Devil’s Chase 6.66 Miler

After two weeks off, I raced again. And this time it was fun.

Just before the half I was convinced to run the Devil’s Chase 6.66 mile race. Honestly, it didn’t take much convincing. A bunch of friends do it every year and really I run to hang out with runners and bask in the glory of the finish line so it was an easy yes.

The race is in Salem, MA which goes cray cray in October because of the witch trials from 16-whatever. Or maybe it’s 17-whatever. Personally, I don’t really get the obsession and have never had any desire to visit Salem to celebrate Halloween. But I have friends that live there now and invited us to run the race and then eat/drink at their house all day. Yay Christine and Ryan on their new place (even with all the Cardinals stuff – GO SOX!) and OMG the baked french toast and adobo. I’ve now been spoiled and will expect a shower and a feast after every race. Please and thank you.

The race itself was in Salem. At 8 AM. In late October. That meant leaving Boston at 6:15 (Ok. 6:30. Kate and I are never on time to anything). It was pitch black and below 32 degrees. We joked about picking up our numbers, hiding in the car until near the end, and then sneaking into the finish. Of course we would never be dishonest like that. But the car! It was so toasty inside. And decidedly not toasty outside. At the start we ran into the one of the other cars of friends and headed in for packet pick up. There was frost on the ground. FROST! Gross. I wasn’t sure if we would head back to the car before the race started so I peeled off my warm layer before we walked over. Mistake. Not race ruining mistake, I just had to stand around freezing my buns off for a half hour. And still went back to the car to drop off stuff anyways. Whatevs. Lesson learned.

The actual race? Not too bad. The course is beautiful and the race was nearly the perfect size. And while I still came in pretty close to the back, I didn’t come in last. I didn’t come in last in my age group either. And. AND! I passed a lady in the final mile. If I hadn’t cramped in my ribs for all of the last mile I would have chicked a dude. Damn rubs and theirĀ insistenceĀ on being comfortable and ‘able to breathe’. Plus, I upped my intervals to 8:1 which gives me hope for a good race at the Feaster Five on Thanksgiving. And I trimmed quite a lot off my half marathon pace. Nearly 1:24 a mile. Yes, I ran my half slower because there was a lot more race, but this was still 6.66 miles; not insignificant. I did almost get lost at one point, but someone pointed me in the right direction. Also, there was a big ass hill running up to mile 5. Ok. Not really that big, but on a mostly flat course and that far into the race it seemed a bit beastly. I had 3 minutes left on an interval. And I kept going. And ran up the whole. damn. hill. Eff yeah! And on top of it all, the course sort of loops in and out several times so I got to see a bunch of my friends that were running and are super faster than I am. Plus all the costumes. Nearly everyone dressed up – most as devil’s, some as other things. I wish I had put together something, but I just wrapped up on of the biggest work projects of my life on Thursday and didn’t really feel like taking the time to put a costume together. Next year. Next year it will be epic.

I will add. Right after my half my body hurt, and though I finished, I sort of wasn’t completely pleased with my result and I wasn’t sure I would be able to commit myself to more training to try again in a few months/next fall. I knew I had this race coming and yet I didn’t run. I elipticaled and weight lifted but I didn’t run. With my better result yesterday I’m looking forward to lacing up my shoes and getting back out there. If only it wasn’t getting dark at 4:45PM starting next week…stupid late fall/winter. But that’s a post for another day.

Hearts and moar running

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I ran a half marathon and finished to tell about it

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Look! A new home. I’ll get into why the move another time. For now, here’s my Half Marathon race recap. Half. Marathon! What?!

It’s done. I did.it.

I. Am. A. Half. Marathoner! And it feels a little gangsta.

Most runners will tell you that during a race they think it’s the worst thing ever. And then 30 seconds, 10 minutes, or 2 hours after the finish they are already set to sign up for their next race. For me, with this distance, this feeling took three days to set in.

Let’s start at the beginning. Saturday night Jennie’s sister and bro-in-law had us over for a spaghetti dinner, keeping the Sox game on in the background (priorities, people). Dinner was great, company was excellent, and they were totally on board with my plan to just not think about the race in any way, shape, or form. Except to talk about what time to meet and where Molly and Andy would try to spectate.

Sunday dawned dark and rainy. And though I don’t want to ever run in hours of pouring, gushing rain, I’d rather it be a gray sort of rainy day than warm and sunny. Driving to and from dinner Saturday night and driving to the race on Sunday took me over a lot of the roads I’ve been training on and it gave me a little boost.

Race morning

Race morning

Once in Harwich I hit up the porta potty and then headed into the gym for registration. I saw Jennie on the way in and dropped my stuff with her to go grab my bib. On the way back over Shanna came running up to say hi. Shanna and Jennie are my two biggest fellow runner supporters so it was particularly special to have them both there. We hung around for a bit, hit up the porta potty again, stretched, and then headed to the starting area. For some reason I thought this was a huge race. Instead it was only about 700 people. I was sort of panicing when Shanna gave me some advice. Run your own race. I was already in that general mental state but to hear someone say it out loud solidified my plan.

Jennie decided to run with me for my first interval but I needed to run slower if I was going to make it 13.1 miles so I sent her on her way. And began my own race. I knew I’d be slow. I knew I’d finish near the end of the pack. I thought for the first time, I might actually be last. But then I told myself to stop thinking about it. I was already 18 minutes into the race. Which meant I had at least run 1 mile. In an effort to not freak myself out, I covered the distance part of my watch with some bacon tape courtesy of Andy/Jennie

A re-enactment because I was too nervous at the start to remember to take a picture

A couple miles in, I knew I was in trouble. I had fueled correctly, but I had eaten it too close to race time. My stomach was too full. I didn’t have an upset stomach, but I could tell my body was working on digestion and not blood flow to my legs.

The race claims to be “rolling hills”. Rolling hills, my right foot. All we did was run uphill. It was a loop course. Elevation gain has to be zero. I still don’t believe my garmin elevation profile that says we ran down hill at mile 6.

LiesAll those hills were killing my spirit. And my legs. At mile 4 I tried to convince myself I had done a 9 mile training run. But that run was awful, so I was banking on mile marker 5. Because my 8 mile run had felt great. A little after mile 4, the woman that was behind me passed me. I was pretty sure there were only two people behind her. I was a little bummed she caught up, but I kept thinking “run your own race”. A few minutes later I saw her taking a gu out of her pack. So I ran up a little closer and opened my first Gu as well. We chatted for a minute and then she had a rock in her shoe so she stopped and I kept going. I figure she’d eventually pass me again, but I only got one more brief glance of her behind me until we were on the other side of the finish line. At mile 6 I started to think “One more mile and you’ll me more than halfway” but my race was getting ugly. Fast.My legs and hips hurt. I didn’t feel like I could catch my breath. And there wasn’t another person on the course. The volunteers were still out and were so very kind. Their clapping and smiles were a welcome sight and sound. But even those started to dwindle. I don’t remember much of mile 7. I do remember being stoked for mile 8. Mile 8 meant only 5.1 to go. 5.1 is not much. I’ve run 5+miles at least 7 or 8 times. 5 miles is not a scary distance. And just around the corner from mile 8 would be mile 9. And at mile 9 would be only 4.1 left. Which is only one mile more than a 5k. Mile 10 was the worst. I hit a wall and could not break through. My legs and hips hurt so bad when I ran but not when I walked, everything was cramping, the trucks were cleaning up the cones so now I was out on a road by myself and I was passed by the two people that had stayed far behind me for a long time. And one of them was a dude in cargo shorts and barefoot. I told myself to block it out and just run my own race. His wife then offered me a granola bar. At that point I knew I needed salt. All I had was Gu. And the words granola bar make me only think about chewy sweet quaker granola bars so I said no. And then I thought “maybe they’d have something salty” so I asked. They had one of those nature valley crunch bars and though I’ve been warned to not try something new during a race, I was desperate. Everything was cramping. I didn’t feel like I had any water in me. I ate half and was so grateful to this couple as they pulled further and further away. I passed a porta potty during mile 10 and decided that was the last thing I needed. 5 minutes later I had to pee so bad I thought I’d collapse. So I found some woods, waiting for the motorcycle cop that kept going by to go by again, and answered nature’s call. Classy.

I knew there was a big hill at mile 11. And I was hurting. I made a deal. I could walk the rest of mile 10 if after the mile 11 hill I got back to the 5:1 intervals I had used most of the day and most of training. And that’s exactly what I did. I had 2.1 left. Jennie told me once I hit the bike path I was home free. I gave in and pulled off the bacon tape. I was watching mile 11 move along. At the start of the bike path the volunteer there gave me directions for the end and said “it’s a couple miles down”. I was already at 11.6 and thought “it better not be 2 miles more!” I knew he was estimating and just took him at that. On the bike path, I was in the middle of the woods. I couldn’t keep up with 5:1 so I bumped it to 3:1. I put my head down and kept going. At the 12 mile mark and gave myself a pep talk. I was 1 mile. 5,286 feet. Approximately 2500 steps. I had started this in training. Counting my steps. It kept my mind off the pain and made the end that much more manageable. I queued up the amped up part of my playlist and just kept moving. Coming out of the bike path with 0.5 left Money for Nothing came on and as I was getting into the mindset of finishing strong, Andy came and met me. I was pretty sure it was him and as I got closer it was. He turned and started running with me. He told me where to turn and where the finish was. I walked for 1 more minute thinking I was going to have another third of a mile when I turned the corner. When we did and I realized how close it was, I guess I could have kept running. But I knew to start running before I turned. And there, down a tiny hill, at the turn for the finish were my friends. I guess my bright yellow shirt was helpful in finding me in the crowd, or up a quarter mile hill. Because they went crazy. The people on the course walking back to their cars clapped, they tossed out encouragement, and gave me smiles. I hit the corner for the finish and gave it everything I had left. Jennie has a shaky video of it. I just kept going, eyes half closed. At the finish the volunteers were breaking down the fencing. But one asked my name and they announced it just like all the other finishers.

In the gym was a little left over food and no one else. The finishers medals were missing but the two that had finished before me were on a hunt and finally found them. Shanna took it and put it around my neck for me. It was really nice to be surrounded by friends. And then I told them what I had thought for most of the race and what ended up being my facebook status. “what do you call the guy who graduates last from medical school? Doctor. What do you call the girl who finishes second to last at the race? Half marathoner”.

We then went to Friendly’s and I dove into salty greasy goodness. I took a picture, but no one needs to see that. Krystal couldn’t be at the race because of prior commitments, but she called me during my drive home and let me relive the whole race. Because that’s what best friends are for. Also for sending me some truly hilarious encouragement during the race. (thank you smart phone and several friends with text message jokes/cheers).

Finally at home, I showered, adviled, foam rolled, and then did legs up the wall with ice down my pants (on my hips). Hotness.

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I woke up the next morning and was a little sad about how slow I was, how long my final time was. But it’s what it is. I know I can do better, and I will. On Wednesday I decided to go and look at my runkeeper file again. And it was sort of awesome to see all those mile markers. I really did run 13.1 miles.

race map

I know that I hurt my back and was sideline for more than a month. I’ve gained a lot of weight in the last 6 months. And I didn’t train as hard as should have because I was busy with other stuff and didn’t give it the right priority. Still. At the end of Sunday I had a new medal and a new PR. Turns out Jennie and Shanna PR’d too! A fact I didn’t find out about until at home. I wish I had asked more about their races but I was pretty out of it and just wanted to be done the day.

I want to work on my fitness, me health, and my running and come back to this distance stronger and faster. It’ll happen again. And I would be shocked if it didn’t happen again in the next 10-12 months.

Hearts and half marathons PRs!

Finished, fed, and quite smelly.

Finished, fed, and quite smelly.

To distance run or not to distance run

I’m currently sitting on my bed, trying to get pumped up for my run. Actually I’m feeling okish in terms of pumped level. Really I’m sitting here to charge my watch a little longer.

I should have run 10 miles last weekend. I did not. I should have run 11 miles yesterday. I did not. I’m running tonight. I hate saying this, but I’m not particularly excited about my race this weekend. The truth is, I’ve discovered, any distance longer than 8 miles? I’m not into it. Not. At. All.  It just takes so much time. And it’s not just the time running. On long run days, you have to think about your long run for almost 48 hours. There’s the day before where you have to watch what you eat and drink. There’s the day of where you have to watch what you eat and drink magnified x10 because now you have to worry about when and how much. Then there’s the getting dressed. I have to put on body glide and make sure I have exactly the right clothes and my shoes are tied correctly and I have a spare breathing strip and water and should I bring long sleeves because the sun is going to go down and I have to pack gels and all this other stuff. Then you run. And that takes forever and the whole time it hurts and the whole time you have to mentally fight yourself to not quit. And then you’re done and your legs are dying and you’re starving. But that doesn’t give you carte blanche to eat whatever you want. Because you have to eat enough so you won’t starve the next day, but not so much that you completely negate all the work she just did. Then you stretch and foam roll and ice and compression sock. And then 5.5 days later you start again. Maybe someday when I’m in better shape and running is easier I’ll find the appeal. But right now my running fitness is less than stellar. And so every step is a battle. And even when I finish my runs all I feel is mentally drained – not energized because I accomplished something. So why do this to myself? I wanted to do this. And I will give it my all on Sunday, I really will. But I don’t think my heart will be in it.

I paused this blog post to go run. Because my watch was charged enough and if I didn’t go then, I really wasn’t going to have much sun. And then look what happened.

Yeah. That’s 10 mile markers right there. 10! And you know what? I didn’t have a single freak out. I didn’t have to stop and give myself a pep talk. Truth be told, some of it was actually kind of fun. And I ran all of the last 0.65 miles. And when I finished, in the middle of Boston Common, I felt like my body was going to explode with happiness. I’m trying to figure out why I didn’t have a problem tonight and had such a miserable time the last two weeks trying for long runs. There’s was the 9 miler that nearly broke me – heart, body, and soul. And the 10 miler that just wasn’t – after two attempts. And there are two things I’ve found for tonight and I think it’s more one than the other. 1) I listened to an old playlist so some of the songs were nice surprises – songs I haven’t heard in a while. But then I ended on a playlist I’ve been using a lot. Which is why I think it has more to do with 2) I made a huge effort to not look at the distance on my watch until the last 2 miles or so. And then it was only because I was hurting and had to keep telling myself “it’s only 2 miles. It’s only 1.5 miles. It’s only 1 mile. It’s 0.65 miles. That’s only 8 more minutes of running max. Just grind it out”. (And I did. Squeeeeeeee) I have to look at my watch frequently to check my time for intervals. Early on if I keep running past the interval, I’ll regret it later. And later if I don’t have the interval, I’ll give up too easy. I think on Sunday I’m going to cover the top half of my watch with lab tape so I can’t keep looking. There are mile markers on the course and I won’t need to know when I hit 13.1 miles. The finish line should clue me in.
After that great of a run I’m feeling optimistic and sort of excited about Sunday now. I still don’t see another distance race any time in the next few months and my dream of running Boston on my birthday will just have to hold tight for another 6 years. But as I was running all through the city tonight I had some really unbelievably fortunate moments. I saw the city skyline from three bridges and one of them revealed the skyline a little at a time until finally the Citgo sign peaked out, I ran along the Charles and “Dirty Water” randomly came up on my playlist, I ran over the Arthur Fielder foot bridge, I ran around the pond in the public garden, rubbed Mama Duck’s head for good luck, ran through the Common, Downtown Crossing, the Rose Kennedy Greenway, Rowes Wharf and along the harbor for two blocks, up past the Old South Meeting House and Fanueil Hall and finally up Beacon Hill (Jennie how in the HELL do you and Sheri do hill repeats up that hill every week???????). All through the second half of the run there was one thing that kept popping in my head and kept me going. Somewhere back in the Public Garden, I was starting to feel the burn. I was at 6 miles. I was more than half way. I only had about another hour of running. But I just wanted to go home. And I had this thought. I am so privileged to be able to walk out my front and run along all these iconic and historic sites. There are a thousand other things I ran by and haven’t even mentioned. And each one makes Boston so distinct. And I love them all.
I guess, what I’m saying is this. Right now, I don’t love distance running. I don’t have the mental space for it. But I do still love running. And I am head over heels in love with running in this city. I want to take you all with my sometime. And show you the views. It’s spectacular. We’ll just keep it to 5 or 6 miles.
For now I’m going to sit on my bed with two ice bags, a heating pad, compression socks, and that glorious, glorious Nuun and then pass out shortly, I’m sure.
Hearts and double freakin’ digits!