When bad runs go good

Sunday had the makings of a spectacular disaster.

I was tired, I was cranky, I did NOT want to go run. My left knee hurt, my left calf hurt, my right foot had both heel and toe issues and I was just not feeling the run-love.

I sat on the couch all “I don’t want to run. But its Sunday, I have to run. But I REALLY don’t want to. But i’ll regret it if I don’t. GO RUN.”

Instead I took the Gus out, and then changed my outfit because you know, stalling… and finally headed out.

I almost didn’t take my Garmin. I didn’t want to know how slow and hideous my pace was gonna be. But I couldn’t remember exactly how far my loop was, and I needed 12 miles, so instead I promised myself if the pace was truly embarrassing that i’d just delete it.

Sure, I have a half-marathon in two weeks and so I should have been trying for a decent run. But it was warm and slimy-humid and with the list of grievances listed above, I knew I had to just let it go and run easy.

Well, not EASY, but slow. Because nothing was going to be easy.

And as I chugged along I tried to change my brain. I stopped to photograph a random stuffed animal.

And I stopped at a waterfall for a minute. And I kept an eye out for critters and commiserated with some other runners about how hideously humid it was.

It was around mile 8 that things started to turn and my pace got better. I want to blame Sasquatch. (This must be freaky at night!)

But really, it was the ‘incredibly fit couple’ i’d seen a minute before. There they were, dressed in black and muscles, strapping their child into a stroller. They gave a very cheerful hello as I went by. And then, I could hear them behind me. And I was all “Yeah, no. I am NOT getting passed by a stroller on a Sunday run.” LOL

So I surged a bit and it felt good. And I shimmied up the giant hill at mile 9. And I kept going.

At mile 11 I had reached my house and debated going in for water and then doing 2 more miles, or just toughing it out for 1. And was afraid if I went inside i’d stay there. So 12 it was going to be.

And as I headed up my loop and saw the row of sprinklers on, I did a happy dance of joy. With my arms raised and a smile on my face I went straight through. And got soaked. Yay!!

And it made me happy enough that I speed up, and had my fastest mile of the day. A 9:00. I ended a hair under 10/mi overall, so I decided it was save-worthy.

Because it truly wasn’t that slow – it just felt it after how great i’ve been running lately. I have to remember that its summer, and that it means i’m going to get a smidge slower.

Which is okay, because a 2:00 Disney POT and a 2:03 Disney POT will put me in the same corral. So I don’t really need to kill myself on course in Bristol in oh, less than two weeks, if I don’t want to. We’ll wait and see what the weather brings.

For now, i’ll just trudge along and hope for sprinklers!

PS. How awesome is my new shirt? I just can’t resist anything hummingbird.

We’re on to July

So…you just ran the Maine Coast Marathon. Now what?

Well, to paraphrase my favorite coach, we’re on to July!

Next up, is a little something i’m calling the “Stars & Stripes Challenge” – a half-marathon and 10k in the same weekend. A shame they aren’t back-to-back days like a good challenge should be, but other than Disney this will be the first time i’ve done multiple races in the same weekend and I think it will be fun.

So, what makes up this challenge?

The first part is the Independence Rhode Race in Bristol, RI on July 1st.

And the second part is the Finish at the 50 10-k in Foxboro, MA on the 3rd. I’ve never run Bristol, although I spent 12 hours on part of its course last summer (the Anchor Down Ultra – Colt State Park) and if you’re going to see downtown Bristol, July 4th weekend is the time to do it. Sure, the race starts “Disney Early”, but it should make it better for running temperature-wise.

Finish at the 50 i’ve done a few times. And there is just something SO magical about the stadium finish. Running up the field to the 50-year line will never not make me smile.

I already have half of my outfit picked. Can’t go wrong with a good sparkle skirt! 

 And I think I know what the tops will be – but that, i’ll share later.

Its going to be fun spending June rebuilding to race. I’ve got that 2:00 i’d love to hit for Disney corral POT and I want to PR the 10K (59:31 for a course PR or 58:28 overall 10K PR – I don’t run a lot of 10k’s and they are always summer. LOL)

Is anyone else running either of these? Would love to know who I might see out there. 🙂 And wish me luck in training – but don’t worry, i’ll keep you posted how it goes!

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!

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.

 

 

Happy Marathoniversary

Yep, this weekend marked 5 years since my first marathon.  April 16, 2012.

And considering how that one went – Boston, 88 degrees, and beastly – I could have have given them up entirely.  Instead, stubborn warrior girl that I am, I wanted a rematch. With both the marathon and that course.   Boston ended up my 1st, 3rd and 5th.

Number 12 is approaching… in 3 1/2 weeks.   And they still haven’t gotten any easier.  But i’ve gotten better at training and embracing the suck.  🙂

So Sunday, in honor of Boston the following day, as part of training for the Maine Coast Marathon and as a celebration of my marathoniversay – I had a 20-miler planned for Sunday.

And…much like that day in Boston, the weather has drastically different ideas.

I headed out the door fairly early, but it was already 60 degrees.  By mile 9 it was sunny mid-60’s and climbing and I desperately needed water, a lighter shirt and my hair up. So, route altered and home for a ‘water stop / wardrobe change’.

By mile 10 the bargains started…  make it to ten and walk 1/4 mile.  And I did a couple of ‘mile repeats’ with a 1/4 mile walk break.  And desperately looked for shade. At the half-mile marker (2:20) I realized that 20 miles was so not going to happen.  And myself I would keep moving until I hit 3 1/2 hours (the time 20 usually takes me) and I would run at least a few steps of every mile.  (which got progressively harder).

I know I sound like a wimp…but after a cold winter and usually running in 40-50 degrees, high 70’s – 80’s was way more than my body was ready for.   I was dehydrated and overheated and had no interest in collapsing on the side of the road. And it did hit me that OMG, I had this same problem 5 years ago today.

At mile 14, about a mile from my house and more cold water I kind of worried I wasn’t going to make it without water. But no problem – I had my ‘water fund’ in my pocket and a golf course up ahead.

Because golf courses have vending machines right?  Wrong.  Not this one.  Of course, its easter and hot sweaty red-faced me walked into a clubhouse full of people in nice dresses and an easter bunny looking for a drink.   No sign of machines, so I wander into the pro shop where I was informed they don’t sell drinks (maybe I could try the grille room).

And it hit me… I was having a “pretty woman” moment.  Disheveled looking street person wandering into a nice place trying to buy something and not getting help “I have money and no one will help me!”

I did at least find a ladies room with paper towels and cold water from the sink and made do.  Runners are resourceful.    And a mile later at home I chugged water, and endurolytes and ice (one cube in the sports bra, one tucked in the back of my sparkle visor) and filled my running buddy h20 and headed out for the death march of the final two miles.

My friends think i’m a happy runner.  And I totally am. But I have never been so miserable on a run as I was at mile 17.5 walking ever slower up the street, practically crying, and muttering “I want to stop.  I am miserable.  I do not want to move another step.” followed by “Suck it up buttercup.  We don’t quit when it hurts.  We quit when we’re done”  And there has never been a sweeter sound than the beep of my garmin at mile 18.  (which was still .1 from my front door. ugh.  lol)

I was a hot mess.  Quite literally.  And I am sending a request to the weather gods to PLEASE not let Maine Coast be this hot!

But at least on the course there will be water stops, and I won’t be something the nice townsfolk will share stories about for days

Omg…did you see that girl? Was she crazy?

No…she’s just a runner.

 

Sushi vs the Long Run

I blame the salmon. Or maybe it was the wasabi. But whatever it was, it did not agree with my decision to run after lunch. 

But I had decided that there was no way I was doing a third treadmill long run in a row. My brain might finally explode. 

And Saturday afternoon was going to be the nice point of the weekend.  

And I totally didn’t think anything would be wrong with going out for sushi with the hubs for lunch. Rice is usually a runners best friend.  And soy sauce is practically an electrolyte. 😉

But…there was a lot of “I don’t usually” involved. Like…I don’t usually run in the afternoon. I don’t usually run on Saturdays. I don’t usually run long the day after leg day. And I don’t usually run after sushi. Okay, I have never run after sushi. 😂

It wasn’t immediately after. I gave it an hour. Then laced up, grabbed my favorite accessories – buddy pouch & sparkle visor – and headed out for a goal of 12-14 miles. 

And about a half mile in…the sushi roared to life.  (Totally pictured Godzilla rising over the Tokyo skyline) It was…not pleased. 

But eh. I’m an ultra runner. I’m used to keeping moving when things hurt. It’s just not usually my stomach.  

But I said to myself, what if this happens at Maine Coast. What if you have a lobster roll the night before and at mile 8 it claws back?

If we have to train for any possible snafu, then maybe this is a good thing. (Yeah sure…lol)

So I kept moving. And hoped it would go away. But spent the next several miles alternating between hoping I would throw up and not wanting to be “the runner who hurled in front of somebody’s house” 

I tried to focus on how nice it was out and just breathing in the fresh air. Staying slow and steady and reminding myself “You’re not on the treadmill for the first time in 10 days. Yay!”

And, I called the run at 13.1. I just didn’t have 14 in me. But that’s okay.  Because I wasn’t even sure I could do that. 😀
I was, however, extremely pleased to see that my run was both faster than I thought and quite consistent. 

In fact the only reason the last mile was a smidge slower was because of an ice patch I couldn’t avoid and had to walk over. Not bad…

So I’m really hoping that next weekend, when I’m not involved in a battle of “woman vs food” that the run gets even better. Especially if I get to run outside again. 

March has been kinda bipolar. So there are no guarantees. Except that I will definitely not be having sushi before I run. 😁