My first red mark and approximately 17 others things that are more like 6 but I have runner’s brain and can’t math

I bailed on a race on Sunday. Thoroughly and completely. My 2 mile runs for the last two weeks have been abysmal and because running is such a mental game, I was afraid I would take too long to get over finishing in the bottom 10 people again and my training would get off to a lackluster start. Sunday’s race was 5 miles. 5k I would have slogged through. But 5 miles was too much. Going through the week, I was trying to psych myself up for it. I was racing with a lot of friends and I didn’t want to be a quitter in front of all of them. Last Thursday I tried to run 3 miles. I ran 1.6. I was at the gym with Jennie who is healing from injury (like a boss, I might add) and was biking. I walked over to where she was. She took one look at my face and asked “shit show?”. And I said “The shittiest of shit shows.” So she told me to get my butt on the bike and sweat it out. Pulling out my best insolent teenager act, I sat and pouted through 30 minutes. The next day Jennie emailed and basically told me that no one would judge if I didn’t run. And if it ruined my mental game that would be bad. I was still on the fence and finally decided Sunday morning I wouldn’t run, I would spectate. Still I left the house very slowly and didn’t get over there until the race was over. I was pretty upset over the whole day – wishing I was one of the runners – and very nearly regretted going. But once I found my people and just hung out, it was worth the trip over. I was upset enough that I really didn’t take pictures. Promise it happened.

That red mark is going to sit there until early November, staring at me. Reminding me that when I say I’m going to train I should just suck it up and for the love of Christmas just get out there. Based on all this, I made a decision to step back a couple weeks in my training. I swore I wouldn’t move around workouts, but I think it’s totally fine to move back in the program. Because if I’m about to survive 5 months of training it has to be fun (at least sometimes – occasional bad runs are inevitable). Last year after my back stopped hurting and I started up training again I started too far into the training and it wasn’t fun. Every run. For almost three months. I’ve got the time in my schedule. Really I cut into the 5 week gap I had in the middle and put two more weeks at a shorter interval at the front. I think I did the right thing. I think I’ll enjoy these runs and they’ll give me the training kick in the butt I need to make LA the funnest fun it can be.

There’s the week. And the damn red mark. But look at all the green!

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I had my first park-at-Herter-Park-and-run-along-the-Charles runs of the season. Really I should just keep running through the winter but I was in such an epic funk this winter that I didn’t. I will say this. I forgot how freakin’ high those bridges climb! And how tiny they look on RunKeeper after. I promise you they feel eternally uphill huge. Despite that, it was still nice to be back out there. Cool down stretches, however, were a challenge. The Canadian geese are migrating back north and are pooping near every. single. waterway. Trunk blanket to he rescue! Can we talk about how magical it is that my trunk supplies are now a blanket, sweatshirt, and beach chair instead of a shovel, snow brush, and bigger snow brush? All the magical.

Side note on this amazing weather. I talk a lot about hating the cold, but Boston this weekend? I can’t even begin to describe how unicorn rainbow sprinkles on top fabulous it was. Saturday I went to meet some family visiting from Michigan and walking down the Comm. Ave median park under trees with bright green new leaves and fading flower buds under an almost painfully blue sky was something I’ll look back at next January. Theoretically. I’ll probably still swear a lot. My love for the John Hancock Tower knows no bounds. And so I take a lot of pictures of it. But look. Look at that blue sky!!

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Ok. Back to running. Last week I was mad. I left my Garmin charging all day but when I went to use it the next day, the battery was dead. I brought it to work to charge Monday and after having it plugged in for an hour I checked – still “low battery” I had noticed some black on the back of it but I had figured it was dirt. Turns out if you write on your arm and then put your watch on and then sweat/have 1500 cups of water spilled on you (ooh. I still owe a how-to-work-a-marathon-water-stop-in-a-million-easy-steps post) the marker smudges and effs up the contacts on the watch. Luckily for me, I work with science! and we have alcohol wipes left, right, and center. A quick clean up and problem solved.

After my pretty good run I had allllll the energy and did some laundry, finally washing all my running clothes at once instead of sneaking them in loads here and there. I know that can be bad for the fabrics but I HATE laundry and thinking anything about it was too much. I’m trying to take better care of my things and not just shove all these tech fabrics into the dryer. Problem: I don’t have a drying rack. Solution? Make one. Any tool can be the right tool (that’s a throw back to my childhood watching the Red Green Show with step dad John). Right now my clothes are drying on a) my reconditioned steamer trunk (thanks John!) b) the bendable arm of my standing light c) the thumb switch of said light d) my towel and bathrobe hooks e) the top of my empty (thanks to runner’s energy cleaning) trashcan f) a rolled up and stood on its end yoga mat g) my pop-up tail gating tent (packed up into its bag thingy) and the pièce de résistance h) a ski pole. I was like Oprah and my clothes were free cars.

Methinks it’s time for a trip to the Tar-jay.

Just 12 hours later; le sigh. I have committed to not packing a gym bag in the morning because I always end up at the gym at work with no post workout non sweaty underwear or un-moused hair or no work shoes. Despite being sleepy and wanting my bed real real bad Monday night, I packed a bag. Tuesday morning I kicked my workout’s ass. I mean, after I was done with it, it wasn’t even recognizable to its mother. And after a good run on Monday I was riding a sweet sweet high. A high that came crashing down when I discovered I had no shampoo or soap. So I turned on the shower and then holding my towel with one hand, I fill the other with the foamy hand soap from the sinks (glamorous!) and then getting in the shower, held that hand above me while I rinsed off and then soaped up. There was no WAY I was putting that in my curls, so my hair just got wet and then went to work dirty. I’ve been doing this workout before work thing almost a whole year. I have a toiletry bag I keep in my gym bag. And even before that, I did this occasionally. So WTH?? In my defence, I changed bags for the summer and forgot to move it. Still. Total and complete #epicfail . This also explains the extra shot coffee that made it’s way to Instagram this week. Because sometimes – lots of coffee.

Hearts and I don’t know, random stuff

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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 their insistence 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

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.