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Posts Tagged ‘Boston Marathon’

It’s pretty much all runnable except…

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Words I had never heard describe a race course before I asked what the Paris Mountain 16K Trail Race was like: “It’s pretty much all runnable except the ten minutes it takes to ‘hike’ up the mountain.” I have to thank Brian G. who not only answered my question on facebook the night before the race but who also saved a few of us with excellent directions out on the course.

Typically my vacations involve a race so when a friend who attends Furman University in Greenville, SC invited me to visit her for the weekend, she not only found a great, inexpensive flight for me but a trail race. I booked the ticket and signed up for the race without even researching it. During my trip from Florida to South Carolina, I decided to find out more about this Paris Mountain trail race I was about to run. The distance was perfect since I was scheduled to run ten miles on Saturday anyway. I found the Greenville Track Club – Trail Runners group on facebook, posted my question, and received some very interesting answers.

Nervous about running up a mountain, I awoke race morning to SNOW! Yes, snow on November 1st.

What is that white stuff over Greenville!?! ;)

I was definitely having second thoughts about doing this race. I mean, I moved to Florida almost 20 years ago to escape this weather. We arrived at Paris Mountain at 7:00 a.m. in complete darkness after a short snow removal session so we could see out the car windows.

“What’s an ice scraper?” was her response when I asked if she had one. Riley is a Florida native. ;)

Dreading the cold, I picked up my bib number and started to warm up in the parking lot. I was wearing all the layers of running clothes that I brought with me. After jogging and doing my dynamic warm up, I felt warm enough to remove some layers so I raced in shorts, a long sleeve shirt, a light jacket, and gloves. I am so thankful that I packed my Brooks Adrenaline trail shoes! That extra tread definitely saved me on the slippery course.

Right before the start, the race director told us to take a map or follow the guy in front of us since all the course markings were washed away by the snow and rain. We were also offered a bottle of water to carry since they did not want to put volunteers out on the course in this cold weather to hand out water. I really did not know what to expect. The biggest hill I train on is the Ringling Bridge in Sarasota.

The course was beautiful. As we ascended Paris Mountain all I could think about was the beauty all around me. I wished I had a camera to try to capture it. Almost the entire trail was single track with lots of rocks, roots, twists, turns, and wet leaves. I just kept repeating to myself: “breathe, focus, and lift your feet.” Once we reached the part that was not runnable I tried to enjoy the scenery and take it all in but I had to focus even more on the terrain so I would not trip or fall behind. The higher we went up the mountain, the more snow we encountered. The wind was whipping the snow off the trees so it felt like it was snowing on us.

Once we began the descent, the race was really on. I moved from third female to first and ran down those hills and switchbacks with reckless abandon like I used to in my high school and college cross country days. I don’t remember thinking about speeding up; it was like instinct just took over. I earned my patch as the overall female winner of the race. I’d like to say that the mountain and those hills were no match for this Florida girl but even four days after the race I had to walk backwards down the stairs.

Huge thank you to Riley for being my #1 supporter (well, she did talk me into this race) & taking photos! :)

 

She thought it was just hilarious that I had to walk downstairs backwards.

Links:

Award Winners

Overall Results

Running Journal

Grateful

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

When training and racing are going well, it is easy to start to take it all for granted. I have been running and racing since 1986 when I began a run/walk program to earn a fitness badge in Girl Scouts and then joined the varsity cross country team later that fall when I entered seventh grade at our junior-senior high school. I have had my share of injuries over the years, especially in college where I missed more competitive seasons than I raced. Since college I have been self-coached, which has been quite the learning experience. I have had a lot fewer injuries but I still make mistakes despite all of my trial and error, coaching education, and just “knowing better!”

In February while racing the Gasparilla 8K in Tampa, I felt a weird painful twinge in my left thigh. It hit me about halfway through the race and would not let up no matter how I changed my stride, sped up, or slowed down. I was fortunate to be able to finish and won the Masters division. I was definitely concerned about the pain but with only eight weeks to Boston, I could not afford any time off. I continued training and racing and racing and racing. Confession: I raced way too much this spring. With over ten years of coaching experience and 28 years of training and racing experience, I should know better. Yet here I am making this major rookie mistake. I think I have become a race adrenaline junkie.

I made it through the eight weeks of training with consistent hamstring pain which also hurt quite a bit during the Boston Marathon. After Boston I took five days of complete rest before the DeSoto 5K in Bradenton that Saturday night. I had committed to run it for my racing team, S2 Timing, and I had also challenged my track team that if any of them beat me, I would treat them to frozen yogurt but if I beat them, they would treat me. They definitely had the advantage since I was just five days off a marathon. I was hesitant to race but decided to just go out comfortably and not push that hamstring at all. I ended up running negative splits, finishing second female, and winning Masters. And let’s just say that I am getting treated to frozen yogurt sometime soon! Two of my track girls set new personal bests that night, which was fantastic.

2014 DeSoto 5K with my Track girls

 

S2 Timing Racing Team at DeSoto 5K

I was making excuses for why I won Masters – it was a very small race, my time was not that great compared to what I usually run, etc. I took another week off from running to rest that hamstring but had another race commitment the following Saturday with the S2 Timing racing team (which I am incredibly grateful for!). For the Miles for Moffitt 8K in Tampa, I had the same mentality going in; I would go out comfortably and let the hamstring pain dictate my pace. I finished sixth female, second Masters, and just missed winning Masters by six seconds! I think my friend Meagan’s comment was “you’re ridiculous” or something like that.

With Meagan after the DeSoto 5K

I started making excuses again saying things like I only placed because I’m over 40 now, and then she stopped me. I should not make excuses for how or why I placed in these races. I should be thankful that I have been able to run all these years. I should be grateful that despite the hamstring injury and missing two weeks of training, I was able to run these two races and place in them. I am grateful for all of my amazing friends who have come into my life as a result of running, so thankful for the incredible support of my husband and family over the years, and grateful for all of the athletes I coach. I just need to remember to be grateful for the fact that I must have some running in my genetic code and that I am ABLE to train and race at the level I do. Running is a gift.

#runhappy

 

Close to Home

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

I remember receiving all kinds of text messages, phone calls, and facebook messages last year asking if I was in Boston.  Thankfully I was not.  I could not imagine being there during the bombings.  My heart went out to everyone there and continues to go out to everyone it affected, especially those who were physically or emotionally hurt.  I wasn’t there physically, but it still hit close to home.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a Yankee as a person from New England.  I am most definitely a Yankee.  I grew up in Monson, Massachusetts (about an hour west of Boston) where I spent the first 22 years of my life.  We had Patriot’s Day (Marathon Monday) off from school and always watched the Boston Marathon on television.  My dream as I became a runner at age 11 was to run it one day.  I have run it five times so far in 1997, 1998, 2001, 2011, and 2014.

After last year’s bombings, I wanted to be part of the 118th running of the Boston Marathon more than ever.  Luckily I had already run a fast enough qualifying time in January 2013 to register and make the cut.  My husband and I decided to make Boston our vacation this year and spent almost a week enjoying the true history of our great nation that can only be found in New England.  Somehow the whole experience, despite it being my fifth time there, seemed more exciting and special than ever before.  Maybe it was the fight, the spirit, and the determination to show that we were one year stronger.  It was literally all around us.

We spent four hours at the expo.  We have never spent so much time at an expo before but there were so many amazing people to meet, including Dick & Rick Hoyt, Hal Higdon, Jeff Galloway, Deena Kastor, Kara Goucher, and one of my favorites “Boston Billy” Bill Rodgers.

Boston Marathon Expo with Deena

 

At the expo with “Boston Billy” Bill Rodgers

 

Team Hoyt

 

The weather was pretty cold for this Yankee who has lived in Florida since 1995, but race day warmed up to a near perfect 60 degrees and sunny.  Everything was pretty much perfect the whole trip.  Even my first half splits were near perfect; sadly, a little too perfect on those down hills.  I did try to hold back and stay relaxed like you need to that first half.  I had a pretty strong emotional moment in the first three or four miles when we ran by a large crowd outside a bar screaming, holding signs, and blaring music.  When I reached half way, I knew my legs were toast and this would not be a good second half.  Despite how annihilated my legs were with 13 miles to go, I never even considered dropping out.  I knew I had to finish and be part of the 36,000 who were there to show that we were one year stronger.  I am a very competitive runner so it was quite the epiphany for me to stop caring about my finish time or mile splits and push through the pain for something so much bigger than myself.

Running down Boylston to the finish

Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston.  Words cannot adequately describe the feeling you get when you turn left on Boylston and can see the finish line.  You cannot hear your own thoughts.  I almost had tears running that last stretch to the finish.  I am definitely not happy with my finish time, but I was incredibly happy to have finished Boston Strong.  This city, this marathon truly inspired me.

Exhausted in the Public Garden after the finish

The Craziness of the Long Distance Runner

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner was originally a short story (Alan Sillitoe, 1959) and then a film (1962).  I have not read it or watched it yet but I like the title and it influenced the title of this blog entry.  Both titles remind us that long distance runners are a little different to say the least.

My tale starts last night about this time when I was supposed to be going to sleep.  I couldn’t sleep despite being extremely tired.  So I sat up with laptop on my lap and the Hansons Marathon Method book open next to me as I reviewed my calendar of races that I am already signed up for, keeping in mind that Boston is only 8 weeks away!  I had no training plan, nothing to guide me to Boston.  That coupled with less than stellar training since the Celebration Marathon on January 26 was really starting to worry me.  I took about 3 weeks to “recover” after Celebration and then started training by basically doing what I felt like doing.  I did run several hilly runs over bridges and even a couple of hill repeat sessions but that was about it.

Sunday I ran the Gasparilla 8K, won masters, and was 8th overall female but my time was 50 seconds slower than last year and I had a couple of issues with leg/hip pain and a very bad cramp for the last 2+ miles.  All of these contributing factors seemed to hit me last night at bed time.  So I sat up trying to put together a plan.

Between planning workouts around my races and coaching/work schedule and posting like crazy all over social media, I must have stayed up until 1:30-2:00 a.m.  I don’t really remember.  Then I got up at 7:00 a.m. to start my day today with a BodyPump class and dentist appointment.  I thought for sure I would take a power nap mid day before my afternoon track practice.  But I didn’t.  I wasn’t sleepy.  So I used the time to get caught up on some work then headed to track practice.  After practice I lead a group of school board employees (mostly teachers) through a workout to get them ready for their next 5K or 10K race.  This was the last class of the six week session before their 5K and 10K races this Sunday.  As the day went on, it got colder, the wind picked up, and it started to rain.  Thankfully I packed a light jacket and pants.  By the end of class I was wearing all the layers I had and had my hood on!

After class I drove to our Suncoast Striders group run at Riverwalk.  It was cold, rainy, and pretty dreary looking.  I didn’t see anyone when I first arrived.  After changing and getting my Garmin ready to go, Leah, Laura, and Meagan joined me for the dynamic warm up.  I was still pretty chilled from being out in the cold for the past three hours.  I don’t mind running in the rain, but when I am coaching and not moving around too much, it gets cold!!!

I knew what I had hoped to accomplish in tonight’s workout but with so little sleep the past two nights and doing a BodyPump class in the morning, I was not sure I would be up for the more challenging pace.  The workout goal was a 2 mile warm up, 6 miles at goal marathon pace (GMP), and a 1 mile cool down.  My GMP runs for Celebration were 7:50.  The Hansons Marathon Method worked so well for me that I decided to up the ante a little and train at a slightly faster GMP of 7:38-7:49 for Boston.  Despite rain, wind, and cold I had an amazing run.  For 6 miles I averaged 7:38 exactly, even with going over and back on the bridge twice.  I am trying to run bridges (Florida hills) as frequently as possible as I prep for Boston.  When I finished that sixth mile I screamed inside “heck yes!!!!”  Part of me wanted to let that out but I didn’t want to scare anyone walking or running near me at the Riverwalk.  Or have them think I was crazy!  ;)

I don’t know if the reason for my great run tonight was that I was rested enough after Celebration Marathon, was inspired and encouraged by my fabulous friends/running buddies out on a cold, rainy, windy night, or if it was knowing I have a training plan in place after my late night planning session.  Maybe it was a combination of all those factors.  I think part of it was definitely knowing that I now have a map, a plan to get me to Boston.

On my cool down I found Laura and Meagan (they were doing a different workout), we stretched, then met Leah for dinner where I had the most amazing hot chocolate.  Crazy how good a day and a run can turn out!

First ultra

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

So how did I get here?  My husband will confirm statements that I have made in the past about how I have no interest in doing an ultra, that “those people” are crazy, and why would you want to run all day anyway?  That was my former opinion about ultras.  This opinion was formed really knowing nothing about them or the training required to prepare for them.

I guess the progression to “here” (having just signed up for my first ultra) would begin with doing longer training runs for my last few marathons (Boston–April 2011, Space Coast–November 2011, and 5 Points of Life–February 2012).  I had several long runs over 20 miles including a few of 26.2 miles during the past year.   I enjoyed my training for these races and really enjoyed those long runs over 20 miles, especially the 26.2 mile ones!

So good training plus better hydration and fuel during the marathons, yet I still could not break that darn 3:30 barrier.  What is up?  I thought I would rock the 5 Points of Life Marathon because I had figured out I needed Gu and used it in training.  I had done the hill training, the long runs, the GMP runs, tempo, speed, everything!  And I tapered.

That is the beauty and the heartache of the marathon.  You train for months and months and then when the big day arrives you can have a great race or you can walk away disappointed.  I think because it is such a big physical and emotional build up, such a commitment and investment of time and energy that if it does not go perfectly, it can be such a let down.  If you bomb this weekend’s 5K or 10K it’s no big deal.  You can go out and do another one next week or the week after.  But not with the marathon.

So with the disappointment from the last three marathons, I thought maybe I need to get away from the marathon for a while and stop obsessing about breaking 3:30 and do something else.  But what?  Maybe I would try my first ultra this year.  Maybe a nice 50K or something.  Then an opportunity, a race, presented itself and I could not pass it up…

Tornado Alley 50 Miler.

It is a six person relay race (similar to Ragnar or Keys 100) where each person runs three legs of varying distances of 2-6 miles and they pass through relay exchange zones where they find their vans full of teammates and take turns covering the 50 miles.  The course follows the path of the tornado that ripped through Western Massachusettson June 1, 2011.  This event even benefits all the towns affected by the tornado, including my hometown of  Monson, which was hit the hardest.  I had to do this!  But I knew there’s no way I could get five people plus a crew/driver to Massachusetts to do this thing with me.  So I emailed the race director asking if I could run the whole thing myself.

Forgetful bliss

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

I couldn’t agree more with Frank Shorter, 1972 Olympic marathon gold medalist:  “You have to forget your last marathon before you try another.  Your mind can’t know what’s coming.”  I have not felt the inspiration to blog and to be honest, have not really felt it in my running since that last post about Boston either.

One thing that triggered my inspiration to write was delivered by the mail carrier this week:  2011 Boston Marathon Racers’ Record Book and certificate of completion with my official time and place.  Results on the web specifically state that they are unofficial until we receive this book and certificate in the mail.  The B.A.A. is clever.  They know that whether you had a good or bad race at Boston, the experience and the memories are the good things that we remember.  By mid July, enough time has passed since the race so we forget how much it may have hurt.  Now we have this record of wonderful memories, results, photos, and that certificate.

And to be honest, I have forgotten how painful my last 4 miles at Boston were.  I mean, I know they hurt, but it’s not a vivid memory where I can practically still feel that pain.  In May, I was still feeling it.  But now, I just think about how I can better prepare for the next one.  Yes, there will be a next one.  I guess that’s the thing about runners.  We just can’t stop trying to attain those P.R.s or reach whatever other goals we may set.

I have reviewed my training for Boston and have made notes about what to do differently when training for my next marathon in November.  The marathon is such a major life event.  Even if you are just running it for “fun” or running it with someone and helping to pace them, you still have hours, months, and many, many miles to devote to it.  Marathon training, adequate sleep, and proper nutrition are all demands that end up taking time away from family, friends, work, school, and social life.  When race day rolls around, I often think about all the time devoted to the training.  That coupled with the pain during the race make me swear off marathons!  Then enough time passes and I seem to be signing up for that next one.  When will I learn?  ;)

Boston a Bust

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

I cannot remember being more excited for a race than I was during the many weeks preceding the Boston Marathon.  I trained for it, thought about it, talked about it, read about it, and was genuinely excited for it!

I don’t know if all that pre-race excitement resulted in me feeling burnt out on race day or if it was the emotional, stressful trip that surrounded the race or maybe I’m just really done with marathons.  Or maybe it was some unfortunate combination…

It was a mistake to surround my Boston Marathon trip with helping my grandmother pack up her house before and after the race.  My grandparents lived in that house for about 50 years…well longer than I have been alive.  So you can imagine the memories, mementos, and heirlooms that accumulated during those 50 amazing years.  My grandfather passed away a couple of years ago so grandma decided she needed a change of scenery.  Can’t blame her there…so many memories in that house!

But being immersed in that emotionally charged house for a week before heading to Boston did take its toll.  Once we arrived in Boston I no longer felt the excitement.  My head was definitely not in race mode.  If you can believe it, I didn’t even look around the expo – picked up my number, bag, and shirt then headed out.

On race morning, I was lucky to get the last seat in our hotel’s free shuttle to the marathon buses at Boston Common.  It took at least five rotations of buses before I was on my way to Hopkinton.  Once I arrived at athlete’s village, I spent my time in the port-o-potty line then did a quick warm up, dropped my bag at the baggage bus, then started the walk to the starting line.  I initially thought I would jog but the crowd did not allow for that.  Once I arrived at the start and was able to get in my assigned corral, it was just minutes until the starting gun.

The race started on time and all I could think about was how crowded it was.  After a couple miles of weaving in and out of people, I was hoping it would thin out a little so I could settle into a pace.  But that didn’t happen.  I kept checking my Garmin as I weaved around people and felt pretty good, pretty confident about my pace.  I felt comfortable right around my goal pace.

When I reached about halfway, still very close to goal pace, still feeling quite good, I did step back (not literally) and kind of look around to take it all in.  I thought about my friend and fellow coach at MHS Dave who told me to have fun.  So I made sure to smile for at least one of the photographers.  The problem was, I felt bad because I know Boston is an amazing experience – just to be there, especially based on how difficult it is to get there now with registration filling up in 8 hours.  I knew others around me were having the time of their lives.  Why wasn’t I?

Regardless, I stayed on pace right until we reached Newton where I decided to attack the hills since I felt so good!  Combine that little error with running the first half maybe a little too fast considering it was a lot of downhill.  Once I reached mile 22 I was hurting.  Those last four miles were painful and all I could think about was stopping.  I was struggling to move my legs and my pace really slowed.  I just wanted it to be over!  But, I have to admit that once I made that left turn onto Boylston Street I did feel the excitement and was able to pick up the pace slightly all the way to the finish.

My goal, based on recent half marathons and other races, was 3:20 to 3:30.  I finished in 3:31.

After the finish line I made my way through the water, Gatorade, food, Mylar blankets, finisher medals, then found my baggage bus, and finally found Phil at the family meeting area, all I could say was “I don’t ever want to do this again.”  I spent the rest of the day in bed.  I honestly cannot remember my legs hurting as much as they did that entire afternoon and evening.  I have completed 14 marathons and some were painful, but none like this.  Maybe I have spent too many years away from the New England hills of my youth.  My best option for hill training in Florida was the Ringling Bridge.  It’s not like when you live in a hilly area and your quads get used to the ups and downs on a regular basis.

After two days in Boston it was back to grandma’s house for more packing then we headed home.  On the plane, I told Phil that I wanted to find a flat, fast marathon in Florida to see what I can really do.  How quickly we runners forget the pain of that last marathon and look to the next one.  ;)

So many people congratulated me and asked me how Boston was.  I felt bad and a little guilty that I did not share the excitement of the other 2011 Boston Marathoners I knew.  Now I know to never again combine an emotionally charged family event with a race!

While Boston 2011 did feel like a bust for me, I would like to try it again in a couple of years when I have a few more recent marathons under my belt and I can make the marathon trip all about the marathon and just stay in Boston.


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