Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Goal Getter 2013 Upate: April

It seems like just yesterday I was writing my March update.  It's kinda scary how the time is flying by.  All in all, I'd have to say that April was a good month.  I nailed 2 more of my 2013 Resolutions / Goals.

I ran a sub 3:20 at Boston and I hit the 250,000m mark for swimming.  So yeah, April has been a pretty amazing month.

I have a few things I want to work on for the month of May. 

1) My flexibility.  It's horrible.  I mean seriously horrible.  Everything is in a constant state of tightness, even after stretching, foam rolling and massage.  I don't think I stretch well enough given the amount of "muscle shortening" that I do (weights & running but especially weights).  I need to balance that out with some yoga or some sort of regular stretching routine that is done every day.  Or at least every other day in conjunction with the stretching I do post exercise.  I think this is the major issue behind all my other little muscle issues I've had over the course of this past year.

2) Cycling.  It needs to become a part of my life once again, especially since I've signed up for 6 sprint triathlons this summer.  Looks like the daily doubles will be back in full swing soon. 

3) Aim for at least 2500m every time I swim.  This would be easily doable if I actually stayed for the entire swim.  Most of the time I leave about 15 minutes early.  I don't really need to.  It's not like I'm rushing off to work.  I don't start work until 9:00 am and the pool is only 15 minutes away from the studio.  Given that swimming ends at 7:30, that gives me plenty of time to get ready and get to work.  So, I'm going to start to make an effort to get at least 2500m in per swim.   Or maybe even stay until the very end.  Wouldn't that be something??

4) Get back on the #PlankADay bandwagon.  I did that last year for the month of July and the difference in my core strength and appearance was amazing.   Right now I'm only doing plank work when I'm at the gym, which is twice a week.  Time to change that.

How was your April?  Did you check off any more goals from your 2013 list?

Monday, April 29, 2013


I did it.  I hit 250,000m a whole MONTH ahead of schedule.  That's a nice way to close out the month of April.

What's the big deal with 250,000m?

Nothing really except that I'll get a fancy swim cap and a pin from Masters Swimming Canada.  And I'm only 750,000m away from joining the Million Metres club. 

Realistically I know I've swam a hell of a lot more than 250,000m since joining this Masters group almost 4 years ago but I didn't start tracking my workouts with them until October of 2011.  I tracked my workouts for 2 months and then stopped.  Even though I kept swimming with them, I wasn't entering the workouts on their site.  I thought that I could go back and enter everything in but they only let you go back a month.  I realized this in May of 2012.  D'oh!! So I started again in May of 2012.   At that point I had logged 20,600m.  So in one year I managed to log roughly 230,000m.

That's a whole lot of pool time.  I used to dislike pool time but I did it because it was a necessary part of triathlon training.

Then a funny thing happened.  Somewhere along the way I actually began to enjoy it.  And then something else happened.  I started to improve.  The improvement motivated me to keep going and stay consistent.  Funny how that works. 

I find it to be a fantastic form of cross training as well as a great recovery aid.  It's worked out well that my harder training days are on Tuesdays and Thursdays and then Wednesdays and Fridays are either swim days or complete days off.  There's nothing like a good swim to help flush out left over lactic acid from a race or a hard workout.  Obviously it's also an excellent cardio workout as well.  I definitely attribute swimming to helping me keep my cardio fitness at a fairly high level. 

Even if I decide to stop doing triathlons somewhere down the road, I don't think I'll ever stop swimming.  I'm sure it's something I'll be able to do long after my old bones decide they can't run anymore.  Or perhaps it's the key to keeping my old bones on the road.  Only time will tell.

Is there an activity that you do that you don't really love but you do it out of necessity? 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Next Round

Hard to believe that my spring "A" race has come and gone already.  Of course, I'm already making plans for my next adventure.  I had some lingering leg issues going into Boston which surprisingly didn't get worse as a result of the race but, they were still kinda hanging around and I figured that if I didn't deal with them now, then things would just get worse.  So Thursday morning I went to Pivot to see Mr. Fix-It a.k.a chiropractor and A.R.T practitioner extraordinaire, Peter Lejkowski.  He did some tests to figure out where the issue was stemming from.  Turns out, my left hip flexor was so tight, my leg couldn't fully extend.  There were also several tight spots along my left leg.  After an excruciatingly painful A.R.T session I left feeling sore but better.  My range of motion is definitely better on my left leg now.  I was holding off on registering for a May half marathon until I figured out what was happening with my leg.  I was tempted to run on Thursday night but I was quite sore from that mornings treatment so I decided to give myself a bit more rest.   I'll test it out on a run tomorrow.  If all is good, then I'll be signing up for the Mississauga Half on May 5th.  Nothing like leaving it to the last minute!  I was torn between doing this or the Toronto Half.  I know a lot of folks that are running both the full and half in Toronto (Brian at Pavement Runner and Krysten at Darwinian Fail being a couple of them, holla!) but, the start line is a pretty big pain in the butt for me to get to from where I live.   Mississauga on the other hand, is MUCH easier to get to, therefore it would be much easier for me to convince G to drive me to the start, ha ha.  However, I will be working the Toronto Marathon Expo from 10 am to 1:00 pm at the Running Free booth so it's kind of the best of both worlds.  If you're at the expo make sure you come by and say HI!

Since the weather has FINALLY warmed up, G and I headed outside for our first ride of the season.  We went up to Bolton which is slightly north west of Toronto.  We usually park at the local community centre and ride from there.  There's a 90km route that we like to do to Belfountain and back but given that it was our first ride and neither one of us has that kind of cycling fitness just yet, we only did part of that route.  It's hilly enough to be challenging on the way out but speedy on the way back.  I quite enjoy riding out there.  The scenery is lovely (lots of horse farms) and there isn't too much traffic.  I held my own quite nicely.  Usually G rockets off ahead of me but I managed to stay on his wheel for most of the ride.  I did most of the ride in my big chain ring, which is another rarity for me and, it didn't feel hard.  All those squats and deadlifts I did over the winter must have helped!  Anyway, it was an absolutely fabulous morning to be out.  The sun was shining and the birds were singing.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself and I can't wait to get back out and do it again.  Good thing since I've got my first triathlon of the season in a month!  Cycling is going to have be a regular occurrence in my training schedule now. 

The view up the road while G had a "nature break"

My legs aren't hairy, honestly!

This is what my May and June are shaping up to look like race wise:

Sunday My 5th:  Mississauga Half Marathon (hopefully)
Sunday May 26th:  Woodstock Sprint Triathlon
Sunday June 2nd:  Bread and Honey 15km
Saturday June 8th:  Binbrook Sprint Triathlon
Saturday June 22nd:  Welland Sprint Triathlon

Yeah, that's a whole lot of racing, especially in June.  But what better way to celebrate the summer than to get out and enjoy it being active?

What races have you got coming up?  Do you have your summer racing all planned out?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

#BostonStrongTO and Post Race Thoughts

I feel like Sunday's race report almost needs a post race report.  I've told my story so many times in person but I have yet to put it down here.  I said it before and I'll say it again;  I can't thank the online community enough for their concern and support last Monday.  It means SO much to me and it just reinforces that fact that runners are an amazing bunch of people.

As most of you know, I finished the race on a total high.  It was such a fabulously perfect day, I honestly couldn't have asked for anything better.  After I made my way through the finishing chute and grabbed some warm clothes, the plan was to meet G under the K and head straight to M.J. O'Connors pub for a celebratory pint or two, no going back to the hotel to shower, nothing.  I shuffled along with G, my legs more than a little stiff and wobbly.

We got into the pub to find it pretty busy already.  Thankfully we managed to get a seat in a booth.  I flopped down and awaited the arrival of the rest of our contingent.  About 20 minutes later Linnea & Glenn show up and then shortly after them Anna and Dave show up.  Anna had a fantastic day, running a 3:11 and change which was a P.B for her on that course.  She blew by me at the 4km mark and that was the last I saw of her.  So we had a lot to celebrate.

We were all enjoying a celebratory beverage and some grub when my friend Kiki and her dad finally showed up.   She had a rough day but she finished.   She mentioned that something crazy was happening at the finish line.  She said she was in the baggage area getting her stuff when she heard a big explosion.  The cops yelled at everyone to clear the area.  She said it sounded almost like a transformer blew or something.  None of us really thought anything of it at the time until about 10 minutes later when Linnea picked up a message from someone asking if she was ok, saying that they heard that a bomb went off at the finish line.  We were all shocked.  I could see one of the TV's in the pub and I could see some footage of people running but I didn't know where it was.  Then my phone rang and it was my work calling, asking me if I was ok.  Our receptionist told me that they heard that a bomb went off at the finish line.  I was stunned.  But still not quite processing everything.

The pub was still playing music, but they switched all the TV's to a local news channel.  We were watching things unfold, still in shock.   I called my parents right away to let them know I was ok.  Then Ben Kaplan from the National Post called me and asked me if I was in Boston.  I said yup and tried to answer his questions as best as I could.   Shortly after I hung up with him, my phone started to go nut with incoming text messages.  I tried to get on Facebook to post that I was ok but the internet was so slow.  Then it seemed to stop working altogether.   The pub turned the music off and fed the live broadcast through the speakers and we all sat there in stunned silence.  The atmosphere in the pub went from celebratory to complete silence in the span of a couple of minutes.  I can't remember what time we finally left the pub.  It might have been close to 5:00 pm.  G started to get worried that we wouldn't be able to get back into our hotel so he figured we should get out and make our way back.  Sure enough our hotel was on lockdown.  We were lucky enough to be able to hang out in the back entrance of the Marriot for a while.  I was cold and starting to get cranky as I hadn't really eaten anything substantial since I finished the race.  So we opted to walk around and try to find a restaurant.  The streets were almost empty other than a handful of other folks that were also displaced.  It was creepy.

We ended up at a restaurant called Coda.  I finally sat down and ate and was able to charge my phone.  G's phone died when we were in the pub and mine was close to dead.  Luckily there was a woman there who had a charger and she was nice enough to let me use it.  As soon as I turned my phone on, it started dinging.  9 text messages, a ton of twitter messages and voicemails.  I returned the texts and then called the hotel to see if we could get back in.  Sure enough they had just started letting people back in.  I almost started crying.  I just wanted to be off the streets and somewhere safe.

As everyone knows, it was virtually impossible to not hear about it on the news.  I found it difficult to watch the coverage without crying.  Such a senseless act of violence, directed at the people that deserve medals of their own for coming out and showing their support to the running community.  Boston wouldn't be the race it is without the spectators.  They play a HUGE role in making the race the legend that it is.  So when Brian Kelly over at Pavement Runner tweeted me on Wednesday asking if I'd be interested in hosting a #BostonStrong event in Toronto, I was all over it.  It's people like him that make the running community such an amazing one.  Check out his blog to see just how many places participated in this event.  It's truly mind-blowing.

 I would have been happy to have a small handful of friends to turn out to last nights event but the West End Toronto running community is a big one and word spread quickly thanks to social media.   I created the event on Thursday and tweeted about it, shared on my personal Facebook page and my Facebook blog page.  Brian, being the amazing soul that he is created a graphic for the Toronto edition and posted it on Instagram.  This brought out even more people.  People that I follow on IG but that I've never met.  I finally got to meet them last night.  What a fantastic experience.  I even got interviewed for the 5:00 pm news.  I'm proud to say that we had over 50 runners show up last night and almost every single one of them was wearing blue and yellow.  We even had our own cheering section with cowbells.  I met a whole bunch of new people, finally got to hug everyone in my run group and did my first run since Boston.  My legs may have been heavy but my heart was light.  It was such a wonderful experience and I'm thankful to everyone that came out to show their support.  Love you all! xo

Meeting Christina (the Athletarian) = AWESOME!

West Toronto Pacers Representing!!

Group Shot - We had lost a few folks before this was taken.  Still a great turnout!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Chasing The Unicorn: Boston 2013

It's taken me some time to gather my thoughts about the events from last Monday.  I'm still not sure that I've sorted through everything.  My mind keeps wanting to go down the "what if" path.  I have to remind myself that my "what if's" didn't happen.  I can't think about the what if's.  That's no way to live your life.  My goal going into this race was to run happy, be grateful and enjoy every step, even when the going got tough.  That is exactly what I did and the end result was an absolutely perfect day.  No terrorist will ever take that away from me.  My heart breaks for those affected but I know that this will just make runners and the City of Boston even stronger moving forward.

This day was 10 years in the making.  That's how long it took me to become the runner that I am.  That's how long it took me to finally nail it.  Of all the marathons that I have run, this is the only one I've actually run from start to finish.  I didn't walk once despite the overwhelming urge to do so several times in the late km's of the race.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.  Let's start at the beginning shall we?

I was going into this race at about 90%.  I totally beat myself up at Around the Bay and then neglected to give myself the care that I should have (i.e a massage) post race.  Instead I skipped my last few speed workouts, didn't do any leg work at the gym, swam a lot, and eventually dragged my butt in for some A.R.T.   While that helped, it didn't completely sort out the problem.  I seem to have an incredibly tight muscle or a knot buried deep in my hamstring that is putting pressure on my sciatic nerve and affecting my range of motion.  My shake out run on the Saturday was horrible.  My legs felt heavy, my right knee hurt and my left leg was bothering me.  I ran with G through Boston Common and as per usual, he had to talk me off the ledge.  I was starting to freak out, although not enough that it stopped me from appreciating the view.  

We spent the day shopping and walking around Boston.  Sunday was much the same although over a shorter period of time.  I didn't want to spend too much time on my feet.   We got back to the hotel, I laid out all my race gear and prepped my breakfast.  I think I finally fell asleep around 10:00 pm.  My alarm went off at 4:30 am and I sprung into action.  I wanted to make sure I got my physio exercises in before I left to catch the bus.  I ate, covered all the bits that might chafe in body glide and got dressed.  Kiki texted me to say that she was in the lobby so we headed down to meet her and her dad and make our way over to the bus.  It was a chilly morning but the sun was shining so I figured the racing conditions would be perfect.

We got to Boston Common, said goodbye to our escorts and found a line that was moving quickly.  I have to say it was so nice to have some company this time around.  There was lots of joking and chit chatting on the way out.  We watched the scenery go by and listened to the conversations going on around us.  Some people were sleeping.  I was tired but there was no way I could have possibly slept, I was too excited.  Of course there were the obligatory selfies.
And all that hot air / body heat / nerves resulted in some pretty foggy windows on the bus so naturally I took advantage of that and doodled on the window (as one does).  You can't really see what I wrote because of the sun.  It says:  26.2 miles:  Let's DO THIS!

Once we got to the Athletes Village, the goal was to find the porta potties and some coffee.  Done and done.  It seemed like a much busier place this time around.  There were photographers everywhere.  That last time I ran it, there were no photo ops at the "It All Starts Here" sign.  This time around there was a line up to have your picture taken in front of it by a couple of professional photographers.  Funny how times have changed.   We grabbed our coffees, found some free ground and sat down.  We made idle chit chat and people watched.  I tried to Instagram some pics but the 4G was so slow I gave up.  Eventually we figured we should make our way to the porta potties for one last stop, then it was time to dump G's old lime green cycling jacket and make our way over to the baggage buses.  We made one last stop under one of those propane heaters for some last minute warmth.   I still had a long sleeve t-shirt on along with my gloves but I had packed my lululemon pants into my race bag so I was officially cold, despite the sun.  We finally dropped our bags and I did some dynamic warm up work before we started the long walk to the corrals.   It was go time.
Curly and Curly Junior, just before we got into our corrals
 We had one last porta potty stop and then ditched our long sleeve shirts.  It was chilly but I figured standing around in a crowd would give me some warmth.  We watched the first wave go off and then they opened up the gates and let us through.  I gave Kiki a hug, wished her luck and reminded her to enjoy the journey.  I was in the first corral of the second wave so I had a bit of hike to get to it.  It was really strange to get in there and be right up at the start line.  I was literally one row of people back from the official start line.  There was a lot of nervous energy.  Surprisingly, I was calm.  I just wanted to get going.  The Mayor of Hopkinton spoke, wished everyone luck, fired the starting pistol and we were off.

My plan was to go easy for the first 10-15km.  Especially the first 5km.  There is a steep down hill at the start and it's so easy to get carried away here.  I held myself back and watched as hundreds of people passed me.  I didn't care.  I took in the sights and tried to settle into a comfortable pace.  I'd be lying if I said my legs felt good.  They didn't.  They felt like crap.  I had a twinge on the back of my right knee that was affecting my gait and I felt like I had shin splints.  My legs felt heavy and sluggish.  I didn't feel fluid at all.  I didn't panic.  I figured it may take me a while to warm up given that I didn't do the best pre-race warm up.  So, I just plodded along and looked around.  I'd occasionally hear my Garmin beeping at me to speed up so I'd pick it up a bit.  We hit Ashland just before the 5km mark and as soon as I saw the bar, I remembered that this was where all the Harley's were last time I did it.  This time the parking lot was packed with pick up trucks, motorcycles and a whole lot of leather and denim clad people cheering and drinking beer.  Amazing.  Of course, I couldn't help but grin.  Shortly thereafter,  I hit the 5km mark and glanced at my watch:  23:07.  Sweet.  My legs were still not feeling great but my effort level felt good.  I felt comfortable.  

Somewhere shortly after the 6km mark, I realized that the twinge behind my knee had disappeared and that my left glute didn't feel too bad.  I had finally started to warm up.   It was about bloody time.  I finally got into a groove.  My effort felt good and surprisingly I felt pretty strong.   We were still heading slightly downhill so I was still trying to be conservative.  Just before the 10km mark I came up on a guy wearing a black F3 Further Faster Forever t-shirt.  I figured it had to be Toshi who is an F3 athlete that I follow on Instagram.  We had said over IG we'd look out for each other in the starting corral but I never saw him.  So I ran up to him, tapped him on the shoulder and introduced myself.  We shared a high five, I wished him well and continued on.  It was a pretty cool moment.  Shortly thereafter we came into Framingham and were greeted by huge crowds.   The course was finally starting to flatten out a little.  I came up on the 10km mark in 46:06.  I had picked up the pace a little but I was still pretty consistent. 

I made a conscious effort to get Gatorade Endurance at every single aid station.  I was running with a fuel belt and I had 2 bottles of GU Brew with me for when I was taking a gel.  Given that I use half a gel every 15 minutes (can't seem to break that habit from my Ironman days) I like to make sure that I have some kind of fluid with me.  But I knew those 2 bottles wouldn't even be remotely enough to get me through the race so I planned on using what was on the course as well.  Luckily I've trained with it before and I know my body can tolerate it. 

I chugged along, feeling good, loving the feel of wind in my hair and the sun on my face.  This was the first time I raced without a hat on.  I had two of my Sweaty Bands 26.2 hairbands on and I let the fro fly free.  It felt quite liberating actually.  The temperature had started to climb as well so I pulled my right arm warmer off and pulled the one on my left arm down as far as possible without covering up my Garmin.  I had tossed my gloves at about the 4km mark but I wasn't about to toss my arm warmers.   There were a few unpopulated miles during this stretch but as we got closer to Natick, the crowds started to appear, along with the bands.  I passed by a trio in a parking lot playing Asia's "Heat of the Moment".  Talk about a blast from the past.  There were a couple of random guys with guitars along the side of the road, totally rocking out.  Once again I found myself grinning from ear to ear.  As we got into Natick and we ran into the Town Common, it was like running onto a huge stage.  There were crowds everywhere.  I got really emotional as I came into the Common.  I remember saying to myself, Smile, remember this, you're running BOSTON baby.  BOSTON.  Take it all in.  These guys had some really good signs too.  I remember laughing out loud a number of times and giving someone a thumbs up for a particularly good sign.  My reaction was even caught on camera.

From that point on, you couldn't wipe the smile off my face.  I couldn't wait to get to Wellesley College.  I knew it was going to be chaos.  I planned to high five and holler the entire way through.  As I got closer to the 20km mark, I could hear the cheering.  It gave me goosebumps.  I couldn't help but pick up the pace.  My arm was up and ready.  I crossed the 20km mark and barely remembered to glance at my Garmin as I was too busy hollering and high fiving.  I couldn't even hear my music it was SO loud.  It's no wonder this spot is so famous.  I totally picked up the pace through here, buoyed by the cheers an enthusiasm of the crowd.  I remember seeing 1:31 something and then trying to do the math.  I figured I'd hit the halfway point at 1:36 something.  Sure enough I crossed the 21.1km mark at 1:36:47.  If I could hang on to that pace, I'd run a 3:13 and change.  I could only hope that was possible but I had a feeling that it wouldn't be.  I knew I was heading into some tough territory.  But, I was still feeling pretty good.  A little tired but still good.  From this point on, the course was never quiet.  There were always people around.  I knew we had a few more km's of fairly flat ground before we started to climb.  The hills didn't start until around the 26km mark.

I was starting to feel a little tired and my quads were slightly sore but I wasn't terribly concerned.  I kept running along with that silly grin on my face.   I saw the 25km mark coming up and glanced at my Garmin.  I'd pass it well under the 2 hour mark.  Amazing.   I came to the first Newton hill and crested it with no real issues.   It was tougher than I thought it would be though.  The second Newton hill wasn't too bad though.  We had just hit the 28km mark.  This was about the point where I started to fall apart at last year's Mississauga Marathon.  My feet and calves started cramping and I started walking.  Sure my legs felt tired but I wasn't having any issues with cramping.  I'm chalking that up to my hydration strategy.   I drank something at pretty much every single aid station.  I figured that the hurt was going to start somewhere around the 30-32 km mark.  Sure enough when I hit that third Newton hill, my legs started complaining.  I could feel the burn in my quads.  I watched my pace slow as I shuffled up this grinder of a climb.  For a while I thought that I was running up Heartbreak Hill.  I was expecting to see the Boston College boys any minute.  When I didn't, all I could think was Oh crap.  But then I remembered my promise to myself:  Run happy and be grateful even when the going gets tough.  The going was just about to get really tough.

I don't recall Heartbreak Hill being all that bad the last time I ran it.  This time around, it hit me just how tough that climb is.  It's not steep, it's just really long and it's placement in the race is less than ideal.  It's just before you hit the 33km mark.  But once you crest that, it's down hill the rest of the way.  All I could think about was getting to the top.  I had a tough time on this climb.  I tried to smile but every fiber of my body hurt and no amount of smiling was going to make that stop.  Instead of looking up and having my eyes follow the road, I had my head down and was watching my feet.  A sure way to slow down and that wasn't going to happen now.  I lifted my head up and willed myself up and over that hill. 

As soon as I crested the top, it was a fairly decent drop down into Brookline.  I could hear the screaming and then saw the crowds start to swell.  I was coming up to Boston College.  I'd get the occasional wafts of beer from the crowd.  The down hill was killing my quads so I figured I needed a distraction.  It was time for some more hollering and high-fiving.  This crowd was wild.  There were guys that were precariously hanging over the barriers in order to give / get some high fives.  I couldn't help but laugh through here.  And just like the last time, there was plenty of beer.

I'd be lying if I said I remember the next few kms.  My body had really started to hurt.  I remember seeing the 35km mark sign and thinking: Only 7km left. Worst case scenario it's another 35 minutes.  You can handle that.  The crowds along the route were absolutely insane.  I remember running along this part the last time because the road was still as crappy as it was before.  Very uneven.  Not the most ideal footing conditions when your legs are functioning at less than 100%.  Luckily that stretch isn't too long.

When I hit 37km I remember thinking: In 25 minutes you'll be done.  I don't remember a lot about what was around me.  I was definitely running in a haze, I was so focused on the hurt that I was feeling.  Despite the hurt, I know I was still smiling.   The next couple of kms seemed to take forever.  I kept my head up watching for the Citgo sign.  At the 40km mark I glanced at my watch and saw 3:05 something.  I had no clue what my pace was anymore I was running on fumes.  I knew that I probably wasn't going to break 3:15 but that I might be close.  Either way I knew for sure that I was going to be sub 3:20 and that I was definitely going to have a P.B.  Once I realized that I almost burst into tears.  I choked back the tears and focused on putting one foot in front of the other.  No point in starting the blubber fest just yet.  That would just expend more energy than was necessary.  I came up on the "one mile left" marker and looked up to see the Citgo sign.  Once again I started to do the math.  I held on to the slim hope that I'd come in at 3:15 and change.  Then we hit the underpass and I had to climb a slight incline.  Ugh.  I felt the wind go out of my sails.  I came out onto Beacon Street to throngs of cheering spectators and almost immediately felt better.  I was grinning from ear to ear.  Somehow I actually managed to hear my friend Rooster (Glenn) call my name as I made the turn onto Hereford Street.  I turned and waved.  Apparently G and Dave were also there but I somehow missed them.  Rooster got some awesome action shots of me, with my fro blowing in the wind.

As I started to come up to Boylston, once again, I had to work at fighting back the tears.  I made the turn and looked down the road.  For some reason I remembered the finish line being much closer than it actually was.  I glanced at my watch.  Would I make it in the 3:15's?  It was going to be close.  Muse's Uprising came on as I made my way towards the finish line.  I tried to push the pace but my legs had officially had enough.   I ran towards the finish line, grinning from ear to ear.  I raised my hands in the air and said Thank You to the universe.

I hobbled over to the volunteers handing out the medals, still grinning, and an older man congratulated me and put the medal around my neck.  I thanked him and kissed the medal.

I had caught the unicorn in a personal best time of 3:16:02.  I couldn't have asked for a more perfect day.  That is what I always want to remember.

I know I said that I probably wouldn't be back again next year and that I didn't think I could handle 2 marathons in one year but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't toying with the idea of going back for next year's race.  I'd like to run it again in honor of the amazing city that is Boston and in memory of the 3 that lost their lives and the hundreds of others that were injured.   It just seems like the right thing to do.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Free Hugs

Nine hours in a car gives you ample time to be alone with your thoughts.  I figured after the drive home from Boston that I'd have sorted through everything that was running through my mind.  I haven't really.   A marathon is supposed to be a celebration of the triumph of the human spirit, not about senseless violence.  This cowardly act just reaffirms what I have known all along:  Runners are a STRONG bunch.  Good luck bringing us down.  If anything you've just brought us closer together.

As for my race, I made a conscious decision to run happy and smile no matter how hard things got.  I kept reminding myself that I was lucky to be there.  I'm so glad I kept that promise to myself.  The result was an absolutely perfect day.  I'll post my race report later in the week once I've sorted my thoughts and had some time to process everything. 

What this tragic turn of events has taught me is that the running community is truly AMAZING.  There are so many of you that I have never met and may never meet but because we share a common love of a sport, we immediately embrace each other as friends.  I was touched by all your messages, tweets, emails, texts and messages on Instagram.   As I posted on Facebook yesterday:  Finally back on home soil. Can't wait to get home. Just a heads up that if I see you tomorrow there is a very good chance I'm going to give you a hug. Life's too short guys, remember that.

I did just thatYeah, it was a bit of a hug fest today but I didn't hear anyone complaining.   To all of my blends and virtual friends out there on the interwebz, I'm sending you a virtual hug, because life is too short not to.

Have you hugged someone today? 


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Look Out Beantown, Here I Come!

This will probably be my last post until after Boston, but you can bet that I'll be tweeting and posting on Facebook and Instagram over the next few days.

I've been thinking about obsessing about my race day plan for the last few days now.  I've been trying to familiarize myself with the course profile because I can honestly say I don't remember much from the last time I did it.  I remember the steep downhill at the start and I remember cresting Heartbreak Hill but I don't remember the four rollers that happen between miles 16-20.  I must have blocked them from my mind completely, ha ha.
Yeah, it doesn't look that bad all stretched out like this but looks can be deceiving.  I do remember my quads being completely shredded by the time I hit the 15km mark.  Not a pleasant feeling when you're barely half way through a marathon.

This time around things are going to be different.  For one, I have 10 more years of experience under my belt.  Secondly, I'm mentally a lot tougher than I used to be.  When things start to hurt, as I know they will, I won't get down on myself and I won't slow down.  I'll work through the hurt.  Obviously I want to hurt to stay away for as long as possible so that's where my pacing plan will come in.

My goal is to go sub 3:20.  I'm not sure how possible that will be given that my legs are still not 100%.  I'd say they are still at about 85%.  I ran this morning and my left leg still had some nerve pinching going on.  I'm hoping with some tennis ball rolling and anti inflammatories that I get to 95% by race day.  To go sub 3:20 I need to run 4:44 km's (7:37 miles) at the very least.  I ran that pace on my long run last weekend and it felt easy despite the less than ideal condition of my legs so that's a good thing.  The first 500 m from the start line is a pretty steep drop which evens out a bit and then continues to drop for the next 3.5 miles so it's easy to get carried away.  My plan is to hold myself back slightly for those first 4 downhill miles.  If I'm running a bit slower than goal pace, I'm ok with that.  Once the course starts to even out, my goal is to settle into my marathon pace.  I don't plan on trying to negative split this race, my goal is to run it consistently.  If I have a slight positive split, that's ok.  My biggest concern is that I will get caught up in the starting rush of adrenaline and go out too hard for the few first km and shred my quads.  If I can manage to run a fairly consistent pace that feels comfortable for the first half, then my hope is that I might actually have a bit left in the tank to pick up the pace once I get out of the Newton Hills.  And that will all depend on how my legs feel race morning.  Only time will tell. 

I obviously really did a number on them at Around the Bay but, as I said before, I don't have any regrets.  Especially now because when I came home last night, I had some mail from the folks at Around the Bay.  I thought maybe I got a finishers certificate since I was in the top 5 in my age group.  I opened up the envelope to find this:

I couldn't believe it.  2nd place??  How the hell did THAT happen?  When you look online I'm listed as fourth in my age group, however they do have a masters category so I'm assuming that a couple of the women in my age group placed overall in that category, thus bumping me up to second in my age group.  Whatever the case may be, it totally made my day.

 I'm still not packed which is kind of stressing me out.  I've been so busy at work that I haven't been able to give much thought to anything else.   I come home late so I scarf something down, pack my bag for my next days workout, make my lunch and then I'm so tired I have to go to bed.  I suspect that tonight will be a late night and I won't get much in the way of sleep since G wants to hit the road at 5:00 am tomorrow.  I can always sleep in the car though so I'm not too fussed about that.   All I need to do is get through today without too much stress (ha ha, yeah right) and then it's literally off to the race(s)!

Bring it on!

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Countdown is ON!

I can't believe we are already just over one week into April.  Even crazier is the fact that I will be on my way to Boston THIS FRIDAY.  *GULP*.   In fact, one week from now, I will be in my corral,  doing my best not to freak out.

What I want to know is where did the time go?  It only seems like yesterday that I laced up my Mizunos and did my first track workout of this training cycle.  Geez.  Right now, I feel as ready as I'll ever be.  I had a massage yesterday and I think it helped sort out my leg issues but it's still too early to tell.  There is still some soreness and a bit of pinching but it's definitely better.  The true test will be when I go for a run on Wednesday. 

Like the weather nerd that I am, I've been watching the forecast in Boston since last week.  When I first looked this was the race day forecast:
Great for spectating, not so great for racing.  In fact, it's dangerously close to the same temperature as the last time I did Boston after training through a winter much like this one.  With no time to acclimatize to the warmer temps, I had a less than stellar day.   Of course I checked again this morning and it's looking much better.
That is almost idea racing conditions right there my friends.  I'm crossing my fingers that it stays dry.  But, I will pack for all types of weather because that's just what I do.  Always be prepared right?

Those of you that follow me on Instagram have seen the virtual countdown that Ty at SeekingBostonMarathon.com has been hosting with 3 other bloggers:  Alison at Racing Tales, Lora at LVRunsNYC and Annabelle at Fluency's Folly (go and check them out!).  That's been a super fun challenge and a great peek into how everyone else has been preparing for the big day.  I'm looking forward to potentially meeting up with some of these folks in real life at the race.  Oh the wonders of the interwebz!  You can bet that my Instagram feed is going to explode once we hit the road on Friday so watch out!

Are you a big weather watcher leading up to a race?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

That's All She Wrote..

Well guys, that's another training cycle just about done.  I did my last long run before Boston on a gloriously sunny but chilly morning today.  Skipping that 8km race was definitely the right call.  My legs felt like they were at about 85%.  My right one is totally fine but my left one needs a little bit more help.  I started off feeling a little rough and I actually debated whether or not I was going to continue.  I thought it would be wise to at least let my legs warm up a bit more before I made that decision.  I'm glad I did.  Despite the tightness and pinching, I still managed to run pretty close to my goal pace (I was 1 second slower per km than I needed to be).  The best part?  It felt easy.  At this stage of the game, I couldn't ask for anything more than that.  Except maybe some warmer temps.  Please?  It's April for Pete's sake!!

Toques in April should not be necessary!!!
Now all I need to do is get through this last week without incident.  That means busting out the big guns.  I've got to make sure I get my greens in, even if that means supplementing with Greens Plus.  I'll also get back on the Immunity FX bandwagon.  Yes, I'm absolutely, totally and completely paranoid about getting sick.  I know I was feeling a little run down yesterday because I went to bed last night at just after 9:00 pm (on a Friday, yeah I know how to live it up) and I slept until just past 6:30 am.  That's 9.5 hours of pretty much uninterrupted sleep.  Guess I was tired.  I'm feeling tired now too but I suppose that's not surprising.  My body is obviously in major rebuild mode. 

I'm also going to have to start packing sooner rather than later.  The last thing I want to do is be running around like a mad woman throwing things into a bag on Thursday night.  I've been told to pack light because we're driving down to Boston in our new wheels and there apparently isn't a whole lot of room in it.  I'm calling it G's Midlife Crisis car because it's a convertible.  It's not a Porsche or anything crazy like that.  We're both big VW fans so the choice was fairly obvious.   We got a Volkswagen EOS and it looks exactly like this:

As long as the sun is out and it's above zero, G will have the top down for the drive down.  I'm going to have to make sure I pack a hat or two and maybe a blanket.  Hopefully there's enough room....

Do you do or take anything specific during your taper?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Shoulda Coulda Woulda

It's 11 days out from showtime and I'm going to be honest, I'm not feeling great.  I know that generally happens during taper but I'm not talking about the typical tapermadness aches and pains.  I'm talking about actual discomfort.  I was worried that I might have gone a little too hard at Around the Bay and I can pretty much confirm that I did.  Normally I bounce back relatively quickly if I'm smart with my post race recovery.  I did what I normally do post long distance race:  recovery drink, re-hydrate, gentle stretching, compression, ice bath, hot bath, more compression, proper stretching.  The only thing I didn't do was book a massage.  It took me a couple of days before I could walk up and down stairs properly.  Even then my recovery run on the Tuesday post race was anything but easy.  I stretched more and foam rolled. I was supposed to do mile repeats on the Thursday post race and I could barely get my speed up.  My hamstrings and glutes were super tight.  I went to hot yoga on the Friday thinking that would help.  It didn't do as much as I hoped it would.  I was really regretting not booking that post race massage.  I had one scheduled for this coming Sunday and I figured that would be sufficient. I only have a limited amount of coverage per year and I don't want to blow through it before my summer of racing starts.  But, looking back on it, I should have booked it.  Shoulda coulda woulda.  I'm now dealing with sciatic nerve pain down my left leg because my piriformis muscle is super tight.  I had some ART work done on it yesterday and it seemed to help but then by the end of the day I was incredibly uncomfortable.  It hurt more than it did last week.  I went home and iced it, then had an epsom salts bath and took a Tylenol.   I got on the treadmill at the gym this morning and managed to run 10 minutes at a very easy pace.  I wasn't in pain but I was definitely uncomfortable.  I figured it wasn't worth it to try and get my interval workout done.  Realistically I've done all I can, now it's just about resting & recovery.  The important thing is to get to the start line INJURY FREE.  This will probably be the easiest taper I've ever had, ha ha.

A couple of months ago, I had registered for an 8km race that takes place this Saturday.  I figured that I could do a nice 5km warm up, race the 8k and then do a 3km cool down to get my 16km in as I'm supposed to be running it at a faster pace.  But given that the race is on a very hilly course, I'm thinking maybe it's not the wisest thing for me to do right now.  I've been going over the pros and cons in my head for the last two days:

1) I've paid for it already
2) It's a good little speedwork session
3) I have a massage scheduled for the next day so whatever I do to my legs could get worked out.
4) I've done this race before and I really like it

1) It's a hilly course
2) It could make my glute / nerve pain worse
3) I'd be wasting my entry fee if I didn't race
4) I'd go harder than I actually need to because it's a race

On screen it's a tie but I think that Con #2 is my biggest concern.  So, instead of racing, I think I'll don my expensive race shirt and do my long run on the flat waterfront trail by my house Saturday morning.  I hate missing races but realistically this is not my A race.  It's not even my B race, it's just a race.  Period.  It would have been race number 3 of my #13in2013 challenge but looks like that honor will fall to Boston, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I have to remember to keep my eyes on the prize:  finishing Boston feeling strong!

11 more days.  Where did the time go?