The 2016 Baystate Marathon

Hi friends!!!! On Sunday, October 16th-I ran the Baystate Marathon. It was my 6th Baystate. This is by far, my favorite course. I have so much to say about my PR race and thought it was time I did a recap☺️.

Sunday was SO MUCH FUN-I lived a lifetime of memories in one day and I’m going to do my best to sum it up here!

Friday.
Packet pickup on Friday with my twin, Nicole. I LOVE HER. We have been one another’s support system lately: all training considerations and thoughts are bounced off each other. We are so much alike and say that we “share a brain”. So OF COURSE  we had to do packet pickup together!

I had #11…how cool is that? (I always register RIGHT when registration opens!)

Friday night dinner: Steak tips and sweet potato.

Saturday.
I try to stay really low key the day before a marathon. I do little things like laundry and clean my bathroom (aka boring chores that I’ve been putting off forever and ever) and try to sit on my butt as much as I can!

I mostly hung out with my new puppy…LOOK AT THIS FACE!!!!!!!! His name is Tucker and I’m totally in love with this pup 🙂

Saturday night dinner: PIZZA!!! This is always my go to food before a race. THis time, it was the Polynesian pizza (Hawaiian pizza with bacon too)

Sunday: RACE DAY!!!!
Up at 5, race started at 8. Breakfast- one egg, a piece of toast, and some juice. Nothing new on race day! I made the decision to bring my hydration pack with me: I’ve never done this during a marathon before, but I had done a lot of pace miles with it on before and I felt confident that it was going to help me during the race!

My dad picked me up at 7 to bring me to the start. After my sweet Dad dropped me off, I stopped at the porta potties…And who immediately spots me upon my exit but one of my FAVORITE runners Francine! I LOVE HER SO MUCH!!! It was SO AWESOME to have a little pre-race chat with her!!

I met up with my running partner, Kristina and my twin Nicole … Then we connected with Marissa and Nari and it was the PERFECT pre-race moment!

We had some laughs, took some pictures and before we knew it….

(Kristina, me, and Nicole at the start)

IT WAS GO TIME!!!!!! (I wish I could use the new Iphone 10 update here & have fireworks go off for you as you’re reading this!–> I was that FREAKING excited and it felt like a PARTY was about to happen!!!)

I was in line for the start, and all of a sudden I heard my (main) running partner behind me: my friend Shannon! So exciting to see her right before the gun went off!!!!! We weren’t sure if we were going to bump into one another at the start, and normally she doesn’t bring her phone with her while she is racing so I hadn’t bothered to text her beforehand to meet up-so it was FATE that we found each other!

There is something about this marathon that always gets me: I’ll be standing there in the cold, shivering uncontrollably (partly from my excitement AND partly because I’m usually frozen). I always feel like I’m standing on the edge and about to fall into something wonderful. It’s a pretty special feeling and it makes me well up when I think about it! The way I see it is that we don’t get too many REALLY SPECIAL moments in life and if you are able to recognize ahead of time that THIS MOMENT that you are in RIGHT NOW is pretty magical? Well you are pretty darn lucky. My brain took a million tiny pictures that day because I KNEW it was going to be a great one.

The gun started and I forgot to start my watch! I think I started it at 15-20 ish seconds in? I also still ended up running 26.50 miles, even with the shorter time!

Shannon and I ended up running together for about 15 miles. Somewhere along miles 2-3, we talked briefly & decided we wanted to pace & push one another for as long as we possibly could. I felt pretty great for those first 15 miles…. Our pace felt really smooth, and Shannon and I are used to running together and push each other naturally so it felt like just another long run.

At mile 12, My stomach started to hurt… I felt like a hard weight was in my belly:it felt like cramps and intense GI pain combined. It was AWFUL. At mile 15, the pain was  I slowed down and couldn’t match Shannon’s pace anymore.

By 16- I knew I wasn’t going to make my goal time. and, over the next 10 miles, I stopped several times and walked for a few seconds. It was awful and I felt SO defeated.

By 18: I had to stop taking GU. I had sipped on one, slowly, for miles 6-9, and another from 12-14. But my 3rd GU, I literally couldn’t swallow it and I choked it up. My stomach was in so much pain & it didn’t want any food in it. I could still take in water and I’m really grateful for that because otherwise I would’ve gotten severly dehydrated.

At 19.5- I saw one of my good friends Kaelagh!!! I ALMOST MISSED HER BEAUTIFUL FACE!!!!!!! She was pulled over in the most random spot and I’m SO GRATEFUL for her because seeing her made me get out of my pity party/waaaaaaaahmbance!!!!!

I had told myself that I couldn’t do the MATH for my finishing time until mile 20. I knew that I had slipped to an 8 min/mile pace.. but: I knew that if I kept that pace up-I WAS STILL GOING TO PR with a 3:21/3:22 time.

I saw my friend Marli at both 13 & 22 (Baystate is primarily a double loop marathon course and certain spots along the course are great because spectators can see the runners twice)….I just love her positivity!!! At 13-I knew she was cheering me on-but by 22: I *NEEDED* to see her and was looking for her face in the crowd: she yelled to me on her megaphone that I was looking so strong and that I was a BEAST! 😘😍

Marli took this of me! Side Note: I will never race in this shirt again because it is way too big on me and NOT flattering at all, LOL!

For those last miles, I had to dig deeper than I have EVER had to dig!!! I kept telling myself that YEAH, I had a bad second half of the marathon, but I DID NOT/WOULD NOT/REFUSED to give up: I didn’t run all those crazy hard, and FAST workouts JUST to give up: I came to this race to mother f*ing PR!!!!!

The fact that I was going to PR got me to the finish line. Even if I didn’t hit my “A” goal of 3:15- I knew KNEW, without a shadow of a doubt that I was going to PR!

At mile 22: I kept saying in my head “Aly, my family, Aly, My family”

I knew my family was only 4 miles away: I NEEDED to see my daughters cute little face!!!!

I tried to speed up as much as one with basically crippled-feeling legs CAN actually speed up. I just wanted to finish! ((SOMEBODY TELL ME WHY PHEIDIPPIDES RAN 26.2 AND NOT LIKE 20??THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER JUST SAYING))

I kept thinking: OMG PLEASE LORD LET ME BE FREAKING DONE!!!!!!!

From then on it was a battle of ONLY the mind. I knew that I would be able to finish because my body is TOUGH. But I needed to actually see my People before I could quit…

At mile 25, I saw the adorable Katie cheering me on..and she is just as cute in person as on her IG!!!!!! (Sidenote: She walked to mile 25 to cheer on the marathon runners after she finished her half-SO BADASS)

And then, in all it’s red glory, came the Aiken St bridge (Ouellette Bridge), there was mile 26…at exactly 26.2: I had a 3:23:02 time on my watch. (Screw you long course!!!!)

I saw my family at 26.10 and they were SOOOO FREAKING LOUD and I know that I am SO DAMN LUCKY!!!!!!!! My daughter and my niece were jumping up and down and cheering for me!!!!!! I SPRINTED to the finish with a 6:30 pace and got an “official” PR of 3:25:25!!!!!!!!!!

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My SIL took this of me!

I set out to run a 3:15 marathon & It didn’t happen.

But what did happen:

I ran with my heart.

I dug so freaking deep into my soul to finish this run: it took everything out of me.

I learned how tough, physically & mentally that I really am.
First half:1:37
Second half: 1:48

Official finish time: 3:25:25

(again with the shirt-where did my shorts go????)

My watch -3:23:02 for 26.2, 3:25:02 for 26.50.
Don’t stop believing friends! 6:30 down to a 3:25. Sub 3:15… you will one day be MINE

Splits: 7:19, 7:01, 7:15, 7:15, 7:17, 7:28, 7:18, 7:24, 7:23, 7:23, 7:24, 7:25, 7:25, 7:43, 7:55, 8:15, 8:03, 7:58, 8:04, 8:00, 8:06, 7:57, 8:33, 9:15, 7:56, 8:01, 3:37 (.50)

My family and I at the finish!

One really amazing moment that I have to brag about: My twinnie, Nicole, GOT HER FIRST BQ!!!! Girlfriend got a 3:35 and we are BOTH going to the 2018 Boston Marathon! It was so special to see her after the marathon. My head is always a little foggy when I finish, and I wasn’t sure yet where exactly she was along the course. I was in the finisher’s chute, and all of a sudden-I looked up and THERE SHE WAS! I’m so PROUD of her for achieving her dream of a BQ. And you are only just beginning girlfriend! 🙂 🙂 🙂

 

After the race, we went to one of our favorite watering holes. I got a sandwich as big as my face….

My Niece and I have a tradition of her wearing my medal and us taking a picture with it 🙂

And some family pictures. Aly is pointing to me because she would like you to know that I am the champion!

More family pics 🙂

 

And I made my puppy wear my medal. How could I NOT????

 

And now you have the whole PR story. If you’ve made it this far- THANK YOU!!!!

2015 Baystate Marathon Recap 

Congrats to all of my fellow Baystate Marathoners who completed the half or full this past weekend! It was a very cold and windy day and we DID IT!! I’m sorry for the delay in the recap, but today was really the first day that the fog has lifted from my brain because I have been so very sick.

Before I launch into my recap, I want to say THANK YOU to the Baystate Marathon race director, Glenn Stewart and the Baystate staff. This is the second year that I have been their official race blogger and its an honor to represent this amazing race. It’s run by the Greater Lowell Road Runner’s (which I just proudly joined!) and they put on a terrific day for runners. Their tagline is “for runners/ by runners” and it really is. The expo is run by its members and always feels very home-y to me. I say it all the time-The Baystate Marathon is my favorite marathon. It’s well organized, staffed, and I always feel completely safe when I’m running it. The course itself is terrific and usually there are some gorgeous trees to help get your mind off the 26.2 miles. This past Sunday did not disappoint. If I wasn’t running a race, I would have stopped a whole bunch of times to take pics because the trees were STUNNING!! (Sidenote: I had the honor of being #10 this year because I was the very first person to register. This is how much I love this race:))

Let’s back up to taper week: Wednesday, I began to develop a slight cough but didn’t think much of it. Thursday, the cough progressed and I could feel it taking root in my lungs and couldn’t stop coughing. I asked my IG running community for help and was BLOWN away by their quick responses: Since last Thursday, I’ve been drinking Emergen-C and special teas, swallowing Zinc, downing Apple Cider Vinegar shots, making homemade concoctions, and sleeping/hydrating a TON. These things helped the congestion in my lungs a little bit but the cold still worsened. By Saturday, it was in my head, and by Sunday, I couldn’t even pop my ears due to massive head congestion.

I really weighed my options because lets face it– doing a marathon when you’re sick isn’t very fun. There are a few other full marathons that I’ve always been interested in so I thought about signing up for one of those with the hope that my cold would be gone by then. But my brain kept going back to these thoughts:
-I’m perfectly tapered for Baystate. What would happen if I pushed the race out 1,2, even 3 weeks??
-My family was ready to come to the race
-I trained all summer along the course
-ITS MY FAVORITE MARATHON!!!!!

So I told myself that even though I didn’t know if I could meet my goal for the race, I would still go out and try my very best. If I ended up feeling worse, I knew I could call my husband or my dad to come and pick me up. (I didn’t have a fever, and if I did? I definitely wouldn’t have done the race.)

The weather dawned bright and sunny…but COLD. I didn’t want to wear a lot of layers during the race, so I figured I’d just try to keep on the bulky layers until I got warm. I thought that I would be warm by the 2nd mile (that’s my typical mile that I throw my clothes away) I wore my original Lionness skirt, this sports bra, black arm warmers, black compression socks, pink tank top, cute new Chica bands headband I bought at the expo. 

It was a whole lot colder than what I’ve been used to lately. Before Sunday, the coldest run that I had done so far was 50 degrees. My Garmin says that it was 28 degrees and I think that feels right! I got to the start at 7:30. My dad got as close to the starting line as he possibly could and dropped me off. He told me to call him if I needed a pickup. I didn’t have long to stand and wait around and for THAT, I am so grateful!

I saw a few friends before the start, dropped off my bag, and lined up with the 3:15 pace group. My plan was to stay with them through the half and if I felt good, I could branch out on my own. If I wasn’t feeling like I could go any faster-I would try to stay with them, or, as close to them as possible. BUT… This was my plan pre-illness. I definitely felt that it was doable, but with a head/chest cold,  I had no idea what would happen.

I could barely even hear the National Anthem being sung because my ears were blocked. And I don’t remember a whole lot about standing in the starting corral-I think i was a little surprised that I was running a marathon and it felt a little surreal. I blame that on the cold meds…. BLAAA. I had a thick fleece on over my cute outfit, and underneath that-a throw away sweatshirt and gloves. I disposed of the fleece right as the anthem was finished being sung..seriously…it was SO DAMN COLD that I could hardly bear to part with it. I didn’t even realize until I sat down to write this post that I took no pictures of my race outfit, and no pictures of me at the starting line.. It really didn’t even occur to me. I was way too nervous about racing while being sick since it’s something I’ve never done before.

The gun went off promptly at 8 (I love that) and we were off!

  I tried to snap a good picture of my pace group leaders shirt but it was tough!

Miles 1-9.
I learned from my mistakes of running in a large group from last year: The orange cones lining the course  tripped me up…a lot. I didn’t want it to happen again, so I stayed at the back of the pace group. It was primarily men and just 2 other girls… If I fell….I would have gotten stomped on by really tall men!

I didn’t shed my gloves until mile 7…and even then I was really hesitant to do it. I was a little sweaty and it was either toss the gloves-or toss the sweatshirt. I didn’t want to get to a situation where I was suddenly walking and freezing and wishing I hadn’t thrown it away so the gloves were tossed. As soon as I tossed them, I immediately cooled. I’m now wondering if I should’ve kept the gloves and tossed the sweatshirt because I never warmed up again and kept that damn ugly, old sweathshirt on for 26.2 miles. (and it was an old zip up shirt that I think I got from high school!)) 

I stayed with the pace group this whole time. Everything still felt good, and I figured I had a good chance to hit the goal I wanted to hit.

Mile 10.
My cute running partner Kristina told me to look for her family  at mile 10 and I ALMOST MISSED HER and the GIANT AMAZING sign she made me!! I asked her how I was doing and she said GREAT and that the 3:15 pace group was right ahead of me and that my goal was going to happen. She told me she’d be there for the second loop and I’d see her at Mile 20.

Mile 11.
Tra la la la la! I get to see my friend again at mile 20! Yay!

Mile 12.
Rourke Bridge- See my friend Marli and I’m SO thriled that I face planted into her to give her a hug. She tells me to keep going and that I’m doing GREAT!

Mile 13.
I’m tired.

Mile 14.
I think the pity party started right around then. I didn’t want to be there, I wanted to go back to bed, I wanted to be warm…I wanted a lot of things. I think this was also when I realized the 3:15 pace group was a little farther ahead of me than what I’d planned. I thought to myself “It’s ok! The 3:25 group hasn’t passed me yet! I’m good.”

Mile 15/16/17.
My breathing started to feel really laborious (that’s what happens when you run IN the cold WITH a cold, duh), and I saw the 3:25 pacer’s shadow over my shoulder as they slowly passed from behind me.(((SIGH))) #Sadness. It’s really hard to remember a lot of details from around that time besides hitting the WALL. I WANTED to go home with Kristina when I saw her. Or call my Dad. I just didn’t want to be there anymore and marathons are dumb, and running when you’re sick is dumb and I probably was even thinking that running itself is dumb. Sniffle sniffle, cough cough, and cue the Waaaahhmbulance!!

30k:
I hit the 30k in 2:24 and I remembered that when I did Stu’s 30k back in March, I ran that in 2:45. I realized things might not be that bad after all.

Mile 19.
I GET TO SEE MY FRIEND IN A MILE AND IF I WANT, SHE WILL TAKE ME HOME. 

Mile 20/21
I see my beautiful friend, running towards me! I tell her how sad I am about the 3:25 group passing, and she lets me continue to cry and moan to her. Then she tells me she’s going to run with me for a little while. (company is amazing during a marathon, FYI) She starts telling me funny stories of her day of spectating. She gets me out of my own head. Along mile 20, I also saw my beautiful running partner S! I almost missed her TOO because I was looking down at the road! She brought her kids to cheer me on and it was amazing! I only wish I could’ve stopped to hug her, but I’m not sure I would have finished if I did that!!!

Kristina and I hit mile 21 and she told me that she has to turn around and get back to her husband and cute little baby. She said that she KNEW I was going to finish and at that moment? I knew it too. I am 100% positive that I would’ve given up if it weren’t for her words of encouragement. She was really sore from her tempo workout the day before, but she still pushed me to get my pace faster because she knew exactly what I needed at that exact moment. I’m forever grateful for what she did for me! Never underestimate the healing power of friendship!!

Mile 22
4 miles left? I can do 4 miles in my sleep! I picked up the pace a little because I was almost done!

Mile 23.
I felt so strong mile 23! I started to pass people and dream of a martini and French fries!

I haven’t mentioned this yet, but my stepdaughter was going to be at the finish line with my SIL, my MIL, and my niece. I said “my family is at the finish line” over and over in my head and it became my mantra. I was so excited to see my little’s face!!

Mile 24
This was my slowest mile, and I don’t know why. My legs felt like they were moving fast but my split ended up being an 8:58.

Mile 25…almost there…Mile 26…yay! I happened to look down at my watch at exactly 26.2 miles and it read 3:25:50. I guess it’s a PR from my 3:28:07… But it’s not official so I have a hard time considering it an actual PR.

I crossed the finish line, officially, with a 3:28:33. 26 seconds off of my “official PR”, and pretty far away from the time goal I had set.

Over the first few days of being sick, I think I went through the denial stages and I definitely struggled the most with “anger.” Of all the times to get sick (and I’m NEVER sick): its the week of my big race. What dumb bad luck. But you can’t plan everything, and I definitely trained like a bad-ass for 4 months and did the hard work. “It is what it is” and I DO know that I had a terrific time-whether I was sick or not. A 3:28 is fantastic: It’s a BQ with lots of cushion . I didn’t enjoy myself as much as I usually do during a race. I just love this course and to be sick while running it…well. It just wasn’t as fun as it normally is for me!

Some fun pictures from the day…

This is right where my family is standing. I’m waving both hands because they were on BOTH sides of the street, haha.



I was immediately a popsicle after the finish and I regretted not packing a blanket in my bag. SO freaking COLD outside!!

  This is one of my favorite pictures of all time. You can’t really tell, but that’s my little one bundled up in this coat. SHe was hugging me for so long telling me she was proud of me. It meant the world to me that SIL captured it 🙂


This is my girlfriend Kaey who volunteered that day. She had a bunch of friends who were running and thought it would be fun to volunteer. I LOVE her. Anyway, someone snapped this pic of us and I know for a fact that I was feeling like I was going to pass out right here and Kaey walked with me for a while until I got my feet back! Thanks girlfriend!

  Kaey made us some signs 🙂

Family hugs 🙂


After the race, it was off to our local watering hole! (We go to the same place every year.) Every year-> my niece and I take a picture together. I love that she comes to all my finish lines, too because she’s the funniest/sweetest thing!


Being silly with the hubs 🙂


The SILS and our photo bombers!


Me with my little ladies 🙂

 

And some of the professional pictures:

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See?? I told you I kept the sweatshirt on ALL DAY!

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This pic above?? THIS is my very favorite racing photo of ALL TIME. And I run a whole lot of races so THAT is saying something my friends!


This years medal were STUNNING. They are red to signify the LAST of the bridges that the runners cross (it’s red :))

 

I didn’t get the time I wanted, but you know what? It was still a very good day. I ran my favorite race and was blown away by all the support I received. I felt the love all around me! That’s the most important thing. I had my family there for me, my friends, and all of YOU in my corner..so THANK YOU.

I have to say that running is a lifetime sport for me. That’s always in the back of my mind. And, I’m learning that PR’s and official times don’t define me. You are great even without the “great” times. That being said… I will get my goal someday and I’m not worried about it 🙂

And oooone more picture:

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This is a “throwback” to my very first Baystate Marathon. You can see how little Aly is! She was only 5 here 🙂 I will never forget this race, as long as I live: This was the first time I was ever able to break the 5 hour mark with a time of 4:17-I think it was a PR of about 45 minutes for me. Knowing that I could do something so amazing gave me a LOT of hope. I’ve kind of taken that hope and run with it over the years. I will never ever give up on my dreams, and neither should you. It’s ok to miss a time goal you set for yourself because it just gives us more inspiration to go out and knock it out of the park next time.

 

Thank you for reading this really obnoxiously long post 🙂 And as always, Run Free, Run Strong my friends!

xoxo

Why should you run a local & smaller marathon like The Baystate Marathon

I’ve run a whole lot marathons. So many that I often lose count at how many I’ve finished! When I first started running full marathons, I chose to run larger races like Boston and NYC. I incorrectly assumed that all races were created equally. The large starts, elbows in the face, tripping over my fellow runners sneakers-I thought these things happened at every single race!

It wasn’t until 5 years ago that I started to do smaller marathons. In the fall of 2011, I registered for a race in my backyard. I quickly fell in love with my hometown race, The Baystate Marathon, and have done it annually since. I know a lot of runners only do those huge races, but I wanted to give you some of my favorite reasons and why I think you should consider running a smaller marathon race-like my favorite race, The Baystate Marathon!

1.) Course prep! My long runs are done along the course. Once a week you can see me running the course in preparation for race day. There is nothing like training on the course for your upcoming race. It prepares you mentally and physically. I love that I can navigate it’s roads in my sleep. (And I know where the nearest porta potties/bathrooms are!)

2.) Sleeping in my bed the night before the race. Waking up early is hard to do. Waking up early to drive a couple of hours is dam near impossible to do. The morning of Baystate I wake up early and drive 10 minutes. BOOM. Local runners: there is nothing like this: to me, being able to sleep in my own bed is priceless. Out of town runner’s: There are also several nearby hotels that are a 5-10 minute drive to the start of the race or you can take the shuttle services offered by Baystate. For more info, see here

3.) Local support: The water stops are manned by the local track teams from the town’s you will pass through. More than once, one of my students has handed me my cup of water as I blaze past, and of course I see all of my coach friends. The kids are excited and energized to be helping out!

4.) Skipping the lottery. There is No waiting to enter the Baystate Marathon! No lottery, no staggered registration based on your previous BQ time. Ever signed up for NYC? Then you know exactly how annoying the lottery can be. Ever held your breath with your heart pounding in your chest as you submitted your app for Boston while PRAYING/crying/pleading with the big guy that you made the cut? A small local race allows you to register immediately, sparing yourself the near heart attack.

5.) Running on a much less crowded course. I consider Baystate to be on the “smaller large side” if this makes sense. It’s not too big (like Boston or, even larger:NYC), And it’s not too small (Hyannis Marathon has only about 400 participants).  It’s limited field (2000 entrants for the full) make it the “Baby Bear” of race course sizes: it’s just right. It has friendly competition, is still large enough that they offer pace groups, yet small enough that getting elbowed in the face (most likely) will not happen to you.

6.) Additional race offered besides the 26.2. Another cool part of Baystate is that they also offer a half marathon at the same time: not all marathons do this, and I love when they do. I have found that you can always talk one of your friends into running the half as you’re running the full! Race buddies are the best!

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(Some of my race friends who ran Baystate with me last year!)

7.) Its So Much Cheaper!!! Boston is $180! Hyannis cost me $60, and if you got an early entry into Baystate it’s $85. CHA CHING!! That’s more money you can put towards something else running-related, right? Like your next race…

8.) Local people are the staff that are directing the race. I know who directs my favorite marathon, and I know that the money goes right back into the community for races, fun runs, and other activities that encourages running. I feel good about that. Local people volunteer to help, and local police officers are manning the course and shutting down traffic. A friend of mine handed me my bib last year. I like all things that go along with racing local!

9.) Good cheering sections for friends and family. Baystate has extremely accessible areas for your family to cheer you on. It’s possible for them to get to all areas of the course to see you whiz by! Last year my friend Sandy drove along the course until she spotted me so that she could cheer me on! You can’t get stalking like that at a big race!

(One of the bridges that full marathoner’s will cross twice- other side is a great area for spectators!)

10.) And my personal favorite reason I think you should join me at Baystate this year? Fewer crowds and less people on the course means a chance for a sizable PR. You don’t have to make up those precious seconds you lost due to the weaving that happens with big races. Of course you can run a PR at a large race-it’s never happened to me though. All of my PRs have happened at this race I like to call my favorite race, The Baystate Marathon! This race was also recognized as one of the 15 fastest fall marathons to BQ, and has earned the #2 spot for the fastest marathon in the country!

Even if The Baystate Marathon isn’t local to you-you should just come run it with me anyway- it will be a great day!

As of today (8/2) registration for the marathon is at 1278 filled spots with 722 remaining! Get yourself one of those open spots! It WILL fill up, and it won’t be the day before…it fills sometime in August, so don’t delay too much on entering! 


Who’s running Baystate with me?

Some random marathon things that didn’t fit in the last post…

There were a few things that just didn’t fit within my race recap, (because it would make it a mile long) so I decided to put them all in a separate post. There really is no pattern or flow to this, so just roll with it.

Shoes.
I’ve been asked which shoes I ended up wearing. And why did I choose them?
I ended up going with my Pureflow 2s. I was really, really happy I went with them. I have to tell you though…during the last week of taper, I started to have a whole bunch of random foot pains. I blew it up in my mind: my foot was breaking/broken, that I would run the marathon, but midway, my foot would break in half and I would be carried off in a stretcher. The mind can be cruel if we let it be! I debated wearing the heavier Ghosts right up until I actually left.

The Pureflows were a great choice! I’ve never done a marathon in shoes as light as this-it’s usually a heavier pair like my Ghosts that win! Fun fact: my half marathon PR was done in this pair of shoes-To me that’s kind of cool!!

-Runderwear. I’ve never used it before. I went to Dicks the day prior to the marathon and saw it for $10. Normally my cheap butt wouldn’t pay $10 for a single pair of underwear, but I made an exception. So, I wore it on Sunday. Bought it on Saturday. The best time to try new stuff is Marathon day right?! um, no, it is not. But..I really didn’t give a damn. This may be a bit of TMI, but my long runs always cause, ahem… a little chafe-age, and I despise that…so the worst that could happen a that I hated the Runderwear. Lucky for me: NOPE to chafe-age and I loved it. Brand? Reebok.

What did I eat the night before?
Pizza! I love my homemade multi grain pizza! I always stick to the same things before my long runs and during this particular training cycle-pizza the night before kept my stomach completely calm!

What did I wear for clothes?
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I wore my favorite running skirt from Skirt Sport (The “Cougar”, if you are curious) because it has three pockets and I LOVE pockets. For a top, I wore a tank because I get hot quickly whole racing. I found a tank top from Nike that I got at Dicks on Saturday. (I know, more new things, not the best but it worked out. ) I wore my black Pro Compression socks and my Nike sports bra (it is my all time favorite)

People recongnizing me:
This was pretty funny for me-I was recognized a lot on Sunday-at the start, during, and afterwards…a lot of readers came over and said hello-that’s so much fun because I love meeting new runners!! So THANK YOU to all of you who said hi!

Tracking: this year was the first time that tracking was available for both the half and the full-it was awesome! I love that my family and my readers knew where I was and were able to see my progress on the course. It is a lot more fun when you can track people live!

Fueling:
Baystate has two fuel stops: like 7&17. They offer the Powerbar gels but I brought my own because I can’t stand the consistency of the Powerbar gel. I prefer GU-salted watermelon is my favorite! I took 4 with me, ended up eating 2 3/4 of them. I literally couldn’t stand the third one and was only forcing it down because I was trying to keep my energy levels up.

The Faster Field. This is so fascinating to me, a geek who loves statistics and placements. As someone who has now completed four Baystate Marathons I can say with confidence that the crowd I was in for the 2nd half felt a little thin this year. Last year, I felt like I was constantly surrounded by runners, and I was 17 minutes slower. There were plenty of periods where I was solo on Sunday. I started to think about how the field felt faster, and I did some research for my previous marathon times:

-In 2013, -I was finisher #561/1344 with a 3:47 time
-in 2012, I was finisher #580/1192 with a 3:54 time
-in 2011, I was finisher #672/1002 with a 4:17 time

In 2014, I was the 350th finisher with a time of 3:28. There 1576 marathoners. You can see the growth with the marathon, can you not?

This probably is only cool to me…but I couldn’t help but look at similar placement in finishing times to mine for the past 3 years. If I had gotten the same time in:

2011-I would have been the 187th finisher…
2012-I would have been the 293rd finisher…
2013-I would have been the 284th finisher…

What does this mean? It means the field for Baystate is becoming increasingly competitive. The race this year sold out faster than I can ever remember it selling out. Word is spreading for what an amazing course it is. Some of my fellow runners have said that they think it was hillier than expected- I personally don’t notice the inclines in it, but that is just me because I’m truly used to running the course all the time. The race is growing size-wise, but it seems to also be growing for speed…faster runners want a chance to display their best running selves on the 3rd Sunday IN October.

What does this mean for my own Baystate future? It means I will be signing up for Baystate on opening day next year!!! 😉 Hey Glenn-Can I have Bib #1???? 😉

-There has been a lot of talk of “The BQ” in my house lately. The husband is over it. He has started teasing me by saying things like “Hey, guess what? I DQ’d today!” And when I stare at him with a blank expression, he then tells me he “Dairy Queened” haha….gotta love the humor!!!

Anyone else have a non running spouse who teases you mercilessly about your running and the weird running terms?

Baystate runners: did the field feel faster to you too?

2014 Baystate Marathon Recap: The Wind, The Struggles& The BQ!

Can I start all my sentences now with “I BQ’d”? Is that inappropriate? Maybe. But maybe not seeing as I worked real hard for this moment!

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17 minutes. This is what I took off of my previous marathon PR. (Hyannis Marathon, Feb 2014). 3:28:07. There are like one million emotions running through me right now as I type this post.

I have to start off by acknowledging what an amazing team of people put together Baystate. I was given the opportunity to blog about my training for Baystate this year by Glenn Stewart, race director, and his incredible team- I would never ever blog about something that I wasn’t passionate about: I am QUITE passionate about the Baystate Marathon. It is run by TRUE professionals. Everything is seamless, and I have never once had a single problem with registering, bag check, porta potties, finish area, etc….I LOVE this race. Not only because it’s in my backyard: it’s a fabulous course, a PR course-for sure. Also, being that it is set on the 3rd weekend in October means you are practically guaranteed to have nice weather. The course is ALWAYS well maintained, and the police directing traffic are really looking out for the runners. The finish line chute is a breeze and I met my family&friends very quickly…this is a race I will go back to again and again! (Sunday was my 4th Baystate…that proves how much I love this race!!

Race day weather was awesome. We were chilly at the start (ok, FREEEZING) so I kept my sweater on as LONG as possible:
Me and my SIL embarking on our journey! (thanks again Mama D for driving us!)
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We got to the start around 7:15..we live close by so it was a lot easier for us to get there that late than most people are able to, plus we got dropped off so we didn’t have to worry about getting around road closures in order to park. We immediately stood in the porta potty line right next to the bag check. I have to say-there seemed to be even more porta potties than last year, and they had them in secret spots too, all around the start line-I never noticed lines that were too long! While in the porta potty line, a runner introduced herself and said “Excuse me…are you the girl with the blog? I just had to ask!” And I AM the girl with the blog, so this was a LOT of fun to be asked! Allison was running her first marathon, and I later found out she rocked it and finished in under 5!! YOU GO GIRL!!! Bag check was also a piece of cake. Hello sirs&ma’ams, here is my bag, please keep it safe, #thankyouverymuch.

I got to see my running partner for about two secs before we each had to go line up at our respective starts (she was doing the half) but we did snap a quick cute pic!! It was awesome to see her and her wonderful mama (also doing the half!) for about a minute!! They both rocked it!

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The Race.
Miles 1-13.
My plan all along had been to run with a pace group. I decided that I wanted to be smart and head out with the 3:25 group, break away at 15, and try to catch the 3:15 group. This plan worked for the first half of the race. The weather was amazing, I was in the thick 3:25 group, and I felt like I could’ve pulled away & passed them at any moment. In fact, I kept reigning myself back in so as not to kill my speed.

My biggest issue the first 14 is that the group was so tight, that I was focused on keeping my eyes constantly on the pacers. This caused me to trip not once but twice on the lovely stupid orange cones. I seriously managed to find myself needing to hop over practically every dam cone. Mile five I was going down..think “face plant” down…but a wonderful, amazing, lovely lady in a purple tank &turquoise sports bra reached down, grabbed my arms, and hauled me up. YOU ARE MY HERO!!! I could have cried because I was so happy not to have fallen!! I don’t know that I could do that for somebody else.. I am SO ridiculously clumsy that I think I would also topple on top of you as I try to pull you up. So after my angel picked me up, it was smooooth sailing. Loop one-over the bridge-felt amazing. #BAMIGOTTHIS

I had zero problems staying with the pace group for the first 14. I ended up NOT taking my camelbak–> this is my biggest regret and one of the reasons I slowed in the 2nd half. I have said it before and I will say it again:I am terrible at water stops. The act of “stopping” slows me, and slows me real fast. I started to realize though that even though it was easy for me to catch my pace group at my first few stops, it was going to be pretty tough for me to catch them later on..truth be told, that had been my biggest concern going into marathon day. I hadn’t wanted the weight of the pack, so I opted to leave it at home. HUGE Mistake. Oh well, you live and learn!! Also, I know runners are always curious about this: I GUd three times-7,14,20– but never finished the last packet because the taste started to make me sick. I stopped for water at 5,9,15,18,20,22,23,24(after 20, I just wanted the excuse to walk)

There were a few times during the race where I found myself getting really emotional. The first few times, it was because I was literally seeing myself hit all of my goal times and I was really, ridiculously happy. I had made myself memorize a few key splits on my pacers shirt:
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I did the first half in 1:40:49 (coincidently,my 2nd fastest half time) I was on pace, and doing exactly what I wanted to be doing. I was really proud of myself for sticking to my plan. I couldn’t believe a BQ was actually going to happen for me: It was Surreal, and still is. A lot of you have said that you found it hard to believe that I haven’t BQd before, and while I thank you for thinking that, I guess the marathon always runs me down. It’s a tricky minx: you go out all cocky and excited, get beaten down, and just when you think you are going to quit, you begin to see the silver lining and realize you’re almost there… and somehow, somehow you finish with on tired legs, and with a full heart.

Mile 14
Still happy! Still strong! And then….mile 15. my headphones managed to get ripped out of one of my ears and I couldn’t get it back on the right way. So I lost my music. And then I lost my pace group. And I couldn’t go catch up no matter how hard I tried because the wind had started. I hate wind. HATE IT. I will take snow, rain, and humidity so high you can drink the air over a windy day. So by 15, I had slowed to an 8:00 pace and I had to fight to keep that. No matter what I did, I seemed to be unable to get myself back to my pre 7:20-7:30 pace. I just couldn’t get there. Each water stop, I fell more behind the pace group, and I slipped into a dark place in my mind, these evil thoughts were swirling around:
I’m not going to BQ.
All of this hard work for nothing.
I’m going to disappoint all of my readers who believe in me!
I never want to run a marathon again!
I want to go home!
I hate running!

15-18 were brutal. The wind exhausted me and sucked up my speed. Fighting to keep pace 15 miles in is no piece of cake. Once I crossed the bridge, I was telling myself that it was ok because at 21, I was going to see my friend Erin and she would help me finish! So the countdown to How many Miles Until I See my Friend began. It was a long way. It was hard. I don’t necessarily need music, but I can tell you that I had spent an awful lot of time crafting the Worlds Most Amazing Playlist and dammit I had wanted to hear it!

I was positive at this point that I would not be BQing. 100% abso-freaking-lutely positive. But them two amazing things happened…

#Amazing Thing #1
This is a little sidebar story. My SIL (as you might recall, ran her first half Sunday?!) has an amazing friend named Sandy. We are Facebook friends and talk ALL the time, but had never met in real life. (She is the MOST AMAZING and INSPIRATIONAL person who Has Ever Lived.)On Sunday, Sandy and I Were going to meet (she was volunteering at like 100 different spots during the race), but couldn’t manage to hookup. She realized that she never saw me go over the bridge, so she set off to find me. She drove the course, hoping to catch me.

So here is Nicole, at mile 20: picture her, if you will:she is sad. she feels broken, both physically&mentally. Suddenly, there is a minivan on the other side of the street with a lady about to fall out because she is YELLING MY NAME SO HARD and at that moment I realized who she was and heard her words:

THIS IS YOUR RACE, NICOLE, ITS YOUR BQ!! YOU GO GET IT!!!

I realized she is right! this IS my race! I WILL go get it! I cannot thank you enough Sandy, you truly pulled me out of my own negativity and helped me get my mind straight!!

Amazing Thing #2:
Right after seeing Sandy, my watch clicked mile 20 at 2:36… I did some quick mental math:I was still holding a low 8 minute pace: even if I slipped to 10 minute pace, I would still BQ! Maybe doing the math wasn’t the best thing ever. I knew it was “ok” to slow, but I honestly couldn’t go any faster if I tried. Even though my 2nd half was slower–I could tell that all of my fast finish long runs were helping me be able to hold onto the 8 minute pace. For past marathons, I have easily slipped down to a 9 minute pace.

Finally… it was mile 21, and there was Erin… I told her how happy I was to see her (understatement of the year, right there) We previously had had a plan to run the last 5 at <7:30 pace. Umm, yeah, that wasn’t happening. She asked if I wanted her to tell me that I had to pick up the pace if we went above 8 and I said "yes". But when she told me to pick it up…I couldn’t. I really couldn’t. I was crying while telling her I couldnt go any faster…I tried so hard, but everything everything was hurting. I had a toe on my left foot that I swear to god I could feel it’s pulse. (yeah, it’s black. Yuck.) Thank Sweet Baby Jesus that Erin was there and jumped in with me—just knowing that she was helping me finish and was trying to get me to our original pace Really helped me stay focused on her pace and not slow anymore than I already was. Or stop. Because I wanted to stop. Like a lot. Like “give me my medal at 23 please” stop. But she would not let me, so, I focused on all the things Erin was saying and tried to stay “in the mile” I was in.

I’ve run plenty of marathons where I haven’t felt good in the end. This was an all over body stiffness/soreness that I haven’t experienced before. My goodness, it really freaking hurt. Every mile felt never ending, and even when I had only 2 left to go, it felt like 20.

FINALLY… I rounded the last corner of the course, and could see/hear the finish line excitement!!! I gave it all that I could (which was still not much) and finished strong!!

I couldn’t help but cry. The lovely volunteers were all asking me if I got my BQ and I was so happy to tell them that I had, and it had taken me 14 marathons to finally do it.

I was so happy to finish with me friend! I couldn’t have finished that strong without her and probably would have let myself walk, or slip from an 8 minute pace on up. THANK YOU know million times over, Erin!!!

We walked to the family meeting area and over to bag check. It was all so easy to get to, and I didn’t have to think about where to find my family.

Erin and I at the finish:
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My adorable nephew& I… he &my niece made us signs…seriously, how cute are these?!

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Me & SIL at the finish line…she did an amazing job on her first half and I am SO PROUD of her!! And she said she would go back and do it again!!

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This picture is me and my MIL….it pretty much sums up all of my emotions post-marathon & as a first time BQ’r…

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Some other important thank you’s that need to be said: Thank you to all of you for believing in me. I’m not kidding when I say that your well wishes were playing in my head while I was running–they were on a loop! I loooooove reading all the comments from yesterday and I promise I’m going to respond (I went to work the next day, can you believe it?!)

Thank you to my family who always supports me-my parents, sister, my SIL, BIL, niece& nephew, MIL, FIL…without them I could not do all this marathoning nonsense!

Thank you to my friends who always support me in my crazy marathoning adventures. Their friendly faces are always at the finish lines. They get up super early on their days off just to come and get me in the city. They are the bees knees and I am a lucky, lucky girl❤️

Thank you to running partner for crazy 5am runs, endless run talk & for the pep talks💛💙💛💙

Thank you to my husband who figured out a long time ago that a happy wife is a happy life. He may not go to the finish lines anymore, but he lets me be who I am, and train how I want and never hardly ever complains. Love that guy!

I think I will be riding the emotional high for a while. Yes, it took me 14 marathons to do this-but I wasn’t serious like I am now over the course of those 14. To be truthful, I think it took 3 solid years of effort. I’m completely ecstatic that it happened for me at my very favorite race. I will never forget the feeling of first breaking 4 hours (at Baystate, 2012, 3:54) in the marathon. That little break under the 4 hour mark told me that I actually can do this, I just would have to work a little harder. The next year, (Baystate 2013, 3:47), I took 7 minutes off that PR. Just a little bit further… the goal was almost in my reach. This summer I worked my a** off to get here. This is a feeling that I will never, ever take for granted. Yes, I do wish I had hit my goal time…but at the end of the day, I did finally BQ. I know I am fully capable of a sub 3:20, and I’m already scheming on how to get there (does that surprise you? 😉) I know my story is a sort of the Cinderella story for runners-the fairy tale of a really slow runner who is transforming into a fast runner. But there is no fairy godmother here…just hard work, effort, and a obsession with making dreams come true…because seeing “BQ” next to my name in the results? Well that is just about the coolest thing ever…
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Sooooo. I BQ’d!!!

I actually cannot believe it.
I’m in absolute shock still..
I have been crying like a baby ALL. Damn. Day.

I did not hit my goal time…but I still did BQ…3:28:07, and almost twenty minutes off of my previous PR❤️
I promise to explain every single detail in my recap tomorrow….for now I would just like to say a GIGANTIC, AMAZING, HUGE thank you to everyone who believed in me…your well wishes were looping through my mind today..I can’t thank you all enough:

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This is all I have to say right now:
If you have ever had a dream..
if you have ever tried to do something that you were not 100% sure you actually could do….
if you have ever repeatedly tried to do something again and again without the results you wanted….

NEVER.
EVER.
GIVE.
UP.

Keep running free, and running strong💙💛💙💛💙💛

Silent sunday!

Well mostly silent. When you are reading this, I will be (at least&god willing) 1/2way through my marathon!

Number pickup!

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Me and my girl apple picking!
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Came home to a sweet surprise of cookies and a beautiful cars from my amazing running partner❤️❤️❤️ as I write this-I’ve already had three…and they are amazing…Carb loading, right??!?
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And this bridge. Tomorrow.
Doin it.
Twice.
#Getthebqnicole

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The numbers game!!!!

Some numbers in my head right now…

18 is the number of weeks ago that I started training for this marathon. (it flew by)

816.6 is the number of miles I’ve run while in training for Baystate (does anybody know how far from Boston 816.6 miles is???)

Seven. number of 20 miler long runs I have done in preparation for this race. (I have never done more than 2) I guess I think 20 is the new 15? (or I’m just plain crazy)

14 is the number of marathons I will have completed after Sunday. Holy cow!!!

14 (after Baystate)will be my number of races run so far this year…14 in 2014 was my goal for the year! (I will be doing more than that though!)

Three (after Sunday!)is the number of marathons I will have completed this year alone. (Most I’ve ever done in a year!)

Mile 21 is going to be pretty freaking sweet because my girlfriend is jumping in with me to help me finish strong! (a million trillion thanks Erin!!)

9 is the number of Garmin-selfies I have taken during this marathon training (there were a A LOT of screenshots but I’m sparing you all…YW.)
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Two is the number of shoes I’m still deciding between…Brooks Ghosts or Brooks Pureflows?!
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100% is the anxiety level in at right now. Just freaking get here race day, would you??

100% is the excitement level I’m on! Come on Sunday!!!

3:18 is the finish time I’m shooting for. Based on my half finish on Oct 5-I’m just about there(I knew I should’ve/could’ve run faster that day, too)
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Three is the number of beers I am planning on having after. ok just kidding. I will have five. Okay Six. (yeah right. I will be exhausted after one!)

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(me and my niece after Baystate last year! No, she didn’t have a beer, don’t be silly!)

And finally…THREE IS THE NUMBER OF DAYS I HAVE LEFT!!!! Eeeek!!!!!

How does one fill the time in the last week of taper?

What does one do to fill the time during taper? I have NEVER, EVER enjoyed taper time. I am a part of the club who’s motto is: “the more miles, the better”.

However.

I am finding myself to REALLY be enjoying taper this time around. I have so much extra time!!

1.) Reading-I read two books last week! The Storyteller (awesome) and Dear Daughter (took a while to get good, but once it did, I loved it. But the ending-not a huge fan). Today I’m starting the final Unwind book. And I just learned they are making it into a movie…yahooooooo!!!!!!

2.) My best friend got married! This is a good way to distract yourself right before your marathon. Be in a wedding, and I swear you will be having way too much to even think about how many miles you are usually running on a Saturday morning…pinkie promise!

3.) Cross training with strength videos. I’ve been doing a ton of strength videos lately. I love the way I’m ache-y and sore the next day and in a different way than running. Does anybody else love that too???

4.) Just planking like a mo-fo. I’ve been doing 10-15 minutes a day. Ironically, I’ve been catching up on blogs at the same time…it’s weird. I know. Just go with it.

5.) Making plans for myself so that way I don’t accidently go running. Seriously, it’s hard not to run! I try to plan my days ahead of time so that I don’t have much extra time for a run!

6.) sleeping more in the mornings! This is new…less mileage=more sleep=rested runner. Not too shabby.

7. Trying to banish Nancy…you know her right? Negative Nancy? She worries and I’m not really down with her bring in my head!!

8. Crafting!!! that’s right, I’m back into crafting! And I made these gems last night. One for me, and one for my SIL. you might remember that she is running her very first half marathon this Sunday!!! I couldn’t be MORE proud of her than I am right now, so I got the idea to make us these matching bracelets for race day. I keep telling her that she can do hard things (she is a mom of two and also she is a bad ass swimmer) and although we will be running along the same course, but not technically together on Sunday, I made us these so we can think of each other while we are running!!!

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What’s your mantra?
How do you pass the taper time?

Taper Plans & Skirt Sports Winner!

Whether I like it or not-Tapering is great rest for my body, and this time around, my body is ready for it. Taper is something my running partner swears by, and honestly something I am not very good at. I just plain old dislike having to “slow down”. But, I do know, that in coordination with wanting to ROCK a marathon, when it comes time to Taper, LESS is actually MORE.

This is how my next three weeks are going to look:

Week 1: Sept 29th- October 5: I will be doing about 80% of my normal mileage-About 45- 48 miles this week.

Week 2: October 6-October 12: 65-70% of my normal mileage-40-42 miles

Week 3: 25% of normal mileage: 40 miles total, but only 14 of these are miles besides the 26.2 marathon.

What will I focus on over the next few weeks??

Getting more sleep.
I’m not great at this. I’m exhausted 24/7 lately and I NEED to focus on a good night’s sleep Fo-Sho. I aim to be in bed, latest, by 9pm. Or 9:30. Just not past 10!

Drinking a TON of water
I drink a lot of water anyway, but during the weeks prior to a marathon, I go a little crazy on the water and electrolytes. I stocked up on some NUUN over the weekend and have been chugging water like crazy.

Eating WELL but not MORE than necessary
Runger is REAL during high mileage weeks. I eat often, and a lot. A real lot. During taper I take it down a notch. I’m not really one of those people who goes crazy “carb loading” during taper because my body just feels too heavy from foods like pasta and breads. I do make sure to eat even more healthy healthy staples like fruits and veggies and lean proteins,. Sort of the “you are what you eat” motto and when I’m running less I like to remember that my body doesn’t necessarily need the extra calories I was taking in during the 55-60 mile weeks. I know some people who reduce their fiber and up their carb intake…everybody is different. What works for me is more sweet potatoes and salads vs pastas and rice. What works for you is what you should stick to!

Trust my training
I had a crappy week last week. So what? I know how well I have prepared. I know the blood from my sports bras blood sweat and tears (sunscreen in my eyes/discovering chafing in the shower!) that have gone into this training. Don’t be afraid. You can do this. You’ve been working your butt off, and it’s time to enjoy this little break because soon enough, you will be lining up at that starting line, raring to go. Trust that you did the hard work. Don’t think those negative thoughts: when this happens to me, I replace my “I can’t BQ!!” with “Hey, remember those awesome tempos you did on zero sleep? Remember the terrific long runs you had? Remember how you owned the track and were faster than the boys?” Trade the negatives for positives, it’s an instant mood booster!!

I take a look in the rearview mirror at what I have done: Over the course of the last 15 weeks …. I have run 803.9 miles. In between August 9th-September September 27, I have done seven 20-22 Mile runs. Seven. I have never done that many and I am not really sure what brought this beast out this time around. It’s Crazy! Lisa pointed out to me yesterday that she felt like I was running 20 miles every other day and she wasn’t far off because that’s such a short amount of time to do so many. No wonder I’m tired! I log all of my miles in my Runkeeper app and sometimes I like to review them. It’s fun and SO motivating to see the progression I’ve made! I suggest you do the same. Remember all the runs you have rocked, remember how you overcame the bad ones, and visualize yourself crossing that finish line with a BIG HUGE SMILE!!!!

Oh!! The winner of the sweatshirt is……
SANDIE HALL!!!

this is Sandie’s very amazing reason that she is FEARLESS like KV Switzer:

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CONGRATULATIONS Sandie!!!! Send me an email at thegirlwhoraneverywhere@gmail.com and I will tell you how to get your shirt!!!