Weather Jinx

As I sit here five days out from the Adirondack marathon with too much time on my hands and therefore lots of time to think, I realized something.

My marathon weather has well and truly sucked this year. 3 marathons – all different kinds of bad weather.

Does mother nature hate me?

Lets review…

January – Disney marathon
30 degrees at the start. In Florida. Ummm what??? Granted it did eventually (like like 3 hours in) warm up to 50. But still…was NOT prepared for that. See how cold I look?

May – Maine Coast marathon
Nor’easter. 43 at the start. Torrential downpours. And crazy winds. Gheesh…. nothing like looking like a drowned rat in all your photos. LOL

September – Adirondack marathon.
Fall. In the mountains. And look… actually don’t look because every time I DO look it goes up. And I just can’t deal.


But I have no choice. Other than to suck it up and get through it. At least it’s not going to be windy. 

My friend said I might need to adjust my goals. I said yeah, if it gets that bad i’m just gonna walk and sing Disney tunes.

Thank goodness there’s a lake to dive into at the end. Which is nice. 

So wish me luck folks….i’m gonna need it! 🙂

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Maine Coast Marathon – splash & dash race recap

When you’re standing under an umbrella just outside the start corral, listening to the DJ play “Raindrops keep falling on my head”, all you can do is laugh. 

And when your hubby leans over and says “forget this – let’s just go drink margaritas all day”, you laugh again and reply “don’t tempt me!”

Instead…you wait til the 2 minute warning, give him a quick kiss, and join the runners dressed in trash bags and ponchos, feet already wet and itching to get going. 

Then, as you near the start and hear “laughter in the rain” followed by “I love a rainy night” you throw your hands in the air, clap and whoop. 

It’s time to dance.

I had a lot of fun on Sunday. Sure, it was hands down the WORST conditions I’ve ever run a marathon in – it was a nor’eastah after all – but it was a beautiful scenic course full of friendly runners and awesome volunteers. 

Having no idea how the weather would affect me, I decided to toss my time goal out the window and just have fun. I never looked at my watch, just ran how I felt. 

I started slow, and easy.  I didn’t care what any of the other runners were doing.  I wanted to cruise and relax and see if I could just feel good for most of the race.  I ended up chatting with another runner for what turned out to be nearly 3 miles before she chose to slow down for a bit.  She was a fellow disney runner and super nice.  I never got her name, but I hope she had a great race.  Maybe i’ll run into her in January.

After my new friend fell back, I surged.  It felt right.  Not too fast, but just, comfortable.

And when the two younger girls I passed at mile 5, who I had chatted with at mile 1 (one running her first marathon) hollered out “hey mermaid girl – what’s your time goal” I replied “4:25 to 4:45 – come catch me”  🙂

A couple minutes later, I spotted friends who were on the course to cheer me on.  YAY!  Thanks Cara & Susan for standing in the rain just to see me come by – you rock.

Well, it was all fun and games until we hit the ocean.  And the wind and the rain were a reality check.  My brain doesn’t usually question me this early in a race.  It was all “your hotel is at mile 9.  Its warm and dry in there.  Why are we doing this again?”

Yet, after passing through downtown Kennebunkport and along my hotel where the hubby waited, I stopped just long enough to give him a kiss.  “How are you he asked, wet and cold?” I replied “oh, I’m soaked, but I’m fortunately not freezing”  With a “see ya in three hours” I rejoined the group.


And it continued on pretty much the same way.  Any time the course dipped down along the water, scenic yet horrific, and when we headed back inland where the trees blocked some of the wind, it felt way better.

Now, some of you may be aware, but there was an issue on the course near mile 12.  An unfortunate detour.  Having just experienced one of these three weeks at at the Blackstone 1/2, I have to say how EXTREMELY glad I am they had it straightened out by the time I came by.  And I feel awful for the fast runners, going for BQ times and PRs that were negatively affected. 

As we came up that hill I could see the mile 12 marker in front of me the other side of the ‘side street’ and feel my watch vibrate the mile, so I was baffled at the runners coming from the side.  Thinking “am I only at 11?” when the volunteers started yelling “go straight, go straight” and it hit me for the second race in a row there was a ‘communication breakdown’.  

Right around here it started getting hillier.  I had watched the course video, so I knew there was a beast at mile 15.  But that once I was over that, the rest was reasonable.  

I didn’t expect the short steep bugger at mile 14.  Fortunately it coincided with when I needed a gel.  Which I had to walk to get out of my pocket and attempt to open.  (side note – trying to get a soaking wet glove on and off in a cold rain is NOT easy).  So it wasn’t that I needed to walk that hill…it was just timing.  LOL

And it might have been when I turned the corner by 15, saw the hill and said out loud “Holy Cow”, I was actually able to shimmy right up it. (I am not an interval girl – I simply believe in a well-placed ‘reset’ walk of a minute or so when needed.)

There were actually quite a few hills…

By mile 16 I had fallen into a ‘make it to the next gel’ pattern.  Trying to not think about how far I had left, and how long it would take if I just gave in and walked to the end. Instead breaking it down into reasonable 4-mile segments.  

But things were starting to get cold and my legs were getting stiff and my feet were just, oh I didn’t even want to know.

And when we headed to the out-and-back piece by mile 20 and saw ‘the lagoon’ I may have frozen for a second.   I’m sure at the time they planned the route, they had no idea that it was going to be bad weather, or that the road would flood.  Leaving runners one of two options “shimmy up and along a stone wall, or go through the 4-5 inch deep puddle’.  There was no lawn to get around it on. It was being stuck between a rock and a wet place.  

And…we had to cross it twice.

The first time through, I tried to find the ‘shallower’ parts. But on the way back, having just crossed the mile 20 marker and not even caring, I just splashed right through that sucker.  It was COLD.  lol

I think it was somewhere around here that I met the ‘buffet brigade’ – two hula girls, a pirate and a shark.  My mermaid skirt had finally found some like-minded runners.   And when the hula girls ended up a bit ahead of the pirate and shark, as I passed I told them “They’re just behind you.  Your pirate stopped for rum.”  (see – no matter how harsh the conditions, I still run happy)

At mile 23, I knew I could finish.  I just had to pull it out from somewhere inside.  Until I crested the hill and was met with…the storm.

The 24th mile was well and truly the most intense mile for me.  It was icy needles of rain.  It was wind blowing me both sideways and backwards.  And the sea was crashing on the rocks – gloriously and violently. It was mesmerizing and deafening and through here was near impossible for running.  I know it was my slowest mile as I would run a bit, walk a bit.  But I just had to keep moving.  

And maybe that’s why when I saw the water station with the m&ms and then the mile 25 marker, I smiled.  I had this.  And as I passed another runner I leaned over and whispered “Just keep swimming”

And the rain seemed to let up.  And the wind seemed to stop.  And there was so many lovely little downhills that I just cruised along.  
When I came along the mile 26 sign I turned to the girl next to me and said “this sign is a thing of beauty”.

And around the corner I could see the finish chute.  I tore off the poncho that had lived in my closet for 3 years, always carried to races just in case but never needed until this day, and dropped it by the side of the road.
Because darn it – I wanted at least ONE good photo.

I called out to the three kids right outside the fence “I need a high-five, who’s got me” and slapped hands with all three.

I went up into the finish chute and glanced at the clock. For the first time all race.  And seriously had to do a double take. No. Way.

I had my medal hung around my neck by a member of the Maine National Guard (awwww!) and a foil blanket wrapped around me by a volunteer while another handed me my water bottle (reusable race-logo water bottle – such a nice touch).

I was in a daze.  I’m not sure if its because at that point I was exhausted and slap-happy, or if it was because, despite tossing any hope of a sub 4:30 marathon out the window, I had come THAT close.

I ran a 4:30:56.  

My second fastest finish ever.  My fastest marathon in a poncho.  My fastest marathon in a nor’easter.  (See, we runners can find PRs almost anywhere. LOL)

I am extremely proud of myself for never giving up.  For keeping a positive attitude for 26.2 miles. For actually having fun and finding the humor.  And for running like a beast.  
Does part of me still wish I could somehow have shaved 57 seconds off my finish time? Sure.  But I know I did my absolute best out there.  And that is what matters.

Thanks Maine Coast for a great race that I will definitely come back and run again.  Hopefully in better conditions.  🙂 

Plus I absolutely love my sparkly mermaid medal. 

Ps…a quick shout out to those products that got me through.  

Running Buddy – my buddy pouch is priceless and the buddy clips work like magic to keep my bib secure. Proud to be a Running Buddy Ambassador!

Sparkle Athletic – love my mermaid skirt (and everything else they make)

Huma – my new favorite gels

Bodyglide & smartwool socks – 4 1/2 hours of wet feet, no blisters.  Sweet!

Brooks launch 4 – shamrock shoes. Truly lucky. Plus my friend could see me from a long ways off. 

Get me to the coast!

And pack me an umbrella….  its gonna be soggy.

Yes folks, my weather jinx on races continues.   The most positive thing I can think of right now is, well at least I won’t get heatstroke!  Because this?  Is comical! IMG_4399

Sure, its only Wednesday.  It can change.  And 40’s no problem. Rain? Eh, been there done that.  Wind?  Sure. But all together?  Its hilarious.  Does that really say 40mph wind gusts?

That should make for some impressive waves….just hoping none of them come crashing up over the sea wall.  Who know the race needed a “Warning: You May Get Wet” sign.

So sure….  this makes me rethink my outfit.  Because, really, isn’t that what taper is for?  You’ve done the work, you’ve got way more time on your hands and so your focus turns to clothing.  And race goals.  I’ve got three scenarios now.

Scenario 1.  Bought the tank oh, two months ago.  And the skirt to go with it.  Because, the race logo is a mermaid.  Plus May can be warm.  So channeling my inner Ariel.  Also, race goal with this outfit?  Potential PR.IMG_4401

Scenario 2.  Last week – watching the weather get colder.  Okay, 40’s can be fast.  Just gotta swap the tank for a tee shirt (boo!) and add some arm warmers.  Cuz we hafta sparkle.  Still, this is a FAST outfit.  And if the wind isn’t terrible, we can so break 4:30, if not PR.IMG_4402

Scenario 3.  Based on the weather posted above as of this morning?  Lets not melt…  I do have a purple jacket (I ran my 2nd marathon – also a drizzly cold mess – in it) but its oddly vanished.  If i can find it – i’ll swap it for the pink.  Because purple is always faster. Also, we may need to go hat over visor.  Dang.  IMG_4403

This one needs some work….  because I have a hunch its gonna be the one.

Come hell or high-water (which is a possibility. LOL) tho,  i am wearing the mermaid skirt.  Just might end up with pants under it.

But, no matter what…I WILL have fun.  And I WILL run my best. And I WILL have some good stories to tell.  Because one of the water stops is labeled “Sheep Farm” – how can that NOT be adorable.  And there are m&m’s at mile 25.  (woohoo!).

Maine Coast Marathon?  I’m coming for ya…give me your worst.  I got this!

Plant Powered Running – a year in review

It all started with Meatless May.

It was the weeks leading up to a marathon where I was trying to eat clean and my husband and I opted to cut back on /try to eliminate our meat consumption as well.   And come May 1st, I decided to see if I could go a month without meat.

Meatless May has so far lasted one year and 2 days.  And is still going strong.

Granted, I am not a vegan.  And that’s mostly due to a) my love of cheese and b) my gluten allergy.  Because you know what most vegan proteins are made of? Yep, gluten.

What I am…is a celiac pescetarian.   (possibly the most annoying eater on the planet.  LOL)  I eat fish, and sometimes eggs (organic, free range), and sometimes cheese (preferably small farm local or goat cheese).

My only ice cream in the past year was a banana split during Disney marathon weekend, But that was a situation where I didn’t have a lot of options at the restaurant.  And I only ate half.  And it was amazing.

I also eat kale, and spinach and lentils and beans and tofu and edamame and all kinds of amazing stuff.  Is it weird to say I love tofu? Its a challenge being a runner and not eating meat, because protein is essential to my way of life.  But there are a lot of plant based sources.  And I love the Vega company – their bars and shakes are delicious and convenient.

So has this new way of life affected my running skills?  I’d say it has…for the better.

And I mean granted, I am not saying that giving up chicken, pork, beef, etc made me a better runner.  But I think when you are focused on what goes into your body in a healthy way, it affects other aspects of your training – like committing to strength training and proper run fueling and hydration.

So lets look at what i’ve accomplished in the past 12 months:

  • May 1, 2016 – Providence Marathon.  Ran the entire thing.  Every single step.  My 10th marathon, but the first one I didn’t walk any of.
  • August 19-20, 2016 – Anchor Down Ultra.  12 hours of non stop running / walking. 44.1 miles.  My new distance PR.  And 9th female finisher.  Wow…
  • November 24, 2016 – Gobble Wobble 5k.  25:20.  a 5k PR.  And 6th in my age group.
  • January 5-8, 2017 – Walt Disney World Marathon weekend.  5k & marathon (Goofy Challenge 1/2 was rained out). Most fun i’ve ever had at a marathon.  And got my favorite race photo ever at mile 25.
  • April 23, 2017 – Blackstone Valley Half-marathon.  Fastest half in 2 years.  2:00:12 at the 13.1 marker and a 2:03:22 finish (13.47 miles).  Even hit a 57:00 10k.  Holy crow!

And next on the docket is the Maine Coast Marathon.  May 14th.

I’m not saying I have a shot at a marathon PR… but I might just.   Because you see, Sunday was my final LONG run – a 21 miler.  And it was the fastest i’d run an 18-22 mile training run since April 2015.

We’ll see what happens in 12 days. And yes, i’m going to spend taper freaking out and coming up with my real race goal (and backup goal) and checking the weather and questioning my outfit, just like normal.  But i’m also going to trust that may, just maybe as I approach marathon #12, that I finally know what i’m doing.

And I’ll have faith that if the amazing things I have accomplished this year are any indication, Maine Coast will be epic.

 

Race Recap – Blackstone Valley Half-Marathon

Sunday, under slightly cool temps and gorgeous clear blue skies…magic happened.  I ran a 2:00:12 half-marathon.  Unfortunately it was on a 13.47 mile course.  I’ll explain later…

After having the Walt Disney World half cancelled and opting out of the freezing cold Ocean’s Run half I was itching to get out there on a course and see what I could do.

What’s funny is that neither of those were races I was planning to actually ‘race’.  But rather just run for fun.   And i’m not entirely sure when I decided that I was going to full on race Blackstone.  But once I did I went into serious preparation mode.

The few days before were all about hydration and nutrition.  Outfit and playlist. Course review and mental preparation.  Coming up with anything I could to give me that extra boost out there.

I almost never run with music.  Except for #turkeyvisionquest I hadn’t run outside to music in a couple of years.  I’m more of a ‘sounds of nature’ runner.  But again, I knew how using music in November had led to a PR, so I was going to see if it made a difference here.  I created a PEP (performance enhancing playlist) of all my favorite metal and rock songs, and threw in a few new ones from favorite artists (Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motley Crue, Airbourne) which turned out to be perfect.

Also… my bib # turned out to be 201. And I got this crazy idea, maybe I could run my number. (I sort of did…)

Sunday morning was literally race perfect.  It was about 46 at the start, blue sky, slight breeze.  The race started/finished right by Slater Mill in Pawtucket, RI.   Tons of parking right by the start (in fact the hubs was able to sit in the back of our hatchback watching runners fly to the finish) and access to the visitor center and really nice bathrooms were a bonus.

After a beautiful and oddly moving national anthem (maybe it was the way the flag was waving in the wind with the sun shining on it got me…) we were off.  Kickoff playlist song?  Rock & Roll (Zeppelin).  🙂

The course headed south, looped around and headed back past the start.  And this is where it got interesting.   I was tucked in with a crowd and had Robert Plant in my ears and when the group turned, I went with them.  I think I knew in the back of my head it wasn’t right.  But I didn’t question it.  Because racing is pack mentality.  One goes – all go.

Until the race director chased us down to tell us we’d been sent the wrong way and turned us around  (Is this were we tell the course volunteer “you had ONE job”? LOL).  For me?  This ended up with an extra .37 miles that I spent the rest of the race trying to make up for. Turns out the lead runner?  He’d tacked on an extra 3/4 of a mile with the ‘detour’.   And the funniest piece of all this?  The song Plant was singing? Communication Breakdown.

But I was in a very good-natured group.  We joked about “well, I’ve always worried about getting lost on a course.  Now that it’s happened, I don’t have to worry about it”  And “There goes my age group win.”

The rest of the course?  Clearly marked and absolutely beautiful.  Just enough change in elevation to keep it interesting, but not overly challenging.  The only ‘beast’ came around mile 5.  One of those hills where you turn, see it, let out a quick curse word and shimmy to the top.  Only to turn and see it keeps going.  Ugh.   But that hill was followed by a long spectacular downhill with mountain views.   And was great for me for just coasting and resetting for the second half.  And also let me knock off two of my ‘standard race goals’ – high-fiving a kid and barking at a dog.

There isn’t a ton of crowd support out there – tho the water stops were filled with enthusiastic volunteers – but a few people stood on corners or in their yards.   And the sections on the bike path and some cyclists pulled over watching us.

I saw a couple of funny signs “if trump can run you can too”  And a set early on of “just 5 miles to go’ and “she can’t do math” with an arrow pointing to the first sign.  But my favorite sign?  The town sign of Central Falls aka Chocolateville.  Seriously – you can’t go wrong if you’re running through Chocolateville.  LOL

But like I mentioned earlier, I feel like I spent a lot of the race trying to make up for the detour.  I ran that course with determination and strategy.  I cut ALL the tangents and tried to limit any extra steps.   I also watched my pace.  And when I hit the 10k mark in 57 minutes flat (what?? How???) I mentally calculated that I could still pull off my hopes of a sub 2:05 clock time.

Because I was fairly sure that I couldn’t hold this pace forever.  I fully expected that i’d slow down. Because I hadn’t run this fast for this long in…oh I don’t even know.   But then I let it go…and I stopped looking at my watch.  And I let my music and my legs lead me.

And when my watch beeped 13 I looked down…and pushed just a little. And watched myself hit my fastest 13.1 time in nearly two years (since June 2015).  A 2:00:12.

And with my favorite speedwork song playing I gave it everything I had and ran on to that finish.  Saw the hubs right before it and gave him a smile,  a wave and a thumbs up.

And then crossed that line in 2:03:22.  Which still, is my fastest half in two years.  And a darn good Disney POT (LOL). (Side note – that last half mile was an 8:32 pace. Wow!)

Got my shiny medal (seriously – the back of this thing is mirror surface) and a water, and tried to not throw up. (Guess I really was racing all out.  lol  Its not the speed – its the sudden stop that does it.)

I’m feeling really proud of myself for doing so well.  And i’m also feeling this new confidence going into the Maine Coast Marathon.  This half was just what I needed.  

Am I disappointed about this being an ‘extended cut’?  Sure…but its okay.  There’s always another race.  And this was still a great one that I will definitely run again.  Only next time, pack be damned, I am NOT making that right turn.

 

 

The Greeter

Can I just say how April’s weather is so far a vast improvement over March? Yay!!

And just in time with all the miles that sit on my calendar between now and the Maine Coast Marathon. Because 20 miles is WAY more fun at 50 degrees than in 30.  

The other advantage to this weather is that I’m back logging regular lunchtime runs along the lovely Charles River path. Me and TONS of other runners. 

My tribe…has returned. And yes, there are lots of characters among them.  

It’s amazing to think how many random strangers I know by their sneakers, or their hat or their lack of shirt. Lol

But there is one fella I know by his wave. (And his beard. He has a cool one.)

I’ve seen him probably 3 or 4 times recently, and I absolutely love this guy.  

Why? Because he goes out of his way to wave at every single runner (or walker or dog) he passes.  And it really makes me happy to wave back and say hi. 

He’s become one of the highlights of my “runches”. 

This week, I passed him from behind early into my run and was actually disappointed that I wouldn’t get to say hi. But due to some kind of path and pace magic, after I hit the turn around point, there he was coming at me (yes!!). So I was able to wave and smile after all. 

It’s the little things. Because sure, we all have different goals and paces and reasons for why we lace ’em up and head to the river. But when we are out there…we are all runners.  So why not be friendly. 😀 👋

As far as training? It’s going awesome. Sunday was “just” 12 miles so I used it as sort of a time-trial for the Blackstone Valley Half (in 2 weeks).

I think there’s hope for me yet! 

And pictured are my must have long run accessories –  buddy pouch, Brooks launches & garmin. Plus look ma – no sleeves! Gotta love t-shirt weather. Woohoo!!

Hope you all have a great week, beautiful spring weather and happy runs. 😃

Hello April…lets party!

Anyone else glad that March is finally over?  Boy that was rough…

It came in like a lamb…then went full lion and stayed there.  With that one last hurrah of a snow storm on the 31st.  Because, why not.

But not only was the weather totally lion & lamb…so was my running.  March started nice and easy with marathon training just getting good.  And ended with a double-long run week.  For the second year in a row, March was my highest mileage total since March.  🙂  147 miles.  Of course, getting in an 18 mile run on the 31st totally helped with that total.  LOL

But see, in my family April is a big birthday month.  And my aunt was turning 60 so there was a surprise party to attend.  (Happy Birthday Aunt Laurie – glad you loved your party!)

So the options were… skip the long run this weekend and do 18 next weekend (with 20 the weekend after), or take a vacation day for the 18 and just do 12 next weekend.

Since the idea of running 18 & 20 back to back didn’t appeal, I went vacation day.  (Side note – does anyone else find that half of their vacation time ends up related to running? Training, races, etc.)

Granted, my 18 was definitely slower than the 16 I had done the Sunday before.  

And I was playing a game of “beat the rain” the whole time (got to 12 before the sprinkles and 16.5 before the hail.  LOL).  But it was totally worth it.

Because see… one of the April birthdays in my family is mine.  I get to enter a new 5-year age group this month (not confessing to which one) and i’d rather its first long run be an easy 12.

So while March was my workhorse month, April is my serious marathon training month.

I’ve got 2 20-milers planned AND a half-marathon (finally!) sandwiched between them.

Its just 5 1/2 weeks to Maine Coast…and we’ve still got plenty of work to do.  (OMG…I HAVE A MARATHON IN 5 1/2 WEEKS.  EEK! LOL)

But…its finally getting warmer. And lighter out in the mornings.  And while we’ve got miles to go, I just know they will be some good ones.

Hope everyone has a great month – and some really good spring runs!