Friday, December 20, 2013

2013 in Review

 1. Bought a house. Other than some routine maintenance, it has treated us well.
2. As the finishers certificate states, I successfully completed the Boston Marathon. That is about the most accurate thing I can say about the Boston Marathon.
3. Ran a road race in Hawaii.
4. Didn't do a whole lot of running otherwise. I will cap out the year at just over 600 miles. My major focus was getting over a series of injuries. So far so good on making a careful return to running.
Here's to lots of good things happening in 2014!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Back on the Rhode

I ran 20 miles on the nose this week.

And 65 miles in November. And 27 miles in October.

Dare I say I am back?

I still don't have a specific training plan or target race, but I am starting to think about races again. My ankle, while still not 100%, is getting better. No more just tolerating not getting worse. Actually getting better. There is a different feeling when you are healing. Almost like the injured part is letting you know it's there. But it definitely isn't pain, more like a slight discomfort or itchy feel. That's where I am.

My paces are well within my normal range, if not faster. Some runs bring me back to the peak of Shamrock training where I was easily running fast paces and building confidence in my mind and body. Today's run was a perfect example. I had a couple of sub-8 miles in the middle of my run. I didn't even know I ran that fast until I looked at my Garmin data at home. That did not happen when I was training for Boston about a year ago. I really struggled to maintain my normal pace. So what's different? I think I eased back into running more slowly. I don't have the pressure of a non-refundable race that I need to train for. I learned more about my body.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Oh hai again

So yeah. I have not fallen off the face of the earth again. I am still somewhat on the disabled list. I've been fighting with Achilles tendonitis in my left foot for the last, oh, forever. Before the Boston Marathon. And then my piriformis started acting up. I cannot make this stuff up. It was just one injury after another.

By the way, you know you are a runner when you can correctly pronounce piriformis.

The good news is that both issues are subsiding. I have to spend lots of quality time with my foam roller and be very careful about stretching. The other good news is that I eased back into running 2-3 times a week. Nothing is getting worse. I can feel slow healing. My endurance is lacking, but my pace is within my Shamrock training range. Score.

I still have nothing on my race calendar. I need to be fully healed. I gotta get back to pain-free running. I almost don't remember what that's like.

My workout routine (or sometimes more like lack of routine) needed a shakeup. I started going to a boot-camp-style class. It is hard. My core appreciates it, though. I work harder than I would on my own. And I volunteered to lead a staff run group once a week.

I ran the last 2 miles or so of the Marine Corps Marathon with a friend. Seeing someone else fight with those last 2 miles gave me a different perspective of what happens at the end of a marathon. There is no glossing over how hard those miles are. I have no plans to run another marathon anytime soon, but I will say that the end of Marine Corps made me excited to take on 26.2 again. Someday.

In somewhat running-related news, the Red Sox won the World Series. Yay Red Sox! Not only was it is a worst to first comeback for the Red Sox, but it showed the resilience of the city of Boston. A city that needed to celebrate after the Boston Marathon bombings. Maybe I am biased because I ran this year's Boston Marathon. And maybe I am biased because I lived in New England for over a decade, but no city deserved it more than Boston.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

On Washington, DC

The last couple of times I've moved, it was bittersweet at first. I liked the place I moved from, and I was never totally sold on the new place.

And then I gave the new place a chance and find out that, hey, it's not so bad, and there are some things about the new place that I really like.

Moving to DC was no exception. DC is finally growing on me.

1. The Smithsonian Museums. Yes, museums. The Smithsonian is many museums, not just one. Free museums. My favorite is the Museum of American History. And the National Gallery of Art and Sculpture Garden, although that's not a Smithsonian. Still free, though.

2. The arts scene. I have already been to four concerts at The Fillmore and have seen a documentary at the A.F.I. Silver Spring (Sound City ... highly recommend it if you like Dave Grohl, or if you like rock music). These venues are across the street from each other. The Fillmore is not too big and not too small. Kinda like the way I like my marathons.

3. Rock Creek Park. You'd never guess you were in the middle of a city. It is quiet and peaceful. Some of the roads are closed to traffic on the weekends so people can walk, run, or cycle. I did all of my longest long runs in preparation for Boston in Rock Creek.

4. The National Mall. The fastest, cheapest, and most fun way to see the monuments is to run. If you have far enough to run, you can visit the U.S. Capitol, the Washington Monument, the White House, the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and even Virginia if you want to. All on the same run. See? I did this back in 2011.

5. Decent public transportation. I pretty much do not take the Metro on the weekends because of trackwork and closed stations. It's not pleasant when there are delays. And lemme tell you about the time I got stuck on a disabled train. However, the Metro is way better than the alternative. Drive? No thank you. Been there, done that, and have no interest in doing it again. Going to Boston a few months ago made me appreciate Metro more. I get my commute time back to do stuff. Read. Play with my phone. Listen to music. Nothing. My car was acting fritzy, so I didn't drive for over 3 months. And I didn't need to.

6. My job. There are some days when I feel like I haven't worked because I like what I do that much. Yes, there are challenges and it's not all puppies and rainbows. But it is interesting, meaningful work with a limitless supply of questions to address. I get to use my data skills and research skills on a daily basis. I couldn't ask for anything better.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down

The thumbs up first. I ran a 5K in Hawaii. A race T-shirt is a much better souvenir than a regular old T-shirt. I didn't set any land speed records, but I wasn't planning on it. I ran a respectable time, and I even snagged second in my age group.

Hawaii was very amazing, by the way. The pineapple (the sweetest ever), the shopping (tons of high-end stores), the restaurants (I may or may not have eaten udon noddles twice in 24 hours), the beaches, the hiking, the mai tais, all thumbs up.

And the thumbs down. My ankle is still bugging me a bit. I can tell it is getting better. Slowly. Stretching and foam rolling are helping, but I need to get myself fully healed. So it's time for another running break. I unintentionally took a complete exercise break for a few days. My body needs it. And I need to be patient.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Week that Was

I'm not going to do a day-by-day recap of my exercises this week, or even a general description of what I did this week. I find it helpful to keep a log while I am training, so that I can look back and see how things went. There's no real need for that, since I'm not really training for anything.

However, I ran about 8.5 miles total in 1 hour 10 minutes. For those of you doing the math at home, that's an 8:15ish pace per mile.

Whut? Who is this person?

This did not happen the last time I came back from an injury or an extended running break. At the beginning of my Boston Marathon training cycle, I was struggling to break 9 minutes.

Part of the speed is that I know I am only going out for a short distance. A little more than 2 miles on average. I can run 2 miles in my sleep. I was purposely pushing it on some of these runs, so that's part of it too. But then factor in the heat and humidity and I should be running slower.

Or maybe I just have enough running experience that I know paces, effort levels, and mental skills well enough to know what's appropriate. Hmm.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Oh hai

No, I have not fallen off the face of the earth. Just took a planned extended running break. I did not run at all for over 2 months since the Boston Marathon. Even before the marathon, I knew I needed to take a break. You can't run if you break your body.

Oh, I did other things. Spent some quality time with the elliptical. Acquired a spin bike. More strength training. And some extra rest.

I tried to ramp it up too quickly when I was training for Boston. I am not going to repeat that. I got lucky in that when I got injured again, I knew how to back off, had a decent start to my training cycle, and still managed to train. I got even luckier that I did not get injured during the marathon and made it safely to the finish line.

The good news is that my pace is in the range of my spring 2012 training cycle. That was when I ran my 2 BQ marathons, 2 unofficial half marathon PRs (or 3 if racing by yourself on a treadmill counts), and my 5K PR. I did a better job of maintaining my cardiovascular fitness than I did when I was injured last year, so I think that helped.

So far, I am 2 weeks and about 5 miles into my return to running. I am cautiously aiming for a 5K in early August. Other than the 5K, I have nothing on my race calendar. And honestly, I kinda like that.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Remembering Boston on National Running Day

Happy National Running Day!

Did I run today? Nope. I have not ran since the Boston Marathon. And I do not feel bad about that in the slightest bit. Oh, I am still exercising but in different ways. My body needs a break from running.

Since I did not run today, how about some photos from my trip to Boston over the weekend?

Honestly, it was a little weird to be in Boston. It seemed like nothing had changed, and yet everything has changed. But it was good. I got to go back and hang around downtown Boston and visit the Public Garden, just as I had planned to do after the Boston Marathon. I am glad I had a chance to go back.

I got to see the Boston Marathon memorial in Copley Square.
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Hands touching hands reaching out touching you is a line from Sweet Caroline.
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Been waiting for a while to show my medal to the mama duck in the Public Garden. Mama duck approved.
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I do so enjoy Boston.
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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Boston Revisited

I am going to Boston this weekend. Yay.

Except not yay. I am having surprisingly mixed feelings about that. Not exactly sure why. College reunion is part of it. Or rather, a certain classmate who I don't think is going to be there but might is part of it. The Boston Marathon is part of it too. Oh, it will be fine and I will be excited by the time the weekend rolls around. For now, I am not the least bit excited.

I am going to the Public Garden to visit the duck statues with my Boston Marathon medal, just as I had planned to do after the Boston Marathon. I am going to Boylston Street and the finish area. Hopefully, I will buy a Boston Strong shirt from Marathon Sports or City Sports, both of which are near the finish area.

I will see some friends I haven't seen since the last college reunion. I'm kinda beyond drinking and staying up all night, but it will be fun. The last one was fun.

I will tell you one thing. It will be very much like the Boston Marathon. Eagle coming home. Again.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Boston Marathon: The Music That Wasn't

I put together a playlist for the Boston Marathon and then ended up not using it. At all. The Boston Marathon is a 26.2 mile block party. There were so many entertaining things along the way.

In hindsight, I hope these songs had turned up.

Foo Fighters - My Hero. This one is for all the police, emergency responders, medical people, volunteers, spectators, and average people who stepped up when they were needed.

Nine Inch Nails and Carly Rae Jepson - Call Me a Hole mashup - Upbeat music from Call Me Maybe. Dark lyrics from Head Like a Hole. "No, you can't take that away from me."

Katy Perry - Part of Me - "This is the part of me that you are never gonna ever take away from me." Notice a recurring theme here?

Switchfoot - Meant to Live - "We were meant to live for so much more and we lost ourselves. Somewhere we live inside."

Switchfoot - We Are One Tonight - "The world is flawed. These scars will heal. We are one tonight."

Switchfoot - Dare You to Move - "I dare you to move. I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor." For me, this song has always been about hope. It is one of the highlights of any Switchfoot concert. The most recent time I saw it performed live was frontman Jon Foreman singing solo, acoustic, with the crowd singing along. Amazing.

Switchfoot - Dark Horses - "I've got my scars. I've been to hell and back again. Born for the blue skies. We'll survive the rain. Born for the sunrise. We'll survive the pain."

The Bravery - Fearless. Good message. Peppy beat.

Rihanna - Diamonds. "Shine bright like a diamond." Boston, shine bright like a diamond.

Journey - Don't Stop Believin' - I associate this song with Boston, due to its use in the 2004 baseball post-season. In case you don't remember 2004, it was the year that the Boston Red Sox were 1 out away from elimination and came back to win the World Series for the first time since 1918.

Pearl Jam - The Fixer - "When something's lost, I want to fight to get it back again ... When something's broke, I want to put a bit of fixing on it ... When there's no love, I want to try to love again ... Yeah yeah yeah. Fight to get it back again."

Chris Brown - Beautiful People - "Everywhere that I go, the only thing I see is beautiful people ... Live your life ... The beauty's deep inside you. Don't let 'em bring you down. The beauty is inside of you."

Shoulda had Sweet Caroline, although I did hear it somewhere out on the course.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Boston Marathon: How to Handle Traumatic Stress Part II

In my random travels today, I came across this list of various resources from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, for those of you not in the DC area and not used to acronym after acronym).

Tips on How to Cope with Violent and Traumatic Events

Did you notice the shift in the news over the weekend? Especially after Friday? I did.

Did you notice there was less about the lives lost and the lives permanently changed? Why are they not in the focus anymore?

What about people who have witnessed things that no one, no one, should ever have to witness?

Why are we not talking about depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental health issues? Because let's face it. There is a mental health side to violent and traumatic events. There are thousands of people, if not more, who directly or vicariously experienced trauma. Most people will be fine, but some people will not. To some extent, anxiety, fear, sadness, anger, and other emotions are normal reactions to abnormal events. There is a point, and this is a tricky point to identify, where emotions can start interfering with daily life. Let me reiterate that there is nothing wrong with needing extra help.

Why are we not talking about resilience, self-care, and coping skills?

Because we should be. Go back here for some tips on the road to resilience.

For helpers and healers, to challenge the present and embrace the future. That was from a church service several years ago. It is just as appropriate now.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Boston Marathon: How to Handle Traumatic Stress

So, yeah, about that Boston Marathon. There are many people who directly experienced the Boston Marathon bombings. There were many many more who indirectly experienced the non-stop news all week or the lockdowns in the Boston area on Friday.

What I am not seeing anywhere is information on how to cope with direct or indirect exposure to traumatic events. The good news is that most people directly or indirectly exposed to traumatic events will be perfectly fine. Resilience is common. People bounce back from traumatic events. We have already seen the city of Boston fall to its knees and stand up again.

But the bad news is that some people will need extra help coping with exposure, direct or indirect, to traumatic stress. There is a point where normal reactions stop being normal and traumatic events start interfering with your ability to function. There is nothing wrong with needing extra help.

Everyone reacts differently to events like this. It is normal to feel scared, anxious, confused, sad, dazed, shaken, or angry. Or nothing. Everyone copes differently. What works for one person may not work for someone else.

Here are some links on handling traumatic stress, courtesy of the American Psychological Association:

Tips on how much news coverage is too much for children, and also makes good points about how much is too much for adults

Managing traumatic stress

The road to resilience

I was initially worried about my own reaction to being in Boston, but so far, I have been remarkably OK. One person point blank asked me if I was traumatized, and I said no. Unequivocally no. Read below for why. These are strategies that work for me. Your mileage may vary.

Some of my stress-managing strategies

Reflected on what has worked in the past. I am unlucky or lucky, depending on how you look at it, that I've had experience with stressful and anxiety-provoking situations before, including a couple in Boston. I have a large toolbox of coping skills to draw on. Stress is stress. If you can handle it in one situation, you can transfer those skills to other situations.

Self-care. This is one of my main coping skills. Self-care can be as simple as going for a walk, having a cup of tea, doing something you enjoy, treating yourself to a little present, or anything that works for you.

Turn off the news. On Monday evening, I had zero desire to watch the news. Having a general idea of what had happened was good enough for me. I watched a little bit and checked periodically throughout the week, but I wasn't glued to the news.

Be careful with social media. Like the news, there were times when I had to step away. In particular, speculation and inaccuracies that were later corrected were too much.

Walked a labyrinth. There is a labyrinth at Boston College that I have walked on many times. There is a labyrinth in Washington, DC not too far from where I work. Labyrinths can be used as a tool for meditation. That's exactly what I used it for when I was back in DC.

Monitored myself. Although I was a few blocks away from the bombs, the facts that I didn't actually see them and didn't immediately know what was going on were very protective. That said, I knew there were certain things I had to look out for. Inability to concentrate, intrusive thoughts, lack of appetite, and trouble sleeping are classic anxiety symptoms for me. Thankfully, none of them surfaced (except for not being hungry on Monday, but that is totally understandable).

Wrote. Talked. I am blogging in part because writing is one of my ways of coping. And I gotta say, I felt like I was exactly where I needed to be when I returned to work. Not all of my coworkers knew I was in Boston to run the marathon, but the ones who did came by to check on me. All day. I have been wearing my marathon jacket, and random people asked me if I was there and whether I was OK. I have never experienced the kindness and compassion of total strangers like that before.

Learn. These are things I already know that have been confirmed by recent events. Have a plan, but adapt. There is light in the darkness. And one of the most important, learn where to put my energy. Some things are worth my energy. Others aren't. I am not going to put my energy into things that take a toll on me. It's not worth it.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Survivor Stone

A friend sent me a little Survivor stone a couple of years ago. I decided I was going to bring it along for the ride on my first marathon. I can't even remember why. It just seemed like an appropriate thing to have with me during a marathon. The stone has come along, tucked safely in a zippered pocket in my shorts, on all six of my marathons. It's gone 26.2 miles in New Orleans, Providence, Chicago, Virginia Beach, and Narragansett. And now Boston.

The stone was shiny. And then I tucked it in my pocket along with my keys on a 5K. The stone got very badly scratched. But that somehow seemed appropriate. The stone survived. It has helped me survive some difficult races. It reminds me of the journey. It changes. I change.

This scratched up stone comes along on all of my races. It took on a whole new layer of meaning after the Boston Marathon.

Boston Marathon: After the Marathon

2:50 pm. Still in the changing tent. There was a boom. It sounded like a cannon, or a very heavy truck going over a bump. At first, I thought it might be part of Patriots' Day. I couldn't tell where it came from.

Then there was another boom. Everyone started looking at each other, thinking this isn't right. This can't be good.

No. It wasn't right and it wasn't good.

Someone, I can't remember if it was a volunteer or a runner or someone else, said people were running. A volunteer told us to get out of the tent and leave. And go where? What was going on? Where was it? Were we heading towards it or away from it? What if there was another boom?

For the next 20 minutes or so, I was mostly unaware of what had happened. My #1 priority was finding my husband. I talked to him again (I had a missed call from him, so I knew he was OK) and he was on his way to meet me. It was surprisingly unchaotic, although no one really knew what was going on. I certainly didn't. Maybe that's why, so far, I feel like it hasn't been that traumatic. I never panicked. I hadn't seen anything. So thankful for that.

My husband found me in the family meeting area and we tried to figure out what to do. I just wanted to get the hell out of Boston as soon as possible. He was hungry. Emergency vehicles started heading toward the finish area. Ambulances. Police. We started walking in the opposite direction. At some point, I posted to Facebook that we were OK and called my parents. I already had tons of messages on my phone.

We popped into a crowded bar, saw the news of Explosions in Boston, and quickly left to find some other place to eat. We ended up at a Thai place that was mostly empty. I knew I needed to eat, but the last thing I wanted to do was eat. I managed to have a couple bites of vegetables and a cup of hot tea. But my stomach, which had been unsettled in the last few miles, just couldn't take more than that.

We walked a few more blocks to South Station to take the commuter train home. I have never appreciated Rhode Island as much as I did that day.

I keep wondering what if?

What if I ran slower? What if I had gotten injured?

What if my ankle decided to hurt during the marathon and I was somewhere out on the course? This was a big calculated risk, even before I stepped over the start line.

What if the bombs went off earlier? I ran within yards of both bombs. I will never know if they were already there when I ran by. I will never know if I had seen the people who dropped those bombs.

What if something had happened to my husband? Because he was out watching me run a marathon?

What if I didn't have a missed call from my husband after the bombs went off, so that I knew he was OK? What if we hadn't easily met up?

What if I didn't have my phone, or my battery wasn't fully charged when I left in the morning?

What if there were more bombs?

What if I didn't know my way around Boston and knew exactly where I was? What if I didn't know that I could walk to South Station to catch the commuter train home, instead of Back Bay closer to the finishing area?

What if. Those questions don't have answers.

The "what if" questions almost don't matter. People often talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I was in the right places at the right times. For all the things that could have gone wrong, not one of them did. I am so grateful and thankful for that.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Boston Marathon: Mile by Mile Recap

This post is going to cover the 2013 Boston Marathon up to 2:50 pm.

Up until that point, I had an incredibly positive and fun experience with the Boston Marathon. I want people to know that. I want people to know that the spectators and the volunteers, every single one of them, were fantastic. I owe the spectators in particular more than I can ever say.

As a caveat, I am a Boston College alumna. That certainly influences how I experienced the Boston Marathon. I already knew the excitement and joyousness of Patriots' Day and Marathon Monday firsthand. I had been there twice as a student. There is a tremendous amount of energy around Patriots' Day and the marathon.

My day started at 4 am. Woke up, had coffee and breakfast, slathered on sunscreen and Body Glide, got dressed, and headed out the door to catch a commuter train up to Boston.

All in for Boston. The Boston College Superfan shirt was a very wise choice.
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While I was waiting for the train, I chatted with some people about the marathon. The conductor saw my marathon bag and gave me a free ride. Totally not expecting that. I looked at the course map, watched a pretty sunrise, and tried to keep myself calm.

I got off the train in Back Bay at around 6:35, near the finishing area, and then walked to the bus loading area at Boston Common. The lines for the bus were disorganized, but I was warm and everyone was heading to the same place. All roads led to Hopkinton. I chatted with a lady from California on the line and on the bus.

I got to the runners village at about 9am. Got in line for a porta-potty. Then dropped off my bag and started heading to the start line. I didn't have much time to hang around, which is probably a good thing. There are so many people and everything is so far away that you need a lot of time to get from place to place.

Start corrals this way
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No stopping Monday
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The porta-potties closer to the start had no lines. I literally walked right into one. I heard the national anthem. Then Wave 1 went off. Finally it was time for Wave 2 runners to start heading to the corrals. And wait just a little while longer.

Here we go. This is the only picture I have of the marathon.
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Mile 1-2 - Hopkinton - I had a giant smile in the first few miles. I was running Boston! The early miles are in the middle of nowhere, but I was pleasantly surprised by the crowd support. People cheered me, "Go BC!" the whole way. It was incredible. I knew I had to be mindful of not going out too fast because 1) the first mile is mostly downhill and my pace was going to be off 2) I was going to be around runners who would be running much faster than me and 3) I really didn't know what was going to happen to my ankle.

Mile 3-4 - Ashland - Much the same as Hopkinton. Good crowd support. Mostly downhill. Go BC.

Mile 5-7 - Framingham - The course flattened out around this point. I started noticing that spectators were giving out all sorts of things. Water. Ice. Twizzlers. Tissues. Ice pops. Oranges. Sponges. If you ever needed something, someone had it.

Mile 8-11 - Natick - Still going pretty good. Cruising along and having fun. There was one isolated stretch where I almost pulled out my iPod. But then the crowds picked up again and I didn't need it. I actually ran the entire marathon without music.

The first 11 miles and the towns of Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, and Natick ticked away easily. And then I started slowing down and taking walk breaks. I was getting twinges in my right quad. The downhills in the first half wreck your quads if you aren't prepared. I've had massive quad failures before. That's not fun. Thankfully, the quad twinges never got worse than just twinges. Thankfully, I had banked plenty of wiggle room time and didn't really care if I slowed down.

Mile 12-15 - Wellesley - The Wellesley College scream tunnel was fun. The Wellesley girls have posters with "Kiss me I'm ..." Kiss me I'm a New Yawker. Kiss me I'm a scientist. Downtown Wellesley was full of people. I really loved the crowd support. Hit the halfway point at 1:51.

Mile 16 - Newton - Eagle coming home!! 5 miles to Boston College. This was where the course started getting hard. I saw my running buddies somewhere around this point. They were so excited for me! Just what I needed.

Mile 17-19 - The turn onto Commonwealth Ave. and then the hills. Oh, the hills. They are no joke. Walking is OK. Just put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward.

Mile 20 - Heartbreak Hill - I made a point of not stopping on Heartbreak Hill. Because I knew what was less than a mile away ...

Mile 21 - Boston College - My favorite part!! I cannot tell you how amazing it was to run past BC and hear so many cheers for me. The BC kids went nuts! "Go BC!" "Go Eagles!" "Go Superfan!" It was waaaay better than the Wellesley scream tunnel. The Heartbreak was over. Mostly downhill all the way into Boston.

Mile 22-23 - Brookline. Cleveland Circle and Beacon Street. Tons of crowds. Lots of cheers. You could see the skyscrapers in downtown Boston and the Citgo sign if you looked carefully. They looked so far away. I was hurting. Not excruciatingly hurting. Not the worst hurting in a marathon I've had before. But hurting. My lower back hurt. My quads were still twingy. My ankle ... was totally fine. Thank goodness.

Mile 24 - Coolidge Corner - Large crowds. The Citgo sign suddenly started to look closer.

Mile 25 - Kenmore Square. Welcome to Boston. Passed the Citgo sign with 1 mile to go. Looked at my Garmin and knew that I had less than a minute of wiggle room left. Go. Now.

Mile 26 - Right turn onto Hereford Street. Left turn onto Boylston Street. Less than a half mile to go. Go. Go. Go. Crowds and cheers everywhere. Finish line in sight.

Mile 26.2 - I had been on the right side of the course for the entire marathon but switched to the left side just before the finish line. The clock for my wave was on the left side. Crossed the finish line at 3:59:20, 40 seconds under my 4-hour goal. I cut it close, but I made it. Sweet. I was a Boston Marathon finisher. Double sweet.

Unofficial Garmin time and medal
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I walked slowly to collect water, a heat blanket, my medal, a protein bar, Gatorade, a bag of snacks, and a banana. Then I went to the bag busses to get my bag and my extra set of clothes. I talked to my husband and headed toward the changing tent and exit.

By that time, it was 2:50 pm. I was in the changing tent. Warm dry clothes and Adidas sandals never felt so good.

Monday, April 15, 2013

For Boston

Finished. All are safe and sound. Out of Boston.

That's all I really want to say. I am so incredibly sickened and sad by this whole thing. Thoughts and prayers to everyone involved.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Boston Marathon Expo

Hello, Boston Marathon Expo.
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I drove to the expo. On the downside, it was probably a mistake because the traffic was horrendous due to street closures. On the plus side, I drove a few miles of the course and got to see mile/kilometer markers painted on the road. That was good. I liked this sign on a Massachusetts state police vehicle. The tape says Boston Marathon.
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The expo was crowded. Really crowded. Make sure you allot plenty of time and go with room in your stomach. There were samples everywhere. Frozen kefir, yogurt, drinks, bars, snacks, you name it. Brooks had spaghetti. By the time I got there, I was tired and not hungry at all.

I had 3 things I wanted to buy: a Boston Marathon jacket, Yurbuds, and Nuun. Check, check, and check. The only thing I bought that wasn't on my list was a pint glass. Every running vendor you could think of was there.

Here's all the stuff in the swag bag and the stuff I bought, plus the Runner Passport on a lanyard (new this year), official program, poster, my bib, and a picture from Brooks. The poster has every runner's name on it. Nice.
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I bought some cherry limeade and watermelon Nuun, and so I got 2 Boston Marathon Nuun water bottles. Score! I needed a new water bottle.
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This Sam Adams bottle opener was in the swag bag. The 26.2 sticker was nice too.
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One more day til Marathon Monday!!

Boston Training: All Wrapped Up

If you have been following my training, it's no secret that this training cycle hasn't exactly gone the way I planned. I didn't do speedwork, limit alcohol, stay injury-free, train on hills, do consistent lower body strength training, or race much. I never even created a spreadsheet to track my mileage. I didn't have the base mileage, speed, or endurance I had in the past. Or the motivation. Motivation plays a bigger role than you would imagine.

I've used Hal Higdon's Intermediate 1 in the past, but I chose Novice 1 for a variety of reasons. If you follow Novice 1 plan perfectly, you end up running about 470 miles, including the marathon. I am going to cap out with about 440 miles. Not as bad as I thought but not terribly close either. A year ago, past me held just over an 8 minute pace for 26.2 miles. Present me has no idea how past me did that. Present me cannot do that. Boston is not going to be a fast (well, fast compared to past me) or pretty marathon. It is really going to depend on how my ankle holds up. The great unknown.

When I started out, I was just coming back from tendonitis in my right ankle. Pesky tendons. I probably tried to come back from an injury too quickly. Or I changed my form to compensate for my injured right foot. Which eventually put a strain on my left foot. I'm sure running on too many hills or running too much on hard/uneven surfaces didn't help either.

I have a feeling not training on hills and lack of lower body strength training are going to come back and haunt me at Boston. Looking at the course elevation chart, Boston does not look like a difficult course. It is net downhill. Yet the elevation chart is deceptive. I have ran on the Wellesley-Newton stretch where most of the hills are, including Heartbreak. Those hills in and of themselves are not that big of a deal. It's just that there is a succession of hills, and Heartbreak is at a mentally difficult point in the course.

I have time goals I would like to hit, but I really don't know if they are realistic. I will not be upset if I don't hit the time goal. But then again, I have enough marathon experience to draw on and I'm not going to aim for a goal that is totally out of reach. Such as 3:35 (still my BQ qualifying time) or a PR (under 3:31:02). There is zero chance either of those will happen at Boston.

When I started drafting this training recap, it was a lot more negative. The last few weeks actually went pretty well. I had a solid 20-mile run, much better than I anticipated. My speed has improved. For the most part, my left foot has cooperated. My motivation came back. Good. That makes me feel more confident about Boston. As we all know, confidence is priceless.

I also have one big advantage. I am very familiar with the last 5 miles of the course. Those miles are often the toughest stretch in any marathon. I know it is all downhill once you get past Heartbreak Hill and Boston College. I am looking forward to that part the most. Forget the Wellesley girls. I want to see my BC Eagles cheer me on. I want to turn onto Beacon Street and see downtown Boston off in the distance. I want to run through Coolidge Corner with about 2 miles to go. I want to pass near Fenway Park. I want to see the Citgo sign in Kenmore Square and know there is 1 mile to go. I want to cross the finish line on Boylston Street. I can visualize all of these places because I've been to all of them. Multiple times.

And you better believe I will sing For Boston (the BC fight song) when I reach the top of Heartbreak Hill. I've done that before too. Multiple times.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Boston Training Week 18

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 3 and 4 miles, cross-train, rest, run 2 miles, rest, and then the marathon. I made some adjustments to account for a Monday marathon. I have never ran an Monday marathon before, but a day or two has never thrown me off in the past.

Third and final week of taper. OK, you 2 mile run, really? REALLY? That's just not worth getting sweaty for.

I should probably ease up on strength training and leg work. Oops. Didn't really do that in the first 2 weeks of taper.

Sunday - Yoga for Runners DVD. Outside. Yay!

Monday - 3.8 mile run outside. In shorts, short sleeve shirt, and sunglasses. Sweet. Apparently my recent increase in speed is sticking around.

Tuesday - Core work, pushups, calf raises, squats, lunges, and foam rolling in the AM. Only did 2 sets instead of my usual 3 of the leg work. 4.6 mile run in the PM to see the cherry blossoms. 'Cause, you know, that's what you do in DC. Especially when you are in DC on the day the cherry blossoms peak. Pace was good, especially given that it was 85 degrees and I stopped a lot. R2 (the Garmin) told me I stopped for about 20 minutes total to take pictures, look at the Jefferson Memorial and Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and avoid running into tourists.

Wednesday - 2 miles walking on the treadmill, plus upper body strength training, clamshell planks, planks, and foam rolling. Had to adjust my workout plan at the last minute. Long story as to how I couldn't access my gym. Good thing I showered the night before and keep a stash of baby wipes and dry shampoo in my desk at work.

Thursday - Rest. And travel! Racecation time.

Friday - 8 mile run. Longer and faster than it should have been. Not the short easy run I had planned. Long story but the moral is don't lose your key while out on the run. On the plus side, I now know the effects of adrenaline very clearly. Adrenaline is an amazing thing.

Saturday - 3.7 mile run. Easy pace. Found the lost key, thanks to a community lost and found box. And a trip to Boston to pick up my race packet. This just got real.

Sunday - Rest.

Monday - Marathon Monday. Stay tuned, folks.

Total Miles: 46.2 (including the yet unran marathon)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Boston Marathon Playlist

It's that time to pull my marathon playlist together. The more and more I think about it, I may not even run with my iPod. But we'll see. It will be a marathon-eve or gameday decision.

I take my playlist from my previous marathon, cut any song that I didn't like during the race or am just tired off, add new songs, and pick some songs that are location-specific. King of New Orleans made on my playlist for New Orleans. Ocean songs made it onto my playlist for Virginia Beach.

Here are some new editions. I've been on an 80s kick, thanks to the Depeche Mode station on Pandora.

Ellie Goulding - Lights
Information Society - What's On Your Mind (Pure Energy)
Linkin Park - Burn It Down
Talk Talk - Life's What You Make It
Bruno Mars - Locked Out of Heaven
Christina Aguilera - Your Body
Rihanna - Diamonds

The Boston-specific song are an interesting mix. If I could live anywhere, I would live in Boston. Hands down. Despite that, I have a love-hate relationship with Boston. See, I have an ex-boyfriend who, as far as I know, is in Boston. Things between us didn't end well at all. I am going back to Boston College this summer for a college reunion. There are some events around this time of year that are kicking up old memories. Physically being in Boston, especially in April, magnifies all of that. Having said that, the ex-boyfriend and anything that reminds me of him motivate me to run harder, not give up, push through discomfort, and I am stronger than I ever imagined. So there will be Boston songs, Boston College songs, bad relationship songs, and anything that helped me get through the 2007-2008 academic year (related to dealing with the ex-boyfriend). Bring it, Boston.

Dropkick Murphys - I'm Shipping Up to Boston (was already on my playlist from Shamrock/Gansett)
Seal - Fly like an Eagle (Go Boston College Eagles!)
Taylor Swift - We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
Switchfoot - Dare You to Move
Nine Inch Nails - The Hand That Feeds
Pearl Jam - Evenflow (live from Boston May 2006 ... yes, I was there)
The Standells - Dirty Water (played at the end of Boston Red Sox games)
Foo Fighters - The Pretender
Nine Inch Nails & Carley Rae Jepson - Call Me A Hole - I cannot even tell you how brilliant this mash-up is. It is NIN's vocals with the instrumentals/beat from Call Me Maybe. Dark lyrics with an upbeat tune? Perfect for Boston.
Foo Fighters - Best of You
Katy Perry - Part of Me (already on my playlist from Gansett, but also fits with the bad relationship theme)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Boston Training Week 17

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 4 and 6 miles, cross-train, rest, run 3 miles, and 8 mile long run.

Second week of taper. OK, you 3 mile run, what is that? This is a predictable point where I see 3 mile runs again and I want to run more.

So far, so good with taper. No taper crazies yet. No random aches and pains.

Sunday - Rest. Oops.

Monday - 4.4 miles outside. Windy but otherwise comfortable. I do so enjoy being able to run on the National Mall whenever I want to. Don't enjoy the tourists so much, but the Mall is nice.

Tuesday - 6.4 miles on the treadmill in the AM. Squats, lunges, calf raises, core work, and foam rolling in the PM.

Wednesday - 36 minutes on the bike, plus upper body strength training, clamshell planks, planks, and foam rolling.

Thursday - Rest.

Friday - 3.8 mile run outside. It was damp but not raining and not too cold. I went zoom fast. Well, relatively fast.

Saturday - 8.4 mile long run. Second long run in a row in a skirt. Second long run in a row running up a hill at the end. I went zoom fast again. First time running 7 mile in an hour in a long time. And probably my first sub-8 mile of this training cycle. Woo! Also walked about 2.5 miles in Washington, DC being a tourist.

Total Miles: 23

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Boston Training Week 16

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 5 and 8 miles, cross-train, rest, run 4 miles, and 12 mile long run.

First week of taper. I'm sure I'll be sinking into taper madness in a week or two, but for now I am enjoying taper. Usually I get phantom aches and pains (although those don't start til 2-3 weeks into taper), but at least for now everything is good. Even the pesky ankle. Some of my speed is coming back too. I'm not sure if it's an artifact of taper or I really am getting faster, but I'll take it.

Sunday - Yoga DVD, plus squats, lunges, lower back, pushups, and calf raises.

Monday - 5.3 miles outside in the snow. Let it be duly noted that I busted out the Yaktrax for the first time this winter. On March 25.

Tuesday - 8.2 miles on the treadmill. With mileage ramping down, I got to sleep a little later. Yay. And then went for a walk for about 1.5 miles to visit the Supreme Court at lunch. Because I could. And then did planks, clamshell planks, and abs in the evening.

Wednesday - 40 minutes on the bike, plus upper body strength training, obliques with a medicine ball, and foam rolling.

Thursday - Rest.

Friday - 4.3 mile run outside. Didn't even need my reflective gear, since I started a little later than usual and the sun is rising earlier.

Saturday - 13.2 mile long run. Was planning on 12 miles, but the weather was nice and I was enjoying being out on a run. I even lost a couple miles where I was off in lala land. Tested out my Under Armour Boston College Superfan shirt. I bought this shirt a year ago and hadn't even cut the tags off. It was now or never to see if it was a possibility for the Boston Marathon. Superfan shirt is a go.

Total Miles: 31

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Boston Training Week 15

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 5 and 10 miles, cross-train, rest, run 5 miles, and 20 mile long run.

Peak week. I haven't ran that much in nearly a year. 40 miles between me and taper. Sweet sweet taper and then the Boston Marathon. Assuming my ankle holds out. At this point, I am pretty sure it will.

Sunday - Yoga DVD, plus core work, pushups, clamshell planks, squats, lunges, and calf raises. Whew. That was a lot.

Monday - 5.3 mile run outside in light snow. Snow that doesn't stick is the kind of snow I like to run in. Makes it pretty but doesn't really interfere.

Tuesday - 10.2 miles on the treadmill. Booya, baby. Ran the first half with no music. Ankle felt twingy a couple of times but held up well.

Wednesday - 45 minutes on the bike, plus upper body lifting, planks, and foam rolling.

Thursday - Rest.

Friday - 5.3 mile run. Outside. In the cold. Pace was good, though. Yay.

Saturday - 20.2 miles in Rock Creek Park. Made of win. It was my longest AND fastest run of this training cycle. The weather was clear but chilly when I started. I actually started a little later than usual so it would warm up. Boston has a relatively late start, so starting your long run later is a good idea anyway. I dressed for the temperature later in my run, so I was cold at the beginning. Ran the first mile as a warm-up. In the 8:40s. Are you kidding?? I am in no shape to run 20 miles in the 8:40s. However, what I usually do on long runs is see where the pace falls in the first few miles and go from there. Maybe 8:40-8:50s was where this run was going to be. Took off my jacket at mile 4. I had planned a refuel and bathroom break around mile 5-6. I stopped to fill up my water bottles, eat some pretzels, and drop off my hat as well. Busted out the music at mile 12. Ran all the way down the path to the Kennedy Center on the banks of the Potomac River, then turned around to head back to my starting point. Pace was still in the 8:40s. Hmmm. There was a very cold wind once I turned around. I was glad I still had my arm sleeves and put them on and took them off as necessary. Stopped with about 2.5 miles to go to fill up one of my water bottles. The last few miles were tough. My hips were sore and I was getting bored. But I kept thinking about the Boston Marathon. Envisioned the course. Practiced my mantras. Tougher now. Smarter now. Yes I can. I finished in the high 8:30s. I have no idea how! This run was exactly what I needed going into taper. I am not as confident as I was going into Shamrock, but I'm feeling a lot better after today's run. Confidence is priceless.

Total Miles: 41

Hello, sweet taper. Nice to meet up with you again.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Boston Training Week 14

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 5 and 9 miles, cross-train, rest, run 5 miles, and 14 mile long run.

Last stepback week before one final push forward and then taper. Yikes.

I have reached that stage where I want to eat everything that isn't nailed down. I am hungry all. the. time. And yet I still managed to drop a couple pounds. Good, because I was hanging on to them from being injured last year. This is pretty typical of me at this point in marathon training, though. I am one of those weirdos who lose weight while marathon training. Clearly I am not eating enough. C'mer, food, get in ma belly.

Sunday - Rest. Unless yard work counts as exercise. I battled against mofo rogue vines and I won. Those were some nasty vines. They were entangled in fences, trees, and other plants. The vines made me fall on my butt on the ground. But I won, rouge vines. I won.

Monday - I usually run in the AM, but I decided to take advantage of decent weather, extra daylight, and the National Mall and run in the evening. Ran from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial and back. Niiice. Would have been even nicer if my ankle had cooperated better.

Tuesday - 1 hour 20 minutes on the elliptical. I was going to bike, but one bike at the gym was broken and the other was occupied. Notice the lack of a 9 mile run. Eh. Ankle wasn't really feeling a longish run. Now is not the time to push it.

Wednesday - 5.3 miles on the treadmill (relatively pain-free), plus upper body strength training, oblique work with a medicine ball, and foam rolling.

Thursday - Rest. Extra sleep. Aaahhh.

Friday - 5.3 mile run outside. In partial darkness. I actually do like seeing the sun rise, although I wish I had a better route that wasn't so noisy. Chilly and relatively slow, but ankle pretty much cooperated. Yay.

Saturday - 14.2 mile run. The weather was supposed to be rainy and cold but turned out pretty decent. Ankle turned out pretty decent too. Pace was good and I took fewer breaks (only to cross streets) than last week.

Total Miles: 30 on the nose.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Boston Bound

Bib numbers and wave/corral assignments were posted earlier this week.

I got an odd-numbered bib AND a bib containing a 7 yet again. Chicago, Shamrock, Gansett, and a small 5K were odd-numbered bibs with 7s (and all PRs, by the way). Add Boston to that list, although I know Boston will be nowhere near a PR.

That marks 4 consecutive marathons with odd-numbered bibs containing the number 7. Honestly, people, I cannot make this stuff up. The odds of that happening are very, very small. A good sign? I hope so.

Maybe, just maybe, I am starting to get excited about the Boston Marathon. Less than 5 weeks to go ...

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Boston Training Week 13

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 4 and 9 miles, cross-train, rest, run 5 miles, and 18 mile long run.

Here we go again. Mini peak week. Actual peak week is in 2 weeks.

Sunday - about an hour of yoga, plus calf raises and squats.

Monday - 4.2 miles outside. Cold and windy.

Tuesday - 9.3 mile run. Nothing like banging out a 15K before work.

Wednesday - Upper body strength training with a resistance band, pushups, planks, clamshell planks, and squats.

Thursday - Rest.

Friday - 5.2 mile run. Outside. The first 2 miles or so were in a snow flurry. Pretty stuff.

Saturday - 18.2 miles. I made it! Woohoo. Ankle was somewhat achy but was better than it has been on other runs. I stopped a bunch of times, including about 4.5 miles in to change out of my cold gear clothes and into something cooler. Pace was decent and I even managed to run negative splits and run to Virginia (Ave.). I needed a good run after some of the runs I've had recently. I got it. I am reasonably confident that I WILL make it to Boston and I WILL cross the finish line. I had my doubts for a while. Just another 5 weeks.

Total Miles: 36.9

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Volta a Cidade 6K Race Recap

Cross off run an international road race off of my running bucket list.

I ran the Volta a Cidade 6K race in Funchal, Portugal over the Christmas holidays. I'd link to the race website, but it is all in Portuguese.

Never heard of Funchal? Most people haven't. How about Madeira Island? Most people on this side of the Atlantic haven't heard of that either. Funchal is the main city on Madeira Island in the Atlantic. But I bet you have heard of Madeira wine. Mmmm, Madeira wine.

This is Madeira. I like it so very much. It also doesn't hurt that the temperature is between 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. It is very mountainous but also very pretty.
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Volta a Cidade roughly means "tour of the city." What a nice tour of the city we had. The race started at 8pm. Running at night! Cool. It was a few days after Christmas, so all of the Christmas lights were up. Funchal does a good job of decorating for Christmas. Colored lights in trees. Lit up snowmen, presents, and angels. A big Nativity display. Booths selling food, drinks, and other things.

The entry fee was 5 euros (about $7). It was a no-brainer even-if-I-have-to-walk-this-is-still-a-bargain decision to enter the race. I was not in racing shape. Or, I was not even close to the racing shape I was in a year ago. I didn't really have a time goal (other than around 30 minutes). It was going to be an instant PR in a distance that I will never run again.

It was chip timed but only by gun time. I estimated I lost about 45 seconds just to get to the start line. There weren't a lot of women. I'd say the split was 90% men and 10% women. For a very mountainous area, the course was pretty flat. Most of it near Funchal's crescent-shaped harbor. Part of the race is on cobblestone streets. You have to be very careful when running on cobblestones. Especially if you are coming back from an injury.

I snuck in a just barely under my 30-minute goal. Yay. Go me.

If you ever find yourself in Funchal after Christmas, run this race. This was a really fun experience. For 5 euros, you really can't go wrong. Everyone got a T-shirt and a medal. I wasn't even expecting a T-shirt, no less a medal as well. I liked running through the streets with all of the Christmas lights up. I would definitely run this race again.

None of these pictures are actually from the race, but many are along the course.

Street decorations
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Angels in front of the cathedral
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Lit-up trees. Pretty sure this actually was on the course.
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Booths and lights
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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Boston Training Week 12

My plan for the week was cross train, run 4 and 8 miles, cross train, rest, 5 and 12 mile long run.

Another stepback week. Oops, I just had one of those.

I think I am doing better with backing off a bit while still trying to get halfway decent training in. It is a delicate balance. Compression socks/sleeves and the treadmill are helping.

Sunday - About an hour of yoga, plus a lot of walking at Mount Vernon (George Washington's house) and around Old Town in Alexandria, VA.

Monday - 4.6 mile run. Outside.

Tuesday - 8.5 miles on the treadmill. No ankle pain. Ran 6 miles, then took a beak to reset the treadmill and fill my water bottle. Finally got to the gym early enough to get a full workout in before work. Did core work, lunges, pushups, and calf raises in the PM.

Wednesday - 45 minutes on the bike, plus upper body lifting.

Thursday - Rest.

Friday - 5.2 mile run. Outside. Didn't even need my reflective vest or too much cold weather gear.

Saturday - 12.2 mile long run. Surprisingly cold, but it's all good because I had the right layers. Ran the first 4 miles relatively slow, then dropped the pace for the last 8. I even had a few miles in the middle where I felt good about my pace and really enjoyed being out on a run. That hasn't happened in a very long time.

Total Miles: 30.5

2/3 done with training. 6 weeks to go!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Boston Training: Halfway Update

Or a little bit more than halfway there ...

It's a good thing I didn't get this thing posted 9 weeks into training, because it would have been a whole lot more negative.

When I get halfway through a marathon training cycle, I like to look around, see where I've been, and assess where I am.

This cycle is far different from any other marathon training cycle. Being injured and not running for 5 months meant that I just couldn't pick up where I left off. My speed and endurance are pretty much nonexistent. My average pace is about 45 seconds per mile slower than where I was a year ago. My average weekly mileage is significantly lower. I am not doing speedwork of any kind. I have to be really careful about the foot that wasn't injured so that I don't injure myself again. There are days when I am not sure that I am going to make it to Boston.

A year ago, I was running my fastest times ever. I already had stellar 19- and 20-mile runs under my belt. I trained farther and faster and it was paying off. I smashed my marathon PR in a near-perfect marathon at Shamrock, ran an incredibly similar time at the Gansett Marathon 4 weeks later, AND set a 5K PR on a decently challenging course.

I am no longer that runner.

I had a goal. Qualify for Boston. Well, I did that. Twice. What happens after that?

You have to be really really really motivated to train for and run a marathon. I think I lost a lot of the motivation to run a marathon after I wasn't coming back from being injured.

I am not at the same place I was a year ago. And not just in running. I have a job and a house and a new place to explore. Training for a marathon just isn't high on the list of priorities right now.

Having said all of that, I need to stop comparing myself now to myself then. I can't put in the mileage volume I would like to, but I will do the best I can. I am beginning to see the value of running for fun. As long as I stay uninjured, I will find a way to cross the finish line in Boston. Hello, motivation?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Boston Training Week 11

My plan for the week was cross train, run 4 and 8 miles, cross train, rest, 4 and 16 mile long run.

I decided early in the week that the 16 mile long run just was not going to happen. I was too busy. The weather wasn't great. I had a cold for most of the week. Normally, time, weather, and colds do not interfere with my training schedule. This was scrapping a run to stave off an injury.

I had a moment of insight on yesterday's run where I think I am finally OK with letting go of any goal I had for Boston. I realized that I can't train the way I could in the past, but that doesn't have to stop me from training for fun and running a marathon for fun. Maybe I'll wear a Boston College Superfan T-shirt to the marathon. Yes, I have an Under Armour Superfan T-shirt. Maybe I'll hunt down one of those headbands with eagles on it (BC's mascot is an eagle). That could be fun. It was the first time in a long time where I thought about the marathon and wasn't dreading it.

Besides, don't you get more for your entry fee buck if you stay out on the course longer?

I took it kinda easy this week. I stumbled into few discoveries: I need to run more on the treadmill (because the incline is controlled and the surface is softer), inclines bother my foot more than declines (which would explain why my 2 regular long run routes bother me more on the way back ... they follow creeks and are slightly downhill on the way out and slightly uphill on the way back), and running in compression socks/sleeves helps. Now I just need to get more compression gear.

Sunday - Rest. Kinda. I think running up and down my stairs all day moving boxes and putting things away counts as exercise.

Monday - 4.4 mile run. Outside. Felt the beginnings of a cold coming on.

Tuesday - 4.2 miles on the treadmill, plus upper body lifting.

Wednesday - Rest. Usually I don't make adjustments for being sick, but I'm already not sticking to my schedule that carefully and just wasn't feeling the need to push it.

Thursday - 1 hour on the bike. Got to the gym really early before work. I really need to get my own hairdryer to bring with me. The ones in the gym take forever and it's cutting into my workout time.

Friday - 4.6 mile run. Outside. Didn't even need a light. Oh, that will change in a few weeks, but I'll take it for now. The cold was wrapping up too. It was nice to breathe again.

Saturday - 6.5 mile run outside in cold misty rain. A little chilly, but I was dressed appropriately. Not the 16 miles on my training schedule. It was what my body could handle and actually it was nice to go out and run whatever I felt like. No pressure. No pushing it.

Total Miles:19.7

Monday, February 18, 2013

Boston Training Week 10

My plan for the week was cross train, run 3 and 7 miles, cross train, rest, 4 mile run and 15 mile long run.

Sunday - one hour yoga of Yoga for Runners.

Monday - 3.8 mile run. Outside.

Tuesday - 60 minutes on the bike in the AM. Core work and clamshell planks in the PM.

Wednesday - 4.6 mile run outside in the AM. Upper body strength training, calf raises, and clamshell planks at lunch.

Thursday - Rest.

Friday - 35 minutes on the bike, plus chest exercises and clamshells.

Saturday - 15 mile run. Ran later than I usually do. The first 9 miles were fine. The last 6, not so much.

Total Miles: 23.4

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Boston Training Week 9

My plan for the week was cross train, run 3 and 7 miles, cross train, rest, 4 and 10 mile run.

Halfway there. Another stepback week.

What do you not see a lot of in my recap below? Running. We've been down this path before. Sigh.

I am pretty sure it's Achilles tendonitis. In my other foot. The injured one is doing just fine now. Go figure.
The silver lining of being injured last year is that I recognized this pretty quickly and I know what to do. Back off, cross-train, take anti-inflammatory meds, ice, foam roll my calves, stretch, and be very very careful.

But I have no idea what causes it. That weird pain in my foot that occured just after Christmas? Jumping up mileage too quickly? Too much running outside on uneven surfaces? Running on slippery surfaces? Any and all the things just mentioned?

At least this time I have 8-9 weeks of training under my belt. I still have time to do what I need to do and still be able to cross the finish line in Boston. That's what I hope, at least.

Sunday - one hour yoga podcasts, plus calf raises and squats.

Monday - 35 minutes on the bike, plus upper body lifting, clamshell planks, core work, and foam rolling.

Tuesday - Pushups, foam rolling, and attempted lunges (attempted because I only made it one set) in the AM. 32 minutes on the bike in the PM, plus planks, clamshell planks, and oblique work with a medicine ball.

Wednesday - 60 minutes on the bike.

Thursday - Rest.

Friday - 4.6 miles. Outside. In cold rain. It wasn't that bad, actually. Ankle felt a little cranky but was otherwise OK.

Saturday - 10.2 miles. Very windy. Relatively slow. Eh. It is what it is. I got it done and wasn't hurting too much afterwards.

Total Miles: 14.8. Stepback week indeed.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Boston Training Week 8

My plan for the week was cross train, run 3 and 6 miles, cross train, rest, rest and 13.1 mile race.

The 13.1 mile race was not going to happen. One, no races this time of year. Two, I am not racing Boston. One of the purposes of a half marathon race is to test your fitness. Yeah, I kinda know where I am already. I know how to pace myself.

I need to keep reminding myself that I need to roll my calves daily. Not once or twice a week. Not when I remember. Every day. Even if my calves are not tight. That's exactly how to keep them loose.

Sunday - two 20-minute yoga podcasts, plus calf raises and squats.

Monday - Pushups and lunges in the AM. 3.8 miles on the treadmill in the PM. And lots of foam rolling.

Tuesday - 32 minutes on the elliptical, plus upper body strength training, clamshell planks, core work, and foam rolling.

Wednesday - 6.3 mile run. Outside. In the AM. In a short sleeve T-shirt and light capris. I was hot! In January!

Thursday - Rest.

Friday - 35 minutes on the elliptical. My ankle was bugging me, so cross-training was in order.

Saturday - 13.1 mile run. Cold, but I was dressed appropriately.

Total Miles: 23.2

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Boston Training Week 7

My plan for the week was cross train, run 3 and 6 miles, cross train, rest, and run 3 and 12 miles.

I think it is worth noting that anyone who thinks moving (by yourself) is not exercise has never attempted to do it. I also think the last time I moved, I said I was going to hire professional movers the next time. Why I thought it was a good idea to not hire professional movers yet again, I do not know. I haven't even tried to move furniture yet. It's not too late to hire movers, right?

On a training note, I usually create a spreadsheet with my training plan. What can I say? I like data and numbers. I have yet to do that this time around. So far, I am working off of a photocopy of the Novice 1 marathon training plan from Hal Higdon's marathon training book. I look at the plan one week at a time. Maybe I'll get around to making a spreadsheet. Or not.

Sunday - All of Christine Felstead's Yoga for Runners intermediate program DVD. The part I skipped last week was mostly stretching. Now I know why pigeon pose feels so good.

Monday - 6.2 miles on the treadmill, plus core work and lunges.

Tuesday - 3.5 miles outside. Cold. Probably the coldest day so far this winter. Ran by time instead of distance because it was dark, I couldn't see my Garmin display too well, and I ran on a new route. At least it was reasonably flat, or whatever reasonably flat in the DC area means.

Wednesday - Clamshell planks, pushups, and calf raises in the AM. 30 minutes on the elliptical at lunch. Not really a fan of needing to shower at lunchtime. It didn't leave enough time for exercising.

Thursday - Rest.

Friday - 3.8 miles outside. In the cold. A little faster than Tuesday, plus I got to see some pretty clouds on the horizon.

Saturday - 12.2 miles in Rock Creek Park. We got about an inch of snow overnight on Friday. The roads in the park were clear. Although the paths in the park had some snow on them, the snow had been trampled down and some of it melted. I ran a little slower than usual, but it was warranted given the conditions. My hips were a bit sore at the end. This is a post-injury distance PR. Some creaks should be expected.

Total Miles: 25.7

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Costco for the Win

It's been a while since I have sung the praises of Costco workout gear. That's because it disappeared for a while. Trust me. I looked every time I went.

The reversible yoga pants are back. I still love my black and gray pairs. I may or may not have worn the black ones to work occasionally (and got compliments!). They are every bit as good as the Lululemon versions at a fraction of the cost. $19.99 vs. $98? Right. One pair of Costco pants more than makes my annual membership fee to Costco worth it.

The jackets are back too, apparently both online and in the warehouse. I still like the one I got last year, but I actually think this year's jacket is better. Here's why:

1. It has little reflective strips on the cuffs and on the back. Still has the thumbholes and cuff mittens.
2. It has a zippered pocket on one of the sleeves, in addition to two other zippered pockets.
3. It is longer and not as tight as last year's jacket. Covers my bum and keeps it warm ;-)
4. It has a double zipper. I am not sure what the technical term is, but there are 2 zipper pulls on the main zipper. Which is good if you want the jacket partially zippered from somewhere other than the bottom of the jacket.
5. Still $24.99. The Lululemon equivalent is about $100.

I got the reddish pink jacket because there was a blueish teal one too close to last year's jacket, I didn't need another black jacket, and I liked the reddish pink more than the purplish one. If I am going to wear this in the winter, I am going to wear it in the dark at least some of the time. Then I'd rather have a brightly colored jacket.

I took this jacket out for a run on the coldest day we have had this winter, and it is every bit as good as its older sibling.

Some pics:

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The cuffs with reflective strips, thumbholes, and cuff mittens. The mitten folds over as far as the reflective strip.
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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Oh Hai

I haven't posted much in the last, oh, forever. Part of it was being injured and I just didn't have much to post. Part of it was access to a computer/lack of a space to work. And part of it was being busy with being in a new place, starting a new job, and buying a house. You know, being an adult.

I am back on the road (mostly the treadmill). I will have my own home office soon (once I finish moving). Job is going very well (and I couldn't be happier). House has been purchased (that in itself could be several posts).

Hopefully things will calm down soon and I will have more time to post. At the very least, I will have an office with a computer that is mine. There are some running thoughts flowing through my head again. Such as the road race I ran while I was in Portugal. And more Lululemon-like workout clothes from Costco. And whatever else I can think of.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Boston Training Week 6

My plan for the week was cross train, run 3 and 5 miles, cross train, rest, and run 3 and 7 miles. A step-back week. Again? It feels like I just had one.

At the end of last week, my left foot started acting up. I cannot make this stuff up. But I think I've got the issue under control with more careful attention to my calves. Need to stretch before and after running and foam roll/use The Stick every day. I also need to be careful about switching from the running on the treadmill to running outside too quickly. The hills in the DC area is one of many things that I think contributed to my tendonitis issues. Or rather, switching too quickly from running on relatively flat areas to running on hills contributed to my tendonitis issues. I have no desire to repeat that cycle of misery again.

And how is it less than 100 days til the Boston Marathon? 100 days goes by quickly. But on the other hand, I only have to train for 100 days.

Sunday - About an hour of Christine Felstead's Yoga for Runners Intermediate Program DVD. It runs for almost an hour and a half and I didn't have enough time to do the whole thing. It was challenging. I definitely like this one. Also did one-legged squats with an exercise ball.

Monday - 35 minutes on the bike. My left Achilles tendon was giving me trouble, so I decided cross-training was the smart thing to do. Did lunges and core work in the evening. And lots of foam rolling on my calves.

Tuesday - 3.6 mile run on the treadmill, plus chest exercises and calf raises. Foam rolled again in the evening. I think it helped.

Wednesday - 5.2 miles on the treadmill.

Thursday - Rest.

Friday - 3.6 miles on the treadmill, plus clamshell planks. I was going to do upper body strength training at some point this week, but I figured moving (and carrying boxes and furniture) counts as strength training.

Saturday - 7.8 mile run. Outside. Pretty much the same route as last weekend. Got my overall pace into the 8:40s for the first time in a long time. That felt good.

Total Miles: 20.2

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Boston Training Week 5

My plan for the week was cross train, run 3 and 5 miles, cross train, rest, and run 3 and 10 miles.

I am feeling better about my training, now that I got a double digit run under my belt. I really didn't know what was going to happen when I got into longer runs, but all is still good so far. Just 13 weeks to go.

I am also very much aware that Boston is not going to be a fast or pretty marathon. My endurance is not very good. My mental skills are out of practice, too. Oh well. It will give me a reason to go out and just enjoy it.

Sunday - hourlong yoga podcast. Haven't done that one in a few weeks. Still kicking my butt. My upper body was sore for 2 days afterward.

Monday - 3.5 mile run on the treadmill in the AM. Lunges and core work in the PM. Definitely felt good to do lunges. I need to get my legs back in shape.

Tuesday - 5.2 miles on the treadmill. I need to start earlier to get these runs done on time. Good thing I have a somewhat flexible work schedule. Also walked about 2 miles to run an errand at lunch and did pushups and clamshell planks in the evening.

Wednesday - 35 minutes on the bike, plus upper body strength training and calf raises.

Thursday - Rest.

Friday - 3.6 mile run on the treadmill. Bumped up the speed a little bit.

Saturday - 10.2 mile long run. Ran on a relatively new route since I spent the night at my house (!?!) and had new running options. No music, a little chilly but pleasant.

Total Miles: 22.5. First week over 20 miles in a long time.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Boston Training Week 4

So yeah. I didn't exactly stick to my plan. Traveling and being sick will do that to you. Traveling is not a big deal. I can usually work around that. But being tired and achy is a big deal, or enough of a big deal to skip exercising. Plus there was that random pain in the arch of my non-injured foot. I have no idea what caused it, and it was an incredibly sharp pain. Being sick was a blessing in disguise because it forced me to rest. The pain seems to have gone away as mysteriously as it came on. 

I managed to do a little bit of yoga and run 3 times, including 2 short easy runs and a 9 mile all-running long run. 9 miles is probably too much of jump, but everything felt fine during and afterwards. My training plan called for 9 miles this week. It was not a pretty or fast run (I have lost so much endurance that when I intentionally tried to speed it up at the end, I actually ended up slowing down), but I ran the whole thing. Ankle is not hurting. Random pain didn't come back. Good signs.

OK, back on track next week.