Boston Marathon recap

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Well, friends, I was hoping for a better result on Patriot’s Day this year. I didn’t even come close to reaching my goal, but I finished.

I had to be transported to the med tent in a wheelchair, which was not something I ever imagined happening.

But let me go back to earlier in the day.

My sister Steph (19 weeks pregnant) and I (breast pump in tow) were laughing at the  hashtag she created #breastpumpsandbabybumps and attempted to figure out a vague timeline for the morning on the bus ride out to Hopkinton. When you look at the schedule for race morning, it seems like you’ll have so much time but in reality the time goes by really fast. All we really did was wait in line for the porta potties and then it was time to go to the start. I didn’t have any trouble finding the operations tent where I turned in my pump. It didn’t bother me, but I did think it was comical that they put a bunch of guys in charge of that area.

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Did you catch the selfie of a selfie? Also, Steph finished Boston in 4:50 at 19 weeks pregnant (thanks for making the rest of us feel lazy, sister)

It was a lot warmer than I had expected in Hopkinton. Apparently it was 70 degrees at the start, clear and sunny. I started coming down with a cold on Friday night so I already had a sore throat but I noticed that despite how much water I had been drinking my mouth felt dry. That was my first sign that I might have to adjust my goal.

After you leave the Athlete’s Village, it’s about a mile jog/ walk to the start line. Before you go into the corrals, there is an area with a bunch of porta potties where everyone makes their last pit stop. The lines were long and I knew I wouldn’t have enough time to get through before 10 am. A bunch of guys were lined up along the embankment next to that area and I though “well, that’s not fair” so I marched myself along the row, kept my eyes down, and peed. Only got a little on my shoe.

I made my way to my corral and looked around to see if I recognized anyone. Nope. The sun felt really hot at this point and I was glad I had decided to wear a hat. A few minutes went by and I sort of spaced out until I heard someone call my name. It was Meg, another runner that I know from social media. We figured out that we both had similar goals so we decided to run together. The race started a few minutes later, and I was so damn excited to get going.

The first mile is a really steep downhill. We were towards the back of our corral and one of the last corrals in Wave 1, so it was tough to hit pace (although somewhat expected). The first mile was around 7:15, and then it started to spread out enough to weave through the crowds. The next three miles were all in the 6:50’s, which was encouraging except for 2 things- 1) my Garmin was already way off the mile markers on the course, and 2) I wasn’t feeling “good”. I tried to ignore those issues though because I know it’s normal to go through rough patches in the marathon (although not usually this early on). We chatted briefly about how we were feeling and decided to settle into the low 7’s for awhile.

At this point I knew I wasn’t going to hit my A goal, so you can only imagine what was going on in my mind. Of course I was disappointed, but I also knew going into this training cycle that Boston weather is totally unpredictable. I really had three main goals for this cycle- 1) to get through it without a major injury like I had 2 years ago coming back from my first pregnancy, 2) to run a PR in the half, and 3) to run a PR in the marathon and hopefully closer to 2:55- 2:59. So, knowing I already had met 2 of 3 made it a little easier to let go and back off the pace.

Although there were a few slower miles, we stayed in the low 7’s for the most part through Ashland, Framingham and Natick. Wellesley was a nice boost- my Oiselle teammates came out in full force at Cowbell Corner (there were almost 100 of us running Boston) and I got to see my family there and hug my girls. According to my watch I came through the half around 1:35 but was getting further and further off the mile markers. I had separated from Meg by then, so getting to see some familiar faces was awesome.

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Don’t remember which mile this was, but I was still feeling good here.

 I still felt pretty good through the first of the Newton hills and had a smile on my face even when I was hurting. I noticed somewhere in Newton that my right quad and the front of my hip had tightened up, so I tried to relax a little bit and just focus on getting up and over each hill as delicately as possible. I was tempted to join the walking party since it seemed like so many others around me were doing it, but I knew if I started walking now it would be hard to fight it for the next 6 miles… so I smiled up Heartbreak at 9:00 pace.

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Nearing the top of Heartbreak  Hill.

From the top of Heartbreak to the finish the streets are lined with people cheering. It’s such a strange experience because you’re exhausted, your legs feel like jello, and every ounce of you wants to stop running (or at least somehow skip forward to the finish line). But you’ve got friends and strangers cheering for you and telling you to keep going… and somehow you will your legs to keep going. I felt myself starting to get emotional, which led me to start hyperventilating so I had to try to disassociate in those last few miles. I counted from 1- 100 focusing on taking deep breaths. Then I’d start over again. I did this for 6 miles, with a few breaks in between. I looked up and saw the Citgo sign, then looked down and started counting again. I looked up when I heard someone cheer for me by name, then I’d get back to counting. It felt like I was barely picking my feet up but in reality I was still running around 8:30 pace for the last 10k through Brookline and Boston.

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Running through Chestnut Hill area and Boston College.

Before I knew it, we were turning right on Hereford! Both times I’ve made that turn it has caught me by surprise…. like, this can’t be the finish already?! But, there’s only one right turn into Hereford, so it has to be the end. Then we turn left on Boylston and you can see the finish line. Without thinking, my turnover got quicker- I just wanted to get to the finish.

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I see you, finish line.

I remembered to stop my watch this time. My official finish time was 3:24:57 for 26.2 miles.

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Yassss.

…and I actually ran 26.9 miles, which is probably the worst tangent running of my life. But for this race it was more important to get water every mile than to try and run the shortest distance possible

I had another hyperventilating episode at the finish but I was able to calm myself down, then slowly walk through the finish area along Boylston and pick up my gear bag. This is when things got a little ugly…. I was dehydrated and not thinking straight. I had to find the operations tent to pick up my pump, but I couldn’t remember any details about where it was (they transported the pump from Hopkinton for us to the finish, unlike our gear which was dropped off at the same tent where we picked it up in Boston). The volunteer who I spoke with wasn’t helpful- maybe I wasn’t being clear, maybe I just picked the wrong person to talk to, but I felt myself start to hyperventilate again and then I started seeing stars and things got black for a moment. A kind volunteer brought me a wheelchair, and since I wasn’t confident I could walk on my own at this point they wheeled me to the med tent.

They used a scanner on my bib number as I went in the tent and then took me to an area for the less serious ailments. There were signs over each section, and I noticed one that said “Leg Cramps” which made one of my legs instantly cramp up. I laid down on a cot with a blanket, tried to eat and drink water.  A nurse came to take my blood pressure, and a doctor came over to ask me questions and make sure I was okay (like how many marathons have you run, was this your first Boston, and a few others pertaining to how I was feeling). My breathing was still labored at this point but much better than it had been. The staff and volunteers were all incredibly helpful and talked to me until I felt better. It took about 30 minutes before I sat up and realized I was fine. They brought over someone with a cell phone and I was able to call my family and let them know I was okay. Once I was cleared to leave, they scanned me out and I met up with my family.

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I wanted to get a photo with my two girls after the race, but Natalie had me pinned down and Emma wanted to play hide and seek with her cousins. So, you get the idea. I was pretty sore yesterday, I think partly because of the hills and also from sitting in this position for an hour and a half after the race. Poor girl was hungry.

I plan on taking two weeks completely off from running and then will go from there. I was lucky I felt good enough to finish and get a qualifier for next year. Maybe the third time I’ll get it right. I’m extremely excited to run shorter distances this summer and then go for a fast half marathon in October, and as of now I’m not planning to run a fall marathon.

A huge hug, high five, and thank you to everyone who offered support these last few months and on Monday. My mom, dad, sisters, and Pete all helped watch the girls on weekends and sometimes on weekdays so I could train. Thanks to my Willow Street teammates for your words of encouragement and support on the course yesterday, my Oiselle teammates who had such a freaking awesome cowbell corner in Wellesley and along the course, and the Averill Park alumni cheer section (Mindel, you really are everywhere). Over and out for now, friends. Boston, I love you!

Shamrock Half Marathon 2016 recap

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Hard to know where to start with this one. I read this article in the VA pilot on my way home Monday night and I think it really sums up the overall conditions for the races on Sunday. The article describes the start of the race where we really had no idea what lay ahead of us. That part was so true. I left my hotel room in shorts and my singlet with an old throwaway fleece (carrying my dry bag) and as soon as I got outside I had to return to put on more clothes. I realized that I wasn’t prepared for the conditions, but I just laughed and shook my head. There wasn’t anything I could do about it.

The warm up was probably worse than the race itself: dark, pouring rain, alone, and straight into the wind. I heard the national anthem playing when I knew I still had about a half mile left, so I was a little worried about getting to dry bag trucks, taking my extra clothes off, etc and getting to the start before 7 am, but I made it. The energy before the race was more relaxed than usual, almost like everyone was just at the IDGAF stage. When the race started, I was literally weaving around people wearing trash bags. I’ve seen that kind of thing before races (never worn one myself… I usually opt for throwaway clothes) but never during.

My plan for the race from my coach was to run 6:40s through 8-9 miles and then try to pick it up for the last few miles if I felt good. The more detailed version was that the first 8-9 miles should feel more like a tempo effort, and the last 4-5 should feel more like a race. With the forecasted winds, I decided my best bet would be to not worry about my exact pace and just focus on keeping a tempo effort. I was hoping for a pack to run with to help break the wind, and after the first mile I found myself running with a pack of about 10 other runners. First 3 miles were into the wind and mostly in the 6:40s (splits for the race are here).

Just before the 3 mile split we turned onto Shore Dr. and the change of direction (and being a little inland with some tree protection) made the wind a non-issue for the next three miles. Most of our pack took off and I found myself running with Mary at what felt like a comfortable pace. We hadn’t planned to run together but we ended up running the remainder of the race pretty much stride for stride which was a stroke of really good luck (and a lot of fun). As we turned right into the gates of Fort Story, I prepared myself for what I knew would be the strongest wind gusts of the day.

I’ve been thinking about how to describe the conditions at this point. Somehow the winds were coming straight at us AND sideways. Some of the gusts were so bad that they felt like they’d blow us over. There were volunteers standing out in the worst rain and wind handing out cups of water and gatorade, and I almost couldn’t believe it. There was a runner pushing a stroller for Team Hoyt as part of the race running under 7 minute pace into the wind just ahead of us, and I was in awe knowing that even 9 minute miles with a stroller are hard. My legs were numb, my hands were numb. I kept looking down at my legs to make sure they were there. I didn’t look at splits in Fort Story because I was afraid they would be way off pace. When I saw the gates leading us out onto Shore Dr./Pacific I almost cried knowing that the wind would soon be at our backs.

Somewhere in the last 3 miles I knew I was going to have a good race. I started to gain some feeling back in my arms and legs and decided to try to take my soaking wet arm warmers off. I took one off and felt like I dropped a pound. The other was under my watch, and I took a minute to figure out how the hell I was going to maneuver this feat with numb fingers. I decided to just carefully take my watch off, remove the arm warmer, and then put the watch back on my wrist. Except I couldn’t feel what I was doing at all. So my watch slipped out of my useless fingers onto the pavement and I saw it happening in slow motion thinking “noooooooo”. It took me a second to stop and pick it up, but that kind of jolted me back into the race and I got back on pace immediately. My watch stopped when it fell, so my splits were off after that… but this ended up being a good thing because I didn’t bother to look at the splits and instead just focused racing.

Mary and I were still running together and passed a few other runners along the way, but neither of us were worried about place. I was starting to get tired, but knowing that I only had a few miles left I just let myself race and go to the pain cave. My last two miles were 6:24, and 6:10 (I didn’t know that during the race but noticed it later when I plugged in my Garmin). I saw the finish line clock as I was approaching and was almost confused when I saw 1:26, and then I kicked in the last .1 and crossed the finish line. My official chip time was 1:26:21 and I was 10th female. I reeeally didn’t want to do my full cool down but ended getting it done and finishing with 20 miles for the day.

I’ve been feeling pretty good since Sunday, with 4 easy days on the training schedule but a 24 miler looming ahead this weekend. I’ll have some more thoughts about Shamrock and my marathon training coming up soon.

shamrock 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mohawk Hudson River Half Marathon recap

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Mile 1: 7:33
Mile 2: 7:18 (14:51)
Mile 3: 7:25 (22:17)
Mile 4: 6:59 (29:16) #ohshit
Mile 5: 7:01 (36:17) #relaxrelaxrelax
Mile 6: 7:22 (43:40)
Mile 7: 7:32 (51:12)
Mile 8: 7:32 (58:45)
Mile 9: 7:55 (1:06:41) *regroup at water stop
Mile 10: 7:38 (1:14:20)
Mile 11: 7:51 (1:22:11) #ouch
Mile 12: 8:14 (1:30:26) (thinks: should I just walk?)
Mile 13: 7:36 (1:38:02) #igotthis
Last 0.1: 0:46 (1:38:48)

I started writing an actual recap, then Emma got up mid-nap to hand me her hair clip and my post disappeared. So you can thank her for sparing us all the boring, overly dramatic details. I went out too fast, then I slowed down, then I got a ton of energy in the last mile and managed to pick it up for the last 1.1 miles.

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Thank goodness for Shower Pill- I was able to do a quick wipedown after my race and feed Natalie immediately. She usually eats every 2 hours during the day, so I didn’t want to keep her waiting but also wanted to make sure I was free of any germs I may have picked up in the porta potties or finish line area. I was happy to share the ShowerPill love with some other runners in the awards area after the race as well. Use code WIPEDOWN for 15% off at showerpill.com

Both kids are up now, so that’s all I’ve got! Feeling good!

Crossings 5k recap

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Three weekends, three races, and finally I’m feeling a little more like myself.

This past Sunday I ran a 5k in Colonie. I chose this race because there were kids races and activities and it looked like a fun fall activity for the family. The weather was gorgeous- a little warm for running purposes but perfect for spectators and kiddos to enjoy the day.

My warm up was a jog to the start line plus a little more, maybe a half mile total. So, when the race started I felt sluggish and slow, but I managed to find a pace that felt ok and stuck with it. My first mile was around 6:30, and I came through the two mile point at 13:06 (so a 6:36, yay math). I was struggling at this point but then realized “hey, you’re not sucking!” I knew I only had a mile left, and though part of me really wanted to stop and walk, the other part of me saw a woman up ahead who I could catch and that kept me going. So with about 1/4 mile left I summoned whatever fast twitch muscle fibers I could and was able to catch her and cross the line in 2nd place. My overall time was 20:30, so I did slow a little in the third mile (I didn’t take splits during the race, but guessing the last mile was around 6:42). Still a trend of getting slower each mile, but not nearly as dramatic as the 5k I ran 2 weeks ago.

Afterwards I met up with my family and got Emmaline ready for her race. She was really into it this time and ran almost the entire 1/4 mile by herself.

Running with Emmaline in the beginning of the kids race.

Running with Emmaline in the beginning of the kids race.

The last kids race she participated in was about the same distance around a baseball field and she got scared by the mascot so we had to carry her most of the way. (He scared me too).

All done!

All done!

So, what’s next? We’re doing a “biketoberfest” next weekend to raise money for ALS research, and taking a break from races for the week. Then the following week is the Mohawk Hudson River Half Marathon! I’m feeling a lot better about being able to complete the distance. Althogh my mileage is low, I did finally get in a longer run last weekend and am hoping to get in one more sometime this week. I recently joined Strava- if you want to follow my training as I attempt to come back from baby #2, here’s the link to my workout from today: workout 🙂

Double Race Recap

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Oh, boy.

I’m back racing.

Start line of Malta 5k during National Anthem. I am all the way on the right, in the neon yellow/green shirt.

Start line of Malta 5k during National Anthem. I am all the way on the right, in the neon yellow/green shirt.

10 weeks after having Natalie I ran a small 5k in Malta, NY. I crossed the line in 21:44 and finished 2nd in my age group. It did not feel great or easy. It was also an exercise in how NOT to run a 5k: Mile 1 6:30, Mile 2 7:00, Mile 3 7:30. Yes, I almost walked up a hill in the 3rd mile but talked myself out of it… mostly because I knew it would be hard to start running again once I stopped.

I was able to run a one mile warm up. Most of my warm up time was taken up by feeding Nat, changing diapers, dashing to the porta potty, etc., but I expected this so it was okay. I didn’t do a cool down because I felt pretty bad, so Pete and I walked around the bike path while Emma did some running of her own.

This past weekend I ran a “4 mile” trail race in Kinderhook, NY. The race was even smaller than the 5k the previous weekend, with maybe 50 people crossing the finish line. It started and finished at the home of former US president Martin Van Buren, a native of Kinderhook. Side note: did you know that some history buffs have credited his campaign for popularizing the term “ok”, an abbreviation for Old Kinderhook?

Pre-race selfie... not sure what I was smirking at.

Pre-race selfie… not sure what I was smirking at.

I’ve run a few trail races, and so I expected that the advertised distance was merely a suggestion. Turns out the race was more like 3.5 miles, which was great news to me. I felt a lot better during this race even though the course was much harder, mostly because I ran more evenly. I crossed the line as second woman in 27:00, and my sister finished about 30 seconds ahead of me in first. I wasn’t able to warm up at all- still having to balance my time with Natalie’s need to eat constantly, but of course that’s perfectly fine and something I expected! I felt a lot better after this race, and was able to run a short cool down.

After the Malta 5k I went back and read my race recap from my first race after Emmaline (the 2013 Bertie 5k in North Carolina). It was a lot cooler that day, and the course was much easier (and it was a race I was familiar with) so I guess it’s hard to compare- but I ran a similar time. I remember being so overwhelmed at that race, just trying to figure out how to warm up and get everything else done. I was used to getting to races an hour ahead of time and going through the same routine I had done for years. It pays to have already gone through that, because now I’m much more laid back about sticking to a schedule.

I have another race this weekend, a week off, and then the Mohawk Hudson River half marathon on October 11th. The weather is gorgeous here, and the leaves are starting to turn, which means it’s marathon season for many of my friends and the runners that I coach. Can’t wait to watch some great races this fall!

Shamrock 8k Recap

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Phew! What a whirlwind of a weekend. Let me quickly (ha) recap my race and some other things that happened this weekend.

Our travel was delayed by a few unforseen circumstances (including snow, what was the heck was that about?)… We arrived at our hotel in Virginia Beach at 12:30 am. The kids (Emma and my niece Mia) promptly woke up from sound sleep and started chasing one another around the room, so needless to say we didn’t get much sleep that night (sorry to whomever was in the room below us- we really tried to get them to calm down).

I woke up around 6 the next morning, but I guess that wasn’t enough time… because I looked at my watch thinking I had plenty of time and did a double-take when I read 7:15 already. I scarfed down as much of a Picky Bar as I could and pushed Pete out the door at 7:25, which left us 20 minutes before the scheduled start time of our race. Unfortunately we were staying on 6th street and the starting line was on 30th street, almost 2 miles away. Pete had to eat breakfast while running, and I was doing my best waddle-shuffle, frantically checking my watch at every street to see if we were going to make it. Luckily we did make it with a few minutes to spare, but it was a close one!

My original goal had been to run around 7 minute pace for the 8k, but with the travel and lack of sleep and accounting for pregnancy-related factors I adjusted my goal to somewhere between 7 and 7:30 pace (around 35-38 minutes for the 5 miles). In the beginning I did my best to relax, but there were a LOT of people around me bobbing and weaving. I was concentrating more on not being tripped than on my actual pace. I came through the first mile around 6:45, and I was surprised to run that “fast” and still feel pretty good. I made a conscious effort during the second mile to just maintain my pace and kept repeating “relax, relax” to myself in my head. The second mile was around 7 minutes.

Somewhere in the first mile- I'm in the orange (pop) arm warmers. Photo courtesy of Jen B.

Somewhere in the first mile- I’m in the orange (pop) arm warmers. Photo courtesy of Jen B.

At this point we had run two miles in the direction of our hotel and were rounding first street to head up the boardwalk toward the start/finish area. I got squeezed from the outside by another runner, which happens sometimes in road races, but I suppose the guy on my inside felt I was encroaching on his space so he actually THREW me and elbow and attempted to push me hard away from him AND hold his arm out to maintain his space. I, of course, gave him some lip service and sort of pointed out “hey, preggers here” but he ignored me! Then I turned my head and stared at him and asked him if he heard me, to which he finally responded “yes”. Then I took off and never saw him again. I was shocked that someone would act like that in the mid-pack of the race. People are usually supportive of one another and don’t show such poor sportsmanship. I feel a little bad for probably embarrassing him because I’m sure he didn’t know I was pregnant when he threw me a ‘bow, but I had to look out for myself and the baby. Ok, moving on.

Miles 3 and 4 were on the boardwalk with a slight headwind. I ran both miles around 7 minutes and felt pretty good. I passed a lot of runners on the boardwalk but there were a lot of people noticeably slowing down, likely from starting out too fast.

On the boardwalk nearing 4 miles. Photo by Jen B. again.

On the boardwalk nearing 4 miles. Photo by Jen B. again.

We then turned off the boardwalk to the left and ran up the parallel street, Atlantic Ave, for a half mile. I decided to try and pick it up at this point, mainly because I felt good and also because I had to pee and just wanted to get it over with. We turned once more to the right and back onto the boardwalk in the opposite direction. Finally I could see the finish line (isn’t that the best?) I ran my last mile a little quicker, around a 6:45, and crossed the line in 34:20, averaging a little under 7 minutes per mile. I think the flat course and extra blood volume helped my time a bit.

The Shamrock 8k was a fun race, and one of my favorite race distances. But the highlight of the weekend was Emma’s first race! She ran the Leprechaun Dash later that morning along with her cousin Mia. They separate the kids into age groups for each year, ages 1-5. It is the cutest thing!

Emmaline was very excited about her race number (and they printed the kids' names on them too)!

Emmaline was very excited about her race number (and they printed the kids’ names on them too)!

So they all lined up and the announcer told them to “Go!” Emma did such a good job running straight for that finish line. I cried a little bit when we crossed the line, thinking about all of the races she has ahead of her and all of the other fun things she will get to experience. I know it’s silly, but I was so proud of her.

Shamrock 3

Shamrock 2

Emma got her medal, which she wore all day and refused to take off. We stayed by the finish to watch Mia run her race. She is getting so fast! Then the kids ran around and giggled the two miles back to the hotel.

This is where I imagine Emma is explaining to Mia what happened in her race...

This is where I imagine Emma is explaining to Mia what happened in her race…

That’s about it. We got in late last night and I had an appointment this morning- 26 week check up and glucose challenge. Yum. Fingers crossed that I pass this time, because I failed by a few points when I was pregnant with Emma and would prefer not to go through the 3 hour test again. I did things a little differently this time so I’m hoping my research pays off!

Some baby news (and more)

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Well, first let’s begin with the other news.

My birthday was this past Tuesday, and I was pretty excited to get out on a weeknight for some Mexican food and homemade (by mom) birthday cake. We went to El Loco on Madison Avenue in Albany, and it was surprisingly pretty good for upstate NY Mexican food served by hipsters. We really don’t have many options for Mexican food here (compared to the plethora of authentic Mexican restaurants in Virginia Beach) and it’s my one constant pregnancy craving, so I was quite happy. Afterwards we went back to my sister’s house for some cake, ice cream, and presents.

New age group (I'll let you count the blurry candles to figure out which one...)

New age group (I’ll let you count the candles to figure out which one)

Running has been going pretty well. I ran a 7k race on Super Bowl Sunday (another of the HMRRC Winter Series races) and finished third, behind a fast teenager and my sister Steph. My time was 29:23, which was about a 6:45 average. Since then I’ve done most of my runs on the treadmill. I usually try to run 4 miles during the week (not every day, but most days) and one longer run on the weekends. I have to admit that I’ve taken a break this week (because of a stomach bug and then a bunch of other things that have kept me busy) and am having a hard time getting myself motivated again. The stomach bug seriously knocked my on my butt for awhile and it took me until my birthday to start feeling normal again.

And lastly, since we’re nearing the end of the second trimester already (time is flying)…

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An ode to winter running

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The winds whip through the trees
As my feet pound the snow-covered ground.
I run swiftly over hill and dale
Because I’m being chased by the snow plow.

Has this ever happened to you? It’s seriously one of the most frightening things to come across (except for maybe a bear or a dead body or something like that).

Running in the winter poses some unique challenges. This particular winter I am running less than usual because I’m growing another human, and falling on slippery roads isn’t an option. Then there’s my treadmill which somehow ceased all usefulness somewhere between Virginia and New York. The last two weeks have been especially challenging because the temperatures have dipped below the acceptable range for taking Emma out running in the stroller. But there have been some bright spots here and there with my running adventures.

Bright Spot #1: Before Christmas I ran a Holiday-something 5k, which turned out to be the single most hilly 5k I have ever run. I didn’t know what I was getting into, and originally planned to just take it easy. Once the race was underway I changed my game plan and decided to start off fast and get it over with. This didn’t end up being a good decision- I had grossly underestimated the quantity and quality of those hills- but it did make the race go by quickly. I crossed the line as the first female in 20:01, and at 13 weeks pregnant, I was happy to cross that finish line feeling strong.

I planned to run a race on New Years Day, but instead I caught the plague and was confined to bed for a few days. I was lucky to get over it as quickly as I did (because I know others who were sick for a week or more). I didn’t run for almost a week, and when I tried running it felt horrible. I decided to take the following week easy, which turned into another five days of rest (and coincided with a few sub-zero days). Bright Spot #2: This past Saturday I finally got outside for an easy 5-6 miles and had one of those zen running moments where everything feels fluid and easy. I guess I expected that I had reached the point in my pregnancy where I was going to just feel awkward and slow all of the time… but I was so thrilled to feel like myself that I decided to run a race that next day.

Bright Spot #3: My local running club (The Hudson Mohawk Road Runners Club, or HMRRC) holds a free winter series of races with varying distances. On this particular day runners could choose from a 3 mile, 10k, or 25k distance. I will probably always choose the shortest option unless I happen to be in the middle of marathon training. It was very cold yesterday for the race, around 5 degrees, so I knew it would be smart to dress in layers and start off slowly. I was aiming to run under 7 minute miles and keep it at a tempo-like effort. Although there were no mile markers to get my splits, I feel like I ran pretty evenly. I remember in college that my coach always reminded us to keep a “conversation” pace for tempo runs and to make sure we didn’t feel lactic acid in our legs, so I kept that in mind (although I did kick it in when we made the last turn toward the finish). I crossed the line as first female again in 19:45, which was a 6:35 pace for 3 miles (not bad for being 16 weeks pregnant). There were some hills, but not anything close to that last 5k.

This pregnancy has been a lot different than last time. I felt sick and lethargic most of the first trimester when I was pregnant with Emma, and didn’t race at all. I ran a few times, but they were all at very easy paces. I remember being shocked when I managed a 7:45 pace at the Shamrock 8k when I was 16 weeks pregnant last time (and that didn’t necessarily feel “easy”). I hope I can continue to feel strong on my runs and continue to show up at some races here and there through the spring. I’ll talk a little about my future “race plans” in my next blog.

Turkey Trot recap and more

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Sleep is wonderful.

I say this after a week of Emma being sick and getting 2-3 hours of sleep every night. Luckily she is doing much better and is back to her happy self.

One of my favorite things about having a toddler is an excuse to eat the other half of the box of mac and cheese.

Mmm.. lunch

Mmm.. lunch

When Emma isn’t feeling well, she doesn’t nap well either… therefore my Turkey Trot recap is a little late. It’s hard to justify taking an hour to write a blog post when your kid is crying and sneezing and in need of snuggles. Anyway, here’s a quick breakdown of our Thanksgiving tradition:

If you live anywhere on the east coast, you might recall that we got a pretty bad snow storm on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving.

I took this photo when the snow had just started to fall. We got anywhere from 8-12 inches by Thursday morning.

I took this photo when the snow had just started to fall. We got anywhere from 8-12 inches by Thursday morning.

Luckily the snow tapered off by the early morning hours, but we were still unsure if the race would be cancelled. The storm had knocked out cable and internet, and since we’re temporarily staying with my mom (and she happens to live in a black hole for cell service) it was not easy to keep track of updates. But somehow… after about 5 minutes of waiting for the page to load on Thanksgiving morning… I read that the race was ON!

The roads getting to the race were okay, but it took us much longer than usual to get there safely. Traversing through the slushy streets while pushing/ carrying the stroller took some careful choreography. Thank you steeplechase for giving my the confidence to hurdle large puddles. My feet managed to stay dry until the race.

We didn’t have much time to warm up before the race started, so we left the kids with my parents and got started. By the time we finished, there was just enough time to take off some layers and get to the start.

"We need a pre-race picture!" I was in the middle of putting on my gloves here... we're all like, gah!

“We need a pre-race picture!” I was in the middle of putting on my gloves here… we’re all like, gah!

So, we’re huddled in next to two people dressed like bacon and behind one of the worst smelling dudes ever. Finally the race goes off and I immediately feel terrible. I was in front for the first 400 meters or so, but that was only because I started in front (was I supposed to line up BEHIND the bacon?!)… In the next half mile or so, five women passed me. I tried to keep them within my sights and forget that I felt bad.

First mile: 6:00 (not ideal, but not horrible)

The course is an out and back, which is my favorite type of course for a 5k. Somewhere between the mile marker and the turnaround, I passed two women, so I was in fourth. A little after that, one of the women caught back up to me, and we ran together for awhile. We exchanged some friendly words of encouragement that I don’t recall in detail.

Second mile: 5:45 (11:45 total clock time)

I passed the second mile marker (*which is completely unreliable because every year it says I run a super fast second mile, and horribly slow third mile, so I’ve decided that the markers are off) and started to push a little harder. I was now running alone in fourth place, but I passed several men in that third mile so that kept me going. I didn’t feel great, but I was confident that I could still run a solid 18:30 if I kept passing people and running hard. Then I saw two women up ahead, and was a little bummed that I wouldn’t be able to make up that much ground in the last half mile.

Third mile: 6:xx (18:20-something)

The end of the race goes around in almost a complete circle and then turns right down the final straight away where you can see the finish line. When I passed the third mile marker we had just turned onto that final street and I saw that my goal of 18:30 wasn’t going to happen today. Then, I realized “Sh!T” (I frequently curse to myself during races, but usually it’s only in my head) I’m not even going to get under 19. So I hauled it across the line, and luckily got in just under 19 in 18:59 officially. Small consolation, but I’ll take it.

My sister Steph and I (pictured above in the pre-race photo) won the sister-sister division for the second year in a row.

Are you running any holiday-themed races? I’m running a 5k next Saturday the 20th called the Holiday Classic 5k. I’m thinking of dressing festively for this one!

I just looked up from my feverish typing and realized it’s seriously snowing right now. I need to unpack my treadmill… we’re in for a long winter.

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Running in the moment: How to start and finish your race when your training hasn’t been ideal

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My race this past weekend (ok two weekends ago) was such a fun experience. No, I didn’t PR or win any prize money like I had envisioned back when I started training this summer… but it was still a great race that enjoyed from start to finish. The weather was perfect, I had great company for the first 20 miles, and my post-race margarita was one of the best I’ve ever had.

I know there are lots of people who have found themselves in a similar situation. Maybe you missed training due to work, travel, family, weather, or something else. Maybe you considered bagging it but didn’t want to lose your entry fee. Maybe you lost motivation at some point and your training has suffered. There are a lot of things that happen between when you sign up for a race and when you line up on the starting line.

So, there are a few thoughts on how to make the best of your race experience.

1. Try something new. I know, gasp! How dare we defy the old running adage. Well, you can find ways to mix it up without committing a major running crime like racing in brand new shoes. Get some funky laces, wear some bright shades, or even try out a new outfit (just make sure you wear it once in practice before the race).

2. Start off with a slower pace group than you originally planned. Sometimes running at a slower pace in the beginning will help you feel good longer and allow you to push the pace toward the end. It’s a great way to run a fast time, and even if you don’t get your PR you may still surprise yourself and run faster than you expected.

3. Take in the crowd. If you’re usually in your own head during a race, take this opportunity to soak in the support from spectators. I dare you to not get a little pumped up when you high five the local high school mascot. He probably got up at 5 am just to don that ridiculous suit and cheer for you.

4. Race your way into shape. A race can be a great training run and an opportunity to practice your pre-race routine and race strategies in an optimum environment. Choose another goal race in a few weeks and use this race to practice fueling, hydrating, and running part of the race at your goal pace.

5. Plan your post-race celebration. You earned it.