Race Recap: Wineglass Marathon

I did it! I’m a marathoner!

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If anyone was keeping score, I haven’t posted a blog update since… oh, well, June. Life started happening and then, oddly enough, I got strangely superstitious. For what it’s worth, I do have a crazy-long training update post that has just been sitting in my drafts. Initially I had been adding to it with every long run, but because I’ve been having computer/picture issues, I hadn’t posted it. To recap: summer involved a lot of travel, with humid long runs in Florida and Washington, DC and nice scenic long runs in Cape Cod, New Hampshire, and along the Boston Harbor.

Ultimately, I started to get paranoid, thinking “you’ve been training for so long and no injuries yet, what if you post an update and then finally “bam! You’re injured!” So I decided to be crazy and just keep quiet until the marathon. My 20 mile long run had been great, but since then my knees and ankles had been feeling achey and I decided to run with no time goal, and just focus on finishing and being as strong as I could. Time goals would be saved for future marathons (that is, if I decided I’d want to run another after this one!)

And so, on to the recap.

My mom’s side of the family lives in Horseheads, so we set off on Friday afternoon and were at my aunt’s house in time for pizza and wings for dinner. I’d been good and not drinking that week, but I cheated and had some wine. After dinner, we headed to my sister’s, where we were staying.

Saturday was my aunt’s annual chili party, which is a pretty big shin dig, full of delicious dips, tons of growlers filled with local craft beers, and 6 kinds of chili. In other words, it was nothing but torture for me because I couldn’t partake in any of it. I basically spent the day looking as pathetic as this dog:

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Instead, after picking up my race stuff at the expo, I stocked up on my own food from Wegman’s to take to the party – a beef on weck sandwich for lunch, chips, salsa, cheese, and veggies to snack on, and pasta with chicken for dinner. Let me tell you something about the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York. They have a lot of breweries. Delicious breweries at that. So this was a hard day. But I prevailed, with lots of seltzer and nuun.

As for the expo, I was impressed. This was the first year it was at the Corning Museum of Glass, and I’d heard that the past years weren’t all that great because it was at the local YMCA and they had few vendors. This one was much better – lots of vendors and music and energy. I picked up a sampler of brownies (which were AMAZING) and a Wineglass marathon Adidas jacket that was on sale for $45. It was obviously from another year, but there was no date on it and it was a much better price than the new $75 Asics one.

Anyway, after the chili party, we were back at my sister’s and in bed shortly after 8, and I slept pretty well.

I was up at 4 am, ready to get down to business (pun intended – I wanted to make sure I went before the race). I got ready, had a cliff bar, coffee, beat juice and nuun, and then we were on our way to the bus pick up. The bus system was pretty smooth – we got there a little after 6 and I got right on a bus, which brought me to the race start.

Now would be a good time to tell you that when we went to the car in the morning, it was completely frosted over and we had to scrape/turn the defroster on for a few minutes. So, it was COLD.

Luckily, the race start has a huge heated garage that runners were allowed to wait in, but with all of the runners at the mercy of the bus system, that meant everyone was there early and there were way too many people there. I got a seat and sat, waiting for a while, then I had to brave the elements to wait in line for the port a potties (which took about 10 minutes and was torture).

Finally, it was time to line up. The sun was coming out, and between that and the body heat from everyone huddled together, it wasn’t that bad. I was still wearing my throwaway sweatshirt, and decided I’d keep wearing it until I felt warm enough to chuck it while running.

The start was just a little delayed, but finally we were off!

My body was feeling good and I felt well-rested, so I started off much too fast. After the first mile I got rid of my sweatshirt and was feeling good.

The first few miles were pretty crowded, and people were basically running packed together, but everyone was moving at a good pace and seemed to have lined up with the pace they needed to be in. This was the first race I’ve run where I either haven’t had to pass people who were in the way or been passed by speedier runners in the back.

By mile 4/5 people had spread out a little more, and things were more peaceful.

This being my first marathon, I had no idea what to expect in terms of how quickly/slowly the race would go by. The first 4 miles flew by, and felt like I had only run a mile. I took this as a good sign and kept going. Each mile continued to fly by, right up through the first 10. As a result, I went out too fast, and I was hovering between 9:10 and 9:30 for a good portion of those miles.

I saw my family for the first time at the second spectator spot (around mile 9.5) and I was still feeling great. After seeing them, I put on my headphones and started listening to my playlist.

My right knee started hurting at mile 13, so I slowed down and started running a 9:50/10 minute pace. Seeing my family again around the halfway mark was a nice boost.

By this point, as I was climbing higher into the double digits, I kept thinking to myself “ok, the wall could happen at any minute, but I will not allow myself to walk/slow down until mile 17 or 18.” As mile by mile went by, my right leg and lower back started to hurt more and more, but my mind, lungs, and energy continued to feel incredible.

Between miles 18-19, I started to feel pain in my right hamstring, right above my knee, which was completely new for me and slowed me down a lot. I saw my family again at mile 20. I slowed down, told them my leg was hurting, got a kiss from my husband, and my uncle ran for a few minutes with me. I told him that energy-wise, I felt great and what I really needed was to cut off my body from the waist down and exchange it with a fresh body. After we parted ways, I took a walking break, and this was when things got tough. Between miles 20-25 I alternated running and walking, and as a result my pace climbed into the 12 minute mile range.

Knowing that a 4:20-4:30 finish was slipping away from me, I tried to relax and just stay comfortable enough that I could still do the “run” part of my “run/walk”. Finally by mile 25, I decided to run the entire last mile until the finish. It helped that “That’s How Strong My Love Is,” the Otis Redding song I walked down the aisle to at our wedding, was playing. Soon enough I was running over the bridge before Market Street, with people screaming “You’re almost there! Just turn the corner and you’ll see the finish line!”

I kept thinking to myself “My husband is at the finish. My husband is at the finish.” Of course, I was also thinking about food, too.

When I turned the corner and saw the finish line, I burst into tears but quickly realized that breathing while crying made me feel like I was hyperventilating, so I stifled it. I took off my headphones and let the screaming crowd carry me across. Of course, all of the spectators made me start crying again. Finally, I was across the finish line, where I really burst into tears (so hard to breathe!) I got my medal and went to hug my family over the barrier. Then I told them “I’m hungry!” and went in the direction of food. I scarfed down a chocolate chip cookie while waiting for the people in the Wegman’s tent to serve me some chicken noodle soup. Then I headed straight for the pizza, which I ate within a minute.

One of the things I’d been excited about when I signed up for the race was knowing there was pizza and soup at the finish, but I really didn’t think I’d want it. At most races, I can only stomach certain things immediately following a race, but I was FAMISHED. I started the race feeling a little hungry, and about halfway through the race my motivation focused on 3 things: 1) husband 2) medal and 3) FOOD. I started daydreaming about all of the things I would eat when I was finished. This was definitely a first for me.

I met my family on the other side of the barrier and fell into my husband’s arms, crying even more. I figured I’d cry, but I had no idea I would be THAT emotional. Although I didn’t have the fastest time (4:45:52), I felt an enormous wave of relief and happiness at my accomplishment.

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As for fueling during the run, I think I did a great job. I carried a water bottle with some Gu, Cliff Shots, and Shot Blocks, and was glad I brought all three kinds because I never got tired of having to only eat one thing. When I passed the Gu stations, I grabbed some more. I took the gels/blocks at miles 6, 10, 13, 17, 20, and 23. I drank lots of water and refilled my bottle at the water stops whenever it got low, and drank Gatorade when they offered it (which was every other water stop). Everything about this worked well for me, and my stomach felt great.

The other thing I was surprised about was I never hit “the wall,” at least in the way I imagined it. Each and every mile felt like it flew by. I didn’t think about the race in terms of blocks of miles, and found it worked to just focus on each mile. Even with my leg hurting, it felt like it was all over in the blink of an eye.

We went back to my sister’s, said goodbye to my family, showered, packed up, and my husband and I were off for the long drive home. I wasn’t looking forward to sitting in a car for 6 hours. The first stop was Applebee’s, where I got steak, mashed potatoes, and a beer. And despite the fact that Applebee’s is pretty crappy and the beer was a Sam Adams (which has no flavor to me) it was one of the most fortifying meals I’d had in a while and I left feeling incredible.

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Ohhh yeahhhh

The ride home wasn’t too bad. I had a lot of leg room and snacks and water, not to mention compression socks and beautiful scenery.

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We stopped for pizza once we hit the Mass Turnpike. At the rest stop, I walked up feeling sore, ordered pizza, brought it to the table, and then when I stood up to go to the bathroom my leg gave out on me. I think it was stemming from my right hip, so I had to walk like a peg-legged pirate with my husband helping me to the bathroom and back to the car.

We got home around 10:30 and were in bed by 11 and I fell instantly to sleep.

I took today off from work, so the big plans are 1) eat the chili I saved for myself from the party, 2) drink the champagne and 3) Halloween movies!

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And with that, I bid you adieu.

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And oh yeah, I’m totally doing another marathon. This time, I think a big city is calling my name.

Posted in Races, Recaps, Wineglass Marathon | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Recap: Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Half and Festival

What a great weekend!

Mr. Last Legs was scheduled for the Heartbreak Hill 5k on Saturday, while I was signed up for the half on Sunday. On Friday night, we rushed out to Boston College after work to get our bibs for the weekend. We could have done this on Saturday morning before the 5k, but I wanted to have one less thing to worry about. (Side note: the green line is the worst. I really don’t like the T.)

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We didn’t hang around the expo long. We picked up Chipotle on the way home and called it a night.

We got up bright and early on race morning (Side note #2: the green line operates much better on weekends. I’m glad we decided to just use the T and not fork over the money for a taxi.)

It wasn’t nearly as crazy and crowded as I was expecting. Mr. Last Legs did his pre-race stretches while I did “celebrity sightings.” Spotted, second picture, l-r: Mark Remy (I think?), Bart Yasso, Editor-in-Chief David Willey, and Shalane Flanagan. I wasn’t brave enough to ask for a picture with them, which I now regret. Other people approached them and asked, and the staff seemed so friendly. I mean, this is basically the purpose of the festival, to give readers a chance to mingle with the editors.

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I got a prime viewing area (just over 1,000 people did the 5k, so there weren’t a ton of spectators).

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I read that Shalane used the races this weekend as training runs. I think she came in 6th for the 5k.

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And Mr. Last Legs set a PR! I had the feeling this would happen. This was his first race without me, and at the past two races I think I held him back a bit.

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Official time, 23:51. Amazing!

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We had some time to kill before the next event we wanted to watch, so we went inside to explore the expo. They had a gallery featuring posters of older/classic Runner’s World covers. We particularly enjoyed this one: (slightly NSFW)

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They also had a photo booth setup that put you on the cover of Runner’s World. And it was free! They both emailed a copy and printed it for you. By far the best part of the expo.

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After mulling around, we headed out to the dog races. Because of the heat, they ended up shortening the race from 2 miles to 1. I was rooting for this guy:

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sign reads: Gimme a Break I’m 17. 119 in dog years.

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We actually didn’t stick around for the finish, but I read that the winner and his dog did a 5-something minute mile. Ridiculous.

We were actually really hungry by this point, so we decided to wander and try to find some food. We ended up at El Pelon Taqueria , right next to the BC T stop and it was AMAZING. I got the fish tacos, and the mister got a pulled pork torta.

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Stomachs full, we were off to the Remy’s World seminar. Embarrassingly, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one. I LOVE his sense of humor and have been reading his columns and “motivational” posters for a while, but for some reason I was afraid he was going to come across as some sort of cocky guy when seeing him in person. Something about the mix of him being a runner AND a sarcastic writer made me think this way.

I couldn’t have been more wrong! He was such a nice guy!

First, we played some “Jeopardy” based on things he has written (I nailed the “bear mile” question). After that he did a Q&A and finished with some “crap” prizes (including some sketches of his Ryan Hall wedding ring reenactment and old medals with his “race face” taped on).

We went to his book signing after.

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Both my husband and I left wishing we could be friends with him. We’re such losers.

And that brought us to the end of day one. We headed home, had some pasta for dinner while continuing our Orange is the New Black Season 2 binge watch, and went to bed early.

And then it was race day for me!

I couldn’t have gone into this race any more relaxed than I was. This ended up biting me in the ass because I was a little TOO relaxed getting ready that morning and we ended up leaving later than I planned. My friend was also running and we were going to try to find each other before it began. Since she didn’t have a phone I told her that if we didn’t find each other by 7:15, to just get into the corrals.

I ended up getting to the race at around 7:05, but we still had to walk across campus and I had to go to the bathroom. We went to the expo center only to find they had locked the bathroom doors, so then I had to walk further out of my way to go to the portapotties (which also weren’t near the race start). Luckily, there wasn’t a line, so I was in and out in under a minute.

As small as the race was, the corrals were even smaller and PACKED. There was a whole other crowd of people waiting to the side of the corrals, not able to fit in, so I joined them next to the corral with my pace. When the gun went off, we were able to slip in pretty easily.

It was hot! This wasn’t the kind of weather to really push yourself in. I’m glad I already had Brooklyn and a PR under my belt, because I was able to just run what felt comfortable and enjoy the race.

The first two miles were out and back to BC, with a bit along the reservoir. Around mile 2 we were back into BC and I was able to see Mr. Last Legs again, cheering for me.

Soon we were off campus, climbing into Newton in the blazing sun. Miles 3 and 4 had some nice downhill sections, and I was enjoying myself. Heat aside, of course. However, around mile 4 I saw my first race casualty of the day. It looked like some RW Editors (I’m pretty sure one was David Willey, though I couldn’t tell from the back) were helping a girl off the course, who was barely able to stand on her own. When some medics arrived, they continued to walk the girl away, while the editors were off and running again.

Between miles 5 and 6 I got another dose of “this race is so cool!” (My inner dork was very happy this weekend). I turned and saw Amby Burfoot (who won Boston in 68 and was also a RW editor) running right behind me. He passed me, and I stayed behind him for a bit. Stalker that I am, I decided to take a picture.

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This was also on a pretty brutal hill, and at the top there were some race photographers taking pictures. Because he was so close to me, I’m hoping it will end up having both of us in the shot.

Until this point, the race had been a steady mix of up and downhills, but nothing too difficult. I took a GU at mile 6 and by mile 8 I was feeling great, which ended up being one of my faster miles. I still wasn’t sure what to expect once I actually reached the real hills. I was still feeling hot, but good.

I think mile 9 was the first of Heartbreak Hill, and I did pretty well. By this point, a lot of people were walking. (I had also passed another downed runner, this time there were fire trucks and ambulances. Have I mentioned it was hot yet?).

At mile 10 I grabbed a Cliff shot they were handing out and decided to just eat that rather than fumble with my own gels. I wouldn’t have done that if I were really worried about my time and potential stomach issues, but since I had no goals and didn’t care what happened, I went for it. I’m glad I did! I took the lemon, and it tastes SO much better than GU. It tasted like the filling of lemon meringue pie. I might have to make a switch.

I was still feeling good around mile 11, and was still running the hills (albeit slowly).

Here’s where I mention the water situation. Water was every mile and a half. On a day like this, this simply wasn’t enough. This was the one part of the race I think was not so well-planned. I had my nuun with me, but I was also using every water stop. I would walk through, take two cups, drink one, and dump the other over my head to keep me cool. I think this is what got me through the race until this point. It was cooling, and would give me an extra energy burst every time I did so. But around mile 12 I needed another. And there were no stops left. And there were so many hills. And no shade.

So, I did some walking around mile 12.5. I didn’t want to risk overheating, and I probably walked a quarter of a mile. Even knowing there was only a half mile left, I was feeling hot and tired and hearing so many sirens for other downed runners, I knew it was better being safe than sorry.

When I saw the next race photographer I was shamed into running, and luckily that got me going again. Finally, I was back on campus and running toward the finish line. I saw Mr. Last Legs, pushed harder, and did it!

Official finish time: 2:08:06. I’m really happy with this, given the fact that I didn’t care about my time, it was very hot, I walked through each water stop (my first time ever doing this), and walked for a bit at the end. I’ll mention again that it was very hot. I’m so glad that I’m running a fall marathon.

I grabbed a bagel, some sparkling water, Cape Cod potato chips, and Gatorade, met my friend, took some pictures, and we hung out in the shade for a bit.

Since I ran smart, kept hydrated the whole way, and knew when to take it easy, I felt great! It helped that they were handing out finisher t’s at the finish line, so I was able to immediately change out of my water-soaked tank top, helping me feel comfortable, temperature-wise.

Other people weren’t looking so fortunate. First aid people were actually walking around, checking in on people who were laying on the grass to make sure they were okay.

I continued to hydrate for the rest of the morning just to be safe. Plus, all I could think of was getting some beer. You know it’s a great race when that’s your first thought crossing the finish line.

All in all, I really enjoyed the run. There were enough twists and turns to keep your thoughts occupied, the hills were more than a challenge, and the staff was great. I also much prefer this course to the Brooklyn Half (Cape Cod is still tops in my books, though).

Thanks, Runner’s World, for a great weekend!

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Obligatory post-race lunch shot: I PILED on the food at the Whole Foods buffet and washed it down with an Ithaca Flower Power IPA. Gotta make up those calories somehow.

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Race Recap: Cambridge 5k Freedom Run

First of all, Happy National Running Day!

I originally thought it would be really nice to run a new route somewhere in Boston with Mr. Last Legs to “celebrate”, but since 1) it’s kind of a gloomy rainy day and 2) I’m backing off of mileage since I’m running another half this weekend, the run will likely not happen. No better time to blog, I suppose!

Last Sunday, Mr. Last Legs and I ran the Freedom Run through the Cambridge 5k series.

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I’d been really looking forward to doing this with the mister – the other two races I’d done with this group (Yulefest and Craicfest) were a lot of fun. They’re probably my favorite race organizers here. Local craft breweries compete to have the biggest race teams, most people show up dressed up for the race (lots of patriotic themes at this one), and their race t-shirts and after parties are awesome.

My one beef with this group is I wish they did other distances – while they do do some trail runs outside of the city (which I’d love to try!) there seems to be a shortage of 10ks around here in general. I’m getting tired of 5ks!

Mr. Last Legs isn’t, though!

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he’s ready!

As for the race itself, we got to the Galleria on race morning and yet again enjoyed the convenience of being able to go inside the mall to use their bathrooms and hang out at the food court. After, we enjoyed the view of the little pool and watched the kayaks  across the way (this race also combined with a kayak race for the Glen Doherty Cup).

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When time got closer, we headed to the starting line and we were off!

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Since I was happy with my 5k PR, ran a great last half marathon, and had another one coming, I wanted to just run this race to enjoy it. It was a nice change of pace to take my headphones off and just run with Mr. Last Legs. The first mile felt good, and I kept Mr. Last Legs from going too fast at the beginning.

Unfortunately, it was sunny and hot and I faded fast. Mr. Last Legs kept pushing and ended up leaving me in the dust in the final mile. I kept my eye on him for a while but eventually gave up, happy that he was doing so well.

I stress yet again, it was hot! There was no shade! I was glad to be finished and barely looked at my time. (I later found out it was 26:02. Mr. Last Legs did 25:23 – he was a little bummed that he didn’t beat his last time – looks like he caught racing fever!)

We met up after the race and went straight to the after party. I will say it again, they really organize this well. The water is handed out at the finish line, separate from everything. When you enter the party, the local beer companies are already set up with filled cups on tables around the courtyard, there is one big section in the middle with cans of beer and hard cider (also craft!), food and drinks at other tables, and a dj at the front busting out mostly 90s hip hop. After the disorganized Super Sunday after party, it makes you appreciate a well-organized one.

Since I had a companion this time around, I was able to stay and enjoy the party longer. We got hot dogs and tried some Slum Brew, some Downeast Cider, and some Night Shift. The Slum Brew Flagraiser IPA is still my favorite of the bunch.

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In all, a great race.

Next up – the Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Half! We are going to make a weekend of it. I signed the mister up for the 5k on Saturday morning, so we will head out that way and I will cheer him on. We’re going to stick around for the seminars after, and I signed us up for Mark Remy’s talk (I love Remy’s World). Finally, I do half marathon #2 on Sunday. I might be more than a little crazy for thinking during the Freedom Run man, I can’t wait until next week so I can actually enjoy running the half. I mean, who in their right mind thinks a half marathon will be easier than a 5k? My plan for the half is to just take it slow and enjoy everything (not so easy to do with a 5k on a blazing hot day). So, until next weekend…

Happy National Running Day!

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Race Recap: Brooklyn Half Marathon

After weeks of alternating between “I’m ready! Bring it!” training runs and “Why can’t I pace myself properly?” moments of doubt, the Brooklyn Half Marathon weekend had finally arrived.

Mr. Last Legs and I both had the day off on Friday, so we rented a car and drove down to the city early in the day. I was feeling a mix of anxiety (having approached a slightly different training this time around with a lot of speed work but I just wasn’t sure how it would pay off) and just wanting to forget about the race and enjoy the weekend in Brooklyn. After a very rainy drive, we were finally in Brooklyn!

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express because 1) it was only a mile down the road from the start line, which would make race morning very easy and 2) it was basically in our old neighborhood and we wanted a little dose of nostalgia. After checking in, we were off to the race expo. It was raining off and on, and we had dinner plans, so we weren’t fully able to enjoy the expo. But that didn’t stop me from snapping some pictures of the good ol’ Brooklyn Bridge, taking some time to appreciate how awesome the new pier setup is, and buying a Sparkly Soul Run Brooklyn headband.

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We were running late for dinner (I’d been looking forward to a carblicious pasta dinner at Scottadito on Union with a friend), so we rushed back, only to find out that the restaurant was totally booked. Since it was already 7:30 and I was adamant about only eating pasta, I wasn’t sure what to do. I started freaking out a little. I was convinced that eating late plus possibly eating food that could disagree with my stomach on race morning would mean I would have a terrible race. I didn’t want to go place to place trying to see if 1) they had pasta and 2) there was no wait, so I decided to just grab some linguine with tomato sauce to go from a little pizza place, take it back to the hotel, and call it a night. My husband and friend, meanwhile, headed down the street for Chinese.

So, I headed back to the hotel, rain-soaked takeout bag in hand, and feasted on pasta while watching The Wedding Crashers. It turned out to be pretty perfect, and I was able to fall asleep at around 10. Mr. Last Legs came in at about 10:30 and I was happy to wake up, say good night, and fall back asleep.

______ Saturday_______

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I woke up at 5 am and did my usual prerace ritual: Coffee, Cliff Bar, lots of water. This time around I decided to hydrate with nuun starting two days before, so I also had a bottle of that. Finally, I put my race outfit on.

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At 6:40 we left the hotel and did a nice slow warm up jog to the start line.

From the nyrr website

waiting for me at the finish, from the nyrr website

One surprise that I didn’t encounter last year: They had some serious security lines to enter the corrals. Last year I was able to just leave my apartment (very close to the museum), walk along the side to my corral, slip in, and chill out there while my husband hung out on the other side of the barrier until the race start.

This year, however, there was a very long line to enter the corral area, and there was a much larger fence further away from the corrals to separate non-runners. Honestly, it seemed a little silly to me considering how open the rest of the course is, but I guess I appreciate the fact that it’s there to keep us safe. So, I hopped in line, kissed my husband goodbye, and soon found myself in conversation with a very friendly woman. She lived very close to the start line, but had also lived in Boston before, so we enjoyed comparing the two cities. Before I knew it, we were through security and I was waiting in the corral.

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And then the usual conundrum began – to portapotty or not portapotty? That is the question. The lines in each corral were very long, so I didn’t want to bother. I knew I’d be able to make it through the race, but I also felt like I’d be more comfortable if I just went one more time. Luckily when our wave started and the crowd started slowly moving forward, there were many many many empty portapotties toward the front, so I was able to slip in and out before even crossing the start line.

One thing about this race: I think I’ve become very good at fueling and stretching and warming up, so I felt great right from the beginning. Coupled with the fact that I was in my old neighborhood (AKA the best neighborhood in the world), I was feeling a little too great. My allergies had miraculously subsided, my legs felt light and loose, and I was in Brooklyn, dammit. Hence, my first few miles were too fast and I was in the 8:40s/8:50s. So much for wanting to do 9:15/9:20. Side note: I had also caught up to a 2 hour pacer right near the beginning, so I figured as long as I passed them and didn’t let them pass me again, I’d be golden to meet my sub-2 goal.

I felt like the race was mine. I went down Washington and up Flatbush, around Grand Army Plaza (where the tears came, as expected. By far my favorite part of the race. It’s a shame it’s so close to the beginning), back down Flatbush, and entered the park. Like last year, this part flew by. Before I knew it, I was at mile 5, battling the dreaded half mile hill. I feel like I had the upper hand this year – I didn’t train on it this time around, so I didn’t have that feeling of “ugh, you again?” but I still knew exactly what was coming. And it didn’t seem that bad!

At around the 10k mark, I found my husband and got a high 5, still feel feeling great and running very consistently too fast. I knew this was going to come back and bite me in the ass, but I also knew that this was my favorite part of the race last year, so I might as well feel like I own it, before getting through and properly hating Ocean Parkway like the whiny bitch it is.

Finally I was out of the park. Most people look forward to being halfway done with a race, but for me I was soon filled with dread. There are WAY too many people out there who say “oh, the worst part of the Brooklyn Half is the first part, watch out for those hills in the park! But Ocean Parkway is just a steady decline.”

NOT TRUE. THESE PEOPLE PROBABLY ALSO EAT BABIES AND THINK IT’S OK.

So maybe logistically if you look at a map it’ll show a decline. But that’s not how it feels. It’s like the most boring stretch of 6 miles ever. Little to no spectators. No twists and turns. I love hills if it means it’ll change up the course for a bit. Plus, the sun was beating down and it was probably 70 degrees. No sir, I don’t like it.

Although I took a GU right after I saw my husband, I soon hit my wall. Running too fast had caught up with me and I was starting to feel uncomfortable. I started to lose all sense of pacing and wasn’t sure if I was running 8:50, 9, 9:30, or 10 minute miles. I was hoping to God I wasn’t going over 10 minutes. My watch had gotten off by about .10 miles so I wasn’t really depending on that, just the overall time I saw.

Miles 7, 8, and 9 came and went and I was feeling hot. And tired. And my knee was starting to ache, which hadn’t happened during any of my training. I took another GU, and then the worst thing imaginable happened at mile 10 – the pacer I had already set my sights on passed me. I actually said “Shit” out loud, and tried hard to keep up. But keeping up with someone is way more mentally trying than running on your own, even if the pace is the same. Luckily they stopped and walked through the water stop and I was able to pass them again.

“Ok,” I told myself. “You just have to push it a little to stay ahead of them.”

But I got even more tired. And usually by this point in the race knowing that I have only 3 miles left is a comfort. I am able to focus on one mile at a time and not worry too much. Not this time. I slowed down and was feeling even worse.

The pacer passed me again.

By this point, I knew I was too far in my head. So, I decided to stop and walk for just a little to regroup myself around mile 11, take another GU, sip some nuun, and get on with it again. There was no logic working in my brain at this point – even knowing I only had 2 miles left wasn’t motivating me.

I’m not really sure how much I walked, but it was probably about a minute. But I do know that if I hadn’t walked, if I had just slowed my pace and ran slowly the rest of the way, I would have been infinitely more miserable. So I’m pretty sure I made a good choice.

And it worked! I started running again, decided to take 2 cups of cold water from the mile 12 stop, and was off again. It wasn’t easy. I’d been thinking I would maybe see my husband around mile 10 (we’d made very vague plans), and when I didn’t see him I thought it was for the better, as I was feeling pretty darn bad the last few miles. But sure enough around mile 12.5 I heard him screaming my name and was able to see him from across the street. I won’t lie and say it made me run any faster, but it was nice to have his support.

With a half mile to go, I was torn. I felt like I could really push it, but I also felt like I could turn into one of those runner casualties who passes out and has to be taken away in a medic. (I stress yet again, it was hot. I wasn’t used to running long distances in little shade and high heat at this time of year).

But since mile 10, I’d also been doing math. I figured even if I did 10 minute miles, I’d make it in under 2 hours. My walking put that into question, but I still knew I had a shot.

So up the boardwalk I went! Running the fastest heavy-legs crawl I could surmise and I did it!

Official finish time: 1:59:27.

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Quite honestly, this is the first time I’ve ever finished a race without that feeling of “I did it! AhhhhhHH! INSANE RUNNER’S HIGH!”

I knew I met my goal, but I was also just feeling too beat to be able to stop and appreciate it.

I got my medal, my bagel, banana, power bar, and dinky cup of water (really, NYRR?) and got quite snippy on the phone with my husband who was trying to meet me. They had opened MCU Park this year as the meeting area, but it was still difficult to tell him how to get in and where he’d be to meet me.

Mr: I’m going to stay on the phone with you until I see you.
Me: Uh, no, I need to crash and drink my water. Just find the GEICO sign, that’s where I am.

Finally he found me and after standing in the shade for a bit I was starting to feel a little less like death better. We met up with some other friends who were running, snapped some pictures, got some bottles of water, and hopped on the Q to make our way back.

Medal!

Medal!

This was also the first race I’ve ever finished where I wasn’t even able to think of putting alcohol in my body after. We stopped and grabbed a 6 pack on the way, but I knew I had to hydrate and get some food in me before I started any of that funny business.

So, we went across the street from my hotel for some Dinosaur BBQ. Speaking from necessity, it was one of the most amazing meals I’ve ever had and I left feeling like a million bucks.

happiness

happiness

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he’s feeling bad that he ate the whole thing and he didn’t even run

After, my husband went off to Prospect Park to meet some friends while I went back to try to nap. Though I wasn’t able to sleep, I did end up feeling rested after just laying and watching crappy TV for 2 hours, so I went to the park to joint the festivities. Beer, cheese, crackers, I was a happy girl. Plus, some hooligan tree climbing.

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After, the group of us went to get crappy Mexican and margaritas in Park Slope. So good.

Mr. Last Legs and I were tucked snug in bed by 10:30, which was nice and peaceful.

_____________Sunday________________

On Sunday, we headed to Williamsburg to 1) see one set of friends for a quick bloody mary and then 2) to another friend’s parents’ apartment for a group brunch. Everything was amazing and we were sad to have to hit the road at 2:30.

After a looooooong drive (in which Google Maps randomly decided to take us on some weird detour through some small town before taking us to 90), we were back home. Pizza, bed, done.

Great weekend, Brooklyn. I miss you.

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The Waiting Game

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Have you ever seen The Spirit of The Marathon? If not, I recommend it, as it’s an inspiring documentary that follows a small group of elite, experienced, and newbie marathoners as they each prepare for the Chicago Marathon. There’s one memorable scene where, on marathon morning, the least experienced runner of the group talks to a random guy and he tells her he’s run many a marathon, but he was still nervous.

“Glad to hear that doesn’t change,” she responds to him.

This kind of stuck with me because it rings very true. Although this is my third half marathon, the nerves are starting to kick in. There’s a certain feeling of powerlessness that you get when you reach race week. You’ve done all you can do, yet the doubts come knocking on the taper door. It’s hard to calm these pesky voices, especially when you go on a three mile run and you’re yet again finding yourself freaking out and thinking “I have to run 10 more of these on Saturday?”

The past week wasn’t exactly the best training wise. I’ve been feeling slower and more sluggish. Pacing myself hasn’t been as easy as it had been all winter, especially now that it’s getting warmer. It’s been hard trying to run a 9-9:15 minute mile without going to an extreme. If I try to push myself, I do 8:30. Then I realize my mistake and try to slow it down and get disappointed to see I’m doing 9:45. And yet no matter what pace I do my muscles feel tired and heavy. I suppose this just means I’m ready to taper. I’m hoping I’ll be more on the ball on race day. I’m also hoping it doesn’t get too hot. :/

In other news, it’s been very hard to concentrate knowing that I’m going back “home” in just a few days. Mr. Last Legs and I both have Friday off, so we will be driving over as early as we can to get as much Brooklyn fun as we can over the weekend. I might just cry tears of homesickness on the first few miles, as I basically used to live off of Grand Army Plaza.

Either way, I’ve done as much as I can do and I’m looking forward to the trip ahead. Bring it, Brooklyn.

 

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Race Recap: Spring Classic 5k

Mr. Last Legs ran his first race today! We went to the bib pickup at The Asgard on Friday night, planning to stay for a beer, but every seat was already taken. So, we went over to RendezVous, where I got a mint and cucumber cocktail and the mister got a Talisker neat. Race fueling at its finest.

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On Saturday, I made a Brazilian fish stew with brown rice for a nutritious pre-race meal. It was pretty amazing. Recipe here.

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Finally, on Sunday morning, with a gas tank full of fish stew, Mr. Last Legs was ready. I may or may not have sung the Rocky theme when he was getting dressed. Note the superhero shorts and Motorhead tshirt. He said he wanted to look goofy at the race.

I’ll say he did a pretty good job.

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This race is super close to our apartment (which is actually along the course), so we walked to the start line. It was VERY crowded. The space designated for each mile pace was fairly small, and they only had two openings into the corrals that we could see, so everyone ended up getting up close and personal with their neighbors. There was little to no room for people to enter the corrals to get back to their appropriate pace, so we ended up packed like sardines.

There was a bit of a delay while we were waiting, due to firetrucks that had pulled up at the finish line for an alarm. Turned out someone had “overcooked their eggs,” whatever that meant. More time for me to get mouthfuls of the girl in front of me’s ponytail as we squished closer and closer. Hair is mostly protein, right?

Finally, we were off!

We went into this race with the mutual understanding that, as much as I wanted to run with the mister, I would probably ditch him to try to do my best.

But I was feeling pretty tired today. In fact, my running this whole week had been slow. The first mile came and went, around 8:10. At that point I decided I just didn’t have it in me today, and aimed to maintain that pace.

So, I ran the second mile, not really caring what pace I was doing, just trying to do as well as I could. Second mile, 8:10 again.

But then, right around mile 2.7, when I was feeling so tired, Mr. Last Legs crept up on me. This guy must have been pumping the whole way. He told me between our huffs and puffs, “I don’t know, I was just feeling good, so I kept going!”

We were able to finish together! Cheesily enough, we crossed the finish line holding hands. Awww.

Then, we made our way to the post-race party. There were a lot of friendly people there. First, got a beer. Then, we took a selfie.

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Someone noticed me awkwardly trying to extend my arm and asked if we wanted our picture taken. Thanks, random guy!

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We sat, enjoying our beer, and I kept telling Mr. Last Legs over and over how proud I was of him. I think we were pretty far apart during the first mile, which means he must have really pushed hard during the second mile. He ended up doing a really great job.

Some older dude ended up sitting next to us and asking us how we did, and we ended up chatting. We realized that race results had already been posted at racewire.com, so I looked up all three of our results. Random older dude did 27 minutes, pretty awesome, especially for his age group. Mr. Last Legs ended up with 25:18 and I did 25:19 (I had crossed the start line a second earlier). Pretty good! In fact, this little stinker ended up beating my first few 5k times (the ones that I had been working so hard to beat until just last week).

The Spring Classic 5k was well-organized, from packet pickup to course start to the after party. I was looking forward to doing this race, since I was sick during the Winter Classic 5k. It was worth the wait.

And finally, I leave you with Mr. Last Legs’ angry vein. This is apparently what happens when he runs hard.

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Have you ever raced with your significant other? How was it?

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Just Another Marathon Monday

On Marathon Monday, my husband and I headed out to cheer the runners on.

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We got to Beacon Street in Boston very early, early enough to stake out a prime viewing spot somewhere along mile 24.5. We were very close to the Boston Border.

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the markers for the Boston/Brookline border

 

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Security was out in full force.

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Unfortunately, Transit Police, regular police, and apparently the whole city didn’t really have a clear plan of action for where spectators were allowed to stand. Initially we were up against the barrier, sandwiched between that and the tracks for the green line. Then Transit Police came along and started (unnecessarily) screaming at us that we couldn’t stand there because we were too close to the tracks. Completely understandable, but I still have a grudge against this lady. We were law-abiding and didn’t put up a fight, but she was REALLY rude to us, even after we tried to explain “Oh, we didn’t know, we asked these police officers and they said we were fine here.” I didn’t appreciate her yelling “WELL THEY’RE NOT TRANSIT POLICE AND YOU HAVE TO MOVE. BYE!” And that was just the tip of her rudeness iceberg. Seriously, lady. Calm down.

Anyway.

The whole thing ended up turning into a mess, because none of us could cross Beacon street so we were forced to find places along the street to watch, from the other side of the tracks. But newcomers kept seeing the big ol’ empty barricade and (not putting two and two together that everyone else was standing far back) kept rushing up to get a prime viewing spot. It turned into a vicious cycle of the police saying it was okay to stand there, and then moving everyone away. Next year, they really need to mark everything off with police tape, because they just didn’t have enough police to control everything. (By the time we left, they did, in fact, mark everything off with tape).

I tell you this long story to explain the upcoming picture of Meb, which was the most disappointing part of my spectating experience.

So.

The wheelchairs were the first to come through. It was very inspiring to watch.

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And then came the women! I was the most excited to see Shalane Flanagan run, but having watched the NYC Marathon on TV last year, I was also looking forward to seeing Rita Jeptoo and Buzunesh Deba race. For those who aren’t aware, Buzunesh had a huge lead for most of NY, until Rita basically came out of nowhere to take the lead toward the end. It was pretty amazing.

I’d been hoping Shalane would win, and was getting a little too excited to see that she was leading a good portion of the race. Unfortunately, by the time the women reached us, Rita was in first and Shalane was in seventh.

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Rita

 

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Shalane

 

And then came Meb! People were so excited by this point that they rushed across the tracks and the picture I got was pretty terrible. Still, we were there, in person, for history being made. And it made me tear up.

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By this point, the drunk college kids were spilling out from their homes in droves and we decided to head home.

And I made strawberry balsamic pie!

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All in all, a very successful Marathon Monday indeed.

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