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Archive for the ‘marathon’ Category

First off, about a week and a half before the race I was asked by Choose Cherries if I would represent them in the marathon . I accepted and planned the outfit (red top and red hat) for both myself and runnin around uptown. Fast forward, this is what I ended up with (instead of team red it’s team pink!):

Perhaps I should have known the day would be interesting when approaching the subway, I noticed a bunch of cops and a person covered up with a sheet. Yep, dead guy right at the subway entrance (found out later it was a jumper). Gah.  Fast forward, around 820 I did a last port-a-potty stop before dropping my stuff and heading to the corrals. One problem: we hear as we’re being directed in a giant circle, that the corrals have closed for wave 1. Shit. I didn’t care too much but I knew my family didn’t have tracking!  Since I was at the front of “wave 2” I asked a volunteer to use a phone and was told “oh, I don’t have one.” One minute later she pulls out a phone. Ugh. Special thanks to Leo for letting me borrow his phone! Finally after standing for a good 45mins (perfect before 26.2) we get to the starting line and the canons go off. Finally, my journey begins.

Being at the beginning of the wave made for a quick start which made for instant pacing to come into play.  Brooklyn, just like last time, whizzed by and that first 10 miles went as planned.  Paces were in check and nothing felt off base (and when it did speed up or slow down one of us would pull in the reigns).  Having strategically placed family around the course helped as well (miles 5 and 8 in Brooklyn, friends at mile 14 right before the Queensboro).

Mile 8(I get cold easily so the arm warmers were perfect!)

Going over the Queensboro we still were right on target. Random: some British guy asks “what bridge is this” and upon response goes “this isn’t a very nice bridge is it?”.  And then it started upon approach in Manhattan as AC had to stop briefly.  First Avenue was a blast with rows of people and passing family once again.  Then it was my old running team.  And I remember hitting the Bronx and feeling like someone had punched me in the gut.  My stomach was not in good shape.  I remember turning to AC and just saying “ow.”  Up to that point, I had 2 packs of sport beans (nothing unusual) and water (one mixed with small amount of Gatorade).  Somewhere around mile 20 or so the 3:40 pacer passed us and I knew – things were not exactly going as planned.

Heading back into Manhattan I made a quick pit stop which may have been a saving grace.  I still felt a little queasy but not as bad as the Bronx.  I remember AC feeling pretty much the same (no need for detail on what was said).  Heading up 5th avenue was definitely a triumph – it definitely helped to have someone to be there to keep me moving.  It was not the hills but the hope the stomach would simmer down.  Hitting the park I felt a lot better (may have been an orange and not drinking anything for a few miles?).  I was able to bring it together and pull AC along through that brutal stretch (I remember saying something to the effect of ‘you’re a fighter’ ::cue Christina Aguilera). We passed a lot of people in the park which definitely felt good.

I saw my mom exiting onto CP South and knew a sub 3:50 was in the bag.  I looked at AC and said “let’s go get you a monster PR.”  And that we did.  Finishing in 3:46:54 I scored a 20 minute course PR and AC had a 17 minute PR (her 2nd marathon).

Marathon #9 in the books

Go team red...err pink!

I’ve preached to the choir that the marathon can be a crap shoot.  One day it can be an amazing perfect experience but the next it could be not so good.  I also look at each one as a learning experience.  This one was a mental push.  Though the splits are UGLY, I choose to be ignorant to that.  I choose to look at the mental push and fight at mile 23 to pull it together. I choose to look at the fact a 3:46 is not satisfying.

The day after at the finish line - a lot more coherent!

I also think it was an amazing experience having someone to share the full 26.2 with (thanks again AC!).  I did that for my first marathon in 2004.  It’s tricky to find someone on the same page.  However, we trained and ran races well together so it made it no problem.  We knew each of our strengths and weaknesses (it really helped me through Harlem and I think vice versa in the park).  The pact?  Who cares if you can walk on November 8?

I have to say I actually feel the least amount of post marathon aches I’ve ever had (knock on wood).  Most of my pain has been in my neck.  The legs feel like they went on a  long run . However, I do know there was no BQ or under on this day – maybe a minute or two?  As I told AC, was it worth it to feel incredibly sick over that?  Perhaps a few of you out there disagree but honestly it wasn’t going to make much of a difference on this day.

What would I change?  I need to work out the nutrition kinks.  I think it may have been a case of too much hydration that made my stomach heavy and the nausea (especially since it disappeared once I stopped taking water).

Moving forward? Recovery and I’m looking forward to a marathon free 2011.  Yes, that’s right folks.  No marathons.  Next year is a year of speed.  A year to work on finding that next gear which I think will propel me through that mental wall to get to that next level.  I’ve already signed up for the NJ Half as a goal race in the spring.  I’m excited to find more races to complement that (and find a new team as a home).

Congrats to NYC bloggers that completed the marathon as well.

I’m sure there will be more thoughts to come…

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What does it mean????

Each marathon has its own purpose.  There’s something special to it.  So what about NYC Marathon 2010?  What makes it stand out?  Of course NYC  is the first marathon I’ve ever done and what really started this whole run up to now.  It’s funny to look back now.  In 2004 it was the springboard to finding my old team and now it looks to be a springboard to the next chapter in my racing life.

I guess in a way everything has come full circle. I’ve met a lot of people in those six years,  It’s pretty awesome how the year of 30 will end in my home base.  I’d like to say I’ve got the hang of this but holy schnikes, I’m still a nervous wreck.  Dare I say even more than pre-Pikes Peak?!  It’s weird.  Exciting.  Perhaps it’s the fact I actually tapered for this race too (hello, bouncing off the walls). My last run was  my bread and butter route : the bridges route.  This is it kids.  Without further ado, I’d like to throw out a few thank yous to those that helped me get my butt to the starting line this weekend.

Legs.  Thank you for putting up with me for the past 11 months.  You tried to cry a bit in between but overall held up well.  Time for one last throw down this weekend.

The AM Crew – ES & MP – thank you ladies for meeting me for bridges and east river runs bright ‘n early (well not so bright anymore – where is the sun?).  I always looked forward to these runs and generally made the day much more tolerable.  Not to mention the company is always delightful:)

The Tuesday Speed Crew – Thanks guys!  It’s been awesome to have a group of people to train along with as well as whine with during core.  Special shout out to Steph – she was my speed equivalent most nights.

SpeedySasquatch – THANK YOU for being out there to support all of us.  Your generosity is not lost on me and I can’t wait to see you at mile 14.  Even if the core part would get painful, you have your reasons to do all of it.  I still remember doing that first workout way back when – everyone else went for a general run except for 3 of us to endure the first of many speed workouts:)

The twitter and blogger folks – you know who you are.  Each of you have brightened my day and kept me focused towards the goal of November 7.  Some of you have become real life friends but to those that are on the screen your importance is not lost.

Last but certainly not least, runnin’ around uptown.  Waaaaaaaay back when we were freezing our butts off in the winter, we made a pact that come November 7th we would run 26.2 together.  We’ve endured the heat of the summer with long runs in the city, down in Philly, the trails in NJ, the bridges…and everything else in between.  So I guess now it’s just 26.2 more?  Let’s hope we don’t hate eachother after this;-) ha.

It’s game time folks (orange bib 16753 if anyone cares).  All that’s left is a day and it’s time for a little jaunt through the GREATEST city in the world.  Let’s do this!  See you at the finish line!

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You know it’s marathon week…

I know it’s marathon week when….

*coworker is hacking up a lung next to me (see here)

*work is obnoxiously busy

*weird body parts ache…wtf why does that hurt?

*expo and the ability to buy more crap I don’t really need

*butterflies…yep, still the same even after 8 of these

*neurotic about everything – see above for evidence of that

*sluggish and pondering why the hell I want to do this again?

*trying to hide from the sugar (Hello Halloween candY!)

*wanting to eat everything in sight

*Emergen-C is my best friend

*Professional runners in Central Park (friend saw Ritz and we were so engrossed listening to her we missed him!)

*hitting the snooze bar is definitely a cool thing to do!

 

this is how you start to feel from NOT running!

 

 

Anything else to add to the list?

As for running, met the Speedy Sasquatch crew for a shake out the legs run in Central Park. A few pickups at MP and kept the legs loose.  One more run Friday AM, a bridges run of course, then it’s game time.

I’ve started gathering my stuff for the wait out at Ft Wadsworth: Fleece sweatshirt/pants, hand and foot warmers, old sheet to sit on…

Also, if you have an iPhone, there is a glitch with the daylight savings.   Make sure you either set a real alarm clock.  Many people were an hour late last week: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101101/tc_afp/britaintechnologyiphone

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Almost showtime…

We’re 15 days til showtime, NYC style. The excitement is starting to build as this will complete my year of 30. My last long run is tomorrow as MP and I will complete the last 16 of the course. If that doesn’t pump one up, not sure anything will!

So Meals for Miles brought up the always present question: goals!

It may sound hokey but finishing and wanting to do another 26.2 is #1. It sounds simple but after completing my Chitown cycle me and running weren’t friends for a little while.  Never want to feel like that again!

#2. Time? I always set A,B.C goals.  It leads itself to creating concrete times.  A goal? 3:35. B goal? Sub 3:40. C goal? Sub 3:50.  Will I be upset if something happens and I don’t meet these goals? Sure but I know after 8 of these sometimes it just isn’t your day (see steamtown, Chicago and Philly).  The marathon is about everything coming together on that day.  It’s hard but it truly is an amazing feeling to be clicking on all cylinders.

#3. Celebrate the year of 30. I ran NYCM in 2004 just a year and a few months after moving here. I didn’t know many people. This year I’ll have friends, family, coworkers along the course! It should be pretty awesome:) I’m pretty psyched this is how my year of 30 will finish.

Taper is in full effect. I’m trying to keep the hip tendonitis quiet and keeping the mind rested. I find this time period when I cleanse the body and mind. It’s a tricky balance as anyone that has suffered through the taperworm knows:) I’ll throw in some pace runs to keep the legs fresh but as my dad astutely has said “you can never run too little during a taper.” (I can attest as last year the week before MCM I didn’t run the week beforE!)

Suffice to say it looks like work will be nutty again before the race. There’s one solid way to stay preoccupied:) I’m typing this on my way home after another 12 hour day (finished today). Runners kitchen wrote about that balance but man it’s gotten harder as I’ve worked my way up the corporate food chain!  Hence the blog silence.

11.5 miles this morning – great company, good conversation, and the  miles flew by with a bridges and east river run.

As for that topic about a certain race in April, I think it’s been beaten to death. It’ll be what it’ll be.

Keep runnin’!

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Six weeks

This week brought the first of the mother load weeks in the march to November 7.  Feeling completely back up to speed from Pikes, I’ve started to incorporate not just Tuesdays with @SpeedySasquatch but Thursday Tempo work.  I’m hoping to continue this to teach the body about what to do on marathon day;)  52 miles happened this week – no wonder I’m zonked.  What happened?

Tuesday I ran with the Tuesday crew which looking back wasn’t the smartest decision.  We did hill work and while I wasn’t sore from Philly my legs just didn’t have that ‘gear.’  I knew it right away and just set in comfortably and not pushing something that wasn’t there.  If there is one thing I have learned from 8 marathon training sessions, don’t push your luck.

Thursday I awoke and knew tempo was on the docket.  Warm up across the Brooklyn Bridge and rather than the WSH I headed east to enjoy the sunrise with my tempo.  I went by time and averaged 8:15s with a 7:35 last mile home (4ish miles of tempo total).  Felt good and legs were much happier than Sunday.

Yesterday brought another blast of summer.  I met up with MP by the GWB and rather than roads we hit the trails.  I missed them so much!  We stuck to the trails for all 19 miles and avoided the crazy heat.  While the time is slower than a usual long run, I find the trails work my core/stability quite a bit.  Not to mention it keeps things fun.  It also keeps the legs happy – too much roads makes for cranky legs!

Today brought the grungy bridges run.  What’s that?  My 8ish mile route that includes the Williamsburg and Manhattan bridges, Chinatown, and the Brooklyn waterfront by the navy yard.  It’s not very scenic but I find this route relaxing.  It’s not crowded and I’m able to just zone out.

After the run, I got to enjoy others use that speedy twitch in the 5th avenue mile.

Women's pro race

The pro men's race

Local elites - men

Local elite - women.

It should be noted I walked along CP South after the race.  I definitely thought about what it will feel like in 6 weeks…

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As I begin to reflect on the events of yesterday, it’s hard to even put in words all the emotions and feelings that occurred during this race.  Pikes Peak Marathon is nicknamed “America’s Ultimate Challenge” and they don’t lie. This race is not meant for the average joe that just wants to do a marathon.  It takes true heart, guts and determination to get up and down a mountain.  That said, I wanted this challenge.  I wanted it badly as I have been writing and talking about this for almost a year.  It actually started last year after my friend Andrea finished the marathon and I decided this would be my 30th birthday present to myself. There also was a tremendous metaphor in this as I feel like reaching 30 I’ve become a very different person than the shy girl that moved to NYC at age 22.  Mostly though, I wanted the challenge.  I wanted something different and Pikes Peak definitely presented a challenge and a very different kind of adventure.    

So race day.  I had taken the cog train (one of 3 in the US) to the top of Pikes Peak on Saturday to get a feel for what the conditions at the summit.  It should be noted I never had really been at altitude before so it was all new.  Anyway we drove down to the race and cut it a bit close to the start but honestly, did it really matter?  That’s the difference between this and a road race.  We chose to hit the bathroom first so I actually missed the official starting gun.  No biggie.  It meant as we started we got personal cheering;)    

I started out with my friend for the first mile before she took off.  I knew it was going to be a long day and my intentions were to finish with a smile on my face.  I remember running up the roads and hitting the trailhead.  That’s when it really hit.  I was heading UP UP UP.  I was stuck behind a lot of walkers right away which was OK for a little while but it was even too slow for my power hiking.  I was able to pass a few people but didn’t expend too much energy.  As so many Pikes veterans have told me, it’s about keeping the legs moving forward and don’t waste energy – you’ll need it!    

  As we hit mile 5 (8 miles to the summit) my legs felt pretty good.  However, I knew don’t take anything for granted the race doesn’t really start til you hit A-frame (aka the treeline).  I met some friends around Barr Camp and we stuck together all the way up.  One woman was from Kansas and had come to run this after overcoming breast cancer.  Another woman had run this 11 times and 75 total marathons.  It was a blast and really helped me pass the time.  I wore my camelbak which was a very good move – aid stations were about every hour on the ascent!  As we reached the A-frame, I remember the aid volunteers welcoming us.  This is when I looked up and went WOAH.  All I can say is it was a long ways to the summit – I was in switchbacks hell.  Again, I was pre-warned about this so I knew there was quite a while to reach the summit.  This is when things got a little sour.  My calves started burning worse than I had ever felt before.  It was awful.  Fortunately the women I was with comforted me and just kept helping me remember to keep moving forward.  I saw Andrea at this point and she was on her way down.  She asked how I felt and I lied that I felt fine…but didn’t lie that I’d see her at the finish line;)    

This is only part of the way up. The views just got better

 

As runners continued to pass, I knew it was one step closer to ending the burning calves and a faster down.  Again, I was told 75% of the race is the up.  Funny since I’m used to mile 20 being the beginning of a marathon!  Again I look up and all I saw were switchbacks of runners.  Oy.  Where the heck are these golden stairs?  The golden stairs are what are the last switchbacks up to the summit.  They really aren’t golden and you shouldn’t bother counting.  They’re rocky and it’s a last calf buster as you approach the summit.  By now, I felt like a snail and was getting encouragement from the other runners how once you turn around it’s a whole new ball game.  All that kept going through my head is keep moving forward.  One foot, now the next.  Refuse to quit.  Oh and thoughts of Katharine Lee Bates using the summit of Pikes Peak as the basis for America the Beautiful.  If there was a bit more oxygen, I may have started singing.  As it was, thoughts were all there would be at this point.  Finally, I reach a switch back and look to see a sign for the Pikes Peak Marathon.  I had made it…to the summit!  13.32 miles down…less than a half marathon to go;)    

A little taste of life on the trail

 

This was the ascent finish but Sunday this was my just past half way point

 

 Coming back down I felt like a new woman.  My calves were pleased to be put on a bit of a rest and let the quads take the next part of the show.  The plan for down was to run where plausible and allow gravity to take me down the mountain.  Don’t fight it.  Less fight means less quad pain later.  I stuck with the other two women all the way down the A-frame part of the trail.  So helpful as it made time fly.  As long as that 3 miles felt going up, it felt so much quicker going down (which it was).  When we approached the A-frame aid station I knew greenery was around the bend.  And..more oxygen! Major win.    

They had traffic lights at the aid stations for where the end of the trash zone was to contain cups and miscellaneous trash

 

At this point my legs said “ok, time to rock ‘n roll.”  And I’m sure it wasn’t really rocking that fast but hey after that painful expedition up the A-frame anything felt speedy.  I lost my two friends I had made at A-frame at the aid station.  I started passing people which was a nice feeling. I began feeling fresher and a pep to the step.  Very odd but I went with it.  I made sure to continue to eat and drink at each aid station to keep that pep in the step.  I got a few rocks in my shoe but I knew if I stopped to empty my shoe I may have issues moving again.  So blisters be damned I kept forging ahead.  As I got to Barr Camp, I remembered there were a few down hills on the way up so of course you know what happens on the reverse.  I decided to walk the uphill to save my legs and give my poor beat up calves a break.  Time was not an issue and I knew I was well within the time allotment.    

Doesn't even begin to justify my experience...

 

For the last 4 miles I tagged along with another girl cruising down the trails.  It was nice to have someone dictate the trail which took the pressure off of me thinking about direction.  After 7 ½ hours on your feet, it becomes tricky.  Finally I see 3 miles to the finish and know the dream is about to become reality.  I look up to see clouds forming around the summit.  At that point, I was thinking “time to bid adieu to Pikes for now.”  I continued running passing an aid station playing “Chariots of Fire” and finally reached the trailhead which emptied onto a roadway.  Ouch.  Roads at mile 25 after all that trail running feels AWFUL.  At this point Leo (@ex_cyclist) rode up next to me!  What awesome timing.  We chatted for a couple of minutes before he took a quick picture.  At that point someone yelled to me “just a couple more turns to go.”     

half mile from the finish and pumped!

 

I will say at this point I moved my sunglasses up to my hat so all emotions would show.  I saw Andrea on the sidelines waiting for me.  I yelled something to the effect of “this was fantastic” with a beaming smile.  As I was about to round the final turn I hear from Brooklyn, NY here comes Bridges Runner!  Thoughts flooded my head.  Most of all, holy crap I didn’t just run a marathon.  I got to experience one of the most scenic marathons in the world.  Then thoughts of all that have supported me through the training and in general.  It’s amazing what thoughts flood the mind during special occasions.  Finally, I cross the make shift finish line where they tear a piece of my bib off for a gun time of 8:28:28.    

Pikes Peak

 

I wish words could do justice for the experience I had out there yesterday.  I’m not sure they can.  I’ve stated that this is my year of 30.  While I’ve experienced so many great events, I will say it’s also allowed me to meet some pretty cool people along the way.  I’ve been able to reflect a lot about life in general and what it is I want out of it. Life is about experiences.  This now may be one of the top experiences of my life so far.  It was worth every mile, every twisted ankle on the trails, and every thought of “can I really do this.”  I do believe if you want it, you will get it.  Dreams are great but getting after them is even better.  Believe in yourself.  It goes a long way to making reality.  I made one of them happen yesterday.    

It’s great to look back and know I did this for the right reason.  It reaffirmed my love for running and experiencing things that simply cannot be justified by words.  I guess you have to be there to really understand what I exactly felt yesterday.  Sure, I may have said this about other road races but this is different.  There truly is something to be said about experiencing a day on a mountain and the views that go along with it.  As my friend mentioned to me, we spent a workday on a mountain!  I proclaimed “well, I can’t think of a better working day.”  It’s true.  So thank you, Pikes.  You gave me a very special birthday present!    

And thank you for all of your support.  It truly has been a magical time. This was marathon #8.    

The stats of elevation: start 6300’ summit 14,115’ finish 6345’    

the mountain

And this is what a mountain looks like on a garmin

 

To come? A guest post and more pictures,,,,

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Pinch me

Boston. 26.2. 3rd Monday in April. A dream about to be realized. Quick someone pinch me to make sure I’m not dreaming!

I’ve said after each marathon I’ve run that each has its own story to get to the finish line (well, the start line I suppose). This one didn’t disappoint. I’ve experienced the highs, lows and in betweens. I ran up the Empire State Building, chatted through a 1:43 half (?!), and experienced a low in mid-Feb. The weather has been less than cooperative – most memorable is a tie between the 14 miler I did in December in 10 degrees and windchill in the negatives and of course the 20 miler on the ice skating rink with a 4 mile race at the end. Work did its usual to try and mess up my schedule. With the exception of one week from hell, I’ve been able to stay on track.

This time around I had a new cast of characters to help me find my way through the journey to Boston. Thanks to the social networking site of twitter and dailymile I’ve been able to have virtual support as well as a few that have become real life friends (you know who you are). My teammates, The Reservoir Dogs also have been a source of encouragement. It’s been refreshing, rejuvenating and most of all, fun. I don’t think words calculate how appreciative I am.

Balance. It worked for me in MCM for 2005 and 2009 so I’ve tried to keep to that trend. My mileage never went sky high (one week of 50) but I kept the fitness level up and kept it fun. Those that know me well, know I can’t survive a regimented schedule. It just isn’t me. I do enough of that during the week! Swimming became a cross-training day I looked forward to on Mondays – who would have believed that one???

Keep it fun. This is a HUGE one. It goes right along with balance but I don’t think it’s an accident that my two best marathon times have come from just enjoying my training. My long runs felt like parties with a final destination to look forward to at the end. Does it get much better than knowing a delicious croissant awaits at the end of 22 miles?

I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m ready. What I’m ready for? I’m ready to do battle with 26.2 on Monday. It’s a distance I respect and my training shows that consistency.

So thank you all for your support. I can’t say it enough.

I’ll finish with this:
I still recall my dad (sub 3 marathoner in his day!) saying to me when I was training for my first marathon back in 2004: “when you make it to Boston, I will buy you your jacket.” Notice the wording: when. He would ask if I wanted one at my other marathons and I’d decline. There’s only one I want which will be in my hands after I cross the finish line April 19.

How this story ends? Stay tuned!

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Music for the sole;-)

With the last long run complete I’ve set my sights on 2 weeks from today. Unless you’re living under a rock, you know I’ve been training like a mad woman for Boston – 26.2 style.

Music. It captures so much. For me, it tells a story. I still relive the magic from MCM 2005 and add-on to it (with some songs not making the cut). Songs remind me of triumph, glory and the times I got knocked down.

So here’s where you come in. What song would you put on a marathon playlist? I’m looking to put a collective one for Boston – mine + songs from friends. The song can be anything – one that has meaning to you, one that you think is a good fit for me, etc. It’s always interesting to see what songs come to mind.

I’ll pick 3 random people to send the updated playlist to (and an added surprise)).

Here’s my go to songs (not your typical list – be warned – heavy emphasis on trance/techno/remix – high beat)
* indicates on my original 2005 MCM list
* Doors – chakra
Desire – U2
Killer 2000 – ATB
Force of Gravity (remix) – DJ Tiesto
Power of You – cristan burns/Dj tiesto
* Discover the World – kaskanova
Let You Go – ATB
Sunrise – ashita
* One More Day – Dario G
No Way Home – Richard Durand
* Faithfulness (remix) – Skin
Daybreaker – Kenny Hayes
* Ready to Go – republica
* Never to late – dario g
Vicious Circle – john dahlbeck
Turn it Around – 4 strings
Adagio for strings – DJ tiesto
Believe In Me (Clubb Mix) – ATB
* Everybody’s free – Rozella
* Sounds Good – Rimini Projekt
Flesh (Tilt’s going home) – BT (feat jan johnston)
Magik Journey – DJ Tiesto
Southern Sun – paul oakenfold
Power of American Natives – Dance 2 Trance
Nothing in my way – Keane
*Give me the power – Voodoo and Serano
Wilderness – Jurgen Vries
Surreal – Say it
Innocente (Mr Sams’s The Space Between Us Mix) – Delerium
Just Be – DJ Tiesto

Carry on…I’m going back to my taper-me-silly phase. 2 weeks til go time.

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Hard to believe but just like that marathon #6 is in the books. Would I change anything I did? Absolutely not. I have zero regrets. Anyone that knows me, knows that I do it only one way and that’s to leave it all out on the course. Honestly, I feel like today I gave 110%, not just 100%. That extra 10% was complete mental energy and will to finish. The other part: this marathon brought back that extra excitement I’ve missed for a year or two!

Saturday morning the folks and I loaded up the car and off to DC we went! Upon arrival, it was expo time. MCM has one of the better expos in my opinion. Maybe Chicago’s is bigger. Anyway, picked up my bib and shirt (pretty powder blue this year) and did some damage: new pair of tights and got the headphones they fit for your ear (they work! I wore them the whole marathon).

Saturday night we met up with nyflygirl, MF (and a couple of her friends), AL at Faccia Luna for dinner. Note: ate there 4 years ago too:)

Finally, race morning. I went with my Penn State singlet, blue brooks shorts and the Mizuno Inspires. I had my peanut butter and bagel with gatorade to fuel up. This is really when I realized what battle I was preparing for. All that work, comes down to this 26.2…

I met nyflygirl and MF in the lobby at 5:55 to head to the shuttle. Weather was cool but not cold. Dare I say it:almost perfect! The marines were helping to load the buses which *shocker* helped keep chaos far away;) This is one of many things I love about this race: organization!

We got to runners village and there were runners everywhere. A different vibe than NYCM but pretty cool. We hung out until about 7:20 and headed to the start.

This is where I have a major beef. They have a “be honest” lineup. Now I understand marines are honest but a lot of runners LIE! I am looking to BQ and seconds matter. In my corral, which I was pretty honest with nyflygirl, there were runners with 5:00, 4:30 and 4:45 pace bands on! Listen, I have no issues with you running for CRYING out loud line up correctly! When I did it 4 years ago, they based on predicted finish (and you had to give actual times ran).

After a flyover by some nifty expensive paid by tax payer marine aircraft, the cannon went off and it was time to go. I knew it was my day. You know that zone feeling? Yep, I felt it. I knew it. Felt like I did here in 05. A special day ahead.

The first mile was a complete clusterf**k. I had to deal with all those people in wrong corrals. (They should consider wave starts to ease the crowding too). Right away I felt like I was in the zone. You know that feeling that takes over you where nothing will get in your way? That was me yesterday.

Nyflygirl took off about a mile in and I settled into my 8:15-8:17 pace. My goal was to run a 1:47-1:48 half and give a bit of a buffer to get that elusive 3:40. Finally at mile 2 things started to clear up a bit but I was still passing walkers? Wtf? I didn’t remember the course being as hilly but honestly I do better with change of elevation courses. Plus, this was MY DAY. MY DAY. Nothing was going to stop me from getting to that finish line.

Things were sailing along as I passed my parents around mile 4 and again at mile 10. I think they were surprised to see me but I took that as a good sign, no? Around mile 12 I got a small side stitch but took a few deep breaths and poof – gone. Again, very calm relaxed and going with it. It was if something had taken over my body today – very surreal experience.

As I emerged from Haines Point (nowheresville of the marathon) I knew the heavy crowd support of the mall was near. And another passing of my parents. Life was good. Mile 16 came and I was still feeling great. Could it be? Could this be the day? I didn’t let a doubt cross my mind – this was MY DAY.

As I got to the end of the mall stretch, I knew the vaunted bridge was ahead. It’s dead, isolated and head winds. Very bad news at mile 20. I was hoping to just push through it and kept a mental game of “what are you going to wuss out now?” That and having my ipod helped TREMENDOUSLY. “Desire” blazed as one of the songs which gave me an extra pep to my step – whatever a pep is for someone who’s starting to feel the effects of 20 miles! Mile 21 came and things started to fall apart a bit. It was pretty instant as all of a sudden my legs just wouldn’t respond. It was horrible – I was fighting but they just slowed down. I tried to put a good song on, eat some sport beans but nothing was working! It was a very rough 5k -and my splits show it. But I know what did it – the water stations had marines running the show. As I passed the mile 24 stand, a marine was yelling “COME ON PENN STATE! GET MOVING” and “GO GET IT”. I don’t know about you, but that’s awfully inspiring.

As I passed that station, I gave myself one last pep talk. It was a talk of you didn’t come this far to pack it in. You didn’t put 4 months of guts to train to pack it in. This is your time to shine. This is about YOU. This is for YOU. You have the support and they are all there. That last 2.2 miles was about thinking about all of the support I have – the runs that made me get here. Specifically my long tempo run with AU, my last tempoish run with T, and just all the voices of all of YOU cheering me on. I fought the urge to slow down and walk like no one’s business. I was not going to let 3:40 go without a fight. I don’t know the word quit and today was not going to be the day I learned about it. It was time to show why I run. Why I run LIKE I MEAN IT. Anyone can run a marathon, but not everyone RUNS LIKE THEY MEAN IT. I was going to leave it all out on the course. If I didn’t get there, it wasn’t from lack of heart and guts from me.

As I got to mile 25 and looked at my watch, I knew it was going to be unbelievably close. Like seconds close. Still I fought on. I passed Arlington Cemetery on my left and thought about all of those that gave the ultimate sacrifice for this great country. Now if they can do that, I certainly can suck up another mile or so. Finally I could start to hear the music and cheers at the finish line. As I ran, my hat started to fall off but fortunately my braid caught it! I knew that last hill was coming and gave my legs one final pep talk to get up that friggin’ hill. As I came upon the hill I tried to look up and imagine getting back to flat ground. This was my race. All 26 miles 385 yards of it. No stopping now.

As I emerged the hill, I gave it everything I had the final straight away. I even managed to pass people somehow. I crossed the finish line and clicked my garmin: 3:41:07. Are you shitting me was my first thought? Holy crap. Then it was well it’s a HUGE PR. And thank gawd I’m not running another step because I don’t think I could have.

Overall, I’m very proud of my performance. It would have been easy for me to pack it in and run a 3:44 or something. But I refused to lose. I refused to let my body decide over my mind. My day was not being ruined by physical. If I was going to lose my mind and body would have to go. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever. I run like I MEAN IT. The day I don’t is the day I stop running. Don’t expect that anytime soon.

I guess for me it was my way of saying “HELLO RUNNING WORLD I’M BACK!” I’ve learned that quantity does not trump quality. I ran no more than 3-4x a week with a couple crosstraining days. Last year I was running 50-60 miles a week and felt burnt out. A terrible feeling without the results. Note to self: know your body and work with it – it will do the rest for you.

Yesterday was pretty much a celebration of the effects of training to the best of my abilities this year. I’m proud of me. To go from a 2 hour half at the end of May to a 3:41 FULL marathon is nothing to sneeze at. I don’t care if it was lack of training – that’s a lot of ground to cover in a matter of months. Imagine what’s to come with training. Scary, isn’t it? I guess I hope to all of you reading it helps you go that extra step or mile in whatever you do. Because I can tell you first hand, mind over matter wins everytime.

Thanks to everyone that supported me through my journey. I couldn’t have done it without you and I can’t wait to conquer again. Oh and if anyone finds what I left out in Washington DC, you can return it to Brooklyn;)

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4:06:14. Enough said.  The one saving grace?  I did not get a PW, personal worst.  Chicago has not been kind to marathon runners the past two years.  I can say whatever but it just didn’t happen last Sunday.  That’s all. 

The day began early with a 5am wakeup.  It started well with all of us pumped up and full of smiles.  Why not?  It’s a huge marathon and the culmination of all that running.  As a sign in Niketown said “Sunday is really a victory lap.”  As we walked to Grant Park, other runners joined us and I began to get my feelings for the race together.  I sported my PSU singlet and race ready shorts with the yellow hat.  No need for a sweatshirt as it was 67 degrees as we headed over.

7:30am came and I headed over to my corral.  The gun went off and within 2:30 mins I was crossing the start line and descending on the city of Chicago.  I knew EV was out there cheering as well as one of my clients.  I tried to envision breaking the race down into small chunks to get to my cheering support.

What do I remember from the race?  I remember seeing EV 3x including by the finish line!  I remember Boystown and the guy cheerleaders!  I remember the Mexican section of town.  The cowbells!  Chinatown.  The people that had bags of ice at about mile 22 (lifesavers as temps rose to the mid 80s!). 

Well there is a second thing.  I’ll take the opportunity to state that I have signed up for the Philadelphia Marathon on November 23.  Whether or not this is a smart decision, we’ll see.  I will say I’m not as beat up as I was after Steamtown last year.  I knew at about mile 10 it wasn’t my day so it became a standard 26.2 training run through Chicago.  When I realized 3:40 wasn’t happening, I slowed because would I rather miss by 6 minutes or 26 with the chance to try again? 

That’s all I’ve got on this one.  There’s not a great story to tell and I don’t want to talk about a “training” run any further.  See you in Philly!

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