Race Report | Big Sur International Marathon

484561_10200887983740417_1146771719_nTo say the Big Sur International Marathon course is stunning, breathtaking, surreal, awe-inspring, and downright b-e-a-U-tiful is an understatement. Holy freakin’ smokes. I still can’t really believe that I ran on it. For this reason, I included three slideshows (one for pre-race, race, and post-race shots) to try to somehow capture its magnificence. To be honest, the photos only capture a fraction of the route’s grandeur. More on this later – had to put that out there because you can’t really start a Big Sur Marathon recap without saying that this place might just be heaven on earth. Anywho…

Our Big Sur taste-buds were whetted with a drive down Highway 1 in, get this, a red Mini Cooper. We took in the sights, dipped our toes in the Pacific Ocean, flirted with some high school boys chucking Red Vines at us while we were stuck in traffic, and took a pit stop for the world’s most delicious strawberries. Umm…can we stay…like…forever? After a full day of travel on Friday, we arrived in Monterey exhausted, but completely excited for the weekend.

I had very mixed emotions about this race. I desperately needed to escape the endless stream of all things Boston Marathon. (That laughter-filled first road trip on Highway 1 thankfully provided that.) But for that very same reason, this race took on a whole new level of significance. Running Boston to Big Sur wasn’t just a fun physical challenge anymore. For me (and for every runner on that course Sunday morning), it symbolized the beginning of the healing process. It was one of the first steps toward proving that the running community is strong, resilient, and just can’t be stopped.  We might’ve been hundreds of miles away, but you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing a Boston Marathon race shirt or jacket. It was a powerful sight to say the least. For many reasons, I knew this race would be unlike any I have ever run.

After expo-ing all day Saturday (where I met a Challenger who’s a fellow El Pasoan! AHH!), the girls and I got dinner on the wharf. We had the most eccentric, hysterical waiter who literally tempted us with strawberry-topped desserts by waving them in front of our faces before serving one to another customer. (Yes, I gave in and ordered some. Nom.) We visited the sea lions on the dock–cue the aargh, aargh, aargh sounds!–before the highlight of the evening: the course tour. Our gear guy Jeff drove Hannah, Beachy and I from the finish to the start and back. And let me put it this way, I spent the whole ride exclaiming, “We get to RUN on this tomorrow! WOW! Look at that!” I was beyond excited to put my bib on and run.

Pre-Race Photos

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On race morning, after getting excited at all of our Runner’s World Challengers in the lobby, we loaded the buses for our hour-long ride to the start. The darkness and eerie fog made this drive unique from my two other pre-marathon bus rides. It only fueled my anticipation for the race.

When we arrived, the runner’s village was buzzing. I’m seriously growing to love this road-racing atmosphere. It truly is a celebration. The girls and I tied our #Run4Boston yellow and blue ribbons in our hair, applied some last-minute Body Glide, snapped some pre-race shots, and made our way to the start.

While we waited for the air horn, the official starter, a representative from the Boston Marathon named Ron Kramer, took the microphone. He spoke about what this race meant for Boston, then began a moment of silence for the victims followed by an uproar of applause for all of the heroes from that day. The crowd then joined together to sing the National Anthem. Another powerful moment. The crowd was ready to run.

The always exhilarating rush of nervous excitement carried me through the first few miles. I’d decided to run this race “naked,” in other words, without a watch, because I didn’t want to be glued to my GPS screen. The goal was to listen to my body, soak in the sights, let my mind wander, and just run. I ran with my colleague Jen for the first four or five miles, taking an easy pace before we reached the coast.

Surprisingly, I felt really good, so I decided to pick up the pace and have a little fun. A convoy of cars, one of which carried my coworkers Bart Yasso, Amby Burfoot, and our brand editor Warren, provided some early words of encouragement. Once we reached the ocean, I was instantly struck by the beauty surrounding me. The sun was out, the air was cool, the ocean a gorgeous shade of blue that perfectly complemented the towering green mountains on my right. It wasn’t long before I yanked my phone out to snap some photos. I held my phone the rest of the way, taking photos while I ran. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • The taiko drummers whose beats echoed through the entire valley before we started our ascent up Hurricane Point at Mile 10. This was like my high school drum line on steroids. Check ’em out (and excuse my awkward moment of bliss at the end):
  • The glorious downhill afterward that carried us toward the famous Bixby Bridge and the equally famous piano man just after the halfway point. He played “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri when I ran by. Imagine running in that epic setting listening to this:
  • Literally feeling those crazy hill-filled training runs pay off. I cruised up every hill and loved every downhill. I had no clue what pace I was going, but it didn’t matter–I was having a blast.
  • The hysterical mile markers along the way (there are a few in the slideshow). Those Californians have a sense of humor, that’s for sure.
  • Running into Beachy and Cait and a few of the Challengers along the way. Out of all of the people in the race, it was awesome seeing familiar faces!
  • The too-yummy-to-be-real strawberry I ate at Mile 24. Again, can I just stay here, please?
  • Seeing Boston Marathon race shirts and bibs on literally every inch of that course. Along the way, one such woman commented on my ribbons. We chatted briefly about Boston, then she perfectly summarized our feelings about running this race after Boston. She said, simply, “This is a happy run.”

Race Photos

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I continued to feel great until, you know, “The Wall” around mile 20 or 21. All the fun I had with the hills came back to bite me. I started cramping in my quads and hips, so I slowed my pace and settled into survival mode for the final miles full of more rolling hills in the Highlands paired with some yucky road camber. I was thankful I didn’t have my watch to see how much I’d slowed down. After what we’ve called “an insult” of a final hill, the course ended with a downhill toward the finish line. The satisfaction of finishing a marathon never ceases to amaze me. It’s addicting. On Sunday, I finished for those who couldn’t in Boston.

I was greeted by Bart, Warren, and the Boston Marathon representative afterward. He asked me if I was able to finish Boston, then congratulated me on my races. I tried to thank him for being there, but I’m pretty sure it was some garbled nonsense. I was spent. Still, after spending much of the race reflecting on all that happened in Boston, it was again, another powerful moment.

I wobbled over to our tent, pulled on some dry clothes, snagged a smoothie, and headed back toward the finish line area to wait for Hannah to finish. Before I knew it, I spotted her cruising toward the line, smiling while she ran. I can’t tell you how awesome it was to witness her finishing her first marathon. It’s such a life-changing moment, and it was incredible to see her months and miles of hard work pay off. Read her full recap here.
Post-Race Photos

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Overall, it was indeed, unlike any other race I’ve ever run, and I fully intend to run the Boston to Big Sur double again next year if I get the chance. Jen described my feelings about this race perfectly when she said running is a passport to adventures you wouldn’t otherwise have. Exactly. I ended up running 3:43:14, just under three minutes slower than what I ran in Boston 13 days earlier. And I loved every second of it.

QUOTE OF THE POST: “And that’s what you’ve taught us, Boston. That’s what you’ve reminded us — to push on. To persevere. To not grow weary. To not get faint. Even when it hurts. Even when our heart aches. We summon the strength that maybe we didn’t even know we had, and we carry on. We finish the race. We finish the race. And we do that because of who we are. And we do that because we know that somewhere around the bend a stranger has a cup of water. Around the bend, somebody is there to boost our spirits. On that toughest mile, just when we think that we’ve hit a wall, someone will be there to cheer us on and pick us up if we fall. We know that.” – President Obama, excerpt from his speech at the Boston service

Friday Faves | Uplifting Moments

Here are a few things (a bit from this week and a bit from last) that made me smile, laugh, and warmed my heart:

  • I don’t know if I could love this cover of Boston Magazine any more. It’s downright perfect. Read about its conception from the magazine’s editor-in-chief here, and read Hannah’s interview for RW about it hereBostonMagCover_0
  • Speaking of shoes, some speedy women wore these kicks at the Boston Marathon:
  • Perfect. Y’all deserve a Boston Marathon spectators-sized round of applause.
  • Across the pond at the London Marathon…amazing support.BIZrP6CCcAA9di9

And the non-Boston related favorites of the week:

  • My girl Hannah at @fithappygirl is running her FIRST marathon at Big Sur on Sunday! Suppressing excitement over this. =D Read her pre-race post here.
  • This unexplainable video that’s produced many much-needed laughs this week:
  • And finally the belated BIG news: I’m on the Hood to Coast Nuun Relay team! I can’t tell you how excited I am to a) meet the rest of my awesome teammates and b) go to Oregon! AHHHHHHH! Happy news!

QUOTE OF THE POST: “I learned, one, you shouldn’t ever quit. And I learned, two, you’ll never be able to explain it to anybody.” – Jim Ryun

P.S. Headed to the Big Sur International Marathon today! Stay tuned for a Race Report!

Pounding it Out into the Pavement

Back in college, whenever we’d push it hard on a run, workout or not, we’d call it “pounding.” It meant we’d pressed the pace and just took off, completely in the flow, literally pounding down the road. A sheer release of energy.

Though my emotional state one week after the Boston Marathon is thankfully inching closer and closer to what I’d consider normal, it hasn’t exactly been business as usual at RW. Our entire staff has pored over every detail of April 15, rehashing it all while we try to figure out how to cover the tragedy in our upcoming issue. It’s been an exhausting, but exciting, and heartbreaking, but uplifting process that I’m completely thrilled to be a part of because I know the end result will be something that will make the running community proud.

But what I realized on my run today was that I still have some bottled up, lingering feelings that I need to work out. (I know this is completely normal after going through something so life-changing and traumatic.) I’ve been so focused on work (or on anything else besides the marathon) that I hadn’t noticed it was there, building up in my chest, needing to be released.

It’s incredible how you can actually feel it.

Long, irrelevant story aside, something set me off today during our run. The emotions bubbled to the surface, and I felt the need to just get away. Now. Fighting back tears, I tore down the street on my own. For that last mile and a half of my run, I pounded out the pent up sadness, anger, frustration, and stress into the concrete, feeling that with every deep, swelling breath I was letting it all go.

I’ve experienced this maybe only once or twice before. The last time was in the midst of my senior year of college. I’d been so stressed out with work that the anxiety had, like today, been building up in my chest for weeks. All I could think about was desperately needing to just run fast, far, and alone. On what was supposed to be an easy long run with my team, I got permission from my coach to do my own thing. I couldn’t wait any longer. I’d reached my breaking point. I broke away from the group, flying down the road letting myself cry it out at times. I felt like I could run forever.

I returned six miles later rejuvenated. The weight that had been sitting on my chest was almost gone.

Like it has countless times in the past, running amazed me today. It’s the ultimate cure-all that only requires a pair of shoes and an open road. I’m so thankful that I’ve found something in my life that allows me to work through tough times, release whatever might be inside me that needs releasing, and escape.

How lucky we runners are, huh?

—–

Because laughter is always in order, here’s a funny, somewhat-relevant-to-this-post clip from an otherwise not-so-funny movie (At the :45-second mark, that was more or less me today.):

QUOTE OF THE POST: “Everyone who has run knows that its most important value is in removing tension and allowing a release from whatever other cares the day may bring.” – Jimmy Carter

Have you ever experienced a run like this? 

Race Report | 2013 Boston Marathon

I’ve divided this post into two parts: the first will address yesterday’s tragic events at the finish line of the Boston Marathon; the second will share a few of the happier moments from the weekend because, frankly, I’m weary of reading about the sadness that now surrounds what was meant to be a euphoric, celebratory event. I’ve desperately needed a reason to smile, so, in an attempt at some shred of normalcy, I wrote up a quick race report that will hopefully make you smile, too. So, here we go…    

This was taken early Monday morning on the walk to the buses. I'm just about where the first bomb struck.

This was taken early Monday morning on the walk to the buses. I’m just about where the first bomb struck.

I sat this morning at the airport in Boston in a sort of grief-stricken stupor, trying to wrap my brain around all that’s happened in the past 24 hours. I awoke this morning to the TV replaying that infamous clip taken at the finish line. I begged my Dad to turn it off. I’d seen it on loop all afternoon yesterday while I was holed up in my hotel room just a few blocks away from the explosions, and I simply couldn’t take it anymore. A work friend put it perfectly, “I was gonna call my feeling this morning a ‘bad news hangover’ and realized the better word for it is ‘grief.'” Exactly. I put on my yellow Boston Marathon shirt–runners from around the country are wearing race shirts in support of the victims–and headed to the airport. Outside our hotel were a handful of military personnel clutching assault rifles. When I arrived at the airport, the police debriefed me. It all felt like a horrifically bad dream.

The airport was full of Boston Marathoners, all of whom were hobbling thanks to yesterday’s 26.2-mile effort, a journey that for some was cut short. But I’d venture to guess that they, like me, were trying to hide the aches pervading their legs because that post-race pain now seemed incredibly insignificant when others have lost their lives. Our hearts hurt more.

How fortunate are we that our races played out just so so that we were spared from the disaster? I’d finished maybe 40 minutes before the cannon-fire-like booms rang through the city, and my Dad had been sitting in the grandstands right across from the first bomb for over three hours. My editor Tish was on Boylston just before the second explosion, and my colleague and ’68 Boston Marathon winner Amby Burfoot was just three-quarters of a mile away before he was stopped and instructed to go home. Other friends were just meters away covering the race. (By the grace of God, all of us are safe and accounted for.)

What had been an impatient search for my father turned into a frantic one after the explosions. The crowds around me started piecing together what had happened just a couple of blocks away. I noticed a few people near me were crying. Panic started to set in. I hadn’t brought my phone with me, so I used strangers’ phones to try to contact him again. Thankfully (and miraculously), I spotted him across an intersection, saving both of us from what I’m sure would’ve been very unnerving and scary period of worrying about whether either of us were safe. When I started to process it all during the rush back to the hotel, realizing just how close we had come to the danger, I grabbed my Dad and buried my face in his chest, crying and terrified. How very fortunate we were.

I’ve spent the entire day surrounded by the tragedy. Between the man sitting beside me on the plane reading a newspaper with graphic photos of the scene on the cover to countless conversations with coworkers, my parents, and strangers at the airport, it’s all I can think about. After talking through it all day, here’s where I’m at with it all tonight:

Since this was my first Boston, my coworkers have spent the last few months showering me with stories about the unique magic that surrounds this race. I, like I’m sure every runner on that course, pictured the weekend and the race going off without a hitch, imagining turning onto Boylston, crowds screaming, then crossing the famous finish line triumphant. That this event, one that epitomizes jubilant celebrations of perseverance far deeper than finishing the race itself, is stained forever sickens me. This is not how it was supposed to happen. This is not how it played out in my head for months on end. This is not right.

I think this is why my brain is tricking me into thinking that somehow it’s not a big deal. That it wasn’t an earth-shattering, life-changing event. It’s put up a sort of barrier that’s guarding me from fully taking it all in. But then I see photos from the scene and read about those victims who didn’t make it, and it all hits me again. Realizing that so many of my close friends could’ve easily been one of the victims triggers yet another wave of emotions that I’ve been trying to suppress all day. I just can’t believe that this insane event hit so close to home. Much, much too close.

With that being said, I’m trying to focus on the positive as much as possible. That all of my friends are safe and sound fills me with an enormous amount of relief. My faith in the resiliency of the running community could not be any stronger, and I know we’ll pull through this. Though I worry about how this will affect the sport that touches every aspect of my life, I’m confident that we’ll endure and persevere. Heck, it’s what we do.

So here’s my Race Report of the 2013 Boston Marathon. Rather than a traditional recap, I wanted to share with you a handful of moments that filled my heart with joy:

  • Crying happy tears when I said bye to my Dad before loading the busses. I was so incredibly thankful to have him there to experience it all beside me. Knowing that I’d see him at the finish line made me that much more excited to start the race.IMG_0064
  • Making friends with strangers. I chatted with a Canadian woman on the bus who was running her second Boston and later, in the athlete’s village, a triathlete who was a Boston newbie like me. I also made friends with a woman in the corral who wanted to run the same pace as me, and we ran the first half of the race together. We pulled each other along, and even though I lost her around mile 14, she’s the reason I held my goal pace for as long as I did. If you’re reading this, chica, THANK YOU!
  • Spotting my coworkers Warren, Jeff, and Budd by chance near my corral just before the start. They had run the course backwards, and we hadn’t made any plans to meet each other. Finding them was completely by chance, and their last-minute words of encouragement gave me an extra dose of confidence. 529303_10151848507834838_1346390581_n
  • Witnessing the road packed full of a colorful stream of runners moving together with a common goal was powerful and moving. Mix in the spectators that lined nearly every inch of the course, and the feeling of celebration across states, nations, races, ages, backgrounds, you name it, was palpable. Talk about being a part of something much bigger than yourself.
  • The spontaneous YMCA dance mid-race. More than half the runners did the dance while running, and it was way too much fun.
  • Even though I am so not a baseball fan, I appreciated the couple of spectators with whiteboards displaying the score of the current Red Sox game. That’s dedication right there.
  • Seeing encouraging chalk-written words on the streets for Shalane and Kara. Knowing that they’d covered the same streets that I was on was incredibly cool, and they made me hopeful that the girls had had success further down the road.
  • The odd Dr Pepper craving that plagued me for the last 12 or so miles. (This was quenched later that night.)
  • Passing over each timing mat knowing that I was sending my Dad text messages about my progress. I loved knowing that I was sending him little messages telling him I was getting closer and closer to the finish.
  • The bagpiper near mile 20 that made me think of about whole family.
  • The couple times I heard “Thrift Shop,” which made me think about my brother who discovered that song (and played it for me multiple times) long before it was popular.
  • Making the final right onto Hereford, left onto Boylston. I’d been struggling during the second half of the race, but I was relieved to have a little juice left to actually run the final half mile.
  • Finding my Dad in the grandstands right before crossing the line, waving to him and blowing him a kiss. It’s a moment that I’ll remember and cherish forever. LOVE YOU DAD!
  • Finally, the outpouring of support and love from friends and family. It meant the world to me, and I thank you all so much!

Over the past 24 hours, I’ve read dozens of articles and blogs about the event. Here are a few that struck a chord with me:

So Close, Yet So Far, by Amby Burfoot

Bombing in Boston, by Lauren Fleshman

My Thoughts About Boston: Now What?, by Rebecca Pacheco

Eyewitness to Bravery, Horror, by Peter Sagal

The View From the Finish Line Photo Bridge, by Charlie Butler

Boston Marathon: Undone, by Dimity McDowell

An Old Soul Aches for a Simpler Time, by Kelsey Cannon

Love. Strength. Boston., by Pavement Runner

I also have to give a shout out to my amazing, dedicated coworkers who tirelessly reported their hearts out since all hell broke loose yesterday. Check out their work here.

QUOTE OF THE POST: Via @andrewchaklarge-2

Friday Faves | BOSTON, BOSTON, BOSTON

Here I am, typing this out from my hotel room in BOSTON! I cannot really wrap my brain around it all, but it’s slowly starting to sink in. (I snagged an official jacket earlier this afternoon (see below) – I feel so “official!”) For obvious reasons, this week’s Friday Faves is all about Beantown. I’ve included a bit of what I’ve seen today, too! Here we go!

  • Via @whitrunsthis:
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  • While I waited to interview Serena Burla, I chatted with Kara’s husband, Adam, while he held Colt during Kara’s interviews. I told him how neat it was to finally “meet” Colt in person and asked him if Colt recognized his mommy on TV during her races. (He does! *Cue cuteness overload!*) It was incredible seeing the pro runner + motherhood dynamic – all I can say is Kara does it with grace.
  • Insanity. Enough said.
  • Thanks to the ever-wonderful RW Facebook fans and Twitter followers, I pulled together this Boston Marathon advice-filled article full of insanely inspiring tips from Beantown vets. Gave me chills!
  • I found out what’s written inside these amazing uniforms for Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher today. In Shalane’s, it reads “Dare to be different.” In Kara’s, “Courage to believe.” LOVE.

    oawib

  • THANK YOU TED! =)
  • I wrote about the awesome Americans flying under the radar on Monday, Stephanie Rothstein-Bruce and Serena Burla. Check it out here.
  • This is sort of Boston-related, but I HAD to share: Lauren Fleshman is officially writing for RW! The tweet below includes a bit of the awesomeness (and click the link to read it, too!)
  • And here are some shots from the weekend so far!
Kara's Boston Banner!

Kara’s Boston Banner!

The finish line is being set up! So ridiculously cool.

The finish line is being set up! So ridiculously cool.

The girls at the press conference. (Ignore the dude's head!) This was the first time I've seen both of them together, and man, they giggled the entire time. It's obvious how close they are!

The girls at the press conference. (Ignore the dude’s head!) This was the first time I’ve seen both of them together, and man, they giggled the entire time. It’s obvious how close they are!

The jacket. And man is it schnazzy.

The jacket. And yep, it is pretty schnazzy.

Stay tuned for updates throughout the weekend–probably more on twitter than here depending now how busy I am–and my race report early next week! To everyone running Boston, GOOD LUCK!

QUOTE OF THE POST: “Here’s my mantra: ‘Every mile is a gift.'” – Amby Burfoot, winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon.

Sisters in Sport | March Madness + Gearing Up For April

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PR! – A high point from my March training.

Simply put, March was just madness: every smokin’ fast long run was countered with a crappy one, my get-serious-for-Boston training plan probably got more views from y’all than from me (but I ran a half-marathon PR, so I must be doing something right…right?), my confidence level was more wobbly than my yoga poses, and speaking of yoga (and core), yeah, that didn’t happen much this month either. My butt was much happier on my couch than on my mat. Not okay.

Today, I’m in the midst of the infamous “taper crazies.” Mentally, I’m equally freaking out about this cold I can’t seem to shake, but confident that come April 15th, those 60ish vertical long run miles with pay off. Heck, my half PR proved that I am in shape. Deep down, I believe I’m going to have a good race. Just get me to the line. Now. Please.

Because there’s literally no rhyme or reason to my March training, here’s a rundown of what went down:

  • I learned that I’m still apparently NOT ready for any sort of structured training plan. Bummer. The stress I felt trying to fit in each and every workout was simply not worth it. What I actually ended up doing was probably pretty close to the plan, but I ran on my own terms. And I was a happier runner because of it. I haven’t given up on trying (and actually sticking to) a plan yet, but this marathon build-up just wasn’t the right time.
  • That being said, I PR’d in the half by exactly a minute and a half…after maybe three hours of sleep. That means I’m in as good as (if not better) shape than I was in college when I ran my old PR. I think I averaged 7:09 pace, which is well below my hypothetical, probably-far-off-in-the-future marathon goal pace of 7:30s. It wasn’t easy, but I certainly wasn’t dying. This sparked a huge pre-Boston confidence boost…
  • …that quickly came crashing down on the following Monday when I got a killer cold. I took it easy all week and consumed more Vitamin C than chocolate (which says a lot with all that Easter candy at my fingertips), but the darn thing is still lingering around today. It made for one incredibly slow long run, too. It’s amazing how one weekend you can power up every hill with ease, and then two weeks later you might as well be carrying a 50-pound weight on your back because the pace feels like a death march. The wind was effectively sucked out of my sails.
  • I dabbled in three (Yay!) potential cross-training activities this month: (1) I did a flow yoga class at work, which was the perfect balance of strength, stretching, and relaxation. Perfection, especially for runners. This needs to become a weekly thing for sure. (2) I did a strength routine with some of the guys from work, and afterward I was sore in all the right places, meaning my (weaker than my arms) glutes. I think it’ll become my much-needed strength routine come summer. And (3) I rode a legit road bike! I haven’t ridden a bike in 5+ years, so this was a true test of that “It’s like riding a bike, you never forget” saying. A friend and I rode four laps around Prospect Park in NYC (about 14 miles), and it was equal parts terrifying and exhilarating. I was focused on every bump in the road and crossing pedestrian–I was, again, very wobbly–while I tried to maintain some sort of consistent pace (or in the cycling world, “cadence”). I was amazed by how my quads screamed going up any hill (big or small), but my breathing remained steady and in control. Talk about using different muscles! Overall, it was a very fun, but very different experience than running. But, I bought a cycling kit this week, so I’m game for trying it again! Maybe this could turn into something a bit more serious! (Gotta figure out how to turn the thing first though…hmmm.)
    photo

    Yeah, I RODE this. Pretty intense, huh?

    To legit to quit!

    Too legit to quit!

  • I participated in the “Second (Not Quite) Annual Jeff Dengate Hill Challenge” >> A race that’s one mile up, then one mile down a huge hill by RW HQ. (I think it’s about a 450-foot elevation gain.) It’s an unofficial competition we do during lunch, and we stagger our starts from slowest to fastest so you’re always chasing (and being chased by) someone. As expected, it hurt like hell, but it was SO much fun! I beat my old record by about 15 seconds, running the mile up in 8:28 and the mile down in 5:57. Why we do this to ourselves, I have no idea. (BUT Heartbreak Hill/Hurricane Point, I’m ready for you!)

Looking forward to April a.k.a. my crazy/ridiculous/epic spring racing month, the overall goal for the month is confidence in all aspects of my life from work to relationships to racing. There are SO many exciting things happening this month, and I don’t want to ruin them with blah lapses in focus like I had in March. So this month, I want to:

  • Soak in every second at Boston. I want to get in some solid reporting for work, spend some quality time with my Dad, meet as many of my virtual twitter friends as possible, get inspired by just being at Boston, and then most of all, run the race to the best of my abilities and simply be happy with the result. If the uncontrollables work in my favor, a PR would be perfect.
  • Be smart with my post-Boston recovery so that Big Sur doesn’t kill me. I want to use the week-and-a-half break to catch up on work and most importantly rest, rest, rest.
  • Embrace running Big Sur. Hopefully I won’t still be out of commission after Boston so I can cruise through Big Sur watchless, iPhone in hand ready to take photos of the gorgeousness. I want to go into it with the same mindset I had before Disney–have fun.
  • Stay healthy. Sleep as much as I can–I have to master sleeping on planes–and remember to pop those Vitamin C pills!
  • Still have something left for the cherry on top of the cake: the Golden Gate Relay. It’ll be my first relay, and I want to enjoy it!

So without further ado, here goes nothing! Keep an eye out for race reports. I’ll do my best to write them as soon as I can!

QUOTE OF THE POST: “In my experience, there’s one constant to every marathon: fear. You stand on the starting line, and you wonder: Am I going to make it today? The marathon makes you feel naked—a runner in only the sheerest clothing. It can strip you, it can humble you, it will extract a harsh penalty if you don’t treat it with high regard. The day I stop fearing the marathon will be the day I stop running them.” – Amby Burfoot, 1968 Boston Marathon winner (and probably one of the coolest people I know.)

Friday Faves | “Maranoia” and More

Can’t believe it’s ALREADY Friday again! Here’s this week’s “Friday Faves” list:

  • I’ve been plagued by the marathon taper crazies this week i.e. My brain has been buzzing with thoughts like: Why do my shins/heels/knees hurt? Why do I still feel sick? Why have I felt like absolute CRAP this whole week? Buhhhh! But, the insanity has produced some wonderfully appropriate tweets:
  • On confidence, which happens to be my Sisters in Sport April goal of the month (more on that hopefully this weekend! Stay tuned!):

     

  • 5 Faces of Pain via Oiselle. Favorite line? “Don’t eat a chili cheese dog from 7/11 for breakfast.” Do yourself a favor and watch this, now:
  • My latest Runner’s World “Social Studies” post, which includes this madness: large
  • Our RW Newswire editor’s Boston Marathon coverage plan, seriously:large-1
  • And because we’re only NINE days away from Boston, here’s a chills-inducing post from @paceofme on prepping for April 15.

QUOTE OF THE POST: “So I went for a run. And things got better.” – Mark Remy (Read the rest here.)

Friday Faves | Boston…Because, Heck, We’re Only 15 Days Out!

Sorry everyone, this is a day late! (Crazy busy day at work yesterday, but I digress…Better late, than never!) Here are a few things that got me excited this week:

  • For starters, Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher ROCKED the 10-K at Stanford last night. (Shalane nabbed the World A-standard, and Kara was just over a second off of it! Whoo!) I’ll definitely be thinking about what’s happening a few miles down the road in Boston during the race. These ladies certainly have a shot at doing something special on April 15!

    And this, which makes my inner track nerd freak out a little:

  • I successfully snot-rocketed WHILE running yesterday. Guess I finally got over my fear of getting it all over my face. A killer cold’ll do that to ya, huh? On a related note, my coworkers are snot-rocketing masters:
  • Truth:
  • Even Shalane gets the marathon taper crazies!
  • I think I might just have to start doing this, too.
  • And to close, what an awesome perspective:

QUOTE OF THE POST: “Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” – John D. Rockefeller

Friday Faves | Seriously Silly

Get ready, this week’s list is full of both silly (see #1) and serious (scroll down to the bottom!) blog posts and tweets. Have at it people:

And in this week’s selection of favorited tweets:

If you’re wondering why I posted the tweet above with Matt Long, read this and watch this, and prepare to be amazed, inspired, and moved by this man’s story.

QUOTE OF THE POST: “Whether you believe you can or believe you can’t, you’re probably right.” – Henry Ford

Race Report | 2013 NYC Half

nychalfOn Tuesday, I made the last-minute decision to race Sunday’s NYC Half because heck, I’d be in the city anyway visiting friends, and I figured it would be a perfect pre-Boston training run. Plus, throughout this marathon build-up, my impatience for the big Beantown weekend has made me desperate to put my singlet and a bib on. (Side note: I’m seriously loving the fact that I’m beginning to want to race now. I used to dread race days because of the anxiety they would cause, but now all I want to do is cross every finish line I can get my feet on.)

After getting maybe three hours of sleep on Saturday night–thank you St. Patrick’s day for that brilliant decision!–I pulled myself out of bed, nibbled on a Picky Bar and tried to rehydrate a bit. My friends (who by the way are SO sweet because they got up early to take me to the start) and I hopped on the subway at 6:30 a.m. and arrived at the Central Park starting line just in time for the 7:30 gun. (I literally shed my layers, ran to my corral, hit up a porta-potty, and started the race, all within maybe ten minutes. Definitely NOT my usual pre-race routine, that’s for sure!)

The game plan for this race was to feel out the first few miles and go from there–if I felt good, I’d try to race it; if not, I’d settle in and enjoy the ride. Deep down I wanted to shoot for a PR. My fastest half is my first one I ran in Philadelphia in 2011. It was just after my cross country season ended, and my fitness from that got me a 1:35:01 finish time. I remember running a few sub-7:00 miles, and I wasn’t sure if I was at that level now. Regardless, nabbing a PR was on my radar. Why not go for it if the opportunity presented itself, right?

Sure enough, I actually felt pretty good. Despite having to weave through crowds for the first three miles, I easily hit 7:10ish pace, running through the 5K in 21:59. Central Park was absolutely stunning that early in the morning, which kept me happy and distracted. At this point, I decided to see if I could hold that pace for as long as I could.

ts2Once we finished a full six-mile loop through the park, we turned onto 7th Avenue. And holy wow was it breathtaking. The entire road was closed off for almost a mile, and I got chills taking in the view while I ran in the middle of the street between the towering buildings toward Times Square. For me, Times Square means insane chaos in the form of distracted masses of tourists and speeding taxi cabs. But this morning, the road was ours and the usual blaring NYC soundtrack was replaced with screaming spectators. I even got an unexpected shout-out from a friend on the sidelines! Needless to say, my pace picked up a bit, and I ran the fastest mile of the race.

The course then turned toward the Hudson River for a miles-worth of freezing headwinds before we started miles eight through 13 on the Westside Highway. This was my least favorite part of the course, but I was excited to still be (somewhat comfortably) hitting around 7:10 pace. The PR was becoming more and more of a possibility, so I turned my focus toward maintaining my pace for as long as I could. Around mile nine, I gave myself a recovery mile and eased up a bit because that speedy 7th Avenue mile was coming back to bite me in the a**. Thankfully, the slower mile paid off, and I was able to drop it back down to the low 7s at mile 10. Along the way, I caught a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty in the distance–how cool?!?–and we ran right beside the new Trade Center, which was a humbling experience to say the least.

When we reached mile 11, I did the math and figured out that I would be right at my PR if I ran 8-minute pace for the final 2.1 miles. I was still miraculously cruising along at 7:10 pace. A PR was definitely within reach. Talk about an awesome feeling.

I pushed the pace a much as I could for the final meters of the race and crossed the line in 1:33:31. I PR’d by exactly a minute and a half.

Post-race with the ever-incredible Kyle who graciously lugged my gear from the start to the finish. Thank you!

Post-race with the ever-incredible Kyle who graciously lugged my gear from the start to the finish. Thank you!

After the race, I spoke with my mom, and she pointed out that I was still able to have a great race despite not doing my usual, super-OCD pre-race routine. She reminded me of how in high school and college I used to get so anxious literally days before a race. I’d waste far too much energy on my nerves, and I’d freak out if I didn’t get in the proper warmup or eat the right thing. But today, all of that went out the window. I went into it with a “just get out, have fun and race if it feels right” attitude.  I ended up snagging my first PR in over a year.

Though I certainly don’t intend to repeat what I did yesterday, it’s nice to know that I can still race well even if some curveball gets thrown my way. Once again, I learned that having the right atitude about a race–especially in the final few days beforehand–plays SUCH a big role in its outcome. (This should be obvious, but as we all know, it’s an incredibly frustrating and hard lesson to learn.) Once the race starts, just focus on running. Go with how you feel at that moment, not how you think you should feel. (So what if I only got three hours of sleep? I actually felt smooth and fast!) Don’t sweat the small hiccups that you’ll inevitably experience because they’ll just weigh you down.

Overall, I’m SO happy I decided to run. The NYC Half is definitely in my top three road races I’ve ever done, and I’d highly recommend running it someday. Yesterday I realized that I’m in as good as, if not better, shape than I was in college. Now I’m even more pumped for Boston! Just 27 more days people! 27 DAYS!

QUOTE OF THE POST: “Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams.” – Paulo Coelho