Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Boston Marathon 2017 {Race Recap}

Monday Funday!

I woke up at 5:40 Marathon Monday morning and ate my trusty belvita biscuit. I got all my stuff together and walked with L over to the buses. As we got out of the elevator in our hotel we ran into Bart Yasso. I knew it would be a good day after that. I was calm but super excited that I would be running the Boston Marathon in a few short hours!



I was optimistic that it would somehow be cooler in Hopkinton than Boston and that I would be able to execute my race plan. I never looked at my weather app on Monday- I didn't need some dumb excuse to blame on a poor race before it even started. I had put in a lot of work to run this race- at the very least I was going to enjoy nearly every step. {achievement unlocked}



I said goodbye to L and got on a bus. I sat next to a girl from Toronto and we had a lovey chat on the hour long ride out to Hopkinton. We had both completed triathlons- it was so nice to pass the time chatting away.



We pulled into the drop off area and went our separate ways. My original plan was to meet at a house across from the school where my friend was- but I couldn't get past security, so I sat on the ground in the athlete village for a while. I eventually got up to take a photo with the famous "It all starts in Hopkinton" sign. I scampered off to use the portalet one last time before it was time to head towards the corrals. I ate 2 more Belvita biscuits at the village.



Just before the start of the first wave, there was a flyover of F15's. We were warned multiple times this would occur by the announcer. The announcer was hilarious. He kept saying how they were only asking for wave 1 (red bibs) to head to the start- and if you didn't have one to stay in the village until it was your time. And if you wanted to run in wave 1, you need to run faster to belong there.



Rip Get Lucky shirt.

Soon it was time for the wave 2 folks to head towards the start corrals. I sprayed myself with sunscreen and dropped my Get Lucky shirt at a clothing collection site. The herd moved slowly towards the staging area in the parking lot. I was a big ball of emotions.



The walk ended at the parking lot where we stood for 10-15 min before being herded to the start line.



It felt like the walk took forever to get to the start line. It was .7 miles- everyone for the most part was quiet. It was a great time to go over my race plan one last time and think about the mantra in the meditation from JasYoga I had been using- I am....here now.



I was full of emotions standing in the start corral waiting to start my journey to Boston. The corral was full of younger women and some older guys- expected since we were placed by qualifying time.

As we shuffled to the start line, I was overcome with emotion. I was finally here, I was healthy. This is it!

Goal A- have fun, PR
Goal B- have fun, BQ
Goal C- have fun

Had I looked at the temps, I would have readjusted to simply "have fun" because 75 degrees is not ideal to run a marathon..



I took off towards Boston and monitored my watch every once In a while. My goal would have been to run 7:45's the first 5k, but my pace was low 8's-8:20. I knew at this point the heat would be a big factor for the race. I continued to run smart and not push it- especially on the downhills. I didn't want to blow out my legs in the first 10k of the race.



Around 9-10 miles into the race, I caught up to my BFF's boyfriend, E. Running into him gave me a bit of pep in my step- while the crowds were amazing, the heat was starting to wear on me. We chatted and I felt more consistent in pacing and effort- and banished the "omg so hot" thoughts out of my head.

Running through the Wellesley scream tunnel was intense. I kissed a few girls on the cheek- when in Boston... I wanted the full Boston experience.

We hit the halfway around 1:50, and I was feeling good, but warm. It was around halfway that I started dumping water on my head at every aid station.



It was so nice running without headphones- I would talk to people as we passed by. Around mile 17 we ran into V and I gave her a big wet hug! It was around this point that I thought to myself, Carnage. We were passing people instead of going with the flow or being passed. There were also more and more folks walking.

The Newton hills were hilly, but not as bad as I expected. Whatever I did to prepare worked (loads of squats and stairs). Around the hills I got a popsicle from a spectator- nectar of the gods. I ran through sprinklers and fire hydrants spraying water on the road. The water felt great especially when a good breeze came by.





I saw L and friends at mile 22 and gave him a big hug and kiss. For the duration of the race I had a big goofy grin plastered to my face. It was hot, yeah, but I trained hard and felt relatively good running. I gave hugs to some spectators who held up "free hugs" signs. Why not!? I high fived 100's of people on the journey from Hopkinton to Boston. Around mile 24 I started to speed up and zoomed it in to the finish. Seeing the Citgo sign made me cry.



Right on Hereford and left on Boylston gave me all the feels. I had to hold back the ugly cry- plus it was extremely difficult to run and cry at the same time. The finish line seemed to take forever to get to- and then it was over. I collected my medal and water and took a picture.



I was ecstatic about my time of 3:42:01. I felt like I ran a super smart race despite the crappy weather. If I could run a 3:42 in the heat, then I could certainly BQ no problem in better temps.

One of the many conversations E and I had was about effort in races. I know that at best, in a marathon I'm operating at 80%. I tend to want to feel comfortable the entire time- save for the last bit when I know things can't go wrong. Also, I want to avoid the med tent. It got me wondering what I would truly be capable of if I embraced the tough times more.



Post race and post shower L and I went to Row 34 for a delicious seafood dinner. Then we went to Bukowskis where I continued the celebration with a Sam Adams 26.2 brew.



And then continued the celebrations with a Marathon Wheat from Start Line brewing- they are out of Hopkinton and recently opened in November.



The brewers happened to be sitting next to us at the bar and were super nice. Their IPA was also delicious



These past 18 weeks flew by- I can't believe it's all over now. I can't thank L enough for supporting me to achieve this dream. It's been amazing.

Housekeeping:

•Salt tab pre race
•Gu at mile 4.5, 10, 15, 20
•Salt tab at mile 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 23
•Carried bottle of Osmo until mile 13 when I finished it- usually I still am drinking from my handheld until like 20!
•2 popsicles on the course
•Mile 13 started dumping water on my head
•100's of high fives given
•Smiles the whole way.




This was one of the most fun races I've ever run. I'm happy I ran a smart race and didn't try to PR or kill myself out there. So many awesome memories. I hope to return and run Boston again. 💛🦄💙

Friday, April 21, 2017

Boston Marathon Training {Week 18}

This last week of training went by so fast! Being swamped at work helped me not obsess over the fact I was running the Boston Freaking Marathon in a few days.

Motivation

Getting my number at the expo. One of 98,638 times I got emotional during the week. Finally having that little piece of paper in my hands meant everything to me. Almost exactly a year ago I qualified for Boston in the Carmel marathon- I've waited a year for this moment.


Running into Bart Yasso multiple times was also pretty cool. Ive heard him speak at Fleet Feet a few times- he's a great ambassador to the running community.


Workouts

I ran outside with the CB dog before work one morning. To see the sunrise with him was so nice.


I did a few easy runs and some JasYoga during the week too. I did one little speed sesh on Wednesday or Thursday- some 4x400's in my new shoes. I felt good.

Training Plan

From December 12, through April 17, I cycled 397 miles, and ran 685 miles. Overall I felt really good about my training- and felt optimistic about the race.


We got to do a shakeout with MRC Boston/Copenhagen on Sunday. It's always nice to see old friends and make new ones at MRC. We had fun running a few easy miles in 80 degrees to Cambridge.

Goals and Stuff

At the beginning of the week the predicted temps for Marathon Monday were going to be in the 40's. As the week went on, the heat kept rising. Uh oh! I was still confident that my "heat training" would pay off so I wasn't too worried. I was optimistic that Sunday's 80 degrees would dissipate to high 50's by Monday morning. (If it happens in Chicago, it can happen in Boston!?) I thought a 3:30 or BQ sub 3:40 would have been possible going into Monday morning. The weather had other plans though.


I was feeling so good for this race. I had lost 8lbs since February 1. Training had went well. I wasn't going to let heat scare me into a bad race.

Other

We walked around Boston a little bit during the weekend. We saw the firehouse on the corner of Hereford and Boylston- and their cute pup hanging out in the sun.


We went to Trillium Brewery in Canton. We met friends for dinner. We ran into one of our friends at the expo randomly before we could try to coordinate a meetup.


The week was full of awesomeness. It was everything I hoped it would be.

Looking Forward

I was so freaking pumped to actually run the Boston Marathon as a qualifier! I had run it in 2011 with a sponsor bib because I had won a contest- I got to share the experience with my Daad who had fulfilled his lifelong goal of qualifying then. But to run as a time qualifier had been my goal since 2011. It took 3 failed attempts at BQ (and missing by minutes) and then waiting a year to be here. I was so excited.









-Xaarlin

Monday, April 10, 2017

Boston Marathon Training {Week 17}

This was a good week! I was super busy, but everything seemed to click. I got in most of my workouts and felt really good. With Boston being just over a week away, I'm starting to have the OH SH*T thoughts that i'm running a marathon  and need to start packing all my stuff soon.

Motivation

This photo always puts a smile on my face- It's of Bill Rodgers and I from when I was just over a year old. We were on vacation in the Cayman Islands and my dad was running a 10K which Boston Bill was also running. I hope I can meet this legend in person this weekend and recreate the photo, minus the crying.
I also received the Boston jacket I ordered in the mail. I love it. It represents so much to me, and to wear it post race on Marathon Monday will be everything.

Workouts

I amended my plan as needed- the theme of this cycle. I am cautious to not over do it, and to listen to my body.  The highlights of the week were my speed sesh of 6x1200's at 7:30 pace which felt so easy, and my back to back 8 mile runs on the weekend. No lowlights to report back workout wise, although the last three runs i've had i've gotten all weepy thinking about the race. It's so hard to run and cry at the same time!
This weekend's weather was amazing! I enjoyed running outside and cruising up and down the lakefront. I purposely overdressed, so that come Boston, mid 45's will feel fabulous- and as it gets warmer, I wont feel overheated. All my "heat acclimatization" paid off for Carmel Marathon last year, so it was a no brainer to do the same thing with my training for this race.

Training Plan

Going into this week I was down on my training. I thought that I was undertrained compared to last year. On Friday night I wrote out a week by week comparison of Carmel vs Boston training, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that my Boston training is leagues above Carmel.

Some quick stats: For Boston training: I've run 641.83 miles (93.5 hours)  and cycled 396 miles (31 hours 20 min) through week 17 for a total of 1,038 miles for 127 hours.

For Carmel I ran a total of 480 miles (65.5 hours)  and cycled 734 miles (51 hours) for a total of 1,218.8 miles for 119 hours over 18 weeks. This includes the final week of workouts and Carmel marathon. I still have one week more of workouts to go for Boston!
Monday- 18.15 miles cycled
Tuesday- REST
Wednesday- 8 mile run- 6x1200's @7:30 pace with 400 recovery. Would have done more, short on time
Thursday- 9 miles cycled, 10 mile run
Friday- 9 miles cycled, 6 mile run
Saturday- 8 mile run w/3 miles at a faster pace
Sunday- 8 mile run w/2 miles at a faster pace, 45 minutes worth of JasYoga

Goals and Stuff

I'm still feeling optimistic about a sub 3:30 in Boston. I'm feeling healthy,  recovered and good- plus the forecast is looking *perfect* with lows in the mid 40's, high of 53 and an extremely low dew point.  I still need to nail down what to wear- whether it be my Coeur shorts with pockets, or my Lulu shorts. Im good with shoes, top, sun glasses, etc. I think i'll leave my ipod at home and soak in everything marathon on my way from Hopkinton to Boston. I just need to pack everything up in my travel bag!

Other

Shoes damn near gave me a panic attack this week. I had ordered a pair of Nike Streak LT3's, but realized once I received them that they were more for short distance racing- while they are beautiful (and green!!) I was in a bind. (I should have ordered the Nike Streak 6's). After my 8 miler on Saturday I called several local running stores looking for Nike racing flats- like the Streak or Epic- I would have even taken a fresh pair of Newtons at this point, yet everyone was out.
I called the Nike store and was in luck! They had the racing flats I needed. I tried the Nike Zoom Epic on and ran around the store a few times, and knew it was love at first wear. These are very similar to my Nike Zoom Pegasus, but are a few oz lighter- which makes a world of difference to me, especially in the later miles of a marathon. I wish they had the yellow or aqua color, but pink will have to do.
I wore them for my last longish run on Sunday of 8 miles and felt great. I threw a few GMPish miles in and flew down the lakefront.

Looking Forward

I just need to take care of myself this week. Im starting to get antsy about the race and beginning to freak out about packing and logistics. Time to make to do lists! I had a 90 minute massage on Saturday and it helped me relax and feel so much better. I also bought a cool salt lamp thing. I dont know if it really has any legit health benefits, but it looks awesome in my bedroom and that makes me happy. I'll also continue to take my probiotics, vitamins, BCAAs, and ZMA for sleep.
I've already started writing out my race day plan- like when to wake up, what to eat, when to get the bus, etc. and I've also begun writing out (and memorizing) my race execution plan which breaks the course down into 5k chunks. I'm super freaking excited for April 17!!

Days to go until BOSTON!




-Xaarlin

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Boston Marathon Training {Weeks 15 & 16}

2 weeks of being ridiculously busy. I sound like a broken record lately. When people ask me if I'm excited about Boston, my response is "of course I am!" The reality is that work has been insane and it's when I look at my workouts or a calendar and think "holy shit I'm running a marathon in 2 weeks!" Yeah, it's probably good I don't have much free time to obsess about this running hobby or work. But damn, I'm running the Boston freaking marathon in 2 weeks!


Motivation

The first of my 2 week's worth of motivation is receiving the runners passport and participant guide for Boston in the mail. I cried. Perhaps it was out of excitement, but also could have been out of exhaustion.


The second motivation I had was getting my fresh Marathon kicks in the mail. The newest Newton distance shoes! I was so exited for them. I didn't wear them the first weekend due to crappy conditions outside so I waited until this past week to wear them. I put one on and immediately realized they were too small. Zappos sent me the wrong size shoes. DOH! Needless to say they are on the first ups truck back and I'll get a refund. I just ordered some Nikes which I'll wear for the marathon which is a huge departure for me since I've exclusively run in Newton Distance shoes for all my half marathons and 26.2s since 2012.


Week 15


Recovery was slow after the half marathon. My calves were very sore for too many days. This is also a reason I chose to return the wrong size Newtons- I think they contributed to my soreness due to the heel toe drop. I love Newtons, but change is good too.

The highlight of this week (15) was my 19 miler. I ran inside because I didn't feel like running in cold rainy windy conditions.

The low light of this week was stepping off a curb and almost spraining my ankle. The tendons on the outside of my right leg were sore for a few days.

Week 16


Week 16 was my busiest yet. I had 2 rest days. I was exhausted. I spent 12 hours at one of my accounts doing walk throughs and was on my feet for way longer than normal- which exhausted me. My legs were so sore by the end of the week from all the walking and early 7am starts for work.

The lowlight of the week was crying on the treadmill Friday morning from exhaustion. No worries about overtraining tho- i was running on fumes by then.

The highlight of the week was Shamrock Shuffle- I executed a good race and did pretty much as I expected to do. I was pleased clocking my 3rd fastest Shamrock 8k at 36:03- less than 50 seconds off of my PR.


Goals and Stuff

I'd like to say my goal of sub 3:30 still stands for Boston. I had a nice 10 mile run outside this past weekend and felt great once I broke through the rust. I want to requalify for Boston 2018, but also want to soak up the entire Boston experience- kissing girls at Wellesley, drinking some beer at BC and maybe even snapping a few photos here and there. Ah, but my competitive spirit will likely kick in and I'll try to get a Pr or something.

Other

I'm pissed at myself for not realizing my new kicks were the wrong size until a week and a half after receiving them. I'm hoping the Nikes will be ok- I'll take them for some runs this week and next. YOLO.

Looking Forward

I need to eat better and cut out alcohol the next 2 weeks. I want to feel better for Boston.

I also need to figure out my race kit. But that's pending the weather forecast- Boston just got a foot of snow this past weekend- so I'll have to monitor it more closely next week.



13 Days to go until BOSTON!




-Xaarlin

Monday, April 3, 2017

Shamrock Shuffle 8k 2017 {Race Recap}

I ran my 6th Shamrock Shuffle 8k on Sunday. Although it's an extremely large race, I love it because the course is like a mini version of the Chicago marathon. There's very few times you can run on closed streets through Chicago- otherwise it's lakefront running the rest of the time.


L and I met up with our MRC Chicago team members for a pre race photo. This year we had 5 teams running in the shamrock! We all had good runs and absolutely smashed our goal of having the most fun. Join us on May 6th for our next run. Info {HERE}


Bag check was a breeze and I waited in a seemingly endless portalet line while counting down the minutes to the corrals closing- surprisingly people finally got a sense of urgency and the line moved quickly. I got into the back of corral A (my usual spot so I don't get trampled) and took a few pics of downtown when all of a sudden, Pete B flew into my frame!


We met up with Eric and Jeff and waited for the race to start.

Since I'd run 13 miles the day before, and 5 miles pre race, my goal was simply to run even splits at a good pace- likely around 7:10-15. Boston marathon training doesn't stop for a fun run.

The gun went off and we inched closer to the start-and then we were off! I saw Kimberly and we chatted a bit while heading into the tunnel. I think we've bumped into each other during the past 3 shamrocks.


I got behind Eric and trailed him for a good 2-3 miles and felt really good. He had just ran a marathon the day before and I was amazed that he felt so good! I crossed the 5k in 22:32.

Around mile 4 I decided to pick up my pace a bit and get done with the race. On Michigan Ave, I saw 2 beautiful border collies and loads of spectators. I knew that it wouldn't be a PR day for me due to all the marathon training Ive been doing, but tried to kick it in the last quarter mile to the finish and break 36:00. Which I missed by 3 seconds. Accurate manual splits below, the buildings screw up the distance.


Final stats:

47th/2256 AG
247th/11305 Women
1191th/19995 OA

MRC Mixed red team: 6th place

I was happy with my effort and somewhat even splits considering my tired legs.


Post race, MRC Chicago met up for beer in the park before heading to brunch at Villains.


I really like the medal- another bottle opener! (Which will likely go into my medal shoebox never to be seen again)


We truly have the best run club ever. I had no idea 2+ years ago that we would have the amazing community that we've built. I'm thankful for run club.


Post post race we went home and chilled out and ordered Chinese food. The pup was tired too.


Housekeeping:

I learned from my last race not to overdress, kind of. I wore a tshirt, but should have worn a singlet because the low-mid 40's with calm conditions at the start meant I'd feel overheated early on.

The capris were also overkill.

I took a salt tab pre race.

I didn't drink any water during the race- it's only 5 miles.

Overall, I was really happy with my effort and clocked my 3rd fastest Shamrock and hit my arbitrary goal of averaging 7:16's.

Monday, March 27, 2017

March Madness Half Marathon 2017 {race recap}

Last Sunday (3/19), I ran the March Madness half in Cary, IL. Ive never ran it before, because why would I put myself through the torture of a hilly course just for fun? In all reality, I decided to do it this year as a training/see where I'm at for Boston run. I was excited as I could be on race morning to wake up early to drive more than I have in the past 6 years combined.


I woke up early, had an applesauce and nutrigrain bar for breakfast- the store I went to the day before didn't have any Belvita Biscuits. {sad face} I took the Churro Dog out and then got the zipcar for the hourish long ride out to Cary.

In thinking about race goals, I decided if I ran around a 1:45, that would be great! I figured a more realistic time would be 1:47 due to the hills and because I didn't know what I would be capable of.


Bib pickup was quick so I just sat in the car for a while before the race started. I also had another nutrigrain bar an hour before the start. About 20 min before the start, I left the warm cocoon of the car, hit the portalets one last time and then walked over to the start.

It was low 30's and calm for the morning. I struggled a lot with what to wear and decided on wearing my Nike hyperwarm under my singlet- because I had worn something similar for a half last year and felt ok. In hindsight, I should have ditched the long sleeve. I just really hate being cold for any amount of time.


Without fanfare, the race started on time with a "GO!" And we were off. Half a mile into the race I look at my watch and am shocked to see 7:30's- and also shocked to see so many people ahead of me and continuing to pass me. (This is a very competitive field) since I felt good, I just went with it and continued cruising. The first few miles are net downhill- I kept this in mind so that I wouldn't push too hard and blow out my quads.


Around mile 4.5, I took a gu. I carried expired Osmo drink with me too. (Expired as of January, but still tastes fine, whatever) I felt really good the first 5 miles and decided once I got to mile 8 that I would start pushing the pace a bit more.


Going into this race I didn't know how the hills would be- I looked at the elevation profile, but that didn't mean much to me. I kept thinking they would be like the hills in my Mom's hood in TN- which are so steep I have to walk up them. I was pleasantly surprised that they were nothing like those heinous hills and that I could run up these without too much discomfort. I really enjoyed the names of the hills- sneaky hill and substantial hill were my favs.


At mile 8 my iPod died. I hadn't used it since the Carmel Marathon a year ago, and while it was charged, apparently doesn't hold much of a charge anymore. It had a good life of 7+ years but I was all F*CK!}*~%}!+|€~+{~ because the later miles of a race is when I need music most. I kept singing something in my head on repeat as I ran down the road. Mile 9+ I took my other gu. Around mile 12, I tossed my bottle of Osmo. It was somewhere around mile 9 that I realized I could PR, so I decided to keep flying on the downhills and pushing hard on the ups.


I crossed the finish in 1:42:34, and was so happy! I didn't expect to PR in this race since it was hilly and I was treating it as a training run. I'm just over the moon to know my Training is going in the right direction for Boston.

Post race, I met up with Eric and Lauren for a little bit before heading to Wildberry to meet Kim. Brunch with Kim at Wildberry was the perfect end to the day!


My calves were pretty sore for a few days post race, likely due to the hills and also wearing my newtons which I hadn't worn much lately for training.

I was just so happy that I executed this race so well.


Housekeeping/final thoughts:

•Ate Gardein Mandarin Chicken the night before the race.

•Had a salt tab 20 min pre race

•Gu at mile 4.5/9

•Sipped the bottle of Osmo until mile 12

•Completely overdressed. I shouldn't have worn the long sleeve. The runners world clothing calculator thing said I should wear shorts and a tank, I should have listened.

•I now know a sub 1:40 should be relatively easy to achieve now. Yay.

I would definitely do this race again! It was so well organized and I had a lot of fun. The course was pretty- and it was super challenging (compared to the pancake flat lakefront).

See you next year, maybe.