Category Archives: Races

2012 Vermont City Marathon Recap

So here it goes – my fifth marathon race recap. When I ran my first marathon in 2009, I never thought I’d have five marathons under my belt by 2012. I guess you could say I kind of got addicted. I suppose there are worse things you can be addicted to though.

So here it goes. The 2012 Vermont City Marathon Recap. Hubby and I drove up to Albany on Friday night and stayed with my parents. We woke up early on Saturday and ran our very last training run – an easy two miles at a very slow pace. Hubby (Bill) had been dealing with an injured Achilles for the past few weeks and still felt a slight twinge after our run. But we headed out to Burlington around noon.

We arrived around 3 p.m., hit up the expo for about an hour and then headed to our hotel. We decided to stay at the Hilton, which is literally 1/10 of mile from the start and finish of the race–making it super convenient. We checked in and lounged for about an hour and then headed to the pasta dinner.

We walked from our hotel to the pasta dinner at Champlain College – it was about a mile away. On the walk there (all uphill), Bill was dealing with some major leg pain. It was making us both nervous for the race the next day.

We carb loaded at the pasta dinner. It was pretty standard at pasta dinners go. I was surprised they only had one pasta option – spaghetti with either marinara sauce or meat sauce. We ate our pasta, salad, and bread and then finished up dinner with some desert. All in all, it was a decent event. After we finished, we started the walk back to the hotel and Bill flinched with pain in his leg most of the way. Not good.

When we got home, we started to prep our gear for the next day and Bill was doing everything he could think of to make his leg feel better. I lay down for a few minutes around 9:30 and fell asleep. I woke up at 10:00 p.m. and finished getting my stuff ready and then really went to bed. Surprisingly, I slept like a rock.

Race Day
My alarm went off at 5:45 a.m. and the prepping began. I fashioned some sort of oatmeal concoction for us using the hot water from the coffee machine. Then I also made some coffee and hydrated with NUUN. I looked outside our window and saw a gorgeous view, as well as part of the course right down below.

People were heading to the start area pretty early. Bill and I began finishing up our prep and Bill snapped this pre-race photo of me.

Ready to go! And we were off. We walked to the start, which was literally right around the corner and made our way into the corral. We decided to start near the 3:45 pace group. It was super crowded. We found some space and waited for the start. The wheel chair racers went off at 8:00 a.m. and we began at 8:03 a.m.

With such a crowded start, it took us a while to really find our pace. Bill and I stayed together in the beginning as we ran through the town and then up into some neighborhoods.

Mile 1 – 8:42
Mile 2 – 8:22
Mile 3 – 8:32
Mile 4 – 8:24

About mile four, we headed into an out and back stretch down a long road. There weren’t too many spectators along this section. It was nice to get to see some of the leaders and elite runners pass by as they made their way back to town after completing the out and back.

Around mile 6-7, we both took water at a station and Bill seemed to pick up his pace a bit. I tried to stay with him, but he was just moving a little bit too fast for me. I kept him in my sights, but I knew that our joint running time together was pretty much over. I maintained a decent pace just a little bit behind him.

Mile 5 – 8:30
Mile 6 – 8:20
Mile 7 – 8:14
Mile 8 – 8:21

As we came back into town around mile 8-9, we had some spectators again and it got me pumped up. The people cheering really did help give me motivation. As we headed down one of the main streets of Burlington, a local photographer snapped this shot of me.

(source)

I’m actually looking pretty happy right?! Well, mind you, it was only like mile 9 or 10 at this point. I continued along, maintaining a decent pace as we moved out of town and into a neighborhood. I took my first Gu around mile 11 and actually really needed it.

Mile 9 – 8:29
Mile 10 – 7:59
Mile 11 – 8:19
Mile 12 – 8:41

At about mile 13, we made a sharp turn onto a bike path. Around this time, there was also a lot of switching going on with the relay teams. I had been aware of the teams switching in the race before, but this was the biggest switch. The race had two kinds of relays 1) a two person relay where they each ran half, and 2) a 3-5 person relay with all different lengths for various legs.

So as we hit halfway, there were a lot of relays changing and it was actually kind of frustrating. Here we are (the marathon runners), getting into a groove of sorts with our pace, surrounded by people going our approximate speed, and then all of sudden a whole new group of people fly into the mix all nice and fresh and some of them absolutely take off. It kind of messes with your pace. Or, on the reverse, some of the new runners are going much slower and then you find yourself matching their pace. It was a confusing time. I tried to maintain some kind of consistent pace, but it was tough.

Mile 13 – 8:12
Mile 14 -8:12

I think we came out of the bike path around mile 14.5 and then I knew what we ahead of me. The dreaded hill. This is the Battery Hill that our hotel is on. I was going to run right by the hotel – how tempting. It’s one long hill for almost half a mile (or at least that’s how long it felt). I dug in and got started.

Thankfully, the city also has these awesome drummers playing at this section and their beat totally carries you up the hill. I waved to them to thank them and kept on trudging up. It was tough.

Mile 15 – 8:28

Then, when you reach the top, you get to move on to run on a main road, with no shade that seems to go on forever. This might have been my least favorite part of this race. I kind of hated this road. As we neared mile 18, my pace slowed considerably.

Mile 16 – 8:53
Mile 17 – 8:43
Mile 18 – 8:37

Between mile 17-18, we went into a neighborhood, but then we came right back out to the road. Then we went into another neighborhood between 18-19. It was a lot of turning in and then back out.

In this second neighborhood, there were more spectators and random water stops. There was also a random lady mowing her lawn and spitting grass into the road. Why she chose that day/time to mow her lawn, I will never know. After her, we encountered a guy beating a homemade drum with hard rock music playing in the background, and then a few more houses down was a lady playing classical music – not the best “pump up” music. I was kind of happy to exit the weird neighborhood, but then found myself back on the main road that I hated so much. ARGH!

Mile 19 – 8:53
Mile 20 – 9:06
Mile 21 – 9:00

Luckily, we turned off the main road around mile 21-22 and back onto the bike path. The bike path meant fewer spectators, which was a negative, but no more main road and blaring sun, which was a positive. I took my second Gu around mile 21 -22. I had been feeling the fatigue since about mile 18, but it really started to hit.

Plus, then I started worrying about Bill and how his leg was doing. I hadn’t caught up to him, so I wanted to think of that as a good thing, but I also kept scanning the people walking or being helped on the sidelines, thinking that his injured leg could have taken him out.

From mile 22-24, it was just playing the willpower game with myself to put one foot in front of the other. I had passed the 3:45 pacer a while back and when I saw him pass me around this time I got a little sad. I didn’t really have a goal time, but 3:45 sounded nice.

The pacer passed me and then I had that chat with myself about less pressure to finish in a certain time. I reviewed the whole “if I can only run 10 minute miles for the next few miles, that’s okay, because I will still finish in under 4 hours.” You know those chats if you’ve run a marath0n – you make deals with yourself to get to the finish.

Mile 22- 8:57
Mile 23 – 9:16
Mile 24 – 9:14

And then miraculously, at mile 25, it was like something clicked. I knew I was going to make it to the end and finish in under 4 hours. So my speed began to pick up again. And then I heard someone yell, “way to go 2049 – way to finish strong.” And I knew that I WANTED to finish strong, so I pressed on.

Mile 25 – 9:04

And then finally we hit mile 26 and there were crowds of people everywhere. I started to pick up my pace even more and hurdle myself to the finish.

Mile 26 – 8:55
.33 – 2:31

Final time: 3:47:10

I finished and immediately chugged a chocolate milk they handed me. It was amazing. And then I got nervous about Bill and went to find him. I instinctively looked for the medical tent, but then I spotted a Team Chief shirt a few feet away. And there he was, just hanging out chatting with some guy from his hometown. He finished his very first marathon in 3 hours and 41 minutes! He was feeling sore, but his leg was fine! I was so relieved and happy for him.

We headed to the runner’s food area and grabbed some pizza, ice cream, yogurt, etc. and parked our aching bodies under a tree. After downing some much-needed food, we headed back to our hotel. We climbed a huge hill to get there and a hotel never looked so amazing to me.

Here we are post-race!

We did it!! It was a very fun race in gorgeous Vermont. Now on to the NYC Marathon in November!

Run As One Race Recap: Awesome PR!

Week 14 of training went okay. I was supposed to run 34 miles this week and I managed 32.66. I ended up running more of my runs later in the week (Friday and Saturday) than I originally wanted. I like to give me legs a little bit of rest before I actually “race” a race on the weekend.

And that was my plan for today. I was going to push really hard in this race and see what happened. I always get a little more nervous when I know I’m actually racing a race and not just working it into my long run as a training run.

I left the house around 7:45 this morning and logged a few miles before the race. I was aiming for four miles before the race, but ended up only getting in 3.25. Then I headed into my corral because things were getting pretty busy.

Run As One – 4 Miles
It was a brisk morning – 48 degrees for the start of the race. I wasn’t sure what to wear, so I went with capris and a short sleeve shirt. It was the perfect combination. It seemed like a lot of people were in the race, although NYRR doesn’t have the number of finishing runners posted yet.

I listened to the starting announcements and was again surprised by what I already knew – lung cancer (which this race was run to raise money and awareness for) kills more people in the United States than any other type of cancer. And approximately 50% of the people who get lung cancer do NOT smoke. I actually know someone from college who was diagnosed with lung cancer and she is one of the healthiest people I know. She beat it, but catching it early is SO important. So I was very happy to support and run this race.

Source

So back to the race. I was in the green corral, so a little far back, and that worried me about trying to race this race hard. The start is always so crowded if you’re not right up front. But so be it. And the race began.

I managed to get moving pretty quickly right from the start and tried to stay toward the inside as much as possible. In my head, I was really hoping for a sub 7:30 overall pace. The first mile went by quickly even though we were going up Cat Hill. I ran it in 7:29. A little too close for comfort…

So then I really started to pick it up during mile 2. Things started to clear out a bit and I pushed my speed pretty much to the max. As I reached the second mile marker, I was shocked to see my time was 7:01!! Holy fast.

So that was kind of amazing, but then I got really scared that I pushed too far and was going to lose steam. For mile 3, I knew that the rolling hills were coming and my goal was just to try to maintain a pace under 7:30. I tried to tackle the hills hard, but as always, they were rough. As I passed mile 3, my split was 7:18.

The final mile is here – time to push. I pushed hard. I love this last mile of the course. It is almost entirely downhill and you can really watch your speed increase. My mile 4 beeped before I hit the finish and it showed my pace was 6:59. So the last few seconds, I just pushed super hard. Here are my splits:

My official NYRR time on the site is: 29:07!! Average pace was 7:17!!! Woohooo – that is SUCH a major personal record. My previous best was 30:35 with a 7:38 best average pace. I am pumped!!

And as I was walking through the finish area, an older gentleman next to me wearing a team singlet congratulated me on my hard finish. He said I “flew right by him” at the end. Who knows, maybe I even had more to give?! Although, all day today after that race, I’ve felt pretty pooped, so I’m not so sure.

It was a great race and I’m happy to finally crush that PR that has been lingering around for sooo long. Also, this is my last race before our marathon on May 27. I am feeling pretty ready!

Happy Sunday!

 

My 2011 Boston Marathon Memories

As  my Twitter feed was blowing up today with Boston Marathon updates, I got to thinking about my 0ne and only Boston Marathon experience last year. Humor me for a moment as I share my top 2011 Boston Marathon memories and tips…

2011 Boston Marathon Memories & Tips  

  • The excitement in the air was tangible – I cannot recall another race I’ve run where the whole city was buzzing like this (note: I haven’t run NYC yet, but I expect it will be the same way).
  • I wish I had spent more time in Boston. It was a quick in and out trip for  my best friend and me. We took the train up on Sunday, checked in, went to the expo, ate dinner, ran the race, and checked out and took the train back right afterwards. It felt rushed. If you make it to Boston – don’t rush it. Enjoy it!
  • Make reservations for 2013 like NOW!! No seriously. I tried to make reservations like a month or two in advance and was laughed at. Apparently people start like 6-8 months in advance. We did ok – we tagged along with a smart friend who had made reservations and was able to add two more people. Thankfully!
  • Don’t overeat at the Expo: I did. All the tasty goodies to try and free stuff being given out. Another bite of a yummy bar – sure don’t mind if I do. But then oh – 30 minutes later after all those random snacks are mixing in my tummy and it did not feel good. Enjoy the expo, but don’t enjoy it too much with your tummy.
  • Getting a ride to the start is AWESOME! Our friend’s father was running Boston last year and his wife was driving him to the start. He offered us a ride and at first I declined. Being the paranoid planner that I am, I figured the standard race-issued ride to the start was the safest way to go. My friend convinced me to be a little daring for once and take the ride and it was the best decision ever. We got to sleep in a little  late, didn’t have to wait for hours in the runner’s village and got dropped off super close to the start. Do it if you can!
  • I’ve never been so cramped running – I mean as in having people around me at ALL times. All my other marathons have been pretty small – 2,000 runners or less – so the amount of runners kind of overwhelmed and terrified me.
  • I don’t really remember heartbreak hill. I know that sounds crazy, but I think after all my training on the Central Park hills and the fact that I had NO clue where I was in the race made that hill seem less than intimidating. I saw the sign that said I was over the hill before I even knew I hit it. I wish I was always so lucky when it comes to hills – I’m  not. But heartbreak really isn’t as bad as a lot of people make it out to be – so don’t worry yourself sick about it.
  • I DO remember the Wellesley girls and the deafening roar they made as I was coming around the corner to their section of the race. I was dumbfounded. It was the loudest thing EVER.
  • I wish I had written my name on my shirt. With all those spectators, you really can’t go wrong writing your name on your shirt. My friend had a shirt on with the name of her charity and literally EVERYONE kept cheering for her. I, however, did not hear a single “go girl with the pink shirt.” Names matter. I made sure I had my name on my shirt for my next marathon and it was pretty fun. You feel like you have so many friends. Or you’re a celebrity.
  • I ran with my phone. And it was weird. I wore a spibelt and I’m not quite sure how I was okay with that. I’m a less is more kind of person when it comes to running accoutrements. Most days I want to fling my water belt out the window. So how I managed to run 26.2 miles with a spibelt on that held not only my phone, but two Gus, I will never quite understand. I guess it’s a testament to how comfortable the spibelt is. Kudos spibelt – well done.
  • I ate two huge candy bars after the race. I guess this goes back to my last post and my sugar issues. Obviously this sugar thing has been going on for a while. I remember first housing a snickers bar and then I think it was a Twix. I didn’t even buy the candy bars. My friend had four candy bars for some reason and was kind enough to share them with my hungry eyes. Good planning Lauren – well done. She even convinced me that a snickers bar is like an energy bar because it has so much protein. She didn’t need to sell me – I was gonna eat it no matter what. 🙂

So those are just a few of my Boston memories. What about the course, you ask? Was it hard? Did I hurt? How did I do? I supposed the course was hard, the race was hard, I was in some pain, and I did okay. But for me, the Boston Marathon was so much more than that stuff. It’s an experience I cherished and so maybe I tend to remember random things from that day more than the actual course and race details. So what.

But of course, you can get all of the nitty gritty race details in my recap from last year if you’re really interested.  Happy Marathon Monday!!

Week 11, 20 Mile Run, Scotland Run and Veggie Casserole

Wow – that might be my longest, most boring title ever. But it’s a pretty accurate depiction of my past few weeks.  There’s been a lot going on over the past two weeks and I’m going to try to cram it all in this post. Hubby and I just finished up week 11 of marathon training and it was a tough one.  Here is a snapshot of the planned week vs. the actual week for running (err slightly different):

 

So I ended up hitting 40 miles, but it was NOT exactly the way I had planned it. The top white row is what I actually ran: 4 miles on Monday, 8 on Tuesday, 5 on Thursday, 3 on Friday and 20 on Saturday. But that was not at all how I planned the week out. Oh well – in my mind all that matters is the total weekly mileage and the long run. 

Speaking of Saturday’s 20 mile run…

Scotland Run & 20 Miler

I headed over to Central Park for the Scotland Run (10k) a little bit earlier than normal so I could squeeze in about 4 miles before the start of the race. Then I found my corral and a few seconds later Bill found me and we started the race together. There were more than 11,000 people signed up for the race, but I think only about 7,500 finished the race. Either way – it was a lot of people which equaled a lot of weaving around. Awesome.

My first mile was understandably tough because of the amount of people around me. I ran it in about 7:53. I tried to pick it up on mile two and managed to push it a little bit despite the rolling hills, running mile 1-2 around 7:25.  I ran mile 2-3 in 7:19. Mile 3-4 was especially tough because of Harlem Hill. It was a rough climb up that hill and my legs were feeling pretty tired after my somewhat high-mileage past weeks. Finally reaching the top of that hill felt amazing. Then miles 4-5 and 5-6 were just okay. My overall splits were:

After I finished and found Bill, we stuck around for the raffle drawing. I don’t normally do this when I have to run more mileage, but last weekend when we stuck around after the Colon Cancer Challenge, we won theater tickets! Nice. Unfortunately, this week the crowd was much bigger and we didn’t win a darn thing. After that, we dragged ourselves back onto the Central Park outer loop to run 10 more miles. Ohh yeah – it does sound like fun doesn’t it? And…it…was…tough. Taking that long break did not help and the last 10 miles of my 20 mile run were pretty painful. I made the mistake of eating too much post-race food and had a stomach ache pretty much the whole time. All in all, it was kind of a grueling 20 mile run, but at the same, a pretty good race. I actually ran a personal best 10k time – the official NYRR time was: 47:40.

So that was yesterday and Hubby and I spent the rest of the day recovering. He ran 18 miles in total and had a high mileage week as well. And now today is Easter and I am in full on Easter dinner mode. I am making my first official Easter dinner at home and I feel super grown up. But that will be my next post.

For now, I will leave you with a delicious recipe that I made last Sunday – a veggie casserole that supplied me with lots of lunch leftovers.

Veggie Casserole

It was modified from this recipe: Zucchini Herb Casserole
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/zucchini-herb-casserole/detail.aspx
Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice
  •  1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds zucchini, cubed
  • 1/2 cup of green peppers
  • 1/2 cup of mushrooms
  • 1 cup sliced green onions
  •  2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 cups seeded, chopped or canned tomatoes
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided

Directions
Combine the rice and water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes, until rice is tender.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a shallow 1 1/2 quart casserole dish.  Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, and cook the zucchini, green onions, and garlic 5 minutes, or until tender. Season with garlic salt, basil, paprika, and oregano. Mix in the cooked rice, tomatoes, and 1 cup cheese. Continue to cook and stir until heated through. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.

Bake uncovered 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

——

If you are looking for an easy, filling meal to help fuel your training, you should definitely give this one a shot. And that’s all for week 11 of marathon training. I can’t believe I’m already at my 20 milers. I have a scale back week this week which means a lovely easy 12 mile run next weekend, which I am VERY much looking forward to. And then it’s on to the next 20 miler. 🙂

What about you – are you a fan of marathon training plans that scale back in mileage every few weeks? I follow Hal Higdon’s plans and love that he gives those little breaks. I find my body always needs it.

How to Run a Marathon When You’re Undertrained

Before I start, let me just say that I do NOT think you should purposely not train adequately for a marathon. In the ideal world, everyone should train appropriately and for weeks in preparation to run a marathon. But sometimes, as we all know, life gets in the way and training gets bumped to the side.

So with that initial disclaimer out of the way, now I will tell you how I was able to run a marathon injury-free without a lot of training – in the hope that it may help someone else if he/she ever faces a similar predicament. Again – I’m not encouraging you approach running a marathon in this manner. Just saying, worst case scenario, here are some things that helped ME. These tips may not work for everyone, but I think they helped me finish my fourth race in one piece.

Here we go with my tips for the undertrained:

  • Run Consistently: Even if you can’t manage to stick to your training plan in the least and it’s pretty much a joke to reference it at all, you should still try to run as much as possible. My schedule wouldn’t allow me to run 40-50 miles a week, but there were definitely a few weeks in the 30 mile range. Basic idea – even if you can’t train to the level you want, you should be running. I would NEVER encourage someone who hadn’t been running at ALL to try a marathon. You need a base. My base was 240 miles.
  • Get in Some Long Runs: So for this marathon, my longest “long” run was only 16 miles. That’s not long at all. For my last marathon, I ran a 20 miler and 22 miles. But I did get in a few long runs this time around: 9, 10, 14, 15, 16 miles – that was the extent of my long runs. But imagine if I hadn’t at least run those?!! Get in as many as you can. That’s the basic point here.
  • Eat Well: Even though I hadn’t been running a TON over the past four months, I can say that I’ve been eating very healthy. I was probably watching my foods even more BECAUSE I wasn’t running. I knew that if my activity level went down, my weight could go up. So I was careful not to overeat, and to be sure that most of what I was eating was natural, not highly processed, lower in fat, etc. All that good stuff. I don’t care what people say – what you eat DOES matter when marathoning. I went into this marathon at a good weight, and knowing that I had nutrition on my side.
  • HYDRATE: I took hydration to a new level with this race. Early in the week before, I was sipping on coconut water and hydrating like CRAZY. Then a day before the race, I started using nuun tablets in my water for an extra boost of hydration and electrolytes. I also took a nuun tablet in my water the morning of the race. Hydration was never an issue for me during this race.
  • Go Slow & Take Breaks: I fully admit that I am that girl that busts out from the starting line at full speed, fueled by adrenaline and excitement, feeling invincible and ready to eat the marathon for breakfast. This time around, I was NOT that girl. I knew I needed to start off slow. And while my first few miles were still a little faster than what I had intended, they weren’t insane. They were manageable. And I continued to keep it slow. And then finally, when things got really tough at the end, I walked. It was a first for me, but my main concern was to finish the race and finish it injury free. I knew that walking would help get me there. Slow and steady and breaks when necessary. That is perhaps my best advice to someone feeling under-trained.
  • Don’t Stress: Lastly, try not to stress yourself out (and potentially psych yourself out) before the race. Yes, so you’re not as trained as you’d like. Well there really isn’t much you can do about it now. So if you’ve made the decision to run the race, then don’t second guess it or freak yourself out. Remind yourself that if things get really bad, you always have the option to stop completely. A DNF is not the worst thing in the world – your health is certainly more important. Stay calm, keep your head in a good place and just run it as best you can.

 

 YAY happy finish photo! And then after you’ve finished the marathon (undertrained perhaps), my final piece of advice is to foam roll, stretch and rehydrate like crazy!! After doing that, I was pleasantly surprised to not feel that sore the next day.

And that’s it. Those are my fairly obvious and not-so-groundbreaking tips to help someone undertrained run and finish a marathon injury-free.

What about you? Have you ever run a race with fewer miles logged than you would have liked? What was your secret for survival?

 

 

2011 Mohawk Hudson River Marathon Race Recap

Well, I did it! I ran my 4th marathon on Sunday, October 9 in Schenectady/Albany, NY. As I mentioned in my previous post, I was pretty nervous about this race because I was admittedly under-trained.  I had run about 240 miles in training and my longest run was 16 miles. I had good reason to be nervous.

Things that were in my favor: I ran the Boston Marathon in April, so I hoped some training maintenance had carried over; I’ve been running pretty consistently; I’ve had a bunch of long runs recently; and I have been eating very well over the past few months.

But don’t get me wrong, I know this wasn’t a smart decision. If I didn’t think I was in decent enough shape to do it, I would have bowed out. But deep down, I just knew I’d be all right.

I woke up the morning of the race a few minutes before my alarm with a nervous stomach. Not unusual for me. I got up, ate a giant bowl of oatmeal, had a cup of coffee, and then started hydrating. I tried nuun for the first time for this race and I’ll write a separate post about that.

I ran this race with my friend Lauren – we ran this race together back 2009 as well – my very first marathon. We headed to the start around 7:45 and immediately got in the bathroom line. We took the requisite pre-race photo…

Then we headed to the start, chatted with a few people we knew, and then we were off! It was a very quick start.

Our goal was to keep our pace pretty easy and consistent in the beginning. The adrenaline and the crowd tend to tempt me to pick up my pace. And I knew that especially in this race, with not much training, that could not happen. Our first few miles were still a little faster than we intended:

Mile 1 – 8:47
Mile 2 – 8:37
Mile 3 – 8:30
Mile 4 – 8:34

My parents were around the 4 mile mark cheering and taking some photos. At this spot, they only really got our backs…

We look like we were chatting away. At this point, we both felt great. And as we should, it was the first few miles. We had a gorgeous day for our race, but maybe a little too gorgeous. The beginning temps were perfect, but as the race went on, it got a little bit hot.

We began to try to slow things down after about mile 5:

Mile 5 – 8:32
Mile 6 – 8:50
Mile 7 – 8:51
Mile 8 – 9:01

When we hit our 9 minute mile, I decided that this pace seemed somewhat sustainable and I wanted to try to keep it there for a bit. I was starting to feel a tightness in my left foot and I worried that anything faster would start to take its toll on my body. We also started taking either water or Gatorade at every stop – which was every 2 miles.

Mile 9 – 9:03
Mile 10 – 9:13

A little bit after mile 10, I took my first Gu at the water stop there. I decided to take it around 10 and 20. My body was needing it at the 10 mile mark and I prayed that the caffeine would kick in quick. From mile 10.5 – about 13 we had a few uphills, and it was starting to get hot.

Mile 11 – 9:43
Mile 12 – 9:41
Mile 13 – 9:52

A little bit after mile 13 we saw my parents again, cheering with a big crowd. My mom snapped a few pictures.

We look so cheery! But I think at this point, we were both really feeling a little weary. We knew we were only halfway with a lot more running to go. We said hello and goodbye to my parents and trudged on. We saw Lauren’s whole family at mile 14 and she decided to stop and stretch a bit. She told me to keep moving.

Mile 14 – 9:33
Mile 15 – 9:03

Just after leaving Lauren and around mile 15, I had to deal with the two most annoying marathon runners. The first was a woman who decided to stop and “turn around because she started out way too fast” and apparently had some issues. She turned around to run with (and to my mind torment) two apparent colleagues. How did she torment them (and everyone around her)? By singing screaming  songs on her iPod and random cheers/jeers every 10 seconds. Literally, she did not stop. She was trying to “pump up” these two guys, but really she was just utterly obnoxious. A huge part of me wanted to tell her to shut up, but my better judgement prevailed. However, I passed two other runners who said I should do it because they had wanted to tell her to zip for a while as well.

Thankfully, I was able to pass the obnoxious girl in about a mile or two and get out of earshot, so I didn’t want to rip my hair out. I made it to 16 and then saw my parents again at 17.

Mile 16 – 9:04
Mile 17 – 9:02

I was actually feeling pretty good still… even though the photo makes it seem otherwise. Just waiting for the other shoe to drop and the pain to set in. Oh and I said there were TWO annoying runners. Well, the second was really a group of runners. There was an Asian team of runners, whose apparent Captain seemingly kept them all “motivated” by randomly screaming “WHooo HAA, Whhhoo HAA” in an extremely loud voice. The first time he did this, I thought it was a signal that they wanted to pass so I got nervous and moved over. But no, just randomly every few minutes this guy did this and scared the beejesus out of me. The obnoxious woman and the Whoo-Ha crew actually overlapped their stay in my run for about a mile, and I thought for sure I was being punished for something. Looking back, now I think it was the motivation I needed to keep up my pace and pull away from them. I ditched Screaming Lady and the Who-Ha Crew and trudged on.

Mile 18 – 9:00
Mile 19 – 8:57

After mile 18, we moved onto the main road in Watervliet and it was HOT! No shade, running on the streets with traffic, inhaling some awesome exhaust. My parents were there around just before mile 20, and they said they could tell I was totally faking my smile this time around.

Yeah, I was starting to feel the pain. I’ve got my Gu in my hand here, ready to throw it back at the next water stop, which came just after this photo was taken. I downed my Gu and tried to keep my pace up, but it became tough. By the time  I hit mile 21, I was running smack into “The Wall.”

Mile 20 – 9:24
Mile 21 – 9:38
Mile 22 – 9:58

I told myself I needed to make it to the water stop at mile 23 and then I would do something I’ve NEVER done in a race before – I would walk. Desperate times people, desperate times. I know myself. I know my body. And I knew that walking may not be a helpful thing for me because I may NEVER start running again.

I grabbed a water and Gatorade at 23 and started walking. It was a strange new experience, and I fully admit I felt embarrassed. I didn’t want to walk. I wanted to run. But I just couldn’t. I hadn’t trained hard, I needed a break. And I knew I needed to do this to be able to finish at all. But it also HURT. Walking isn’t an immediate relief. It’s just a new kind of pain – maybe a little less intense – but still pretty awful. After about 1/4 of a mile, I tried to start running again, and OH LORD, that was pain.

I managed to get moving and told myself I was allowed ONE MORE walk break.

Mile 23 – 9:58
Mile 24 – 10:53

I decided to take my next break around mile 24.4. This time around, I was prepared for the pain, but again not the embarrassment and even anger I felt at myself. I know people walk in marathons. I’ve run a few, I see it happen. But I didn’t want to do it.

As I was mulling over my guilt, one of the guys handing out water said: “Great job guys. Remember, it’s totally fine to take a break right now. You just have to look good from mile 25 to the end.” I wanted to hug him. I knew he was right. I knew that in the thick of this race, out on the bike path with no spectators, it was completely my time to deal with my pain however I needed. I had every right to walk or even stop if I needed to.

I walked for a little bit longer and then decided around 24.75 I wanted to start-up again.

Mile 25 –  11:43

I started running again at mile 25 and decided that was it. I was going all the way to the end running. I had to force myself not to check my Garmin because it felt like it was taking forever. But finally, I could feel the end and knew I’d see it soon. I tried to pick up my pace and push harder.

As I rounded the last .2 miles, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief very close. And every time this happens in a marathon I want to cry. So as I passed the family and friends lining the final .1 of a mile, I fought back my tears and tried to smile. And then I was crossing the finish!!

Mile 26 – 9:40
.25 – 2:10

Final Time: 4:04:59

It was my slowest marathon so far, but I didn’t care in the least. I wasn’t fully prepared and was happy to just finish it without any injuries. Not every race is going to be your best, and not every race will allow you to prepare like you want. But I was extremely proud of my will to power through the pain and finish strong.

And I can NOT say enough thank yous to my family and friends cheering during this race. My parents were literally everywhere, and even at mile 20 when I didn’t want anymore photos and could barely crack a smile, I was still so happy to see them.

And that’s all folks – my fourth marathon is done! Hurray! 🙂

My First Fifth Avenue Mile – Race Recap

I’ve never been a sprinter, never had much speed, never liked the pressure. And as I toed the line of the Fifth Avenue Mile start today (okay, well quite a ways back from the line really), these thoughts circled through my head and I asked myself again why I decided to sign up for this race.

Specifically, I really hate the pre-fast-race-feeling. You know it. It screams that you need to bolt out of the gate and push your hardest because this race is too short not to. Oh the pressure. And I knew I wasn’t alone in feeling this as I eavesdropped on other conversations where girls talked about nerves and tightness in their legs. It leaves me asking the same question I did in high school: Who the heck wants to be a sprinter?! Not this girl!

But I tried to push those thoughts aside as I readied myself for the race ahead of me. And then it was go time. There was a slight pause at the start and it took a few seconds to get “out of the gate” but then the crowds pretty much dispersed. This was probably because I’m so OCD that I showed up to the start super early and was pretty close to the front. So all the speedy ladies around me took off.

To be fair, I wasn’t holding anyone back. I got going at a pretty good clip right from the start. I propelled myself forward by some unknown force and told myself it wouldn’t be so bad. And the first few hundred feet weren’t!

And then I think just before the half mile point my body realized how fast I was asking it to go and abruptly went into revolt. I glanced at my watch to see a 6:20 pace!! Holy crap.

Just keep going I told myself. Thankfully, there was a slight decline that helped a little. But then it was back to pain. I actually think I started to get dizzy at one point. And then I felt like I was going to pee my pants. This people, is why I’m not a sprinter.

But I didn’t pee or faint. I pressed on and finally saw the end ahead of me. I’d like to tell you that my pain faded away and I was able to really kick it in at the end.

Not so. I finished and it wasn’t pretty. My watch tells me I ran that one atrocious mile in 6:28. Fine by me. I was shooting for 7 minutes and I didn’t pee myself. All in all, I’ll call it a good race.

What about you – are you a sprinter or more of a long-run, endurance runner?

Now it’s decision time. I signed up a LONG time ago for the 18 mile tune-up tomorrow. Dare I do it? My last long run was 15 miles…3 weeks ago. It would be nice to run a long run tomorrow with water stops along the way. I could always drop out at any time – it’s not really a race…

Mmm – did I just talk myself into it?