Friday, April 24, 2015

Boston 2015 Race Recap

When people asked how Boston went my answer went something like this:

"It was so fun and it was the easiest marathon yet! I got done and wanted to keep running!" That basically sums up the experience without going into the details that I have below. 

Throwing out all race goals was the best thing I could have done, but looking back makes me a tiny bit bummed knowing that I was only 4 seconds off my PR with a 3:13:46. I trained all winter for 7:00 minute miles and I was hitting all of my workouts. I just happened to decide not to work going into this race so that I could fully enjoy it. I don't love marathons (just the training), so all I wanted to do was be in this one for the experience, a goal that was easily achieved. 

Anyway, here's how the WHOLE day went down! Get ready, because it's going to be long. 

Race Morning: 
I was super pumped all weekend. For the first time ever I didn't care about the weather forecast. Normally I am the biggest baby when it comes to weather and should have freaked at the thought of rain, headwinds, and 40-something temps. But I knew that Monday's weather would be way better than my winter training or the time I ran the Vermont City Marathon two years ago, and that it wouldn't come close to the freezing cold 10 miler I did at the start of March this year. 

Tom and I got up at 5:00 and I loved having him to get ready with. Normally it's only one of us racing (ok, usually me), so this was a new experience. I had my regular breakfast of toast and peanut butter and a cup of coffee and was ready in no time.

We ventured out of the hotel, me looking like a bum, but a warm one at that! After a quick uber ride we were at the bus loading zone, which was the most organized I've ever seen it. We checked in our bags and boarded the bus together. I was smarter this year and didn't drink any water on the bus ride knowing how bad I suffered in last year's ride.

Last photo before saying goodbye to my phone. 

Marathon Village: 
We were at Marathon Village on the earlier side since Tom was in the first wave. That meant that for the first time ever I was able to find a seat under the tent, a spot needed because it started raining as soon as we got there. We got warm coffee and tea, ate some bagel, Fig Newmans, and pretzels, and stayed warm and dry. Food rarely affects my stomach. What does affect me is being hungry. I had to make sure I was satisfied in the morning with easy foods that would keep me fueled. They did just the trick!

Tom's wave was called 40 minutes before mine. I was so excited for him and also bummed that I wasn't going to be able to cheer him on during the race. I wanted so badly to see him race.

It wasn't long before I had to go to the start myself. On the way I finished eating my Honey Stinger chews which I became addicted to before all of my tempo and strength workouts this spring. Go with what works, right?

The Start: 
Another first this year: Getting to the start with more than 2 minutes to spare. As I got to my corral Sweet Caroline started playing for the crowd. That song has sentimental meaning to me, being the song that my mom, my bro, and I always sang in the car growing up. I couldn't help but feel like my mom was with me at that moment cheering me on. I knew it was going to be a good race.

Another note: I left my Garmin in DC on purpose. I'm done with my Garmin being off and not getting exact mile splits. It was relieving to have my old watch with me, which would force me to take my own splits. 

Miles 1-4
7:47, 7:20, 7:17, 7:11

A two year old hamstring injury was starting to nag me in the two weeks leading up to the race. I think a massage triggered it. I only felt it for the first mile and never again. Perhaps it just needed to be warmed up or the slower paced miles cause it to be more aggravated.

The first mile was too slow for me and I knew it from the start. Last year's Boston time put me in corral 4 and I had trained much faster all spring. Instead of freaking out, I went with the slower pace and high-fived a ton of kids for the first few minutes. Why not, right?! 

While my 7:47 first mile was not the 7:15 that I had hoped for I knew that it only meant for a stronger finish. It was about time that I went out conservative at Boston!

The next few miles flew by. I was happy with the splits I was getting: they felt effortless.

Miles 5-8
7:25, 7:10, 7:17, 7:24

Somewhere at this point we heard Sweet Caroline play twice in two different spots. By the second time all of the spectators and runners began to sing along. That was pretty special and probably one of my favorite memories of the race. 

Maybe I was making it up, but there seemed to be fewer spectators than last year. I don't blame them one bit if it really was true. It was nasty out there. It rained on and off throughout the race. I didn't wear a hat, unsure of how the strong the headwind would be, so I got all of the water in my eyes. When the rain really came down there were times I had trouble seeing. Thankfully I was reminded of a particular run during one storm this winter where I had to stop every mile or so to get the ice off my eyelashes because my eyelids were becoming frozen shut. The rain was nothing compared to that cold and snow so I was on cloud 9. 

I chatted with an older man at one point, and by older I mean, I hope I can still run a little bit when I'm his age. He was awesome! He first wanted to know if I was warm because he still hadn't gotten rid of his sweatshirt. Then he was a hoot telling me that he only races summer races in shorts, no shirt, and that he had done a trail race in VT last year. This opened up opportunity to chat and run with a nearby "Oiselle" runner that may not actually be with the "flock" but had the name on her singlet. We stayed together or within site of each other for most of the race. I actually began to really like the people I was running with, getting inspired by how strong they all looked. 

Isn't it crazy 1) what thoughts you have in your head during a marathon and 2) how motivational little things can be in races? I always say this after coming back from race weekend: Being around runners is like being in Heaven. We get each other and we support each other, even when we don't mean to or plan to. 

Gosh - I just love this sport!
Miles 9-12
7:15, 7:24, 7:24, 7:15

When I got to mile 16 and suddenly realized that there were only 10 miles left - or less than 1 hour and 20 minutes, party poppers and fireworks began to go off in my head. I just knew I wasn't going to bonk. I hadn't felt that good in a race ever before. I didn't have to force myself to play mind tricks, they came naturally. I just didn't feel tired at any moment and tried to keep my splits somewhat even. 

Miles 13-16
7:23, 7:19, 7:26, 7:22

I decided to do what I had never done in a race before: use a port-a-potty. I had to go pee ever since the gun went off but held it. When I made the decision to go at mile 15 I was on the lookout for a bathroom for two miles. When I got to one, however, it was full. Dang! I wasn't going to wait, so I jumped back in the race.

Time cost in doing this: probably 5 seconds: there goes my PR that I didn't know I could get! In the words of Homer Simpson: "Do'H!"

The good news: I forgot I had to pee when the rain really started falling again in miles 18 and 19.

While it probably cost me my PR, it did give me a pretty cool opportunity to meet up with another runner who's blog I've been reading and Instagram I've been following for a few years.

At some point I was behind a man wearing a Saucony jacket. I had seen the female version of the jacket before on Michele's blog this winter. I began thinking about her at that moment and when the man moved out of my way for just a second I was able to get a view of the people in front of him. 

Do you know who was right in front of him?!

Michele! I wasn't believing my eyes and I sped up to her to see if I my eyes were playing tricks on me. When I heard someone in the crowd shout her name I made contact with her to give her a thumbs up, saying she looked great (cause she totally did!)

After a hill and a few turns she caught up to me again - she was good at running tangents.

I had followed her training all winter and knew that she was doing awesome! She said she wasn't looking at her watch, but she didn't need to. When you run with your heart you always have a good race. It turns out that she finished the day with a 6 minute PR!!

Miles 17-20
7:31, 7:33, 7:21, 7:34

These hills. Piece. Of. Cake. 

Every time I got to a hill I envisioned myself on Mass Ave down here in DC. I did all of my speed and tempo workouts on that street and if you haven't seen it, it has quite a few (potentially) killer hills. I designed my training with hills on purpose. I wanted to eat Boston's hills for lunch on Monday. 

Guys, it worked. By killing myself for months I breezed through the marathon's hills. They were easy! I felt like I had won the Golden Wonka Ticket every time I started running one of the hills. The training paid off. It was the best feeling ever.

Miles 21-25
7:50, 7:17, 7:28, 7:10, 7:23

Last year I gave Tom a 5 minute sch-peal about the Citgo sign and my dislike for it when it appears, knowing that I still have 1-2 miles to go before the finish. Last year I saw it and had no emotions which was progress. This year when it appeared I was on cloud nine. I couldn't believe that the race was coming to an end. I felt so good. There still hadn't been a moment when I was tired. If I thought that my legs were beginning to get tired I was instantly reminded that they were nothing like they felt on my 10 mile tempo during the 66 mile week I put in back in March. They were doing great. I was doing great. I wasn't even cold with all of the rain!

Miles 26 and 0.2
 7:13, 1:35

I like to dedicate miles throughout my race to particular people in my life. I don't think about it, they just come to me. On Monday I was having so much fun that no 'dedication miles' came until the last mile. At that moment I began to think about two of my student athletes in particular (L and S). That last mile was dedicated to those two girls, who inspire me beyond belief. Crazy - I know, but they have left an impression on me through their dedication to their school work and their athletics.  They are XC and distance runners that take any challenge they're given and go for it. Having run so many races, I was super happy to run that last mile in my head for them. 

When I turned that second to last quarter I started smiling. I always remember my first Boston, coming onto that corner thinking, "This. Is. Awe. Some!" I ran the rest of the race with a smile on my face. Hearing the crowd during that final stretch is always one of the best feelings.

Final: 3:13:46
Overall: 5490/26610
Gender: 604/12022
Division: 523/6011

I hadn't been cold at any point during the race but the second I stopped running my body began to shiver uncontrollably. I sped-walked out of the finish area. Yes. Sped-walked. I debated about running because my legs felt totally fine. In fact, immediately after crossing the finish line I crashed into a man who clearly had worked himself to the finish and was going too slow for me.

The photo doesn't capture the shivering going on

For a moment I had the crazy thought of "Oh! So this is why some people do ultra marathons? Maybe I should try an ultra if I can still walk fine after the last 26 miles."

The wind was pretty strong at the finishing area. I got my food, medal, and poncho as quick as I could and headed back to the bag drop off. Tom met me along the way and we taxied back to the hotel to shower. Our hotel, the Residence Inn at Seaport, was so accommodating, and let us shower in our room with a late checkout. I really don't know how I would have been able to warm up otherwise.

Tom's Race: 
Tom will probably tell you that I talked him into running this race after he declared he would only run one marathon. It may not be entirely true, as he had to sign himself up, but he did SO AWESOME for his second marathon ever.

He finished in 2:44 with an 8 minute PR on a much tougher course than his first race! He was also 467th out of 26,610 finishers.

Maybe some day he'll post his own marathon recap on here (*hinthintcoughcoughyesTomIknowyouarereadingthis*)

Other Thoughts and Notes
We got to meet up with a few friends over the weekend and a few others that we did not see did reach out to tell us that they would be cheering for us along the course. To be honest, I feared that they would totally miss us and that it wouldn't have been worth it for them to be out there. 

That wasn't the case! I saw EVERY ONE of the people that told us they would be out there! Anna, Nate, Shelby, Will, Katie, Carrie, Glynna, Kelly, and Austin! They were awesome cheerers, made awesome signs (with wicked cool puns), and braved the cold and rain to come out to support us. That meant a lot in those moments.

The Nuun tent was also along one of the hills and were so energizing when I went by. I met the CEO this weekend at the meet-up event and I recognized him out there, cheering us on for that hill. I don't remember the hill at all, only the Nuun tent's enthusiasm. 

Favorite Signs:
"Your gym teacher would be proud!" Actually, my middle school gym teacher would be proud! She was a runner herself.

bottom: Taken from Katie's Instagram

"There is no Walken" with a photo of Christopher Walkens' head in the middle. 

College Kids: 
When you're in a bad mood they can either re-energize you or make you hate life knowing they're out there drinking beer and having a good time while you're suffering. This time I thought they were hilarious and loved going by them. They were SO LOUD and so into it, especially after Heartbreak. That energy gets you going for the finish!

I had a Honey Stinger gel at miles 6, 12, 18, and 22. I almost didn't take the last one. Once I was able to get my claw-hands to open each gel they went down SUPER easy. There was no after taste and I didn't scrape my mouth on the packaging like I always did with Gu. They are easily my favorite race gels and had zero effect on my stomach.

Now What? 
So Boston is over. Five months of serious training and plenty more days of pondering and planning. I love this city every year. No matter how the race turns out, the people are awesome.

The excitement is over but there are plenty of other goals to go after. Tom and I are in Vermont for our next race, each running a half of the Vermont City Marathon. Once I can start moving my legs quickly again (maybe today or tomorrow) I'll begin a reverse taper and jump into the tail end of the Hansons Half Marathon training plan for the next month. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Boston 2015: Saturday

Marathon weekend has begun! We arrived in Boston yesterday morning, were fortunate enough to be able to check into our hotel before 10am, and then made our way to Newberry Street to meet up with other Nuun ambassadors. 

I missed the run portion, but finally got to meet Colleen from Live Free and Run, who was super awesome and had just run the BAA 5k. 

Tom and I headed to the Expo next, spending money (of course) and checking out some of the vendors. We got an awesome pair of free lobster socks for getting a gait analysis done at the Brooks store, and I was super tempted to get the Lobster shoes to go with them!

We were hungry after the expo. Actually, I quickly became hangry after it because of the crowd, so we hit up Sweetgreen, which makes THE BEST salads. Apparently Shalane had gone there earlier! Ugh! I missed her!

A lot of people give up fruits and veggies in the days leading to a marathon but I can't. I'm used to eating them and crave them. I feel so yucky chewing down on a bagel or bowl of pasta only to have that again later in the day. Too much heaviness for my stomach. My philosophy: you need the nutrients to allow your body to run.  Colorful veggies vs pasta? One definitely wins out. It was also a sign that we were in line to see Scott Jurek at the expo before they ran out of book. Scott is a vegetarian but also an incredible ultramarathoner.

After lunch were onto the required finish line photos. We cheered on some middle school relay races on our way back to the hotel, witnessed grown men running in Disney costumes/dresses through the park, then watched a few episodes of House Hunters as we rested our legs.

The evening was great as we got to catch up with a high school friend over dinner at Riccardos Ristorante. She and her boyfriend are such fun people and the delicious Italian filled us up! 

When you're in the Northern part of Boston, where is the one place that is required to go? Mike's Pastry, of course! It might not have been the best idea to have half a cannoli at 11pm but I'm all about the experiences this weekend.

The race itself:
So what is my goal for Boston? Run. Have fun. I would love a PR but already know that it is not happening this year for various reasons. I'm not bummed like I was last year. I'm trying to stay positive even while hearing about the weather possibilities. My outlook on the whole race is much more positive because I chose to run this (on the morning of sign up) rather than feeling like I "should" run it like last year. Boston's race is unlike others. The spirit of the city is amazing and I feel fortunate to be able to return this year to be a part of it. I am also so incredibly excited for Tom, as this is his first time running Boston and only his second marathon ever. 

Even the buildings are proudly displaying their spirit: blue and yellow!

Sunday, March 22, 2015


My birthday was back on the 11th of this month. I was sick for it: stuffy nose, chest congestion, couldn't hear well, and my mind had trouble thinking. I was crazy busy that day at school, getting ready to leave for the National Science Teacher Conference, and didn't have a lot of time to really stop and enjoy my birthday until I landed in


We stayed with Tom's brother and for the first two days I was mainly at the conference with a few colleagues. My students will tell you that I love being a nerd, so being at the conference was almost heaven. I mean - BILL NYE walked TWO feet in front of us!

I spy....Bill Nye! This was only moments before he walked by us  

Chicago is pretty big compared to DC. I was jealous of everyone, including Tom, that were running on the paths along Lake Michigan. Tom got in some serious mileage while we were there. For those first few days, all I saw of the city was the convention hall and the Starbucks around Dan's apartment. When I did get out to run I didn't feel too hot. I mean, I was actually cold because it was cooler along the lake than it was in the city, but because of my cold I was not feeling the greatest. I was also overwhelmed with how many runners there were on the paths and there was constant noise from the traffic. I probably would become an 'ipod runner' if I had to live in Chicago. And can we talk about the hills - or the lack of hills?! I just could - not - get over the fact that there were no hills. None. No inclines, just flatness. I have become really good at running hills since moving to DC and the lack of elevation change was killing me.

Selfie mid-run

The frozen Lake Michigan at sunset
Finally, on Saturday, I got to see some of the city.

Chicago KNOWS how to celebrate St. Patty's Day. The river is colored and EVERYONE is in green! I couldn't get up to 'The Bean' because Millennium Park was closed, but I loved walked around.

A boat passes through the river a few times, releasing a vegetable-based dye into the water. 

Thanks to diffusion we get a green river! Gotta love Science!
T highlights of the trip, in no particular order:

  • Hanging out with Dan and Katie! They were awesome hosts and were great at pointing out the bests of the city. 
  • Meeting up with a friend (and former teammate) that I haven't seen in a few years. 
  • Being a nerd with my two awesome co-workers! 
  • Deep. Dish. Pizza. Quite possibly the best food out there.

  • Bill Nye - or, William Nye - if you want to go by his nickname :)

  • Garrett's Popcorn (thanks to Andrew's mom for recommending this to us)
  • The opportunity to learn more Science and to take ideas back to my classroom. People, we need to reduce our CO2 emissions NOW. If you all could have spent just one day listening to what I heard you would make changes immediately. 
  • Free rides from Uber and Lyft - it was nice hearing what other 'locals' recommended around the city and not to mention being able to get dropped off exactly where I needed to be. 
  • The GIANT McDonald's with a museum inside. Note: I do not normally go to McDonald's but we just had to check this place out.
  • The architecture 

  • The skyline
  • The glow of the setting sun on my evening runs. 
  • Walking up Clark Street during the St. Patty's Day celebration - that was entertaining.
  • The LEGO Store. I was always jealous that I never got any as a kid. Why did adults assume a girl wouldn't want any? 
  • Eating a Chicago dog with some Guinness on the back porch because it was in the 60s. What glorious weather!

  • Winning free registration into next year's conference in Nashville!
  • Realizing once again that I truly love my job and am so happy that I went back to school for teaching. 
Chicago was a ton of fun. I'd love to go back when the weather is warmer and when I'm feeling a little better. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Snow Day Running

DC was hit with snow storm Thor yesterday. When I woke up it was raining, by the time I was making breakfast I could hear it was changing to sleet, and then a half hour later there were snow flakes falling from the sky. This was quite a contrast to the day before, when it was warm enough to run in shorts! Since school had already been declared off the night before, I took my time in the morning doing something I never do: catching up on the newspapers and completing a cross word. Random note - the only cross words I've ever been able to complete are the ones in the NSTA Monthly Newsletter because they are Science themed.

Around noon I went out for my run. I started heading North and instantly hated what I was doing. The snow was flying in my face and I was instantly reminded of my run two Saturdays ago when ice began forming everywhere on my face. A man told me I was crazy. Maybe so.....

Displaying IMG_3757.JPG

I decided to turn around, thinking that maybe it would be best to stay inside and do a cardio/strength workout. But as I was jumping over a snow pile to cross the road, I said something automatically, without thinking.

"This is fun - running in the streets with no cars on the road! No one is out here!".

Do you see what happened there? While the conscious part of me was seriously considering going back inside because it was cold and wet, a subconscious part of me thought it was fun to be out there. A deep part of me wanted to be out there. At that moment I decided that I would get my miles in, rather than going inside.

I turned south, heading into downtown DC, and it was a good choice, too. Business people were out clearing their sidewalks, there were few cars and people about, and I was heading with the snow and wind while I adjusted and warmed up during my workout. I ran by a woman who exclaimed, "that's dedication."

You bet! I can't let this silly storm ruin my training. It was nice knowing that I was out there with a purpose - Boston.

The White House was gorgeous in the snow!

I took a loop around the Washington Monument where a guy was riding a fat-tired bike. He asked if I could take a photo of him and then asked if I wanted to try the bike. Ha! I wasn't planning on having that question asked. I politely declined and continued on with my run.

It's funny running in DC in a storm - people start talking to you all of a sudden. I mean, everyone has a comment to make. On the way home ice began building on my eye lashes and eye brows as I headed straight into the falling snow. One guy laughed at me saying I was crazy and one woman said she was impressed (hey lady - you clearly didn't think it was bad enough to go shopping!).

It's true that running in a snow storm becomes a little trickier and a whole lot wetter, but it is also more beautiful than it typically is. If you can get out and focus on the positives of a run you may be surprised at what results.
The sun is out today and you better believe I'll be heading back outside! Another snow day means another day to get in some mileage. We have just one more day of below 30 degree temps and then it looks like spring might be making its way around here. I'm looking forward to temperatures in the 50s next week!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Snow Day Traditions

I really love living in DC. Maybe some day I will write a post with my favorite things from this city. One perk to living here is that there are frequently school delays when there is snow predicted for rush hour, and the forecast of 4 inches of snow will close schools for the day.

Two weeks ago we got our first (and only) snow day of the year. Last year we had 8 so it's been a little sad to have to wait so long in the season to get one. Tom was also home and we were able to continue with our "snow day" tradition that started last year.

The first part of our snow day tradition is breakfast and coffee at a nearby Firehook bakery. We make the trek outside to check out the snow and enjoy a relaxing morning of people watching and just simply talking. Tom usually reads the newspaper and I can get in some grading. Since when did we grow up and become adults?

After our coffee we head home for a while. I usually have a burst of energy and can do some cleaning around the apartment. It feels good to get it done during the week instead of weekend.

We usually meet up with a friend of ours, John, around midday and head downtown for a run. Last year we ran through the monuments, but since Tom and I had just completed 15 miles the day before, we took it easy this time and ran to the White House and back.

The afternoon was gorgeous and it was awesome to be out in the streets running instead of inside working. Yes, we were one of those crazy runners that the Washington Post wrote about, but we wouldn't have it any other way.

It's ironic that I tend to get in more miles around snow storms considering the streets are not in ideal conditions, but the extra time gives me the opportunity to get out there and enjoy it.