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!)

Seacoast Running Festival- Northshore Half Marathon Race Recap

I ran this race on 8/23, however I haven’t had any time to finish my recap!

This race was awesome. I always appreciate running a race course in an area that is familiar to me and this did not disappoint. While I didn’t know every twist and turn along the course, I knew where to go, park, and even the secret spots to pee in. #score.

The race started at 7:30, in Salisbury Center. The race website boasts :

Our grand finale will be the Northshore Half Marathon. Weʼve created a beautiful, flat and fast course that will take you through the streets of Salisbury, Rail Trail and portions of our state reservation. Following the race, come back to the Shock Top Beach Bar for a rewarding after party that includes great music and awesome prizes.

This description was right on the money! I’ve run my fair share of races that say “flat and fast” but they are instead, hilly or rolling hills. The course was also very pretty- I love the Salisbury Beach area! There were so many times that I wanted to stop and take a picture!

Runners had a choice of 4 separate events they could run: A 1 mile race, 5k, 10k, and the half. You could do one or all four if you wanted because the other 3 took place on Friday (5k @7pm) or Saturday (10k @8am, 1 mile at 12). After running this race, I thought it would be fun to do ALL FOUR next year (or am I just crazy?!)

I know a lot of people like to read these details so I will include them here, bullet-style:
Alarm: 5:00 am
Ate: Breakfast sandwich of pastrami, egg, tomato, swiss cheese, english muffin.(Pastrami is my newest obsession. Just go with it)
Drank: 1 water
Commute: 40 minutes
Left at: 6:15 (would’ve left earlier but I had a little personal matter to attend to first)
Wore: Skirt Sports Lionness skirt in “Safari” print, a plain blue tank that I purchased from TJ Maxx 150 years ago, Skirts sports Kelly Sports Bra, Reebok “Runderwear“, and my Brooks Ghost 7’s.

I jammed out to some tunes the whole way there and thought about my goals for the race. Most races that I do-I “run” into them with a set goal in mind. I thought about the fact that I was just coming home from a week of being away on vacation. My nutrition was not my typical 19 servings of fruit and veggies a day, and my sleep patterns had been lacking for the whole week (as in-I got hardly any). I made the decision to just head out and have FUN with the race. I didn’t care what time I finished in. I had wanted to do a “longer tempo run”, and a half marathon setting is the most perfect environment to do that in.

I was SO stress free for this race. I didn’t question my outfit, breakfast, shoes…I even grabbed my oldest pair of Ghost’s to run in…And I didn’t grab them until the morning of the race! For a goal race-I typically run in new-ish shoes that have less than 20 miles on them. Stress free probably equalled a better race day for me, which rocks.

I got to the start of the race at about 7:00. I grabbed my number and a few freebies (heating pad and sunglasses!) and headed back to my car real quick to pin the number on. I hit a secret spot to pee- The bathroom house on a side street, and then warmed up for about .50 miles. I had wanted a longer warmup and had originally planned on running 2 miles. With the bathroom stop- I just didn’t have enough time though …and the bathroom stop *NEEDED* to happen.

The race started right on time with the race director wishing everyone good luck & to have a good race: THANK YOU to the police and the race director who made this happen: I hate when starts are delayed, it drives me CRAZY. I feel that runners (or maybe its just me?) like to time everything perfectly, right down to when you take your last bite of food before you race and the time you hit the bathroom. A delayed start wrecks everything and more than once, I have started a race feeling like I could pee AGAIN (nerves!) or randomly get hungry and it drives me nuts.

The weather was PERFECT for a race: raining slightly, but still warm enough that a tank and skirt were fine. There was NO hot sun shining down on me and I love not being overheated in the summertime!!

I fell into 3rd place within the first 2 minutes of the race. I kept that lead and continued to pass people as I went. I held my goal half marathon paces (HMP) for 4 miles, and my goal marathon pace (GMP) for 1 mile. During the 6th mile, a nice man & lady wished me good luck and passed me by. I kept 4th place until mile 11 when 2 other females passed me by. For me, the toughest section of the course was between miles 8-12: You went through a chute but MAN it felt LONG. Heading into it, I had a feeling it was going to be long because the leading man & 2nd place man passed me on their way out of the chute and then I passed NO ONE else. I kept thinking “when will this freaking end?” And then it got super windy, and I let the Waaaaambulance come in and I slipped to an 8 minute mile. 11/12/13 felt really sluggish and slow. I really didn’t care if I got passed or not and Just. Wanted. To. Be. Done. I really think it was the chute that dragged me down. PLUS, the fact that it wasn’t a “goal race” for me-it left me with no pressure to myself at all and I didn’t feel the need to “push it.”

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My final finishing time was a 1:37. This put me in 6th place for the females, and winner of my age group 🙂 I was really happy with this!! I loved the pancake flat course, the perfect weather, and the fact that I was running along the oceanfront…it was great.

There was a beer tent and live music for runners to enjoy post-race. I couldn’t stick around though and the super sweet race director gave me my prize early: a gift card to a running store! SCHWWWEEEEET!!!!

All smiles after the race…and wearing my new free sunglasses that have since become my go to running glasses!!

The reason I had to rush off after the race is because I was heading to my cousin and his wife’s gender reveal party!! He is one of my favorite people on the planet (and his wife is great too!) I was sooooooo excited!!!!!!

And…Its going to be a boy! YAY! There is nothing like a new baby in the family to keep life really fun and exciting!

I will be back at some point this week with a recap of last week’s running!

Ever run a race along a beach?

Does race scenery make a difference to you?

Narragansett Summer Running Festival Half Marathon Race recap

So. About Sunday.
I ran the Narragansett Summer Running Festival Half Marathon. I wasn’t crazy about this race last year. I actually think my blog post said “I HATE THIS RACE.” However…my major complaints of the delayed race start (by a half hour!), having to stop on the roads to allow traffic to pass, and a mid morning start time were all taken care of. They moved the start time to 7:30 am, and re-routed a few of the roads to alleviate police needing to stop runners for traffic. I was a little hesitant that something would happen again with the start time- last year, the race was advertised with a false start time and ended up actually starting a half hour later.

All that aside- There just aren’t a whole lot of races in the month of July at the 13.1 distance. My girlfriend S and I wanted to do a half together in July that we didn’t have to drive 2+ hours to get to and this one was actually the closest to us. It was about an hour away at the beautiful Stonehill College in Easton, MA. (Neither one of us felt like shelling out the extra $$ to venture further and stay overnight in a hotel)

This race also gave runners the option of running the 5k and the 10k. Runner’s could run the shorter distances on Saturday and the half on Sunday. They also did something that I thought was pretty cool- they let the runners pay to stay on campus in the dorm rooms! For those commuting from far away, that seemed like a pretty good option.

S and I have been working really hard all May/June together to hit our goal times. Tempos, 400’s, hills. BAM. We were going to nail it! And we were super excited because the half HAD PACERS. And…not only did they have “pacers”, but they had a 1:30 PACER!! It was planned perfection.

We got to the race really early- About 6:30. We wanted to be able to park, get our shirts, hitthe porta potties…you know the drill, right?
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(Happy smiles before the race!) 

At 7:15 they announced that the start would be delayed a few minutes. And Sunday was hot. The kind of humidity you can feel by 5 am. We were lining up in our corrals and I was sweating already. I had decided to bring the Camelbak because I didn’t know how much the temps were going to spike during the run and I wanted to be prepared. Any minute that it was delayed was putting us into hotter temps; i just wanted to GET GOING. The corrals were pretty well organized. The pacers stood out with their bright shirts and signs, and there were large signs for 6:00/7/8/9/10/11/12 so people could line up accordingly. We found the 1:40 pacer in the front, but no 1:30. Hmmm. We waited a few minutes, then S asked the 1:40 dude if they knew where Mr/Ms 1:30 was at. Mr 1:40 told us that the race never actually had a 1:30 pacer. At that point, I was Suuuuuuper annoyed : We received a BUTT LOAD of emails that clearly stated there would be a 1:30 pacer. S & I had counted on just having to hold someone else’s pace and now we knew we’d have to do it ourselves.

The national anthem was sung by the sweetest young ladies- I forget the name of the group-but they were amazing. I wish I had taken a picture of them because it was awesome! Finally, the race got going at 7:39. S was off like a rocket! I was a little ways behind her, but still felt really good. I felt very confident that I could hit a new PR. Miles 1-6 I was all “everything is awesome!” and “I can do this!”

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I was actually singing Emmett’s song in my damn head, too.

At mile 7 I started to slow. I didn’t think I could hit my goal. The Waaaahmbulance was in full effect. I was hot. there was no shade along the course. Full sun. Full JULY sun. High humidity. Air feeling thick and hard to breathe. I was severely chafing from my Camelbak and I could feel it with every step as the backpack bounced around. Every time I was passing a water station I would take a cup of water and dump it over my head. It helped to cool me down but my neck DID NOT like the water and it probably made the chafing situation worse. Later on, it made for the most painful shower of my entire life.

8-Where is the finish line? Why isn’t it NOW? My “B goal” was going to thrown out, too.

9. Yeah, there are no goals, at all, anymore. I kind of thought that in mile 7, but by 9 I knew that i had to keep chugging along to just freaking finish. I didn’t care that I wasn’t hitting a goal, I just wanted to stop freaking running. Or maybe get run over by a cyclist so that I could stop. (I kid)

10. WHY AM I DOING THIS? I HATE IT. I came up on Shannon and passed her. That was a bad sign that I had slowed so significantly and that my poor friend did too. This was not our day.

Miles 11/12/13.1 took longer than miles 1-10 combined. It included a lap on a track (which was pretty!), and lots of zig zagging along the campus sidewalks. It took so long to get to the finish…which was up a stupid hill. By the time I got there, my jello legs were not happy about a hill. Hills are dumb. Especially at the end of a race. Those hills are real dumb.

I crossed the finish line and was really happy to be freaking DONE. The race also gives you 2 Narragansett beers at the finish line tent, but I passed on that because it was 9:30 am (it felt weird to drink beer that early!) and call me crazy but I didn’t want to drink and drive! Especially after being particularly hot & sweaty…I didn’t want to dehydrate myself even further!

While I waited for my friend to finish, I got this text:

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I had won my AG! So weird. It goes to show you that there is always a silver lining! (Race Wire sends out the texts alerts as soon as you finish your run. The results above don’t disclose the full race finishers. I was the 64/695 overall finisher, 13/380 females, 1/105 AG)

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My poor friend ended up getting really sick from the heat, I felt so bad for her. I’m really glad we were there together. I kept thinking what I would do if I was there solo and I was too sick to get myself home…I would’ve had to call my husband to come and get me & he would also have to bring someone else along to help bring my car back! It made me very thankful that I run the majority of races with friends!

Final thoughts:
-Even if there had been a pacer- I don’t think I could’ve kept the pace on Sunday. It was ridiculously hot and I’m not a fantastic heat/humidity racer. I can’t believe I’m saying this -I would take the wind and rain from the 2015 Boston Marathon over Sunday’s 85-90 temps and air that I can’t breathe. I knew I was ready to hit a 1:30-1:33 time but hot weather racing isn’t easy for me.

-Last year, I ran this race and I was really disappointed with myself. Even though I knew I didn’t do well because of the heat, I was still bummed. This year I was hardly sad AT ALL. I’m really proud of myself for that: It’s very easy to dwell on the bad races, the failed goals, and missed PR’s. I have learned that even the bad races that I don’t meet my goals leave me stronger.  I learn something from every race and move on.  I took a few quiet minutes on Sunday to think about things I liked/disliked about the race, put the memories in a little compartment of my brain, and am moving forwards. Onwards and Upwards, my friends: Never go backwards.

Likes:
-I actually still ended up winning my AG. That’s pretty comical to me! I got a really cute little trophy that I may or may not have carried with me like a security blanket all day Sunday. #youbethejudge

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-I ran with my friend! Our first race of many together!

-My paces weren’t what I wanted, but it ended up being a faster paced long run.

-Race pictures /results were posted immediately. I’ve never run a race that has had the pics out the same day. That was pretty cool! And I love when Race Wire or IResultsLive does the race timing because they are always posted right away.0029568_7668a0be-8432-40e9-a058-b38327c96d85

Dislikes:
-9 minute starting delay

-The fact that I received many emails stating a 1:30 pacer and there wasn’t one. I don’t like false advertising.

-This sounds petty-the water at the finish line was as warm as the 80 degree day. I know it must be hard to chill alot of water..but some coolers or buckets to throw all of those waters in would’ve been a huge thing for a hot runner who needed a bottle of cold, cold water. I’m sure the beers in the beer tent were cool?!

-The mile markers were off. There have been a lot of races that had my splits off and I haven’t run the tangents-but at almost every mile marker, my watch buzzed anywhere from .30-.40 after I passed the mile sign. That’s quite the difference.

-It was hot. I know to expect heat in July. A 7:30 race start is too late. It should have been a 6am start.

I don’t know if I will do this race again. It wasn’t because of the course-I did like the course and all of the adjustments they made. I remembered it being a lot hillier last year. This year, there were a couple of very minor hills, but overall it was fairly flat. Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 11.29.01 AM

The reason that I probably wouldn’t run this one again is because it’s pretty silly to run a race in July. It’s just hard to do. I can do shorter races-but anything beyond a 5k/5 miler is a real challenge in the dead heat of July.

I’m still up in the air for what my next race will be! I have alot in mind but haven’t fully commited (re:registered) for anything besides the Baystate Marathon on October 18th. THAT race is going to be an amazing day, I already know!

Some time later in the week,I’m hoping to nail down a solid post with an update in training for my fall marathon!

Do you like longer races in the heat?
If so, have you hit a PR during one of them?

Last August, I PRd during a hot & hilly half! I was stunned!

Gate City Striders Inaugural Marathon

 Just a little disclaimer: I feel the need to start this recap with the cold hard facts: I ran a marathon on Sunday…but…I did not finish.

Sunday was the Inaugural Gate City Striders Marathon in Nashua New Hampshire. I woke up so excited to run another race! I love new races, and I love races in my ares. A WIN WIN in my book!!! Nashua is only about 20 minutes from my house-Perfection.

Packet pickup was located at Fleet Feet Sports in Nashua, also nearby-only 15 minutes away. I was able to go on Saturday –I love picking up my packet early, but sometimes that isn’t possible due to the race being further away. The swag bag was great! Lots of fun goodies in it and I love that!( I wasn’t one of the earlier registrants, so I didn’t get the Beer Glass or the race T.)

I laid out all my clothes the night before (duh) and went to bed super early…I think 8?

flat Nicole!

I got to the starting area around 7:30am..
I was able to park RIGHT next to the start, and had enough time to use the porta potties beforehand and take a selfie and check out the cool tents lined up.
 So excited to run!

This race was both a full marathon and a relay race: The finish line was actually the central area of the race, and the course is designed as 5 loops that make up a four leaf clover (the first & fifth loop were the same). Runners passed the finish line area and were either swapping off the baton to their next runner, or continuing on (like me) for the full 26.2. (If you are really curious, you can read the great write up on cool runnings about the race). It seemed that every relay group had their own tent set up…pretty cool! This race was a terrific one to spectate at since you would see your runner several times as they went through the finish chute, instead of the usual drive and hope you actually find them deal that typically happens.

I took this before I started-this is the finish line that all runners pass through with every loop. It was lined with people one the race started!!


course design-four leaf clover!

The race started about 10ish minutes later than its 8am start due to a main intersection in the race not being blocked off yet. (It’s a super busy intersection, and I was more than happy to wait until it was completely closed off!) Runners were treated to church bells at 8am sharp-That was seriously beautiful.

As far as my own personal race goes: It’s not really that interesting. I had an off day, and that off day also coincided with a marathon. Go figure! If you would have told me that on Sunday I would wake up, start a marathon, but not finish I would have told you that you were crazy. The first loop (5.4 miles I think?), my splits were great. I should have known it was a bad sign though that when I would see someone with a baton, I would automatically think “oh wow they only have a little longer left.” And then I would wish I only had a little longer left. And then loop 2 my splits dropped from 7:19 to 8:30…and only got worse from there. It was hot by the start- I’m typically in a sweatshirt until I hit mile 2…but i was comfy in a tank and my skirt from the time i stepped out of my car. At race start, it was about 65 and 88% humidity. By the 2nd loop, it was easily above 70, and by the time I hit the 3rd – it was at least 75. I couldn’t stand it! I love running in the heat, but my body is not adjusted to it yet! After a loooong cooooold terrible winter, I’m still adjusting to the warm weather. I was dragging the entire 2nd loop. When my watch clicked 11, I had just passed through the finishers chute and I wanted to call it a day RIGHT then and there. However, the stubborn girl who loves her weekend long runs reared her ugly head, and I slogged through the 3rd. It was like I had sand bags on my legs. I could already feel how badly my sweat was making me chafe! I was REALLY glad that I had my camelbak with me because the water stops were spaced out at every 3 miles (i think) and it wouldn’t have been enough water for me! And, I only had one GU along the whole route- I wasn’t even hungry! So weird.

I really liked the concept of loops! Every time I passed through, I got the energy of the crowds, and the announcer called my name. Thank you Mr Announcer Man! The whole 3rd loop was torture. I was sore all over, hot, whiny, and just plain old miserable. I had no desire to run another 10 miles at the turtle like pace i was holding. No matter WHAT i did, I just could NOT speed up. So annoying!! So i passed the finish line for the 3rd time, got some water, and called it a day. My body just did not want to be running a hot and humid marathon!

Ironically, I truly believe that running Boston a month prior had zero to do with how I felt this past Sunday. I know my body, and my body felt ready all week for a big, really fast marathon. I had a 16 mile long run 2 weeks before this in 2:06, 7:54 pace. . . and that run was a dream and felt so super easy. Sunday was just not a good day. I’m really okay with it, so please don’t think I”m complaining here!

Some facts for you that didn’t fit in:

-The volunteers + police =amazing. I NEVER questioned, even ONCE, where I was supposed to be going. All the volunteers were in these BRIGHT orange shirts- you couldn’t miss them! And I really felt that the police officers were there protecting the runners. I never had to stop to wait as a car went by, and I felt safe the whole day. There were a million orange cones, too, so you clearly knew where you were going!

-The 3rd loop, although slow (for me) was actually my favorite for its scenery. It was through my favorite parts of Mines Falls. I’ve run in that area a ton of times-It’s SO beautiful! The Gate City Striders did an incredible job of marking each individual tree root/uneven spot/rock etc so that the runners wouldn’t fall. (I took two falls the last time I ran the Mines Falls trails!)

-At the beginning of the race, some of the early start runners passed by. The announcer yelled out that there was a woman named Kerrie and she was running her ONE HUNDREDTH MARATHON that day!!! Can you believe it? She is AMAZING! I passed her around mile 14 (?) and had to stop and take a picture with her! You ROCK Kerrie!!!!!!

-I’m not only chafed, i’m covered in WELTS from my sweat. So painful. On my neck (sports bra) legs, back, underarms….. It’s seriously aggravating. I guess the “Summer of Chafe” is upon us again. Boooooo. And I had applied Body glide that morning too, but it didn’t do anything!

-I did a quick change post only-a-17-miler-and-not-a-full-marathon…and went to my favorite nephews 10th birthday!! These two..Be still my heart! They are the best little people I could ask for to be my niece and nephew!

-Above all? I am REALLY excited to race again. I have in mind SO many half marathons, am racing a bunch of 5k’s, and I’m just super excited to get back to higher mileage again. I have a pretty amazing running plan for the summer, and I’m really excited to hit it, and hit it hard!

I would highly recommend this marathon to anyone! I I will absolutely be back again, and next time-I will finish the full..or form a relay team and customize awesome race shirts for us!! Who wants to be on my team???? 🙂

Ever “DNF” a race? (for the record–> I dislike that term and it kills me to use it)

My recap of the 119th Boston Marathon!

What a difference a year can make! I took a look back at my logs for what my goal was for last year’s Boston…I wanted to pull a 3:30. How ironic that it happened this year, and in terrible weather conditions! I like running in the rain…I say it all the time. But, I think after yesterday, it will be a little while before I head to run out on a cold, wet, rainy day.

Boston is a hard day for me (I know its hard for everyone for different reasons, I’m not trying to steal the “hard” from anybody here). Its hard to get up at 5 and not start running until 10. It’s hard to be in a car for an hour and wait for a few more until I start. My body doesn’t like waiting one bit. I find myself getting really stiff and way too in my own head. The waiting game really takes a toll on you!! Last year, I left my house at 5 am and didn’t start until 11:20…that was a LOT of waiting around!!!

This year I fared better-I started at 10:25, and left the house at 6:15. My father in law ( SHOUT TO YOU FIL, you ROCK!) has driven me into the city every year for the past 4 or so years. My husband used to take me, but my FIL is a limo driver and knows the ins and outs of the city. My husband DOES NOT, and our day used to start with me crying and getting dropped off far away from the bus I needed to be on and nearly having a panic attack that I wasn’t going to get to Hopkinton. Not exactly my preferred way to start the day…This year, with SIL along for the ride, I felt confident that we could find our way to Hopkinton–>this meant a little extra time to sleep in..that helped A LOT. Last year i got up at 4 am to leave by 5!! AH!!!!! THATS JUST SO EARLY!!!
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I seriously have on about 4 layers in this pic because I was so cold!!20150421-174709-64029815.jpg
We made it to Hopkinton by 7 am..sooo early! I hadn’t planned on being there until 7:45-8, but oh well. We were bused by shuttle from an exit off of 495 to athlete’s village. From there we were able to navigate ourselves to the areas inside that we would be waiting at. It was soooooo hard to leave SIL and I cried when we parted ways!!!

With three hours to kill until I started, there wasn’t much to do..I played on my phone….responded to some well wishes….and watched the starts of the elite women and Wave 1. The time did move quickly (but still not quick enough!)

Suddenly, I found myself in my corral and about to start. It was all really, really surreal. You spend so much time prepping for the race that sometimes the actual race doesn’t feel “real.” At least for me it really didn’t! I was VERY VERY COLD at the beginning of the race. So cold that I didn’t take off my shirt until mile 3, and even then I tied it around my waist because I didn’t want to regret tossing it(but i did by mile 7ish because its wet-ness was annoying me).

I stayed at an extremely conservative pace for the first few miles. The rain didn’t start until maybe mile 4? 5? I began to pick up my speed & I felt really, really strong. I thought I could still PR even with the wind & the driving rain. Every single mile went by SO FAST. I realize that this was my fastest Boston, but still, the way the miles were ticking on by was pretty great. I wasn’t cold until probably mile 17…this was when I also started to slow down a little bit. From a mile to mile standpoint, I really don’t remember a heck of a lot of the race- it’s really weird. I’m going to bullet point some of the things that happened (in no particular order, sorry folks):

  • I took GU at miles 7, 12, and 17. At 17 my hands were so cold that they wouldn’t function very well. I couldn’t even rip the tab to open my GU & had to suck it out of a little bitty hole. I slowly sipped that one until mile 24. I typically will take 4 GU during a race- If I had a 4th GU yesterday, I would have puked.
  • I didn’t do any Gatorade. I didn’t train with it and I never felt like I needed the extra sugar to boost me up so I did just water. I didn’t stop at a single stop. I have to give myself some major credit for not stopping and managing to actually swallow the water (instead of the usual snorting it up my nose) 
  • I treated Boston like I always do-high fived and hugged as many kiddos as possible. After all, I was wearing a Children’s singlet….you’ve gotta represent the shirt in a classy manner! And I love seeing the kids out there. They were incredible!
  • It wasn’t that windy until I hit Heartbreak. Man i got cold on those hills. I wanted a blankie. Or a heater. Or to jump in a hot shower. Cold, Cold, Cold.
  • It helped to be in a faster corral. It helped a lot. My start time was earlier, and I had a lot of people around me running my paces. It was really good.
  • I didn’t stop at all…even though my stomach was rumbling and i FELT like I could GO to the bathroom…I did not. I just wanted to finish and get the hell out of the rain!
  • I will be forever impressed that there were as many spectators out there as there were yesterday. I saw Soooooooooooooo many people that I knew, it was GREAT!!! Special shoutouts to one of my blogging friends that I saw out there : Courtney!! I got to see her & got a high five from her right before I climbed the hills! And I saw my cute coach Lauren at mile 24..that was awesome to see her and hear her screaming my name!!!
  • Heartbreak was not hard at all this year. I’ve never worried about Heartbreak & I’ve always said that it isn’t a hard hill-its positioning in the course is the only difficult thing. I don’t mind hills, but I also don’t seek them out, either. At one point I forgot that I was even on Heartbreak and it wasn’t until I saw the “Heartbreak is over” balloon at BC that i realized it was all done. I do a decent amount of hills in my regular running, so I’m pleased that they were quite simple. The only reason I slowed on the hills was because I was F-R-O-Z-E-N. It was so weird- my skin hurt and it felt like someone was giving me one of those stupid Indian Sunburns that kids used to do when I was little. FREEZING.
  • I never hit a wall. My last Marathon (Baystate 2014) I think I felt defeated pretty quickly…Maybe by Mile 15-16? I never felt that yesterday. YES, I was cold, YES, I was soaking wet on every single part of my body…But I felt really, really good. My spirit never broke. There were times when I wanted it all to just slooooow down because it was flying by all too fast. (but then I would get a reality check in the form of a gust of wind and realize that this ISH needed to END)  I know that I could have pushed it alot harder if I wasn’t also so cold. I’m NOT a cold weather running gal…Give me heat & sunshine any day of the week!! At my last Marathon, I NEEDED my friend Erin to jump in with me and help me finish. Yesterday, I felt really good all by myself. It was weird and awesome to feel that.

Rounding the corner of Hereford and onto Boylston was amazing.  I saw my patient partner’s mom and stopped for a hug…LOVED that. Hugging her was hands down the best part of my day! IMG_6023Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 11.58.11 AM Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 11.58.45 AM

Before I knew it-The whole race was over! It took me a little while to find my friends and by then, I was frozen and visibly shaking. I guess I could’ve gone into the medical tent, but it really didn’t even cross my mind. I knew my girls had a bag of warm, dry clothes for me, fresh compression socks, and new sneakers. OMG. Wet socks are the WORST THING EVER. I changed at the Westin at the Children’s Hospital area…It was lovely to do this! Normally, i don’t change. I just thrown on a sweatshirt & pants and carry on with my day. This year was the first year that I’ve ever been SOOO COLD afterwards that i NEEDED to be out of ALL of my clothes ASAP.

When I turned on my phone post race- I couldn’t believe how many text messages, facebook posts, and emails that i had! I loved the hard core stalking and it was just as fun for me to hear about as i’m sure it was to be doing the stalking!!!

I’m really, really happy with this time. It’s not a PR & its not the goal i wanted/that my coach thought I would hit, but I never walk into Boston without expecting to be knocked down a peg or two from all the things that happen during the day. This was a fantastic “course PR” for me. 48 freaking minutes! (Previous PR- 2013, projected finishing time 4:08.) Pretty great! With the downpouring rain, wind whipping in my face, and being really cold for about 9-10 miles—> I’m pretty darn happy about this.

And, like I said in Tuesdays post : BQ’ing at Boston FOR Boston is pretty freaking amazing! 🙂 One item down off the bucket list! 

One thing is for sure-I felt SOOOO STRONG yesterday that I have zero doubts in my mind on whether I can accomplish a sub 3:10 marathon (and someday, a sub 3:00). I know I have a lot of potential left to tap. If the weather had been better yesterday, I think I would have had a PR day for sure! It was a terrific day and I have zero regrets about anything that happened.

Sadly, I didn’t get to see SIL finish. 😦 I’m still pretty sad about that. I’ll spare you the really long story and just tell you that my original plan was to stay and wait for her to come through. There was a little confusion between my brother in law and I after I finished, and it turns out that I wouldn’t be able to get to the finish line to see her because the finish line areas were all blocked off, and SIL’s family had special bleacher seats that you needed an ID to get into & had passes with their names on them. I would have had to wait in the family meeting area alone (my friends couldn’t stay because one of them was catching a plane this morning to warm, sunny Florida!!!) So i ended up by going home with my girlfriends and stalking her hardcore on the app to see where she was! She is doing FANTASTIC today and I’m SO PROUD of her finish! You can read her recap here…its amazing! In hindsight, its probably a good thing for my body that I didn’t stay. Even in warm dry clothes – I continued to shake until I got into the shower, & woke up with a ridiculously sore throat and head cold Tuesday morning.

Here are some great shots of SIL!!!!

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I said this on my facebook but it is really worth mentioning again too: it takes alot of people to train for a marathon. It isn’t just the runner. It’s my husband who puts up with all of my races and doesn’t blink an eye because he knows it makes his wife happy. It’s my family & friends who go to all of my marathoning stuff so that i feel supported. It’s my friends who are willing to wait outside in the rain for HOURS so that they can see me finish. It my in-laws who drove me & SIL into the start of the race. It’s my MIL who takes the kids for my SIL every year so that she can go into the city to see me finish. It’s the constant support from well wishers on facebook ,twitter, IG & here on this little blog! It’s so, so many people who help you along your journey. And for THAT I’m truly blessed and grateful. It takes a community to train for a marathon, that is for sure. So thank you to all of YOU who are always coming along this big, beautiful journey of mine!

Congratulations to all who completed the 119th running of the Boston Marathon: You did so on an absolutely terrible day! I’m proud of you all!!!

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Mileage from 2/23-3/1 and Stu’s 30k Recap

OMG.
Real life on Monday was in one word sentences:

Hard.

Ouch.

Calves. 

Sore

I started writing at 6:30 am Monday morning. I would also like to tell you that I seem to have that late night voice..you know the one that comes with a really late night out and maybe a long night of celebrating? The only thing is that I was asleep on my couch at 8:30, in bed at 9 and there was no partying. My “sexy voice” was compliments of a 30k race I ran on Sunday.

But lets back up to a little running recap, shall we??

Monday..Off

Tuesday..Off

Wednesday..7 miles, 2×2 mile repeats. 1st set of repeats avg pace 6:48, avg pace for 2nd set: 6:38.

Thursday..Easy run, 9 miles @ 7:56 avg

Friday…Off.

Saturday…11 miles, 7:59 avg pace. I had trouble with this run because I really did not feel safe out on the roads. Drivers were aggressive and I never once felt safe. I wanted to move the run inside and finish on the treadmill but as soon as I hopped on it- brain/legs decided they DID NOT WANT TO RUN ON THE TREADMILL. So that prompted me to register for Stu’s…

Worst. Decision. Ever.

Stu’s 30k Recap

Stu’s 30k is a race in Clinton, MA. This race is known for being hilly. Apparently, Clinton MA is actually also known for its hills? That is a new thing to me–a town actually being known for “hills”. After running this delightfully atrocious course, I know this is most definitely the case.

Let me tell you these things:
-Saturday night, I was up until 12, didn’t eat dinner, and I was on my feet all day/night/week long.
-I also got a crappy night sleep just about every single day last week, including the night before the race.
-I wasn’t “feeling” running last week.

Honestly, I’m not even a little bit disappointed in myself. I’ve run a lot of races where this is the case-when it doesn’t go the way I want, I beat myself up. I didn’t walk into the race thinking “this is my race and I’m going to do really well.”  My attitude was more “I’m shooting for a goal, hopefully I can get it, and if not, I hope I come close.” I wasn’t even going to post a review on this race but alot of people always tell me how they like reading about a crappy training week, or a crappy race day, or even just a crappy run. I get that! It shows that YES, I do have some pretty incredible training weeks where i’m all “I am Super Woman!”, but I’m human just like anybody else, and I’m entitled to a bad race too. Well, Stu’s 30k was my “bad race”! I am going to tell you all the ugly nitty gritty things that happened!

My SIL ran with me on Sunday, along with two other friends Scott & Melissa….Here we are, waiting inside the school for the race to start. It was really nice that they do that- It was pretty cold outside so I really appreciated it! And we got to use the indoor bathrooms…There were never any long lines, either.

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Look at those faces! They haven’t got a clue what is coming to them!

Runners got an email the night before with all the pre-race info on where to park, times to be there, etc. In this email was also a reminder that HEADPHONES WERE BANNED. This was total, complete sadness to me as I always run with music! I debated on whether to ignore the request, or just go with what the RD wanted. (((SIGH))) Sometimes its a real pain in the ass that I follow the rules…

The race started almost 5 minutes late. That is annoying. They kicked the runners out of the gym by 10:45 so….I have no idea of why the start was so far behind?
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Waiting for the race to start and still all smiles!

Imagine running a race all uphill, mixed with a few downhills. I love me a good downhill, and i don’t even mind uphills, I really don’t. I always include sizeable hills in my everyday workouts. But Stu’s? It Was Murderous. They really were “the roads to hell.” There were hardly any areas where you’re running on “flat” roads. I HATED this course, And I can say that I will never do it again. I finished and actually thought “I think childbirth would be easier.”

Anyway, Mile 1: Feelin good! 7:14 pace. I TOTALLY thought I could keep it up for another 17.6 miles. HAHA. I also noticed a ton of people running with headphones on! THOSE RULEBREAKERS! I wanted to trip them! Just kidding, I was only really jealous that they were such rebels!

Mile 2…Wow, alot of people are passing me…its so weird because my pace is still really good. My watch clicked with my 8:05 pace…it was so weird. Usually, holding a 7:30 pace feels easy and its NO SWEAT-8:05 was already a challenge. UH OH.

By Mile 3– I knew it was not going to be my day. My original goal was 2:10. So silly! I stopped caring that people were passing me and just went with it. But I have to tell you that I hate getting passed!

After mile 5-7 -I thought a 2:20 was probably still possible. I started doing mental math and knew that it would be close to that.

By Mile 9, I was hoping for a 2:30.

At Mile 11, I was holding on for dear life and hoping to come out of the race stillALIVE. There were tons of security people on the course–I wanted to do something illegal so they would have a reason to ARREST ME. It was brutal. I just did NOT want to be there one bit. At one point, it crossed my mind to quit but DUH i didn’t know the way back to my car, so…that was out. After mile 1, There was not even one mile that felt easy-all were tough.

Some things I wanted to include:
-I ate a honey stinger waffle before the race…love these little dynamite waffles!
-I brought my camelbak (I’m so sad I can’t use it at Boston!)
-I took honey stinger gel at mile 6.50, and GU at 12, and 16. THANK GOD for the GU at some of the water stops!!!! After this weekend, I know that I personally need to use GU. It works great with my system and truly gives me the energy I need during long runs and racing. I could feel immediate energy right after taking it, it was great!
-the volunteers were terrific… It was a very cold day and everyone was so friendly and wonderful!

Its kind of comical to me how slow I was (for me). Even though I run hilly training runs, I’m always really good at putting the effort in to keep the pace I want. This was sooooo not the case on Sunday. When I hit Mile 13-I got super sad, and kept thinking “I can’t believe I have @#*@(#*@)#@_ MORE MILES…If this was a half Marathon I would be done.” I hit 13 @ 1:49. During my 16 mile long run just the week before-I had hit mile 13 at 1:42. It really was NOT my day, and that’s fine. It just stinks!
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(SIL took this pic while she was running…please note the barefoot weirdo!)

If I hadn’t done 11 miles the day before…or gotten some sleep, or ate a big meal Saturday night…or tapered…Maybe I would have done better? But like I have already said–> I really don’t care. I am always all about redemption and going back to a course that I performed poorly on, and taking it down the second time around–You could not pay me to go back to Clinton, MA and run this again-Once was clearly enough for me to last 27 lifetimes. No thank you. At the end of the day-I know that Boston will be a BREEZE compared to this. Having run 8 of them before-this is really the honest to gods truth. If you are nervous about Boston, and want a training run that will make you realize how EASY Boston really is–Do Stu’s. Otherwise, My wisest advice to you is AVOID IT LIKE THE PLAGUE.

Some positives: After I finished, I went inside the school to wait for SIL to finish. They had hot soups, chips, cookies, donuts…the post race party was pretty great. Everyone I encountered was super friendly! It was so nice to be WARM after I was all done!!!! I really appreciated that!

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As I sat eating my soup, I couldn’t help but listen in on all the conversations around me-ALl anyone was talking about was how the Martha’s Vineyard 20 miler was cancelled, then Hyannis, and lastly Black Cat. It seemed there were a ton of other peeps who are in my shoes as well. SO I’m really sorry to all you other runners out there, too because I’m sure you are as miserable as me! Hyannis is a super duper flat race that I have mastered and didn’t expect to have to register for Stu’s either!

Sil sent me this early this morning: she has a motivational wall in her classroom with all her race things….Stu’s went in the toilet!!! ….I died!!!!!!

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Splits and elevation chart…
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Official time:
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Although, now is the time I tell you that my Garmin clocked 18.9 miles and an 8:38 avg pace.
OK, I am done my complaining and its time to drink some wine… (it’s now 6:30 pm, don’t worry, I’m not drinking with Breakfast!)

45.9 miles for the week, 8:07 avg pace!

Ever done Stu’s? Feelings afterwards? Hatred of hills after it???? 

Mileage, the weekend & a race recap: The Jingle Bell Half Marathon

I had a lot of pretty good runs this past week. Monday, it was really nice out so I ran the track. 1.50 miles w/u, 4 miles of 400s, 1.50 cool down home. 7 miles

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Wednesday- 10 mile progression run, 1:15:08, 7:31 avg

Thursday- 7.10 slow miles-9:08 avg pace

Saturday-Jingle Bell Half Marathon 13.10 miles, 1:37:49

Sunday- 6 miles @ 7:38, 45:50.

43.2 miles total, 7:48 average pace for the week

Saturday I ran the Jingle Bell Half Marathon. It was at the beautiful Atkinson Country Club in Atkinson Hew Hampshire. When I saw that this race was on a Saturday, it was a no brainer for me. I kind of have a thing for Saturday races and totally believe all races should be on Saturdays! I was pretty excited about this race because I was going to be running right by my girlfriend’s house! Our plan was for her to meet me at the finish line to do 4-5 more easy miles to wrap up my long run and then hit the country club for breakfast! Runs with a friend + post run Mimosas? Does it GET any better than that?!?

Overnight on Friday, it snowed a little (it is December so that’s not really a surprise) The race directors were debating all morning whether to move the start to 10am instead of 9 to let the roads clear a little , and, it was supposed to warm up throughout the morning to be a balmy 40 degrees (insert laughter here—but 40 degrees IS actually balmy in December, YUCK), but the race ended up starting only 2 minutes late. A win in my book because I HATE waiting around for the start as it is!!

I had known already that this was going to be a hilly course. I don’t really seek hills out, per say, but I do make sure I have at least one REALLY hilly run a week to keep my legs strong. I had a fantastic start to the race-6 minute miles, and I was in the lead for quite a bit of time. I passed my girlfriend’s house early on and she was out in her yard cheering for me and the other runners along with her two adorable girls who made signs for me! That made my heart swell and I kept that happy thought for a lot of tough miles!

The course varied between both main and back roads. The main roads were mostly clear, however I tried to run outside of all cones because the ground behind the cones was full of slush and snow. The back roads were tricky. I lost a lot of energy trying to keep myself on the best paved part of the road, and I was extremely careful with my footing to avoid going DOWN. This meant smaller, restrained, careful steps at a fast pace. Not the easiest of things to do!

I wore my Skirt Sports Go The Distance Tights, and my Brooks jacket over a long sleeve, lightly lined shirt. I also had on my gloves for half the race, a hat, and compression socks under my tights. I’ve never raced with this many clothes on and I felt a little bulky. I heat up REALLY fast when I’m running, but I’m a big fat baby when I’m standing at starting lines. I was hot by mile 2 and wished I was in shorts, but, halfway through the race, the weather turned from a light, cooling mist into bone chilling raindrops and I was soaked. Brrrr….Winter rain is COLD. Once it started to rain, I was extremely glad that they hadn’t delayed the start of the race until 10 am, AND that I was wearing more clothes than usual!

By Mile 7, the hills started to get tougher and I actually lost my 1st/2nd place lead to the girl who I’m pretty sure ended up winning. Shortly after, I got passed a few more times but managed to hold 5th place all the way until mile 12…then my legs decided they were cold/tired/wet/ and wanted to just be DONE already. I ended up finishing in 9th place, which I guess isn’t that bad out of about 900 runners. I wasn’t sad about my time :1:37… my second fastest half marathon, done on a hard, hilly course on a wintery, frozen-mix kind of day. I hadn’t started off with a single time goal since it was clearly not a PR day- so I had nothing to be disappointed about!

Saturday’s half marathon was my 17th (!!!) race of the year. If I’ve learned one thing from this year of racing, it’s that you glean a lesson from every race you run. From Saturday’s race, I learned I need to work on my “race brain” a little bit more. When I was in the lead, I kept telling myself “it’s cool, you’ve got this, keep it steady!” but really, since it took so long for me to get passed, I think I relaxed a little and let down my guard. I have to keep my brain at constant attention and my adrenaline UP if I want to win races. I am going to focus on doing more “race pace” long run workouts because those help a ton. I also know that I lost speed due to the crappy road conditions…it was CRAZY how snowy/icy/slushy they were and there were times I felt like I was skating a little. It forced me to completely focus 100% of the time on the road so as not to lose my footing!

I was sooo excited to finally be done… I was completely frozen and wet!

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The medal is a cute Christmas tree ornament!

Post-race, the thought of spending one more second outside in the freezing cold sounded like pure torture, so Erin & I skipped the miles and went straight to the mimosas.

After breakfast, I wanted to check my official results, so we went down to the ballroom where they were posted. There was still a pretty lively celebration going on with beer, hot chocolate, and some other good treats. I was pretty excited to see that even though I had slipped considerably -I was still second in my AG!:) (lead formal won with a 1:33)

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i got to pick out an ornament as my prize, too..they had a cute little collection to pick from and I wanted them all!!
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how cute are these ornaments??

I picked this adorable snowman…

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And he looks great on my tree next to my new medal!

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Erin and I at the celebration afterwards!

The last thing that I cannot forget to mention was my favorite part of the race: when I was in the lead— it was really fun/cool/inspiring. I know I just said that I didn’t really CARE about losing the lead, and I really didn’t…but the cool/great/awesome part about being lead girl was passing the spectators: every time I saw a woman, they would SHOUT to me that I was the first woman—that WILL NEVER GET OLD. Every time I heard “first woman!” I LOUDLY&PROUDLY THANKED whomever said it! And, I absolutely LOVED, LOVED, LOVED passing little girls who were cheering runners on from their front lawns, or the track team handing out water- these girls cheered their hearts out! It made me hope that one day they will grow up to be runners who aspire to be great runners, and in turn, inspire all the young girls around them to kick some butt! Hearing their cheers was my favorite part of the day!

Have a great day, everybody!

So THATS why I don’t like trails…huh…

Saturday was such an awesome, day! it was my side of the family’s Thanksgiving! We are so weird and have so much fun together, it’s just awesome.

These are some picture highlights from my weekend…
I am obsessed with this new scarf!

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Three delicious bottles of wine!
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Silliness from my two favorite men❤️
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Sarurday mornings run was CHILLY…
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Sunday, I had signed up to run the Wolf Hollow
Half Marathon. I ran it last year, and I have to admit, I did terrible last year. It was about 24 degrees with a wind chill that made it feel about 2. I’m not exaggerating at all., it was the coldest race I’ve ever run.

I didn’t hesitate to register again because
A-it’s local to me..The race is in Nashua, NH, less than a half hour away. And
B-it’s really pretty. You run along a stream through the gorgeous Mines Falls trails with a little bit of pavement mixed in.

The week before the race, I was really excited for it. I had a really good feeling about my performance..I knew that during my PR in October, I wasn’t as fast as I could have been, and I was really thinking I could be 3-4 minutes faster than I was a month ago.

My first 3 miles (on pavement) had splits of 6:50, 6:55, 6:51..I’ve never seen splits that fast for myself during a half marathon. And ironically, even though I feel like I had a crappy race, I don’t feel like I went out “too fast”. I wasn’t trying to keep up with other people, I was really just trying to run my own race. Those three miles where when I felt the best, too, ironically.

By the time mike 4 hit, we were solidly on trails. I would say 75-80% of the race was on them. I’ve run through Mines Falls before, and all I kept thinking of was my last run there with my girlfriend where I tripped and fell. Trails are not my friend and I’m really not meant to be a trail runner, as I can barely walk and not trip and fall.

I fell twice, nearly tripped a whole lot, and had to tie my shoe once. Besides my ego being a little bruised from falling, I was fine. My legs just naturally slowed to protect me from falling (even more) on the trails which attributed to my overall slowness.

The course was also a lot hillier than I remembered, and running on the trails made it twice as hard. I was surprised that I hadn’t remembered that from last year-but I think I was just trying to stay warm
And finish it..this year the weather was gorgeous and I wore a skirt, tank and arm warmers.

It really felt like it took three hours to finish those 13.1 miles, It could not have come soon enough!! My exact time was 1:42:14. I would have been a little faster if I hadn’t had to pick myself up and dust myself off (dam you, tree branches!).

I’m really not mad about my time at all-not every race can be your best effort. Or maybe this was my best trail effort, who knows! Last year, I PRd in an October half with a 1:43 time, and ran a 1:51 time a month later in the Wolf Hollow Half. This year I PRd in an October half with a 1:35 and ran a 1:42 at the same race. So I know trails slow me! It’s something I never do but ought to do more of, for sure! I talked to a few other runner friends who also did the race and felt the same as I did-tough course with all the trails on it!!

I wouldn’t hesitate do this race again because even though it’s tough, it’s so pretty. After the race they have delicious soup too and I love when a race hands out soup-it is one of my very favorite things!!

One thing the race did do was make me excited for my next road race-on pavement. (where I can still actually fall but hopefully will
NOT.)

This is the only picture I took all day–another way you can tell I was off my game! I typically take a million pics!
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Congrats to everyone who ran yesterday! Special shoutouts to Lauren (a reader who recognized me and came over to say hello-and she did bad ass yesterday!), Laurel (in my Baystate marathon pace group and recognized me) and Mike and Amanda, who raced Wolf Hollow too and hated every second just like I did!!

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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Manchester-Half-By-The-Sea Recap!

One year ago this past weekend, I ran the Applefest Half Marathon(October 5
To be exact).
I didnt really know what I was capable of–I knew i was truly beginning to get faster, but, I didn’t know what to expect. I told myself, “SELF!! If you break 1:45, you can get that pair of Brooks Pureflows you’ve been eyeing!!”

I ended up breaking that time with a 1:43!! I came in 4th in my age group!!! I remember being extremely excited about this PR… Compared to my other half’s, this was nearly a full hour earlier:
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I really am not 100% sure when the drive to break 1:40 started..but I do know that by the time my 1st half happened that I truly cared about my time–I was extremely disappointed. The half I’m referring to was back in July…so many issues…I couldn’t understand how I had so many amazing workouts and couldn’t make myself get to a 1:3x half…. Truly… I was really disappointed, and my confidence was totally shaken: i thought I was going to do a 1:3x half, I really did! So, no wonder that with my 1:45 half time that I was wildly dissappointed.

By now, I’ve done a ton of races. I will tell you that not every day is “your day” and also that sometimes the weather and the course are out of your control. On that day back in mid-July-it was extremely hot and I hadn’t carried my camelbak with me because I hadn’t wanted the extra weight on me, and with a late morning start time-I should’ve known I was “in for it.” The course was also a whole lot hillier than I had expected.

Then there was my next half: The Triple Threat Half Marathon in August. This was the first race I’ve run for the Yukan race company. They did a very nice job with that race, and I knew I wanted to do more races from this well organized team of professionals. The Triple Threat course was one of the most difficult courses I’ve ever done before: it was hills followed by even more difficult hills, but somehow, I managed to smash my 1:43 PR for a new one of 1:41! Yay! This race helped me to see that a half marathon for me in the mid 1:3x range was possible… If the hills hadn’t worn out my legs, who knows what I would’ve done that day!

I am a race researching fiend, I admit it. At any given time, there are about ten twenty races on my mind that I would love to do all at once. Seriously sometimes I wish I could clone me because I love to race so dam much! I found a race in September and registered for it (the Wicked Half Marathon) and told myself this would be my new PR course. At the last minute (literally, that morning) I decided not to do it. I knew I wanted to get in another 1-2 long runs along the course of my next marathon, so I changed my mind and ran along that instead.

So I guess that brings us to this past Sunday! After deciding to pull out of my last half, being disappointed at a couple others, and not really knowing what to expect-I didn’t talk about this half to really anyone. I told my running partner, my husband, and my friend Erin-truly, I didn’t want to jinx anything. Sometimes as a running blogger-it’s easy to feel the pressure to be faster/do more/be the best…and this can wear on you. So this was my little present to myself that I decided I wouldn’t talk about until it was done!

The Half By The Sea was in Manchester-By-The-Sea, MA, about an hour away from my house. It didn’t start until 10-and as someone who does not enjoy getting up at the crack of dawn for a race, I really appreciate late starts! (but i so don’t like them in the summer time, ummm no thank you.) It was PERFECT running weather: a sunny day where we were a little chilly at the start.

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We got to the start for 9, and had premium parking that was super close to the start/finish line… It was great! We were able to go back and forth from the porta potties to our cars as many times as we wanted to, it really made a big difference to be able to keep my sweatshirt on until 9:55 and then go line up in the front.

Packet pickup was a cinch, and although there were not many porta potties, the lines moved quickly. I couldn’t help but notice that this was one of the nicest groups of runners-everyone we talked to was so friendly. After so many hot and humid days, I think that we were all enjoying being out in the crisp fall air!
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Kristina would not even let me think any negative thoughts and really kept my confidence up high! What a gal! She made me go line up front so I wouldn’t be affected by the gun time/net time difference, and before I could wimp out-we were off!

I will tell you that the first few miles were a pity party. my thoughts ranged from:
“I can’t do this!
“I’m going to drop back and just run with Kristina!”
“I can’t keep this pace up forever!”

But by mile 4- I actually realized that I was getting faster. I had told myself that morning that I wouldn’t look at my watch at all. But that went out the window immediately because I glanced at every single split. It totally kept me motivated though! The race was small-only about 215 people were registered for it, and there was a lot of time that I was really running solo with no one to pass. Just before mile 4, I passed the only woman I could see in front of me, and I took my 7:33 time down for the rest of my miles to a 7:16&better pace to put some distance between us. It took me a long time to be able to pass anyone else-I don’t think I passed anyone until mile 8-I passed a man who really encouraged me to keep running strong and that felt so great! (In my experience, a lot of men don’t like to be passed by tiny 5’1 girls!)

The course was an out and back and the turn around chute happened at mile 8 (I think). The leading man blew by me as I was entering the chute, but that was the only person I saw. When I came out and people began to run by me for their own turn arounds, I heard a lot of yelling and cheering -for me. I didn’t know what the fuss was so I started to listen to what they were saying “SECOND WOMAN!!”
I actually thought they must have been saying “Seventh woman” and it wasn’t until the water stop at mile nine that someone said to me “You’re doing great, you’re second woman!” That I believed it. Well actually I think I said “No freaking WAY!”

I kept my pace strong and held to my low 7 minute miles. The course was really thinned out and I had to at least keep the dude in front of me in my sites so that I wouldn’t get lost-truly I’m glad I did because I know I would’ve missed a turn or two because the race signs were extremely small and not that easy to notice. (This is my only complaint.) Miles 9-13 are kind of a blur between dirt roads, traffic, and trying to stay on the course. I would love to tell you how pretty I thought the course was, but I’m not even a little bit exaggerating when I tell you that I didn’t even notice it. I was trying to really stay “in the moment” for this race and keep my pace solid. I think when I was almost at mile 11-I looked down and saw that I was at about 1:19–in my head I did the math-I was going to hit about 1:34-1:35!!!

Before I knew it, I was rounding the corner towards the finish line (and passing my conveniently parked car). I kept hearing over all the walkie talkies “The second woman is coming” and I cannot even describe to you how cool it was that that girl was me. The announcer was calling my name and placement over the intercom and people looked so excited to see me–it was very, very cool! After I finished, one of the men I had passed came up to me and told me how fast I was going and how he tried, but couldn’t keep up with me—> wow. Cool feeling.

I’m actually tearing up a little while writing this. (geek!) I think that sometimes, you can do all the training that you want to to accomplish a goal, and there are times when it just doesn’t seem attainable. You kick your own butt trying to reach your goal. It always feels right there within reach yet you can’t seem to grab it. On Sunday I grabbed that goal and squeezed it tight. I knew I was capable and I finally proved it.

I am living proof that a slower runner can become a faster one. I’ve never had a running coach, or been on a team, and I wasn’t body snatched to become a totally different runner. It was something I managed to do all on my own and I am quite proud of that little fact. It’s hard work, lots of effort, and some kick ass dedication. Never give up on whatever your own goal is-whether it’s to BQ, or if it is simply to run a mile without stopping. If I can do it You Can Do It.

We stuck around for the awards ceremony and I even got to stand on a little podium:
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I got a sweet gift certificate to a local running store and a frame that says “2nd Overall Woman” on it–I will treasure it forever!

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The funny thing about my finish was that even though I took 6 minutes off of my last PR-I wasn’t really that sore. I had a lot of gas left in my tank and I definitely think I could have gone faster. But since I do have a full marathon that I aiming to BQ at in only two weeks, I’m pretty happy with this time!
So, until next time, 13.1… ….Sub 1:35-I’m coming for ya!

And just one more picture…the top is my worst half-the bottom is my latest half…IMG_3723.JPG

Never. Give. Up.