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!!!!

Hollis Fast 5k

Hi! Remember me??? Don’t worry, I’m still alive and kicking! I’ve done a few races and 5ks lately (Boston to name one of them!) and I haven’t been motivated at all to write any sort of review- or post. I’m sorry. Please forgive me!

But Thursday night,  I raced the Hollis Fast 5k and I thought to myself:”I should really do a blog post on this one because it was really cool.”

Before I tell you about the race, I have to give you a small story: I didn’t run my first 5k until 2014. I have always been a distance runner, and I used to consider 5ks to be “beneath me”. HA. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA. Oh Nicole. So silly. My first 5k was the Hinkley Allen Manchester 5k in July of 2014. My goal was to break 21 minutes. And I did, with a 20:50. After that first 5k I said 3 things:

-I feel like i’m going to puke (I didnt’)
-i hated that
-I want to break 20 minutes.

5k’s are my “scariest” race distance. So how do you get over that “I’m freaking terrified right now” feeling? YOU DO MORE OF THEM. I have never been able to truly find my rhythm in this distance. It’s so short that you really don’t have time to make anything up, and if you’re looking to push it, you’ve got to do it from the very start. It’s truly 3.10 miles of riding the Pain Train. Sometimes I crash and burn, and sometimes I feel good the whole race only to realize later that the only reason that I felt good is because I didn’t push it enough.

In 2015, I set a new PR at the same 4th of July race that I did in 2014. New PR: 20:07. On my bday this year, (May 1st) I ran a 5k in town (because why NOT run a race on your birthday??). It wasn’t a chip timed race and I ran a 20:17. However, when I uploaded my Garmin later and reviewed the splits, my watch said a ran a 20:05. If I hadn’t run 16 miles the day before, I KNOW I would have PR’d by more than only 2 seconds!

So I was heading into the Hollis Fast 5k with the knowledge that I was GOING TO PR. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind. My mental game was STRONG.

 

The Pre Race Stuff Logistics:
The Hollis Fast 5k was one of the best races I’ve ever run in my life. There are so many good things to say about it that I’m afraid I’ll forget a few! It was extremely well organized and a closed course- I LOVE THE CLOSED COURSE.Runners had the option of picking up your bib at a local running store, or on site the day of. Since I like running stores, and since I like this particular running store (Fleet Feet), I opted to pick up my bib ahead of time. (bonus to Fleet Feet for including a 20% off coupon on the back of the runners’ bibs!) 

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OH. I haven’t mentioned the course and elevation profile yet, have I? Well take a look at the elevation profile….

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AMAZING. Now you can see why I was so excited, right??? The race drops 224 feet over the 3.1 miles and it is a point to point course. You are basically running on one road for the whole race-there is one turn. I loved that. Compared to some races (like the Good times race series) that are filled with a TON of twists -it was really refreshing to run this course!!!

A lot of runners commented on the IG post that I wrote about this elevation profile and how it looked like a race to blow your quads. It really wasnt though…The downhill is very slight, and I found it easy and not very steep. So instead of feeling like you could be falling down the hills because your pace feels out of control, it is more of a manageable decline.

The Race email suggested that runners arrive early: to the 6:30 start: This is a 5k that 1400 people registered for…holy smokes that’s a lot of peeps for a 5k! I knew it would be busy, so I listened and got to my parking lot by 5:15. Runners were bussed to the starting line (that is something new-to-me for a 5k!)

The weather was PERFECTION for race day: I was in a skirt and tank, and wore a sweatshirt to the start because I was a little chilly. There was a slight breeze and for the first time EVER, I didn’t actually mind the wind because it was a freaking TAILWIND that blew us down the course!!!!! I have done so many races where I’ve been too hot, too cold, it was too windy, etc…All The Stars aligned and the Running Gods were smiling down on me!!!!

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Once I arrived at the race start, I hit the porta potty, took my GU, and just waited around a little bit. I didn’t run into any trouble with lines, and I saw several porta potties-and still never really noticed a line at any of them. So either people used their own bathrooms at home, or lines moved fairly quickly! It suddenly occurred to me about 15 minutes from go time that I forgot to:

a.) warmup
b.) make a playlist.

Are you kidding me??? I’m chalking this up to the fact that my brain was centered around a new 19:xx PR!

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Stuck this penny made by one of my besties in my little zippered pocket. It can’t hurt to have luck on your side, right???

After a 3/4 minute jog around the school lot, I checked my sweatshirt with the gear bus, and went to line up out front. I spotted the lovely Run Far Girl and went into total fangirl mode. I had to say hi to her because I love her IG, her merchandise, and her positive attitude that she always displays! Plus I love reading all of her mom posts! It was so nice to meet her!

 

THE RACE.
Before I knew it, I was off! I didn’t want to look at my watch unless I felt my pace was slipping. I always go out too fast in 5ks and I didn’t want to make that mistake this time. I also wanted to go by perceived effort. I kept the pace pretty even and I reminded myself that this was MY RACE. For once, I didn’t care about placing or winning or any other crap like that. I didn’t care if anyone passed me or passing people: I was solely focused on A NEW PR.

The first mile felt good, a little painful as most 5ks feel to me. I got out of my own head and beat the Negative Nancy’s way down. I had no idea of the pace I was keeping, I focused on even effort, breathing, and letting Rihanna and Calvin Harris sing to me. First mile clicked in 6:18!

2nd mile: I knew that, in order get a PR of 19:50-19:55, I would need to keep the pace under 6:30. I kept saying to myself “just keep it under 6:30, you can do this.” I felt really good and snuck a peek at my watch…6:11! YOWZA. I tried to just keep this pace which made me realllly happy! I started to pass people, mentally high fiving them in my head. I don’t know about you, but I can’t get out a single word when I’m running a 5k!!! I tried to focus on the race report that I read and remembered that the writer said when there were flat areas, he would tell himself to just keep this pace for a little while longer and it would start to go downhill again. The 2nd mile was by far my favorite mile: there was a really pretty field, and this was the mile that I felt the best in. My watch clicked in 6:06—> I actually couldn’t tell this because there was an instagram notification blocking half of my screen. (Note to self to turn off notifications when I’m in a race!)

3rd mile: I shall refer to this mile as the death march mile. Gahhhhhh. It was terrible. I wanted to cry. Everything hurt! Where I was able to speed up considerably in the 2nd mile, by the 3rd my whole body was like “Betch please, we’ve had ENOUGH!” The best part of the 3rd mile is that there are signs when you have 1 mile to go, .75, .50, .25…that was a freaking godsend!!!!!!! I kept saying to myself “JUST MAKE IT TO THE NEXT SIGN.” I saw my pace slip from 6:12 alll the way up to 6:25. I ended up running the 3rd mile in 6:32. (I know, i know, it’s not a bad pace, but it wasn’t the great paces I held in the first 2 miles!) 

I spied the finish line and I was sooooo happy!!! I went through under the clock reading that it was 19:47!!!!!!!! I was so happy and crossed with the BIGGEST SMILE on my face! I stopped, crouched on the ground, and kissed the asphalt (YUP, I was that crazy girl…) because I couldn’t believe the new PR that I had wanted for SO LONG was all MINE!!!!!!!

Official Gun Time: 19:45 🙂 🙂 :). I was the 23rd female. To place in the top 25 for this race is really darn good!

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Here I am crossing the finish line with a big fat smile. And as you can see, I really did kneel down and say a little prayer of thanks!

So lets talk about some of the things that went right:
-Number pickup the day before was really quick and easy, and so was the parking day of. I was pretty close to the finish line, so I was able to jog the mile-ish back to my car post race.

-The weather. OMG I loved it.

-My attitude. Going into a race with an attitude that you are going to PR is HUGE. The power of positivity is a real thing. The only way I can describe how I felt all day is to say this: I felt like I was standing on the ledge of a cliff and about to fall into something GREAT. The nerves were excitement, not stress nerves. It was a really great thing to feel.

-I was my own cheerleader. I backed, no PUSHED myself out of the dark corners of my mind, and I was yelling at myself that I knew I could do it, and I knew I could be better than what I was.

-The Course. While I did certainly love that it was a downhill course, I feel that I have learned how to really push myself towards new PR’s. I think the course was just a minor thing and that me giving it my best was the real winner.

What went wrong….
Too often runners (myself INCLUDED!!) focus on what went wrong during a race. The only thing that I think slowed me down was the fact that I’ve been doing a lot of BBG lately and even though I skipped leg day for the week, there are still plenty of burpees and squats in the other days that left my legs sore. But, I really love BBG and wasn’t willing to skip the whole week!!!

This race showed me that I should be shooting for a sub 19:30 time: If I had stayed at my average combined pace for my first 2 miles, I would have wound up with a 19:15 -19:20 5k time. Now I know what to shoot for next!!! I loved this course, and I love running downhill. I think the downhill course helped me get the PR, but I also think that my positive attitude made me kill this race and I feel very good about duplicating this effort on a regular course!

Thanks for reading!

Ever had a race day where EVERYTHING went right for you?? (it is MAGICAL when this happens!)

Just a couple tips on getting a 5k PR

By no means do I think I’m an expert at the 5k. However, I’m pretty proud of myself for that 43 second PR that I had Friday night & I’ve had a few people ask HOW I did it, so I wanted to share a couple of things with you. 

Being that a 5k is only 3.1 miles-it doesn’t seem very fair that it can truly be the hardest PR to break. When you really sit down to think about it, it makes sense. It’s really easy to have the idea in your mind that you’re going to just “book it” the whole entire time until you get to the finish line. In reality-booking it for those 3.1 little miles isn’t all that easy. I truly would rather run a marathon than a 5k. It’s just so damn hard because you’re going so fast! Whether your “fast” is a sub 6 minute mile, or a sub 10 minute mile-the effort level is the same. It’s a challenge! Plus you have less time to make up for the seconds/minutes you lose from things like fiddling with your music, or going up a killer hill, or whatever else is slowing you down. 

These are some of the things that helped me to get a PR!

1. Be diligent with your speed work and do the hard work. I’m really good at keeping up with regular track work and tempo runs. I’m getting more comfortable at holding those uncomfortable paces. I know that improvements in my speedwork carryover into every aspect of my running. Do weekly speed work and you will see improvements, too.

2. Knowing the course. This helped tremendously. I ran this race last year and I remembered every single thing about that route, including the fact that the last mile is completely downhill. I knew exactly what I was getting myself into and set my sights on this race to break my 5k pr. 

3. Know your strengths & your weaknesses. I love this 5k course because the last mile is 100% downhill! I excel at coasting downhill! Some people take it easy going downhill, but I tend to go all out on them. I knew when I hit mile 3 that it was time to push it because I was almost there, dammit! It also helps to know your weaknesses:if you hate hills and running in direct sunlight, don’t pick a course chock full of hills that starts at 10:00 when it’s just beginning to be ridic hot outside. Everybody’s different& you’ve got to pick a race that feels right for you. 

4. Focus. I tried very hard to stay “in” the mile I was in. It’s not easy to do, especially if you’re doing a “booking it” pace. I swore, almost cried, and wanted to quit a billion times. I kept myself going though and tried to think ONLY about very small victories-like making it past the people who were handing out water. It was some really fast baby steps to get me the 3.1 miles, let me tell you! 

5. Mantra’s & Music: Two things that helped me tremendously! I kept repeating the word “PR” over and over in my brain. I still wanted to throw in the towel. But, before I could quit, I told myself that “I CAN DO HARD THINGS.” This kept me going! 

Music also saved me. I was so freaking tired by the time that mile 3 hit. I think I was halfway through it and about to cry when “Eye of the Tiger” came over my headphones! Talk about a stroke of luck! I couldn’t quit-I was running with Rocky for gosh sakes!

6. Not placing a whole lot of pressure on myself. I wanted to do well, & I wanted to PR. But if I didn’t-I knew that I was at least running a race with my friend, and that was a pretty great thing. I was 100% okay with not hitting a pr. It just so happens that I did get one, but I really removed the pressure from myself and just rolled with it. Above all-I wanted to have fun! I don’t know if this attitude helped me get it, but I would like to think that it did! 

I hope these little tips help you, and feel free to share some of your own tips that have helped you better your 5k time!

I did it!

I can’t believe I’m writing this sentence: 

Last night, I broke my 5k PR by 43 seconds! My new PR is 20:07!!!!! 

   Wearing the same outfit as last year for the same 5k..only I added the 4th of July socks! (I bought those last year for the same race and they didn’t arrive until July 5th)

7th woman out of 464, 26th finisher, 2nd in AG!

I’m also giving a big fat shout out to my friend M! (We are twinning here, and we did last year, too…good times& it’s really easy to find someone who’s dressed identically to you!!) You might remember me telling you that M was out of the running game for a while because she had a baby. We ran our first post baby 5k together at the beginning of June. Last night, she smashed that June time by 2 minutes!!! I’m so proud of her!  Twinning!

Thanks everyone for sending me those speedy thoughts! I think that & the gorgeous weather and very low humidity helped me get this very crazy awesome PR! I’m so close to breaking 20–I can smell it!! 

Happy 4th of July, everyone. Today I get to celebrate America’s birthday with my family, I hope the same for you! Thank you to all who have served and fought for America’s Independence!    

 

Lessons from a Garmin-less run & a PR!

Friday I got up at 5:30 to meet my running partner for a run. It had been nearly TWO WEEKS since we were able to run together and we were wayyyyyy overdue! I put on my Garmin as I got dressed and I realized it was stuck on this screen:

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It wouldn’t budge. I thought (irrationally) that it was dead forever, and 5:30 AM, I wanted to somehow magically Harry-Potter myself the latest and greatest Garmin 620 to have by the time I left for my run at 6:00. After hyperventilating a little, I dialed down the anger crazy, I told myself “Self, it IS okay to run Garmin free, you know. You KNOW you should try it every once in a while.” So off I went for my 6.71 miler with my running partner…and it was weird not having a watch. We both had planned on taking it easy-this was our last run before Sunday’s Yukan Triple Threat Half Marathon, so the name of the game was E-A-S-Y paces. I was surprised when she told me our splits-all low 8s. I thought I was sucking on my paces and my body kept saying I was going toooooo slow. I was really happy to know how well we had done! Our overall run was 57ish minutes at an 8:34 pace. We were having FULL conversations during the run, and it felt soooooo easy. It was a dual runners high afterwards from knowing how well we’d done with zero effort!

I got home from that run and fixed my Garmin by updating software on it. (I have the Garmin 610-this is the very first issue I’ve had with it, and I’ve had it 7 months.) I made the decision right then that I would not look at my splits on Sundays half. My half marathon PR of a 1:43:01 (seriously:2 seconds off a 1:42 time? Does that annoy anyone except for me??) was done Garmin-free because I didn’t yet even own one. I told Kristina this and in my brain, I knew I would stick to it because it worked insanely well for me to not look at my splits for my most recent 5k and 5miler.

SUNDAY’S RACE.
The Yukan Triple Threat offered a 1 mile race-5k race-and -the Half option. Runners could choose to do all three, or just one. Or two? (I actually am 100% making that up & I have NO IDEA if you could do only 2, but it sounds like a lovely option) The race directors staggered the races as follows:
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So…Let’s talk race day. The weather was sooooooo perfect for any race you planned on doing…overcast….light rain…no sun…AMAZING.

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(this is actually the coolest summer I can remember in a long, long, time. Or..ever?)

We left nice and early and got to the parking lot by 8:30…1:45 before our 10:15AM race start. We tried to park in the high school parking lots but they were 100% full. We didn’t even understand how they were already full, BUT..We truly weren’t even thinking of the fact that it was because the 1 mile race started at 9:00…Our only instructions that we received said to “be there by 8:45” to avoid road closures. We decided to park in the “park&ride”.

It was probably..3? 4? Miles from the start, and ended up being so easy to take the shuttle. There seemed to be a constant flow of shuttles taking runners to and from the start, and the driver informed us that the service would be running through 3pm . We arrived in enough time to see the 1 mile race officially starting. We got our bibs, and watched them finish… Leading man: 5:29, lead woman: 6:38. It’s a testament to the hilly course was I guess? We had to wait until 10:15 to start our half so we meandered around and checked out the finish line stuff…they had a TON of post race goodies and it really got us excited to finish! Our race bags were also loaded with things like sunscreen samples, deodorant (that looked like body glide…and I may have accidentally rubbed it all over me before realizing it was actually NOT glide…at least I smelled good!!!!)
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While we sat there waiting, it occurred to me that I actually wished I had registered for all three races-it never occurred to me back in March or April when I signed up for it to do the three-it was an absolutely perfect running day, and if I was running at home, I would’ve been doing an 18-20 miler anyway. We had fun deciding which race we would “race” out of the three. All scenarios were fun debating over for us cray runners!

It takes a special team of people to execute three races within such a limited timeframe-I have to say-it was insanely well done. While we waited for our race to start, we never had crazy lines for the porta potties, or felt smothered because there were so many people. The shuttles even let family members ride on them so runners’ loved ones could see them start!
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Smiling at the start!

The race started right on time. That is extremely important to me. (It is a sign of some great organizational skills when it starts in a timely fashion.) We were somewhere in the middle of the crowd of over 700 runners. My one regret is that we didn’t line up closer to the start because that messed with my time. True to my word, I did NOT look at my Garmin as we hit the splits. All I listened to was Kristina telling me “too fast” for our first mile (it was 7:12). After that, anytime she checked her watch-I trusted that she would’ve told me if we needed to speed up/slow down.

Right away, runners were treated to INSANELY gorgeous views, I wanted to pull my phone outta my Camelbak and snap away, it was so gorgeous. It was an out and back course. And we knew going into it that it was going to be hilly..but this is the elevation so you can see for yourself:

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HOOOOLLLLYYYYY HILLS. In April, I ran the Great Bay Half Marathon, and although that was hilly…I think this was even more so-or at least equal to it. I thought I was going to dislike the out-and-back course style. I thought it would be a constant mind game because I would be always thinking about how I ran down one hill and how I would have to run back up it on the way back. Those thoughts hardly ever crossed my brain!

Instead, some really cool things happened:
-at the loop where runners forked to start the turn around-the lead men and women began to pass us.. We were the first to see the lead woman come out of the chute and we got to yell “FIRST” to her-and saw her face light up with the biggest smile!
-at the end of our chute, as we passed the runners who were a few miles behind us, it was so encouraging to see all those smiling faces as they gave it their all! Ya’ll have no idea how much encouragement you gave me, really.

The only strange part of the course was along mile 4(And repeated again at 11) where you have to run through a rocky sandy section..it slowed me down a bit, but it was so short it didn’t matter too much. And I guess, really, that it is actually completely vindicated since you are running along a breathtaking seacoast. So, maybe I take that back a little. 😉 Also-as I was passing the runners, opposite to me, who were a few miles back, I couldn’t help but think how congested it was for them-the road was open and I didn’t see a lot of traffic directing-If I had been one of those runners, I think it would’ve intimidated me to see all those cars as I bumped elbows with runners all around me.

Kristina and I split at mile 6-she needed to hit the water stop, and she told me to keep going. I had my camelbak, and although I did get chafed from it-I didn’t even care about that because I had no reason to stop. This helped a ridiculously huge amount. Water stops slow me down, and I have zero coordination with taking the cup as I run while trying to get the water into my mouth. It always winds up right up my nose and I’m gasping because I’ve just snorted a water shot.

The run went by insanely fast: Not looking at my watch was working. At one point I just felt that I was going to get a PR. Instead of the negative thoughts that plagued me at my last half “I’m so tired”, “My legs hurt”, and “When is this going to be over?” I was thinking “I love running. I think I could really go faster right now! I was Suzy Sunshine of the Triple Threat Half, I kid you not.

I busted my butt up the last hill and that was when I saw the 13 mile mark. Not knowing what my time was going to be was so exciting!! When I came up to the clock-I couldn’t believe it! A course incredibly full of really tough hills-and I had pulled a 1:41!!!!! A new PR!!:)
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I mean..YES, I had wanted a 1:35-1:37-but the course was one heck of a monster. There were no net times-that is frustrating and I’m not sure why they don’t release both? Since I was in the middle of the pack, I know it took anywhere from 10 or more seconds to actually start-I think my time, upon crossing the start, was about a 1:40:58-1:41:00 honestly.

Kristina crossed just a couple minutes later with a 1:43! She did sooo awesome and is just coming back to racing hard after being injured all summer. It’s a testament to how fast she is because she has a PR of a 1:34 half-she pulled this race off with a twingey knee and hadn’t even signed up for it til Wednesday-how’s that for awesome??

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Lots of smile cause we are DONE!!!

We hit the post race goodies hard.. Zirco coconut water, some pretzel Greek yogurt combo snack, bananas, granola bars, beef jerky, protein shakes, soo much stuff!! I could barely carry my bag onto the shuttle because it was so heavy!

I would not hesitate to sign up for this race again- I liked everything about it-from it’s organization, to it’s pre/post race stuff, to the views on the challenging course. My last half just felt disorganized compared to this one. I really would love to do all three races next time, but I don’t know which race I would officially try to “race”, or if I would do all three as a training run (that doesn’t seem as fun somehow!)

We weren’t even home for more than an hour and we were already planning our next week of running and figuring out our next half.
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Preferably something more flat!

I know I have a 1:3x half in these legs. I’m over the moon that I scored a new PR because I have wanted to for so long. I knew I could break my PR of 1:43. It took lots of hard work and effort but most of all, determination. I can’t stress it enough when I say that you’ve got to believe in yourself to make your own dreams come true.

Xoxo! Run Free, Run Strong, Be Your Best Self!

Anybody else race this weekend?
Anybody run Triple Threat Half before? (AND possibly Great Bay? Let’s compare!)

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Hyannis Recap, I have the bestest besties ever, and a new PR!!!

I would have gotten this up here last night, but I like to take my time with race recaps. After all, a whole bunch of people took the time to plan it, and I took the time to register and train for it. You got give credit where it’s due!

So. Lets start this post out by letting you all know that I have two of the BEST FRIENDS that a gal could EVER ask for. EVER. (sidenote:just so you know-I have MANY more friends than these two, Who are also just as amazing. If you are one of the others out there reading this..HI! Xoxo)

My two friends that came with me are my Wifey and my BFF.
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Everytime I go away for a night with my friends, I come home FUNNIER than I left. Our car rides and trips are SO RANDOM, there is never a conversational topic that is off the table, and we Always give each other great advice. Also-music plays a HUGE part in our vacations. As BFF would say, “I love that everytime we go away together, there is one song that we listen to endlessly, over and over, and everytime we hear that song it brings us back to that moment in time” —->I love that about us. Our girls trips, over the years, can really be summed up by SONGS-whether it’s “We’re the 3 best friends that anyone ever had” (yes,from the HANGOVER), or “Call me Maybe”… These songs bring me back to these fun, hilarious moments that are frozen in time! Thanks again girls for taking the time out of your busy lives to come with me! I Love you!I am truly blessed and eternally grateful to have these gals in my life.

So. Saturday began with our 3 hour road trip to the cape. (Stupid road construction on the bridge). Ughhhh.

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(The bridge..so close but so far away)

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(I hope you’re singing “cause we’re the 3 best friends that anyone ever had” in your heads right now)

We picked up my number, and finally checked into the hotel (Hyannis Travel Inn). We were SUPER starving, so we decided to head to British Beer Company for food. It was only a 4 minute walk, but since we are so cool I was lazy-we drove. (hey I ran a marathon today-four minutes COUNTS. and it was WINDY.
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Food. It was AMAZING. there is one by us in Westford, MA, and we always love it there. We went big…apps(buffalo chicken dip), meals(BBQ chicken pizza) and a brownie sundae. WOLF. (Sorry-no pics, I was way too busy inhaling the food)

I tried to tell my fun friends to go out and rip up the town, but after ALL THAT FOOD….we rolled our big bad selves back to the hotel…I don’t even WANT to disclose what time we were in Jammie’s by, but it’s only fair to be honest…6:45. Yeah. Granny called…she wants her slippers back..

But since we always have so much fun together- it led to many many games of “kill,marry,screw”, and “would you rather”(a funny game where you have to pick two impossible things and choose between the two-Example:would you rather be on pregnancy related bed rest for 9 months or run a marathon) So, millions of laughs were had and my abs hurt when I woke up because my friends are SO FUNNY.

Now some pre-marathon related things.
A few fun facts for you:
-in an attempt to keep my mind of running and that I was tapering..I did yoga on Friday. I learned that I like running Wayyyyyy better than yoga
-I woke sore on Saturday, from yoga. Yoga.
Perhaps… I underestimated yoga. (Dam yoga)
-I had bad sleeps on Thursday and Friday, and extremely little sleep Saturday. (Saturdays good night sleep was stolen by my hotel. It was a little yucky and was VERY COLD.
-I cannot sleep without a fan. Ever. Our hotel didn’t have working fans.
-the hotel was dirty and we were unsure if the sheets were changed after later finding a sticker under the covers. (ps..DONT STAY THERE.)

Sunday
…dawned an absolutely GORGEOUS running day. I told the girls “weather like this is like runners porn.” For real-mid forties at the start, very little wind? YES PLEASE.

I was a little cranky with myself that I hadn’t slept. And weirdly-the top of my left foot hurt. (from YOGA!!!!!) I wasn’t feeling “my best self”. But the show goes on and I doubt Hyannis wanted to postpone so I could get a catnap in?? Yes, I think not.

Some pre-marathon foods (don’t worry I had real stuff too)

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(Starburst jelly beans are actually the best pre run food/jelly beans-no you are not Actually allowed to disagree with me-and I love pb!)

Now, you all know I adore the Boston Marathon. My blood runs purely full of Gold and Blue Unicorns. My heart beats to the tone of runners footsteps on the hills. But…there is something to be said for local, smaller, marathons. It started at 10:00 and the girls and I left the hotel at 9:45. And I was there by 9:48. It was so freaking easy. Everything about the starting line was easy, easy, easy.

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One of the best things about the start of a marathon is the national anthem… I ALWAYS take my headphones off and fully listen..it is one of the most beautiful things and always makes me tear up.

On your marks, get set, GO!!!
I started soooo strong. On fire! By mile 5, I realized I needed to tone it down a bit…I was going so fast that I knew I would burn out by the end. My splits for the first 5 miles:8:09, 7:40, 7:35, 7:30, 7:20..I mean who doesn’t love negative splits?!? I slowed it down a bit-The rest of the first 13.1 were in the low 8 range.

Because I’m not altogether sure where to put these, I will put my housekeeping facts on Hyannis smack in the middle of this post.
-a small fact: Hyannis Marathon: there were about 3,000 half marathoners….and only 351 marathoners.
-number pickup was seamless. Thanks Hyannis!
-I wish the mile markers were more clear. They were extremely low to the ground and not really within eye sight.
-I like smaller races-but the way the crowds thinned out for the marathon at the double loop mark was crazy-I wish it was either fully separate from the half, or that they would allow more than 400 places for the full. Those are my only complaints!

I have to say that I really wasn’t feeling it today… at all. my foot was sore, I was sleepy and the thought crossed my mind that I wanted to stop at the half. (I know.) Its just too tempting when it’s a double loop course to just take the shorter fork.

Sometimes, you have to re-focus and remember what you have brought to the table. Great training, hard work, and super effort. That thought dawned on me by mile 13-and I was ready to BRING IT ON.

By the time the course split (for the full) I was REALLY shocked at how few people were still on it. I have never once run a course that wasn’t packed with other marathoners, so it felt…awkward. There was noticeable space between each runner. But I did what I do best during competition….pass one person at a time. Now, please don’t think I am being mean…I have to focus this way in order to improve my speed. After each person I passed,I re-adjusted my speed so that I was a schooch faster than I was before, therefore, I was always comfortable with my new speed. I knew I had been slower than I wanted so far, but I was on pace to do at least 3:38.

Enter:The Rudest Runner That Ever Ran
I was doing negative 7 mile splits for 13-18. There was this one woman who I had passed earlier who would not stop trying to pass me. I freely admit-I used her as fuel to get faster…but a few times, I heard her saying LOUD THINGS as I was speeding up, but my headphones drowned her out.(and why would I think she was being mean? Runners arent mean!) However, at mile 18-as my headphone kept falling off and she tried to pass me…I heard her say “What the F*** is your problem” to which I replied “‘why are you SO RUDE???” She then said I was trying to “block her” and cussed some more at me.

Honestly, we were running on wide, UN-CROWDED roads. She could have gone around me-on either side..we weren’t in a crowd, trust me. I was furious with her bad-ttitude and crass language. At this point-I didn’t want her negative energy around me, and I didn’t care that she went by. Let me be clear-if we weren’t running a marathon-I WOULD HAVE thrown down with her right there, on the street. BUT. that’s not what it’s about. Friendly competition and peace are the name of the game for marathoners.

My heart hurt a little after that. When I was not a “faster runner”, people would always ALWAYS encourage me saying wonderful things like “you got this!”, “you’re almost there!” In turn, I have learned to be that encouraging person..today alone I told so many women how I liked various pieces of their outfits, and congratulated countess other runners on an awesome run. I have NEVER met a rude runner. And it made me sad. One part of me wanted to speed up and pass her, but let’s face it….I was already going on adrenaline fumes, and I let my bubble be burst. #lessonslearned

I slowed way down to low 9 minute miles after that..things were HURTING-like my Calves and oddly, lower back, and even my toes of my swollen foot (I blame all this on yoga!) I ended up pulling off a PR still at 3:45 and being the 10th woman in my age group. I shouldn’t be TOO mad. I know I am harder on myself than anyone else. A few wise friends have said to me today:

Save it for Boston! An early bday gift!
-Marli

There are always more 26.2’s
-Raquel

AND THEY ARE RIGHT. lessons learned, and I can move on. Maybe no yoga next time? (and all jokes aside-YES, I KNOW, I shouldn’t have done the yoga!) Maybe I need to bring a fan everywhere I go so I can sleep? Maybe I give the people’s elbow to rude people runners? Maybe all these things!

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The finish line was great and the 99 provided an awesome post run soup! It really was a wonderful treat! I know there was lots of other foods too, but truly we wanted to get outta there ASAP so we wouldnt hit terrible bridge traffic on the way back.

I would do this marathon again-however I’m not sure I would do it of I was a slower runner-I think if I was out on the course solo-I would have gotten lost. The mile markers aren’t 100% clear-and the trickle of people would make it hard to “follow the crowd” and know where others are heading . I would abso-freaking-lutely recommend then half for any level of running- there are so many runners, it’s impossible to get lost! Also-props to the volunteers-you were awesome!

(I would also like to thank Shakira, Bruno, Maroon 5, black eyed peas, Eric Church, my girl Katy perry and a few others for guest starring in my run today. Ya’ll sang your hearts out and kept my feet moving!)

Overall-a great weekend with my amazing friends. Life is too precious and short not to embrace your best moments. I know this one was one of mine.

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Who doesn’t want RG at the finish line?! Haha!!–>they are sooo funny..I won’t even disclose the full story on this yet because I will have a surprise guest blog post for you soon from these fabulous ladies!!)

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(isn’t my medal pretty!)

Even when things hurt, there are lessons to be learned. I did not hit my goal time. It is not always “my day”. And hey, I DID PR with a 3:45. So it ain’t all bad. 😉 There are always more 26.2s for me to PR in!

RUN FREE, RUN STRONG!

DISCLAIMER: all opinions are my own. I was not provided a free race entry or compensation in exchange for this recap.

I am pooped! A PR! (But not what I wanted!)

Thank you SO MUCH for all the amazing well wishes and awesome words!
I just sat collapsed down on my couch and am truly about to pass OUT! But I couldn’t not do at least a small recap of today!

Official time:

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3:45…10th woman in my division, and 126/351.
Definitely NOT what I wanted. But. It is a PR. So. I can’t be TOO mad. (You all know I’m mad though!)

I will be back with a race recap ASAP!! The two hour drive has most definitely worn me out, not to mention the miles!
Xoxo for the LOVE!!!

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Smashed my previous record for my 13 mile run tonight….

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…by three full minutes. Onwards and upwards!

I’m going To attribute the best run ever to the fact that I’ve been eating candy corn like its my j-o-b, those delightful Swedish fish, and mostly:to this gorgeous fall weather today.

Of course the first thing I do is sit down and check my splits. I love doing this so that I know the exact areas I need to excel on. I cannot wait to run it again next week. I need to be about ten minutes faster…and honestly? I KNOW it’s possible.

I feel as if the faster i go, the deeper the peace I always find within myself. Runs like this are what keep me pushing harder.They ignite a fire deep inside me….and just when I think I can’t go any faster…I light the match…. 😉

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Disclaimer: Today I did something a little scary and maybe even CRAZY.

Soo I’m a marathoner.
I don’t like 5k’s or 10k’s because i still would have to do more miles when I’m done running the race.
I never sign up for half marathons because I don’t really see it as a challenge since I actually do a 13 miler weekly on top of a long run (I KNOW..but I already gave you the disclaimer: CRAZY)

But this week..my thinking began to change.. And..

Today I registered for a cute little half marathon in Hollis NH. It’s called “The Applefest Half Marathon.” It’s really close to my house, and the course looks really great.. And at the end??

THEY GIVE YOU APPLE CRISP!!! Umm…YES, YES PLEASE!!!

This is not the cray-cray part, though.

I decided that..I think I’m finally at a point where I can say that I’m ready to tell my body to RACE …so I entered this half… and I’m thinking…I have a pretty good shot of placing in at least the top ten…I compared my own numbers to those of the top women..and I’m right up there. Kind of a cool discovery!!!
Am I crazy?or determined? I’ll let you be the judge!!

I plan to give it my ALL! I’m really excited!

So…Nicole’s upcoming races/marathons:

Applefest Half Marathon: Saturday, October 5
Baystate Marathon (full) Sunday, October 20
Boston Marathon– Monday April 21

A girl can dream right?! I definitely have ambition, and I love setting goals for myself. I’m really excited to see where it takes me!:)

Run free..run strong!
Nicole 🙂

Hitting “THE WALL” and a new PR..

20130904-224639.jpg Judging by this posts title-you are probably thinking that it is about two different runs. It is NOT. I have quite the runners high right now so I’m trying to release all these positive thoughts out into the world so that others can feel my excitement! I hope you read this and feel inspired, and THEN my hope is that you pass your inspiration(s) on to someone else…virtually founding, a “pay it forward” running inspiration:) Monday was my sprint day : 4 miles of 400 meters (.25 miles) varying at a pace of 9.5- 10mph with a rest period of 20 seconds between each 400, and a two minute break after the first two miles. Sprint day- not my favorite. But I will tell you this: it works. I took yesterday off from running, so today I was raring to go. Laced up my shoes, tuned my Ipod to my “RunBeeYatchRun” playlist (yes, this IS its name) and headed out. I ran my “Boston prep course” it mimics the Boston downward start, and its notorious hills- both the uphills and the downhills. Its highest hilly elevation is almost 400 feet above sea level. In other words..it is an amazing course for a runner to train for the Boston Marathon. While i was on summer break from teaching, i ran this course at least once a week. Now that school is in session- it will probably be once a week…maybe every other week. (BOO!!) Run recap… Miles 1-2.5: I am awesome! I have the “eye of the tiger” thanks Katy Perry-you are making me the best runner ever. I am invincible. Miles 2.5-3.5: Going up the first hill… BAM!!!!! THE WALL. YUP…only 3 miles in I was ready to throw in the towel. I was actually whining to myself. Awful: “Waahhhhhh…my feet hurt, I’ve been on them all day; I got up at 4:45; I was so busy today why am I out running?! Waaahhhh” ….These just merely scratch the surface of Nicole’s Negativity, and Negative Nicole is Not Nice. I felt like I had low blood sugar. I had visions of Gatorade and shoving Swedish Fish and Starburts in my face. Miles 3.5-13: I’m not positive on what made me finish the run… Promises of sugar and Gatorade at mile 7? Katy Perry on repeat? All I DO know is by the time I hit mile 4 – I was seriously energized and barely felt my feet touching the ground. At one point , I even passed a girl who I see running all the time(she’s really good) ..that was cool. Running is a metaphor for life. It gives back to you whatever you put into it. If you run with your heart, forget your feet..you will be surprised where it takes you. My feet(and body) do one half the work- my mind does the rest. If YOU don’t believe in your runs…who will? Lets be serious..you’re the only one who will feel the letdown, true or false?? Being a runner has changed my outlook on life. I am a stronger, more confident person since I know the power I hold within myself. I love being able to say “I ran 20 miles today” and “hey I set a new PR” and, of course, the coveted “I ran a marathon today” My point: Today I almost gave up. I know it wasn’t an official race or anything, but it was MY run, and I owned it. I bested myself..and set a PR for myself on the same exact run. I’m pretty proud of me. Any motivational stories to share? What’s your toughest course? 20130904-224703.jpg