the Boston marathon either on the ride home to the hotel or at dinner that evening. I honestly can’t remember, the entire day was such a cold, wet blur.

The day before marathon Monday the tv weather forecast read: “RAW” (where it usually says cold, warm, ice, snow etc.) I pointed at the tv and asked Steve if he knew what the hell that meant. Raw. 40 degrees, real feel 22 degrees, 15-20mph sustained E/SE wind (that means headwind for the duration of the marathon), gusts up to 50mph and oh yeah, watch for falling trees. Splendid.

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I woke up in Boston Monday, April 16th feeling excellent. Better than I thought i’d feel, even though I knew the weather was going to be a disaster. My head was screwed on right. I was going to face the hardest race conditions of my life head on for 3+ hours. Stephen reassured me that morning (and all the weeks leading up) that I was well trained for this, and a very strong runner. I’d finish the race and run the best I could. Like I always do.

I had good feelings until we got on the busses taking us to Hopkinton. All I heard for the hour drive were runners throwing their goals in the trash, talking about how hard this was going to be, how awful the weather was, they “can’t believe this is their Boston experience” etc. I stayed as positive as possible. I knew my goals were lofty and I would have to shift to effort based running depending on the wind, but my god people… rain isn’t a big deal and to throw your race, to throw 16-20 weeks of tough marathon training down the drain because the weather wasn’t ideal? In my head as I sat silently amongst some very negative runners, I knew I was mentally tougher than most.

I’m not delusional though. I do understand the affect of the elements. Temperature, weather, wind, cold, the sleet that started coming down while I waited the 40 minutes for a port-o-potty were going to slow my pace. While standing in line, a girl from Charlotte, NC caught my eyes under the mylar blanket i hooded myself in and went off like a cannon. “Can you believe this sh*t?? This is going to be *expletive* horrible! I can’t believe I flew in from NC!!!” …yada yada more expletives, you get it, she was NOT happy. I turned to her, red faced, purple lipped, shaking and said, it’s not going to be that bad once you get moving. Yeah this weather sucks, but you know what, we get to run a marathon today and when we’re done we get to say we ran Boston. It might not be that bad, try to stay positive.

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It might not be that bad. <—This was about as close to rainbows and butterflies as my morning went. Once I finally made it to the bathroom, my corral was already 15 minutes ahead, walking down to the start, which was a .7 mile walk away from the mud pit ahem i mean, Athlete’s Village.

I sat down on the mylar blanket. If you don’t know what this is, it’s the shiny space blanket runners get after marathons to keep their body temperature warm. It was a life saver and I just so happened to find it on the bus that morning. Alright, so, I’m on my blanket to try and stay out of the mud, to change socks, get my ipod ready, my fuel belt on. Last minute details which should have been easier had my fingers worked. It took longer than normal, I fumbled and cursed. I wish I had more clothes, I wish I had Hot Hands, I don’t want to run like this. I don’t want to run. It might not be that bad. Walking to the start corrals, it felt good to get moving, and was entertaining to see so many people trying their best to stay dry. Like walking to the corrals with grocery bags around their shoes. News flash: in rain like that, your shoes don’t stand a chance. In ankle deep puddles, which we hit in the first mile, your shoes don’t stand a chance. Just pray you wore the right socks to avoid blisters.

Am i boring you yet? I just think it’s important to set the stage as to what went on before the race started. This was the first and only time in my running career I wanted the race to end before I even stepped foot on the course. I can’t tell you how uncomfortably cold I was before the start. But once the gun fired, and our corral was off, I did get excited to start running and hoped to warm up, still optimistic things would get better.

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I embraced the rain. It honestly never bothered me too much. I kinda enjoyed running through the puddles, except when I got splashed from the runners at my sides: It felt like my crotch was getting water boarded. That was COLD rain. Cold. Icy cold. The rain was coming down. Off and on it would let up and drizzle, then in the next minute would downpour where I couldn’t pick my head up to look around. Notice I’m not describing the small iconic towns leading to Boston like most articles and recaps would normally detail. It’s because I didn’t see most of it. I wore a hat to shield the water from my eyes, which helped a ton, but looking up and around was mostly out of the question.

I remember seeing a train station in Framingham (i think) and thought it was pretty cool, then my head went back to looking ten feet in front of me. This is why I felt like I was running on a treadmill. I stared at asphalt for 3 hours. About 5-6 miles into the race my feet and fingers regained feeling. This isn’t so bad and my splits were looking alright. I kept reminding myself not to go too fast, stay conservative for the Newton Hills and the cold/wind which will zap energy. I needed to save all the energy I could to get to the finish.

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Around mile 8 I saw a Medical Tent and asked myself if I wanted to drop out. I started doing time/distance/Uber/How-mad-would-Stephen-be math in my head, then looked at my watch, hitting 7:30-7:40s pretty consistently and not actually feeling bad isn’t enough of a reason to drop out. But I wanted to. A lot. Also, I thought I might have to pee… but getting into a port-o-potty was completely out of the question. I knew if i sat in something out of the wind and cold I wouldn’t get back out, and didn’t want to worry anyone watching the app, getting mile splits and wondering what the heck happened if I just stopped.

I told myself to get to the halfway mark and assess. I tried high fiving kids, but my fingers hurt too much. I still gave my best smiles to volunteers, officers and to the crowds that lined the course. They were all so awesome, so needed, so necessary. 13 miles came and I hit the halfway mark at 1:40, which meant if I negative split somehow, I could squeak in a small PR today. I wasn’t running happy, I did NOT have a good time out on the course, but I was super pleased with my effort which reflected my training paces more than the clock would show that day. In hills, I slow about 25 seconds per mile, the same in winds above 15mph. The fact that i was going 22 seconds slower than my marathon goal pace in wind, cold, rain, etc says a lot. And I would have had a great PR if just one of those dang elements were absent that day.

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Alright back to the epic cold run. The Newton Hills. I saw the sign that said you were entering Newton (about mile 15-16) and i knew there would be some climbing until Heartbreak Hill at 21. My head went down and I went back to work. Watching the asphalt fly under my feet, feeling the gentle grade changes, up and down. Finally, I looked up again and saw a Nuun tent! Woo! Picked up my one and only cup from the race (I was holding a small 10 ounce bottle with Tailwind that took me 13 miles to drink) and shortly after I glanced up and saw a brown banner that said “Heartbreak is Over!” This was the only time on the course I laughed, I can’t believe i was holding back for this… Heartbreak hill was easy, the Newton Hills were just a few grade changes, knowing the last 5 miles were generally downhill, I hit it and tried to run faster. Tried.

My legs wouldn’t open up. I couldn’t finish as strong as I wanted, I couldn’t feel my quads at this point. The cold and wind were holding me back quite literally. I still pushed and maintained, fought and rallied. I was keeping an eye out at Mile 23, my friend Jordan and her husband Jake were going to be on course, and I desperately needed a pick me up. Somewhere around 22 (I think, it could have been earlier, this was all such a blur) I saw a woman holding a sign with a cartoon beer mug and what looked to be a dixie cup of glorious pilsner. I did a middle of the road 90 degree left turn and asked, “IS THAT BEER?!” She smiled and handed it me. I chugged the 6 ounces of liquid carbs and pain killer. Sorry mom, I take candy, booze and other things from strangers. Quite often now that I think about it.

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The 23 sign came and went and I was a little disheartened, but not more than a few moments later I heard Jordan and Jake screaming my name and holding a wet, white sign that read Cori Maley Whiting, IN! (my hometown and where I know Jordan from) I stopped to hug her and started crying/hyperventilating and she yelled at me to keep going. It took a few minutes to stop gasping for air (crying and running is not easy).

I needed that. I could run a 5K. I will finish. I tried to pick up the pace, I suppose I did here and there, but my legs were ice cold and still couldn’t open my stride. When I tried, the wind was quick to put me in my place. I saw my watch, did quick math and knew I was close to a PR, but I didn’t think it was smart to attempt to push 7:00 minute miles just for a few seconds off my current best time. I chose wisely and tucked my headphones away (my 10 year old ipod nano is now broken btw) and took in what I could of the last half mile of Boston. The iconic, “Right on Hereford, left on Boylston” repeated in my head.

And like that, it was over.

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I crossed the Boston Marathon finish line, profusely thanked the volunteer who slung a medal over my neck and to the women who wrapped me in the very fancy velcro hooded mylar coat and heard my group yell to me. Steve, Clint & Matt were right there behind the barrier. I left the food, drinks, free Sam Adams beer for the other runners, I just wanted to get out of the weather.

3:21:54 (1:05 slower than my PR)

Steve was so proud of me, my effort and impressed with my splits. I felt the same, I was pleased with my effort, even though I did not have one ounce of fun. I never gave up and I stayed positive. That in itself was worth starting and will make me an even stronger runner for future races.

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After marathons I usually cross the line with a new version of self worth, appreciation and knowing I can accomplish big things. But after that day in Boston, I feel unbreakable. I truly feel like I can get through anything. I have run in rain, heat, snow, sleet, hail, wind, ice, 9 degrees, up trails, down mountains, through mud and in the middle of the night. Stephen has pushed me so far out of my running comfort zone during the last year so I could become a better runner. He saw potential in me during our first trail runs together where I was SO uncomfortable and afraid and constantly rolling ankles and sobbing because it was just too plain hard. Why am I gushing so much over him? Because I wouldn’t be the runner I am today if it weren’t for him. I’ve never had someone believe more in me. I owe him. He just made me fall more in love with a sport i’m already obsessed with and gives me the courage to constantly do my best.

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My final thoughts on Boston: It was that bad. And totally not fun but I’m so glad I didn’t skip it or quit along the way and so happy with my effort and the time I crossed the line with. As much as I didn’t want to go back and repeat Boston, I may just have to…I would kinda like to see the course. haha.

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Tuesday morning I gazed out the hotel window at the Charles River one last time before we drove back to Maryland. It was dry, cloudy, 45 degrees and with my head cocked to the side like a dog, I noticed the waves on the river were moving the opposite direction. A western breeze. Absolute perfect marathon conditions with a tailwind. Funny how life works like that sometimes.

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Savage 7K Race Recap!

It feels weird recapping some of these fall races, but I love documenting what I can recall and the Savage 7K holds a special place in my heart. Savage is home. Running a local race right down the street was the best way to break in and explore the new neighborhood. And of course, my own personal favorite, meet neighbors who run. I.E. my new best friends.

I decided to push a hard effort and test speed for the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM recap here and here) at the Savage 7K and Ragnar DC. Both races were within the same week of September without tapering which made it brutal. But it was a great training week due to the elevation, heat and overall effort of both races.

The Savage 7K was a half mile walk from our house with the usual suspects: Stephen, Clint and I. We walked up together to the start line, got our bibs, started stretching and warming up, then Stephen found out a race quirk of mine. He wanted to tear off the bottom part of the bib where it lists the name/sex/age on a perforated edge and he reached for mine and I jumped back, wide eyed and basically told him not to touch my race bib until after the race.

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Me, Clint & Steve

I don’t think i’ve ever had anyone try to touch, rip or adjust my bib in the past, but apparently I don’t want anyone touching it until I cross the finish line. Pretty sure I said “What if i win?!” (Most small local races will tear off your info from the bib to keep the order of the runners.) In the same respect, okay just another weird quirk of mine, is not trying on the race shirt until after I complete the race. It’s just bad juju. I haven’t earned the shirt yet so I won’t put it on until it’s over.

After making fun of me a little we all edged to the start line and were ready for takeoff! Kinda literally because the first mile was straight up about 85 feet –which is similar to Heartbreak Hill in Boston so I will be charging up that thing as much as possible between now and April 16th!

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We also made a meme out of Clint from the picture above..we dubbed it “Regretful Race Guy”

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I knew the first mile was going to be brutal so I tried to take it at a moderate effort knowing I could make up time. I also had no clue how to pace a 7k, so this was a “don’t go out at your 5k pace, but don’t sit back for too long either.” It was still a short race and marathon runners should remember how to settle into the pain cave every once in a while.

After the massive hill, it took a bit for my legs to recover on the rolling hills on the Patuxent Branch Trail This is where I caught up with Steve, probably said some nice words to him (I can’t remember) and then I took off to run my own race. Once we emerged from the trail there were a lot of in and outs of residential streets (which I personally loved because of the breathing room.) I was hurting through the last 2 miles. I wasn’t thinking of too much other than the finish and making my legs turnover.

And just when I felt like giving up and slowing down about half mile from the finish our neighbor Jason showed up on his Segway and started cheering me on! It gave me a huge boost on the final turn and he rode beside me almost across the line. He actually made me smile and laugh during the last few painful moments of the race.

I crossed the finish at 31:08 (7:10/pace) as the first female and it felt awesome. As soon as I grabbed water I stood next to the finish cheering in the other runners. It felt so good to be a cheering as Stephen, Clint and other runners crossed the line.

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When the awards were given out and they called my name, Steve shouted, hooted and hollered louder than I ever have been cheered for…so much that it took me off guard and laughing I realized I never had that much love and support at my side.  I’m still getting used to allowing myself to feel proud in my accomplishments and enjoy what I’ve worked at. Don’t worry though, Steve’s been helping me get there.22049829_10214558753982173_2669651835952610550_n

We met up with our neighbors! From left to right: Ed, me, Steve, Clint, Amy, Laura & Ted. Laura is the one I mentioned on Instagram that brews her own beer and we’re now best good running/beer friends. 22046886_10214558755542212_3801450687031533605_n.jpg

And a fun one…

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How close have you run a race to your home?

What’s the weirdest race distance you’ve ran? 


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Marine Corps Marathon Recap!

The evening of the MCM I rode the metro down to Arlington to meet a few familiar faces: Jenni and Josh ran Ragnar DC 17′. Josh couldn’t believe I was still down with peanut butter and bananas (I think a lot of the vanmates were burnt out of pb&b after Ragnar weekend) but explained how my love of PB is as deep and wide as a river.

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I got to the hotel kinda late, so it was a quick lay out of a flat runner and nutrition for the AM and it was bedtime for all of us.

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Ragnar Van 2 Representing!

Just an FYI for future MCM runners- the Arlington cemetary Metro stop is a HIKE from the start line. We left with more than plenty of time, but with the poor funneling at the Metro’s exit and the long walk to the start & port-o-potty stop, I found myself running (yes, actually running) to try and get into my corral by the start. I made it just in time for the national anthem, to catch my breath, start my Garmin, and take off for the long run.

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Josh & Jen 

My goals for this race were kinda all over the place. I thought, if I had a decent day I could pull a 3:30 finishing time. So 3:30 or under was my A goal. To qualify for Boston again, would be an amazing feat! My B goal was 3:35. I didn’t have a C or worse goal. I felt like 3:35 was the B-C goal. Anything less than that would be something entirely out of my control.

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You will notice a lot/all of my race photos i have a worried look. I steered clear of the MCM marathon for a long time because a handful of people told me the course was super hilly at end and sometimes the weather didn’t cooperate and you could get a hot day. I was so stressed and anxious the first 10 miles of this race. I didn’t know if I was prepared, didn’t know if I would hit that dreaded “wall” didn’t know if it was too hot to run as fast as I was planning…

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The truth is, it was warmer than ideal. We started at 55 degrees and 88% humidity and I know most people finished the race in the mid-high 70s. But I kept reminding myself that I trained all summer in super humid conditions and the temps were lower than I was used to, so yay! a positive thought amongst all the stress! Haha. This marathon was much more of a mental feat than fast feet. <—see what I did there?

Okay so temps weren’t ideal, my ipod somehow turned itself onto “Shuffle” so my songs were doing their own thing. I tried to enjoy the “let’s see what plays next” mentality even though I stratigically place songs in a specific TYPE A order. AHH!HH!H!H!HH!HH!

Once the crowds thinned, I actually started enjoying running around DC. I kept my spirits up with the crowd support, it was incredible! Spectators must have been out because of the beautiful day, and for that, I was okay with the warmer temps. I also knew that somewhere in the crowd was my very best of all time support crew. Stephen and his daughter (we will call her Curly for now) were meeting to see me at mile 9 or 11, then again at 22. Knowing they were on the course for me was enough. I wanted to run well for them and I wanted to get to them as fast as possible because I knew Steve had a bottle of Tailwind ready for me. It would be my first time running with Tailwind which claims you don’t need gels or chews, just this drink. (I ate gels during my race until I got the Tailwind, just an FYI).

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When mile 11 came around I spotted the labeless bottle of Gatorade filled with Tailwind up in the sky. Steve was holding up the bottle above the crowd like the hammer of Thor! I spotted it easily and was SO EXCITED to stop and give a few sweaty hugs and kisses from my two favorite people and after he gave a few encouraging words, I was off again.

The fuel came in handy, Tailwind was a dream. I took small sips and held onto that bottle for about 10 miles until I finished it all. I was happy I didn’t have to stop at water stations and I felt incredible as I picked up the pace slowly through the 2nd half of the race.

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Once I was past mile 20, i knew there was no wall to crash into. A 10K is nothing after 20 miles. It was time to work and start pushing. Focus on the finish line, a cold beer and checking another race off your list. I spotted Steve and Curly one more time past mile 22, and then grabbed a small cup of beer from college kids shortly after. I’m telling you, grab beer in the end of a marathon. It’s liquid pain killer and carbs. I soooo needed that.

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The end of the race came quickly and I realized I was running where the port-o-pottys and corrals were earlier that morning, checked my watch and Dear God, I literally ran .7 tenths of a mile before the start! OH and the finish is on a bit of an uphill… but the elevation for the course is a joke. If you think Marine Corps is hilly please start running hills more often.

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574 total ft of elevation. 

By the time I hit that hill and crossed the finish line, I was ECSTATIC! My 2nd time qualifing for Boston, 2nd fastest marathon time and a negative split! 3:25:19

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the finish!

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With all that said, this is probably my favorite marathon to date. Reasons being:

  • Spectator support: There was hardly a single moment without people lining the course. Feeding off the crowd was key to my success that day.
  • Stephen and Curly. He has supported my fitness and running goals since the day I met him. Having an active crew on race day was so special. They both lit a fire in my heart that day.
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Curly liked the medal bc it opened and closed

  • The Blue Mile. I’ll never forget running a full mile where pictures of fallen service men and women lined both sides of the course. It’s amazing how long a mile feels when you see that many pictures of men, women and families. The volunteers held American flags at the end, creating a red, white and blue tunnel for the runners and thanked us as we ran by. All I could do was hold a hand over my heart and thank them. It was an emotional mile and hard not to get choked up.
  • I broke into the top 100 female finishers. Another thing I didn’t expect, but secretly wanted to happen one day.
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  • I was craving fried pickles after the race and Steve was down for Buffalo Wild Wings. Yep, one of my favorite post-race meals. Fried pickles and wings.

What’s your favorite marathon to date?

Do you prefer hilly or flat courses?


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Rock N’ Roll DC 2017 Recap!

Monday: 40 min legs (back squats/deadlifts for volume), 5m easy 9:31/pace

This was a big one. Bigger than I expected or hoped, way beyond a time PR.

The week of the race was typical. I was antsy, nervous and my training log concerned me. Pacing was all over the place and some workouts were scaled down and adjusted. Extremely different from how marathon training went last fall, where I hit almost every running workout and every pace to the T.

So I started examining the log as a whole: I put in all the miles, 45-51 miles per week, and did each workout to the best of my ability, all while increasing strength training days from 2x to 3-4x weekly, which meant getting used to training 2x a day (or two-a-days as it’s called). The work was there. The power from lifting heavy should translate to the run as long as I tapered well.  And with that, I put the log away and told only two very close people what my goal was. 1:33.

The forecast was rough in the DC area that Saturday. Cold and 25 degrees at the start, and lots of NW winds 10-15+ mph. Fortunately nothing new to me. If you’ve been following my blog the past year, i can’t seem to get away from the wind.

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info from my Garmin that day

But the freezing cold on top of it lead to wearing a lot of layers and we were all so happy the sun was out. It was the only thing keeping the weather bearable. I hopped on the Metro with Brian & Betty, a few runner friends I met at my Gold’s Gym.

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Brian & Betty 

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We had plenty of time to use the bathrooms, get hydrated and get into our corrals. The first miles were flat, so the plan was to hold back until after the big hill between miles 6-7 and then start speeding up.

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The flat miles weren’t incredibly easy for me. My left shin was tight and i was hoping it would shake out in the first couple miles but it didn’t. I felt it tighten every step of the way. I felt good otherwise, almost bouncy in a way and had a ton of energy.  I was afraid of pushing too hard in the beginning in case the shin/calf muscle became more of an issue later in the race, so i was running on feel for the first half.

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The big hill came and went. Once I felt recovered enough to push a little I did just that. The grade change helped stretch my calf and loosen up my shin. The uphills actually felt better than the flats and I could almost relax a bit on the downhill portions. Almost. There was no time to relax, i had work to do.

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This half was not easy. Mentally I was having a great race, I was doing well going on effort while still keeping my goal time in mind. When it got tough and i felt like slowing down, and that happened several times, i just repeated a short piece of a pep talk I got that morning.

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You’re going to fly. Over and over I said that to myself. And you know what, it made me feel fast and weightless. And focusing on the finish kept me sharp.

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The last couple miles were hard. I don’t remember much because I was focused on a quick leg turnover, and pushing through muscle fatigue, especially while on a few short & steep hills that had my legs screaming. But when you only have a mile to go, you go. Proud of that last mile.

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official 1:33:47

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3 Big things happened for me in this race, which is why I said it was major and so much more than a time PR.

  1. I started in Corral #1. When i first ran the Rock n Roll DC 1/2 back in 2013, I believe i was in Corral 5 or 6. I made it a goal of mine 4 years ago to make it into #1. It was a special feeling having my bib read #1.
  2. I PR’d at my heaviest racing weight to date, in the coldest temps i’ve ever run in and the most clothes i’ve ever worn. I’m about 7lbs heavier than the marathon last November and 16lbs heavier than my first marathon. I’ve been consistently gaining muscle mass and running faster year after year. To PR with all that additional weight, on a windy, cold, hilly course reinforces that my training is on point and I’ve got faster times ahead.
  3. I broke into the top 100 females at a major half marathon. This was the big one. Bigger than the actual time I finished in. It has been a goal of mine to break into the top 100 of a major race for years. When i found out I was 67th, I got teary and overwhelmed with happiness. It’s been a long time since i’ve been able to let myself enjoy these victories and allow myself to be proud.

Til’ next time kids.

Last Week

Monday: 5m easy 9:05/pace

Tuesday: Crossfit, 6m easy 8:46/pace

Wednesday: 6m easy 8:41/pace

Thursday: 3m easy 9:22/pace

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 13.1m Race 7:10/pace 

Sunday: Rest

Total Miles: 33.1

What goals besides time goals have you set for yourself?

What are your current goals?

 

 

 


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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?

 


19 Comments

Spartan Beast, The Wilds – My First OCR

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 5m easy 9:10/pace

Wednesday: 3m easy 9:15/pace, 25min shoulders/legs

Thursday: 7m tempo (2m warm up, 4 @ 7:15/pace, 1m cool down)

Five hours, twenty minutes. 14.7 miles of technical trails, carrying rocks, sandbags, logs and flipping tires. Trudging through mud, wading in water, climbing cargo nets, gathering rocks, hanging onto trees, hoisting up and over walls. (And one huge run-on sentence later) I did it. I finished. I’m alive, unharmed and feeling stronger than ever.  Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 8.05.14 PM

At first, I had no idea what to expect when I signed up for the hardest Spartan obstacle course race. Being an endurance runner, a pseudo masochist, secret-wannabe-trail-runner, adventure seeker, a how far can my body possibly be pushed-er… I had to try this. I had to know I was a well-rounded athlete.

I drove up to Columbus Friday afternoon to stay with my cousin Becky and her family. Her husband Josh was doing the race with me. We caught up, had dinner and quickly laid out clothes and packed up bags for the next day.

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Our biggest gripe of the day was the parking situation. We sat in bumper to bumper traffic for 30 minutes, just to park. We were stopped for so long I peed in between our car and the car in front of us. I know it seems like i’m peeing in public a lot, but it’s not my fault! I think i’m cursed with bad pre-race timing. I just couldn’t hold it. And we couldn’t wait any longer. We were 20 minutes from our wave start time and still weren’t moving. Becky took the wheel to park, and Josh and I walked toward the bibs, gear check and bathrooms.

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We finally started the race at 9:00am and hit trails and 5 obstacles. Wall climbs, under a wall & under muddy water, monkey bars, ring/rope cross, Z-wall, cargo net climbs, barbed wire crawls… Some really tough upper body stuff right out of the gates, then we were on the trails. We ran when we could. These trails were TECHNICAL. I know i’m not much of a trail runner, but hopping over roots, rocks, mud, steep inclines & dead stop so you don’t fall over the edge declines are the example of technical trails.

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synchronized jumping

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Josh on the Z-Wall

Our mile time was about 23 minutes–if you count the slowing down for the obstacles & burpees, i’d estimate we were doing about a 14 minute mile. That’s a lot of slowing down, hiking, all while gaining 2,300 feet of elevation. I’m not gonna lie, the trails were my favorite part of the race. I loved not wearing a watch, feeling free out in nature, and knowing endurance was my strength. Getting through the obstacles as a strong girl was a huge boost as we headed back to the tough trails.

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After mile 6, the mile markers stopped. It was a little frustrating not knowing how far we were, but I figured it was part of the mental mind game Spartan wanted to play with the athletes. Putting one foot in front of the other when you don’t know how far your feet have left to travel is a tough task.

We were full of energy early on. Talkative, smiling and having a blast. Honey Stinger gel packs saved our butts on more than one occasion. I brought 4 or 5 packs, i can’t remember, but we went through all of them within 4 hours and both of us wished I had brought more.

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There were moments where I wasn’t sure if i could do anymore with my arms. And Josh was there to help. There were moments Josh’s energy dropped and he slowed on the trails, and I was there to help. We complemented each other perfectly for this race. We constantly checked in with each other and sped up and slowed down when we needed breaks. Our goal was to finish. Racers on the trail couldn’t believe we chose The Beast as our first Spartan. Go big or go home bro. Especially you, bro that skips leg day and gets cramps on the trails. Especially you.

Josh and I both thought the race would be even spread out with running and obstacles. Like running half a mile then doing an obstacle, repeat, etc. It wasn’t. The running/hiking seemed to go on for miles before we hit a group of obstacles. Again, tough mentally, but I enjoyed it. The Wilds was beautiful. Breathtaking actually. The pine trees, the ponds, the seclusion, it was glorious.

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Josh climbing like a pro!

The last miles waned on for an eternity, only to be interrupted with the dreaded bucket of rocks task. It’s as awful as it sounds. You fill your bucket to the marked holes, and you walk with said bucket up and down a path. One heavy foot in front of the other. The sandbag on the shoulder was next and similar in effort. Toss the sandbag over your shoulder and walk up a path and through mud until you hit the drop off point.

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Pierce (becky & josh’s son) demonstrating the rock/bucket obstacle. 

I’m guessing all of this so far sounds awful. But believe me, when you finish a difficult task, like flipping a huge tire over, you feel so strong and invincible! Every obstacle proved I was capable of difficult things. I didn’t complete three obstacles which lead to the dreaded burpees. 3 x 30 = 90 burpees for me. Josh did all the obstacles like a champ! Not too shabby for 30+ obstacles.DSC_0343

When we started to lose steam and were out of Honey Stinger packs we were toward the end. The lovely volunteers told us we had a few obstacles left and we were home. Seeing the fire jump in the distance was the motivator we needed to finish strong!

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me off to the left! Still had a little spring in my step

They said at the start, “You’ll know at the finish line.” And it was accurate. I felt so strong, relieved, happy and proud of that accomplishment. Crossing a finish line for the first time is always epic. Crossing a finish line that proves I’m not just a runner was pure elation.

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And a few more of us happy to be finished and on our way to eat…

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Josh and I had a brilliant idea to do a Spartan last year while drinking beer at Thanksgiving, this makes me nervous about what we might come up with next November…  🙂

Last Week

Monday: 2500m row, rope pull ups, deadlifts

Tuesday: 4m easy 9:40/pace

Wednesday: 4m easy 9:30/pace 2m walk/run w/LE.

Thursday: 6m interval (2m warm up 10:00/p, 3 x 1m @ 6:53/p, 1m cool down)

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 14.7 Spartan Beast OCR

Sunday: Rest

Total Miles: 28.7

What do you feel when you cross a finish line?

Hardest race you’ve ever done?


24 Comments

Gone With the Wind – The OC Island to Island 1/2 Marathon Recap!

Monday: 2500m row, rope pull ups, deadlifts

Tuesday: 4m easy 9:40/pace

It’s been four days and i’m still unsure how I feel about the Island to Island half marathon. Sometimes i’m super happy with the outcome, other moments i’m incredibly confused and disappointed. Part of me hated this race but at the same time i PR’d a super difficult situation and would probably have loved the course on a different day. I’m sure by the end of the post i’ll have figured it out. Bear with me, I’m about to talk too much.

Friday afternoon Cameron, LE and I headed to Ocean City, settled in, grabbed my bib at the Expo and headed to the ocean for LE’s first visit. She was super adorable and treated the sand like snow. She tasted it, pushed her face in it, scrambled around the ground and dug her paws in.

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For dinner we ate at BJ’s On The Water. I ordered the blackened Salmon & a baked potato. It was simple and tasty!

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Leading up to race day i was worried about a couple things. #1- the weather was forecasted on and off for rain & 10+ mph wind. I could deal with rain, but running fast with a headwind is tough. #2 I didn’t want to say this, but i think it’s important–I started my period and was dealing with some extreme fatigue, lower back and leg pain. Ladies, i know you get me. Gentlemen i’m glad you don’t ever have to deal with it.

4:30am, race day morning came quickly. I sunscreened and body glided up. Ate my usual breakfast: a Honey Stinger Waffle, banana and pb, water with Nuun and a coffee to go. When I stepped outside i immediately heard the HOWLING wind and ocean. Let’s just say it was the loudest 5AM has ever sounded. Cameron drove me up to the shuttles for our point to point race (yes he is the best husband). There were sets of busses departing to the start line at 5:15, 5:45 & 6:15am. I was on the 5:45 bus which should have allowed an hour before the start of the race for any pre-race things to do.

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I sat on the bus with a a girl named Caitlyn. We talked about running, traveling and our pups while passing the excruciatingly long time we sat on the bus. 40 minutes, not moving. All the extra time I had set aside for a warm up mile, stretches, bathroom, was gone. The bus didn’t leave until 6:28 and when we arrived at the starting area I checked my bag and had to pee in the open behind a sand dune because the port-a-potty lines were out of control. And again, I had no warm up or time to do anything but get to the front of the start line. I don’t know if it’s just my luck, but i can’t get a warm up in to save my life!

I shook off all the negative thoughts, Taylor Swift style and laughed about peeing in public, started my watch and before I had time to think, the race started!

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The girl in the pink arm sleeves above is the one I choose to follow. Her pace was right on target and she looked strong and relaxed. The other two women in the picture were always nearby as well. We were all fighting for the 3rd position almost the entire race.

I’m very thankful I spent time developing the mental rigor to fight and keep pushing when all the body wants is to stop. This by far, was the most difficult race i have done. I remember distinctly looking down at my watch 3.5 miles in and realizing the wind was NOT going to let up.

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We experienced mostly gusts. We ran NE into the headwind, in a straight line, on an open road for 13 miles. I had to work my ass off to maintain a 7:15-ish pace. I accepted that running in wind like this was going to slow pace a bit and all I could do is run based on effort. I tried to mimic a 6:50 effort as best as I could.

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mile 1

All the mantras I had practiced with got thrown out the window. I didn’t feel like a brave dog, I didn’t feel like a machine. I didn’t feel fast, but i felt tough. I changed the mantra mid-race to “work for it, earn it, fight!” Also we listened to a podcast earlier in the day about taking risks and the dude said, “Mother nature ain’t shit! Come at me!” Again, a funny mantra that fit the situation and calmed me down.

There was a quick mile around 6 that turned into a neighborhood for a loop where the wind was almost non existent. I checked my watch, i was hitting that 6:50/pace I so desperately had trained for, but the moment I turned back on the highway and into Hell’s Wind Tunnel, my pace slowed right back down to the 7:15s. One thing helping me not throw in the towel, was realizing my effort was reflecting the training, not the numbers on my watch. I reminded myself periodically that my effort was a sub 1:30 and I could still PR if i didn’t give up.

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I swear to you the wind progressively got worse the further north we ran. My ipod was useless. I couldn’t hear the music well because the wind was so loud. I wasn’t paying attention to music anyway with all the internal pep talking. This half felt like the last 6 miles of a marathon. My body wanted to stop, i hurt, my legs felt like lead. I had never wanted a race to end this badly. I hate thinking like that, but I just wasn’t having as much fun as I wanted.

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Just when I thought I couldn’t keep going, we were at mile 12, back on the boardwalk of Ocean City where the shuttles picked us up earlier that morning. Before I even tried looking, I spotted Cameron and LE! I needed that so bad! I slowed down a second to say hi and took off to finish the race with a small boost. Half mile later was the turn around, and for the first time the ENTIRE RACE the wind was at my back.

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don’t mind my lovely form, i would have hurled myself over the finish if it meant i could stop running.

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The picture above really says it all. I was so relieved it was over, so happy I PR’d and so ready to see my family.

I know a lot of this post seems to be a complaint. I hate that about running sometimes. I ran a great race for the conditions. I talked myself into NOT quitting for 10 miles. I’m proud this didn’t come easy. There will never be perfect weather or race conditions or warm ups (Cameron so lovingly reminded me). But what can be perfected is the ability and drive to try and do my best on the given day. Gratitude, played a big part in this race.

I finished in 1:35:36 official. Here are the splits!

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We hung out in the finishers tent and waited for the awards ceremony. Cameron thought i would have at least got an age group award and he was right!

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yes my lips are purple. i was freezing!

And finally the rewarding meal after the race! I had crepes (sausage and pancake crepe) and potatoes with tons of coffee at the Bayside Skillet.

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Here’s the Good, the Bad and the Otherwise!

The Bad

-Weather. Wind is my LEAST favorite element to run in. I conquered it. Mother Nature ain’t shit! (wait, should this go in “The Good” column?)

-Warm Ups. This was actually out of my control.

-Period that lead to fatigue & lower back pain. Again, not in my control.

-Accidentally drank Gatorade. Grabbed the wrong cup and almost puked it up. Seriously don’t do anything new on race day.

The Good

-I didn’t stop other than water stations. I wanted to stop…Oh i wanted to stop, but i knew if i started walking it was going to be harder to continue.

-I placed 4th overall female and 1st in my age group!

-I PR’d by 31 seconds!

-This was my first complete sub 8 half marathon (all my miles were under 7:30/pace!)

-When I crossed the finish line, Maria (girl in the pink arm sleeves) gave me a huge hug and congratulated me. She finished 3rd! Super nice girl. Then I talked to the dude in the orange shirt and long hair–he said i cruised past him on the bridge and looked really strong. I told him I thought he looked great, which was why i was running behind him. Basically runners are awesome and I love the support! There were tons of high fives and congrats at the end of this race!

-My friend, Emmeline sent me a text the night before the race. She knew all the stuff I was dealing with and she told me there’s nothing I can do physically, but not to let it drag me down mentally too. Thank you Emmeline. You were my secret coach during the race.

-Having Cameron and LE there was my favorite. Cameron held her up at one point and just yelled “I didn’t make a sign!”

All the good stuff definitely outweighs the bad. As usual getting it all out on paper computer sorts all my thoughts out. Thanks for hanging if you made it this far!

Last Week

Monday: 7m combo tempo (2m warm up, 2 x 1m @ 6:11/pace, 2 x 400s @ 5:56/pace, 2m cool down)

Tuesday: 20min shoulders/core

Wednesday: 5m easy 9:41/pace

Thursday: 4m easy

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 13.1m Ocean City Island to Island 1/2 marathon 1:35:36 7:15/pace

Sunday: Rest

Total Miles: 29 

Anyone else race this weekend? How did it go?